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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Sex Sting Ends in Suicide and Lawsuits

by @ 8:58 pm. Filed under Gay News, Restorative Justice

In a recent post, I explained how a group of 24 men in Huntsville, Alabama were arrested for alleged sexual misconduct in a sex sting.   The mens’ pictures and names were then released to the public via press release by the police.   Sadly,  I had hoped we would not see a repeat of similar events that happened in Rhode Island, where such attempts to embarrass those arrested as a method of sending a message to the public led to the suicide of one of the men.

Now we are seeing similar endings from another of these public humiliation cases.   This time in Tennessee where 40 men were arrested in a sex sting.  Again, in some type of action to deter this behavior in others, the mens’ photos and names were released to the public.   This public action has led to the death of one of the wives of the men and another has committed suicide.   One of the men is now suing the police.  Pam Has the story here.

I have to wonder if whatever the police feel they have gained in this was worth all the destroyed lives.  I also have to wonder whatever happen to “innocent until proven guilty.”   These men should have had a fair trial before being punished by law enforcement officials.

I don’t condone public sex.  I think it is sad that these men chose to live in the shadows.  I believe they have been driven to this hiding and sneaking around by the same people who complain they do it (Conservative Christian groups like AFTAH).   It is a crazy cycle.   I favor restorative justice over punitive tactics 100% of the time.  Far less lives are ruined when we choose better tactics to deal with those in our community that act in ways that break the law.

Previous post:
Alabama Sex Sting Arrests: Hoping History Doesn’t Repeat Itself

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It Is Not The Message, But the Delivery That Counts

by @ 9:05 pm. Filed under Nonviolence

Republicans to McCain don’t Hispander.

by @ 1:54 pm. Filed under Gay News, Uncategorized

What I really hate is people who say one thing to your face and then another when your back is turned. That seems to be a pattern with republicans and conservatives. A few months ago RR darling Star Parker wrote a glowing article on how the GOP will be good for Hispanics.

In it she states:

As a population that is young and rapidly growing, with a growing stake in the future of this country, Hispanics should be thinking hard about what kind of future that will be.

Long-term economic growth is vital. Study after study demonstrate, both in the U.S. and all over the world, that low taxes foster and high taxes inhibit growth. Our Hispanic citizens should be reminded, or educated, that keeping taxes low, and therefore limiting growth of government, is essential to their economic future.

Hispanics should understand that today’s entitlements crisis will fall disproportionately on them. Combined spending today on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is about 8 percent of our GDP. By 2050, when almost one in three Americans will be of Hispanic origin, this entitlement burden will more than double to around 18 percent of GDP. Our payroll tax burden will also have to double to meet these obligations.

It seems that she thinks that the GOP will be the panacea to Hispanic woes. Contrast that with a article from AFA’s One News Now that accuses McCain of Hispandering.

But Jim Boulet, executive director of English First, says this is the same issue the American public has consistently rejected — and one which McCain has not pushed while campaigning to other groups.

“It led McCain to appear to be two-faced,” Boulet comments. “And goodness knows if you’re going to run as a reform candidate, you need to at least let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.”

Notice the strong difference between the two. One appears to be appealing to Hispanics while the other condemns them. Now you can argue that Boulet is talking about Illegals. But it wasn’t too long ago that my Irish ancestors were treated just as poorly by people like him who had signs outside their store that read, “Help Wanted Irish need not apply.” That is why I am a staunch supporter of Immigration reform.  However I would change one thing and that is to make the permanent visas $30,000 instead of $15,000 and eliminate the immigration cap.

Getting back to my point, this kind of backstabbing is something with which we GLBT’s are all too familiar.  Remember when Alan Chambers Promised that exodus was getting out of politics? I for one, knew it wouldn’t be long till that proved to be a lie.  One ‘exgay’ named Stephen Black was quoted saying:

Stephen Black, executive director of First Stone Ministries in Oklahoma City, said he once was gay. His organization, he said, helps men and women overcome homosexuality.

“There is a political agenda and a cultural message about homosexuality (and) that it is destructive to our country,” he said.

When you say something, you should mean it. When you constantly break your word it makes you an untrustworthy person.  Republicans and Conservatives want Americans to believe they aren’t bigots.

Has Ann Coulter apologized to blacks for calling them infantile. Will Republicans and Conservatives apologize for continuing to assert the lie that Barrack Obama is a secret muslim? Will Sally Kern apologize for asserting gays are worse than Al Queda? Me I won’t hold my breath. These people aren’t known for admitting wrongdoing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When Atheists Attack: Sam Harris on Sarah Palin

by @ 9:09 pm. Filed under Atheism, Joe's Rants

This article is just amazing and it scares me.   Sam Harris points out problems with the soccer-mom for president thinking that I had not even thought to consider.  I urge you to read this article.

Quote from Sam Harris on Sarah palin:

We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter’s microphone, saying things like, “I’m voting for Sarah because she’s a mom. She knows what it’s like to be a mom.” Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Evil of Self-Check Out Lanes

by @ 9:11 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolence

I have pointed out of few times on this blog that I am against self-check out lanes at retail and grocery stores.   My first complaint is that I think they take jobs away from young kids who need to get work experience.   For decades teenagers have held the respectful job of retail cashier.  If the store has 6 self-checkout lanes, that is 5 teenagers who won’t be working there because they were replaced by a machine (one usually works the self check out lanes.) My second reason for boycotting the self-checkout lane is because I believe it damages our sense of community.   I do not believe it is a good thing that we can sneak into the store with talking to a soul, shop and then sneak out to our car.  Such behaviors:

I know some of you are reading this and saying Joe’s been smoking that funny, hippie stuff again but I wanted to offer this short story from my week to show how important small talk and chit chat can be in our communities.  I was at the local grocery store and waiting in line at the deli.   It seemed to be taking some extra time to get to the “next” number and I saw that the women next to me was getting irritated.  I offered her a bit of empathy by saying, “it is slow in here today,” she smiled and we started to chit chat mostly about the deli being busy and why we thought is was so busy for a Friday afternoon when it should be dead.   We eventually got our necessities and went on our separate shopping ways.

I then did my usual round of every isle to see what was on sale.   I tend to save money by only buying things when they are on sale (and stocking up).  I see no reason to pay full price for anything when I can by 2 or three extra when it is on sale.

As I made my way through the rows of confusing and sometimes misleading sale signs, I almost ran into another shopper’s cart.  She laughed and smiled and joked that we must be on the same wave length to be going exactly the same place at the same time.   I smiled back and enjoyed the momentary connection.

After finishing all my shopping, I noticed that almost every check out was packed, even the self-checkout lanes that I hate to use.   I finally found an isle where both the woman from the deli and the woman I almost bumped into were, by chance checking out.   We all began to chit chat the small talk people do in the line.   I learned that the woman I almost ran into was named, “Rebbecca” and that she lived just two blocks from me.   We exchanged thoughts an ideas about the neighborhood and she said she would look for me and Rick and the for the next time we walk the dogs in her neck of the woods.   I enjoyed and felt inspired by the connections, the sense of community and the possible neighborly relationships that could be built from a short trip.

The real message here is that I believe we are growing out of touch with our neighbors.  I believe there are many reasons for this, but one of them is those evil, pesky self-check out lanes.   So next time you are at the stores, even if it means you will spend an extra 10 minutes, I beg of you to use to regular check out and meet your neighbors.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Now is the TIME for Science and Reason!

by @ 2:10 pm. Filed under Atheism, Evolution

Video link

H/T PZ

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

OBAMA Spells it out! “Enough” with the petty attacks!

by @ 6:23 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

The speech in the “Plan for Change” video:

“In the past few weeks, Wall Street’s been rocked as banks closed and markets tumbled. But for many of you – the people I’ve met in town halls, backyards and diners across America – our troubled economy isn’t news. 600,000 Americans have lost their jobs since January. Paychecks are flat and home values are falling. It’s hard to pay for gas and groceries and if you put it on a credit card they’ve probably raised your rates. You’re paying more than ever for health insurance that covers less and less. This isn’t just a string of bad luck. The truth is that while you’ve been living up to your responsibilities Washington has not. That’s why we need change. Real change. This is no ordinary time and it shouldn’t be an ordinary election. But much of this campaign has been consumed by petty attacks and distractions that have nothing to do with you or how we get America back on track. Here’s what I believe we need to do…Bitter bipartisan fights, outdated and outworn ideas of the left and the right, won’t solve the problems we face today. But a new spirit of unity and shared responsibility will.

The “Plan for Change” Video:

This sense of uniting the country is needing and why I am voting for Obama.   I like some of McCain’s ideas, but I am tired of a country divided.  I want to get past the labels of liberal left and conservative right and get on to united Americans.   I fear McCain and especially Palin with her religious extremism will only divide us further.  I ask you vote for Change, but I also ask you vote for Unity and McCain had his change to unite us and didn’t!

The Gay Marriage Thing, The Movie

by @ 8:30 am. Filed under Gay News, Nonviolence

The other day I got an email from the filmmaker of what looks like a really great project.  The movie is called “The Gay Marriage Thing” and it chronicles some of the events leading up to the marriage decision in Mass. but also the lives of two individuals and their families.  The filmmaker, Stephanie Higgins, tells me, “THE GAY MARRIAGE THING was made for LGBT people to bring home and watch with their families to aid the sometimes difficult dialog about gay marriage. With California set to make history, one way or another, this November, it’s important that we all continue this conversation with family, friends and co-workers.”

It is distributed by The Cinema Guild and is available for purchase and is available for download through TLA Video.  You can find more information about the film at www.thegaymarriagething.com

The website for the film describes it like this:

Lorre and Gayle were heartbroken when they learned their two great-aunts – sisters who’d lived together their entire 80+ years – were on the verge of losing their 1850’s home because it was too big a burden to care for anymore. “Having to leave your home just because you’re older?” Lorre asks. “After living there 60 years?” Gayle adds. “Unfair,” they agree. So they did something about it. Lorre and Gayle broke their apartment rental lease and moved in with a very grateful Gertrude and Germaine, to be financial, emotional and physical caregivers for their elderly aunts. “We were the Golden Girls for a while there, and we still call ourselves that, even though we lost Auntie Gert last year,” Lorre adds. “But Auntie Germaine is still feisty and we do for her because that’s what we’ve both been taught. You take care of family.”

With that, the first few moments of THE GAY MARRIAGE THING paint a picture of what it means to be a family. Gayle and Lorre, thirtysomething college sweethearts who marked their 15th anniversary a year after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, form the heart of this documentary scrapbook.

From the protests outside the Massachusetts State House, to the churches of the Reverends Rich Wiesenbach and Carlton Smith, to the historic chambers echoing State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein’s perspective, THE GAY MARRIAGE THING captures how all of these voices swirl in the air around Gayle and Lorre as they approach May 17, 2004, the first date same-sex couples could file for marriage licenses in Massachusetts. While eavesdropping on the emotional and spiritual toll this issue has taken upon all parties, the story carries forth to the everyday angst and anticipation of Lorre and Gayle’s own wedding.

THE GAY MARRIAGE THING is not some historical commentary on gay rights in the United States. It is instead a small cinematic story with big implications. By focusing on one suburban couple and the multitude of events that directly affect that couple’s otherwise average life, THE GAY MARRIAGE THING strives to show a different side of this issue than documentaries or television newscasts have thus far.

With protesters and their colorful signs serving as a Greek chorus, and an array of opinions from church, state, and everyone in between, this is the film that family members can finally watch together. THE GAY MARRIAGE THING is the documentary that opens the dialogue, fully expecting the audience to continue it.

I would suggest spreading the word about this film as it really puts a face and a family to the issues at hand.  People sometimes have a tendency to lose sight of the fact this debate affects not just public policy but living breathing people!  Here is the trailer for the film:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pink Floyd’s Rick Wright Dead at 65.

by @ 9:07 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

As many of my long time readers know, I am a musician and a songwriter.  You can find lots of my music and even a video I did for fun here on the site.  At heart I am a keyboard player who can make pretty sounds with a guitar, but at heart I am still the little boy who took piano lessons at 5 years old.  I had many heroes growing up including Elton John, Billy Joel, Rick Wakeman and of course, Rick Wright of Pink Floyd.

In my years growing up, I was a huge fan of Pink Floyd.  The lush sounds and melodic piano lines inspired me to practice.  I can remember begging my piano teacher to let me work on the “Great Gig in the Sky” and feeling so excited when she finally, reluctantly said yes.

Today, the man who inspired me by playing those beautiful lines, and introducing me to the beauty of Moog, has gone on to the great gig in the sky.  I pay tribute with a hole in my heart.   Rick, You will be missed but I thank you for the inspiration when I was a teenager!

Pink Floyd member Richard Wright dies at age 65

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Question of the Day: Why Create Life Enriching Connections With Others?

by @ 10:05 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolent Communication

I was asked in an earlier thread:

Why don’t you just tell your readers why making “enriching connections” with ourselves and others is so important if it has nothing to do with anything beyond our own personal needs?

I thought this question was a great topic.  Why are “life enriching connections” so important? I believe that the lack of such connections, the lack of us meeting our own needs and the needs of others is a great source of violence on our planet.

It is clear to me that much of the violence we see, especially from young ones getting into gangs is due to the need for connection and the need for love not being met.  Our youth are longing for connections, families that will be there for them and those needs are not being met, but our needs must be met for us to survive.

If our needs are not being met, we will either consciously try to meet them or unconsciously try to meet them with drugs, alcohol, food or sex.  Even the moral judgments of others are an expression of unmet needs in ourselves.  We say, “She is so lazy” when we have a need for activity.   “He is such a liar” when we have a need for honesty.  “You are a blabber mouth” when we have a need to be heard.

Our needs are extremely important to our emotional and even our physical survival.  If our need for shelter was not met, we would die of exposure to the elements.  If our need for food and nourishment was not met, them we wold die of starvation.  If our need for love was not met, we would die of loneliness.   Our needs matter and our feelings are the indicators of what needs are met and what needs are not.

French writer,  Thomas D’Ansembourg noted in his book, Being Genuine that much like the lights on the dash board of a car that tell you what the car “needs”, our feelings are indicators of what we need.   When the oil light pops on we have been made aware that the oil needs to be checked.   When the “check engine” light comes on, well it is time for us to check the engine.

Our feelings serve a similar purpose and work in much the same way.   When we feel hungry, it alerts us to our need to eat.  When we feel lonely, it alerts us to our need to make connections or seek out affection with loved ones.   When we feel scared, our body and mind are telling us to fill our need for safety.

I believe that we all pay when our needs and the needs of others are not met.   If a mother’s need for security is not met, her child will suffer because their need for connection with their mother is no longer met.  Because her children are suffering they are harder to teach, so their teacher suffers.  She goes home to her family feeling frustrated because her need to contribute and her need to share may not have been met.   Her children will now suffer because their mother is not fully present with them because she is suffering.   This chain goes on and on to the next person who cannot be fully present with others because of pain of unmet needs.

We are all interconnected regardless how hard we try to ignore that fact.  You can see from the chain of what unmet needs means to one and how it can affect others that making “life enriching connections” is very important to all of us because we are so interconnected.   As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated so eloquently, “whatever affects one of us, directly affects all of us” and that is the reason making such connections extends well beyond our personal needs.   It is a direct way of reducing violence on the planet.

Video: Marshall Rosenberrg: Hearing Others With Empathy!

by @ 8:13 pm. Filed under Nonviolent Communication

I thought, considering the conversation that is going in in this thread, that this video would be helpful in conveying some of the talking points brought up in the conversation.  Now as some hints, when Marshall refers to “jackals” he is refering to language that disconnects us.  When he refers to “giraffe” he is speaking in NVC.  I would be interested in what you readers have to say about this video.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Matt Damon on Sarah Palin (Knew he was more brains than looks)

by @ 8:32 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

I have always had a small crush on Matt Damon, but hey what homo doesn’t?   After watching this, he really touches on my feelings about Sarah Palin.   I agree with his words and I am feeling the same fear.   I wish more people would stand up and say, “enough cuteness with the hockey mom, this women is not White House Material”

 Hat tip: Evan at Break the Terror 

Get Magazine – September Issue

by @ 7:58 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants

Here is my article for the September Issue of Get Magazine.   Click the Magazine Image. 

In Remembrance of the Lives Lost and the Families Changed on 9-11

by @ 8:32 am. Filed under Uncategorized

Words cannot express the sorrow I feel as I type this note while listening to the names of those lost on this day playing on my television in the background.   To hear the pain in the voices of those who read the names, to see the tears in each of the families’ eyes and to know that many carry this sorrow in their hearts each day is a source of pain for our country.  May we never forget those lost, but more importantly, let us never let this happen again.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Just a Quick Thought on Communication

by @ 10:09 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolent Communication

When responding to posts, articles or emails written by those on the opposing side of your view, please take the time to respond not to what someone has said, but stop and think about why they may have said it.  From there, follow these simple rules:

1. When in doubt of what someone meant, please ask.

2. Remember the person who said what made you angry didn’t make you angry.  The words made you angry, not the person.

3. Behind every person that posts on the web is a set of human needs like safety, health, connection, or the simple need to be heard.  When you take the time to respond to the needs rather than the words, you can connect with the human behind the words.   Connection to humanity is life!

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