Saturday, June 29, 2013

JC on a Stick

What is it with fundies claiming martyrdom? In particular, for about a decade since civil unions than same-sex marriage started in these United States, self-identified, self-proclaimed Christians and a few Jews insist they are being or will certainly be persecuted by those gay and gay-liking sorts.

I thought again about it today when Tom Lang linked to a loon with a rant entitled "Get Ready for Christians Going to Jail." It's not at all unusual. In fact, it's mundane and predictable, even standard at the infamously anti-gay MassResistance site.

The principal conceit is that any protections or rights given to LGBT anyone not only takes away from the straights, that it means attacks and punishment for what we used to call "normal" people. The facts that there are no intellectual, historical or legal support for that paranoia seems irrelevant to the loons.

They do like to look to England, Europe and particularly Canada for the most tenuous of analogies. Granted that our northern neighbor has a spare 8-page Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Unlike the absolutist free-speech/free-exercise-of-religious First Amendment,the far more rational and humane Canadian charter does truly prohibit hate speech. So there is a bit of a rationale in fundies claiming that preachers might be told to cool it if they orate hateful or violent screeds.

That's not about to happen here but such realism does not deter fundies and wingers.

They love the bakers and photographers who refuse do service same-sex weddings or commitment ceremonies. They like to cite the Methodist owned New Jersey pavilion that refused to rent to gay groups, Catholic Charities stopping adoption services to avoid gay-couple adoptions, church-owned businesses who could not exclude birth-control coverage in employee health plans, and even the notorious publicity hound David Parker.

In each of those instances and many other similar ones, the principals claimed victim status...dishonestly and dishonorably. In the church and "conscience" related businesses, the assertion was that they were doing religious work and forced, forced I way, to choose bucks or God. In reality though, the Methodist and RC churches, as well as hospitals and other businesses owned in part by churches were running side businesses for profit. As such, they took state and often federal funds, thus being required to obey health, safety and non-discrimination laws in their ancillary roles. Catholic Charities was particularly egregious in their mythology about this, proclaiming loudly that they were forced out of adoptions when in fact they chose not to obey the laws while still demanding federal and state funds. Give me a break, Padre.

Parker was a pet amusement for me in that similar to the for-profit biz angle, he staged a sit-in at this kids' school until he forced the law to arrest him. Then and to this day, he claims he was arrested for exercising his rights to protect his children instead of the simple civil trespassing that he engineered. Triple shame on him.

The underlying question is what are these anti-gay and fundy types seeking? They seem intent on claiming they are being cruelly, unfairly martyred.

What is the motive? What is the idea?

Even in their tiny brains, it must be obvious that our Constitution, statutes and case law at both state and federal levels offer extraordinary levels of protection.No cleric will ever have to bless a homosexual marriage, even though the civil aspect is totally legally separate from the religious ritual. No preacher, no matter how obnoxiously anti-gay, will or ever has faced prosecution for bone-headed slanders.

Yet...yet...the wingers and fundies dearly love the idea that these things surely will happen. Despite all evidence, history and law, they return repeatedly to their feigned, potential persecution.

I was raised as a Christian. I believed in transubstantiation. I knew that Christ died on the cross for my sins. With that background, I have a felt sense that this attitude is hubris and arrogance. They want to identify with the most powerful and important character in their religion, their mythology. God, to abuse the term, that's arrogant.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Beasts Who Cry Wolf

They're still at it. The anti-gay forces don't let history or reason or humanity or compassion deter them. Despite their lifetimes of doing their worst to hurt homosexuals, they continue to:

  1. Predict certain martyrdom for themselves
  2. Claim current and future cultural victimhood

Sure enough, immediately following the welcome but pretty benign Supreme Court decisions yesterday, fundy and winger airwaves, blogs and papers spewed out more of this craziness. Consider this recap of several examples put out by Yahoo News. Likewise, over at Boston's winger tabloid, the Herald, the least Christ-like columnist claimed victim status for the pro-Prop 8 voters.

In my insatiable news reading, politics watching and coming up on a decade of running a marriage-equality blog, I am very used to seeing and hearing this. I have never become inured. Sometimes these fools are amusing, other times pitiable, and occasional infuriating.

One odd aspect is the obvious I'm-not-a-bigot-but... one. Those folk can be plain silly, as in saying, "My nephew is gay and I love him. So that proves I"m not a hateful, prejudiced person." Others try to get Biblical and only end up looking intellectually feeble. By picking a verse or two from the early Old Testament and gainsaying all the contradictory verses, they utterly fail the religion references tests. When pointed to OT versions long used to justify human slavery, subjugation of women and physical abuse of children, they quibble instead of backing down.

The vast majority of People of the Book — Jews, Christians and Muslims — if you pardon the term, evolved as the scriptures did over the centuries. Leviticus is not good basis for a civilized and religious life.

I accept that most of those anti-gay folk who try to use scripture to justify their unjustifiable wackiness think differently. As noted in several posts in this blog, lefties and right wingers often have different brains. Wingers tend to be very literal, hence the vetting with a single Bible verse and claims they are only following the literal and perfect word of God. We won't get into the politics of the Councils of Nicaea and those of the Biblical-language-illiterate King James. Suffice it to note that anyone who points to an OT verse to justify taking a belt to a child or voting to deny rights to women or homosexuals is delusional in claiming that is the will of God.

Instead the conceit starting from at least the moment Vermont legalized civil unions that included homosexual couples is that this would be a zero-sum game. The idea is that anything allowed for a gay couple will mean something taken from all straight couples.


Fairer, more rational and more inclusive

The asinine claim was first that slightly expanding the legal right to marry to two men or two women was at once redefining marriage and destroying different-gender marriage. Even President Obama and his missus, both lawyers, played at that when he was seeking election. They pretended not to understand the difference between marriage, which is the legal and binding contract of two people as controlled by each state, the DC and US territories, and religious ritual, which is the ceremonial icing on the matrimonial cake. Nearly half of couples have both, although only the civil marriage for which they get the license is legally marriage.

Comedians and columnists have had a great time ridiculing the redefining-marriage lunacy.Truth be told, both religions and legislatures have had a great time redefining marriage for centuries. In general, it's been by limitations, with flurries of expansion. Women are no longer considered male property and most marriages are not for solidifying family fortunes. The Chinese and African-American citizens are no longer forbidden from marrying white folk. Polygamy here is outlawed now, while still allowed in numerous Islamic states, as is polyandry is a few matriarchal groups mostly in Africa. The traditional polygamy of the Biblical patriarchs became against the law here. And most recently a slight tweak to allow homosexual couples to marry in some states has not so much redefined marriage as made it a little fairer, more rational and more inclusive.

The winger madness also turns to wild, unsupportable claims of discrimination. That's not against gay folk, which has been systemic and easily proven. Instead, the anti-gay sorts would have us believe:

  • Protecting homosexuals will certainly mean persecuting anti-gay types
  • Legalizing same-sex civil marriage will certainly mean anti-gay clerics will be forced to dirty their souls performing those unions
  • Giving any gay rights will certainly mean anti-gay types will be charged with hate crimes at the worst and shunned by society at best

Where do they get this crap?

Facts are that we have an expansive protection for religion in our Constitution. It is deeply and widely supported in statute and case law as well. Fundies love to point to churches' side businesses, like adoption services, that bring in cash, accept federal and state money, and have to adhere to equal-rights laws. Likewise, church affiliated hospitals and such are not churches, rather businesses, that have to obey state and federal guidelines and laws. Churches and do discriminate wildly, irrationally and, well, unchristian-like. They can do so legally. They know they can't do it in their sidelines. Yet many claim discrimination. Huh?

So now after yesterday's two SCOTUS rulings, we see and hear more of the woe-are-we jive. "They" (not really defined) will come for the clerics next. "They" will abridge our freedom of speech from the pulpit and in the public square. "They" this. "They" that.

If I had the power to heal by touch, I would go from one anti-gay winger to another, laying on my hands and freeing them from hatred and fear.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

One Great, One Good Gay Marriage Ruling

The decidedly non-activist Supremes did as we blowhards had figured all along. This morning's rulings were:

  • The Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional on equal-protection grounds.
  • California's Prop 8 banning marriage equality remains overturned by state and fed courts there, but does not affect laws in other states.

These are both victories of varying power for gay couples. The details of each were tossed to others by this oddly timid SCOTUS incarnation.

For DOMA, the Obama administration has to get its act together to make the revised rules. Like the overturning of the military absurd don't-ask/don't-tell policy, the feds need to specify how married homosexual couples will receive and be guaranteed access to the services and rights previously denied.

Of course, the feds can't make states that forbid same-sex marriage provide equal state tax, inheritance and other rights. They can make sure that even if the state does not recognize the marriage as legal within its borders, that the couple still gets the federal rights and benefits.

For California, the consensus is that in a few weeks or a month at most, same-sex couples can marry again there. They will join the 18,000-plus couples married there after the legislature passed marriage equality and before Prop 8 stopped that. The two-tiered marriage system ends in California.

At the same time, our most populous state brings the percentage of Americans with the legal option for marriage equality way up. While over three dozen states forbid same-sex marriage, we're quickly headed to half the nation having the legal option in their states.

We can be sure that more bozo state legislatures that rushed to have laws, constitutional amendments or both forbidding equality will be backing out and figuring how to get with the program gracefully.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

He Spits on the Popular Guy

Putting the gab in Gabriel, that Gomez clown has been doing the winger whinger thing. He is shocked, shocked I tell you, to find that Democrats are openly supporting Democratic candidate for US Senate Ed Markey. Can you imagine?

WTF, Republicans? Day follows night.

Reading and hearing his non-stop petulance, I see the parallel with such lunacy as anti-gay MassResistance spewing about and wanting a boycott of the corporate sponsors of Boston's Gay Pride week and events. Year after year, twisted little Brian and Amy (the army-ette of two) revealed the shocking, shocking I tell you, truth that Pride had a huge list of sponsors.

Apparently, this was to elicit outrage among us far morally superior to libertarians, queers, Unitarians and other scum. We were supposed to see the long and getting longer list of corporate and governmental sponsors and produce steam from our ears, grab our checkbooks to write checks to MR, and boycott these dreadful enablers.

From my distance, I couldn't help but see it otherwise. The sponsor list was a catalog of America, like the city of Boston, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Bank of America, Apple, Verizon, and a huge cross-section of hotel chains, supermarkets and on and on and on. In fact MR got its shaming list from the Pride brochures and any current year's sponsor list will show similar political and corporate power.

This allegation was that this was an anomaly that people could correct with protests and economic sanctions. Somehow, the clueless couple has yet to see that their publicizing the kissy-face support of LGBT celebrations carries a very, very different import.

What shame?

The real message has been for well over a decade that the world has moved beyond anti-gay paranoia and silliness. The wide and deep list of companies and agencies that celebrate diversity and equality indicates that those who hate gay folk are out of touch and out of tune with America and these times. Publishing the lists does not shame the sponsors at all. Instead, it makes reasonable folk ever more aware of how mainstream equality is.

Likewise with Gomez and other Republicans, complaining that two Presidents, the other US Senator from MA and dozens of Dems endorse Markey does not smear him. In contrast, the good guys like Markey, like him enough to trot to places like Boston and Worcester to say so publicly and at length.

In contrast, the best Gomez has earned has been an email from the very short-term, fill-in Senator Scott I-have-a-truck-to-haul-hay-for-my-daughters'-horses Brown. That's right, Brown couldn't even bother to endorse him at an even or on camera. (Insert snicker.)

So Gomez says repeatedly, "That Markey is so popular. Big shots endorse him. That's terrible! Vote for me!"

Instead maybe the unenrolled and even the Republicans will listen to all those effusive and specific endorsements of Obama, Clinton, Warren and on and on. Gabriel needs some friends. After he loses this race, he should have the time to find some.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Herding Democrats

Yesterday's visit from President Barack Obama was certainly jollier than the recent trip related to the dead and maimed from the Boston Marathon bombs. He came to support US Rep. Ed Markey's bid to move to replace John Kerry.

Despite a nearly three-hour wait to get into and kill time in a very hot track-and-field gym across from Roxbury Community College, several thousand Dems, pinkos, and locals who just wanted to be part of the excitement did stand in lines, had previously filled out forms and waited for free tickets, did herd outside, did file dutifully through the chutes, did wait and wait. They got political rewards.

I actually had gotten a couple of those tickets, but I also ended up wangling a press pass. Mine was at the bottom-feeder level, blogger and podcaster. There were national folk video recording. There were local puffballs like Jon Keller, who seems to live to announce how insightful and important he is (he is neither) and local true pundits like David Bernstein, who actually is insightful and not ego poisoned.

Folk were sweating, campaign and DNC staffers were handing out tiny bottles of water, but figuratively everyone was cool. The doors had opened on time at 11 AM but Obama was not due on stage until at least 1:45 PM.

Fear not, like a good pre-game show, theater started a little after noon with stuff...lots of non-stop stuff. A cute kid led the pledge, a very talented local student sang the anthem, several Bostonians, including the country sheriff and Markey's local campaign head, started firing up the thousands.

I know these were their moments,but the real action and political appetizers started with MA Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz. She's highly accomplished, a solid progressive and it doesn't hurt that she is both gorgeous and very pregnant.

I haven't seen or heard much of her remarks today, but they were in turn funny, rousing and insightful. Click the arrow on the player below to hear a five-minute clip from Sen. Chang-Díaz' speech.

She differs from most remarks on both sides of this campaign in several ways. She in fact differs from both Markey and Obama. She came from a really local, really pragmatic political view.

She softened up the masses with jokes about how she wasn't due for another eight days....and she waved her absentee ballot form that she had in case she was in labor on June 25th. Then she cut to the teamwork motif that has been lacking in this campaign, at least to my awareness.

Markey has not stressed that he'd be a one-two punch for Dem values with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. He should. He only says that GOP opponent Gabriel Gomez would cancel out Warren's vote. Chang-Díaz worked the teamwork theme from several angles for him. She first noted that big Massachusetts liberal victories came from widespread teamwork, including marriage equality, CORI reform and healthcare reform that spread nationally (she welcomed Obama for joining in).

In a great take on the current race, she made a credible call for GOTV efforts. First in Spanish, then English, she said that Gabriel Gomez was not the only Latino in the race, then pointing to the audience and herself. She called for at least as big a turnout as last November's that send Warren to the Senate.

Markey wasn't on stage, but I hope his minions paid attention and informed him.

For the big show, Obama was pretty damned good. He was on at least his B+ game. There was show cutesy stuff, as there was with Markey, about the Boston/Chicago Stanley Cup Final teams, but the POTUS quickly got serious.

NECN has his whole half hour, which is worth a watch and listen. Click here for that.

Big Dog Next

What I'll watch for now is Bill Clinton's endorsement of Markey this Saturday in Worcester. I can't get to that but I definitely want to compare it to his pitch for US Rep. Steve Lynch three years ago in Boston. That one surprised and appalled me. It was all about Clinton when it should have been about the candidate.

In contrast, Obama was focused and balanced yesterday. He started, continued and ended with specific reasons to campaign for and vote for Ed Markey. Where the President inserted himself into it, the point was that "I need Ed Markey" in Washington to pursue the big goals...shade of Chang-Díaz' teamwork.

I'll catch the video of that show and see who's the hero of those remarks.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Better Safe...AND Sorry?

Cue continued outrage from left and right on American phone and internet transactions being spook monitored. This hoo-ha is disingenuous and decades late. The mice that are Americans long ago gave it up.

As a baby boomer, I was wee when Sen. Joseph McCarthy terrified my parents' generation. He ran the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, as well as inspiring similar lunacy at the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Subversive Activities Control Board, and even linked to the Hollywood (really all entertainment industry) blacklisting. He couldn't have destroyed so many lives, lied so many lies and instituted the mechanisms without lots of help, such as Ronald Reagan, then head of the Screen Actor's Guild, and a McCarthy's good buddy and fellow Senator Richard Nixon.

Art note: The period Soviet poster exhorts young builders of communism to educate and convert.

Until 9/11, the craziness of that era seemed far away and unreproducible. Lists of covert communists insinuated in the State Department? Actors living to subvert us with their performances? Professors converting innocent students to Soviet control? Clear crap, we might have thought...until recently.

Now our irrational nation fear is not of Russians nor their contemporary Yellow Peril as the WWII generation dubbed the rising Chinese. Rather, terrorists in the form of the various al-Qaeda incarnations, the Taliban, and any person or group who kill Americans, particularly in the United States are, well, terrorizing us.

Granny Says

Maybe your grandmother used the folksy, "Better safe than sorry," as mine did. That was an analog of the Boy Scouts' "Be prepared." Sure, there irrefutable simple-mindedness there, but little else.

I eventually learned that such verbal tics are merely I-told-you-so placeholders. It's like hearing either, "It's only commonsense," or "Let's not reinvent the wheel." The message behind those wheezes is, "I have nothing, not reasoning or proof. I'm about to make bald assertions that I don't want challenged."

Back in the post-WWII Red-Scare times and now again in post-9/11, those with little or no regard for this nation's famous, hard-won, clearly defined freedoms do their worst. Yes, it was McCarthy, Nixon and Reagan before and after their presidencies, the Bushes both spook and the lesser, and now President Obama.

Time to Reverse

There is cause for outrage, for extreme wariness, for remedies.

Again, as a boomer, I grew up with the idea and ideals that we were exceptional as a nation. It wasn't the unjustifiable manifest-destiny thing. Rather, from  the Colonial era, through our revolution, into our states' and federal constitution and its add-ons, we set the world tone for liberty. We guaranteed a free press, free church, and even forbade the English occupation evils such as no-due-process for searches, trials or punishments.

Wow, we goofed up big time again and for the past 12 years in particular.

We've sent uncharged vaguely defined enemies off for torture and almost certainly did the same here. We run a concentration camp in Cuba where hundreds of uncharged suspects despair. We allow civilian-on-civilian gun murder on the skimpiest of excuses of feeling our lives or even property just might be somehow, someway threatened.

Now again we find that covertly and with or without Fourth Amendment safeguards, our very words and movements are captured, stored and analyzed. The oppressive policies we decry in China, Indonesia and elsewhere seem to too many to be OK here, as in better safe than sorry.

The pathetic corollary to such unjustifiable intrusion is a pattern of individual brutality. In the Red-Scare era, people (as in Americans) were denied their livelihoods, accused of and brought to trial for treason, hounded from their homes and professions, and beaten down even into suicide.

Let's forget the slippery-slope argument. Instead, this should be binary. What if one of more security agencies or some level of cop decide your internet activities or phone calls "prove" you are a terrorist or otherwise threat to the nation or one its politicians? Our legal system's background aside, that seems more like Gitmo than innocent until proven guilty.

If it's, "See right here. This known terrorist's number called yours four times." Ta da!

Sorry, guys. This reeks and cannot stand.

For once, I have to agree with the squawking class. We've backslid during stressful times, but as a nation, we've given up too much and worked too hard for freedoms unimaginable in the rest of the world. We can't join them in cowed acceptance in the name of better safe than sorry.

Tell your President. Tell your members of Congress.