Friday, November 30, 2007

48th Carnival of Feminists!

The latest Carnival of Feminists is up. Check it out for some new feminist reading materials.

Oh yeah, my Gender Card in Politics article was featured in this edition!

Not too shabby, I suppose, for a gal who *isn't even a feminist*, or so one anti-gay lady claims.

Coming Out Fridays! A Straight Man Comes Out.

After National Coming Out Day, I wrote my belated coming out story. I hope that you found it interesting. And, perhaps one day someone who is struggling with his or her sexual identity will come across my story, or the stories that others have written, and will be helped by it in some way.

Which got me to thinking, maybe Fannie's Room needs a periodic guest blogging series where others, some of you perhaps, tell your stories. In addition to possibly helping others, telling our own real stories can be an effective way for those who do not know any gay people to, hopefully, see us in a more compassionate light. Perhaps, they will come to see us, not as evil threats out to destroy marraige and steal their children, but as real people who are at times vulnerable, scared, and just as human as all of them.

Or they'll just make fun of us.

Whatever. That's fun too.

The first storyteller in this series is regular visitor John. If you've been here regularly you will recognize John as a heterosexual married man who supports marriage equality. He is also a contributor to the group blog Live, Love, and Learn. I think that it's important to recognize that, sometimes, heterosexuals (who I believe will be the key to our eventual victory for equality) have to "come out" too. Homosexuality is not yet fully accepted in our society, or in many parts of the world. And I think it is far easier to go along with the peer-pressurey crowd that ridicules, mocks, and sometimes hates gay people than it is to stand up and say "But I support marriage equality."

And, I think, it is easy for many heterosexuals to think "I don't really care about gay rights, because it doesn't really affect me." Thinking of this easy complacency, I wonder what motivates hetereosexuals to be allies in the struggle for equal rights. In John's case, there were several reasons- a major one being an embarassing display of backlash to judicial decisions affirming gay rights. But enough of me talking, here's John's story in his own words (which he also posted on Live, Love, and Learn):

"My own 'coming out' was a process that took place over many years, and it seems to involve four major steps. The first was seeing homosexuality as simply ordinary. This was easy for me, but it came about in a rather strange way.

I was raised in a very strict Roman Catholic home, which has a lot to do with why I have never viewed homosexuality as anything other than a natural variant of human sexuality.

Think about that for a moment.

I just said that I view homosexuality as a natural variant of human sexuality BECAUSE of my strict Catholic upbringing. At this point you may properly ask what it is that I am smoking. You see, when I became a young teen, I would think of sex a fair amount of the time. In fact, all I had to do was hear or read certain words and I would think of sex; words like girl, skirt, leg, outboard motor, etc. But in my Catholic home anything that could even be remotely connected to sexuality was simply never discussed. So I had to learn on my own with no input from my caregivers.

The most influential source of my education was a weekly series of magazines called, "The Story of Life". It was a 53 week series that explained in clinical but readable detail everything about human life, love, and sexuality. One issue was dedicated to "Lovers of the Same Sex", and it dealt with the issue in a frank and totally non-judgmental manner. Since this was my only real source of information, I had no reason to think that there was a judgment to be made.

It is difficult to explain why the second step should be necessary, but while I could accept homosexuality as a natural and normal variant of human sexuality, intellectually, I could not comprehend how one could feel a sexual attraction to a memeber of the same sex. I guess I still can't, really, but for some reason seeing the effects of same sex attraction helped me see just how real it is.

As a teen (or very early 20's) I, and a few friends (one of whom is a lesbian), experimented with each each other to test our responses to same and opposite sex stimulation. I doubt you'd want to hear details of such experimentation, but it was an eye-opener for me.

The third milestone was moving beyond seeing homosexuality in sexual terms and seeing it in terms of relationships.

I am ashamed to admit that until the Goodridge decision, I never gave even a moment's thought to gay relationships, especially with respect to marriage. My attitude towards Goodridge was pure indifference. It didn't affect me or my marriage in any way. My feeling was that is two people of the same sex want to marry, who the hell am I to even voice an opinion on the matter?

But then a backlash began. A petition to ban SSM by constitutional amendment was signed by enough voters to put the measure to a vote. As many as twenty states (insert real number here) passed constitutional amendments to ban SSM, and I was absolutely horrified by the rhetoric. The talk shows hosts, the religious press and even the Republican Party (that Party of cold sober realists who preach "rugged individualism" and "get the goverment of my back") became preachers of pure hate.

I had never been so disgusted by my countrymen or more ashamed of my nation.

I didn't feel like an American or a Christian anymore.

The idea that in these United States of America in 2007, that the people should vote on the civil rights of my fellow citizens has shocked me to core. And that the Party of Lincoln would lead the charge has changed me from a passive supporter to an outright activist.

And I have learned more about gay relationships; I started reading the testimonials of gay couples. I now know that gay relationships are identical to straight relationships in every pertinent way. And only then did I realize how much I take my own protections of marriage for granted.

And then there is step four.

I am a Christian. While I don't fit the mold well, as I have little use for organized religion and am somewhat agnostic in my view of Providence, I recognize that for millions, Jesus is a abundant source of comfort and provides a moral compass. It is of major importance to me to be able to show others that Jesus's message of love, tolerance and acceptance can not abide the bigotry expressed in Paul's sermons.

That final understanding of Jesus's complete and total acceptance came form my (on-line) association with the Rev. Dr. Jerry Maneker.

His blog is here:"

Thank you, John- for your story and for your support.

John brings up a good point here:

"The idea that in these United States of America in 2007, that the people should vote on the civil rights of my fellow citizens has shocked me to core."

Here, he is referring to constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage that were brought about as a response to the Massachussets judicial ruling that it was a denial of equal protection and due process for the State to deny same-sex couples from marriage.

In other words, the fundies didn't like the constitutional rules so they decided to make up new ones. Effectively, the judicial branch of government that was created specifically to a avoid tyranny of the majority was circumvented to allow tyranny of the majority. That's not democracy.

And that is something that all Americans should be ashamed of.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Crazy..... Crazy For Feeling So.... Paranoid

I came across this letter on Allied Blog Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters. It's a fake letter written by Janet Folger, president of conservative Christian group Faith2Action. In this letter, titled "Letter From a Future Prisoner," Fogler is pretending that she's writing from the year 2010, after Hillary Clinton has been elected President of the US.

Readers, here's what our world will be like.

*Cue Creepy Music*

"Nov. 20, 2010
To the Resistance:

I'm writing this letter from prison, where I've been since the beginning of 2010. Since Hillary was elected in '08, Christian persecution in America has gotten even worse than we predicted.

When the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" was signed into law, my radio program was yanked off the air along with all the others that dared discuss moral issues on Christian radio. The networks just couldn't bring themselves to air a pro-abortion program or one that advocates the homosexual agenda for the government mandated "balance" because broadcasting lies went against their basic beliefs – I don't blame them.

We knew "Thought Crimes" was in danger of becoming law back when it passed Congress in 2007, but thankfully, President Bush kept his promise to veto it. But, tragically, Hillary signed that most dangerous bill in America – ushering in the criminalization of Christianity. And now, even my book, "The Criminalization of Christianity," has been banned as "hate speech" just as I predicted when I wrote it back in 2005.

When the "Employment Non-Discrimination Act" ("Thought Crimes" for the Workplace) became law, businesses and ministries were targeted by homosexual activists and were forced to close when they wouldn't comply with a law forcing them to hire those opposed to their beliefs on moral issues.

When they canceled my program, banned my book and targeted my ministry, I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd be forced into "prison ministry" against my will. Unfortunately for our nation, that ministry is growing fast. A homeschooling mom was assigned the cell next to me. I try to comfort her, but she cries constantly at the thought of her kids being raised in government foster care.

The forced labor here makes me think that I should have done more for our brothers and sisters in China sent to labor camps for the crime of hosting a home church, or those imprisoned in every Muslim country for choosing Christ over Allah. We should have seen the writing on the wall when Yahoo turned over confidential searches to the Chinese government, sending people to prison, and when Google barred American Christian sites from its search engines as "haters." Finding allied ministries is now almost impossible.

Most didn't see it coming. I try not to think about how the 2009 "Freedom of Choice Act" wiped out every single pro-life law from parental notice to the ban on partial birth abortion. And how "anti-reproductive rights" was added to the "Thought Crime" statute, which, like California before the election, means a year in jail if someone claims to feel "intimidated" by anything a pro-lifer might do – like express their beliefs in public.

