aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, February 19, 2007
Making Cleveland a gay vacation spot won’t be easy
According to the PlanetOut Travel Awards, Ohio ranks at the very bottom of the list of gay travel destinations, right along with Iran and Uganda. (And those places have better weather.)
The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland announced last month that it wants to change that.
The bureau will start marketing the city to gays and lesbians, hoping to lure deep-pocketed travelers to the North Coast.
It won’t be easy. The gay community is still sore about the 2004 election, which saw 62 percent of Ohio voters not only ban gay marriage, but also void any legal benefits for same-sex relationships. (We probably would have required the burning of rainbow flags if that had been on the ballot.)
The Sex Panic: Why we’re freaking out
It’s not them; it’s us!
I’ve quoted Pariah before. From Sexual Fascism in Progressive America: Scapegoats and Shunning:
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.”
Emphasis mine; that quote rings true to me. Then there’s this reality-check, 95 percent of Americans had sex before marriage:
More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.
“This is reality-check research,” said the study’s author, Lawrence Finer. “Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.”
“Challenging perceptions” indeed! We imagine an idealized puritan past that we want to force the world to live by today.
Let’s bring our perceptions - and our laws - in line with reality. The problem is not 16 year-old suburban boys or 17 year-old football players or 40 year-old female substitute teachers. Rather, what we’re dealing with here is our own guilt and shame. We should face it, deal with it, and stop criminalizing our kids and our neighbors for it!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Google heard him
Last week Aaron Stanton set off from Idaho to find out can google hear me?
He’s presented his idea, signed an NDA, found Internet fame, and left us all with the biggest - and most fun - tech mystery since Dean Kamen’s “it.”
It looks like we may know something in as little as a week.
You show me your affection and I’ll show you mine!
I’m quoted in the NYTimes today, in a beautifully written article in the Styles section, A Kiss Too Far?
In it the Times’ writer, Guy Trebay, uses the recent outrage over the Snickers ad to look at the double standard surrounding gay public displays of affection:
Football is probably as good a place as any to look for the limits of social tolerance. And the Snickers commercial - amusing to some, appalling to others and ultimately withdrawn by the company that makes the candy - had the inadvertent effect of revealing how a simple display of affection grows in complexity as soon as one considers who gets to demonstrate it in public, and who, very often, does not.
The demarcation seemed particularly stark during the week of Valentine’s Day, when the aura of love cast its rosy Hallmark glow over card-store cash registers and anyone with a pulse. Where, one wondered, were all the same-sex lovers making out on street corners, or in comedy clubs, performance spaces, flower shops or restaurants?
Trebay found me after reading a post from last summer, On PDA (Public Displays of Affection).
Say it ain’t so! He’s no “social parasite…”
Evidence, jurors be damned. State senator says it’s rape!
CNN tore into Eric Johnson tonight. What was Sen. Johnson thinking when he took the Senate floor and made a number of, uh, misstatements about the case of Georgia’s Genarlow Wilson? (For those of you who have been living under the rock with Sen. Johnson, Wilson was sentenced to ten years in prison for having consensual oral sex. He was seventeen at the time, and the girl was fifteen.) [...]
If justice means nothing, at least think about this reality: every dollar we spend “protecting” children from people like Wilson is a dollar we do not have to protect children from real sexual predators. What sense does that make?
Good for Amy! And good for CNN! I missed the program and couldn’t find it on the web. I did find this transcript from an Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees report on Friday:
EDDIE BARKER, DOUGLASVILLE PROSECUTOR: From what we’ve seen on the videotape and heard from the victim ourself, we do not believe there was any physical force used.
[CNN CORRESPONDENT RICK] SANCHEZ: No physical force? Doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that it was consensual sex between two teens. Ten years, mandatory, no way around it.
The law that ensnared Genarlow is so illogical that if he’d had intercourse with the 15-year-old instead of oral sex, his punishment would only have been a misdemeanor.
Back to the Georgia legislature, which recently changed the law but didn’t change Genarlow Wilson’s punishment. Why not?
State Senator Eric Johnson took the floor.
ERIC JOHNSON, GEORGIA STATE SENATOR: Mr. Wilson participated in multiple sexual acts with a minor while she was unconscious.
SANCHEZ: Wrong. The girl was not unconscious. The senator also said she was raped. That’s not even what the prosecutor thought.
So we called the senator and asked for an interview.
(on camera) Do you feel bad about the fact that you characterized this as a rape when you were talking yesterday in the Senate?
SANCHEZ: You don’t have any problem with that?
SANCHEZ: Because it wasn’t a rape.
JOHNSON: It’s a rape in my mind.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Here’s what it was in the minds of the jurors. We know; we talked to them.
MARIE MANIGAULT, JURY FOREPERSON: When we viewed the tape, there was absolutely nothing in there that showed us that he in any way encouraged this person, even invited the person to come.
SANCHEZ: So for now, the Georgia legislature has done nothing, leaving Genarlow Wilson behind these walls, hoping some day for justice.
Another prosecutor, another case of a kid victimized by laws intended to protect them
Matthew Bandy, who admitted to looking at adult content, was fortunate enough to be able to afford solid legal counsel, computer forensic experts, lie detector and psychological testing that demonstrated he was not guilty of the charges, and a crisis manager, Jonathan Bernstein. (How does a family recoup such expenses?) All of that and still he was advised that with the strict Arizona sex-offender laws and the aggressive prosecution his chances of being found innocent “were probably 20 percent.” Matthew took a deal - he admitted showing a Playboy around at school - that labeled him a sex offender. Fortunately for Matt, a judge, said to be appalled at the prosecution, invited an appeal and ruled in his favor.
Bernstein suggests we read the transcript of Jim Avila’s interview with County Attorney in the case, Andrew Thomas. Some excerpts:
JIM AVILA: So there was a huge amount of evidence that in fact, this kid was not involved in a sex crime. And yet, your office and you yourself continue to believe and put him through two years of hell, because you continue to believe despite lie detector tests, court psychiatrist reports, a report from the computer expert who said it could have come from anywhereÃ¢â‚¬Â¦you continue to sayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
ANDREW THOMAS: (Overlap) WellÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
JIM AVILA: Ã¢â‚¬Â¦that he did it.
ANDREW THOMAS: Well, IÃ¢â‚¬Â¦again, IÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I’m not sure that that’s totally right. But you gottaÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
JIM AVILA: (Overlap) Halfway right?
ANDREW THOMAS: Ã¢â‚¬Â¦you gotta (Inaudible)Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
JIM AVILA: (Overlap) (Inaudible) right here.
ANDREW THOMAS: Well, ourÃ¢â‚¬Â¦our experts certainly didn’t thinkÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
JIM AVILA: (Overlap) Your expertsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
ANDREW THOMAS: (Inaudible) could have gotten it from anywhere.
JIM AVILA: Your Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ your expertsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
ANDREW THOMAS: I mean (Laughter) Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
JIM AVILA: Ã¢â‚¬Â¦your expert was not an expert whoÃ¢â‚¬Â¦who did any analysis whatsoeverÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
ANDREW THOMAS: WellÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
JIM AVILA: Ã¢â‚¬Â¦as to where it came from. All your expert did was say it’s here.
ANDREW THOMAS: Well, right.
Emphasis mine. Read on, but I come away from the exchange with a clear understanding that once accused, you will be charged. And once charged, you either go to trial or take a plea. They see a charge as accusation + evidence (no matter if selectively chosen or circumstantial). Statements to the contrary be damned. Says Thomas, “Quite frankly, criminal defendants are notÃ¢â‚¬Â¦famous for being forthcoming with the facts.”
He discusses the plea bargaining process from a prosecutorial perspective:
JIM AVILA: It sounds a bit like you’re trying to have it both ways. Because you’re sayingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦you didn’t charge him with any Ã¢â‚¬Â¦youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and at the end of the day, you let him go. But youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦the finalÃ¢â‚¬Â¦at the end of the day, he wasn’t charged with any child pornography. None. He was Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ he Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
ANDREW THOMAS: Right.
JIM AVILA: HeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
ANDREW THOMAS: Well, but he was charged with solicitation to furnish uhÃ¢â‚¬Â¦to furnishÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
JIM AVILA: (Overlap) He bought a Playboy magazine Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
ANDREW THOMAS: Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ sexual exploitationÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
JIM AVILA: Ã¢â‚¬Â¦and took it to school and showed it to other 16 year olds.
ANDREW THOMAS: That’s what he pled to, but Ã¢â‚¬Â¦but that’sÃ¢â‚¬Â¦that’s aÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ a little Ã¢â‚¬Â¦uh, that requires a little bit of explanation. It is very typical in plea agreementsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦what you have to do is, if you decided okay, we want to try to resolve this case because the criminal charges were originally broughtÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ we want to try to resolve it and specifically, you bring the charges down.
And what you have to find is an appropriate uh, offense at that level of felony so that you can Ã¢â‚¬Â¦can enter into the plea agreement. That’s typically how theÃ¢â‚¬Â¦the decision making process is done. So um, although I wasn’t privy to that decision making process, it was aÃ¢â‚¬Â¦a line prosecutor who handled tipÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I’ve done that. And typically, what you do is you would find in this case, a classics on designated felony where there’s a factual basis so that Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ I mean, you can’t just pick anyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦uh, any classic felony.
It has to be something that relates to the crime as alleged so that the defendant can go forward and admit guilt in court. AndÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and I should note, not to put too fine a point on this, but this defendant did plead guilty in a court of law.
So once in the system it’s assembly-line justice (the “line prosecutor") and to start out they throw everything they can at you to see what sticks; then because they’ve thrown so much at you they have to get a guilty plea that bears some resemblance to their charges. Even if you’re guilty of nothing more than a youthful rite of passage!
Then they reverse-engineer the justification:
ANDREW THOMAS: But the ultimate outcome was what it was. And the defendant accepts that, the state accepts that, and I’m content that the appropriate sanction was imposed to hold him accountable, teach him a lesson, teach him that this isn’t fun and games. If you’re goin’ to start playing around on pornographic sites, and you come across child pornography then, you know, you better accept the consequences of that.
And whatever happened in his case, uh, w- Ã¢â‚¬Â¦presumably we’ll never know because, uh, weÃ¢â‚¬Â¦we haven’t been able toÃ¢â‚¬Â¦to fully get to the bottom of that. But, uh, an important lesson was taught here. But justice was served in that the appropriate outcome wasn’t to send this guy to prison for 50 years. Was to teach him a good, hard lesson so he doesn’t do it again. And that’s what happened.
That’s the thinking!!! That justice is served and a lesson taught when two years of the kid’s life, how much of the family’s money, and what amount of criminal justice resources was spent on criminalizing a kid for looking at porn. Isn’t that a parental role? And if our law enforcement busies itself with this nonsense, what of the real child pronographers? At the very least, it takes away from that fight. All the while generating prosecutorial statistics that politicians can tout as progress.
We must learn from the DNA evidence that is revealing innocent people who have been jailed for years. WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence. In this case they did and look what happened. Imagine the awful consequences in the many cases without those resources.
Why use Gmail?
Saturday, February 17, 2007
MPAA rips off freeware author
The author of ForestBlog, a blogging tool, has discovered that the MPAA was using his code in violation of his license. He gives the code away for free, but requires that users link back to his site and keep his name on the software. The MPAA deleted all credits and copyright notices from his work, and used it without permission. They ripped him off:
Way back in October last year whilst going through the website referals list for another of my sites I stumbled across this link. That’s right, my blogging software is being used by the MPAA (Motion picture Association of America); probably one of the most hated organisations known to the internet. Cool, I thought, until I had a look around and saw that all of the back links to my main site had been removed with nary a mention in the source code!
Now, as Patrick Robin (the software author) notes, this probably wasn’t the outcome of a high-level board meeting wherein the executive committee decided to rip him off. It was more likely the work of a lazy Web person at the MPAA who was cutting corners at work.
But the MPAA believes that employers should be held responsible for employees’ copyright infringements. They want you to know that if you download movies at work, your employer will also be named in the suit. Infringe as we say, not as we do.
