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May 7th, 2020

It’s In The Wiring

When I was a young man, and out to myself and mostly comfortable with it, I was invited to go on a motorcycle ride with a friend’s girlfriend, to see her father’s place. It would be, so she said, of interest to an artist such as myself. And so it was. She was rightly proud of him, but also a tad reluctant to let people meet him. He was of the sort of random creative genius whose artwork could not be contained. He’d made himself a house inside an old airplane hanger the interior of which seemed like an art museum. A haphazard yet fascinating art museum.

‘C’ invited me on a drive to see him on her BMW motorcycle. It was only the second motorcycle I’d ever taken a ride on, the first one being her boyfriend’s Harley. Her boyfriend and I were pals going back to when we were both teenagers and by that time he’d let me have lots of rides on his hog. I loved it. Plus, the design of the seats on a hog were such that the passenger on the back rode a tad higher than the driver, allowing you a better view.

‘C’s BMW had a seat that left the passenger staring into the back of the driver’s helmet unless you were taller, which I wasn’t. I got on and she started out and I put my hands on her hips because that was the only place I had to keep a grip on. She didn’t seem to mind.

As I said, by then I was out to myself, had been for years, and fairly comfortable with the idea of being sexually attracted to men. I knew at some deep down level that it wasn’t a matter of being afraid of women like the couch psychiatrists said. I wasn’t afraid of them, I was never sexually abused, nobody turned me homosexual. I simply had no interest. Women were not on my radar the way guys were. Some guys. Cute sexy guys (see my recent art posts). I wasn’t repelled, I just had no interest.

And just then all I wanted was to make sure I wouldn’t fall off the back of ‘C’s BMW. So I reached around and held onto her hips. It was the first time I’d really put my hands on and held onto a woman in my own age group. I had plenty of hugs from mom, and maybe though I don’t recall some of my other older female family and the other church women. This was a young women who, had I been a heterosexual male, I should have found myself attracted to, at least to some degree. She was lithe, physically fit, beautiful according to my left brain. My friend was head over heels in love with her.

My hands instantly discovered how soft and…well…squishy her body was. And my instantaneous reflex deep down inside was along the lines of Oh, that’s…odd…

This was a fairly outdoorsy, athletic young woman. And yet her body was…soft. Well defined, shapely even, according to my left brain anyway. You wouldn’t look at her and see anything overweight about her. But her body was…soft. Which I understood to be how it was with women. Logically I supposed this was something that excited heterosexual males about a woman’s body. But that was the first time I’d actually felt it. And it seemed strange. By then I’d had my hands on the hips of her boyfriend, ‘B’ many times while riding with him. For a short time I even had a crush on him. But if he wasn’t a perfect Kinsey 0 he was close to it. 

I remembered something much later after our ride…how ‘B’ had given me a ride on his hog one hot summer day. We had on our helmets, jeans and light summer shirts. His was opened in the front. Suddenly he told me to hang on, because he was going to punch it…something he knew I loved. That Harley might not have been race track material, but it had massive amounts of torque. When you got those flywheels going and banged it up a gear it was stunning. So I reached around and this one time my hands connected with the bare flesh over his stomach, felt the muscle under his skin, and instantly this electric sexual thrill shot right through me.

I never told him.

But there it is. In a nutshell, the difference between a male body and a female’s. It’s not just genitalia. It’s the physical totality of it. One is exciting. The other is…meh. That isn’t something you learn like a bad habit. It is how you’re wired.

When I was a teenager this was something the heterosexual majority didn’t seem to want to know. But we knew. To a more limited degree I knew the moment I came out to myself, while crushing on a male classmate. It was how I was wired. Nothing else made sense to me. And if you’re ever wondering why the secular and religious right have been on a scorched earth culture war against science and education, here’s a data point about that…

Dr. Richard Friedman, Who Debunked Homosexuality Myth, Dies at 79

In an important book, he challenged the widely held Freudian notion that same-sex attraction was curable, finding it instead rooted in biology.

We have been telling them this since Stonewall…those of us not so badly damaged we desperately sought out a cure for something that needed no cure. But science has been telling them this same something about us for decades now, that they’ve never wanted to hear: That human sexuality, let alone reality, doesn’t not care what their religious and moral dogmas say. It is what it is. And what it is, is older than the fish, let alone the mammals, let alone the primates, let alone us. We bear within us every waking moment of our day the living history of hundreds of millions of years of life on earth. And those ancient tides will pull and tug on his whether or not they make sense to the lives we live now. We can be our best, only when we honestly try to understand how those threads move within us. Only then can we learn how to honorably live with them.

