aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Sick, sick, sick
When you think you’re sick, you probably are:
“You have someone who for all intents and purposes is a gay person, but continues to perpetuate the myth that there’s something wrong with it,” said Tracy Thorne-Begland, a Foley family friend. [...]
[Thorne-Begland] had spoken with Foley during the gays-in-the-military debate, but the conversations were cryptic. He didn’t hold back in 1996. “I said, how could you vote against me, my family, your own self- interest?” Thorne-Begland recalled. He said Foley responded, “I could never compare any relationship I have ever had to the nature of my mother and father’s relationship.”
I do compare mine, and it compares favorably! This is precisely why gays in the military and gays in the church and gay marriage is so important for all of us. If you hold yourself outside of society, and if society casts you out, you are far more likely to behave as an outcast.
Foley’s orientation was widely known across his district, and most voters apparently didn’t care. He was reelected to a sixth term in 2004 with 68 percent of the vote, against nominal Democratic opposition.
Local Republican Sal Abruscato said he’d suspected for years that Foley was gay. “It’s been around for a long time. It’s one of the worst-kept secrets. I didn’t care,” the 42-year-old detective said.
My question is, did they actually prefer it that way? Around here people are happy to know it they just don’t want you to show it. That’s precisely the opposite of how it should be.
Foley now says he’s gay. He’s proven he’s not. He’s amply demonstrated he never had the courage to make that choice.
The blame game: a round-up
Golly, who’s to blame?
Democrats! Of course.
NGLTF’s Matt Foreman says don’t blame gays.
FRC says blame gays.
Sean Hannity blames Clinton.
Tristero says, don’t blame Clinton. It’s Al Gore’s fault. He invented the Internet!
Tony Perkins blames ‘tolerance and diversity.’
Absent from the list, THE PRESS! Anyone want to step up and be first?
LATER: It’s the gay cabal.
Brad Blog has the video:
O’Reilly merits mention for his show the day before too:
Despite his long history of attacking judges, newspapers, and elected officials he deems to be soft on child predators, Bill O’Reilly declined to discuss allegations of inaction on the part of House Republican leaders to learning months ago of emails allegedly sent by Rep. Mark Foley to an underage congressional page, instead attacking the Democratic leadership and the “San Francisco values” of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
LATER: Doug says, “It could be an honest mistake. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Fox makes honest mistakes.”
LATER STILL: AP had Hastert as a Dem.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Subject to libel
I’ve pointed to it before; unfortunately, I haven’t read it: EFF’s Legal Guide for Bloggers. I’m reminded of it because in a USA Today survey of cases it turns out that the first blogger in the USA to lose a libel suit is from right here in Georgia:
Rafe Banks, a lawyer in Georgia, got involved in a nasty dispute with a client over how to defend him on a drunken-driving charge. The client, David Milum, fired Banks and demanded that the lawyer refund a $3,000 fee. Banks refused.
Milum eventually was acquitted. Ordinarily, that might have been the last Banks ever heard about his former client. But then Milum started a blog.
In May 2004, Banks was stunned to learn that Milum’s blog was accusing the lawyer of bribing judges on behalf of drug dealers. At the end of one posting, Milum wrote, “Rafe, don’t you wish you had given back my $3,000 retainer?”
Banks, saying the postings were false, sued Milum. And last January, Milum became the first blogger in the USA to lose a libel suit, according to the Media Law Resource Center in New York, which tracks litigation involving bloggers. Milum was ordered to pay Banks $50,000.
FRC: blame gays
Predictable and pathetic, they and their acolytes won’t let the facts get in their way:
Democrats seeking to exploit the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) are right to criticize the slow response of Republican congressional leaders to his communications with male pages. But neither party seems likely to address the real issue, which is the link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse. Foley, an unmarried 52-year-old representative, had always refused to answer questions about his sexual orientation. Now that his emails and messages to teenage male pages have been revealed, it appears clear that Foley is a homosexual with a particular attraction to underage boys. While pro-homosexual activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. Although almost all child molesters are male and less than 3% of men are homosexual, about a third of all child sex abuse cases involve men molesting boys--and in one study, 86% of such men identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual. Ignoring this reality got the Catholic Church into trouble over abusive priests, and now it is doing the same to the House GOP leadership. They discounted or downplayed earlier reports concerning Foley’s behavior--probably because they did not want to appear “homophobic.” The Foley scandal shows what happens when political correctness is put ahead of protecting children.
Significantly and demonstrably, it’s the repression they want that exacerbates the problem. In this case, Foley’s closeted life. The FRC apparently knew, too, prior to this the open DC secret that he was gay. What did they do?
To state what by all that is good should be obvious, when a man abuses a young girl, the problem is not heterosexuality and we don’t characterize the abuse as a heterosexual act similar to consensual sex between an adult man and woman. If a male boss sexually harasses a female employee, again, the problem is not heterosexuality, but sexual harassment.
