Speech and Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron, former child star and current subscriber to an apparently particularly uneducated brand of evangelical Christianity, is shocked and appalled that when he makes public statements on a nationally-televised talk show about homosexuality (and thus, the people who are homosexual) being “unnatural” and detrimental to civilization, there are a large number of people who will react to such a public statement by taking it upon themselves to mock him for it. He says:

I should be able to express moral views on social issues, especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years — without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach ‘tolerance’ that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I’m in the public square.

Well, Kirk Cameron, here’s the thing. You are correct when you say you should be able to express your moral views on social issues, and as a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I will defend to the death your right to say whatever ridiculous, ignorant and bigoted thing that has been fermenting in that cracked clay pot you call a brain pan. But the First Amendment also means that when you say such things, other people have the a right to mock you and the silly, stupid words that have dribbled out of your skull through that word hole above your chin. If you call someone “unnatural,” they might call you an “asshole.” That’s the deal.

To put it another way: The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to respect. As I am fond of saying, if you want people to respect your ideas, get better ideas. Likewise, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence. If you’re going to parade around on television engaging in hateful bastardry, then, strangely enough, people will often call you out on it. They may also call you out on the hypocrisy of maintaining that when you say that the way someone else lives is unnatural and detrimental to civilization, you mean it with love, but when they call your words bigoted trollspeak, they’re crossing a line or engaging in slander — the legal concept of which, incidentally, you don’t appear to understand very well, nor libel, which generally speaking is probably more applicable in this case, you crazy public figure, you.

(You’re also wrong about homosexuality being unnatural — birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it! –  not to mention, of course, that the imputation that “unnatural” means “wrong” is one of those stupid things people say when they haven’t thought through the implications of the assertion. I mean, you’re aware television is “unnatural,” right? So are pants. So are eyeglasses, cell phones, indoor plumbing, the Growing Pains complete second season on DVD, and just about any weapon more complicated than a rock. The rule I would like to apply moving forward is that anyone using “unnatural” as an intrinsic reason for something being bad or wrong must commit to a life of Rousseauean simplicity in a location untrammeled by the unnatural accoutrements of human civilization. I recommend the forests of Papua New Guinea or any place in Siberia, so long as it is above the Arctic Circle.)

Kirk Cameron, I fully support your right to speak your mind about moral views. I also fully support the rights of other people to criticize you and those views, and also their right to be mean to you while doing so, and not just because, in my opinion, it’s mean and not in the least bit loving to suggest gays are detrimental and destructive, simply by existing and loving who they choose to love and refusing to accept your desire for them not to be who they are. You’re entitled to your stupid, petty, awful, hateful bigoted opinion. Everyone else is entitled to call it exactly what it is.

672 thoughts on “Speech and Kirk Cameron

  1. To excerpt briefly from Terry Pratchett’s The Fifth Elephant…

    ‘Not natural, in my view, sah. Not in favour of unnatural things.’
    Vetinari looked perplexed. ‘You mean, you eat your meat raw and sleep in a tree?’

  2. As to: “I should be able to express moral views on social issues…”
    I recall Harlan Ellison telling a bigoted idiot, who’d said: “I’m entitled to my opinion…”
    the following maxim, equally applicable here:
    “No, you’re not. You’re only entitled to your INFORMED opinion.”

  3. I love how when people say something stupid they conveniently forget that the 1st Amendment applies to government “abridging the freedom of speech.” As far as I’ve seen, no city, state, or federal government has suggested that Kirk can’t say that gays are unnatural.

  4. Wait a minute. You mean there’s an educated brand of evangelical christianity? That understands science and stuff too? Oh pray do tell us all about it.

  5. Right on! I don’t understand why so many people are under the assumption that the 1st Amendment protects their right to utter whatever nonsense they want, but not protect the right of the rest of us to tell him what an ass he’s being.

  6. Dear Universe,

    Please preserve me from EVER saying anything that might result in post like this directed at me. I doubt I would survive the experience. I know my ego would not.

    Please crucify me instead.

    Alternatively, poor boiling oil on my genitals.

    Or, if you must, fill my ear with fire ants.

    Just don’t tick the Scalzi off!

    Then again, I do try and avoid saying stupid, indefensible, bigoted things aloud.

  7. catfriend:

    In fact, I personally know people who identify as evangelical Christian who are also perfectly good with science and education, and do not see tolerance as conflicting with their love of Christ (and in fact quite the opposite). A love of Christ — or a desire to be evangelical about the same — is not the same as being a reactionary, close-minded bigot.

  8. I like Terry Pratchett’s other quote on the subject of humanity, “unnatural acts are only natural”.

  9. Co-signed. I love this post so much I would like to buy it a gift of chocolates in a heart-shaped box, and perhaps a nice piece of jewelry.

    It *really* bothers me when people equate their freedom to speak with some entitlement to freedom from criticism for so doing. It sometimes makes me frothy.

  10. And, of course, Western civilization has always been against homosexuality. The ancient Greeks and Romans — or, for that matter, medieval monks and nuns — never got it on with their own gender.

    Not to mention that there’s nothing more “natural” than genocide. I definitely think that going back to hitting anyone we’re not related to over the head with rocks is a good idea, don’t you?

  11. And just as “unnatural” is not by any means synonymous with bad, I have often noted that “natural” should not be taken to be synonymous with good. The bubonic plague is natural, so is cobra venom. I personally would rather not have a close encounter with either.

  12. Natural law theorists have a response to “cook meat, wear pants” claim: they mean ‘natural’ in a technical sense of according-to-the-nature-of-a-thing (or, at least, not-against-the-nature-of-a-thing). Of course, they then get to choose which manifestations of a thing count as being according to its nature; in other words, the conclusion gets to choose the ambit of its premises. (A manifestation of what Anthony Flew called “the no true Scotsman” fallacy.) So, that sex in nature clearly performs other functions than procreation still doesn’t count. (Indeed, only counting conception as relevant to procreation is pretty silly, but I refer back to they get to choose which facts count.)

    Such games with definitions are surprisingly common in human thought. Marx’s theory of exploitation rests on it, for example.

    As for First Amendment rights, I refer to a Member of the House of Commons who complained to the Speaker that he could not heard over the noise “I have a right to be heard”. The Speaker replied “you have a right to speak, the House will decide whether it will hear you”.

  13. Lorenzo from Oz:

    “Of course, they then get to choose which manifestations of a thing count as being according to its nature; in other words, the conclusion gets to choose the ambit of its premises.”

    Yes, the “I get to define this out of ignorance to conform to my own prejudices” maneuver.

    I say that’s an unnatural argument.

  14. I don’t think the problem is evangelical Christians. I know plenty of smart Christians.
    I think the problem is really with people who are evangelical about being uneducated. People who say, “I don’t like to learn about things and neither should you.”

  15. As one example – Giraffes:

    From wikipedia:
    Homosexual interactions have also been observed in giraffes. In one study, up to 94 percent of observed mounting incidents took place between males. The proportion of same-sex activities varied from 30–75 percent. Only one percent of same-sex mounting incidents occurred between females.

    Obviously natures law……

  16. To be fair, when he says homosexuality is “unnatural” the reference is (probably at several unconscious removes) to classical Aquinian “natural law” doctrine, in which context what he’s saying actually makes perfect sense if you accept the initial assumptions about how the universe is constituted and functions.

    Not to the common-or-garden contemporary-discourse sense of the word, in which context it -doesn’t- make sense.

    In other words, he may be arguing from philosophical/theological assumptions we secularists disagree with, but he’s not necessarily just being stupid. St. Thomas would fully agree with him, and he’s perfectly right when he says he has a lot of tradition on his side.

    Thomas Jefferson once said the hardest intellectual feat he knew of was “not to despise a man with whom one profoundly disagrees”.

    Treating people politely even when you don’t want to and don’t think they deserve it and when you think they they disrespected you first it is generally a good idea in politics.

    The reason for this is that eventually, if you blart enough bile at them, they’re going to say “sod peaceful argument” and come after you with a pickaxe handle or a gun or a car bomb. That’s just the way human beings are.

    This guy is also expressing the growing resentment of a lot of people who perceive (with a large element of truth) that they’re being treated as if they were a tiny and reluctantly tolerated minority when they’re actually very numerous indeed, because their ideological opponents happen to have (a) a very powerful sense of entitlement and (b) a disproportionate amount of power in academia and the mainstream media.

    Getting that many people -really, really- pissed off… probably not a good idea.

  17. Great post. I loved “The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to respect.” It would also appear to be that the First Amendment only guarantees a right to the free exercise of religion not that everyone else respects your religion.

  18. Bravo. As a straight, married, Christian female (and the sister of a gay man who committed suicide because of whackjobs like this), I am so sick and tired of “Christians” espousing this kind of garbage. I am a Christian, and there are so many of us who do support equal rights for all, and fully love and support #LGBT and do not support or believe in what these fundamentalist “Christians” believe. Their hate filled rhetoric is about the most UNCHRISTIAN-like thing I can think of.

    I’m also sick and tired of reglious nut jobs saying that if I don’t believe all of the ridiculousness from the Old Testament, then I am not a Christian. And just who made them the authority?

    Many of us do have common sense. The bible was written by humans, and while there is really a lot of great stuff in there, like anything else, there are some things that I will just set aside, thank you. You know, the parts about sacrificing your first born, or raping and pillaging women and children. That kind of stuff, mostly because I don’t believe those are God’s words. They are the words of men who even back then looked to control others and used religion to do it. I choose to focus on the “love not judge” parts, and leave it at that!

    Did you see Alan Thicke’s tweet about Kirk Cameron? Alan, of course, was Kirk’s “father” on Growing Pains. He basically said that he was going to buy Kirk more books, because obviously the Old Testament isn’t the answer to everything.

  19. This is why we live in such a great country. Even Idiots have a right to their opinions. If we were in one of the more “enlightened” countries, his opinion might get him put in prison for tampering with the rights of others.

  20. Well said.
    And. may I further add, if god created man and doesn’t make mistakes, where does that leave intersexed folks. As well as current though that gender preference and identity are rooted in DNA.
    If we are all created by and are god’s children, isn’t it hypocracy to deny us our rights?
    Dang, these people are such jerks!

  21. S.M.Stirling–

    If expecting and demading the exact same rights as that majority constitutes a “very powerful sense of entitlement”, then count me in with the entitlement crowd.

    I’m so tired of people claiming that gays want “special rights” when it’s the moral and upstanding straight Christian majority who claimed special rights for themselves. If they hadn’t used their majority vote to put government in charge of who can and cannot get a marriage license (originally done to keep the wrongly-hued folk from marrying white folk), they wouldn’t be in this pickle now.

  22. This guy is also expressing the growing resentment of a lot of people who perceive (with a large element of truth) that they’re being treated as if they were a tiny and reluctantly tolerated minority when they’re actually very numerous indeed, because their ideological opponents happen to have (a) a very powerful sense of entitlement and (b) a disproportionate amount of power in academia and the mainstream media.

    Excuse me? I find it absolutely delightful listening to right-wing Dixie Chicks complaining about how their dissent is being crushed by the liberal media and their socialist-homosexual-Godless agenda… on prime time television. Really, folks, do you have no sense of irony or shame?

    If you want to talk about a toxic sense of entitlement, I’d start with the folks who think Sandra Fluke deserved to be repeatedly called a whore for the unspeakable offense of disagreeing with Rush Limbaugh. Where I come from “unhinged frat boy at a kegger” is not considered a civilized mode of dissent or how a well-bred person talks to or about ANY woman.

  23. ir ideological opponents happen to have (a) a very powerful sense of entitlement and (b) a disproportionate amount of power in academia and the mainstream media.

    Yeah, how dare those folks (a) want to have the same rights as everyone else, and (b) be smart enough to go into intellectually challenging careers and/or make arguments that convince really smart people.

    Bastards.

  24. And yet another bigot learns, the hard way, that the First Amendment does not guarantee your right to No Tagbacks.

  25. @ S.M. Sterling

    Yes, the desire to be treated as equal under the law is such a sense of entitlement, isn’t it? Just like those pesky blacks in the 60s, they were so entitled, they even thought they had the right to go to the same schools as white folks!

  26. This guy is also expressing the growing resentment of a lot of people who perceive (with a large element of truth) that they’re being treated as if they were a tiny and reluctantly tolerated minority when they’re actually very numerous indeed

    What exactly is the “large element of truth” to evangelicals and conservative Catholics being treated as a minority? If you’ve got a list of the actual grievances (as opposed to perceived grievances, cf the lies about being forced to pay for hormonal control), please share them with us.

    because their ideological opponents happen to have (a) a very powerful sense of entitlement and (b) a disproportionate amount of power in academia and the mainstream media.

    I can’t even begin to say how messed up it is where one feels that it’s negative or pejorative for cultural and religious minorities (and those without religion) to feel strongly entitled to having the same rights as everyone else.

  27. Translating Mr. Stirling’s post out of generalities, I get: “Cameron is in the majority with his views, and you liberals with your English departments and your death grip on CNN had better WATCH YOUR MOUTHS, because if you don’t drop your sense of entitlement and show some respect, you’re gonna get a car bomb up in you someday.”

    Have I misread?

  28. S.M. Stirling:

    “what he’s saying actually makes perfect sense if you accept the initial assumptions about how the universe is constituted and functions. ”

    Well, yes. Likewise, his one-time assertion that a banana is evidence of “intelligent design” makes perfect sense if you accept his initial assumptions. However, I’m not obliged to accept his initial assumptions, either on bananas or what constitutes being “unnatural,” nor is anyone else.

    I think it’s obvious that Cameron’s arguing from a doctrinal standpoint; given the history of his public statements on other points of doctrine over the years, and other demonstrations of his intellectual facility on matters theological, however, I’m not 100% convinced they spring from any sort of understanding of the teachings of Aquinas.

    While I agree that polite discourse is often the best, I’m afraid I don’t have much tolerance for the “be nice to this bigot because otherwise he’ll come after you with a pickaxe” argument. One, I imagine you and I disagree considerably on the number of people who are willing to engage in murderous violence short of the actual breakdown of civilization as we know it. Two, genial-faced intolerance such as Cameron’s thrives on the co-operation of those he’s being intolerant toward, and those who are their friends. My guess, which is certainly borne out in recent polling, is that there are more people inclined against such intolerance, and more coming out against it as time goes on.

    Third, the asshole coming after me with a pickaxe because I’m mean is a piss-poor Christian, and I’ll be delighted to recite the 5th chapter of Matthew, verses 38 through 42, to him, possibly after I’ve removed the pickaxe from his grip with my shotgun.

  29. To put it another way: The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to respect.

    Another way to respond to Cameron is that the “public square” is also a free market not private property. You can set up your stall and peddle your wares, but you don’t get a monopoly or any right to cry foul when your competitors strongly assert your product is badly constructed and toxic.

  30. Scalzi @ 2:45
    “They just don’t read poetry first.”

    Yes they do. They just don’t understand it.

    Aaaaaaand I do believe the Kevin Kline trifecta is in play.

  31. Aaargh… Mr. Scalzi, sorry for being a pest but could you delete my formatting FUBAR and I’ll re-post so it can be read without taking a wee fistful of migraine meds first. Thanking you in advance.

  32. @SM Stirling. No one is telling the evangelicals (or anyone else) what they can and cannot do or believe. If someone doesn’t want to believe in evolution, or gay-marriage, no one is forcing them into a same sex marriage, or to recite the epochs of the Earth. What they are being told is they can’t force others to believe and act the same. As long as they respect other’s beliefs, then they will get respect back. Not being allowed to tell other people what to do is not the same as being persecuted. Although, to be fair, that kind of grievance was what put the pilgrims on the Mayflower, being persecuted in Europe by fiendishly not being allowed to dictate to others.

  33. ” if you want people to respect your ideas, get better ideas” — dang, that needs to be on a bumper sticker! (But I don’t own a car — wonder if they’d mind if I stuck it on a bus…)

  34. Thank you for supporting non-wingnut Christians. Unfortunately, even though I am pretty sure we are in the majority of that religious category, the crazy ones are a great deal louder. Perhaps their volume control was thrown out along with their thinking ability.

    I have heard several people credited (blamed?) with the statement “If the English Language was good enough for Jesus and the apostles, it’s good enough for me.” I used to be sure that nobody could be that stupid. After hearing some of the statements coming recently from the religious reich, I am not so sure.

    I suggest that the when referring to the wingnuts, we always spell it “christian” (with the quotes) rather than Christian. For example, a Christian knows that Jesus rarely railed against sin, but had a great deal (all bad) to say about self-righteousness. A “christian” thinks that demanding all the homos and lezzies be locked up is just speaking out of love for their souls.

  35. I can’t even begin to say how messed up it is where one feels that it’s negative or pejorative for cultural and religious minorities (and those without religion) to feel strongly entitled to having the same rights as everyone else.

    I’m also speechless at the idea that the likes of Cameron, Rick Santorum, Maggie Gallagher and the US Catholic Bishops Conference have been driven out of the public square at the business end of a rolled-up homosexual agenda by those God-damned media liberals. They remind me of nothing less ridiculous than an badly socialized only child being thoroughly traumatized on its first play date. “Share – what does that mean?” I guess robust public debate is pretty tough for people with an intense (and unexamined) expectation of unquestioning deference. To use a technical term, widdums.

  36. Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” The teachings of Christ are, in my atheist’s view, sublime and beautiful. If they were followed, the world would be a grand, tolerant place. Mr. Cameron is a bad spokesperson for the teachings of Christ, but he’s a representative sample of some of the louder brands of Christianity.

  37. Nothing profound to add. Just wanted to say what a great post this was, and I hope Kirk Cameron sees it and takes it to heart (although previous experience with such close-minded folks suggests that even if it was tattooed on his forehead he still probably wouldn’t get it).

  38. It always surprises me how much people misunderstand the 1st amendment. All it says is that the government cannot stop me from speaking my mind. It does not guarantee me the ability to say whatever I want whenever I want wherever I want.

    For example, you (Scalzi) can delete my posts and that’s not a first amendment violation because you are not the government. I (the reader) can urge people to boycott your books because of something you said and that’s still not a violation of the first amendment. Even the government can in some cases impose restrictions on your speech in cases where it poses a public danger.

    It’s not really freedom of speech. It’s more “freedom from government censorship as long as you don’t post a major risk to public safety”.

  39. As a Christian myself, I always find it interesting that homosexuality is considered a greater threat to the sanctity of marriage than heterosexuals who marry for a short time or marry based on who they met via a reality show. I don’t remember Mr. Cameron speaking critically of Britney Spears after her 50-hour marriage or the Kardashian who was only married a matter of weeks. It seems to me that heterosexuals who take marriage lightly are a greater threat to the institution than gays and lesbians who want to validate its worth to society by entering into such a relationship.

  40. In fact, the text of the 1st amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” says nothing about guaranteeing your free speech. It simply says government shall make no law abridging your free speech.

    John, my apologies for the double post. Feel free to combine the two if it makes your OCD better. It certainly will improve mine :)

  41. Great post. If you (collectively) haven’t read it, I also suggest China Mieville’s piece about the arguments in Belgium surrounding Tintin au Congo.

    http://www.racialicious.com/2012/03/07/when-did-bigotry-get-so-needy/

    An excerpt:
    “It is depressing to have to point out, yet again, that there is a distinction between having the legal right to say something & having the moral right not to be held accountable for what you say. Being asked to apologise for saying something unconscionable is not the same as being stripped of the legal right to say it. It’s really not very f-cking complicated. Cry ‘free speech’ in such contexts, you are demanding the right to speak any bilge you wish without apology or fear of comeback. You are demanding not legal rights but an end to debate about and criticism of what you say. When did bigotry get so needy?”

  42. “The rule I would like to apply moving forward is that anyone using “unnatural” as an intrinsic reason for something being bad or wrong must commit to a life of Rousseauean simplicity in a location untrammeled by the unnatural accoutrements of human civilization.”

    A correlary to this is the idea that what is “natural” is better, which even leftists tend to go with–but what’s more “natural” than cancer, curare, nightshade, and blowfish toxin?”

  43. Thank you, John, for provoking the following on my Facebook page:

    Hank Schwaeble
    Hank wrote: “Well, I’m in favor of education, too. However, endorsing a statement that stands for the proposition that some people are not entitled to an opinion or to the expression of an opinion on the basis that such an entitlement only applies to “informed” opinions smacks more of being in favor of the old re-education camps than it does actual education.”

    Jonathan Vos Post:
    @ Hank Schwaeble: I think we are talking past each other, with mutual misunderstanding, rather than with each other.
    (1) I am very close to a First Amendment Absolutist;
    (2) I have a number of close relatives who escaped from Nazi concentration camps;
    (3) I have taught between 3,000 and 5,000 students from ages 13 through 93, in middle school, high school, college, university, corporations, government, and se4nior citizen groups;
    (4) I have created over 4,200 publications (including textbooks), presentations, and broadcasts (you may have seen me live on the NBC-TV “Today Show” speaking to 10,000,000 people);
    (5) My 17-year-old web domain gets over 15,000,000 hits/year;
    (6) I took a big pay cut to go into slum schools of predominantly African-American, and of predominantly Hispanic student bodies, and taught many courses in many subjects;
    (7) I think that what I mean by “education” is thus fairly close to the consensus;
    (8) I am not asking that anyone’s speech be censored;
    (9) I am saying that if I find it offensively racist, homophobic, sexist, or based on intentional fraud (such as my student in my Anatomy & Physiology, Biology, or Ecology courses who’d been brainwashed by “Intelligent Design” liars), then I have politely and professionally shown where factual informed documents exist on, respectively, egalitarian, gender-neutral, or neodarwinian synthesis paradigms may be accessed.

  44. It simply says government shall make no law abridging your free speech.

    Quite, and there is no constitutional protection against other people pointing, laughing or opining your argument is made of fresh fecal matter. I don’t think “slander” means what Mr. Cameron thinks it means.

  45. Kirk Cameron: called for learning how to debate such issues “with greater love and respect.”

    Yes, and the first person who could use some schooling on love and respect would be Kirk Cameron.

    Kirk Cameron: homosexuality is “detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization”

    Not feeling the love there, Kirk.

  46. I think what Kirk needs a a visit from the lovely folks at Savage Love. Given the outcome of Mr. Santorum’s visit we can only hope that Savage and his minions can help in Mr. Cameron’s efforts.

    Also, I can’t help but think of Ted Haggard when I hear the bloviations of people like Kirk and the former Pennsylvania Senator. It’s like they have to yell extra loud to make sure everyone knows they are straight when in fact they maybe hiding something.

    That is all.

  47. @mythago: Yes, you correctly parsed the highly unsubtle second-amendment-remedies subtext. Argumentum ad baculum really gets the GOP base stoked these days. Is it wrong that a small, very dark part of me absolutely lives for the day the wingnuts hoist the Jolly Roger?

  48. MthGeek:

    Also, I can’t help but think of Ted Haggard when I hear the bloviations of people like Kirk and the former Pennsylvania Senator. It’s like they have to yell extra loud to make sure everyone knows they are straight when in fact they maybe hiding something.

    You know something, I really don’t like that line at all. Mostly because it’s damn close to the nasty shit that gets thrown at straight allies of marriage equality or GLBT equality (especially if they happen to be unmarried or childless, nudge nudge wink wink) — ’cause only queers could possibly be on board with the “radical homosexual agenda”, right? It would be really nice if homophobia would just vanish from the Earth if everyone came out, but that’s not the world I live in.

  49. …freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence.

    I am constantly amazed at how many people don’t get this. All the first amendment guarantees is that you won’t go to jail for speaking your mind. Beyond that, you’re on your own, you rugged individualist, you.

  50. Personally, I won’t leave them the rocks either, bot otherwise well said sir

  51. Thank you. There is no right to consequence-free speech. You wouldn’t think that would be such a difficult concept, and yet…

    I have noticed that people who work in media where the audience doesn’t generally get to talk back sometimes find it difficult to remember that these days, that’s a waning phenomenon. Twenty years ago, if some actor said something that upset you, you wrote a letter to the editor, which they could choose to not run, or you wrote to the actor, which their agent might or might not pass on, and to which they almost certainly would not reply, and that would be the end of that. I’m sure that was the cushy life, for people who want to use their fame to broadcast bigoted statements unchallenged. However, that’s really not how it is anymore, and the sooner that fact is really absorbed in some quarters, the better.

  52. Here’s a transcript of Robocall from the second in line for Republican Presidential nomination, to Ohio voters

    If you believe as we do that marriage and sexuality should only be between a man and a woman, please help us stop Mitt Romney. As Governor, Romney signed “Gay Youth Pride Day” declarations, promoted homosexuality in our elementary schools, and unconstitutionally ordered state officials to make Massachusetts America’s first same-sex marriage state. Romney supports open homosexuality in the military, the appointment of homosexual judges, and the ENDA law, making it illegal to fire a man who wears a dress and high heels to work, even if he’s your kid’s teacher.

    When you vote tomorrow, please vote for social sanity and Rick Santorum, NOT for homosexuality and Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum is the ONLY candidate who can be trusted to uphold traditional marriage, a straight military, and the rights of American children to have both a mother and a father.

    That’s right, one of the Republican front runners for President actually got out to vote on a message of firing out gay teachers. So, when I talk about people already coming at us with pickaxes, this is an example. Another example is the fact that LGBT people suffer more hate crimes per capita than any other group in America.

    They keep LITERALLY attacking us. So, when someone talks about how badly the poooooor victims of John’s scathing wit are going to feel, and we might want to worry that they might get violent, I gotta wonder if they really care at all about the massive literally physical attacks LGBT people suffer on a regular basis.

    Those gay bashers don’t just grow out of nowhere. They’re fueled by hate, and allowed to flourish by a supreme TOLERANCE for hate. The idea that haters are somehow feeling under attack, while the feeling might be true, the reality is the opposite.

    And the people defending them, like SM Stirling, are complicit in maintaining the myth that they really have some reasons to push back. Because their opponents happen to have (a) a very powerful sense of entitlement and (b) a disproportionate amount of power in academia and the mainstream media.? Seriously? If you were talking about the Jewish side of my heritage, I know exactly who you’d sound like.

    Pat Buchanan.

    Oh, wait, actually, Pat says that about gays and Jews.

  53. Some key pointers about the first amendment to the constitution of the USA:

    1) It only applies to the US government. In fact, this is pretty much accurate for the entire US constitution as a whole, because the constitution is a document which sets down limits on the powers of government for the United States of America. Yes, this means that individuals are quite within their rights to tell you that on their private property, or in their private space, you’re not allowed to speak of certain things, and also eject you from their private space should you continue to do so.

    2) It only applies to the US government. This means it doesn’t apply to governments of nations outside the United States of America. Your “freedom of speech” only exists within the borders of the USA, and even then only if you’re a citizen of the United States of America. It isn’t a global thing. This makes “freedom of speech” something which doesn’t typically apply on the internet (or at least not on the bits of it which aren’t marked *.gov or *.mil).

    3) It only applies to the US government on certain subjects.

    4) Yes, you have freedom to speak. This doesn’t mean that other people are compelled to listen. It certainly doesn’t mean that other people are compelled to listen and agree. If you get up on your soapbox in the public square and say something which offends the crowd, the crowd is fully within their rights to ignore you, to jeer, and to disagree volubly. Throwing rotten tomatoes or eggs counts as assault – they’re not legally allowed to do that – but throwing words just counts as disagreement. Calling you bigoted, nasty, or small-minded is merely an expression of opinion, which as I understand it is free speech on the same level as your soapbox speech in the first place.

    5) Some things which are “natural”: arsenic (it’s even green!); the vast range of virii and bacteria which cause diseases in humans; the venom of every poisonous snake in Australia; red-backed spider venom; magpie “swooping” behaviour; hurricanes; droughts; floods; fires; earthquakes; deathcap fungi; the vast range of plants which are poisonous when ingested; all predatory animals; large aggressive quadrupeds; and death. “Natural” is not automatically synonymous with “good”, neither is “unnatural” synonymous with “bad”. (Actually, back in the 1500s, “natural” used to be a term meaning what’s now known as “developmentally delayed”).

  54. As an American, I am not opposed to gay marriage. As a Christian, I disagree with the practice. There is nothing about gay marriage in the constitution, and those who are not Christian should be allowed to marry.

    As a Christian, I am genuinely fearful for those who have not accepted Jesus as lord and savior. Also, I am fearful for those who do not wish to be forgiven from sin, turn from sin, and walk the path of Jesus. Homosexuality (the behavior) is a form of sin. The Old Testament is not the only place where homosexual behavior is said to be sin. Look at Romans 1:23-27 (That is also where one can find the usage of “natural” that Kirk was using.), 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.

    However, I also believe that any Christian who would not accept a gay man or woman into his house, dine with them, and try to tactfully share the gospel, is not following His path. (Jesus preferred the company of sinners if I remember correctly.)

    He probably should have expected mocking. Rule number 1 in public speaking is “consider your audience”. Most Americans have not studied The Bible- including many who call themselves Christian, and far too many people act out of hatred- including, again, self-professed Christians. A wise man once said “…you don’t have to be religious to appreciate the Sermon on the Mount.”

    Personally, I believe that Kirk Cameron was commenting on the behavior, not those who practice it.

  55. I’ll note after Zach’s comment that I don’t want us to get sidetracked into a long discussion here of what the Bible has to say (or not say) regarding homosexuality. I’ll go ahead and post this, which is a quick alternative commentary on the matter, and then say that for the purposes of this thread, let’s stay on focus regarding the topic on hand. Thanks.

  56. Many years ago I adopted this observation from Hubert Humphrey as my signature tag on rec.arts.sf.written:

    “The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”

    I am glad to see JS carrying the banner onwards…

  57. John, it’s times like this when I just wanna give you a big ol’ smooch.

    Your attitude on this topic is deep-fried awesome with a side of awesome sauce for dipping.

  58. John, just to clarify, when I said “people don’t understand the 1st amendment” I wasn’t referring to you. That was more of a reference to some of the arguments I’ve heard Cameron make.

  59. @ Cairsten 20 years ago huh? things happen faster now, but even over thirty years ago this sort of babble could destroy a career. To wit ask Anita Bryant how she destoryed her income base in the late 70′s by taking the bigoted line, and then again in the later 80′s I believe for Donnor Summer being bigoted against the very people buying her music. In both cases organized public campaigns were launched in response. What’s really different today is the speed and ease with which the response can be launched. both Kirk Cameron and Ruch Limbaugh have discovered that social media can topple more than just dictators.

  60. Loved the post. People’s understanding of “free speech” is most often completely wrong. They think it means they can say whatever they want, and other people can’t criticize them because they were just exercising their right to free speech.

    As always, you nailed it.

  61. Zach:

    Personally, I believe that Kirk Cameron was commenting on the behavior, not those who practice it.

    Personally, I’m amused that’s a semantic split end evangelicals like Cameron weren’t willing to allow folks like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins when they characterized religion as a form of psychosis. Just saying…

  62. @JJS

    I have known people who say they say “supper” instead of “dinner,” because that was what Jesus called it.

  63. I generally don’t care what entertainers have to say regarding important issues. Just shut up and act… or sing.

  64. “I generally don’t care what entertainers have to say regarding important issues. Just shut up and act… or sing.” I agree 100%, but too many people do look up to their celebs and let their opinions be shaped. It happens here to be honest.

  65. I find Kirk Cameron unnatural.

    As others have stated, you don’t hear him gnashing his teeth about fly-by-night heterosexual marriages that don’t even last long enough for the ink to dry on the marriage license. But gay couples who’ve been together 20/30/40/50 years are a threat to the institution? Really?

    I’ve always loathed people who spout off their stupid, hateful ideas and then cry “Foul!” when other folks verbally smack them upside the head. What an idiot.

  66. And also, just because “unnatural” ! –> “wrong” doesn’t mean that “natural” –> “right”

    i.e. just because the birds and bees do it has no effect on it’s moral standing. Many animals murder, for example, doesn’t make it right.

  67. Bravo. As a friend of mine once put it: “I am not required to respect your opinion, merely your right to have it.”

  68. How does playing Mike Seaver on a lame Family Ties wannabe three decades ago give you a platform to say anything to anyone about anything? More importantly, what does that kid from the Hogan Family think of homosexuality? I have to know!

  69. Jerry Mahoney,

    I guess we’re more interested in the equally lame political opinions of the guy who played a child adopted by the Seavers on a lame Family Ties Wannbe.

    Look it up

  70. i.e. just because the birds and bees do it has no effect on it’s moral standing. Many animals murder, for example, doesn’t make it right.

    No it doesn’t, Scorpius. But without wanting to get into the Biblical exegesis our host has asked us to avoid, I am endlessly delighted by evangelical homophobes who love to quote that verse from Leviticus, but can’t change the subject fast enough when you ask if they observe strict kosher and regard menstruating women as unclean. Situational Biblical ethics – the gift that never stops giving.

  71. Just FYI, for Evangelicals Gay Marriage isn’t even in the top 10 of issues.

    http://www.beliefnet.com/News/Politics/2008/01/Beliefnet-Poll-Evangelicals-Still-Conservative-But-Defy-Issue-Stereotypes.aspx

    Other things like: ending torture, ending poverty, ending the war in Iraq, Protecting the environment, cleaning up government and Improving public education/access to health care beat it out.

    Once again I’m struck by how the Evangelicals parallel the Liberals on most major issues.

    Maybe you all will want to tell people like Mahr to “shut it” when he mindlessly denounces Evangelical Christians, they could be allies.

  72. Logan:

    In my experience that’s a regionalism; I say “supper” for the evening meal and “lunch” for the noon meal, but I’ve known others who will call one or the other dinner, though it seems more common for the evening meal to be called that.

    I’m decidedly /not/ religious.

  73. “of their issues”. Damn lack of proofreading ability and a exhausting day of Statistics is ruining my grammar.

  74. Kevin:

    I’m from south eastern New Mexico (come from a family of ranchers and oil field workers) and I also say “supper” instead of “dinner.”

    I mean these people literally told me they say “supper” because that is what Jesus used.

  75. Scorpius:

    Yes, an online poll (i.e. not random, and biased toward those with computer access) with few enough responses to have fairly wide error bars, and they /still/ came up with 50% of them thinking gay marriage was a major threat to the country.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to prove there, but it doesn’t seem to have as much to do with reality as you’d like us to believe.

    Give us a better poll (better yet two or three) and we’ll at least have something to discuss.

  76. Logan:

    I’d be so tempted to be snarky and ask them if they use Aramaic at home since that was the language of Jesus.

  77. “(a) a very powerful sense of entitlement and (b) a disproportionate amount of power in academia and the mainstream media.”

    In other words, evangelicals and dominionists?

    “sense of entitlement”: You mean, like the belief that the dictates and doctrines of *their* particular imaginary friend or self-selected intermediaries (USCCB?) ought to be not only endorsed but adopted as law by Congress, to the exclusion of others, in violation of the 1st Amemdment (and Romans 10:2-3)?

    “disproportionate amount of power in academia”: Try getting your local K-12 to speak facts about sex, or even evolution, and you’ll get any number of pro-ignorance penis idolaters crawling out of the woodwork and demand that *their* rituals and facts be presented as “truth”, to the exclusion of others, despite the volume of evidence to the contrary.

    “and the mainstream media”: Brent Bozell. Look him up. It’s his Media Research Center et al. and their decency brigades that make quite sure the FCC knows about every nipple slip, every “dirty word”.

    I’m pretty sure that Jesus would tell these modern-day showboats to STFU. Oh wait he did (Matt 6:5-6). You know, there’s two verses that Cameron, Tebow and every other hypochristian ought to answer to.

  78. @John sorry for digressing so much. I would enjoy talking to you some day about theology in person. That is if my brain calms down from “Squeeeeeeee… It’s John Scalzi!” mode quick enough.

  79. Thanks for writing this John. I was glad I wasn’t drinking when I read this, is all I’ll say about your ability to make me LOL.

  80. That is one of my favorite tactics by the right 1) Say something stupid and/or hateful. 2) When called on it complain you are being censored or repressed when all people are really doing is talking about you.

  81. KEvin,

    Well, Gallup did the poll. And please read the results before you go blaring your mouth, it didn’t say Evangelicals think “gay marriage was a major threat to the country”, but that they want it stopped.

    Anyhow, they’re called (repeat after me) “confidence intervals” not “error bars”.

  82. Can Kirk Cameron be considered an “entertainer” anymore? Since 2000, he has 10 credits to his name. 2 are for playing Mike Seaver, 3 for playing “Buck” Williams. Beyond that he has two TV guest shots (the last was 2002), that masturbating firefighter flick, and a cameo in a made-for-TV movie, and now this pearl-clutching documentary he’s hocking.

  83. @Craig Ranapia what exactly do you mean by “evangelicals like Cameron”? Also, which event are you talking about?

  84. Kevin:

    I’m always tempted to say something, but if someone believes Jesus spoke English, I don’t think you are going to be be able to have a rational argument with them.

  85. I disagree, John. A rock IS an unnatural weapon as it’s meant to just lie there and take up space. It is not designed to cave in the skull of the unfortunate primate it’s hurled at by another primate with a bad attitude.

    But the rest of it… Yeah. You nailed it.

  86. Do the Math!

    “Adaptive networks consist of a collection of agents with adaptation and learning abilities. The agents interact with each other on a local level and diffuse information across the network through their collaborations. In this work, we consider two types of agents: informed agents and uninformed agents….”

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.1524

    from that abstract page, you can download the full, free PDF of the paper.

  87. Scorpius Maybe you all will want to tell people like Mahr to “shut it” when he mindlessly denounces Evangelical Christians, they could be allies.

    No, they, as a political force, would still be calling me an abomination, trying to intimate I’m a pedophile to encourage gay bashing, and trying to make it so the law gives cover to anyone who fires me because I am who I am.

  88. John…I can’t thank you enough for this. You have no idea how much this means to me.

    Think you do? Multiply by 1000. And you’re still underestimating.

    Amen. So mote it be. So say we all. Aché.

    S. M. Stirling: To be fair, Thomas Aquinas was also a fucking asshole who made up his own idea of what nature should be and then drew all kinds of conclusions from it, just as if his invented notion of nature was somehow real.

    Aquinas is also the guy who said that if you believed everything the Church believed, but believed it out of personal conviction instead of obedience, you were still a heretic. An intellectual fascist, in other words.

    So yeah, he’s not “just being stupid.” He’s being stupid by quoting someone else who was stupid a long time ago. Defending him on these grounds is like defending an anti-Semite because he quotes Nietsche.

    Jonathan: ‘Hypochristian’ is going in my lexicon as fast as I can get the serial numbers filed off. Thanks!

  89. I like to read posts like this to remind me of the kind of person I used to be. I was once such a bigot. Science fiction, reason, and realizing my beliefs were harmful to my fellow human is what finally turned me around.

    Thank you, John.

  90. True, but you don’t have to be a blathering idiot to be called mean names. As the recent Limbaugh Idiocy points out. The beauty of free speech – any one can do it. Although some people do it better than others.

    I like to think that the war of insults is far better than the war of implements, (whether rocks to rocket launchers) – insults are the way to go.

  91. Perfectly articulated Mr. Scalzi, as usual.m

    I am consistently reminded of how the Right in this country has managed to persuade a large segment of our population that they can have their cake and eat it too. Want a war? No problem, no new taxes. Want to speak your sick perverted mind? No problem, we won’t say anything.

    There are few things more consistent than how the spokespeople of the Right believe in free speech…..for themselves.

  92. Actors and other entertainers catch a lot of flack for being involved in issues which are important to them. I don’t get that: an entertainer is not necessarily less informed per se than any other professional, and some take the time and make the effort to become very well informed, indeed.

    I can disagree with what an entertainer says about issues – and in this case, I do; quite strongly – without saying that because they’re an entertainer their opinion is therefore worthless. No: Cameron’s opinion is bigoted, ignorant, and hurtful on its own merits, not because it’s the opinion of an actor.

  93. So very correct. The first amendment purpose is to encourage debate and support one’s right to state one’s opinion whether it be inspirational or ridiculous. Better that racist, sexist, bigots and jerks have to opportumity to express themselves, it permits the chance for such ideas to be challenged.

    Well said John, those that want to use the power of the state to enforce their theocratic veiws need to be challenged.

  94. Scorpius: it didn’t say Evangelicals think “gay marriage was a major threat to the country”, but that they want it stopped.

    I’m not sure what you’re saying…. that the important point we’re all missing is they’re not doing out of anger?

    Personally, I think the important point is they want to stop gay marriage. I don’t care if they’ve got love in their hearts, a song on their lips, and ponies named Buttercup in their garages, the important bit, the only bit that really matters, is they want to maintain bigotry in the law.

  95. Uh…didn’t SM Stirling write a trilogy featuring a lesbian couple who are in either a marriage or something very much like it? Or did I dream this?

  96. @Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette) , that’s the moment I laughed out loud, too.
    “I mean, you’re aware television is “unnatural,” right? So are pants. So are eyeglasses, cell phones, indoor plumbing, the Growing Pains complete second season on DVD, and just about any weapon more complicated than a rock.”
    Made me laugh right out loud. Thank you, John, for brightening my day.

  97. It’s been a bad day for me; coming here, finding an idiot demanding to be roasted and your doing such a splendid job of it for him, has brought a smile to my face. Thank you, Scalzi.

  98. OT: Thanks for warning be about your unwritten novel, “The High Castle”. I just added it to my LibraryThing booklist. So that makes three of us.

  99. Approximate quote by someone I read once (I recall it being one of the Grand Masters of Science Fiction, but I may well be wrong): “The only ‘unnatural’ act is the one you can’t do’.

    Heinlein, maybe?

  100. For certain individuals like Cameron, free speech means their free speech, but not anyone who criticizes them. The technical term is double-standard or, the universe revolves around me, whaaaaaa!!!

    @ Craig Ranapia

    I find it absolutely delightful listening to right-wing Dixie Chicks complaining about how their dissent is being crushed by the liberal media and their socialist-homosexual-Godless agenda… on prime time television.

    I was under the impression that the Dixie Chicks took a bunch of flak for denouncing right-wing politics. Fortunately their music is…not to my taste, so I don’t mind knowing information about them. Or Kirk Cameron for that matter. Saw a couple episodes of Growing Pains as a kid and it was an excellent sedative.

    @ CrypticMirror

    No one is telling the evangelicals (or anyone else) what they can and cannot do or believe. If someone doesn’t want to believe in evolution, or gay-marriage, no one is forcing them into a same sex marriage, or to recite the epochs of the Earth.

    I must concede to taking a certain delight in watching fundies squirm and rail against a world that doesn’t conform to their situationally selective literalist interpretations of their religious texts; that goes for fundies of any stripe, not just “Christian” fundies. One of my recurring fantasies is to drop Fred Phelps & flock off in the Sunni Triangle and sit back with a bowl of popcorn. Alas, I was born quite heterosexual, so I look forward to transhumanism exploding the boundary conditions for what is human and, I live in hope, giving every fundie instant heart failure.

    @ Michael Johnston

    A correlary to this is the idea that what is “natural” is better, which even leftists tend to go with–but what’s more “natural” than cancer, curare, nightshade, and blowfish toxin?”

    I think this may be another example of the loudest minority tarnishing the majority. The fact that hypocritical luddites and primitivists yearning (but rarely ever practicing) for a golden age that never existed (not unlike a few conservatives) happen to get the most press hardly indicates that hidebound, ignorance-embracing, back-to-nature scientifically-illiterate morons exemplify the tendencies of leftists in general. They just cause the most controversy, and controversy sells ads, so they get the loudest megaphone whatever side their nominally on.

    @ Xopher HalfTongue

    Defending him on these grounds is like defending an anti-Semite because he quotes Nietsche.

    Hay! Nietzsche, unlike that mental dwarf Aquinas, wrote a lot of excellent philosophy. It’s not his fault his sister was an anti-Semitic wackjob and Hitler endorsed him without ever reading a word he wrote.

  101. @Megpie71:

    One quibble: The First Amendment also applies to state governments within the US. This was not always the case, but is a consequence of the 14th Amendment and the incorporation cases. Many people are still steamed about this, but that is another story.

  102. Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ walked upon this Earth loving, teaching…healing many with compassion for mankind. His purpose was to bridge the gap between God and all humans that have come into this world by yielding His life for us on the cross. No other love is so great. He never sinned nor spoke any wrong, but was unjustly accused without reproach. God’s infallible Word is THE Truth that sets the standard, not the thoughts or deeds of men. As said in Romans 1:24-27, you’ll see how God views homosexuality.

  103. Evelyn, you apparently think the joint of your arm is your ass, while the upper part of your leg upon which you sit is your elbow. Go do a little scholarship before coming here and parrotting stupid bullshit. Actually, I think there’s probably a lake somewhere that would love to have you jump in it.

  104. @ Xopher HalfTongue

    No worries, it’s a very German name. I was having a bit of a tongue-in-cheek fanboy moment because a good chunk of my philosophy is based on parts of Beyond Good and Evil. But there’s a few things to criticize in Nietzsche’s writings too. Nor are all his books consistent. Some of his earlier writings directly contradict stuff he penned later. He demonstrated too much intelligence not to notice, and is too dead to ask, but from reading most of his œuvre, I suspect he was mainly interested in philosophy for philosophy’s sake rather than interested in forming an ideology, and didn’t mind if it didn’t all add up into a neat unitary doctrine. Aquinas was out to justify medieval Catholic doctrine by whatever spurious reasoning he could pass off on those that want to believe, so you hit that nail square on the head.

  105. From ellid: “Didn’t SM Stirling write a trilogy featuring a lesbian couple who are in either a marriage or something very much like it? Or did I dream this?”

    Is that the “Island on the Sea of Time” series? I believe there is a lesbian couple in that one. In his Draka series, every female character is at least bisexual, with more leaning to 80/20 lesbian/straight; dominant lesbians seem to be a recurrent character feature/fantasy for Mr. Stirling.

    Was he just playing “devil’s advocate” to defend Kirk Cameron’s hate speech, or does he genuinely believe that the “liberal” media and the “uppity” homosexuals have demonized Christians with their “agenda”? If so, then I’m disappointed. I’m a fan of alternate history, and Mr. Stirling was one of my favorites of the genre, but if he sincerely believes what he posted here, I will never buy another one of his books again. Is that infringing on his freedom of speech? No, it’s just the free-market consequence of it.

  106. I haven’t read any Stirling (and I rather think I will remain in that state), but “every female character is at least bisexual” sounds an awful lot like the common fantasy of heterosexual males to get to watch two women together. It doesn’t in any way indicate a lack of homophobia, oddly enough. In fact, in my experience it goes with misogyny as well.

    Men are strange creatures. Yes, even I am strange, but not in THAT way, thank gods.

  107. Craig: Excuse me? I find it absolutely delightful listening to right-wing Dixie Chicks complaining about how their dissent is being crushed by the liberal media and their socialist-homosexual-Godless agenda… on prime time television. Really, folks, do you have no sense of irony or shame?

    Huh? Wikipedia says the dixie chicks donated a song to a two disk set supporting marriage freedom regardless of orientation. It would be odd that they used homosexual as an insult.

    What I have heard them complain about was the more fickle of their fans who bailed on them for political reasons and they complained some country musicians attacked them to sell their own records.

  108. @ Jonah

    S.M. Stirling’s first post in this thread I read as basically boiling down to

    1. These people are no small minority and they’re fighting for the status quo.
    2. Their opponents – and by we secularists I’ll give Stirling the benefit of the doubt (because I like to do that) and assume he counts himself among those opponents – believe anti-gay homophobes are a small minority who they only deign to tolerate.
    3. Don’t treat opponents with contempt even if you think they deserve it.
    4. It’s wisest to handle angry humans with kid gloves.

    #1 is correct in so far as it goes, but is rather a statement of the obvious.
    #2 strikes me as baseless (most LGBT activists and their allies know full well what we’re up against).
    #3 is sometimes advisable, but sometimes a homophobic asshole needs to be called a spade, particularly when said HA is trying to claim the moral high ground by pretending they’re being more civilized than their critics.
    #4 is just bad advice. It assume humans are prone to go a lynching at the drop of an angry word or ten, and it assume the best way to deal with hostility to one’s liberty is to remain passive until the opposition is goaded into violence.

    YMMV

    @ Xopher HalfTongue

    Not wanting to be crude, but are you saying you think it’s misogynistic to be aroused by members of the opposite sex engaging in sex whether they’re engaging in heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual sex? Because, to be frank, you seem a lot more enlightened than that, leaving me wondering where I misunderstood.

    Men are strange creatures.

    Well, aside from taking slight exception to the suggestion that I was “created”, thank you; strange is interesting, ordinary is boring :D

    @ Greg

    Wikipedia says the dixie chicks donated a song to a two disk set supporting marriage freedom regardless of orientation.

    Perhaps I should give them another listen.

  109. Huh? Wikipedia says the dixie chicks donated a song to a two disk set supporting marriage freedom regardless of orientation. It would be odd that they used homosexual as an insult.

    Greg et. al. *sigh* Sorry, but back in the day I really found it hard to feel much sympathy for Maines complaining in a free and open press that her dissent was being crushed by people… well, dissenting from her views in ways that may not have always been pleasant but were in the overwhelming majority of cases peaceful and law-abiding. (And just for the record, I don’t consider death or rape threats “peaceful and law-abiding dissent”. Shame it needs to be said, but still…)

    I still use ‘Dixie Chicking” to describe folks who bleat that their freedom is being suppressed during widely-distributed press ops, but if people don’t get the allusion to pop culture abusrdity almost a decade ago that’s not unreasonable.

  110. Well said – very well said – but not quite up to the level of Molly Ivins yet (the phrases “pissant” and “morals of an adolescent fire ant” are noticeably absent here. Nonetheless, it makes me happy when I read the kinds of things, like this post, that say the things Molly would be saying if she were still with us.

  111. Oh, Bravo, Mr. Scalzi – you have said every perfect thing in response to this kind of hateful speech and the accompanying outrage when people respond with disrespect for that opinion. I believe it’s part of what is wrong with society in general: somewhere along the line people have come to believe that they should not have consequences for their behaviors. It is their right to behave badly and simply say a reluctant “sorry” when someone pushes back. Nope. That’s not how it works. More of us have to call people like Kirk Cameron out. I wish I could do it as eloquently as you have here. Thank you!

  112. @Jonah – thank you for confirming my memory. That’s what makes me scratch my head at his post, since I recall that one of the couple was a Navy officer who’d been closeted and had had a bad marriage to a man to keep her career. What is going on?????

    As for Stirling’s peculiar statement that non-haters should be nice and polite and not challenge the likes of Kirk Cameron (or Michelle Bachman, or Rick Santorum, or Tony Perkins, or that odious bigot Maggie Gallagher) because they might get mad and fight back – that is frankly the stupidest thing I’ve read in quite some time. First, letting the bigots spew their lies and restrict the rights of their fellow Americans only perpetuates the misery and the abuse endured by LGBT Americans every single day of their lives. Second, I hate to point this out to someone who’s made his living writing alternate history, and thus presumably has read some history books, but if women hadn’t spoken up in the face of abuse and rage, or blacks, or Asians, or Jews, or urban Catholics, or Hispanics, or any other non-white, non-male, non-rich group in American history, well, America would be a pretty horrible place for anyone who wasn’t male, rich, and Protestant Why are you advocating the same for LGBT Americans?

  113. God’s infallible Word is THE Truth

    I have Loki on line 2 for you. Also, some voicemail form Maya, email from Coyote (don’t click on the attachments – might be malware) and a singing telegram from Ananansi.

  114. WTF are you doing calling up Loki, even to sic him on someone else? Now he has your phone number. That never ends well.

  115. Evelyn McKean:

    “God’s infallible Word is THE Truth that sets the standard, not the thoughts or deeds of men.”

    No, it’s not.

    There, that argument disposed of, with, I should note, as much evidence for the assertion as Ms. McKean provided.

    Also, Ms. McKean, you’re setting yourself to drift off topic in a manner I suggested that I didn’t want to see. Please pay attention. Thank you.

    Xopher:

    In response to Ms. McKean, you probably could have found a more tactful way to express your disapproval. Please try to do so in the future, with her and others who may assert such similar things.

  116. [Deleted for the tired trick of announcing he doesn't care if people are gay and then indulging in appallingly stupid homophobia. Nice try, Thomas! Do it somewhere else -- JS]

  117. U shur rite purrty! Damn that was nicely done, thanks again.

    It just amazes me that people think they can say the most bigoted things and when called out on it play all hurt because they other side is being intolerant. Damn right I want people to be intolerant of intolerance! If Mr. Banana claimed that black people are not natural and only got that way because of the sins of Cain (a ‘truth’ supported by the infallible word of God) he could expect the fire of condemnation would fall on him fast & hard. If he demanded women to separate themselves during the “unclean” times or that people should not be allowed to wear clothes of blended fibers or eat oysters or forgive all debts every 7 years or marry their dead brothers wife and have children by her he would be laughed at almost universally. Public displays of stupidity should be their own punishment and bigotry is the stupidest, it deserves no tolerance.

  118. My father, who is Serbian Orthodox, has espoused very similar outrage as Mr. Cameron. I’m going to point him to your article the next time he does so.

    I’d like to add to your very adroit post another dictum: If you disparage a group of people and then claim, in your defense, that you have friends who members of that group of people, then you should have to produce said friends on the spot, prove that they are members of that group, and then have them back up your assertion that they are your friend, and that they respect you and agree with your assertions.

  119. I’m an atheist myself, but if you’d like to read a blog by an intelligent, learned and seriously unbigoted Evangelical Christian, I recommend Fred Clark’s Slacktivist. (If you have the time, read what is probably the longest book review in history, his teardown of Left Behind.)

  120. Just watched the performed, edited transcript of the case against Prop 8 (don’t start it unless you’ve got two hours and a hanky) (Damn you, Rob Reiner). The most striking thing about the case was how the defense of Prop 8 was reduced to: I have no proof, but I don’t need any proof to tell me that my prejudices are correct.

    Which is all any argument against gay marriage is. It’s sometimes difficult to understand that your ingrained beliefs are wrong. It’s hard, and for that I have some sympathy with people who’ve been told that homosexuality is “unnatural.” It takes courage to see past your upbringing. I’m sorry for Kirk Cameron that he can’t see love and bravery. I’m not sorry to smack him upside the head for being such a pusillanimous, disingenuous little worm when it comes to others pointing out that he’s wrong.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=qlUG8F9uVgM#t=1790s

  121. It is refreshing to see that so many people here see the benefit of free speech (vilifying Cameron and by extension christianity) that Mr. Cameron gets to enjoy (vilifying gays).

  122. This post is just one more reason that I may become your stalker. Bravo. What people like Cameron need to remember is Just because you CAN say something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD say it.

  123. Decisions, decisions… I already said today that I want to be Jim C Hines when I grow up for a parable he posted on a similar issue. Of course, looking at the language and snark involved, I’m pretty sure it’s more likely I would turn into you when I grow up.

    Awesome declaration, sir.

  124. i really believe if you want to claim “homosexuality” is right, and a personal choice; then i believe those who believe it is not, have every right to believe and say that it is not natural, right, or of God’s way. sorry, charlie, if you can’t take it, stop dishing it out!

  125. Craig: I still use ‘Dixie Chicking” to describe folks who bleat that their freedom is being suppressed during widely-distributed press ops

    I vaguely recall the dixie chicks incident. Well, I recall that it happened. I have no memory of what kinds of statements were actually made. So I had to go to google. I can’t find any statements by them where they say something like their “freedom is being suppressed”. I have found several statements where they are complaining about the *demand* for patriotism, or where they are complaining about the section of the american population who express the idea that no one can criticize the president.

    Personally, every statement I’ve found by them on Google, I find some agreement with. The same people who criticized the Dixie Chicks because DC criticized Bush about the impending Iraq invasion, the very same people who said no one is allowed to criticize the president? My guesstimate is that those very same people have been screaming the loudest in criticism about Obama.

    As far as I can tell, the people the Dixie Chicks are complaining about are people pulling stunts similar to Kirk Cameron. They have no problems spewing bile about Obama, but criticize the president they identify with (Bush) and suddenly criticizing your president is a mortal sin.

    So, the thing is, I haven’t found any thing actually said by the Dixie Chicks where they say something like their freedom is being repressed. The death threats actually might qualify as a form of repression. But complaining about hypocritical jerks who have no problem criticizing a Democrat president but invoke a nonexistent *rule* that one must not insult the president that appears to only exist when the President is Republican, seems to me to be a legitimate complaint.

    right-wing Dixie Chicks complaining about how their dissent is being crushed by the liberal media and their socialist-homosexual-Godless agenda

    I haven’t found anything actually stated by the Dixie Chicks that would clearly put them into the camp you put them in that is “right wing”. I can’t find anything actually stated by the Dixie Chicks that shows them calling the media a “Liberal Media”, and I can’t find any quotes by the Dixie Chicks that would show them being against homosexuals to use it as an insult by saying the media is pro-gay.

    Which is to say, I’m not really attached to the Dixie Chicks either way. But everything you’ve said about them (right wing, antigay, saying they’re “being suppressed by the media”), appears to be unsupported by the google results. If you have a link, I’d be willing to change my impression of them. If you couldn’t find any links, would you be willing to reconsider your opinion of them?

  126. [Deleted for tiresome overuse of rhetorical tics like "KKKirk" and "sheeple." OccupyEquality, if you wish to repost using language that is readable to the average human, please do -- JS]

  127. @ diana hughes: Personally, I believe that Freedom of Speech even includes the freedom to say things that don’t make much sense and demonstrate that one hasn’t been following the discussion. I suspect most people here would agree.

  128. “i really believe if you want to claim “homosexuality” is right, and a personal choice”

    You realize almost no one on the gay rights side actually thinks it’s a choice, right?

    Leaving that aside, that you should expect people to comment on your free speech is pretty much the point here. You do have the right to say you do or don’t support gay rights. You do not have the right to demand that no one call you on it.

  129. “I haven’t found anything actually stated by the Dixie Chicks that would clearly put them into the camp you put them in that is “right wing”.”

    They aren’t. I mean, not by American standards. I actually thought that Craig was being sarcastic with the intial post. Natalie Maines, in particular, is noted for having come out against the Iraq War and Bush, has raised money for animal rights, has come out in support of the West Memphis 3, and publically supported gay rights.

    They did receive an incredible amount of backlash (waaaaaay more than Cameron is for his homophobia) for the Iraq War/BUsh thing, ranging from death threats to being dropped from bunches of country stations.

    John: I apologize if this ends up being multiple posts in a row by me – new post came up while I writing the last one.

  130. vilifying Cameron and by extension christianity

    Oh, FFS, will people stop with the “vilifying bigotry sheltered in the cloak of Christianity” is the same thing as “vilifying Christianity”? There are plenty of Christians who are tolerant, compassionate, loving individuals. Some of them even post here. This thread is not objecting to Christianity. It’s objecting to bigotry. Cloaking your bigotry in your religion doesn’t make it any less bigotry, and doesn’t make it any less worthy of being vilified.

    Also, “vilified” is a word that just looks strange in a sans-serif font. It’s all those straight lines in a row.

  131. Diana: Here’s the thing. Reality does exist, and it exists independently of what your religious book says it should be. The FACTS are these: Homosexuality is ‘natural’ by any reasonable definition of the term, and occurs in over 1,400 species throughout nature, many of which form life-long homosexual pair-bonds and/or engage in bisexual activity as a matter of course. See statistics on giraffes further up the thread. Humans are one such species. Homosexuality and bisexuality (and other sexual orientations) are ‘natural’ for us because they OCCUR in us. Furthermore, as John pointed out, neither pants nor vaccines are natural, but I think we can agree that they are good for us. So those who say it is not ‘natural’ are more or less begging to be schooled in the basic fact that words *mean* things.

    Second, we are not contesting their right to say those things. Nobody has been doing that. If you believe we have been doing that, you have not been reading, or you have been reading poorly – comprehension is your friend. We are saying that, while bigots have a right to their bigotry, they do not have the right to be free from consequences for their bigotry. They say bigoted shit, then we call them out on it, and they act wounded and cry ‘free speech’ because they have no clue what ‘freedom of speech’ actually means as defined by the 1st Amendment.

    Third, no one on here so far has said that homosexuality is a choice. Sexual orientation is a semi-fluid, INNATE quality. You do not choose it, it simply is. You may choose to restrict your expression of your sexuality, for instance, if you are bisexual but you choose to only have sex with women for whatever reason, but that does not mean you are not bisexual anymore. Performing lesbianism and being a lesbian are not the same thing, though they may be functionally indistinguishable in context.

    Finally, I reject your contention that we should not dish it out if we can’t take it. We have been taking it for a couple of millenia while your side has been dishing it out. I think we’ve proven very amply that we can take it. You’re the ones proving you can’t now that we actually have a voice. Y’all are like bullies on the playground crying to a teacher because the person they’ve been victimizing for years finally got the guts to fight back, so please excuse us for not being impressed with the victim act. QUILTBAG people are actually victimized (re: assaulted, ostracized, marginalized, KILLED) on a daily basis.

  132. Well, said, Mr. Scalzi.

    I wish I could remember which statesman once said that the right to free speech does not include the right to be taken seriously. In particular, I wish that Kirk Cameron could remember which statesman said it.

  133. Y’know, all the church-going, Bible reading, soup-kitchen-working, hard-praying glbt Christians — and, boy howdy, are they out there — must be so astonished to read that criticizing Kirk Cameron is criticizing Christianity. I do wish folks on both sides of the debate, but especially those who call themselves Christians and should certainly know better, would remember that the culturally conservative evangelical brand is not the only brand marketing this Jesus stuff.

  134. @ Yep

    It is refreshing to see that so many people here see the benefit of free speech (vilifying Cameron and by extension christianity) that Mr. Cameron gets to enjoy (vilifying gays).

    Whose stopping him, Yep? Please, explain it to us. Who here is doing or has proposed one dingle damn measure that would in any way whatsoever prevent Cameron from running his mouth off?

    Let’s try this again, shall we? Criticism is not censorship. I know that’s a lot to process. Take your time. Don’t injure yourself.

    Also, thank you for clarifying. I was, until know, totally unaware that Kirk Cameron is Christianity. Anyone else who is Christianity beside Christ? I wouldn’t want to accidentally vilify Christianity again, you understand.

    @ Greg

    IIRC, the Dixie Chicks said something along the lines of objecting other country music singers organizing boycotts. Personally, I’m fine with them objecting. The Dixie Chicks can express their political views, ignoramuses can choose not to buy whatever music they want, self-serving jingoistic twits can encourage the ignoramuses, and the Dixie Chicks can object to the response. (Death threats cross the line.) Hell, even Kirk Cameron can object to the righteous response he got, he just can’t do a damn thing to silence it (and, AFAIK, he never tried), and he can’t stop people from pointing out his hypocritical double-standard when he does.

    Anyway, maybe that’s what Craig was getting at about the Dixie Chicks, but that’s going by half remembered news stores years ago, so don’t take my word for it.

  135. Wandering a bit O/T from the main topic, but in specific reference to the postings about the US Constitution … the Constitution itself not only restricts certain activities of the US government specifically, but takes it one step further and explicitly states (somewhere, I’m by no means a Constitutional scholar) that all rights and powers not explicitly reserved by the federal government defaulted to the individual states. This was the “states’ rights” principle, which was the primary reason for the Civil War and also a major stumbling-block in the civil-rights movements of the 1960′s, until appropriate constitutional amendments were enacted.

    Here in Canada it works the other way around, all powers and rights not specifically delegated to the provinces remain with the federal government. ALL criminal law, for instance, is inherently federal, meaning that technically the RCMP always has prime jurisdiction, although in practice they recognize it’s much more practical in most cases to delegate enforcement to local authorities.

  136. Wow…I don’t remember ever seeing the kind of responses as I have seen with this post. There are so many well thought and lucid comments here it amazes me. And the different citations from Jefferson to Ellison are in themselves thought provoking. I consider myself fairly well read and knowledgeable but when S.M. Stirling used the word BLART I was stumped. Thankfully the urban dictionary enlightened me and made my day. Thanks for the pleasure of these many printed words.

  137. MikeB: You’re half right; the Bill of Rights as originally written does only bind the Federal gov’t and wasn’t rigorously applied at the State level until much later. However this didn’t need any new amendments to accomplish – the key mechanism used was the Due Process clause of the 14th; passed in 1868.

    Also, the incorporation process began well before Civil Rights – the Free Speech clause, for instance, was incorporated by Gitlow v. New York in 1925. It was the Civil Rights movement that forced SCOTUS to apply the logic more rigorously, though.

  138. @ MikeB-Cda

    That would the be residual powers. Any powers not enumerated to the U.S. Federal government devolve to the states. As Dave noted, however, the due process clause became the law of the land with the adoption of the 14th amendment during the Reconstruction era following the American Civil War, but was badly abused by unconstitutional states laws like Jim Crow laws.

  139. @Greg:

    Obviously my allusion to a pop-cult controversy almost a decade ago (and, yes, Gulliver is right – a highly sarcastic once) still confuses you. Don’t know how I can explain it any further without busting out the interpretive mime-dance.

    So, let me boil it down to a general principle:

    When you’re all over every television news show and newspaper in the English-speaking world bitching about how you free speech is being denied, you’re being “censored” and “driven from the public square”? Sorry, I smell a big pile of fresh bullshit. You might, however, want to book some face time with a good therapist to start working on your persecution mania.

  140. Somewhat off topic, but it’s a button of mine: Some people do experience their sexual orientation such that it was something they chose, at least in part. I gather that most folks who experience it that way don’t talk about it much, because they tend to get “corrected”.

    My orientation was not a choice for me. But I don’t assume that everyone either experiences it the same way or is mistaken about their own experiences. And while there has been some research that implies that orientation may be biologically inherent in some way, the conclusions aren’t nearly as solid as they’re often perceived to be.

    In any case, it *shouldn’t* *matter* whether it’s a choice or not when it comes to equal treatment under the law. Or equal treatment, period, for that matter.

  141. ‘The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to respect.”

    I’d kiss you for that line, but I fear that Kirk would hate us both.
    I mean love us so much that he thinks we’re unnatural.

  142. Craig,

    in my experience, the term “Dixie Chicking” comes from the other perspective: when the response to a politically controversial artist goes to an extreme that suggests that those upset by the statements of the artist would like everyone to hate said artist retroactively. It’s also when the response to such a statement is (or at least, appears to be) disproportionate to the statement itself.

    Also, Maines had more of a point than you seem to be crediting her. She still had access to media, yes, but only in terms of commenting, yet again, on this particular issue. In the arena of the music business, the Dixie Chicks were being systematically excluded. Granted, only censorship by governmental actors is potentially unconstitutional. But Maines’ argument was that the censorship by her industry and audience the Dixie Chicks were experiencing was, while perfectly legal, antithetical to the American ideals of fair play and public discourse their critics claimed to be such staunch supporters of.

  143. An excellent post. I have a vivid memory of Cynthia McKinney getting a similar beat down from Jonah Goldberg and other folks on the right shortly after 9/11 — she too had confused freedom of speech with freedom from criticism. It seems, unsurprisingly, to be a disease that infects people of all belief systems.

  144. Because he is something of a hero to me I know who said ‘The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to be taken seriously”

    It was Hubert Humphrey, a great American, a good politician and a decent human being intent to do what was right.

  145. I couldn’t find any quote of the Dixie Chicks where they said their free speech rights were being infringed upon or that nobody should express any disagreement with anything they said. But perhaps my Google-Fu is weak today.

  146. @ Bearpaw

    In any case, it *shouldn’t* *matter* whether it’s a choice or not when it comes to equal treatment under the law. Or equal treatment, period, for that matter.

    Quite so. It’s entirely each person’s prerogative to love and be attracted to whomever they choose, whether they were born that way and simply choose to embrace it, or not. From a biological standpoint I think it’s fine that there are researchers investigating the underpinnings of sexual orientation, and that they publish their findings. But I agree that telling someone they are deluded if they think they have any control over what arouses them is as patronizing as telling someone they are deluded if they think their sexual orientation is innate.

    There’s been some controversy the last few years regarding whether bisexuality is real, or simply heterosexually or homosexually oriented individuals trying to convince themselves they are also attracted to whichever gender they supposedly aren’t. Researching the underpinnings of bisexuality is also fine, but it’s likewise patronizing to go around d telling bisexual people that they don’t exist.

    On the flip side, I was told by a very bright biotechnology undergrad that she thought all women were bisexual to a certain degree, and asked me if I thought the same was true for men. I replied honestly that I’d never been sexually attracted to men, but that I could hardly assume my experience was the same as other men. I think here point was that she hypothesized that sexual orientation was a sliding scale rather than a binary categorization, which there might very well be something to, but I thought it sort of a leap to impute that all women therefore experienced bisexual attraction.

  147. Let’s not wander off too far into the fields of inherent sexuality, please.

    That said, “Fields of Inherent Sexuality” is now the name of my next band.

  148. Doc Rocketscience:

    Also, Maines had more of a point than you seem to be crediting her. She still had access to media, yes, but only in terms of commenting, yet again, on this particular issue. In the arena of the music business, the Dixie Chicks were being systematically excluded.

    Well, yes, some stations refused to play her band’s songs for reasons I find utterly ridiculous. And organized public record burnings? Wow – talk about a Godwin trigger. As I said above, it should go without saying that misogynistic insults, threats of violence (up to and including rape) and even murder are totally unacceptable in my house.

    But unless I missed something the Dixie Chicks were not dumped by their record company, banned from performing in public or thrown into prison on trumped up tax charges. And I still reserve the right to roll my eyes when folks go on globally-broadcast cable news shows to complain they’re being repressed. Maines and Cameron could profit from a reality checking session with Jafar Panahi or Ai Weiwei. Oh, wait… they can’t.

  149. John,
    There have been some other very good ones, but that is my favorite next band name that you’ve claimed recently.

  150. Oh look, here’s something from an Entertainment Weekly article:

    “Within the country community, you’re being pitted against more traditional, flag-waving stars Toby Keith (who gets a big cheer on tour projecting a doctored image of Natalie and Saddam) and Darryl Worley — with those two winning in a landslide.

    MAINES: I don’t agree with what Toby Keith says, at all. But I like that he speaks up. It may be the safe side of speaking up, because he knows that everyone in the genre is going to agree with him [laughs]. But everyone has the right to say something, and he does. I respect that more than people who say nothing.”

    Hmmm. Doesn’t sound much like Kirk Cameron to me. But I’m sure there’s some equivalence there somewhere.

  151. Hmmm. Doesn’t sound much like Kirk Cameron to me. But I’m sure there’s some equivalence there somewhere.

    FFS, Bearpaw. Keep Googling – because I’m not really sure the well documented feud between Maines and Keith (which didn’t reflect particularly well on either party, IMO) spoke to any great respect.

    In the 2006 documentary Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, backstage footage prior to her appearance wearing the F.U.T.K shirt recorded the conversation between Maines and Simon Renshaw and confirmed that the original intent of the shirt was, in fact, a shot at Keith in response to his criticism of her; the acronym stood for “Fuck You Toby Keith”.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natalie_Maines#Feud_with_Toby_Keith

    Hey, “free speech” doesn’t mean “speech I always find particularly mature or edifying” either. And so it goes.

  152. Waaay back upthread, someone asked what was misogynistic about men (in this instance) feeling aroused by watching women have sex…as a private, personal response, nothing about that is misogynistic. When male arousal becomes the primary reason for the portrayal of lesbians in literature and movies and TV, then it is an expression of misogyny. The women in those scenes exist and make love in order to titillate men – and only to titillate men – and their behavior owes more to male fantasy than women’s reality. A created world in which all women are lesbian or bisexual is as repugnant to me as a world in which none are, because the author (or screenwriter) is not writing women as actual people, but as objects for the male gaze.

    One of the things I love about John Scalzi’s writing is that he doesn’t do that. Ever.

  153. Craig, I appreciate that you’re not excusing anyone’s most despicable behaviors. But this:

    “But unless I missed something the Dixie Chicks were not dumped by their record company, banned from performing in public or thrown into prison on trumped up tax charges. And I still reserve the right to roll my eyes when folks go on globally-broadcast cable news shows to complain they’re being repressed. Maines and Cameron could profit from a reality checking session with Jafar Panahi or Ai Weiwei. Oh, wait… they can’t.”

    I looked it up. The logical fallacy you’re invoking here is relative privation. In other words, “Stop complaining that you have no shoes. That guy has no feet!” Not that I think you’re trying to make a logical argument so much as explain your turn of phrase.

  154. Um, just to be clear, I intended to say that John doesn’t write women characters as objects. He does write them as real people. I’m sure if he didn’t, his wife would apply the mallet of loving correction, but I don’t really care what his reasons are.

  155. “Don’t know how I can explain it any further without busting out the interpretive mime-dance.”

    For the record, seeing Craig Ranapia, who I am assuming is the same Craig Ranapia of the late, lamented lynch list, perform an interpretive mime dance would be awesome! Especially if the background music is badalamentian.

  156. @Bearpaw:

    I’m struggling to see what your point is, but if you’re going to accuse me of lying I’d prefer you slip out of the passive-aggressive voice and lay the charge straight up.

    @Doc Rocketscience:

    No, what I’m saying (and don’t intend to repeat again) is that people who have unfettered access to a free press can talk about being “censored” all they want, but I’ll quote ‘The Princess Bride’ one more time. “You keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what you think it means”.

    I’m sure the last sentence of you comment wasn’t supposed to be quite as condescending as it looked, but I’d appreciate it if you bothered engaging with what I’ve said.

  157. I think this article is pretty hateful. The intrinsic tone and exaggeration of what Kirk was saying is pretty disturbing. I admire the defense of the 1st amendment though.

  158. @ Jay

    Waaay back upthread, someone asked what was misogynistic about men (in this instance) feeling aroused by watching women have sex…as a private, personal response, nothing about that is misogynistic. When male arousal becomes the primary reason for the portrayal of lesbians in literature and movies and TV, then it is an expression of misogyny.

    That makes sense.

    The women in those scenes exist and make love in order to titillate men – and only to titillate men – and their behavior owes more to male fantasy than women’s reality.

    How can you tell which is the intent, especially in literature?

    A created world in which all women are lesbian or bisexual is as repugnant to me as a world in which none are, because the author (or screenwriter) is not writing women as actual people, but as objects for the male gaze.

    What about a created world in which all characters, women and men, are homosexual?

    @ Abi Sutherland

    Is that an order?

    Other way around. Roger wilco is radio shorthand for I hear you and will comply. John gives the orders in these here parts. Whether you choose to comply or risk the Mallet is your business.

  159. Gulliver 2:13a: Oh, my, yes, you did misunderstand aka I was unclear. I wasn’t saying that it’s intrinsically misogynistic, just that it’s entirely compatible with misogyny. In other words, while being aroused by it isn’t evidence of either homophobia or misogyny, it’s certainly not evidence that refutes them either.

    Also see Jay at 4:08p.

    Josh 8:14a: WWKD? What Would Kali Do? Tear their heads off, drink their blood, and dance on their quivering corpse…and then get all embarrassed at losing Her composure so completely.

    John 9:34a: I’m sorry. I will try harder. If you want to Mallet that comment, I will accept your judgment.

    And thank you for providing an example of precisely how I might have done better. I will remember it.

    And about Thomas Lazer’s comment, isn’t it funny how “I’m not X, but…” almost always introduces an example of being X? (Where X is something like ‘racist’, ‘homophobic’, ‘sexist’, ‘anti-Semitic’ etc.)

