Recent reading.

Schizophrenia not a single disease but multiple genetically distinct disorders. Dryden, J., Washington University in St. Louis (Sep. 2014).

Black Lung Among Coal Miners At Highest Level In 40 Years. Valentine, K., Think Progress (Sep. 2014).

This Legendary Accounting Firm Just Ran the Numbers on Climate Change: We’re 20 years away from catastrophe, says PricewaterhouseCoopers. West, J., Mother Jones (Sep. 2014).

Rush Limbaugh on consent for sex: ‘No means yes if you know how to spot it’. Edwards, D., Raw Story (Sep. 2014). [Also: up means down, war means peace... -Feminazi Ed.]

5 Things I Learned as the Internet’s Most Hated Person. Quinn, Z., Cracked (Sep. 2014).

A Woman’s Room Online. Roth, A.D., CFI Los Angeles in conjunction with LAWAAG  (Sep. 2014). (This “art installation is about online harassment and stalking from the perspective of women, feminist bloggers and journalists who earn at least part of their income from working online.”)

Dear Innocent People Murdered in Witch Hunts. Watson, R., Skepchick (Sep. 2014). [Rebecca Watson hoists The Dawk by his own petard. -Ed.]

US government threatens to prosecute families of James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Williamson, N., Rebellious Investigative News & Film (Sep. 2014). (“threats of prosecution made against the families of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were brutally beheaded on video by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”) [h/t nubs]

4 Ways to Be Gender Inclusive When Discussing Abortion. Qu’emi, J., Everyday Feminism (Aug. 2014).

Sen. Maria Cantwell wants to strip the NFL of its tax-exempt status. Connelly, J., The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Sep. 2014).

__________

NOTE: The acquisition of links for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual. Just for example, Rush Limbaugh.

Recent reading.

PLEASE NOTE: Acquisition of links for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization, source or individual.

__________

Ferguson Police Busted – Attempt To Defame Shooting Victim Blows Up In Their Face. Downe, N., Addicting Info (Aug. 2013). [with VIDEO] (“When the Ferguson police department released the name of Darren Wilson, they also chose to release video footage which they claimed was of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store for some cigars. The problem is, the video shows Michael Brown at the register, paying for the cigars.”)

Campaigns for #MikeBrown #Ferguson. Spaceship Dreaming (Aug. 2014). (“a list of donations, protests, and petitions that you can do to help the people in #Ferguson and to assist #MikeBrown and #EzellFord all others who have been killed by the hands of the police.” updated regularly.)

Atheists face death threats on Fox Facebook page; re: 9/11 cross. Stone, M., Examiner.com (Jul. 2014). Slideshow of screencaps.

The Role of Help-Seeking in Preventing Suicide Attempts among Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals. Meyer, I.H. et al, Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior [paywall] (May 2014). (from the Williams Institute press release: “individuals who sought religious or spiritual treatment had higher odds of later attempting suicide than those who did not seek treatment at all.”)

Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protest. ACLU.
Know Your Rights: Photographers. ACLU.
Know Your Rights: What To Do If You’re Stopped By Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI. ACLU.

Global Peace Index 2014. Institute for Economics and Peace (pdf). (map and rankings.) [SPOILER ALERT! The United States ranks 101 out of 162 countries.]

Harassment in Science, Replicated. Aschwanden, C., The New York Times (Aug. 2014). (“the problem will not be solved with new rules archived on unread websites. The responsibility for pushing back should not rest solely with the victims. Solutions require a change of culture that can happen only from within. It will take chief executives, department heads, laboratory directors, professors, publishers and editors in chief to take a stand and say: Not on my watch. I don’t care if you’re my friend or my favorite colleague; we don’t treat women like that.”)

In Texas, Activist Group “Stop Patriarchy” Draws Criticism. Klabusich, K., Bitch Magazine (Aug. 2014).

George Orwell’s review of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf. (Mar. 1940). (via Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing). [h/t Simon.]

Photos of women & girls in the National Child Labor Committee Collection at the Library of Congress. (LOC source.)

12 things white people can do now because of Ferguson. Woods, J., Quartz (Aug. 2014).

 

I missed it?

Okay so there was apparently some big sporting competition for d00ds called the “Word Cup” or somesuch, to which I of course paid absolutely no attention whatsoever. (This is no small feat in New York City, let me tell you.) But now I’m totally sorry I missed it! As it turns out it, was awesomely fabulous as well as fabulously awesome:

Priest: World Cup Is A Homosexual Abomination Because Players Wear Gay Shoes

A Russian Orthodox Priest has claimed that the World Cup is an abomination because players wear brightly-coloured shoes.

Writing in his column on Russian People’s Line, Priest Alexander Shumsky claimed that players are promoting a “gay rainbow” by wearing green, pink, yellow and blue shoes.
He said: “Wearing pink or blue shoes, [the players] might as well wear women’s panties or a bra.

“The liberal ideology of globalism clearly wants to oppose Christianity with football. I’m sure of it.