But, like the homeschool mom in the cell beside me, I cry too. I cry mostly because it didn't have to be this way. Just three years ago – in 2007 – we had a chance to unite and achieve our lifetime goals of restoring protection to children in the womb, and protecting our foundational relationship of marriage between a man and a woman. And now the suggestion of it is treated like the illegal mention of a "mom" or "dad" to the California School Board.

Martin Niemöller's words ring true. I see them with a modern twist:

When they came for the Chinese, I did not speak up because those slave-labor goods were so very cheap.

When they came for the Afghan and Iraqi Christians, I did not speak up because I didn't want to undermine the war effort.

When they came for the German homeschoolers, I didn't speak up because I live in America.

When they came for the Philadelphia 11, I didn't speak up, because I was from Cleveland.

When they came for me, speaking up had become illegal.
No, in 2007 and 2008, American Christians were so used to the status quo that they forgot we were in this to win. Compromised and divided, they choose to protest rather than protect.

When the Christian and conservative leaders couldn't stop fighting over their candidate of compromise or their favorite "tier two" pick, we missed our last chance at victory – victory for children facing the abortionists' knife and victory for the institution foundational to our society – marriage.

All the money in the world couldn't buy Mitt Romney's trust. And no one seemed to remember what Rudy Giuliani had said of the previous Clinton administration: "Most of Clinton's policies are similar to most of mine." Or how he praised the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, and offered up a citywide proclamation honoring the infamous racist eugenicist, whose organization has brutally killed more babies than any other in the Western Hemisphere.

Did they really think we would have a chance to beat Hillary with "Hillary-lite?"

There was a tier-one candidate that stood for our goals of life and marriage – that man was Gov. Mike Huckabee. Had we nominated Huckabee to run against Hillary, the stark difference between the two would have brought voters out in droves. And we never would have seen the Supreme Court appointments of Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein. If only there were a way to go back in time to change … I've gotta go. The guard spotted me writing again."

Now, upon reading this letter, I had a couple mixed thoughts. After a few brief moments of laughter thinking, I said to myself, "Fannie, now surely this letter is a joke. And it was probably written by some progressive blogger to mock the world-is-ending tactics that conservatives so often use." But alas, it's not a joke. This woman, Janet Folger, is serious. This letter is her vision of what the world will be like if we do not elect Mitt Romney to be our next president. Folger has a real organization and website and everything. Her tagline, in fact, is "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." I hear that some extremist Muslims would agree (with the part about using faith as pretext to spread hate).

Anyway, in the comment section of a previous article I wrote, regular visitor Vieve mentioned how people who devote their life mission to opposing and negating others maybe have some sort of psychopathology. Reading this letter I don't see how anyone who believes in it could be anything other than mentally ill, or at least very ignorant. And, it is a perfect example of the hypocrisy, paranoia, lying, and distrust that is so rampant among those fundamentalists who claim to be so much more loving and righteous than the rest of us. Unfortunately, such religious "leaders" have much influence over the masses- who trust that they are hearing the truth because those who are speaking claim to be loving and righteous.

Such groups persecute others- namely non-Christians and gay people. And, when we stand up to them and say "do that on your own time, but not on state time" they accuse us of persecuting them. When we tell them to go to their churches to pray and ask that they don't force everyone to pray in school, they accuse us of "criminalizing" Christianity. And when we try to pass hate crimes laws, they misinterpret or blatantly lie about these laws- scaring the masses by describing them as "thought control." (I address that lie here). They accuse others of wanting to ban their books, when in reality, they are the ones trying to get books banned. Harry Potter anyone? And, while the President that they elected has been whittling away our civil liberties since 9/11 they have the audacity to predict a future world that lacks freedom because of us?!

If this isn't some sort of mass psychopathology, I don't know what is. If this isn't mass ignorance, I don't know what is.

Anyway, I try to keep faith in the human race by telling myself that it is one of those two relatively blameless reasons, as opposed to pure hatred of others, that makes some people devote their entire lives to negating others...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Missed Connection with Identity: Internet Trolls and Feminism

Internet bullying is something I have been wanting to write about for some time. I first encountered internet bullying in the late 1990's as the "world wide web" was beginning to really take off. As a young adult, I would venture into discussion boards and chat rooms and would inevitably run into personas whose main purpose of online interaction seemed to be to get away with saying anonymously what they would never say to someone's face.

Flash forward a decade and this trend continues. I currently read various blogs covering many different topics. As you may have noticed by looking at the blogs on my blogroll, I like reading political, legal, and social blogs- I particularly like those from a feminist perspective.

What is disturbing to me, however, is that most of the blogs I read or link to have had some experience with internet coward/bullies who attack not the content of the blog, but rather they attack the blogger's gender, sexuality, race, intelligence, etc. in a vicious, aggressive, and shallow way. Blogs of all types have run-ins with internet bullies.

Yet, comments written by men and directed towards feminist women are particularly angsty, sexualized, and aggressive. In fact, women in general are targeted in a sexually aggressive way much more often than men are. This Washington Post article says it well:

"Men are harassed too, and lack of civility is an abiding problem on the Web. But women, who make up about half the online community, are singled out in more starkly sexually threatening terms -- a trend that was first evident in chat rooms in the early 1990s and is now moving to the blogosphere, experts and bloggers said. A 2006 University of Maryland study on chat rooms found that female participants received 25 times as many sexually explicit and malicious messages as males" [emphasis added]

Importantly, these findings reinforce how much feminism is still needed in our society, despite claims that feminism is now "pointless," "dead," or "unncessary."

On top of this aggression is the nature of internet communication itself. Internet communication is similar to the depersonalization that occurs when driving a car. Most drivers do not think of other cars on the road as being handled by a person (yes we all know that cars aren't Herbie the Love Bug, but stay with me here)- they think of driving in terms of "That stupid car just cut me off." Accordingly, people are more likely to act aggressively while driving than they would on foot. And at the same time, we lose a sense of personal identity when we drive- we turn from individuals into "cars."

The internet is similar in that we don't often see the people on the other end of the computer as human beings that are as nuanced and complex as we are. We see the facade that they present to us through their writings. And likewise, in our own writings, we present to the world whatever we want the world to see of us. And so, a man who may, in the real world, be a friendly enough person, turns into an anonymous harasser in the internet world- giving voice to thoughts he would probably never say in person to someone.

Social Psychologists call this "deindividuation"- the idea that if we reduce our own sense of identity, we are less likely to follow social norms, like not behaving aggressively. It is as though an anonymous troll does not associate his mean-spirited comments with his personal identity, and therefore he does not have to feel guilty about making the comments. Or, he knows that he probably won't get "caught" for saying what is really on his mind, and so he says whatever is on his mind.

Due to the nature of the internet, human beings, and a society that is largely resistant to feminism, I believe that trolling will probably always be an issue. Trolling is pretty much an expectation when you're a political blogger, especially a feminist one. That doesn't make it okay or right. And it certainly doesn't mean we have to tolerate it.

But today I want to look at some instances of trolling and how others have dealt with it.

1. Comment Moderation and Registration

The easiest and most obvious way to deal with a troll is to delete the trollish comments. Deleting comments and/or requiring approval before publishing comments is called "comment moderation." Easy enough.

The popular feminist blog Feministing, which trolls love to hate and harass, has devoted several articles to the issue of trolling and comment moderation. In 2005, due to a combination of spam and "asshole" commenters thinking it's "okay to appropriate feminist spaces for their own agendas," Feministing began requiring users to register. A registration requirement inhibits comments from both assholes and those who want to comment honestly. By reducing anonymity, commenters prone to trollish behavior will be less likely to engage in trollish behavior. Yet at the same time, those who do want to engage for valid reasons, may not want to go through the registration process. Feministing's writers also "moderate" comments that are directed at a person rather than an argument- a sometimes subjective call.

Critics often decry such comment moderation as "censorship" or "fascism," which is a fascinating pseudo-self-victimization. For, when the dominant ideology in all of society is that feminism is unnecessary and/or harmful, I don't believe that it is harmful for feminists to ask for a space of their own on the web to discuss and analyze feminist issues amongst themselves. Feminists, believe it or not, often have issues they want to work out and discuss amongst other feminists without being derailed by anti-feminist lines of questioning like "why do all feminists hate men"? As fun as that dead horse is to beat. Again. But more, many feminists do not want to deal with those who condescendingly try to save us from our feminism by enlightening us as to the "distate" with which every other person in society regards feminism.

As for the "censorship" cry, I don't recognize such comment moderation as "censorship" when in the US we each have the freedom to write our very own unmoderated blogs.

2. Public Ridicule and Humor

Another tactic some use for dealing with trolls is ridicule and the use of humor. Rather than trembling in fear at Scary and Mean Anonymous Troll, as some trolls want women to do, feminists laugh at trolls, write articles about the ridiculous lack of logic trolls use, and expose the type of misogynistic thinking that is still present.