    Clarence 10:09a: Hear, hear.

    Yep 10:46a: “vilifying Cameron and by extension christianity”? How you figure? If someone says something stupid about the Bible that means that you’re dissing Christianity (I believe names of religions should be capitalized, a form of respect I recommend to you) if you say “that’s stupid”?

    Sorry, but that’s stupid.

    I’m reminded of something that happened to me years ago; a coworker asserted that our word ‘babble’ came from ‘Babel’ as in the Tower of (a common but mistaken belief). I told her as gently as I could that that was wrong, and she exploded, saying “well then you’re really saying the Catholic religion is wrong, because that’s what I learned in Sunday school!” The towering (π) stupidity of this stunned me, so I just muttered something about how I didn’t think we were talking about religion and changed the subject.

    If I had been in a more equal position with her, or with less invested, I would have said “you really believe that everything some nun believes is Catholic doctrine? If a nun taught you that porcupines can shoot their quills, would you attack anyone who told you otherwise as anti-Catholic?”

    Also, what Bess said at 12:21p.

    diana 11:16a: Is anyone claiming homosexuality is “right”? It’s not a moral stance, it’s a sexual/affectional orientation! And I don’t think anyone is claiming it’s a personal choice except the Kirk Cameron side. Also, try this:

    i really believe if you want to claim “homosexuality” is not natural, right, or of God’s way; then i believe those who believe it is, have every right to believe and say that it is right, and a personal choice.

    Buy that? If not, your argument is spurious.

    And sonneillonv 12:22p speaks eloquently. I doubt you’re still reading though, since you clearly didn’t even read the OP carefully, let alone the rest of the thread.

    MikeB-Cda 1:37p: It’s OT, but you’re mistaken about the primary reason for the US Civil War. Look up the CSA Constitution and you’ll swiftly see the real cause.

  160. Gulliver:

    Don’t take me seriously. I was making an off-color joke involving the British slang use of the word roger and pretending that Wilco was a masculine name.

  161. What about a created world in which all characters, women and men, are homosexual?

    Has that ever been done? I’ve read porn in which there are no heterosexual characters, but none where no one in the WORLD was hetero.

    Created worlds where no one is homosexual are, of course, disgustingly common.

    And Roger Wilco is also the name of one of Dave Berg’s stock characters in his “The Lighter Side of…” comics in Mad magazine.

  162. @ Xopher HalfTongue

    Oh, my, yes, you did misunderstand aka I was unclear.

    Well, takes two to misunderstand, so I share some responsibility. Thanks for coming back and clarifying. I assumed I misunderstood as bigotry would be totally counter to what I know of you from your Whatever comments. Also, Jay’s reply was much appreciated.

    Has that ever been done? I’ve read porn in which there are no heterosexual characters, but none where no one in the WORLD was hetero.

    Sort of. The Syndicates in Chris Moriarty’s absolutely spectacular novel Spin Control try to engineer themselves to all be homosexual, but genetic probability means a consistent monitory wind up heterosexual, which is antithetical to their society. I cannot sing Moriarty’s praises enough. As far as I’m concerned, any enlightened English-reading geek on planet Earth is doing his or herself a disservice by not reading her novels.

    @ Abi Sutherland

    Copy that :P

  163. @Mello The tone here is not nearly as disturbing as Cameron referring to scores of human beings as “unnatural”. He is free to speak hate, we are equally free to mock him for it.

  164. Craig, I phrased that badly. I apologize. I simply meant that I admit I might be engaging your use of the phrase on a level you didn’t intend. I do, however, think your name-checking Panahi and Ai was an example of relative privation.

    Look, maybe your bar for “censored” is just a lot higher than mine. I don’t think a person has to be locked away, completely out of earshot, before they can claim that they are being treated unfairly. I, for one, agree with Maines: the Dixie Chicks were being subjected to a level of censorship and attempted suppression – by non-governmental entities, mind – that was unfair and, frankly, far more un-American than anything Maines had said. And I think they were right to point that out, in whatever venue they had access to. YMMV. But do remember, a lot of us felt that the situation with the Dixie Chicks was a proxy to what we were feeling at that time: that voicing disagreement or disappointment with the Bush administration would get your branded unpatriotic, at best.

  165. Has that ever been done? I’ve read porn in which there are no heterosexual characters, but none where no one in the WORLD was hetero.

    Offhand, I can think of three single-sex societies in SF: Athos, from Ethan of Athos, by Lois McMaster Bujold; Robin Nine-Fingers’ space colony in John Varley’s Gaia series; and the world in Joanna Russ’ “When It Changed”. But none of them have both gays and lesbians, and in at least one of them, one of the characters turns out to be heterosexual when she leaves it.

  166. The first amendment protects you from the censorship of your speech. Not criticism of your speech. If you say something really stupid expect a lot of people to tell you to “STFU dumbass”. But, know that the government won’t be part of that chorus of people nor will they tell that chorus of people to stop calling you a tool. That’s what the first amendment does, it prevents the government from enforcing with law any calls for anybody to shut up. It protects not only Kirk’s stupid speech here, but all of the speech of all of the people who are telling Kirk to shut-up and stop being an idiotic bigot.

  167. Kirk Cameron has a right to make statements about moral issues. Yes. Anyone who disagrees is a fascist. However, he does not have a right to DECREE moral issues – or, more specifically, morality – for everyone, or indeed, anyone (his unfortunate minor children aside) else. For him to say so makes him the fascist (Okay, a wanna-be fascist, it really just makes him a deluded bigot – oops, redundant, sorry!).

  168. @ Abi Sutherland

    I haven’t read it personally, but if we’re including societies that are homosexual by dint of circumstance rather than predisposition, I think that’s more or less the premise of this comic book:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y:_The_Last_Man

    Also, I once read a novel where there is a colony of women on an oceanic planet who have elevated genetic engineering to a high art. For whatever reason, the planet had no men, but in the novel a patriarchal civilization makes contact with the planet and the story is about the two very different societies coming to terms with each other. I can’t for the life of me recall what it was titled or who wrote it. Argh! That’s driving me nuts now. If anyone recognizes the description and knows the book I’m talking about, please tell me!

  169. Abi, fair enough, but that’s not quite the definition of ‘world’ I was using. I was using it in the SFF sense of “universe.” So yeah, the planet Athos is all male, and all the people on it are either homosexual or candidates for the Chaste Brethren, but it’s in a “world” (universe) where most people are heterosexual, and in fact the first non-Athosians Ethan meets are more homophobic than the average high school student in NYC.

    The same is true of the other two examples you cite, if “When It Changed” is the one set on the planet Whileaway.

    I once had a brief conversation with Lois McMaster Bujold, and I said that I wouldn’t care to live on Athos. She seemed surprised (this was a long time ago) and asked why. I was startled in turn and said that while I’m not sexually attracted to women I love my women friends and would miss them, and women in general. I think I also said that I didn’t actually think much of the unrelievèd company of men, but a) that would have depended on how snarky I was feeling and b) as I said, it was a long time ago and I can’t remember for sure.

    I had a forehead-smacky moment later when I realized that I should have said that Athos was a planet of hidebound religious extremists where a belief in pseudo-scientific nonsense was required by law!

  170. Homosexual societies:
    There’s the end of Joe Haldeman’s ‘The Forever War’ (or even the middle) but they are all clones anyway…

  171. Craig, the issue I am missing is that you keep making descriptive statements about the Dixi Chicks and I have yet to find any actual quotes by them where they say something I would bin into your description. they didnt say ‘liberal media’, they didnt make homophobic comments, they did complain about death threats and the record burnings which I think they have a right to complain about. I can go back and look at how they use the word “censorship” but it didnt seem to me they were abusing the term to the point of deserving the mocki.g you are giving thm.

  172. Again, maggie, that’s not like most SFF written by heterosexual males (yes, there are exceptions) where homosexuality simply does not exist at all. Also, Haldeman treats the homosexual-majority culture of the middle-period Earth (the clones “make no distinction” IIRC) as a degeneration from what the main characters are used to…and everyone is wearing eye makeup (not just the gays either). I suspect he was writing metaphorically about his own return from Vietnam to find society deteriorated into a collection of effeminate wimps—compared to war-hardened veterans, duhh. The portrayal of the homosexual characters in that book is insulting, but I’m not going to hold it against Haldeman, given when he wrote it. At least they exist and are people.

    Compare Stranger in a Strange Land, written about a decade earlier (The Forever War appeared as a novel in 1974 as opposed to Stranger‘s 1961, but was written and published as a series of stories before that). In Stranger, the author calls homosexuals “the poor in-betweeners” and remarks that Michael “would sense a wrongness about them; they would never be offered water.” Greaaaat.

  173. Gulliver: Agreed on the Chris Moriarty upvote. Her books are pure 100% aweome. And she’s also a pure 100% awesome person in person, having had the pleasure of meeting her at Readercon last year.

  174. @ Xopher HalfTongue

    The same is true of the other two examples you cite, if “When It Changed” is the one set on the planet Whileaway.

    At the risk of nitpicking, Whileaway was the only society presented within its universe. The other worlds in The Female Man were in other universes. Men had been extinct for 800 years in Whileaway’s particular universe. But perhaps you meant a whole fictional universe, as opposed to parallel realities within a single work or fiction.

    I once had a brief conversation with Lois McMaster Bujold

    I’m experiencing an unusually emotion for me…envy.

    I think I also said that I didn’t actually think much of the unrelievèd company of men, but a) that would have depended on how snarky I was feeling and b) as I said, it was a long time ago and I can’t remember for sure.

    Yeah, I wouldn’t want to live in a single-sex society either, even if it was the opposite sex, and that’s not snark. I’d miss the added diversity, though perhaps I’d never miss it if I didn’t know it was possible. I could definitely go for a society with more than two sexes though. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in my underground lab…

    I suspect he was writing metaphorically about his own return from Vietnam to find society deteriorated into a collection of effeminate wimps—compared to war-hardened veterans, duhh.

    In interviews, Haldeman has mentioned that he wanted to show that heterosexual-normative society was a cultural construction that could just as easily be homosexual-normative. He gave his motivation as a close friend when he was at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop who was every bit as good a person as any heterosexual person, and deserved better than to be treated as a second-class citizen.

    The clones were the aliens, which turn out to be a single sex borganism literally without individuals (which was why its soldiers fought without regard for self-preservation). In the lackluster sequel Forever Free, humankind emulates the aliens and becomes all clones of one individual, except for the time-displaced veterans that are treated as an anachronism.

    Regarding the Vietnam War, Haldeman has said that he was opposed to it, but went anyway because he wasn’t sure he’d ever be certain he’d dodged the draft out principle, and not physical cowardice. Not a great reason in my book, but understandable.

  175. A little late to the game, but the thing I find hilarious is that Cameron–just like Santorum and Dr. Laura and many modern sundry homophobes, claims to know gay people who support his hate speech, but curiously, these phantom gays never seem to materialize.

  176. Xopher @ 6:48
    I wasn’t implying that it was a useful or helpful portrayal, just that it existed. I agree with you analysis, and accept the conclusions for what they are, disappointing as they stand.
    I have difficulty imagining a stable ‘world’ as you suggest with out some degree of bisexuality, and that’s another kettle of fish all together; where sexuality isn’t being used as a ‘marker’ for a comment about society, but a genuine inquiry of possibility in itself.

    I’m enjoying the engaging conversations, thank you all, especially our host.

  177. If you believe in God, then you believe he was our creator. He created man and woman. Only through a man and a woman can life form. Have you ever read anywhere that life came from two woman or two men? Homosexuality was considered a disorder in the medical journals until the 70′s! It is not natural! Man and woman is natural! That said we are taught by Christ to love as he did? We will love and respect. But, we will not say that it is acceptable! We do not want your agenda! Homosexuals are only a small percent of the population.
    As far as Kirk Cameron. He is a great citizen standing up for his beliefs! After all, they persecuted Jesus Christ!

  178. Well, yeah. Homosexuality is “detrimental” inasmuch as it does not lead to procreation, and the furthering of the species. But for that matter, the priesthood demands celibacy, which is also “unnatural” and “detrimental” to society as a whole. I mean, if everyone stopped having sex and became priests, where would we be?!

    And if we get into all the things that are “unnatural” and “detrimental” in the same way as homosexuality, it starts to look more and more like these things are more natural and helpful to our species as a whole. In other words, Kirk Cameron, STFU. Why does he keep getting interviewed anyway?

  179. Nicely done. I have often confronted this kind of noise from less famous but still bigoted idiots and have burst in apoplectic spittle, which is not very intelligent even if somewhat amusing. You have brilliantly composed phrases I will gladly recite when I am next accosted by a bigoted fool. Thank you.

  180. Thanks, John, well said. If I may add, those who purportedly follow a creed that advocates ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ and ‘loving your enemies’ have no moral basis for judging others, lest they be judged. They also have no ethical argument for castigating a whole group of people for simply loving one another — as they should be doing themselves, were they to truly follow their own creed.

  181. So your supposed to stop “hate” with more hate? And how do you get respect by going on a Christian-bashing rant of more hate-filled comments than the one stated? There is a difference between having a difference of opinion and all the hate speech that is in this article.

  182. “The First Amendment guarantees a right to speech. It does not guarantee a right to respect.”

    Where have you been all my life?

  183. I respect your view MR. CAMERON. Stick to your way of thinking.It sounds like most of these people haven’t read there BIBLE.

  184. Marko:

    “If expecting and demading the exact same rights as that majority constitutes a “very powerful sense of entitlement”, then count me in with the entitlement crowd.”

    – don’t confuse what you think you -deserve- (absolutely irregardless of whether you’re wrong or right) with what you’re likely to -get-.

    The two have no necessasry connection. The latter is far more important.

    Remember that right and wrong aren’t factual categories; they have no objective correlative. They’re just opinions.

    And opinions are like arseholes; everybody’s got one, few bear close examination.

    You can reason -from- a moral premise, but not -to- one. The basic premise you just have to accept -a priori-, or not. That’s why incommensurable value systems can’t do anything but ignore each other or fight.

    In other words, questions of value are opinions, and the’re opinions -all the way down-.

    Hence politics, which is basically a confict over value judgements, is fundamentally about power. “Who whom”, as Lenin put it. Political “truth” is just an opinion with a gun.

    >when it’s the moral and upstanding straight Christian majority who claimed special rights for themselves.

    – well, of course. They’ve had the -power-.

    “The good old rule
    The ancient plan;
    That he who has the power shall take
    And he shall keep who can.”

  185. Deny a creator, and you are forced to admit your proclivities place you on a dead-end evolutionary track.

    Not up on more recent evolutionary science, hm? Where having SOME gay individuals confers a survival advantage on the group?

    Yes, you’re being mocked as ignorant.

  186. Michelle:

    “Homosexuals are only a small percent of the population.”

    And therefore it’s okay to deny them equal rights! Eeeeexcellent.

    Jamie:

    “And how do you get respect by going on a Christian-bashing rant of more hate-filled comments than the one stated?”

    One, bashing Cameron for his ignorant bigotry isn’t Christian bashing. It’s ignorant bigot-bashing. Two, I don’t think about Cameron enough to hate him, just enough to mock him. Three, I’m not particularly concerned about achieving Cameron’s respect, as he clearly hasn’t earned mine.

    It does appear this site has been linked to a site populated by folks not particularly versed in the ability to argue logically. I’ve gone back and malleted a couple of entries for ignorance/stupidity/rudeness. Others I’ve let stand as a testament to their authors.

    For other folks who are new, you might wish to read the site’s comment policy.

  187. Gulliver 7:17p: Men had been extinct for 800 years in Whileaway’s particular universe. But perhaps you meant a whole fictional universe, as opposed to parallel realities within a single work or fiction.

    I only ever read that one story, and in that one they’d just been recontacted by a male-dominated society. “We need Whileaway’s genes,” they said. I didn’t know that was cross-universe. At any rate, yeah, I meant the entire ficton.

    I’m experiencing an unusually emotion for me…envy.

    Imagine what kind of person she must be from the deeply humane nature of her fiction. She’s an even nicer, kinder, warmer person than you expect from that. She and Connie Willis are just jaw-droppingly nice people (Connie is a little more outgoing).

    In interviews, Haldeman has mentioned that he wanted to show that heterosexual-normative society was a cultural construction that could just as easily be homosexual-normative.

    Well, good. I didn’t know that; that makes me feel a lot better about him.

    Michelle 7:29p: Wow. It’s really impossible to parody this sort of thing. You’re absolutely hilarious.

    And last I heard, no one has arrested Kirk Dipshit Cameron. I would be willing to BET that he won’t be given 39 lashes and then crucified.

    And if you believe in the Bible, you should be silent and obey your husband…who should be selected by a deal between his father and yours, and when you were 15. Go for it!

    And G.Thomas and Jamie and sandra make it clear that someone has posted this on a Hypochristian site. No point in answering these infraponts. Though the fact that sandra can’t spell indicates the level of education these people have.

  188. Dammit, I refreshed RIGHT before posting and still cross-posted with John. Sorry John.

  189. Gay people should be allowed to marry. The constitution allows for freedom of (and freedom from) religion. Denying people of their rights based on what The Bible says, is not constitutional. If it weren’t for freedom of religion, I would have been killed or locked up before I had the chance to accept Jesus as my lord and savior. (I was a very angry, hateful atheist) Keeping people from expressing themselves is a bad way to show the love of Christ we are to exemplify.

  190. We *Christians* are supposed to exemplify. Sorry for the double post. There were issues trying to edit the post on my phone.

  191. @ S.M. Stirling

    That’s why incommensurable value systems can’t do anything but ignore each other or fight.

    Bingo. But not all fights are by sword or gun.

    “The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities… It is best to win without fighting.” ~ Sun Tzu

    Rest assured, though, if it comes down to the judgment of the sword, there are plenty willing to make sure it is their enemies who water the tree of liberty. What a person or people are likely to get are those things for which they are willing to fight. Rights are liberties you don’t let others deprive you of, or you die trying.

    You can reason the benefits and detriments of chosen values, and some values will form a firmer basis on which to base a social contract. Oppression has historically proven an unstable equilibrium. As always, evolution will decide the outcome. Hidebound reactionaries who live in a fantasy world where that which has and continues to survive evolution is unfit for evolution, whose only foundation is what their imaginary friend told them, and who think hate means the opposite of what it does, are poorly positioned to deal with evolution. That is an opinion, but it’s an informed opinion.

  192. I think it’s more sad seeing a bunch of liberal left wingers getting in a private bash fest and trying to justify it as “I support your right to free speech, and *my* right bash you because I know I’m right.” If you really didn’t care your response would have been, “Kirk who?” and moved on. Instead, he struck a nerve with you.

  193. Greg:

    In Craig’s original post, when he says “right wing Dixie Chicks”, he’s not calling the Dixie Chicks “right wing”, he’s calling the right-wingers “Dixie Chicks”. As in, those right wingers behaving like Dixie Chicks (by using a national media platform to claim that their free speech is being suppressed). And it’s the right wingers, not the Dixie Chicks, that he accuses of “complaining about how their dissent is being crushed by the liberal media and their socialist-homosexual-Godless agenda.” At least, that’s how I read it.

  194. So Tired Of It:

    “Instead, he struck a nerve with you.”

    Yes, the “Let’s point and laugh at the ignorant bigot” nerve. It’s one of my favorite nerves!

    Mind you, I also like the “Let’s point and laugh at the flyby commenter who thinks he’s said something clever but instead reads like a checklist of rhetorical faceplants” nerve, too. And boy, that one’s getting a workout today!

  195. If I ever meet you John Scalzi, I will bow down to you and honor you for your genius. ” I mean, you’re aware television is “unnatural,” right? So are pants. So are eyeglasses, cell phones, indoor plumbing, the Growing Pains complete second season on DVD, and just about any weapon more complicated than a rock.” has to be one of my favorite read sentences regarding this subject.

  196. don’t confuse what you think you -deserve- (absolutely irregardless of whether you’re wrong or right) with what you’re likely to -get-..

    There were people who said the same thing to Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

    Why are you being one of them?

  197. @ So Tired Of It

    Kirk Cameron: I’m not a bigot, I just thing gays are an unnatural abomination who harm society by existing. But I’m not a bigot.

    Critics: You’re a bigot.

    Kirk Cameron: Can’t a guy say a group of people are abominations thing without being called a bigot for it?

    John, et al: No. And you’re an idiot if you expect people to remain silent while you hate-monger.

    So Tired Of It: Poor Kirk Cameron, getting bashed by all these liberal left wingers.

  198. Gulliver @ 6:26,

    The book you mean is A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski. I should reread it; I have a serious love for aquatic ecosystems and the setting is exquisite.

  199. [Deleted because in addition to being hilariously incorrect about why his comment was deleted, Mr. Thomas appears to be a fatuous blowhard -- JS]

  200. A bit off topic: using “Roger Wilco” on a radio is equal to using “alright” when writing. Odd military pet peeve of mine.

  201. [Deleted because it's a response to a deleted post. Come on, Xopher. You know I'm not going to let that sort of tiresomeness from Mr. Thomas stay in the thread. You could have saved yourself the typing -- JS]

  202. Wow, real-time malletting. This is better than TV.

    (Do you double the “t” to construct the present participle of “to mallet”? I can never keep those things straight.)

  203. Gonna have to refresh more often to catch comments before the mallet comes down…

    Anyway, I can’t add anything to the praise that’s been heaped above, except my own tenuous connection to Cameron. My cousin wrote a book about being Christian (called “Am I Really a Christian?” I suspect the book’s default answer is “No”), and Cameron wrote the introduction to it. I wasn’t planning to read the book in the first place, but as soon as I saw Mr. Crocoduck in there I knew it would be time poorly wasted….

  204. >Gay people should be allowed to marry.

    – as a matter of policy, yeah, personally I’m happy with that. I was best man at a gay wedding long before they were legal anywhere. I don’t see how it injures anybody, except possibly in their self-esteem, which I don’t care about anway.

    As far as our political system goes, I’m quite happy with gay marriage as long as it’s voted in, by State legislatures or by referendum. And vice versa.

    Let the Sovereign People speak; it’s how we settle differences of opinion about policy issues.

    >The constitution allows for freedom of (and freedom from) religion.

    – this is more iffy.

    The Constitution was probably -intended- simply to make the -Federal- government neutral between different denominations; that is, it was intended to -promote- religion while preventing actual -persecution- for religious beliefs. States were perfectly free to have established Churches supported by tax funds which everyone had to pay whether they liked it or not.

    Jefferson was the one who coined the “separation of Church and State” thing and he wasn’t involved in drafting the Constitution. In fact, he didn’t much approve of it.

    A sort of vague nondenominational Christianity has often been promoted by the US Government, right from the beginning. The first Congress under the Constitution (which contained a number of the guys who wrote the document, and presumably -knew- what it meant) had an official Christian Chaplain, paid out of tax money, and opened and closed with prayers which he led, IIRC.

    If this was constitutional then, why isn’t it constitutional now? And if it wasn’t constitutional then, how come the guys who wrote the document didn’t notice?

    This sort of thing (creches, Ten Commandments, vaguely uplifting prayer) doesn’t bother me one little bit, though I’m a complete atheist. Christian believers are the overwhelming majority — I’d expect them to set things up the way they like it. My own ideal would be for everyone to be a non-believing Episcopalian because I like the services for aesthetic reasons and out of family sentiment.

    No huhu. Since I don’t believe in -any- God, prayers don’t bother me in the least. It’s a social ritual and I treat ‘em as such. Hypocrisy is an essential lubricant that helps keep us from killing each other all the time, and as a member of a minority I concede due deference to the majority. Not least because I don’t want them to lynch me, but also because it’s polite.

    >Denying people of their rights based on what The Bible says, is not constitutional.

    – nope, this is bushwah. Eg., the Bible forbids murder. Does that mean it’s unconstitutional to outlaw murder? Adultery was illegal until recently; the Bible forbids it, but also virtually everyone of every religion and none agreed that it was bad and should be forbidden by law. Opinion changed, and so did the law; that’s how it works.

    What should be forbidden or enjoined by law is a matter for votes, and voters are free to base their prelidictions on whatever source they please.

  205. Why are you being one of them?

    Because he’s backpedaling enough to invent the first Reverse-Only Velocipede. When accusing people of being loudmouths with a sense of entitlement doesn’t go over well, retcon it as a sad but wise caution against having overblown expectations.

    (I mean, really. I’m a lawyer and even I don’t write sentences as head-scratch-inducing as “The basic premise you just have to accept -a priori-, or not. That’s why incommensurable value systems can’t do anything but ignore each other or fight.”

    By the way people who really have power don’t need to bother with car bombs or knives; they have things like laws and police.

  206. Xopher, Abi, Gulliver, Becca: Eleanor Arnason’s “A Ring of Swords” is set on a sex-segregated planet where homosexuality is the norm, highlighted by a minor character struggling with hetero feelings. There’s Storm Constantine’s Wraethu series (not totally sure if everyone in that society was gay or just every character who actually appeared in the books).

    Then there are gender identity themes, including Melissa Scott’s “Shadow Man” where galactic culture happily recognizes five, except on one planet….

    If I really dug into it I could probably come up with more. The late 80s-early 90s were particularly rich in that regard.

  207. On societies where everyone is gay….

    I haven’t actually read them, but Storm Constantine’s Wraethu series supposedly has a race that comes really, really close to being all homosexual that can reproduce with each other under certain circumstances.

    Beyond that, I got nothing.

  208. @ mythago

    (I mean, really. I’m a lawyer and even I don’t write sentences as head-scratch-inducing as “The basic premise you just have to accept -a priori-, or not. That’s why incommensurable value systems can’t do anything but ignore each other or fight.”

    I think S.M. Stirling was trying to say that value systems are subjective, i.e. based on non-falsifiable axioms.

  209. Gulliver says:

    >Bingo. But not all fights are by sword or gun.

    – true. However, you rarely win a discussion if you start by telling the other guy what a stupid scumbag he is. That should be the last thing you say, not the first, because the next step is a punch in the face… and it may be -his- fist and -your- face, which hurts.

    Note, that’s a tactical observation, not a moral one. It applies just as much if the guy really -is- a stupid scumbag. Telling him so may be satisfying and get you a warm glow of tribal solidarity from people who agree with you, but it’s rarely productive of anything much.

    To engage with someone effectively (even in outright combat) you need to be able to see things from their point of view; it’s perfeclty possible to do this WITHOUT AGREEING with them. It’s the ‘conditional hypothetical’.

    But try to convince some people of that. Witness several posts above, which seem to assume I’m a fundamentalist Christian or oppose gay marriage.

    (Of course, I’ve also been accused of being a Wiccan missionary, because some of the viewpoint characters in my books are Wiccans… and at least one real person did, by Ghu, actually convert to Wicca after reading one of my books. Go figure. I guess I’m really convincing when I set my mind to it, rather than committ a “gaffe”, which is defined “letting slip what you really think”… 8-).

    I’m actually an atheist: if you want to get specific, I’m a materialistic monist. But I have -absolutely no interest- in converting anyone to atheism. First, it wouldn’t work, and second, why on earth should I care?

    >Rest assured, though, if it comes down to the judgment of the sword, there are plenty willing to make sure it is their enemies who water the tree of liberty.

    – there is no Big Guy in the Sky who rewards virtue and punishes vice. Good guys don’t win; winners write the history and assume they’re Good Guys, thus promoting an optical illusion which eventually resulted in the Whig-Victorian myth of progress. Or they weep tears of hypocritical cheap contrition, like people wringing their hands over the Indians these days. But not, I note, proposing to vacate their homes.

    Personally I find the whole Good Guys/Bad Guys concept pretty well meaningless, except in the “I am I and I like what I like and I am for Me” sense.

    Change actually happens. Progess is a legend, like unicorns. It’s a form of the teleological fallacy, like confusing “evolution” (things changing) with “progress” (things getting, in some way, better). Evolution isn’t heading anywhere and doesn’t have a goal. It’s a random process. Evolutionary success just means breeding successfuly for a long time. The most evolutionarily fit creatures on Earth are single-celled. Bugs come close after that. We’re way, way down the list.

    >What a person or people are likely to get are those things for which they are willing to fight.

    – this is roughly equivalent to saying that if everyone obeyed the Golden Rule, the world would be a more agreeable place. Which is to say, it’s perfectly true, but completely meaningless.

    In BLACK EASTER, a very good little ironic fantasy by James Blish, a monk is present when the battle of Armaggedon starts. Satan shows up to say his side has won and overthrown God. The monk cries out (working from memory):

    “But it is written that in that final battle you shall be defeated and forever bound!”

    Satan replies:

    “OF COURSE. BEFORE EVERY WAR, BOTH SIDES PREDICT VICTORY. IT IS THE FIGHTING THAT COUNTS, NOT THE PROPAGANDA. YOU MADE A MISTAKE IN WHO YOU BELIEVED… AND AH, HOW YOU SHALL PAY!”

    This is something that should be kept continually in mind.

    >Rights are liberties you don’t let others deprive you of

    – one of the few occasions on which I’ve agreed with Jeremy Bentham was his observation that the whole concept of -natural- rights is “nonsense on stilts”. Which isn’t to say that rights don’t exist; they do, but as something human beings make up. “Socially constructed”, to use a horrible academic neologism. They’re a story we tell each other, like nations or classes. When enough people agree on a story, it becomes a real power.

    God doesn’t exist. But -religion- is as real as a rock; and like a rock, it can crush your skull.

    >or you die trying.

    – if you die, you don’t have anything, rights included. From your own p.o.v., when you die the entire universe simply ceases to exist along with you.

    Blind chance (aka “evolution”) has played a cruel trick on us by making us, unlike other animals, aware of this fact. Much of human civilization (and nearly all religion) consists of desperate intellectual contortions to try and avoid this conclusion and the terrifying ontological emptiness it implies.

    >You can reason the benefits and detriments of chosen values

    – but what you consider a benefit or a detriment is ITSELF a value judgement.

    And so you’re right back where we started, chasing your own tail in an infinite regression series.

    There is no connection between -is- and -ought-. All value judgments are simply arbitrary statements of subjective preference, of feelings. Whatshisname who John was quoting originally thinks homosexuality is wrong. I don’t. He has his opinion, I have mine. -Objectively- there’s nothting to chose between them, but then, objectively there’s no right and wrong and objectively there’s no reason to prefer life to death.

    I go with my subjective feelings and he goes with his. The difference is that I’m not fooling myself.

    >Oppression

    – you’re assuming there’s an objective standard of what -constitutes- “oppression”, rather than it simply meaning “something I don’t like” or “someone doing the dirty to me before I get a chance to do it to them”.

    During the American Revolution, the rebels often alleged that they were fighting against “slavery” imposed by the British; many of the -actual- slaves in the colonies *1 in every 5 people, at the time) expressed their opinion by deserting to the Crown.

    The great English writer Johnson observed with ironic wit: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the slave-drivers of the Negroes?” Like most things, oppression is in the eye of the beholder.

    >has historically proven an unstable equilibrium.

    – true, oppression (however defined) has proven unstable… along with absolutely everything else.

    This is another statement that’s true but which doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.

    “Historically” is a very long time. Historically, the -least- unstable equilibrium is rule by God-Kings, which endured for millenia, off and on.

    The last couple of centuries is a very, very small portion of historical time. A period of time isn’t more important in any real sense just because we happen to inhabit it. That’s another optical illusion, due to the egotism with which our genes endow us. 100 years in 3000-2900 BCE was just as long as in 1900-2000 CE.

  210. John, who decides what is ignorant/stupid/rude? You? What makes you the highest authority?

    Just remember when your pointing your finger at others, there are 3 pointing back at you.

  211. S.M. Stirling 10:59p: As far as our political system goes, I’m quite happy with gay marriage as long as it’s voted in, by State legislatures or by referendum. And vice versa.

    So, you’re in the “decide civil rights by referendum” camp. How convenient for you that YOUR civil rights will never be put to a majority vote.

    >Denying people of their rights based on what The Bible says, is not constitutional.

    – nope, this is bushwah. Eg., the Bible forbids murder. Does that mean it’s unconstitutional to outlaw murder?

    A man of your letters should be ashamed to employ so blatant a straw man. Of course it doesn’t; it means it’s unconstitutional to outlaw murder solely because the Bible says so. We have better reasons! Outlawing extreme harm to others is a good reason. The “harm to others” test is simplistic (and harm to others is a complex thing), but I think outlawing equal marriage clearly fails it. And adultery is borderline at best.

    ibid, March 9 12:05a: at least one real person did, by Ghu, actually convert to Wicca after reading one of my books.

    If they said they “converted” to Wicca they were either confused or lying. That’s not the terminology used by any Wiccans I’ve ever heard of. In fact very few Wiccans feel that they changed their religion at all in becoming Wiccan.

    Jamie 12:07a: John decides what’s too ignorant, stupid, and/or rude to be tolerated here, because this is John’s blog. On your blog, you can decide (if you choose) that any post that doesn’t begin and end with “Praise Jesus!” is too rude to allow; and most of us here will decide not to comment there. Just as you are free not to comment here.

    Really, feel free.

  212. Witness several posts above, which seem to assume I’m a fundamentalist Christian or oppose gay marriage.

    When you tell a group of people that you think they have a “powerful sense of entitlement”, have far more power than they actually have, and need to mind their manners lest somebody go after them with a pickaxe for their uppity ways, I think they can be forgiven for failing to perceive you as an ally.

  213. Hate is hate. You are just as hateful, if not more (which is pointed out by the numerous hate-filled words you posted).

    Not believing in the gay lifestyle for religious reasons does not make you a homophobe or a bigot. Do I hate you for not believing in a Christian view? No.

    Bigot is a term reserved just for true hate-filled people, such as yourself.

  214. David: There were people who said the same thing to Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
    Why are you being one of them?

    – sigh. Both Gandhi and King were shrewd judges of the political balance of power in the contexts in which they were operating.

    That is, Gandhi for example knew quite well what the British he was engaging in passive resistance against would and would not do in response.

    However, he tended to overgeneralize — for example, he told the Jews of Germany that they should use his methods against Hitler, and evidently thought they’d work against the Japanese if they overran India, too.

    So he was being shrewd in India, and had his head up his ass vs. a vs. Hitler and Tojo.

    You see my point? This is a -tactical- question, not one of being a Good Guy or a Bad Guy.

    As I’ve mentioned, I simply don’t find those categories meaningful at all, except in a propagandistic sense… and propaganda can be defined as “lies for fools”.

  215. @Xopher 6:48, re SIASL – You’re confusing an inner monolog by one of the characters with Heinlein’s own views. I’ll point out that this character has led a very constrained life up until that point in the novel and that her journey into enlightenment* is one of the primary subplots. By the end of the book, especially the uncut edition (which I find inferior for reasons having nothing to do with this anecdote), it’s strongly implied that far from being turned off or looking down on non-straight sex, she’s an enthusiastic participant in an attempted bisexual three-way. It’s tough to know for sure because we lose her as a viewpoint character as soon as Michael’s “conversion” is complete.

    @Jamie: John is his own highest authority on his own website, of course.

  216. Didn’t mean to comment and run – and my HTML skills aren’t up to quoting. To the person upthread who asked about intent – if it doesn’t bear any resemblance to what real women do in real life, it’s not character development. And if the women engaged in the lesbian acts aren’t otherwise fully drawn – if they are collections of body parts and mood swings, well, that’s all the evidence I need.

  217. mythago 12:21a: Hear, hear.

    Jamie 12:23a: You’re free to believe any damnfool thing you want, such as the contents of this post. And OF COURSE you define ‘bigot’ so as too exclude yourself. This is the self-serving practice time honored by racists, sexists, anti-Semites, and gay-haters. Not a shock to anyone here.

    Most bigots of all kinds are really casual and relaxed about it. They only get enraged when someone starts to challenge their bigoted assumptions. Rage generally is among the oppressed; the oppressors are smug until you take away their security. Nimis exaltatus rex sedet in vertice; caveat ruinam!

    And “no, no, YOU’RE the doody head” really belongs in the preschool playroom. Yes, I’m mocking you not only for being an ignorant bigot, but also for being childish.

    Andrew 12:27a: She’s his main mouthpiece at that point. Witness the sequence where she decides that it’s OK for men to look at naked pictures of women because women like to be looked at naked.

    You really can’t defend Heinlein (at least that early) on the topic of homophobia. Really. The Puppet Masters, where their test for who’s a commie—oops, no, I mean “taken over by the alien slugs”—at one point is whether they react sexually to a woman with big boobs? And they shoot any man who doesn’t? What do you think Heinlein is saying there? I know that I got the message loud and clear as a gay teen reading that crap.

    mythago 12:30a: Aye, that too.

  218. Jamie, the answer to your question is bleeding obvious. It’s his blog, he gets to make the rules here. If you don’t like them you can run your own blog.

  219. Hadn’t quite noticed this: 100 years in 3000-2900 BCE was just as long as in 1900-2000 CE.

    …but it’s bullshit. The number of years that go by is the same, yeah, but nothing else is. The amount of social (and, even more, technological) change from 1900-2000 would be equivalent to a FAR greater number of years in the third millennium BCE.

  220. Mythago: When you tell a group of people that you think they have a “powerful sense of entitlement”,

    – people who think they’re right generally -do- have a powerful sense of entitlement. That’s just a fact.

    That’s one of the evolutionary functions the neural capacity to feel moral sentiments fulfills. It’s like pleasure and pain, a goad to do things; but like those, it needs to be disciplined and controlled.

    As Aristotle put it, the mind needs to rule the feelings as an absolute monarch does his subjects. That’s part of growing up, along with realizing you’re not particularly important.

    And feelings of righteousness are much more common than the exceedingly scarce actual thing itself.

    For example, the Christian gentleman who John was criticizing -also- has a strong sense of entitlement, and of righteousness.

    But that, I assumed, went without saying. I wasn’t talking to -him-.

    This is one reason why I try to avoid feelings of righteousness; they can lead to inaccurate apprasials of the odds.

    And, as Winston Churchill said, “even when you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite”.

    In any situation where conflict is likely, I usually go on a pure calculation of the odds as closely and objectively as I can figure them, plus a pessimistic add-on for a safety margin.

    I’m perfeclty willing to fight (and kill, for that matter) if I think I can win and the prize is worth the risk, but otherwise… not, and it doesn’t bother me one little bit to lie and dodge and run and be a complete hypocrite if I think the odds are unfavorable at that moment.

    There’s always another day, and the number of people whose opinions of me I actually care about on an emotional level is one I can count to without taking off my socks.

    And one of that no-greater-than-ten number is a cat.

    I always like to understand where the other guy’s coming from first, though. It’s good tactics, and I find people are interesting — even those I disagree with. It’s an oddity of mine.

    NB: assuming other people are “really” like you somewhere deep inside, or could be, is a common but often fatal fallacy. Admittedly it’s a very hard one to avoid and I’ve fallen victim to it more than once. Although at least I don’t assume that other people could have the same sexual orientation as I if only they tried hard enough… 8-).

    >have far more power than they actually have

    – if you’d just read what I actually wrote, rather than what you -assumed- I wrote, I was talking about -perceptions- of power.

    Which can be actual power, sometimes, but sometimes not.

    In fact, what I said (by implication, admittedly) was that both fundamentalists and liberals tend to somewhat overestimate the power liberals have, because liberals are overrepresented in certain institutions and those institutions are ‘louder’ than others.

    (The later is simply a fact. Liberals are also underrepresented in some other institutions, like the military or some sections of business or people who go to church every week. Not totally absent, but proportionately fewer than in the general population.)

    Ironically, both liberals and fundamentalists also often think of themselves as embattled crusaders against Leviathan. And they’re both right in some situations.

    Both groups are strong; neither is going to go away. Not ever, as far as the forseeable future is concerned. It’s mud-wrestling to the horizon. Neither is being completely zany about attributing power to the other side the way, say, the Nazis were when they thought the Jews had a powerful global conspiratorial organization.

    >and need to mind their manners lest somebody go after them with a pickaxe for their uppity ways

    – if someone actually IS likely to go after you with a pickaxe handle, would it be a kindess to conceal or downplay the fact?

    Have you ever been beaten until you fall down and then kicked until bones break? I -have-. It’s serious business and not something to be risked lightly, and you don’t feel like a glorious martyr when it happens. You just feel like you’re getting kicked until bones snap and you may die Real Soon Now and it hurts -a great deal-. Not to mention the primal terror of death and the extremely unpleasant sensation of being completely at the mercy of muderously hostile enemies.

    When I was a little lad, my father gave me some good bits of advice on fights. One was “never get into one if you not pretty sure you’re going to win, unless you’re backed into a corner.”

    (Another was: “Always kick a man when he’s down. It’s much easier then.” We’re a practical family.)

    >I think they can be forgiven for failing to perceive you as an ally.

    – I am an ally, if you define that as wanting “Policy Outcome X, which you also want”.

    I’m not “on the team”, and I don’t do Tribal Solidarity Morale Chants, at least not about domestic politics. It’s not in my nature.

    And I don’t personally like or dislike people because I agree or disagree with their ideas — some of my friends are very religious (in ways ranging from pagan to extremely strict Mormon), some are atheists, some liberals, some conservatives, some gay, some straight, some bisexual, and one (that I know of) transgendered.

    If we disagree on something too strongly to discuss it amicably, I just shrug and avoid the topic. I don’t assume they’re stupid or evil, just that we disagree.

    Who knows? I could be the one who’s in the wrong; shockingly, it’s been known to happen.

  221. S.M. Stirling says: “As far as our political system goes, I’m quite happy with gay marriage as long as it’s voted in, by State legislatures or by referendum. And vice versa.

    Let the Sovereign People speak; it’s how we settle differences of opinion about policy issues.”

    Is that what we did during the Civil Rights era? Let the residents of the Southern states vote on a referendum to end segregation? Because if so, then I think there still would be “Blacks only” and “Whites only” facilities. It was the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 that outlawed discrimination against blacks. For that matter, is that what we did in the Civil War? The Sovereign People of the southern states spoke, and they wanted to form their own nation. The United States declared that they could not.

    I don’t think anything you’ve written since your original statements has clarified your position that the “uppity” homosexuals need to accept what they’re given and be quiet about it, lest someone kill them. (And frankly, staying in the closet hasn’t saved lives.)

    I think you’re being as disingenuous as Kirk “I have gay friends who support my opinions that they’re sick and evil” Cameron. You’ve written that you’ve been a best man at a gay wedding, but apparently, if the will of the people was to declare that your friends could not be legally married, or that their very existence should be outlawed, you’d be OK with that. What’s the saying about evil triumphing because good men remain silent?

    ***
    Jamie says: “Not believing in the gay lifestyle for religious reasons does not make you a homophobe or a bigot. Do I hate you for not believing in a Christian view? No.”

    But I bet you think Mr. Scalzi’s going to hell for not believing.

    Please also define “gay lifestyle.” Most of the gay folks I know go to work every day. We come home, make dinner, be with our loved ones. Sometimes, on the weekend, we get together with friends and engage in such debauchery as going out to eat in a restaurant or seeing a movie. We pay our taxes every April 15. We donate to charities. We take care of elderly parents or young children. In short, we live our lives without condemning those people who destroy marriage every day with their adulteries and divorces and second (or third or fourth) marriages.

  222. people who think they’re right generally -do- have a powerful sense of entitlement. That’s just a fact.

    Because I Said So is truth when your five-year-old is asking you for the nth time why she can’t have ice cream before dinner. As a rhetorical point, not so much. The Wise Man Surrounded By Bickering Fools role is tiresome, and really doesn’t make you seem wise, faux-folksy wisdom or no; it makes you seem as though you enjoy lecturing others, no matter how little you, yourself, understand about the topic.

    I’ll leave to others the hilarity of lecturing people supporting same-sex marriage that if they don’t mind their tongues, they might get a whuppin’. Wow, I bet nobody had any idea THAT ever happens! We all thought “gay bashing” meant a homosexual debutante ball.

  223. John, who decides what is ignorant/stupid/rude? You? What makes you the highest authority?

    My, you ARE quite slow. Who’s house is this?

    And…really…..you’re just posting a “Kick me” sign on yourself.

  224. >So, you’re in the “decide civil rights by referendum” camp.

    – yeah, pretty much, apart from the franchise, freedom of speech and freedom of political association. If you have those, you can work effectively to get others. It may take longer, but when you get it, it sticks and you’ve won it fair and square.

    Civil disobedience is justified if any of these is denied because it makes peaceful, democratic redress of grievances difficult and because the Constitution (the Civil War ammendments particularly) -explicitly- guarantee those and override local law in the matter. That was one of the things the Civil War was about, and why the Constitution was changed the way it was in the 1860′s.

    “Hard cases make bad law.”

    Political policy decisions should be decided -politically-. Doing an end run leaves the majority feeling disenfranchised, which is extremely politically corrosive and can damage the legitimacy of the political system as a whole.

    And yes, it’s more corrosive than leaving the minority feeling that way. Majority rule is also a basic principle, and the Sovereign People have a right to be idiots. It’s up to others to convince them different. This is one of those cases where the process (democracy) is more important than the product. If you override majority wishes, you’re disenfranchising them.

    >How convenient for you that YOUR civil rights will never be put to a majority vote.

    – actually, they are. -Everything- in our system is put to a majority vote of one sort or another at some time, ultimately, even Supreme Court decisions. They don’t “decide” anything effectively unless they’re reasonably in tune with majority opinion. You have to do the hard work of -changing- opinion to get legitimate (in the technical sense of “legitimate”) results.

    See the Dred Scott case for an example where a majority just didn’t accept the Nine Oldsters In Robes’ opinion. -That- one ended up by being decided by the 1860 election (and then Civil War). Lincoln campaigned, not least, against Dred Scott

    But there are plenty of others.

    In the 1890′s, the Supreme Court endorsed “separate but equal” racially segregated facilities. In 1954, it reversed itself. Why? Shifts in opinion in the country at large, basically. If the SC had come out in favor of abolishing racial segregation in the 1890′s, the result would not have been integration. It would almost certainly have been a Constitutional ammendment explicitly allowing racial segregation, along with massive pogroms. Opinion among the white population was just too overwhelmingly hostile.

    Now, to take another example, Roe v. Wade (I’m for unrestricted abortion on demand personally) was a borderline case but arguably a bad decision -from the viewpoint of guaranteeing abortion rights-. (It was terrible case law — I went through law school — but that’s another and largely technical matter.) Probably abortion would be more widely available, in practice rather than in theory, if the court had simply denied it had jurisdiction.

    A SC decision can “settle” things but only if that was what was going to happen politically eventually anyway; and ordinary politics gives a more stable result because you can point to a majority decision, the source of legitimacy in a democratic system. Otherwise, people tell themselves “we wuz robbed”.

    >Of course it doesn’t; it means it’s unconstitutional to outlaw murder solely because the Bible says so. We have better reasons!

    – all of them also ultimately derived from religious sanctions.

    >Outlawing extreme harm to others is a good reason.

    – that’s the Golden Rule. Guy named Jesus was fond of it… 8-). Gautama Buddha, too.

    >If they said they “converted” to Wicca

    – “took up the Craft” was the way they put it, IIRC. Conversion is the common-or-garden term we use for someone who switches religions. They were Baptist before, again IIRC.

    >In fact very few Wiccans feel that they changed their religion at all in becoming Wiccan.

    – odd, all the ones -I- know do, and I know a -lot- of them. Not to mention a lot of Asatruar, Celtic and Hellenic Reconstructionists, and whatnot.

  225. Xopher: The number of years that go by is the same, yeah, but nothing else is.

    – well, it’s just as long -to the people who lived in it-.

    The amount of social change in 1900-2000 was greater than in 3000-2900 BCE. Although arguably less than in 1800-1900. But that’s not what we were discussing, or at least so I thought.

  226. Xopher: I started to reply point by point, but we’re wandering FAR afield from the topic at hand (on which I agree with you; Kirk Cameron’s comments were offensive and showed a fundamental [heh] misapprehension of the meaning of “freedom of speech”). Suffice to say that I think you’re missing some subtleties especially in Jill’s “in-betweeners” comment; just because the author reports her thoughts doesn’t mean he agrees with them. I read it as “Jill still has a lot to learn about Michael and Martian philosophy if she’s that narrow-minded.” I won’t attempt to defend Puppet Masters except to point out that the book is 60 years old and society has changed a lot in that time.

  227. Keep up the good work. I caught a statement by KC where he claims if his daughter were raped he would make her carry the child to full term! This is the kind of thing evangelicals always say because they know they can’t be a victim. Anyone who says a 12 yr old should suffer for 9 months more and then the trauma of childbirth after being raped is EVIL! We need more real people to speak out against these monsters who think that only their opinions count.

  228. I also want to add: Kirk would probably say that rape and incest is “natural” and therefore should be allowed.

  229. Stirling: if you blart enough bile at them, they’re going to say “sod peaceful argument” and come after you with a pickaxe handle or a gun or a car bomb. That’s just the way human beings are.

    The only way I can parse this is if by “peaceful argument” you mean “never call a bigot a bigot and instead just ask can’t we all get along”.

    You’re lecturing people to be cowards. And you’re lecturing people to lie, to not call a bigot a bigot, because you’re afraid of what any bigot might do. And really, your problem here is that not everyone is as much a coward as you. but rather than say “I do such and such because *I* am afraid of someone come at me with a pick axe”, you try to bury the fact that its you you’re talking about by transforming your entire lexicon into statements of absolute fact. “That’s just the way humans are”.

    No.

    Maybe some people will use a pickaxe. But not everyone is terrified of that possibility to the point of lying to bigots on the off chance that they might have a pickaxe. You are. But not everyone else is. And you’re trying to present your fear-based worldview as if it is fact and everyone need follow it lest they face the pickaxe.

    But it never occurs to you that maybe some people are actually a bit more brave than you and that some people *know* about the slim possibility of a pickaxe but they decide the truth is more important than cowering in fear and appeasement to would be tyrants.

    “This guy is also expressing the growing resentment of a lot of people who perceive (with a large element of truth) that they’re being treated as if they were a tiny and reluctantly tolerated minority when they’re actually very numerous indeed”

    This also took a bit to parse. But if I translated it correctly, you’re saying “Kirk Cameron is expressing the growing resentment of a lot of other bigots who perceive they are being treated as if they are something not to be feared when actually they are very numerous.”

    Again, this is your personal fear based worldview coming in and getting translated and projected on everyone else. Maybe other people actually realize that there are quite a few of these bigots around but they’re not cowering in fear like you are and they’re willing to call a bigot a bigot.

    ” because their ideological opponents happen to have (a) a very powerful sense of entitlement and (b) a disproportionate amount of power in academia and the mainstream media.”

    This was even more difficult to parse, but this is what I got: Their ideological opponents (say for example, people who think bigotry is bad) feel entitled and have a disproportionate amount of power in academia and media.

    That’s a very odd thing to say about people who think bigotry is bad. So maybe you weren’t talking about bigots. It sounds almost as if you’re supportive of Kirk Cameron’s bigotry and are putting down anyone who would criticize him as having an unfair amount of privilege or something…. but won’t come out and say that because you’re afraid one of us owns a pickaxe or something. I can’t figure out why you’re talking in shadows, but that’s all I can come up with.

    – people who think they’re right generally -do- have a powerful sense of entitlement. That’s just a fact.

    No, that’s an assertion. It’s also circular logic. And its wrong. Why? Because again, you reduce everyone to fall within your worldview, and you’re worldview has reduced “truth” to nothing more than a “righteous opinion”.

    Bigotry is bigotry. One can call a bigot a bigot without being righteous about it. It can be nothing more than someoen reporting a fact. The sky is blue is a fact. And I can say it without being righteous.

    This is one reason why I try to avoid feelings of righteousness; they can lead to inaccurate apprasials of the odds.

    If you ever manage to put your fear-based worldview in check and understand that it is *your* *worldview*, not the god given truth about the universe you seem to think it is, then and only then will you realize just how righteous your “do not call a bigot a bigot for he might have a pickaxe” sermons sound to other people.

    As far as appraising the odds goes, that too is something you’re looking at through your fear based worldview. whatever “odds” you’re calculating isn’t based on the statistics of what’s so. It’s based on a worldview that says we should be polite to all bigots on the off chance that any comment sets them off.

    – if you’d just read what I actually wrote, rather than what you -assumed- I wrote, I was talking about -perceptions- of power.

    pickaxes are not perceptions. Try taking some responsibility for your actual words rather than simply what you think you’re saying.

    Ironically, both liberals and fundamentalists also often think of themselves as embattled crusaders against Leviathan.

    Your insertion of the word *often* there is a reflection of your worldview, not a reflection of the actual world. put another way, this needs be flagged as “original research” and “citation needed”.

    Have you ever been beaten until you fall down and then kicked until bones break? I -have-. It’s serious business and not something to be risked lightly, and you don’t feel like a glorious martyr when it happens. You just feel like you’re getting kicked until bones snap and you may die Real Soon Now and it hurts -a great deal-. Not to mention the primal terror of death and the extremely unpleasant sensation of being completely at the mercy of muderously hostile enemies.

    Again, you take your personal worldview and re-package it by changing all the points that should say *I* felt this and *I* thought that, and you transform them into absolute statements that apply to everyone: “you don’t feel like a glorious martyr when it happens”

    Consider that this happened to *you* and that it affected *your* view of the world, that now causes you to report an “inaccurate apprasials of the odds” far more pessimistic than reality would indicate.

    I’m not “on the team”, and I don’t do Tribal Solidarity Morale Chants, at least not about domestic politics. It’s not in my nature.

    What the fuck? Who on this thread demanded you make a “tribal solidarity morale chant”? The rare time you actually refer to yourself rather than make global statements, is again a time where you’re holding yourself as morally superior to some vague shadowy unnamed group guilty of doing something very strange like demanding you do the Tribal Solidarity Moral Chant.

    If we disagree on something too strongly to discuss it amicably, I just shrug and avoid the topic.

    OK. And you need to understand that this approach does not in any way make you morally superior to everyone else.

    “I don’t assume they’re stupid or evil, just that we disagree.”

    Again, you’ve reduced the real world to just the available options in your rather limited worldview. As a simple example, people don’t have to *assume* that a bigot is evil. Said bigot might actually have recently taken a pickaxe to someone he disagreed with, and no assumption is needed. Said bigot is *demonstrably* evil.

    All in all, you are demonstrating a moral fallacy I see a lot in people who declare themselves “independent voters”. They start by strawmanning Republican and Democrat positions into some absurd nonsense. Then they basically say that the public only follows the two main parties because most of the public is just sheeple. Then they declare that they are so much better than those sheeple voting for strawman candidates because *they* are (insert third party of choice).

    Kirk Cameron has tried to “prove” the nonsense that is “intelligent design” based on the ridges of a banana.

    That is *demonstrably* stupid. I don’t have to *assume* he is stupid and find out later I’m wrong. I can *see* that he’s stupid.

    All value judgments are simply arbitrary statements of subjective preference, of feelings.

    That is moral relativist nonsense. Bigotry is bigotry whether there is a *value* *judgement* assigned to it or not. I can call someone a bigot without reducing it to arbitrary statements. The only way to reduce it to arbitrariness is to argue stuff like “what does ‘is’ actually mean” at which point you get into whatever the opposite fallacy of reification. You’re taking real things and reducing it to parlor tricks of language, something real like bigotry becomes aribitrary subjectiveness.

  230. @Xopher: I remember feeling uncomfortable when I read STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND when I was a gay teenager as well. The POV character doesn’t just claim that Michael wouldn’t share water with gay men, but that he would twist them out of existence! Just about any early Heinlein has some awkwardly inserted bit of either homophobia or staunch assertion of heterosexuality. And yet, I always found it odd that so many of his novels followed the plot lines of old school gay daddy fiction, where a young pup, full of piss and vinegar, has a lot to learn from the older man.

  231. Jamie: Is that what we did during the Civil Rights era? Let the residents of the Southern states vote on a referendum to end segregation?

    – apples and oranges. The Constitution (as amended) allocates certain designated powers to the Federal government, and all others are reserved to the people or the States.

    The Civil War amendments were -explicitly- aimed at ending slavery, ending the disenfranchisment of blacks, and in general at establishing that blacks (vide Dred Scott, which was overturned by these amendments) were citizens. Until 1865 and the 13th amendment, the Federal government had no Constitutional right to interfere with slavery as established by the State governments (except wartime emergency legislation of dubious legitimacy); after that, it had a legal right to override the State governments -because the amendment said so-.

    Read the debates in Congress at the time. That’s what they said, and they should know, eh?

    Hence the Jim Crow laws passed by the Redeemer governments after Reconstruction were -always- substantively unconstitutional and beyond the authority of the State legislatures… though it proved politically impossible to enforce those ammendments for some time even if they were clearly -ultra vires-. So were the disguised methods used to disenfranchise black voters, though note that they at least attempted to disguise them as racially neutral literacy or tax qualifications.

    After 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education) the SC and the Feds started enforcing them again, essentially because opinions had shifted. Politics is always the art of the possible.

    But there is, alas, no right to gay marriage in the Constitution — just as there was no right to personal freedom from slavery in the Constitution before April of 1865 when the 13th was confirmed by the necessary number of States. The States (or even lower levels of government) have always handled marriage and divorce. Hence the Constitution simply has no bearing.

    You want to ammend the Constitution to put in a right of gay marriage?

    Fine! I’ll vote for it; I’ll send you a contribution; I’ll write my congresscritter; I’ll sign a petition to the NM state legislature; and I’ll do all that with perfect sincerity — I would like nothing better than to see such an amendment pass both Houses and the necessary number of States with overwhelming support.

    (I was strongly for the ERA, too, though I wasn’t a citizen at the time. Alas…)

    On second thoughts, wouldn’t you rather do it State by State? Because believe me, the chances of winning that way are a lot higher. In fact, if it weren’t for the threat of judicial imposition, we wouldn’t have Proposition 8 and its equivalents and we wouldn’t have dozens of amendments to State constitutions defining marriage narrowly in heterosexual terms.

    Have you ever heard the parable of the Slowly Boiled Frog? If you drop a frog into boiling water, it’ll jump right out. Legend has it that if you just gradually heat the water, it may well swim around until it cooks. It’s never a good idea to give the other side a wake-up call.

    >It was the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 that outlawed discrimination against blacks.

    – uh… yeah… that’s democratic politics in action, last I looked… and enforcing already existing sections of the Constitution. That stuff is a -federal- responsibility, hence Congress had jursidiction.

    The 13th and 14th amendments say so.

    Friend, “hard cases make bad law”. If you can interpret the Constitution to find whatever you want regardless of the text, someone else you like a whole lot less will eventually use the same argument to do something you really, really dislike.

    The Constitution is no absolute barrier to that (see the 1890′s “separate but equal” SC decision) but it’s better than nothing, and strict interpretation is the best way to retain its legitimacy as a restraint.

    >For that matter, is that what we did in the Civil War? The Sovereign People of the southern states spoke, and they wanted to form their own nation. The United States declared that they could not.

    – to be specific, the majority in the United States said they couldn’t. Before 1860, people usually said: “The United States are”. After 1865 they said: “The United States is”.

    The Republicans -won a Federal election- in 1860, and the South refused to accept the result. The rest of the country then enforced the majority (well, plurality) vote.

    The Constitution had no provision for secession; on the other hand, it didn’t forbid it either. But once one side appeals to arms… “intra armes, silent leges”. When weapons speak, laws are silent.

    “Why is it that treason doth never prosper? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.” That’s the reason George Washington is regarded differently from Jefferson Davis; he won his war, Jeff Davis lost his.

    >I don’t think anything you’ve written since your original statements has clarified your position that the “uppity” homosexuals need to accept what they’re given and be quiet about it, lest someone kill them.

    – well, it would be impossible to clarify that, because I simply didn’t say it. If you chose to spin it that way, that’s your business and nothing to do with me, at all.

    What I -said- (in more colorful language) was that trying to enforce gay marriage rights through the courts was a very bad idea; and that demonizing and name-calling were unproductive (and dangerous) and would very likely produce a massive backlash, even violence.

    (And that whatshisname’s position was not necessarily evidence of stupidity, merely of reliance on theological and philosophical assumptions I, and most people here, didn’t share.)

    -Those- I stand by, absolutely.

    Just because it feels good to call people you dislike names doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. It’s almost certainly a -bad- idea, in practical terms. It’s also a bad idea to assume that someone who believes something you consider wrong is necessarily dumb; not least, it makes you underestimate them.

    Sweet reason is less satisfying but usually more effective as a rhetorical tool.

    You may have noticed that our politics have gotten rather rebarbative lately. In fact, to the historically minded, they’ve become uncomfortably reminiscent of the 1850′s.

    Bad Things followed back then. Intra armes…

    To work, a democracy requires certain things: among them is a willingness to accept the outcome of elections, even when you -hate- the result and think it is wicked and bad.

    (The South thought Lincoln’s election was intolerable. Not a good precedent…)

    >but apparently, if the will of the people was to declare that your friends could not be legally married

    – at the time they -couldn’t- be legally married; they just had a service anyway. This happened over a decade ago.

    In the eyes of the law, they were just really good friends. And executors of each other’s wills and holders of powers of attorney and a whole bunch of other stuff I helped them draw up.

    Don’t confuse “legal” with “just”. The two are usually only remotely related, as anyone who’s had much involvement with the legal system can give you chapter and verse on. Law is what’s on the statute book and in the case law. Justice… that’s a wish and an opinion.

    >or that their very existence should be outlawed

    – where on earth did you get that one?

    >good men remaining silent

    – who’s silent? I’ve been supporting gay marriage politically since it became a political issue at all.

    I don’t think this sort of issue should be decided by the courts; there are principles involved which are more important, and it’s also tactically a bad idea (look at the way Roe v. Wade sowed dragon’s teeth still sprouting).

    State legislatures, yes. Referendum, super! Federal legislation, sorta difficult (which means the Defense of Marriage Act is probably also null and void, btw; you’d need a Constitutional amendment for that.). Constitutional amendment — sure, in theory I love it; I just don’t think it’s possible in practice and would likely boomerang. La luta continua.

  232. >The only way I can parse this is if by “peaceful argument” you mean “never call a bigot a bigot and instead just ask can’t we all get along”.

    – well, you can parse it that way. It’s grossly inaccurate, but this is a free country and if you chose to use bad logic, there’s nothing I can do about it except shrug.

    Shrug.

    Serioulsy, what do you think is going to be -accomplished- by calling whatshisname a bigot and sundry other nasty names? Leaving aside the question of whether he is one or not as irrelevant.

    Do you think he’s going to shut up? Reconsider his position?

    Do you think people who agree with him will suddenly slap themselves on the forehead and say:

    “How could I have been so blind? People I hate and profoudnly distrust anyway have called someone I agree with a bigot — I must repent and change my ways!”

    On the other hand, you could have engaged what he said. As I mentioned, he’s probably drawing on Aquinian natural-rights doctrine for his position; there are ways to attack that with logic and, at the very least, make him look bad.

    (Or at least make him look confused; I don’t think he’s too articulate.)

    By yelling at him, you accomplish… what? Besides confirming his views and giving them some superficial credence?

    >You’re lecturing people to be cowards.

    Or for that matter, what do you think you’re accomplishing by calling me a coward… when you’re safe behind a computer screen?

    Insults happen fairly frequently online. Odd… I wonder why that is… 8-).

    Have you ever seen people killed? Stepped over bodies? Seen blood splashed all over the walls and (this happens) the ceiling? Heard the relatives screaming their hatred and terror and watched them clutching the body? Smelled the stink?

    Personally known anyone who was stuffed into a trunk by the secret police and taken out into the bundu to be shot and watched them stutter and shake and cry as they described jimmying the lock and crawling through the bush in the dark and the nighmares and the way they wake up screaming over and over again?

    Had people seriously, personally tried to kill you and been compelled to use deadly force to stop them?

    I have gone through all of the above and damned RIGHT I’m cautious about ever risking any of it again.

    Anybody who says they aren’t is either blowing smoke because they have no personal experience of what they’re talking about or they have something seriously wrong with their wiring.

    >And you’re lecturing people to lie

    – mistaking opinion for truth, again. What is truth, as Pilate put it? You can state the diameter of the Earth and be (approximately) true. This other stuff… not so much.

    Dude, you need a generous helping of profound self-doubt.

    >but won’t come out and say that because you’re afraid one of us owns a pickaxe or something.

    – I can at least conceive of Cameron being a physical threat though I don’t think it likely. You, to be absolutely frank… not so much. However, my address is a matter of public record.

    >One can call a bigot a bigot without being righteous about it.

    – dude, do you ever -listen- to what you’re saying? Because you just illustrated my point about feelings of righteousness.

    People with feelings of righteousness -always- think they’re justified. What makes you different? Apart from your opinions, of course.

    Cameron thinks -you- are a bigot. Has some Epistemological Offical Certification Board given you the “You’re Right, He’s Wrong, You Get To Sing the I Was Right Song” award?

    >What the fuck? Who on this thread demanded you make a “tribal solidarity morale chant”?

    – snarf, hoot, guffaw… you really, really don’t realize that that is -exactly what you’re doing right now- by calling me names and expressing hostility?

    What is that but an attempt to sanction me because I didn’t join in your chorus and cast doubts on your assumptions? Stone the heretic! Stone him!

    Christ, they don’t teach logic in the schools at all these days, do they? Or the concept of “metaphor?”

    >OK. And you need to understand that this approach [not hating or shunning people because they disagree with me] does not in any way make you morally superior to everyone else.

    – from his own mouth…

    >All in all, you are demonstrating a moral fallacy I see a lot in people who declare themselves “independent voters”.

    – actually I’m a registered Democrat. I did that the day I got my naturalization papers. OTOH, there are some Republicans I like better than some Democrats. On balance, I find the Democrats more closely match my opinions and interests.

    Usually.

    >Kirk Cameron has tried to “prove” the nonsense that is “intelligent design” based on the ridges of a banana.

    – yup, that’s nonsense. However, just yelling YOU STUPID HICK! is not going to have any impact on him, or, more importantly, someone who might find this convincing.

    Demonstrating an error is much more effective.

    >That is *demonstrably* stupid. I don’t have to *assume* he is stupid and find out later I’m wrong. I can *see* that he’s stupid.

    – sigh. Do you really, really think that because someone has a -stupid belief- they are themselves -inherently stupid-?

    Got a sort of low opinion of the IQ of the human race, don’t you, fellah? High opinion of yourself?

    ’cause billions of people believe things -just as stupid- as the banana.

    I know perfeclty intelligent and well-educated people who genuinely believe they can affect the growth of their vegetable gardens by dancing naked in a circle at night with appropriate chants. And others who think they can read the future by casting the runes and who think they’re possesed by divine spirits now and then.

    Should I fight with them about this all the time?

    >That is moral relativist nonsense.

    – well, yeah, it is moral relativism of a sort.

    Now prove it’s nonsense. So far, you’re just making an assertion as if it were self-evident. And it ain’t.

    >Bigotry is bigotry whether there is a *value* *judgement* assigned to it or not.

    – dude, -your- conviction that it’s bigotry is -itself- a value judgment. Do you grok this yet? It’s opinions -all the way down-.

    As it happens, I make pretty much the same value judgement.

    I’m just not mistaking it for something other than my personal taste.

    >Something real like bigotry becomes aribitrary subjectiveness.

    – dude, a rock is real.

    An opinion actually IS arbitrary subjectiveness, and “bigot” is just a way of saying “opinion I emphatically disagree with”.

    You can’t even discuss whatshisname with someone who -also- disagrees with him without screaming and waving your arms.

    What’s the definition of a fanatic?

    It’s someone who cannot conceive of the possiblity of honest disagreement.

    And dude… I held out the shoe, and you have crammed it on your foot and are hopping around yelling: IT FITS! IT FITS!

    What’s even funnier is that you don’t realize it. This is like taking candy from a baby.

  233. I respect your view MR. CAMERON. Stick to your way of thinking.It sounds like most of these people haven’t read there BIBLE.

    I have, Sandra. I’m not so sure about people who like quoting Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13, but aren’t quite so big on Biblical literalism when it comes to keeping strict kosher, the involved ritual observance of the Sabbath, neither practicing nor profiting from usury, purity during menstruation and so on…

  234. Wow, I went to sleep here and when I came back, the comments started getting loooooooooong. I hope you’re all remembering to be reasonably polite to each other whilst you are replying at great length.

    Jaime:

    “John, who decides what is ignorant/stupid/rude? You?”

    You didn’t read the comment policy, did you?

    And of course in a larger sense outside of this Web site I rely on my own judgement as well. I also rely on my own judgement for deciding, among other things, when I should befriend someone, what I should read for fun, if I should purchase a new piece of electronics, and whether I should cross the street. I use my own judgement for a lot of things.

    Your implication that one need be the “highest authority” in order to make a judgement is silly, and summarily dismissed.

    I’m assuming the comment about pointing fingers is your bargain bin attempt at the “beam in your own eye” admonition, and my response to this is that it is not required that one need be perfect to know when someone else is being an ignorant bigot.

    And in any event if a bunch of ignorant bigots are pointing their fingers at me, what do I care about that? They’re ignorant bigots. And if the ignorant bigots in this case also happened to profess that they were Christians, they would be probably not particularly good ones, incidentally, as the Sermon of the Mount suggests pretty strongly that Jesus would say that the way to deal with a finger pointed at you would not be to point three fingers back.

  235. @SM Stirling:

    – sigh.

    Oh good, the Internet debating tactic that indicates such world-weariness at having to correct foolish foolish people. Good start.

    Both Gandhi and King were shrewd judges of the political balance of power in the contexts in which they were operating.

    That is, Gandhi for example knew quite well what the British he was engaging in passive resistance against would and would not do in response.

    However, he tended to overgeneralize — for example, he told the Jews of Germany that they should use his methods against Hitler, and evidently thought they’d work against the Japanese if they overran India, too.

    So he was being shrewd in India, and had his head up his ass vs. a vs. Hitler and Tojo.

    Heh, heh, heh. (see? Internet debating tactics all over the place). Any argument that requires that I think that Kirk Cameron is closer to Hitler and Tojo than the British in India is worthy of little more response than laughter.

    You see my point? This is a -tactical- question, not one of being a Good Guy or a Bad Guy.

    You’re acting as if those are exclusive categories.

  236. With regards to the S. M. Stirling sub-thread: I just went through something similar on another blog. I was trying to describe a concrete historical process and they were caught up on the psychological construction of the self and the universal motivations of humanity. Well, all and good, but I am not Dr. Manhattan. I am not looking at the world from aeons old eyes striving to record the closest thing I can to objective truth. So, yes, if I was Dr. Manhattan, I would probably have a similar but not identical take as Mr. Stirling. In the actual world of political choice and action, I try to make statements of more limited scope, but more immediate relevance. They would be critical of Kirk Cameron and supportive of the idea of respecting the rights of people whose existence and actions do no harm in themselves to others. That’s tolerance and in my case, I would go further to acceptance; I know “tolerance” sets off some people, but it’s the minimum required by civil society and to make this whole thing work it’s the only thing we can require of others.

    Where Mr. Stirling acually inhabits his body in this debate, he does seem to be full of existential fear. (“Cathect” if I want to be a pretentious windbag.) It may be justified or not, but I would not base my policies in this matter on such caution. One might also be mindful that for other people, taking this approach would be the equivalent of submitting to violence. Please don’t break my bones and I will let my existence be socially and possibly psychologically annihilated. Hopefully, if I I don’t make a fuss, no one will come sniffing after me and beat me anyway or beat others who may not even be gay, but who can be construed as such if it suits. Stirling suggests that one should do a cost/benefit analysis on whether to fight; maybe people who are differently situated have done their own personal calculations.

    And just to be a damn pedant, I do not think “socially constructed” is technically a neologism. And if you cannot understand its use (or misuse on occasion, I grant you) or value as a term, you may not be as clever as you think.

  237. The bad thing about free speech? It puts us in the uncomfortable position of defending it when used by Nazis, religious bigots, Rush Limbaugh, Kurt Cameron, the Christian Taliban, or the Westboro Baptist Church.

    That once they speak, it removes all doubt about their ignorance, intolerance and hate, is the most wonderful part of free speech. May your word follow you no matter where you go.

  238. @Craig Ranapia I don’t remember anyone quoting Leviticus.

    As for your having read The Bible, I believe you. I also choose to believe that your argument against those who quote that particular part of The Bible is a litmus test to determine whether those you are talking to have read or studied scripture. Almost any person who has read it, and every person who has studied it, could easily point to the sections that make your argument flawed. (In respect to John, I will not do so.) If that was your intent, I commend you.

  239. Zach, I would be interested in what refutes the Why don’t you take all of Leviticus literally? argument. I would guess it is Jesus releasing Gentiles from Jewish practices, but then where does he say, I am not rescinding the parts about homosexuality; those are still operative? (I say this with genuine curiosity as it has been quite a while since I read The Bible.)

    Minor correction: in the last paragraph of my last post: “it” refers to “socially constructed,” not “neologism.” One never makes a statment about someone else’s cleverness, etc. without invariably making one’s own error in the same post. Maybe it’s just me.

  240. Catfriend, yes, there are in fact Evangelical Christians who are progressive. If you want to read up on them just to be informed. go to http://www.sojo.net (sojourners community). They are Evangelical Christians who actually speak for the majority of the Evangelical Christians I know. They are strong on social justice, caring for the poor, and tolerance.

  241. You know, I really don’t care when one sect of Christianity has the Pope as the dude with the line to God, and another has no Pope. I could care less about Hassidic Jews thinking they’re the real authentic Jewish tradition (thought they tend to leave me alone in ways that the Baptist/Catholic split indicates Christian’s don;t leave each other alone)

    The thing is, each of these sects thinks they have the right Sekrit Decoder Ring about what God really wants. And many of them disagree. Among these sects are Christians who don’t believe that same sex marriage is a sin. I view other sects telling them they’re wrong with the same lens as I do with some Christians telling Catholics that transubstantiation is wrong, or with 7 day Adventists insisting God still wants Christians to keep the Sabbath.

    Sure your church may not support same sex marriage. But so what? That’s internal doctrine. You can’t claim with any more authority that same sex marriage is against the will of God than you can that eating shrimp is against the will of God. A religious conviction that same sex couples shouldn’t marry isn’t going to stop other churches from disagreeing, and no one is forcing a church internally to marry same sex couples.

    And that loops back to what Kirk Cameron does not get. He thinks he’s got the only valid interpretation of what god wants, which is not uncommon. But what he’s not getting is that that’s not really important. Other denominations disagree, and there’s no way to “settle the argument” any more than there is for me to settle an argument that eating shrimp is sinful. Internal doctrine needs to stay internal.

    If you think something isn’t denomination, like a prohibition on murder, by all means, make a secular argument. But once you start criticizing people outside of your denomination for breaking denominational rules, you’re not only proselytizing, you’re proposing a theocracy.

  242. But there is, alas, no right to gay marriage in the Constitution — just as there was no right to personal freedom from slavery in the Constitution before April of 1865 when the 13th was confirmed by the necessary number of States. The States (or even lower levels of government) have always handled marriage and divorce. Hence the Constitution simply has no bearing.

    If you did in fact go to law school in the US, you have long forgotten your Con Law. Do “incorporation”, “equal protection” and “rational state interest” ring a bell?

    This subject has been discussed at length on Whatever and plenty of other places. If you don’t care to educate yourself on why courts are finding that states cannot exclude same-sex couples from marriage, that’s entirely your prerogative. But it does mean that when you start opining as to whether those courts are wrong or what the law REALLY says, you’re going to make a fool of yourself. Please do not make the common mistake of assuming that because you are educated and reasonably articulate, that you know what you’re talking about in all things. Here, you plainly don’t.

  243. Kirk Cameron…you just spit out all your stupidity and put it on display. Ignorance its called.

  244. If you think something isn’t denomination, like a prohibition on murder, by all means, make a secular argument. But once you start criticizing people outside of your denomination for breaking denominational rules, you’re not only proselytizing, you’re proposing a theocracy.

    QFT, as the kids say these days. In a secular democracy, the only valid and reasonable reply to a “God/The Bible says…” regarding public/social policy issues is “So what?”

  245. But there is, alas, no right to gay marriage in the Constitution…

    The Constitution is not a list of things allowed to citizens. It’s a list of things allowed to government. No, there is no right to gay marriage in the Constitution. There wouldn’t be, because it applies to government and the allowed functions thereof, not to the citizenry.

  246. @privateiron Without going into a long explanation, which our host has explicitly told us not to, I can only say reread The Bible. I would suggest reading a Study Bible (buy one or borrow one from a library). Currently, I do my studies in the ESV Study Bible. However, I use other translations as well . And if you are so inclined, attending or auditing a class on Bible Study would help.

    Or wait for John to post on the subject, and ask me again. Assuming I am involved in the comments.

  247. There is also nothing in the Constitution that say “redheads should have the same rights to marry as everyone else”, yet I suspect most of us would be a little puzzled at an argument that says a state can prohibit redheads from marrying.

    @privateiron, the snarky answer is that if you’re a Christian, the laws that you don’t want to follow (like eating bacon) are “ritual” laws and therefore don’t count. The cynical answer is that converting people to your faith is a lot easier if you don’t dump a bunch of laws on them which they are resistant to following, and so “It’s OK, God changed His mind about that whole calamari thing” is helpful in that regard.

  248. Zach – @9:02 you state you could “easily point to the sections that make [CR's] argument flawed.” But now you’re saying you can’t do it “without going into a long explanation.” Which is it?

  249. Tim: I remember feeling uncomfortable when I read STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND … Just about any early Heinlein has some awkwardly inserted bit of either homophobia or staunch assertion of heterosexuality.

    Heinlein was a “there is no such thing as society” flavored nut. He forwarded the mutually exclusive notions of libertarianism and militarism at the same time. He held a “each of us is an individual who must stand alone to be truly free” notion simultaneously with a “the only people who should be allowed to control the power of the state are people who have served in the military and civilians will be granted freedom under military rule.”

    http://www.warhw.com/2012/02/26/starship-troopers-novel/

    That Heinlein had wacky views about homosexuality is no surprise.

    Stirling: Serioulsy, what do you think is going to be -accomplished- by calling whatshisname a bigot and sundry other nasty names? Leaving aside the question of whether he is one or not as irrelevant.

    But that’s just it. IT”S NOT IRRELEVANT. You’re cowering at the idea of someone speaking TRUTH because someone else might grab a pick axe. You’re telling people to STOP TELLING THE TRUTH because YOU are afraid of the response it might generate. YOU.

    And you’re not presenting it as “I am worried Mr. Cameron might grab a pick axe”. Instead you are TELLING EVERYONE ELSE that they should not speak THEIR truth because the world is full of pick axes.

    Do you think he’s going to shut up? Reconsider his position? Do you think people who agree with him will suddenly slap themselves on the forehead and say: “How could I have been so blind? People I hate and profoudnly distrust anyway have called someone I agree with a bigot — I must repent and change my ways!”

    This is so much smoke and mirror right now. You’re completely off the subject. If “effectiveness” is really your ultimate goal, then I’ll tell you what, why don’t you go and use whatever *you* think is the “right” way to educate Kirk Cameron of the error of his ways, and when Kirk Cameron announces that he realizes his mistake and owes it all to you, then and only then, do you have any evidence whatsoever that your approach is about “effectiveness” in changing a bigot’s opinion, rather than about just keeping your head down and avoiding pickaxes.

    On the other hand, you could have engaged what he said. As I mentioned, he’s probably drawing on Aquinian natural-rights doctrine for his position; there are ways to attack that with logic and, at the very least, make him look bad.

    Then by all means, convert Mr. Cameron with your superior ways. Educate him. Have him come out and confess the error of his ways and that he owes it all to you and your “method” of bigot reform, the “be polite and don’t call a bigot a bigot” method. When Cameron publicly confesses a change of heart, I promise you will have my full attention.

    Until then, though, you’re “What does speaking truth accomplish? Will it convert Mr Cameron?” is as far as I can see nothing but an attempt to take your “do not anger those who might have a pickaxe” and give it a sheen of “I know how to convert a bigot” attitude. If you want to discuss converting bigots, convert Mr Cameron and you will have my utmost attention as to your methods for doing so.

    Or for that matter, what do you think you’re accomplishing by calling me a coward…/i>

    The truth is all I’m interested in. Do you or do you not live your life through a worldview of fear? If do NOT, then I am grossly misreading your posts. If you DO, then you need to realize that you’re *projecting* your fear onto everyone else, telling them to fear the world the way you do because you think that’s how the world really is, when in fact its sourced by your worldview, not the world.

    Now, if you want to argue that I can only say that to you if my words somehow *accomplish* something other than having a conversation, that’s back to the distraction and misdirection of “speech must be functional” argument. I am not looking to “convert” you, I’m having a conversation with you about how your words are occurring for me. And how they’re occurring for me is you have a worldview of fear and your worldview isnt the same as the world.

    Have you ever seen people killed? Stepped over bodies? Seen blood splashed all over the walls and (this happens) the ceiling? Heard the relatives screaming their hatred and terror and watched them clutching the body? Smelled the stink? Personally known anyone who was stuffed into a trunk by the secret police and taken out into the bundu to be shot and watched them stutter and shake and cry as they described jimmying the lock and crawling through the bush in the dark and the nighmares and the way they wake up screaming over and over again? Had people seriously, personally tried to kill you and been compelled to use deadly force to stop them? I have gone through all of the above

    What does that have to do with Kirk Cameron?

    Seriously. That is fundamentally the issue I am having with the sort of advice you are dishing on out this thread. This thread about Kirk Cameron, former child TV star. Kirk Cameron. Your first post on this thread comes with the advice:

    Treating people politely … if you blart enough bile at them, they’re going to say “sod peaceful argument” and come after you with a pickaxe handle or a gun or a car bomb. That’s just the way human beings are.

    Is that just the way Kirk Cameron is? Is Kirk Cameron at risk of responding to these sorts of threads about him with a pickaxe, a gun, or a car bomb?

    It seems to me that you are bringing your worldview of fear into a conversation where your worldview (car bombs) no longer matches the actual world at hand (Kirk Cameron).

    Given the list of horrible violence you and your family and friends have suffered, I would offer that you might be looking at the world through the filter of post traumatic stress syndrome. You might find some relief if you find a professional who specializes in treating PTSD, and if their treatment doesn’t help you, find another one, cause some are better than others.

  250. Mythago: I understood that was the general reason. I was hoping Zach had some Bible fu where he could make a different argument. (Well, not exactly hoping, but you know what I mean.) The delineation between ritual and non-ritual is also pretty slippery. I think it does boil down to: my sister loses my socks if I try to make her sequester herself, but everyone in the village agrees we all hate the LGBT Front of Caesara.

    Zakur: I agree that a few short citations would probably have not provoked the mallet.

  251. @ S.M. Stirling

    I’m not sure why you seem to assume I believe in god(s), religion, teleology, moral objectivism or “natural” rights. I most certainly do not. I believe you fight for your principles or you lose and someone else writes the history books. If you risk nothing, you may lose nothing, but neither will you gain anything. All the rest is sophistry.

    but what you consider a benefit or a detriment is ITSELF a value judgement.

    No. Something is beneficial or detrimental to some end. What ends one seeks are determined by values (conscious or otherwise), but consequences are deterministic, not value judgments. Noumena are empirical reality no matter where you or I draw the borders.

    Blind chance (aka “evolution”) has played a cruel trick on us by making us, unlike other animals, aware of this fact. Much of human civilization (and nearly all religion) consists of desperate intellectual contortions to try and avoid this conclusion and the terrifying ontological emptiness it implies.

    You may be terrified by it. I consider it an affirmation of humanity and sentience that we must forge our own meaning if we are to have any. Not having Truth handed down on a silver platter, having instead to work it out the hard way, makes it all the more satisfying.

    Either way, it is what it is, and being terrified by it is a complete and total waste of time and energy. Why let yourself fear the absence of what does not exist? You speak of Aristotle’s emphasis on remaining in control of your emotions, and I happen to agree (even though I don’t tell other people they aren’t adults if they don’t share my path to enlightenment), so what use is existential terror?

    You can choose values, reason their moral framework, and fight for them in word and deed, or you can go hide under a rock. Guess which I choose.

    And so you’re right back where we started, chasing your own tail in an infinite regression series.

    I’m dealing with empirical reality. You apparently make a boatload of unfounded assumptions (I’d call them starwmen, except I’m fairly certain you’re being sincere) about my philosophical outlook on life, then proceed to “correct” them with statements of the obvious. Understand that I’m not bothered by you doing so, but I’m slightly baffled why you think I hold every superstitious notion since Anaximander.

    I go with my subjective feelings and he goes with his. The difference is that I’m not fooling myself.

    Good for you.

    The great English writer Johnson observed with ironic wit: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from the slave-drivers of the Negroes?” Like most things, oppression is in the eye of the beholder.

    No, it’s not. Hypocrisy is not subjectivity. Oppression is the coercive control of someone else who is not themselves exercising force over the oppressor (i.e. not self-defense). Once you define the boundary conditions, you can empirically indentify if something falls within them. The material world exists. How we map it is subjective, but before or once mapped, the thing we have mapped is not itself subjective. For example, laws are a human artifact, but they are not unreal. They have real, material consequences. If you want to argue that all words’ meanings are subjective, that is as true an observation as it is useless. All definitions are subjective in their boundary conditions. The universe they observe is still as real as it gets and is not contingent in its structure on the viewpoint of the observer(s). Evolution worked fine before Darwin. So if you want to define oppression as something without hard and fast boundary conditions, have at. I’m using my definition.

    “Historically” is a very long time. Historically, the -least- unstable equilibrium is rule by God-Kings, which endured for millenia, off and on.

    And how long, pray tell, did any one God-King reign before a nice blood-drenched transfer of power?

    As Aristotle put it, the mind needs to rule the feelings as an absolute monarch does his subjects. That’s part of growing up, along with realizing you’re not particularly important.

    That’s pretty subjective. Importance requires an object as well as a subject. Something is only important to someone else. To the universe, you are neither important or unimportant; the question of objective importance is nonsensical.

    I’m perfeclty willing to fight (and kill, for that matter) if I think I can win and the prize is worth the risk,

    More subjectivity. You accuse others of making assumptions while you’re making plenty of assumptions.

    If you override majority wishes, you’re disenfranchising them.

    If the majority wishes to exercise tyranny over the minority, you believe they best thing is for the minority to lay back and think of England? What happened to fighting back when you’re cornered? By your own admission, you’ve been the victim of tyranny. If no one fights tyranny, it continues to claim victims.

    @ Jamie

    Not believing in the gay lifestyle for religious reasons does not make you a homophobe or a bigot.

    No, trying to stop others from living their life as they choose because you don’t believe in it for religious reasons does indeed make you a bigot. You’re welcome to your opinions; when you try to force others to live as you choose, expect resistance.

    @ Andrew Hackard

    You’re confusing an inner monolog by one of the characters with Heinlein’s own views.

    I have never understood the tendency to conflate fictional characters’ and cultures’ views with their authors. I guess this is why the villain is rarely allowed victory. Since I prefer to draw realistically flawed characters and societies, and eschew the idealized heroes and utopias, I include a nice big disclaimer in front of all my stories to that effect.

    @ gwangung

    And…really…..you’re just posting a “Kick me” sign on yourself.

    It’s called trolling. Don’t feed them and they eventually wander off to get their attention fix elsewhere.

    @ Greg

    Heinlein was a “there is no such thing as society” flavored nut. He forwarded the mutually exclusive notions of libertarianism and militarism at the same time. He held a “each of us is an individual who must stand alone to be truly free” notion simultaneously with a “the only people who should be allowed to control the power of the state are people who have served in the military and civilians will be granted freedom under military rule.”

    Only if you believe he supported every idea in his stories. If you want a real Heinlein discombobulation, read Beyond This Horizon with its post-capitalist social credit system and a protagonist who finds a stasis-preserved businessman’s infatuation with American exceptionalism and laissez-faire economics quaintly barbaric, and who doesn’t know who Adam Smith is despite being The Smartest Dude in the Future.

    Personally, I enjoy the stories and don’t worry about the politics. If I want to know an author’s personal beliefs, I’ll find a nonfiction book by them or track them down and ask them, but usually I don’t much care.

    a button, a button, my kingdom for a preview button…

    Seconded, even though it might be kind of unrealistic to expect John to switch hosting services just to get a different CSS with a preview button. But it’s worth a shot :)

  252. Mythago – one SSM advocate to another, my research indicates there’s never been a SCOTUS decision on state laws on age limits being recognized from state to state, consanguinity laws (AKA “Cousin marriage) and so on.

    Federal Circuit courts have upheld marriages from one state needing to be recognized in another, though.

    You are an actual lawyer, so you’d know better than I the actual case history. But so far as I know, the full faith & credit clause has never been applied to marriage law by the SCOTUS.

  253. Bravo!
    Thank you for that side-splittingly good explanation of free speech, and how it means the other side gets to speak, too. Also, bonus points for addressing the oft-neglected and oftener-abused concept of “unnatural.”

  254. @zakur Matt 5:17-19 while also taking into account the rest of ch5 and 6 along with Rom 3:31, ch7:12, 10:4, 13:8, Gal. 3:10, James 2:10, Luke 16:17, ch 24:35, 1 Cor 3:12-15.

    Acts 10:10-16 while taking into account Ezek 4:14, Lev 11:2-47, ch 20:25, Rom 14:2, 14, 20 Matt 15:11.

    Some advice my pastor gave me about reading The Bible helped me understand parts of it better. “Context is important. This refers to that which goes before and that which follows. Any time we seek to understand the meaning of a verse we must see it in its context. When looking at a word: the context becomes the sentence. When looking at a sentence: the context becomes the paragraph, a paragraph…the book, a book…other books by the same author.” You can see the trend.

    Failure to see context is why there are irrational people who still stone adulterers and attack homosexuals. It is also why there are people who think “I’ve been saved, so I can do whatever I want.”

  255. Having sex with a family member is pretty gross, animals even do it and it is not necessarily wrong when scrutinized under philosophical ethics but something about it is “unnatural”. When you examine Bonobo Monkeys they use sex as a commodity, which basically boils down to sex for pleasure. Is that all what homosexuality is? Sex for pleasure? Animals don’t have ethics, they will have same-sex sex, sex with family members, sex regardless of age, even cross species sex. So we now are looking at the animal kingdom to find out what is ethical behavior?

    What is the mechanism that makes someone homosexual? And why? Is it just an anomaly? Is homosexuality a behavioral choice? It seems like we define homosexuality based on someones behavior. There is no genetic or physical trait homosexual test (that I know of). I understand that some homosexuals have the brains of the opposite sex, but I don’t know if that comes from the environment or initial conditions.

    Bottom line for me is I don’t care if someone behaves in a homosexual manner. I just don’t like people telling me it is a “natural”, normal behavior. I don’t discount the possibility that it is more than behavior but is actually innate in the human genome. But I still ask the questions of how and why?

  256. “[P]eople who perceive (with a large element of truth) that they’re being treated as if they were a tiny and reluctantly tolerated minority when they’re actually very numerous indeed, because their ideological opponents happen to have (a) a very powerful sense of entitlement and (b) a disproportionate amount of power in academia and the mainstream media.”

    Yes, S.M. Stirling, that’s pretty much how it looks to me — oh, wait, you mean they think they’re unfairly regarded as a trivial minority and that we have prestige and influence disproportionate to our numbers . . . ?

  257. Gulliver: Only if you believe he supported every idea in his stories.

    Heinlein *said* he wrote Starship Troopers in response to SANE calling for reasonable nuclear weapons policy in general (and an end to above ground nuclear testing specifically). He had moved out of Los Angeles specifically because LA was a major nuclear target for the Soviet Union and Colorado was in the middle of nowhere. “Tramp Royal” written in 1954 defends the McCarthy hearings. In 1956, the pentagon announced that it was building NORAD headquarters in… wait for it… cheyenne mountains, Colorado. Heinlein responded by building a bomb shelter on his property. SANE was started in 1957, and in 1958, it started a campaign calling for unilateral suspension of nuclear weapon testing. Starship Troopers came out in 1959. In it, heinlein’s characters refer to the “bugs” as communists, hive mind, and that their military strategy relies on throwing their soldiers into the meat grinder as fast as possible. The protagonist personally detonates at least three tactical nuclear weapons during the course of the story. And the big battle scene at the end starts with humans establishing a “beachhead” on a major bug planet by nuking one of the islands down to glass.

    Heinlein *said* he wrote Starship Troopers specifically in response to SANE calling for an end to nuclear testing at the height of the cold war arms race. The enemy in ST is a thin veneer for the Soviet Union. And the humans use tactical nuclear weapons like they were hand grenades and strategic nuclear weapons like they were artillery.

    In 1961 (two years after writing Starship Troopers), as Guest of Honor at the Nineteenth World Science Fiction Convention in Seattle, Heinlein would declare that with a certainty of 90% the future held just three possibilities: Russia would destroy us in a war; we would collapse internally and surrender to the Russians; or we and Russia would destroy each other, and China would be the victor. Whichever was the case, one-third of us would die. Heinlein advised his audience to build fallout shelters, stock unregistered weapons, and die gloriously.

    This was the mentality of the man leading up to and immediately after Starship Troopers came out. I think it safe to say, some of that mentality seeped into his novel.

    If I want to know an author’s personal beliefs, I’ll find a nonfiction book by them or track them down and ask them, but usually I don’t much care.

    Sure, fine. But is it all right by you if I care?

    Or that having studied Heinlein a bit, I have found his extremists personal views found a voice in his fiction?

    I mean, one can read “Atlas Shrugged” and insist that since its labled as “fiction” that we cannot possibly read anything into the story, that we cannot possibly plumb Ayn Rand’s personal political views and find that she gave them voice in stories such as “Atlas Shrugged”.

    I don’t think that’s the case though.

  258. stewie:

    “I just don’t like people telling me it is a ‘natural’, normal behavior.”

    And? There are people who don’t like being told that the Earth wasn’t created in six days, either. What you don’t like being told has no bearing on what is.

    Beyond that, your comment is full of many levels of fail, from the association of homosexuality with incest to the spectacularly bad implication that homosexual behavior is in some manner rooted in unethical behavior. The reason it’s not deleted is that I don’t believe you’re trying to troll, you’re just deeply out of your depth with the argument you are trying to articulate.

    And regardless of any of that, what you’re doing here is attempting an argument that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’; you’re just coming at it from a different direction. Please go back and re-read the entry for my feelings on attempting to promulgate that sort of argument.

    Everyone else:

    It’s probably best not to follow up on stewie’s post.

  259. @ stewie

    Having sex with a family member is pretty gross, animals even do it and it is not necessarily wrong when scrutinized under philosophical ethics but something about it is “unnatural”.

    Sex with close relations can lead to offspring that have an exceedingly high likelihood of crippling or fatal genetic disorder. There is outlawed as much for health reasons an any cultural mores. Some biologists have hypothesized that instinctual aversions to are selected for because such disorders often prevent the transmission of the genome.

    I just don’t like people telling me it is a “natural”, normal behavior.

    From your statements I can understand why you might disagree with them, but I wonder why you don’t like it. I frequently disagree with people without disliking that they say the things I with which I disagree. As for the term natural, at it’s core it is only a useful way of delineating the products of sentience from everything else.

    But I still ask the questions of how and why?

    How is an empirical scientific question. Why is not. Biology doesn’t have whys, only hows. Why is for philosophy.

  260. @ John Scalzi

    Eeek, sorry :-(
    Refresh is my friend. Refresh is my friend. Refresh is my friend…

    @ Greg

    Sure, fine. But is it all right by you if I care?

    Wouldn’t stop you if I could. I was just adding my opinion. Never said you were obligated to agree.

    I mean, one can read “Atlas Shrugged” and insist that since its labled as “fiction” that we cannot possibly read anything into the story, that we cannot possibly plumb Ayn Rand’s personal political views and find that she gave them voice in stories such as “Atlas Shrugged”.

    Rand and Heinlein both had very strong and well publicized political views, much of which I strongly disagree with. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed Starship Troopers and (to a lesser extent) Atlas Shrugged (the interminable character monologues got old fast). Gene Rodenberry had very strong political views which changed dramatically over the course of his career and reflected in the differences between Star Trek installments. But when I read or watch or otherwise take in a work of art or entertainment, I take it at face value because my imagination gets more out of it that way than if I’m focused on ferreting out every possible contextual influence on the creator when they created it. If a more interpretative approach pleases you, I’m glad

  261. I never reply to fictional characters from Family Guy, no matter how flaming a closeted homosexual they are.

    Oh, no wait, didn’t Stewie come out of the closet?

  262. zakur et al: Just briefly, there are some Christians sophisticated enough to reject Levitican law, but who find New Testament reasoning to object to homosexual behavior. There’s nothing in the Gospels, to be sure, but unfortunately for the unhappy world, the NT also includes the Epistles. Those are accepted as doctrinal by most Christians, unlike Leviticus (where the laws are for the Israelites, in fulfillment of that people’s special covenant with YHVH, as any Jew will tell you).

    Now, the King James translators had a bug up their collective asses about homosexuality. They highly disapproved of James’ blatant affairs with other men, and they twisted their translation to make some pointed remarks in his direction. Scholarship reveals that Paul was actually mostly talking about massive loveless debauchery and orgies, and maybe about male temple prostitution…all of which are at the opposite end of the scale from two men or two women wanting to get FFS married.

    But if you want to refute someone arguing from Paul, all you have to do is ask them if they think women should keep silent in church, if they support legal prohibitions on red garments, if they share Paul’s support of the legal institution of slavery…it’s kinda easy. There’s even a passage where he says never to sleep! (That one’s more useful on people who believe the whole Bible is to be taken literally though.)

  263. The fear that Stirling (and a few others way at the beginning) have mentioned, of being mouse-quiet to avoid physical violence, is quite real. There’s nothing like going through life, hiding who and what you are, passing up opportunities to be what one feels one truly is, for fear of being beaten. Or forced out of one’s home. Or fired for some trivial thing when the real reason is because one isn’t pure-and-straight. Where to be oneself, one loses all support of family, of friends. Yes, there’s laws on the books about those things. Enforced by people with other opinions.

    An interesting bit about freedom: you get to watch other people exercise it, even when you don’t like what they’re doing.

  264. @Xopher: It’s also worth pointing out that Paul himself says “Don’t take scripture too literally” (Rom 7:6, 2 Cor 3:6).

  265. Colin wrote:

    The bad thing about free speech? It puts us in the uncomfortable position of defending it when used by Nazis, religious bigots, Rush Limbaugh, Kurt Cameron, the Christian Taliban, or the Westboro Baptist Church.

    No, Colin, that’s the wonderful thing about taking a principle seriously enough that you stick it, even when it’s distasteful or plain bloody hard. This is about the only time you’ll ever see me quoting Noam Chomsky but he’s right: If you don’t believe in freedom of speech for people you despise, you don’t really believe in freedom of speech at all. It’s easy to defend those who think and look like you, isn’t it?

    Zac wrote:

    As for your having read The Bible, I believe you. I also choose to believe that your argument against those who quote that particular part of The Bible is a litmus test to determine whether those you are talking to have read or studied scripture.

    Fine — but no. I believe you’ve rather adroitly swerved to avoid my question – which proves my point, doesn’t it? Hell, I can selectively mine the Bible for context-free verses to justify slavery, statutory rape, smacking your uppity bitch up and fifty other kinds of unpleasantness I hope our laws and social customs frown upon in 2012 — even in the buckle of the Bible Belt. (I won’t because, as you’ve noted, our host has explicitly asked us to avoid playing scriptural “Yo mama!”)

    But I think it’s entirely fair to ask people who are going to quote TWO SHORT VERSES from Leviticus to do down the gays whether they’re as staunch when it comes to… well, the more lengthy extensive passages on dietary restrictions.

  266. xander: The fear that Stirling (and a few others way at the beginning) have mentioned, of being mouse-quiet to avoid physical violence, is quite real.”

    Fear, as an emotion unto itself, is quite real.

    But it isn’t applicable on this thread about Kirk Cameron. It isn’t reality-based, unless Kirk Cameron is realistically expected to start taking pickaxes to people and planting car bombs.

    The fear of Kirk Cameron going all Unabomber on people is a real *fear* because any emotion is a real emotion, but it isn’t a *reality* *based* fear.

    Its a somewhat subtle but important linguistic distinction.

  267. I think everyone here would agree that Kirk Cameron != Eric Rudolph. Let’s not exaggerate. He’s a jerk, a bigot, and a failure as an actor and a human being…but as far as I know he’s never killed anyone over it. I expect he never will.

  268. Blind chance (aka “evolution”)
    I just wanted to pop in to say, Mr. Stirling, you fail biology forever.
    That’s all.

  269. I mean, one can read “Atlas Shrugged” and insist that since its labled as “fiction” that we cannot possibly read anything into the story, that we cannot possibly plumb Ayn Rand’s personal political views and find that she gave them voice in stories such as “Atlas Shrugged”.

    I don’t think that’s the case though.

    I’m not sure Ayn Rand – whose fiction was knee-in-the-nads subtle polemic – is a terribly good example. I’m fairly certain our host would not like people presuming he shares the opinions (or endorses the actions) of every character in his novels. At least I hope not. :)

  270. Due to the beauty of the First Amendment that you speak of, I can tell you “You’re entitled to your stupid, petty, awful, hateful bigoted opinion” just like Mr. Cameron is!

  271. @ Craig Ranapia

    I’m not sure Ayn Rand – whose fiction was knee-in-the-nads subtle polemic – is a terribly good example. I’m fairly certain our host would not like people presuming he shares the opinions (or endorses the actions) of every character in his novels. At least I hope not. :)

    My thinking is this. For many and probably most authors, their beliefs will find their way into their fiction. But so will all sorts of views that aren’t their own. And it’s simplistic to assume the protagonist(s) are mere mouthpieces for the author, or that they live in the author’s personal utopia. I know when I write stories, the characters reflect an internal mental dialogue between people very different from who I am, and their settings are sandboxes I would, in many cases, fight tooth and nail to prevent from becoming reality. Consequently, trying to pry an author’s beliefs from their fiction is bound to backfire. In the case of Heinlein, it’s also unnecessary, as he was forthcoming about his politics. Ayn Rand, while drastically different from Heinlein (who was far from an objectivist), was even less shy. Hell, she started a newspaper to promulgate her philosophy.

    @ John Scalzi

    John, you must have a lot of black turtlenecks. You wear the same top every day. Doesn’t it get hot in the summer?

  272. I’d just like to say that I love the word ‘exegesis’. It’s almost as good as ‘pathognomonic’ or ‘callipygian’ (and that last I like more for its meaning than its sound).

    If you have a theological discussion breakfast, would it be called “Eggs and Exegesis”?

    As for Ayn Rand, have you noticed how most people mispronounce her name? Here’s a mnemonic: Ein Volk, ein Reich, Ayn Rand. Also lets you know what I think of her politics!

  273. I may be drifting a little afield but, what concerns me about Cameron’s comments and his subsequent defense/complaint once rebuffed is this: whether it is celebrity, Congress, clergy, or the “average person,” there can be a tendency to forget one’s impact on the human dimension. Put another way, some individuals in the public square of the media “discuss” issues of sexuality, race, economics, et al, as if it were a neutral, intellectual game of chance, gambling with words and concepts “for fun” because they are not in the group being discussed. However, beyond the gaming table (which seems to often include a camera and microphone) there are people living lives with actual stakes in a game in which they cannot sit. For example,a public figure makes a kind of endorsement of racism, gets called on it, and then splits hairs Angstrom units thin, explaining that they were speaking politically not socially, or merely voicing the concerns of their constituency not their own person sentiments. People, who may already be caught in the literally cross-hairs of reaction to bigoted opinions stated as facts, don’t have the luxury of parsing out whether a person was “merely” speaking ideologically or in some other mode when the output can lead to actual negative consequences.

  274. Craig: “I’m fairly certain our host would not like people presuming he shares the opinions (or endorses the actions) of every character in his novels. At least I hope not. :)”

    Ah well, good thing I was talking specifically about Heinlein and Rand then, eh?

    Also, just so you know, Heinlein didn’t hold the opinion of every character in his novel. In Starship Troopers, he inserted obnoxious, clueless civilians who looked down on military service with disdain. I’m sure that was his way of strawmanning the SANE people or anyone else who wasn’t prepared to go full nuke on the soviet union.

    Also, if you look at acts of violence and other forms of militantism in Starship Troopers and compare it apples to apples with other works of fiction, you can come up with a reasonable ball park objective number that reflects on a relative scale how militant one work is compared to another.

    http://www.warhw.com/warhw-in-fiction/

    “Pork Chop Hill” scores a negative 92 points. Starship troopers scored a positive (pro militant) 343.

    The movie “300″ about the battle of thermapoly scored a positive (pro militant) 602 points.

    One can argue the individual points of the exact score, but I think the final tally thus far does in fact reflect the relative pro-war, pro-militant, versus war-is-a-tragedy view of things.

  275. Thermopylae, Greg. And I wouldn’t call 300 a movie about Thermopylae…a racist (albeit homoerotic) militaristic historical fantasy loosely based on the events of Thermopylae is about as close as it gets.

  276. Wasn’t 300 based on a comic book…sorry, graphic novel? Incidentally – it’s been a while since I saw it and I mostly remember buff oily dudes thrusting spears – what about it was racist?

  277. @gulliver: Yes, by Frank Miller. Which should tell you everything you need to know.

    If you want good fiction about Thermopylae, go with Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire.

  278. Lest the thread die (for what a grand and glorious thing it is), one thing that perhaps S.M. might consider is that it is possible, however unlikely, that it was not John’s intent, in writing this post, to convince Kirk Cameron that he is wrong. Perhaps this particular essay had some other purpose than a dispassionate presentation of a point of view tailored to appeal to Cameron.

    Because if that was its intent, I suggest that it failed utterly.

    If, however, there was some other intent – perhaps a presentation to those of like mind of the latest idiocy by the bigots, or even to spark a discussion that might produce some new argument, entertainment, or realization to someone… as opposed to being a post of sweet reason intended to convince said bigots to stop coming after Stirling with their pickaxes and PTSD – then possibly the post still had some purpose, at which it may have succeeded, even if its language was not drawing-room in its civility.

  279. as a christian i believe that Jesus taught tolerance, kindness, and compation. God is supposed to judge the quality and worth of your life. not Kirk Cameron.Judge not Kirk lest ye be judged by your own yard stick.

  280. You know, just as a tangent — a ways up there, you referenced Kirk Cameron’s “banana as evidence of Intelligent Design” thing.

    The thing is . . . Cameron is, sorta, right about that one. Oh, it’s not evidence of “Intelligent Design,” but it IS evidence of intelligent design — specifically, careful breeding and crop development, done by humans over generations. The wild ancestor of the domesticated banana has almost none of the characteristics mentioned in Kirk Cameron’s argument, but ancient farmers in Southeast Asia carefully developed a fruit with those characteristics.

    So, yes, the banana is proof of intelligent design. It proves that human beings have demonstrated the ability to intelligently design things.

  281. Hypothetically (meaning these are actually my beliefs, couched in hypotheticals, because I don’t want to use the anonymity of the internet as an excuse to be more outspoken than I am in public) if a person were to believe that (A) the Bible is the word of God, and (B) the Bible says homosexual acts are sinful, is there any way for a person to express those beliefs without being accused of bigotry? If I (Hypothetical I) said that homosexuals should have all the rights of every other person legally, should be treated with the same love and respect as all people, should not be persecuted in any way, BUT I believe committing homosexual acts is one of the things God tells us not to do, am I still being bigoted? What if I don’t say it, what if I just think it? Hypothetically, if you knew I believed those things, how would you treat me? Is it because Christians believe that unrepentant sinners cannot spend eternity with God, and so if I view homosexual acts as sinful, I am basically saying that you are going to hell if you don’t repent? (Sidenote: I actually believe everyone spends eternity away from God unless they accept Christ’s sacrifice, because, you know, John 3:16 and whatnot.)
    I guess my point is that it seems like my (hypothetical) beliefs are fundamentally unacceptable to a majority of commenters here, which to me seems like the opposite of tolerance. It seems like what everyone wants is for everyone else to believe what they believe.
    I really enjoy the blog and I’m not going to stop reading just because some of John’s views, or of the readership’s, conflict with my own. I am hoping for open and honest reflection and response, because that’s what I’m trying to do.

  282. Gulliver: “what about it was racist?”

    It showed the persians as monsters, trolls, ogres, freaks, misfits, and nitwits.

    Persia was in fact populated by humans who were at least as *humane* as the spartans were. (which wasn’t a lot by today’s standards)

    http://www.warhw.com/2008/07/07/300-movie/

  283. @ Jason

    If I (Hypothetical I) said that homosexuals should have all the rights of every other person legally, should be treated with the same love and respect as all people, should not be persecuted in any way, BUT I believe committing homosexual acts is one of the things God tells us not to do, am I still being bigoted?

    By my yardstick (and I can hardly speak for anyone else), it is when our hypothetical interlocutor implies that homosexual relationships destroy society that he or she is being a bigot. The Romans had a saying, Let offenses to the gods be the jurisdiction of the gods. This seems like pretty solid advice. Mind you, that doesn’t mean I think it’s correct to assert that homosexuals (or blacks or gingers or anyone else) are going to hell for who they are. But as long as the hypothetical isn’t assuming the mantle of arbiter of divine justice, I merely regard them as woefully misinformed, not actually bigoted. Kirk Cameron is welcome to his view of homosexuality; he’s not welcome to foist it on anyone who doesn’t share it.

    @ Greg

    It showed the persians as monsters, trolls, ogres, freaks, misfits, and nitwits.

    Technically I think it only showed the Persian army and their hangers-on, but point taken. Of course, by that standard it was racist against Spartans as well given the comically militaristic light in which it cast them. Yes, I know all about Sparta and its unique system of slavery (not to mention Persia’s more run-of-the-mill slave trade); I’m just saying nothing in that film could be called historically accurate.

  284. I’m so tired of the argument that homosexuality is “unnatural” because sex is supposed to be for procreation.

    So my parents’ marriage of 50+ years is unnatural because they still have sex even though they’re well past their baby-making years? (Maybe they get a pass because they did, in fact, procreate.)

    So my friends’ marriage of 30+ years is unnatural because they still have sex even though they gave up on having kids after four miscarriages?

    So my own marriage of 24 years is unnatural because we have sex and chose not to have kids?

    Stop worrying about what other people do in bed, you know? If it involves consenting adults, it’s really none of your business.

  285. Jason @ 6:45–as a believing and practicing Christian, I suspect my response would be to argue with you about Biblical interpretation. I’m not going to do that here–but I would like to point out that those who define homosexual behavior as inherently sinful are often guilty of ignoring Biblical complexity and the historical context of Biblical composition. (Biblical exegesis was a blood sport–so to speak–for centuries, which would seem to indicate that the Bible isn’t easily interpreted or obviously phrased . . . among other things.)

  286. Note that I’m out of the house for a bit so when I find a post that needs dealing with, it’ll probably disappear as I punt it into moderation. They’ll reappear with appropriate edits when I get home.

  287. Jason: I’m Jewish, myself. And I can tell you how my Orthodox friends deal with this: by figuring that what OTHER people do is none of their business. In Judaism, we aren’t supposed to eat pig, wear clothing that mixes linen and wool (important note: other blends are fine — shatnez is specifically linen and wool), or shave our beards. But they’ve got no problem with OTHER people doing so.

    Yes, there are Jews who DO go nuts and focus on OTHER people’s clothing, food, and behavioral choices. They’re called the “haredi”, and they’re crazy, and make the rest of us look bad.

    You are allowed to believe whatever you want about ritual purity, so long as you accept that you live in a pluralistic society in which other people don’t have the same ritual purity rules. If you want to teach your children that eating bacon, using electricity on Saturday, and engaging in homosexual behavior are against your religious taboos, that’s fine. Those things are against my religious taboos, in fact. Does that prevent me from doing any or all of the above? None of your business. Am I comfortable living in a society that accepts the eating of bacon, the use of electricity and machines on Saturday, and recognition of same-sex relationships? I absolutely am.

    The haredi, on the other hand, are NOT able to deal with such things, and will physically attack people eating bacon, or driving down their streets on Saturday.

    What you do and think in the privacy of your own mind is private. It is the most fundamental form of privacy there possibly could be. You may believe whatever you like about what is right or wrong, about whether homosexuality is evil, or good, or causes ritual impurity, or is a religious taboo.

    All that matters to society is what you do.

  288. Gulliver:

    The Romans had a saying, Let offenses to the gods be the jurisdiction of the gods. This seems like pretty solid advice.

    Damn skippy it is. So is ” ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay,’ saith The Lord.” Too many people in this world spend way too much time up in everyone else’s business instead of putting their own spiritual houses in order. Which leads me to artlessly observe “Isn’t the seating chart in the hereafter a wee bit above your pay grade?” more often than is entirely gracious. :)

  289. Gulliver: it was racist against Spartans as well given the comically militaristic light in which it cast them.

    iirc, one of the coming of age tests of a spartan boy to become a man was to kill an eretrian slave. And do so without getting caught by anyone.

    i.e. to become a man, you had to sneak around and successfully commit and get away with murder.

    They weren’t fighting for freedom or democracy when they fought the persians. After Athens had overthrown their dictator, Sparta tried to install their own dictator to rule Athens. He was kicked out by the Athenians, but Sparta considered forcing Athens to submit. The pelloponesian war was essentially between Sparta (and its allies) and Athens (and its allies).

    So, no, the movie wasn’t really racist towards Sparta. What the movie *did* do, however, was portray Sparta as if it were the only ones willing to stand up against Persia when it was 300 Spartans and several thousand Greeks who fought at Thermopolae, portray Sparta as fighting for Democracy when they were ruled by an oligarchy and had installed tyrants in Athens, and portray Spartan force as that which stopped the Persian expansion to the west when it was a combination of greeks from many city states, geography, weather, democracy (such that it was), some extremely smart people, and sometimes just dumb luck.

  290. And the Persian Empire was actually the most enlightened (by our standards) society around at the time. Sparta was one of the least.

  291. @ Greg

    iirc, one of the coming of age tests of a spartan boy to become a man was to kill an eretrian slave. And do so without getting caught by anyone.

    It was a little more complicated than that, but you got the gist of it.

    After Athens had overthrown their dictator, Sparta tried to install their own dictator to rule Athens.

    Actually, the Thirty Tyrants were an oligarchy. The term dictator didn’t exist until the Roman Republic and even then had a very different meaning than the modern usage.

    What the movie *did* do, however, was portray Sparta as if it were the only ones willing to stand up against Persia when it was 300 Spartans and several thousand Greeks who fought at Thermopolae,

    Eventually. The Spartans arrived several days ahead of their allies and held the pass long enough to allow the rest of the Greek army to arrive in time to defeat the Persians before they overran the city-states. All 300 Spartans in the vanguard died, inflicting massively disproportionate casualties in the process. That’s about the only part of the movie that was accurate. Say what you will of the Spartans, they were fierce soldiers.

    I avoid “historical” movies for a reason. 300 had some radical cinematography, though, so it was worth a watch.

  292. Well, still an empire, and Xerxes was mad at the greeks because they helped ionia rebel against their persian local governor. Mad enough that he had a servant whose job it was to tell him every night “sir, remember the Athenians” or something like that. I think Xerxes’ had a coming of age test that put him into a large cage with a lion which he had to kill or die trying.

    By today’s standards, they’re all North Korea level crazy.

  293. “What the movie *did* do, however, was portray Sparta as if it were the only ones willing to stand up against Persia when it was 300 Spartans and several thousand Greeks who fought at Thermopolae, portray Sparta as fighting for Democracy when they were ruled by an oligarchy and had installed tyrants in Athens, and portray Spartan force as that which stopped the Persian expansion to the west when it was a combination of greeks from many city states, geography, weather, democracy (such that it was), some extremely smart people, and sometimes just dumb luck.”

    “Sparta is great, rah, rah, rah” was part of the internal conceit of the story, it being told by a Spartan survivor of Thermopylae. Put into that context, as MaryAnn Johanson put it, “of course they defeated monsters lead by a giant.” I’m willing to give the storytellers some creative license before hitting them with charges of racism. And I have a hard time connecting ogre-ninjas to a caricature of any real people. But, I do understand that the movie doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and that vilifying Persians, in particular, is politically problematic, at best.

    Granted, the movie seriously strains it’s creative license when it has Leonidas break out into his “age of freedom” speech. Dude, what story do you think you’re in? Oh, right, a Frank Miller story. My bad.

  294. I just re-read some of my history notes

    http://www.warhw.com/2008/07/07/300-movie/

    It was Xerxes father, Darius, who saw the Ionians revolt with help from Athens. Xerxes carried the grudge around for 20 years. So, yeah, north korea level crazy.

    The Spartans arrived several days ahead of their allies and held the pass long enough to allow the rest of the Greek army to arrive in time to defeat the Persians before they overran the city-states.

    That’s not how I wrote it down, but what do I know.

    I have 10,000 Athenians and Spartans try to attack Persian troops in Therme, but the persians moved before they could engage. The greek alliance decide to move to teh next choke point, Thermopolae. The army consists of about 10 thousand soldiers from 10 different city states. They arrive before the persians do. Persia tries the direct attack, but fails. Then figures out how to go around the pass. Leonidas has most of the other armies fall back to the third choke point, the Isthmus of Corinth, and to give them time to move, he and thousand phocians and two thousand thespians make their final stand at Thermopolae.

    “Say what you will of the Spartans, they were fierce soldiers.”

    Meh. Leonidas had consulted the Oracle and she said either sparta will fall or one of their kings will die. And Leonidas believed the oracle, and believed that he had to die to save Sparta, so he was planning on fighting to teh death at Thermopolae. I’m not entirely sure what his death bought other than to stall the persians for a little bit. It was actually the Greek navy that broke the Persian back and forced them to withdraw.

    (paste) 370 Greek ships attack 720 Persian ships. The Greeks lose 40 ships. The Persians lose 200 ships. The Persians suffer a massive loss. Without a navy to supply his army, Xerxes cannot maintain his army in Greece. He marches his army around the Agean sea and crosses the bridge at the Hellespont before the Greeks try to destroy it.(paste)

    Not to mention, the battle of marathon ten years before: Athens had asked Sparta for help, but they declined. 10,000 Athenians and Plataens fight 40,000 Persians. The Greeks inflict 6,000 casualties and only lose 192 men. Without Spartan help.

    And they had no choke point, no mountain pass, to make up for being outnumbered. They fought on the plains of marathon.

    This is what really cheezed me off about the movie “300″. It portrayed the Spartan way as the only way to stand up to the Persians and win. Yet Athens had done it 10 years before, outnumbered 4 to 1, and killed 6,000 with a loss of only 192. At thermopolae, all 3,300 Greeks die and 20,000 Persians die. And then the war was ended because the Greek navy took on and defeated the Persian navy twice its size.

    The Spartans weren’t any better fighters than the Athenians at the time. The battle of marathon proves that. In fact, Sparta never figured out naval warfare or understood its importance. They were going to pull back to the Isthmus of corinth after Thermopolae fell, but the persians had a navy and 90% of Sparta’s border is actually coastline. It was the Athenian navy that stopped the Persians from doing an end run around THermopolae and it was teh Athenian navy that defeated the Persians before they did an end run around the isthmus of corinth.

    The Spartans were *brutal*, but not neccessarily *better* than their Greek counterparts.

    Which was the other thing that really cheezed me off about the movie. When the other Greeks showed up to fight, Leonidas calls them potters and farmers and so on. But the Athenians had kicked Persian ass ten years before at the Battle of Marathon, a fight that Sparta had been invited to join, but they had declined to help. The Athenians were no wimps. But Frank Miller had a story to tell….

  295. Doc: “Sparta is great, rah, rah, rah” was part of the internal conceit of the story, it being told by a Spartan survivor of Thermopylae.

    That is irrelevant. If a movie told the story of Pearl Harbor from the point of view of an American military man, and all the Japanese are slanted eye yellow devils, say, like this:

    http://www.crazywebsite.com/Free-Galleries-01/USA_Patriotic/Pictures_WWII_Posters_LG/World_War_II_Patriotic_Posters_USA_Conservation_Tokio_Kid_Say2LG.jpg

    then the point of the war handwavium score isn’t to say “well, that’s just a story told in the context of an American GI in his view of the enemy during that time as the cultural context portrayed them”.

    Hell no.

    The point is to rate how militaristic the fiction is. And if the fiction is propaganda that means it is militaristic and counts towards the final score. It doesn’t get a “pass” on the grounds of “well, that’s just how we portrayed them back then”. Fangs or buck teeth, pointed demon ears, blood dripping from them, that is entirely the *point* of militarism, of trying to minimize the impact of war by turning the enemy into nonhumans, demons, trolls, and so on.

    In fact, if a story shows a bad guy getting killed, it’s +3 points of militarism. If the bad guy is some non-human monster, it gets additional points for minimizing the emotional impact that would come from killing a human being and instead has the bad guy be a beast of some kind with few or no emotions.

    The movie “300″ is *exactly* the sort of militarism that distorts the truth about war which is *exactly* the sort of thing the war handwavium score is trying to capture and represent. That the Greeks might have exhibited militarism towards the persians and demonized them during that time, doesn’t give the movie a pass. Rather it would score the behavior of the propagandizing Greeks as militarism trying to demonize and dehumanize their enemy.

    that’s the *point*.

    Oh, and the guy who survived the battle, the guy from whom the point of view of teh story is allegedly told???

    His name was Aristodemus, and it is highly unlikely he would have told such a story.

    (paste)3 Spartans survive. Aristodemus and Eurytus are both striken with eye infections. Eurytus was was rendered blind. Leonides ordered them both to return home. However, Eurytus returned and charged into battle, blind, and was killed. Because Aristodemus was not blind but did not do the same, he was called a coward and suffered disgrace and humiliation from the people of Sparta. The third Spartan survivor of the battle was Pantites, whom Leonides had sent to an an embassy to Thessalia and did not return in time for the battle. On returning to Sparta, he hanged himself.

    During the Battle of Plataea, Aristodemus, the Spartan who had survived the Battle of Thermopylae and was called a coward for it, fought with a suicidal recklessness and was killed. The Spartans removed the black mark against his name, but would give him no special honors, saying the considered it more valorous to fight while wanting to live.(paste)

    So, yeah, not feeling it. If the story is being told by a Spartan survivor of Thermopylae, that survivor was called a coward and suffered disgrace and humiliation for surviving the battle. He suffered this fate for ten years in Sparta, until he finally got himself into battle and managed to get himself killed in combat. For which Sparta refused to fully honor.

    This story is propaganda on top of propaganda. Whether it is explained that it is propaganda because it is told from teh point of view of one of the combatants at the time, hey, guess what, if one of the combatants at the time told a story like this, they would be committing propaganda.

  296. @ Doc RocketScience

    Granted, the movie seriously strains it’s creative license when it has Leonidas break out into his “age of freedom” speech. Dude, what story do you think you’re in? Oh, right, a Frank Miller story.

    I take it Mr. Miller has a bit of a reputation? I’m not a comics fan myself.

    @ Greg

    I have 10,000 Athenians and Spartans try to attack Persian troops in Therme, but the persians moved before they could engage. The greek alliance decide to move to teh next choke point, Thermopolae. The army consists of about 10 thousand soldiers from 10 different city states.

    Only about six or seven thousand proceeded to Thermopolae. A larger Greek force later massed at Corinth.

    Leonidas has most of the other armies fall back to the third choke point, the Isthmus of Corinth, and to give them time to move, he and thousand phocians and two thousand thespians make their final stand at Thermopolae.

    The pass was only one chariot wide. The suicidal Leonidas and the hoplites from his royal bodyguard formed a phalanx at the front where the Persian army’s 10,000 Immortals tried to pass. IIRC, the Greeks inflicted something like ten to one casualties on the Persians.

    And yes, the Athenian navy fought the sea battle that rebuked the Persian fleet at the strait of Artemisium. But the chances of the fleet landing enough infantry to subdue the city-states, where most of the adult Greek men had stayed behind for the Olympic Games, were nil. Xerxes strategy depended on the unprecedented army he had raised. The fleet was the supply line. There was no way the Persian army could have been shipped in.

    Had the Greeks not held the Persians off at Thermopolae and forced them to go over the exposed pass without cavalry, it is unlikely the rest of the army would have arrived at Corinth in time to stop the Persian advance over the rest of the cities on the Peloponnese. As it was, Attica and Boeotia fell.

    And yes, the film is absurd. It’s based on a frakkin’ comic book.

  297. Jason – you might want to consider what Ian said. Or even consider how Baptists and Mormons behave about alcohol (at least when they aren’t in the majority and ban it). “It’s not for me, thanks” seems like an appropriate way to deal with behavior you think should be avoided (whether because you think it’s sinful, icky, fattening, or whatever other personal reason you might have). And if someone else is engaging in behavior you think is sinful? How about thinking “It’s not for me to judge you; that’s God’s job”, and loving and accepting people for who they are?

    I mean, I can’t force you to consider same-sex relationships not sinful. But like what Ian said – there’s a difference between believing pork/alcohol/sodomy is “wrong” and feeling like you have to judge other people for thinking differently. “Not for me, thanks” would seem to be enough, wouldn’t it?

  298. Call it educational. See, I haven’t seen the movie yet, and my Greek history, what little I had in the beginning, has faded. I found this part of the thread rather interesting.

    The rest, original intent, of the thread is interesting as well. But, it produces cringes in me.

    I used to be part of that “The earth is only six thousand years old, maybe ten, so evolution can’t be true, life begins at conception so abortion is murder, you homosexual you, how dare you do that stuff, it is an abomination and you’ll burn in hell, so listen to me, no no no, don’t close the door…..Damn, they never listen, why is that?” crowd, myself. I feel lucky that I was able to escape.

    Just in case, I am at 0 for 3 on that list of things to believe are bad, so even if I wanted to go back into that world, they probably wouldn’t have me.

  299. Eyelessgame – Considering the number of times I’ve read the words “ignorant” and “bigot” in this thread, is seems that many people do feel the need to judge other people for thinking differently.
    I want to know if it’s possible to espouse these particular Christian beliefs without being labeled an “ignorant bigot.”

  300. Jason:

    “Considering the number of times I’ve read the words ‘ignorant’ and ‘bigot’ in this thread, is seems that many people do feel the need to judge other people for thinking differently.”

    Well, we judge them for being ignorant bigots, actually. And while I agree that thinking like an ignorant bigot is thinking “differently,” not everyone who thinks differently thinks ignorant and bigoted thoughts.

    Likewise, there’s nothing in the least Christian about being a bigot, in my estimation. One may be ignorant of most things and still be a Christian, although, as in any person, ignorant is not a good thing for a Christian to be.

    This is actually pretty simple: If you don’t want to be judged an ignorant bigot, don’t be one, or at the very least don’t say ignorant and bigoted things in public.

  301. @Greg:
    The linkage of what Kirk Cameron says and the fears that I and others have, is this: The ones quite willing to injure, kill, or less directly oppress those who are not heterosexual say the same things Cameron does. One could even put forth the thought that the words said encourage those actions.

    Threat to the well-being of people aside, there’s no problem with a club saying ‘No X allowed!’, as long as they remember that their rules don’t apply to anyone outside the club.

  302. many people do feel the need to judge other people for thinking differently

    I’m not getting why this is supposed to be a bad thing. If your neighbor says that he thinks all black people should go back to Africa, are you wrong and judgy for believing that he is bigoted and his views are repulsive? If a TV star went on CNN to argue that the Romans had the right idea about Christians, would you be flapping your arms going whoa whoa whoa, let’s not judge her for thinking differently?

  303. Xopher: John’s going to be SO MAD at us for going off on this whole Thermopylae tangent…

    Hm… it did sort of get more involved than I would have thought…

  304. Yeah, wrap up time:

    “Slant-eyed yellow devils”, unlike ogre-ninjas, would be a recognizable caricature, meant to represent actual people. I don’t think any member of the “Persian” army in 300 could be reasonably meant to represent any actual Persians of any time period. They’re inhuman, alien monsters for the warrior-king to fight, an older than dirt trope, which I think is the entirety of Snyder’s point. But there are other possible interpretations.

    The character in question was called Dilios, as the Wiki notes below your cut. I think the similarities between him and Aristodemus (i.e. both were sent away due to problems with their eyes) are superficial. The character of Dilios’ purpose in the story of 300 (he’s the narrator) from Aristodemus’ purpose in the history of Thermopylae (he’s a cautionary figure).

    I wasn’t commenting on that war-whatchamacallit website. I get that you find it illuminating, but all I can think of is Robin Williams complaining that you can’t dance to Byron. Those kinds of things, with their arbitrary point systems, are fun little exercises, but they don’t actually mean anything.

    “[repeated line] …propaganda…” Meh.

    Look, I have no quarrel with describing 300 and Starship Troopers as militaristic stories. I’m not here to argue about how militarism can be used. I sense that you don’t care for militaristic stories. Given the potential irony in that, considering where we are, I do hope that you at least subscribe to the notion that “it’s not what a story is about, it’s how it is about it that matters.”

  305. Jason @ 12:41–it’s late at night where I am and I don’t usually post about serious subjects when I’m this short on sleep, but I’ve been sitting here thinking over your last comment, and I keep coming back to one question: why do you care? I mean, for me, after our little discussion about interpreting the Bible (see my comment above) had ended in neither of us being able to change the other’s mind–assuming that that’s how it did end–I’d probably go off into a neutral corner quietly thanking God that we live in a nation where neither of us has the power to force the other to live according to his/her beliefs. (Or at least, that’s the ideal of the nation I’m working to make real, as best I can. Anyway.) You can’t damn me for my beliefs or behavior any more than I can damn you for yours, whatever I think of them–damnation or salvation is God’s choice, not mine or yours (er–speaking as a practicing Christian again). I can refuse to have anything to do with you once rational argument is exhausted (or even before, if I’m really tired from similar arguments), but that’s about it.

    Since you do see to care–okay. For me, the definition of bigotry includes intolerance. If you truly believe, as you say above, that “homosexuals should have all the rights of every other person legally, should be treated with the same love and respect as all people, should not be persecuted in any way, BUT I believe committing homosexual acts is one of the things God tells us not to do,” living your life according to your beliefs while not attempting to impose those beliefs on others, then no, I don’t believe that Hypothetical-You is a bigot. Mind you, I still believe you’re wrong,–which, I suppose, means that I might be labeling Hypothetical-You as ignorant–but that’s another issue. However, telling people that the behavior you define as sinful is also detrimental to civilization and “unnatural” (see OP) is demonstrating intolerance and therefore–to me–is bigoted.

    I suspect that that may be similar to what several people up-thread have been trying to say, in various ways. Or maybe not. Speaking completely personally, though, I don’t particularly care if people call me a sinner for engaging in behavior that I do not believe is sinful–dancing, say, or drinking alcohol, or eating pork, or wearing shorts, or whatever. When they try to shame me/force me to agree with their assessment of my not-harmful-to-others behavior–or, worse, as has happened, legally restrict me and punish me for that behavior–I call bigotry. And point and snicker accordingly, whenever possible; hence my appreciation of the OP.

  306. Xander Opal: The linkage of what Kirk Cameron says and the fears that I and others have, is this:

    The important thing is that you realize that it is your fear, not a universally shared belief, and not a belief that must be universally shared.

    The ones quite willing to injure, kill, or less directly oppress those who are not heterosexual say the same things Cameron does.

    Yes, they do.

    And even someone like Martin Luther King Jr who addressed racism in such a way as to focus on the notion of equality for all versus focusing on which individuals are racist and why they are so wrong for being racy racing racists, even someone like MLK Jr can be killed by a bigot. Rosa Parks is famous for her pretty much silent attempt to address bigotry by not moving to the back of the of the bus. She received so many death threats that she moved north.

    And what this kind of history tells us is that it doesn’t matter how nice you say it, how you phrase it, how you approach the person, how you try to make the world a better place, there’s always a chance of someone getting violent because they don’t want a bettter world.

    And what is the implication of this?

    That if your first concern is to avoid any possibility of violence, then you cannot do anything to make the world a better place. Some asshole might like the world to be on fire and will take a pickaxe to you if you show up with a spray bottle of water, let alone a hose.

    If you want to be perfectly safe, then you can’t do anything about any of the problems in teh world, because some asshole might like the problem the way it is, and maybe they have a pickaxe.

    So, you have to decide what you’re going to do.

    But the “perfectly safe” thing is an illusion. tens of thousands of Americans die every year in car crashes, but most drive cars.

    What you’re implementing is one of those interesting arguments that can be used to draw a line anywhere the speaker wants to draw it. Because there is no absolute safe position, therefore one can say “I am only willing to do X, after that, I think it is too dangerous because someone migth get offended and get violent. And the line in teh sand at “X” can be drawn anywhere, because “fear” isn’t measurable.

    It’s fine if you want to use fear as a yardstick. But if you do, you might notice that the yardstick that is fear has all the numbers worn off, so it can be manipulated to mean anything.

  307. (Mary Frances) For me, the definition of bigotry includes intolerance. If you truly believe, as you say above, that “homosexuals should have all the rights of every other person legally, should be treated with the same love and respect as all people, should not be persecuted in any way, BUT I believe committing homosexual acts is one of the things God tells us not to do,” living your life according to your beliefs while not attempting to impose those beliefs on others [...]

    This is where I am. Yes, I believe certain actions are not compatible with God’s wishes as I understand them; no, I do not expect or demand that people who do not share this view to act as if they did. Nor, by my own beliefs, would I be able to do so, even if I wanted to — speaking or acting injuriously towards others is also contra the teaching and example we are to emulate. And members of my religion do not get involved in earthly politics, which means I do not need to compromise either my religious beliefs or my human rights beliefs — because I think it’s completely ridiculous that a society which already legally recognizes homosexuality as valid and protected makes a distinction between SSM and, er, OSM. Or, indeed, any distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex couples. (FWIW, I live in California and thought the involvement of churches in the Prop 8 debacle was outrageous on many levels.) And yes, while I do not vote, I make this opinion known when it comes up.

    It disgusts me beyond words that people presume to judge others (as in, the ultimate fate of others) according to their own morality. We, humans, are not able to read the hearts of others to make that judgment, even if it were ours to make, which it isn’t. I literally (in the actual sense of the word) thank God that it isn’t my job to do that. How could anyone make a decision with the little data we have? How could anyone want to? The homosexual people I know and have known have always seemed to be good people to me, and I am sure they are being the best people they can be by their own principles. Who am I to decide that one feature cancels out everything else — or to assume that God would decide that so arbitrarily? I have more faith in God’s decision-making ability than that!

    Come to think of it, I feel considerably more strongly about the morality of smoking. That one actually does have a deleterious impact on everyone else.

    I think I’d better stop before I risk phrasing something badly and bringing some justifiably negative responses on myself. Hope I don’t regret posting this in the morning. Allow me to reiterate my personal respect for the Whatever regulars (I mostly lurk, but I’ve been reading here for several years) of an orientation different from mine, and express the hope that I have not offended you.

  308. I fully support homosexuals and believe in gay marriage. We have a number of homosexual friends and acquaintances and do not find them odd or unnatural (at least not in that respect)…however, I do find your ignorant rants more offensive than anything Kirk Cameron could say…it would be, for example, like pointing out that you and your supporters are knuckle dragging, cave dwellers…a better, less offensive way to put it is that you certainly find birds of a feather, flock together. If your going to speak, do it with a little tinge of intelligence.

  309. Keith:

    “If your going to speak, do it with a little tinge of intelligence.”

    Oh, Keith. You shouldn’t leave such small ironies lying around.

    Likewise, just as Kirk Cameron asserting his ignorant bigotry is somehow “loving” doesn’t make it so, your assertion the entry here is “ignorant” doesn’t mean it is.

    It does suggest, however, that you may not know what the word “ignorant” means. Which is another irony.

    Speaking generally to the folks who might wander over to the site and declare that pointing out Cameron’s hateful, ignorant bigotry is in itself hateful, ignorant or bigoted: Well, no. The posting here is mocking, sarcastic and mean, but those are different things. The fact you’re attempting to pull the same ridiculous rhetorical fit of whiny, entitled foot-stomping Kirk Cameron is himself making when called on his shit probably means (to put it most charitably) that you aren’t actually paying very close attention. Please pay closer attention.

    In short, please avoid leaving grade-school level “Nuh-UH, you’re the one who’s ignorant/hateful/bigoted SO THERE” comments. They’re not especially impressive, because, among other things, I know what those three words actually mean.

    And if you feel you must leave that level of comment, please check for basic spelling and grammatical errors before posting. Let Keith’s ironies be your lesson.

  310. This trend of claiming that calling out bigotry is somehow just as bad as, or even worse than, actual bigotry needs to die a quick and ignominious death yesterday.

  311. Whenever I see Our Esteemed Host getting into discussions of rhetoric with the general internet commentariat that turns up at times like these, I keep flashing on the phrase, “Bringing a knife to a gunfight.”

    I mean, people, really – he does this for a living.

  312. DGL:

    It’s entirely likely that a lot of the people who fly in for the first time don’t actually know what I do for a living. Doesn’t make me go any easier on them, mind you.

  313. @DGL, to be fair, we’ve already had one very clear example here that being a professional writer is, by itself, not a guarantee of critical thinking skills.

    But I’m guessing most of the drive-bys probably didn’t bother to read the initial post. That should have given them pause.

  314. I agree, mythago. They certainly didn’t bother to read the thread.

    But if they read before commenting, their comments wouldn’t be as ignorant (because they’d learn something). We wouldn’t be able to identify them.

    But this is the thing about hypoChristians and Talibangelicals*. They believe they have learned all they need to know, and only read the Bible to confirm what they already believe. If they found something new even in the Bible they would reject it, skip over it, or fail to notice it. They are output-only devices, and I have no patience with people who don’t listen to other points of view even well enough to disagree on substance, instead of just parroting platitudes, like Evelyn way upthread. Someone on a hypoChristian site told them “go here and witness” and they came here and made drive-by comments and bailed. My respect to those who didn’t.

    *I’m using this word because they resemble the Taliban in their attitude toward dissent, and indeed in many of their attitudes generally…but I want to point out that these are a SUBSET of evangelical Christians (not even a majority, I suspect), and that not all evangelicals are like that (as mentioned above, but it bears repeating).

  315. I like a lot of what Xopher said. I disagree with The theological views that were expressed previously, but I think a good deal of people who comment here enjoy conversation with those who disagree. I have been reading Whatever for a while now and I always enjoy the pleasant disagreement the best.

  316. From the original post: I also fully support the rights of other people to criticize you and those views, and also their right to be mean to you while doing so, and not just because, in my opinion, it’s mean and not in the least bit loving to suggest gays are detrimental

    The “not just because” turn of phrase, to me, suggests that it would be followed by a “but also because” phrase with another reason to be mean. I feel like I missed something.

    Did I miss something? Cause I don’t like missing things.

  317. Oo, let’s all speculate on what the other reasons might have been! Putting words in other people’s mouths is always SUCH FUN. </sarcasm>

  318. I fear I MUST protest. Picking up rocks is NOT natural. Not at all, Sir! If God had meant rocks to move, he would have given them legs!

  319. I read “unBiblical” as “umbilical” at first. There’s probably a joke to be made there.

  320. Yes, even a mild reference to the phonology of it (assimilation of the bilabial) would be ill-advised.

  321. @S.M. Stirling
    1. consistency is not intelligence
    2. are you at all familiar with politics as practiced in the US?

  322. I wish to thank SM Stirling for saving me the money I was going to spend to replace the copies of the Nantucket series that my former husband got in the divorce. I’m not rich, and, y’know, Lynn Flewelling has a book coming out this year.

  323. Xander: “Threat to the well-being of people aside, there’s no problem with a club saying ‘No X allowed!’, as long as they remember that their rules don’t apply to anyone outside the club.”

    I mostly agree, but I am not sure what to do or say about the kids that are old enough to know they are gay but not old enough to safely separate from their families. Or to put it another way, freedom of religion combined with freedom to raise your kids the way you want often means that kids are subject to religions that torment them yet can’t realistically leave.

  324. @Craig When people quote those two litttle verses, you certainly can ask them why they do not keep kosher, sacrifice bulls, etc. And it may even be fair. Aren’t there better places you could point them to? Places that may actually change their behavior in the future. With your knowledge of scripture, and rhetorical abilities, I think you could.

  325. You give Cameron too much credit. He has been a bully his whole life. He bullied Tracey Gold, even off the set. Allan Thicke tried to get him fired twice. He is not welcome in Hollywood anymore and his “Left Behind” series only sells in the “Doomsday Preppers” crowd. The only way he gets his name out there is to make these statements. Ignoring a bully, I’ve found, is the best way to get him to shut up.

  326. LMAO!

    Bigotry from both sides.

    The Government is not the dispenser of morality. Nor should it be. Homosexuals ALREADY have rights under the constitution. Only insurance companies and republicans have taken and are trying to take them away.

    Now as far as being unnatural. What does that word mean to you? If you take your moral cues from animals, how about this one, My neighbors dog shits, then eats it. Is that O’ Natural. hahaha
    I suggest not going with animal behavior as proof people deserve to choose their own lifestyle. It is not beneficial to the argument.

    What Kirk doesn’t realize is that Jesus, which I am assuming is who he believes in said LOVE thy neighbor. Which means be kind to them. This doesn’t mean he has to agree with them, but it does mean he has to remain kind. On the other hand, how does being hateful toward Kirk, reveal any type of superior thought pattern? It doesn’t.

    I enjoy reading about the mocking of bigotry, but when it goes past mocking, the next step is hatred.
    Do we PROVE to Kirk we are better than him, by returning his hate speech as if it was a bad serve on a tennis court? Or do we take a different approach and remain above the hate?

    If a person causes you to go past mocking into hate speech, you are giving them way too much credibility. If you laugh at them and their hate speech, then explain why it is wrong. You give them NO credibility. Do you rant at a 3 year old who throws a tantrum because you do not believe the sky is purple when he tells you? Of course not, you hug them and explain things to them.

    The very BEST way to handle religious bigots is to LAUGH, then hug them and calmly explain to them why they are in error. This will make them reveal themselves, either they too will be kind, which is usually NOT the case, or they get more angry, which is usually the case. This should prompt you to be more kind to them, (as if they are 3 years old) PROVING their error with greater intensity every time you remain calm and kind and they do not.

    Who is REALLY guided by God? The kind people, or the unkind people? By returning hate, with hate, only proves none of you are guided by God. How is that a win for either side? Never let a bigot have credibility while simultaneously eliminating your own credibility by using their tactics, eliminate their credibility by being kind, when they as followers of Jesus are not. Its way too simple.

    Anger is the admission you value the opponents credibility.
    Laughter is the proof you do not. Kindness is the result of the laughter.

    Kirk has the right to think and say…….the sky is purple. :)

    OBAMA 2012!!!!!

  327. Luke 6:37 pretty much says it all. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

    “Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit” (Psa. 34:12-13).

    “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, 0 LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psa. 19:14).

    My church always said that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all. I agree with this. It is not our job to judge. Being around gay people does not put you in harms way, so it’s not an issue of safety. I believe porn, lack of fathers, unfit mothers, drugs and crime against others is a big problem and it does hurt others, and impacts all of our society; being gay does not. I won’t judge Kirk for his comments, because my Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24. I put Kirk in this category.

  328. Ken:

    “I enjoy reading about the mocking of bigotry, but when it goes past mocking, the next step is hatred.”

    Oh, bah. As noted elsewhere in the thread, I don’t care about Cameron enough to hate him, just to mock his foolishness. That’s a much lower level of emotional involvement, and all I’m going to devote to him.

    Don’t project your assumptions about anger onto other people. It has a tendency to make you look foolish.

    The assumption that any response to bigotry other than the one you approve of personally is indication of a different sort of bigotry is lazy. Go back and try better.

    Beyond this, you make a fundamental error in assuming that this was written to convince Kirk Cameron of the errors of his bigoted ways. It’s not. The chances Mr. Cameron is ever going to read it are slim approaching none. This is written for everyone else. That you appear to think that there’s only one rhetorical road to Rome, as it were, suggests you may need to invest more thought on the matter.

  329. Romans 1:26
    For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural.

    This is why Kirk said what he said. He didn’t just make it up. Just for the record.

  330. And for the record, a disclaimer, does not negate anger, no matter how many times you post it. HUGS JOHN!!! hahaha:)

  331. I’m not responsible for you not being able to distinguish subtle gradations in emotional states, Ken.

    You’re coming perilously close to trolling. Rein it in, please.

  332. John your argument is not with me.
    I agree with you. Yet you are trying to make it with me.
    Where do you keep the disclaimer for that?

    Hugs John again.

  333. John goodbye.

    I will not return. either I submit to you, or else? LMAO@JOHN.

    OK OK OK, the sky IS purple. haha

  334. Quite obviously I have an argument with you. It’s a different one than I have with Cameron, and it involves you trying to ascribe a point of view to me I do not have. Stop doing that, please.

    Also please stop trying to “hug” me. I find it annoying. I’m also beginning to find you annoying.

    “either I submit to you, or else?”

    To the extent you follow my rules on my site or don’t post, in fact, yes.

  335. [Deleted because when one says one is leaving, Ken, one shouldn't immediately return as a sock puppet. Although I'm not in the least surprised you'd do so. Into the banned queue for you, my obnoxious friend --JS]

  336. Note to new people coming in:

    1. Contentless comments relating to gays/lesbians being unnatural/wrong/bad/nasty will be deleted immediately. I will be the arbiter of what is contentless, not you.

    2. Comments that indicate that you’re not aware of the discussion in the thread prior to your decision to comment may be deleted if they bring up a topic I’ve already said should be tabled and/or has already been discussed at length, and you bring them up in an aggressively clueless manner. Please read the thread to date and follow up on conversations already in progress rather than repeat the same conversation.

    3. Really, read the comment policy before you post. You’ll be happier. As will I.

  337. Great piece, loved it much. I love the responses by MEP Photo Journal and the person who called your original post ‘utterly brilliant’. Thank you. Since I am reading this on Sunday morning, you have helped make this week start out on a good note.

  338. [More standard-issue homophobic stupidity deleted. People, this isn't a comment thread on Facebook or a newspaper site, where your cookie-cutter bigotry gets a pass because no one actually looks at it. This is my home, and I don't like people taking a shit in the middle of the living room -- JS]

  339. Ken: If a person causes you to go past mocking into hate speech,

    I know Ken left, but this isn’t really a reply to Ken but rather something Ken said that made me realize something.

    I am suddenly not liking the phrase “hate speech” because “hate” has a different meaning than “hate speech”.

    “hate” refers to feelings, such as feelings of intense dislike or aversion toward something.

    “hate speech” refers to speech disparaging a racial, sexual, or ethnic group or a member of such a group.

    The term “hate speech” refers to bigotry. Cameron is expressing bigotry towards homosexuals.

    I might express “hate” towards Cameron, not because he is a member of some group, but rather because he is *wrong* about homosexuals and his wrongness about homosexuals makes him a *bigot*. I don’t hate him because of any group he belongs to. I hate bigotry.

    There was a strange vibe in this thread that was rubbing me the wrong way but I couldn’t put my finger on it until Ken made the above comment, then I realized the thing people are doign that’s rubbing me the wrong way is a simple logical fallacy: equivocation.

    They’re taking “hate speech” and shifting the meaning so that it is the definition of “hate”, and that is so, so, so, so wrong.

    “Hate Speech” refers to bigotry towards a racial, sexual, or ethnic group or a member of such a group. “Hate Speech” is a subset of “Hate”. Some hate isn’t hate speech, because some hate isn’t bigotry. If someone murdered your parents, you might hate the murderer and you might make long winded speeches about how much you hate that murder, but that isn’t “hate speech”.

    What a bunch of people are doing on this thread is taking “hate speech” (which refers to bigotry) and trying to turn it into “hate” (which refers to any negative feelings) and there are some perfectly legitimate forms of hate, like hating the man who murdered your parents.

    I assume that someone invented the term “hate speech” because they didn’t want to use the term “bigoted speech”. Even bigots don’t like being called bigots, so perhaps to lessen the “sting” of being called on bigoted speech, the term “hate speech” was used instead? Or perhaps because lots of people think of “bigots” as folks in white sheets running around lynching people and lesser forms of bigotry aren’t considered “bigotry” by them, so the term “hate speech” was invented.

    However it came about, it’s a shitty term, cause it causes people to get into arguments that are nothing more than fallacies of equivocation, shifting the meaning from specifically refering to bigotry, to a more general meaning referring to any feelings of dislike.

    What Cameron is saying is bigotry towards homosexuals, and saying bigotry is “hate speech”.

    If a homosexual *hates* Cameron for Cameron’s bigotry, that hate isn’t bigotry, so a homosexual saying he hates Cameron for Cameron’s bigotry isn’t “hate speech”.

    In summary:

    “hate speech” is speech that expresses bigotry.

    “hate speech” is a subset of “hate”.

    “hate” is any intense feelings of dislike.

    Saying you have intense feelings of dislike for a bigot isn’t itself another form of bigotry.

    saying you hate a bigot isn’t hate speech.

  340. You’re great John! Homophobes don’t have the RIGHT to be exempt from criticism even though the constitution guarantees them the right to spew. Society is changing with or without Dickhead Cameron, and eventually we’ll all acknowledge that all bigotry is evil, even when cloaked the garb of ersatz righteousness.

  341. Loved making my way through this on a sunny Sunday morning in Maine. After reading the blog, I read my way through all the comments, (I have a Lot of free time!), and really enjoy the way the site is managed. Great to see that it’s possible to have a wide-ranging and intelligent discussion without misspelled, inarticulate, and animosity filled statements.
    Looking forward to seeing more from you, and perhaps at sometime I can jump in with a comment or two.

  342. What a great read! This little nit is coming down with what I call “Anita Bryant Syndrome”: Bitching and moaning to the ignorant masses, about how people are being mean to him … and saying terrible things about him … just because he so bravely spoke out to those same ignorant masses, about how slimy and nasty and icky gay people are. We’re just supposed to take it, without calling B.S.

  343. This is a very well worded, and educated, retort directed at someone who needs to educate himself further on the subject of homosexuality before he opens his mouth to spew more misinformed drivel. The only sticking point I have -I have always had- when homosexuality is bandied about as the subject du jour, is the tired old “… loving who they choose to love… ” nugget.

    As a gay man, even before I learned to love myself for who I AM and therefore felt prepared to thrust open the closet door and admit to the world that I AM gay, I take offense to anyone’s lack of understanding that a person’s sexuality is not their CHOICE, but rather a personal acceptance of who they ARE. Our sexuality is not like a fast food order at your local burger joint.

    When you go out to eat a burger, the only choices you make are dependent on establishment, ingredients, cost and cravings. You go where your pocketbook & taste buds lead you… you make a choice. As for my sexuality, I never woke up one morning and questioned whether I’d like to choose between the “company” of a man OR a woman. No, as far back as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to men. Always have been, always will be. That’s who I am… and people need to respect that THEIR choice of accepting/unaccepting -or understanding/un-understanding- isn’t going to change who I am one little bit. When did you wake up one morning and make a choice to be straight?

    As a straight man yearns for the “company” of a woman, some men like myself yearn for the “company” of another man. The ONLY CHOICE involved is the one I make… choosing to accept who I am, instead of living a lie because certain people in society feel threatened by me following my own path on this journey through life… and not be a drone, accepting societal standards of acceptance for living.

    I didn’t choose to be gay, but rather, chose to accept who I’m born to be… and if there are consequences to be paid for making that choice, I only have God to answer to, when I stand before Him in due time.

  344. Kevin Stephens:

    As a point of clarification, I’ll note that in this particular case “loving who they choose to love” was meant to refer to the specific individuals one chooses to love. I do think that’s a choice. As an example, I didn’t choose to be attracted to women in a general sense, but I did choose to love the specific woman to whom I am married.

    I do apologize for that not being more clear. In a general sense I don’t think you’ll find we have much disagreement on the matter.

  345. “And if you feel you must leave that level of comment, please check for basic spelling and grammatical errors before posting. Let Keith’s ironies be your lesson.”

    Oh, John, pretty please get us a preview button. I’m fanatic about spelling and punctuation myself, but I read too damn fast for my own good, and HTML is the very Devil to proofread.

  346. That’s interesting, rollingwheelie. So his outrage is the standard-issue bully outrage at someone unexpectedly fighting back. Rings very true.

  347. Theophylact:

    I should note I generally don’t ding people for common variety typos, specifically because of a lack of a preview button here at the moment. In that particular case it was amusing.

  348. I do appreciate the apology. It’s not you… I just grow tired of people in general who think a person chooses to be gay. People need to get over themselves. We, indeed, seem to have little to disagree about, which is a good thing. :o)

  349. @Kevin RE: tired of people…

    Kevin, can we just assume that everyone on the planet who still thinks that “sexual preference is a choice” are either bigots or ignorant and assume that everyone else gets it? This is not a new issue. I have taken to shunning those people and their businesses rather than getting upset. Life is too short to spend that much time being upset by bigots.

  350. Well, John R Platt, many of us did back in the Growing Pains days…though the tight white cords were almost as good.

  351. @Peter

    I TRY to ascribe to the theory that to ASSUME makes an ASS of U and ME. Unfortunately, closed minded people still abound these days… and I doubt they’ll be disappearing any time soon. Also, not all bigots and ignorant people are anti-gay, in my experience. Quite simply put – we live 2012 for f**ks sake, not 1912… and it’s about time we opened our closet doors and threw all our old ideas & conceptions back inside while we allow the people who think and act differently from us to emerge into a better future for all. *sigh*

  352. Reading this made my morning. Thank you for yet another excellent post, skewering Cameron’s views and pointing out that criticism of bigotry on its own merits is not “being mean.” And thanks to (most of) the commenters for a (mostly) non-head-desk-inducing comment thread. Whatever is one of the very few blogs I’ll post entries without having to put a DNRC warning on – in fact, as with this entry, I think reading the comments was actually quite interesting.

    And I think I may have to steal this: “People, this isn’t a comment thread on Facebook or a newspaper site, where your cookie-cutter bigotry gets a pass because no one actually looks at it. This is my home, and I don’t like people taking a shit in the middle of the living room” as the basic comment policy summary for my own blog.

  353. kirk is so full of garbage and I will never support someone be able to spread hate speech. His are the kinds of words that lead to gay bashings,teen suicide and incites violence towards gays and lesbians. He should not be able to voice this rubbish anymore than the KKK,white supremacists and nazi’s should. Keep your mouth shut kirk.

  354. I would like to apologize for comments that I have posted that may have caused strife, anger, or hurt anyone in any way. During some prayer, study, and introspection I have realized my mistake, I lacked compassion.

    People will, hopefully, figure out what is and isn’t sin on their own, and telling people that they are sinning has and never will bring someone to be a child of God. The only way to ever do so is through compassion and support, which you-the whatever readers and the writer- have helped me understand at a greater level.

  355. Zach:

    No worries. Your comments were always polite to other commenters and were in the spirit of having an actual discussion. I didn’t see them as out of line. I’m glad the discussion helped you further along in your own explorations.

  356. Fairly spoken, Zach. I will, in turn, hope that your opinions will change as you continue your study and prayerful contemplation, but you’ve been civil and reasonable all through this thread, IMO. Personally (and I just went back and looked at your comments) I don’t see the need for an apology, but that’s just me. Better to make one when it’s not needed than omit one when it is.

  357. Cross post. Again. And it’s John’s place to say it rather than mine, though I hope I made it clear I was speaking for myself. Sorry as appropriate.

  358. If you say something publicly, expect to be disagreed with and criticized. If you can’t handle that, then stay silent. If you feel that the world absolutely *must* hear what you have to say, then put on your Big Boy/Girl Pants and grow a thicker skin before opening your mouth.

  359. Curse you Kirk Cameron for making it so hard to be a practicing follower of Christ! Unconditionally loving all LGBT children = easy. Unconditionally loving Kirk Cameron? Sigh.

  360. As someone who used to comment as ‘Jamie’, that being my name, I would like to make the statement that I am not the Jamie posting above. I’m sure this is only of interest to me, but that one is not me nor reflect my opinions. If it matters, my IP address would have been from Cleveland until October, and now from San Francisco.

    And to be on-topic, the right honorable Mr. Cameron can bite me and my unnatural lifestyle, as I sit here this very minute eating prawns while wearing mixed fibers.

  361. Zach:

    When it comes to electing the Mayor of Assnard, you’re not even on the short-list. :) I suspect there is plenty we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on (there’s nothing wrong with that) but at least you’ve made a good faith, non-troll effort to engage with me and others. I do appreciate that, even if I don’t say so as often as I should.

  362. Considering the number of posts we see make it out of moderation get Malleted back into nothingness I’m always curious to see how many don’t make it out of moderation.

    Regardless, great post, John.

  363. Here’s the main flaw in your argument. If Rush Limbaugh called someone an “asshole” for disagreeing with him you’d call for a boycott of his sponsors. If someone called Bill Maher a jerk for calling Sarah Palin far worse than a “slut” you would say shut up, it’s his free speech right, if you don’t
    Iike it change the channel.

    I’ll be happy when we have equality in this country, meaning that the same rules that apply to the conservative or the Christian ALSO applies to the liberal or the atheist.

  364. Yep, you can call it natural. Just as you can call rape, murder, cannibalism, and incest natural.

    I think he meant unnatural as in “the human species would have died out in one generation if it were homosexual”. For you evolutionists that meant it is a trait which goes against the continuation of the species.

  365. Jason: If Rush Limbaugh called someone an “asshole” for disagreeing with him you’d call for a boycott of his sponsors.

    But he called her a slut. Nice way to rewrite history to make your argument look better than it is.

    If someone called Bill Maher a jerk for calling Sarah Palin far worse than a “slut” you would say shut up, it’s his free speech right

    Congratulations! You just wan an award!

    It even comes with a drawing to make it real simple.

    But the short of it is bigotry is not the same as impolite or mean or even asshole.

    Rush Limbaugh is a bigot.
    Bill Maher is mean to bigots. He’s mean. He pulls no punches. He’s snarky. He’s sarcastic. He’s cutting. Maher is a lot of things, but he’s not a bigot.

    Try not to confuse being a bigot with being mean.

  366. Here’s the main flaw in your argument. If Rush Limbaugh called someone an “asshole” for disagreeing with him you’d call for a boycott of his sponsors. If someone called Bill Maher a jerk for calling Sarah Palin far worse than a “slut” you would say shut up, it’s his free speech right, if you don’t
    Iike it change the channel.

    Oo, can I use imaginary evidence as well? It makes arguments a lot easier.

  367. What you are not understanding is that freedom of speech (and for that matter freedom of religion) nowadays is only supposed to apply to people who speak and worship the way Kirk Cameron and others think. I mean, get with the program . . .

    Great post.

  368. Sawber, the human race would have died out in one generation if it were male.

    Does that make being male unnatural? No.

    Nature takes care of making sure not everyone is male. Nature also takes care of making sure not everyone is homosexual.

    And btw, gay people have had children throughout history. You clearly don’t quite understand what it means (and does not mean) to be gay. Even if gay men were incapable of having sex with women, and lesbians incapable of having sex with men, your extinction argument would still be bullshit.

    Two words: turkey baster.

  369. Some day I honestly want to rise to James Bond like villainy and create a virus that will kill off everyone with the idiot gene. Kirk Cameron beware that day!

    Ever notice that most of these religious buts who are against gays, liberals, abortion, and having an education beyond that of 4the grade are people who can only get laid by people as morally shallow and mentally bankrupt as they are?

  370. Thank you, John Scalzi, for this, right to the point, kick to the gut, article. I had not yet read this when I posted to “rants” something that works right along with your article that I called “HOMOPHOBIA, LASCIVIOUSNESS, RELIGION AND CELIBACY” . I don’t know if it will even be posted at all yet, as I just did it about half hour ago. I wish I had the writing skills that you have to make a point. Keep up the great work you do.

  371. Here’s the main flaw in your argument. If Rush Limbaugh called someone an “asshole” for disagreeing with him you’d call for a boycott of his sponsors. If someone called Bill Maher a jerk for calling Sarah Palin far worse than a “slut” you would say shut up, it’s his free speech right, if you don’t Iike it change the channel.

    I love the smell of fresh bullshit and straw men in the morning!

    Let me break it down for you. I have no desire to support Rush Limbaugh, Bill Maher or their respective sponsors in any way, shape or form. You see – they may have the right to act like potty-mouthed frat boys with blue balls at a kegger who are really pissed Peggy Sue wouldn’t let them stick their hands down her panties. I also have the right to respond that men who casually throw words like “slut” and “c**t” at women who have the GALL to hold views contrary to their own are the ‘roid encrusted arsehole of the body politic who don’t deserve anyone’s attention.

  372. Jason King:

    “Here’s the main flaw in your argument.”

    The main flaw in my argument consists of me performing actions you expect that I would do, based on your assumptions of who I am, rather than evidence based on who I actually am, based on things that I have actually said?

    Wow, that’s a spectacularly stupid argument.

    Hey, Jason: the site-specific search engine is over there in the sidebar. Go ahead and place the words “boycott” and “Limbaugh” into it and see what you get. Then come back and tell me what the main flaw in my argument is.

    Mind you, your argument is a flawed one for other reasons than this. But this one reason is so fundamental that I don’t need to address any other reasons at all. I’m not responsible for what the fantasy version of me in your head does. I am responsible for what the actual me does.

    Sawber:

    “I think he meant unnatural as in ‘the human species would have died out in one generation if it were homosexual.’”

    I gotta tell you, I liked it better when what Kirk Cameron was alleged to have meant with “unnatural” was based on a philosophical and theological concept dating back to Aquinas, because this explanation of “unnatural” is complete weak sauce.

    Fortunately, other people have noted to you the turkey baster-shaped flaw in your argument, so I don’t have any need to explain to you the ways those crafty homosexuals might have to avoid the extinction of the species. But I do want to note that of all the ridiculous explanations of why homosexuality is “unnatural,” yours has the distinction of being the most recent I have read.

  373. [Another spectacularly ridiculous definition of "unnatural" plus more generic homophobic stupidity deleted -- JS]

  374. Yes. This.

    I remain fascinated, in an appalled way, by individuals who are unaware they utterly believe if their views don’t get special privaliges, they’re being discriminanated against. He has the right to say whatever he wants even when it’s based on conservative religous teachings. He doesn’t have the right to be angry that other people avail themselves of that same right and response to him.

  375. Honestly, I read Stirling’s comments as more about gaining the changes you want in a forward looking, strategic manner. If you run around calling every member of Congress a useless, money-grubbing, delusional idiot whose only interest is re-election, flipped ‘em all off, and then spat at their feet…. well, you might not be -wrong-, but good luck passing a law on the heels of that! The same is true of the general populace. You’re better off changing the public’s mind, then the laws. And they won’t be changed by big speeches and rhetoric on talk shows or laws that they’ll never read, that are re-interpreted by politically minded “journalists”. Stirling suggests a different tack: Start small, win big.

    Of course, most people don’t WANT to wait or play the long game.

    WHY SHOULD WE?!

    Being kicked around for a couple thousand years will make any group of people a bit impatient. Quite understandably and rightfully.

    But politics is not about who is right. It never, ever, is. Certainly not in any way I’ve seen. Politics is a trick and democracy is the tyranny of the majority rule. Stirling is talking -tactics-. Shake their hand with the right, smile big, tell them you politely disagree, and slip some notes sympathetic to your cause and done up to look like their own into their binder behind their back. Defeat lies with science, and use some really good PR firms. Spread the word via old school and new school media. Slip your beliefs into advertisements on TV and the internet.

    Basically, kick them in the nuts REALLY slow so they don’t realize it’s happening and do it using their own tricks, because they won’t see those coming. They’re READY for us to protest, riot, and scream our heads off. The entire bigotry machine is based around noisome, rhetoric-filled propaganda and endless debates in which they can clip sound bites and show their side how clever and right they are and how evil/mean/ignorant/stupid/weird everyone else is.

    The average person hearing that transmission? Never gonna know CRAP about your chanting and sign-holding except through a FOX News filter. But they still watch commercials, their kids still watch cartoons, and nothing endears a person to an ideal more than a familiar mascot professing it.

    It sucks, and it’s true.

    BUT, you don’t just BE silent, you WORK silent. -Some- of you. Get things passed on the county and state level. Push things through and alter small groups of minds everywhere, slowly. Build a counter following within their own camp, then they’ll eventually have to adopt it as if it were their own rhetoric, or as if they’re being broken down and they “have” to vote this new way to keep their voice heard. Then they’ll re-write history about how they were always totally for this idea.

    Of course, if there are still people being noisy and loud and spitting in the metaphoric face of oppression and drawing its attention that way, awesome. Show ‘em your left hand and PANTS them with the right. It’s not as fast or as showy and it doesn’t FEEL as good as getting the whole cake all at once; but it is the method that has the best chance of -sticking-.

  376. Well, You have the right to share hate if you want, tis is true. Why get so angry because he does not believe like you? He was asked how he felt about the issue. Should he of stayed quiet to sattisfy you? What would you have done if you were asked the same question? Would you have stayed quiet? Have some respect yourself? Speaking of respect, Most gays (I will not say all) are loud and speak exactly what is on their mind with no concern of how another person feels. So pull up your big boy pants and stop whining because someone shared how they felt that did not agree with how you feel. I have many gay friends but I will not change what I feel or how I believe for them nor do I try to change them. We have a mutual respect for one another. Try it, it’s not hard. To except someone dispite their different view from yours. I know I will get a lot of HATE mail but I don’t care. It’s how I feel so have at it!

  377. Vicki, he does indeed have the right to be angry. But he looks stupid when he then moans and wails publicly about how mean everyone is being to him. This is the problem with taking your soap box into the public square, you might just find that a number of folks disagree with you. Loudly and with feeling. Whining about that disagreement after the fact just shows that you really hadn’t thought through what it was you were doing. You can get angry all you want, but it just tends to compound the initial impression.

  378. If humans exclusively limited their sexual interaction to blowjobs, the species would die out in a generation, too. Can we count on the protesters shrieking about evolution here to condemn blowjobs as unnatural, perverted and detrimental to society?

    Not waiting underwater, me.

    I am, though, a little amused at the “Bill Maher WHARRRGARBL” whining, which conveniently forgets that Maher did receive criticism from all sides for his comments about Palin, and is now urging everyone do to the same “sexist white dudes oughta get a pass” handwaving that he expected he was entitled to.

  379. i want to commit sodomy on kirk cameron, with his permission of course. otherwise it would be rape and that would be wrong. i believe he secretly would like that to. just as he enjoys being called on the carpet about what he said.

  380. Donna
    Gay people aren’t any more likely to be loud or speak their minds without regard than anyone else. You know why? Because they are people. I hope that doesn’t come as a shock to you.

  381. Patrick, et al:

    I would be perfectly happy not to have any additional professions of lust for, or professions of desire to engage in sodomy with, our friend Mr. Cameron. That’s just a personal preference.

  382. I’m pretty sure I have read posts where John has lambasted liberals’ arguments or dumb statements into a similar heap of steaming manure.

  383. Dearest John,
    After reading your post and the comments, I have come to realize that I think I love you.

    You have no idea how important your words are to those of us who have grown to see gay people come out and bloom in the last 50 years. I am a little weepy at the whole thing. I am used to being treated like a pervert and subhuman by what I now refer to as “the bad christians.”
    What is a joy is having someone with no horse in the race, skin in the game or what ever other metaphors come to mind speak so eloquently about things that profoundly effect my life. Your affection for people generically, your unashamed loved and respect for your wife and daughter and, on top of that, stepping up to a plate for me and my peoples is very moving.

    There must be some irony in the fact that Kirk Cameron being an ass has lead to a very public love-letter from a lesbian to a man. If you ever need a cake with a file in it, just let me know.
    Laura

  384. @ Donna

    Of course Cameron is allowed to proffer his opinion when asked for it. I know I would NEVER advocate someone shut up because he disagreed with me. The bigger argument here isn’t what Cameron said -to me at least- but rather, that he acted surprised when his remarks started a firestorm of negative feedback. He’s welcome to believe what he wishes, as long as he doesn’t expect me to buy what he’s selling any more than I’m sure he feels the need to buy what I’m selling if I believe something else.

    As for SOME gay people speaking loudly about how they feel regardless of whether it’s “offensive” to others… think that one through again. So, you think that only gay people can be loud & proud. I’ve met a great many people of ALL walks of life who fit that description. There’s nothing wrong with walking tall and carrying a big stick as long as you’re willing to stand for what you believe when you KNOW people are going to be there to disagree with you. The only one needing to pull up their “Big Boy Pants” is you. JS doesn’t have to justify himself to you on his own blog and if you don’t like something he or the people who agree with him have to say, then move on and keep your opinions to yourself.

    I’m sure your gay friends have loads of respect for you… if you can like them as friends, just not for who they are. I’m sure they’re equally proud of your narrowminded attitude, too. May God bless you one day, and open up your eyes to a world outside the one you currently live in, in your mind.

  385. KaT: I read Stirling’s comments as more about gaining the changes you want in a forward looking, strategic manner.

    Stirling eventually mentions a laundry list of physical violence, murder, torture and so on that he and his family survived. I promise you his focus was in response to fear of more of that kind of violence than about being “strategic” in politeness.

    If you run around calling every member of Congress a useless, money-grubbing, delusional idiot whose only interest is re-election, flipped ‘em all off, and then spat at their feet…. well, you might not be -wrong-, but good luck passing a law on the heels of that!

    Argument by analogy/metaphor has its problems. In this case, your metaphor only applies if you are arguing that a bigot (one willing to withold rights from a group) could be swayed away from his bigotry if you were just *polite* about it.

    Think about that for even a moment, and the flaws become immediately appartant. Advocating for bigotry is advocating for things so monstrous that I see absolutely no reason that a bigot would support the idea of dropping their bigotry if you were just polite enough about it to them.

    Or to put it plainly, *being* a bigot is far more impolite than *calling* them “bigot”.

  386. It continually astonishes me that people just come in here and spew whatever they had in their spewhole, without even checking to see whether it makes any sense at all with what’s been said in the comments or even in the OP. It’s like they have predefined rants and are just pasting them wherever this topic is being discussed.

    …hmm. Maybe they are.

    Certainly Donna was not paying attention. Whether she is ABLE to pay attention is another question. And I’m sure the reason she doesn’t care if she gets “hate mail” is that she is a drive-by and has no intention of reading the comments after hers—after all, she didn’t read the ones before hers, so what difference does it make?

    And I don’t believe she has gay friends, either.

  387. Xopher:

    “It’s like they have predefined rants and are just pasting them wherever this topic is being discussed.”

    There is a subset of people who see any post like this as an opportunity to cut and paste a preordained set of opinions. It’s not just religious/right-wing folks; I’ll note I snipped out one here in this thread spewing anti-Cameron nonsense, too.

  388. I have a sneaky suspicion that if John were in prison, there would be thousands of nerds meeting somewhere near Dayton Correctional Institute figuring out how to bust him out using a toothbrush and Coke Zero.

  389. I suspect that if John were in prison for any crime short of multiple murders, there might well be a crowd of people tearing down the prison walls down with their fingernails, and there CERTAINLY would be a conspiracy of people planning a breakout by any means necessary…and there would probably be experts among those discussing it.

  390. Excellent article, especially your comments concerning free speech and first amendment rights. Educational also since I now have a new word for all my conservative facebook “friends”…. Assnard!

  391. What an amazing thread of comments here! Well said and argued.

    Just would like to make a simple point that the SMStirling that is posting here need not be the SF author of the same name. There is a lot of baggage tied into that assumption.

  392. It’s been a mostly good and interesting discusion too. You know, except for the assnards. I feel like I’ve learned a few things I hadn’t considered before.

  393. This was a great article and great feedback (although after 3 hrs, I’m only half-way thru). I rally enjoyed the comment about whether or not sexuality is a choice or genetic. I am hetero, and would hate for anyone to impose another view on me. But I also choose to date people who appeal to me, and would object to the government dictating that. I f I want to marry someone with blue eyes, that’s my choice, bit it is also my right.

  394. John, let’s face it: if this country ever turns into a dictatorship (on either side of the political spectrum), then snarky, intelligent, outspoken types such as yourself are likely to be the first to get rounded up as “enemies of the state/freedom/whatever.” (Oops–just noticed the pun. It was unintentional, but what the heck.) That said, it behooves those of us who will likely be in the second or third wave of detainees to start making appropriate preparations for the revolution. Checking the recipe box for good, sturdy cakes that might baffle a metal detector sounds like a good plan, to me. I’m thinking dark chocolate with a thick cream cheese frosting, maybe–or perhaps that heavy spice cake that my aunt used to call a Hummingbird Cake. Come to think, that one would probably be useful as a projectile weapon, too, just in case we ever ran out of cannonballs . . .

    Rats. Now I want to bake something.

  395. “I have a sneaky suspicion that if John were in prison, there would be thousands of nerds meeting somewhere near Dayton Correctional Institute figuring out how to bust him out using a toothbrush and Coke Zero.”

    -piffle- _I_ have ready access to high explosives, heavy equipment,people with several disciplines of engineering knowledge, aircraft, personnel with military training in asymmetrical warfare, and a fund of evil genius not seen since the Manhattan Project. John’s stay in any prison on this planet would be short, and come to an abrupt and interesting end. Cake with a file in it, my left buttock.

  396. Lopsided Cat could break John out of prison, no problemo. Cause he’s just that bad-ass. But back to the main topic. Thank you John. Both for writing the initial post and for moderating the ensuing discussion, which was pretty darn interesting. Without the Mallet, discussions like these get ugly fast. Whatever is kind of a special place.

  397. Wow, this thread has certainly grown since the last time I wandered through it. And sometimes in such…exotic directions…too.

    Greg:

    I’m not sure that Mr. Stirling’s argument for tactical silence was entirely due to fear. Many of his other arguments didn’t seem feeble enough for him to propose such a silly response as a primary justification. After all, fear-based discretion is known not to work in the long run by the very group among whom he reports having close friends.

    I, for example, got my taste of the pickax — all right, all right, it was nothing but a rock to the head, but that was still educationally painful — for walking along while not being straight. As do too many of us, I know other glbt folks who shared Mr. Stirling’s horrible experience of a full-out crunching beating, for no particular thing they did. Since discrete silence obviously doesn’t eliminate pickax work, why wouldn’t members of the glbt community court risk for actions that might be either pleasing to our moral vanity, or possibly useful (such as helping to impose a social cost on dangerous bigotry), rather than merely risk violence for mundane actions such as breathing?

    All this written, I do agree with Mr. Stirling that more honestly confused flies can often be caught with honey than with vinegar. However, such a specific agreement doesn’t keep me from employing vinegar in other sorts of situations. And Kirk Cameron still strikes me as being a theologically presumptive crybaby, neener-neener.

  398. Actually it is God’s opinion. What exactly do you want to say to Him? I tend to think the Creator of the Universe can have whatever opinions He wants.
    Kirk is only subscribing to a higher power.

    Here is what makes some sense about God’s view on the subject. He wants reproduction reproduction reproduction…..

    Put the pieces together. The Catholics ban masturbation, birth control and sterilization, on top of Christians banning every conceivable human sex act not between one man and one woman married to each other. What does that leave? Sex with the risk of babies. Throw in a few other verses like women shall be saved in childbearing…. and you have no other conclusion.

    In fact fast forward to Revelations. The Four Horsemen, war, disease, famine, and pestilence, can all be direct causes of population outstripping the food supply (thank you Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb). Famine because there is not enough food for whatever reason (maybe the crops fail because of drought, global warming, topsoil depletion, or a lack of mechanical power to do the farming). People get hungry and sick, and before they watch their kids die of starvation they go to war over the necessities like oil, food, water. And then there is death.

    And then Jesus comes back.

    Is that what the pieces suggest? Bring on Revelations and Jesus Christ! It could happen in our lifetimes. Peak oil could bring mechanized agriculture to a halt, a supervolcano or nuclear war could being on a cold spell (the Yellowstone supervolcano would bury the Great Plains in ash, too), we also have global warming, desertification, shrinking glaciers, aquifers that might run dry or get polluted, topsoil depletion. And the population is merrily increasing all the while. As someone said on Mega Disasters, “the way six billion people get off the planet is die.”

  399. You can nicely say that if you want to live for Christ, you cannot practice sex outside of the kind of marriage God believes in, one man and one woman.

    Everybody else is lost. It doesn’t matter whether they are gay or straight. Unforgiven sinners make good fuel for Hell’s flames.

    Why bother with the straight talk when you should worry about saving their souls? Making them act straight for a lifetime won’t save their souls. If they are saved they are surrendering themselves to God and to the correction by their Christian peers. They place themselves under the jurisdiction to be sexless till marriage and correction is natural concern by peers over one’s behavior and eternal destiny.

    The unsaved have free will, but God can’t save them unless they come surrender to Christ.

  400. I would even go as far as to suggest that God sometimes gives people suffering, like being gay (but celibate) may be God’s call for some. “My Grace is sufficient for thee” no matter how much they request to be relieved of whatever thorn in their flesh: they wouldn’t be the first homosexuals to be turned down by God for relief. Only that God condemns what you do with it. And let’s not forget that straights can’t have any, either, save that they be married. Thank goodness the Protestants do not condemn masturbation like Catholics or we would all be in a fix.

  401. Somebody mentioned unconditional love. Love is an action, not a feeling. Provide for the hungry, the sick, the alone (well that is hard if you don’t feel it), as though they were Jesus Himself.

    Real Christians have a problem both with the people who bash gays in the name of Christ as well as those who proclaim homosexuality in the name of Christ. They both taint our religion and we don’t need it. Don’t wear our label like it justifies your actions.

  402. I have a problem with people who say “Real Christians” when what they mean is “my personal version of what Christianity ought to be.” The use of “real” and “natural” to mean “what I approve of” is an insidious trick, a stealing of the discourse, an underhanded subterfuge attempting to hide one act behind another. It’s like saying, “Well, no true Scotsman …”

    Oh bother, I got bored with it, it’s just so obvious. Y’all c’n work out the rest.

  403. Chris March – if the version of God you present in your first post is, in fact, the really real, True God (TM) – why on earth would anyone wish to worship him? He sounds like a massively sadistic bastard.

  404. “Stirling eventually mentions a laundry list of physical violence, murder, torture and so on that he and his family survived. I promise you his focus was in response to fear of more of that kind of violence than about being “strategic” in politeness.” -Greg

    I think this (and most of the responses to Stirling) miss his points. I had a similar initial gut reaction of “what the heck, isn’t Stirling pro-gay rights?” when I read his first post, but his points as seen through the rest of his posts seem quite solid, If I understand correctly, he is arguing that if you belittle a person you disagree with, you guarantee that both that person and those who disagree with him will never agree with you.

    Now, I don’t think John Scalzi cares about what bigots think of his position, and the sarcastic response he gave to the issue does serve to allow people who already agree that the target of the comments was being a bigot to laugh and release some of the tension caused by reading such bigoted statements constantly. (Thanks for that laugh, by the way, I needed it!) But the cost of that release for those who (IMO correctly) believe that opponents of gay marriage are bigots is an (almost certainly quite slight, in this case) increase in the hostility of the discourse in our society about the issue. I enjoyed Scalzi’s post, quite a bit, but someone who was already leaning towards the right side of the fence might just find it offensive enough to be tipped off the fence and into the Tea Party.

    Personally, at this point I think it is all water under the bridge as the discourse has reached such a fever pitch that improving the morale of those who agree with you and raising their awareness of the problem is about all you can do and actually reaching across the lines that have been drawn is almost entirely fruitless. But I am fundamentally a cynic and I will count myself inordinately lucky if I die without having seen either a second American civil war, a collapse of the democratic system in America, or both. So, if any of you are less hopelessly cynical than I am and don’t think its all too late, you probably should be trying to lower the rhetoric rather than rally the base at the expense of the people on the fence.

    I certainly don’t think Stirling was saying that you should let fear paralyze you. I understood him as saying that you should be aware of the consequences of raising the hostility of the discussion and that if the goal is to convince the other guy that he is wrong, or to convince those who agree with him that he is wrong, then ridiculing them does not accomplish that.

    Yes, fear is involved in Stirling’s posts, but if people are not scared about rising violent responces to political issues then I really don’t know what to say to them. They aren’t really paying much attention to the world of the last year, let alone ancient history. Frankly, people should be scared, especially if this current trend of distrust in elected government continues.

    Historically speaking, the most common next step I have seen to a development of disbelief in the efficacy of government and a breakdown of society into mutually hostile factions is that disagreement with the system is expressed in violent terms by those who have the means to do so. It is one thing to say that you should not be paralyzed by fears based on a knowledge of history, this is quite valid. History is an excellent tool for teaching critical thinking, especially when it comes to developing a healthy skepticism about culture and authority, but it is not predictive. That said, completely ignoring history and blindly hoping that things will be different this time is just foolish. History may not be predictive, but you can at least attempt to learn from peoples’ successes and mistakes in the past. That I say that we seem to be on a path towards violence does not mean that violent breakdowns are inevitable, far from it, just that we are a path that *quite often* leads to violent action.

    The thing that is not present in Stirling’s posts is a suggestion that you should do nothing because of fear. Rather that one should do what one can to improve things, but that actions that lead to violence are not exactly ideal and that more actions lead to violence than you might think. If I am understanding him correctly, I cannot really disagree with him.

    I also have to completely agree with him about how important it is to understand that if someone is going to accuse the other side of having a socially constructed worldview rather than one based on divine law, then they should perhaps look at their own beliefs and ask if they are not also socially constructed. Where exactly do right and wrong come from, if they are categories that exist outside of social contexts? If one is religious, the answer is easy, if one is not then it becomes significantly less easy.

    I might agree with someones particular socially constructed worldview, at least in part, Personally, I have a solidly leftist worldview, but said worldview is also tempered by reading far far too much history and knowing how many ways things can and have gone horribly wrong.

    It is also tempered by the fact that I find the attitude of “Someone disagrees with me, therefore that person is utterly wrong and must be crushed” to be offensive, no matter who is doing it. It is at its core anti-intellectual behavior that is designed to end discussion prematurely before the best solution is reached. This, to my peculiar worldview, is about the most insulting thing I can say about something. Starting with the assumption that nothing you know is absolutely valid and building from there seems to me a much better way to operate than assuming you know things that you do not.

  405. honestly, I really dont care who or what your having sex with so long as he/she/it is capable of giving consent, and that consent was actually given. I’m male, and while predominantly heterosexual, I’m willing to consider the ‘other side of the fence’ with an open bed… er mind.

    To say that Christians are -not- catching a shitload of flack, deserved or otherwise, is a remarkable self delusion.

    as far as the whole ‘marriage’ buisiness goes, it predates this country, and most others as well. I’m pretty sure it even pre-dates cristianity. Marriage in my mind, was, and still is, primarily about property rights, and inheritance. Who gets the land when Mom and Dad die? Do I have any special social status because of who Mom, or Dad is/was?

    These needs are somewhat outdated. Frankly, I’d love to see .Gov doing nothing but social unions, and marriage being a purely -religious- ritual.

    Which brings me to the next point. For all the people who scream about ‘equal rights’, I’m seeing an aweful lot of gay people using the law as a bludgeon to -make- other people accept them, or do buisiness with them.

    I have the right to be an asshole. I -can- say “you’re gay, I don’t want to do buisness with you.” And you (hypothetical you) would have every right to tell the world what an asshole I am. What you -should not- have the right to do is use the Fist of the State to -make me- conform to your desires.

  406. “If I understand correctly, he is arguing that if you belittle a person you disagree with, you guarantee that both that person and those who *disagree* with him will never agree with you.” -My own post.

    The starred disagree should read agree. I really need to learn to proofread!

  407. @ Kevin Stephen

    As a gay man, even before I learned to love myself for who I AM and therefore felt prepared to thrust open the closet door and admit to the world that I AM gay, I take offense to anyone’s lack of understanding that a person’s sexuality is not their CHOICE, but rather a personal acceptance of who they ARE. Our sexuality is not like a fast food order at your local burger joint.

    I think most people, when they say “… loving who they choose to love…” mean not restricting a person’s choice. For example, saying X can choose whom to love from Ys, but not from other Xs. They don’t, I think, usually mean choosing which subset as a whole.

    I do appreciate the apology. It’s not you… I just grow tired of people in general who think a person chooses to be gay. People need to get over themselves.

    Whenever someone straight says they think it’s a choice, one can quickly fix their misapprehension by asking …so you could choose to be gay?. Flimsy rationalizations are easily burst.

    I TRY to ascribe to the theory that to ASSUME makes an ASS of U and ME.

    Pithy, but illogical. I’m pretty sure it just makes an ass out of the assumer.

    @ The Pint

    Whatever is one of the very few blogs I’ll post entries without having to put a DNRC warning on – in fact, as with this entry, I think reading the comments was actually quite interesting.

    Tell me about it. I can count on one hand the number of regularly updated sites where I read the comments, without using any thumbs (Whatever, Boing Boing, Orion’s Arm and a small private chat room for the grad students at my school).

    @ jim

    kirk is so full of garbage and I will never support someone be able to spread hate speech. His are the kinds of words that lead to gay bashings,teen suicide and incites violence towards gays and lesbians. He should not be able to voice this rubbish anymore than the KKK,white supremacists and nazi’s should. Keep your mouth shut kirk.

    Better that bigots are called out in the daylight than sheltered in the dark of night. Censorship is evil. Fighting fear with fear is insidious. Prohibitions against speech have the same effect as prohibitions against drugs, to drive the prohibited thing underground where is can spread unchallenged. Bigotry does not go away when you suppress it; it flows through the cracks and weakens the foundation. Open disagreement is the only bulwark society has against hate and its only recourse against fear.

    “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” ~ Louis Dembitz Brandeis

    @ Jason King

    Here’s the main flaw in your argument. If Rush Limbaugh called someone an “asshole” for disagreeing with him you’d call for a boycott of his sponsors. If someone called Bill Maher a jerk for calling Sarah Palin far worse than a “slut” you would say shut up, it’s his free speech right, if you don’t Iike it change the channel.

    Rush, Maher and you all have as much right to protected speech as John or anyone else (though Rush’s advertisers have zero right to the money of would-be customers that disagree with Rush, because their customers, not serfs, so you and Rush keep your damn hands off other people’s property). John will enthusiastically support that right. Your assumption to the contrary proves you either didn’t read or didn’t pay attention to the original post. To wit, John’s statement:

    Well, Kirk Cameron, here’s the thing. You are correct when you say you should be able to express your moral views on social issues, and as a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I will defend to the death your right to say whatever ridiculous, ignorant and bigoted thing that has been fermenting in that cracked clay pot you call a brain pan.

    Now, would you care to amend your strawman argument, or simply prove you’re a post-and-run troll?

    KaT Adams

    But politics is not about who is right. It never, ever, is. Certainly not in any way I’ve seen. Politics is a trick and democracy is the tyranny of the majority rule.

    Thankfully, S.M. Stirling, John and Kirk Cameron and I all live in a constitutionally limited democratic republic, not a direct democracy.

    Stirling is talking -tactics-.

    Indeed, and I respectfully disagree with him (and you) about the merits of those tactics. If you want to know why, see my replies to his comments. I have no objections to Stirling’s goals, nor any personal beef with his contrarian advice.

    @ Donna

    I have many gay friends but I will not change what I feel or how I believe for them nor do I try to change them. We have a mutual respect for one another. Try it, it’s not hard. To except someone dispite their different view from yours.

    And how do your *many gay friends* feel about you’re agreeing with Kirk Cameron that:

    Of homosexuality, he’d said, “I think that it’s unnatural, I think that it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”

    They must some friends to be friends with someone who considers them detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.

    I know I will get a lot of HATE mail but I don’t care. It’s how I feel so have at it!

    The martyr bit might be more convincing if your avatar linked to your email. Not that anyone should waste their time corresponding with you.

    @ patrick

    i want to commit sodomy on kirk cameron, with his permission of course. otherwise it would be rape and that would be wrong. i believe he secretly would like that to. just as he enjoys being called on the carpet about what he said.

    So Rape victims secretly want to be raped? That’s almost as classy as Homophobes are really just closested homos.

    @ Zach

    I’m pretty sure I have read posts where John has lambasted liberals’ arguments or dumb statements into a similar heap of steaming manure.

    Stupidity is a rainbow. Genius is a spectrum.

    @ Greg

    Stirling eventually mentions a laundry list of physical violence, murder, torture and so on that he and his family survived. I promise you his focus was in response to fear of more of that kind of violence than about being “strategic” in politeness.

    Psychoanalyzing people you’ve never met based on a handful of internet comments may lead to unintended side effects such as discounting the self-honest sincerity of people who have had traumatic experiences, believing all victims of trauma are incapable of forming rational and objective arguments, and believing in the ability to read minds. If you or someone you know shows signs of any of these symptoms, contact rational doubt today and see if debating arguments instead of ad hominem may be right for you.

    I like you Greg, I find I often agree with you, and I hope you don’t take my sarcasm as derisive. As I’ve said before, if your way works for you, that’s all that matters. I merely wanted to toss my 2¢ in with some levity.

    Re: the YouTube video you linked to: My night is now complete, thank you.

    @ John

    WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE IMAGINING ME IN PRISON?

    Free Scalzi!!!

    Also, the next comment will be the 500th. That’s a healthy number of comments.

    Says the person who didn’t get a B on his nonlinear dynamics midterm because he was rapt by Whatever. You’re an addiction, John, and I don’t have the cure. And to think I just went cold turkey on my Boing Boing habit…grrrrr

    @ Mary Frances

    John, let’s face it: if this country ever turns into a dictatorship (on either side of the political spectrum), then snarky, intelligent, outspoken types such as yourself are likely to be the first to get rounded up as “enemies of the state/freedom/whatever.”

    For every outspoken geek, there are a hundred geeks standing behind them, and guess who engineers all the dictator’s equipment?

    Sorry to all for my craptastic grammar checking. I’d like to blame it on the lack of a preview button, but I compose my comments in a separate HTML editor before I copy them in so I don’t have to manually insert all the tags. My numerous typos stem from the fact that I’m most often reading and commenting between focusing on school work.

  408. Chris Marsh:

    “I tend to think the Creator of the Universe can have whatever opinions He wants.”

    Should such a being exist, the Creator of the Universe, like anyone else, is indeed entitled to its opinion. I reserve my right to doubt Kirk Cameron has any idea what that opinion might be. Nor Chris Marsh. The best either can do is assert his opinion of what he thinks such a being would want. They should probably be aware that their opinion varies, sometimes dramatically, from the opinions of others regarding what such an entity should want.

    That said, like any other entity, the opinion of the Creator of the Universe is not immune to criticism. And if the Creator of the Universe were to act like an intolerant bigot, then it should be prepared to be called on its actions.

    “Kirk is only subscribing to a higher power.”

    Oddly enough, lots of people subscribe to a higher power without being an ignorant bigot. Cameron should try that, at least in public.

    I’ll also note that your confidence in determining who is a “Real Christian” and who is not seems misplaced, at best. I’m pretty sure Christ did not put you in charge of such things, and if he did I would like to see the verified documentation of such transfer of authority.

    A shorter version of this: Neither I nor anyone else is required to subscribe to your opinion that you know what God wants; neither I nor anyone else need accept the suggestion that one’s belief in a higher power is a shield from criticism.

    Also, Chris Marsh, for future reference: Multiple sequential posts from the same person drive me a little nuts. Please aggregate all your thoughts into a singe post if you can. Thank you.

    M. House:

    “To say that Christians are -not- catching a shitload of flack, deserved or otherwise, is a remarkable self delusion.”

    Certainly people who profess to follow Christ, and yet practice the sort of intolerant bigotry that would give Jesus (as I understand him) the hives, are catching a lot of shit. As they should, since a love of Christ shouldn’t be a shield against criticism for one’s personal actions. There are a lot of Christians, however, who are getting along just fine.

    Likewise, there are people who will lump all Christians into one undifferentiated mass, ignoring all doctrinal and theological differences between them. Those people are idiots.

    “What you -should not- have the right to do is use the Fist of the State to -make me- conform to your desires.”

    So you are suggesting that people who are gay, among all the citizens of the United States, are the only ones which should not seek redress to the government when they believe their rights under the Constitution of the United States (and/or the constitutions of the several states) are being abused or denied because of who they are? If so, it’s an interesting position, to be sure. However, they are not obliged to listen to you, when it comes time for them to seek such redress.

  409. Donna:

    As has been said, I don’t think most gay people are loud. They’re just people who happen to have a different sexual preference. I’m skeptical you have any proof or anything to show me besides your opinion that proves gay people are more likely to be loud.

    My gay friends are much more reserved and do better in polite society than I do. Obviously there are gay people who will be louder and more opinionated than me because, you know, they’re people. Last time I checked, people are varied, regardless of sexual preference.

    Your whole “I have gay friends” argument reminds me of people I know who say derogatory things about a black person, and then go, “But it’s o.k. because my friend is black.” Basically, I’m not buying it.

  410. As for this whole debate in general, even if the Bible says if it’s wrong or not, what does this have to do with equal rights for gay people? This country has separation of church and state and if the only argument that can be made against gay marriage is the Bible saying it’s wrong, then people are going to be disappointed when they realize this isn’t a theocracy and more states adopt gay marriage.

  411. “To say that Christians are -not- catching a shitload of flack, deserved or otherwise, is a remarkable self delusion.”

    I’d like to do a slight reality-based modification on that statement.

    “To say that people who want to enter into volatile debates on matters of public police and/or equate a whole class of people to child molesters, incestuous rapists and animal-shaggers are NOT catching a shitload of flack is a remarkable self-delusion.”

    I’m not seeing many psychotic folks around here, least of all our host. And you know what, to echo an analogy John used up thread: When you walk into someone house and shit on the rug, you really shouldn’t expect a round of applause.

    “I tend to think the Creator of the Universe can have whatever opinions He wants.”

    I’d agree with you there, Chris Marsh. I also tend to think there’s much in the classical Greek concept of hubris being swiftly followed by nemesis. Look it up.

  412. M House
    The State goverments issue these things called marriage certificates. Churches are not a legal entity in marriages. Whether or not a church will recognize a marriage has nothing to do with the equal rights gay people are seeking. To use a somewhat crude example, no gay couple is going to bust into a Baptist revival and Shout out,
    “We’re here, we’re queer, Marry us!”
    No. They want equal rights under the law, and there is no real reason to deny them those rights. What exactly are you talking about, using the law as a bludgeon? And making you do business with them? A business would be awfully stupid to use a pointless arbitrary standard like that to not accept peoples money. Yeah, sure you have the right to be an asshole, but you also have the right to go out of business if you refuse to do business with people out of some kind of prehistoric homophobic mindset. The point i’m trying to make, and I’ll stop rambling on about, is that they are just trying to live their lives with the same rights and privliges that other citizens of this country enjoy. No on is trying to fist you M House, and if they are just slap their hand away and tell them to stop.

  413. This is like bailing on a party on Friday night and finding out it’s still going on Monday morning.

    You’d think the beer would have run out by now.

  414. Parhelion: I do agree with Mr. Stirling that more honestly confused flies can often be caught with honey than with vinegar.

    Joel: if you belittle a person you disagree with, you guarantee that both that person and those who disagree with him will never agree with you.

    More flies with honey than vinegar? Ok, did you ever notice in this cozy little dogma you guys have, that it doesn’t actually explain where the line is between vinegar and honey? Have you noticed where it ends up getting drawn?

    The simple question for all three of you is this:

    Can I call a bigot a bigot? Can I tell a bigot that the thing he just said is nothing but plain bigotry? Because if your dogma does not allow for the simple truth to be spoken, then I’d say there is something totally messed up about your dogmas.

    What if a woman doesn’t say anything at all, but refuses to get up and move to the back of the bus? Does your dogma allow for that?

    Because it seems to me that your dogma of “more flies with honey than vinegar” has one serious and significant glaring flaw here:

    The decision as to where to draw the line between “honey” and “vinegar” is put in the hands of bigots.

    If a bigot is made angry, then that’s vinegar.
    If a bigot is made upset, then that’s vinegar.
    If a bigot is made to feel guilty, then that’s vinegar.
    If a bigot doesn’t like what you’re doing, then it’s ultimately vinegar instead of honey.

    Whether our actions satisfies your dogma, whether it is “vinegar” or “honey” is decided by whether the bigot *accepts* what we say/do or *reacts* *negatively* to what we say or do.

    But that’s why I said Stirling’s reason for advocating this is because he is primarily looking to *avoid* *conflict*, avoid the pick axe, more than anything else. Because ultimately, the determining factor which we would use to follow this dogma would be based on whether or not the bigot *likes* *what* *we* *are* *doing* or not. The result of this dogma is that we cannot say or do anything which might upset a bigot in any way. We must avoid any and all potential conflict because it could be vinegar.

    Any attempt to highlight bigotry, no matter how sweet you try to make it, will always land as “vinegar” for a bigot.

  415. Peter Cibulskis says: “Kevin, can we just assume that everyone on the planet who still thinks that “sexual preference is a choice” are either bigots or ignorant and assume that everyone else gets it? ”

    Peter, does this apply to people who experience their *own* sexual orientation as involving a measure of choice? Because, personally — not being omniscient or even just psychic — I tend to err on the side of not second-guessing people’s self-perceptions. And even though my own orientation, while happily flexible, seems to be rooted into bedrock with concrete and rebar, I’m aware that human behavior in general and human sexuality in specific involve huge variations in both expression and foundation over the population.

  416. Gulliver:

    I assure you that there is zero controversy among bisexuals about whether or not we exist. That some other folks are less certain about that is generally some combination of amusing, exasperating, and/or annoying.

    As far as whether every woman — or as it’s sometimes theorized, every*one* — is “really” bisexual, the clear answer is “No, not in any meaningful sense.” People do sometimes handwave speculations about everyone being “potentially bisexual” or some such thing, but really, what’s the damn point? For many (most?) people, the potential seems so low as to be indistinguishable from non-existent, and therefore irrelevant.

  417. My comment may be viewed as simplistic, I don’t know but I’ll put it out there and just see what people think. Has it struck anyone that this may be a personal thing with Kirk. That maybe he is so set against Gays because he himself is or has been treated to unpleasant accusations or harassment at some point in his life. He always struck me as somewhat on the effeminate side even during his years on the Growing Pains show. I know that that there are plenty of places in the Mans world where some men get razed a great deal about being “homos” because they aren’t tough guys. Is it possible, and I’m just throwing this out there as a thought, that maybe this is what happened to Kirk. Maybe this is a personal issue more than anything else.

  418. Fred Mann:

    It’s become something of a harsh joke that the nastier the ‘phobe, the more likely it is that they’re themselves deeply closeted and/or in denial.

    But yes, some people who are teased and/or bullied as kids because their behavior doesn’t perfectly fit gender norms sometimes react by loudly joining the oppression. So perhaps it started as a “personal issue” for him … but his expression of it is very, very public.

  419. John Scalzi: “[L]ike any other entity, the opinion of the Creator of the Universe is not immune to criticism. And if the Creator of the Universe were to act like an intolerant bigot, then it should be prepared to be called on its actions.”

    That instantly reminded me of:

    “But, he reminded himself savagely, two things remained to him – his own taste and his own pride. If indeed the Fosterites held a monopoly on Truth (as they claimed), if Heaven were open only to Fosterites, then he, Jubal Harshaw, gentleman and free citizen, preferred that eternity of pain. filled damnation promised to all “sinners” who refused the New Revelation. He might not be able to see the naked Face of God… but his eyesight was good enough to pick out his social equals – and those Fosterites, by damn, did not measure up!”

  420. Grrrr….

    OK, so there’s no “preview” button. Which means if I screw up a:

    “less than” “i” “greater than”

    pair, I get a run-on italicized block of text that goes until the next “close italics” marker.

    So, I decided to change my emphasis markers to asterisks. Because I know at one point, asterisks on this blog would bold the text. At least if you put it around a single word.

    The word *bold* should be bold.

    The advantage of that is that if I miss a trailing asterisk, I don’t get massive run on blocks of bolded text. Instead I get a single word with an odd asterisk in front of it.

    But I just noticed that didn’t happen with my last post.

    Aggravating….

  421. Joel DS: That is *a* point, certainly, but it was not the point that Mr. Stirling made. There is, in fact, a very large difference between “calling them ‘bigots’ is ineffective” and “you better quit pissing them off or they’ll fuck up your shit.” The former is certainly debatable, but the latter is what was actually said.

    Re ‘choice’ and inherent sexuality, it’s strange that sexual orientation is the only place where this gets brought up. Couldn’t all those Christians complaining about being oppressed and silenced simply, you know, change their faith? Isn’t being Christian a choice, unlike one’s skin color or national origin?

  422. I just drained my ipod battery reading just half of this comment section. How do you keep on top of this, John? This is a full time job!
    Nothing to add, aside from chiming in that I freaking LOVED the original post, and the god-mongers visiting from outside sites make me laugh.

  423. mythago: re: choice:

    Yeah, that. It exasperates me somewhat that so many LGBTs and allies feed into that framing, though I do understand where it comes from.

  424. He needs to watch “Prayers for Bobby” and speak to Bobby’s mother about her Christian and moral struggles. When she learned more about who her homosexual son was following his suicide, she said that SHE killed her son because of her ignorance. Now she is an incredible advocate.

  425. Just to be a nitpicky pain in the ass:

    I’d argue that humans making tools and then using those tools to make tools is profoundly natural behavior for a human. (But so is non-procreative sexual pleasure of all sorts, at least from my own understanding of biology as a layperson).

  426. “Any attempt to highlight bigotry, no matter how sweet you try to make it, will always land as “vinegar” for a bigot.” -Greg

    I absolutely agree, when it comes to the confirmed bigots. What I am more worried about are the people who have views that are bigoted but which are not particularly strong and/or half confirmed. Seeing someone taken apart for their views is a very polarizing thing, a with us or against us attitude leads towards a lot of people being against you who might not have cared. Where worries of violence come into the picture is that as the polarized camps become increasingly large and normal, the radical fringes of those camps feel more entitled and that leads to the contemplation of violence against those non-Americans or those bigots on the other side. Basically, it is a very small step from declaring a different group to be an Other to deciding that said Other deserves to die.

    I don’t actually entirely think that we should avoid polarizing comments entirely, they have a place and I often personally quite enjoy seeing them, but realizing that polarizing comments do actually cause reactions that can lead to unintended consequences is a quite reasonable thing to do.

    “Joel DS: That is *a* point, certainly, but it was not the point that Mr. Stirling made. There is, in fact, a very large difference between “calling them ‘bigots’ is ineffective” and “you better quit pissing them off or they’ll fuck up your shit.” The former is certainly debatable, but the latter is what was actually said.” -Mythago

    Are we judging his position by his first comment alone or by his first comment and his responses? I absolutely agree with you that his first comment read as “quit pissing them off before someone gets hurt.” That said, I also think at this point he has qualified those initial statements quite a bit, and that it seems more reasonable to judge the totality of the comments than hold him to how he came across in his first comment.

  427. @ Bearpaw

    As far as whether every woman — or as it’s sometimes theorized, every*one* — is “really” bisexual, the clear answer is “No, not in any meaningful sense.” People do sometimes handwave speculations about everyone being “potentially bisexual” or some such thing, but really, what’s the damn point?

    The biotech student, who was herself bisexual, seemed more interested in the biological question of how sexual orientation was determined in the brain, i.e. whether it was a digital disposition with three possible results, or an analogue scale. In and of itself, the question is scientifically fascinating. It is, however, irrelevant to civil rights which are a question of liberty versus tyranny.

    @ Fred Mann

    I know that that there are plenty of places in the Mans world where some men get razed a great deal about being “homos” because they aren’t tough guys. Is it possible, and I’m just throwing this out there as a thought, that maybe this is what happened to Kirk. Maybe this is a personal issue more than anything else.

    Certainly the possibility exists that someone’s fear of something might be the result of sexual insecurity, but that’s hardly the only possible cause. Only Kirk Cameron has the ability to know for certain, and speculating on it seems unproductive. At the end of the day, it has no bearing on whether what he says is bigoted.

    Whenever someone attempts to get inside the mind of people they don’t actually know, I’m reminded of pundit shows that bring psychologists on to psychoanalyze those in the public eye. Since the one thing we can be certain about Kirk Cameron is what he says and does, I prefer to address his statements and actions rather than the potential mindsets underpinning them.

  428. Greg: “Any attempt to highlight bigotry, no matter how sweet you try to make it, will always land as “vinegar” for a bigot.”

    Joel: “I absolutely agree, when it comes to the confirmed bigots.”

    OK.

    “What I am more worried about are the people who have views that are bigoted but which are not particularly strong and/or half confirmed.”

    Charlie is a “confirmed” bigot. Charlie goes out and say gays are an abomination, a danger to society, a threat to children, and a menace to all that is good in the universe.

    Henry is a “half-confirmed” bigot. He hears what Charlie says and thinks “there may be some truth to what you say, Charlie”.

    At this point, the idea of a “half confirmed bigot” out to be visible for the silliness it is. But if not, lets continue our story.

    Eve stands for equal rights. She hears Charlie spew his bigotry and Eve pulls no punches. She confronts every statement that Charlie makes about gays and shows how ignorant, uninformed, fear mongering, dogmatic, and unscientific Charlie’s statements are. Eve shows Charlie to be wrong on every single point.

    Our half-confirmed bigot, Henry, watches all this and decides that even though he was never “certain” that Charlie was absolutely correct, Henry decides that Eve is absolutely wrong because Eve was mean in Henry’s eyes and Charlie was polite about his bigotry.

    Ignore the sheer ludicrousness that Henry has to be thinking here for a moment and lets just continue on…

    As a result, Paul who wants equality decides that the way to fight bigotry and achieve equality is to do it through Politeness. Polite Paul doesn’t attack Confirmed bigot Charlie or Half confirmed bigot Henry. Polite Paul doesn’t say anything at all to Charlie or Henry. Instead, Paul focuses his attention on Equality Eve and tells her that she’s doing it all wrong. Polite Paul tells Eve she must be polite because she’ll never convert Confirmed Bigot Charlie, but if she is too “mean” to Charlie, she won’t convert Half-Confirmed Henry.

    Polite Paul doesn’t actually have any *evidence* to support his point of view. Paul has never actually converted a Charlie or a Henry personally himself. But he “knows” the proper way to convert people. And rather than go out and implement his “polite conversion process” ™ and accumulate any sort of track record to show that PCP(tm) is effective, Polite Paul simply makes a point of telling Eve how she should be doing things.

    This “be polite to bigots” thing is about as grounded in reality/facts as a lot of the current diet fads are. Diet fads traffic in an area where results are nonexistent because doing an actual statistically significant study would be a massive amount of work, following a huge number of people over an extremely long period of time and relying a great deal on the people honestly reporting their habits. So they aren’t proven in any scientific way. And yet, that lack of proof somehow magically allows the diet fad to be “true” until proven false.

    There is no proof that “be polite to bigots” is more effective than “be direct with bigots and call them on their bigotry”. None.

    And no one who advocates “be polite to bigots” that I’ve ever run into has ever shown me proof for their argument. They can’t even point to a personal track record of “I converted three half-confirmed bigots in my lifetime”.

    These “half confirmed bigots” exist in a reality similar to “lurkers support me in email”. They are what Richard Nixon referred to as the “silent majority”. Which is to say, they don’t exist other than in the mind of the speaker to support their POV in a way that cannot be directly disproved. How am I going to interview the “silent majority” and find out if they support Nixon or not. How am I going to find your “half confirmed bigots” you speak of and find out if any of them were ever swayed by your polite-bigotry-conversion-process?

    What I *do* know however, is that in extreme cases, the “be polite to bigots” is actually sourced by a view of “avoid conflict at all cost” rather than “politeness converts the bigot” idea. Mr. Stirling eventually listed a massive amount of violence he and his family lived through and that he didn’t want that to happen again. That was his underlying motivation. Not converting bigots, but avoid reprisals from bigots.

    Me personally, I’m not saying I want “someone taken apart for their views”. I have no interest in taking apart a bigot. I have every interest in taking apart a bigot’s views.

    You failed to make that distinction. Half-confirmed Henry might also fail to make that distinction. And there’s not a damn thing I can do about it other than point it out and hope it gets through. But I’m not going to avoid speaking truth to bigotry just because half-confirmed henry or polite pete might misunderstand my comments attacking the views of a bigot and mistake them for attacking the bigot himself.

    Calling a bigot “bigot” is not impolite. It’s not an attack on the bigot himself, but it is pointing out the effect of his words and deeds. And the effect of a bigot’s words and actions is to attack the personage of some group.

    Which then forces the question: Which is more impolite: to allow Charlie to attack some minority as a people, simply for who they are, or to attack Charlie’s VIEWS and call them the bigotry they are?

    One can be IMPOLITE through INACTION. One can be IMPOLITE by allowing Charlie to call someone a “fag”, to allow Charlie to be *horrendous* towards another human being, and to remain SILENT because it is easier personally to not get involved than to stand up to the greater sin of bigotry and possibly risk the smaller sin of offending a bigot who had no concern of offending an entire group of people.

  429. My comment may be viewed as simplistic, I don’t know but I’ll put it out there and just see what people think. Has it struck anyone that this may be a personal thing with Kirk. That maybe he is so set against Gays because he himself is or has been treated to unpleasant accusations or harassment at some point in his life.

    @Fred Mann: I don’t know, and at the most basic level I don’t really care. Plenty of people have difficult and unpleasant experiences in life – or downright abusive ones, which I think is what you’re dancing around – without turning into drooling dick-bags.

    I can’t imagine basically growing up on a television set would be anyone’s idea of an idyllic childhood – and you don’t need Yoda-like Google-fu to find a lot of Cameron and his sister’s ‘child star’ peers grew up way too fast and came to sad, ugly ends. If their religious faith helped them, well that’s one positive and I wish them nothing but long life and happiness. But when they try and make their “personal” issues mine? We have a problem.

  430. @Greg I never meant to imply, though my wording did, that the true bigots can be swayed. But I prefer to believe that most people espousing bigotry are simply parroting the most common concept laid before them and that dialogue can open a chance of reasoning. If that isn’t the case, being impolite does no better. Screaming at one another accomplishes nothing. And, call me naive, but I’d rather believe that ignorance is a curable condition and true ingrained bigotry a much rarer and likely terminal form of the disease. Because otherwise, what options are we left with?

    Of course, naive or not, I still don’t leave my house unarmed, whether I “pass” for straight or not. I have a scar on my face for being a bit too “queer-looking”, I’m not really eager to experience that again. THAT sort of bigotry seems to only be surmountable in one way, and that bothers me a great deal.

  431. Gulliver: “The biotech student, who was herself bisexual, seemed more interested in the biological question of how sexual orientation was determined in the brain, i.e. whether it was a digital disposition with three possible results, or an analogue scale. In and of itself, the question is scientifically fascinating.”

    Of course that’s fascinating. So is the question of whether and to what extent sexual orientation is determined in the brain. So is the question of whether and to what extent genetics has an effect on sexual orientation. So is the question of whether and to what extent socialization has an effect on sexual orientation. So is the question of whether and to what extent these effects (and others) vary from individual to individual.

    ” It is, however, irrelevant to civil rights which are a question of liberty versus tyranny.”

    Exactly so. “Equal treatment under the law: Is that an ideal we should be following, or not?” Obviously, *I* think so, and so does our host and many of the folks who hang out here.

    For Whatever It’s Worth, my background includes experience helping facilitate a coming-out support group and jobs supporting genetics researchers. That’s why any emphatic and generalized statement of IT’S NOT A CHOICE makes me itch. It wasn’t a choice for me. It’s not a choice for a lot of people. That doesn’t make it a universal truth. There’s been some research that suggests one or more biological components to sexual orientation. That doesn’t make for a proved, thoroughly-understood scientific truth.

  432. KaT Adams:

    But I prefer to believe that most people espousing bigotry are simply parroting the most common concept laid before them and that dialogue can open a chance of reasoning.

    Quite. I’m have to snuffle out the link, but I was very far from surprised by a poll that suggested a very strong correlation between the people most vehemently opposed to marriage equality and who assert they don’t have any filthy Sodomite she-males in their families or communities, (Meanwhile, that sound you hear is another million nails going into another million closet doors.)

    Here’s an idea.

    If you’re not going to call out someone who tells lies about GLBT parents and their children…

    …. or make “yes, but…” excuses for another white male media misogynist who calls a woman a whore or a c**t because, hey, you don’t like her political views either…

    … or roll your eyes and mutter “oh, he’s just an old man – why make a fuss?” at Thanksgiving dinner when Grandpa launches into the same old racist tirade about immigrants for the thousandth time…

    … or you waggle you finger at a woman, GLBT person or person of colour from your position of economic and social privilege and tell them they’re just harming their cause by being so “angry” and “confrontational”…

    You may not be a bigot. But you’re definitely something even worse: You’re an enabler.

  433. KaT:

    “Screaming at one another accomplishes nothing.”

    Except where did anyone do anything that qualified as “screaming at” Kirk Cameron?

    That’s the weird thing about the “be polite to bigots” crowd. They object to impoliteness, to screaming at one another, but who screamed at anyone on this thread?

    And, call me naive, but I’d rather believe that ignorance is a curable condition and true ingrained bigotry a much rarer and likely terminal form of the disease. Because otherwise, what options are we left with?

    I think history shows a tendancy over time moving away from bigotry and moving towards equality. I am of the impression that the vast majority of people have no idea why it’s happening. I don’t know myself. I do have some unproven ideas. None of them include “being polite”. To steal a line:

    well behaved humans rarely make history.

  434. Craig: You may not be a bigot. But you’re definitely something even worse

    No. Bigotry is worse.

    Just like bigotry is worse than calling a bigot “bigot”; so to bigotry is worse than someone trying to find a non-confrontational solution to bigotry.

    There seems to be a tendancy to color the distinction as more black and white the closer someone gets to a person’s poitn of view. This would be one of those times.

    What it is plugging into is the emotional detetion logic in the brain that sees “betrayal”. It isn’t neccessarily logical. It’s just part of the brain machinery. And it would be the most likely process that would take an ally you disagree with and turn them into something worse than the enemy.

    Really, bigotry is worse. No need to brand people traitors.

    I don’t see Mr. Stirling or KaT or anyone else who was asking for politeness towards bigots as a traitor. For some of them, it was clear that the motivation was more a matter of avoiding conflict rather than converting bigots. For others, it was simply a matter of pointing out the “more flies with honey” mantra is an *unproven* mantra.

    What matters to me is effectiveness, not figuring out who is on my team and who is a betraying enabler…

  435. “the Constitution itself not only restricts certain activities of the US government specifically, but takes it one step further and explicitly states (somewhere, I’m by no means a Constitutional scholar) that all rights and powers not explicitly reserved by the federal government defaulted to the individual states.”

    The OP is Canadian, so I’ll give a pass on the inaccuracy of the statement. After all, conservatives have been conveniently editing that passage for years, and most of us have encountered the edited version far more often than the real thing. The full text of Amendment IX is “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” That last bit, “or to the people,” keeps getting dropped. Also notice that the amendment doesn’t use the word “explicitly” the way our Canadian friend does. Such a word would dramatically change the meaning of the amendment, because it would be a blow to the implied powers the federal government assumes under the “elastic clause” — the passage that says the federal government can make laws “necessary and proper” to the carrying out of its assigned powers. For instance, there’s nothing in the constitution that explicitly says the federal government can build roads, but it is supposed to deliver mail and defend the country, so building roads, supporting railroads, etc. becomes “necessary and proper” for soldiers and postmen to travel.

  436. Really, bigotry is worse. No need to brand people traitors.

    Greg: I appreciate that enabling and privilege-owning are pretty touchy subjects. But I’d appreciate it if you didn’t even indirectly attribute that kind of language to me.

    But I sincerely believe that bigotry – like any other form of bullying – is just that much stronger when it’s never challenged. I’ve got to fully own my own male bullshit on that score: I’ve done a hell of a lot of passive-enabling of sexist (and downright misogynistic) b.s. while in the company of other men. And I’m profoundly grateful for my circle of strong, assertive women who aren’t shy about telling me when I need to put my big swinging dick away. :)

    And, yes, Greg – I’m profoundly aware that as a gay man in New Zealand I live in a country where male homosexuality stopped being a crime in 1986; I can’t lose my job (in a pretty GLBT-friendly industry, BTW) or get thrown out of my home because of my sexual orientation. We’ve got a long way to go for full marriage equality, but at least we have civil unions. Also, I know many gays, lesbians and bisexuals who’ve served openly and with distinction for years in my country’s armed forces, civil service, legislature and law enforcement. The sky has not fallen.

    And, personally, I know full-well that there are too many GLBT folks in this world for whom keeping their closet doors firmly shut is almost literally a matter of life and death. I’m in a place where I don’t give a rodent’s rectum about people like Cameron – and it wasn’t easy getting here. I don’t take it for granted. Ever. And I don’t patronise or insult people who face trails and threats on a daily basis I can’t even begin to imagine.

    But if I can’t use my position of comparative privilege to say – politely but firmly – that there’s no credible evidence that children of GLBT parents are more likely to be abused, or that it’s not OK to “joke” about raping a woman because you don’t agree with her politics, or that it’s just wrong to demean someone just because of their ethnicity or religion…

    Well, whose job is it? When is anything in this world going to change for the better if we all say it’s someone else’s job to stand up and be counted?

  437. I have read and mostly this post and the comments. I would like to share an experience:
    I attended a Sunday church session with my sister. The “sermon” was concerning the “evils” of homosexuality. Not a good day for me. One of my children is gay. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. But wait,,,I will become less happy. As we were leaving the church, a woman that knows my family told me that I must have raised my son to be gay. Wow! I was speechless. Speechlessness is NOT a natural state for me. A friend overheard this and commented, “Mel, how did you manage to raise only one of your sons as gay?”
    Being a decade older, I would hope that would avoid that unnatural state today.

    Love the post. Keep it up since this world needs more sanity!

  438. @ Craig Ranapia

    Well, whose job is it? When is anything in this world going to change for the better if we all say it’s someone else’s job to stand up and be counted?

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke (apocryphal)

    However, someone who stands by and does nothing while someone else is murdered is not worse than the murderer, IMO. They’re a coward if they were in any position to help, most especially if they were in a relatively secure position to help. Of course, your values may differ from mine, but my moral compass places a greater responsibility on the transgressor than the coward.

    @ Melodee

    As we were leaving the church, a woman that knows my family told me that I must have raised my son to be gay. Wow! I was speechless. Speechlessness is NOT a natural state for me. A friend overheard this and commented, “Mel, how did you manage to raise only one of your sons as gay?”

    How swiftly some “Christians” are to assume the mantle of the Angel of Vengeance to demonstrate their piety. How brave of them to be the first to turn their wrath on their fellow man in solidarity with fascists. I’d say it calls for a song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV2EUUF47Ms

  439. “Eve stands for equal rights. She hears Charlie spew his bigotry and Eve pulls no punches. She confronts every statement that Charlie makes about gays and shows how ignorant, uninformed, fear mongering, dogmatic, and unscientific Charlie’s statements are. Eve shows Charlie to be wrong on every single point.

    Our half-confirmed bigot, Henry, watches all this and decides that even though he was never “certain” that Charlie was absolutely correct, Henry decides that Eve is absolutely wrong because Eve was mean in Henry’s eyes and Charlie was polite about his bigotry.

    Ignore the sheer ludicrousness that Henry has to be thinking here for a moment and lets just continue on…”

    Let’s not ignore it, because it’s not ludicrous. A lot of people have half formed and unexaminded opinions that could, in fact, go either way. But if you come across as agressive towards something they agree with, they WILL, more often than not, entrench their position.

    If confronted about it in a different way, Henry might think about it. That you are arguing that this is ludicrious seems odd, since it’s reasonable common.

  440. However, someone who stands by and does nothing while someone else is murdered is not worse than the murderer, IMO.

    No, and on reflection I should have been a lot more careful with my own choice of words there.

    But let’s walk that analogy out a little further. I knew a woman who was put in a coma by her husband – who’d been physically, psychologically and sexually abusing her for years. And why wouldn’t he? He’d spent his entire life in a family where giving an uppity bitch a slap if simple intimidation didn’t do the job was the unquestioned norm. He just took it too far, as his repulsive enabler of a mother put it.

    You don’t have to be a direct perpetrator to be complicit with an abusive culture. That can be really hard to hear – and I can rationalize my own “cowardice” in the face of a deeply intimidating man all I like, but I also believe the woman whom he almost killed when she said that I helped make her feel that if she walked out on him nobody would believe let alone protect her. Emotionally and even physically isolating their victims from friends and family is a big part of the abuser’s m.o., and sometimes just saying something as simple as “how are you, really?” can make a real difference.

    And how many self-harming GLBT young people are there out there for whom someone – anyone – calling bullshit on folks like Mr. Cameron, however sotto voice, could have been a lifesaver? That’s a question we can never answer in this life, but it’s worth asking. Sure, you don’t have to go full nuclear every damn time, but politely asking for a citation when someone blithely asserts that teh gayz are bringing about the end of days might matter more than you know. I totally agree with Kat: If people can’t educate themselves out of bigotry (be it homophobia, sexism, racism or whatever), the human race is screwed. But that doesn’t happen by magic; and sometimes a frank self-examination is a painful but necessary part of the process.

  441. @ Craig Ranapia

    I don’t disagree with you. There have been occasions in my life when I was a coward, and occasions when I wasn’t (not counting the internet where courage has little to no cost). When I stood up for what I believed, I got to keep my self-respect and I learned that, in the balance, courage cost less when you have to live with yourself.

  442. As rants go, the above post was at least an eloquent one. Nevertheless, I’m forced into the awkward position of defending an actor whose views I don’t share, being that I am an atheist and a supporter of gay marriage. 

    Call me crazy, naive, or an “asshole” if you like, but I fail to see how ad hominem attacks are an appropriate response to a viewpoint you disagree with. Granted, there is a time and a place to be a prick, but Cameron’s sincere expression of his religious and moral beliefs is hardly an example of such an occasion. 

    Insulting and attempting to shout down a person whose views you disagree with is, by definition, a form of intolerance. If Cameron had launched into an angry, expletive laced rant about gays then I’d say to hell with the guy. But he didn’t. He expressed a common view held by many folks. 

    A civil discussion of these issues is possible, and often productive. One of my closest friends is gay, another is a deeply religious man who believes the homosexual lifestyle is wrong. The three of us socialize every day and have had some good conversations about gay rights. We have yet to  resort to insults like “asshole,” “shithead,” or my personal favorite, for those really tough social situations, “fuck face.” 

    The bottom-line isn’t that we should all sit around a campfire and sing Kumbay. Mr. Scalzi is right to note that no one is entitled to respect when they step into the public square to make their voice heard on an issue, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were shown respect as a matter of courtesy?

    Thanks for the discussion.

  443. @Eddington Oh, for fuck’s sake. No, it wouldn’t be nice if intolerant bigots were shown respect as a matter of courtesy. It would be actively helping out their bigotry.

  444. @Dave. I agree with you to a point. There is somehing to be said for challenging other people’s views and labeling a jack ass a jack ass when necessary. That said, don’t think it is a sign of unforgivable bigotry for a person to morally object to homosexuality, although I personally don’t see the moral dimension of a willing penis going into a willing butt. I don’t like it when advocates of the penis butt=bad view try to use the coercive power of government to enforce their views on the rest of the world, but then again conservatives and liberals do that all the time. 

    In my experience, the much maligned Christian conservative has something meaningful to say about many of the issues our country faces. They aren’t crazy modern analogues to the Nazis.  But even if you disagree with me on that point, there is something to be said for not blasting the millions of Americans who still regard marriage as a male/female union geared toward procreation.  Anyway, take care.

  445. Eddington:

    “A civil discussion of these issues is possible, and often productive.”

    I see. And you’ve not followed the discussion here for the last, oh five hundred and sixty some comments? Because, oddly enough, there’s been a pretty civil discussion here, incorporating dozens of people with all sorts of views.

    Leaving that aside, the fact that Kirk Cameron blathered forth his ignorance and bigotry in non-shouty tones does not mean that they are somehow more worthy of respect than if he bellowed them out through foam-flecked lips. I’m aware Cameron believes he’s being perfectly reasonable when he’s calling homosexuality unnatural, etc. However, he’s not, and I don’t see the value in pretending he is.

    Beyond that, even if one agrees there is some value in treating Mr. Cameron’s beef-witted proclamations with respect, a) it does not follow that there is not also value, albeit of a different sort, in pointing out immense cranial-rectal majesty of Cameron’s pronouncements, b) why I should be required to to the former when I’d much rather do the latter.

    Which is to say, no, I don’t really think there’s much value in showing Cameron any amount of respect for his bigoted and ignorant opinion aside from offering him the most fundamental respect: the recognition of his right to offer it. Otherwise, my response here should make clear how much respect I believe his opinion deserves.

  446. One of my closest friends is gay, another is a deeply religious man who believes the homosexual lifestyle is wrong. The three of us socialize every day and have had some good conversations about gay rights.

    Isn’t it amazing how many people who insist they have Srs Gay Buddies, are still in the sixth-grade mindset that “gay” and “icky buttsex EW” are the same thing? One wonders what these meaningful, civil discussions of “gay rights” are about, given that at least one of the participants is hearing nothing other than “blah blah PENIS blah blah BUTT blah blah” the entire time.

    @Gulliver: the question isn’t all that scientifically fascinating when it’s rooted in fundamental errors, such as assuming that the current cultural construct of sexual orientation to describe a person’s entire sexuality (desire, activity, preference, possible range) must have some kind of clear biological analogue. A hundred years ago we talked about “sexual inverts”. Now we have a cultural myth that everybody is either 100% straight, 100% gay, is a girl who makes out with other girls when she gets drunk, or is David Bowie. I think science can do better.

  447. @Dave

    Eddy.

    a willing penis going into a willing butt. I don’t like it when advocates of the penis butt=bad view

    Wow. You’re not really having the conversation you think you’re having.