His 1988 book, “Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective,” showed that sexual orientation was largely biological and presented a case that helped undermine the belief held by most Freudian analysts at the time that homosexuality was a pathology that could somehow be cured.

When the bird and the bird book disagree, believe the bird. We are not that different from our heterosexual neighbors. We can make our contribution to civilization. But we have to be allowed wholeness. Damaged humans, do damaged things. To themselves. To each other. 

There is nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. Science has been telling them that for decades now, and that is one reason why science, reason and education became the number one enemies in their scorched earth culture wars. We were just the convenient scapegoats of men who hate existence, and beauty, and the awe and wonder of love and desire, and everything fine and noble a human can be, that they cannot. 

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 | Comments Off on It’s Not A Lifestyle And That’s Not Your Argument

September 14th, 2016

Some Of My Best Friends Are Abominations

Le Dance Pathetique…as choreographed by  Social Security Administration employee David Hall

“In support of an inclusive work environment, as well as exemplary customer service, the Social Security Administration recently announced a diversity and inclusion training on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community to our employees…The training includes a brief session on tips for increasing cultural awareness in a diverse and inclusive environment.”

Un…

For Hall, that premise was too sinful. The 42-year-old, who identifies as Christian, said he does not believe God would have wanted him to watch the video.

Deux…

Signing a statement he had watched such a video, moreover, was equal to endorsing “an abomination,” he told WCIA.

Trois…

“I’m not going to certify sin.”

Quatre…

He told WCIA during an interview that the video was propaganda…

Cinq…

Hall added he has LGBT friends.

 

Le Curtian…Applaus a vous…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Some Of My Best Friends Are Abominations

August 23rd, 2016

Sympathy From The Devil

This started making the rounds yesterday…

A New Regnerus? Anti-Equality Groups Promote New Study on Sexual Orientation and Gender

Anti-equality organizations are enthusiastically promoting a new study on sexual orientation and gender, hoping it will be new culture war ammunition.

The study by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh appears in “The New Atlantis,” a journal co-published by the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Center for the Study of Technology and Science, which shares an address with EPPC. The New Atlantis is not a peer-reviewed journal, and has critiqued peer review, widely considered the gold standard in scientific publishing.

I first caught wind of this from a headline on a religious right website that appeared in my Google news page. I did a search to see what I could find out about it. There wasn’t much at that point, and I got less than a page of hits back. But Every Single One was to a religious right website, or a political website deeply aligned with the religious right.

That’s telling. A real science paper will appear first in the science journals and then percolate out from there into the commercial press depending on the popular interest in its topic. But for some time now what we’ve seen is that junk science from the anti-gay industrial complex first hits some right wing vanity publication with a sciencey sounding name, or a small journal easily compromised by a big right wing foundation with buckets of money, and at the same exact time it also hits one or more of the big players in the religious right echo chamber, and from there it spreads; first via the usual suspects like World News Daily, and talk radio, and then into the commercial press when it smells a controversy. That was the pattern with the Mark Regnerus paper on children (allegedly but actually not) raised by same sex couples. What this is telling you is that the paper is part of an orchestrated campaign. Real science doesn’t work like that. Religious right junk science only works like that.

I haven’t read the paper yet, but the press releases say it makes two basic points. You need to understand that both of these points are actually long standing religious right anti-gay tropes: First, that there is no evidence that a homosexual orientation is innate at birth…Second, that social stigma does not account for how mentally unstable homosexuals are. These have both been a part of the homophobe chorus since at least the 1970s.

The first simply digs in its heels and refuses to accept any of the mountains of evidence that sexual orientation is innate, at least in part if not wholly genetically determined, and cannot be changed through any kind of therapy. And that, as I read the first wave of reviews, is what this paper does, although it seems to acknowledge that the twins study does indicate a genetic “predisposition”, but that is homophobe doublespeak. The dogma is homosexuality is a perverse sexual addiction that people are either lured into or fall into through godlessness, bad habits and low morals, and which they can always choose to not act on. These arguments quickly start sounding like arguments about creationism versus evolution, and that is no coincidence. It is the same exact mindset.

The second point the paper makes neatly dovetails with the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness and removing it from the list of known mental illnesses only happened because militant homosexuals pressured the psychiatric profession into it. This knife in the back mythology as to how the understanding of homosexuality and sexual orientation evolved and changed among social scientists and professionals has a long, long history, and it is a foundational belief among the few still practicing reparative therapy like Joseph Nicolosi and his organization NARTH.

Which makes the smarmy dedication Lawrence Mayer places at the beginning of the paper he co-authored all the more loathsome…

In his preface, co-author Mayer dedicates his work to the LGBT community, “which bears a disproportionate rate of mental health problems compared the population as a whole,” and to “scholars doing impartial research on topics of public controversy.” He declares himself a supporter of equality and opponent of anti-LGBT discrimination.

