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December 9, 2004

Gerald Allen is stupider than dirt
Posted by Teresa at 04:29 PM * 140 comments

Gerald Allen isn’t just plain old everyday stupid. He’s blood-and-bone stupid. He’s stupider than dirt.

This is from today’s Guardian:
What should we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Color Purple? “Dig a hole,” Gerald Allen recommends, “and dump them in it.” Don’t laugh. Gerald Allen’s book-burying opinions are not a joke.

Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. “Oh no,” he laughs. “It’s my fifth meeting with Mr Bush.”

Bush is interested in Allen’s opinions because Allen is an elected Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush’s base. Last week, Bush’s base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that “promote homosexuality”. Allen does not want taxpayers’ money to support “positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle”. That’s why Tennessee Williams and Alice Walker have got to go.

I ask Allen what prompted this bill. Was one of his children exposed to something in school that he considered inappropriate? Did he see some flamingly gay book displayed prominently at the public library?

No, nothing like that. “It was election day,” he explains. Last month, “14 states passed referendums defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman”. Exit polls asked people what they considered the most important issue, and “moral values in this country” were “the top of the list”.

“Traditional family values are under attack,” Allen informs me. They’ve been under attack “for the last 40 years”. The enemy, this time, is not al-Qaida. The axis of evil is “Hollywood, the music industry”. We have an obligation to “save society from moral destruction”. We have to prevent liberal libarians and trendy teachers from “re-engineering society’s fabric in the minds of our children”. We have to “protect Alabamians”.
That man is dumber than two bags of hammers on a slow Thursday night. If a lifetime of constant exposure to positive depictions of heterosexuality doesn’t turn children straight, how is it that an occasional depiction of homosexuality is going to turn them gay?

You know what he’s really saying, don’t you? He’s saying that gay sex has straight sex beat all hollow, that’s what. It’s stronger, sharper, more pervasive and overwhelming. Sexier. Instantly attractive. Transcendently hot. All it takes is one hint that homosexuality is survivable, that it’s something engaged in by humans rather than demons, and right away kids are going to be abandoning the straight and missionary for a life as a queer.

It must make Gerald Allen feel kind of small and humble and inadequate to know that gay sex is so powerful, when he’s just a feeble little straight boy. No wonder he has to get out there and puff himself up by preaching the glory of homosexuality.

He’s no better than those people who pretend they’re hardcore Christians when they’re really preaching Satan Triumphant. I mean the ones who think that after years and years of weekly church services, with hymn-singing and Bible-reading, the least little exposure to some kind of encoded Satanic reference—seeing pictures of rainbows or Ganesha, or taking in the afternoon matinee of the latest Harry Potter movie, or hearing a rock song with muddled lyrics they can’t make out anyway—is tantamount to throwing open the door to Satan.

What they’re saying is that Satan is much more powerful than God, and that nobody who was even glancingly acquainted with Satanism would ever want to stick with Christianity. They might as well don the robes and start sacrificing goats, because they believe in the mighty power of Satan as much as any declared Satanist out there.

Gerald Allen’s like them, except what he believes in is the overwhelming superiority of homosexuality. Only he doesn’t even have the option of converting, the way Satan-worshipping Christians do, because he’s stuck being straight just as thoroughly as gays are stuck being gay.

Sucks to be him.

Comments on Gerald Allen is stupider than dirt:
#1 ::: Theresa ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:32 PM:

So true. So very, very true.

And it's sad that this "logic" is so pervasive in our society - and has been since the Puritan English colonies.. it's something, I fear, that isn't going to go away any time soon.

#2 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:37 PM:

And using other people's fear to control them.... Sometimes I despair.

#3 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:44 PM:

It doesn't necessarily mean that Satan is more powerful than God, it could just mean that fallen humans have a natural propensity to prefer his ways to His---that God allows us to choose Satan's ways, and that we're bound to choose incorrectly in the absence of sanctifying Grace.

I believe none of the above, but this is the formal system in which Allen is embedded, as are many others, as firmly as a Dantean traitor in ice.

This view of a corrupt humanity unable to make the right decision about anything is more corrosive to liberty than anything the "nanny state" has dished-out. It logically leads to a government for the People, of the Elect, and by the Elect...who, given as their subjects are doomed to the Fire anyway, probably don't worry too much about mistreating or neglecting them. For one thing, they object to anything that makes prison any less like Hell....

My only ray of hope in this wise lies in the fact that a lot of people only think they fully believe in all this---ask them whether they really believe that a bunch of nice-but-unsaved relatives and friends are in Hell now, and they tend to balk. As these leaders feel more and more confident about letting us know exactly what they think about us, more of us will not accept it. I hope, faute de mieux.

#4 ::: PinkDreamPoppies ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:45 PM:

As someone who grew up in a "Satan Triumphant" church, I think that the idea is less that one exposure to, say, a Harry Potter movie is going to turn you away from God so much as it is that one exposure to a Harry Potter movie will, perhaps, lead to another Harry Potter movie leading into an Anne Rice novel giving birth to an interest in vampires that causes an interest in the magic and the occult spiraling inevitably into paganism and a life of sin.

It's not that Satan will be triumphant having manifested a small part of himself in Harry Potter, Satan will triumph over the individual because people are weak and will easily cave to a small piece of Satan. Harry Potter won't throw open the gates of your soul to Satan, it will allow the smallest tip of the wedge of Satan into your soul. Harry Potter then is a gateway evil.

At least, that's the way it was presented to me while I was growing up.

#5 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:54 PM:

He's attacking gays because he sees us as an easy and satisfactory target: Because he figures (and for most Republicans, he's right) that kicking queers is as good as a vote-getting strategy can be.

There are plenty of Republicans who don't exactly agree with him 100 percent. But none of them see the fact that he has these opinions as any reason not to vote for him.

And there are plenty of Republicans who very strongly agree with him - and the more he says this, the more of them there will be. It's a win-win situation.

#6 ::: Jason Kuznicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:56 PM:

"You know what he’s really saying, don’t you? He’s saying that gay sex has straight sex beat all hollow, that’s what. It’s stronger, sharper, more pervasive and overwhelming. Sexier. Instantly attractive. Transcendently hot."

Pretty much how I feel too.

#7 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 05:59 PM:

I found out about this person a few days back, and was appalled beyond belief on a multitude of levels. I've already ranted at great length on my own journal about this issue, so I'll just say here that it saddens me greatly that the current legislative environment in this country is such that ideas such as this do not get shot down on sight. We're supposed to be better than that.

#8 ::: coln roald ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:07 PM:

Are two bags of hammers dumber than one bag of hammers? The proposition seems logically questionable.

#9 ::: Tom S ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:08 PM:

(Not entirely OT, and certainly parody -- unless a new organization named 'Cheese Star International' actually exists:)

WASHINGTON (Cheese Star International): Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced today that a new study claims comic strip and cartoon characters are "teaching dysfunctional behavior to American youth."

"The grand stage of comic and cartoon characters is also a dark place," Thompson told reporters, "Where children are exposed to behavior motivated by private delusions and hidden illnesses." Thompson said he believed "government has an obligation to protect our children by teaching them correct values."

The study, "Dysfunction and Social Commentary: The Value Of Absence", was conducted by the Center For The March of Freedom and Resurgence Of American Values, reviewing hundreds of cartoon strips, animated films, single-panel comics, comic books, and illustrated children's fiction.

According to the study, even some of the most popular childhood icons "provide children with teachings of behavior" that foster "a climate of disrespect, anger and dysfunction."

Among the study's observations:

>> Doonesbury, a comic strip authored by Garry Trudeau and a published for over thirty years: "Teaching cynicisim...the entire cast of characters operates as a dysfunctional family... divorce, open sexuality, homosexuality and drug use casually displayed as if they were normal behaviors..."

>> Donald Duck, the most recognizable Disney character after Mickey Mouse: "...consistently shows poor judgement and... appears cannot manage or appropriately control younger children (his 'Nephews') without displays of violent temper..."

>> Marlin The Clownfish from the Pixar/Disney film, Finding Nemo: "Shows children that actions against common sense are permitted... the ultimate message of a father urging his son to act in contradiction of established values and ideas of safety..."

>> Blondie, a classic comic character developed by Chic Young in the late 1920's: "...While [Blondie] does show proper deportment of an American wife and mother, she... frequently undercuts the primacy of her husband, Dagwood, who is the sanctioned leader of their family..."

>> Where The Wild Things Are, a children's classic written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak: "...under the guise of freedom from fear, children may discern the coded language and subtle beginnings of an indoctrination into a homosexual lifestyle..."

A separate category in the report dealt with political cartooning, including the work of artists such as Ted Rall (Generalissimo Bush), Dan Perkins (This Modern World), Berke Breathed (Outland), Ted Neely ("Brother, Can You Spare A Job", an animated cartoon shown through, Alison Bechdel (Dykes To Watch Out For), Mark Fiore, Oliphant, and others.

The study called the work of these artists "Pure propaganda... a cultural Sodom and Gomorrah... low humor and devoid of normal values... figures of authority in America's government and cultural life held up to undeserved demeaning ridicule... adds nothing to our people's upward movment towards grace... These works should be removed from the consciousness of America."

Secretary Thompson indicated hearings may be called for sometime next year by the House Of Representatives concerning issues raised in the study.

#10 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:16 PM:

coln: Are two bags of hammers dumber than

I think the point was that said hammers were engaged in the alleged dumb activities on a slow Thursday night. As much as I appreciate Baron Munchhausen's distaste for Wednesdays, I'd have to concur that a slow thursday is about the dumbest timeframe of the whole week.

#11 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:22 PM:

Herself wrote:
Only he doesn’t even have the option of converting, the way Satan-worshipping Christians do, because he’s stuck being straight just as thoroughly as gays are stuck being gay.

Unfortunately, in Mr. Allan's reality, he does have the option of converting, as does every other straight person. Therein lies the problem. If conversion weren't possible, all the blandishments of Hollywood and the liberals would be to no avail, and we'd be seeing mockery, not mobs with torches. (The belief is at least consistent; if gayness can be "cured", then surely one can be "infected" by it. I doubt very much that the analogy with disease is a casual one.)

What I wonder is what it is about being gay that Mr. Allan considers so attractive, so addicting that he believes that people need to be protected against it. I've known more than a few gays in my time. Despite this, I can't say I've ever been tempted. What does he see that I don't?

#12 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:25 PM:

Gerald Allen is probably concerned he (or some unwitting viewer/reader) might accidently find themselves replaying the story of Lot's wife:

One longing look too many at the burning city of Sodom, and the price of salt will drop like a crystal pillar due to oversupply.

The only problem is that Gerald is now playing God by deciding what deserves the brimstone storm (and delivering the storm himself) rather than leaving such old-testament judgement to the only one actually qualified to render such judgement. (hint: it isn't 'W')

#13 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:26 PM:

Greg: I think the point was that said hammers were engaged in the alleged dumb activities on a slow Thursday night. ... I'd have to concur that a slow thursday is about the dumbest timeframe of the whole week.