“Therefore I am glad that the Russian players have failed and, by the grace of God, no longer participate in this homosexual abomination.”

Now I freely admit I am unfamiliar with Russian Orthodox dogma (as well as bright shoes, at least since the ’80s). Also: fútbol. “Soccer.” Whatever. But! I have lived in the West Village for many years, and I think it’s fair to say that I have at least a passing familiarity with “homosexual abominations.” (Why the fuck else would I live here, people? HELLO?!) Of course I cannot speak for my friends and neighbors, but I would be willing to go on record as saying that this whole Wad Cup dealio, whatever it is, would gain at least one loyal fan if players were free to—nay, encouraged to—wear women’s panties and/or bras.

On a much more serious note: if Father Shumsky is correct that globalism and Christianity are indeed at war with each other, how can I, as a concerned citizen, add fuel to that fire?

High budget gay porn.

[CONTENT NOTE:  This post contains a discussion of gay pornography, as well as links to graphic, sexually explicit, NSFW content on other websites. If you are under 18 or you find this subject matter offensive or problematic, please go away. I don't know, go visit my zoo or something. Just don't feed the conservatives in the mammal wing.]

The WordPress gods have helpfully informed me that a popular search term that drove people to storm the Palace gates this week was this: “high budget gay porn.” A few weeks ago it was “gay arab porn.” Longtime Loyal Readers™ may recall the genesis of this phenomenon a year ago, with the search phrase “is there any gay porn with decent dialogue?” Then as now, I cannot figure out how this blog turned up in that search, but I am beginning to detect a pattern here: these particular gay porn googlers are nothing if not discerning. And if there is one word I would use to describe my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™, it’s discerning.

So welcome, discerning high budget gay porn googlers! You are among friends here. I myself am an unrepentant snob about many, many things, although I must confess I do not have nearly enough knowledge on the topic to be a snob about high budget gay porn. What I do have, however, is an Official Gay Porn Consultant™, who is “always queer to help.”

He notes that the genre is relatively new, and offers this for my new discerning readers:

Heavy on plot, and shot in gorge locales, these HD fantasies become travelogues with sex! They are often released in both hardcore and less graphic “erotic” versions, so as not to be too distracting to plan the next vacay [at the location].

He offers this as a theory:

I guess gays figured if a cable network could make luxurious, expensive TV movies, the most taste-saturated group on Earth could too!

If, on the other hand, you’re really only interested in high quality HD video production, this site and this one look like they’ve got some pretty slick, bandwidth sucking content. If you know what I mean.

Gay Arab porn: will Turkish do?

[CONTENT NOTE:  This post contains a discussion of gay pornography. If you are under 18 or you find this subject matter offensive or problematic, please go elsewhere.]

The WordPress gods have helpfully informed me that a search term that brought people to the Palace gates this week was this: “gay arab porn.”

As our Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ well know, gay porn is not our area of expertise (that would be mocking conservatives). Nevertheless, the Palace does employ an Official Gay Porn Consultant™ for just such occasions, who was happy to enlighten us about this particular genre of adult film, one that had heretofore remained rather obscure to us.

First, he noted (apparently with no intended pun) that gay Arab porn is a “big thing these days,” and is believed to have started in Turkey. The fact that Arabs are actually a tiny ethnic minority in Turkey seemed somehow less relevant to the inquiry than the fact that the country is overwhelmingly Muslim (99.8%), and yet fairly progressive with respect to LGBT rights. When I further inquired as to whether there were any hawt Turks on his NSA-like gay porn surveillance radar, the Official Gay Porn Consultant™ informed me that they are all hawt. Yes that’s right, people, you heard it here first: it seems you really cannot go wrong with Turkish gay porn. “Very manly,” he continued, “and lotsa eyelashes.”

WHAT.

I thanked him profusely for all of these important and valuable insights, and promised to brief my readers right away. “Always queer to help,” he quipped.

THE PALACE HAS THE BEST OFFICIAL GAY PORN CONSULTANT™ EVAR.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:20). And mock them.

[TRIGGER WARNING: homophobia; ableism; graphic and ill-informed descriptions of gay sex; harmful Christian delusions and lies.]

My colleague and the Palace’s Official Wellness Consultant Don Ardell sent me a timely reminder today that sometimes, one barely need lift a finger in order to mock buffoons: just quote them.

The context was yesterday’s absurd debate by the Alabama legislature to amend the state constitution in order to permit the display of the biblical Ten Commandments in public buildings, including schools and courthouses, before voting 77-19 in favor of this constitutionally doomed proposal. In response, Kyle Whitmire of AL.com posted Things I learned during the Alabama Legislature’s Ten Commandments debate today, a compendium of quips from various and sundry doucheweasels elected to state office by the good people of Alabama. It includes such gems as these:

- School shootings, patricide and matricide are due to the Ten Commandments not being displayed in schools and other government buildings. – Rep. Bridges.

- If you proposed an amendment to the Alabama Constitution about the Ten Commandments, Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, will give you a quiz in which he repeatedly refers to them as the “10th Amendment.”

It ends with a masterstroke:

- This issue has been tested by the courts numerous times and it has always ended the same way. – Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa.

- Rep. England is way too knowledgeable, intelligent and well-spoken to serve in the Alabama Legislature. – Me.

It is hilarious, and you should definitely go read the whole thing. In the same vein, here is an actual press statement released by a group of military chaplains:

Military Chaplains Speak Up on Marriage and Homosexuality in the Military

ESCONDIDO, Calif., Feb. 2, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Before civilizations crumble, the last thing to hit the fan is government-sponsored, government-forced, homosexuality, sodomy, and pedophilia. Homosexuality is a psychiatric disorder [sic] and probably the worst sin described in the Holy Bible [!!! -Ed.] due to the permanent damage caused to what was or is or might have been a temple of the Spirit. The consequences are said to be nothing short of eternal damnation, by choice. It’s a shame that the US military, historically known to be a beacon of morality and religious tolerance and freedom, while the civilian sector has engaged in immorality [LOL -Ed.], is now having its nose shoved in the dirt of filth to make the Sinners-in-Chief in the highest echelons of politics–the perverts, the pedophiles, and the psychiatrically ill–feel better about themselves. 

Retired Military Chaplain Jim Linzey, a Baptist minister, states that “the teachings of the Church are an elaboration of the laws that Jesus gave when He said, ‘But from the beginning of the creation, God “made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh’ (Mark 10:6-8). Jesus’ teaching emphasizes the unity between a man and his wife. Jesus also said, ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate’ (Mark 10:9, NKJV). Based on Jesus’ statement, it is a moral obligation to remain married once the marriage is consummated.”

There is a biblical basis for separation. “But the point is that marriage between men and women are the foundation of society, including military society,” said Chaplain Valerie Potter, who is Methodist.

Military couples face many trials, including separations due to deployments. Chaplains have a crucial role to counsel them, to help them keep their marriages intact. As Chaplain Frank Johnson, a Baptist minister, said, “Marriage is a combat multiplier in that it gives married troops hope and a reason to fight well, defending ones country, of which marriage and families are the foundation; it gives troops a reason to live and come home.” “But homosexuality is a combat divider, dividing one’s reason to live while taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels,” said Chaplain John R. Kauffman, a Pentecostal minister. “How do you win a war like that? What a spectacle in the face of moral Muslims who detest homosexuality,” he continued. 

As a military chaplain, Rev. Linzey has counselled Soldiers struggling with homosexuality who left the military and some who had HIV. “Homosexuality was not a pleasant sin for these Soldiers,” Linzey said. “They were laden with guilt and wished they could be freed from this most vile bondage, destroying their mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. But only a penitent heart in the soul of one who would receive the atoning sacrifice of Jesus the Christ can be free.” God have mercy on the US military.

Contact: Jim Brandt, 760-855-3905, theleadersbible@gmail.com.

__________

Dear Jim Brandt and military chaplains:

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

What.

fractalwrongnessFRACTAL WRONGNESS: You are not just wrong. You are wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution. Zooming in on any part of your worldview finds beliefs exactly as wrong as your entire worldview.

Also:

palacefuckyouOn behalf of our gay family members and friends, their loved ones, and the untold thousands of LGBT soldiers who have served with more honor than you could possibly even conceive in your fetid little minds,
a hearty Palace FUCK YOU.

Most sincerely,

-Iris Vander Pluym, Proprietress
Perry Street Palace

__________

Happy Friday, y’all!

palacehappyface

Mock ’til they drop it.

[TRIGGER WARNING: homophobia, racism, ableism, classism, and offensive statements and slurs related thereto; descriptions of sexual acts, potentially NSFW.]

The owner of Gary’s Chicaros restaurant near Oklahoma City has been all up in the news recently. Gary James is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame after a disabled customer posted a complaint claiming he was banned from the restaurant by Mr. James simply because he is disabled and uses a wheelchair. Mr. James denies the allegation. If true, such despicable and illegal discrimination would be newsworthy in itself, but it’s the owner’s defiant defense of his policies that has really put Mr. James in the spotlight. Some choice excerpts:

“I’ve been in business 44 years, I think I can spot a freak or a faggot.”

“I don’t deal with these people walking down the street with no jobs on welfare.”

“If you work, you own a business, pay your taxes; you’re more than welcome here. If you’re on welfare, stay at home and spend my money there.”

“If I reached over there and slapped the shit out of you, you should be offended. But to call someone a ‘chink’ or someone call me a bigot, that doesn’t bother me.”

“I really don’t want gays around. Any man that would compromise his own body would compromise anything.”

The official t-shirt of Gary’s Chicaros reads “Where the Great Whites Gather.” It also has the word “nigger” on it, says “faggots” are not welcome, and promotes violence against Democrats, Muslims and minorities. Mr. James says he is proud to wear it. I can only imagine his delightful insights on the subject of women. I am sure his feminist credentials are impeccable.

But the aspect of this story I’d like to highlight is this: in 44 years no one ever challenged Gary James’s business practices.

IN 44 YEARS NO ONE HAS EVER CHALLENGED HIS BUSINESS PRACTICES.

What.

The now-banned disabled customer, Matt Gard—a white man—says he has witnessed James turning people away for years. He just never said or did anything about it until it affected him personally. He now says, “The people who still go back and patronize his business are condoning his behavior in how he treats others.” Indeed. Just as Mr. Gard did for years. Still, better late than never, I suppose. Well, assuming Mr. Gard’s change of views reflects genuine support for non-discrimination policies, and not just with respect to himself and people like him, but everyone. Either way, this story puts into spectacular relief the cavernous empathy deficit that conservatives blithely exhibit, when they are not openly and proudly reveling in it à la Mr. James.

Enid, Oklahoma, where Gary’s Chicaros is located, is a town of about 50,000 people (2010 census). The racial makeup is 81.6% White, 10.3% Hispanic, 3.6% African American, 2.3% Native American, and the rest from other or mixed racial identities. 61.9% claim affiliation with a religious congregation, overwhelmingly Christian: by 1987, there were 90 churches of 27 different Christian denominations in Enid. There are no synagogues or mosques. Enid was ranked the 28th best place in the USA to raise a family in a 1998 Reader’s Digest poll.

There are almost certainly many kind and decent people in Enid who abhor Mr. James’s views, regardless of whether they personally identify with the demographics he explicitly targets. But the community’s decades-long silence is experienced by Mr. James as agreement and support. He has never before paid any price whatsoever for his bigotry or his policies. This is why, as PZ Myers put it, “There’s no such thing as political neutrality. Silence is an argument in favor of the status quo.”

Mr. James is of course free to spout pretty much whatever ignorant and vile shit he wants, a right that we here at the Palace hold absolutely sacrosanct and support 100%. The question, then, becomes what to do about it. We are pleased to report that the Internet has answered this question: mockery.

Oklahoma restaurant that won’t serve ‘f*ggots’ gets Internet push as
‘best gay bar’

The owner of an Oklahoma restaurant who declared last week that he won’t serve “freaks,” “f*ggots,” the disabled, or people on welfare now finds himself the victim of an online campaign to brand his establishment the “Best Gay Club” in Oklahoma City.

Gary James of Gary’s Chicaros restaurant told KFOR last week that “I really don’t want gays around. Any man that would compromise his own body would compromise anything.”

The “gays” have responded on Yelp and Facebook by declaring James’s establishment the “[b]est place for hot man sex!”

Hahaha.

It’s important to point out that there are splash damage problems with the Yelp and Facebook campaigns to brand Gary’s Chicaros the best gay club in Oklahoma City: some of the comments employ gay stereotypes, center on the perceived ick factor surrounding anal sex, or imply that those who enjoy anal penetration or performing oral sex on men are by definition something other than “masculine.” Those particular messages are as harmful and dehumanizing as Gary James’s outright bigotry, and utterly unnecessary.

But the mockery impulse itself is exactly the right idea. Yelpers claiming his restaurant is “the best gay and/or BDSM club in or around Oklahoma” sends a message to Gary James—who will likely never change his own views—that while he is perfectly free to say terrible shit, he is no longer free to say terrible shit without unpleasant consequences. It sends a message to the good people of Enid that they can and perhaps should extract a price for injustice and bigotry in their midst. It sends a message to everyone that despite this community’s 44-year silence, there are many, many people who vehemently disagree with Gary James and have nothing but the deepest contempt for his views. It also sends a message to the LGBT communities in Enid that they have support in the wider world—which message is diluted by the aforementioned splash damage. Please, people: practice Safe Mocking™.

As I noted on a friend’s Facebook thread the other day:

For lurkers and bystanders actually interested in the truth, a non-response lends weight to the asshole side of the argument, whereas a sharp rebuke tilts the scales back. That’s why I recommend [mockery] *only* in public forums. E.g., in a group of friends and acquaintances recently, someone smugly announced “I’m a Republican.” I shot back “How embarrassing.” People laughed, and that d00d kept his vile conservative opinions to himself. That is a good result.

I liken it to racism: there still are and always will be racists among us, but they no longer feel as safe mouthing off publicly because they will often pay an uncomfortable price. It’s potentially happening with homophobia. It can work with right-wing conservatives, rape apologists, narcissists and sadistic trolls, too. They really do not like it when someone points and laughs at them. It’s an Achilles heel.

There’s a reason right-wing dictators have historically jailed cartoonists and taken over the media: mockery is a powerful tool for changing a culture. The instant oppressed people feel safe enough to mock their oppressors, the powerful become less so. I want to use my relative privilege to help create that safety.

More pointing and laughing, please. Watch the splash damage.

TDoR.

[UPDATED.]

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). Here is a very good post about it; here is another.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

A candle burns at the Palace. Flags are at half-mast.

Wallpaper: CandleUPDATE: Those We’ve Lost in 2013.

tdorgraphic

Lt. General Jerry Boykin LOVES Stinky Jeezus.

[CONTENT WARNING: homophobia, transphobia, gender essentialism, excessive and probably unnecessary profanity.]

I was reading an excellent post by Amanda Marcotte about the panty-sniffing authoritarian assholes that comprise the Forced Birth Brigades when I noticed a link to another piece at Raw Story. It read:

Anti-LGBT activist slams church over ‘effeminate’ Jesus:
‘He smelled bad… He was a man’s man’

Maybe it’s just my sense of humor, but I never fail to get a snicker out of the pathetically infantile views of sexuality and gender expressed by “anti-LGBT activists.” Especially the d00ds: these are plainly some of the most insecure men on the planet, anxious and obsessed with a toxic model of cartoonish hyper-masculinity (and, not coincidentally, with an equally toxic construct of femininity). It does not matter from which particular Abrahamic sect such noxious views emanate—and there is always a religious source—because they are all so boringly similar. Thus it has become my custom to emit a derisive snort in the general direction of such clickbait and move on.

But in this case, the prospect of a rant about Stinky Jeezus proved far too enticing. I clicked the link. And lo, it came to pass that I was not disappointed.

Lt_Gen_William_G_Boykin

Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin,
manly man’s man,
just like Jeezus.

An anti-Muslim retired lieutenant general who now serves as the Family Research Council (FRC) executive vice president recently said he was upset that Jesus had been “feminized” because the Son of God was a “man’s man” who “smelled bad” and had “big, bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms.”

In a video clip posted by Right Wing Watch on Monday, Jerry Boykin tells a group at William Jessup University that Jesus would have been a lot different than most people imagined because he did manual labor as a carpenter.

“Do you think he looked like the effeminate picture that we always see of him?” Boykin asked. “He didn’t look like that. He had big ole calluses over his hands, right? I imagine he probably lost a nail or two, he probably hit it with a hammer or something.”

“You think his biceps weren’t big bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms, thin waist, strong shoulders from lifting?” he continued. “He smelled bad! Why? Because he sweated, he worked. You think I’m sacrilegious because I said Jesus smelled bad? No, he was a man! He was a man’s man.”

Boykin lamented that “we feminize him in the church.”

“He was a tough guy, and that’s the Jesus I want to be like,” he insisted. “But we feminize Jesus in the church and men can’t identify with him anymore, not the kind of men I want to hang out with. They can’t identify with this effeminate Jesus that we’ve tried to portray.”

What.

Here’s the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXPq6j6NEbk

I’m familiar with FRC, the conservative Christian lobbying organization classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and led by infamous bigot Tony Perkins. These merry assholes rail against gay rights, including marriage equality and LGBT adoption, and oppose any expansion of civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. FRC is vehemently anti-abortion, anti-birth control and proudly endorses the teaching of the spectacular font of misery and abject failure that is abstinence-only education, “intelligent design,” and prayer in public schools. In other words, these people are total fucking doucheweasels.

Boykin’s name sounded familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite place it so I looked him up. His impressive military career spanned 36 years, including 13 years in Delta Force. It almost didn’t happen: a Fort Bragg psychologist almost ended his career, wanting to exclude him from the Delta Force because he was “too religious.” But he finally got in anyway.

Boykin was awarded many military honors, including two Purple Hearts. He took part in some high-profile missions, including the 1992 hunt for drug lord Pablo Escobar. The Pentagon suspected Boykin intended to overstep his authority, break the law and have his team assassinate Escobar in Colombia, and it appears that’s exactly what he did. In 1993, he advised Attorney General Janet Reno regarding the stand-off at Waco, TX between the Feds and the Branch Davidians, and, well, let’s just say that didn’t work out very well. Boykin has been connected to secret Israeli counterinsurgency activities in Iraq, allegedly including assassination squads. In 2003, Seymour Hersh documented in the New Yorker that Boykin was a key planner behind Donald Rumsfeld’s approach to fighting the War on Terror. Heckuvajob there.

Still, none of that really rang any bells. Then I came across an item that jogged my memory: Lt. General Boykin saying stupid shit. In a recorded speech to a religious group in 2003, Boykin said that Islamic extremists hate the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christians…and the enemy is a guy named Satan.” (Wait, I thought the Satan worshippers hated us for our Freedom™, not for our Jewy-Jeezusness. ?) The next day the Los Angeles Times ran some more Boykin quotes, including a doozy about hunting down Osman Atto in Mogadishu: “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” (Translation: “I am insecure about the size of my penis. Also, my dad can beat up your dad.”) Worst of all, Boykin has questioned the eligibility of Muslims for protection under the Constitution—despite the fact that thousands of Muslims presently serve honorably in the military and have done so since the American Revolution.

muslimgravesatarlingtonGraves of Muslim soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
These three lost their lives in Iraq, a war for which
Lt. Gen. Boykin was a key planner.

When Boykin started mouthing off about his big penis god and the small penises evils of Muslims, people went apeshit, and rightfully so. Arab and Muslim organizations in the U.S. called for his resignation, as did many mainstream publications like Newsweek. Congresscritters from both parties denounced the remarks, and urged Rumsfeld to censure and reassign him. Even President Bush distanced himself, saying Boykin didn’t “reflect my point of view or the point of view of this administration.”

Of course nothing ever came of any of it. Boykin retired in 2007 and went on to say even more stupid shit, if you can believe it. For example, he co-wrote a hilariously paranoid book for a neocon think [sic] tank, entitled Shariah: The threat to America (pdf). Its central argument is that “most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.” Um, no. As an acclaimed article in the Washington Post understated it: “Government terrorism experts call the views expressed in the center’s book inaccurate and counterproductive.” Boykin also claims the Holy Spirit speaks to him personally and tells him what to say to the Lord’s men: “put your armor on and get into battle.” For Jeezus. Yikes.

And now we have this Stinky Jeezus rant. Christ. Where to begin.

First, the projection. Religious people apparently cannot grok that to everyone else, their gods are obviously projections of themselves. Thus it is yawningly predictable when an anti-gay war-lover like Boykin pompously proclaims with certainty that Jeezus is not only super butch, he gives Boykin personal messages to tell other men to be super butch, too. Yet strangely enough, we have Anglican priest Father Rod Bower also claiming to know the mind of the Christian god—who loves gays:

JESUS HAD
2 DADS
AND HE TURNED
OUT OKAY

DEAR CHRISTIANS
SOME PPL ARE GAY
GET OVER IT.
LOVE GOD

For the religious, the only issue here is which version of god is the correct one. If you are a homophobic authoritarian asshat, you will “know” that Boykin is right about super butch Stinky Jeezus. Not only that, but you will probably think this image distributed at the 2000 Republican national convention is seriously awesome, if not incontrovertible proof that Stinky Jeezus himself wants George W. Bush to be the 43rd president.

bushasunclesamOn the other hand, if you are socially liberal, you will “know” that god loves and accepts gay people and abhors discrimination. You will also likely think the above image is hilariously absurd.

‘Twas ever thus. The history of this nation is scarred with epic battles where we somehow find Jeezus on both sides of slavery, the Civil War, women’s emancipation, the civil rights movement, abortion, contraception, gun rights, “free market” capitalism, welfare, the Vietnam War, public education, stem cell research, everything. The obvious problem is that there is no way of determining any such thing. In some cases scripture might appear to “help,” for example by providing a religious justification for the vilification of gays and the commodification of women. But in many cases scripture itself is so internally contradictory that one cannot possibly justify any particular argument for what this god character wants, at least not honestly and coherently. And so we are right back to the same problem of projection: sects and individuals choosing whatever idea of god suits them personally. Never mind that the most likely explanation by far for this conundrum is that there is no Jeezus and religious people are naively unreflective at best, and willfully ignorant narcissists at worst.

Boykin says he wants to see only butch Jeezus images in churches, and only hang out with d00ds who are sweaty, smelly and have “big bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms, thin waist, strong shoulders from lifting.” NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I’m not being flippant here, I mean it: whoever Boykin finds appealing company is entirely his prerogative and the Palace supports him 100% in this, no matter how superficial it reveals him to be. But his low regard for men who are not super butch like him and Stinky Jeezus—in particular his use of “effeminate” as an insult, as something defiling Christian churches—is toxic patriarchal bullshit of the first order. Using “effeminate” to label men he does not wish to look at or hang out with is not only dismissive of men who do not meet his aberrational standards for masculinity, it is equally contemptuous of women and all things feminine. Boykin devalues the worth and humanity of countless soldiers who have served the U.S. military bravely and honorably in critical roles that do not, in fact, require bulging biceps any more than they require Christianity. He demeans and erases these soldiers, just as he erases the Muslim soldiers killed and maimed in his stupid fucking war. If you were an effeminate man, slight of build, androgynous, or hell, anything other than a super butch smelly d00d, what would it be like to serve under a patriarchal shitweasel like Lt. General Boykin?

Because here’s the truth: Jerry Boykin doesn’t get to define masculinity. Neither he nor the FRC is the arbiter of who is or is not a man. I am reminded of something bell hooks said recently in this amazing discussion with Melissa Harris Perry [h/t Jadehawk]:

When we talk about hyper-masculinity, if what we mean is patriarchy, that’s what we need to say. Because we have to have a space to love, to revere, and to honor that which is masculine but is not patriarchal. And if we are constantly equating the two, then we are part of the assault on masculinity.

