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    If she knew what she wants

    Posted by Sean at 03:46, February 14th, 2006

    This weekend I wrote to another blogger that I was going to try to put a lid on the fifteen-paragraph posts slamming friends who needed to complain sometimes–you know, as if it were an earth-shaking deal.

    I’d just like to note here that I made it at least a good forty-eight hours. Maybe it would have been longer had I stayed home all weekend.

    There seems to be a certain type of person who arrives at the coming out phase and thinks, Hmmm….Lots of affectionate pity from friends…extra lenience for bad behavior [overdrinking, overspending, screwing over friends, screwing over boyfriends, screwing over friends with their boyfriends]…a ready excuse for not dealing well with my parents…I could learn to like this, and decides to camp there indefinitely.

    I doubt that that’s a conscious decision for the most part, you understand; it’s just this whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing. Nearly everyone starts out in gay life wondering whether he’ll make any friends and whether any guys will go for him at all, let alone whether he’ll ever find love. It’s kind of scary at first. No shame in that. Reasonable people figure that, hey, a little open rejection every now and then is way better than a lot of being closed off and closeted and borderline-suicidal all the time…and besides, if a few million other guys and girls can do it, so can they. And they’re right.

    By contrast, the determined whiners are the boys who in five years go from a tentative Will anyone ever be interested in me for real? to the confidently crabby I hate the bar scene–everyone’s so shallow! without ever stopping at Maybe it’s MY behavior that’s flawed and I should GET OVER MYSELF and try modifying it in between.

    When one of these characters starts getting wound up–here as at home, you generally know you’ve got trouble when the words “bar scene” are uttered–it is, I have learned, a mistake to try to head him off at the pass by suggesting that he might want to try other possible ways to circulate. Guys have a bizarre way of objecting to Internet classifieds as “kinda pathetic” immediately after complaining that they’re dateless and friendless at bars. And recommending that someone join a sports or activities group is useless when his whole problem is that he thinks happiness should bestir itself to come and find him.

    Well, all right, you don’t like bars, but you don’t like the other options any more, so you’re stuck here unless you decide to go into a monastery. How about doing what everybody else does? You talk to people. Some of them won’t be interested, and some of them won’t be very nice about the fact that they’re not interested. That stings, but it won’t kill you. And talking to guys who don’t seem likely to become boyfriends or best buddies reminds you that you’re not the center of the universe and everyone has problems. You’ll eventually have a relationship that doesn’t really go anywhere, or that lasts a year or so before you realize it isn’t good for you. You call it a learning experience and move on. That’s one of the things that happen when you choose for yourself rather than letting family elders and other matchmakers filter out possible partners. If liberty’s not working out for you, maybe you’d prefer to go back to the older system and get your parents to pick. You probably won’t be any happier, but at least with you and your wife sharing the same loveless marriage, she might have some empathy to draw on while listening to you mewl.


    And are you here when I hold you? / I wonder…I wonder….

    Posted by Sean at 05:46, February 7th, 2006

    Rondi Adamson has seen Guess Which Movie and offers this:

    But…what struck me–and admittedly, I’m seeing this from the narrow and exasperated point of view of a single woman in the midst of dating horrors–was that this movie showed how men are big, fat f*&^wits even in gay relationships!

    It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for even smart straight people to be hoodwinked into believing that gay male relationships must be easier to navigate because two men are somehow on the same wavelength in ways that men and women are not. One hates to disabuse people of fantasies in which they’re clearly deeply invested, but…well, no. Sorry. How representative I am I cannot tell, but face-offs over the course of my own relationship history have frequently centered around the following lines (and no, I’m not going to tell you in which cases I was the deliverer vs. the deliveree):

    • “Dammit, GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME! Every time we start having a discussion about something that I think MATTERS, you think you can avoid the subject by coming on to me.”

    • “Why are you so afraid to express your feelings?”
    • “I just vacuumed the floor on Friday, and it’s clean enough for me. If YOU want it kept in a constant state of perfect dustlessness, why don’t you vacuum it yourself?”
    • “Are you going out of your way to humiliate me in public? … Oh, don’t give me that! You were flirting with that waiter and the whole table knew it!”
    • “I don’t think you’re the kind of guy who’s ready for commitment yet.”
    • “Do you think I’m getting fat?”
    • “Okay, look–here is a pen, and here is a piece of paper, and here is what you are going to do for me: You are going to write down all these little rules–I have to kiss you goodbye every time you leave the house, I have to call you if I’m going to be more than 13.5 minutes later than usual getting home, and I have to say “I love you” in three different major ancient and modern world languages at breakfast every freaking third Thursday. Write them all down. I will memorize them. I will follow them. But stop getting all pissy at me for not doing what you want when I can’t figure it out and you won’t TELL ME what the hell it is!”

    Now, does that mean the dynamic is the same as in straight relationships? Certainly not. We don’t have to factor in the possibility of pregnancy or, in most places, marriage. And while in straight relationships I gather that the person who wants everything clean is also statistically more likely to be the one who wants to talk about feelings, things don’t cluster that way for gay guys. (The biggest crybaby I ever dated was a dockworker who appeared to be wholly innocent of the knowledge that it was possible to put things on any horizontal surface other than the floor.)

    Anyway, my point is that in just about any relationship, one partner is more demonstrative than the other, or wants to have sex more often than the other, or is less inclined to talk through problems than to think through them silently, or what have you. Who’s being the big, fat f*&^wit usually varies by situation; it’s not always the one who’s acting more stereotypically male.

    Added on 9 February: Okay, there seems to be some unwritten rule that commenters named John have to make remarks about the vacuuming thing. It’s slightly OT, I guess, but let me just note two things.

    One is–and I know no one’s going to be inclined to believe this, but I hope everyone here trusts my honesty–that my partner at the time was the one who was spazzing about the floors. Yes, I’m serious. I clean scrupulously, but not even in particulate-matter-rich Tokyo does the floor of a childless, petless household need to be vacuumed once every three days. I mean sure, do some spot-cleaning with the dustpan or one of those sticky roller things–I do that myself. But mewl at me that it’s my turn to do the full-on move-the-furniture-and-get-out-the-big-vacu-suck-machine maneuver when one of the two or three television shows I actually like to watch is on? No.

    The other is, John M. poignantly says, “I try and I try but I just can’t see the dirt….” Much as I appreciate the fact that this soul cry represents the sincere desire to reform, I feel obliged to point out that it gets things exactly backwards. You don’t notice the dirt. You notice the absence of clean. Once you can actually see dirt, you’ve reached the point at which getting everything ship-shape is going to be a major project. What you need to look for is the slightly peaked look that the tabletops and upholstery get when they have an invisible layer of dust dulling them up. When things are at that point, you can get them back in order–lovely sparkling, candid order–by going over every surface once and relatively lightly.


    More bang for your health care buck

    Posted by Sean at 03:25, January 21st, 2006

    You have got to be kidding me (via Ace Pryhill at Gay Orbit):

    University of Florida employees have to pledge that they’re having sex with their domestic partners before qualifying for benefits under a new health care plan at the university.

    The partners of homosexual and heterosexual employees are eligible for coverage under UF’s plan, which will take effect in February. The enrollment process began this month, and some employees have expressed concern about an affidavit that requires a pledge of sexual activity.

    Kim Tanzer, chair of the Faculty Senate, said she could understand why some faculty might view the affidavit as invasive.

    “I can see (Behnke’s) point,” she said. “If you ask married folks if they’re in a platonic relationship, that’s a personal question.”

    “Some faculty might view the affidavit as invasive”?

    Some?

    MIGHT?!

    And the rest are perfectly sanguine about having a “must fuck” clause built into their health insurance policy? Even Ace herself (“Okay, so while that sounds great, and totally could be used as ammo when one partner doesn’t think the other is giving up the booty with enough frequency, it’s really a stupid stipulation”) and North Dallas Thirty (in the comments: “True, but I can see their point…..DPs really are not meant to cover, as they put it, long-term roommate relationships that don’t involve anything deeper than shared space and bills”), both of whom are usually reliably reasonable people, don’t seem to see what an OUTRAGE it is to have bean counters passing judgment on one’s sex life.

