Category Archive 'Gay Rights'

24 Aug 2015

Freshman Summer Reading, Then and Now

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FunHome1
A scene from “Fun Home”.

When you get admitted to an elite university, you receive “the freshman packet,” a large envelope containing a guide to the campus, a course catalog, various brochures inviting you to join organizations or buy things… and a suggested reading list for the summer. At some point, after you arrive on campus in the Fall, there is going to be a Freshman introductory meeting at which the suggested book(s) are going to be discussed. In other words, you will be tested on the reading(s).

In my day, at Yale, the suggested book was Jacques Monod’s “Chance and Necessity“.

I was, I fear, naive as an incoming freshman. I read it as a rather turgid, Continental recounting of the Miller-Urey Experiment, involving the creation of amino acids (the building blocks of life) by passing electrical charges through a mixture of methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen gases in a closed container. In reality, “Chance and Necessity” was an attempt to dispel my (non-existent at that point) religious faith in order to replace it with the proper sort of faith in materialism and scientism which a good member of the establishment elite ought to have.

An Amazon reviewer summarizes it, thusly:

Jacques Monod, the Nobel Prize winning biochemist, allies himself, in the title of this admirable treatise, to the atomist Democritus, who held that the whole universe is but the fruit of two qualities, chance and necessity. Interpreting the laws of natural selection along purely naturalistic lines, he succeeds in presenting a powerful case that takes into account the ethical, political and philosophical undercurrents of the synthesis in modern biology. Above all, he stresses that science must commit itself to the postulate of objectivity by casting aside delusive ideological and moral props, even though he enjoins, at the same time, that the postulate of objectivity itself is a moral injunction. He launches a bitter polemic against metaphysical and scientific vitalisms, dismissing them as obscurantist. … He refutes teleological explanations of nature as being contrary to the postulate of objectivity, drawing attention to self-constructing proteins as teleonomic agents, followed by an explanation of the role of nucleic acids, reproduction and invariance. This leads him to dismiss Judaeo-Christian religiosity, which accords man a significant role as being created in God’s image, as a nauseating and false pietism and he even goes so far as to recommend eugenic reform. Writing with great clarity and flair, and often in a forceful and idiosyncratic idiom, he puts forward a compelling case.

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I was reading today that incoming freshmen at Duke also have summertime suggested readings, and that certain unenlightened members of the Duke Class of 2019 have had the temerity to resist reading this year’s choice, a graphic novel, titled “Fun Home“.

Duke Chronicle:

Several incoming freshmen decided not to read “Fun Home” because its sexual images and themes conflicted with their personal and religious beliefs. Freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page July 26 that he would not read the book “because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality,” igniting conversation among students. The graphic novel, written by Alison Bechdel, chronicles her relationship with her father and her issues with sexual identity.

“I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Grasso wrote in the post.

Many first-year students responded to the post, expressing their thoughts on Grasso’s discomfort with the novel. Some defended the book’s images as having literary value and said that the book could broaden students’ viewpoints.

“Reading the book will allow you to open your mind to a new perspective and examine a way of life and thinking with which you are unfamiliar,” wrote freshman Marivi Howell-Arza.

However, several freshmen agreed with Grasso that the novel’s images conflicted with their beliefs. Freshman Bianca D’Souza said that while the novel discussed important topics, she did not find the sexual interactions appropriate and could not bring herself to view the images depicting nudity.

Freshman Jeffrey Wubbenhorst based his decision not to read the book on its graphic novel format.

“The nature of ‘Fun Home’ means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature,” he wrote in an email.

Grasso said that many students privately messaged him thanking him for the post and agreeing with his viewpoint. He explained that he knew the post would be controversial but wanted to make sure students with similar Christian beliefs did not feel alone, adding that he also heard from several students with non-Christian backgrounds who chose not to read the book for moral reasons.

“There is so much pressure on Duke students, and they want so badly to fit in,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we don’t have to read the book.”

The summer reading book selection committee expected that the novel would be contentious among its readers, said senior Sherry Zhang, a member of the committee and co-chair of the First-Year Advisory Counselor Board. The debate generated by Grasso’s post was “very respectful and considerate,” Zhang said.