Now don’t get me wrong: I am grateful that we have delusional right-wing assholes like Boykin in the military. If it should it ever prove necessary for the United States to resort to violence in self-defense (hahaha), their cavernous empathy deficit coupled with enthusiasm for physical aggression would seem to render such personalities remarkably well-suited to killing other humans, and presumably more psychologically resilient in the aftermath than a decent human being would be. But while there may be a practical need for delusional right-wing assholes in the military, we obviously cannot have delusional right-wing assholes in charge of the military. That goes for everyone from the so-called Commander-in-Chief, the Pentagon leadership, CIA Director, and especially for the unelected, unaccountable permanent power factions they so ably serve: the Military Industrial Complex, Big Banks, Dirty Energy and the shifting coalitions of other nefarious shitheads such as the health insurance industry and Big Agriculture.

Unfortunately, all indicators point to a mass of delusional right-wing assholes running the shit show.

Iris the radical?

I recently enjoyed the company of one of my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ over dinner and cocktails. At one point during our wide-ranging conversation, he said to me: “You are a radical.” Not a “radical feminist.” Not a “radical leftist.” Not “a radical atheist and anti-clerical zealot.”

Just… a radical.

I laughed. Not because I found the charge insulting by any means, but because I had never really considered before whether that particular term accurately described my political views. If it did, I would gladly identify as such, and update my professional resume accordingly.

I am not particularly fond of labeling people—especially political animals—because labels necessarily paint with a broad brush and thereby oversimplify exceedingly complex realities. Humans are wildly complex creatures, our priorities are as fluid as they are diverse, and none of us are always perfectly rational—and this may be particularly true in the case of political orientation. But labels do make for useful shorthand, at least sometimes. For example, it can be meaningful to say that someone leans left (or libertarian) on certain issues (e.g. drug legalization, same-sex marriage), and right-wing conservative on others (e.g. abortion, and funding a social safety net). And so, since that pleasant conversation I’ve been wondering whether or not the term “radical” (noun) is an apt description of Your Humble Monarch™.

Readers are strongly cautioned that what follows is an epic, self-righteous, self-indulgent screed: all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

__________

Loyal Readers™ will not be surprised that I approached the question of whether I am a radical methodically, starting with the definition. Unfortunately, Step One did not exactly turn out to be an exercise in clarification. (Wikipedia was of no help at all here: see if you can glean from that page any coherent, consensus definition of a radical.)

We’re pretty much stuck with crap like this:

radical [rad-i-kuhl]
noun

  • a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; extremist.
  • a person who advocates fundamental political, economic, and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.

Wait a minute. For one thing, “a person who holds or follows strong convictions” applies to nearly everyone I know, from family and friends to run-of-the-mill partisans. Ask any American adult about their views on religion, reproductive rights, Wall Street, taxes, drugs, Fox News, Syria, the Second Amendment, health care, Sarah Palin, affirmative action, Israel, criminal law, feminism, assisted suicide, etc. and I can pretty much guarantee you will discover at least one (and probably more) convictions the person holds strongly. Further, the U.S. Constitution itself is absolutist in much of its language and intent, and surely the major principles embodied therein can be correctly characterized as “strong”—although perhaps not strong enough to survive the bipartisan attacks of the early 21st century. In any case, its framers can accurately be described as radicals under this definition. So I will concede that I am a person who holds strong convictions (else, why blog?). But really, this definition is fairly useless. I may be a radical by this definition, but then, nearly everybody else is, too.

The second part of the definition, “a person who holds or follows … extreme principles; extremist,” is equally useless—not for being too broad but for being too vague. “Extreme” is a relative term. Extreme, relative to what, exactly? I suspect many readers here would view, say, neo-Nazis as extremists. Catholic bishops. Eco-terrorists. Take your pick/fill in the blank: you probably have some idea of an “extremist” in mind.

However:

  • Not even 20 years ago, legalized same-sex marriage seemed all but a pipe dream; now, the feds, the states and the courts are dismantling same-sex marriage prohibitions (due in no small part to advocates bolting from Democrats to Republicans in droves after Dems failed to act). Were same-sex marriage supporters extremists or radicals 20 years ago? Are they today? Likewise, how about their opponents, then and now?
  • It took women’s suffrage advocates almost 150 years to secure for American women their right to vote. At some point were they radicals? At what point did they cease to be radicals? I have similar questions regarding American abolitionists. Were they radicals or extremists? Everywhere, or only in the South?
  • An astonishing number (46%) of my fellow citizens believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and that some god created humans in their present form around the same time. Are they extremists? Radicals?

If extremism is only a numbers game confined to a particular geographic area and time—that is, if enough people in one place share a view, no matter how demonstrably false it is or how much evil results from holding it—are they by definition not extremists? Because if that is true, then the concept of “extreme” is entirely subjective. I don’t think anyone would disagree that a whole lot of people at almost all times and places fervently believe a whole lot of stupid, wrong and vile shit, consciously or not. We probably all do. So I’m afraid “extreme” (and “extremist”) are far too slippery for our purposes here.

Finally, there is this alternative definition: “a person who advocates fundamental political, economic, and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods.” Now this seems somewhat more promising. Let’s see:

“a person” -CHECK.

“who advocates” -CHECK.

“fundamental political, economic, and social reforms.” If you think that a more socialist democracy, i.e., less economic and political inequality, single-payer universal healthcare and advances in social justice for women and minorities, are fundamental reforms, then -CHECK. But we run into the same problems we did with “extreme”: fundamental is equally slippery and subjective. And I would strongly urge you to consider that your judgement on this “fundamental” matter may depend on how far down the right-wing rabbit hole you’ve fallen.

Take a look at these quotes:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican President, WWII General

“I believe that there should be a very much heavier progressive tax on very large incomes, a tax which should increase in a very marked fashion for the gigantic incomes.”
~Theodore Roosevelt, Republican President

“The tax which will be paid for the purpose of education is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.”
~Thomas Jefferson, Democratic-Republican President, Founding Father, principal author of the Declaration of Independence

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
~Abraham Lincoln, Republican President

“Today’s so-called ‘conservatives’ don’t even know what the word means. They think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right. It’s not a conservative issue at all.”
~Barry Goldwater, Republican presidential candidate

“The supreme duty of the Nation is the conservation of human resources through an enlightened measure of social and industrial justice. We pledge ourselves to work unceasingly in State and Nation for … the protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use.”
~Theodore Roosevelt, Republican President

“The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community.”
~James A. Garfield, Republican President

“While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.”
~Barry Goldwater, Republican presidential candidate

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”
~George Washington, first President of the United States, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and Founding Father

“We establish no religion in this country. We command no worship. We mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate.”
~Ronald Reagan, Republican President

“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”
~Ronald Reagan, Republican President

“I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.”
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Supreme Court Justice (Republican appointee)

“We all agree that neither the Government nor political parties ought to interfere with religious sects. It is equally true that religious sects ought not to interfere with the Government or with political parties. We believe that the cause of good government and the cause of religion suffer by all such interference.”
~Rutherford B. Hayes, Republican President

“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower, Republican President, WWII General

There is nothing there that I disagree with. You?

For comparison, and with that context in mind, I posted in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election a (non-exhaustive) list of things a political candidate could do to earn my support:

At the time, I noted:

This is not fringe lefty stuff. I really isn’t. There is nothing here that is not standard, mainstream liberal fare.

Much of it was mainstream Republican fare, for most of our nation’s history.

It sure seems to me that something like the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall would qualify as a “fundamental” reform. Dismantling the provisions of the 1933 Banking Act enacted in the wake of the crash that led to the Great Depression that separated commercial banking from investment banking predictably led to the 2008 crash, from which much of the world is still reeling (with the exception of America’s Owners, of course)—and the unprecedented taxpayer bailouts that followed. That seems rather…um…hmmm…what’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh right: radical. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a century of settled law in the Citizens United case, granting corporations First Amendment rights and thereby unleashing the floodgates on corporate money in elections. That is radical. The president’s assassination of American citizens without due process: what could possibly be a more radical “fundamental reform” than that?

These are all recent, rapid, fundamental changes, and I want them changed back. Christ, now I sound like a fucking reactionary.

Anyway. Putting aside whether the reforms I support are “fundamental” or not, the final clause in the definition of “radical” that we are working with requires that I advocate for these reforms “by direct and often uncompromising methods.” Do I?

Well, I do strongly advocate voting, especially in primaries. And I strongly advocate supporting lefty candidates, financially or otherwise—again, especially in primaries, and even more especially in primaries against conservative Democratic incumbents. I further advocate not voting for conservative Democrats (including Barack Obama), both as a tactical strategy and on principle. Finally, I advocate peaceful protest and non-violent civil disobedience. There is a long and grand tradition of Americans doing precisely the same, from slavery abolition to women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement to Vietnam war protests, and history has looked back and smiled kindly at every one of them.

I absolutely do not concede that any of these methods are “direct and often uncompromising” in an ostensible democracy. Indeed, citizens have the right (if not the duty) to advocate for and against candidates, platforms, causes and initiatives that they believe are important.

I am not directly advocating for a revolution, although I do believe that one is inevitable if our current trajectory as a country is not significantly altered—politically, economically and socially—and soon. No one can claim to have any idea what will spark it, where or when, and there is a grave risk that things will turn out very, very badly for large swaths of humanity (almost certainly including America’s Owners themselves). I would like to have some influence on the shape it will take, and the way that it will play out. It is my fervent hope that this revolution will be nonviolent, that diverse coalitions will seek and find common cause in restoring our democracy from the ravages of endless war and corporate greed, and that we will not fall prey to the tactics of an elite which seeks to divide and conquer us. To that end, I will do what I can to advocate peaceful protest and civil disobedience, as well as coalition-building with multiple constituencies, including with those whose political perspective is radically (hahaha) different than my own.

But if I change my mind about all of that, and start directly advocating for a revolution, I would still probably eschew the label “radical.”

Instead, I would be a revolutionary.