Thursday, September 30, 2010

The other victims of the bully.

Above is a news report with Asher Brown's parents. Asher's parent, his family, his friends, were also all victims of the bullying that was going on because Asher was gay.

The school continues to claim that no one reported the bullying to them and that they are blameless. Rot! Here is a video of a girl from Asher's class talking about what happened at school. She tells of the incident where one kid kicked Asher down the stairs. She also recounts listening to students in her school saying: "It's about time he killed himself." Yet, even as she laments what happened she can't ever bring herself to say he was being attacked for being gay. She merely mentions his religion.

There is something that I wish to say, but I hesitate. I hesitate because I don't wish to cause any more pain to those suffering due to the series of untimely deaths. But I wish to speak about the role of specific religious beliefs and how they encourage both the bullying and the suicides.

In one recent case, and I won't name names, the mother of the dead boy seemed to be denying her son was gay. She was very reticent about the issue and avoided it like the plague. Numerous kids from her son's school admitted that the boy had been harassed for being gay. Many of these kids seemed to know the boy was gay, but the mother said nothing about it. Where other parents of victims were enfuriated and spoke out publicly about the bullying, she was silent and said nothing, asking merely for her privacy—which is her right.

I wondered what was happening in the dynamics of that family. Then I learned that they made the funeral arrangements through a fundamentalist, anti-gay church. This church openly says it is anti-gay in its statement of faith. In between all the doctrines about supernatural claims and such they say they oppose "all forms of sexual immorality" including "homosexuality." Given the vicious anti-gay denomination that this church is part of, I am confident that the boy in question heard many anti-gay remarks from his own church, perhaps from his own family. Perhaps this is why the mother says she doesn't want anyone looking for who is to blame for the bullying.

This is a touchy area but it has to be said that many of these kids are not just bullied at school for being gay. But they can't get support from their own families either because of the religious doctrines that these people stupidly adopted. I had a dear, close friend who was gay and who killed himself shortly after graduating high school. I remember having to make the decision NOT to go to the funeral because it was being held in a fundamentlist church, where I knew there was a good chance the minister wouild make remarks that I would not tolerate. Instead of going, and risking making a scene by calling out such remarks when they were made, I stayed home and mourned.

Of late I have been contemplating the negative role that religion has on children. Now not all religions are equally bad, of course. The fundamentalists, in any major religion, are usually the worst of the lot. So it is with Christians as well.

When individuals join these sects they rarely think long term. They may imagine have children, always the perfect children that everyone expects. What they get instead are little human beings who are far from perfect and certainly individuals who fall well shor tof what fundamentalism expects. Few of these parents consciously consider that they may end up being the parent of a gay boy or a lesbian. Those who consider it due to circumstance tend to repress it and consciously refuse to think about it. The mother of the one victim seems to fit that pattern. The most she admitted was that her son was "different" and that he knew he was.

If the family is involved with this church, and it would appear they are since they chose it for the funeral, did they even consider the role that church might have played in the suicide of their son?

Here is a boy dealing with his own sexual orientation but who could well have listened to sermons describing gay people as moral monster out to destroy the world. No doubt this church actively opposed equality of marriage rights for gay people. This boy would have sat in the pews listening to the people that he was told spoke for God, telling him that he is evil, that he is immoral, that is doomed to hell, that he is, as the Bible says, "worthy of death."

Could he come home and talk about the trauma of his bullying? Probably not. If he couldn't tell his mother he was gay, though the whole school semed to know it, how could he tell her he was being bullied for being gay? He might love her deeply, and all indications are that he did, but could he bring himself to tell her the truth when he knew the truth would disappoint her so deeply. It is easier to repress and hide the facts than to risk losing the love of his mother. And if his mother expressed views similar to those of their church he would always have doubts as to whether or not she could love him if she knew the truth.

Over and over fundamentalist Christians have had to face the truth of having gay children. And more often than not they have proven that religion turned them in shitty parents. Fundamentalist parents routinely reject their gay children. Kids who have told their parents they were gay have been kicked out of their homes. Fundamentalist parents have thrown their children out, knowing full well that it may force their son, or daughter, to live on the streets, to prostitute themselves in the hope of being able to eat, or to eat garbage from trash cans. Prominent fundamentalists have done this to their children. Kids who were gay have had their college tuition confiscated by their parents to punish them for their sin.

Put yourself in the place of these gay kids. At school they are picked on for being gay. In church they hear that they are evil and worthy of death. At homes their parents spit out the words queer or faggots, implying that there is nothing worse in the world than a gay person. Everywhere they look their is only rejection.

Other kids at school hear the same things and repeat them to this gay kid. Maybe they physically assault them. Most the gay people I know were assaulted in school, one time or another, because they were gay. They can't tell their fundamentalist parents because they fear rejection from them. They can't talk to their homophobic minister who has regularly consigned them to hell fire for eternity. Is it any wonder that so many of these kids decide they would rather die?

I'm an atheist, I think religion is inherently irrational, a fantasy that people use so as not to face the difficult task of thinking. But some religions are more toxic than others. It is one thing when adults choose to join a irrational, bigoted, hateful sect. But routinely they bring children into the world and inflict that religion on those children, often with very tragic circumstances. Religion is part of the problem. It is not the entire problem and admittedly some atheists can be bigots as well. But surveys show that the religious tend to be more prejudiced than the non-religious and fundamentalits tend to be the most hateful of all. If you simply can't give up the illusion of a supreme being then at least pick a sect that isn't likely to impose self-hatred upon your children.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Rat Comes Out of His Hole.

Andrew Shirvell, the anti-gay bigot who is obsessed with a gay college student and spends his spare time harassing the boy, has come out of his hole. Last night CNN's Anderson Cooper reported on Shirvell's obsession and interviewed Shirvell. Here is the clip of that encounter.

This blog covered this story two weeks ago, but I've noticed CNN is often slow on stories like this. Cooper's take is sufficient but a bit short on details, in order to give Shirvell time to try to defend himself. For more information on exactly how obsessive and hateful Shirvell has been read our original story.

Remember Shirvell is a fundamentalist Catholic. He's more Catholic than the Pope. But, like the Pope, he is obsessed with attacking gay people. So far, unlike the Pope, he hasn't tried to blame the Catholic-priest-child-abuse epidemic on gay people. But Shirvell's obsession goes back for years. Sort of like the anti-gay attacks of people like George Recker, Bishop Long, and Ted Haggard. I wonder who is lifting Shirvell's luggage?

In one article from 2005 Shirvell was attacking the New York Pizza Depot in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The pizzaria offended Shirvell because it had a rainbow flag sticker on display. Shirvell says the flag is offensive because it represent radical homosexuals. He claimed that the pizzeria told him that the gay community "forced" them to display it after some altercation. He said they "had to put up the rainbow flag decal in order to appease the homosexuals." But the man Shirvell claimed told him this denies they ever had that conversation and said it simply wasn't true. Apparently Shirvell has been lying about gay people for some years now. The difference today is that is obsession is focues entirely on one young man who has done nothing to Shirvell.

Personally I suspect Shirvell would rather bed the young man but two things stand in his way: 1) his own fantatical Catholicism; and 2) the young man probably doesn't go dumpster diving for his sexual partners.

Given that two teenage boys killed themselves in the last few days I want to personally call out Andrew Shirvell for contributing to the sort of hatred that encourages anti-gay bullies in the schools. Shirvell and his ilk encourage hatred and teach it to children. Those children, like Shirvell, then turn their attention to some victim and inflict misery on them without stop, as Shirvell is trying to do with this college student. Because of this anti-gay bullying two teens, who were alive only days ago, are now dead.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another dead kid, thanks to hate.

Asher Brown, left, was just 13-years-old. A few days ago he took a pistol to his head and killed himself. He was the unrelenting victim of anti-gay bullies. He attended Hamilton Middles School, in Cypress, Texas, just outside of Houston.

When Asher's step-father, David Truong, returned home from work he found the boy. "I thought he was laying there reading a book or something. My son put a gun to his head because he couldn't take what he was hearing and the constant teasing." Shortly after the boy's mother, Amy, returned home to find the police and discover that her boy was dead.

Fox News reports: "The Truongs say over this past summer, Brown [Asher] confided in them that he was gay. The paper says: "Facebook is now full of condolences for the 13-year-old student. An outpouring of love from his peers over his death. Love he obviously did not feel in life."

Asher, according to Houston Chronicle, regularly "had been called names and endured harassment from other students." Because of this he "stuck with a small group of friends who suffered similar harassment from other students."

Reports say that boys grabbed Asher in gym class and forced him to pretend that he was having sex with them. In an incident that took place the day before his death, Asher was walking down the stairs at school when a boy purposely tripped him. Asher fell down the stairs to the next landing. His books were scattered on the landing. The other boy then came down and kicked the books down the next flight of stairs. He did the same to Asher as well.

Kelli Durham, a spokeswoman for the school district, simultaneously claimed that this incident was investigated but also claimed the school had no idea the boy was being bullied. The Chronicle reports: "Durham said that incident was investigated, but turned up no witnesses or video footage to corroborate the couple's claims." Elsewhere, the same article reports she said, "no students, school employees or the boy's parents ever reported that he was being bullied." So, if no one reported the bullying then exactly how were they able to "investigate" an incident they didn't know about?

Amy Truong couldn't believe the claims: "That's absolutely inaccurate—it's completely false. I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up... It's like they're calling us liars." The Chronicle reported that students and parents left messages at the Fox News site stating "that the boy had been bullied by classmates for several years and claimed Cy-Fair ISD [Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District] does nothing to stop such harassment."

The boy's mother said: "It has to stop. I don't want any other family to have to go make funeral arrangements like I did for my son. He wasn't supposed to die at 13."

Yes, it has to stop. But it won't. At least it won't until every anti-gay bigot out there knows that their view are "not okay." I am not saying ban their speech, I am saying we have to condemn it. I don't give a flying-fuck if you think that you are channeling Jehovah, Jesus or Allah, when you express your hatred for gay people. You can take your holy book and shove it, for all I care. Kids are dying, damn it. Can't you get it through your thick skull that your religion is teaching your kids to hate other kids. And that those other kids go home and kill themselves.

In just the last few weeks I had to report on Seth Walsh, (left) 14, of Tehachapi, CA, who hanged himself from a tree in his family's yard. Seth was harassed for being gay. UPDATE: Sadly I must report that Seth died yesterday. Billy Lucas, (left) 15, of Greensburg, Indiana, went into the family's barn, to be with his horse. It was there he hanged himself. He was bullied and attacked for supposedly being gay. Justin Aaberg (right), 15, of Anoka, Minnesota, was gay, he was bullied, and he too, is now dead because of it. Three other students in his school district, according to various sources, recently killed themselves as well, because of anti-gay harassment.

Yet, during the mourning period for Justin the Catholic Church mailed out over 1 million anti-gay DVDs to their members, to fight gay couples being give equality of rights. As if that corrupt, vile institution has any moral standing any more. When priests rape kids they cover it up, when two adults of the same gender love one another however, they are deeply offended.

An example of the sort of hatred that gay teens face comes from Justin's own school district. Two teachers Diane Cleveland and Walter Filson "are accused of repeatedly harassing one of their students because they thought he was gay." Yes, I said they were teachers.

Jaheem Herrera (left) didn't even make it to his teens. He was eleven years old! The student from Dunaire Elementary School in DeKalb, Georgia went home and took a belt and hanged himself in his closet. His mother said: "He used to say Mom they keep telling me this... this gay word, this gay, gay, gay. I'm tired of hearing it, they're telling me the same thing over and over." Jaheem's mother, like many of the other parents of dead children, said she reported the bullying to the school but they refused to do anything about it. Instead it "just got worse and worse and worse." The morning of his death he didn't want to go to school again. When he came home that afternoon he gave his report card to his mother—it was good—and went upstairs. His younger sister discovered him, she grabbed her brother and tried to lift him up to prevent the belt from strangling him, while screaming for help. It was too late. School officials tried to claim that when other students were bullying the boy as "gay" that what they really meant was that he was "happy."

Carl Walker-Hoover (right), was in sixth grade. He too was just 11-years-old. He was relentlessly attacked by other kids for being gay. His mother, like most the other parents referred to here, reported the attacks to the school, New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, MA. He also hanged himself when he couldn't take it any longer. The Boston Globe editorialized that "an act so desperate by one so young is a clear reminder of how schools can become torture chambers for students perceived as different."

Below is a memorial video that was produced to honor Justin Aaberg, The music you will hear is a recording of Justin playing the cello. While it was created for Justin, I don't think those who created it will mind if it acts as a memorial for all these kids, victims of the anti-gay prejudices that are pushed by the Religious Right and the Republican Party. Never, never, never, let one of these bastards ever get away with the fraudulent claim that they are "doing it for the kids." They are doing it to the kids. Never forget that.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Can a Stalinist experiment go right?

One of the more bizaree ledes I've come across in recent memory is from The Independent, a left-leaning paper in England. David McNeill writes a "special report" on "Face to face with the world's most repressive regime."

The lede is: "Pyongyang is the showcase capital for a Stalinist experiement gone horribly wrong."

What exactly would be a Stalinist experient that went right?

This is comparable to some Right-wing paper discussing a "Nazi experiment that went horribly worng." The idea that this has gone "horribly wrong" implies that there is a kind of Stalinism, or by implication, Nazism, that could get it right. If a Right-leaning newspaper had said something similar of Adolph's regime would it be overlooked? But then the Left has always had a fondness for Uncle Joe.


Crappy reporting sells but is it journalism?

I've seen this story making the rounds of the major media outlets. I specifically remember the Washington Post making this claim, and now Time magazine does as well. The claim: "Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 1 in 5 sexually active gay and bisexual men in America are HIV-positive but that 44% of them don't know it."

What's wrong with that claim? Simple: It isn't true. This is not what the CDC said. But once the media starts spreading a false story they all tend to jump in line and do the same thing. Time is repeating the falsehood that the Washington Post started: "One in five gay men in the United States has HIV and almost half of those who carry the virus are unaware that they are infected..."

In both articles, with the sensational false claim in the first paragraph, you have to start reading down the article to discover facts that dispute the lede of the story.

The original claim is that 20% of all gay men across the US are HIV positive. But farther down the story you discover that the CDC tested 8,000 gay men in 21 major cities only. In other words the demographics of the test population was skewed to the major cities only, thus excluding all the gay men who live in rural areas or the suburbs.

