Monday, January 13, 2014

Pedophilia and the Elite III: Woody Allen's Lifetime Achievement

The intelligentsia has different standards for its members than it does for those outside of its ranks.  Thought leaders, artists, cultural icons, and the business elite simply reclassify pedophilia or sexual assault as something other than what it is, as was the case when Whoopi Goldberg objected to characterizations of Roman Polanski's actions as rape. Polanski drugged a 13 year old girl and had sex with her while she was unconscious.


It's interesting to see the liberal media go bonkers when Todd Akin refers to legitimate rape, or when Richard Mourdock refers to conception during rape as God's will, but when Whoopi Goldberg defends Roman Polanski for drugging a thirteen year old girl and having sex with her while she was unconscious and unable to consent, the liberal media doesn't have too much to say.  There are no calls for Whoopi Goldberg to be fired from The View for espousing a more tolerant view towards drugging children and having sex with them while they're unconscious.

Here's what Polanski did: he met Samantha Geimer's mother at a party, and proceeded to solicit her mother to Geimer to come with him for a magazine shoot.  When Polanski picked Geimer up from her house, he did so under false pretenses.  Instead of taking her to a magazine photo shoot, Polanski took her to Jack Nicholson's house, gave her champagne and part of a Quaalude, and since Geimer wasn't on birth control, Polanski anally raped her.

 "He holds my arms at my sides and kisses me," she writes. "And I say, 'No, come on,' but between the pill and the champagne it's like my own voice is very far away."
That was Roman Polanski, not rape-raping a 13 year old girl.   First, he lied to both the girl and her mother about where he was taking her and the purpose he had in picking her up from her mother's house. Second, he gave a minor girl drugs and alcohol.  Third, after he ascertained that the minor wasn't on birth control, he sodomized her while holding her arms at her sides as she said no.

Even if the girl in question had said yes, she was 13 years old. Legally, consent was not possible. But for Whoopi Goldberg, and for the more enlightened West Coast liberalism she speaks for, what Roman Polanski did was not rape-rape.  It was something else, something more permissible and tolerable than rape-rape.  In Goldberg's world, Polanski is the victim of an overreaching and overbearing judge.

In much the same way, Sunday night saw the elites of Hollywood gathered to commemorate the career of film director Woody Allen, who was lauded as a visionary by actress and former girlfriend Diane Keaton. Back in 1992, Vanity Fair reported on Allen's alleged sexual abuse of his seven year old daughter Dylan with the actress Mia Farrow.  Dylan Farrow spoke publicly about the abuse for the first time in another Vanity Fair article this past October, but nevertheless, there was Woody Allen on a Sunday night, fawned over by an adoring room full of fellow actors and directors and film professionals.  

Nearly every single one of those actors and professionals excoriated Republicans for alleged misogyny in 2010 and 2012, but to a man, they were silent as Woody Allen, alleged child molester, received his due. Allen is a man who spent millions of dollars losing two custody battles and two appeals, and even more money digging up dirt on the Connecticut State Troopers investigating his alleged sexual abuse of Dylan Farrow.

He's a man who was observed by his mother-in-law applying suntan lotion between the buttocks of his then-four year old daughter, intercepted in doing so by his wife and mother-in-law.  His mother-in-law, the actress Maureen O'Sullivan, then asked him how he wanted to be remembered by his children.  Allen's reply was simple: "As a good father."

Allen went on to take pictures of his adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, with her legs spread and her vagina clearly visible.  He later married Soon-Yi, and though both insist that their relationship was not sexual until Soon-Yi was an adult, the fact remains that Woody's actions, both alleged and documented, were highly inappropriate for a father.  In fact, the Polaroid pictures of Soon-Yi Previn were on the fireplace mantle at Woody Allen's apartment; Mia Farrow discovered the six pictures and recognized her adopted daughter Soon-Yi as the subject in the photographs.

As Woody Allen sees it, the affair with Soon-Yi, and the subsequent scandal that broke in the press, "took a little edge off my natural blandness."  Woody's surrogates, the Hamill brothers, Pete and Denis, were more than willing to do his bidding in the New York Post and the Daily News.  Their brother Brian had worked on 17 movies for Woody Allen as a still photographer, and the Hamill brothers did their best to characterize Mia Farrow as a tranquilizer swilling, child-abusing mother who used her adopted children for labor, even after Woody had unequivocally endorsed Mia Farrow's parenting skills in an earlier interview with his biographer Eric Lax.

Last night, Woody Allen was lauded, praised for a lifetime of achievement in film, the ugly realities of his present marriage and past child abuse allegations glossed over by a room full of friends.  Those same friends condescend to the rest of the country over values, even as they look past the peccadilloes of a father who, under the same guise as Roman Polanski, took full frontal nude pictures of his adopted daughter: Allen said he took the pictures because Soon-Yi was interested in modeling. The pictures weren't turned over to a modeling agency; Mia Farrow discovered them on the fireplace mantle in Allen's apartment, and with the pictures she discovered Allen's affair with her adopted daughter.

Woody Allen was one of the signatories on a petition demanding Roman Polanski's immediate release when Polanski was detained en route to a film festival in Switzerland on a U.S. arrest warrant.  137 other film industry professionals signed the petition as well.

At the same time, many within the film industry signed on to mock the out of touch remarks of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, and Republican positions on government-funded birth control.





