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November 18th, 2023

The Bigot’s Kiss

Working on A Coming Out Story and looking for quotes for the “last” episode eventually drags me back into Dick Hafer’s noxious swamp. Sigh. I ordered his Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle some years ago for the gay studies bookshelves after seeing some of its jaw dropping panels online. If Growing Up Straight: What Every Thoughtful Parent Should Know about Homosexuality is a veritable encyclopedia of homophobia, the Hafer comic is it’s Classics Illustrated version.

And it’s a real doozy. But instructive. Think of it as an extended Jack Chick tract, even including the repenting sinner at the end, plus several pages of instructions as to what to say and what to do to get right with god. All that’s missing is the checklist.

Here’s the thing, and I’m really only noticing it more now due to Fred Clark’s recent posts about the mindset that joins into satanic panics, Q-Anon conspiracies, and suchlike. He writes: “It is always possible to recruit new members to join our cause by telling horrific lies about some group of Other People. But doing so makes those Other People themselves – the ones we’re telling nasty lies about – immune to recruitment.” And he points out the obvious: that’s because those Other People know the truth of their own lives first hand.

The first time you read Hafer’s comic book all you see is that guttural howl of unabridged bigotry and hate. All through the book he refers to gay people as sodomites. You see laughably cheapshit stereotypes of yourself and everyone you know that would be hilarious if you’d never read news headlines about gay bashings and murders all your adult life. But Hafer is at his most energetic when he’s describing our sex lives. The bulk of the comic book is this.

Vito Russo put it best when he said that “It is an old stereotype, that homosexuality has to do only with sex while heterosexuality is multifaceted and embraces love and romance.” Years ago I blogged about the time I had to walk a gauntlet of hard core heterosexual pornography just to get a current copy of my local gay community newspapers, because back in those days the only place you could find anything gay whether it was pornographic or not was in “adult” bookstores. I got an eyeful. But to read Hafer’s comic book you’d think our sex lives were nothing But hard core pornography.

Hafer begins his descent into gay sex hell by starting with…I am not kidding…kissing.

“Not only are their habits disgusting, but they are incredibly harmful and damaging”

“Such as?”

“Kissing”

“Ugh!!”

-Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle, page 50

This is followed up with descriptions of commonplace sex that most heterosexuals enjoy but which is somehow made disgusting when same sex couples do it. Following that, every extreme sex practice is laid at our feet as though that was all there is to us. He’s very meticulous about it. But the tell is he can’t resist presenting it like it’s one great big comic book joke. The scenes of gay sex acts are presented as much for laughs as for shock value. He can’t resist doing that even when it comes to the routine accusations of homosexual pedophilia. On page 126 he quotes Paul Cameron’s (now regrettably named ) Institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality (ISIS) that 80 percent of student teacher molestations are by homosexuals, next to his drawing of a deranged older man dragging a small boy by the arm and telling him that it’s time for his sex ed class, while the boy says “During recess?!!”. Ha ha ha.

It’s telling that Hafer doesn’t even bother with religious sermonizing in his comic book until near the very end when, like in a Jack Chick tract, the militant homosexual finally repents, followed by several pages of boilerplate step by step instructions on how to be saved. But the lies in the sixty plus pages preceding the sermon are so glaring, the dehumanized scarecrows representing those Other People so shockingly empty of any shred of humanity, what it’s likely to provoke in the gay reader is more shock, anger, and outrage than repentance. It does not hold up a mirror to them that they might be saved, it spits in their faces.

That is its purpose.

If I wasn’t actively collecting hate literature my first reflex would have been to throw it in the trash less than halfway through it. But Hafer’s comic book, like the Chick tracts, isn’t meant for gay people. That scene at the end, like every scene at the end of every Chick tract, is theater. It’s not meant to save anyone because long before they could get to it, the redemptee has become angered at all the insults thrown in their face and has already thrown the tract away.

No. The audience for these books and tracts is the true believer. These are Tijuana bibles for prigs, allowing them to ogle their neighbor’s sex lives, and indulge their own sexual fantasies, while feeling righteous about it, so they don’t have to reckon with the empty wasteland they’ve made of their own lives.

I think the one quote from Hafer that I have in the final ACOS episode is enough. I was sorely tempted to add another panel with that part about kissing though.

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 30th, 2023

The Only Thing That Matters

“A bigot’s mind is like the pupil of an eye. The more light you shine on it the more it contracts.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Many years ago when I was a guest blogger on another website, I got into a wee kerfuffle (not very badly) over an opinion piece I wrote saying that it really did not matter to bigots whether our sexual orientation is chosen or biological. Nobody doubts that skin color is biological and that hasn’t stopped racists from being racist. Homophobes, when they finally can’t deny the science any longer, will simply pivot to acknowledging we can’t change and that makes it even more imperative that society keep us separate and marginalized. Ex-gay therapy then becomes not a way of forcing change on us, as a way to shame us into self hate and celibacy and isolation. And also, to validate and exalt their own cheapshit prejudices, like it always was anyway. We have seen, since the collapse of the big ex-gay outfits, that drift into celibacy over change.

