Howl of the KweerWolf

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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fundies gone wild!

Tuesday, Aug. 29, was not a good day to be a fun-D'uh-Mental-ist. That was the day California's moderate Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a gay rights law that has fundies shakin' their fists, stompin' their little Wal-Mart clearance-rack clad feet and threatenin' to take to the streets.

But before we get to the reaction of the "christian" supremacists, let's look as a straight (so to speak) forward account of what happened:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Tuesday banning discrimination in state operated or funded programs on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legislation is designed to protect from discrimination, Californians who utilize public services such as police and fire protection, financial aid, social services and food stamps.

The measure would also include protections for those associated with a person receiving services who has, or is perceived to have, any characteristic covered by the bill.

The legislation passed its final hurdle in the legislature earlier this month when the Assembly approved it on a 43-25 vote.

This bill will help to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians are treated equally by our government and is an important step towards our goal of ending discrimination in the Golden State," said Geoff Kors, the executive director of Equality California which lobbied for the measure's passage.

Seems like a good idea to me. Or at least a good start. But leave it to the fundies to wail and gnash their teeth and whip themselves into a homophobic frenzy.

Charles B. Lowers, the executive director of the pro-family Considering Homeschool, used the occasion to encourage so-called Christians to yank their kids out of public schools and begin home-skoolin' 'em. In an interview with the far-right World News Daily, Lowers had a few gems to share with his followers, like this one:

"'Heck no, our kids won't go!' should be the rallying cry of Christian parents this week as school starts, instead of following the broad road of perversion and destruction that California schools are offering."

Or this one:

"Worldview surveys show that the majority of kids from Christian homes are humanist by graduation. School-based 'clinics' are expanding … to ensure that your daughters get birth control and abortions without you knowing. Now that the homosexuals are dictating curriculum, 80-90 percent of Christians should be homeschooling, not the other way around."

Or how about this head-scratcher:

"Public school is no place for innocent little kids. If they don't get molested by the John Karrs who are in the system, their minds and hearts will be molested by the curriculum."

Or even this:

"Instead of the traditional three R's in California's public schools, children are learning Rebelliousness, Relativism, and an R-rated lifestyle."

Lowers, with his way with words and flair for hyperbole, also claimed that in California, the public schools are controlled "by a group of elitist, leftist, homosexual socialists."

Not to be outdone in the righteous outrage department, uber-conservative Agape Press published its own broadside at the Terminator on the American Fascist ... Oops! I mean American FAMILY Association web site:

Earlier this week the Republican governor signed into law SB 1441, a measure which could force Christian colleges to either abandon biblical standards on sexuality or reject students who receive financial aid from the state. The bill adds sexual orientation to already existing provisions in the state's law that prohibit discrimination on the basis of, among other things, race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color, or disability.

As pointed out by one pro-family group in the state, the law could potentially prevent parochial schools such as private, Christian, Catholic, Mormon, or other faith-based educational institutions from receiving student financial assistance if they also maintain a code of conduct that prohibits homosexual behavior as immoral based on their religious beliefs.

Randy Thomasson is president of the group Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), headquartered in the Golden State's capital city. He says Schwarzenegger's actions prove that party labels are virtually meaningless when it comes to a politician's standards and beliefs. In direct reference to Governor Schwarzenegger, Thomasson states: "A liberal Republican is more dangerous than a liberal Democrat."

According to the CCF leader, a liberal Republican "will hurt the church and culture more in the long term because he will dumb down the Church, dumb down the Republican Party, dumb down conservative and Christian talk radio stations." The result, he contends, is that there "will be nobody big enough to stand against evil Democrat politicians if you let the Republican Party be dumbed down by a liberal Republican like Arnold Schwarzenegger."

Schwarzenegger has spoken at churches and claims to uphold family and religious values -- but his actions, says Thomasson, tell a different story.

"Most Christians in California made a big mistake by electing Arnold Schwarzenegger," he says. "They liked him. They actually liked his movies, although the movies mostly were immoral." The CCF spokesman recalls the election which propelled the former actor to the governor's mansion. "[Christians] were idolizing him. They said he was the lesser of two evils. They voted him into office. They looked the other way," he remembers. "Now, he's coming back to hurt them."

Now, he's coming back to hurt them? Well, what can I say. Arnie, in the role of the Terminator did make the cinematic promise "I'll be back ... asshole." Who would have guessed that when he rippled open his shirt to reveal his muscular (if somewhat sagging) chest, it would be tatooed with a big red "666." At least in the minds of some fundies?

I'm not a big Schwarzenegger fan ... of his movies or his politics. But I have to hand it to him that watching him piss off the fundies has earned him an honorary Oscar for Best Performance in a Role Most Likely to Push Right-Wingers Over the Edge in my book.

It must suck to be Arnold. Seems like he's forever bouncing back and forth catching hell from one side or the other. He pissed off the LGBT community by vetoing the marriage amendment in California. So to placate them he hired an out lesbian (and former staffer of his predecessor Grey Davis). That set off a firestorm on the right in California politics and Arnold ended up hiring a former lobbyist for the Traditional Values Coalition to help sell his re-election bid to conservatives. That was on Aug. 20. Three days later Arnold canned the guy. Now he's signed the pro-gay legislation (though some would argue that with a Democratic-controlled legislature he had no choice).

You have to admire Schwarzenegger. His consistently inconsistent. He runs to the right and when that provokes controversy he runs to the left. Back and forth he goes like a pinball, seeming unaware that when he pleases one group, he pisses off another.

I'm sure tomorrow or next week or next month Arnold will feint to the right again to try and convince conservatives he's one of them. But for now I'm content to sit back and watch as the fundies froth at the mouth and go wild.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Smoking ... anti-socially and with a sense of drama

I used to get a chuckle out of some of the online sites for personal ads that asked guys who posted their profiles to list whether or not they smoked. It seemed like a straight-forward question. Either you do or you don't. But in place of checking a "yes" or "no" box, some of this sites have come up with ways to turn a perfectly simple question into a multiple choice test.

Some of the sites include choices like "I don't smoke and don't want to date someone who does" or "I smoke and only want to date a smoker" or the ever-popular "I have no smoking preference." Then there's the box marked "quitting." I guess that's the choice for guys who are on the patch or perhaps furious chewing that awful tasting nicotine gum. Yeah, I can see having the "quitting" option even though it seems like one is either smoking or not smoking.

Finally there's an option on some of the profiles that lists "I smoke socially." Ummm, excuse me, but what the hell is that? Is that like social drinking that's supposed to separate the guys who enjoy an occassional beer from those who can't make it through the day without guzzling enough to finance single-handedly an entire 30-second Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl?

I guess I don't grasp the concept of "smoking socially." Maybe it's because that's exactly opposite of my smoking habit. I'm an anti-social smoker. I tend not to smoke in social situations - especially if I'm around non-smokers. But plop me down in front of the TV or computer at the end of the day and the cigarettes get fired up.

Perhaps that makes me a closeted smoker. Certainly, given today's emphasis on health and the dangers of second-hand smoke, smokers can develop a sense of shame to accompany their habit. And if we don't, then we can always count on an anti-smoking crusaders to remind us we should be ashamed.

This year I've managed to quit smoking for at least two weeks three times. Then something stressful happens in my life and, hey, there's always a Quik Trip open just a few blocks away from wherever I am with a dizzying array of tobacco products in colorful packages right there behind the counter.

Earlier this month The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article on smoking in the gay community. It found that LGBT's in California were twice as likely to be smokers as their straight counterparts. According to the article:

Stress, many health care experts believe, is one of the main reasons why the smoking rate among gays and lesbians is at least twice the average in California. More than a decade of advertising targeted at gays and lesbians is also to blame, they say.

It's only in the past year or two that researchers were able to confirm what they'd suspected all along about the high smoking rate in the gay community. Now, at least one new survey, the results of which are expected next year, seeks to explain why.

About 14 percent of Californians smoke, according to a 2005 Department of Health Services survey released in April. But in a 2004 state survey, more than 30 percent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were smokers.

Lesbians smoked at an even higher rate, 32.5 percent -- nearly three times the average -- for women in California. And among young lesbians between the ages of 18 and 24, a staggering 47 percent were smokers, compared with the average rate of 18 percent for that age group overall.
The article also lists possible explanations from gay smokers for all that smoking. Perhaps it's the emphasis on the bars and clubs - often smoke-filled - that keeps gays puffing away. Or maybe it's coping with the issues of unsupportive families or the difficulties of finding "the one" in a world full of not-the-ones. Or perhaps it's all about the image of smoking in the queer collective conciousness ... from the smolderingly sexy Maraboro Man to the worst Bette Davis impersonator waving a cigarette and proclaiming, "It's gonna be a bumpy night!"

Dr. Elizabeth Gruskin, the reseacher quoted in the article, has a theory. She says, "It doesn't seem like the issues are different than with straight people, so maybe they're just more intense."

"More intense"? I think that was a polite way of saying gay smokers tend to be drama queens.

Perhaps there's truth in that. In my case, at least, my attempts at quitting smoking failed following some "drama." In college I remember going back to smoking because the guy I was dating at the time failed to say "I love you, too" when I had confessed my feelings. Being laid off last year provided enough drama to keep me smoking even when I should have been using my unemployment checks for more necessary things. Then this summer it's been my dad's failing health that steered me to the nearest convenience store on the way back from a hospital visit.

So there I sit ... alone in front of the computer screen, contemplating the latest drama and puffing away.

If all the health organizations really want the LGBT community to cut down on smoking, the solution is really very simple: Quit causing us so much drama! Muzzle Fred Phelps, the American Family Association, Jerry Falwell, Focus on the Family, the entire Bush Administration, and 90 percent of Republicans for six months and we'll be a happy, healthy and smoke-free minority.

Suppose we have a chance of getting such a program implemented?