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    Say what you want

    This post by Virginia Postrel contains the second use of the locution “gays qua gays” I’ve encountered in forty-eight hours. (Virginia kindly didn’t deliver it with a flourish of the arm that nearly sloshed her vodka and cranberry on my shirt, however.)

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    Here‘s Megan McArdle on how likely it is that Ayn Rand’s vision will come out the other side of the Hollywood machine clear and undistorted when Atlas Shrugged is made into a movie:

    More to the point, how on earth could Hollywood possibly make this movie? Some objectivist bigwig has apparently signed off on the screenplay, but colour me sceptical. I’d offer long odds that by the time Hollywood is done editing the thing, it will represent plucky individuals against . . . a government superficially indistinguishable from the Bush administration. In the summer blockbuster release, the state’s biggest crime will no doubt be stealing all the gay marriage from poor people and stuffing it into private accounts where they can’t get at it.

    Heh-heh.

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    To tackle the subject of self-determination more seriously…I’m behind on my reading, but a few weeks ago I (finally) managed to cruise through Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s The Caged Virgin. Just in case you’re the last person wandering through this end of the political blogosphere who hasn’t heard, it’s great reading. Hirsi Ali’s tone is measured and sober, but her practical, can-do, humane approach is often very stirring:

    Western societies are not dominated by one single ideology, but have several ideologies that exist alongside one another. In a well-functioning democracy, the state constitution is considered more important than God’s holy book, whichever holy book that may be, and God matters only in your private life. Relationships between people and their interactions are governed by laws and rules, which are drawn up by people, not divine forces, and can be changed, adapted, or replaced by new ones. All people are the same in the face of the law, even those whose lifestyles differ from that of the majority. Women have equal opportunities under the law (although in reality this is not always so). Homosexuality is not a sin to be punished with death, nor is it considered a threat to the survival of mankind, but seen as a form of love, normal like that between heterosexuals. Moreover, love and sex are not restricted to marriage, but can be enjoyed between two people by mutual consent. Democracy provides the freedom to avoid or plan a pregnancy and ways to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

    Now, obviously, not everyone in the West is on board with everything in that passage–when I first read it, I chuckled and said aloud, “Wow, sister–are you seriously Dutch or what!” But in its careful specification of ways and reasons that Western societies liberate the individual from traditional religious strictures, it’s far more meaningfully provocative than, say, Madge Desmond over there climbing a crucifix in yet another attempt recapture her youthful transgressiveness.

    I have no idea whether Hirsi Ali views gay advocacy as comparable to the feminist and civil rights movements–I don’t myself in many respects–but her advice to Muslim women who want to leave oppressive environments contains a lot of wisdom that I wish more gays would take to heart. She does an especially good job of pointing out the necessity of weighing your decisions carefully and then carrying them out resolutely. There will be those who disapprove of your choices, and you have to be willing to live with it. If instead of acting on impulse, you work out your principles beforehand and adhere to them, you may feel lonely sometimes but you’ll never feel adrift. And get your mind off your own problems by involving yourself in making other people happy. None of these is a new idea, but there are plenty of native-born Westerners who have shunted them aside, and it’s a shame.

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    Rondi Adamson posts a link to her column on the latest developments in the Middle East. Reactions include this:

    From a guy in Trois-Rivieres: “I assume you are Jewish, sir?” You assume wrong, sir, on both counts! I’m an atheist/Protestant, and while you may not think me a lady, I’m no “sir.” And I have an appointment with my gynecologist this week to prove it!

    It always puzzles me that people will assume you’re Jewish if you support Israel (which is not the same as cheering everything it does–Michael J. Totten has some persuasive arguments that the current strikes are being handled badly). Not everyone, obviously, but a lot of people. I’ve even been asked, “Well, if you’re not Jewish, why should you be so interested in what happens to Israel, which strikes me as a singularly idiotic question.

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    Inthestars, proprietor of the invaluable but infrequently updated Awful Plastic Surgery blog, wonders whether Nelly Furtado is actually the ingéher press packs say she is. I’m not so sure a browlift is a sign that she’s more than twenty-eight, though; celebrities (especially those being groomed for a comeback) seem to be getting every procedure at a younger and younger age these days.

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