 Then again, given the cavalier attitudes of both Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, and their various defenders within the Hollywood set, perhaps they subscribe to the attitude of hebephile Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire who sought out girls as young as 14 for "massages" and sexual favors.  Epstein objected to his characterization as a sexual predator, even though he had dozens of victims and once received three 12 year old girls from France as a birthday gift.  As Epstein puts it:

I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender.
It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.  
 Epstein felt as though he were being unfairly treated by the New York judge who classified him as a Level 3 sex offender, based on his likelihood to re-offend.  Epstein's case was a study in how the wealthy receive different treatment than the rest of us; he received a sentence 18 months after copping to a prostitution charge as part of a non-prosecution agreement, and he only served 13 months.  His victim was 14 years old.
One of his victims, Virginia Roberts, was 15 when she first met Epstein and began having sex with him. For the next four years, Roberts traveled the world with Epstein after being recruited by Epstein's friend Ghislaine Maxwell.  Maxwell recruited Roberts, who was a changing room assistant at Donald Trump's Mar e Lago Resort, to meet and have sex with Jeffrey Epstein, and over the next four years, Roberts alleged that she had sex with many of Epstein's friends as well.

The New York Daily News, owned by Epstein's friend Mort Zuckerman, fought to keep a tape of Epstein's interview with Daily News reporters from falling into the hands of lawyers representing one of Epstein's victims.  The lawyers were just another set in a long line; Epstein settled at least 17 civil suits in the aftermath of his arrest and incarceration.  Epstein's behavior threatened to ensnare no less a luminary than the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, who Epstein jetted away with to New York after his release from prison.  The New York Daily News reporter who conducted the taped interview explicitly alleged that Mort Zuckerman killed the story on Jeffrey Epstein due to their friendship.

And who was Jeffrey Epstein spotted with on New York's Upper East Side this past September, on the eve of Dylan Farrow's published interview confirming her sexual abuse?  Woody Allen, who last night was lauded for his lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes.  Such is the way of the American intelligentsia, where disparaging Todd Akin for his rhetoric while suppressing or favorably altering coverage of Roman Polanski, Jeffrey Epstein, and Woody Allen is par for the course.  Say what you will about Todd Akin, he's never been accused of rape or convicted of any related crime. He's also not up for any awards in Hollywood, either.



Friday, December 27, 2013

Sweet Chicago: Tales from the Statist Frontier

Sweet Chicago, well on its way to the irrelevance and insolvency of Detroit with $33 billion in unfunded obligations and bond debt, has managed to get itself in the headlines for more statist absurdity: South Side Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd, wants to implement a $25 annual bike registration fee. The argument is simple: Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has made cycling a cornerstone of his agenda, because of course bike lanes are a priority with a $33 billion anvil hanging over the city's head.

With bikers utilizing the bike lanes, and snow plows plowing the snow out of the bike lanes during recent storms, the perception of cycling in Chicago has changed from a pollution-free ride to a mere free ride. Lost on Alderman Dowell is the fact that cyclists in Chicago pay sales taxes, property taxes, a bottled water tax of 0.05 per bottle, a liquor tax, a personal property lease transaction tax, use taxes for non-titled and titled personal property purchased outside of Chicago for use inside of Chicago, an amusement tax for subscribers to paid television programming, as well as all other types of taxes charged to businesses who then externalize the cost of the tax in the form of higher prices and lower wages to consumers and employees.  Go look at all the taxes Chicago pays here.  That doesn't even count Cook County, which has over 1,500 different tax agencies, many of whom hiked their tax rates by double digits to account for declining property values.

In other words, there are no free rides in Chicago, only reduced cost rides, and the city is determined to make sure you don't get too much of a reduction in cost for riding your bike in the snow instead of riding a car.  Coming soon: sidewalk taxes for pedestrians, because why should those bastards get to walk for free on those expensive sidewalks that their tax dollars have already paid to construct and maintain?

It's just another day in the life of Sweet Chicago, the city that is almost $15 billion more in the hole than Detroit, which is in the throes of the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.  Of course, Chicago hasn't lost 26% of its population over the past decade. It's only lost 200,000 folks, many of whom moved to neighboring enclaves in surrounding counties.  Of course, as the crunch from $33 billion is spread over an increasingly poor and working class population (the only demographic growing in Chicago is Hispanic) the likelihood of Sweet Chicago avoiding Detroit's fate is shrinking.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

We Have Too Much Government I: USDA Allows Reindeer

If you're a liberal, and you doubt that we have too much government, the news of a movement permit for Santa's reindeer from the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) ought to stand as a stark reminder of how absurdly huge and powerful our government is.  That's right, the USDA's APHIS issued a movement permit to mythical jolly fat man in a red suit so that his flying reindeer could pass over and through U.S. airspace legally.

APHIS waived the normal disease testing requirements, but required that port personnel disinfect the bottom of the sleigh and the runners upon arrival.  Dr. John R. Clifford went further, requiring a wink of the eye:

“During this season of giving, USDA wants to do everything in its power to help Santa,” said Dr. John R. Clifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer.  “We agreed to waive the normal application fees and entry inspection/overtime costs, provided he winks his eye and wishes port personnel a Merry Christmas at the time of crossing.”

H/T to IO9's Observation Deck.


