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    Our instruments have no way of measuring this feeling

    Posted by Sean at 09:31, September 26th, 2005

    Chris Crain has posted on the Washington Blade blog about the problems with gay PR, though he doesn’t exactly put it that way:

    Then remember this: We gay Americans do not have the luxury of intolerance. When it comes to minorities, we are remarkably minor. Kinsey was nice enough to propagate the 10 percent myth, but subsequent surveys place us at even smaller numbers, well under half that amount. And about one-quarter of us — of us! — voted for the election and the re-election of George W. Bush.

    If we cannot tolerate the viewpoint of someone who tries to explain why one-quarter of us like and support the president, then how can we expect the 96 percent of Americans who are heterosexual to listen seriously to our demands for equality?

    The growing polarization of American politics has taken root within gay America as well. The explosion of liberal gay bloggers, many of whom spend about as much time on the “gray” of most issues as Rush Limbaugh and his “dittoheads,” has only exacerbated the proud queer tradition of disdain for gay Republicans (“Nazi Jews”) and the caricature of conservative Christians (“religious right,” “religious political extremists”).

    Whatever the public opinion surveys may say about the growing acceptance of gays, we have lost, and lost badly, every ballot measure to date on marriage, and the numbers haven’t improved since Alaska and Hawaii voted on the issue almost a decade ago.

    Our activists groups have grown quite fond of talking about the “conversations” we need to have with straight America. Well half of that conversation involves listening, not talking. And if we won’t even listen to the heretical views of our own kind, then how can we be open to one of “them”?

    He’s right. I do think that while the subject is open, though, we might make a request of the conservatives, too: some of you have a real chip on your shoulder about what a brave, exclusive little club of dissenters you are. If you don’t knock it off, you’re going to have a hard time winning over rank-and-file gays who despise the shrill left but are wary of Republicans.

    Yes, yes, yes, I know–there are gay enclaves in which you risk vandalization of your property if you’re openly conservative. More commonly you just risk being demonized. (That overused word strikes me as being appropriate here for once.) I’m more than happy to acknowledge that the outrages committed by extreme gay leftists are way worse than the smugness of some of the gay right. But smugness is a turnoff, and as long as the center-right range of gays stays so firmly a minority, it’s going to remain easy for lefty activists to claim to represent gays en masse.

    Could you be the dream that I once knew?

    Posted by Sean at 00:31, September 9th, 2005

    Oh, yeah, did something gay happen in California this week? Hmm. Sample reaction (the comments, not the main post): Bleating about the democratic process? Check. Mewling about equal protection? Check. Hysterically brandishing dodgy civil rights analogies? Check.

    Where, oh where, I keep asking myself, do people get the idea that gays are cheap opportunists with self-centered princess complexes? I just don’t understand, you know?

    Social engineering

    Posted by Sean at 10:32, August 26th, 2005

    Romeo Mike has two great posts up this week. The more general one is about how movements for tolerance mutated into political correctness. I’m going to zero in on the gay content–go figure–but there’s a lot more to it:

    I never wanted anything more out of my gay rights than to not be arrested for it. I was perfectly aware that my dynamics were different from the mainstream, so why should a tail wag the dog. Yet now society itself is being dismantled to accommodate a few hundred people who demand to have the same everything, even when so much of it has to be artificially constructed, and risks affecting essential social fabric.

    Well, societies do evolve. The decriminalization of homosexual conduct has itself certainly been a change in the social fabric, after all–however innocuous those of us with the most to gain by it may find it. And entitlement-mindedness did not originate with gays; it’s the way politics works nowadays. Furthermore, just about everyone who espouses “traditional values” is picking and choosing customs from the past that he deems worth reviving or updating, and human institutions are by definition artificial constructs. Even so, none of that vitiates the point that fecklessly restructuring long-standing institutions to serve political ends that only emerged a decade or two ago is ill-advised. Not even all gay activists can agree on why gay marriage, as opposed to the other potential ways gay unions might be recognized, is the only way to go. The reasons most frequently and loudly offered appear to center on “respect” and “dignity,” which it’s dangerous for free people to expect the government to confer on them.

