Saturday, May 19, 2007

The End of a Life Spent Oppressing Others.

I've been watching and reading, looking at the patterns of dialogue about the death of Jerry Falwell.

One thing I've noticed is that much, perhaps the majority of really angry commentary, has come from heterosexual people, and that it seems to be evenly divided between people of faith, and agnostic/atheists. I think that a lot of these people are now releasing emotions coming from having felt conned, tricked and betrayed. Others I think, are genuinely angry at the way their faith, Christianity, was tarnished by a ministry of destruction and oppression. And no doubt, some are angry on behalf of themselves or loved ones - GLBTQ people, Jews, women, liberals, people of color, that Falwell denigrated and defamed to make his living.

I noticed that there is a real effort from many GLBTQ people of faith, to separate the man from his deeds and words, to reject and even condemn the words and deeds, to keep alive the memory of the harm he did, while being as compassionate as they can toward the man and his family.

I find myself thinking though, about the people Jerry harmed with his ministry. I wonder, how many GLBTQ kids killed themselves because they heard Falwell denounce them over and over again on TV. How many GLBTQ teens today will not be pushed to the brink, because they will not hear him revile them on the evening news or from a pulpit ever again?

I wonder too about the young men, and women, who are in prison now, because they acted on Falwell's messages of contempt for people of color, and Jews, and GLBTQ people. Their lives are damaged, perhaps beyond repair, because they believed what he had to say. How many people will not grow up to commit hate crimes now, because Falwell is no longer preaching hate?

I can't help but wonder, though, how much better still it would have been, if he had renounced his ministry of oppression, and then lived another twenty years or more, spending it in repentance and working to right the wrongs he'd incited?

I wish he'd spent his considerable communication skills, his zeal and other gifts creating justice, compassion, respect, instead of demonizing millions of human beings and fostering oppression and persecution. No doubt, we'll never really know the full extent of the harm he did during his life, and can never fully imagine how much good he could have done.

I think the lesson here is to decide, each of us, what we want for our legacy - oppression of others, or liberation, and then live accordingly.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The IMAGINE Piano Peace Project

There's little I can add about this subject that isn't being told better by Steve himself.

So, I'll give you a little taste or two and let you follow links to get it right from the source.

when Caroline True from the IMAGINE Piano Peace Project contacted her and said
they wanted to put John Lennon's piano in her home to take a photo of it for a souvenir album, Gabi insisted they contact me and allow me to participate.They're bringing the piano to places of violence and taking photos of the IMAGINE piano in these places in order to bring attention to these acts of violence. They will be making a photo book and are also shooting a documentary of the process.

George Michael bought the Lennon piano at an auction in October 2000. Considered
the most expensive piece of pop memorabilia, experts have estimated its value at US$8 million to $12 million. Michael and his partner, Kenny Goss, owner of Goss
Gallery in Dallas, want to further strengthen the project’s peaceful message, by having “Imagine” performed on the piano at each stop. A video documentary and a
published volume of the images are under development, with plans to donate
proceeds to charity.

When I spoke with Caroline True, the creative director of the Imagine Piano Peace Project, about the event, she said they try to not plan too much, but to simply let the moment happen. Put the piano in the place of violence and just let it speak for itself. Let the people do what they will do. The mere fact of this piano in this place is what
is really powerful. The poetry of it is overwhelming. The sound of this little
instrument inspired a great and meaningful anthem to peace.

You have to read the rest for yourself. Nothing I could add would improve on Steve's own words.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

HR 1592, Some Conservative Leaders, and Dishonesty

I've been reading and watching as other bloggers have posted very careful and insightful, vibrant and well-documented coverage of the propoganda campaign run by specific convservative christian organizations to obstruct passage of HR 1592. What can I add to this discussion? - when every false claim has been refuted with concrete substantiating evidence. (Amazing great job, to everyone working on this).

This is an important quote from the link above:

the religious right will continue to have the federally protected right to preach hatred from the pulpit and disseminate the videos of white supremacists.

I like patterns, the way individual parts reveal a larger whole. It occurs to me that act of lying, along with the specific lies and frauds being told some conservative christians, by professional homophobes, is worth examining.

A bit About Lying.

How Lying Evolves

From about age 4 on, children lie for many of the same reasons adults do: to avoid punishment, to gain an advantage, to protect against an unwanted consequence, and even to boost self-esteem. Youngsters, like adults, sometimes lie to demonstrate power, to maintain privacy, or to protect a friend. When a child lies, she is essentially trying to change a situation, to reconstruct things the way she wants them to be.

Summary from Wikipedia

"The capacity to lie is noted early and nearly universally in human development. Evolutionary psychology is concerned with the theory of mind which people employ to simulate another's reaction to their story and determine if a lie will be believable. The most commonly cited milestone, what is known as Machiavellian intelligence, is at the age of about four and a half years, when children begin to be able to lie convincingly. Before this, they seem simply unable to comprehend that anyone doesn't see the same view of events that they do — and seem to assume that there is only one point of view — their own — that must be integrated into any given story.

And Dr. Gail Saltz explains why they do it and how to spot one

They lie to protect themselves, look good, gain financially or socially and avoid punishment. Quite often the person who has been deceived knows that this type of liar has to a certain extent deluded him or herself and is therefore to be somewhat pitied. A much more troubling group is those who lie a lot — and knowingly — for personal gain. These people may have a diagnosis called antisocial personality disorder, also known as being a sociopath, and often get into scrapes with the law.

One more source, and then a recap.

"It's tied in with self-esteem," says University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman. "We find that as soon as people feel that their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels."

Lying is something that humans learn very early, and we are not the only living thing on the planet that lies. The ability to lie is believed to arise when children realize that there are other world views besides their own - lies start as a means of altering other people's worldview to match that of the person telling the lie. Reasons for altering other people's worldview, with lies, include self-protection, increase status, personal material gain, and punishment avoidance. Self esteem is a trigger for lying - threats to self-esteem trigger lying.

The Basic Lies Being Told

I'm going to settle for summarizing and categorizing the many different lies being told by some conservative christians in their efforts to stop HR 1592. The actual quotations are so readily available, and have so ably been exposed and refuted elsewhere, there's no point in repeating the ugliness one more time. I will post list of the resources I used, at the very end of this post.

I've collected and grouped the most common lies being used against HR1592 that I found. If anyone has other examples, and a citation, I will happily add them and revised this post accordingly. Just post a comment with your data and I'll follow-up as appropriate.

It is not necessary
- Hate crimes against GLBTQ punished more severely than other crimes
- Hate crimes against GLBTQ exaggerated/GLBTQ do not need(deserve) protection
It hreatens the special status of Heterosexuality
- grants government recognition to non-heterosexual identities
- Silences opposition to non-heterosexual identities
- elevates one group of Americans above others, creating a special class
It violates the Civil Rights of People who oppose homosexuality
- leads directly to an end of free speech
It violates Religious Freedom of people who oppose homosexuality
- makes it illegal to preach from the pulpit “homosexuality is a sin”
- criminalizes Christianity, reading the Bible, etc
- Make Anti-Gay ‘Thoughts’ Illegal

The heart of the matter – the role of religious teaching:
- The Recast ‘counseled or induced’ as ‘preach’ lie

Lies Unpacked

So, why these specific lies? To get to motive, the underlying desire or fear, we have to unpack the lies, see what truth has been exchanged for a lie, what is being left out, etc.

First, there is the group of lies "It is not necessary". For decades, people who condemn homosexuality have been insisting that 'Christians don't bash gays', that the whole phenomena is wildly exagerated, and so on. The reality is that studies have repeatedly shown that people who commit violent crimes against GLBTQ people solely as an act of violence, cite their religious condemnation as the reason for the crime. The FBI, which tracks hate crimes data, has recognized for several years now that hate crimes are under-reported, current reported accounts at best represents a third of all hate crimes, and some data suggests, is but a tenth of all incidents. The truth that is being hidden is simple: teaching condemnation of homosexuality directly correlates to harm inflicted on GLBTQ people. In other words - the bad tree bears bad fruit.

What we have then, in the "it is not necessary" lie, are lies told to avoid punishment. "Nothing wrong is happening, so don't punish us" & "We've done nothing wrong". And it doesn't take much digging to find cases of professional homophobes, and f*gbashers, blaming the victim instead, essentially declaring that GLBTQ deserve whatever society decides to inflict on them. Here is a horrific example, courtesy of Pam's House Blend.

Public Defender Earl Witter resorted to the vernacular yesterday as he advised members of the gay community to "hold your corners", and avoid flaunting their sexual preferences in the face of those who are repulsed by their behavior. Condemning violence in all forms, particularly against homosexuals, the public defender, however, warned members of the gay community that if they continued to shove their tendencies on others who found it repugnant, it might incite violence.
"It may provoke a violent breach of the peace," Mr. Witter told The Gleaner yesterday evening. Earlier in the day, he had addressed the hot-button topic during a Rotary Club luncheon at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, Manchester. During the luncheon, Mr. Witter said that, as with most things, "tolerance has its limits" and gays and lesbians should be sensitive to the "repulsion that others feel" and should not be so "brazen".
"What takes place behind closed doors between consenting males is ordinarily beyond the reach of the law so they (gays) should confine their activities to their bed chambers and not, by their conduct, provoke disapproving reactions. In other words 'hold yu corner,'" Mr. Witter said.

The lie "it is not necessary" also insinuate or declares, that GLBTQ are not worthy of protecting from violent oppression and persecution. It implies that we are less human, less members of society, because of who we are. And so, as a lie, it serves the purpose of boosting the self-esteem of the liar.

The next category of lies is the "It threatens the special status of Heterosexuality " which agains assumes the derogatory and abusive premise that GLBTQ people are intrinsically inferior to heterosexuals. One could explore for several servers worth of data storage the historical precedents of people asserting that they are intrinsically superior to others, and the harm that resulted. It wouldn't be that hard to link the generation of people who condemn homosexuality today, to the generations that enforced segregation, and back to the generations that died to maintain slavery, and so on. Heterosexuality is rewarded with material benefits, and some people perceive those benefits as a zero-sum game - if GLBTQ people get those benefits, the worth of the benefits that heterosexuals receive is reduced.

This then is a lie about personal gain, self-esteem, and material profit. It is sad to see people who claim to follow Jesus Christ giving themselves over to Schadenfreude instead of love your "neighbor as yourself.

Next up, the lie "It Violates the Civil Rights of People who oppose homosexuality". Unpacking this doesn't lead to very Christian, or American, result. The Hate Crimes law prescribes a punitive measure for an activity that harms other people, it is essentially a hindrance to persecution. So, when opponents of HR 1592 suggest or declare that it theatens their civil rights - what right are they defending?

The right to hurt other people without consequence or accountability. Trouble is, I can't find that in the Constitution or its amendments. If anyone knows where the right to harm other people without consequence is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, please let me know ASAP.

The irony, of course, is that at this very moment, the civil rights of GLBTQ people are severely restricted compared to those of heterosexual americans. In fact, heterosexual felons, including people convicted of multiple murders, have civil rights that GLBTQ do not. In this group of lies, we have a group of people with the fullest set of civil rights who actively restrict the civil rights of others, falsely claiming that their own rights are endangered. I call that selfish, at the very least.

Personally, I think this next one, "It violates Religious Freedom of people who oppose homosexuality", is a tactic that those who oppress GLBTQ will come to regret ever mentioning. After all, any law, regulation, prohibition, Constitutional amendment or other legislative act that penalizes or restricts or excludes GLBTQ people, intrinsically violates the religious freedom of GLBTQ people - by forcing them to live within the prohibitions of someone else's religion over and above their own. Religion belief, specifically, conservative religious belief, is the root and foundation of anti-homosexual prejudice. Other excuses and explanations simply do not hold up under scrutiny. DOMA violates the religious freedom of GLBTQ people, limiting their civil rights in opposition to their own religious beliefs. So to with Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the various bans of same-sex marriage at state levels, and so on.

So, in 'violates Religious freedom of those who oppose homosexuality' we again have a group of people who, falsely, fear having done to them what they are already doing to others. No doubt it is easier to lie, by making themselves the potential victims, than to face the fact that they are directly and deliberately, victimizing other people.