Tiny mortal! Dost thou call Thor's mighty hammer, Mjolnir, dumb? Dost thou call Thor dumb? Thor will smite thee!

#14 ::: Eleanore ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:30 PM:

This isn't the first time I've heard about this guy, but it's appalling me all over again.

Luckily, there are people who want to do something about it, even if it may not help all that much. The thought is there. If you're interested in joining the cause, check out Cleolinda Jones' journal:

She's from Alabama, so she's pretty fired up about it, and I must say, rightly so.


#15 ::: Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:43 PM:

Tom S spake:
WASHINGTON (Cheese Star International): Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced today that a new study claims comic strip and cartoon characters are "teaching dysfunctional behavior to American youth."

Art imitates life, I suppose. The Comics Code Authority was created to address exactly that.

Among other rules:
"Ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group is never permissible."
"Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable."
"Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden." (And they saw no need to explain what counted as a "sex perversion".)

You can see the whole Code here.

#16 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:48 PM:

I read Allen slightly differently -- that he simply believes state money should not be spent to publicize art (and lifestyle choices) that don't meet his personal standard for "Godliness."

The implication that his standard of "Godliness" can be knocked over with a feather is also there. But if we have to produce counter-arguments to this type of censorship for the next four years, I think it's important to acknowledge the general "frame" (if you want to call it that) that underlies Allen's specific, fearful attack.

Taunts about the fragility of Allen's sexual identity may be emotionally satisfying. But I think indignation about this type of bullshit need to stress that such proposals for state censorship privilege a *personal* vision of "Godliness" against the fundamental American rights to religious freedom and the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. And we've been there before.

"...The United States is *not about* using legislation to impose personal religious visions and moral codes on all of its citizens."

Please excuse me if this is stating the obvious -- but I think this is what needs to be reiterated to Bush supporters again and again:

If a set of lifestyle choices, religious practices, or literature fails to meet your personal standard of "Godliness," but is not recognized as criminal, you have to express your disapproval without using the federal government as a club against it. Or else, you're the criminal!

It's probably true that if this point sinks in, the radical right will renew attempts to criminalize lifestyle choices and art instead of imposing censorship against them. This basically boils down to the same religious tyranny vs. religious freedom conflict on an older playing field.

#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 06:56 PM:

The sleep of reason not only breeds monsters, it gives them a microphone.

#18 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 07:15 PM:

I'm just so very thankful that the rest of the world is no longer following the "leader of the free west". Yesterday, the Canadian SC said gay marriage does not breach the constitution, and New Zealand passed a civil union bill allowing same-sex (and het) de-facto couples to register their unions and get all the legal protections of marriage. Two cheers for non-America!

#19 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 07:31 PM:

Wow. That is a really, really good point.

I'm tempted to ask something about where he's getting his gay sex and where I might find it...

#20 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 07:36 PM:


if Gerald's frame is "Government money shouldn't be used to buy immoral works", then we need a better re-frame than "if it isnt criminal then don't use the government as a club".

I don't know what the progressive frame would be.

Is the money for buying books for schools?0 If so, that might be a good place to start. Education is a progressive frame.

#21 ::: Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 08:25 PM:

Yonmei has nailed the problem quite precisely:

"There are plenty of Republicans who don't exactly agree with him 100 percent. But none of them see the fact that he has these opinions as any reason not to vote for him.

And there are plenty of Republicans who very strongly agree with him - and the more he says this, the more of them there will be. It's a win-win situation."

Publius of Legal Fiction has an excellent explanation of the role of the median voter that illuminates this point very well.

BTW, taking away the ability of politicians to gerrymander, as a proposed initiative in California would (by giving that power to retired judges instead, although there may be better ways), would go a long ways toward correcting the polarizing tendency of modern American politics that encourages idiots like Allen.

#22 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 09:15 PM:


This highlights my difference with some of your arguments about "reframing."

My feeling is that "you can't use the government as a club to enforce your personal standard of 'Godliness' over public institutions" is the strongest fundamental argument against proposals like Allen's.

Using the government that way is against the core principles that went into the founding of the United States; and I think rational Bush supporters will concede this.

I'm not interested in wheedling a would-be religious tyrant to relent because "your God will be happier if you do."

Voters and elected officials in Red States *must* acknowledge the principle of separation of Church and State or we don't have America, anymore.

#23 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 09:17 PM:

Gerald is no dummy when it comes to framing. I just skimmed through the article and came up with this nugget:

it's not censorship", Allen hastens to explain. "For instance, there's a reason for stop lights. You're driving a vehicle, you see that stop light, and I hope you stop."

It isn't censorship.
It's just a traffic light and
traffic lights just make sense.

Hammers may be dumb, but this one has framed himself as the hammer of common sense. And that's smart if you're trying to push what anyone else would call censorship.

This clearly needs to be reframed and from multiple levels. Since it sounds like he's cutting school funds, that's the first place to hit.

Gerald is clearly no idiot because when asked if gay-friendly scenes from Shakespeare would mean students can't study Shakespeare, he backpedals, without defining what exactly it is about Shakespeare's scene of a man wooing another man that makes it OK and other similar scenes verboton.

Shakespeare should be used as a wedge to separate the homophobic-right-wingers from the moderate-right-leaners. The author of the article was pretty sharp to bring this up, but the point seems to have been lost on the readers.

If gay scenese are to be censored, then you must censor Shakespeare.

And if you're going to school, most would agree you should study some shakespeare.

simple, to the point, framed in a progressive value, and pretty much shows the phobia of the people who want to call this nothing more than installing some "stoplights".

Censorship and Education would be good tactical frames to fight this guy's "stoplight" and "wasteful government spending" crap. He's basically calling education "wasteful spending", and censorship is as common sense as a "stoplight".

#24 ::: Dirt ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 09:20 PM:

After all these years, Teresa, I'm hurt. I grow your plants, I bear the weight of your home, I let you walk upon me.

Yet here you are comparing me to a fatuous book-burning trendfucker with a brain half the size of a hydrogen molecule.

What did I ever do to deserve this?

#25 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 09:46 PM:

I think it can all be explained this way: in terms of Republican demagoguery, anti-gay acts are the new ten commandments monuments.

Hey, it got this backwater hick another visit with Bush, so mission accomplished.

#26 ::: Stella Maris ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 09:50 PM:

"You know what he’s really saying, don’t you? He’s saying that gay sex has straight sex beat all hollow, that’s what."

This reminds me of when Lon Mabon, renowned no-neck homophobe and head of the now-defunct Oregon Citizens Alliance, publicly said something to this effect:

If homosexuality was OK, then everybody would want to be one.

Now, heaven knows I personally think queer sex is more fun than the Three Stooges doing nitrous on a roller-coaster -- but even I don't think everyone secretly wants to be queer.

Uh, guys? You're giving us all a little Too Much Information about your innermost sexual longings...

#27 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 10:07 PM:

Lenny: Voters and elected officials in Red States *must* acknowledge the principle of separation of Church and State or we don't have America anymore


I think this is more of the "the truth will set us free" problem. There is nothing that voters *must* do.

Gerald has cast his crusade in a "as common sense as a stoplight" frame. Crying "Separation of Church and State" may be accurate, but I don't see it as specific enough or powerful enough to trump Gerald's multiple levels of bullshit.

For one, a lot of people do not have a firm enough grasp on morals that they cannot define ultimate right and wrong without falling back on a God telling them what is good and what is sin at some point.

"Separation of church and state" does not give these people a specific enough progressive value that they can find their own way out of Gerald's forest and into sanity.

For another, "Separation of Church and State" in this context is really little more than saying "NOT Gerald". It says Gerald is wrong, but it doesn't put in any VALUE to replace it. You're still stuck in Gerald's frame. He says "common sense" and you say "NOT that".

"Separation of church and state" is not a moral value. I'm not sure what the word for it is. Mandate? It's a phrase that comes out of a moral value like "Respect for everyone's beliefs" or something, but it's an outcome of a value, not a value in and of itself.

Censorship is the flipside of the value "Freedom". "Education" is a value as well. Both of them trump Gerald's crap.

Dig down underneath "Separation of Church and State" and find the value that trumps what Gerald is trying to do.

#28 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 10:23 PM:

Gerald is no dummy when it comes to framing....

I don't see it. Stop lights are mandated by the government as a public safety measure. Without them, vehicles would collide and people would be physically injured.

I don't see any "public safety" that would be protected by Allen's suppression of art and literature -- except safety from understanding that art, lifestyles, and relationships exist that Allen and his God disapprove of.

Reading what Greg says makes me more open to Teresa's take -- that Allen really believes reading Tennessee Williams carries some terrible risk. But the rebuttal should still be "Sorry, the U.S. government is not constituted to protect citizens from such spiritual risks (real or imaginary). If you're worried about such risks, you need to express your concern through another channel."

#29 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 10:36 PM:

This is f------g Alabama. They only have two exports: aluminum and stupid. They've been working for years to improve the production and quality of stupid. They voted to keep racist language in their constitution in November, and earlier they overwhelmingly voted to keep taxes high on poor people and low on rich people.

Teen pregnancy, divorce, spousal and child abuse, meth addiction--take your pick and Alabama is one of the hotspots. The Mercedes M-class, one of the very few cars that Consumer Reports gave a "Not Recommended" to--built in Alabama. They don't know better and they don't want to.

A hundred and forty years ago they lost the Civil War, and they still resent it. Forty years ago, the northern states came around again and said: no, we really meant it about that integration thing, and they lost all over again.

And after having twice been hauled up on a national stage and symbolically castrated, they get to wake up every morning and see that the people who mocked them and subjugated them have a higher standard of living, drive cooler cars, date cuter people, and have better teeth. Turn on the TV and check.

So they went out and found something they can do better: worship Jesus. They can Jesus-worship until their teeth fall out, and then they mumble.

Better yet, they got to pick out the Jesus they worship. Their Jesus likes guns and the death penalty. He hates fags and women that don't know their place. He thinks that compassion is weakness, and he wasn't ever Jewish.

And on Monday, Gerald Allen, who loves Jesus, will be having a chat with the President.

#30 ::: Ilona ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 10:43 PM:

I think a few of the posters are giving Allen too much credit. He's been elected since 1994, and while he is an incumbent and hard to purge, he's most likely worried about his seat, as most incumbents do. Unless I am mistaken, he's a House member, which means he has less than year before he has to start worrying about reelection. The issue of gay marriage and other connected issues happen to be a hot topic, and he simply jumped on a bandwagon while it was passing him by. If he had a military base in his state about to close, he would start screaming about how much he loves GIs.

