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October 11th, 2011
My Country ‘Tis of Thee… Bruce | Link | Comments Off
July 31st, 2011
Letter To Fred Haitt’s Pathetic Excuse For An Ombudsman…
Haitt hired Rubin because he knew she’d stoke right wing vitriol. And he hired you because he knew you’d make excuses for that.
Crisis Of Democracy
A default looms, but not the one everyone has on their minds just now. I’m glancing at my Twitter feed, and I see Think Progress tweet: “$2.8T in spending cuts is essentially a quadruple reverse-stimulus.” Yes, but it’s more then the stimulus that’s being drawn back. It’s two-hundred plus years of American democracy that is being drawn back.
The republicans haven’t just screwed our economy, they’ve trashed our democracy by finding and exploiting a fatal weakness in the system of checks and balances our founders created. They’ve found, to use the metaphors of my trade, a bug in the code, and they created an exploit. They have discovered that as long as you have enough votes to sustain a filibuster you don’t have to stop at merely blocking certain specific bills you find particularly odious, you can run the entire ship of state simply by threatening to bring everything crashing down unless you get what you want.
If the democrats capitulate on this, and it’s looking like they will, then we are lost. The American Experiment in democracy will be over. We have simply stopped living in a democracy at that point, and the grip of a bitter, brutal radical cult unlike anything our history has known will have taken its place. And that cult is passionately determined to cut the American Dream down to their liking.
It’ll be an America where women and minorities have no rights a straight white protestant male is bound to respect. Where workers have no right to a safe work environment, let alone the right to organize into unions strong enough to push back against the steady loss of our middle class. Where once again the elderly die alone and in poverty. Where factories can once more dump whatever toxic sludge they like into the water you drink and the air you breath. Where no science that contradicts fundamentalist dogma can be taught to school kids. Where the sale of contraceptives are once again outlawed. Where your gay neighbors can once again be denied a job, a professional license, a place to live, be thrown in jail simply for being what they are.
None of this is hyperbole. The so-called tea partiers say these things time and time again. That they are a movement mostly concerned with small government and not social issues is a convenient fiction of a corporate news media that desperately wants not to be seen taking sides. Yes the tea party sings a mantra of smaller less intrusive government, but one only has to pay attention to see that is simply the means by which they mean to achieve their hard right ends. A government big enough to protect minorities is too big. A government big enough to make the states butt out of people’s private sex lives is too big. A government big enough to protect the environment, the rights of workers, the economy from corruption, is too big. Small government is the oligarch’s friend.
I’ve often wondered if this is how it felt to be living in Europe in the 1930s, as another bitter, brutal radical cult methodically undermined the democracies tentatively rising from the ashes of monarchy. Step by bitterly determined step they smashed what they could, and with every new success came new demands, which were followed by more appeasements that were supposed to finally mollify the radicals. What it did was convince the radicals they had nothing to fear and everything to gain. Everything they said they would do, that nobody believed they would actually do, they eventually did. And afterwards the world wondered at how people could have been so blind to have not seen it coming.
Look around. Now you know.
July 27th, 2011
The Many Faces of Joy
Via Twitter, I see that BuzzFeed has 60 Awesome Portraits Of Gay Couples Just Married In New York State posted just now…
See and share the joy in their faces…and then look more closely at the stunning diversity of us. Remember it next time you hear someone speak of a gay lifestyle or a gay agenda.
July 16th, 2011
In a previous post I discussed the ramifications of a bill before California governor Jerry Brown that would add the history of gay people to the textbooks and lessons of California schools. He signed it.
As I mentioned before, that honestly, not so much about the accomplishments of gay people but more, a factual account of the witch hunts violence and political and social persecution we have endured as a people, is greatly feared by the anti-gay industrial complex. And as expected, they are already moving to do a Proposition 8 on it…
They’ll probably get their signatures too. Whether or not they can wage a successful campaign to erase a minority group from the pages of history in California remains to be seen, but expect more of The Homosexuals Are Coming For Your Children rhetoric in the coming months. And…more anti-gay violence for them to wash, wash their hands of before the multitudes.
One part of that history they never want told is coming to the screen. A documentary based on David K. Johnson’s The Lavender Scare is now in production…
There’s more at the documentary website, including a trailer. The book it is based on is available in cloth, paperback and ebook form from the University of Chicago Press. I also highly recommend Neil Miller’s Sex Crime Panic (Alyson Books) and David Carter’s Stonewall (St. Martin’s Press). I would also love to hear gay history book recommendations from the readers here.
July 12th, 2011
Yes, We Exist. And So Does Our Past.
“History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”
In California bill, SB48, hopefully to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown, seeks to help correct a longstanding and bitter historical wrong. No…not the absence of gay history in the classroom…
Ostensibly the bill is intended to improve awareness of the contributions of gay people to history. That’s a worthwhile goal in and of itself and as the second paragraph above notes, the usual suspects are raising a ruckus about it. But positive images of gay people are not what the opposition is afraid of. Here, in the Catholic Reporter, the real problem is daintily addressed…
Note the formulation “unjust discrimination”. There’s the problem. Here’s the naked fear of this bill:
The filing by the Obama Department of Justice goes beyond simply bowing out of the case…it makes a dazzlingly clear cut case that DOMA is an unconstitutional attack on a suspect minority that has suffered a long history of legal and social persecution:
The full text of the brief is Here (PDF). It also reads in part:
Now consider this, and ask yourself how many times you have heard comparisons of the struggles of gay Americans and black Americans denounced because gays never were sold into slavery, never had to ride the back of the bus, never were denied the right to vote. Or comparisons with antisemitism denounced because gays were never herded into extermination camps. How many times have you heard the struggle for gay equality dismissed as the pastime of privileged rich white men. How often have we heard, and still hear, that laws protecting gay people from discrimination are unnecessary, are really just about seeking social approval.
Below is how Mad Magazine looked at our struggle back in 1971. I include this to show what the popular view of our struggle was so shortly after Stonewall, not to be pointing a finger specifically at Mad. This was how our struggle was commonly viewed back then and Mad like a lot of publications is way, way nicer to their gay readers nowadays.
Mad #145, Sept ‘71, from “Greeting Cards For The
Forgive us if we’re more concerned with Indians and Blacks… So easy to say, when the shear brutality of anti-gay persecution was so completely unknown to most Americans. But of course to know that history they would have only had to look…
But looking at what was happening to us was exactly the problem. There was no news footage back then of gays being dragged off in manacles because we were considered too disgusting to even talk about in family newspapers, let alone on TV. And when we were talked about, it always had to be in the most reassuringly scary and disgusted terms…
We had to fight just to be seen, before we could fight to have our stories told.
Some years ago I watched a documentary on Logo about the gay history of Fire Island. During a time when same-sex couples risked arrest for dancing together the police would patrol the streets around a club called the Botel and arrest random young men as they left. On those nights the bartenders would get the word somehow and warn people not to leave the club alone, but go out in large groups. Typically the police would arrest at least twenty gays. There was a large telephone pole near the Botel, that had a chain fastened to it, and as the police would randomly arrest gay men as they left the Botel they would cuff them to the chain…one by one…until they had their twenty for that night.
No, we never rode the back of the bus. We rode the boat back to the mainland and to jail. We sat in the cells of all the 50 states where sodomy laws put us. As Neil Miller documented in his book, Sex-Crime Panic in sentences of indefinite length in special wings in mental hospitals created specifically for homosexuals. As David Carter documented in his book Stonewall, bars and restaurants could have their licenses revoked if they served us. And as David K. Johnson documented in his book The Lavender Scare, we were relentlessly witch hunted in the 1950s because even more then the communist threat we were viewed by the republican party as a useful tool to play wedge politics against the democrats with. And as the Obama Justice Department brief states…
Yes…as a matter of fact…
Decades since Stonewall and it’s still going on. But at least now there can’t be an expectation that we will endure it quietly. And that has consequences. Bigotry no longer has the free reign it use to have over us. Sometimes we win a few. The closet as it turned out, not only kept us hidden, it kept the crimes against us hidden.
It is the prospect of that history of anti-gay persecution becoming commonly known and understood that terrifies the anti-gay industrial complex. Because then the need for laws protecting us from discrimination becomes crystal clear. Because then the hatred at the root of groups like NOM and the Family Research Council becomes sickeningly obvious. Because then it becomes hard, obscene even, to argue as Maryland Delegate Jay Walker did that,
We sure did…
So many more things we could participate in…
At one time all fifty states had sodomy laws but never mind that, homosexuals were never really a persecuted minority. At one time bars and restaurants were forbidden from serving known homosexuals but never mind that, homosexuals were never really a persecuted minority. At one time the Post Office with help from the FBI tracked down suspected homosexuals for government witch hunters but never mind that, homosexuals were never really a persecuted minority. At one time homosexuals were rounded up and held indefinitely in mental hospitals, could have their children taken away from them, could loose their jobs, their homes, their professional licenses, their freedom, but never mind that, homosexuals were never really a persecuted minority.
Nothing to see here…move along…
That is why our history must never be taught. As long as this history, which is still being uncovered and documented, remains hidden the haters can keep right on posturing as the aggrieved parties whenever we compare our struggle to that of other hated minorities, and their bar stool prejudices toward us to their bar stool prejudices toward others. They can keep insisting that we do not need the protection of the courts because we are not a suspect class and were never really persecuted to begin with. That we are merely a small group of privileged mostly rich white men who are seeking special rights at everyone else’s expense. That they are not bigots whose concern was never about anything more then that their hatreds always have free reign over the lives of those they hate. Forgive us if we’re more concerned with Indians and Blacks. That is why our history must never be taught.
June 20th, 2011
I See Election Campaigning Has Already Begun Bruce | Link | React! (1)
June 15th, 2011
The Silence That Speaks For Itself
Andrew Sullivan this morning:
If in the process of conducting your political campaign you give a silent consent to hate then you are just as much a part of the mob as if you had born one of their torches yourself and screamed for blood. Anyone who cannot muster the moral backbone to denounce hate is unfit to be director of public parking, let alone president of the United States. It is that simple.
June 8th, 2011
From Our Department of It’s Only Wrong When Homosexuals Do It…
[Posted on Truth Wins Out, May 23, 2011...]
So this little nugget from the California Catholic Daily breezes across my news screen this morning…
The Catholic Daily goes on to note the proclamation of Harvey Milk Day issued by Governor Jerry Brown. Of course they couldn’t let all this pass without denouncements of “sexual brainwashing” from the usual gang of bigots and political thugs posing as “Pro-Family” advocates. I’m putting scare quotes around pro-family because…seriously…you really can’t claim to be pro-family while at the same time trying your damnedest to rip to shreds families that don’t conform to the model that’s actually in the minority of family types these days. It’s like saying you love the human race except for all those people who aren’t straight, white and male.
I see. Randy Thomasson and NARTH want mothers and fathers to warn their children’s teachers about…what was it again…?
Okay…I have a question. Is the Catholic Church really going to go after Harvey Milk day on the basis that he preyed sexually on teenagers? That the game plan?
Sexual boundaries. Yes. Do let us know when you’ve found some.
[Edited a tad to limit quoting...]
January 12th, 2011
Crazy People, Guns and Gun Control
This is another edition of what Atrios said… Actually, Rotwang…
Glenn Greenwald Tweets somewhat sarcastically, “Remember the 1960s, when 1000s of people were involuntarily locked up in insane asylums and there were no assassinations? http://is.gd/kAbza”
I remember part of the impetus for getting people out of the asylums was far too many were committed who didn’t really need hospitalization, and the ones who did weren’t getting it as long as they were being held safely out of public view. In far too many cases they were more dumping grounds then hospitals.
It’s tempting to engage in a little sarcasm myself when I hear my fellow liberals start yapping about gun control now. Hey fellas…I’ve got a Swell idea on how to lower the temperature of the rhetoric in this country…let’s start making noises about gun control…!
Yes…this will certainly lower the temperature of the dialogue in this country. But then there’s this…
I believe the 2nd amendment guarantees the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms. I believe that freedom is part and parcel of democracy itself. And I despair. Never mind the lunatics who are selling the above back handed incitement to kill a president (I sincerely hope the Secret Service is watching where those rifles are going!). Never mind the NRA’s grotesquely dogmatic stances on gun regulation and crime. The biggest reason we can’t have a rational discussion about gun control in this country is the gun control crowd was very successful back in the 70s in convincing people that their ultimate aim was to eliminate private gun ownership in this country. People quite correctly concluded that even the smallest most perfectly rational regulations on gun sales and ownership was just a first step toward total confiscation. That wasn’t paranoia…it was often stated quite openly by gun control groups.
That seems to have changed on the democratic side of the isle. Good. But it isn’t enough to get us to where we need to be regarding guns. There’s a lot of things I think we could do, including bans on high capacity clips for instance. But the first step has to be acknowledging Americans, if they are peaceful and law abiding, do in fact have a basic right to own their own guns, which is to say, the means to defend themselves.
How denying that somehow became a staple of democratic politics completely baffles me sometimes. I understand and share the liberal democratic impulse to hate war, revere life, nurture love and defend liberty, to work for justice and toward the peaceful society where we are all equals in the eyes of the law. I am completely disgusted by the the republican lock them up and throw away the key approach to crime. That we incarcerate a higher percentage of our own citizens then any other industrialized nation should be a matter of shame to all of us. But if democrats represent the interests of the common everyday working people as opposed to the rich and powerful, then they really need to remind themselves from time to time that the lot of the common people is not greatly improved by rendering them defenseless.
I am not going to stand here and argue that had someone in Gifford’s crowd been armed some or all of the killings may not have happened. I’m certainly not going to argue that a state that can’t at least Try to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable people isn’t asking for trouble. The argument I often hear that an armed society is a peaceful one seems grotesque on its face. You need your gun when the peace has broken down, not when its alive and well. So the first thing is to nurture the peace.
I was bullied horribly during part of my grade school years, the middle school ones, and it left me with a perfect understanding of how it is that your personal safety and security is ultimately on you and you alone. You need to prepare yourself for the worst. But having a fire alarm in your house is a pathetic excuse for playing with matches and gasoline. What…I had a smoke detector…why is my house on fire…?? The bromide is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But turn that around. Guns don’t make a peaceful society either. People do. And one way you Don’t make a peaceful society is this:
That last is from an ad that was televised in West Virginia as part of the campaign to enact an anti-same-sex marriage amendment in that state. It’s a family in the crosshairs of an unseen homosexual sniper. More specifically, the unseen homosexual sniper is targeting their children. This is what gets people killed. This is what makes a society violent. This is creating the climate of hate that can set off a mentally unstable individual. But also the perfectly, murderously sane gay basher. Your gay and lesbian neighbors have been on the receiving end of this hate incited violence now for decades. What’s changed is now the right is doing it more broadly, and more openly, and with even less compunction. What we’ve been seeing in this country in recent years, your gay and lesbian neighbors have been seeing for decades. A climate of hate, meticulously, relentlessly cultivated for political and social ends.
There’s your problem. Not guns. Hate. Last Saturday it was a crazy man. Tomorrow it might be the chillingly sane. Timothy McVeigh. Eric Rudolph. Scott Roeder. One political party has been ginning up hate as a way to win elections for decades now. The problem is when the inevitable violence results the other party responds by calling for more gun control, as if that’s even possible in a nation that hates itself as much as this one is starting to.
I understand that first amendment freedoms are sacred to a democracy. If we can’t talk to each other we can’t govern ourselves. Speech, even ugly disagreeable speech, is a right government cannot be allowed to trample on without opening the door to tyranny. Our ability to speak truth to power depends on that freedom. My hope is the killings in Arizona can finally, finally, enable us to also speak truth to hate without fear that we could sabotage freedom of speech in the process. If we don’t confront hate we will loose that too. Hate will silence the democratic dialogue if we let it, and then we Will loose our precious democracy.
All the gun control in the world won’t matter if we hate each other enough. And if we love and care about each other as neighbors, as fellow Americans, regardless of race, creed or religion, then guns cannot do us any great harm. Just there in the background, like the fireman’s hose if you need it, but the point is not to. How much crime could be eliminated if we actually cared about each other as fellow Americans enough to make our schools strong, and the economy work for everyone? How many gun accidents could be avoided if we cared about each other enough that we held our neighbor’s safety, and their children’s, as if it were our own? Yes actually, guns do kill people. When people hate each other enough. If you’re worrying about the availability of guns in this country you are worrying about the wrong thing.
November 20th, 2010
Hate Does Not Differentiate Between Gay And Transgender
Today is the National Transgender Day Of Remembrance…
Gender non-conforming people… A lot of people fall into that category who might mistakenly assume that violence toward transgendered persons isn’t any of their concern. But the gay man casually holding the hand of the man he loves, the uppity straight woman, the insufficiently masculine and aggressive boy, all are regarded as fair prey by thugs, and for exactly the same reason.
Many people who read that when it first hit the blogstream were appalled. What kind of man actually advocates bullying a child? But it is a vanishingly short distance between aggression toward adults perceived as weak, and children who are by nature vulnerable. The mindset of the adult who would excuse the one, is unlikely to shrink from the other, or even understand that it is wrong.
There are two parts to the gay rights struggle. There is the freedom to love and be loved in return. There is the freedom from the closet, to live our lives openly, honestly, as the persons we actually are. No decent society denies these to its own. Our struggle then, and those of our transgendered neighbors, are one and the same. Against gender conformity. Against hatred of difference. But understand also, that the struggle of transgendered people in the broader sense reminds us that the American dream of liberty and justice for all is still very much an unfinished business.
November 16th, 2010
Well I’ll Probably Never Fly Again
What do I have to change my name to so I can get on one of those No-Fly lists? Seriously.
Got an open ear do you?
Good thing I actually like long distance road trips. But hopefully in my lifetime the great ocean liners can start making a comeback. Please. I would still like to see the world someday.
October 9th, 2010
There Are Some Things Google Just Can’t Give You An Answer To…
Scanning my server logs, I see someone hit my site today with the following Google search string…
why are democrats not defending themselves against republicans
I think the answer is Because they are democrats, but what do I know…
August 16th, 2010
Images From A Sideshow Running Away With The Circus…(continued)
Here’s some shots of the counter-demonstrators…
As I said previously, the main contingent of the counter-demonstrators came in two waves shortly after the NOM rally began. But even as NOM was setting up there were a handful of individuals there on the sidewalk near them, quietly speaking their truths. And among these was Mel White and his companions from Soulforce. I saw Mel occasionally walk over to some of the NOM folks and chat with them for a while. What was said between them I have no idea: much as I would have like to have snapped some photos of those conversations, I kept my distance. At 56 going on 57, I have a very negative opinion of the possibility of changing minds, let alone hearts of any of these True Believers. But I deeply respect anyone who still believes in their heart that it can be done. So I stay out of it. This is why I am not a professional news photographer. The spirit of Weegee laughs at my deference to the better angels.