Publishers Weekly described “Fun Home”:

This autobiography by the author of the long-running [comic] strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor (the former allowed him access to teen boys). Fun Home refers both to the funeral parlor, where he put makeup on the corpses and arranged the flowers, and the family’s meticulously restored gothic revival house, filled with gilt and lace, where he liked to imagine himself a 19th-century aristocrat. … Bechdel’s talent for intimacy and banter gains gravitas when used to describe a family in which a man’s secrets make his wife a tired husk and overshadow his daughter’s burgeoning womanhood and homosexuality. His court trial over his dealings with a young boy pushes aside the importance of her early teen years. Her coming out is pushed aside by his death, probably a suicide.

In 1966, those-who-know-better were trying to get rid of your religious superstitions and make you into a good secular materialist believer in progressive scientism and the rule of experts. Today, the goal is to get rid of that old-fashioned religion-based morality and to make you into a politically correct and appropriately sensitive and respectful admirer and supporter of the LBGTQ movement, if not LBGTQ yourself.

05 Jul 2015

Make Our Cake!

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MakeOurCake1
MakeOurCake2

07 Apr 2015

Hitler Can’t Get a Gay Wedding Cake

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02 Apr 2015

Forcible Conversion in America

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FreeCountry

Kevin D. Williamson notes that our ruling class is determined to eliminate private freedom of thought and opinion and make everyone in America conform in every kind of expression to the belief system of the optimates.

Adlai Stevenson famously offered this definition: “A free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.” We do not live in that society. …

When there is no private property — the great legal fiction of “public accommodation” saw to its effective abolition — then everything is subject to brute-force politics, and there can be no live-and-let-live ethic, which is why a nation facing financial ruination and the emergence of a bloodthirsty Islamic caliphate is suffering paroxysms over the question of whether we can clap confectioners into prison for declining to bake a cake for a wedding in which there is no bride. …

Gay couples contemplating nuptials are not just happening into cake shops and florists with Christian proprietors — this is an organized campaign to bring the private mind under political discipline, to render certain moral dispositions untenable. Like Antiochus and the Jews, the game here is to “oblige them to partake of the sacrifices” and “adopt the customs” of the rulers.

Read the whole thing.

27 Feb 2014

When “Leave Us Alone” Became “Bake Us a Cake”

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Matt K. Lewis explains that the current (losing for conservatives) attempt to defend individual business’s right to decline to bake Gay wedding cakes or photograph Gay weddings is the next to last stop before the conflict between egalitarianism and religious freedom arrives inside the churches’ doors.

this is a tough issue that pits things we value as a society against things we value as a society.

We have reached a point in the gay rights debate where all the low-hanging fruit has been picked. We are now entering into the zero-sum game phase of the debate, where gay rights and religious liberty must collide. (In other words, the cake is only so big. If you take a piece, you are guaranteeing the other guy has less cake.)

So who’s right? My guess is one could guarantee public opinion is on either side of the issue, depending on how you frame the question. If, for example, you were to ask someone whether or not “businesses should be allowed to deny services to same-sex couples,” the answer would, of course, be “no.”

On the other hand, ask Americans if “government should have the right to forcefully coerce Christians to violate their convictions,” and the answer would also be “no.” …

This is really a surrogate battle. A much bigger one is coming.

Opponents of these bills score points when they argue that florists and bakers aren’t exactly granting their imprimatur when they make a cake or put together a flower arrangement for a gay wedding. Additionally, they are correct in assuming that most Christians, whether they agree with same-sex marriage, or not, would still bake the cake. In fact, this could be seen as an example of Christian love.

But this is another example of how this schism cannot be easily brushed aside like so many wedding cake crumbs. In recent years, libertarian-leaning conservatives have largely sided with the gay rights argument. Proud members of the “leave us alone” coalition were apt to side with a group of people who just wanted to be left alone to love the person they love (and what happens in the bedroom is nobody’s business).

At some point, however, “leave us alone” became “bake us a cake. Or else!”

And that’s a very different thing, altogether.

The reason conservative Christians are fighting this fight today is because it’s a firewall. The real danger, of course, is that Christian pastors and preachers will eventually be coerced into performing same-sex marriages. (Note: It is entirely possible for someone to believe gay marriage is fine, and to still oppose forcing people who hold strong religious convictions to participate — but I suspect that is where we are heading.)

