Tag Archives: Oppression

Pink triangle proposition won’t become law in California, but it’s the thought that counts

History repeats itself. Above are shown victims of fascist Nazi Germany’s persecution of accused gay men, tens of thousands of whom were required to wear an inverted pink triangle marking them as non-heterosexual. A theofascist California lawyer has submitted to the state’s attorney general’s office a ballot proposition to “put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method” “any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification.”

An Orange County, California, lawyer has paid the $200 filing fee to start the process for his “Sodomite Suppression Act,” which would, at its most merciful, prevent any non-heterosexual from being a public school teacher, a police officer, an elected public official or any other public employee, and which would, at worst, “put [non-heterosexuals] to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

My reading of the fairly short “act” gives me the impression that the sentiment is not entirely unlike the Catholick Church’s or the Mormon cult’s: Merely having same-sex attraction is bad, but actually acting upon it is the worst, because the fuller phrasing of the “act” is: “the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

In a shout-out to Vladimir Putin, the “act” also mandates that:

No person shall distribute, perform, or transmit sodomistic propaganda directly or indirectly by any means to any person under the age of majority. Sodomistic propaganda is defined as anything aimed at creating an interest in or an acceptance of human sexual relations other than between a man and a woman. Every offender shall be fined $1 million per occurrence, and/or imprisoned up to 10 years, and/or expelled from the boundaries of the state of California for up to life.

Although this modest proposal first emerged weeks ago, this past week it has hit the media as “news.”

The legal consensus is that California Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose office is the first stop for any ballot initiative in the state, does not have the legal authority to shut down the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” even though it patently violates the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution. The legal consensus also is that the office of the California secretary of state, the second and final stop for a state ballot initiative, does not have the legal authority to stop the “Sodomite Suppression Act.”

Of course, the right-wing lawyer who has proposed the “act,” a Matt McLaughlin, has cleared the easiest, lowest bar in the California ballot initiative process: he paid his $200 to the state’s attorney general’s office to obtain his ballot title and ballot summary, which he first must obtain from the attorney general’s office before he may begin to collect the 365,880 valid signatures of registered voters in order to qualify his ballot initiative for its placement on the November 2016 statewide ballot.

Collecting that many signatures would require some resources; McLaughlin would have to print his own petitions in a strict format dictated by state law and would have to get the bodies to go out and gather all of those signatures, be they paid or be they volunteers or some mixture of both.

Vox.com posits that the “[California state] Supreme Court is likely to step in and stop the [ballot] measure, particularly if the proposal gets enough signatures to qualify for the ballot,” but doesn’t cite its source of this assertion.

Oddly, though, neither Vox.com nor Slate.com, in their explainers on the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” notes that even though the majority of California’s voters might adopt a ballot initiative (for which only a simple majority is required), a federal court always can rule that the ballot initiative violates the U.S. Constitution (and, to my knowledge, the state’s Supreme Court can rule that a ballot initiative violates the state’s Constitution).

There is precedent for this: The hateful, anti-immigrant California Proposition 187, passed by the state’s voters by a disturbing 59 percent to 41 percent in November 1994, was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in 1997 (indeed, most of the law never even went into effect, because the same federal judge had imposed a permanent injunction on most portions of the law in December 1994).

And in November 2008, California’s voters narrowly passed (52 percent to 48 percent) the hateful, anti-non-heterosexual Proposition 8, which then was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2010. (The federal judge’s ruling was challenged legally but ultimately was left intact by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013, and same-sex marriages in California have been legal since then.)

The California Supreme Court declined to prevent the unconstitutional Proposition H8 from appearing on the ballot, so it would be interesting to see what the court would do if it were asked to prevent the “Sodomite Suppression Act” from appearing on the ballot. Indeed, while Prop H8 “only” sought to outlaw same-sex marriages, the “Sodomite Suppression Act” calls for the Nazi-style wholesale slaughter of non-heterosexuals who ever have acted upon their same-sex attraction.

But, Wikipedia notes, citing a 2006 California Supreme Court case, “As a general rule, it is improper for courts to adjudicate pre-election challenges to a measure’s substantive validity.” In other words, the state Supreme Court apparently believes that voters get to weigh in on a ballot measure first, and the constitutionality of the measure, if it is passed, is to be hashed out in the courts only after the measure’s passage.

Thank Goddess for the federal court system and its ability (indeed, its duty) to weigh in on whether laws passed by the states’ legislatures or by the states’ voters violate the U.S. Constitution, as history has shown that even the states’ highest courts are fairly toothless, by choice or by design (to my knowledge, the states’ highest courts have jurisdiction only over their states’ constitutions, and state judges don’t have the legal authority to determine whether a state law violates the U.S. Constitution*).

True, it took years for the odious and unconstitutional California Prop H8 finally to be undone by the federal court system (that said, while today same-sex marriage is legal in California and in 35 other states, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage once and for all), but, even if the “Sodomite Suppression Act” were to make it to the November 2016 California ballot (unlikely, given the amount of money that is required to get anything on the statewide ballot in the nation’s most populous state) and pass (which is highly unlikely in this blue state), a federal court (if not also the California Supreme Court) immediately would halt its implementation, of course. Not a single bullet would be fired into the head of an accused non-heterosexual (not by the state government of California, anyway).

But, you know, it’s certainly the thought that counts, isn’t it?

Apparently wingnutty lawyer Matt McLaughlin is unlikely to be disbarred by the state for his ballot proposition. While proposing a law that blatantly violates the U.S. Constitution by proposing the wholesale murder of an entire class of human beings amply demonstrates McLaughlin’s blatant moral turpitude (if not also his blatant incompetence) as a lawyer, whose duty is to uphold the state and federal constitutions, not propose to violate them, McLaughlin should, in my book, be disbarred, but apparently he will be able to hide behind his First-Amendment “right” to propose, Nazi-style, that a whole class of people be executed.

