Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin?

OMG, McCain picked a woman as his running mate, I am like so totally going to vote for him now!!


Seriously, Republicans. Could you give women just a little more credit?


And note to Obama supporters: Don't even think about making gendered attacks on this woman. It's wrong. And there is no better way to turn women over to the Republican ticket than that.

Happy Friday!

1. The juxtaposition of these two billboards will surely make you laugh.


2. So will this.

If you don't get it and/or you think the post is calling the kid ugly, the humor comes from the fact that, as one commenter says:

"[T]he kid who said '...there's no way I came from an ape.' *LOOKS* like an ape. The knuckle-forward posture, the hunched-in head, the heavy brows... He looks like a gorilla.

This is called irony."



And it's pretty funny. I don't understand why people are so offended by or scared of the idea that we share common ancestors with monkeys when we so clearly look like monkeys. I mean, what's wrong with monkeys, anyway? I'd wager that monkeys are better people than most people are.


3. In honor of the beginning of a new year of college and law school, I am following in the footsteps of my friend Grace by reminding any new law students or those considering law school of my Law School Tutorial Series (Hint: Law school will Pwn you for the next 3 years! Suckas!!!111!!)


4. Perhaps you've heard of the California security guard who ejected a woman from a federal building for wearing a t-shirt that said "lesbian.com"? The power-trippy bigot actually told the woman this whopper:

"[H]e had jurisdiction over her clothing under the Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property."


This guy's made-up legal babble is so hilarious that I can't even muster up anger at such an obvious display of bigotry, hatred, and intolerance. As a security guard his sole job was to help keep a building safe. But instead he pulls a Bobby Brady, lets his position go to his head, and becomes overzealous moral hall monitor.

Most importantly, as your blogmistress who has jurisdiction over your clothing under the Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct in Fannie's Room, I am hereby implementing a new blog rule: All ye who enter must remove their tops.

That's right. Dump 'em.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

John McCain: Weapon of Mass Projection

John McCain's recent campaign strategy of painting Barack Obama as an elitist "celebrity" is an interesting campaign strategy. See, it's interesting because this undesirable trait McCain ascribes to Obama is something that so clearly applies to McCain himself. Imbuing others with undesirable traits that you yourself possess is called projection. It's a psychological defense mechanism. But it's funny, you see, because McCain is using it offensively as a, what I like to call, Weapon of Mass Projection.

It would have been nice if his campaign rose above dirty personal attacks, but McCain has shown and his team have shown themselves unwilling to do so. When the best you have against your opponent is that he's "like" Paris Hilton, you're sort of at the bottom of the barrel. And, if I were part of the Obama campaign team, I would damn well be pointing out the inconvenient fact that McCain is quite the elite himself.

Why?


1. Yes, this is shallow. But if the rightwingers are going to play on the Barack Hussein Obama bit, let's take a look at McCain's name. John Sidney McCain III. I mean seriously. It's my opinion that those who insist on numbering their progeny as though their sons are continuing a Very Important Family Legacy just reeks of good old fashioned elitism.


2. Notoriously, McCain mocked Obama's celeb-status in a recent commercial comparing Obama to Paris Hilton. We get it, it's elitist and bad to be a celebrity who is famous solely for being a rich famous person. Yet, it is preposterous for McCain to imply that Obama, a presidential contender who is one of the most visible persons in national news precisely because he's a presidential contender, is famous solely for being a rich famous person. Obama is a national politician whose only similarity to Hilton is fame.

In fact, considering that the uber-rich Hiltons actually donated to McCain's campaign, what the heck does that say about John Sidney McCain III? I think the man is confused, quite frankly, over the definition of an "elite." An elite, you see, is not just someone with whom you disagree. Generally, elite means something along the lines of "a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence." If John Sidney McCain III is not elite I am sure we can count on him to skip his fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton put on by conservative Hollywood elites. Or, maybe in McCain's new world, elite doesn't mean what we all think it means.


3. The Obamas are wealthy. What politician isn't, actually? But the McCains are much wealthier. While Wikipedia lists Obama's net worth at $1.3 million, it lists McCain's at $40.4 million. It is utterly ridiculous that McCain is playing the Obama-is-an-Elitist card in light of this ginormous disparity.

And yet, McCain perpetuates out-of-touch-with-reality statements like this line about Obama:

"Celebrities don't have to worry about family budgets. But we sure do."


Wait a minute.... "we"?! Interesting use of the word "we," John. I'm sure John Sidney McCain III and I have bunches in common when it comes to worrying about bills. But seriously, almost one thousand median-income families could be supported by McCain's net worth and he has the audacity to play the Unlike Obama the Elitist I'm Just a Common Folk Like You card? Wake up people. John McCain does not have the same worries about family budgets as you or I.

As Ed Brayton puts it:

"Well yes, John McCain has to worry about his family budget. That budget, by the way, includes $273,000 a year for 'household help.' That's $50,000 more every year just for servants, maids and gardeners than the median value of a family house in this country. But Obama, son of a single mother who sometimes went on welfare who had to work his way through college, he's the elitist."


In fact, while McCain's net worth is bolstered by that of his wife's, heiress Cindy (who has an estimated worth of $100 million), "the bulk of Obama's wealth has come only in the past few years, with the huge success of his second book, The Audacity of Hope. Oh, I get it. An elite is someone who actually earns his wealth rather than inheriting it or marrying into it. Thanks for the clarification, Mr. McCain.


4. McCain lives a lifestyle that is out of touch with the reality of the average American's life. For instance, in addition to his "household help," he lives such a privileged life that he can't even keep track of how many houses he owns. As one commentator at the Democratic National Convention said of McCain "Those who own 7 houses shouldn't thrown stones." And further, in his interview with Rick Warren, McCain defined the threshold for being "rich" as $5 million. Someone who's worth $4 million, I suppose, is not rich. So now I think I get it. An elite is someone worth less than you, who owns less houses than you, and who earns his wealth.

Riiiiiight.


To those who know the facts, characterizing Obama as an elite and McCain as EveryMan is a tough sell. See, my issue is not with the fact that McCain is an elite. It's with the fact that McCain is far more of an elite than Obama, yet is attacking his opponent for something that he himself is. To me, this reeks of a fundamental lack of self-awareness or just outright deception.

But most importantly, this isn't even a conversation we should be having. All politicians are elite, by virtue of their wealth and status. That is a given. I think it's a huge problem that one has to be wealthy to be a successful politician, but let's face it, it's a given. Shouldn't we be focusing on real issues our nation is facing and how these "elites" are or are not going to make our nation better? Or, even better, shouldn't we start having conversations about why only the wealthy are "qualified" to run our nation?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Review: Federalist Society Online Debate About Marriage

The libertarian-leaning Federalist Society recently hosted an interesting debate on same-sex marriage as part of its Online Debate Series. Participants included law professors Dale Carpenter, Robert Nagel, Andy Koppelman, and Amy Wax. I encourage interested parties to read through the postings for themselves. If you don't feel like wading through all the posts, what follows is what I believe to be some of the more interesting parts of the debate (all quotes from the debate).

The real fun begins when Professor Amy Wax actually uses the phrase "gay agenda," as though gay marriage advocates are one monolithic like-minded group, in her argument. Hold on to your hats and glasses, folks, whenever you hear that phrase you can bet it's going to be all downhill after that. For instance, she states:

"First, whether we like it or not, a big part of the gay agenda for decades has been to repudiate what are regarded as overly restrictive expectations of monogamy and sexual fidelity....Even more unfortunately, what has been happening in inner city and low income communities illustrates this all too starkly: the rise of multi-partner relationships as a way of life has been a major force in the decline of marriage. So we should be wary of extending marriage to a community with influential people who believe that sexual monogamy isn't that important, that sexually unfaithful partnerships are not such a big deal."


In other words, gay people aren't monogamous. If we let this group of non-monogamous people marry, they will influence heterosexuals to be non-monogamous and this will de-stabilize marriage. She is quickly taken to task for this argument, but I just want to jump in and say seriously? Does this woman know gay people? Does she actually know that lesbians are like the most monogamous people on the planet and are actually really boring once they are in relationships!?

Also of note is the complete non sequitur about how what's been happening in "inner city and low income communities" illustrates "this" very well. Wow, policy wonks take note: The crisis in the inner cities will definitely be exacerbated by the "fact" that gay people are not monogamous. What a fun variation on the Gay Marriage Will Exacerbate Black Fatherlessness argument. Yet, those of us who are operating in the real world know that when it comes to the Inner City Crisis (tm), studies actually show that it has nothing at all to do with gay people or gay marriage. Rather, studies show that "Male unemployment and low wages are primary reasons why parents do not marry, why 2-parent families break up, and why fathers fail to remain involved with their children."

