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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cleaning out the blog box

Back several months ago when I was unemployed and had the time to attend to this blog more frequently, I started keeping a file of ideas for blog topics. When nothing in the day's news caught my attention as particularly blog-worthy, I'd raid my file for ideas. Some of those ideas made it into this particular portion of cyberspace and others have collected dust. It's not that they weren't good ideas to blog about ... I just couldn't think of ways to turn a two-sentence idea into a full-length blog (and as readers know, my blogs do tend to run to the full-length variety).

So with no further ado, here's my attempt to clean out some of my files by collecting some "mini-blogs" into a full-length one.

Debating a dying prejudice

The Rt. Rev. John Spong, former Episcopal bishop of Newark, N.J., was part of the "religious left" even before there was a religious right. He's written books on a number of theological issues, including LGBT topics, in such books as Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile, and Living in Sin?: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality. With titles like those - and the ideas contained in them - it's little wonder that Spong is the type of Christian who drives folks like Falwell, Roberts and Dobson into fits of near-apoplexy.

Earlier this year Spong was on the lecture curcuit in Oregon and something he said in an interview with The Oregonian caught my attention. When a reporter asked him why he belived the battle for gay rights has already been won, he replied:

No prejudice is ever debated that isn't already dying. The reason we debate a prejudice is because it isn't holding anymore. We saw black people as being less than human. But we began to see them as human beings. It took a while to work that out. We used to define women as dependent, weak, emotionally hysterical, incapable of bearing responsibilities. Women began to challenge that in the 20th century. The same thing is happening with gay people.

To those of us int he middle of fighting for our rights, that's a very comforting idea and I've thought about it often when I feel frustrated that the extremists in the religious reich are gaining ground in their attempt to keep LGBT people oppressed.

"No prejudice is ever debated that isn't already dying." It's a shame I was born without the Martha Stewart gene or else I've have that sentiment cross-stitched in rainbow thread and hanging on my wall.

Gay evolution

Are there any other two words that send fundies into fits more than "gay" and "evolution"? (Well, maybe abortion and ACLU ... but that's beside the point.) Now put gay and evolution together and watch the far-right heads spin!

A transgender biologist at Stanford University has written a book on the evolutionary role of same-sex behavior in the animal world. Joan Roughgarden's Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender and Sexuality in Nature and People is one of those books that earns a spot on my as-soon-as-I-get-time reading list. Her theories were featured in a recent issue of Seed magazine. Among them was this:

Japanese macaques, an old world primate, illustrate this principle perfectly. Macaque society revolves around females, who form intricate dominance hierarchies within a given group. Males are transient. To help maintain the necessary social networks, female macaques engage in rampant lesbianism. These friendly copulations, which can last up to four days, form the bedrock of macaque society, preventing unnecessary violence and aggression. Females that sleep together will even defend each other from the unwanted advances of male macaques. In fact, behavioral scientist Paul Vasey has found that females will choose to mate with another female, as opposed to a horny male, 92.5% of the time. While this lesbianism probably decreases reproductive success for macaques in the short term, in the long run it is clearly beneficial for the species, since it fosters social stability. "Same-sex sexuality is just another way of maintaining physical intimacy," Roughgarden says. "It's like grooming, except we have lots of pleasure neurons in our genitals. When animals exhibit homosexual behavior, they are just using their genitals for a socially significant purpose."

Besides sounding like an interesting (if challenging) read, the book has already given my a new pick-up line I'm dying to use: "Hey there ... why don't you come over to my place so we can use our genitals for a socially significant purpose?"

Faith-based health insurance?

Right-wing Republicans in several states are trying to give insurance companies permission to deny coverage for people with "morally objectionable" conditions. It doesn't take much to see how adversely that could affect people with AIDS, women seeking birth control, transexuals in need of hormone treatments, or even LGBT folks seeking any sort of medical treatment.

Between those efforts and the controversies over pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for conditions they don't approve of, it apparent some doctors, pharmacists and insurance companies don't want us as patients.

They claim they are objecting to certain patients, treatments and medications on religious grounds. If that's the case there are a whole lot of folks these health care professionals won't be serving.

"I'm sorry, Rev. Falwell, but we can't fill your prescription for blood pressure medicine. You've been gaining weight and, well, you know gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins."

"Gee, Sen. Helms. All those years you spent smoking while representing Big Tobacco's interests in Congress have left you with lung cancer. I'd like to help, but the Bible says the body is a temple and you've been treating your's like a smokestack."

"You've developed chirrosis of the liver from all your years guzzling booze at cocktail parties back in Texas, Mr. President. God says drunkeness is a sin so you're not eligible for a liver transplant, sir."

"I'm afraid your eyesight is deteriorating, Rev. Dobson, but there's nothing I can do to help you since it's obvious you must have been a chronic masturbator in your youth. God has chosen to strike you blind."

I feel witty ... oh so witty

Researchers from the University of East London published a paper last winter on the dry-sounding topic of how male aggression patterns vary with sexual orientation. Don't fall asleep yet. I can sum up their findings in just three words: Gays are witty.

According to the study, "Homosexual males are often reported to be less physically aggressive than heterosexual males. Previous aggression studies have not, however, compared all forms of direct aggression, indirect aggression, and empathy among these populations. These results suggest that homosexual men are not less aggressive than heterosexuals per se, they simply express their aggression in different ways."

Boiled down to its essentials, straight men use their fists when they get pissed off while gay men use their mouths. Not that way, though. They use their mouths to utter put-downs, devastating bon mots, withering reparte and rapier-sharp wit.

Well, d'uh!

No wonder we get the stereotype of being witty. As a minority within a dominate and often hostile culture, we've developed a non-physical form of confrontation as an adaptation.

Besides, delivering a wickedly satirical verbal jab at some room-temperature-IQ redneck who's gettin' ready to stomp our faggot asses gives us time to get away while Bubba stands there tryin' to figure out what the hell we just said and whether or not it's an insult to mention the appalling lack of branches adorning his family tree.