Fred Clark, one of the most completely decent people you will ever read online, posts a link to this column by Garry Wills that makes me want to throw up my hands and give up on any chance of reasoned discussion concerning guns, let alone violence, in the land of my birth and my heart…
Few crimes are more harshly forbidden in the Old Testament than sacrifice to the god Moloch (for which see Leviticus 18.21, 20.1-5). The sacrifice referred to was of living children consumed in the fires of offering to Moloch. Ever since then, worship of Moloch has been the sign of a deeply degraded culture…
You just know where this is going…
The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).
…and with that I just want to say I’m Done! Done will the lot of you. Hurl yourselves at each other with your lizard brains rattling at full throttle, I just don’t fucking care anymore. There will be no rational discussion of guns Or violence in this country in my lifetime obviously. Or as Wills says without any apparent irony…
The fact that the gun is a reverenced god can be seen in its manifold and apparently resistless powers. How do we worship it? Let us count the ways:
1. It has the power to destroy the reasoning process.
Sure did a number on yours didn’t it Gary. You could wish those first and second commandments were a tad more exact. There are no other Gods…Period! Idolatry is a lie.
Also…I really meant what I said in number nine! But…no. We always have to take this argument into culture war territory. Always.
Here’s the thing about idolatry…when you worship an idol you are surrendering what makes you human to a piece of stone. But point your finger at the idol worshiper if you like, attacking that piece of stone as if it were a god-object is the same thing as worshiping it. By tearing it down you are acknowledging it has power.
No. The power is within. The power is always within. Actually Gary, guns Are mere tools, bits of technology, and a political issue we really need to discuss. But that political issue exists in a context of a culture that is astonishingly violent and discussing the one without the other is as pointless an exercise in generating hot air as I can imagine. If you could reach around that rattling lizard brain getting all offended at the other tribe’s god to the part that’s capable of reason and empathy you could see that. But idolatry has made you weak. You think that if you can just smash the idol it’s power will be gone, but unfortunately Gary it is not Moloch you are dealing with but human beings, and the fault dear Brutus is not in our guns, but in ourselves. Guns. Don’t. Matter.
I posted a wee rant on Facebook the other day, about Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin and his one last swing at gay people before leaving congress. I wanted people having this argument about “the gun lobby” to please notice something. Yes, they are part of the problem, but not because they defend the right of citizens to own guns. So long as people keep thinking of them as a gun lobby they are missing it. This man, Todd Akin has their lifetime ‘A’ rating and the NRA supported him in the 2012 elections Even After he began yap, yap yapping about “legitimate rape”. So women can own guns, but not their own bodies? No…just, no. That simply isn’t how people who are genuinely concerned about freedom, individual rights, and “big brother government” think. They are not that.
Can we please stop the idol worship and look at this…really look at it. They are not a gun lobby, they are a right wing political action committee that pushes people’s buttons about government taking their guns away to get right wing extremists elected. Guns are to them, as the bible is to the Family Research Council. They are tools the right uses to drive people to the polls and vote against their own interests. So is abortion. So is The Homosexual Menace. So is the Angry Black Man. So is The Illegal Immigrant. That is how idolatry works. That is what it does to otherwise rational human beings.
Why are we such a violent society? Well…the right certainly has its opinion about that:
National Review, whose in-house editorial suggested Newtown was the price of the Second Amendment, published a piece on Wednesday from anti-feminist Charlotte Allen suggesting the reason the shooter was able to kill so many students was because Newtown was a “feminized setting”…
Actually, if our culture wasn’t so out of balance when it comes to male verses female leadership it would probably be a whole lot less violent. Which is almost certainly why the hard right (religious and secular) is so relentlessly against female leadership. There’s the problem. Or at least a big part of it. Men must either dominate women or be emasculated by them. What does this right wing trope accomplish other than making males more aggressive? Yes, we can and should talk about sensible restrictions on firearms and firearm ownership. But can we talk about this too? Because if we can’t nothing, Nothing we attempt to do regarding gun control will do any damn good whatsoever. Nothing. And it’ll just be wash-rinse-repeat every time another horrific crime of violence happens.
