aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, August 26, 2005
The Religious Right is reachable
In a post wishing good luck to Neil G. Giuliano, former four-term Republican mayor (1994-2004) of Tempe, AZ and the new President of GLAAD, Steve Miller criticized the organization for having “spent the last decade not constructively engaging the religious right.”
That led to this later post responding to a comment:
In our mailbag it’s suggested that the religious right is beyond the pale of debate because “bigots [aren’t] capable of dialogue.” I respond that “to refuse to confront the ideas of your opponents is a great, big cop-out,” and that “The religious right is not some splinter, Nazi sect; millions of hard-working, salt-of-the-Earth Americans find spiritual solace in its rituals and worldview. I don’t believe we should simply give up on trying to reach them (the religious right’s adherents, if not its leadership).”
There might be a few adherents out on the fringes of the religious right that might be reachable. They might be one experience of knowing a gay person, or having a gay relative, away from softening their positions. Those religious right adherents might be reachable on a one-to-one basis, such as when gay & lesbian relatives, acquaintances, and co-workers come out. But that’s about all I can see.
Frankly, I’m at a loss as to how to constructively engage the rest of the relgious right’s footsoldiers. Like I said before, they seem to want a world in which we don’t exist. Trying to engage with true believers on the right, with that as a starting point, seems like a collosal waste of time, energy and resources that might be better spent elsewhere.
I’m sure we can each point to the other side’s extremists to prove that we are right in stewing in our own little pot with our like-minded peers but I think that makes us just like them. Only justified in our view. Where does that get us?
My goal is, yes, to reach those “few adherents...that might be reachable” who are “softening their positions” and I’m glad to reach them “on a one-to-one basis.”
To do that I will likely be less strident and more respectful of their positions, not lump them into a stereotype, and consider their opinion. Then they might mine.
Jerry Falwell reminds me of my father, a smart man who sometimes says dumb things. And my mother, a good woman who believes some things I think laughable.
I can scorn them and laugh at them or I can try to change them and make them see my way. Or I can accept them and relate to them as they are and enjoy them in every way I can.
We’re a 50/50 country. I don’t have to change that many minds. But I have to live with all of them. I choose to live in mutual respect and tolerance.
Falwell softens on gay rights
Jerry Falwell may still believe we choose to be gay (remember Chris Matthews asking him on Hardball, ”How old were you when you chose to be heterosexual?”) but he has apparently come around to believing we deserve basic human rights. Today
Southern Voice reports on his August 5 appearance on MSNBC’s “The Situation with Tucker Carlson:Ã¢â‚¬Â�
“I may not agree with the lifestyle,” Falwell said. “But that has nothing to do with the civil rights of thatÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ part of our constituency.
“Judge Roberts would probably have been not a good very good lawyer if he had not been willing, when asked by his partners in the law firm to assist in guaranteeing the civil rights of employment and housing to any and all Americans.”
When Carlson countered that conservatives, “are always arguing against ‘special rights’ for gays,” Falwell said that equal access to housing and employment are basic rights, not special rights.
“Civil rights for all Americans, black, white, red, yellow, the rich, poor, young, old, gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or conservative value,” Falwell went on to say. “It’s an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on.”
Was Soulforce a factor in the shift? Soulforce has done extensive outreach to Falwell:
Soulforce was founded by Mel White, a gay man who had worked closely with Falwell (even ghostwriting his autobiography) and his partner Gary Nixon.
White and Nixon founded Soulforce and moved into a rented house across the street from Falwell’s church in 2001, after they realized that Falwell was not going to change his views and accept gays without long-term persuasion.
“I think last month when he dealt with his heart condition, he got closer to his maker,” Nixon said. “And I think he knows in his heart that what he was doing is wrong.”
Gay billboards in GA
Chuck Bowen, Georgia Equality executive director, will officially announce the addition of nearly three dozen additional billboards during the gay political group’s “Evening for Equality” benefit on Aug. 27.
“We’ll be placing a total of 34 ads on billboards throughout the state beginning Oct. 1,” Bowen said. “And this time we’ll be using real, live gay Georgians in the ads.”
