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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Americans For Truth is a HATE Group.

by @ 10:05 am. Filed under Americans For Truth, hate speech

After I stopped laughing at the term “organized homosexuality,” I realized that what Peter LaBarbera is saying is scary. I was trying to see his point of view and on some levels I guess I can empathize with him. I can see he is saying that as a believer in god, he feels outraged the government is kicking the Boy Scouts out of their digs because they don’t support people who in his eyes shouldn’t be supported. In the eyes of Mr. LaBarbera, he is feeling shocked because he can’t believe the government is supporting what he believes in bad for America. I fully support Peter’s right to speak his beliefs, but I believe he should do it respectfully if he wants to be taken seriously.

Peter writes:

Surely the homosexual (and atheist) lobby’s vindictive, selfish and shameless campaign against the Boy Scouts of America is one of the cruelest ever orchestrated by the Left. They could care less about this wonderful organization for boys, which they are helping to destroy and bankrupt through endless legal harassment.

Do you still have a problem saying that organized homosexuality is a force for evil in our society?

The problem is “HOW” Peter expresses his issues and concerns that makes it hate speech. Could Mr. LaBarbera not express his concerns without calling gays and lesbians “evil”, “Selfish” or “Cruel?” Using such language to discuss your opponet is only a demonstration of the pot calling the kettle black. Could he not express his opposition and respect his opposition’s point of view? Could he not express himself without using name calling, judgmental language and insults? That is the difference between an opposing view and hate speech. Most of what comes out of Peter LaBarbera’s organization is hate speech because it fails to present opposition in a humane and dignified method. If LaBarbera cannot manage to express his opposition to the inclusion of gays and lesbians into nondiscrimination policies in a way that is respectful to gays and lesbians than he is just another hate group.

Mr. LaBarbera fails to see that allowing the Boy Scouts to use a public building to house their organization for only $1 a year in rent means that gay and lesbian tax money is being used against them. It means that gays and lesbians are paying (by way of their tax dollars) to house an organization who picks and chooses who can or cannot be in the group. If the boy scouts get discounted housing, why shouldn’t a pro-gay rights group get it or an atheist group? Mr. LaBarbera fails to see that our freedoms are limited when we allow the government to support one faith based group or politically one sided organizations with tax dollars and not another. For the government to support the boys scouts is no different than the government supporting the Church of Scientology. Would Peter be okay with that one?

If he really expects GLBT tax money to go to organizations that consider us second class citizens then the selfish one isn’t us, but him.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

by @ 9:04 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

I have made it home safely after taking a trip to PA and having a run in with a highway crossing deer who thought it would commit suicide by running in front of my truck! The deer was right and I have a no headlight on the driver’s side and I am sure that big dent in my hood isn’t helping the aerodynamics of my truck either. The deer took off, so I don’t know if it had insurance. I also suspect the deer had been drinking as it was a big holiday weekend for drinking. I am hoping that it will seek help and counseling for these issues should it make it after the hit.

On a more serious note, this experience has been just another notch in my belt of reasons to revisit my life and what is important to me.   I have blogged about this new thinking here and here and here. This whole experience could have been worse.  I have heard horror stories of people that hit deer and had them come through the windshield.  I am extremely grateful both Rick and I are safe.  Today is my partner’s birthday, so I won’t be spending much time here blogging because I realize that blogging isn’t as important to me as my partner or my life. I could spend 24-7 here trying to change the world, but I am learning that the way to change the world starts closer to home. Peace starts at home.

The best way we could honor our troops is to start doing things that promote peace in our lives. Learn to listen rather than talk. Think twice about buying products that are made in countries that don’t treat workers well. Meet your neighbors and talk with them about your community. Give some canned goods to your local food bank (it could end up on the tables of the families of our troops.) When you can, if you can, please give some time at the “time bank” nearest you. You could even get the time back from someone when you need it. I really love the sense of community time banks offer.

If the troops out there know we are doing our part here to promote peace, I bet they will feel a lot better about the tough choices they have to make and the actions they will have to take. I have gone to a number of workshops on mental health and returning veterans and their families. The effects of this war have been more devastating to the mental health of our troops and their families then we have seen yet.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gambian President Threatens to Kill All Gays and Lesbians

by @ 10:38 am. Filed under Gay News

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has given gays and lesbians 24-hours to vacate the country or be killed.  He claims it is a moral and holy country and gays have no place there.       Aside from being completely shocked by this, I guess we should be touched he gave warning?

Now, I can’t help but wonder if the Stacy Harp, Peter LaBarbera and other anti-gay activists will be denouncing this violence?  I won’t be holding my breath.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

California Marriage Ruling In Favor of Gay Marriage

by @ 12:50 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

The Universe Leans to the Side Of Justice

Restorative Justice and Forgiveness In Rwanda

by @ 10:44 am. Filed under Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication, Restorative Justice

This story from Rwanda is pretty inspiring.   A women has befriended and forgiven the man who killed her family.   She says:

Mukantabana admits it was difficult to forgive. She said she did not speak to Bizimana or his wife for four years after the killings. What put her on the road to healing, she said, was the gacaca process.

“It has not just helped me, it has helped all Rwandans because someone comes and accepts what he did and he asks for forgiveness from the whole community, from all Rwandans,” she said

Story Highlights

  • Basket weaver’s husband, five children were hacked and clubbed to death
  • One of killers was neighbor, caught up in hatred of Rwanda’s genocide
  • But now, victim and perpetrator share lunch, forgiveness and a future
  • President Paul Kagame say Rwanda is healing, moving beyond 1994 genocide
  • I wish I had more stories like this.  I wish the news would cover more stories like this.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Just to Take A Moment….to think about “stuff”

    by @ 9:45 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

    I can’t help but stop again to think after learning the numbers of people killed, injured, left without homes or even family pictures. To wake up one day and have it all gone and what is left is in pieces. For some reason, these events have struck a nerve for me. I was driving in my car today and thinking about this gift basket I won at a conference I attended. I have no idea what is in the basket, but I have already decided I will be giving most of it away. I know I will get more joy out of giving the stuff away then I will keeping the stuff. I am sure it will make my friends and co-workers happier than me. (It is rumored to have Red Sox “trinkets” in it)

    I remember being at the conference and they were handing out everything including pens, clocks, canvas bags and foam things to squeeze when you are stressed. Tons of “stuff” that I just don’t need. I made up my mind and told my co-worker, don’t let me take stupid stuff I don’t need just because it is neat. I asked her to remind me why I don’t want this stuff. She did remind me, being the good friend she is. She also reminded me why I don’t want this stuff. It is bad for me, the environment and and others. Didn’t work because I got trapped in how cool it was. I still ended up with a travel clock, a calculator, and a nice pen that doubles as a laser pointer. I have since given many of those things away and slapped myself on the wrist for taking them when I said I wouldn’t. I am hoping to resist better next time.

    It seems that we Americans are addicted to “stuff.” We do everything we can to have the best stuff and we are constantly working toward getting better stuff. Regardless what we have, there is something better we wish we had. There is always a bigger flatscreen or more “bling” to get. I myself fall into this once in awhile, but for the most part in the past year or so, I am getting it: It is just stuff.

    A big tornado can come and take it all away. The earthquake can rock Rhode Island and break my stuff into pieces. It is times of trouble that we realize, it is all just stuff. What counts for me are the people I love. (Starting with my partner, Rick)

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Scare Tactics and Misrepresented Facts

    by @ 3:58 pm. Filed under Americans For Truth

    Peter LaBarbera’s ability to over-simplify issues into scary “what if’s” is amazing, but also dehumanizing.   I have a friend who was born with both male and female sex organs.   While his appearance is mostly female, including being large chested, he also has working male sexual organs.  A recent law created to protect people like my friend is being scrutinized and misrepresented by people on the far right, like Peter LaBarbera.  Rather than using accepted scientific terms like “intersex” and “Gender Identity Disorder” so that people can discuss issues rationally and with all the facts, people like Peter use scary terms like “gender-confused” which if you ever met someone who has a gender identity disorder they are anything but confused.

    Rational discussion of facts will bring us to a place where everyone is protected.   Oversimplifying things only puts people in danger, confuses the facts and distorts outcomes. Most importantly it causes fear and fear leads to violence.    Of course, as I said yesterday, I am convinced these right wing folks like Peter LaBarbera and friends are not at all interested in rational discussion or facts. 

    Those who live with a Gender Identity Disorder generally have this issues long before sexual maturity.   Signs and symptoms occur at very young ages (2-4 years.)   To equate this disorder with “cross-dressing” and “gender-confusion” is a complete misrepresentation of facts.  

    I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a parent of a young child with GID and read the garbage that Peter promotes and the harm he is willing to cause to promote his agenda.  He has misrepresented the facts and there is nothing good that can come from misinformation.    I wish people like Peter were less interested in “Winning” the culture war and more interested in the lives they affect.   The fact he does this in his “god’s” name makes it even harder for me to understand it.

    Disease, Famine, War, Tornados, Wildfires, Earthquakes, and suffering

    by @ 1:58 pm. Filed under Atheism, Joe's Rants

    I wish I had not read the papers today.  I woke up in a pretty good mood and I am currently taking some time today just to appreciate my safe surroundings, the safety of those I love and the next breaths I take.   It is all you can do when you add up the death, destruction and suffering that has occurred in the lasy 5 to 7 days.   Close to 100,000 human beings have lost their lives in disasters, bombings, and weather extremes in the last week and an esitmated, mind boggling number of people are currently facing hunger, disease and homelessness.   poverty1.jpg

    In Myanmar, an estimated 1.5 million people are facing grims futures.  In China, over 18,000 people may be buried alive in rubble from an earthquake.  In India, 45 people have been killed in bombings.  In Florida, USA wildfires are leaving humdreds of families homeless.

    This sounds like one of those days where it is worth stopping what you are doing for just five minutes and recognizing the beauty of the fact you are alive and safe.   For so many, that is not the case.   In the wake of such destruction, loss and pain, I feel grateful to be healthy, safe and alive.

    Whenever someone says to me that I should believe in god, these are the reasons I cannot believe.   This is the evidence that god does not exist or at least confirmation that the current evidence is pretty weak.

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Its a dog eat dog world….Post 1000

    by @ 7:26 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

    I thought for no reason other than I felt like it….here is some pictures of one of my dogs. I had great photos of both my dogs but they were lost in the great hard drive crash of 2007. I need to take some new ones, but here are some photos of Nikita.  This is post 1000.

    nikita.jpg

    nikita2.jpg

    nikita3.jpg

    nikita4.jpg

    It’s All True, All of IT!

    by @ 6:40 pm. Filed under Americans For Truth, Ex-gays, Exodus

    Crystal Dixon, the anti-gay side’s newest hero, is a human resource associate vice-president who made a handful of comments including:

    “As a Black woman … I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are civil rights victims. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. Daily thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle.”

    I am so exhausted as a 38 year old gay man of hearing this tired old, just stupid argument that gays chose to be gay. It is easy to believe gays choose to be gay if you completely ignore everything we have ever learned about sexuality. It is easy if you just ignore we are human. It is easy to over-simplify it to a simple choice we made if, you completely ignore the facts, but that must be the case. It is easy if you ignore the terrorized faces of every kid crying as he tells his family he is gay. If you completely ignore the facts about the pain, suffering and shame that must be overcome to come out, than you can call it a choice. The Crystal Dixon’s of the world must just ignore all the facts.

    I wonder if it is worth talking about facts anymore when people like Ms. Dixon, Ms. Harp, and Mr. LaBarbera don’t care about facts anyway. I don’t think it matters what the facts are they would dispute them anyway. LaBarbera and harp seems to be interested in being famous and powerful. I believe they care more about winning the argument than owning their damages.

    I think we should just tell them what they wanna hear and be done with it. So hear it is. I chose to be gay. I woke up one day when I was about 5 or 6 years old and said, to hell with it all and me. I am gonna be gay. I am gonna be athletically useless just like the stereotype say I should be. I am gonna learn show tunes and learn tap. I am going to let the other kids beat the crap out of me and call me a faggot. Not sure why I made that choice, but yup, I did.

    Along with making the choice to be gay, I would also like to admit that being gay is all about sex. There really isn’t anything more to this. It is just sex. In fact, my entire life has been about sex. Sex…sex…sex. I would write more about this but I have said it all. It is about sex. (how long will it be before this is taken out of context)

    If this is what these anti-gay folks want to hear, we should just spoon feed it to them like grits on toast. Whatever it takes to show them how utterly dehumanizing and hurtful their claims are or force them to show their hands. What the fuck is your end game people? What does the world look like if you got what it is your are working toward? Are the gay people in camps waiting for the gas chambers? WHAT IS YOUR DEAL?

    Paint me a picture. I would just like to know what the world looks like if these right wing, fundamentalist Christians actually got what they were working toward.

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Blow Your Own Horn

    by @ 10:25 pm. Filed under Americans For Truth

    I see the anti-gay machine known as Peter LaBarbera has finally figured out that America is not having his one sided, negative only view of homosexuality, so he is moving on to Brazilian audiences who I can only image are eating it up. Of course the flip side is that they too will soon see that the gay folks they know and love don’t match the picture Peter paints.

    Add to this Peter’s out right lies. He claims the pro-gay folks have more money than pro-family folks. That statement is just a lie.  Peter states in the interview:

    Americans For Truth (www.americansfortruth.org) is one of a tiny number of groups worldwide dedicated solely to fighting the homosexual and transsexual activist agendas. The homosexual activists spend far more promoting homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality than the entire, collective pro-family movement in the USA. It’s not even close. They have the money and the power; we have God’s truth.

    Problem is this is a proven lie. An outright, full fledged piece of untruth. Focus on the Family and the American Family Association have budgets that far exceed any pro-gay rights organization.

    What strikes me, and leaves me feeling inquisitive is Peter’s posts promoting himself on various radio, print and tv. Every interview, mention in the papers and sound snippet available and Peter is there promoting Peter. He is his own best promo. That’s good since we all know I am not going to do it!

    Also see Box Turtle Bulletin

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Restorative vs. Punitive Justice

    by @ 7:15 pm. Filed under Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication, Restorative Justice

    I just finished a three-day training today in restorative justice. I am blown away by the vast amounts of things I learned in the three days. I can barely process all of it, my head is so full. I was learning more about victim/offender conferencing or mediation and more about the current criminal justice system than I ever have.

    One of the larger concepts I walked away with from the workshop is how completely unfriendly our current justice system is to victims of crime. Even the court process is about the state vs. offender. Victims are left only as witnesses. They rarely have a voice in the process. When they do, it can be limited to victim impact statements that in some states, get this, are limited to 250 words.  How do you explain the impact, damage, emotion and loss to crime in your life in 250 words or less? In some higher profile cases, the press is given better seating in the courtroom at the trial than the victims.   I had no idea how insensitive the criminal justice system was for the victims of crime and/or their families.

    The process is also traumatizing and ineffective when it comes to offenders. The idea that these are humans who made a bad choice vs. the idea these are bad people is often, if not always, lost on the system.   We treat them so badly that it is no wonder recidivism is so high. Rather than restoring or making any attempt at changing the circumstances, issues or problems that cause crime, we spend our time punishing the crime.   I am learning that doesn’t help the victim, doesn’t prevent crime, and doesn’t rehabilitate the offender.   It also costs us a fortune as tax payers.

    On the other side of this coin is the process of restorative justice which seeks to repair the harm of crime as opposed to just punish individuals for crime.   It seeks restoration of all involved rather than revenge, punishment, or the delivery of what someone deserves to get for their crimes. It doesn’t let people off the hook but instead forces them to take responsibility for their actions and deal with the impact of them.   The idea of having victims of crime meet with the offenders of crime makes so much sense. Victims are left with so many unanswered questions that answered, could lead to a more complete healing system. “Why me?” or “Was this random?” or “what were the last words of my loved one?”, “Did they ask for me?” are all questions that many times go unanswered for victims and their families. Restorative Justice seeks to change that.

    Restorative Justice is not a new concept. Native Americans, Tribal Communities in Africa and other places have used different types of restorative justice for centuries. Healing circles, mediation, and conferencing are all viable options of creating better outcomes for the victim, the offender and the community. The impact of crime often extends way past the immediate people. If a house in burglarized, it is not just the family that own that house that are the victims. The entire community gets put on fear alert. All become impacted by the crime. Restorative justice seeks to address the full impact of a crime.

    I felt so inspired to be part of the training and see the amazing things that are being done is this field. I hope by me writing about this that you my reader will take a look at the process and feel as inspired and energized as I feel.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Being Gay is all About the SEX?

    by @ 9:38 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

    There are two things I hear anti-gay folks say that contradict each other on every level. The first is that being gay is all about sex, the second is that they know or have gay friends. Those two things don’t add up when put together. In fact, they don’t add for anyone breathing. If you believe on any level that being gay is just about sex, then you don’t know really know or understand anyone who is gay. You may be surface level friends or something, but you don’t really know or understand gay people. If you did, then you would know this isn’t all about sex. You would also know how dehumanizing it feels to hear people say it is all about sex.

    I have known dozens of gay couples, and read about hundreds more who have been together 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. I can assure that doesn’t happen to couples who have based their relationship on sex. Sex is fun. Sex is rewarding for couples. It reassures feelings of intimacy. It can end arguments and create memories. Sex is the foundation of all relationships, but not the structure. Gay or straight, your attraction to your partner is key, but it is your love that keeps you together. It is your Darwinian instinct to have sex, with a person with whom you are attracted. On the other hand, it won’t last past breakfast if there isn’t something more.

    I can tell you that after eight years (at the end of this month) being with my partner, this isn’t about sex. It is about companionship and love. If it was just sex, I could have dumped him years ago. So the next time some anti-gay person says that being gay is all about sex, but then claims they have gay friends you should know they are either lying or they greatly over-estimate the level of friendship and most certainly the understanding they have with and of gay people.

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