    Because, you know? I really can’t see their point. Not even kind of sort of in a way. In fact, it’s so ludicrous that I clicked around the parent site a little just to make sure we weren’t being suckered by an Onion-style parody played straight. No such luck. Normally, I would be chary of interpreting “non-platonic” as meaning “sexual” to the bureaucrats interpreting it, but that’s how the UF people quoted sure appear to mean it. (And my understanding from people who have dealt with having their marriages observed for green cards and things is that even the INS only tries to determine whether you live together in an intimate way. If there’s some kind of bald sex requirement, it’s the one complaint about bringing a spouse back to the States that I’ve somehow avoided hearing.)

    This kind of thing is the perfect illustration of how the campaigners for gay marriage, with their squalling emphasis on achieving “validation” and “respect” and “dignity” through paperpushing, have been shooting themselves in the foot. If two people of undisclosed sexuality decide they’re never going to marry and want to be responsible for each other, why shouldn’t a domestic partnership arrangement cover them?

    I love seeing romance bloom, but I cannot for the life of me imagine having the effrontery to demand it of people. And when it comes to my own household, the only person whose business it is whether Atsushi’s being adequately serviced is Atsushi. I don’t even discuss what happens in our bedroom with my best friend.

    UF’s VP of Human Resources is quoted as saying he “had no plans to personally enforce the sex pledge,” which is nice, because even if the idea weren’t COMPLETELY CRACKERS to begin with, what would you do? Would a used condom with DNA from both partners suffice (in the case of men)? Or would they have to go for it right in front of a certified university employee who would then sign a confirmation that they both got off? And, for that matter, even if they weren’t really in a “non-platonic” relationship, couldn’t the benefits be good enough that gritting their teeth through one bone-dance session a year (if that were the qualifying minimum) would be worth it for two unmarried roommates?

    Unreal. Just unreal.


    安楽

    Posted by Sean at 05:20, January 20th, 2006

    I was going to post this immediately after putting this up about my trip to Taiwan. Then I just kind of didn’t and figured it was expendable. Then I read a few things that kept reminding me of the topic and thought–this is one of the bad things blogging does to you–Hey, I’ve still got that post I didn’t put up, and there’s still time to GIVE IT TO THE WORLD! So this is the other thing that struck me, not for the first time, over the weekend.

    I ended up staying at the apartment of the woman who runs the office there–my trip had been arranged pretty hastily, and I guess there are a lot of people trying to get things done in Taipei before the Chinese New Year. My flight was delayed by rain and fog here in Tokyo; when we got in at her building, we had a midnight supper (tortellini and green salad and beer–quick and casual but, for me, like la Tour d’Ar-freakin’-gent after the stuff on the airplane) and talked animatedly for a while before turning in. We had several other meals together in the next few days–we’ve known each other for years and have become friends, and food in Taiwan is yummy–and I went out for lunches and stuff in various pick-up groups with other people from the office. Some of it was shop talk; I was there for shop, after all. But a lot of it was just the kind of stuff you find yourself talking about with other foreigners who live in Asia (and with Asians who’ve spent time living in the West; the groups tend to be mixed).

    And I kept finding myself thinking how much I like the people I’m surrounded by and, despite my need to spend loads of time alone and my spiel about being a loner, how easy it is to talk to them.

    The sheer relief of being able to say that catches up with me at odd moments. Growing up, I never really expected to be in my element. Not that I expected to be a full-on hermit. I was a pretty unpopular kid, but I was never really, seriously, scarily isolated. I always had a few close friends. And they were real, serious friends. I’m only in consistent contact with one of them now, but there’s enough writing back and forth with two or three of the others that if by some chance I do go to our twenty-year reunion, I won’t be in the dark about which marriages and children and career paths go with whom.

    But without really verbalizing it to myself, I essentially figured I’d turn into one of those elderly bachelors who dote on their books and stuff and don’t socialize much and (needless to say) never really have even one serious romance. I genuinely love books, so I wasn’t too bothered. The implied lack of romance also didn’t disturb me, since my best efforts to get worked up over girls came to naught, anyway. And as I say, I always had a very small but genuine set of friends, and you can’t complain about that.

