Hip-Gnosis: October 2008: Archives

October 31, 2008

100K Match Pledge - Donate To No On Prop. 8 NOW genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

URGENT NOTE TO THOUGHT THEATER READERS:

The effort to protect gay marriage in California is in need of our support. Tim Gill and Scott Miller have offered to match No On 8 donations up to $100,000. The campaign needs to raise 1.5 million by midnight tonight and your help is needed. I'm publishing the following request from No On 8 and I ask you to consider making a donation.

This morning's Field Poll carries news that Prop 8 is narrowly losing, 44 to 49%.

This initiative battle is razor thin. We know that 7 to 10% of voters are still up for grabs.

And Tim Gill and Scott Miller will match your donation up to $100,000 if you respond NOW.

We knew we needed something more. Something big. Something to remind California voters that there were times in our history when we did not stand up against discrimination, and these are times we now regret.

So our new ad -- which we call "History" -- focuses on the central fact of this campaign: it is wrong to discriminate and wrong to treat people differently under the law.

This new ad, narrated by renowned actor Samuel L. Jackson, drives home the message that discrimination is always wrong. Watch the ad and make a donation to keep it on the air.

Now it's our turn. It's our turn to make sure we do everything we can do so the next generation grows up in a more decent society -- a society where discrimination against LGBT Americans remains part of that sorry past rather than enshrined in our Constitution.

We must keep this ad on television statewide through Election Day. To make that happen we must raise at least $1.5 million today. Please donate NOW.

With your help, we will defeat Prop 8. Please continue your support with a donation and ask the people who care for you to do the same.

In solidarity,

Geoff Kors
Executive Committee Member
No On 8

DONATE. HERE. NOW.

Tagged as: California, Civil Rights, Gay Marriage, LGBT, No On 8, Proposition 8, Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel DiRito | October 31, 2008 | 3:15 PM | link | Comments (1)
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October 25, 2008

No Child Left Behind - What About The Parents? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Video-Philes

While "no child left behind" is the battle cry of many Americans who worry about the state of our education system, there's more evidence that far too many parents were left behind.

Look, I realize that politics makes people emotional...but the fact that so many adults devolve into uneducated irrationality is frightening. Yes, it makes for great comedy on The Daily Show but the fact that the Republican Party has chosen to capitalize on this vulnerability and what seems to be a growing disregard of logic and reason is an unfortunate development at a time when this country needs clarity and calm.

In the following two videos, taken at a Sarah Palin rally in Henderson, Nevada, we see the degree to which some McCain supporters have been led to believe that Barack Obama is a threat to this country. The responsibility for fostering this notion rests squarely on the McCain-Palin campaign's shoulders. For every instance where John McCain corrects the misconception of a follower, he and his minions incite the same in thousands of others by resorting to the politics of fear.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what can be done to repair the damage being done and reverse these unfounded impressions. Fomenting these views with code words and innuendo may be politically expedient for John McCain but it is clearly contrary to his assertion that he puts country first.

It's hard to imagine the benefits of educating children when they suffer the bias and prejudice of their parents on a daily basis. Promoting the politics of ignorance is simply fuel on the fire. Absent the right leadership, this nation is apt to suffer further regression. Should that happen, we'll all be left behind.

Henderson Rally - The Tame Version

Henderson Rally - The Down & Dirty

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bias, Education, John McCain, Prejudice, Racism, Sarah Palin, Socialism

Daniel DiRito | October 25, 2008 | 1:07 PM | link | Comments (0)
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October 21, 2008

Christian Values: Our Bigoted Mouths Trump Your Safety? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

Did you know it's radical to seek the punishment of gay bashers through hate crimes legislation? Did you know that those religious leaders opposed to hate crimes legislation believe their right to condemn homosexuality trumps the right of gays to seek stricter punishment for those who engage in gay bashing?

Well if you didn't take a look at the following video. Tony Perkins and Bob Knight, two of the right wingers usual suspects offer their take on the evils of enacting hate crimes legislation. Like so many of their arguments, they never focus upon the intent of the actual legislation. Instead, they present their slippery slope conjecture that one thing will lead to another and before you know it, Christians will find themselves being persecuted.

