aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Dover may be over, but the problem’s not
My reaction to the Dover decision is an increasingly firm belief that we should teach religion in the public schools.
Now I’m as happy as anyone that the George W. Bush appointed Republican Judge John Jones wrote the opinion he did, but it doesn’t solve our problem. Just a little over a month ago we were all told that half of those surveyed believe the president was right to suggest that Intelligent Design be taught alongside evolution in the public schools.
Nothing I’ve read - and I’ve read a good amount - suggests that any of those people have changed their mind. So what do we do about that? Call them names and gloat about winning? That’s not victory to me.
When I told my friends in New York of my reaction they were aghast. The first group trotted out the old war-horse argument that religion is the root of all evil, the cause of all wars and of all our current problems.
I quoted, as best I could, the philosopher Jonathan Glover from his book Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century:
[p. 405] Those of us who do not believe in a religious moral law should still be troubled by its fading. The evils of religious intolerance, religious persecution and religious wars are well known, but it is striking how many protests against and acts of resistance to atrocity have also come from principled religious commitment. (A handful of names: Bishop George Bell, Elizabeth Anscombe, Bishop von Galen, Pastor Braune, Bernard Lichtenberg, AndrÃƒÂ© and Magda TrocmÃƒÂ© and the villagers of Le Chambon, and the bishop of Denmark in 1943.) The decline of this moral commitment would be a huge loss.
Now this notion that we should teach religion in the schools was slow to dawn on me. A British expatriate who teaches high school biology here said to me at a party last year that he believes our problem is the constitution.
It was obvious to him that all of this was a side effect of the lack of religious education in school. He says religion should be taught in school. All religion. World religion. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, you name it.
More recently on a Radio Open Source discussion of Intelligent Design in Dover and Kansas, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal said:
[41:15] A lot of this passion has much to do with the effort to drive all form of religious public observation out of American life. And it has a lot to do with the kinds of resentments that smolder when you throw out every Hanukkah bush and Christmas tree and every religious observation and the ACLU is permitted, is impelled to file law suits and save us from postage stamps that have the remotest resemblance to any religious… This too is salted down into the consciousness of religious people and it creates a kind of antipathy to the culture. Which I think you see the product of right here.
[Ken Miller, author of Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution and professor of Biology at Brown University 42:50] I think she’s hit it dead on. And I think she’s absolutely right. And the shame of all this is the shotgun that has been fired at educational standards in Kansas hasn’t just blown away evolution it’s blown away all of science by corrupting the very definition of science. And I think the point that I would make in all of this… I think Pat Robertson is distinguished in this debate by his piercing honesty. By his willingness to see this very, very clearly and I think he’s done a great service to Dover and the national debate by saying, look this really is about religion and there’s no question that it’s a backlash, a deep unease with scientific modernism. And I think the ultimate solution is to frame science and frame scientific education in ways that are not hostile to religion, and as you know I certainly believe that can be done, and also to create a climate where religious diversity is welcomed as much as a political racial and ethnic diversity in this country and I think we can do that.
My friends’ reaction: outright rejection. More on that later.
In the UK they see a grassroots revolution:
It is hard to pinpoint when things began to go wrong between the major record labels and the music-buying public. All anyone can say with any certainty is that the fun went out of the relationship a while ago. Maybe it was the record industry’s sour-faced approach to illegal file-sharing and downloading. Or perhaps it was the deadening routine of Pop Idolatry and over-hype. Either way, it was hardly surprising when the fans began to seek excitement elsewhere.
This has been the year fans have increasingly taken music into their own hands, rejecting the over-processed diet served up by many major labels in favour of something a little more homemade. In the process they have notched up numerous high-profile successes, including Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Spinto Band and Nizlopi.
Enabled largely by the internet, bands have been able to record and promote their own music, and fans to revel in it and pass it on - without the aid of major label backing, stylist and towering billboard advertisements. Furthermore, fans are finding it ever easier to interact directly with their favourite bands, rather than seek nourishment from the insubstantial publicist- approved quotes given in interviews. The result, of course, is that the charts in 2005 have become imbued with a rather joyous and friendly anarchy.
I only hope American bands and their fans are not far behind.
Via Monkey Bites.
Brokeback Box Office
I think it’s a straight movie for a straight audience that just happens to be wonderfully empathetic to gay people, but that doesn’t make me sure it will be a box office success. The jury is still out, even as all indicators are good:
The Ang Lee film, which follows the 20-year forbidden romance between two roughneck ranch hands, earned $13,599 per theater, compared with $9,305 for weekend winner “King Kong” and $8,225 for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
The big question is whether “Brokeback” can maintain its momentum as it moves from selected cities, where audiences are receptive to the subject matter, to suburbs far and wide, where that might not be the case.
Early numbers _ and early awards buzz _ establish the picture’s staying power, industry insiders say. “Brokeback” earned a leading seven Golden Globe nominations.
“It delivered very strong growth in what is truly a highly unforgiving, competitive, cruel market at this Christmas period,” said Jack Foley, president of theatrical distribution for Focus Features. “It showed it has breadth beyond the gay community.”
Will it make it to Macon?
[B]ringing a homosexual love story to the Bible Belt presents its own set of challenges. Various Christian groups voiced opposition to the film before its release.
Ted Baehr, who reviews films for the Christian Film & Television Commission, called the film “abhorrent” and “twisted, laughable, frustrating and boring neo-Marxist homosexual propaganda” in a review on the Commission’s MovieGuide Web site.
A dinosaur dies
A runaway still in Hbg, PA in 1973, I went to a psychiatry clinic and cried, “I’m a homosexual, please fix me.” The psychiatrist answered, “Why do you think you need fixing?”
Dumb luck Good fortune had me sitting with a founder of New York City’s Identity House, an organization set up in 1971 to find therapists who knew even then that homosexuality was a normal, healthy human expression, not a “neurotic adaptation.”
A well-known psychiatrist who championed the latter view in a half-dozen books and as a frequent guest on news and talks shows died this week.
His name was Charles Socarides, and his main contribution to the psychoanalytic literature was to assert that fathers induced homosexuality in their own sons in the first months of a baby’s life. His own son, Richard, of course, turned out to be gay - not only gay, but the Clinton administration’s liaison to the gay community. His father’s views long predate his own son’s emotional development, so the irony is exquisite, if not at all unique. (The number of passionate anti-gay activists with gay offspring - from Phyllis Shlafly to Alan Keyes - is almost surreally long.) [...] All but fringe psychiatrists and psychologists disown Socarides’ theories today - but they have political salience because of the Christian right’s control of the Republican party. In fact, it’s important to note that Socarides’ work, among other psychoanalysts, is the intellectual basis of the “Christian” “ex-gay” movement - one of those rare moments when Christians have had to rely on the atheism of Freud. By all intellectual means necessary, I guess.
Socarides, author of “Homosexuality: A Freedom Too Far,” was free to marry four times (and divorce three). In my recent post, Yeah, that’ll help, James Dobson quotes an acolyte on how to keep your son from becoming a homosexual:
Meanwhile, the boy’s father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son’s maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.
RELATED: Psychotherapy on the road to… where?
Erroneous media reports, DeLay edition
No high court appeal:
Media reports that U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay had convinced the state’s highest court to hear his appeal were as widely circulated as they were, well, wrong.
Justices for the Texas Court Criminal Appeals agreed merely to consider hearing DeLay’s money laundering case. They never said they would accept the case, said Edward Marty, the court’s general counsel.
The erroneous media reports, which the San Antonio Express-News published in a wire story and displayed online, come from DeLay’s spokesman, Kevin Madden, in an e-mail sent to reporters Tuesday evening, after courts had closed for the night.
Ney and Abramoff, whom DeLay once described as “one of my closest and dearest friends,” crossed paths as early as 1996. That year Ney took a trip to Montenegro sponsored by a foundation that had links to Abramoff, who was a lobbyist for Montenegro.
DeLay, a Christian conservative, did not quite know what to make of Abramoff, who wore a beard and a yarmulke. They forged political ties, but the two men never became personally close, according to associates of both men.
The latter via Atrios, “What are even to make of this construction? It would be unthinkable that the good and honorable and wonderful conservative Christian DeLay could be friends with big Jewy Jew Abramoff?