In a conservative state such as Alabama (or Oklahoma, where I am stuck for now), a politician has two alternatives: Conservative (Democrat) or Really Conservative (Republican). Having Kerry as Presidential Candidate severely hurt Democrats in such states, because he made them look liberal. A kind of reverse coattails phenomenon. So in that climate of conservatism, for a House member to distinguish himself, he has to really twist his panties in a bunch about something. He has to prove that he is indeed all about "values" and "morals," which is what Allen is doing. Does it make him a worm? Yes. A whore? Absolutely! A true believer? That might need further research. I wouldn't worry about Allen as much as I would worry about people who actually listen to him and take his drivel under consideration. Those bastards are scary.

#31 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 10:50 PM:

Lenny: I don't see it. Stop lights are mandated by the government as a public safety measure

You are not seeing your own frame here.

a "Public safety measure" is your frame for stoplights. A selfish frame might be "stoplights mean I can get to work faster because these morons can't get through a 4-way stop-sign."

Gerald's invoked "Stop Lights" which NO ONE would view as evil. The frame behind it is irrelevant. Gerald doesn't even attempt to frame "Stop Lights" as anything other than "Common Sense". No one would mount a revolt against stoplights. No one would fight "common sense".

Once people accept that his campaign is as harmless as stoplights and just as much common sense as red/yellow/green, the frame sticks and th campaign is justified by the frame.

Whether Gerald consciously knows how he is choosing his language, or whether he just grew up with a gift for gab, a silver tongue, is irrelevant. Consciously or subconsciously, he is no dummy when it comes to framing.

#32 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:05 PM:

I don't think the Shakespeare thing is going to do any good, frankly. I bet that half of the folks who support Allen would be just as happy to dump Shakespeare with the rest of them - lot of long-haired boys in tights talkin' in fancy poetry, dontcha know. And the other half just will not be convinced that there's anything gay about Shakespeare in the first place, and if you bring up the sonnets they'll shut their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears and shout "I disbelieve! I disbelieve!"

And, hey, Shakespeare's been whitewashed for the curriculum for ages anyway, which is why Julius Caesar's been taught in high schools since God was a boy - it's not an especially good play (and drops the ball in a big way after "Friends, Romans, countrymen"), but it doesn't have any sex in it. And I don't exactly recall my HS English teacher explaining why words like spirit, nothing, and will were funny, and I'd be very surprised to learn that that's changed in the last dozen years.

#33 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:08 PM:

Alex: This is f------g Alabama.

Ilona: he's most likely worried about his seat,

Whether he is exporting stupid or whether he is looking for a hotbutton issue to get reelected is small potatoes to the fact that he is well on his way to changing the way the nation talks about homosexuality so that it is something horrible that we must purge from our schools.

dismissing him as a moron does not trump the frame he is pushing. a fact like "moron" or "campaign crap" will bounce off that frame. Bush will still see him. The frame of language he's speaking will continue unless it is trumped by another value.

That he's going to meet the president yet again means we're losing this round of Thing.

#34 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:14 PM:

Dan: I bet that half of the folks who support Allen would be just as happy to dump Shakespeare

You don't have to convince everyone to agree with you. Just enough to disagree with Gerald.

If it stays local to Alabama, that's better than letting it spill out into the whole country.

And if you don't think the Shakespeare frame would cut it, what do you think would?

#35 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:33 PM:

coln roald: Are two bags of hammers dumber than one bag of hammers? The proposition seems logically questionable.

Bag is being used as code for Committee, and just like with people, hammer committees are dumber than the participants, and multiple committees lower the standard further.

#36 ::: Ilona ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:36 PM:

Greg said: "dismissing him as a moron does not trump the frame he is pushing. a fact like "moron" or "campaign crap" will bounce off that frame. Bush will still see him. The frame of language he's speaking will continue unless it is trumped by another value."

Oh, no, I don't think he is a moron. He is dangerous. Not as dangerous as a true believer ( although he might be one, but I doubt it, simply because few politicians are true believers) but still very dangerous because people with power to make things happen are listening to him. He is slowly but surely worming his way into the system, trying to establish that lawmaker-bureacracy relationship that will enable him to sponsor havoc. And he can't lose, because if the measure he is proposing gets defeated, he can always head to his constituents and proclaim that he had fought a good fight and if they reelect him, he will continue to fight it, etc. No, that wasn't my point. My point is that there will always be opportunistic politicians. The danger factor here lies in the fact that policy makers are listening to him. If suddenly some dirty secret was pulled out of his closet, would the administration drop him in a blink? Absolutely. But if they really want the measure, if they see some sort of sense in what he is rambling, the measure will come back a year, maybe two later. That's where the real problem lies. In the fact that the policy-making body of people who are suppose to lead the country are focusing on banning classic literature. That's a very bad sign. But then it doesn't surprise me. After all, we live in the age when a publisher has to apply for a license to publish the work of a foreign dissident.

#37 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:46 PM:

I'm afraid I mostly disagree with that reading. It's much simpler really: The Bible says God thinks it's evil and therefore it cannot be allowed to happen. Allowing it to happen is a sin against God. They don't think gay sex is hot, not even buried deep in their ids. They think it's revolting and icky. Of course, most of them probably think heterosexual sex is icky too and only for the creation of children. Actually, that's not speculation on my part. It's something my Baptist-raised first husband said to me. Personally, I don't see any hope for changing the minds of the red staters. Nixon's famed Southern strategy has well and truly fucked us all and may have been the beginning of the end of our great experiment with Democracy. Yes, I am feeling pessimistic today.


#38 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2004, 11:56 PM:

And if you don't think the Shakespeare frame would cut it, what do you think would?

I don't know. I'm probably the wrong person to ask. I'm just about everything these people despise: a metropolitan genderfucked bisexual pagan who believes that there are more important things to "protect" children from than bad words and sex. The only weapon I have, the only one I've ever had against hate is to live my life in such a way that I'm a good enough example of a decent human being that people have to think twice about making generalizations about all the things I represent. But at the end of the day, I'm still the spokesman for everything the Far Wrong doesn't want their kids to grow up to be; you want the product of a secular, multicultural, liberal education, I'm it, baby. The question is entirely about whether you think that's a tragedy or not.

I'm not convinced that calling Allen a moron does no good. It's what They do to Us, after all, and it's worked pretty well on that side - the reflexive dismissal, the assumption that the things they say are too ridiculous for any sane person to give credence to. I'm done being nice about it. Gerald Allen is a poster child for dribbling backwoods ignorant fuckwittage, and if you think what he's doing is right and good, I have no interest in trying to reach common ground with you. I'm ashamed I have to share a planet with these people, much less a country.

For those closer to center who nonetheless sympathize with him... again, I dunno. If I had a Message for them, it's that Americans are better than that. We don't need to be protected from ideas, and we don't need to protect our kids from them either. To suggest that we do is both insulting and unpatriotic.

#39 ::: Andrew Kanaber ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 12:13 AM:

coln: Are two bags of hammers dumber than one bag of hammers? The proposition seems logically questionable.

Presumably dumbness is an intrinsic rather than an extrinsic quantity? If so, two bags of hammers are just as dumb as one bag (providing they're all the same type of hammer).

On the other hand, if we're also including the dumbness of the bags and bags are dumber than hammers then two bags of hammers are dumber than one bag.

Hope this helps.

#40 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 12:48 AM:

This links into the We Never Knew thread, of course. Many people treated Hitler as a joke, too: they weren't threatened by him.

Gerald Allen isn't funny and he isn't a moron. Calling him a moron will work no better than calling George W. Bush a moron: it's obvious he's not, so it just comes across as aggressive insult.

Gerald Allen is scary.

#41 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 12:49 AM:

Mary Kay, I *really* don't think Teresa was being literal here; she was trying to express the ultimate (ludicrous) logical ramifications of this flavor of "It does infect mine eyes" intolerance, and how it's actually fantastically *demeaning* to the philosophies people like Gerald claim to venerate, by implying that they're so ephemeral they'll blow up like a Prince Rupert drop if tweaked by the tiniest glimpse of men holding hands or Harry Potter waving a wand.

#42 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 01:01 AM:

Dirt: don't take it so badly, please... Teresa said "stupider than dirt". That leaves a whole range, depending on her esteem of you. Why, it could include almost everybody!

Oh, alright, so you wonder "Why me, though?" I really don't want to be the one to break it to you, but... It's not just around here that your name is dirt...

#43 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 01:36 AM:

Scott: You may be right of course, I'm afraid over-literalness is an ongoing problem for me. It's especially problemmatic on the web where I can't get other inputs. Perhaps T. will enlighten us.


#44 ::: Chloe ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 02:31 AM:

"If homosexuality was OK, then everybody would want to be one."

haha! That's like saying, "If Christianity was so great, everyone would want to be one." How confused!

A selfish frame might be "stoplights mean I can get to work faster because these morons can't get through a 4-way stop-sign."

I've heard some studies that say 4 way stop signs improve the expediency of traffic movement more than traffic lights. So that frame may be flawed regardless... haha!!!

I voted based on moral values, sure. I believe in civil rights for gays. I believe in freedom of religion. I believe in privacy. I believe in free speech. These are my moral values.

Gerald Allen perhaps does believe that gay sex is more powerful than straight sex. After all, if someone's religious beliefs are fear-based, rather than truly faith-based, naturally they would believe that anything depicted as "sinful" would be tempting. That would seem to indicate that if they said gay sex was okay, it would hold less power... so why don't they just ease up on the condemnation? Because the more sacrafice it seems to be, to avoid temptation and sin, the more "saintly" and self-righteous the so-called non-sinners can view themselves as. Maybe it's not just using people's fears, it's manipulation by use of people's egos. ;)

It's been suggested by others, and elsewhere, that this kind of religious oppression they're proposing is very much like they wanted to liberate the Afghans from... And I agree.

Of course I'm someone who believes that homosexuality is no more or less wrong regardless of whether it's design or choice. Either way, gays are not infringing upon others' rights, or harming anyone, just by living a "gay lifestyle". So it comes down to religion, from my viewpoint.

The fact that homosexuality is present in other species besides humans, leads me to believe that it's a natural thing. And who made nature? Conservatives preach over & over about humans being given free will... if god gave the animals free will too, he must've thought them intelligent and important. Yet most conservative religions believe animals have no purpose on earth except to serve humans. So much for that free choice w/ the animals, so homosexuality must be natural. Again, who made nature? And furthermore, if god gave humans free will, who are these humans to deign that fellow humans should not have that god-given free will, and that they may act to take god-given free-will away?
The worlds of religions are full of contradictions.

And whenever any human tries to play god, they fall well below any divine, or even Jesus-like, standards.
And so trying to play god, no matter how cleverly executed, is, yes, quite illogical.
So while I think this guy is "crazy like a fox", he's also not the most wise.

That said, I'm not at all into condoning name-calling. On the other hand, I think this post here of Teresa's could be categorized as 'farce', in that it's meant to be an invalid argument, against an invalid argument. Or at least that's the point that was conveyed to me.

#45 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:10 AM:

I hate to say it, but:

"Famous Atheist Now Believes in God

Thu Dec 9, 4:57 PM ET U.S. National - AP

By RICHARD N. OSTLING, AP Religion Writer

NEW YORK - A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God — more or less — based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England....

[then he declared himself to be a supporter of George W. Bush's moral Philosophy?]

#46 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:14 AM:

Ilona: he's most likely worried about his seat

(muffled snickering).

#47 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 05:07 AM:

There's some confusion in my earlier comments in this thread about powers granted to the federal government vs. powers granted to state governments. Some state governments have traditionally tried to "legislate morality" in ways that are Constitutionally proscribed for the Federal Government.

But it's a generally accepted legal principle that State constitutions cannot be interpeted to give their respective citizens less liberty than does the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. For that matter, the Alabama State Constitution has a clause stating "that no religion shall be established by law; that no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect, society, denomination, or mode of worship."

And it seems to me that Gerald Allen would be hard -pressed to establish any grounds, other than his personal religious ones, to justify state boycott of material that contains positive depictions of homosexuality.

I stand by my earlier argument that Bush partisans should be reminded that separation of Church and State is a historically non-negotiable principle for both Federal and State governments.

#48 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 06:56 AM:

More and more in recent years, I just haven't had the patience to deal civilly with this sort of hothouse flower theology; the idea that everyone else in the entire world should be at pains, all the time, to protect these philosophically fragile jackasses from the need to back up their beliefs with actual self-discipline. Fuck them and fuck their book-burning.

I've been exposed to books, films, and cartoons about cool robots for nearly a quarter of a century. As a kid, I was enthralled by the 'Droids of Star Wars, Go-Bots, Transformers, BattleTech, etc. Still am. So why don't I feel much like fucking my toaster oven?

#49 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 07:18 AM:

Lenny, I'd agree with you if it weren't for the three facts:

1. Scopes.
2. "Community standards"
3. They'll claim morality and religion are separate things.

Very unfortunately, this country has managed to weasel its way around the separation of Church and State by that third argument.

I suspect that if it's fought strongly enough that it'll at the least get overturned later, but at this point I would not actually bet on it.

My personal reaction is to explain to the nice Mr. Allen that should he get that bill passed, I will be boycotting all products manufactured at and/or distributed by companies in Alabama, and explaining exactly why to the companies.

Like, say... Sony. Who has a major manufacturing plant there. And since I can't know in advance which products might have been made there...

There's also Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz; Saks is headquartered there.

Reason isn't going to work, but Alabama is on a big push to attract more big business, so pocketbook threats might.

#50 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 07:20 AM:

So why don't I feel much like fucking my toaster oven?

You don't know what you're missing! I did my toaster oven just this morning, and it was fantastically hot sex!

#51 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 08:07 AM:

Though not explicitly related to this case, John Holbo has a brilliant idea concerning a rhetorical frame.

#52 ::: Paul Arezina ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 08:08 AM:

I can pretty much guess that the image our great nation's voters had in their heads when they went to the polls to defend marriage as being between a man and woman only was: a church altar, two men in tuxedos with pink triangles on the lapel (one of whom is holding an impressive-looking document) and a shaven-headed priest looking absolutely bewildered. Perhaps some faceless cop is pressing a handgun to the priest's back.

Yeah, welcome to the frame wars.

What I want to know is - what's the real advantage of being married in the eyes of the state? What are the benefits? I know they _exist_, but I'd like to see the whole list somewhere. Because that list is what you talk about when you talk about marriage on a legal level, and it seems from here like the actual benefits are a good place to start breaking the frame.

#53 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 08:22 AM:

Paul: This seems to be reasonably accurate.

I know that the basics of what people I personally know would like include things like child custody passing to a surviving spouse, automatically being considered the next of kin in various circumstances (medical care/decisions, inheritances, etc.), and joint adoptions. Being able to be part of insurance benefits is a plus for people, too (spouses are family; roommates are not).

#54 ::: Christian Feuerstein ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 09:05 AM:

Whilst discussing this last night, the hub and I slid into this shared fantasy of being book-smugglers, running banned books into Alabama under cover of night. The only drawback? We'd have to visit Alabama a lot. Heebus!

On a related note, I know Laura Bush used to be a teacher, right? Maybe she can influence W against taking this national the way she influenced him to give more funding to the National Endowment for the Arts. Or am I just stuffed full of optimism and caffeine?

#55 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 09:09 AM:

Teresa, this is so true it's frightening. In a sick way, one of the consequences of that attitude was on display in reports of the sex abuse crisis in Boston, when the Globe reported so often that boys exploited by the priests they looked up to would then be blessed by their violators and asked to join in prayer after the very acts of rape and abuse took place.

#56 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 09:32 AM:

What they’re saying is that Satan is much more powerful than God, and that nobody who was even glancingly acquainted with Satanism would ever want to stick with Christianity...

I actually was about there in my confused reading when I realized I wasn't seeing the name "Santa" in there. But it made sense that way, I swear.

Anyway, as to the central point, I agree. Why, just reading the word "homosexuality" makes me want to paint my face and go wave at sailors.

I'd be inclined to think Mary Kay's right too, but then I have to wonder why they're not against all that other stuff in Leviticus or whatever ("or whatever" means "I am not posing as a scholar here"). What's so special about hot M on M action that gets them off the pews and out in mobs with torches and those wooden rake things?

I don't understand why these fundamentalist guys don't do the arithmetic and realize that every guy who is gay gives them a better shot at getting the woman of their dreams, anyway. They do seem to believe that life is a zero-sum game; this fits right in with that logic.

#57 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 09:52 AM:

On sloganizing (since framing is too hard):
Well, book burying == book burning, minus the nasty air pollution.
Didn't we talk about that book burning quote in an earlier thread? If they're burning books, they'll be burning people next.
If they're burying books with gays in it, they be burying gay people next.

Or "Plant trees, not books".

(because via NPR -- an environmentalist won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. Sounds like she deserves it too.)

The more I think about the book burying, the more the symbolism screams. He literally wants to bury all that is psychologically threatening. He wants to repress sex, he wants to hide his own sinfulness*. The guy should just come out of the closet already. :P

(*he thinks it sinful, not me. Hence the burying)

#58 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 09:53 AM:

Christian, it's worse, she used to be a librarian! My mind boggles, shies,and eeks unto eternity.

#59 ::: Christian Feuerstein ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 10:09 AM:

Christian, it's worse, she used to be a librarian!

No offense to all fabby librarians out there (and oh, there are a lot of you, you groovy creatures, you), but Laura Bush reminds me of the scary, prissy librarians that made my life a living hell growing up in rural Illinois.

"You can't go into the adult section, the minimum age is 16."
"You can't take out more than three books at a time."
"Yes, there is a Dungeons & Dragons game going on in the community room; however, they're all boys in there and I don't think you should go in without a note from your parents." (Yes, I am one of the very few women out there named Christian. It's worse. I'm pretty sure I'm the only Jew out there named Christian. Dad was not well.)
"You can't use the typewriter, it's for adults."

And on, and on, and on, and on...gah.

#60 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 10:23 AM:

He's from the Alabama State Legislature, not the House. Imagine Our Fearless Leader making the time for five meetings with a state legislator from Alabama about anything.

For that matter, imagine him before September 11 squeezing in five meetings with Richard Clarke.

#61 ::: yabonn ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 10:48 AM:

"Viva la muerte!"

"Abajo la inteligencia!"

- Millan Astray

#62 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 11:04 AM:

Ilona: he can't lose, because if the measure he is proposing gets defeated, he can always head to his constituents and proclaim that he had fought a good fight

If the whole thing was re-framed in a way that trumps the "common sense" and "stop wasteful government spending" values he's using to push his agenda, then I think he'd lose. He'd lose his agenda for sure. He might lose re-election too.

The point of "trumping" is so that he can no longer claim he is "fighting the good fight" because trumping suddenly raises the bar. Justice trumps Strength, so that Strength alone is no longer the "good" fight.

That's the Akido of framing.

#63 ::: jsrutstein ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 11:06 AM:

The lead article at today concerns Christian missionaries at a Spanish nightclubbing hotspot. I'm not sure true compromise could ever be reached between believers and nons. The only signs of real change described are a person who heard God tell her to remove her piercings but later let her reinstall one, and another who asked God for help while unemployed and found work as a stripper. In any event, the positive approach of these missionaries seems more likely to make lasting progress than scolding or scaring.

#64 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 11:15 AM:

Dan: We don't need to be protected from ideas

That's actually a good frame to trumps this nonsense.

#65 ::: Cherie Priest ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 11:28 AM:

Alabama has an illustrious history of making ridiculous stands, but this year its voters are really outdoing themselves.

Did you know, for example, that on November 2 the state declined to remove the racial segregation clauses from its state constitution? Someone finally noticed it was still on the books, and set up a bill to remove it ... and the voters said, "No thanks -- we'll just hang on to that, for nostalgia's sake. Or something."

One of my readers, an embarrassed Alabama resident, sent me links to related government documentation here.

#66 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 11:41 AM:

Huey Long, anybody?

Crazy(and really must make herself reread her college textbook on him)Soph

#67 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 11:45 AM:

I always thought that the technical term was "dumber than a bucket of hair."

#68 ::: Ted Kocot ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 11:46 AM:

There are two spins you can put on this guy and his ilk.

The first is the classic, "You know what they say about the extremely homophobic." It's glib, tired, but when you say it to their face, it's devastatingly effective, which makes me wonder if what they say isn't true.

The second is, they were wandering around the primary document of their faith and noticed that pretty much every aspect of their way of life is other than recommended. (Judge not, turn other cheek, forgive, thou shall not covet, don't eat pork, etc.) Then they find something that they have no desire to do and say, "Hey! I can leer at my neighbor’s wife and consume as conspicuously as I want. At least I'm not doing this. Hell, I'm not even interested, so it must be really bad.... Not an attitude I'd want to explain to any kind of Christian God, but there you go.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 12:21 PM:

While I think Teresa has a useful combat frame here, I don't think it's the frame they're operating out of. You see, they don't believe people are ever gay. At all. Ever.

They believe that homosexual behavior is a perversion, which again isn't an orientation or a permanent fixture of one's personality, but just a sin, like stealing. That's why they don't distinguish between sex between men and sex between humans and animals; in fact the two are sometimes disjoined clauses in the definition of "Sodomy."

In this frame, they don't fall into this particular sin because of their superior virtue. They believe (honestly, some of them) that if all children were raised as they were, there would be no homosexuals at all. This is where the age-old cry of "Where did I go wrong?" comes from. The ones who believe this bullshit hold themselves responsible for making their kids homosexual by failing to parent them correctly.

I forget who it was who said that it's easy to forgive people who have wronged us, but very hard to forgive people we've wronged. I suspect many of these people who disown their homosexual children are doing so out of guilt.

I was much more comfortable when I believed that they were just assholes who deserved no sympathy. But I'm more effective when I'm less comfortable, I find.

