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Archive for September, 2009

September 29th, 2009

Apology From ABC In 3…2…1…Never…

The other day, while Judy Shepard, the mother of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard, was giving a talk about hate crimes, a man rose from the audience to call her a liar

About 45 minutes in, a man rose and asked a question that amounted to repeating a current popular right-wing lie – Matthew Shepard was killed because his killers were high and wanted to rob him; his sexual orientation was irrelevant. Mrs. Shepard refuted the claim – pointing out that in one of the killer’s confessions, he admitted they acted because of Shepard’s sexual orientation; the other, in his statement in court, admitted the same. Neither men tested positive for drugs or alcohol after Matthew’s murder. The interlocutor asserted at this point that she was lying and doing a disservice to history by lying about the reasons for her son’s murder. To my eyes, Judy Shepard appeared visibly upset by the man’s accusations. He claimed to be relying on a report from 20/20…

Ah yes…the 20/20 whitewash.  That gift to America’s bigots that keeps on giving…

“The Matthew Shepard Story: Secrets of a Murder,” which aired Nov. 26, promised shocking new information about the case. But it contained mostly speculation, scandalous details, unreliable new witnesses and revised confessions. The premise of the report by Elizabeth Vargas was that McKinney attacked Shepard during a robbery under the influence of crystal meth and that the murder had nothing to do with the victim’s sexuality…

Vargas went out of her way to show that McKinney and Henderson did not hate gay people. She questioned previous reports that characterized them as “rednecks” (her word), and tells viewers that in fact they had steady jobs and girlfriends. Vargas reported that Shepard’s friends promoted the hate crime theory in the days following the attack…

Emphasis mine.  I’ve written about the hacktacular 20/20 piece before.  But it is best summed up by Rob DeBree, the lead investigator on the case…

In his confession to DeBree, McKinney had denied using meth the day of the murder, and while McKinney had been arrested too late for the police to confirm this through blood testing, DeBree felt certain that McKinney had for once told the truth.  Obviously it’s unsurprising that the lead investigator would disagree with the defense, but DeBree had some compelling reasons on his side.  "There’s no way" it was a meth crime, DeBree argued, still passionate about the issue when I met him nearly six months after the trial had ended.  No evidence of recent drug use was "found in a search of their residences.  There was no evidence in the truck.  From everything we were able to investigate, the last time they would have done meth would have been two to three weeks previous to that night.  What the defense attempted to do was a bluff."  Meth crimes do have hallmarks.  One, "Overkill," certainly seems to describe what happened to Matt, but no others so seamlessly fit that night: "A meth crime is going to be a quick attack," DeBree pointed out.  "It’s going to be a manic attack…  No.  This was a sustained event.  And somebody that’s high on meth is not going to be targeting and zeroing in on a head, and deliver the blows that they did in the way that they did," with such precision.  "Consistently it was targeted, and even if you’re drunk, you’re going to have a tough time trying to keep your target.  No.  There’s absolutely no involvement with drugs."

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 133 – 134

A week after we met in his office, Rob [DeBree] took me to the crime scene.  As we drove out to the fence in a Sheriff’s Office SUV, he stopped in mid-sentence by the Wal-Mart"  "Here’s where it began," he told me and gestured in imitation of McKinney striking Matt.  We restart the conversation, but he’s made his point: the drive to the fence seems unimaginably long.  It’s not far – no more then a mile or two – but the rutted dirt road they turned on to makes for extremely slow driving.  When I say something to Rob about how long it takes, he agrees.  "They were coming here to finish him."  On that dirt track, it is hard to believe the defense attorney’s claims that the two killers had been drunk or high on drugs or crazed by homosexual panic.  It just takes too long to get to the fence…

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 155 – 156

"I have never worked a homicide with this much evidence," Rob says, all these months later a bit of wonder still bleeding into his voice.  "It was like a case of God giving it to us.  I’m not kidding.  The whole way it broke down from the beginning to the end – it was like, here it is, boys: work it.  It’s almost like it pissed off God, and he says, oh well, come here, let me walk you over here, walk you over there, pick up all this, pick up all that.  It was just a gift.

Beth Loffreda,  Loosing Matt Shepard.  pg 157

I drove that same path when I was in Laramie, to the extent I was able to before coming upon all the "private property signs", and that same impression swept over me like a cold clammy sickness.  You simply cannot drive the path that Shepard’s killers took and come away from it believing that it was simply a robbery gone bad.  Unless of course, that is what you need to believe. 

