aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Outmoded, amateurish and unreliable
As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable. [...]
While billions are spent each year to upgrade satellites and other high-tech spy machinery, the experts say, interrogation methods - possibly the most important source of information on groups like Al Qaeda - are a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices.
Earlier today Andrew Sullivan looked at the etymology of the phrase enhanced interrogation:
The phrase “VerschÃƒÂ¤rfte Vernehmung” is German for “enhanced interrogation”. Other translations include “intensified interrogation” or “sharpened interrogation”. It’s a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods...are indistinguishable from those described as “enhanced interrogation techniques” by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan.
He’s not accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler:
There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn’t-somehow-torture - “enhanced interrogation techniques” - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.
A picture is worth a thousand words. In this case the silence is deafening.
Picture the photo of the Vice President and his wife and their newborn grandchild—fresh from delivery and still wrapped in his hospital-issue receiving blanket. What’s missing here? The child’s parents, of course. READ ON
Pew: 4-in-10 Have Close Friends Who are Gay
Pew uses the word too, ”Survey finds Familiarity Is Closely Linked to Greater Tolerance:”
In the past four decades, growing numbers of gays have come out of the closet and into the mainstream of American life. As a consequence, 4-in-10 Americans now report that some of their close friends or family members are gays or lesbians, according to a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
About half of all women, young people, college graduates, political liberals and mainline Protestants say that someone close to them is gay, the survey found. But significantly fewer men, conservative Republicans and older Americans report that a good friend or family member is homosexual.
An analysis of survey results suggests that familiarity is closely linked to tolerance. People who have a close gay friend or family member are more likely to support gay marriage and they are also significantly less likely to favor allowing schools to fire gay teachers than are those with little or no personal contact with gays, the poll found. [...]
Percentages vary greatly by political orientation: Conservative Republicans are the least likely to say they have a close gay friend or family member (33%), while liberal Democrats are most likely to say so (59%). Race seems to have virtually no effect on whether a person knows gay people well.
Among religious groups, mainline Protestants and seculars (those who don’t claim any particular religion) are the most likely to say they had a gay family member or close friend, with 47% saying so. White evangelicals (31%) and Hispanic Catholics (33%) are the least likely to say they have gay family members or close friends.
People living in the south (37%) are less likely to know gay people well than are people living in the Northeast or West, and people living in rural areas (34%) are less likely to say so than those in urban or suburban areas.
Gallup: Tolerance for Gay Rights at High-Water Mark
PRINCETON, NJ—Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, conducted each May, finds current public tolerance for gay rights at the high-water mark of attitudes recorded over the past three decades. There is still considerable public opposition to complete equality for gays, particularly with respect to marriage. However, after several years of lower support for gay rights, support is now springing back to the relatively high levels seen in 2003, just before the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2003, decision striking down a Texas sodomy law. (According to Gallup trends, that ruling appeared to produce a backlash of public opposition to gay rights.)
The clearest example of the recent renewal in pro-gay rights attitudes comes from a question asking Americans whether they believe homosexual relations should be legal. Public tolerance for this aspect of gay rights expanded from 43% at the inception of the question in 1977 to 60% in May 2003. Then in July 2003, it fell to 50% and remained at about that level through 2005. Last year, it jumped to 56% and this year it reached 59%, similar to the 2003 high point.
I have to say I find that astounding. Not that 59% think same sex relations should be legal. No, I find it astounding that 41% of Americans think it should be a crime to be gay! Even as just 10 days ago I wrote that the real agenda of the leadership of the anti-gay marriage crowd is to criminalize homosexuality.
But back to the good news:
A similar pattern is seen with attitudes about whether homosexuality should be sanctioned as an acceptable alternative lifestyle. Only 34% in 1982 believed it should be considered acceptable. This expanded to 54% in May 2003, only to drop to 46% two months later. Today’s 57% is the highest on record for this measure.
The trend in public support for gay marriage also shows a long-term increase in pro-gay rights attitudes, with the current result being the most affirming on record for gays, though still the minority view.
53% oppose it, 46% support it. Poll or no poll I think popular acceptance of naturally occurring and consensually practiced same sex attraction is bound to increase and here to stay.
More of Gore’s press critique
He was at the 92nd Street Y Friday:
“Actually, the public forum is now crowded with triviality, banality, commercial messages and exploitive strategies for gluing people’s attentions to the screens in order to sell them things. And what is pushed out, even from the major network news casts is a serious discussion of what is at stake. What the invasion of Iraq had in common with the climate process is that in both cases is that there was voluminous evidence well available, well understood in sufficient quantities to convince any reasonable person that the decision that is appropriate and correct is the complete opposite of the decision that was in fact made.”
“When reason is drawn, is pulled out of the public sphere, it creates a vacuum. And what rushes in is ideology, and extreme partisanship and fundamentalism and extreme nationalism and people who assert they have a direct pipeline to the almighty who has this particular policy to this particular party and that is blasphemy and American herecy.”
Barack’s “tolerance” critiqued
Another illustration of our recent substitution of “tolerance” for what once was the fight for “freedom and justice for all” comes via Greta Christina’s Blog. She’s chilled to the bone by this quote from the widely praised New Yorker profile of Barack Obama:
Sometimes, of course, there is no possibility of convergenceÃ¢â‚¬"a question must be answered yes or no. In such a case, Obama may stand up for what he believes in, or he may not. “If there’s a deep moral conviction that gay marriage is wrong, if a majority of Americans believe on principle that marriage is an institution for men and women, I’m not at all sure he shares that view, but he’s not an in-your-face type,” Cass Sunstein, a colleague of Obama’s at the University of Chicago, says. “To go in the face of people with religious convictions-that’s something he’d be very reluctant to do.” This is not, Sunstein believes, due only to pragmatism; it also stems from a sense that there is something worthy of respect in a strong and widespread moral feeling, even if it’s wrong.
No, there isn’t.
No, no, no, no, no.
A wrong moral feeling is not—repeat, NOT—made worthy of respect by being either strong or widespread. [...]
Do I even need to explain this? Think of all the evil, harmful things in human history that have been supported by a strong and widespread moral feeling. Slavery. Clitoridectomy. Imperialist wars. Religious wars. The disenfranchisement of women. The censoring of information, and active disinformation campaigns, about birth control and sexual health. The Salem witch trials. The Inquisition. Genocides ranging from the Trail of Tears to the Holocaust. Lynchings. Putting queers in jails and mental institutions. Do I need to go on?