Quite honestly speaking the lifestyle of gay men in urban areas is vastly different than that of gay men living on a farm in Kansas—just as the lifestyle of young straights in the major cities is different from their counterparts in the rest of the country.

You simply can not draw nation-wide conclusions by only surveying a very specific subset of the population.

One of the major differences is that the average age of people living in major cities, among the gay population at least, would tend to be younger and thus more sexually active. Living in a major city is not unusually for gay men, but many tend to move out of the cities as they age. Many, contrary to popular assumptions, never move to a major urban area in the first place. In addition the risks are not spread equally among all races. HIV infections are higher in the black community than in the white community and blacks are more likely to live in major cities than are whites.

Everything about this study skews it toward the highest infection possible. But the CDC is not to blame, that is what they were studying. It is the sloppy reporting of the media that is creating a false meme that the Right will use in their anti-gay campaigns. The CDC actually warned readers of the report that "these findings are limited to men who frequented MSM-identified venues (most of which were bars [45%] and dance clubs [22%])...."

By MSM they mean men who have sex with other men. The CDC found that a lot of men who are sexually active with other men deny that they are gay—this has been especially true in the black community—just ask Bishop Long if you don't believe me.

That reveals that not only is the sample intentionally skewed toward urban settings, but it is also skewed to a specific subgroup of urban gay men—those who frequent bars and dance clubs. Again this skews in favor of younger, single, more sexually adventurous young men. Older gay men in relationships, who rarely visit the clubs, are left out.

This one in five infection rate isn't even indicative of gay men in 21 major cities. Don't bother reading the mainstream media to find that out. The articles I read left out the part of the survey being done in gay bars and dance clubs. So, while they did mention the survey was done in 21 major cities, they left out that only a very specific subgroup of gay men were approached for the study: younger men who frequent gay bars and dance clubs.

To say that what is true for young gay men who frequent gay bars is true, on average, for all gay men in the United States is not just sloppy journalism, it is gross misreporting of the facts. This would be similar to surveying a frat house keg party in order to determine the drinking habits of the average American. Yet you will find the major media outlets making the same mistake. Time and the Washington Post are not local rags produced by amateurs.

The CDC actually warned readers not to jump to the false conclusion that this reflects the entire gay population of America. They wrote, "the results are not representative of all MSM..." The CDC actually puts the infection rate of all gay men at around half of what this survey finds, but even that is problematic.

The problem with surveys of the gay population is that being gay isn't like being black, it is something people can hide, and do. There are huge numbers of gay people in the country who are completely unconnected with the larger gay population. They may live in isolated locations, or simply live socially isolated lives.

Any study of the gay community goes to where the surveyors can get answers with a minimum amount of effort. And that means in the concentrated gay "ghettos" in the major urban areas. Here are some facts:

1. We simply don't know for sure how many gay men there are in the United States.
2. We are not likely to know for a very long time, if ever.
3. It is almost impossible to do a representative survey of the gay population, if not impossible.
4. What surveys we can do are all skewed toward one end of the lifestyle spectrum while entirely excluding those on the other end.

This doesn't mean the study is useless. Understanding the limitations of the study allows us to make reasonable conclusions, but what the mainstream media is reporting are unreasonable conclusions. The study shows that educational efforts directed toward young, sexually active, gay men in urban settings are not as successful as they should be.

If we assume that the study shows where new efforts might be necessary, then it fills its purpose. But what we can't do is jump to conclusions about the gay population as a whole. In other words the worst thing you can get out of the study is precisely what the major media outlets were reporting. That is not an indictment of the CDC but of the mainstream media in the United States.

Photo 1: those who got surveyd. Photo 2: those who didn't, to illustrate the point.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Suffer the little children...

Seth Walsh is 13-years-old. If he is very lucky he will see 14.

Seth is in a coma and chances of survival are not good. Reports are sketchy but the young boy was found unconscious and not breathing. He had had tried to hang himself from a tree.

Seth was being bullied at school in Tehachapi, CA. The local television station reports that friends and neighbors "said the boy is openly gay and taunted by bullies for years, at school and at a local park."

UPDATE: Sadly I must report that Seth died .

Apparently the situation was so bad at the school that the boy went on independent study so he wouldn't have to attend classes, but his friends reported "he was still bullied outside of school."

As I have said before, the kids who bully other kids for being gay learn their attitudes from adults. As I see it, part of the blame for these suicides belongs to every adult who has said bigoted things about gay people, to every preacher who damns gay people from the pulpit, and every Republican who appeals to hatred in order to secure the votes of fundamentalist assholes.

Gay kids are vulnerable. They often feel entirely alone. Many have no place to go, no one to turn to. Many can't tell their parents because their parents hate gays. They can't seek out support easily. Seeking help may make the bullying worse.

Libertarians have to stand up for the rights of these kids, to speak out against the hatred and the prejudice. We can acknowledge that bigots have a right to believe their own stupid theology, but we don't have to condone the hate they preach. We are on morally sound ground to condemn the bigots, to name them, and to shame them. More importantly, I believe that any of us who value human life and human rights have to condemn the bigotry. We must speak out against it.

Call it political correctness if you want. I don't care. If political correctness means private, community pressure against prejudice and hatred, then I'm for it. I yearn for the day when every bigot is afraid to express their prejudices, not because they will be arrested, but because decent people will no long wish to be associated with them.

How many more kids have to kill themselves?

Yes, if you don't think gay people have the same rights that you have, then I am blaming you, in part, for this tragedy. I don't give a damn if you claim your prejudice is sanctioned by a magic man in the sky or some "holy" book. Hatred is still hatred, even if you pretend a deity sanctions it.

The adults spreading these messages are infecting their own children with the same sort of venomous hate. And those kids go into the schools and make life a living hell for other people's children. What really disgusts me is that these monsters claim they are doing this "for the children."

Who will protect the children from them? The hatred they spread, in the name of the children, is what causes young kids like Seth to hang themselves. The bigots are not protecting children but helping to kill them. Maggie Gallagher: this is, in part, your doing. Mormon prophets and elders: this is, in part, your doing. Pope Benedict the enabler: this is, in part, your doing. Knights of Columbus: this is, in part, your doing. Republicans of America: take a look, this is, in part, your doing. Fundamentalists of all faiths: be proud, this is, in part, your faith in action.

Be proud of yourselves. Relish your accomplishments. You have managed, through the spreading of your hatred, to get another school kid to try to take his own life. Aren't you just fucking wonderful!

When the theocrats in Iran executed teens for homosexuality, by hanging them, people were outraged. Theocrats in America don't like to get their hands so dirty, they prefer harassing kids until these distraught children kill themselves, allowing these "Christians" to pretend they bare no responsibility. In that sense the Iranian theocrats are at least a bit more honest.

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Penn on government and libertarianism.

I agree.


Friday, September 24, 2010

How Obama and the Democrats Saved DADT

Don't Ask, Don't Tell should have been dead by now. That it isn't is testimony to the fact that Barack Obama has actively worked to scuttle measures to end the policy. His claims that he would abolish DADT were a campaign lie, not his intentions.

