Tag Archive | wingnut

100 years ago today, World War I, aka The War to End All Wars ended…

…and the President of the United States couldn’t be bothered to attend a ceremony at a cemetery full of American soldiers who died in that war because it was raining. The asshole flew all the way to Paris for the historic anniversary, but couldn’t leave his friggin’ room to go to a cemetery owned and maintained by the U.S. government where thousands of U.S. troops are burried!?! Trump Skips Visit To American Military Cemetery. And Justin Trudeau Shades Trump For Skipping WWI US Cemetary Visit Due To Rain

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,”
—David Frum, former speechwriter to President George W. Bush

Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser for strategic communications under President Barack Obama, said the excuse about the inclement weather did not stand up. “I helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is always a rain option. Always.”

“As we sit here in the rain, thinking how uncomfortable we must be these minutes as our suits get wet and our hair gets wet and our shoes get wet, I think it’s all the more fitting that we remember on that day, in Dieppe, the rain wasn’t rain, it was bullets.”
—Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”
—Nicholas Soames, a British member of parliament who is a grandson of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill

But enough of that. This beautiful story, written last Memorial Day, tells about that American war cemetery in France, along with the program that paid for mothers and widows of the slain to travel there to pay their last respects in the years following the war: In an American Cemetery in France: Thoughts on Memorial Day.

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Weekend Update 9/8/2018: Clap louder…

© 2012 Russ Heath


I forgot that I had meant to post this image with yesterday’s Friday Five to go along with Russ Heath’s obituary. Here’s an even better tribute (with many examples of his comics art) than the one I linked to yesterday: Russ Heath (29 September 1926 – 23 August 2018, USA).


In other news…

There was a video clip circulating around the web of a young man in a plaid shirt being removed from the crowd at Trump’s rally, with various comments along the lines of, “if you don’t clap loud enough, Dear Leader has you taken care of.” Well, it appears that the true isn’t that far off: Meet The Trump Rally’s “Plaid Shirt Guy”. Turns he was a Billings High School student that had applied for tickets to the rally. He insists he wasn’t trying to make fun of the rally. But as the story notes, reporters saw staffers looking at pictures of the teens (who weren’t clapping very often) visible behind the Cadet Bonespur. They were pulled out of the crowd by staffers, taken to a back room where police checked their ID, and eventually escorted them out of the building.

I want to repeat that: police escorted three high school students out of the building because they weren’t clapping as enthusiastically as others in the crowd.

In their interviews, the kids insist they didn’t feel mistreated. I’m sorry, but being escorted out of a public event by police because you have a puzzled expression on your face in the video feed behind the president is mistreatment.

Also, I note that one of the teens says in the interview that as everyone was seated, they were all instructed that they needed to clap often and enthusiastically, and make sure that they smile a lot.

Wow. Just, wow.

Offended offenders — the joke is on who, exactly?

“When art becomes merely shock value, our sense of humanity is slowly degraded.” — Roger Scruton

“When art becomes merely shock value, our sense of humanity is slowly degraded.” — Roger Scruton

We hear it all the time: “How dare you call me racist! I don’t hate anyone! I was just making an observation.” And there’s: “It is so rude of you to call me a homophobe! I’m just advocating for my beliefs {that queer people don’t deserve legal rights/to exist openly in public spaces if at all}. You’re the real haters!” Let’s not forget: “Can’t you take a joke? You’re trying to silence me!”

People behave like jerks, make threatening remarks, harass people, advocate for policies and propositions that will cause actual harm to others, and then get angry if other people take offense. They try to hide behind the idea of free speech—they’re just expressing themselves, and everyone has a right to do that, right? But the defense is built on one or more false equivalencies. The most basic is equating disagreement with censorship. If you say that all Freedonians are criminals, and I point out that isn’t true, and show the statistics to prove it, you haven’t been silenced. If other people decide the don’t want to listen to your rants about the evils of the Freedonians anymore, they stop inviting you to their social events and if you show up uninvited they ask you to leave, that also isn’t silencing you. The right to express an opinion doesn’t obligate other people to listen. Then there’s the false equivalence that accurately describing some of their statements as bigoted is just as bad as the bigotry we’re decrying. And so on.

