Friday, April 29, 2011

Government is always more progressive than the private sector (2): Same-sex marriage in New York

Yessiree Bob, the private sector thinks of nothing all day except inventing new ways to oppress us, while our fierce advocates in the public sector valiantly protect us. Yet according to this, high-profile New York business leaders have prepared an open letter calling for marriage equality in that state, citing reasons from recruiting the best talent to simple fairness. Same-sex marriage failed in the State Senate two years ago.

The article notes, "Some of the business leaders are close to the Senate Republican caucus, which voted unanimously against the marriage bill two years ago." In other words, Republican politicians are now pitted against what is nominally one of their core constituencies. A while back, I noted some reasons here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

William Donald Schaefer

The late William Donald Schaefer, former governor of my old home state, in my mind embodied everything wrong with Maryland's political culture: provincialism, a might-makes-right ethos, redistribution of wealth from the political have-nots to the political haves, the view that rules and responsibilities are for other people, "solving" problems by putting makeup on a cancer lesion, and the belief that government involvement is both necessary and sufficient for everything good. He would have made a wonderful villain in an Ayn Rand novel.

Rumors have long circulated that Schaefer was on the DL. Some commentators argue that he could have done much good by coming out. Nonetheless, I do not particularly want people like Schaefer playing for my team, as they would confirm the stereotype of LGBT activists as moochers and looters.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yet another reason to privatize marriage

It seems that Texas lawmakers want to curtail transgendered people's right to marry. From here:
AUSTIN, Texas — Two years after Texas became one of the last states to allow transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license, Republican lawmakers are trying to roll back the clock.
Given concerns about the economy and about runaway government, why does Texas so urgently need to take away people's rights?
But when asked about claims of discrimination, [State Senator Tommy] Williams insisted his goal is to simplify marriage licensing for clerks who are trying to balance the 2009 law with the 1999 Texas appeals court ruling.

“They shouldn’t have to resolve these issues,” Williams said. “We have confused them.”
On one point, I agree completely: The clerks shouldn't have to resolve these issues. Allowing either the clerks or the state legislature to do so reduces marriage to "The government gave, and the government hath taken away; blessed be the name of the government."

Monday, April 25, 2011

A different China syndrome

On China, the fundamentalists of big government want it both ways. They take the rapid rise of China's economy as conclusive evidence of the rightness of Marxism. At the same time, they point to all of the Middle Kingdom's problems, from the environment to wealth inequality, to show the very bad things that happen once a country abandons Marxism.

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 18

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

In Western societies with a heavy cultural emphasis on dispassionate reason and unrelenting individualism, such values function to distort the inherent communality that even neuroscientists now conclude is actually hardwired in human beings for our collective survival.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quote of the week

Rod Liddle, in The Times of London, reacting to a supermarket riot in the UK (information on the riot itself here):
Perhaps I should go round to the houses of the working classes who cheerfully shop in Lidl and Tesco and Asda and smash in their windows and set fire to their sofas. The single mums, the people on benefits, the working families with four kids and a crippling mortgage, the ones who simply cannot afford the time or money to think how I, uh, sometimes, think.
P.S. Yes, I know that Quote of the Week is turning into Quote of the Quarter. Sue me already.

P.P.S. Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fabulous queer dating tip #22: Don't go away mad. Don't just go away, either.

Sadly, but all too often, you realize that your relationship was just not meant to be and that you and he will not live happily ever after. It's time for both of you to cut your losses and go your separate ways, preferably on amicable terms.

What, and miss out on all that drama?

Make it clear that whatever your differences, you're not going anywhere. Stick around and constantly criticize him for the things that broke up your relationship, even the things that cannot conceivably be his fault. That's sure to smooth things over.

Of course, the above should not be confused with trying to make the relationship work again. Trying to make the relationship work again, like everything else, is just not your responsibility.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My preferences are just preferences; your preferences are evil.

In our search for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Away, gay men — at least
those gay men who are not in politically correct denial about the very
existence of human nature — pay considerable attention to their own
and one another’s preferences for a romantic or sexual partner. In
fact, many gay men pay so much attention to one another’s lives that
they feel called upon to pass moral judgment on those lives and to
declare arbitrary rules about which preferences are acceptable and
which are not.

Some preferences are so prevalent, at least among the more mainstream
segments of the gay male community, that they pretty much go without
saying. Such preferences include muscles, genital size, an age within
an impossibly narrow range, and exactly the amount of body hair that
the media tell us we like this month. Also, it is self-evident, at
least to twinks and their devotees, that everyone hankers for a twink.

Other preferences, seemingly just as innocuous, provoke irate
reactions among many gay men. For instance, telling a gay male advice
columnist that you want someone intelligent is the most effective way
to press that columnist’s berserk button. Never mind the role of
similarity of intelligence on the success of a relationship. Caring
about such things just isn’t P.C., and that’s all that matters.

The second most effective way to press that berserk button is to say
that you want someone masculine. After all, how dare anyone think
that male homosexuality has anything to do with an attraction to men.
Yet liking muscles is acceptable and even expected; I told you that
the rules are arbitrary. Also, no one seems concerned about those gay
men who want sissy-boys in panties.

The usual justification that I have heard since the eighties for
opposing a preference for masculine men is that it is a reaction to
the supposed cult of “straight-looking and -acting men.” Nonetheless,
since that reaction has been going on since at least the eighties,
perhaps we should give it a rest and move on. How au courant in 2011
is an endless rehashing of an argument that was already stale in 1991?
Others have argued that “straight-acting” is simply an act; however,
that argument is a textbook example of the fallacy of equivocation.

Moreover, if I may return to my point above about twinks, I have heard
devotees of twinks take offense at the idea that any gay man could
want a non-twink guy. More than once, such devotees have even tried
to convert me to the twink cult.

Finally, many gay men accuse one another of religious “bigotry” in
selecting a potential mate having the same beliefs. I do not see the
problem there, even though as an atheist I presumably should. If
someone takes his faith seriously, why should he not want someone who
shares that faith?

I suggest we relax, acknowledge that none of us is the measure of all
things and that therefore none of us has the right to define what
everyone else’s preferences should be, and stop yammering about the
need for diversity long enough to embrace the diversity that already
exists in our community. That would be my preference, anyway.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Orwell was a prophet.

Ryan Sorba, not content to try to lead America into the thirteenth century, is trying to rebrand LGBT people. As described here,
The first step for Christian conservatives to win the war against the gay movement is to rebrand the terms, said a few panelists at this weekend’s The Awakening conference at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

“‘Gay’ is a left-wing socio-political construct designed to create grounds for fundamental rights [based on] whimsical capricious desires,” said Ryan Sorba, chairman of the Young Conservatives of California. “Gay identity does not exist.”

Sorba proposed alternatives to the word “gay,” which received approval by a unanimous show of hands by the 40-some audience members:

•“Same-sex attraction”
•“Same-sex intercourse”
•“Unnatural vice”

Later in the discussion, it was suggested that gays should also be referred to as “anti-Christian.”
Deliberately impoverishing a language to promote an anti-freedom ideology doesn't sound at all familiar, now does it? We see yet again that the left has no monopoly on political correctness.

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 17

In this series of blog posts, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read each quote and guess, before doing a Web search, whether someone in the religious right or the politically correct left said it.

[Among the effects of exposure to pornography:] The belief that superior sexual satisfaction is attainable without having affection for one’s partner, thereby reinforcing the commoditization of sex and the objectification of humans.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Would you date yourself?" is the wrong question.

Yet another advice column proposes the question "Would you date yourself?"* to allow people to take stock of themselves. I see two problems with that question. First, we all know people with unrealistic self-images who would blurt out, "Yes, of course I would" and who nonetheless wonder why they are still single. Second, people are not necessarily their own types; for example, the introvert and the extrovert mentioned in that column could well make each other's lives complete. Therefore, a better question would be "Why should the sort of person whom you want to date want to date you?"

*When heterosexuality is assumed, this is sometimes expressed as "If you were of the opposite sex, would you date yourself?"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Quote of the week

"If they will not understand that we are bringing them a mathematically infallible happiness, we shall be obliged to force them to be happy." — Yevgeny Zamyatin, We

Friday, April 8, 2011

Louis J. Marinelli on the road to Damascus

Former National Organization for Marriage (NOM) strategist Louis J. Marinelli now supports same-sex civil marriage. What changed his mind? From here:
Ironically, one of the last tour stops added to the itinerary was Atlanta and I bring this site up because it was in Atlanta that I can remember that I questioned what I was doing for the first time. The NOM showing in the heart of the Bible-belt was dismal and the hundreds of counter-protesters who showed up were nothing short of inspiring.

Even though I had been confronted by the counter-protesters throughout the marriage tour, the lesbian and gay people whom I made a profession out of opposing became real people for me almost instantly. For the first time I had empathy for them and remember asking myself what I was doing.
You mean that seeing real live LGBT people and consequently relating to them as people enters into it? Who knew?

He also says:
Lastly, I came to understand the difference between civil marriage and holy marriage as in the sacrament of the Catholic Church. Let me rephrase. I understood that but either willingly chose not to accept it or just didn’t see it. Regardless, I see it now and the significance of that is as follows:

Once you understand the great difference between civil marriage and holy marriage, there is not one valid reason to forbid the former from same-sex couples, and all that is left to protect is the latter.

Indeed Christians and Catholics alike are well within their right to demand that holy matrimony, a sacrament and service performed by the Church and recognized by the Church, remains between a man and a woman as their faith would dictate. However, that has nothing to do with civil marriage, performed and recognized by the State in accordance with state law.
We should emphasize this point, since so many 'phobes either cannot or will not recognize it. In this secular country, what you do among consenting adults in the privacy of your own church is one thing, but the rights that the rest of us enjoy are another.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today's vocabulary word: friend

friend, n. someone whose name I want to drop: As I was telling my good friend Prince Andrew the other day....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nuclear power and assessment of risk

The Chicken Littles keep telling us that nuclear power is more dangerous by a huge degree, if not in kind, than any other source of power known. Yet this study says (emphasis added),
Comparison of different forms of commercial power generation by use of the fuel cycle methods developed in European studies shows the health burdens to be greatest for power stations that most pollute outdoor air (those based on lignite, coal, and oil). The health burdens are appreciably smaller for generation from natural gas, and lower still for nuclear power. This same ranking also applies in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions and thus, potentially, to long-term health, social, and economic effects arising from climate change.
See also here.

People tend to evaluate risk, not rationally, but in accordance with the perceived familiarity of each risk and with a few especially media-worthy outlying data points. I noticed this in the seventies, when relatives expressed fear of flying, and in the eighties, when I was involved in HIV education.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What are we fighting for?

When you ask the P.C. activists what we're fighting for, you typically get answers like this, with a laundry list of supposed allies and blather about "the social and economic inequalities that are built into the capitalist system." But consider this article, which explains (and doesn't simply assert) the importance of small businesses, and thus of a good business climate, to queer self-empowerment. The fundamentalists of big government in our movement should pay attention to the way their supposed constituents actually live.