2019-06-12

Concern troll no friend to gay community

One of the editorialists who often leads me to wonder about standards in the editorial industry is at it again, layering a new bit of supposed concern over a rehash of many of the same tired and flawed arguments he was pushing three years ago, all while still claiming his bigotry isn't. This time, Chris Freind has taken it upon himself to offer branding advice to the gay community, advice that just so happens to play into the hands of transphobic (and homophobic!) groups. Who'd have guessed?

In honor of Gay Pride month, here's my take: I am proud to say that I have no gay friends.

Somehow, I'm not surprised. And does he not understand what "honor" means, or is this a clumsy attempt at wit?

And the reason is simple: I don't base friendships on a person's sexual preference, but on something far more important - character. Do some of my friends happen to be gay? Yep - and I count them among my closest comrades. But their being gay is absolutely irrelevant, which is why they are friends - not gay friends. The same applies to blacks, Asians, Muslims - you name it. A person's skin color, ethnicity or religion never plays a role in how I view people, and whether I call them a friend.

That's a nice ideal in theory. In reality, it doesn't work that way. Biases exist, whether you want them to or not. So assuming that these "friends who happen to be gay" actually exist, I'd advise them to keep a healthy distance. Though judging by Freind's shallowness of understanding, they already do. Perhaps it's appropriate that his name looks like someone tried to spell "friend" and got it wrong.

Regardless, all semantic contortion aside, if he has friends who are gay, then he has gay friends. That's just how adjectives work.

Unfortunately, extremists on both sides continue to hijack the gay issue, creating needless animosity and government intrusion.

One side brandishes several influential and official-sounding groups with ongoing patterns of falsely equating homosexuality with pedophilia, baselessly claiming that LGBT people are a threat to society in general and children in particular just by existing, and going on about some kind of "homosexual agenda" (or "transgender agenda" or "gender ideology" or whatever other ominous-sounding but ultimately meaningless phrases are in vogue) that's supposedly out to destroy Christianity and corrupt children and even cause the downfall of civilization. The same side also actively supports, domestically and worldwide, attitudes and laws that effectively or even explicitly criminalize LGBT identities. And every so often you'll get people like the Atlanta mayor who recently spoke of "killing them out" in reference to homosexuals, "transvestites", and (strawmanned) liberals in general.

Not that the other side is perfect, but what have they done that even comes close to this?

Given that Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden just declared that, if elected, LGBTQ rights would be his top priority,

He actually said that passing the Equality Act would be his top legislative priority. That's not quite the same thing, and explicitly clarifying the Civil Rights act is long overdue.

let's look at the issues - and misconceptions - surrounding this contentious topic:

Yes, let's. I think we'll find that most of the misconceptions are Freind's.

1) Plain and simple, Joe Biden is pandering.

Probably. It's what politicians do. Still, better to pander to equality than to bigotry.

In sucking up to the hard-core base who makes the LGBTQ agenda their first and only issue,

I'm pretty sure these people don't actually exist. Maybe in the opposition...?

Also, I just noticed "LGBTQ agenda" there, one of those ominous-sounding but ultimately meaningless phrases I mentioned earlier. Score one for the bigotry column!

Mr. Biden aims to solidify that constituency to gain a plurality, while the remaining votes are split among the 648 other Dems in the field - an exaggeration, of course, but not by much! To be fair, other candidates are also pandering, on everything from slavery reparations to impeachment, and gun confiscation to taxing the rich, but that's for a different day.

To actually be fair, every politician does this. Heck, besides stoking his own ego, Donald Trump, for instance, doesn't seem to know how to do anything but pander (which may just be another way of stoking his ego). He's even clumsily tried to pander to LGBT groups, though most aren't buying it, given his track record. So let's not pretend it's just the Democrats. And, for that matter, let's not dismiss pandering out of hand without considering content and actions, either.

Here's the problem: In the general election, the LBGTQ-platform-as-first-priority is DOA, and could blow a Biden candidacy out of the water.

Frankly, I think being bland and out of touch are bigger problems for a Biden candidacy. The main things he has going for him seem to be name recognition and nostalgia.

And that's not because a majority of Americans are anti-gay. Quite the opposite. Most people favor gay marriage, for example, but demand priority be given to more pressing issues, such as job outsourcing; immigration; skyrocketing college tuition; and sub-par educational achievement.

As do most gay people. Was there supposed to be a point here?

As 2016 proved, a candidate's failure to understand the electorate will be to his or her peril.

How so? I seem to recall the candidate who really resonated with his base's prejudices losing the popular vote.

2) For the most part, Americans are very tolerant, especially on issues close to the gay community.

For the most part, that seems to be mostly true. Unfortunately, there are loud, influential, and often violent groups that don't agree. Some even hold high office. Which is exactly why formally recognizing equal rights is such a priority.

The problem arises when the left's social-engineering propaganda is shoved down people's throats.

No, the problem arises when reactionaries lash out, particularly when supposed moderates blame the victims. Like Freind is doing here.

And "social-engineering propaganda" is another one of those ominous-sounding but ultimately meaningless phrases. Apparently letting people live their lives is social engineering being shoved down people's throats, now!

From commercials to TV shows to celebrity advocacy,

Yes, there's nothing more horrible than being reminded that gay people exist. /s

demands for political correctness and bowing to the liberal agenda

What demands? What agenda? In person, I might ask for clarification and examples. Here, I'll just note that this is hopelessly vague, with, yes, yet another ominous-sounding but ultimately meaningless phrase. I'm not impressed.

have become in-your-face politicking, and people have grown sick of it. The irony is that, while most have no problem with gays or gay rights, a backlash occurs when people feel beaten over the head, and worse, when excoriated as bigots should they happen to disagree.

It is a problem when people feel beaten over the head by the existence of people who aren't just like them, or by things that have no effect on them. So here's a thought: those who don't like being excoriated as bigots should rein in their bigotry.

And for the record, it's not anti-gay when people object to gays kissing in public, as most are equally uncomfortable watching two heterosexuals exhibit over-the-top public displays of affection.

A dubious claim at best, especially when gay people simply "kissing in public" is put up against straight people making "over-the-top public displays".

A little bit of couth and restraint goes a long way, no matter who you are.

Such as restraint from gawking at other people, perhaps.

3) Unfortunately, the gay community finds itself bent over a barrel because its leadership unwisely allied the movement with every letter in the LBGTQ umbrella

Breaking news: overlapping smallish groups with common interests work together to increase their effectiveness. Citations needed for the claims about this being an unwise move or one that bent anyone over a barrel.

- an entity which is exponentially growing with fringe groups. So what used to be a gay/lesbian/bisexual movement has morphed into "LGBTQIAPKDAFHITLGNC,"

Though there is some discussion over exactly which acronym to use and how many letters to spell out, I've never heard of that one, and indeed, Google tells me it simply doesn't exist outside of Freind's column.

which now represents "transgenders, queers, intersex, asexual, pansexual, kink (no idea what that is),

Let me Google that for you. But anyone familiar with the word "kinky" ought to at least be able to hazard a guess, while anyone who has "no idea what that is" should maybe... think twice before writing about it? Besides which, kink is not normally considered to be included under LGBTQ+. There's some overlap, of course, but then, there's also plenty of overlap with dyadic (not intersex) cisgender heterosexual people. Perhaps he's confused LGBTQ+ with GSRD (Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diversity)?

demisexual (not a clue),

Let me Google that for you. Again, if he doesn't have a clue, why is he writing about this? And perhaps more to the point, why would he expect anyone to listen to him?

ally,

Allies are exactly that—people not LGBTQ+ who support those who are.

fetish, leather,

Also not normally considered to be included under LGBTQ+. I'm pretty sure he's just trying to rile up the sexually conservative crowd at this point.

He seems to have forgotten the H, I, and T in his imaginary acronym, too.

gender-non-conforming," and several other groups even some advocates surely don't know.

If so, they ought to educate themselves a little better. But advocates generally care enough to at least make that effort. This columnist, evidently, can't be bothered.

And gays also get lumped with the personal pronoun police

This is not a thing that exists.

who demand people be addressed by their preferred pronoun - ze/zir, ve/vir/verself, xe/xem, tey/ter/tem, etc.

Most of the pronoun combinations people get inexplicably indignant about are rare enough that anyone with this attitude is unlikely to encounter them, and in any case, it shouldn't be any harder to respect pronouns than, for instance, nicknames. If you care about the people in question, anyway. And if not, all that's really necessary is to keep it from rising to the level of harassment, which is already actionable to begin with.

- and the 31 recognized genders of New York City's civil rights code, and it's not hard to realize why the gay movement's credibility has been damaged.