But the defense that really annoys me is the, “But I’m only joking!”

I have several responses to that. The first is: every bully and abuser who ever lived has tried to claim that they were only joking, or they were just playing around. They didn’t meant to cause those bruises or broken bones or to break that laptop or whatever. It’s a lie. Maybe the bully and the bully’s audience were laughing, but real harm is being done.

The second response is: the fact that you think a particular topic is suitable for joking demonstrates the ignobility of your intentions. They only way that one can think the sexual assault is a joking matter is if they either don’t think the sexual assault is a bad thing, or if they think the victims of sexual assault are worth less than other people. There are topics that go beyond the pale, understanding that requires moral fiber and empathy. Not knowing that tells us you possess neither.

The third response is that doing something like “ironically” pretending to believe neo-Nazi ideology is indistinguishable from actually doing it. In other words, if you’re pretending to be an asshole, it doesn’t sound or feel any different to your targets than when a “real” asshole behaves that way. It also has a very scary normalizing effect. The more people feel it is acceptable to express racial bias, for instance, the more likely some of them are to act on the racial bias.

And my fourth response is that jokes are supposed to be funny. Calling entire classes of people inferior, saying they are a waste of space and so on isn’t funny. The objection that is usually raised around this point is that they are just trying to make people think, and they have to shock people out of their complacency to do that. I’ll agree that good political humor pokes at us to get us to think outside the box, but these guys aren’t quite getting it.

“Have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac?” “Electricity is really just organized lightning.” “Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” “At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom.” “'I am' is reportedly the shortest sentence in English. Could it be that 'I Do' is the longest sentence?”

Several classic George Carlin one liners. (Click to embiggen)

Let’s look for a moment at the work of a comedian who was often characterized as offensive. The Late George Carlin said things that shocked some people’s sensibilities. Go listen (many recordings abound) to his notorious “Seven words you can’t say on TV or the radio” routine and tell me that wouldn’t give people in the Religious Right conniptions. And sure, you can pull out individual lines from his routines and make him sound almost like some of this current generation of jerks with their racist or homophobic or misogynist rants on their Youtube channel. But that’s taking him out of context. Look over the classic Carlin corpus (excluding the last few years where he seemed to turn into a prophet of doom and things got a little weird) and you’ll find the most prevalent underlying theme is summed up in one of his best one-liners:

“Have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac?”

While the line works great on its own, it was actually the introduction to a longer bit, where he went on to make humorous observations about foolish and dangerous and weird things that people do while driving. It ranged around for a bit, and the audience laughed. You could certainly characterize the routine as making fun of bad drivers. And that doesn’t seem all that different from someone else having a comedy routine where they make fun of women, or immigrants, or queer people, right? But that’s not what the routine does. Every version of it I ever heard him perform varied a bit, but all stuck to one underlying theme. And it’s in that line I quote. That line isn’t just a joke, it’s a thesis statement.

Read it again: “Have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac?” Explicitly it says that we classify and judge people in categories like stupid and maniac by extremely subjective criteria. But implicitly it is also saying that sometimes all of us are idiots, and sometimes all of us are maniacs. Because implicitly everyone that we observe is an idiot for driving too slow, knows they we are maniacs. And every person that we can see is a maniac for driving too fast, can observe that we’re driving slow and therefore we are idiots.

Yes, the point of his routines is that some people do very foolish things and isn’t it ridiculous that such people exist? But by the time he has covered the subject, there is a point where he says something that hits close to home. We, the listeners, see ourselves in some part of that routine. In that way, his routines adhere to the classic definition of political humor: to hold a mirror up to society.

That is humor with a purpose. That is how you jostle people out of their complacency. You hold up a mirror, so that we look into it and see our own foibles and flaws. But what these other guys are doing? They aren’t working with mirrors. No, they are putting targets on other people, aiming their fans at those targets, and encouraging the fans to pull their triggers.

