“These 50 sodomites are all perverts and pedophiles, and they are the scum of the earth, and the earth is a little bit better place now,” Romero said in his sermon. “And I’ll take it a step further, because I heard on the news today, that there are still several dozen of these queers in ICU and intensive care. And I will pray to God like I did this morning, I will do it tonight, I’ll pray that God will finish the job that that man started, and he will end their life, and by tomorrow morning they will all be burning in hell, just like the rest of them, so that they don’t get any more opportunity to go out and hurt little children.”
My cartoon, for the next issue of my community newspaper, Baltimore OUTLoud…because somebody needs to say it..
This is par for the course, whenever an act of violence against gay people makes national, let alone international headlines. The pushback to erase the motivation of anti-gay hate from the crime, divert attention onto something else, real or fabricated, comes quickly after from all the usual suspects, and is forceful. And when challenged on it, they just dig their heels in. In a few months to a year there will be articles from right wing “think tanks”, and documentaries purporting to prove that homophobic animus had nothing to do with it at all, and that those of us who kept pointing it out are ourselves guilty of politicising a terrible tragedy to support the Gay Agenda. It is all so predictable. Because to acknowledge the hate that motivated it, might lead to questions about the climate of hate, and those who cultivated it for votes, and money.
And ratings. Perhaps in a few years ABC 20/20 will do a documentary explaining how it was all really a drug deal gone bad…
It was the following passage, right at the beginning of the linked article. I read stories like these and they make me really angry about what has been done to gay people…not only in the name of religion to be sure, but a certain sort of fundamentalist religion bears a lot of the blame…
On my first full-day at the Gay Christian Network annual conference, meeting in Houston, Texas, January 2016, I met a gay man, my age mate, who told me that for the past twenty years he has lived his gay Christian life committed to celibacy, but no more. Relatively recently, a pastor of a Southern Baptist church from his home state told him he could fully embrace his sexual orientation as a gift from God and enter into a same-sex marriage if he so desired. The man was, to use the expression, bursting with joy as he told me this…
…and I just want to go grab both sides A and B and yell in their faces while trying to shake some life back into them: get that goddamned cult leader off your back, whoever they are, however sincere they seem to be…Especially if they are sincere…You Do Not Need Third Party Permission To Be a Human Being!
And no, this isn’t about my being an atheist getting all holier than thou about religion. I have always had this reflex toward religiosity, or any politics for that matter, that is controlling. And that’s what this is all about; not denial of sex but denial of the heart within. There is no meaningful distance between I Give You Permission To Have That Intimate Heart-To-Heart Body And Soul Companionship and Permission Denied But Feel Free To Ache For It Until You Die Or Else God Won’t Love You And Neither Will We. None. Zero.
Listen to me, it isn’t Jesus you need to know better…it’s yourself. Love and desire are wonderful beautiful things. Finding it in another is one of this life’s perfect joys. The philosopher Lao Tzu said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Shame can only corrupt it, turn it against itself, lock you inside an insidious barbed wire fence. And the loveless soul soon becomes the empty shell for others to live vicariously in. If your faith isn’t a light within you, then it is a shroud someone’s wrapped you in. Unwrap yourself Lazarus, and go live life.
And love God if that’s where you are, or love an amazing and sublime godless cosmos if that’s where you find yourself, and especially find someone to share it all with and love each other wholeheartedly, and don’t ask Anyone’s permission!
by Bruce |
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January 5th, 2016
Yes, He’s A Kook…But What Do You Think That Means?
Just in case you’ve forgotten over the holidays how batshit crazy this man is, this clip from The Rachel Maddow Show is well worth watching. The clips of his news interviews over the birth certificate are instructive.
One hundred and four years of history is in the balance. If Trump is the Republican nominee in 2016, there might not be a conservative party in 2020 either.
But the suit and tie conservatives like Will, bellyaching that Trump might destroy the conservative movement, need to point their fingers in the mirror instead. Trump is what he is, because the kook pews are what they are, and the kook pews are what they are because the country club crowd found them useful enough to enable them. Will to this day idolizes Ronald Reagan, who began his successful campaign for the presidency in 1980 in a Mississippi city near where James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered for registering black voters, with a speech about state’s rights. He knew perfectly well what Reagan was doing that day. They all did.