You have never had spit flung in your face so sweetly. This bullshit about being an LGBT supporter is also one with a long pedigree, going back to every 1950s movie with a sick and pathetic faggot character and a plea for sympathy for the mentally ill…

 


“And here I was and I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t stop.
I thought if I could have just one night, I could get it out of my system.   Just one more time…”

 

We should not  be cruel to these poor sick creatures, they can’t help themselves… But to say you disagree with abusing the mentally ill is not to say you are supportive of LGBT people, let alone our civil rights, let alone the pursuit of science. There is nothing wrong with us. The science has been demonstrating that for decades now. If you can’t see that it’s because you are not interested in the science.

Which the two men who wrote this paper manifestly are not. They did not publish in a respected peer reviewed journal but in a right wing vanity publication in tandem with what was clearly a prepublication publicity campaign in the religious right echo chamber. That is not how science works.

But it’s how the kultar kampf is waged in the kook pews.   There is a pattern to this that is becoming routine.   A new paper is published in some science publication nobody has ever heard of before, that refutes the last 50 years of research on homosexuality and sexual orientation. The echo chamber picks up on it and next thing you know the entire religious right is trumpeting this new research that proves homosexuality is a cancer on society, or at the very least a tragic mental illness a civilized society should find a cure for, but certainly not grant special rights to. From there it moves into the popular press, and suddenly it’s in all the papers and news broadcasts.

Now it starts getting the critical attention it had been avoiding in the vanity press. But no matter that: critical attention always lags behind that first exuberant wave of publicity. Debunking takes time, and usually demands the attention of the reader more than the initial sound bite headlines the paper has already generated. So several news cycles, maybe even a year can go by before the debunking takes hold. In the meantime the homophobes have the stage practically all to themselves. This is what happened with the Regnerus study.

And then…it stops. The sails lose their wind. The curtain is drawn back. The lies are exposed. The commercial press moves on. Gay folk and our allies learn how to debunk the latest round of religious right junk science. The public conversation turns away from the latest faux controversy…

…and the haters duck back into the shadows…back into the echo chamber…repeating the same lies to themselves over and over…embellishing them even…holding onto them as long established truths that no amount of fact checking can touch…because in the gutter the only facts that matter are the ones prejudice and hate tell them that matter…

Soon there will be a new study…another paper…another round of it to go with the human gutter. Ask the Jews how long they’ve been dealing with it. Ask your black neighbors. Ask any hated minority.   They say love always wins. Perhaps. But hate never gives up. Because it has nothing else.

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

June 13th, 2016

The Hate Excuser’s Song

owen_jones_leaves

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…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Hate Excuser’s Song

May 12th, 2016

The Proof In The Hate Pudding

Paul Krugman is, as usual, shines a spotlight on something that in normal circumstances wouldn’t need a spotlight for everyone to see it…

Paul Krugman: Trump is appealing to aggrieved white men by lying to them  (Salon)

Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.

What Donald Trump has been doing is telling the base that it can order à la carte. He has, in effect, been telling aggrieved white men that they can feed their anger without being forced to swallow supply-side economics, too…

The truly interesting thing is how abruptly, how completely, the religious right became irrelevant in the Trump onslaught. Your gay and lesbian neighbors have questioned the sincerity of religious objections to gay equality for decades, and here I think is the proof in the pudding. It was, in the main, never about religious belief. Religion was just an excuse…something to wrap their bar stool prejudices in so they wouldn’t have to see a bigot staring back at them in the bathroom mirror. See it now. When it came time to choose between the religious fanatic and mount a grand crusade against Satan for the glory of god,  or  the fascist demagogue who gave  them permission to glory in their cheapshit prejudices, the bulk of the voters ran immediately to the demagogue.  And now the fundamentalist  true believers suddenly find the pews are looking a tad empty.

There’s what was going on all this time. All that talk of a moral majority. All that talk of a  Christian nation. All that talk about putting god back in the classroom, and in the seats of government. All those ten commandment monuments  that sprang up all over the country  in the years since Brown v. Board of Education…at the same time public swimming pools were being buried rather than let  the colored kids  swim there too. All those private Christian schools…with their prohibitions against interracial dating. I’ve no doubt that religious fervor moved a great many who gravitated to the republican party over the decades and felt nothing but contempt and scorn for the morals they saw in the world around them. But it is a peculiar sort of Christianity that has no charity either, toward the poor, the stranger, the outcast, and it was never a force in numbers. Not by itself.  