I think back then people mistook what I was saying as I thought the nature versus nurture argument didn’t matter at all and I have never believed that. Firstly, facts matter, and by that time all the science was saying our sexual orientation was a biological fact, and the only question remaining was is it determined in the womb or by way of genetics or some combination of the two. But on a personal level, ever since I came out to myself I just knew intuitively that my being drawn to guys had to be an innate part of my makeup, not something I drifted into because of family life or fear of the opposite sex. I could look back all the way to my preschool days and see that it was always there.

All this came back to mind as I was reading this May 2021 article in Baptist News Global about Southern Baptist theological dictator Al Mohler’s defense of conversion therapy. Here then, is Mohler’s current stance, being essentially what I’ve been telling people for decades now that it would be:

In We Cannot be Silent, Mohler argued that even if same-sex orientation is innate and immutable, it remains sinful. Even the discovery of a “gay gene” wouldn’t change his thinking. If the Bible calls something sin, that’s what it is. The fact that it might be “natural” changes nothing. Because we live in a fallen world, what is “natural” still may be wrong. The natural world, he says, is “tainted by sin.”

Therefore, if the case for banning conversion therapy implies that gay is good, Mohler’s against it.

See the pivot? Okay, yes, it’s natural and immutable, but so what? We live in a fallen world. Science only proves that, not that we have to stop tormenting them over something they cannot change. It remains our godly duty to keep sticking knives in their hearts. With love of course.

Because at bottom whether it is nature or nurture does not matter. And I tell you this: the bible does not matter either. If the day ever came they’d have to admit the “clobber passages” did not mean what they’ve been saying they mean, the pivot would be to other passages that they’ll say still uphold the godly duty.

Because what matters, the only thing that matters, is the mindless knee jerk prejudice. Nothing else. They’ll dress it up however they have to.

“An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.” -Eric Hoffer

by Bruce | Link | React!

July 5th, 2023

The Survivor’s Tale

I’ve re-enabled Ex-Gay Watch on my blogroll and added Beyond Ex-Gay to it. I disabled (basically just commented out) Ex-Gay Watch after they shut down. Now they’re back because the darkness is roaring back. The link is a bit different so if you have it bookmarked use the one in my blogroll. I’ve added Beyond Ex-Gay after reading the last passages in Boy Erased and being horrified all over again at what was being done to so many young hearts.

Boy Erased…I finally got my way to the end of it the other day. Christ that was a difficult read…especially those last few pages where the kid curls up in a ball and has a breakdown in his mother’s car and she’s scared to death that he’s going to kill himself and finally decides he’s not going back to Love In Action.

The author of Boy Erased mentioned Beyond Ex-Gay at the end of his book and I realized I hadn’t added it to my blogroll, probably because it’s a private community of survivors and I am not a survivor of ex-gay therapy (just of the ongoing torrent of hate directed at all of us). But others can read the stories they’ve posted and I strongly recommend that to everyone who might be wondering if there isn’t something to it after all.

Yes there is. Evil. The worst kind of evil. The kind of evil that thinks itself righteous.

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 31st, 2022

Oh…Were You Still Here…?

Ex Pope Ratzinger leaves the stage. If, as Shakespeare writes, the evil that men do lives after them while the good is oft interred with their bones, Ratzinger’s bones are going to have a lot of space to themselves in that grave.

“In 1986 Ratzinger issued a letter to the Catholic Bishops in which he wrote that homosexuality was a ‘tendency’ towards an ‘intrinsic moral evil’. A few years later, in 1992, he rejected the notion of human rights for gays, stressing that their civil liberties could be ‘legitimately limited’. He followed up by remarking that ‘neither the church nor society should be surprised’ if ‘irrational and violent reactions increase’ when gays demand civil rights.” –New Internationalist 327, September 2000.

Death only closes a Man’s Reputation, and determines it as good or bad.” -Joseph Addison.

My cartoon upon his ascension to Peter’s throne…April 19, 2005.

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 20th, 2022

They Have Always Been This

Twitter, perhaps in its dying breaths, still provides interesting rabbit holes to dive down. Today it’s this post from Samuel Perry, who lists himself in his profile as: Sociologist | Studying Religion & Power | Author: Growing God’s Family; Addicted to Lust; Taking America Back for God; The Flag & The Cross. But it would be a mistake I suspect, given his other posts to assume he’s completely on board with the white evangelical power grab. And especially not this post:

Little something to remind Christian Right Twitter as they trash French for this post. White evangelicals went from 60% saying privately immoral officials couldn’t be ethical in office to 17% & the only thing that changed was opportunity. Your moral compass points toward power.

To which he adds this graphic…

He also put up this a few hours later…

Following Jan 6, White evangelicals were the only group where a huge majority said banning Trump was wrong. But they’re also the only group where a majority says social media cos. shouldn’t remove aggressive content from elected officials even if it may provoke violence.

It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and say so what, we always knew where they were. But this needs, especially these days, to be thrown back in their faces whenever they start bellyaching about things like religious freedom and same sex marriage. It isn’t their freedom they are fighting for, it’s their total dominance. And if anything that’s been made even more explicit with the publication and widespread evangelical approval of The Case for Christian Nationalism by Stephen Wolfe.

So I decide to go take a peek at what’s happening in that thread David French began with…

The magic of our republic is that it creates space for people who possess different world views to live together *and* stay true to different faiths and moral convictions. How the Respect for America Act furthers this vital national goal:

He links to this article in The Atlantic

Pluralism Has Life Left in It Yet

The Respect for Marriage Act, and the harmony between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights.

It begins thusly:

It’s been called the “oral argument that cost the Democrats the presidency.” On April 28, 2015, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. stood up in the Supreme Court and argued that the Court should recognize a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. During that argument, Justice Samuel Alito asked him a question that voiced the concern of millions of people of faith. Here was the key exchange:

Justice Samuel Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­-sex marriage?

Solicitor General Verrilli: You know, I—I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is—it is going to be an issue.

With that response, General Verrilli confirmed a growing sense of alarm in theologically conservative Christian circles. If they continued to maintain that marriage is a union between a man and woman, would they be treated as bigots? As the equivalent of white supremacists?

Let us say, after all the years that have passed between then and now, with that subset of the American population growing less and less inclined to maintain pretenses, that whatever alarm they may have felt wasn’t they would be treated for being what they so plainly are and have no trouble whatever being, but that their scapegoats, their hated Other would be granted equality in the eyes of the law. Yes, that had implications for being able to make their stepping stones to heaven out of our lives, out of our hopes and dreams. It simply could not be allowed to stand.

So then, the stacking of the US Supreme court with more Alitos. 

To really appreciate what is going on in that David French thread it helps to know a wee bit about the man…

In August 2017, French was one of several co-authors of the so-called Nashville Statement, which affirmed “that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.” [Wikipedia] 

The Nashville Statement:

  • Affirms that God designed marriage as a lifelong union between male and female, and that marriage “is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church”
  • Denies that differences between men and women render the sexes “unequal in dignity or worth”
  • Denies “that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.”
  • Denies “that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.”
  • Affirms that “Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure”

 

And yet, Trump was a bridge too far for him. And that of course, meant his immediate exile from the fellowship of Sauron’s ring. A lot of the pushback goes something like this…

Pluralism is your idol, sir.

You would have been a ‘faithful servant’ of Julian the Apostate, David. Don’t spend your 30 pieces of silver all at once, Judas.

Are we sure 2015 David French wasn’t just as much a simp to secular pluralism and just didn’t have the opportunity to approve of such evils?

Repent and seek Christ.

This commenter almost gets it…

My goodness. 2015 David French Eviscerates 2022 David French. Makes me sad, Trump did break him.

What Trump did was give him, and others like him, a choice: take the remaining shred of humanity within you around behind the barn and shoot it, or take a step back from the abyss. 

Pluralism cannot coexist with Christian Nationalism and they know it. They have always known it. They have always despised the concept, and along with that, democracy. They may love the America of their totalitarian fever dreams, but they will fight democracy to their dying breath, and especially The Compromise: that everyone has the right to practice their religious beliefs in their churches, and in their homes, but in the public square, and in the marketplace, we are all Americans.

My money is as good as yours. I have the same right to speak my mind as you do. In the public square and in the marketplace, the government takes no sides apart from the democratic necessity of Equality, Liberty and Justice. For all. This, it must enforce. So we can all be Americans. Having to bake that cake for a same sex couple is the price you pay for government not stomping into your church and burning your holy texts.

But there are those who think that price is too much to pay for an America where we all live together in peace. Because God is on their side and the holy text that will burn are not theirs, but yours. They are the chosen ones. They have the only true religion. And God wants them to grind the heretic underfoot. Because God hates the Other as much as they do. And they are on the march.

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 18th, 2022

Silence Equals. . .

So I let myself get dragged into a Twitter thread about same sex marriage. It started with a friendly post by a religious guy who said “Imagine thinking that allowing gay people to get married somehow diminishes heterosexual marriage.”

He gets instantly swarmed by right wing religious nutcases telling him he’s leading people to hell and so on and so forth. Okay…so much so as usual. But the yapping takes a turn I’m familiar with from the USENET days: that marriage is and can only be about procreation and children. I wait for the obvious rebuttal to that from the other gay friendly posters and it never comes. Instead the arguments swirl around secular society versus theocracy and how same sex couples have families and can raise children too, with one poster in particular doggedly sticking to the premise that only procreation matters to marriage, not any of that love stuff, because that’s how god ordained it.

And…unable to sit on my hands anymore, I jump in like it’s 1995.

But there’s a couple things I think the rest of you need to know about all this.

It took me a while to see it, but the head nutcase in the right wing infotainment cocoon, Matt Walsh, had just post election pivoted from demonizing transgender folk to demonizing same sex marriage. So that’s the topic de jour in the howling monkey tree now. But there is also this…

A new book making the case for “Christian Nationalism” has hit the streets, and it isn’t saying the quiet parts out loud, it’s writing them in neon lights. I guess they’re all done with that finally.

It’s “The Case for Christian Nationalism” by Stephen Wolfe, and it is not exactly fringe material, having been in the top 2000 books on Amazon for weeks, and charting in the top 500 ever since it’s November 1 publication. It argues for ethnic purity as a necessary condition for our, or any other nation’s survival. It argues that imprisoning, and perhaps even executing heretics, is a good and necessary thing. The book presents itself as a theological justification for White ethnonationalism. Or in other words, white supremacy…at least here in the United States.

But more fundamentally than that, Wolfe argues that even if Adam and Eve had not sinned and been cast out of Eden, humans would have congregated in separate communities on the planet and developed their distinct ways of life. This he says, is why there are nations.  And so following that, Christians have the right to do everything in their power to institutionalize Christianity, make government structured according to God’s vision for human life, creating a national government in which civil authorities direct the citizens to the “true religion” to the “fullest extent of their power.” 

Including executing heretics. But only if that becomes necessary. If you don’t know where that leaves sexual minorities message me, I’ll fill you in.

I Repeat…This Is Not Some Odd Little Fringe Tract. It is now a best seller and it has energized the howling monkey tree. The usual response to criticism of it is oh you just hate Christians.

I hate every moment of having to fight this fight. But I’m a gay man and I remember the first time I fell in love, and for the honor and the dignity of that moment, and every moment of love I ever felt for another man, I will not remain silent. Furthermore…I am an American. The flag waving doesn’t run very deep in me, but the belief in that American dream of liberty and justice for all does and I will not remain silent.

We are living in very dangerous times, and as was once said, and is still true today, Silence = Death.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 28th, 2022

“It’s a gift!”

I’m outside fixing up the bird feeders for the upcoming snowfall. The calico is outside too, sitting on the top of my nextdoor neighbors steps. I see an elderly lady walking up the sidewalk toss something at the calico and I look over at the cat alarmed. But the cat takes no notice.

The lady sees me and approaches smiling. She looks to be very old Asian lady, and her english is a tad broken, but she smiles earnestly at me and hands me something. “A gift” she says. From its size and shape I know instantly what it is: a Jack Chick tract. Oh great, thinks I, another questionnaire.

I take it and smile back gamely. She seems nice enough and I have a soft spot for old women…probably out of some regret that my own maternal grandmother was such a cold mean hearted so and so. And given this lady’s english I’m pretty sure I’m not getting an incoming proselytize. She’s going to let the tract do her talking for her. I notice she is carrying two small bricks of Chick tracts, all probably that same one. So it’ll do me no good to ask for another for my collection. But this is one I don’t have so it’s all good.

“It’s a gift!” she says brightly. “You are forgiven!” I refrain from asking For what? Being born? Accepting my sexual orientation? Using a Keurig machine?

And she walks on down the street. The tract she handed me was “The Word Became Flesh”, and it’s drawn by one of Chick’s skilled cartoonists, which disappoints me. I consider the authentic Chick drawn tracts to be the best collectibles. And this one doesn’t have the usual questionnaire at the end. It does give you Step By Step instructions on how to be saved, including the Specific words to pray. Chick was actually a very controlling personality, and his tracts are his way of manipulating people and excusing it as a religious duty.

The pulpit thumpers I grew up with would not approve. They believed acceptance of the Faith had to be wholehearted and entirely voluntary. No manipulating people into it. No such thing as blind faith. You walked down the aisle with your eyes wide open. That poor lady’s happy little utterly empty smile is going to haunt me all day long now.

 

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 18th, 2021

The Abuser And The Abused

This from Wayne Besen’s Truth Wins Out

Gay Sex Spree by ‘Ex-Gay’ Freedom March Founder Leads TWO to Call on Fraudulent Group to Shut Down

DELRAY BEACH, FL – Truth Wins Out condemned Freedom March founder Jeffrey McCall today as a hypocritical fraud after he admitted online to multiple hookups and romantic attachments with men, even as he continues to shamelessly lead “Freedom March” parades of so-called “ex-gays”.

Dig it. He was hooking up with guys at the same time he’s leading his ex-gay Freedom March. Wayne asked me to do a cartoon about that for the last one they held in Washington DC…

 

It was one of the easier assignments I’ve had, because I’ve watched this dismal march happening so many times before. And at my age it’s getting really tiresome to watch this keep happening, and the obvious lesson is never learned.

Wayne quotes this passage from his confession:

In 2020 I met someone that I was trying to help (I was helping in other ways he didn’t deal with SSA) which lead to me being unfaithful to Jesus and giving my heart away. After denying what I wanted with him I then went on to fall sexually with a man when I felt wounded and lonely. This lead to multiple falls with men over time. (None of these men were Christians or people from ministry) Everytime I fell I would truly repent and turn away again. I would feel Gods love, mercy, and forgiveness sometimes before I could even finish the prayer.

As they say, Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. And forgiven. And forgiven. And forgiven. And forgiven… 

And above all: not responsible.

It would be simple to look at McCall as another victim of homophobic religion. We can point our fingers at the Franklin Grahams, the Tony Perkins, the Pat Robertsons, the James Dobsons. But like a junkie supporting his habit by selling junk to others, McCall has to know what it is he’s doing to his customers, because it’s doing it to him. He is no politically powerful heterosexual harvesting hate for even more power…someone who doesn’t have to live with what he’s doing to others. McCall knows what it does. He is living it.

They say the reason we’re homosexual is we were abused as children. But we are as we are, whether we have brown eyes or blue, black hair or blond, are gay or straight, or every color of the rainbow in between. We bear within us every day or our lives a living history of millions of years of life on earth. And deep within is the command to love and be loved. For some of us, love is another man. It is written in our flesh and blood. There is something terribly poignant in McCall’s confession of giving his heart away to another man as though it was an awful sin and not his human birthright. His abusers teach us to be afraid of love, so they can build their stepping stones to heaven out of the broken pieces of our hearts, so they can harvest votes from the hate that is strangling our lives. You want to forgive McCall since he’s a victim also. Then you remember he keeps making himself a willing accomplice, despite the fact that he has loved. And so the abused becomes the abuser.

 

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 6th, 2021

They Spread Disease Don’t You Know

As a gay man who came of age in the late 1960s, endured every filthy lie the righteous could throw at us, which only got even worse when AIDS began killing so many of us, this is from Digby is…just amazing…to read about…

Conspiracy theories in the pews

…there have always been conspiracy theorists among us and one of the most likely groups to fall down a rabbit hole are conservative evangelicals many of whom are ready to believe that liberals are satan worshippers and that abortions are being used as a form of genocide.

Considering their fealty to Donald Trump, it isn’t surprising that they would be among the most vaccine resistant…

She quotes from this New York Times article

White Evangelical Resistance Is Obstacle in Vaccination Effort

Millions of white evangelical adults in the U.S. do not intend to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Tenets of faith and mistrust of science play a role; so does politics.

As I said…for a gay man of a certain age this Times article is absolutely fascinating reading. Let me just quote this one passage…

The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary. But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.

The opposition is rooted in a mix of religious faith and a longstanding wariness of mainstream science, and it is fueled by broader cultural distrust of institutions and gravitation to online conspiracy theories. The sheer size of the community poses a major problem for the country’s ability to recover from a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of half a million Americans. And evangelical ideas and instincts have a way of spreading, even internationally.

There are about 41 million white evangelical adults in the U.S. About 45 percent said in late February that they would not get vaccinated against Covid-19, making them among the least likely demographic groups to do so, according to the Pew Research Center.

“If we can’t get a significant number of white evangelicals to come around on this, the pandemic is going to last much longer than it needs to,” said Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois.

As vaccines become more widely available, and as worrisome virus variants develop, the problem takes on new urgency…

Wariness of mainstream science?? I think the word you’re looking for is hostility. They’ve been waging an all out war on science ever since Darwin at least. And on any form of government and public education that does not bow to their peculiar institution. It makes them perpetually antagonistic toward the rest of the country that isn’t part of the tribe. And indifferent, completely and utterly indifferent, to the harm the practice of their beliefs may cause others. The teenage girl sexually assaulted by an older male. The gay kid thrown into an ex-gay camp. The gay couple beaten by young thugs hopped up on the righteousness coming from the pulpit. Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. They’re the right hand of god almighty, and gods don’t feel shame.

But never mind that. It is an old, very old, anti-gay trope of the religious right propaganda machine, that homosexuals spread disease…often deliberately.When HIV was killing us they not only turned their backs on us, and insisted so should everyone else, they accused us of spreading it willfully, to the rest of the country. We were a threat to the family, to civilization itself. What had come down on us was merely the fruits of our own abominable sin. We had it coming, the bible said so. Their propaganda war on The Homosexual Menace took a darker, and bloodier turn.

I remember those days. I remember how we took care of each other, and made the country take notice, and doing that discovered a strength and dignity within ourselves that we had been told since childhood was not ours to have. I remember.