More and more I am seeing at these demonstrations, young heterosexual couples who see this struggle as their own too. And it is. Only on its face is this a fight about homosexuality. Look closer. It’s a fight over the right to love and be loved, waged by the power hungry war mongering human gutter, that throughout history has viewed the power of love as the essential enemy to be smashed wherever it exists. The gay rights struggle is the lover’s struggle.
There were also lots of individual folks bearing simple statements in support of the right to love. Sometimes you thought you saw another lonely heart, determined to stand up for what in their own lives is yet to be…
As I said, the main force of counter-demonstrators came in two waves. The first was peaceful and positive. The second wave were a tad angrier. And…louder. They were quickly asked/ordered to move further down the plaza, away from the NOM event.
I understand this anger perfectly well. And I am not going to sit here and pontificate that this sort of demonstration is counter-productive. The other side turns us into scarecrows they can safely fear at a distance, and defeat with bar stool valor and junk food religion. They need to see that we are as human as they; and there is nothing less surprising on this earth then the sight of humans who have been attacked getting angry, and fighting back. When people are denied the dream of love, when that ability to love another, and accept their love in return is gutted out of them, what is left?
I have have said often, that the one who fights this fight and doesn’t put their head down on the pillow every night, just a little bit angrier then the night before, just a little more angry then they thought it was humanly possible to be angry, isn’t really paying attention. But it is oh-so easy for anger to become hate. And hate will kill your soul.
This is the lover’s struggle. When all you have left in it is anger, you are done for. It is for love that we fight. Every moment you can put anger aside and remember that, you defeat hate.
Images From A Sideshow Running Away With The Circus…
Here’s some of the shots I took at the NOM rally in front of the Capital yesterday…
They held the rally in front of the Capital south wing, which is right across from the Supreme Court building, but you really couldn’t see the court all that clearly for all the trees. The rally was mostly tucked away in one corner of the grassy park there in front of the south wing. This is what the crowd looked like, just a few moments literally, before Bishop Coles brought his cavalry in. It was almost exclusively white, and very nearly half media and NOM organizers.
Brian Brown getting a tad heated in front of a media lady just before the rally started. I don’t know what she may have asked him but he’d been really nice and polite to the media there, even the gay media, before this.
A couple NOM supporters brought their kids along. Most of the early arrivals were older folks. You didn’t start seeing many young people there until Bishop Coles’ cavalry came along.
That LET THE PEOPLE VOTE chant was an early hit with the crowd. Here they are while Brian Brown gives it a few turns.
Sometime into Bishop Coles’ speech a larger group of counter protesters arrived. (There had already been a few individual counter protesters there, including Mel White and Soulforce companions, as NOM was setting up.) The first wave of them just made themselves quietly known with signs around the perimeter of the event. NOM tried to have them removed, but the Capital Police told them basically that as long as they were quiet and didn’t interfere with the event they had a right to be where they were.
Some gay folk wandered around the NOM crowd during the event. I don’t know if this couple were with the larger group of counter protesters or not. The man’s t-shirt reads: Together 14 years, Married 1 year, 2nd class citizens every day.
Walter Fauntroy, with some other clergyman whose name I thankfully don’t know, waiting to speak. The white clergyman was there when NOM was setting up so I assume he was one of their local organizers. And unlike Bishops Jackson and Coles, he actually paid attention to all the other clergymen as they spoke. He didn’t talk much with the crowd though. Coles worked the crowd a little bit. Jackson was working the media.
Bishop Coles right after his speech, walked off the sump and whipped up the crowd with that LET THE PEOPLE VOTE chant. Black people were denied voting rights in this country for generations after then end of slavery. But those same rights were not won back by the ballot, but in the courts. The lesson that the courts have an important role to play in protecting the rights of all Americans, and that the basic human rights of minorities are not a popularity contest, seems to have escaped a lot of folks there. Prejudice does that to a person. Oh…YOUR rights don’t count…
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com