This reminds me of Warner Music chief Edgar Bronfman, Jr’s admission that his kids downloaded infringing music. He shrugged it off, saying that he’d dealt with the matter privately. Other parents are not so lucky: when their kids get caught downloading music, the RIAA sues them for every penny, through a thuggish boiler-room operation. READ ON
Why Julie Amero was convicted: a detective and a juror speak
Here we have a statement from Detective Mark Lounsbury, a crime prevention officer with the Norwich Police Department:
Dear Mr. Bass, Unfortunately the truth in this matter is yet to be told to all those who were not located in the courtroom during the trial. Those in the courtroom saw and heard the truth. Once sentencing is done the truth CAN BE presented to the world IF they want it. I’m thinking the world doesn’t want to hear the truth. IGNORANCE IS BLISS. The lies are exciting, bringing up STRONG emotions. OMG, that poor person, victimized by the Evil Government and its minions.
It continues to amaze me how people can base their opinion on what is fed to them. Did anyone ask the Expert for the evidence he recovered which would support his claims? The “curlyhairstye script”, those pornographic googlesyndication.com generated pop ups? BUNK also known as errors of commission. Would you like to know the truth? Once sentencing is over I’d be more than happy to let you see the source code, scripts, etc.
I’ve received allot of calls and emails regarding this. All from people interested only in TELLING me their opinions or TELLING me they’re going to get me. Not once has anyone called or written me to ASK me a question. They apparently have what they want. I work hard every day for the victims of crime. I search for the truth not for me but for them. If what the newspaper reported about my testimony was my actual testimony, taken in context, don’t you think there would have been some consequences, a rebuttal, something.
Feel free to write if you wish.
“Mr. Bass” is Steve Bass of PC World. He wrote. Here’s what he got back:
The day before Bass posted an email from a juror, “...The bottom line was that it didn’t make a difference who or how the porn sites showed up on the computer...” With that I’ve decided to go back and append this plea to all of my Amero posts:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is hardly the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
Gay Pastor Loses Ruling, But Not His Flock—Yet
Many in the 350-member Atlanta congregation say they don’t plan to let the Rev. Bradley E. Schmeling leave the pulpit Aug. 15, as ordered last week by an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) disciplinary committee because he is in a gay relationship.
Defying the order could end Atlanta’s oldest Lutheran church affiliation with the ELCA, cutting off the small church and its members from the large denomination’s resources, including community service programs, hymn books and access to synod officials for guidance on legal, financial and spiritual matters. [...]
Much like a trial, a closed-door disciplinary hearing committee of 12 ELCA members, both lay and clergy, heard evidence for nearly a week in January. Seven of them felt the rule as stated left them no choice but to defrock Schmeling. But the committee also wrote that, if not bound by the church’s rules, they “would find almost unanimously that Pastor Schmeling is not engaged in conduct that is incompatible with the ministerial office” and would order no discipline.
Further, the committee suggested that the ELCA remove its rule and reinstate gay clergy who were removed or resigned because they were in a same-sex “lifelong partnership.”
At the ELCA’s last national meeting in 2005, a proposal to allow synods to decide if they would accept a pastor in a same-sex relationship failed after getting nearly half the 1,000 votes, short of the required two-thirds majority.
St. John’s members and gay rights groups hope Schmeling’s case will provide the final push for change.
August should be interesting.
Intellectual diversity, Georgia style
So we got us a bill here in the Georgia House - House Bill 154 the “Intellectual Diversity in Higher Education Act” - that sets out to authoritatively define just exactly what diversity means:
the bill states that “Teachers should not take unfair advantage of the immaturity of students by indoctrinating them with their own opinions before the students have had an opportunity to examine other opinions.” This presupposes that the ideas of teachers, most of whom have post-graduate degrees, are uninformed by their years of study and that students should regard those ideas with suspicion. It presupposes that a geneticist does not know more about the genome than his students, and it encourages his students to take what he tells them as simply his opinion. It presupposes that an ecologist does not know more about climate change than her students. For a teacher to impart what he or she thinks is not to “take unfair advantage of the immaturity of students.” It is to empower students to develop their own good judgment on the basis of sound knowledge about the world.
From the Georgia constitution:
(b) The board of regents shall have the exclusive authority to create new public colleges, junior colleges, and universities in the State of Georgia, subject to approval by majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Such vote shall not be required to change the status of a college, institution or university existing on the effective date of this Constitution. The government, control, and management of the University System of Georgia and all of the institutions in said system shall be vested in the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. (Article VIII , Section IV(b))
Via Jim’s blog, “So, how does all this legislation fit within a conservative philosophy of government?”
Evolution’s a Jewish plot and the earth don’t turn
“Indisputable evidence - long hidden but now available to everyone - demonstrates conclusively that so-called ‘secular evolution science’ is the Big-Bang 15-billion-year alternate ‘creation scenario’ of the Pharisee Religion,” reads the letter that went out under [Georgia State House Republican Rep. Ben] Bridges’ name. “This scenario is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic ‘holy book’ Kabbala dating back at least two millennia.”
It seems that the actual author or analyst, I guess you might say, was a fellow named Marshall Hall, the husband of Bridges campaign manager, Bonnie Hall. Then they sent it out over Bridges’ signature to state legislators in Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio. And they didn’t stop by letting the cat out of the bag on evolution. They also blew the whistle on all this hokum about the earth revolving around the Sun.
Barnes’ memo pointed fellow state legislators to the information at fixedearth.com which rails against the “a mystic, anti-Christ ‘holy book’ of the Pharisee Sect of Judaism” and claims that “the earth is not rotating Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ nor is it going around the sun.” They’ve even caught on to the “centuries-old conspiracy” on the part of Jewish physicists to destroy Christianity.
Our man Bridges won’t even offer a Tim Hardaway-like apology (read: forced + fake) like the one issued by Texas Republican Warren Chisum. Chisum is Texas House Appropriations Committee Chair and he used the state House operations system to distribute the memo throughout the Texas state legislature. (Here’s Chisum’s cover letter and the Bridges’ memo.)
Bridges is not returning calls; a good thing. He acknowledges “considering filing legislation this year to remove evolution from Georgia’s public schools” and denies having anything to do with the memo this way:
Bridges said the views in the memo belong to Hall, though Bridges said he doesn’t necessarily disagree with them.
“I agree with it more than I would the Big Bang Theory or the Darwin Theory,” said Bridges, who sponsored unsuccessful legislation in 2005 that would have required Georgia’s teachers to introduce scientific evidence challenging evolution. “I am convinced that rather than risk teaching a lie, why teach anything?”
Obviously, if he had his way, we wouldn’t!
Gays the new Jews (reprise)
In response to an important NYTimes Magazine piece, What’s Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? It’s the Gay Part by Russll Shorto (subscription, excerpted here), Andrew Sullivan wrote (gone now that he’s moved to The Atlantic but quoted here):
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.
I was reminded of that quote after reading Wonkette’s post, Gay Hater Admonished On Proper Gay-Hating Techniques. In it we learn what concerns Concerned Women for America about Tim Hardaway’s offensive anti-gay remarks:
Concerned Women for America (CWA) is disappointed that a man who is respected by many sports fans would make such inflammatory remarks. “Hardaway’s comments are both unfortunate and inappropriate,” said Matt Barber, CWA’s Policy Director for Cultural Issues. “They provide political fodder for those who wish to paint all opposition to the homosexual lifestyle as being rooted in ‘hate’ Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ His words do not represent the feelings of the vast majority of people opposed to the homosexual agenda. It’s perfectly natural for people to be repelled by disordered sexual behaviors that are both unnatural, and immoral Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ However, the appropriate reaction is to respond with words and acts of love, not words of hate. Jesus Christ offers forgiveness and freedom for all sinners, and that is the heart of the Gospel message. Thousands of former homosexuals have been freed from the homosexual lifestyle through acts of love. Hardaway’s comments only serve to foment misperceptions of widespread homosexual ‘victimhood’ which the homosexual lobby has craftily manufactured.”
NOTE: I thought Concerned Women for America had finally gotten themselves a woman spokesperson. Apparently not.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Fox news fake news show debuts this weekend
Fox News Channel’s Daily Show knockoff, The 1/2 Hour News Hour, debuts Sunday night; anticipation’s been building all week. Best of the bunch of posts was The Comedy Central Insider’s take on the show’s producer, Joel Surnow:
So what else is going in with Joel, other than harboring dreams of making a pro-Joseph McCarthy movie? Why, he’s also producing "The 1/2 Hour News Hour," a show that’s turning out to be a giant stinking turd of an excuse for political satire. Don’t believe us? Check out this clip of Rush Limbaugh as the President and Ann Coulter as VP.