So long as we are busy fighting a culture war of the right wing’s making, that only the right wing benefits from, discussions about the roots of violence just aren’t going to happen. It’s a win-win, not for the culture of guns but the culture of hate. Please…just stop. And…Think!
A lot of the people you see (I’ve seen and talked to myself) at gun shows are or were once blue collar union workers, who have been systematically cleaved from the democratic party over this one issue by the NRA. A lot of them, not all of them certainly, but perhaps a critical mass of them, could be won back if democrats would bother talking to them, and not screaming at them that they’re responsible for the deaths of 20 children, let alone that they are Moloch Worshipers. Those people have children too and they love them very much.
Also…I really meant what I said in number nine! The first person dragged down into the gutter when you lie about your neighbor, is you.
[Edited some for clarity…]
by Bruce |
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December 16th, 2012
The Common Welfare
Why I keep feeling so frustrated whenever another horrific act of violence gets my country all wrapped up in another shouting match over guns: this mother’s plight is everyone’s. Everyone’s.
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.
A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.
When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”
I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.
Her son is exceptionally intelligent, and could have probably been diverted into a gifted child school track were it not for his sudden violent fits.
The welfare state isn’t about handing out free money to freeloaders. It is about Americans recognizing we have a common stake in each other’s welfare. That includes this child. That includes his mother and his siblings. That includes anyone who might become the victim of one of his violent fits, and also everyone who would ever have benefited from his intelligence, and his love, were he given adequate mental health care.
by Bruce |
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November 20th, 2012
Lazy Bums On The Government Dole…
This came across my Facebook stream this morning…
This seems like beating on a dead horse…probably everyone knows by now that WalMart pays food stamp wages…but there’s a point here that needs constant hammering on. If you like WalMart’s Low, Low Prices! fine…except WalMart workers are living on food stamps and probably other public support too, and that’s a large part of how WalMart keeps its prices down (another part is their pressure on companies to manufacture goods in low wage countries abroad, thereby costing American families their livelihoods and decimating this country’s industrial base). So…the difference between what you paid for your WalMart goods and what they would actually cost if WalMart simply paid its workers a living wage is the part paid for by food stamps. If you shop at WalMart, you are on the dole too. Except you could probably afford not to be.
So who’s the lazy bum wanting a government handout here, because it isn’t the WalMart worker.
by Bruce |
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November 13th, 2012
You Knew You Lost When You Started Lying To Yourselves
Dan Savage this morning…
“The die is cast on this issue,” said Steve Schmidt, who advised the presidential campaigns of Senator John McCain and George W. Bush and has for years urged Republicans to accept same-sex marriage. “Why should we sign a suicide pact with the National Organization for Marriage?” Mr. Schmidt asked, saying the party should instead endorse the principles of federalism and let the states decide the matter.
Depending on how you slice and dice the electorate, you can make the case that the gay vote was decisive in this election. So what NOM is asking the GOP to do—double, triple, quadruple down on anti-gay hate—really does amount to signing a political suicide pact.
The homophobic pundits and leaders of the anti-gay industrial complex who are saying now that this election does not represent a sudden shift in people’s attitudes about same-sex marriage are right. There’s nothing sudden about the build up of pressure along a fault line either, just the release of it. The trend toward acceptance and equality has been obvious for decades now, and the haters have always known it. Witness the junk science industry they’ve been busy building since the Stonewall Riots and the removal of homosexuality as a psychiatric diagnosis. You don’t wage a bitter scorched earth war on the facts if you know the facts are on your side. The haters have always known that in the end all they had to win on was the passion of their own hate, and that eventually that would not be enough. And they have always known that marriage was the final threshold, and that it would be crossed when more heterosexuals then not would say to each other, and then at the polls, Actually, homosexuals do love.
The Colorado Independent reports that officials from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) have vowed to make Starbucks (along with other companies that support same-sex marriage) pay a “price” in Middle Eastern countries that are hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. The statements were made during a Nov. 8 conference call, scheduled as a discussion of the 2012 elections which saw sweeping marriage equality victories in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, as well as Starbucks’ home state of Washington.
“So for example, in Qatar, in the Middle East, we’ve begun working to make sure that there’s some price to be paid for this,” Brian Brown says in audio recording of the conference call…
And that price will be paid not merely in lost sales, but in the blood of gay people all throughout the middle east, just as they have done in Africa and wherever else they could. And Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher and Robert George will not shed a single tear over it. Ours was always a struggle for the right to love and be loved, against an immovable need to hate the heart capable of it and all the wonder and joy of life and existence. The fight isn’t over, the sweat and tears and bloodshed go on, but the Rhine has been crossed. Actually, homosexuals do love.
by Bruce |
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September 28th, 2012
Atlas Stiffed His Waitress…
…of course it was to teach her self sufficiency, not because he wanted a free lunch. I saw this graphic go flying by on the net yesterday…
And a lot of the time they’re drowning in it because of the greed and avarice of people who like to yap about how there aren’t any free lunches. Cheap labor, sure. The cheaper the better.
I know a little about how it is to be working poor. Not as much as many. Somehow I never went to bed hungry or without a roof over my head. And I didn’t have children to support. But there was a time back when I was in my late thirties that I lived in a friend’s basement and mowed lawns and did Manpower jobs to make ends meet. This was after the Savings and Loan crisis had cost me the small but steady income I’d had as an architectural model maker. Time was I couldn’t afford a car and sometimes not the bus either.
I had this geeky little mindset for fiddling around with electronic gismos. Mom always said I got it from her dad, a man who opened one of the first businesses in his area building and servicing radios back before World War II. But there was never enough money to send me to a nice college and I had to go to work right out of high school. I had one low wage job after another, mostly stock clerk and warehouse work, and no idea what to do with my life. I liked to paint and draw, and I had done some photography for a couple local newspapers. But you need time to pursue a career in either of those and I had to bring money into the household. Eventually I got a job working for a man who went to the same church mom did, and who ran his own business making architectural models. It was work that tweaked my artistic side and I loved it, but my new boss was a fundamentalist nutcase who wouldn’t leave his employees alone about religion and he had an explosive temper. One day right before Christmas I and most of his other employees bolted after one of his outbursts and I was on my own again.
But I liked doing that work and eventually established myself as a freelance model maker with several big customers and one former co-worker who brought me into the shop he’d established. During that time I bought a Commodore C64. I had little use for computers before then, not even as video game playing devices, but the price of the Commodore had come drastically down and when I discovered I could write pretty decent job proposals on a word processor and figure out my costs with a spreadsheet I snapped one up. That little computer turned into a sort of hobby with me as I taught myself how to write programs in its BASIC interpreter and began to tentatively explore the emerging online world of Computer Bulletin Boards, in hopes of finding a gay community I could socialize with there instead of in seedy pickup bars.
Eventually and I was able to build an IBM PC clone from parts I got at a HAM Fest and with its for-its-day vastly greater horsepower and tons of software tools available for it I really started getting pulled into that world. While my customers for my freelance architectural model making business were going belly up all around me I kept dinking around with my PC clone because computers interested me, and because they had become my social outlet. But I had no college degree and no money to go get one so I never seriously considered trying to earn a living with it. Eventually I found a community of fellow gay geeks online and began doing support work on a local gay community BBS system, using what I’d learned dinking around with my own computer. That eventually led to my getting a few one-off jobs writing software. One job was for a local gay community organization that wanted a membership database and form letter generator. I did it in dBase IV, a little Word Perfect macro programming and a little Microsoft Quick Basic. Then, through that same gay BBS, I got another one-off job. And another. And another. Just at a moment in time when having even any sort of IT experience you could put on a resume meant you could get a job at decent pay and you didn’t need to have the college degree that I didn’t.
The dot com boom lifted me out of poverty almost overnight and I managed to hang onto this new career path after it faded. Otherwise I have no idea what would have become of me. I was 38 years old the day I could finally afford to rent my own place, a little one bedroom apartment in a Baltimore suburb. And it was all because of some really lucky breaks. Yes, yes…clearly I have the aptitude for the work I do and a good work ethic or otherwise I wouldn’t now be making a six figure salary and working on the James Webb Space Telescope project. But don’t even start telling me that my income level today is because I am a highly motivated and intelligent person who worked hard to get ahead. I was all of that when I was living in a friend’s basement and mowing lawns to make ends meet. I was all of that when I was standing in an unemployment line because I needed that government handout to put food in my mouth. I had some damn lucky breaks. And…support…when I needed it badly…from my friends, and from my fellow citizens. That is why I’m making the living I am now.
So I get a little ticked off whenever I hear some winger yap, yap, yapping that the unemployed are just lazy and unemployment checks amount to freeloading. There were times in my life I took unemployment and gladly. And I needed that money not because I was lazy and didn’t want to work, but because my jobs had been yanked out from under me. Because Wall Street bet on red 25 when they should have bet on black 17. With other people’s money. Then they wag their fingers at the unemployed and tell them they’re lazy.
Not everyone gets the break I got. Poverty does not equal stupidity or laziness. People who work two grueling minimum wage jobs to make ends meet are not lazy, and particularly if they have children to support. There is a serious lack of opportunity out there and some of that is deliberately crafted to keep wages low and Wall Street profits high and it is obscene for those financiers and their sock puppets to be wagging their fingers at people they’ve basically trapped in low wage lives and the unemployment line and calling them irresponsible.
You want responsibility Mr. Romney? How about taking responsibility for costing people their jobs? How about taking responsibility for trashing the hopes and dreams of all the workers and their families after you Bain raided their companies, and/or shipped their jobs overseas? How about taking responsibility for the fact that the American Dream is smaller and further out of reach of so many hard working Americans because you needed a car elevator? All the luxury that surrounds you every day…it could have been a reflection of the wealth you brought into this world, not the wealth you took from it.
Am I better off now then I was four years ago? No doubt your kind thinks it’s the most important question of all but it’s the wrong question. It isn’t all about Me, it’s about US. As in U.S.. We’re electing a president of the United States. That calls for a different question. You had wealth, which means you already had power. Now you want more. Well of course, lots of people want more power. And…wealth. There’s just never enough is there? The question is, is your country is better off for your having used the power you already had.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has done yeoman’s work on tracking violent groups, notes that “Currently, there are 1,018 known hate groups operating across the country, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, black separatists, border vigilantes and others. And their numbers are growing.” The Center’s data show that hate groups have increased by 69 percent in the last decade. And the so-called “Patriot” groups have increased nearly 800 percent since Obama became president.
If the news media and political leaders were told there were a thousand violence-prone Muslim groups operating in the United States, can you imagine the reaction? Yet, apart from the glancing attention given incidents like the Sikh temple massacre, the national discourse about terrorism focuses almost exclusively on Muslims.
The same goes if they were white and on the radical left.
I remember immediately after the Oklahoma City bombing, nearly everyone figured Arab terrorists were responsible. Then it turned out a right wing lunatic did it. Right wing lunatics have continued to kill people in this country ever since and yet when the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a report on anti-government right wing violence it was denounced by the republicans as a political attack. As if the republican strategy of tearing the country apart for political advantage hasn’t itself been a political attack on the country they keep claiming to patriotically love.
The United States of America is fantastically more violent then any other industrialized nation and the tragedy is every time a domestic terrorist attack happens any hope of talking about why that is so quickly devolves into an argument about guns. Guns don’t matter. What matters is how much hatred there is now between Americans. What matters is one of the two major American political parties has for decades actively sought to incite that hatred for political gain. They have courted the racist vote. They have courted the misogynist vote. They have courted the votes of religious bigots, xenophobes and homophobes. And that has had consequences.
But we can’t talk about them. We can talk about how our enemies hate us, but we can’t talk about how we hate each other. Because that would be a politically motivated attack on the people who have made tearing the country apart in order to get the bigger half their election strategy for decades. For some reason that is a wrong thing.
by Bruce |
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July 31st, 2012
You Say “Succeed” Like It’s A Good Thing…
Every election cycle the republicans run on deregulation, lower taxes and more jobs. And when they get power then it’s all about the culture war and everything they do seems to cost people jobs and depress the economy more and more. You wonder if they even care about the economy.
Get a clue: a productive economy, technological progress, and general prosperity, are the most destabilizing things for authoritarian cultural norms and religious fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism and right wing authoritarianism flourish in stagnant or declining economies.
I’m not saying it’s a plan, I’m saying it’s a reflex. They act like they don’t want Americans to prosper because they have an allergic reaction to prosperity anywhere below the top 1 percent. Prosperous happy people don’t obey orders and generally don’t take a lot of crap from authoritarian louts.
by Bruce |
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It Seems The More You Make The More Entitled To A Free Lunch You Are
Considering all the bellyaching going on around here about the just enacted Maryland state tax increase on wage earnings over 100k I figured I might have to sell the house and the Mercedes and go live on a steam grate. Preferably one that was close to work. Except those might all be full of students who coudn’t afford to pay back their student loans after they graduated and found out there isn’t any work. So I was bracing myself to finally lay eyes on the awful horrible details and trying to decide if I could get accustomed to the taste of dogfood. I was thinking maybe if I deep fried it and sprinkled it with a little Old Bay.
So finally I see the extra I’m being asked to chip in for running the state of Maryland. Under $300 more a year.
Wow…I just don’t know if I can spare another $300… Oh bullshit. I make six figures and I’m being asked to chip in an additional < $300 and I’m supposed to be outraged. Swear to god it’s a good thing I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family expecting to make the kind of money I’m making now or I might not know how good I have it and how hard everyone else is struggling and I might be making the same kind of jackass fool of myself other six figure earners in this state are making of themselves right now. $300! $300! Lawd have mercy I’ll be penniless! Penniless I tell you!
You there…peasant…fetch me my free lunch…
I appreciate that government should not spend tax money wastefully. I also appreciate that one taxpayer’s waste is another taxpayer’s necessary program. I do not appreciate a lot of jackass babbling about high taxes without any sort of follow-up about what it is you’d like to see cut. Don’t just give me this crap about taxes being too high. It costs money to run a state government. When the statehouse is taking in more money then it spends, and it has no debt it needs to pay back, then I’ll agree with you that taxes are too high. I don’t want to hear one more fucking word about high taxes. I don’t even want to hear that phrase ever again or I will simply tune you out because you aren’t being serious you just want to complain that you’re being asked to pay for services rendered. Tell me that government expenditures are too high. Tell me what the fuck you want to cut out of the budget. Tell me why anyone should think cutting it is a good idea. Or just shut the fuck up.
Pardon my liberal use of the f-word here. But I am getting really, really tired of this crap.
[Update…And Furthermore…!] Just so we’re all on the same page here, listen…if the government is running a deficit and you believe in a balanced budget then either government expenditures are too high or taxes are too low. Do not babble at me about high taxes. I can see arguments for deficit spending, particularly during an economic downturn, but regardless of where I or anyone stands on that matter, taxes cannot be too high if government isn’t taking in enough money to pay its bills. Spending might be too high. Fine. If you can get enough voter agreement to cut spending here and there, do that. I might be with you on it depending on what it is you want to cut. Do not cut taxes without first cutting spending and then tell me that you are a fiscal conservative, I’ll laugh in your face.
There is nothing more ordinary then human diversity. Some of us are blue eyed, some brown, some green. Some of us have blond hair, some black. Skin color, height, weight, proportion of leg to torso…ask anyone who observes and draws or photographs the human form how identical we are to one another. Some of us are left handed, some right. There are males, females, and also transgendered individuals. There are mathematicians, mechanics, chefs, doctors, painters, musicians, actors, soldiers, firefighters, teachers. There are people who just seem to light up a room whenever they walk into it no matter the gloom that was there before, and people who bring their own little grey cloud with them wherever they go. It is normal to be different. And very young children, generally, accept this in each other. As the song goes, You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.
For decades now the homophobes have warned about the “normalization” of homosexuality. Dire consequences would follow. Very dire consequences. What everyone is beginning to see now, finally, is that when the homophobic static is gone, normalcy returns. Here in Maryland, the Baltimore Sun today has an article about how the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is playing in at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. The answer seems to be a catastrophic decent of society into pure unadulterated normalcy.
Gay cadets at the U.S. Military Academy and the Coast Guard Academy are forming clubs. Gay alumni at the Air Force Academy hosted their first football tailgate last fall, and gay alumni at the Air Force Academy and West Point held their annual dinners on campus for the first time.
It’s not all roses of course. Some worry about the effect coming out will have on their careers once they leave the academy. Others insist it will have little to no impact. But the effect here in Maryland, as elsewhere, of lifting the outcast status on gay people, that dangerous alien other label, has been mostly…business as usual. Or rather, business more usual then it previously could be when people had to be afraid. The sense you get is of peace descending, finally, after a long and brutal battle. We are all neighbors once more. Now that the fires of prejudice and hate are subsiding a sense of community becomes possible once again. Normalcy returns.
Most of us evangelicals in Canada, regardless of personal beliefs about homosexuality, can admit that since same-sex marriage has been legalised in Canada, our society has not gone to hell in a hand basket, nor has traditional marriage, or our families been under attack. Scare tactics and wild-eyed fear-based rhetoric rarely turns out to be true. In actual practice, our society has become “live and let live” which is actually a rather tolerant and comfortable place to be.
Behold the dire consequence. A reader of Andrew Sullivan’s blog, responding to a question put to Maggie Gallagher about the harm to individuals and society where same-sex marriage has been legalized, noted that her reply was basically worry about the status of homophobes like herself…
Essentially, Maggie Gallagher is concerned about the affect of same-sex marriage on people like Maggie Gallagher. She cites no data or statistics or study which shows how any heterosexual marriages or children in families with same-sex parents have been damaged. She makes no claim that any such damages has occurred, only that people like her have been made social pariahs instead of the gay people who ought to be the pariahs. I’m sure there’s a social science term that describes what she is doing, but I guess I just find the complaint that “you’re making other people not like me” to be a rather petty and self-absorbed. Where, I wonder, is her concern about the affect on people other than Maggie Gallagher?
There’s the problem. To fear and loath your neighbor over some trivial difference just isn’t normal. To incite those fears and loathings in others is damaging to community and nation. Once the homophobic static is gone everyone just gets along with each other. The horrible outcome of the normalization of homosexuality is world where we are all neighbors once again and we just get on with life and things get back to…normal. The scapegoat, the hated other, no longer hate themselves, and are no longer hated. We are neighbors once again, each of us just going on about our business. And the only thing that warning anyone who will listen about the homosexual menace teaches them is what an creep you are.
by Bruce |
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May 10th, 2012
Freedom To Not Be Angry All The Time
I do political cartoons for my local gay paper, Baltimore OUTLoud. Being published regularly allowed me to gain membership in The Associate Of American Editorial Cartoonists…a dream come true. Cartooning was the first love and political cartooning, what was called the Ungentlemanly Art, is a form of expression that I’ve been attracted to since I was a teenager, growing up in the Washington D.C. suburbs with Herblock and Gib Crockett in my daily newspapers. In high school my cartoons were in the student newspaper and on the walls of a few select social studies classrooms.
Jacob Bronowski once said that great art doesn’t set out to preach, but to shine a light in which the outlines of good and evil are “are seen in fearful sharpness of outline.” The best political cartoons are like that. It’s very easy, and most fall into that rut of being preachy. But the best ones shine that light.
I try to do that with my cartoons. When I see myself getting too preachy on the drawing board I start over. But I get angry too and sometimes I just let the anger out and my viewers can take it or leave it. Like this one I did after California Proposition 8 passed…
That’s all done on the paper by the way, only the lettering is done in the computer. I still draw my cartoons with “traditional media” and scan it in, not so much because I am a throwback as I just work intuitively with those tools better then with a digitizer pad.
That angry metaphor of the severed ring finger works for me artistically, and at some deep level it gets out of me something that just needs getting out. I hate saying this about myself because it sounds so pretentious but I am an artist. The way I know that about myself isn’t that I like to draw or that I like it very much when my drawings get looked at, it’s if you put me on a desert island with no tools to make imagery with I would cut me some sticks and twigs and draw in the sand because I just have to get it out of me from time to time whether it makes any sense to anyone or not and even if nobody else ever sees it but me. I have to do this from time to time or I will go nuts. It’s just something I am. And maybe I’m not really that good at it either. Lots of times I will look at my stuff and think I really stink at it. But I know I can’t stop doing it. Drawing…painting…photography….it’s all about the image. It’s a language I need to communicate in…much of the time just to think my world and my life through.
For my political cartoons, unlike a lot of cartoonists, I don’t do many rough sketches first. I do the drawing first in my head, and when I can see it clearly in there, then I sit down at the drafting table. Yesterday I had one ready to go, concerning the vote against same-sex marriage in North Carolina. I’d been drawing it in my mind the moment I laid eyes on the advertisement Billy Graham placed in a bunch of North Carolina newspapers. Where there any chance of that amendment not passing, Graham effectively killed it with those ads and I was angry. And immediately when I saw the ad the image for a cartoon about the likely outcome of the vote came immediately to my mind. I thought about it for days and it changed very little in my visualization of it. I was angry. The image was angry.
Yesterday morning I read the news and even though I had been completely expecting the outcome, it hit me hard. Every fucking time one of these votes happens it feels like a kick in the stomach. And you know that’s exactly the purpose of having these votes…to make gay people hurt. Because if we don’t bleed they aren’t righteous. And I did hurt. I walked around all morning long carrying this lump of grief like a stone in my gut. Reading the streams on Facebook and Twitter I could see others did too. But I did notice something that lifted my spirits even so. This time…This Time…that stone in the gut was being carried by a lot of heterosexuals too. This was what I knew would eventually win this thing: when enough of our heterosexual neighbors began to see this struggle as theirs too…feel it in their gut the same way we feel it in ours. Even as I grieved I could see we were winning this thing. But it felt so painful…so very very painful. But I had my outlet. I was going to go home from work that day, and right to my drafting table, and out would come the cartoon I had visualized so clearly in my mind’s eye for days.
…and all of a sudden Billy Graham didn’t matter anymore. And something happened to me that made me realize how much anger I have been carrying with me all these years. I stopped being angry. It almost literally felt like a weight had been taken off me.
I don’t know if I’ll do that cartoon now. I might…it’s still something I think needs being said about him, about the people who put so much hard work into kicking their gay neighbors in the face. You can shine Bronowski’s fearful sharp light at evil, but you can also shine it at the good, and I am not so very angry anymore. Life is good. Hard sometimes, but good.
Time was the haters could make us hate ourselves as much as they hated us. Then that time was over, and they could no longer make us hate ourselves and that made them angry. It made them angry and so they had to make us angry too. And being angry all the time can be a stone around your neck too. Not as big a one as hating yourself, but big enough all the same to keep you from having a decent life. Perhaps anger, unlike self hate, is a necessary thing. Perhaps without that righteous anger we would not have worked so hard, and come so far, so fast. But the day is coming when we don’t have to be angry anymore.
by Bruce |
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May 8th, 2012
Planning A Cross-Country Road Trip Is So Much Easier For A Gay Guy When He’s Single
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment on Tuesday defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman, making it the 30th state to adopt such a ban.
Thirty states. Thirty states. Oh…and it’s more then simply a ban on same-sex marriage. That amendment was an all out attack on same-sex couples having any legal rights that heterosexuals are bound to respect.
I have reflected often on the fact that the only reason I feel free to explore my country, take the long cross-country drives I love, is that I am single. The saving grace of it is that the side of my family that approves of constitutionally kicking their gay neighbors in the teeth all live in states I couldn’t visit anyway were I happily coupled. Should that day ever come, it will save me a lot of excuse making. Tell you what…you come visit us. We’d love to have you over! And your marriages are valid here so don’t worry.
by Bruce |
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April 29th, 2012
Life In The Shining City On The Hill
Seen on Twitter: “Family of four sitting in the patio furniture section of Costco eating picnic lunch made up entirely of samples. #theamericandream”
I remember as a kid, listening to mom’s tales of the Great Depression. Little did I know those stories would prepare me for life in 21st century America…
by Bruce |
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January 28th, 2012
No Senator…Actually, You’re The Threat To Civilization.
A few days ago Martin O’Malley, the governor of Maryland, submitted a bill to the legislature to legalize same-sex marriage. Hate groups like NOM have been preparing for this day. So, in our own way I suppose, have my fellow gay and gay supportive Marylanders.
I do not look forward to the brutal, bitter, torrent of hate mongering that is to come. I sure don’t look forward to having to know, as the signs start popping up on front lawns and the bumper stickers appear, which of the neighbors on my block want to cut my ring finger off. My neighbors are generally a good sort of folk I’ve found in the years I’ve lived at Casa del Garrett. Generous and neighborly…at least to my face. But just because someone takes a somewhat liberal stance on a range of issues, does not mean they can see the people for the homosexuals. Take for example the president of our state senate, Mike Miller…
The Democratic President of the Senate in Maryland is urging “Evangelicals, Catholics, African Americans” to oppose an upcoming gay marriage bill, and to vote against one if it ever came to a public referendum. Senator Mike Miller on a radio program said that while he didn’t want to sound like Republican presidential hopefuls, “I’m a father married for 50 years, I got 5 children, I got 13 grandchildren, I’m a traditionalist.” Miller said he wouldn’t stand in the way of a vote, and if there is a vote, as expected, in the Senate, it would again pass. But Miller’s suggestion to minorities and the religious right to oppose an equal rights measure is patently offensive and divisive, and smacks of a Maggie Gallagher move.
Miller, in explaining his opposition, however, did sound like a Republican presidential candidate, saying, “I’m a historian and I look at civilizations, I study civilizations, I read history every night. And I see it’s an attack on the family, I think it’s an attack on traditional families. That’s the way I see it.”
Dig it. He doesn’t want to sound like a republican, but just so you know, homosexuals are a threat to families and to civilization. This is what we’re in for, for the next year or so if this bill becomes law and NOM fires up its mighty Wurlitzer to insure that Marylanders fear, loath and hate their gay and lesbian neighbors enough to deny them equal rights in marriage. But I have a question: has any nation or civilization ever collapsed because its people loved each other too much?
by Bruce |
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In the current issue of the center-right policy journal, National Affairs, former Bush domestic policy adviser Tevi Troy worries about the decline of Washington think tanks into partisan messaging operations.
Stop…stop…you’re killing me. Seriously, on what planet were most beltway think tanks, and especially AEI and Heritage, ever not partisan messaging operations?
Yes, yes, liberal “think tanks” exist, but how many global corporations and multi-billionaires are going to fund a think tank that starts from an ideologically liberal economic position? Right wing and conservative “think tanks” basically rule the beltway discourse and you always know what their conclusions will be, and which party will happily benefit from them. Their non-partisanship is a farce. They are think tanks like Intelligent Design is science.
There’s a rule of thumb about think tanks: If you already know what the conclusion is before you pick up the paper and read it, it is not a think tank. Rand is a think tank. Let me explain by this example from Wiki:
In 1958, Democratic Senator Stuart Symington accused the RAND Corporation of defeatism for studying how the United States might strategically surrender to an enemy power. This led to the passage of a prohibition on the spending of tax dollars on the study of defeat or surrender of any kind. However, the senator had apparently misunderstood, as the report was a survey of past cases in which the U.S. had demanded unconditional surrender of its enemies, asking whether or not this had been a more favorable outcome to U.S. interests than an earlier, negotiated surrender would have been.
See how that works. They asked a question they didn’t already know the answer to and set about to answer it. No ideology, just answers. AEI and Heritage, to name two, begin with the answer in the form of an ideological position (unconditional surrender is always the most favorable outcome) and try to figure out a way to message that for the benefits of republicans.
What these organizations do is tactical rhetoric, not thinking. Thinking is where you search for answers, not fashion attractive political battle flags. Thinking takes you into undiscovered places. That’s not allowed in organization like AEI, which Frum found out when he got the boot for not towing the line. These are party instruments, nothing more nothing less. They exist precisely to discourage thinking. You are told what to think. Or at any rate, what to say that you think.
Witness the decline in American governance. We can’t confront the real problems that exist because our institutions of government are mired in ideologies which demand fealty over everything else. Facts don’t matter, only the party matters, and free thinking is treason to the party. And so our ability as a nation to grow and prosper into the 21st century is limited to what the ideologies in power will allow, and that isn’t much. We were promised a shining city on a hill. What we got were factories closed, wages devastated, pensions lost, entire neighborhoods in foreclosure and state and local governments teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Yet the ideologies that promised us that shining city are never held to account. For all the think tanks in Washington, not a whole lot of thinking is actually going on.
by Bruce |
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