Tag Archives: character

Brown and Scalia: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

3 Oct

You can judge a man by the character of his heroes

Oops! There goes Sen. Scott Brown (R – MA) again. The tea partier in moderate sheepskin made a rare statewide win for a Republican and grabbed the Senate seat vacated by the death of the legendary Ted Kennedy. He campaigned on a middle-of-the-road, everyday guy image (Joe the Plumber) and continues to try to present himself as an independent and a moderate. (An independent who votes with his party 81% of the time while representing a progressive state, imagine that!)

Based on another Republican who won statewide office in Massachusetts >cough< Romney >cough< I am forced to conclude that there is something special in the tea there. Those words, Sen. Brown, don’t mean what you think they do. As his opponent, the marvelous Elizabeth Warren, begins to poll stronger and stronger against Brown, his smug veneer cracks and the odious reality emerges.

Sometimes it’s the little things, even a short answer to a simple question. In Monday’s debate, moderator David Gregory asked each candidate, “Who is your model Supreme Court Justice?” Brown’s first instinct? Justice Antonin Scalia. He quickly pulled a Palin, randomly naming other justices (including Scalia’s polar opposite, Justice Sonia Sotomayor) and claiming that an independent doesn’t have to have a favorite. But you do, Scott, you do, and you picked the nastiest creature to lurk on that bench in at least a century.

Regular TSM readers are familiar with his ethical challenges and inappropriate behavior, but here are a few greatest hits.

  • He provided a scathing rebuttal to the Court’s rejection of Arizona’s blatantly racist immigration law (one of five Bigot of the Week Awards he has won or shared!).
  • He supported the majority in the Lily Ledbetter case, effectively blaming the victim and demonstrating his persistent misogyny.
  • On which note, he consistently champions the war on women, including this lovely statement in a dissent in a Planned Parenthood case: “The issue is whether the right to choose is a liberty protected by the Constitution of the United States. I am sure it is not.”
  • Scalia’s bitter dissents in a handful of gay rights show the depth of his homophobia. As another famous Massachusetts lawmaker, Rep. Barney Frank, observed, “I wouldn’t want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court.”
  • He was the architect of the Bush v. Gore decision that violated his supposedly sacred Constitution. In the years since, when questioned about the decision, he has said “So there!” and “Get over it.” My he is charm free!

I find myself channeling Doralee Rhodes from 9 to 5… “I never thought I’d say this about another human being but you are evil, Justice Scalia, downright evil!”  And yet this is who Scott Brown admires — this is the kind of Justice he would support if returned to the Senate. Scott Brown has proved that he’s a racist, sexist, opportunistic pig. Now we know he venerates them too.  As the true Brown emerges from the rank and mire (I am picturing Goldman’s Fire Swamp from The Princess Bride, with Brown starring as one of the ROUS), it is clear that Massachusetts must rely on the integrity and authenticity of Elizabeth Warren for the benefit of the entire country.

Hero of the Week Award: August 10, Rep. Nanci Pelosi

10 Aug

Hero of the Week

It’s a real pleasure to celebrate this week’s Hero, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – CA). Always outspoken and clearly interested in making America work for all its citizens, she’s been boldly visible this week on many fronts. Demonstrating clear reasoning, she supported Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s recent remarks about Mitt Romney’s refusal to share his tax returns. She delivered a brief, precise analysis of Reid’s statement that one of Romney’s former Bain colleagues claimed the GOP hopeful paid no taxes for at least a portion of the past ten years:

[That statement] is a fact. Whether he did or not can easily be disposed of: Mitt Romney can release his tax returns and show whether he paid taxes.

Equally and delightfully accurate and succinct, Pelosi has also weighed in on the disastrous House Republican tax plan:

I don’t know what’s trickling down but it hasn’t been pleasant.

She also skewered the Republican budget plan, noting that the massive reduction in health and environmental regulations required by their slashing effectively makes the bill’s supporters “The E. Coli club.”

Topping it all off, she took the Dept. of Homeland Security to task, noting that recent statements in support of bi-national same-sex married couples are still just lip service which has lasted more than a year.

It’s a welcome development that a DHS spokesperson is explicitly and publicly acknowledging that DHS’s consideration of family ties includes same-sex couples and spouses. We look forward to the written guidance that we expect would be a logical next step.

Demonstrating courage and real leadership, Rep. Pelosi reminds us why she was one of our nation’s best Speakers of the House and shows a clear contrast to the cowardice and fringe-pleasing orange abomination who currently wields that gavel.

Bigot of the Week Award: July 20, Boy Scouts of America

20 Jul

Bigot of the Week

Thank you to my friend and LGBT ally Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this article. This week the Boy Scouts of American burrowed all the way back to the 1950s to embrace a false America and ignore the rights of an entire segment of the U.S. population. The organization, aptly founded in the waning of the Victorian Era, opted to maintain their restriction against LGBT Scouts and Scout leaders. The Scouts’ national spokesman, Deron (I’m afraid of the gays) Smith, told The Associated Press that an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy “is absolutely the best policy.” REALLY? Best for whom?

The decision was unanimous and was announced by the group’s media wing. It cited parent concerns and tradition as key factors in upholding bias.

The committee included a diversity of perspectives and opinions. The review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations – both from within Scouting and from outside the organization. The committee’s work and conclusion is that this policy reflects the beliefs and perspectives of the BSA’s members, thereby allowing Scouting to remain focused on its mission and the work it is doing to serve more youth.

I don’t think the Scouts know what most of those words mean. Diversity? Candid? Research? Service? If having a hate-the-gays tea with Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher fits those words, maybe. How else could they have come to such an odious conclusion a decade into the 21st Century? The review was shrouded in secrecy. None of the panelists were named publicly, the meetings were secret, and the process was never disclosed. The lack of transparency reinforces the image of a secretive group uninterested in the nation which it hypothetically serves. For a group that purports to create tomorrow’s leaders, hiding behind “beliefs and perspectives of … members” is cowardly at best. Exactly what type of leaders are they hoping to foster?

Some adult Scouts had put pressure on leadership. Eagle Scout and journalist Naka Nathaniel renounced his rank in a public statement last month. Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the Iowa college student with two lesbian mothers who famously testified for marriage equality, collected tens of thousands of signatures in support of a policy change. He delivered them to the Scouts’ annual meeting to no avail.

Given the improvements for LGBT rights in the past decade, many were hopeful that the Scouts would recognize their error. Protections against sexual orientation discrimination have increased significantly. Marriage equality exists in six states and the District of Columbia; many more have civil union laws. President Obama’s recent support of marriage equality has helped shift the national conversation, and recent polls show all-time high support for gay rights across the country. While the Scouts re-endorsed discrimination, the Episcopal Church adopted a liturgy for same-sex unions and approved ordination of transgender priests. Overall support for transgender rights has increased, and the fully inclusive Girl Scouts accept lesbian and transgender members and leaders.  Even the founding branch of the Boy Scouts, Britain’s Scout Association, refuses to discriminate on sexual orientation. The Scouts have turned a deaf ear and a bigoted blind eye to the conversation.

More importantly, the Boy Scouts have sent a dangerous message to America’s youth. By maintaining the ban they reinforce two horrific stereotypes: that gay kids are somehow of lesser value and that LGBT adults are somehow worse stewards of youth. Study upon study shows that the sexual orientation of an adult is not a factor in abuse of children — just ask Penn State or the Catholic Church. More significantly, in the wake of the worst year for LGBT-based bullying (and consequent suicides) on record, the Scouts have told bullies that they are justified and kids who differ from “acceptable” norms that they deserve what they get. The Scouting oath includes

To help other people at all times

It’s a shame the Boy Scouts of America have chosen to return to their Victorian roots rather than live up to their principles. Is there a merit badge for hypocrisy?

Mitt Romney: Once A Bully…

17 May

Mitt’s true colors

I need to thank my friend and social justice advocate Eva Hoffman for inspiring me to write this article. Now that Romneybot 2012 has all but sewn up the Republican presidential nomination, he seems determined to burnish his credentials as a right-wing horror. Not content with being a misogynist, classist, lying, racist homophobe, he’s adding bully to his resume. Recent revelations of his behavior toward other students while in high school have raised further questions about Romney’s character.

As detailed in this report, Romney was the leader of a pack of popular students at the Cranbook School. When John Lauber, a quiet new student rumored to be gay, showed up with a bleached streak in his hair hanging over one eye, Romney was incensed. While his minions pinned Lauber to the ground, Romney cut off the offending lock with a pair of scissors. When this story surfaced, Romney engaged in his trademark waffling, saying he couldn’t remember and then offering a non-pology. What a shocker.

Let me be clear: someone’s behavior as a youth is not necessarily a reflection of who they are, nor is one incident a good way to define a person. I wouldn’t want every detail of my high school years to be used as a gauge of who I am today. When it helps clarify a lifetime of behavior, however, it’s worth looking at.

Let’s start with “I can’t remember” as a dodge. If Romney really can’t recall this incident it means that torturing another human being just doesn’t stand out in his mind. Yeah, that’s just who we want negotiating with Iran.You can bet John Lauber remembers that day.

Dodgy memory aside, any decent human being would say, “That’s awful! No-one should be treated that way.” Not Romney. And when his classmates were asked about the incident, they were either silent or used phrases like “real Lord of the Flies stuff” to describe they youthful Mitt. The Romney camp, trying to put a spin on the incident uses the word “hijinks” as a deflector. It’s pretty hard to reconcile those concepts.

And that’s the crux of it. Romney is disconnected from common decency. It’s easy to poke fun at his stilted speech and awkward manner. (Even if his wife says he’s a real cut-up…) Some of his behavior is so bizarre that it seems comical in a macabre way (just ask the family dog). But on any scale, from mocking the cookies supplied by campaign volunteers to signing a pledge to aggressively crush the rights of the gay community, Romney is fundamentally a bully.

Why be shocked? He made his Bain millions as a vulture capitalist: grabbing companies, running up debt, and bailing with his profits. He can’t offer a simple declarative sentence about Rush Limbaugh calling a grad student a whore on the air, deflecting lady stuff to his wife. As Governor, he tried to crush a commission tasked with LGBT rights. Every story that emerges paints a darker picture of a greedy sociopath only interested in his own advancement.

Romney’s lies and non-statements since he became a professional presidential candidate six years ago have made it hard to build a picture of the man based on his words. His deeds, on the other hand, speak volumes. And we can’t afford to have a president who is nothing more than a petty, selfish bully.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 30, Albus Dumbledore

30 Jun

June 30 is the last day of LGBTQ History Month and I wanted to celebrate someone that has had a significant impact in the area of social justice in the past decade.  The Sorcerer’s Stone was released exactly 14 years ago today.  Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Albus Dumbledore.  While he may be a fictional gay character, the impact he has had on an entire generation of youth regarding integrity, character, and social justice is profound.

While J.K. Rowling assumed that we all knew Dumbledore was gay, it was not until The Half-Blood Prince that we learn about Dumbledore’s love interest. In an article from the website The Leaky Cauldron and The Associated Press, Rowling said:

Calling any Harry Potter character gay would make wonderful strides in tolerance toward homosexuality…. By dubbing someone so respected, so talented and so kind, as someone who just happens to be also homosexual, she’s reinforcing the idea that a person’s gayness is not something of which they should be ashamed.

What I love about Dumbledore being gay is that his sexual orientation becomes immaterial, which I believe is the goal.  We should be appreciated for our character and how we repair the world, rather than judged by with whom we fall in love.  Unfortunately, we are not even close to the goal of sexual orientation being immaterial, thus we must be visible and out!

Consequently, I cannot underscore enough how important it is that as we read the Harry Potter series and watch the movies, we keep in the back of our minds that the Headmaster of Hogwarts, the kind, sensitive, wise, caretaker Dumbledore is gay.  I, for one, am celebrating that fact.  Of course, I have to leave off with one of my favorite quotes from Dumbledore:

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. [and this one] No, I was merely reading the Muggle magazines,” said Dumbledore. “I do love knitting patterns.

There are still many other voices that need to be recognized and celebrated within the LGBT community.  I hope you will continue to look to TSM as we search out and spotlight LGBTQ voices that work for social justice and I hope TSM inspires us all to become activists–to eradicate racism, misogyny, homophobia, and bigotry.

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