Free Speech for Assholes

I try not to say that I hate anyone who disagrees with me politically.  Sure, I make fun, possibly insult, and so on, but I don’t hate. But I’m inclined to throw that out the window for the Phelps group. 
You’ve heard of these pussheads, right?  Fred Phelps, and his cohorts form the Westboro Baptist Church.  They make a point of  standing around at solider’s funerals.  Soldiers. Who. Have. Been Killed. In. War. And they wave their flags and banners and celebrate the death of our brave men and women.  See, they’ve somehow gotten it into their tiny little asshole heads that God hates gays, and since America is (kind of-sort of) nice to gay people, every dead solider is just a wee little bit of God’s glorious retribution for our wrongs.  So they take it upon themselves to go to the funerals of passed on soldiers, where there are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and sometimes even spouses and children who have lost a loved one far, far too early, and they wave banners proclaiming “God Hates Fags.” 
The only good thing about the Phelps group is that it has sparked one of my now-favorite organizations, The Patriot Guard Riders.  This is a group of what would appear to be your stereotypical motorcyclists, with leather and chains, but they’re mission is to ride around to these funerals.  With the grieving family’s blessing, they do what they can to stand between the family and the Phelps assholes, hoping to separate them so the family does not have to deal with dickheads in what should be a private time of mourning.  They wave flags and even pray with the family if desired, anything to help them deal with their grief and these monsters. 
But here’s the problem:  There’s more to this than just a bunch of idiots exercising their sadism on a dead hero’s grief-stricken loved ones.  A Kansas father, who’s had to experience these assholes firsthand at his son’s funeral, has sued these jerks for invading his privacy and emotional damages.  Although the fallen hero’s father did win a significant jury verdict, the Fourth Circuit has overturned this verdict, stating that they had a protected right to speak.  The Supreme Court will review it. 
As much as I hate it, I hope the Supremes rule in favor of the Phelps monsters.  If the First Amendment failed to protect unpopular and even emotionally destructive speech, it would not be worth one of the Phelps groups filth spewing signs.  If emotional devastation is the standard by which we reject speech, we will have to allow others to decide what could be emotionally devastating.  It may be something almost all of us can agree is horrible today, but it may be something that is vitally important tomorrow.  Even assholes have First Amendment rights. 

“Someone told us to be very careful with digging too deep into this, because if our hunch is right and this does lead back to the DNC and Organizing for America themselves, there are many people who will do us physical harm to keep us from exposing them.”

 In 1991, when Clarence Thomas came before Congress for his nomination process, he was bamboozled by a former employee’s outlandish, and heretofore completely un-complained of, allegations of sexual harassment.  I was only 11 years old when this happened, but even I could see that this was nothing but a shallow and desparate attempt to derail his nomination process.  But I didn’t understand why.  When he famously referred to that incident as a “high-tech lynching for uppity blackswho in any way deign to think for themselves,” I didn’t really understand what that meant.  Now, I do.   

The Democratic party, the liberals, believe that they have a hold on black Americans.  They have no reason not to believe this; blacks have, in recent memory, supported the Democrats by enormous majorities.  So Thomas was threat; he could show the public an intelligent, high ranking black man who openly and unapologetically rejected the liberal line.  “Uppity” used to refer to a black person who thought that he could rise above his rank and be on par with whites; for Justice Thomas, it was no different.  He was uppity by thinking for himself and rejecting the norm.  He had to be stopped, and Anita Hill was to do it.  While these allegations did not, fortunately, derail Thomas’s nomination, they put a serious dent in his prestige as a justice. 

But this is about far more than race.  More recently, we have seen the treatment of women who dare to speak against the liberal ideal.  Democrats have never had as tight a hold on women as they do on blacks, but they do have some significant grip.  More importantly than the sheer number of voters, though, is that outspoken women are largely liberal.  Many conservative women stay quiet; they have families and jobs and lives; they keep their heads down and don’t make waves.  Not seen means no real threat; Democrats can continue to tell us that Republicans are the party of sexism, and who’s going to challenge them?  Some man?  Hah! 

But enter Sarah Palin; enter Michelle Bachmann; enter even Carrie Prejean, and we have a problem.  If women start seeing that they, too, could speak out about their conservative beliefs, that they could do so passionately and honestly, well, Democrats could lose what hold they have.  So they don’t engage these women on their beliefs or positions.  Intelligent debate is too great a risk. These women must be destroyed, with slander, threats, and more.

