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We The People

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We The People have spoken: President Bush has won the nationwide popular vote by a small but clear margin. No doubt the result is partly a reflection of voters’ nervousness about changing leadership during a time of stress and war. But the Bush Administration’s enormous unpopularity overseas leads me to worry that the rest of the world will infer from this result something dark about the American people.

The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the Western world, and fundamentalist Christianity plays a significant part in the Bush Administration’s political success and agenda. Unfortunately, fundamentalist religion is a fertile medium for the growth of evil.

It is by no means the only such medium, of course. The Nazis weren’t fundamentalists, although Hitler did (in his twisted way) try to create a new religion; Saddam Hussein’s regime was a secular one, as was Stalin’s. But we need look no further than those who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11 2001, or those who send children to blow themselves up in crowded markets in Israel, to see religious fundamentalism at its most anti-human.

No one is accusing the “coalition of the willing” of crimes equivalent to those of Hitler or Stalin. The families of the thousands of innocent Iraqi dead might be forgiven for missing the distinction, however. And I couldn’t fault gay Americans for fearing the future when influential religious leaders speak of them in apocalyptic terms.

I disagree with pretty much every aspect of the Bush agenda and I’m certain the U.S. will be the worse for it, especially economically. But it isn’t the Bush team that ultimately worries me. Rather, it’s the fact that the most powerful nation in the world is being guided by an electorate – for we are, after all, a functioning Republic – increasingly motivated and informed by the dogmatic side of Christianity. The United States did not start out as a Christian nation, but it is one now. Alas, it is not an enlightened form of Christianity that moves the masses, but an absolutist and increasingly benighted one. We’re in danger of becoming a Fourth World, more and more separated (culturally, and soon economically) from our most important trading partners in Europe and Asia.

Oh, and how, exactly, do more marriages (of people who happen to be gay) threaten my marriage? My undying respect to the first person who sends me a rational explanation for that.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • vox populi

    Since the economy did not take off in the ’90s until there was a Republican congress and has done well since Bush took office, how can you think this will be a bad time economically?

  • http://www.jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Only some segments of the economy (notably, large businesses and people who were already rich) have done well since Bush took office. But to specifically answer your question, I’m not predicting an immediate economic meltdown or anything, but I think we’re going to become more isolated. Follow the link in my post to an article describing evidence that U.S. brands are already suffering internationally.

  • http://www.capnken.com/wisdom Cap’n Ken

    Jon:

    I disagree on the economic side (call me a libertarian).

    But the Christian stuff does scare the Bejeezus out of me. I know the exit polls were really flawed, but “moral” issues coming up No. 1 on the minds of voters is really scary.

    And I think what we’ll see is a Democratic party that recognizes that they need a Southern or Midwestern “Christian” candidate to compete in the red states (knowing they can’t win with just blue).

    Think Bill Clinton with his pants up.

  • http://www.g_pi_exile.blogspot.com Kirsten

    Great piece, Jon.

    What Bush’s victory signals for the American people, and the world at large, I can only begin to guess at. And it’s not pretty.

    It’s enormously depressing, in fact. Somehow America has become a country I no longer recognise, or understand.

    Sadly, I fear, with Bush in power for another four years, America’s isolation and alienation from the rest of the world will only become more pronounced.

  • http://www.jackejett.com jack e. jett

    the one thing i have learned in my travels over the past few years is that most folks don’t really blame americans for the mess that bush got us into.

    now, they will have reason to blame us.

    sad,

    jack

  • http://www.jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Yes to Cap’n Ken – I think there’s a problem with the way pollsters (and the general public) use of term “moral.” For example, although I am pro-choice, I understand and respect those who oppose abortion because they believe it is immoral. But I draw a distinction between an issue like that and an issue like gay marriage. Abortion raises difficult questions of life and death. Marriage doesn’t – it’s a civic institution. Religions bless it, but are not needed to legitimize it. For that reason alone, opposing gay marriage is inherently illogical. And as to the matter of who a person chooses to have sex with, I have a lot of trouble discerning any moral issue there, either.

  • http://www.yensid.org Yensid

    “But the Bush Administration’s enormous unpopularity overseas leads me to worry that the rest of the world will infer from this result something dark about the American people.”

    I was thinking about this same thing today. Even though only half of American support this president, the world will view this as the American people supporting and approving of the Bush agenda. That is what ultimately scares me.

  • http://www.jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Jack’s comment that “now, they will have reason to blame us” for the Bush mess jibes with some anecdotal evidence I’m hearing of American abroad being stopped and lectured in the streets!

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Jon, excellent piece. Really, well said, dude.

  • http://www.eclecticlibrarian.net/blog/ Anna

    Well said.

  • RedTard

    Bullshit. The attitude and condescension reflected in this post is the exact reason Democrats have been losing power in government for the last decade. But I do have to thank you, every one of your thinly veiled insults creates more Republican voters.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    maybe thinly veiled insults shouldn’t be used.

    why, you seem to enjoying calling people “left wing garbage”, for instance.

  • http://www.jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    RedTard: what exactly do you find condescending? I write the truth as I see it. Correct my errors, point out what I am missing. Do not call me names. It is your attitude, not mine – unthinking anger, I mean, on both sides – that has polarized the nation.

  • RedTard

    I didn’t call any person “left wing garbage”. I called a piece of propaganda garbage, which it was.

  • T

    Jon-

    Excellecnt piece. I think, unfortunately, I have to agree with you on almost every point. My only area of disagreement is more in scope than anything. With multiple states voting to amend their individual constitutions we are not only “banning” same sex marriages, we are legalizing the unfair treatment and persecution of a segment of our society. What the hell ever happened to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”? I THINK I remember reading that somewhere once…….

  • Eric Olsen

    Jon, this is very reasonable and well-written, I don’t see any intent at insult and I voted for Bush, though I too am very concerned about separation of church and state, support gay marriage. I don’t see the economy as any better or worse with Bush – he DID have 9/11 to deal with and an expensive war I support.

    But I do not wish to see the fundamentalist Christians impose their will upon others anymore than I want to see Islamists do the same.

    Nice job, thanks.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com aacool

    Jon,

    excellent points – I note on my blog –

    Andrew Sullivan has a fair concern raised – the Cultural Stasis might be broken. The Culture Wars begun have, I fear. Jon Sobel has similar concerns about overseas perceptions of a further shift to monocultural identity in America as a result of this mandate – the country risks being painted into a corner, and dark comparisons drawn.

    http://selfaudit.blogspot.com

  • TCL

    “The United States did not start out as a Christian nation, but it is one now.”

    Well-written and -considered post, Jon, except for the above-quoted sentence. Let me state, up front, in an attempt (that I suspect will be fruitless) to avoid the immediate accusations that I’m a fundamentalist Christian zealot: I am an athiest. I agree with your characterization of dogmatic religion as having a great potential for evil.

    That said, I think that the characterization of America (or the electorate of the United States if you’re more literal-minded) as ‘newly’ or ‘overly’ moralistic is incorrect. It reflects, as Claudia Winkler noted at http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/982ehdmw.asp: “ignorance of the American political tradition, filled as it is with religious inspiration, both in our political arrangements going all the way back to the Mayflower Compact, and in our foremost social reform movements, from the abolition of slavery to civil rights.” (Oh christ, here come the accusations because I read the Weekly Standard. Again, for the record: atheist, voted against my state’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, etc.) The point is made there that Lincoln was among the most religous of men and his decisions were guided by his moral views, as his public writings and utterances reflect. I suspect the response is that Lincoln’s Christianity is not the Christianity of today’s far right. I agree. As I note, I disagree with that agenda.

    But I’m not terrified by the prospect of Jesus Freaks taking over the government, my life, etc. I disagree with their agenda and vote agin’ ’em, but I don’t think that exit polls reflecting that a plurality of folks ranked “morality” as a primary voting factor means that there’s a plurality of fundamentalists. (Though other results may indicate differently — eg., the state constitutional anti-gay marriage amendments passing overwhelmingly.)

    It appears to me that Christians and/or the religious are being somewhat demonized, if not here, then certainly elsewhere on the Internet and in print. They have the right to vote their conscience just as others do. The limitations in our system on religion creeping into government have to be maintained as ironclad, but I see no indication (as yet) that there’s a realistic danger on that front.

    One additional, final point of dissent: I could care less what the rest of the world infers about the American people. I don’t doubt that you’re correct in your prediction that it will label Americans as monolithically fundamentalist, but the rest of the world historically has never had a particularly nuanced view of the American people.

  • http://www.jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    TCL: When I say the US did not start as a Christian nation, I don’t mean Christianity didn’t influence the founders at all. I had in mind a) their explicit separation of church and state, and b) the influence of Deism that was also present. Deism implies the belief in a God but not in a revealed truth, which in effect makes it a very humanist belief system. I do believe that right now the fundamentalist views of a minority have undue influence on the nation as a whole. As a New Yorker, my perspective is somewhat regionalist, but that doesn’t make it invalid.

    Everywhere from Ukraine to Iraq, majorites or influential minorities engage in, or threaten, tyranny. It’s tough not to think of this when three letter-writers from Kansas are determining what I can listen to on the radio.

    Regarding what other nations think of the American people, you’re probably right that “the rest of the world historically has never had a particularly nuanced view,” but I still think it matters. Isolationism doesn’t work any more, for our economy if nothing else.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    The limitations in our system on religion creeping into government have to be maintained as ironclad, but I see no indication (as yet) that there’s a realistic danger on that front.

    Unfortunately I am unable to make all of these links, the site rejects my post, it thinks it is spam, so I will just list the URLs. (I understand and support the attempt to curb spam)

    Senate confirmations of judges who openly speak of a Christian nation, and the ‘myth’ of separation of church and state, is one step towards that danger.
    http://blog.au.org/judicial_nominations/index.html

    The Constitution Restoration Act 2004 which strips federal courts of the right to hear cases which involve the separation of church and state is about 75 dozen steps down that road.
    http://www.newswithviews.com/baldwin/baldwin165.htm

    The Ten Commandments Defense Act of 2003 writes protection into governmental law for one document of one faith.
    http://www.theorator.com/bills108/hr2045.html

    The most likely next head of the Supreme Court, Scalia, questions Government Neutrality towards Religion.
    http://atheism.about.com/b/a/128205.htm

    Some people want to change the tax laws so that churches can become partisan political machines, which is silly enough, but even worse is the fact that they don’t want to do the same for other charitable organizations. In other words, it’s not that they object to the current tax code on principle but rather they object to the fact that churches have to abide by the same rules as everyone else.

    Congress passes a bill to use federal taxpayer money to restore Catholic missions, many of which are still in use as Churches. So now we have taxpayer money of Jewish people, athiests, Buddhists, etc. being used to rebuild churches of one faith.
    http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/montereyherald/news/10213436.htm

    I could list at least 75 more examples of the extreme threat that the separation of church and state is under, but for the interest of space, I’ll just recommend getting out more.

  • http://www.jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Thanks, I had forgotten about Judge Holmes. It’s pretty scary that we have a guy sitting on the federal bench who finds himself “left with some unease about this notion that Christianity and the political order should be assigned to separate spheres.”

    “This notion”?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    The 10 commandments are not a document of one faith! At least 2 and possibly 3 faiths. The old testament is also part of the torah…I’m just not sure if it’s part of the koran.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Andy, that could be true, I don’t study all the faiths, but regardless, it doesn’t change one thing about the subject matter.

  • http://www.jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    The “Ten Commandments Defense Act” regards the display of the Ten Commandments in a public courthouse as the “free exercise” of religion in the same sense as your decision to go to the church of your choice is the “free exercise” of religion. But it’s not the same thing at all. If such a display is not a form of “establishment” of a particular religion, (or in this case, as Andy correctly points out, of a family of religions), I don’t know what is.

    Interesting poem reproduced on your blog, Andy… but I’m really tired of the swipes against people who go to Ivy League schools. If you’re going to use that as a pejorative, I mean, what could be more American than working hard, getting good grades and going to best school you can? At least these people should have the courage of their convictions and vote against the Ivy League politicians they seem to detest so much. George W. Bush, for example: Yale BA 1978, Harvard MBA 1985.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    I agree Jon, that is one of 2 poems by Russ Vaughn that I have posted to my weblog. I just like the guy.

    I understand the issue of the 10 commandments as a religious symbol, but are the commandments really that bad? I mean, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not commit adultery, honor thy father and thy mother? Are these such bad rules that they drive everyone this crazy? We’re not talking about displaying crosses or menorrahs here!

    The golden rule comes from the bible also…you know, do unto others… I guess we need to outlaw that one too?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    So Steve, if a historical land mark happens to also be a church then no tax money should be spent in its upkeep? I guess we should leave all those national cemetaries alone…all those damn crosses and stars of david all over the damn place…I’ll bet there are a bunch of monuments in DC that have the word God on them somewhere…let’s rip ’em all down, we don’t want athiest tax money to help maintain them!

    You folks need to stop flipping out about this BS value voter thing. I voted based on this value. JOHN F KERRY is a FREAKING LIAR AND A TRAITOR! That was the value I used to decide who to vote for. I don’t go to church other than funerals, weddings and baptisms. Some might even say I’m not a very moral person! I wasn’t polled on my way out after voting and I haven’t talked to anyone that was!

    I don’t know where you get the idea that America is “one of the most religious countries in the western world” as you put it. I live a mile from Regents University and I’m here to tell you, the church parking lots ain’t all that full!

    Go to Texarkana and drive down Stateline Rd. The TX side is full of churches, the AR side is full of drive thru liquor stores. Tell me which town has more money the one with the drive thru liquor stores or the one with all the baptist churches?

    One of the definitions of value is this: A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. It has nothing to do wit hreligion!

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

    “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

    “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy…”

    oh yea…i want my government backing up this stuff.

    sure.

  • http://www.jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    I wouldn’t question the moral value of any of the Ten Commandments. But as a codified list, as they are worded, to me they’re just as symbolic of religion(s) as the cross or menorah you mention.

    I admit I’m pretty extreme in my views on religion in the public sphere. I’m Jewish, but it doesn’t make me happy that the town square displays a menorah as well as a creche during the holidays – I’d rather see neither. When I walk by a church (and it happens practically every block, since I live in Brooklyn, the Borough of Churches) – the first thing I usually think about all that valuable property no one’s paying taxes on and how that makes my landlord have to pay higher property taxes which increases my rent!

    I think the tax-exempt status of religious institutions should be in proportion to the amount of non-denominational charitable good they do for society as a whole. Hmm, maybe that’s worth a new post…

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    Posting a monument is not backing anything!

  • JR

    The golden rule comes from the bible also…you know, do unto others… I guess we need to outlaw that one too?

    I thought that came from Confucius.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    Actually, what I’ve read of it, it comes from a bunch of different places…but it is in the old and new testaments as well.

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    Here’s a good summary of the Golden Rule in various religions.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    Well, if it comes from THAT many different religions then we most definately have to get rid of it! Very informative link though! Thanks.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Andy, with all due respect, you tell us to not flip out, but your posts read like you are banging on your keyboard in anger.

    I would have no problem with a historical landmark that is a chuch being restorated. A church that is currently in use, as a church should not get a free makeover at taxpayer expense.

    There is a clear and prejudiced agenda going on, when you look at the overall bigger picture. Can you tell me how much money Bush is spending on restoring historical Native American religious buildings this year?

    In June of 2003, Bush was the first president, since Gay Pride Month’s inception, to refuse to acknowledge Gay Pride, declaring it instead Homeowner’s Month. (those poor, discriminated against homeowners need a reason to not feel persecuted, don’t they?)

    White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: “The president believes everybody ought to be treated with dignity and respect, but he does not believe we should be politicizing people’s sexual orientation.”

    Now before we compare that statement, made in 2003, with Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004, we need to remind ourselves of the overall point here. Selective distribution of federal funds and selective recognition of important civic events, with a clear religious slant.

    I understand the issue of the 10 commandments as a religious symbol, but are the commandments really that bad?

    No, they are not that bad. If only moral-imposing Christians would do more themselves, to live by ALL of them. However in a court of law, which should treat all defendants equally, whether they be Christian, athiest, Muslim or whatever else, there would be a clear and present intimidation imposed when a judicial building advocates a religiously founded document in it’s hallways. We all know that to murder is wrong. We all know that to lie in a court is wrong. We have laws that people are aware of, that tell us this. Do we need a Christian based document looming over the courtroom reminding defendants of it? My response is no. I see a bigger picture of coercion, intimidation and oppression that results. Thankfully, so far, the courts have agreed with me. Such intimidation violates a persons civil liberties and would have the effect of maintaining and fostering a stigma of exclusion that the Constitution prohibits.

    If you truly believe in your Christian faith, then you should not perceive any attempt to separate it from the state, for the sake of democracy, as an attack on your faith. Your faith should come from within. Should the government end up having to enforce faith, then the end result is no faith at all.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Posting a monument is not backing anything!

    Huh? Posting a monument of the Ten Commandments at a COURTHOUSE is absolutely the backing of those commandments as our rule of civil law. Why else would you post them there?

    We are a nation of secular laws. Keep religious laws away from the courthouses.

    I’m so sure that everyone who thinks it’s okay to have the Ten Commandments at a courthouse has no problem with a monument at the courthouse that says, “There is no god but Allah,” right?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I think the tax-exempt status of religious institutions should be in proportion to the amount of non-denominational charitable good they do for society as a whole. Hmm, maybe that’s worth a new post…

    Please do! And I’d love to see commentary on the good they do society as a whole WITHOUT the intrusion of their religion on the services they provide. You know, no prayer meetings before the homeless can have the free lunch.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    Steve – let’s start this by continuing on a point I made earlier. When I joined the navy when I was 17 I had first tried to fraudulently enlist. I got caught. I already had the paper work filled out when my foks decided they would sign it. As my mother was signing page after page she came to the page about religious preference. I had checked none. She looked at me and said, exact words here, “you were born a fucking catholic, you were raised a fucking catholic and your going to die a fucking catholic!” I looked at the recruiter and said, “can we change that to fucking catholic?” Of course, that was followed by a right or a left, I can’t quite remember which. I’m not a religious person. I haven’t been since I was about 15. That’s when I found out about girls and how much fun they REALLY were!

    I think the whole country is getting just a little to politically correct. Just as I’m being told that so many things shouldn’t offend me, I say that a monument to the ten commandments shouldn’t offend you either! Or the fact that federal dollars are being used to maintain a 100 year old mission in CA shouldn’t offend you. It wouldn’t offend me if federal money was used for indian religious symbols either, but I’m sure they’re doing fine with all the money they make at the casinos that aren’t paying any taxes! Yeah yeah, I know Arnold made a deal with the CA casinos.

    As far as the president recognizing gay pride month…well…I say that’s fine, right after hetero pride month….I know, you’re gonna tell me that’s the other 11 months. If you’re gay and your proud, and I know you are, why do you need a month?

    I probably sound shallow. I’ve rarely been persecuted for anything other than being a racist and that was only on here! It’s just that I’m so tired of people really believing that Bush got elected based on some kind of religious fervor. The Swift Boat Vets had a bigger impact on this election than people want to admit. There are a lot of veterans in this country and I’m here to tell you, when a Congressional Medal of Honor winner gets on my TV and tells me that John Kerry can’t be trusted, I believe him!

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Just as I’m being told that so many things shouldn’t offend me, I say that a monument to the ten commandments shouldn’t offend you either!

    They don’t offend me, per se. They’re merely unconstitutional when they’re installed at the court house.

  • JR

    …when a Congressional Medal of Honor winner gets on my TV and tells me that John Kerry can’t be trusted, I believe him!

    And apparently when another says John Kerry can be trusted, you don’t.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    Sorry, I only saw one. I heard of one other, but I only saw one.

  • JR

    Sorry, I only saw one. I heard of one other, but I only saw one.

    Kind of a small sample, isn’t it? Unless you’re assuming that all honorees would be of a single mind on an issue (which seems hard to believe), I’d think if you really believed their opinions were important, you’d go out of your way to try to find a consensus among them.

    I don’t want to be too critical of single-issue voters because they’re important to the ideological diversity of the system, but it seems like too narrow a focus to cast a vote based one quote from one member of one group.

    (To be honest, I’m guessing you had other issues with Kerry.)

  • JR

    I think the whole country is getting just a little to politically correct.

    For which religious folk are as much to blame as anybody.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    I agree

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    your going to die a fucking catholic!

    well, if one must go, mid-orgasm would be the best way, I suppose.

    I think the whole country is getting just a little to politically correct.

    I realize this pc-ness applies to more than my community but one of the reasons why the gay community needs to insist on pc-ness, is because of the intolerant ramifications that occur when bigotry is allowed to run unopposed. Non-pc-ness breeds intolerance and bigotry. Now there can be instances where pc-ness goes to far, but I think in those cases, the letter of the law is being followed, when it goes beyond common sense. I think those cases are so few and far between, but are latched onto by the right as ammo.

    Just as I’m being told that so many things shouldn’t offend me, I say that a monument to the ten commandments shouldn’t offend you either!

    As a believer in Christ, it doesn’t offend me. I happen to live by the Commandments for the most part. As a gay man, if I was in a court of law and stood before a judge who had the Commandments over his shoulder, I would be terrified and convinced that my guilt or innocence would not be related to any evidence at hand but due to a preconceived notion of my orientation. There is a definite stigma for millions of people within a court of law, that runs from the judge to the prosecuter, to the jury and even to the defense lawyer. Otherwise there would be no such thing as a ‘gay panic’ defense, would there? Label someone as gay in a court of law and you’ve already slanted the courthouse towards a ruling of guilt. Add the Commandments within plain site of the jury and your case is pretty much guaranteed. I truly feel this way, based on the cases I’ve read about and while I believe in Christ and the Commandments, I believe it is imperative that the courthouse keep God out.

    I don’t even understand why we have to swear before God on the Bible. Does that have any more weight to an athiest?

    Or the fact that federal dollars are being used to maintain a 100 year old mission in CA shouldn’t offend you.

    I have a problem with a President who promotes his faith via the government and who uses selective reasoning to endorse religion via government. How much have the Moonies or the Scientologists gotten for faith-based initiatives?

    As far as the president recognizing gay pride month…well…I say that’s fine, right after hetero pride month….I know, you’re gonna tell me that’s the other 11 months. If you’re gay and your proud, and I know you are, why do you need a month?

    Societal awareness. Hetero pride month makes no sense to me, because heteros aren’t persecuted, oppressed, discriminated against and murdered for their sexuality. Rather their sexuality is everywhere from the cover of Cosmo, to the wedding pages in the newspaper, to all over the soaps, to couples walking arm in arm in the mall, etc. Being proud of heterosexuality makes as much sense to me as being proud of apples in grocery stores. Should apples be condemned by society then I could see apple growers forming a coalition of apple pride. Otherwise, it looks shallow.

    Going back to pc-ness, this is what I woke up to this morning:
    the United Church of Christ wants to do an ad campaign in December showing that they accept all people into their church, regardless of faith, race, or sexual orientation. That is it. You can see their press release AND the ad via the link I provided. The ad is tamer than Beauty and the Beast.

    This ad has been rejected by CBS and NBC as being too controversial, their reasoning stemming from the marriage amendment.

    Within the last week, I have seen a lengthy 90 page diatribe against gay people published in the Washington Post, as a supplement, a horrid story on 20/20 disputing the fact that Matthew Shepard was killed via a hate crime, even though the killers already said it was during the trial. 20/20’s witnesses were deemed too non-credible for the trial, by BOTH the prosecution and the defense, but were used as legitimate sources for 20/20. And now this, a freakin church cannot even say it opens it’s doors to all people because that shows tolerance for families like mine.

    All within one week, I have seen the ‘liberal’ media attack and go after gay people with a fervor. Is there too much pc-ness? I don’t see it. I see intolerant Christians going after those who don’t live by their rules, and I see mainstream America convinced it is a mandate from God and doing all it can to scramble onto the wagon.

  • HW Saxton

    This is in response to post # 42.
    Highway 666 (now 491) runs through the
    4 corners area where Arizona,Colorado,
    New Mexico & Utah come together. I went
    camping near there last spring and was
    told by many residents that they were
    changing the number designation of the
    highway because too many of the road
    signs were always being stolen by heavy
    metal fans. LOL!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    I’m not riding on that wagon. The mission is a catholic church…Bush is a baptist I believe. I don’t think they actually like each other much. That pork doesn’t come from the president. That pork comes from congressmen slipping shit in when no ones looking hoping it’ll just go through.

    As far as the commercial deal. I don’t know what to tell you other than I agree with you that it’s not right.

    Now that catholic story, it was a while ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

    I told you before, I don’t know what it feels like to be in your shoes. You’re actually one of the more decent folks on here and I feel for you.

    But look at the bright side, at least you can go to church in peace!

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    my bad…he’s a methodist

  • TCL

    This is in response to comment 20 (amazing how quickly these things get off track).

    You know, when writing my comment I originally included a reference to “real (ie., not imagined) danger,” but I removed it thinking that it might be interpreted by those who see such dangers as real as an attack on them as paranoiacs. Probably a correct decision, but I should have emphasized the point otherwise.

    Among the “dangers” you cite — as “75 dozen steps down th[e] road” — the [proposed] Constitution Restoration Act (H.R. 3799), inter alia, declares it an impeachable offense for a judge to decide that H.R. 3799 violates the Constitution. See remarks of Rep. Conyers, D-Mich., 9/22/04.

    This legislation, along with H.R. 2045 (which was referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution on 6/23/2003 and on which no major action has since been taken), has zero chance of passage.

    There is similarly no sweeping change of the federal judiciary underway. Among sitting judges, there are crackpots at either extreme of the political spectrum. The 11th Circuit, among the most conservative appeals courts (and my home circuit), just administered a spanking to such a crackpot in a 10 Commandments case.

    Perhaps I’m being overly confident in our system and should be more wild-eyedly scrutinizing all the harbingers of doom. I think not.

    As for the snide suggestion that I “get out more,” my practice in first amendment and intellectual property law (for paying clients) and civil rights (pro bono) allows time to take seriously only those issues that warrant it. I’ll depend on folks like you to scan the horizon for incoming threats.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    This legislation…has zero chance of passage.

    That does not cease to make it a threat. To wit, ex-Judge Roy Moore, who was reprimanded time and time again by the courts, until he eventually had to be removed from office, did not succeed in his attempt to get the Commandments in the Rotunda. The end result of his actions and their subsequent rulings has fueled animosity and additional bills that would strip courts of their power. There is still a clear and present danger there, in spite of the court rulings that I happen to agree with.

    There is similarly no sweeping change of the federal judiciary underway.

    I disagree. Falwell is creating a law school of Christian lawyers, who’s primary objective is to put Christian beliefs into the courts and he is restarting the Moral Majority, who will have the intent of putting ultra-conservative judges on the benches. And if there is one thing Bush and the Republican party excel at, it is pandering to those who give them money and vote for them. The right constantly condeming judges as ‘activist’ judges, echoed by the President presents a clear danger as to the integrity of the courthouse. I disagree with your analysis completely.

    I’ll depend on folks like you to scan the horizon for incoming threats.

    Nice to know that a civil rights lawyer is relying on others to look out for civil rights violations. Here’s one as of yesterday:
    Orwell’s book banning is alive and well in Alabama. Should I ever need a civil rights lawyer, I’ll be sure to look for one a little more concerned about civil rights.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    Steve – don’t you think the country would already be completely screwed up? I mean, there has been a republican in office for 3/4ths of my entire life! And I’m old!

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Steve – don’t you think the country would already be completely screwed up?

    Sweet Mother of God, Andy, don’t you read my comments? This country has some MAJOR f*cked up problems already!

    I do not lay the blame entirely at the feet of the Republicans, but at the feet of the Right. The Republicans are their legal mouthpiece though, for the most part, if not always.

    We have Christians convinced that liberals are Godless. That is false.
    We have Christians convinced that liberals want to take their Bibles away. That is false (see earlier comment, the reverse is actually true).
    We have Christians who are convinced that any attempt at separation of church and state is a direct attack on their own inner faith.
    From Hawaii, to Alaska, to Mass. we have had judges rule that separate but equal does not work and creates a stigma of exclusion that the (appropriate state) Constitution prohibits. We have voters who override these decisions and write this stigma into their Constitutions based on a perceived yet non-existant threat.

    Andy, do you not read my comments?
    Exactly where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com/ andy marsh

    You only see one side of it. I can quote you folks from the right saying the same thing aboutthe left and everything they’ve taken away with the help of organizaitons like the ACLU. Everything from smoking bans to Christmas parades with no Christmas in them can be blamed on extremists from the left side. I mean damn, spotted owls have more rights than I do!

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Can you give me an actual source where there was a Christmas parade with no Christmas in it?

    As for the smoking ban, I was a smoker myself for years. My mother smoked and I grew up in an environment where we were all in the station wagon, windows rolled up, she puffing away. None of us were ever knowingly harmed after years of this exposure. In terms of the bans though, these bans are in place because of scientific proof that second hand smoke does cause some harm. That would make it incomparable to the federal recognition of my family.

    spotted owls have more rights than I do!

    Whooooo? And you have more rights than I do.

  • JR

    I mean damn, spotted owls have more rights than I do!

    They’re probably more valuable to the ecosystem than you are. At some point we kill off the last species keeping the food chain going, and then we’re all screwed. Nothing personal, but there’s plenty more where you or I came from.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    I don’t have the link Steve, but the “holiday” parade in Denver this year will have no specific mentions of Christmas at all.

    JR – I’m learning to take nothing personal on here. But you did hurt my feelings!

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I don’t have the link Steve, but the “holiday” parade in Denver this year will have no specific mentions of Christmas at all.

    Hmmm. Well, I don’t know what to say. I have to think more on this. I can picture us taking our daughter to stand on the street corner and seeing the floats go by and having it be very Christmasy to us, while the couple with their child next to us can have it be very Kwanzaay, or Hannakuahy (and yes, I know those spellings are funky).

    I don’t see that as an attack on my belief in Christ at all. If I wanted to celebrate the Nativity, then I could go to a church and sing and watch a production of the Birth of Christ. I think it would be wrong for me to feel a need to do it in a public square.

    I am trying, but I still don’t see how this is an attack on one’s faith. I’m assuming that you are talking about a city sponsored parade. There was a state Supreme Court ruling in NY a few years back (I think it was on the state level), that the St. Pat’s day parade can exclude Irish gays and lesbians because it is a private parade and not a civic one. Couldn’t the Christians in Denver seek a permit to have their own parade? I think that would solve the problem.

    I’m writing an essay, Post [Moral Value] Election, A Sinner Talks With Jesus, and hope to be able to blog it within the next few days. I’m doing a lot of research on the teachings of Jesus. One of the Christian interpretations as to why he spoke in parables was this:

    Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why not just explain everything in plain language? Jesus, Himself, had this explanation:

    When (Jesus) was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'” (NIV, Mark 4:10-12)

    Christian analysis (my emphasis added): It seems that Jesus constructed His parables so only those who were pure of heart and receptive to His teachings could understand them. Jesus’ enemies and the merely curious were left baffled. This seemingly harsh attitude may be Jesus’ way of making His message available and inviting those who wish to understand and believe while never forcing anyone to know and accept His truths. If Jesus had spoken in plain language, the sheer power of His personality and message might have forced many to believe, even against their own will. By speaking in parables, Jesus made it possible to decline the invitation to understanding and commitment found in the parables.

    This is why I would feel it is wrong for me to have the state sponsor MY religious parade. Free will and free choice. They seem to be values Jesus preferred.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Here’s the lineup for the Denver parade.

    Looks kind of Christmasy to me.

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    I don’t know, bhw. Ctrl-F “christmas” the page.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    This is too funny. Yes, there is no mention of the word Christmas on the page. There is a float of Rudolph, a float of the Nutcracker, a float of Santa Claus, but people are getting upset about one word.

    No, Steve I don’t support your right to get married, but you can have your civil union, with the exact same benefits. You just can’t call it by THAT word. What is the big deal, Steve? It’s just a word.

    That HOLIDAY parade has Christmas floats in it. Does Santa do Hannukah? Does Rudolph deliver presents during each of Hannukah’s days? Not that I’m aware of. There are very Christmasy symbols at that parade. It’s just a word people, get over it, what is the big deal?

    Sounds like the shoe is on the other foot now.

  • TCL

    “Orwell’s book banning is alive and well in Alabama.”

    This proposed law is more of the same as the examples in your last comment. Not to put too fine a point on it, but book banning is not “alive and well” — some crackpot state legislator is proposing something stupid. The average rate of this happening is undoubtedly high (regardless of locale or political affiliation).

    “Nice to know that a civil rights lawyer is relying on others to look out for civil rights violations. … Should I ever need a civil rights lawyer, I’ll be sure to look for one a little more concerned about civil rights.”

    As noted above, it’s not a civil rights violation to propose an unconstitutional law. I hope you won’t ever need a “civil rights lawyer,” but if you do, I hope you find one that can sort out the actual causes of action from the half-cocked and -baked claims. And if you happen to need one down South, you probably should avoid the organizations I often assist, like the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, because, frankly, they likely will be busy protecting the rights of actual victims.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    lol, Steve.

    The implication is also that it’s somehow evil that what was once a “Christmas” parade is now called a “Holiday” parade, as if towns *must* specifically offer a Christmas parade.

    Because, you know, Jesus was ALL about the nutcrackers, the shopping, the Santa, and the parades.

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    Sorry, wasn’t trying to imply that at all. I just though it was interesting that you thought it looked christmasy when there’s no mention of christmas on the page at all and it really focuses on the more commercial aspects that are associated with christmas.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    book banning is not “alive and well”

    LOL! okay.

    frankly, they likely will be busy protecting the rights of actual victims.

    Yeah, when I was in the Bible Belt, they were sure clamoring to help me when I laid on the emergency room table, a victim of a hate crime!

    After I suffered police brutality and was forced to perform fellatio on a loaded gun, my phone didn’t ring once with a return call!

    When I reported that a friend, emergency medical technician witnessed a doctor stop the heart of a shooting victim, an African American suspect who was brought in by police, while the police looked on, didn’t hear a peep!

    I moved out here to California 13 years ago, because I know all about civil rights down there, thank you very much.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I know all about how the south defines ‘actual victims’ too well.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Sorry, Joe, I wasn’t actually responding to you in my comment about Christmas parades being a must-have. That particular part was for Andy. I should have been more clear.

    I agree with you that the parade focuses on the commercial aspects of Christmas, but I think that’s a reflection of society at large, too. But it *is* a Christmasy parade, even without the word Christmas attached to it. I don’t see how you can avoid seeing the Christmas symbols, even if they’re secular Christmas symbols.

    I think a “holiday” parade is more appropriate for towns to offer, anyway. There is more than one major holiday at this time of year, and a “holiday” parade is more inclusive to the overall community, at least in name.

    And I defninitely think it’s inappropriate for a town to sponsor an obvious religious parade. That’s not to say that local religious organizations can’t sposnor their own, as Steve pointed out. But the town parade should be religion neutral. This one in Denver seems to be trying to do that.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Oh, and a lot of the non-religious Christmas symbols aren’t really secular. They’re pagan.

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    Ok, so how does this relate to gay marriage, again?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    The significance of a word. I think many gays would trade Andy his “Christmas” parade for everyone else’s “marriage” instead of “civil union.”

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    Ah, I misread Steve and was confused because it appeared to me that he was arguing that it had all the trappings of Christmas so the word wasn’t really important. (I’m fairly non-religious, so I don’t get particularly hung up on the whole issue.)

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I got two different topics going here, and when I get going on one, my energy can carry over to another. Mix in frequent breaks having to deal with a constipated toddler and I can get really confused. Personally, I don’t care if the word Christmas is used in public or not. Conservatives who favor unfettered capitalism changed it’s meaning long ago. :-)
    Although, if a community wants to be sensitive to all holidays of all faiths at a given time, I’m all for that too. It sounds more compassionate. It looks like a great Christmasy parade.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    My comment 59, in bringing gay marriage into it was because Andy said that they are having a Christmas parade in which they couldn’t celebrate Christmas. But they are celebrating Christmas, they just aren’t using one word. It is an issue to which I can relate. It’s a discussion (the difference between marriage/unions) that I have had with Andy before. Although in that case, he said it was butter/margarine.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Final thought about the parade, Andy, now that I understand better.

    It isn’t a Christmas parade without Christmas as has been claimed. It is a non-denominational holiday festival. You should go back to your source and ask them how they got the assumption that it was supposed to be all about them.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    it’s not supposed to be all about them. It’s supposed to be all about EVERYBODY! You’re gay, you wanna march in the parade, that’s fine! Why can’t someone have a float that says Merry Christmas? The same as another group having one that says Happy Hannakuh! Hell, the Jehovah Witnesses could have one that says Have a Nice Day! Whether you like it or not, Christmas is ONE of the holidays that this season is about.

    My understanding is that there are indian spiritual groups marching in this parade. Is that not religious?

    It’s advertized as an “international procession to celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity of the region.” I guess there are no christians in that region of the country. Is christianity that offensive? Get this, I DON’T GO TO CHURCH! But this is wrong! I bet the “regional” employees will take that friday before Christmas off. PC BULLSHIT! That’s all it is!

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    The purpose of the parade, as stated on the website:

    “the parade is proud to present an International Procession to celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity of the region.”

    Says nuttin’ about religious diversity.

    A. Why is it a problem to have a secular parade?

    B. Are you sure nobody can have a float that says “Merry Christmas”? Can the bands play Christmas songs? Etc.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    It’s advertized as an “international procession to celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity of the region.”

    No mention of holidays at all? Maybe that’s why there are no mentions of specific religious days. Is an indian spiritual group a religious symbol? I don’t know. Spirituality is not the exclusive realm of religion. Perhaps someone pulling one of the Santa floats is a preacher. I don’t see where it includes people of faith from showing up. Will the indians be having a float advertising a holy day? That would be more synonymous to me.

    Is christianity that offensive?

    This requires it’s own blog and a more lengthy response than I can give it right now. At face value, christianity is not offensive. Since Christianity is the predominant religion that people are continually trying to foist into the public sphere, there is going to be a pushing back.

    PC BULLSHIT! That’s all it is!

    It’s unfortunate that you believe that a community that wants to include all citizens is pc bullshit. I’m certainly glad the city doesn’t see it your way.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    “where it includes” shoud read “where it excludes”

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    The organization sponsoring the parade is Denver Civic Ventures, Inc., the arm of a non-profit “business organization that creatively plans, manages and develops Downtown Denver as the unique, diverse, vibrant and economically healthy urban core of the Rocky Mountain region.”

    DCV:

    DENVER CIVIC VENTURES, INC. (DCV), the Downtown Denver Partnership’s charitable public purpose corporation, mobilizes resources to implement civic design and development initiatives to enhance Downtown Denver’s business, cultural and residential environment.

    I don’t see any mention of an affiliation with the public offices in Denver. If it’s a private organization, it’s free to organize the parade and the parade’s rules any way it wants.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    Spin it any way you want. It’s still PC BULLSHIT!

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Andy, politically correct means being tolerant of others. Someday you should do a blog as to why you are against that.

    If it’s a private organization, that’s a whole different realm, as bhw points out. I’d venture to say there are more private entities that are non-pc than pc, let alone ones that you perceive to go overboard.

  • http://www.kolehardfacts.blogspot.com Mike Kole

    Steve S, I’ve always thought of myself as very tolerant, and yet I’ve never thought of myself as being politically correct. I’ve always thought of being PC as being one who would say what is supposed to be the correct thing to say even if contrary to your beliefs.

    On the flip, I don’t believe that just because people use politically correct language that they are tolerant people.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I’ve always thought of being PC as being one who would say what is supposed to be the correct thing to say even if contrary to your beliefs.

    yes, when it runs contrary to your beliefs, you tolerate it. That does not mean acceptance. It means tolerance. All that I ask for, no more.

    That is my definition anyway.

    I don’t believe that just because people use politically correct language that they are tolerant people.

    Can you give me an example or an analogy? If someone is considerate of others (pc), then they are exhibiting tolerance. Not acceptance.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com andy marsh

    Everyone wants tolerance but no one wants to tolerate Christmas.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I tolerate Christmas very well, particularly when I get everything on my list.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Andy, I’ll join you in Denver to protest the right of a private organization that is hosting a parade to banish the word Christmas from the parade floats [if it’s true] if you’ll join me in NYC next March to protest the right of a private organization hosting the parade to banish gays from the event.

    Deal?

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I don’t have a problem with the word Christmas in a parade.

    Should an organzation choose to be all-inclusive by being non-specific, I support them too! That doesn’t mean I’m anti-Christmas! It doesn’t mean they’re anti-Christmas either! It means they get together with a bunch of different people, celebrate their city, then go home and celebrate Christmas. Again, what is the big deal?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    I think the issue here is that something has changed. It used to be that Christmas, as the favorite holiday celebrated by the most dominant religion in the country, was “celebrated” by our local governments and civic organizations in a domineering fashion and to the exclusion of all other religions and holidays. The good old days were great when Christian holidays were promoted by our local governments and civic groups, no matter that small detail about tax money going to support these promotions. Or no matter that the communities were made up of people from diverse backgrounds who didn’t necessarily want to see their town officially celebrate one religion’s holiday while ignoring theirs, as if those people themselves didn’t even exist.

    Now things have changed, and people who are used to having their local community support their beliefs as the defacto “community standard” don’t really like change, particularly when it levels the playing field, thereby dropping them down a notch.

    Christmas has not been cancelled. The Grinch has not arrived to steal it away in the middle of the night. Families are still free to celebrate the [obscenely marketed and commodified] birth of the world’s savior in their homes, churches, and yes, even during city parades. All that has happened is that a private organization has decided to create a seasonal parade that tries to include the entire community, rather than favor a large segment of it. And that’s a problem because the majority now must share top billing with the minorities.

    Bah humbug.

  • http://www.kolehardfacts.blogspot.com Mike Kole

    Steve S, you asked for an example on PC language as considerate, but not tolerant, much less accepting.

    Most people are savvy enough to not use derogatory terms with regard to gay people. That’s PC. But I certainly do not regard those people as tolerant, because they can be savvy enough to say the correct things when in public, and then go and vote on measures to deny the ability of sam-sex couples to confer benefits upon one another.

    I guess to me there is a much finer line between tolerance and acceptance than you have. They are essentially the same to me.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    oh, I see, I concede your point then, that wasn’t what I was thinking of. By tolerant, I meant at that moment,. of pc-ness.

    When those intolerant people say pc things, at that moment they are exhibiting tolerance. Exhibiting behavior that does not match their thoughts. I exhibit tolerance all the time that way.

    To me, if a person who hates gay people, is nice around me, but then goes votes against me, he exhibited tolerance around me and with his vote showed a non-acceptance of me.

    Tolerance is all I ask for, because I believe that my rights aren’t supposed to be put to a vote anyway. Since my rights are put to a vote, it would be great, but unrealistic to have acceptance. My rights should be guaranteed by the principles of this country, and all I should need from people is tolerance. Then afterwards those that do not have acceptance can go fuck themselves.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Aha! I think this might be what Andy was talking about in Denver: the mayor had announced that, next year, he was going to change the usual “Merry Christmas” sign to say “Happy Holidays,” and people whined about it, so he wimped out.

    Seeking to avoid an emotionally charged battle, the mayor reversed a decision to remove the lights spelling out “Merry Christmas” from a city holiday display.

    Mayor John Hickenlooper said Thursday that his office was flooded with complaints after he announced he would remove the message next year and replace it with the inclusive “Happy Holidays.”

    “I didn’t even think twice about it, and it’s perhaps my inexperience as an elected official,” said Hickenlooper, who took office last year. “To have it veer off in this other direction, where so many people felt being deprived of this tradition, was certainly not what we intended.”

    The poor bastard. He tried to put up an inclusive sign, and the Christians pouted that *their* tradition was being lost. Of course, they don’t seem bothered that other people’s traditions are being ignored, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Jesus would be proud.