Ooooh, and want to hear an interesting paternalistic/authoritarian double-standard? When black people in urban areas are promiscuous, social conservatives tell them to get married. When gay men are promiscuous, conservatives tell them they cannot get married because they are too promiscuous. What confused arguments. I suppose for magical reasons, marriage will promote monogamy for black people but not for gay men.

Continuing on, Dale Carpenter counters Wax:

"Professor Wax’s first concern is that gay couples resist sexual monogamy and that allowing them to marry might entice heterosexuals to follow their libertine ways. The force of this concern is blunted at the outset by the fact that two-thirds of legally recognized same-sex couples are lesbians, who are famously monogamous. The contagious-promiscuity argument is really about *guy* marriage, not gay marriage."


Thank you, Mr. Carpenter, for remembering that lesbians are also involved in this debate. So many of those opposed to same-sex marriage base their opposition on the alleged behaviors of gay men as though non-monogamous gay men are the only gay people who matter. If this non-monogamy argument is the only reason some are opposed to same-sex marriage, then there is absolutely no reason why monogamous gays and lesbians should not be allowed to marry. He continues,

"More importantly, there’s no reason to believe that heterosexual couples model their sexual lives on gay men....Consider the numerical obstacle to such influence. Male couples will be about 1% of all marriages. Some will commit to monogamy; others will be discreet about their non-monogamy. So we’re really talking about much less than 1% of marriages. That paltry number will undermine heterosexual morals? Undermine them more than our super-monogamous lesbian role models will reinforce them?"


I think those opposed to gay marriage think gay men are much more powerful and influential than they actually are. I know the gays are pretty trendy, but I doubt they'll start a ginormous swinger revolution. Give me a break.

Amy Wax responds, mostly by re-stating her original argument: Yes-huh, gay philanderers will too influence society. It's all a slippery slope my friends:

"If some 'tolerate' philandering, and that makes philandering more prevalent and more acceptable (which it does) and that leads to more philandering, and that puts stress on relationships or creates more instability in relationships, we have a problem. If philandering breaks up families and produces extra-marital children that the rest of us end up helping support, that is what I call an impact. Indeed, the havoc that lack of sexual restraint wreaks is VERY MUCH something that affects all of us every single day."


I think she missed the part of Carpenter's argument where he stated that less than 1% of all married couples would be non-monogamous if gay couples were allowed to marry. I mean, I guarantee that currently AT LEAST 1% of current heterosexual married couples are non-monogamous. (See how capitalizing words in your sentences bolsters your argument?). Ever heard of swingers clubs? See, what I can't stand is how so many of those opposed to gay marriage hold gay people to much higher standards of behavior than they hold heterosexual couples to. It's a fact that some hetero married couples are non-monogamous right now, but somehow it will be the non-monogamy of a small group of gay men that will, for special lucky reasons, wreak social "havoc"? I think not.

But alas, Wax continues her completely out-of-touch with reality theories:

"[I]f lots of homosexuals decide that monogamy is really not that important -- not an essential part of marriage, which is really just about 'rights' and getting 'equal recognition' -- that is not just 'their business.'"


But that's the thing, Professor Wax. "Lots" of "homosexuals" are not deciding that monogamy is "not that important." Educate yourself before making such ignorant statements. Please.

And why are we all talking about gaymansex so much anyway?

Carpenter wonders too:

"But if you knew nothing about the gay-marriage debate except what you read in this exchange, you’d get the impression it’s all about gay male sex. This is odd but, alas, not uncommon in discussions about including homosexuals in the laws and institutions of this country. Forget lesbians, forget children, forget committed and tradition-minded gay-male couples who are the most likely even to want to marry – all that matters is that a small number of married gay male couples may have too much sex with too many people."


How accurate. In my experience, most discussions surrounding this issue invariably degenerate into arguments surrounding gay male promiscuity, non-monogamy, HIV/AIDS, and that lovely outdated pseudo-medical term "gay bowel disease." Among the general population and especially anti-gays, there remains a peculiar fascination, repulsion, and "ick" factor surrounding gay male sexuality. Yet, Carpenter continues, with this obsessive focus on the sexual behavior of some gay men, gay families are being harmed by their lack of inclusion in the legal system:

"Meanwhile, what is the traditionalist response to the decades-long growth of gay families, including families with children? So far, it’s been malign neglect. I really suspect that many traditionalists do not give much thought at all to the needs of gay families. If they think about these things at all, they wish it would simply go away. But it is not going away."


So, while "concerned" folks like Peter LaBarbera, the Concerned Women For America, Focus on the Family, and others obsessively focus on gay male sexuality, they ignore the fact that millions of families are left out of the legal system. They snap their pictures of leather fairs and men kissing on the streets and present it to their members, as though these non-representative snapshots are representative behavior of all gay people. As though no gay people are just average people like them trying to make in the world. These "family values" groups utterly ignore the real, everyday families that are harmed by their bigotry and obsession with gay male sexuality. It's time to stop focusing on the anus, folks, and start actually focusing on families.


To end, I'd like to quote Andy Koppelman. I like much of what Professor Koppelman had to say. He was clear-headed, well-spoken, and refused to roll down many of Wax's slippery slopes. He jumped in the debate to question whether there is some moral difference between gay relationships and heterosexual ones. Of those who argue that gay relationships are not intrinsically valuable, he said:

"...[T]here is a fundamental difficulty in the claim that there is too much love in the world, and that we therefore must weed out love of the wrong kind."


I find that statement to be particularly convincing as, essentially, those who oppose homosexuality are saying that love, an undoubtedly positive emotion, is somehow wrong, bad, or evil. Is there so much love in the world that there isn't room for us, as a society, to sanction more of it?

I think not.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Journalist" Ignorant of Standard Journalism Procedure?

When a "news source" includes an article entitled "Fat Lesbians on Crack," that's a pretty good initial clue that you probably aren't going to find accurate, legit, or honest information within the article. Thus, there are two, and only two things worth noting about an article with that very headline written by conservative commentator (and Professor at University of North Carolina-Wilmington) Mike S. Adams, who seems to be pining for some sort of Ann-Coulter-Asinine-for-Attention Award.

One, the actual topic of his article has nothing to do with "fat lesbians on crack." The good professor briefly mentions obesity and then crack cocaine, but the real topic is a rant about how gay people are so intolerant for not tolerating intolerance of themselves in a health care setting. Perhaps Adams thinks he is being clever or funny. And hey, maybe this sort of schoolyard "humor" does pass for "wit" among the anti-gay crowd. In my opinion, though, the professor is acting more like a bratty child who calls people names on the internets just because he can get away with it. Yes, technically, writers can use whatever headlines they want on their articles. But it's generally accepted in the world of journalism that a headline indicates the nature of the article below it. That's not a law, of course. So maybe Adams breaks with standard practice just because he can. Heck, maybe this "creative" man is pioneering a new conservative avant-garde movement or something.

That brings me to point two about his "article." When it comes to journalism and ethics, OneNewsNow has a tendency to make up its own rules. The purpose of this "news source" is not to inform, but to sensationalize and distort truth in order to promote its Christianist anti-gay agenda. OneNewsNow is sort of a hellmouth of rightwing propaganda whose very "journalists" automatically discredit themselves solely by virtue of the fact that they post there. What credible news source would condone the use of such an utterly irrelevant headline?

G-A-Y wonders if the headline "is intentionally over-the-top in hopes that it'll prove provocative." Perhaps. It's clear that after reading the provocative headline and being drawn into the story you see that it is essentially more of the same ol' Christian Persecution Complex schtick we can expect from this crowd. Maybe they believe that if they can draw enough people in, more will start agreeing with their old-hat arguments. Like, if we hear the "gays are going to get us" scare-argument a couple more times, we just might start believing it! A lie told often enough, after all, becomes truth, right?

Or, perhaps this is all a bit more benign. Maybe OneNewsNow and Mike S. Adams just don't know that headlines are typically used to indicate the content of the related article. Honestly, I don't know which is worse. An intentionally dishonest writer or a bleeting, ignorant man who has a platform.

Monday, August 25, 2008

More Hollander Frivolity, An Addendum

My article about Roy Den Hollander's lawsuit deserves an addendum since I just took a look at his class action civil rights frivolous complaint against Columbia (and others) for gender discrimination. [PDF] (All quotes from complaint). Within this complaint you'll find a lot of old hat MRA-type of reasoning within it. You know, men are discriminated against because they are circumcised yadda yadda yawn.

But, there is one rather creative item of note:

Hollander claims that the defendants have violated the 1st Amendment by "aiding the establishment of the religion Feminism" at Columbia University. How is feminism a "religion"? In a nutshell, because feminists hold strong convictions. When men hold strong convictions I suppose they're just being smart objective manly men. But, you see, when women hold strong convictions they're being womanly and subjective and religious. That's why the foremothers of feminism are really a "pantheon of idols such as Mary Wollstonecraft," feminism is complicit in "historical revisionism," it has "de facto disciples and apostles," and more.

That Columbia has "established" such a "religion" isn't fair, you see, because Columbia does not "balance the Feminist doctrine and dogma with a masculine curriculum or program."

Now, this guy's claims are wacky. It's a small tragedy that Columbia and an overtaxed legal system must devote resources to this man's personal vendetta that has arisen from his failed personal relationship with a woman. But if certain internet forums and shrill male pundits are any indication, there are small legions of "oppressed" men who feel very similar to Hollander. It's tough being a triple-y "oppressed" straight white male these days, dontcha know, having to endure the inhumanity of other people taking courses like African-American Studies, Queer Studies, Latino Studies, Asian-American Studies, and Women's Studies. I mean, it's not like straight white guys get to take "special" courses like Caucasian Studies, Men's Studies, or Heterosexual Studies, right?

Or do they?

See, my previous article about Hollander's case was entitled "But, Isn't Every Other Course a Men's Studies Course?" That title sort of gets to the heart of what women's studies is about. The field of women's studies exists precisely because virtually every. other. field. of. study. is or has been male-centric. So, if feminism is a religion because it dares to, for instance, challenge the Dead White Guy Canon of literature, then a course which perpetuates the idea that our most important books were written by dead white men is also a religion. Except, instead of Mary Wollstonecraft, the "pantheon of idols" began eons ago with Homer.

This phenomenon is what I like to call The Case of the Invisible Ideology. Feminist scholarship is not viewed as objective in the same way that other (male-dominated or male-centric) fields of study precisely because feminism notes that other fields are, in fact, dominated by male ideology. Scholar Rita Gross writes,

"Feminist scholarship is often thought to be 'biased' because it self-consciously and deliberately includes information about women, whereas conventional androcentric scholarship is not similarly regarded as biased because it includes more information about men." (in Feminism & Religion, 15)


Here's a little thought experiment. Let's say we're learning about the beginnings of our nation. One history book teaches us about the Founding Fathers and their political contributions. Another book teaches us about how the Founding Fathers excluded women from political roles in this new nation. Which of these accounts is "objective"? Is the second one somehow less objective because it deliberately includes information about women and their political oppression? No. Of course not. The first account is clearly andro-centric. It focuses on men without mentioning why women are absent. The second account, although some would call it "feminist," is actually more gender-balanced. It acknowledges that men made political contributions but it also acknowledges and explores why women were excluded from also doing so.

Yet, men like Hollander inaccurately believe that the first account is the "objective" gender-neutral account and any variation is "biased" and some sort of "historical revision." And that's why andro-centrism is an invisible ideology. We as a nation are so steeped in andro-centric perspectives that most people fail to see andro-centrism as anything other than neutral objectivity.

As Rita Gross writes, "The male norm and the human norm are collapsed and seen as identical.... Femaleness is is viewed as an exception to the norm" (18). Because the male norm has been collapsed into the human norm, the anti-feminist sees his point of view as "objective" and as encompassing the "human" view. Feminism critiques the idea that "placing one gender in the center and the other on the periphery" is in any way "objective" (20). It's not a religion, it's tool that allows us to step outside of our andro-centric society and critique it. That, I suppose, is a pretty large threat to some men who want one gender to remain at the center of everything.

For, throughout his complaint, Hollander whines that there is not a comparable "men's studies" program at Columbia. Generally, a discipline called "Men's Studies" has existed for some time and is offered at other universities. Humorously, what Hollander refers to as "men's studies" in his complaint, which he undoubtedly envisions as some sort of feminist-bashing tirade, bears little resemblance to the actual field of Men's Studies which is largely sympathetic to feminist studies and discusses topics like "the anxiety that some men in developed countries face as a result of their loss of privilege and clear gender roles in light of the feminist movement."

So yeah, Hollander. Go for it. Bring Men's Studies to Columbia. I eagerly await the enlightenment of future generations of Columbia grads and only wish you could have been so enlightened yourself.

To end, it's just really too bad that this man, like so many other defensive MRAs, take feminism personally. What these guys should realize is that if you're not part of the problem, then feminism isn't talking about you. It is by taking everything so personally that you become part of the problem.


*Argumentum Ad Nazium Watch*

If the proceeding pages of Hollander's complaint didn't automatically discredit this guy for you, the argumentum ad Nazium definitely will:

"The defendants' advocacy and furthering of Feminism and training of Feminists derogates males while propagandizing the superiority of females with a harm similar, although not as egregious, as the Nazification of universities in Germany during the 1930s when education demonized the Jews while demanding genuflection to an Aryan throne."


"Although not as egregious," eh? Good thing he added that little qualifier. For a minute I thought we were dealing with someone who is clearly unhinged from reality.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Stuff Lesbians Like!

In other happy fun friday news, my latest Stuff Lesbians Like is up at the fabulous Grace the Spot.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Yee-haw!

A Happy Friday

Hello readers, how about some good news for a friday?

During the past week, news broke that Rachel Maddow is getting her own show in the male-dominated field of political punditry and Ellen has legally married her girlfriend.

As fans of both of these women, this news makes me happy. In my opinion, Maddow is one of the most intelligent and well-spoken women persons on television. As the Washington Post writes, she "isn't a glossy matinee idol or a smooth-talking partisan hack but a PhD Rhodes scholar lesbian policy wonk who started as a prison AIDS activist." Swoon. But don't go washing your hair just yet ladies and gents, she has a long-term partner whom she lives with.

Speaking of which, kudos to Ellen and Portia for taking advantage of California's legalization of marriage equality. I pretty much think Ellen is the funniest person on the planet. And, like Rachel Maddow, she is having a remarkable career in spite of not meeting the standards of femininity usually required for women in the media.


In other happy news, bisexual celeb Tila Tequila thinks Ellen and Portia's marriage is "awesome." I know you were wondering what Ms. Tequila thought about it all.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

But, Isn't Every Other Course a Men's Studies Course?

Self-styled "anti-feminist" Roy Den Hollander is suing Columbia University for discriminating against men. (All quotes from the NY Times article). Is Columbia paying male employees less than female employees? No. Well, are male employees being harassed? Umm, no.

The "discrimination"? Columbia has the audacity to offer Women's Studies courses.

Hollander's reasoning as to why this constitutes discrimination:

"'[Women's Studies is] a bastion of bigotry against men [and it] demonizes men and exalts women in order to justify discrimination against men based on collective guilt.' Such academic programs at Columbia and at universities nationwide, he said, are 'spreading prejudice and fostering animosity and distrust toward men with the result of the wholesale violation of men’s rights due to ignorance, falsehoods and malice.'"


Oh, I get it. Women and men talking about how some men have oppressed women throughout history is oppressive to men. Okay then.

Now, and this is entirely relevant, Hollander admits that much of his bitterness with respect to feminism stems from his "bitter divorce" from a Russian woman he married who then divorced him after obtaining a green card. Why this is relevant is that, like so many disgruntled MRAs, this man allows his anger and bitterness over a failed personal relationship with a woman to severely cloud his ability to think rationally as to why his relationship failed. Is it really the fault of feminists that he did a shoddy job of choosing a wife? Probably not so much.

Not only that but the thing about many MRAs is that they wail against the "bigotry" of feminists while willingly remaining blind to all the ways that the system favors men. See, while this man's new misguided mission is to crusade against feminism, if he were truly interested in equality he would remain open the possibility that due to historical oppression of women maybe just maybe men have certain privileges that women do not and that's a large part of why we have women's studies courses.

Most importantly, though, I find that those who are so quick to denounce feminism and women's studies don't even show that they understand the field well enough to give intelligent, informed, and reasoned critiques of it. These MRA-type critics usually denounce nothing more than a straw-field of "women's studies" they've envisioned in their angry heads that bears little, if any, resemblance to what these fields are really like. Often, I think these men envision women's studies as how they themselves would create a field of study called "men's studies" if they had the ambition and know-how: As bastions of bigotry against women, much to the tune of the Women Suck rantings of Men's Rights Advocacy and its brigade of like-minded and "oppressed" angry, white male readers.


So yeah, keep on clogging up the courts with your personal vendetta against feminism, Mr. Hollander. As an attorney it would be nice if you saw the legal system as something other than a tool to exact vengeance on those who are not responsible for failings in your romantic life.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Evangelicals Are Not the Moderate Center

Did you catch the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency this past weekend?

According to the Saddleback Civil Forum's website, the "series was established to promote civil discourse and the common good of all." Rick Warren, best-selling author and pastor of the Saddleback evangelical mega-church in California, created the forum with three goals in mind: "helping people accept responsibility, helping the Church regain credibility, and encouraging our society to return to civility."

About Warren, generally I have to give him kudos for trying to mobilize the evangelical community away from hot-button bigotry issues like homosexuality and abortion and toward more important and much-more-frequently-mentioned-in-the-Bible social issues like disease and poverty.

But at the same time, I am not at all comfortable with what looks to me like Warren's opportunistic evangelism of poverty-stricken nations. The general problem I have with missionary-type work is the "sure we'll help ya, but first let me tell you about my friend Jesus Christ" attitude. Now, this is probably a much larger conversation, but is it possible to try eradicate poverty without simultaneously getting Africans to accept Jesus as their lord and savior? I applaud several components of Warren's global "PEACE Plan," but I take issue with its typical evan-centric assumption that all non-Christians are suffering from "spiritual emptiness" just because they don't know Jesus.

As a prelude to Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency, he said "We believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and politics." Okay, I can grant that everyone has some sort of worldview and that that worldview or "faith" is relevant to politics. But that Warren, a man seeking to Christianize the world, served as the very first "neutral" moderator interviewing two candidates, for a job, on behalf of our nation demonstrates just how far right the national rhetoric is right now. It was only 4 years ago, after all, when Warren informed the members of his very large congregation that it was their "Christian duty to vote according to certain 'non-debatable' social issues, notably abortion and gay marriage."

The Saddelback Civil Forum on the Presidency may have put this Evangelical Christian worldview in place as the "moderate center" of our nation. For instance, one FOXNews commentator referred to Warren as "Values Inquisitor in Chief" as though Warren is America's Moral Leader, the decider of what's truly right and wrong. For instance, the forum's audience was comprised of thousands of like-minded members of Warren's congregation. What we at home heard was applause, reinforcement, for each candidate's "correct" policy statements on abortion (fertilized eggs have human rights!), marriage (marriage is between a man and a woman!), and faith (both McCain and Obama have been saved!). When Obama dared to say in the most minimal terms possible that women maybe just maybe should have a choice when it comes to abortion, he was met with silence from the audience. We got it. Wrong answer.

Then, of course, Warren asked both candidates what Christianity meant to them on a daily basis. Both men were quite eager to play the Christian card. Christian faith, or at least professing to have one, is an unofficial prerequisite for the presidency. Obama expounds:

"It means I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that I am redeemed through Him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis. I know that I don't walk alone. But what it also means, I think, is a sense of obligation to embrace not just words, but also through deeds and expectations that God has for us. And that means thinking about the least of these - acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God."


McCain simply said,

"It means I am saved and forgiven."


Neat-o.

I find it odd and troubling that, in order to be a viable candidate for President of the United States, one has to profess a belief in the "proper" supernatural father/son/holy ghost phenomenon. I mean, tangibly, Obama and McCain didn't really tell us anything. Okay, both men are Christians. Cool. But when it comes to Christian values, we all know that those can mean whatever some people want them to mean. What really matters to America is that both men have professed a belief in the male-centric female-humanity-denying worship of a Great and Powerful Male God/Son/Ghost Thingy. So frankly, I don't care that Obama thinks Jesus died for him and that McCain is "saved." I would have much rather had these men tell me how their Christian beliefs would affect their decisions as president of a pluralistic nation and how they would tolerate and welcome those of other faiths and non-faiths.


What scares me most is that I look at Warren's ideal world and I don't find that I have a place in it even though I think I'm a generally moral, good, and spiritual person. First, there's the fact that I'm not a Christian and, therefore, "spiritually empty." Then, of course, there's my homosexuality which Warren has said is something that is not to be tolerated. Warren, you see, is really more the same brand of evangelical but he's wearing new, shiny, marketable clothing. While caring about real issues like poverty and global disease, his extreme views- views that are inherent in the very religion he promotes throughout the world- on "hot button" issues remain.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Words and Phrases That Inexplicably Grate on My Nerves

I'm going to take a break from political writing today to talk about something way more important: words and phrases that I dislike. Sure, there are the common disliked words like "moist," "slacks," and "dowdy." I could go on and on with a list of those.

But, for some reason I have a very strong, perhaps irrational, aversion to certain other (perhaps) more benign words and phrases. I'm sure that my dislike of such words makes me sort of a high-maintenance, hard-to-please friend. For, even when I play it off like the offending word usage doesn't bother me, I secretly judge the other person as being a grating-word user. In trying to cover my displeasure, I sort of tune out what the person is saying and hope that the conversation can just be over already.

Sorry to all of my friends and anyone else I encounter.


1. Dude

For some inexplicable reason, I hate, hate, hate it when people over the age of, say, 18 use the word "dude." Unfortunately, we have a generation of people in their mid-20s to mid-30s who still regularly use the word "dude" in conversation. Like pasty middle-aged men who continue to wear backwards baseball caps under the mistaken impression that their college days weren't too long ago, it's just not age-appropriate.

Say "dude" at home, say it in front of your Playstation, but do not say this word around me and never, ever, ever refer to me as "dude."


2. Know What I Mean?

Then, of course, there's the overused approval-seeking phrase "know what I mean?" that has become an automatic addendum to some people's (you know who you are) every utterance. This phrase grates on my nerves because it has been my experience that it is often, but not always, used by people as a way to get others to say "yes" to what they are saying even though the person is really saying "yes, I know what you mean" rather than "yes, I agree with what you are saying." It's a big difference, but not one that matters to some people.

But worse, and perhaps this is why I most hate the phrase, it's used by people who are essentially spouting of a long, boring, and rambling monologue but who, in order to present the appearance of dialogue, occasionally throw in this question which conveniently only demands a simple yes/no (usually yes) answer.

In any event, I see it mostly as a mechanism for the insecure. Yes, I suppose it's bitchy of me to say, but have the courage to stand behind your words instead of seeking constant pseudo-agreement in a roundabout manner.


3. (Missing) Articles About Mothers and Babies

Another language pet peeve of mine is when magazines, usually in the form of an US Weekly-type trashy mag showcase on [insert famous woman's] recent birth. For a completely made-up example, an article discussing Brangelina's latest baby will saying something like: "Brad, whose latest child was born in Kwaxaikstan, says that mom and baby are fine." "Mom," of course, refers to Angelina. I mean, what is the principle at work here that makes writers and editors leave out the "the" or "mom's" name? Is it really so tedious to write? Would it push "writer" over that 200-word limit?

I just don't get it. If you read these trashy mags as much as I do, I know you know what I'm talking about.


Now, if you use these words and phrases, I hope this article doesn't offend you. I mean, that these words and phrases annoy me is much more likely due to my own neuroses than it is due to shortcomings of your own. I can own that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

H Hall of Shame: John Edwards

By now, perhaps you've heard that former presidential contender John Edwards has admitted to having an affair and lying about it.

To begin, I'd just like to say that, in general, what people do with their personal lives isn't really my business. And, when allegations and evidence of adultery arise in public figures, I can't help feeling saddened for what the guy's family is going through. But at the same time, when politicians opportunistically put their marital status on display to create some sort of Family Man image in order to advance their political careers, their personal infidelities become fair game for public scrutiny.

See, when these Family Man narratives turn out to be fictional, we can't help feeling a bit played. I don't generally put much stock in politicians' descriptions of themselves. Politicians and their campaign teams create narratives that are necessarily self-promoting and self-interested. It's just the nature of politics. If I had my way, politicians wouldn't tout their Family Man cred at all on the campaign trail. I just don't think it's relevant to his or her position on health care, war, the economy or the myriad other actual important issues affecting our country. What's that you say, you're happily married and super-duper Christian? Neat-o. But how the fuck does that qualify you to address the fact that health care costs are unaffordable for many Americans?

Perhaps worse than those who use their Happily Married American Christian status for political gain are those who judge others for what they themselves do, have done, or will do when given the opportunity. See, when a man who happens to be a very public figure says something like what follows about another man's infidelity, he sure as shit better think hard before engaging in the same behavior himself. Read, John Edwards, speaking in 1999 of Bill Clinton:

"I think this President has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen."


