The Creeps Have Got The Money

12 05 2011

Having just researched and written an article for Out In Jersey about the mysterious influx of anonymous major funding to anti-gay Family Policy Councils around the nation, I decided to explore the website of our local New Jersey band of true believers, The NJ Family Policy Council. This holy 0f holies, headed by a fat, smarmy little creep named Len Deo who has way-too-shiny hair and wears cheap suits, has been in the forefront of opposition to queer rights right from the start. Every legislative hearing here in Trenton on any bill having to do with LGBT issues sees Lenny and his little band, including such characters as Sharia, “some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay” Rien- a woman whose hairdresser is clearly either sociopathic or is deliberately doing her a disservice (in fact it has occurred to me that the dead haystack on top of her head may well be the work of a gay hairdresser getting in a little revenge on behalf of queers everywhere – if so, you go girl!) working the Statehouse corridors. Among my fondest memories is the day the NJ Supreme Court decision favoring same-sex marriage was announced and Lenny marched out of the Justice Building as if he was a state official, taking charge of the public microphone and podium that had been provided and attempting to make an announcement twisting the decision back -to-front to make it seem as if we had lost. Yours Truly was able to immediately start a shout-down, picked up by the wonderful students from The College of New Jersey who were there in force, that denied him the moment and prevented the media there present from recording a sound bite that would no doubt have been played on the evening news. Call me petty but it was a moment I enjoyed.

Reading through the NJFPC website, I discovered the reason why Lenny is such a dick. God told him to do this. The site makes it clear that there are “moral absolutes” in this universe, handed down by God and hence, unalterable. This is the foundation of everything the NJFPCers believe. From this flows their self-awarded mandate to re-structure society, by law, along the lines of Christian fundamentalism. What are these moral absolutes? They are selected notionally from the King James Bible and the various modern translations that have flowed from it. A proscription on eating shellfish is evidently not a moral absolute – nor is wearing a garment of mixed thread, even though Leviticus puts those matters on the same footing as same-sex relationships. How, then, do the folks of NJFPC know that same-sex relationships ARE an absolute moral no-no? We can only presume they have received a special memo from God telling them which of the proscribed activities listed in the Bible are to be taken seriously and which may be safely ignored. People who think (or claim) that God is giving them special instructions are either put in rubber rooms or they become evangelists or right-wing politicians – depending on how their PR is handled.

It is difficult for us to take such people seriously and therein is their true strength. In the U.S. today, these people are as serious as a heart attack. NJFPC has almost a million and a half dollars to devote to fighting our civil rights and even perhaps to roll back what we have already gained. They have a good friend in our present asshole of a governor and that’s an advantage they do not want to waste. We can assume a sizable part of the million and a half is going to anti-gay candidates for the legislature in the coming election. Our own state-wide organization, Garden State Equality, doesn’t have anything like that kind of money and in politics, money talks in a loud voice.

The poisonous acid of Christian fundamentalism is eating away at democracy everywhere in this country. A look at the present slate of contenders for the Republican nomination for President is truly scary. Mike Huckabee is one of the most chilling examples. In March he made a speech to a room full of fanatic Christian supporters calling for all citizens to be indoctrinated in revisionist “historian” David Barton’s imaginary, Christian-centered version of U.S. history “at gun point if necessary (applause) and I think our country would be better for it.” Huckabee is an ordained Baptist minister. Now, I have nothing against Baptists except that when they do that full immersion baptism routine, they don’t hold them under long enough. However, Huckabee represents the world the people of the NJFPC wish to bring into being. It is a world where science, reason and facts are obsolete – a world in which reality is determined by the fantasies of “the chosen” and is imposed on the rest of us “at gun point.” It is a world in which “moral absolutes” take no account of differing opinions or beliefs – a world in which democracy exists in name only.

The right-wing embrace of David Barton is an excellent example of how little facts matter to these people. Barton has absolutely NO scholarly credentials whatever – no advanced degrees, no college or university position, no standing in the academic community at all. And yet he is touted as a “scholar” by Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Fox News and others. Does one have to have such credentials to be a serious scholar? Not necessarily. In the 18th Century, Edward Gibbon who likewise had no advanced degrees or university position, wrote what is possibly the greatest historical work of all time – The Decline And Fall of The Roman Empire. The difference is that Gibbon really was a scholar. His massive erudition is evident throughout his work and it has stood the test of time, endorsed by generations of scholars and academics. Barton however simply makes up his material as he goes along. His contention that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation and the separation of church and state is a liberal myth is so easily refutable by reference to documentation and original sources that it would be a joke if it wasn’t being accepted wholesale such as the NJFPC and tea party Republicans all over the country. we see again that facts don’t matter when stacked up against a really good fantasy.

These people are dangerous. Their mind-set is the same as the one that produced fascisim. In fact it was Dr. Gobbels who said “if you tell a big enough lie often enough, people will believe it.” This is a lesson our enemies have learned well. They may be funny-looking, unfashionable and creepy but they have a lot of money and a lot of support. The war is not only not over – it may have barely begun.

The Royal Wedding

7 04 2011

Jeff Edelstein, columnist at the Trentonian, has in the April 6 issue provided us with just about the most snarky, kill-joy, spoil-sport, lets-rain-on-the parade piece on nincompoopery I have encountered since reading the Republican Party Platform in the last election. ( See this link – go to opinion and see column on the wedding)  Worse – he has his facts wrong.  In fairness, he does say “maybe I’m a cynical, jaded whiner…” No maybe about it Jeff – you are and you don’t know what your writing about.

To begin with, you say “does anyone really give a ….about this?” Clearly a great many people do care about it very much indeed, if sales of souvenir coffee mugs, TV time and special editions of magazines are any clue. The royal establishment is a fairy tale brought to life – an ancient institution of mysterious customs, fabulous costumes and grand ceremonial. It brings some color and some dreams into ordinary lives and is a great deal more interesting than a boring president in a dark suit or a bunch of wrangling politicians.  Edelstein goes on to write “the whole point of the Revolutionary War was to get out from under the King of England.” Wrong. Poor George III had little to do with the whole affair. The point of the Revolution was to liberate the wealthy landed aristocracy and New England merchant class from having to pay their fair share of taxes resulting from the expense of the French & Indian War. England sent troops here to defend those very classes, at the request of those classes and then got struck with the bill. The most famous of the taxes was the one on tea. Tea was a very expensive commodity at that time and only the rich drank the real thing. There is considerable doubt that the revolution would have been supported by a popular vote and in fact, such a vote was never taken. Further, over 50,000 loyalists fled the colonies rather than abandon their allegiance to the crown.

Edelstein’s next bone-headed remark is “and it’s not like they have any real power anyway, these so-called royals. Seems to me they have about as much pull as I do.” One hardly knows where to begin with such a breath-taking display of raw ignorance. Being a so-called journalist here in Trenton, New Jersey, there is no particular reason why Edelstein should know anything about the English constitutional system and he convincingly shows us he does not. Let’s start with the “so-called royals” snark. The British Royal Family, through various “houses” and branches traces its monarchial lineage all the way back to Cerdic, an ancient Saxon king who was himself supposed to be the son of the god Wotan – in other words the line goes back into the mists of myth thousands of years ago. Only the Imperial Family of Japan is older. That is about as legit as you can get in this world and the “so-called” remark illustrates nothing but the petty envy of the lower bourgeoise.

As for power – The Queen has what are known as the residual powers. These are powers that are very real though seldom exercised. The oaths of officers the armed forces (except the Air Force) are sworn to the person of the sovereign, not to the government. In other words, the army and navy take orders from Her Majesty. Normally of course, military affairs are not handled that way but push come to shove, everyone knows to whom those oaths were sworn. Does Edelstein have an army and a navy that swears their oath to him? I’m not familiar with the power structure at The Trentonian but I don’t think he even controls the newsboys.

Another power is that the Queen can veto legislation. It hasn’t been done since Queen Ann in 1702 but it has been threatened more than once and in modern times too. The Queen can dismiss parliament and the Prime Minister and call for a new election. That too has not been done in a very long time but has been privately threatened during certain situations such as the Curragh Crisis in the 1920s. There are other powers as well but perhaps most important is the fact that the government MUST keep the Queen informed and MUST listen to her advice whether or not the advice is taken. The monarch is the ultimate protector of the liberties of the people against the possibility of a dictatorship. When we look at Washington D.C. today and contemplate the lunacy of the Tea Party Republicans we must wonder if a king might not be a better idea.

Next Edelstein gives vent to an envious rant about the wealth of the Royal Family. Are you missing any meals Jeff? No? Then what’s it to you? If your family had stayed in one place and carefully husbanded their resources for one or two thousand years, you too might have a bit more than a mortgage and a bag full of grocery coupons – but alas, such is not the case. Much of the wealth of the royal family is in the form of palaces and art collections that would have to be maintained as museums anyway. The famous crown jewels are state property, not the property of The Queen. Further, the monarchy is one of the world’s great tourist attractions and turns a profit for England just by existing.

Sorry to disappoint you Jeff Edelstein but April 29 will not bring a “giant yawn.” It will open a window of magic, pageantry and mystical magnificence for a fascinated world – doing for grown-ups what Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty did for us as children. For those few moments, fairy tales will be real and the world will be a place of colorful wonder. Only the most spiteful and meanest of curmudgeons would begrudge us that brief surcease from the daily grind of disasters, hate-spewing fundamentalists and idiot tea partiers.

Letter To Senator Gillibrand

5 11 2010

From: Tobias Grace, editor, Out In Jersey magazine <>

To: Sen. Gillibrand & Staff

Senator: You are of course, well aware of the on-going vigil outside your Manhattan office. I wonder however, if you have given full and appropriate weight to its most recent escalation; the fast undertaken by Alan Bounville. As both the editor of the region’s largest LGBT magazine and as someone who is proud to claim Alan as a personal friend, I urge and plead that you will view his action with the utter seriousness it merits. This is neither a joke nor a “scare” tactic. It is precisely what Alan has stated it to be. Be assured he will indeed carry this action through to its ultimate conclusion regardless of his own fate. That conclusion can be none other than his fading into death, such is his dedication to achieving equality.

You do not know Alan personally but I do. He is a person whose beauty of spirit and selfless dedication to the welfare of others are treasures our benighted old world can ill afford to lose. To lose him for want of a few words from yourself would be a tragedy both profound and inexplicable.

Without being presumptuous, I hope I may be permitted to point out that, with the campaign over and your victory sealed, it is time to act on the fine words and noble sentiments that ornament a political campaign – time to show the sincere concern for the well-being of your constituents you have advertised – time to show that the queer community is not merely a source of votes but is also the object of your very real concern.

If your advisors have told you to ignore the vigil, as it seems they have, do not permit them to also blind you to Alan’s fast. It would be a mistake both morally and politically. As a life-long student of history, I can absolutely assure you that if indeed this fast goes unabated, you, personally and your career as a legislator will be remembered not for whatever your accomplishments may be but for the fact that a beautiful young man chose to die on your doorstep rather than live in a world that relegated him and those like him to second class status as citizens and that you could have prevented it but did not.

Our publication will be watching and reporting on your actions in this matter – or lack thereof. We hope you do the right thing – for your own sake as well as Alan’s.

Sincerely, Tobias Grace, Out In Jersey magazine
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that enough good men do nothing” Edmund Burke

On The Use of Public Office

17 09 2010

When the list of truly reptilian public prosecutors is drawn up – ones with absolutely no humanity, no spark of kindness visible anywhere, Manhattan DA Cy Vance is going to be on it. It will be a rather long list. It will include the one’s who co-operated with the infamous “hanging” Judge Jeffreys, the French Reign of Terror’s Committee of Public Safety, those who ran the courts for Stalin and Hitler – and we haven’t even touched on the South American dictatorships. More than a list, it will be a heavy volume of names of men (it’s almost always men) who, for reasons ranging from venality to fear for their own safety, abandoned any claim to simple human decency – prosecuting the weak, the helpless and the outspoken.

Cy Vance has no access to the hangman’s noose but he does the best he can with the tools available. He has brought the full weight of those tools to bear on one of New York’s most respected and beloved activists. Kate Barnhart. Kate is executive director of New Alternatives For Homeless LGBT Youth, an East Village program now serving several hundred homeless kids with GED and SAT programs, food, help with housing and benefits and most important – a little love; a commodity most of these kids have had in short supply. What are the lives of these kids ordinarily like? Perhaps this poem can express it better than a volume of prose:

No One’s Child

In the darkness of the doorways,

Underneath the aging piers,

Hides a child of the rainbow,

Growing old beyond his years.

Furtive, living in the shadows,

Dancing sometimes with the moon,

Darkness is his best companion,

Fantasy his dish and spoon.

They who made him, turned against him,

He was different, so they said.

Somehow, those who should have loved him

Decided he was better dead.

Now he sleeps with rags or lechers,

Home is only in his dreams,

Hoping that the men who pay him

Might hear the silence of his screams.

We can’t hear unless we listen,

We can’t see with eyes we’ve closed.

We can cross the street and hasten,

But he is not what we’ve supposed.

A word in kindness could be offered,

Not expecting a return,

though kindness seems a thing most often

Quite difficult for us to learn.

Easier by far to judge him,

Hustler trash on midnight street,

Love is just a ghost behind him,

Ever more distant, dim and fleet.

Where will you go now, no one’s child?

What to do if they won’t pay?

There’s no more path for you to follow,

Your tomorrows are yesterday.