Here's the problem. When was the last time you read an article about a Christian being assaulted by a gang of homosexuals? Can you name the Christian equivalent of Matthew Shepard? You see, a number of Christians are determined to prevent gay issues from receiving any recognition or passing legislative protections that they are willing to give tacit approval to acts of violence.

In the end, the message being delivered by these zealots is that their right to say whatever they want is far more important than protecting gays from physical violence. With Christians like this, the world is bound to be a kinder, gentler place, eh?

Tagged as: Bob Knight, Coral Ridge Ministries, Family Research Council, FRC, Hate Crimes, LGBT, Religion, Tony Perkins

Daniel DiRito | October 21, 2008 | 10:28 AM | link | Comments (0)
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October 20, 2008

Prop 8: Why It Is Wrong To Reject Gay Marriage genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

As I've thought about Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative designed to deny gays the right to marry, and what I could do to oppose it, I've continued to come back to a missive I wrote nearly eighteen months ago. I'm of the mind that in order to discuss gay marriage, one must understand the state and meaning of marriage as it exists today, what impact, if any, gay marriage may have upon the institution of marriage, the progression of gay culture, and what is at stake for the gay community.

All too often, those opposed to gay marriage speak of it in terms of the harm it will do to their marriages. I summarily reject that premise...contending instead that whatever ails marriage has little, if anything, to do with homosexuality. It's also true that the quality of love isn't heightened with the attachment of a state approved license any more than it is diminished by its absence. Notwithstanding, the decision to deny that affirmation to gays is a tacit rejection of the merits of love.

I can't force anyone to support gay marriage...but I think I can argue that a recognition of love should not be withheld because one happens to be a homosexual. In suggesting as much, it should be apparent that efforts to deny gays the right to marry is antithetical to love. Should you conclude the same after reading the following words, I implore you to consider making a donation to oppose Proposition 8.

LINK TO DONATE

Does Where You're Going Depend Upon Where You've Been?

I was gay when being a homo was a mental illness...when queer sex was illegal...when you didn't discuss being a faggot with your doctor...when sodomites were chased down and thrown out of the military...when AIDS was god's punishment for being a fairy. I was gay before being gay was remotely fashionable. Nonetheless, I was always just me.

Perhaps the most shocking part...I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to returning to those days if given the opportunity. Not because I enjoyed being a mentally ill criminal who was likely to die well before my time...not because it was easy to hide my identity and live in secret...not because I might find myself the victim of hatred and violence.

No, I would return to those days to remind me why I must still fight today...why it isn't enough to no longer be a mentally ill criminal destined to die young...why it isn't enough to be allowed to serve in the military if I just keep quiet and conceal my lifestyle...why it isn't enough to be an acquaintance that hip heterosexuals get to namedrop at a dinner party like a new pair of Pravda shoes...why I don't want to abandon my gay culture in order to have a place at the insiders table...why I don't want the right to marry to be held over my head as if it were the Holy Grail.

I don't accept that my destiny is to assimilate myself into heterosexual culture such that I no longer create discomfort for those who demand homogeneity over homosexuality. I don't want the music I hear in gay clubs to be the same music I hear everywhere else...I don't want my sense of fashion to be identical to that of my straight counterparts...I don't want heterosexuals to understand everything I say...I want gay slang to remain gay slang. I don't want to have a party that is so nondescript that the neighbors can't tell that a gay man lives on the same block.

Let me be clear. I don't say this to reject heterosexual culture or to assert the superiority of gay culture...I appreciate and honor the validity of all cultures. I say it to remind myself and my gay brethren that acceptance need not come with capitulation...the world is large enough for every cultures to exist...and the world ought to be educated and enlightened such that acceptance equates with the ability...no, the desire and the demand to embrace and celebrate them all.

If society is akin to the palette of an artist, then it is essential that all the colors remain...lest we become a canvas absent contrast...imbued with the blandness born of banality. America may be the proverbial melting pot but our greatness results from the soup we serve from that pot...a complex soup that maintains an array of distinct flavors...all perfectly blended such that each maintains its identity and each is enhanced by the presence of the others...not overwhelmed or masked such that the independent flavors are indistinguishable.

The need for acceptance is no stranger to trepidation. How one responds to that anxiety may define the degree to which the achieved acceptance is authentic or, conversely, it may define the distance one has traveled from one's authenticity in order to obtain enough acceptance to mitigate the trepidation. The distance between the former and the latter may well describe a journey of betrayal that is predicated upon the need to extinguish discomfort at the expense of preserving identity.

That which is authentic need never become inauthentic to achieve acceptance. Any society that expects as much becomes a faceless, colorless canvas which consumes itself while feeding upon its fears. The same is true of any subset of that society which would accede to those expectations.

The issue of gay marriage is an excellent case in point. Marriage has become the gauntlet upon which the war for acceptance of homosexuality and the associated authenticity of our existence and our relationships is being waged. I reject that premise. So long as we allow marriage to define the legitimacy of our relationships, we enable the opposition to defile us.

Are we entitled to the rights afforded by marriage? Absolutely. Should we wage the battle for gay acceptance on that platform? I don't think so. Let me explain. At the core of a large share of the opposition to gay marriage is an inherent bias and prejudice against homosexuality. The message sent by those opposed to gay marriage is that we refuse to give your lifestyle the legitimacy afforded by such state sponsored recognition...your relationships are lesser than ours and we intend to maintain the institutional constructs to demonstrate as much.

Simultaneously, the dialogue that opposes gay marriage is couched in the argument that it would represent an affront to family and longstanding societal and religious traditions. By design, this is intended to steer voter debate around and beyond the realm of civil rights and the basic notion of equality. It also leaves gays on the outside asking to be let in...and nothing communicates the perception that I'm not as good as you as demanding another admit, acknowledge, and accept that I am.

An example is warranted. If you've ever watched a group of children playing, you've seen the situation where a couple children form an alliance that excludes another child or group of children...and they often flaunt a possession or a privilege...telling the outsiders they have the newest Game Boy or their parents take them to the country club on the weekends. The goal is to establish a distinction of inequity whereby those on the outside long to be included.

Fortunately, circumstances can change and the excluded can become a sought after commodity...maybe it results from a discussion about animals in a science class whereby it is exposed that one of the outsiders lives on a farm with horses...and the teacher elects to take the class on a field trip to the farm. That can lead to realignments such that some children choose to befriend the child with horses in the hopes of being invited to go riding after school. You get the picture.

Coming back to gay culture and the issue of gay marriage...beginning in the early nineties, society became fascinated with all things gay...gay music, gay fashion, gay theater, gay television characters, and many of those elements were mainstreamed...or If I may gently suggest...they were co-opted by society at large.

Conventional thought argues that familiarity breeds contempt...but on the contrary, with regards to being gay, I would contend that familiarity brought a degree of tacit acceptance on the part of society which was followed by complacency on the part of the gay community. In the wake of our perceived assimilation, we ran for the cover of conventionality...embracing many of the means and measures of conformity...which included the traditional model of marriage.

Sometimes, in order to understand one's own progression (the place at which one has arrived)...whether that be individually or collectively as a group...one must consult the perceptions of those with whom we now consort. During a past airing of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, I was struck by a comment made by George Will as the panel was discussing the issue of gays in the military. Mr. Will remarked, "The culture is moving anyway...I have a daughter...26...in her cohort...being gay is just like being left handed...it's just boring".

In terms of acceptance, perhaps that is a good thing which will ultimately, by default, manifest itself in the full granting of recognitions...including gay marriage. Call me a skeptic, but while many heterosexuals worry that including gays will diminish the integrity of marriage, I worry that our acceptance of marriage as the means and the measure by which we define our relationships may in fact diminish the fundamental premise of those relationships.

Perhaps loving someone in spite of society's validation of that love is an added demonstration of love...a love that must be found and fostered absent the endorsements and benefits that society grants when recognizing an announcement of marriage. Frankly, I'm not convinced that marriage, in its current iteration, requires much more consideration than we bring to bear on the purchase of a new automobile. It seems to me that marriage has become another commodity in this zero-sum equation that typifies our consumption crazed society.

As such, when gays bestow idyllic attributes upon the acquisition of marriage rights, do we not endorse a failing system and in the process begin to minimize the relationships we chose to form in spite of their rejection by society? I, for one, reject the notion that society, in its current form, represents the best we can do and I believe that the state of marriage no doubt supports my premise. Gays should not accept the role of villain with regard to the state of marriage and they should not seek its sanction if it simply becomes a vehicle for their ongoing victimization.

If acceptance and the affording of full participation in society were to require we give up portions of our cultural identity...or if we were to succumb to the premise that it does in order to best achieve our objectives...then I would opt to remain detached but whole. Unfortunately, I'm worried our history and our heritage may be slipping into the abyss...exacerbated by the loss of a generation to HIV....a generation that facilitated so much of the progress we've made by standing strong and living large.

At the same time, I'm inclined to reject the current state of America's morality...a morality that is worn as an external badge upon hollow human holograms of holiness. Our proximity to hallowed temples on Sunday is not a measure of our piety any more than another's absence is a measure of their dedication to the devil. Morality cannot and should not be reduced to a sexual preference scorecard, a campaign slogan, or policies that deny or impose.

The state of grace must be our goal. It holds the power to promote change and to heal hearts. Graciousness is a conscious choice that is elected when innocence has been lost...an innocence that has long since evaporated but remains forever valued and painstakingly imitated. It is not an emblem we acquire...it does not flow to the winner of an election...it is an endeavor of example whereby words are not sufficient...it must be lived.

Our gay authenticity is no different and it mustn't be wagered or mortgaged for any imagined or perceived prize. We must never accept that homosexuality and morality are mutually exclusive. Morality is an internal state; not a litany of state installed mandates. Morality maligned by the majority is nothing more than the manifestation of institutionalized immorality.

One's love for humanity requires no higher being, no promise of salvation, no threat of damnation...it should be unconditional and absolute. It need not elevate nor annihilate those who are similar or dissimilar. It honors humanity simply because it is humanity. It seeks no special treatment nor does it require one to adopt any specious identity in order to find acceptance. We humans share the same origin but we also possess different identity's...which is as it were intended. We mustn't forget.

I love beauty queens and drag queens...I love girls who are cowboys and boys who are cowgirls...I love tin soldiers, toy soldiers, and our soldiers...I love rednecks and red lipstick...I love drama whether it's on the big screen or just plain old big drama...I love cry babies and babies crying...I love hetero sexy and homo sexual...I love girls with big boobs and boobs that are big girls. They give us our texture, our color, and our depth.

I'm reminded of the words from an old song that have always spoken succinctly and eloquently to these issues that I hold near and dear, "Don't make me over, now that I'd do anything for you...Don't make me over, now that you know how I adore you...accept me for what I am...accept me for the things that I do". May I suggest that there is no finer song to honor the sanctity of our shared humanity?

No individual...no sexual orientation...no skin color...no party...no religion...no nation...has a monopoly on goodness. We're all at our best when we embrace the best our identity has to offer. I am not an opinion poll...I am not a debate question...I am not a threat to marriage...I am not that queer homo fairy faggot sodomite gay guy who blogs. I have always been first, foremost, and forever human. I should not need to tell you and you should not need to ask me...I have always been me. I will always be me.

Are gays not human enough to grant them the right to marry? Wouldn't it be grand if we Americans could find a way to embrace and celebrate the simplicity of that which connects us...our humanity? Isn't the affirmation of love the place to start?

LINK TO DONATE

Tagged as: California, Equality, Gay Culture, Gay Marriage, LGBT, Love, Marriage, No On 8, Proposition 8

Daniel DiRito | October 20, 2008 | 11:13 AM | link | Comments (23)
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October 14, 2008

Abstinence Only Hindering US AIDS Efforts In Uganda? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

I've previously written about the Bush Administration's focus upon abstinence in its efforts to combat AIDS in Africa, particularly in Uganda. Under the program, a significant portion of the funding has been earmarked for abstinence only initiatives, a move criticized by a number of the organizations on the ground in Africa.