    Like most people who only really grew into their personalities in college and afterward, though, I found it a new experience to be able to talk to people–just people in general–without having that constant low-level hum in my head that I had to stay reined in so I didn’t give myself away somehow. Most of it, yes, was that I’d lost the subconscious fear of inadvertently saying or doing something that might make me look like a fag. (You kind of have to get over that if you’re going to call men “honey” as often as I do.) And yet it was a lot of other little general-personality things, too: Being around people who know what it’s like to want to move far away from where you grew up even though you love your family and the upbringing they gave you–that’s a big one. And having it just assumed in the background, so that you don’t have to keep explaining it all the time.

    This is turning into one of those posts that dissolve into purposelessness. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve written so many querulous this-article-SUCKS posts this week that I seem to be projecting a rather crabby mood and wanted to write about something positive. Atsushi can’t get back for our anniversary tomorrow, but we’ll be celebrating next week. Several friends of mine whose relationships ended last year are finding love…or at least fun distractions. The 300th anniversary of Ben Franklin’s birth was a few days ago. A close college friend is getting married in May. Things are good, even if a lot of people are saying dumb things about Japan.


    老後

    Posted by Sean at 23:47, January 6th, 2006

    The way I met my last boyfriend was this: A yenta-ish friend who runs one of the bars I go to showed me Ryuichi’s photograph and asked whether I’d be interested in meeting him. When I arrived, a space was cleared and Ryuichi’s friends–I swear, I’m not making this up–acted the part of his elders and protectors and interrogated me about my job, where I lived, and whether I was from an intact, respectable family! Good thing for him they were so adamant on that first point, too, since he quit his job soon after and decided to spend a year doing little but surfing.

    This post from the always-interesting Cathy Young a few days ago isn’t about Japan, or about gay life, but it illustrates the kinds of questions I was alluding to here–things Western journalists tend to neglect while cooking up Hamburger Helper articles about the evolution of Japanese household patterns:

    Is anyone going to seriously argue that a man’s resources–income, power, status–are generally irrelevant to women’s preferences in the mating game in modern-day American culture? That doesn’t mean most women are calculating golddigers (as some men’s rights folks like to depict them), but yes, women generally prefer not to “marry down,” and not just in terms of money but also in terms of prestige, education and intelligence, for which a college degree is considered a marker. To deny this fact is, shall we say, not very reality-based. Unlike many conservatives, I’m not saying that this is the way it should be or the way it always will be. But for now, such a trend is definitely there.

    Japan’s post-War constitution, interestingly enough, defines marriage as between a man and a woman not because of any prescience about the fight over gay marriage (there isn’t any here) but in order to outlaw forced arranged marriages. Family elders could no longer use marriageable young adults as instruments by which to carry out politicking or feuds, at least legally.

    But the practice of finding a spouse through お見合い (o-miai: lit., “looking at each other,” a meeting between two eligible people, usually arranged by their families through a matchmaker) lingered on, and though people date freely now, it’s still common. While marrying “for love” is much more the norm now than it used to be, a good job is still recognized up front as the major criterion when a man is under consideration as a potential husband. And that certainly would have been the case thirty-five years ago, when the women whose husbands are now retiring and driving them crazy around the house were sizing up the available men.

    You don’t get a sense of that or its implications as spouses aged together from the recent Reuters article:

    “Japanese men’s life expectancy falls by about 10 years if they divorce late in life,” said Nishida, who now runs regular discussion days to help couples overcome the hurdle of retirement. “That’s because they can’t do anything for themselves.”

    She did not divorce but insisted her own husband at least learned to cook for himself.

    “Couples need to rebuild their relationship,” Nishida said. “Retired men still tend to act like the lord and master.”

    Not all men see a need for change.

    “Mature Divorce” star Tetsuya Watari said in an interview on the program’s Web site that he never cooks and has not bothered to give his wife a birthday present in decades.

    “I don’t think Kotaro’s way of life is wrong,” he said of the workaholic character he played in the drama.

    Some viewers agreed with him.

    “I can’t agree with the wife’s point of view,” said one poster on the Web site.

    “She says Kotaro works all the time and doesn’t help around the house, but that’s normal for someone devoted to his job — I think it’s admirable. At least he’s not a talentless loser.”

