aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Gay Like Me
Straight friends recently moved away. Their house, on a heavily traveled downtown corner, had gay flags as drapes in the large living room windows. Now I learn there is a term, “ambiguation,” for what they were (perhaps consciously) doing. And they were even greater allies than I knew:
Ambiguation has long been deployed by gay, lesbian and bisexual people when they are closeted. But coming out can be ambiguating, too, because people who come out are bound to defy the preconceptions of their audience...If gay peoples’ “coming out” is ambiguating, so too might be heterosexual peoples’ “going in.” This “going in” for heterosexual people could include a variety of moves: permitting confusion about whether or not they are gay; foregoing opportunities to identify opposite sex partners as spouses; making affirmative statements that align them with gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, and not qualifying those statements with disclosure of their own heterosexuality. And just as [white author of 1959’s Black Like Me, John Howard] Griffin promoted civil rights for African-Americans by even temporarily assuming a black identity, so too heterosexuals can promote gay rights by tolerating greater ambiguity about sexual orientation...consider our friend (a lesbian we’ll call Sarah) in Madison, Wisconsin. Vandals broke a window and burned the rainbow flag Sarah had flown from her front porch. When Sarah talked with her neighbors about the attack on her home, one of her neighbors, who is heterosexual, suggested that all of the houses on the street should put up rainbow flags to show solidarity and support. The flags would say to the vandals, in effect: “Do you want to persecute gay people? Well, you’ll have to come after all of us, too.”
I’m sure going to miss those friends.
The whole post, from Jennifer Brown at Lessig Blog relating to her new book (with Ian Ayres), Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights, includes a list of do’s and don’t’s to help distinguish, for example, ambiguation from misappropriation of gay identity.
Read it, then go ahead, go out and let someone think you’re gay today!
The Record Effect
Alex Ross, writing in The New Yorker on how technology has transformed the sound of music:
Music has achieved onrushing omnipresence in our world: millions of hours of its history are available on disk; rivers of digital melody flow on the Internet; MP3 players with ten thousand songs can be tucked in a back pocket or a purse. Yet, for most of us, music is no longer something we do ourselves, or even watch other people doing in front of us. It has become a radically virtual medium, an art without a face...For music to remain vital, recordings have to exist in balance with live performance, and, these days, live performance is by far the smaller part of the equation. Perhaps we tell ourselves that we listen to CDs in order to get to know the music better, or to supplement what we get from concerts and shows. But, honestly, a lot of us don’t go to hear live music that often...It’s just so much easier to curl up in the comfy chair with a Beethoven quartet or Billie Holiday. But would Beethoven or Billie ever have existed if people had always listened to music the way we listen now?
Blame Change the media structure
Miller considers it a problem of a Media focused more on heat than light. I believe the problem goes much deeper than that. The utter disrespect for the truth exhibited by all media is the heart of the problem. Liars are not called liars. Falsehoods are not called falsehoods. What passes for reporting these days is “Republicans say _. Democrats say ___.” When someone spews falsehoods, there is not a Media outlet in the country that will say ‘that is false.’ Not the New York Times, not the Washington Post, not any of them.
Crooks and Liars agrees and so do I. BUT I would blame market-driven-corporate-owned media. And remember please that I’m a fan of the MSM who believes they do many things well. They’re only acting in a way that serves their best interest. A purely commercial media is just not up to that task.
We need to build a vibrant public media. Bill Moyers’ kicked off his speech to the National Conference on Media Reform by quoting Pat Aufderheide in the April issue of In These Times:
This is a moment when public media outlets can make a powerful case for themselves. Public radio, public TV, cable access, public DBS channels, media arts centers, youth media projects, nonprofit Internet news services ... low-power radio and webcasting are all part of a nearly invisible feature of today’s media map: the public media sector. They exist not to make a profit, not to push an ideology, not to serve customers, but to create a public—a group of people who can talk productively with those who don’t share their views, and defend the interests of the people who have to live with the consequences of corporate and governmental power.”
It’s time to use all the persuasive skills we can muster to get out there and make that case.
James Joyner points to an American Forces Information Service report on the Gallup Poll released this week showing that Americans have more confidence in the military than in any other institution. His conclusion:
Considering the wave after wave of bad press resulting from the Abu Ghraib and Gitmo scandals, this is impressive, indeed. Apparently, most Americans understand that most service members are honorable professionals putting themselves in harm’s way for their country and that the reason outrageous behavior makes the news is because they’re exceptions to the norm. One sometimes wonders if our journalists have the same sense of perspective.
