Tag Archives: LGBT issues

A Study In Contrasts: Responses to Orlando Shooting from Titus and Hardy

Orlando Shooting 

Titus Nevada’s First District Congressional Representative gets it:

“The nation is devastated by this horrific act of terror and hate at a nightclub that symbolizes the empowerment of the LGBT community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones, but they are not enough. This senseless loss of life from gun violence must stop. As we mourn, we must  continue to reflect upon and fight for civil rights during LGBT Pride Month. Terror must not silence our collective voice.”  Dina Titus (D-NV1) [KTNV]

Hardy 2 For every act of terrorism there is a target. In the instance of the Pulse in Orlando the target was the LGBT community.  And, then there’s Representative Cresent Hardy’s response to the tragedy, one who obviously doesn’t get it:

“I want to lift up the victims of this horrible attack and their loved ones while giving thanks to the brave first responders who undoubtedly prevented further loss of life.
“Last night’s attack is a reminder that we must remain vigilant against the clear and present danger of radical Islamic terrorism. Whatever differences we may have here in the United States, we are all Americans and we all cherish our freedoms and way of life. Together, we will come together to defeat this extremism in defense of our fellow citizens and our liberty.” Cresent Hardy (R-NV4) [KTNV]

There’s nothing quite like using the generic “victims of this horrible attack” to avoid saying L G B T.  The victims were members of the LGBT community and their friends.  Representative Hardy focuses on the the Muslim community with the catch phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” as if saying the magic words will strike terror into terrorist hearts – not likely. It’s just more fodder for the Daesh-IS propaganda machine which would be delighted if the United States were to announce a “war on Islam;” it would make their narrative ever so much more effective when recruiting the disaffected, the marginalized, and the unstable.  Rally round the Flag (maybe not that Rainbow One) folks, to defeat “this extremism.” This dangerous but miniscule extremism. Let’s be clear: Islam is a religion; Daesh/IS is a death cult.

There are about 1.6 billion adherents to the Islamic faith, and the old count of 25,000 to 31,500 members of Daesh (IS) was revised recently to a range of 19,000 to 25,000.  Let’s be generous and allow Daesh some 31,000 members.  Get out the handy plastic brains and the calculation is 31,000 divided by 1,600,000,000; or, 0.00019375; or, 0.0194%.  What this number illustrates is what the Feds have been trying to tell us for some time now – the danger lies with the Lone Wolves.  Well armed Lone Wolves.

AR 15

If we read Rep. Hardy’s statement carefully we’d note that not once does he mention HOW the victims died.

Representative Titus did notice the method by which 49 people were killed, and 53 others injured — “senseless loss of life from gun violence…” in this case from the mass killers’ weapon of choice the AR-15.

“The AR-15’s popularity with killers has continued as well. This past October, Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, went on a rampage with an AR-15 at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. He killed nine people before killing himself.

The AR-15 was among the weapons used by Islamic terrorists Syed Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, when they opened fire at a social services center in San Bernardino, Calif., in December. They killed 14.” [NYDN]

The ubiquitous AR-15 (there may be as many as 9 million of these weapons of mass killings in circulation in this country) also appeared at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting. [TP]

However, Representative Hardy, the recipient of some $3,000 so far in the 2016 election cycle from the National Rifle Association, is probably not going to mention HOW the LGBT victims in the Pulse died at the hands of a delusional lone wolf armed with an AR-15.

Perhaps, Representative Hardy doesn’t want to speak to delusional lone wolves who shoot up gay bars, but any rational discussion of these mass killings should incorporate HOW the LGBT victims died, and why so many.  So many? Because technically the AR-15 can fire 13.3 rounds per second, or 800 rounds per minute. Some claim that the AR-15 is capable of 45 rounds per minute, in the pre-modified state.  Somewhere in the middle is the relatively easily attained capacity of 120 rounds to 180 rounds per minute. [quora]  Add some high capacity magazines, and our lone wolf is prepared for carnage. 

“In his piece at Human Events, Keene (NRA) ridiculed the notion that AR-15-style rifles ought to be banned just because “a half dozen [AR-15s] out of more than three million have been misused after illegally falling into the hands of crazed killers.” But the AR-15 is very good at one thing: engaging the enemy at a rapid rate of fire. When someone like Adam Lanza uses it to take out 26 people in a matter of minutes, he’s committing a crime, but he isn’t misusing the rifle. That’s exactly what it was engineered to do.” [Slate]

Careful here, a half dozen AR-15’s were misused after “illegally falling into the hands of crazed killers?”  First, the guns themselves are no longer illegal in the hands of civilians. Secondly, the gun in Orlando was sold to a person legally capable of its purchase – so too in San Bernardino, – so too in Newtown.

Thanks to the National Rifle Association and its minions in Congress we have NOT renewed the assault weapons ban, we have not limited the sale of high capacity magazines, we have not enacted statutes for universal background checks, we have not statutorily denied the sale of assault weapons to those on terrorist watch lists.  Indeed, in the GOP controlled 114th Congress we have not even voted on these issues.

Perhaps now more than ever Representative Titus’s words ring true: “Terror must not silence our collective voice.” 

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Filed under gay issues, Gun Issues, Nevada politics, Titus

Culture Wars in the Potty

Iron Age

Once upon a time, for example back in the Iron Age, patriarchal bands hunted, planted, and herded.  Their story was collected, passed down, and now is accepted by some as literal. [AlterN]  Unfortunately, the Iron Age Rules of the Game don’t fit for everyone in the 21st century.  If one of the central rules was an “iron-clad” patriarchal system in which women were only “help-meets,” and daughters could be sold into slavery, [Exodus 21:7]   then it’s plausible that the biblical literalists might be disturbed by the autonomy of the modern era.  However, that’s no excuse to badger everyone into believing urban myths and blatantly false propaganda about women and members of the LBGT community.

As the backlash builds to the HB2 law in North Carolina, die-hards in Texas are doing a bit of chest pounding, declaring that the President can’t tell them to accommodate the needs of transgender children. [TPM]  The Lt. Governor offering:

“We will not yield to blackmail from the President of the United States,” Patrick said in a press conference responding to the administration’s letter. “We will not sell out our children to the federal government. And the people of Texas and the legislature will find a way to find as much of that money as we can if we are forced to. There is no compromise on this issue.”

He said that the debate over bathrooms “is the biggest issue facing families and schools in America since prayer was taken out of public schools.”

The biggest issue facing families and schools? Really?  This potty issue would be more important than the fact that the 2011 educational budget cuts are still having an effect [TXTrib], and that current budget levels have Texas ranked 38th in the nation? [DMN]  Or, perhaps there’s a more simple way of addressing the issue, such as the logic put forth by an Oklahoma legislator speaking of a bill to ban abortions:

“This is our proper function, to protect life,” said Senator Nathan Dahm, the Republican lawmaker who authored the bill, with fellow state Republican colleague David Brumbaugh confusingly adding, “Everybody talks about this $1.3 billion deficit. If we take care of morality, God will take care of the economy.” [InJust]

That’s right. If “we take care of morality then God will provide for the schools,  infrastructure, revenue streams, median household incomes, and corporate profits?  Surely, if we just follow all those Iron Age rules in the book – or at least the ones we want to – eating shrimp is OK? Wearing blended fabric clothing is all right? – then Life will take care of itself.  Leaving a person to wonder what ever happened to “God helps those who help themselves?”

Golden Rule

Or perhaps more importantly, what ever happened to the rules and advice imparted by Luke 6: 31, or by Number 13 of Imam Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths, or Sutrakritanga 1.11.33, or Udana-Varga 5:18?

If we take a step further into Biblical territory we find:

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Proverbs 6: 16-19

Thus, spreading false information about gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered people is abominable? Publishing misinformation and outright lies about Planned Parenthood is hateful?  Disseminating that which is harmful to individuals who do not share a particular interpretation of the Iron Age Rules is abominable?

It is NOT true that homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles and child molesters. [UCDavisEdu] It is NOT true that transgendered people are a hoax. [MMA] It is NOT true that transgendered people just want to ogle the opposite sex in the restroom.  That’s the province of the immature.  What’s required to play the Potty War Games according to the Iron Age rules is to discount and discredit actual scientific research with statements like:

“I am not convinced by any science I can find that people with definitively male DNA and definitively male anatomy can actually be locked in a cruel joke of nature because they are actually female.” [MMA

The correct interpretation of this statement is  “I am perfectly willing to deny and discredit any scientific findings which don’t comport with my opinions,”  even if doing so is harmful to others.

And, accommodating the needs of transgendered children certainly isn’t harmful.  The LAUSD has already implemented a policy of accommodation for a decade with positive results:

“Opponents of A.B. 1266 have expressed concerns that students will abuse the policy, imperiling the safety of others. But our experience stands in stark contrast to such fears: In all the years since the LAUSD implemented its policy, we have encountered nothing but positive results. We are committed to providing safe schools for all children. Our equal access policy enhances, rather than diminishes, school safety.” [HuffPo]

Absent anything other than acceptable results in states that do have statutes protecting transgendered individuals, conservative media has resorted to contriving situations designed to make people uncomfortable and then reporting it as “news.” [EM.org]

rest room sign

What would happen if we were to follow the Big Rule, the one in Luke 6:31 et. alia., and thought of our rest room accommodations accordingly?  A single person’s discomfort is not an excuse for discrimination against – a transgendered person, a person in “gastric distress” who needs to find the first facility immediately available, a young father who wants to change his baby’s diaper, a father or mother escorting a child to the toilet – anyone who’s just trying to get by doing to others as he would have them do unto him.

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Filed under abortion, conservatism, gay issues, privacy, religion

Dear Tea Party Neighbor

Dear GOP/Tea Party Neighbor,

I can’t help you.  I can’t help you if you continue to get your information about politics and economics from right wing talk radio and Fox News. The misinformation you are receiving should be an insult to your intelligence.  [HuffPo] That you don’t find it insulting leads me to the conclusion that you don’t want to delve more deeply into political or economic topics lest you discover something that doesn’t re-enforce your biases.

You are worried about your freedom.  I’m worried about it too, but for entirely different reasons.   You’ve expressed your concern time and again that “we’re losing our freedom.”  “The Government is Taking Over.” “There’s too much Socialism.”

You want to be free! Free to what?  I’m getting the impression you want to be free to go back to a time when it was “better.”  When was that?

Was it when there were still restrictive covenants in real estate transactions which prohibited the sale of homes in some neighborhoods to people of color?  When you didn’t have to live next door to people you didn’t understand completely, and didn’t trust because they were ‘different?’ I can see your problem, you are no longer FREE to have the government protect you from having neighbors you don’t want.

Was it when schools were carefully segregated and white students didn’t mix with those of color?  Little wonder racially based mis-understandings are common, there are so many who having never shared common social institutions don’t know how to find common interests.  Or, did you attend a de-segregated school only to stick closely  with your own kind? Did you go home each day to a house in which the “N” word was common, and those who might be described by it were routinely denigrated?  I conclude from this that you are no longer FREE to use the “N” word in polite company, that your racial biases are no longer socially acceptable — you make that point each time you sneer about people who are “politically correct.”

Was it when ‘the little woman stayed home?’  (and followed orders)  After World War II women depicted in radio programs and a bit later on scripted television programs kept house and nurtured the children — This is an imaginary world that never really was.  Most women of color have worked since the age of slavery, most immigrant women worked since the day they hauled their worldly possessions down the gangplank, most farm women worked sun up to sun down.  However, you’re correct — because of stagnant wages and the increasing redistribution of income to the top 2% you are no longer FREE to have a home in which only one person is in the work force.

Was it when ‘women knew their place?’  Your definitions confuse me.  Your men are “assertive,” but your women are “bossy.”  Your men are “rational,” while protesting that there really were WMDs in Iraq.  Your women are “emotional” when they are concerned about homeless veterans.  It must be disconcerting to find that in this day and age you aren’t FREE to avoid having a woman as your boss.

Was it when only the worthy poor received assistance?  When private charity was sufficient to meet individual needs?   You seek what never was.  The English enacted Poor Laws beginning in 1601 requiring parish governments to tax households in order to care for the “worthy” poor.  The colonies followed suit. That’s right, the last time an English speaking country didn’t tax households to provide for public relief was in the 16th century.  You are no more FREE to avoid taxation to support public welfare than your very  distant ancestors.

Was it when only the right people could vote?  Would that have been during the Jim Crow era in the American south, when African Americans were prohibited from voting using a variety of statutes the interpretation of which allowed county registrars to void African Americans from the rolls for failing to pay a poll tax, or “failing” a test on the state constitution, or “failing” to know how many angels could dance on the head of a pin  or how many bubbles there were in a bar of soap?  No, you aren’t FREE to live in this kind of world anymore.

Was it before there was a sizable influx of Mexican and Central American immigrants to this country?  You are afraid they are taking “American jobs,” they aren’t. You are afraid they are using our health care system; they aren’t. You are afraid they are filling our schools? They aren’t. You are afraid they won’t assimilate.  Sorry, but the rule still holds that by the time you get to the third generation the ‘native’ language and culture is all but gone.  All but gone like the German in east central Missouri; like the Gaelic in Boston; like the Polish in Chicago; like the Czech in Pittsburgh.  Getting harder to find like the Italian in NYC, or the Basque in Boise.   We can tell in this country when a group has all but become immersed in Middle America — they start forming centers to teach the language to the 4th generation.   You have nothing to fear from recent immigrants any more than your grandparents had to fear  from the immigrants of their era.  But, no you aren’t FREE to castigate them as free loading lazy un-Americans — especially while they are desperately working (perhaps two jobs) to secure their own all-American Dream.

Was it when Christianity was the religion of the United States of America?  We’d have to go back some distance for that, especially since the Touro Synagogue was established in Newport, Rhode Island in 1658.  Well, the country was “mostly Christian,” but what of the religious tensions between the Puritans of New England and the Church of England adherents in Virginia and other southern colonies?  The English fought a Civil War between Parliamentarians (reformers) and Royalists (Church of England) in the late 17th century — a fact not lost on the framers of our Constitution. What of the Quakers in Pennsylvania and the Catholics in Maryland?  The Presbyterians in western Pennsylvania and the Dutch Reformed Church members in New York.  Little wonder the First Amendment prescribes a separation of church and state, had confessional politics been paramount during the founding of this country it would have made adopting a Constitution all but impossible.

Was it when prayer was required in public schools?  Whose prayers?  Evidently someone forgot to tell you about the 1844 Philadelphia Bible Riots which happened after Irish Catholic parents began complaining about the use of the King James version of the Bible in their childrens’ schools.  There are about 330 million people in this country split into all manner of religious groups; 78.4% describe themselves as Christian, but this group ranges from evangelical Protestant to Russian Orthodox; then there are Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish synagogues; at least three kinds of Buddhists, three kinds of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Native American groups in our mix. 16.1% describe themselves as unaffiliated, some agnostic, some atheist, and some nothing in particular. [Pew] If we really respect minority rights in this country — then whose parents do we insult? No, I suppose you really aren’t FREE to cram your religion down some other parent’s throat.

Was it when you didn’t have to worry about someone taking your gun away?  When was that?  The United States of America has really light regulations on fire-arms, and it shows.   You are just as FREE to own an gun in 2012 as you were in 2000. Maybe even more so.

Was it when you didn’t have to worry about government regulations? From which regulation would you like to be free?  Would they be regulations regarding safe food and medicine?  How about clean air and drinking water?  Or, perhaps you would like to be free of regulations preventing lending institutions from practicing predatory lending?  Would you like to be free from regulations requiring the approval of health inspections for out patient surgeries, restaurant kitchens, or gas station bath rooms? When you complain about regulations in general the removal of the specifics would significantly affect your life.  But, no, you really aren’t FREE from regulations designed to protect your health, your children, your property, or your wallet.

Was it when you were free to use your favorite epithets about gay and lesbian persons?  Or, when it was socially acceptable among large groups of Americans to bully, taunt, or discriminate against LBGT persons.  Does their lifestyle seem “icky” to you, and you want to be protected from it?  That ‘s not the definition of Small Government —  when you want government to shield you from those who don’t share your gender orientation. Sorry, no you aren’t FREE any longer to use gender epithets in polite conversation.   And, no, the marriage of the gay couple down the street shouldn’t be causing any problems in your own marriage.   If you truly believe in individual liberty, then why is discriminating against members of the LGBT community acceptable?  If it’s uncomfortable for you to acknowledge the gay son in your neighbor’s family or the lesbian daughter of the family across the street, then how does this square with your “Live and Let Live” philosophy?  If they aren’t FREE then neither are you.

I suppose I can partially understand your frustration.  The government, you rarely call it OUR government, won’t protect you any more.  It won’t shield you, cover you, or applaud you when you behave as though you are the only person who matters. It won’t protect your individual prejudices, your predilections, your biases, and your fears.   It won’t reinforce your ignorance or sanction your lack of civic spirit.   It must feel confining to live in a world in which you are not FREE to exercise  those prejudices, predilections, predispositions, biases, and fears.  However, those are chains of your own making.  I cannot break the shackles by which you’ve bound yourself.

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Filed under 2012 election, conservatism, feminism, Nevada politics, Politics

Republican Sectarianism and the Radio Broadcaster

It’s nice to hear from honest people speaking honestly.  For example, the owner of Reno, Nevada’s KKFT-FM radio who pulled the plug on a broadcaster because a discussion of LGBT issues didn’t fit the “conservative” station format. [RGJ]  No surprise that the station is a Fox affiliate.  What is surprising is the knee jerk reaction to any discussion of LGBT issues as intrinsically “liberal.”

The owner and manager of the station must not be aware of, or is antithetical to, the efforts of LGBT conservatives, who are CPAC members,  host internet sites for information and talking point distribution, and political networking.  See GayConservative.Org.  Additionally, he must have missed the advertising purchased during the Tampa convention in which Log Cabin Republicans and YCFM offered a defense of marriage as a primary social institution. [Advocate]

The second aspect of the reaction which is disturbing is that the station manager’s action only serves to further constrict entrance into the Republican tent.  Eliminating a program because a topic is controversial in some quarters informs other quarters that not only must the message be acceptable but the messenger also.   Discussions of gay marriage do not have to be  diametrically opposed diatribes between Focus on the Family and the proponents of gay marriage.   They don’t have to be, unless it’s predetermined that there is “no other side,” and divergent opinions are heretical and must be suppressed.

Major religions define heresy as the adoption of illegitimate or inauthentic beliefs and practices deviating from the standards or tenets of the faith.  Repression of inauthentic views (as defined by the institution) goes beyond disagreement. A sect which adopts some (but not all) of the illegitimate tenets may still be identified with the larger institution.  However, step too far beyond the bounds, as did the Beguines, the Cathars, the Hussites, or the Lollards, and the group finds itself outlawed.

Removing a program from a conservative broadcasting affiliate is an action more analogous to the dissolution of the Beguines than the accommodations of the Anglican Church after the Restoration.   At some point the institution, often in the case of religious organizations, becomes exclusionary or  “confessional” in nature rather than inclusive in structure.   The vision of a political party becoming a confessional entity is systemically narrowed.  The function of a political party is to win elections.  However, a political party winnowed down to a confessional faith artificially and unnecessarily diminishes its effectiveness in the service of ideological purity.  Ideological purity is vital in some religious realms to achieve salvation.  It does not augment the ability to win elections.

Finally, the action taken by the station manager simply adds yet another example of hypocrisy to the scales by which we measure ‘fair and balanced.’ Being fair doesn’t always require being balanced.  Only in the most radical corners of alternative universes is the Earth flat, is the female reproductive system capable of differentiating between friendly and hostile sperm, and should rain forests be bulldozed to prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

Balance doesn’t always require fairness.  A balanced discourse is one in which divergent views are recognized as legitimate — they do not have to be acknowledged as accurate.  I may, for example, argue employment numbers are a lagging economic indicator, and as such may lend credence to the proposition that they usually should not be combined with more short term variables like stock market prices to create a picture of economic decline, stagnation, or growth at any given moment.  However, I have to acknowledge the proposition that whether they are immediate or lagging, they are what they are — and the U6 numbers should be incorporated into any meaningful discussion.  Not to put too fine a point to it, but the station manager’s action was neither fair, nor balanced.

It’s acceptable to categorize arguments in almost any facet of American politics as ludicrous, uninformed, inaccurate, or incredible.  That more than a few proposals are ludicrous, uninformed, inaccurate, or incredible doesn’t mean  there aren’t people who legitimately believe in them.   It’s when institutions de-legitimize beliefs which don’t align with their confessions of faith that the process of ‘burning heretics’ begins.  A person need not be singed or burned in order to be drummed from the corps of believers — drum out too many and the institution is in danger of devolving into a sect.

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Filed under conservatism, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics, religion, Republicans