Considering the sorry state of American journalism, to say the 20/20 piece represented a new low is almost complementary.  But historically it is unremarkable.  Since the 1950s, mainstream American journalism has always excused anti-gay violence, usually by blaming the victim.  ABC didn’t so much sink to a new low, as pound some well worn territory.  There is no violent anti-gay hatred in America, only homosexuals who go too far and suffer the consequences.  That is what the news media in this country believes, if not on the beat, then without a doubt in the boardroom.

But now the creators of The Laramie Project have returned to their work to write an epilogue.  And in the process they’ve interviewed one of the killers, Aaron McKinney…

"As far as Matt is concerned, I don’t have any remorse," McKinney is quoted as saying in the script, which was provided to The Associated Press by the production company.

McKinney, according to the script, reiterates his claim that the 1998 killing in Laramie, Wyo., started out as a robbery, but makes clear that his antipathy toward gays played a role.

"The night I did it, I did have hatred for homosexuals," McKinney is quoted as saying. He goes on, according to the script, to say that he still dislikes gays and that his perceptions about Shepard’s sex life bolstered his belief that the killing was justified.

Emphasis mine.  But wait…there’s More

According to the script, McKinney expresses empathy with Shepard’s parents over the loss of their son, though he adds about Judy Shepard: "Still, she never shuts up about it, and it’s been like 10 years."

Gaze for a moment, if you have the nerve, into that utterly empty heart and then contemplate this fact: mainstream American news publishers, editors, owners, that rarefied media club of old boy straight male testosterone, still believes, 40 years after Stonewall, decades into the gay community’s struggle for equality here in America, that gay kids like Matthew Shepard are less a normal part of American society then this cold blooded killer is.  The killer they can understand.  They don’t approve of what he did that night, but they understand him.  The gay kid they simply cannot.  He was flaunting it.  He was coming on to someone who was disgusted by homosexuals.  He should have known better.  He brought it on himself.  In the end, when all the other excuses have withered away…it was a robbery gone bad…it was drugs…that knee-jerk understanding of McKinney’s disgust at homosexuals, that if Shepard hadn’t come onto him he would still be alive today, will remain, unmovable.

The media establishment does not regard homophobia as a problem because in the boardrooms, among the CEOs, media owners and big dollar producers, disgust is a normal reaction to homosexuality.  See it here, in this article on 10 Sexual Controversies That Changed TV… 

With everything from the new Melrose Place to trashy Twilight knockoffs, the new Fall TV season promises steamy viewing. Hemlines may rise and morals may fall, but TV writers would do well to remember that presenting sex on network TV has always been a tricky business. Though we’ve come a long way since Ricky Ricardo knocked up Lucy, only to discover that the network censors wouldn’t let him say the word “pregnant,” it’s amazing how sensitive the suits still are to sex. Here are ten TV shows in which the sex lives of their characters dramatically changed the entire series, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Yet in one instance after another that the authors cite, it’s homosexuality that causes an uproar, not so much among the viewing audience, as in the boardroom.  Are you old enough to remember watching all of these TV shows and wonder why the gay characters never had lovers and somehow always ended up dating women…?

In the end, the network had it both ways, collecting their big ratings when everyone tuned in at the start to see what the fuss was about, then ordering that the creators downplay the sexy stuff and reshape the central storyline into a murder mystery. The worst damage was done to Crystal’s character, who attempted suicide in the hospital after being dumped by his boyfriend on the eve of his gender-reassignment surgery. He survived, but while the character continued to identify as gay, he never hooked up with another guy in the course of the series; instead, he had a quick fling with a woman, got her pregnant, and spent much of his remaining time on the show fighting for custody of his daughter…

…religious groups, rather than being impressed with Sidney’s anti-abortion bona fides, made such a stink about the idea of a gay man on TV that NBC delayed airing the pilot for a year, then insisted that Sidney be gelded. Apparently Sidney was so crushed by the death of his one male lover (whose photo on the mantelpiece watched over the action like a baleful ghost) that he could never date again. When, towards the end of the second season, he dipped one toe back into the dating pool, it was with a woman, as if he’d been on the shelf so long that he’d forgotten his orientation…

…Early ratings were shaky, and the CBS brass decided that it must have something to do with viewers being put off by threatening lesbian vibes. Though both characters were supposed to be straight, it was felt that when the two dark-haired, hard-edged actresses were seen in close proximity to each other, they looked like, in the words of an unidentified CBS executive, “a couple of dykes.” It was decided that the best way to solve the problem was to fire Foster and replace herwith the blonde Sharon Gless, who, according to some mysterious executive calculation, was judged more Malibu Beach than Isle of Lesbos…

…Coming at the end of an episode, the kiss was tantamount to a cliffhanger; it all but guaranteed that slack-jawed viewers would tune in next week. Those who did got to see Donohoe deliver a back-pedaling speech about how she liked both men and women equally and would be happy just to be friends if that’s what her new friend preferred, while Greene “considered” exploring a new side of herself before deciding that, nope, she wouldn’t be going there…

The show had a resident good-looking gay guy — Matt Fielding, played by Doug Savant — who, in contrast to the juicy goings-on by the hormonally deranged straight people all around him, seemed almost pathologically stable. When Matt was permitted to enjoy an on-screen kiss with a man, the network edited it out of the program before allowing the episode to be broadcast, though they had no problem with having him gay-bashed on camera, twice

…As the show neared its seventh season, there was a persistent and widespread rumor that the youngest Connor child, D.J., was going to announce he was gay. It never happened — the big surprise of the season premiere turned out to be that Roseanne herself was pregnant again…

In 2005 the Hollywood establishment fled from Brokeback Mountain into the comforting arms of Crash, a self-serving story about racism in Los Angles, so John Wayne wouldn’t be rolling in his grave.  Next year saw a remake of 3:10 to Yuma, with an added psychotic homosexual killer subtext that wasn’t in the original.  Of course the psychotic homosexual killer is himself killed in the film’s climax, to avenge the heterosexuality of the hero.  So the establishment returns again and again to its comfort food:  Homophobia isn’t a problem, homosexuality is.  Disgust toward homosexuals is both natural and normal.  It is only when homosexuals flaunt it that things get violent and that is simply to be expected.

20/20 didn’t do a story about why Matthew Shepard was murdered, it did a story about why anti-gay hate coudn;t possibly have had anything to do with it.  And if you think this latest confession from his killer changes that you aren’t paying attention.  McKinney’s disgust and acid loathing are understood and shared throughout the media establishment, and so they see nothing out of the ordinary.  It merely confirms for them that essential truth that it was Shepard’s being open about his homosexuality that got him killed.  If you are a homosexual and you are open about it then you bring it on yourself.  You should have known better.  In the old media boardrooms that’s not considered hate, but merely a fact of life.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Apology From ABC In 3…2…1…Never…

September 9th, 2009

And Another…

Via Towleroad…

Florida Megachurch Dumps Pepsi Over its Positions on Gay Issues

The Bell Shoals Baptist megachurch in Brandon, Florida is making headlines for carting 10 Pepsi machines out of its premises and replacing them with machines from Coca-Cola, because, they say, Pepsi donated to Prop 8, sponsors Gay Pride parades, and runs ads that cater to homosexuals.

Your church had ten soft drink vending machines in it?  Wow.  What else you got in there… A Chick Fil A?  A swimming pool?  Oh…I see you have an online Store!  Very nice…

Oh look at all the microphone stands that came to church on Sunday.  

Church is such a…different experience from when I was a little Baptist boy…


Very different.  So…is that really a church or is it a sports arena?  Do you have hockey games Sunday nights?  Is Coca-Cola served?


[Update…]  Dan Savage shares my astonishment at the lovely modern amenities now available to customers of today’s modern luxury MegaChurches…


by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

Tales From The Book Of Virtue…Conservative Republican Edition…

Here’s another reason why I want to disappear into Disney World for a while…

GOP Lawmaker’s Graphic Sex-Bragging Caught On Tape

Michael Duvall is a conservative Republican state representative from Orange County, California. While waiting for the start of a legislative hearing in July, the 54-year-old married father of two and family values champion began describing, for the benefit of a colleague seated next to him, his ongoing affairs with two different women. In very graphic detail.

For instance:

She wears little eye-patch underwear. So, the other day she came here with her underwear, Thursday. And
 so, we had made love Wednesday–a lot! And so she’ll, she’s all, ‘I am going 
up and down the stairs, and you’re dripping out of me!’ So messy!

Oh how lovely.  Haven’t I already seen this movie? 