Chris Bowers looked at the same poll much differently. He’s concerned that while Americans express confidence in democracy as an abstract concept, they have little confidence in democratic institutions, preferring instead those “that are not only undemocratic (the military, the police, organized religion), but even frequently rely upon force for their authority:”
What is perhaps most disturbing about this poll is that along with rising confidence in the military, the nation is expressing rising confidence in the police. In fact, at 63% this year and 64% last year, confidence in the police has reached an all-time high. If you couple rising confidence in the police and the military with declining confidence in the criminal justice system, elected institutions and the news media, you have the makings of a populace that would be comfortable with a police state. Now, while I personally think comparisons to our current government and Nazi Germany are absurd, offensive and based in ignorance, the growing national comfort with authoritarian and totalitarian measures cannot be ignored.
Friday, June 03, 2005
When I was a kid you had to get a permission slip to play sports. Here in Georgia the “Parent’s Permission to Participate Bill” specifically promises to exempt sports. So what kind of activity will you need your parent’s permission for? Participation in extracurricular activities and clubs in schools.
“This would be devastating to the kids that want to participate in gay-straight alliances at their schools, especially the kids who aren’t out yet and would have to come out to their parents in order to get permission to join,” said Chuck Bowen, executive director of the statewide gay rights group Georgia Equality.
The State Department of Education will consider a new regulation next Wednesday which would require parental permission before a student could participate in school extracurricular activities.
This regulation is as a result of one proposed a few months ago which was defeated in spite of the support of Kathy Cox, State Superintendent of Education who is a former Republican House Member and supporter of the conservative Christian Coalition.
Should this measure be adopted by the school board, it is likely that similar efforts will be pushed in other states with the support of the conservative right.
S. B. 149 and H. B. 661 are bills that would require schools to notify parents or guardians of all clubs and activities on school grounds and would require parental permission for students to join or participate in any of them.
These bills have been heavily lobbied against by the homosexual community as they continue to form “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs in pubic schools around the state without any notification being sent to parents about these clubs. In 2001 there were two such clubs in schools in Georgia—today there are 33 such clubs in schools in Georgia.
This issue just won’t go away. It was defeated last time around. Last time around was less than 2 months ago.
Too much democracy
Remember that Atlanta schools iBook deal?
MARIETTA, Ga. - A former Cobb County commissioner, accusing school officials of planning to misspend taxpayers’ money, has filed a lawsuit to stop a laptop computer program.
Former Commissioner Butch Thompson filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming that voters were not informed that a 1 percent sales tax would be used to start the program.
County voters approved the tax in 2003. As they did, school officials said they would replace students’ “obsolete workstations.” The lawsuit contends that language was not specific enough to inform voters that the system intended to provide computers for all students in grades six through 12.
We complain about our public schools while public schools are the most democratically accountable institutions. Give them those rights and obligations required to do their work, then butt out!
Novak on Hillary bashing
From Media Matters:
From a discussion of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) between co-hosts Robert D. Novak and Paul Begala on the June 2 edition of CNN’s Crossfire:
BEGALA: But I love to see the Hillary-bashing from the right. It tells me that she is probably the most powerful and effective progressive on the Democratic side, and I have three words for you: God bless Hillary.
NOVAK: Well, see, I don’t --
BEGALA: God bless her.
NOVAK: I don’t—I don’t bash Hillary because I think she’s weak. I don’t bash her because I think she is strong. I bash her because I like to.
God bless her.
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/6/3/122340/1926">Kos quotes an army memo on attrition then commments:
...batallion commanders once had the power to kick people out for drug abuse, failure to meet physical fitnes guidelines, poor conduct, etc. Now they don’t, as that is thinning out ranks at a time when the Army is having trouble filling its ranks.
This is one step closer to an Army of malcontents and drug users. Shades of Vietnam, yet again.
These people are destroying our military.
Drugs are ok, who cares about fitness or bad conduct, but keep out those gays!
The newspaper industry in 2005 is [a] hand-wringing nerd. And it’s time to get over it. It’s time quit worrying about what Rush Limbaugh or Fox News or Al Sharpton or some White House official or some always-irate, prolific letter writer might say or do in reaction to our work. We need to quit letting these self-absorbed, biased, agenda-obsessed critics send us into paroxysms of self-doubt and public crying jags. In America, nobody respects a crybaby.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
NPR should kiss off government funding
Since the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act more than 35 years ago, Americans have relied on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), National Public Radio (NPR), and other public broadcasting outlets to provide quality programs and independent journalism free from political or commercial pressure.
I’m generally inclined to agree with Media Matters’ goals, and most certainly agree that action must be taken to address the blatant political pressures that have been stepped up recently. Where I disagree is in the rose colored tint of that first sentence.
CPB, PBS and NPR are now and always have been subject to both political and commercial pressure. Annual Congressional budget reviews have inherent political pressure and reliance on corporate underwriting means commercial pressure.
