When Is It OK to Grow Up?

Here in Arizona we're debating an event that was supposed to go off as family friendly but has now devolved into public nudity. Nevermind that public nudity is illegal in Arizona.

However, in the midst of the discussion I realized that there is still a segment of the gay community that can't seem to grow up. I speak here specifically of certain gay men.

There seems to be that contingent of 40 or 50 somethings who perpetually live in the 1970's. They seem to identify solely with sex. Not with relationships or affection but with sex.

What's worse, is they resent anyone who has moved past all that stuff. They resent those in the community who have stable and loving relationships. They resent those with families and true friends. They cannot stand anyone who has forsaken promiscuity for a stable life.

Recently, I've been seeing a lot of online ads about AIDS and HIV testing. Honestly, after so many years away from that kind of life and in a stable monogamous relationship for many years, I sort of find myself wondering about these scary ads.

Then I see the Gay Peter Pans and I understand the ads. These men, despite their age, have never grown up. They are still acting just like they did at 19 or 20. They are terrified of getting older because their whole identity is sex. Without this "in your face" sexuality they don't know who they are. In short, they have failed to develop a full personality.

So, as many of us try to move on with life and gain those rights that will protect our relationships and families, we must constantly find ourselves fighting the Peter Pans who would have us all return to an era when our only concerns were how long till the next cocktail and how long is the next cock.


A Little Voter Fraud Is Good For the Soul!

Amazingly, in Washington state it is perfectly acceptable to pull bait and switch when it comes to gathering signatures on a petition. You can tell people that you're conducting a "survey" and get them to sign on the "yes" paper if they agree or the "no" paper if they don't. Of course, both papers are the same and are for whatever issue you are being paid to work.

You can tell people that the petition is about the opposite of what is actually about if you have a cause that actually isn't popular. Basically, you can do anything you want to and it's perfectly legal from I've learned.

In fact, you can do all of the above at the same time! Just watch this good representative of the "Christian Family" folks plows through the ninth commandment.


But, I'm Not a Racist! I Gave a Black Guy CPR!

As we travel farther and farther down the rabbit hole that is "post-racial America" following the arrest Dr. Henry Louis Gates at his home in Cambridge we find that people are reluctant to admit to racist tendencies in this country. After all, with an African-American President, we've put all that aside right?

Yet, in the denials of "I'm not a racist!" run the very threads of racism. Today the New York Daily News published a story about how Sgt. James Crowley, the man who arrested Dr. Gates, could not be a racist because he had once given CPR to Reggie Lewis an NBA star. This bit of logic on their part and that of Mr. Crowley misses the mark.

Racism rarely comes in the Ku Klux Klan variety. Those people are aberrations. Racism generally is much quieter and we don't often even notice it ourselves. It is not something we consciously think about even. Racism is the result of our indoctrination into cultural attitudes throughout our lives. It is informed by our own experiences as well.

Even when we talk about racism we are careful to appear to be non-racist. In other words, we talk a great deal about the racism of whites but we rarely address racism among other races. We are also quick to note that "racism" seems to be a self-limiting disease of sorts. In other words, while it seems to happen it is always explained away as simply poor education or some other fixable process.

But, in reality, there is no one on earth who is not racist in some way. Them's fighting words to my fellow liberals I'm sure. But, let's set aside our association of "racism" as being tantamount to burning crosses and consider "racism" in its actual form as simply a preference for one race over another. Sometimes this does not even include negative stereotypes. It can simply be that one prefers lighter skin to dark aesthetically or vice versa. There may be no negative reason for this just as there may be no negative reason that one prefers brown hair to blond hair. It is an aesthetic appeal.

In other cases, racism can be more associated with negative stereotypes. We might begin to conclude that African-Americans are more likely to commit crime. This would not be a completely unbelievable assumption to reach when we are constantly given statistics showing that they are by far over-represented in our prison system. Even when processing the liberal call to action in that statement, our sub-conscious forms an association: African-American = Prison. The subconscious is very simple when it comes to information and doesn't like complicated data that requires extenuating circumstances.

What about the stories of Mexican drug cartels that lead our stories continually in Southern Arizona? Even though, as liberals, we are careful to consciously sort this out from our idea of Mexicans or Hispanics as a population, we are still having our subconscious bombarded. The message we are getting subconsciously from all of this is: Hispanic = gangs/violence/drugs. So, even as liberals when we find ourselves walking down a dark street near midnight and see a group of young Hispanic men we are much more likely to assume they are up to something than on their way as a group to Midnight Mass.

This subconscious brainwashing goes on all the time in the form of "debates" on idiotic subjects. When Maggie Gallagher "debates" on whether gays are all pedophiles or not, it does not matter if she wins. The more she makes that connection in the subconscious minds of people, the more her message is delivered. Our subconscious will often trump our conscious mind in moments of stress.

Which brings us back to non-racist Sgt. Crowley. I have no doubt that he is not the KKK kind of racist. I have no doubt that he might even have African-American friends. However, I do doubt that he is the only person on earth who is not racist in the deepest part of his subconscious mind.

Mr. Crowley acted completely understandably (although not properly) if we look at the idea of subconscious racism. His experience teaches him that African-Americans are likely to be involved in a crime. That is both from what he is told culturally as an American through news broadcasts and "debate" as well as what he experiences as a police officer. Therefore, his conscious mind does not raise any objection to his belief that two "black men" are breaking into a house in a nice neighborhood. In fact, his conscious mind gets so far out of the way because of the adrenalin rush of catching a crook that he doesn't pause to consider why a burglar is dressed in a blazer and carrying his luggage.

Mr. Crowley goes into auto-cop mode and rather than apologizing to Dr. Gates upon seeing him in his home, he demands papers. His conscious mind has gotten so far out of the loop while he is in cop mode that he is now doing things he might find repugnant were he to see them from a distance.

The breaking point in this mini-tragedy came when Dr. Gates broke the hold of Crowley's subconscious. Dr. Gates accused him of a being a racist. This was not part of Mr. Crowley's self image and because he was acting in a racially biased way at that moment he directed his anger at Dr. Gates because he could not reconcile his actions with his self image. In order to keep himself from reflecting on this revelation he arrested Dr. Gates as the object of the stress.

This is still being played out as Mr. Crowley is trying desperately to reconcile his actions with his self image publicly. He cannot bring himself to apologize because to do so would mean admission that in the deepest recesses of his mind there lives a spark of racism. He cannot bring himself to make that self analysis. Beyond that, those around him are assuring him that he cannot be racist in any way and that his actions were completely justified. They are telling him that it is perfectly proper to arrest someone in their own home, a home you have invaded without permission, for daring to be angry with you and tell you as much. At no time, did Dr. Gates push or harm Mr. Crowley. It was his words that upset him so greatly. It was that moment of self-awareness that they brought. That was the offense.

And why are they telling Mr. Crowley this? Because, they too cannot reconcile their self-image with the idea they might possibly be racist. This is particularly true of African-American police officers who often share those same racial prejudices and for whom such revelation would be devastating.

What Sgt. Crowley did is not acceptable. It is understandable, but it is not acceptable. The proper course of action would be for him to understand why he did what he did and then see how he can prevent it from happening again. That process should begin with an apology. After all, Sgt. Crowley was the catalyst for this tragedy. Without his presence and actions the day would have ended peaceably for all concerned.

And just so no one feels the need to go off on me as casting stones: On the IAT (Implied Association Test) at Harvard (how ironic) I show a moderate preference for light skinned people. So, though I also have many African-American friends, campaign against overt racism, and generally scream about mistreatment of minorities to the top of my lungs.... deep down inside me there lives the seed of racism... just like in Mr. Crowley... and just like in you.

NOTE: In the NY Daily News story and in most coverage of the incident, you will see that our subconscious is being stroked still. In almost every case, James Crowley is referred to along with his police rank of Sergeant. Interestingly, Henry Louis Gates is referred to either as Mr. Gates or rarely as Professor Gates. I have yet to see him referred to as Dr. Gates, although he holds a PhD and is entitled to the honorific "Doctor."


When That Bleeding Heart Just Ain't Big Enough...

A few days ago on Facebook one of my friends posted an appeal from someone she knows about a beautiful Shepherd mix dog she'd found in her neighborhood. The dog was friendly and seemed well behaved. From the description it was obvious it was a beloved pet who had strayed from home. However, it's collar was missing. Not an uncommon thing with smarter dogs who manage to remove their collars - especially when being sneaky to explore places they shouldn't.

This girl's bleeding heart got the better of her and she just had to call the dog over to her. The dog responded and she decided she'd find it a home or find its owners. That's a nice sentiment but it's not a quick process as anyone who has ever fostered a dog can tell you.

In fact, one of our dogs was found in a very similar way. Unfortunately, the scars on his neck told us his life had not been particularly pleasant wherever he came from so we didn't try to find his previous owner. We were just going to keep him until we could find him a home. Five years later we finally found him a home. Of course, we didn't look particularly hard in the intervening years and only decided we had to find him a home when he and one of our other dogs decided they couldn't stand each other after several years.

Michael became frustrated with him and the process of trying to find a home for him and finally dropped him at our local pound, thinking they would make some attempt to find him a home. I immediately called the pound and asked about him. I begged them to call me and let me know his status and to call me immediately if they decided to kill him. I had every intention of picking him up before some oaf at the pound could kill this wonderful dog. After several days I had not heard a word. I called the pound again and was told they were planning to kill him the next day. I asked why I had not been called and they told me they "didn't do that." We rushed to the "shelter" and picked him up. We had to pay all sorts of fees that actually seemed more like ransom in order to keep them from killing him.

After a while we were able to find a home for him through my sister. He now lives comfortably in his old age in North Carolina and as a recent email stated "he is better than my kids!"

So, our bleeding heart "animal lover" has her new charge in hand and is trying to find a home for him by using social networking. By evening when no one has run over to pick him up she realizes it is too much trouble to keep a dog and she drops him to the local "animal shelter." She gets assurances from a local "no-kill group" that they'll pick him up by the weekend but she has to place him in the shelter first.

Unfortunately, that is a ploy by no-kill shelters. They tell people the animals must "go through the pound" and then they'll pick them up. Generally, this is a dodge that means they're full and they don't want to turn down an animal outright because it could affect their reputation and donations. Of course, the weekend came and the "no kill shelter" was a no-show at the pound.

So, tonight the woman finds that in 24 hours the dog who came to her, sat in her lap, licked her face will be killed because the shelter thinks he's "aggressive." This is another code word for "we can't be bothered" and people just want little puppies. In extreme cases it simply means "we don't think dog is cute so won't be easy to adopt out."

She still can't manage to disrupt her life to take responsibility for the dog she called to her, put in her car and then took to a "shelter." She begs other people to rush to the dog's rescue before it is killed.

But, the dog would not be in that position were it not for her actions. Had she minded her own business perhaps the pet might have made its way back home. Perhaps the family or owner might have spotted it and been able to take it home. Perhaps someone who could actually bother with it for more than a few hours would have taken it in and either given it a home or kept it until a suitable home could be found.

The moral of this story is that sometimes people with bleeding hearts just don't have bleeding hearts that are big enough. If you pick up an animal on the street you are taking responsibility for that life. If you know you can't help then leave it alone and let someone who can be bothered help it. A "shelter" is really a death camp. Pets check in but not nearly enough check out!

For those who think that there is no solution but the "final solution" when it comes to unowned pets I ask if they would express the same belief for unwanted children? After all, we have millions of children who are without parents. Many grow up in orphanages or foster care. We have children who have severe health problems, behavioral problems, or other issues that make them difficult to adopt and others who will never be able to live on their own - even as adults. Do you suggest that the solution to this human overpopulation is euthanizing them? If not, then perhaps it is time to think more creatively and morally about companion animals as well.

After all, for many of us our pets are our children. If your son or daughter ran away and couldn't tell child welfare who their parents were - would you want them "put down" to "control the kid population"?

Here are a few stories about how "shelters" operate and how they often murder beloved pets... even as the owners are in another room trying desperately to claim them!

BTW: Did you know many of our "animal shelters" not only engage in their very own version of a "final solution" but also take another page from the humanitarians in the SS? Yes, in many places the top choice in killing dogs and cats is a gas chamber! (see photo above for the gas chamber used in North Carolina shelters.)


Tucson's GLBT Community Center In Peril

From the Tucson Gay Examiner:
In a startling announcement, the Wingspan Community Center Board of Directors announced yesterday that their battles with finances due to the recent economic downturn had reached a head.

Board President Cynthia Garcia announced through an email and Facebook posting that current Executive Director Jason Cianciotta had submitted his resignation in order to save funds and keep the doors of the community center open. Cianciotta has agreed to accept a $1 salary through July 31st in order to assist with the transition.

In addition to Cianciotta's departure, Caz Spring the media relations manager will also be leaving Wingspan.

Both Cianciotta and Springer have been instrumental in forging new ties with groups in the community and rebuilding relationships with both individuals and other non-profits.

In addition to these staff changes, it was announced that Wingspan would be moving from its current location across the street into what is currently the EON Youth Lounge. The move will take place immediately, beginning this morning at 9am. (read more)


The Illusion of Freedom

In America we tend to think we're free. We assume because we don't see the folks who control the national debate throwing us in jail that we somehow are a shining example of freedom.

Yet, this is an illusion. In reality our own government works tireless behind the scenes to insure that we only discuss those things they deem appropriate. They shape our perceptions not with facts and figures and appeals to reason in open debate but rather in the secret rooms where they accept and pass out massive amounts of cash to insure that their "facts" which are often made up out of whole cloth are the ones reported. Recently, huge parties were held in Washington for the members of our Congress who are handling healthcare reform. Massive amounts of money were spent by insurance and hospital lobbyists to get access to them and grease their palms. Meanwhile, the uninsured and underinsured of our nation are made to speak to college interns or send an email whose response is invariably a form letter.

While that graft is bad enough, take the case of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This little gem of a White House group and home to our Pogrom loving "Drug Czar" is charged with opposing any attempts to even study "illicit" drugs that might refute their own propaganda. Any attempt to legalize or even reduce criminal penalties for drug possession is to be opposed by law by this White House group. In other words, we are funding an office within our own government with a huge budget whose sole purpose is to make sure we aren't allowed to exercise our right to change laws!

The latest bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank to remove the draconian penalties at the Federal level for marijuana use is being opposed by this office. They are working hard to pump out misinformation and grease the palms of house members like Arizona's own Gabrielle Giffords. Ms. Giffords has refused to even listen to her constituents on the issue. Her curt and condescending statements on the subject amount to nothing more than a recitation of the prevailing ONDCP lies about marijuana and those who support decriminalization.

But what does ONDCP do for us taxpayers? Mainly, they waste massive amounts of money. Consider the wonderful anti-drug advertisments you see on TV. It's called the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. They've blown millions on their campaign but as evidence points out:
In August 2001, the office told a Congressional committee that its National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign "has been the most visible symbol of the federal government's commitment to drug prevention," and that the office was "investing $7 million a year in performance measurement to determine the effectiveness" of the campaign. The statement by said "We believe there is a strong body of evidence that indicates the campaign is working, as planned, to change drug attitudes, intentions and use." ["National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign: How to Ensure the Program Operates Efficiently and Effectively", Testimony to Congress, August 1, 2]
In 2002, according to a multiyear study by the research firm hired by the office, teenagers exposed to federal anti-drug ads were no less likely to use drugs for having viewed them, and some young girls said they were even more likely to give drugs a try. Walters blamed poor ads that weren't resonating with teenagers. Walters promised in Senate testimony in 2002 that he would show results within a year or admit failure, and Congress agreed to extend the campaign through 2003 while cutting funding for the ads from $170 million in 2002 to $150 million in 2003. An entirely new advertising campaign was created. [Shawn Zeller, "Ads, Drugs & Money", Government Executive magazine, September 19, 2003]
In February 2005, a research company hired by the office and the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that the government's ad campaign aimed at dissuading teens from using marijuana, a campaign that cost $1.4 billion between 1998 and 2006, did not work: "greater exposure to the campaign was associated with weaker anti-drug norms and increases in the perceptions that others use marijuana." The research company was paid $42.7 million for the five-year study. After the February 2005 report was received, the office continued the ad campaign, spending $220 million on the anti-marijuana ads in fiscal years 2005 and 2006. [Ryan Grim, A White House Drug Deal Gone Bad: Sitting on the Negative Results of a Study of Anti-Marijuana Ads, Slate magazine, September 7, 2006]
So, we know that the anti-drug ads are a waste of money. After all, we've all seen them and they're utterly ridiculous. But what else does the ONDCP get up to?
How about actually hijacking our television shows and inserting their propaganda message into them? Yes, that's right. They actually "buy" our TV shows and then require script approval and changes so that they can make sure their propaganda gets distributed. They don't tell the viewer they're distributing misinformation and propaganda. They don't tell the viewer they have changed the scripts and re-written the TV shows to reflect a political agenda. No, they just do it. Even worse the shows seem to go along with it. In fact, it got so bad the FCC actually had to get involved and take the networks to task for participating in the scam. Notice, what I said there - they took the NETWORKS to task. They didn't do anything about ONDCP hijacking the networks with money and muscle because the ONDCP seems to have carte blanche to do whatever it wants as long as it is controlling the national debate!