The heart of it all is the idea that ministers might be held accountable if, in their sermons, they go beyond reading Scripture, to overtly ordering, encouraging, suggesting, violence against GLBTQ people. This is what is going on in the fraudulent quote that the Traditional Values Coalition publized. On Good as You and Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, you can find a easy to follow comparison of the false quote with the real one. TVC rewrote the quote to leave out an extremely critical nuance: "counseled or induced him through the sermon to commit that act" - the level of participation that would make the minister not just a source of opinion, but a co-conspirator.

There is a very good reason why those who persecute GLBTQ in the name of religion made that leap. The law in the U.S. holds very strict standards for proving conspiracy, and it would take a very explicit statement by a minister to actually trigger prosecution. But, within the context of mainstream Christian churchs, the laws, the rules, the do's and don'ts that a minister preaches on from the pulpit - are "God's commands", not "God's suggestions". In other words, within the walls of the church, the is the expectation that the words of the minister's mouth are to manifest in the deeds of the congregation.

Let's take a side-trip for a moment to look at a more concrete example.

Noting that the call to prayer is “broadcast” five times a day while “Christians have a hard time getting a manger scene put up one time a year,” Perkins asked, “How is it that in our nation where Muslims account for about 6 million of the 300 million living in this country, and Christians comprise 100 million, that Muslims can control the public policy and we cannot? I suggest to you that it is because Christians have become apathetic to our role in shaping the policy in our nation, and it could have deadly consequences, not only for the unborn, but for the living as well.”
But Perkins’ invitation to rage was no mere commiseration of resentment; it was a call to action. He did, however, qualify his call.
“I am not here to call the church to partisan action,” Perkins explained. “I am not here advocating for a political party. I am here advocating for Christian citizenship.”
Lest any of the assembled miss the point, Perkins offered up the story of Phineas, grandson of Moses’ brother Aaron, from Numbers 25. Phineas was rewarded by God with an “everlasting priesthood” for killing an Israelite and his Midian lover because God had forbidden the mixing of the men of Israel with the women of that tribe.
The story is, essentially, the vindication of the criminalization of “miscegenation” — a sentiment consistent with Perkins’ past courting of such racist groups as the Ku Klux Klan and the Council of Conservative Citizens, America’s largest white supremacist organization, according to journalist Max Blumenthal. (Perkins bought, on behalf of political client Senator Woody Jenkins, a phone-bank list from former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.)

- - -

“We read that Phineas arose and he took action…,” Perkins said.
“Not only is prayer required…I warn you that if you begin to pray for our nation that, at some point in time, you’re gonna be prayin’ and you’re gonna feel a tap on your shoulder and hear, ‘Son, daughter, I’ve heard your prayer; now I want you to do something about it.’”
Just in case his message should be misconstrued, however, Perkins offered this caveat: “Now, let me be clear, in case the media’s here,” he said, “I’m not advocating you go home and get a pitchfork out of your storage shed and run into your neighbor’s house.” Phineas, the Bible tells us, used a javelin.

So, though Perkins, from the pulpit, backpedals to avoid a prosecutable statement, he advocates 'do something about it' and 'taking action' - offering a specifically violent example.

The Bible is full of examples of people taking action - to heal the sick, or raise the dead, or to right wrongs, or to end injustice. But, instead, Perkins used as his sole example:

7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them—through the Israelite and into the woman's body.

The point is that Christian clergy, particularly conservative clergy, see their role as a leadership one; giving instructions with the expectation that those instructions will be followed. And, on the subject of homosexuality, conservative Christian clergy are teaching condemnation on a universal scope, not a personal one. They are not saying that the belief 'homosexuality is sin' is a personal issue - one each person is to apply to his or her own life. They are teaching it as a societal and worldly issue, one that society and the world is to apply to everyone in society, everyone in the world.

Personally, I believe that the TVC has, with this fraud, as good as admitted that they know that there is a causal link between what they preach about GLBTQ people, and the persecution, condemnation, violence, and discrimination that GLBTQ endure.

They know they have done wrong. They know they are nurturing an evil tree that bears only evil fruit.

They're just not willing to stop.

Motive for the specific lies

Without mad mind-reading skills, or a little help from the Psychic Friends Hotline, we can't know for sure what really motivated the various parties to tell the lies they did. But, there is certainly evidence for

Avoid punishment for wrongs they knowingly committed

increase status

personal material gain

Protect self-esteem

And in my personal opinion, I think the latter is the most important to them. These are organizations, and men and women, who have made themselves important to millions of other people, made themselves relevant and interesting, garnered the attention and accolades of millions, by abusing and persecuting GLBTQ people. Anything that rebukes the persecution of GLBTQ people, anything that says 'hey, what you are doing is wrong' - threatens to deprive of them of the praise and adoration that gives their lives meaning.


My thanks to the following blogs for providing so much substantiated evidence about the lying being done by some conservative christians regarding HR 1592. By no means is this a comprehensive list, undoubtably there are many, many other people whose work I just didn't see.
Professional Homophobes:

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The sin of Gossip

(My apologies, I have to postpone the discussion of fascism for a bit, ironically)

Last night, I had the interesting experience of being banned from a website that welcomes and encourages Alan Chambers and Dr. Throckmorton to promote and defend their theories about the lives of GLBTQ people.

What was I doing posting to Exodus International's website? Nope, wasn't there. I wasn't on AFA's site, or Focus on the Family's site, or any thing like that. No, I was on a site that presents itself as being supportive of GLBTQ people, obstensibly by revealing the lies and frauds of professional oppressors like Mr. Chambers and Dr. Throckmorton, but concurrently, welcomes them to promote and advance their theories about us.

That seems like building a fox-friendly henhouse, to me.

The cause of the uproar - well, Pam Ferguson posted an essay "What I’ve Learned from Ex-Gay Therapy/Ministry: Part One" and I commented on its contents. Since dialogue between myself and Pam has been abruptly sundered over at XGW - I'm going to exercise a little free speech and analyse her account in depth here.


An analysis of "What I've Learned from Ex-Gay Therapy/Ministry: Part One"

Considering how much information, and misinformation floods the internet and society in general every day, it remains necessary to employ a reasonable amount of critical thought and examination to the information presented for us. Words have meanings, after all, and elements of written communication, like context, structure, word choice, communicate significantly to the ultimate message of any written text. And though the formal essay may be dying a largely unremarked upon demise, the core expectations of written communication still appear in mainstream media.

One of those core expectations of a expository work is that the initial paragraph will express the primary theme of the work itself. For example, my starting paragraph directly above, introduced the theme of the importance of analysis. So, what is the theme defining paragraph in Pam Ferguson's "What I've Learned - - -"?

After an introduction that explains the author's intentions - including "to share personal narratives", part one begins thusly:

Part One
If you’re reading this post, you’re on a computer. Your computer is loaded with an operating system. Most of the things that happen on your computer happen because of default settings. Default is the way computers are set up so that every amoeba and their pet parasite are able to browse the Internet.

This paragraph, which occurs where the theme of an essay normally occurs, sets up the metaphor of computer operating systems. Setting aside the inaccurate characterization of computer operating systems, it also introduces the concept of destructive code into a metaphor which is provided to be a basis for looking at intimate human relationships.

The author's next paragraph solidifies the comparison. It opens with the statement "In the world of ex-gay, heterosexuality is the default." When we unpack this, what do we find? Well, 'the world of ex-gay' is the world the author comes from. Though she later tries to distance herself from it, for whatever purpose, on her website she writes:

In fact, I support any individual's self-determination to pursue change in their same sex attractions. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; if it had been up to me, I'd still be married to a "struggler" right now.
Setting aside the inherent selfishness of this statement, this is 'the world of ex-gay' in a nutshell. The author's world view is the world of ex-gay, and any negative opinions about GLBTQ people, are presented in the context of being her personal narrative. And in the author's world, heterosexuality is the default. And that invites the reader to wonder - who are the "amoebas and pet parasites" supposed to be? The author doesn't tell us. But, "the world of ex-gay" is rife with attempts to define GLBTQ in terms of disease:

Cameron's "studies" falsely concluded that gay people were disproportionately responsible for child molestation, for the majority of serial killings, and for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Gay people, according to Cameron's research, were obsessed with consuming human excrement, allowing them to spread deadly diseases simply by shaking hands with unsuspecting strangers or using public restrooms. "Of all the vices," Cameron concluded in a pamphlet called Medical Aspects of Homosexuality, "only homosexuality constitutes a conspiracy against society."
There is a lot of ugliness packed into that opening sentence, and the rest of the paragraph isn't any better. Though the author tries to have it both ways, the heart of her world is ugly and arrogant:

Furthermore, if gayness is a variation and straight is a default, then it can, and very likely should be, changed back to the default setting. This, as I perceive it, is the heart of ex-gay ministry and the aim of ex-gay therapy. This is also where my personal thinking diverges quite a bit from the typical party-line of the ex-gay camp. However, this series of posts is an explanation of what I learned from being involved with ex-gay therapy/ministry. It’s not necessarily a series detailing my personal beliefs.

What really stands out here is a contrast. The author, in what is presented as a personal narrative, very clearly states the position of 'the ex-gay world' over the course of several sentences - but does not delineate for herself a separate position of her own, except to say her belief 'diverges quite a bit' and employ a convenient but empty 'not necessarily'. Now the word diverge connotes being on a common path, and moving from it to some degree. How much the author has moved, she doesn't say here, but on her blog she says
"I support any individual's self-determination to pursue change in their same sex attractions" which is just remarkably similar to "gayness is a variation and straight is a default, then it can, and very likely should be, changed back to the default setting". Frankly, I'm not seeing much divergence there at all. And "not necessarily" is just a way of saying 'maybe I agree, mayby I don't, I'm not saying' - it is an expression of deliberate ambiguity.

What we are left with when every concept is unpacked and examined, is the author wants us to know that in her world "homosexuality should be changed into heterosexuality". What follows is rather confusing. On one hand, according to the author, " the terms used among ex-gay folk are often used innocently" but at the same time, are "loaded and biased toward negative thinking" and used to "describe gays (with a) negative connotation". It would be nice to know how one can innocently use terms one knows are negative, loaded and biased. Maybe it is kinda like the argument "stealing isn't stealing if you really, really want something". The author then goes on to explain, at great length, how negatively the world she comes from views GLBTQ people:

“Gay lifestyle” in ex-gay speak is equal to: infidelity, promiscuous behavior, feminate men, butch women, parades, promiscuous behavior, Internet hook-ups, dance club/electronica music, promiscuous behavior, fashion, artistic expression, promiscuous behavior, etc…I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, gay lifestyle = promiscuous behavior.

Now, there are a couple of possibilities. The author could be repeating these allegations, in preparation for refuting or rejecting them. But that doesn't happen here. She closes part 1 without ever rejecting these pejorative declarations about the lives of millions of people. The author could be repeating these claims in preparation to substantiate them with facts and evidence. But that doesn't happen either. She simply drops the P bomb on our lives.

Personally, I think this gratuitous repetition of degrading assumptions about the lives of GLBTQ people is extraordinarily rude. The act is harsh, even if the words themselves are not. And presented as is, with neither refutation or substantiation, it is just nasty gossip, which the Bible says is sin.

The author then proceeds with the assumption 'gay lifestyle = promiscuous behavior' and explains, "that the “gay lifestyle” has not ONE thing on the “heterosexual lifestyle”. " It is an odd sentence construction, one that appears to mean that yes, gays are promiscuous but so are heterosexuals, but, unpacked, the word for word implication is a bit more judgemental than that - same-sex relationships have nothing that mixed-sex relationship are not better at. Coincidentally, GLBTQ relationships are better at at least one thing, ours are not plagued by cuckoldry:

According to a 2005 U.S. Census Bureau report, there are 27,940,000 fathers nationwide with a child under 18. That means over a million guys out there are
taking care of some other man’s kid.

With all the variety of mixed gender relationships, the divorce rate of just over 50% in the U.S., the incidence of spousal abuse, dead-beat dads, and wives lying to their husbands about who really is the father of their children, according to Pam Ferguson, GLBTQ relationship are still worse.

Now the really sad thing is that Pam states in closing:

I certainly would not want to be judged as a person (heterosexual) based on the activities of most other heterosexuals who are in my particular circumstance. The results would be devastating for me. I thank God every day (because I see the gay analog) that I am viewed as an individual and not in relation to the orientation of heterosexuality when it comes to being a divorced individual in our culture.

But as analysis of her prior paragraphs reveals, she has judged, and condemned, any GLBTQ person based on her world's, the ex-gay world's, assumptions about the activities of homosexuals. What she does not want done to her, she does to us.

Now, the theory that has been offered that in subsequent parts, the author will refute the ugly and vicious gossip she has just repeated. She wrote to me "It’s just Part 1. Geez." But her last paragraph doesn't promise or even hint at any challenge to all this ugly gossip she's spewed up onto our lives, as if we hadn't heard it all so many, many, many times before. Instead

My next article will detail some of the specific and bizarre happenings that took place within my own husband’s attempts to become completely free of same sex attractions.

Presenting the appearance that the ugly assumptions about our lives will simply stand unexamined.

Now, there is a key element here - she hasn't told her story, her experiences, her actions. She has not said how anything has effected her, and in part two, she plans to tell someone else's story - her ex-husband's. With no 'this happen to me' or 'I felt thus and such' - we readers are left to conclude that what she has provided - ugly and nasty gossip - really is her story, despite the very obvious ambiguities of 'not necessarily' and 'diverged'.

Gossiping is rude, indirectly and gratuitously calling millions of people promiscuous, is hardly civil. But the arrogance of this last bit really goes too far:
Keep in mind, everything I say in these narratives is colored with a Christian world view. If you are not a Christian, you will likely want to take issue with a few things.

Let's unpack this. The author's position is represents the Christian world view. If you take issue, then you must not be a Christian, for only non-Christians will likely take issue with her narrative. She has just defined the 'ex-gay world' as synonymous with Christianity. That's offensive to me both as a Christian and as a gay man.

The reality here is that she has not talked about her story at all. At best, she spelled out some ugly beliefs that she has, but doesn't want to publically take credit for - beliefs about other people's lives. Now, in one of the agitated responses to my posts at XGW, a Frank wrote "FOJ: Get over it already. This is HER story, not YOURS." But the reality is, it is not her story. She hasn't shared a word about her feelings, sacrifices, experiences. She has shared ugly gossip about GLBTQ people - me, my partner, our friends, coworders, people we church with, and millions of other people. The fraud "homosexuality should be changed into heterosexuality" is not being used to deny the Pam Ferguson's of the world their civil rights, it is being used to deprive GLBTQ people, including me, of our rights.

When we apply just a reasonable amount of analysis to the text, it becomes quite clear, Pam is not talking about herself. It isn't a narrative of her experiences at all. There isn't a "I felt" or "I did" or "I experienced" in it. It really isn't her story; she's heterosexual, and all of the ugly ideas about homosexuality, the insistence that we should change - is not about her. It is about her husband who has left her.


Yesterday, I wrote about the question "is it ethical, is it humane, is it Christian, to support someone in an attempt to mutilate themselves psychologically? " - I had posted it first in abreviated form on XGW, but it was deleted rather than answered.

David Roberts on XGW wrote of me:

The user “Friend of Jonathan” has been banned after posting twice to this thread
after being asked not to. One can only assume at this point that it was his or her goal to be. I apologize for the circus. If you understand what that was all about you are better than I.

"Only Assume" is such a limitting phrase. How odd that some people can "only assume" negatives.

I have to commend him for not even conceiving of the possibility of cross-posting. As we all know, no two people on the internet have ever posted to the same place at the same time, and so it just was not at all possible that I could have posted without first seeing his totalitarian demand that I just shut up about something that directly impact my life. His confidence in my (non-existant) omniscience is flattering though misguided. What is really remarkable though is that he took steps, aggressive steps, about a dialogue he admits he did not understand.

And I have to wonder about that. After all, this is a place where GLBTQ people are regularly treated to regurgitated versions of 'homosexuality is sin' within comments threads, and a place that professional oppressors are quite at home posting about their assumptions about our lives. I figure, it is probably a good thing not to be welcome at a place that welcomes those who oppress me and shields them from criticism.

If you feel that Pam has sinned against you, or someone you care about with her gossip, by all means, write to her on her blog and let her know that you don't appreciate being gossipped about.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Coming soon

Just a heads up about something I'm pondering at the moment.

An essay on Alternet about fascism details the steps for instituting fascim. What struck me were the many parallels to the steps taken by ex-gay ministries and reparative therapies.

"Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps"