Archive | September, 2011

Bigot of the Week Award: September 30, Justice Antonin Scalia

30 Sep

Bigot of the Week

As usual there were an embarrassing number of candidates that could have earned the dishonorable BWA.  The recent speech delivered to Catholic Duquesne University School of Law by the long-standing homophobic bigot Justice Scalia of the Fecal Five earns him this week’s BWA.

Scalia’s speech served to promote a long-standing tradition of homophobic bigotry that he feels should be protected in religious schools:

Our educational establishment these days, while so tolerant of and even insistent upon diversity in all other aspects of life seems bent on eliminating diversity of moral judgment — particularly moral judgment based on religious views… I hope this place will not yield — as some Catholic institutions have — to this politically correct insistence upon suppression of moral judgment, to this distorted view of what diversity in America means.

“Distorted view of what diversity in America means,”  wow!  Talk about an arrogant, rich, white, heterosexual (?) man speaking from great privilege; how on earth did this man get to  be a Supreme Court Justice? Aside from not understanding the definition of diversity, he clearly has no idea of what the definition of Judge is.  Memo to Justice Ginsberg, can you please let Scalia read your copy of the job description for a Supreme Court Justice?   Click here to see the full article. I continue to be amazed at how obsessed Scalia is with gays.

I have to also give a dishonorable mention to Southwest Airlines for their forcing a lesbian couple off the aircraft and proving to all of us there is a clear double standard for heterosexuals and those of us in the LGBT community.

South Worst

Hero of the Week: September 30, The Rodemeyer Family

30 Sep

Heroes of the Week

It takes great personal strength and courage of character to turn a family tragedy into an opportunity for speaking out. This weeks heroes did just that. When Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide on September 19 after enduring years of bullying for his sexual orientation, his family somehow managed to find time for their personal grief and to become outspoken advocates for the thousands of kids suffering bullying around our country.

Given Jamey’s own efforts to be a role model for LGBT youth, including recording an It Gets Better video, this is a wonderful way to honor his legacy. Traci and Tim Rodemeyer, Jamey’s parents, gave an exclusive interview to Ann Curry of NBC’s Today show, describing the circumstances of his life and death and the importance of stopping bullying. Their unflagging support of their son, even in the face of their personal tragedy, took great strength. Sadly, bullies at Jamey’s school didn’t stop after his death, but taunted his sister, Alyssa, at the homecoming dance. To her credit, Alyssa stood up and joined in the family’s message, inteviewing with Anderson Cooper.

I don’t know who would have the heart to disrespect someone even after they’re dead. It’s mindblowing.

This family’s sense of grief and loss is hard to imagine, yet somehow they have managed to honor their son with their words and actions. Taking a page from the Judy Shepard playbook, they demonstrate true courage and heroism.
Honorable mention, must, of course, go to our Laday Gaga, ever vigilant against bullying. She dedicated a concert to Jamey and took the opportunity of this tragedy to meet with President Obama about the tragic number of suicides that this plague of hostility has caused. Brava once again, Mother Monster.

Don’t Filter Me: Celebrating the Freedom to Search

29 Sep

As part of Banned Books Week, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has put together a program to raise awareness about Banned Websites. Although few websites engaging in legal acivity in the United States are literally banned , local practices in many school districts and public libraries effectively ban large segments of content. Wide-scale filtering of web content on library computers is a form of censorship and libraries must be careful to balance legal requirements with their mission to serve their communities.

Because access to Federal funding requires schools and libraries to adhere to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), many jurisdictions are confused about the level of filtering required. Students, teachers, and librarians are frustrated daily when they discover legitimate educational websites blocked by filtering software. Such filtering may also extend to the use of online social networking sites such as FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and Blogger.

Filtering websites does the next generation of digital citizens a disservice.  Students must develop skills to evaluate information from all types of sources in multiple formats, including the Internet. Relying solely on filters does not teach young citizens how to be savvy searchers or how to evaluate the accuracy of information. In order to make school more relevant to students and enhance their learning experiences, educators also need to be able to incorporate the social tools that students use every day into their coursework. Excessive filtering makes this impossible. For a great overview of how libraries can meet the requirements of CIPA and still serve their communitites, read the AASL publication Minors’ First Amendment Rights.

Another unfortunate side effect of aggressive filtering is the isolation of LGBTQ students. Online connections and information allow students to get quality information and helpful resources to understand their emerging sexual identities, regardless of orientation or geography. Many filters arbitrarily block LGBT content, even when it is not remotely sexual in nature. This is a distinct disservice to an already disenfranchised population. The ACLU has mounted the Don’t Filter Me project to help deal with this problem.

