Tag Archive | haters

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck…

“Neo-Nazi: a member of an extreme right-wing political group that has ideas similar to those of Adolf Hitler's Nazi parting, including hatred of jews and people of non-white races...”

“Neo-Nazi: a member of an extreme right-wing political group that has ideas similar to those of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party, including hatred of jews and people of non-white races…”

So I’ve seen some admonishments going around along the lines of, “stop calling everyone who disagrees with you a Nazi!” and other variants of the good ol’ Godwin’s Law1. Never mind that Godwin himself said, “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician.” I’ve specifically run into this admonishment lately in discussions about various people who have been advocating various racist, xenophobic, misogynist, and homophobic opinions along with laws and policies intended to harm people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

In other words, there are a lot of public figures and pseudo-celebrities and wannabe pundits out there who are advocating neo-Nazi opinions and neo-Nazi policies, but we aren’t allowed to call them Nazi. Because that’s rude. Or it’s hyperbole. Or something.

Never mind that these proponents of opinions and policies that exactly (sometimes word-for-word) repeat actual neo-Nazi publications and demands Have previously called any woman who objected to their sexist pronouncements “feminazis.” Or that any of us who called out their racist or misogynist or homophobic statements were called “PC-nazis.” And then if we objected to that, they would make arguments about why the word “nazi” isn’t actually an insult. When it’s used back at them, suddenly we’re the ones who have crossed a line.

Some of these guys have demanded apologies, and even gotten retractions from some publications, insisting that just because they have said things like “In response to concerns from white voters that they’re going to go extinct, the response of the Establishment—the conservative Establishment—has been to openly welcome that extinction” or “Behind every racist joke is a scientific fact” or “some degree of separation between races is necessary for a culture to be preserved” that it is ridiculous to think that means they’re white nationalists or neo-nazis. We’re the bad guys for even suggesting such a thing! They aren’t bad guys for advocating forced deportment or relocation or so-called “peaceful ethnic cleansing3

Milo Yiannopoulos, for instance, has called for at least the separation of people by race, ethnicity, and religion. He has also spouted various racist, misogynist, and transphobic beliefs. He has sent hordes of his internet followers to harass women with rape threats and racist attacks. He has said all sorts of awful and false things about trans people and has encouraged his fans to attack and harass them. And not just in general, he has handed out private address and contact information of specific trans people and suggested that someone should teach them some manners.

Yiannopoulos then defends himself by insisting that he’s simply stating an opinion. And besides, he’s gay, so how could he possibly be a bigot? Not only is he gay, but he’s white gay man who only has sex with black men, so he can’t possibly be racist (never might that racial fetishization is deeply entwined with racial hatred). And by the way, he doesn’t endorse all the white nationalist policies of a bunch of his friends (even though he frequently makes some of the same arguments they do), he just thinks they’re interesting people. So it’s wrong to call him a white nationalist or a neo-nazi of a nazi sympathizer.

Bull.

He’s an editor of a news site which describes itself as the platform of the alt-right. The alt-right is a term coined by white supremacist Richard Spencer in order to make white supremacy seem more like just another political option4. He argues racial opinions of white nationalist are reasonable–not just that they have the right to hold the racist opinions, but that those statements are fact rather than opinion. He attacks people on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or gender identity. He defends not just the right of the neo-Nazis and white nationalist to hold their opinions, but he actively campaigns to write those opinions into law. One day those same white nationalists who currently enjoy having his support may well turn on him, just as the historical Nazis eventually rounded up their own gay members and executed or imprisoned them. But right now he’s a white nationalist and a nazi-apologist. That’s a fact.

Then there are the people who angrily argue that they aren’t defending neo-nazis or white supremacists just because they are telling people like me to shut up about them. Seriously. “You must let them advocate genocide without calling them on it” isn’t defending them? Of course, the most recent person to send me that message personally also slipped in two bigoted dog whistles5 before I blocked him

Then, of course, there are the free speech arguments. Okay, I’m an advocate for free speech. You have the right to your opinion, and you have the right to express it. But I, as a private citizen, am under no obligation to give you a platform. I am under no obligation to sit quietly and listen. I am certainly under no obligation to sit quietly and listen while you advocate policies that will cost me my job, my home, and my health care. I’m allowed to argue. I’m allowed to boycott. I’m allowed to call you a neo-nazi. I’m allowed to shun and shame people who enable your advocacy of hate.

“Some people's idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but it anyone says anything back that is an outrage.” — Sir Winston Churchill

“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but it anyone says anything back that is an outrage.” — Sir Winston Churchill

Disagreement is not censorship. Boycotting is not censorship. Shunning is not censorship. Calling you a bigot or similar is not censorship. Calling you an idiot is not censorship. Staging a protest when you come to my community to preach your hate is not censorship. Boycotting businesses that give you a platform to preach your hate is not censorship. Repeating word-for-word things you say (particularly if you go on TV or stand up on a stage to address supporters) is not censorship nor misrepresenting you. Pointing out which of your statements are factually wrong is not censorship. Even going so far as to call you a liar (particularly when it has been documented numerous times that you repeat false information again and again) is not censorship.

