Thursday, December 31, 2009

Burden of proof: An illustration of the concept

Our fates are controlled by invisible mystical elves living in the Andromeda Galaxy. Prove me wrong. Have you explored every part of the Andromeda Galaxy in which there might be mystical elves? Even if you have, you might have overlooked them because they are invisible. It will not do to say that this faith contradicts physics or logic, since the elves, being mystical, are bound by neither. Finally, even if you do find counter-evidence, the elves could have planted it there either to test our faith or to give themselves an excuse to damn anyone they don't like.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Boo hoo for the Boy Scouts.

It seems that yet another public entity is breaking off its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America over the BSA's discriminatory policies. Even if we stipulate that private, religious organizations have the right to discriminate against gays and nonbelievers, I still find it impossible to sympathize with the BSA.

The BSA do not want to be a private, religious organization; they want to be a private, religious organization when it suits them. Unfortunately for them, the First Amendment mentions no such possibility. If they are private and religious under the assembly clause, they are also private and religious under the establishment clause. I said as much when Boy Scouts of America v. Dale was being publicly debated; people laughed at the time, but it turns out that I was right.

I could have told you that.

According to this article,
One reason for the shift in attitudes, some political scientists contend, is a rising number of gays acknowledging their sexual preference openly in various walks of life, from workers on factory floors to Hollywood stars.

“More and more people have been coming out,” said Sean Theriault, a political scientist at the University of Texas who tracks gay politics. “Ten years ago, you could talk to a lot of people who didn’t know a single gay person, and now, especially in the cities, you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know anyone who is gay.”

I could have told you that. In fact, I did say so in 1990, and I got a lecture from a high-ranking member of ACT-UP on how daft I was for thinking such a thing. Again, where do I sign up to be one of the talking heads?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let's learn from the pros.

Stephen Colbert's epic pwnage of Andy Schlafly shows how it's done. How effective would that interview have been if Colbert had just hit Schlafly with a lot of politically correct glurge about how Mother/Father God just wants to give us all a big group hug? Instead, Colbert answered Schlafly with Schlafly's own ideas and answered Scripture with Scripture. While no one expected Schlafly to deconvert on the spot, a fence-sitter could easily see how Schlafly applied both the Bible and his own conservative ideas only when they suited him.

Contrast that with an interview that I once watched with an openly gay Episcopal priest who theologically was the fluffiest bunny who had ever fluffed out his bunny fluff. That priest kept whining that he didn't want to talk about the Bible and, in doing so, badly lost a debate that he should have handily won. Since his most vigorous interlocutor was an African-American woman, he could have just reminded her of what the same literal Biblical interpretation that she used against homosexuality would say about both slavery and the role of women. Yet he did not do so, and since he put forth no argument to justify himself, a fence-sitter could reasonably have concluded that no such argument existed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Same-sex marriage and freedom of religion (2)

This letter to the editor argues that whenever secular law disagrees with a church's marriage law, that church still "has a constitutional right to follow its beliefs," even when that church is receiving public funds. Therefore, I propose to start my own church, get a public contract, and then declare ex cathedra that no marriage is valid in the eyes of the Invisible Pink Unicorn unless the spouses have paid our church an honorarium of $50,000. If anyone dares criticize me, I'll play the religious-bigotry card.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gay cliché? Moi?

Ever notice how the people who so loudly claim not to be gay clichés are so often the biggest gay clichés around? One acquaintance claimed that he was not stereotypically gay and as evidence stated that he worked out. I am not making that up.

Why believe in things that make it tough on you ...

especially if you don't genuinely believe in them at all? Many people complain that a religious organization regards them as inferior for being LGBT or female, yet remain in that religious organization and presumably even throw something into the collection plate. Such people give the sanction of the victim to that organization.

Some such people justify their continued involvement in Catholicism by claiming, usually without proof, to have some special insight into the true meaning of Catholic doctrine that has somehow eluded the Catholic hierarchy itself for almost two millennia. That attitude is just silly. Like it or not, Catholic doctrine is not whatever you decide it is, but what the Catholic Church decides it is. Either you accept the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, or you do not. When I decided that I did not, I preserved my intellectual integrity by leaving Catholicism.

Others claim that they are working to reform a religious organization from within. Good luck with that. Some of the finest theological thinkers in Christian history either could not or would not reform their churches from within and ended up founding new denominations. Moreover, a church that survived the Reformation has little to fear from the cheap publicity stunts that so often pass for protests against Catholic doctrine. We must weigh the probability that such publicity stunts will achieve their goal against the probability that they will have unintended consequences - something that the nimrod who dropped the Eucharist on the floor of the cathedral evidently forgot to do.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Same-sex marriage and freedom of religion

Opponents of marriage equality love to argue that legalizing same-sex marriage will violate the religious freedom of those churches that oppose it. Yet when wrong thinkers like me ask how the same has not turned out to be true of legally recognized remarriage after divorce, Catholics pretend not to have heard the question, while non-Catholic Christians engage in fanciful rewrites of Scripture to make it say just about anything except what it actually says. If I didn't know any better, I might start to think that no one actually believes in the Bible and church teaching, least of all the "believers" themselves.

I also have an issue with holding all of our rights hostage to a particular church's doctrine. Our opponents love to say that the Constitution guarantees freedom of, not from, religion. Yet they leave out that before it does that, it guarantees freedom from, not of, an establishment of religion. Also, who will enforce the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion -- those same unelected liberal activist judges whom they attack on other issues?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The possible demise of an LGBT media giant

Regarding the recent news about the parent company of the LGBT "newspaper of record," I have mixed feelings. While we do not want to lose an LGBT voice, publications such as The Blade may have condemned themselves to irrelevance. As I have noted in previous posts, The Blade often seems like the house organ of a narrowly defined subset of queerdom, eerily disconnected from the way so many of us live.