Why even undertake such a venture? We’ll let Joel explain it in his own words to that arbiter of comedy, TVGuide:
TVGuide.com: Why do you think there needs to be a conservative version of The Daily Show?
Joel Surnow: One of the things you always look to in the TV-content business is what’s not out there. One of the things that’s definitely not out there is a satirical voice that skews to the right as opposed to the left. You can turn on any comedy satire show on TV and you’re going to hear 10 Bush jokes, 10 Cheney jokes, but you’ll never hear a Hillary Clinton joke or a global-warming send-up. It’s just not out there.
To which we say, OH REALLY?:
Mr. Surnow, meet Mr. Colbert:
For more on the politics of Joel Surnow, the man behind 24, see Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.
On Hardaway’s homophobia
I gather we’ve all heard by now that Tim Hardaway’s a confessed homophobe:
Well, you know, I hate gay people. I let it be known, I don’t like gay people. I don’t like to be around gay peopleÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Yeah, I’m homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world, or in the United States. So, yeah, I don’t like it.”
...a perfect opportunity for gay groups and gay people to patiently make a this very important point: No one has to like homos. You can sign off on full civil rights for gays and lesbians without having to think we’re nifty or be all that comfortable with the idea of sharing a locker room with us. (Hell, I’m sometimes not comfortable sharing a locker room with other gay men.) The gay and lesbian civil rights movement would make more strides if we could separate the issue of liking us from the issue of not discriminating against us.
Personally, I’m not interested in being liked by the likes of Hardaway. And I sincerely believe that the gay rights movement’s Sally Field complex—“You like me, you really like me!”—is holding us back. We should be out there make this case to bigots like Hardaway and Washington and Dobson and Falwell and Musgrave: No one wants to change your mind about homosexuality. You can think we’re naughty, you can think we’re sinful. And you know what? You can sign off on granting us our full civil rights, tolerate our living openly, marrying, having families—and go right on hating us! Heck, you can go right on trying to talk us out of being gay. [...]
Of course as more and more of us live openly—with or without our full civil rights—the hatred and fear that people like Hardaway espouse becomes less prevalent and less socially acceptable. But not everyone is going to like us or approve of us, whatever the law says, however socially tolerant our society becomes. And it is precisely these people—the haters, the Hardaways—that have to be made to understand that no one is going to force them to change their minds.
Dan’s proposed respone?
Mr. Hardaway is entitled to his opinions—and his prejudices. He is not entitled to live in a world or a United States that’s free from homosexuals. We are ‘in the world,’ we always have been, and we always will be. And gays and lesbians should not be subject to discrimination because some people are homophobic anymore than African Americans should be subject to discrimination because some people are racist. But if Mr. Hardaway doesn’t care to know associate with gay people in his private life, that is his right. It is also his loss.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
The Times finds Gay Bear Style
A reader asks Times’ styles editor Trip Gabriel what he thinks about Gawker referring to his Thursday section as “Thursgay Styles.” Trip replies:
An interesting question. As far as “Thursgay Styles,’’ it strikes me as kind of retro that a blog presenting itself as cutting edge about media and celebrity gossip would equate an interest in men’s fashion with being gay. Wasn’t that your grandfather’s thing? Thursday Styles includes a small amount of men’s fashion, mainly an every-three-weeks column, Dress Codes, but we are much more likely to cover aspects of gay life in Sunday Styles.
On the broader topic, there is no question that a lot of the influence in the style world originates with gay men. Have you noticed that straight male hipsters this winter have bushy beards and long, stringy hair, like George Harrison, circa “The Concert for Bangladesh”? It’s a look that comes in no small part from the subculture of gay men known as bears, who affect lumberjack whiskers and plaid shirts. Which is a reaction to the clean-shaven, waxed and moisturized look for men. [...]
Sunday Styles has no overarching thesis or agenda about gayness or straightness, but it’s clear the issues around sexual orientation in our society are evolving very rapidly, and often play out in the worlds of style. So we cover them.
For more on Bears, Andrew Sullivan points us to the academy’s discovery of Bears as described by the LATimes in Bear-y Culture and follows up with a reader’s reminiscences of a Bear event called the Badger Flat Run, “Imagine 300-500 burly bikers, leather muscle men and various other rugged types standing around two high altitude, deep woods campfire pits at midnight.”
Er, I can’t say I want to.
Party on base
Deciding too many soldiers were dying behind the wheel after partying out of town, Fort Stewart commanders spent $300,000 turning a defunct sports bar on the Army post into Rocky’s, a bar and nightclub that aims to mimic the after-hours party scene of Savannah’s hippest spots.
Knowing booze and dance tunes wouldn’t be enough, commanders also eased security restrictions at the post’s front gate to encourage civilians - namely women, who get free admission between 10 p.m. and midnight Fridays and Saturdays - to party at Rocky’s, which opened in November.
‘’We never want to glamorize alcohol, but we’ve got to be realistic about this,’’ said Col. Todd Buchs, garrison commander. ‘’If we know they’re going to drink, let’s provide a safe place for them to drink so we know they’re going to be alive the next morning.’’
Traffic deaths among soldiers have alarmed the Army since soldiers began returning home from Iraq in the 2003-04 fiscal year, when the number of soldiers killed in car crashes jumped 28 percent over the previous year. A total of 434 Army soldiers have died in wrecks outside combat zones since October 2003.
If it works for soldiers (admittedly a big if) maybe it suggests an approach to try with college students.
MSNBC on Amero
Hardly objective; it’s classic sensationalist cable news. Susan Filan, “Senior Legal Analyst,” recites all the old tropes. Ironic how they illustrate the computer porn…
Right now YouTube is loading extremely slowly. Here’s the link to the video.
MY SAME OLD PLEA: WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find the exculpatory material.
This is hardly the first story of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do their selective search for data supporting that guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence. The media’s eager to cash in and, as we see here, happy to ride along with that presumption of guilt.
Via a Public Defender.
Give Justin a comedy hour
If you missed Justin Timberlake on SNL in December, watch this weekend for the repeat. He owns that show. Someone should give him a show of his own:
If you saw Timberlake performing at the Grammys on Sunday, you saw evidence of his range. At an upright piano, he led a soulful rendition of what he called his best composition yet, “What Goes Around ... Comes Around.” Later, welcoming to the stage the winner of a contest (19-year-old Robyn Troup), he played acoustic guitar, sang, danced, flirted, rapped, smiled and charmed. [...]
Timberlake has been in the spotlight a long time, from his “Mickey Mouse Club” years to his boy-band ‘N Sync days. He’s even weathered the most infamous pop-culture event in recent history: the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, which he ended by causing Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction seen ‘round the world.
He’s the type of multifaceted, immensely popular talent who can bring TV precisely what it wants most: lots of young viewers. But he could do it in a format only older viewers might remember: the old-fashioned sketch-and-songs variety show, once the domain of the likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sonny and Cher.
Timberlake is a better comic than any of them, and an excellent singer. Among modern performers, perhaps only BeyoncÃƒÂ© has hinted at similarly strong capabilities as a singer, dancer, actor and comic. But Timberlake has the rÃƒÂ©sumÃƒÂ© locked, and may even have the inclination.
Give the guy a series of specials for a year, one per sweeps month, and let him loose. Regis Philbin brought back the game show. “American Idol” brought back the talent show.
Maybe Timberlake’s gift, in a box, is to bring back the variety show.
Remembering The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
DJ Drama Mixtapes in the Times Magazine this weekend
Samantha Shapiro was with DJ Drama and Don Cannon the week before Atlanta police - and RIAA agents - busted them in a dramatic raid. Her story will appear in this weekend’s NYTimes Magazine. A sampling:
Late in the afternoon of Jan. 16, a SWAT team from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, backed up by officers from the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and the local police department, along with a few drug-sniffing dogs, burst into a unmarked recording studio on a short, quiet street in an industrial neighborhood near the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The officers entered with their guns drawn; the local police chief said later that they were “prepared for the worst.” They had come to serve a warrant for the arrest of the studio’s owners on the grounds that they had violated the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, or RICO, a charge often used to lock up people who make a business of selling drugs or breaking people’s arms to extort money. The officers confiscated recording equipment, cars, computers and bank statements along with more than 25,000 music CDs. Two of the three owners of the studio, Tyree Simmons, who is 28, and Donald Cannon, who is 27, were arrested and held overnight in the Fulton County jail. Eight employees, mostly interns from local colleges, were briefly detained as well. [...]
