aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Crain on outing
I am an advocate of outing. I believe if you make my sexual orientation a political issue and work against my rights to freely express that orientation through my sexual activity, you make your sexual orientation and thereby your sexual activity open for public inspection (most especially, but not only, when you put it in the public realm by posting it on phone lines, websites or indulging in public sex).
Much more interesting to me than the spurious allegation that I “spiked” a story outing Ken Mehlman are the suggestions between the lines about what sort of evidence would justify going forward with a report “outing” him. RawStory quotes me (accurately) as saying that you can’t fairly report as fact that someone is gay unless that person says it to you. [B mine] That may seem overly cautious to some, but it’s the simple truth.
Though Crain agrees that “sexual orientation, in and of itself, is not a private thing” he insists again and again “the private sex lives of anti-gay politicians and those who work for them” are off limits.
It is not the role of the media, and should not be the role of the media - or activists, bloggers, or activists masquerading as journalists - to dig into the private sex lives of others, no matter how much the policies they advocate impact the sex lives of gay people. To quote some apt clichÃƒÂ©s, two wrongs do not make a right and the end does not justify the means.
There are more legitimate means of investigation. Looking into someone’s sexual orientation doesn’t require scouring phone sex lines, or hiding out in sex clubs, bathhouses and adult video stores - even though you could argue that each of these venues is quasi-public. It could mean simply reporting that someone has a same-sex love interest with whom they flit about town, or that they regularly show up at gay bars or parties.
So he thinks it’s public to be at a party (what of the private party?) but posting on websites, phonelines and going to sex clubs ("each of these venues is quasi-public") is not?
Huh? You can only report for a fact that someone is gay if that person tells you they’re gay? Apparently the Washington Blade now only reports stories where the subject of the story admits the substance of the story. Otherwise they kill it…
You didn’t seem too appalled when I got you in the New York Times last year on this issue. You didn’t seem too appalled when you begged me to write you an op ed supporting outing for your paper, and I did. You also didn’t seem too appalled when Mike Rogers gave you story after story about the outing campaign, and you printed story after story that he gave you, and when you outed GOP Hill staffer after GOP Hill staffer that Rogers handed you.
All this fuss over a newspaper. Have you heard? Even newspaper people don’t read newspapers anymore, preferring instead the web.
I’d bet on John.
RawStory posted a response to Crain’s editorial.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Protection or progress
Doron Ben-Atar, a professor of history at Fordham University and author of Trade Secrets: Intellectual Piracy and the Origins of American Industrial Power looks at MGM v Grokster over at The Chronicle Review:
There is no denying that commercial use of copyrighted material is both illegal and immoral. Yet estimates of the cost of piracy are misleading. They don’t account for the fact that piracy fuels demand for entertainment products: 2004 was a banner year for pirates; it was even better for the movie industry, where rentals and sales of DVD and VHS movies accounted for nearly $26-billion.
History is full of examples of governments that tried to stem the outflow of knowledge and technology. Venice locked its glassmakers on the island of Murano. England kept its textile mills closed to visitors, imprisoned artisans who were trying to leave the country, and even forbade the export of steam engines for a short while. Medieval Venice and 18th-century Britain enjoyed great coercive powers over their citizens, and yet their efforts utterly failed.
America is watching
Gallup. 3/21-22. MoE 4%. (2/24-28 results.)
Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?
Approve 45 (52)
Disapprove 49 (44)
Cell phone viruses
I’ve gotten a few emails about the cell phone virus threat. Here’s CNET’s take on the phantom menace:
Cell phone viruses could someday walk the talk and become a real danger, but I believe it will be some time before this becomes a reality...malicious code writers have moved past the fame game and are now seeking financial gains for their exploits. This means there is little motivation in writing a piece of malicious software just to crash a cell phone, apart from proving that it can be done...The more imminent danger, in my view, is an increase in mobile spamming and phishing scams, and not malicious programs wreaking havoc over the airwaves. Even if a mobile virus manages to proliferate, operators should theoretically be able to contain the damage by providing patches “over the air.”
Closet cases are dangerous
The driver was a middle-aged white man… The kid told him to take a right at Main Street. But the man didn’t. I’ll get you home, don’t worry about it, the kid remembers him saying. Then the man started rubbing his thigh. Are you gay? he asked. Are you bi? No? Are you sure? The kid was trying not to freak out. He saw a red light ahead and clicked open his seatbelt, bracing himself for the jump out. But the light flicked to green.
The police report identifies the man as Alex Arshinkoff, Republican Party county chair. Nothing was done of course, “You’ve got a he said/she said situation, or in this case, he said/he said.”
Out proud gay people don’t pull this kind of crap!
In the summer of 2001, [Michael] Curry, who works for the Summit County Board of Elections, spotted Arshinkoff at the Leather Stallion, a gay bar on St. Clair. The Democrat made a point of greeting Arshinkoff “just to freak him out,” he says.
Thirty minutes later, Arshinkoff came over and asked him to stay quiet about seeing him there, Curry says. Curry replied that it wasn’t his style to out people. “It’s just not my belief system,” he says.
Make a living will II
But before you go, Michael BÃƒÂ©rubÃƒÂ© points out that:
(a) some courts have insisted that advance directives have to be quite detailed with regard to specific levels of care and specific states of injury or illness;
(b) advance directives give courts and guardians guidelines for honoring patient autonomy- most importantly, an individual’s right to refuse treatment- but, of course, cannot account for the possibility that an individual might change his or her mind about refusing treatment after becoming ill or injured (and that such an individual might be incapable of saying so); thus, there is a possibility that the ideal of patient “autonomy” can be invoked both to honor the advance directive and to set it aside in favor of the argument that a patient’s radically changed circumstances, due to illness or injury, might have induced him or her to reassess his or her desires about treatment;
(c) the difficulties of entertaining the possibility that a person might “change her mind” about her advance directive become even more impossibly complex when the person’s mindedness is precisely what’s in question, as in cases of dementia, mental illness, or injuries and illnesses that leave a person conscious but incompetent; and
(d) adults with intellectual disabilities may not be competent to execute advance directives in the first place.
He details all this with examples and concludes:
...it seems to me the truly liberal imperative here should lead us to honor the wishes of others with regard to their desires to refuse medical treatment when those wishes can be ascertained by a preponderance of the available evidence, and we should likewise defer to the wishes of the legal guardians of incompetent persons, charitably granting them the assumption that they are indeed acting in what they perceive to be their charges’ best interests. And we should do so even when we ourselves disagree with other people as to their own wishes, or their perceptions of the best interests of those whom they serve as guardians.
Even with a living will, there could well be cause for someone else to make decisions regarding my care, course of treatment or whether or not to take life sustaining measures. That the law designates a spouse to be that person is reasonable and good to me; I certainly want to pick who that person will be.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Say it ain’t so
Nightline is 25 tonight and rumors abound:
Doubt hangs heavy over tonight’s landmark broadcast...The gossip mills are working overtime in those august centers of broadcast journalism, New York and Washington, D.C. Is ABC about to say good night and goodbye to the acclaimed weeknight series?
Will Koppel be swapping jobs with former Clevelander George Stephanopoulos, anchor of the ABC morning news show “This Week”? Is the 30-minute “Nightline” going to be revamped, emerging in a younger and hipper hour format?
Does ABC want the late-night time slot for an entertainment show that will be more appealing to the 18-to-49 age demographic that advertisers most prize? And even if the newsmagazine survives in some form, is this the end of the “Nightline” for Koppel?
You all know how much I love the show and would hate to see it go.
Scots bishops OK re: Gay Episcopal Priests
The bishops of the Scottish Episcopal church yesterday defended their admission that they ordain gay clergy as their stance threatened to exacerbate divisions in the worldwide Anglican communion.
The church’s March 4 statement that a relationship with a member of the same sex is not “a bar to the exercise of ordained ministry” was only taken up in the Scottish press and then by the BBC yesterday.
The statement added that the church sought to be welcoming and open to persons of homosexual orientation.
Hyundai & XM
Hyundai Motor plans to offer XM Satellite Radio as standard equipment on all U.S. models by 2007, the automaker said Wednesday. Hyundai will include the service on three models for 2006: the Sonata, the Alantra and the Santa Fe. “We’re the first car company” to make it available on all models, said Hyundai of America CEO Bob Cosmai.
Much as I do agree with the critiques of Chris Bowers and Jeffrey Feldman, I come away asking, like Barrie did after reading my post, “Ok I’m with you but what do you envision for an effective protest?”
Then I remembered ACT UP NY in the late 80s. For me that’s the gold standard. They got media coverage, changed laws and saved lives. Feldman points to the “Pink Slip Protest” organized by the People for the American Way at last year’s Republican Convention in New York and proposes:
These three changes seem to be crucial to the new era of progressive politics: 1. Protest Economics first, then foreign policy.
2. Stage a protest that uses the motion of the viewer, rather than a march. 3. Think in images of individuals, rather than photos of faceless crowds.
I agree. But still, after a day or so of mulling it over I want to come out in favor of the good old-time venerable big-time inclusive protest march. I watched the one up Eighth Avenue (also during the Republican Convention) on C-SPAN here in Georgia while talking on the cell phone to friends who were marching in it. It was everything we criticize but I was glad to see it on TV. It looked great!
I don’t want to let the values voters pull the Democratic party to the center and I don’t want to let effective conservative actions make ours more autocratic. The protest march has a distinguished heritage. They’re inclusive and democratic and diverse and tolerant. So they’re unfocused, who cares? Gay pride events have a long history of that. I’ve grown to like it.
None of that negates the call for other, innovative, possibly even more effective actions. These times may indeed call for ACT UP-style “non-violent direct action, often using vocal demonstrations and dramatic acts of civil disobedience.” I look forward to seeing more young passionate and committed progressive activists. Discussions like this are good for grooming them. Creative action will come, has come: look at all these bloggers.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Not Just Soaking Up Rhetoric - Sponge Bob Revisited
A colleague of Joe’s and mine is a Southern Baptist. Today, he called the Sponge Bob controversy ridiculous. “He makes us look stupid,” he said. “Who?” I asked.
“Dobson,” said our friend, ”makes Christians look stupid.”
Hope against smoke
Georgia moved one step closer to a statewide smoking ban Tuesday when the House approved a bill to prohibit smoking in most enclosed public places that allow minors.
After more than three hours of passionate debate, lawmakers voted 118-52 to approve a weaker version of Senate Bill 90. The Senate now must review the amended version, which allows smoking in bars and restaurants that do not serve customers younger than 18 or employ anyone younger than 18.
“I can’t believe this bill passed,” said June Deen, head of the Georgia Alliance for Tobacco Prevention, a coalition of 300 groups that have fought for the measure for several years.
If it does finally pass, it will be broadly popular.
“This is a clash between the social conservatives and the process conservatives, and I would count myself a process conservative,” said David Davenport of the Hoover Institute, a conservative research organization. “When a case like this has been heard by 19 judges in six courts and it’s been appealed to the Supreme Court three times, the process has worked - even if it hasn’t given the result that the social conservatives want. For Congress to step in really is a violation of federalism.”
Stephen Moore, a conservative advocate who is president of the Free Enterprise Fund, said: “I don’t normally like to see the federal government intervening in a situation like this, which I think should be resolved ultimately by the family: I think states’ rights should take precedence over federal intervention. A lot of conservatives are really struggling with this case.”
Even so “overwhelming majorities supported the Schiavo bill.”
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Alas 25,000, here 20
Alas (a blog) reached 25,000 comments yesterday; I reached 20 today. The Last Minute asks that you please post comments rather than send an email; I just added an eMail Joe link to every post on the site.
Instapundit has none. Neither does The Carpetbagger Report. I decided from the start that I wanted them; even as I’m not real eager for the rough and tumble I sometimes see in other bloggers’ comments.
I’ve written a personal note to everyone who’s posted a comment here; I’m excited every time one shows up. I write new entries responding to commenters. Yeh, I want comments.
So please, go ahead and leave a comment if you’d like. Or feel free to send an email. Whatever’s your style is good by me.
More on the Google Toolbar
Earlier today I listened to the first edition of Sound Policy with Denise Howell - who’s got a great looking blog I just added to my blogroll. Denise hosted an excellent, fascinating, 50 minute conversation (available free through IT Conversations) on the controversy surrounding the auto-link feature of the new (3.0 beta version) Google Toolbar.
Joining Denise were Cory Doctrow (who’s got a great personal site besides co-editing BoingBoing, which pointed me to the conversation in the first place), Martin Schwimmer of The Trademark Blog, and Robert Scoble, “Microsoft’s best known blogger.”
There’s no small talk here, they take off like a rocket and keep at it. What a wonderful advocate Cory Doctrow is. I want him on my side and he is. He’s all for the auto-link feature. Martin Schwimmer was clear on the legal issues. And Robert Scoble defends the rights of the “content producers.”
For at least eight years, Frist has been making medical pronouncements on all manner of medical issues outside his speciality (he’s a heart surgeon), and his message is always the same: You can’t trust all those other doctors, but you can trust me because I am a doctor.
Last December, when asked by George Stephanopoulos whether HIV could be transmitted through saliva or tears, Frist refused to say that it could not, stalling three times before finally admitting, “It would be very hard.” That’s putting it mildly. In October 2001, after a letter containing anthrax was sent to Senator Daschle’s office, Frist assured his fellow senators that the anthrax wasn’t powerful enough to kill anyone, even though several people had already died in Florida and postal workers who handled the letter in D.C. subsequently died. And in 1997, when the Senate was debating the “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban,” Frist claimed on the Senate floor that D&X, the abortion procedure they sought to ban, was a “rogue procedure” that was not taught in medical schools, a claim that would come as a surprise to many teaching hospitals.
