Friday, April 6, 2012

Not so Fond Memories of Scott ("Gays are Nazis") Lively

It’s entirely possible that the evangelical attack on queer people and especially male homosexuals exposes their greatest weakness: the obvious irrationality of their "presentist" position that scriptures as old as 8,000 BCE can provide any sane, rational application to life as lived by modern homo sapiens. I’ve always maintained, for example, that the proscriptions against homosexuality in Genesis and Leviticus are misunderstood; that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality but xenophobia, and that early Hebraic law was more concerned with pagan temple prostitution featuring transvestite males than with any guys who like guys or women who like women, both for the simple reason that such pursuits were non-procreative. Isn't it a wee bit possible that the tribal chiefs who “heard God” only made homosexuality an "abomination" to increase the groups' numbers? One needed increasingly large pools from which to induct spear-fodder for the next fight with the Midianites. After all, God was forever war-mongering His way through all the books of the Old Testament.

The reverse of Biblical presentism is historicity, or at least historical relevancy, including science as it bears on antiquity, whose examples would incude the certain geological datum that Sodom (and its sister City on the Plain) sat on mephitic faults and were, thus, explosions waiting to happen (waiting perhaps since the Precambrian Age to cut their farts). Given the lack of scientific knowledge available to people 8,000 or so years before the myth we call the "birth of Christ," and the inherent irrationality and fear of such ignorant peoples, it was easier to manipulate the masses, as Seneca would observe, using religion. An eclipse was not the shadow of the moon but a singular event warning of the coming of the Lord or some other post hoc event. My hunch is that the O.T. was written by men who wished to rule as well as evolving Man might. They (or those who followed in their footsteps) claimed divine authorship to bolster their power and stamp themselves (as do the Popes) as divinely chosen. The Bible was written by men about men. But back to evangelicals who hate.

A year or two ago I got into an email spat with an evangelical (actually Pentacostal) who is for me, second only to the more "charismatic" Tony Perkins, the very epitome of all that is wrong about the mindset of such people. My debate opponent was Scott Lively. This individual, an ordained cleric and a lawyer to boot, co-wrote a book whose main title suggests an expose of the notorious pogroms against "sexual deviates" in both the Nazi Party and the general population in Germany: The Pink Triangle. Sent to death camps, instead of the star of David, these men and women wore a pink triangle arm band. The myth that Lively promulgates -- that the Holocaust was invented by gay men -- is not without historicity since Hitler was a bachelor who answered questions about his romantic life responded that has married to Germany.

This hardly stopped the rumors that spread about the possibility he might not be heterosexual, rumors arising from Hitler's guilt by association, a friendship with Ernst Rohm of the S.A.; Rohm, who was vocally openly gay and proud of it. Hitler is generally blamed for killing Rohm, but historians are divided as whether it was only to consolidate the power of the S.S. or to terminate a source of gossip. Lively and his co-author fabricate fully a myth that Rohm and the Night of the Long Knives were a publicity stunt whose only victims were "the effeminate" homosexuals. The masculine gays went on to cause the gassing, shooting, burning, and poisoning of the Six Million. This is as close as someone can come to making the sort of "Blood Libel" found in such treacherous works of fiction as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, including the spurious claim Jews used baby fat from Christian children in their secret rituals.

To Scott Lively, I pointed out the patent absurdity of his position and found that it was easy to get his goat, that for a professed Christian person, he was burning a short fuse and really felt put upon when dogma was challenged with reason. I said he had cherry-picked historical biographies and speculative histories of the Nazis to conclude that the National Socialist Party was homosexual in origin; the Reich, a government populated by masculine homosexuals who murdered the "weak effeminate ones" to prevail. Lively also claims that gay men were selected because it was "well known" that gay men are "inherently savage" (as the Southern Poverty Law Center put it in an article published in their Intelligence Report (Spring, 2012).

Lively also claims that the so-called "homosexual agenda" includes establishment of a "new" Nazi regime in the U.S.A. Let's see, is there any fear card Lively hasn't played? Lively was a keynote speaker at an annual convention of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), another S.P.L.C. hate group. So it's clear he thinks queer people choose to be the way they are; after all, God wouldn't put so many on earth, would he?  I got thinking about Lively's religious background.  He claims, like George W. Bush, that he was saved from alcoholism by "the Lord."  He had a troubled childhood.  And what about the Pentacostals? 

One suspects Freud would have a field day with this creepy believer sect. For one thing, they believe in speaking in tongues.  They use passages in the New Testament ("the good news") to instruct them on glossolalia, which always sounded to me like a background chorus at the Grand Ol' Opry.  1 Corinthians 14 is their grimoire.  They say the Lord speaks through them and that's why they say things so funny.  They have their limits, however: it's said that only two or three glossolalic yodels are permitted per church service.  And the tongue-wagging is not top replace the preaching of the Word of the Lord.  The glossolalic utterances are said to be "prophetic," but because no one can translate the Lord's messages fall on deaf ears, and --

Wait a minute!  Are you supposed to believe anything said by a person who attends such camp meetings?  Hogwash and balderdash!  Scott Lively is a raving madman.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Whatever Possessed Pat Robertson To Say Gays Are "Possessed"?*

From Crooks and Liars, I learned: "Today the 700 Club featured a segment on a man who tried to 'change' his sexuality by marrying a woman, but later ended up having extramarital affairs with men. The couple reconciled after his 'repentance' and deliverance from the homosexual lifestyle, and decided to stay together. "That type of conduct is wrong and it is time that in society we say certain things are wrong," [Rev. Pat] Robertson said. "He's obsessed, he has a compulsion," he added. "I think it is somehow related to demonic possession."

Martin Luther said that he chased away the Devil by farting in his face. If you want to read something completely loony, try The Malleus Maleficarum (Latin for "Hammer of the Witches", or "Der Hexenhammer" in German). What a gas! These people actually believed that nocturnal emissions were the result of visitations by a succubus. Yes, and when I was in my first year in college an animal husbandry major pointed to my pimples, laughed uproarously, and said to anyone stupid enough to listen: "He's been beating his meat again!" Ignorance and stupidity, Schiller said, are invincible even to angels. I put it slightly differently. I say there is no point arguing with dogma.

But to believe in demonic possession in the 21st century is slightly anachronistic to say the least. Ironically, Robertson's supernatural explanation of homosexuality is even at odds with the "reparative therapy" crowd: mostly evangelical in mind-set, these folks refuse to believe that nature, not nurture, determines a person's sexual orientation, and why not? If it were otherwise, the so-called therapists (including Michelle Bachmann's husband Marcus) could not claim a person even needs the therapy. While almost all credentialed (and credible) scientists, from biologists to psychiatrists, accept sexual orientation as innate. Only mis- or uninformed people, or those who are willfully ignorant of the facts, can claim otherwise.

The bigots of all religious stripes also realize that either science or the Bible/Torah/Koran must be wrong. Both Genesis and Leviticus (not to mention the letters of Paul) should guide us in such matters or else we follow the scientific and psychiatric communities and see the Testaments as ancient ignorance and superstition, not as the presentists would have us believe: applicable to how we live today. And when you stop to think about it, the nurture argument goes to the heart of whether we even need religion anymore. Now that science has explained so much, why be fettered by a bunch of silly laws made all the more ridiculous by what we have learned of their times and what we have learned about DNA, neurobiology, and a good many other things.

Evangelical "theapists" believe that since God is omnipotent and good, he would not put queer folks on earth. But if God is omnipotent, why did He not simply prevent births of any potentially-queer people. And if he is omnipotent, and through their free will some disobeyed Him and sinned by becoming queer, why could God not have proved truly omnipotent and prevented people from making the wrong choice?

*Thanks to J. L. Mackie, one of my own pantheon of gods.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Santorum and Seneca: Quasi Open Letter to Tony (the PAC man not the actor) Perkins

Seneca the Younger (ca. 4 BCE - 65 CE) is famous for his observation: "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful." Substitute for the word, "rulers," "political candidates" and you come up with Rick Santorum. In an ABC interview, Santorum recently said that he'd come upon a 1960 speech by John F. Kennedy saying that his position on separation of church and state was "absolute." Santorum said that when he read this, "I almost threw up." Trying and failing to explain himself, the candidate later expressed indignation thusly: "The idea that the church can have no involvement in the operation of the state is antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country." Has this guy gone completely bonkers? Who but a crazy evangelical is going to vote for this theocratic nitcompoop?