You know you're striking a chord amongst some anti-feminists when the best they can do is call you shrill (oooh, I've been called that one!), hysterical (that too!), femi-nazi, lesbian (so?), whore, frigid* and man-hating.

*Basically, I've decided that anti-feminists will call a woman a "slut" or "frigid" if the anti-feminist believes that the woman would not have sex with him in real life. Which, in all honesty, she probably wouldn't. But it's an interesting dichotomous paradox nonetheless.

Anyway, the point is that these men cannot attack your arguments and are probably really threatened by them. So they want to threaten you. Or something fucked up like that.

I guess the upside of all this is that the exposure of hate-mail and trollish comments can, at times, be humorous and an effective way of showing that misogyny is alive and well in society. Because nothing says feminism isn't dead like "Corky Loomis'" comment to Feministing: "If you all weren't so young I'd try to have my way with you, but you'd never give me the time of day. Bitches."

Probably not. But thanks for proving our point, "Corky."

And more disturbing than shallow trolls are the trolls who threaten or encourage physical violence against women (and some men) who are feminists.

Some of my fellow bloggers and I had a creepy run-in of our own with an anti-gay misogynistic "anonymous" blogger awhile back who urged us all to put guns in our mouths and kill ourselves because we are lesbians. Yep, homophobia and misogyny is, like, so non-existent.

In these cases, it's probably best to ignore the trolls and, possibly, involve the authorities.

3. Treating Schoolboys Like Schoolboys

As alluded to earlier, some anti-feminist trolls are dead set on "saving" us or the world or men or something from feminism. And while they do not always make outright personal attacks, they do come into feminist blogs with the expectation that they will easily enlighten feminists as to the errors of feminist thinking. Such persons appear to be more interested in exhibiting their argumentative prowess than they are in having actual dialogue with feminists.

In one of the best articles ever written on such behavior, feminist blogger Dizzy says it well:

"It appears that my blog (and many like it) has become akin to an intro women’s studies class where a few tardy, unprepared, dialogue-dominating, self-righteous freshman boys, who are taking it in order to get what they think will be an easy A and to sharpen their debate skills, only listen to female voices in anticipation of finding a faulty theoretical argument to attack and use against them."

So true.

I have, in fact, had the experience of having one particular anti-feminist, anti-gay blogger tell me that my position on an issue was wrong BEFORE I had actually stated my position. He, being a man I suppose, already just knew that this little lady didn't know her stuff. I'm sure others can relate.

Anyway, Dizzy proposed that we call such men Freshmen. I think it's a fitting title for those who think that feminism (much like some believe gay rights advocacy) is just "a fun little academic exercise" that doesn't matter in the real world. Because I, for one, don't have much patience for people too busy denying that women face particular harms in society to have constructive dialogue with people who talk about the harms that women face in society.

Tactic: Call them out as the Freshmen they are, point them to the Feminism 101 blog, and send them on their merry fucking pedantic ways.

That's it for now. Does any have any other tips to offer?

And, before I end today, I'd like to say this- I think a main puprose of trollish behavior is to reduce the number of women, particular feminist, bloggers. If women are harassed, many of them will step down, reduce their internet participation, or censor their own feminist thoughts. I guess I don't know what the right thing to do is. No one should have to endure online harassment- especially threats, but it's also sort of inevitable and we have to continue blogging.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Marriage Benefits #2 and #3: Social Security Benefits

This article is part of my running series on legal benefits, protections, and privileges of legal marriage. I hope you find it at least somewhat interesting, as I think it's important to make the phrase "benefits of marriage" as real to people as possible. If anything, at least so some people may come across my blog and see exactly how the marriage debate affects real human beings. Debating about marriage equality is not just some theoretical, abstract game that gay people are trying to win. Many gay people want to be legally married because marriage has many legal and financial implications (on top of the implications for human dignity and equality).

Last time, I talked about the importance of health care powers of attorney and health care surrogacy laws. Today's topic is about Social Security benefits and their relation to the status of legal "spouse."

In most states, a same-sex partner is not a legal spouse. And, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)- the law enacted to make super-duper sure that any given state does not have to give full faith and credit to a legal same-sex marriage from another state- the word "spouse" means opposite sex married partners only. Even if a person had a legal marriage to someone of the same-sex in, say, Massachusetts.

Here's how that distinction affects Social Security benefits:

According to the Social Security Administration, some of the Social Security taxes you pay go towards survivors insurance for workers and their families. And, when you die, your spouse, children, and dependent parents may be eligible for these benefits. Your spouse will be able to receive full survivor benefits at age 65, reduced benefits at age 60. However, a spouse taking care of your children may receive benefits at any age. The amount of benefits that you, your spouse, or your children receive depends on how much you put into Social Securtity via payroll taxes during your career.

In addition to survivors insurance, spouses are also eligible for a spousal benefit. Generally, this benefit is based on the other spouse's earnings and is about one-half of what the working spouse receives. For more information about the spousal benefit read this Fox news article discussing the pesky timing problem that those who actually get to receive the spousal benefit have of when to take the spousal benefit (before one spouse retires, or after?) Gosh. If it's so darn complicated, maybe we don't even want the benefit!

Yadda yadda yadda. I bet you can guess what "spouse" does and does not mean with regard to Social Security benefits. That's right. An opposite sex partner only.

If you are gay, this means that while you pay survivors insurance via your payroll taxes, survivors insurance goes towards other peoples' spouses. Not yours. Not the person who you spent your life with. And currently, 12 million of the 45 million people receiving social security benefits are spouses or children of deceased or disabled workers. That's 1 in 4. Same-sex partners and spouses, as well as some children of gay and lesbian couples, are not included in this number. This denial is estimated to cost the LGBT community $124 million per year in unaccessed benefits.

So yes, we have benefit #2 (survivors insurance) and #3 (spousal benefit) that same-sex couples are denied because they happen to have the same genitals.

Again, this doesn't matter, right? Because all gay people, especially old gay people, are rich, right?

Okay, I admit. I'm kidding. And in all seriousness, like other benefits of marriage, this denial of Social Security benefits will hit poor and working class gay families harder than they will hit more well-off gay families.

Evan Wolfson says it well,

"Compared with the relatively cheap option of marriage, the creation of a legal web meant to simulate some of the protections of marriage is an expensive and time consuming project that simply cannot serve as a viable alternative for people of lesser means.

Working and middle-class same-sex couples who cannot afford legal services are therefore without the ability to properly plan forms."

Same-sex couples are able to simulate some of the benefits and protections of marriage, through crafty estate planning. Crafty estate planning, of course, takes a lawyer, something that working class and poor families cannot always afford. And because free and low-cost legal aid program operate on a triage system- where the most urgent cases like eviction take precedence over less urgent ones like estate planning- the poor do not have many options to receive estate planning services from a professional.

At the same time, the Social Security benefits are an example of a marital benefit that cannot be duplicated. Currently, there is no legal way for a same-sex partner to receive any type of Social Security benefit based on the work of his or her partner.

Here are some legal options that would grant Social Security survivors insurance to surviving same-sex partners:

1) Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), so same-sex spouses legally married at the state level will be eligible for federal benefits.

2) Amend the Social Security Act to grant survivor's benefits to same-sex surviving partners.

3) Grant same-sex couples the right to be legal spouses.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The H Hall of Shame: A Tally of Political Hypocrisy

"Save Marriage!" they cry. And, "What about the children!" they echo. "Gayness is an abomination!" they shout. Who are the "they" I am referring to, you may be wondering? Shining beacons of morality, so-called "marriage defenders," and "upstanding Christians," perhaps?

Nope. Hypocrites. Those who preach one thing and do the opposite.

It reminds me of an email I received a couple of months ago after a debate with one particular devoutly Christian anti-gay blogger. She said something along the lines of "I'm sorry you happened to have a 'discussion' with [anti-gay blogger]. I used to date him and he's the most hypocritical ass I've ever met in my life." Sure, it could have been some hooligan playing a joke. But the woman did use a real email account with a real name attached to it, which counts for something in the largely anonymous internet world.

Yet it brought to the forefront of my mind something I often wonder about: How many prominent (or at least vocal) anti-gay bloggers and advocates are living hypocritical lives. How many of them have or are currently cheating on their spouses while admonishing others for breaking their marital vows? How many of them are having non-procreative sex whole simultaneously advising others to only have sex for procreation? How many of them are declaring homosexuality immoral while secretly having gay sex on the side? How many of them want to 'save the children' but who have turned their back on their gay children?

See, I don't expect humans to be perfect. But many conservatives do. They expect moral perfection in others (well, what they see as moral perfection anyway) while living less-than-perfect lives themselves.

A few days ago, however, when I read of the latest scandal, I became fed up. That's when I decided to make a list. It's called The H Hall of Shame. H is for Hypocrite. Not very creative, I know, but accurate, nonetheless.

People are eligible for The H List when they publicly degrade a particular action while privately engaging in it. Politicians and other public figures who are otherwise exposed as hypocrites are eligible.

Here's the start of The H List:

1. Senator David Vitter (R).

Back in July, I wrote about Vitter. (Well, actually it was an open letter to Vitter from which I never heard back. I even mailed it to him.) Anyway, Senator Vitter is a married (with 4 kids) Republican whose name allegedly turned up in phone records of a DC "escort service."

Why he's a hypocrite:

He publicly declared that "marriage is the most important institution in human history" and on this basis backed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Because, you know, gay people apparently threaten marriage more than adulterers do.

He makes The H List because he publicly speaks of marriage as a Very Important Institution (in fact, THE most important one) but his private actions show that his own marriage is not so important to him.

2. Senator Larry Craig (R)

In August 2007, Senator Craig was arrested for allegedly attempting to engage in "lewd" conduct in a men's bathroom with an undercover officer.

What makes Craig a hypocrite? A couple of things.

First, his public criticism of President Clinton's sex scandal and his (somewhat odd yet titillating!) characterization of Clinton:

"In 1999, Craig became sharply critical of U.S. President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Speaking on NBC's Meet The Press, Craig told Tim Russert: "The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy - a naughty boy. I’m going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.”"

Bill, you naughty boy, you! Meow.

But in addition, this man who allegedly attempted to cheat on his wife was in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban others from marriage. That he may be gay is beside the point. One can be gay and be against same-sex marriage and not be a hypocrite. What makes one a hypocrite is publicly heralding marriage as a sacred institution, denying others the right to marry, yet showing no respect for marriage in one's own personal life.

3. Reverend Ted Haggard

"Pastor Ted" is a former evangelical leader and preacher whose little scandal disgraced him and cost him his job. He's also, allegedly, "ex-gay."

Why is Ted a hypocrite?

Let me count thy ways:

For one, he has condemned "homosexual activities" by saying this:

"We don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible."

Do I need to state the evangelical interpretation of what's supposedly "written in the Bible" about homosexuality?

His hypocrisy came into play when this married father o' five who opposes same-sex marriage was accused of some "homosexual activity" of his own. With a male prostitute nonetheless.

Defend Marriage! (Restrictions apply. For instance, when that marriage is your own, in which case you should disregard your own preachings and do whatever you feel like).

He's also a hypocrite because, like a true club kid, he allegedly "bought drugs"- crystal meth to be specific- which definitely makes the Baby Jesus cry. But supposedly he didn't use it.

So that's all settled.

4. State Rep. Richard Curtis (R)

This man's hypocrisy is, perhaps, not as well known as the others I have mentioned. But it's still pretty interesting. And by interesting I mean infuriating and idiotic.

This snippet from The Seattle Times says it best:

"Apparently the news about Larry Craig didn't make it to La Center. That's where Republican Rep. Richard Curtis lives. There's really no other way to figure out why Curtis thought he could call the cops, tell them every little detail of his sexual encounter with a man he picked up at an "erotic boutique," and expect the matter would be kept quiet."

Allegedly, the married Rep. Curtis had night of sex with someone other than his wife in a hotel room. The person that this Representative who opposes same-sex marriage and gay rights allegedly had sex with was another man.

Which makes him a hypocrite.

And, like the rest of the fellas caught having sex with other men, he's also supposedly "not gay."

Mmnnnkay, girls, whatever you say.

5. State Rep. Bob Allen (R)

As states:

"State Rep. Bob Allen (R), with one of the state's worst records on LGBT rights votes, resigned from the legislature late Friday, hours after he was sentenced for offering an undercover male police officer cash for sex."

You know, these stories of married anti-gay Republicans getting busted for extra-marital and gay sex is just getting to be sort of old hat.


Lemme guess, he too is "not gay"?

Yep. As he states, when he was at the gay cruising spot public park:

"'I certainly wasn't there to have sex with anybody and certainly wasn't there to exchange money for it,' Allen told officers.

Of the arresting officer Allen said in the tape, 'This was a pretty stocky black guy, and there was nothing but other black guys around in the park.'"

I know. Black people, are like, totally scary and who wouldn't pretend to want a blow job to avoid being attacked? I mean, it's completely understandable that Allen even went so far as to warn the man he "pretended" to attempt to engage in sex with that "undercover cops" were in the area.

I'm sensing a pattern. Condemn gay people, have gay sex, get busted, declare your heterosexuality, beg forgiveness. Rinse and repeat.

Yet, there's an interesting twist to Allen's case. Get this, he sponsored a (failed) bill that would have tightened a prohibition on public sex! Sooo, he's against public sex unless it's him having public sex. Well, good thing his bill failed at least.

Well, that's the list so far. I'm sure it won't be too long before it's time to make additions.

These people are invidious because they have reached many people through their preachings and teachings. They have demanded what they deem as moral perfection in others while hiding their own imperfections. And worse, they reach hundreds of thousands (millions?) of sheeple who believe in and try to live up to this so-called perfect moral code- who, in turn, judge and condemn other people.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Tired Refrain of "Great Harm"

If you don't know history, it is said, you are bound to repeat it.

And, I would like to add that those who do not know history are often scared of progress. This Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks to the men and women in our nation's history who were not scared of social progress, and who were not scared of the future.

Progress on social issues will occur. I think that it is in our nature, as humans, neither to remain stangant nor oppressive. We cannot guarantee that social progress will happen swiftly or without struggle. But, generally, progress happens.

Those who do not remember this general rule, those who resist progress, are bound to be seen by history as bigots, fools, and just all-around bad guys.

People resist social progress on many different grounds. Religion and morality are some common grounds of resistance. I don't believe that all people who resist progress on these grounds are acting with malice. They were brought up with certain beliefs, or acquired them over time, and in their arguments they are merely appealing to what they believe is their god's word. Some resisters of progress, however, do act with a somewhat evil intent. Such people are often outright bigots (admittedly or not).

Today, thought, I want to talk about a different category of resister, what I like to call The Great Harm Resister. These resisters of social progress base their justification of stagnancy on the grounds that:

"Great harm will befall society if ________ group of people receive _______ rights."

I am not implying here that all progress is beneficial to society or that all progress will not cause some harm. But oftentimes, the "great harm" argument really means this:

"Those who currently receive the rights in question will be harmed in some way if _______ right is also given to _______ group of people."

Yet, in their self-absorption, egocentricity, and/or dishonesty they claim that ALL of society will suffer. Because they seem to believe that "all of society" is composed of people just like them?

A *fun* variation of this argument is also:

"If _____ right is given to _____ group of people it will harm that group of people the right is given to."

That is an even more invidious argument as the denial of rights is for the denied group's "own good." There we have one group who has put itself in charge with looking out for everyone. As though that group could be trusted to do so fairly.

Let's take a walk through history and remember some of these arguments...

1. Women's Suffrage.

Remember when women couldn't vote? Yeah, neither do I. Thank you women and men who supported women's suffrage! Those who opposed giving women the vote were called "Antis," which I think we should co-opt and use for present resisters to social progress.

Although the first serious proposal to give women the right to vote in the US was in the mid-1800's, women did not receive the right until 1920.

Here was some "enlightened" speak from anti-voting equality advocates:

Rep. Thomas Girling argued that granting women the right to vote would

"cause irreparable damage at great expense to the state."

A Senator asserted that,

"disaster and ruin would overtake the nation."

But wait! Women also joined the fun! Look at this early British female anti-feminist's reasons that women should not vote:

"Because all government rests ultimately on force, to which women, owing to physical, moral and social reasons, are not capable of con­tributing."


"Because there is little doubt that the vast majority of women have no desire for the vote."

Because, like, voting is haa-ard. Tee-hee-hee.

Women opposing suffrage remind me of women today who try to earn the favor of men by not being feminists and not supporting gender equality. They proudly proclaim "I'm not a feminist!" and receive their obligatory pat on the head from whatever man they are trying to please.

But anyway, back to Great Harm. Does anyone see the Great Harm that has occured to our nation and/or women because they were granted the right to vote? Now, keep in mind that women have only had the right to vote for 87 years. Perhaps we are not yet able to discern the damage, disaster, and ruin that is occuring in our nation that is a direct result of female voters.

2. Slavery

Some of my (un)favorite arguments for slavery were of the "Great Harm Will Befall Slaves If They Are Freed" type.

Specifically, the argument went that Black people from Africa were "naturally inferior" to other races. Therefore, they were unfit for citizenship and freedom.

For instance, a Black person's:

"want of capability to receife a complicated education renders it improper and impotitic, that he should be allowed the privileges of citizenship in an enlightened country!"

So, it seems that this author was arguing that slaves thought freedom was, like, too hard. Freedom would only confuse the slave and, therefore, harm him [or her].

But not only that, the abolition of slavery would harm society:

"The first and most obvious effect, would be to put an end to the cultivation of our great Southern staple."

Readers, has the end of slavery harmed society, our nation, and/or African-Americans? Remember that slavery has only been abolished for 140-some years so perhaps we can't yet see the harm.

3. Anti-Miscegenation

Miscgenation as Wikipedia states is "the mixing of the races" such as through marrying, cohabitation, or sexual relations. As late as 1967, some US states had valid anti-miscegenation laws prohibiting the inter-marriage of whites with other racial groups. Non-white racial groups were, of course, often free to inter-marry. It was the white race that some were concerned about becoming "tainted."

Observe this Judge's Great Harm to Society argument:

"Civilized society has the power of self-preservation, and, marriage being the
foundation of such society, most of the states in which the Negro forms an
element of any note have enacted laws inhibiting intermarriage between the
white and black races."
(From Perez v. Lippold)

The following argument, from the Tennessee Supreme Court, is of the "Great Harm Will Befall Society Because Children Will be Harmed" type:

"Interracial marriages would be a “calamity full of the saddest and
gloomiest portent to the generations that are to come after us."

And here is a "Great Harm To The Marital Institution" Argument said by a US Representative:

"Allowing interracial marriages 'necessarily involves the degradation' of
conventional marriage, an institution that 'deserves admiration rather than

Readers, do you think that "inter-marriage" has caused great harm to society, our current generation, and marriage in general? Or has it merely harmed some white people's notion that the white race is superior to other races? Keep in mind, that miscegenation has only been legal in the US for 40 years. Perhaps we can't yet see the full effects of the harm.

4. Women Running Marathons

This category is a bit more flippant than the others, admittedly. But there was a time when women were not allowed to run marathons, and when they were, in general, discouraged from participating in endurance sports. The reasoning behind this discouragement and (sometimes) ban, was that supposedly women were not physically capable of running long distances.

That is, Great Harm Will Befall Women if they run more than a mile or two. As a woman who has competed in many marathons, and has logged more running miles than many men have, I find this old "warning" amusing.

A woman first ran the marathon in 1896, when she ran and finished the Olympic course that she was barred from officially entering. As late as 1972, women were excluded from one of the world's most famous marathons: Boston. The first woman to run the Boston marathon was Katherine Switzer, who "snuck" into the race by using the initials of her first name. When race officials realized that a woman was running the race, they tried to physically remove her from the course.

The picture of race officials trying to remove her from the course, to me, is a striking image of men desperately trying to maintain a status quo.

Now, of course, physical differences exist between men and women. But they are not so great to warrant the restriction of a woman's race to 1.5 miles while allowing men to run 26.2 miles! Hundreds of thousands of female marathoners have proven that.

Readers, can anyone think of some more Great Harm Myths?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wait, Who's Irresponsible?

A few days ago, President Bush vetoed a $606 billion health and education spending bill. Included in this bill was spending for heating/energy assistance for the poor, education, veterans' care, health research funding, and job training.

Why would Bush veto such a bill that had garnered bi-partisan support?

To answer that, we may just have to whip out the sound-bite detector:


After vetoing the bill, Bush criticized Congress by saying this:

"Their majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it is acting like a teenager with a new credit card," Bush's speech excerpts read.

So, when Bush said that the Democrat-led Congress is "acting like a teenager with a new credit card" he is implying that Congress is recklessly spending its daddy's hard-earned money on trivialities like, new shoes, video games, and- oh yeah, health research for cancer, education, and heating for the poor. You know, because when Bush's Republican-led Congress spent $1.3 trillion on necessities like Bush's wars and $197 billion in Bush's tax cuts that mainly benefit the rich, it has spent its daddy's hard-earned money responsibly.

In all seriousness, I don't think big government and huge spending bills for domestic programs are the answer to all of our nation's problems. I have direct experience with our slow, often-times inefficient government bureaucracy everyday. But for this President to accuse others of acting fiscally irresponsibly with our tax dollars pretty much defines hypocrisy. And, if I had my druthers about where my tax dollars were going, they would be going towards health research and education. Not military contractors and weapons manufacturers.

Not that my humble opinion by itself matters to our "compassionate" conservative President.

Click here to help the health and education bill get a veto-proof majority.

Oh yeah, and this:

430 days, 12 hours, and 8 minutes.

But who's counting?

[Shoutout to Vieve for the heads-up on this veto!]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Playing the Gender Card in Politcs

To begin this article, I should state my views on Hillary Clinton. One, I don't know yet who I am going to vote for. Two, I won't automatically vote for Clinton just because she's a woman. I will vote for the candidate whose policies best exemplify what I believe in- balancing feminist, gay-rights, environmental, healthcare, and responsible foreign policy values. And right now, Dennis Kucinich fits that bill.

That Hillary Clinton is a woman is something I balance along with the totality of her positions on different issues.

Some people of particular influence in the media, however, are seemingly unable to get over the fact that we finally have a serious female contender for president. Much of the media politely ignores our nation's history of white, male presidents, and instead does one of two things. First, they ignore Clinton's gender and, talk about her "electability," a vague term referencing whether Clinton actually stands a chance in the general election. And instead of wondering how many people will or will not vote for Clinton because she's a woman, they wonder how many people will not vote for Clinton because she's supposedly too polarizing.

Secondly, when the media does discuss her gender, it has often been in the context of whether Hillary Clinton is "playing the gender card," another vague term that insinuates that Clinton is doing something unfair. And further, when pundits discuss this magical gender card, they don't talk about how male candidates have been playing it forever (more on this below).

Clinton has particularly been accused of "playing the gender card" after her speech at the all-women's college she attended, coming the day after a debate where other candidates and "moderators" spent much of the time singling her out, criticizing, and questioning her policies, statements, and history.

Here are Clinton's "incriminating" gender taboo statements:

"In so many ways, this all-women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics."

"When I came to Wellesley, I never in a million years could have imagined I'd one day return as a candidate for the presidency of the United States," she said. She added that the idea of a female president would have been met with derisive laughter in those days.

The first statement: Clinton is pointing out a truth that politics is dominated by men. She is also pointing out that her college (yes, a women's college) prepared her to compete in this male-dominated arena.

The second statement: Acknowledgment that there has never been a female president and, another truth, that such a high-falutin' notion would have been laughed at years ago.

Yet, commentators and other candidates have gone to lengths to describe these statements as unfair. As playing a game, a gender card game. And worse, they characterize these statements as an example that Clinton is acting like a weak little girl.

For instance, Roland Martin compares Clinton to a screaming little girl who needs her daddy to explain to her that "when you hit boys, sometimes they hit back."

As though Clinton, one of only a handful of female senators and the only female presidential candidate, is not already aware of how boys play the game. As though she has not already been playing the game for a long time.

Of Martin and Clinton, the only person I see turning Clinton into a little girl is Martin.

Even some of her opponents are in the "Clinton is playing the gender card" game. After the above-mentioned debate, this supposedly happened:

"Barack Obama mocked Hillary Rodham Clinton Friday for playing the gender card -- accusing her of crying "don't pick on me" after her first major campaign setback. In a TV interview, Obama ridiculed Clinton for invoking her sex as a political liability -- saying he won't use his race as a shield and Clinton isn't fit to be president if she hides behind gender every time she's attacked." [my emphasis]

I could find no source directly quoting Clinton as saying "don't pick on me," although I found many sources playing the "Obama said that Hillary said" non-contextual quote game.

In fact, Obama and Martin could probably produce a more accurate "story" about Clinton if they remembered that she actually said this:

"I don't think they're piling on because I'm a woman. I think they're piling on because I'm winning."

And it's true. It's customary to go after the front-runner in an election. You ignore those who do not stand a real chance. You know, like Kucinich.

See, what I think is happening is that some of the boys are playing their own little gender card game. You know, the one where Clinton is simultaneously a scary feminazi who went to a women's college and a crying girl who can't hack it with the big boys. (See how even her identity "flim-flams"?)

And yes, let's talk identity for a minute. Note how above Obama says he would never dream of using his race as a "shield." I'm sure that pleases some white guys who, you know, hate "identity politics" because they believe that since they are (supposedly) without identity, everyone else is too. And furthermore, they believe that characteristics of one's identity don't play a role in politics or policy. Which explains why we've had so many black, Latino, Asian, and female politicians in this country.

But moving on. I have been particularly unimpressed by pundit Chris Matthews' "analyses" of Clinton, the campaign, and the debates. He just can't get over that Clinton is a woman. Although I'm sure he'd never admit that. But who would?

For instance, Matthews has created a segment where he plays continuous clips of Clinton applauding at various events while he says things like "There she is clapping again" and asks if she is Chinese (because, I wonder, Chinese people clap a lot?? Somebody help me out with that one).

One could just as easily find tapes of male candidates applauding, so it is interesting that Matthews is obsessed with Clinton's applause, which the implication goes, is a submissive, and therefore feminine, phenomenon. Presidents don't applaud, by George, others applaud them! Looks to me like Matthews is playing a gender card of his own here.

But alas, Matthews is also one of the prime accusers that Hillary Clinton is (wrongfully) playing the gender card in her campaign. In fact, he does more than merely accuse her of doing so. He accuses her of pandering to the feminist all-women's college crowd by playing up the "anti-male thing" and that if male voters catch a whiff of the "woman-against-male thing," they won't vote for her.

Because by daring to point out that politics is male-dominated and that her all-women's college prepared her for that is somehow an "anti-male" statement? Because it's anti-male for men and women to be reminded of this truth about our nation's history? Does Matthews see men as so fragile that they view the truth as a "woman-against-male thing"? Are men this fragile? I certainly hope not.

But my final point is this: The implication in many of these statements is that male candidates never play up their maleness, their "macho-ness," if you will, in a campaign.

But then again, since every major presidential candidate thus far in our nation's history has been a man, acting like a manly man, or a rough and tough cowboy perhaps, is not technically playing the gender card. It's just par for the course at the presidential boys' country club. And men's actions are the standard for so many things, that when others do not follow suit, they are characterized as "not playing by the rules."

Digby says it well:

"Every presidential candidate, and most other politicians, since 1980, have been bowing and scraping before this constituency. But for some reason, the hunting trips and codpieces and brush clearing and all that metaphorical crotch measuring isn't considered playing 'the gender card.' It's just considered the normal political pander to an aggrieved minority vote: the poor white males who've been treated terribly by all those powerful women and minorities and gays. What could be wrong with that?"

Indeed. Male politicians effectively play the "average joe" gender card and fool all those average white males into thinking that they really aren't that different from each other after all- once you get past the privileged private-school millionaire lifestyle. Average joe voter mistakenly believes that George W. Bush really would grab a beer with him and watch Nascar (if he weren't tied up with that being-the-president business). They want to believe that VP Dick really would take average joe on his next huntin' trip if average joe only lived a little bit closer to the Cheney family compound.

See, most politicians do play the gender card. Matthews, Obama, Martin, and others are playing their own little gender card by playing into male fears that a feminist is going to take over the white house and ruin everything for average joe. And, if these guys' strategy works, who wins? The same people who have always been winning in this country. And we all know that person isn't average joe. (Nor is it average jane for that matter.)

Just remember that the next time you hear Chris Matthews et. al. "analyze" Clinton. And realize that while Matthews and company do their little touchdown dance, bump chests with each other, and go shake with fear in their no girls allowed treehouse at the very real prospect of a woman president, they are just scared little boys at heart.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Second Annual Freddy Awards Winner!

In light of yesterday's post, I hereby nominate and declare the Watchmen on the Walls the winner of the Second Annual Freddy Awards!

The Freddies are named in "honor" of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church and are awarded to individuals and groups who exemplify the words, beliefs, and/or actions of Phelps and his followers.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now accepting nominations for future awards.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Watchmen on the Walls: How Could They *Possibly* Be Seen as a Hate Group?

Today, I want to write about hate.

Oftentimes, people deny that they hate groups of people even though their words and behavior cannot be construed as anything but hate. Perhaps they just don't know the meaning of hate.

Hate. It's a tricky concept. A big word, I know. Let's look at it a little more closely.

Wikipedia contributors cannot agree on what "hate" means as the "neutrality" of the "hate" entry is disputed. As a related aside, an interesting Wikipedia study would look at how a person's politics go into a definition and usage of a word, as there are many Wikipedia contributor debates about a word's entry.

Nevertheless, the present Wikipedia explanation of "hate" is this:

"'Hatred' is also used to describe feelings of prejudice, bigotry or condemnation (see shunning) against a class of people and members of that class."

Wikipedia's definition of "hate" represents a common usage in the US of the word.

Wikipedia, however, is not too convincing an authority for many (usually when they disagree with the definition). When in doubt, it is usually better to look up a word in a "real" dictionary. (Which dictionary is most authoritative is also subject to its own debate). The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has these definitione of "hate":

[a noun] 1 a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury b: extreme dislike or antipathy : loathing


[a verb] 1 : to feel extreme enmity toward [hates his country's enemies]
2 : to have a strong aversion to : find very distasteful [hated to have to meet strangers] [hate hypocrisy]
intransitive verb
: to express or feel extreme enmity or active hostility

Let's explore "hate" in the context of an anti-gay group that the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group whose rhetoric can lead to violence, but who resists being classified as such: The Watchmen on the Walls

I became interested in learning more about this group after reading an article about this group on Jane Know's blog. After conducting my own independent study, I have decided to present some key phrases of this group and its members. You, dear readers, are free to form your own opinion as to whether this group is hateful or not.

Exhibit A. In Their Own Words.

In the words of one prominent Watchman:

"Homosexuality is 'morally, physically, psychologically and socially wrong, unnatural and harmful,' he said, adding that Watchmen view homosexuals 'like we view alcoholics: unfortunate people trapped in a bad lifestyle.'"

Looking at this statement in the context of our various definitions of hate, readers, does this look and smell like a condemnation, aversion, and dislike of a group of people to you?

Not so fast!

The Watchmen don't really see gay people as a "group" of people. Homosexuality is a behavior. So the Watchmen's hatred is of a behavior, not a group of people. Therefore, it doesn't count. See:

"...[W]e are especially focused against homosexuality, because those who practice this self-destructive vice, and have organized themselves into a political movement, are the chief enemies of the natural family."

Those who engage in homosexual behavior have organized themselves into a created "political movement." And that's what the Watchmen hate. The behavior and the movement. Not the people in it. Even though, of course, the people who comprise the "gay" movement are "enemies."

(Coming soon to a blog near you: The "There Are no Gay People in Iran the World" Myth)

Moving along...

"There is a war that is going on in the world. There is a war that is waging across the entire face of the globe. It’s been waging in the United States for decades, and it’s been waging in Europe for decades. It’s a war between Christians and homosexuals."

A war? But gay people aren't even allowed to serve in the military!

And, technically, if the Watchmen "hate" homosexual behavior (as opposed to homosexuals) shouldn't this alleged "war" be between Christians and "homosexual behavior," and not between Christians and homosexuals?

But I digress. Let's think about this war quote in the context of the Merriam-Webster definition of hate:

"1 : to feel extreme enmity toward [hates his country's enemies]"

Interesting example that happens to be next to the definition of hate. In a war, one usually feels extreme enmity towards one's enemies. Do the Watchmen not feel extreme enmity towards those with whom they are engaged in a war? Perhaps they see themselves as beacons of love in a war-torn world, showing us all how to be compassionate toward our "enemies."

Exhibit B. In the Words of the Founder

Watchman founder Scott Lively, it seems, is highly concerned about the "homosexual takeover" of society. In his own words:

"The takeover of a corporation begins with the placement of an activist (usually in-the-closet) homosexual into a hiring position. Other undisclosed 'gays' are then hired to fill strategic positions in the company. When the ability to control the process is assured, some of the activists come "out-of-the-closet" and form a 'Gay and Lesbian Employees Association.' That group then introduces an amendment to the company anti-discrimination policy to include 'sexual orientation.'"

Hate? Or genuine concern that gay people will infiltrate our nation's corporations and run amock with gay groups and anti-discrimination policies?

Lively continues:

"Once the control group has consolidated power, the organization is plundered for its available resources. These include tangible resources such as money and property, but also intangibles such as advertising and vendor contracts and even community goodwill. Charitable giving, too, is exploited, as gifts and grants are diverted away from previously-favored beneficiaries like the Boy Scouts to "gay"-controlled organizations. While some resources benefit the internal control group (i.e. domestic partnership benefits and employee perks), most are focused strategically outside of the organization to further the "gay" political agenda in the community."

Hate? Or genuine concern about the homosexual-take-over-and-eventual-gay-plundering-of-societal-goods?

Whatever the case, this sort of networking and strategic placement of people of a particular political persuastion is just wrong, and un-American, right? Clearly. Except the Watchmen mission says this:

"We will help people who share our views became the leaders of academia, business, government and media in every nation of the world."

Er, umm.... moving on...

Exhibit C. Taking the Gay Mafia Theory Even Further

But worse than this impending societal takeover, perhaps, is the theory that takes the gay mafia to a whole new level. Watchman Founder Lively's take on the Holocaust and its infamous gay "pink triangle" prisoners:

"The actual number of pink-triangle prisoners, estimated at 5,000-15,000 by Joan Ringelheim of the US Holocaust museum (Rose:40), was a tiny fraction of the total camp population. Of these, an undetermined percentage were heterosexuals falsely labeled as homosexuals.....More significantly, many of the guards and administrators responsible for the infamous concentration camp atrocities were homosexuals themselves, which negates the proposition that homosexuals in general were being persecuted and interned."

You can see that supposedly only a "tiny fraction" of the total concentration camp population was gay, and not even all of them really were gay. And, supposedly many Nazi guards and higher-ups (even Hitler, Lively suggests) were gay. Lively, even says that the "grandfather" of gay rights is a Nazi.

Interesting, I know. [note to Pride Parade planners: We should not mourn the gay victims of the Holocaust, but should celebrate the Holocaust as the birthplace of gay rights!].

Is this Holocaust revision theory of the Watchman founder evidence of hatred of gay people?

To answer that, I would have to know this: Is Lively blaming the Holocaust on gay people?

In his own words, Lively says:

"Yet, while we cannot say that homosexuals caused the Holocaust, we must not ignore their central role in Nazism. To the myth of the 'pink triangle"-the notion that all homosexuals in Nazi Germany were persecuted-we must respond with the reality of the "pink swastika.'"

See, everyone. Lively doesn't claim that gays caused the Holocaust, he claims that gays had a central role in Nazism! See the difference?

(Me neither).

The Verdict.

Just as criminals in real-life trials get to decide the verdict of their own trials, the Watchmen decide the verdict of this mock one:

"I'm really tired of this constant accusation of hate," Watchmen co-founder Scott Lively said. "There are some people who hate homosexuals, but I'm not one of them."

Lively's self-decided verdict begs this question, however: Why would one NOT hate a group of people that is morally, physically, psychologically, and socially wrong, that is taking over our corporations, looting our societal goods, and that had a central role in Nazi-ism?

Lively, it seems, is truly the poster boy for tolerance.

You know, sort of like how the KKK is the poster group for racial tolerance- because, in their own words, the KKK is truly about "bringing a message of hope and deliverance to white Christian America! A Message of Love NOT Hate!" As the KKK says of itself, "We are NOT bigots or haters!"

Well, if they say so, it must be true, right?

Readers, you be the judge.

And finally. Yes, much of this article is sarcastic. I refuse to take any group seriously that says what this group says and yet claims with a straight(!) face that it's not a hate group. As I have said before, many groups that cannot be construed as anything other than hateful are more concerned with being labeled "hateful" than they are with actually being "hateful." The biggest fear of these groups is that label of "hater" or "bigot", because it (rightfully) takes away their credibility.

What emotion but hate would explain why a man would create a book about the supposed homosexual roots of the Holocaust, a theory that is widely discredited among actual historians (including the Director for Holocaust and Genoicide Studies at the University of Minnesota)? Why else would he promote such a theory if he did not want to spread hatred of gay people by making them out to be centrally involved in one of humanity's worst atrocities?

What word, I wonder most effectively captures the Watchmen's sentiments? Surely, it is not "love" is it?

And if they think it is, they would do better to ponder this quote:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." – C. S. Lewis [emphasis added]

They torment us and do so with the approval of their own consciences. Because in their minds, they do not see themselves as "hating."

And that is what is scary about groups such as these.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Marriage Ban Harms Real People, Benefit #1

For those who doubt that marriage confers important legal and financial benefits upon those who enter into it, I thought it would be helpful to create a new Fannie's Room series showing some of the specific benefits we're talking about and how they affect real people.

Anti-gay advocates talk about "homosexuals," the "homosexual agenda," and (my personal fave) "homosexualists" as though gay people are a group of non-human beings who do not have many of the same Very Important concerns in life that they do. In many of their heads, we are a nonmonogamous, STD-infected, drug- and alcohol-addicted bunch of pedophiles who want to re-definine marriage to fit this stereotyped "depraved" lifestyle.

They refuse to see us as the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, neighbors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, teachers, etc that we, like they, are. Like a self-absorved bride planning her wedding, they think that their families are The Most Important Families To Exist in The History of the World. That their opposite-sex spouses are more loved than our same-sex ones are because they have different genitals. That their babies are more precious, more special, and more deserving of married parents than ours because (some of them) had their babies the old-fashioned way. (On purpose or accident. Not that it matters.) That their elderly are more deserving of spousal social security benefits than are ours, because they raised babies together as man and wife. (Well some of them did. Not that it matters).

See, anti-gay advocates don't really get how the marriage ban harms our families. And yes, our families are families too. It harms our families in a real, tangible way- unlike the abstract harm to them that will supposedly, and questionably, spring forth once marriage is "redefined."

So, let's throw theory in the trash can and talk about real life, and what's really happening right now.

As an attorney who helps same-sex couples navigate and create legal protections for their marriages and families, I see how much easier estate planning is for legally married couples than it is for same-sex couples. Just because a state recognizes a marriage, a couple automatically receives benefits, protections, and a status that non-legally married couples have to create on their own (with the help of a paid attorney). And even then, it is legally impossible to create every benefit and privilege that married couples receive.

[Side rant: Same-sex couples should receive a tax break for the benefits they do not receive but pay for others to receive. And, they should receive a tax deduction for having to pay an attorney to help them create legal protections for their families that married couples automatically receive.]

Because what it comes down to is this: Gay people exist. Gay people are always going to exist. And many gay people are always going to form partnerships and, consequently, families.

As long as the government is in the business of doling out benefits to some kinds of two-person partnerships and denying them to others, married same-sex couples will have to continue to perform legal acrobatics just to receive some of the same benefits that opposite-sex couples can receive.

First topic on my (gay) agenda is: Advance Directives.

(As a side note, nothing on my blog consists of legal advice or establishes an attorney-client relationship. Yeah yeah yeah, most of you know this. But some people may not, so I have to say it).

I know. How boring do Advance Directives sound? But keep reading, because they are important for everyone. Especially for same-sex couples and individuals.

In general, Advance Directive are written statements you make and sign about how you want your medical decisions to be made in the future. Particularly, how oyu want your decisions made if and when you are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself.

One of the most important Advance Directives you can make is a health care power of attorney (POA). In a health care POA you designate someone to make health care decisions for you in case you aren't able to make them for yourself (like if you are in a coma, if you come down with some sort of mental disability as you age, or if you have some other condition). Married people generally designate their spouse. Same-sex persons in long-term relationships generally designate their partner.

Many people do not have Advance Directives. Nor do many people even know what these are. I believe it is the responsibility of the legal profession to educate people about these important documents and help people prepare them.

Okay, so how does this all relate to gay people?

Well, if you have not prepared a health care POA and you fall ill and are unable to make your own health care decisions, state law (in my state) nominates a health care "surrogate" to make these decisions for you.

Who will the surrogate be?

In Illinois, a health care surrogate will be one of the following persons (in order of priority): guardian of the person, spouse, any adult child(ren), either parent, any adult brother or sister, any adult grandchild(ren), a close friend, or guardian of the estate.

You can see how if you are a gay person, the person appointed to make your important health care decisions may not be who you want it to be. You can see how your same-sex partner isn't even on the list. You can see how your relationship is denied because the closest category your same-sex partner fits into is "close friend."

Everyone, I hope, can see how this scenario is problematic.

You can see how it is particularly problematic for gay people who may not be accepted by their families, yet because of that blood relation a family member is given precedence to automatically make decisions over a same-sex partner.

Most importantly, everyone can see how if you are a legal spouse, you are automatically your spouse's surrogate. Yet if you are a same-sex partner you have to make sure you (a) know about this law in the first place, (b) hire and pay for an attorney to tell you about this law and prepare a POA for you, or (c) prepare a POA on your own. All so you can circumvent the surrogacy law if you want your partner to make your health care decisions if you are unable to make them for yourself.

Gay people are human beings. We too sometimes get sick. And when we do, we want our lives to be honored enough so that the person closest to us in the world- the person who best knows our wishes- to make important decisions for us.

And I'm still not clear (a) why or how that's a bad thing, (b) why that is selfish, and (c) how that will corrupt the category of all things "family."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Why Do Some Choose To Be Left-Handed?

Normal people are right-handed. Right-handed people are normal because most people in the world are right-handed. Accordingly, from scissors to stick-shifts, the world is made for right-handed people.

The question remains, however: If right-handedness is normal and the world is built for righties, why do some people choose to do things left-handed?

Many so-called "southpaws" or "lefties" (I prefer the term left-handedists) claim they were "just born that way." That it just felt "natural" or "right" (as if!) to hold that Crayola in the sinful left hand. And that, yes, they could try to do things right-handed but it would be difficult and painful.

Further, they think that engineers and designers should take their "needs" and their unnatural hand preference into account when designing worldly objects. As though objects should also be made for "lefties" or, worse, for people of either hand preference.

As right-handedness is the normal state of humanity, we need to work tirelessly to ensure that our cars, tools, and appliances continue to fit the needs of only right-handed people. If we go around building things for left-handed people, children will grow up thinking it is okay to choose to be left-handed. You see, left-handedism is really a game of identity politics whose advocates are trying to impose their lifestyle choice on everyone else. (And dare I mention that professional sports is no help here- just look at the way Major League Baseball recruits and celebrates "lefty" pitchers. What kind of message is that sending to our young, impressionable children?)

I mean, the simple fact is, everyone- even those who claim to have been "born" left-handed- can use the right hand if they try. Just look at "lefties" who break their preferred arm. The right arm picks up the slack. Sure, it's clumsly at first. It feels weird. But years of practice, perhaps with physical and occupational therapists, can help people overcome their hand preference and live a normal, fulfilling life as an ex-lefty.

I encourage all "lefties" to do so, in fact.

At this point you may be thinking, "But Fannie, what about the left-handed gene?" Well, according to the American Right-Handed Family Association, the idea that there's a gene that makes people "left-handed" just isn't true. I don't have scientific data supporting that but make no mistake, to say otherwise is just an example of media ballyhooed "lefty" identity politics gone too far. Besides, if there were a left-handed gene, we wouldn't see ex-"lefties."

Now, what is particularly confusing are those who claim to be "ambidextrous," as though hand-dominance exists along some sort of spectrum! Some of these misguided souls choose to do some things with their right hand and some things with their left hand. Clearly, such confused and abnormal "ambidextrous" succumb to temptation at their pleasure yet continue to do some things, conveniently, right-handed when it's easier (like when using a can-opener). Frankly, they want the best of both worlds, and it's greedy.

When are we going to demand an end to unnatural hand choice and left-handed identity politics? When are we going to pass laws and consitutional amendments clearly defining hand choice? I propose this definition as a start: "Hand dominance can only exist between one person and one hand only, the right one."

And more importantly, why do people even choose to do some things left-handed in the first place if it means they will have to live a more difficult life?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Post About "Pudding"

Of all the puddings that exist, I most prefer eating vanilla pudding.

I really dislike tapioca pudding.

At no point in my life did I say "Hmmm. Today I am going to choose to like vanilla pudding and I'm going to choose to not like tapioca pudding." I did not and cannot choose my pudding preference. No one in my life, however, has questioned my pudding preference or conducted a study on whether such preference is due to nurture or nature.

Now, while I cannot choose which pudding I most prefer, I can choose to eat many types of pudding. While I will very much enjoy vanilla pudding (and chocolate, and butterscotch, to be fair), the tapioca pudding and its associated gelatin balls within would make me gag. If given the option, I will choose to eat vanilla over tapioca every single time. No one in my life, however, has forced me to eat tapioca pudding or has even suggested that I eat pudding that doesn't taste good to me.

If tapioca were the only pudding option available, in fact, I would forego dessert entirely. However, I have found that tapioca is rarely the only pudding option on the buffet table. In fact, if tapioca, or any single type of pudding, were the only option it would make for one boring dessert bar. And, such a limited dessert bar would not possibly be expected to please all lovers of pudding.

Furthermore, most people understand that my love of vanilla pudding and consumption of it will not halt the making of any other type of pudding or will interfere with someone else's enjoyment of their favorite pudding. Some puddings are just classics and will stay around no matter how popular other puddings get. (And relatedly, no one has ever implied that my love of vanilla pudding has harmed, in some mysterious way, the production of tapioca pudding mini Snack-Packs.)

In sum, we all understand that calling vanilla pudding "pudding" in no way diminishes the category of all things "pudding."

Pudding is pudding after all. Even if it comes in a flavor you don't like. Call it pudding or call it "pudding." It's still the same thing.

Oh yes. I truly love my vanilla pudding.

[Coming soon to a blog near you: People Who Choose To Do Things Left-Handed]

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My Favorite Halloween-ish Movies

I know, I'm prone to forgetting holidays, or to not realizing it's a holiday until the very day of the holiday. Which is why, inevitably, I end up writing some sort of holiday post after the fact.


That being said, I would like to post this year's Halloween article. This past Halloween, I stayed home from work helping someone recover from surgery. We watched movies all day. And, while many scary movies were on all day, we watched not a single scary movie.

Which is fine. I'm easily scared. And I'm the type of person who will think about a scary movie in the middle of the night while walking to the bathroom in the dark and get scared and run back to bed where it's safe.

Anyway.... I used to sort of like scary movies. Here are some of my favorites. Not all of them are scary. But they are Halloween-ish:

5. Beetlejuice

Looking back, I can see that what appealed to me about Beetlejuice is that it's sort of a movie about outsiders. Here, we have a couple who died in a car accident and find themselves in an in-between state of life and death. They are trapped in their home and unable to interact with (most) living people. To try to prevent yuppies from moving into their house, the couple amsuingly haunt the house to no avail.

They aren't the only outcasts in this movie, however.

When Lydia (Winona Ryder) declared, "The living ignore the strange and unusual. I myself am strange and unusual," I knew I found a character I could relate to. Many teenagers and awkward adolescents, I suspect, could relate.

Beetlejuice is a comedic, creative take on death, living people, and the afterlife.

4. Misery

The scariest stories, to me, are the ones that could possibly happen in real life.

In Misery you have a famous author trapped and tortured by an obsessive fan. I have always wondered if Misery was some sort of projection of one of Stephen King's (who wrote Misery) fear related to being a famous author.

Growing up, I probably read most of Stephen King's novels. I always found the one's with realistic plots to be his scariest works. For instance, in Carrie we have a high school girl ridiculed by her classmates who gets the ultimate, scary revenge. In Cujo, we have a woman and child trapped in a car because a rabid dog is outside ready to attack them. In Gerald's Game, we have a woman in a cabin handcuffed to a bed when her boyfriend has a heart attack and dies. leaving her chained to the bedpost indefinitely.


Like many of King's books, Misery was made into a movie that stayed pretty close to the book. Kathy Bates played a remarkable crazy woman and I'm still a little bit scared of her when I see her in other movies.

3. Nightmare on Elm Street series.

I was never into the gory movies, as I found them more gross than scary. However, the premise of the Elm St. series was a bit more thought out than your typical slasher film:

When you fall asleep, the villain Freddy Krueger is able to enter your dreams and kill you. And, if he kills you in your dreams, you die in real life. What is scary, to me, is the helplessness. A person has to sleep. And, you can't really control your need to sleep. Nor can you really control what your dreams. Yet, by sleeping and dreaming, one is vulnerable to this evil villain guy who'll kill you.

And then, of course, there's his claw-thingy.

2. Ghost.

This is a fave because when I watched this movie as a teenager, I think I had simultaneous crushes on Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.

The justice involved in the movie is still satisfying everytime I happen to catch this flick on tv. You want, in real life, for murdered people to somehow be able to avenge their deaths and punish their killer.

Ghost isn't really a scary movie. The scariest part to me is at the end when the evil spirit things whisk the dead bad guy away and presumably take him to a bad, evil place.

1. Poltergeist.

This may be the scariest movie to me of all time. Probably because I was allowed to watch it when I was a small child. What small child wouldn't be scared of this movie where a family moves into a house that was built over a graveyard and they are subsequently haunted by creepy little invisible ghosts that re-arrange furniture, bring clown dolls to life, and suck small blonde girls into television sets.

Seriously, the tv thing was really scary. I didn't watch television for a long time after watching Poltergeist. Okay, I didn't watch tv for a couple of days. But whenever I flipped onto a channel showing static, I would immediately change the channel lest some evil poltergeist suck me into the tv.

So, there you have it. I know we are living in a post-Scream, post-The Ring, and Post-Saw scary movie era and I have listed relatively old movies. But I don't watch new scary movies. For better or worse.