As the OC Weekly reports, 
Duvall has "blasted" efforts to promote gay marriage, and got a 100 percent score from the Capitol Resource Institute, which describes its mission as to "educate, advocate, protect, and defend family-friendly policies in the California state legislature". In March, a spokeswoman for the group called Duvall "a consistent trooper for the conservative causes," adding that "for the last two years, he has voted time and time again to protect and preserve family values in California."

See…this kind of thing is funny for a while (oh look at what just popped out of another conservative’s closet…!), but then it gets so soul wearying.  I really need to remember that morality and values and honor and decency really do represent more in our lives then convenient hooks to drive the rubes to the polls with…that there is more to the human status then this runt represents. 

People need to look…really look…at what’s motivating all those moral crusaders of the right, waving scarecrows bearing their neighbor’s faces.  They’re just pushing your buttons because they know it works.  And why is that?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Tales From The Book Of Virtue…Conservative Republican Edition…

Why I Am Disappearing Into Disney World For A While..

Starting…uh…well, right now actually…I’m going on a wee vacation.  My birthday is Saturday and I am going to spend a week in Disney World.  I’ve got a room inside the enclave, in The Caribbean…one of the middle-tier resorts.  I’ve stayed there before and it is lovely.  It’s also well located, almost right in the middle of the enclave, to get to everything. My plan is to go through the gates and forget about the world outside for a week.

Here’s why…

On The Road With Orly

by digby

Esquire has a great story about the conservo-crazy cult which he colorfully describes as "pus exploding from a wound." When you read the article, you’ll see just how apt this description is. Here’s just a little excerpt:

Almost immediately following the election, a rash of extreme but nonetheless important statements about Obama and his agenda started appearing in the media. Here’s a small but representative sample, lest we allow the latest Dobbsian rhetoric (or Chuck Norris) to obfuscate the chorus:

1. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the bailout was the start of America’s downfall. "To abandon a market-oriented society and transfer it to a Soviet-style, government-centered, bureaucratic-run and mandated program, that is the thing that will put the stake in the heart of freedom in this country."

2. Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas said that Obama intended "to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not kill it."

3. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas said that "socialism" was too mild a word for what Obama was doing because taking over corporations "adds a fascistic aspect to socialism."

4. Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said she wanted her constituents "armed and dangerous" because Obama was planning "re-education camps for young people." She also said that "Thomas Jefferson told us having a revolution every now and then is a good thing."

5. Ambassador Alan Keyes called Obama a communist who is trying to establish "an American KGB."

6. Rush Limbaugh Show guest host Mark Davis told a joke about a soldier who has only two bullets in his gun when he meets Osama Bin Laden, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi — and uses both bullets on Pelosi before strangling the other two.

7. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama put his considerable weight behind the "birther" movement: "His father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate."

8. Legislators in thirty states filed Tenth Amendment "sovereignty" laws as a symbolic gesture of defiance to Washington.

9. Tens of thousands of YouTubers watched a video called "Revolution Now," in which a masked man claiming to be a soldier and an "anonymous American patriot" warned of growing resistance within the military. "There’s a revolution brewing," he said. "We have allowed the tyrants to take over this country."

10. Seven percent of the country thought, at a time when the Republicans were almost unanimously resistant to everything the Democrats proposed, that the GOP was being too cooperative. That’s roughly 21 million seriously alienated people.

But nobody vibrated with the new sense of alarm more vividly than Fox’s new talk-show host, Glenn Beck. "The year is 2014. All the banks have been nationalized," he began one show. "Unemployment is about between 12 percent and 20 percent. Dow is trading at 2,800. The real-estate market has collapsed. Government and unions control most of business, and America’s credit rating has been downgraded."

In another, he sounded exactly like a militia member from the backwoods of Montana: "They’ll take away guns, they’ll take way our sovereignty, they’ll take away our currency, our money. They’re already starting to put all the global framework in with this bullcrap called global warming. This is an effort to globalize, to tie together everybody on the planet!"

Beck called for resistance and talked about storming Washington, selling T-shirts blazed with the pitchfork of an angry mob — and all of this led to startling success. Debuting last January in a weak 5 P.M. time slot, Beck shot to the No. 3 cable-news slot overnight, right behind Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity with 2.5 million viewers.

And all of this was nothing compared to the alarmed citizens raging away on his Web site:

* Obamacare meant that "bureaucrats are going to decide who lives and dies," one said.

