Gay marriage, taxes, and the law of unintended consequences

Gay-flowerLast year was a triumphant year for gay marriage in California.  That means that this year, for many newly wed gay couples, April 15 was the first time they filed their taxes as married couples.  I have it on very good authority that many of these newly nuptialed couples are extremely unhappy now that they’re dealing with the infamous marriage penalty.

Considering how politically powerful gay men have become, could gay marriage lead to lower taxes?

And while we’re talking about taxes, Bill Whittle offers a sensible tax policy, one that would give all citizens a stake in America, while ending the current policy of taxing the producers right out of existence:

Flat taxes, once I understood how they worked, were one of the stepping stones on my way to conservativism. Twenty years ago, a brilliant conservative managed to explain to me how an across the board 10% sales tax would work. When he first told me about it, I got ruffled, pointing out that this was regressive tax that would hurt poor people. He shook his head sadly at my ignorance and explained that the most that poor people would get taxed, if they spent every penny they had, would be 10%, which is a reasonable amount to pay to have a stake in this country. (This was 20 years ago, before 51% of Americans paid nothing at all.) Moreover, he said, the bulk of taxes would come from those who aren’t poor, because middle class and rich people buy more. Everyone buys staples, but it’s the classes above the poverty line who have always — as a practical matter — bought into the American dream.

A 10% tax wouldn’t be high enough to deter high income spending, especially if there were no other taxes, so middle and upper class Americans would have an incentive to invest in the economy through purchasing goods. In the meantime, a 10% sales tax might be high enough to encourage a poor person to save more, rather than to buy inessential products, helping the poor person to stay solvent.

Certainly, a flat sales tax (or any flat tax) would be cheaper to administer than our current tax system. If it unleashed a rising tide of prosperity, it would bring in more revenue. On the other hand, if it brought in less revenue, it would stop rampant government spending (this was also before debt ceiling wars).

Bottom line:  Anything more simple and more fair than what we have now is a better tax system.

We don’t have a “gay mafia,” we have a “gay Soviet”

Gay StalinI’m not a Bill Maher fan, but he occasionally shows an intellectual honesty that makes it worthwhile to keep an eye on him.  Last week, he exposed Leftist hypocrisy about racism, when he got Leftist guests to denounce “racist” pronouncements from Paul Ryan, only to reveal that he was quoting Michelle Obama.

On Friday, in the wake of the Mozilla scandal (firing its brilliant and effective CEO for the fact that, in 2008, he supported the same view of marriage that Obama and the Clintons claimed to support), Maher once again went off the reservation.  In discussing the furor against Eich, he came out with what must be, to the Left, an unpleasant truth about the strain of thuggery that runs through the gay professional class:

During the online-only post-show segment, Maher, 58, asked his panel of contributors about their thoughts on the tech wizard’s decision to step down as Mozilla’s CEO after facing backlash for supporting a California same-sex marriage ban effort in 2008.

“I think there is a gay mafia,” Maher said. “I think if you cross them, you do get whacked. I really do.”

Let me add some specificity to Maher’s thought.  We already know that organized ideological thuggery took Eich down, but I’d like to focus on the mentality that drove the anti-heretic hunt.  CNET, which covers the tech world, has a post about the Eich resignation.  What struck me about the CNET article was a comment from the man who started it all — a man who said that, if only Eich had announced that the re-education had been successful and then kept his mouth shut, then everything would have been okay (emphasis mine):

The wildfire that brought Eich down was sparked in part by Rarebit developers Hampton Catlin and Michael Lintorn Catlin, who as married gay men took Eich’s politics very personally, removed their app from the Mozilla Marketplace, and called for Eich to apologize or resign.

Hampton Catlin on Thursday, though, called Eich’s resignation “the worst kind of victory.”

“We never expected this to get as big as it has, and we never expected that Brendan wouldn’t make a simple statement. I met with Brendan and asked him to just apologize for the discrimination under the law that we faced. He can still keep his personal beliefs, but I wanted him to recognize that we faced real issues with immigration [sic] and say that he never intended to cause people problems,“ Catlin said in a blog post Thursday. “It’s heartbreaking to us that he was unwilling to say even that.”

Translated:  If only Eich had recanted, publicly apologized for all gay suffering throughout America (because up until a decade ago, no one had even thought of gay marriage), and then kept his mouth shut , our kapos would have released him from the gulag and given him tacit permission to hold his beliefs, as long as he never acts on them in any way in the future.

Keep Catlin in mind as I walk you back about 70 years in time, to the mid-20th century in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.  Boris Pasternak, a truly courageous intellectual (unlike America’s modern “intellectuals” who march in lockstep with the powers that be), lived his life with incredible bravery under Soviet tyranny.  That bravery included writing Dr. Zhivagoan indictment of the Soviet system.  The Soviets, naturally, refused to publish the book, but it did get published in Italy and, from there, spread throughout the West.

The CIA, in one of its more intelligent moves, decided to smuggle the book right back into the Soviet Union believing, correctly, that it would enable Soviet citizens to see what their government withheld from them, both in terms of reading material and in terms of a free society centered on the individual, not the state.

That’s a fascinating piece of Cold War history, isn’t it?  I know about it because the WaPo has written an article about the CIA’s Zhivago operation.  And in the WaPo article, I found this (emphasis mine):

In Washington, Soviet experts quickly saw why Moscow loathed “Doctor Zhivago.”

In a memo in July 1958, John Maury, the Soviet Russia Division chief, wrote that the book was a clear threat to the worldview the Kremlin was determined to present.

“Pasternak’s humanistic message — that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state — poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of sacrifice of the individual to the Communist system,” he wrote.

Once, we were a country that used its government to advance the notion that “that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state.”  Now, we’re a Soviet nation, in which private citizens are told that they must publicly recant their heresies or be destroyed.

So, while Maher’s on the right track, he picked the wrong organization.  Yes, there’s thuggery involved, which is a mafia tactic.  But unlike the mafia, which was just in it for the money, the new Soviet is in it to subordinate the individual and his beliefs entirely to the will of the Leftist state.

Nor is this thuggery a fringe movement.  While I am very honored here at the Bookworm Room to have gay readers who understand that the safest place for all individuals (regardless of race, color, creed, gender indentification, sexual orientation, etc.) is in a nation that leaves the individual alone, I can tell you that every one of my Leftist friends on my “real me” Facebook, gay or straight, applauds the gay Soviet’s successful thuggery against Eich.  These Facebook friends are, without exception, affluent, educated, successful, and vocal, and they think it’s a great thing that a productive man who has never once been accused of fomenting any discrimination in the workplace was the target of an attack aimed at destroying his livelihood.

This time, it was the non-governmental Leftist collective that acted, but you know they were thinking how much better it would be if they could just outlaw opposing thought. Why convince someone that your position has merit when you can more easily destroy them, which has the useful feature of sending a strong message to any other heretics out there?

Let me end this post as I always do:  I think the state should get out of the marriage business, leaving it for religious and private organizations to determine what meshes with their doctrine and values.  The state should recognize civil unions in whatever way the state believes will best suit its ends.  And when I speak of the state, I don’t speak of a grand Soviet, centralized state, run by Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and Eric Holder.  I mean the state speaking through the ballot box, both in direct citizen initiatives and through elected representatives.

Traditionally, the state’s ends included children and economic stability.  In a greenie run world, where humans are the devil, maybe the state would do best to encourage only those unions that are incapable of producing even more environmentally destructive children.  Then, it’ll be the heterosexuals struggling for legal recognition of their evil child-producing mating.

Regarding what happened at Mozilla, I yield the floor to Ben Shapiro who perfectly articulates the problem with thought-crimes

Firefox logoBen Shapiro has published a post that perfectly articulates everything I want to say about the Mozilla thought-crime purge.  I therefore hope that Ben will forgive me for quoting him at some length.  After detailing the way in which Brendan Eich’s outing and subsequent destruction began with OKCupid, and then spilled over to Mozilla, Shapiro says:

Was OKCupid’s action legal? Sure.

Was Mozilla’s action in forcing his resignation legal? Of course.

Were both of them not only wrong, but morally disgusting?

Absolutely.

This is not about the issue of same-sex marriage. I have personally taken the position that the government should get completely out of the business of marriage. If two men or women want to live together and get married through any private institution of their choosing, I’m fine with that; I hold the same position with regard to one man and one woman. And TruthRevolt is obviously not attempting to crack down on pro-same-sex marriage companies – Google is pro-same-sex marriage, and yet we recommend them as an alternative browser to Firefox.

This issue is far larger than the small and parochial same-sex marriage issue. It is about the chilling of political freedom by small sects of motivated political players. It is the same issue as A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson over his comments paraphrasing the Book of Corinthians. It is the issue of McCarthyistic blacklisting and voter intimidation and ultimately, the issue of utilizing power to silence dissent. In America, we typically prize freedom of speech. And while OKCupid and company may be exercising their market power in fully legal fashion, they’re certainly advocates for quashing freedom of speech.

Imagine a world in which all gay people in America were at risk of firing thanks to religious bigots mobilizing against their perceived sins. Imagine a world in which market power wasn’t just utilized to get gay people fired, but government became a tool of the anti-gay mob. Would that be wrong? Now switch the parties. That’s reality.

[snip]

This is a fight for freedom, whether or not you agree with Eich’s political perspective. Privately-held political beliefs are no excuse for wheeling out the stocks and demanding public canings. To stop such activity, we will have to fight fire with fire.

We are not powerless in this fight. TruthRevolt will not stand idly by. Neither should you.

Sign our petition, and uninstall Firefox today.

By way of comparison and contrast, let me introduce you to the New York Times‘ take on the subject, which is that, because Mozilla wants to market itself far and wide, its best business tactic is to engage in blacklisting:

Mozilla is not a normal company. It is an activist organization. Mozilla’s primary mission isn’t to make money but to spread open-source code across the globe in the eventual hope ofpromoting “the development of the Internet as a public resource.”

As such, Mozilla operates according to a different calculus from most of the rest of corporate America.

Like all software companies, Mozilla competes in two markets. First, obviously, it wants people to use its products instead of its rivals’ stuff. But its second market is arguably more challenging — the tight labor pool of engineers, designers, and other tech workers who make software.

When you consider the importance of that market, Mr. Eich’s position on gay marriage wasn’t some outré personal stance unrelated to his job; it was a potentially hazardous bit of negative branding in the labor pool, one that was making life difficult for current employees and plausibly reducing Mozilla’s draw to prospective workers.

The post expands on that topic, but it boils down to this:  Because Mozilla employees are activists, they cannot be expected to cope in an environment that tolerates diversity of thought.

The new American blacklist — and using market forces to counter it

Firefox logoWikipedia has a working definition of the 1950s blacklist that Leftists to this day use as a banner around which to rally:

The Hollywood blacklist—as the broader entertainment industry blacklist is generally known—was the mid-20th-century practice of denying employment to screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals because of their suspected political beliefs or associations. Artists were barred from work on the basis of their alleged membership in or sympathy with the American Communist Party, involvement in progressive political causes that enforcers of the blacklist associated with communism, and refusal to assist investigations into Communist Party activities.

Summed up, a blacklist deprives seeks to destroy individuals by taking away their jobs, not because they were doing their jobs badly or using their jobs towards nefarious ends, but simply because the blacklisters do not agree with the individual’s political, religious, or other personal beliefs.

Brendan Eich, co-founder and CEO of Mozilla Firefox, a massively popular web browser, believes that the institution of marriage is a heterosexual institution. There’s no indication that he hates gays, wants to hurt gays, can’t work with gays, uses his work to destroy gays, etc. It’s just that he believes that, by definition, marriage is heterosexual. To him, when you take the heterosexual out of marriage, you’ve fundamentally changed its nature, so that it’s no longer “marriage” but is, instead, something different.