Consider that Obama has always had it in his power, as Commander-in-Chief of the military, to abolish the policy excluding gay people from the military. Truman abolished racial segregation by his orders and Obama could have done the same thing—had he wanted to do so.

The measure to abolish DADT only came up in Congress because House members wanted to get rid of it. The White House did not want the measure introduced and did nothing to help it pass.

Obama continued to try to ignore the matter entirely. Outside pressure got the measure introduced into the Senate. At this point repeal seemed a sure thing. There were more than a enough votes to repeal the measure. There were enough Republicans in support of repeal that it should have been a cake walk. And, had the measure been put up to a straight vote it would have been repealed.

But now the Democratic leadership, in the form of Senator Harry Reid, came up with a way to push pro-repeal Republicans into voting against the repeal.

Instead of a straight-up vote the measure was rigged to prevent the vote. And many in the normally pro-Democratic gay community have figured this out. Jim Burroway, at the gay news site Box Turtle Bulletin, wrote "we cannot forget that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rigged the process in order to squander the votes that were already there to break the filibuster. In failing to break the filibuster, Reid got what he wanted..." In other words, Reid wanted DADT to fail and he wanted it to fail in a way that he could blame on Republicans.

Wayne Beeson, at Truth Wins Out, reported that Alexander Nicholson, from Servicemembers United, the largest group of gay military personnel, "wondered if Reid was intentionally sabotaging the bill." Nicholson explains how Reid sabotaged the vote to guarantee failure:
Just more than 60 votes had been lined up to break a filibuster on (the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA) and allow the legislation to move forward for debate, amendments and a final vote before the Senate adjourns for yet another month-and-a-half-long recess. That was until Sen. Reid announced he was going to use his status as Senate Majority Leader to block the minority’s customary ability to also offer their amendments to the massive annual defense-spending bill.

This unusual and controversial move by Sen. Reid predictably enraged all Republicans, including the few who were previously prepared to help break the filibuster and allow a repeal-inclusive NDAA to move forward. And who can blame them? This isn’t a very fair move on Sen. Reid’s part, and it wasn’t a very fair move at points in the past when Republicans did it either.
Republicans, who supported repeal, publicly said that they had to vote against the measure because of Reid's dirty trick. And while Reid was doing what was possible to stop the measure from passing, the White House did absolutely nothing to try to pass the measure. In spite of Obama's campaign promises the reality was that he was, once again, refusing to do anything to repeal the measure.

Worse yet, Obama's recent appointee to run the Marine Corps made a visit to Congress where he urged them to vote against repeal.

Jim Burroway, one of the more perceptive writers in the gay community, wrote:
...[A]nyone with any powers of observation over the circumstances under which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brought the bill to the floor cannot reasonably escape the conclusion that the filibuster suits his political purposes as well, as he and many other Senate Democrats struggle to hold onto their seats in tight mid-term campaigns. To not recognize that what happened yesterday was nothing but political theater, and that all the participants came away with something they wanted going into the final stretch of the campaign season — well let’s just say that just because Schoolhouse Rock didn’t cover political theater, it doesn’t mean it’s not an important byproduct of the legislative process, even if (or especially if) a bill fails to become a law. And in this case, that nasty byproduct was more important than actually doing the horse-trading it takes to pass the bill itself.
I think Burroway is right. The optimal thing for Democrats was to create the appearance of repeal without actually succeeding. The effort was supposed to shore up their support in the gay community as the only major party willing to fight for equality of rights. But, if the measure passed, it would just give theocratic Republicans another thing to bitch about. Given that the Democrats are already in trouble, due to their ramming through Obama's health care debacle, they didn't want to hand another issue to the loony Right to scream about. But they needed the measure to fail because of the Republicans.

And the Republicans didn't mind playing along because they want to reassure the religious fanatics who control the GOP that they are still doing the "will of the Lord" by legislatively bashing gay people, the way Jesus wants.

But there is one loose end out there: the court ruling that said DADT was invalid. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips declared the law unconstitutional and she said she intended to issue an injuction restricting the federal government from enforcing the law.

Now, if Obama really wanted repeal, he could say "thank you, very much" and plead that the judge ruled and he had to obey. But Obama doesn't want repeal. At best he doesn't want repeal now. Instead his Justice Department has filed a motion asking "that Phillips refrain from applying her ruling nationally, or to the military overseas. Instead, the Department of Justice argued that the immediate effect of her decision should be to prohibit the military from expelling openly gay service members who belong to the Log Cabin Republicans."

Really! I'm not making this shit up. Obama's officials are saying that since the Log Cabin Republican brought the successful lawsuit to declare DADT unconstitutional then the ruling should only apply to members of that group. Gay Democrats, who stupidly campaigned for this clown, can, in legal terms, go fuck themselves. One of the most loyal groups to Obama has been the gay community and this is how he rewards them. Everything this man does reeks of a one-term wonder.

He has pissed off the majority of Americans and now he is alienating the one group that would have stood by him, no matter how incompetent he has been, if he just delivered on a simple promise: repeal DADT. Considering that a majority of voters support repeal, it was a safe bet. But Obama had his eyes on the November votes and he didn't want to give the Right another issue. But, considering how hard Obama has worked to make the Republicans look appealing to voters, what more harm could he have done?

The Obama administration told the court: "A court should not immediate cessation of the 17-year-old policy without regard for any effect such an abrupt change might have on the military operations, particularly at a time when the military is engaged in combat operations and other demanding military activities around the globe." Thanks for reminding us of another promise Obama reneged on.

The only thing Obama fought for was legislation meant to destroy private medical insurance over the long run. The few good things he promised are the things he has actively prevented from changing. He has not ended the wars, in fact he is now using the fact that he failed to keep that promise as a justification for keeping DADT.

In a comedic response to Obama's active betrayal of the gay community the Libertarian Party is now making a bigger effort to attract gay voters. Yet the Party keeps promoting the bozo, Wayne Root, a cultural conservative, as their clown prince for the nomination. It wasn't bad enough that they previously nominated anti-gay Republican Bob Barr as their presidential candidate, but they had to cement the tragedy by making Root their VP candidate—not that they could have put forward a reasonable candidate otherwise. The main alternative to Root and Barr would have been a disaster as well.

The fact is that the Libertarian Party just doesn't get what is going on. One day they want to be Republican-lites pushing a "tea party" image and the next day they want to appeal to gay voters. They have not been consistently pro-liberty and are now too closely tied to the anti gay Right to pull gay voters in their direction. These days the LP is having a hard time attracting even gay libertarians.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anti-gay preacher sued over sex with young men.

This is not personally surprising to me. This has happened so often that I have come to expect it. I generally assume that any anti-gay bigot is going to be exposed eventually. Bishop Long is a fundamentalist Baptist, a leading black conservative, and an active opponent to equality of rights for gay people.

This report indicates that two young men from Long's church have said he regularly seduced them and offered them material goods in exchange for sex. As I understand it, a third law suit, from yet another young man, has been filed well. Catching an anti gay conservative in bed with men is about as rare as finding out that the priest has been molesting children.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mushy libertarianism vs the religious impulse.

One of the themes that I periodically pay attention to is what I call the mushy libertarianism of the American mainstream. I wrote that the mainstream politics in this country is libertarian but "not consistent" and "not principled." I have called this mushy libertarianism a revival of the Mugwumps.