Breathtaking isn't it?

You know, I expect the "family values" crowd to be full of Family Man hypocrites. Not many moral crusaders, after all, are able to live up to the lofty moral standards they set (for other people). That being said, I am always more disappointed when those on the more liberal end of the political spectrum play the Family Man card as though it's relevant to one's ability to run the country. Inevitably, it seems, this facade is revealed for the myth that it is.

Oh, another fun fact? Like so many other moral hypocrites and adulterers who are totally into The Sanctity of Marriage (tm), John Edwards opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage. Marriage is a sacred thing between a man and a woman. Clearly.


Can I tell you how glad I am that this man is not the Democratic presidential nominee?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality Accidentally Posts Parody Piece?

"LGBT News Source" Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality recently posted an extremely odd article about Don't Ask Don't Tell that was written by former veteran and current businessman Jack Roeser.

I was going to write a parody of this article, but it sort of writes itself. The only thing amusing about the piece is that Americans for Truth [sic] actually presents this piece as though it contains arguments even resembling logical ones. I mean, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this article was written for The Onion but accidentally ended up on The Peter's website instead.

For, the writer begins, after touting his veteran credentials:

"All this patty cake about 'don’t ask don’t tell' or of just accepting homosexuals in the army doesn’t take into account how that affects military life."


Patty cake? Alrighty then. The military expert continues:

"Promotions or assignments are the prerogative of sergeants and officers..... Put a homosexual into that mix and you get trouble when he or his homosexual buddy get into the command structure. Thereafter promotions and assignments will be seen as affected by weird sexual influence. Fairness and respect suffer. Retribution of a very unfair sort may result."


First off, let's note the generally male-centric view of Mr. Roeser. Nowhere does he indicate that he is even aware that lesbians are people too and that they also want to serve in the military. It's all about the "homosexual" and "his buddy." That's okay, though. We get it. All that patty cake about two men together is totally way more threatening than two women together.

Secondly, Mr. Roeser seems to deny that relationships between gay officers and soldiers could be handled between just as they are between heterosexuals in the military. If this is his opinion he should explain why he believes that current military fraternization policies and rules would be insufficient if gay people were allowed to openly serve in the military. But alas, he merely states his inarticulate conclusion as fact: Because of "weird sexual influence," people might think gay guys unfairly promote their gay buddies.

His second reason for excluding gay (men) from the military? Army life is hard and gay sissies just aren't up to it. Or something:

"Also, an army must inflict less than luxurious living conditions including sleeping in double deck bunks, in a barracks, showering en masse, eating from a mess kit, etc....Unit cohesiveness and a certain manly toughness need to be cultivated."


What's that? Eating from a mess kit you say? Nevermind. I'm outta here. But seriously, it's asinine "arguments" like these that leave me convinced that some anti-gays don't actually know any gay people. All they have on which to base their "arguments" are the outdated and stereotypical images of "homosexuals" that have been in their heads since they first heard that "homosexuals" are wrong and perverted. Coming from a man who calls gay rights "patty cake," I'd be willing to bet that Mr. Roeser's image of a "homosexual" is of the effeminate sissy-man from early 20th-century cinema.

Is this a man who is merely concerned for the state of military readiness? Maybe so. Within his article is an embedded photo of the author- a smiling, grandfatherly-type man and descriptions of his achievements as a businessman. Yet, in the last paragraph of his article, the mask comes off to reveal some pretty monstrous and outdated thoughts about gay men. All those who think this anti-gay movement is grounded in reason and "concern" take note:

"The businessman in me must say that the whole concept of someone basing their identity on how they do sex, is repulsive."


Sadly, this confused fellow seems to think that being a businessman gives him some special authority or insight into what is and is not "repulsive"? What are his readers supposed to think? Welllll, he is a businessman, so when it comes to being a competent judge of what's repulsive, we better take his word for it. How strange.

The hateful rhetoric continues:

"Adding the concept of 'gay pride' to it is beyond rationality; that the schools and media try to tell us that the homosexual lifestyle is OK, is nuts. No one looks at their baby boy and says, 'How wonderful, he can grow up to be a homosexual.' That destructive path leads to diseases and a short life for the homosexual, and no grandchildren for the parents of a misguided sexual extrovert."


Ah. It all makes sense now.

A veteran thinks gays are grody. Therefore, gay people shouldn't be allowed to serve in the military. Neat.

As with military "expert" Elaine Donnelly, another embarrassingly inarticulate anti-gay whose intolerance, hatred, and disgust of gay people is so blatant, I can only encourage this man to keep on talking.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Deep" Thought #21: Gay Marriage Will Exacerbate Black Fatherlessness

Hello readers. I hope you can bear with me. Today's "deep" thought is more serious and a bit longer than usual.

See, there's an interesting theory regarding gay marriage that's been circulating in various anti-gay spheres. In a nutshell, it goes like this: If gay people are allowed to marry, black men won't marry the mothers of their children. This, according to proponents of this theory, means that gay marriage will lead to a further Breakdown of the Black Family (tm).

What I find to be interesting about the use of this argument is that certain factions of predominately white anti-gays really like to advance this argument even though they do not discuss the unique issues facing "the black family" in any context other than how gay people will supposedly harm it.

The white "concerned" proponents of this theory usually fall into one of two camps: (1) Men's Rights Advocates, and (2) "Marriage Defenders."


1. Men's Rights Advocates

For those not familiar, men's rights advocates (MRAs), generally speaking, are men who feel as though men are and have been deeply wronged (whether legitimately or not) by the family court system, the legal system, and/or feminism. Often, they are quite angry about having to pay child support and/or alimony to their ex-wives. By and large, I tend to agree with some people's sentiments that MRA's share more of the same characteristics of privilege-denialist groups like the "National Association for the Advancement of White People" and people who put on Heterosexual Pride Parades than they share with groups addressing actual oppression and inequality. But that's a whole other blog post in itself, I suppose.

One "fatherhood" group which espouses many MRA-type theories cites the high rate of black fatherlessness and makes the leap that allowing gay people to marry will exacerbate this problem. Whether same-sex marriage will exacerbate "black fatherlessness" is an issue that I will deal with shortly.

But first, just for fun, let's juxtapose this group's "concern" for how gay marriage will supposedly harm the black family with its opposition to affirmative action on the basis that it constitutes "discrimination" against white people. Interesting, isn't it? I find it difficult to believe that other MRA groups would feel differently about these policies. It's all about maintaining the status of the white hetero male for many of these groups.

These convenient policy positions embody Critical Race Theorist Derrick Bell's idea of interest convergence whereby "whites will promote racial advances for blacks only when they also promote white self-interest." And further, "whites will not support civil rights policies that may threaten white social status." In essence, this "fatherhood" group grounds its opposition to gay marriage on the "harm" that it will supposedly cause black families. Yet, since affirmative-action threatens white social status, this same group opposes a policy that could benefit black families. When this group's concern for the Black Family (tm) is compared to its opposition to affirmative action, the "concern" for black families appears opportunistic at best.

In other words, that this group couches its bigoted opposition to same-sex marriage in concern for African-Americans allows this group to appear concerned for minority rights while not really being concerned for minority rights at all.

That's pretty fancy footwork, but is anyone who isn't a part of that group fooled by it?


2. Marriage Defenders

Then, of course, there's another group of "concerned" white people for black America: white "marriage defenders." The powerful and elite "family values" coalition Arlington Group has been recruiting African-American congregations into the anti-gay movement using this very argument. Like the MRA's, marriage defenders love this argument because it allows them to appear concerned for minorities without really being concerned for minorities at all.

Less coherent anti-gay bloggers are often seen riffing off of and regurgitating the argument, even if they don't fully understand what they are saying. For instance, our old marriage defender friends at Opine Editorials have also regularly spouted the theory that gay marriage will exacerbate the problem of black fatherlessness. See, how it works is, if gay people are allowed to marry, "the normative link between children and marriage will be severed" and this severed link would magically affect black people more than other racial groups. Or so they say. Thus, as "concerned" white marriage defender Fitz explains, black people oppose same-sex marriage. Like, all of them.

In fact, Fitz is so very concerned with the plight of African-American families that he has created an entire "resource center" summarizing news items that he believes prove his theory that "gay marriage poses dangers to black families." Within this "resource center" are opinion pieces written by black people who oppose gay rights (that were originally published in such "credible" and "unbiased" forums like Townhall.com) just in case any black people are confused and need to know the official Black Person Position on the issue.

Funny though, on this group blog dedicated to, ahem, "the marriage related topics of gendered biology, kin anthropology, family law and policy," I searched and searched for articles opining about African-American families in contexts that did not include denouncing gay people and gay marriage but they were hard to come by. There are a total of only 6 articles (out of over 1,000) with the "race" or "racism" label on Opine and only one of them discussed race without also discussing opposition to same-sex marriage. A search for articles with the phrase "African American" turned up a scant 20 posts. And these articles were mostly dedicated to "explaining" how gay rights aren't really a civil rights issue, how gay marriage is "sex segregation" that is just like racial segregation, and how same-sex couples who marry are like vaudeville actors in black-face offensively imitating the "real thing."

Cool beans.

Here I must add a key clarification lest anyone be mistaken. My main issue is not with the fact that marriage defenders rarely talk about race, well it is but that's also a whole other blog post, it's with the fact that when they do so, they do so in an opportunistic manner and only insofar as it advances their own anti-gay agendas.

With their anti-gay lenses forever lasered into their eyes, marriage defenders seem incapable of even conceiving of the possibility that the breakdown of the black family is due to numerous, complex factors that never has and never will have anything at all to do with the legalization of same-sex marraige. Or, perhaps that's giving them too much credit. I'd like to think that the leaders of the marriage defense movement are not deliberately using African-American congregations, knowing that gay marriage has nil to do with the issues facing African-Americans. But many of us know what this "traditional values" movement is capable of. Especially when the elite marriage defense coalition the Arlington Group- composed of "leaders" who have made millions off of opposing everything gay- are involved.



3. The Harm?

The "gay marriage poses unique dangers to African-American families" argument is convenient because it allows those who seek to perpetuate injustice to feign concern for the plight of an oppressed minority group. And often, this argument is used for another key purpose. It allows marriage defenders of all races to call all non-black supporters of marriage equality "racist" for supposedly not caring about the plight of African-American families.

So, at this juncture, we all need to be asking ourselves if there is any merit to the "gay marriage will exacerbate black fatherlessness" theory. In short, we don't know yet if gay marriage will do any such thing because gay marriage is not legal in most states. That never stops marriage defenders from making ginormous predictions of future harm, of course, but let's all stop, take a deep breath, and reflect on what we do know regarding the so-called family breakdown of the African-American family.

First off, it is clear that in their eagerness to blame every conceivable social ill on gay people or teh feminists, many Marriage Defenders and Fatherhood Groups ignore evidence of actual causes and key catalysts of family breakdown. Even if they post such evidence themselves! For instance, within Opine marriage defender Renee's article that is supposed to be evidence that gay marriage will lead to black fatherlessness, she cites a study that says:

"Male unemployment and low wages are primary reasons why parents do not marry, why 2-parent families break up, and why fathers fail to remain involved with their children. In 2004, half of African-American young men lacked jobs.(12) Domestic violence is also a significant problem leading to the non-formation or break-up of 2-parent families."


It's hard to say what gay marriage has to do with male unemployment, low wages, and domestic violence among African-American heterosexual couples. Renee never articulates it. No one ever does, actually. But that's okay, I'm sure she has some special insight into the African-American condition that she's just not telling us about. Okay, probably not. In fact, her "analysis" shows us exactly how single-issue anti-gay/anti-feminist groups have a tendency to come up with simple-minded "easy" solutions to complex social problems. It's far easier, after all, to blame everything on one social "ill"- homosexuality- than to acknowledge that most social problems are nuanced, complicated, and have a myriad of interconnected causes.

See, the National Urban League, which has a thing or two to say about African-American families, recently issued its State of Black America 2008 document that serves as a "barometer of conditions of the African-American community." In this document, the organization listed specific policy priorities to empower urban communities like "create an urban infrastructure bank to reinvest in urban communities" and "close the gaps in the health insurance system to ensure universal healthcare for all children." Wow, that sounds complicated. We better just ban gay marriage. I mean, doesn't the National Urban League know that it could have saved a lot of paper by just printing little leaflets that said "Save Black America: Ban Gay Marriage!"?

But seriously. In light of complex and systemic factors effecting African-American families, I don't believe for one iota of a second that gay marriage will exacerbate the "plight" of African-American families. I'd bet that the vast majority of those who suggest otherwise are doing nothing but engaging in homo-baiting and preying on popular prejudices of gay people to garner political support for their pet cause of opposing everything gay. And, if the anti-gays get their little marriage amendments passed in 2008, I can guaran-goddamn-tee that the complex problems facing many African-American families will inconveniently linger, unresolved. And not a single one of these fatherhood or traditional values groups will start advocating for solutions- universal healthcare, improved public schools, investing in urban infrastructure- that could tangibly help impoverished African-American families. That much is certain given the lack of interest that most MRA groups and "marriage defenders" have in the African-American family in non-gay-related contexts.

See, while we're all spoutin' theories, I have a little argument of my own: Many of those touting the "Gay Marriage Will Exacerbate Black Fatherlessness" theory tend to vote largely on the single-issue of a candidate's opposition to gay rights. That, of course, means they tend to vote Republican which, in turn, means that they vote for candidates who disproportionately de-invest in urban communities, oppose universal healthcare, oppose affirmative action, privatize public goods, and oppose a myriad of other measures that would strengthen African-American and low-income families.

So let's face it, we should probably leave the policy analysis to those with a more genuine interest in African-American families than those who opportunistically posture for what passes for "concern" among the anti-gay crowd. It is clear that MRAs and marriage defenders are too myopic and/or ignorant to understand that "defending" marriage against gay people is not a noble, worthy, or remotely helpful cause.


Photobucket

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Except, of course, when injustice happens to gay people.

So yeah. We better not legalize gay marriage. Otherwise black men won't marry the mothers of their children. "Deep" thoughts.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Update!

Earlier today, I posted an article regarding one anti-gay's humorous exaggeration of the San Diego Dyke March. Well, I ventured back over to the "james hartline report" to see how this fellow's little "hit piece" was faring.

Judging from the comments, it seems that it didn't generate much interest in or out of the LGBT community. Yet, a few days after his Dyke March post, he posted an update that confirmed just how not seriously we should take this guy. Apparently, one, that's right one, anonymous commenter denounced those participating in the march.

How does Hartline respond? By posting the following "article":

"National Outrage Over Lesbian March in San Diego"
saying "Comments have come flooding in on the report of lesbians marching through a San Diego neighborhood ..." [emphasis added]

He then re-posted the one single solitary comment left by the "anonymous" commenter who criticized the Dyke March.

One comment.

I'd say that's more of a droplet than a flood.

Whatever your agenda is, Hartline, you don't have to be a liar in order to advance it. See, honest people know that we're all entitled to our own opinions but we're not entitled to our own facts. Stick that in your Bible class, Hartline.

Rightwing Roundup: Lesbian "Terrorists" and Fires

1. Hyperbole of the Week

When you see a headline like "Lesbians Terrorize San Diego Community" you definitely have to read the accompanying article. I mean, I for one get scary images of hoards of evil lesbians wielding machine guns and wreaking havoc through a city. You know, sort of like Heath Ledger's sociopathic Joker blowing up hospitals and planting bombs on boats just for the fun of it.

Yet, upon reading that very headline and associated commentary at some guy named James Hartline's blog I realized there was a profound disconnect between his reporting of the San Diego Dyke March and the reality of what occurred that day. His "objective" eye describes this dyke march as a "terrorist" event in which "some" parents "were forced to keep their kids off the streets so that they would not be exposed to these lesbians carrying obscene signs." Ohhhhh yes. Not only that but it was a "nightmarish event" full of (vague and unnamed) "disgusting activities." It was a "vile event" and "perverted escapade" in which women professed to love their "boobies!"

[WARNING WARNING This article includes links to photos of happy lesbians and families! WARNING WARNING]

Peruse the pictures that Hartline links to and see it all for yourself. Try not to laugh, though. See, I predict that anyone with any grasp on reality will quickly realize that Hartline's descriptions of the parade are slightly unhinged.

When I look at the pictures I, for one, see smiling toddlers walking hand-in-hand with their mothers. I see women dancing in the sun, laughing. I see women holding up placards peacefully walking through the streets. I see women on bicycles and women in wheelchairs waving to the cameras. In fact, the only thing I saw that was remotely "nightmarish" about the day's activities were the photos of the two white mom-aged women awkwardly dancing in the sun.

But seriously, when a person has to so profoundly exaggerate and vilify lesbians to advance his anti-gay "Christian" crusade, I can only think that he has no legitimate way to do so.

