Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do Ask, Do Tell, Do Pursue Equality

Since the hearing on Capitol Hill to begin the process of potentially repealing the "DADT" (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) Policy, I've been looking at this policy and a few other military polices that have evolved during the last century and what I've found is interesting.

First, the current policy, commonly referred to as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", is not particularly well understood. Prior to Clinton's desire to change the military's policy of rejecting Gays & Lesbians from entering the military, that's all it was, a "policy". Clinton's well intended actions actually caused congress to pass a law encoding that Gays and Lesbians cannot serve in the military. The only thing Clinton "won" was the policy of not asking a military service member about their sexual orientation, and encouraging Gay & Lesbian military service members to lie about their sexual orientation. Presumably, prior to 1993, it was more difficult for the military to discharge a service member due to their being Gay or Lesbian than it was afterward, because now they had the rule of law on their side that necessitated the service member be given a dishonorable discharge. (Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C.)

In July of 1948, President Truman issued an executive order commanding the military branches to integrate blacks and provide equal treatment and opportunity. This was very unpopular at the time. Conservatives claimed "...that integration would impair military efficiency and damage the morale of American troops."

Today, many conservatives claim that allowing Gays and Lesbians to serve openly in the military "...would undermine unit cohesion, discipline, and combat effectiveness." 

To me those are different words that say essentially the same thing. Can you imagine any politician today suggesting that the US Armed Forces should segregate it's troops on the basis of race, because doing so would make the military more efficient and give soldiers higher morale?

Change is often difficult and scary; that is understood. It has been more than 60 years since the US Military was ordered to desegregate it's troops, and I think it can be argued that race still plays a role in a service members career. Women have been able to join military service (in non-combat positions), but opportunities for women in the military were broadened after the 1996 case "United States v Virginia" that opened the Virginia Military Institute to female students. Now fourteen years later, the incidence of rape and other crimes against female military personnel are embarrassingly common, however that does not mean I think it was a mistake, or that women should not be allowed to serve in the military.

I wouldn't expect that if the DADT policy were rescinded, and the law referenced above were to change such that Gay & Lesbian service members were granted equal treatment and equal opportunity, that suddenly everyone would change and current  ignorance and prejudice would not cause problems. I'm certain that Gay & Lesbian service members will in some circumstances face backlash after "coming out". I'm certain that there will be Gay & Lesbian service members who will be attracted to some other same sex service members, and will even make passes. I'm also certain that there will be, have been, and are some Gay & Lesbian service members who have exemplary and distinguished careers. Some have even been awarded medals and are considered heroes.

Change may be difficult and scary, but when the change is from injustice to justice, the time is always now, and the end result is always preferable.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Religious right's persecution of homosexuals

Preface: The purpose of this post is to put forth a theory of mine about why there is such intense vilification of homosexuals by Christian fundamentalists. I hope that by putting these ideas "out there" that there might be some increased level of understanding between the two groups of people. In putting this post together, I have thought a lot about this issue, and there is a lot more that could be said on the topic, so this is not the "only" explanation, but only one possible aspect of why religious fundamentalists work to persecute homosexuals.

This post uses the word "sin" quite a bit when referring to homosexuality. Please note: I do not believe that being homosexual or that homosexual behavior is intrinsically sinful, however many fundamentalists do believe that, and I am trying to understand and illustrate their thought processes. 

"But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1Cor.6:11). This is one of several quotes from the Bible that talks about how faith in Jesus Christ causes one to be "sanctified". Many Christian fundamentalists, especially the "born again" variety, credit their religious faith with turning their lives away from sin. Although most people accept that humanity is "fallen" and therefore is not able to live life free from sin, there are some that take the above quoted passage (and other similar biblical passages) to mean that the faith they have in Jesus Christ protects them from the propensity towards sin. However, the faithful are still human, and they are not perfect, and so  some aspect of their lives, their character, their personalities will contain some propensity towards "sin". I believe that many fundamentalists unconsciously repress recognition of their own sinfulness, in order to rectify  their faith in the promised sanctification that their religion professes. I also believe that this repression causes them to magnify their judgment of the sins of others. I believe it's especially easy for them to be more judgmental of the sins of others that they do not have personal experience with. 

Because being "born again", or otherwise a Christian with fundamentalist beliefs necessitates that you conform to certain standards and practices of behavior (e.g. professing your faith, preaching the gospel, attending worship services, etc.) people who are successful at maintaining fundamentalist beliefs are generally heterosexual (or else VERY repressed bisexual or homosexual people - for the purposes of this discusssion, lets limit ourselves to the heterosexual fundamentalists). When most heterosexuals imagine (or try to imagine) having sexual relations with someone of the same sex, they find that thought abhorrent (just as most homosexuals react when imagining having opposite sex relations). That, coupled with the fact that no one in their like minded fundamentalist peer groups is homosexual, makes it easy for that perceived "sin" to be hated.
Although extramarital heterosexual relations, and divorce are also "sins", they are all too common even within religious circles - so one would risk offending members of their peer groups if one were to persecute those perceived to have committed those sins, however, since homosexuals are "other", and "separate", and almost uniformly non-believers (at least with respect to fundamentalism), it is safe to be openly judgmental about the sin of homosexuality. 

The biblical promise of salvation and sanctification contributes to the Christian fundamentalist attitude of being "set apart" from the rest of "worldly" humanity. This often leads to a certain amount of pride and arrogance on the part of the fundamentalist, especially those who are active in fundamentalist circles. That pride, that "holier than thou" attitude, coupled with the certainty that their bible calls homosexuality an "abomination" 1 allows the fundamentalist a free pass to persecute people who engage in homosexual behavior.

Religious fundamentalists are still fallen human beings who are sinners, in spite of the sanctification that living their faith provides. Denial and repression of their own failings causes internal conflicts that need to be expressed. One way to deal with that internal conflict is to magnify the judgment of the sins of others for which they and almost all other people in their fundamentalist circles are innocent. It will be very difficult to "bridge this gap" since there is very little overlap between groups of fundamentalists and groups of open and proud GLBT people.

1 I am not going to address my belief that the fundamentalist's bible is wrongly using the word "homosexuality" when calling it and other behaviors "abominations". The important thing in the context of this post is that fundamentalists believe that their bible says what they think it says.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Religionistas - The New Negroes?

I felt the need to respond to Kenneth Hutcherson's article from December 10 titled "Christians are the new Negro" published on the "WorldNetDaily" site.  In the piece, Mr. Hutcherson argues that because of "hate crime laws" and "repeated attacks by the politically correct crowd", his freedom of religion is being eroded. 

He never explicitly states what exactly he is no longer free to do because of these hate crimes laws, but one must assume that he considers violence against people because of their religion, sexual preference, or sexual identity a "right" that was his, but is no longer. 

In his  deeply twisted logic, he compares the "Jim Crow" laws of pre Civil-Rights Act America, to these new "hate crimes laws" that he feels prevents him from the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  

I am not sure what effect he thinks the "hate crimes laws" have on his right to life, but I  guess he thinks it's essential to his liberty, and his pursuit of happiness that he be able to participate in a good 'ole fag bashing!   Apparently, violence against LGBT people is essential to Mr. Hutcherson's definition of Christianity.

Mr. Hutcherson's twisted logic is again evidenced  by his explanation of the "separation of church and state" which he argues is misunderstood by Christians - and is therefore being misused by secular society to restrict participation of the church in the state.  In other words, separation of church and state only applies to the state staying out of church business, not the church from involving itself in the state.

To illustrate how dire the situation is for "Christians" he brings up the case of Carrie Prejean who he says "lost her title simply because of her constitutional right to freedom of religion."

Yep, the winner of the Miss California pageant was highly criticized when she spoke of her faith based belief that homosexuals deserve to be discriminated against. But that fact really has little to do with why she lost her title - regardless of the lies that the anti-gay religionistas want you to believe. She lost her title simply because she would not honor her commitments as Miss California - in effect, for violating her contract which was entered into when she became a candidate in the pageant. That she's still being put forward as a Christian role model is really pretty laughable in light of the pornographic recording she made for an ex-boyfriend.