Think of it this way. If you were a congregant in a church, wouldn’t you expect the pastor to marry you? Why should you be treated different?

Any pastor — if he or she wants to maintain the church’s tax status, that is — had better grapple with this now.

Whether the analogy is fair, or not, refusing to officiate a gay wedding can just as easily be called “denying service.” And it will predictably also be compared to the bad old days of Jim Crow — where racist Christians opposed interracial marriage (until the courts struck down state laws prohibiting biracial marriage).

Gay rights and religious liberty are on a collision course.

Read the whole thing.

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In England, the first lawsuit against the church is already in the news.

04 Aug 2010

Good Thing They Got That Cleared Up

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4500-year-old henge and stone circle cleared of discrimination

Isn’t it comforting to know that in this time of economic crisis, Western governments still manage to see to it that the public’s vital interests are protected? Take Scotland, for instance.

Earlier this year, Dean Herbert reported, in the Scottish Daily Mail, that the government of Scotland had successfully completed an Equality Impact Assessment involving audits by consultants on the Neolithic Ring of Brodgar in the Orkneys.

Happily, the stones passed their assessment.

To the outsider, they are a weather-beaten circle of rocks that have stood on a remote Scottish island for thousands of years.

But for officials at the Scottish Executive, the prehistoric ruins on Orkney are a potential hotbed of homophobia and racist hate crime.

The ancient Neolithic ruins have caused no discernible trouble since 3,300 BC but civil servants decided to investigate the ‘equality issues’ surrounding them – in case they discriminated against gays and ethnic minorities.

Now their findings on The Ring of Brodgar have been published in a nine-page taxpayer-funded report, one of many ‘Equality Impact Assessments’ (EQIAs) carried out over the past two years, costing the public purse up to 1 million pounds sterling.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Executive concluded the stones presented no immediate threat to gays and other minority groups – but recommended another check should be made in five years’ time. …

Last year, they conducted an assessment to find out if Scotland’s canals were homophobic. Again unsurprisingly, the canals were found to be reasonably gay-friendly.

photos of tolerant stones.

12 Mar 2009

How is Q Different From LGBT Exactly?

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[T]here are more than five sexes and only demotic Greek seems to distinguish among them. The sexual provender that lies to hand is staggering in its variety and its profusion. You would never mistake it for a happy place.
–Lawrence Durrell on Alexandria in Justine (1957).

Heather McDonald
comments on the antics of Yale’s Administration in catering to the demands of its Gay (in all its permutations) constituency and on the ironies of the contemporary approaches to paideia.

In 2007, at the behest of feminist students, Yale added yet another layer of costly bureaucracy-the Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education Center-to its already generous sexual assault infrastructure. I asked physics professor Peter Parker, convenor of the college’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Board and a sponsor of the new S.H.A.R.E. Center, how many sexual assaults on students there were at Yale. He said that he had “no idea.” (In fact, the number of reported unconfirmed assaults can usually be counted on one hand.) So if students came to the administration demanding a malaria treatment center, would Yale build it without first determining the prevalence of malaria on campus? I asked him. “We didn’t make our judgment based on numbers, but based on concern by students in the community,” he answered.

Faced with such a pliant oppressor, students have to get quite creative in manufacturing new causes of grievance. At the opening ceremonies for the new Office of LGBTQ Resources, junior Rachel Schiff, a coordinator for the LGBT Co-op, complained: “The fact that we don’t actually have a physical space says lots about Yale’s stance towards LGBT life on the ground at a metaphorical level.”…

Today’s solipsistic university… allows students to answer the “Who am I?” question exclusively, rather than inclusively. Identity politics defines the self by its difference from as many other people as possible, so as to increase the underdog status of one’s chosen identity group.

Actually, as far back as the early 1980s, I was startled to learn from undergraduates that the Yale Political Union was not allowed to solicit members by advertising in the prematriculation Freshman mailing packet, but Yale’s LGBT organization was.

Clearly, where I went wrong was in failing to demand a special house provided at university expense, and a special curriculum focused on Redneck Polack Deer Hunter (RPDH) studies.

Hat tip to Scott Drum.


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