Formerly director of Sylvia’s Place, a shelter for homeless LGBT kids at New York’s Metropolitan Community Church, Kate has devoted her life to this cause with a selflessness that puts even the most charitable among us to shame. To really comprehend this, one needs to understand that this is most assuredly not nine to five work. Kate is on duty 24-7. Her cell phone can and does ring at any time of the day or night, weekends and holidays included, with a desperate call from a kid in trouble. That kid will NOT get a recording suggesting he or she call back during office hours. The kid will reach Kate and, depend upon it (as these kids do) Kate will do her best to deal with the problem. She won’t wait until Monday morning. She will do it at once as best she can. This is not new. Kate has been the abiding rock for these kids to grasp for many years, as the dark tides of fear, exploitation and helplessness threaten to pull them into a maelstrom of destruction such as only the underworld of as big city can produce. Kate has been at it long enough now to see the results – kids in college and doing well, kids who have jobs and apartments, kids who have hope where there once was none.

One boy who is now in college as a result of Kate’s help said to me ” Kate? She’s the most wonderful person in the whole world.” Well, there are some pretty wonderful people in this tired old world and Kate may or may not be the most wonderful but as sure as death and taxes, she is on the short list. Kate accomplishes all of this on top of caring for an aged father and battling her own quite serious health problems. If justice was served, she would be brought down to City Hall in a limo to receive a medal from the mayor. Instead of that, she received a subpoena from Cy Vance. The reason why is detailed in the story on our website. No doubt Vance can present a legal platform on which to rest his effort to prosecute Kate. You don’t get to be a DA without the skills to fabricate logic out of the treacle and sludge of the language of the law. However, when a servant of the law departs from the spirit to gain advantage from the letter, he betrays his descent into self-interest, self-promotion, service to special interests and hidden agendas. He has departed from the spirit of justice and entered the dark realm wherein the law is used as a tool to abuse the poor and the weak for the advantage of the powerful. So it is with Cy Vance.

Damaged and threatened from within though this nation is however, it is still a democracy and ordinary people are not entirely without resources. To begin with, it will be very interesting to see where Cy Vance’s campaign contributions come from. Are there significant contributions from the health care industry or its employees? Have an unusual number of executives of Aetna Insurance decided to support the electoral process by writing checks to the Vance campaign chest? We’d really like to know – just idle curiosity of course. Call us cynical and suspicious if you will but a more thorough waste of tax dollars than Vance’s effort to re-instate previously dismissed charges stemming from a life-saving demonstration at Aetna’s offices, conducted peacefully AND on a public right-of-way is very difficult to imagine. What then is the real agenda here?

Note to Cy Vance: we’re not all complete idiots out here in the land of the little people. Some of us have that really scary thing called a brain – one that has had the advantage of an education that trained us to spot bullshit when it is shoved under our noses. Our noses are twitching Vance old man – twitching hard. We smell BS and we smell a scumbag. Have you showered recently?

Link to the story

Link to video of demonstration in support of Kate

The Snake Oil Show Hits Trenton

21 07 2010
Hundreds of GSE supporters leaving the Statehouse Annex


                                                                                                                          NOM’s fake family pics 








The July 20 Garden State Equality rally held at New Jersey’s historic Capitol building to counter the Jersey performance of National Organization for Marriage’s traveling dog and pony show revealed a number of interesting comparisons and a few insights. Most obvious were the numbers. Even on the small plaza in front of the Capitol – hardly more than an extra-wide sidewalk, NOM’s pathetic little crowd looked like a spoonfull of peas clustered on a pool table while GSE packed the huge Committee Room 6  in the Statehouse Annex with as many as 200 supporters.  