In the spring of 1998, the ONDCP began to develop an accounting system to decide which network shows would be valued and for how much. Receiving advance copies of scripts, they assigned financial value to each show's anti-drug message. Then they would suggest ways that the networks could increase the payments they would get. The WB network's senior vice president for broadcast standards Rick Mater admitted, "The White House did view scripts. They did sign off on them -- they read scripts, yes."[Prime-time propaganda, January 13, 2000, Salon.com]
Running the campaign for the ONDCP was Alan Levitt, who estimated that between 1998 and 2000 the networks received nearly $25 million in benefits.
One example was with Warner Brothers' show, Smart Guy. The original script portrayed two young people using drugs at a party. Originally depicted as cool and popular, after input from the drug office, "We showed that they were losers and put them [hidden away to indulge in shamed secrecy] in a utility room. That was not in the original script."
Other shows including ER, Beverly Hills 90210, Chicago Hope, The Drew Carey Show and 7th Heaven also put anti-drug messages into their stories.

But what about all us folks out here exercising our right to press for changes to laws? How are the "Drug Czar" and the ONDCP subverting that process?

Well, they're hard at work making sure they stack the deck in their favor.
In December 2002, the Marijuana Policy Project, filed a complaint with the Nevada Secretary of State accusing the Drug Czar John Walters of illegally campaigning against its 2002 ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis in that state. Specifically, MPP argued that Nevada campaign finance laws required the Drug Czar to reveal how much taxpayer money he had spent to defeat the initiative. In April 2003, the Nevada Attorney General concluded that the Drug Czar was not required to comply with Nevada's campaign finance laws. MPP filed a writ of mandamus as an appeal of the decision. The Nevada Supreme Court issued an order declaring that MPP had "set forth issues of arguable merit" in its writ; however, on August 18, 2004, the Court declared that it was "not satisfied that [the] court's intervention by way of extraordinary relief is warranted". ["MPP's first victory in 'War on Drug Czar' campaign is short-lived; Nevada Supreme Court order allows Drug Czar to ignore state campaign finance laws", Marijuana Policy Project]

A February 24, 2005 MPP press release announced that the group had filed similar complaints in Montana, Oregon, and Alaska, accusing the Drug Czar of failing to make legally required campaign expense disclosures:
On October 5, 2004, the drug czar traveled to Oregon for the purpose of opposing Measure 33, a ballot measure designed to expand the state's medical marijuana program. On October 6, ONDCP Deputy Director Scott Burns traveled to Montana to campaign against Initiative 148, the medical marijuana measure passed by voters in November. And on October 13 and 14, Burns traveled to Alaska to oppose Measure 2, a measure to allow the state to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana. All of these trips were widely reported in the local press as being campaign stops in opposition to the reform initiatives.

Controlling the debate and silencing free speech doesn't just end with these egregious abuses of our Civil Rights. No, the ONDCP also engages in "news packaging" for TV stations. See, TV News doesn't like actually having to report on stuff. If you've ever run an LGBT event you know if you're lucky you'll get a camera guy out who will film a few minutes and then a "reporter" will read back parts of your original press release. Rarely will you see a real reporter. So, they love "pre-packaged" news that they can just run without having to actually do much with it.

The ONDCP is more than happy to oblige:
In 2005, the Government Accountability Office found that the ONDCP had violated anti-propaganda laws by preparing prepackaged news stories that did not disclose to television viewers that the government had produced them.[Office of National Drug Control Policy--Video News Release". U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2005-01-04. Retrieved on 2008-09-06>]
According to Susan A. Poling, managing associate general counsel at the GAO, "What is objectionable about these is the fact the viewer has no idea their tax dollars are being used to write and produce this video segment."
ONDCP supporters such as Representatives Tom Davis and Mark Edward Souder have dismissed such criticism on the grounds that the ONDCP is expressly authorized by law to conduct anti-drug media campaigns. [Christopher Lee, "Anti-Drug Office's Videos Defended: Davis Says Ruling That Law Was Violated Is Wrong", Washington Post, February 4, 2005]
YouTube is, of course, the new medium of political discourse and the ONDCP was quick to see the value of it as yet another propaganda medium. Unfortunately, the Goebbels clones forgot the Net is a bit more interactive than scripting TV shows, hijacking local news, and political dirty tricks at election time.

In September 2006, the ONDCP began running anti-drug messages through the YouTube System.[White House Anti-Drug Office Begins Posting Videos on YouTube. Press Release, Office of National Drug Control Policy, September 19, 2006]

In response, many YouTube users began uploading rebuttals and "low-rating" the public service announcements. Consequently, since mid-September 2006, the ONDCP has removed the ability to directly evaluate, rate or comment on any of their messages. Users still post their own responses separately however.

Despite our belief that we are free and are able to have open and honest debates on issues in our country this is an illusion. We actually have offices within our own government who are actively working to make sure we cannot hold a national debate on our drug policy. They are churning out lies and propaganda with our own tax money, buying elections, buying our media, and doing everything in their power to keep us from calling "bullshit" on their activities.

While we'd love to think that President Obama signals a change in this direction, unfortunately, his Drug Czar and head of the evil ONDCP has signalled that he won't be allowing us to talk about this, nor will the ONDCP charged by law with silencing this debate, being going quietly into the good night where it belongs. Instead, people like Gabrielle Giffords who purport to be liberal and patriotic will continue to sign off on their funding and buy into their propaganda dismissing her constituents and hard science out of hand.

Gabrielle, how are you any different from the people who reject hard science on evolution in favor of creationism? You reject the scientific evidence and instead believe the propaganda you are handed by the ONDCP.


Religious Disability

The ACLU announced it had helped with a compromise in a Washington state case regarding "conscience laws" for pharmacists.

One of the big buzzes in the Christian community (because let's be honest it's Christians these are meant to appease) has been the "conscience law" that allows them refuse service if it conflicts with their "religious beliefs."

The ACLU compromise would allow them to continue to pull the "it's against my religion" dodge to refuse to fill prescriptions or otherwise provide health care services to people by saying that they "pharmacist" has no obligation to provide a service that goes against their beliefs but that the "pharmacy" does have an obligation to provide the medication or service.

Hmmm... so, the ACLU is shifting the responsibility from the pharmacist to the business owner or company. The deal would allow pharmacists who want to refuse service to have another pharmacist stand in for them. That way everyone is happy right?

I still can't understand why people go into professions that they know will bring them regularly into conflict with their beliefs. These "conscience laws" are turning religion into a disability whereby "accommodations" must be made by business owners for whatever belief someone has this week. After all, religion is purely a personal choice and there are no hard and fast rules about what is allowed to be a religious belief and what is not.

So, on Facebook I posted a short comment on the ACLU note about this which read: "It's a nice compromise, but I still feel that people who cannot perform their duties because of their 'religion' should find more appropriate employment that does not adversely impact others."

Most of those commenting after me agreed except for one woman who wrote:
"I don't know about that, Buck. Not be able to have a job you love because your faith makes one relatively small part of it problematic seems excessive. Don't get me wrong, I don't quite understand going into this profession if you hold those views so strongly that it affects your job performance - it's like being an observant Hindu cattle trader, to me - but if Orthodox Jews can have their need to be home for Shabbos accommodated (sic) by their place of work (which I support), I'd be a hypocrite to have a problem with accommodating (sic) other faiths, so long as it does not impact the business or the customer."
But the problem with that scenario is that it does impact the business and the customer - or more appropriately the patient. The legal compromise requires that prescriptions be filled in a "timely" manner but does not set out what "timely" means. It also requires that another pharmacist be on duty to provide the service that the "religious" pharmacist will not provide.

So, let's think about that. Say that I buy a pharmacy and I am hiring my pharmacists. Now I must ask them about their religious views because I need to know whether they have "objections" to providing certain services. But, the EEOA says that I can't ask them about their religious beliefs! Oops. Now I have to wait until something comes up and somebody refuses service to a customer.

If I'm a small business and employ only one pharmacist I'm in trouble! I have to provide that prescription in a "timely" manner so I'm going to need to hire another pharmacist tout suite! (yes, that is the correct spelling!) But, how do I know they will fill the prescription and where does one find a pharmacist just hanging out waiting on a job? It's not exactly like pulling up to Home Depot and having some guys jump in the back of the truck.

To be safe, even if I only have the budget to employ one pharmacist I'd need to hire two just in case one decides to go religious on me. That doubles my payroll and causes a big "impact" to my business. More to the point, it causes delays for the customer or patient because anytime the religious pharmacist refuses service I have to call in my backup and have them come in and fill this one prescription. If they're out of town or aren't answering the phone, the customer must wait on their medication.

I know it's very pleasant to think that this is exactly like observant Jews and the Sabbath, but really, it's not. There are not hard and fast rules about medications in scripture. I'm sure you can search the Bible from cover to cover and never find mention of a modern medication. The prohibitions against providing services to people (primarily women) come from personal beliefs rather than religious beliefs. They are simply given the cloak of religion to make them seem more important and to insist that they can never be challenged.

But, honestly, even when it comes to the Sabbath I am of the opinion that if it is that important to you then you should probably seek work in a company or field that shares your religious beliefs. After all, religion should not become a crutch used to force employers, customers, and employees to bend to your personal will.

After all, it would be like me deciding to become a priest then refusing to serve Mass because I don't believe in transubstantiation but demanding I not be removed as a priest because my own religious beliefs conflict with my duties. After all, wouldn't it be just as reasonable to insist they just get another priest to say Mass while letting me continue to draw a paycheck from the church?

Perhaps it is time we were allowed to call "Bullshit" when it comes to religion. After all, why do religious beliefs always get to trump the rights of those who don't share them?


Personal Updates...

It's been over a month since my last somewhat regular post on here. Well, things have been busy in strange ways.

Michael and I began bowling in a league here in Tucson with our friend Jeff. We do that every Thursday now and even went so far as to get bowling balls, shoes, and other accoutrements. It's been a lot of fun and we've even been going on weekends sometimes to practice.

The Day of Decision event went off nicely in May and I was pleased with the turnout and media response. The local police were wonderful in responding to our needs and keeping us safe.

Medical issues seem to be resolved. My insurance finally approved all my meds so I'm not having to stress about that now. I was also switched to a managed Medicare plan that provides better options for co-pays and other benefits. So far I'm happy with it. I've also found a new Primary Care doctor thanks to my best pal Sandy who also works for my GI guy. He's a wonderful guy, very personable, very thorough and has a wonderful way with patients. I'm so happy to have three excellent doctors now!

My docs started me on Norvasc for hypertension a few weeks ago after watching my BP for months. So far I'm not seeing a huge change in the pressures I'm getting at home so they might need to go up a bit next visit, but we'll see.

This Friday I have a consultation with a local hypnotherapist to inquire about treatment for my eating disorder/food phobias. I'm hopeful that it will be something I can do but we'll have to see. I'm a terrible control freak and am not sure if a stranger will be able to hypnotize me. Of course, the cost will also be a factor so I'll have to see about that too.

I am now officially 43... having passed that milestone last week on June 28.

And that's about it... now we're all up to date.

The American Standing Army...

This Independence Day I was again struck by the fact that the celebration of the founding of our nation and the iteration of our national ideals in the Declaration of Independence was once more turned into a military holiday that was little more than a celebration of all things military and violent.

I wrote the following note on my Facebook page. As expected the response from our professional soldiers was to accuse me of everything from not knowing history (my forte is 18th Century politics and Colonial American politics in particular) to suggestions that I "get off (my) ass and volunteer." Needless to say that would not be an option because I am gay.
Last night we went to downtown Tucson for the fireworks. We parked in the lot at the Convention Center where we could hear the music and announcements for the event.

As the time approached for the fireworks, the announcer began to talk about Independence Day and the 233rd "birthday" of the United States. But after one or two words about that he immediately began to talk about our military. He spent several minutes talking about the sacrifices of the military and how this holiday was a celebration of our military "protecting" our freedom. He then led the crowd in a "moment of silence" for "our military heroes."

This was followed by music celebrating our military might. From the themes of our branches of service to a rather maudlin taped speech about our military history that led into, of all things, "America the Beautiful" the overarching theme of the evening was America's military might.

Why is that? Why, across our nation has Independence Day been turned into a military holiday more in line with the old Soviet "May Day" rather than what our Founding Fathers envisioned, a celebration of our love of freedom and liberty? After all, one of the biggest fears of our Founders was a standing army! Yet, not only do we have a standing Army and Navy and Air Force and Marine Corps but we also have a standing military-industrial complex whose well-being and profits trump the welfare of our people.

So, does it make sense that we have turned Independence Day - a celebration meant to remind us of our revolutionary and egalitarian roots into a martial celebration requiring conformity of thought and opinion and tacit approval of all things military including killing, preemptive war, and violence?

I doubt we will ever see a day when our Independence Day is celebrated as the day a small band of visionaries looked at the monarchist model of European government and said "We can do better." I doubt we'll see a return to the celebration of quiet heroism of people willing to create a whole new system of government that radically altered world politics for the remainder of history. I am sure we will not see the day celebrated as the idyllic promise of equality and justice that began in 1776 and still remain unfulfilled today 233 years later.

Instead, we will celebrate militarism. We will celebrate conformity and might. We will harken back to the Middle Ages when might made right. We abandon our Enlightenment Age forefathers (and mothers) who debated the fundamental rights of man in favor of guns, jets, and super-nationalism.

For my part, I'll refuse to allow myself to celebrate Independence Day as a military holiday. I will continue to celebrate the brilliance of those people who laid the foundation of our country and who passed down to us a nation founded not on might and aristocracy but on the principles of equality, justice, and freedom.
So, there you have it. In the comments I even linked to an academic paper on the history of standing armies and why celebrating an army that drains 54% of our national budget annually seems rather strange on Independence Day since that drain means we are continually indebting ourselves to other countries and undermining our own independence.

A new friend on Facebook linked to that paper as well. The response from current members of the military was swift there too. The refrain of "freedom isn't free" was the usual chorus. After all, bumperstickers always make for informed political and historical debate. However, one response struck me particularly. This soldier, who is heavily invested in the "I am a hero and I am protecting you from evil terrorists" mindset said the he "volunteered" to go to "shitholes" and "free them from oppression."

Now, how freeing someone in a foreign land from oppression without their consent is protecting me I have no idea. But beyond that, the brainwashing evident in the past 50 years about our military was evident in the response. The idea that our military is "volunteer" has been used to link the ideal to the original concept of armies at the beginning of our country. However, what we have today is not a "volunteer" army in the historical sense but a professional army of over 3 million people (total) who are assembled for war 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - even when there is no war.

This is the crux of the early debates on standing armies. Originally, armies were to be called up when needed to defend the country. The basis was the militia and during times of war they would be mobilized and a regular army assembled until the crisis had passed. The Founders even limited the ability of Congress to call up the army for two years at a time!

Now, we have a huge force who is always waiting in the wings for war. This force must be constantly supplied and paid for their service. After all, despite the claim of the soldier that he is a "volunteer" he does not forego his pay, his benefits, nor his pension for love of country. In fact, he claims that we should use MORE of our budget to give him MORE benefits and pay. So, he is not a volunteer at all. He is a professional soldier whose career is warfare. In order to justify his job there must be war, there must be threats to "freedom" and we must always be afraid.

Of course, I'm sure he does not consciously realize any of this. He has simply been brainwashed by the miltiary complex and the corporations that now run our military as more or less private security firms for their international interests. Honestly, if Iraq did not have oil would we be there? No, it would be the same disdain we have shown Dafur which is a much bigger humanitarian crisis. It would be the same cold shoulder we have shown Tibet whose people are systematically wiped out by the Chinese government. It would be the same "restraint" we show with North Korea whose people are starving while a nut retains complete control.

Freedom may not be free but that's because there has to be some monetary gain in pretending to grant it. After all, since we "freed" Iraq GLBT Iraqis are being murdered in huge numbers. Meanwhile, our soldiers who "protect freedom" don't seem to notice what is happening under their noses. If it were oil workers do you think for a moment an offensive would not be launched to put an end to the violence?

In the end, we have given up on our enlightenment era skepticism of war in favor of a super-nationalistic state that celebrates all things military. No longer are we allowed to express any opinion that calls into question this militaristic view. While our government might not silence that dissent the brainwashing of the public and military makes it very difficult to express any contrary opinion without reprobation, name calling, and assertions that unless you are a professional soldier you are by definition a "coward." There is no greater censor than a public unwilling to consider debate and unpopular truths.

If our country were invaded tomorrow, I would happily take up arms alongside my neighbors to defend it and not ask a penny. However, defending one's country from invasion is very different from taking up war as a career choice to follow a government blindly into invading foreign countries to secure economic interests. Patriotism is an emotion, it is not a job that pays a 401K.