Yes, Trump is nuts. What do you think that means? The moral judgement attaches to those who knew better, or could have known better had they wanted to, but took the belly flop into the gutter anyway. Morality is choice, and Trump just is what he is and his followers just are what they are. The judgement on bargains made with the devil attach to the bargainer. Donald Trump is the face in the conservative mirror.
by Bruce |
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November 24th, 2015
They Have Always Existed. But Where Did Decency Go?
This came across my Facebook stream the other day, from Jim Wright, who you should follow…
It’s not that these people exist… …it’s that you live in an America where they are cheered
That’s it. I mean…the gutter was always visible to us, but in the same way the grotesque carnival sideshow tents were always there to peek into. You could tune in the screaming pulpit thumpers on the radio dial if you knew where to look. There were phone numbers you could dial to get recorded messages from Birch Society crackpots and white supremacists. Every now and then you got a pamphlet handed to you by a man whose stare made you want to stay out of arm’s reach. There were late night talk show on the UHF band, like The Joe Pyne Show, that you might tune in to for a laugh, only to switch channels soon after because you felt like you were suffocating listening to so much hate, so off-handedly spoken into the camera.
Now the gutter is front and center in the national conversation. Only it’s not a conversation anymore because the gutter doesn’t do conversation. It just screams in your face, and then laughs when it sees that it can still shock you in a place you thought you weren’t shockable anymore…
by Bruce |
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November 14th, 2015
No…This Isn’t Asymmetrical Warfare…
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
The death cult chose its city well—Paris, secular capital of the world, as hospitable, diverse and charming a metropolis as was ever devised. And the death cult chose its targets in the city with ghoulish, self-damning accuracy—everything they loathed stood plainly before them on a happy Friday evening: men and women in easy association, wine, free-thinking, laughter, tolerance, music—wild and satirical rock and blues. The cultists came armed with savage nihilism and a hatred that lies beyond our understanding…
I appreciate the argument I’m hearing more vocally now, that there is more than just a little chickens coming home to roost element to this latest attack. Jim Wright writes that “We created this”, and he lays the blueprint of it out in meticulous and sickening detail. Yes. We created this. That is to say, we gave ammunition and delivered recruits to the culture of death McEwan speaks of.
But make no mistake, that culture of death seeks revenge against us not for the wrongs we have done to the people of the middle east, but for living, for embracing life, for embracing joy. It makes use of the desperate, the wounded, the broken, but it is not engaged in “asymmetrical warfare” as I’ve heard said. You want to see what asymmetrical warfare looks like, study how the Viet Cong waged war against the French and Americans. They killed American soldiers. Lots of them. And like the Viet Cong ISIS has also taken its war to the enemy, and chosen its targets accordingly. The gay men they’re throwing off rooftops. The women they’re stoning to death. The school children and their teachers they’re massacring. The historical artifacts they’re blowing up. The works of art they’re hacking to pieces. Compare and contrast and then consider who and what the enemy really is.
Revenge you say? Yes. Absolutely. Revenge against the living. Revenge against beauty, against intellect, against the human heart and soul for existing. Soft targets are they? Cowardly attacks on unarmed people who can’t shoot back. No. Just…no. They went after the same hated enemy in Paris that they’ve been murdering at home. Those were not soft targets but simply The targets.
Yes, we Did bring this on ourselves. As Wright says, “Terrorism grows like bacteria in warm agar, among the destruction and ruin of war. Terrorism grows in the gaps between civilization.”
“We could have rebuilt that civilization after the Soviet Union pulled out.” says Wright. “We could have made the Mujahedeen our friends. We could have. But it would have cost us money. Our money. Lots of money, vast, vast sums of it. It would have taken decades of sustained commitment. It would have taken effort. And so, instead we left. Fuck it. Not our problem.”
Well it was our problem. And it still is. We fed the beast. We need to stop doing that. We need to practice what we preach to the world about liberty and justice for all. The power of an idea is not in what it can destroy but in what it can build. If all we bring to bear on the Middle East, or anywhere else, is bombs and bullets, subversion and assassination then you have to forgive the world for thinking our ideals are no better than any tinpot dictator’s. Perhaps we stopped believing in the power of our ideals because those ideals require work, and bullets and bombs and covert operations are so much easier. Just press a button. Just pull a trigger. Just send someone else’s children off to war. Perhaps the chickens that came home to roost were the bills due on the ideals we preach but can’t be bothered to practice.