* The new pro-union card check law was "possibly the greatest threat against American free enterprise ever," said another.

* People were "better off trusting their mattresses" than the greedy bankers, said another.

* There were "35 terrorist training camps spread across the U.S.A." that were run by Sheikh Gilani from Pakistan, said another.

* Homeland Security "deliberately ignores the border and the redistribution of wealth is NOT constitutional," said another.

* Others solicited signatures for a new "martial law early alert" system and suggested that people download a video that "completely destroys the myth that Barack Obama is working for the best interests of the American people."


Oh…and This

Militia groups with gripes against the government are regrouping across the country and could grow rapidly, according to an organization that tracks such trends.

The stress of a poor economy and a liberal administration led by a black president are among the causes for the recent rise, the report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says. Conspiracy theories about a secret Mexican plan to reclaim the Southwest are also growing amid the public debate about illegal immigration.

Bart McEntire, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told SPLC researchers that this is the most growth he’s seen in more than a decade.

"All it’s lacking is a spark," McEntire said in the report.

Swell.  Just swell.

I was saying all during the Bush years that the shit doesn’t really hit the fan until the kooks start Loosing power.  That’s when you’ll see the crazy start.  Well.  Here we are.





Swell.  Just swell.

I need to remind myself what the world looked like back when I was a kid. 

Especially these days. 

No, no…  Not merely cartoon mice and Mary Poppins.  But that world where the future was always going to be brighter, where technological progress made life better, not worse.  Where science and the pursuit of knowledge weren’t just good things, but great adventures.  Where you could smile at the stranger you passed on the street, and not have to wonder if they wanted to stab you in the back.  Where it really is a small world after all.  People forget that this is what Disney was all about once upon a time too.  I’d forgotten it until that first trip I took down to Orlando, and then it all came rushing back.  There was a world I was delighted to be living in…once.  I need to go visit it from time to time now, in my adulthood.

This isn’t an escape from reality.  This is reminding myself why the struggle for that better tomorrow is worth it.



by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why I Am Disappearing Into Disney World For A While..

September 7th, 2009

Have You Been Tested…?

Everyone should get tested.  Just saying…




by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Have You Been Tested…?

Geek Dreams

So I’m walking to class in one of my old Junior High Schools (they call them Middle Schools these days…).  The bad one.  The one I got bullied in so much I actually skipped out some days.  I had a hideout in the corner of one of the apartment building basements where the tenants could store things.  I’d found a storage bin that wasn’t being used and set up a bunch of big old cardboard boxes and some carpet and a flashlight in it, and brought in some books to read and on days when it was really bad I went and hid there until after school let out.  That was the only time in my life I ever skipped school, but some days it was just too much.  Surprisingly, nobody at the school ever questioned my occasional unexcused absences either.  In retrospect, it was of a piece with the administration’s lackadaisical attitude toward discipline.  Bullies at that school essentially had free reign.  Nobody was ever punished for picking on the smaller kids.  And sometimes I saw the smaller ones dragged into the principle’s office for fighting back.

Anyway…  So I’m walking to class in this Junior High School.  At least…I think it’s that one.  Something about it is different.  Odd.  The halls seem the same, and yet different somehow.  And then I realize I’m naked.  

You’ve all had this dream…right?  You’re in school and you’re naked and suddenly you realize that fact and you spend the rest of the dream dying of embarrassment.  I’m walking to class and I realize I’ve forgotten, somehow, to put my clothes on (maybe I’d just left gym class and forgot to dress after showering or something…) and now I’m trying hard to find my locker so I can put something on and then maybe…I dunno…flee the school or something.

But then I realize I’m dreaming and it gets odder.  Somehow I know that I’m dreaming and I’m walking in the geek wing of the school…where all the geek kids go.  And what is more, it’s the geek wing in a school where everyone goes when they’re dreaming about being back in school.  So I’m walking down the hall without a stitch on and trying not to make eye contact with anyone, and I see another kid walk past me the other way also trying not to make eye contact, and he’s only wearing his pajamas, and I’m thinking Okay…that kid’s having an "I’m in school in my pajamas" dream.  Then along comes another kid with her hair a really gross shade of green and I’m thinking She’s having her Bad Hair Day In School dream.  Another kid is struggling with his locker door and I think He’s having a Can’t Remember My Locker Combination And I Have A Final In Two Minutes dream

Eventually I get to the door to my classroom and I see a rack of towels beside it with a sign that says Naked Dream – Self Serve, and I grab one and wrap it around my waist, walk inside and sit down to take a test.  Nobody pays me the slightest attention as I walk to my desk.  After I woke up I couldn’t recall what the test was about.

