aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, November 10, 2006
A diamond in the rough
A close friend, a chorus boy in the first Hello Dolly revival, was Carol Channing‘s personal assistant in the late eighties and early nineties.
He said she was nuts.
Apparently; now more than ever:
KK: You seem to have a very large gay following. Have you ever thought about why?
CC: I don’t think about them. I’m grateful that they seem to like me. They’re terribly loyal to me. But I’m knee-deep in the Bible and you know what it says about that.
CC: Oh, dear. Is this for a gay publication? Have I offended you?
KK: Yes. For the Gay People’s Chronicle. Right now, it’s really not my job to be offended or not be offended. I am just asking questions and reporting answers. I read that you have fought for gay rights. Do you think that the things gay people are fighting for are important?
CC: I don’t think about it. If they can’t take care of their own problems, why should I bother. It’s not my problem.
KK: I see.
CC: At one time there were seven men doing me in Las Vegas. I began to wonder if I had a glandular problem. But you know that the Bible says that that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
I never much liked Hello Dolly, Carol Channing or her rendition of Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Tolerance as intolerance
Stanley Fish in the Chronicle today takes an illuminating look at Wendy Brown’s new book, Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire. I’m going to have to let this sink in:
Her critique of tolerance challenges the common assumption that the differences the sharp edges of which tolerance is supposed to blunt “took their shape prior to the discourse called on to broker them.” No, she insists, those differences are produced by a regime of tolerance that at the same time produces a status quo politics built on the assumption that difference cannot be negotiated but can only be managed. When difference is naturalized, she explains, it becomes the mark not of an ideological or political divide (in relation to which one might have an argument), but of a cultural divide (in relation to which each party says of the other, “See, that’s just the way they are"). If people do the things they do not because of what they believe, but because they are Jews, Muslims, blacks, or gays, it is no use asking them to see the error of their ways, because it is through those same ways - naturally theirs - that they see at all…
And, she adds, it does more than that: It legitimizes, and even demands, the exercise of intolerance, when the objects of intolerance are persons who, because of their overattachment to culture, are deemed incapable of being tolerant. Live and let live won’t work, we are often told, if the other guy is determined to kill you because he believes that his religion or his ethnic history commands him to. Liberal citizens, Brown explains, will be tolerant of any group so long as its members subordinate their cultural commitments to the universal dictates of reason, as defined by liberalism...Tolerance, then, is a virtue that liberal citizens or those who are willing to act as liberal citizens are capable of exercising; and those who refuse to exercise it cannot, by this logic, be its beneficiary.
Nor, according to Brown, are the regulating and stigmatizing effects of tolerance limited to a nation’s relations with foreign states and actors; the liberal state does the same thing to its own citizens, at least to those citizens who, by being identified as the appropriate beneficiaries of tolerance, are at the same time marked as deviant and potentially dangerous. If it is “a basic premise of liberal secularism that neither culture nor religion is permitted to govern publicly,” Brown says, then those Americans who refuse to leave their sectarian beliefs and convictions of core identity at home when they venture into the public sphere - fundamentalist Christians, Orthodox Jews, strongly observant Muslims, gays and lesbians, etc. - must be made to understand that only by relaxing the hold of those personal commitments and promising to act as liberal citizens (rather than as Southern Baptists, Hasidic Jews, or citizens of the Queer Nation) in public spaces will they be welcomed into the fold. Should they resist the requirement to live a double life - apostles of individualism, progress, profit, and secularism in the courthouse and the ballot box, devout upholders of religious and cultural imperatives at home - they will either be tolerated and marked as “other” (the Amish) or made the objects of surveillance and profiling (anyone wearing a turban or a burkha) or detained and perhaps deported.
The state preaches tolerance, but because it has identified tolerance with those who have a certain set of (liberal, secular) beliefs, those who do not display such beliefs and the practices they subtend will be regarded with suspicion and become the “natural” subjects of intolerant actions: From roundups, detention, and deportation of illegal aliens to racial profiling in airport security searches, the state “engages in extralegal and prosecutorial actions toward the very group it calls upon the citizenry to be tolerant toward,” Brown says. Moreover, as she sees it, that is not a contradiction of the tolerance the state proclaims, but an inevitable result of a tolerance that cannot itself tolerate persons or practices that do not respect the boundaries and distinctions - between secular/religious, public/private, mind/body - it presupposes. [...]
[T]olerance is the technology or governmentality (a word Brown borrows from Foucault) of an ideology that privileges some values - individual will, autonomy, choice, procedural (not substantive) justice, rationality, freedom of expression, freedom of markets - and stigmatizes or marginalizes others - group loyalty, religious obedience, the law of God, tribal traditions, the national ethos, blood, culture.
Marriage in Massachusetts
The constitutional amendment process in Massachusetts is slow by design, it fosters deliberation. A good thing:
Massachusetts’ lawmakers on Thursday took a giant step toward killing a proposal to ban gay marriage in the only U.S. state where it is legal.
With protesters on both sides of the debate rallying outside the gold-domed statehouse, lawmakers voted 109 to 87 to delay a decision on whether to back a constitutional amendment that would have given voters a chance to ban gay marriage.
Gay rights advocates cheered the move, seen as a crushing blow to opponents of gay marriage who had gathered 170,000 signatures in a petition that asked lawmakers to put the culturally divisive issue before voters in 2008.
By adjourning until January 2, the last official day of the legislative session, the Democratic-controlled legislature virtually guarantees the proposed amendment will not be taken up and therefore be killed.
A good time to remember the Ed Helms’ wonderfully funny, relevant, perfectly targeted sketch on The Daily Show from one year ago. Given the Comedy Central GooTube takedown (and no new player yet) you can find it on The Malcontent:
BRIAN CAMENKER, anti-gay-marriage activist: I could sit here and I could probably, you know, find some way of connecting the dots to gay marriage to all of these [adverse effects] if I had enough time and I did some research.
HELMS: Yeah, why take time to do the research, when saying it is so much faster? Besides, the statistics are clear-cut. Now that gay marriage is legal, Massachusetts ranks dead last in illiteracy, 48th in per capita poverty, and a pathetic 49th in total divorces.
You’ll laugh out loud.
We know Newt
Is this really so different from Ohio or Indiana or Colorado or Idaho or anyplace else in America:
ATLANTA - If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich runs for president, he may not get much support from his home state.Exit polls conducted with Tuesday’s elections indicate only 30 percent of Georgia voters think the Republican would make a good president, while 63 percent say he wouldn’t. Seven percent declined to answer the question. Gingrich’s press secretary, Rick Tyler, said the former suburban Atlanta congressman had no comment on the responses.
Gingrich’s firmest support in Georgia came from voters who strongly approve of President Bush’s performance; nearly three out of five such voters said the former speaker would do a good job. Among the voters who strongly disapprove of Bush’s work, only 6 percent said they thought Gingrich was suited for the White House.
DON’T BLAME, ABANDON OR DEMONIZE THE SOUTH!
LATER: In the AJC today, “If the president had decided to replace Secretary Rumsfeld he should have told us two weeks ago,” Gingrich said. “I think that we would today control the Senate and probably have 10 to15 more House seats. And I found it very disturbing yesterday in the press conference, the explanation that the President gave.”