But I suppose we knew that already, didn't we? And by the way, is anyone else as sick as I am of the gays as terrorists "metaphor"?

James Hartline, get a fuckin' grip.


2. Must Have Been Those Lesbo Terrorists


In "breaking" news, Fred Phelp's Church of God-Hates-Fags caught on fire a few days ago. The Phelps' clan apparently believes the fire is a case of arson. In fact, the good reverend posted a really Christian message on YouTube saying that the fire was "no doubt the work of fags or fag sympathizers" and he has requested that the US Attorney General investigate the fire as a hate crime!

Oh, but in less exciting news, the fire marshall who investigated the fire said "it didn't appear that accelerants were used to ignite the fire."

Sorry, Fred. Sometimes bad things just happen to bad people.


3. That's All

Hi, dear readers. I just got back from womantopia. Thus, while Rightwing Roundup usually has at least 3 featured pieces of rightwing asininity, the above two are all I can muster right now. It's all about easing back into the "real" world in a healthy manner.

Peace.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back to Civilization

Sorry I've been missing in action without giving prior notice. I went away to the woman-topia that is a certain Womyn's Music Fest that occurs every August. Yes, that's womyn with y. I'm just that gay. And yes, the festival was wonderful. Being in a woman-only environment gave me a lot to think about with respect to our larger society and, if a share-y mood strikes me at some point, perhaps I will write about it.

Anyway, I will resume my normal blogging routine tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the latest Carnival of Feminists over at Rage Against the Man-chine. My article regarding media coverage of Danica Patrick was featured.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You Might Be a Bigot: Sci-Fi Edition

I honestly don't think most people who act like bigots know that they're bigots. In their minds, [insert group of people] are just morally wrong, inherently bad, and/or inferior to other groups of people. So, when they state these "truths" they don't really see anything wrong with doing so. In their eyes, for one example, it's just the cold hard truth that being gay is "immoral." Furthermore, being called a "bigot" or a "hater" or "intolerant" is something that is bad, and it is a natural human response for the ego to want to disassociate itself from such "bad" things.

For an extreme but relevant example, it bears mentioning that even the KKK similarly justifies its hatred, racism, and bigotry and delusionally states that its "Christian" message is "one of love NOT hate." Likewise, anti-gay hate group Watchmen on the Walls doesn't consider itself a hate group even though it has declared war on "homosexuals," has perpetuated a Holocaust revision whereby "homosexuals" had a central role in Nazism, and has labeled gay people "enemies" of the family.

I cited those examples to give you some perspective on how out of touch with reality a bigot's perception himself is in light of his message. There is some major disassociation going on.

See, it's my theory that such people know that to be a bigot is something of which to be ashamed. We are becoming a more tolerant society, and outright bigotry is something that is no longer as acceptable. Even though hate groups like the KKK and Watchmen are not taken seriously by most people, they do know that if they have any chance at all in successfully spreading their messages, they must disassociate themselves from the "bigot" label.

The purpose of this new series is to point out some bigots who do not know that they are bigots. Some of these people aren't as extreme as, say, the KKK, but their attempts to disassociate their words from the "bigot" label are just as preposterous. Their message, their hateful words, cannot be interpreted as anything other than hatred, bigotry, and/or intolerance. And yet, they balk at the "bigot" label and cry foul when it's applied to them.

But before we begin, it is a very, very common complaint among bigots that their critics merely call them bigots without refuting their points. I think these people are confused. We don't think they're wrong because they're bigots. We think they're wrong because their arguments are idiotic and unsound. It just so happens that they are also bigots in addition to being wrong.

So, here we go with the first installment:


This is a sci-fi edition, in fact. See, I am a dork who likes science fiction. There, I said it. The alternate worlds, ideal utopias, and scary dystopias are easy to get lost in. When I was younger, I enjoyed reading Orson Scott Card's futuristic novel Ender's Game. In fact, I could be persuaded to re-read this book and post a review of it, but I won't. (Oh darn, I know).

See, it's recently come to my attention that Orson Scott Card is adamantly anti-gay. He's not just your run of the mill amateur anti-gay, either. He, like, writes op-ed pieces in The Mormon Times, using his "expertise" as a science fiction writer, to say that that oh no he's not a "homophobe" it's just that gays and lesbians suffer from "sex role dysfunction" and they don't have real relationships but "homosexual liaisons and friendships." He really gets dramatic when he writes that a government that allows same-sex couples to marry would be his "mortal enemy" and that he would "act to destroy that government and bring it down."

Whoa there! See, for us mere Earth-bound mortals, those sorts of sentiments are pretty indicative of bigotry, Mr. Card. Perhaps this is a fitting time to remind everyone that being a bigot generally means regarding or treating members of a group with intolerance or hatred. If one considers a government that tolerates gay people to be his "mortal enemy," that is pretty much akin to treating gay people with intolerance. And, possibly, hatred.

Yet, in nearly every anti-gay article I've read by Mr. Card in which he has denounced gay people, he has taken issue with the "bigot," "homophobe," and "intolerant" label. I'll tell you what, though. If those labels don't fit Mr. Card, then those labels have utterly lost all meaning.

I mean, to give you some more of Mr. Card's definitely-not-bigoted speech, he also wrote:

"Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.....Those who are not willing or able to obey the rules should honestly admit the fact and withdraw from membership."


Excuse me? As Mr. Card believes that gays and lesbians deserve to be imprisoned and are not acceptable or equal citizens in our nation, his thoughts just might meet the very definition of bigotry and intolerance. As Mr. Card "respectfully" requests gays and lesbians to either change their "sexual behavior" or withdraw their membership from society, that request meets the very definition of intolerance: I don't agree with you who you are, so leave. I won't tolerate living in the same society as you.

I always find it indicative of dissonance when bigots such as Mr. Card voice more objection to being called a bigot than they do with the fact that they consistently and vocally vilify an entire group of people. So yeah, bigots, we all get it: It's worse to be called a bigot than it is to actually be one.


To end, this science fiction writer promises that:

"In another column I will talk seriously and candidly about the state of scientific research on the causes of homosexuality, and the reasons why homosexuality persists even though it does not provide a reproductive advantage."


Oh joy. Card is a man with no particular expertise in science, law, policy, or research methodology. Yet he seems to be, perhaps because he is a famous science fiction writer, under the mistaken assumption that he is qualified to analyze "the state of scientific research." Nothing in his articles indicates that he is even remotely qualified to do so. For, upon reading them one quickly discover that his opinion pieces are little more than appeal to his Mormon religious beliefs and a smattering of traditional values "common sense" ideas like how marriage is only between a man and a woman because only a man and a woman can get married. Neat. O.

In other words, like so many other anti-gays, what passes for "expertise" among the anti-gay crowd is really nothing more than good 'ol traditional values intuition. That may be convincing to some people, but it sure as shit isn't convincing to most.


So no, I won't be reviewing any of Card's books. Although, perhaps re-reading his books through the lens that this new info would give me a whole different perspective. The name of the alien race in Ender's Game that must be wiped out? "Buggers."

I certainly hope this sci-fi writer never decides to create his own religion. Although, considering how some people have morphed already-existing religions into hateful vehicles of bigotry, "truth" can sometimes be scarier than fiction.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Title IX and African-American Female Athletes

I have written before about Title IX as it relates to sports. A while ago, a reader sent me a link to an article written by Emmett Gill Jr. discussing Title IX and its effects on African-American female athletes.

For starters, can I just say that I have to give any man props who is able to write about Title IX without simultaneously bitching about how it has supposedly harmed or ruined men's sports. Neat. Anyway, the following article starting off promising and raised some good points, yet I also found it unsatisfactory in other areas.

Gill's article "The Prevalence of Black Females In College Sports: It’s Just An Illusion" begins:

"...Black female participation in college sports has increased 955 percent in the 35 years since Title IX, which requires colleges to provide equal sports participation opportunities to women, became law. However, Black female student-athlete participation is, for the most part, limited to two sports: basketball and track. Ninety percent of Black female student-athletes compete in one of those sports....In women’s soccer, lacrosse and rowing, the sports that have experienced the most growth because of Title IX, White women outnumber Black women 11,692 to 594. During the 2004-2005 academic year, only 47 Black females competed in Division I lacrosse and merely 23 in field hockey."


Those statistics are cause for mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's great that there has been such a significant increase in sports participation among African-American college women. Yet, it is troubling that this participation is limited largely to only two sports.

At the same time, however, while we're mentioning upper-class sports like rowing, lacrosse, and field hockey, none of which were offered at my predominately white rural high school by the way, we should be acknowledging that class-based factors are also at play here. I mean, I'm white and I didn't even know that there was a sport called "crew" until I went away to college. My experience is anecdotal, I know. Yet, could it be that predominately black high schools don't have lacrosse teams for the same reason that predominately blue-collar white high schools don't? Money.

My point is that merely looking at the disparity in participation across different sports from a race-based lens is inadequate. Keeping in mind that white families are more likely than black families to be in higher socioeconomic brackets and thus, more likely to be able to put their children in sports like lacrosse and crew and attend schools in which these sports are offered, it would be interesting to look at a sport-by-sport breakdown of female participation by the socioeconomic status of her family.

My purpose here is not play Oppression Olympics by invoking sympathy for poor white kids at the expense of black children. Racial disparities are bad. Clearly. But at the same time, class-based disparities are largely invisible in our nation precisely because we insist on viewing everything through the more visible lenses of gender and race. So, while I agree with Gill that Title IX has been insufficient in completely eradicating participation barriers for African-American female athletes, while we're looking at participation disparities in various sports I think it's time to also start looking at the disparities that occur because of socioeconomic status.

Gill continues:

"There are a litany of factors and circumstances that have contributed to the ever-increasing inequities between Black and White female student-athletes: the ownership of Title IX by White advocates to the exclusion of Blacks; the inaction of Black feminists who fail to acknowledge the importance of sport in the lives of Black girls; the role of poverty in Black female sports participation; and the staggering amount of investment required to rectify the situation.

However, what is most concerning is the unwillingness of the most influential Title IX advocates to simply make the public aware that Title IX has not resolved the racial inequities of female student-athletes. Title IX advocates preach male-female equity, but have been largely silent about racial inequity....

Title IX advocates, who are overwhelmingly White, are so out of touch that it is unlikely they have any idea of the cost associated with achieving equity between White and Black soccer players.... During Lopiano’s 1993 speech, she presented a 16-point plan to help increase Black female participation in sports. Almost 14 years later, Lopiano, the premiere advocate for women in sports, has neglected to implement any of the components of her master plan."



For starters, I think that Gill's accusatory tone is misplaced. Blaming participation disparities among African-American women on, in part, those advocating greater participation for all women oddly and unfairly blames the some of the few who are even trying to rectify the problem. I mean, let's not forget that Title IX, as Gill admits, increased "Black female participation in college sports" by 955%. Hardly a number to scoff at. Throwing in an abstract phrase like "the ownership of Title IX by white advocates" without further explanation does not help anyone adequately address the issue. Does he mean that African-American women don't have a voice in women's sports advocacy? Does he mean that white advocates don't care about African-American women?

Or, does he mean that white advocates (or all advocates?) of Title IX should try to get it amended to include prohibitions on racial discrimination? I mean, Gill criticizes Title IX advocates for being "silent" about racial disparities but at the same time, by its very definition, Title IX it is a law that merely prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. In order to address racial disparities, Title IX would have to be amended with a similar prohibition on race-based discrimination.

Lest anyone be mistaken, I'm not trying to say that African-American women should just be happy with the current state of affairs since they've already made significant gains. The data shows that racial disparities exist when it comes to female participation in sports and these disparities are not acceptable. But at the same time, race and class-based disparities are more difficult to address since they are caused by, to use Gill's words, "a litany of factors and circumstances."

Rather than criticizing Title IX for being inadequate, let's celebrate what it has given so many women. And while we're doing so, we should use it as a stepping stone to create more opportunities for women of color and those in lower socioeconomic classes.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The AFA's Secret Ploy to Address Obesity Crisis?

Professional anti-gay organizations such as the American Family Association (AFA) and Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality are up in arms about the fact that McDonald's has donated $20,000 to the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

The AFA has even started a Boycott McDonald's website full of "breaking news" and resources about this Very Important Battle in the "culture wars." The main problem, according to this website, is that "McDonald's has chosen not to remain neutral but to give the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage."

For kicks, I went over to this "Boycott McDonald's" website to see what it was all about. Upon entering the site, I was immediately drawn to a forum in which disgruntled and offended American Families (tm) can express their disapproval of McDonald's actions.

After reading the typo-laden comments left by these "loving" common folk, my first thought was that this website was surely some sort of parody meant to discredit the anti-gay movement.

Yet upon further reflection, I have come to believe that the real motivation is much more benign. As I read testimonials of ginormous American Family (tm) after ginormous American Family (tm) vowing to no longer eat McDonald's, it hit me. This boycott is possibly a secret ploy to deal with our nation's obesity crisis.

Observe:

One family man or woman writes, "Please reconsider! Our family of six has enjoyed your food for years but can not continue to do so knowing that our money is going towards your new cause. We urge you to continue being a place where traditionally wed families feel comfortable."

One ex-customer says, "I used to be a regular customer, but not any moere if Mc'Dees is actively supporting this agenda."

A (possibly Scottish) grandparent writes, "I will take me 10 great grand children to Wendys BurgerKing or some other place. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN!"

One parent writes of her new healthy eating habits, "My daughter nor I will be eating @ McDonalds as long as they support homosexual agenda. We will not be eating @ McDonalds again. Nor will my son-in-law, daugher, & grandchildren be eating there again. I would rather pay lots of money to eat @ a sit down restauranct than to go thru a fast food restaurant & support something that I know to be wrong."

And it just goes on! Large family after large family vows to stop eating at McDonald's.

Now, I've seen Super-Size Me so I know that eating less McDonald's is bound to make a person healthier. Even though these possibly super-sized families are against full equality for people like me, I can only applaud their recent ventures into more healthy eating.

A few days ago, I criticized those who played upon popular prejudices of gays and lesbians for political gain. Now though I see that sometimes, the ends justify the means. As a lesbian, I can agree that it's justifiable for professional anti-gays to use homo-bigotry when it advances the noble aim of living in a nation in which fewer homo-haters succumb to heart disease, diabetes, and the other trappings of obesity.

Bravo, AFA. Well done!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rightwing Roundup: Guns, DADT, and "News"

1. People who carry guns in their purses and then forget that they are, in fact, carrying a deadly weapon are probably a bigger threat to our nation than gay people.

Yes, I'm referring to anti-gay Sally Kern. Who was just caught by security for the second time for trying to carry a gun into the state Capitol building. Her excuse? And I quote, she "forgot" it was in her purse.

LOL, oopsy-daisies.


2. Just Keep Talking

Earlier, I wrote about military "expert" Elaine Donnelly's wacky testimony regarding the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) policy. A transcript of the full testimony can be found here (PDF). It's not to be missed. Some highlighted statements include:

"[F]orced cohabitation in military conditions- which offer little or no privacy- would force persons to live with persons who might be sexually attracted to them." [emphasis in original]


The minor default of this argument is that hellloooooo gay people already are in the military living with "persons" who they might be sexually attracted to. Whoop-dee-doo.

And then, citing the 1974 case where a woman was allegedly assaulted by a "group of lesbians," Donnelly also writes:

"[The allegedly assaulted woman] predicted that if professed homosexuals serve in the military 'An assault like the one I endured would be 'de-criminalized,' on the grounds that the victim is a 'homophobe' if they won't just 'relax and enjoy' being sexually assaulted."


What a crock of shit. I'm sorry, but that's just simply a big fat crock of shit. Thousands of lesbians and gays currently serving in the military, and the best Donnelly can do to "prove" that gays and lesbians will assault other soldiers is to cite a case from 19-flippin-74?! She should be ashamed of herself. Besides, as members of Congress noted when they heard this ridiculous statement, the military would punish homosexual conduct the same way it punishes heterosexual misconduct. Get a grip.

In all seriousness, Donnelly's argument against gays in the military hinges mostly on her "forced cohabitation" argument. To that argument I can only say the following. If the readiness of our military is so severely compromised because some of its members have to endure the awkwardness of living with people who might, might, be attracted to them, then our national security is already in serious trouble.


3. A Quick Thanks

Today, I would just like to give kudos to "LGBT news correspondent" Peter LaBarbera for running a website that serves as a phenomenal aggregate for breaking LGBT "news." That website? The Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality.

Some journalists bravely go to scary places like war zones, but our favorite "journalist" takes it a step further by bravely wading through "extremely vile content" in the media, frequently going so far as valiantly attending and reporting back on LGBT events such as the "tragic" female-to-male transgender conference in Washington DC, the "gay pride" parade in Chicago, and Folsom Street Fair in "Sodom-by-the-Bay, San Francisco."

Thank you Peter, for bravely going where hundreds of thousands of people have gone before.