Monday, December 17, 2012

The right to keep and bear muskets

In response to the Newtown shooting, people are arguing that the word "arms" in the Second Amendment should be construed to mean those arms that existed in 1791. I explained back in 2000 here why that was not such a good idea:
Helier Robinson (Letters, February 12th) suggests that an originalist interpretation of America's Second Amendment to mean the “right to bear swords, pikes and muskets” would make gun control much easier. If courts adopted this reasoning, what would stop them from limiting the First Amendment's speech and press clause to the use of 18th-century communication technology? This would make censoring the Internet a great deal easier.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Today's vocabulary word: imitation

imitation, n. the act of observing and replicating another's behavior; a reproduction or copy of a genuine article. It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but stealing the credit is an even sincerer form.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I could have told you that. Oh, wait: I did.

From William Eskridge and Hans Johnson, "Commentary on marriage grants: Marriage equality’s Cinderella moment" on SCOTUSblog:
The nation has arrived at this moment for marriage equality, essentially, because lesbian and gay couples came out of their closets. Once Americans got to know something about LGBT people and their relationships, the overwhelming anti-gay attitudes of thirty years ago have steadily eroded. When we were growing up, in the small-town South and Midwest, almost everyone said that “homosexuals” were mentally ill and dangerous predators. Indeed, the central anti-gay stereotype was (and remains) the idea that “homosexuality” is anti-family. This is the conceptual basis for the Clinton/Bush-era idea that marriage and family need “defending” against LGBT persons.
I predicted that in law school two decades ago, only to have an ACT UP higher-up give me a lecture on how completely wrong I was and on how that would never work.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What are gay men up to? How not to find out

From Gay Star News comes this revelation:
[West Hollywood, California,] was crowned the country's most popular place for gay men looking for casual sex after users of dating website SeekingArrangement.com admitted to having 10 or more sexual partners over the past year.
How is that a representative data set? For those of you who don't know, and I'm guessing that most people have no reason to know, SeekingArrangement.com is a "sugar daddy" site, as described in The New York Times here. Also, the answers were from those who had chosen to answer the question. Thus, there are two levels of self-selection bias right there. Besides, who knows how honest the respondents were being?

That raises the question of how to get more reliable data. If more representative polling can be used, we should use that. If not, then why write the article at all? "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fabulous queer dating tip #26: Tell one thing, but show another.

Telling an obvious lie about your age or body shape is standard, but it doesn't end there. If you want to impress him with your wealth, take him to Burger King, and then argue with him over whether he gets to order dessert. Better yet, stiff him with the bill. If you want him to know what a genius you are, consistently misspell that word. Claim to be an expert on a certain topic, and then get basic facts wrong; if he asks you a simple question about that topic, change the subject. Yes, I've seen all of these things happen.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Calm down, Princess Clara: My thoughts on the Nevada marriage ruling

As you may know, a federal judge in Nevada has ruled against marriage equality in that state. The opinion shows the intellectual dishonesty that so often characterizes 'phobes. For example, the judge tries to distinguish the case at bar over Loving v. Virginia,, which struck down laws against miscegenation, in the following manner:
Here, there is no indication of any intent to maintain any notion of male or female superiority, but rather, at most, of heterosexual superiority or “heteronormativity” by relegating (mainly) homosexual legal unions to a lesser status. In Loving, the elements of the disability were different as between Caucasians and non-Caucasians, whereas here, the burden on men and women is the same. The distinction might be gender based if only women could marry a person of the same sex, or if only women could marry a transgendered person, or if the restriction included some other asymmetry between the burdens placed on men and the burdens placed on women. But there is no distinction here between men and women, and the intent behind the law is to prevent homosexuals from marrying.
Here the judge puts words into the Loving court's mouths, since he emphasizes an argument that the Loving court explicitly declined to consider:
Appellants point out that the State's concern in these statutes, as expressed in the words of the 1924 Act's title, "An Act to Preserve Racial Integrity," extends only to the integrity of the white race. While Virginia prohibits whites from marrying any nonwhite (subject to the exception for the descendants of Pocahontas), Negroes, Orientals, and any other racial class may intermarry without statutory interference. Appellants contend that this distinction renders Virginia's miscegenation statutes arbitrary and unreasonable even assuming the constitutional validity of an official purpose to preserve "racial integrity." We need not reach this contention, because we find the racial classifications in these statutes repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment, even assuming an even-handed state purpose to protect the "integrity" of all races.
The opinion also includes the following rant, which works best if you imagine that it is being read in a Princess Clara voice:
Should that institution be expanded to include same-sex couples with the state’s imprimatur, it is conceivable that a meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons would cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently, opting for purely private ceremonies, if any, whether religious or secular, but in any case without civil sanction, because they no longer wish to be associated with the civil institution as redefined, leading to an increased percentage of out-of-wedlock children, single-parent families, difficulties in property disputes after the dissolution of what amount to common law marriages in a state where such marriages are not recognized, or other unforeseen consequences.

An interesting admission

... from two sources not easily dismissed as having a libertarian bias, namely, The New York Times and the Sierra Club: The article Post-Storm Cost May Force Many From Coast Life discusses the effect of more expensive flood insurance on low- and middle-income beach dwellers and includes the following:
“The irony is, if we allowed market forces to dictate at the coast, a lot of the development in the wrong places would never have gotten built,” said Jeffrey Tittel, director of the Sierra Club’s chapter in New Jersey. “But we didn’t. We subsidized that development with low insurance rates for decades. And we can’t afford to keep doing that. Should a person who lives in an apartment in Newark pay for someone’s beach house?”
We can argue over how ironic* that is, but the point remains that allowing government do-gooding to eliminate price signals has achieved the wrong result.

*Cue a certain song by Alanis.

Monday, November 12, 2012

We've always defended traditional marriage from Eastasia.

Opponents of marriage equality used to like to say that marriage equality had never passed a popular vote in the United States. After this past Tuesday's election results, people remarked that those opponents had lost that talking point. In another forum, I responded that the opponents would quietly slip that talking point into the nearest memory hole and find another one.

The same week, an anti-marriage-equality pastor, the Rev. Derrick McCoy, associate pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, said of Maryland's Question 6,

Although people do not agree with same-sex marriage, they were deluged with ads about equality, which does not truthfully represent redefining marriage.
So here's the new talking point: Yes, Maryland's voters approved it, but they were hoodwinked. No, you may not ask how Rev. McCoy knows so much about others' inner lives or what "truthfully represent[s]" Question 6 if not equality.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An argument I think advocates of marriage equality should stress (2)

As I noted earlier,
we should decide the scope of secular marriage under secular principles rather than any particular church's interpretation of Scripture. This argument must be a strong one, since whenever I bring it up, the 'phobes immediately change the subject.
Now, it appears that the Second Circuit agrees with me. From the opinion:
But law (federal or state) is not concerned with holy matrimony. Government deals with marriage as a civil status--however fundamental--and New York has elected to extend that status to same-sex couples. A state may enforce and dissolve a couple’s marriage, but it cannot sanctify or bless it. For that, the pair must go next door.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My cafeteria Catholicism is better than your cafeteria Catholicism.