So, the frame to push is "Homosexuality is part of human nature." Like left-handedness. That's what we should be comparing it to. Medieval people thought left-handedness was evil (hence the word 'sinister'), and even in my own parents' lifetime people were still trying to "change" their left-handed children into righties, with dire consequences for the neurological health of the children (they CAN, it turns out, be forced to favor their right hands, but they have stuttering, attention problems, and emotional difficulties as a result).

Everything about sex is charged with "moral" ideas. But in reality homosexuality is no different than left-handedness. I propose we use that comparison to counter people like Gerald Allen (who I don't believe has any sincere belief in anything at all). Remember that the people this asshole is selling his frame to do not believe that morality should be subject to logic.

#70 ::: Thel ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 01:10 PM:


I think I agree with you. Did you happen to see Rivka's post about Courage, the Christian "ex-gay" organization in Britain who were honest enough with themselves to come to that very conclusion after fourteen years of trying to get gay people to "mature to adult heterosexuality?"

Do read it, if you haven't seen it. It's very heartening.

#71 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 01:27 PM:

Xopher wrote:
So, the frame to push is "Homosexuality is part of human nature." Like left-handedness. That's what we should be comparing it to. Medieval people thought left-handedness was evil (hence the word 'sinister'), and even in my own parents' lifetime people were still trying to "change" their left-handed children into righties, with dire consequences for the neurological health of the children (they CAN, it turns out, be forced to favor their right hands, but they have stuttering, attention problems, and emotional difficulties as a result).

This might have happened to me. We lived in Japan when I was between ages one and six, and my mother has since told me that our Japanese maid was always taking things out of my left hand and putting them into my right. Including pencils, crayons and such. At the time nobody thought anything of it.

So it's possible I should have been left-handed, though I'm definitely not now. If true, though, I must have gotten off light. My handwriting's atrocious, and I was the worst baseball player in little league, but those are hardly dire. And while I do have what some might call attention problems (witness that I'm reading blogs now when I should be working), I put that down to plain laziness.

#72 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 01:33 PM:

Thel, yes I did, and it certainly is. Thanks for pointing me to it, though: it'd've been a shame for me to miss it. And it didn't occur to me that it might be a useful source in changing the frame; thanks hugely for pointing that out!

Steve Eley, my parents put my ADHD (since diagnosed) down to laziness or any number of other moral failings. We should talk.

#73 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 02:06 PM:

Xopher: Homosexuality is part of human nature

The only problem is that is a fact not a frame. A frame would cast the issue into a value. "Human nature" isn't a value.

I get what you're saying. And it isn't that I disagree with it as a fact. It's just it isn't forwarding a progressive value that frames the issue.

What is the progressive value you see behind "human nature"?

#74 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 02:22 PM:

Hmm, good point Greg. An Episcopal Priest recently said to me "You're everything God wants you to be."

How about the Pursuit of Happiness? With the underlying assumption/explanation that no one can be truly happy unless they're acting in accordance with their own nature.

And for the Christians: "I'm as God made me. And God wouldn't make me just to suffer miserably. Therefore my right to pursue happiness must be in accordance with God's plan for me."

Of course, there are people out there that believe that God does make some people just to torture them and make them miserable. Those people don't need to be convinced; they need to be stopped. </broken record>

#75 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 02:48 PM:

Xopher: Seriously, there's a link between childhood stuttering and forced right-handedness?

Wow. Put that in my 'plus' column for my dim memories of starting out a leftie. (My mother had this habit of rewriting history, so I don't know if I'm misremembering or she is, see...)

#76 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:06 PM:

Tina, that's what I was taught, yes. Please note, however, that I graduated college in 1981, and haven't heard anything about this since; the idea might have been debunked.

#77 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:07 PM:

Kip W.
Santa vs. Satan
My god - it's all clear now. They watched SNL and took the Church Lady seriously!

#78 ::: Alison ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:10 PM:

Actually, I'm not so sure he's stupid. I mean, look at what he says. He says that he got the message through the last election that Americans don't want gays to get married and probably really just don't like gays at all. And he's going to hitch his wagon to that star. He got a meeting with the President, after all. How many of us have had meeting with the President lately? Or ever?

Sounds like he's just as smart as can be, except for the whole gay-hating thing, which is pretty ignorant.

#79 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:24 PM:

Alison, you've apparently missed the fact that really smart people can just be evil. He's not ignorant. He's EVIL.

He's in the "he must be stopped" category.

#80 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:39 PM:

Seriously, there's a link between childhood stuttering and forced right-handedness?

I know someone who seems to be a case in point. (He was a lefty forced into becoming a righty, later on he developed a life-long stutter).

#81 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 04:21 PM:

Xopher: How about the Pursuit of Happiness? With the underlying assumption/explanation that no one can be truly happy unless they're acting in accordance with their own nature.

hm, makes me think of that bit from Lakoff where he said that progressives often have to go into long explanations because no one has come up with the one-word vocabulary to label what they're talking about.

What you're describing would trump Gerald's "common sense" crapola. the only thing is it isn't a one or two word phrase.

I think what you're describing is "Freedom" plus something else, but I don't know what the word is (words are).

The bit that's missing is the piece that trumps the religious-extremists chain of thought:
homosexuality ==> sin ==> illegal

Separation of church and state attempts to trump the "sin ==> illegal", but it isn't a value in and of itself, it's a restriction. "Do not mix religion and government" tells you what NOT to do, but it doesn't tell you WHAT to do INSTEAD.

The root of the problem really is the "homosexuality ==> sin" link. If you trump that, the entire chain shatters.

I think the value you're describing as 'pursuit of happiness' with the underlying explanation is the frame that trumps 'gay==>sin'.

If the 'pursuit of happiness' description and the 'separation of church and state' restriction were both excavated and the values underneath were uncovered, I think you'd find the two frames that would trump this issue for most people.

(not that everyone will give up their insistence on putting their bible into our laws, but I think enough poeple would)

#82 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 04:35 PM:

You know, there's one thing I've wondered...

Some of the homophobic laws define sodomy to make anal and oral sex illegal, regardless of gender. Which has a very tiny bit of virtue in being consistent

But when you look at what's presented as hot sexuality, it's OK for a man to do all that stuff with (to?) a woman.

It keeps sounding like a power game. It's about acts of sexual dominance, and what's really wrong about it a man being treated as if he were a woman.

And then they present as something that's really great for the woman, and I find myself wondering, "Is it?"

And I'm curious enough that I can't honestly say I'd never do anything like that, and guilty enough to feel uncomfortable about even asking somebody to do something sexual that I had the equipment for, and wasn't willing to try to do myself.

#83 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 04:50 PM:

This is off topic, but Alabama really needs to stop taking quite as much heat for the failure to remove the "mandated segregation in public schools" language from its constitution. (The flogging for the current state of their tax code is perfectly appropriate)

This past election, there was a ballot proposition in Alabama that would do two things: 1) remove a clause from the constitution mandating racial segregation in public schooling, and 2) remove a clause which spelled out clearly that education is not a right to which citizens are entitled.

Now, let us remember how insanely tax-averse the voters of Alabama think they are. This second effect of the ballot proposition was played up as "if this passes, some activist judge will force the state to pump money into our (abyssmal) public school system, which means more TAX".

So the voter was confronted with a choice: symbolically strike segregation language and open up the possibility of a new TAX, or avoid the tax but leave some inactive language in the state constitution about segregation. The "avoid the tax but strike the segregation language" option wasn't available.

Now, I do wonder a bit at why the people behind this ballot initiative chose to combine the two constitutional changes, and I also wonder at the motives of those who hyped the "this will mean a new TAX" message.

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 05:50 PM:

Hmm. Riane Eisler has pointed out that when barbarian societies come into contact with actual civilizations, the barbarians generally win, because civilizations are inherently more fragile.

Part of the reason that progressive ideas are difficult to boil down into catch phrases is that we're against simplifying complex issues into catch phrases. Most people are too stupid (in the special "learned stupidity" sense) to want to deal with the complexity even of everyday life, which is why dictators can just say "Germany is before us, She is in us, and She follows us!" -- which is practically content-free -- and get huge cheers.

So if part of the metamessage of progressive politics is "Life is complex; deal with it," then that would be intrinsically impossible to simplify down into a catch phrase, or rather any underlying issue would be. And I don't know what to do, except use catchphrases to cynically manipulate The Masses, while us Liberal Elites sit up in our ivory tower like chess masters. That doesn't appeal either, obviously.

Some days I don't know why I get out of bed. Anyone have any hope to offer?

#85 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 06:13 PM:

Daniel: Thanks for filling us in on the combination of the two modifications to the Alabama constitution. Its failure is easier to understand in that light.

Kip W: The Leviticans (or whatever you want to call these folks) use gay sex as a talking point because nearly everyone, when presented with the idea of a sex act that they are NOT interested in, has a visceral reaction. Golden shower? Ick!

What that visceral reaction to gay sex really means, of course, is that you're straight. Nothing more. Gay people usually feel the same way about straight sex. Ick!

But it's a reliable reflex, and you get to use a lot of cool words like 'abomination', too.

#86 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 06:56 PM:

Possibly sacks of hammers are subject to mob mentality? And so the collective intelligence of two sacks of hammers would be the number of hammers divided by the IQ of the dumbest hammer in the bag (or maybe t'other way around.)

Of course, how one determines which hammer in the bag is the dumbest is sort of an interesting question in and of itself, although we could probably get some vital clues by observing this gentleman from Alabama.

#87 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 07:06 PM:

We Librarians refuse to accept Laura Bush as one of our own. She's setting our cause back several decades every time she opens her mouth on matters having to do with education and literacy. Not to mention what the big oaf of a president does every time he opens his mouth.

#88 ::: james woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 07:37 PM:

Greg London> Censorship is the flipside of the value "Freedom". "Education" is a value as well. Both of them trump Gerald's crap. Dig down underneath "Separation of Church and State" and find the value that trumps what Gerald is trying to do.

The "progressive value that trumps Gerald's crap" is The Right To Read. Gerald wants to deny us the right to read, play, view, think about, interact with, insert verb here... the information, stored knowledge, data, text, art, symbols of any kind encoded on whatever generic digitial or analog media we choose. He thinks reading is a privilege that should be licensed by the state and only for approved uses.

If people's brains turn off when they hear the word "censorship" used for the nine millionth time, then it's time to come at them from another angle: the Right To Read. It's not that he wants to shut down the publishers— he wants to stop people from reading.

The stoplight Gerald is talking about is the one saying Don't Read This! If You Read This, Then God May Smite Us All! That's an idea that ought to be laughed out of practically any RedState™ gathering of minds. If we really are at the point where that mentality regularly and reliably wins elections, then it is finally time to start planning a route to the frontier before they burn us all on stakes.

#89 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 08:07 PM:

Gerald Allen would likely be electable in other countries, too. And I'm dubious about "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

For example, I'm not sure I understand why some radical left-feminist groups allegedly support those "whose clerical overlords believe in a version of Islam that sentences homosexuals and adulterers to death by stoning" if that's what this article really means:

The Left and the Islamists
Joshua Kurlantzick

Or am I obtuse? Or is this article nonsense? Or both?

#90 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 08:30 PM:

When a child stutters from first talking, it's usually a neurological problem in the brain. My brother has stuttered his entire life in English. He's fine in foreign languages because he learned those in a different part of his brain. That's why he lives in Taiwan, although I'm not as convinced that he should be there to make the Taiwanese Christians.

I got their Christmas letter today, and considering what church people said to Mother when she was dying of cancer, I can't believe he wrote this:

"The Good News of Jesus is more than just His birth, it's also about how because of his death we can be set free from the penalty of sickness and death."

#91 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 08:37 PM:

Xopher, are those barbarians as in aggressively ill-behaved peoples, or as in simpler cultures running into more complex ones? If the latter, I have to disagree. Unless I've missed something, such clashes are historically far more likely to end with the primitive culture taking the hit. Look at our own neighborhoods: the Algonquins, Canarsies, Rockaways, and Montauks are not running things.

If you mean aggressively warlike groups, they don't fare all that well either, except for once in a while when they win. The latter occasions get the most publicity.

I don't even agree that complex cultures are inherently more fragile. I think they're capable of more complex responses to new challenges. They take damage, but they recover.


This afternoon, it occurred to me to wonder how they're going to teach American history without mentioning J. Edgar Hoover or the Buchanan administration.

#92 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 08:45 PM:

Or am I obtuse? Or is this article nonsense? Or both?

It's nonsense. Why would you think it was anything else?

There may be one or two actual facts hidden down in among the outgrowth of rubbish, but nothing worth your time.

#93 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 09:53 PM:

Daniel (re the Alabama constitution): my understanding is that the clauses were handled together because they came out of the same impulse; "no right to an education" affirmed that the state could spend money on explicitly segregated "academies" instead of having to give every school district $X/pupil. The fact that it could be demagogued falls somewhere between Greg's discussion of framing and some of the more vigorous comments on Alabama in this thread.

JvP (re link): You're expecting to get an accurate description of the Left from Commentary? You're heading in Gerald Allan's direction. (And if it were entirely or even largely accurate -- there are plenty of Lefties who still believe that "free speech" doesn't come with "if I agree with it" as a modifier; cf the ACLU defending the right of Nazis to parade in a Jewish suburb. There are even some who figure that the best way to expose evil ideas is to let them collapse under their own absurdities instead of trying to suppress them.)

Teresa to Xopher (re barbarians): an even more blatant example is the Mongols; they terrified much of Asia, but were swallowed when they made the mistake of "conquering" China. Sometimes the barbarians lose even when they win. I suspect the author of that quote was thinking of the fall of Rome, and possibly thinking very simplistically.

#94 ::: Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 09:56 PM:

Calling these guys (Dubya, Allen, et al.) "morons" is both counterproductive and inaccurate -- as well as insulting to real morons. A real moron can't help being one. These guys are ignoramuses -- people who COULD know things but who won't learn. As far as I'm concerned, that's far worse than just being not very bright.

#95 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 10:10 PM:

Yonmei and CHip:

Thank you. I think that too much time on a University campus may have worn out my BS-detector. Fortunately, I have sensible people to ask. Thank you again!

#96 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 10:41 PM:

I almost forgot -- those who deny that gender is purely a matter of choice may be very insecure that maybe it really is a matter of choice, and they have not chosen wisely. Let this dialog of two great philosphers illuminate the thesis:

Ralph: "Norton, I'll tell you what Alice did. She put two potatoes on the table -- a big one and a small one -- and then she took the big one!"

Norton: "What would you have done?"

Ralph: "Well -- I'd have taken the small one."

Norton: "You got the small one."

Any speculations on Honeymooners slash belongs on the Squick and Squee thread...

#97 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 12:37 AM:

Xopher, a description is not a value. A value is something people stand "for" and out of that comes the description. There is a value underneath all the stuff you're describing around "separation of church and state" and "pursuit of happiness". But SOCAS isn't "for" the value, it is against the value it trumps. And while POH is part of teh value you're describing, it isn't all of it.

It's not that I'm looking for a catch-phrase, it's that I'm looking for the value you're standing FOR when you said all the stuff you said.

The "Right to Read" is a value. It stands for something, rather than just standing against mixing religion w/ government.

The way I understand framing is that you have to say what you are FOR so that those in the middle can come to your point of view. It gives them an "honorable out" in the sense that before they were for Gerald's crusade for "common sense" and now you give them something bigger to stand for.

So, I'm not looking for a catch phrase. you're talking around a value that you stand for, but you haven't actually come out and said it. Or at least not all of it yet. Happiness is part of it. Perhaps individuality is in there too.

#98 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 12:51 AM:

Well, considering how we librarians like to count Cassanova and Mao as members of the profession, I'm not sure we can disavow Laura Bush so easily. Librarianship does attract some very conservative types, even now.

Anyway, it seems clear to me why a bag of hammers would be dumb.

(Though I've heard it as "dumber than a bag of broken hammer handles", myself)

But the point is; one hammer is useful and a good thing. But a bagful? That's dumb. Overkill, heavy, full of pointy buts, impossible to carry, all of that. And two bags? Ludicrous. The metaphor works with other tools, too. Think of it: "dumb as a sack of saws" or "stupid as a jar of power drills".

So the question is, is this guy a bag of hammers? Or just a single, very nasty one?

#99 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 01:05 AM:

I've always heard it as "dumber than a box of rocks," which has the advantage of being alliterative.

#100 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 01:09 AM:

Dan said: "Though not explicitly related to this case, John Holbo has a brilliant idea concerning a rhetorical frame."

Thank you a thousand times over for that link! It is brilliant! It perfectly counters accusations of liberal "elitism." In retrospect, it is such an obvious label: totally accurate, pinpoints precisely the hypocrisy inherent in their position, and it is semiotically cursed! (No one likes moral superiors!) Moreover, it will stick in people's minds like glue--ever since the success of the Moral Majority, the Republicans have been working day and night to link "morals" and "republican" in people's minds. And now it's all turned on its head with a single phrase! *cackles gleefully*

And see how it plays perfectly into Greg's use of "Fairness" as a liberal metaframe? It implies that the republicans aren't being fair, claiming morality as their own creation. At the same time, it avoids sounding like a whiny little schoolboy, complaining to teacher. Target them where they appear to be strongest. Make their strengths into weaknesses. That is what they have done to us. Now it is our turn. I'm going to start using this today.

#101 ::: Rebecca Borgstrom ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 06:47 AM:

I have been thinking a lot about framing, in response to this thread.

I have mostly concluded that I actively dislike doing it and so haven't finished most of those thoughts. ^_^

But reading Greg London's persistent request to Xopher for underlying values, it occured to me that I do have one to offer. It doesn't trump much, but it's there.

People are good. You should assume people are good. Object to abortion if you want, but you don't get to start your argument by assuming the women who do it are sinful degenerates. Object to gay marriage if you want, but remember that gay people are good. You don't get to call the rich evil, the elite evil, even the people in jail for horrible things evil.

People who point out that everyone's sinful and bad are doing so 'cause they're proud, arrogant, vain, envious, wrathful, and greedy. So I'm pro-good. I think we should assume everyone is good and has value.

. . . I don't think it's a very useful frame. But it's a positive value underlying an awful lot of the ideals that Puritans do not hold.


#102 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 11:13 AM:


Lakoff presents framing as finding language that expresses an issue to fit in your worldview.

He talks about the conservative world view as the "Strict Father Model", that people are basically bad and need strict discipline from a father (i.e. the government) to do the right thing. Lakoff talks about the progressive world view as the "Nuturing Parent Model", that people are basically good, and that they just need the freedom to explore and learn to figure out the right thing to do on their own.

So, you've framed the issue dead on into the progressive worldview. It could be made more specific to this particular book burying issue, though.

If you take some phrases like "right to read", "right to learn", "people are good", "we don't need to be protected from ideas", throw them in a progressive blender, then you might get a drink that tastes something like this:

We shouldn't hide facts, history, and ideas from children (all people) simply because of what the authors of those ideas did in the privacy of their own bedroom.

This zealous campaign would require that we bury all of Plato's works, his ideas, his philosophies, because of the man's sex life.

Plato was the example I came up with in the moment. Someone from current times who is gay and has had a positive influence on the world would probably be a better pick for the frame.

But that would be one way to frame this nonsense. The guy interviewing Gerald in the article asked about shakespeare and Gerald backpedaled because of the same reason. Poeple don't want to lose shakespeare because of Gerald's homophobic campaign. He knows it, so he backed off on Shakespeare.

That is his weak point. And though some here have suggested that Alabama wouldn't mind losing shakespeare, I think that if you really show it in the light of what you lose if you exclude the works, ideas, facts, and contributions of ALL gays, then you suddenly see a fairly large empty hole.

#103 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 01:23 PM:

People who are supposed to be educated can be qually stupid. What follows is a redacted email that I sent this morning.

Dear Faculty Dean ******,

This week, I gave you, at your request, a color copy of my cover article in the January 2000 issue of IEEE Computer Magazine. That lavishly illustrated cover story, which earned me several thousand dollars, was on a relationship between computer technology and the literature of Science Fiction.

That was one of several cover stories that I have been well-paid to write for magazines of large circulations. I remind you that my wife and I are professional authors.

You have shown an extraordinary bias towards Dean **** *******, whom you describe as "fair" when virtually everyone else in staff, faculty, and administrative appointments knows otherwise. Thus you have not only failed to solve an acute problem, but actually made it worse by delay.

One of the few good ideas ever put forth by Dean ******* is that curriculum development in Natural Sciences and Mathematics should involve the notion that Woodbury University is a Liberal Arts College. There is merit to this, as supported by a report from AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). It is, however, beyond the abilities of Dean ******* and her horrible henchman *** *******, Ed.D., to implement. This is because it takes someone with a professional ability in BOTH Liberal Arts AND Natural Sciences and Mathematics to devise such a curriculum. My wife and I, as highly published authors and highly respected scientists, qualify, and are both needed for the good of the department and the university.

Allow me, to continue in this vein of constructive criticism, to quote from an eminent authority.

from "The Influence of Newtonian Mathematics on
Literature and Aesthetics" by Morris Kline,
Mathematics Magazine, Vol.28, No.2 (Nov-Dec 1954), 95:

Dryden went so far as to declare: "A man should be learned in several sciences, and should have a reasonable, philosophical and in some measure, a mathematical head to be a complete and excellent poet...."

Young America also fell under the new influences.

"We do not listen with the best regard to the verses of a man who is only a poet, nor to his problems if he is only an algebraist; but if a man is at once acquainted with the geometric foundation of things and with their festal splendor, his poetry is exact and his arithmetic musical."

This from Emerson.

The works of the outstanding mathematicians were set up as literary models by the eighteenth century. Descartes' style was extolled for its clarity, neatness, readibility, and perspcuity, and Cartesianism became a style as well as a philosophy. The elegance and rationality of Pascal's manner, especially in his Lettres Provinciales, were hailed as superb elements of liteary style. Writers in almost all fields began to ape as closely as their subject matter permitted the works of Descartes, Pascal,
Huygens, Galileo, and Newton.

Dr. ******, I commend to you the book "Mathematics in Western Culture" by Morris Kline, Oxford University Press, 1953, 472 pp., $7.50.

Although you have failed to appreciate the severe damage that ****** and ****** have done to my family, their students, the personnel of Woodbury, and the student body, you may be able to set your unwillingness or inability to deal with those two, and rather consider in the abstract the benefits of having a Dean of Arts & Humanities who has some understanding of Science and Mathematics, and a Dean of Science and Mathematics who is literate.

I have recently re-read C.P. Snow's "The Two Cultures." It would be a tragic mistake for Woodbury to continue further down the path of a tyrannical arbitrary capricious nonscientist making science policy, and a virtually illiterate Chairman crudely enforcing these dictats by abusing the two faculty on campus best equipped to make progress.

Best of the holiday season,


Jonathan Vos Post
Adjunct Professor of Mathematics,
Woodbury University
former Adjunct Professor of Astronomy,
Cypress College
Faculty Pool, Computer Science,
California State University, Los Angeles
Faculty Pool, English Composition,
Pasadena City College

#104 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 01:40 PM:

Teresa, I had in mind heirarchical dominator cultures. You know, like the Indo-Europeans. I wasn't speaking of cultural complexity, and I certainly didn't think of Rome (a heirarchical aggressive dominator culture if ever there was one) on the "civilized" side. Everyone thinks of it as civilized, I'll grant. But they were barbarians compared to the cultures that existed in Europe prior to the Indo-European expansion.

Where are they now? They've all been destroyed. To the extent that there are non-Dominator cultures left in the world, it's because they've been hidden in out-of-the-way places. And they're getting pushed out fast.

Greg: OK, values: Being True To One's Own Nature. (I hesitate to say "finding your true will," but it amounts to that.) Art Is More Important Than The Individuals Who Create It. Challenging Your Worldview On A Regular Basis Is Good. Nothing Is As Simple As You'd Like -- Deal With It, Don't Hide From It.

Do you think those qualify as Values? If not, can you suggest what the underlying values might be?

Linkmeister, your phrase rhymes, but AFAICT is completely free of alliteration.

Rebecca, I definitely like it. And how about "...and you're no better than they are," with an optional " the eyes of God"?

Greg again, I think it was Mel Brooks who said "Without Jews, Fags, and Gypsies, there IS no theatre!" I wonder how many people "just love Cats," and have no idea how many gay people were involved in it. They're bloody damn hypocrites, that's what pisses me off.

#105 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 01:49 PM:

JVP: Way to poke someone with a rhetorical stick.

#106 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 02:09 PM:

Bill Blum:

Thanks. Though poking a tiger with a stick is something that children shouldn't try.

Back to the actual thread topic, I recast the old oedipal Reader's Digest joke as follows.

Author sends editor of widely circulated magazine an article entitled "Gerald Allen is Stupider than Dirt."

The editor returns the manuscript with a rejection slip, boxes checked "too political" and "opinion rather than fact."

Author submits the identical piece to the identical editor, but retitled "Gerald Allen is Stupider than Dirt -- for Homeland Security."

This gets a respectful full-page rejection letter from the editor, admitting that the article is professional in caliber, and of possible interest to a segment of the magazine's readership, yet perhaps not in focus with the deepest interests of those readers.

Author sends the identical manuscript to the identical editor, with another title change. Snailmail a few days later contains a contract and an estimated publishing date, with this note:

"The entire editorial staff applauds your brilliant article, which we will run as the cover story: 'Gerald Allen is Stupider than Dirt -- for Homeland Security -- and Found God!'"

#107 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 03:58 PM:

If gay scenes are to be censored, then you must censor Shakespeare.

When my ninth grade class read Romeo and Juliet, we got an expurgated version. I happened to have an unexpurgated (and annotated!) version, and had great fun undermining class discipline by explaining the naughty imagery to my classmates.

My point being only that censoring Shakespeare would be nothing new.

#108 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 04:41 PM:

Apology for length of this post, but I find it VERY hard to cut out Shakespeare's verses. I have compressed as much as possible, to bring you the Hand/Prick/Clock one-act version...


I'm fond of the Romeo & Juliet line:

MERCUTIO: 'Tis no less, I tell you, for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon."

This is not slash, but High Literature indeed, because of the way that Shakespeare has emphasized "Hand" and "clock" and "rest" throughout, i.e.

ROMEO [To a Servingman]: What lady is that, which doth enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?...

The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessed my rude hand.

If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.

See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

At what o'clock to-morrow
Shall I send to thee?

'Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone:
And yet no further than a wanton's bird;
Who lets it hop a little from her hand,
Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
And with a silk thread plucks it back again,
So loving-jealous of his liberty.

More than prince of cats, I can tell you. O, he is
the courageous captain of compliments. He fights as
you sing prick-song, keeps time, distance, and
proportion; rests me his minim rest, one, two, and
the third in your bosom: the very butcher of a silk
button, a duellist, a duellist; a gentleman of the
very first house, of the first and second cause:
ah, the immortal passado! the punto reverso! The hai!
["prick-song" would never pass Gerald Allen's lips]

The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse;
In half an hour she promised to return.
Perchance she cannot meet him: that's not so.
O, she is lame! love's heralds should be thoughts,
Which ten times faster glide than the sun's beams
[the last line a Hard SF reference to Faster Than Light spacecraft, because we all know that Shakespeare was a Time Traveler, right?]

Well, you have made a simple choice; you know not
how to choose a man: Romeo! no, not he; though his
face be better than any man's, yet his leg excels
all men's; and for a hand, and a foot, and a body,
though they be not to be talked on, yet they are
past compare: he is not the flower of courtesy,
but, I'll warrant him, as gentle as a lamb. Go thy
ways, wench; serve God...

Tybalt, here slain, whom Romeo's hand did slay
And, with a martial scorn, with one hand beats
Cold death aside...

O God! did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood?

Father, what news? what is the prince's doom?
What sorrow craves acquaintance at my hand,
That I yet know not?

'Tis torture, and not mercy: heaven is here,
Where Juliet lives; and every cat and dog
And little mouse, every unworthy thing,
Live here in heaven and may look on her;
But Romeo may not: more validity,
More honourable state, more courtship lives
In carrion-flies than Romeo: they my seize
On the white wonder of dear Juliet's hand
And steal immortal blessing from her lips,
Who even in pure and vestal modesty,
Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin;
But Romeo may not; he is banished:
Flies may do this, but I from this must fly:
They are free men, but I am banished.

As if that name,
Shot from the deadly level of a gun,
Did murder her; as that name's cursed hand
Murder'd her kinsman. O, tell me, friar, tell me,
In what vile part of this anatomy
Doth my name lodge? tell me, that I may sack
The hateful mansion.

Hold thy desperate hand:
Art thou a man? thy form cries out thou art:
Thy tears are womanish; thy wild acts denote
The unreasonable fury of a beast:
Unseemly woman in a seeming man!
[whoops, that line would also offend Gerald Allen]

Go hence; good night; and here stands all your state:
Either be gone before the watch be set,
Or by the break of day disguised from hence:
Sojourn in Mantua; I'll find out your man,
And he shall signify from time to time
Every good hap to you that chances here:
Give me thy hand; 'tis late: farewell; good night.

Graze where you will you shall not house with me:
Look to't, think on't, I do not use to jest.
Thursday is near; lay hand on heart, advise:

Tell me not, friar, that thou hear'st of this,
Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it:
If, in thy wisdom, thou canst give no help,
Do thou but call my resolution wise,
And with this knife I'll help it presently.
God join'd my heart and Romeo's, thou our hands;
And ere this hand, by thee to Romeo seal'd,
Shall be the label to another deed,
Or my true heart with treacherous revolt
Turn to another, this shall slay them both...

Come, stir, stir, stir! the second cock hath crow'd,
The curfew-bell hath rung, 'tis three o'clock...

If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep,
My dreams presage some joyful news at hand...

ROMEO: ...
Said he not so? or did I dream it so?
Or am I mad, hearing him talk of Juliet,
To think it was so? O, give me thy hand,
One writ with me in sour misfortune's book!
O, what more favour can I do to thee,
Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain
To sunder his that was thine enemy?

What's here? a cup, closed in my true love's hand?
Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end...

O brother Montague, give me thy hand:
This is my daughter's jointure, for no more
Can I demand.

This is as great as Literature gets, but the monster Gerald Allen would throw it in the fire, to burn away the little dirty jokes. This must not stand!


Many years ago, I read a short science-fiction story titled "Roads." The story was in a soft cover science fiction/fantasy anthology. It was a story of Claus the Barbarian who through several encounters with Jesus along various roads, eventually became Santa Claus. The first encounter was on the road to Jerusalem where Claus saves Joseph, Mary and the unborn Jesus from a gang of ruthless robbers. Do you know where I could get a copy of the story or additional information such as author or magazine in which it appeared? Thanks much for any assistance you can provide.

Tom Nickas

#109 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 06:06 PM:

Wrye, there are lots of different kinds of hammers and you use them for different things. I have five different kinds of hammers.

#110 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 09:42 PM:

"As great as Literature gets"? I dunno - I always felt R&J lost something after the third act, with no Mercutio and old Will remembering he was doing a Tragedy. It plods a bit for me in the last third-to-half, and I bet it does for ninth-graders too. If I were God-Emperor of the world, the curriculum would start right off with Twelfth Night - but, then, that's about as queer as Elizabethan drama gets without getting an eyeful of twelvepenny.

#111 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 10:26 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy:

Several good points raised. Having Mercutio, the most interesting character, suddenly a grave man, must have been as shocking to the groundlings and aristocrats alike as when Hitchcock has the apparent protagonist of "Psycho" knifed in the shower.

How good the play is depends on the acting and direction, of course. I've seen exciting versions of "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and boring stagings of Macbeth. I've seen the best Othello of our time, with Darth Vader as Othello, and Anthony Zerbe as Iago. I was stunned by the Joseph Papp "Hamlet." And so forth.

"Twelfth Night" is awfully good fun. I have a no-longer-secret weakness of "A Winter's Tale."

I'd love to see all 3 parts of "Henry VIII" -- say over a weekend at Ashland. I can debate with wife and son the merits of the hyperkinetic Mel Gibson "Passion of the Hamlet."

I've had my "Raymond Chandler's Hamlet" republished in a textbook, and still looking to sell "Hamlet at the Bat."

Beowulf and Chaucer and Shakespeare and Milton and so many others at the very core of English Literature must be defended against the know-nothing book-burners. We cannot yield an inch, not on a single play nor poem, not for a single line. Nor should we yield to Politically Correct attacks on the antisemitic sterotypes in "Mecrhant of Venice" or anywhere else, to anyone.

You'll take away my Canon when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.

#112 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 11:29 PM:

Xopher: Do you think those qualify as Values? If not, can you suggest what the underlying values might be?

Being True To One's Own Nature. (I hesitate to say "finding your true will," but it amounts to that.)

I'd call that a value

Art Is More Important Than The Individuals Who Create It.

I think that one isn't a value as it is. I would say a value reflects the human relationship between people or the way the person relates to themselves. If I had to try and point to a value it might be "judge art by the contribution it makes to the public, not by the private life of its creator"

That's not quite it, but I'm pressed for time.

Challenging Your Worldview On A Regular Basis Is Good.

yeah. education is a value.

Nothing Is As Simple As You'd Like

not a value, though there might be an underlying value around education.

Deal With It,

A command isn't a value.

Don't Hide From It.

no. but "Openness" might be underneath it.

gotta go. more later.

#113 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2004, 11:58 PM:

OK, here's a framing for ya:

Seems to me that the self-appointed moral overlords are seeking to prevent schoolchildren from having the sort of classical education that many of the early US Presidents got. Shakespeare and Plato were standard back then, but I guess some people just want to crusade against traditional texts. It was good enough for Thomas Jefferson, but it's not good enough for the Republicans - and they want YOUR children to suffer.

Your children's education is precious; don't let the self-appointed moral overlords steal it from them.

(I think that's what it boils down to, that last sentence.)

#114 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 12:06 AM:

Keep asking them, "Why are you anti-education?" Ask them why are you trying to throw out Shakespeare and Plato - and if they say they're not trying to throw out those two, then ask why they insult the American people with such hypocrisy, when their own proposal says blah blah blah. Refer to them as "the book-buryers." Repeatedly. Call for people to defend our schools. Ask if the reason the Republican elitists want to destroy public schooling is because all of their kids go to non-public schools - and then ask them why they want to skim tax money to hand over to the private schools, the elitist schools where their children go. Make them have to defend against that every time the issue comes up - and keep bringing it up. America is about the freedom to learn; ask them why they are attacking America.

#115 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 12:42 AM:

xopher, you're right; alliteration sorely lacking. I plead a cup of coffee less than usual at the time.

#116 ::: Hugo ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 01:30 AM:

Wait a minute: if that oft-repeated statistic about how 22 per cent of the electorate believe that moral values are the most important things to vote for, then what about the 78 per cent who, presumably, AREN'T so preoccupied with The abomination of gay marriage and the rapture and all that rot?

#117 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 01:55 AM:

Well, if an exit pollster had asked ME if 'moral values' were the most important thing about this last election, it's likely that I would have said "yes", too.

Of course, by 'moral values' I would have taken the question to be about things like being against torture, against launching wars of aggression, against regressive tax policies, etc., etc.

I would be interested in seeing how those polls were worded.

And this goes back to the 'framing' question: how did it come to pass that various forms of bigotry now get summarized as 'moral values'?

#118 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 02:30 AM:

'Heart of Dixie' Gone From License Plates
Sat Dec 11, 3:16 PM ET U.S. National - AP
By PHILLIP RAWLS, Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The state slogan "Heart of Dixie," a source of pride to some and embarrassment to others, is disappearing from more Alabama license plates every year.

One-third of the groups that promote distinctive and collegiate license plates now choose to leave the slogan off their tags.

The standard state license plate still has "Heart of Dixie," as required by state law, but it's reduced to letters one-sixteenth of an inch high, printed on a bottom corner...

So, Making Light activists, never give up! Never surrender! Even Alabama can be transformed. Let's work on Gerald Allen. If people can be embarassed over a license plate slogan, surely they can be shamed about book-burners.

#119 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 11:24 AM:

To quote: liberal libarians and trendy teachers

I'm starting to want to beat every alliterating politico and wonk on sight.

I somehow think that I would bag 100% ultra-right wingers.

Is it something in the water or what? I've yet to year anyone on the left or even any moderate alliterate.

(And why was criticism and protest of Bush the First never called Bush-bashing?)

#120 ::: Sharon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 12:36 PM:

Linkmeister, Xopher:

With regard to
I've always heard it as "dumber than a box of rocks," which has the advantage of being alliterative.
not alliteration, but consonance, yes?

#121 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Sharon, I'll take it. I knew the form had some description. Grins.

#122 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Just saw the last few minutes of a A/E biography on Benajamin Franklin. Jefferson wrote a draft of teh constitution that went "We hold these truths to be sacred". Franklin crossed out 'sacred' and changed it to 'self-evident'. Apparently he thought that morals can be developed from humanity without depending on any particular religion or dogma.

There's a frame behind Ben's attitude that would break the "Homosexuality => sin" link in a heartbeat.

Not sure what the language is, but its in tehre somewhere.

#123 ::: Jon Travaglia ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 12:01 AM:

Reframing the argument:

Free speech would seem to be the obvious counter value to use. It could be used to back up the claim that Allen's arguments can apply to most classic literature (in one way or another). While there are no doubt some people who think free speech is more trouble than it's worth, and that the high school curriculum would be better off without dangerous liberals like Plato and Shakespeare, I'd like to think that they're a small minority. Plus against those people you get to use the argument someone mentioned above, "Who made you the moral elite?"

Someone else noted earlier that here in New Zealand they legalised civil unions between same sex partners last week. While this was great step, I had the misfortune this Saturday to attend a wedding where the minister took the opportunity to go on a ten minute rant about how gay marriage opens the door for legalisation of pedophilia...

These nutcases are everywhere, and no matter what you do, they're not going to quiet down for a long long time.

#124 ::: Pete Butler ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 04:55 PM:

coln: Are two bags of hammers dumber than one bag of hammers? The proposition seems logically questionable.

Hammer intelligence is homeopathic. The more of them you add, the dumber they get; two bags of hammers are, collectively, half as smart as a single bag.

Conversely, a single hammer is a genius. I owe my entire college career to the "lucky hammer" I snuck into all my tests.

I named him "Smashy."

#125 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 05:47 PM:

About the John Holbo essay: I like it, except that I have a grammatically-based quibble. If you call them "moral superiors," that implies that they are in fact superior to us. What we should be calling them is "the morally superior," or in the vernacular, "people who think they're better than us."

#126 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 06:19 PM:

Conversely, a single hammer is a genius. I owe my entire college career to the "lucky hammer" I snuck into all my tests.

Smashy the Maccabee? Of course, sometimes they're evil geniuses, like Maxwell's silver hammer.

#127 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2004, 06:45 PM:

Andy Perrin:

"...evil geniuses, like Maxwell's silver hammer."

You know, with a negative sign in Maxwell's Equations. As to smart versus stupid, that's all about advanced waves versus retarded waves, right?

Q: Why did Feynman [and John Cramer] consider retarded waves moving backwards in time? Because he wanted to be Bopp.

#128 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 02:32 PM:

The philosophical argument for exactly WHY Gerald Allen is stupider than dirt is far from stupid:

"Why I Am Not A Christian," by Bertrand Russell
[Russell delivered this lecture on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society, South London Branch, at Battersea Town Hall. Published in pamphlet form in that same year, the essay subsequently achieved new fame with Paul Edwards' edition of Russell's book, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays ... (1957)]:

"Kant... invented a new moral argument for the existence of God, and that in varying forms was extremely popular during the nineteenth century. It has all sorts of forms. One form is to say there would be no right or wrong unless God existed. I am not for the moment concerned with whether there is a difference between right and wrong, or whether there is not: that is another question. The point I am concerned with is that, if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, then you are in this situation: Is that difference due to God's fiat or is it not? If it is due to God's fiat, then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong have some meaning which is independent of God's fiat, because God's fiats are good and not bad independently of the mere fact that he made them. If you are going to say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God. You could, of course, if you liked, say that there was a superior deity who gave orders to the God that made this world, or could take up the line that some of the gnostics took up -- a line which I often thought was a very plausible one -- that as a matter of fact this world that we know was made by the devil at a moment when God was not looking. There is a good deal to be said for that, and I am not concerned to refute it. "

#129 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2005, 10:03 AM:

Several throwaway comments.

Re: bags of hammers: "If I had a hammer, I'd hammer all over the land."

I can't help thinking of Tom Lehrer's line "We'll try to stay serene and calm/ When Alabama gets the Bomb"

As for Jefferson's frame, it's simply one of Enlightened Self-Interest. (Quick summary: the best deals are ones that satisfy all parties)

#130 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2005, 04:54 AM:

The first thing this reminded me of was the fact that I have still not read Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. That's probably a bad thing, so, thank you Gerald Allen for reminding me.

#131 ::: Xopher finds comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2005, 11:18 AM:

This one isn't even trying.

#132 ::: Just me ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2005, 11:08 AM:

I hate it when a politician says something stupid.

The reason I hate it is that people on the other side start saying things even stupider.

#133 ::: Frank ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2006, 09:56 PM:

Huh? Whuzzat? You hate Christians?
who cares

#134 ::: Jenny Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2006, 06:49 AM:

I'm not a Christian or a Satanist but I am a bit evil--I used to love to point out to would be Satanists that they must believe in God to be a Satanist...really pissed em off.
And I'm mean to the Christians too...when they find I'm an atheist they want to know where we meet (?) I'm like, atheism isn't a religion (stupid) there's no meet up and planning session it's a system of not belonging to a system...they don't get it at all...they often want to know if I believe in the devil and I remind them that atheist means NO deities--even the bad ones--they are the ones who believe in angels, devils, witches, demons, cherubs, gods and burning bushes. All that sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo to me and I'd as likely believe in flying monkeys--heck they may believe in flying monkeys!

Anti gay people are like that kind of--they think gay people are having secret meetings somewhere to think up ways to convert others to gayness. Me thinks the protestors might be a bit afraid of being around gays because somewhere inside...

#135 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2013, 10:26 PM:

Well! That was bizarre!

A non-sequitur comment in a thread that's been silent for seven years, from a first-time poster whose name doesn't seem, somehow, real....

But the comment doesn't include a commercial link, nor is it one of 1,000,000 identical copies plastered all over the 'Net.

Hey there, Although: What does the word "this" refer to in your #135?

#136 ::: thomas sees interesting spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2013, 11:14 PM:

The follow-up from a different first-time user must be dispositive, though.

#137 ::: Tom Whitmore sees a third spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2013, 11:34 PM:

Wow -- maybe they're getting better at individualizing? And it's an odd thread for this, too.

#138 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2013, 11:42 PM:

Yep. This is looking a lot more like spam. A real pattern is developing.

And the linked-to site a bit farther down in the thread is a splog.

So... farewell, our new friend!

#139 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 12:30 AM:

Individualized spam probe, not extinguished, followed by spam with payload? Is that what happened here?

#140 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2013, 12:33 AM:

I'll need more samples to see if this is a new trend in spamming, Xopher, but ... yeah. Looks very much like what was going on.

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