Free speech means you can express your opinions if you like. Free speech does not mean that those opinions have to be taken seriously, or treated reverently, or accepted without argument.

To circle back to the original point, if you:

  • repeat neo-nazi and white supremacist slogans,
  • advocate the same programs of racial, ethnic, religious, misogynist, and/or homophobic discrimination and oppression as neo-nazis and white supremacists,
  • attack anyone who disagrees with neo-nazi and white supremacist proposals or hate speech,
  • thank the avowed neo-nazis and white surpremacists when they repeat your words and deeds and hold you up as an example on their white supremacist video blogs, news sites, and/or conferences,
  • are publicly and unapologetically friends with neo-nazis and white supremacists after they have repeatedly (often in your presence) called for the extermination of people based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity,

then you are a neo-nazi. And no one should apologize for calling you a bigot, a nazi, a white nationalist, a white supremacist, or a nazi sympathizer. Because you are all of those things. And that is a fact.


Footnotes:

1. Godwin’s Law was first articulated by author and attorney Mike Godwin: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, if an argument goes on long enough, someone will eventually evoke the horrors of World War II, the Holocaust, et cetera. While it is phrased as if it were a law of mathematics, it’s really just an adage based on observation2. As Godwin himself has stated, it was intended as a tool to remind people not to resort to unnecessary hyperbole. He also wanted people to not trivialize the Holocaust. He has pointed out on several occassion that sometimes such comparisons are quite apt.

2. Godwin’s Law gets abused a lot. People have interpreted it to mean that if someone ever makes a comparison to Hitler, naziism, et cetera, that this immediately invalidates all of their arguments. Part of this comes from rules that were established on some Usenet groups in the 1990s by which if a thread reached the Hitler comparison, the thread would be ended. Note that this was a convention that some people chose to adopt. Godwin’s Law is not an actual law nor does it articulate anything that even approaches a logical fallacy.

3. This oxymoronic term is deployed frequently and unironically by actual neo-Nazis such as Richard Spencer, the president of a literal white supremacist “think tank” among other things. He has also called for non-peaceful ethnic cleansing, for example: “humanity doesn’t need the Black man, and having concluded that, we must decide how efficiently to dispose of them.”

4. There some subjects upon which people can legitimately disagree. Details of tax policy, for instance. But when one side is literally calling for the mass murder of the other side (or mass incarceration, or denial of fundamental human rights), then we are no longer talking about a disagreement.

5. Dog-whistle: coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. For instance, in American politics the phrase “states’ rights” seems to be a mere reference to the Constitutions delineation of some powers and rights belonging the states (and other to the people or to the federal government), but signaled the politician’s commitment to segregation and institutionalized racism. “Real Americans” is frequently used to refer to conservative white Christians. Similarly, calls to “cut entitlements” are understood by the target audience to mean that “undeserving minorities” will be kicked off public assistance (when it fact it means that everyone will lose their benefits in order to funnel more tax money to the uber-rich and corporations).6

6. The dog-whistles in question in this particular exchange made it clear the guy arguing with me was both anti-semitic and homophobic. I thanked him for identifying himself just before blocking him.

Three months later, Pulse shooting still a gut punch

“Can you put your finger on the common denominator?” © Matt Wuerker, Politico cartoonist http://www.universaluclick.com/editorial/mattwuerker

“Can you put your finger on the common denominator?” © Matt Wuerker, Politico cartoonist http://www.universaluclick.com/editorial/mattwuerker

Three months ago, an angry homophobe walked into an Orlando, Florida gay night club and murdered 49 people, wounding 53 more. It was a Saturday night during Queer Pride month, and it was specifically Latinx Night at that club. The homophobe had spent time in the days before the massacre staking out the location. He had created a fake profile on a gay hook up app before that for the express purpose (based on the recovered chats) of finding out what the busiest gay nightclubs were in his community1. It was a planned hate crime.

The homophobe decided to buy an assault rifle to kill as many queers as he could after seeing two men kissing in public. The shooter’s own father was shocked at how angry his son had become when he saw that.

Three months later, reading about this still feels like a punch in my gut. I’m an out queer man who grew up in redneck communities during the 60s and 70s. I have always had the moment of fear any time I am out in public with my husband any time we show any affection. I have a specific incident where I know my husband was threatened with violence after we exchanged a quick kiss when I dropped him off at a bus stop years ago. It’s a dread calculation I find myself making whenever we are out with friends: is it all right if I call him “honey,” or will we get harassed? Can I safely say, “I love you,” or will we get threatened?

Thanks to this shooting, there’s now a new layer of fear and anxiety on that. Not just that I and my husband might be in danger, but that our actions might set off another bigot who will go murder a bunch of queer people.

Some people will ask, “It’s been three months; are you still upset about this?” And yes, people will actually ask. I know this because the day after the massacre happened people who I used to think were my friends were angry at me for being upset about the shooting.