A new poll from Associated Press backs up my general analysis. Over and over the dominant opinion, among Americas, leans in a libertarian direction. Here are some of the details:

Three-quarters of the public say that the US Constitution "is an enduring document that remains relevant today." Sixty percent say that that the "rule of law" should come first, even if it does at the expense of public safety.

The Religious Right regularly argues that the rights of gay people should be subjected to a majority vote. The majority doesn't agree. Just 35% say, "If a majority of people want something to happen, the rights of a few shouldn't stand in the way" and 62% agree that "the rights of everyone should be protected, even when that means saying no to something majority of people want to happen."

Only one in four Americans would support giving the president more power, even if it would improve the economy. Three-quarters of the public opposed the idea. Half the public say "it is up to each individual to secure health insurance" and less than half say the government ought to provide it. But 83% oppose the central feature of Obama's health care plan, government mandates requiring people to buy health insurance.

Half of all Americans say they favor a way for illegal immigrants, already in the country, to legalize their position, while just under half oppose the idea. Seventy-percent agree that "people should have the right say what they believe even if they take positions that seem deeply offensive to most people."

A clear majority, 58%, now believe that same-sex couples are entitled to same benefits as opposite-sex couples and that government should not distinguish between them. In 2008, 51% agreed, in 2009 it was 54%. While support rose by 7 points opposition declined by 5 points. Even more encouraging, from a libertarian point of view, is that a majority of Americans now believe the federal government ought to recognize gay marriages: 52% to 46% opposed. This is the second national poll in recent weeks showing a majority of Americans now support gay marriage.

Fifty-one percent of Americans say that gun control laws "infringe" the right to keep and bear arms. A plurality, 42%, say that the government restricts too much information from the public.

One area where the majority goes wrong is that 64% do not thinking that banning minors from violent video games is a proper function of government. One thing you can be sure of is that if people are afraid their children are at risk they turn into raving maniacs willing to lynch anyone. This is the sort of irrational fear that the National Organization for Marriage relies upon with their anti-gay scare commercials.

Other results of interest include the fact that 43% of the public are not confident in the federal government, only 10% are strongly confident in the feds. Similarly 37% are not confident in state governments, where 10% are, and 49% are not confident in Congress, where 7% are. Other areas with high levels of distrust are: banks, 52%; large corporations , 42%; labor unions, 41%; the media, 38%; blogs, 54%; organized religion, 35%; and public schools, 37%.

Other matters of interest is that 36% of the public consider themselves to be born-again Christians and 24% say they don't belong to a religion.

A different poll indicates that almost all opposition to equality of rights for gay people is rooted in religion, and not based on other concerns. Sixty-percent of conservatives admit that they oppose same-sex marriage because of their religion. All the evidence shows that opposition to legal equality exists because people want their religion legislated onto others:
Almost six-in-ten regular churchgoers (59%) say their clergy speak out on the issue of abortion, higher than for any other issue in the survey except hunger and poverty (88%). Despite divided opinions on abortion among Catholics as a whole, seven-in-ten Catholics (70%) who attend church at least once a month report that their clergy speak out on the issue of abortion. Similarly, 65% of white evangelical Protestants and 55% of black Protestants who attend services at least once a month report that their clergy talk about abortion, while fewer mainline Protestants (39%) say this.

Among those who attend religious services at least once a month and say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, two-thirds (66%) report having heard about the issue from their clergy. Among regular worship attenders who think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, fewer (50%) report having heard about this issue from their clergy. Half of those who say their clergy speak out on abortion cite religion as the most important influence on their views on abortion, compared with 29% of those who do not hear from their clergy about the issue.

On the issue of same-sex marriage, about four-in-ten Americans (41%) say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 48% are opposed. A slight majority of Democrats (52%) favor same-sex marriage, while independents are evenly split (44% favor, 45% oppose) and two-thirds (67%) of Republicans are opposed. Democrats are divided sharply along racial lines; 63% of white Democrats favor same-sex marriage, compared with just 27% of black Democrats and 46% of Hispanic Democrats.
This sort of theocratic viewpoint applies even to laws forbidding gay people to openly serve in the military—something the Republican Party just killed in the U.S. Senate with unanimous support from their caucus. In other words, not a single Republican Senator voted to allow gay people to serve in the military.

On the matter of gays in the military 60% of all Americans support equality. Even a slim plurality of Republicans, 47-43%, support equality. Of all the various subgroups the only group to oppose allowing gay people to serve in the military are white evangelical Christians, where a plurality 47-43% oppose the measure. Most blacks support equality here, most conservatives do, most independent voters do—only white born again Christians oppose the measure and that appears to be the ONLY group in American politics that Republicans listen to.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Genetic engineering and same-sex marraige.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is holding final hearings on approving a genetically-modified salmon as fit for eating. Of course the anti-science Left is in a dither about this, much like the anti-science Right gets when stem cells are mentioned.

A panel of experts from the FDA have said that there is no substantive difference between this salmon and other salmon, other than it reaches maturity faster. The scientists find no evidence of risk because of. So precisely what has these Left-wing "consumer" and "environmental" groups in such a uproar? Precisely what is the risk?

That is a good question. According to news reports no one is being very specific at all about the risk. Bloomberg reports: "But opponents of approval, including many consumer advocates, worry that the fish could pose a threat to both the heal of consumers and the environment." Well, that doesn't say anything other than that these Left-wing groups are worried, but they are always worried about science.

If you have watched any of the panic-driven television commercials put out by the anti-equality, Mormon-front, the National Organization for Marriage, you will hear lots of verbiage about the "threat" of same-sex marriage. What is missing is any precise claim about what that threat might be. They simply raise the spectre of a threat. They warn viewers that this threatens their children. How? They don't say. They say it threatens marriage itself. How? They make up false claims over and over and, in very serious tones, warn this is dangerous. And they never get specific as to what this threat really is supposed to be. Why? Simple: They don't know.

NOM and their Mormon-financiers have absolutely no evidence that same-sex marriage is a threat. And neither do the foes of genetic modification have any substantive evidence that these salmon are a threat either.

The foes of GE foods, when told that there is biological difference between GE modified salmon and regular salmon say that is the problem. "That's what worries consumer advocates, who say that approving the salmon is opening the door to all sorts of genetically engineered animals, such as pigs and other animals." So what? So far, they have not stated any real risk. All they are saying is that if you let same-sex couples marry.... whoops, I mean they are saying that GE salmon might mean GE food products of other kinds. Sorry, it is hard to remember which unproven fear-mongering lobby group I'm talking about -- their tactics are always the same so it is sometimes hard to tell which panic lobby is which.

Wenonah Hauter, the chief fear-monger in this case, is simply a political activists with no credentials whatsoever related to the issue. Her entire history is one of being a left-wing activist and her university degree was in anthropology. In fact Hauter's organization, if you bother to read up on their staff and board members, is made up almost entirely of political activists with no credentials in science at all.

Here are the credentials of the staff members listed on their website. It's a long list but illustrates my point that very few of the activists in the anti-science industry have real scientific credentials.