For one thing, how badly do we need a "gay" publication as stridently anti-gay-male as The Blade can be? As I noted in another publication, The Blade often came across as too much like The Washington Times on issues near to me.

Fabulous queer dating tip #6: Be selective, but be selective in how you are selective.

If you have impossibly high standards of muscle development, you just want someone who understands the importance of taking care of himself. If you are holding out for a person of a particular race or ethnicity, or for someone whose age fits within some ludicrously narrow range, that's just your preference. But if you care at all about a person's intellect or what he has done with his life, you have blasphemed and will burn, burn, burn.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Originalists in the hot seat

It's fun to watch judicial conservatives squirm when asked about Brown v. Board of Education. Apparently, original intent controls, except when it doesn't. In other words, no one actually believes their dogma, including them.

Our activists should debate more in this fashion, taking our enemies' stated principles to their logical conclusion, probing them until they break. Doing so would surely change more minds than the appeals to one's own emotions that we so often see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More straight-washing from The Washington Post

In an otherwise interesting article in The Washington Post, the author limits the subject of eroticism in art to "men wanting to look at naked women" and even limits discussion of such thoroughly homoeroticized images as the martyrdom of St. Sebastian to their effects on heterosexual viewers. Yet homoeroticism in art goes back for millennia. How anyone can view such works as Ercole e Caco and not see homoeroticism, except through willful ignorance, is beyond me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Democracy and marriage (3)

Since conservatives are so sure that matters of public concern must be decided by the voters rather than by unelected liberal activist judges, they'll surely support the following amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
  1. The definition of marriage shall be determined by the voters of each of the several States, and the courts of the United States and of the several States shall lack subject-matter jurisdiction to intervene.
  2. The scope of the right to keep and bear arms shall be determined by the voters of each of the several States, and the courts of the United States and of the several States shall lack subject-matter jurisdiction to intervene.
  3. The freedom to prescribe and use medical marijuana shall be determined by the voters of each of the several States, and the courts of the United States and of the several States shall lack subject-matter jurisdiction to intervene.
  4. The electors of the President and Vice President of the United States shall be chosen by the voters of each of the several States, and the courts of the United States and of the several States shall lack subject-matter jurisdiction to intervene.
  5. For the purposes of this Article of Amendment, the district constituting the seat of government of the United States shall be considered to be one of the several States.

What do you mean, those other things are completely different?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The news from Maine, while disheartening, is not entirely bad. When I first came out, a loss by only that margin would have been unimaginable. Also, consider the amount by which the goalpost has shifted. Now, we fight over marriage; in the early nineties, people seriously considered writing sodomy laws into the Constitution of Kentucky. While social evolution can seem glacially slow, we are on the right side of history, and our enemies must know that on some level.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The irony! It burns! (3) Ayn Rand and conservatives

Ayn Rand is in the news again, as conservatives increasingly quote her. They seem to overlook that Rand, a militant atheist who was pro-choice on abortion, hated theocratic social conservatism as much as she hated the moochers and looters. They also overlook the contradiction in asserting that morality has no basis apart from God and then appealing to Rand's moral philosophy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The irony! It burns! (2)

The involvement of churches in the fight against same-sex marriage, whether the Catholic Church in California and Maine or independent Protestant churches in D.C., shows the hypocrisy of the attitudes of so many Christians, who seem to wink at just about any behavior except same-sex marriage (or sometimes abortion). If we shall know every tree by its fruits, as Christians' own holy book repeatedly assures us that we shall, then Christianity has failed spectacularly.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kinksters: The icky queers of the LGBT community (2)

It's happening again. Someone recently tried to start an argument with me about the scene; despite admitting to having almost no experience in it, he was an "instant expert, just add wild speculation" who was sure that no amount of evidence could stand up to his guesswork. If you know such persons, and I'm sure you do, you know how much good it will do to argue with them, so I did my best to ignore him. I wish that that encounter were an isolated incident, but it is not. It also shows how often vanilla queers' arguments about kink mirror our enemies' arguments about homosexuality.

Another dogma bites the dust

According to this article in The Washington Blade, the Senate is considering granting domestic-partner benefits to federal workers to keep the federal government competitive with private-sector employers. What happened to the dogma that the private sector did everything it could to deny people equal rights and that the federal government had to drag it kicking and screaming into the modern age?

Marriage vs. queer identity

This column in today's Washington Blade reiterates the debate over whether we should strive for marriage equality or avoid giving up our "queer identity" and becoming "heteronormative." To me, the debate reflects a false dichotomy.

Other formerly marginalized groups, whether racial and ethnic groups or chosen communities such as religious denominations, have achieved equal legal rights without giving up their cultural specialness or being accused of selling out. Indeed, white ethnic groups are well known for expressing their cultural specialness through their marital customs.

Moreover, we can have marriage equality without aping "traditional" heterosexual norms. Many heterosexual married couples do not follow those norms either.

Finally, those who want to be outside of the mainstream will continue to be free to do so. They will not be compelled to follow those of us who wish to leave adolescent rebellion to the adolescents.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why marriage matters

We are increasingly seeing arguments, such as here and here, to the effect that the fight for marriage equality is the wrong fight because we should not have to register our relationships with the state or give the state power to grant special privileges to particular forms of relationships and that we should not need to do so to be committed to our partners. While I am sympathetic to those arguments, I do not consider them to be well thought out.

While I firmly believe that marriage and the family should be privatized and deregulated, I do not believe that any such thing will happen soon, at least in the United States. By contrast, recognition of same-sex marriages under state and local law, if not under federal law, is a reality in some states. Why should we let the perfect that is so far off be the enemy of the good that is in our grasp?

People also argue that marriage has nothing to do with the traditional civil-rights movement. I for one am glad that the Lovings did not receive that insight. Besides, even if the factual premise of that argument were true, so what?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tortured logic

When you can't answer someone's argument, assert that that person is using tortured logic (but don't explain how the logic is tortured, heaven forbid). Someone has used that tactic here to criticize a post on this blog. Fundamentalists use essentially the same tactic whenever they are losing an argument about their own holy book.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who's who in LGBT organizations

The dramatis personae of LGBT organizations tend to look like this. The categories are not necesarily mutually exclusive.
  • The President got that position by sleeping with the right people and by coming up with one idea that sounded good over cocktails.
  • The Strong-Armer is always right; if you don't believe me, ask the Strong-Armer. The Strong-Armer has the force of will or other resources to bend everything to her/his wishes, which are often disastrously misguided, and is never there to pick up the pieces.
  • The Apostle of Ideological Rectification would be the Strong-Armer if she/he could be. Instead, the Apostle rebukes everyone else for heresy by thought, heresy by word, and heresy by deed and simply vanishes when the work needs to be done.
  • The Critic stands around criticizing what the productive people are doing. When invited to help, the Critic suddenly remembers a conflicting appointment. Most Apostles are also Critics, although the reverse is not necessarily true.
  • The Troublemaker fastens her/himself like a limpet onto organizations whose goals are clearly antithetical to her/his own. The Troublemaker fancies her/himself to be the Queen's Loyal Opposition, when in fact she/he is simply an attention hound. Things get interesting when, as sometimes happens, the Troublemaker is also a Strong-Armer.
  • The Babbler cannot differentiate between having to say something and having something to say. To the Babbler, the organization's one goal is to act as a group-therapy session.
  • The Monomaniac is consumed by a single issue and thinks that everyone else should be, too. The Monomaniac's understanding of that issue may be based on a single article in the mainstream press, but the Monomaniac is still convinced that she/he understands that issue better than do people who have worked on it their entire adult lives. When the Monomaniac shows signs of becoming an Apostle or, worse, a Strong-Armer, be afraid; be very afraid. It is best to try to keep the Monomaniac at Babbler level.
  • The Super-Volunteer shows up and then instantly involves her/himself in all aspects of the organization. Even worse, the Super-Volunteer tends to get things right, much to the annoyance of the other group members. At best, the other group members simply assume that the Super-Volunteer's work is mystically doing itself. Absent proper care and feeding, which the Super-Volunteer almost never gets, she/he tends to burn out quickly. LGBT organizations often collapse when their Super-Volunteers either quit or are driven out.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Planning on writing a science-fiction novel?

If you are, please take this simple quiz to determine whether you should proceed.

  1. Does the society in your novel have a single polity, namely, a galactic empire?
  2. Does it pretty much go without saying that the occupant of the throne of that empire is always an emperor and never an empress regnant?
  3. Despite having trillions of subjects, does the emperor find the time to involve himself directly in the nitty-gritty of those subjects' lives?
  4. Even though the galactic empire is, well, galactic, are all of its subjects human?
  5. Do the planets not differ significantly from places that one might find on Earth in terms of climate, atmosphere, and gravity?
  6. As an alternative to the galactic empire, are there multiple worlds, each with a single government, language, and religion?
  7. Is Earth called Terra?
  8. Do the planets have names, while the stars that they orbit are anonymous?
  9. Is the whole point of your novel to express a seventies sentiment about being kind to the environment or about the evils of capitalism or of the Catholic Church?
  10. Do you neither know nor care about this thing called "human nature"?
  11. Has the society in your novel seen less social change over ten millennia than my rather provincial home town has in the past forty years?

How to score: If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, I recommend that you not write your science-fiction novel.

Bears and racism

Yet again, I've heard the allegation that the very idea of a bear community is racist. People who make that assertion typically complain that because bearish traits, particularly chest hair, are associated primarily with certain ethnicities, men of other ethnicities are excluded. For a few reasons, that logic fails.

First, bearishness does not correlate perfectly with European ancestry. As a tool of racism against men of West Asian, South Asian, or African ancestry, let alone as a tool of anti-Semitism, the bear community would fail spectacularly.

Second, even if we assume away my first point, racism does not mean preference for particular characteristics in one's potential sex partners. Dictionary definitions of racism typically read like this:

a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others * * * hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
May we please agree that preferring a particular physical characteristic differs from making a blanket assessment of cultural and individual achievement and from wanting to rule people lacking that physical characteristic? Otherwise, we should have to conclude that simply being a gay man makes one a misogynist. Moreover, anyone who equates a lack of sexual interest with hatred or intolerance has issues more serious than whether the bear community is racist.

Third, if we know each tree by its fruits, it is relevant that at least where I live, the most racially integrated gay bars have larger than usual bear followings.

Then again, it seems more and more that some people view the bear community as racist because they view everything as racist. If all you have is a hammer ....

