Friday, November 28, 2008

Various Good Things!

Yes, yes. Another quick run-down. I knew I had to do one, because I leave each of these pages open in a tab until I can get to it. Means that I don't always get to them until my browser begins groaning in pain because of all the open tabs. For the sake of my Firefox, here are some of the pages I had open.

Civil Rights

Meet the Hip Young People Who Hate Gay Marriage

This. Is. Hilarious. And also sad. The ads for Proposition 8, the voter initiative in California that'll undo the state's gay marriages, are out of control.

Miami judge rules against Florida gay adoption ban
The state presented experts who claimed there was a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among gay couples, that they were more unstable than heterosexual unions and that the children of gay couples suffer a societal stigma.

Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association all support permitting same-sex couples to adopt.

Lederman rejected all the state's arguments soundly.

"It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent," the judge wrote. "A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs."


Why American Christians look so stupid and what you can do about it
On our trip out to Wyoming I listened to the program on Crosstalk Radio where they allowed callers to tell who they were going to vote for and why. Almost every single one said, “I’m voting for McCain because I’m a Christian.” Well guess what, folks, I voted for Obama because I’m a Republican and a Christian.(...)

We don’t just look like a bunch of kooks. We are a bunch of kooks. I’d be willing to put up with Christians speaking out on the election if they displayed the slightest semblance of a biblical worldview and a marginal ability to exegete a Biblical text. But they don’t. The eschatology of someone who can find “an olive-skinned Muslim” in the Book of Revelation is that of a deluded moron.

Not only that, our Biblical rhetoric thinly veils a Republican partisanship that is downright idolatry. Bible-Thumpers across the spectrum reveled in the lurid missteps of Clinton. But when Bush showed the militancy of a Caligula we were the first to bow before his throne and overlook war crimes, trampling of civil rights and the most disgusting waste of America’s bounty on bombs rather than bread. We’re not a city on a hill. We’re temple prostitutes at the altars of materialism and neo-imperialism.

There’s no escape from your husband
I believe that long-term emotional and verbal abuse is a sin of unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant. If headship means anything, it means that the husband should take the lead in creating a safe and nurturing environment for his wife and children where everyone can develop the gifts they have been given by God. Unfortunately, a lot of the headship and loving submission dogma I’m hearing is nothing but misogyny with a makeover. I recently listened to a woman who had been very active in directing a crisis pregnancy center who resigned because she wanted to “restore Godly submission in her home” and “find her fulfillment in building up her husband.” That is a bunch of baloney. Her husband is a couch potato. Hasn’t anyone ever told her about Priscilla and Aquila? Or Andronicus and Junias? Or Martha and Mary? Or Mother Teresa? Or Ladybird Johnson? Or Marie Curie? Or Aimee Semple McPherson? Or Corrie Ten Boom? Children of God are called to impact this world regardless of their reproductive organs. And husband and wife teams have a huge potential to fulfill God’s kingdom and that doesn’t merely mean she keeps his shirts ironed so that he can fulfill his ministry.

My main point is that if a woman in your church is seeking separation from her husband, give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s highly likely that she is being intimidated by her husband, she’s ashamed of “failing” as a wife, and she’s feeling condemnation from everyone in her church.

Misc. Politics

Obama to Create Commission on Torture?
Obama aides are wary of taking any steps that would smack of political retribution. That's one reason they are reluctant to see high-profile investigations by the Democratic-controlled Congress or to greenlight a broad Justice inquiry (absent specific new evidence of wrongdoing). "If there was any effort to have war-crimes prosecutions of the Bush administration, you'd instantly destroy whatever hopes you have of bipartisanship," said Robert Litt, a former Justice criminal division chief during the Clinton administration. A new commission, on the other hand, could emulate the bipartisan tone set by Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton in investigating the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 panel was created by Congress. An alternative model, floated by human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, would be a presidential commission similar to the one appointed by Gerald Ford in 1975 and headed by Nelson Rockefeller that investigated cold-war abuses by the CIA.

Supporting Our Troops
Marine Cpl. James Dixon was wounded twice in Iraq -- by a roadside bomb and a land mine. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a dislocated hip and hearing loss. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army Sgt. Lori Meshell shattered a hip and crushed her back and knees while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. She has undergone a hip replacement and knee reconstruction and needs at least three more surgeries.

In each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat-related.

In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military's definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits -- and triggering outrage from veterans' advocacy groups.

The Pentagon said the change was consistent with Congress' intent when it passed a "wounded warrior" law in January. (...)

Years ago, Congress adopted a detailed definition of combat-related disabilities. It included such criteria as hazardous service, conditions simulating war and disability caused by an "instrumentality of war." Those criteria were not altered in the January legislation.

The Pentagon, in establishing an internal policy based on the legislation, in March unlawfully stripped those criteria from the legislation, the Disabled American Veterans said.

"We do not view this as an oversight," Baker testified before Congress in June. "We view this as an intentional effort to conserve monetary resources at the expense of disabled veterans."

Did Talk Radio Kill Conservatism?
It is not that conservatism generally permits less nuance than liberalism (in terms of political messaging, that is probably one of conservatism's strengths). Rather, the key lies in the second passage that I highlighted. There are a certain segment of conservatives who literally cannot believe that anybody would see the world differently than the way they do. They have not just forgotten how to persuade; they have forgotten about the necessity of persuasion.

John Ziegler is a shining example of such a conservative. During my interview with him, Ziegler made absolutely no effort to persuade me about the veracity of any of his viewpoints. He simply asserted them -- and then became frustrated, paranoid, or vulgar when I rebutted them. (...)

Moreover, almost uniquely to radio, most of the audience is not even paying attention to you, because most people listen to radio when they're in the process of doing something else. (If they weren't doing something else, they'd be watching TV). They are driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes -- and you have to work really hard to sustain their attention. Hence what Wallace refers to as the importance of "stimulating" the listener, an art that Ziegler has mastered. Invariably, the times when Ziegler became really, really angry with me during the interview was when I was not permitting him to be stimulating, but instead asking him specific, banal questions that required specific, banal answers. Those questions would have made for terrible radio! And Ziegler had no idea how to answer them. (...)

Conservatives listen to significantly more talk radio than other market segments; 28 percent of conservative Republicans listen to talk radio regularly, as opposed to 17 percent of the public as a whole. (Unsurprisingly, conservative hosts also dominate the the Arbitron ratings). It may have gone to their heads a little bit; they may have forgotten about radio's idiosyncrasies as a means of communication. The failures of the Bush administration have woken the country up; conservatives now need to find a way to communicate with people who are actually paying attention.

Blog Coverage Matters!
And [Obama] does indeed respond to pressure from bloggers:

A number of bloggers -- most notably Glenn Greenwald, Digby, and Andrew Sullivan -- have raised serious concerns about intelligence official John Brennan, who's been rumored to be a possible candidate for either the CIA director or the Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration.
Brennan's critics accused him of supporting some of the Bush administration's most offensive intelligence-gathering policies, including rendition and "enhanced interrogation techniques." Obama, they said, even if he intended to move far away from those policies, should not make room for Brennan in his administration.
The criticism seems to have had the desired effect. Brennan has withdrawn from consideration for any intelligence post in the Obama administration.


As for the broader context, Brennan's withdrawal appears to be the direct result of blog coverage. For those who believe bloggers' concerns are inconsequential, this is clear evidence to the contrary.
Most excellent. Brennan wasn't the most outrageous choice Obama could have made, but he was, nevertheless, an apologist for the Bush regime and has no place in the next administration. I'm glad our objections made a difference.

Why Center-Left Blogs Dominate
For more than two years, I was the editor for Salon' "Blog Report," featuring posts from the left and right. It led me to read dozens of conservative blogs every day, and I quickly realized that when it came to depth and seriousness of thought, the two sides weren't close. (James Joyner, who is both thoughtful and knowledgeable, is a noticeable exception.)

Indeed, to help drive the point home, earlier this year, Erick Erickson, RedState's editor, acknowledged that the "netroots" have an advantage over the "rightroots," but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

This is largely the kind of thinking that dominates on conservative blogs. They can't quite get to policy disputes or serious analysis, because they're too busy mulling over the implications of liberals joining forces with Islamofascists, the United Nations, and Mexican immigrants to execute some kind of nefarious plot.

Worse, Kevin noted that when these blogs do consider key policies, such as global warming and growing income inequality, they tend to believe the problems don't exist.

"Global warming and skyrocketing income inequality are problems that didn't even exist in 1980, which means there is no 'Reaganite' solution to appeal to," Kevin concluded. "There might still be conservative takes on these things, but they won't do any good until conservatives actually accept that these are real problems that people genuinely care about. That day still seems pretty far off."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More things I've been reading!

I keep finding these really cool pages, and I don't have time to turn these all into coherent entries about relevant stuff with insights from me (which I know you crave like the delicious crackity crack they are). However! I still wanted to share them. I kinda sorta tried to categorize them, though this doesn't always work perfectly.

Anyway! Have some stuff.


Quick Note: The Voters Who Like Wiccans

As more pollsters dissect Obama's win, we continue to get a trickle of interesting data points regarding modern Pagans. Conservative Christian polling organization The Barna Group has released their look at how "people of faith" voted in the 2008 election.

Faith and Works
Suppose you believed in a just and loving God, a God who had said the things I quoted above. And suppose you had taken it upon yourself to tell parents to throw their kids out onto the street, children to stop speaking to their "apostate" parents, and the various other things detailed in the Post story. The thought that you might be wrong might not worry you much if you didn't take God seriously -- if you just took Him to be a name you could toss around at will. But if you imagined that He was real -- a real other person who might or might not approve of the things you had done in His name -- then how could you not lie awake at night, wondering whether you had somehow mistaken His will? (...)

Again: taking God's name to justify all this wouldn't worry you if you didn't believe in God. But if you did, it would be terrifying. This is one of those cases in which I think that the actions of a religious person, though justified entirely in the language of faith, can best be understood on the assumption that the person in question does not really believe in God at all, in any serious sense.

What About Our Faiths?
"In Paganism, there is no sense of a norm in terms of a handfasted relationship. While the Church, and others keen to hold to a status quo, have been fearing for the future of marriage and the family with gay weddings and extended legal rights for couples cohabiting, the Pagan perspective is quite different. Tribe and family are of paramount importance, yet far more worrying than the increase in 'different' household arrangements is the ongoing decline in people's ability to craft intimate relationships at all." - Emma Restall Orr, "Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics"

As a recently re-galvanized LGBT community and their allies take to the streets protesting the passage of California's discriminatory Proposition 8 (which bans same-sex marriage), editor Japhy Grant at the prominent gay blog Queerty asks an important question.