The differences were in far more than numbers. First lets consider appearance. The crowd at the GSE event was a cross-section of middle America – working and middle class families, lots of adorable kids, college students, professional people, the elderly, moms with infants in strollers, dads with a five or six-year-old in tow who urgently needed the men’s room – in short, a more “normal” American crowd would be hard to find. One looked in vain for stereotypes – men in leather – queens in outrageous make-up – and one found none. This was serious business, not party time or a costume event, and the demeanor of the crowd reflected that. NOM evidently had a different take on the day. Behind the speaker’s podium on the Capitol’s front steps stood a line of a half dozen middle aged men dressed in matching formal evening clothes – white summer dinner jackets, formal trousers with satin stripe, black bow tie and vest, looking like they were about to burst into a kick line singing “You’re the top, you’re the tower of Pizza, you’re the top, you’re the Mona Lisa” at any moment. Seeing this production-number- evidently-in-the-offing, some passersby understandably assumed that the NOM event as actually a gay demo. Not only did NOM apparently think a musical comedy atmosphere appropriate to an event that had to do with people’s civil rights, they are also clearly unaware that any etiquette book you care to consult will tell you formal evening clothes are never worn before 6 PM – but then, manners have never been NOM’s strong suit. Good manners blend poorly with a long history of lies and cover-ups.
Moving away from the speaker’s platform toward the fringe of what with notable generosity we can refer to as NOM’s “crowd,” we find the weirdness index climbing off the chart. Moving past the gnarled old ladies with too much make-up, the hairdos right out of 1970, and the fat men in cheap, garish, sport shirts, we come to the most bizarre entry in NOM’s freak fest. This would be the three ultra-orthodox rabbis  in full Hasidic regalia, looking exactly as if a time machine had just delivered them from a Polish ghetto of 1850, holding up large signs detailing how God hates gays and we are all going to burn. Anyone silly enough to try to engage this trio in debate was informed gays were responsible for every disaster from hurricanes to economic meltdowns. A more encyclopedic diatribe of hate would be hard to create. Let us put PC considerations aside for a moment and speak plainly; the ultra orthodox Jews follow a religious path most us would consider to be very strange indeed. That’s not a problem in our nation of universal toleration. Hey – I’m a Wiccan and a lot of people think that is even stranger. The saving grace of the Orthodox, traditionally, has always been that they do not try to force their beliefs on anyone else. This is the American way. Freedom of religion means freedom for me from your religion and vice-versa. The three rabbis constituted a comic but pointed illustration of how NOM’s supporters utterly fail to comprehend this basic tradition of our nation. Your religious beliefs – my religious beliefs – are just that; personal beliefs, not the law of the land. 
Next let’s consider the props – the event staging. GSE’s rally was certainly well-organized and provided with suitable printed signs and displays. It had what was needed and no more than that. It was “professional” but no one would call it lavish. NOM on the other hand, arrived in a small cavalcade of organization owned vehicles including a tour bus that were lavish indeed. Clearly a lot of money (mostly, according to Fred Karger’s investigations, Mormon Church money) had been spent on the full color, deluxe photo-murals covering all these vehicles from top to bottom. Perhaps inspired by circus wagons, the NOM traveling snake oil show depicted smiling, happy “straight” families who would, presumably, be threatened if I marry my partner Mike. What a wonderful symbolism is revealed by the discovery that all these images are entirely phony! They are, every one, stock images you can buy on-line from a stock photo website. If so moved, an LGBT organization could purchase the very same photos and rearrange them to appear to show queer families (which would be funny, if expensive, to pull off) This made a vivid contrast indeed to the very real families that spoke at GSE’s rally of the discrimination and inequality that has circumscribed their lives because of the ineffectiveness of the civil union law. As GSE chair Steven Goldstein said “marriage is the only currency the world recognizes.” 



A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew:   

God gave the secret, and denied it me? –   

Well, well, what matters it! Believe that, too.   



NOM's pathetic little huddle







The End of DADT – The Beginning Of The Right to Die For Insanity

28 05 2010

So now Congress is finally in the process of dismantling Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell. Wonderful. I’m just so thrilled. Not.

Oh, I know all the arguments about equality and they are correct. The right to serve openly in the military is a hallmark of full acceptance as citizens. That is simple logic – but this isn’t about logic. It is about life and death. The one big advantage of our second class status up to now has been that we were excused from being used as cannon fodder in this country’s endless wars. We got to live. Our classmates – including the ones who perhaps made fun of queers – the macho ones – the BMOCs – they marched off to Nam and Cambodia and Iraq and many of them never came back except in bags. Many of the ones who did come back…well… perhaps it would have been better for them if they had not survived. That last is not for me to say however. Still – shattered alcoholic, drug ridden wrecks, missing arms and legs, haunted by horrors that allow them no sleep – is that the price of equality? Pardon me if I think it steep. Frankly, I’d be perfectly content with not being quite equal if it meant the beautiful gay kids I see every day would be spared all that. Ah! I hear the martial music welling up in the background. I see the serried ranks of flags waving as you say “our country! our duty! defend freedom!” and on and on. Sigh. Do you actually know what you are talking about? Review the long list of wars the United States has fought and select those in particular in which we were actually defending our freedom. Let’s see…World War II of course. That one is a definite – The NAZIs had to go, root and branch and no argument. OK, that’s one. The Civil War is clearly another. There we see two irreconcilable social/political/moral systems contending for the same ground. There was only room for one. Slavery had to go and so did the concept of secession. That’s two. Now the search gets difficult. The Mexican War? A naked land grab that was certainly not about anyone’s freedom. The Spanish-American War? Another land grab fueled by the totally irresponsible lies of the Hearst Press syndicate, the Fox News of its day,  and covertly about gaining coaling stations for the Pacific Fleet pursuant to the doctrines of U.S. Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan in his seminal book The Influence Of Sea Power On History. World War I? Wow – talk about a subject that has been almost completely shrouded in propaganda and misconception! Can anyone tell me what the Hell difference it would have made to us if the Germans had won that round? What real negative difference would it have made to anyone? Think about it – the French would have lost Alsace-Lorraine perhaps for the final time. I think we could survive that. The Brits would have had a bit of a black eye but their empire would still have existed. Maybe they’d have had to give up some of their African territory – but within one long generation it was all gone anyway. And what else? The ancient imperial dynasties of Europe would not have collapsed – hence the rise of the Nazis would not have occurred. The communist revolution might well have been avoided, along with the 20-odd million consequent deaths. Mapping the route of an alternative history is a risky business but with the benefit of hindsight, it is perfectly clear at least that all the hype at the time about defending freedom was total bullshit. A man from Mars could not have told the difference between the two sides – culturally, morally or politically. Tens of thousands of American boys died in that war – for what? British prestige? French honor – La Gloire ?

On the eve of his declaration of mobilization, Czar Nicholas II was visited by Constantine Probedenostov, the Procurator of the Holy Synod, who said “I’m an old man. I’ve seen wars all my life and they all seemed so important at the time. Now I can’t even remember what they were about. All those thousands of dead and I don’t know why. If you do this, [mobilize] it will be the end of our civilization, of culture, of honor – and our children will walk among the ruins and curse our name.” How perceptive that prediction was! Certainly that is precisely what happened in Russia. Will our children walk among the ruins of their own lives and curse the name of those who fought so hard to give them the chance to sacrifice themselves for jingoistic propaganda and multi-national corporate advantage? I think it not unlikely.

Then there is that sacred war, the American Revolution. “That,” you may say, “was a time of heroes. That was a war that changed the world!” Was it indeed? Just who was it that actually organized that war and what, really, was it about? The Tea Tax? Hardly. Real tea was a very expensive luxury affordable only by the elite. Taxation without representation? The British parliamentary system was that every member of parliament represented all British subjects, not just his elective constituency. Certainly the system needed reform and within a few decades, it was indeed reformed. But the dead were all still dead. Perhaps it was about the impost of new taxes – except those taxes were to pay the cost of British troops brought over to fight the French & Indian war AT THE REQUEST of the colonial legislatures. In subsequently objecting to those taxes, we were essentially demanding a free lunch. The Revolution was promoted and run by the existing power structure and colonial governments of this country. It promoted the interests of the New England merchant class a well as those of the southern planter aristocracy. Over 50,000 citizens who were loyal to the ancient, legitimate regime fled the colonies, losing everything in the process. There is no evidence that a majority supported the revolution at any point in time. And in the long term, are we any more “free” than the Canadians? Thousands died – but we got a monopoly on the Triangle Trade. I hope that was a comfort to those boys who starved and froze at Valley Forge.

Then we come to Viet Nam. Is it even possible to sort through the layers of rotting, foul smelling lies that enveloped that hideous exercise in national destruction? Volumes and volumes have been written in the effort to do so and still a large part of the population is so ignorant, so deluded as to think there was some valid purpose to it. In large part it is because we can not accept that all those boys died – horribly – in vain; that their sacrifice as for nothing but empty rhetoric and the reputations of a handful of slime-ball politicians. But it WAS in vain. The power elite misjudged, mishandled and failed utterly to understand what they were doing in Indochina all the way back to the settlements following WW II. Every step they subsequently took compounded the errors. All the State Department and intelligence “experts” got it completely wrong. The generals were by and large a pack of sycophantic time-servers who, like William Westmorland, talked a big game but had no clue what they were doing and consistently lied about every aspect of the war. Eventually it became easy to tell if Westmorland was lying – just check to see if his mouth was moving. Thousands and thousands died, including boys I knew – for what? Can anyone tell me at last? Please?

Finally we come to our present endless nightmare in the mid-East and Afghanistan. Perhaps the root cause is oil – in which case, since the oil production of Iraq has been decimated and we have created a fanatic resistance to resurrecting it in any way that will benefit us , it doesn’t seem to have worked out very well. As for Afghanistan – if ever there was an example of learning nothing from history, this is a big one. No invading army back to and including Alexander The Great has succeeded in that impossibly hostile place – and let’s be frank – General Tommy P.  may be quite a good officer but he is NO Alexander The Great and neither is our president. The only real mystery is why the British allowed themselves to get dragged in. One would have thought they’d remember their first effort to conquer Afghanistan and install a puppet government back in the 1840s. Of the more than ten thousand soldiers and civilians that comprised their force, exactly ONE man survived – probably because the tribesmen allowed him to return and tell the nightmare story. This present Afghan adventure is going to end badly too. The only question is how long it will take and how many more kids must die before the generals and the senators and the “experts” finally realize it isn’t going to work.