Still, if you believe, like I do, that McLaughlin should be disbarred, you can sign, as I have, an online petition calling for his disbarment by clicking here.

Even if McLaughlin were just pulling an attention-grabbing stunt, his “Sodomite Suppression Act,” whether he means it seriously or not — to be safe, I assume that he is quite serious** — is hate speech, and lawyers who practice hate speech (which does not warrant First-Amendment protection, since it so obviously so easily can result in violence, even death, or other injury against its intended targets) should be disbarred.

I might thank McLaughlin, however, for demonstrating quite publicly that his Nazi-like mentality, although a minority mentality, still exists. And shudderingly, I surmise that while many if not most homophobes wouldn’t go so far as to execute an accused non-heterosexual individual with their own hands, the worst of the homophobes, if such execution were routine even here in the United States of America, wouldn’t much care and would do little to nothing to stop it.

*Alabama state Supreme Court Chief “Justice” Roy Moore, for instance, has claimed, quite incorrectly, that he has the legal authority and ability to override and ignore a federal judge’s ruling on the federal constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the state. Moore was removed from the post of Alabama Supreme Court chief “justice” in 2003 for having ignored another federal judge’s ruling on another federal constitution issue, but he was not disbarred, as he should have been, and thus he legally was allowed to run for the post again, which, insanely, is filled by popular election in the backasswards state of Alabama.

**Not much is known of McLaughlin, but the San Francisco Chronicle notes that “McLaughlin, a lawyer since 1998, tried to qualify an initiative in 2004 that would have added the King James Bible as a literature textbook in California public schools. He was quoted at the time as saying he was promoting classroom use of the Bible for its ‘rich use of the English language’ and was not trying to indoctrinate students.”

So McLaughlin apparently has a history of toxic, theofascist fundamentalism and apparently wishes for a theocratic state, much like the members of ISIS, whose mentality is the same but whose bible is different.

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Jonathan Chait got it mostly right on the toxic identity politics of today

Jonathan Chait's epic race fail: How a story about racism and Obama goes horribly wrong

Left-of-center writer Jonathan Chait has committed the sin of telling the truth about our self-appointed political-correctness police, those who use their membership within an historically victimized and oppressed group to victimize and oppress others (men, mostly, and mostly white men, but sometimes white women as well). It indeed in so many quarters is open season on all white males, who are deemed automatically to be oppressors and victimizers because of their immutable characteristics of being male and being white. (As a gay white male, my non-heterosexuality gives me only so much cover for being a member of a class of victims, as homophobes widely consider homosexuality to be mutable. [Of course, it doesn’t fucking matter whether it’s mutable or not; we all should have the freedom to express ourselves sexually as we please, as long as we do so consensually.])

New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait started a shitstorm when he wrote about toxic PC (political correctness) police. Had he been completely wrong, he probably would have been ignored, but since he spoke so much unflattering truth, I’m one of only a handful of Internet commentators who have yet to comment on his comments.

First off, it’s necessary to describe the environment in which all of us Americans operate: to such a large degree stupid white men (emphasis there on “stupid”) still rule, as evidenced by the popularity of “American Sniper.” Not only is the Clint Eastwood film still No. 1, despite Eastwood’s penchant for talking to a vacant chair (actually, for “American Sniper’s” target audience, I’m sure that was in Eastwood’s favor), but the book American Sniper is No. 1 on amazon.com, and in amazon.com’s top-100-selling book titles there are no fewer than four different versions of the same fucking book (as I type this sentence) — plus an apparent knock-off book about yet another American sniper called The Reaper.

So mindless, blind worship of stupid, murderous (or at least violent or at least aggressive) white men widely misconstrued as “heroes” continues. (This could be its own blog piece, and indeed, was going to be, but I’ll get it over with here: “American sniper” Chris Kyle, who died by the sword as he lived by the sword, was no “hero.” He was part of an illegal and immoral occupying force in Iraq. As part of that illegal and immoral occupying force, he slaughtered a bunch of people who were, at least in their own eyes, defending their nation from a foreign occupying force [duh]. As Iraq had posed zero threat to the United States, as Iraq had not killed any Americans and had had no capability of killing Americans en masse [yeah, those Iraqi “WMDs” claimed by the war criminals who comprised the illegitimate Bush regime have yet to be found], there is no valid argument that Kyle was “protecting our freedoms” or some other jingoistic, Nazi-like bullshit. Kyle very apparently just really, really liked to slaughter people, and if he were Muslim instead of “Christian” and weren’t taking the big dirt nap, he probably would be a member of ISIS right now, slaughtering people left and right with gleeful abandon.)

So that is the nasty backdrop (part of it, anyway) against which those of us who aren’t stupid white men (again, emphasis on “stupid,” not on “white” or on “men”) or one of their worshipers must live in the United States of America.

That is the kind of background and context that Jonathan Chait’s piece is largely if not wholly missing, and I fault him for that fairly glaring omission, as well as for apparently not having allowed his piece to gestate long enough before birthing it upon the nation. (I often if not usually let something gestate for at least a few days before I finally give birth to it, such as this piece.) Further, the gravity of the topic — political correctness (which falls under the umbrella of identity politics) — could merit its own book, so no magazine article or blog piece (not even this one) could do it more than partial justice.

But Chait describes fairly well the phenomenon in which so many members of historically oppressed groups identify so much with being oppressed (whether these members as individuals actually have been very oppressed as individuals themselves or not) that they are hyper-vigilant about any signs of oppression.

Seriously — it used to be that people were just oppressed. And oppression was a bad thing. You didn’t want to be oppressed.

Now, being a member of an historically oppressed group is très chic. And apparently maintaining your membership in your très-chic group of oppressed people means constantly finding fresh meat, fresh new examples of how you have been oppressed, so if there aren’t any actual examples of how you have been oppressed, you’ll wildly exaggerate or even fabricate such “examples.”

Since you haven’t been (very) oppressed yourself lately, you’ll gladly piggy-back on to others’ (real or exaggerated or fabricated) oppression. That’s always fun.

If you didn’t jump on the Michael Brown bandwagon, for instance, to many that means that you are a white supremacist who supports the gunning down of black men, especially young black men, by white fascist cops who enjoy killing black men.

Never mind that it still remains quite unsettled as to whether or not Michael Brown actually went for the cop’s gun before the cop shot him dead. The cop claims that Brown did, and not only was the cop not indicted by a grand jury (which, indeed, might have been a bogus process), but the U.S. Department of Justice also declined to bring charges against the cop for civil-rights violations (granted, proving a civil-rights violation can be a high bar to clear, I know from personal experience).

It’s disturbing that so many people jumped to conclusions and have held fast to them. If your identity politics is that of the oppressed black American, then of course Michael Brown was innocent, a “gentle giant,” and was gunned down by whitey primarily if not solely for his race, and if your identity politics is that of the right-wing white person whose worldview at least verges on white supremacy if it isn’t already fully there, then of course Brown was a thug (and the phrase “black thug” would be redundant) and of course the white police officer only did what he had to do.

Either Brown went after the cop’s gun or he did not. (If I went after a cop’s gun, I’d expect to get shot.) The cop, under our existing (deeply flawed) legal structure, used deadly force against Brown legally or he did not. But whatever actually happened on that August day in Ferguson, Missouri, has little to nothing to do with identity politics, yet for many if not most Americans, their identity politics dictates the “facts.” That’s scary.

(The Eric Garner case, as I have written, at the bare minimum was a clear-cut case of manslaughter by the thuggish white cop, and, entirely unlike the Brown case, we have video of Garner incident, so “I can’t breathe” is an apt slogan of protest, whereas I never was on board with the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” meme because there is no evidence that Brown ever put his hands up in surrender — there are only biased claims that he did.)

The case of Woody Allen, too, also wasn’t about the actual knowledge of actual facts but was about identity politics.

Women whom Rush Limbaugh might call “femi-Nazis” have asserted that of course Mia Farrow, being a woman, told the truth that Allen had molested their adopted daughter, even though the allegation came during a nasty custody battle — and that of course Allen, being a man, was guilty as charged. Never mind that none of us was there and has any actual knowledge of what did or what did not happen; we have only the claims and counter-claims of the members of a deeply broken family whose dirty laundry has been scattered all over the public square.

This is some highly toxic shit.

The case of Bill Cosby, though, and that of Arnold “Baby Daddy” Schwarzenegger when he was running for California governor in a bullshit recall election in 2003 that had amounted to a do-over election since the bumbling Repugnican candidate had lost the election in 2002: When several women have come forward publicly to state that a man has sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them, to call all of them liars (as so many did to the at-least six women who came forward about the past deeds of the future Gov. Groper) very most often is a misogynist, patriarchal thing to do.

I have little to no doubt in my mind that Bill Cosby (and Baby Daddy Schwarzenegger) serially sexually harassed and sexually assaulted women.

But actual victimization is diminished when victimization is falsely claimed or is claimed whether or not there is any evidence to support the claim of victimization — usually out of identity politics. Perversely, many if not even most members of an historically oppressed group very apparently want the latest example of possible victimization (such as the shooting death of Michael Brown) to be true victimization because, in their eyes, it strengthens their political power as claimants of oppression.

It’s perverse that oppression has morphed from something that no one wanted into something that so many cherish to the point that they’ll happily fabricate it if they deem that to do so will advance themselves somehow.

(In his piece, Chait correctly notes that “It [identity politics and its concomitant claims of perpetual and ubiquitous victimhood] also makes money. Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity.” Indeed, both Slate.com and Salon.com, two of my favorite websites, have resident identity-politics writers, taking the feminist and the black angles, mostly, and I routinely read these writers’ pieces, and often if not usually I agree with them [Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie rocks], but sometimes, yeah, it’s apparent that they’re really milking it. [Sorry, Salon.com’s Brittney Cooper, but in his article Chait calls you out on your frequent hysteria and hyperbole fairly fairly.])

This professional “victimhood,” is, I suspect, what has eaten at Chait, but that he perhaps did not articulate well enough in his now-infamous article.

And of his article, this paragraph, I think, is the money shot:

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible.

The emphasis there is mine. In the most rabid “p.c. culture,” indeed, “There is no allowance … for the possibility that the accusation [of an act of oppression or victimization] may be erroneous.” Within this toxic, tightly closed-off atmosphere, facts and evidence have no place at all; the politics of group identity rules supreme. Woody Allen molested his adopted daughter. Period. If you disagree with this, then you hate women and/or you are a pedophile yourself. Michael Brown was a “gentle giant” (never mind the very inconvenient video footage of him roughing up a convenience store clerk while he stole cigarillos from him on the day of his death) who was gunned down in cold blood by a white supremacist police officer. Period. If you disagree with this, then you are a white supremacist.

And indeed, as Chait writes, “A white person or a man can achieve the status of ‘ally,’ however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue.” Yup. That means going along with all manner of blatantly bullshit groupthink in order to get along, lest you be called a misogynist or racist/white supremacist or worse.

The goal of “p.c. culture” as it stands today indeed so often seems to be to push all white men into a corner, indeed, to destroy all white men or, minimally, to make all white men feel perpetually guilty (and thus perpetually disempowered) because, of course, merely by their having been born white and male, they inherently are the evil victimizers and oppressors of others (of women and of black people, mostly, but of other groups, too, of course). It’s not their individual deeds that make white males automatically-guilty victimizers and oppressors, but their mere membership within the group of white males, you see.

This is the sorry state of affairs even though the origin of “p.c. culture” was the fact that white men were pushing too many others into a corner due to those others’ immutable differences from white men, and pushing others into a corner based upon their immutable differences from oneself is a bad thing to do.

To such a large degree, the victims (well, in so many cases, the “victims”) have become the victimizers, and today the victims don’t even have to be actual victims to call themselves victims, and their actual victimization of others isn’t victimization because they are victims, and a victim cannot also be a victimizer, you see.

Get it? These are the new rules.

These new rules have got to go.

Jonathan Chait got it (mostly) right, which is why we’ve seen the reaction to him that we’ve seen.

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Oh, no, you DIDN’T go there, Miss Thang!

University of Mississippi student Sierra Mannie, photographed above in 2013, makes many valid points in her now-famous screed against gay white men acting like black women (an epidemic of which I’ve been unaware), but apparently picks an easy target in gay white men and apparently displays disrespect for the life experiences of others while demanding respect for her own, a common mistake that too many black Americans make.

I am a gay white man. I, for one gay white man, do not feel like a black woman. Just putting that out there first thing.

I am responding, of course, to the now-(in)famous screed “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture,” by one Sierra Mannie, which gained national attention when Time.com published it.

I agree with much of what Mannie says in her commentary, but much of what she says I find offensive — as well as (at least unconsciously) homophobic and apparently desirous of many black Americans’ apparent desire to remain The Only Oppressed Minority Group in the United States of America, Who Will Not Share Even a Sliver of the Victimhood Pie.

I agree, of course, that the vast majority of white Americans, regardless of their socioeconomic status, never can truly have any real idea of what it is like to be a typical black American, and therefore, out of respect for the life experiences of another group of people, it’s probably almost never OK for a white person to act black.

That said, for a white person to assert that it’s not OK for a black person to act white, but that that black person should “act black” (however “acting black” [or “acting white”] is defined) — that’s pretty fucking racist, right? So why does a prohibition against racism work only one way?

I disagree wholeheartedly with the widely held belief that racism is something that is only ever perpetrated by whites against blacks, and that therefore, only white people can be racist. There are plenty of racist blacks, and there are other races outside of black and white (yes, I do need to remind people of that simple fact) — here in California politics, for instance, lately it (the struggle for power, which is what politics is) seems to be the Latinos vs. the Asians — and it comes down to everyone of every race needing to respect everyone else of every other race. This isn’t only about blacks being protected from persecution at the hands of whites.

That said, again, insensitivity to the life experiences of those of other races (and of other demographics) is pretty inexcusable, and I have to agree for the most part with Mannie’s assertion to the gay white man that “you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.”

While I, for one, haven’t seen anything like even a mild epidemic of gay white men acting like black women, I will assume, for fairness’ sake, that Mannie has, and so, for those gay white men who truly act like black women — like, all the fucking time — I would also tell them, like Mannie does, to “cut it the hell out.” (That said, of course they have the right to act as they please. The right to act like an asshole is the right that most Americans probably exercise the most.)

That said, the United States is a cultural hodgepodge, where words and phrases and idioms and gestures are thrown into the mix to the point that often if not usually many if not most of those using them don’t even know their origin. You don’t get to fucking trademark (so to speak) words and phrases and idioms and gestures that end up in the American vernacular. If you think that you do, then you need to cut it the hell out.

I’m sure that many times I’ve used words, phrases and idioms (and maybe even a gesture or two) that originated within the black community. I’m an American who speaks American English and functions within the American culture, which, again, borrows from so many sources. I’m allowed to do that. Do I believe that I’m a black woman, or even that I truly can know what the typical black woman experiences in the United States of America? Of course not.

Many if not most of Mannie’s complaints about the general oppression of black Americans are valid enough, but why (at least in this one piece of hers) does she chose gay white men as the target of her anger?

Is it because we gay white men, as a group, aren’t as powerful as are straight white men, because we gay white men are a safer target, less likely to fight back? Is it because we gay white men are considered weak, effeminate, passive, submissive, so that we can be fucking punching bags for everyone?

Mannie conveniently does not mention in her screed the fact that there remains a shitload of homophobia among black Americans. To give just two of many possible examples, exit polls showed that about 70 percent of black Californians voted for the anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition H8, and many if not most black Americans didn’t start to ease up on their homophobia until Barack Obama came out (ha ha) for same-sex marriage in May 2012. It’s rather pathetic and sad that it was an external source — the pronouncement of the nation’s first black president — that inspired them to ease up on their homophobia (or to ease up on at least their public homophobic statements) instead of their own internal sense of right and wrong, their own internal sense that all oppression, and not just the oppression of blacks, is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’ve seen this uber-hypocritical dynamic too many times: black Americans demanding fairness and respect for their own group — but only for their own group. No, fuck that and fuck you, if that’s how you operate. If you can’t respect me, then I cannot respect you. (Or, at the very least, if you refuse to respect me, you make it very difficult for me to respect you, and I want to respect you.)

Again, Mannie’s anger seems grossly misplaced to me. She writes:

… Black people can’t have anything. Any of these things include, but aren’t limited to: a general sense of physical safety, comfort with law enforcement, adequate funding and appreciation for black spaces like schools and neighborhoods, appropriate venues for our voices to be heard about criticism of issues without our race going on trial because of it, and solid voting rights …

Agreed, for the very most part, but it’s gay white men who are the main oppressors of black Americans? Really?

I am one gay white man who has no interest in pretending to be a black diva (whether there is anything wrong with that or not) and who supports fairness and justice for all black Americans (for all Americans and for all human beings). It is inarguable that, among other things, black Americans are incarcerated at an incredibly disproportionate rate (because of racism, of course), that many if not most of them are wage slaves (as are many if not most of all Americans), that black Americans routinely are mistreated (even sometimes extra-judicially executed) by racist law enforcement officers, that black Americans do not have adequate access to quality health care and to quality education, and that conservatives (most of them white) want to strip black Americans of their vote under the guise of “preventing voter fraud” and/or “preserving election integrity.”

I want to help black Americans fight these evils and right these wrongs, but black homophobia — as well as black racism — make it difficult for me to do that. I’m to assist your group while you attack and degrade mine? Really?

And, ironically, pseudo-progressive, DINO Barack Obama has done little to nothing for black Americans, whose quality of life has improved little to not at all under his watch, yet for the most part, mind-blowingly, black Americans don’t hold Obama to account for this — apparently primarily because he’s black and they don’t want to criticize one of their own. (And to many if not most of these same blacks, if you are a white person who criticizes Obama at all, even for his inexcusable lack of assistance to black Americans, you are, by definition, a “racist.”)

So Obama is let off the hook, but let’s blame the gay white man!

Mannie continues in her screed:

… And then, when you thought this pillaging couldn’t get any worse, extracurricular black activities get snatched up, too: our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles. All of these things are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption. But here’s the shade — the non-black people who get to enjoy all of the fun things about blackness will never have to experience the ugliness of the black experience, systemic racism and the dangers of simply living while black. Though I suppose there’s some thrill in this “rolling with the homies” philosophy some adopt, white people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America.

White people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America. …

Again, the American culture is a patchwork quilt, so to read Mannie whine that “our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles … are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption,” sounds like selfish and juvenile territorialism that is woefully unaware of American history and culture (where, just like with the Borg, so much is assimilated), and for the record, non-blacks experience plenty of pain and suffering. Blacks don’t have the monopoly on the pain and suffering thing. All human beings experience pain and suffering.

And while white people as a group are not systemically/institutionally racially oppressed in the U.S.A., you cannot have interpersonal relations with a whole fucking race of people. It’s the one-on-one interpersonal interaction where the rubber meets the road, and on the one-on-one level, yes, white people can be the victims of racism. If you are a non-white person who hates white people and treats white people out of this hatred — for no other reason than that they are white — then you are committing acts of racism. You are a racist yourself, but, by being a member of a historically oppressed racial minority group, you feel justified in your own racism, and no doubt you hypocritically define racism as only something that white people ever commit.

It all is about respect, which includes respect for others’ experiences. I agree with Mannie’s assertion that

… The truth is that America is a country that operates on systems of racism in which we all participate, whether consciously or unconsciously, to our benefit or to our detriment, and that system allows white people to succeed. This system also creates barriers so that minorities, such as black people, have a much harder time being able to do things like vote and get houses and not have to deal with racists and stuff. You know. Casual.

But while you’re gasping at the heat and the steam of the strong truth tea I just spilled,what’s even worse about all of this, if you thought things could get even crappier, is the fact that all of this is exponentially worse for black women. A culture of racism is bad enough, but pairing it with patriarchal structures that intend to undermine women’s advancement is like double-fisting bleach and acid rain. …

Actually, it gets even worse than that. Black lesbians, for instance, have to deal with racism, sexism and patriarchy and homophobia (for which, I must admit, I respect and admire them considerably), but mention of black non-heterosexuals and black non-gender-conforming individuals, who routinely are victimized by even members of their own family (and who thus have much higher levels of such problems as suicide attempts, addiction, incarceration and contraction of HIV and other STDs), is conspicuously missing entirely from Mannie’s screed, which adds to its air of rather petty self-concern and homophobia.

And the notion that virtually all white people have it so great based upon their whiteness smacks of a lack of personal knowledge of very many actual white people. Mannie writes:

… At the end of the day, if you are a white male, gay or not, you retain so much privilege. What is extremely unfairly denied you because of your sexuality could float back to you, if no one knew that you preferred the romantic and sexual company of men over women. (You know what I’m talking about. Those “anonymous” torsos on Grindr, Jack’d and Adam4Adam, show very familiar heterosexual faces to the public.) The difference is that the black women with whom you think you align so well, whose language you use and stereotypical mannerisms you adopt, cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality. We have no place to hide, or means to do it even if we desired them. …

Very thinly veiled behind the “argument” that non-heterosexuals aren’t victims of oppression because we non-heterosexuals, if we wish, can pass for heterosexual — which is not actually the case for many if not most of us non-heterosexuals — is the sickeningly heterosexist, homophobic belief that, for the comfort of heterosexuals, we non-heterosexuals should act heterosexually, whether to do that is at all natural for us and whether or not it violates our own fucking souls. Because pretending to be who and what you are not isn’t oppressive or anything!

I certainly hope that the vast majority of blacks don’t wish that they could camouflage themselves as whites in order to go along to get along, but instead appreciate and celebrate who and what they are, so for blacks to apparently suggest camouflage to us non-heterosexuals is incredibly degrading and offensive as well as insensitive.

I agree that such an ugly thing as white privilege exists in the United States of America and elsewhere on the planet, but again, it all comes down to our one-on-one interactions, since we can only actually interact as individuals with other individuals. Respect has to occur at this ground level of the individual. Stereotypes and generalizations and preconceived notions have no place in respectful interpersonal relations. You can never encounter a whole fucking group of people. You can only encounter an individual. I cannot state this simple but woefully overlooked fact too much. You don’t want me to make assumptions about you based upon your race or your gender or sexual orientation or other demographics. I don’t want you to make such assumptions about me, either – such as that because I’m a gay white man, I have no real problems, that I’m rich (because I’m white and/or because I have no children), that I’m a slut (because I’m gay), that of course I’m racist (because I’m white), that I will be your fucking punching bag because I’m passive and weak (because I’m a gay man), etc.

So, I would cut a deal with Mannie and those who think like she does: I will continue to try to do my part to examine and solve the problem that is racism (including, of course, the problem of white privilege). Ditto for the problem that is sexism and patriarchy. This is the duty of every American (and of every human being). And you do your part to examine and solve the problem that is heterosexism and homophobia, and the problem that is selfishly, hypocritically and narrow-mindedly demanding respect and equality for only your own group.

Because I guaranfuckingtee you that while the minority of gay white men who might, at least at times, act like black women grate on your nerves, we gay white men, for the very most part, are not your enemy, and I further guaranfuckingtee you that the true oppressors (or, at least, the worst oppressors) love it when we, the historically oppressed, are at each others’ throats instead of at theirs, where we should be.

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New pope, same as the last pope (take two)

The new pope still will have none of this, but at least he would let them keep their heads. Yay!

Yes, it could be much worse, I suppose.

At least the new pope isn’t calling for the beheading of gay men, like the 89-year-old dictator of Zimbabwe is. (Robert Mugabe might believe in equal opportunity and believe that lesbians should be beheaded, too, but his rhetoric apparently is aimed primarily or solely at gay men. [“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads,” Mugabe bizarrely proclaimed recently.])

But despite the news today — I guess that it was a slow news day — that the pope has done some 180 on the matter of homosexuality, know that Pope Francis apparently still upholds the Catholick Church’s doctrine that “under no circumstances can [any homosexual acts] be approved. … Homosexual persons are called to chastity.”

“Asked for his position on gay marriage,” Time reports, “[Francis] answered: ‘You know perfectly the position of the Church.’”

This is supposed to be a kinder, gentler pope, yet there has been no policy change on homosexuality. None. Nada, zip, zilch, zero.

“It’s Not What the Pope Said About Gays, It’s How He Said It,” the headline for the Time news article is.

Really?

We must be nice to gays, Francis said. Yes, he did say that, more or less.

But how, exactly, can you uphold an oppressive set of policies* yet still be considered to be such a swell fucking guy?

What if heterosexuals were told that they weren’t to be mistreated for their unfortunate affliction of opposite-sex attraction, but that should they ever act on that opposite-sex attraction, even within the context of a marriage, that would be a sin?

What if heterosexuals were told that marriage only is the union of two men or two women?

What if Catholicks were told that sure, they can be Catholicks in their heads, but that for them to actually practice their belief system — go to confession, kneel, eat that wafer, whatever it is that they do at Mass, for instance — would be wrong, forbidden?

I don’t know… At least Robert Mugabe is pretty fucking direct about his feelings about homosexuality. Sure, he’s a pathetic, addled old dictator who just wants to steal another election on Wednesday, and is throwing some red meat to his fellow backasswards homo-haters, but at least in Zimbabwe, you, as a gay man (maybe you, too, as a lesbian) would know exactly where you stand.

But here is the Catholick Church saying, “Oh, you can be a fag or dyke — just never, ever do what fags and dykes feel compelled to do!”

That’s just backdoor hatred and bigotry and discrimination. The message from the Catholick Church is the same: If you aren’t heterosexual, you are defective. If you aren’t heterosexual, God doesn’t accept you. If you aren’t heterosexual, you can’t ever have sex, even within the context of marriage, because you can’t get married!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Fuck the Catholick Church. And fuck the pope, who is no nice guy (and who, for all we know, is a gay man himself…).

P.S. My first take on Pope Francis is here.

*Pope Francis also firmly opposes women being able to enter the priesthood or, apparently, the Catholick Church’s all-male hierarchy.

How can this woefully outdated patriarchal policy not give women and girls the clear idea that they are inferior to men and boys?

This is sick shit, not love.

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Magical Elves, sparkleponies and other assorted gay shit

Pro-gay ally NFL player Chris Kluwe’s colorfully titled book is due out next month. Kluwe earlier this month was dropped by the Minnesota Vikings but was picked up by the Oakland Raiders. I’m glad and proud to have him as a fellow Californian; Minnesota’s loss is California’s gain.

I usually comment on gay-rights issues in the news in a timely fashion, but I’ve been slacking as of late. So here I’ll try to catch up:

It was great to see basketball player Jason Collins, the first active player from one of the “Big Four” sports organizations (the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League ), come out late last month, even if there is at least a grain of truth to gay writer Bret Easton Ellis’ criticism that Collins’ treatment by the media “as some kind of baby panda who needed to be honored and praised and consoled and — yes — infantilized by his coming out on the cover of Sports Illustrated” also made Collins a “Gay Man as Magical Elf, who whenever he comes out appears before us as some kind of saintly E.T. whose sole purpose is to be put in the position of reminding us only about Tolerance and Our Own Prejudices and To Feel Good About Ourselves and to be a symbol instead of just being a gay dude.”

And I also was happy to hear the news that pro-gay ally NFL player Chris Kluwe, who was dropped by the Minnesota Vikings earlier this month (perhaps at least in part due to his vocal pro-gay-and-pro-gay-marriage stance), shortly thereafter was picked up by the Oakland Raiders.

If Minnesota didn’t appreciate Kluwe, I’m happy to have him here in California, where Kluwe already has done us some good: Kluwe and another pro-gay ally, NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo, per Wikipedia, “filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on February 28, 2013, regarding Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which they expressed their support of the challenge to California Proposition 8,” which in 2008 amended California’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, a right that California’s Supreme Court had ruled was guaranteed to Californians by the state’s Constitution before the haters later amended it with Prop H8.

I admire the very apparently heterosexual Kluwe, who is heterosexually married and has two children. According to Wikipedia, Kluwe wrote a blog called “Out of Bounds” for a Minnesota newspaper before he quit the blog last year in protest of the newspaper’s having run an editorial in support of the euphemistically titled “Minnesota Marriage Amendment,” which, just as Prop H8 did in California, would have amended the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. (That amendment failed at the ballot box in November, with the haters losing by just more than 5 percentage points, and subsequently the Minnesota Legislature legalized same-sex marriage this month.)

It takes balls and selflessness to fight for a historically discriminated against and oppressed group of people of whom you apparently aren’t a member. Kluwe did the right thing by boycotting the anti-gay newspaper.

Kluwe also has been outspoken about the facts that not all athletes are dumb jocks and that there is more to life than football, even for an NFL player.

And yeah, I’ll probably buy his upcoming book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities, which is due out next month.

Also this month, three states approved same-sex marriage: Delaware, Rhode Island, and, as I mentioned, Minnesota. (I find it ironic that just after the Minnesota Vikings dropped Kluwe, very possibly at least in part due to his advocacy for same-sex marriage, the state’s Legislature enacted same-sex marriage.)

True, Rhode Island and Delaware are only our 43rd and 45th most populous states, respectively, but Minnesota is our 21st most populous state, and it joins Iowa as another Midwestern state with same-sex marriage. Once the Midwest goes, how far behind can the rest of the nation be?

Finally, I found it to be a pleasant surprise to learn that President Barack Obama, this past weekend in his commencement speech to the graduates of the all-male, historically African-American Morehouse College, remarked, “… and that’s what I’m asking all of you to do: keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner. Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important.”

True, Obama’s wording was inelegant.* If you were a man who had married your boyfriend, he would be your “husband” or your “spouse” or your “partner” or however else you chose to refer to him (hell, call him your “wife” if you want to and if he is OK with that; it’s your marriage, not mine). But if you had married him, you probably wouldn’t still be referring to him as your “boyfriend.”

Still, I found it at least a bit encouraging for the president of the United States of America, whatever his other many flaws and missteps might be, basically state in a college commencement address before an all-male audience that marrying a member of the same sex is perfectly fine if that is what is right for the individual.

You never would have heard George W. Bush, or even Bill Clinton, utter those words at a commencement ceremony.

I noted above that Chris Kluwe is “heterosexually married.” I did that on purpose; married” no longer should automatically mean heterosexually married; “married” should include the possibility of being homosexually married — in all 50 states and in every nation on the planet that recognizes marriage between heterosexuals.

And one day, it won’t matter; “married” will just be married, and no one will much care, if he or she cares at all, whether it’s a same-sex marriage or an opposite-sex marriage.

But it still matters now, and we Magical Elves and our allies have a lot of work to do between today and the day that it no longer matters because everyone (or at least almost everyone) realizes that each and every one of us is a beautifully unique sparklepony.

*Slate.com’s William Saletan reports that Obama’s prepared remark was “Be the best husband to your wife or boyfriend to your partner or father to your children that you can be,” but, again, what Obama actually said was, “Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner.”

Saletan writes:

… But this time, the speech didn’t go according to script. Literally. Obama changed the “boyfriend” line from hetero boilerplate to explicitly gay-inclusive. He ad-libbed. And this was a heck of a time to do it. The speech was about what it means to be a man. The president of the United States, who until a year ago didn’t support same-sex marriage, has just put an official stamp of masculinity on male homosexuality. …

That’s certainly a possibility; it’s a valid interpretation, and it would be my interpretation, too, more or less, but, in my viewing of the clip of the remark, it appears to me as though Obama does stumble and/or hesitate a bit in getting the words out, with a nervous-and-unsure-of-himself-sounding inflection on the final word of that sentence, “partner,” and it’s not 100 percent clear to me whether he stumbles over these words because he’s messing them up or because he’s not sure how what he is saying — that it’s perfectly OK for a man to marry a man — is going to be received by his audience (Morehouse College, after all, is in Georgia, a state that isn’t exactly known as a gay-friendly state).

Indeed, sadly, if you also watch the clip, you will hear and see that after Obama asks his audience to “keep setting an example for what it means to be a man,” he has to pause for applause, but then, after he says next, “Be the best husband to your wife or your boyfriend or your partner,” very apparently his audience at first is silent in momentary confusion but then breaks out in some derisive laughter and mumbling and grumbling.

Indeed, in response to this very apparent derision over his remark that a man may marry a man, Obama puts his index finger up to his audience in apparent admonishment over their apparent homophobia.

As I said, we still have a way to go.

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Stormtroopers gone wild!

Updated below (on Saturday, November 19, 2011)

To anyone who believes that I’ve been hysterical in my last few posts, I offer this photo from The Associated Press:

A police officer uses pepper spray on an Occupy Portland protestor at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland Ore., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Randy L. Rasmussen)

Associated Press photo

The photo’s caption reads: “A police officer uses pepper spray on an Occupy Portland protestor at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011.”

Yes, that’s not water — that’s pepper spray. And clearly the young woman is such a dire threat to the jackbooted thugs who serve and protect the 1 percent that spraying her directly in the face with a massive amount of pepper spray was necessary for the stormtroopers’ safety.

Where is Barack Obama speaking out against these outrages?

Oh, right — he puts Wall Street weasels on his cabinet and makes them his advisers. He’s on the side of the 1 percent.

Face it, folks, if you haven’t already: Barack Obama just isn’t that into you. He’s not on the side of the 99 percent. He wants your money and your vote — it got him into the White House, after all — but expect only empty promises from President Hopey-Changey in return.

And the message is clear: The 1 percent decide where and when and how the rest of us can protest and demonstrate. They make sure that our protests and demonstrations are so restricted that they can be toothless at best. Our plutocratic overlords even have established so-called “free-speech zones,” for fuck’s sake. If we step outside of these rigidly, plutocratically proscribed “free-speech” lines, we will be pepper-sprayed — or worse.

Look at the news photo above and reflect upon the fact that this is the blue state of Oregon that we’re talking about. If this is what the plutocratic-protecting pigs are doing on the Left Coast, what’s next? Can concentration camps for anti-plutocratic, anti-corporate dissenters be far behind?

Update (Saturday, November 19, 2011):

If you are wondering about the young woman who took the blast of pepper spray to the face, The Oregonian yesterday posted a piece on her. The Oregonian identifies the woman as Liz Nichols, a “soft-spoken 20-year-old who’s only about 5 feet tall,” and reports of her:

Raised in Mountain Home, Ark., a town of about 1,600, she plans to stay in Portland as long as the Occupy movement is alive. She’s motivated to protest by the plight of her parents. Her mother has multiple sclerosis and her father was disabled by a back injury. They’re both surviving on his Social Security disability checks.

 The Oregonian reports of the pepper-spray incident caught by a photographer:

A police van blared a warning, telling people they risked arrest if they ventured into the street. Nichols and others stayed on the sidewalk. Laura Seeton,  a 31-year-old Portlander who locked arms with Nichols, said they had nowhere to go as people in back pushed and the riot police in front shoved back.

“It was terrifying,” Seeton said.

Nichols said a policewoman jabbed her in the ribs with a baton and pressed it against her throat. That made her angry.

She yelled at the officer, saying she was being mistreated. That’s when another officer shot her with pepper spray. A photo by The Oregonian’s Randy L. Rasmussen, which flashed across social media websites, shows Nichols was sprayed from a few feet away.

“It felt like my face, ears and hands were on fire,” she said.

She dropped to the ground, and police yanked her into their ranks.

“She was dragged away by her hair and disappeared into the black of their uniforms,” Seeton said.

Why in the fuck are our so-called “police officers” not only pepper-spraying non-threatening citizens, but also actually dragging women by their hair? This kind of police brutality is different from that practiced by dictators’ thugs how?

I also thought that I would share this cartoon on the topic of nonviolence by Ted Rall:

Ted Rall

That’s pretty much it, in a nutshell, but also worth reading is Rall’s recent column on the topic, titled “The Occupier’s Choice: Violence or Failure.” And if you haven’t read his book The Anti-American Manifesto yet, what the fuck is the matter with you?

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Time to fight fire with fire

Seattle Police officers deploy pepper spray into a crowd during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Westlake Park in Seattle. Protesters gathered in the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street after marching from their camp at Seattle Central Community College in support of Occupy Wall Street. Many refused to move from the intersection after being ordered by police. Police then began spraying pepper spray into the gathered crowd hitting dozens of people. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)  MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; TV OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Associated Press photo

Did you know that cops are using pepper spray against citizens who peaceably are voicing their grievances in canisters that are the fucking size of fire extinguishers?

The caption for the Associated Press photo above reads: “Seattle Police officers deploy pepper spray into a crowd during an Occupy Seattle protest on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, at Westlake Park in Seattle. Protesters gathered in the intersection of 5th Avenue and Pine Street after marching from their camp at Seattle Central Community College in support of Occupy Wall Street. Many refused to move from the intersection after being ordered by police. Police then began spraying pepper spray into the gathered crowd, hitting dozens of people” — including the 84-year-old Dorli Rainey, who has become the poster woman for the police brutality that we have seen in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The use of pepper spray on people whose “crime” is simply refusing to move from an intersection is not justified. Before you argue with me on that point, note that seattlepi.com reports:

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Wednesday apologized to protestors, including an 84-year-old woman, who were pepper-sprayed during a face-off with the Occupy Seattle demonstration in downtown.

McGinn said he spoke personally to Dorli Rainey, the former school teacher and activist who was photographed by seattlepi.com with red, swollen eyes just after she’d been doused with pepper spray Tuesday. The photo went international and captured an iconic moment for the Occupy movement.

“To those engaged in peaceful protest, I am sorry that you were pepper sprayed,” McGinn said in a statement. “I spoke to Dorli Rainey (who I know personally) to ask how she was doing, and to ask for her description of events.”

McGinn said he asked Police Chief John Diaz to review the police use of pepper spray and to ensure appropriate commanders are on-scene during such events. He said he did not want overly aggressive enforcement to exacerbate a situation.

He said police agreed that what happened Tuesday night was not “their preferred outcome.”

“My instruction to police and other city departments has been to protect free speech rights, protect public safety of protestors and the public, and protect other legitimate public and private uses of property,” McGinn said.

A pregnant woman and a priest were among those hit with pepper spray during a march from the Occupy movement’s current camp at Seattle Central Community College to Westlake Park. They were marching in support of protesters who were kicked out of Zuccotti Park in New York. The Seattle protesters were blocked by police officers at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street, where the confrontation took place, according to reports.

A police spokesman said Tuesday that pepper spray was used only on people who refused to disperse or who engaged in assaultive behavior toward officers. …

That obviously is a fucking  lie. We have photographic evidence that the Seattle pigs — and that’s what they are, pigs — wantonly sprayed pepper spray from large canisters all over whoever happened to be in front of them. There very apparently were no surgical strikes of pepper spray only upon those individuals who might actually have been aggressing upon the pigs. (And when a cop claims that he or she actually was aggressed upon by an unarmed citizen, take that claim with a grain of salt unless their is photographic or video evidence to back it up.)

And let’s not act like it’s only a crime if it’s the elderly, pregnant women and priests who are pepper-sprayed without very good cause. Anyone who is pepper-sprayed unnecessarily by the legalized thugs for the 1 percent whom we call “law enforcement officers” is a victim of a violent crime him- or herself.
 
The AP photo above eerily reminds me of images like these:
 
Photojournalist Charles Moore, R.I.P.
 
Screen shot 2010-03-17 at 9.17.17 PM.png
 
 
Non-violence? Bullshit.
 
When those who are supposed to protect us and to serve us — we fucking pay their salaries for them to do so — instead attack us, it’s time for us to attack back. I don’t believe in starting it, but I believe in ending it, and nothing fights fire better than fire. The only effective way to deal with a fucking bully is to give back to him what he has dished out himself.
 

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