Hip-Gnosis: September 2007: Archives

September 27, 2007

Mitt Romney: Barking Up The Wrong Tree? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

Romney Obstacle

In a moment of karmic irony, Mitt Romney's seemingly limitless desire to court the religious right, through his unabashed demonstrations of opposition to gays, may only be matched by the christian's displeasure with his Mormonism. Call me evil, but I love when one "fundie flock" has the potential to cancel out another.

Leading the way on an issue almost certain to be resurrected during the general election, Mitt Romney issued a statement this morning condemning the Democratic candidates for their refusal at last night's debate to rule out teaching about gay issues to second-graders.

Romney said that the answers proved "how out of touch the Democratic presidential candidates are with the American people."

"Not one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade," Romney notes. "This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers."

This is not the first time Romney has seized on teaching about gay issues to young children. In July, he took Obama to task after the Illinois senator told a Planned Parenthood conference that "it’s the right thing to do to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools." A rival to Romney pointed out that the former governor himself had supported "age-appropriate" sex ed in his 2002 gubernatorial bid.

While I have no particular axe to grind with Romney, I can't help but view his sudden "do-over demagoguery" as a demonstration of his zeal for power and an important measure of his integrity quotient. I know...he wants us to believe that he has simply changed his mind on abortion and gay rights...and I'm suddenly dating women...yea, right!

The problem the Romney strategy presents for the Democrats is that his insistence on carrying the values torch for the GOP will likely force his primary opponents to jump on the values bandwagon in an effort to prove their christian credentials. The fact that he instantly seized upon remarks made at last evenings Democratic debate support my concerns.

Fortunately (for those opposed to Mitt), Romney has an obstacle which may well prevent him from being anointed as the bastion for bible beaters. You see, they believe he suffers from the ailment of Mormonism...a belief system which many christians contend is unacceptable and nullifies his presidential pedigree. A new survey suggests Romney's religion may be a formidable obstacle.

MEDIA ADVISORY, Sept. 26 /Christian Newswire/ -- ChristiaNet.com, the world's largest Christian portal with twelve million monthly page loads, recently asked, "Would you elect a Mormon for president?" President of ChristiaNet, Bill Cooper, responds, "An overwhelming majority of Christians have spoken on the issue, they won't vote for a Mormon."

Out of 2,000 Christians surveyed, 59% claimed they would not vote to elect a Mormon for president. Most comments resulted from the belief that Mormonism is a cult, "The church of Mormonism is a cult and I would never vote for a cult leader." Most in this category also felt that Mormons were not Christians, "A Mormon is not a Christian, and they don't follow the Bible like Christians do." In fact, almost all responses in this category suggested that a Mormon's belief in Christ and God were contrary to a Christian's belief. "They believe in a different Jesus and a different God," is an example of one such comment.

I'm not certain how reliable this survey data may be, but one would be naive to think that Romney's faith will have no bearing on the votes cast by the religious right. From a political strategy standpoint, Romney's efforts to engage the values voters may complicate the GOP equation. If he forces the other front-runner candidates to the right, it may hurt the appeal of a Rudy Giuliani with moderate and independent voters.

Whatever happens, the GOP race is bound to be a fascinating look at a party attempting to craft a winning identity in the aftermath of the 2006 election. While I have no dog in the show, I suspect Romney may be barking up the wrong tree.

Image courtesy of The Economist

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Christianity, Evangelicals, GOP, LGBT, Mitt Romney, Mormonism, Religious Right, Rudy Giuliani

Daniel DiRito | September 27, 2007 | 12:50 PM | link | Comments (1)
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September 26, 2007

Stop Satan: Shuttin' Down The Supper Club genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

The christians are not happy campers at the moment. Their anger centers upon an advertisement for the Folsom Street Fair, a gay event held annually in San Francisco. The ad uses the format of The Last Supper as the setting for the print image; populating the table with individuals dressed in stereotypical gay regalia...and the table is "sinfully" littered with a variety of sex toys. Naturally, the bible brigade finds the image to be sickeningly sacrilegious...which of course means they have reacted with more than sufficient sanctimony.

Enough of my sarcasm...I'll let the christians speak for themselves. The following excerpts are a sampling of the outrage found on the internet.

From CNS News:

Organizers of San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair -- sponsored by Miller Brewing Co. -- have portrayed Christ and his disciples as half-naked homosexual sadomasochists in the event's promotional advertisement, and the conservative group Concerned Women for America is complaining about the hypocrisy of it.

"The bread and wine representing Christ's broken body and lifegiving blood are replaced with sadomasochistic sex toys in this twisted version of Da Vinci's The Last Supper," CWA said on its Web site.

CWA is calling on California politicians -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sens. Feinstein and Boxer among them -- to "publicly condemn this unprovoked attack against Christ and His followers.

"We further challenge the media to cover this affront to Christianity with the same vigor as recent stories about cartoon depictions of Mohammed and other items offensive to the Muslim community," CWA said.

From Moonbattery.com:

The fair describes itself as "the world's largest leather event." The city supports it by shutting down several city blocks and providing security. It is financed in part by the same South African–owned Miller Beer that has also supported illegal alien rallies.

Oh that disgusting city of San Francisco...how dare they grant permits and block off streets for gay events...and that naughty Miller Brewing Company...how dare they sponsor gay events and activities by those terrible illegal immigrants...and let's not forget the evil and liberal mainstream media! Apparently, the christians are prone to persecution complexes. I'm sure the city of San Francisco wouldn't deny them permits for events and I'd bet Miller would be happy to offer its sponsorship. Of course I suspect the christians would find San Francisco an unacceptable city and Miller an inappropriate sponsor.

Anyway, here's what the folks at Moonbattery.com think it would take to get anyone to pay attention to their concerns:

Unfortunately, Christians would have to fly a few planes into buildings full of people before that will ever happen. The media only sides with the bad guys.

I guess this confirms that the GOP has succeeded in portraying liberals and the media as unpatriotic terrorist sympathizers to their base. It also appears that the christians have mobilized and captured Miller's attention...enough so that the company has asked to be immediately removed from the print material...issuing the following statement on their website:

From Miller Brewing Company:

Statement Regarding Folsom Street Fair

While Miller has supported the Folsom Street Fair for several years, we take exception to the poster the organizing committee developed this year. We understand some individuals may find the imagery offensive and we have asked the organizers to remove our logo from the poster effective immediately.

Well, after a little research, it seems that the Folsom Street Fair isn't the only group that has found The Last Supper to be an attractive theme for publicity campaigns and print materials. I've included a couple of the most recognizable ones in the graphic at the bottom of this posting.

Yes, as you can see, The Last Supper served as the setting for the characters in the Star Wars movies and for the cast of the HBO series, The Sopranos. No, I don't think the Soprano family will receive an exception for being Italian Catholics...they seem to have a bit of a problem with most of the commandments. It is interesting that I've never heard any criticism of these depictions of The Last Supper...but then again, they aren't tied to the gay community.

Given Miller's decision and the lack of focus on the other depictions, I decided to take a look at the advertiser's who have been featured on the Sopranos. Keep in mind that HBO doesn't run advertisements; instead they place name brand products in their programs...providing exposure that has great value. The following excerpts provide the relevant details:

From USA Today:

The creators of the HBO shows do accept free use of cars and other goods. It cuts costs and adds realism. The days of TV characters drinking generic "beer" are over. Sopranos creator David Chase and his team of writers frequently write brand names into scripts to add reality to the show, which is averaging 10.8 million viewers per week, according to Nielsen Marketing Research. Jersey boy Chase is a stickler: When Carmela Soprano reaches for milk, he demands it be a brand distributed in New Jersey, says Landress.

If marketers had to pay for ads on The Sopranos, the cost would equal $287,325 for a 30-second spot and HBO would pocket $6.8 million per show, according to a study by DiMassimo.

Landress rejects "exclusive" offers that would make HBO borrow products from a single marketer in a category. She says consumers see competing brands, so The Sopranos' writers want variety: Motorola and Nokia cell phones; Apple and Gateway computers; Mercedes (Tony's girlfriend Gloria was a Mercedes dealer), Lexus and Range Rover autos (both driven by Christopher Moltisanti); Coke and Pepsi (the gangsters drink Coke; the feds like Pepsi); SnackWell's and Turkey Hill foods favored by Carmela.

___________________________________________________

Strange as it may seem, I'm not aware of anyone objecting to these high profile companies supporting The Sopranos...a show which has used The Last Supper imagery and that is arguably not an ideal representation of family values.

Now that the Sopranos has ended its run on HBO, the rights to the series have been purchased by Arts & Entertainment...and they do sell advertising...and they need to given what they paid for the privilege of airing the show. In addition to the companies mentioned in the following excerpts, ad time has also been bought by Ford, Sonic, and Paramount Pictures.

From Broadcasting & Cable:

Once-stodgy A&E surprised many in the TV community when it won a January 2005 bidding war for rights to rerun the HBO show, agreeing to pay $2.55 million an episode. The searing crime drama roared out of the gate with 4.4 million total viewers, including 1.9 million in the key adults 18-49 demo.

At the same time, the show helped coax 30 new advertisers to A&E in 2006, with another 20 already set for 2007, says AETN Ad Sales Executive VP Mel Berning. The client list includes Yellow Book, Texas Instruments, Alltel, TGI Friday's and Taco Bell.

“They're meeting their guarantees and obligations," says PHD Executive VP/Director of National Broadcast Harry Keeshan, who bought ads for his client Quiznos and is pitching the show to new advertisers this year.
___________________________________________________

Let's take a look at Star Wars and the cash cow marketing monster it has become with the reworking of the original trilogy, the subsequent prequel movies, and the release of enhanced DVD's and countless other products. Oh, and let's not forget Fox's connections to the Star Wars money machine.

From USA Today:

Star Wars is one of the all-time moneymaking franchises, generating nearly $3.4 billion in global box office and $9 billion in retail sales since 1977. As the buzz builds for the finale of George Lucas' space series, consumers won't be able to swing a light saber without seeing, hearing or reading references to Darth Vader, Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi over the next month.

Promotional partners Pepsi, Burger King, Cingular Wireless, America Online, M&M/Mars and Kellogg are launching a multimillion-dollar cross-promotion to push their own brands while basking in the reflected glory of Hollywood. As partners, they get the rights to use Star Wars characters in their advertising.