    The above passage gives every appearance of an effort at scrupulous fair-mindedness. But even in giving both the he-said and the she-said, it leaves a lot out. Retired men may act like the lord and master, but it’s equally true that plenty of married women of that generation–and this is hardly a phenomenon unique to Japan–regarded the home as their turf alone and would hardly have encouraged their husbands to poke around in “my” kitchen cabinets or work less overtime if it meant a decrease in money and prestige for the household. True, one hears of wives who begged their husbands to trade down in employment so they had more time with their families, but that was not the norm in the era of post-War economic hypergrowth.

    The viewpoint ascribed to the men–and I should take the opportunity to point out now that how much of the superficiality of the final version is due to Isabel Reynolds’s reporting, as opposed to, possibly, an editor who was bent on giving the paying customers what they want out of their stories about the aging society in workaholic Japan–is just as reductive. The Japanese have been known for working long hours, but, especially before the end of the Bubble, the time spent away from home “for work” often involved a few hours of carousing with coworkers at the end of the day. Sure it was basically mandatory if you wanted to advance, but the reason it was possible to make it so was that men let the women take care of the household in its entirety. There were undoubtedly husbands who worked stone-cold sober at their desks right up until they had to dash for the last train and then collapsed wordlessly into bed and started snoring away when they got home; but most offices, at least, were not set up that way.

    Also, a funny thing happened on the way to the year 2000: Japan became super-rich. It remains rich despite the bursting of the Bubble. When today’s retirees were getting married, Japan was on its way to becoming a global economic power, but war and rice rations were still in living memory and made certain kinds of sacrifices seem fair enough, even necessary. Now that the Japanese are accustomed to the choices available to consumers in a First World country, those sacrifices are less palatable.

    All of which is to say, it takes two to do the dysfunctional marriage tango. The bargain struck in Japanese marriages after the War was that the men worked themselves to death (sometimes literally–the word is 過労死 [karoushi: “death from overwork”]) until retirement, thereby earning themselves the right to do nothing but play golf from then on. Women were supposed to satisfy their desire for work by rearing the children and keeping the house, but they also had money and time to spend on flower arranging classes, movies, and lunch at trendy restaurants with the girls.

    Of course their husbands never learned how to take care of themselves. Not only have they not been taught to, they’ve been taught not to. BY WOMEN. Mother did for them all through childhood; if they didn’t live at home after college, they lived in a corporate dorm with a dining hall; and once they were married…well, see the above. (As someone who’s dated three first-born sons of Japanese households, I could say a lot more about that, but it would be unseemly.) You can certainly point out plenty of ways that the system is unfair to women, but it doesn’t strike me as unreasonable for a sixty-year-old man whose wife decides she wants a divorce to say, essentially, “Just a minute here–I fulfilled my end of the deal, and now you want to welsh on it and still have me support you!”

    One final thing worthy of note: Reporters understandably cover conflicts and tensions and things because they’re interesting, and the resulting problems tend to drive developments in society and policy. Unfortunately, if the only Japanese people you ever read about are homicidal teenagers, consumers of manga porn, and geriatric couples who hate the sight of each other, you can start to get the sense that the entire archipelago is utterly bonkers. Those problems and others do exist, and they’re serious. I talk about them myself. But Japan is a great place that, in the main, does right by its people. Walk in Tokyo parks on weekends, and you’ll see plenty of old couples who have an easy, if amusingly bickersome, intimacy and are clearly devoted to each other. Not the sort of thing that gets media attention, perhaps, but an important part of the picture.


    善いお年を~!

    Posted by Sean at 07:46, December 26th, 2005

    Exactly one year ago today, I posted this:

    Fat lot of good that did, huh? So I figure, as we go from the Year of the Cock to the Year of the Dog–stop that sniggering, you bitches in the back!–I may as well solicit resolutions from even more people this year. If the elements are going to dash your dreams, make ’em work at it, I say.

    In 2006, I would like liberals to decide whether they believe in protecting (1) assertive individuality, even when it has sharp edges and raises uncomfortable questions or (2) the right of the government to adjudicate every potentially offensive manifestation of religious beliefs, sexuality, and even dietary choices. I don’t really care which one they pick–though I’m hoping they go with (1), of course. They just need to knock it off with the cynical, opportunistic toggling back and forth between the two, depending on which tack happens to suit the finger-wagging point they’re making at a given moment.

