Thoughts about torture and our self-referential president

I finally got around to watching Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the decade-long hunt for bin Laden.  Before it came out, conservatives were concerned because the White House gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to information about the hunt and about the actual hit on bin Laden.  This opened up the possibility that (a) the movie would betray America’s security secrets and (b) the movie would become a pro-Obama piece of political propaganda.

I don’t know whether the first fear was realized, but the second certainly wasn’t.  Those who claim that the movie supports using torture to obtain information are correct.  The movie opens with audio of phone calls from people trapped in the Twin Towers, and then shifts to a torture site somewhere vaguely Middle Eastern looking.  The torturer is a CIA man.  The person being tortured is a money man for al Qaeda.  Having heard that audio, you are not sympathetic to the al Qaeda guy.

Because of the CIA’s torture tactics, the man gives them useful names.  This happens repeatedly, with al Qaeda members getting hung in chains, hit, subject to water torture, deprived of sleep and human dignity, etc., and eventually revealing names and phone numbers.  The movie makes it clear that they are not being tortured for fun.  They are being tortured to get them to yield information about their, and other people’s, role in killing 3,000 Americans.

The film also makes the point that this information is necessary.  Every so often, after showing CIA interrogations aimed at drawing out a little more information about al Qaeda, the film breaks in with news reports about the Khobar Tower bombing, or the London bombing, or the Islamabad Marriott bombing.  The implication is that it’s vitally necessary for the CIA to crack open al Qaeda’s notoriously closed infrastructure.

The CIA operatives in the movie are dismayed when the situation in Washington changes, making “enhanced” interrogation techniques impossible.  As one says when his boss demands that he get information, if they ask someone in Gitmo, he’ll just get lawyered up and the lawyer will pass on the question to al Qaeda, which can then use it to their advantage.  The only “anti-torture” argument in the movie is a 30 second or so snippet of President Obama saying torture is “not who we are.”

That’s not who we are?  What a funny way to frame a rather more fundamental argument:  Are we, as a society, willing to have our public servants use torture for certain limited purposes?  That’s the question, and the movie answers with a definitive “yes.”  If using torture will get information that can save hundreds, thousands or (G*d forbid) millions of lives, torture is not just appropriate, it’s necessary.  We don’t torture for pleasure or “to make a point,” we do it to save lives.

As for Obama’s that’s “not who we are” statement, I was struck then, as I always am, by how self-referential Barack and Michelle are.  They were at it again in Africa.  Michelle, the spoiled darling of a middle-class Chicago family, said that she’s just like the Senegalese (and before that, she was just like youths in Chicago’s worst ghettos).  I know she’s striving for empathy, but it just ends up looking narcissistic.

Obama is worse, though, because he is America’s official spokesman.  While in Senegal, the press asked him about his response to the Supreme Court’s decisions opening the door for national gay marriage.  (By the way, I like Andrew Klavan’s take.)  Obama, of course, approves.  Not only did he say that, he used the question as an opportunity to talk about gay rights as human rights.  This is actually an important thing, because gays are subject to terrible abuse in both Muslim and Christian Africa.  No matter how one feels about gay marriage or homosexuality, the torture, imprisonment, and murder gays experience throughout Africa is a true crime against human rights.

With the gay marriage question, Obama — who is the greatest orator since Lincoln, right? — had the opportunity to make a profound statement about basic principles of human dignity.  Instead, he embarked upon a wandering rumination about his feelings and his thoughts:

The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they’re treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.

But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort. That’s my personal view. And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.

So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you — the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law — people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.

Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule — treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well. (Emphasis added.)

No wonder that the Senegalese president Mackey Sall had no compunction about delivering a smackdown to the American president. And I do mean a smackdown, since he told Obama that he was a hypocrite to say that every culture has its own way of doing things, and Obama totally respects that, it’s just that the American way is better:

These issues are all societal issues basically, and we cannot have a standard model which is applicable to all nations, all countries — you said it, we all have different cultures. We have different religions. We have different traditions. And even in countries where this has been decriminalized and homosexual marriage is allowed, people don’t share the same views.

Obama is a petty mind with a bully pulpit.

California Progressives commit one of the best inadvertent puns I’ve ever seen

The one thing you can count on with Progressives is that anything that happens in Washington, D.C. — any legislation, any election, and any legal decision — is a reason to go out and beg for money.  Within hours of the Supreme Court decision that effectively strikes down Prop. 8, making gay marriage legal in California, a group called “Courage Campaign” sent out an email begging for money and, in the process, created one of the funniest inadvertent puns I’ve seen in a long time:

VICTORY! Now let's leave no gay behind

If you haven’t caught what makes it so funny, here’s a hint: read the very first line aloud:

VICTORY! Now let's leave no gay behind2

Hat tip: Sadie

Is it wrong of me that I couldn’t care less?

Jason Collins, a pro basketball player, just came out as gay.  Is it wrong of me that I couldn’t care less?

It’s not just that I don’t follow basketball.  It’s that Collins’ bedroom preferences have nothing to do with the only reason he matters to the public:  basketball.  Either he’s a good player or he’s not.

Collins’ sexual orientation would matter more if he were a famous proponent of traditional marriage or had a wife and six children.  But as a basketball player?  Eh, whatever….

And yes, I know people are going to say that he’s paving the way for other sports figures to come out of the closet.  I get that, but it would be much easier for them to come out of the closet if we would just stop caring about other people’s bedroom behavior.

And I have nothing else to say.

School Forces 13 Year Old Girls To Ask Each Other For Lesbian Kisses

(Another one that first saw the light of day on Mr. Conservative, but that’s definitely one I would have written for Bookworm Room too.)

There is no bully worse than a Leftist on an anti-bullying crusade. We’ve seen this play out over and over again in the area of guns, where kids find themselves arrested for wearing the wrong t-shirt and suspended for innocent childhood play, or where schools explicitly deny that Americans have Second Amendment Rights. Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, New York, however, took this institutional bullying to a new level with a “tolerance” class about homosexuality that saw teenage girls being coerced into asking each other for kisses or pretending to go out on lesbian dates.

The anti-bullying presentation was targeted at 13- and 14-year-old girls. Parents were not notified in advance about either the presentation or its content, so they had no opportunity to opt out. The presentation focused on homosexuality, which is as old as man himself, and gender identity, which is a new construct for people who refuse to fit into neatly labeled Leftist boxes. The middle school girls therefore got an earful of New Age PC terms such as “pansexual” and “genderqueer.”

As if that wasn’t questionable enough, the presenters forced the girls into role-playing. They were told to ask each other for kisses and two girls were picked to stand in front of the class and pretend that they were on a date together. Mandy Coon, whose daughter was one of the girls forced into these activities, told reporters that “She told me, ‘Mom we all get teased and picked on enough. Now I’m going to be called a lesbian because I had to ask another girl if I could kiss her.’”

Watch Dan Savage, the Leftist face of the anti-bullying crusade, attack anyone who disagrees with him:

Parents were dismayed. “The school is overstepping its bounds in not notifying parents first and giving us the choice,” said an unnamed parent. “I thought it was very inappropriate. That kind of instruction is best left up to the parents.”

Another anonymous parent added “I was absolutely furious – really furious. “These are just kids. I’m dumbfounded that they found this class was appropriate.”

Despite complaints about the school’s failure to communicate what was going on and the way it offended community values, administrators are pleased with the bullying nature of the anti-bullying workshop, and plan to schedule more. Superintendent Paul Finch, showing himself to be utterly tone deaf, told The Poughkeepsie Journal that the presentation met its goal of focusing on “improving culture, relationships, communication and self-perceptions.” Finch has learned one lesson, though. He acknowledged the possibility that “we may require more notification to parents in the future.”

Ironically enough, Finch justified this whole exercise by citing to New York state’s “Dignity for All Students Act,” which prohibits harassment and bullying in the classroom. In common with all Leftists, Finch is incapable of understanding that bullying encompasses more than just gay-bashing. Bullying occurs whenever a gang or another powerful entity ridicules or attacks someone’s actions, belief systems, race, etc. And when this ridicule and attack comes, not from fellow students, but from the school itself, the situation has gone from bullying to out-and-out abuse.

(Learn more about the real homophobes among us, and here’s a hint: they’re not Bible-believing Christians.)

Today’s reality was yesterday’s satire

There’s a big hoo-hah in Colorado, because a 6-year-old boy feels like a girl.  His parents, out of respect for his feelings, are raising him as a girl.  The school district was not impressed.  It stated that, for bathroom purposes, if you have a penis, you have to use the boys’ room.

I can actually see both sides.  To the extent this kid marches to the beat of his own drummer, he’s at serious risk of being attacked during (or because of) trips to the boys’ room.  The school, however, is correct that, as long as the boy’s bodily functions are channeled through male body parts, they risk push-back and lawsuits from allowing a boy in the girls’ room.

Perhaps the parents should think about homeschooling, which can be an excellent solution for square pegs who don’t fit in the public schools’ round holes.   Although the Left would like to deny it, there are some problems the government can’t fix, and some situations that are incapable of equal outcomes.

But why I am telling you this?  The Monty Python crew dealt with precisely this issue about 25 years ago:

Proof that doing too many drugs will destroy your brain

To be honest, I have no proof whatsoever that a singer named Morrissey has ever done drugs.  But to the extent he’s a brainless wonder, I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, drugs explain this:

Never shy to make a controversial comment, “Bigmouth Strikes Again” singer Morrissey has claimed that “homosexual men would never kill other men”.

The 53-year-old singer, made his claims in an interview with an online magazine for teenage girls. While discussing war, he suggested that if there were more gay men, there would be fewer wars.

“War, I thought, was the most negative aspect of male heterosexuality,” he said. “If more men were homosexual, there would be no wars, because homosexual men would never kill other men, whereas heterosexual men love killing other men.”

Apparently Morrissey isn’t big on reading papers.  If he was, he might know about Jeffrey Dahmer, who not only killed men, he also ate them.

Just the other day, the tabloids reported on a gay killer who preyed on gay men.

If you have the stomach for sordid, you can easily find examples of gay relationships that ended with violent death.

Found it on Facebook: gay marriage is not a libertarian value

One of my Facebook friends posted the following:

Almost libertarian

The libertarian in me agrees with a lot of the post.  I’d like government to stop playing nanny to people.  It would make for smaller, cheaper, and less intrusive government, not to mention more individual freedom and personal responsibility.

But, as the Sesame Street song used to say, one of these things is not like the other one:  gay marriage.

I’m not arguing against gay marriage in this post.  I just want to point out that it doesn’t belong in list of “rights” on the poster, because it’s not a personal behavior.  To be equivalent to the other points on the list, the first question should read as follows: “Don’t like homosexual sex?  Don’t engage in it.”

The fact is that marriage is not a private act or behavior, it’s a public one and one, moreover, in which the state has a significant interest.  Stable marriages are good for a state and the children of those stable marriages are a necessity for a country’s future.  Analogizing gay marriage to other individual acts that can be done in the privacy of ones own home or on ones own property or in a private club is a false equivalence.

Having said that, if the state feels that gay marriage is a virtue that will benefit society, the state can then advance gay marriage.  (Or, if it takes my advice, get out of the marriage business, leaving marriage to religious institutions, and legislating civil unions that provide the greatest benefit for the state.)  Just don’t pretend that gay sex and gay marriage are the same thing, because they’re not.

Incidentally, if that was my poster, I would have added one more thing:  “Don’t like guns?  Don’t own one.”

Rachel Maddow’s distant relationship with the truth

I have to admit that I can’t stomach more than one or two seconds at a time of Rachel Maddow.  She’s such a party hack that, even if one stops pretending that she’s a journalist, she doesn’t come anywhere near being entertaining.  She’s also in touch with her Leftism by being fiercely anti-Israel (an irony, given that her open lesbianism would pretty much see her ripped into teeny, bloody pieces if she were to go into Gaza, not as a propaganda spewing Leftist journalist, but simply as a Western lesbian).

Fortunately, there are others with stronger stomachs than mine, and I very much enjoyed this Maddow take-down at American Power.

Progressive experts: Please, don’t bother us with the facts

There is a long-running debate about whether homosexuals can “change” their basic sexual identity.  I have no idea.  I assume that a motivated homosexual can subordinate his identity.  People fight their biological urges all the time.  Whether that person is truly “changed” is another matter.  Perhaps it’s just a linguistics thing:  “subordinate” does or does not equal “change”.

The above are just my idle thoughts, and I really have no interest in pursuing them now.  What did interest me this morning was a New York Times online squiblet:

Isn’t that perfect?  “Experts” say gays can’t change, and they do so despite the actual evidence of men who claim to have changed (or maybe just subordinated their homosexual desires).  There it is, in one paragraph:  Thousands of men assert that they have changed — and experts claim that they’re lying because their claims run counter to theory.

You should read the whole article, which expands upon the apt summing up in that little paragraph.

An update on Chick-fil-A’s statement

I blogged the other day about the fact that Chick-fil-A seemed to have pulled a Komen and caved.  Now they’ve issued another statement, plus a statement from Huckabee.  These two statements seem to indicate that Chick-fil-A carefully carved out a loophole for itself.  All I can say is Hmmm….  It’s hard to do business in today’s Witch Hunting climate.

A new victim class: bisexuals

Shunned by the LG[B]T community, despite their ostensible inclusion in the LGBT community, bisexuals are finally having their day in Berkeley.  For all of those who thought people who swing both ways have the best of both worlds (i.e., doubling their number of potential partners), how wrong you are.  They suffer in the same way that everyone else suffers in Obama’s victim-defined America:

Bisexuals have complained for years that they’re shunned by the LGBT mainstream, that they’re considered fence-sitters or that they’re not a legitimate part of the gay movement because they may occasionally be in relationships with the opposite sex.

“They think we have ‘straight privilege,’ and we hide in that,” said Martin Rawlings-Fein, a director of the Bay Area Bisexual Network, a nonprofit educational and cultural group. “We get pushed to the side in the LGBT community and told we don’t exist, that we’re actually gay or lesbian and just not totally ‘out.’ “

In other words, bisexuals are  a victim class within a victim class.  Victim classes can be so cruel.

 

The Chariots of Fire mentality is dead and gone

I was living in England back in 1981 when Chariots of Fire was first released.  It’s been a while since it came out, but you probably remember that it was a movie based upon the true story of two actual British runners (and their fictional friends) preparing for the 1924 Olympics.  I loved that movie.  I loved the British-ness of it.  I loved the beautiful recreation of 1920s England.  I loved the contrast between Harold Abrahams, the driven Anglo-Jew, and Eric Liddell, the committed Scottish Evangelist.  And of course, I loved Nigel Havers.  There’s just something about him….*

Anyhoo, I got the opportunity to watch the movie again the other night and was struck by something very different from today’s world.  [SPOILER ALERT]  A pivotal plot point in the movie occurs when Liddell learns that the race he is most likely to win — the 100 meter sprint — will be held on a Sunday.  He announces that he cannot and will not run on the Lord’s Day, and holds to this position despite having a great deal of pressure brought to bear on him by the powers that be, including some peers of the realm and the Prince of Wales himself.  In the movie, the deux ex machina who breaks this stalemate is Nigel Havers’ character, who, having already won a medal, graciously offers Liddell his place in the 400 meter race.  (In real life, Liddell knew about the Sunday conflict some months in advance, and trained for the 400 meter race.)  Liddell not only runs the 400 meter race, he does so at a sprinter’s clip, and wins.