What is really twisted about Mr. Hutcherson's contention that society is discriminating against Christians and limiting their rights, is that it is precisely what religionistas have been doing to LGBT people and others who don't agree with them for millenia! In fact, the "rights" they are insisting they maintain are the influence and power to perpetuate discrimination and marginalization of LGBT people and others who don't believe as they do.

Pretty much poster-boy examples of hypocrisy! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Plastic Christians

Well the AFA is patting themselves on the back today after claiming a victory for Christ! They are no longer calling for Christians to boycott the Gap or Old Navy stores this holiday season. Why? Because the Gap is finally acknowledging the supremacy of our Lord and Savior in their advertising. Their new ad, which has changed EVERYTHING, features perfectly shaped, perfectly happy, perfectly dressed and coiffed plastic people wishing other perfectly shaped, perfectly happy, perfectly dressed and coiffed plastic people a "Merry Christmas", all the while skating (perfectly) on ice - which I am sure is perfectly frozen.

It would be enough to melt a Real True Christian's heart - if it weren't made of plastic!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Boycotting Christians

The title of this blog post is sort of a double entendre. The American Family Association sent out an "AFA Alert" today about a boycott they have called for against many retail establishments that do not specifically feature the word "Christmas" in their holday themed advertisements. This particular alert is a follow up from last weeks alert that posted the list of companies that the AFA claims should be putting "Christ back into Christmas". Apparently the Gap company - which runs a number of retail stores that heavily depend on holiday season sales - has responded with advertisements featuring a new jingle which does include the word "Christmas" - but the AFA is still angry. Here's a quote from their alert:

Dear George,

Gap has responded to AFA's call for a Christmas boycott of their Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic stores with a commercial that takes a cavalier approach towards Christmas.
The video entitled Ready for Holiday Cheer features a group of people dancing and chanting:
Two, Four, Six, Eight, now's the time to liberate
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanza, Go Solstice.
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go add a tree,
You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.
Happy do whatever you wanukkah, and to all a cheery night.

Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, go whatever holiday you wanukkah.
Did you notice it? Gap compares Christmas to the pagan holiday called "Solstice." Solstice is celebrated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft!
Gap also encourages you to "86" or "dismiss" traditions and "do what feels just right."
Take our Poll! Since Gap has now included the word "Christmas" in a television ad, should AFA call for an end to the boycott of their stores?

Oye Ve! What!?!?! I'm not even sure where to begin.... but oh well, first, that jingle doesn't "compare" anything! Second, the Solstice was (and is) celebrated by nearly every culture on earth, western or not. Third, Christianity co-opted the Solstice celebration by replacing it with a celebration of Christ's birth - who was really probably born sometime in September if you go by the clues given by when Mary traveled to her cousin's when she was pregnant.

The AFA are examples of people I collectively call "Religionistas". They are people who feel the need to impose their will on everyone who does not think the same way they do. They push for laws that punish those they consider "immoral" due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. They press for public displays of crosses, nativity scenes, and other monuments to Christ claiming that the United States was a nation founded on Christianity. (Apparently choosing to deny that most of the Founding Fathers were not Christians according to their definition).

They push for schools to quit teaching the theory of evolution, replacing it with their oddly rationalized "earth is not much more than 6000 years old" Creationism. (Although there are a few "Real True Christian" thinkers out there that are now calling for a variation of creationism called "Intelligent Design" to be taught - which is no less oddly rationalized, and no more scientific than creationism.)

But one of the most absurd efforts of theirs is this "Christ back into Christmas" campaign! Jeez! what can be more Christ-like than rushing from mall store to mall store, eagerly purchasing all the material crap that everyone on their "Christ"mas list has demanded - else they be let down by the holy spirit!

I urge all readers to go to the AFA's Action Alert site and vote for the AFA to stop boycotting the Gap! (I really don't care if Christan's buy their crap from the Gap company or not, I just want the AFA to publish poll results that go against their morals!).

Meanwhile, I'll be boycotting Christians this year - at least those of the "religionista" ilk!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Laissez-faire Fraud

Lots of people nowadays are looking at our troubled economy and are understandably confused as to what is the ultimate cause of the recession. Many reasons for the "economic collapse" have been put forward - mortgage lenders freely passing out low interest loans to folks who were never going to be able to repay, bankers and investment brokers repackaging collections of worthless loans and selling bits and pieces of them for commissions without any added value, worldwide growth expanding demand for a dwindling supply of oil, consumers financing their endless materialism on lines of credit they wouldn't be able to repay if they lived to be a hundred, etc. etc.

I'm sure that all of these are contributing factors. But what really concerns me is that the reasons listed above may add up to only a small portion of the real factors causing our current woes. Check out this article:

The writer points fingers at Goldman Sachs (and others) for manipulating the price of oil, and in doing so committing fraud at a never before imagined scale. I don't really know how accurate his accusations are, but he does quote the Congressional Research Service, reports from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and others. If he's only partly correct, then outright fraud would appear to be a major contributing factor to the current recession.

We already knew that fraud played the major role in bringing Enron and Worldcom down. Computer Associates (CA) and Qwest Telecommunications were involved in multi-billion dollar fraud scandals, and then of course there's Bernie Madoff's multi-billion dollar scam.

So, now here in the early years of the twenty-first century, we are seeing thievery at a scale that not only was never possible before, but literally unimaginable.

And, making it all worse, the government is basically paying the criminals off with YOUR money! Just about every thinking financial analyst out there understands that by sinking multi-trillions of dollars into the TARP funds, the value of a dollar will be reduced commensurately. The biggest accomplishment of  TARP is that the criminals no longer will lose any of their ill gotten gains!

Currently, congress is contemplating new legislation intended to address these schemes by the Financial Sector community. However, legislation has often had exactly the opposite effect of it's intention (ref: "The Communications Decency Act of 1996" gave pornography on the Internet its biggest boost. "No Child Left Behind" explicitly spells out how public education will leave some children behind. "Defense of Marriage Act" - Ha! Don't get me started on that one!). I have very little confidence that any laws we could possibly pass would stem the flow of wealth from the middle-class to the very rich.

I am not sure what can be done to solve the problem. I'm tempted to take everything I have in savings and purchase what little gold I can. I know that my dollars will not be worth much of anything in the near future.

What's your thoughts on the current state of affairs? Do you have any hope of ever being able to retire with any quality of life?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Victory for Evil in Maine

Yesterday voters in Maine repealed a law that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry in the state. The law was enacted in the spring of 2009 by the Maine legislature who had intended to "right a wrong". In other words, the Maine legislature recognized that the rights of GLBT people are meaningfully restricted by laws that do not allow their relationships to be recognized by society.

Organizers of the petition to repeal this law had waged a bitter battle that relied on lies, appeals to bigotry and scare tactics.

The people who campaigned in favor of the bill appealed to the Maine residents independent spirit and "live and let live" attitude.

Well, the liars, manipulators, and bigots won the day. The tactic that may have proved the most effective? Opponents of the law based many of its campaign ads on claims -- disputed by state officials -- that the new law would mean "homosexual marriage" would be taught in public schools.

The right wingers appealed to the fears that all parents have against their children being taught anything about sexuality - especially when done outside of their sphere of influence.

Well folks, school officials in Maine and everywhere else are not about to teach kids anything about homosexuality, just like they don't teach anything about heterosexuality - at least not beyond basic sex education timed to coincide with when the kids are encountering puberty. Of course religious fundamentalists are threatened even by that. They'd rather remove their children from "sex-ed" classes - which is their right.

However, religious fundamentalists needed a way to convince the voters of Maine that this law would endanger their children - because that was they only way they could come up with to overcome a rational person's lack of objection to allowing same-sex people who love each other the same rights as everyone else with respect to marriage.

This is basically no different, and just as morally reprehensible, as the far-right wing complaint about the "death panels" being created by the health care bill.

The "religionistas" don't see anything wrong with lying in order to get their way. Their end does not justify their means.