It turns out that many who sat with them in the pews and sang the hymns and put some money in the plate had simply adopted the brand, for lack of anything else capable of  preserving their  self respect. We are not racists. We are not bigots. We are Christians.  As soon as a messiah came to deliver them from that bondage they flocked to him in relief, without even a goodbye and thanks for all the grape juice and crackers.

There’s what was going on all that time. There’s what was going on.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

April 5th, 2016

The Bathroom Predators of North Carolina

This from Daily KOS…

North Carolina GOP now in full-on delusional damage control after losing PayPal over HB2

Here’s the GOP spin…

“When Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts teamed up with a convicted child sexual predator to pass a radical bathroom policy allowing men to use girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms, the Governor warned her the legislature would take immediate action to protect North Carolina families. If Jennifer Roberts, [Attorney General]  Roy Cooper and the far-left Political Correctness Mob she’s unleashed really care about the economic future of her city, they’ll stop the misinformation campaign immediately and start telling the truth about this commonsense bathroom safety law before more damage is done to the city she was elected to lead and the state Cooper was elected to protect.”

The transparent subterfuge here is the bill was about bathroom safety. “Bathroom Safety” was the window dressing. Hate mongering toward transgendered people was the grease by which they deftly erased every civil rights law protecting women and minorities in North Carolina, and for extra added effect, also nullified local minimum wage laws. You find yourself wondering if the African American members of the legislature who voted for HB2 understood they were voting to erase their own civil rights protections in state law. But there are people who will cut off their own noses to spite their neighbor’s face.

By now anybody who can read knows it went much Much further than bathrooms, and never mind that the bathroom issue was bogus as well. But here they are, still spinning a tale that it was just a bill to protect children from bathroom predators. You may conclude that they’ve managed to delude even themselves as to what they were up to. But no…this is how the culture war game is played. And more to the point, this is how hate corrupts the human spirit. If they’ve deluded themselves about anything in North Carolina it’s this: the ends do not justify the means. The means rather, foretell the ends. There is no path to the greater good that is paved with lies. That path leads elsewhere.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Bathroom Predators of North Carolina

November 7th, 2015

Where Did The Fun Go…?

This post may distress some of my friends but such is life, and I have a point I’d like to make for those of us who like to play with guns. Play safely, play responsibly, but play. Target shoot, skeet, blasting away at cans you gather up on your way to your favorite shooting spot in the woods. I have something I’d like to say to all of you.

I’ve owned guns since I was in my twenties and a friend introduced me to the shooting sports. He took me to a place in the country and let me shoot his little Ruger Mark 1. A “plinking gun”, it fired the 22 rim fire cartridges you used to buy by the bricks of 500 or so, and just go out into the woods and blast away at cans set up on a wooden plank. Afterwards I developed a smallish interest in the hobby, and over the years bought several firearms of my own, some for household defense, but mostly just for fun.

For most of us who do this, it isn’t about bloodlust. We don’t want to kill anything. We are not into vigilante fantasies or Red Dawn hallucinations. There’s a primitive, elemental attraction to fire, and things that go bang. We are mostly I think, the kids who liked watching thunderstorms, and playing with firecrackers. Yeah it’s dangerous stuff, but back in the day you were given the warnings, told how to play safe, listened to the stories about what happens when you don’t play safe, and still allowed to have those dangerous childhood pleasures. It’s a different world now.

I haven’t been in a gun store, just to look around, in decades now. Some months ago a friend asked me to drive him to a gun store where he had one of the rifles he inherited on consignment. My hobby as I said, was never more than a middling interest. I can get ammo at most sporting goods stores and some department stores (I refuse to walk into a WalMart), but I don’t often need to. A lot of indoor ranges insist you buy their rounds, I suppose to make sure nobody brings in anything unsafe.  I settled on a set of household guns decades ago and haven’t felt the need to buy any new ones since. My camera hobby, and my road trips demand most of my discretionary budget. But just the other day  I let my friend take me to a store in my old hometown to buy a part for one of my rifles. It was depressing. And now that I think of it, it’s the same thing I noticed at the other store my friend who had the rifle on consignment took me to.

When I started my hobby decades ago, you could walk into a gun store and see a wide variety of firearms. You saw little 22 plinkers like the Ruger that got me started. You saw professional match grade pistols. There were the usual self defense weapons, but also nicely engraved collectibles and reproductions. I once bought a replica civil war revolver, fully functional if you bought the black powder, balls and caps for it. I loved that gun…it went off with a great big wizard of oz belch of fire and smoke. After about ten shots you had to completely disassemble and clean it because black powder leaves so much residue behind it will jam the gun eventually. But I don’t want black powder in the house anymore and I don’t think any indoor range even allows them (way too much smoke) so I haven’t shot that gun in ages. But some years ago, while visiting Tombstone Arizona, I saw some replica Smith and Wesson 44 caliber black powder revolvers and I was tempted. Back then Colt had started making its old civil war era revolvers again, starting the serial numbers, so they claimed, right where they’d left off. The only difference between the new and the old would have been in the way better steel and manufacturing techniques used. So one wondered if the term “replica” was even appropriate.

You saw collectibles in various finishes, some with fantastically intricate engraving and inlays, in lovely custom display cases made with beautiful woods.   Expensive commemoratives you wouldn’t dare shoot. Some of art you saw applied to rifles and handguns  was just beautiful. Some of it was embarrassingly hilarious. My friend and I still joke about the nickle plated Smith and Wesson revolver we saw at one store  just outside of Washington D.C., with pearl grips and the words “SUPER STUD” engraved in gold on the side of the frame. Just saying the words SUPER STUD is enough to set us both off, even now.

You saw rifles of all kinds, shapes and sizes. One gun store I used to frequent had a Weatherby I longed for, though it was completely impractical for any kind of hunting I could possibly do here in Maryland, even were I into hunting. But the wooden rifle stock…I swear it was the most beautiful piece of wood I’d ever seen, and my mom had a nice German console HiFi that was solid mahogany (and which I deeply regret now not keeping).   No need to kill anything with it…just to wield the fire from that rifle at a paper target at a distance would have been a pure pleasure. I am not a big guy, that gun would have challenged me. But mastering it would have been Fun. But no way could I have afforded a Weatherby then, and I am not in the market for such an expensive rifle now.

The point is, you used to see a wide spectrum of stuff in a gun store. That was not what I saw when I walked into one a few days ago.

There is an understandable pushback now against sales of military style rifles. I appreciate that, even if as a gun owner myself I take issue with how the arguments are often framed. A rifle is a rifle is a rifle. It’s not how it looks, it’s how it functions. I have no problem with limiting the functionality of personal firearms to keep them from being used as instruments of mass destruction. I am very much  for that. Some sorts of weapons, more aggressive in nature than defensive,  are reasonably  limited to the police and the military. I see the logic in limiting the number of rounds in a clip. I see the logic in keeping assault rifles, which unlike the ambiguous term “assault weapon” is a specific term for a specific kind of soldier’s rifle, off limits to private sales.  If you want to play with them go join the army. But just because you replaced the wooden stock of one rifle with a plastic faux military one, that does not change the fundamental characteristics of the weapon itself. Slapping a large capacity magazine on it Does. Fine. Keep those off the market. If you like, mandate a change in the frames of rifles that take them so only small capacity magazines will fit (although I don’t know what you’ll do with all the rifles already out there…). But a rifle is a rifle is a rifle.

An AR-15 looks and handles very much like an M-16 but it is not an M-16. It’s functionality is limited so it can be sold to private individuals. Yes it can be retrofitted to bring it up to that level of military capacity. That isn’t  legal except for the high capacity magazines which in my opinion should not be sold over the counter anyway, and it does not change the fact that functionally it is pretty much the same as any other magazine loading semi-automatic rifle.  Or to put it another way, the logic of outlawing sales of an AR-15 would also outlaw the sales of Any semi-automatic rifle, and I think I am reasonably allowed to object to that without being called a gun nut. People mock the argument that it’s only cosmetics that separates the so called assault weapon from the sportsman’s rifle, but that’s what it is if it does not change the functionality of the weapon itself. You’re focusing on the appearance and not the functionality.

But that’s an argument that cuts both ways too.  Which brings me to what was so depressing about what I saw a few days ago.

What I saw was almost exclusively military style cosmetics. It was everywhere in that store. Dark plastic stocks and grips mostly. The usual camouflage paint. Various patriotic slogans engraved on some of them. Some red white and blue painted frames no less. There was one rifle painted in a kind of tie-dye scheme that I thought was fun in a flippant way, but even that one could not  relieve the dire seriousness of the rest of the inventory. It was all about the military look and feel. I felt like I’d just walked into a tea party open carry convention. Now instead of the shooting sports, you had preparations for some sort of civil unrest that any sane person would  hope to god never comes to pass. It all seemed to be about the culture war now…with guns being the totem, the talisman, the fetish of the tribe.

I saw no plinking guns. I saw no match or hunting rifles. The only wooden stock I saw was on what looked like a WWII style combat rifle. There was a great big Don’t Tread On Me flag behind the counter. This was not the world into which I first walked into a gun store  many years ago.  