    About feminism, RM (I hope he doesn’t mind my calling him that; I am certainly not going to refer to him as “Romeo”) says,

    Though males had to work to support their families, feminists co-opted work as an equality issue. Now, child-rearing is disdained by many women who identify their life purpose by labouring for their employer. For many, children aren’t part of the equation anymore, even though they still mate. Yet the subsequent rise in mean income forced up the cost of living so now women have no choice but to work, child or not. Surely, on their death beds their last words will be,”I can rest now knowing my life’s purpose was to make profits for my boss.”

    Again, I’m with RM overall. Encouraging people to think of their career as their primary source of fulfillment (or even intellectual stimulation) works against their instincts and the good of their children–no argument here. At the same time, let’s not lose sight of a couple of things. For one, while Australia has a different tax system and welfare state from the US, my understanding from Australian friends is pretty much that the two countries are not much different in this respect: families with children can make it with one income if they’re willing to forgo the frills of full-on bourgeois living.

    For another, not everyone is cut out for child-rearing. We are a complex civilization with many important artifacts to maintain and develop for future generations, and there’s no shame in devoting yourself full-time to such tasks. The problem is that everyone–including the vast majority who will eventually become parents–has been encouraged to develop in a way that’s at odds with good parenting, not that women who aren’t the mothering type are now free to pursue careers.

    The big problem is mouthing abstract bromides about “diversity” while taking concrete steps to shoehorn people into politically-approved personality and behavioral types. RM tackles that in the other post, coming up with a useful neologism:

    mis.het.eur.andry; from misandry, hatred of men + het, heterosexual + eur, euro

    “denigration of straight white male/s under the guise of promoting anti-patriarchal ideology.”

    The whole mentality of seeing different ways of life as some kind of rebuke directed at your own is something I’ve never understood. If you have to defang people’s personalities in order to be able to deal with them comfortably, there’s something wrong with your spine. Liberal societies nurture strong, combative personalities and will always have their share of friction. Feminists and gay activists who expect us to make lasting gains that are woven into society instead of being appliqueed onto it need to see the advantage there. Opposition doesn’t just tear you down, it also shows you where your own arguments have flaws so you can improve them.

    Like a horse and carriage

    Posted by Sean at 22:18, August 12th, 2005

    Megan McArdle posted something that inflamed Eric into writing one of his usual good posts on the gay marriage debate:

    In the incident cited by Megan McArdle, gay activists are apparently claiming that two heterosexuals should not be allowed to marry each other if they are of the same sex. Yet nowhere have I heard “heterosexual activists” making a similar argument (that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry each other if they are of the opposite sex).

    Clearly, there’s a lot of misunderstanding — both about existing marriage laws, as well as laws which would legalize same sex marriage.

    What gives?

    I have no idea, man, but when you find out, let me know.

    Actually, maybe you should leave me in blissful ignorance. I’m in my early 30s and in good shape, but I’m afraid hearing a detailed explanation of these people’s non-thinking might give me a coronary. Here’s part of that article:

    Two heterosexual fellows in Canada, invoking their rights under Canada’s recently passed same-sex marriage legislation, have announced their intentions to marry. Drinking pals Bill Dalrymple, 56, and Bryan Pinn, 65, intend to marry not because they are gay but for the tax breaks.

    News of the pending engagement didn’t sit well with same-sex marriage activist Bruce Walker, a Toronto lawyer. He complained that marriage should be for love.

    You know something, bitch? The day our civilization puts people like you in a position to adjudicate (1) whether what my boyfriend and I have is love and (2) whether that qualifies us for government goodies–that’s the day I depart for, like, Zimbabwe without looking back. I don’t think it’s possible to verbalize how angry this kind of thing makes me.

    To the extent that gay activists began formulating their ideas about marriage a decade or so ago, when the opposing argument most frequently encountered was “Gays have sex, not love,” I can see where it comes from. The problem is, the argument has moved on, and a lot of activists haven’t. What kind of topsy-turvy world are we living in when queer activists are the ones who want to peer into other people’s bedrooms and pass judgment on what goes on there? And who’s to say that Dalrymple and Pinn–who are friends, after all–don’t love each other? I think I could fairly say that I love my drinking buddies (especially after I’ve had a few).

    The point that gays fall in love and make the sacrifices necessary to take care of each other is an important one, but it cannot serve as the fulcrum for an argument in favor of gay marriage. How gay activists can fail to be aware of this by now is beyond me–their inability to see themselves as the public sees them is astounding–but the more they push the “We’re cute! We’re cuddly! Approve of us!” line, the more they reinforce the feeling that we suffer from arrested development and have not taken adult control over our lives.

    Nagasaki bombing anniversary

    Posted by Sean at 10:37, August 9th, 2005

    The anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing gets less attention, I think, in the Western media than that of the Hiroshima bombing, which precedes it. The speeches on 9 August tend to contain harsher soundbites, though. Part of that is that the mayor of Nagasaki is outspoken about nuclear disarmament; given that he’s not responsible for defending the nation, he can afford to be. A few months ago, he stated that the US has not made serious efforts toward nuclear disarmament. His sentiments were, as always, echoed by speakers today:

    A representative of the survivors of the bombing, [Ms.] Fumie Sakamoto (74), read the “Peace Pledge,” calling for the abolishment of nuclear weapons: “I have managed to live 60 years since that day; no one else must be allowed to taste this kind of suffering.”

    Prime Minister Koizumi also made the usual bland statements in support of worldwide nuclear disarmament. However, with due respect to Ms. Sakamoto and her fellow survivors’ truly awesome fortitude, it is simply not possible for rich nations not to arm themselves with the best offensive and defensive military technology available.

    Well, I guess it would be possible in the short term, but it would also be foolish. Practically the entirety of world history consists of the building up of material and intellectual riches by imaginative and hard-working peoples, followed by attempts by other peoples to grab those resources by force. Life is strife, unless we want to return to subsistence farming in isolated hamlets. The best way any free country can honor its war dead in deed is to allow its citizens to better their lives without impediment and to protect them, unwaveringly, when when others go after the fruits of their labor.

    Added on 10 August: I saw this a week or so ago and forgot to mention it when posting on 6 August: Romeo Mike likes to take pictures of stupid-lefty political posters and stapled-up handbills around town. Last week, there was one about Hiroshima in the middle of this post.

    I can’t tell whether the pattern on the woman’s obi is supposed to be origami doves of peace or, you know, lotuses of enlightenment or something. I can say that the first time I read the main message of “No more US wars / Abolish all nuclear weapons / Troops home from Iraq now,” I thought, For crying out loud, is that a flippin’ haiku? Please tell me they didn’t…oh, sweet Amaterasu, they couldn’t have…. Luckily, they hadn’t–I was faked out by that five-syllable first line. That was where the relief ended, of course. (You have to read the “What will socialism look like?” one, too, which pushes the time-dishonored line that real socialism would lead to paradise on Earth; the problem is that no one’s done it right yet. And at the risk of cramming too many topics in here, you might want to read RM’s thoughts on the push for same-sex marriage in Australia, which appears to be prey to the same problems as it is in the States: disagreement among advocacy groups about both strategies and goals, contempt for dissenting gays and thoughtful opponents. The sun never sets on lefty stupidity.)

    Added on 11 August: I don’t want to beat this topic to death, but Michael and Daily Pundit have noted the way reports about the bombings land in La-la Land non-reality. Michael questions a Globe and Mail headline, and Bill Quick–well, if you want to know why I never cite The Japan Times here, it’s because I don’t read it. Check this out:

    The U.S. actions arose not from any rage but from cool, calculated thinking. The intent was to deliver a crippling psychological blow to Japan by obliterating two of its important cities. No warning was given to the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before unleashing the nuclear holocaust.

    Before dropping the second bomb, shouldn’t the U.S. have given Japan a reasonable and firm deadline to surrender? In rushing into a second nuclear attack before Japan could grasp the strategic significance of the first bombing, Truman achieved little more than showing that a tested implosion-type bomb worked.

    No warning? A reasonable and firm deadline? You’d think we were talking about that employee in cubicle A7 who never submits his paperwork on time.

    What’s in a name?

    Posted by Sean at 10:42, July 29th, 2005

    What Michael said:

    While the outcome would be right if marriage were enacted in CT, the method is clearly wrong. If the state refused to do anything for gay couples, that would be one thing. Yet here we have a state that democratically gave gay couples most, if not all, of the rights of marriage. Why not let that sink in for a few years, then petition the legislature for marriage?

    Here’s the thing: Civil Unions give you all the rights of marriage in Connecticut. What are you accomplishing by pushing for marriage rights? Answer: Nothing. Because any rights beyond what you have are Federal. And there is nothing that state can do about that. In effect, what these gay couples are doing is ruining it for the rest of us. They are ensuring that state legislatures will remain queazy about enacting civil union legislation in the future.

    He’s talking about the news that there are eight gay couples in Connecticut using the state’s recent passage of a civil unions bill to sue for the ability to marry. I’m not sure that even breaking the argument down into the shortest possible clauses, as Michael obligingly did, will make people get it. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure his prediction is correct.

    BTW, he didn’t quote the most unpalatable part of the article:

    “We really believe marriage best reflects what we’ve had together. We have a deep love and commitment, and civil unions don’t reflect that,” said Janet Peck of Colchester. She and her partner, Carol Conklin, will celebrate their 30th anniversary later this year.

    “Civil unions just kind of feel like you’re not good enough,” Conklin added.

    Other couples, such as Jeffrey Busch and Stephen Davis of Wilton, will apply for a civil union reluctantly. They feel they cannot pass up the legal protections the arrangement will provide–such as the right to sue for wrongful death and the ability to file taxes jointly–but they do not plan a celebration.

    “Civil unions are humiliating. We’re embarrassed by it,” Busch said. “We will in essence be agreeing to be officially marginalized. I’m very hopeful that is a temporary step on our way to being considered a full family deserving the same respect as other families.”

    Sometimes I would love to break my own rule about not using any but the mildest four-letter words here. Would everyone be so kind as to imagine my letting fly with a stream of loud and hideous profanities right now?

    The unruffed grouse

    Posted by Sean at 05:43, July 27th, 2005

    Joe has his thoughts up on Jon Stewart’s Rick Santorum interview last night:

    My belief is that we can win the debate, we don’t have to denigrate. So that’s what Sanotrum believes and I don’t agree. I don’t believe that good parenting requires one man and one woman and I find that the studies back me up.

    I also don’t agree that the only societal interest in marriage is children. It’s one interest, even a primary interest, not the only interest. Stable relationships are themselves an interest. They foster a stable society, public health and safety, and better economics, which are all in our societal interest.

    Joe also links to a transcript of the interview at Towleroad. I thought the infamous man-on-dog comparison from a few years ago was just silly–not only insulting but also poorly judged because it gave shrieky political activists an excuse to excoriate Santorum without paying the slightest attention to any distinctions he actually did make usefully.

    Some people may find their brain fried at this segment of the interview:

    Santorum: I would say that certainly people who are homosexuals can be virtuous and very often are. The problem is that when you talk about the institution of marriage as the foundation and building block of society which I say the family is, and the marriage is the glue that holds the family together. We need to do things to make sure that that institution stays stable for the benefit of children.

    Joe disagrees in specific ways with Santorum that I do not, but his comments are, as always, respectful and worth reading.

    No borders here

    Posted by Sean at 09:21, July 21st, 2005

    Congratulations, Canada:

    Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin signed the legislation making it law, hours after it was approved by the Senate late Tuesday night despite strong opposition from Conservatives and religious leaders.

    Churches have expressed concern that their clergy would be compelled to perform same sex ceremonies. The legislation, however, states that the bill only covers civil unions, not religious ones, and no clergy would be forced to perform same-sex ceremonies unless they choose to do so.

    Charles McVety, a spokesman for Defend Marriage Canada and president of Canada Christian College, said he was “very sad that the state has invaded the church, breached separation of church and state and redefined a religious word.”

    Well, buddy, this is what you get when the religious word in question is closely tied to a government goodie bag. I still think there’s reason for caution about a blanket extension of the legally designated category of marriage to cover gay relationships, but not all the opportunism in argument has been on the pro-gay side. And the sense of entitlement that has animated many gays in this debate is something that’s been picked up from the general culture, not invented by our team and foisted on it.

    Leave me alone / I’m a family man

    Posted by Sean at 22:35, July 14th, 2005

    Shocking news: there’s a gay guy working in PR.

    Well, okay, the shock is that he’s Rick Santorum’s communications director. Michael says he must be getting paid very well. I don’t know; not being a supporter of the current campaign for gay marriage myself, I can certainly imagine that he might support Santorum’s policy position. (Just to be clear, I don’t. That is, I don’t support the FMA.) You do have to wonder what he thinks of Santorum’s remarks that, in essence, decriminalizing homosexuality logically commits you to decriminalizing bestiality and polygamy.

    I understand that PR people are responsible for representing their employers. In that sense, you can’t fault Robert Traynham for staying on-message. It would be nice, though, if these gays working for anti-gay politicians were willing to explain, with clarity and point, why they don’t think there’s any conflict there. Surely if you have the courage of your convictions, you should be able to articulate them. But Traynham wiffs:

    When asked how a gay man could speak for one of the nation’s most notorious homophobes, Traynham, left, protested that has “been with the Senator for eight years.” Traynham went on to say “Senator Santorum is a man of principle, he is a man who sticks up for what he believes in, I strongly do support Senator Santorum.”

    When pressed on whether he supported the Senator’s stands on lesbian and gay issues, Mr. Traynham abruptly ended the phone call by saying “Senator Santorum is a family man with “I have been with Senator Santorum for eight years and I am very proud to be with him.”

    An attempt to follow-up with a question was met with Mr. Traynham hanging up the phone.

    Uh, honey? As his bleedin’ communications director, surely you know that Senator Santorum himself is not afraid to discuss his stance on homosexuality. “I support the senator’s positions on gay and lesbian issues” is not a sentence that should be all that hard to choke out if it’s what you believe.

    I think it’s great that conservative gays can thrive in jobs with conservative politicians. I’m against outing them or declaring them a priori traitorous to other gays. But it’s worth noting that always being able to respond to sticky questions with “I’m representing my boss’s opinion, not my own” and other I’m-just-doing-my-job vagaries is a very convenient way to avoid taking your own stand.

    Get ethnic

    Posted by Sean at 09:31, July 13th, 2005

    Jon Rowe has an interesting post up about Japanese racism and cultural relativism. It strikes me as somewhat dodging the most fascinating and important question, though: is there a critical mass of institutionalized racism in Japanese society–that is, an amount sufficient to make it morally inferior to ours despite our important similarities as democratic allies?

    Rowe cites a speech by Allan Bloom:

    But the family is exclusive. For in it there is an iron wall separating insiders from outsiders, and its members feel contrary sentiments toward the two. So it is in Japanese society, which is intransigently homogeneous, barring the diversity which is the great pride of the United States today. To put it brutally, the Japanese seem to be racists. They consider themselves superior; they firmly resist immigration; they exclude even Koreans who have lived for generations among them. They have difficulty restraining cabinet officers from explaining that America’s failing economy is due to blacks.

    I hate to disagree with someone as estimable as Bloom. (And hey, he was a gay white guy with an Asian love-muffin, too–we share so much!) Nevertheless, it is exactly the “intransigence” of Japan’s rigid homogeneity that I think is the key issue here.

    Added on 15 July: That’s weird–Dean and I both use PowerBlogs, and trackback pinging is automatic. Odd that it didn’t go through. Since his post is, of course, good, here it is. (And thanks for linking, Dean.)