But Drama and Cannon’s studio was not a bootlegging plant; it was a place where successful new hip-hop CDs were regularly produced and distributed. Drama and Cannon are part of a well-regarded D.J. collective called the Aphilliates. Although their business almost certainly violated federal copyright law, as well as a Georgia state law that requires CDs to be labeled with the name and address of the producers, they were not simply stealing from the major labels; they were part of an alternative distribution system that the mainstream record industry uses to promote and market hip-hop artists. Drama and Cannon have in recent years been paid by the same companies that paid Kilgo to help arrest them.
Mixtapes fill a void left by the consolidation of record labels and radio stations. In the mid-1990s, sales of independent hip-hop albums exceeded those from major releases. But those smaller independent labels were bought out by major labels, and in the late ‘90s, the last major independent distributor collapsed. This left few routes for unknown hip-hop artists to enter the market; it also made the stakes higher for major labels, which wanted a better return on their investment. As Jeff Chang, author of “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” a history of hip-hop, told me recently, “The whole industry shifted to massive economies of scale, and mixtapes are a natural outgrowth and response to that.”
Mixtape D.J.’s came to be seen as the first tier of promotions for hip-hop artists, a stepping stone to radio play. Labels began aiding and abetting mixtape D.J.’s, sending them separate digital tracks of vocals and beats from songs so they could be easily remixed. They also started sending copies of an artist’s mixtape out to journalists and reviewers along with the official label release. DJ Chuck T, a mixtape D.J. in South Carolina, told me that when label employees send him tracks to include on his mixtapes, they request a copy of the mixtape so that they can show their bosses the track is “getting spin from the street.” He also said record-label promoters want sales figures for his mixtapes so they can chart sales patterns, which they use in marketing their own releases.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
In 2005 I was among those quoting Michael Moore on the need for Democratic stars:
Where’s our Arnold? Why aren’t we running our Arnold? Why do we continue to run these wonks? The American people--see the Republicans, as much as they berate Hollywood, actually they love Hollywood. In fact, they know that Americans love Hollywood, too, and that’s why Republicans run people from Hollywood. Reagan, Arnold, Gopher from “The Love Boat.” He was in Congress...Sonny Bono...Fred Thompson. They know that Americans love Hollywood. That’s why they run people from Hollywood. And--and when the Democrats run stars: Bill Clinton, the rock star; John Kennedy, the movie star, they win. And when they run wonks, they lose. And they’ve got to start thinking about the people who connect to the average American out there, and who are really--you know, people who move the American public in--in a very visceral way...when we start running people that are beloved by the American public, we’re going to win.
Obama. Hillary. Now we got stars. And today Al Franken:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Comedian and political commentator Al Franken ended a three-year stint as a talk radio host by announcing on Wednesday he will seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman.
“I’m not a professional politician. I know I’m going to make some mistakes and this is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” the 55-year-old Harvard graduate said as he closed the final broadcast of “The Al Franken Show.” [...]
“Nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state,” Franken said in a Web-posted video message to voters in Minnesota, where he grew up and became active in politics campaigning for the late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, his political hero.
Franken is running for Wellstone’s old seat, which Coleman, a conservative, narrowly won in 2002 in a race against former vice president and Minnesota senator Walter Mondale after Wellstone, the incumbent Democrat, died in a plane crash.
Creationist defeat in Kansas
School authorities in the American heartland state of Kansas have delivered a rebuff to subscribers to the notion of intelligent design by voting to banish language challenging evolution from new science guidelines.
In a 6-4 vote on Tuesday night, the Kansas state board of education deleted language from teaching guidelines that challenged the validity of evolutionary theory, and approved new phrasing in line with mainstream science.
It was seen as a victory for a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, science educators and parents who had fought for two years to overturn the earlier guidelines. [...]
Despite this latest setback proponents of intelligent design remain active across the US. In the last five years, anti-evolution legislation has been introduced in 24 state legislatures and similar policies were under consideration in at least 20 states, according to the National Centre for Science Education in California.