Deep down inside I’m a peaceful kinda guy who just likes things that go bang. I understand those things can be dangerous. I accept the responsibility for handling them safely. I accept the responsibility for owning and using those things in accordance with the law. I accept that because they present a danger to my neighbors, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has the right, it has the obligation, to regulate their purchase and use. Our shared public spaces convey shared responsibilities and obligations.

But more than all of that, I accept that a rule of law is what makes civilization possible, and that if you don’t like the outcome of an election, you love your country by respecting the process and working within it to change things. Private ownership of firearms  is a right that makes perfect sense in the context of democracy, but they  not our defense against tyranny, the ballot box is.  And I very much resent being lumped in with a bunch of sociopathic anti-government anarchists simply because they like to babble on and on about their right to keep and bear arms.  

I guess it’s hard to nearly impossible for some folks who just don’t like guns to separate the sporting aspect of them, the fun you can have shooting them, from blood and death and destruction. I  hear so much from my liberal friends about how guns are designed  to kill people and that’s all you need to know about them. Well it isn’t. But that is just what I saw in that gun store too.  And that’s what depressed me, and why I sat down to write this longish blog post. Everyone seems to agree now, left and right, that the only thing guns are good for is killing  each other.

Now it’s all about war. The fun was gone. The fun seemed long forgotten.

I hate what has happened to my country some days…

[Edited…and edited again…sorry…I just want to make myself clear on this…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Where Did The Fun Go…?

November 5th, 2015

There’s A Message There For You Too Mrs. Boynes

On Facebook yesterday, Janet Boynes Ministries posted a link to an  article applauding the outcome in Houston with this statement:

Houston voters just sent a very strong message to the homosexual lobby, don’t mess with Texas!

But the message from Houston, and Texas generally these days, is Please don’t mess with Texas. Because  Texas can’t cope. Texas is afraid. It’s afraid of brown skinned people. It’s afraid of well educated people. It’s afraid of people of different religions, different Christians, godless heathens. It’s afraid of Teh Gay. It’s afraid of transgendered people. Please don’t mess with us because we’re a mess…

George Takei hit the right note yesterday:

Fear indeed can be a powerful weapon, but it ultimately never can defeat love. Those who deploy it always wind up on the wrong side of history, which will remember you as heroes and them as mere bullies. -George Takei

George Takei Statement

This from a man who would know from first hand experience what the ignorant fears and paranoias of the many  can do  to minorities.  There’s another message here Mrs. Boynes, but you will need to step back from the immediate moment to see it clearly.

When I came out to myself as a gay teenager back in 1971 all but 2 states had sodomy laws. Now I could legally marry the man I love, and in a state (Maryland) whose voters approved same-sex marriage at the ballot box. “The arc of the moral universe is long,” said King, “but it bends towards justice.” And I am old enough to have witnessed the progress of that arc from Hardwick v Bowers to last night, when the only way bigots could get a non-discrimination law protecting a hated minority repealed was to make their case in the toilet. When I was 17, a law protecting sexual minorities would have been laughed out of the conference room, if not tarred and feathered. Now you have to make scarecrows out of bathroom icons. Even in those lopsided victories hate can manage in the reddest of red states, that’s gotta be depressing.

And I have witnessed over and over again in my own lifetime the truth of what Takei is saying. Where is Anita Bryant now? Where are any of the hatemongers of the 60s, 70s and 80s? At the same time Prop 1 was defeated Salt Lake City elected a Lesbian as mayor. Salt Lake City mind you, not San Francisco.

There’s your message Mrs. Boynes. You should read it sometime. We are not fighting for special rights. We are not fighting for social approval. We are not fighting for the right to  take a pee. If you could see the people for the homosexuals, for the transgendered, for the Other that Texas  fears and loaths, you’d understand why we will pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves off, and get back to work on it. Hearts of gold. Spines of steel.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on There’s A Message There For You Too Mrs. Boynes

October 2nd, 2015

Tangled Webs

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

blindsided

This is all of a piece with the cathedral of lies the homophobes have been building over the decades. All that junk science, all those lies about the lives of gay people, all that meticulously crafted misinformation. It was supposed to sway the masses and win them the culture war. Instead it’s cocooned them in a fantasy world. No, the Catholic church is nowhere near as gay friendly as the way more humane than Ratzinger ever was Francis is making it seem. But the same people at Liberty Council who have been manipulating Davis for their own ends, really thought they could manipulate the highest levels of the Catholic church too.