The Internet, like the world it connects, can be a scary, sometimes dangerous place. Artificially cordoning off vast swaths of its content “just in case” is not a good strategy, however. Narrowly defined filters (blocking obvious pornography, for example) together with effective instruction  and active student engagement is a much better approach. Let’s remember to help the next generation learn to be a part of their world, not hide it from them.

Homosexuality Does Not Exist: Really?

29 Sep

Obvious that Harvey does not know any gay folk.

Thanks to my friend Jen Carey for inspiring me to write this article. Apparently I do not exist, according to Linda Harvey, the founder of the right wing hate group, Mission America.  I have lost a few pounds from riding my bike. Perhaps I’ve lost too much weight and have now become invisible? Yes, over 35 million people do not exist in the United States.  Candidly, I wonder how do people like Harvey start organizations like Mission America and how do they get followers?

According to Harvey:

There’s one big fact that’s not backed up. There is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen or human. One of the other things you’re gonna see as I mentioned is a big campaign GLSEN’s gonna roll out this year calling for ‘respect,’ respect! Not just for people, but for homosexual lifestyle. The PR campaign to hold up gay as a good thing: the lifestyle, not the person, because there are no such humans.

Wow!  You know it takes a lot to make Michele Bachmann look sane, but I do believe our Harvey has managed to do so.

One wonders if our Harvey lives in a cave, in a tree, on a deserted island? I’m happy to introduce myself, so that Harvey can meet an actual living North American homosexual in my native habitat. I would be able to laugh this off, save that she has a significant following with her organization of hate.  I feel sorry for those that live in Columbus, Ohio and for the state in which I was born, for Mission America and John Bohener have permanently marred the state–that’s just a dirt that won’t come clean!  Judging from her makeup and hair style, I will admit she probably does not know any gay folk because we would not allow her in public with that hair.  Hmm, Michele Bachmann’s hair has been looking good lately, so I wonder who does her hair?  Perhaps her husband, Marcus?

Wednesday Word of the Week, September 28: Polls

28 Sep

This weeks's favorite flavor of tea.

This week’s word is: POLL

the process of asking a number of people their opinions about something, especially a political issue

In an already interminable season of Republican campaigning, this weekend saw a surprising upset in what was considered a very important poll. The Florida Presidency V straw poll, which Florida Criminal-in-Chief, I mean Governor, Rick Scott said “would determine the next President of the United States” was won by Herman Cain.

That’s right, out of all the candidates, relatively obscure former pizza magnate Herman Cain won the poll with 37%, more than second place finisher Rick Perry (15%) and number three Mitt Romney (14%) put together. This shocking event occurred in the wake of Perry’s bumbling performances in the past few Republican debates.

Curiously, Michele Bachmann, who won the Ames straw poll a few weeks ago, finished dead last of the eight candidates, behind even Jon Huntsman. Her star has certainly fallen since Perry’s dramatic official entry into the race, but the disconnect between the two polls is quite startling.

Let’s recap the facts, shall we?

  • Perry still wins national polls about a preferred Republican nominee by a small but comfortable margin.
  • Perry has yet to be ranked a winner of any of the debates and becomes very petty and petulant as they proceed.
  • Romney comes out ahead of the Republican pack in most hypothetical match-ups against President Obama.
  • Bachmann won the Ames poll but has had very negative momentum since then.
  • Cain came from nowhere to win the Presidency V poll but has no real national standing; this could change, of course, as his name recognition skyrockets.
  • Santorum, Gingrich, and Huntsman hardly seem to matter at this point, but can perhaps take heart from Cain’s sudden success.
  • Ron Paul remains an anomaly, polling in the lower reaches but with a strong core of support who seem to trend toward “none of the above” if he’s taken out of the mix.

It’s hard to draw any strong conclusions from this, but one thing is clear: every Republican candidate is flawed and vulnerable and there is no real consensus in the party. The most likely voters want a Teamonster like Perry, but less dogmatic conservatives want someone (reasonably) articulate like Romney or Cain.

It’s early days still, despite the 437 debates the Republicans have held. Early in the 2004 campaign it was clear that the Democratic nomination was Howard Dean’s to lose, which, with the help of a hostile and shallow media, he did. In 2008, nobody thought McCain stood a chance of gaining the nomination, which he did long before the Democratic contest was settled.

In the end, there will be a Republican candidate, and none of the eight clowns in the contest will be good for America. Let’s hope they can bloody each other enough that the victor’s vulnerabilities are clear. Let’s hope that President Obama can demonstrate some real leadership and make the final contest as clear cut as possible. After all, he needs to win at the polls that really matter:

the place where people vote.

Definitions taken from Macmillan Dictionary Online

Celebrating Ann Wager and Prudence Crandall

27 Sep

Prudence Crandall

Today is a very wonderful day in history that I feel needs to be celebrated. Ann Wager was the Founding Head of School “Mistress” of  the Bray School in Williamsburg, VA.  The Bray School was created “for the Instruction of Negro Children in the Principles of the Christian Religion.”  Wager opened the school on September 27, 1760, before the United States existed and before the Abolitionist Movement had a strong foundation.

During her 14 years at the Bray School, Wager taught over 30 enslaved and free black children.  Wager died in 1774, just two years before the colonies declared their independence from England.

I also have to tip my hat here to one of my heroes, Prudence Crandall.  Crandall was also a “Mistress” of a school that firmly believed in educating students regardless of race. Upon admitting 17-year-old African-American to her girls’ school, the white families pulled their daughters.  Crandall, a Quaker, was not deterred. She kept her school open and decided she would have a school exclusively for black girls.

Of course, America, not exactly known for our progressive views, imprisoned Crandall in July of 1883, after the state of Connecticut instated  “The Black Law” prohibiting black students from going to school, without a town or state’s permission. Let’s hear it for women like Wager and Crandall who did the right thing regardless of the personal risk. I am honored to have as a friend, Patty Crone, who continues to fight for racial equality and civil rights in education. We need more champions like this today.

Progress for Transgender Youth

26 Sep

Yesterday, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) released its 7th Edition Standards of Care.  While there are so many fascinating and encouraging pieces of information, what I found particularly interesting and hopeful was the inclusion of expanded guidelines for care of transgender children and adolescents.

Chapter VI (pgs. 10-21) cover the Standards of Care for children and adolescents. This section represents a significant expansion of the guidelines specifically directed at providing competent and supportive care to transgender children and youth.  As soon as I read the full report, I hope to have a better idea of how hopeful we all can be as we try to care for and support our transgender youth.

Click here to see the full report. If you know of a family or of any youth that are in need of support and resources, please contact TransActive. My hope is that with more studies and more information the LGBT community will do better in supporting all of our transgender brothers and sisters.

Good Morning President Perry (A Not So Fairy Tale)

25 Sep

Pacifica: The Lavender Scare

This short story (fiction) I have started is my creative attempt at participating in Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. It is still a work in progress. I hope to have a new installment weekly. Please do let me know what you think. Copyright 2011, Michael Hulshof-Schmidt.  Feel free to share with attribution.

The morning after the 2012 Presidential Inauguration in the Oval Office

 President Rick Perry: Well, we did it, Michele. We showed them sons of bitches the law of the land and the path to righteousness.

Michele Bachmann: Mr. President, what are we going to do about the gay issue? We have to keep to our campaign promises.

Perry: You are the god damn Vice-President, Michele. What the hell do you want to do?

Chief of Staff: Um, Mr. President, I would suggest to both you and Madame Vice-President that you immediately re-instate Executive Order 10450 as well as find a way to overturn Lawrence v. Texas.  

Perry: By God, Rove, you are brilliant! This is why I have you as my Chief of Staff. But don’t think I don’t know all the god damn bullshit you said about me before the election. Let’s face it, Rove, we are both doing God’s work.

Karl Rove: Yes, well, at any rate Mr. President I would call Justice Scalia and see what he can do to help overturn Lawrence v. Texas.  

 Some days later at an undiclosed location

 Justice Scalia: Paul, Tony here.  I know you are starting your own firm since leaving King and Spalding.  How would like to land some government contracts?

Paul Clement: What do you have in mind?  Boehner still owes me $350,000 for billable hours just defending DOMA.

Scalia: I need you to figure out a way for us to overturn Lawrence v. Texas.  Dig up a case, or do what you need to do to bring this to the Supreme Court.

Clement: It will be tricky, but I think I can do it. After all, these evil decisions that voided all the sodomy laws have violated the religious freedoms of the Christian community. I think I have a very dear friend in Colorado who could get legal standing to petition a case.

Scalia (rubbing his paws together): Excellent…

The wheels of injustice turn quickly when greased with corruption and shared bigotry.

October 11, 2012: The New York Times runs the headline Supreme Court Overturns Lawrence v. Texas: 5 to 4.  Photos show an exultant Justice Scalia brandishing his majority opinion standing next to a frail James Dobson, weeping with joy.

October 31, 2012: White House Press Secretary Rick Santorum, frothing at the mouth, holds a press conference announcing the redrafting of Executive Order 10450.

Michael on the phone with his brother Brad: Did you see the NYT article about Lawrence v. Texas?  Is the American public really so stupid that they don’t know heterosexuals violate the sodomy laws all the time?  Brad, you need to get out of Georgia. Do you want to stay with us?

Brad: Michael it is happening all over the country.  Why would I be any safer in Oregon?

Michael: Brad its not just Lawrence v. Texas, Perry is reinstating 10450 and there is talk about having all Americans sign something called a LoyalTea Pledge to prove their patriotism.

Michael to his husband:  Brad just told me he was fired from his job with the state of Georgia for “unpatriotic behavior” under 10450.  He is refusing to sign the LoyalTea Pledge.  Shawn said he and Todd are moving back to California, but who knows how quickly all of the states will start to enforce 10450 and require us to sign the LoyalTea Pledge.

By November 15, all of the Southern States, Ohio, Missouri, South Dakota, and Kansas had agreed to enforce the LoyalTea contract. In a very back door way, LePage got Maine to also enforce the LoyalTea contract.  The Great Exodus of the LGBT community had now officially started.  What happens now to the over 35 million LGBT people? November 15, also marked the day when the states that quickly adopted the LoyalTea contract for America managed to overturn Roe v. Wade without exception. The country is experiencing a 21st century Manifest Destiny.  Rumors are flying that Governors Brown, Kitzhaber, and Gregoire are meeting to talk about secession and forming a new country called Pacifica.

Free Your Mind: Read a Banned Book!

24 Sep

Every year the American Library Association (ALA) sponsors Banned Books Week to celebrate the freedom to read. Starting today, September 24, through October 1, 2011, TSM encourages everyone to take the time to celebrate and appreciate the freedom of information and expression inherent in our national principles.

Sadly, many people wish to impose their views or values on others and restrict access to information they feel is dangerous for a variety of reasons. Some of these people are well-intentioned, but many set out to block views with which they disagree.

Typical targets for challenges are:

  • Sexual content, especially materials dealing with homosexuality
  • Content perceived as conflicting with religious or moral values
  • Age-appropriateness of materials
  • Portrayals of witchcraft or devil worship
  • Materials perceived as subversive or unpatriotic

ALA compiles a list of the most-challenged books each year which it releases in April during National Library Week. The 2010 top ten includes books in most of these categories and, as usual, is heavy on materials for children and teens. Champion challenge lists have been compiled for each of the past two decades as well; the 2000 – 2009 list was led (by a wide margin) by the Harry Potter series, proving that popularity is no insulation from the clutches of ignorance.

In libraries, there is an important distinction between a book being challenged and being banned. Anyone who uses the library may question the inclusion of material in its collection. Good libraries have strong policies that describe what they collect and how they provide access to it. When a challenge is placed, the library (or its board or other leadership in some cases) can decide to reject the challenge, place restrictions on the material (such as moving a book from the children’s area to the adult area), or get rid of it altogether. A banned book is one that has been removed. Libraries report hundreds of challenges to their collections each year. Since reporting is voluntary, it is safe to assume that there are many more challenges that occur.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if we did not have Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

See what all the fuss is about! Take the time to read a banned book this week. Whether you find something challenging that makes you think or experience a great read and wonder what the controversy was, you’ll be glad you did.

(As an added bonus, McGill University has compiled this list of banned books, all of which include links to lists of local libraries so you can borrow and read them!)

Thank you, Facebook.

23 Sep

Dear Facebook,

I just wanted to write to say thank you for doing my thinking for me. I really appreciate you taking control of what news I’m able to see, what friends I should be in touch with, and only allowing me to see what you deem appropriate for me. I know that as a 44-year-old man, I’m not really capable of making these decisions for myself.  I need the Facebook to determine what I am able to see and process; just as women really can’t be trusted to make decisions regarding their own health and reproductive rights.  How long before Facebook will determine civil rights I wonder? Will Facebook and Google merge and the world will finally be the incarnation of Orwell’s 1984?

Thank you also for determining what is important enough to reach my email now. Surely, I can’t be trusted to filter through my own email.  I’m just glad the pictures are bigger–I hate having to read.  I’m certain the pictures are enough, just as I am sure that everything on the Internet is true and that Republicans care about the poor and disenfranchised.   I also heard about a Gay Agenda, so that must be true.  Thank goodness for those trustworthy GOP Presidential candidates making sure the poor, black, aging, LGBT communities will not be treated equally.  Alas, I don’t have to worry about anyone reading this on Facebook, because I’m sure they will determine it is not suitable to be read on their newsfeed–let’s face it, I don’t have any lovely photos to share with this article.

Thanks again, Facebook, or shall I just call you Uncle Joe?

%d bloggers like this: