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Wednesday 14 April 2010


Proclamations of the Red Queen

12th April 2010

Refusing “Dialogue”

Posted by: Craig Young

In the latest Utne Reader, there are a couple of articles that perplex me somewhat, albeit for different reasons.

In the first, Stephanie Fairyington provided a recent article on ‘choosing’ sexual identity and went on to rehash the whole dreary endless ‘essentialist’/’social constructionist’ debate within LGBT academia over the last twenty years or so. In my case, I don’t ever recall being straight, so from my perspective, my sexual identity is either the result of genetic or early infantile developmental hardwiring. We cannot ‘choose’ to be lesbian or gay, but can we ‘choose’ to act on our lesbian/gay desires and relationships? Yes, although discriminatory social structures also impede the expression and formation of the latter, which is what Fairyington neglects to mention.

In any case, does gay aetiology matter any more? I don’t really care if any ignorant fundamentalist redneck views my sexual identity as ’sinful’- it is a question of incommensurate discourses and seperate life spheres and theirs doesn’t have legal and social enablement for its core premises, so it has shrivelled to a privatised enclave. Inside it, they’re quite free to carry on with their own beliefs, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, worship, conscience and expression.

In the second Utne piece, Jonathon Odell discussed what happened when he accepted an invitation to speak as a  (deep breath) “ex-fundamentalist gay Southern Christian recovering alcoholic” at a fundamentalist seminary in the US Midwest. Although he did manage to establish some empathy and connection with some open faculty and students, the leadership and conservative teachers closed down the ‘dialogue.’ My problem is this- ‘telling stories’ may be personally cathartic for the participants, but is authentic LGBT/fundamentalist ‘dialogue’ possible?

And why should we want ‘dialogue’, anyway? I do believe in critical detailed analysis of the opposition’s viewpoint premises and construction of rebuttal of their mendacious claims about areas of debate that affect us, but I do not believe in actual cohabitation with them. At the end of the debate, we should be aiming to end their remaining meagre areas of discriminatory legislative influence, which applies to adoption policy alone in contemporary New Zealand.

Recommended:

Stephanie Fairyington: “Gay Option” Utne Reader May/June 2010: 27, 29

Jonathon Odell: “Coming Home” Utne Reader: May/June 2010: 64-67.

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

8th April 2010

United Kingdom: Homophobic Bullying and Faith Schools

Posted by: Craig Young

Under moderate centre-right governments, religiously-based ‘faith schools’ may be more able to get started, remain operational and attract students- so what about LGBT pupils?

Unfortunately, the faiths in question do not tend to be reasonably inclusive ones like Buddhism or Wicca, and while I would have no problems with Anglicanism or Reform Judaism in this context either, fundamentalist Christian (or UK Muslim social conservative) ‘faith schools’ are the ones that I have in mind here.

Should it become easier for these schools to gain certification, authorisation, any government funding for their operational activities and employ amenable teachers of their own religious persuasion, at the cost of more accessible state schools? As a former inmate of Middleton Grange, a particularly vile Christchurch fundamentalist private school, I thought I’d contribute my experiences back in the seventies. Until two months after my sixteenth birthday, I had had no idea that I was gay. Unfortunately, that didn’t prevent me from  receiving my share of jock school bullying and exclusion from adolescent top-stream peer social activities until my seventh form year. There was heavy nepotism and rampant monoculturalism- to be blunt, Middleton Grange was a ‘white flight academy’ at that stage. Some male teachers were martinet disciplinarians and condoned low-level peer bullying, urging me to harden up. They should never have been allowed into the teaching profession. Unfortunately, there is now Bethlehem Teachers College for teachers of their religious persuasion in Tauranga.

Somehow, I survived, made it through the system and escaped to university. Meanwhile, Middleton Grange had spawned erstwhile nemesis Graham Capill (whose dad Don was Vice-Principal there), organised against homosexual law reform in the mid-eighties and is now New Zealand’s largest fundamentalist private school. Granted, my experiences occurred during the Muldoon era of the seventies and it probably has far more Chinese and Korean students now, given the importance of our East Asian trading partners. However, with the benefit of organisational psychology, I can see that such schools are an obvious problem for LGBT students.

