aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, August 31, 2007
Bring In Da Noise Bring In Da Funk
And with Stevie Wonder.
Penguins subversive and banned
A big fan of Savion Glover, I rented Happy Feet last weekend. I have to say that after seeing the movie I better understand why he was omitted from the top tier credits. There wasn’t near enough dancing.
I read Mumble, the young dancing penguin, as a euphemism for gay. The ice breaking into the sea at the end of delightfully executed penguin ice ride and the over-fishing trawlers were wonderfully and appropriately environmentally evocative for young children. They cry out to be made into a simulator adventure at an amusement park. It made me wish my flat panel was 50” rather than 32.
In other penguin news, AP had the details this week on ”And Tango Makes Three,” the award-winning children’s book based on a true story about two male penguins who raised a baby penguin that topped the American Library Association’s annual list of works attracting the most complaints from parents, library patrons and others:
Overall, the number of “challenged” books in 2006 jumped to 546, more than 30 percent higher than the previous year’s total, 405, although still low compared to the mid-1990s, when challenges topped 750. [...]
“And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, was published in 2005 and named by the ALA as one of the year’s best children’s books. But parents and educators have complained that “Tango Makes Three” advocates homosexuality, with challenges reported in Southwick, Mass., Shiloh, Ill., and elsewhere.
The ALA defines a “challenge” as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” For every challenge listed, about four to five go unreported, according to the library association. Krug said 30 books were actually banned last year.
Here’s some Tango backstory. And, why not? Here’s a Happy Feet trailer:
The future of spam
Alarming reports about the total volume of spam on the Net are beside the point. What we really care about is how much spam actually lands in our in-boxes. Thanks to new technologies, the fraction of spam that sneaks past the filters is starting to decline faster than the total volume of spam messages is increasing-so the typical user will see fewer and fewer unwanted messages.
Network operators and software firms are deploying ever-better filtering tools, using advanced machine learning and collaborative filtering (if others say that a message is spam, you won’t have to see it) to lower the odds of unwanted messages sneaking into your in-box. Eventually, we’ll be able to authenticate where messages originate, making it harder for spammers to hide. Sure, the spammers will fight back with technical tricks of their own, but we can fight on the technical front at least to a stalemate.
Thumbs down on Ebert’s trademark claim
I’ve only peripherally been aware of the dispute around the “thumbs up” trademark claim made by Roger Ebert.
The Chicago Tribune goes to Intellectual Property Answer Man:
Q: So if Richard Roeper or his new semipermanent guest host, Robert Wilonsky, flashes a thumbs-up sign, Ebert could sue him?
A: In the opinion of intellectual property/entertainment lawyer E. Leonard Rubin, no. Ebert and Siskel trademarked the “thumbs up"/"thumbs down” catchphrases in relation to movies, and “Two Thumbs Up” has become a powerful identifier for the show as well as a potent marketing tool for the studios. But the gesture of raising or lowering thumbs to indicate approval or disapproval dates back to ancient Rome, so it’s not original and cannot be trademarked. “Disney cannot use [’Two Thumbs Up’] to indicate the show,” Rubin said. “But people on television during the show, I believe, are not prohibited from using a gesture thumbs-up or a gesture thumbs-down: ‘I liked it,’ ‘I didn’t like it.’ ”
Ron Coleman agrees. But:
...what about the fuss we made a while ago about the Jay-Z / Diamond Dallas silly hand gesture dustup? Would the same reasoning apply?
It would — only the result might well be different, because (despite the sarcasm displayed at the time here) unlike the thumbs up / thumbs down gesture, the particular combination of joints at issue in the rapper-wrestler case seems relatively novel and, for its utter incomprehensibility, pleasantly arbitrary – as a good trademark should be.
Signorile & Crane on Outing in Newsweek
Chris Crain formerly of Window Media, where he edited Southern Voice among other gay publications and Michelangelo Signorile the activist co-founding editor of the now-defunct OutWeek, discuss outing (Signorile avers, “We don’t call that ‘outing’-we call it reporting") in Newsweek:
Signorile: For me, this is all about journalism and equalizing the reporting of homosexuality and heterosexuality. For that reason, no, I do not believe this is only about politicians nor only about those like Craig who have done some kind of harm. That would in fact be making it into a weapon or a tool, or holding people to a litmus test, as you imply of some. There are a wide range of views on this among those who might say they favor “outing"-and I have always hated that word, a violent, active verb coined by a Time magazine writer. Some people adhere only to the hypocrisy test; others, like me, are about normalizing sexual orientation in journalism and not keeping homosexuality as the dirty little secret while heterosexuality is glamorized. For me, a public figure’s homosexuality should be reported on when relevant to a larger story, just as when heterosexuality is reported on or asked about whenever relevant. [...]