    In 2006, I would like conservatives to decide whether they believe America’s material prosperity and staggering array of consumer products are (1) evidence that our way of life is the best in the world or (2) evidence that we’ve lost our spirituality and are hung up on the trivial at the expense of the transcendent. I don’t really care which one they pick–though I’m hoping they go with (1), of course. They just need to knock it off with the cynical, opportunistic toggling back and forth between the two, depending on which tack happens to suit the finger-wagging point they’re making at a given moment.

    In 2006, I would like everyone to forgo the opportunity to be an asshole sometimes. Say, every third opportunity to be an asshole. Yes, I know–your opponents don’t make or respond to arguments, they just parrot the same empty talking points over and over and they ignore counterarguments and they suck and you’re not going to put up with it anymore and you’re willing to be a nice person but they force you to play offense all the time. I know, I know, I KNOW. I know because you’ve told us that about a million times. What I don’t know is what you think you’re accomplishing by adding one more uncharitable jerk to the din. Fearlessly offensive, gusty expressions of free thought can be a bracing corrective to namby-pambiness in the public discourse–within reason. When they become the public discourse, we’re in trouble. If you want people to be respectful, rational, and fair-minded, you might want to get the ball rolling by setting them an example.

    Best to everyone in the new year.


    Made possible by a grant from Mobil Corporation

    Posted by Sean at 05:42, November 28th, 2005

    There’s a post at Right Reason about gay marriage. I know–the topic has been flogged to death already, but Steve Burton’s post brings the topic back to some of the underlying social-fabric issues that can sometimes get lost as the debate gets pickier. The commenters also don’t suffer fools gladly, so if you can still stand the topic, it’s worth a read.

    There’s also a post that links to this piece about Julia Child as culinary conservative. Interesting, although if all cooks had followed known tradition and authority and been afraid to jump off a few cliffs, we might not have, say fugu in aspic. Or–generalizing beyond cooking–countries, such as ours, populated by venturesome immigrants.

    The Julia Child thing reminds me of when I was growing up. We’d come home from services on Saturday evenings, and Julia Child and Company would be on PBS some time around sunset. Later, there would be Mystery!, which I loved even as a small boy. I’m not sure what it says about me that I was that keen on watching a show where people were murdered all the time, but I maintain that the draw was the restoration of the moral order at the end of every episode.

    Anyway, the Mystery Channel in Japan has just launched and is part of my cable subscription, so I’ve encountered the odd nostalgic rerun–A Touch of Frost and the Joan Hickson Miss Marples and the like. (Not all of them are nostalgic. P.D. James couldn’t plot her way out of a paper bag, so I quickly bail if I realize I’m watching a dramatization of one of her coherence-free Dalgliesh porridges.) The other day, it got me thinking about a Mystery! series–one of the many British imports–that was broadcast when I was in elementary school. Since I had the laptop here open, I decided to see whether that nice Mr. Google could tell me anything.

    Man, there is nothing you can’t find on the Internet now. All I’d remembered was that it was about a writer whose wife’s Mini Cooper crashes, and that she’s taken to a place called the Meadowbank Clinic and held there while her alkie husband tries to figure out what’s happening to her. Looking for it, I came upon this page, which not only described the whole thing in impressive detail (“The Limbo Connection”–that‘s right!) but also reminded me of another series I’d completely forgotten.

    It was called “Quiet as a Nun.” In it, there’s a convent being stalked by a phantom nun who blacks her face out with a fabric mask. The site has a video clip of the climactic moment when the protagonist, your typical girlie but plucky suspense-story heroine, decides to go up into one of the towers looking for the Black Nun. She finds her, all right. shivers Watching it again thrilled every fiber of my gay being.


