for the BIBLE tell me so

Via Shakespeare’s Sister:
for the BIBLE tell me so is an award-winning documentary that looks into scripture and “in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible.” Check here for a listing of current screening locations.

Continue Readingfor the BIBLE tell me so

Best Acceptance Speech Ever

“A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Can you believe this shit? Hell has frozen over. Suck it, Jesus, this award is my god now.” — Kathy Griffin, accepting an Emmy award for her show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.
Reportedly, the show will be censored to edit out part or all of Griffin’s acceptance speech after protests by Catholic League windbag, Bill Donohue. Once again, I’d like to say – Bill, go fuck yourself. Asshole.

Continue ReadingBest Acceptance Speech Ever

America’s Toe-Tapping Menace

From the opinion page of the New York Times, a piece by Laura M. MacDonald:

WHAT is shocking about Senator Larry Craig’s bathroom arrest is not what he may have been doing tapping his shoe in that stall, but that Minnesotans are still paying policemen to tap back. For almost 40 years most police departments have been aware of something that still escapes the general public: men who troll for sex in public places, gay or “not gay,” are, for the most part, upstanding citizens. Arresting them costs a lot and accomplishes little.
In 1970, Laud Humphreys published the groundbreaking dissertation he wrote as a doctoral candidate at Washington University called “Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places.” Because of his unorthodox methods — he did not get his subjects’ consent, he tracked down names and addresses through license plate numbers, he interviewed the men in their homes in disguise and under false pretenses — “Tearoom Trade” is now taught as a primary example of unethical social research.
That said, what results! In minute, choreographic detail, Mr. Humphreys (who died in 1988) illustrated that various signals — the foot tapping, the hand waving and the body positioning — are all parts of a delicate ritual of call and answer, an elaborate series of codes that require the proper response for the initiator to continue. Put simply, a straight man would be left alone after that first tap or cough or look went unanswered.
Why? The initiator does not want to be beaten up or arrested or chased by teenagers, so he engages in safeguards to ensure that any physical advance will be reciprocated. As Mr. Humphreys put it, “because of cautions built into the strategies of these encounters, no man need fear being molested in such facilities.”
Mr. Humphreys’s aim was not just academic: he was trying to illustrate to the public and the police that straight men would not be harassed in these bathrooms. His findings would seem to suggest the implausibility not only of Senator Craig’s denial — that it was all a misunderstanding — but also of the policeman’s assertion that he was a passive participant. If the code was being followed, it is likely that both men would have to have been acting consciously for the signals to continue.
Mr. Humphreys broke down these transactions into phases, which are remarkably similar to the description of Senator Craig’s behavior given by the police. First is the approach: Mr. Craig allegedly peeks into the stall. Then comes positioning: he takes the stall next to the policeman. Signaling: Senator Craig allegedly taps his foot and touches it to the officer’s shoe, which was positioned close to the divider, then slides his hand along the bottom of the stall. There are more phases in Mr. Humphreys’s full lexicon — maneuvering, contracting, foreplay and payoff — but Mr. Craig was arrested after the officer presumed he had “signaled.”
Clearly, whatever Mr. Craig’s intentions, the police entrapped him. If the police officer hadn’t met his stare, answered that tap or done something overt, there would be no news story. On this point, Mr. Humphreys was adamant and explicit: “On the basis of extensive and systematic observation, I doubt the veracity of any person (detective or otherwise) who claims to have been ‘molested’ in such a setting without first having ‘given his consent.’ ”
As for those who feel that a family man and a conservative senator would be unlikely to engage in such acts, Mr. Humphreys’s research says otherwise. As a former Episcopal priest and closeted gay man himself, he was surprised when he interviewed his subjects to learn that most of them were married; their houses were just a little bit nicer than most, their yards better kept. They were well educated, worked longer hours, tended to be active in the church and the community but, unexpectedly, were usually politically and socially conservative, and quite vocal about it.
In other words, not only did these men have nice families, they had nice families who seemed to believe what the fathers loudly preached about the sanctity of marriage. Mr. Humphreys called this paradox “the breastplate of righteousness.” The more a man had to lose by having a secret life, the more he acquired the trappings of respectability: “His armor has a particularly shiny quality, a refulgence, which tends to blind the audience to certain of his practices. To others in his everyday world, he is not only normal but righteous — an exemplar of good behavior and right thinking.”
Mr. Humphreys even anticipated the vehement denials of men who are outed: “The secret offender may well believe he is more righteous than the next man, hence his shock and outrage, his disbelieving indignation, when he is discovered and discredited.”
This last sentence brings to mind the hollow refutations of figures at the center of many recent public sex scandals, heterosexual and homosexual, notably Representative Mark Foley, the Rev. Ted Haggard, Senator David Vitter and now Senator Craig. The difference is that Larry Craig was arrested.
Public sex is certainly a public nuisance, but criminalizing consensual acts does not help. “The only harmful effects of these encounters, either direct or indirect, result from police activity,” Mr. Humphreys wrote. “Blackmail, payoffs, the destruction of reputations and families, all result from police intervention in the tearoom scene.” What community can afford to lose good citizens?
And for our part, let’s stop being so surprised when we discover that our public figures have their own complex sex lives, and start being more suspicious when they self-righteously denounce the sex lives of others.

