aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
More on anti-gay love
Ah, yes. The danger of the Jews/Gays spreading their disease throughout society, their enormous power despite tiny numbers, their ability to pass, their threat to children, their flaunting of their disagreement with the New Testament. It’s all so familiar. I think the arguments now made by some Christianists are replicas of the old anti-Semitism, peddled by so many Christians in the past: that Jews are to be loved, but loving them is dependent on their conversion to Christianity; that you can love individual Jews while disdaining Judaism; that Jews’ stubbornness in resisting conversion is evidence of their inherent evil; that such evil, at some point, has to be segregated from mainstream society as much as possible. Gays are not the new blacks. They’re the new Jews. And the Church, in both Catholic and Protestant variants, is dredging up its old anti-Semitism in new guises. The GOP is along for the ride.
Anti-gay action rooted in love
In light of the action in the GA Senate today, I am compelled to quote again Russell Shorto in the Times Magazine last June, What’s Their Real Problem with Gay Marriage (It’s the Gay Part):
I found no one among the people on the ground who are leading the anti-gay-marriage cause who said in essence: ‘’I have nothing against homosexuality. I just don’t believe gays should be allowed to marry.’’ Rather, their passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself. [...]
Gay rights leaders say that gay marriage has become useful for their counterparts on the religious right in part because it allows them to tap into an antipathy toward homosexuality...In this calculation, gay marriage serves as a vessel for containing opinions that many social conservatives have but which in the past they might have felt were socially unacceptable to voice.
Robert Knight, the director of the Culture and Family Institute of Concerned Women for America, conceded as much. ‘’People feel liberated,’’ he said. ‘’They feel like we don’t have to go along with this stuff anymore, the idea that we’re repressed backwater religious zealots just for wanting a decent society in which our children can thrive. It’s O.K. today to say that marriage is between a man and a woman. Saying so does not make you a hater or bigot.’’
But what’s the logical conclusion of their voting and their legal action? They are upset that the Supreme Court has said it is legal to be gay. I keep wondering if the inverse is true? If not legal do they then want us all rounded up and put in prison? Put into therapy to be cured? What is their public policy prognosis? Who knows… but their rhetoric says it’s rooted in love:
Indeed, a constant refrain among the anti-gay-marriage forces is that they are motivated not by hate but by love. Most of the activists I spoke with say that they know gay people—several said they have relatives who are gay—and that they have approached them, with love, to try to get them to change. Rick Bowers, a pastor of a nondenominational church in Columbia, Md., is the head of Defend Maryland Marriage, another activist group, which works with Focus on the Family. ‘’There are those extremists who say that if a gay person were on fire you would burn in hell if you spit on them to put out the fire,’’ he told me. ‘’But we’re not like that. We love the human being. It’s the lifestyle we disagree with.’’
I would say that neatly sums up the thinking around here, and of some in my family and in Doug’s.
At its essence, then, the Christian conservative thinking about gay marriage runs this way. Homosexuality is not an innate, biological condition but a disease in society. Marriage is the healthy root of society. To put the two together is thus willfully to introduce disease to that root. It is society willing self-destruction, which is itself a symptom of a wider societal disease, that of secularism.
And those of us on the left have to counter that argument directly, make positive arguments for a moral gay construct and the legitimacy of secularism.
Comparing the gay civil rights movement to the black civil rights movement has always seemed valid to me. Reading this article makes it ever more so. Like segregationist whites in the South, this attitude is so deeply felt and so entrenched that it is not likely to go away. But it can and it must be defeated.
GA Parents Permission to Participate update
You’ll recall that the GA House passed a watered down version of the Parents Permission to Participate bill. This version would give parents the option to withhold permission for public school students to join any club, but it’s widely accepted and arguably demonstrable that its intent is to keep students from joining Gaya Straight Alliances.
Today the Seante passed its version with the more restricive original language:
State Senator Nancy Schaefer, desperate to see her restrictive Parental Permission Bill become law, had the Senate amend another bill with her original language as was seen in Senate Bill 149.
The State Senate today approved Senate Bill 413 but only after amending it to include Schaefer’s language. The bill was passed on a voice vote meaning that no record of the vote was taken.
The bill now goes to the House where the House Education Committee will have the opportunity to remove Schaefer’s language, approve it or amend it. Since the House has already passed a less-restrictive “opt-out” bill, it is hopeful that the committee will not accept Schaefer’s language and instead substitute it for the language they approved in HB 661.
During the debate on the bill today, Senator Schaefer said that the bill has nothing to do with Gay/Straight Alliances and is meant solely to involve parents in the decisions made by students. However, Georgia Equality believes that Senator Schaefer’s action today was prompted by yesterday’s lawsuit by the ACLU against the White County Board of Education. She was clearly misrepresenting the facts when making her statement.
Here’s the smarmy story of the White County Board of Ed.
Pornography: The Internet changes everything
This post has been percolating for a while; it’s tricky and not fully formed. My thesis is that while we’re fretting hysterically about predators preying on children online, we’re busy producing a whole new kind of predator via Internet porn.
So how to explain?
I’ve quoted and accepted the statistics I’ve come across that say that most perpetrators of child sexual abuse are known to the victim. But I’ve also taken very seriously the December NYTimes piece that found a boy and his webcam garnered 1,500 - fifteen hundred! - perpetrators. The article makes clear that this individual boy is but one of many, many more.
That I believe. And, significantly, the perpetrator is no longer known to the victim.
The Times article didn’t identify the perpetrators - I expect that will come - but the recent ”To Catch a Predator” Dateline series did. We find that they are lawyers and rabbis and doctors and teachers and yes, one or two losers and run of the mill sex addicts.
My questions about the methods of that particular program aside, there is clearly a big bad ugly bear of a problem here. And much as we might like to think that these folks are just sick monsters who should be hung, it looks to me like they are your neighbors and mine, or worse, our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends and co-workers. People we know and like. And it’s my supposition that the roots of this growing problem are in Internet porn.
Now I’ve never been big on porn myself, maybe because I was a gay child so my father’s hidden Playboys found by my brothers did nothing for me. But those magazines had built in limits. There were only so many photos. And if we wanted more, we had to go to a store and get some.
The Internet’s supply is unending. And as one clicks from site to site, fantasy to fantasy, they really may just accidentally run into something of questionable legality. The other element at work here is that, sitting in the privacy of wherever they are, they can kid themselves that they’re really doing no harm; that they are not actually physically doing anything.
I’m lost here, out of my league. I’ll explore it more. I’m not trying to say that these perpetrators are sweet innocents, but it seems to me that if we don’t do something about the cause, our problem will just keep getting bigger.
Social networking sites: teen menace or teachable moment?
I just listened to John Shehan of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in this ITConversations podcast warn of the threat that social networking sites pose to children and teenagers who share personal information. I came away decidedly unimpressed.
I’m not at all convinced that awareness requires the scare tactics of inflammatory rhetoric and sensationalistic terms; I actually think adults - and probably chidren too - respond better to honest and accurate asssesments. I know there are real threats and real problems; I’m just not sure we’re looking at them.
In this instance, I think the truth is closer to what Wired reported yesterday:
The most oft-stated concern about all this [personal information revealed on social networking sites] is that predators might use it to track down the kids, then abduct or attack them. Actual cases of this happening are hard to find. Instead...the teens themselves are being treated as offenders, garnering punishment for writing about their teachers, school administrators or each other.
In November, a 16-year-old girl at Paramus High School in New Jersey had three days added to an existing suspension for posting mean comments about another student on her MySpace page. Last month, seven students in Lincoln, Nebraska, were suspended from their high school basketball team after a MySpace message mentioned they’d been drinking alcohol.
Early this year, administrators at Powell High School in Tennessee suspended two sophomores and a junior for as long as 30 days for posting off-color messages under a teacher’s name. Last week, under threat of an ACLU lawsuit, Littleton High School in Colorado reluctantly readmitted a 16-year-old MySpace user who had been suspended for posting a satirical commentary on the school.
In many of these cases it’s clearly the adults who are misbehaving. Under a 1969 Supreme Court decision Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, even on-campus student speech is afforded First Amendment protection at public schools, unless it “materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others.”
Educators should buy-in to the “teachable moment” notion and use the opportunity to guide safe internet habits:
“Maybe the MySpace medium is another channel where we can be working with our students,” says Fenger. To that end, he’s forming a student-teacher committee to explore positive uses of MySpace. “The reason I think a lot of schools don’t go this way is it takes staff, it takes resources. It takes faculty time and it takes students’ time.”
Boyd argues persuasively that MySpace is serving an important role for teens who need to interact with one another away from adults as part of the normal socialization process. “We all forget that teenage years are all about hanging out,” she says.
Teens are doing this on the internet, in part, because there are fewer public places they can claim as their own, and safety-conscious parents are more reluctant than past generations to let their kids go out into a real world unsupervised.
NOTE: The photo is a stilll of NYU’s Siva Vaidhyanathan being interviewed by Demetri Martin for a Daily Show Trendspotting segment on Social Networking. Demetri’s got 9,000 friends… now that’s an issue. Not a “problem” but worth looking at. It’s also a fun segment!
The Fish School promises to help teach your aquatic pet to “swim through hoops, jump, limbo, eat from your hand--even play soccer,” according to its site, which was compelled to add: “This is NOT a joke.”
Dean Pomerleau, one of the creators, told Blogma that the school will soon be featured in Discover Magazine. “And just last week we learned that our best pupil (Albert Einstein) is going to be recognized as ‘the trained fish with the most tricks’ by the Guinness Book of World Records.”
Golly, I can’t even make my dog fetch!