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Democracy has been taken for granted at a time when it is most endangered. Neo-Conservatives are organized to replace it with oligarchy, to replace consent for the rule of law with fascistic allegiance to the executive branch disguised as "patriotism." As a team made up of a political philosopher and a writer, we consider otherwise repressed information from a critical perspective in the hope of elevating the quality of our political dialogue so that it is worthy of a truly democratic society.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

God and Sex

From today's The New York Times

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: October 23, 2004

"So when God made homosexuals who fall deeply, achingly in love with each other, did he goof?

"That seems implicit in the measures opposing gay marriage on the ballots of 11 states. All may pass; Oregon is the only state where the outcome seems uncertain.

"Over the last couple of months, I've been researching the question of how the Bible regards homosexuality. Social liberals tend to be uncomfortable with religious arguments, but that is the ground on which political battles are often decided in America - as when a Texas governor, Miriam 'Ma' Ferguson, barred the teaching of foreign languages about 80 years ago, saying, 'If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us.'

"I think it's presumptuous of conservatives to assume that God is on their side. But since Americans are twice as likely to believe in the Devil as in evolution, I also think it's stupid of liberals to forfeit the religious field.

"Some scholars, like Daniel Helminiak, author of What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, argue that the Bible is not anti-gay. I don't really buy that.

"It's true that the story of Sodom is treated by both modern scholars and by ancient Ezekiel as about hospitality, rather than homosexuality. In Sodom, Lot puts up two male strangers for the night. When a lustful mob demands they be handed over, Lot offers his two virgin daughters instead. After some further unpleasantness, God destroys Sodom. As Mark Jordan notes in The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology, it was only in the 11th century that theologians began to condemn homosexuality as sodomy.

"In fact, the most obvious lesson from Sodom is that when you're attacked by an angry mob, the holy thing to do is to offer up your virgin daughters." [...]

Read the entire essay here. [Requires a free, one-time registration]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Unfortunate Tide of CA-96 in Montana and Beyond

I woke up to the bleating of my cell phone today. It was Tina, a woman with whom I worked a few months back in an attempt to peruade Montana voters exiting polling places to not sign petitions by the religious right in support of proposed Montana State Constitutional Amendment 96--writing into our state Constitution a ban on homosexual marriage when homosexual marriage is already illegal here. Tina is to be on the radio today at 12:30 to discuss her anti CA-96 stance. It's a brave move in Bozeman, and in Montana in general, where she can surely expect a wave of phoned-in hatred. CA-96 is very likely to pass.

Fewer people outside of Montana know that our state's Constitution was written (entirely re-written, actually) in 1972. That's right. And before you assume that this must mean our state Constitution is already a wreck I tell you it is anything but; I would argue that it is one of the most lyrical and forward-thinking state Constitutions in the whole of the United States (there is an excellent documentary on its creation available from Montana PBS)--it includes some of the first language of committed environmental protection and respect for the essential human rights of its citizenry, not just a select few. And therein lies my anger with the hysterical, narrow-minded, morally righteous proponents of CA-96: the idea that a state Constitution should encompass exclusionary clauses it has no need to include, thereby rendering a document meant to lay down protection for all a sudden moral finger of judgment (on taxpaying citizens!).

Just why it is that there seems to be this dovetailing of moral righteousness and narrow fields of vision at this time in our history is not hard to figure out, so I don't feel the need to wax on about that.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle not only came out [pun intended] against CA-96 this week, it also rather shockingly endorsed Sen. John Kerry's bid for president. And this is a conservative newspaper (not, however, if you listen to the hysterical Republican crowd in town, mind you). Will it sway the squeakiest wheels? Likely not. For voting in 2004 appears to rely less and less on good sense, fair play, and what is best for the state and more and more on polarizations and moral civil war. No longer can we agree to disagree: the religious right has made it clear--not only are you either with us or against us; if you are against us you are (and should be, they feel) GOING TO HELL.

Fine with some. I've certainly been directed toward the fiery pits a time or two since moving here. But I have this concern about just how much of a state, just how much of a country we'll have left at this rate. Don't take this sentiment for an assumption of doom, but there is this slippery slope about which we should all be worried, isn't there?

The notions that I grew up thinking were obvious--that this country's forefathers were fleeing religious oppression, that Americans should be free to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that the religious beliefs of a group must not dictate the religious beliefs of all and must not be the basis for legislation--are now so utterly wrongly called into question that feeling ill at ease is not so hard to fathom. But what to do? I try to imagine a Kerry victory and am saddened and frustrated at the extra time it will take just to attempt to heal the wounds in this country salted by our present regime. Time that could have been better spent ethically addressing foreign policy as well as domestic issues that do not divide but empower all of us--Americans and citizens of the world. We have at present a regime put into place by the courts that has allowed the Peter Pan of Unaccountability to bloat our national ego when we should most be ashamed. It will take an army of patient, far-sighted ADULTS to clean up this mess.

But we must.

Which brings me back to CA-96 and similar initaitives across this country. In what way or ways has any LGBT couple ever threatened heterosexual marriage if not by the fear engendered in those with narrow fields of vision and experience? It really is that simple. But Americans also seem terrified of admitting the obvious--and the rest of the world sees it so plainly--Americans are dumb. That, too, is also that simple. I just want to know what they're really afraid of.

As I stroll down Main Street, I can tell you, I am thinking more and more about approaching heterosexual couples for the expressed purpose of threatening the sanctity of their relationships, especially as God loves them in such special ways, and I, as an agent of the devil, would not otherwise be doing my duty.

We need some internal diplomacy just as we need some time for mess-cleaning and healing as a nation. As my mother rightly commented whenever I had to clean my room as a child--it has to get a little worse before it gets better. Hold your nerve, America.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lisa!

I emailed that Bush photo to you some time ago as well as a short piece from Salon about the flap. Believe it or not I have a close friend who works at a very conservative paper in D.C., and that is the person who sent the photo to me the same day you inquired.

I am trying to stay optimistic for our country these days.

Two weeks ago or a bit more I broke up with the guy I'd been dating, which was not easy but which I recognized had to be done for myself. I took a bit of a break from going out on the town, and I think that has helped a great deal. I am becoming a believer in good karma, too.

I have met a wonderful guy who, for a change, is older than me by just a little bit. We shall see where it goes, but I am absolutely smitten and have spent the past week just embarrassingly happy. I send all good vibes your way, too! Smooch!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

ERIC!

So Derrida has passed away - i expect pretentious Continental philosophy departments all over the US to shut down for a week in honor of his death... I suppose my only resentment with Derrida himself (versus the people who merely try to SPEAK about him) concerns his book about Marx. Historical Materialism was not his bag, which is too bad because his philosophy could have used a heavy dose of it.

anyway, do me a favor and find the photo of Bush bending over, taken from behind at the first debate. It looks as though he has a rectangular box under his jacket - suggesting he was wired and receiving "help" from someone. This would explain why he said "Now let me finish" when no one was interrupting him and he still had plenty of time to finish his comment. Let's see if we can post it here. Kisses!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Jacques Derrida: 1930-2004

I have mixed emotions about this but may write more later. In the meantime, a piece on his life and work and death from The New York Times today. (Requires a free, one time registration)


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