Crain: I agree entirely with Mike about equalizing the standard applied by journalists in dealing with sexual orientation when it comes to reporting on public figures. For years before the Mark Foley scandal broke, he was regularly seen in public in Washington and West Palm Beach with his longtime partner, a respected physician. The media-gay and straight, with the exception of the publications I edited-largely ignored the public facts they knew about that relationship because Foley had not chosen to “come out.” I would agree with Mike that it’s not “outing” Foley to report his public appearances, ask him “the question” and print his response. If Larry Craig (before his arrest) or Ed Schrock had been engaging in public conduct like Foley, then absolutely it would have been fair game to report. But there is a huge difference between bringing your long-term partner to Washington cocktail parties and recording an ad on a phone-sex line. Both are technically “public,” since anyone could call the chat line and hear his voice, but most people would agree that the latter is within a zone of personal privacy that ought to be respected by the media, even for public figures.
Most? Signorile disagrees. Me too.
Where’ the GOP outrage about all their other scandals?
Noting that the Republican Party rush to disown Senator Craig, the NYTimes sees no similar call for judgment about any of the other scandalous revelations on the party’s plate.
There’s the F.B.I.’s inquiry into whether Senator Ted Stevens swung a quid-pro-quo deal for a government contractor who eventually renovated his Alaska home. There’s also Senator David Vitter’s presence on the client list of a Washington brothel. Mr. Vitter, a social conservative, pleaded guilty to “sin” (heterosexual) and no leadership call ensued for a thorough in-house ethics inquiry. Certainly, no Republican called for the resignation of Mr. Vitter, who comes from Louisiana, which has a Democratic governor who would then replace him. Mr. Craig is from a safe state with a Republican governor.
Mr. Craig’s explanation of his behavior may make little sense to the average voter trying to fathom how he was taken in by a police sting against lewd public behavior. The senator quietly copped a disorderly conduct plea after taking two months to consider his arrest and his options. Once it hit the media, he claimed his judgment was clouded but his heterosexuality unblemished. [...]
Underlying the hurry to disown the senator, of course, is the party’s brutal agenda of trumpeting the gay-marriage issue. To the extent Senator Craig, a stalwart in the family values caucus, might morph into a blatant hypocrite before the voters’ eyes, he reflects on the party’s record in demonizing homosexuality. The rush to cast him out betrays the party’s intolerance, which is on display for the public in all of its ugliness. But it also betrays their political uneasiness as the next election approaches.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tucker a homo homophobe? Take action!
It’s straight-identified men that are having sex in public restrooms. Major Darryl Tolleson of the Atlanta Police Department:
The majority of these men, they have families...You would think that it would be a gay issue but overhwhelmingly more and more, we’re seeing that these are people with families.
Tucker’s changing story is as pathetic as Larry Craig’s [audiotape]. What was the teen-aged Tucker doing in that park bathroom in the first place?
In tests conducted by Prof. Henry E Adams of the University of Georgia, homophobic men who said they were exclusively heterosexual were shown gay sex videos. Four out of five became sexually aroused by the homoerotic imagery, as recorded by a penile circumference measuring device - a plethysmograph. Prof. Adams says his research shows that most homophobes “demonstrate significant sexual arousal to homosexual erotic stimuli”, suggesting that homophobia is a form of “latent homosexuality where persons are either unaware of or deny their homosexual urges.
Homo, homophobe, or neither, MSNBC should address his actions:
This past spring, during the controversy surrounding Don Imus’ racist and sexist comments, Steve Capus, president of NBC News, acknowledged “that there have been any number of other comments that have been enormously hurtful to far too many people. And my feeling is that ... there should not be a place for that on MSNBC.” He also stated: “This is about trust. It’s about reputation. It’s about doing what’s right,” later adding, “I hope we don’t squander this remarkable opportunity that we have to continue this dialogue that has taken place, to continue the dialogue about what is appropriate conduct and speech, to continue the dialogue about what is happening in America. I think we have, as broadcasters, a responsibility to address those matters.”
He’s right: This is about “trust” and “doing what’s right.” It’s time for MSNBC to repudiate Carlson’s comments or risk being seen as endorsing them.