Supporters of Biden take Ryan to task, and vice versa, for picking and choosing which teachings of the Catholic Church to follow, while ignoring the fact that both they and their favored veep candidate do the same. In both cases, cafeteria Catholics criticize someone for, well, being one of them. Both sides also seem to think that when it comes to those Catholic teachings that they want to see written into secular law, the establishment clause somehow does not apply.

Meet the new philosophy, same as the old philosophy.

The recent exchange regarding the dreaded book logic got me thinking about a Biblical-literalist church of which I had once been a member. At that church, the pastor and deacons encouraged us to go beyond head knowledge to heart knowledge and were even fond of saying — and I quote verbatim — "Don't reason." The religious right and the politically correct left refuse to recognize any commonality, even when it's that glaringly obvious, and thereby confirm what I said here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

LGBT politics and libertarianism: Where is the love?

People often comment that libertarianism seems like a natural fit for LGBT people and express an inability to understand why more LGBT people do not see it that way. A recent study on the moral psychology of libertarians (press release here; full study here) sheds light on the disconnect. According to one finding in the study,
In combination with low levels of emotional reactivity, the highly rational nature of libertarians may lead them to a logical, rather than emotional, system of morality....

* * *

[W]e found strong support for our second prediction, that libertarians will rely upon emotion less – and reason more – than will either liberals or conservatives.

That is not exactly a good match for the hyperemotional approach to politics that characterizes the LGBT orthodoxy. If, as often thought, gay men tend to be especially emotionally expressive, and lesbians tend to be even more so, such emotionality sets up an inherent tension with a reason-based political philosophy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Paris who?

It appears that a previous decade's famous-for-being-famous said something stupid that revealed her to be a moralizing hypocrite. In other breaking news, water is wet, and ice is cold. These stories and others, tonight at 11:00.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I've learned a new politically correct snarl term.

From the recent exchange with an anonymous commenter, I've learned a new politically correct snarl term: "book logic." Now, whenever I'm losing an argument, I'll just shout, "Stop using your book logic on me!" Think it'll work before the board of appeals?

See also LGBT anti-rationalism.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bishop Harry Jackson tucks tail and runs (and in other news, water is wet).

Bishop Harry Jackson, known for bravely crusading against marriage equality in safe fora where no one will ask difficult questions, has backed out of a debate on that topic. His doing so has not exactly helped to overcome his reputation as an intellectual coward who tries to shield his statements from scrutiny as much as he can. One would think that he would fear the marketplace of ideas a little less, especially since the Almighty is supposedly on his side (Luke 21:15), but there you go.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Marriage equality for me, but not for thee

Advocates of "plural marriage" rights draw inspiration from the gay-rights movement, not that the latter approves:
Which is why it was so jarring when, about 20 minutes into the discussion he started dropping terms that were borrowed from another community that hasn't always gotten along with religious right: The gay rights movement.

"We made the decision as a family to come out," he said, at one point.

"All we want is our equal rights," he said, at another.

When finally asked whether he saw parallels between the gay marriage cause and his own, Darger didn't hesitate: "Definitely."

Gay rights advocates want nothing to do with the polygamists, having spent years batting down the right's argument that the freedom to marry could extend in unexpected directions. But to get polygamy decriminalized, Darger said he is modeling his strategy after the successes of that movement (which he supports on Constitutional principle). As part of the effort, he and his family are waging a public awareness campaign to demystify their lifestyle.
Commenters on Reason.com are taking gay activists to task for distancing themselves from advocates of equal rights for polygamous families and for effectively taking a stance of "equality for me, but not for thee." In my mind, those commenters have an excellent point. Absent a principled distinction, equality for me, but not for thee, is not equality at all. Also, as for whether acceptance of same-sex marriage will set us down the slippery slope to acceptance of polygamy, so what if it does?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why bother trying to understand science?

What's the point? As all right-thinking people know, science doesn't have nearly the relevance to the real world that postmodernism used to have and that the latest academic fad with "studies" in its name now has. So why learn about science? Todd Akin is a good reason why.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Is Paul Ryan a true Catholic? What if he isn't?

Many Catholics, including the bishops, are questioning whether Paul Ryan's political views agree with the teachings of the church. Others defend Ryan's views as authentically Catholic.

First, it appears that Catholicism in practice is whatever any Catholic wants it to be. I have only rarely heard a Catholic say anything to the effect of "Here's what I want to believe, but my Catholic faith teaches otherwise, so what can you do?"

Second, and more to the point, why should secular law follow anyone's view of what Catholicism, or any other religion, really teaches? What happened to non-establishment of religion?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thank you for your concern. Now stop "helping" us.

Now our supporters, by proposing government reprisals against Chick-fil-A, have made someone as loathesome as Dan Cathy a martyr for the First Amendment. Since this particular form of politically correct backfire has been going on for decades, you'd think that by now the left would have learned when to stop feeding the right's persecution complex.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Chick-fil-A, Amazon, and marriage

As you're presumably aware by now, the family that owns Chick-fil-A has donated millions of dollars to fight same-sex marriage, while the founder and CEO of Amazon.com has announced that he will donate millions to support it. Activists are cheering the Boston and Chicago politicians who want to make things difficult for Chick-fil-A. I think that the activists should not be so fast to cheer on those politicians.

First, there is the minor matter of the First Amendment. Second, there is the other minor matter of the iron rule, "Me today, you tomorrow." Who says that politicians in conservative communities will not try to take similar reprisals against Amazon, especially when history shows that conservative politicians are just as eager as liberal politicians to use the power of local government to punish thought crimes? While we disagree with what our opponents say, their right to promote their viewpoint is the price that we pay for our right to promote ours.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You didn't build that.

From that infamous Roanoke speech (source that is difficult to dismiss as right-wing spin):
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
How does that apply to those who are successful in left-wing politics? How does it apply to the few individual liberties about which the left still at least pretends to care? I'm getting a headache switching back and forth between "You didn't get there on your own" and "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul."

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 41 and 42

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.

41.
None of them want actual diversity; they want diversity in appearance, drug use, sexual partners, employment, etc. but NEVER in thought and speech. Never anything that actually matters or resembles reality for most people. In their sick pursuit of what is “alternative” they have turned their backs on basic truths about the human condition. And their “alternative” view and choices have become the mainstream for ... anyone else who doesn’t have ENOUGH PROBLEMS of their OWN. They want to HELP equalize everything and in doing so, alienate and ostracize anything that is not in lock-step with whatever fantasy equation they dreamed up about how the world SHOULD be but never actually CAN be without the loss of critical thinking and questions. Dissent is often at the heart of growth and creativity. They will NOT tolerate it.
42.
[in reference to gay men] We suggest they focus their energies on themselves by taking a more vocal position on NAMBLA, HIV/AIDS transmission and get Preparation H by the caseload. Or perhaps, for those less civic minded, how about putting on a pair of pants at parades and God forbid maybe a shirt? Nobody wants to smell or see them shoving their offensive nakedness in everyone’s faces....

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pat Robertson on the Bible and slavery



See also: How to read the Bible

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 40

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.

40.
[A woman considers the possibility of having a son will turn out to be gay.] I’m thinking about AIDS and anal prolapse and poppers making him retarded and no one thinking he’s attractive after he’s 30.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

We hate freedom of association, except our own.

Why do so many people regard politically correct queer activism as a nest of special pleading? For one thing, it often is. "Freedom of association" has long been a snarl term among those who believe that they have the right to participate in any gathering that they choose, despite the wishes of those who organized those gatherings in the first place. Sometimes, however, the Birkenstock is on the other foot, as with a radical feminist conference whose organizers sought to exclude transgendered people. The original venue declined to provide space for reasons relating to nondiscrimination:
In consultation with the organisers of RadFem 2012 and our legal advisors, Conway Hall has decided not to allow the booking in July 2012 to proceed. This is because it does not conform to our Terms and Conditions for hiring rooms at Conway Hall. In addition, we are not satisfied it conforms with the Equality Act (2010), or reflects our ethos regarding issues of discrimination.

We had sought assurances that the organisers would allow access to all, in order to enable the event to proceed at the venue. We also expressed concern that particular speakers would need to be made aware that whilst welcoming progressive thinking and debate, Conway Hall seeks to uphold inclusivity in respect of both legal obligations and as a principle.
Radfems were outraged by the slight against their freedom of association. Sorry, but if we want it for ourselves, we have to allow it to others.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quote of the week

"And speaking of hypocrisy, let's not even start on the Catholic Church and its apparent need to save the kids from gay marriage. This is only slightly more absurd than, say, taking dietary advice from the Cookie Monster." — Kevin Maher, The Times of London

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quote of the week

"The CofE, an institution founded by Henry VIII purely and simply to redefine marriage, is now claiming that such a thing is unthinkable." — tweet by GreenLibDems

Free speech and hate speech: Be careful what you wish for.

People in the politically correct left, in America and in other countries, often say that America goes overboard in protecting freedom of speech and that freedom of speech should sometimes bow to the need not to give offense. The real-world effect of implementing such a viewpoint can be seen here:
Angry Catholics have accused an Indian skeptic of blasphemy after he argued a dripping crucifix was caused by faulty plumbing rather than divine intervention, leaving him facing a possible prison term.

* * *

The legislation bans "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs" -- a rule Edamaruku believes runs counter to freedom of expression.
The argument that concerns over hate speech should outweigh the First Amendment is weak enough; the argument that they should do so only when we want them to is just nonexistent. People who want do-good control-freakery to trump the First Amendment should remember the iron law, "Me today, you tomorrow."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 39

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.

39.
In today's post-modern, queer-focused world, bisexuality is being promoted ... as the latest fashionable trend.

* * *

For a straight woman, having a girlfriend on the side is almost like having the latest Prada handbag.

* * *

I believe there is no gay (or for that matter bisexual) "gene[.]"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I wasted my time did my civic duty.

Yesterday, we had the primary election for city council. Since I did not want any of the candidates representing me, I eliminated the most heinous to arrive at six only moderately heinous candidates. Besides, I sometimes think I have more effect by writing letters to the editor than by voting, as when the city shelved a potentially disastrous development plan after I had been the only one to crunch some key numbers.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quote of, um, some time interval or another

"Something must be done about X (in this case, obesity). Y (in this case, an admittedly ineffectual ban) is something. Therefore Y must be done. This syllogism gave America Prohibition, mandatory-minimum sentences, the sentencing disparity between convictions for crack and powder cocaine, and that great guarantee of everyone’s security, shoe removal at airports." — Lexington, The Economist

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pariah

I've finally gotten around to seeing Pariah. What I like most about the movie is that it resists the temptation to set up Mary Sues and anti-Sues, but instead presents well rounded characters, imperfect human beings trying to make their way through an imperfect world. The devout mother is the most obvious candidate for villain, but she inspires sympathy for trying to do what she sincerely believes to be best for her daughter. Also, an initially sympathetic character turns out to be a spacy teenager who, like teenagers in general, has no idea of what she wants.

Do as we say, not as we do.

Here a lesbian blogged about her sexual exploration. In the comments, someone wrote:
I’m sort of divided on this issue. If we’re going to be consistent, we shouldn’t celebrate the same activity for which lesbians have long (correctly, IMHO) rebuked gay men.
The original blogger responded that she was "all for gay men having the sex," but another commenter responded (emphasis added):
I could care less what dudes do, of course they will mate like rabbits, they are MEN for pete’s sakes!

Who tells lesbians to be “consistent”? hets? We are humans, we eat, we laugh, we love, sometimes if we are fortunate, we get laid every now and then.
I will let that last comment, particularly the bolded part, speak for itself.

Why LGBT people should care about the war on soda

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to limit the size of sugar-sweetened soda servings, for your own good of course. While a Big Gulp is probably not one of the most basic human necessities, people who care about liberty for LGBT people should care about such nanny-statism. As I noted previously, restrictions on individual liberty "for your own good" do not work out well for us.

Today's vocabulary word: non-issue

non-issue, n. something that does not affect me personally

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My latest letter to the editor

Here:
Regarding the ombudsman’s May 20 column “Is The Post anti-Catholic?”:

I do not see how The Post’s obsequious coverage of religion could qualify as either anti-Catholic or anti-religion in general. Instead, I believe that in this age of right-wing political correctness, the religion card is the new race card.

People of faith often claim to be the victims of religious bigotry when someone presents facts or logical arguments for which they do not care. People have made that accusation against me when I have made arguments that they could not or would not rebut. Indeed, it has long been a punch line that such people complain about persecution and bigotry when called on their own persecution and bigotry.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quote of the week

"The Catholic Bishops never thought the monster they helped create would cease to obey their command." — Comment left by Brutus on Separating Church and State Money

But then, statists never do, do they?

Friday, May 18, 2012

What does The Washington Blade want to be when it grows up?

As I noted yesterday, "America's leading gay news source" is now "a National Corporate Partner of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force." (Conflict of interest? What's that?) Previous corporate identities of The Washington Blade include a fluffy suburban advertiser newspaper and the sort of "gay" newspaper that launched religious-right-style attacks against gay men at every opportunity. Here's a fun new idea for its next incarnation: Why not be the sort of publication that gives us enough information about serious topics, and in such a dispassionate manner, that we can feel comfortable that we can form an informed opinion about them?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Washington Blade: Watchdog or lapdog?

The legacy media have developed the disconcerting habit of jumping into bed with the very organizations whose activities they are supposed to be scrutinizing on our behalf. In the latest development, The Washington Blade, the LGBT community's "newspaper of record" (and heaven help us if that's actually the case), has announced a "strategic partnership" with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
WASHINGTON — The Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT newspaper, today announced it has become a National Corporate Partner of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The Blade becomes the sixth National Corporate Partner of NGLTF and joins Grey Goose Vodka, Showtime, Southwest Airlines, Chili’s Restaurants and Wells Fargo as National Corporate Partners.
It's one thing for a restaurant chain or bank to assume that role, but quite another for a newspaper that is supposed to keep tabs on LGBT activist organizations so that we can know whether they are representing our interests adequately.