That is why the rest of us don’t listen to their rants. We disinvite them from our events. We tell them that their behavior is not welcome at our conventions or on our forums and so forth. That isn’t censorship, that is making a choice of who we will associate with. It’s deciding that we don’t need jerks and abusers in our lives.

The long, lonely death spiral of the anti-gay defenders of “traditional” marriage

“I mean clearly straight people are trying to convert gay kids to be straight, not the other way around. No one tells straight kids they're just confused or wrong or evil for how they feel when they fall in love.”

“I mean clearly straight people are trying to convert gay kids to be straight, not the other way around. No one tells straight kids they’re just confused or wrong or evil for how they feel when they fall in love.” (Click to embiggen)

So the so-called National Organization for Marriage hosted an event in Washington, DC that was supposed to be a March for Marriage (as a protest against Marriage Equality), and the attendance was even worse than last year: March For Marriage Draws Tens, But Promises Ultimate Victory Over Obergefell. The article I linked mentioned how previously the crowd was bolstered by people bused in. What they don’t say is that several of the busloads brought in last year were under false pretenses: a New York State legislator put out fliers in Spanish in community centers advertising a free trip to DC to see the monuments, so there were about a hundred people—mostly older ladies who didn’t speak much English—standing around looking confused at the edge of a small crowd, during the speeches, then they all wandered off to look at monuments on their own while an even smaller group of people marched to support traditional marriage. Oh, and they literally let a visiting French politician who was the leader of the French Nazi Party (I am not making this up) not only give one of the speeches, but she led the march!

None of the groups who previously organized bus trips did so this year. And the crowd, as the headline says, was tiny. One non-attendee who sort of live tweeted the event said that she counted the entire crowd: “47 if you include the babies.” The speeches were the typical anti-gay fare: how letting queers marry is destroying society, et cetera, et cetera. Then the not-quite four dozen people apparently marched down the street and glared at the Supreme Court building.

The downward spiral of this particular anti-gay hate group has been going on for years. I’ve written before about their tax and fundraising shenanigans. The tl;dr version: small donors stopped giving to them several years ago, so they are supported by a very small number of anti-gay millionaires (most of whom demand anonymity), and have had to resort to taking multi-million dollar loans from their associates religious “charity and education” non-profit to shore up the political side. They’ve skipped filing required tax documents since then (again), but I suspect when they are finally forced to disclose again the situation will turn out to be even worse.

I should mention that in the previous years some of those buses who brought people to the march were paid for by NOM. The story I linked says “groups,” but that’s another bit of chicanery. Most of the other non-profit groups that they used to like to list as supporting them were little more than shell companies of the main National Organization. People who were board members of NOM were each listed as the president of one of the smaller groups, and the individual groups didn’t do any serious fundraising, they were supported by the national organization (in turn relying on those aforementioned anti-gay millionaires). You may infer what you wish from the fact that most of those organizations have been dissolved and there were no buses bringing folks to the march. Can’t pay for buses without money, right?

I assume that if there is another event next year, that it will soon look like the pathetic ex-gay pride event four years ago: literally the only attendees were nine employees of the organization trying to sell ex-gay therapy, and about four internet news people covering the so-called rally. Note by that point, even Fox News was unwilling to send someone to cover the event.

While it’s tempting to take some delight in the downfall of some professional anti-gay people (seriously, peddling anti-gay hate is how people like Brian Brown make a living), this hardly means that no one hates us anymore, or that there aren’t plenty of anti-gay groups out there supporting politicians who are passing laws to take away our rights. All it means is that on the topic of marriage equality we long ago passed the tipping point where a majority of Americans think queer people should be allowed to legally marry if they want. And it means that before then we also got to a point where a majority of people believe sexual orientation can’t be changed.

But there are some nuances. Polls have shown that about 10 percent of the people who think marriage equality should be legal, also still believe that queer people are either immoral, or mentally ill, or some other category of “less than” —they don’t approve of us, they don’t approve of our relationships, but they don’t think their objections rise to the level of justifying legal prohibition.
There is a more disturbing segment (but I haven’t been able to find any surveys that have asked the right question to quantify these folks; I’ve just read a lot of their opinions in various places) of people who agree that sexual orientation can’t be changed, and therefore ex-gay therapy is a fraud, but they also believe that we are irretrievably broken, or otherwise inherently flawed. So again, it’s not that they approve of us or support all our rights, it’s that they’ve come to the conclusion that therapy can’t fix us.

The war isn’t over, it’s just that the battle lines have changed. We may have won the battle for legal marriage, and the battle against ex-gay therapy, but there’s still plenty of fight to be had.

Confessions of an unrepentant rationalist

“This pretty much sums up everyone's feelings about ignorant hate.”

“This pretty much sums up everyone’s feelings about ignorant hate.” (Click to embiggen)

Bryan Fischer hosts a show on the American Family Association’s (a certified hate group) radio network, and is frequently referred to as a former AFA employee (though all that really happened was that his official title of Director of Issues Analysis was revoked after he made some ridiculous comments about the Jewish religion being counterfeit—literally the day before 100 members of the Republican National Committee were being flown to Isreal at the expense of the AFA; Fischer still receives a salary from them, so the firing was a sham). Fischer made some new ridiculous comments this weekend. In a tweet he claimed that gays have stolen the rainbow from god, the original inventor of the rainbow, and that we should give it back.

Fischer is described over on Rational Wiki as someone who “makes even the most cuckoo-bananas conservative talk radio pundits seem sane and reasonable in comparison.” He’s always going on about gay people (and how gays and nazis are the same thing) and gay sex (and how hyper masculine aggressive gay sex is destroying everything). Besides making him sound like a kook, it also proves that he thinks about gay sex a whole lot more than most gay people do. Hmmmm, where have we seen that phenomenon before?

Screenshot of Fischer’s tweet, in case he wises up and deletes it: “Worst example of cultural appropriation ever: LGBTs stole the rainbow from God. It’s his. He invented it. Gen. 9:11-17. Give it back.”

There are so many things wrong with this assertion that it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, he quotes from the end of the story of Noah in the old testament to justify his claim that queers have stolen god’s invention. I’m going to quote a bit of that: “13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” That’s god talking to Noah, and please note what god himself says: the rainbow is a sign of a covenant between god and the entire planet. A moment later he emphasizes that it is a sign of a covenant between him and all living creatures of every kind. Gay people are part of the planet. Gay people are a kind of living creature.

So, if you believe (as Fischer frequently claims to) that the bible is the inerrant word of god and literally true in every word, well, that means that queers have just as much a claim on the rainbow as any inhabitant of the earth or god himself. I’m just quoting god from Fischer’s holy book, here!

Lots of people had fun with Fischer’s tweet. Part of what cracked me up about it is that this is one of the sections of the Bible that got me in trouble when I was a kid, because I kept having questions that my Sunday School teachers and other church leaders couldn’t answer. Such as, how did all of the land species that live only in Australia get to Noah’s boat? Seriously, did a bunch of kangaroos and koalas and so forth build a mini ark and cross the ocean to get to the Arabian Pennisula? And if they did have a way to survive crosses the Pacific and Indian Oceans, why did they need to get on Noah’s ark to begin with? How did they get to Noah’s ark? And how big was this ark, really, because just assembling every species of, say, feline is going to require a very big boat. And then how are you going to keep all those big cats away from the pairs of the 20+ species of deer?

But let’s get back to the rainbow. The sorts of Christians who insist that every word in the Bible is literally true absolutely despise the notion of evolution. And one of their favorite arguments against evolution back when I was a kid, was to look at the complexity of the eyeball: you have the lens and receptors and tiny muscles to adjust the lens in order to change focus and so on and so on, and just a beautiful perfect organ for focusing and interpreting light could not possible have evolved by chance! Seriously, they think that’s an argument the undoes all of science. Anyway, when making this argument they get very insistent that god design the eyeballs of humans (and every other species on the planet that sees the way we do) and they have all had them since god created the world in a famous six-day run, right? Here’s the problem: the very same laws of physics that allow that lens in the front of those perfectly designed eyeballs to focus images on the retina? They are also what make rainbows appear when there is sunlight shining through an atmosphere littered with tiny water droplets. If god didn’t tweak the laws of physics to allow rainbows to appear in the clouds until after Noah’s flood, then none of the characters in the Bible who lived before Noah could have had the power of sight. They would have all had these perfect organs for seeing in their heads that didn’t work at all.