And now, it’s the gays.   In case you aren’t familiar, the blog HillBuzz, which is run by some gay men who originally wanted to throw their full-fledged support behind Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, got a lot more buzz when it brazenly and defiantly rejected President Obama and the present Democratic leadership.  And how does this leave them?  Well, the fabulous gents at HillBuzzare now finding themselves working to uncover a plot against them that they describe as “defamation, threats, and harassment.”  And, from what they’re hearing, this is more than just an internet prank:

Someone told us to be very careful with digging too deep into this, because if our hunch is right and this does lead back to the DNC and Organizing for America themselves, there are many people who will do us physical harm to keep us from exposing them.

We should have seen this coming.  Gays are also beholden to the Democratic party; they’ve long voted for the D almost without thinking, and the Democrats must do no more than throw them a few crumbs every now and then to keep them onboard.  There’s reason to believe that this might be changing.  Change is bad, if you’ve already got a group under your thumb.  HillBuzz has publically broken ranks with the Democratic party, and criticized them at every turn since 2008.  HillBuzz must be stopped. 

But, HillBuzz notes something that the liberals didn’t count on:

Well, they’ve made the mistake of targeting single, gay guys with no children, no one depending on us for anything, and no real reason to sit back and let them attack us unchallenged.  We live in Chicago.  We’ve been mugged.  We’ve been physically assaulted before.  We’ve been dealing with nonstop harassment from Obama supporters for over two years now — all in service to their “Lightbringer” of Hope and Change, whose message can only, it seems, be spread through violence and thuggery.

Godspeed, Fellows.  You might just lick this thing for all of us.

I’m sorry, I can’t understand you with that tape over your mouth

So Cindy McCain, wife of the former presidential hopeful, has decided to pose for the Anti-Anti-Gay Marriage campaign “NoH8.”  The picture, similar to hundreds of others in the campaign, displays Ms. McCain, glamourously made up, heavily photoshopped, and hair wind-blown, and posed with duct tape covering her mouth and the (word?  phrase? symbol?) letters and number combination”NOH8″ written on her cheek. 

This has gotten a lot of buzz in the internet world.  I can’t imagine why folks are surprised; her husband has always been at least as friendly towards the subject of gay marriage as his former opponent, our current president.  (By the way, interesting to note how differently these two men’s positions, which are exactly the same, were portrayed by various media outlets.)  The comments in the CNN story consist of expressions of surprise and “you go girl”-type statements as if she’s doing something remarkably brave.  She’s not; she, and the rest of this campaign, are doing something remarkably silly.  Not because they are wrong on the issue, mind you.   I don’t think that they are.  But their interpretation of the issue is nothing short of stupid. 

The Advocate describes this campaign thusly: “All of the subjects are photographed with duct tape over their mouths to symbolize that their voices aren’t being heard on the subject of marriage equality.”  But duct tape over the mouth doesn’t symbolize voices not being heard; it symbolizes restraint from voices being used.  It’s similar to the “Day of Silence” campaign, where schoolchildren are encouraged to act like spoiled brats by refusing to speak all day long, in order to “symbolically represent the [supposed] silencing of LGBT students and their supporters.” 

Imagine, for a moment, that I am a Baptist preacher.  I preach against the sins of alcohol.  (They actually do that here in Tennessee.  No, I don’t get it, either.)  I even preach that the government should make drinking illegal.  I buy commercials and billboards, and do everything possible to make my opinion known. 

And nobody listens to me. 

Oh, sure, a few people might listen to me and agree.  And some (probably quite a lot of) people will make fun of me, and a few people will complain about me.  But no one can say that my voice is not heard, or cannot be heard, simply because the majority of people disagree.  So it goes with the gay marriage movement, and other gay rights issues.  They can speak; no one is preventing it.  Some people simply don’t like what they have to say. 

And let’s talk about the name of the campaign, the real principle of the thing: “NoH8.”  Obviously, the H8 is intended to indicate “hate,” in the sense that hatred, as opposed to just the inability to get married, is what they are really striving against.  Now, I know that it’s in vogue to proclaim that any opposition to your point of view is clearly the result of “hate” and to proclaim all of your opponents to be “haters,” but is this really the case?  Is it really true that all, or even the majority of, opposition to gay marriage stems from “hate”?

As best as I can tell, the main reasons given for opposition to gay marriage comes down to just a few broad arguments: religious beliefs, tradition, or social concerns. 

Many people believe that religion dictates that homosexuality is immoral and an affront to God.  Do you hate everyone who ever does anything immoral?  If you do, it must keep you pretty busy.  Most religions I’m familiar with indicate that you should love the sinner, even if you think they’re wrong.  The second argument is that marriage has always been between a man and a woman, so it should remain so.  Again, I’m not saying it’s a good argument, you’ve got to squint pretty hard to translate that into hatred.  The third argument is that gay marriage can lead to other social changes, such as kids being taught about gay issues in school without their parents’ consent (this was considered a powerful argument in the Prop 8 debate) or businessowners being forced to participate in gay weddings despite their disagreements with them.  Again, this is an argument about individual rights; it has nothing to do with hatred of anyone. 

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t some people  out there who truely hate people just because they are gay.  I mean, I’ve never met them, but the internet certainly indicates to me that they exist.  So, of course, do KKK members, and neo-nazis, and people that want to beat up redheads.  We can deal with it.  But accusing your political opponent of “hate,” rather than engaging his or her actual arguments, is nothing short of lazy.  It implies that you don’t have anything substantive to say.  Or not say, as the case may be for the subjects of the NoH8 campaign.

Not seeing the vicious backlash, here

I normally enjoy Cynthia Yockey’s unique perspective, as a “newly conservative lesbian,” on things, but I’m really disappointed in her latest post comparing the backlash involving Carrie Prejean to that involving the Ft. Hood massacre.   She has some pretty nasty things to say about Ms. Prejean following her actions on Larry King Live

She showed her true character again during her recent interview on “The Larry King Show” (above) when he asked her a question that a gracious and/or mature woman would have seen coming and memorized five or six charming and disarming replies for and then changed the subject. (I am ripping off the “charm and disarm” expression from an episode of “The West Wing.”)

King tossed Prejean a softball that hinted at her masturbation video, which she has acknowledged exists. A pro knows that is her golden opportunity to frame the controversy her way and move on — there’s nothing inappropriate about King’s question at all because THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE. However, Prejean is not a pro, so she did not recognize her golden opportunity for what it was, and instead, she took off her mic and prepared to storm off the set — because, you know, she is just that special — or, more likely, because that is how trailer trash think real ladies behave and Prejean was aiming at aping her betters.

Now, I probably would have been more measured and polite about it, but I don’t have a big problem with what Cynthia says here.  I, for one, am quite tired of Ms. Prejean’s continued fame.  I don’t want to continue to write about her, listen to her, or pretty much care about her in any way.  I have no real problem with beauty pageants and the people who participate in them, but I see pageants the same way that I see football or soccer (and, I’m sure, the same way some people see my blog): silly and incredibly dull.  I don’t agree with Ms. Prejean’s opinion on gay marriage.  Additionally, I find Ms. Prejean herself to be tedious and not particularly intelligent.  I’m not trying to say that she’s dumb; I don’t think that, either.  It’s just that there is a certain kind of intelligence that one really has to have to comment well on these matters, and I don’t think that she has shown this.  Her failure to 1) properly prepare for King’s questions and 2) react to them gracefully show this lack of intelligence.  Basically, I don’t want to defend her anymore; I don’t want to talk about her anymore. 

I keep doing it, however, only because I feel that the way that she has been treated by the left is evidence of a problem with society as a whole in the way it treats women who dare to step out of their liberal-approved ideological box

Here’s where I think Cynthia steps out of line:

 I have to admit that I think Perez Hilton correctly summed up Prejean’s character when he called her “a bitch” and a “cunt” right after the Miss USA pageant last spring.

I’m sorry, this goes too far.  When Perez Hilton said these things, Ms. Prejean merely answered a question, and she answered it in a perfectly respectful manner.  However, even if she had been less respectful, calling a woman a “cunt” or other sexual attacks merely for disagreeing with you is absolutely disgusting.  I don’t care that his shtick is to be bratty and rude; this sort of thing hurts all women who wish to express a political viewpoint.  It says “don’t challenge us or we will hit you where you live.”  It is the exact same thing that was done to Sarah Palin, including, often, the use of that very word, and it is disgusting and wrong.  Disagree, poke fun, even call names, but avoid the sexual attacks.  They’re beneath you, all of you. 

Cynthia went on to make some assertions that I believe are pretty unfounded:

The problem I want noticed is that the backlash by conservatives from Hilton’s questioning Prejean at the Miss USA pageant, followed by his name-calling, which ought to roll off the back of anyone in public life, SHOULD have been limited to Perez, but instead was vicious and literally murderous toward ALL gays. So, because Perez Hilton, who is FAMOUS for being bratty and rude, was bratty and rude to a beauty queen whose primary career skill is her ability to cause erections, conservatives were quick to condemn THE ENTIRE HOMOSEXUAL COMMUNITY TO LIFE-DESTROYING PERPETUAL SECOND-CLASS CITIZENSHIP. THAT is the level of backlash gays have to cope with.

Cynthia, if you saw that, people suggesting that Perez Hilton’s actions were in any way related to all gays, I’m sorry; I truly do hate that for you.  But you gave us no examples of it, and I, a certifiable political junkie, can’t think of any incidents where this occurred.  I certainly don’t think that they were common in any way. 

She went on to say:

yet conservatives are working over-time to parse the distinctions between Muslims and Islamist jihadists AND CALLING FOR NO BACKLASH WHATSOEVER except where it can be proven a crime has been committed or a terrorist act is being planned.”

Again, I’m not sure I’ve seen this at all.  In fact, time after time during this last week I have seen the “religion of peace, my ass” style comments.  (Now, liberals are, of course, parsing like crazy.)  I don’t think anyone’s calling for a backlash against all Muslims (well, I’m sure somebody is, but no one I’m familiar with), but a lot are expressing concerns about the problems associated with Islam. 

Cynthia, I hope you re-think this.

Joy Behar is kind of an idiot. Even when I agree with her.

When I first heard that Joy Behar was getting her own show on CNN, I did some serious eye rolling.  Now, I try like hell to avoid shows like The Viewas much as possible, but somehow they just manage to seep into the world’s collective unconscious. (Things I seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of, despite all my most rational desires: The View, Oprah, Paris Hilton, John and Kate + 8, The Batchelor, etc.).  Anyway, when I have watched The View (entirely not on purpose!), she sounds useless and shallow.  When I hear quotes from her, she sounds, well, useless and shallow, but usually also mean and nasty.  But, whatever, right.  I mean, who watches CNN anyway

But, I do depend on their website to get regular updates at work (Fox’s site pretty much sucks, and everything about MSNBC pretty much sucks), so I couldn’t miss her (debut?)article in CNN’s commentary section. 

On a recent tour of a Ukrainian orphanage, Elton John and his partner met Lev, a 14-month old HIV-positive boy.

They immediately fell in love with the child, but their possible bid to adopt the adorable tiny dancer was rejected by Yuriy Pavlenko, Ukraine’s Family, Youth and Sports Minister.

Mr. Pavlenko, here are some tips about family, youth and sports. Family doesn’t mean a huddle of orphans sharing a few soiled mattresses, it’s not youth if you die of AIDS before you reach kindergarten, and wrestling over dinner scraps is not a sport.

So, instead of leading with facts or argument, she starts right off with being a smartass.  Charming.

But that could be Lev’s fate now, because the Ukrainian government said Elton and his beau David Furnish are too old to adopt the boy. It sounds like the real reason is they’re too gay.

John and Furnish tied the knot in 2005, becoming one of Britain’s first gay civil unions, but Ukraine doesn’t recognize gay unions.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesman Father Georgy Gulyaev called Elton John a sinner and said, “thank God it’s impossible under Ukrainian law for [him] to adopt a child.” Apparently in the Ukraine, God’s No. 1 priority is preventing gay couples from giving sick kids a better life. God would never want something like that to happen.

More with the sarcasm instead of argument.  I’m willing to bet that this woman thought that “No Bushit” bumper stickers represented the hight of intelligent political discussion.  But what really gets me is the “it sounds like” argument.  Why does it sound that way?  Because somebody in the country (not the person who denied the adoption) said something against homosexuality?  Or because it fits her narrative? 

Notice how off-handedly she buries the reason that the Ukrainians gave for denying the adoption.  And notice that she doesn’t mention how old Mr. John actually is (he’s 62, or about 14 years younger than my grandfather, who will welcome a great-grandchild this year).  It’s not in any way unusual for a 62-year-old to be denied the right to adopt, except for the fact that most of them probably wouldn’t even try, knowing that 40-ish is the cutoff almost everywhere:

The other option [as opposed to trying to get a baby in the U.S.] in pursuing an infant adoption is to consider countries that are more flexible concerning the age of the adopting parents. For some years, couples up to age 43 have been able to adopt from Korea or India . Those over 43 will find some Latin American countries that take applicants. African countries are very flexible on ages of adopters. China wants applicants who must be 30 or older, while Russian and Bulgaria have been open to those in their late 40s, especially for preschool age children.

So, if Mr. John had attempted to adopt in 1989, he would have had a hard time of it, gay or no. 

Now, here’s where I do agree with Ms. Behar.  I do think that, given this extra-ordinary situation, Mr. John and his partner should be able to adopt this child.  First, although I’m aware of the research indicating that gay parents are fine, I’m skeptical.  It’s still too new of a cultural phenomenon to draw thorough results, and you are going to have a hard time convincing me that the majority of the researchers don’t have an agenda on this issue.  That said, I think that it is at least very likely that a child is better off in a stable home with gay parents is better than a lot of alternatives, such as a Ukrainian orphanage.  (I’ll add that I don’t know the conditions of this orphanage, and although Ms. Behar lists some common stereotypical poor country orphanage complaints, she offers no support for the idea that this child’s situation was that bad.)  So, even if I’m skeptical of the idea that gays are always as good as a mother and a father, I’m not holding it against Elton here.  (At the risk of sounding mealy-mouthed, I’m not saying I’m against gay adoption in general, just that I’m on the fence.)

Second, I’m not troubled by the age thing.  Sure, there are a lot of problems with older parents, but, again, these are extra-ordinary circumstances.  While I hate to put consideration for one’s wealth above other concerns, I don’t overlook that Mr. John is a man of very significant means, and he can ensure that a child is well taken care of, even if he and his partner are unable to provide it.  And, once again, we have the alternative is a poor country orphanage argument, and given the fact that the child is HIV positive, he may have a reduced life expectancy besides.  Let a chance at a real family brighten up what life the child does have. 

Third, I’m not even at all bothered by the phenomenon of celebrity child shopping.  When we are talking about children who, in their home countries, would probably lack access to good education, healthcare, social development, etc., I really don’t care that a celebrity might get some self-congratulatory attention out of the deal.  Doesn’t matter a bit to the child that is not dying of malaria, in my opinion. 

Of course, why would we consider all of this, when we can just throw in some good old fashioned ethnic stereotypes, instead?

He’ll likely end up in foster homes and — if he lives long enough — maybe he can turn into a bitter, vodka-swilling drunk. All because the Ukrainian government won’t let him be adopted by two loving gay parents who are fabulously rich and want to give him a home with the best healthcare available, dressed in Versace jammies and cashmere Huggies. Not to mention all the play dates with Brangelina’s kids.

An “extraordinarily long restriction”

The New Hampshire Historical Society has announced that retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter is donating his personal and professional papers to the society. But don’t book travel to New Hampshire quite yet to take a peek; Souter has placed an extraordinarily long restriction on public access to his papers, barring anyone — researchers, historians, friends, journalists — from viewing the material for 50 years. That’s a lengthier seal than any justice has placed on papers in recent memory.

Justice Souter is a lifelong bachlor and a notoriously quirky and private individual.  Is the restriction, sure to keep these personal papers sealed until long after he is dead, to conceal the fact that he was the country’s first gay Supreme Court justice?

I just learned a stupid new word

In reading the comments to this article (which, by the way, I can’t decide whether was touching or dumb) (HT: Ann Althouse), I came across an entirely incoherent comment by a self-described “ciswoman.” 

I don’t understand how one could want to be in celebration of their femaleness and then abhorr one of the most natural things that could come from that state of being XX chromosomed- motherhood. It isn’t for everybody, just like well being a female simply because you were born with XX chromosome isn’t for everybody but transmen dont go around so how disgusting vaginas are so why should ciswomen go around spouting how disgusting their natural reproduction is?

I’m a ciswoman, heterosexual proud to be female feminist and happy mom, wife and successful professional. THese things are NOT mutally exclusive.

“the hell?” I thought.  So, unable to just assume that the incoherent woman was just being incoherent, I chose to google it.  Per Wikipedia, “cisgender” is:

an adjective used in the context of genderissues and counselling to refer to a class of gender identities formed by a match between an individual’s gender identity and the behavior or role considered appropriate for one’s sex.[1]Cisgender is a “newer term” that means “someone who is comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth.”[2]“Cisgender” is used to contrast “transgender” on the gender spectrum.

So, in other words, cisgender is another way of saying “normal.”

Also, I learned that, unfortunately:

There is no specific term for cisgendered people who feel they would still be equally comfortable if their physical gender was changed.

Folks should really get to work on that.