Other people have much more immediate reasons not to forget: Last hospitalized survivor of Pulse nightclub shooting discharged. And now that he’s finally able to leave the hospital, Pulse nightclub shooting survivor plans return to New Orleans for recovery. Even though he’s out of the hospital, he’s got more recovery to do. As many of the other survivors are still going through physical therapy and otherwise trying to recover health and mobility that was taken from them.

There’s other kinds of fall-out still happening: State slaps $150,000 fine on security firm that employed Orlando Pulse shooter. The company isn’t being fined for anything directly related to the massacre. No, while authorities (and journalists) were investigating, the psychological evaluation he had undergone to get his security job was publicized. And people tried to contact the doctor whose name was on the evaluation. The problem was, she had stopped practicing more than a decade ago, had moved out of state, and hadn’t performed any evaluations for the employer since. At least 1500 employees were incorrectly listed has having been examined by the retired doctor during those ten years.

The state agency that investigated believes that all of those people were evaluated and passed, just that the wrong doctor was listed on their records. Over a thousand times. Over the course of ten years. Isn’t that reassuring?

I mean, a single psych eval doesn’t guarantee anything, particularly one done years before. And if I’m going to be disturbed about problems in the case, it would be the shooter’s history of domestic violence. One might ask how people get jobs where they are given badges and weapons and put in charge of security at places like courthouses when they have a history of domestic violence. I’m reminded of a chilling op-ed piece I read years ago that pointed out if having been arrested for domestic violence (or admitting in divorce proceedings to abuse) disqualified people from being cops, prison guards, and the like, we’d have a very hard time staffing departments, prisons, and so forth3.

A FELONY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION IS THE SINGLE GREATEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE VIOLENT CRIME AMONG MEN.”
—according to the Washington State Institute for Public Policy’s analysis of The Offender Accountability Act

Let’s not forget that all the societal forces and institutions that encouraged the shooter to hate queer people, and that afterward blames the victims for bring this thing on themselves just by being who they are, are still active in this country. Some of them are even running for high political office. Others are merely preaching in churches around the country. Though some are finding themselves less welcome with their co-religionists: Baptist Union distances itself from anti-gay pastor.

The pastor in question, Steven Anderson, is one of many who said (from his pulpit) the Pulse massacre victims deserved to be murdered. He’s not the pastor who said that who has since been arrested for molesting a young boy. But since this guy also often goes off on homophobic rants, it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets caught doing something similar. But right now he’s just trying to go to South Africa and preach. He might not get to spread his hate there, however: SOUTH AFRICA CONSIDERS BANNING U.S. ANTI-GAY PREACHER.

Not that banning one pastor from one country is going to make much of a dent in the hate: Fox News Commentator Tells Conservative Christians They Must Support Anti-Gay Hate Groups.

But enough about the hateful people. What can we do to help love to win? Well, the first thing is not to forget the previous victims of hate:

Victims killed in Pulse in Orlando three months ago.

Victims killed in Pulse in Orlando three months ago. (Click to embiggen) (Facebook/AP/Reuters/Rex)


Footnotes:

1. The political cartoon I link to above refers to the Orlando shooter as a “gay homophobe” which was widely reported, but later debunked by the FBI2. The shooter installed a gay hookup app on his phone and set up his account around the same time that he bought the weapon that he later used in the massacre. And as I mentioned, his conversations never turned into meetings. He would ask gays what the busiest club was, and if they didn’t know, stop talking to him. If they mentioned any clubs, he would ask questions about the nightclubs, and then deflect any attempts by the person he was talking to to actually meet. A few people who spoke to the press in the aftermath of the shootings, claiming to have been flirted with by him or have even had sex with the shooter. But the FBI determined that none of them had actually met the shooter.

2. I still run into people who believe that the shooter was a self-loathing gay man, and that this fact means it wasn’t actually a hate crime. First, he wasn’t gay. Second, lots of hate crimes against queer people have been committed by self-loathing or in-denial queer people. Doesn’t make it any less of a hate crime.

3. I wish I could find that specific article, but I haven’t been able to track it down. There are numerous other sources of that data, however: Research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population. So where’s the public outrage? for instance. Or: 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence.

Bullied Bullies: Shifting blame and whipping up the troops

“Another dark ploy is that narcissists contact your relatives, in-laws, friends and anyone who will listen to broadcast blatant lies about your character. This doesn’t happen in all instances but it is remarkable the lengths these malicious individuals exceed to trash you, put you at fault and lead others to believe that you are “crazy”; you need immediate psychiatric help; you have always been unstable, etc. ” Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D. Narcissistic Personality Clinical Expert

“Another dark ploy is that narcissists contact your relatives, in-laws, friends and anyone who will listen to broadcast blatant lies about your character. This doesn’t happen in all instances but it is remarkable the lengths these malicious individuals exceed to trash you, put you at fault and lead others to believe that you are “crazy”; you need immediate psychiatric help; you have always been unstable, etc. ” Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D. Narcissistic Personality Clinical Expert (click to embiggen)

I friend recently asked me, “What is going on with Trump?” He was specifically being exasperated that no matter what crazy thing that man says, there were still people supporting him. One answer is to look at the roots of middle-class fear and anxieties, and particularly the way that moneyed interests have (for more than two centuries) pitted various groups of the poor against each other, usually on racial and religious divides. But another way to understand Trump, his success, his reactions to adversity, and so forth, is to look at abusive men in general, and understand how they operate.

Having been raised by a physically and verbally abusive man, myself—and having been victimized by other abusers throughout my childhood and teens—I have a little bit of insight. Among the common tactics of abusers—particularly narcissistic abusers—are scapegoating and gaslighting.

When scapegoating, they blame other people for their own failures, no matter how improbable it is for the named person to have done that thing:

When gaslighting, they try to convince everyone that their victim is crazy, or the actual abuser, or is otherwise mentally or morally deficient. This is often combined with projection—accusing their victim of having motives that are actually the abuser’s:

Unpacking the baby incident (click to embiggen)

Unpacking the baby incident (click to embiggen)

One of the best examples of these two tactics together was the incident that was widely reported, at the time, of Trump yelling at a baby. Someone had brought a baby to one of his rallies, and the child started crying loudly. First Trump said that it’s okay, he likes babies and could keep talking. Then, as the baby would not quiet down, he became irritated and explained that he had only been kidding when he said it was okay. He told the crowd that she must be crazy to think it was okay to be there with a crying baby. How could she not realize that she needed to leave as soon as the baby began making noise, he asked, when made some of the crowd laugh. Of course it’s the mother’s fault for taking him at his word and not somehow divining that he meant the opposite of what he said. Of course it is the mother’s fault for not controlling the baby or immediately leaving when the baby became a problem. And of course it is the mother’s fault for even thinking that she could participate in democracy or public life in any way while she had a baby.

As Amadi Lovelace sums it up in the screenshot: “Trump uses abusive tactics and reinforces marginalization of women with children by yelling at mother with baby.”

At this point you might be saying, “Fine, Gene, you’ve made a good case that Trump is not just a narcissist and a liar, but that he is specifically an abusive narcissist. But how does that explain the people who support him?” That’s simple: abusers are extremely good at manipulation and are especially good at finding people who are ripe for manipulation. The reason an abuser can get away with outrageous blame shifting in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary is because there are always people looking to hurl some blame around, themselves.

It’s like all those messages of condolence that I received from certain relatives a few months back when my abusive father died. One person said, “I remember when your parents found out they were going to have a baby, how excited he was and how much he was looking forward to being a father. He loved your mother so much. He was so happy the day you were born! I hope that you can focus on memories of those good times, before the troubles began. Don’t dwell on the bad times.” It’s subtle, but the clear implication is that it’s my fault that I don’t feel love and admiration for my father, because I focus on the good times. But look at the most ridiculous part of that argument: it’s wrong of me to even think about his bad behavior which was going on for as long as I can remember instead of remembering his alleged good and loving actions which occurred before I was born.

To be clear, most of the relatives who made comments like this, are the same ones who during previous discussions of my dad’s issues, always pointed to an incident that happened to him about three months before I was born as the beginning of “the troubles.” It’s hard to get more ridiculous than blaming a person for not remembering things that happened before they were born. They don’t see that contradiction because reality doesn’t match their narrative that he was a good man who simply made some mistakes. Admitting that he was a bad father especially during the years I and my siblings were young and most vulnerable would mean admitting that they didn’t do anything to protect us.

People aren’t rational. They will ignore facts that contradict their chosen narrative. Trump’s appeals repel a lot of people who recognize the falsehoods and inconsistencies of his statements. But the exact some statements appeal to people who want to buy into parts of his narrative. Whether that narrative is that immigrants from south of the border are the cause of the stagnation of middle class earnings, or that muslims are the cause of every mass shooting, or that thug culture is to blame for the perceived (but fictional) increase in violent crimes, and so on. People who are afraid for their future and are angry at their perceived loss of privilege are looking for someone to blame. Even more, they are looking for someone who will assure them that there is someone else to blame. They are looking for someone to tell them that they aren’t wrong to hate people who have different skin colors, or different religions, et cetera.

Trump gives them that. He gives them targets for the anxieties and fear. He fans the flames of that fear into outrage and tells them that it is all right to blame other people. He tells them it is all right to resort to violence (“I’ll pay your legal fees” or “the second amendment people could stop her”). He tells them that anyone who disagrees is crazy, sleazy, immoral, and the enemy.

Abusers are good at finding victims. But they’re also good at finding others willing to hate those victims. And that’s what is “going on” with support of Trump.

Weekend Update 8/13/2016: Bigotry comes in many forms

“There are worse things in the world than a boy who likes to kiss other boys.”

“There are worse things in the world than a boy who likes to kiss other boys.” (click to embiggen)

We’re another step closer to seeing the end of the so-called National Organization for Marriage. Over the last two days alone, Brian Brown, the current head of this anti-gay organization, has sent out follow-up emails to the organization’s usual begs for donations lamenting the lack of response. Except lamenting isn’t quite the right word: Brian Brown To Supporters: Thanks For Nothing, Losers.

Thursday’s email from Brown began with calling his donors pathetic: “We’re only 17% toward our goal of receiving 1,500 membership contributions of at least $35. That is pathetic.” And when that tactic failed to get the desired response, he followed up by called his donors quitters: “I really don’t believe — I just can’t imagine the thought — that NOM’s members have quit fighting for God’s institution of marriage. And yet, only 256 of you have responded with an urgently needed membership contribution during this critical period.”

Three years ago I wrote about how the organization was going in the red and only surviving by taking “loans” of several millions of dollars from a related religious education non-profit: In the hole, still digging. The money from the religious non-profit was raised under rules that forbid it being used for political advocacy purposes, which means that an outright transfer is illegal. However, as long as they call them loans they can. I wish that the IRS would investigate them over this, but we all know they won’t.

Not only are donations drying up, but they’ve been getting ever more pathetic turn-out for their March for Marriage events in Washington, DC, in 2014, then 2015, and earlier this year. I agree with Joe Jervis, who predicts that NOM will merge with the equally anti-gay World Congress Of Families, which just so happens to have hired Brian Brown as their new president. He’ll continue peddling hate, just mostly in countries where the message finds more sympathy.

Not that there aren’t still haters right here in America: Trump and Rubio Attend Florida Rally That Mocks LGBT Pain. Not only did they attend this anti-gay hatefest, but they did it two months to the day after the Orlanda gay nightclub massacre. Classy. Trump comes under fire for anti-lgbt conference Trump, of course, keeps claiming that he’s going to be great for gay rights. He also keeps promising evangelicals that he’ll appoint supreme court judges that will overturn marriage equality. Trump also wants the repeal the law that forbids religious non-profits from endorsing candidate: ORLANDO: Trump Tells Hate Group Meeting That Winning Presidency Will Get Him Into Heaven [VIDEO].

Of course, not all homophobia is as obvious and frothing as the people at NOM or the Liberty Council or similar organizations: Daily Beast’s Olympic Grindr Story Slammed as ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Homophobic’. I realize NBC is trying to appear unbiased, but they should have revised that headline to “Daily Beast’s Homophobic Olympic Grindr Story Slammed as ‘Dangerous’.” If you don’t understand why the Daily Beast’s story in which a straight editor created a fake profile on a gay hook-up app and tricked a bunch of Olympic athletes (many of them from countries where they can be put to death just for being accused of being gay) into meeting is inherently homophobic, read this: Grindr is not a gay sex peep show for straight people: If our dating rituals are weird to you it’s because you denied us the luxury of normality in public for so long. I could go on about it, but over at Slate openly gay Olympic athlete Amini Fonua said it best: Do you realize how many people’s lives you just ruined without any good reason but clickbait journalism?

And let’s not forget the self-loathing gay people who enable their own (and our) oppression: LGBT Rights Opponent Newt Gingrich To Address Log Cabin Republicans.

Fortunately, hate is a losing strategy. Love trumps hate. Let’s end this on a happy note and remember that love wins: These beautiful portraits of LGBT couples embracing will melt your heart.

Why thoughts and prayers are worse than inadequate

A cartoon drawn by Patt Kelley and posted from his twitter account (@pattkelley) More of his work available at www.pattkelley.com (Click to embiggen)

A cartoon drawn by Patt Kelley and posted from his twitter account (@pattkelley) More of his work available at http://www.pattkelley.com (Click to embiggen)

When horrible things happen, the first reaction of some people is to say that their thoughts and prayers are with who ever is suffering because of the events. It sounds nice. It makes the person saying it appear to be concerned, without actually costing them anything. It is a poor substitute for actually being helpful. This cartoon, which Patt Kelley recently shared on the topic, shows a person on fire, and another person holding a garden hose and spraying water into a bucket rather than putting out the fire. The person with the hose offers prayers, when a means to actually do something about the pain, suffering, and death is right there in his hands.

People insist that there is nothing they else they can do, but frequently they’re wrong. There are things which can be done. Things within the power of the people making that statement. Congress critters of the conservative sort are especially liable, here (but not the only ones). And I don’t just mean in passing laws, though that could often help.

The very same congresspeople who sat in Republican caucus recently and prayed that gays are “worthy of death” made a big show of talking about thoughts and prayers while a lot of the public was up in arms about the Orlando shooting. It didn’t stop them from killing an amendment to extend job discrimination protections to queer people. It didn’t stop them from voting down an amendment to tighten (but hardly close) the so-called gun show loophole. It doesn’t stop them from attending rallies with pastors who call for the death of gays. It doesn’t stop them from telling their supporters that letting trans children use the bathroom that matches their gender identity is dangerous.

They’re not just withholding a water hose. They’re the people who have been splashing gasoline in the direction of every queer person they could for years. They’re the people who handed matches out to lots of people and said, “I don’t condone violence, but god says queers are monsters.”

Thoughts and prayers is more than just a means to look like you care when you don’t. It’s more than just a means to appear helpful while you do nothing. It’s more that just a means to make people focus on your piety rather than the problems of others.

It’s also an attempt to establish an alibi.