If the United States was being invaded – if enemy forces were landing on the beach at Asbury Park or Miami or Laguna  or San Francisco, we would all, naturally, take up arms and defend the homeland. Gay or straight, it would make no difference. That DID happen – in the War of 1812. In such a circumstance there is no choice but those are not the circumstances that prevail in the turgid history of our conflicts. It is classically said “the first casualty of war is truth,” and that has surely proved to be the case throughout our history. Lies compounded upon lies, enhanced by vacuous rhetoric, delivered by men and women who will not themselves be in danger, disguising profit motives and naked grabs for land and resources benefiting a power elite – this is the history of our wars – with a heavy dose of cultural arrogance and undisguised racism helping to fuel the conflagrations (the Indian Wars being the best example of that.) And you expect me to rejoice that now gay kids will have an equal opportunity to participate? Pardon me if I do not rejoice, but rather weep instead. All the rhetoric about equality and noble sacrifice means little when you stand by the coffin of a kid you loved and know that his or her life was thrown away for the greed and insanity of people you don’t even know and wouldn’t want to. A victory for gay rights? Yes – a pyrrhic victory.

Deconstructing Jonathan Katz

21 05 2010

Sooner or later, everyone who isn’t a total non-entity googles their own name – just to see. We’ve all done it. Jonathan Katz has reason to do it regularly, at least to see the extent to which his views are being held to public excoriation and scorn. That being so, it is not unreasonable to suppose that his eye may well light upon this very blog. I hope so, since I am writing this from the purest and most altruistic motives. For his own well-being, Katz desperately needs to understand that, when he moves out of his laboratory, he is suddenly way out of his depth. Further, Mr. Katz  needs to understand why he has recently been thrown off a presidential commission to investigate the gulf oil spill after his essay on why it is OK to loath gay people came to light – not that he had tried to hide it. Matter of fact, it is still fully accessable to public view on his personal website.

Katz is a professor of Physics at Washington University and has a distinguished scientific record. His credentials in physics are unchallenged. Sadly, few scientists seem to have the ability to move beyond their narrow speciality and, like Einstein or Hawking, extend their understanding and brilliance to the community at large. When stepping out of his academic specialty, Katz at once flounders in an ocean of prejudice, assumption, hypothesis and arrogance – the very qualities the “scientific method” was designed to suppress. A  psychologist could speculate at length regarding this volta face’ of intellect – bursting the confining bonds of provability, observed fact and replication of results science demands and leaping into the unconstrained open air of social commentary – where any loud jackass must be heard. Such a leap must be liberating – exhilarating – we applaud Katz for having the courage to make such a leap, and sadly tsk-tsk that in doing so, he lands flat on his distinctly unattractive face.

Professor Katz despises queers. He makes no secret of it. Personally, he has nothing to worry about if the photo of him now making the internet rounds is at all accurate. His face resembles a hatchet bearing a large brillo pad. Perhaps it is his inner jealousy of beautiful gay men that has caused his ostensible hatred. We could speculate at length but unlike Katz, let’s try to stick to facts.

Like scientists of old who espoused new and unpopular theories in the face of derision, Mr. Katz is determined to stand firmly by his beliefs. Of course, those old scientists – such as Galileo – were right and Katz is as wrong as last year’s hemline but that doesn’t matter to him. I conclude it doesn’t matter to him because of the methodology he employs in formulating his conclusions about gays. Let us examine key elements of his essay.

In his very first sentence, he defines homophobia as the moral judgment that homosexual behavior is wrong (and he misspells judgment.) a “phobia” is by definition an irrational fear. Moral judgments  fall into the realm of ethics or perhaps theology. Phobias need to be treated by a mental health professional. Ergo, right from the start we see Katz doesn’t know what he is talking about.

He then moves on to attempt a differentiation between ethnic, racial or religious prejudice and homophobia by writing that homophobia is a “moral judgment upon acts engaged in by choice.”  Perhaps Katz is under the impression that religion is genetically implanted. If so, we must disabuse him of the notion. It is engaged in “by choice.” Much of ethnicity is also engaged in by choice. I am of Irish descent. If I chose to make a production of that fact, people will know my ethnicity. If I do not wear green on St. Pat’s Day, collect for the IRA and disproportionately listen to Celtic music, people will think I’m just another white guy. It’s a choice. Being gay however, is not a choice. The only choice involved is whether I decide to be what I was born to be, or spend my life hiding in the shadows, living a lie.

