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Sentinel Confrontations

December 21st, 2011 No comments
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I have a new piece over at The New Civil Rights Movement, where I explore several recent confrontations between right-wing Republicans and “ordinary Americans.” The very fact of these meetings presages the decline of the far right’s position on LGBT equality issues, but that doesn’t mean the death throes will be smooth. No. Expect continued thrashing, and bashing. Perry and Gingrich lead the way, and they’re so clueless they don’t even realize that their extreme positions are dooming their candidacy.

Too  bad, because a campaign season’s worth of this buffoonery would at least have had comic value. Expect instead a dreary slog, inching painfully toward next November.

“Sorry, Sorry, Sorry….”

August 25th, 2010 4 comments

Here we go again. Another prominent Republican, this time former RNC Chair and Bush Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman comes out (to the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder).

And now he’s, like, all into equality and stuff.

Here’s the core of his infuriating mea-sorta-culpa:

Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.
“It’s a legitimate question and one I understand,” Mehlman said. “I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally.” He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: “If they can’t offer support, at least offer understanding.”
“What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn’t always heard. I didn’t do this in the gay community at all.”
He said that he “really wished” he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, “so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]” and “reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans.”
It’s the last paragraph that had me wishing I’d printed the story out so that I could have torn it into tiny scraps. Note the unstated assumption: He couldn’t help the community sooner,  because he wasn’t yet out to himself. As if his long residence in the closet excuses his politically self-serving, homophobic agenda. Try “wouldn’t” instead of “couldn’t.”
This may come as news to Mehlman, but all of us who identify as part of the LGBT community had our own “journey” (to use his word), and many, many of us didn’t engage in gay-bashing while trying to figure it all out. It turns out to be quite possible to support gay rights even when you’re “straight.”
Read the whole story. Ambinder reminds us that Mehlman presided over the RNC and the Bush campaign at a time when our community was being used, again and again, as electoral fodder for their campaign in order to drive the base to the polls and give Bush his disastrous second term. Because of that, we have many more anti-gay constitutional amendments in place than would otherwise have been the case. Mehlman’s attempt at expiation by working with pro-equality groups can’t begin to unravel the harm he helped weave.
Oh, but let’s not be too hard on the guy. After all, he “privately” supported civil unions and, he claims, “privately” met with Republican officials to “beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage.” That seems to have worked well.
He’s still a Republican, of course. No matter that the party is way behind even the pathetic Democrats when it comes to LGBT issues; it’s all about the lifestyle and access to which he’s become accustomed. He’s like Stephanie Vanderkellen, the empathy-challenged character from the old Newhart show, who when forced to apologize for shocking behavior, apathetically intoned: “Sorry, sorry, sorry….”
I’m not usually this unforgiving, but this is a particularly egregious case. And Mehlman still doesn’t seem to quite get it.

The Hunt-A-Homo Chain

May 25th, 2010 2 comments

I.

Just when you thought the hammer couldn’t hit the Anti-Homo scale any harder, this one rings the bell. Really, check out this video. It’s only fifty seconds long and will astonish you — maybe. (I can’t embed it, or I would.) Listen as Baptist pastor Owens (no first name given, oddly!) calls for us to be shot with a “scatter shot gun.” That, he confidently predicts, will send us scurrying back to the closet. Oh, he’s sorry for having said it. He was young, after all. Listen to his “flock” scream their assent.

In a possibly unrelated story, Owens’ son pleaded guilty to the sexual assault of two under-age girls, one of whom he met at…church.

II.

Mike Huckabee had this to say a few weeks ago: Gay marriages shouldn’t be accommodated any more than incest, drug abuse, and polygamy should be. The affable but dangerous Huckabee added that gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt because “children aren’t puppies.”

I can see why Huckabee might have wanted gays to adopt puppies, though. Here‘s a story that you might have missed:

Two boy scout counselors, 17 year old Clayton Frady and 18 year old David litickabee [sic], the son of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, have admitted to catching a stray dog during their summer session at Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, AR, and hanging the dog by his neck, slitting his throat and stoning him to death.

Camp officials, who did not report the crime to law enforcement officials, have admitted that the act did occur and have fired the boys from their positions. However, no charges have been filed against the young men.

III.

The two men convicted in Malawi of gross indecency and sentenced to fourteen years at hard labor will appeal their conviction.

What is Wrong With Ann Althouse?

March 21st, 2010 5 comments

Ann Althouse’s blog features many funny and deliberately irreverent observations. I can’t always tell whether she’s being serious, and that’s OK — if not a job requirement — for a blogger. But it seems that her love of blog traffic (of which I’m admittedly envious) has overtaken her best judgment. Her recent post on the ugly racist and homophobic incidents that unfolded at yesterday’s Tea Party protest in Washington, as reported by, among others, that left-leaning MSM outlet known as “Fox News”, is just nuts. Here are some choice nuggets from her defense of the nasty people who hurled racial and anti-gay epithets at several African-American congressmen and at Barney Frank:

“There’s nothing wrong with showing anger at the thing that motivates you to protest. That’s what protests are for! The members of Congress have a lot of power, and they ought to have to hear the anger their exercise of that power is causing. It’s outrageous for them to pose as victims without very good cause. So what if some idiot said a bad word?”