But don’t mistake the desperate wounded people the beast gives kalashnikovs and suicide jackets to for the hate that wages war on civilization vicariously through them. Doing everything Wright says we should have done would not have mollified it. It would have made it hate us all the more. But at least it wouldn’t have so many willing tools.
by Bruce |
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So soon is it after Veteran’s Day, so many are in a rush to go to war.
I know the feeling. We all do. We’re human. We bear in ourselves the ancient blood of the killer apes that walked upright on the African plains so long, long ago. We are not so far removed from them we don’t feel the pull of it. It is instinct. The hated Other challenges us, and we long to sink our teeth into them. To defend the Tribe. To protect our young. And because killing is an ancient pleasure handed down to us from the long ages of Earth. It’s the one that won’t admit that you should fear, because those ancient terrible lusts might one day take them by surprise. And in an instant, the human identity is shed.
We are more than that. The killer lives within us, but we are human, we are civilization builders, artists, and dreamers, and we don’t have to listen to the killer ape. Let us think before we act. Please.
There’s a poem…The Old Astronomer…I’m sure every astronomer knows it for these beautiful lines…
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
It’s in my will that my ashes are to be scattered in my beloved California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific near the Garrett family lands. So I will have no tombstone, but if I did I would want those words engraved on it.
To the people who planned and instigated this killing…to the people now rejoicing in it, calling for war and more war…war against the infidel, war against the hated Other, war just for the pure pleasure of war…all I can say is, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry you’ve lost your memory of what it is to be human. I’m sorry the killer ape has taken your soul away from you. I’m sorry that hate has emptied everything from within you that could have been decent and kind and noble. There are worse things that can happen to a person than to die. I see them in you now. I wish you could see them too, but you have fallen into a pit I’ve seen very few claw their way back out of. I’m sorry you are lost.
But you need to understand something. We have seen the Pillars of Creation. We have watched the stars being born, and dying, and hurling their flesh back into the universe to began the dance all over again. We have seen the horizons of other worlds. We have harvested light from the first galaxies. And we are not fearful of the night.
Would You Like The Knife Served With Or Without Love?
Oh look…the same damn thing I’ve heard a zillion times already…
No. There is absolutely nothing new about this. It’s the same old, same old. True there were lots of ex-gay outfits that claimed they could turn gay into straight. But there were always those who simply offered counseling and support for celibacy. Back in the 1980s, before the internet opened to commercial use, a user on the gay BBS I did volunteer work for, David Morrison, dived into a very rigidly conservative form of Catholicism, renounced his former gay activism, and signed on with their “Courage” (sic) ex-gay group which since 1980 has been counseling gay people against having sex. Eventually he wrote a book, “Beyond Gay”, where he argued among other things, against what he was calling “cheap sex” before he left G.L.I.B.. (He later wrote a column for the New York Post, titled “What Crime Of Hate And Anger?” in which he argued that Matthew Shepard had it coming, because he had a history of risky sexual flirting with strangers. Loving The Sinner. The right wing site Eutopia reprinted it, along with a deftly edited portion of my letter to the Post challenging it so they could wag their fingers at those of us who value our “certitude of experience” over their “certitude of Truth”…)
The neat thing about the anti-gay industrial complex is its convenient fluidity. Don’t like all that vitriolic gay bashing rhetoric? Well just walk right over here where we don’t do that. We =Love= the sinner. No, really! Think all that love the homosexual stuff is a lot of pussyfooting around what god plainly condemns? Well right over here we have all the fire and brimstone your cold little heart desires! God Hates Fags and so do We!
We can stick the knife into your gay neighbor’s heart any way that makes you comfortable…with or without love.
by Bruce |
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December 10th, 2014
Staring Into The Pit…
I link to Andrew Sullivan reluctantly, Very reluctantly, but I have to give credit where it’s due too. This livestreaming he did on the torture report is very good, the outrage in it genuine and worth sharing. You should feel that outrage too.
“The barbarism was the very opposite from a few bad apples at the bottom of the pile, as they tried to persuade us at Abu Ghraib. The bad apples were at the very top of the chain of command, rotting this country’s reputation and honor from the top down. And those begin with Bush and Cheney and Tenet. They are now wanted men. And they will go abroad again – at their legal peril. And so America becomes a legal sanctuary for war criminals. As long as they are our war criminals.”
Like a lot of Americans, I believe in that liberty and justice for all stuff, and government of the people, by the people and for the people, and I want so much to be proud of the way my country embodies those principles. Civilization stands or falls on them. But it is not always so. Just ask the native Americans, just ask the sons and daughters of the slaves, just ask the peaceful protestors of any decade who felt the club and the boot. Mary Renault, at the end of her novel about the poet Simonides, wrote “In all men evil is sleeping; the good man is he who will not awaken it, in himself or in other men.” That sense we often feel among us, of American exceptionalism, ought rightly to impart a sense of obligation, as something every generation is called to live up to, because we are human after all, and with the potential for great good comes the potential for great evil. But too often powerful evil people manage to turn that sense of ourselves and our purpose into cheap bar stool nationalism, an excuse to congratulate ourselves as we look the other way at the evil done in our name, in the name of our country. They need to be held accountable. Or history will hold us accountable, and laugh at all the times we waved our flag as if it stood for anything more than a place on a map.
by Bruce |
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December 4th, 2014
What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love And Understanding? Let Me Explain…
This came across my Twitter stream today…
@teamyasumura: “For Real: When first on TV in 1966, ‘Star Trek’ was not shown in many Southern states because it portrayed integration.”
I remember watching a broadcast of the Emmy awards when I was a kid. I Spy had only been on for one season but one of the production crew, not sure who now, won an award for the work he’d done on the show and on the podium after accepting his little statue said he wanted to thank the producer. “Sheldon Leonard”, he said, “has a lot of guts.”
I had no idea what he was talking about and I was 13 years old so I let it slide. It wasn’t until many years later, when I read about how some local TV station owners in some parts of the country would reliably get up in arms whenever a show wasn’t sufficiently respectful to race bigots, that I saw what he was talking about. Basically in 1965, by casting a black man, Bill Cosby, as one of the two series leads, he was thumbing his nose at a lot of TV station owners, who between them represented a lot of potential audience.
My generation thought we’d lived to see the day our country put all that behind us. We were wrong. Horribly, laughably, wrong. All that peace love and understanding stuff we believed in didn’t amount to crap. The bitter rage of the gutter only deepened, and bided its time.
I think some part of me did eventually see it, about a decade or so ago, when I first read about towns that buried their community swimming pools, rather than allow blacks to use them too. I remember being stunned. You buried…the whole goddamned pool?? We failed to understand the power…and the potent venom…of race hatred. We failed to appreciate how hate alone can sustain the hater for decades, for generations all carefully taught. And now it is all coming back. We achieved nothing. We were irrelevant.
Declining to seriously reckon with the rape allegations against him is reckless. And I was once reckless.
This entire episode probably grieves him and other black Americans worse than it does me, but I am put into a very dark place by it. I deeply respected this man, not simply as an entertainer but as a moralist.
Coates talks here about an article he wrote for The Atlantic that was published 2008, after following Cosby around the country for a couple years as he lectured the black community on morality. He writes that Cosby, “…was not speaking as a man sent to assure a group that racism did not exist, but as a man who sincerely believed that black people, through the ethic of “twice as good,” could overcome. That is the core of respectability politics. Its appeal is broad in both black and white America, and everywhere Cosby went he was greeted with rapturous applause.”
Perhaps there’s an answer in there, better than the cynical one; that when all is said and done, humans are no damn good. That’s almost where I wanted to go when it finally hit me that he really did these things.
Bad enough that white racists are going to be pointing at this as though it were proof of every filthy lie about black people they can imagine. Worse that everyone might take it as further proof that humans in general are no damn good. When someone you once idealized as an example of the better things within us turns out to be…this…it leaves you a little emptier inside, a little less reluctant to give up on the human race. But misanthropy is just another way of giving up, of taking the easy way out when you discover life is harder than you thought.
I was this same kid Coates talks about himself being. I have not been raped, but I have had the same experience with bullies he did. Maybe this is what gives the outcast boy a greater sense of sympathy with the fear women have to constantly live with…
Rape constitutes the loss of your body, which is all you are, to someone else. I have never been raped. But I have, several times as a child, been punched, punched/stomped/kicked/bumrushed while walking home from school, and thus lost my body. The worst part for me was not the experience, but the humiliation of being unable to protect my body, which is all I am, from predators. Even now as I sketch this out for you publicly, I am humiliated all again.