Now look at who is spreading disease. Deliberately.

by Bruce | Link | React!

February 12th, 2020

It’s Not A Lifestyle And That’s Not Your Argument

Mat Staver: ‘Ex-Gay’ Bans ‘Force People Into An LGBT Lifestyle’

“Over 80 State and local governments have passed laws which effectively force people into an LGBT lifestyle,” Staver wrote on his group’s website. “Liberty Counsel is representing some of the victims of these morally shocking and deeply unconstitutional laws…”

First of all, there is no LGBT Lifestyle. That is the language of bigots. What we have are lives, and they compass all the possibilities of the human experience. Staver is admitting here, that he cannot see the people for the homosexuals. But there is something more to this. Something a tad duplicitous…

“Imagine that someone has come to you desperately pleading for help that you know you can provide. And imagine that you had undergone years of schooling and training, developing the skills and tools necessary to help that person and that you’re professionally licensed in this very field. You’re licensed to provide help, but God has called you to this work. But the law forbids you from helping because government bureaucrats, blinded by the LGBT agenda, want that person to drown in their misery.”

This will not be the argument they actually make in a court of law, since it hinges on ex-gay therapy actually being a benefit and not at all harmful, and there is ample evidence to the effect not only that it Is harmful and zero scientific evidence that it actually works. No. Note that “God has called you”.  The argument they will make in court is a religious freedom argument: that the religious beliefs of the therapists give them the right to dispense such treatments whether or not they are harmful. This is how the religious right hopes to nullify our civil rights laws.

But I would Love for them to go to court and make the argument that ex-gay therapy is medically sound and should be permitted on that basis. It would be another Proposition 8 trial debacle. Let their experts get up on the witness stand and defend their junk science. But they won’t dare, any more than they did during the Proposition 8 trial. The witness box is a lonely place to lie.

by Bruce | Link | React!

February 8th, 2020

The Devil Wears A Respectable Republican Cloth Coat . . .

I said it once before (on twitter) but it bears repeating: Bret Stephens is bad but he’s just the frat boy who yells dumb stuff at women, pulls Cs in his classes, and coasts through life on daddy’s money and connections. David Brooks is the fraternity president who lies to the cops about the pledge’s body they stuffed in the chimney.

One thing that I’ve had the misfortune to learn as I’ve gotten older is that some people are bad. Not bad on the outside/good on the inside, not “flawed”, just bad, irredeemably, sociopathically bad. David Brooks is one of these people.

Doug at Balloon Juice.

That learning as you get older, or more specifically accepting, that some people are just rotten to the core, as my bitter Baptist grandmother would often say, is one of the sadnesses about old age. Also one of its benefits.

It seems like a cop-out, just writing some people off as irredeemably, unchangeably, bad. And it’s true that you should always allow some degree of uncertainty about it, even if microscopically small. We are neither gods nor angels equipped to pass eternal judgement on anyone. But when someone tells you what they are, and does it again, and again, and again, and again, it’s probably time to start believing them. The benefit to being old is you stop being so shocked to see it in someone who looks so very respectable on the outside.

I’m a gay man. I came out to myself December 15, 1971, after my high school crush put an arm around my shoulders and I went into the stratosphere. It was magical. I was twitterpated. I have never doubted ever since that there is nothing wrong with us gay folk. But the world I was growing up in back in the 1970s had a different view. And ever since then I’ve seen probably hundreds of decent, respectable Sunday Go To Meeting people take that belly flop into the sewer with their eyes wide open every time the facts collided with their cherished prejudices. The difference between the kid I was and the oldster I am now is I believe it when I see it.

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 28th, 2019

Deathstyle by Dick Hafer – A Review

 

Possibly the most homophobic comic ever published, apart from Jack Chick’s little tracts. Now a part of the Casa del Garrett library of homophobia. I collect antigay pamphlets, tracts and assorted publications, even or especially when such like appear in the mainstream magazines I grew up with. It isn’t all fringe like this from religious right cartoonist Dick Hafer. Back in the day Everyone threw garbage at us. That was the pop culture environment this gay guy grew up in.

So why would a gay guy want to collect this awful stuff…I hear you asking. Many years ago I read an article about a collection of racist artifacts from the U.S. civil rights struggle gathered by a black gentleman over the years of his life. He kept it all he said, so people would remember what it was like fighting for equality in the days of separate but equal, and to insure that the hatred black Americans faced would not be erased.

That’s one good reason. I have another more personal one. Back in the days when I had my first Internet account, I followed a USENET newsgroup that was basically an unmoderated forum for gays and homophobes to argue with each other. I joined to better learn the methods of the enemy, and test myself against them. What I discovered, like those who would later follow the Proposition 8 trial, is there is no There there. They would lie shamelessly, then deny having lied. They would throw out this or that latest piece of junk science, which was pretty much the old junk science given a fresh coat of paint, demand our respect, then after it was debunked, throw something else equally vapid out…wash rinse repeat…over and over. They would thump the bible, then thump some junk science, then back to the bible. You came to understand pretty quickly that the argument was just an excuse to spit in our faces and remind us that we’re hated.

And yet…and yet…you could also see the gay bystanders being encouraged by the sight of gay people standing up to the bigots. If the bigots were arguing just to spit in our faces, we could call out their myths, lies and superstitions not because we had any hope of changing their minds, but to tell others that these lying conniving runts were nothing to be afraid of…and show them that the moral high ground is ours, and always was.

Why dig up old wounds? Why keep revisiting an unpleasant past? Well for one thing it’s not all in the past. Yes, gay folk have made great progress. But if bigotry and hate have anything going for them it’s persistence. The old beliefs haven’t declined, they’ve dug in for the long war. Resentfully. Bitterly. What’s changed, and it’s only this, is anyone open to the evidence of our lives can see the haters for what they are now. But that’s only because now we’re able to live our lives openly. Thank Lawrence v Texas for that. And because of that, because we can live openly without the sodomy laws hanging over us, people can see the joy and beauty, the honor and the dignity of our love. The Proposition 8 trial, where we fought for the right to marry, all the way to the Supreme Court, opened a lot of eyes; not only to the depth of our commitments, but much more importantly to the utter vacuum of the case hate made against us. There was no there, there. It opened a lot of eyes. But not every eye will be opened.

If you’ve ever wondered how the xenophobic religious right could embrace Putin and his russia screwing with our democratic institutions take a long look at his gay propaganda law. It effectively locks Russian gay people in the closet…but not the voices of prejudice and hate. Now in Russia those voices are free, free at last to throw every filthy lie they can think of at us, at our families, friends, neighbors, while we cannot speak our truths for ourselves without risking prosecution. The Franklin Grahams and Tony Perkins here at home would love to have such a law on the books here. Only that pesky first amendment and the Federal courts stand between their dream and our lives. And given what Trump and McConnell have done to the courts, they may get their wish after all.

The comic book above would be my exhibit 1 in the category of filthy lies about homosexuals…more so than the Chick tracts since, so I’m told, the Hafer comic has been widely passed around among the kook pews. And its essential hate is more polished than Chick’s. Hafer wraps the open sewer of his prejudices with a technique that allows him to present it as though it were the living waters. There’s the usual junk science, but also he employs two foils he can work against…a low class fag baiting bigot and a scarecrow militant homosexual. Between these two he can present what is essentially the same blind hostility toward gay people as the low class bigot as reasoned and measured…and then ultimately as godly and righteous.

Soon after this arrived in the mail, I began flipping through its pages. I’d already seen many of them posted here and there in the Internet tubes, but I was unprepared for the unabridged wholeness of its contempt and hate. If Orson Scott Card was a cartoonist this would probably have been the comic book he’d have produced on homosexuals and homosexuality. It’s deeper in the dark night of the soul than even R. Crumb or S. Clay Wilson ever went. All the feelings of growing up gay while hearing this crap thrown at me over and over and over again came rushing out as I began reading it.

So in the interests of my own sanity, because I just can’t let this crap slide without speaking out about it, and because debunking this stuff is a never-ending chore, and in tribute to Fred Clark’s amazing series review of the Left Behind books, I’m going to do a chapter by chapter series review of this piece of shit comic. 

Fasten your seatbelts and remember…there is no bottom to the human gutter. None.

by Bruce | Link | React!

August 10th, 2019

The Final Escape Hatch

I’m not saying it wasn’t arranged…those of us who came of age during the Nixon years understand perfectly well the futility of believing that there are limits to what powerful people in positions of power are capable of. They get that notion of godhood into their brains and it’s absolute power corrupting so on and so forth.

But consider Epstein until very recently had a life few people who have ever lived will ever grok. He had his own island, jets, a staff, socialized with billionaires and powerful men who considered him one of their own, lavish estates, and teenage girls at his beck and call. Also apparently well positioned people in the Administration, the Justice Department and the courts. He had more than enough reason to believe he was beyond the reach of the law. Until a few weeks ago.

Now he finds himself in a cell, looking at spending the rest of his life in prison, and so I’m told child molestors don’t do very well in prison. You might think of him all alone in a tiny cell where before he had his own island to enjoy, but he is not alone, and his companions are not the sort of people you find in the pages of The Robb Report or Elite Traveler. And he has to know it isn’t even rock bottom. Not yet. But rock bottom is coming.

It really isn’t surprising he would consider suicide as the only way forward. To assert it was impossible because he was on a suicide watch is to believe in a kind of prison bureaucratic infallibility I just can’t buy into. Say it would be very hard, sure. But Epstein was very smart, and so they say, affable. How do you think he got young girls to trust him? And…rich people with their money. He was a schemer and a manipulator and you don’t get to the heights he did without being good at it. Means and opportunity. A man like that could figure it out. After his near miss with the law last time he probably spent a lot of time thinking about it.

And knowing his suicide would throw grit into the machinery of justice, and even better, spawn a bazillion conspiracy theories to bedevil everyone who brought him down forever, might have actually given him some comfort on his way to oblivion.

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 26th, 2018

Atheism, Religion And Morality

This article from The New Yorker came across my Facebook news stream the other day.

I’m a subscriber and I need to make some time to sit down and read it. But just seeing this post stirred some thoughts. Specifically, it reminded me of this quote of Penn Jillette’s…

“The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me
from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want.
And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want,
and the amount I want is zero.
 The fact that these people think that if they
didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing,
raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine.”

I think there’s probably a little more to it than they don’t act on the every urge of their id because they know God wouldn’t approve. The fact is sometimes God does approve…or they think so anyway…

“You must be eliminated. God doesn’t want you anymore.”
Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, the head of Rwanda’s Seventh-day Adventist Church,
who stood trial for luring Tutsi parishioners to his church and then turning them
over to Hutu militias that slaughtered 2,000 to 6,000 in a single day.

He got ten years for his crime, and upon release from prison had the good decency to die the following month. I don’t think so, I’m an atheist, but it is a bit pleasant to wonder if perhaps God almighty had a word or two with him at the gates of eternity, about who and what He wants. Or even better still, The Ghost of Christmas Present…

“Man, if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant
until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is.
Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die?
It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and
less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child.”

There’s someone who knows how to preach. The scenes with The Ghost of Christmas Present have always been for me the highlight of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Because it’s there Scrooge is taken out of his own life and presented with the lives of others, and the way his life has touched theirs. It was not for the better. And now that he has seen it, he has to know it. There is where he begins to walk slowly, tentatively, toward his salvation. Because there was still some small something within him that we all need, lest we fall into the Pit.

Here’s the thing about morality and all of us atheist or not: Whether or not a God Almighty exists, we know our neighbors exist. We know the poor exist. We know the sick and the infirm exit. We know the refugee exists. We know those fleeing from persecution exist. We can see them. We can talk to them. We can listen to their stories. Belief in God stopped making sense to me some decades ago. But I know my neighbors exist. In my entire life I have never once seen faith turn someone away from the Abyss, or melt a heart of solid ice. But I have seen the tiniest little spec of sympathy awaken the better person within, finally, long after I was certain they were done for. I have seen it turn lives around.

It isn’t faith you need, it’s sympathy. Even if it’s just the size of a mustard seed, it will save your soul.

by Bruce | Link | React!

August 21st, 2018

Responsibility

This came across my Facebook news stream just now…

Let me say first, straight up, I am not setting the religion of my childhood over anyone else’s. For one thing, I’m an atheist now, and for another, even the religion of my childhood would have frowned on that. My bitter Baptist grandmother would say we’re all good for nothing sinners who had better spend every minute of the day repenting and asking for forgiveness…

I was baptized at a pretty young age and I remember mom getting static about it from the other church members. It wasn’t until I got older and learned that one thing setting Baptists apart was we didn’t do that because children aren’t old enough to make those kinds of decisions independently. A kid wants to please parents, family, and teachers. A kid will recite the words without really knowing what they mean, because they’re told to, and they want to please. Yeah we had to go to Sunday School and yeah we took part in communion. But Baptists probably seem weird about all that stuff too. Baptists don’t believe in sacraments. Communion is a remembrance, Baptism a rite of passage, an embrace of the faith. But it has to be wholehearted. Roger Williams, who founded the first Baptist church on American soil once declared that “forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.”

As I said, I’m an atheist now, not because I have any particular grudge against religion, Capital ‘R”, but simply because belief just doesn’t make any sense to me now. Your mileage may vary and that’s fine with me. And given the wave of “Me Too” spreading through evangelical pews these days I’m not even going to try to make Baptists sound any intrinsically better on sexual predators. But I still deeply appreciate how it was a thing, or used to be a thing, how strongly Baptists or at least northern Baptists felt that you can’t compel belief, and you can’t push responsibility onto a child who by nature cannot understand what that responsibility is.

How hard is that for an adult to understand? It just boggles my mind. Perhaps it’s true that predators tend to gravitate to authoritarian religions. Maybe this is something the pews in those faiths need to be especially watchful for. Or perhaps more likely that what Mary Renault once said, that politics and sex are merely reflections of the person within, and that if you’re mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your sex life and it will come out in your politics, when what really matters is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that, is the bigger truth here. The Baptist boy still inside of me can easily understand shrugging off and walking away from a creep like this man, because that boy was taught in the pews that the only authority that matters is the Creator and this man isn’t that. And also, that how others of other faiths can sit still for all this, or not, is up to whatever spirit moves within them.

by Bruce | Link | React!

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