Saturday, October 18, 2008

Intolerence breeds hate, hate breeds violence.

This story didn’t get much play. In fact the only report I’ve seen in the local paper, the Kankakee Daily Journal. Even there is was a brief article, only a few sentences. But it is mind-numbing.

A grade school bus driver, Russell Schmalz apparently decided that a young boy on his school bus was gay. Whether or not he is doesn’t matter, just that Schmalz thought he was. This grown adult, Schmalz is 42, ridiculed the 10-year-old boy as gay and taunted him. Chief Deputy Ken McCabe of the local Sheriff’s department reported what happened then:
When the boy got off the bus the driver encouraged several other students to go after him and tackle him. Our investigation shows that occurred.
Police are investigating the claim that Schmalz also got off the bus and physically grabbed the child. This is a 10-year-old child who was assaulted merely because someone said he was gay.

In Salt Lake City a 20-year-old was just arrested for assault. His victim was an 18-year-old who was attacked because the attacker believed he was gay. He was helped in the attack by four other men.

A few days ago Jordan Smith was walking holding hands with his boyfriend. For that offense Michael Kandola started calling Smith and friend names and then began assaulting Smith. Jordan’s jaw was broken in three places. (see video below)

Just a couple of days ago two men were arrested in Washington, D.C., for assaulting a 23-year-old medical student because he was gay. They hit him with a glass bottle.

Just hours ago a man in New York was convicted for murdering Edgar Garzon, a 35-year-old gay man. Garzon had left a gay club and was walking home when a car with his killer, John McGhee pulled up. McGhee jumped out and attacked Garzon from behind, crushing his school with a baseball bat.

Each of these news stories is recent. I didn’t go searching the records for months past, just stories from the last few days. Earlier, when I was talking to the people promoting Proposition 8 the one I identified as Angry White Guy made a remark about the Matthew Shepherd murder in Wyoming. He was dismayed that this brutal killing got publicity.

He assured me that he didn’t engage in “fag bashing”. I wasn’t impressed that he thought thaT not beating people up was some sort of accomplishment. “Anyway,” he said, “that sort of thing doesn’t happen very often.”

What I didn’t tell him was that earlier today I had been re-reading the information on the Matthew Shepherd murder. The sheer brutality of it, all because this boy was gay, shocked me at the time. It still disturbs me greatly. I have watched the excellent docudrama on the impact that killing had in Laramie, Wyoming, The Laramie Project. The film is sitting here but I can’t bring myself to watch it again. I’ve seen it twice and each time I end up an emotional wreck.

Matthew was A 21-years-old student at the University of Wyoming. Two young men, one holding priesthood in the Mormon church, had planned to attack a gay man. In court their girlfriends said they spoke of the crime before they committed it. According to the prosecution the two men pretended to be gay and befriended Matthew, who was known to be gay. They offered him a ride home but Matthew never made it home that night, or ever again.

Matthew Shepherd was taken to a hill overlooking the city of Laramie and beaten mercilessly. This was not just a common assault. They were unrelenting as theY used a pistol to smash in his skull and face. After beating Matthew into a coma they tied his body to fence so he couldn’t get away -- as if that were possible in the shape they left him. They helped themselves to his money and his shoes and left him there.

The next morning a cyclist rode past the sight and saw what he thought was a scarecrow tied to the fence. He went closer for a better look and realized it was the limp body of a young man, still alive, but barely. Matthew was rushed to intensive care in Colorado Springs but he couldn’t survive the brutality of that night.

Now Mormons will tell you that they oppose violence against gays, they just spend millions to deny them equal rights before the law. What they don’t talk about is that Mormon “Apostle” Boyd Packer published a pamphlet entitled “To Young Men Only” which the First Presidency of the church has published and distributed.

In this talk this Mormon leader praised a Mormon missionary for assaulting a missionary companion who was homosexual. In this lecture, which mainly tries to convince Mormon boys that masturbation is incredibly evil, the Apostle referred to “physical mischief with another man”. He said that there are some who “entice young men to join them in these immoral acts” and that if that happens “it is time to vigorously resist.” (The video above is Ellen discussing the murder of a young boy in California, earlier this year, because he was gay. The two videos below are a dramatic presentation of the reality of fag bashing from the show Queer as Folk.)

The Mormon leader tells the story of when he was on mission and a young Mormon missionary came to him with something to confess. He admitted that he “floored” the other young missionary with his punch. This “Apostle” then writes:
After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.
So, the one boy makes a pass at the other boy. The second boy assaults the first boy in response and the Apostle’s response is to thank the boy for engaging in violence and then tells him “Somebody had to to it.” Apostle Packer then says, “I am not recommending that course to you,” but immediately adds a further comment making it quite clear that is precisely what he is recommending, “I am not recommend that course to you, but I am not omitting it. YOU MUST PROTECT YOURSELF.”

The Mormon fanaticism against gays is well known. Mormons believe in a very sexy afterlife where Mormon men, and their multiple wives (they still believe is polygamy in the afterlife) will be screwing throughout eternity producing spirit babies to populate planets. By the way, this is necessary to attain godhood -- Mormons are not Christians at all, not in any historical or Biblical sense. They believe that the secret rituals of the Mormon Temple (much of which Joseph Smith stole from his local Masonic lodge) will allow a faithful Mormon to become a God. They are polytheists. When they talk about “Father” they mean the god of this world only. They play down their claim that they turn into a God through their secret rituals, but they believe it. Since one has to be heterosexual to become a God you can see why they are so viciously antigay.

Stuart Matis believed the Mormon theology and so he fought being gay. He would punish himself for having gay thoughts. He hid his orientation from his family in fear. The only person he told was his missionary companion, Clay Whitmer. Clay confessed that he too was gay.

Eventually Stuart’s family asked him if he was gay. He said he was. His family actually supported him. His church didn’t and Stuart was a very loyal Mormon who was trying to “cure” himself. He got very depressed as he fought and fought his natural tendencies. One night, his mother heard him pacing around because of worry. She sat down and wrote a letter asking the Mormon church to reconsider their views.

Stuart also wrote a letter that night but she didn’t know it until she found it the next morning. It was a suicide note. Stuart took a gun and went to the local Mormon headquarters. He pinned a note to his clothes asking medical personnel to not resuscitate him under any circumstances then he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. (The video below is a vlog by a 16-year-old Illinois boy discussing the difficulty in learning self-acceptance for gay youth.)

Clay Whitmer says he tried to persuade Stuart not to do it. He wanted to cheer him up but arrived too late. As Newsweek describes it: “A few weeks later, anguished at his friend’s death and tormented by his own long-term depression, Whitmer put a gun to his own head.”

When will the Mormon church learn that they are destroying people? This antigay campaign they are on is deadly. They are pouring millions of dollars into a crusade to write bigotry into the state constitution while their own young people are dying--while their own young are becoming killers. Apostle Packer might think it was cute and funny to tell young Mormon males that he thanked someone for beating up a homosexual but I wonder if that Mormon boy in Wyoming who helped beat Matthew Shepherd to death had read that pamphlet. It was addressed to young Mormon males like himself. After all, you have to defend yourself from these faggots.

The Religious Right has been engaging in a long-term campaign to dehumanize gay people. They have called them every name under the sun and accused them of being the most dangerous threat to civilization, morality and children in the world today. If you continually dehumanize one group of people the consequences are inevitably deadly. Some will take their own lives because they can’t stand the torment, others will have their lives taken from them by moralistic thugs doing God’s will.

What these religious zealots are doing, or trying to do, is create a climate of hatred aimed at gay people. They are obsessed with this hatred and they can’t let it go. They drum it into the minds of the young and those hateful ideas spread around and people act on them.

These are not typical crimes. These are not attacks based on a desire to steal or to secure sexual satisfaction. They are inspired by one thing only -- contempt and hatred for someone for who they are. And the Mormons, Catholics and fundamentalists are out there telling the world that this sort of contempt is alright, it is God’s will. And God wants you to strip these people of certain rights because of who they are. Once people buy into this sort of view of a class of people it becomes easier and easier to inflict pain and suffering upon them.

I want to end this post with a video someone created. Elton John wrote a song about the Matthew Shepherd murder. Someone connected that song, American Triangle, with clips from The Laramie Project. Watch it, listen to the words and think. We need to end these tragedies, too many lives have been lost, too much hatred has already been unleashed in the name of God. I can’t speak for God but I can say, in the name of humanity, end the hatred.

PS. The Yes on 8 campaign is spending $25 million to push hatred of gays and portray them as threat to people who love their families. Now, won’t you please contribute to the NO on 8 campaign to fight the hate.

My encounter with antigay Yes on 8 campaigners

I was out shopping earlier today and ran into some Yes on 8 people standing at the shopping mall with their signs for this proposition to strip gay people of marriage equality. The one sign said “Protect Parental Rights”. So I parked and walked over to asked them how gay marriage violates parental rights.

The man pulled out a campaign brochure and I said: “No, I’d like to hear why you think gay marriage violates parental rights.” He looked dumbfounded for a moment, having to think for yourself is hard work especially when you’re not used to it.

He then started to repeat what the Yes on 8 people told him. He started with: “In Massachusetts....” I interrupted and pointed out that we live in California and Massachusetts state law doesn’t apply in California.

He responded with a claim that in sex ed classes in California kids will be taught gay marriage. I pointed out to him that under California law all parents are free to remove their children from sex ed classes if they wish and thus no child will be taught this without parental permission. His reply was: “Well, that won’t be the case of Prop 8 doesn’t pass.”

Actually 8 does nothing about parental permission for sex ed courses and, while gay marriage is legal now, the law still stands. Obviously the legalization of gay marriage had no impact on that law at all. Just because Jewish marriage is legal that doesn’t mean kids are taught Judaism at school. The whole argument is absurd.

At this point another Prop 8 person came over to play interference. The old guys job was to wave silly signs at the public. This guy was your basic angry white guy who hasn’t a clue what is going on. Really, not a bad guy, just pissed off and someone who doesn’t know what is happening -- in other words, pretty much uninformed.

He started complaining how “one federal judge” could over rule millions of voters and how that was unfair. Of course there were no federal judges involved at all. This was purely a ruling of the California Supreme Court based on the California constitution. He insisted it was federal interference, even the old guy interrupted him and corrected him. As I said, he’s basically uninformed.

This guy doesn’t like gays, but then he doesn’t like immigrants, free trade and a host of things. We discussed them briefly. I asked him what happens with the US dollars that go to China for the shoes we buy here (he was worried about American produced shoes for some reason). Don’t those dollars have to come back to America eventually if someone wants to spend them? He seemed convinced that some of it does come back to Hillary Clinton and Diane Feistein. Really, I’m not making this up.

I pointed out that billions of dollars in trade go overseas and surely it doesn’t all go to politicians. He wasn’t sure at this point but complained about cheap foreign products and how it destroys jobs. Again he seemed unaware that the US has among the lowest unemployment rates around. I asked him how it was that trade was destroying our jobs if our unemployment rate is so low? He said he didn’t know. But he blamed the problem he was sure existed on the NAFTA/NAMBLA agreement! (I’m not making this up -- that is precisely what he said!)

At this point he accused me of wanting to take away his guns! I was very amused considering I’m a passionate defender of the 2nd Amendment (all ten amendments, in fact). I corrected him and he said: “Well, at least your consistent.”

The old guy chimed in again and told me that allow gay marriage rewrites the Bible. I asked him how and he couldn’t explain but he said gay marriage is against the Bible. I pointed out that the United States is not a theocracy and that US law isn’t based on the Bible. His response said it all: “It should be.” He very explicitly said it was his right to impose Biblical law on America.

Angry White Chimed in and pointed out that Leviticus wants gay men killed but said he was surprised lesbianism wasn’t covered. I noted that was correct but that was Biblical law. Old Guy said he didn’t want to kill gays. I pointed at him and told Angry White Guy: “See, he’s a liberal who doesn’t want to obey God’s law.” They both laughed. I told them I had to go as I had groceries in the car.

I said: “I won’t say, it’s been fun.” Old Guy said, “We’ll at least we’re friends.” I said: “No, not really.” I can’t be friends with someone who wants to use state power to take away rights from people.

My second encounter with Prop 8 supporters was on line. Some conservative was spreading lies about the school field trip in San Francisco. That’s the one where some parents wanted their kids out of school to greet their teacher after her wedding to another woman. The Prop 8 people called it “indoctrination” and purposely deleted the fact that the parents were behind this. This fellow basically repeated the same claims. He said it was “blatant indoctrination” meant to “war the children’s sense of normality”. He said was a “criminal abuse of children.”

Someone noted that the parents approved this and he attacked the parents and claimed: “I’m pretty sure the parents didn’t come up the with the idea.” I commented that it was parent who came up with the idea and other parents approved it. I asked how it was “indoctrination for parents to teach their values to their children”.

He admitted that the only thing he read didn’t mention the parents but he didn’t care. Now he sees parents were “warping their child’s perception of sexuality, marriage and family.”

I noted that basically he just confessed to posting his article without bothering to check the facts first. And asked why the Yes on 8 people were so deceptive and left this information out. I noted that when people are allowed to make choices which we don’t necessarily approve of -- its called freedom. But more importantly we were not getting to real reason he wants Prop 8 and it doesn’t have anything to do with parental choice and control. He said gays are unnatural, immoral, unhealthy, self-destruction and a whole string of other negative traits. His campaign isn’t about protecting parental choice -- he just wants to hurt gay people.

He finally came out of the closet and admitted he was doing what he was because he was “a follower of Christ”. Now, in all my time in seminary I never found that Bible verse about Jesus passing ballot propositions. It must have been in the Revised Standard translation and we used the King James translation.

But here are two incidents and in both, after some debate, the Prop 8 supporters finally came out of the closet and cited their religion as the motivation for their attack on the rights of gay people. Jenny Roback Morse is running around California talking against gay marriage and then hiding the fact that she does so, not based on the arguments she gives, but on her rabid Catholicism. I have no problem if she wants to sit in adoration of a cracker that she thinks literally becomes the body of Jesus. But when her worship of a magic cracker becomes the foundation of a campaign to strip people of rights then I have problems with it.

We know the Proposition 8 campaign is dominated by Catholics, Mormons and fundamentalists. That’s where the money comes from. And when they talk in their churches they invoke God and the Bible (well, the Mormons invoke the Book of Mormon and their God). When they come into the light they change tunes. Suddenly they are protecting parental choice, even if no parents rights are being violated.

For all their talk about morality they are not above deception. Why don’t their commercials tell the public the real reason they want to pass Prop 8? Why don’t the commercials say: “Vote Prop 8, put God’s law into practice.” They don’t say it because they know the public won’t buy it.

I’m open about why I support Prop 8. I don’t believe the state has the right to discriminate. And this is state discrimination since the state regulates marriage. Get the state out of marriage and it is not an issue to me. The Prop 8 people don’t want the state out -- not at all. They want state protection and the monopolization of marriage because they want their religion to have the force of government behind it.

The Prop 8 people are deceitful on numerous levels. They won’t tell the public why they wrote the amendment and what they are trying to accomplish. Since they won’t tell the truth about their real motivations they are forced to come up with alternative explanations. And to do that they resort to inventing lies, distorting the truth and scaring people.

Once again I urge my readers to make a donation to the No on 8 campaign, they are still being outspent by the forces for theocracy. I don’t care if you’re gay or straight. That isn’t the main issue here -- even if it is the excuse. The main issue is whether or not California law ought to be based on facts and reality or on theological beliefs. This is as much about separation of church and state as anything. Stop the theocrats here and it will be a blow to their entire campaign to use the law to impose theocracy on America.

This is an issue they want to win badly. This is the one issue they still think they have a chance on winning. This is like first base for them, its easy to get there. But if they don’t get to first, then can’t go to second or third. Put a stop to the theocrats on gay marriage and it helps undermine their efforts to impose prayer and creationism in the schools, impose censorship at the state level, restrict reproductive choice, etc. All these matters are tied together because it is secularism versus Biblicalism. If you want to fight the Biblicists and don’t want them in your backyard, then defeat them here.

Contribute here. Please!
I’m going to make my second donation and this is hardship but important.

Note to my readers: I suspect that I'll be blogging on Prop 8 a bit more. This blog is very event driven and about the issues of the day. And since the religious fanatics are heavily attacking the rights of gay people I'm going to be taking my stand here, for what it's worth. If this were 1933 I would be spending a lot of time talking about the situation of the Jews in Germany. I honestly believe this is an issue we should all worry about. Theocracy is dangerous and these people will be as cruel as the God they believe in. Please help stop them. The video is a commercial that Ellen DeGeneres has put together and which she is funding to televise. I always liked her. Please do your part as well.

P.S. Watch this space. I'm trying to write a very difficult, very emotional piece for me. I want to get it right and it is very difficult. My problem is that as I research the matters my emotions so overwhelm me that I find it emotionally wrenching to talk about it. I will try to do it and post it soon. Please watch for it, read it, think about it.