Category: Politics

Hiding Out

The sad and sorry state of gay rights in this country has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine for going on fifteen years now, ever since I learned a relative was gay. That day I learned a very important lesson in life, and my parents didn’t even have to say anything. Leaving hate out of their teaching of life’s lessons was enough. I basically right there figured – this person is just as good, just as loving, just as human as any other person I’ve met, and they’re not out violating The Golden Rule, so why come down on them over one detail that is infinitely more important, and certainly more personal, to them than it is to me?

I decided as a 16-year old that really hadn’t previously cultivated an opinion one way or another that homophobia was not going to be in the cards for me. Further, I had decided that homophobia in general was something I wasn’t going to view as simply “somebody else’s opinion” – not like competing political ideologies, or banter between friends who are fans of opposing teams in sports – but rather a brand of behavior that should be met with the minimum possible amount of tolerance. The recent passage of gay marriage legislation in the state of New York therefore was just as cool to me as the Mormon church’s apparent involvement in California Proposition 8 was reprehensible. Public policy should be a pay-to-play system, and churches that choose to involve themselves to the level that happened in that instance should have their tax-exempt status swiftly and permanently ripped out from under them. (But that’s another rant for another day.)

We all have our own problems, and it is a pointless waste of time going around trying to vilify everybody. But when somebody comes on with this nonsense that what ten million people do in the privacy of their own bedroom should be made illegal and forced out of society because it doesn’t conform to their personal beliefs, and then subsequently gets caught engaging in that activity – that becomes a source of entertainment as far as I’m concerned. Conservatives and religious types, perhaps in both cases as a function of their religious beliefs, seem to be the most frequent offenders in this regard. The brazen hypocrisy involved is what separates these folks from how a person goes 5 MPH over the speed limit but doesn’t harass or condemn the next person for doing it as well.

You had to figure, as is the case with anyone else who has ever dared to run for the president, that when Michele Bachmann declared herself a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election, folks would go digging for some sort of dirt on her to undermine her viability as a candidate. Now, she has her own skeletons to deal with. For example, in spite of being a Tea Party hero, she doesn’t hate socialism nearly enough to refuse the quarter of a million dollars in subsidies her family farm has accepted. And then sometimes, as a function of having a vacuum between her earholes, she relocates the shot heard ’round the world to Delaware, or gets her John Waynes mixed up in feckless attempts to pander to voters – the sort of cheap trick normally reserved for professional wrestlers and singers in a band, purpose-built to score easy cheers from an audience, but she still managed to mess up anyway.

But what I find way more interesting is that it turns out her husband is operating some sort of “pray away the gay” clinic up in Minnesota, something she refers to as the family business. This place, billing itself as a counseling center, allegedly employs reparative (conversion) therapy – methods which have long since been disapproved of by the American Psychological Association – in some sort of effort to turn gay people straight. Like it’s some injury you can get physical therapy for, or some sickness you can get a prescription for. Here is a recent quote from Marcus Bachmann that fairly plainly illustrates what he thinks of gay people and why he thinks it’s his job to “help” them:

“I think you clearly say ‘what is the understanding of God’s word on homosexuality,’” Bachmann said. “We have to understand barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined and just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean we’re supposed to go down that road,” he continued.

Other than confirming to me that Mrs. Bachmann and her husband both hold wildly irrational belief structures that makes both of them unfit to run a Dairy Queen let alone a clinic or an empire on the skids, the existence of this clinic is interesting because now apparently a bunch of people’s gaydars are going absolutely crazy when they see Mr. Bachmann in action. This guy either secretly plays for the other team or just convincingly acts like he does. In either case, when you have gay peoples’ gaydars going off – that’s a sign of something. There absolutely would be nothing funnier or more disruptive in this campaign cycle, which is already a sad and crazy circus, if folks’ suspicions turned out to be true and this guy were outed. Absolutely nothing. Mitt Romney passing healthcare legislation in his home state that is not all that different from the much-reviled “Obamacare”? Not even in the same galaxy. At least he was doing something productive!

I’m actually rooting for it just because I’d want to see how explosive it gets.

And now, perhaps because I’m examining Mr. Bachmann through the lens of suspicion that he might be gay, I find myself looking at everything he says and does and interpreting it as he were, and it’s providing some pretty funny results. Barbarians need to be “educated” and “disciplined”, you say? Sounds like…

Ohhh, you bad boy, you need to be taught a lesson! You deserve a spanking!

And of course, who could ignore the obvious – a secretly gay man running a clinic for gay people to come to? Sounds like an easy way to hook up.

It’s been a little over a year since Family Research Council co-founder, Southern Baptist minister, and all-around jackass George Rekers was caught red-handed on vacation with a male prostitute. And when Larry Craig, the senator in Idaho who voted against extending the definition of a hate crime to cover sexual orientation, supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, and expressed support for an Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, was caught engaging in “disorderly conduct” with an unsuspecting man in a public restroom – that was just exciting.

But what would be even better is a potential First Husband using the family business as a front to cover up some dirty little proclivities of his own. This guy is saying everything Larry Craig said and doing everything Richard Simmons does. Imagine the backlash if it were to turned out this week’s religious conservative darling, signer of the controversial “marriage pledge”, was abiding a homosexual in her very own home. Oops, did I say backlash? I meant hilarity.

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Here We Go Again

One submission has come from a company called International Databases, LLC. It’s a one-man operation run by Stephen Sample, who says he has a degree in evolutionary biology and taught at the high school and junior college levels for 15 years.

The material he submitted consists of eight modules dealing with current issues in biology and ecology. Most are well within the mainstream scientific consensus. But there are two that deal with the origin of life. Those sections say the “null hypothesis” is that there had to be some intelligent agency behind the appearance of living things. It is up to the scientists proposing a naturalistic explanation to prove their case.

I can’t believe people still fail to understand how this works. Science isn’t where you go “we can’t explain x, so we’re going to say God did it”, it is “we can’t explain x, so let’s make ourselves understand it well enough to be able to do so by subjecting it to the scientific method”.

In science there are laws, theories, hypotheses, and unfounded nonsense that does not hold up to – or worse, resists – scrutiny. The first three are categorized in descending order of certainty based on research, observing what happens when we recreate the circumstances believed to result in some specific outcome, and the predictability of the results. Some things we can’t test for practical reasons. We can’t test a dog evolving over the course of 150,000 years to see if it sprouts wings or develops language – but we can observe a bacteria developing immunity to a drug that used to eradicate it and suppose that the evolutionary process does manifest itself in other means. We can’t add a second moon to Earth’s orbit to test for changes in the tides, but there is little reason to doubt gravitational theory because nobody has ever tripped over a rock at sea level and fallen upwards into the sky.

As for the unfounded nonsense – that is where intelligent design comes in. You cannot scrutinize it. You cannot explicitly observe or otherwise quantify the existence of “God” in nature. There is no molecule to isolate, and you cannot compare environments where God exists and environments where God does not exist in the way that you can compare environments without oxygen and oxygen-rich environments. And since God cannot be explicitly observed, you cannot perform experiments on it. How does God react to light? To water? What happens if you put God in a jar with sodium and shake it up? You cannot answer any of those questions in the affirmative or the negative. Why? Because God is a construct of faith – in this context, faith based on a sufficient enough amount of arrogance to suggest that you cannot watch the sun come up and claim with a straight face that God didn’t make that happen.

The scientific method seeks to answer all questions and sufficiently explain the questions it can’t thoroughly answer. Intelligent design seeks to put up a sign that says “for more information, please refer to the Bible”. That is not science, and people should not pretend that it is.

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