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 38

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.

38.
He’s the Copy/Pasta Queeeen!
Only bothering to change the first word, and nothing else from the black civil rights stuff…

Quote of the week

"Cultural conservatives' moral concerns about marriage are based on a view of history that is almost entirely false." — George Monbiot

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 37

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.

37.
That's exactly what “HOOTERS” restaurant chain does—exploiting women's bodies for a profit.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quote of the week

“It is good to see that after intense political pressure that President Obama has finally come around to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality.” — Christopher Barron, GOProud

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Discussing same-sex marriage with the fundies

Yesterday, in a discussion of Obama's announcement, someone said to me, "Marriage has always been one man and one woman. Read the Bible." In addition to the toxic level of irony, that person just refused to listen when I tried to tell him what his own holy book actually says. Yes, I do so want you to run my life out of a book that you haven't read or, worse, about which you are willing to lie.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Amendment One in North Carolina

I have no comment on this, so instead, I'll just post a pretty picture that I found on the Internet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Concern troll is only concerned about your health, or: Be careful what you wish for.

The latest favor that the nanny-statists are doing for us is the war on obesity. Apparently, since we cannot be trusted to make the appropriate choices over our own bodies, the government needs to step in to prod and in some cases force us to do the right thing.

In addition to the basic issue of overriding people's choices over their own bodies, the war on obesity presents the further issue that we cannot empower government to do only what one side wants it to so. Homophobes love to trot out health concerns as a pretext for wanting to deny LGBT people the equal protection of the laws, and opponents of abortion rights engage in similar concern trolling about breast cancer.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Quote of the week

"[M]edical marijuana is far more popular than Obama is." — Rob Kampia, writing in The Washington Post on the Obama administration's hostility to medical marijuana

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quotes of the week

In a comment left on this article:
Enough of the LGBT blogs and major LGBT groups force-feeding us Obama and the 2party system.
Obama is GWB’s 3rd term in the assault on civil liberties, war, the drug war, drones, environmental destruction, and government secrecy + killing US citizens, supporting indefinite detention, and the attack on the internet.
By Glenn Reynolds:
SO WHAT MAKES BARACK OBAMA A “COOL KID,” EXACTLY?

The raids on marijuana clinics?

The opposition to gay marriage?

The drone attacks?

The Mom Jeans?

Just wondering. . . .

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This gives me guarded hope.

A Pew Research Center poll shows that Americans are becoming more freedom-loving on both gun rights and same-sex marriage:
Opinions about a pair of contentious social issues, gun control and gay marriage, have changed substantially since previous presidential campaigns. On gun control, Americans have become more conservative; on gay marriage, they have become more liberal.

Currently, 49% of Americans say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 45% say it is more important to control gun ownership. Opinion has been divided since early 2009, shortly after Barack Obama’s election. From 1993 through 2008, majorities had said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 4-15, 2012, also finds that the public is divided over gay marriage: 47% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 43% are opposed. In 2008, 39% favored and 51% opposed gay marriage, based on an average of polls conducted that year. In 2004, just 31% supported gay marriage, while nearly twice as many (60%) were opposed.
Support for abortion rights is also holding steady.

According to a Libertarian Party blog post, this means that Americans are moving in a more libertarian direction on the issues of gun rights and same-sex marriage. This is good as far as it goes, but since there are plenty of other issues, cries of "We won!" are premature.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Quote of the week

"I once shared a joint with a House staffer whose boss had recently proposed a piece of drug war legislation and an aide to a GOP presidential candidate; worked with a guy who bought his weed from the son of a congressman; and shared a bowl with a Democratic speechwriter." — Mike Riggs on pot smokers in D.C.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I just know.

There are certain things that I just know. I do not know them on the basis of evidence; rather, my just knowing transcends the whole concept of evidence. I just know that it does.

For example, I just know what certain cities, states, and countries are like, without having been there or even read up on them. I just know what consequences an action will have; if that action has always had different consequences before, I just know that things will work out differently this time. I just know that someone whom I have just glimpsed across the room is the one for me.

Moreover, in religion, I just know what God wants me to do and, more to the point, what God wants you to do. You needn't bother pointing out contrary passages in the holy book of the religion in which I claim membership. I just know which passages are a crystal-clear expression of God's eternal will, which have been superseded, and which need to be interpreted correctly. For the last category, I just know what the correct interpretation is.

Furthermore, I just know all relevant facts about you, even when my only contact with you is over the Internet. I just know your socioeconomic background, your appearance, and all relevant details of whatever parts of your history you choose to bring up. I also just know your inner identity and mental state and how those things came to be. Please don't waste your time telling me that I'm mistaken, since I just know that you're lying.

There is no point in providing evidence or logic to gainsay what I just know. When those things contradict what I just know, I just know that the evidence must have been misconstrued and that the logic must be flawed.

Finally, it will do no good to point out that other people, or even you, just know something mutually exclusive with what I just know. I just know that everyone else is just making stuff up. How do I know that what I just know isn't something that I just made up? I just know.

Today's vocabulary word: American

American, adj. having any characteristic that I don't like, regardless of actual country of origin; used by Internet arguers who cannot be bothered to check facts

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thoughts as tax day approaches

If we're going to have a Buffett rule, the threshold should be lower. If it's such a sin unto death for Warren Buffett to pay a lower effective rate than his secretary, why is it acceptable for Obama to do so as well?

Speaking of which, it should be illegal for the President, the Vice President, or any member of either house of Congress to use a paid tax preparer. Who do they think gave us the current tax code? If that tax code is good enough for us little people, it's more than good enough for them.

Living in the Washington area, I often hear that taxes shouldn't hurt. Why not? I'd like to see taxes collected in a lump sum, due on the day before each primary or general election. Maybe then people would have a better appreciation of the cost of the gourmet designer government that they crave.

Finally, if so many people think that the government is giving something to them just because they get tax refunds — which are, after all, payouts on zero-interest loans to the government — that just shows what a lost art critical thinking is.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quote of the week

"One of the anomalies of contemporary thought is that acceptance of Darwin's theory, which posits a brutally competitive, amoral, and goalless process of natural selection, has come to be identified with liberal political beliefs, while traditional Christianity, with its New Testament teachings about brotherhood, serving the poor, and turning the other cheeck, is equated with conservatism." — Christopher Clausen, Wilson Quarterly

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More evidence that the politically correct left is at heart conservative

This article on possible orgins of our political personalities sets forth the following moral concerns that characterize liberals and conservatives:
With my colleagues at YourMorals.org, I have developed Moral Foundations Theory, which outlines six clusters of moral concerns—care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation—upon which all political cultures and movements base their moral appeals. Political liberals tend to rely primarily on the moral foundation of care/harm, followed by fairness/cheating and liberty/oppression. Social conservatives, in contrast, use all six foundations. They are less concerned than liberals about harm to innocent victims, but they are much more concerned about the moral foundations that bind groups and nations together, i.e., loyalty (patriotism), authority (law and order, traditional families), and sanctity (the Bible, God, the flag as a sacred object).
That is, conservatives differ from liberals in that the former attach greater weight to loyalty, authority, and sanctity:
When I speak to liberal audiences about the three “binding” foundations—loyalty, authority, and sanctity—I find that many in the audience don’t just fail to resonate; they actively reject these concerns as immoral. Loyalty to a group shrinks the moral circle; it is the basis of racism and exclusion, they say. Authority is oppression. Sanctity is religious mumbo-jumbo whose only function is to suppress female sexuality and justify homophobia.
But consider the politically correct take on those three binding foundations. The P.C. crowd prizes loyalty to one's group; consider the importance of identity politics. As for authority, the movement has as a basic tenet "I know what's best for you and have the moral authority to impose it on you." Political correctness also has its own sanctity, in terms of its many shibboleths and taboos.