Please contact MSNBC, Dan Abrams, and Joe Scarborough today and ask that they publicly address Carlson’s comments. It’s time for them to show they don’t find humor in or condone the violence Carlson described.
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, N.J. 07094
Media Matters Reminds us: “When contacting the media, please be polite and professional. Express your specific concerns regarding that particular news report or commentary, and be sure to indicate exactly what you would like the media outlet to do differently in the future.”
Iowa judge strikes down gay marriage ban
A Polk County judge on Thursday struck down Iowa’s law banning gay marriage.
The ruling by Judge Robert Hanson concluded that the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and he ordered the Polk County recorder to issue marriage licenses to six gay couples.
This will be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, and who knows where it’ll go from there. But this is Iowa. Just a bit over four months from the caucuses.
This is now an issue in the presidential campaign.
As Todd over at MyDD says, the GOP will trip over itself blasting “activist judges” blah blah blah. But on our side, how will they react?
Our candidates should embrace it. They’ll be too chickenshit to do so, but they should. Without reservation.
LATER: John Nichols in The Nation:
Hanson’s decision accepted the argument of Iowa attorney Dennis Johnson, who represented six same-sex couples who filed suit after they were denied marriage licenses.
Johnson, a veteran civil rights lawyer, made the case that Iowa’s nine-year-old Defense of Marriage Act—which is similar to those on the books in other states and at the federal level—is at odds with the state constitution’s equal protection and due-process clauses.
Johnson’s point is a vital one that is not talked about enough in discussions of same-sex marriage that tend to focus more on personal morality than the rule of law. And it will frame a discussion that, particularly for Democratic candidates who have tended to support gay rights while shying away from embracing same-sex marriage, could take the whole debate to a new and much more serious place.
Tucker’s “gay panic defense”
Tucker Carlson says he was “bothered” in a public restroom so he got a friend, went back and “hit him against the stall with his head, then the cops came and arrested him.”
Let me be among the first to say, I don’t believe him. Is someone looking for the arrest record?
Let me be clear about an incident I referred to on MSNBC last night: In the mid-1980s, while I was a high school student, a man physically grabbed me in a men’s room in Washington, DC. I yelled, pulled away from him and ran out of the room. Twenty-five minutes later, a friend of mine and I returned to the men’s room. The man was still there, presumably waiting to do to someone else what he had done to me. My friend and I seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived.
Several bloggers have characterized this is a sort of gay bashing. That’s absurd, and an insult to anybody who has fought back against an unsolicited sexual attack. I wasn’t angry with the man because he was gay. I was angry because he assaulted me.
Now let me be clear, I don’t want anyone having sex in bathrooms but it vigilante justice is no way to address the issue.
Further, it is obvious to me and should be obvious to everyone that a society that pushes gays underground - 45 out 50 states have passed laws preventing legal recognition of same-sex relationships - can’t then complain that they then seek furtive sex. I’m not alone in believing that public lewdness laws are the de facto means by which the anti-gay marriage crowd has effectively criminalized homosexuality.
Four years of RIAA vs P2P
EFF has published the latest installment in its annual RIAA v. The People, “Four Years Later,” which is a comprehensive, exhaustively researched and cited white-paper on the RIAA’s campaign against music downloaders. The paper starts with the earliest days, when the record companies went after companies manufacturing portable music players, and continues up to the present day, with these companies suing tens of thousands of individual music fans (including people who don’t own computers, small children, military servicepeople, dead people, etc), often for sums that end up bankrupting them. EFF describes other RIAA initiatives, such as a deceptive “amnesty” campaign, advising a MIT student to drop out of school in order to pay her fines, and using universities and Congress to try to shake down students for thousands of dollars.
Then the paper moves into a section on empirical studies of P2P activity during the four year campaign—and shows that the “educational campaign” has been a total failure, with more Americans sharing files than ever, and downloading from P2P at forty times the rate that they use authorized download services like iTunes.
EFF closes by proposing a sensible solution—stop suing fans and figure out how to make money off of their preferred means of acquiring music. To do this, EFF argues that the labels should offer a “blanket license” to fans or ISPs, a flat fee that legalizes downloading music, the proceeds from which can be paid to artists and other rightsholders. This is basically the same system used by radio stations and live venues to legalize their use of music and while it’s not without its problems (the collection societies have a history of screwing indie artists and labels, and aggressively expanding their scope to include things like kindergarten classrooms), it sure beats the alternative—sue, harass and alienate customers.
like piranha on a bleeding cow
Richard A. Jewell, a very ordinary man put in an extraordinary circumstance, died yesterday:
The heavy-set Mr. Jewell, with a country drawl and a deferential manner, became an instant celebrity after a bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in the early hours of July 27, 1996, at the midpoint of the Summer Games. The explosion, which propelled hundreds of nails through the darkness, killed one woman, injured 111 people and changed the mood of the Olympiad.