I know that feeling well. And this is why the accusations ring true to some of us, even in the absence of proof…
And this happened when I was a child. If recounting a physical assault causes me humiliation, how might recounting a sexual assault feel? And what would cause me to willingly stand up and relive that humiliation before a national audience? And why would I fake my way through such a thing? Cosby’s accusers—who have no hope of criminal charges, nor civil damages—are courting the scrutiny of Cosby-lovers and rape-deniers. To what end?
And this is why it is so excruciatingly hard for some of us to accept…
It is hard to believe that Bill Cosby is a serial rapist because the belief doesn’t just indict Cosby, it indicts us. It damns us for drawing intimate conclusions about people based on pudding-pop commercials and popular TV shows. It destroys our ability to lean on icons for our morality. And it forces us back into a world where seemingly good men do unspeakably evil things, and this is just the chaos of human history.
I didn’t pay that much attention to Cosby’s moral sermons at the black community, because it felt like listening in on a family argument that really wasn’t any of my business. White Americans have their own house to clean up and that other Americans have their issues is neither reason nor excuse for ours. When Cosby’s moralizing to his black neighbors did cross my mind I felt torn. “Twice as good” isn’t fair, isn’t right, is proof if it’s anything of the pernicious failure of white middle America to look at the stranger’s face and see ourselves. But I believed in the principle right enough, if not “twice as good”, then good at the very least: that to change your world you must become the change you wish to see. Set an example. You can preach at people until you are blue in the face and it just goes in one ear and out the other.
And there’s the problem. Cosby went on a moral crusade. I stayed out of it, because I am white, and we have our own house to get in order. But how many times have gay people seen this behavior? And I despair whenever I hear gay people conclude because of it, that morality is nothing more than the bigot’s scold, a weapon the powerful use to keep the rest of us down. Morality is our friend. Right and wrong really do exist as objective concepts. Otherwise, why care about what Cosby did. A lot of people, a lot of the same sort of people, drape themselves in moral robes like they drape themselves in the flag. Patriotism isn’t the last refuge of a scoundrel, religion and morality are. Remember this: often, very often, people will go on moral crusades so they don’t have to look at the wreck they’ve made of their own inner lives. The true moralist preaches by example.
This is the gutter’s response to the head of the the National Institutes of Health’s comments the other day that a decade or more of republican assaults on science and research has had consequences. Oh no, says Erickson…we were simply reigning in all that wasteful spending on frivolous things like why lesbians are overweight.
Of course, obesity is a health concern, and it’s a fact that Americans are generally heavier now than in decades past, so that makes it a public health concern. And if we can get a handle on the causes of obesity we can improve the health of Americans and Americans can live longer and healthier lives and hopefully it reduces public spending on health care. But Erickson’s kind don’t think that way. To really understand how they think, you have to get past the gratuitous insult to lesbians in what he’s saying. Because beneath that what he seems to be saying is he really thinks it’s tragic the money didn’t go to an Ebola vaccine.
And if that doesn’t make you laugh out loud you haven’t been paying attention to Erickson and his kind, because without a doubt if that money Had gone to Ebola research he’d have been loudly bellyaching about all that money being spent on Africans and the republicans in congress would have gleefully cut the funding for it…ostensibly on the grounds that the money should be spend on the health of Americans instead. But of course…Africans!
Because disease doesn’t matter unless it’s killing people who matter, and black Africans don’t matter any more than homosexuals matter. And when disease Does start killing people who matter, then it’s Why Aren’t You Doing Something!!!
by Bruce |
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Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.
“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
“He had it all, but he had nothing. He made everybody else laugh but was miserable inside. I mean, it fits a certain picture, or a certain image that the left has. Talk about low expectations and general happiness and so forth…” – Rush Limbaugh on the death of Robin Williams.
I would rather suffer the burden Robin Williams had and let it beat me down like it did him, than endure that empty void Limbaugh has where a conscience ought to be and let it put a smile on my face while it tells me I’m so much better than all those bleeding hearts.
by Bruce |
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