Translation of Santorum's remarks: The U.S.A. is exceptional not for having been founded on the principles of the Enlightenment, but on those of Christians; moreover, the nation was meant to be governed according to Christian principles. Santorum's less-than-absolute interpretation is antithetical to the founding fathers' intentions: they wrote the Constitution at a time when religious wars and pogroms were in more recent memory. Many were deists, believing in a demiurge who left us to our own devices. The Huckabee-Barton Cabal wants us to believe otherwise. Read the anticlerical remarks of Jefferson and Madison and make up your own mind.

Recently, a story by Joseph L. Conn in the Americans United publication, Church & State, said that "Religious Right forces were quick to come to Santorum's defense." These included the usual suspects. Tony (the PAC man, not the actor) Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, claimed that "what concerns Santorum -- and other religious conservatives -- is Kennedy's insistence that leaders shouldn't base their decisions on faith but on personal conviction. That goes beyond the institutional separation of church and state to something far more menacing: a separation of truth and mortality from the public square. What Kennedy described -- and President Obama now embaraces -- is a society where people don't acknowledge God or His role in informing their consciences."

Oh, boy! If fallacies were farthings, Mr. Perkins would have a sovereign's worth. Can you believe the above-quoted gobbledegook? Take the claim Kennedy based his decisions on personal conviction rather than faith. Duh! Go right ahead, Mr. Perkins, placing your faith on the myth you call God; Mr. Kennedy was a rational, reasonable man, well acquainted with scientific discoveries and their ramifications for how we live and how our lives can be improved. Put a theocratic person like Santorum in the White House and we get more of what George W. Bush gave us almost immediately: curtailing of stem cell research that showed great promise in curing or at least minimizing many life-threatening diseases and conditions.

Then there is this gem: The absolute-plus wall of Obama threatens "a separation of truth and mortality from the public square." Truth? There is no more truth in Mr. Perkins' Bible than in the Koran, the Torah, or almost any holy book or scripture. How can you believe in a book that has talking snakes? If you think snakes can talk, you were home schooled in biology. Your home school biology teacher taught you that fossils are God's trick on the Darwinists. They taught you that the entire cosmos was created by God in six days about 5,000 years ago and that all the animals that ever lived were there with Adam, Eve, and Noah. The flu virus got into the Ark but God spared Noah from something unknown and invisible to the desert warlord tribes. Nomads will believe anything their tribal chief tell them; the genius of Mosheh was that he got his people to fall for that two tablets stuff. He'd been telling them for years not to eat pork. He was going blind and couldn't see the tricky worms.

Santorum supports priestly pedophilia and father-daughter incest, or is he just a cafeteria Christian? The only rants in the N.T. against homosexuality come from the lunatic Saul-Paul of Tarsus, a murderous homophobe with a view of women not a bit more elevated than that of Rush Limbaugh. For the real thing, you gotta check out Leviticus. Shame on Mr. Perkins for not letting his beard grow, for going to church on Sunday instead of synagogue on Saturday, for not checking his daughters' hymens to see if they are not virgins and should therefore be stoned to death, and for a slew of other sins against that old worn-out angry capricious homocidal maniac God of the O.T. Mr. Perkins is perhaps best known as a hate monger for heterosexual-only rights. Yes, he has made the Hate Watch at the site of the Southern Poverty Law Center. You're on the Hate Map, Tony boy! Although he claimed his silly evangelical PAC ran out of money fighting gay marriage in California, he keeps popping up to project his fear of being gay on others in attempts to make them suffer so that he can, vicariously, suffer himself. Tony mostly suffers from a messianic complex. What he really wants is to be nailed to a cross. Someone should oblige. Before he causes another teenager to commit suicide.

By their repeated attempts to install creationism (by one name or another) as an alternative to Darwinism in science classes, Perkins' people have shown a singular contempt for "truth." To put it country simple, neither Santorum nor Perkins would know the truth if it bit them on the probosci. It was at least fun to hear that cross-bearing blonde bimbo Laura Ingraham blabbing about how she didn't want "to hear a presidential candidate throw up in any context." Where was she when a jet-lag disoriented George H. W. Bush threw up on a Chinese banquet table? Santorum might be scarey if he weren't so frightening. That he even draws votes says something tragic about this country.