Their founders have sectarian reliious preferences which hold that lesbian/gay sexual identity is ‘against’ their theological prejudices and interpretation of the Bible (or Quran) and is therefore ’sinful’, ‘pathological’ or ‘unclean.’ Lesbian and gay pupils will therefore be pressured to adopt particular gender roles, although one imagines that lesbian athletic performers will receive some degree of social approval. Because their school cultures marginalise lesbian/gay sexual identities, though, homophobic bullying will be accepted and condoned within their school cultures. Consequently, LGBT pupils have several options. They can either come out to their parents or otherwise pressure them into transferal to more amenable schools, ‘act out’ or drop out early, blighting their later educational and employment prospects, or tough it out until they can escape to more convivial occupational training or higher education.

In a pluralist multicultural society like our own, we cannot prohibit the existence of such fundamentalist educational enclaves altogether. However, we can and should insist that government educational policies assert compliance with antibullying directives and referral of pre or current LGBT students to more amenable environments where they can achieve their full educational and social potential if needed. This should be one of the conditions of continued government funding and teacher and school assessment and regulation. Perhaps we should institute our own ‘league tables’ of safe and unsafe schools and lobby central government for penalty funding provisions if non-compliance is evident.

We need to insure that adolescent LGBTs are able to study in safe educational environments that prepare them to achieve their full potential as responsible and constructive citizens in later life.

Postscript: But apparently, not in Australia. After their shenanigans and electoral interference several years ago, the Australian Greens have been understandably incensed to learn that an Exclusive Brethren school with only a handful of students got a one million dollar grant for its school library, according to the Melbourne Age. Meanwhile, Queensland-born ALP federal PM Kevin Rudd has refused to go on air at JoyFM, a Melbourne LGBT radio station. Draw the dots…

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

7th April 2010

Review: Colin Hughes (ed) What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown?

Posted by: Craig Young

Colin Hughes (ed) What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown? London: Guardian Books: 2010.

And did it…?

The British and New Zealand Labour administrations of the last decades were siblings. However, apart from Tony Blair’s LGBT-inclusive social liberalism and paradoxical corresponding foreign policy conservatism when it came to the Iraqi War, we know little about one major influence in the Clark administration, as well as in the case of the contemporary Goff-led Labour Opposition.

Of course, there are some clear differences. Blair and Clark tacked to the centre-right on criminal justice policy, but there were some clear differences on foreign policy. Clark might have committed New Zealand Army SAS, medical and humanitarian forces to Afghanistan, but prudently refused to become entangled in the Iraqi War quagmire that ended the political career of Tony Blair. When nemesis came, it was in the form of the local impact of the global recession in New Zealand. And so Blair stepped aside, and Clark lost the fifth general election that she had contested, handing over to Phil Goff as her designated heir apparent.

As with Blair and Brown, there is a mixture of veteran old hands and promising newcomers within Goff’s Shadow Cabinet and New Zealand Labour is already registering some palpable hits against the more lacklustre members of the Key regime in several of its weaker portfolio areas. Inevitably, as incumbency fatigue seits in, the Labour/Green voter share will rise steadily in our own context. Fortunately, MMP means that the centre-left benefits from Green resilience and strength- as might be the case with Britain’s Liberal Democrat third party after May 6, 2010. The latter may offer a preview of what life might be like under any future New Zealand Labour/Green coalition, given the LibDem emphasis on environmental policy and social liberalism.

So, what are the other parallels? Like Goff , Clark and New Zealand Labour, Brown inherited a unified, disciplinary and strategically focused party core. Until the advent of David Cameron, that was not the case with his Tory adversaries. Unlike John Key, though, David Cameron’s Opposition leadership is now under active threat from fratricidal elements within his own party. Based on scrutiny of the Brown administration, though, what can Goff and New Zealand Labour learn from Gordon Brown’s experience?

Brown initially positioned himself well, through importing relevant external policy expertise to shore up areas of perceived weakness and adeptly using high-profile, articulate ex-Tory advisors, much as Clark was not averse to using amenable ex-members of the National caucus. If Brown’s early tenure is any indication, Goff’s Labour caucus and their Green allies should keep hammering away at areas of centre-right policy weakness, like education concerns,, health provision, frontline social service access slashing, accessible state housing and other shibboleths of the centre-right. Thus far, that may be their best strategy. Unexpectedly, criminal justice policy has become one of the key (…) failures of the current regime. Goff did well in opposition last time on law and order issues, it must be remembered.