Yeah, so what?  And how do we know that it was just “some idiot” and not a broader swath of the protesters? Althouse has the goods: Her husband told her (apparently he saw everything), and there’s a 48-second video that doesn’t contain any nastiness, posted on her website. Then she concludes, on that basis, that the race card was being played for nothing. “Shame!” (The fact that she actually uses the term “race card” is a problem by itself, but never mind.)

Nice evidence. Let’s look at some reliance  evidence, shall we? Here‘s a story, told by witnesses, recounting how Barney Frank had to call the capitol police to haul away some protesters who were banging on his door, shouting through the mail slot (classy!), and calling him “Homo communist” and telling him, cleverly, to “go homo to Massachusetts.”

Althouse might not know, somehow, that gays live in a society where our physical security is often at risk. (But by saying that, I’m sure I’ll be accused of playing the “gay card.”) Frank might well have believed that people banging on his door, shouting, and calling insults, might be about to do him harm. But that doesn’t seem to have occurred to her.

Later, she added a final inanity to the post, disputing the account that one Congressman had been spat upon by noting that no arrest had been made. Therefore, she’s assuming it’s a lie. What? Perhaps the offender eluded detection, slipped away, or the police weren’t right on the spot — to name just a few other possibilities in the real world of imperfect law enforcement. But she needs to provoke, so there it is.

All of this might be tolerable, barely, but for the willingness she has to post any and all comments, without editing or comments of her own, no matter how horrible. Andrew Sullivan repeated a few of these that her readers had for him this past Fall, and they’re far worse than anything accompanying this story. But some of these are bad enough. . As a law professor and a member of the profession, she should show some minimal discretion. Here’s an example of the kind of comment she allows (this from a reader reacting to a gay commenter’s offense):

Hey downtownload, you dumbfuck of a homo, did it ever occur to you that the more you show your naked hatred of “straights” the more it will be returned? It is good, profoundly good that normal America is getting it full in the face from all the marginal shits, it’s a lesson that will be well and truly learned and never forgotten. A tidal wave coming your way in November, fagellah.

At the least, she might have edited out the more vituperative epithets. But that’s not what drives traffic to her blog.

The Lighter Side of Gay Bashing

January 18th, 2010 No comments

By now you may have heard of this story. Notre Dame’s school newspaper, The Observer, ran a horrific “comic” strip, pictured in the linked story. The text (which leaves nothing worthwhile out, considering how untalented the artist is) went like this:

Character 1: “What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?”

Character 2: “No idea.”

Character 1: “A baseball bat.”

Get it? Bash a “fruit” (read: gay man, probably not lesbian) hard enough and he’ll spend the rest of his life in a coma. Could it have been worse? Well, that depends on what you mean by “worse.” The editorial board actually changed the text of the “punch” line from “AIDS” to a “baseball bat” (further showing that gay men are the group targeted). After all, the values of this proudly Catholic school couldn’t countenance wishing a deadly disease on someone. Well, actually the virus you’d give the fruit is HIV,which, in most cases today, isn’t fatal for people of means. So the beating is in fact much worse. But never mind….

When GLAAD jumped all over this, sincere apologies, at least one resignation, and the rending of garments ensued. OK, good. But here are a few lines from the apology you might have missed:

Allowing this cruel and hateful comic a place on our pages disgraced those values and severely hurt members of our Notre Dame family — our classmates, our friends. For this, we sincerely apologize.
Unfortunately, the language of hate is an everyday reality in our society. Earlier this week, surprising comments made by Sen. Harry Reid about President Barack Obama’s accent and skin color were made public and caused uproar. Now, at Notre Dame, a comic strip including hurtful language was printed in this publication, also causing — and rightly so — serious concern.

So the comic was no worse than Harry Reid’s benighted comments, according to the editors. I don’t expect great political sophistication from an undergraduate newspaper, but I can’t give this a pass, either. To do so would be both condescending and wrong. Reid’s comments (on Obama’s light skin color having helped him win the Presidency, which is surely a valid point) have also been compared to Trent Lott’s astonishing statements of a few years ago about how the country would have been better off had Strom Thurmond’s vision — of an eternally segregated society — become reality. This facile conflation of such different statements, in tone and context, betrays just the kind of tit-for-tat thinking that has come to dominate political discourse. No one’s any worse than anyone else, every statement on one side has its counter on the other, it’s all just one big game.

It isn’t. Just read the comments to the apology and see how thin the veneer between what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Some readers criticize the apology, while others use the occasion to rail against gay activism.

Bile is in many mouths, even if most dare not speak it. Instead it comes out in the code of legal and social oppression, justified by religion, natural law, and specious appeals to public welfare.