Of course, I am not so sheltered as to deny the existence of real racism among gay men (or any other group of people). Nonetheless, blatant race-card-playing cheapens the issue of genuine racism.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fundamentalists of big government

Fundamentalists of big government must engage in special pleading to appease their deity. For example, in this column, Harold Meyerson argues that

the state must ensure against periodic madness in the markets with regulations and social insurance, because madness is a potential threat in markets just as it is in other human endeavors -- because the market is a human endeavor, not reducible to a mathematical construct.

And the state is what exactly? Also, in case anyone imagines that the state, unlike every other human endeavor, is immune from madness, the history of the past century proves otherwise.

Monday, September 28, 2009

This looks vaguely familiar.

This cartoon in today's Washington Post reminds me of this blog entry from earlier this month. Where do I sign up to be one of the official Washington talking heads?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How to read the Bible

Fabulous queer dating tip #5: Don't make him think you're special.

Have you ever thought about running a personal ad in which you describe yourself as something to the effect of "VGL GM, masc prof mil/frat-jock dude, younger-looking, work out 4-5x/wk, not impressed with others' degrees or careers, Midwestern small-town values, cowboy at heart"? So have about 95% of gay men, even those "cowboys" whose closest exposure to livestock is having fishtanks in their Logan Circle apartments, so you're definitely on the right track. Also, when you go to the bar, you'll see that we can all express our individuality in exactly the same way, so be sure to study and emulate the uniform prevailing fashion.

Capitalism and hypocrisy

This morning's New York Times includes a letter to the editor pointing out what everyone outside of the mainstream media has already figured out, namely, that Michael Moore is criticizing an economic system that has benefited him handsomely. When are the talking heads going to figure out that the rest of us are tired of lectures from penthouse socialists and from whorehouse Bible-bangers?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kinksters: The icky queers of the LGBT community

One of the ironies of progressive movements is that we are often all too eager to do unto others as our oppressors have done unto us. One particular example is the vanilla LGBT attitude toward people of various kinks. One would think that LGBT people would not be in such a hurry to pass moral judgment on unauthorized sexuality, but sadly, they often are.

I came out as into kink shortly after coming out as gay, and pretty much to the same reaction. Vanilla queers often have the same horrified fascination, or sometimes just horror, for kink that heterosexuals often have for homosexuality. Articles on kink in the LGBT media give the same conjectures for the origin of kink that people accepted in the fifties for the origin of homosexuality, and with just as much supporting evidence. Even a former acquaintance who was a card-carrying member of NAMBLA felt free to ridicule kink.

Just in case the irony is not heavy enough, I recently read a column in a leather publication mentioning "leather fundamentalists" and their opposition to anything not old-school. Some people just do not get anything.

What political correctness is

First, let me say what political correctness is not. By "political correctness," I do not mean disagreement with me. Many people disagree with me. Some have even convinced me that I was wrong. However, they have done so through logic and facts, not political correctness.

Political correctness is at heart the belief that certain persons' emotions are an infallible oracle into Truth with a capital T. The identity of those persons is, of course, determined through their own or certain other persons' emotions. That belief leads to the following results:

  • The view that disagreement with one's own opinions is a form of oppression, if not outright evil (but politically correct people still regard themselves as the guardians of diversity)

  • The view that since one is the measure of all things, anyone who is at all different has thereby committed a moral outrage (but see the above comment about diversity)

  • The view that one has not only an infallible insight into how other people should run their lives, but also the moral authority to impose it (but heaven forbid that those others should return the favor)

  • An inability to explain why one believes what one believes, let alone why others should believe it, without resorting to "facts" that one has made up on the spot, willful ignorance of genuine facts, hand-waving away inconvenient evidence or logic, transparently fallacious reasoning, or just plain emotional outbursts. A favorite p.c. tactic is to play every race, sex, and class card in the race, sex, and class deck, even if the person doing so is a white male from an upper-middle-class background. Once, when I asked someone why I should be p.c., that person answered in effect that it would be p.i. not to do so. Uh, okay. Another time, I tried to explain to explain to an HIV activist why the Catholic Eucharist does not represent the archbishop. He took that attitude that he, not the Catholic church, defined what the Eucharist does and does not represent.

Then politically correct people wonder why they are so often compared to the religious right.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who is the driving force behind same-sex marriage?

You can easily predict how any LGBTQ person will answer that question. If that person supports same-sex marriage, that person will say that lesbians are the driving force. If that person doesn't support same-sex marriage, that person will say that gay men are the driving force. Some people will elaborate and blame upper-class white gay men, who, in case you still haven't heard, are the root cause of everything bad that has ever happened.

Intersex fish

Researchers are finding "intersex" fish in more rivers, apparently caused by human-made pollution. Now that the environment is a traditional family value, will Republicans start to care?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fabulous queer dating tip #4: Don't take "No," or even "Absolutely not," for an answer.

If you want him, then by definition, he wants you, too. If he didn't, he wouldn't be standing in the same bar/walking down the same side of the street/living in the same county, now, would he be? If he takes out a restraining order or even greets you at his front door with a shotgun, he's just playing hard to get.

LGBT anti-rationalism

Probably the most frustrating thing about discussing issues with other LGBT people is being hit with a tidal wave of logical fallacies, New-Age woo-woo, politically correct "because I said so," and just plain emotional outbursts. I know that anti-rationalism permeates American culture, but we seem to be particularly prone.

One possible reason, I suppose, is that so many of us tie our self-identification to issues of gender and sexuality. It follows that we tend to cast our lot with the Dionysian rather than the Apollonian.

Still, I have to question the wisdom of our doing so. First, if we want to figure out where we want to be and how to get there, we cannot afford the luxury of trusting only our own emotions. Second, in terms of appealing to emotions, we cannot begin to compete with our enemies; in particular, religion has a head start of millennia. Finally, since reason supports LGBT liberty and equality, does it make sense to abandon such a potent weapon?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fabulous queer dating tip #3: Look for love in all the wrong places.

If you're looking to find someone who will want to live the rest of his life with you and a Labrador retriever in Chantilly, try to find him at the bathhouse. If you're just looking for an evening of pouncing, try an LGBT church or political organization. Go to a leather bar and be horrified when you meet people into leather, or go to a twink dance club and be aghast when you don't. If none of those works, check out the guys in a straighter-than-straight environment.

Friday, July 24, 2009

MILMOT: Make it like my old town

Today's Washington Post has yet another article on people who move to the party neighborhood and complain about the noise. We've also seen articles about people who move to rural neighborhoods and complain about the smell of fertilizer.

Here are two thoughts. If you don't like a particular environment, don't move there. If the ways of your present home town are so perfect, stay put.

Fabulous queer dating tip #2: Seek to attain only what is unattainable.

We all know about the sixtysomething troll who is holding out for a barely legal Adonis, but it doesn't stop there. If the intellect fairy skipped your parents' house, chase after someone with several advanced degrees in a discipline whose name you can't even pronounce. If you are online, message people in every continent but your own. Answer personal ads full of abbreviations that you don't even understand. Chase guys who have made it clear that they're not even available for dating. If you're a twink, chase after someone with a stated preference for bears, and vice versa. If you're vanilla, go for someone kinky; after all, you'll be able to convert him, right? Demand perfection, and make scathing remarks about people with the same deficiencies that you have. Bottom line: If someone offers you an insurmountable challenge, just say yes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fabulous queer dating tip #1: Be the change you desperately wish to avoid seeing in the world.

For those who are trying to find Mr. Right (regardless of whether his last name is Now), here is a helpful exercise. Think about the characteristics that you wish to see in your dream man, and make a list of those characteristics. Does your list include entries like "emotionally dependent," "drama queen," "high maintenance," "self-absorbed," "control freak," and "stalker"? No? What a huge surprise. Even so, be sure to cultivate such characteristics in yourself.

The same applies to physical appearance. Everyone agrees that everyone else is lethally unattractive with an obvious comb-over, a shaved chest, the regulation twink-bar goatee, and the regulation twink-bar tats, but that shouldn't stop you from having them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Against bigoted religious people, fight fire with fire.

Many of the standard arguments against giving us the "special privilege" of equality rely on religion. Bigots claiming religion as a justification (or a pretext) love to quote-mine their holy books to condemn us. We really need to grow a backbone and fight fire with fire.

I will draw examples from Christianity, but, of course, the same basic principle applies with regard to other religions. When women pastors rebuke us, we should point out what the Epistles say about the role of women in the church. When African-Americans denounce us, we should remind them of what the Old and New Testaments say about slavery.

When they say that those parts of the Bible need to be "interpreted correctly" or "were meant for the church back then," we should demand to know why they get to use that argument, but we do not. Actually, I have asked that question in several fora, and the only response that I have received is that all-purpose scathing rebuttal known as pretending not to have heard.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cafeteria Christianity (2)

I recently heard someone say that on the subject of homosexuality, the Bible clearly says what it says. How, then, does it not say what it says on subjects ranging to slavery to the treatment of rape victims to remarriage after divorce? There must be some special Bible teaching, discernible only by the initiated, that says that the Bible counts only when it can be invoked against the unholy trinity of abortion, homosexuality, and modern science.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cafeteria Christianity

Ever notice that the Christians who cite a literalistic reading of Scripture against homosexuality love to reinterpret or just plain ignore their own holy book on subjects ranging from slavery to polygamy to the status of women? Do they regard the Bible as God's Word, yes or no? If they pick and choose, then their ultimate authority in matters of faith is their standard for picking and choosing, not the Bible itself.

This applies to salad-bar versions of any religion, but Christians seem especially prone to picking and choosing. Fluffy-bunny liberal Christians do it; so do fire-and-brimstone conservative Christians. A good reading of this site might help them.

Welcome to Collectopia (Collectivist Utopia).

We've heard a lot about the failure of individualism and the need for government to exercise greater control in the name of the collective good. To further that end, I have the following suggestions for moving our society in the direction of a collectivist utopia.

Separation of church and state:
This is tantamount to privatization of religion, and we all know that privatization is very bad. Moreover, everyone knows that large, complicated organizations such as churches cannot be maintained through voluntary donations. We should therefore institute a taxpayer-supported state church, or at least make tithing compulsory and administered by the IRS.

Freedom of speech and of the press: Did the political correctness of the eighties and nineties mean nothing? There is just no such thing as freedom of speech or of the press. Therefore, to bring news reporting into line with the collective good, we should nationalize the media, preferably in time to hand them over to the next Republican President as a turnkey operation.

Reproductive freedom: The idea that a woman as an individual has a right to make choices over her own body is libertarian and therefore wrong. Ayn Rand believed it, and you don't want to agree with her, do you? Furthermore, population pressure obviously affects the collective good of the collective whole. Therefore, the government should have free rein to compel you to have a child or to prevent you from doing so.

Marriage: This one is too obvious even to require stating.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reality shows that I'd watch

  • Postmodernists and young-earth creationists move to a remote, primitive village and live without the benefits of that nasty old modern science that they so disdain.
  • Social conservatives move to an Islamic theocracy that has not been tarnished by the concept of constitutionally protected individual liberty.
  • Twinks move to a community where everyone, including those who do the useful work in the community, is a twink.
  • Ditto with lesbian separatists.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Open mouth, insert foot

Sometimes we need to know when to shut up. Carrie Prejean isn't the first otherwise completely forgettable person whom an activist hasn't transformed into a right-wing martyr. The situation is like that of a celebrity whose publicist pays people to dress up as bishops and denounce her, except that some activists seem to want to perform that service for free.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The "blue" state of Maryland

The Washington Blade has run an article on those Democrats hindering LGBT progress in that "blue" state (quotation marks in the original). Having grown up in Maryland, I am always surprised that people should expect Maryland to be more socially liberal than it is.

Yes, Marylanders are fiscally liberal, but they are also deeply socially conservative. They are not consistently liberal or consistently conservative, but instead consistently statist, which leads to conservative social views. Maryland was ahead of the game in enacting a "defense of marriage" law and behind in getting rid of everything from a state board of motion-picture censors to sodomy laws.

One need only consider the makeup of Maryland's voters to see why. Maryland "liberalism" comprises Catholic liberalism, blue-collar liberalism, government workers' liberalism, and African-American liberalism, none of which is exactly known for being socially liberal, particularly on LGBT issues.

Marylanders pride themselves on their liberalism. Yet people from elsewhere consider Maryland to be a right-of-center backwater with some strange ideas as to what constitutes liberalism, and with good reason.

No game-players, please.

People like to accuse one another of playing games, but game-playing, like judicial activism, is whatever we don't like.  Someone once called me a game-player for refusing to submit to barebacking.  So sorry, but I hadn't been put on notice that remaining alive was a game.  Ironically, it seems that calling someone a game-player is itself a form of game-playing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Conservatism and the "liberal" media

It no longer surprises me when conservatives engage in doublethink. In fact, that seems to be what they do best. What does surprise me is that the "liberal" media never call them on it, even in the most egregious circumstances, such as smaller government through larger government or protecting democracy only when the majority can be counted on to agree with them. If this is liberal media bias, what would conservative media bias look like?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hate crimes (2)

On the Web site of The Washington Blade, someone asserted that another poster who was opposed to hate-crime laws might change his mind once victimized by a hate crime. That is just a replay of the old "A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged" non-argument. While I cannot speak for everyone, I have been a victim of anti-gay violence, and I still believe what I believe on the subject.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hate crimes

Hate-crime legislation on both state and federal levels is increasingly in the news. I believe that the pro and con arguments both have considerable weaknesses.

One issue that I have with hate-crime laws is that they deflect the focus away from the harm suffered by the individual victim and onto an affront to a group. While I have heard the argument that an attack motivated by homophobia or transphobia instills fear in an entire group, so does a drive-by shooting in an impoverished neighborhood. I have also heard the argument that hate-crime laws put police, prosecutors, and juries on notice that they should not trivialize violence just because of bigotry against the victim of that violence. Nonetheless, if police, prosecutors, and juries all too often feel free to nullify even laws against premeditated murder, are hate-crime laws not just another law for them to nullify? Perhaps a better response would be something analogous to rape-shield laws combined with increased use of civil lawsuits. Finally, any federal hate-crime laws would plainly have to comply with the Tenth Amendment, or they would meet the same fate as the Violence Against Women Act.

On the other hand, the most commonly advanced arguments against hate-crime laws are nothing short of disingenuous. Insofar as hate-crime laws concerning sexual orientation create thought crimes, so do hate-crime laws concerning things such as religion. I have yet to hear why Baptist hatred for LGBT people deserves special protection that Baptist hatred for Catholics does not.

Monday, April 13, 2009


We still hear from conservatives about those advocates of campus "diversity" who try to squelch viewpoint diversity.  While I do not lightly agree with social conservatives, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  It often seems that while the purpose of diversity is to let people of differing viewpoints learn from one another, the way to achieve diversity is to avoid all contact with those differing viewpoints.

I attended a law school well known for "diversity."  Our classes were filled with people who were diverse by race, sex, and geographic origin, most of whom thought exactly alike.  I was one of the few persons, and sometimes the only person, who supplied diversity in class discussion, even though I was on paper the least diverse person ever, being a white male non-athlete from the Washington suburbs.

Then again, as usual, conservatives are in no hurry to lead by example.  Indeed, when they make up the majority, they forget all of their fine words about viewpoint diversity.  Free Republic quickly banned me for expressing an opinion that was by their standards politically incorrect.  The thread topic was - you guessed it - the threat to viewpoint diversity by those nasty liberals.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

CA vs. DC

I keep hearing from gay men visiting from California and from California gay men on the Internet that D.C.-area gay men are, in effect, not shallow enough. To the Californians, that observation says a lot about D.C. To me, it says a lot about California.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The anti-marriage excuse-o-mat

Conservatives do love coming up with coming up with excuses for denying us the "special privilege" of equality as their old excuses are shot down. They've whined that same-sex marriage should be legalized only democratically, but now that Vermont is in the process of doing just that, Governor Douglas says that lawmakers should have devoted their effort to the economy and the state's budget deficit. In that case, should the supporters of California's Proposition 8 have done likewise? Then again, one of the core aspects of modern conservatism is having multiple mutually exclusive dogmas and picking the one that gives the desired result in any specific situation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Legislating from the bench

Now that President Obama has started making judicial appointments, it's as good a time as any to share my thoughts on the dreaded "judicial activism." While I believe in the separation of powers, I do not see how we can ever be free from such a thing. For one thing, as anyone who stayed awake during law school can tell you, it is not always possible to draw a bright line between construing the federal or state constitution and reading one's own wishes into it. The only working definition seems to be that judicial activism is any adjudication whose outcome we don't like. Moreover, courts are necessarily human institutions, not adjudicating according to some algorithm. Conservative judges have certainly been known to enagage in what would be called judicial activism if anyone else did it, often to narrow freedom rather than to expand it. Would you rather have courts that err on the side of too much freedom or too little?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wait your turn.

People who secured their civil rights before us keep telling us to wait our turn. People who follow us in that struggle keep telling us that we may not progress unless they progress at an equal rate. Is there some reason why we, and only we, have to wait our turn?

Everyone knows ....

Everyone knows that all gay men are attracted exclusively to macho jocks, except that it's also an infallible dogma that we are all attracted, just as exclusively, to twinks and pretty boys. Moreover, it's teaching necessary for salvation that we all like smooth guys, except, of course, insofar as we all like hairy men.

It is vitally important that we slavishly follow sweeping generalizations about gay men, no matter how often we contradict ourselves in the process. Otherwise, we might actually have to stop paying lip service to diversity long enough to recognize that we are already a pretty diverse community, and we certainly couldn't have that, now, could we?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't ask, don't tell?

Given that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is in the news again, I expect to see the following help-wanted ad:

ARABIC TRANSLATOR: Must be heterosexual. Some knowledge of Arabic a plus. Send CV to Mail Stop ______, the Pentagon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Republicans and smaller government

As the Bush economy collapses around us, we keep hearing about the supposed Republican obsession with smaller government. I do not recall that government shrank too much under Reagan, Bush I, or Bush II.

Just consider the main constituencies in the Republican Party. Neocons favor more American dick-waving around the world, i.e., larger government. Theocons want more control over public morality by American ayatollahs, i.e., larger government. Crony capitalists want protectionism and bailouts, i.e., larger government. Point out for me the constituency for smaller government.


I wonder how many people who describe themselves as pro-choice are pro-choice across the board. Many of them seem to take a view that is not functionally different from "my body, my right to choose; everyone else's body, my right to choose as well." Once, when a classmate in law school advocated a statist position on an issue that did not affect her personally, I asked her why she wanted to deprive those who were affected of the right to make choices over their own bodies. She was horribly upset, but she did not answer the question. I think Robert Heinlein was right about such people.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The latest transmission from The Blade to earth

In this article, a Washington Blade writer bellyaches about "a subculture that too often privileges the gay white male experience." People who write such things really ought to read their own publication now and then, or even participate in some of the local queer organizations.

Also, won't someone please tell me just what this "gay white male experience [singular]" is? Is it somehow related to the homosexual agenda that is so familiar to right-wingers and no one else?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Democracy and marriage (again)

I've seen the light. Marriage is so holy and fundamental that it must be entrusted to the will of the majority. Of course, being a consistent True Conservative, I mean not just gay marriage, but all marriage. Since it is so important for the howling mob to govern our most intimate relationships, no marriage should be valid unless the public has had nine months in which to file comments. That is a fine way to protect democracy, and you don't ... hate ... democracy ... do you?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dysfunction in LGBT organizations

The Washington Blade has reported yet again on an LGBT event that combined good intentions with inept execution. Sadly, poor planning and general dysfunction are all too common in LGBT organizations. Too often, activists lose sight of where they want to go and how to get there.

Many groups have no clearly defined purpose, apart from the implicit purpose of stroking the egos of those who would rather be someone than do anything. For example, many LGBT religious ministries seem to exist only to let people play church; I do not exaggerate when I say that basic theological questions are sometimes answered with "We haven't thought that one through yet." Also, I was once involved in an LGBT political organization whose leaders kept changing their minds as to whether the organization would represent a particular position on the Nolan chart or just speak for anyone who opposed some hazily defined "Left."

Moreover, even when a group's leaders have a clearly articulated goal, they may not have thought through how to achieve it. Someone may object to solutions that have been shown to work in other contexts, for no better reason than that those solutions exceed that person's comfort level. In other words, never mind whether it works in practice; how will it look on paper? Someone else may propose a project that sounds good over cocktails until people ask, "What is it good for?" and "How shall we implement it?" Still another person may propose, and actually implement, the sort of "politics as performance art" public demonstration that alienates the very people whose sympathies we need. One activist of my acquaintance answered such objections with "Isn't it sometimes a worthwhile goal just to vent our anger?" No, it is not, nor can we afford that luxury.

Even day-to-day administrative tasks seem beyond the abilities of many LGBT organizations. We have quite a reputation for running our organizations on "gaylight savings time" and putting off major tasks until the last microsecond. One person kept reassuring me that he would be able to obtain certain materials; he ended up telling me on the morning of Pride Day that he had been unable to do so. Leaders seem particularly inept at assigning tasks; too often, the shyest person gets the pressing-the-flesh job, the busiest person gets the most time-intensive job, and, of course, the most popular person bears the onerous responsibility of showing up at the last minute to take all of the credit.

Finally, trying to address the above dysfunctions is often a waste of time. The long-term members of the organization often view it as an exclusive club and view newcomers as interlopers. Not only do they often take an NIH (not invented here) attitude to new ideas, no matter how meritorious, but they may also even answer offers to do the work with that all-purpose scathing rebuttal known as pretending not to have heard.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dating and religion

I've heard yet more talk about the propriety of dating outside of one's religion. This talk confirms my view that people use religion not as a guide to what is true, but as a marker for other things.

As an atheist, I do not make a point of agreeing with C. S. Lewis, but I do agree that religion can be infinitely important or not important at all, but that it cannot be only somewhat important. If someone genuinely believes in his religion, why should he not want a partner who shares his values with regard to that infinitely important matter, let alone a partner who will, according to the faith, join him in heaven?

The answer, of course, is that at least in our society, most people who self-identify as members of a religion do not genuinely believe in it, except insofar as they can cherry-pick from it to confirm what they wanted to believe anyway. For the most part, people use religion as a ritual of belonging - to a family, an ethnicity, a chosen tribe, or a secular cause. Just consider the people who want to post the Ten Commandments in public spaces but who cannot name them, or the people who faithfully observe certain holy days but who are effectively apatheists the rest of the year.

If we were honest, we should pay less attention to religious affiliation than we do, not more. The fact that one person goes through the motions on Ash Wednesday and the other does so on Yom Kippur should have no more significance, and arguably much less, than different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Proposition 8 and the mortgage crisis

The New York Times had an article a while back on a community in California that the mortgage crisis had hit especially hard. One interesting fact noted in the article was the number of "Yes on 8" signs. Perhaps the out-of-state churches that donated so heavily to the "Yes on 8" campaign will donate just as heavily to help those people pay their mortgages. After all, they do believe in the entire Bible, including that ever so inconvenient parable of the sheep and the goats, do they not?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Christians and gay marriage

I believe that we will eventually prevail on same-sex marriage in the U.S. I also believe that once that happens, Christians will engage in one of their favorite hobbies, rewriting history, to say that they were always on the side of same-sex marriage, just as today they say that they were always against slavery and segregation. Then they will no doubt say how offensive it is to compare gay rights with rights for whomever they hate then.

Dating in the current economy

According to this article in today's Washington Post, the state of the economy has drastically affected heterosexual dating (and as loyal Post readers know, that's the only kind). It appears that straight dating rituals will dramatically de-emphasize the "Look at how wealthy I am"/"How wealthy are you?" aspect. That being the case, gay men can provide a model for others.

Say what you like about gay male dating, but acknowledge this much: It is comparatively pretty unusual for a gay man to flaunt his material success to get a date, and in doing so, he would much more likely alienate than attract other gay men. Of course, we can often go too far in the opposite direction, in which physical type makes the world go around and in which even acknowledging employment can be horribly politically incorrect. Still, those gay men who do get past "Dude, how often do you work out?" can concentrate on qualities that survive the recession rather than on who can treat whom to the most expensive drinks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The blame game

Liberals blame our economic crisis on the free market. Conservatives blame it on Obama. Apparently, they have reached consensus that Bush's economic meddling had nothing to do with it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Republican Newspeak on marriage

According to Andrew Sullivan, the latest Republican bald-faced lie on same-sex marriage is that Republicans are simply concerned about "redefinition" of the word "marriage." Yes, that has to be it, since we all know that marriage has never before in history been redefined.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The new politically correct computer keyboard

Have you heard about the new politically correct computer keyboard? The keys are blank, since you're supposed to know what they are, even though they change randomly. The help file consists of a single sentence: "You just don't get it, do you?"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Virginia smoking ban

The Virginia House of Delegates has approved a smoking ban that would cover most of the state's restaurants and many of its bars. Rural conservative lawmakers had long opposed such a law because it would impose on individual freedom in a way in which all of their anti-gay laws presumably do not.

Both pro-tobacco conservatives and pro-gay liberals could learn a lesson about being too quick to rely on big government. Any government that is powerful to restrict other people's liberty, even for what is supposedly their own good, is powerful enough to do the same to you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oscar Wilde Bookstore

I'm of two minds as to the closing of the Oscar Wilde Bookstore.

On one hand, I have fond memories of the bookstore from my coming out. In 1983, I started graduate school out of state and was just coming out. To explore this strange new world, one weekend I took the Suburban Transit bus from Princeton to New York and the subway down to Greenwich Village. While chain bookstores in malls already had small LGBT sections, those sections were dominated by Gordon Merrick and remaindered relationship guides; they certainly provided nothing like the wealth of information available in a gay bookstore. Also, the cashier's reassuring smile is burned into my memory to this day.

On the other hand, it is no longer 1983, and we have progressed such that LGBT literature is widely available both in general-interest bookstores and online. While some people complain that we are "a movement, not a market," as though those two things were mutually exclusive, I believe that such progress shows how far mainstream society has come in taking our concerns seriously. Institutions often outlive their own usefulness or even render themselves obsolete; there is no reason why bookstores should be an exception.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sadly familiar story? To whom exactly?

Have you ever read something about gay men and seen terms like "a sadly familiar story," things "we’ve all seen," and "an issue that simply rings true" used to describe something that you just don't recognize in your own life or in those of your gay male friends? It's happened again. There must be two parallel gay male universes, one inhabited by the talking heads of the media, and the other where the rest of us live.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bill Kristol and The Washington Post

(It's time to get this show back on the road, I guess."

It seems that Bill Kristol will write a monthly column at The Washington Post. It would be nice if The Post put less effort into taking a "collect 'em all" approach to conservative talking heads and more effort into ... oh, gosh, I don't know ... incorporating actual facts into its reporting.

The supposed reason is to provide a "diverse range of opinions" on the op-ed page. Huh? The Post already has plenty of freedom-hating "conservatives" and freedom-hating "liberals." Only in Washington would a group of opinions all clustered around the bottom of the Nolan chart be deemed "diverse."