Fortunately, New Zealand Labour leadership transitions are stable and orderly processes. Clark consolidated her authority in the mid-nineties. For National and the British Conservatives alike, however, internal rancour tends to build until enough caucus members are alienated and disgruntled enough to launch coups against the declining leadership. New Zealand Labour learnt its lesson after the schisms of the late eighties led to the emergence of the Alliance and the turmoil of those “Mad Mike” personality cult excesses of the early nineties. For that matter, personality and policy schisms have had highly destructive implications for satellite parties, whether the demise of the Alliance on the left, New Zealand First on the anti-market right (and ACT?) all demonstrate.

In the case of the Brown UK Labour caucus, some became apprehensive about policy direction in 2008/9, despite the precedent of the fratricidal Major Tory administration of the nineties and consequent Tory disunity and fragmentation over the course of the next decade. Surprisingly, government economic policy has not become an incumbency solvent as it has seems to have done in the case of the German Merkel and French Sarkozy administrations, given Brown’s Chancellorship beforehand and relevant policy expertise. If unemployment resumes its rise after a mere interlude and there is a backlash against the current abhorrent Key regime attacks on vulnerable Invalids Beneficiaries, then it may similarly find itself vulnerable.

However, Brown fought back against caucus disloyalty and his past financial management expertise came in good stead. He has shown himself to have a strong grasp of public anxieties, such as the issue of excessive MP expenditure on personal items. Brown responded quickly when it came to tax relief for the low paid, campaigned against high interest rates and undertook a prudent interventionist policy that has enabled the United Kingdom to escape the worst of the turmoil.

And then, the Tories went insane again. Unbelievably, the ConservativeHome website disclosed that there would be an influx of unreconstructed hardcore raving right anti-abortion, antigay, antigreen, antieuropean MPs in the event of a decisive Tory victory and loose cannons began to blunt the appeal of what had seemed to be an unchallengable poll lead. Within Labour, leadership tensions diminished after a leadership challenge and his one-time challengers decided that caucus unity and discipline and policy innovation might still lead to a closer-fought election result. Lord Ashcroft’s donation blunders didn’t help matters for the Tories, either.

As the time for the next British general election nears then, the title of this slender volume appears to be misleading. Brown has shown some capability for resilience, discipline and perhaps ultimate survival, as well as pragmatic policy relevance. By contrast, Cameron is now visibly faltering as anxieties grow about the influence of the aforementioned ‘raving right’ Tories. Certainly, outside Parliament, they appear to be on a fratricidal warpath

Brown may well survive this election. Current UK opinion polls suggest that the most probable outcome will be a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition. Of course, there is another side to this story, which is the electoral and organisational quagmire of the Tories during the nineties and this decade. As soon as  I can access it, I’ll review Tim Bales’ recent volume on that party and recent period of British political history.

→ 1 CommentTags: Politics

1st April 2010

Dropping the Rosary and Walking Away

Posted by: Craig Young

The Catholic clergy pedophilia crisis is killing that church. I feel deep sorrow for the Catholic Left over this, but as for the Catholic Right

After Vatican II in the sixties, Catholicism has tended to be riven by two divergent tendencies. One is a noble orientation toward social justice for the poor and oppressed that involves strong opposition to New Right economics, peace activism (as in the recent Waihopai civil disobedience trial)…and in the United States, open dissent from the Vatican’s homophobia and murderous and misogynist opposition to contraception, abortion and safe sex within the ambit of Catholics for a Free Choice. These are good, noble and profoundly ethical people of earnest and deep spirituality. In the case of CFFC, they have also stood in solidarity against the heartless denial and organisational self-preservation efforts of the Vatican and Catholic hierarchy, and alongside those whose lives have been ravaged by the scourge of Catholic clergy pedophilia.

Then there’s the Catholic Right. They are despised by their social justice and peace oriented counterparts for their pandering to fundamentalist Protestants over issues like violent corporal punishment of children and the death penalty. They are vitriolic homophobes. They are often also antisemites, like Father Paul Marx, founder of the Catholic Right Human Life International pressure group. But most of all, they are fanatics when it comes to pursuing the murderous, misogynist and obscene crusade against women’s reproductive freedom in the context of contraception and abortion.

This murderous sectarian obscenity contributes to thousands of deaths each year in societies where women perish from internal injuries after backstreet abortions across the world. It contributes to the deaths of those who have mendacious ‘abstinence’ junk science foisted on them in ersatz fearmongering ’sex education’ classes that do not give them adequate information about contraceptive options, leading to multiple unwanted pregnancies and consequent high infant and maternal mortality. It leads to infection and death from endstage AIDS, given that pregnancy suppresses women’s immune systems. It leads to the denial of religious freedom and freedom from religion for those who don’t share their sectarian and antidemocratic premises. It leads to the denial of free speech when they try to ban and censor accurate evidence-based information about contraception and abortion. It leads to persecution and censorship of free academic debate within Catholic tertiary institutions.

They want civilised western societies to return to the barbarous past of the backstreet abortionist through their sick campaigns to prohibit womens reproductive freedom. They want to deny pregnant incest survivors the right to their reproductive freedom through denial of medical confidentiality and call it “parental notification and consent.” They want to ban D&X late term terminations, even when this would endanger womens lives and seriously injure their health and are a medical neccessity. Their terrorist elements resort to assassination, vandalism, firebombing abortion clinics and coldblooded murder to achieve their disgusting objectives.

As one prochoice battlecry went, Prolife? What a lie. You just want to see women die.

No less abhorrent is their hypocrisy when it comes to Catholic clergy pedophilia. The Catholic Right has the collaboration of the Vatican and Catholic hierarchy for the murderous antichoice agenda noted above. They are a clericist movement, which slavishly venerates ordained clergy, their church hierarchy and the Vatican, as if the latter were unstained sources of moral authority. They rant and rave about poor little presentient blastocysts, zygotes, embryos and fetuses, even given that the latter are presentient until the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy, long after most terminations occur, except those intended to save a woman’s life or prevent serious internal injury, or in cases of lethal severe fetal abnormality where the fetus will not survive long in the outside world if brought to term.

They don’t seem to give a damn about the real innocent child victims of Catholic clergy pedophilia. Child sexual abuse drives children and adolescents to self-harm, attempted or completed suicide, educational and employment disruption and substance abuse problems in later life.

Well, it may be far too late now. Through years of neglect, concealment and wilful blind denial of the scale of the tolerance of clergy child sexual abuse, the consequences are now being felt. Ordinary Catholics are staring at their clerical leaders, aghast at the above. Many of them are walking away, either out of Christianity altogether, or toward more humane and compassionate liberal Protestant denominations. Over time, and this can only accelerate, the denomination will diminish in scale and be unable to run its institutions or fund misogynist, homophobic and sectarian political campaigns. 

It has exhausted its  moral authority. The New Zealand Catholic Right’s geriatric contingents may be too far gone in terms of its dotage or too morally calloused toward others to care about the victims of clergy pedophilia. Thankfully, they have been in steep organisational and membership decline over the last thirty years.

I feel no pity at all toward the Vatican or Catholic hierarchy about this. If their institution had any decency left, it would empty its coffers to provide some remedy to the damage that it enabled and concealed over the past few decades.

Postscript: Words fail me. The Catholic hierarchy are currently whining about the justifiable anger and outrage at the Vatican and their own institutional concealment and denial of clergy pedophilia over the course of the last several decades and daring to compare  it to Nazi antisemitism. Well, their predecessors would know all about that, wouldn’t they? And after all, the current pontiff was a former Hitler Youth member. Don’t get me started about Catholic clerical anti-Semitism and collaboration in Nazi-occupied Europe, as well as Pius XII’s Nazi-Vatican Concordat, or the verminous late rabid antisemite Father Paul Marx, founder of “Human Life International”. Quite understandably, international Jewish communities are themselves outraged at this. I stand in complete solidarity with them over this.

In the United States, Kansas city abortion provider George Tiller’s stalker and murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment today. Meanwhile, Pope Ratz wittered about the need to ‘nonviolently’ oppose ‘unjust’ laws, like those that recognise womens reproductive freedom. Isn’t it a little late for that, your Self-Righteousness?

In Canada, the antiabortion Lifesite has tried to excuse the epidemic of Catholic clergy pedophilia through comparing it to schoolyard abuse and our own beloved “Right to Life New Zealand” has followed suit. Link below. I will follow up rebuttals of this suspiciously timed claim. It now appears that there is good reason why it is that Charol Shakeshaft’s research report is subject to relative neglect. It has poor research design and elides sexual harrassment with child and adolescent sexual abuse at public schools, artefactually inflating the incidence of the latter in the process.

While any form of professional sexual harrassment should be dealt through disciplinary and dismissal avenues if neccessary, Shakeshaft does not distinguish between that serious professional misconduct and criminal child and adolescent sexual abuse.It should also be noted that Shakeshaft’s ‘research’ bibliography includes discredited US antigay junk ’scientist’ Paul Cameron, widely criticised for his methodological incompetence and debased standards of research ‘ethics.’

As usual, the Catholic Right is lying and trying to trivialise the scale and moral seriousness of Catholic clergy pedophilia through making excuses for them.

Jesus wept.

Strongly recommended:

Catholics for a Free Choice: http://www.catholicsforchoice.org

Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/pius.html

Wikipedia: Murder of George Tiller: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_George_Tiller

Utterly abhorrent:

“Study: Teacher abuse a hundred times worse than priests” Right to Life New Zealand: 02.04.10: http://www.righttolife.org.nz

“Forgotten Study: Abuse in Schools 100 times worse than priests” Lifesite: 01.04.10: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/apr/10040101.html

Rebuttal: Shakeshaft Study Flawed: Washington Post: Editorial Roundup: 07.07.04: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34518-2004Jul7_3.html

BBC News: Pope’s preacher compares abuse row to anti-Semitism: BBC News: 02.04.10: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8601084.stm

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

31st March 2010

Fiction: Rekindled

Posted by: Craig Young

Some more fiction. This time, post-apocalyptic.

—————-

It was two hundred and five days afterward that I met him.

Two hundred and four days had elapsed since the plague had reached full intensity and emptied out humanity.

Two hundred and three days had passed since I awoke, bleary eyed and woefully, skeletally thin, into a deserted world.

For almost seven months, I hadn’t seen a single human being alive. There were no dogs either. I’m not sure if that’s because the GEV was based on some canine-specific predecessor that jumped species, but cats are immune. In fact, I owe Mulligan, an especially obliging and curious tabby, my sanity.

One afternoon, he popped up on the deck of the deserted bach that I’d taken over and started miaouing frantically. It wasn’t his food this time- he went nowhere near the fridge, and kept trying to lead me out into the wood nearby. I followed him, as he stopped every two metres to make sure I was keeping up.

I saw it then. It was a tent. I prepared to tie my t-shirt around my neck, suspecting Mully had found another corpse. Then I realised something- there was no scent of decay. So, I headed into the tent. His tee and sleeping bag were stained with vomit and shit, he was unshaven and looked as bad as I had. But he was breathing evenly and it looked like he’d made it through.

Pausing to reward Mully with the tuna he deserved, I bundled the stranger into the bach. I got the shower running and stripped him. I got naked myself and tended to his hygiene. Okay, so I got hard. I’m gay, and I was in proximity to a naked male body, even if sex was nowhere near my mind. Anyway, it’d be just my luck if he were straight. And he was still so out of it, he wouldn’t notice…

I got some food into him before I tucked him into bed and he slept for about seven hours, while I did my usual recce of the surrounding areas. About seven that night, a tall naked figure stumbled into the living room:
“G’day….y’saved me life, mate.”

I grinned: “Dunno about that. The fever broke, but you were in a bad way, so I cleaned you up. Your gear was a write off, I’m afraid.”

He shrugged: “No worries. Name’s Lew. I was on holiday when this plague shit started. I must have caught it late. Mind you, I was always a loner before this.”

I walked over with a cuppa: “Legend. Just one question…?”

“Pete.”

“Cheers, mate. Anyway, I had this strange dream where a chunky lad with an impressive horsedick was cleanin’ me up…”

I started: “Uh, thanks.”

“Did I offend ya? Shit. That was you, then, man?”

“Look, Lew. I’m gay, okay.”

“Aw hell, Pete, me too, man. Get over here so I can thank yez properly.” He grabbed me, thrust my shorts down and off and went to work on me, given I was ready and at attention given this stroke of luck. I reached down and gave him a helping hand.

All that was five years ago. As far as we know, we’re two adams in an eden all our own. We may be the last humans alive anywhere on earth, but each day, I wake up alongside his lanky, warm living frame entwined with mine. It’s enough.

→ No CommentsTags: General

29th March 2010

Missouri: Exgay Adolescent Sexual Abuse Scandal

Posted by: Craig Young

According to indefatigable US LGBT rights campaigner Wayne Besen, there is a sordid case of historic but recent adolescent sexual abuse at Kansas City Missouri’s “Desert Stream Ministries,” a so-called “exgay ministry.”

As a result of the incident, Besen has demanded that the US Exodus International national ‘exgay’ organisation close down Desert Stream, after its own leader, Andy Comiskey, recently disclosed on his own weblog that Desert Stream Ministries had been expelled from its former Vineyard Anaheim (California) host church after an incident where a DSM “counsellor” had sexually abused an adolescent male who sought the organisations help. According to Comiskey, the boys parents then allegedly “blackmailed” DSM, there were “police interrogations,” insurance company investigations and relocation from the Anaheim facilities to Kansas City, Missouri.

I wish Wayne well in this endeavour, although Christian Right pressure groups aren’t particularly noted for acknowledgement of malfeasance and any concept of public accountability for misdeeds. Or expulsion of extremists or predatory individuals, for that matter. Still, it might be worth asking whether local fundamentalist bookshops still harbour copies of Comiskey’s Pursuing Sexual Wholeness (Creation House: 1989).

Recommended:

Wayne Besen: “Desert Screams: Exgay leaders shocking admissions of ministry’s sexual abuse” Truth Wins Out: 13.03.10: http://www.truthwinsout.org/pressreleases/2010/03/7561

Comiskey Admission: http://andycomiskey.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/falling-mercies

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

29th March 2010

Unmourned: Father Paul Marx, Antichoice Antisemite: 1920-2010

Posted by: Craig Young

It angers me no end when the Christian Right try to rewrite history and posthumously sanitise the public record of one of their own. Take hardline Catholic antiabortionist Father Paul Marx (90), who died recently, founder of the conservative Catholic Human Life International pressure group.

Predictably, there was a load of sycophantic drivel in his memoriam article on the Catholic.org website. Stephen Mosher, fellow antiabortionist and associated with the “Population Research Institute” gushed about Marx’ fanatical opposition to contraception, abortion, assisted suicide and LGBT rights. Marx founded his Human Life International pressure group in 1972 and using the Catholic institutional infrastructure, spread his sectarian philosophy of misogyny and homophobia around the world.

However, Marx had a far darker side, according to the respected Jewish Antidefamation League, an organisation founded to expose antisemitic hate propaganda regardless of political affiliation. In 1998, the ADL published a piece on Marx that was scathing about his history of repeated antisemitic diatribes. In 1977, Marx stated that it was a ’strange thing’ how many pro-choice activists and abortion providers were Jewish. Excuse me?! Yes, there are lots of Jews in the pro-choice movement, along with numerous mainline Protestants, liberal Catholic dissidents, secular humanists, pagans, principled libertarians and conservatives. Wait, it gets worse. French antiabortion geneticist Jerome Lejeune apparently also told Marx that French pro-choice activists were ‘mostly Jewish” and that Marx himself had seen a “Jewish female liar” defend reproductive choice at a Bucharest World Population Conference.

In 1987, Marx attacked the understandable concerns of Jewish community members over Pope John Paul II’s meeting with Austrian Premier Kurt Waldheim over the latter’s Nazi war record. At the end of that outburst, he derogated the suffering, brutality and genocide of the Holocaust compared to the demise of zygotes, embryos and fetuses in the context of reproductive freedom. Ah, what breathtaking historical revisionism. Sorry, Paul, it was the Nazis who were antiabortion and antigay during the thirties and World War II- or, as today’s Christian Rightists call it in their own version of Orwellian Newspeak, ‘pro-life and pro-family.’ He accused “the Jews” of leading the pro-choice movement and “perpetrating another Holocaust” in another diatribe.

Good riddance, you poisonous geriatric bigot.

Recommended:

“Antidefamation League Investigation Shows Strains of Antisemitism in Extreme Factions in the Antiabortion Movement”: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/asus_12/3265_12.asp

Not Recommended:

Stpehen Mosher: “RIP Father Paul Marx”: Catholic.Org: http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=35962

→ 2 CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

28th March 2010

Fiction: Sere

Posted by: Craig Young

Right, I’ve had far too many fact-based blogs here recently, so here’s another SF short story…

Eleusine Arcology Fortrayne: Year 40, 026 of the Great Confederation.

Subject: Sere.

Sere is the third planet of a main-sequence yellow primary star, accompanied by a relatively large planetary satellite and was well within its primaries ecosphere envelope. Until a millenium ago, it was a habitable world.

Now, its oceans are grey and lifeless and anaerobic, its landmasses mottled yellow, black, grey and brown and desolate desert or rock. Some rudimentary extremophile life forms exist around submarine volcanic vents on a formerly icebound polar continent, as well as ruins.

What happened to Sere? It is a story that is not unfamiliar. When many species become capable of high-speed planetary transformation and accelerated scientific development, many also fall victim to the phenomenon that our social scientists call Pri’ithys Oulounde [Encyclopedia Galactica crossref: Pri’ithys Oulounde is a metaphor taken from Eleusine mythology and primarily refers to a succulent yet narcotic high-theobromine fruit]. That term is a venerable metaphor that refers to addiction to old paths and rejection of societal diversity. Like Eleusines, Sere’s dominant species was mammalian, although descended from augmented and evolved a’athours- analogues [Eleusine anthropoids] rather than our own felinoid remote ancestors. Eleusine rejected the temptation of the Oulounde. Sere did not, and therein lies its tragedy.

It seems that a monotheist faith evolved, surviving until the rise of empiricist physical science, whereupon panicked and paranoid, its leadership retreated into scientophobia and fear of social diversity and change. It sought global dominion through infiltrating political factions and seeking the exclusion of designated “deviant’ philosophical beliefs and ‘outgroups’. One such group were samesexers.

Cnadour leads me to acknowledge Sere is not the sole recorded case of such adverse social development. Amongst other extinct species, different aspects of morphology and genome have been stigmatised and served as bases for social exclusion, pogroms and ethnocide. On some worlds, it is dermal or exoskeletal variation or pigmentation, while on others, psionic capabilities or neuromorphology cause stigmatisation and exclusion.

(For non-Eleusines, bear in mind that our use of the metaphor is dependent on recognition of the narcotic effects of the Oulounde on our physiologies and avoidance of its addictive routinised and regularised use. Continued intake of the seductive fruit led to our eventual incapacity and death).

Sere bit deeply into the oulounde, regrettably. The authoritarian monotheists learnt that within their species, samesexer sexual preference and social networks had a series of genetic precursors. As a result of ancillary genomic research, they covertly crafted an intricately calibrated genetically engineered virus to attack any genetic sequences that manifested latent same-sexer development in postnatal life within their oocytes and spermatozoa. Their ploy was successful and within a generation, they eradicated samesexers from their species.

Unfortunately for the Sereans, this had some fatal and unintended consequences. Their species lost its capability for creative endeavour and scientific innovation, given the colocation of genes for higher intelligence potential and social adaptation alongside the samesexer sequences. Scientific and cultural development stagnated and although the Serean monotheists ‘won’ their cultural conflcit through samesexer eradication, they accelerated the decline of the nation state upon which they resided. This led to the rise of authoritarian government and almost a millenium ago, it fought a devastating thermonuclear conflict with other nation-states that challenged its faltering and collapsing global hegemony. This accelerated cumulative results of centuries of intensive ecological damage.

It took sixteen years for the desperate pleas of the irradiated, starving and irreperably wounded survivors of the global holocaust to reach the nearest world of starfarer sentients. They embarked at once, but when their rescue and emergency medical fleet dropped down from FTL, there was nothing left but desolation and planetwreck.

Sere is a funereal, desolate and toxic outcrop of rock, dirt and nightmare, devoid of life. It could have been so much more.

→ No CommentsTags: General

28th March 2010

C.J. Cherryh: Not The Future We Wanted, But…

Posted by: Craig Young

Recently, I’ve read SF author C.J. Cherryh’s Cyteen and Regenesis, notable for their cloned gay ancillary protagonists, Jordan and Justin Warrick. Their world, Cyteen, raises some interesting questions for LGBT political development.

 Cyteen and Regenesis are set in the early 25th Century, on a corporate dominated human interstellar colony, Cyteen. In this timeline, it seems that sexual orientation and identity have long since been accepted as modes of benign human variation and present no barriers to career advancement, professional responsibility, spousal cohabitation rights or famul formation. Indeed, Jordan and Justin’s sexual identities are only mentioned once in the two works.

Cyteen and its 25th Century are no utopia, otherwise. Despite normalised LGBT sexual and gender equality, humanity has just ended a devastating civil war between Earth and its former interstellar colonies in the late 24th Century, and Reseune, the aforementioned dominant corporate, engages in human genetic adaptation to deal with colonisation of suboptimal alien ecologies. That involves ectogenesis (extra-uterine reproduction), which are as commonplace as human cloning. It’s also a post-patriarchal society, given that the central protagonists of both books are Ariane Emory I and II, a prodogious genetic engineer and businesswoman and her clone.

Here’s one problem. Some genetically engineered humans (azis) are bred through ectogenesis and virtual reality ‘tape’ indoctrination to live as high-functioning autistic people, incapable of ambiguity or deception. Moreover, azis have only default chattel status within Reseune and its operations. They may face no employment or relationship discrimination- Jordan and Justin’s lovers, Paul and Grant, are both azis- but if Reseune’s corporate hierarchy decides to revoke their erstwhile employment status and relationships, they are powerless.

I tend to be sceptical about utopias and this is no exception. However, ancillary complications add to the narrative scope and breadth of the best SF works, and it certainly enhances the narrative believability of Cherryh’s future history universe in this context. It also raises some useful questions about what society LGBT citizens want…and what we might end up getting, if we don’t do anything about what appear to be ‘tangential’ social issues at the time.

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26th March 2010

Soaps and Sapphists: The Grimy Homophobic Truth…

Posted by: Craig Young

Why is it that the lesbian community isn’t lobbing collective labyrises at the grotesquely lesbophobic storylines about sapphic sudsters in that particular television genre? And our own Shortland Street is just as guilty.

In Attitude 189 (March 2010), the mag took a gendered eye at the lesbian and gay story arcs on five British soaps- the venerable Coronation Street, Eastenders, and Emmerdale, all of which screen in New Zealand, and Hollyoaks, which only screens on the pay for view UKTV. All of the characters have had gay and lesbian characters. To my knowledge, Brookside doesn’t. Now, in the case of Hollyoaks, one of the gay male characters, Father Keiron, came to a sticky end at the hands of the murderous half brother of one of the other gay male characters. Gay male characters tend to be young and cute and get involved with other young, male and cute characters, apart from a pair of boring ones on Brookside. Special mention must be made of Hayley Cropper on Coro- who isn’t 100% ’straight’ as she is a transwoman, albeit a nonglam one and married to boring Roy Cropper. And ahem, Rita Sullivan is not camp. She is a “glamour granny” and older diva, as is Audrey Roberts. Norris is. And boring. So was the late Blanche. Sigh. Sadly missed, that one.

Anyway, the gayboy soap characters (ie Todd Grimshaw, Coro) usually struggle with coming out, get kissed, devirginised and have to put up with angst from their exgirlfriends and parents, except if one has a nice mum like Eileen Grimshaw on Coro. Then they toddle off to university or a professional career elsewhere. Sean Tully is an exception, and he is a camp gayboy.

What about the lesbian soapsters? Don’t ask. I wish I could excuse the Shorters plotlines that involve the hapless Maia Jeffries as a provincial aberration, but no, in all honesty, I can’t. Consider that poor Maia has civilly united with Jay Copeland, then cheated on her and faced seperation, then was widowed due to the depradations of Joey Henderson, the Ferndale Strangler serial killer. As if that weren’t enough, she lost it completely and bumped off someone else herself, although there were extenuating circumstances. Just when we thought she’d found a girlfriend and moved on, the girlfriend flaked out on her. Gak. Stereotype city, anyone?!

What about the British soaps? Ah, well, two of the lesbian soapsters there have gone mad, one has blown up her family’s farm, while the other is a two-timing straight for play psychopath who conveniently bumps off tired characters past their use-by date, including her own girlfriend,  while another lesbian went to prison after bumping off her evil abusive dad.

Say what? Forty years after the hideous sixties period piece that was The Killing of Sister George, it seems some soap scriptwriters aren’t above ripping off the basic plotline and either removing lesbians through convenient falling pianos or having them develop hitherto unsuspected mental illnesses straight out of a bad Paul Cameron ‘research report’ and laying waste to the straight but narrow surroundings. Okay, so what’s to be done? If I were a lesbian media consumer, I’d load up on the Willow and Tara Buffy episodes, the Bad Girls Nikki/Helen story arc, Xena Warrior Princess DVDs and keep an eye out for Skins Seasons three and four, given that Naomi and Emily easily have the most wholesome relationship on the show (especially compared to anything involving Cook!) If I were an anglodyke, I’d troup right down to BBC, ITV and other production companies and loudly growl at them, with pickets. As for Shorters, I sadly must conclude much the same.

Recommended:

“Nine Ways of Being Gay in Soaps” Attitude 189 (March 2010): 62-63: http://www.attitude.co.uk

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