Noted social science expert Mark Regnerus recently warned people against the use of bad statistical data:
His colleagues responded: Read more…
I have a good-hearted friend, the sort of guy who will spend 30 minutes in your kitchen at the end of your dinner party washing your guests’ dishes just to make things easier on you the next day. He posted this on his Facebook page and I thought reading it might be a lovely way to start the weekend:
[Trigger warning for racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and homophobia.]
Everything we do as gay people is aggression. You know that, obviously. It was in the pamphlet, right?
Recently I stumbled across an articulate, horrifying, “traditionalist” Catholic blog called The Thinking Housewife, the sort of place where people worry a lot about white gentile oppression; where readers debate whether black women are significantly less attractive than white women or only slightly so; where it’s “an absolute deal breaker” if a white woman, no matter how attractive, has a black ex-boyfriend; where Francis‘ scaling back of papal ostentation is a moral crime; where a fella can toss out references to “Jew-mongers” without the PC police getting all up in his business.
What makes this blog so horrifying isn’t just the content, or the fact that it’s widely-read, but that it’s actually pretty well-written. My warm, comforting stereotype is that these must be ignorant fools who resort to ALL CAPS and crazy, Punctuation!!! but that’s not the case here at all.
In a recent post, Laura (the Thinker Herself) asks readers for advice on Charles’ social dilemma. As he describes it:
I don’t think we’re learning the right lesson from the uproar over Phil Robertson, A&E’s Duck Dynasty star and sex-with-minors advocate. The real lesson is this:
We know we’re right and we know we can show it. Let’s have the courage of that conviction.
I haven’t blogged much the past few months so I missed the initial furor, but on December 18 I did post this on Facebook:
One hundred and thirty-five comments later, I can say it’s my most controversial status update ever. It wasn’t deeply argued. It just focused on my gut reaction to A&E’s suspension of Robertson. When I looked deeper, I found two sources of my misgiving.
One is simply that I tend to sympathize with the person over the corporation. A&E is not a person (Citizens United notwithstanding), and I want to give our corporate overlords as little control over our lives as possible. I understand they can restrict my speech in the workplace and on the job, but I’d like to feel as though the rest of my life is the rest of my life. I’d hate to be called into my boss’s office and told, “You’ve written some pretty harsh things about opponents of same-sex marriage, so we’re letting you go.”
Of course, when it comes to Robertson, it’s easy to argue against this position. For instance, your advocacy of certain views outside the workplace might ruin your effectiveness on the job. I thought it was perfectly reasonable for Bank of America to tell viciously anti-gay Frank Turek, You can’t publish books and go on the radio maligning an entire segment of our workforce and then expect us to hire you to conduct trust-building exercises with them, for fuck’s sake! (Not a direct quote.)
Similarly, A&E might decide Robertson is too damaging to the show’s ratings or the network’s brand. In that case, people aren’t being fired for the content of their views, or for expressing them, but for making themselves bad at what they were hired to do. Also, given the presence of an A&E rep in the room during the interview, it’s easy to argue that Robertson was actually at work and not speaking on his own time. Ultimately, I’d be happier if A&E fired or suspended Robertson for business reasons than because he said something I detest.
But another factor is this: I don’t like attempts to silence people just because they say things that some find offensive. Read more…
I got my regular NOM money-beg email today and it contained this unintentionally hilarious line:
Well, yes, that’s absolutely true. The only time you have an opportunity to “regain ground” and “seize back the momentum” is when you’re losing.
Looked at from that angle, 2014 may be NOM’s opportunitiest year ever!
Thomas Peters, NOM’s communications director, shows us the limits of empathy.
Peters suffered a diving accident that left him with a fractured fifth vertebrae, a severe spinal cord injury, and doubtful prospects for recovery. Fortunately, it seems, he’s doing better than most with this kind of injury, though he still may never walk and has limited use of his upper body. Recently, on NOM’s website, he posted “Reflections on my Time Away.”
It’s a sad read, and not just because of his trauma. I had hoped for a moment that it might be inspirational. I thought of Republican Senator Mark Kirk, who had a stroke in January 2012. A year later he was able to climb the steps of the Capitol, and a few months after that he issued this statement:
Thomas Peters has experienced no such epiphany, which makes it bittersweet for a gay man like me to read his moving tribute to family:
That’s hard to read, because even as you’re thinking, Exactly, exactly!, you also know Peters is still determined to deny you the right to marry, deprive you of the honor and and hope and inspiration that come with it:
Mark Kirk’s stroke left him with greater empathy and the courage to act on it. It didn’t merely deepen that empathy — it broadened it, too, extending it to a greater chunk of humanity than it had previously known. When the senator calls his stroke “a gift from God,” we can understand what he means, even as we’re daunted by the great price of that gift.
But not so for Peters. His empathy extends only to those who are like him. He sees his family and friends and supporters as people, but gays and lesbians are only abstractions. He can’t conceive of us as actual human beings gifted with marriages that we experience in just the same way that he does with his wife. If he did, he could never come back determined to destroy them.
For Mark Kirk, faith and tragedy gave him a light to see more of humanity. For Peters, a self-described “American Papist,” they led him into the legalism and strictures of his religion. They led him away from humanity.
What might it be like for Peters to follow Mark Kirk’s path? I see a clue in NOM’s blog posts. They refer to the Senator, but do not mention his stroke or the reasons for his change of heart. They simply call him a “GOP turncoat.” His actual life and experience are irrelevant. For them he’s defined simply by his betrayal of their doctrine.
This, I think, is what happens when doctrine overrides humanity, and here I find I butt up against the limits of my own empathy. I’ve never gone through a trauma as terrible as what Peters is dealing with now, and I can only struggle to imagine how it would feel. I don’t know how I would cope, what refuge I would take, what comforts I would seek. I suppose I can see why Peters would shy away from being labeled a turncoat by those he depends on the most.
Simply put, I can’t fault him for falling back on what he knows. All I can do, then, is congratulate him on what he’s accomplished so far, wish him strength in his battle ahead, and hope that recovery of the body is matched by growth in spirit and soul.