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Archive for March, 2014

March 31st, 2014

Hopefully The Last Time I Ever Have To Draw Fred…

My cartoon for this week’s Baltimore OUTLoud…

I’ve been paying so much attention to my AAEC presence I’ve woefully neglected my own political cartoon pages.  I will be working on bringing them back up to date soon.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Hopefully The Last Time I Ever Have To Draw Fred…

March 29th, 2014

Don’t Worry…It’s Only Geek Humor…

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

my-neighbors-suck-funny-wifi-network-names

I think I’ll name mine The Network That Dare Not Speak Its Name…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Don’t Worry…It’s Only Geek Humor…

March 28th, 2014

Let’s Talk…Just Not About What We Need To Talk About

I got this link to a blog post from someone working at Mozilla…

What’s Happening Inside Mozilla

I won’t quote from it lest I be accused later of selective editing. Go read it for yourself, the blogger is obviously distraught over the sudden tidal wave of anger being directed at the company for putting a man at the top who gave a thousand bucks to support Proposition 8.  On the other hand, you’d think from reading his links that all the happy gays and gay friendly people at Mozilla have no problems at all with a guy who dropped a grand to cut off the ring fingers of gay couples in California.

PC Magazine wrote the following about the controversy

“Mozilla’s new CEO this week expressed “sorrow” for having caused pain by making a donation in support of California’s Prop. 8, which sought to ban gay marriage. And while he made an “active commitment to equality,” Brendan Eich did not elaborate on his beliefs regarding gay marriage and the LBGT community…”

A thousand bucks might have seemed chump change to this guy but it’s still serious money, and it shows a serious commitment to a belief that homosexuals are at best damaged goods that don’t actually love and aren’t fully human. There is no argument about protecting the institution of marriage as being about one man and one woman that does not have as its bedrock the image of The Homosexual as some sort of defiling pornographic cesspool flung into a sacred ground.  Marriage is about love and family…homosexuals are degenerates that just have sex, molest children and spread disease.  That was what Proposition 8 was about from beginning to end.  It was an attack, not just on the right of same sex couples to marry, but on the humanity of gay people. It was a multi-million dollar hammer brought down against the very idea that there could possibly be anything sacred about the feelings of love and devotion gay couples feel, waged by people who think we are a cancer on human existence.  And Eich bought a thousand dollar share in that campaign.

But at Mozilla according to this blogger, what they’re having is a discussion about freedom of speech verses equality. That’s the argument the religious right wants everyone to have and it’s exactly the wrong argument to be having. You can give your product away but throw your character into the gutter and you’ll be years cleaning it back up. And this man still doesn’t seem to think he did anything wrong.

That’s the problem here. If they’re having a discussion about rights at Mozilla they’re having the wrong discussion.They should be talking about character. That PC Magazine article says that he expressed “sorrow” and did not elaborate on his beliefs regarding same sex marriage and LGBT people.  Tell you what…read His Own Words and then tell me with a straight face that this man has any regrets about what he and countless others did to their gay neighbors in California. Everything is sickeningly there in plain sight, to anyone who has fought this battle:

…the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: “no”.

Hahahahaha…  Where have I heard that before?  You’re just calling me a hateful bigot because I disagree with you!  No Brandan, ‘bigot’ is a perfectly good old fashioned English word and it means something.  And something else that has some meaning is you declaring you won’t discuss your involvement with Proposition 8 at the same time you’re bellyaching about having a rational discussion.  Actually Brandan they had that rational discussion at the trial and David Boies said it best when he said that the witness stand is a lonely place to lie. But it’s not the only lonely place and you are not a mere dissenter. Freedom of speech is one thing. A thousand dollars to a campaign to cut people’s ring fingers off isn’t mere speech.  But let it be said the speech you dropped a grand on is bad enough. That money went to ads that played the Gays Are Coming For Your Children card!  Living with the lies you paid a thousand bucks for come home to roost is another lonely place. You could renounce them, but it seems you won’t, and that makes them your lies too.

Lies are a kind of speech, yes. Hate mongering is a kind of speech, yes. But what kind of speech, and what kind of person utters it? If they are having a free speech verses equal rights discussion at Mozilla they are having the wrong discussion.

[Edited a tad for clarity…]

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

March 26th, 2014

Thumping The Bible Verses Thumping The Tire Iron…

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Comparing Gays To Abortion, Pat Robertson Sad Christians Don’t Stone Gays Anymore

700 Club Host And Christian Evangelical Leader Compares Gays To Abortion, Laments Gays Aren’t Stoned To Death Anymore Because Homosexuality ‘Denies The Reproduction Of Human Species’

You had to sorta figure that the TV preacher who told his viewers gays have secret rings that cut people who shake their hands and infect them with the AIDS virus would be sad gay people aren’t being stoned to death anymore.

So are a lot of them. Sit down and total up everything you know about religious conservatives, let alone right wingers, and you discover that you know volumes about who and what they hate and nearly nothing about who and what they love. Charles de Gaulle once said that patriotism is when love of your own people comes first and nationalism is when hate for other people comes first. So if religion is where love of god comes first what is it when hate for other people comes first, because it isn’t religion.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Thumping The Bible Verses Thumping The Tire Iron…

March 25th, 2014

Fred

Death only closes a man’s reputation and determines it as good or bad. -Joseph Addison

I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.  -Mark Twain

I’ve lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children – they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough. It’s so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life. -Tony Kushner, “Angels in America”

In his book African Genesis Robert Ardrey wrote one of the more eloquent analogies for the grandeur of time and the curtain death places between us and the past, so often overlooked when pondering the origins of life. He asks the reader to place themselves on a lonely narrow California beach where foggy mountains slope down into the sea…

…let us make two assumptions. The first, not difficult, is that the visible horizon is just ten miles away. And secondly, we must assume that our sea is death, and that it is rising. This is not too difficult an assumption either, thanks to the lonely beach with the muted cries of a few distant gulls, and no other living thing. It is a sea of  death that we face, stretching beyond the visible horizon to the other end of the once-living world. The death-sea rises, slowly and eternally as it has always been rising, covering all things that it touches. It laps now quietly at our narrow beach, the present.

Where the little waves fall back not twenty feet across the shining sand, we see revealed the rotting, moss grown, Spanish hulks of the Great Armanda…A gentle trough between two incoming swells reveals for an instant not a hundred feet from where we stand a cross…Hammurabi’s Babylon is lost beneath the water amidst shifting sands. We cannot see it, for the sea has risen too high. Eighty yards from our little beach, however, what seem to be three rocks break the incoming swells and make white water. They are, of course, the pyramids at Giza.

Nothing breaks the surface of time’s ocean beyond the pyramids…Had we the courage to wade out into this sea of no return, and to swim out a few strokes, we should find a sandbar just below the surface. These are the fields and pastures of those Middle Eastern peoples, nameless and forgotten, who domesticated wheat and barley and cattle and sheep… All that we call civilization stands between the sandbar and the shore…

…the beach we stand on is the precarious present. It will be swallowed before long as other beaches have been swallowed, and a new one will form just behind us…

I think of this image often when confronted by death. In Ardrey’s sea the ten mile horizon becomes a million years, and each one after that another million, and not many horizons do we travel before the short distance between the sandbar at the beginning of civilization and the shore seems almost laughably, terrifyingly small, let alone our lonely little beach.  The joke I heard once is that it isn’t that life is so short but that we’re dead for so long.

I strongly doubt there is an afterlife and the concept seems awkward anyway. If you’re still there then there is no after, only metamorphosis of some sort. And even then the question becomes, of what sort. Do we still have anything left of us that can be thought of as human?  In the end, what Tony Kushner said is true; what we want is not so much an afterlife as more life. But I don’t think there is even that.

But there is something. Our lives are as though little pebbles tossed into Ardrey’s sea of death. At the moment they hit the water and disappear we are gone. But there are ripples that fan out and away from our lives: The reputation we leave behind. The things we did to our neighbors in this life.  The good and the bad.

There is no point in doing unto Fred as he did unto the rest of us because he won’t be bothered by it, he’s gone. You could think of picketing his funeral as a poke at the little tightly wound church of hate he left behind, but the point is without Fred that little ball of bile would not be. Fred was the problem and now Fred’s gone and he won’t care what you have to say about him now. His last chance of earthly redemption is gone. He done passed the Last Chance station and now it’s too late to get off. He will always be Fred God Hates Fags Phelps. Perhaps that was how he wanted it in the end anyway, to be remembered for what he hated, not what he loved.  But at the end, could he even remember anything he had once loved?

There is nothing wrong with being angry at Fred. There is nothing wrong with that feeling of contempt for the man.  He earned it, worked hard for it, and probably right up to the very end was immensely proud of it. But stand quietly at his grave, respectfully because this is your destination too someday, and let the life that once was be a warning. Hate does not share power within a heart. It will systematically kill every other thing you have in there, everything fine and noble you ever were or ever could have been, and take from you all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love you might have shared, until there is nothing left inside of you but hate itself. To picket a grave is pointless, there is nothing there anymore, only the ripples of what once was spreading gently across the sea of death. For all his picketing of the dead, and all the obscene hatred he vented at the mourners, he was powerless to stop or alter the ripples of their lives, and all the smiles and all the laughs and all the love that were shared, gently spreading outward in time.  All Fred had within his power was to change the nature of his own reputation, his own life’s ripples and he did not. He hurt a lot of people, but he destroyed himself.

Stand quietly. Say a prayer if you have one in you. Will this world be better for your having walked in it? Then let him go. Don’t bury yourself along with him.

[Edited a tad for clarity…and some additional thumping…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Fred

March 16th, 2014

The Closet Is The New Tolerance

The story, as passed down to me, is that several generations back on mom’s side of the family, an Irish man fell in love with an English woman who also loved him very much. And against the wishes of both their families they married. And were promptly disowned by both their families.  So they came to America, and that is why mom’s side of the family tree became Americans.

I could see it…the lovers wanting to come to the New World instead of settling down somewhere in England or Ireland away from their respective families.  Even at a young age I understood that the English and Irish didn’t get along very well.  It wasn’t until I scratched below the surface of the history the books like to call the Great Potato Famine that I began to grasp why it was such a hard history to put to rest, why the old hatreds kept boiling over.  What I never got was why the Irish kept facing ignorant discrimination here in America too. Wasn’t this the Great Melting Pot? Wasn’t this the land of the Golden Door?  Some years back, while perusing the stands at the big Labor Day Flea Market in the little Virginia town mom had retired to, I saw a No Irish sign for sale along with other signs from ugly days gone by.  White Only.  Colored Entrance.  No Indians Served.  They made my skin crawl, yet I hoped someone was preserving all that. I’d been out of the closet for about two decades by then, and had experienced over and over how bigots could be alternatively proud of their cheapshit prejudices, righteous even, and then suddenly turn on a dime and deny they had a prejudiced bone in their bodies.

We don’t discriminate against homosexuals…we are moral people who believe that open sexuality has no place in public…  The double standard being of course that an opposite sex couple holding hands in public is but a simple little display of their mutual love and affection that should put a smile on everyone’s faces, whereas when a same-sex couple does exactly the same thing they’re flaunting their sexuality in everyone’s faces.  We don’t care what you do in the bedroom…just keep it there…

I don’t think in my entire life I ever saw a No Gays sign, or a want ad that said Gays Need Not Apply. But you always knew what would happen to you, the moment you stepped out of the closet. Our struggle was about the closet.  It was always about the closet.  As long as we had to stay in the closet the only things people would know about us was were the lies.  I grew up with those lies.  I knew how they were killing us, how they would always keep killing us, until we could live our lives openly, without fear, and people could see us for the human beings we were, not the monsters they were constantly being told we were.

This came across my news stream this morning…

‘Diversity float’ will be part of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Foster and his friends and neighbors are not marching Sunday as part of a gay organization. They are marching as South Boston residents who have coalesced around building a park in a corner of the neighborhood known as the Lower End. Many of the people working on the float just happen to be gay. And they have been embraced by the Allied War Veterans Council, the parade’s longtime sponsor.

That would be the longtime sponsor that took their right to discriminate against their gay Irish neighbors all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a pyrrhic victory.  Every year now the breadth and depth of notable people, politicians and companies boycotting these No Homo parades grows.  But Boston Globe reporter Andrew Ryan would like us to know that diversity is afoot this year in South Boston.  Yes…a Tolerance Float built by gay south Bostonites has been accepted into the parade.  No..embraced.  And I can see exactly why they were embraced too…

“They know us as their neighbors first and as gay second,” said Foster, an Air Force veteran who served in Desert Storm and who has lived with his husband in South Boston for seven years. Of outside gay groups coming in and hoping to march, he said: “How in the world do you ever get compromise if the first statement out of your mouth is, ‘I’m different than you?’ ”

Compromise.  Yes, quite.  And the compromise between staying in the closet and being out is you pretend you aren’t being pushed in and they pretend they didn’t push you.  Such a deal.

“The only way for this to work was to keep quiet. We had to wait it out and prove what we said when we first started, that we’re not here to make a big statement,” Foster said last Saturday, taking a break from float construction. “We all thought, if we just show up on parade day and we march and have a cool float, people will understand.”

There was a time I thought I was working toward this “understanding” myself.  I kept it low key among certain friends…I figured by giving their sensibilities breathing room I was giving them time to work out for themselves how everything they thought they knew about homosexuals was wrong.  I could be the living example that taught them to see past their assumptions and prejudices.  But prejudice is by definition irrational, and in the end I discovered all that was happening was they thought they were teaching me to keep it quiet.

Never doubt, that this is what the Allied War Veterans Council thinks they’re teaching the gays.  The compromise from their point of view is they’re willing to let people they know to be homosexual into the parade.  As long as they…you know…keep it quiet…

Lead parade organizer Philip J. Wuschke Jr. acknowledged that the inclusion this year of two groups with gay marchers represented “a little bit of a step,” but he pushed back against the assertion that the parade is intolerant.

“Gay people march in this all the time. Every year. This isn’t the first time,” Wuschke said. “We don’t ban gay people. We ban groups that are trying to make a statement.”

This is the sort of convenient circumlocution people use to prevent themselves from looking in the bathroom mirror and seeing a bigot staring back at them.  It’s also pathetic.  Does this man truly know nothing of the history of Irish people in the United States that he can honestly believe the St. Patrick’s Day parades do not now and never did have a political overtone to them?

 no_irish-1

pd-paddy

problem_solved

Celebrating a people and their history is making a statement.  So is excluding a people. Being proud of who you are is making a statement.  So is telling someone to hide what they are in exchange for acceptance.

And when gay people willingly closet themselves in exchange for acceptance they are also making a statement. They may think it’s a statement about building bridges, but in reality it’s a statement of self worth. That is what Allied War Veterans Council is happy to have finally taught them.  The Irish have a long and hard history they can be proud to have endured and overcome. Gays…well…they just have sex.  And Irish gays are best not spoken of in public.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Closet Is The New Tolerance

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