The fun never ends at the Watcher of Weasels place

In a sec, I’ll link to the cool blog posts I get to read today as part of my gig on the Watcher’s Council.  However, I also wanted to give you a heads up about a debate the Watcher’s Council hosted on the merits of the President’s decision to repeal DADT during war time.  Since the debaters — Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye and Tom White of Virginia Right! — are civil and logical, you’ll probably find it very interesting.

And now to this week’s nominations:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

It’s entirely possible that, when it comes to gay marriage and the First Amendment, pluralism won’t work.

Rodney King got his 15 minutes of fame for (a) getting beaten up while resisting arrest; (b) having his name attached to some horrific riots; and (c) plaintively asking “Can we get along?”  The last is a great thought.  I’d like to get along with people better myself.  “Getting along,” though, presupposes that people have the same goals and values.  In our pluralist society, even when we have differences, we mostly limp along all right.  Elections shuttle different value systems in and out of power and (at least when the unions aren’t rioting) Americans expect a peaceful transition.

Still, even pluralist societies have bottom line values, things as to which we’re not willing to bend (although, lately, it’s getting harder to pinpoint just what those values are).  Up until recently, one of those values was that “marriage qua marriage” was a one man, one woman deal.  In recent years, we were willing to contemplate “civil unions,” but “marriage” remained sacrosanct.

Also, because of the First Amendment, another American bottom-line is that the government cannot meddle in religious doctrine.  Some confused people think the First Amendment outlaws religion, or outlaws religious people from participating in politics, but most understand that — unless they’re calling for human or animal sacrifice, or polygamy — the American government leaves religion alone.

I have said all along that the main problem with the gay marriage debate is that, by creating an entirely new bottom line (gay marriage) we’re going to see two bottom lines crash into each other.  You see, traditional male/female marriage meshed nicely with the vast majority of traditional religious norms.  Gay marriage, however, does not mesh with traditional religion.  While Progressive churches and synagogues have opened their doors to gay marriages, more traditional ones, especially the Orthodox Jewish faith and the Catholic Church, have not done so.

When I’ve raised this concern to people, they scoffed.  One liberal told me that, even though abortions are legal, the government has never gone toe-to-toe with the Catholic Church.  He looked a bit taken aback, and had no response, when I pointed out that the Catholic Church doesn’t provide, or withhold, abortions; it simply speaks against them doctrinally.  The Church does, however, marry people, and that leaves open the possibility that a gay couple will sue the church for refusing to perform a marriage service.

Others, while acknowledging that my point has a certain intellectual validity, say that it will never happen.  I’m not so sure, especially after reading a story out of England involving a Pentecostal couple who were told that, as long as their religion held that homosexuality is not acceptable behavior, they could not foster needy children:

A Christian couple morally opposed to homosexuality today lost a High Court battle over the right to become foster carers.

Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65, from Oakwood, Derby, went to court after a social worker expressed concerns when they said they could not tell a child a ‘homosexual lifestyle’ was acceptable.

The Pentecostal Christian couple had applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers but withdrew their application believing it was ‘doomed to failure’ because of the social worker’s attitude to their religious beliefs.

The couple deny that they are homophobic and said they would love any child they were given. However, what they were ‘not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing’.

What’s relevant to this post is that the judges explicitly held that homosexual rights trump religious rights:

Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation ‘should take precedence’ over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.

Admitted, Britain does not have a First Amendment.  However, as I noted above, First Amendment or not, our government bars, and (when Mormons are involved) actively prosecutes, polygamy.  It does so despite the fact that polygamy was official doctrine for the Mormons and is official doctrine for the Muslims.  Likewise, although Voodoo is recognized as a religion, we don’t let practitioners engage in animal sacrifice.  In other words, First Amendment or not, the government will interfere in religious doctrine if it runs completely afoul of a bottom-line American value.

If gay marriage is deemed Constitutional, we suddenly have two conflicting bottom-line values — gay marriage and religious freedom.  I’m not predicting how this will turn out.  I’m just saying that, if I was the Catholic Church or an Orthodox synagogue, I’d start having my lawyers look at this one now.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Comparing Islamophobia to Homophobia at the NYT

I’m beginning to get a good sense of the requirements for a writing gig at the New York Times.  Their editorial and employment departments carefully cull all comers for two main traits:  an IQ that doesn’t exceed the double digits, and a complete lack of common sense and logic.  Walk into the door with those, and the ability to type, and you’re in.

The most recent cause of my renewed insight about the lunatics in charge of the Times asylum is an opinion piece trying to draw an equivalence between homophobia and Islamophobia — and then urging Americans to stop fearing Islam, just as they’ve learned to stop fearing gays.  The piece is stupid on so many levels, it’s almost hard to know where to begin.  Let me start with the fact that I always get a good belly laugh out of gays aggressively defending Islamists.  You know, these Islamists:

Gays hanged in Iran

Gay teens hanged in Iran

Gays systematically gunned down in Iraq

A word of advice to those gays who reflexively make common cause with Islamists, simply because gays hate conservatives and conservatives are wary of Islamists:  Maybe the conservatives are on to something.

Having disposed, I hope, of the foolish underpinnings of the whole “I am gay, therefore I stand with Islamists” attitude, let me examine the ridiculous moral equivalence the Times opinion piece tries to draw between people who dislike gays versus people who are scared of Islamists.

A combination of fair use laws, and a desire not to have my blog serve as a forum for stupidity, means that I’ll quote just a snippet of the Times piece, just enough to give you an idea of the direction in which its heading:

As if we needed more evidence of America’s political polarization, last week Juan Williams gave the nation a Rorschach test. Williams said he gets scared when people in “Muslim garb” board a plane he’s on, and he promptly got (a) fired by NPR and (b) rewarded by Fox News with a big contract.

Suppose Williams had said something hurtful to gay people instead of to Muslims. Suppose he had said gay men give him the creeps because he fears they’ll make sexual advances. NPR might well have fired him, but would Fox News have chosen that moment to give him a $2-million pat on the back?

[snip]

When we move from homophobia to Islamophobia, the trendline seems to be pointing in the opposite direction. This isn’t shocking, given 9/11 and the human tendency to magnify certain kinds of risk. (Note to Juan Williams: Over the past nine years about 90 million flights have taken off from American airports, and not one has been brought down by a Muslim terrorist. Even in 2001, no flights were brought down by people in “Muslim garb.”)

You can read the rest here, if you’re interested.

In deference to the last paragraph quoted, which says it’s silly to fear Muslims, because there are so many of them and most aren’t violent), let me counter with a few numbers of my own:

*Number of airplanes that members of the LGBT community have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their sexuality:  0
*Number of airplanes that practitioners of Islam have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their religion:  6 (with a death toll in excess of 3,000)

*Number of trains or subways that members of the LGBT community have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their sexuality:  0
*Number of trains or subways that practitioners of Islam have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their religion:  2 (with a death toll in excess of 2o0)

*Number of military barracks that members of the LGBT community have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their sexuality:  0
*Number of military barracks that practitioners of Islam have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their religion:  1 (killing 299 people)

*Number of schools that members of the LGBT community have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their sexuality:  0
*Number of schools that practitioners of Islam have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their religion:  1 big one (that would be Beslan, killing more than 300, most of them children), plus countless attacks on schools all over Indonesia and the Philippines

*Number of naval ships that members of the LGBT community have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their sexuality:  0
*Number of naval ships that practitioners of Islam have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their religion:  1 (killing 17 people)

*Number of embassies that members of the LGBT community have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their sexuality:  0
*Number of embassies that practitioners of Islam have successfully or unsuccessfully sought to destroy in the name of their religion:  3 (two in Africa, one in Iran, with the former resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries, and the latter creating modern Iran)

I won’t belabor my point any further.  I’ll just note the stupidity driving the opinion piece’s snide implication that it’s irrational to fear Islam because a only small percentage of its practitioners do bad things.  That manages to obscure the real fact, which is that a large percentage of the carnage around the world — indeed, the greatest percentage of the carnage around the world — is committed by Muslims.  That therefore makes it reasonable to eye them askance in certain situations, and makes it idiotic to worry about gays in those same situations.

It’s an insult to anyone whose IQ hovers even near the 3 digits, or who exhibits logic skills greater than a small child’s, for a writer at a prestigious paper (although God alone knows why it is still held in such high esteem) to argue that American’s diminishing concerns about an individual’s sexuality should be used as a template to become less worried about Muslim violence.

I’ll tell you one thing that would go a long way to diminishing my fear of Muslims:  To hear them say, loud and clear, “I do not want sharia law in America; I condemn all acts of violence committed in the name of Islam and will do whatever I can to counter that trend amongst Muslims; I support Israel’s right to exist; and I have no intention of imposing my religious views or practices on the people in my community or country.”  This sounds remarkably simply, but you’ll find few Muslims who are willing to say that.  Instead, what you get are generic statements about love for country, but an assiduous avoidance of specific disavowals of the most ugly aspects of Islam.

England swings wildly between the extremes

In 1931, Nancy Langhorne Astor’s son Robert Gould Shaw III was arrested for committing a homosexual act (in a park, I believe).  This was a continuation of a long-standing British public policy of prosecuting “sodomists.”  Arguably the most famous prosecution was that against Oscar Wilde, for public indecency.  The trial, scandal and imprisonment destroyed the noted Victorian wit entirely, and he died in self-imposed, poverty-stricken exile soon after his release from prison.

How times have changed.  In 2010, Dale McAlpine, a Baptist preacher in England, was arrested for stating in a public place that homosexuality is a sin.

Have the English no sense of balance or proportion?  Do they think that criminalizing people’s thoughts and opinions is the only way to balance the scales for the humiliations they visited on homosexuals in years past?

Anyway, rather than opining more on the subject, let me refer you to my previous post on thought crimes.  I think it pretty much covers anything I want to say.

If you’d like to protest gay activists who support Islam (which wants to kill them)

You and I know the incredible peculiarities of the Leftist world, which sees feminists ignoring sharia’s worst outrages and gay activists who are out in full cry trying to establish a fully Muslim Middle East, a place in which the only good gay activist will be a dead gay activist.  As to the latter, there is a protest in San Francisco, so I’m forwarding this email for those who are interested in attending:

1. Counterprotest this Thursday, April 8, 6 PM, Roxie Theater, 16th and Valencia, San Francisco.

“Out in Israel” is an LGBT cultural festival taking place in San Francisco during the month of April, sponsored in part by the Israeli Consulate, the San Francisco and East Bay Federations, JCRC, BlueStarPR, and Congregation Sha’ar Zahav. “Out In Israel” showcases some of the best of Israeli LGBT cultural creation: art, literature, film, drama, food, dance, progressive thought and intellectual debate. The celebration includes a Hebrew language LGBT film series, theatrical and musical performances by prominent Israeli artists, cooking demonstrations, art exhibitions, literary readings, and panels discussions on LGBT culture in Israel and Zionist perspectives.

This Thursday, April 8 a local anti-Israel group called QUIT (“Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism”) will be protesting outside the Roxie Theater (16th and Valencia Streets, San Francisco) where the festival will have its opening night films. Yes, an LGBT group will be protesting Israel, the one country in the region that does not persecute LGBT individuals and groups. Yes, they will be protesting Israel, a place where LGBT Palestinians flee to seek refuge from the Islamists who harrass, torture and kill them. Yes, they will be protesting Israel, the country that that has openly gay members in its government and military. They will be supporting the agenda of Iran, a country whose leader claims it has no gays– while it publicly hangs them.

They hate Israel so much that they will not say one word about the persecution that they themselves would suffer in Gaza or Ramallah.

StandWithUs/ SF Voice for Israel will be there to stand up for Israel. We will meet at 6 PM in front of the Roxie. Look for the Israeli flags. We will have appropriate signs for this occasion as well as lots of flags. If you bring your own signs, please no signs or graphics offensive to any racial or ethnic group including but not limited to Arabs, Islam, or Palestinians. Signs in violation of our policies will not be allowed.

We understand that some of our members do not agree with Israel’s policies towards LGBT rights. However, we will continue to support Israel in this regard and, at the same time, we look forward to your support in our other activities.

Please note that parking in this area is very limited. The theatre is one block west of the 16th and Mission BART, and 4 blocks from the Church Street Muni Metro.

GENERAL NOTES FOR RALLY BEHAVIOR- PLEASE READ:

Please BE PROFESSIONAL for Israel.

Please avoid signs that are offensive and will alienate press and passers by.

We will have enough signs with strong messages for you to hold, and you can choose from many messages. Please return all signs and flags at the end of the rally.

Please follow police orders.

Please don’t engage the other side.

Please avoid shouting epithets across the street.

They cannot hear you, and it really makes us all look like we are extremists or unreasonable. REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE THE EXTREMISTS– LET’S MAKE THEM LOOK THAT WAY!

At no point should you stand in the street.

If you will talk to press, please be professional and only speak to them if you are very knowledgeable.

We will have designated people prepared to speak to the press, it would be better if you would please refer press to designated

people who will be identified.

At the end of the rally people should leave in groups and avoid engaging those on the other side who may be prone to violence.

GOALS:

To get half of any media coverage that might show up.

To educate people about Israel’s strategic threats, and Israel’s right to defend its citizens.

To specifically educate people about LGBT rights and freedoms in Israel.

To let the other side know that they will not have a free pass as they organize to attack Israel on the streets of the Bay Area.

We will bring educational materials about the Gaza War for distribution as well.

THANK YOU and we will look forward to seeing you this Thursday. Bring your friends!

Gay Pride week

The San Francisco Examiner online has a big section on Gay Pride Week.  It reminded me of why I’ve always found gay self-identification strikingly different from all other major group identifications.

There is no doubt that people tend to try to find like people, and this is true whether they group themselves by religion, ethnicity, profession, education, skin color, dog-ownership, sports fanaticism, neighborhoods, political ideology, etc.  I know that as a Jew, even a non-religious one raised outside of the Jewish community, I still have had, throughout my life, enough Jewish identity to play Jewish geography when I meet someone new who happens to be Jewish.  Opening gambit:  “Where are you from?”  Wait for answer.   Then, the question:  “So, do you know….?”

I also play lawyer geography, which revolves around “Where did you go to law school” and “Where do/did you practice law.”  It’s amazing how often one finds a nexus.  I can also play the game based on having grown up in San Francisco, especially since I went to a high school that drew students from all over the City.

What’s interesting about gay identification is that it’s the only major group that self-identifies by sexual behavior.  I know that there are arcane subgroups, people who are into S&M or some such stuff, who also seek out people of common sexual behaviors, but they’re neither a political nor a social movement.

As you know, while I’m very cautious about making swift and ill-thought out changes to our social and political systems based upon homosexuality and its attendant self-identifiers (transgender, bisexuality, etc), I’m quite libertarian about what people do in the privacy of their own homes.  I really don’t care with whom you sleep, as long as its consensual and you keep the details to yourself.  I don’t expect you, if you’re gay, to keep that fact to yourself.  After all, the mere fact that I have a husband is a public announcement that I am heterosexual, isn’t it?  Nevertheless, beyond the identity of your partner, which you are allowed to share with me, there is nothing more I want to know about your sex life.

What I’ve noticed over the years, though, is that, because the only thing that distinguishes gays from others is their sex life, politicized gays have become very opening about place their sex lives front and center.  I can see why they do it.  If they don’t, they’re just you and me, only with different bed mates.

Why does this behavior matter?  Because of the way in which Gay Pride celebrations, played out on the streets of San Francisco, tend to be overtly sexual.

Years ago, before I had children, I went to see the Gay Pride Parade, which marches proudly down Market Street, San Francisco’s main street.  It starts with Dykes on Bikes, which is somewhat amusing, if you don’t mind that 50% of them are naked women on a public street.  Then the floats come.  I have no problem with the proud police officers, and fire fighters, and lawyers, and hospital workers, and parents and friends, etc.  Even then, though, I was prudish enough to have a big problem with the proud (and naked) genital wrappers (if you don’t know, you don’t want to), or the proud (and naked) partner whippers, or the proud (and naked) whatever else should be confined to the bedroom kind of people.  (Although not as out there as the Folsom Street Fair, Zombie’s gallery of photos from that show, many of which are quite x-rated, gives you a good idea of what marches down SF’s streets on your average Gay Pride parade.)  All I could think of as I watched these people flaunt their bedroom behavior as a way of cementing their identity was “This is tourist season.  What if a family unwittingly comes across this parade?”

As for me, I think I would be very much more sympathetic to the Gay rights and Gay pride movement if it would observe a “less is more” philosophy.  When one adds to the fact that I’ve always been a bit of a prude the fact that I’m now a mother, I see in myself less and less sense of fellowship with a group that’s gone from being downtrodden to being a group that flaunts its often extreme sexuality in the very streets on which my little ones walk.  A gay lawyer is someone with whom I can identify.  A gay genital binder who uses a social/political parade to demonstrate his sexual preferences just offends me.