The Cognitive Dissonance of the Christian Right and Liberal Left

“So let us be blunt about it: We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will be get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”
-Gary North

"All human beings have the inalienable right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly. These are very fundamental rights. But, at the same time, this freedom of expression should not be abused by individuals. Freedom of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose. When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way. So, my position is that freedom of expression, while it is a fundamental right and privilege, should not be abused by such people, by such a disgraceful and shameful act."
-U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon







The Christian Right is up in arms, two weeks after Phil Robertson's remarks on gays during a GQ interview resulted in A&E's decision to suspend Phil Robertson. God's people have cleared Wal-Mart out of Duck Dynasty merchandise and enriched A&E in the process, forced Cracker Barrel to capitulate on its decision to clear the shelves of Duck Dynasty merchandise, and they're boycotting A&E while likely tuning in to the various Duck Dynasty marathons on A&E.  Of course, many of these same individuals are the types who insist on the King James Version as the preferred translation; they don't realize that King James was a sodomite given to explicit correspondence with the Earl of Buckingham, and declaring his right to love men before the Privy Council.

The Christian Right and its affiliates acclaimed business owners who fired employees with Obama stickers on their cars bumpers; A&E merely suspended Phil Robertson from a show with already recorded episodes and that same Christian Right decried the censorship, the violations of the First Amendment, and the sacrosanct nature of speech and convictions.  They also pointed to the gay community's status as a mere minority, and bemoaned the fact that 2% of the population could dictate what the other 98% could say, as though the imprimatur of legitimacy for such determinations could be attained by the 98% for the 2% through simple majoritarian status.  That's exactly what the Christian Right is after, of course, only the 98% is by no means in agreement with the Christian Right: a majority of Americans have supported gay marriage since 2010, those in opposition are a third of the population.  17 states have gay marriage now as a result.

For the Christian Right, rights should be subjected to a majority vote, and marriage ought to be defined by the state unless of course the state is defining marriage to encompass same sex marriage.  At that point, bare minority rule should and must prevail.  The Christian Right is chock full of historical and constitutional illiteracy of the sort that fails to realize that their Bible was commissioned by a sodomite, with a chief translator widely acclaimed as an alcoholic by his peers, and delivered to the masses with the Apocrypha intact and a preface that originally declaimed any pretense of divine inspiration or supremacy over other translations.  The constitutional illiteracy of the Christian Right extends to confuse a violation of a contract between private parties by one or both of the parties in question-there is some question as to A&E's role in setting up the GQ interview to usher in impossible circumstances for Phil Robertson and the morals clause of his contract-with state action constraining free speech.

Put simply, the First Amendment guards against state aggression against freedom of speech; it does not constrain a private employer from firing his or her employees for their speech or expression.

Such illiterate literalists as the Christian Right can be expected to violate the spirit by conforming to the letter, as the hallmark of their illiteracy is that in their rush to obedience they manage to resemble Pharisees and other forms of whited sepulcher.  Professing to be wise, they became fools...indeed.

Of course, the gay community itself was quick to rush to A&E's defense for suspending rather than sacking Phil Robertson, even though the gesture was meaningless given that Phil and his brood had collected their $200,000 an episode and a $400 million merchandising empire.  The fact that A&E had hired Robertson with foreknowledge of his well-documented views on gays as murderous innovators of new forms of deceit and evil was lost on GLAAD and other such organizations.

The Christian Right sees every problem with the gay community and its supporters seeking to define acceptable speech, even though Christianity in this country has boycotted every form of speech it didn't agree with with an eye towards removing that speech from the public square altogether.  From boycotting Disney for extending benefits to same sex couples, to the American Family Association's boycott of Waldenbooks for selling Playboy and Penthouse, the Christian Right isn't merely interested in abstaining from the consumption of pornography of its own volition; it wants pornography removed as an option for everybody else.

You see, a boycott is abstention by oneself and other like-minded individuals from the consumption or purchase of a product.  I boycott so many products in an average day I couldn't possibly recount them all in this post.  I do so because I don't want to use those products.  What the Christian Right, and its counterparts on the radical left are doing, is something qualitatively different: they are abstaining with an eye towards destroying or narrowing the choices available to others.

This is why I have boycotted the Christian Right for some years now.

While I am a staunch traditionalist in my home, and a man with bookshelves full of encyclopedias, concordances, lexicons, and other tools with which I steep my faith in knowledge, I have no interest in forcing my beliefs onto others by the process of coercion or elimination.  That is, while the laptop I am typing this blog post on has no pornography in its browser history, I do not seek to deny others their volitional choice in seeking out however much pornography they wish to consume.

Also, this laptop is a PC, and using a PC to browse pornography sites is akin to assent for malware and viruses.

I have no sympathy for the Christian Right, which I believe is careening towards outright fascism; nor do I have any sympathy for the liberal left, which has already arrived at totalitarianism's certitude when it comes to trying to obliterate anyone who dares to disagree.  I loathe bigotry of any sort, from racism, to sexism, to homophobia, to feminism, but I recognize the right of others to express it even as I absolutely deny their right to implement it.  I am in the radical center, and I firmly believe that the lunatics and illiterates are overtaking us all.