We have no publicly funded public media in this country. CPB was initially tolerated because it took some of the pressure off broadcasters to produce public interest programming. As the public interest requirement has eroded, so too has the annual congressional appropriation.
Public broadcasting cannot be truly “public” because it must rely on contributions, corporations, and foundation grants which encourage a tendency to appeal to affluent audiences, appease corporate contributors and present non-controversial fare. Those few exceptions have proven enough to bring on this most recent Right Wing attack. But this is nothing new.
Political conservatives have been targeting PBS for more than 20 years with a steady stream of public relations campaigns carefully designed to rein in what remains of public television’s independence. Conservative charges in this week’s New York Times story “Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases” are eerily similar to those reported in the 1992 Times story “Conservatives Call for PBS To Go Private or Go Dark” and the 1986 Times story “Accused of Bias, PBS Plans a Policy Review.”
Contrary to the claims of conservative critics, scholarly research on PBS shows that public television is not a haven for alternative perspectives, but is looking more and more like its commercial counterparts. Public television’s public affairs programs include a remarkably narrow range of sources and experts. It is particularly noteworthy that stories about the economy are organized around the views and activities of corporate actors and investors. Indeed, concerns of the corporate and investment communities are the principal frame for most economic coverage on public television, making the perspectives and experiences of citizens, workers, and consumers seem tangential to the real economic news.
These valid criticisms are overlooked or ignored, while claims of liberal bias and an impression that government funding accounts for the lion’s share of public broadcasting’s budget are pervasive.
So let’s call their bluff.
A recent Boston Phoenix article detailed the failings of network news, both broadcast and cable, and declared definitively that the present belongs to NPR:
EVERY WEEK, somewhere between 23 million and 29 million Americans tune in to National Public Radio. In the apples-and-oranges world of television and radio ratings, it’s hard to know precisely how to compare TV’s daily numbers with radio’s weekly audiences. But there seems to be little question that NPR is now the second-largest broadcast news source in the United States, still trailing the network newscasts, but catching up rapidly - and far ahead of the cable news shows upon which media critics regularly dump barrels of ink.
NPR’s audience has at least doubled in the past decade. The only radio program with a larger audience than NPR’s two drive-time newscasts - Morning Edition and All Things Considered - is Rush Limbaugh’s talk show. The NPR audience tends more toward middle age than youth; in the past year or so, for instance, I’ve heard Lyle Lovett and, just last week, John Prine come on ATC to plug their latest CDs. But that’s still a lot younger than the network news audience. And whereas the television news audience is shrinking because it defies cultural trends, the public-radio audience is growing along with those trends.
A look at the numbers is revealing: NPR got only between 1 percent and 2 percent of its 2004 budget of $369 million from CPB. (PBS got 24% of its budget, approximately $80 million, from CPB and federal grants.)
Compare that to Howard Stern’s $100 million a year contract with Sirius.
NPR should keep its tax exempt status and operate as non-profit entity, but kiss off its government support. And they should do it loudly and proudly on the principle of breaking free of government meddling.
The partisan in me thinks that this will be a broadly popular move, a poke in the Tomlinson eye. It could even sway public opinion enough to reign in his efforts at PBS.
It could, too, start the dominoes falling and bring down the whole Public Broadcasting structure as it is now. That would be a shame. But a groveling handmaiden of political power is worse.
The Pentagon won’t tell
On Wednesday the army delayed release of May recruitment numbers:
...this information must be reasonably scrutinized and explained to the public, which deserves the fullest insight into military performance in this important area,” [Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen] Krenke said.
An Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq wants a chance to remain in the military as an openly gay soldier, a desire that’s bringing him into conflict with the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, says he has not encountered trouble from fellow soldiers and would like to stay if not for the policy that permits gay men and women to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret.
And 79 percent of respondents said gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military, up from 57 percent in a 2000 Opinion Dynamics Poll. In the early 1990s, when President Clinton first raised the issue, support for gays in the military was even lower. Large majorities of Republicans, regular churchgoers, and people with negative attitudes toward gays think gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.
Wal-Mart’s health care critics
At the rally at the state Capitol in Atlanta, organizers displayed a 3-foot-by-6-foot mock Wal-Mart customer receipt, showing Georgia spends an estimated $13 million a year on health care coverage for the children of Wal-Mart employees.
It’s based on a Georgia Department of Community Health survey, showing 10,261 of the 166,000 children covered by Georgia’s PeachCare for Kids health insurance in September 2002 had a parent working for Wal-Mart Stores - far more than the state’s other large employers.
Christianity Today looked at the benefits issue last month and concluded that “the facts don’t always justify the rants directed against the company:”
Detractors point out that Wal-Mart covers only 48 percent of its employees. But according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, in the retail sector overall only 45 percent of workers receive health coverage from their own employer...Health-care premiums for U.S. employer plans increased 11.2 percent in 2004, the fourth consecutive year of double-digit increases. Wal-Mart’s coverage seems to reflect a company facing spiraling health-care costs for more than 1.5 million employees.