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.
Via Gay News Blog.
Worth a million
The simple answer is that search, recommendations and other filters tend to drive demand down the tail, from the hits down to the niches where minority tastes are often better satisfied. Aside from happier customers, this also has some clear economics benefits for Netflix. It so happens that older titles, well down the Long Tail of time, are both cheaper to acquire and tend to get higher ratings than new titles (mostly because they’ve passed the test of time and have moved beyond the fog of hype that accompanies new releases). Not only that, but Netflix can also buy fewer of them, since as you go further down the curve the demand is spread out over more titles and there’s less of a need to buy stacks of expensive new blockbusters to satisfy the rush of rentals requests around the release date.
Read on for the charts and graphs and detailed reasoning that back up his assertion.
R U Sirius
He begins by counting the ways that Sirius sucks - 1.) reception, 2.) limited playlists and 3.) deejay patter - then moves on to an ode to Howard, “Howard speaking truth. THIS is why people tune in.” And sums up:
It appears that satellite radio is heading for a cliff. Especially Sirius. For Sirius gives a free one year subscription with the new cars of companies they’re aligned with, and so many of those one years are about to run out. And the churn rate on free car hookups for XM aren’t much better. Supposedly, there’s now a fifty percent DISCONNECT RATE!
Satellite radio is yesterday’s news. Fighting between themselves, XM and Sirius ruined their financials and just didn’t get their message across to consumers, who now have options, like the iPod. XM is a music goldmine, not that you’d know that from the marketing. Yet somehow someone convinced these guys it was about stars, and stars don’t matter, unless they’re RADIO stars, like Howard Stern.
It’s almost like the sixties all over again. Something is happening on the fringe, in the underground, if you’re hip you belong, otherwise you’re out of the loop. But the difference here is Howard was mainstream FIRST! Will he end up bringing people to him? Not listening, you’d have to say no. But catch his Sirius show and you start to wonder, if somehow people could only hear what they’re missing, if only they could get a taste, they’d want more. MUCH more.
Here in rural Georgia, where we’re stuck in a rustic radio version of Bruce Springsteen’s 1992 57 channels and nothing on (8 are owned by Cumulus, 20 are religious broadcasters) satellite radio is more popular than I’d have thought.
With the FCC locking up our culture through prudish censorship, I find myself happy to see that the 1st Amendment is owned by big corporations who will stop at nothing to sell it back to us.
Monday, October 02, 2006
TX dad: Ban Fahrenheit 451!
Alton Verm, of Conroe, objects to the language and content in the book. His 15-year-old daughter Diana, a CCHS sophomore, came to him Sept. 21 with her reservations about reading the book because of its language.
“The book had a bunch of very bad language in it,” Diana Verm said. “It shouldn’t be in there because it’s offending people. ... If they can’t find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn’t have a book at all.”
Alton Verm filed a “Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials” Thursday with the district regarding “Fahrenheit 451,” written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to remove the book from the curriculum.
“It’s just all kinds of filth,” said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read “Fahrenheit 451.” [...]
Alton Verm’s request to ban “Fahrenheit 451” came during the 25th annual Banned Books Week. He and Hines said the request to ban “Fahrenheit 451,” a book about book burning, during Banned Books Weeks is a coincidence.
Clickthrough for the picture of the proud papa with his smiling daughter, standing there together in front of the school holding the book. Fearing it was just a little too perfect, I headed on over to Snopes. Nothing yet…
LATER: Also from TX, sex toy ruling by Supreme Court: guns yes! vibrators no!
10 a.m. tomorrow
In Georgia, the state Board of Education will hear oral arguments on whether to remove the popular Harry Potter series from Gwinnett County public school libraries. The AJC has a history of how one mother got there:
• Harry Potter and the Loganville mother: Laura Mallory, a Loganville parent, challenges the books in September 2005, saying the stories promote and glorify witchcraft. She wants the books removed from her children’s school, J.C. Magill Elementary, and all Gwinnett public school libraries.
• Harry Potter and the Magill panel: A Magill Elementary review panel says the books have merit and should be available to children. The panel is comprised of parents, community members and school staff members. Mallory appeals the decision to the district.
• Harry Potter and the Gwinnett panel: A district-wide media panel reviews the books and says the books should stay in school libraries. Mallory appeals to the Gwinnett County school board.
• Harry Potter and the hearing of the ban: In April, the school board conducts a hearing on the issue. Mallory and her supporters say the books need to go because the stories are dark, violent and inappropriate for children. The school system and Potter fans defend the books as modern literature.
• Harry Potter and the officer’s report: The school board’s hearing officer strongly recommends the books stay. She says removing them would open the school system to ridicule.
• Harry Potter and the order of the school board: The Gwinnett school board in May unanimously rules in favor of the books. Board members say they have merit because they promote reading and improve students’ literacy skills. Mallory appeals to the state Board of Education.
• Harry Potter and the state of Georgia: The state board hearing officer will listen to oral arguments related to the appeal at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Education Department’s executive board room, Suite 2070, Twin Towers East, Atlanta. The hearing, which should last about an hour, is open to the public, though the public cannot comment. Who knows how this battle will end?
Fox & friends
Via Cory at Lost Remote.
Jarvis gets it absolutely positively 100% precisely right:
All the old definitions of TV are in shambles. Television need not be broadcast. It needn’t be produced by studios and networks. It no longer depends on big numbers and blockbusters. It doesn’t have to fit 30- and 60-minute moulds. It isn’t scheduled. It isn’t mass. The limits of television - of distribution, of tools, of economics, of scarcity - are gone. So now, at last, we can ask not what TV is, but what it can be.
I envision TV that is interactive when it wants to be. I imagine TV that is live, with news from the scene thanks to a hundred video camera-phones. I look forward to the day when I can watch not what Hollywood recommends, but what my friends endorse. I am dying to see the advertising industry figure out that mass media were inefficient and ineffective ; when they start supporting the new TV with their money, huge things will happen. Television has already exploded. So now let’s build the new TV.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Of the Wisconsin high school student who shot his principal dead:
[Eric] Hainstock said that a group of kids had teased him by calling him “fag” and “faggot” and rubbing up against him, the complaint said, and the teen felt teachers and the principal wouldn’t do anything about it.
So Hainstock decided to confront students, teachers and the principal with the guns to make them listen to him, according to the complaint.
So Friday morning, he pried open his family’s gun cabinet, took out a shotgun and then took a handgun from his parent’s bedroom, the complaint said.
Via Stephen H. Miller, “If true, it of course dosen’t excuse murder. But the blind eye that educrats give rank homophobia in their schools is also inexcusable.”
I condemn Foley. He should be punished. It looks to me like Republican leadership knew there was trouble brewing. There should be consequences for them too.
That said, I will not join those bloggers, liberal and conservative, who are fanning the flames of moral panic. I didn’t like it in the Georgia governor’s race; understandable as it is, I don’t like it here.
I have quoted the March CounterPunch article, Scapegoats and Shunning by “Pariah,” before. It deserves another reading now:
The key ingredients of this scapegoating campaign are of course sex and children. “Nowhere,” wrote Linda Williams in Children and Sex (1993), “is sexuality more feared in America than in the lives of children.” (Williams has spent her professional career assuring that these ingredients produce repression.) The core demon in the campaign is the recently created category of “pedophile” (which does not predate the 1960s as a so-called scientific construct). Although defined by the American Psychiatric Association as persons with a dominant sexual desire for pre-pubescent children, the pedophile tag now applies to any person who every entertained a sexual desire or had a sexual incident, however minor, with anyone under 18. In some circles, the term pedophile is now used to put down any older person who has an affair or shows interest in younger persons-- 35-year-olds, for instance, who “prey on” 20-year olds. By the early 2000s, pedophile had become morphed with the still broader “sex offender,” with even mainstream media free to refer to the feared and hated class as “pervs” and “perps” and “deviants.”
This scapegoating also requires public exposure and shunning, even of those who dare defend the civil liberties of pedophiles and sex offenders or challenge attacks on them. In particular, public wrath is displayed against those who would challenge “age of consent” laws, which are higher in the United States (now effectively 18 in all states due to Federal statutes) than in most other societies. (Mexico’s age of cosent is 12 in most cases; Japan is 13,; Spain is now 14--raised recently; France, 15; and Germany 16 and under 16 with parental consent.) Although as of the 1880s, common law age of consent was 10 in England and its former colonies, and zero in many other societies--where child-brides were common--it has been increasingly raised until there is today, within UNESCO’s campaign to protect children, a call for a universal age of 21. All sex between persons under 18 and those over 18 (or 21) thus becomes “abuse,” since there is the myth that underage persons are simply not capable of consent.
I’m not as concerned about age of consent laws as I am that children having sex with children are criminalized. I would like to see an age of consent law that limited age disparities between consenting young people prior to adulthood.
Adding insult to injury, “children,” that is persons under 18, may also be labeled sex offenders, required to register and sometimes face life-long monitoring and various forms of shunning and shaming. One teenage boy committed suicide in Oakland County, Michigan in 2004, when faced with 23-years of being on a public registry, which would include public humiliation at his school. He was convicted of sex with a 14-year-old girl, which was conceded to be non-forced, but violated the state’s age of consent laws. Matthew Limon, in Kansas was given 17 years in prison for a consensual blow-job given the week after his 18th birthday to a boy who was almost 15. Limon is also mentally handicapped. Limon’s case was overturned and he was let out of prison after serving more than five years because the U.S.Supreme Court ruled the Kansas law which mandated longer sentences for homosexual acts was unConstitutional. He will still have to register for life as a child sex offender. South Carolina Supreme Court justice Costa M. Pleciones opined from the bench that children as young as nine should be subject to life-time registration for sex offenses. Estimates are that more than thirty-five thousand children and adolescents have been convicted of sex offenses and are required to register.
And what is this panic all about? Freudian though it may be, this makes the most sense to me:
Even before Judith Levine’s Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex was published in 2002, a massive campaign by fundamentalist Christian groups, including Concerned Women for America, attacked the publisher, the University of Minnesota Press. While the book was published, the Press created a new process for reviewing its books before publication. Levine spoke publicly about how she was humiliated time and again in public. She said the manuscript for her book had been turned down by many publishers, treated as if it were “radioactive.” Among other insights, Levine wrote that “obsession with pedophiles stems for the reluctance to confront incest and the rampant sexualization of children” in American culture. “Adults project the eroticized desire outwards, creating a monster to hate, hunt down and destroy.” Of the outcry against her book she added, “What happened to me is a perfect example of the hysteria my book is about.”
So my liberal friends, Foley will get his due I have no doubt. There is virtually no possibility at this point that it will be any other way. But for all the just liberal concern about torture and detainee rights and international human rights, where is your outrage at this?
Until the 1980s, the notion that any offender would be forced to register and be tracked--and publicly shamed--for life --went against the American notions of fairness and rehabilitation. “I’ve done my time” was considered a reasonable statement when prison sentences and parole was completed. In Canada, the Supreme Court has denied police the right to make public the names of registered offenders, since this would thwart the goal of rehabilitation of prisoners. In the United States, the very purpose of the sex offender registry is to make it available to the public. This, and subsequent measures to monitor and restrict sex offenders, have put an end to any idea of rehabilitation for an ever-growing class of former prisoners. Longer and longer sentences and increasing length of parole or probation were not enough to satisfy the sex panic that has gone on uninterrupted from one phase to another since the 1960s.
The first registries appeared in 1990. By 1994, with Megan’s law--inspired like many of the other sex offender initiatives by a specific and isolated case of a horrendous murder of a child--federal and state laws required that personal and work addresses and other personal information of sex offenders be made public in various ways--from the internet and television to newspaper ads and billboards. In some states, special auto license tags and signs required at the door posts of offenders were mandated. By 2005, every state had adopted a registry and all but two state were incorporated into the federal registry and tracking system.[...]
The worst deprivation of rights comes in the form of life-time civil commitment of sex offenders after incarceration. Seventeen states have some version of this measure, and 21 more states are considering it. As of December, 2004, according to researchers at the Washington think-tank that has followed this since Washington passed the first such law in 1990, 3,493 persons were in locked mental facilities or special prisons under civil commitment. As of that date, only 427 of persons ever locked up under these laws had been released. Usually called “Sexually Violent Predator Laws,” these almost always include non-violent offenses against persons under the age of consent in that state. In some states, persons accused of various crimes including child pornography, prostitution and even indecent exposure are included as “sexually violent predators.” As Mark McHarry wrote in his thorough summary in Z Magazine, November, 2001, civil commitment procedures deprive citizens of virtually all their Constitutional rights: the right to remain silent, to have a lawyer at interrogations, bail, provisions against double jeopardy and ex post facto laws--and many more. The New York Bar Association, challenging Governor Pataki’s administrative order in 2005 to move all sex offenders to locked mental facilities upon release, commented, “It cannot be overstated how readily sex civil commitment may be abused.”
No doubt the Foley incident will burn Republicans badly. But it will also result in even worse - and equally ineffective - legislation. It’s unfortunate that this legislation will be supported by both Democrats and Republicans, liberal and conservative.
Free college online
Many distinguished academic institutions--including MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Johns Hopkins, to name a few--offer free courses online, according to Lifehacker. Some have conducted gratis online classes for some time, but a rising number have begun podcasts of lectures and tutorials that will likely enhance their popularity.
There’s one important catch: Most of these courses cannot be taken for any type of degrees or credentials. But remember, Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout.
signed up subscribed to Berkley.
Colbert on Demand & Carl Monday
No Carl, it’s satire, a blending criticism and humor to expose a fault or problem. But WKYC, a proud local station, doesn’t get that. Or doesn’t much care, preferring instead a potential ratings bounce. They’re promoting Carl’s Daily Show appearance, still on their homepage three days later, with a photo gallery of coverage.
Here WKYC documents the ambush (though they evidently are clueless as to how to effectively use it). Here you can buy a “Carl Monday is watching you masturbate” t-shirt. And here, Cory Bergman, a local journalist who gets it.