Wenonah Hauter: lobbyist, activist, studied anthropology.
Darecy Rakestraw: Activists with Worldwatch Institute, political science major, studied with a new age type "nutritional" outfit with no science involved.
Rich Binden: environmental activist, studied communications and rhetoric.
Royelen Lee Boykie: no real credentials listed in any field.
Jennifer Errick: no real credentials listed in any field.
Kate Fried: environmental activist with degree in English.
Anna Ghosh: studied public relations.
Elissar Khalek: studied political science and psychology.
Lauren Wright: studiend graphic design and communications.
Patty Lovera: degree in enviromental studies.
Sarah Borron: appears to actually have some degree in relative field of food from a real university.
Tony Corbo: studied public affairs and industrial and labor relations.
Zach Corrigan: attorney.
Brooks Mountcastle: environmentals, studied environmentalism at university.
Felicia Nestor: attorney.
Tim Schwab: studied journalism.
Tyler Shannon: studied law and computer science, union activist.
Patrick Woodall: activists on "economic justice" issue and studied economics.
Ron Zucker: studied political science, English and philosophy.
Emily Wurth: International Studies and Public Health.
Kathy Dolan: studied health policy.
Sarah Gingold: studiend government and politics.
Mary Grant: opponent of water privatization and studied environmental sciences.
Mitch Jones: studiey history and philosophy.
Marianne Cufone: law degree.
Eileen Flynn: studied environmental policy and management.
Meredith McCarthy: astronomy.
James Mitchell: attorney.
Justine Williams: sociocultural anthropology.
Darcey O'Callaghan: social work and economic policy.
Dave Andrews: theology and law.
Claudia Campero: geography.
Eve Mitchell: English and anthropology.
Marcela Olivera: political activist, no credentials listed otherwise.
Alberto Villareal: sociology.
Anna Witowska-Ritter: sociology.
Gabriella Zanzanaini: social anthropology and sustainable development.
Mark Scholsberg: economics and law.
Jorge Aquilar: trade unionist, communications.
Sarah Alexander: English.
Alex Beauchamp: activist, political science.
Meredith Begin: degree claimed, field unstated.
Julia DeGraw: environmental studies and sociology.
Noelle Ferdon: law.
Denise Hart: political science, counseling, English.
Jon Keesecker: community organizer.
Katy Kiefer: "faith-justice studies" and environmetal science.
Renee Maas: public policy.
Matt Ohloff: political science.
Sam Schabacker: economics.
Adam Scow: political science.
Elanor Starmer: development economics, public policy and agriculture science and policy.
Nisha Swinton: environmental law and policy.
Renee Vogelsang: communications.
Jim Walsh: "dedicated political organizer."
Lane Brooks: broadcast journalism.
Jon Bown: IT work.
Clayretha Gatewood: accounting and information systems.
Kevin Larson: IT.
Caitlin Levesque: American studies and history.
Alex Patton: sociology.
Ben Schumin: public administration.
Michael Surbrook: IT.

The closest we get to real science, out of this bunch, is environmental studies, which is normally heavily infused with political assumptions. There are plenty of sociology, anthropology and English major but no one with a degree in the hard sciences. Is it any wonder that they avoid the science and instead talk about fantasies, assumptions and fears?

Hauter claims, regarding the salmon, that "we don't know if it's safe for humans to eat." Actually we do know, it is no biologically different than other salmon that we eat. There is no evidence that any risk is posed. Nor does Hauter offer any. She merely offers her own fears as reason to ban same-sex marriage, oops, there I go again, I mean to ban GE fish.

Bloomberg says: "Food & Water Watch was joined by 30 other animal welfare, consumer, environmental and fisheries groups, including the Sierra Club, which issued a statement citing concerns that the fish could escape and pose an environmental threat." What threat? None is states. They worry that the fish "could introduce new or unknown allergens into the food supply." Do they offer evidence that any risk is likely? No. They appeal to the potential of an "unknown" allergen. What science couldn't be stopped with that logic?

In fact, what human action couldn't be controlled using exactly the same argument? No, you can go outside because there are unknown risks out there! No, you can't watch television; there could be unknown risks associated with it! No, you can't vote for Obama.... ooops, those risks were known.

And how do these salmon pose a risk to salmon in the sea? They don't. They are sterile so they can't reproduce, they will all be females and have no contact with male salmon as well. And they are raised in land-based tanks not in the ocean.

In the end all we have is imagination to scare us. No substantive reasons for opposing GE foods are offered, no hard science is used. Instead these anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers, English-majors and political activists appeal to the bogeyman theory of science: if they can imagine a problem then one must exist. And if they can imagine a risk it must be banned.

The environmental panic-mongers are really no different than Maggie Gallagher and her anti gay bigots. They drum up imaginary fears to stampede the public, and the political process, in order to stop progress. They hype unknown fears instead of known facts, they both engage in the politics of panic.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Decentralized self-learning for kids.

Here are a couple videos about how children can use computers to teach themselves. Fascinating. Things like this scare the shit out of the organized labor unions of teachers who believe the education system exists for their own benefit.


From Whackjob to Weasel

Christine O'Donnell, a rising star of the so-called Tea Party movement, was shown to be a whackjob during the primary. We, along with many other sites, showed the video of her preaching how masturbation is adultery and sinful. The pathetic Republican Party in Delaware, however, nominated her to be their Senate candidate, something which makes Democrats very happy. Previously there was no way for the Democrats to pick up this seat from the sitting Republican. But as the Republican Party has become more extreme—and not in the pursuit of liberty—it is replacing electable Republicans with whackjobs like O'Donnell. This race alone may be sufficient to prevent the Republicans from gaining control of the Senate, which is something that they wanted very badly.

O'Donnell now has GOP handlers advising her and someone wrote a well-crafted "weasel" statement about her anti-masturbatory campaigns of the past. I call it a weasel statement because it actually evades the issues entirely. It sounds good, and the average member of the public, who isn't used to dissecting material for real content, may be assured by it. But anyone who actually thinks about, for a second, shouldn't be fooled. Allow me to quote the statement that O'Donnell made and then dissect it for you. Here is how the LA Times reported her statement:
"Yes, I have my personal beliefs," she said when asked about her views. "These are questions from statements I made over 15 years ago. I was in my 20s and very excited and passionate about my new found faith. But I can assure you, my faith has matured. And when I go to Washington D.C., it will be the Constitution on which I base all of my decisions, not my personal beliefs."
Let us go through this statement to see what she is actually saying and what she isn't saying. She says the statements were made when she was young. At that time she had a "new found faith," which means a belief system she adopted wholesale from dead books without any intellectual scrutiny. But "I can assure you, my faith has matured."

What does that mean? Previously she held beliefs without reasons, on the basis of faith. Now she has a mature faith, which means what? How does the mature faith differ from the youthful faith? Faith is faith, it is still not reason. Was she previously a young fool but is now just an old fool? All she said is her faith is mature. People say that they have "faith" when they merely adopt a view without rational reasoning behind it. They hold the belief on the basis of "faith." All this does is tell us how she comes to her beliefs, not what those beliefs are. And both are rather critical here.

She does not indicate at all that her views on masturbation, sex and abstinence have changed at all. In fact, she rather strongly hints that she has NOT abandoned her beliefs whatsoever. She begins her statement saying: "Yes, I have my personal beliefs." This is present tense, not past tense. At best she is hinting that she now understands that there are other ways for her to express the same viewpoints without creating a firestorm. She has not repudiated her "personal beliefs" nor has she said that they have changed, only that her "faith" is now more mature.