"I personally understand that for many Prop. 8 supporters, their beliefs are the most important thing in the world to them, that the idea of living without those beliefs would be too much to bear. Well, that's how we feel about our equal rights. We are not asking you to abandon your faith, just stop making the rest of the country bow before your altar. What of the faiths which bless same-sex unions? Are you not denying them their freedom? Freedom from religion means freedom for all religions (even the absence of it), not just freedom for your religion. Keep your beliefs, but leave our rights alone."

This very point is one I, and other prominent Pagans, have brought up at length. Proclaimed caretakers of "traditional" marriage are quick to raise the flag of "religious freedom", while completely ignoring the fact that numerous faiths are denied the right to legal recognition of their own holy unions.


What Marriage Is
No on 8 never showed us the thousands of families that were directly threatened by this amendment, and they started to to disappear from the minds of Californians. Whenever Yes on 8 said, "Family!" No on 8 said, "Rights!" And as we already know, the heart only sings in response to one of those songs, even when the words are all wrong.

When the people of California went into the voting booth, they compared the two sides. And these Californians knew, in their heart, that what marriage is isn't a right, it's a family. And so they voted for the side they thought cared about protecting families, because for many of them, the rights about mariage didn't make sense in their heart. And it's easy to deny a person something you don't understand, aren't sure exists, barely realize you have. By the time they left the booth, they thought they'd protected families, perhaps at the cost of, at most, some legal technicalities.

What they did is destroy families.

If I could go back in time and run the No on 8 campaign, I would put those families front and center. I would run the ad where parents say, "I want to teach my duaghter that she doesn't have to worry about the state taking her away if something happens"; "I want to teach my son that if something happens to his mother, I can take care of both her and him." I would let these families stand in front of the state and say, "We are in danger. Think about your family, and protect our family."

Because I wish that Californians had understood what I knew in my heart. That when they voted yes on Prop 8, they weren't voting about laws or rights or judicial activism or theology or lawyers or mayors or even tradition. They were taking daughters and sons and husbands and wives and sisters and brothers and uncles and nieces and aunts and nephews and grandparents and stepchildren and saying, "You. You over there. Not the other ones, just you. YOU ARE NOT A FAMILY. YOU NEVER WERE. YOU NEVER WILL BE."

Because that's what they did.

And so many of them still don't even understand that.

Why civil rights should not be put to a majority vote.
"The religious institutions that file this petition ... count on article XVIII to ensure that the California Constitution's guarantee of equal protection for religious minorities cannot be taken away without a deliberative process of the utmost care possible in a representative democracy. If Proposition 8 is upheld, however, the assurance will disappear-- for, just as surely as gay men and lesbians could be deprived of equal protection by a simple majority vote, so too could religious minorities be deprived of equal protection-- a terrible irony in a nation founded by people who emigrated to escape religious persecution."

Phear of buttsechs and strong wimmen
I've noted before that it was straights who redefined marriage (during the sexual revolution) and gays getting in on it is reminding people that traditional "husband" and "wife" roles are fast disappearing. The effort to "defend traditional roles" may be a proxy for the politically incorrect desire to get the little lady back into the kitchen.


Affirmative Action for Conservatives
Eric Boehlert noted, "Who's stopping conservatives from being hired in newsrooms? Honestly. If Newsbusters can document how scores of qualified College Republican grads were passed over by local newspapers to poorly paying jobs to cover local zoning commission jobs simply because the applicants were conservative, we'd love to hear about it. Because right now there's nothing stopping young conservatives from joining newsrooms and working their way up from the bottom just like everybody else in media does. They just don't want to do it."

Gun ownership NOT a disqualification in Obama's administration. Conspiracy theories continue to fly.
Captain Ed Morrissey of the A-list righty blog Hot Air titles his response to this news "Owning a gun a disqualification in Obama administration."

That's a lie.

HHS Secretary-designate Tom Daschle is a gun owner, according to a spokesman quoted in this article, and according to an e-mail reproduced at the sight

Correction pending, Ed?

Making it Explicit
Pethokoukis and Cannon claim that if Obama succeeds in passing health care, then people who might have been conservatives will like it, and will be more likely to vote for the people who passed it. This is unexceptional. An honest conservative might accept this claim and say: well, I guess our ideas are unpopular, so we'll just have to make our case more persuasively.

But that's not the conclusion they draw. Pethokoukis and Cannon say: because people will like health care reform, if we do not block it, our party will lose support. So precisely because people would like it if they tried it, we need to make sure that it fails.

At least they're honest about it.


I believe that religion is a cultural system like any other, and that the first and most vital question is always whether Religion X is a cultural system in which I want to participate. Dogma and cosmology are a distant second.

I believe in forgiving those who have hurt me but cannot again.

I believe that anyone who wants me to forgive and forget their offenses is up to something.

I believe that every person is responsible for her failures, which means that it's ultimately my fault if I hurt someone no matter what they did to provoke me. But it's also someone else's fault if they hurt me no matter what I did.

I believe that gender is a toy that some people like to play with and some people don't. How we play and when is nobody's business but our own.

I believe that nobody's perfect. I also believe that--for the most part--people who invoke "nobody's perfect" are afraid of trying to be, or too lazy to care.

I believe that no one should listen to the Broadway recording of Les Miserables if the London cast recording is available.

I believe that if you can't prove something to me, you probably haven't proven it to yourself either.

I believe that if someone doesn't know what they want or what they need, I am not obligated to provide them with either.

I believe that boring people who read books with boring characters probably don't know what they're missing.

I believe that anyone who plays a musical instrument can sing if they try (though this is iffy with percussionists).

I believe that the end result of a decision is more important than the principle behind it, though both do matter.

I believe that relationships are like books: just because I start one doesn't mean I have to finish it no matter how miserable it makes me.

I believe that love marries people in the eyes of the gods, and that lack of love separates them. Everything else is a legal or cultural hoop to jump through so that other mortals can understand what the gods already know.

I believe that the narratives of a religion do not have to be historically truthful in order to teach something.

I believe that different branches of the US military tend to attract different kinds of people, ranging from brilliant engineers to thick-necked thugs. I believe all are necessary, but that some are easier to respect than others.

I believe that Americans dress in too much pastel or drab grey. More color, my countrymen, more color!

I believe that if you do not trust me with a choice, you cannot trust me with a child.

I believe that hospitality is important. If you have guests, take care of them as best you can with the means on hand. A good guest will not demand too much anyway.

I believe that we should offer to consenting humans every mercy we offer to housepets. We often adopt animals from shelters instead of breeding new ones to reduce the number of homeless pets, and consider putting down terminally ill pets to be an act of mercy. Do humans deserve less, if they want it?

I believe that the day you enter adulthood is the day you shout at someone to close the damned door because we're not heating the outside.

I believe lots of things. Some are more important than others, and some change. But these are fairly consistent. I was thinking about this earlier today, and thought I'd try and get down as many as I could. Maybe in a few years I'll make another such list and see what's changed.

And hell, why not turn this into a meme. What do you guys believe? Make your totally random list and post it up. I'm curious to see where we overlap and where we differ.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I want to be your sledgehammer. Why don't you call my name?

Went to the nationwide Prop 8 protest in Indianapolis. There were a few dozen people there (I think) out in the windy cold, but a friend who went with us bought a big carton of bagels at Einstein Bros. to share, and someone else hit a Dunkin Donuts to contribute coffee.

I'd never been to a protest before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Everyone was really nice, and some people had brought their kids (so we all kinda ended up keeping an eye on them as they ran around and tried to get away with crap when their parents couldn't see). My favorite part was the cars driving by honking for us and waving out their windows. That made me smile every single time.

There was one lone counter-protester most of the time. He had a sign that said "Jesus Saves" on one side, and "Say no to sodomy" on the other. Now and again people would join him and shake Bibles in the air, but mostly he was alone. The going theory was that someone might have paid one of Indy's homeless to switch signs, because it's hard to think of anyone else willingly standing all alone on a streetcorner being ignored.

The greatest comment came from one of the guys standing near me. He gestured to the "say no to sodomy" sign and quipped, "Say no to sodomy? Well, yeah. I mean, sometimes we all do, like, 'no, I have to go to work.'" Everyone was nice to the poor bastard, though. When we walked by him we made sure to toss him a kind word so that he didn't have any room to rail about the nasty nasty gays and their nasty hetero backers.

It was a good day, even if I was still a little tired and chilled later. It was definitely worth it, and I'm glad we could go.

In other news, some links to stuff I've been reading:

A collection of semi-random science stories. This blogger puts one of these up each Sunday, but this one was particularly cool.

Obama already affecting Iraq policy.

Obama to Explore New Approach in Afghanistan War.

Bush is trying to do it again. He needs to seriously stop trying to redefine various birth control methods as abortion. Will you guys go sign on again? We did it once, and we evidently need to do it again.

SC Catholic Priest: Obama Voters Should Not Take Communion because they have cooperated "with intrinsic evil."

Obama gives up his Senate seat early.

The United States' merc outfit is in some trouble now for shipping automatic weapons to Iraq without proper permits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Leaving LDS

Thanks to anjala for linking to Mormons Resigning Despite Strong Heritage, Citing 'Hatred' by LDS Church.

Mormons continued to register their resignations with, and post resignation letters to Signing for Something this week, citing "hatred" and "discrimination" among their chief reasons for quitting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These resignations come among the continuing backlash against the Mormon Church's involvement in passing California's Proposition 8 last week to take away the right of civil marriage for gays and lesbians.

Excepts of a few recent letters are posted here, with links to the full letters. (...)

Andrew Callahan's diary:
Since the LDS church has decided to VERY PUBLICLY extend their hatred beyond their realm I’ve decided that the time has come to make my voice heard, too. I resigned membership recently as has one of my friends from California who was recently married to his partner of 28 years.

More from:

But now I see that there isn’t a community or a place for me. There’s not a place for the people I love. The Church is not a place for anybody who believes in equal rights and the Constitution of the United States of America. The Church is not pro-marriage, it is anti-gay. The leadership fights for bigotry and hate. The God I grew up with was perfect in His Love and Justice. Shame on the men who act so disgracefully in His name. See complete letter here:

Families alienated over the church's approach to "protecting" them:
As a member of the LDS church I was always taught to love one another and to treat everyone with a certain amount of respect. The position the church took on this particular issue went against everything I learned from the church. Not only was the church’s position discriminatory, but it was also hateful.

I found it extremely strange that it took the church 14 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act to allow black members to hold the priesthood. I just excused this inaction as a mistake, but now as I see history repeat itself I realize that it wasn’t a mistake and the Mormon Church will always discriminate.

My whole family has been traumatized by the church’s efforts and will be sending in letters of resignations. See complete letter here:

And one more:
For 45 years I served in every calling I was asked, in leadership, in service, in every capacity. I did it because I knew I was serving my Heavenly Father, a loving God. I continue to serve him and in doing so, I am resigning from this organization that I believe to be corrupt from the egos of mere men, that has strayed so far from its’ original mission to serve God and His people. See complete letter here:

Thank you, guys. Thank you for not letting your church hierarchy speak for you, for not letting them spread lies and fear in your name. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints may not be listening to you, but you sure as heck got my attention.

For those of you who aren't sure yet whether the church is flat-out wrong, check this out. 11 Scriptural Reasons Latter-Day Saints Should Oppose California's Proposition 8. You can find more resources along the same lines at

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"It's what you do that defines you."

It's a frightening thing to realize that someone you're talking to doesn't disagree with you because they're coming from a vastly different set of values, but because they've never actually thought very hard about how to apply values the two of you allegedly share. The moment you realize this is the moment you realize that you are fighting a losing battle, and it's an appropriate time to walk away (or run screaming from the unspeakable Cthulhoid horror that is their critical thinking ability).

Of course, there are other options. I could sit and explain things in terms they perhaps have not heard before. I could have a long discussion in which I dig down into people's self-images and alleged values to force them to look at their own decisions as closely as I'm looking at them.

I could get them to think about themselves, instead of being blindly reactionary. I've done it before, so I know it's possible. But lately my immediate reaction to someone who says, "I think all Americans should be equal under the law," but also says that legally "redefining marriage" to include everybody is wrong... is to write them off.

How about another example? A missionary telling me that they respect the beliefs of people they're evangelizing to--even if they still think those people would be better off abandoning them.

How about another, you ask? Someone who claims that children shouldn't be raised by two men because they need the judgment and influence only a mother can offer, but that that same mother isn't morally mature enough to be allowed to decide for herself whether to bear a child in the first place.

There are more. Someone who knows they should seem informed to be taken seriously, but who replies to all offered evidential proof with, "we could all link statistics all day and it wouldn't mean anything."

Maybe those people who know it's bad to say black people are inherently inferior to white people, but still don't want their daughters dating them, or voting for them.

I'm anthropology-girl. It's my job to pay attention to people and try to make sense of them. But is it really worth the trouble to do this with people who aren't even paying attention to themselves? I just want to send one last message and then ignore them forever. "I don't have time to teach you the critical thinking skills necessary to compare and contrast the contradictory things you claim to believe."

I think the problem here is a disconnect between how people want to be seen and how they are. It's "politically correct" to avoid expressing overtly homophobic, jingoistic, misogynist, anti-intellectual or racist sentiments, and doing so will cause you social disruptions. The problem is that people have internalized these growing cultural expectations without actually thinking about why. This means that they don't understand why it's bad to be homophobic or racist. Just why it's bad to get caught.

If you don't want people to think that you're scared of what'll happen if homosexuals are equal under the law, maybe you should really ask yourself why people with those fears are reviled as ignorant or bigoted.

If you don't want people to think that you're an arrogant fanatic, maybe you should ask yourself why people treat missionaries like they're arrogant fanatics.

If you think a woman cannot be trusted with a choice (but can be trusted with a child), maybe you should ask yourself why people seem to think you're cornering women into a single social role.

If you don't think research can prove anything, why do you think people treat you like this is a bad thing that makes you uninformed?

If you don't want to be seen as racist, ask yourself what it is that makes people think racism is destructive.

Ask yourself questions. Figure yourself out. Don't make me do it for you, because I just might show you a person you've been taught to dislike. I just might show you the person I've seen all along: someone who will claim to hold whatever values make them look like a good person, but who works against those values whenever they think they won't get caught.

In my current frustration, I can't help but think that these people are either completely comfortable with hypocrisy, or they're just too damned dull for the sustained critical thinking necessary to detect hypocrisy in the first place. This isn't to say that all people who disagree with me must be either evil or stupid. But people who disagree with me and claim to be upholding the very values they are eroding... they're a different story.

The shortest way to say this? "Be what you would seem to be." If you wouldn't uncritically accept someone else's beliefs without comparing them to their actions... why should anyone accept yours?

Once more with a transcript!

Everyone everywhere is talking about this, but there's a reason. Wow, Keith.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because... truly... I do not understand.

Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want -- a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them -- no. (...)

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage.

If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal... in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until death, do you part," but "Until death or distance, do you part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing. Centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have--through a lie to themselves or others--broken countless other lives, of spouses and children... All because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman.

The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace that love? The world is barren enough. It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward.

Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work. And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling.

With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then spread happiness -- this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness -- share it with all those who seek it.

The video is at the link I gave above. And really, I'd like an answer to Keith's questions as well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Resource Management

Y'know. This is a good point.

This is a pretty intense crystallization of an issue that American and European leftists have been troubled by for a long time, that some of the constituencies most afflicted by or excluded from capitalist economies are also the most reactionary and in some cases, the most inclined to have strongly felt racial biases.

It’s schadenfreudey fun to read the ongoing psychotic meltdowns at various far-right sites like the Corner, I agree. But there’s little need to take the really bad-faith conservatives seriously now. For the last eight years, we’ve had to take them somewhat seriously because they had access to political power. You had to listen to the hack complaints about academia from endlessly manipulative writers because it was perfectly plausible that whatever axe they were grinding was going to end up as a priority agenda item coming out of Margaret Spelling’s office or get incorporated into legislation by right-wing state legislators. You had to listen to and reply to even the most laughably incoherent, goalpost-moving, anti-reality-based neoconservative writer talking about Iraq or terrorism because there was an even-money chance that you were hearing actual sentiments going back and forth between Dick Cheney’s office and the Pentagon. You had to answer back to Jonah Goldberg not just because making that answer was arguably our responsibility as academics, but also because left alone, some of the aggressively bad-faith caricatures he and others served up had a reasonable chance to gain even further strength through incorporation into federal policy.

There are plenty of thoughtful, good-faith conservatives who need to be taken seriously. And the actual conservatism of many communities and constituencies (in Appalachia and elsewhere) remains, as always, a social fact that it would be perilous to ignore or dismiss.

But I think we can all make things just ever so slightly better, make the air less poisonous, by pushing to the margins of our consciousness the crazy, bad, gutter-dwelling, two-faced, tendentious high-school debator kinds of voices out there in the public sphere, including and especially in blogs. Let them stew in their own juices, without the dignity of a reply, now that their pipelines to people with real political power have been significantly cut.

Hilzoy adds:
Until last Tuesday, I felt I had to take arguments made at, say, The Corner somewhat seriously. They were, after all, arguments that were likely to be taken seriously by people in charge of our government, and by some voters. Starting now, though, that changes. I will write about those arguments if they seem to be gaining broader currency, and I can imagine writing a thoughtful post on, say, what's gone wrong with the conservative movement in which I might quote them. I will also keep reading them, just because I think it's a good idea to know what other people are saying. But I will not feel any general need to point out when they are wrong. They have no more power. Some of them have gone so far over the edge that they have lost any credibility they might ever have had. I wish them well, but I will not comment on them unless I see some particular reason to do so. I now have the luxury of debating only thoughtful, sane conservatives who argue in good faith, and I intend to enjoy it.

This is something I must keep in mind. I don't know how well I'll do, but now that certain views are not directing public policy to the same degree they used to, attempting to fight them is not the same crusade against institutionalized irrationality and anti-intellectualism.

The danger in this is obviously that progressives might become complacent. This election has taught us that there is nothing so absurd that you can write it off as too small to be a threat (flag pins what-now?).

I guess the compromise would be to merely drop in on the irrational doomsayers, conspiracy theorists, and wannabe-prognosticators crying out against the godless liberal Illuminati out to destroy families with tyrannical European ideas. Drop in on them. Remind myself they exist outside of The Onion. Then go back to the land of reason. Progressives can't take too much of a break, but it's important to remember that there are other tasks to complete and battles to fight.

We can't waste time arguing reason with the irrational, presenting evidence to anti-academics, or preaching civil rights to values voters who only value people "like them." They're not going to be convinced. We speak different languages. Reason can't fight faith, evidence can't fight anti-intellectualism, and civil rights don't always matter to those who've got them. Accept it.

So let's spend our time where it'll do some good. We've got a new President-Elect who needs to be held accountable to his stated intentions. We've got a Democratic majority in the legislature that needs to grow a pair and hopefully will, now that the balance of power has changed. And we've got more and more people who are realizing that "us" and "them" were not who they seemed at first blush.

So let's do something. Let the wingnuts throw temper tantrums because the grownups are talking to each other instead of giving them attention. Consider this their time-out.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Holy crap. This is amazing.

Y'know, I read a lot of people swooning over, and so I checked it out. I figure, okay, Obama has a new website. That's nice.

The hype was right. I think copperstewart said it best. "I'm impressed. It's a bold naming of our problems in ways politicians often won't, and without many euphemisms. Take a gander at the "Civil Rights" section." He also added, "My federal worker partner is also quite impressed and a little stunned, as I am, to see that the rhetoric isn't being tempered or swept under the rug, but actually elaborated and addressing our REAL problems. He's actually making himself MORE accountable. I can't believe it."

Go look. Really, go look.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I posted this comment to an acquaintance's journal, and thought it might be worth posting up as an entry in its own right.

For the record, civil unions aren't the same as marriage. Even if the rights on paper are the same, as I understand it there are a lot of policies (both government and private for things like insurance companies) that refer to "marriage" or "spouse." If a policy refers to "marriage" or "spouses," the spirit of the law would indicate that civil unions and partners thereof also count.

But if it's not required, you know people and companies and organizations will try to get away with giving gays less. In states that allow civil unions, you get conversations that go like this:

"I know what you're asking for, but it says marriage here, and what you have is a civil union."

"Dude, you know what they mean."

"But it says marriage, and everyone knows gays can't marry."

That's what tends to happen in states that allow gays to have civil unions but not marriages. I think a lot of people haven't quite caught on to the fact that we've tried the whole line that "it's okay to have separate establishments and accomodations for different kinds of people. As long as they're equal, there's nothing wrong. And people will make sure they're equal, right?"

America sucks at "separate but equal," which is why we unfortunately can't use "civil union" as a synonym for the legal contract of marriage. I did for a while, because I think the government should let consenting adults have whatever kind of legal marriage they want, and we'll leave individual church denominations the choice of whether they want to discriminate against certain kinds of couples in their own religious practice. Can't legally stop them from being dicks there.

One thing that I think is interesting about the times when this comes up in political discourse is watching how many politicians are pushing for civil unions because they really want gays to be able to get married... they just can't use the M-word without panicking churches who're afraid they'll lose their leeway to discriminate. Personally I think Obama is for full-on "call it marriage" gay marriage. He's dropped hints about it when talking with LGBT publications.

This was a great article from The Advocate.

Q: Both you and your wife speak eloquently about being told to wait your turn and how if you had done that, you might not have gone to law school or run for Senate or even president. To some extent, isn’t that what you’re asking same-sex couples to do by favoring civil unions over marriage -- to wait their turn?

I don’t ask them that. Anybody who’s been at an LGBT event with me can testify that my message is very explicit -- I don’t think that the gay and lesbian community, the LGBT community, should take its cues from me or some political leader in terms of what they think is right for them. It’s not my place to tell the LGBT community, "Wait your turn." I’m very mindful of Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” where he says to the white clergy, "Don’t tell me to wait for my freedom."

So I strongly respect the right of same-sex couples to insist that even if we got complete equality in benefits, it still wouldn’t be equal because there’s a stigma associated with not having the same word, marriage, assigned to it. I understand that, but my perspective is also shaped by the broader political and historical context in which I’m operating. And I’ve said this before -- I’m the product of a mixed marriage that would have been illegal in 12 states when I was born. That doesn’t mean that had I been an adviser to Dr. King back then, I would have told him to lead with repealing an antimiscegenation law, because it just might not have been the best strategy in terms of moving broader equality forward.

That’s a decision that the LGBT community has to make. That’s not a decision for me to make. (...)

As I said, I think the LGBT community has every right to push for what it thinks is right. And I think that it’s absolutely fair to ask me for leadership, and my argument would be that I’m ahead of the curve on these issues compared to 99% of most elected officials around the country on this issue. So I think I’ve shown leadership.

What this says to me is, "I can't fight this battle right now, because if I do I won't get elected and I won't be any good to you. But I want you to keep fighting for it because you're right, for the same reasons the civil rights movement was right. I just can't die on that hill right now if you still want a president in office who gives a damn about you."

Fortunately people like me aren't running for election, which means that there are basically no real consequences to me being vocal about what I want. I don't want civil rights being up to a vote, because whenever the majority gets to vote on the rights of the minority, it goes poorly.

I agree that the USA will become more and more ready for gay marriage because, despite being legendary worldwide for being one of the most conservative nations this side of the Middle East, we're catching up. But even if leaving these issues up to state vote means that people will eventually get their rights, it will be after a long struggle in which people continue to suffer. Real people, who will never get their time or their sanity back once they've been wasted by injustice. I know that eventually gays will be able to marry in America, and the official LDS hierarchy wouldn't be so scared if they didn't know it, too.

What I also know is that people have already suffered because of Prop 8, and it's only been a few days. And that means it's too late. Their rights have been infringed upon, their relationships degraded, their commitments disregarded. I saw an entry on livejournal that was really short and still just hurt to read it.
A gay friend of mine in California just changed his Facebook status from "engaged" to "in a relationship." Obviously, who cares about Facebook... but that breaks my heart.

And, you know, the way it's actually worded makes it even worse: "[my friend] went from being "engaged" to "in a relationship."

Just like that.

If I were engaged to Brian and suddenly Indiana passed a law stating that we couldn't marry because, say, our religions don't match up the way the state thinks they should... how would I feel? How would you feel?

Because of how that would feel, I've actually made the decision not to marry until gays in my state can marry. In Indiana this means that the best I can have is a domestic partnership. Maybe if straight people start getting the little half-marriages allowed to gays, we can erode the myth of "separate but equal" by refusing to let gays be separate. What gays can't have, I don't want. which, amusingly enough, means that it isn't gays who are damaging my likelihood to get a "legitimate, godly" marriage. It's people who're scared of gays, and of what'll happen if gays are treated like they're citizens.

Perhaps that's part of why this is such a powerful issue for me. I'm a woman in a healthy, loving, beautiful committed relationship. I know that's what Brian and I have, and so does everyone else. But if he were a woman and not a man, he would be the "wrong" sex to have a healthy, loving, beautiful committed relationship with me.

I think it's sex discrimination to let Brian marry me because he's a man when he would be forbidden to do so if he were a woman. Putting it in terms of sex discrimination isn't something most people do, but that's how I think of it. I would have the same relationship with Brian if we were two gay men or two gay women. But if one of us had the wrong sex organs, we would be forbidden to marry because our relationship would be less morally-correct according to a religious code that neither of us shares.

I think that's tragic. That's why, until gays can have it... I don't want it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh, Facebook.

Wow, the internet is dumb.

Facebook status feed: "[Friend] is thinking of moving out of the Country!! SOOO SAD!!!"

I replied, "Europe and Canada are both more liberal than the US, though. I guess there's always the Middle East! =D"

Victory and Defeat

As Reed, the head of Butler Democrats said:

"Yes, that's right: the state that at one point had the largest population of KKK members of anywhere in the country, a state whose politics had long been corrupted by racists and segregationists, a state that had not elected a Democrat for President in 44 years, a state that re-elected George W. Bush in 2004 by a 60-40 margin, this same state elected a black, liberal, intellectual Democrat named Barack Hussein Obama as President!"

Indiana: dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world, but by a much wider margin than any of us expected. I think the final count was about fifteen thousand votes' worth of difference.

I'm amazed. We figured Obama would win the presidency, but Indiana? Really?

We waited to start drinking until Indiana's results were certain, but we did it! Guys, we shoved Indiana into the blue. As Suzanne said,
Obama has reminded us that this country was not just founded on the promise of financial opportunity. It was founded on the promise of -ideaological- opportunity. Of liberty and equality.

Until now, it's been fashionable to be cynical. But I think that's been to hide the pain we've felt as a society, for being so let down, for falling so short of our ideals.

And now, suddenly, it seems that this election tells us that the idealists are still a majority in this country after all.

THAT gives me hope.

Me, too. Other great commentary on this follows.

Daughter of slave votes for Obama
Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a man born into slavery, has lived a life long enough to touch three centuries. And after voting consistently as a Democrat for 70 years, she has voted early for the country's first black presidential nominee.

Historic Election Stirs Homeless to Vote
Frederick Williams, a Marine Corps veteran scraping by on unemployment benefits, describes his living situation as "not homeless but close to it" and says he never cared enough to vote -- until Tuesday.

At age 43, Williams shuffled into a Los Angeles homeless shelter carrying his worldly belongings in a small travel case and a knotted plastic bag and proudly cast the first ballot of his life with guidance from poll workers.

Williams said he voted for Barack Obama, whose message of hope and bid to become the first black president of the United States stirred him like no other politician.

"This is history in the making. I wanted to be part of that," said Williams, who lives in a transient hotel a few blocks from the polling station at the Los Angeles Mission.

"For once in my lifetime ... someone really cares about the small people out there."

Williams was one of hundreds of people -- many first-time voters lacking permanent dwellings -- who cast ballots this year on Skid Row, a 50-block downtown area believed to harbor the highest concentration of homeless in the United States.

Poll Analysis!
Digging through the numbers, we see:

* Obama won self-identified independents (52% to 44%), and self-identified moderates (60% to 39%). I guess no one believed the whole "maverick" thing.

* While Obama did far better with white voters than most recent Democratic candidates, McCain still won every age of whites -- except whites under 30, who strongly backed Obama (54% to 44%).

* Obama narrowly won among men (49% to 48%), and won among women by a large margin (56% to 43%).

* For all the talk about Obama being unable to win over Hispanic support, Hispanic voters backed Obama by more than a 2-to-1 margin. McCain's Hispanic support dropped 10 points from Bush's four years ago.

* Obama won Roman Catholic voters, another group he was supposed to lose.

I started making some notes the other day about the presidential election, the turning points, the strategies, etc. And it occurred to me that the entire Republican strategy was based on nothing but fear. Fear of change, fear of hope, fear of a skinny man with a funny name. Fear of socialism, fear of a tax increase, fear of government. Fear of anything that looked, sounded, or might be perceived as foreign. Fear of the light at the end of the tunnel -- it might be a train. (...)

It was striking to see how Americans responded to the fear-mongering. Obama's lead over McCain in the polls grew in the face of the economic crisis, but the lead even more when McCain and his party tried desperately to scare Americans. The more we were supposed to feel afraid, the more voters responded to Obama's message. The more intense the smears against him, the higher Obama's favorability ratings.

There were quite a few messages for the political world yesterday, but one came through loud and clear: We don't want to be afraid anymore.

Photos of Reactions Around the World

But lest progressives get too caught up in our victory, there is still a lot of work to be done. Proposition 8 (the California proposition being pushed by the LDS church to ban gay marriage and probably annul the marriages already performed) is looking strong. As someone with great respect for the establishment of marriage (something I didn't understand until I was in a years-long committed relationship of a my own), this saddens me.

As arctangent said, "I want to celebrate, I really do, but Yes We Can (But No, Gays Can't) is a rather difficult message for me to rally around."

Ballot Measure Results from CNN

The commitments of homosexuals were declared invalid in Arkansas (where they are now forbidden to adopt children), California and Florida (where they are now unable to marry their partners).

Stay strong, guys. This is your country, too. We haven't forgotten you. But here's my question: Where were YOU?
Constitutional ban on same-sex marriages passes by 238,000 votes statewide. (...)

And hey, San Francisco... the entire city cast only 177,000 "no" votes?! What gives? That's less than Pride Day! Where are the other 500,000 of you on this issue?

Help us out, here. We love you guys and we know you love each other. I know it's hard to be told again and again that you aren't capable of the same feelings and commitments that straight people are, and I know it's hard to be an exhilerated newliwed and then to have it taken away by people who claim they "don't discriminate."

But if you don't fight, who will? I know that it hurts to lose out on the Prop 8 battle because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spread terrible lies about you and about this Proposition.

Right now there's a push to get the LDS church's tax-exempt status revoked because they used a religious organization to influence politics. Some info on that is here. At first I was on board with it, since I think that they were way out of line here. However, they were well within their rights even if they have permanently lost the respect of non-homophobic people nationwide.

So we may not be able to justify stripping them of their status with the IRS, but you can bet that the next time Mormons come to my door, they'll hear from me. And they will have some explaining to do and they will not enjoy it. Because if they're no friends of yours they're no friends of mine.

I know how much this must hurt, even if I probably can't really feel it as keenly as you must be. But I'm here. As long as you're still fighting, I'll be right with you. We'll get there.


Yes we did.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I am voter number 477 to put a ballot into the machine at my polling location. I voted for Barack Obama, and surprisingly enough did not go straight ticket. No waiting, but I did see the same adorable nun handing out pamphlets about Obama's health care plan on the steps that I saw during the Democratic primaries. She had a little Obama flier taped to the chest of her habit, which is how I first recognized her. I thought that was a hilarious thing to do.

That lady gives me hope. I'm glad to see that the economy, poverty, civil rights, and health care are issues for some classically-termed "values voters." You go, Sister. Those are my values, too. looks pretty favorable. Predicting an electoral vote spread of 348.6/189.4, with Obama winning 98.9% of the 10,000 simulations they ran today. Indiana is--sadly--looking pretty red again by their count, but I think it'll be close.

We'll know before the night is over, though.

Have you guys voted yet? If you have, post a comment here to show my little corner of the internet that you kick ass, no matter whom you chose. The point is that you need to vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Relevant meme?!

Copy this sentence into your journal if you're in a heterosexual marriage, and you don't want it "protected" by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.

I'm not actually married, but I've been in a relationship for about four years and the sentiment stands.