In short, political correctness does not reject loyality, authority, or sanctity, but instead embraces the right kinds of loyalty, authority, and sanctity. That is, rather than rejecting social conservatism, it embraces the right kind of social conservatism.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Going Galt from the Catholic Church

Joseph Amodeo describes his decision here:
In light of Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan's comments directed at the LGBT community, I resigned from the Executive Committee of the Junior Board of Catholic Charities. By this action, I seek not to disparage the work of Catholic Charities, but to voluntarily remove myself as a leader with an organization under the pastoral leadership of Dolan.
Good for him. I've been saying for a while that we need to withdraw the sanction of the victim from churches and other institutions that demonize us. I cut all ties with one such church in my early twenties, despite my close emotional identification with that church, and have never regretted having done so.

Marion Barry is sorry you feel that way.

Presented without comment.

Who has the lowest breakup rate: lesbians, heterosexuals, or gay men?

You know the answer already, right? The infallible dogmas that have been pounded into our heads over the last several decades have answered this question conclusively, right?

Maybe not. According to this:
In the UK, same sex couples can form legally recognized relationships, akin to marriages, and have had this right since the Civil Partnership Act came into effect in December 2005. Just like marriages these unions can be dissolved via a legal process similar to a divorce (which in the UK requires someone to be at fault).
The most recent evidence from the UK Office of National Statistics finds that homosexual couples that joined in 2005 were significantly less likely to have filed for dissolution four years later than heterosexual couples were to have filed for divorce: 2.5% compared to 5.5%.
As Hattersley points out, however, male couples were much less likely to dissolve their relationship than were female couples: By the end of 2010, 1.6 % of male civil partnerships had ended in dissolution compared to 3.3 % of female partnerships.
As you can see from both the article itself and the comments, everyone with an opinion proposes reasons — some backed by evidence, some not — for the different rates. Most amusingly, one commenter writes,
It is very clear from the social research that men like being taken care of, and do get taken care of in het relationships more than women. Women do more of the work. I suspect gay men are also in it for getting taken care of (what you are oversimplifying as "stability."
That comment makes gay male relationships sound like an Escher print.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to tell you've won an argument against a politically correct person

The radfem blog The Cotton Ceiling has a rather interesting take on etymology:
Cis. We’ve all heard it. Most women find the word offensive. Perhaps it’s because at some subconscious level women know there’s something creepy about the word? They’d be right. “Cis” comes from the Latin root meaning to “cut” or “kill.”
With this is mind, what do trans really mean when they call women cis-women or cis-females or cis-lesbians? They are literally saying, “cut and kill women/females/lesbians.”
A few commenters who were less than 100% ideologically pure tried to point out what we should have all learned in high-school chemistry, namely, that "cis" has another meaning. After the usual politically correct non-arguments, including appeal to ridicule and "La la la, I can't hear you," did not scare off those wrong thinkers, the gates came clanging down:
I will not be approving any more comments which argues that Cis means something other than what it does in order to appease trans and their woman-hating religion.
Another commenter used up the entire world output of irony for one year:
The reason [transgendered people] cannot get political analysis right is that it is based on fantasy and role-play. That’s what happens when you just make stuff up.
All that's missing is "I'll pray for you."

Friday, March 30, 2012

Quote of the week

"Just like the economist who predicted 10 of the last 4 recessions, commentators such as this have predicted the demise of the American dream every few years/decades on record. How has that turned out? Not too accurately, I propose. But, I guess only time will tell." — Jay V, commenting on this Financial Times article

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's not okay this time because it's your side that's doing it.

Judicial activism, the saying goes, is any court decision that you don't like. I've criticized conservatives for cherry-picking the judicial activism to which they object, so now it's liberals' turn.

In this column, E. J. Dionne excoriates the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court as “judicial activists” for wanting to strike down the individual mandate in health-care reform. Rather than deign to address their position on its Constitutional merits, he uses language that could have been copied and pasted from conservative screeds against liberal “judicial activists”:
[L]egislative power is supposed to rest in our government’s elected branches. * * * It was nice to be reminded that we’re a democracy, not a judicial dictatorship.
Regardless of your views of the individual mandate or of health-care reform in general, there is just no principled reason for defending Constitutional limitations on government power only when your team favors them.

Next Maryland poll result: Water is wet.

A poll on Marylanders' attitudes toward same-sex marriage includes the following geographic breakdown:
  • Baltimore city residents favor repeal of same-sex marriage with 49 percent opposing the law and 35 percent supporting it
  • Montgomery County is the most friendly in the state to same-sex marriage with 58 percent supporting the law
  • The Eastern Shore is the least supportive of same-sex marriage, with 72 percent wanting the law repealed
Given the strong correlation between level of education and support for marriage equality, the breakdown should surprise no one.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quote of the week

"It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept." — Bill Watterson

The story of so many people's lives

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How the profit motive advances LGBT equality

Politically correct leftists have told me that the free market offers no incentive not to discriminate against LGBT people and that only government has the answers. However, a study by the Center for American Progress reaches the following conclusion:
Employers who discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity put themselves at a competitive disadvantage to companies that treat their gay and transgender employees fairly and equally on the job.
Given that fact, you might think that businesses would recognize the incentive to treat us fairly even in the absence of government mandates, and you'd be right:
Unfortunately it remains perfectly legal in a majority of states to fire someone because they are gay or transgender. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and only 16 states and the District of Columbia have done so on the basis of gender identity.

* * *

In fact companies that don’t protect and support gay and transgender workers are increasingly out of step with most of corporate America. Fully 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 49 percent include gender identity. Higher up on the Fortune ladder, 96 percent of Fortune 50 companies have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 74 percent include gender identity.
That is, the Fortune 500 is well ahead of the states. Yet again, what "everyone knows" to be true and what is true differ radically.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Administrivia: New domain name

I've moved this blog to a new domain name (blog.heterodoxhomosexual.com), although the old one (heterodoxhomosexual.blogspot.com) should work indefinitely. The conversion process ate my blogroll, which I had to rebuild by hand from a cached copy of the blog. If you see any other glitches, please let me know.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Welcome to my echo chamber. You'll see it's just like your echo chamber.

Here's one thing that I've noticed about the extremes of the left and right, although I suppose that it applies to true believers of all sorts. They're so encysted in their own world views that not only do they not seem to see how any sane and decent person in possession of the facts could disagree with them, but they don't even recognize when someone is sending up their belief systems. I've found that in trolling contributing to sites as nominally diverse as Conservapedia and radfem blogs, I can say things that are the exact opposite of reality, as long as I phrase them to hit the right emotional notes, and the regulars, or sometimes even Andy himself, will accept and even defend what I say.

Religious right or P.C. left? Quotes 35 and 36

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.

35.
It’s disgusting that they’ve made in-roads into social acceptance as far as they have (pandering) but still they complain that everyone rejects them? News flash, dudes: human beings who have mental illnesses should seek appropriate mental healthcare, not try to FORCE their delusions on innocent strangers.
36.
America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography. A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences. Addiction to pornography is now common for adults and even for some children. The average age of first exposure to hard-core, Internet pornography is now 11. Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What's wrong with American political thought in one sentence

"It's a matter of what's in his heart," so who cares what the facts are, right? As I've noted previously here, whatever superficial differences the right and the left may have, they agree on the core principle that once the right people have expressed their feelings, mere reality is beside the point. "I feel it in my heart," they whine, and as the video shows, the analysis must go no further.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Today's vocabulary term: common sense

common sense, n. phr. whatever principle I just made up to prove my point; magic words to chant over inconvenient evidence to make it disappear

quote of the week

“You can never go wrong pandering to the prejudices of your editors.” — New York Times reporter Allen Myerson, quoted here

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to write about gay men

1. Set the right mood early on. In either the title or the opening paragraph, mention either "shades of gay" or some reference to night. The latter portrays gay men as like vampires, except not sparkly or appealing to teenage girls. You should make it clear early that gay men are mysteriously unique, uniquely mysterious, and not in any respect like people in general. To that end ....

2. Do not portray gay men looking or behaving normally. The gay men in your work should not do mundane things like going with their partners to an outlet mall in a suburb named after a prince to buy pleated chinos to fit their well upholstered midriffs. Definitely, do not state their occupation unless they are sex workers. Otherwise, people will start to think that you either don't know the Capital-T Truth about gay men or are sugarcoating it to advance the sodomite agenda of special privileges. As every right-thinking person knows, gay men do only mysterious gay male things, and they do them only in leather bars, bathhouses, or an inaccurately portrayed urban park. While not going into enough detail to challenge the "family-friendly" status of your publication, provide enough lurid details so that your readers can express indignation, fap to those details, or do some combination of the two. Speaking of which ....

3. Cover Pride Weekend correctly. When covering Pride Weekend, focus on the most flamboyant drag queens and the leather daddies. Ignore all of the gay men staffing the booths for professional or service organizations or the many booths and parade floats for religious organizations. Otherwise, people might start to think that gay men are almost like actual people, or even that they have lives outside of backroom bareback orgies, in which case you will have failed. For that matter, you need not go at all; since it is an indisputable fact that all pride parades are exactly like the Folsom Street Fair, there is not much point in actually going to the Lansing pride parade and seeing for yourself.

4. Paint with as broad a brush as possible. Don't treat gay men as individuals, and forget whatever you've been told about the dangers of outlying data points. Any gay man, or at least any gay man who does something of which you don't approve, instantly becomes all gay men, no matter how extreme his behavior may be in any objective sense. For example, if you can find a self-loathing meth head who has bareback sex with six strangers every day (ten on Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays), make him your star witness, and subtly imply that he represents all gay men. As a less extreme example, we read here:

Gay men are attracted to, essentially, themselves. No straight man wants to look like a woman (and certainly not the reverse) but gay men find what they are physically attracted to and often remake their bodies in the image of their ideal mate. Since society tells us to want muscle-bound athletes, that's what gays want, and that's what they make themselves look like in the pursuit of their ideal.
Don't worry about all of the counter-examples, such as gay men who like bears, twinks, or girly-boys in panties. In fact, counter-examples to whatever point you're trying to make just don't exist. Alternatively, you can hand-wave away counter-examples. For instance, in Paula Martinac's writing, gay men are "queer" or "LGBT" when they don't fit into her paradigm but, of course, are gay men the rest of the time.

5. It's all about special rights. Everything that any gay man could possibly want is a special right. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Special rights. Equal protection of the laws? A special right. The same freedoms that you zealously protect for yourself? Double-super-extra-special rights.

6. Be sure to bring up HIV. You usually don't have to use actual statistics about rates of HIV infection among either gay men or heterosexuals; your readers will get the point. If you feel that you must use statistics, just make them up; it's not as though anyone were about to fact-check you. Whatever you do, don't mention HIV and lesbians; in fact, Free Republic has wisely made it a bannable offense to mention HIV and lesbians in the same sentence.

7. For (a cherry-picked version of) the Bible tells you so. Be sure to bring up the Bible verses on homosexuality — just the ones on homosexuality, and definitely not the ones on such subjects as polygamy, rape, and slavery. Omit the minor detail that America is not a Jewish or Christian version of Iran, but is instead a secular republic with non-establishment of religion written into its Constitution.

8. You are the one to tell gay men's stories for them. IPU forbid they should get to do so themselves, especially since your readers will not understand (or, quite honestly, care) what (if anything) goes on in gay men's minds. If you absolutely have to let them speak for themselves, cherry-pick the most extreme example you can find (see #4 above).

9. Try not to express too much sympathy for your subject matter. Not appearing too pro-gay should be a much higher priority than responsible journalism. State that you disagree with all or part of the homosexual agenda. You need not bother explaining what the homosexual agenda is or what is wrong with it. For extra credit, point out what an ideologically pure liberal you are on every other subject. If you are a gay man, be sure to engage in stereotypical gay male self-flagellation. If you are a lesbian, assert that lesbians never exhibit the same bad behavior as gay men; when a gay man provides evidence to disprove your assertion, whine about how much gay men hate lesbians.

If, for some reason, you have to say something positive about gay men, pick some endearing but inconsequential pet homosexual, such as the queen who makes witty but superficial chatter with the ladies at the salon. You can thus show that gay men are just as amusing as a kitten chasing its own tail — and just as human and worthy of dignity and equal rights.

10. Rely on the fallacy of false balance. Portray every issue as being between two evenly balanced sides, no matter how far that portrayal is from the truth. Let an anti-gay spokesperson, no matter how much of a crackpot that person is, have the last word, and do not challenge anything that person says. Frame the argument such that the pro-gay side always has the burden of proof, preferably by an impossibly high standard.

Special note for Washington Blade columnists: In your case, writing about gay men is the easiest thing in the world. Just copy and paste from Conservapedia or some such source, and then use control-F to change "male homosexuals" to "gay men."

