Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Thank you for your comments.
have a few questions for you based on your comments.
You said that “When will gays learn that they are only hurting their cause for mainstream acceptance by participating in lewd Gay Pride parades, in which they themselves conform to all of the most negative stereotypes about them?
How are these gays in/at the parade “playing into stereotypes” as opposed to showing the public how they really truly are? Were these gays “acting” or is this who they truly are?
You said that “In forcing these men to attend the Pride Parade, the San Diego Fire Department has only surrendered another PR coup to the Christian Right who are now running pieces like this.”
How is the “Christian Right” as you called them using this as a “PR coup”? Isn’t the objective factual truth of how homosexuals acted at this event being reported?
What do you have against people reporting the objective factual truth?
Where to begin.
I agree with you that stereotype usually has some accuracy to it when applied to any given minority. However, one must recognize that stereotype tends to exaggerate and distort the most superficial differences (and then turns these differences into moral flaws).
I would start by asking you if you actually know any gay people closely. Friends? Family? Anyone that you are close to? I would be willing to bet that you would have an entirely different perspective on ‘those people’ if you did.
I am being presumptuous, but I am willing to bet that you do not actually know anyone closely who happens to be gay. I do know a lot of gay people. I love some of them, I can’t stand others—pretty much the way I feel about any given sample of the population.
That being said, I think that a lot of gays are putting up an act at events like gay pride. For every naked dancing boy I see for a few seconds walking by at a Pride event, I personally know five more gays who shun such displays.
With regard to your remarks on reporting “objective factual truth,” I would say that the facts of this incident are not disputed, and I have no problem with them being reported as such. As you see from my original post, I actually agree with you in thinking that forcing these men (however exaggerated their claims of psychological damage may be) to march in the parade was wrong.
However, I do dispute the way that people from generally conservative religious backgrounds paint an entire swath of human beings (who happen to be in the minority ) as depraved and evil. From a minority perspective, it’s kind of scary.
Thanks for the dialogue,
The required course work includes Orientation to Homemaking, Biblical Model for the Home and Family, Nutrition, Value of a Child, Meal Preparation with Lab, and Clothing Construction with Lab, among various seminars and independent studies.
The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers coursework in Greek and Hebrew, in archaeology, in the philosophy of religion and - starting this fall - in how to cook and sew.
One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking - a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities.
The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles.
What's worse, when you force other people to attend, like four San Diego firefighters who are now suing the San Diego Fire Department for sexual harassment.
I think the fire fighters are being a little mellow dramatic (maybe something they picked up from the drag queens) when they say, "I've dealt with finding bodies in burning buildings, traffic accidents with kids, but I've never been so stressed out before until this incident," nonetheless no one should be forced to attend any function against their will.
In forcing these men to attend the Pride Parade, the San Diego Fire Department has only surrendered another PR coup to the Christian Right who are now running pieces like this.
A blogger from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State picked up on the story and wrote more about the Ten Commandments Commission:
The list of endorsers reads like a veritable Who’s Who among the Religious Right. It includes John Hagee, Pat Robertson, Rod Parsley, Jay Sekulow, Benny Hinn, David Barton, Gary Bauer, Charles Colson, Roberta Combs, James Dobson, D.
James Kennedy, Tony Perkins, Rick Scarborough, Lou Sheldon, Paul Weyrich, Don Wildmon and Ted Haggard (yep, his name is still on the list).
The organization is headed by Ron Wexler, an Orthodox Jew and Israeli native whose online bio makes him sound like a tourism official.
Wexler sounds like quite a piece of work. After the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005, one fundamentalist writer quoted him saying, “It was revealed to me that in numerology, the numerical value of the Hebrew letters that make up the name Rita + God is equal 620. The number of all the Hebrew letters that make up the Ten Commandments is…. 620! Is there a connection?… Could this now be the spirit of God above the water? Rita + God equal 620 equal the Ten Commandments? Could this be the wake up call for the nation? Now when the Ten Commandments are thrown out of schools and out of courts, could there be a connection? Just think for a moment that there is a correlation.”
Last year, Wexler claimed to have located “an inscription of the Ten Commandments in ancient Hebrew has been dated at more than five hundred years old” at a remote mountain in New Mexico.
Reported one Web site, “This mysterious, ancient inscription of God’s foundational law for all mankind, found in the American wilderness, causes thoughtful people to wonder if God indeed had His mighty hand on the United States of America hundreds of years before it was even founded, said Wexler.”
H.RES. 598 has been refered to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. You can read text here and here.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Someone calls to me from Edom, "Sentry, how soon will the night be over? Tell me how soon it will end."Isaiah 22:11-12
I answer, "Morning is coming, but night will come again. If you want to as again, come back and ask."
Case closed. If God says morning comes after night, what's the point of teaching anything else in public school astronomy class?
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
According to Project Vote Smart, Allen received an over 90% approval rating from the Christian Coalition in 2003-2006. Allen has also been a strong supporter of anti-gay initiatives and was a sponsor of a bill to strengthen Florida’s laws against public sex. And just for additional comical relief, Rep. Allen’s Florida House webpage lists “water sports” as his recreational interest.
Wow, I might almost feel bad for this guy if I could get over the hilarious irony.
update: I thought it couldn't get any better but then I saw tonight's Daily Show and learned Rep. Allen is also the state representative for John McCain's presidential campaign. Stewart was hilarious by the way, still looking for a clip of the show.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Finstuen v. Crutcher is a great victory for gay parents who previously risked having their parental rights stripped away upon entering the state of Okalahoma.
I found two things interesting about this case. First the Court decided to base its judgment on the Full Faith and Credit Clause without even addressing the Due Process or Equal Protection Clauses. The latter two are obvious points of contention to the Oklahoma statute—the law categorically rejected out of state adoption certificates granted only to couples of the same sex.
It seems the Court did not want to get into the politically risky realm of equal and fundamental rights for gays. It was probably wise on their part. This is the Heart Land we’re talking about after all—the justices probably would have been burned in effigy and/or received death threats had they decided that gays had a constitutional right to adopt and be treated as equals.
I also think the potential impact this decision may have on DOMA is interesting because the easiest challenge to DOMA is that it too violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause by saying states do not have to recognize same sex marriages performed in other states. The 10th Circuit Court in Finstuen v. Crutcher, however, seemed to be careful in its wording saying:
In applying the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the Supreme Court has drawn a distinction between statutes and judgments. Specifically, the Court has been clear that although the Full Faith and Credit Clause applies unequivocally to the judgments of sister states, it applies with less force to their statutory laws [my emphasis].
Are they trying to set aside an exception that would allow DOMA to stand—somehow trying to classify one state’s acceptance of a same sex marriage as a ‘statutory law’ rather than a ‘judgment’, and thus not equivalent under the Full Faith and Credit Clause? Or are they trying to say that the Full Faith and Credit Clause is weaker, as a matter of fact, in cases of statutory law because of the generally accepted public policy exception?
Either way it seems the 10th Circuit tried to make their decision in Finstuen v. Crutcher just narrow enough so as not to deal a fatal blow to DOMA. However they provided just one more powerful background case to any future case that would deal with DOMA.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
I love how the religious right blames gays for the plight of the Iraqis without even mentioning that most Iraqis live in fear of getting blown up by Islamic terrorists and insurgents everyday, and don't even have reliable sources of energy, food, water, and medicine--all because of the US's unnecessary and disastrously executed war.
Blaming gays first isn't really new, unfortunately. The religious right loves to blame gays for the destruction the "American family" without even considering how straights have done a fine job ruining marriage themselves.
Holden Roberto Dies at 84; Fought to Free Angola from Portuguese Rule
Holden Roberto, one of the fathers of Angola’s independence and a staunch opponent of President José Eduardo dos Santos, died on Thursday at his home in Luanda. He was 84.
His contributions in helping free Angola from centuries of Portuguese rule were hailed by both Angola’s main opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, Unita, and the governing party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or M.P.L.A.
Mr. Roberto formed the country’s first nationalist movement, called the Union of Angolan Peoples, which was linked to his own Bakongo ethnic group, and then transformed it into the National Liberation Front of Angola, known as the F.N.L.A., in the 1960s.
He began an incursion into Angola on March 15, 1961, and his forces overran farms, government outposts and trading centers. Recalling the incursion, Mr. Roberto later said: “This time the slaves did not cower. They massacred everything.”
A close friend of other African-independence stalwarts, like Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Congo, and Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s first president, Mr. Roberto also established a political alliance with the former Zairean strongman Mobutu Sese Seko by divorcing his wife to marry Mr. Mobutu’s sister-in-law. Zaire is now known as Congo.
In April 1975, Mr. Roberto and the leaders of two other political parties signed peace accords with Portugal that led to Angola’s independence the same year.
But fighting immediately erupted and the F.N.L.A., backed by the United States, France and Zaire, fought the M.P.L.A., supported by the Soviet Union. After Cuba sent forces to support the M.P.L.A. in 1976, the F.N.L.A. was decisively defeated and abandoned its armed struggle.
The fighting did not cease, and Angola was devastated by a 27-year civil war between M.P.L.A. and Unita factions, in which about 500,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Mr. Roberto went into exile, notably in France and Zaire, but when he returned to Angola 15 years later, he remained involved in politics despite his failing health.
After participating in the 1992 general elections won by the M.P.L.A., he remained in the opposition, criticizing the two-party system in Angola dominated by the M.P.L.A. and Unita.
Patrick Henry's mission is to:
Aid in the transformation of American society by training Christian students to serve God and mankind with a passion for righteousness, justice and mercy, through careers of public service and cultural influence.
to promote practical application of biblical principles and the original intent of the founding documents of the American republic, while preparing students for lives of public service, advocacy and citizen leadership.
Patrick Henry College was opened in 2000. Most of the students at Patrick Henry come from conservative Christian homeschooled backgrounds. In spite of it's questionable academic credentials, Patrick Henry graduates find themselves equally situated with graduates of Georgetown and Harvard in terms of job and internship placements in the Bush Administration.
In the spring of 2004, seven of the 100 White House interns came from Patrick Henry (with a student body of 240). That's the same number that Georgetown sent to the White House that year.
The New Yorker has another good article here.
Things like this scare me a lot more than the skinheads I wrote about in an earlier post. The graduates from Patrick Henry and many members of the Republican party share the skinheads' worldview and ideology.
The difference is, the evangelicals in the Republican party are pushing their vision of a Christian Nation through legitimate democratic channels, which is far more effective (and stealthy) than waving guns around and burning crosses at a trailer park compound.
Here's a fun video clip of the shouting match that occurred last Thursday in the House after a Democratic maneuver that effectively denied the Republicans their win over a procedural motion which would ensure that illegal immigrants would not get benefits from an agriculture spending bill. Full story here.
Looks more like the British House of Commons than the US Congress.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
I watched Skinheads USA: Soldiers of the Race War tonight.
It was both scary and fascinating. While the individuals in this documentary represent a tiny subculture in the US and they have minimal legitimate influence, their brutal militancy is frightening nonetheless.
I found it interesting that the tactics of Bill Riccio, leader of the Aryan Defense Fund, replicate those of Islamic Jihadists, African warlords, and to a less extreme degree, Becky Fischer of Jesus Camp. They take alienated youth who come from poor backgrounds, with authoritarian and/or absent parents, who have nothing better to live for, and they give them hope in some cause higher than themselves. These are the kind of people who will die and commit murder for their cause.
I realize groups like this represent a small minority in the United States, and their extremism is frightening. Yet I still find that those who are in the mainstream who share their views, but not their militant tactics (large portions of the Republican party for example) are far more dangerous to those who do not share their views.
It is cases like the Aryan Nation and similar groups that really test one's belief in the virtue of American democracy and the freedom of speech. Do we allow these groups to fully express their hateful views, even while they're calling for the destruction of America as we know it?
I say we do. The more average Americans hear their message of hate, the more their views will be repudiated. If we stifle their expression we compel them to cultivate an even greater victim mentality, which only fuels their violent fervor and the recruitment of more vulnerable youth.
It’s déjà vu all over again — the GOP often slyly and sometimes audaciously whips us for political gain. The Democrats include us — sorta — but only in response to a direct question and typically in the language of careful legislative reform.
This must change...We deserve and we must demand from the Democratic 2008 presidential candidates the simple and straightforward statement that our humanity requires full respect and fair treatment by all and, further, an equally simple and straightforward condemnation of those who seek to use our lives for political gain. This needs to be said in front of all audiences — not just in front of us.
It's refreshing to see a leader of one of major gay rights organization speaking the obvious about the Democratic candidates. Don't expect the HRC to ever confront this reality.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die — there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you. Ruth 1:16-17
That is one woman speaking to another (Ruth to Naomi to be exact). The religious right tries as hard as it can to demonize the love between two individuals of the same sex, but this passage shows that it was alive and celebrated in the Bible, as I wish it only could be today.
An Algerian court handed prison sentences on Tuesday to 28 businessmen and engineers blamed for the collapse of hundreds of buildings during an earthquake
in 2003 that left thousands dead.
Twenty-seven defendants were jailed for two years and fined 50,000 dinars ($714) each, while the last received three years in jail and a fine in absentia from the court in Boumerdes province east of Algiers, a judicial source said.
Measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, the 2003 quake killed 2,300 people, injured more than 10,000 and made about 100,000 homeless. It was the deadliest in the oil-exporting country since 1980, when violent tremors killed 3,000 people.
Panic caused by the tremor quickly turned to anger as Algerians accused the government of turning a blind eye to the shoddy work of unscrupulous builders.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ordered an investigation, which later found serious faults in the construction of thousands of houses, apartment blocks and high-rise buildings that collapsed in the quake-prone province.
The 28 were convicted on charges including "manslaughter, fraud on the quality and quantity of construction materials and the non-respect of building standards".
They can appeal within a week against the convictions issued by judge Redouane Benabdallah, who also acquitted 10 other people.
I wonder what the consequences will be for whoever screwed up in Minneapolis yesterday? Knowing the Administration's track record for rewarding or ignoring failure, there probably won't be any.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
In Richmond v. Mississippi Dept. of Human Services, Southwick joined the 5-4 majority that upheld the reinstatement of a white social worker who was fired for calling a black employee a "good ole n****."
"[T]he opinion that Southwick joined accepted without any skepticism Richmond's testimony that her use of the racial slur was ‘not motivated out of racial hatred or animosity directed at her co-worker or toward blacks in general, but was, rather, intended to be a shorthand description of her perception of the relationship existing between the [co]-worker and [a Department of Human Services] supervisor,'" said Ralph G. Neas, president of the People for the American Way (PFAW) and Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in a May 8 letter
of opposition to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
The four dissenting judges in Richmond recognized this as a faulty argument and a threat to civil rights: "The word "n****" is, and has always been, offensive. […] There are some words, which by their nature and definition are so inherently offensive, that their use establishes the intent to offend." The dissenting opinion was confirmed when the Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously overturned Richmond.
In another case, S.B. v. L.W., Southwick joined the 5-4 majority that denied a woman custody of her child. The majority considered the sexual orientation of the mother to be a legitimate factor in deciding custody.
But Judge Southwick even went further by joining a concurrence which held that homosexuality is a "choice that bears consequences." As PFAW and HRC stated, "the concurrence appears to have been written for the sole purpose of underscoring and defending Mississippi's hostility toward gay people and what it calls ‘the practice of homosexuality.'"
Unfortunately for blacks and gays in the 5th Circuit, Judge Southwick is likely to be confirmed by the Senate.
The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse is this: You cannot post ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal,’ ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery’, and ‘Thou Shall Not Lie’ in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment…..It gave me a chuckle.
Where even to begin? First, it is a horrible waste of legislative time to address a purely symbolic resolution, especially with all of the far more pressing issues the country is facing.
Second, even though it is a symbolic resolution that will have no effect on the law if passed, I find it problematic that the legislature would support an organization whose goal is to restore the Ten Commandments in public places in spite of the 1980 Supreme Court Decision Stone v. Graham, which found that the Commandments are "undeniably a sacred text," and that their public display violates the First Amendment.
Third, the language of the H.RES.598 is facetious. It seeks to congratulate the Ten Commandments Commission for “promoting and ensuring recognition of the Ten Commandments as the cornerstone of Western law.” The Commission is not actually concerned with dubious premise that the Ten Commandments are the base of Western Law, they wish to prop up the Commandments as the Word of God itself, in hopes of giving the Bible greater authority in our laws and daily lives. Their mission statement reads:
As committed people of faith, we have an obligation to stand up together for God. His law is not only a profile of His character, but also a moral mirror to show humans where we have fallen short in both honoring the Creator, and in respecting our fellow man. Therefore, as we witness the degradation of society, we must come together in a spirit of unity, harmony, and reconciliation to bring the Word of God back to the forefront of our national conscience.
Now to address this claim that the Commandments are the foundation of Western law. For starters, the first four are explicitly religious and have nothing to do with secular law.
Further, the first documentation of written law was Hammurabi’s Code, which was written in approximately 1760 BC, 1000 years before the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments actually echoes many of the provisions of Hammurabi’s Code.
Then there’s the Magna Carta. Marci Hamilton, professor of law at Yeshiva University writes a nice column on the Ten Commandments, where she writes:
The Magna Carta, which forced the British King John to give up many rights to the aristocracy, was first set down in 1215 A.D. It was the first declaration that the people's ruler was under the law, the first check on royal power, and it introduced nascent concepts of due process, jury by one's peers, freedom of religion, and no taxation without representation.With all of that being said. Americans who support the separation of church and state should reject even symbolic encroachments of religion in the public square. However we should not loose site of the substantive encroachments that the Religious Right continue to push for such as: Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives, religious school voucher programs, the teaching of Creationism in science classes, and the denial of equal rights to gay Americans.
Other monarchs agreed to future Magna Cartas, and it came to be considered central to the law of England. Even though it took a back seat during the 1500s, it was re-discovered and embraced in the 1600s to fight the tyranny of the Stuarts. Parliament used it as a wedge against the monarchs, in effect, creating the beginnings of the separation of powers we now take for granted. It is common
knowledge that the principles of the Magna Carta were carried across the
Atlantic to the New World and the colonies, and bore fruit in the United States
Constitution and state laws.
The most recent copy was recently installed with much pomp and circumstance in a handsome display in Philadelphia's Independence Visitors' Center. There is no question that the Magna Carta--which was the first written declaration of rights by landowners against the monarchy--was a strong influence on later rights declarations, including the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
The vast majority of American law, including the rules against killing and stealing, was borrowed in whole or in part from the British common law--which itself was viewed either as rising from natural law or from custom, not from the Ten Commandments.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Albania tells Azerbaijan it will stop arms sales
Albania assured Azerbaijan on Wednesday it will take every measure to stop the sale of weapons to countries in a state of conflict, after Turkey sent back a shipment of Albanian weapons bound for Armenia.
"The Albanian government will use its authority with the utmost seriousness to take all necessary measures to prevent the sales of weaponry to countries in a state of conflict," Albanian Foreign Minister Lulezim Basha said.
Basha made the pledge in a telephone conversation with his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov, a foreign ministry statement said.
Last week Turkey stopped and sent back to Albania's Durres port 60 containers with weapons destined for Armenia, which denied it had bought weapons from Albania.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are in a state of conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region located within Azerbaijan's internationally recognised borders.
It broke away from Azeri control during a war in the 1990s and has proclaimed independence, though this has not been accepted internationally.
The head of Albania's state-owned weapons firm said he had sent the shipment because there was no embargo on arms sales to Armenia, press reports said.
Albania has been selling off its stock of Soviet-era weapons that were either imported from China or produced domestically, including an aging fleet of Mig airplanes.
Azerbaijan told Albania it considered the sale an act against Azerbaijan and asked the Islamic Conference Organisation to intervene on its behalf with fellow member Albania.
So we have Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey involved here (kind of confusing, too many As). I didn't know much about this dynamic, but learned the following from Wikipedia (I know, I know):
Turkeysupports the OSCE Minsk Group as a mechanism for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and views it from the principle of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Following a UN Security Council resolution on April 6, 1993, calling for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from the Azerbaijani district of Kelbajar, Turkey joined Azerbaijan in imposing the full economic embargo on Armenia
Still trying to figure out Albania's interest in arming Armenia. Besides pure profit, I'm ignorant at this point to the strategic motivations. Something to look into for later.