    I feel love

    Posted by Sean at 01:16, November 16th, 2005

    A friend says he thought I might enjoy this bit of a Houston Chronicle editorial (which is fileted by James Taranto in the 15 November Best of the Web). I assume he means “enjoy” approximately in the sense of “be driven to punch through the monitor by.” This is the operative paragraph from the editorial:

    Inner city black voters in Harris County, many of whom have long experience with the denial of civil rights, favored the marriage amendment by an even higher majority than the general Harris County voting population. Black discomfort with homosexual marriage is rooted less in conscious discrimination than in religious belief, but support for the amendment brought blacks into incongruous accord with members of the Ku Klux Klan, whose members rallied in Austin in support of Proposition 2.

    I don’t agree that the civil rights and gay rights movements are comparable all the way down–and what civil rights have black people been denied for the last three or so decades, one wonders?–but I do think that gays and other minorities are very similar in the ceaseless way our soi-disant allies manage to patronize us. As Taranto says, “If you’re a person of pallor and you oppose same-sex marriage, you’re guilty of ‘conscious discrimination,’ whereas if you’re black, you’re following ‘religious belief’ and presumably discriminating unconsciously. Oh, and does this mean people who favor same-sex marriage are religious unbelievers? Seems to us the Houston Chronicle has just managed to insult pretty much everybody.”

    As a homosexual unbeliever who doesn’t favor same-sex marriage, I think the most insulting part is unmentioned by Taranto: the attribution of any opposition to that boneless PC animating force, “discomfort.” People can’t believe things are right or wrong, or constructive or destructive, anymore, apparently–the only opposition sympathetic characters are to be permitted is decorously vague unease.


    He’s the warmest chord I ever heard

    Posted by Sean at 09:00, November 15th, 2005

    At Romeo Mike’s Gumption, Ross notes an example of psycho-PC-ism via the Telegraph:

    “Paintings of traditional wedding scenes have been removed from a register office in case they offend gay couples, it has emerged.

    The pictures at Liverpool Register Office are being replaced with landscapes ahead of the introduction of “gay weddings” later this year.”

    Two problems with this. If homos are supposed to be genuinely equal then we should be able to meld in with the mainstream. Ditching traditions to humour us defeats the purpose, so the removal of the pictures is actually the offensive part.

    Secondly, it’s also offensive that the Telegraph has to include a pic of a couple of queens kissing to illustrate gay marriage. Ordinarily, news photos of newlyweds have them smiling proudly at the camera. That photo only serves to reinforce the stereotype of minorities’ ‘differences’ requiring ‘special’ treatment.

    Question 1: Did the guy on the right burst into tears immediately after the photo was snapped and yell, “It’s our wedding, darling–couldn’t you have worn something more dignified than a turtleneck?!”

    Question 2: Given the Telegraph‘s generally approving spin, what’s up with the scare quotes around “weddings”? Does it (editorially) agree that gay ceremonies aren’t genuine weddings? I’m just wondering.

    Question 3: Why is the word gay so listless and dull, ending in that irresolute diphthong, while the insulting words for homosexuals can be written and spoken with such flair? Ross is presumably being sardonic in using homos and queens, but stripped of meaning associations and possible playground resonances, aren’t they just cooler words? Personally, I’m very partial to faggot–I just can’t help it. It’s one of those words you can eject from the mouth with a little explosion, whether of playfulness or of anger. It is impossible to utter the word gay in an aesthetically pleasing manner. A real pity.

    BTW, not quite on the same topic, but along those lines, an acquaintance asked me–very earnestly, which was what made it funny–a little while ago, “So, Sean, you call everyone ‘honey.’ And [my close friend, who’s English] Alan calls everyone ‘darling.’ Is that, like, some kind of American-vs.-British thing?”


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    Posted by Sean at 00:04, November 10th, 2005

    Dale Carpenter finished his guest-posting on same-sex marriage at the Volokh Conspiracy nearly a week ago. I tried to read everything, including the comments, but rapidly started to get the feeling I’d been hanging out a little too long at the corner of Lawyerview Boulevard and Old Libertarian Pike, if you know what I mean. I suppose I’m only posting this about it myself so that I’ll have a link in my own archives if I ever want to go back and look at what was written. My own mind isn’t changed. The gay marriage advocates, however articulate and sober they are, still always sound to me as if they were casting us as First Runner-up straight people, which is kind of humiliating. It just doesn’t bother me that homosexuality and heterosexuality aren’t the same thing and therefore may not have the same requirements or social effects.