My dreams get like this sometimes.  Really.  In some Twilight Zone dream school there is a wing where all the geek kids go to have their tormented dreams about school.  But the administration provides towels.  So maybe it’s where uncaring school principles and teachers are sent to try and make amends. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

September 4th, 2009

I Got My PhD At Marymount And My BS At The New York Daily News

Reader Chris sent me a link to a Slate article debunking the story of Roxanne Shante’.  Meanwhile the New York Daily News posts a correction… 

Correction: It has come to the attention of the Daily News that a number of statements in this article written for the Daily News by a freelance reporter are, or may be, false. Cornell University has told us that Shante did not receive any degree from it under either her birth or stage name. We have confirmed that prior to the article, at least four publications on Cornell’s own website reported that Shante had earned a Ph.D. from the university. Those references have now been removed. And in response to an inquiry today, Marymount College stated that Shante attended there for less than one semester.

Numerous e-mail and telephone inquiries by the freelance reporter to Marymount during the preparation of the article to confirm Shante’s account were not responded to. Finally, there have been recent media reports that there never was an education clause in Shante’s recording contract. When the reporter contacted Warner Brothers Records about the contract before the article, its only response was that it was having difficulty finding someone within the company who could "talk eloquently" about it.

Oh swell…now the music labels can claim they’re victimized by false stories about how badly they treat their artists.  Serves me right for taking a New York Tabloid Seriously. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Got My PhD At Marymount And My BS At The New York Daily News

September 3rd, 2009

Ice Cream And Taking Sides

I figured there would be yapping from the kook pews about Ben & Jerry’s limited edition "Hubby, Hubby" flavor.  But I should have seen this coming too

And though I agree with their sentiment, it’s a gloopy business when a company celebrates the election of a president with the flavour ‘Yes Pecan’. In an age when ice cream companies are melting away and reforming as purveyors of frozen yoghurt, is this dinky piece of homespun cheeriness really the best focus of the company’s efforts?

Ah, yes…the old Don’t We Have Better Things To Worry About sigh.  Followed up like night after day with…

That gay people should be able to get married seems to me a basic human right, and I admit that in a completely partisan way I was tempted to justify B&J’s action as part of the ongoing struggle against ignorance and fear. But what would I be thinking if a contrary point of view was being aired? I’d be first in line to denounce them as squalid influence peddlers, shamelessly meddlesome, shiveringly undemocratic tricksters.

Ice cream should be a relief from side-taking…

Yes.  And so should getting married.  So should taking your kids to the pool.  So should having lunch at the local diner.  So should a nice quiet stroll along the beach.  Life’s simple beautiful pleasures.  And next time you’re wondering why so many of life’s simple beautiful little pleasures have been turned into a scorched earth battleground, ask yourself what happens to any neighborhood, any community, any nation, when its people turn a blind eye to crime.

Because that’s what this is.  A bunch of low brow back alley, knuckle-dragging thugs are stealing all those beautiful simple life pleasures away from some of your neighbors.   In some ways it’s far more wounding then even those acts of outright violence against us.  Imagine how it is, to not even be able to walk down the street hand in hand with the one you love, without fear.  Life’s simple beautiful pleasures.

Ben & Jerry’s is, in their own hippy-dippy little way, giving it back to us.  Yes, it’s corporate marketing.  But also…love, marriage and ice cream.  Happiness.  There are worse things corporations can do to market their wares. Yes, this is taking sides.  It is always a matter of taking sides.  Every time you pause for a moment to take in the simple beautiful joy of life, you are taking sides against the pain and heartbreak and unmitigated horror that seems sometimes to make life utterly pointless.  Your gay and lesbian neighbors struggle to hold onto those moments every day.

Bishop Desmond Tutu, who knows a few things about life under the jackboot of hate, said "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."  Why does the right to marry seem like such a basic human right to you, one that same-sex couples should enjoy too, if not that giving that promise to love, honor and cherish, and receiving it, and keeping it in all those endlessly simple day-to-day ways spouses do together, is one of this life’s great joys.  If you believe that gay people are people too, then taking sides shouldn’t even be in question.  Especially when it comes to the simple things.  Especially those.

There are people in this world who wish your gay and lesbian neighbors to never know those joys…great or small.  But it seems sometimes, especially the small.  Because in their world, if we can love and laugh and live in peace and happiness, and find simple quiet contentment in the arms of the one we love, even for a moment, even for an instant, then they’re not hating us enough.  Are you tired of it all?  Trust me, you will never be tired of it as much as any of us are.  And…trust me…to the extent you can find your own moments of simple perfect joy too, then they hate you too.  You don’t have to be homosexual for them to hate you.  Just happy and content and in love with life.  Even for a just moment.  That is enough.  That is all it takes for them to hate you.  And all it takes for you to defeat them is to reach for one simple beautiful joy and let it remind you that life is good.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

September 2nd, 2009

From Our Department Of Obvious Things That Stare You In The Face

Matthew Yglesias discovers something about social conservativesYou know what?  They never seem to point the finger at themselves, do they?

Ross Douthat has a great column in today’s times looking at American social conservatism through the lens of Judd Apatow’s movies. All three Apatow films have, as he points out, strains of conservative values running through them. But in The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up conservative choices wind up working out suspiciously well. In the darker Funny People, by contrast, bad choices have unchangeable consequences and doing the right thing proves painful…

And that’s the one movie of his that didn’t do too well at the box office.  Now why would that be…?  I’ll hazard the same guess Yglesias does:  Because the United States is a country that’s “conservative right up until the moment that it costs us.

I think this explains a lot about the appeal of anti-gay crusades to social conservative leaders. Most of what “traditional values” asks of people is pretty hard. All the infidelity and divorce and premarital sex and bad parenting and whatnot take place because people actually want to do the things traditional values is telling them not to do. And the same goes for most of the rest of the Christian recipe. Acting in a charitable and forgiving manner all the time is hard. Loving your enemies is hard. Turning the other cheek is hard…

Christianity…honest to goodness Christianity…is Hard.  When you hear someone vacantly telling you that becoming a Born Again Christian has taken all the hardship, lifted all the burdens of their lives from their shoulders, you can be pretty damn confident that you’re dealing with a Mega Church christian.  Yes, yes…  when your church has its own Olympic size swimming pool and a Chick-Fil-A in it the life of a Christian must be very easy indeed.  But…it isn’t.  Forgiveness, for example…is Hard.  Damn near impossible sometimes.  Ask me how I know…

Homosexuality is totally different. For a small minority of the population, of course, the injunction “don’t have sex with other men!” (or, as the case may be, other women) is painfully difficult to live up to. But for the vast majority of people this is really, really easy to do. Campaigns against gay rights, gay people, and gay sex thus have a lot of the structural elements of other forms of crusading against sexual excess or immorality, but they’re not really asking most people to do anything other than become self-righteous about their pre-existing preferences.

No fooling.  Your gay and lesbian neighbors have been pointing out for decades now that these people have been waging a culture war on us, but not…oh…divorce…infidelity…premarital sex…teenage pregnancy.  Yes, they will bellyache about those things, but not throw millions and millions of dollars into political campaigns against them.  Nobody on the religious right is trying to get constitutional amendments passed making divorce or adultery or pornography or having babies out of wedlock illegal.  They’re not putting planks in the republican party platform about divorce.  But homosexuality?  Oh…ThATs the biggest threat to western civilization since  Earl Warren.  Since Roosevelt.  Since Lincoln even.

This isn’t rocket science.  We’re their scapegoats.  Their scarecrows.  The disposable lives of faceless Other People they can pave their highway to heaven with.  It wasn’t enough that Christ died for their sins.  We have to bleed so they can tell themselves they’re righteous.  Because otherwise they have to deal with their own lives, their own sins, their own cheapshit failures of moral character, and anything but that.  As long as they can wage war on the Homosexual Menace, they don’t have to look at themselves. 

Right there is where that venomous ferocity against homosexuality comes from.  You see parents who do absolutely horrific things to their gay children that they would never do even if they’d committed some terrible crime like murder or rape.  It’s not that they suddenly think their kid is some kind of unspeakable monster.  It’s that first hand face-to-face evidence that the monster isn’t real pulls out from under them a vital pillar of self respect.  I may be an unfaithful husband…I might be cheating on my spouse…I might be stealing from my employer…I might be abusing my own children…but by god I am not a faggot.  My cheap little crimes aren’t as damaging to society as Homosexuality.  God will forgive me…but not Them…  You take away that scapegoat, that punching bag, that Faceless Other who has to die for their common everyday bar stool sins, and suddenly morality isn’t something they can beat someone else over the head with whenever their conscience starts tapping them on the shoulder.  Nothing on this earth gets more enraged then a cheat caught in the act.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on From Our Department Of Obvious Things That Stare You In The Face

The Music Industrial Complex…Screwing Artists And Their Fans Since The Invention Of The Phonograph…

Next time you hear an RIAA spokesdroid bellyaching that music piracy is taking money out of the pockets of artists…laugh in their face…

Rapper behind ‘Roxanne’s Revenge’ gets Warner Music to pay for Ph.D

Twenty-five years after the first queen of hip-hop was stiffed on her royalty checks, Dr. Roxanne Shante boasts an Ivy League Ph.D. – financed by a forgotten clause in her first record deal. 

After two albums, Shante said, she was disillusioned by the sleazy music industry and swindled by her record company. The teen mother, living in the Queensbridge Houses, recalled how her life was shattered.

"Everybody was cheating with the contracts, stealing and telling lies," she said. "And to find out that I was just a commodity was heartbreaking."

As it turned out…the record company tossed in a clause in her contract where they basically agreed to finance her college education, probably figuring (according to the article) that a teenage mom living in the projects would never make any use of it.  Even so, she had to drag it out of them kicking and screaming.  She found an ally in the dean at Marymount Manhattan College, who let her attend classes for free while pursuing the money.  The record company (Warner Music) agreed to pay up when she threatened to go public with her story. 

The company declined to comment for this story.

Doesn’t look so good to be throwing lawsuits around on the grounds that piracy steals money from the same artists you’re busy screwing over, does it?

Music brings sweetness to life and people will gladly pay for it.  But nobody likes being gouged, and especially when they know full well that the artists they love are being screwed over too.  The contempt you see among some younger (and older) folk for the Music Labels is merely a mirror of the contempt they fully understand the labels regard them and the artists with.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  My own wish is that the technology eventually makes it so easy for the artists and their listeners to cut the labels, at least the big greedy ones, out of the transaction altogether, that nobody can remember what the hell they were ever good for in the first place and they just go the way of the dinosaurs.  Hell, they’re already fossilized. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Music Industrial Complex…Screwing Artists And Their Fans Since The Invention Of The Phonograph…

Sorry About The Lack Of Posts…

A few readers here have asked me what’s up with the silence.  It’s nothing serious…just life apart from the web.  I’ve been real super busy with a major high visibility project at work and I’ve been putting in a lot of overtime on it.  That’s "non-comp" time for all you salaried workers out there.  But I don’t mind.  Working at Space Telescope has been a dream come true for me, and the vacation package is so nice here I really don’t mind putting in long hours on something.

I have a bunch of stuff I want to talk about…but first, I’ve posted a bunch of new cartoons to the political cartoon page…two of which have been published in our local Baltimore gay paper, OUTLoud.  I have a steady gig with them now and it’s been a real source of satisfaction seeing my cartoons in print.  I’ve been published elsewhere but just randomly, whenever someone somewhere takes an interest in one of my cartoons and asks for reprint rights.  This seems like it’s going to be a real steady gig so I’m delighted.  Cartooning was the first love.

Here’s one I didn’t get into this month’s issue…


There’s more on the cartoon page.  Hopefully, more to come soon as I get back into this.  I have several other fun-er cartoons on the drawing boards, including the next episode of A Coming Out Story.  Plus several political cartoons I didn’t put up from way back.  You may have noticed that the last cartoon was from the aftermath of Proposition 8, and before that practically nothing for almost a year.  I was just getting burned out on it, burned out on staring hate in the face week after week after week.

So I’ll try to post some more stuff soon.  I have lots to talk about.  But end of next week I’m going to disappear again for a while and visit Disney World in Orlando for my birthday and try to leave the ugliness behind.  There are two anti same-sex marriage referendums coming up and it seems every time I look at the news I’m seeing anti-gay crap that just makes me angrier and angrier and venting about it here and on the cartoon page only gets it out of me a little.  I’m at a stage in my life where I just want to bale out of civilization altogether and forget that I ever heard of the likes of NOM and Proposition 8 and so many people who don’t know me from Adam but keep screaming in my face that I’m a cancer on society…but they have nothing against gay people personally.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sorry About The Lack Of Posts…

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