See also:


Shamelessly ripped off from How to write about Japan

Friday, March 9, 2012

Today's vocabulary word: absurd

absurd, adj. having the characteristics of other people's belief systems, as opposed to my own

Quote of the week

"In a secular nation, 'ARCHBISHOP SLAMS GAY MARRIAGE' should matter about as much as 'IMAM SLIGHTLY MIFFED ABOUT PET LICENCES.' " — Hugo Rifkind, The Times of London

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Quote of the week(ish)

"The basic problem is the collective ownership of rural land. The thing is that the collective doesn't exist. Actually it's just disguised government ownership, or ownership by officials." — Xiao Shu (emphasis added)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How consistent is your view of religion?

In case you want to find out, here is a 17-question quiz:
In this activity you’ll be asked a series of 17 questions about God and religion. In each case, apart from Question 1, you need to answer True or False. The aim of the activity is not to judge whether these answers are correct or not. Our battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you’ll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you’ll be forced to bite a bullet.
I managed to get through without taking any hits or biting any bullets.

If a church denies us communion ...

... we should deny it the sanction of the victim. By now, you've likely heard of this:
Deep in grief, Barbara Johnson stood first in the line for Communion at her mother’s funeral Saturday morning. But the priest in front of her immediately made it clear that she would not receive the sacramental bread and wine.

Johnson, an art-studio owner from the District, had come to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg with her lesbian partner. The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo had learned of their relationship just before the service.

“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’ ” she recalled Tuesday.
I won't get into whether Ms. Johnson, Fr. Guarnizo, or both acted inappropriately under Catholic canon law or whether the Archdiocese of Washington did the right thing by apologizing to her. I will say, however, that by caring whether a church will let us partake of its sacraments or ordinances, we give it a power over our lives that it neither necessarily has nor deserves to have. Instead, it makes more sense for all concerned if we shake off the very dust from our feet. While I don't lightly agree with a source like this, he has a point when he writes the following:
4. * * * If you don't like the Catholic church, don't become Catholic and don't come to our Mass and other events. Isn't that what you tell those who oppose abortion (Don't get one.)?

5. Please remember, no one forces you to be a Catholic or take Communion in our Churches. If you do, then you should respect our requirements. I have been to churches and synagoges for funerals, weddings and other occassions. I will stand, sit and even kneel when it is appropriate. I will not say their prayers or receive their "communion." I will not make a scene when they say or do something that I do not agree with. It is their faith, and that is fine with me. I am there as a guest.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

An argument I think advocates of marriage equality should stress

I've commented here and here on arguments that I wish advocates of marriage equality would stop using, but there's one that I don't think they use often enough. Since opponents of marriage equality tend to use religion as a reason, or at least a pretext, we need to emphasize that at least here in America, as opposed to Iran, our Constitutional rights include freedom from establishment of religion, so that we should decide the scope of secular marriage under secular principles rather than any particular church's interpretation of Scripture. This argument must be a strong one, since whenever I bring it up, the 'phobes immediately change the subject.

In this regard, The Washington Post characterizes the view of anti-marriage-equality pastors thus:
But Thomas and the 77 other Baptist ministers in the association do not see same-sex marriage as a civil rights matter. Rather, they say, it is a question of Scripture, of whether a country based on Judeo-Christian principles will honor what’s written in Romans or decide to make secular decisions about what’s right.
Apart from the seriously question-begging reference to "a country based on Judeo-Christian principles," I agree completely with this framing of the issue, and under the First Amendment, the answer should be clear.

Enlightened self-interest should lead the pastors to the same conclusion. Do they seriously want the government to be the final arbiter of the correct interpretation of "what's written in Romans" or any other part of the Bible? What would they do if the government granted itself that authority and then took a position directly contradictory to theirs?

Say it isn't so, Ezra Klein.

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post, in a column on political flip-flopping, notes,
[Politicians are] trying to win elections, not points for intellectual consistency.

* * *

Flips and flops like these make the labels “left” and “right” meaningless as a descriptor of anything save partisanship over any extended period of time.

* * *

Parties — particularly when they’re in the minority — care more about power than policy.

* * *

But the voters who trust the parties don’t know that, and they tend to take on faith the idea that their representatives are fighting for some relatively consistent agenda. They’re wrong.
Gosh oh golly, who'd ha' thunk it? When I was a College Republican, I attended a CR conference at which Maryland's leading Republican politician flatly stated that Republican politicians didn't believe their own talking points about smaller government; that was just something to tell the unwashed masses. Team Blue was no better; Baltimore City Democrats and Montgomery County Democrats took just about opposite positions on economic development and job creation. Since then, politicians like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have often come across as satires of the opposite party's dream candidate.

Quote of the week

"Anyone who honestly recalls the 1970s, with Watergate, Vietnam, stagflation and the energy crisis, cannot really believe that our present difficulties are unrivalled." — Robert Kagan, writing in The Times of London

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stuff gay men supposedly like: 20. The Oscars

Kathi Wolfe of The Washington Blade has written an article arguing that the Oscars are our Super Bowl. As of this writing, every comment is from a gay man, vehemently denying it. In my circle of gay friends, at least, people discuss the real Super Bowl, but never the Oscars.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Quote of the week

"He was no longer sure, he had in fact never been sure, whether he liked his life because he really did or whether he liked it because he was supposed to." — "Ceiling," Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why companies can be bolder than politicians on same-sex marriage

While "corporation" is currently one of the obligatory snarl words, an article posted today on the Web site of Financial Times posits the following reason why the private sector can move ahead of politicans on recognition of same-sex marriage:
I think there is a deeper reason. If you work with people every day, it doesn’t seem right that some of their partners benefit from their health and pension plans while others don’t. And once you accept that same-sex partners should have workplace equality, what justification can there be for denying them the legal blessing and protection available to married heterosexuals? Even if you had religious objections, how easy would you find it to defend them while looking one of your gay colleagues in the eye?
Perhaps, but I noted some different reasons back in 2000:
First, an inherent feature of politics is winner-take-all majoritarianism. The private sector has no such limitation. Thus, while an anti-gay voter initiative cannot simultaneously succeed and fail, both ''Will and Grace'' and Dr. Laura Schlessinger can find audiences on the airwaves.

Second, while a state government can forbid gay marriage for no better reason than to satisfy irrational bigotry, the private sector cannot afford such a move. It is therefore no surprise that domestic-partner benefits are old news in the corporate world ....
Either way, we need to move beyond the simplistic, but oh so P.C., mantra that "corporate is conservative."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to tell you've won an argument against a member of the religious right

The joke used to be that when you won an argument against a member of the religious right, that person would respond, "I'll pray for you." Now it's the more aggressive "You're persecuting me for my faith!" I've had that one used on me a few times, and I've made it my new catchphrase in an ironic sense.

We've made a slight addition to our Two Minutes Hate.

Radfems, in their ceaseless quest for new things to hate, have discovered libertarianism. It seems that "libertarian" is their new favorite smear against transgendered people, as seen here, here, and here. The fact that those radfems get so worked up over transgendered people's desire to control their own lives, so much that they have adopted "libertarian" as a swear word, speaks volumes about those radfems' interest in anyone else's right to make choices over their own bodies.

Quote of the week

Monday, February 6, 2012

Religious right or P.C. left? Quote 34

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.
Also, “gender neutral bathrooms” force [women] to relieve themselves in space with males.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Quote of the week

'The last time the state [of New Jersey] held a referendum on civil rights was 1915, when a majority voted “no” on granting women the right to vote.' — The New York Times

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to reach the reachable

People are discussing this study showing a correlation between low IQ in childhood and racism in adulthood, but the following nugget in the article seems to be receiving less attention:
People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays.
Besides perfectly explaining the comments left on gay-related articles on The Washington Post's Web site, this observation should give some insight into good ways to approach fence-sitters. Since not everyone is reachable, we should tailor our arguments to those most likely to accept them, including those who are good at abstract reasoning. In other words, we should downplay the emotion-driven twaddle that all too often accomplishes nothing but making us look bad.

Quote of the week

Newark Mayor Cory Booker on putting equal rights to a majority vote: "Frankly, I wouldn’t be where I am today."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Making your case: You're doing it wrong.

The argument over alleged gay male racism is a specific case of something that I've seen happen all too often, namely, the sort of argument in which only one side presents evidence, while the other side presents speculation, appeals to emotion, and "Because I said so." We've all seen arguments like that, such as arguments over school funding in which only one side presents funding statistics and arguments over the Bible in which only one side provides direct quotations in context.

If evidence exists that fairly supports your position, cite it already. On the other hand, if the evidence genuinely supports only one side, what are you doing on the other side?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Shiny mirror is shiny.

Corey Robin has been quoted as setting forth the one essential idea of conservatism “that some are fit, and thus ought, to rule others.” Do you know who else cleaves to that one essential idea? That one essential idea, far from defining conservatism qua conservatism, instead shows the essential philosophical unity of the control-freak right and the control-freak left.

Quote of the week

"American society tries to enforce good behaviour through the institutions of marriage, church and prison. This doesn’t work well." — Simon Kuper, Financial Times

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Newt Gingrich, culture warrior

Newt Gingrich is serious about living his life in accordance with traditional and Biblical family values. Really. It's just that traditional and Biblical family values happen to include polygyny and concubinage.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The "allowance from my rich parents" view of the economy

One thing I've noticed both in the current debate about waterfront development in Alexandria and in discussions with LGBT lefties is that many people have what I call an "allowance from my rich parents" view of the economy. Such people seem to assume that because wealth just happened to some people, wealth just happens, so that we do not need to generate wealth before redistributing it or otherwise spending it on our pet projects. In other words, there is no point in asking where the rich parents got their money; just as it's turtles all the way down, it's trustafarians all the way back.

Quote of the week

A. Barton Hinkle on the Republican contenders:
This year’s presidential candidates span the political spectrum. They are both pro-abortion and anti-abortion. They have both embraced and opposed bans on assault weapons. They have both accepted and rejected the idea of human-induced climate change, both promoted and derided a government takeover of health care, supported both amnesty for illegal aliens and building a giant wall on the border.

And that’s just Mitt Romney.

Today's vocabulary word: cynical

cynical, adj. observant

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The "gay men are racists" meme

The old meme of gay male racism is making the rounds again. According to this meme, the fact that gay men have preferences in terms of sexual or romantic attraction shows the prevalence of racism among gay men. The idea that preferences in sexual or romantic attraction automatically translate into racism seriously begs the question, but let's assume arguendo that it's true. The meme still depends on the standard politically correct "proofs": bald assertions, sweeping generalizations from cherry-picked anecdotal evidence, a pretended ability to read other people's minds, and appeals to one's own emotions.

Now let us see what the actual evidence says. This article discusses racial and ethnic selectivity among men who have sex with men in San Francisco, and people who know it only from blog posts about it cite it as proof of gay male racism. Yet the discussion section of the article states,
We also wish to point to the quite high level of interracial partnering in our sample. Overall, 46% of partnerships described were interracial. Moreover, the interpretation of racism would be unfair without comparable data from other populations. While population-based data on the race/ethnicity of sexual partners are rare, the US Census estimated around 2% of marriages were interracial from 1970 through 1992 (US Census Bureau 1998). More recent estimates raise this to only 7% (Cary 2007). While same sex marriage is currently illegal in California, therefore precluding truly comparable figures for MSM, these estimates are many-fold lower than the interracial partnering we observed in our study.
When the evidence contradicts the conclusion, it's time to rethink the conclusion.

I am not claiming that no gay men are racists or that preferences never arise from racism; after all. I am saying that if we constantly search for things by which to be offended, we can blind ourselves to what is actually happening.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Who do you suppose is better on civil liberties: Obama or Paul?

According to ACLU Liberty Watch, which can hardly be dismissed for biases that would lead to such a conclusion, it's Ron Paul. Of the ranked presidential contenders, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and Barack Obama were in the top three, with 21, 18, and 16 points, respectively.

I have issues with the ACLU's understanding of civil liberties, especially when that understanding involves an asserted right to taxpayer funds. Still, the results do not exactly look good for Obama if Paul, so often portrayed in the mainstream media as the evil king of the knuckle-draggers, beat him.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quotes of the week

Gojira, commenting on an article on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's challenge to her state's voter-approved medical-marijuana law:
[B]oth TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE have an ardent belief in democracy...until the proles vote wrong, and then they have to be smacked down. Can't trust The People™ to make the right decisions when it comes to existential galaxy-destroying evils like MJ.
A response by someone posting as "Congress":
If you people were stupid enough to elect us then obviously you can't be trusted to make the right decision.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I could have told you that. Oh, wait; I did.

Wayne Besen writes in The Huffington Post that an LGBT protest against a Catholic cardinal's bigoted views could prove to be a PR disaster:
[Cardinal] George can still escape from his self-inflicted bind if the LGBT community overplays its hand. This issue exploded after George went on Fox News Chicago and said that the gay-rights movement was at risk of morphing "into something like the Ku Klux Klan, protesting in the streets against Catholicism."

On the cusp of victory, Chicago LGBT activist Lair Scott called for -- you guessed it -- a protest in the streets of Chicago against the Catholic Church. The demonstration will occur during Sunday mass at the seat of the Chicago Archdiocese. Lair is best known for his controversial Change.org petition demanding that PBS "Let Bert and Ernie Get Married on Sesame Street."

* * *

I am sure that both organizations comprehend the gravity of this situation and understand the global ramifications if events spin out of control. While Cardinal George is fully responsible for sacrificing himself at the altar of idiocy, poor choices by the LGBT community could sadly lead to his unlikely resurrection.
This is hardly a revelation to me. As I've already noted, we cannot afford the luxury of either alienating the fence-sitters or venting our anger just for the sake of doing so. I made that observation in 1990 (and provoked an ACT UP bigwig to shout me down), and the PC crowd still isn't getting the message.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Political correctness explained in one sentence (2)

From here:
I can feel right and wrong and thus live that rightness that I feel before I can actually fill in the blanks as to how/why I reached the conclusion that I have.
Way to refute the point that I made here. Also, if you've tried arguing with people who think in that fashion, you know that it does no good to point out that other people "can feel right and wrong" and have come to radically different conclusions. Finally, this.