Archive for the ‘ Rant ’ Category

Hurry up and fucking die, Fred Phelps

Word on the ‘net is that Fred Phelps, of Westboro Baptist Church fame, is on his deathbed, and dear fag-hating God do I hope it’s true.

He’s an awful person. Like, really awful. Like, remember when they picketed Matthew Shephard’s funeral? Awful. He can’t die fast enough for me, personally, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Fortunately for the world, there are pleasanter, more level-headed people out there, most of whom will take the standard “we shouldn’t be celebrating anybody’s death” line. Which is great. I wish everyone would take that line. But I won’t, and here’s why I’d ask that the level-headed among you please refrain from casting your judgment beams all over those of us who are angry.

Fred Phelps is (hopefully soon it will be “was”) a dick. Since the 90s, his church has been running a crusade of bigotry, of  vulgarity, and of straight up ugly hatred. He has made it his life’s work to make life worse for people who are already struggling. He’s not worth his own weight in pus, let alone the precious oxygen he continues to waste. The world will be a measurably better place once he’s no longer in it. One fewer high profile bigot is nothing to be sniffed at. Not while our children are still killing themselves because of scum like Phelps. So yeah, I’m going to be happy when he dies. I’m going to celebrate. I’d love to picket his funeral, if I wasn’t thousands of kilometres away. And I’m not the only one.

Given the hateful legacy Phelps chose to build for himself, it’s no surprise that people are making comments about picketing his funeral. It is these comments that are most likely to draw the inevitable “that’s exactly what the Westboro Baptist Church would do/you’re just lowering yourself to their level”s. But it’s not the same. It’s not even similar, despite the lazy surface similarities. Yes, they are both the picketing of funerals. But Phelps and the WBC picketed the funerals of soldiers and murdered innocents. We judge people by their actions. Fred Phelps and Matthew Shephard are NOT the same, and I won’t pretend they are. Rejoicing in the death of a monster does NOT make you a monster – it just means you’re not an angel.

Of course people will be happy when Phelps finally kicks it. Because, when you get right down to it, this is the only way society can progress – and we ALL know it. Bigots like Phelps don’t change their minds, and we can’t get rid of them, but Time can.

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Why being “sexuality blind” does not make you an ally

*** Just to be clear – I’m not bashing anyone. This is just an explanation of my feels ***

Hooray! Tom Daley is one of us!

One of who?

Well, one of the gays, right?

Nope, he was pretty clear that he likes girls.

Bisexual, then?

Let’s just leave that for him to decide, mmkay? All he’s done is tell us he’s going out with another guy. There’s already been plenty written about the media’s unnecessary and incorrect mislabelling, all of it far more sensible and coherent than I could have managed. Go check it out.

I’m here for another reason.

Let me just start by saying that I’m so happy for Tom, and that I’m really grateful to him for having the courage to share that part of himself with us. For those of you who haven’t experienced it personally – telling the world you like guys is pretty fucking hard, and for someone with a profile as high as Tom’s he is literally telling the world. Fair play.

Now, onto the meat of the subject. Over the past few hours I’ve seen a great deal of “who cares? It’s his business/sexuality shouldn’t be a big deal”, which is perfect in theory but falls spectacularly short in practice. It’s a problem because “why is this news?” is only a half-step away from “the media are shoving homosexuality down our throats”.

I agree with you 100%, sexuality SHOULDN’T be important; but the undeniable fact of the matter is that it IS. You might think you’re being enlightened by looking over your glasses at people excited by the news and telling them that it doesn’t matter to you, but you’re actually being kind of a jerk. Here’s why:

Sexuality matters. Yeah, it shouldn’t – you’re preaching to the fucking choir. Telling gays that sexuality isn’t important is like telling starving kids that you don’t want to hear about it because everyone should have enough to eat. It’s kind of insulting. See here for a better explanation.

Us gays, we need this. 99% of school children have heard the word “gay” used as an insult. Statistics vary, but young gay people are between three and ten times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. The world still hates us, and it still fucks us up.

Having idols like Tom helps. I can’t even begin to put into words how glad I am that teenagers will have in him a role model who is successful, athletic, and loved. It makes a difference, even if just to let you know that you’re not alone. On this, I’m speaking from experience.

So all you open-minded hetero types, thank you for not judging people by their orientation. Thank you, really, and I wish everyone was like you. For future reference, though, when someone does something as brave as come out (on YouTube, no less) the correct response isn’t “who cares?”, it’s “good for you”.