The movie shows tremendous reverence for Liddell’s principled stand.  After Liddell sticks to his guns and Nigel Havers saves the day, Lord Birkenhead, who is the head of the British team, and the Duke of Sutherland, who was one of those who tried to convince Liddell to run, have a few words:

Duke of Sutherland: A sticky moment, George.
Lord Birkenhead: Thank God for Lindsay. I thought the lad had us beaten.
Duke of Sutherland: He did have us beaten, and thank God he did.
Lord Birkenhead: I don’t quite follow you.
Duke of Sutherland: The “lad”, as you call him, is a true man of principles and a true athlete. His speed is a mere extension of his life, its force. We sought to sever his running from himself.
Lord Birkenhead: For his country’s sake, yes.
Duke of Sutherland: No sake is worth that, least of all a guilty national pride.

I was thinking how differently things would have played out if 1924 had been like 2012.  Rather than simply refusing to run, Eric Liddell would have sued the Olympic committee, claiming that they were violating his right to religious freedom.  Of course, he would have lost, because he was asserting a Christian religious right.  Had he practiced a more politically correct religion, he might have had a different outcome.

Nowadays, if private institutions don’t bend to an individual’s will, the individual doesn’t walk away, as Liddell did.  Nor does the individual create a competing society, as Jewish lawyers did when they were barred from white shoe law firms.  Instead, the individual insists that a private organization accommodate him, even if to do so is completely inconsistent with the ethos of that organization.  For example, last year, a Muslim woman sued Abercrombie & Fitch (a store I despise) claiming that her boss fired her for wearing a hijab.  This wasn’t a first for the company:

It’s the latest employment discrimination charge against the company’s so-called “look policy,” which critics say means images of mostly white, young, athletic-looking people. The New Albany, Ohio-based company has said it does not tolerate discrimination.

Still, Abercrombie has been the target of numerous discrimination lawsuits, including a federal class action brought by black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants that was settled for $40 million in 2004. The company admitted no wrongdoing, though it was forced to implement new programs and policies to increase diversity.

Why not let the company do business its way?  Why sue that skanky organization?  Isn’t it better to stick to your principles (e.g., “Muslim woman quits Abercrombie rather than comply with sleazy, white trash dress code”), and then to fight Abercrombie in the market place (e.g., “Muslim woman, after being fired by Abercrombie, creates modest clothes fashion dynasty”)?  Why should Abercrombie, which is marketing a “look,” have to accommodate those who don’t meet the look?

The same is true for the constant effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to allow gays.  Instead of trying to remake the Boy Scouts, why don’t gays take a principled stand of walking away from the Boy Scouts and — here’s an idea! — creating their own alternative to the Boy Scouts, when that is more friendly to the GLBT community?  I suspect, actually, that one of the reasons they don’t is because their membership might lag.  The Boy Scouts announced recently that they are reaffirming their “no gays” policy partly because parents like the policy.

More than that, why have we created a country where there is no high road but, instead, only a litigious road?

_____________________

*Maybe what I like about Havers his is antipathy to bicyclists.  There’s nothing wrong with bicycles or bicycling, but I can tell you that, in the San Francisco Bay Area, they have a dangerous arrogance based upon their “green-ness.”  They ignore traffic rules, often drive in mobs, and can be scarily aggressive towards cars.  I live near a road that is a popular sunny day destination for weekend bike wariors, and I have to say that it can be terrifying to round a curve and find two of them lolling down the middle of the road.  Havers is open about his contempt for this attitude:

Comments on cyclists

Havers wrote an article in 2004 the Daily Mail, criticising cyclists:

“Today’s pedal-pushers… appear to think they are above the law… [and are a] new army of Lycra-clad maniacs… I am heartily sick of the lot of them.”

He added in 2006:

“I was asked what annoys me most. I said cyclists, because they are all bastards, and since then it just hasn’t stopped”.

Another formerly major American magazine goes off the tracks *UPDATED*

Yesterday, I got to be snarky about Time Magazine’s aggressive breast feeding cover (and if “aggressive breast feeding” isn’t a post-modern liberal oxymoron, I don’t know what is).  Today, I get to poke fun at Newsweek, for it’s “Obama : The First Gay President” cover:


Newsweak isn’t actually claiming that the President is gay. Although there have been completely unsubstantiated rumors to that effect, it seems that Michelle, who would know him best, fears the presence of attractive women around Obama, not attractive men.

No, what Newsweak is claiming is that Obama has for three years been laying the ground work for a pro-gay Presidency, one that is slowly reaching its culmination with this latest announcement:

It’s easy to write off President Obama’s announcement of his support for gay marriage as a political ploy during an election year. But don’t believe the cynics. Andrew Sullivan argues that this announcement has been in the making for years. “When you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work.” And President Obama has much in common with the gay community. “He had to discover his black identity and then reconcile it with his white family, just as gays discover their homosexual identity and then have to reconcile it with their heterosexual family,” Sullivan writes.

Ah! Something to bring joy to the American heartlands.

What’s really funny about the Newsweak headline is that it runs counter to a continuing narrative on the left that James Buchanan was the first gay president (not to mention Abe Lincoln).  If this keeps up, most American presidents are going to be able to claim that title (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I can’t wait ’til the silly season ends, and people start focusing on what really matters in this election:  the economy and national security.

UPDATE:  Others who are having fun:  American Power, American Digest, and Gateway Pundit.  I wonder when the Obamites are going to figure out that New Media is not amenable to Old Media bullying, manipulation, lies, and meme spreading.

Enthusiastic support for gay rights

I mentioned in an earlier post the interesting fact that, on my Facebook page, it is my straight friends, not my gay friends, who are the most enthusiastic supporters of gay marriage.  This is not to say that my gay friends are slacking in their support.  They just lack the enthusiasm.  For every one pro-gay marriage Facebook post from a gay friend, there seem to be two from a straight friend.  As I said, I find this enthusiasm a little surprising.  Usually, when people don’t have a dog in the fight, while they may be passively interested in the outcome, they don’t normally become actively engaged in promoting the fight.

While I was mulling this curiosity over in my mind, one of my Facebook friends (a straight one, of course) posted this image:

 

That sentiment is true, of course, but it also obscures the difference between supporting gay rights and animals rights.  Animals can’t speak for themselves.  If we don’t act as their spokesmen, no one will speak on their behalf.  The same is not true for members of the LGBT community.

Help me out here, please.  I am not seeking comments about the validity of the various causes within the gay rights movement.  Instead, I’m just wondering (a) why members of the LGBT movement are now being analogized to mute animals and (b) why the fever is higher in the audience (so to speak) than amongst the players themselves.

Gay activists’ alleged attack on prayer, even if not true, highlights the Left’s profound animus to traditional Judeo-Christian religion

Cassie Jay is a young woman who makes unabashedly Leftist films.  Back, in 2010, she made a documentary called “Daddy I Do” that attacked abstinence-only education.  Even in liberal Marin, this movie caused a bit of a kerfuffle, as the local art cinema first agreed to show it, then backed off from that agreement, and then, when the liberal fit hit the media shan, finally agreed to show the movie.  The debate garnered headlines, and undoubtedly drew more people to the movie than would otherwise have attended.  My bet is that, at the end, a lot of people paid for tickets, not because they actually wanted to see her movie, but because they wanted to show solidarity.

Ms. Jay now contends that she’s stumbled into cultural clash, and she didn’t see this one coming at all.  On its face, Jay’s newest movie ought not to have ruffled any feathers on the Left.  It’s a straight down-the-line Progressive encomium for the virtues of gay marriage.  The Marin Independent Journal assures readers that her latest, “The Right to Love: An American Family,” is “a compelling case for legalizing gay marriage.”  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  I haven’t seen it yet — indeed, few have — so I’m not qualified to comment.

(Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto)

Jay claims, however, that there are those in the gay community who have seen it and they are very unhappy with the movie.  You see, in addition to promoting gay marriage, which is a good thing, the gay activists watching the preview discerned a Christian subtext, which is a very bad thing indeed:

“The Right to Love,” which premieres Monday at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, focuses on the Leffew family of Santa Rosa, a legally married gay couple and their two adopted children. When the trailer was released this past fall, it included a scene of the family saying a Christian prayer at their breakfast table.

The reaction it unleashed from a segment of the gay community was angry and venomous, and caught Jaye off guard.

“It just erupted online,” she recalled. “It totally caught me by surprise. I was shocked by the backlash. All these LGBT (lesbian-gay-bixexual-transgender) people were attacking the Leffew family for being religious, saying, ‘How can you be a part of an institution that doesn’t see us as equals and thinks we’re an abomination? How can you be a member of that club?’ I never intended to include that prayer as a controversial issue, but there was a lot of hatred toward them being Christian.”

Here’s the incendiary trailer (the prayer shows up 38 seconds in):

As for me, I think this is a publicity stunt.  I scrolled through the 280 comments at the trailer and found a few comments to the effect that “religions should let us marry and they’re bad ’cause they don’t” stuff, but I don’t see any evidence of the firestorm Jay claims erupted over her film — more specifically, that she claims erupted because of that two second prayer scene in the trailer.  Unless Jay deleted all the hardcore anti-Christian comments as spam, they’re just not there.  I also did a couple of Google searches for the name of the film along with the words “Christian” and “religion” but, aside from several dozen sites singing rapturous praises about a pro-gay marriage movie, found only a few newspaper articles quoting Jay about the claimed firestorm.

I’m willing to acknowledge that my research skills may be abysmal, and that I’ve managed to miss the dozens of comments and posts in which activist gays threaten to burn crosses on the lawns of those gay families who are stupid enough to cling to Christianity.  I may also have a different idea of Jay as to what constitutes a truly controversial issue.  She may think one crackpot makes a controversy.  I don’t.

What’s rather amazing, though, is that Jay is promoting her film by pointing to a subject that has nothing to do with the film itself.  The film is about gay marriage.  There is a built-in audience for this movie.  Gays will see it.  Elites who want to prove their moral superiority on the issue will see it.  But Jay is promoting it, not by pointing to its substantive issues, but by talking up the fact that (according to her) many in the GLBT (or LGBT or whatever other order the letters should appear) community are no longer asking for religion to change.  Instead, they’re attacking religion at the root.  For her, this is a selling point.

Jay’s right, too, in her assessment that, in Obama-world, attacking religion is a selling point for any movie that one markets to the Left.  The Obama administration’s direct, frontal attack on the Catholic church (and other religious institutions) demonstrates as nothing else could that the Left, now that it holds two out of the three seats of power in American government, intends not to amend religion, or carve out secular exceptions, but to destroy it entirely.  Under the new ObamaCare mandate, the churches are left with only three choices all of which range from damaging to destructive:  they can deny their principles and provide insurance, which destroys them morally; they can refuse to provide the insurance, which will trigger penalties or lose them so many employees they’ll be destroyed financially; or they can simply shut down their outreach, which destroys their place in their community and the missions that are an intrinsic part of their doctrine.

Destruction of Damascus Christian Quarter, 1860

My guess is that Jay is astutely tuning into a strong cultural subtext roiling the Left in order to market her film.  Even if there is no fight between gay activists and religion, there ought to be, and she’s going to use that paradigm to broaden her audience beyond the Prop. 8 crowd.  She can expect to see attendance increase as those on the Left attend the film, either to show their solidarity with religion (Christ’s gospel is good, even if the church has perverted it) or to protest the fact that anyone in the LGBT (or GLBT) community would dare to ally itself with a hate-filled, archaic institution that should be destroyed, rather than reformed.

I think the saying is that, in show business, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

What do you think?

How Obama really could address gay rights violations

My morning just got a wee bit complicated, so I won’t write the long, elegant post I’d imagined in my head when I read that Obama was pledging U.S. dollars to making the world safe for gays.  There’s nothing wrong with making the world safe for gays.  I heartily approve.  What got my goat was Obama’s proposal.  Thankfully for me and my desire to get my ideas out there, Zombie read my mind and explains beautifully why Obama is just pulling a political stunt, and what can really be done to advance gay rights around the world.

“Space . . . the final sexual and gender identity frontier . . . . *UPDATED*

The following letter went out to all NASA employees:

Message from NASA's Administrator

I’m not focusing on the merits of the Administrator’s statements.  I’m just wondering about the appropriateness of NASA’s Administrator taking it upon himself to be an LGBT spokesperson, broadcasting those views on NASA’s behalf to the entire NASA community.  I was under the impression that NASA was concerned with Air and Space, not social policy.  Silly me.

UPDATE:  Am I the only one who finds it amusing that NASA, of all the available government organizations, has taken upon itself the task of both LGBT and Muslim outreach?  It’s hard to imagine two more different constituencies.

UPDATE IIAt Snapped Shot, you can see how the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency is celebrating this month.

I should add here that I’m not trying to be homophobic in any way.  I just think that the mission of NASA should be space, and the Customs and Border Protection Agency should be focusing on our border.  I’d be equally peeved if both organizations spent ridiculous amounts of time and money, not to mention cluttering up their employee’s offices and email boxes, with posters raving about Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or any other calendar moment.  It’s one thing to make an inclusive work place.  It’s another thing for federal agencies to go far beyond their original/intended mandate.

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Putting the sexual identity cart before the accomplishment horse

Okay, I’ll admit that my post title is awkward, but it sums up what California State Senator Mark Leno is trying to do in California public schools:  namely, put a person’s sexuality front and center, with a tag-on coda about the person’s actual accomplishments.  This isn’t the first time a gay California legislator has tried this.

Here’s Leno’s press release:

Senator Mark Leno introduced legislation today that helps address the nation’s bullying crisis by ensuring that historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are accurately and fairly portrayed in instructional materials. Senate Bill 48, known as the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, adds the LGBT community to the existing list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups already listed in the state’s inclusionary education requirements.

“Most textbooks don’t include any historical information about the LGBT movement, which has great significance to both California and U.S. history,” said Senator Leno (D-San Francisco). “Our collective silence on this issue perpetuates negative stereotypes of LGBT people and leads to increased bullying of young people. We can’t simultaneously tell youth that it’s OK to be yourself and live an honest, open life when we aren’t even teaching students about historical LGBT figures or the LGBT equal rights movement.”

Research indicates that bullying rates are double in schools where students do not learn about the contributions of LGBT Americans. Students in schools with inclusive education also report that all youth – straight, gay, and those perceived to be gay – are treated more fairly by their teachers and peers.

In addition to including the role and contributions of LGBT Americans in educational materials, SB 48 adds sexual orientation to the state’s existing anti-discrimination protections that prohibit bias in school activities, instruction and instructional materials. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

“Given the number of young people who tragically took their own lives after being bullied for being LGBT – or perceived as being LGBT, it is imperative that we do more to ensure that all children feel fully welcomed, and this legislation is an important step toward that goal,” said Geoff Kors, Equality California Executive Director. “LGBT people should not be pushed into the closest when it comes to what students learn about history. Educating youth about the contributions of LGBT Californians and our state’s rich diversity will help foster true acceptance of LGBT students and will ultimately create a safe school environment for all students.”

“LGBT youth are denied a fair education when they are exposed to harmful stereotypes in classroom materials and are excluded from learning about their history,” said Carolyn Laub, GSA Network’s Executive Director. “The FAIR Education Act is a key step in preventing discrimination in the classroom and creating safe, respectful schools.”

Senator Leno’s bill was modeled on Senate Bill 1437 (Kuehl) from 2006, which passed both houses of the Legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. About 20 Senators and Assemblymembers have agreed to co-author the legislation, including members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus. It will be heard in the Senate in the New Year.

As I noted, this happened before, back in 2006.  I’ll regurgitate now what I said then:

I don’t have a problem with acknowledging that someone who has distinguished accomplishments did so because of (or despite) pressures against him because of his race, color, creed or sexual orientation. To dig into my discontent with this propsal, I really had to break down things down into what I think ought to be taught, versus what I think this bill is trying to accomplish.

Like it or not, our public schools are going to teach values. You can’t teach any subject but math and chemistry without wrapping it up in subjective content. For example, we’re all alive to the battles over history: Was the development of America a Democratic light in the world or was America a genocidal experiment that killed Native Americans and trashed their culture? Is socialism an inherently good thing that was misused by the Nazis, Soviets and Chinese, or is it a doctrine that is inherently evil? And don’t even get me started on the battles over Judeo/Christianity and dead white men.

The same, of course, goes for English. We don’t quarrel about the need to teach our children to read, but once you get past “the cat sat on the mat,” what do you have them read? Shakespeare? Mein Kampf? Dead, white males? Living, oppressed [fill in the blank]?

My point is that, everything our children read teaches them something. Only the sciences have a purity that raises them above values (although, as we know from the Nazis, science in the presence of the wrong values, or in the absence of any values, is the most deadly thing of all).

For all these difficulties, though, there are a few core values that, I think, most people want to see their children learn: loyalty, honesty, respect, bravery, faith, etc. These are abstract values that exist in almost all societies, regardless of specific societal dogmas or practices. (Although some societies place these labels on practices that are antithetical to the same values as practiced in other cultures. For example, in the late 1970s, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article about Palestinian soldiers. As part of the training to demonstrate their bravery, they’d use their bare hands to rip the heads off of live chickens. I call that sadism, not bravery.)

William Bennett tuned into this idea of overarching abstract values when he wrote his hugely popular virtue series. In his books, he identified a virtue and then illustrated it with stories drawn from different countries, cultures, religions, etc. “Bravery” might be illustrated by stories about Chinese warriors, black athletes overcoming racism, or Valley Forge. He started with a color-blind, race-blind, sex-blind abstract virtue, and went from there to specifics that demonstrated that the abstract virtue applies equally to all races, colors and creeds.

In other words, Bennett makes it clear that honesty wasn’t confined to dead white males who owned slaves. (I’m thinking George Washington and the cherry tree here.) Bennett’s approach, instead, was that any given value is universal, and that one can readily find examples of that universal value amongst the various groupings, tribes, self-identifications, etc., that make up citizens of the world.

Identity politics has this bass-ackwards. It essentially says that the “value” is being Black, or being gay, or being Hispanic, or being female. It then goes on to say, almost coincidentally, that if you go digging around amongst those people who inherently possess these “values,” you can find some abstract, overarching virtues as well. “He’s gay and — wow! — he’s brave, too.” “She’s black and — this is so cool — she’s compassionate.”

Well, I’m sorry, but being Black is not a value. Being Hispanic is not a virtue. Being gay is not an ethic. Each of these is simply a label to help classify a person, because classification seems to be an innate human need. None of these labels describe conduct (although one could argue that point a bit when it comes gays, because homosexuality manifests itself through sexual conduct, whereas being black is tied to appearance, not actions).

I want to hear about heroic, brilliant, compassionate, important blacks, gays, women, Hispanics, etc., and I want my children to hear about them too. The focus, though, should be on the “heroic, brilliant, compassionate” parts, which are universal values we want to see all children learn. Only then should we go to the subset idea, which is that, no matter the label you give yourself (or that is given to you), you can aspire to these over-arching values, virtues and ethics.

So, let’s do away with Black History Month and the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Month I now see lurking around the corner. Let’s have Honesty month, and Compassion month, and Bravery month, and Patriotism month. Then, during those months, let’s illustrate that virtue with examples drawn from the myriad cultures, ethnicities, religions, sexes, and sexualities that go towards the melting pot — yes, I used that old fashioned idea — that is America.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

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Our first gay president(?)

We hear about a lot of firsts.  Kennedy was our first Catholic president.  Reagan our first actor president.  Obama our first black president.

But did you know that, long ago, we almost certainly had our first gay president?  Yup.  I’ve now read in two scholarly, sourced books that James Buchanan was considered by his contemporaries to be a homosexual.  The giveaway isn’t that he was the only president who was never married.  It’s that he had such an unusually long, close relationship with a male friend that people commented on it:

For fifteen years in Washington, D.C., before his presidency, Buchanan lived with his close friend, Alabama Senator William Rufus King. King became Vice President under Franklin Pierce. He became ill and died shortly after Pierce’s inauguration, four years before Buchanan became President. Buchanan’s and King’s close relationship prompted Andrew Jackson to call King “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”, while Aaron V. Brown spoke of the two as “Buchanan and his wife.” Some of the contemporary press also speculated about Buchanan’s and King’s relationship. The two men’s nieces destroyed their uncles’ correspondence, leaving some questions about their relationship; but the length and intimacy of surviving letters illustrate “the affection of a special friendship”, and Buchanan wrote of his “communion” with his housemate. In May 1844, during one of King’s absences that resulted from King’s appointment as minister to France, Buchanan wrote to a Mrs. Roosevelt, “I am now ‘solitary and alone’, having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”

It is certainly true that Buchanan lived in an age when people used romantic terms to describe same-sex friendships. Likewise, it was not uncommon for bachelors to share quarters or, as was the case with Abraham Lincoln when he traveled with a friend and colleague, to share a bed. Bed sharing goes back hundreds of years.  It’s just that one gets the strong feeling that Buchanan’s one engagement, which ended when the young woman broke it off (and then died soon after), was really his last effort in the petticoat line.  Later references in his life to getting married really didn’t have any steam in them.  His closest relationship, clearly, was with a man.

What’s interesting, really interesting, is the fact that the suspicions around Buchanan’s sexuality did not affect his career.  He was Secretary of State under Polk and, of course, ultimately went on to become president.  His friend/partner William Rufus King, too, had an august career, reaching its apex with his becoming Vice President.  Don’t ask, don’t tell seemed to be a good rule of thumb for the era.

My last comment, a silly one, is that, when one reads about the political scene in America during the mid-19th Century, the names that come up read like a roster of streets in San Francisco:  Stockton, Taylor, Buchanan, Polk, Mason, Clay, etc.  It’s ironic, given Buchanan’s probable sexual preferences, that it was Polk Street, rather than Buchanan Street, that became one of San Francisco’s gay meccas.

Okay, that wasn’t really my last comment.  My last comment is this:  Mr. Bookworm didn’t believe me when I told him about the scholarly suppositions regarding Buchanan’s sexuality, suppositions based on the historical record, because “there were no gays then.”  I had a little giggle, and then started the short list of historic figures who were almost certainly gay (as opposed to historic figures who might be gay, but as to whom the record is too shaky to draw conclusions):  Edward II; James I; Michelangelo; Leonardo da Vinci; Alexander the Great; Richard the Lionhearted; Oscar Wilde; and Emperor Hadrian.

Animal Farm hits Britain in the guise of sexual orientation equality

I’d like to think this is a joke, but modern Britain being modern Britain, I’m actually sure it’s not.  One can only hope that at least some people will give the correct response to such an intrusive, inappropriate question:  “Bugger off!”

Are you straight or gay? Police and nurses to be asked their sexuality in new equality drive

Millions of teachers, nurses and policemen could be asked to disclose their sexuality, religion and race as part of a new Coalition equality drive.

Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone says all public sector organisations should consider sending ‘diversity monitoring forms’ to staff to prove they are treating all sections of society fairly.

[snip]

Her plans are suggested in a guide to how public bodies should comply with the Act. Critics fear it will lead to an avalanche of bureaucracy and expense just as jobs are under threat and budgets are slashed.

[snip]

It also says that complying with the equality duty ‘may involve treating some people better than others, as far as this is allowed by discrimination law’. (Emphasis mine.)

Is it just me, or did that last sentence sound purely Orwellian?  “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”

My point exactly

When I blogged about Capt. Owen Honors, I made the point that we cannot have delicate flowers in the military.  Moral, decent people — yes.  Delicate people — no.  It turns out that at least some of the gays and lesbians serving on the USS Enterprise fully understood this point.  Kudos to those men and women.

The East Germans would have loved this one

My younger readers, assuming I have any, don’t remember that, throughout the Cold War, the Communists, especially the East Germans, were reputed to be using feminized men to compete in women’s Olympic events.  The benefit, of course, is that, no matter how the feminists try to deny it, men are stronger than women and, in nose to nose competition, they will win.  This is a biological reality.  (I can’t find a link, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that the end of the Cold War revealed that those suppositions were, in fact, true.)

In a move the East Germans and other Soviets would love, the LGPA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) has removed from its constitution the requirement that LPGA members must be female from birth.  It did so in response to a suit filed by a person who started life as a man but, thanks to modern medicine, now has the hormones and external physical attributes of a woman.

Did you notice how carefully I phrased the description of the litigant, who rejoices under the name Lana Lawless?  I didn’t do that to be offensive to transgendered people.  I did it to make the point that, hormones and surgery notwithstanding, Lawless, and others similarly situated, still have a lot of man left in them — which gives them a distinct competitive advantage.  Think of shoulder joints, for example.  Women cannot throw balls the way men can, because women’s shoulders are differently jointed.  This accounts for the bizarre pitching style in women’s softball.

I’m not suggesting that droves of men are going to turn into women simply so that they can shine in women’s competitive sports.  It does seem unfair, however, to allow someone who has a man’s body, no matter how it’s been altered, to compete on equal terms with women.