Only minutes earlier, Mr. Jewell, who was working a temporary job as a guard, had spotted the abandoned green knapsack that contained the bomb, called it to the attention of the police, and started moving visitors away from the area. He was praised for the quick thinking that presumably saved lives.
But three days later, he found himself identified in an article in The Atlanta Journal as the focus of police attention, leading to several searches of his apartment and surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and by reporters who set upon him, he would later say, “like piranha on a bleeding cow.”
The investigation by local, state and federal law enforcement officers lasted until late October 1996 and included a number of bungled tactics, including an F.B.I. agent’s effort to question Mr. Jewell on camera under the pretense of making a training film.
In October 1996, when it became obvious that Mr. Jewell had not been involved in the bombing, the Justice Department formally cleared him.
The man’s become a symbol of the excesses of law enforcement and the news media. You might think there have been lessons learned. I wonder, though, what’s changed?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Baggy pants and sports bra ban in Atlanta?
Atlanta officials agreed yesterday to continue to debate whether the city should regulate baggy pants and exposed underwear:
Council members expect to create a 10- to 12-member task force soon to further the debate and decide whether Atlanta should—or can—pass a law to control fashion.
According to Wikipedia, “‘Fashion police’ refers to ... an imaginary police force that makes sure that people dress according to fashion.” Now Atlanta City councilman C.T. Martin no longer wants the fashion police to be just “imaginary.” He has proposed fining men and boys who wear baggy pants that show their underwear and women and girls who show the strap of their thong or wear sports bras in public. One of the comments on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Web site said it’s “like banning stupidity.” I disagree. Banning stupidity might make more sense. [...]
In all fairness to Councilman Martin, he isn’t just concerned with fashion. He feels that the clothing he’d like to ban is representative of what he thinks are bad aspects of the hip-hop culture, which has its roots in African-American communities. Martin, an African-American, believes that young children see their hip-hop heroes wearing clothing like this, emulate it, and then believe that “half-dressing is the way to go.” He added that baggy pants are becoming “an epidemic” throughout the country. If that’s true, I don’t think the vaccine for that epidemic will be a “baggy pants ban.”
Get the lead out
It’s easy to point fingers over there (After Stumbling, Mattel Cracks Down in China, NYTimes today).
The deeper serious more intractable problem is right here:
Though federal authorities refuse to admit it, it’s increasingly clear that no safe threshold for lead exists, and even the tiniest amount can hurt children’s developing brains. [...]
Initially, the Centers for Disease Control thought kids’ brains could tolerate up to 60 mcg/dl of lead because no seizures occurred at that level. But in 1979, Dr. Herbert Needleman reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that lead levels considered safe by the CDC-though far lower than needed to produce seizures and coma-correlated with lower IQs in children. Later, his group reported that lead-poisoned children were more likely to drop out of school and have reading disabilities.
But lead controls were slow in coming, due to powerful industry resistance. As exhaustively recounted by journalist Jamie Kitman, the lead lobby openly retaliated against those promoting regulation. In the 1970s, Du Pont and Ethyl, the largest manufacturers of lead additive, sued the Environmental Protection Agency to repeal tighter emissions standards. Though lead paint in homes was banned in 1978, pro-lead lobbyists persuaded then-Vice President George Bush in 1982 to recommend removing limitations on leaded gasoline (the effort ultimately failed). In the 1980s, the Reagan administration barred the CDC from collecting data on national pediatric lead levels. To intimidate lead researchers, a bitter harassment campaign was launched against Needleman.
Though faced with more and more data from independent researchers about lead’s dangers, the federal government chose an excruciatingly slow approach to children’s health. The CDC, in a leisurely fashion, dropped lead limits (subscription required) from 60 mcg/dl in the 1960s to 40 mcg/dl in the 1970s, ambled down to 25 mcg/dl in the mid-’80s, and finally got to 10 mcg/dl in 1991. That’s where it remains stuck now.
