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Anti-Gay Pundits and their Gay family and Friends November 25, 2008

Posted by joshuachayne in Culture, media, politics.
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Newt Gingrich recently referenced what he called “gay and secular fascists” that are ready to “use violence to impose their will on America” on the O Reilly Factor on Fox News which led to his lesbian sister, Candace Gingrich, publishing a response to her brother on the Huffington Post. Here is an excerpt of what she wrote…

This is a movement of the people that you most fear. It’s a movement of progress — and your words on FOX News only show how truly desperate you are to maintain control of a world that is changing before your very eyes.

Newt also has a gay cousin, Darrel Gingrich.  Newt is not the only Right Wing pundit with gay relatives or gay friends.

Laura Ingraham is notorious for her past homophobia.  Former college classmates of hers say that she use to out gay classmates when she was in college.  Laura also has a gay brother, whom she was estranged from for many years due to her homophobia.  She eventually saw the love and care that he had for his dying partner and now she says that her views on homosexuality have been “tempered”.  Yet, you can still hear her portray gay rights issues in negative terms on her radio show and in her appearances at Fox.

Bill O Reilly has also toned down his rhetoric on gay issues since having befriended a gay couple who has adopted children, although his program, the O Reilly Factor, still often portrays gays as “fascists” who shouldn’t be “clustered near children.”

Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter are friends with former gay porn star, Matthew Sanchez aka Rod Majors.  Yet, Malkin’s blog has many posters that refer to gay rights activists as “domestic terrorists” and “Al Gayda” and she regularly publishes anti-gay articles for Town Hall while Ann Coulter continues to use gay slurs like “faggot”.

Do these people really believe the vile that they spew and are they really homophobic?  Or do they simply cater to a niche market of uneducated bigots?

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FOX: When Gays and Christians Attack! November 22, 2008

Posted by joshuachayne in Culture, media, politics.
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Just when you thought you’ve had enough of the old “Fear and Smear” routine, Fox News tries to paint gays as Christian-hating anarchists.

Shortly after Prop 8 was passed, a small group of anarchists from the group Bash Back invaded a church and shouted that it was ok to be gay and threw some papers around.  In the video shown on the O Reilly Factor it looked like 4 young people were involved.  Of course the Right Wing media tried to smear the entire gay community and gay rights movement with this event.  Fox News did not even mention that these individuals were from the Bash Back group and in no way represented the mainstream gay community.

Another recent incident involved a group of Christians being chased out of the Castro area in CA by an angry gay mob.  The Christian group had gone outside of gay clubs in a gay neighborhood to pray and sing.  Of course they knew that many gays and lesbians were very upset about Prop 8 and the church’s involvement in this political issue.

One of the Christian women (who the O Reilly Factor dubbed a Christian Missionary) claims that she was hit in the head by a Bible and repeatedly kicked by a gay man.  Yet that specific incident was not caught on camera, she did not press charges, and there are no pictures of her injuries.

As Joe My God reports, the Christians in the Castro incident were affliated with Joel’s Army, a Christian dominionist group.  Dominionists wish to impose Biblical Law onto the government.  They also wish to convert gays to straight.  Of course Fox News ignored this affiliation.

Of course violence on all sides should be condemned and no one should be invading churches or vandalizing.

However, these isolated cases are just that, isolated and anectodal.

There have been many protests since Prop 8 passed and over 100,000 people have taken part in protests, marches, or vigils and the overwhelming majority of them have been peaceful.   Yet, the Right Wing Media is trying to smear an entire community and movement based on the actions of a few.  Of course its not surprising since they rely on the “smear and fear” tactic to excite their base and to incite prejudice against vulnerable minorities which they use as scapegoats.

Luckily for us, more and more people are beginning to reject these smears.

Its also hilarious how the Right Wingers are blasting gays for boycotting when this practice has been a major page in their own playbooks.  The American Family Association (AFA) has boycotted Ford and McDonalds for being pro-gay and even got a gay executive fired at McDonalds.  Bill O Reilly has called for boycotts of businesses like Pepsi when they endorsed Ludicrus and even called for a boycott of France because they did not approve of Bush’s war in Iraq.

Yet, somehow gays are anarchist and anti-democracy when they boycott businesses who are anti-gay or who gave money to Yes on 8 which helped take some of their civil rights away.

You have to love the hypocrisy of the Religious Right.

Center-Right? Christian Women have Abortions too! November 22, 2008

Posted by joshuachayne in Culture, media, politics.
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The election illuminated many aspects of America’s social and cultural demographics. One of the most interesting phenomena was that in the states where anti-gay legislation were passed, ballot measures to limit aspects of abortion rights were resoundingly defeated. Many of the same Evangelical Christians that voted against gay marriage also voted against limiting abortion.

How could this be? Evangelicals are divided on abortion rights and gay rights? But I thought they were equally against both and that these were the wedge issues that they use as their battle cry to rally up the base.

Well as it turns out and I’m embarrassed that I’ve never thought about this before– there is a huge Elephant in the room when it comes to the Conservative Evangelical Community…..

Many Christian women have abortions too!

In fact there have been qualitative and quantitative studies on this.

A study in 1995 found that 18% of a sample of 1000 women who had abortions, identified themselves as Christians.

http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html

A study in 2006 suggests that out of the 1 million abortions in 2000, Christian women may have accounted for 570,000 of those 1 million.

http://truthpatrol.blogsp…as-many-abortions-as.html

I’d say the “Culture War” on Reproductive Rights is pretty much over.

We’ve got to end the “Culture War” on Gay Rights. After all there is another Elephant in the Room– Churches are full of gays! (Did you know that famous Christian Music Singer/Songwriter Ray Boltz came out in September of this year?).

Proposition 8 November 22, 2008

Posted by joshuachayne in Culture, politics.
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This election saw the historical triump of Barack Obama becoming the first African American President.  Yet, the election also saw a setback in gay rights with anti-gay ballot initiatives being passed in California, Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas.

Florida banned gay marriage and domestic partnerships.  Arkansas banned gay adoption and foster care by banning all unmarried couples (straight or gay) from adopting or taking foster children.  If this law is deemed retroactive, then what happens to those who already adopted or taken foster children?  I have heard that some gays are afraid that their children will be taken away.  The Arkansas government and children services groups were adamantly against banning gays from adopting or taking foster children but sadly many of the people of Arkansas still hold irrational fears about gays.

In California, Proposition 8 was passed by a 4% margin and the pre-existing right of gay marriage was taken away.  The CA Supreme Court had ruled that gay marriage was both a constitutional right and a civil right based on the Equal Rights and Protections Clause.  They had also declared that gays were a minority on the same level as other ethnic, religious, and gender minority groups.  During that time 18,000 gay couples were married.  If Prop 8 is retroactive then these 18,000 will lose their marriages.

Should civil rights be put up to a popular vote?  Conservatives complain about “activist judges” yet the Court’s gave women and African Americans their equal rights and overturned the ban on inter-racial marriage against the will of the majority of Americans at those times.

It is part of the Court’s role and a part of the Constitution (see 9th and 14th Amendments) to protect vulnerable minority’s against the tyranny of the majority.

Prop 8 has re-ignited the Gay Rights movement.  On Saturday, Nov. 15th more than 100,000 people protested for marriage equality and gay rights across this Nation.

This new movement is grassroots and netroots and you can keep up with future events at Join the Impact.

The CA Supreme Court will hear the legal challenges against Prop 8.

The challenges rest on whether or not Prop 8 revises rather than amends the Constitution because it contradicts the Equal Rights and Protections Clause.  And if it is a revision then it would be an illegal initiative because revisions require passing through 2/3rds of the legislature before it can be put to a popular vote.

This argument is a Hail Mary pass.  Within the last 100 years the CA Supreme Court has only seen 9 cases where they argued an amendment was a revision (sweeping structural change) and in only 3 of those cases did they decide that the amendment was actually a revision.

Even if the CA Supreme Court upholds Prop 8, gays and their straight allies can introduce another amendment next election to repeal Prop 8.

Pro-Life and Pro-War? September 21, 2008

Posted by joshuachayne in Culture, politics, Uncategorized.
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I am often dewildered at how some groups and individuals can be so fervently pro-life on abortion but are also militantly pro-war and pro-death penalty.  I am perpelexed at how evangelicals, in particular, can be pro-life on abortion but not pro-life on war or capital punishment. If all life is precious then how can one rationalize contradictory viewpoints on these issues that relate to life and death?

Abortion can be a complex and emotional issue.  I sympathize with pro-lifers although I believe that women need the right to choose.  Pregnancies, of course, affect the woman’s body as she carries the fetus while it develops. Also men are responsible for all pregnancies.  A woman cannot become pregnant without a man’s sperm of course.  Therefore, if more men were responsible there would be far less unnwanted pregnancies.  Sadly, too many men refuse to wear condoms because sex doesn’t feel as good with one on.  I can also see the point that while the fetus develops and is born from the woman’s body (and changes her body and sometimes health and is mostly her responsibility while pregnant) the unborn child is not entirely hers or made from her.  The man also created this child and contributed half of the child’s dna.  Once the fetus is born and becomes a legally recognized baby the father also has a legal claim to the child.

The fetus is also technically biologically alive even though it is not recognized as being legally alive until it is born.  The term fetus also seems so technical and dehumanizing.  A pregnant woman carries a human fetus and during an abortion a human fetus is killed (terminated is the detached term that is usually used).

However, woman are more likely to be abused by males.  Woman can become pregnant through rape and/or incest.  In such a case should a woman have to endure a pregnancy and raise a baby that was the product of a violent assault? There are also medical situations where the life of the mother is threatened by her pregnancy.  What if the unborn child has been determined to have a serious physical deformity?  Could the abortion be viewed as a mercy killing/euthanasia.   We mercy kill beloved pets all the time.  Of course some would object to equating a human fetus with an animal.  Also what if the pregnant mother is mentally ill or handicapped and cannot care for the child.  The mother and father may not be able to care for the child due to economic reasons.  Is it better for an unborn child to be aborted rather than be neglected or abused after it is born?  Some children are born to horrible parents who commit heinous abuses against them.

There are complex ethical questions concerning abortion.  Genetic testing may advance to the point that parents can determine much about their child before it is born.  What if parents want to abort their children because they don’t like what their dna will determine their hair or eye color to be?  What if genetics and prenatal hormones can predict if an individual will be homosexual or not?  Would we have many parents that would abort potentially gay children? What if parents aborted their unborn children based on potential diseases or mental illnesses they may one day develop.  Could abortion be used for eugenics or even ethnic cleansing?  Perhaps these concerns are alarmist and such extremes will not come to pass.

Some abortion procedures such as dialtion and extraction seem monstrous.  Pictures of aborted fetus’ are shocking and very disturbing.

Most women probably do not make the choice to have an abortion lightly.  The right to have an abortion is considered a reproductive right that women have.  Outlawing abortion wouldn’t stop abortions either.  Therefore, abortions might as well be conducted in a safe medical environment.  Abortions can also be lessoned through education and lifting more women out of poverty.

Many conservatives and evangelicals justify being pro-war by distinguising between killing and murder. God has commanded thou “shalt not murder” not killing, they insist.  Killing during war and through the death penalty is not murder because it is sanctioned by the government and the state.  However, why doesn’t this rationale include abortion since it is also legalized by the government?  I assume this is because the unborn are considered innocent and the people killed during war and capital punishment are considered sinners. 

Capital punishment is justified by such biblical quotes as “an eye for an eye”.  War is justified because Moses led miltary battles that supposedly included killing entire tribes.  But, didn’t Jesus say to love your neighbor as yourself and to also love, bless, and pray for your enemies?  Did Jesus not also teach pacifism–turn the other cheek?  Shouldn’t Christians interpret the Old Testament through the prism of Jesus’ teachings and the New Testament?  Would the God that Jesus called Father advocate the genocide of other ethnic or cultural groups.  I say certainly not!  Unfortunately, many evangelicals say that Jesus’ teachings apply to individuals and not to the state (unless it involves persecuting gays!).

As the saying goes, war is Hell.  We send our soldiers to kill and be killed.  Our soldiers die for our freedom and sometimes for the freedom of other nations.  These brave and young men and women face unimaginable violence and must cope with witnessing acts of bravery and acts of terror that most of us could not comprehend.  During wars innocent civilans (men, women, and children) are always killed. How can the deaths of innocents be justified even if it is by accident?  What about rogue situations were innocents are purposely killed by both sides of the warring parties? Horrible atrocities occur in wars–killing, maiming, toture, rape, and pillaging.  How can Christians be pro-war when it is so violent? Pictures of war are also monstrous and deeply disturbing.

