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June 28, 2009

40 years after Stonewall, still second-class citizens

Op-Ed Columnist - 40 Years Later, Still Second-Class Americans - NYTimes.com
. . . It was typical of my generation, like others before and after, that the issue of gay civil rights wasn’t on our radar screen. Not least because gay people, fearful of harassment, violence and arrest, were often forced into the shadows. As David Carter writes in his book “Stonewall,” at the end of the 1960s homosexual sex was still illegal in every state but Illinois. It was a crime punishable by castration in seven states. No laws — federal, state or local — protected gay people from being denied jobs or housing. If a homosexual character appeared in a movie, his life ended with either murder or suicide. The younger gay men — and scattered women — who acted up at the Stonewall on those early summer nights in 1969 had little in common with their contemporaries in the front-page political movements of the time. They often lived on the streets, having been thrown out of their blue-collar homes by their families before they finished high school. They migrated to the Village because they’d heard it was one American neighborhood where it was safe to be who they were.

MJ legacy prompts knife-fight between middle-aged busriders

Michael Jackson's death sparks bus brawl - Yahoo! News
MIAMI (Reuters) – A fight broke out on a Florida bus when news of Michael Jackson's death sparked debate over whether he should be remembered as a great musical talent, and one passenger was charged with assault, police said on Friday. The bus was moving through the city of North Lauderdale on Thursday when passenger James Kiernan received a text message about Jackson's death on his cell phone, and he read it aloud on the bus, the Broward County Sheriff's Department said. The unidentified bus driver opined that "Michael Jackson should have been in jail long ago," prompting Kiernan, 60, to retort that "the world just lost a great musical talent," the police report said. It said the last remark enraged another passenger, Henry Wideman, who started a swearing match with Kiernan, then pulled out a knife and chased Kiernan down the aisle with it.

June 27, 2009

Boys Beware!

Lawyers, Guns and Money: Beware! An anti-gay PSA from the 50s.
Something worth noting: We often think of anti-gay bigotry as a pre-existing social fact that is, slowly but appreciably, slipping into history. But that's not quite right. Homophobia is, to substantial effect, the product of campaigns of propaganda on the part of political and religious institutions. This is to say that beliefs about the ickiness of homosexuality exist, at least to a degree, because the state took it upon itself to insist that homosexuality was icky. People had to be taught that they found homosexuality repulsive.

June 26, 2009

The Washington Post's last liberal columnist looks back at the Bush years for his final column

White House Watch - White House Watched It's good work.
When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney's lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby's lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles. And while this wasn't as readily apparent until President Obama took office, it's now very clear that the Bush years were all about kicking the can down the road – either ignoring problems or, even worse, creating them and not solving them. This was true of a huge range of issues including the economy, energy, health care, global warming – and of course Iraq and Afghanistan. How did the media cover it all? Not well. Reading pretty much everything that was written about Bush on a daily basis, as I did, one could certainly see the major themes emerging. But by and large, mainstream-media journalism missed the real Bush story for way too long.

Minutemen - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing

I went from really loving Jackson 5 songs to admiring Michael Jackson's Thriller-era talent to despising the cynical cultural project of Jacksonmania that ate my adolescence to sneering at the crazy celebrity to shaking my head at the sick man who would always be the little boy who just wanted to play with other kids instead of getting beaten by Joe when he messed up his dance steps. And that's who I mourn today. The lesson: Despite your child's talent, please respect his or her childhood. Our children are not our children... they are themselves. And I marvel at his influence -- no matter what kind of po-mo hipster you were, you couldn't help but namecheck MJ. YouTube - Minutemen- Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing