aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Gay in America in 2006
A Gay and a Lesbian are among the slate of five nominees to become the next Episcopal Bishop of California. The Very Rev. Robert Taylor and the Rev. Bonnie Perry are among the nominations advanced by the Diocesan Search Committee (see the full slate of nominees here).
On May 6th, laity and clergy will meet in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral to elect the 8th Episcopal Bishop of California. A month later, in June, the bishop-elect will be considered for ratification by lay and clergy deputies and by the House of Bishops at the General Convention of the National Episcopal Church, in Columbus, Ohio. Following ratification, a consecration is scheduled for July 22. This list of names is not necessarily complete, since there is a petition process that allows other names to be submitted from members of our local churches. Other names may be added before March 13th.
Integrity, a national Episcopal LGBT group, hailed inclusion of a gay man and a lesbian woman in the slate of nominees. “As it has in the past, Integrity expects General Convention to follow canonical procedures to the letter, giving consent to the bishop-elect if there is no justifiable impediment to his/her consecration. The canons clearly state that, “No one shall be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age,” the group stated.
LATER: But, still, there’s this:
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky (AP)—Wearing vests covered in military patches, a band of motorcyclists rolls around the country from one soldier’s funeral to another, cheering respectfully to overshadow jeers from church protesters.
They call themselves the Patriot Guard Riders, and they are more than 5,000 strong, forming to counter anti-gay protests held by the Rev. Fred Phelps at military funerals.
Phelps believes American deaths in Iraq are divine punishment for a country that he says harbors homosexuals. His protesters carry signs thanking God for so-called IEDs—explosives that are a major killer of soldiers in Iraq.
Gay in America in 1960
Joel Dorius died this week. I had never heard of him, but when I was in the first grade…
[S]tate troopers and local police in Northampton, Mass., searched his home as part of raids on obscenity in the mail ordered by President Eisenhower’s postmaster general.
He and another untenured [Smith College] professor, Edward Spofford, had been turned in by Newton Arvin, a tenured literature professor whose home was raided first. What they found - pictures of men in their underwear and diaries of the closeted gay life - were mild by today’s standards but considered illegal pornography then.
The three men were charged with possession of pornography. Arvin agreed to testify against the others, but he later suffered a breakdown and committed himself to a mental hospital.
The three professors were suspended from Smith. Arvin was able to retire at half pay, but the school’s contracts with Dorius and Spofford were not renewed.
Dorius and Spofford accepted a guilty verdict so they could appeal under Massachusetts law. In 1963, the state’s Supreme Court overturned all three convictions.
Require our leaders to serve
Fewer and fewer of our leaders have military service in their rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ©s. They prefer to sweep blithely along from one comfy perch to the next, cushioned in self-regard, promoting, puffing, spinning, hitting their talking points, building their skill sets. They slip into public office without ever having been yelled at by a bullet-headed black man with sergeant’s stripes and made to stand up straight in 95-degree weather and march back and forth across a dusty field and not ask why. This is a shame.
The way to put military service back in the picture is to pass a constitutional amendment requiring that a candidate for president have at least two years of full-time military service. It would be a boon to the country, to the military and to the young. It would confirm the importance of service. The 42-year-old governor who discovers that he wants to be president would need to go down to the recruiting office and enlist. It’d be a big moment, like when Elvis went off to basic training. Think of Newt Gingrich climbing on a bus and going off to have his head shaved and his individuality taken away and rebuilt.
The Constitution requires the president to be at least 35 and a native-born American. The current president certainly casts doubt on the worth of that native-born requirement, but never mind—amend the Constitution and let the boys and girls of Harvard and Stanford and Yale ponder their future. You will see the Army become more representative of the country, more middle-class and educated, and when it is, it will not likely be sent so casually off to war as the blue-collar Army has been.
An eye for an eye
News that Mississippi plans to put pictures of sex offenders on roadside billboards sent me back to reread Salon’s interview with William Ian Miller, professor of law at the University of Michigan, on the fine art of revenge.
I have called Retributive Justice “the thinking man’s vengeance.” And Doug has explained to me that the biblical “eye for an eye” actually had a moderating effect on retribution at the time. Here Miller asks:
But why assume that what motivates the victim (or the victim’s survivors) is anger, rage and fury? Couldn’t they also be motivated by a sense of grief or duty or love? Perhaps they’re desperate to set things right for their loved one. Perhaps they’re not motivated by rage but by a grim sense of purpose, or a keen sense of obligation. We demean the wide emotional range of what an avenger might feel. Often in a talionic society what an avenger would feel is fear because he’s got to go do this duty against someone who’s already proven himself a killer.
When God says, “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord,” he’s taking a right that the people had and saying, “I’ll do it on your behalf.” Today, the state says to a victim, “We are taking away what, in prior times, was your right to settle this account and we will settle it on your behalf.” Supposedly, we do this for the benefit of the entire society. But if that price is less than what the victim would have gotten in the earlier system, isn’t the victim being asked to pay for a wider societal benefit? Doesn’t something more need to be done for the person who’s been wronged?
I come to what may be an opposite conclusion: that the judicial machinery does indeed detach us from retribution, but it exaggerates the retribution in the process.
If I had to club my neighbor - rather than, say, sue him - I’d have a more honest realization of the impact of my punishment, even if we include the additional distorting effect of rage. If I had to deal with the consequences of my rage, I might moderate some.
As it is I rage at politicians who operate through public policy. And it is clear to me that the policy that results is often not in the broad public interest.
Beyond the question of effectively limiting the behavior it sets out to limit, locking up human beings for long periods of deprivation while doing nothing to build the skills necessary to function in society either means perpetual lockup for virtually any crime or dumping criminals back onto the streets hardened to commit crimes again.
That’s a heavy cost burden for our society to bear.
Harvard Summers’ end?
This morning ABC is saying that the Wall Street Journal is saying that Harvard president Lawrence Summers will step down this week (but I’m not finding links).
My take, unschooled as it, has been more in line with the students:
By a three-to-one margin, undergraduates do not think that Lawrence H. Summers should resign his post as University president, according to a poll conducted by The Crimson this weekend.
Just 19 percent of undergraduates in the survey said that Summers should resign, while about 57 percent said he should not. The online survey polled 424 students and carried a margin of error of approximately 4.6 percent.
“I think he’s doing a fine job,” said Derek J. Horton ‘08. “I know the faculty hates him, but I think he’s kind of running Harvard like a business-and I respect that,” Horton said yesterday in an interview in Currier House dining hall.
I have no friends who agree. I’m open to persuasion.
Via Andrew Sullivan.
LATER: writing in Slate, James Traub says, “Summers was forced out of Harvard because he behaved so boorishly that he provided a bottomless supply of ammunition to his enemies.”
Blogging in China
I see all of this as part of the necessary process of change in China:
The [MSN blogging] site was the result of years of negotiations with Chinese officials. Microsoft lined up the Beijing Youth Daily, a state-owned newspaper, and others to provide content. Just before the launch, it struck a partnership with a state-owned investment firm in Shanghai run by Jiang Mianheng, the son of former president Jiang Zemin. The joint venture marked one of the first times a foreign-invested firm had obtained a license to provide Internet content in China.
Free speech advocates quickly attacked Microsoft for preventing Chinese bloggers from using words such as “freedom” and “democracy” in the titles of their blog entries. But MSN Spaces was a hit, and in less than five months, surveys showed it was overtaking Fang Xingdong’s Bokee as the most popular blog site in China.
Bloggers flocked to the site because of its superior software, which made it easy to include slideshows and was linked to Microsoft’s popular instant-messaging program. But Zhao said he chose MSN Spaces because it seemed less heavily censored than its Chinese competitors.
We’re all playing our role, and change is coming. Inevitably. Incrementally. I continue to stand by my optimism for China.
Via Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction.