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    Watching Scotty grow Fixing Scotty and good

    Posted by Sean at 02:09, July 15th, 2005

    Joe Stark, father of Zach of Love in Action fame, has spoken to the press (or at least CBN):

    The father of a gay teenager who wrote in a Web log that he was being sent against his will to a camp run by a group called “Love in Action International” to “cure” him of his homosexuality is defending his actions.

    In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network Joe Stark says he did the right thing when he sent his 16 year old son Zach to the camp near Memphis, Tennessee.

    “We felt very good about Zach coming here because… to let him see for himself the destructive lifestyle, what he has to face in the future, and to give him some options that society doesn’t give him today,” Stark told CBN. “Knowing that your son… statistics say that by the age of 30 he could either have AIDS or be dead.”

    Stark also said that he did nothing wrong in sending the teen to the camp against his will.

    “But until he turns 18 and he’s an adult in the state of Tennessee, I’m responsible for him. And I’m going to see to it that he has all options available to him.”

    Stark told CBN that when Zack is an adult he can make his own life choices.

    Fair enough on that last part. I won’t pretend to like it one bit, but we can’t call in CFS for every parenting decision some of us don’t like.

    At the same time, anti-gays, can you please stop yanking statistics out of your asses? Of course a gay guy could be dead by 30. Anyone could be dead by 30, from a variety of diseases and misadventures. I’m trying to think of gay bloggers I read–just bloggers–who aren’t over 30, and I can’t dredge up anyone but Law Dork. And even he may have turned 30 when I wasn’t looking. Let alone that most of my friends are over 30, in America as well as here. By all means, rail against promiscuity and the attendant physical and psychological costs. But don’t insult people’s intelligence to score cheap points.

    Of course, Stark sounds like a PFLAG chapter chairman compared to this miscreant:

    Ronnie Paris Jr. went on trial for his own life this week in a Tampa courtroom. The toddler’s mother, Nysheerah Paris, testified that her husband thought the boy might be gay and would force him to box.

    Nysheerah Paris told the court that Paris would make the boy fight with him, slapping the child in the head until he cried or wet himself. She said that on one occasion Paris slammed the child against a wall because he was vomiting.

    The court was told there had been a history of abuse by Paris. Prosecutor Jalal Harb said that in 2002, the Florida Department of Children & Families placed the child in protective custody after he had been admitted to the hospital several times for vomiting.

    He was returned to his parents Dec. 14. A month later he went into a coma and was rushed to hospital. Six days later he was removed from life support and died. An autopsy showed there was swelling on both sides of his brain.

    Who knows whether the child had a predisposition toward homosexuality or was already gay? Gay, straight, or whatever, he won’t have a chance to blossom into it, thanks to Dad.

    Added later: Mike at Ex-Gay Watch has commented. He notes a few interesting things. One is that CBN’s report cagily excises part of Zach’s blog entry. The other is that, of course, this is not about “see[ing] to it that he has all options available to him” (Zach’s father’s words). A program that attempts to erase your existing expressions of self and replace them with different ones is shoving you down one path, not showing you options. As Mike says on a different topic, I wonder whether he’s mouthing phrases he was told by Love in Action people to use or he just can’t bring himself to articulate, in direct terms, what he’s actually signed his own son up for.

    Post haste

    Posted by Sean at 00:46, July 15th, 2005

    For anyone who’s wondering, of course I noticed that Prime Minister Koizumi has done a 180 on the revisions to the Japan Post reform bill. The line now is: “Revisions? I love revisions. Why, some of my best friends are revisions!”

    I like Koizumi’s support for the WOT, which I think demonstrates real vision and a keen sense of what civilization is up against. I also understand that putting reforms through in Japan is very tough. Even with the voters behind Koizumi’s overall housecleaning program, he’s had to deal with the multitudes of well-connected federal bureaucrats who know exactly how to press elected officials and party leaders to maintain their power.

    But that doesn’t mean that Koizumi has been handling things well. Japan Post reform is a hopelessly unsexy topic, and Koizumi has lost chance after chance to explain to the citizenry, in basic and lucid terms, why privatizing it is so important. (¥¥¥!) And it’s really bad in strategic terms to set a pattern of coming on all tough and implacable and then blinking at a critical moment (cf. the selling down the river of Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka a few years ago) or going mealymouthed when the world is watching (cf. his non-explanation of why he continues to visit the Yasukuni Shrine).

    The result is not surprising: there’s a real chance that the opposition has made enough headway to keep the bill from passing in the House of Councillors:

    Yomiuri Shimbun interviews with all 114 LDP upper house members revealed that opposition is mounting in reaction to Koizumi’s high-handed manner in deliberation as much as on the substance of the bills.

    “I’m upset about the fact that Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe and others in the leadership aren’t even trying to tame the prime minister so that he won’t use the threat,” said an upper house member who wished to be identified only as a former cabinet minister. The former minister was referring to Koizumi’s threat to dissolve the lower house if the bills are killed.

    Even a member of the Mori faction, most of whose members are backing the postal bills, said he was not happy about Koizumi’s style.

    “He’s only inviting more opposition. In the upper house deliberation he must adopt an extremely humble manner in answering questions and all that. Otherwise we can’t improve the rough atmosphere,” the member said of Koizumi.

    Koizumi is still saying that people shouldn’t fixate on his threat to dissolve the House or Representatives because, naturally, the bill will pass. Ten upper house members attended the strategy session for LDP opponents of the bill last night, however. All it will take is 18 LDP votes against for the bill to fail, and there are more than 8 Councillors still on the fence. We’ll see.

    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.

    Guarding against logic

    Posted by Sean at 01:40, July 14th, 2005

    Ghost of a Flea is driving himself crazy trying to get The Guardian‘s coverage of the London bombings to make some kind of sense. Looks like he’s doomed to failure, but he has lots of links, and his own comments are good as always.

    What was I just saying about ethnic superiority?

    Posted by Sean at 09:55, July 13th, 2005

    Master diplomat Shintaro Ishihara, Governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan District, has spread more of his trademark brotherhood among men. I still think that suing in response is silly:

    Twenty-one people including the head of a French Language school in Tokyo have filed a damages lawsuit against Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara over his comment that “French fails as an international language.”

    The group of plaintiffs, which also includes French language researchers, is demanding that Ishihara publish newspaper advertisements apologizing for the remark and pay compensation of 10 million yen.

    “I have a feeling it is aptly said that French fails as an international language because it is a language that can’t count numbers,” he said.

    The governor apparently made the comment on the basis that French counts “80” as “four twenties.” The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, objects to his remark.

    “French can count numbers and it is used as an official language in international organizations and many countries,” the lawsuit says. “(The governor’s) false comments stain the reputation of people who are researching French and speaking it as their native language, and they obstruct the business of language schools by diminishing the desire of learners of the language.

    Now, as anyone who speaks Japanese knows, if there is anything AT ALL that no Japanese speaker should be getting all smug about, it’s counting. I love the Japanese language to death, but please! It has native Japanese numbers, imported Chinese numbers, and about five zillion different counters for different kinds of things. The math scores of Japanese citizens? Rational reason for national pride. The numerical facility of the Japanese language? No. I hardly think Ishihara’s remarks affected language school enrollment, but…just, no.

    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.)

    Of course, I’ll call you

    Posted by Sean at 23:04, July 12th, 2005

    Via Ace via Michael, yet another baffled soul whose reasoning goes something like, “Homosexuality must be a choice; after all, the guys who were hitting on me in college thought so.” Ace takes care of things ably and politely, but let me just add for those who’ve managed not to figure this out: We males are goal-oriented. A horny guy who’s hitting on you will say anything if he thinks it will get you into bed. ANYTHING. “You’re gay and just haven’t figured it out yet (ergo, you should sleep with me).” “I want you, I need you, I love you (ergo, you should sleep with me).” “Fascinating! We’re both at the same bar drinking the same brand of beer (ergo, you should sleep with me).” “The moon is made of green cheese (ergo, you should sleep with me).” The idea that the line some aroused guy feeds you in order to get into your pants can be taken as his sincere, fully-worked-out belief about the nature of his own sexuality is a very naive one.

    Added later: Okay, so I thought better of the wording above and changed it. The writer of the original article probably isn’t a garden-variety dum-dum; there are a lot of otherwise smart people who think that logic isn’t really necessary when arguing against homosexuality.

    Subway trouble

    Posted by Sean at 22:25, July 12th, 2005

    This was great timing:

    About 1,000 people were stranded on a subway train for about 40 minutes late Monday night after it came to a standstill because its brakes developed trouble, its operator said Tuesday.

    At around 11:55 p.m., a 10-car train came to a halt between Kitasenju and Ayase stations on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line after its emergency brakes activated, company officials said.

    One of the stranded passengers said the lights on the train went out after it came to a halt, and that the conductor failed to explain what had happened to the train for 30 minutes after it stopped.

    “It reminded me of terrorist attacks on the underground trains in London. Tokyo Metro should have explained what happened much earlier,” said the passenger, 44-year-old Akira Hirai.

    If it was a train running at 11:55 p.m., we all know what that means, don’t we? It means the average passenger BAL was a good, oh, 0.07-ish. Also, while the nights have been cool over the last week, I’m guessing that it was not exactly refreshingly breezy in train cars with no air conditioning. At least they’d emerged from the tunnel before the train stopped. Kitasenju is pretty far out in eastern Tokyo, so the chances that it was a terrorist attack would probably have seemed minimal to most passengers. Still, pretty trying.

    Rice comes to Japan

    Posted by Sean at 22:14, July 12th, 2005

    Secretary of State Rice was here yesterday to talk with Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Machimura. (Japanese version)

    “I recognize the importance of continuing to implement anti-terrorist measures,” Koizumi told Rice at their meeting in Tokyo.

    The prime minister, however, made no mention of what his government plans to do later this year on the status of the Self-Defense Forces dispatched to Iraq. The basic plan for the SDF dispatch expires on Dec. 14.

    Japan and the United States agreed they would seek “concrete progress” from Pyongyang toward abolishing its nuclear weapons development program during the six-way talks.

    At a joint news conference held after their meeting, Machimura and Rice said their two countries confirmed agreement on three points concerning the six-way talks expected to start on July 27:

    *Concrete progress is needed in the discussions;

    *Japan and the United States want North Korea to deal with the issues seriously and constructively; and

    *Coordination between Japan, the United States and South Korea is crucial.

    Japan and the United States will hold a trilateral meeting on Thursday in Seoul with South Korea to synchronize their stances for the six-party talks in Beijing, the first since June last year.

    The diplomat-speak in that passage is, BTW, just as exquisitely devoid of content in the Japanese as in the English (though at least the Japanese reporter knew not to use the word synchronize).

    Everything else was basically a reaffirmation of diplomatic ties: the US supports Japan in its pressure on the DPRK to resolve the abductee issue, supports Japan in its push to become a permanent United Nations Security Council member (just not yet), and wants the beef import ban lifted.

    Talk talk

    Posted by Sean at 22:14, July 11th, 2005

    Oh, yeah. I guess I’m sort of duty-bound to to mention that the DPRK has announced that it will return to the 6-party nuclear kaffee klatsch. Whatever. Reuters quotes an AEI expert…

    But officials traveling with Rice in Asia said they have seen no concrete sign the communist state would surrender its nuclear capability — which U.S. intelligence estimates at more than eight weapons. Many experts doubt this will happen.

    “I don’t believe that talks will convince the North Koreans to abandon their program,” former Pentagon official Daniel Bluemthal, from the pro-Bush American Enterprise Institute, told Reuters by telephone from Washington, D.C.

    “Pyongyang’s nuclear aspirations go to the core of the regime’s raison d’etre — ensuring its own survival and forcefully unifying the peninsula under its control,” the Asia expert wrote in an analysis on the AEI Web site.

    …but you don’t have to believe that the contemporary DPRK is still motivated by the goals of the Kim Il-sung era in order to doubt that Kim Jong-il’s regime is unlikely to disarm. By this point, sheer hubris strikes me as motivation enough. North Korea is aware that its inability to feed its people is so well-known worldwide that it’s not even news anymore. The occasional puff piece hardly compensates. And the PRC, which has a growing economy and cannot afford to be as openly combative toward companies with large consumer markets such as the US and Japan, is less and less inclined to stand firm behind the DPRK when it gets adversarial.

    Even so, it remains a North Korean backer, which makes me wonder about this:

    A hardline Bush administration faction, including Vice President Dick Cheney, has been viewed as opposed to talks with Pyongyang and eager to shape U.S. policy to encourage the regime’s collapse.

    While we’re making all nicey-nicey with China? While economists in the ROK look at the potential problems with reunification and reach for their nitro-glycerine pills? (South Korea has just announced that it will send more rice as aid to the North, BTW.) We all want the DPRK regime to collapse, but I can’t imagine how the Cheney faction imagines we could seriously, openly pursue that as a policy goal.

    The talks do serve a purpose, though: they give the DPRK attention and make it feel like a world power. (Rice recognizes that that’s important–a few months ago she was chuckling that the DPRK was indignant because some press release of its hadn’t caused a general spaz.) However galling it may be, keeping North Korea from feeling like a cornered rat is a worthy goal.