You can't reason with a liberal or a fundamentalist, both are absolutely full of certitude and closed off to debate.  The facts do not matter, the epistemology is all that matters; once you understand the fundamentalist epistemology or the liberal epistemology, you understand the utter useless of anything beyond a whip to drive them.  Like dumb cattle, all they respect is the threat of leather and snapping jaws from smaller, more ferocious looking and determined types.  They will bitch and they will moan, but they will go to pasture if you are menacing enough.  Containment is the only answer for these types, and as long as we can continue to quarantine their virulence, we can over time watch as their viewpoints shrink to the irrelevance of other troglodytes who went before them.

Let them have their speech, but by God, recognize that their speech is only the first step in their program. These people want to establish their speech as policy and practice, and if they have their way, regardless of their liberal or Christian fundamentalist persuasion, camps will be set up for those who do not speak or act as they speak or act.  They are the same means to different ends.  One should not stop a dog from eating his own vomit; at the most, one should try to get the dog off of the carpet before he vomits.

This is why A&E should have never hired Phil Robertson in the first place: they put him squarely on the carpet when he was already heaving, and then proceeded to feign shock when he vomited and mussed the carpet.  A fundamentalist is a nihilist by another name, and they share in a certitude that sets them apart from the well-adjusted and the sane.  This is true regardless of the fundamentalist's political persuasions.

For the same reason that A&E should have never hired Phil Robertson, MSNBC should have never hired Al Sharpton or Alec Baldwin.  They'll only muss the carpet.

Cognitive dissonance is not merely a feature of the Christian right, or its rival side in the liberal intelligentsia. It is the only feature.  Both sides share a certitude, that being that ours is the right side or cause, and that ends therefore justify the means.  If only we can have our way, then America will be delivered from its present status as the most tolerant and religiously pluralistic nation in the world, to our utopian vision of what America can be.

Either one of these sides will tell you that the good is the enemy of the perfect, as though perfection is a destination to be arrived at.  The consequences associated with a more perfect world, such as loss of liberties, personal property, and self-determination, are mere collateral damage.  Worthwhile sacrifices, really, because if the Christian right or the liberal left have their way, the world will be better off overall.  You have to give a lot to get a little progress, the saying ought to go.  We'll be a more godly, or more equal, nation of individuals, and that's worth the sacrifices we'll have to make to get to the other side. It's called utilitarianism, regardless of whether it's wrapped in God or secular humanism, and it is fucking evil and inimical to individual freedom and self-determination.

In the meantime, both sides wrap themselves in the mantle of victimhood as they victimize others.  The expression of core convictions in crude language aside, the point is that Phil Robertson was talking about what he genuinely believes, even if it wasn't entirely guileless.  He should be protected from those who would disagree with him to the point of destroying his ability to make lucre off of his beliefs.  Of course, I'm quite sure Hugh Hefner believes in what he's doing in Playboy, but that never stopped any Christian organization from decrying his ability to make money off of nude bodies, or from attempting to dissuade retailers from selling his magazine.

In a free country, we would have free markets for our economics and our morality; this cannot happen in latter case for the Christian Right, because if their dire predictions about the effects of pornography and gay marriage do not come to pass, their entire belief system might be seen as wrong.  Indeed, the former case, the liberal left cannot abide a free market, or at least a freer market, for economics for the same exact reason.  In the midst of this tug of war are the rest of us, including comedian Bob Newhart, who was retained to perform before a crowd at a Catholic group's convention.  

Newhart found himself roped into the culture wars, and forced to acquiesce to those who thought his performance before radical Catholics would be tantamount to an endorsement of every single item those Catholics believe.   Newhart could have snarled and told the group seeking his acquiescence to go to hell; alas, Bob Newhart is not Norman Mailer, and we should all ask ourselves daily "WWNMD?" and do it without hesitation.

The origin of the cognitive dissonance is of no importance; the liberal left and the Christian right share the same basic toolbox. They use individual rights to advance an agenda whose endgame is the suspension of rights for others who do not believe as they believe.  The expression of their beliefs is a mere first step towards implementation; anyone who denies this is delusional.  In other words, to overturn the universal application of the Bill of Rights, these two camps use freedom of speech, religion, and association as shields for their sedition.  Their commitment to such freedoms is restricted to the application of those freedoms to others who think as they do, act as they do, and it is denied to all others.

The use of boycotts by such groups is not intended to enable them the liberty to abstain from the consumption of ideas they don't agree with; instead, the boycotts are used to drive the ideas from the marketplace and eliminate the beliefs they don't like as an option for others.  The most recent brouhaha over Duck Dynasty, and Phil Robertson's comments on homosexuality, serves to illustrate this perfectly: aggressors claim the mantle of victims, alleging persecution, and this is true of both the liberal left and Christian right factions in the fight over Robertson's remarks.

There's a simpler, less autocratic way to express one's disapproval: you can, as an individual, decide not to watch Duck Dynasty.  You don't have to rush to try and eliminate Duck Dynasty as an option for those who do share Phil Robertson's outlooks and viewpoints.  The same is true for those who oppose Rick Warren's agenda, and his links to anti-gay forces in Uganda: you can simply decide not to buy Rick Warren's merchandise as an individual, while leaving other individuals to their own decisions.  You can make the mature observation that A&E is a business, and that businesses cater to demand with supply.  That is not tantamount to an endorsement of the supplier's beliefs.

Of course, in the radical center, this is known as being an adult. On the fringes of our society, this is known as being a blasphemer, or a heretic, or a tolerator of intolerance. It is akin to selling out, or betraying moral righteousness.  There is a valid role for activism in the radical center; it is vitally important that we show up to the polls to keep these groups from implementing their ideals.  Reasonableness and moderation need a champion in the face of cognitive dissonance put into action, and we must be the champions to check the increasing polarization of both the Christian Right and the Liberal Left.

And as for the faux liberals, such as Ban Ki Moon, who believe that freedom of speech does not cover offensive speech, one must be prepared to say to hell with such balderdash.  The ability to offend is the only reason to have freedom of speech, period.  If you can't restrain your response to offensive speech with more offensive speech, the problem lies with you, and not with the person who fired the first salvo.

Evil takes the form of collective action in boycotts, because it tries to legitimate its tyranny with sheer numbers.  This is true of liberal or conservative boycotts, all mustered by would be totalitarians who are convinced that theirs is the holiest of causes.  Rights are sacrosanct, no matter how small the group asserting the right might be.  No amount of democratic largesse should suffice to move the rights of even one individual from sacrosanct status; there is no greater good higher than the smallest of individual liberties.  This is why we bind ourselves together in societies: to ensure that as individuals, we are safe in our lives, our liberties, and our happiness.

Without this safety, we have no reason to belong to any society, for societies that endeavor to erode our right to our lives, our liberties, and our happiness are corrosive to our interests as individuals, which we share collectively with others.  Indeed, the individual interest is the only thing to share collectively insofar as it enables the civilized pursuit of individual fulfillment without violence to others and their property.

If gays are destined to fail, and fated for destruction, let them at it in the marketplace.   Let them perish of their own volition.  God is capable of distinguishing between a tolerance of volition and endorsement of that volition, and it is a testament to the Christian Right's lack of faith that we are even having a debate about outcomes.   It is also a testament to the cognitive dissonance of the Christian Right, and the sheer idiocy of the liberal left, that neither side can see the inherent hypocrisy of their own actions and reciprocations.








Thursday, December 19, 2013

How Homophobic Was Phil Robertson, Anyway?

Phil Robertson, patriarch of Duck Dynasty's Robertson family and co-owner of the Duck Commander empire with his son Willie, is in deep trouble for remarks he made during an interview with GQ correspondent Drew Margary.  During the interview, Phil Robertson shockingly said that as a heterosexual man, he found vaginas more attractive than a man's anus.  I for one am stunned. I had no idea that heterosexual men had such a preference.  

Phil went on to call the preference for a man's anus a sin, and to paraphrase the Bible's admonition that liars, fornicators, and male prostitutes would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The specific verses in question, from the biblical passage 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, read as follows: 

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous2 will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: xneither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,3 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And ysuch were some of you. But zyou were washed, ayou were sanctified, byou were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


There is some debate as to what the original Greek terms in 1 Cor. 6:9-11 actually mean, asmalakoi was used to refer to a man who remarried his wife by Philo, a peer of the Apostle Paul.  It's translated as soft, and meant to apply to effeminate men, or connote weakness.  Really, the term reflects a deeply misogynistic view of gender, which is still present in our culture today. After all, if you want to let someone know they're being weak or unreasonably sensitive, you call them a pussy, because even though a vagina can dilate many centimeters and sustain itself from the onslaught of ejecting an eight to ten pound human being, it's weak.  Seriously, I've heard guys on the toilet whimpering after a bad episode with Chinese food.  

Maybe we should call weak people assholes, but we wouldn't be connoting weakness with the female gender via genitalia if we did.  

The next term is arsenokoitai , which combines the Greek for male with the term for lying or sleeping with, or bed. You may recognize kotai as a cognate of coitus. Arseno is the Greek word for man, if you proceed from elimination.  It was used to refer to temple prostitution, quite common in the fertility cults of Paul's day, and it has been used to refer to incest and pederasty as well. One thing is clear: outside of contemporary translations, the term was never used to refer to homosexuals as exclusively as today's fundamentalists would have you believe. In fact, the word is rare: there are only 77 instances of its use in extant Greek manuscripts.  In none of those instances was the word taken to apply to homosexuality specifically.  

Did it encompass homosexual behavior in the form of temple prostitution? Undoubtedly. It likely also encompassed heterosexual behavior in that context as well.  

Phil Robertson is not a linguist, nor is he a man whose Southern Baptist minister father gave him an early inheritance of lexicons, concordances, and encyclopedias chock full of information on Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. I happen to be just such a man of the latter type.  

I'd like to congratulate everyone reading this on their certain destination: hell.  If you had sex outside of wedlock, or if you are having sex outside of wedlock, you are a fornicator.  If you have looked upon a woman with lust in your heart, you are an adulterer.  In point of fact, there are so many ways to go to hell that the only way to go to heaven is to be an asexual, if you believe the literal letter of the Bible. 

I do not, because it would be absurdly impossible for someone like me to achieve any kind of redemption or grace, and my experience in life leads to me to fervently believe that God is gracious. In fact, it's the rest of you who are severe.  I have never been totally abandoned by God; former friends, loved ones, and associates have turned their backs on me throughout my life. To the extent that they have resembled God, they've turned back around to face me and forgive me.  

The Bible was written by men, men like Phil Robertson.  You see, Phil was a violent man, as was the apostle Paul. Paul made his bones murdering Christians as a Jewish authority.  The rock upon which Christ founded the Church, his disciple Peter, sliced the ear off of a Roman soldier.  He also denied Christ three times and managed to come back into the fold without much issue. Phil Robertson was asked about the beating he inflicted on an Arkansas bar owner and his wife years ago in the same GQ interview in which he expounded on his views towards homosexuals. That beating was so severe it cost the Robertsons their life savings to keep the owner and his wife from filing charges, but Phil feels no burden today because he's been forgiven for all sins by Christ.  

Forgiveness is possible. It is the essence of Christianity, and to the extent that Christians resemble Christ, they forgive. To the extent that anybody on this planet is transcendent in their goodness, they forgive.  The great hope of humanity is that we won't get what we most assuredly deserve. Every single outraged fundamentalist who ever had sex out of wedlock, and who looks at porn on the Internet or at Hump Day on The Chive, has the hope of forgiveness.  Without it, they're no better than the homosexuals they condemn as a matter of routine.  

Phil Robertson feels something besides grace; he feels certitude.  That's what I object to, all in all. It's the most damaging quality religion imparts to its adherents, because it imbues them with a certainty that they are right and everyone who isn't like them is wrong.  While I believe in objective right and wrong, I also believe in context. If you come into a room and ask me for the whereabouts of a mutual associate, for the purposes of locating and killing that mutually associate, I would be morally right to lie to you.  Fundamentalism only says "Thou shalt not lie."   

I'd have to repent for the sin of saving a person's life by lying to a would be murderer under the view of fundamentalists.  The great impact Christianity had on me, perhaps the only impact that made me a better human being, was the gnawing uncertainty I gained.  Maybe I wasn't always right.  Ironically, that lack of certainty led me to a more gracious view of homosexuality.  It gave me an inner peace, and afforded me the opportunity to have some very rich friendships with lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendereds.   It afforded me the ability to look beyond labels and see people.  

Homosexuals are people, and people are never more frequently wounded than they are by words.  Words hurt more people every day than bullets, bombs, missiles, disease and illness, or anything else.  Words are unique in that they can be instruments of healing, or vehicles of violence.  What angers me about Phil Robertson isn't his supposed homophobia, because his brand of homophobia isn't all that virulent.  Phil never outright said that homosexuals should be stoned or subjected to violence.  He said homosexuality was morally wrong, and called for a state-mandated return to values of the sort that condemn homosexuality via state power.  Implicit in this is a call for violence of some sort, either through state punishment of consensual sexual acts between adults or state regulation of sexual conduct between consenting adults.  

No, what Phil Robertson did that angered me on a personal level was simple: he took his opportunity to articulate the role of grace and forgiveness in his own life, and squandered it by speaking on the one issue he had to have known would be emphasized to the detriment of everything else.  He handed his enemy a shotgun, after loading it with buckshot, and then helped a liberal writer from GQ pull the trigger.  If there were justice in this world, as opposed to mercy, Phil Robertson would be an ex-convict who went to jail for beating a man and his wife to a pulp. He'd be a convicted wife-beater.  He'd be considered the lowest of the low for kicking his own wife and three children out of the house and into the street.  

He'd be white trash, and nothing more.  

Phil Robertson isn't white trash with a criminal record because of grace.  He's been extremely fortunate to catch the breaks he caught, because if any of those cited examples of his conduct had led to an arrest and a conviction, the likelihood that Phil Robertson would be a millionaire with his own business empire would be drastically reduced.  In fact, it would likely be near impossible.  

Phil Robertson was delivered through his own terrible decisionmaking, and his own violent conduct towards others, to a destiny of grace. He could have spoken on that, and reached any number of the suffering homosexual teenagers who feel alienated and alone.  It's a universal message with transcendent appeal, and it is the balm to human suffering.  It is a message that can reach those who, in spite of their present circumstances, can look to someone like Phil Robertson and think that not all hope is lost.  

If a whoremongering drunkard with a sociopathic capacity for violent behavior like Phil Robertson can be delivered to grace and a better life, so can you.  It doesn't matter what you've done, or what you're feeling right now, things can get better if you trust in God's mercy.  I know what homosexuals feel, and they go through some pretty awful shit.  In college, one of my closest personal friends was outed when our mutual friend found his diary on a floppy disk and read it after stumbling across his gay porn stash on the same disk.  His agony in a Microsoft Word document was horrendous to see, as words relayed his certainty that he would always be alone and unable to express his attraction without violent rejection.  

For you heterosexual men out there, imagine coming of age in a women's locker room, with all the temptations thereof flashed in front of you during your formative years, but because of societal condemnation and bigotry, you can never express how you feel or what your attraction is without worrying about getting your ass kicked.  It's who you are, but you can't give it a voice.  Imagine if your sexual attractions were dismissed as unnatural, and imagine being unable to go out on a date or hold hands in public.  Imagine the best possible outcome in terms of sex being a rest stop or a public restroom where anonymous sexual encounters take place.  

That's what gay men have had to deal with.  They can't bring their boyfriends home for the holidays. Their culture is so battered, so assailed, and so marginalized, that they really haven't been able to have boyfriends until recently. They can lose their families. Forget a monogamous relationship; they can be fired or denied housing for being who they are.  In certain parts of the country, that is still the case.  This is why gay men and women are depressed, and angry, and upset.  It's why they have reacted with militancy over time, because when you're pushed into a corner, you have two choices: annihilation or fighting back with everything you've got.  