Good for you, Tom.

Fuck you, Jeremy Irons

I’ll be honest: up until earlier today I didn’t actually know who Jeremy Irons was. I knew he was an actor, but I wouldn’t have been able to pick his face out of a crowd. So yay, I learned something today.

Here’s the video, by the way, of Mr Irons explaining his personal take on the problems associated with marriage equality:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/04/04/jeremy-irons-would-gay-marriage-fathers-marrying-sons-avoid-inheritance-tax-video_n_3012356.html?1365068494

Apparently, while he has “no strong feelings” about the subject, he opposes marriage equality on the basis that it would allow fathers to marry their sons in order to dodge inheritance tax.

Holy. Fucking. Fuck. How can I…? I don’t even…

Here are his top five mistakes (for a two minute clip, five mistakes is not bad going). In no particular order:

  1. Gay or straight, you can’t marry your immediate family. I don’t know how to start finding a reference to back that up, because (just going out on a limb here) I don’t think the issue comes up very often. You know, because most people aren’t idiots.
  2. There’s a bunch of issues with his characterisation of wealth passing down between the men in a family – antifeminist much? Fuck you.
  3. If the whole intergenerational-marriage-for-inheritance thing actually was an issue, it would have come up already in civil partnerships. You know, the civil partnerships that are exactly the same as marriages apart from the name? Methinks you haven’t really thought this through, Jeremy.
  4. The scenario you describe would proscribe both father and son from marrying anyone else until the father dies. I know that some people really love money, but that seems like an unreasonable sacrifice.
  5. Current marriage laws can be abused. Two situations that seem to occur fairly frequently (on TV) are the “marriage for money” and the “marriage for citizenship”. Neither of these are an indictment of hetero-marriage as a whole.

Also I’m pretty sure he just said that if gay marriage is legalised then he personally would consider marrying his own son in order to avoid paying inheritance tax. Re-watch the clip and then take a minute to think about whether or not this man is worth listening to at all.

There are a bunch of other things in that video I’d like to pick apart, but I’m not quite on my A-game today. I didn’t blog at all in March (BAD Jack!), so I might have fallen out of the swing of things. I’ll be back soon, though, and hopefully with something more interesting to say! Thanks for reading 🙂

Julian Brazier on equal marriage

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why marriage equality matters to me, and I said that I hadn’t written to my MP about it. Well, shortly after I’d posted that piece I decided to bite the bullet and email it to my MP (Mr Julian Brazier) after all, despite the fact that it wouldn’t make a difference.

It didn’t make any difference (shockingly), Mr Brazier still voted against equality, but what can you do? He has a lot of constituents to represent, and some of them are probably glad he voted the way he did. He did send me a reply, though, which arrived earlier today:

Dear Mr Lee,

Thank you for your email on the issue of same-sex marriages and for the very evocative picture you painted – I know that it can be very hard for young people to come to terms with their own sexuality and to deal with the reactions of other people to it. This is a contentious issue, which has aroused very strong emotions on both sides.

I will be frank with you that my disagreement with the issue of same-sex marriage is part of a wider disagreement with the current prevailing socio-political philosophy which cuts across so many areas of our national life. My great-grandfather’s younger brother was gay and tragically committed suicide, before I was born, while a student at Oxford, so I have certainly never  supported any form of persecution of gay people.

Basically my position is that I believe that our modern obsession with rights is deeply mistaken and bad for the long term health of society. I am against persecuting people, not because of any concept of rights (plural) but because it isn’t right. I don’t believe that categorising people by their sexuality is meaningful, not least because some people change their sexual preferences at different stages of their lives. There is also the key question – if people are categorised by sexuality, then what about those who, by choice or nature, have no sex life – are they not people too?

In addition, all the legal advice I have heard is that the practical effect of the legislation will be to expose those who are practising Christians  (and other faiths) to legal action if, for example, they are teachers and choose to teach a traditional Christian view of marriage.

I am sorry if I have disappointed you in this. As an MP, I clearly cannot be in agreement with all of my constituents all of the time – I am elected as a representative, not a delegate – but I am always prepared to listen to alternative opinions and to respect the views of those who disagree with me. I do hope that you will be generous enough to do the same.