If they offer thoughts and prayers, then clearly they can claim they had no idea that all their anti-gay rhetorical was going to encourage another to attack queer people. If they offer thoughts and prayers, then clearly they can also claim that they had no idea that all the anti-trans hysteria they’ve whipped up over bathrooms would make gender nonconforming kids hate themselves to the point of considering suicide. If they offer thoughts and prayers, than clearly they can claim it’s not their fault that queer people grow up filled with fear and self-loathing, driving some to self destructive behavior, while driving some to turn that violence toward others. Clearly, they say, it isn’t their fault that anyone would listen to all the hate they have been spewing and act on it.

Why would anyone ever think they wanted that?

Weekend Update 4/16/16: Republicans shielding sex criminals (again and again and again)

I’ve written a few times about the case of former Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, who has pled guilty to charges of trying to illegally conceal large cash transfers he made to pay millions of dollars in hush money in order to prevent the public from learning that while he was a high school wrestling coach he molested at least four of the boys under his supervision. The sexual assaults occurred long enough ago that due to a statute of limitations on such crimes, Hastert can’t be charged with the molestation. (Which prompted the Daily Show to point out, “You’d think something as awful as molesting children would have no statute of limitations”, because things like parking tickets have no statute of limitations, for example.)

There was one interesting little twist this week as Hastert’s sentencing date approaches: The judge in Dennis Hastert’s hush-money case says that if the former House speaker wants letters of support considered during his sentencing, they must be made public. Hastert’s lawyers have drummed up 60 letters of support from various people asking the judge for leniency. However, those letters have been submitted under seal, keeping the identity of the letter writers and the contents of the letters private. Presumably because most of the people (if not all) who wrote the letters only agreed to do so on condition of anonymity. Because no one, particularly no elected official, wants to go on record supporting a child molester. The judge has rightfully pointed out that ordinarily such leniency pleas are part of the public record.

I’ve been harping on Hastert because he was an anti-gay politician when he was in Congress, going so far as to, after promising the parents of Matthew Shephard (who was murdered in a gruesome hate crime) to help pass a hate crime’s bill, actually did everything in his power to kill it (and succeeded). Some reporters have tried to claim that Hastert wasn’t that anti-gay, or at least not as anti-gay as some of his fellow Republicans. Michelangelo Signorile begs to differ: How Dennis Hastert Demonized Gays as Predators While He Was the True ‘Super-Predator’

The records show that Hastert’s office kept a legislative file titled “Homosexuals,” filled with policy statements from social conservative groups like the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council that criticized same-sex marriage and Clinton administration efforts to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. The file also includes a 1996 Weekly Standard article, “Pedophilia Chic” that warned that “revisionist suggestions about pedophilia” were being embraced by the left…

…What was curiously not in Hastert’s files, according to the Politico report, was anything about the scandal that enveloped former GOP congressman Mark Foley, who was exposed in 2007 for having sent sexually explicit messages to teenage boys in the House page program. Hastert in fact was accused of dragging his feet in dealing with Foley’s activities, his office having known about it for months but either covering it up or simply not acting with the speed expected from the office of a House member who was so concerned about child predators.

New York Daily News front page breaking the scandal

New York Daily News front page breaking the scandal (click to embiggen)

Hastert, of course, isn’t the only Republican who demonized some people’s sexual lives while engaging is sexual misconduct himself: Cosponsor of Tenn. Transphobic Bill Accused of Sexual Harassment Not just accused—the accusations have been around for months—what has finally happened is the Attorney General’s office has found sufficient evidence against GOP Rep. Jeremy Durham that the rest of the legislature felt compelled to act, and has exiled him to an office in another building and essentially quarantined him from any contact with woman on any legislative staff position. I am very amused at Think Progress’s headline earlier this week about it: The Surprising Sexual Harassment Scandal Accompanying Tennessee’s Anti-Transgender Bill, because the only thing that any reasonable person should find surprising about this is that his fellow republicans have taken any action against their fellow family values champion at all.

And remember those statute of limitations laws in various states that shield child molesters, while letting other, far less severe crimes be punished many many years later. You want to know how those laws came to exist? Disgraced Former NY Assembly Speaker had affairs with at least two women — one a lobbyist, the other a former assemblywoman, court papers show According to records unsealed this week, former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had affairs with two women, one of whom is a former aide turned lobbyist who was hired by the Catholic Church to pressure legislators against a bill that would have extended the time period in which victims of molestation could sue their attackers. Sheldon dropped his support for the bill once his former aide/mistress began lobbying against it. So the sex criminals being shielded were pedophile priests whose victims didn’t speak up while they were still children. Again.

And I have to ask once again, why do any of us ever take any of these anti-sex, anti-gay politicians seriously? There is not one single case of someone using a trans rights law to try to sexually assault someone, but there are hundreds of cases of anti-gay, pro-family elected officials molesting children, sexually harassing or assaulting people, having extramarital affairs, taking their same sex “photographer” who also happens to live with them on taxpayer-funded junkets, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

What you like, what other people like…

How to be an adult: eat what you like to eat, don't eat what you don't like, and mind your own damn business about what other people eat.

How to be an adult…(Click to embiggen)

I was rather amazed at a conversation that went past one of my social media streams: one person said, “What? You mean candy corn is supposed to look like real corn???” and another said, “I had no idea! Why had no one ever told me?” and a third said, “This changes everything I thought I knew!” And all three were people who said they loved candy corn and always had.

I was too busy being flabbergasted that someone who was smart enough to operate a keyboard, was apparently an adult, had survived many years of have to defend their love of this strangely polarizing candy, had never realized that the little candies are essentially caricatures of kernals of corn (sweet corn, maize, et cetera). Seriously? How can you never at least ask, “Why is it called ‘candy corn’?”

mystery-seed-104-2Okay, to be fair, I realize that there are people who go through life without ever seeing seed corn or feed corn. They may have seen corn on the cob and actually eaten it, but otherwise the only time they’ve seen corn is processed corn kernels cut-off the cob by a machine, then canned or frozen before being cooked and served. And those cut kernels don’t look like a full kernal of corn. It’s similar to the time when I was talking to someone about popcorn and discovered that they had never realized the the seed in popcorn were actual dried corn, the same plant (though a different cultivar or subspecies) as is canned and sold as corn. Or the time that I had to explain to someone what the phrase “seed corn” meant—they had never known that the vegetable they were eating were actually the seeds of the corn plant!

I don’t know what it is about candy corn that gets some people up in arms. I’m not saying that I don’t understand that some people like it and some don’t. What I don’t understand is why some people dislike it so much that they make other people feel defensive about liking candy corn.

I don’t happen to be one of the great fans of the candy. I don’t dislike it, but it doesn’t really do anything for me. When I was a kid, I liked the color and the shininess of the candy. It probably helped that it was a seasonal thing that was only available around Halloween time. But I would gladly let me sister eat nearly all of it herself and not feel that I was losing out. Yes, that means one of my sisters is one of those people who absolutely adore candy corn.

I sometimes take comfort in that fact that people can get militant about something like candy. Because when I read about things like this: Hate group (World Congress of Families) looks to criminalize gays on global scale my initial reaction is a combination of fear and depression. Then I realize that a lot of their supporters are just being as irrational as the folks who hate on candy corn. Which isn’t to say that none of this hatred is real: Dallas Police Seek Public’s Help In Solving String of Brutal Anti-Gay Attacks or Trans Woman Run Over With SUV In Possible Hate Crime Is 17th Murdered This Year or Study finds LGBT people not reporting hate crimes because they happen so frequently.

The kind of irrationality that makes people trash others over candy is part of the reason that folks either stand by silently while nutjobs at the World Conference of Families spout off their hate, or why people can look at death and rape threats hurled about by GamerGaters and make the ridiculous claims that there are two sides to the argument.

Hint: if a group is resorting to death threats, rape threats, doxing, and bomb threats, that isn’t an argument. It is a crime. That “side” is the perpetrator. Period. The other “side” are victims. Period. If you claim that it is a “side” then you are an accessory after the fact to a crime. Period.

And you’re being ridiculous and childish. As childish as someone getting angry at people over a candy preference.

And it’s so silly. It isn’t like we’re talking about something truly important.

Oppressed oppressors, part 3

CBbs1thUsAALYOrMat Staver is the head of the anti-gay Liberty Counsel, featured speaker at several Values Voter Summits over the years, a man who has gone to court many times defending laws that discriminate against gay people, and someone who as recently as June has testified to congress about why gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people shouldn’t be included in anti-discrimination law, and has many times on his radio show praised laws in places like Russia and Uganda that criminalize gay people and even talking about gay people. For example, last year he was on another radio show, ranting about those Christians who have said that gay rights and marriage equality are losing battles. “To assume that you can go against the created order is hubris, it’s arrogance, it’s dangerous and it is not something in which we can simply say, ‘the battle’s over, we need to figure out how to coexist.’ There is no coexistence.”

“There is no coexistence.” If he insists that his side can’t co-exist with us, that’s another way of saying either we have to cease to exist or he does, right? And I’m pretty sure he isn’t suggesting that all true believers (his side) should commit mass suicide.

When Staver says “there is no coexistence” that means he’s ultimately willing to kill. The reason Staver’s organization encourages things like Uganda’s kill-the-gays laws, and talks up the rhetoric of how dangerous we are to society is because he believes we should not be allowed to exist. Which means killing us. Or at least, scaring us with a credible enough threat of death that we all go back into the closet.

Just like the people who regularly go to Seattle’s old gayborhood (Police investigating weekend hate crimes on Capitol Hill) every weekend (‘Not one more’ — March strikes back at anti-queer violence on Capitol Hill), the aim isn’t to kill each and every queer person, it’s to scare the rest of us back into the closet. When rightwing Texas preacher Rick Scarborough announces that he’s willing to be burned to death to oppose gay marriage, he doesn’t mean that he’s going to set himself on fire; he wants to whip up fear and anger so that people who agree with him will do horrible things to some of us to frighten us into silence.

It’s the same tactics used by the hate leaders who radicalized Dylann Roof into shooting nine innocent people in a church in Charleston: making members of the majority believe that a historically oppressed minority somehow has all the power. Roof told the lone adult survivor of his shooting, “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and overrunning our country.” In a country where white police officers gun down unarmed black children in the street without facing murder charges, he believes that black people are the ones threatening the existence of white people.

Similarly, in a country where:

  • 1500 queer children are bullied into committing suicide every year,
  • where thousands of queer children are thrown out onto the streets by so-called Christian parents whose religious leaders have told them they have to show tough love,
  • where the authorities don’t investigate those parents for child neglect,
  • where the numbers of homicides of LGBT people have climbed to record highs,
  • where more than half of hate-motivated murder victims are trans people of color,
  • where state legislators are rushing to enact religious-belief based “right to discriminate” laws,
  • where in most states it is perfectly legal for employers to fire someone simply because they think the person might be gay (and where landlords can evict gay tenants or refuse to rent to them, et cetera),
  • where queer people are 2.4 times more likely to be victims of hate crimes than jews, and 2.6 times more likely to be victims of hate crimes than muslims,
  • where the number of hate crimes against all groups except lesbian, gays, trans, and bi people is going down while all categories of anti-queer hate crimes remain the some or are rising,
  • where the overwhelming majority of elected officials at the federal, state, and local level are Christian (far out of proportion to their percentage of the population),
  • where state and federal tax dollars are funneled into “faith-based” charity organizations that are often allowed to discriminate in how they administer those tax-funded activities,
  • where religious schools are often supported by tax dollars diverted from public schools,
  • where high school kids are threatened with expulsion for wearing “Gay OK” t-shirts to school after a bunch of Christian bullies beat a gay classmate (but the bullies weren’t punished),
  • where a public school teacher responding to an incident of anti-gay bullying read a book about acceptance to his class, then was forced to resign for “promoting homosexuality,”
  • where Christian organizations rally and raise money to combat anti-bullying policies unless said policies include exemptions that allow their kids to bully gay kids in the name of their faith,

…Christians are claiming that queers are persecuting them.

Seriously? Not being able to bully, discriminate against, and torment their gay neighbors is oppression?

Get them to the church on time

AlaMarriageThe New Yorker calls it “The Moment for Marriage in Alabama,” while the Religion News Service says, “[the] Handwriting [is] on the wall for gay marriage.”

And they’re both right, at least in the big picture sense. Though we must remember the proverbial warning about counting chicks before they’re hatched. It is clear which way the arc of history is going, but Alabama shows us yet another example of how smooth sailing isn’t in the immediate future—even though In 17 Words, Justice Clarence Thomas All But Declared Marriage Equality Inevitable.

Lots of people have drawn a parallel between the Alabama Chief Justice’s declaration that state officials don’t have to follow the federal court orders about marriage equality to George Wallace’s refusal to let schools integrate racially back in the 1950s. Enough people have drawn that parallel that now op-Ed prices are being written to claim that it isn’t merely “Alabama being Alabama.” According to those pundits, this is somehow not merely prejudice but a manifestation of a deeper-seeded conflict between local and state control versus federal control.

The only way you can make such a ridiculous argument is to be completely ignorant of the history of the struggle for racial equality. Because the argument that it wasn’t prejudice but rather a states’ right claim is exactly what Governor Wallace and the other opponents of segregation and the civil rights movement claimed at the time.

Alabama isn’t the only state where officials are fighting tooth-and-nail against equality for gay people, so in that sense it isn’t just Alabama being Alabama—but it is most definitely bigots being bigoted. If the opponents of LGBT rights were merely (and really) concerned with local control, they wouldn’t (at the same time as they’re making these states’ rights arguments) also be passing state laws to overturn individual cities’ gay rights ordinances.

So, the haters are gonna hate. They’re going to lie and defy. They’ll impede and interfere. But in the end they’re going to lose. Justice will triumph. Equality with reign. Love will prevail.

So, get those lesbian and gay couples to a church, chapel, or courthouse, and let love win the day! And then, let’s dance!

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here!)

Lies of the Devil Talkers

Pastor Manning is once again misquoting the Bible to bash gay people.

Pastor Manning is once again misquoting the Bible to bash gay people.

Let’s all heave a big sigh, because Pastor Manning and his church sign are at it again.

This week the sign says, “When the homos bullied the poor and needy in Sodom like they do in Harlem, Jesus fire and brim-stoned them,” and then cites three Biblical passages: Ezekial 16:48-50, Leviticus 20:13, and Genesis 19:24-? – the last one is cut off, as it doesn’t quite fit into the lit up part of the sign.

The first thing to note about these Bible verses is that all of them are in the Old Testament, where Jesus does not appear, as he hadn’t been born yet, and is not the person speaking. One could argue that it might not have been the intent of the Pastor to imply that Jesus is being quoted in those verses, but given the context of why this sign is saying this particular message now (which I will get to), that argument is wrong. So, the first lie in the sign is the notion that Jesus said anything about homosexuals at all. Jesus did not at any point at all in the Bible.

So, what do those verses actually say? Read More…

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