Today, the freedom to express the view that homosexuality is morally wrong is under assault, because gay men and women understand that freedom of expression is the first step towards the freedom to implement courses of action that would push them back into a corner.  That corner is a place they are desperate to avoid returning to, because they're enjoying the freedoms they've won with hard fights over the past few decades.  They are tired of tolerating speech that inevitably leads to state action, and state sponsored individual bigotry whereby an employer can strip them of their livelihood, or a landlord can evict them at a moment's notice, because of who they are sexually attracted to in life.  

They're enjoying a taste of the permanence that heterosexuals take for granted in their long term relationships. They're getting married, and living life just as you would.  They're finding their forever at long last.  They are consenting adults realizing a long-held goal: the ability to be treated like other consenting adults who happen to be in opposite sex relationships.  In other words, equality.  

Years ago, people who held Phil Robertson's viewpoints could evict heterosexual tenants from their housing for out of wedlock relationships.  That's been largely eliminated as a prospect in today's society.  Local zoning laws that attempt to accomplish this forced implementation of morality via state definitions of family are largely uneforced these days.  The issue of sex among consenting adults is seen as a deeply personal matter, one the state is unfit to regulate.  It is seen as an issue whereby the individual defines himself or herself, a zone where the state's power may not intrude.  

That is becoming the reality for gay couples throughout this country as well.  What Phil Robertson objects to is a country that doesn't resemble his personal moral code, and the only way this country can resemble that moral code going forward is through state coercion.  That's what this argument is about, because Phil Robertson's opinion isn't just his opinion for Phil Robertson: it's his opinion for you, for me, for everyone else, mandated with the force of legislative writ.  

Phil Robertson's expressed views were relatively benign, all in all.  His desired outcomes are anything but benign, and that is why people are upset.  In a free market for values, Phil doesn't believe his values can win. The greatest fear someone like Phil Robertson has is that gay men and women will have the freedoms he possesses as a heterosexual, and the world will not come to an end if they do.  If that happens, it serves to debunk his entire hypothesis.  Of course, Phil and his supporters will point to every bit of corruption or wrongdoing that occurs alongside equal rights for gays as somehow causally related to equality for gays, because that's just what they do. 

How homophobic were Phil Robertson's views in GQ? That homophobic.  

The Cynical Brilliance of Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of Duck Dynasty's Robertson clan and the co-owner of Duck Commander, is under fire for comments he made during an interview with GQ correspondent Drew Magary.  Robertson condemned homosexuality as a sin, and noted that he didn't see the appeal in a man's anus relative to a woman's vagina.  Such an inability to see the appeal is at the root of Robertson's own orientation, which undermines the notion that sexuality is chosen rather than innate.  

Robertson also called for a return to values, and mentioned homosexuality and bestiality and heterosexual immorality in the same sentence. According to the liberal media, this is the same as equivocating homosexuality to bestiality, but in Robertson's case, he went a step beyond: he equated sleeping around with women to bestiality as well.  

Phil Robertson is anything but stupid, and he knew exactly what he was doing. After the interview was published, A&E suspended Robertson indefinitely, and the Internet went into an uproar.  On the one side, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin decried the assault on free speech; on the other, GLAAD commended A&E for their swift reaction in suspending Phil Robertson.  

The first thing to understand is that A&E's decision does not implicate the First Amendment in any way, shape, fashion, or form.  A&E is a private actor, and the First Amendment protects individuals from state infringement on speech. As such, A&E's decision was not an attack on Phil Robertson's rights. Phil Robertson is an employee of A&E, or a party to a contract with A&E.  Employers can fire employees for their opinions, which is why conservatives who object to Phil Robertson's treatment while acclaiming business owners who terminate employees for having Obama bumper stickers in the parking lot are idiots.

Lost in all of this is any intelligent discourse about why Phil Robertson did what he did. It's a fact that Robertson expressed increasing disillusion with A&E's editing of his prayer, and A&E's attempts to edit Duck Dynasty in a way that made it appear as if the Robertson's were cursing.  Phil Robertson sits atop an empire as an icon. He is the most recognizable and popular member of Duck Dynasty, and he knows it.

In making the remarks that he made, Robertson ensured that his legacy with Christian evangelicals would be cemented.  That's the only constituency he gives a damn about anyway, and he'll sell a ton of duck calls and merchandise before all is said and done.  Duck Dynasty is mortared into pop culture forever now, as a dividing line between the secular godless heathens and God's people, which is exactly what Phil Robertson wanted.  

In all likelihood, Duck Dynasty is done. It is virtually impossible to imagine the rest of the Robertson clan continuing the show without Phil under these circumstances.  As a show on A&E, Duck Dynasty is over. There's nothing to stop the Robertsons from taking their show to CMT, or to TBN, and setting new ratings records for those networks.  It's doubtful either one of those networks would try to censor the Duck Commander and his brood in their proselytizing, a fact that Phil Robertson is acutely aware of as a calculating man.  

Phil Robertson wants to evangelize on his own terms; that's his right as an individual.  He knew what he was doing when he signed with A&E, and re-upped.  He took the money, and he knew what was involved with taking the money. He could be safely Christian, and his show would continue with the aggravation of edits that excised "...in Jesus's name" from prayers.  What Phil Robertson did here was no act of conscience or conviction; it was a business decision.  There is nothing in the Bible that condones breaking a contract, or acting in a dishonest way to force the other party into impossibility.  

Put simply, Phil Robertson's actions weren't Christian.  Duck Dynasty was reaching millions of Americans who tuned in for the kitsch, and got the values.  It made traditional values mainstream in an oasis of entertainment that routinely derides traditional values.  That wasn't enough for Phil Robertson. He had to go and do an interview, one that will likely lead to Duck Dynasty's exit to another network for as much or more money.  In doing so, Robertson will limit his audience to the already converted.  

That's a shame.  

Cynical brilliance, or pandering as an art form, doesn't do much to expand the Kingdom of God. It does, however, harden the fault lines between the Kingdom of God and the alternative, and it hardens hearts as well.  As an evangelist, Phil Robertson failed terribly.  As a businessman and an opportunist making a merchandise of his faith to those who already believe what he believes, Phil Robertson will likely succeed beyond his wildest hopes.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Michael Hastings: Continuing Coverage

The investigation into the death of journalist Michael Hastings, whose reporting helped bring down General Stanley McChrystal and expose the Department of Homeland Security's targeting of Occupy Wall Street, has gone largely unreported in the mainstream media.  Few if any mainstream media outlets are still reporting the Hastings case.  San Diego 6 reporter Kimberly Dvorak is one of the few reporters chasing down the details of Hastings's death, and she reports that the LAPD is ignoring her FOIA and CRPA requests for the police report, 9/11 call, autopsy, bomb squad and toxicology reports, or make the Mercedes available for inspection.  Dvorak also uncovered the failure of police to contact Mercedes after the accident; this is significant because Hastings's Mercedes was equipped with the MBRACE emergency call system, which transmits information in the event of an accident.

New footage from a pizza parlor, Pizzeria Mozza, shows Hastings's car traveling at a high rate of speed right before it crashes. The footage shows the explosion from a distance, and was provided to the police by Pizzeria Mozza's owner Nancy Silverton.



A Timeline of Michael Hastings Final Days:  

June 7, 2012-Hastings wrote a piece about the NSA chronicling the Democratic Party's abandonment of civil liberties under President Obama. It was his last article. 
June 12, 2012-Hastings stopped posting on his Twitter feed. 
June 17, 2012, 12:56 p.m.-Hastings emailed friends, and claimed he was on a big story and needed to go off the radar. 
June 18, 2012, a few hours before his death-Hastings contacted Wikileaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson, and claimed the FBI was investigating him and talking to his associates. 
June 18, 2012, around 4 a.m.-Michael Hastings died in a fiery car crash on Highland Avenue, leaving no skid marks as his car careened into a tree.  

Aftermath

In the aftermath of his death, many news outlets reported that Hastings was working on a story involving Florida socialite Jill Kelley, whose receipt of threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, combined with Petraeus's own emails to Broadwell via a Gmail account, later led to General David Petraeus's resignation as CIA director.  Kelley later sued the government, claiming that officials leaked false and defamatory information about her and her husband. Kelley, whose email contacts with General George Allen, commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, led to another Pentagon investigation into Allen, and Allen later resigned his post, citing his wife's autoimmune disorder as the reason. Hastings's wife, Elise Jordan, denied that Hastings was working on a story involving Kelley.   

It's now August 2013, and we have no police reports, no toxicology reports, no autopsy reports, no bomb squad reports, and no independent examination of Hastings's Mercedes.  In the span of time since Hastings died, actors James Gandolfini and Cory Monteith also died.  Monteith died on Saturday, July 13, 2013 and a cause of death was released on July 16, 2013, detailing "mixed drug toxicity" as a cause of death.  Gandolfini died on June 19th, and by June 21st his cause of death was identified as a heart attack.  

We know that Hastings's body was cremated by the Los Angeles coroner, even though his family did not request a cremation.  We know that Hastings was working on what he considered to be a big story, and that Hastings operated under the impression that the FBI was surveilling him and interviewing his friends and associates.  Those friends and associates have yet to come forward. We know that the circumstances of Hastings's death were unusual: he drove at a high rate of speed through a residential neighborhood, down a straightaway, and for whatever reason veered sharply to the left and hit a tree. His car exploded.  

We do not know what the nature of Hastings's final story was, and we do not know what the results of his autopsy or toxicology reports are.  We have no accident reports, no bomb squad reports, no documentation whatsoever from the Los Angeles Police Department almost a month and a half after Hastings died.  The FBI has denied ever investigating Hastings, yet it has ignored a request for records and refused to clarify whether or not it has a file on Hastings, which has resulted in a lawsuit by Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro in concert with the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

We also know that no mainstream media outlet is reporting on the continuing investigation in Hastings's death.  The story is dead by all accounts, unless you count alternative news sites.  The unusually lengthy time frame for Hastings's autopsy results and toxicology report isn't being questioned, even though James Gandolfini and Corey Monteith's causes of death were conclusively identified within mere days.  

There is an information blackout on the Hastings case, for all intents and purposes, and the death of an American journalist whose work brought down a senior American military official has been obscured behind false reporting as it relates to the story he was working on in his final days.  Continuing coverage doesn't seem to be an option for the mainstream media when it comes to the death of Michael Hastings, and the media also seems disinterested in the story he was working during his final days.