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    Fags, fiestas, fish

    There are several websites devoted to people who have been members of the cult-ish Christian sect in which I was, I believe I’ve mentioned several times, brought up.  The editor of one of them offered to create a page about what it was like for gay kids, and it’s up here.  Yes, I’m linking to a page that mostly consists of my nattering, but the interesting parts to me were the questions he came up with.  There was nothing I hadn’t been called upon to think about before, but it never hurts to cast an unsparing eye over these things again.  Thanks to James, the editor in question, for making such an effort to turn out a page that looks great.  I hope its target audience finds it of use.

    My friend Sarah also posted about upbringings in a slightly less self-aggrandizing context this weekend.  She was responding to this post by Ilya Somin, and she said in part:


    If I need to explain how this leads to racism — my sons, both US born, with a US father, routinely get asked why they’re not preserving their Portuguese culture and I routinely get taken to task for not teaching them “their language.”

    And that brings us to the next point — tourism culture — culture is NOT the food or the clothing or — at least not in the US — the religion. This is how cultures are taught in US schools, and it is wrong. These are trappings and the sort of thing a tourist might think is “neat.” Teaching it this way is poisonous because kids get this “foreign cultures are just like us, except for neato traditions we don’t have” view at the same time they get the MOST jaundiced, sin-oriented view of American history and culture possible. They have no idea that if they actually studied other cultures in depth, their historical “sins” and their modern ones too would FAR outweigh those of the US. (No, I’m not going to apologize for that qualitative judgement. I voted with feet, remember?)

    I have to say the whole down-on-the-West thing is something I’ve never understood. One of the very most dominant strains in the development of Western thought has been self-examination, and through it self-awareness and self-correction. You acknowledge that colonization (or slavery, or treating women as chattel) is bad, and then you stop doing it. Social injustices on those vast scales take a while to be worked out, of course; but the idea is always to be working toward improving our institutions so that they serve the liberty of their individual members better. That doesn’t make us a flawless society, but it’s hard to see how it makes us worse than everyone else. Even among those who keep insisting we have a litany of transgressions to apologize for, most Americans wouldn’t want to make the trade-offs required to live in Canada, much less elsewhere.

    And on a somewhat lighter note, while keeping with the errant-elders theme, Eric encountered one of those classic product warning labels that leave you wondering whether you or the attorneys who drafted it are crazier:

    It doesn’t look too bad, and it seems solid enough. The only complaint I have is with the lawyers, who put a ridiculous disclaimer on the front page of the instructions:

    Unit can tip over causing severe injury or death.

    And underneath that there are more warnings, but here’s the part that killed me:

    Put heavy items on lower shelves or drawers.

    Who are they kidding? This is an aquarium stand, for God’s sake. The aquarium goes on top!

    A filled 55 gallon aquarium weighs 625 pounds.

    Sure, there are some little shelves you could put things on, but there is no place to put the aquarium except on the top. That’s what it was designed for.

    Or are the lawyers warning me that it was not designed for what it was designed for?

    Well, they fulfilled the form of a warning, if not the function; and form is often what counts.

    7 Responses to “Fags, fiestas, fish”

    1. Sarah says:

      Don’t be so sure about the non-self-agrandizing since I’ve been whining to anyone who’ll listen to me — in response to further comments to my comments — that I do TOO get the nuances of the English language and they’re meanies for telling me I’d have to learn it as a toddler to be able to do so. Yeah, I know. Yeah, I DO want some cheese with the whine.

      Thanks for referencing the comment thought. This culture vs. genetics thing is one of my hobby horses and responsible for a huge war with my older son’s classmates on my blog a while back that ended with me giving the kids’ a reading list. (Yes, now you ask, that is my solution to everything.)

      Unrelated, but deserved — the blog has propagated, looks awesome and I’m impressed with the amount of work you managed.

    2. Sean says:

      Thanks, Sarah. Redirecting links to old posts is going to be a nightmare, but that’s the way these things go. Hope they’re not treating you too shabbily over at Volokh. :)

    3. Maria says:

      Thank you, Sean, for sharing your experiences about growing up gay in the WCG. It’s interesting the comparisons you identified in regards to Japanese culture. I’m currently reading “Out of Mao’s Shadow: the Struggle for the Soul of a New China,” which is reminding me of how repressive a totalitarian regime can be (I studied the Chinese Revolution in college). And, I’m recognizing the similarities between that and the WCG. Granted, I didn’t have the threat of imprisonment or immediate death hanging over my head if I “messed up” according to the Church, but there was the threat of burning in the “lake of fire”…. And, it had to be especially acute for my gay peers, who were being told that by their very nature they were damned…

    4. Sean says:

      Yeah, Maria, you’re right: the right of exit is an important difference, and it’s important not to lose sight of it when talking about the hold the WCG had over people. Nevertheless, it really is true that…well, faith is belief without proof, and that means it’s actual belief. How’s the China book, BTW?

    5. Maria says:

      Yes, I am ever so grateful that I don’t live under a totalitarian regime.

      The book is quite good. I wish I had the time to seriously invest in it every day. But, with school… It’s the kind of book that if you don’t read it every day you’re not sure what’s going on when you pick it up again. ;-P Even if you do read it every day it still requires review. The 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre had my antenna up when I was in the library the other day. It is sad and appalling how the Chinese have done their best to keep the truth from their youth, but it makes me wonder how many 20 something’s here in the U.S. even knew about the ’89 crackdown before this year’s anniversary. But, then again, what do I know about the Cultural Revolution from ’66-’76 in China? I’m finding out–not very much.

    6. Sean says:

      Well, yeah, that’s why you can never stop learning, huh? :)

    7. Maria says:

      Amen, brother. 😉

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