I understand the rationale that some wars may be just, such as using miltary might to stop acts of genocide or in defense of an invasion.  But I refuse to view God or Jesus as being pro-war.  We should strive for peace. Violence is too primitive and destructive and tends to beget more violence or at least intense cultural resentment that may lead to negative consequnces. I refuse to believe that killing civilans is ever justified.  Pre-emptive war on a soverign nation that has not attacked us is also going too far.

 In full disclosure, I struggle with the death penalty as well.  When someone has committed a heinous act of violence against another person such as killing, brutal rape, or maiming I think they are deserving of death.  However, sometimes innocent men and women are convicted and sentenced to death. What if the state kills an innocent person? Should we also stoop to the level of killers by killing them?  Some say that certain socio-pathic individuals do not belong in society or in life and we are better off by culling them from the flock.

In the end issues relating to life and death and war and peace are profoundly complex.  These issues stir our emotions and spark endless philosophical debates.  It is unrealistic to expect such polarized views as most people being consistently pro-life or pro-death on all the issues.  However, I maintain that we should do the best we can to raise the quality of life of the living and to give as much respect and dignity that we can to the living as well as the dead.

“No Way. No How. No McCain! No Palin!” September 20, 2008

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I attended a democratic rally in Pike County today where Hillary Clinton stumped for Bruce Lunsford (who is running against incumbant Mitch McConnel for Kentucky’s Senate seat) and for the Obama/Biden ticket.  Hillary made the case that stakes are too high for Americans to allow Republicans to continue to run the White House and that more “good Democrats” are needed in the Senate.  Lunsford and Clinton argued that McConnel stood in the way of progress in Kentucky because his interests in energy do not include clean coal. They also played up Lunsford as a self made successful business man.

Hillary asked those who voted for her during the Primary to vote for Obama/Biden in November.  Obama is not popular here in the Appalachian region.  Many in this region continue to believe that Obama is a radical Muslim or the Anti-Christ. I can’t quite figure out why they think that he may be the Anti-Christ but that meme is heard and read often in these parts.  Sadly racism also persists here although it is not as overt as it once was.  Hillary seemed to be aware of Obama’s perception here but urged Democrats and Hillary Supporters to vote for him. 

Hillary did not mince words about her feelings for the McCain/Palin ticket even though she views McCain as a friend as she reiterated her much used catch phrase: No Way. No How.  No McCain. No Palin.

Hillary and Lunsford focused much of their speeches around the current economic crisis. Harkaning back to President Clinton’s administration they lamented that it is Democrats who can fix the economic mess.  Of course Hillary also mentioned her signature issue, health care.

I found it humorous that Lundsord kept referring to the last eight years as the Bush-McConnel era.  The stigma attached to Bush and his administration is so strong that Democrats are trying to attach every Republican to Bush.  On the national stage, Obama has been linking McCain to President Bush in most of his stump speeches.

Before Hillary was introduced, former Governor Paul Patton spoke breifly. He opined that Obama has the potential to be one of the greatest Presidents in history.  He also chastized the Bush Administration for failing to capture or kill “that robe wearing idiot” referring to Osama bin Laden.  I personally found the “robe wearing idiot” comment too close to calling him a “raghead”.  While Osame is a terrorist we should be sure not to demean aspects of whole cultures especially since the Democrat party is so diverse.  A lot of individuas in the middle east still wear traditional robes and most of these individuals are not terrorists.

Another local political leader, whose name escapes me, also advocated mountain top removal (strip mining) to the chagrin of several members of the audience.  Democrats and liberals tend to be pro-environment (a woman to my left was concerned about strip mining and water pollution) yet mountain top removal leads to jobs for local residents (not to mention more money for coal companies).

Hillary had visited Prestonsburg during the Primary and had visited Pike County during the 90s.  John Edwards also visited Prestonsburg during the Primary.  Bill Clinton visited Pike County during the Primary while he was campaigning for Hillary.  The Clintons are very popular in this region as many look back favorably on their economic conditions during the Clinton Presidency.

In Memory August 26, 2008

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A few days ago one of my uncles took his own life.  He was a great man.  He was humble, mild mannered, and compassionate.  He was also a deeply spiritual man.  He loved his family dearly and was always very friendly at family gatherings.  He had suffered from seizures all his life and had went through several brain surgeries in recent years.  The brain surgeries impacted his memory and cognition.  His family reported changes in his personality and that he developed severe depression.

I am reminded that life is so precious and fragile.  I recently read that love is not a strong emotion but is a weak emotion because love feels pain and loss deeply.  Love is weak in its strength.  I am also reminded of the classic religious paradox of strength in weakness– the strength of God revealed through human weakness.  It is because of love that we mourn our family and friends.  I find it odd that death reminds us to live.

Michael Savage’s outdated ideas about Autism July 28, 2008

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Conservative talk show host Michael Savage made news again recently with controversial remarks about autistic children being “brats” who just need a father to tell them to be a man and stop acting socially awkward. Before advances in genetics and neuroscience, unfortunately some doctors did blame social causes. Mothers were told that their children were autistic because they did not show them enough love when they were infants. These so called refrigerator mothers were made to blame themselves for their child’s condition. Of course through time studies have shown that there is no relationship between a mother’s affection and autism.

Autism is now generally considered a spectrum disorder with varying degrees between mild and severe. Most autistic individuals have some degree of sensory disorders. Some individuals may have exaggerated senses while others may have dulled senses. Some individuals may only be able to process input from one sense at a time. Many individuals with autism have problems with “theory of mind” in that they may not be able to generalize about what others think and feel or pick up on social cues. Many individuals with autism will also develop social anxiety disorder. Some autistics such as those with aspergers may have savant skills.

Michael Savage’s views are dangerous because they could be used to justify mistreating individuals with autism or lead parents to opt out of treatments for their children with autism. It is important for families, schools, and society at large to understand that due to variation in development and brain structures and chemistry, there are people who experience reality and social reality much differently than many of us do. We must accept and accommodate these differences. We must not blame the victim or exclude people.

Michael Savage has also been criticized in the past for homophobia. He has told a gay caller to get aids and die and he has said that gays “rape the minds” of children simply for being seen holding hands in public.

The most shocking aspect concerning Michael Weiner aka Michael Savage is that he has advanced degrees in sociology and anthropology. Its hard for me to believe that he actually believes some of the things he says. I’m inclined to believe that, like many of the other conservatives, he probably realizes that he can cash in on the niche market of fear and hate mongering.

Why is it that compassion seems to escape many of the popular conservatives in the media? Do they merely engage in hate and fear mongering for profit? Why do they seem to advocate for bullying, prejudice, and discrimination for anyone that is different from themselves?

The Joker– Super Sane? July 21, 2008

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Heath Ledger portrays a chilling Joker in the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. This Joker is a homicidal sociopathic anarchist. He has no empathy and obeys no rules. Although he may add some whimsical and ironic elements into his schemes he is still a brutal terrorist who enjoys causing mass chaos and killing and maiming enemies, pawns, and innocents. He wants to turn society upside down and relishes putting otherwise moral people into moral dilemmas with disastrous consequences.

Is the Joker insane or so sane that he sees through the social controls and the social construction of social reality? I have read that in some of the Batman comics written by Grant Morrison that the idea was presented that the Joker may actually be “super-sane”. Even in The Dark Knight, the Joker insists that he is not insane.

Whether he is insane or super-sane, the Joker continues to be Batman’s greatest foe and one of the most recognizable comic book villains of all time. The Joker represents anarchy and absolute freedom from rules and compassion. He is an agent of chaos and thus the polar opposite of Batman who wishes to restore order to Gotham. The Joker captures our fears and imagination because he is the quintessential terrorist in the guise of an archetype that is suppose to represent happiness and joy– a clown.

Democracy Now! July 10, 2008

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Democracy Now! is an independent news program that airs on the radio (NPR, Pacifica, etc) and T.V. (Free Speech TV and Link TV). Hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, this news show gives a voice to grassroots movements, counter-cultural movements, and to communities rarely heard in the mainstream news media. Democracy Now is itself a product of independent and grassroots movements to bring the American public a news media that is not controlled by big corporations that profit from war and exploitation.

Democracy Now! covers stories related to global War and Peace that are often ignored by the mainstream media . The show seeks to speak truth to power and to hold those in power accountable for their actions. Democracy Now also allows for real discussions and debates. You will find people on their program that think in paragraphs not sound bites. They often have academics and artists on their shows who are very articulate and insightful.

It is important to support independent media. The mainstream media has become consumed with fluff and drivel and does not speak for the people.