Saturday, January 30, 2010

I am shocked, shocked!

Some acquaintances of mine are only now waking up to the fact that the Democratic Party has played us for fools. It has been obvious to me for a while that they have been.

Democrats are no more committed to LGBT issues than Republicans are to smaller government. Both major parties are mystery cults; what they say to the masses and what they say among themselves are dramatically different.

From my own involvement in major-party politics, I recall a Maryland party leader telling us that party stalwarts did not actually believe their own campaign rhetoric; they just pretended to believe it to get votes. I remember him whenever I hear the outer-party true believers claim that their candidates will deliver on their promises.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Change I can't quite believe in

Obama's State of the Union speech left some LGBT people unimpressed. By now we should have moved beyond the point where a mention in passing and a little tokenism sufficed to make a politician our hero.

I have heard Obama fanboys argue that we should actively fight for our rights instead of pointing out what Obama has not done for us. While I sympathize, I disagree: If we would truly do the former, we must do the latter. What exactly can we achieve by making excuses for our favorite politicians, as do so many LGBT conservatives? Also, it's a bit ironic that some activist firebrands can suddenly espouse glacially slow incrementalism when it suits them.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Queer stock characters that need to be retired

  • The guy who finds the great love of his life, dumps him for no reason at all, and then whines about inability to find the great love of his life. This goes double if the character proceeds to be more virtuous than thou to the other characters.
  • Someone who is more virtuous than thou, only to be revealed as a hypocrite. We got it the first 950 times.
  • A troll with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. Why couldn't the not so attractive guy be a leading local LGBT activist or the like?
  • Christians, unless either experience or research qualifies you to say something about Christians or Christianity.
  • The Magical Negro and the Magical Negro's buddies, the Magical Lesbian and the Magical Jew.
  • A lesbian who is a professor in the humanities, especially women's studies. Just to spice things up, why not have a lesbian physics professor now and then? Besides, it's not as though all gay men were bricklayers.
  • A gay man who, in some completely unexplained way, has limitless financial resources.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why believe in things that make it tough on you? (3) Maybe this is why.

I've wondered before why so many LGBT people adhere to religions that hate them and generally to anti-rationalism. I may have found at least part of the explanation.

According to this article,
Defining “illusory pattern perception” (what I call “patternicity”) as “the identification of a coherent and meaningful interrelationship among a set of random or unrelated stimuli ... (such as the tendency to perceive false correlations, see imaginary figures, form superstitious rituals, and embrace conspiracy beliefs, among others),” the researchers’ thesis was that “when individuals are unable to gain a sense of control objectively, they will try to gain it perceptually.” As Whitson explained the psychology to me, “Feelings of control are essential for our well-being—we think clearer and make better decisions when we feel we are in control. Lacking control is highly aversive, so we instinctive­ly seek out patterns to regain control—even if those patterns are illusory.”
Since LGBT people so often feel out of control of our lives, perhaps we cling to nonsensical woo-woo as a way gaining perceptual control. This may also explain one of the leading paradoxes of religion, namely, why members of oppressed groups so often cling to the very religions that are oppressing them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shutting down the "Men's Parties"

The recent closure of the "Men's Parties" sex club in D.C. has led to predictable calls from the P.C. crowd to shut down such businesses as a response to HIV. (Explain to me again how the P.C. folks are different from the religious right.) Yet such heavy-handed nanny-statism has demonstrated its ineffectiveness in such situations time after time. Why will it suddenly work this time?

Political true believers

Given election results in New Jersey, Virginia, and now Massachusetts, true believers in both the Republican and Democratic parties are presenting their parties as the last best hope on earth and the opposing parties as the foot-soldiers of the Antichrist. Both sides contrast their own parties in theory with their opponents in practice at best.

Republicans claim that they are the standard-bearers for individual liberty and smaller, less intrusive government, as opposed to those statist Democrats. Reagan campaigned on cutting government, but almost immediately set about cutting restraints thereon. Under his administration, the federal government ballooned in both cost and intrusiveness. His administration engaged in economic central planning, protectionism, and in some cases, such as Sematech, outright socialism. Bush I and in particular Bush II continued that proud tradition; indeed, George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" was essentially liberalism with the compassion squeezed out. Of course, on most social issues, Republicans are not even closeted statists, but militant, in-your-face statists. Finally, while I agree that we need an alternative to "tax, spend, and regulate" Democrats, I want that alternative to be something other than "spend, regulate, and pray for a economic deus ex machina" Republicans.

Democrats claim to be the protectors of the downtrodden, including the LGBT community, as opposed to those oppressive Republicans. When Clinton was elected to his first term, people commented that they felt liberated. Moreover, when Clinton took off his liberal sheep's clothing to reveal the conservative wolf, they made farfetched excuses as to how Clinton intended to "fix" bills that he had signed into law with considerable fanfare. Obama, the current Fierce-Advocate-in-Chief, is always too busy to give us the time of day, although he can so often make the time for the most inconsequential side issue. Indeed, Republicans have been known to excuse their homophobic positions by pointing out that Obama agrees with them. Finally, people who think that "tax, spend, and regulate" Democrats are automatically socially liberal must not have spent much time in my old home state of Maryland.

Why believe in things that make it tough on you? (2)

As I've noted before, people who 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, give the sanction of the victim to that organization. More people should follow the example set by these men and withdraw that sanction.

The article states:

Leaders of three D.C. Christian churches with mostly gay congregations have called on gay members of churches such as Greater Mount Calvary to consider joining their congregations.
Doing so would seem to be more productive than remaining within an anti-gay church and hoping to reform it from within. If more such churches were susceptible to modernization from within, there would be far fewer such churches.

It would be better still if people disaffected by their churches reconsidered God-belief altogether. Nonetheless, in our religion-crazed society, half a loaf is certainly better than none.

Finally, churches like Greater Mount Calvary also provide a glaring example of irony, in that they demand literal adherence to the Bible, but only on certain issues, of which homosexuality always seems to be one. In my experience in talking with people who think that way, they suddenly become quiet when reminded of what the Bible says about slavery. Selective Biblical absolutism is not Biblical absolutism at all.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The religion of love

Christians love to compare their gentle and loving religion favorably with certain other religions that shall remain nameless. They conveniently leave out that Christianity looks so gentle and loving because, at least in the West, it has been watered down beyond recognition since the Enlightenment. Consider how modern Christians shrug off doctrinal differences over which Christians in previous centuries killed one another in creative ways. Consider also the religion of love in its undiluted form in Uganda.

The blame game

It's long been part of consensus reality that gay men deserve the blame for anorexia. That being the case, how much of the credit do we get for the plateau in obesity rates?

Monday, January 11, 2010

The anti-marriage excuse-o-mat (2)

In an op-ed column titled "Stacking the Deck Against Proposition 8," Edwin Meese, that great lover of liberty, asserts that "traditional" marriage promotes "interests [that] are broader than the personal special interests of the adults involved." Well, gosh, I thought that the problem with gay rights was that we wanted collective rights at the expense of individual rights. Now it turns out to be the exact opposite. The deck is indeed stacked.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gay men and racism

Yet again, someone has played the gay-male-racism card. In a discussion on whether to put same-sex marriage to a popular vote, someone asserted that because gay men are supposedly racist, we have no business addressing anyone else's bigotry.

First, as I've said before, a preference for a certain characteristic in a sexual partner does not automatically equate to racism. Second, even if we assume arguendo that it does, where are the white gay male organizations or leaders who are demanding the right to vote away others' rights? When I asked that, the person raising the issue immediately changed the subject. I guess we can add that question to the ever-growing list of NAQ (never answered questions) on same-sex marriage.

Yes, I am aware of this (and note that I have linked to the actual article, while others have been content to link to blog posts about blog posts about it). Nonetheless, even the study's authors acknowledge major limitations therein, such as the representativeness of the sample. For one thing, what they describe about the San Francisco area does not match what I have seen in the D.C. area. Is there any good reason to believe that as San Francisco goes, so goes the nation, the world, or the jurisdiction that caused the discussion to arise in the first place, namely, D.C.?

Finally, the article does not demonstrate that gay men are more racist than any other group of people. It seems, yet again, that gay men have a unique obligation to be plaster saints.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fabulous queer dating tip #7: Join us on the Möbius strip of love.

If you're a gay man, be sure to seek someone younger and hotter but less well educated. If you're a lesbian, be sure to seek someone richer. No, you may not ask how everyone is going to find a date under this system.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Planning on posting to an Internet discussion board?

If you're planning to post to an Internet discussion board (including a Usenet newsgroup, just in case anyone still uses them), please score your planned post using the guide below to determine whether you should do so. Starting with a score of zero, add or subtract each indicated value that corresponds to your post.
  • Do you commit a logical fallacy not otherwise covered here? (+10 for each one; if you are called on it and assert that it doesn't matter, +20; if you commit a logical fallacy in the course of accusing someone else of that same logical fallacy, +20)
  • When proved wrong, do you:
    • admit that you were wrong? (-20)
    • come up with some ridiculous explanation as to how your wrongness was actually a higher form of rightness? (+20)
    • say that you were just kidding, when you plainly weren't? (+10)
    • change the subject (+10, unless you started the thread, in which case +20)
    • throw up some red herring? (+10)
    • appeal to ridicule? (+20)
    • claim that you are being persecuted for some personal characteristic that is beside the point and not because you were wrong? (+30)
    • continue to use the argument anyway as though nothing had happened? (+40)
  • Do you spend substantially more time defending a position than you did researching it? (+10, unless you didn't research the position at all, in which case +20)
  • DO YOU USE THE CAPS LOCK OF TRUTH OR THE REPEATED PUNCTUATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS??????? (+10 for one or the other; +30 for both)
  • Do you "correct" someone else on that person's inner life, or on events in that person's life that you could not possibly know? (+20 each occurrence)
  • Do you lecture people on a subject with which you are "familiar" only from the popular media or your own speculation? (+10 generally; if you should have known that your audience includes people intimately familiar with that subject, +20; if you have actual knowledge that your audience includes people intimately familiar with that subject, +30; if you are merely asking questions of knowledgeable people; -10)
  • When called on the above, do you assert that those people's intimate familiarity with the subject precludes them from expressing an opinion on it? (+20)
  • When people ask for evidence for your assertions, do you:
    • provide it? (-10)
    • ignore them? (+10)
    • say that your assertions are self-evident, when they're not? (+10)
    • tell them to do their own research? (+20)
    • make another unsubstantiated assertion, this time about your expertise in the subject? (+30)
    • claim that you are being persecuted for some personal characteristic that is beside the point and not because you haven't substantiated your assertions? (+30)
  • Do you take the position that since sane adults making a free decision must necessarily agree with you, anyone who disagrees with you must be:
    • doing so under duress? (+20)
    • immature? (+30)
    • mentally ill? (+40)
  • When people disagree with you, do you take the trouble to find out why? (-30)
  • Do you use a typo flame as an excuse not to make a substantive argument? (+30)
  • Do you dismiss out of hand the notion that you could ever possibly have the burden of proof on anything? (+30)
  • Do you address your audience as "children" unless you have a very good reason to do so? (+40)

How to score:

  • 0 or negative: You should have no problem posting.
  • 10-20: Take a deep breath and proofread.
  • 30-40: Are you sure you want to post this at all?
  • 50+: Are you sure you want to continue owning a computer at all?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Debating same-sex marriage with theists

I've been having some rather naughty fun debating same-sex marriage. I got one Christian to admit that he doesn't follow the Bible but expects me to do so. He came up with a necessarily strained explanation as to why that's okay. Also, when I bring up Biblical teachings on remarriage after divorce and on polygamy, people keep pretending not to have heard.

In fairness, our side is not necessarily better. Some gay theists know their own holy books and are willing to discuss them. Nonetheless, most of them, at least in my experience, never cite the Bible beyond "God is love" and "whosoever believeth," and they bitterly resent having the Bible quoted to them. When someone holds their feet to the fire, they almost immediately abandon any pretense of Bible belief and start spewing enough New-Age happy talk to make fluffy-bunny Wicca look theologically rigorous.

In debating the subject, I have no illusions of changing the minds of those who most vehemently argue the other side. They are either propagandists and con artists, to whom truth is completely beside the point, or sheeple who believe in belief, to whom truth is completely beside the point. Their bigotry needs a pretext, not a basis. Instead, I hope to let those in the middle see who argues from reason and who does not. I do so because I have seen the consequences when our activists let the other side win the argument by default.