It was well meaning, I’m sure, but a million miles from perfect. Here are my concerns, laid out neatly for your viewing pleasure:

  1. “Thank you for your email on the issue of same-sex marriages”
    equal marriage.
  2. “I know that it can be very hard for young people to come to terms with their own sexuality and to deal with the reactions of other people to it.”
    – I’m prepared to give the benefit of the doubt here, but the problem isn’t really “how hard it is for young people to deal with the reactions of other people to their sexuality”, it’s the other people’s reactions in the first place. But whatever.
  3. “I will be frank with you that my disagreement with the issue of same-sex marriage”
    equal marriage –
    “is part of a wider disagreement with the current prevailing socio-political philosophy which cuts across so many areas of our national life.”
    – … wut?
  4. “My great-grandfather’s younger brother was gay and tragically committed suicide”
    – since this is about the suicide of a family member I’m not going to make a big deal out of it, but it is pretty much just the “I have gay friends”/”I met a gay person once”/”my sister’s hairdresser goes to the gym with a gay person” fallacy. It doesn’t actually give you any greater credibility on gay issues.
  5. “so I have certainly never supported any form of persecution of gay people.”
    – that’s just a flat out lie. Have a look at his voting record on gay rights (and, tangentially, the legal recognition of trans* people). Not cool.
  6. “I believe that our modern obsession with rights is deeply mistaken and bad for the long term health of society.”
    – that’s because YOU ALREADY HAVE ALL YOUR RIGHTS.
  7. “I am against persecuting people, not because of any concept of rights (plural) but because it isn’t right.”
    – I kinda get what he’s going for here so I’m prepared to cut him some slack, but even if it made sense it still wouldn’t be an excuse for voting against equality.
  8. “I don’t believe that categorising people by their sexuality is meaningful, not least because some people change their sexual preference at different stages of their lives.”
    – … did he just come out to me? I joke, but seriously a surprisingly enlightened view of sexuality here. The problem, unfortunately, is that this is not a discussion about the ins and outs of categorising people by their sexual orientation. It’s a discussion about whether or not two people who love each other, be they hetero/homo/bisexual, have the right to legally marry each other.
  9. “if people are categorised by sexuality, then what about those who, by choice or nature, have no sex life”
    – props to Mr Brazier for repping the asexual community here. Maybe he’s not as bad as I thought? The problem is that A) people who don’t have sex have a category, asexuality, (if they want it) and B) love is actually about more than sex – people who don’t have sex can still be straight/gay/bi and should still have the option of marriage.
  10. “the practical effect of this legislation will be to expose those who are practising Christians (and other faiths) to legal action if, for example, they are teachers and choose to teach a traditional Christian view of marriage.”
    – Ok, firstly: the practical effect of this legislation will be to allow gay couples to get married. The fact that he prioritises the right to discriminate over the right to be treated equally under the law pretty much says it all. Secondly: I genuinely don’t know what he thinks these teachers will be saying. It’s simple: “According to Christian teachings/the Church of England/(insert faith here), marriage is between a man and a woman. British law also allows same-sex couples to marry.” – was that so hard? School is for facts, Brazier.
  11. “I’m sorry if I have disappointed you in this.”
    – you have, a little, but at least you’re sorry about it.
  12. “As an MP, I clearly cannot be in agreement with all of my constituents all of the time”
    – very true, and IMHO a huge problem in British politics, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
  13. “I am always prepared to listen to alternative opinions and to respect the views of those who disagree with me. I do hope that you will be generous enough to do the same.”
    – thanks, but it’s not really just an “agree to disagree” situation, is it? If I walked into your house and said “hey, you’re not allowed to marry the person you love. In my opinion it’s not right, and I’d appreciate it if you could respect that.” you’d probably be pretty pissed off. That’s why this is an issue, Brazier. Quit fighting it. You’re on the wrong side of history, and I think you know it.

Well, thank you for reading. Corrections and constructive criticism are always welcome 🙂 or just leave a comment!

Nineteen Eighty-Four

I’ve been in more than one argument that’s ended with people pointing at me and yelling “1984! 1984!”. I always had a suspicion that the book wasn’t being referenced accurately, and so recently I decided to read it for myself. I found it immensely enjoyable. It’s captivating, chilling, and supremely relevant to the context in which it was written.

I have to admit that history is not my strong point (unfortunate, given that ignorance of history is one of the novel’s central themes) but the current political climate is worlds apart from that of 1940s Europe. As such, I don’t think that Nineteen Eighty-Four can be used to “shine a light” on the actions of modern governments in the way that many people seem to want it to be.