Continue ReadingAmerica’s Toe-Tapping Menace

Joss Whedon on the “Honor” Killing of Dua Khalil

Joss Whedon recently wrote a long piece about the “Honor” Killing of Dua Khalil, and asked that it be posted on Whedonesque, an unofficial fan site of his work. I haven’t written anything about this event, although I read about it on several blogs, because it’s the kind of occurrence that leaves me chilled with anguish and a feeling of helplessness, and deep, biting anger. I don’t know what to do with those feelings, so I try to get past them and move on. After reading what he wrote, I realize that’s the wrong response. What he wrote is pretty great – in short, it’s a plea to support equality now – and I’m completely lifting it and quoting it here, after the jump:

Continue ReadingJoss Whedon on the “Honor” Killing of Dua Khalil

Unitarians at Arlington National Cemetery

Stephanie had some interesting news from her family today – Years ago when her Opa was interred at Arlington National Cemetery, his headstone was configured with the flaming chalice – the Unitarian Universalist symbol. Later her Oma was buried next to him, and recently her cousin Chip went out to visit them, and the flaming chalice had been changed – to a cross. According to Stephanie’ mom, it’s a wonder both of them didn’t rise up to protest; they were both devote Unitarians. Apparently her Stephanie’s Aunt Penny is going to take charge and make a big fuss about it to get it changed back to the appropriate symbol.

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My Past Falwell Greatest Hits

Joke posts about Falwell I posted in the past that are getting traffic now that he’s died. No guarantees on the quality of the jokes…

The Theological Significance of Tinky Winky

5 Reasons Tinky Winky Can’t Be Gay

The Top 13 Reasons Jerry Falwell Thinks Your Favorite TV Character is Gay

The Batty Hymn of the Repugnant

Top Ten Jerry Falwell Pet Peeves About TV

And while we’re at it, some of Jerry’s Actual Greatest Hits—quotes from the man himself.

“AIDS is God’s punishment to gays.” – Jerry Falwell

“If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.”

“I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!”

“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”

“There is no separation of church and state. Modern US Supreme Courts have raped the Constitution and raped the Christian faith and raped the churches by misinterpreting what the Founders had in mind in the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

“AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers.”

“Textbooks are Soviet propaganda.”

“The whole (global warming) thing is created to destroy America’s free enterprise system and our economic stability.”

“(9/11 is the result of) throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad…I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America…I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen.”

“The idea that religion and politics don’t mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.”

“It appears that America’s anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying, thank God, and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men’s movement which may become the foundation for a desperately needed national spiritual awakening.”

“When lawlessness is abroad in the land, the same thing will happen here that happened in Nazi Germany. Many of those people involved in Adolph Hitler were Satanists. Many of them were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together.” – 700 Club, 1-21-93
“You know, one of the great misnomers in our society is the term `gay.’ That somebody who is involved in something that is leading to suicide, where the V.D. rate is 11 times that of others, which are almost driven and ashamed and fearful and confused and psychotic and all the others that we read about plaguing this part of our society. The term gay is the most serious misuse of the English language. They’re not gay, they’re very, very depressed and miserable.” – 700 Club, 5-6-82

“When you see the rise of blatant open homosexuality and lesbianism, what you also know is God has given a society up…and we’re at the mercy of the elements, the mercy of war, the mercy of economic disaster.” – 700 Club, 4-26-93

“The radical left is doing everything they can to destroy the moral fiber of America. They want to do away with the family. I am absolutely persuaded one of the reasons so many lesbians are at the forefront of the pro-choice movement is because being a mother is the unique characteristic of womanhood, and these lesbians will never be mothers naturally, so they don’t want anybody else to have that privilege either.” – 700 Club, 5-18-93

“[Vice President Gore] recently praised the lesbian actress who plays ‘Ellen’ on ABC Television…I believe he may even put children, young people, and adults in danger by his public endorsement of deviant homosexual behavior…Our elected leaders are attempting to glorify and legitimize perversion.” People for the American Way, “Hostile Climate”, 1998

Continue ReadingMy Past Falwell Greatest Hits

Thoughts on the Jesus MCC Bilboard Campaign

Awhile back, I wrote about the second part of Jesus MCC’s anti-discrimination campaign here in Indianapolis, involving six provocative billboards. At the time, I said “I like it!” without putting a whole lot of thought into the matter.

Soon after that, I caught sight of one of the billboards, at 38th and College. I have to admit, it’s pretty impressive live.

billboard at 38th and college

Then Scott posted a more thoughtful response on his blog (in part):

However, the Bible IS open to interpretation, so I guess if the straight fundies are going to use it to diminish the gays, then the gay fundies have every right to use the same tool. And on the heels of solid activism that led to the stalling of SJR-7, our state’s anti-gay marriage amendment, I’m glad to see that this gay community is finally waking up and getting a little bit loud, even if some of it is being done through a church. At least there’s movement here.

Still, I can’t imagine that there’s going to be a winner in this argument, MCC isn’t going to change the minds of the likes of Miller, Bosma, Hershman, [insert name of favorite republican fundie here]. Instead, they’re either going to be even more pissed off at us or just dismiss it right from the start. And that makes me ask: What’s the point?

And after considering his thoughts, I commented there with this:

You gave this much more thought than I did – I saw the billboards and thought “Ha! That’s such a strange interpretation. That’ll piss off the fundies!”

I think there’s some value in it because it re-frames some of the debate in radically different ways, and puts the Miller crowd in the position of defending their interpretation of the bible rather than constantly using it as a weapon.

For people who think the bible is set in stone and their interpretation is the only one that exists, the idea that someone can read something different in the bible is a big problem. It’s easy for them to bash atheists – we’re just sinners. But forcing examination of scripture is something else.

Similar to what happened with SJR-7 – we were able to shift the debate about the amendment from “gays are immoral” to “that second paragraph is deeply flawed” and the fundies suddenly had to play defense – something they clearly aren’t used to and don’t know how to do.

Then for those of us who are non-believers in Christianity, we have a role to play also – in pointing out that we don’t believe in their imaginary bearded friend in the sky, and no one can make us.

Not long after that, the two of the six billboards around town were vandalized – as Bilerico and numerous sites have reported.

Defaced Jesus MCC Billboard

Indyness recently posted her thoughts on the Jesus MCC billboards – she’s very critical of the project, and it made me consider the whole matter more closely, which I’m very grateful for.

First, this campaign goes way beyond sparking debate. The minister has written a book on this subject and clearly has an agenda to push and a book to sell. He’s using the church as his platform. I hope the church signed up for this. I bet his publisher is ecstatic.

Second, there are many people in this church who are desperately seeking approval. For them, that’s what this campaign is about. Not debate. It’s about “Please, please, please accept me”. I think that the church and the community needs to address this psychological state that some members of the community find themselves in. Personally, I’m not begging for acceptance from anyone. I’m a productive member of society. That should be enough.

Third, I’m concerned about the safety of the members of this church. This church has made itself a target by doing this campaign. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take risks. I just hope that everybody realizes what they signed up for…

Indyness’ point about the minister writing a book is a new to me, and something I didn’t realize, although I don’t know that it would especially bother me – the potential market for his book is pretty limited, frankly. I’m not going to run out and get a copy because of this campaign, and I doubt Eric Miller will, either. Even if the whole campaign is just a cynical ploy to sell books, it advances my agenda, so I can’t complain.

I’m not interested in getting anyone’s acceptance. My concern is this house. Despite our careful financial and legal arrangements, if something happened to me, Stephanie would be forced to sell this house to pay off the taxes on my estate, and she would lose much of my assets that are left to her, and possibly part of her own – all because we aren’t able to get legally married. That PISSES ME OFF. It’s just not fair. My hard work should count as much as any heterosexual person’s – I worked to get this money, and my wife should be able to keep it, the same as any heterosexual person.

(Even when I explain this to my understanding, pro-gay heterosexual friends, they don’t understand it. I have to go over it again and again – when the light bulb finally goes on and they understand, the realization is amazing to them. I’m astonished that even the most liberal, pro-gay people don’t really get this point. They think the whole gay marriage drive is just about doing the right thing – they really have no idea there are tangible benefits to getting married that they enjoy and we don’t.)

The reason all of this could occur is because some asshats with their arbitrary religious rules have control of the statehouse, and they’re able to use their Bible as a weapon. I’m interested in taking that weapon away from them. Anything that challenges the lock that religion has on our legal system in this state is okay by me, even if it’s coming from the direction of challenging their belief system itself.

I know that just being a productive member of society should be enough, but if logic came into it, homophobia and religious nutiness would have disappeared long ago.

I know a few Jesus MCC members, but not as close friends, so I can’t say what their motivations are; I don’t know if they’re desperately seeking acceptance or not. I also can’t say whether they know what they’re in for with this campaign. The two members I know best are Zach and Chris – and Zach was an IYG member many years ago when I was a volunteer for that organization. From some general statements Zach has made, I have a good idea that he’s seen his fair share of homophobia, and isn’t exactly a babe in the woods.

I’m very glad that Scott and Indyness thought about this more carefully and thoroughly than I did, even though I might disagree with them on some points. I glossed over the whole thing in a pretty flip way, which was pretty cavalier of me.

Continue ReadingThoughts on the Jesus MCC Bilboard Campaign

Another Indiana Hate Crime Death

From WTHR, a story on a man who was beaten to death in Crothersville, Indiana because his attackers thought he was gay:

Aggravated Assault in a Vehicle, honor killing and hate crimes are increasing day by day. Police found Aaron Hall’s badly beaten body hidden inside a garage on Sunday. Charged in connection with the murder were 19-year-old Garrett Gray, 18-year-old Coleman King and 21-year-old Robert Hendricks. Police made the arrests after receiving a tip from Garrett Gray’s friend.

The tipster got a multi-media text message on his cell phone from the suspects. In the photo, Aaron Hall appeared with the suspects’ arms around him. Hall had a swollen lip, a black eye, and appeared badly beaten.

Police say on April 12th, Hall and the three suspects were drinking at Gray’s house. The suspects told police Hall grabbed Coleman King and questioned his sexuality. That set off the deadly beating.

“And they’re saying what’s why they killed him. Because he was gay. And he wasn’t gay,” said Thomas Hall. “I don’t know any crime on the planet that deserves that type of punishment.”

A few drug crimes attorneys called it a brutal crime. Court papers show Gray and King brutally attacked, then photographed Hall. King hit him with his boots at least 75 times. The suspects told police they dragged Hall down the steps, loaded him into Robert Hendricks’ truck, and dumped his body in a ditch. They say they went back two days later, and found Hall in a nearby field. That’s when they tell police they wrapped the body in a tarp and hid it in Gray’s garage.

The homicide has left Aaron Hall’s family horrified.

As pointed out by several local websites and criminal justice lawyers in LA, this year’s state legislature chose to kill off a hate crimes bill that would have ensured this man’s attackers received just punishment for their bias-motivated crime.

Coverage on Advance Indiana
Coverage on Bilerico
Coverage on Shakespeare’s Sister

Continue ReadingAnother Indiana Hate Crime Death

Indiana Intolerance – Day of Silence Leads to Anti-Gay Bomb Threats

The “National Day of Silence” is an annual, nationwide school event designed to bring attention to the bullying, harassment and violence directed at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered kids in school settings. I’ve tried to mention it mentioned the event the past couple of years here to promote what I think is a worthwhile event. This years’ event was yesterday. In New Castle, Indiana, the event lead to bomb threats and other violent threats, so the school had to be locked down:

But the silent protest brought threats of weapons and violence at New Castle Chrysler High School. School leaders learned of the threat with a phone call Tuesday “from someone who identified himself as a parent who said their child came home and said they heard there was going to be some violence at the school today. It gave us concern that maybe we needed to step up security a little bit today to make sure the students would be safe,” said John Newby, New Castle Schools superintendent.

From the start of class, the school went into complete lockdown for the entire day.

“They took us all to the fieldhouse and we sat there for like two hours. They took us one by one and they scanned us with metal detectors,” said Skylar Ward, student.

In the past I called protestors against the Day of Silence what I believe they are – Christian terrorists (See “Bash a Fag For Jesus“) – turns out my words are quite accurate. On the heels of the Virginia Tech tragedy, this is pretty telling about what people in Indiana are like: homophobic and violent.

Continue ReadingIndiana Intolerance – Day of Silence Leads to Anti-Gay Bomb Threats