And they had to be able to see because sight is mentioned in several of the Bible stories before Noah. Also, god is supposed to have created humans in his image and we still are supposed to be in his image (Jesus affirmed that in the same story in which he endorsed paying your taxes), so that means we’ve always had these eyeballs, which were apparently useless appendages until after Noah’s flood.

And I’ve completely skipped over the parts of this story in which god admits he’s very forgetful and prone to rash, unwise decisions. He says he put the rainbow in the sky to remind him from time to time that he’s promised never again to destroy the world with a flood. So god needs to leave himself post-its, “Don’t commit mass genocide.” And the whole flood story begins with god realizing that he should have never created humans to begin with, because all of them are dirty rotten scoundrels. Then god reconsiders and decides that maybe Noah, his sons, and his daughters-in-law might be worth keeping around. But only them! Everyone else has got to go! And how does this supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing, wise and loving god decides to get rid of the scoundrels? Does he unleash a plague that would only infect humans, so that all of them die off and leave the planet to the birds and animals and plants? No, he takes out the dirty rotten people by wiping out every living thing on the surface of the earth. Wipe out billions of innocent mice and puppies and so forth to get rid of a few thousand or maybe millions of humans. That sounds like a plan that a smart omnipotent being would cook up, right?

When I brought up these inconsistencies as a kid, the adults would usually try to handwave about god’s plan, and us poor mortals not understanding. As I entered my teens and got better about pointing out the problems with that, they would talk about symbolism and poetic language. Which of course completely contradicts the notion that ever word is literally true. Then I would usually be admonished for being obstinate and willfully difficult and wasting time on trivial technical questions.

But complaining about who gets to use the rainbow as a symbol of hope isn’t wasting time being obstinate over trivial things?

Queers aren’t the first people to latch onto the rainbow as a symbol of diversity, freedom, resistance to oppression, and so on. There are several reasons for this. Just because the International Cooperative Movement (since 1921), or the Peace Movement (since 1961), or the Rainbow Coalition (since the mid-sixties), or the LGBT community (since 1978) and so on use the rainbow as symbols doesn’t do anything to the rainbows that appear in the sky after a storm. Those rainbows that god talked about in the book of Genesis are still there. We haven’t taken them away. According to Fischer’s religion’s own holy book, the rainbow is given as a symbol to every living creature on the earth. It even literally says “every kind” of creature. If you think you have the right to tell any of us that the rainbow isn’t ours, well, then you just don’t understand the real meaning of rainbows or love or dreams…


Muppet Movie – The Rainbow Connection:

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

Devils in very poor disguises

Pastor Manning's church sign in the news again: “Tribulation Trump is one nasty cracker possibly having sex with Ivanka.”

Pastor Manning’s church sign in the news again: “Tribulation Trump is one nasty cracker possibly having sex with Ivanka.”

It’s been a while since I’ve written about James David Manning, the “pastor” of the infamous Harlem hate church with the notorious hateful church sign. The church is currently in default of taxes, water, and sewage bills far in excess of a million dollars and fighting a losing battle over those fees and a bunch of zoning violations to have its building seized. Manning made the news briefly last year when he endorsed Trump for president, and his church sign claimed that Jesus would endorse Donald, as well. A while later, he withdrew the endorsement, because Donald indicated that the murderer who perpetrated the mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub, Pulse, was a bad person. Can’t condemn the murders of queer people and still be a christian, now, can one?

“Jesus would endorse Donald Trump,” Manning's sign proclaimed last sprint. “Vote Trump make Harlem beautiful again.”

“Jesus would endorse Donald Trump,” Manning’s sign proclaimed last spring. “Vote Trump make Harlem beautiful again.”

Then, he seemed to flip back to endorsing Donald when he took some of the candidate’s statements to indicate it would be legal for christians to shoot Mexicans, muslims, and liberals.

It boggles my mind that someone can claim to be a follower of Jesus while spewing such hate. I mean, seriously, being overjoyed at murder? Looking forward to committing murder with impunity yourself?

What boggles even more is that people who claim to believe in the man who said “love thy neighbor as you love thyself” will follow these hatemongers and proclaim them great faith leaders.

We have people like Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio saying things like ‘The Real Brownshirts Are In The Homosexual Movement’. That’s pretty rich coming from a guy who was removed from one of this jobs at the American Family Association because his anti-semitic and anti-muslim comments raised a bit of an uproar too close to a Republican fundraising event in 2015.

Then there’s Scott Lively Scott Lively: Trump Must Ban Gays From Intelligence Agencies Because They’re Conspiring Against Him. Lively is currently involved in a lawsuit for crimes against humanity (I kid you not), because he gave encouragement and material assistance to get Uganda to pass kill-the-gay laws. And that’s some of the least insane evil stuff he’s been involved in. But he’s the president of Abiding Truth Ministries, so he is, of course, hailed as a Christian leader.

“The bible condemns Trump’s acceptance of sodomy and I withdraw my support. Sodomy is more dangerous than jihadis.”

“The bible condemns Trump’s acceptance of sodomy and I withdraw my support. Sodomy is more dangerous than jihadis.”

I’m not sure what has prompted Manning to turn on Trump again this week. There’s probably a new sermon up on his youtube channel explaining it, but I can’t deal with listening to any more of his hate and craziness. I have to admit that I kind of like the nickname “Tribulation Trump” for Donald. But I’m sure that Manning will flip-flop back to loving Donald again, he just needs to do something hateful enough that Manning recognizes him as a fellow devil, again.

There are even more poorly disguised devils in the news, of course. Yesterday a lot of people, particularly right-leaning news and blogging folks, were being shocked, shocked to learn that Milo Yiannopoulos has argued in favor of adults having sexual relationship with underage teen-agers. He has specifically insisted that this is not only good, but tried to claim that it is normal in the homosexual community. All of which is BS, but really shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. It’s not as if he hasn’t said this sort of thing many times before. Nor is it at all inconsistent with his other attitudes.

So let’s unpack that a little. In the past, Milo has espoused a lot of undeniably racist opinions. He has orchestrated harassment campaigns against women, particularly women of color. He has encouraged violence against trans people. He has excused actual calls for genocide from some of his neo-nazi friends. He has advocated so-called “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” He has previously made sexual references to teen age boys. But it is only when he has specifically advocated for adult men having sexual relationships with 13-year-old boys that the Republican party, the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference, his fellow writers & editors at Breitbart, Bill Maher, and Simon & Schuster are objecting? In other words, all of those people and institutions are okay with racism, misogyny, transphobia, hate crimes, and genocide.

Let me repeat that: the Republican party, conservatives who organize CPAC, Breitbart writers & editors, Bill Maher, and the publishing house of Simon & Schuster don’t just turn a blind eye, they happily endorsed racism, misogyny, transphobia, hate crimes, and genocide. When people show you who they are you should believe them.

Also, it seems a lot of people are easily fooled by someone who says outrageous things when those outrageous things are attacks on people they dislike.

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.

Fire Retardant Malfunction will be my queercore cover band name

@AnnRubinKTVU  captured this picture of cyclist Blake Harrington who rode through the 10 foot deep foam mass before police blocked the area off.

@AnnRubinKTVU captured this picture of cyclist Blake Harrington who rode through the 10 foot deep foam mass before police blocked the area off.

I had planned something else for my next post, but then this news story crossed my twitter feed Friday afternoon: A Mysterious Giant Foam Blob Is Taking Over A City.

My friend, Jared, took issue with the headline for being overly clickbaity. The foam mass wasn’t mysterious by the time the reporter got there: it was leaking fire retardant foam from a nearly airport (Chemical foam spills from hangar at airport). It’s non-toxic, and will eventually fade away, but for a little while part of the city of Santa Clara, California was buried under a blob of foam.

And you thought 2016 couldn’t get any weirder!

In much less funny news (though there is some gallows humor to be found), Trumpkins are all het up because Vice President-elect Pence was booed on Broadway last night after a cast member addressed him during the curtain call. Given Pence’s virulent anti-gay actions in past political office, and his emphatic assertions since the election that he and Trump are going to undo as much gay civil rights as they can, and the lead actor of the play Pence went to is an openly-gay man, being booed is the kindest thing that could have happened, IMHO. Then, when a Trump surrogate complained about the disrespect and asserted that Pence loves gay people, CNN host Don Lemon wasn’t having it: WATCH: Don Lemon shoots down Kayleigh McEnany’s whining about ‘elites’ booing Pence at ‘Hamilton’.

Oh, and the statement from the cast member which has Trump and his followers rage-tweeting? Not disrespectful by any means:

Thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of ALL of us. Thank you.

Some Trumpkins are calling for a boycott of the musical Hamilton, which is going to be quite a trick, given that the show (with some tickets as high as $1000) is currently sold out through next January…

But then, Trump supporters don’t seem to understand how boycotts work at all: Trump Fans “Punish” Starbucks For Anti-White Discrimination By Buying More Coffee. Because of Starbucks’ corporate policies supporting various civil rights issues, the company has long been a target of anger and vitriol form the rightwing. However, this week after avideo of a really angry white customer losing his sh*t (attacking and threatening the baristas and the other customers because his coffee took too long—which he blamed anti-white “discrimination”) went viral, Trump supports have been going into Starbucks, ordering and paying for expensive drinks, and telling the baristas that their name is Trump, so that Trump’s name will be written on the cup. They then take pictures of the cups and post them to social media.

Wow, that’ll teach ’em… something?

Getting indicted, still faking it (badly), & other weekend updates

Congressman Schock has a great anti-gay voting record, but posts pictures of himself to Instagram like this, has never married, and has lived with a string of similar male "roommates" for over a decade.

Ex-Congressman Schock was raised Southern Baptist in a rural community, had a consistent anti-gay voting record, but posted pictures of himself to Instagram like these, has never married, and has lived with a string of young athletic male “roommates” for over a decade.

I’ve written a few times before about the poorly-closeted former Congressman Aaron Schock. He’s in the news again this week, but you may have missed it among all the other crap: Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock indicted on 24 criminal counts and Schock accused of vast criminal misconduct: ex-congressman used his office like a personal money-making operation.

When I say poorly-closeted I’m not just referring to his interesting fashion choices. There have been a series of hunky young unmarried male roommates. Once a reporter caught him and one of said roommates showering together in their condo when the reporter arrived for a scheduled interview. The fact that for a long time the accounts he followed on Instagram were all out gay models and athletes who frequently posted barely dressed pictures of themselves (which he unfollowed en masse when the shared shower story brought a bunch of attention to him).

Totally normal to have your photographer (far right) pose with you in all the official photos rather than actually operating a camera. Even if the taxpayer is picking up the photographer's tab, right?

Totally normal to have your photographer (far right) pose with you in all the official photos rather than actually operating a camera. Even if the taxpayer is picking up the photographer’s tab, right?

And let’s not forget one of the last congressional junkets he took, where a hunky roommate (not the chief of staff roommate mentioned in the story above–they shared a home in D.C., this roommate lived in the uber-expensive house the congressman owned back in Illinois) accompanied the congressmen listed as a “campaign photographer,” yet he attended all of the social events and stood next to the congressmen in all of the photo ops while the other congressmen in the same photos are standing next to their wives. And the many times he was spotted in gay bars or other gay events, such as this one two weeks ago: The Stylish Aaron Schock Wore A Vest To This Big Gay Halloween Party.

I mention all of this because while he was in Congress, in addition to all of the shady financial shenanigans, he had a perfect anti-gay voting record, and gave more than one passionate speech arguing that people should have the right to fire an employee or refuse to rent an apartment to someone that they simply suspected might be gay.

At this point, I almost expect him to come out, then claim that all this stuff is either because of the mental stress of being closeted, or the work of people trying to blackmail him. The day after the indictment he had a major whining session telling reporters it’s a travesty that the FBI is making a criminal mountain out of a “molehill” of small errors. Right. Getting someone to set up a fake business’s bank account, making your constituents pay over $7000 into the fake account, billing the tax payers for the travel the constituents thought they were paying for themselves, and then withdrawing the money is a molehill. Never mind $140,000 in false mileage claims, a $5,000 chandelier for your office, and… and… and…

I guess he’s just a douche.

Speaking of horrible people, Maricopa County voters oust Sheriff Joe Arpaio, elect Paul Penzone. Arpaio is a notorious Sheriff who his county kept re-electing despite (or maybe because) of his awful racist policies, statements, and actions. But the more taxpayer money that went to paying his legal fees, and finally criminal contempt of court charges seem to have driven away most of his supporters.

Babeu and his ex on the right. One of Babeu's pictures he posted along with his ads seeking sex with other men on a local gay chat server.

Babeu and his ex on the right. One of Babeu’s pictures he posted along with his ads seeking sex with other men on a local gay chat server.

Don’t confuse Arpaio with another notorious Arizona Sheriff who lost an election this week: Democrat Tom O’Halleran beats Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu mum on plans after leaving office. Babeu was not running for re-election as Sheriff, instead he was running for Congress. This is his second attempt to run for Congress. In 2012 he ran on a virulent anti-immigrant/family values platform, which was derailed when one of his gay ex-lovers came forward–the ex was an undocumented immigrant, who said Babeu knew it at the time, and that when he broke up with Babeu, Babeu had threatened to have him deported if he ever told anyone about the relationship. Babeu denied all the allegations for a while… then as other exes (all Hispanic; what is it with racists wanting to f– the people they hate?) came forward (and the state’s Solicitor General started investigating), he came out as gay, but denied that he had known his ex was undocumented, not had he ever threatened him.

The ex claimed to have incriminating emails and text messages. The public got so see some pretty incriminating excerpts from the text messages and emails. The Solicitor General eventually announced that he had exonerated Babeu of all criminal wrongdoing, but also said they there would be no charges of filing a false report pursued against the ex, which leads most observers to conclude that exonerated is a strong word. In any case, Babeu lost in 2012, and he lost again this week.

So at least a few elections went the way they ought.


Update: It’s December 13th, and the last couple of days this month-old current events post is getting a lot of hits. I assume it’s because yesterday Totally Not-Gay Former GOP Rep. Aaron Schock Pleads Not Guilty to Funds Misuse. Anyway, there’s now a follow up post you might find amusing: Totally not-Gay Aaron Schock in the news again.

Update 2: Just before April Fool’s Day there was another spike of hits on this post, which I assume was because Schock’s attorney was trying to get some evidence thrown out on rather dubious grounds that week. That story and a similar news story the same week led me to write: Weekend Update 4/1/2017: No need for jokes while we have these clowns in the news. Then an insulting anonymous comment led to a follow-up: More adventures in straightsplaining—bless your heart.

Update 3: And in August this post started getting lots of hits because ex-Congressman Shock’s attorneys asked for all the embezzling and related charges to be thrown out because investigators asked some witnesses whether Shock was gay. That is a completely bogus reason to throw out charges, particularly since one of those charges is related to taxpayer-funded travel expenses for a so-called staff member who never seemed to do legitimate staff work but instead behaved like the congressman’s boyfriend or spouse, prompting me to write: Self-loathing closet cases who bilk taxpayers to lavish international trips on their boy toys must be outed. It also led me to this very interesting article: Court docs reveal Aaron Schock’s aides urged him to stop acting so ‘gay’.

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.

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