Frist is a doctor, yes. But he is not a neurologist, he is not an infectious disease specialist, he is not a biological agent expert, and he is not an obstetrician. He uses his “Dr.” title as a smokescreen to make politically-motivated pronouncements.
I sooo wanted to quote it from the moment Amy Sullivan wrote it.
Time for change
Here, at our local acknowledgement of the second anniversary of the war, Jen found the event lacking.
When I asked friends on the day before if they were planning to attend, the reaction ranged from tepid ("what’s their position on the war going to be?") to hostile ("It’s a vigil. Prayer. No, I’m not going.")
I argued that any gesture on the part of liberals here should be supported, that it would be good to get press coverage and let our Red neighbors know that we are here, out and proud, and that there is an important legacy of the religious left that should be revived and built on.
Those friends didn’t buy; they were someplace else on Sunday night. Evidently the local newspaper was too; no story ran Monday.
When was the last time that an issue which was supported by a national majority had protests that were so utterly ineffective? We need to wake up and realize that the way we are protesting is part of the problem.
Monday, March 21, 2005
The Economic Blues
Current economic slump got you down? Trapped in a red corner of a blue state, an island of blue in a red state, or turning purple with rage? Our local (well, right up the road) progressive newspaper offers a solution mentioned by American Blog Party :
You may have voted blue, but every day you unknowingly help dump millions of dollars into the conservative war chest. By purchasing products and services from companies that donate heavily to conservatives, we have been compromising our own interests as liberals and progressives. BuyBlue.org is a concerted effort to lift the veil of corporate patronage, so consumers can make informed buying decisions that coincide with their principles.
Women in the blogosphere
I’ve invited a few women who write for opinion magazines to guest blog on the subject this week. I’ll still be around blogging on other subjects, but the topic of female participation in opinion journalism will be taken over by The Nation’s Katha Pollitt, The American Prospect’s Garance Franke-Ruta, and The Washington Monthly’s own Amy Sullivan. Amy will kick things off later tonight, and all three of them will then be posting for the rest of the week.
I hope you’re enjoying my own guest blogger here, Jen, who happens to be a woman, as much as I am.
Seems we are weary of war images, NPR reports, and evidence for that is everywhere. In 2003 I protested the Iraq war in Portland (Oregon), surrounded by the outraged.
Last night Joe and I attended a local war vigil in which Christian community leaders offered prayers for the soldiers (living, wounded, dead) and for the U.S. leadership, and we were surrounded by the complicit.
Can TiVo buy the media?
TiVo sent an e-mail to journalists on Friday saying they could get a special $200 discount on the new TiVo-Humax Digital Video Recorder.
However, a TiVo spokesman told TVPredictions.com on Monday that the special price was not intended to influence the media’s coverage of the company.
My sense is the media loves them already, if not the business press and the occasional blogger (and even they love TiVO).
Via Thomas Hawk, who will be watching:
It will be interesting to see if/how the company responds to this one and it will be interesting to see if the blogosphere thinks that this is an important story or not.
I missed it
But it’s still on my TiVo. From Broadcasting & Cable:
Keen observers of a [Saturday Night Live] sketch about a celebrity roast of Clint Eastwood might have noticed something peculiar about how the show’s host, David Spade, was made up to look like Owen Wilson.
His nose looked like a penis. Not ‘kind of like a penis’; it looked like a urologically-correct appendage, right down to what we believe is called the dorsal vein.
UPDATE: I was wrong! It was the March 12 show, long since deleted. Oh well. There’s always the repeat.
Salon asks why is the media ignoring the polls?
The Schiavo episode highlights not only how far to the right the GOP-controlled Congress has lunged—a 2003 Fox News poll found just 2 percent of Americans think the government should decide this type of right-to-die issue—but also how paralyzed the mainstream press has become in pointing out the obvious: that the GOP leadership often operates well outside the mainstream of America. The press’s timidity is important because publicizing the poll results might extend the debate from one that focuses exclusively on a complicated moral and ethical dilemma to one that also examines just how far a radical and powerful group of religious conservatives are willing to go to push their political beliefs on the public.
Fiona Apple’s fans are downloading her music for free, then demanding that Sony release the album so they can pay for it. At least in the case of Fiona Apple, P2P isn’t hurting her CD sales. In fact, P2P appears to be Fiona’s only chance of actually getting her CD on store shelves at all.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient’s family’s wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother’s wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.
But he rushed back to Washington to be in place to sign a bill that could restore Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube.
Read Digby’s whole post.
More from the same Digby post:
Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.
Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo’s care thus far.
Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo’s because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.
And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.