Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
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.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?
“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.”
Saturday, December 12, 2009
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
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
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
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.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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
Thursday, November 5, 2009
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
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
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
Thursday, October 8, 2009
- 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
If you are, please take this simple quiz to determine whether you should proceed.
- Does the society in your novel have a single polity, namely, a galactic empire?
- 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?
- Despite having trillions of subjects, does the emperor find the time to involve himself directly in the nitty-gritty of those subjects' lives?
- Even though the galactic empire is, well, galactic, are all of its subjects human?
- Do the planets not differ significantly from places that one might find on Earth in terms of climate, atmosphere, and gravity?
- As an alternative to the galactic empire, are there multiple worlds, each with a single government, language, and religion?
- Is Earth called Terra?
- Do the planets have names, while the stars that they orbit are anonymous?
- 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?
- Do you neither know nor care about this thing called "human nature"?
- 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.
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
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
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
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
Thursday, July 30, 2009
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
Friday, July 24, 2009
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.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
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
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
Thursday, June 11, 2009
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.
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
- 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
Friday, April 24, 2009
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.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
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
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
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
ARABIC TRANSLATOR: Must be heterosexual. Some knowledge of Arabic a plus. Send CV to Mail Stop ______, the Pentagon.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
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.
Monday, March 9, 2009
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
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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
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.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
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
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
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
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
Saturday, January 31, 2009
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."