Reporters are notoriously bad at interviewing politicians and allow them to make weasel statements all the time. But someone needs to ask O'Donnell: "Do you now believe that masturbation is not adultery?" I'd bet you a doughnut that if she were asked this she would evade the question entirely.

The first half of her statement is meant to address the issue of her past beliefs in contrast with present day beliefs. But nowhere does it actually indicate that these beliefs are now different, only that she has a more mature faith—and what that means is never explained by O'Donnell.

The second half of her statement is meant to address how she would vote on issues. It too avoids indicating anything of substance. She says that she will base all her decisions on the Constitution. Whoopee! What a meaningless statement!

If there is one thing that most politicians agree upon it is that they all think they vote according to the Constitution. Believing the Constitution is like believing the Bible. It means nothing. Why is that?

We can all debate what the Constitution means and we each come to our own conclusions. O'Donnell can happily vote for moralistic legislation, if offered the chance, and still proclaim she is within the Constitution as she sees it. The problem is that we have no idea how she sees the Constitution.

She campaigned for abstinence education within the state school system. Nowhere does the Constitution actually authorize a system of government education, nor does it sanction using tax monies to preach abstinence. In the Constitutional litany of government powers granted neither of these powers are listed. Remember the Constitution was meant to be a specific grant of powers to government with individual rights broadly interpreted. The Constitution quite clearly says that all individual rights could never be itemized, but government powers can, and should be.

So O'Donnell's abstinence campaign promoted two unconstitutional powers: government preaching about sex and state schools. Does she now think that this was unconstitutional? I would bet you she doesn't. Since we have no idea what she believes the Constitution sanctions or doesn't sanction we have no idea what she means by the statement.

A lot of statists want local tyranny via a "states rights" doctrine. Is this her view? It is certainly not a libertarian view which argues for individual rights. Conservatives argue that the separation of church and state is a myth and that the real Constitution sanctions government-mandated religion on the state level. Is that what O'Donnell means? We don't know and she isn't saying.

Invoking the Constitution is meant to have the appearance of substance without actually saying anything specific. Most the Congresscritters that voted for Obama's health care debacle will say that it is within the confines of the Constitution. Few will acknowledge that it is not. Many simply assume that anything they vote for is Constitutional and anything they oppose is not.

This is how the Constitution, like the Bible, is essentially meaningless when it comes to defining a person's beliefs. I can line up Christians who are absolutely convinced the Bible sanctions gay marriage and find others who say the Bible demands we kill all gay people. I can find politicians who say that nationalized medicine is constitutional and those that say it isn't.

It is easy to say: "I believe the Bible," as long as one is allowed to interpret it personally. Similarly the Constitution can be interpreted in very widely differing ways. We can fight about which is the "correct" interpretation but that is irrelevant to this discussion. What is relevant is what the individual, in this case O'Donnell, means when she says she will vote according to the Constitution. For most conservatives it means that any morality that dominated 200 years ago can still be imposed by the State today.

Here are the sort of questions that O'Donnell needs to be asked before her invocation of the Constitution has any merit whatsoever.

Does the Constitution permit government schools imposing religion on students in state schools?
Are sodomy laws regulating the private sexual lives of consenting adults constitutional?

Do the states have the right, according to the Constitution, to violate individual rights, in ways that the federal government does not?

Were state laws forbidding interracial marriage constitutional?

Are state laws forbidding same-sex marriage constitutional?

In what ways are these two issues constitutionally different?

Does government, at any level, have the constitutional power to ban sexually-explicit material?

Does government, at any level, have the constitutional power to wage a war on drugs?

Answering these questions will give us some idea of what this whackjob means when she invokes the Constitution as the litmus test she will employ. But without specifics all she has done is issue a weasel statement that tells us absolutely nothing.

Worse yet, such weasel statements are ingenious because each person interprets them according to their own personal opinions. So the reader who thinks government has no right to mandate school prayers will be assured by it equally as much as the reader who thinks the Constitution allows mandatory prayer.

When a public person says they believe the Bible every person who invokes the Bible them self, no matter in what way, feels a bit reassured. Each assumes that this at least means some agreement with them self, when it may mean no such thing. Similarly, invoking the Constitution is meant to reassure everyone because most listeners will assume that by "constitutional" O'Donnell means pretty much what they mean when they use the term. As long as the politician doesn't get forced to be more precise these weasel statements do a wonderful job of pulling the wool over the eyes of the voting public.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Tea Party Facade Falls Away

One of the first claims I heard about the nascent Tea Party movement was that it had no desire to focus on social conservatism. I was highly dubious of the claim given what I've seen of the conservative movement in recent years. What I've seen is theocratically-inclined biblical bigots who want to use the stick of government to beat people up. I saw the anti-immigrant fervor at the one rally I attended and I saw the very cold reception that Gov. Gary Johnson got when he tried to enlighten them on the dangers of the war on drugs.

But some of the media was spreading the claim that the Tea Party movement was made up of conservatives who wanted to focus on economics.

Now we have several successful "Tea Party" candidates who have secured the nomination of the Republican Party for office. Guess what? I have yet to hear of one such candidate who isn't a flaming moral fascist demanding that government enforce their views of morality.

Here is Christine O'Donnell, the Theopublican candidate for Senate in New Jersey, a Tea Party activist. This is a woman who campaigned against masturbation as a form of adulterty.

Can anyone point to a successful Tea Party candidate running for major office who IS NOT a social conservative? I know of none who are actually libertarian and that especially includes Rand Paul.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Families: united by love but divided by hate.

In discussing the terrible tragedy of two teens driven to suicide by anti-gay bigotry—which I advise you read if you haven't done so)—I said to the bigots: "But they could be your children." Of course, we know many examples when they have been their children. Certainly Bobby Griffith was tormented by his own mother and family and church until he killed himself. Mary Griffith realized what she had done, but it was too late to save Bobby. Since then she has campaigned to end the prejudice.

This is what must terrify the anti-gay bigot in ways that can't torment the racist. A Klan leader is not going to discover that the white son he has known his entire life is going to announce he's really black. But no anti-gay bigot with children can have that confidence throughout their entire life. There is always a time when they simply don't know. And many remain clueless their entire lives. But many of them do find themselves facing down their own children and hating them for being gay.

As often happens in politics two powerful political families are united when their children marry. Both families are very conservative, both are Mormons and of course, they are Republicans. Matthew Salmon was Republican state senator in Arizona, he ran for governor and he was a U.S. Congressman. Jeff Flake in the Congressman from Mesa, another conservative Republican and like Salmon, another Mormon. The Flake and Salmon families have been a foundation for the Right-wing Republicans in Arizona. And now they are united by romance—though neither of them are particularly thrilled by it.

Matt Salmon is named after his father, the former congressman. At 14-years-of-age he told his mother he was gay, which didn't stop his family from campaigning against gay people. His partner is Kent Flake, the second counsin of Congressman Flake.

Matt followed the teachings of the Mormon sect and went through therapy to change. It failed, as might be expected.

Kent is from Snowflake, Arizona. Snowflake was a small town founded on orders of Brigham Young, the alleged Mormon prophet. Young sent William Flake to found the town and Apostle Erastus Snow was put in charge of colonization. These polygamists were the founders of the town and when Mormons to name it after Flake others wanted to honor Snow. The name Snowflake was how they honored both simultaneously.

Of course each young man knew of the others family. Matt befriend Kent on Facebook and soon they started dating. At this point Kent told his family he was gay. But under pressure he broke up with Matt and tried to go through church therapy to cure himself of being gay. Matt and Kent had an argument about Kent's attempt to change and faced with a final decision Kent decided to stay with Matt and to resign from the Mormon cult. Matt was sitting in church one Sunday in the summer of 2008 when the minister, following orders from the church heirarchy, was urging everyone in the Arizona congregation to send money to defeat marriage equality in California—that is donate to Proposition 8. The minister told the congregation that all homosexuals are promiscuious and their relationships are selfish. That was when he decided to quite Mormonism completely, and today compares it to some of the outlandish teachings from the cult of Scientology.

Flake is getting the worst of it. He rarely sees his family anymore, hasn't had a real conversation with his father nad has been told that his father doesn't want Matt around his family or his grandkids. Kent's sister told has publicly said that she called them "fags" and "pedophiles" but insists they still love him, they just don't want "to see him in a gay couple." The same is true in Salmon's family. He was told that his family still loves him but that Kent is not welcome in their home. Matt's own siblings dropped him as a Facebook friend in protest over his being gay.

One cousin, Krista Gohus, still is friends. She recently left the Mormon sect as well and considers herself a libertarian, not a Republican. She told the Phoenix New Times: "Matt and his boyfriend, Kent, have been to my home many times, and my 10-year-old son knows Matt and Kent are a couple. I'm teaching my children that being gay is just like being left-handed or being born with curly hair. It's not right or wrong, it's just the way you were born."

Photos: Matt (L), Kent (R).

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

A good example of how adults encourage bullies.

First, watch the video and then read.

In my previous post I discussed two teens who killed themselves after being harassed by other students who perceived them as gay. I said that these kids don't just invent this hate, they adopt it from adults in their lives. The hear this hate and repeat it. Hear is a perfect example of an adult asshole encouraging the very sort of anti-gay hate that kids emulate at school, sometimes driving other kids to killing themselves.

The assistant attorney general in Michigan is Andrew Shirvell, a whiny voiced Right-wing Republican who really hates gays. He goes out of his way to send nasty emails to people he doesn't know, if they are gay. He has created a blog to attack a Chris Armstrong, a student at the University of Michigan because he was elected student body president and is gay.

When conservative Michigan blogger Joe Sylvester admitted that he was gay he received a nasty email from Shirvell, who he did not know. He wrote Sylvester: "I saw your stupid interview... Wow——you need help, Joe. Good luck with living a disordered life."

When a Michigan campaigner for equality of rights for gay people left for a job in North Carolina, Shirvell published a web article calling the man "a zealous promoter of bizarre lifestyle choices" and the "most visible proponent of the radical homosexual agenda" whose new job means he "will no longer earn his living by indoctrinating children with his perversity." Since the man took a job with a group working to keep abortion legal Shirvell, a fundamentalist Catholic, wrote: "I guess if he can't recruit the children of God-fearing Americans to his bizarre lifestyle, he wants them dead." Shirvell claims that gay people who support the libertarian position on abortion does so because "they despise 'breeders,' a.k.a normal people." Shirvell says: "The pro-abortion and radical homosexual movements are merely branches of the same rotten tree known as the Culture of Death. It is impossible to embrace one movement without embracing the other."

Shirvell's obsession with hating gays extends to their family as well.

Shirvell seems to target gay young people for attacks particularly. He trolls Facebook looking for anything he can distort. He claims that one gay student, John Oltean "believes he is above the law" and says this young man "foams at the mouth with hatred for his Creation, Christian believers and the unborn." Then Shirvell says that John's younger brother, David, joked about his "half-birthday" meaning he he 19 1/2 years old. The mother of the boys, Patricia, joked about it saying: "Happy Half Birthday, Dave! still another year and a half to go to throw away your fake ID."

Shirvell then launches an attack on the mother about this joke. He calls her the "wealthy and well-connected Patricia Oltean" and says he is celebrating "her son's lawbreaking and posts her contempt for the law right on FB!" Oddly Shirvel has complete contempt for laws that allow abortion——being a Far Right fundamentalist Catholic he wants state control of every uterus. Anyone who doesn't have contempt for some law simply is incapable of thinking for themself.

He says that anonymous sources tell him that Patricia and her son's have a relationship that is "'bizarre' and 'weird.'" He claims that a post they made on Facebook proves it. In that post one student asked David "Is Patricia your mom." David replied" Yes, Leonard, Patti is my mother." Shrivell says that the fact that David used his mother's first name proves something is wrong and claims that Patricia's joke shows her to be "the type of mother who obviously condones her underage son's possession of an illegal fake ID! It's no wonder that John and David Oltean are as screwed-up as they are: their wealthy mother is more interested in being their friends than being the parent they desperately need." Shirvell also attacked David as harboring "racist sentiments against Native Americans." His proof: David complained that class on Indian culture he was taking was painful. He didn't say anything about Indians, just about a class. One of the worst classes I ever took was by a free market economist who I agreed with, but who was a horrible teacher. I quite the class but not because I hate markets.

Out of this "evidence" Shirvell jumps to the conclusion that that Armstrong and his friends are "privileged, disrespectful, law-breaking, racist, anti-Christian, radical homosexual fanatics." Shirvell published dozens of attacks on just Armstrong alone. Shirvell told right-wing readers that Armstrong "is actively recruiting your sons and daughters to join the homosexual 'lifestlye.'" The mere fact that one thinks you "sign-up" to be gay is an indication that you are either dealing with someone who is incredibly stupid, or mentally obsessed with gay people.

When Armstrong said to students that there time at university "is as much about your own self-discovery as it is about your career" Shirvell spins that as meaning that he told student "to be entirely self-absorbed and seek self-gratification at all costs." He claims the remarks is "a thinly veiled attempt to cause sexually confused, and perhaps some impressionable, 17-and-18-year-olds to experiment sexually with members of their own gender."

When Amrstrong house mates had a party (Armstrong wasn't there) Shirvell said the aim of the party "is to liquor-up underage freshmen and promote homosexual activity."

Shirvell is entirely dishonest and completely obsessed. He uses the Internet to harass gay students at university, and to harass their families. He makes bizarre and dishonest accusations against them repeatedly.

So,to return to my previous post: Where do you think the kids who harass kids they perceive as gay, driving those kids to suicide, get the idea that harassing people is justified? Answer: Andrew Shirvell is one source.

This is an adult, a top office-holder for the Republican Party, who is harassing gay college students and their families, on a regular basis.

Kids learn hate from bigots like Shirvell. And when those kids use that hate and push another child in the desperate act of suicide it is men like Shirvell who ought to step up and take responsibility. No doubt Shirvell would say the only good queer is a dead queer.

I think it is time that people inundate the Attorney General, Mike Cox with emails of protest. Cox hired Shirvell into his position and had Shirvell as his campaign manager. The hypocrisy is that Cox is leading a campaign against "cyber-bullying" while one of his own top assistants engages in the very act of it. Attorney General Mike Cox can be contacted at

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