As my bitter Baptist grandma used to say, oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. And the first person you deceive when you start down that path, is yourself.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Tangled Webs

May 25th, 2015

My Poor City…

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

sbc_gay_son

“I pray that the church will no longer be segregated,” he [pastor Danny Cortez]  explained. “I pray that those who have been marginalized would feel safe in our churches. I pray that we as the church would set aside our difference and learn what it means to be the body of Christ.”

Well good luck with that. Your congregation, save for the few who’ve decided to walk out on it for your loving your son more than the Southern Baptist Convention, understands. And something Baptists understand, if not the SBC, is the local congregation is the community that matters when it comes to church business.

The convention’s Constitution states that “churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”

Homosexual behavior.  Homosexual behavior.  Homosexual behavior. That same-sex couples experience a wholeness of body and soul, love and desire, completely escapes them. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.  That really is the thinking here. They are utterly incapable of seeing the son for the homosexual, the father for the Endorser Of Homosexual Behavior, the congregation for the Church Not In Cooperation.

Cortez’s letter comes just days before the the Southern Baptist Convention could vote to exclude New Heart Community Church at its scheduled in Baltimore later this week.

My poor city. Hasn’t it had enough bad publicity?  I can see it now…The Southern Baptist Convention votes to exclude yet another Baptist church for being hospitable to its gay family and neighbors…in a state whose citizens voted For allow same-sex marriage…just days after Ireland did the same…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on My Poor City…

May 21st, 2015

You Repent First. Take All The Time You Need…

Some years ago, a young adult fresh out of high school struggling to find a workable career path, I fell in with some friends of a friend who had a shop building custom speakers and sound equipment cases for bands. In addition to building speaker and equipment cabinets, they also had an impressive sound system of their own design capable of filling a theater, which they would rent out along with their services as sound guys whenever a band needed something a bit more than the bar sized sound systems they had with them.

To make a long story short, one day while I was out with them doing a gig somewhere in Virginia, the manager of the band we were working with noticed my little lambda necklace. This was back in a time before the rainbow flag, when the lambda was the recognized symbol of the gay rights struggle. He points at it and says somewhat belligerently “Why are you wearing the gay symbol?” This was a period in my life where I was still being careful who to come out to, but at the same time I’d made a resolution to myself not to lie if cornered. Well, I was cornered just then, and hoping for the best I told him it was because I’m gay, “We don’t allow gays in our crew he says. Bernie, one of the co-owners of the speaker shop, begins laughing and saying that I’m just joking. Somehow this only made me dig my heels in more. “No, says I…I’m gay.”

Next day Bernie fired me, taking pains to insist it wasn’t because I’m gay…I just wasn’t working out. Somehow.

Time passes…the universe expands… Some years later I run back into the old friend who connected me with Bernie and George (the other co-owner). How are things? Fine, how about you? Blah…blah…blah… As we’re busy catching up with what’s been happening in our lives, Glenn asks me if I’d heard about what happened to Bernie. No, says I, what’s up with him? He’s in jail, says Glenn. Couldn’t keep his hands off of under aged girls, he says.

Glenn eventually stopped talking to me after friending me on Facebook and being shocked, shocked, to discover what a militant homosexual I am. Oh well. On judgement day let it be said I would rather stand before my creator as an unrepentant sodomite, than have to account for some of the heterosexual lives I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes.

duggar_molester

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Repent First. Take All The Time You Need…


Cheating Is When You Lie To Get What You Want

Arrogance is thinking you’re entitled to someone’s trust anyway.   This came across my Facebook stream just   now…

bush_arrogance

 

“And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it even.”

Never mind that the science regarding global warming is about as solid as it gets, here’s the thing about that. Jacob Bronowski in his magnificent book and BBC series on the history of science, The Ascent of Man, devoted an entire episode to the difference between truth and dogma, titled Knowledge or Certainty. He begins with the face of his friend, Stephan Borgrajewicz who, like himself, was born in Poland. And he asks us, how well, how precisely, can we describe this man’s face? He asks a painter to render it, and says…

“We are aware the these pictures do not fix the face so much as explore it; that the artist is tracing the detail almost as if by touch; and that each line that is added strengthens picture but never makes it final. We accept that as the method of the artist. But what physics has now done is to show that that is the only method to knowledge. There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.”

Science, says Bronowski, “…is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. ”

The arrogance that Bush is accusing those of us to believe the science of isn’t about the measured, careful judgements of the evidence of global warming. The arrogance we’re being accused of is to even think that science can tell us things about our world, about our universe, that the dogmas of the mob he represents cannot. There are two sides to this argument and it is not over the science, It is an argument about the nature of knowledge. One side believes that knowledge is something that is received. The other, that knowledge is something that is discovered, and which can always be challenged and discarded as new facts emerge. Whether it is religious dogma or political dogma, the practice of science rejects wholly the belief that any knowledge is certain, absolute, and can never be questioned.

That is the arrogance Bush means: that we think we can question for ourselves what the pulpit, the party leadership, the corporate interests tell us is true, and reject it if the evidence does not support it. That is not arrogance though it may seem like it to the authoritarians. It is humility. It is understanding and accepting the human status, that the god’s eye view is not ours, not anyone’s, not humanity’s to have, that every prophet who says thou shalt not question is a false prophet, that our lot in life is we must always ask ourselves what do we know, and how do we know it.

Prove to us that our understanding of global warming is incorrect. And if you can’t then tell us what authority you would have us follow, who says the fate of the human race and planet earth is of less importance than our blind obedience.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Cheating Is When You Lie To Get What You Want

March 31st, 2015

Nothing To Worry About Here…Except…Well…Everything…

Everyone blissfully saying that existing LGBT anti-discrimination laws would withstand a challenge under these new religious freedom laws is either not paying attention or not wanting you to pay attention. There are a few constitutional law experts out there busy telling the gay community not to be so hysterical over what amounts to Just A Tiny Little Enhancement to current federal law. Probably these same experts were shocked, shocked at the Hobby Lobby decision. I’ll bet they all did a double take at the Citizens United decision too.

You need to pay attention to the long game the religious right plays, and especially to their rhetoric. They’re flat-out saying that these laws are especially necessary given recent same-sex marriage decisions, to prevent gay citizens from asserting equal rights. Nothing stealthy about what is going on with them on this. Nothing. You need to take them at their word for that these laws are being enacted to accomplish.

The Big Lie The Media Tells About Indiana’s New ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Nothing To Worry About Here…Except…Well…Everything…

March 29th, 2015

Thou Shalt Not Tell The Mirror Lies

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…one of many stories about the so-called Religious Freedom bill the governor of Indiana signed into law the other day…

Swarens: Gov. Mike Pence to push for clarification of ‘religious freedom’ law

Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Pull the other one. I’ve seen apologists spinning criticism of the Indiana law as some kind of militant gay hysterics, that the law has nothing whatever to do with discrimination against gay citizens, it’s just about preventing government from forcing The Devout to violate their Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs.   We all believe that people should be free to practice their faith don’t we?   But in Georgia a similar law was amended to make it clear that it wasn’t a license to discriminate and rather than pass it with that amendment they withdrew it. And in Oklahoma when a legislator proposed that businesses wanting protection under that law had to post signs alerting customers they would not serve anyone if it violated their religious beliefs, that law was also withdrawn.

Laws like these aren’t actually originating in the various state legislatures. The new thing is to first cook up a law in a right wing legislative think tank like ALEC and then pass it around to friendly state representatives. If you want to know the purpose of these ersatz religious freedom laws, ask the folks pushing them on the states…

Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer): “Dear Indiana legislators: any legislation “clarifying” RFRA will be abject surrender to the homosexual agenda. Don’t do it.”

I’m sure part of the song and dance now is  Don’t Say The G-Word during hearings on the law. But there’s plenty of talk about what the purpose is elsewhere and if you doubt the actual legislative purpose take another look at what happened in Georgia when they added the clarity that Pence claims now to be seeking.   Or take a look at this image from GLADD…

gladd_indiana

There will be no clarification forthcoming, Pence knows it, this is just wash, wash, washing his hands before the angry multitudes.   What?   What?   I asked the legislature for Clarification…they did not provide any…so don’t blame me!

Some of you may recall a lot of this started when a same sex couple wanted a wedding cake and the bakery refused, citing their Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs. There have been several more cases like that, but in the one case I’m thinking of, I think it was the Colorado bakery, what hasn’t gotten as much press was a local radio station had various people go to that same bakery and ask them to bake cakes for divorces, out of wedlock births, heterosexual couples shacking up but not getting married, and so on…and they were perfectly willing to bake those cakes. Just not the one for the gay couple. I don’t think that even qualifies as Sunday Morning Christianity.

The ninth commandment is you don’t tell lies about your neighbors. There needs to be one for telling lies about yourself. Because, really, that’s where soul rot begins. All this yap, yap, yapping now about how everyone is completely misinterpreting Indiana’s law would be hilarious on The Daily Show but it’s pathetic to watch people really saying these things with a straight face. Anyone saying this law has nothing to do with nullifying the effect if not the reality of same-sex marriage needs to go look in a mirror and ask that poor lost soul staring back at them which is worse: repeating a lie because you don’t want people to know the truth, or repeating it because you don’t want to know the truth.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Thou Shalt Not Tell The Mirror Lies

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