Little Red Ribbon-Hood: June 2007: Archives

June 28, 2007

Laura Bush Promotes Faith-Based "Snake Oil" For HIV genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

Selling Snake Oil

Look, I generally like and respect Laura Bush...and while I would typically refrain from criticizing the First Lady...I have to call her on her latest remarks regarding the faith-based efforts being employed by the Bush administration in the African AIDS initiative. Here's what Laura Bush had to say:

"Religious institutions bring a personal healing touch to the fight against AIDS," Mrs. Bush said, adding that Zambian health caregivers "know very well the healing power of faith."

OK, this may sound callous but when was the last time a person, infected with the HIV virus, experienced a cure as a result of the healing power of faith? Further, the last time I checked, a healing touch does very little to lower a viral load or increase t-cell count...that requires expensive medications.

Now I'm sure the First Lady didn't mean her remarks literally, but it demonstrates the degree to which this administration will go to promote their failed faith-based abstinence initiative...as well as the abject denial they demonstrate in the face of factual evidence that it isn't as effective as sex education and the distribution of condoms.

Canisius Banda, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said Zambia placed "great importance to the role of faith-based organizations in ... the fight against HIV and AIDS."

But he said such groups were not always supportive of certain aspects of the U.S.-backed prevention message that focuses on abstinence and faithfulness, along with condom use.

"They are weak on condom usage. They seem to have difficulty with that part of the message," he said. "They are very strong on abstinence as well as being faithful."

Again, this will sound shrill, but if one of the Bush children was infected with HIV, I doubt they would be focused on sending her to see a representative of a religious organization for a serving of "healing touch" and a dose of the "healing power of faith".

One last comment and I will stop. If the Bush family were to switch places with an African family, I doubt George and Laura would be content to tell the twins to abstain from sex (assuming they would have a say in such matters given African culture) and refuse to allow them to have condoms in order to protect themselves should they need to do so.

Faith is not science and abstinence is not the equivalent of contraception and access to antiretroviral medication. If god is watching as we sit in our ivory towers spending limited resources on…and lecturing impoverished Africans about…the power of faith and the need to abstain, I doubt he's preparing a hero's welcome for the pious purveyors of faith based snake oil.

Daniel DiRito | June 28, 2007 | 4:19 PM | link | Comments (0)
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June 20, 2007

GWB: The Flaws Of A Faith Based Presidency genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

Dining At The Blind Faith Cafe

I accept the fact that the President is opposed to embryonic stem cell research on the basis of moral and ethical considerations. At the same time, I'm not sure his role as president is to apply his own particular religious beliefs when considering whether to fund of efforts intended to provide hope to those in need of medical breakthroughs.

On Wednesday, the president is expected to veto the most recent bill that would expand funding for embryonic stem cell research...funding that is favored by a wide majority of voters.
The New York Times is reporting that the President intends to announce his own initiative to promote research into regenerative medicine...a move that will likely be viewed as an effort to offset the criticism that will be leveled at the president.

In interviews on Tuesday, two senior administration officials said Mr. Bush would direct his health and human services secretary to promote research into producing cells with properties akin to those of human embryonic stem cells, without destroying embryos in the process. Mr. Bush has said embryo destruction is a moral line that he will not cross.

The officials said Mr. Bush wanted the National Institutes of Health to capitalize on recent scientific advances, including a study published this month involving skin cells in mice, that had the potential to sidestep the ethical controversies surrounding embryonic stem cell experiments. The White House has been consulting with scientists in recent weeks on the plan, they said.

But the effort appears largely symbolic — there is no money attached — and some scientists were instantly skeptical. Two leading stem cell researchers, interviewed Tuesday evening, said the recent work was no substitute for embryonic stem cell research. One, Douglas A. Melton of Harvard University, said he had become aware recently that the White House was trying to reach out to some of his colleagues who are pursuing the skin cell research, which has not been replicated in humans.

“It should be pursued just as actively as we pursue human embryonic stem cell research," Dr. Melton said of the recent studies. “I’m not trying to say there’s nothing to this," he continued, “but it doesn’t need any special attention from the White House. All we’ve ever asked is let human embryonic stem cell research vie for public funding like all other research."

The officials said the White House was particularly encouraged by several new avenues of research, including studies involving stem cells obtained from amniotic fluid, and efforts to extract stem cells from embryos that had been declared “clinically dead."

“It is not an alternative for embryonic stem cell research, because some of these alternative procedures still have ethical issues associated with them," Dr. Gearhart said, adding, “Who is the god that says the embryo is dead?"

Let me be the first to answer Dr. Gearhart's question...George W. Bush...of course. You see, that is the very problem when politicians believe it is their mandate to apply religious doctrine...just who draws the lines and where are those lines to be drawn? If we can't trust the scientific community to act with appropriate caution...caution that weighs the potential to improve the health of millions against the costs to implement those improvements, should we be content to simply follow the belief system of the then sitting president?

What if a president decides to only fund research conducted by faith based scientists? This president has already attached a requirement to its African AIDS initiative that requires that a third of all prevention spending must promote abstinence only...a method of prevention that has already been proven to be inferior to sex education and the distribution of condoms.

Perhaps my example is extreme, but is it hard to imagine that the NIH or the CDC, under the direction of a president and his appointees, might attach similar ethical considerations when funding other scientific initiatives? What if a president determined that bad behavior ought not receive research funding and cut spending on lung cancer caused by smoking or liver disease caused by excessive drinking or diabetes caused by obesity? Hey, it’s not that big of a stretch; they've already made a statement of moral judgment with regards to HIV in Africa.

Don't get me wrong, I applaud the President's initiative as I think we ought to spend more on scientific research as opposed to billions on failed efforts to export democracy. However, the preceding statement only serves to further illuminate my concern that elected officials should not apply their own moral judgments.

The notion that bringing democracy to Iraq would solve their longstanding sectarian conflicts and our concerns about terrorism was not only naive; it sought to replace one belief system with another...and in doing so, the president, in effect characterized one set of religious beliefs as evil.

I don't doubt that George Bush is a man of faith. However, the myopic view created by his adherence to his particular brand of faith has made him a president for some of the people...a world leader that prefers to dictate rather than negotiate...and a man who is ultimately ill-suited for the complexities that accompany the constitutionally defined role of president.

In the end, we're left to hope that those in need of medical breakthroughs and the rest of the world can hold it together long enough for us to elect a replacement that is worthy and wise.

Image courtesy of www.blindfaithcafe.com

Daniel DiRito | June 20, 2007 | 10:49 AM | link | Comments (0)
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June 18, 2007

Evangelicals Respond To Trojan Condom Ad genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Tongue-In-Cheek

So the bottom line must be that contraception and contraception products promote sex for pleasure...which makes the new Trojan Condom ad campaign off limits for Fox and CBS. The networks are apparently only willing to air condom commercials that have disease prevention as the theme, and not those with a message aimed at pregnancy prevention.

The new ad campaign is called "Evolve" and the message is to use a condom every time. The problem arises from the setting and the storyline for the campaign. The ad takes place in a bar and uses pigs to depict men looking to connect with women. Once the pig purchases a condom from a vending machine in the bathroom, it is transformed into an attractive male who draws the attention of the woman seated at the bar. You can view the ad here.

From The New York Times:

Representatives for both Fox and CBS confirmed that they had refused the ads, but declined to comment further.

In a written response to Trojan, though, Fox said that it had rejected the spot because, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy."

In its rejection, CBS wrote, “while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions."

“It’s so hypocritical for any network in this culture to go all puritanical on the subject of condom use when their programming is so salacious," said Mark Crispin Miller, a media critic who teaches at New York University. “I mean, let’s get real here. Fox and CBS and all of them are in the business of nonstop soft porn, but God forbid we should use a condom in the pursuit of sexual pleasure."

“With a 75 percent share of the market, we can prioritize growing the category and increasing overall condom usage," Mr. Daniels [Vice President for Marketing] said. “Right now in the U.S. only one in four sex acts involves using a condom. That’s dramatically below usage rates in other developed countries. Our goal is to dramatically increase use."

“The ‘Evolve’ ad does a nice job of being humorous, but it’s also a serious call to action," Mr. Daniels said. “The pigs are a symbol of irresponsible sexual behavior, and are juxtaposed with the condom as a responsible symbol of respect for oneself and one’s partner."

The industry typically tries to reach men, but this campaign’s ads are running in Cosmopolitan and Glamour. Trojan sees growth potential in women customers, who make only 30 percent of condom purchases.

___________________________________________________

To say that the mentality at Fox and CBS is archaic would be a kind characterization. Its common knowledge that a large share of television advertising and programming uses sex as a draw…a fact that clearly illuminates the hypocrisy of these networks. Apparently the rationale suggests that one simply cannot focus on measures that could protect one from sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, or being forced to confront the possibility of an abortion…if they remotely suggest that people willfully engage in sex for pleasure.

The fact that 75 percent of all sexual acts performed in the United States take place without the use of a condom is beyond the realm of rationality. Anyone that believes that the extinguishing of sex for pleasure will eventually be the accepted moral directive and that abstinence will eventually transform the sexual practices of the nation and the world is living in denial. It just isn't going to happen.

A number of months back, Thought Theater posted a video clip of a safe sex advertisement that ran on French television...an ad that wouldn't have a chance of airing on U.S. television.

When confronted with irrationality, it seems that I often turn to humor. Perhaps it helps diffuse the frustration. Regardless, a little laughter never hurts. The following is my own satirical tongue-in-cheek visual of an ad campaign that would stand a good chance of airing on CBS and Fox.

Devolve...Pray For A Miracle Every Time

Evangelical Brand Products

Daniel DiRito | June 18, 2007 | 3:31 PM | link | Comments (0)
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June 11, 2007

Ex-Gay's Call Gays Bigots - That Boat Won't Float genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

Switch

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), an organization opposed to homosexuality...and a copycat of PFLAG, an organization that supports the LGBT community...has voiced its support of President Bush's nominee for Surgeon General, James Holsinger. Holsinger has been involved with efforts to rid individuals of their homosexuality (reparative therapy) and he has written reports arguing that homosexuality is unnatural and leads to illness and disease.

The group accuses gay rights activists and organizations of bigotry because they refuse to endorse the ex-gay movement. Frankly, the story isn't even newsworthy except for the fact that it provides another opportunity to illustrate the hypocrisy that is the hallmark of these ideological fanatics.

From The Christian News Wire:

Ex-gays and Americans who support the right to self-determination of same-sex attraction are routinely ridiculed by the very people who claim to be victims themselves. "Gay activists lobby to be included in tolerance policies, hate crimes and employment non-discrimination legislation, but work hard to deny ex-gays the right to the same treatment," said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX. "This demonstrates how far the gay rights movement has moved from self-described victims to proactive perpetrators."

"Ex-gays should not have to be closeted for fear of other's negative reactions or disapproval," Griggs said. "They do not think something is wrong with them because they chose to fulfill their heterosexual potential. We need to ensure the safety, inclusion, and respect of former homosexuals in all realms of society, but especially by the medical and mental health communities starting at the highest levels."

"As a medical doctor, it seems Dr. Holsinger is aware that contrary to distortions by gay activists, no professional medical or mental health associations deny the right of any individual to seek support in resolving unwanted same-sex attractions." Griggs said. "Indeed, these associations adhere to a code of ethics which call for their members to support the client's right of self-determination."

"Americans need to face the growing issue of bigotry perpetrated upon ex-gays and their supporters. Gay activists cannot claim sympathy as victims when they attack ex-gays for political purposes of their own," said Griggs. "Tolerance is not a one-way street. All individuals with unwanted same-sex attractions deserve the right to self-determination and happiness based on their own needs, and not the political inconvenience of others."

Oh yes, they are simply promoting tolerance, happiness, and the "right to self-determination"...so long as one achieves that by denouncing one's homosexuality. In reality, gay organizations and activists oppose gay reparative therapy because it clearly uses religious doctrine against vulnerable individuals…and there is also no credible evidence that it can succeed in the long term. I'll co-opt the kind of lingo used against gays and suggest that, "We hate the sin removers, not the sinners".

Seriously, here's the deal. For years, these wing nuts have accused the gay community of recruiting heterosexuals to become gay...though they haven't provided a valid example of an organization that seeks to do anything of the sort. Truth be told, gay people have no need to recruit others; if someone is gay, they'll know it and, in virtually all instances, they will make their own decision to act upon their orientation. Nonetheless, these religious groups are adept at crafting misleading rhetoric to rally their supporters and suggest that gays have a "militant agenda".

In reality, it is groups like PFOX that recruit gays to denounce their homosexuality by using religious doctrine to guilt gays into undergoing tortured attempts to live heterosexual lives. So the bottom line is they accuse gays of the very thing in which they actively engage...arm twisting recruitment. It comes as no surprise...distortion is a way of life for these holier than thou hypocrites.

As I was thinking about the efforts to convert gays to become heterosexual, I recalled the 2004 presidential election campaign and the way the GOP seized upon John Kerry's comment that "he voted for the funding, before he voted against it". From that utterance forward, they set about portraying Kerry as a flip-flopper.

I guess flip-flopping is acceptable when it has to do with sexual orientation. It seems that these groups are no stranger to the art of nuance...the very concept they used to label and lambaste Kerry...but hey, they only avail themselves of it when it serves their agenda. I guess I just don't understand the rules.

Regardless, I'm afraid I can't support a group whose membership is made up of flip-floppers. I just can't take seriously someone who would say, "I was an active homosexual...before I was no longer one at all". I'm pretty certain this latest "gays are bigots swift boat" is manned by a crew that has donned its share of sailor outfits...but I'm betting it's also a few oars shy of sailing.

Image courtesy of www.waynebeesen.com

Daniel DiRito | June 11, 2007 | 9:25 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Sen. Brownback: On Managing Mommy's Uterus genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Sam Brownback

Kansas Senator and GOP presidential candidate, Sam Brownback not only opposes a woman’s right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy, he believes that if a man rapes a woman, she should still not be permitted to have an abortion. I must say I view his position to not only be insensitive, it borders on the absurd.

"Rape is terrible. Rape is awful. Is it made any better by killing an innocent child? Does it solve the problem for the woman that's been raped?" the Kansas Republican asked at the St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers gathering.

"We need to protect innocent life. Period," Brownback said, bringing the crowd of about 500 to its feet.

Brownback also talked about keeping marriage between a man and a woman, saying nations that have allowed same-sex marriages were engaging in bad social experiments, with bad results.

He also encouraged married couples to stay together, saying studies have shown that if couples weather hard times for five years, their marriages tend to last. After five years, "people are happier than those who have had a divorce," Brownback said.

It was not clear what research he was citing.

To demonstrate the absurdity, let me offer an example by way of another story recently in the headlines. Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Michael Vick, has been under investigation for his potential connection to raising and fighting dogs following a raid on a home he owns in Virginia. News reports describing the items found on the property included a device called a "rape stand"...basically a contraption to subdue a female dog in order to breed her with a male dog of the owners choosing in order to produce the desired offspring.

Vick's alleged involvement in breeding and fighting dogs has the potential to derail the stars football career and it certainly hasn't endeared him to animal rights advocates or football fans...in fact he could be charged with animal cruelty and given a prison sentence.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I equate Senator Brownback's perspective on the rights of a raped woman with that of a dog used by Michael Vick as breeding stock...and it has all the same elements of disregard and cruelty. To presume that a woman impregnated against her will in an act of violence should be required to birth the byproduct of that act is despicable.

In Senator Brownback's world of twisted rationale, I suppose women fearful of pregnancy by rape would be well advised to have themselves sterilized...since the mere fact that they are capable of reproduction places a burden upon them to rear any and all children that result from any and all acts of intercourse.

I wonder if Mr. Brownback would also support the notion that all men have chastity devices placed upon their genitalia in order to protect women from unwanted pregnancy. It only seems reasonable that sperm should be viewed as a weapon and regulated so long as some men use it to impregnate women against their will. Let's go a step further...why not make it a crime for men to masturbate...after all, aren't they destroying the very same sperm that could impregnate any fertile woman...whether she agrees or not?

Frankly, if a woman has no say over her reproductive system, then why should men have standing with regard to theirs? If all life is sacred, then lets prohibit male masturbation and begin the practice of putting men on "rape stands" in order to extract their sperm for women seeking to put their eggs to their proper use...making babies on demand...but let's give them control over men’s reproductive capacities...at least for the next 2000 years or so, OK? That sounds equitable to me.

Daniel DiRito | June 11, 2007 | 9:29 AM | link | Comments (4)
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June 9, 2007

GWB's AIDS Funding: Good News, Bad News genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

HIV Ribbon

The recent announcement that President Bush would seek to increase his Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to 30 billion dollars...doubling the prior 15 billion dollar commitment...is by and large a very positive development in the battle to combat the disease. The additional money should provide much needed medication for over a million infected individuals in Africa; doubling the number being treated with life saving drugs.

From WebMD:

The plan enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, which will ultimately decide how heavily to fund it in coming years. It remains unclear what programs Congress would cut to find an additional $15 billion, and the president on Wednesday made no suggestions in that regard.

The president urged Congress to move quickly on a bill reauthorizing the program, though lawmakers won't decide on actual funding levels until next year. Quick action would also allow Bush to leave a mark on the program before leaving office, rather than leaving it to his successor to shape the policy.

The bad news is found in the existing program details...which could well be included in the criteria for the additional funding. Current guidelines require that one third of all prevention funding must go to abstinence only programs...programs that haven't proven to be all that effective in preventing infections in countries where women often lack the autonomy to make their own decisions about sexual relations. Under theses circumstances, the distribution of condoms and thorough sex education seem more practical.

In fact, the recent evidence in Uganda suggests as much...though many of the proponents of abstinence programs disagree. A large number of the groups managing the abstinence programs are faith based organizations that have made their first forays into AIDS relief as a result of the new funding guidelines. No doubt they are motivated by ideological beliefs and financial incentives.

From The Bay Area Reporter:

"We continue to have grave concerns over the misguided restrictions on prevention funding," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. He urged Congress to lift the provision requiring that a third of all prevention funding go to abstinence-only programs "based purely on ideology, instead of proven science-based prevention strategies."

The Protection Against Transmission of HIV for Women and Youth Act of 2007 (HR 1713) would do just that by cutting the abstinence requirement. It was introduced by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut).

Anyone interested in understanding the people and the organizations behind abstinence funding should read Michael Reynolds article in The Nation titled The Abstinence Gluttons. They are a force to be reckoned with. Reynolds provides an in depth look at Raymond Ruddy, a prime mover in abstinence only programs and a long time supporter of George W. Bush.

Reynolds concludes that without congressional oversight, money will continue to flow into "Ruddy's extended family of antiabortion, anti-condom, anti-gay, abstinence-only Protestant evangelicals and Catholics--a radical consortium that threatens the health of millions." That would be more bad news.

Daniel DiRito | June 9, 2007 | 3:25 PM | link | Comments (0)
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June 7, 2007

GWB's Top 10 Reasons For His New Surgeon General genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

James W. Holsinger

I've got to hand it to the President...he is consistent. Unfortunately, it is that same consistency that has apparently led him to nominate James Holsinger to be the next Surgeon General. The only thing missing from Holsinger's resume is to have graduated from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Holsinger does have the requisite evangelical background...having once "presented "The Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality" in January 1991 to a United Methodist Church's committee to study homosexuality".

President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., wrote a paper in 1991 that purported to make the medical argument that homosexuality is unnatural and unhealthy. Doctors who reviewed the paper derided it as prioritizing political ideology over science, and Democratic aides on Capitol Hill say the paper will make his confirmation hearings problematic, if not downright bruising.

"A confirmation fight is exactly what the administration does not need," said David Gergen, a former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, who predicted the paper would cause a "minor storm" among Democrats on Capitol Hill.

"You have to wonder given the quality of some of the nominations that have gone forward recently, whether the selection group in the White House has gone on vacation," Gergen said. "There has been a growing criticism the administration favoring ideology over competence, and this nomination smacks of that."

Of course Gergen is right, but it should come as no surprise that this President would hold fast to his pattern of giving ideology, loyalty, and partisanship precedent over science, competence, and impartiality. Bush is apparently unaffected by the long list of questionable appointments that have resulted in extended periods of embarrassment and the need for tortured explanations.

In the context of the larger argument in his church as to whether homosexuality should be accepted, Holsinger presented a medical and scientific argument that anal intercourse was not natural.

"It's a totally faulty paper. The man doesn't know anything about human sexuality," said June M. Reinisch, Ph.D., director emeritus of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender & Reproduction. "There's clearly a political agenda in this paper. This is not a scientific paper."

Frankly, this is one of those situations when it’s difficult to view the actions of the Bush administration as anything more than a virtual goldmine for late night comedy material. It just goes to show that ideologues have no shame when it comes to attempting to prove and promote their beliefs...and that is particularly evident with regards to all things scientific. I realize it may be unfair to say this, but, in my opinion, it has all the makings of a pathology that might well warrant treatment.

The George W. Bush era reminds me of the wise words offered by Horace Mann in one of my favorite quotations, "We go by the major vote, and if the majority are insane, the sane must go to the hospital."

With that said, I offer my own version of comic relief in the form of the top ten reasons President Bush nominated James Holsinger to be the next Surgeon General:

Number 10:

If you’re a lame duck president, you might as well hire a quack to be Surgeon General...and he has the papers to prove it.

Number 9:

The President has always been fascinated with science…fiction.

Number 8:

Given the many new health threats in the world, this country needs a Surgeon General that will focus on the sexual practices of less than ten percent of the population.

Number 7:

If you’re going to be a president with your head up your ass, you need a doctor who has spent his career obsessing about what belongs in a man’s rectum.

Number 6:

It’s about time we had a Surgeon General that will address the real issues in the gay community…rectal lubrication and injury. This focus on HIV has been blown way out of proportion.

Number 5:

Everyone knows that George W is an “ass man".

Number 4:

Holsinger’s knowledge of "cornholing" might accelerate the administration’s efforts to expand the discovery and drilling of ethanol wells...What!?

Number 3:

Holsinger knows that the unnatural sex acts found in hetero porn are just acting…it's the real life unnatural sex acts which gays engage in that need to be eliminated.

Number 2:

Hey…the President likes this man’s way of thinking…the fact that he’s focused on ending man on man sex means he obviously knows there’s "nothing wrong with" or unnatural about a little old fashioned girl on girl action.

Number 1:

Holsinger’s knowledge of where a penis belongs should put an end to heterosexual men’s preoccupation with, and insistence upon, the unnatural practice of oral sex.

Bonus Reason For The Holsinger Nomination:

If Hillary and Bill make it back to the White House, someone will need to educate the former president on where to put his "stogy".

Image courtesy of Patti Longmire - Associated Press

Daniel DiRito | June 7, 2007 | 9:37 AM | link | Comments (0)
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