But the bad news about lead keeps coming. In 2003, Bruce Lanphear and colleagues wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that kids with lead levels less than 10 mcg/dl lost roughly 7 IQ points. (Though the average IQ is 100, a populationwide average loss of 7 points makes tens of thousands of children fall below 70, the general threshold for mental retardation.) Using independent data, David Bellinger of Harvard and Needleman later confirmed these findings, which were novel but not unexpected: Serious damage happens at levels now considered safe for millions of American kids. The data should have galvanized public-health authorities to pursue zero-tolerance lead policies, which would mean nationwide de-leading of unsafe homes. After all, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in 2001 that medicines can’t recover lost IQ points from lead poisoning. Once gone, they’re gone forever.
I urge you to read the entire piece. Among the aspects I find most striking is the explicit Republican party complicity in perpetuating this long known and widely recognized threat.
The theory offered by the economist, Rick Nevin, is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical theory for fluctuations in the crime rate, and it is based on studies linking children’s exposure to lead with violent behavior later in their lives.
What makes Nevin’s work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.
“It is stunning how strong the association is,” Nevin said in an interview. “Sixty-five to ninety percent or more of the substantial variation in violent crime in all these countries was explained by lead.” [...]
The centerpiece of Nevin’s research is an analysis of crime rates and lead poisoning levels across a century. The United States has had two spikes of lead poisoning: one at the turn of the 20th century, linked to lead in household paint, and one after World War II, when the use of leaded gasoline increased sharply. Both times, the violent crime rate went up and down in concert, with the violent crime peaks coming two decades after the lead poisoning peaks.
The hypocrite closet is bursting open
...we’ve had these Republican Sexual Hypocrite reveals in the last month and a half:
* Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), cruising for potty sex, somehow “mistakenly” pleads guilty.
* Diaper David Vitter (R-LA) admits he’s a “bad”, “naughty” and “nasty boy” with hookers.
* former White house spiritual advisor and fallen megachurch pastor Tweaker Ted “I’m completely heterosexual” Haggard asking whatever fans he has left for money.
* former NC Republican lawmaker and Christian Action League president, Coy C. Privette—caught at the no-tell motel with a sex worker—also guilty.
* Mark Foley is back in the news, he won’t turn over his former congressional computer to investigators.
* Rep. Bob Allen, another Republican, caught asking to blow an undercover officer and willing to pay $20 for the pleasure; currently coming up with an excuse for the day (scary black men, thunderstorms) for his same-sex appetite.
With the hypocrite closet bursting open, and its occupants falling out on top of one another, there’s not a lot the Moral Values SetTM can do except wring their hands and fret about the state of things, right?
GOP political consultant Scott Reed in today’s NYTimes:
“The real question for Republicans in Washington is how low can you go, because we are approaching a level of ridiculousness,” said Mr. Reed, sounding exasperated in an interview on Tuesday morning. “You can’t make this stuff up. And the impact this is having on the grass-roots around the country is devastating. Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country.”
Larry Craig is not gay
Craig says he’s not gay. I have to agree.
Gay is self-assigned. I am gay because I say so. If I hang out in bathrooms and am photographed in flagrante, that may prove I engaged in a homosexual act, but it does not make me gay.
When I saw Brokeback Mountain I wrote that Being gay is a choice. A homosexual proclivity may not be:
Homosexual and gay are not synonymous; all homosexuals are not gay. Homosexual acts may be circumstantial - a man in prison, a drunken evening - or experimental and do not mean an individual is homosexual by nature. But experimentation can lead to the discovery of a homosexual inclination.
Once that inclination is realized, how it is addressed matters to all of us. Because then there is a choice to be made: to accept homosexuality or to resist and fight it. To embrace it is to become gay. To resist it leads to all kinds of trouble.
In Abraham Lincoln’s day, a more agrarian time when the family was the economic unit, gay was not a choice. Had it been, I’m persuaded beyond all reasonable doubt that Lincoln might have chosen it. And that he’d have been happier if he had.
Urbanization and mobilization - particularly World War II which brought women into the workforce and men together as it took them around the world - brought with it the beginnings of a gay identity. That identity is rooted in the collective experience of those who have gone through the difficult process of making the choice to embrace their homsexuality.
I saw Brokeback Mountain yesterday. Its peculiar achievement is to show straight America the cost to all of us when someone chooses not to be gay. For Ennis’s torment was not his alone; he shared it with Jack and Alma and their daughters and every woman he dated and every random person that fell victim to his wild outbursts of rage against the world. [...]
Ennis didn’t realize he had a choice. In the final shot, alone in his trailer, Ennis looks at a postcard of Brokeback Mountain tacked to a closet door. He closes the door.
What we must see, all of us gay and straight alike, is that it’s in our interest to help open the closet door. We must make the choice to come out of the closet and become gay an easier one; the obvious one. Because that’s the right choice, the good choice, the healthy choice, for our society and for all of us living in it.
Craig is clearly not gay. His homosexual inclination is another matter entirely.
RELATED: Glenn Greenwald catalogs the Right Wing flip:
Last October, [conservatives] depicted [outing blogger Mike] Rogers as an “odious presence” for violating Craig’s privacy based on purely private behavior that was none of anyone’s business. Today, the same [conservatives demand] that Craig resign from the Senate, and invoke
sexactly the rationale which Rogers and other “outers” use[d] to justify these disclosures…
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Red states are more obese than blue states
Is it about the South?
Yesterday Chris Bowers looked at the same numbers through a different lens:
[T]he almost perfect correlation between obesity and red states vs. blue states is very surprising. Check it out, with the states Bush won twice in bold:
Obesity Rankings Of Non-Mountain West States
2. West Virginia
5. South Carolina
17. North Carolina
19. North Dakota
20. South Dakota
37. New York
41. New Jersey
46. Rhode Island
That is an almost perfect, correlation, with only Michigan, Kansas and Virginia breaking the pattern (although I guess the Supreme Court and Katherine Harris did award Florida to Bush twice). For some reason, more conservative states are also more obese. It isn’t age, since Florida and Pennsylvania, the two oldest states, are not particularly obese. It isn’t income, since red states tend to have lower average incomes than blue states. There might be a regional connection, since liberal New Englanders tend to be quite svelte, and more conservative southerners tend to be more obese. The truth is, I don’t really understand why there is a connection here, but I thought it was strange enough to be worthy of pointing out.
Nathan Ybanez files for new trial
Ybanez has filed court papers asking for a new trial. The Denver Post:
Attorneys for Nathan Ybanez, convicted of killing his mother a decade ago, have made their bid for a new trial, claiming in Douglas County District Court that his trial counsel was poor and revealing additional evidence that the then-16-year-old Ybanez was abused.
The 35-page court filing also raises questions about why Department of Human Services officials did not investigate what his attorneys called an “ultra-abusive” home.
Prior to the homicide and after running away from his Highlands Ranch apartment once, Nathan revealed that his dad “tried to strangle him” and that “he was afraid to go home,” social-services records show.
Yet no government inquiry ensued, and jurors never knew about it.
His initial lawyer, Craig Truman, should have obtained that file, according to his new Denver legal team, Davis Graham & Stubbs.
“To prepare for trial, Nathan’s attorney did virtually nothing,” reads the motion, which was filed Friday.
Pop the question. Report the answer
Earlier I quoted Chris Crane’s very reasonable question about whether or not Larry Craig is truly guilty of a lewd act. I’m reminded that Crane has also written about reporters’ deliberately avoiding reporting on the sexual orientation of public figures by neglecting to ask the very same questions they’d ask a straight person:
Homosexuality has gone from the love that dare not speak its name, to the sex that dare not be asked about. It’s telling that a reporter who wouldn’t hesitate to ask a straight celebrity about who he’s dating would consider asking the same question to a closeted celebrity as prying into his sex life.
In reality, asking a female celeb if she has a girlfriend is no more and no less intruding into her bedroom than asking if she has a boyfriend. And simply asking “the question” and reporting the answer is not the equivalent of “outing,” as many in the mainstream press seem to believe.
Outing involves reporting that someone is gay despite their refusal to answer the question or their insistence that they are straight. It’s understandably controversial, and involves weighing the supposed hypocrisy of the closeted public figure against how private the evidence is of the person’s homosexuality.
The double standard popped to mind when reading David Kurtz’s In Denial post at TPM:
After a blog purported to out Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) last October, the leading newspaper in Craig’s home state did an exhaustive investigation of the rumors that Craig was a closeted gay man. “During its investigation, the Statesman interviewed 300 people, visited the ranch where Craig grew up, and made two trips to Washington, D.C.,” the paper reports today. The investigation culminated with a May interview of Craig, with his wife present, during which Craig denied the allegations.
Kynn Bartlett writes to Romenesko:
Newspaper editors swore they’d get to the bottom of it [...]
But did either [the Idaho Statesman or Post Register] actually get around to writing the “Is Larry Craig Gay?” story?
Until Monday, the Statesman had declined to run a story about Craig’s sex life, because the paper didn’t have enough corroborating evidence and because of the senator’s steadfast denial.
In the hourlong May 14 interview, Craig was accompanied by his wife, Suzanne. He specifically and generally denied ever engaging in any homosexual conduct.
During that interview, the Statesman played Craig an audiotape of the man claiming that he and Craig had sex in the Union Station restroom. Like the Minnesota airport restroom, the Union Station restroom is known as a place where men can find anonymous sex.
Craig denied the man’s account and said, “I am not gay and I have never been in a restroom in Union Station having sex with anybody.
“There’s a very clear bottom line here,” Craig said. “I don’t do that kind of thing. I am not gay, and I never have been.” [...]
The Statesman followed dozens of leads about alleged sexual partners. Two prevalent rumors swirl around two men who are dead. The Statesman has found no written record of sexual intimacy between those men and Craig. Relatives of those men are dead, unaware of proof to substantiate the rumors, or unreachable.
Two other alleged partners unequivocally denied having been intimate with Craig. Other accounts are simply unfounded. Some were inconclusive.
There are, however, the two men who told the Statesman Craig made passes at them. Craig denied those accounts in his May 14 interview.
Best blonde joke ever
Remember the best blonde joke ever? This tops it…
More crack reporting from the traditional media
MSNBC, in a story on how the Vick case divides African-American leaders, quoted from Al Sharpton’s personal blog, “If the police caught Brett Favre (a white quarterback for the Green Bay Packers) running a dolphin-fighting unit out of his pool, where dolphins with spears attached to their foreheads fought each other, would they bust him? Of course not.”
Just one problem. The “personal blog” was in reality a parody site.
How did the reporter figure it out? Digby:
The editor of the site, terribly impressed with MSNBC’s investigative skills as you might imagine, wonders which one of these clues finally tipped them off:
1. The words “fake parody blogs” in the titlebar of every page of our site
2. Our logo
3. Al Sharpton blogging on the same site as Lindsay Lohan, George Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
4. Our about page http://www.newsgroper.com/about/
5. Al Sharpton referring to himself in his bio as an “Emancipation Proclamation enthusiast”
LATER: Joe Gandelman points out that the MSNBC correction was wrong; they were carelessly taken in by parody, not duped by a hoax:
rather than admit “we put that on the site without really checking the website source as a whole - sorry!” or “we made a mistake in not looking at the post a bit more carefully but mistakes do happen!” MSNBC’s website writer called it “hoax” which implies Newsgroper set up to trick people.
Vint Cerf predicts the end of TV as we know it
The “godfather of the net” in a Guardian profile, predicts the end of TV as we know it:
The 64-year-old, who is now a vice-president of the web giant Google and chairman of the organisation that administrates the internet, told an audience of media moguls that TV was rapidly approaching the same kind of crunch moment that the music industry faced with the arrival of the MP3 player.
“85% of all video we watch is pre-recorded, so you can set your system to download it all the time,” he said. “You’re still going to need live television for certain things - like news, sporting events and emergencies - but increasingly it is going to be almost like the iPod, where you download content to look at later.”
Dr Cerf, who helped build the internet while working as a researcher at Stanford University in California, used the festival’s Alternative McTaggart Lecture to explain to television executives how the internet’s influence was radically altering their businesses and how it was imperative for them to view this as a golden opportunity to be exploited instead of a threat to their survival. [...]
Dr Cerf predicted that these developments would continue, and that we would soon be watching the majority of our television through the internet - a revolution that could herald the death of the traditional broadcast TV channel in favour of new interactive services.
Was Craig really guilty of lewd conduct?
Chris Crain notes that “the gay and leftie blogosphere is, of course, gleeful, as is practically every gay person I’ve talked to” and wonders why we “cheer on the politics of personal destruction.”
Crain quotes from the arrest report to tell the tale told by the officer seated in the airport restroom stall next to the fidgeting, crack-peaking, foot-tapping, hand-swiping Senator, to wonder, was Craig really guilty of lewd conduct?
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Craig was somehow crudely indicating his sexual interest in Karsnia. The Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Lawrence vs. Texas decision that sex between consenting adults is constitutionally protected. Many states have correctly concluded that, as a result, solicitation of sodomy or other forms of sex, even when the conversation takes place in public, is also constitutionally protected. If conduct is constitutionally protected, then we have a First Amendment right to discuss it.
That protection falls by the wayside, as well it should, if Craig was not just soliciting a private sex act in a public place but actually intended for the sex itself to take place in public. Nowhere does the arrest report explain to us how Sgt. Krasnia made that leap of logic based on Craig’s foot-tapping and hand-swiping.
The arrest report does indicate that Craig was late for a flight, so it may well have been some odd form of quickie was what was on his mind. But it also reported that Craig identified himself as a regular commuter through the airport, so another explanation might be that he wanted to set up some later rendezvous.
Yes, I know that Craig pled guilty to the charge, and it’s on that point where he most clearly hoisted himself on his own petard. He was so afraid of how things would look that he lacked the nerve to defend himself and his rights - just as over the course of his life he lacked the nerve to accept his sexual orientation (whether bisexual or homosexual) and defend the rights of those who share those orientations.
The saddest part of the Larry Craig scandal to me is that it will only encourage and energize those who troll the sex lives of politicians in search of juicy slime to spread - as if that somehow makes the case for our equality. As for me, I don’t favor arguing I have a right to privacy in my choice of sexual partners by invading that right in others, even if they are our opponents, and even if they are hypocrites.
We should take no joy in the ruin of Larry Craig’s marriage and reputation - even if it is well deserved and a long time in coming. The man has known for two years now he was under intense scrutiny for rumors that he’s gay and has sex in public toilets. Not since Bill Clinton have we been treated to a public figure so compulsively unable to control the little head with the big one.
Monday, August 27, 2007
IDAHomophobia rerun: homo homphobes
The quote I like: “In tests conducted by Prof. Henry E Adams of the University of Georgia, homophobic men who said they were exclusively heterosexual were shown gay sex videos. Four out of five became sexually aroused by the homoerotic imagery, as recorded by a penile circumference measuring device - a plethysmograph. Prof. Adams says his research shows that most homophobes “demonstrate significant sexual arousal to homosexual erotic stimuli”, suggesting that homophobia is a form of “latent homosexuality where persons are either unaware of or deny their homosexual urges.”
There’s more here. We were both sorry to learn that Professor Adams passed away in 2000. Too bad too. I’m not finding any more recent research, though there’s no reason to believe things have gotten anything but worse.
Larry Craig: sad, but true
Idaho’s Larry Craig on the issues:
* Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
* Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
* Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
* Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
* Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)
Craig has a 0% rating in HRC’s 2006 Congressional Scorecard
Favorite Quotes. Roll Call:
A spokesman for Craig described the incident as a ”he said/he said misunderstanding,” and said the office would release a fuller statement later Monday afternoon.
After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.
Romney scrubbed YouTube of Larry Craig video. Craig served as a co-senate liaison for the Romney campaign. A 1982 preemptive denial:
The Idaho Values Alliance--"Making Idaho the Friendliest Place in the World to Raise a Family"--is going to have a hard time swallowing the latest news about its beloved Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for lewd conduct in an airport restroom.
Here’s one page of the group’s site, a news update where it praises Craig for his “pro-life” vote on stem cell research, followed by a “Bonus Byte” on the perils of homosexuality and airport restrooms
I wonder if the GOP’s burgeoning “bathroom problem” isn’t reflective of something larger than just a bunch of conservative dudes who couldn’t come out of the closet. There’s something palpably sad to me about what happened to Allen and Craig too, something oddly touching about their misplaced faith in the fading world of secret, anonymous gay sex. That world--once found in bathrooms, parks, piers and adult bookstores; the furtive refuges of adventuresome queers, married men, the curious--has been swept away by so many police raids, privatization schemes, quality of life campaigns and internet dating services. But mostly, it’s fallen away as gays have become increasingly integrated into the mainstream, and also, paradoxically, more marked than ever. “You’re either gay or you’re not” seems to be the equation.
Until someone like Craig, Allen, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard or Jim McGreevey shows up to ripple momentarily the waters of public discourse on sex. These guys have problems, no doubt. But we might also pause to wonder if there’s some cultural knot that gay liberation--despite its original and best intentions--has left in place. At the very least the link between public power and domestic heterosexuality--with all the fetishistic displays of family life that entails--has yet to be completely severed. Just ask Rudy Guiliani, or Hillary Clinton! Moreover, that knot, perhaps best described as sexual propriety, is what fuels the moral campaigns against homosexuality that have become one of the Republican Party’s identifying causes--loyally supported by the likes of Craig, Haggard, Foley, et. al. It’s also what leads Bob Allen to the stunning and revealing calculation that it would be better to be seen in the public eye as an avowed racist than as someone who likes to have sex with men sometimes.
Bye Bye Al-BERT-ie
My headline is an Atrios homage. Couldn’t resist.
I’ll be sure to keep me day job.
Honorable mention, Wedding Gift.