That would mainly be because of people who make misleading or outright false claims, and mock concepts they don't understand. Again, like Freind is doing here.

(And yes, the Big Apple legally recognizes such beauties as Cross-Dresser, Drag King, Femme Queen, Gender Bender, Non-Op, Hijra, Pangender, Butch, Two-spirit, Agender, Third Sex, Gender Fluid, Non-binary Transgender, Adrogyne, Gender Gifted, Gender Blender, Femm, Person of Transgender Experience, and Androgynous.)

It's not clear what "legally recognizes" is supposed to mean in this context. These are just examples of self-descriptors used by people who are covered under the city's non-discrimination laws. The list doesn't appear to exist anywhere outside of an infographic that basically says, "yes, we mean you, too". There's nothing remarkable about this except that people have many and varied ways of describing themselves.

Enough said.

Yes, he's made it quite clear he doesn't understand what he presumes to criticize.

To recover its reputation, the traditional gay movement - largely comprised of reasonable, common-sense Middle Americans - would be wise to jettison all ties to the leftist trans movement,

And there it is. The idea that hanging separately is preferable to hanging together. The temptation to say, "I've got mine, so screw all y'all". The concern trolling "divide and conquer" approach that would benefit no one so much as the far right if it were taken seriously by more than a small yet worrisome fringe.

since the two have virtually nothing in common.

Never mind that many people still can't tell the difference even in theory, let alone in practice. Or that the same bad-faith arguments are being used against both. Or that there's a large overlap in the people in those groups, and that even if there weren't there would still be a substantial overlap in the issues that affect them. Or that there's an enormous overlap in the groups attacking both of them. Just to name a few things. So, sure, virtually nothing in common, as long as you ignore a mountain of commonalities.

Otherwise, its association that such radical elements will make it the butt of jokes.

Only if people keep making tasteless jokes that are neither clever nor funny.

And, as this column previously discussed, it would be a huge mistake to use identity politics when analyzing the gay community.

Why? Also, what is "identity politics" meant to indicate here?

Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro was elected president with substantial support from the gay community, despite slandering gays in despicable ways. Translation - especially to Joe Biden: Assumptions are dangerous, as most gays don't fit their stereotype. In fact, most exhibit significant diversity in everything from occupations to politics, and income levels to interests.

Gay people are still people, and sometimes people support the Leopards Eating People's Faces party without considering that the leopards might eat their faces. People aren't always sensible. And even when they are, they often have multiple conflicting concerns. So it would seem that Freind has some understanding of what intersectionality is, even if I'm doubtful that he'd recognize it by that name.

May I additionally point out that gay people also exhibit significant diversity in gender identity and expression, as he seems determined to ignore?

4) Both sides shamelessly politicize the gay movement.

There's "both sides" again! Though it's perhaps not completely without merit this time, since politicians, almost by definition, shamelessly politicize everything imaginable.

Some on the right ride their high-horse by proclaiming homosexuality to be a mental illness requiring re-education to fix; some don't understand that homosexuality and pedophilia have nothing to do with one another; and others damn the offenders to hell since God is against gays. Sure glad to know that those folks have a direct line to the Big Guy. Unfortunately, in their quest for absolute piety, many have forsaken mirrors, as they are incapable of reflecting upon themselves to become better people. Instead, the obsessive interest of such people in the sexuality of others is as incomprehensible as it is deviant.

This, we agree on. I'll add that I also find the obsessive interest of some people in the sex and/or gender of others to be at least as incomprehensible and deviant.

And the radical left demands special privileges for fringe groups by invoking the gay movement when, in reality, their agenda has nothing to do with gays.

Ah, yes, such lofty "special privileges" as not being fired or evicted or disowned or beaten to death solely for your actual or presumed gender or sexual orientation, as happens tragically often to people who are straight and cisgender. /s

I'll also point out that, should the shoe ever be on the other foot, non-discrimination protections like the Equality Act would also legally protect dyadic, heterosexual, and cisgender people from discrimination. If they were really as persecuted and reviled as some pundits claim, you'd think they'd be insisting it be passed.

The push for so-called bathroom bills are led by LBGTQ forces - which, by definition, encompasses gays -

It depends on which sort of bathroom bills he means. I'm pretty sure it's not LGBTQ+ forces that were behind North Carolina's HB2, for instance. But we'll assume he's referring to non-discrimination ordinances, since otherwise the rest of this goes from merely fallacious to utterly nonsensical.

He seems to have conveniently forgotten about that other type of bill anyway, considering that despite starting off with a lament about "extremists on both sides ... creating needless animosity and government intrusion", he's only connected government intrusion to one of those sides. Funny, I'd have thought screening people before they can pee would count as far more intrusive than, well, anything he's managed to come up with so far.

but the legislation being promoted would only serve people who identify as the opposite sex.

Not at all. It's mostly cisgender people who don't quite fit other people's idea of what a man or woman "should" look or sound or behave like who have been harassed, and sometimes even attacked or arrested, for being in the "wrong" bathroom. It's ironic in a way that a significant portion of transgender people simply go unnoticed, as has been the case in all of living memory, at the very least.

To oppose bathroom bills isn't anti-trans,

Of course it is. What else is there to call opposition to policy that would make trans people safer and less anxious, with no demonstrable downside?

and certainly not anti-gay.

In theory, perhaps not, but in practice, there's an awful lot of gay people who don't conform to gender norms. So, yes, it is, in effect, anti-gay as well.

Above all, the issue is about safety and security, especially for women. What parents in their right minds - Republican or Democrat, gay or straight - would feel comfortable sending their young daughter into the ladies' bathroom where a man, who on feelings of being a woman, might be using the same facility?

Never mind that women can be predators, too. Or that bathroom doors have never actually kept out anyone who wants to go through them. Or so many other problems with this line of argument that ought to be readily apparent with a little thought. If people want to creep on other people, they don't usually dress up for the occasion.

And if someone were to attempt formal enforcement of who uses what bathroom, how would they go about it? Driver's licenses? People have been using fake IDs since there have been IDs to fake. Birth certificates? No one carries those around with them. Genital checks? That's sexual assault. Genetic testing? That can take weeks, not to mention the cost. And we haven't even mentioned inconclusive results yet.

Far from being bigoted, opposition is rooted in avoiding voyeurs, pedophiles, and other lurking predators.

This drivel has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked. Non-discrimination policies and ordinances, some in place for over twenty years, have had no measurable effect on any of these supposed risks. As even the hate group MassResistance admitted late in 2018 while advising their followers to change tactics, this is a concocted argument meant to manipulate people's emotions while avoiding any meaningful discussion. Far from being sensible, opposition is rooted in fearmongering about minimal risks that have no factual connection to where transgender people are allowed to pee. Which, in other words, makes it bigoted.

Especially since scaremongering makes people less safe.

Under such laws, high school boys could legally access girls' locker rooms, since no one could disprove their feelings of identity.

It's not that simple, which he would know if he cared to look into it instead of making bad-faith arguments. And again, non-discrimination policies in schools have resulted in no uptick in incidents.

And how would such a regulation work in the military, or workplace?

Why not ask them? Most large companies are already handling this without issue, and have been for some time. The military, too, had been doing much the same until recently, as have the militaries of numerous other countries.

How could a woman who feels threatened by a creepy guy habitually inside the women's bathroom file a sexual-harassment lawsuit? She couldn't, because he would be legally entitled to be there.

That's just silly. By that logic, someone who's being harassed in public has no recourse because other people have a right to be there. Non-discrimination has never meant that anything goes. Criminal behavior is still criminal behavior.

And who would pay the huge costs to construct bathrooms for an ultra-small percentage of the population?

What costs? Who's talking about constructing new bathrooms? How severe a misunderstanding of the concept does it take to even ask that question?

Look, I'd love for non-gendered bathrooms—which would be there for everyone, not just an "ultra-small percentage" of people—to be more widely available, and for so many reasons. Consider parents and young children, or caretakers and charges, who aren't of the same gender. Consider people who feel out of place, and possibly even unsafe, in either of the standard bathrooms. Consider that it's simply a more efficient use of available space and people's time to allow anyone to use any available facilities.

But that wasn't even under discussion here. Non-discrimination is just saying not to give people a hard time over what you presume to assume about them when they're going about their business and not causing any trouble. That's it. There aren't any costs involved in that, let alone "huge" costs.

Blech. He finishes with a few more closing paragraphs summarizing several points that he never successfully made, but I think that's enough of that.

2019-04-12

Languages aren't codes for each other

One of my facebook friends whom I don't actually know is a native English speaker living in Japan who was recently (well, recent when I started writing the draft of this post months ago, anyway) vexed by a school worksheet. It had a series of example phrases written in both Japanese and English that included the following:

"Don't use Japanese. Speak English."
「日本語を使わず、英語で話しなさい。」

"How do you say this in English?"
「これは、英語で何と言いますか。」

The teacher instructed the students to cross out "in" in the second example, and when pressed on the issue, explained that since both examples contain 「英語で」, it can't be right for one to have "in English" when the other just has "English". Which, though it makes sense, simply isn't correct.

2019-03-02

A Lament for the Once-United Methodist Church

Background


It's been brewing for decades. In 1972, the United Methodist Church added a declaration that it "does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching" to its rulebook, the Book of Discipline [1]. Such sentiments were unfortunately typical of the time, though by no means universal. Homosexuality, some argued, arose from demonic influences, or was a communist plot, or was at best a step removed from rape and pedophilia, or if nothing else was unnatural and disgusting.

This language, and related language barring LGBTQ+ people from holding leadership positions, have lingered in the rules ever since. Enforcement, on the other hand, has been inconsistent. This upsets those who have an attachment to these rules, and such people often insist that the rules must have teeth.

In the meantime, though, the position enshrined in the Book of Discipline has become increasingly controversial, as heterosexist attitudes have over and over proven to be unjustified. And so some within the United Methodist Church have participated in or outright performed gay weddings, in defiance of the Book of Discipline, even before the United States Supreme Court affirmed marriage as a civil right for all consenting adults, regardless of sex or gender, in 2015. There are openly LGBTQ+ clergy, too, including a lesbian bishop in the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Western Jurisdiction. In everyday life, more and more people within the church, even if not gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or whatever else themselves, have found that they have friends, neighbors, and family members who are. Many feel, too, that the attitude of exclusion embodied in this policy runs contrary to the very nature of Christianity.

2018-10-06

Who cares about qualifications when there's winning to be had?

What can I even say about Brett Kavanaugh that hasn't already been said a thousand times in a thousand ways?

The allegations of sexual assault and attempted rape are getting all the attention, by no surprise, but there's another important thing that his supporters seem to be completely overlooking. The man displays an alarmingly Trump-esque aversion to telling the truth. On a wide range of subjects from whether he got legacy preference when applying to Yale, to what a Devil's Triangle is, to the legal drinking age when he was a high school senior, to whether he was involved in the nomination of another controversial judge, to the stolen documents he received while working as a White House lawyer years ago, his evidently favorite approach involves evading, misleading, and outright lying. It doesn't matter how irrelevant the topic is or how easily the facts can be confirmed, he'd apparently just rather not acknowledge reality.

2018-08-26

As vulnerable by any other name

I like to do a lot of reading about issues and topics that I find interesting or relevant... articles, blog posts, editorials, whatever. Sometimes even vitriolic pieces, if only so that I have some idea of what truth and decency are up against. Usually, though, I prefer more informative pieces, or those that try to explore various questions or psychological aspects of things.

When the comments on a piece aren't too noxious to bother with, they're sometimes more interesting than the piece itself. Which brings us to one of the commenters on an older post about Internalized Trans-Phobia, who remarked that "while technically I'm a 'trans girl' according to my medical record I don't identify as trans, I don't even see it as part of me; it's just something on my medical record." She objected to the way that people sometimes tell her that she has internalized transphobia and shouldn't be so ashamed of who she is.

2018-06-03

Status Quo Does Not Make Right

Although the plaintiffs are expected to keep fighting, for now, it's official. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that there's nothing wrong with the Boyertown Area School District policy that treats transgender boys (those boys designated female at birth) as boys and transgender girls (those girls designated male at birth) as girls. There is nothing "hostile", "threatening", or "humiliating" about it, much less illegal or unconstitutional, and the judges seemed unimpressed by all attempts to argue otherwise. Judge Theodore McKee rejected repeated appeals to the status quo in particular, referring to Brown v. Board of Education and retorting, "These types of cases wouldn't happen if the answer was always, 'Go back to the status quo.'"

2018-02-28

When Humanity is Disregarded

There was something familiar about a comment in a recent sermon that touched on the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, about the problem being less one of guns, or of mental health, or of whatever else, than of a lack of respect for people and for human life. It reminded me of some of the musings of Ken Corbett in A Murder over a Girl: Justice, Gender, Junior High, his account of the criminal trial for a shooting that took place in a school a decade ago, and of related events in the aftermath. That particular murder happened ten years ago this month, at E. O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California, so perhaps this is as good a time as any to revisit the case.