Gates and Discovery
I read in the Times, and was surprised, that the Gates Foundation gave millions of dollars to the Cascadia Project at the Discovery Institute. At the time, and subsequently, I withheld judgment. Maybe there was a good explanation.
Today Salon puts it forward and I’m unconvinced. Instead there are even more connections than I imagined:
The Gates Foundation’s grants to Discovery are not the only connection Microsoft has to the institute. Mark Ryland, who heads the institute’s Washington office, is a former Microsoft executive, and a Microsoft employee named Michael Martin is a current member of Discovery’s board. A spokeswoman for Microsoft says that Martin served on the board in his personal capacity, not as a representative of the company. In an e-mail, Keith Pennock, the program administrator of Discovery’s Center for Science and Culture (which runs its intelligent design work), concurs. “Mr. Martin is a member of the Discovery Board in his individual capacity and does not represent the Microsoft Corporation. Does Microsoft support Discovery’s work on intelligent design? No.”
Kennock ends his e-mail to Salon with criticism over the inquiry into the groups that finance Discovery’s work. “Finally, I have been asked to advise you that it is unseemly for people who dislike one program at a think tank (or a university—or an on-line magazine, for that matter) to try to pressure funders of other programs there,” he writes. “It is illiberal and contrary to the spirit of free speech.”
As I understand free speech it is precisely about a society informed through a multiplicity of viewpoints. They have theirs, you have yours, I have mine. Mine is that it is a mistake to fund a project of an organization that is so clearly anti-science.
They can have and express their views, but I don’t think it is illiberal to call on a funder to look at the totality of an organization’s mission and work when considering grants. I hope the Gates Institute reconsiders.
Even with insurance my deductible and co-pays for routine medical procedures so far this year have cost me thousands of dollars. What was not routine, and cost another couple thousand in deductibles and co-pays and met maximums, was my dental needs.
On vacation a tooth cracked; that called for a crown. Later, another cracked, this one requiring a root canal. I felt lucky; they were concerned the crack went to the root which would have required pulling the tooth and an implant.
That would have cost more thousands of dollars. There are ways around the implant, more expensive in the long run because an implant is permanent, other alternatives are not.
Malcolm Gladwell begins his New Yorker article on the bad idea behind our failed health-care system with a graphic description of tooth decay, then follows up with these anecdotes from ”Uninsured America:”
Gina, a hairdresser in Idaho, whose husband worked as a freight manager at a chain store, had “a peculiar mannerism of keeping her mouth closed even when speaking.” It turned out that she hadn’t been able to afford dental care for three years, and one of her front teeth was rotting. Daniel, a construction worker, pulled out his bad teeth with pliers. Then, there was Loretta, who worked nights at a university research center in Mississippi, and was missing most of her teeth. “They’ll break off after a while, and then you just grab a hold of them, and they work their way out,” she explained to Sered and Fernandopulle. “It hurts so bad, because the tooth aches. Then it’s a relief just to get it out of there. The hole closes up itself anyway. So it’s so much better.”
People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you’re paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury. It isn’t, of course. The loss of teeth makes eating fresh fruits and vegetables difficult, and a diet heavy in soft, processed foods exacerbates more serious health problems, like diabetes. The pain of tooth decay leads many people to use alcohol as a salve. And those struggling to get ahead in the job market quickly find that the unsightliness of bad teeth, and the self-consciousness that results, can become a major barrier. If your teeth are bad, you’re not going to get a job as a receptionist, say, or a cashier. You’re going to be put in the back somewhere, far from the public eye. What Loretta, Gina, and Daniel understand, the two authors tell us, is that bad teeth have come to be seen as a marker of “poor parenting, low educational achievement and slow or faulty intellectual development.” They are an outward marker of caste. “Almost every time we asked interviewees what their first priority would be if the president established universal health coverage tomorrow,” Sered and Fernandopulle write, “the immediate answer was ‘my teeth.’ ”
My brother and his wife both have visibly rotting teeth and holes were other teeth once were. They also believe that America has the best healthcare system in the world.