The stereotypical “Nineteen Eighty-Four” comparison arises in discussions on surveillance; be it via CCTV camera, email scanners, or DNA sampling.

I personally couldn’t give a toss. I don’t believe in this “right to privacy” that people are so attached to. In my opinion, there are two problems with a “right to privacy”:

  1. The phrase “right to privacy” is meaningless. What is privacy, and how is it violated? How is it measured? Is a glance enough to violate privacy, or does it have to be a thorough inspection? Does it matter whether you are in a public or private space? Why? Does it matter whether or not you’re aware that you’ve been observed? Why? Does it matter whether the observer is a human or a machine (or a monkey, or a flower, or a ghost)? How far does your “privacy bubble” extend – does it only cover you, or does it cover your property; and if so how long does it cover your property for once you discard it (old laptops, clothes, family photographs etc.)?
  2. Privacy is not a necessary condition for a happy life. The government could have read every single email I’ve ever sent, and there would be no measurable impact on my quality of life. Strangers could walk past my window all day long and I’m pretty sure I’d be OK. I could get caught on CCTV cameras from every single angle, and it wouldn’t hurt me. There are almost infinite situations in which privacy is unnecessary.

I believe in a right not to be humiliated. I believe that there are sets of circumstances where privacy between two or more specific parties is necessary. A teenager might want to keep their browser history private from their family, for example. A job applicant might want to keep their personal life private from their potential employer. I believe that in any situation in which public knowledge of personal details could lead to any measurable harm, privacy should be an option. In a relationship between an individual and a disinterested government, however, why hold back? Yes I would find it a bit weird if there was a camera in my bathroom, recording my lavatorial exploits, but if there were cameras in every bathroom who would care? (Why put a camera in a bathroom?)

The disinterested government is the real issue, not the methods of surveillance used. In Nineteen Eighty-Four the telescreens and hidden microphones are a tool used by a zealously authoritarian government to eliminate the freedoms of its people – and before anyone starts talking about British authoritarianism I’m just going to have to go ahead and point out that the British government does not track down, torture, and murder its citizens for expressing anti-government opinions, talking in their sleep, or having extramarital sex; so it’s not really an accurate comparison now is it?

And THAT is why people who blabber endlessly about Big Brother piss me off. No one is watching you, and no one cares what you’re doing. Even the people who know you don’t care what you’re doing. The government cares even less.

… unless, of course, you’re doing something illegal. Which is an issue that needs a certain amount of discussion. I’m not going to say “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear”, because I hate that argument. It’s unpleasant and accusatory, and not worth the breath used to speak it. Instead, I’d like to address those who are concerned about being caught on CCTV doing something illegal: surely it’s more sensible to protest the illegality of your action, whatever it may be, than the method of detection?

Example:

  1. I want to do X (graffiti, protest, shoplift).
  2. X is illegal.
  3. If I do something illegal, I will get caught and punished.

If you believe that what you’re doing is right, then the problem is at step 2, not at step 3 – if you do away with step 3 you’re hindering the enforcement of all laws. If your problem is with step 3 then fine, you might have legitimate beef with surveillance.

But enough with the Big Brother bullshit! Nineteen Eighty-Four is not a novel about the inherent evil of being watched all the time, and if you sincerely believe it is I suggest you read it again.

I chose to be gay

Ok, no I didn’t. It was a stroke. A stroke turned me gay.

(I know this is a bit late, but I was too busy to write this when the various stories I wanted to discuss were popular.)

Where to begin, where to begin…

After a stroke in 2011, 27 year old Chris Birch woke up gay. A documentary about him was aired on BBC3 in April this year, and the reaction was… mixed. Once reasonable homos were stirred into a fit of pique by this rugby-player-turned-hairdresser’s story.

“He was always gay!” they cried, “He was just in the closet! In denial! Sexuality is rigid and immutable!”

Which is complete and utter bullshit. A few people made the claim that this guy’s story, and any story that implies that sexuality isn’t as black and white as Lady Gaga tells us*, leaves us open to attacks by religious “gay-cure” therapy types. They have a point, albeit a weak one. Any story that shows people transitioning between orientations could potentially fuel the claims of those who believe that gay people can be “converted” into breeders through prayer or electroshock therapy or whateverthefuck it is they do.

The fact of the matter, however, is that sexuality is not that simple – and of all communities, the LGBT community should be supportive of that fact. Many of us have been asked (by parents and friends) if what we’re experiencing could be “just a phase”. Normally it’s not. We are who we are, and all that. But sometimes it is. People experiment. Teenage girls get girlcrushes. Their existence doesn’t threaten ours, but our insistence on denying theirs is both ignorant and disrespectful.