Still, it’s reasonable to target the giant company. The fact that the entire retail sector is as bad or worse doesn’t mean there is no problem. Rather, it means Wal-Mart is in a position to do something even more meaningful both in the area of employee benefits and in spiraling health-care costs.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Donkeys may not be kept in bathtubs
That’s a dumb law in Georgia from dumblaws.com.
Not as many, or as dumb, as I expected.
Via Bill in Portland Maine at Kos.
If your phone plays a classic rock tune, you’re showing your age, but you get points for figuring out how to change the ringer, Gramps.
Er, I don’t even get points--no patience for picking one (and it would probably be stretched doing the download). I’m not big on flea markets either. Doug, help?
I missed it the first time. Kos:
A while back, I asked people to register a “dailykos” account for every free site requiring a registration.
Well, it’s a rare day when I come across a site that doesn’t have one set up. Heck, the last post, taken from the Evansville (IN) Courrier & Press, had an account. So we’re not talking big time papers here. So here’s a reminder to the old times and announcement to the more recent visitors:
If the site asks for a username, it’s:
If the site asks for an email login, it’s:
(BTW, don’t email me at , since all email sent to it goes straight into a spam folder unless you’re in my address book.)
There are two possible passwords. Most of the time, it’ll be:
However, there’s a minority of sites that require a number in the password, so if “dailykos” doesn’t work, try:
Now, if you come across a site that doesn’t have a dailykos account, please set one up.
Great idea. I’m on board.
I’m watching to see what Slate editor at large Jack Shafer and NYU’s Jay Rosen have to say on anonymous sources in light of Deep Throat’s unmasking. Me, I stand by my antipathy even as I acknowledge the necessity sometimes. (And I still want to end the background briefing.)
UC Berkeley j-school dean Orville Schell says it’s “deeply ironic” that Mark Felt comes forward at a time when anonymous sources are being so impugned. “I think it would be an incalculable loss to this country if all anonymous sources became forbidden, particularly in this era of governmental and corporate secrecy—and I might add, ecclesiastical secrecy,” says Schell. “The price has been raised very high for whistle-blowers.”
I became politically active in those early Watergate days, so it’s ironic that I have little interest in the story beyond mild regret that it’s giving those who are hooked on anonymous sourcing renewed vigor.
Timothy Noah, Deep Throat, Antihero:
Why did Felt maintain his silence for so long? Part of the reason, I imagine, is that Felt knew his prosaic, bureaucratic-infighting motive was at least as strong as any moralistic desire to expose the truth about the crooks in the White House. That tarnishes Deep Throat’s luster a little. Also, Felt’s previous brush with national publicity involved his criminal conviction for bypassing warrants in his investigation of the Weather Underground… Possibly, too, he could imagine that the press would note that Deep Throat shared with Nixon an enthusiasm for illegal break-ins. But the main reason, I think, was that Felt saw his leaks as a betrayal of the FBI.
If you’re interested, Slate’s Deep Throat Archive.
Opt-in to non-discrimination
Ian Ayres has a new book, Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights. And a new project, the Fair Employment Mark (pdf).
In a post today on Lawrence Lessig’s Blog he writes:
A little-known piece of intellectual property, the certification mark, provides a viable mechanism for employers to commit to not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. With just a few clicks of the mouse, at www.fairemploymentmark.org any employer in the country can license the “Fair Employment Mark.” It is an innocuous symbol, an “FE” inside a circle. There are lots of parallels to the Creative Commons. Both are reinventions of traditional intellectual property licenses to make the world a better place.
The idea is simple, really. By signing the licensing agreement, an employer gains the right (but not the obligation) to use the mark and in return promises to abide by the word-for-word strictures of ENDA (the proposed federal statute that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation). Displaying the mark on a product or service signals to knowing consumers and employees that the company has committed itself not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
ENDA is given no chance of passage during the Bush administration even as…
A boatload of prominent corporations - including the likes of AT&T, Coors, IBM and General Mills - have already come out and endorsed ENDA. Virtually all the corporate endorsers of ENDA already have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation. But the pretty words of nondiscrimination policies sometimes turn out to be only that. If an employer discriminates against an applicant because she is gay, it is far from certain that the employer would be liable for breach of contract - even if the employer has a non-discrimination policy.
Lots of businesses say they oppose this kind of discrimination. They adopt policies and endorse ENDA. Few employers, given the chance, would opt out of race discrimination laws. Few employers would opt out of ENDA if a waivable version were enacted. Now, with the Fair Employment mark, they have the opportunity to opt in.
A great idea that deserves to catch on.