From Wikipedia:

In 1999, to promote Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the remaining "Special Edition" films (V and VI) aired on U.S. broadcast network Fox (they bypassed premium cable for direct broadcast airing). That same year, Fox acquired all television rights to Episode I after the premium cable networks declined due to cost. A similar situation nearly happened with Attack of the Clones, until HBO struck a last-minute deal with Fox and Lucasfilm for the exclusive pay-cable rights.

The Fox network acquired the U.S. network television rights, in April/May 2005, to promote the then-upcoming Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, with Episodes I, IV, V, and VI placed in limited syndicated television distribution, (on Fox affiliates in most markets) while the Fox network was able to air Episode II in mid-May, prior to Episode III's initial theatrical release.

___________________________________________________

So the "fair and balanced" network has been a key player in the marketing of Star Wars...which we know means that the network made a fair share of money from the sale of advertising time to big name companies. Again, I can't recall anyone calling on Fox and the many advertisers involved with Star Wars to cease their involvement with these movies as a result of the blasphemous Last Supper depiction.

No, the christians apparently give Star Wars and The Sopranos and Fox and countless large corporate advertisers a free pass; instead deciding to go after a gay event held in San Francisco...one which most Americans have never heard about or attended. Are we to conclude that the pursuit and condemnation of the "militant" gays and their inferred insistence upon defiling religion at an event in San Francisco is a greater threat to christianity than the likes of Star Wars, The Sopranos, and Fox Network?

The following excerpts provide the latest reactions from The Catholic League:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue announced a national boycott of Miller Beer on this morning’s “Fox and Friends." He explains why today:

“Never have we experienced greater corporate arrogance than in this dispute with the Miller Brewing Company. Miller is sponsoring an incredibly outrageous and palpably anti-Christian event in San Francisco: the Folsom Street Fair (see its website at folsomstreetfair.com and be prepared to see the shocking photos of what goes on).

“Accordingly, Miller leaves us with no options: we are calling on more than 200 Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu organizations to join with us in a nationwide boycott of Miller beer. We feel confident that once our religious allies kick in, and once the public sees the photos of an event Miller is proudly supporting, the Milwaukee brewery will come to its senses and pull its sponsorship altogether. If it doesn’t, the only winners will be Anheuser Busch and Coors."

Contact: Miller spokesman Julian Green at green.julian@mbco.com
Phone: 1-800-MILLER 6 or 414-931-2000

___________________________________________________

Perhaps all of these outraged groups need to take a look at the other depictions of The Last Supper before they decide to single out the gay community and one large corporate sponsor. While the christians love to accuse the gay community of hypocrisy and bigotry, it seems to be the christians who fail to grasp the meaning of hypocrisy.

Until they begin applying their outrage equitably, I see this latest assault as more of the same...an opportunity to further their hateful agenda...an agenda focused upon dispersing anti-gay propaganda whenever and wherever they find an opportunity.

I guess I'm going to have to start drinking Miller Beer and watching The Sopranos on A&E and Star Wars on my Fox Network affiliate. Oh the inhumanity of it all!

The Last Supper

Tagged as: Catholic League, Fanatacism, Folsom Street Fair, Fox Network, Homophobia, LGBT, Miller Brewing Company, Religion, San Francisco, Star Wars, The Last Supper, The Sopranos

Daniel DiRito | September 26, 2007 | 11:44 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Creationists Use Peanut Butter To Debunk Evolution genre: Hip-Gnosis

Did you know that a jar of peanut butter can prove that the world was created according to the bible...as well as disprove the theory of evolution? Well if you're like me, you didn't know this "important" fact.

Fortunately, Chuck Missler, a biblical fundamentalist, wants to enlighten us all...and he has the jar of peanut butter with which to do so. The following video is Mr. Missler's attempt to refute evolution.

Feel free to share your own observations and experiments. I've already tried a jar of mayonnaise, pickle relish, catsup, and grape jelly. So far no creature has emerged from these lagoons of life...although I'm now so afraid that I can't make myself open the jars again. I guess I better go say my prayers.

H/T to Sadly, No!

Tagged as: Bible, Chuck Missler, Creationism, Evolution, Intelligent Design

Daniel DiRito | September 26, 2007 | 6:20 PM | link | Comments (1)
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September 24, 2007

David Vitter: $100,000 Buys A Lot Of Forgiveness? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Video-Philes

Despite his admitted sexual indiscretions, David Vitter remains a poster boy for family values...as well as an apparent champion for funding the programs of evangelical groups through the use of government earmarks.

The Times-Picayune reports that Vitter has included an earmark of $100,000 in recent legislation for the Louisiana Family Forum, a group which challenges the theory of evolution...seeking to have it characterized as an unproven theory and to introduce intelligent design as a viable scientific alternative.

From The Times-Picayune:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote better science education."

The nonprofit Louisiana Family Forum, launched in Baton Rouge in 1999 by former state Rep. Tony Perkins, has in recent years taken the lead in promoting "origins science," which includes the possibility of divine intervention in the creation of the universe.