Back in 2008, at the same time that President Obama was touting his support for heterosexual marriage in order to get elected (as he did again in 2012 in order to get reelected), Eich donated $1,000 to the people backing Prop. 8, a ballot initiative in California saying that marriage is a heterosexual institution. As you may recall, at the time the “No Hate” crowd (or, as they cutely said “No8”) bypassed such things as using logic and persuasion to those opposed to gay marriage and went straight to thuggery instead. The one that sticks in my mind was the attempt to destroy the elderly Mormon owner of a El Coyote, a popular, gay-friendly L.A. eatery.

Eich’s donation was six years ago. Since then, the “No Haters” have effected a sea change in America, with state after state legalizing gay marriage. Wait, that’s not actually true. In state after state, voters have voted against gay marriage, only to have unelected federal judges say that the voters are bigots. President Obama, who stood against gay marriage as recently as his 2012 reelection, after which he suddenly “evolved” on the issue, has forced the military to recognize gay marriages, has bases hosting drag reviews, and is contemplating making the military a transsexual-friendly environment.

The “No Haters” have won the gay marriage debate (against the will of the people) . . . but victory hasn’t softened them. They still hate. That festering hatred led them (again) to do what they do best: destroying individual’s livelihoods based upon their mainstream political and religious beliefs. Brendan Eich was only the latest, most visible target. Don’t worry, though, there will be more.

Unlike the Hollywood blacklist, which was covert, the gay fascists were open in their tactics and goals. The attack on Eich started with a dating site called OkCupid, which demanded Eich’s resignation and sent to all its Firefox users a message that Eich had to be forced out of Mozilla. That would have been bad enough, but it got worse when Mozilla’s own employees also demanded his resignation. Eich resigned. The “No Haters” blacklist worked.

Upon hearing the news of Eich’s resignation, I immediately stopped using Mozilla’s Firefox. Someone asked me (quite politely) whether I wasn’t guilty of the same tactics as the No Haters. I don’t think so. I’m not demonizing any specific individual and demanding that he get fired. Instead, I’m simply saying that I’m unwilling to do business with a company that blacklists people. Until the Obama administration gets around to legislating that I must do business only with companies that fully support gay marriage – and fining me if I don’t – I’m free to pick and choose which companies suit my values. Mozilla doesn’t. I should add that my problem isn’t with Mozilla’s stand on gay marriage. My problem is with a company that happily destroys people who don’t parrot the party line.

It’s worth pointing out that the No Haters did exactly what Harry Reid is doing to the Koch brothers. In escalating and increasingly unhinged rants, Reid is demonizing and attempting to destroy individuals who refuse to accept the Democrat party as their creed. Reid, of course, is even worse than the Haters because he uses the power of his office to attack a private citizen. Unfortunately, when it comes to Reid, I have no market power to use against him. Despite his awfulness, Nevada voters keep sending him back to Washington. Thankfully, Charles Koch has finally decided to speak out. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303978304579475860515021286.html?KEYWORDS=Charles+Koch
Even if I hadn’t decided already yesterday to ditch Mozilla (which has become a lousy browser anyway over the past year or so), I definitely would have done so after reading Mozilla’s Orwellian attempt to explain how it’s inclusion and diversity meant that Eich could no longer work there because his ideas were insufficiently inclusive and diverse:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.

We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla.

What’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.

We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved.

Thank you for sticking with us.

Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman

Ace sums it all up pretty accurately:

There will be personal consequences for opposing the left. The consequences will not just be the political ones we all accept — that is, if we lose on an issue in the normal democratic process, then we lose.

We all know to accept that as the cost of being part of the American democracy.

No, the new rules are not just that you will lose on the political point, but that you will then be hounded personally for having dared to venture a contrary opinion at all.

And no one has accepted that as part of the increasingly high cost of being an American.

I’m using Safari and Chrome now. Both are managed by companies that hew Left politically and that have offered slobbering support to the Obama administration and the Democrat party. So far as I know, though, neither corporation has deliberately targeted and destroyed private individuals for failing to be good Democrats.  (Truth Revolt is also blocking Firefox access to its site and asking people to sign a petition pledging to stop using the Firefox browser. ) Apropos Firefox, let me say again that dumping it is no great sacrifice.  Over the years, it’s gotten slow, buggy, and vulnerable to malware.  I mean, really, who needs it?

Considering how meaningless marriage has become, I hereby withdraw any opposition I’ve ever had to gay marriage

Playland at the Beach fun houseFor an almost 80 year run that ended only in 1972, Playland at the Beach was San Francisco’s Coney Island.  Beginning in 1928, and subject to a few minor changes over the decades, Playland settled into the form known to City residents through its final days:  it had roller coasters, the camera obscura, a merry-go-round, and the famous Fun House, home of Laughing Sal (who now lives at the Musee Mecanique).

At its peak, Playland was a vital entertainment hub. It was bright and shiny and fun and funny. The roller coasters and the Fun House were state-of-the-art entertainment. The latter boasted a giant barrel roll; rocking, moving floors; air vents to blow up girls’ skirts; long, wavy slides; spinning floors; wavy, distorted mirrors, and all the other accoutrements of 20th century amusement park culture. You can get a sense of Playland’s attractions from this clip from 1973′s Damsel in Distress, featuring Fred Astaire, George Burns, and Grace Allen:

I went to the Fun House several times in the late 1960s and very, very early 1970s. There was still a musty magic to the slides, mirrors, vented floors, and, of course, Laughing Sal, but mostly the Fun House was a drab, depressing place. For starters, it was filthy, clotted with five decades worth of grime, made sticky from a nice Pacific Ocean salt overlay. All of the attractions were rickety. I always had the lowering suspicion that the moving, rocking sidewalk would suddenly buckle, either throwing me into the air or dropping me into some damp, spider-ridden basement.

playlandfunhouse620x618The Fun House’s clientele was no longer made up of a cheerful amalgam of families, young couples, and children old enough to go there on their on. Instead, it was overrun by screaming, usually overwrought children. It wasn’t bright and shiny. It was less Disney and more Lord of the Flies. We children ran around frantically, evidencing a grim determination to have fun in this hallowed San Francisco amusement park, a bleakness captured nicely in the picture to the right, which was taken shortly before the Fun House closed for good.

I was always delighted with the offer of a trip to the Fun House (I really liked the idea of Playland at the Beach), but I was even happier when it was finally time to go home. I invariably left there tired, dirty, overwhelmed, and both depressed and demoralized. The only magic left was the patina of age, which I was too young then to appreciate.

Sara Gilbert And Linda PerryPerhaps because my brain is wired a bit differently, I thought of Playland at the Beach when I saw this headline: “‘Roseanne’ Alum Sara Gilbert, Rocker Linda Perry Wed.” I have no idea who Sara Gilbert and Linda Perry are, so I was unexcited by their wedding (although I naturally wish them many happy years together).

Thinking about it, it occurred to me that, even if I had known who they are, I probably still would have found the headline uninteresting. Looking at the state of modern marriage, I can no longer articulate a good reason to care about other people’s weddings and subsequent married life.

Just as the Playland I knew was a faded, dirty, broken-down relic of its past, barely hinting at its former grandeur, so too is marriage today leached of the meaning that once gave it such preeminence in Western society. Historically, marriage has been an extremely important event, both at the individual and the societal level, controlling as it did sexuality, paternity, and property.

Up until our very modern era, before a girl got married, she was (in theory, at least) a sexually uninitiated child under her parents’ care. Marriage was her entry into the adult world: she left her parents; her faith and her state both encouraged her to have sex (with her husband); and she began producing and raising the next generation. For centuries, even millennia, the wedding was the single most transformative event in every woman’s life. It marked a profound change in her standing in society, from child to woman.

Victorian wedding photoWhile men weren’t necessarily the sexual innocents their wives were supposed to be, marriage was an equally life-changing event for them. They might not have been virgins, but their previous sexual relations were illicit, carried out with prostitutes or lusty widows. Any children that resulted from these relationships were not supposed to be acknowledged. They were bastards without legal rights, and the man’s obligation to care for these children was a personal decision, rather than something mandated by law or religion.

By marrying, the man got unfettered access to sex, with his church’s and his state’s approving imprimatur, and he got children that were presumptively his, with all the legal and moral responsibilities that entailed. The man’s carefree bachelor days were over, and his days of maturity and responsibility began. If he wanted to be assured that his wife’s progeny were indeed his, he’d better be a good husband.

Marriage’s centrality in pre-21st century society wasn’t just about questions of sexuality and paternity unique to heterosexual relationships. It was also an important economic relationship. For rich people, it meant the blending of fortunes or even of nations. For poor people, it meant that the man and woman formed an economic unit, with the man laboring outside of the house to bring in food or goods, and the woman laboring inside the house (and in the garden), to enable the man to work and to do whatever it took to stretch his earnings as far as possible.

In America’s past, a healthy society depended on the marriage partnership. It regularized sexual relations (and paternity issues), creating social stability and slowing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. It also increased men’s economic opportunities, thereby enhancing America’s potential economic growth, which operated to everyone’s benefit.

No wonder marriages were celebrated, not just by the participants, but by society at large. Add in the fact that traditional religions sanctify marriage, elevating it from a social and economic relationship into a covenant before God, and it’s easy to understand marriage’s preeminent position throughout Western history, generally, and American history, specifically.

Nowadays, every one of those reasons for marriage is gone. Sex is unrelated to marriage. Childbearing is controlled by birth control, abortions, and fertility rituals . . . er, fertility treatments. Paternity is determined by genetic tests. Economically, marriage is a good thing, but the state will step in and help the mother and children out if the father decides that all the responsibilities that flow from impregnating a woman are just too burdensome and too little fun. Only people who have a middle class aversion to poverty and welfare enter into marriage for economic reasons. Religions still support marriage’s importance, but many congregants seem more interested in the party than the sacrament.

Sexy wedding dressAnd of course, there’s modern divorce. Marriage isn’t a permanent commitment; it’s a relationship experiment that is easily shucked. It’s a very good thing that we no longer live in a time when only death would part a couple, leaving married people (usually women) at the mercy of abusive, insane, or absent spouses. It’s not so good a thing that we now live in a time when people divorce simply because they’re bored and want the thrill of a new relationship. (And yes, I have known people to divorce for just that reason.)

Modern marriage no longer serves any of its necessary societal functions. It’s a relic, just like the Fun House I knew as a child was a relic. What once was shiny and central to American life has become a peripheral excuse for a frenetic party. The couple standing at the altar have already had sex (with lots of people), they (with financial help from taxpayers and employers) are controlling the woman’s fertility, and they’re making financial decisions irrespective of their marital status. Societal changes, mass media, and the vast wedding industry have ensured that modern American wedding is primarily about the right dress, the beautiful cake, and the most viral wedding video.

All this means that the LGBTQ crowd is arriving at the party when the party’s already over. Looking back on my Fun House experience — high expectations in advance, followed by a disappointing reality when faced with a dusty ghost from the past — I actually feel sorry for those same-sex couples rushing to take part in an event that’s long past its heyday. As a society, we haven’t quite reached the point of Miss Havisham presiding over her long-gone wedding feast, but the decay is setting in.

The end of Playland at the Beach

The end of Playland at the Beach

Modern American marriage has become a form without substance . . . a Fun House without the fun. Given that reality, why should we care that the LGBTQ crowd is flocking to catch the tail-end of the party? Let them have their last dance as the lights dim and the tables are littered with dirty plates and half-filled glasses.

For those Americans who have a religious commitment to marriage, they should go and have that religious ceremony and live their married life in accordance with God’s commandments. And for those Americans who subscribe to the belief that the children’s well-being is best served in a stable, heterosexual relationship, they should get married (in a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque, or before a registrar) and they should stay married for the children’s sake. For everyone else, the caravan has already passed on and it’s probably long past time for the dogs to stop barking.

When it comes to stories told by gay activists, have we come to the point where we must verify before we trust?

Gay-flowerThere have been a lot of stories lately about hate-crime hoaxes that gay rights advocates have perpetrated.  Just to list a few examples, there was the waitress who falsely claimed that a receipt included a scathing gay insult along with a refusal to tip; there was the radio station that doctored an invitation to make it appear parents refused to let their child socialize with a child from a same-sex parent home; there was the massive hate-crime hoax at Oberlin, which apparently was suddenly overrun by racist, homophobic, antisemites; and, most recently, there was the transgender student at a California high school who falsely alleged a hate crime.

In addition, there’s also a trend to paint every long-dead famous person as gay.  Lincoln was gay, we’re told (he shared a bed with his business partner when they traveled through the backwoods, a common practice at the time); Norman Rockwell was gay, we’re told (he painted pictures of little boys); Florence Nightingale was gay, we’re told (she never married).  There’s no proof for any of this, of course.  Just supposition and hope.

Given that many gay rights activists don’t feel they owe any fealty to the truth, I’m suspicious of the newest uncorroborated story advancing the gay rights agenda.  This one, though, isn’t a story about hate.  It’s allegedly a story about love:  Grant Rehnberg, a gay young man, claims that, shortly before dying, his 90-year-old Baptist minister grandfather, James, who had been married for 65 years, confessed that his entire life had been a lie, that he was gay, and that a friend from his youth was his true love.  Grant has now put together an art installation — and is looking for funding — celebrating his gay grandfather (and shredding the Bible he alleges that James gave him when he was a boy).

There’s no doubt that Grant’s story could be true.  Gay people have for centuries sublimated their desires to live mainstream lives.  Just last month, I linked to a post about a gay Mormon man who has made the conscious decision (with his wife’s agreement) to live a heterosexual life.  He believes that the rewards of that life exceed that transient pleasures of gay sex.

There’s also no doubt that Grant’s story could be a bald-faced lie.  Right now, these lies tend too often to be the stock in trade for gay rights advocates — and that’s a shame.  When your cohort cries “wolf” once too often, no one will believe you anymore.  The coin of your realm has been debased, making everything suspect.

Given the rush of cheap lies and dishonest speculation, why in the world should anyone believe an unverified statement about gay love or gay hate without independent proof and investigation to support those claims?  If Grant is telling the truth,  his grandfather’s life story and decisions are certainly worth examining and understanding.  If he’s telling a lie, though, he ought to be ashamed of himself for painting a false picture of a dead man.  It would therefore be interesting to hear what other friends and family members have to say about James Rehnberg’s life and love[s].

 

Drag shows and the American military

Sailors-Dancing-on-DeckAs the picture to my left shows, there is nothing new in the American military about men in what used to be an all-male, or predominantly-male, society still trying to resurrect a simulacrum of their civilian life.  Two musicals that emerged during and immediately after World War II make heavy use of men in drag.  The one with which most people are familiar is Roger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, which revolved around sailors in the South Pacific during WWII.

Most people remember South Pacific for two reasons:  it’s principled stand against racism and the gooey hit song “Some Enchanted Evening.”  I doubt many think of the scene in which Ray Walston dresses himself up in a coconut shell bra for the amusement of his fellow sailors and Marines (starting at 3:02):

Irving Berlin made even greater use of drag performances in “This Is The Army,” the Broadway-style review he created for the Army. It’s all-male, all-Army cast toured throughout the European theater in the thick of the war, bring a great deal of pleasure to the troops.

Because it was a Broadway-style review, Berlin of course had to write parts for women. And because there were no women to be had, every female part was a drag part. I can’t find any discrete clips but the entire movie is below, with the drag scenes at 58:00, 1:08, 1:12, and 1:28.

As best as I can tell, regardless of whether individual performers and audience members were getting a homoerotic thrill from the drag performance, the purpose behind these WWII shows was entirely heterosexual: it was to fill the gap the troops felt in their lives because of the women they left behind.

That was then. This is now:

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Since the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, U.S. military bases have hosted a gay marriage ceremonies and a potluck gatherings. But on Saturday, servicemembers here may have been the first to take to the stage and perform as drag queens on a military installation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

Drag queens and drag kings, to be precise.

Six servicemembers — gay, lesbian and straight — donned heavy makeup to dance and lip sync songs such as “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” for a raucous capacity crowd at the Rocker NCO Club at Kadena Air Base. The event was a fundraiser for the recently formed Okinawa chapter of OutServe-SLDN, which is the largest nonprofit advocate for the military’s LGBT community.

[snip]

But an initial 200 tickets were plucked up almost immediately, so they issued another 200.

“We ended up selling 400 tickets in 10 days,” she said.

Amid the unexpected success, OutServe carefully avoided any mention of politics, but its variety show comes at a pivotal time for gay civil rights in the United States, with many states passing laws dealing with marriage or debating individual liberties.

It is also a sign of the times within the military; just a few years ago, gay and lesbian drag performances on a military base would have been unthinkable and potentially a cause for dismissal from the service.

The repeals of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, as well as the Defense of Marriage Act — the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages — have allowed gays and lesbians in the military to be open with their sexuality for the first time.

The historic shift appears to be mostly accepted and embraced throughout the ranks despite warnings the DADT repeal could harm order and good discipline.

On Saturday night, the Rocker club was packed for performances by servicemembers using stage names such as Chocolate Sunrise – a crowd favorite — and Artemis Faux. The event’s sole lesbian performer took the drag king name Manny Nuff.

I think Irving Berlin, Richard Rogers, and Oscar Hammerstein would be surprised.

I leave to your personal beliefs whether this is a change for the better or not, insofar as American military health is concerned. I just note that the military’s focus has changed a lot in the last seventy or so years.

The Left turns the idea of same-sex couples having babies into a shallow fashion statement

Elton John babyLast week, I posited that gay parenting has a problematic biological component that the Left assiduously ignores — or, more accurately, it has a lack of a biological component that the Left assiduously ignores. In any gay parenting relationship, at least one of the parents is a step parent, something that might explain why a recent study shows that children raised in same-sex households are less likely to go to college. History shows that (subject, of course, to individual differences), step parents don’t do as well as biological parents when it comes to the children in their care.

At the time I wrote my post, I was unaware that the New York Times had published a very excited article about gay parenting.  I was probably unaware because it published the story in its “Fashion and Style” section, which I never read.  The Times was just thrilled that affluent, beautifully dressed older gay people could spend lots of money to create children through science, not biology.

Before I address the Times‘ peculiar placement of that article — which is the main point I want to make in this post — I need to address some of the issues about same-sex parenting that the Left refuses to discuss.

In earlier post about issues connected with same-sex parenting, I focused on the possible problems arising from the step parenting aspect of same-sex child-rearing.   Rivka Edelman, who grew up with two fathers, writes about another problem with same-sex parenting — misogyny and misanthropy:

Sometimes I feel like such a stickler. I am not nitpicking when I say there was a mistake in the pages of The New York Times Fashion and Style section, piece, “And Baby Makes Three.”

We must fall on the side of intellectual honesty. That title should have read, “four,” or “five,” if one were to consider the actual human females involved in the production line of surrogacy these days.

The Times’ telling omission reflects something ominous, the deep misogyny of a gay male community, which in turn has been accepted and championed by many people who consider themselves progressive.

[snip]

Well, that dog doesn’t hunt. I grew up in a gay household and I know the arguments better than I know the pledge of allegiance. So save it. All of it– the missives, the threats. Don’t prove my point to people about loving the gay community. They will turn and tear their own to shreds in a heartbeat. Because the fragile narrative has to be protected at all costs. Family is a photo op. And children are props.

Let’s not kid ourselves about the cute photograph affixed to this New York Times article: That kid is not related to both of the “Daddies.” That child has been denied one parent so that men could prove that two men can play at baby-making—and ironically the men needed two women to do it.

The misogyny that Edelman talks about is the erasure of women from the equation.  Who needs women in this brave new world?  What Edelman could also have said was that, when lesbians have babies, men have been erased from the equation.  Who needs men in this brave new world?

When I started reading Edelman’s piece and saw it was about misogyny, I actually assumed it would head in a different direction:  How well does a man who finds women repulsive manage to parent a little girl and how well does a woman who finds men repulsive manage to parent a little boy?

Although it came to me as hearsay, I once heard from a very reliable source (who got it from the horse’s mouth) a dreadful story about a little boy born to one of two women in a lesbian relationship.  Because she was the biological mother, he felt a physical affinity for her and wanted to cuddle her.  Because she found men revolting, she could not bear to have him — her own son — touch her.  When he was a little boy, whenever he sought comfort from her, she didn’t rebuff him directly.   Instead, she held herself rigid (rather like someone with a tarantula crawling up his leg) waiting for the moment he would go away.  (I’ve heard that the same is true for some — not all, but some — women who raise a child who resulted from rape.)

I recognize that anecdote is not the same as data, but I do wonder about the “opposite sex” dynamic in a LGBTQ household.  Growing up in San Francisco, I had many, many gay friends.  The friendships were peculiar.  These men sought me out, which was flattering because these men were intelligent, and witty, and just fun to be around.  (Two of them had a moral decency that still has me rank them among the best people I’ve ever known, and that was true despite the fact that, before I knew them, they had been promiscuous members of the San Francisco leather scene.)  Many, although not all, of them were also complete bitches about women, constantly criticizing how women looked and acted.  It was as if these men were competing with the women, proving through their verbal attacks that they were better at being female than the women were.

My Dad summed it up best for me.  Back in the 1970s, looking at the hideous clothes women wore and the openly gay designers who created those fashions, he asked, “Why in the world would women want to be dressed by people who find them repulsive, or at least unappealing, at a fundamental sexual level?”  Good question and one that should interest all people of good will, gay or straight, who look at the gay parenting trend.

I’ve known fabulous same-sex parents and horrific biological parents.  Again, anecdote is not data, and my incomplete little samples prove nothing.  They just raise questions.  Nevertheless, considering the gay marriage and gay parenting debates roiling our society, it’s criminal that we’re not even allowed to ask these questions.  If we dare to raise them, we’re shouted down as “haters.”

Peculiarly enough, I don’t see myself as a hater.  Instead, I see myself as a “seeker” — someone who is witnessing profound changes in our society and who would like more information about the data underlying those changes. Indeed, when I ask and answer my questions, I come out pretty darn libertarian on the subject of gay parenting.

For example, if I found out that 25% of gay men who parent girls hate their daughters, would I say that’s a reason to oppose all gay men from parenting?  Or, conversely, if 25% of all lesbian women parenting sons hated boys, would that be a reason to oppose gay parenting?  No.  Emphatically not.  In terms of the broad bell curve of all parenting, those numbers, while tragic, are insignificant.  The number of children cruelly abused at the hands of heterosexual parents (both biological and step parents) makes it plain that nature is cruel to children and that the inevitable unlucky ones will find themselves at the hands of cruel, careless, horrible people.

I’d still be libertarian even if solid data showed that, at the highest point of the bell curve, it’s very clear that boys raised by lesbians and girls raised by gay men have significantly worse outcomes than comparably situated children when it comes to drug use, suicide, alcohol abuse, lifetime earning, etc.?  Even with that data, I don’t think that’s a reason to stop child-rearing in the LGBTQ community.  Take away gay parents, and there will still be children, raised in both functional and dysfunctional homes, who turn to drug use, suicide, and alcohol abuse, and who end up in poverty.  There will always be dysfunctional homes and sad children.

If I’m so libertarian, why am I concerned about that fluffy New York Times article and why am I asking the questions in the first place? The answer is that I’m trying to put the breaks on the Left’s thrill-a-minute approach to the sheer excitement of gays having babies.  Let me state again what I said at the beginning of this post: The New York Times put the story about gay designer babies in its Fashion and Style section, along with articles about the latest from the Paris design houses.  This bespeaks a profound lack of seriousness about a very serious subject — namely, the societal embrace (as opposed to the legal embrace) of parenting relationships that may be damaging for children.

Gay parenting as a fashion statement

For those members of the LGBTQ community who desperately want a child, my libertarian soul says “go for it.”  But for those who see — indeed, are encouraged to see — a child as the latest, trendy fashion accessory, I am utterly appalled that we live in a world where no one is standing athwart the barricades yelling “Stop and think about this first.”

When I stop and think about the New York Times‘ latest fashion trend, you know what I think of?  Black teen mothers in the inner city.  In the late 1980s or early 1990s, before political correctness made the topic impossible to raise, NPR did a report about black teen girls having babies. There are still stories about that problem today, but they’re always couched in Marxist terms involving black oppression at white hands. (And, considering the staggering numbers of black babies getting aborted, there are almost certainly fewer black teen mothers, making such stories less compelling.)

What made this “old time” NPR report different, was that it focused on the dynamics within the community itself. What I remember was that the story revealed was that having a baby was a statement about style and popularity. While the boys just wanted sex, the girls wanted those babies. They willingly got pregnant so that they could pick out a cool name (this was the era of those made-up faux-African names), have a baby shower (cool gifts), and otherwise take on the social status of a teen mother who was “hot” enough to attract a guy willing to impregnate her.  It was also a story about low self-esteem and loneliness, both of which these unhappy girls thought would be alleviated if they had a mini-me.

To the extent that the New York Times is using its fashion pages to encourage same-sex couples to have babies, then the LBGTQ baby-making community is no better than the inner city teens at the end of the last century. One does not have babies to be stylish, cool, avant-garde, edgy, or whatever else the fashion mavens want from this life. One has them because biological reality demands it (traditional same-sex couples) or because one genuinely wants the task of loving, caring for, supervising, worrying about, and educating a malleable little creature to become a good adult. It is extremely hard work. It’s a 24/7 job that requires constant vigilance, values, and energy. It’s not a purse that you carry around proudly for a season and then put in the closet.

In addition, if those gays living in their hermetically sealed gay communities (as almost all of my gay friends started to do once they became politically radicalized) feel that their lives are empty, and that a baby will fill in that space, they will learn what those black teens learned:  a baby will not fill the emptiness in your own soul.  Instead, the terrible thing is that you nurture that same emptiness in your baby.

Let me repeat:  Babies are not fashion statements.  But by stifling debate, the Left can sell the notion through its fashion pages.  This is a terrible thing.  How terrible?  You can get some insight into what happens to kids who are born to parents who have them for reasons of fashion, not love, read the chapter about Hollywood parenting in Andrew Brietbart’s and Mark Ebner’s Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon — The Case Against Celebrity. It will make your skin crawl.

A free society lets people have babies if they want babies.  A sick society hides from people the potential downsides of this decision, both for them and the baby, and encourages them to think of babies as nothing more than the latest trendy jacket.

(Note:  Regarding the photo of Elton John, his partner, and their first baby at the head of this post, I should say that I like and respect Elton John.  He’s a grandfather to his own children, but he’s also proven over the years that, after an exceptionally decadent and self-destructive few decades, he’s come out on the other side with a lot of stability and common sense, both of which make for good parenting decisions.)

Should the gay marriage debate include the biological reality of parenting versus stepparenting?

cinderella_sitting_in_the_ashes_by_dulac_print-r16c185ce0b2f4152b4c244a92067bde3_2vuj_8byvr_512The “Cinderella effect” posits that, for atavistic reasons, stepchildren tend to fare less well than biological children.  That’s not always the case, of course.  There are utterly vile biologic parents and wonderful, loving stepparents (as was the case with Abraham Lincoln’s stepmother).

The data for the Cinderella effect comes from analyses of child abuse statistics — and it turns out that, more often than is the case with biological children, stepparents tend to abuse the other parent’s child (hyperlinks and footnotes omitted):

In the early 1970s, a theory arose on the connection between stepparents and child maltreatment. “In 1973, forensic psychiatrist P. D. Scott summarized information on a sample of “fatal battered-baby cases” perpetrated in anger (…) 15 of the 29 killers – 52% – were stepfathers.” Although initially there was no analysis of this raw data, empirical evidence has since been collected on what is now called the Cinderella effect through official records, reports, and census.

For over 30 years, data has been collected regarding the validity of the Cinderella effect, with a wealth of evidence indicating a direct relationship between step-relationships and abuse. This evidence of child abuse and homicide comes from a variety of sources including official reports of child abuse, clinical data, victim reports, and official homicide data. Studies have concluded that “stepchildren in Canada, Great Britain, and the United States indeed incur greatly elevated risk of child maltreatment of various sorts, especially lethal beatings”. Studies have found that not biologically related parents are up to a hundred times more likely to kill a child than biological parents.

Powerful evidence in support of the Cinderella effect comes from the finding that when abusive parents have both step and genetic children, they generally spare their genetic children. In such families, stepchildren were exclusively targeted 9 out of 10 times in one study and in 19 of 22 in another. In addition to displaying higher rates of negative behaviors (e.g., abuse) toward stepchildren, stepparents display fewer positive behaviors toward stepchildren than do the genetic parents. For example, on average, stepparents invest less in education, play with stepchildren less, take stepchildren to the doctor less, etc. This discrimination against stepchildren is unusual compared to abuse statistics involving the overall population given “the following additional facts: (1) when child abuse is detected, it is often found that all the children in the home have been victimized; and (2) stepchildren are almost always the eldest children in the home, whereas the general (…) tendency in families of uniform parentage is for the youngest to be most frequent victims.”

This data, which had been floating around in my mind for some years, surfaced when I read Dennis Prager’s defense of traditional male-female marriage.  His main point was that the federal courts are diligently working against the will of the people nationwide when they rule that homosexual marriage is identical to heterosexual marriage.  As you would expect, Prager makes excellent arguments supporting the traditional view of marriage — and, probably to the consternation of the Leftist haters, he never denigrates a same-sex couple’s ability to have a stable, loving relationship nor claims that gays should be marginalized, criminalized, or stigmatized.  Instead, Prager looks at the nature of marriage as a biological construct and at marriage’s role through history.

The starting point for Prager’s analysis is the decision that Judge Vaughn Walker wrote for the 9th Circuit overturning the will of California voters who believe that marriage should be reserved for men and women.  In the context of his analysis, Prager took Vaughn to task for ignoring reality:

Walker: “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

Yes, without in any way reducing the worth or the decency of any gay human being or dismissing the depth of same-sex love, California, like the rest of the world, has indeed believed in the superiority of man–woman unions. Not in the superiority of straight men and women as people: The gay human being is created in God’s image every bit as much as the straight human being; and there are gays who have led vastly more moral lives than many straights. But regarding how the family — the building block of society — should be constituted, the civilized world has always believed that it should be based on a married mother and father.

Society has also believed in the superiority of mother–father families to single-parent families; and that, too, never meant that every married person is inherently superior to every single person.

It was that last sentence that triggered my memory of the Cinderella effect.  We know that, statistically, two-parent families are economically best for children.  We also know that, statistically, children raised by same-sex parents are less likely to graduate from high school.  A high school degree or higher has traditionally been associated with better economic prospects.

What occurred to me after reading about mother-father families is to wonder whether anyone has ever looked at the Cinderella effect as it relates to gay families.  After all, there’s no getting around the fact that, even if one partner in a same-sex family provides the sperm or egg for a child, the other does not.  I’ve known lesbian couple where one provided the egg and the other the uterus, and gay couples where each provided sperm for non-identical twins carried by a surrogate mother, but I do not know of any case in which two men or two women have produced (or can produce) a child that they’ve both genetically parented.  This means that, in a same-sex relationship, one parent is always the genetically-unrelated stepparent.

I also don’t know of any study that’s looked at the Cinderella effect in the context of gay parenting.  Indeed, I doubt that anyone could conduct such a study, since the premise is offensive to those who claim that there is no difference between same-sex parenting and heterosexual parenting.  I don’t know.  I think it would be fascinating to compare similarly situated heterosexual and homosexual parents.  The comparison groups would presumably have to be (a) straight couples who have biologically related children; (b) straight couples with stepchildren; (c) straight couples with adopted children; (d) gay couples with adopted children; and (e) gay couples where one partner is genetically related to the child/children and the other is not.

Follow-up to my post about the gay rights movement (as distinct from gay rights)

Obama First Gay PresidentMy post the other day about the gay rights movement didn’t touch upon the movement’s merits. Instead, I posited that the movement grates on me because the Democrats are using it as an avoidance technique to distract people’s attention from the administration’s myriad failures in every area within the executive’s scope. The comments I got from all of you were amazing.

Eidolon’s comment resonated especially strongly with me since it touches up the intellectual dishonesty, bullying, and Alinsky-ite targeting behind the whole “homophobia” movement. I therefore took the liberty of re-printing that comment here:

One thing that really gets to me about all the “gay rights” stuff is the insanity of insisting that anyone who doesn’t change their beliefs as facilely as the most hardcore advocates do is evil. Holding the view that Obama had when he was elected in 2008 is now hateful and bigoted.

I can’t understand the thinking here. There is no new factual information; there’s been no “gay gene” discovered (not that I see how that would matter either, but at least it would be something new), there’s no definitive fact that changes the nature of the situation. It’s not as though something has changed which invalidates the positions of nearly all people throughout all of history on the subject. It’s not as though it has been clearly proven that the Earth is not flat, in which case I can understand feeling that those who cling to the old view without evidence are backwards.

Besides, do they think that people like Hillary, who in the 90′s gave an impassioned speech that amounted to “how dare anyone suggest that I’m any less dedicated to marriage being between one man and one woman than anyone else,” hated gays then but suddenly stopped hating them recently? Did Obama hate gays until a couple of years ago? Or do you have to change your views constantly in order to not hate gays? It’s amazing that if you were an advocate for civil unions 10 years ago and are still one today then you went from loving to hating gays while standing still.

MLK argued successfully that racial discrimination and segregation were not consistent with the moral foundation of the United States, nor with the Christian faith. He understood that not all people who opposed him were evil, and continued making his case to them. He said that one must love others if one is to change their minds. The gay rights advocates, apparently know better; one must constantly accuse, belittle, lie to, and sue those with whom one disagrees. One should not acknowledge any evil done in the name of one’s cause, and should proudly trumpet any lies that might be useful to the cause. One need not acknowledge this his opponents are human beings, and should freely call them bigoted monsters while giving no new evidence or argument as to why he should change his view. Leaving others alone with whom one disagrees is not enough to not be evil, one must enthusiastically endorse the correct views.

Do they not see how dangerous this is? How this exact mechanism, bullying demands of acceptance without making a remotely convincing case, dismissal of all disagreement of any kind as bigotry, and rejection of the accumulated knowledge of the generations, could be used for anything at all? You could certainly use this mechanism to convince people to practice any number of awful things. This would be an excellent way to implement eugenics, population control, or other evil policies that can be made to sound nice when you don’t think about them.

I know they control the culture, so they think that would never happen. But apparently they’ve forgotten that liberals once passed Jim Crow laws and endorsed eugenics (not to mention socialism and communism). Cultural inertia meant that these practices didn’t catch on as much as they could have in America, and eventually their evil was exposed and they were discarded. Terrible, terrible damage could be done if we rush to judgement and force the views of a small elite on the general populace in this way.

I’ve finally figured out why I dislike the gay rights’ movement — and it has nothing to do with my support for gay civil rights

Obama First Gay PresidentI’ve always thought of myself as someone who’s cool about gays.  For many years, I could honestly say that many of my good friends, and some of my best friends, were gay.  I didn’t appreciate their lifestyle excesses (especially because I lost a lot of friends to AIDS because of those lifestyle choices), but I appreciated the qualities that made them my friends.  These were the same qualities I looked for in any friends, female (straight or gay) or male (straight or gay):  humor, kindness, intelligence, loyalty, etc.

Lately, though, I find myself increasingly uncool about gays and I haven’t been happy about that feeling.  I kept asking myself, “Am I a homophobe?”  My answer was, “I don’t think so, because I wish all American citizens well, and I pray for the well-being of all victimized people at home and abroad.  I don’t see where homophobia fits into that world view.”

It was Ben Shapiro’s article about the failed Sochi Olympics that made me realize what was bugging me.  It’s not the gays that bother me; it’s the way the Democrat establishment, from the White House down, is hiding behind gay rights to avoid being called upon for the Obama administration’s myriad failings in every area of domestic and foreign policy.

Here (in no particular order) are just some of the headlines that should concern the President:

Venezuela is teetering on the brink of revolution.

America is completely reliant on China and India for prescription drugs — countries that frequently provide tainted or defective medicines

Syria peace talks have failed, leading to increased tension between Russia and the United States

Islamist rebels in Africa are attacking Christians at an accelerated pace

Obamacare is proving to be a costly, destructive train wreck (no link needed for that, right?)

America’s debt now stands at $17 trillion, and that number is growing at an exponential rate

Our jobless rate is artificially low, because many people have just given up

Obama is paving the way for a nuclear Iran

The routine persecution everyone (including gays) in Muslim countries.

America is running out of clowns

Those are some pretty damn significant issues, and all of them fall within the purview of a President who owns half of Congress and who, for two years, owned all of Congress.  Moreover, this is a president who came into office with all the goodwill in the world to give him a head start on tackling big issues.

Obama and his friends, however, are not interested in big issues.  Instead, here is what the administration and its spokespeople are talking about:

Climate change, despite the fact that there’s ever-increasing evidence that the earth’s temperature hasn’t risen in almost two decades, that any change is natural and cyclical, and that we’re losing the benefit of the lovely warming period that’s made the earth so fruitful for the last few centuries.  In other word’s, climate change is a con.

Gay rights as the “unfinished business of the 21st century.”

Gay football players

Gays in Uganda (when the administration should be talking generally about the dysfunctional, corrupt Ugandan political scene)

Transgender bathrooms in California’s public schools

Gays at the Sochi Olympics

Persecution of gays in Christian countries (although persecution of gays in Muslim countries and societies continues to be the persecution that dares not speak its name)

And, of course, gay marriage, gay marriage, gay marriage

Just about the only thing lately that gets the Obama administration excited is a report of discrimination against gays anywhere in the world.

Let me be clear:  It’s morally right to take a stand against discrimination against gays, whether in Russia or the NFL or Uganda or the entire Muslim world.  No one should ever be imprisoned, murdered, beaten, fired, barred from employment, harassed, or otherwise accorded violent or oppressive treatment at the hands of the state or of fellow citizens simply because that person does not embrace heterosexuality.

My complaint, therefore, isn’t that the administration regularly takes a principled stand for gay civil rights.  My complaint is that, in addition to Obamacare (a terrible, destructive failure), and anthropogenic climate change (a non-falsifiable theory that is almost certainly a con), LGBTQ rights are the only things that excite the administration and its base. In that context, gay rights are a shell game, meant to distract the American people from the fact that the administration is routinely failing in its responsibilities to ensure that all Americans, not just gay Americans, can thrive at home.  It’s also failed to fulfill America’s traditional role (since WWII) of keeping the world a safer, more democratic place, something that benefits all people regardless of race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

The whole gay rights thing puts me off, not because I hate gay rights, but because the administration uses it as both shield and sword to ignore much more pressing matters, some of which, if they were addressed (such as rising Islamism or increasing Russian oppression), would benefit gays along with everyone else.  I don’t hate gays or gay rights; I hate false flag operations that hide policy failures with real world consequences, not just for gays, but for everyone.

As long as the Democrat establishment cynically uses gay rights as a way of avoiding the real issues, I’m going to have a negative visceral reaction every time I see yet another Democrat talking head or media figure (but I repeat myself . . .) mouthing off about gay rights issues at home or abroad.

Benghazi is not news at the Times; Michael Sam’s sexuality is

Michael SamI know this is a politically incorrect thing for me to say, but I couldn’t care less about Michael Sam’s sexuality.  If it were up to me, it wouldn’t be news at all, or it would be at the bottom of page three in the sports section. I’m not homophobic; I’m homo-disinterested.  Peculiarly enough (nowadays), I measure people by attributions other than their sexual orientation.

The New York Times, however, considers Sam’s announcement that he is gay to be major news, not non-news, and has given him lavish coverage (which I haven’t bothered to read, because I really don’t care).  As far as the Times is concerned, a gay college football player is front page news:

New York Times on Michael Sam

Think about this:  in the world of the New York Times, it’s minimally newsworthy that (a) the Secretary of State failed to provided necessary security for an Ambassador in a tremendously dangerous region, where he and three others subsequently died; (b) that the Secretary of State and the President both seem to have been AWOL while the Ambassador and three others were dying; (c) that the Secretary of State, the President, and the entire administration lied about events leading up to and including these four deaths; and (d) that the Secretary of State loudly proclaimed that none of this mattered.  The New York Times also thinks this same Secretary of State would make a stellar president.  (And maybe that’s true, if you like your presidents to be utterly unprincipled and un-accomplished.)

Considering that the New York Times styles itself the paper of record, wouldn’t you love to ask the petty, squabbling, arrogant staff there, “Just what record are you talking about there?”

Happily married man comes out as gay — and stays happily married

Gay men at San Francisco street fairGrowing up in San Francisco during the 1960s, I have very fragmented memories of an older time, when women still wore gloves, and both men and women wore hats.  Most of my solid, coherent memories start kicking in with San Francisco’s Summer of Love, which very quickly turned into its winter of degradation.  During those formative years (from about ages 6 though 16), it was common for me to see people tripping on sidewalks, lying in filth, and vomiting all over themselves.  I was also routinely assaulted and insulted by the smell emanating from these Flower Children.  Ick.

By the mid-1970s, hippies were passé in San Francisco.  The new “in thing” was the gay scene.  The libertarian part of me thought it was a wonderful thing that men and women (but mostly men) could love freely, without being afraid that they would be humiliated, beaten, ostracized, or imprisoned.  Even as the gay lifestyle flowered in San Francisco, we heard stories about gays being imprisoned in Soviet Russia for no other crime than the fact that they were gay.

Nevertheless, even though I appreciated the gay liberation movement, I was revolted by the movement’s excess.  The drug use, nudity, orgies, etc., were too reminiscent of the hippies.  I already knew the price people paid for excess.  After AIDS came along, and the stories really broke about what was going on in the bath houses, I wasn’t surprised.

When I tried to explain to people my sense of repugnance about the gay lifestyle, what I always fell back on was the fact that this type of hedonism couldn’t be good — not for society and not for the individual.  In addition, I was offended by the lack of intimacy.  Getting naked with a stranger and having drug-fueled sex is not intimacy.  Getting to know someone, loving them, sharing the highs and lows of life together, understanding what makes them tick, wishing them well — those are the ingredients for intimacy.  The gay lifestyle I saw around me was aggressively opposed to those “mundane” relationship attributes.

Growing up and working in San Francisco, I was able to see that, to too many gays, their choices have always been, first and foremost, about sex.  Without exception, every person I knew from high school who came out of the closet instantly embraced a package deal.  It wasn’t just that they selected their partners from their own sex.  It was that they suddenly only went to gay movies, had gay porn magazines in their household, hung out only with gays, and voted gay . . . which meant an increasingly hard Left political agenda.  They were no longer “Larry, a teacher and father who happens to have a male partner.”  Instead, “they were a gay man named Larry who happens to teach on the side and is proud to raise his kid in a same-sex parent home.”

This obsessive focus on sex left little room for anything else.  As the 70s and 80s demonstrated (and as is becoming true again today for a young generation of gay men), brief, intense, drug-heightened sexual encounters were like meth for the brain.  Why have a stable, loving relationship with anyone when you could go to the bathhouse, or just walk down the street, and be a sexual endorphin junkie getting hit after hit?  Even those men I knew who were in stable relationships with long-term partners weren’t monogamous.  Instead, their relationships were still about having sex with as many men as possible — provided that they shared dinner with the same man every evening.

Growing up, seeing the hippies and their drugs and orgies, and then the gays and their drugs and orgies, what I figured out was that sexual pleasure, while delightful, is not the same as the pleasure of a life shared with someone else.  We can decide what we want to have as the center of our relationships:  the sex or the intimacy.  If it’s the sex, it had better be damned good and be damned good all the time because you’ve probably got nothing else to fall back on.  If it’s the intimacy and the stability, sex is important, but much less so.  If the sex isn’t good, or isn’t good all the time, or isn’t even there at all, there may be many compensations that keep the relationship pleasurable.

All of the above is an introduction to a most amazing post from a couple of years ago, written by the proprietor of a humor blog called “The Weed.”  (H/T:  Earl.)  Its proprietor, Josh Weed, came out of the closet at this site, but in a most unusual way:  he is a gay man, happily married to a woman and, most unusually for one of these “out of the closet” confessions, he plans to stay that way.  The reason he is able to recognize his sexual attraction to men, while maintaining a stable, loving — and, yes, sexual — relationship with his wife is because of his priorities:

The truth is, what people are really asking with the above question is “how can you be gay if your primary sex partner is a girl?” I didn’t fully understand the answer to this question until I was doing research on sexuality in grad school even though I had been happily married for almost five years at that point. I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn’t understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren’t distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.

Josh also realized something really important, which is that nobody can ever have it all, something that’s especially true for gays:

One of the sad truths about being homosexual is that no matter what you decide for your future, you have to sacrifice something. It’s very sad, but it is true. I think this is true of life in general as well. If you decide to be a doctor, you give up any of the myriad of other things you could have chosen. But with homosexuality, the choices seem to be a little bit more mutually exclusive.  If you are Mormon and you choose to live your religion, you are sacrificing the ability to have a romantic relationship with a same-sex partner. If you choose a same-sex partner, you are sacrificing the ability to have a biological family with the one you love.  And so on. No matter what path you choose, if you are gay you are giving up something basic, and sometimes various things that are very basic. I chose not to “live the gay lifestyle,” as it were, because I found that what I would have to give up to do so wasn’t worth the sacrifice for me.

(You should really read the whole thing, which includes the way his Mormon parents accepted his sexuality while helping him focus on the things that matter in life.)

I am not suggesting that every gay person must replicate Josh’s decision to acknowledge his sexual attraction to men, but nevertheless commit to a relationship with a woman.  I’m simply suggesting that the gay milieu too often denies men and women the choice to have a traditional heterosexual relationship.  With its relentless emphasis on sexual identity and sex, the LGBTQ lobby puts enormous pressure on young men and women who self-identify as LGBTQ to abandon the notion of traditional intimacy in favor of a lifestyle focused solely on sexual preferences and, by extension, sexual pleasure.

The fact is that, as Josh shows, people’s sexuality is malleable, and our pleasure centers are surprisingly adaptable.  Many people can consciously choose one lifestyle over another — or, as I think happens with many young LGBTQ people — be bullied into one lifestyle over another.

Anyway, coming as I do from a background that left me with a deep distrust of hedonism, I was very impressed with Josh’s (and his wife Lolly’s) coming out post and think it is an interesting addition to the discussion about the LGBTQ community and the lifestyle choices its members make.  It’s especially interesting given that the 9th Circuit will soon be hearing arguments about the constitutionality of a California law that makes it impossible for religious people to help willing gays voluntarily transition away from the gay lifestyle.

Why Phil Robertson won’t apologize *UPDATED*

Phil-Robertson-813x1024

If Phil Robertson continues his refusal to bow down to the gods of political correctness, Lee Habeeb will have explained why:

It had never happened before. When big, powerful TV executives ask a star to apologize for what they deem inappropriate comments or behavior, the star simply complies. A team of publicists is assembled, the star does the obligatory apology tour for the press and promises never to do or say what he did or said again. Ever.

But the TV gods never met a man like Phil Robertson. Or his family. When they decided to place the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan on a non-suspension suspension for his comments to a GQ magazine writer about homosexuality, the executives at A&E created a problem.

Because this family believes in a bigger God. The same God that roughly 70 percent of Americans believe in. The Robertsons take their faith seriously, and one of the more important elements of that faith involves putting no god before theirs. Not even the suits at the big network.

Read the rest (and all of it is worth reading) here.

I don’t know about you, but I am entranced by the notion of someone who won’t be bullied into apologizing for something he believes.  Social bullying has never appealed to me.  And if you want to see how bad that bullying is, you can see that GLAAD makes old Joe McCarthy look like an amateur.

UPDATEA&E caved.  Let’s hope other conservatives will learn to stick to their guns.

 

When it comes to Norman Rockwell (“nudge, nudge”), homosexuality is in the eye of an obsessed culture

Norman-Rockwell-Triple-Self-Portrait-1960Back in the day, the Monty Python team was famous not only for its nonsense (“Dead Parrot” anyone?) but also for its edgy, modern, topical humor.  One of their most famous (and irritating) sketches was the “nudge nudge, wink wink” sketch, made all the back in 1971 (officially known as the “Candid Photography” sketch).  In it, Eric Idle played one of those awful people who believes that every word spoken is a double entendre about sex.  His character was both annoying and pathetic, as he responded to everything the stodgy, proper Terry Jones said with a leering “nudge, nudge, ya’ know what I mean?”

In 1971, that was still pretty ground-breaking stuff.  Before the 1960s, while people were thinking about sex, as people have done since time immemorial, most of them, barring New York sophisticates bathed in Freud and Kinsey, weren’t talking about it yet at cocktail parties or with strangers in pubs.  The 60s changed all that.  I vividly remember a family friend who pressed on my father a small book purporting to show that Madison Avenue had taken the famous “sex sells” dictum (pretty women in ads for everything from cars to cigars) and brought it to a whole new level with “subliminal” sexual images.  When you thought you were looking at a glass of Bacardi’s with ice, you were really seeing a subliminal image of a naked woman writhing sinuously in your rum — never mind that this invisible woman was missing three limbs and a breast.

By the end of the 1970s, the “everything is about sex” mentality had been mainstreamed.  One of the teachers who occasioned the most nervous laughter at my high school was the woman who insisted that Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are had achieved its iconic status, not because it showed a little boy safely acting out the frustration children so often feel in a grown-up world, but because Sendak had included couples copulating in the trees that are the backdrop to every image in the book.  If you didn’t see them, you weren’t looking hard enough.

Of course, once you’ve mainstreamed sex to the extent that everything is all about sex, you end up with blasé teenagers, instead of twittering, quivering, young sexual acolytes.  So where do you go from there?  Simple.  Everything is about gay sex.  That’s how gay activists manage to get headlines.  One of their big headlines was the claim that Lincoln was gay.  Their “proof” was less compelling than the certainty with which they expressed it:  in an era when it was the norm for men to have close male friendships and, when traveling, to share beds at inns, Lincoln had close male friendships and shared beds at inns.  If they could, the activists would have written QED after that one, not to say quod erat demonstrandum, but instead to say “queer everyone [who's] dead.”

The most recent entry in the “if he’s a famous dead man, he must have been gay” approach to biography is Deborah Solomon’s American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman RockwellSince Solomon spent a large part of her career at the Wall Street Journal, I’ll let that publication describe her premise:

Deborah Solomon starts her new biography of Norman Rockwell, “American Mirror,” with a joke the artist once told his therapist about a man who wants to marry an elephant. Unattainable love proved a powerful theme in the artist’s life, says Ms. Solomon. Her book’s theory: Repressed sexuality, fear of women and fascination with manhood made Rockwell’s art brilliant and his personal relationships troubled.

The 56-year-old New York writer spent more than a decade on Rockwell. This wasn’t a painter of family life, she argues, but a man seeking comfort outside conventional relationships. Of Rockwell’s 322 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, only three depict a traditional family of parents and at least two children, she says, adding that his paintings instead largely feature boys and men.

[snip]

Is your book basically saying that Rockwell was a latent homosexual?

I’m not a shrink, and I really don’t speculate about a life and a person’s psychology as a writer. As a critic, I can say when I look at his work I feel it’s possible to discern enormous homoeroticism as well as a desire to distance himself from his own desires. In his life, he did prefer male company. It was a special kind of sexual ambivalence that he may not have acted on. Do I think he had homosexual relationships? No. He goes camping and shares a bed with his assistant Fred Hildebrandt and the next morning he said, “Fred looked fetching in his pajamas.” He was very comfortable around men and he loved male bodies.

There’s more, but you get the idea.  Rockwell wasn’t actually gay . . . but he wanted to be.  In addition to the “I think he’s gay” stuff in the above interview, Solomon wrote other things in her biography that show a woman with sex on her brain.  The most bizarre theory comes when she discusses one of Rockwell’s more charming paintings.  It show a little girl on the cusp of adolescence, seen from the back, staring into a mirror.  She’s thrown her doll aside, and is longingly comparing her still childish face with a photograph of Jane Russell:

rockwell_mirror

You and I see the moment a girl leaves her childhood behind and starts preparing to function (and compete) in the world of adult women. Solomon saw something very different:

‘Actually,’ says Solomon, ‘seen from the back, she could be a boy.’ And the girl’s doll, tossed on the floor? ‘A bizarrely sexualized object. With her right hand buried in her petticoats, the doll could almost be masturbating.’

Wow!  They do say that, to a hammer, everything is a nail, and I guess to a New York sophisticate, everything is about sex (the more deviant the better), but that really is taking the whole thing to extremes.  I’m surprised Solomon didn’t throw in something about drag queens and cross dressing.

Solomon doesn’t stop with the gay subtext of little girls.  She also takes a stab at analyzing Rockwell’s famous “freedom of speech” painting:

norman-rockwell-freedom-of-speech-picture

You and I see a man free to stand up in his community and speak his mind.  Solomon sees “out and proud”:

Her take on Freedom of Speech is that the man standing is ‘unattached and sexually available. Unbuttoned and unzipped.’

It seems as if Solomon’s take on the matter is like a parlor game.  “Pick a picture, any picture, and I can spot the gay subtext.”  Rockwell’s world is no longer one of small town innocence and all-American charm.  It’s a shadowy world of cross-dressing boys, men advertising their wares for sale to other men, and even predatory pedophiles.  What!?  Predatory pedophiles?  Yes, indeedy.  Take that famous picture of a cop sitting at a soda fountain next to small boy who has, at his feet, the stereotypical early 20th century symbol of an innocent runaway:  a bundle of clothes wrapped in a handkerchief tied to stick.

Norman Rockwell's runaway

You and I see the cop using folksy charm to get the clearly well-cared for child to head back home, as the man behind the counter smiles at the scene playing about before his eyes.  Solomon sees something sleazy:

In The Runaway, a painting of a burly cop and a little boy on adjacent cafe stools, the cop leans toward the boy ‘as if to emphasize the… tenderness that can form between a grown man and a little boy… the hint of homo-eroticism’ she writes.

No doubt, were Solomon to analyze “Two Flirts” (one of my favorite Rockwell paintings), she would assure us that the fact that there are two men in the truck means that they are indeed homosexual (after all, one of them is touching the other one), and that their blatant ogling at the pretty blonde is their way of trying to pass for straight in a homophobic society:

Rockwell's two flirts

Solomon made only one mistake when she decided to “gay up” Norman Rockwell.  She forgot that there are people still alive who knew the man.  Unlike Lincoln, who had no one left behind to speak about him when the “Lincoln is gay” theory hit the airwaves, Rockwell still has living children and grandchildren, and they are not pleased to see their relative painted as a depressed and repressed homosexual.  They’ve issued a strong public statement challenging the book.  Intelligently, they’ve attacked myriad provable errors in the book, rather than just saying, childishly, “She’s wrong.  Nyah-nyah-nyah.”

The Norman Rockwell Family Agency, in light of today’s New York Times review of American Mirror the Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, is compelled to finally address the many analyses of Norman Rockwell. The Norman Rockwell Family Agency is making this final statement:

Many of the reviews of Deborah Solomon’s American Mirror The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell have accepted her account of his life and work. Her account is essentially wrong. She has neglected or misused the sources which she cites. Her use of Norman Rockwell’s autobiography, My Adventures as an Illustrator, is highly selective. As Professor Patrick Toner of Wake Forest University states in his online review on First Things.com, “Solomon has a pronounced tendency to either distort or simply ignore evidence to the contrary.”

Garrison Keillor states in today’s review, “She does seem awfully eager to find homoeroticism – poor Rockwell cannot go on a fishing trip without his biographer finding sexual overtones. Keillor comments on Solomon’s suggestion that the doll in “Girl at Mirror” could be masturbating, “Well, I suppose that Michelangelo’s “David” could “almost” be masturbating”.

On page 94 of her book, Solomon describes how Rockwell would “hang about the schools at recess . . and stop little boys on the street . .” She then comments, “Today with our awareness of pederasty scandals (meaning pedophilia) this kind of behavior might seem problematic . .” She then omits a passage just below this in the Autobiography that fully explains what really happened – after Rockwell would convince a boy to pose, they would go to ask the mother’s permission. On page 101 she comments on his relationship with his models: “The integrity of the boys was never in question. But his own character was not nearly so straightforward.” Referring to Nabokov’s novel, Lolita, Solomon writes, “In a way Rockwell was Humbert Humbert’s discreet and careful twin brother, roused by the beauty of children but (thankfully) more repressed.” Many of the reviewers have ignored the claim of pedophilia, perhaps because the suggestion of it blows the credibility of the book out of the water.

She supports this unfounded claim with another phantom theory, that Rockwell was a closeted homosexual. To link pedophilia and homosexuality in this way is offensive and clearly homophobic. We have found at least 68 of these sexual references throughout the book. On page 168 she comments on his search for costumes for his models: “. . . he did enjoy acquiring clothing from men who caught his eye, as if it were possible to acquire the less tangible parts of them as well.” Solomon now claims that sex is only a “tiny part” of her book. But sex is a major theme of the book and her phantom theories color and distort everything, including Rockwell’s entire character and her interpretations of his art. There is no way to separate her sexual theories from the rest of the book. Her take on Freedom of Speech is that the man standing is “unattached and sexually available. Unbuttoned and unzipped.” Solomon also omits from the Autobiography many accounts of Norman Rockwell’s feelings and relationships with women.

There are also many other factual errors and omissions — we have found at least 96. Again, this is something that few reviewers seem to notice — they simply do not know enough about Norman Rockwell’s life, and are too dependent on Solomon’s flawed account. She inadequately interviewed Rockwell’s three sons and therefore her account of his life is often inaccurate. She gives an incomplete account of a significant difficulty with the Post when the art editor, Ken Stuart, painted out a horse from one of NR’s covers without consulting him. Solomon omits Norman Rockwell’s difficulties when his abilities were failing — in one instance he painted portraits of the Ross Perot family and they were so badly done that Mr. Perot sent them back and NR returned his check.

Most important of all, Solomon doesn’t understand the man, who Norman Rockwell was as a person. She says “On most days he was lonesome and loveless.” This is absurd. He did not mope, was not a chronic depressive, or a hypochondriac. He went through his trials and storms as we all do, but he was someone who ultimately affirmed life. People liked Rockwell and enjoyed being with him. He was interested in people and what they had to say. On a personal note, “I always had a wonderful relationship with my father, we were especially close when I helped him with his Autobiography.”

Solomon claims that her book is based on an examination of his art and that Norman Rockwell painted mostly men and boys. We counted all the Post covers from 1916 – 1951 and all the early covers for Life and Literary Digest. There are 172 covers with girls and women, and 141 covers with boys and men. Her theory is demonstrably wrong. Norman Rockwell also did 9 covers of Santa Claus. We’re not sure in which category Solomon would place Santa.

We are troubled and mystified that the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge has endorsed the book.

This is our last word, we are no longer going to participate in the drama Solomon has created. This book says a lot more about Deborah Solomon than it does about Norman Rockwell.

Thomas Rockwell and Abigail Rockwell

For The Norman Rockwell Family Agency
Cynthia DeMonte, 917-273-1717
cynthiademonte@gmail.com

The most telling error the Rockwell’s expose is the way Solomon asserts that Rockwell’s famous post covers gave short shrift to women, and the way that a simple count proves her error:  “Solomon claims that her book is based on an examination of his art and that Norman Rockwell painted mostly men and boys. We counted all the Post covers from 1916 – 1951 and all the early covers for Life and Literary Digest. There are 172 covers with girls and women, and 141 covers with boys and men. Her theory is demonstrably wrong.”  That one deserves a true QED.

Our society’s obsession with homosexuality is not healthy.  It leads us to pervert history, science, and the values that hold a society together.  I know I sound homophobic when I say this, but I’m  not.  When I attack American Jews who have replaced the Torah with the Democrat Party platform, I don’t see myself as being either antisemitic nor self-loathing.  I believe, instead, that I am pointing out ugly mutations in a culture that, when not mutated, is a health contributor to the world.  I believe the same is true of those who reside on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning spectrum, a spectrum that is a very small part of the larger range of human sexual behaviors.

I don’t doubt that some people (such as the ones who died in Soviet gulags and Nazi concentration camps because of their sexuality) are emphatically gay, must as others are emphatically straight.  I also believe that there are lots of people who could go either way.  They’re not bisexual insofar as they do not choose to go both ways simultaneously.  Instead, at a certain point in their sexual development, they look at a lifestyle and pick the sexuality that goes with it.  In the old days, social pressure said to men, “Pick the wife, two kids, and the house in the suburbs.”  By the late 1970s and pre-AIDS 1980s, when I was watching the gay revolution play out in San Francisco, an enticing social option to men with fluid sexuality said “Pick the lifestyle that allows you 100 orgasms per night” (which was precisely what was going on in the bath houses that were such vectors for the spread of AIDS.  The queer culture, with its press to be included in American education, is trying to revamp the 1970s and early 1980s pressure regarding gay sexual orientation.

We are an unhealthy culture when we force the brilliant Alan Turing, who may well have been the most important factor in winning World War II, to chemically castrate himself, a penalty (combined with public humiliation) that drove him to suicide.  We are an equally unhealthy culture when the prism through which we view ourselves paints everything — and I do mean everything — in terms of a sexual orientation that encompasses at most ten percent of the population (and, quite probably, far less than that).  A healthy, moral society protects the outliers from discrimination, but it must shape its values around the norm.  In our case, the norm is that big bulge in the bell curve that is heterosexuality.

Freud gave Americans permission to talk about sex, all kinds of sex.  At the same time, and long before Bill Clinton re-sexualized cigars, Freud is reputed to have warned that, at least sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

 

Prancer, Dancer, and Vixen

Phil-Robertson-813x1024I linked obliquely to this video yesterday, but as the Phil Robertson matter heats up, I want to include the following Obamacare video here, with its focus on getting gay  men to sign up.  Please be warned that the video is vaguely NSFW.  There’s no bad language, nudity, or sex, but it’s full of partial nudity and gay sexual allusions that may make you and your colleagues uncomfortable.

As Dan Calabrese notes, although the government probably didn’t fund the video, it’s almost certain that taxpayer dollars funded the video indirectly.  The bigger point, however, is this one:

Now before you start disputing the comparison between this and the Phil Robertson situation, let’s get it straight. Yes, this is a video on YouTube and Phil Robertson could do one of those too. I’m talking about the broader stance of the prevailing culture. Robertson cites and embraces scriptural teaching on homosexuality, and he is suspended because A&E is “disappointed” in him for what he said. These guys prance around in a clear and unmistakable celebration of a) gay sex; and b) ObamaCare; and that’s perfectly fine because hey, what are you, some sorta bigot or something?

Please note that neither Calabrese nor I are saying this video shouldn’t have been made.  What he says, and I agree with this, is that in a truly free society, both videos get made, rather than having the one supporting traditional values get axed.

Two more things:

(1) Couldn’t they have gotten a better singer? Her voice is dreadful.

(2) Is it a coincidence in this carefully staged set piece that one of the prancers and dancers is wearing dog tags?

(I didn’t come up with my clever post title.  The friend who emailed me the link did, and it was such a delicious line that I had to borrow it.)

Thoughts on the Robertson kerfuffle

Phil-Robertson-813x1024In random order:

1.  A&E is not a government entity and is within its rights to make insanely stupid, bigoted decisions.

2.  Phil Robertson doesn’t need A&E but, judging by his show’s popularity, A&E needs him.

3.  GLAAD is a fascist organization.  A friend of mine who was watching CNN caught a GLAAD advocate said that the world is changing and Robertson needs to “…get in line.”  In other words, my friend accurately notes, GLAAD is saying that Robertson is guilty of thought crimes.  How very Orwellian.

4.  As others have noted, and contrary to the Drudge headline, Robertson did not go on a “rant,” nor did he compare homosexuality to bestiality.  What he said was (1) that, physically and emotionally, the homosexual act makes no sense to him; (2) that the Bible characterizes homosexual acts as a sin, as it does several other sexual behaviors, including adultery; and (3) that, while he’s bewildered by homosexual acts, it’s God’s responsibility, not his, to decide whether and what consequences sinful acts deserve.

5.  Nobody knows what the contract is with the other members of the Robertson clan, so it’s still up in the air whether they will be allowed to leave or to speak of Robertson’s beliefs when they start filming next year’s season.  (This year’s episodes are already filmed.)  It’s also unknown whether, contract or not, the other members will nevertheless stage a walk-out or something.

6.  You can boycott A&E if you want, but they’ll never know unless you’re a Nielson household.  The better thing to do is to boycott companies that advertise on A&E.  Indeed, the best thing to do is to copy GLAAD and other “queer rights” organizations, and to make the advertisers completely miserable.  Remember — always follow the money.

7.  It amazes me that our “first gay president” hasn’t yet waded in this matter.  It is, after all, the only issue that seems to stiffen his backbone.

8.  One wonders if there are enough people left in America who care enough to push back against these attacks on speech and faith.  I know there are people who care, of course.  I’m just wondering whether there are still enough of them, and they are exercised enough, and powerful enough, to make a difference.

For more on this, I recommend Noisy Room’s take.

I’ve finally figured out the secret for getting Obama to support Israel *UPDATED*

NewsweekLogo-1 [Converted]Since his first day in office, Obama has both passively and aggressively sought to undermine Israel. Unfortunately, he’s proven to be very good at that, which stands in stark contrast to his administrative ineptitude with Obamacare. Under Obama’s watch, Iran is getting near the nuclear bomb; the idea of a multinational Israel is gaining traction, even though it will probably have the same effect as Iran’s bomb; and Kerry, knowing that Israel is on the ropes now that Obama abandoned her on Iran, is pushing his advantage, to Israel’s disadvantage.

It’s time for Israel to think outside of the box, and I might have figured out a workable strategy. To appreciate this strategy, we need to go for a bit of nation hopping, first to India and then to Russia. The answer to Israel’s survival lies in Obama’s dealings with those two nations.

When you have weak leadership, whether in a business or a country, all the dams break — everything flies apart.  The latest entry in this category is America’s row with India.  America arrested an Indian diplomat, something that always creates a kerfuffle because of diplomatic immunity.  Worse, America treated this diplomat as it would any arrestee, by doing a full body (and body cavity) search.

In the old days, India would have objected strenuously and perhaps sent a few diplomats home.  That was when America was a country to be both feared and respected.

In Obama’s America, however, things are different.  Very, very different:

New Delhi cops used tow trucks and a backhoe to dismantle the American Embassy’s long concrete barriers — which are designed to prevent cars from speeding up to its gates in front of the compound.

In other words, in a nation that’s been subject to its own appalling Muslim attacks, the Indian government just declared open season on the American Embassy.  One assumes that, in doing this, it know precisely how careless Obama’s State Department is when it comes to protecting its outposts overseas.

As the Jews say at Passover, “Dayenu,” meaning “it would have been enough.”  But India wasn’t content to stop there when it came to thumbing its nose at the world’s “super power”:

In other acts of aggression:

  • Several India officials boycotted a scheduled powwow with a US congressional delegation visiting this week.
  • Authorities demanded back special ID cards they issue to US Embassy workers and their families for certain privileges and halted the importing of goods such as alcohol to their commissary.
  • Officials vowed to probe the legal status of household help used by US Embassy workers — and what those employees get paid.
  • One political leader even suggested locking up the domestic partners of gay diplomats in retaliation for Khobragade’s arrest — following a ruling last week from India’s supreme court that essentially made homosexuality there illegal.

If the Indian government had merely removed embassy security, demanded the return of special ID cards, and looked into the legal status of household help, you can be absolutely certain that Obama would have contented himself with issuing one of his government’s mealy-mouthed threats that, at a future date, it will issue threats. (i.e., “The United States is very disturbed about the Indian government’s actions and is contemplating writing a letter of protest in which it promises that, should these actions continue, it will send more letters, with more strenuous protests, including the use of the words ‘dismayed’ and ‘upset’.”)

This time, though, the Indian government went a step too far. Let me explain:

Think about Obama’s past responses to international provocations. Kill a US Diplomat and three other Americans? The Obama government apologizes for the fact that we made videos and then lies about everything else. Go forward with a nuclear program that can destabilize the world and liquidate the Jews? Obama sends money. Use poison gas against thousands of your citizens? The Obama government enters into a partnership with you.

But insult gays? Whoa, Nellie! That’s when the fecal matter hits the fan in the White House. Showing the first sign ever that he possesses functional cojones in international affairs (at least when dealing with any country other than Israel), Obama has taken on the Russian government because of the latter’s wholesale attack against homosexuals:

The White House delivered a strong message of opposition to Russia’s anti-gay laws Tuesday with the announcement of its delegation to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.

The White House delegation will include an openly gay athlete: tennis great Billie Jean King.

It will not include the president, first lady or the vice president, all who headed the previous four Olympic delegations, or a cabinet secretary, only a former one. This marks the first Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games that a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or former president has not been a member of the delegation for the opening ceremony, which will be Feb. 7 in Sochi.

[snip]

Gay rights groups viewed the announcement as a strong statement. Andre Banks, the executive director of All Out, said, “It’s hard to look at this delegation without seeing it as a criticism of Putin’s anti-gay laws. … What it’s doing is showing the true power of the Olympics, the ability to move people, to change people’s minds and open them up to new ways of thinking. The delegation is shining a light on the values of the Olympics.”

You realize, of course, what this means. If Israel wants to gain Obama’s sympathy and have him stand at her side, instead of stabbing her in her back, she better act quickly to change her flag:

Israeli rainbow flag

That ought to make the Obama administration finally “feel the love” for that small democratic Jewish outpost in the middle of the genocidal Muslim world.

UPDATE:  Believe it or not, Pajama Guy should be part of this post.  I showed the tweet to a teenager of my acquaintance asked her if the guy pictured was the type of image that would make her buy a product.  “No,” she said.  “He looks gay.  I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m not talking smack about gays, but I wouldn’t want to buy something just because he’s selling it.”

UPDATE II:  More on the “gays as Obama’s natural constituency” meme.

Why a healthy society should resist the new generation of gender-neutral pronouns

You can cut off Thomas Beatie's breasts and give him hormones to grow a beard, but he's not a pregnant male, he's a bearded, breast-less pregnant female

You can cut off Thomas Beatie’s breasts and give him hormones to grow a beard, but he’s not a pregnant male; he’s a bearded, breast-less pregnant female

I understand that language changes.  We don’t speak like this anymore:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Or like this:

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Or even like this:

Look at the gams on that dame — and that chassis.  Hot diggity-dog!  She’s the bee’s knees.  This sheik wants to spend some time with that sheba.

Nevertheless, fossil that I am, I find disturbing the fact that the young generation is trying to define away biological reality.  On the same day that we learn (yet again) that men and women don’t only have different hardware (that is, their physical attributes), but also an entirely different operating system (their brains are wired differently), Breitbart reports that the younger generation is trying to introduce gender-neutral pronouns into the English language:

For those who revere clarity in the English language, be prepared; there are a number of young people who are now preferring to eschew the two traditional pronouns for human beings, “he” and “she,” and choosing instead to identify their gender by such terms as “they,” “ze,” sie,” “e,” “ou,” and “ve.”

This may come as a surprise to these politically-correct, non-heteronormative statists, but English already has a gender-neutral pronoun: IT.  Of course, calling someone who is neither male nor female an “it” seems to dehumanize them, so I can see why activists insist on change.  I’m just not willing to go where they’re going with this type of assault, not only on the English language, but on reality.

Take Chaz Bono, for example, someone who seems like quite a nice person.  Chaz has female plumbing under the skin and, thanks to surgery and hormones, a vaguely male appearance at a superficial level (scanty facial hair, no breasts, and goodness knows what external plumbing).  Chaz doesn’t want to be called “she,” but it’s denying reality to call Chaz “he.”  When I write about Chaz, I avoid pronouns, which allows me to respect Chaz’s choice without doing damage to reality or to the English language.

Incidentally, Chaz has come in for some flack lately from “Stephen Ira,” who was born the daughter of Warren Beatty and Annette Benning.  As did Chaz, Stephen took hormones and had surgery to change a female body into one resembling a male body.  As far as Stephen is concerned, Chaz is trouble because Chaz actually clings to antiquated notions about “male” and “female.”  According to Chaz (and I think accurately), the mismatch between a body’s gender and a brain’s gender identification is a form of birth defect.  Stephen took umbrage, writing that Stephen does not feel that, in Stephen’s own case, this mismatch was a birth defect.  Worse, says Stephen, Chaz “is a trans man who seems to believe that his female-assignedness and socialization makes him immune from being a misogynist, and he is manifestly wrong.”  So there!!

I have nothing but sympathy for people whose sense of self, which comes from the brain, is so at odds with the body attached to that brain.  Some people with this disconnect get eating disorders, some people get disfiguring plastic surgery, and some people alter their body’s external appearance to bring it in line with the message their brain sends to them.  While I don’t applaud those with body dysmorphia who starve themselves or throw-up, or who turn themselves into monstrous caricatures through surgery, I don’t see a problem with using surgery and meds to create the illusion of a different gender (although studies show that happiness is not an inevitable sequel to surgery to alter gender appearance).

The fact that I support the fact that some people people take proactive steps to improve their own reality does not mean that we as a society must deny reality.  Denying reality, however, is precisely what this bizarre gender-neutral language is trying to do.  As a percentage of the whole population, there are very few boys who will be girls and girls who will be boys.  The rest of us are pretty clearly round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square holes, and our English language accurately reflects this actual, rather than politically-correct, reality.

 

Another Progressive showdown between ideology and reality

I was in San Francisco during the peak AIDS years.  I remember how death stalked the streets (many, many people I knew died) and I remember how deeply in denial the gay community was.  The most visible sign of that denial was the fight to keep open the gay bath houses, which were scenes of unbridled debauchery and major vectors in spreading AIDS.  There was nothing untoward in the city’s trying to shut the bathhouses down, since the city’s efforts to control an epidemic’s spread fell squarely within government’s traditional role.

At the New Yorker, Michael Specter has written an article that reports something that people familiar with the modern gay community tend to notice on an annual basis:  young gay men have forgotten the scourge, and are repeating the pattern of unbridled, unprotected, promiscuous sex (on a scale heterosexuals cannot imagine) coupled with drug use.  It’s how AIDS gained such a foothold in America last time, rather than living on only in dusty medical journals, and it’s a worrisome sign that AIDS could be resurgent or that something equally awful could take its place (especially today, when we’re reaching limits on our antibiotics).

Specter’s article heads today’s New Yorker’s “most read” list.  It therefore makes a nice matched set with today’s news, which is that men who are openly gay and bisexual are trying to end the ban on blood donations:

A push by activists to ease the 30-year-old blanket ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men faces a key test this week as a federal panel hears results of the latest research. The findings will be released amid growing pressure from politicians and advocates, including college students, to change the policy.

Critics say the ban is a hangover from the early, fear-filled days of AIDS, stigmatizing gay men and ignoring advances in treatment and detection in the decades since.

Yes, the blood-donation ban is a hangover from the early days of AIDS, and yes, we have better techniques for screening blood . . . for HIV and AIDS.  Given that gay men are engaging in the same behavior that led to AIDS’ rapid spread, though, it’s sensible to worry that they might be acting as the vector from some nasty new disease for which we don’t yet have either screening techniques or treatments.

(I’ve sometimes wondered if my resistance to gay marriage doesn’t stem from the fact that I remember vividly the 1970s and early 1980s in San Francisco. Gay activists over the past twenty-plus years have advanced the gay marriage agenda by painting gay couples as ordinary middle class couples. That’s not the way I remember them. People having drug-fueled orgies with up to a hundred partners, all of them strangers, is not the middle class norm. The San Francisco Gay Pride parade does not present the middle class norm. The public nudity and sex that is a strong feature of the San Francisco gay scene is not the middle class norm. While there are indeed stable middle class gay couples — I know several such couples — I also know that they’re not the norm.)

Andrew Breitbart was right about the culture

My daughter went to our local library this weekend and brought home a bunch of the library’s recent acquisitions for teens.  The inside jacket blurb describes them as fantasy or high school relationship books.  My daughter said to me, “I don’t know why it is, Mom, but they all turn out to be about lesbians.”  Since she’s neither L or G or B or T or Q, I’m not concerned that these books will “turn” her.  Certainly, though, they’re creating an intellectual dynamic that tells teenage girls where to look for real romance.

I had that in mind when I looked at the New York Times’ movie review page today.  I don’t read reviews anymore, and I never go to movies, and I seldom watch movies, but I occasionally glance at the review page to see what’s going on.  I was much struck by the page’s content:

1 2 3 4 5

One gets the feeling that filmmakers and the New York Times are advancing an agenda.

Andrew Breitbart was right that, because of media’s far reach, culture and politics flow downhill from it, with downhill being the operative word.

Found it on Facebook: Muslim “minority ” views and sexual identity

1.  One of my conservative friends posted this on Facebook:

Minority rights in Muslim countries

2.  And one other great find on Facebook, apropros Bradley Manning’s announcement that, henceforth, he is to be known as a girl named “Chelsea”:  “Breaking news! Due to an administrative error today, Bradley Manning was martyred and Maj Hassan was given gender reassignment surgery.”

As for me, I’m wondering whether the Left might not think it the slightest bit embarrassing that one of their treasured “gender confused” people committed treason against America.  Oh, never mind!  I keep forgetting that, on the Left, treason against America is a good thing.

As for me, I’m not the first and won’t be the last to say that Monty Python got it when it came to gender transformations:

Maybe you’re just not as interesting as you think you are

The online magazine IndieWire has noted something interesting:  movies with gay leading characters aren’t doing big box office.  In the 90s, movies such as The Birdcage (based on the audience tested La Cage aux Folles), Philadelphia (about the still-headlining catching scourge AIDS), and In & Out (with a pleasing Kevin Kline as a gay teacher trying to hide in the closet) were big sellers.  In the first decade of the 21st century, the numbers went even higher with Brokeback Mountain (surely one of the most demoralizing movies about gays ever made), which grossed over $80 million in 2005.  Other gay-themed movies didn’t do as well in that decade (topping out in the $60 million range with Sacha Baron Cohen’s gross-out Bruno), but they were still bringing at least $30 million each.

In the last few years, though, gay themed movies (that is, movies with the main protagonists being gay), have failed to bring in the big money.  IndieWire assembles the numbers:

Top Grossing Films With Lead LGBT Character (2010-present)
1. The Kids Are All Right (2010) – $20,811,365
2. I Love You, Phillip Morris (2010) – $2,037,459
3. Farewell My Queen (2012) – $1,347,990
4. I’m So Excited (2013) – $1,216,168
5. La Mission (2010) – $1,062,941

Even the highest grossing of the bunch couldn’t match the lowest grossing gay-themed movie from a decade earlier, well the remaining ones couldn’t even get into the high single digits (when counting by millions).  So what happened?  IndieWire offers five theories, only the fifth of which I’ll quote in its entirety:

1. There’s just not as much of a need for these films anymore. [snip]

2. There are less LGBT films being made, so there will clearly be less of them grossing $1 million. [snip]

3. There are less marketable LGBT films being made. [snip]

4. All the good LGBT representation is on TV.  [snip]

5. The market has simply changed. Here’s where the most significant answer lies, and it very much encompasses the last 4 explanations as well.  The economic world of film is vastly different in 2013 than it was in 1993 or 2003.  Back in the 1990s, studios were making the kind of mid-budget films in which “Philadelphia,” “In & Out, “The Birdcage” and “To Wong Foo” encompass. Then in the 2000s when studios all had started specialty divisions (like Universal’s Focus Features and Fox’s Fox Searchlight), LGBT content seemed to be delegated there with smaller budgets (like with “Brokeback Mountain,” “Kinsey,” “Milk,” and “Capote”).  Nowadays, even those kind of $15-$20 million budgeted LGBT films are rare.

I think that the “market has changed” theory is on the right track, but it’s too narrow an analysis.  The problem for blockbuster gay-themed movies isn’t just the “type” of movies being made (i.e., big budget versus small, art film versus action, etc.).  It seems to me the audience just isn’t that interested anymore.  Depending on which statistics you believe, a generous count is that the entire LGBT spectrum, from “L” all the way through “T” makes up at most 10% of the population.  Straight women who want romances or rom-coms aren’t going to want to see gays or lesbians as the main characters.  Straight men who want action movies aren’t going to be interested in anything but a macho lead, because the little boy part of each men still thinks that, under the right circumstances, he too can be that hero.  Teen boys through to young men in their early 20s, who seem to be homophobic no matter how gay-friendly and supportive their community is, will watch gay stuff only in the context of gross-out sex and feces jokes, a la Bruno.

The gay-themed movies of the past had broad audience reach for reasons very specific to those movies:  Some, like Philadelphia spoke to very big issues with which society was struggling.  Others, like The Birdcage and In & Out, had brilliant (and, I might add, straight) comedic actors with great scripts that happened to tap into a time when audiences still got a sort of thrill from being hip enough to watch a gay-themed movie.  Brokeback Mountain?  Great acting and a serious plot about pathetic human beings.  That’s got to appeal to the nation’s “elite” movie-goers.  Also, it was a sufficiently serious movie that people who would normally only be willing to watch gays in a comedic context could contemplate the spectacle of watching R-rated gay sex in a movie theater without any laugh lines.  (Incidentally, effeminate comic figures have been in Hollywood movies since the dawn of talkies; other than that, they stayed discretely locked away, both on screen and off.)

But now, for the majority of straight Americans, the thrill is gone.  Gays are indeed ubiquitous on TV.  They’re also pushing to the forefront of the media everywhere, in numbers disproportionate to their representation in the American population.  The vast number of Americans are not homophobic, even if they don’t want the ancient institution of marriage extended to gays.  And as for gay marriage, increasing numbers of Americans support that too.

We no longer see gays as stock comic figures.  We no longer see gays as tragic martyrs to disease.  We no longer see gays as closeted victims.  We no longer see gay images in movies as titillating.  And, assuming we’re heterosexual, we don’t see them as acceptable lead characters in romances, rom-cons, action movies, or teen flicks.  That leaves a very, very small market for movies with gay leading characters.

In other words, now that straights have run out of reasons to see gay movies just because they’re gay, it turns out that gays might not be as interesting as they think they are.  A gay movie has to offer entertainment on its on terms without preaching at audiences.  And gays probably want to make movies that aren’t demeaning to them — which I think Bruno (staring the straight Baron Cohen) was, insofar as it presented gay sexual behaviors as grotesque, disgusting, and perverse.

Until a gay-charactered movie has crossover appeal, offering a solid product that appeals to Americans’ cravings for comedy, romance, action, or serious stuff (which, insofar as gays goes, has mostly been done), I supect gay-themed movies will continue to languish economically.