Saturday, February 03, 2007

They're just wild about Harry!

The purpose of the news media is to sell advertising not to disseminate news. It is a business and there is nothing wrong with that. It is only when people foolishly assume that the media is always reporting the facts that confusion arises. Often the media reports a hysteria.

For instance I picked up a local paper and see a story today about a woman crusading against a tower for cell phone reception because he wants to “protect” her children from any dangers to their health. There is no danger to their health and the woman is a batty as get go. But its consider a story. No one is interviewed challenging the batty woman’s theory even though reams of scientific evidence exist that such things are not harmful.

And I have read a dozen or so stories in major media outlets that would imply millions of parents are up in arms because Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe is baring all in the stage production of Equus -- see photos here and here.

Now knowledge of Radcliffe’s performance has been widely known in the UK, where the play is being staged, for months. But with the release of the publicity shots for the production the American audience has discovered this fact. Now that the media had something to show people it became real -- Americans watch the news they don’t read it. And now there is an uproar -- supposedly.

Here is my take on it as a refugee from American insanity. First, I sincerely doubt that there is much of an uproar anywhere in the world except in the United States. Radcliffe’s role was widely publicized in the UK for months with hardly anyone taking note. So I suspect this is mostly an American problem.

Second, what evidence do we have that there is any major public movement in opposition to the play? All the media report that parents, an unspecified number, have posted complaints to Harry Potter fan web sites. Somebody needs to tell the media that doesn’t mean anything.

I can go to 10 web sites in 10 minutes and post the same complaint. If a few dozen other people do it suddenly that becomes an international firestorm. Even if the web sites saw a few hundred complaints what is the universe from which they are obtained. How many millions of people use the web and what percentage whined about the play?

Some lunatic fundamentalist group sends out a notice to their members urging them to write protests and post them to web sites. The obedient followers do as instructed. Then the media is alerted to this and reports it as if there is a groundswell of opposition to the play and to Radcliffe.

The complaint goes that Radcliffe played Harry Potter, stupid children think Harry Potter is real (most kids know better). Now Harry Potter, not Radcliffe, is standing naked on a stage in London. Horrors!

My first advice to said parents is this: don’t take your kids to London and fork out the money to buy them tickets. Problem solved. Yes, Radcliffe will be naked on stage and no one will be in that theatre who hasn’t paid for the opportunity to be there. Small Harry Potter fans won’t be dragged in off the streets, capes pluming behind them, and get their glasses fogged up by Harry’s wand. That just isn’t happening.

So the crux of it is that 99.999999999999% of the kids who a fans of the books and films will never see Radcliffe naked.

What is happening here is that people are upset knowing that Radcliffe will be naked not that they are worried about their kids seeing it. And if they weren’t making such a big deal out of it a hell of a lot of kids wouldn’t even know about it. They are publicizing the very thing they don’t want their kids knowing about thus making sure more kids find otu. They can only be upset about their kids knowing about the role since we have already determined their children aren’t going to be in the matinee boxes for the performances.

But there is a final question which I would ask my fellow Americans -- again very few other people in the world are upset about this except perhaps some Islamist nutters. So what? Really, what is the problem?

Let us assume the worst and the precious little darlings of these crazed parents somehow discover that Daniel Radcliffe has genitals. Exactly what is the harm?

Americans are sexophobic to the core -- that’s one reason porn sells so well in the US. America’s fundamentalist Christian culture is obsessed with sex. They simultaneously find it fascinating and repulsive. So you get the evangelists like Swaggart preaching against sexual sin while being obsessed with porn and hiring prostitutes at the same time. Ditto for the Haggard’s preaching against homosexuality while partaking at the same time.

There is no evidence that seeing naked people is harmful to children. And the issue in America is not harm but sin. It is a religious value that is being expressed not a scientific one. They assume knowledge about sex is evil because they assume that sex is evil.

Much of the opposition against gay people is rooted in an inability to see gays people in any light other than that of their sexual activity. What defines a person as gay is their sexuality and so the Americans can’t but help think about what gay people do in bed together. So gays, unlike straights, create sexual imagery in the minds of the typical American. And sex is bad! Okay! Sex is really bad! Okay!

If they could see gays without thinking of sex much of their distaste would disappear. But to the sexophobics just thinking about sex is bad. Nudity is apparently about sex even though most nudity is never sexual. Those obsessed with sex can’t see a naked body without lusting after it.

We have little evidence that there is any harm, other than raising questions, if children happen to see sexual acts. For thousands of years, before the age of prosperity brought about by modern capitalism, people live in tiny huts and cabins. Often they were one room houses. You lived, cooked, ate and slept in the one room -- together. Only the toilet was outside. Bathing was done with little or no privacy. And children grew up with their parents having sex only a few feet away without a wall in-between. Often childlren slept in the same bed as their parents.

And since most families grew their own food if the kids didn’t catch on to what was going on with daddy and mommy they certainly witnessed plenty of copulation in the front yard with the farm animals. Nudity and sexuality were not hidden from human children for most of recorded history and there is no indication that this harmed them. Privacy and shame about such things is a relatively recent construct in social history.

So what would I do if I were a parent? Well, if a kid of mine happened to mention something about Harry Potter being naked on a stage in London (highly unlikely I suspect) I would tell him or her the following. First, Harry Potter is a fictional character. There is no Harry Potter. In the movies the person who pretends to be Potter is Daniel Radcliffe and he makes a living pretending to be other people in movies and plays. He is doing a play in London where the person he is pretending to be has to be naked for a few minutes to tell the story. And that is it.

Doesn’t sound so dire or dramatic when you break it down does it? The whole thing is a tempest in a teacup promoted by people who probably ought not be having children to begin with. These are people who are acting out their own psychological problems in a public forum. One can only hope they get some counseling before they do any more harm to the kids.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Gay hurt by "pro-gay" laws.

How does one market a business for a niche market, say gay tourists, in the modern world? I don’t mean what techniques should one use. We know there is advertising, the internet, word of mouth, etc. But what if advertising a business aimed toward the gay community is actually illegal.

If the Religious Right proposed a ban on advertising any business seeking gay and lesbian customers that proposal would be shot down as bigoted and vicious. But such laws exist around the world and the proponents of them were the so-called Progressive Left.

Gay oriented guest houses and hotels in the United Kingdom are finding out that a law which bans discrimination against gays cuts both ways. A straight hotel can’t say “heterosexuals only” and a gay hotel can’t advertise itself as for homosexuals only.

John Bellamy runs Hamilton Hall which is a venue for gay or bisexual men. He says, “we would go out of business. This so-called anti-discrimination law is actually discriminatory as it discriminates against gays.” Maybe he was quoted badly. But I suspect I know what he means. But that is the problem with such laws. If you want to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation then it cuts both ways.

Mark Hurst runs the Guyz Hotel that is only for gay men. He says when they ran as a mixed venue gay men were uncomfortable. “Here in the hotel now we have guys who cuddle up while they’re watching a film but that never happened before. If this law is introduced it will deprive gays of a place where they can be themselves.” True. But again that is what anti-discrimination laws do!

The gay political group Stonewall, according to the Times, says “What gay people gain through having an equality law is much more than whether we can just run gay hotels.”

That is very questionable indeed as it assumes that gays don’t value freedom of association. Equality before the law must be protected but why must every business cater to every group equally? That very concept is daft. A lesbian bar should be free to hire only lesbian bar tenders and employees. Why should women in the club worry about straight male bartenders salivating over them? And the club should be able to exclude men as customers.

Most the evidence shows that the majority of businesses are open to everyone and there is no shortage of businesses willing to sell to gay people or hire them. There are a precious few that cater to gay people. So we close down gay-oriented business in order to punish a tiny number of business that exclude gays due to hatred. That isn’t done because it is good for the gay community. That is done because some people want to punish people who harbor bigoted viewpoints. That is vengeance not justice.

Around the world there are gay neighborhoods which which are hubs of businesses aimed specifically to the gay market. Communities are built around these neighborhoods. They are places where people feel safe, where they feel at home. In order to punish a small number of bigots laws have been created which threaten the very existence of these gay enclaves. The landlords can’t rent only to gay tenants. The gay businesses can’t advertise that they cater to gays as that is exclusionary to non-gays. And if they prefer to give employment only to other gays they are criminals under these laws.

The only equality under these laws, contrary to the dumb comments from Stonewall, is the equality of all groups losing the right of freedom of association. Equal slavery is equal but it is not good. The laws must recognize the rights of all people equally. But private associations, be they sexual, romantic or commercial, are private associations.

Just as romantic relationships must be consenting so ought commercial relationships. Remove consent and it’s rape. That all people are equally raped might appeal to those who put some Left-wing view of equality before that of liberty and individual rights. But it does not appeal to those who want a free society. The gay community has made incredible progress in the private sector -- far more progress than in obtaining equality before the law.

Anti discrimination laws were never a good idea. When bigotry is rampant such laws won’t be passed. When bigotry is pretty much gone they aren’t needed and only destroy niche markets like gay guest-houses. There is a brief period of time when one can push such laws into place where they may do more good than harm. But as attitudes change --- something that had to be happening in the absence of such laws otherwise the laws would never have been passed --- they become counter productive and hurt the very communities they were meant to help.

There is one other advantage of allowing people to be open about their bigotry. It means we know who they are and so does everyone else. Most people don’t like that kind of blatant bigotry. If a major company tried to exclude gays word would get out very quickly and they would suffer the consequences. We ought to be able to boycott bigots but is damn hard to boycott bigots when the law forces them to cloak their bigotry. Better they are open and visible so we know who to avoid. And if someone is really so bigoted that they would never hire you unless forced to do so by the force of law do you really want to work for them? If someone is so bigoted that they won’t accept you as a paying customer do you really want to give them your money? I think the answer to both is a very big NO!

So if we wouldn’t want to work for them. And if we would want to patronize their businesses then what purpose do these laws serve? I can think of only one. The real purpose is to inflict suffering on these idiots because we don’t like their opinions. It is a punishment for holding the wrong view points. I just happen to think that all people, even idiots, have the right to their views, the right to be left alone, the right to associate with whomever they wish and the right not to associate. And I for one have no intention of associating with such fools. Now get rid of the laws so it is easier to spot who they are.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

More moves for equality for gay couples.

Equality before the law for gay couples continues to make progress -- sometimes slow progress but progress none the less.

In New Hampshire Republican Bob Clegg, a former leader of the state senate, is introducing legislation to establish civil unions for gay couples and others who do not wish to marry. Clegg also opposes moves to change the state constitution to ban gay marriage saying “I don’t believe we need to amend the constitution.”

In Connecticut, where civil unions are now available to gay couples, members of the legislature say they will introduce legislation offering gays full marriage rights.

Hawaii also appears headed toward another discussion of gay marriage rights. A move ten years ago by the state to legalize gay marriage created the current uproar, inspired gay activists, and terrified religious fanatics. The new bill that Democrats say they will introduce would establish Civil Unions for gay couples granting the same legal recognition as heterosexual marriages.

In Washington state a bill to create domestic partnerships is headed for a vote in the state Senate. The measure passed out of committe on a 4 to 3 vote. A siminarl measure in the state house is expected to move out of committee in the next few days.

Meanwhile in Mexico two lesbians have become the first gay couple to enter a Civil Union under the new law in the state of Coahuila. Karla Lopex and Karina Almaquer, from Matamoros registered their civil unin in Saltillo. The couple say the Mexican media has been following them everywhere.

So far reports confirm that no earthquakes, tidal waves or bolts of lightening have devestated the region. Jehovah is apparently not as concerned about gay marriage as some have led us to believe. Jehovah could not be reached for comment.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Harry Potter naked.

Here is a sneak preview of what London theatre goers will be enjoying in just a few days. Daniel Radclifee, a.k.a Harry Potter will be taking to the stage totally naked for some extended full frontal scenes. Rumour has it that teenage girls are saving their pence to inundate the theatre. No doubt many a cell phone will be used to try to take photos. The most sought after seats will be those on the stage -- only a matter of inches from the action -- so to speak.

Radcliffe is playing the role of Alan Strang in the play Equus. It's a damn fine play I might say. And with the theatre releasing photos like this they won't have any trouble selling tickets. It is obvious our young Mr. Potter is all grown up and grown up rather nicely. That sure is one damn lucky horse. Daniel might well wish to have his invisibility cloak for this production but I dare say many a glance with focus more on his magic wand.

UPDATE: A group of morality mullahs in Australia are upset about the Radcliffe role. The political party, the Christian Democratic Party, which bills itself as "The Christian Party" "objects to the leading star of the Harry Potter movie series, Daniel Radcliffe, stripping naked in a new productionof Equus..." I suggest then that they not buy tickets. The Christianists said: "Young children see their 'heroies' as positive role models and are very much influenced by what their favorite singers and actors say and do. Radcliffe is now 17 years old and is old enough to appreciate the social responsibility he must shoulder towards his younger fans."

See, "social responsibility" means that others apparently have the right to control you. I don't mean stopping you from harming others but stopping you from doing things which harm no one simple because moral busybodies are offended. Social responsibility is a dangerous concept and one that wipes out individual rights and responsibility. Radcliffe is responsible for what he does to others. And as far as I can see running around naked on stage is far less damaging than sitting in parliament. To see other photos from this promotional photo shoot go here.

Please remember that if one those screaming girls who pursue Harry does post a sneeky peek at Daniel's willy on the internet that if you live in the United States you could go to prison for life for viewing or downloading that photo. In spite of the fact that he is obviously not a child under US law such a photo of Radcliffe would qualify as "child pornography". It is, however, legal to watch his prance around naked in person on the stage. No one said that US law was consistent or rational.

First registered gay marriage in Israel.

Israel has officially registered its first gay married couple. Three months ago the Israeli High Court ruled that gay couples legally married outside Israel can register with the Interior Ministry.

With some distinct theocratic tendencies Israel does not have civil marriages only religious ones even though many Jews are secular and not religious. But it does recognize the marriage of any citizen that takes place outside Israel. So many Israeli couples fly out of the country to legally marry. Canada is a popular destination because neither partner needs to be a citizen in order to marry.

Binyamin and Avi Rose married last June in Toronto. They are now the first married gay couple in Israel.

"Profamily" hypocrite wants gay business, divorces wife.

A former state senator from Tennessee, Jeff Miller, made a name for himself by legislative gay bashing. The Republican sponsored legislation mandating marriage inequality for the state which denied children in gay households the right to have married parents. This, of course, makes him “profamily” in Right wing jargon.

Now Miller is retired, sort of. Like most politicians he still wants to make money off of power politics. And the way to do that is turn into a lobbyist. Miller has sent out letters saying: “I have worked closely with and become dear friends with many holding officers and those who keep the wheels turning behind the scenes.” In other words he is saying that you hire him and pay him well and he get seek special privileges from government on your behalf.

Miller resigned office a year ago amidst an investigation into bribery which saw several arrests. He admitted receiving $1,000 from one lobbyist but claimed it was a campaign contribution.

Miller’s legislation to “protect marriage” was proposed by him while he was having an extramarital affair with a legislative employee. Three days after his “promarriage” proposal was approved for the state ballot his wife filed for divorce due to his “inappropriate marital conduct”.

In his letter Miller said that he intends to become a lobbyist when a mandatory one year waiting period ends. But he has offered to “consult” people who wish to seek favors from the legislature, something he can do without a waiting period.

Here’s the kicker! Miller solicited the Tennessee Equality Project, which supports equal marriage rights for gays, to hire him as a consultant and would-be lobbyist. Does the man have any principles which are not for sale?

During the divorce Miller pleaded for his right to privacy. “Divorce is a very difficult time for everyone. It is a very private matter which is played out in public proceedings.” Apparently while Miller’s marriage is a private matter the marriages of gay couples are a public matter open to the vote of everyone in the community. Perhaps Miller’s divorce should have had voter approval first!

Miller’s wife says the hypocritical Republican and the legislative researcher have “been seeing each other for a while. Now he admits things. But he said it’s only been since he moved out. But I know better. I’ve got things that tell me differently.” When another Republican tried to push through an amendment saying adultery was “contrary to public policy in Tennesse” Miller opposed that move. Gee, I wonder why? The former Mrs. Miller said: “I think he’s played around for a long time... It’s not any more wrong to be gay than to commit adultery.”

Gay video producer brutally murdered.

Bryan Kocis, aka Bryan Phillips, of Dallas, Pennsylvannia was found murdered. Kocis, 44, was the owner of Cobra Video, which produced gay erotic videos. According to reports Kocis was found in his home with his throat slit and with 28 stab wounds in the torso.

There was no sign of forced entry implying that Kocis knew his killer. Neighbors of the man say that in recent years he was very paranoid about who he allowed into his home and wouldn’t answer the door unless he knew in advance someone was coming. A neighbor said: “Whoever he let in that night, he had to have known.”

Kocis had a small bit of legal trouble a few years ago when police found a video tape of him having sex with a 15-year-old. But most charges were dropped in that case when the 15-year-old admitted that he misrepresented his age to Kocis.

Kocis was discovered after the killer set fire to the residence. When firefighters arrived they found the burned body. Police are going through computer records that were salvaged and phone records to find clues as to the possible identity of the killer.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Third rate mayor attacks gays as Satanic.

For a very short time Russia had moved into the category of being civilized and working on being free. No longer. Under the leadership of Putin the Russian people are being slowly dragged back to Stalinism. Well, maybe not so slowly

Yur Luzhkov is the mayor of Moscow and like most politicians not particularly intelligent. He hates homosexuals. In today’s Russia hating homosexuals and Jews is making a comeback. Luzhkov, like the socialist dictator of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, loves to make public speeches attacking gays. And he recently said that gays are “satanic”. His message of hate was broadcast on the city-controlled TV channel -- another good reason governments should never own television channels.

Luzhkov said that he will never allow a gay parade in Moscow. Last year he banned the parade to saying it would cause violence. When gays marched anyway skinheads and the city police attacked them. Apparently gays in Moscow are responsible for the violence the same ways Jews were responsible for the Holocaust.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which appeased the previous Communist masters and co-operated with them, is once again opposing human rights. A spokesman for this sect called gay rights “the malignancy of perversions”. As if co-operating with mass murdering Communist dictators for decades was neither malignant nor perverted. The Russian Orthodox Church has no moral authority.

Life for Iraqi gays gets worse and worse.

Remember one of the excuses given by George Bush for invading Iraq: it was to fight theocratic extremists who have no respect for human rights. So who did Bush put into power? Of course theocratic extremists who have no respect for human rights. In fact Bush put into power individuals who are murderers. And some of the favorite victims are gay men.

Saddam Hussein was no libertarian. But the fact remains that homosexuals were better off under his secular government than under the theocratic authoritarians put into power by George Bush. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq has issued a report on the troubled state of this country -- all but destroyed by Bush’s “nation building”. (George Bush engages in nation building the same way he provided disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.)

The UN report notes that: “Armed Islamic groups and militias have been know to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them. There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq.”

Another new problems in Iraq, which didn’t exist under Saddam, is the “existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be ‘tried’, ‘sentenced’ to death and then executed.”

The Iraqi theocrats in power are not happy with the report since it contained facts “we cannot accept here in Iraq”. This includes speaking “about the phenomenon of homosexuality and giving them their rights. Such statements are not suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected.”

The UN says that intolerance against homosexuals has long existed in Iraq but that “they have escalated in the past year.” The killers are armed militias directly tied to the government. And the UN notes: “The current environment of impunity and lawlessness invites a heightened level of insecurity for homosexuals in Iraq.”

One gay man told the Gay City News of London: “Things were bad under Saddam for gays but not as bad as now. Then, no one feared for their lives. Now, you can be gotten rid of at any time.” from the “liberated” Iraq said: “Before the invasion, we never experienced any kind of trouble being gay in Iraq. Saddam was a tyrant. But while he was in power, discrete homosexuality was usually tolerated. There was certainly no danger of gay people being assassinated by religious fanatics.”