Next Katz quotes the Bible. So what? I’m not a Christian so I couldn’t care less what that particular folklore collection says. My rights as a citizen are not based on the Bible. They are based on the constitution. Further, as a scientist, Katz really should know that the Bible is not a source of scientific veracity. Katz maintains the Bible is a compendium of “traditional wisdom.” In part that is so but the Bible is also a compendium of Bronze Age superstitions – the oral traditions of a primitive desert tribe of three thousand years ago. Beyond such basics as the Golden Rule, the Bible is simply not acceptable as a source of instruction in a scientific setting.

In his next two paragraphs, Katz blames gays for the spread of AIDS. Oh sure – blame the victim – oldest trick in the book. Katz claims “a few sporadic AIDS cases have been identified as far back as the 1950s.”  As a scientist, Katz should be aware that such a retroactive diagnosis, without actual examination of the patient, can never be more than tentative. He should also be aware that the one or two such cases in the record could have been caused by other factors. There can be a number of paths to immune deficiency other than the HIV virus. Again we see the utter absence of rigorous method in Katz’s conclusions. Further, Katz completely ignores the many hypothesis, speculations and conspiracy theories regarding the origin and spread of AIDS. All three categories present facts and  partial explanations contradicting Katz and in need of additional exploration.

From there Katz moves on to the realm of pure inspired assumption – inspired that is by his own prejudices. He states categorically that “the human body was not designed…to be promiscuous and it was not designed to engage in homosexual acts.”  His choice of phrase implies a designer who created the human body with specific intent. That, dear Professor Katz, is religion, not science – period. Leaving aside the design issue, I can personally inform Katz that the human body works very well indeed for gay sex. There are two basic male orifices for the sex act. Obviously the mouth functions perfectly well regardless of whether it is part of a male or female person. Of that there can be no question. As for the rectum, maybe Katz has led a sheltered life and is in ignorance of the fact that this is the location of the prostate – the male “G spot.” What do we conclude from this? Only that if indeed there was a “designer” he, she or it must have deliberately provided for gay sex by this specific locating of that important body part.

The objection that the male anus serves as a waste evacuation facility is nugatory. The female vagina also serves in this manner, though for liquid waste only.

As for promiscuity – the body is not equipped with a counting or a partner ID mechanism  in its sexual system. To say it was not designed for promiscuity is an assumption without foundation. While clearly promiscuity elevates the risk of exposure to STDs, that has nothing to do with bodily design. If one has, say, 100 sexual encounters, the body will function equally well or poorly regardless of whether they are all with the same person or with 100 different people.

At this point in his essay Katz begins to get plain nasty. He blames gays for all the “innocent” deaths from AIDS (gays being ipso facto guilty.) He states children, spouses, receivers of contaminated transfusions “died so the sodomites could feel good about themselves.” To that hate filled diatribe, there really isn’t much we can say except Fuck You, Jonathan Katz – you are a truly evil-minded person. Obviously, such sentiments as Katz expresses here have nothing whatever to do with scientific inquiry and are merely the mouth frothings of a committed bigot.

From bigotry, Katz moves to pure fantasy when he writes “the homophobe does not engage in violence against homosexuals.” Really??!! That will come as a surprise to Matthew Sheppard, Sakia Gunn, the four college students gunned down in Newark and so many, many others. Oh wait – no it won’t. They’re dead. However it will come as a great surprise to all those who loved those poor kids. Katz’s statement can be summarily dismissed as being obviously ludicrous.

Next Katz asks “what of those cursed with unnatural sexual desires? Must they forever suppress those desires?”  Value laden phraseology is hardly the scientific method and one would think Katz knows that. The assumption that homosexuality is unnatural is not substantiated by the evidence. To the contrary, it is plainly part of the natural world since it occurs therein. Further, many species of birds and animals display homosexual behavior, including lifetime partnering. On a personal note, I would add it isn’t a curse. In my own life it has been a joy and a blessing and I am eternally grateful for it.

Of course Katz concludes that indeed we must suppress these desires, just as people must suppress desires to steal and kill. This simile is without merit. To compare love and sex with stealing and killing makes no sense whatever.

Finally, Katz states “I am a homophobe, and proud.” That much at least is true. Katz is indeed suffering from irrational fears and grasping at any straw to make those fears seem grounded in reality. What he has actually accomplished is a graphic demonstration of how, when he leaves the confines of his scientific discipline he also leaves behind the entire structure of the scientific method of arriving at truth. Someone so handicapped and so blinded by prejudice is not needed on a presidential commission of any sort. Go back to your laboratory, Jonathan Katz, and concern yourself with quasars and algorithms where your foul hatreds can do no harm. You understand nothing of life among human beings