Friday, December 30, 2005

2005: What a Year It Was

Just over a year ago, on November 9th, 2004, the Montgomery County (Maryland) Board of Education decided unanimously to adopt new Family Life and Human Sexuality curricula for 8th and 10th grades. That is, in ordinary parlance, "sex-ed." The new curriculum had been developed over the course of several years by an MCPS writing committee and a citizens advisory committee, who evaluated it and reviewed it for close to two years and then passed it to the Board, who approved it.

November 2004 was a strange pivotal time in American history. George Bush won the Presidential election for a second term. It was the slightest of wins, but the radical religious right took it as their own victory. You heard people saying that "family values" had won the election, and it does seem that the turnout by evangelicals made the difference in a couple of critical states.

Word was that the election was evidence of a "mandate" for the religious right's agenda -- and they were ready for it. They were going to "take America back" to its repressive Christian roots. They already had plans to change everything, to return America to a pristine condition unknown since the Dark Ages.

The election was held on November 2nd, the winner announced on the 3rd. The school board adopted the new curriculum on the 9th.

The new curriculum featured a video about condom use for 10th graders, and some information for both 8th and 10th graders about sexual orientation, all actually quite tame and ordinary. But with the blood of the national election in the water, some local extremists began campaigning to recall the entire school board on the basis of their moral outrage at the curriculum. They began a website,, with a message board that was often quoted across the Internet for its outrageous and unintentionally hilarious comments.

Some of us who thought the curriculum was OK attended the organizational meeting of the Recall Group, on December 4th, 2004, just to see what was going on. People stood up to speak about the "deviants" and "sodomites" and how their values were being undermined, as if Satan himself were running the public schools. They broke up into committees -- media outreach, legal, fund-raising, etc. -- and we realized somebody needed to fight this, and fast. We didn't know each other at that time, but quickly figured it out and made contact.

Our first meeting was held December 8th at Los Cobanos Restaurant in Wheaton. We quickly bought a domain name and a web host and got a web site started, including this blog.

And so we entered the new year. Let us go through some of the memorable events of 2005.

The Recall Group tried to say on their web site that MCPS was "hiding" the curriculum documents. It turned out they had the wrong URL.

The Recall Group started a blog in January. After the fiasco with their previous message board, they were wise enough not to allow comments.

In what would become a theme for the year, the Washington Times began publishing articles critical of the curriculum.

In January it was revealed that Richard Cohen, President of the anti-gay group PFOX, had been expelled for life from the American Counseling Association for ethical violations.

This was the month that James Dobson and others, including Peter Sprigg, criticised SpongeBob SquarePants for advocating tolerance and diversity.

An "Ex-Gay" organization put a big billboard up outside the MCPS offices on 355.

The Executive Director of Casa of Maryland, a leading Hispanic group, expressed support for the new curriculum.

The President of the Recall Group apologized to the school board for threats that were made by their members.

The Recall Group argued on their web site that exposure to information in the curriculum would result in students "exploring sexual variations", engaging in premature sexual activity, and dying of AIDS.

There were daily protests under the PFOX billboard.

We discovered that the Recall Group had registered the domain name and directed it to their site, so that people looking for us would find them instead.

The Recall Group sent flyers to PTA officers at various schools, using information from proprietary school directories.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to the school board endorsing the new curriculum

MCPS announced the six schools where the new curriculum would be pilot tested in the spring.

This was the month that the surveys started coming out, showing that teens who took "abstinence pledges" were having oral and anal sex, meaning they were still technically virgins. Their STD rates were found to be higher than non-pledgers.

On March 19th, the Recall Group, now calling themselves Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, held a "town hall" meeting. One gay dad who attended the meeting was quoted in a national magazine saying, "It just felt like you were a Jew in Germany in the 1930s." The theme of the meeting was "fear and hate of the homosexual agenda." The CRC leadership tried to distance themseves from their own speakers afterwards.

A group called "Parents Against X-Rated Curriculum in MCPS," which we have found out is connected to the American Nazi party, sent letters to the homes of pilot-test school families, with form letters addressed to MCPS, stamped and addressed. Families had only to put the letters in a mailbox to complain about the new curriculum. By a large margin, most returned letters had the original message crossed out, and a pro-curriculum message written in.

In March we witnessed the first public threat by the CRC to sue the school board. A rambling letter to the board explained that the curriculum will cause some students to think they are gay and engage in risky sexual behaviors. The narrative continued: "[Later] These young people find that they are not 'gay' but had chosen that lifestyle as a result of the indoctrination which began early in their school life. They will point to this School Board as the group who started the slide with the new sex ed. curriculum."

A theocratic group called the Center for Reclaiming America sent a letter to the school board, the County Executive, and other officials, complaining about the "outrageous attempt to desensitize our children or grandchildren into embracing homosexuality."

The CRC submitted petitions to the school board with 3,500 signatures opposing the new curriculum. That works out to about a third of one percent of the population of Montgomery County, which is not to say that all the signatures were those of county residents.

MCPS edited the curricula in preparation for pilot testing to begin in May.

CRC sent letters to families of the pilot schools, misrepresenting the curriculum. Against regulations, they used PTSA student directories to acquire addresses.

May 3rd CRC finally filed their long-planned lawsuit.

There was confusion in the newspapers over whether MCPS would or would not allow parents to sit in on the new health classes. The decision was that parents could come into the classroom, but could only attend their own kids' classes.

May 5th the federal judge granted a 10-day restraining order for implementation of the curriculum.

NPR's story that same day generated a lot of interest in our group, and lots of petition signatures.

MCPS cancelled the pilot testing for the school year, and then the calendar year as part of negotiations over the temporary restraining order.

The CRC's lawyer threatened legal action against a member for comments made on a listserve about the CRC's President. The TTF member had called CRC's President a liar. It also turned out that it was very easy to prove that the allegation was in fact correct. The threat was ignored and there was no follow-up.

Tilden Middle School's PTSA adopted a resolution demanding that CRC explain why they used the PTSA's school directory for their mass mailings, and promise not to do it again.

On May 23rd, the school board decided to start all over again, developing a new curriculum. The condom video was also jettisoned.

Still not satisfied, on May 24th the CRC issued a press release saying that they felt the school board was trying to execute an "end run," and worrying that they would not include "ex-gays" in the curriculum.

The Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) Executive Board passed a resolution reprimanding CRC for misuse of school directories.

The web site shut down.

June 27th, MCPS lawyers settled with CRC and PFOX's lawyers, Liberty Counsel, a Florida law firm associated with Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. The district agreed to pay the out-of-town lawyers $36,000, plus guaranteeing PFOX and CRC membership on the new citizens adisory committee, plus a couple of other things.

Also on the 27th, TeachTheFacts members showed up in force for the Board of Education meeting, with signs, and many speakers in the public comments section of the meeting. Board members congratulated us and thanked us.

June 29th, CRC issued a statement, carried in The Times, complaining about the school board "changing the procedures" for selecting members for the new citizens advisory committee. (The board had required three nominees from each organization, and also would not allow former committee members to re-apply.)

The 4th of July, the Washington Post ran a really supportive editorial titled "Sensible Sex Education."

July 5th, the Washington Times had an article called "Schools incite feud with sex-ed advisers," which quoted the CRC threatening to sue again because they didn't feel they should have to follow the board's rules for applying for the citizens advisory committee. There was nothing about the schools inciting anything, or about any "sex-ed advisers."

In that same article, PFOX announced that they would nominate the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg to be their representative on the committee.

Starting about the 6th, an interesting development. It turned out that the CRC's old discussion bulletin board was accessible through the Google cache. A couple of people emailed us copies of the discussions and posted them in the blog comments section. These discussions allowed us to catch them at innumerable lies and secretive plots. For instance, we learn that they had been planning their "last-minute" lawsuit since January. Coincidentally, at about the same time the CRC's President sent out a stupid email to a lot of groups, apparently not realizing that it had inner-circle discussions among CRC leaders appended at the bottom of it. They were planning to badmouth us at a school board meeting, which they did. We got a number of these caches over the month, giving us profound insights into the CRC's thinking, their deceptions, and their secret affiliations with national groups.

Late in the month, a CRC member tried to raise a fuss because a Gay-Straight Alliance web site at one of the high schools had a dead link that had been bought out by a commercial search engine, so when you put "gay" into it, it showed you gay sites. They complained to the school board that MCPS was "allowing the gay-straight club at Walter Johnson High School to use the school's Internet web address to meet sexy, single gay men for dating, romance, and more... Browse through the profiles of like-minded men, and participate in our exciting chat rooms."

July 29th was the last time the CRC updated their blog, which had become an illiterate, repetitive list of rightwing catchphrases.

A program on Montgomery Community Television called "The Citizens Link to Community Awareness" scheduled a half-hour show on the subject, "Health Education: Where do we go from here?" Their guests were going to be three representatives of the anti-MCPS group CRC, plus PFOX's Richard Cohen. Some people called and emailed to complain, and so they removed Cohen and added lesbian State Delegate Anne Kaiser. Then they added David Fishback, former chair of the citizens advisory committee. When they did that, the CRC members withdrew in order to avoid debate. The whole thing ended up being cancelled, with the show's producer (a CRC confederate, it turned out) putting a nasty disclaimer on the web and sending a histrionic letter to everyone involved.

During August, mostly, almost everyone who disagreed with CRC's party line was banished from their online "forum." Quickly, activity on the site dropped off to nearly nothing.

The Nation had a great article about the Montgomery County controversy.

Applications were submitted for the citizens advisory committee.

September 25th we held our forum. Nationally known speakers discussed the medical, scientific, and educational aspects of sex education. Comments and questions from the audience were beautiful and very informative. About a hundred people showed up. It was a positive, informative event.

The school board was going to announce the citizens advisory committee membership on October 11th, but because CRC and PFOX failed to apply properly, they delayed the decision.

The CRC's web site posted a personal attack on one of the speakers at our forum, a person who had undergone years of reparative therapy.

On the 24th, the Board of Education announced the membership of the new citizens advisory committee. They allowed Peter Sprigg to represent PFOX, even though that organization had nominated only one person. They did not appoint anyone to represent CRC, presumably because their nominee had been on the previous committee, and so was disqualified. I was appointed to represent TeachTheFacts. On the board, only Gabe Romero voted against the resolution. We noted that the CRC's President is apparently the treasurer for his campaign.

On the 25th, the CRC was quoted in The Post threatening to sue the school district again.

CRC put a statement on their web site that "TTF has become the front for GLSEN - Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network." This almost surely came about because of an email that someone at GLSEN sent to the TeachTheFacts Yahoo group, which was misinterpreted by CRC moles on the group.

On November 19th the CRC had an "informational meeting" that a couple of us attended. There were about 20 people there. Psychologist Warren Throckmorton spoke, and promoted a viewpoint that is essentially what we have been saying all along: stay close to the scientific research, and teach a nuanced view of sexual identity. A member of the audience noted that "we basically have lost already." Their President repeated the allegation that is associated with GLSEN.

The Christian web site AgapePress describes as "a homosexual advocacy group whose founder has close ties to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)." (Even though we have no founder and no close ties to that group, and most of us are straight.)

The Montgomery County Council of PTA's Delegates Assembly passed a resolution reprimanding the CRC for misusing the schools' address books for their mass mailings.

The first meeting of the MCPS citizens advisory committee was December 19th. That group now waits for the district to produce a new curriculum for evaluation.

And so we arrive at the present, and the new year. The CRC seems to be out of gas. One of their leaders is a lawyer, so we figure they'll keep filing lawsuits. But they don't even seem to have anybody legitimate they can nominate for the citizens advisory committee; their seat, guaranteed by the settlement agreement, is vacant. Their web sites are rarely updated, some of them apparently abandoned.

Work is moving forward on a new curriculum. It is possible that the MCPS team working on it will review the previous curriculum, see that it was good, and pass it back to the committee for evaluation. Maybe they'll modify it. Maybe they'll write a new one, we don't know.

The year 2005 has seen the breakdown of the religious right's death-grip on American culture. High-ranking politicians are being indicted and investigated for corruption; the President has to say in a press conference, "I am not a dictator," even though he admits he does not feel obligated to adhere to the Constitution or submit to legislative or judicial oversight. There are national scandals involving contractors, lobbyists -- Iraq, Katrina, leaking a CIA agent's name, bribery, torture, out-of-control pork-barrel spending, domestic spying without warrants, financial breaks for the wealthy and reduction of aid to the needy, imprisonment of citizens without charges ... And so on, there are so many ways that "the mandate" has failed at the national level.

And at the local level, they have worn out their welcome. In Dover, Pennsylvania, sane voters and a sane judge made sure the radicals failed to impose their crazy ideas on the community. Elsewhere, too, we see common sense returning in communities, in response to challenges to Americans' personal liberties and good sense. Though some states have passed laws against gay marriage, for instance, more recently the idea has failed to elicit enough support to move forward in a couple of states.

Here in Montgomery County, the process is healing itself, the school district is getting its feet back under it. A new curriculum is being developed, a new committee is formed and ready to review it. The CRC's complaints are subdued, only The Times will print their whining any more.

We approach the new year with hope that a sad, fearful period of American history will fade into the past, and that reason will be revived in the public consciousness of the country, and of our little suburban county.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Family Groups Call for Boycott of the Entire World

These Family Blah Blah groups provide a real service to their community. They identify sources of evil and then spread the word so their millions of followers will, y'know, avoid it. Boycott the company, vote against a particular politician, whatever.

You know that the school system in Dover Pennsylvania just had a one-two eyeopener. First they had this nutty school board who told the teachers to teach creationism in classes. Some parents filed a lawsuit, saying it was not right to bring religion into the classroom. Then there was an election, and the people voted out the entire school board and replaced them with more science-minded folks. Then the judge ruled on the lawsuit, and in no uncertain terms explained that the school board's idea was a very dumb one, and illegal, too.

You know how the Family Blah Blah groups are going to be, right? We'll hear something about "activist judges," and liberals in the teaching profession and the National Education Association is all run by socialists with direct ties to Kinsey. Because these groups think it's a good idea to teach their particular version of Biblical mythology as fact in the schools.

Now, the most horrible person in the world, objectively speaking, is Rick Santorum. He's a fringe rightwing Senator from Pennsylvania who is running for office again, and things are not really looking that good for him. It's almost as if the people of Pennsylvania don't want their state to be represented by kooks and nuts, not that I can explain why they'd feel that way. I mean, other states don't seem to mind.

Santorum is on the side with the Family Blah Blah guys, he's for the family, y'know, and the Bible, and he's against homosexuality, which to his mind is about the same as having sex with animals and should not be permitted. So he sees what's going on in Dover, and suddenly it dawns on him, maybe he's on the wrong side of the fence on this creationism thing. As soon as the judge's ruling comes out, Santorum announces that yeah, he agrees with that judge and those voters, you shouldn't be teaching creationism in the public schools. In fact he loves evolution, keeps a picture of Darwin on his desk. Something like that.

Santorum had been an affiliate of the Thomas More Law Center, which had defended the Dover school district in the lawsuit. But as soon as the judge's decision came out, Santorum cut his ties to the Center. "I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said.

So now listen to the Family Blah Blah guys:
Dec 25, 2005 — A conservative organization that touts itself as a supporter of traditional values blasted Sen. Rick Santorum for his withdrawal of support for the Dover Area School District's unconstitutional intelligent design policy.

"Senator Rick Santorum's agreement with Judge John Jones' decision ... is yet another example of why conservatives can no longer trust the senator," the American Family Association of Pennsylvania said in a news release Friday.

The association's president, Diane Gramley, said Santorum - who is expected to face a tough re-election challenge next year from state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. - should heed her organization's remarks.

"It's a warning that he needs to be careful," Gramley said. "That he's beginning to lose his conservative base."

A year ago today, an editorial by Santorum praising Dover's intelligent design policy appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I commend the Dover Area School District for taking a stand and refusing to ignore the controversy," he wrote.

Dover school officials were so pleased that they printed the piece in a newsletter sent out to district residents.

But last week, one day after Judge John E. Jones III sharply criticized former Dover board members and ruled that intelligent design could not be included in the science curriculum as unconstitutional, Santorum said he was troubled by former board member's actions. Group accuses Santorum of switch: Conservative association says senator made '180-degree turn' on intelligent design

The thing that always kills me is how they turn on those who almost, but not quite, agree with them on everything. This guy hates gays, talks all the time about the traditional family, all the stuff they like -- but disagree on this one thing, and the dog-pack attacks.

Another Blah Blah group, Focus on the Family, has a list HERE that "provides an overview of companies leading the charge to re-engineer society and bring about the normalization of homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, and a fundamentally redefined family structure." Uh, yeah, I get what they're saying there. A blogger, MercuryX23, has taken the list and broken it down into categories for us. I am going to reproduce their list here, just to give you a feel for how terrible the pro-homosexual menace is. Or, to look at it another way, how very very paranoid these crazy groups are.
Corporations, Industry & Legal
  • AT&T
  • SC Johnson and Son
  • Dow Chemical
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Owens Corning (Home exterior products)
  • Northrop Grumman Corp.
  • DuPont
  • International Paper Co.
  • Corning
  • Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
  • Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • Alston & Bird
  • Air Products & Chemicals
  • Mohawk Industries
  • McKinsey & Co.
  • Cargill
  • Reynolds American
  • Jenner & Block
  • Visteon Corporation

  • Levi Strauss
  • Nike
  • Federated Department Stores (includes Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, May Department Stores, Lord & Taylor, Marshall Field’s)
  • The Gap
  • Bausch & Lomb
  • Nordstrom
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Target Stores
  • Borders Group
  • Best Buy
  • Staples
  • Reebok Intl
  • Sears Holding Companies (includes K-Mart)
  • Walgreen’s
  • Limited Brands (includes Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, White Barn Candle Co., The Limited, Express, and Henri Bendel).
  • Estee Lauder Companies
  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Office Depot
  • Home Depot
  • Liz Claiborne
  • Hannaford Brothers

  • Northwest Airlines
  • Volkswagon of America.
  • California State Automobile Association
  • Union Pacific
  • The Boeing Co.
  • Delta Airlines
  • Continental Airlines
  • Ryder System Trucks
  • Subaru of America Inc.
  • Daimler Chrysler
  • U.S. Airways
  • General Motors
  • Toyota
  • American Airlines
  • Ford (includes Volvo and Hertz)

Lodging, Food, Entertainment and Media
  • Molson Coors
  • Kraft Foods (Alltria Group)
  • Cendant (Cendant is the parent company of Avis, Budget, Days Inn, Knights Inn, Fairfield, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wingate Inns, Wyndham Worldwide, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Cheap Tickets, Galileo International and other holdings)
  • Walt Disney
  • Viacom
  • Miller Brewing
  • Starbucks
  • General Mills
  • Time-Warner
  • Pepsi (includes Quaker Oats and Frito Lay)
  • Anheuser-Busch (includes Sea World, Discovery Cove, and Busch Gardens)
  • Avaya
  • Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever)
  • StarcomMediaVest Group
  • Brinker Intl Inc. (Chili’s Restaurant, On The Border)
  • Campbell Soup
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts (Sheraton, Four Points, St. Regis, Westin)
  • Carlson Companies (includes TGI Friday’s, Radisson, Regent International, Park Plaza, Park Inn, Country Inn & Suites).
  • Dole Food
  • Comcast
  • Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant
  • MGM Mirage
  • Electronic Arts Inc.
  • Sara Lee Corporation
  • McDonald’s
  • Applebee’s Intl, Inc.
  • Marriott International
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster)
  • Hasbro Inc.
  • Scholastic Corporation
  • Global Hyatt,
  • Wyndham International
  • CMP Media
  • The Olivia Companies
  • McGraw-Hill Companies
  • Compass Group North America
  • New York Times
  • Gannett Co, Inc.
  • BellSouth
  • Cox Communications

  • Eastman Kodak
  • IBM
  • Cisco Systems
  • Microsoft
  • Xerox
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Intel
  • Lucent Technologies
  • Agilent Technologies
  • Motorola
  • Dell
  • Apple
  • Cingular Wireless (owned by AT&T/SBC Communications—60%; and BellSouth—40%)
  • Genentech
  • Lexmark International
  • Verizon
  • Gateway Inc.
  • Oracle Corporation
  • Worldspan Technologies
  • Earthlink Inc.
  • Honeywell Intl Inc.
  • Freescale Semiconductor
  • Sprint-Nextel
  • Adobe Systems
  • Qwest Communications Intl
  • Aramark Corp.
  • Texas Instruments, Inc.
  • Affiliated Computer Services
  • Intuit
  • Polaroid Corporation
  • Seagate Technology
  • NCR
  • Keane Inc.

Health & Insurance
  • WellPoint (Blue Cross/Blue Shield)
  • Aventis Pharmaceuticals
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
  • Medtronic, Inc.
  • Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc (workplace child care)
  • Quest Diagnostics (medial lab tests)
  • Bristol-Myers-Squibb
  • Novartis Pharmaceutical
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Vision Service Plan
  • Allianz Life Insurance Co of NA
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Aetna
  • MetLife
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Merck & Co
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance
  • Prudential
  • Chubb
  • Allstate
  • Amgen, Inc.
  • Schering-Plough Corp.
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • Guidant Corporation
  • Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.

  • Northeast Utilities System
  • Edison International (Southern California Edison)
  • Sempra Energy
  • Siemens Energy & Automation
  • Xcel Energy
  • BP America/BP Amoco
  • Shell
  • PG&E
  • Chevron
  • Cummins
  • Dominion Resources
  • Raytheon
  • KeySpan

Financial Institutions
  • ABN AMRO Holding NV (includes La Salle Bank and Standard Federal Bank)
  • Master Card
  • E* Trade
  • Bank of New York
  • SLM (Sallie Mae)
  • Providian Financial Group
  • Countrywide Financial
  • Lincoln National
  • Hartford Financial Services
  • Wainright Bank & Trust
  • Harris Bank
  • Sun Trust Banks
  • Washington Mutual
  • Deutsche Bank
  • US Bancorp
  • John Hancock Financial
  • Morgan Stanley
  • HSBC
  • Mellon Financial
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Northern Trust
  • Credit Suisse First Boston
  • Bank of America
  • Goldman Sachs Group
  • Fannie Mae
  • Capital One
  • Charles Schwab
  • Citigroup (includes SmithBarney, Primerica, and Banamex)
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Wells Fargo
  • Ameriprise Financial/American Express
  • Lehman Brothers
  • Deloitte & Touche
  • Wachovia
  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers International Ltd.
  • KPMG
  • Ernst & Young
  • UBS AG

  • Replacements, Ltd.
  • Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams
  • United Parcel Service
  • ChoicePoint
  • Pitney Bowes
  • Hewitt Associates
  • Waste Management, Inc.
  • CH2M Hill Companies, Ltd.

Can you believe they left off that list? I'm so disappointed.

I think if I were one of the Family Blah Blah guys, I would look at that list and say, man, we're not really winning, are we? It really looks like a lot of companies are accepting differences among people.

The fact is, the world is changing. Some norms have changed -- women's role in society is entirely different from a hundred years ago, civil rights are extended now to a range of people who were denied them in recent memory. People tend to be kind, no matter what these radical groups tell them. If somebody is doing something and it doesn't hurt them, they tend to give that person the benefit of the doubt. There's a little Golden Rule mixed in there with a pinch of judge-not-lest-ye-be-judged. Lessons these groups need to learn.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bad Blogger

Man, Blogger is worse than I've ever seen it.

I had our web host provider check yesterday and our part of it looks good. But the Blogger service is a mess. I have tried to publish the blog about a hundred times over the past day and a half -- sometimes it'll get to 20 or 40 percent, or even 80 percent, and then it ... just ... sits ... there. Sometimes it deletes the whole blog, sometimes you see part of it, sometimes there are comments, sometimes there aren't.

Just a minute ago I tried republishing for the 101st time, and voila -- it worked. I don't know if that means it's fixed, or if Venus passing through Leo in conjunction with the rising moon and holding my mouth a certain way led to a harmonic convergence that lasted an instant.

At least over the holidays people aren't on the Internet as much as usual, this would've been bad on a regular weekday.

Blogger is a free service. They're owned by Google, so we expect them to "do no evil," but performance is notoriously undependable, and their support is more a source of humor than anything. I have never had them respond to any question I've asked them. Ever. When you submit a problem, they email you this generic list of obvious things to try, and that's that.

Anyway, if you try to leave a comment and it doesn't appear, don't worry, it will eventually. If the blog is cut off or missing, it's not that we've decided to truncate it, it's just that Blogger is somewhat ill. Keep trying.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

... And a Happy New Year

We've got two teenagers. And at this time of year I am more aware than ever that they won't be around the house much longer. I remember the day when a Big Problem was a knot in a shoelace, and there was no limit to what Dad could do. Nowadays they have to untie their own knots, which are infinitely more complicated than those in shoelaces, but now and then they still need a hug, or a ride home from some place, or a couple of bucks for some Chop-Chop from Don Pollo.

This year, again, there are some presents under the tree, and, as big as they are, I'll just bet you they stay up late tonight "for some reason." There are colored lights on the front of the house, and Christmas music on the stereo, and it smells like food in here, and we're happy to be together as a family, adolescent anguish and all.

The Family Blah-Blah guys have tried to take over Christmas, every year they get worse. But look, the week of the solstice is sacred to people everywhere. That tree, those reindeer, those lights, those don't belong to some moralistic hypocrites. These things, and the candles and gifts and the many magical signs that people make for this season, belong to everybody who lives on the earth's surface under the sun that we share and that we know will now become strong again.

This year the big thing is to boycott and complain about people who don't say "Merry Christmas." Well, I say Merry Christmas, if I think I'm talking to somebody who celebrates the occasion under that name. I like the sound of it. But like a Jewish guy said on a TV interview last week, for him when somebody says to have a Merry Christmas it's like saying Happy Birthday when it's your own birthday. And what's the sense of that? It doesn't seem very Christmasy to wish myself Happy Birthday.

Hey, here's a little piece of good news from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Conservative religious leaders are so pleased with their campaign against the "war on Christmas" that they're going to rev it up next year.

Look for more lawyers ready to pounce on Christmas disses, they say, more teachers ready to tattle on silencings of "Silent Night" and more boycotts of stores for yanking the "Christmas" out of the season.

But one influential group of evangelicals has something else in mind that is causing a division in the religious ranks:

It wants to ban presents. Christian group pushing gift boycott for next year

Yeah, finally the American Family Association is doing something right. Maybe if they're successful there'll be some parking places at the mall next year for the rest of us.

Whatever you call it, this is the season that we share the knowledge that hope springs eternal, and is often rewarded. May we all be blessed in the new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Third Group

I have said before that there are three kinds of parties in the controversy over sex education in Montgomery County. First, there are those people who are concerned about the innocence of children, who believe in a certain sense of modesty, feel that the modern world has become too sexualized, and do not believe the public schools should contribute to the tawdriness. Second, there are those who believe that the public schools should educate young people about the objective facts of sexuality in order to lead them to make better decisions in their own lives, and to have knowledge of their own feelings and the feelings of those around them, with the result that they will be better citizens.

Those two groups can hold a debate and come to a conclusion. They are not actually opposed to one another, in fact a member of one group should have no difficulty seeing the point of view of the other. It is really just a matter of emphasis, is it more important to protect their innocence even though they may find themselves in situations that they don't know how to deal with, or is it better to give them knowledge that they may not be ready for?

But there is a third group. This group wants to disrupt. Unfortunately, this group tends to use the language of religion to insist that their views are not only superior but infallible, because they emanate directly from God. This group demonizes people who are different from them, seeing only evil and immorality where a person stands. The third group believes a conspiracy exists, where some people want to be treated with respect. This group feels that social norms need to be enforced with punishment and abuse, and they feel somehow authorized to dish it out.

The third group does not want to talk about the issues. The school district is going to teach about sexual variation, and soon a curriculum will be offered up which will discuss some facts about homosexuality, and the third group will be against it. Not because the facts are wrong, or because the emphasis is wrong, but because we shouldn't be talking about this topic at all. We will see the third group continue to interrupt, perhaps with lawsuits, certainly in the press.

We have had, in our comments section, some people from all three groups. We have heard some articulate conservative voices, people who are concerned about some of the things that might be taught, and who are making the arguments that support their views. I tend to lean the other way, personally, but I appreciate their expression and am glad they come here to discuss. And of course we've got people who come here to present the case for accepting and respecting sexual minorities, because, well, that is an important part of what this group stands for. On both sides, I might say, we have those who are more and less articulate, and those who are more and less short-fused. It's not all pretty, there are idiots like me who stick their feet in their mouths, but in general I think it makes a lively and worthwhile dialogue.

But the third group visits us, as well. The image that comes to mind is the chimpanzee in the zoo who learns to poop in his hand and throw it at people. The chimp is locked up in a cage, I understand why he's got a bad attitude. But I really don't know why somebody who just knows their morals are better than everyone else's, who just knows that gay people have an "agenda" that they are trying to trick the rest of us into accepting, who just knows that truth can only come from God, and God speaks only to them ... I don't know why they come here to fling poop.

But that's the controversy over sex-ed in Montgomery County. It's not whether to include more or less detail or information at a younger or older age or whatever, it's whether we can discuss the subject at all. Some people want to stop all talk by any means. It's up to the rest of us, the first two groups, to see that the discussion is held, that it is open, that it is civil.

Family Blah-Blah News Gets It Wrong

I do have to comment on this article at AgapePress. They're a "news" outlet for the American Family Association, the same guys who wanted Ford to stop advertising in gay magazines. Well, this week they expressed great concern about Montgomery County's citizens advisory committee for the sex-ed curriculum.
A Maryland school board is under fire for placing members of three pro-homosexual groups on its new Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development (CAC). Among the groups represented on the committee are the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and Teach the Facts, a homosexual advocacy group whose founder has close ties to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). School Board's Pro-Homosexual Appointments Have Maryland Citizen Activists Concerned

Now, there you go, you learn something every day,don't you?

Pro-homosexual groups.

I don't know much about NARAL, but I'll just guess, from their name, that they are ... concerned about abortion rights. I just searched their web site for the word "homosexuality," and found four mentions of it. All occurrences seem to be in a quoted sentence. I mean, "pro-homosexual?" ... this ain't that.

PFLAG, all right, there you go. This diabolical organization supports people who love their friends and family members. That is terrible, they think people should love their children even when they're gay. Yikes! How anti-family is that?

And then, third ... there's us. A "homosexual advocacy group." Can you believe that? No, we're not that. We're an "education advocacy group," if anything. As the educational topic is sexual variation, we support the idea that the schools would teach the facts, all the facts, and nothing but the facts. We expect the latest information from medicine and science in the public schools, and religion can be taught in the home and in the places of worship. And we'll feel the same way when the anti-evolution nuts start feeling their cheerios in our county, too. And when the book-banners come through, we'll stand up for knowledge and openness.

But that last part. Man, that kills me: we're "a homosexual advocacy group whose founder has close ties to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)."

Who is "our founder?" Please?

The first meeting was held at a Mexican-food place in Wheaton called Cobano's. I'd say six or eight of us showed up. Seems like more than half of that group is still with us, others went off onto other things. There was no founder.

But, y'know, that doesn't matter, because none of us has any "close ties to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)."

We know where this lie came from. Last fall, somebody at GLSEN was trying to reach somebody about a conference call, and all they knew was that that person was a member of our Yahoo group, so they posted a note there. Actually, we blogged about it HERE and HERE. The CRC somehow got it in their heads that we had some big link to GLSEN, and now here it is on the big nutty national web site.

We do know somebody from GLSEN, in fact I saw her the other night at the citizens committee meeting. They routinely monitor school board meetings and other public events, and we run into each other all the time.

It is really something else, seeing how a paranoid fantasy at the local level becomes a news story at the national level. It is really weird, trust me, to be there when it happens. The way this works, now this AgapePress article is copied and pasted onto a thousand rightwing blogs, and this lie will attain the status of fact among a certain gullible portion of our society.

There's more:
Members of a conservative parents group called Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC) are criticizing the Montgomery County Public Schools ((MCPS) for the pro-homosexual appointments to its advisory committee. Also, CRC says a settlement agreement they reached with the school board guarantees them a chair on the committee, yet the board is not allowing the group to designate its own representative.

Michelle Turner, a spokesperson for CRC, says the Montgomery County Board of Education has apparently not learned its lesson from a recent lawsuit that led to the demise of its biased sex-ed curriculum. "We don't quite understand why the school system is going back to having these representatives on this advisory committee, which is supposed to be representative of the community," she notes.

Well, I'm not going to comment on that. If they really want to be part of the process, they know what they have to do. If they just want people to feel sorry for them, they know what they have to do. Either way, whatever, their call.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bad Blogger Better

We just moved the web site to a new server. There wasn't enough disk space on the old one, and it kept filling up. Last night you couldn't see comments, or new posts, but they promise me those problems will have been solved now.


The Dover Ruling

Yesterday the blog was not functioning well, so I didn't get to mention this. U.S. District Judge John Jones ruled that teaching Intelligent Design in the Dover, Pennsylvania, schools violated the constitutional separation of church and state. The voters up there have already kicked out the entire school board that proposed this stupid idea, and now the judge backs them up.

I've been reading through the judge's opinion, and I think it will become a much-referenced, classic document. Both sides had ample opportunity to present their best case. Leaders of the Intelligent Design movement testified, as well as skeptics and scientists arguing against it. The judge's memorandum opinion lays out the evidence and the arguments piece by piece, placing each one in the context of the legal decision being requested, and he frames his comments in very readable, plain English, explaining how he interprets the facts as they were presented. Read all 139 pages of it HERE.

This judge, it will be noted, is a Republican, appointed by President Bush. Before reading this opinion, I had seen some writers refer to it as a "smackdown" of Intelligent Design, and ... yes, that's a perfect word for it. He not only dismantles the legal case, he disintegrates the entire point of view from numerous angles, just demolishes it. You just know these guys are going to file another lawsuit somewhere, but the fact is, they won't get a judge more favorable to their position, and they won't get a better chance to make their case.

Here's a little paragraph to give you the feel for this ruling:
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

I wish we could call this The End of an Era. Unfortunately, we can be sure the nuts are going to pop up somewhere else, with some equally "breathtaking inanity."

The Washington Times Tries to Stir Stuff Up

Monday was the first meeting of the MCPS citzens advisory committee. That was an important milestone, as the school district gets back on its feet after the controversy over the sex-ed curriculum. So, not surprisingly, I got a call from Washington Times reporter Jon Ward, who has been covering this issue in print for more than a year now. He wants to know how I feel about being on the committee with Peter Sprigg.

Listen, I despise everything Peter stands for. I've been clear about that, and I have not changed my opinion.

But we have work to do. He and I are two people out of fifteen on a committee that is charged with advising the school board on a new curriculum. The committee will vote on stuff, and if Peter can convince the majority that his gay-hating point of view is better, he will get his way. If he can't, he won't. I am confident that reasonable people will vote against him, but maybe I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. But actually, I'm pretty comfortable with this. When Peter and I met at the meeting Monday night (we have met before, in the green room at MSNBC and other places), we shook hands and spoke amicably to one another. We want different outcomes, but we are working together in the process.

I have no desire to badmouth the guy in the press or on the blog at this point. If I have to fight him, we can fight fair, in the committee meeting room, following Robert's Rules of Order or some adaptation thereof.

Jon tried different angles to get me to say nasty things about Sprigg. I did tell him that I thought Sprigg was "malicious," which was not nice, but, well, I do think that, and he would say something equally sweet if asked to describe my viewpoint. I'll guess he would call me a "pro-homosexual," which is a word, I think, that he made up himself and uses frequently.

Other than that, I told Jon I thought we could work together. I said nice things about differences of opinion. I said I didn't think the committee would have to fight, that we could all discuss and come up with a consensus.

Failing to get any ugly personal comments from me, this young reporter went back into the blog, to last summer, when I explained why I thought Peter Sprigg is a nut. He went back to THIS POST, where I discussed Sprigg's talk at the CRC Hate-Fest, summarizing his points and explaining what I found evil about it. In that post I also talked about Sprigg's part in the campaign against SpongeBob SquarePants and his statement that "tolerance" and "diversity" are code-words used by the "pro homosexual movement," which is unbelievable to somebody like me. (For the record, I support tolerance and diversity. I like them. And I'm not gay, and don't give a damn about any pro-homosexual movement, if they have one, whatever a pro-homosexual is.) Re-reading it, it was a pretty good post, and I stand by it. But that was last summer. Jon pulled a couple of inflammatory statements out of context and put them into the Reverend Moon's paper yesterday morning.

It might have been good if he had attended the meeting, maybe he could have had a news story about an actual event, rather than digging through last summer's blog for quotes. But, y'know, it was his girlfriend's birthday. And of course Clark always chooses Lois over covering a story.

I have my beliefs and Peter Sprigg has his, and we are on the new committee together. If everybody felt the same about everything, there would be no need for a committee. So we disagree. I can live with that.

Let me say, I think there are two legitimate sides to the ongoing controversy over sex education. One side seeks to protect the innocence of children, to preserve some sense of modesty, and to resist the sexualization of everything our young people are exposed to. The other side seeks to present important facts in an objective way, so that students learn enough to make wise decisions in their own lives and to live as respectful citizens. The two sides are not opposed, they simply focus differently. It is entirely possible for an open discussion to result in compromise and consensus.

But there is a third view. There are people, represented by the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and the Washington Times, who simply want it all to go away. They don't want to improve the sex-ed curriculum, they want to destroy it.

I think it was bad form for The Times to try to stir up discord when Montgomery County needs to move in a positive direction. And I hope that in the future The Times will strive to support the county, rather than attempt to undermine our hard work by trying to make a serious collaborative process into a petty personal squabble. I don't expect it, but I do hope.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Blog Problems

The blog has been badly behaved today. It's too bad, too, because there were several developments that it would have been good to talk about. It appears that the fault is not Blogger's this time, but our web host, who ran out of disk space. They promise to move us to a new server within a couple of days.

Right now it's b-a-r-e-l-y working. Comments have been dead, I think -- I know for sure the "No-No" comments were blank, but I have been able to get that re-published. And I haven't seen any new comments appear all day, which would be weird, because lately we've had pretty good traffic in scintillating verbiage.

But it does look like it's limping along now, functioning somewhat.

The CAC Met

The MCPS citizens advisory committee met last night. Looks like a good group of people. Very interesting feeling in the room, all know that the situation is controversial, but it seems most are intent on working something out. The group spent a lot of time hashing over definitions of quorums and majorities and procedures for making decisions.

It is understood that there might not be consensus on everything, maybe not on anything. Of course it's nice when two sides can negotiate and compromise until they come to an agreement that everyone accepts, and I hope that happens. But we can't start out expecting it. The previous citizens advisory committee had a stubborn minority who ended up being outvoted and then using the courts to force their way, invalidating the entire idea of having a citizens committee.

The committee is in a holding pattern until the school system produces a curriculum to review. Well, they seem like nice folks, raring to go. I hope the school district gets a curriculum to look at soon.

Monday, December 19, 2005

First Citizens Committee Meeting Today

Today is the first meeting of the new MCPS Family Life and Human Development citizens advisory committee. It looks like mostly a good group of people, rather diverse, lots of doctors. Of course, CRC's seat is still vacant, I figure if they want to be part of the process it's not that hard -- the school board has shown a willingness to appoint a member even when an organization only nominates one (though the rules require three nominees), if they are qualified. So I'll just bet, all they have to do is submit one valid name and they're in. If they don't want to do that, they forfeit the right to complain if things don't go their way.

There are some mixed messages about the committee. It seems to me that hints dropped by the Superintendent and Board of Education suggest that the committee will not be very powerful. The curriculum is being developed internally by the school district, and it may be that the citizens committee merely reviews it and says yay or nay. On the other hand, they did put some very knowledgeable and highly qualified (and the writing between the lines says "stong-willed") people on the committee, so maybe they expect some real evaluation, some serious feedback. Hopefully some of these things will be cleared up at today's meeting, which is described as an "organizational" one.

Some rumblings from the other side suggest that they may want to attend and monitor every little thing. Well, that's all fine, I can think of better things to do on a Monday night, but if they think it will make a difference ... cool. I just hope it doesn't turn into a circus.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Breaking News: Change Is Possible

Reported in the Wall Street Journal (The WSJ is not available online - this is a syndicated version. Watch out for the croaking frog at the top):
For her 17th wedding anniversary, Jeanette Yarborough wanted to do something special for her husband. In addition to planning a hotel getaway for the weekend, Ms. Yarborough paid a surgeon $5,000 to reattach her hymen, making her appear to be a virgin again.

"It's the ultimate gift for the man who has everything," says Ms. Yarborough, 40 years old, a medical assistant from San Antonio.

Hymenoplasty, a controversial medical procedure known mostly for its prevalence in the Middle East and Latin America, is becoming popular in the U.S. Although there are no hard data, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says vaginal surgery, including hymenoplasty, is one of the industry's fastest-growing segments. Gynecologists are marketing hymenoplasty in magazines, local newspapers and online. They report business is booming.

Restoring innocence this way has sparked criticism. Religious groups that value abstinence until marriage say hymen repair is a deception. Some feminists liken hymenoplasty to female genital mutilation. In addition, hymen repair, unlike other types of reconstructive surgery, isn't taught in medical residencies. Some medical associations worry that surgeons might be improperly trained.

Revirgination" costs as little as $1,800 at Ridgewood Health and Beauty Center, a spa and cosmetic-surgery center in the New York City borough of Queens. To promote the procedure, the center's owner, Cuban-born Esmeralda Vanegas, has given away hymenoplasties on a Spanish-language radio station. She also promotes them in her eponymous magazine, Esmeralda. U.S. women seek a second first time with hymen surgery

To break this down, there are virgins, and there are "experienced" women. Always have been. And now, due to the miracle of modern medicine, there are ex-experienced women, or, as they might call themselves, removing the double negative, "Perienced."

What I want to know is, why do Montgomery County Public Schools discriminate against Perienced Women? The sex ed curriculum pretends that such people don't even exist -- refuses to even mention the possibility. Doesn't the Satanic, er, I mean, School Board realize that women with new hymens are virgins, too? Do these "elected officials" have something to hide? Huh? Huh? Answer me that. Why are they afraid to discuss this issue?

The People demand that time be taken in the classroom to teach Montgomery County students the truth: you can have your hymen reattached. You can be a virgin again. Change is possible. <Chanting swells to deafening volume> Teach both sides! Teach both sides! Teach both sides...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

CRC Tries to Smear School Board, Fails

The Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, you might remember, started life at the web site After the nationwide fundamentalist mandate of the 2004 elections, they thought there would be widespread support for the bright idea of kicking out the entire school board. The board had unanimously adopted a new sex-ed curriculum for 8th and 10th grades, and it mentioned (as it is required to, by state law) homosexuality, with an intelligent discussion of sexual identity. Sexual identity goes beyond the plumbing you're born with, it has to do with differences in feelings of masculinity and femininity and with gender roles in a society, as well as sexual orientation. It's a rather subtle thing, and some people didn't get it.

You can read the two curricula. There are links on the righthand side of this web page, click and see what 8th and 10th graders were going to learn. The sexual identity framework mostly came from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it's not some counterculture thing, it's just solid mainstream thinking from the medical experts. But some people couldn't understand it, or couldn't accept it.

Last week the Montgomery County Board of Education elected a new President and Vice President for the next year. You might find it interesting to see the announcement about this that the Recall Group, er, the CRC, put on their web site:
Dear CRC Friends,

On Tuesday, December 13, 2005, the Montgomery County School Board elected its new president and vice president. They are: Charles Haughey, President and Sharon Cox, Vice President.

As you all know, both elected representatives approved the now-scrapped revisions to the sex ed curriculum which would have allowed the instruction of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender for 12 year olds in the eighth grade. Also included at the tenth grade level was a video depicting the correct way to handle and put on a condom and instruction to use one for anal and oral sex. The video contained many inaccuracies regarding STD’s and rates of pregnancy with condom use.

Mrs. Cox has stated publicly that homosexuality is “mainstream” and needs to be taught to the students as a way to deter bullying in the public schools and help maintain a safe environment.

The Montgomery County public school system does not maintain any records regarding bullying or harassment of students in the schools. This was discovered after CRC requested all data from the school system on reported cases/causes of bullying. According to the latest national records collected by the FBI, the largest percentage of cases related to hate crimes were those involving religion and or race.

Yes, "both elected representatives approved" the curriculum -- that would be true no matter who the new officers were, because the board was unanimous in approving it.

And that comment that Sharon Cox "has stated publicly that homosexuality is 'mainstream'" -- why won't they give us a source for that? It is one of the few pieces of information that Google can't find. What was that quote, exactly, and what were the circumstances for it? I'd bet money Sharon Cox never said any such thing.

The "instruction of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender" is required by Maryland law, and is way overdue. Well, actually the transgender part is not required by law. That's probably one reason the school district didn't include it in the 8th grade curriculum.

The condom video ... yes? It was pretty good. And yes, if you're going to have anal and oral sex you need to know how to stay safe.

Inaccuracies? I don't think so. The video used data from the CDC. One thing had changed, the research was suggesting different advice about the use of spermicide with a condom. But, as you see, that's not the CRC's problem with it. Their problem was that the video existed at all, and that it mentioned anal sex, which is appropriate if you're going to talk about condoms. And especially in these times when AIDS is spread most easily through anal sex, it would be irresponsible not to mention it.

But it's that last comment that gets you -- the pure cynicism of it is unbelievable. They say, According to the latest national records collected by the FBI, the largest percentage of cases related to hate crimes were those involving religion and or race. Well, that's easy enough to check. The FBI's Hate Crime report for 2004 is RIGHT HERE.

And what does it say?

The FBI's summary says this:
In 2004, 2,046 [law enforcement] agencies reported 7,649 incidents involving 9,035 offenses. There were 7,642 single-bias incidents and 7 multiple-bias incidents. (See Tables 1 and 12.) Among the single-bias incidents, racially motivated crimes accounted for 52.9 percent, religious bias accounted for 18.0 percent, bias against sexual orientation accounted for 15.7 percent, and bias against ethnicity or national origin accounted for 12.7 percent. Disability bias motivated 0.7 percent of single-bias incidents.

For the CRC, all that matters is that sexual orientation is not one of the top two motivations for hate crimes. It's third, but that's too far down the list to mention.

That, people, is cynicism with a capital C. They actually want to make the argument that MCPS shouldn't teach about sexual orientation because it's only third on the FBI's list of categories of hate crimes.

They say they don't really want to recall the school board. Their attorney even told the Board "We love you." I don't know, what's your guess?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Two No-No's

Somebody posted this news story in the TeachTheFacts Yahoo group this morning, and for some reason it's been running through my head all day. Not just the story, but ... there's something above and beyond it.

OK, you know that Utah is the most conservative state in the US. One hundred thirty five percent of the voters there voted for G. W. Bush in 2004. So you're not really all that surprised to find out that a Utah state senator is on a crusade to stop the formation of Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in the Utah schools.

Here's the lead from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Sara Hardcastle, the president of Hillcrest High School's Gay Straight Alliance club, says people like Utah Sen. Chris Buttars scare her.

Buttars, a West Jordan Republican, is vowing to push a bill through the upcoming Legislature to outlaw gay-straight clubs in Utah high schools. "I will prevail," he says.

"We are being targeted again," says Hardcastle, a senior who has been in the Midvale high school club - known as GSA - for more than two years. "We are always having a finger pointed at us for doing something wrong - and it's just the opposite. We're doing something right."

By the way, the "we" to which Hardcastle refers is GSA's majority of straight members that includes her.

After five years of controversy and lawsuits over gay-straight clubs at East High School, the Salt Lake School Board settled further legal entanglements in 2000 by allowing students to form extracurricular clubs focused on homosexual issues.

But Buttars says the clubs, which exist in 40 Utah high schools, violate state law and promote a sexuality that most Utahns find "perverted." The schools are in effect sponsoring the clubs to avoid costly lawsuits.

State statute allows a school board to deny access to organizations that encourage criminal or delinquent conduct, promote bigotry or "involve human sexuality." Gay-straight clubs under fire - Lawmaker pushes ban on school alliances, vows: 'I will prevail'

So, wow, you can't even have, like, a car-jacking club, or a holdup club, in Utah. At least at school. You have to go off-campus for that. And that condition about "human sexuality," I can just see some Smart Guy thinking that was a great idea. Sheesh, why do these guys want the government to control everything that people do? These are wild and wacky times we live in.
"What do you think they're talking about at their meetings?" Buttars says of the gay-straight clubs. "If you've got a chess club what are you talking about? If you're in a gay-lesbian club, you're talking about sexuality."

Stan Burnett, director of youth programs at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Utah says club members and advisers meticulously avoid discussing sexuality to avoid running afoul of the law, much as biology and health teachers carefully navigate Utah's laws on sex education.

"We're careful. We don't want to cross the line," Hardcastle says. Members talk about intolerance, teen alienation, and destructive stereotypes. "I don't think we've ever had [sexual orientation] come up in discussion."

But Buttars says: "That's another lie of the gay groups."

Yeah, you can recognize the gay groups -- they're the ones with their pants on fire.

OK, that's all interesting, sure, a Mormon politician in Utah doesn't like gay and straight students to have clubs together. (His religion is listed on his bio HERE, in case you wondered.)

But here's what I'm thinking.

There was some talk last year, several news stories pointing out that the Mormons had more than a passing interest in laws regulating gay marriage. If such a law were contested in a certain way, it could open the door for the legalization of polygamy, which is a Mormon tradition that still continues in the deserts of Utah, Arizona, and nearby states. Of course those marriages are not legal, and I imagine the people involved would sleep a little easier if they knew the sheriff wasn't looking for them.

Now -- how do you feel about plural marriage? I mean, really.

Let me tell you what I think: I don't see it. For me, one wife is plenty. How you can love two or three or more women, how you can manage to live together without jealousy and craziness, I just don't understand.

But the fact is, I couldn't care less if some guy wants to marry a bunch of women. If he mistreats them or whatever, different story, I'm not talking about that. If he wants to have a gang of wives, and his culture accepts it, and he can talk some women into the deal, it doesn't bother me in the least.

Not surprisingly, that's exactly the way I feel about gay marriage, too. Wouldn't want to do it, don't care if somebody else does. Hope they're happy.

Most of the anti-gay bull-oney these days ends up quoting some Bible verses. Certain groups read the Bible in such a way that the worst thing you can do is to fall in love with someone of your own sex. Other biblical prohibitions are ignored (how many of the CRC's leadership are divorced and remarried, do you think?), but the Bible absolutely tells these characters that they need to do everything in their power to make life on earth a living hell for any and all gay people.

And this polygamy thing. The Bible is full of it, and never says anything against it. Didn't some of those old-time guys have like hundreds of wives? Never mind a bunch of concubines.

Really -- reading through the Bible you wonder why the Jerry Falwells and James Dobsons of the world are whining about the "murder of Christmas," and ignoring the "murder of a man's right to marry a bunch of women." They shouldn't just accept polygamy, they should insist on it. You'd think.

I am just finding it interesting to compare the two no-no's, homosexuality and polygamy. To insult the gays, these religious nuts pass laws defining marriage as something between one man and one woman, but that's not the biblical definition, clearly. They are re-defining marriage, and in a way that seems to go against the teachings of the Bible.

There is, in all of this, a whiff of hypocrisy, did you notice?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ford Changes Their Mind

Earlier this week, Ford Motor Company gave in to the American Family Association's threat of a boycott. They agreed to AFA demands to stop advertising in gay media, and that some products stop having gay-oriented ads -- they could still advertise in gay publications, but they wouldn't show obviously gay couples and other cues. Ford also had agreed to drop funding for some gay organizations and events that they had sponsored.

Gay groups and right-minded people everywhere reacted extremely negatively to this, and Ford agreed to meet with a group of gay leaders. Today the company issued a letter, which can be read HERE. In it, Ford agrees to:
  • reaffirm their principles of nondiscrimination and inclusiveness
  • they said they would not place creative restrictions on the way "our brands could speak to gay and lesbian audiences"
  • continue to support nonprofit groups and events in the GLBT community
  • Not only Jaguar and Rover, but all Ford products will continue to advertise in gay and lesbian targeted publications

They defended their right to meet with the Family Blah Blah organizations, which is fair enough. As they say, "We expect to be measured not by the meetings we attend but by our conduct itself."

Sex: Wit and Wisdom

Seems like a lot of people are on a lot of high-horses these days, judging everybody else and making sweeping moral generalizations ... about other people. If you're paying attention, you will have noticed that there is one theme that runs through it, all of it: sex. Sex has got to be the most inconvenient thing in our lives, and has been the cause of wars, famines, and heartbreak since the dawn of time. Life would be so much more ... efficient ... if the whole mess would just go away.

But, happily, it won't.

The following is trimmed down somewhat from a list going around the Internet. Somebody has compiled all these quotes about sex. I expect there will be something in here to offend just about everyone, and I'll just betcha that some people will find the very existence of these sayings offensive. On the other hand, I am pretty sure you'll laugh out loud at least once while you read these.

So we'll lighten it up for a moment. Enjoy.
Condoms aren't completely safe. A friend of mine was wearing one and got hit by a bus. ~Bob Rubin

The tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul. ~William B. Yeats

Sex on television can't hurt you unless you fall off. ~Author Unknown

Flies spread disease - keep yours zipped. ~Author Unknown

For the first time in history, sex is more dangerous than the cigarette afterward. ~Jay Leno

It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance. ~Elizabeth Taylor

A dirty book is rarely dusty. ~Author Unknown

Sex. In America an obsession. In other parts of the world a fact. ~Marlene Dietrich

When a man talks dirty to a woman, it's sexual harassment. When a woman talks dirty to a man, it's $3.95 a minute. ~Author Unknown

Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love. ~Butch Hancock

To hear many religious people talk, one would think God created the torso, head, legs and arms, but the devil slapped on the genitals. ~Don Schrader

Contraceptives should be used on every conceivable occasion. ~Spike Milligan

There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection is the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted. ~Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour

No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens. ~Abraham Lincoln

Familiarity breeds contempt - and children. ~Mark Twain, Notebooks, 1935

We all worry about the population explosion, but we don't worry about it at the right time. ~Arthur Hoppe

Sex is God's joke on human beings. ~Bette Davis

Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions. ~Woody Allen

Against diseases here the strongest fence Is the defensive vertue, Abstinence. ~Robert Herrick, "Abstinence"

Life without sex might be safer but it would be unbearably dull. It is the sex instinct which makes women seem beautiful, which they are once in a blue moon, and men seem wise and brave, which they never are at all. Throttle it, denaturalize it, take it away, and human existence would be reduced to the prosaic, laborious, boresome, imbecile level of life in an anthill. ~Henry Louis Mencken

AIDS obliges people to think of sex as having, possibly, the direst consequences: suicide. Or murder. ~Susan Sontag

There is nothing wrong with going to bed with someone of your own sex. People should be very free with sex, they should draw the line at goats. ~Elton John

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry. ~H.L. Mencken, Notebooks, 1956

Sex relieves tension - love causes it. ~Woody Allen

Whoever called it necking was a poor judge of anatomy. ~Groucho Marx

Sex is emotion in motion. ~Mae West

Love's mysteries in souls do grow, But yet the body is his book. ~John Donne, Extasy

Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life is the other way around. ~David Lodge, The British Museum Is Falling Down, 1965

An intellectual is a person who's found one thing that's more interesting than sex. ~Aldous Huxley

The art of procreation and the members employed therein are so repulsive, that if it were not for the beauty of the faces and the adornments of the actors and the pent-up impulse, nature would lose the human species. ~Leonardo da Vinci

I know nothing about sex, because I was always married. ~Zsa Zsa Gabor

Desire is in men a hunger, in women only an appetite. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

The hypothalamus is one of the most important parts of the brain, involved in many kinds of motivation, among other functions. The hypothalamus controls the "Four F's": fighting, fleeing, feeding, and mating. ~Unknown psychology professor in neuropsychology course

Sex at age ninety is like trying to shoot pool with a rope. ~George Burns

It is not sex that gives the pleasure, but the lover. ~Marge Piercy

Sudden acquaintance brings repentance. ~Thomas Fuller

Love is a matter of chemistry, but sex is a matter of physics. ~Author Unknown

Conservatives say teaching sex education in the public schools will promote promiscuity. With our education system? If we promote promiscuity the same way we promote math or science, they've got nothing to worry about. ~Beverly Mickins

A widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction. ~J.G. Ballard, "News from the Sun," Myths of the Near Future, 1982

Sex: the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble. ~John Barrymore

It is not economical to go to bed early to save the candles if the result is twins. ~Chinese Proverb

Chastity: The most unnatural of the sexual perversions. ~Aldous Huxley, Eyeless in Gaza, 1936

He no play-da-game. He no make-a-da rules! ~Earl Butz, referring to the Pope's stricture against contraception

Out upon it, I have lov'd Three whole days together; And am like to love three more, If it prove fair weather. ~John Suckling

Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional baseball player. It's staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in. ~Casey Stengel

Sex: the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable. ~Lord Chesterfield

Virginity can be lost by a thought. ~St. Jerome

Men reach their sexual peak at eighteen. Women reach theirs at thirty-five. Do you get the feeling that God is playing a practical joke? ~Rita Rudner

Pornography is supposed to arouse sexual desires. If pornography is a crime, when will they arrest makers of perfume? ~Richard Fleischer

Instruction in sex is as important as instruction in food; yet not only are our adolescents not taught the physiology of sex, but never warned that the strongest sexual attraction may exist between persons so incompatible in tastes and capacities that they could not endure living together for a week much less a lifetime. ~George Bernard Shaw, Everybody's Political What's What, 1944

Were kisses all the joys in bed, One woman would another wed. ~William Shakespeare, Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, IV

Sex is the great amateur art. The professional, male or female, is frowned on: he or she misses the point, and spoils the show. ~David Cort

The best contraceptive is a glass of cold water: not before or after, but instead. ~Author Unknown

Isn't it interesting how the sounds are the same for an awful nightmare and great sex? ~From the television show The Golden Girls

I want to tell you a terrific story about oral contraception. I asked this girl to sleep with me and she said "No." ~Woody Allen

Vanity, revenge, loneliness, boredom, all apply: lust is one of the least of the reasons for promiscuity. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Don't worry, it only seems kinky the first time. ~Author Unknown

The reproduction of mankind is a great marvel and mystery. Had God consulted me in the matter, I should have advised him to continue the generation of the species by fashioning them out of clay. ~Martin Luther

When a man goes on a date he wonders if he is going to get lucky. A woman already knows. ~Frederike Ryder

My father told me all about the birds and the bees, the liar - I went steady with a woodpecker till I was twenty-one. ~Bob Hope

Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery? ~Murray Banks

Those who have prophesied dreadful consequences as a result of the greater sexual freedom which the young assert - unwanted babies, venereal disease and so on - are usually the very same people who seek the fulfillment of their prophecies by opposing the free availability to the young of contraception and the removal of the stigma and mystification that surround venereal disease. ~Colin Ward, Anarchy in Action

When the history of civilization is written, it will be a biological history and Margaret Sanger will be its heroine. ~H.G. Wells, 1935

Kinky is using a feather. Perverted is using the whole chicken. ~Author Unknown

I think men talk to women so they can sleep with them and women sleep with men so they can talk to them. ~Jay McInerney

I'd like to meet the man who invented sex and see what he's working on now. ~Author Unknown

A student undergoing a word-association test was asked why a snowstorm put him in mind of sex. He replied frankly: "Because everything does." ~Honor Tracy

The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting. ~Gloria Leonard

Its avowed purpose is to excite sexual desire, which, I should have thought, is unnecessary in the case of the young, inconvenient in the case of the middle aged, and unseemly in the old. Malcolm Muggeridge, on pornography, Tread Softly For You Tread On My Jokes, 1966

When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities. ~Matt Groening

There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible. ~P.J. O'Rourke

I regret to say that we of the FBI are powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless it has in some way obstructed interstate commerce. ~J. Edgar Hoover, attributed

Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it. ~D.H. Lawrence

I'm not cheap, but I am on special this week. ~Author Unknown

Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin - it's the triumphant twang of a bedspring. ~S.J. Perelman

It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses. ~Mrs. Patrick Campbell

Never let the little head do the thinking for the big head. ~Author unknown, advice to teenage boys, quoted in Friendly Advice compiled by Jon Winokur

Our love could change the orbit of the earth. So, if a meteor ever comes hurtling towards earth with the guarantee of destruction, top scientists may call on us to, well, you know, do it like crazy for the sake of humankind. ~Author Unknown

Nothing risqué, nothing gained. ~Alexander Woollcott

To succeed with the opposite sex, tell her you're impotent. She can't wait to disprove it. ~Cary Grant

My message to businessmen of this country when they go abroad on business is that there is one thing above all they can take with them to stop them catching AIDS, and that is the wife. ~Edwina Currie, quoted in The Observer, 15 February 1987

[T]he common thread that binds nearly all animal species seems to be that males are willing to abandon all sense and decorum, even to risk their lives, in the frantic quest for sex. ~Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Virginia is for the Gutless

Virginia's Senator George Allen is a Republican who might be in the running for the Presidential campaigns of 2008. Last year he was one of 65 Senators who voted in favor of a bill that would have extended the federal hate-crime law to include offenses based on sexual orientation, gender and disabilities. This, of course, rubbed some people the wrong way. The guy's supposed to be a conservative, fer cryin' out loud, what's he doing protecting people from haters?

Well, he got some feedback, it sounds like, and has changed his mind -- he'll vote the other way if it comes up again:
Sen. George Allen, R-Va., after coming under fire from some social conservatives for a 2004 vote, plans to reverse course next time and oppose making hate crimes against gay people a federal offense.

"When it comes before the Senate again, he will vote against adding sexual orientation to federal hate-crimes statutes," Mike Thomas, Allen's state director, said yesterday. In 2004, Allen voted the opposite way on an amendment in the Senate.

"I wouldn't define it as a flip-flop," Thomas added.

Joe Glover, president of the Virginia-based Family Policy Network, was among those who pressed for a change. He told The Washington Times after Allen's 2004 vote that Allen "can count on us to expose him as a conservative fraud."

Allen is preparing to seek re-election to the Senate next year and may run for president in 2008.

"I think George Allen is taking note that you must first shore up your conservative base in the GOP if you want to win in Virginia," Glover said yesterday. Allen to reverse stance on crimes against gays

I am constantly amazed that this is how we run our country. We put the very most gutless people in charge, people whose sole skill is the ability to say whatever somebody wants to hear. It's our own fault, we have a choice, it's just ... amazing.

This story ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They note, down in the article:
Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., and Allen were among 65 senators who voted yes on the controversial amendment in June 2004. It did not ultimately pass into law.

Warner was targeted in a Times-Dispatch advertisement yesterday. The ad by a coalition of groups asked people to urge Warner to vote against similar hate-crimes legislation the next time it comes up; Allen was not named.

Warner "appreciates hearing from his constituents on matters of concern to them," a Warner aide said last night.

So it appears some groups got together and actually bought an ad to tell Warner not to vote this way again, not to give protection to people based on sexual orientation.

The text of the ad tells you just what this is about -- there's a picture of a graveyard full of crosses (PS I'm curious, can anybody recognize that cemetery? If you know where that is, please tell us in the comments.):
Ever since the birth of America many have paid the ultimate price to defend the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution. One of the most cherished of those freedoms is – equal justice under law for all citizens. But right now in Congress that very freedom is under attack.

The so-called hate crimes legislation currently in Congress will – for the very first time in our 200-plus years as a Republic – REVERSE EQUAL PROTECTION. “Hate crime” laws wrongfully elevate one class of people above other Americans . . . and punish crimes against them more harshly than the same crime against other victims. That’s not only unfair, it’s unequal justice. And that’s simply un-American.

The legislation is aimed squarely at people of faith, and others who share a deeply held belief that homosexuality and other sexual orientations are not a legitimate or legally defined minority . . . beliefs that are born both of religious conviction and practical experience. “Hate crime” laws have already been used to suppress freedom of religious speech in Philadelphia where eleven Christians – peacefully protesting at a homosexual event in October 2004 –
were handcuffed and jailed. If this “hate crimes” law is passed, the Federal Government will have begun the process of criminalizing the faith – and FREE SPEECH – of every American citizen, including those who have defended those freedoms at the risk of their lives. Call Senator Warner today – before he votes – to let him know the only sure justice for America is equal justice. Richmond Times-Dispath ad

There is also a picture of police hauling away "one of eleven peaceful protesters at a homosexual street festival" in October, 2004. The caption points out that "Eight charges were filed – three felonies and five misdemeanors – including ‘ethnic intimidation,’ the hate crimes category to which homosexuals were recently added."

The ad does not point out that all charges were dropped against the "peaceful protestors" who were videotaped by police being disorderly to the point of trying to start a riot. The reader is directed to, the urban-legend web site, for an objective reporting of details of the incident.

One last comment. I can understand opposing hate-crime laws in general, and this ad starts out that way. If you are serious about equal justice for all, and want to make an issue out of that, OK, I get it. But they tip their hand when they single out the sexual-orientation part. They don't want equal justice for all, they only want it for straight people.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Trouble in Paradise?

As we watch the controversy unfold over Montgomery County's sex-education curriculum, one thing becomes obvious: the religious right is monolithic. Somehow, through their newsletters and sermons, their TV evangelists and their radio preachers and talk-show hosts, they get the word around, and all of a sudden all of them are saying the exact same thing. It's eerie.

But the Denver Post is suggesting today that there may be a storm developing in the upper hypocritosphere over the topic of gay marriage.
What was envisioned as a broad coalition coming together to put a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage on the Colorado ballot next fall is divided over what exactly the measure should say.

According to sources involved in the discussions, the influential Colorado Springs evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family is pressing for a measure that would ban not only gay marriage but also same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships.

But other potential backers of an amendment - including the state's three Roman Catholic bishops - prefer a narrower, potentially less divisive ballot measure that would simply define marriage as between one man and one woman, sources said.

Another key player, the Rev. Ted Haggard of Colorado Springs, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said Thursday that he stands with the Catholic position.

He said the institution of marriage deserves constitutional protection and that civil unions are a matter for the state legislature. Push to nix gay nuptials begins: But groups not all on same page

You can see that there should not be disagreement. I mean, it would be a cruel joke if God, who of course does speak directly to these big-shots, said one thing to one guy and something different to the other one. (Which keeps reminding me of a really terrific Randy Newman song)

This Haggard character, by the way, is a force to reckon with. He has a 9,000-member congregation in Colorado Springs, and is the President of the National Association of Evangelicals. So when he sides with the Catholics against somebody like James Dobson, this is a big deal. Course, he's playing it down.
Haggard characterized the debate as a healthy dialogue that is part of consensus building, pointing out that disagreements also arose over the wording of a proposed federal constitutional amendment barring gay marriage before a united front prevailed among conservatives.

"This is normal," Haggard said. "The Catholics and evangelicals agree that marriage is a sacred institution that should be protected. The only discussion is about how far this particular initiative should go."

Even so, the divide poses a challenge to Focus on the Family, which confirmed in February that it was the catalyst for getting the gay marriage amendment discussion started but insisted it would be taking part in a broad coalition, not leading the charge. Officials with the Christian ministry declined to comment Thursday.

It looks to me like the argument is about whether they hate gay people, or really really hate gay people. I mean -- think about the logic that leads you to propose a law that says that some people can't marry the person they love.

And look at them. The "institution of marriage deserves constitutional protection?" Wha? Will somebody please explain to me, exactly what is going to happen to the institution of marriage? Boys and girls will stop falling in love with each other, they won't want to live all their years together and start families and bounce little Junior on their knee? Because two guys got married? Huh?

Listen -- that's crazy. Good ol' heterosexual love will continue to blossom whether Adam and Steve get hitched or not. To pretend that marriage and "the family" are threatened because some small percentage of people fall in love with someone with the same plumbing as theirs is ... it's a hoax.

Anyway, these guys seem to differ on the degree to which they should impose their bizarre values on people who don't want them. That's a start, I guess.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

"Extreme Bias" - A Mental Disorder?

This is a slap-yourself-in-the-forehead article in tomorrow's Washington Post. We have been dealing for the past year with a group of nutty people who just go crazy over the idea that there are gay people and that some people -- that would be us -- don't see any problem with that. On a related note: did you look at Michelle Turner's Powerpoint slides yet?

They speak, they organize, they write stuff in the blog comments, and you just look at it and wonder how in the world anybody can think that way. You study their words, looking for a unifying theme, looking for some rationality, and there just isn't any.

Well ... could it be? ... maybe they're actually, certifiably nuts.
The 48-year-old man turned down a job because he feared that a co-worker would be gay. He was upset that gay culture was becoming mainstream and blamed most of his personal, professional and emotional problems on the gay and lesbian movement.

These fixations preoccupied him every day. Articles in magazines about gays made him agitated. He confessed that his fears had left him socially isolated and unemployed for years: A recovering alcoholic, the man even avoided 12-step meetings out of fear he might encounter a gay person.

"He had a fixed delusion about the world," said Sondra E. Solomon, a psychologist at the University of Vermont who treated the man for two years. "He felt under attack, he felt threatened."

Mental health practitioners say they regularly confront extreme forms of racism, homophobia and other prejudice in the course of therapy, and that some patients are disabled by these beliefs. As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis. Psychiatry Ponders Whether Extreme Bias Can Be an Illness

How come I never thought of this?

Do you remember the study a couple of years ago that analyzed the conservative agenda? Here's a link to a press release: Researchers help define what makes a political conservative. Those psychologists were gentle, but ... there is something there, definitely.
Advocates have circulated draft guidelines and have begun to conduct systematic studies. While the proposal is gaining traction, it is still in the early stages of being considered by the professionals who decide on new diagnoses.

If it succeeds, it could have huge ramifications on clinical practice, employment disputes and the criminal justice system. Perpetrators of hate crimes could become candidates for treatment, and physicians would become arbiters of how to distinguish "ordinary prejudice" from pathological bias. Thorny discussions about how mental illnesses are defined would get even more prickly.

Many urge more research, saying they are unsure whether bias can be pathological. Solomon, for instance, is uncomfortable with the idea. But several experts say that psychiatry has been inattentive to the effects of prejudice on mental health and illness.

"Has anyone done a word search for 'racism' in DSM-IV? It doesn't exist," said Carl C. Bell, a Chicago psychiatrist, referring to psychiatry's manual of mental disorders. "Has anyone asked, 'If you have paranoia, do you project your hostility toward other groups?' The answer is 'Hell, no!' "

This is an eye-opener. Very interesting...
"When they reach that stage, they are very impaired," he said. "They can't work and function; they can't hold a job. They would benefit from treatment of some type, particularly medication."

Doctors who treat inmates at the California State Prison outside Sacramento concur: They have diagnosed some forms of racist hatred among inmates and administered antipsychotic drugs.

"We treat racism and homophobia as delusional disorders," said Shama Chaiken, who later became a divisional chief psychologist for the California Department of Corrections, at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. "Treatment with antipsychotics does work to reduce these prejudices."

There's more. Lots more.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I Love This

We get an email notification every time somebody signs the online petition here at the web site. And it's great, sometimes you can tell when there's been a news story someplace, the signatures just come popping in, one after the other.

One time this happened, and we couldn't figure it out. There hadn't been any news story that we knew about. It turned out that somebody had said something about us in a school newsletter. People heard about us, checked out the site, signed the petition. Typically, like today, a few also choose to join our Yahoo group. Welcome aboard.

This morning The Post had a nice article that summarized the situation very well. Somebody pointed out that DCist carried a link to The Post's story, too. And here come the signatures!

The Post Is Following the Story

Lori Aratani at The Washington Post put together a really nice story this morning, tying together a lot of things that are going on.

Here in Montgomery County we are engaged in a battle over a new sex education curriculum. It isn't much, mostly replacing out-of-date stuff, but there is something new. For the first time, the curriculum will talk about sexual orientation.

As you are well aware, the radical right is on a gay-hating tear at the national level. I don't get it, but to them, somehow, somebody else's sexual orientation is their business. Oh, listen to 'em weep! The "deviants" and "sodomites" are responsible for the breakdown of the family, the destruction of our free society, they're dirty and carry germs and they're promiscuous, oh, and did I mention they're all child molestors, too?

Please, don't ask me to explain it. I don't know how gay people, of all the crazy things in the world, are to blame for all this, or what's supposed to be wrong with it. Or why anybody would bother to oppose it, as if it was something that would just go away.

From The Post:
The e-mail that landed in mailboxes throughout Montgomery County was provocative:

"DID YOU KNOW . . . . " it read in big, bold type. "Three organizations supporting homosexuality as natural and mainstream were appointed to the NEW Citizens Advisory Committee?" and "Homosexual advocacy groups are targeting Montgomery County children and families?"

On one hand, the missive, sent out last month by members of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC), was just the latest in a series of skirmishes between the parents group and Montgomery County public schools. But the note -- advertising a CRC workshop -- also shows how educators' efforts to talk more frankly about homosexuality are raising alarm among those who believe such topics are taboo in U.S. classrooms. Sex-Ed Battle Hits New Turf Homosexuality Topic Splits Montgomery

It's not clear what the three groups are. The CRC email didn't say, and their Powerpoint slides from the meeting don't say. There are a number of groups represented on the citizens committee. One group, PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), represents families of gay and lesbian people, they have something to do with gay people. None of the others seem to have anything to do with it. The groups are Montgomery County Council of PTAs, us, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, PFOX (which is their guys), and the Montgomery County Region of the Maryland Association of Student Councils.

That "three organizations" thing wouldn't be another lie, would it?

Skipping down a little ways:
For groups that endorse self-described traditional values when it comes to education, such as Liberty Counsel, which has worked closely with CRC in its fight against the Montgomery public school system, and the Alliance Defense Fund, the mention of homosexuality invokes charges that advocacy groups are using the schoolhouse to push a "homosexual agenda" on children.

"It's an adult-driven agenda to indoctrinate students," said Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. "The schools have become kind of a ground zero on the homosexual agenda."

Added Michelle Turner, president of CRC: "Why does the school system believe it's up to them to tell kids [homosexuality] is natural or the same as heterosexuality? Why are schools not promoting religious tolerance?"

"The same as heterosexuality?" Mmm, yeah sure, I'll bet that's going to be in the curriculum. The word "natural" or course is nowhere to be seen. You'd think they objected to something real, to hear them say it. But this is all their own fantasy. None of this was in the proposed curriculum, and none of it will be in the new curriculum, when that comes out. Natural, normal, not in there. Just some facts.

I should mention. The Alliance Defense Fund isn't just a ... defense fund. It is a gigantic group of more than thirty Christian ministries, founded by a coalition of very-top-level extremists, including James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and the American Family Association's Don Wildmon, among others, to provide legal support for rightwing radical issues. Liberty Counsel is the group rooted in Jerry Falwell's Liberty University; they are known locally for filing a lawsuit against the Montgomery County school district, which ended up putting thirty-thousand-plus dollars into their pockets.

As for the last question, the religious tolerance thing, mmm, she wasn't trying to change the subject, was she?
National surveys show broad support for sex education -- and also for teaching about homosexuality -- as long as it is done in an unbiased manner. A 2004 survey by National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government found that one in four of those surveyed thought it was "inappropriate" to teach about homosexuality. But the survey also found that 52 percent of the respondents said they were comfortable with teachers talking about homosexuality in a neutral way. Educators should teach "only what homosexuality is, without discussing whether it is wrong or acceptable," the survey said.

That works for me. Teach about it, leave out the negative stereotypes. MCPS was going to do that. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
Ultimately, the school system threw out those plans after CRC and the group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays sued the school system. Educators are in the process of writing a new program. But school officials said the new curriculum likely will still include discussions about homosexuality. It will be reviewed by a citizen advisory committee and is expected to be completed in the spring.

The story ends with quotes from both sides of the local battle:
Jim Kennedy, a Montgomery County parent and member of -- a group that supports comprehensive sex education in the county's public schools, including discussions regarding homosexuality -- said it's important for kids to understand what homosexuality is, in part because they may be struggling with issues of sexual identity.

"That kid deserves to know what's happening to them," Kennedy said.

But for Turner, the CRC president, there is a larger issue at hand.

"I think the question begs: What are our public schools becoming?" she asked. "Are they going to be advocates of every politically correct topic that comes along?"

Well, if that's all they've got, the "politically correct" thing, what can you say?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

CRC Badmouth Even Less Effective Than Usual

The anti-MCPS group Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum had a public meeting a couple of weeks ago that sort of blew up in their faces when their featured speaker, Warren Throckmorton, argued that the school district should provide a more nuanced discussion of sexual identity and that the curriculum should stay close to the scientific findings. The meeting was held November 19th, and just yesterday they finally posted something about it on their web site. They give a very terse summary of Throckmorton's talk, and posted Powerpoint presentations by CRC President Michelle Turner, speaker Ruth Jacobs, and psychologist Throckmorton. They also posted another document that Throckmorton handed out, an attempt to write a "curriculum" -- it's not really that, and I hope they don't try to push it on the Montgomery County school district, but as a standalone document it's ... his idea of how sexual variation could be taught.

Anyway, Ms. Turner's talk was titled "Propaganda Vs. The Truth," and for some reason she found it necessary to badmouth our group right from the start. (Guess which one we are -- are we "Propaganda" or "The Truth?") (No fair, you must have peeked.)

Early on, she showed a beautiful slide, just classic. At the top it says, bolded, underlined: "Truth." And under that, I kid you not, it says:
"Agencies of the United States Government conclusively show that homosexual sex is far more dangerous than normal, heterosexual sex."

Oddly, she does not cite a reference for this Truth, which is, by the way, not true at all. It's not even a meaningful sentence.

Listen, what is "homosexual sex?" Do homosexuals have different orifices from heterosexuals? Can anybody tell me one thing that homosexuals do in bed that heterosexuals don't do? I mean, c'mon. (I'll say more about this in a second.)

Ah, but the next slide is where I get my fifteen seconds of fame. This one has, at the top, the word "Propaganda." bold, of course, and underlined. And then two quotes from little old me, from this blog. Here they are:
“--------, this might seem strange to you, but I don't see an age-limit for a term like ‘anal sex.’”

“There's nothing you can say about gay sex that's any different from any other sex.”

The first thing, I'm not going to argue about this out-of-context quote. There was a long, actually pretty interesting discussion in the comments here a couple of months ago. Check it out HERE and HERE if you're interested.

But that other thing, that gay sex is just like any other sex.

I mean, really ... this is just laughable. OK, I'll wipe away the smirk for a second and try to take her seriously.

I'll guess that when she says "gay sex" she probably means anal and oral sex. Well, why doesn't she just say that, then? Anal sex presents certain dangers because the rectal tissue absorbs fluids easily -- that's why suppositories work. Abrasions make it especially vulnerable, and anal sex can result in damage to the rectal tissue. There's no argument about that. Certain viruses and bacteria are spread more easily through the anus than through, for instance, the vagina.

But why would she call that "gay sex?"

Look, here's a CDC study published a couple of months ago, a survey of American sex practices:
Among adults 25–44 years of age, 97 percent of men and 98 percent of women have had vaginal intercourse; 90 percent of men and 88 percent of women have had oral sex with an opposite-sex partner; and 40 percent of men and 35 percent of women have had anal sex with an opposite-sex partner. About 6.5 percent of men 25–44 years of age have had oral or anal sex with another man. Based on a differently worded question, 11 percent of women 25–44 years of age reported having had a sexual experience with another woman. Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women 15–44 Years of Age, United States, 2002

See -- most anal sex is heterosexual, like by more than six to one. More than a third of adults have had anal sex with an opposite-sex partner, but only about one man in fifteen has had anal or oral sex (both lumped together) with another guy. So what sense does it make to call that "gay sex?"

Maybe she meant oral sex. But look at that same study. When ninety percent of people have had oral sex with an opposite-sex partner -- you can't call that "gay sex."

Ninety percent.

See, it was stupid of her to quote me on this one, because it made me go look up the numbers, and now everybody sees that she was as wrong as she could be. Caught lying again.

She said some other things about us, some lies, some true but irrelevant. It's just weird and sometimes embarrassing to have to deal with this kind of thing. But I'll tell you, if you ignore it it doesn't go away.

Hey, you want to see what we're up against here? Go to the CRC's web site, read her slides. The link is HERE. Look at what she says. See if you want these people influencing your kid's education. If you do, they have all kinds of petitions and things for you to do.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hypocritical Mayor Recalled

Did I report this story already? No ... it seems familiar somehow. James West was a conservative politician, anti-gay ranter, fought for the Defense of Marriage Act -- his public image was both straight and narrow. Until May 5th. Then the local paper came out [pun intended] with a story on him.

It started a little something like this:
In an Internet chat room last New Year’s Eve where he discussed his recent date with an 18-year-old man, Spokane Mayor Jim West criticized the “sex Nazis” who try to regulate private sexual behavior.

For years, that’s exactly what West tried to do in Olympia.

Over two decades, West rose to power in the Washington Legislature with a carefully cultivated image as a fiscally conservative Republican opposed to gay rights, abortion rights and teenage sex.

Hey, we've got some Anonymice here who are starting to think this guy sounds pretty good. He's one of them ...

But the article tooks some twists and turns. I'll cut and paste here...
Sen. Brad Benson, R-Spokane, said he’s heard rumors in Olympia that West preferred young men. But he and West aren’t close because West supported ex-Sen. Brian Murray, West’s former aide, in the 2004 GOP Senate primary, Benson said.

“The Republicans represent two camps,” Benson said. “One camp is about individual liberty and the economy. For them, whether you’re gay or not doesn’t make a difference. But for the conservative wing, adultery and homosexuality plays bad. They want to look at their leaders and say, these are people we can admire,” Benson said.

In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday night, West acknowledged he’d recently begun to seek out young men on the Internet and said he couldn’t explain why. “I don’t want to go into the whole issue, but I wouldn’t characterize me as ‘gay,’.” West said.

West and 14 other Republicans reacted strongly to Gov. Booth Gardner’s Christmas Eve 1985 executive order banning discrimination in state hiring based on sexual orientation.

Their 1986 bill, which failed, would have barred gay men and lesbians from working in schools, day-care centers and some state agencies. It called for screening prospective employees for sexual orientation and firing employees whose homosexuality became known.

The bill prompted a Spokesman-Review op-ed column by Jeannette Loehr, spokeswoman for the Spokane Gay Leadership Coalition.

West’s bill is “police-state” legislation that stirs up “the fears of the ignorant and the hatred of the bigoted,” Loehr wrote.

You see, this was a very careful article. I wonder how they got this guy to talk to them in an interview...

I think even the Anonymice are seeing that this turns out badly.

Skipping through the story some more (it's quite long and thorough):
As a Senate leader, West consistently opposed efforts to expand civil rights protections for gays in jobs and housing. In an interview Wednesday, he said he’s philosophically opposed to legislation that creates “special classes” of rights for minorities, including gays. “I don’t think you should discriminate against anybody. I have never been outspoken against gays, and I’ve never discriminated against gays,” West said, adding that he felt the gay rights bills were unnecessary.

In an April 9 Internet chat, West sent his photo to “Moto-Brock,” the person he believed was an 18-year-old Spokane high school senior. Instead, Moto-Brock was a forensic computer consultant hired by the newspaper to verify the mayor’s identity and presence on

According to the Internet dialogue with the consultant, West repeated his earlier offer of an internship at City Hall for Moto-Brock.

West told Moto-Brock he had to be extremely careful about not revealing “a part of my life I don’t share at all,” the transcripts show.

“Someday I may run for governor and this would be bad if you know what I mean.”

Well, yes, he was right about that part. People don't care if you're gay, but they do object to the hypocrisy.

Spokane voters today recalled West. According to ABC this afternoon:
A little more than half of the 110,000 ballots mailed to voters were counted in the first batch of results released Tuesday night. Of those, 38,718, or 65 percent, voted to recall West, while 20,681, or 35 percent, voted to retain him.

Even though this just happened, the whole thing seems so ... familiar.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Maybe They Were Saying "Aunty Gay"

I'll admit, I had a visceral reaction when I heard congressman "Duke" Cunningham interviewed on the radio, weeping and feeling sorry for himself, now that he had been caught ripping off the taxpayers, taking bribes, escalating political corruption to a new high. You didn't see him weeping a whole bunch before he got caught, did you?

Well, actually, I was wrong about that part. He was known as a bit of a weeper. In an article that might deserve the award for Most Inaccurate Headline, the Washington Post said this week:
For those who have observed Duke Cunningham's behavior in Washington for 15 years, especially those who have felt his scorn, his remorseful exit from the House last week carried no surprises. Since his early days in Congress, Cunningham's behavior has been predictable: ad hominem attacks followed by tearful apologies.In one now-famous incident, Cunningham and Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) got in a shoving match over sending troops to Bosnia. Moran confronted Cunningham, triggering a partisan melee among other members -- and Cunningham fled.

Moran found him crying in the cloakroom. Cunningham Friends Baffled By His Blunder Into Bribery

The story is headlined "Cunningham Friends Baffled By His Blunder Into Bribery," but the whole thing is about how not-surprised his friends were.

The thing is, for such a tough guy, war veteran and everything, you wondered, why's he running off "crying in the cloakroom?" Sheesh, the "real" Duke would be ashamed.

Recently a reporter asked me why some people who are so paranoid about gay people. That wasn't how they put it, but essentially that's the question: what motivates those people? I don't even try to answer the question, but really, that's the big question, isn't it? We have heard the nastiest things said here in Montgomery County, referring to gay people as "deviants" and "sodomites," and saying the worst things about them. It is clearly an orchestrated attack, with national organizations throwing this stuff around like misanthropic zoo-chimps and the local mouthpieces repeating it; there's something behind it, something that drives them -- but what?

Why do they care?

I can name you quite a few people who spend all day, every day, saying nasty things about gay people. They do it for a living, and are paid well for it. But ... is that what you want to be when you grow up? Or do you just end up like that?

"Duke" Cunningham, the Republican congressman-slash-convict was one of those people.

Insider-blogger Wonkette reminds us of some things, under the title, "Duke-stir Cries, Clutches Pearls." She writes:
[The Los Angeles Times] runs down Duke Cunningham's lavish lifestyle. Lavish, alternative lifestyle. The Air Force veteran apparently underwent a kind of, uhm, change at some point: "Personally, his taste ran to country music and cowboy novels - which made the French antiques and Oriental rugs he took from contractors seem anomalous." Anomalous? We think the Washington Post was more on target: Duke had "surprisingly delicate taste." Gay taste. And, well, perhaps there's was an element of protesting-too-much when he derided the Dems for being the ones who let "homos into the military," let alone entertaining ladies on the Duke-stir boat all Ron Burgundy-style.

And then she reminds us of a curious incident a few years ago.

There was a story about Cunningham in the Washington Blade, the local gay newspaper, in 2003:
It began as a remarkable vignette about a virulently anti-gay congressman who reached out in private to gay activists with questions about how people know if they are gay. But last month, retold before an audience of nearly 200 at a Gay Pride town hall meeting, a remembered encounter from eight years ago has raised questions about whether the leader of this country’s largest gay rights organization has on several occasions effectively outed a member of Congress.


Birch did not identify the congressman but said the meeting took place a short time after the congressman created a controversy in 1995 when he referred to gays as “homos” on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Media reports and other background facts indicate that Congressman Randall “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.), an archconservative from San Diego, fits many of the details in Birch’s story. Birch denies speech outed anti-gay congressman

Now, come on, you must agree that this is at least ... strangely interesting.
The news media in San Diego reported at that time that in a speech on the floor of the House, Cunningham decried the presence of “homos” in the military. He appears to be the only member of the House to call gays “homos” on the House floor at that time, and most likely at any time since then, according to a review of news media reports and the Congressional Record.

And of course, this followed:
Harmony Allen, Cunningham’s press secretary, said Cunningham never met with Birch and never made any such comments about gays or his feelings toward men.

“He has never had a conversation with that woman,” Allen said. “The meeting did not take place.” Allen added, “He is a heterosexual.”

There is one more little piece that I need to mention. That is a study done by researchers at the University of Georgia a few years back. Here's how it's described at
A study that appears to reveal a major cause of homophobia was completed at the University of Georgia in 1996. It involved 64 white men, none of whom had engaged in homosexual acts during their lifetime. Their sexual fantasies involved only women. 35 of them were rated homophobic; 29 non-homophobic. For the purpose of this study, "homophobia" was defined as a negative emotional reaction (e.g., fear, anxiety, anger, discomfort) to homosexuality. It was measured by a questionnaire called the Index of Homophobia. Each was shown three types of X rated videotapes: heterosexual, lesbian and gay. A plethysmograph measuring device (affectionately called a "peter meter") measured the circumference of their penis as a gauge of sexual arousal.

The two groups exhibited similar arousal when they viewed 4 minute samples taken from one heterosexual and one lesbian movie. But they responded differently to the male homosexual clip:
Degree of Tumescence:  Insignificant Moderate  Definite 
Homophobic men 20% 26% 54%
Non-homophobic men 66% 10% 24%

The researchers concluded that these data are consistent with the belief that most homophobic men have repressed homosexual desires. An alternate, but much less likely, explanation is that the homophobic men's erections were caused by anxiety during the experiment.

Further research is needed to clarify the results and to answer questions such as whether these results would generalize to homophobic women.

Lots of people are uncomfortable about sex, and really a lot are uncomfortable around gay people. I figure that's because it's a relatively uncommon thing, and because our society has, until recently, been more or less quiet about it.

But some people are really freaked out by it. Can't get that disgusting stuff out of their minds.

I'm not saying what I think, just telling you what I saw on the Internet.

Monday, December 05, 2005

County PTA Delegates Resolution Against CRC

It must be tough being the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum. Your moral sense is so refined, you are so sure that your way of life is better than everyone else's, but for some reason other people don't seem to agree. The CRC keeps trying to spread its ... superiority ... through our county, and people keep not buying it.

Like, remember that smart idea they had, to send letters to all the families of kids at the schools where the new sex-ed program was going to be piloted?

Here's the result of that, a resolution passed this month by the Montgomery County Council of PTA's Delegates -- not the executive board, but the Delegates Assembly, consisting of two representatives from every school in the county, plus all the PTA Presidents, plus all of the county officers and the Executive Board:
WHEREAS each school year the local PTA units of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) typically compile and publish student directories that include personal and potentially sensitive information such as the names, street addresses, e-mail and telephone numbers of students whose parents have agreed to have such information included, and

WHEREAS by common knowledge and accepted practice these directories are intended exclusively for the private use of the PTA and the local PTA communities to facilitate communication within their communities, and are not intended to be used for any other purpose, and

WHEREAS the president of an organization calling itself the Citizens for Responsible Curriculum (CRC) has privately conceded to MCCPTA officers that CRC obtained copies of selected student directories and used the information in these directories to develop a mailing list for a purpose inconsistent with the intended or appropriate use of the directories, and

WHEREAS the misuse of student directories by CRC has caused substantial concern among parents within the affected communities, and

WHEREAS the PTAs in the affected communities are justifiably concerned that fears about potential future misuse of student directories could lead parents to withhold student directory information, thereby impairing a critical PTA asset,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCCPTA Delegate Assembly strongly believes that the CRC should respond promptly and completely to all questions and concerns raised by local PTA units about the sources and intended uses of their student directory information, specifically identifying any instances in which this information may have already been sold or otherwise made available to another individual or entity, and

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the MCCPTA Delegate Assembly strongly believes that the CRC should agree in writing to cease using information obtained from PTA student directories, and to return to the affected PTAs all copies of their directory information now in the possession of CRC, in whatever form the information may exist, or certifying in writing that this information has been destroyed, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCCPTA Delegate strongly believes that the CRC should concede in writing that its use of student directory information was inappropriate and agree that it will refrain from any future use of PTA student directory information.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ford Gives in to Bigots

The American Family Association is one of those big rightwing organizations that hate gay people and everything about them. Recently, they threatened to boycott Ford Motor Company for the crime of placing ads in gay magazines and newspapers. This Christian group deems it sinful to sell cars to gay people, please don't ask me to explain their reasoning.

Here, I'll let The Advocate tell you about it:
The antigay American Family Association claimed a cultural victory on Thursday and called off its threatened boycott of Ford Motor Co. On Friday, Ford spokesman Mike Moran confirmed to that the company will stop advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications but insisted it was strictly a business decision.

The Dearborn, Mich., automaker came under fire from the AFA in May for its longtime efforts to increase LGBT workplace diversity and support gay rights causes. Ford has long been a regular advertiser within gay media, including The Advocate, and has donated significant sums to LGBT causes and nonprofit groups such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Threatened with a boycott by the Mississippi-based AFA, Ford and some of its dealers agreed to negotiate, and the AFA announced in June that it would hold off on its planned action. On Thursday, AFA announced the boycott would be canceled altogether.

"They've heard our concerns; they are acting on our concerns. We are pleased with where we are," said Donald Wildmon, AFA’s chairman, in a statement. Jaguar, Land Rover ads halted in gay media, Ford confirms.

Sometimes I hear this stuff and I just can't fathom it. Like, how in the world does this Family Blah-Blah group decide this is the one, they're going after Ford? Why Ford?

I was interviewed The Advocate this year, of course they're interested in this controversy in Montgomery County where the nuts want to squelch any discussion in the classroom about sexual orientation. They sent me the issue where I'm quoted, it's the "Summer Sex Issue" with some guy with his shirt unbuttoned sitting on a motorcycle on the cover. My kids were funny when this came in the mail and was sitting on the kitchen table. Kind of like, what is that? Yeah, daddy's in there somewhere... I'm looking through it now, and there are ads from all kinds of big companies. I'm afraid to say their names on the Internet, don't want to jinx any of them. Hotel chains, travel agencies, liquor companies, cigarettes, medicines, yeah, there's the Land Rover ad. It's just like any other magazine, with a particular readership.

So for some reason these nuts decided Ford was their baby, they were going to boycott Ford.

And for some reason, Ford decided to give in to them.
Specific terms of any formal agreement between the AFA and Ford—and whether any such agreement has in fact been reached—remain unclear.

When first contacted, Ford spokesman Moran referred to the AFA statement, suggesting that the company had no disagreement with Wildmon's assertions. In a second conversation he confirmed that the company would no longer advertise Jaguar and Land Rover products in the gay media, saying that the decision was strictly "business."

I don't think this is going to end so easily.

For one thing, the Washintgon Post had a front page story today about the car manufacturers wanting government money. Well that's what the government is for, isn't it? To collect money from people and give it to gigantic corporations?
Troubled U.S. automakers and their allies on Capitol Hill are seeking billions of dollars in aid from the federal government ranging from health coverage for their workers to extra tax write-offs for themselves.

They're also asking for one rhetorical favor: Please don't call the requests a bailout.

"I don't view it as a bailout," Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) said.

"We're not looking for a bailout," agreed William C. Ford Jr., chairman of Ford Motor Co. Automakers Are Lining Up Aid, But Just Don't Call It a Bailout

They want to be bigots and go on welfare. But don't call it a "bailout." --Wouldn't you think they'd want to reach a larger, rather than smaller, market? Does it make sense, when you're saying you can't pay your bills, to suddenly announce that you don't want to sell your product to millions of consumers?

I think AmericaBlog (motto: "A great nation deserves the truth") is going to set the tone here. At least some of the bloggers there are gay, the top guy "John in DC" is, and they plan to fight back.

AmericaBlog has ordered a copy of Henry Ford's book, entitled The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, and will start posting excerpts of it online as soon as the book arrives.

Henry Ford was a supporter of Adolph Hitler, back in the day. It is not known how much money he contributed to the Nazis, but the Ford Motor Company built plants in Germany to support the Nazi build-up to World War II, using forced labor to produce military vehicles. Ford was given the Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle (Großkreuz des Deutschen Adlerordens) for his support, and his newspapers published extensive pro-Nazi features.

In announcing their plans and bringing up the Ford/Nazi connection, AmericaBlog's main blogger, John Aravosis, said this:
(Note from John: You'd think Ford would recognize it's unique historical burden to remember the wrongs of the past and not cave yet again to the prejudiced whims of jack-booted bigots. You'd think that. But you'd be wrong.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Tale of Two Churches

It looks like this one even has the far right a little upset. I'm looking at World Net Daily, which is just about as conservative a web site as you can find. They're reporting on this story about the federal government sending the IRS to threaten an Episcopal church out in California, because they had a sermon opposing the Iraq war. Of course, this isn't the source I would normally cite for something like this -- this story has been in all the major papers -- but there is a special kind of irony in hearing them tell it:
Questioned about an Episcopal church that's been targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for allegedly talking about taboo subjects from the pulpit, presidential press secretary Scott McClellan said at today's White House press briefing it's not the president's place to "engage in IRS enforcement matters."

The IRS is investigating All Saints Episcopal Church, a registered nonprofit, because of a sermon delivered there in which the speaker criticized the war in Iraq and President Bush's tax cuts.

"Will the president intercede on behalf of this church to stop this investigation that has all the earmarks of a political retribution, since the president has so much respect for churches?" WND asked McClellan.

Responded the press secretary: "I'm not familiar with this specific enforcement action, but I think that that's something you need to address to the IRS, if it's an IRS enforcement action."

"Yes," countered WND, "but I just wonder, is the president – does he approve of this? Won't he intercede on behalf of this church?" Bush won't intercede on behalf of church: Episcopalians targeted by IRS for allegedly talking down Iraq war

It sounds like even the World Net Daily sees something fishy in this, as if the federal government should not harass groups that disagree with its policies.

On the subject of the IRS and religious organizations -- this from the Washington Post:
DENVER -- A Washington-based group has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether Focus on the Family or its founder James Dobson violated IRS rules by electioneering.

James Bopp, an attorney for the Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian group, said the group has fully complied with IRS code.

The complaint, filed Monday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, also asked the IRS to investigate whether the tax-exempt status of Focus on the Family should be revoked. Tax-exempt organizations cannot participate in campaigns for or against candidates for public office.

The group alleges that news articles showed Dobson endorsed candidates for Congress before the organization officially formed its separate public policy arm, Focus on the Family Action, in July 2004.

Bopp said the organization didn't break any rules.

"Anything Dr. Dobson did to endorse candidates, he did as an individual," Bopp said. Focus on the Family Faces IRS Grievance

Mmm, it's a long shot here, but I'm going to bet that the government does not choose to hassle Focus on the Family. What do you think?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blogger Problems

We run this blog through a free service called Blogger, which is owned by Google and is normally pretty good for the price. Sometimes, though, it has problems. Yesterday and today have been some of those times. If comments are getting stuck or lost, please email me and I will try to republish the blog. Note, though, that I just did that, and it took about a half an hour (instead of the usual 20-30 seconds) and ended up telling me "there are errors."

So we'll see, I hope they get it fixed soon. Hang with us, this is just one of those things that happens sometimes.