In the following video, al Jazeera takes a look at the status of AIDS infections in Uganda and the possibility that these abstinence only programs may have resulted in rising infection rates. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to discern the facts as those who promote abstinence are often motivated by religious ideology and therefore have a vested interest in promoting morality based programs.

No doubt those committed to allowing the scientific data to determine policy are anxiously awaiting the end of the Bush administration and its insistence upon requiring questionable funding stipulations. With the aggressive expansion of PEPFAR funding, there is reason for hope...so long as the money is utilized wisely to reduce infection rates and expand access to treatment.

Tagged as: Abstinence, AIDS, al Jazeera, George Bush, HIV, PEPFAR, Sex Education, Uganda

Daniel DiRito | October 14, 2008 | 9:27 AM | link | Comments (0)
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October 9, 2008

The Evolution Of Elections - Intelligent Design Debunked genre: Hip-Gnosis & Nouveau Thoughts & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

As we move closer to the election, I've witnessed a phenomena that has only recently begun to make sense to me (by the fact that it doesn't make sense). First, I have to hand it to my Republican friends...their tenacity in creating tangible talking points out of thin air is unmatched.

Let me provide an example before I attempt to draw the connection between the manner in which they analyze and strategize elections and the predisposition of some Christians to promote intelligent design over evolution.

Over at the National Review, flummoxed politicos are desperate to craft a salient narrative to leverage John McCain back into a position to win the election. What they fail to realize is that their lurching from one idea to the next is simply supporting the Obama mantra that John McCain and the GOP are erratic. Take a look at the following.

From Jonah Goldberg (Part One):

I have no idea whatsoever if there's merit to this, and if there is how much merit, but lots of email like this:

When are people going to start talking about the REAL reason the markets are down - Obama up in polls. If I was McCain, I'd start telling people, "If you want to lose more money, vote Obama."

From Jonah Goldberg (Part Two):

Now, it's far more likely that the causation and correlation suggested by some readers is backward: the markets tank for non-political reasons and Obama does well as a result, rather than Obama does well and then the markets tank. Still, I think Pethokoukis' point that Obama's success may make investors more pessimistic about the future has some plausibility to it.

Finally, it sounds like this reader has it right (and I should correct a bunch of emailers who seem to think I was suggesting McCain blame Obama for the crashing markets, which I think would be ludicrous).

Jonah,

The suggestion that markets are down because of Obama's rising in the polls shows a preposterous misunderstanding of economics, and McCain will be (rightly) pilloried if he tries to make that claim. I have no doubt Obama will be an utter disaster for business and economic growth/recovery in this country, but the markets are reacting to fact that unemployment is way up (and climbing), manufacturing numbers are way down, housing prices are still falling, credit has seized up, overnight funding is near impossible to acquire at anything but prohibitive cost, there continue to be real questions as to the solvency of financial institutions and their nightmarish balance sheets, etc. Just about every piece of data that comes back these days is negative, with the exception of falling commodity prices and a strengthening dollar, as Kudlow correctly mentioned last week. Companies growth prospects in this kind of environment are bleak at best, and the markets are reacting in kind. In addition, the ban on short selling of financials rolled off today, so some of the downward pressure that had built up over the past week released itself today.

We'll reach a bottom of the market eventually, however--and I mean no disrespect to the previous e-mailer you quoted below--it's naïve to suggest the continued hammering we're all taking has anything material to do with the political zeitgeist.

OK, to argue that the ascension of Obama in the polls is responsible for our crashing financial system requires the suspension of reality. Now in fairness, I have to note that Jonah, in his second posting, dismisses the notion offered by the emailer in his prior posting. At the same time, this has seemingly become standard operating procedure for my friends on the right. Again, there's no fault in testing trial balloons; though there is folly in releasing the ones that don't merit a moments consideration. Doing so gives them an air of legitimacy that fosters more of the same.

Here's the problem...all too often GOP operatives establish an outcome (the preferred fact or belief) and then they create a hypothesis to support it. Clearly this isn't out of the ordinary with regards to scientific study. Virtually every hypothesis has at its origin some level of belief that it may be true, which leads to its testing. The problem with many on the right is that their bias and partiality leads them to corrupt the construct in order to rig the results. In other words, the scientific method is an acceptable construct when it yields the preferred result. Should it refute the optimal outcome, the kitchen sink must be tossed at it in order to discredit it.

That brings me to the connections between those who oppose the theory of evolution in favor of creationism or its most recent stepchild, intelligent design, and those who would put forth an intellectually dishonest explanation to further their political objectives.

Let me be clear, it's a free country and we're all entitled to attempt to influence others with whatever arguments we choose to employ. The problems arise when the credible and convincing means to measure the validity of a theory are cast aside in deference to ideological intransigence. You see, when an individual can dissect the Bible into those portions they accept and those segments they set aside...all the while maintaining the infallibility of the process and the indisputable nature of the conclusion...fiction has been elevated to a level commensurate with fact.

Even worse, there is no rational or reasonable means to compel these believers to abandon their arbitrary assertions in favor of a fact driven formula. Once this rejection of reasonability is rejected relative to religion, the distance to its dissolution with regards to other disciplines is easily abridged. In the field of politics, once dogma is allowed to dethrone dutiful deduction, extremism is enabled.

Hence, the efforts to assign arbitrary attributes to Barack Obama is the epitome of embracing this elusive equation. Not only does this promote discord, it precludes its resolution. Before it can be corrected, the quintessential question must focus upon uncovering the underlying motivations.

As I watch John McCain and his minions grapple with the prospect of defeat...and the fear that imparts...it supports my suspicion that terror management is at the core of our conundrum. Terror management posits that we humans are prone to obsessing upon the fear of our mortality and acting to diminish it.

As such, religion and the promise of an afterlife is a strategy to assuage the anxiety. Those predisposed to acting from fear are therefore susceptible to strategies that allow irrational ideations to override objective analysis. When confronted with fearful events, the instinctual reaction is to resort to the suspension of reason in order to construct a place of comfort.

Unfortunately, this behavior has an "imprinting" quality such that it is self-reinforcing the longer it persists. In the political realm, it is manifested in a refusal to allow or applaud alternate avenues of governance. The Clinton presidency is an excellent example. There is little doubt that his tenure was a period of relative peace and prosperity...and yet many on the right refuse to recognize as much. These individuals often argue that the time a president is seated in office isn't the essential measure of his merit...or they prioritize other considerations...such as morality in the case of Clinton.

Here's the problem. This approach isn't applied consistently. Ronald Reagan receives credit for his time in office as well as for a number of ensuing years. Questions of morality, such as his having been married twice and his silence on the AIDS epidemic, are ignored. Shades of gray are danger zones and the pursuit of black and white...regardless of either's availability...is the ultimate safe haven from which to view the world. With the passage of time, the GOP and its pliable and therefore palatable propaganda becomes the only amenable world view...facts be damned.

Doubt is equated with death and it must, therefore, be banished. Science, though seemingly certain, is still too slow in providing a palatable domicile from which to proceed. To embrace it is to risk the possibility that one's earthly existence could end before it can afford acceptable answers to free one from fear. A retreat to the malleability of irrational ideations is the only avenue by which one can construct an illusory and idyllic island, insulated from the unmovable manifestation of mortality.

Death is certain; political suicide is optional. Come into the light my GOP friends...I promise it won't kill you. Besides, you'll still have heaven as a backup, right?

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Bill Clinton, Creationism, Death, Economy, Evolution, GOP, Intelligent Design, John McCain, Jonah Goldberg, National Review, Religion, Ronald Reagan, Science, Scientific Method, Terror Management

Daniel DiRito | October 9, 2008 | 4:30 PM | link | Comments (1)
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