Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Paranoid Homophobia

I was very struck by two recent reports where some good old fashioned fear mongering seemed to be going on.

The one is from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Glasgow, the other from a prominent State level politician in the US. Similarities are striking.

First Representative Sally Kern from Oaklahoma (or should that be Oaklahomo).

She thought she was speaking before 50 people only but in fact her words were captured by You Tube.

Here's a flavour:

There's a great conspiracy out there where gay people are a greater danger to the US than terrorism and (apparently) history demonstrates that any country that embraces equality for gay people will eventually meet its end.

You can see the actual talk on You Tube and its really worth watching if you want a laugh.

There's quite a few of them that have different presentations. Some have been put to music, made into a poem, one has a version where the word gay is replaced with the word 'troll' for effect and so on.

Here are the links to a selection.

Victory Fund version (with excerpts from the talk in its full paranoid glory and pictures and captions from the Victory Fund).

Troll version. Very funny, you'll love this one.

The Ballad of Sally Kern - a worthy effort at poetry. It ends with some references to Hitler and the Nazi time. A helpful and sobering reminder to where can head when some people are referred to as a cancer and the greatest threat to our society by their mere existence.

Ellen de Generes does a good turn on her show - it's quite funny and she tries to contact Sally to try to put her right on a few issues.....

Finally 'Stop Hate' which links up the words of hate that Sally Kern uses to the strings of murders of LGBT people in recent times in the US.

The second example is that of Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Devine. He's also seeing a plot, a conspiracy perpetrated by gays to do untold harm to society and our common values. Here's Pink News' report.

Gays even sink so low as to want to remember the gay people held in concentration camps in Hitler's Germany. Apparently. Really it verges on a form of selective holocaust denial.

There is a common thread to all of this and I think that some of the references to Hitler are apposite, if a little stretched.

We are seeing a phenomenon of denial of the humanity of one section of the community. We know where this leads if unchallenged.

Thankfully there are people who are willing to stand up. Some of them are to be seen in the You Tube links above.

I include in this Pastor Wright, longtime preacher at Barack Obama whose sermons are a little surprising in their anti-American content.

(It's easy to decry his sermons except for the fact that he is actually slap bang in the middle of the Old Testament prophetic tradition of lambasting your cultural safety zones. And - it is reported - that he also supported equality for LGBT people and preached this within the milieu of the Christian Church).

The last word is a very eloquent, unadorned You Tube piece on the dangers of Homophobia in Government.


House of Commons Free Vote on Embryology

Just a quick link to Lou's Blog where there is plenty of information about the decision of the Government to allow a free vote on several aspects of the embryology and human fertilisation bill. DoH site for the Bill here.

I think that the Bill has been very widely debated and scrutinised, including extensive pre-legislative scrutiny by a committee of both Houses. Plus I think that there have been some rather cheap shots and distortions of the aims of the Bill and what it will allow which I do not feel reflect grown up poitics or a political intervention of honesty - but then we saw that with the exaggerated debate over the Sexual Orientation Regulations, so there is nothing new in the use of such irresponsible scare tactics (we also saw the use of such tactics by more responsible organisations in the campaigning against the Mental Health Act - we must now get used to this form of campaigning as a means of igniting the media).

Thinking Anglicans also carries some interesting links and reactions, including this one:

Wow, the slimy, slippery slope - from carefully planned empirical research
- with ethical and methodological restraints or parameters - to outright

Goodness knows, if conservative religious beliefs didn't stand
vigorously in the way, we might have got up to any number of other slippery
slope downhill things - like torturing our neighbors for their beliefs (or
unbeliefs), stealing their property when they died from our rough
interrogations, and generally claiming that we always know best because we know
God and God especially loves us for being so strict that a pagan cannot wedge a
lost penny under our tight knickers.

Alas, too often these conversations across the divides take on the character of near-parody. I will parody your understandings, if only you will firmly promise to parody mine. As for divorcing sex/childbirth from marriage, in many cultures the links are hardly the simplistic westernized conservative religious ones an either/or reference in passing might suggest to a casual reader.

Is adopting a strict, closed conservative religious view really, really, really, really the only possible way to value and engage in the value of human life? If we categorically cannot - cannot be allowed to? - empirically and ethically distinguish between embryonic tissues in a petri dish over a two week cycle of experimentation, and the
full-blown human being who just happens to be a queer citizen, partnered and
parenting, who just moved into the empty house next door - we might indeed
wonder if our ethical and empirical tools were too heavy and too blunt to serve
as anything better than a thrashing tool?