The situation was complicated, of course, by another story that gained publicity around the same time. In early April, the “Core Issues Trust” booked advertising space on London buses for their “reparative therapy” for gay people. Fortunately the ads were considered to be too controversial, and were pulled. People were angered by these adverts, and rightly so. To quote my favourite line from the X-Men films: “They can’t cure us. You want to know why? Because there’s nothin’ to cure. Nothing’s wrong with you. Or any of us, for that matter.”

But why complicate things by saying that change is impossible? Yes, there are heaps of evidence showing that “reparative therapy” doesn’t work. But still, surely, what we should be aiming for is not a denial that people can change but an acceptance of who they are. Saddeningly, the only place I’ve seen this opinion voiced is in (of all places) the Daily Mail. Really, guys? When the Daily Heil’s opinion is more tolerant than yours, you might be doing something wrong.

It’s not a one way street. Sure, we have the “ex-gay” jerks recruiting our most vulnerable members, but there are straighties making the transition to our side too.

Much earlier this year, around the end of January, actor Cynthia Nixon caused controversy when she said in an interview that she’d chosen to be gay. She was widely criticised (by people that I think should know better – read: gay people) for encouraging the bigots who believe that homosexuality is (always?) a choice. This blog post by John Aravosis is a perfect example of how people got it wrong. It’s titled “Actress Cynthia Nixon says it’s a choice to be gay. And she’s wrong.”, and that title itself is so wilfully ignorant it makes me want to cry. NO, Mr Aravosis, she did NOT say that being gay is a choice. She said that SHE CHOSE to be gay. Can you see how those are different?

In an incredibly patronising first paragraph, he explains that “What she means is that she’s bisexual”. And that makes me so fucking angry. If she was bisexual, why wouldn’t she just say “I’m bisexual”? Hey, maybe she’d never heard the word bisexual before. Maybe she just didn’t know what bisexual meant. Or maybe (just maybe) IF SHE WAS BISEXUAL SHE WOULD HAVE SAID THAT SHE WAS FUCKING BISEXUAL.

Here’s my crazy idea. Maybe, juuust maybe, some people do choose to be gay. Or straight, for that matter. Think about it. You know how those right-wingers keep telling us that homosexuality is a choice? Maybe, juuuuuuust maaaaaaybe, for some of them it WAS a choice. Wouldn’t that help to explain why they’re so sure it is? What about political lesbianism? Sure, a lot of people badmouth it, but it must have worked for some people at some point.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would like it if we could start respecting the way other people identify their orientation.

Chris Birch, you were a straighty and now you’re a gayer. I believe you. I’m sorry that so many homos have demeaned your past relationships by telling you that you were just closeted (because they knew how? I don’t even), but welcome to the winning team.

If a girl tells me she chose to be a lesbian, I’m not going to tell her that ACTUALLY she’s “just bisexual” (because that would be patronising and rude and… factually incorrect!), I’m going to give her a cheer, a beer, and all the support she needs.

Whateverrr… leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

*no offence meant. Little Monster and proud.

BREAKING NEWS: Jeremy Clarkson “a twat”

So, you think strikers should be shot (in front of their families)? Apparently so. To be fair, though, I think it’d be quite funny if you were run over by an electric car. We’re none of us perfect, eh?

Yup, that’s right, this week Jeremy Clarkson took time out from his busy schedule of homophobia, racism, and misogyny, to remind us that underneath it all, he’s really just an arsehole.

I know this is like two days late, but screw it. I’ve been busy with like a buttload of uni stuff. I was up until 2am last night finishing the draft of a plan of a blog for one of my favourite modules. It’s pretty awesome that I’m writing a blog as a piece of coursework, but I also have to write about all the theoretical aspects of blogging. That’s not much of a downside though, really, because it’s really quite interesting! I’m going to publish the finished blog here, and I might even talk about the theory stuff too! Wouldn’t that be a treat?

In other news, today is World AIDS Day. I don’t really know what to say about that; HIV/AIDS is a massive problem costing too many lives, and words can’t really sum it up.

There have been some really interesting cases lately, though, reminding me that hope is always on the horizon.

My brain is frazzled lately, like, for reals, so I apologise for the lack of posts and the shoddiness of the posted posts. Love x