The group's stated mission is to "persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking." Until recently, its Web site contained a "battle plan to combat evolution," which called the theory a "dangerous" concept that "has no place in the classroom." The document was removed after a reporter's inquiry.

"Using an earmark to dictate that the Louisiana Family Forum receive the funding to develop a science education program ironically ignores a hallmark of scientific research, making decisions on the basis of competitive, empirical research," Ellis said.

___________________________________________

The fact that a sitting Senator is using the earmark provision to fund efforts to undermine existing scientific evidence with religious ideology seems a complete misappropriation of funds and a breach of the separation of church and state. Many educators have not opposed the discussion of intelligent design in non-scientific classes. However, most educators are strongly opposed to the teaching of intelligent design as part of a science class.

The following video is from the Louisiana Family Forum and it focuses upon the distinctions between the actions of David Vitter and Larry Craig. Apparently the Council believes that the Vitter's apology is sufficient reason to support his continuance in the Senate while Senator Craig's efforts to overturn his guilty plea fail to strike a sufficiently contrite tone. They avoid mentioning the fact that the Larry Craig situation involves a same-sex indiscretion.

Note that the speaker in the video incorrectly identifies Senator Craig as being a Senator from Colorado. I also find it interesting that the speakers are so certain of Senator Vitter's contrition and rehabilitation. I wonder if a $100,000 earmark helped them reach that conclusion.

Louisiana Family Forum On David Vitter & Larry Craig

Tagged as: Creationism, David Vitter, Earmarks, Evolution, Intelligent Design, Larry Craig, LGBT, Louisians Family Forum

Daniel DiRito | September 24, 2007 | 12:18 PM | link | Comments (0)
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September 23, 2007

Values Voter Debate: Does The GOP Hate America? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Video-Philes

Time and again we hear the argument that liberals hate America...or that they support the terrorists...or that they lack patriotism. The accusations are often made because of their opposition to the war in Iraq...fully lacking any real substantiation.

Well we now have a body of evidence that values voters may be the ones who hate America...primarily because it doesn't support their narrow version of religious ideology.

Comparison is a useful tool, and in this instance, it provides some much needed perspective. The same people who assail liberals for exercising their basic constitutional right to free speech seem more than willing to blur the lines of the constitution in order to impose their particular religious views upon the entire society.

At the GOP Values Voters debate last week, The Church Of God Choir opened the event by singing a rendition of God Bless America...one where the words have been changed to instead asks "Why Should God Bless America?"...continuing on to state that America has "turned her back on everything that made her what she is". While liberals may disagree with specific U.S. policy, one would be hard pressed to find an event of this stature...one with candidates for the presidency in attendance...where the sponsorship is issuing an across the board condemnation of their country.

In fact, I suspect that such a brazen defiling of a cherished patriotic song at a Democratic debate...in order to spew one's displeasure with the state of our nation...would draw calls for a Congressional resolution of condemnation similar to the one issued against MoveOn.org.

To further make my point, I've included a defiling of the same song by Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church. If you're not familiar with this group, they travel the country protesting at funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan...asserting that the deaths are little more than god's punishment for America's sins.

The Westboro version of God Bless America is called God Hates America, and while it uses arguably harsher language than the one at the Values Voters debate, they present a similar message...a message that America isn't acceptable because it has failed to adopt the religious beliefs of a certain segment of society.

I would suggest that liberals adopt a tactic frequently used by the GOP...one that takes every possible opportunity to repeat the following meme..."Why does the GOP hate America?"


The Church Of God Choir - Why Should God Bless America?

Westboro Baptist Church Choir - God Hates America

Tagged as: Fred Phelps, God Bless America, GOP, MoveOn.org, Religion, Values Voter Debate, Westboro Baptist Church

Daniel DiRito | September 23, 2007 | 12:57 PM | link | Comments (1)
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September 20, 2007

Jackass: The Sequel - Twenty Two Donkeys For "W" genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Twenty two Democratic Senators broke ranks and voted with the GOP to issue a resolution condemning the recent MoveOn.org advertisement in the New York Times. The advertisement asked the question, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?", insinuating that the report of the General was little more than carrying water for the Bush administration's failed war in Iraq.

Take whatever side you choose on the advisability of the advertisement, but the fact that the Democratic Party allowed such a measure to pass is perhaps the single most stupid act of political suicide I've witnessed in years. To think that an act of free speech rises to the level of requiring such a resolution is mind boggling.

The fact that the entire event was masterfully manipulated to include the President slamming a softball of a question on the subject out of the park at the end of his hastily arranged press conference ought to be seen for what it was...a full-on partisan stunt and an insult to the intelligence of the voting public.

Worse still, the Democrats tucked their tails and cowered in the corner. Maybe we need to requisition diapers for our infantile Senators. What an absolute load of childish political drama on the part of the GOP; what a disgusting demonstration of spineless submission on the part of the Democrats.

Once you've had a chance to barf at the idiocy of the bungling burros, perhaps the following graphic will help you muster a much needed chuckle.

Twenty Two Donkeys For Brother Bush

Tagged as: Democrats, General David Petraeus, George W. Bush, GOP, Iraq, MoveOn.org

Daniel DiRito | September 20, 2007 | 5:48 PM | link | Comments (1)
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September 12, 2007

Queens, Christ, & Constitutions: An Existential Elegy genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Polispeak

Existential Angst

Not long ago Miss South Carolina botched her answer to a question in the Miss Teen USA pageant...a move that sent millions of viewers racing to watch her tortured response on YouTube and made her the unfortunate butt of numerous jokes offered by countless comedians. The question referred to the fact that some 20 percent of Americans cannot find the United States on a map...a rather staggering statistic.

A new survey points to another area of deficiency in the knowledge base of the American public; this one with regard to our understanding of the Constitution. Some may contend it is simply a reflection of differing interpretations...a seemingly valid, though problematic possibility which I will endeavor to address.

The survey results lead one to ask if a trend is emerging and if we can identify the factors precipitating this apparent lapse in acuity. Before exploring the possibilities, or lack thereof, take a look at the following excerpts from the survey.

From The First Amendment Center:

WASHINGTON — Sixty-five percent of Americans believe that the nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the “State of the First Amendment 2007" national survey released today by the First Amendment Center.

Just 56% believe that the freedom to worship as one chooses extends to all religious groups, regardless of how extreme — down 16 points from 72% in 2000.

58% of Americans would prevent protests during a funeral procession, even on public streets and sidewalks; and 74% would prevent public school students from wearing a T-shirt with a slogan that might offend others.

25% said “the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees," well below the 49% recorded in the 2002 survey that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, but up from 18% in 2006.

“Americans clearly have mixed views of what First Amendment freedoms are and to whom they should fully apply," said Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center. “To me the results of this year’s survey endorse the idea of more and better education for young people — our nation’s future leaders — about our basic freedoms."

The right to practice one’s own religion was deemed “essential" or “important" by nearly all Americans (97%); as was the right to “speak freely about whatever you want" (98%) and to “assemble, march, protest or petition the government (94%)," Policinski said. “Still, Americans are hard pressed to name the five freedoms included in the First Amendment," he said. Speech is the only one named by a majority of respondents (64%), followed by religion (19%), press and assembly (each 16%) and petition (3%).

First Amendment Center Senior Scholar Charles Haynes: “While the survey shows Americans highly value religious freedom, a significant number support privileging the religion of the majority, especially in public schools. Four decades after the Supreme Court declared state-sponsored religious practices unconstitutional in public schools, 58% of respondents support teacher-led prayers and 43% favor school holiday programs that are entirely Christian. Moreover, 50% would allow schools to teach the Bible as a factual text in a history class.

“The strong support for official recognition of the majority faith appears to be grounded in a belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, in spite of the fact that the Constitution nowhere mentions God or Christianity. Of course, people define "Christian nation" in various ways — ranging from a nation that reflects Christian values to a nation where the government favors the Christian faith. But almost one-third of respondents appear to believe that the religious views of the majority should rule: 28% would deny freedom to worship to any group that the majority considers ‘extreme or on the fringe.’"

A third think the press has too much freedom and 60-plus percent believe the press is biased in its reporting or, worse, falsifies or makes up stories.

The data tend to mirror the recent rise in the rhetoric and the rancor surrounding religion in the political sphere and the expanded focus upon social issues...a focus which has frequently been derived from religious doctrine (primarily the Bible).

Unfortunately, this has led to an erroneous belief that legislation ought to be predicated upon that premise. The fact the Karl Rove and the GOP have sought to exploit this gaffe has only exacerbated the misconception and the divisive vitriol it promotes.

Let me be clear...people have the right to support the legislation they favor...which is as it should be. However, said legislation mustn't impinge upon constitutionally granted rights; otherwise our judicial system exists and is intended to intervene to prevent such overreach (a function which has all too often been falsely defined as judicial activism). Beyond this fundamental legislative construct, voters can also attempt to alter the constitution.

Sadly, the political premise of laissez-faire has been circumvented by those who would seek to impose one set of theological beliefs above all others...an action undoubtedly in conflict with the intent of the Constitution. Clearly, the document seeks to remain neutral in this regard so as to allow for the desired freedoms our forefathers sought...including the freedom to hold one's chosen religious beliefs without interference or imposition from the state. That delicately nuanced balance appears to be in jeopardy...and the survey seems to affirm an expanding threat.

At first blush, one might be inclined to scratch one's head at the inaccuracies found in the respondent opinions; however, when one considers that a fifth of Americans can't even identify their nation on a map, the lack of constitutional proficiency seems a logical extension of an unsettling trend.

As America seeks to install democratic values in the Middle East, the erosion taking place on the home front seems a stark contradiction, as well as a tacit endorsement of similar actions on the part of those we view to be adversaries. The fact that others embrace a theological bent we may justifiably find to be fully unacceptable points out the precarious nature of our dilemma.

Understanding the degree to which we should act to address the unsavory aspects of these conflicting ideologies is a complex predicament. We would be well advised to avoid the wholesale negation of other non-threatening beliefs which reside under the same basic theological umbrella of our antagonists...beliefs we may not affirm but cannot in good conscience...and in keeping with our constitutional values...seek to extinguish. It is difficult to imagine we can succeed in discerning this fine line of distinction if we can't do as well with regards to our own actions here at home.

When one imagines a large number of constitutionally illiterate Americans attentively watching a beauty pageant finalist failing to speak coherently about basic issues of geography and education in a country where 20 percent of us can't identify our nation on a map, the concept of engaging in an effort to export our democratic values seems an epic existential exercise. Consequently, I have my suspicions that the current ideological conflicts we face at home and abroad may represent mankind's sempiternal challenge.

Tagged as: Bible, Christianity, Existentialism, First Amendment Center, Iraq, Islam, Miss Teen USA, Religion, U.S. Constitution

Daniel DiRito | September 12, 2007 | 2:18 PM | link | Comments (0)
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September 6, 2007

"Pegging" Bigotry One "Sodomite" At A Time genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

Square Peg

I'm generally a patient and tolerant person, but every once in a while I'll come across a situation that ticks me off. This morning I ran across one of those instances while reading comments on a site I frequent.

The following comment was in response to a posting which made reference to Senator Larry Craig and his anti-gay voting history.

Homosexuality/sodomy are disgusting, filthy acts against God. HE says in HIS word that homosexuals will not enter Heaven. I don't want some pervert in politics. Politicians are bad enough as it is without queers around.

Despising homosexuality/sodomy is not racist/hateful/fearful. It is common decency and common sense.

Aside from the wholesale bigotry voiced in this comment, it also demonstrates a butt load of ignorance...and I'm going to do my best to expose it in this posting. While I don't want to jump head first into Biblical interpretation, a little background is required.

Most of us are familiar with the Biblical citations used to condemn homosexuality. They are few but those who utilize them do so with fervor. Essentially, the primary reference involves an admonition against lying with men in the same manner as lying with women...hence the condemnation of same sex relations. This is usually bolstered by a further reference to Sodom and Gomorrah and their destruction by fire...all predicated upon the story of Lot and the purported desire of a number of citizens to "get to know" (defined as homosexual rape) his male guests (angels disguised as humans sent to rescue Lot from the destruction of the evil city...as the story goes).

The definition of the word Sodomy has evolved over time to include what some might say are acts that go beyond those described in the Bible. Nonetheless, the dictionary currently defines it as follows.

From Merriam-Webster:

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French sodomie, from Late Latin Sodoma Sodom; from the homosexual proclivities of the men of the city in Genesis 19:1-11
: anal or oral copulation with a member of the same or opposite sex; also : copulation with an animal

It is possible to connect the expanded definition with other Biblical references and interpretations such as those which contend that the "spilling of seed"...in any way that isn't intended to procreate...is sinful. In other words, those who adhere to strict Biblical interpretation may well contend that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman with the intent of "being fruitful and multiplying" is the only acceptable sexual act.

Before we proceed, an important caveat is needed. There are countless iterations of ideology which result from Biblical interpretation...some of which wouldn't agree with the above expanded definition of sodomy. I point to the above distinctions in order to demonstrate the pitfalls of literal interpretations...meaning that the Bible has clearly been subjected to cultural and societal influences.

Therefore, it is important to note that there are Biblical citations available to support a number of conclusions...all of which require contextual understandings beyond the words. Further, the Bible is an amalgam of individual writings compiled over some 2,000 years which undoubtedly means that cultural influences impacted what was written and what was read and then rewritten over time. There is no way to conclude that what is in the Bible today is in fact an accurate translation of the purported exchange from god to any of the many authors...nor that the author correctly grasped god's words when they were allegedly spoken.

Enough background; let's return to the comment. I believe it is safe to conclude that since the author cites and condemns both homosexuality and sodomy, the author is accepting at least some of the current and expanded definition of the word (which may well be a function of his/her own Biblical interpretations). Notwithstanding, I'm going to modify the intent for the sake of this argument such that the use of sodomy wasn't intended to include any of the expanded acts contained in the current definition. Clearly, doing so has little rational basis since it makes little sense to use both words if the author sees them as one and the same (homosexual sex). Regardless, I'll proceed with that assumption and my reasons will become evident.

The above commenter and many of those opposed to homosexuality draw clear lines in their condemnations...lines which become blurred if one takes the time to explore the sexual practices of humans. In fact, the absence of clear lines forms the core of my argument...an argument which undermines the certainty of the commenter and those who hold similar beliefs. First, let's look at some relevant information.

Kinsey data collected between 1938-1963 found that 9 percent of non-married males and 28 percent of non-married females had engaged in anal sex at least once.
Among married subjects, the numbers were much lower--around 11 percent for both men and women.

In 1974, Playboy magazine published a huge survey of over 2000 people. Depending on the age of the respondent, between 14 and 25 percent of people said they had tried anal sex at least once.

A more recent study, conducted in 1990 at the Kinsey Institute, found that 27 percent of male and 24 percent of female college students had anal sex at least once.

One researcher, who surveyed one group of people in the 1970s then another in the late 1980s, offers a good point of comparison. In the first survey, 25 percent of women had anal sex and 8 percent reported engaging in it regularly. In the second, 72 percent had anal sex, and 23 percent reported engaging in it regularly.

A 1991 survey of 3200 men (in a nationally representative sample) found that 20 percent of men age 20 to 39 had engaged in anal sex at least once. Fifty percent of the men who had tried it had only tried it once. Interestingly, in this more contemporary study, more older men reported having had anal sex than younger men (27 percent of men age 35 to 39 versus 13 percent of men age 20 to 24).

The most recent U.S. data from a national representative sample comes from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), which was conducted on over 12,000 men and women aged 15 to 44. Results show that 34 percent of men and 30 percent of women reported engaging in anal sex at least once.

In a 1996 survey of Swedish women aged 18 to 74, about 20 percent of women overall reported having engaged in anal sex--specifically, 28 percent of 25 to 34 year-olds and 2 percent of 66 to 74 year-olds.

Sources:

Billy, J.O., Grady, W.R., Klepinger, D.H. "The Sexual Behavior of Men in the United States" Family Planning Perspectives Vol. 25. Issue 2 (1993): 52 -60.

Bolling, D.R. “Prevalence, Goals and Complications of Heterosexual Anal Intercourse in a Gynecologic Population. Journal of Reproductive Medicine Volume 19 (1977): 120-124.

Bolling, D. “Heterosexual Anal Intercourse: A Common Entity, Perceived Rarity, Neglected Patients and Ostrich Syndrome." Paper presented at the 1987 Kinsey Institute Conference, AIDS and sex: An integrated biomedical and biobehavioral approach, Bloomington, IN, December 5-8, 1987.

Fugl-Meyer, K.S., Oberg, K., Lundberg,P.O., et al. "On Orgasm, Sexual Techniques, and Erotic Perceptions in 18- to 74-Year-Old Swedish Women" Journal of Sexual Medicine Volume 3, No. 1, (2006):56-68.

Gebhard, P.H. & Johnson, A.B. The Kinsey Data: Marginal Tabulations of the1938-1963 Interviews Conducted by the Institute for Sex Research Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders,1979.

Hunt, M. Sexual Behavior in the 1970s. Chicago: Playboy Press, 1974.

Mosher,W.D., Chandra, A. & Jones J. “Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women 15–44 Years of Age, United States, 2002." Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics; no 362. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics (2005):

Voeller, B. “AIDS and Heterosexual Anal Intercourse." Archives of Sexual Behavior Volume 20. Issue 3 (1991): 233-276.

One can pick and choose from the above data, but I think it is safe to conclude that more heterosexuals engage in sodomy than do homosexuals...a conclusion we can make if one compares the fact that gays are believed to be no more than 10 percent of the population (the high end of the estimates) and the above studies clearly indicate that at least 20 percent of heterosexual men and women have engaged in anal sex. Even if we assume that the study included a representative number of homosexuals...meaning they need to be removed from the study numbers to discern the number of heterosexuals...the number of heterosexuals engaging in anal sex would still be larger than that of homosexuals.

Now the commenter and many of those who oppose homosexuality might be inclined to argue that those instances of such acts among heterosexual couples is acceptable. Regardless, making that assertion would still violate the current definition of sodomy...and it would clearly violate the stricter Biblical interpretation against acts of sex which aren't intended to procreate.

However, I conceded above that I would assume that the commenter only intended homosexual sex in using the term sodomy...and I'm going to keep my word...even though I believe I've already debunked the focus upon homosexuals as sodomites deserving of wholesale condemnation. With that said, I'm only going to focus on those heterosexual males who have engaged in anal sex...a number, I'll remind you, which still exceeds that of all homosexuals...male and female included. Stay with me...I promise to tie this all together.

Back in 2001, Dan Savage conducted a contest to name the act of anal sex whereby a woman wears a strap-on device to penetrate her male partner. The winner was the word "peg" which has subsequently been expanded to be known as pegging.

Returning to the above studies, it isn't apparent how many of the men who engaged in anal sex did so with a woman (defining them as heterosexuals)...but given the numbers and the percentage of the population presumed to be gay, they would still have to be the largest share. On the surface, that doesn't appear to further my argument and it may seem to play into the contention that such male with female anal sex (heterosexual) doesn't meet the narrow definition of sodomy...that being male with male anal sex (homosexual). Further, as I mentioned above, many of those opposed to homosexuality might argue that anal sex between a man and a woman is actually an acceptable practice.

Were it not for the Bible, my argument may have failed...but every now and again...the universe provides for those in need in strangely ironic ways. Let's see what the Bible has to say about this male with female anal sex (recall that were only looking at pegging...whereby the female penetrates the male).

Time and again, gays have inquired with Biblical scholars as to their proximity to sin and their potential for salvation if they continued with their gay relationships but didn't actually engage in gay sex. In other words, they sought to know if they would still be guilty of the sin if they didn't engage in the act. The following excerpts are from a response to such an inquiry.

Since you acknowledge the prohibition against sodomy, I will forgo exegesis to establish it. I will also simply state my complete agreement that God loves the person while hating the sin, regardless of who the person is, or what the sin is. However, there is an apparent assumption in your question which must be addressed. I cannot find support in the Word of God for the idea of “homosexual persons" apart from those who practice sodomy in heart or deed. Beyond the fact that the Bible does not use a clinical term (homosexual) for those who engage in the sin of sodomy, it is obvious that there are two types of persons, unsaved sinners and saved sinners, and each type can come in one of two genders, male or female. This excludes the idea of sodomites being a different kind of person. It is not a third gender, or a different species of human being, and I cannot consider it a special class of person any more than I can consider liars a special class of person.

Accordingly, I must define a “homosexual person" as one who either practices sodomy, or entertains it in his/her thought life. Either is the equivalent of the other, except in the manner in which it involves and affects someone else. So, someone whose thoughts entertain sodomy is guilty of the sin, even without actually committing the deed. This is the principle expressed in these texts, among others:

Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

Proverbs 23:6-7 “Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: 7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee."

These definitions force me to the conclusion that relationships between “homosexual persons," even without the sexual acts, are sinful because of the thought life.

But there is more to consider in your question. I think defining “homosexual person" as one who has in time past committed the sin of sodomy, either in thought or deed, but have truly repented of the sin, and eliminated it from his/her life, and not just someone who has eliminated the practice of the sin, is an error. One is a sodomite if one commits the act in thought or deed. If one does not, one is not.

Alas, the basis of my argument is exposed. If one embraces Biblical scripture, then the act of sodomy cannot be justified under any circumstances and it certainly cannot be separated from the condemnation. If, in fact, thoughts of sodomy are the same as sodomy, then those men who engage in pegging are well beyond the minimal definition of sinning in committing such an act...even if it is with a woman. To argue otherwise would provide a justification for anal sex which would be suitable for use by homosexuals.

I say as much because I can't imagine the thoughts which would motivate and justify a heterosexual male to desire anal penetration. If those opposed to homosexuality truly associate it with sodomy (narrowly defined as male with male anal sex), then the act of being pegged would have to somehow be divorced from the notion of a woman inserting a virtual depiction of a penis into her male partners rectum. If that can be achieved, well perhaps I've witnessed my first miracle.

In addition, to argue that a representation of a penis isn't the equivalent of a penis isn't possible if one accepts the above Biblical scripture. If said scripture can be circumvented, then all scripture is open to negation and/or reinterpretation.

Taking it a step further, should someone provide a rationale which allows sodomy in a heterosexual relationship, then that same construct would have to apply to homosexuals because homosexuals could contend they engage in it for the very same scripturally sanctioned reasons.

In the end, those who use the Bible as the means to condemn have to be subject to the very same document. To do otherwise would not only constitute a rejection of the Bible, it would be an invalidation of the beliefs one ascribes to it.

I would suggest that my argument not only points out the inconsistency and the hypocrisy that exists in many of those who rail against homosexuals...it affirms my belief that the premise of opposition to homosexuality is far removed from any strict Biblical interpretation. In fact, I'll be so bold as to peg those who do so as little more than unbridled bigots.

Finally, to the individual who inspired this posting with the above comment, may I sardonically suggest that you reconsider your attempts at shoving your proverbial square peg down the justifiably defiant throats of gays? Your temerity is abominable.

Tagged as: Bible, Bigotry, Dan Savage, Homophobia, LGBT, Lot, Pegging, Religion, Sexuality, Sodom & Gomorrah, Sodomy

Daniel DiRito | September 6, 2007 | 9:53 AM | link | Comments (3)
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September 4, 2007

Loon-A-Tic Fundamentalist On The Role Of Women genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

Anyone with doubts as to the insane interpretations gleaned from the Bible need only watch this video. The goon in the video advises the viewers who are not "real" Christians to move on as they won't understand the message or the instructions.

The speaker insinuates that he is offering his insights as fair warning to those women who may not understand the "rules". The basic message is that the role of women is to serve men. He points out that a woman's body is made for her husbands use and pleasure and to bear and care for his children.

After taking a look at this idiot, the first thought that went through my mind was that the only way he would ever have a wife is by virtue of imposing his absurd ideology. I feel sorry for any woman that submits to a man of this ilk. Those in need of convincing that religion is used as a means to power would do well to see this creep in action.

H/T to Christian Pwnage 101

Tagged as: Dogma, Fanaticism, Fundamentalism, God Tube, Misogyny, Religion, Womens Rights

Daniel DiRito | September 4, 2007 | 8:20 AM | link | Comments (2)
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September 1, 2007

Michael Shermer: Why People Believe Strange Things genre: Hip-Gnosis & Indie-Script

Michael Shermer is a former born again Christian and founder of the Skeptics Society and editor of Skeptic Magazine. He explains his transition to skepticism as follows:

I used to be a born-again Christian. Now you could say I'm a born-again atheist. But they are both articles of faith, so the correct term would be to say that I'm nontheistic, because a belief that there is no God is not the same as to have no belief in God."

He is opposed to teaching Intelligent Design as a scientific theory. He's especially interesting given his born-again Christian background. If you get a chance, check out the whole article and his book, "Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown".

The following video clips are of a talk Shermer gave in which he explains the basics which underlie why people are prone to believe in strange occurrences, miracles, and such...things like crop circles, images on potato chips and tree bark...as well as UFO's.

Part One

Part Two

Tagged as: Intelligent Design, Michael Shermer, Paranormal, Science, Skeptic Magazine, Skeptics Society, UFO

Daniel DiRito | September 1, 2007 | 2:32 PM | link | Comments (0)
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