• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 291 other followers

  • Blog Stats

    • 324,015 hits

What Turns on a Child Molester? Children. Duh.

(UPDATE BELOW)

The moral masturbators at the Online Bigot Convention have noticed the new Irish report on pedophilia in the Roman Church and are taking their glee in it, quickly transforming their discussion from the bishops’ culpability for covering up hundreds of cases of pedophilic abuse of children into their favorite game, Let’s Blame the Gays. It’s all so predictable, but that doesn’t make it right.

They work themselves into a frenzy by claiming that Gay people are the Cause of It All, even though every professional association of behavioral scientists has found otherwise. Children are more likely to be abused by heterosexual family members.

Faced with this contradiction, the Online Bigots assure each other that they know more about it than psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, social workers and other investigators and clinicians. So don’t disturb them with the facts! They don’t want facts, they want justifications for their sinful prejudice and hate.

Thank God many of them are leaving the Episcopal Church. They set up their own rival church which has been ignored by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and now they’re stuck with their own rump archbishop in Pittsburgh, of all places. I celebrate their failed schism. Let them all parade in purple shirts, the more bishops the merrier. Let them anoint each other and bless each other as one Fred Phelps to another.

They tried to steal the buildings and money, too, and have largely lost in the courts. So they take great delight in having another opportunity to stone Gay men. It helps that this latest criminal child abuse syndicate happens to be foreign, after so much suffering at the hands of Catholic priests in the United States.

I won’t try to detail their convoluted group-think, which is all tangential nonsense while they’re looking for rocks and targets. They’re into God, guns and Gays—and oh yes, did you know the Canadian national health system is terrible and the British system is even worse?

They have various clerics who give them marching orders, while their website tries to become the Anglican Glenn Beck. There’s an audience for that, but it’s all ultimately in the service of neocon militarists like Dick Cheney, Bloody Bill Kristol and the rich people who profit from other people’s misery.

Homosexual priests are not pedophiles, anymore than homosexual men are. American cities are filled with Gay bars that are packed every weekend with men wanting to hook up with other men.

Bottom line: sexually, Gay men are looking for raw, hard masculinity. You can’t get that from a child. You might find a reasonable facsimile from a 16-year-old, but what the hell would you talk about afterwards?

Pedophiles are different. They’re looking to corrupt an innocent child, by using adult power to make a child do what they want. It’s a completely different mindset because it’s a completely different sex drive. Pedophiles don’t care about the gender of the child; it’s age, not gender, that matters to pedophiles.

Pedophilia is criminal and Gay sex is not, according to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 under George W. Bush.

A majority of world nations have no sodomy laws, but the denizens of the Online Bigot Convention don’t get that. They thought that voting for Pat Robertson’s candidate was the beginning of the Second Coming of Christ, who unfortunately failed to show up.

There’s an interesting case of pedophilia in a nearby town—interesting except that it’s so heartbreaking. Some guy in Veedersburg, Indiana allegedly conned his girlfriend, a babysitter, into helping him make child porn, boys and girls both. The oldest victims were pre-pubescent, all the way down to toddlers and infants. A three-year-old girl told her mother, who took her to the cops (and the doctor). The cops raided the house and confiscated the video; it’s the worst abuse the cops have ever seen. The kids are probably damaged for life.

Was the pedophile a homosexual because a couple of boys were involved? No, he’s a pedophile. Age is what matters to him.

It turns out he’s been accused of abusing children before a few miles away in Lebanon, Indiana, but no charges were brought for lack of evidence. Most pedophiles are serial abusers, which brings us to the Roman Catholic Church.

Of all the theories floated by commenters at the Bigot Convention, no one’s managed to come up with my hunch: pedophiles realized a long time ago that the Roman Catholic Church was the perfect cover for their crimes. Get ordained and all of a sudden people look up to you like God, because you’re his spokesman, right? That’s what the Roman Church teaches. A priest is right next to God, because every Sunday he re-enacts the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. So you don’t ever refuse a priest; whatever he tells you to do, you do.

Perfect setup for a criminal, and later for a syndicate. You think pedophiles don’t find each other? They always have, even pre-internet. Then they can trade kids, and pictures of kids. They can cover up for each other.

The new Irish report says that the hierarchy kept moving accused priests around for the sake of the Church’s reputation, and kept covering up in order to secure the Church’s finances. One Archbishop of Dublin stored 5000 documents about pedophile priests in his personal safe. It’s clear that all the bishops knew what they were doing, and why; the Church’s interest is always more important than a person’s, even if there are 400 persons and they’re children.

In the process of all this the Irish hierarchy has destroyed the faith of the Irish people. So what good did it do to “protect the Church’s reputation”?

A powerful institution will crush a human being every time. Now the Church itself is in shambles.

This is what you get when you let a man have too much power—pope, archbishop or Father Joe. Men are sinful. It says that right in my Bible.

Given that the Roman Church insists on a celibate, all-male priesthood, it’s the perfect haven for child molesters.

Other denominations have the occasional problem with this too—the Episcopal Church is defrocking the Bishop of Pennsylvania over it, when the molesting wasn’t his but his brother’s—but the Roman Church has attracted the lion’s share of child-abusing perverts because of its culture and theology. If Father can do no wrong, then kid, you’re stone out of luck.

Meanwhile the archbishop covers it all up and the police look the other way. The priesthood is the ideal place for committing crimes. Centuries ago a priest who committed a terrible crime couldn’t even be tried in civil court; wars had to be fought to fix that. (See Henry II and Thomas Becket.)

Today some Irish victims are calling for the pope to come to Ireland to apologize. I don’t think that’s likely, but it would be a welcome development, not only for the victims and the people who have lost their faith, but because it would be a sign of weakness. The new Irish report details that police investigators got no help whatever from the Vatican. The coverup goes on, and Ireland suffers.

I hope this does destroy the Roman Church there. Perhaps then a few additional voices that really are Christian can be heard. Meanwhile all we have is grief for the children—and a bunch of loudmouth anti-Gay bigots claiming to be Anglican and Blaming It All on Gay Men.

More bombs for Afghanistan, anyone? Gay executions in Anglican Uganda?++

UPDATE: The Lafayette (Ind.) Journal and Courier reports that the female who ran the babysitting service and had sex with babies on video has been sentenced to 125 years in prison.

Baby-sitter gets 125 years for sexual acts with kids

She tearfully refers to herself as ‘a victim, too’

By SOPHIA VORAVONG
svoravong@jconline.com

COVINGTON – A Veedersburg woman who videotaped herself performing sexual acts with children, the youngest less than 2 months old, was sentenced this morning to 125 years in prison.

This came after Samantha L. Light, 26, pleaded guilty in October in Fountain Circuit Court to three counts of child molesting, each a Class A felony.

During today’s hearing, Light tearfully apologized for her actions – claiming that she was coerced by her boyfriend, Stephen E. Quick II. But parents of the victims said afterward that they doubted her sincerity.

“It’s hard. It’s hard to hear it over and over,” said Angela Hayman, Light’s cousin. Her child was molested by Light.

“She’s just as much to blame. She’s just as at fault as he is.”

At the time of Light’s arrest in March, she was running a day care service in her mother’s Veedersburg home, where both she and Quick were living.

The Fountain County Sheriff’s Department began investigating after the mother of a 3-year-old girl in Light’s care contacted police.

According to court documents, among the items investigators recovered at Light and Quick’s home was a videotape containing 90 minutes of footage.

Quick is scheduled to stand trial on Dec. 15.

In her statement to the court, Light called Quick a con artist who manipulated her psychologically. She claimed that Quick threatened to harm her family if she told anyone about the sex acts with children.

Light referred to herself as “a victim, too.”

“On the tape, I may appear happy. I may look like I’m enjoying myself,” she said. “I felt like I was dying inside because I knew how wrong it was.”

The children identified on the videotape were a 2-month-old girl, a 1-year-old boy, a 3-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.

Myself, I’d probably have her shot.++

Catholic Church in Ireland: Rape, Beatings & Cruelty

Pius XII carried aloft as if he were God.

As an Episcopalian I try not to get too upset by the behavior of the Roman hierarchy. But sometimes my blood just boils and in the name of Jesus Christ I have to denounce the pope and all his minions:

By Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press Writer

DUBLIN — Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Dublin covered up decades of child abuse by priests to protect the church’s reputation, an expert commission reported Thursday after a three-year investigation.

Abuse victims welcomed the report on the Dublin Archdiocese’s mishandling of abuse complaints against its parish priests from 1975 to 2004. It followed a parallel report published in May into five decades of rape, beatings and other cruelty committed by Catholic orders of nuns and brothers nationwide in church-run schools, children’s workhouses and orphanages from the 1930s to mid-1990s.

The government said the Dublin investigation “shows clearly that a systemic, calculated perversion of power and trust was visited on helpless and innocent children in the archdiocese.”

I don’t understand why anyone belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. It teaches love and justice for the poor, while raping and beating children. Hello?

Why would any thinking person belong to the Church of Mind Control, Dictatorship, Totalitarianism?

The Church of Rome has been a dictatorship for centuries, and these reports of child abuse have been published for decades; not much new here, just the release of a big new Report from Irish Officialdom. Nuns beating children in workhouses!

It’s straight out of Charles Dickens. But this isn’t 1850, it’s 2009.

All we can do is grieve for those children, and demand justice for the survivors—understanding justice as more than just a payout. The bishops should be publicly flogged, like King Henry II after he murdered Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

I have Catholic friends, and I try not to oppress them for supporting a church that is evil. Confronting them doesn’t do any good or change any minds; people have a right to their beliefs. If you press them they all mouth a rationalization taught by the priests: “The People are the Church, the hierarchy isn’t.” That’s self-evident. Then they continue to pay the hierarchy!

This is exactly what led to the Protestant Reformation: thieving, abusive priests.

And though the Church of England has its own black history, and with it the Episcopal Church to which I belong, getting rid of the Pope has led to enormous reform.

St. Peter would never have tolerated any of this violence. The Church of Rome is repulsive to God.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

This is a horrible tragedy, not only to the victims but universally; the theology of the Catholic Church is overwhelmingly beautiful and good. We need that today as much as ever.

So how did popes go so wrong? They created an evil organization in the name of the One Who Is Good. That couldn’t have been their intention; what caused this deadly reversal?

Several things: Christianity’s own success. The fall of the Roman Empire left a vacuum only the Church could fill. It was the Church that organized emergency feedings, the keeping of public order, the defense of cities and citizens. It was the Church that persuaded the wealthy to part with their money in the name of God.

But in the process the Church itself became completely corrupt, and remains so to this day. The Irish nuns who beat the workhouse children were trying to get more production out of them, in the name of some holy cause.

The Church became the center of learning; it attracted intellectuals and created universities, the Sorbonne, Oxford and others. The Church became a place to get ahead.

The popes acquired lands, benefices, wealth. Ascetic monks turned into CEOs.

And the Church liked all this, for the supposed glory of God. The current pope wears Prada shoes.

Do you remember when the pope was carried aloft in a chair? The Romans don’t do that anymore, it’s too grotesque an image for TV to see some jerk acclaimed as the “Holy Father,” but the culture of papal worship is still there—and encouraged by ridiculous assertions of supremacy and infallibility.

I wonder why my Catholic friends put up with it. They almost never read the Bible, but even they’ve heard that “The love of money is the root of all evil.” And the pope loves his money, grand food, beautiful gowns, stunning cathedrals. He lives his life surrounded by the greatest art the world has ever produced, with thousands of courtiers eager to kiss his ring.

I forgive my friends, they were born into the faith and told they must never leave it at pain of their immortal souls. So they continue to give money and fealty to a man who does not poop vanilla ice cream.

I am so glad for the English Reformation, especially as it’s developed in the Episcopal and Canadian Churches.

My Church, both Catholic and Reformed, has slowly learned after glories and degradations to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s taken centuries, but that’s the real News that’s very, very Good.

The same thing has happened and is happening in other Reformed churches, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, some Baptists, the Disciples, evidence is all around us if we look.

I desperately wish the same thing would happen to the Romans, but it cannot as long as the pope is exalted. He is the world’s leading homophobe, the world’s worst child abuser, the most despicable sexist, a warmonger.

Pro-life, papa? If only it were that simple.

The pope needs to learn humility, which he can’t do while paraded around in a chaise and Prada shoes.

I believe that at some point the papacy will collapse just like Rome did. You can’t keep discouraging people from ordination by ridiculous rules of men-only and no-sex, and expect to stay in business. I hope the collapse comes soon, for the very sake of the Catholic faithful and the good works the Church still carries on.

Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., the new capital of the empire, the Archbishop is threatening to withdraw all support for the homeless if the City Council passes a Gay marriage bill—inquisition politics in all its naked brutality.

Mind control dies hard. It has to be destroyed.

The roots of these policies of oppression are still elusive to me, I don’t understand it all in the grand sweep of history. But what I see is a failing Church that’s boxed itself into a corner. How the Church would thrive if it allowed, as the Episcopal Church does, married men and women!

The Bishop of Rome would be unstoppable. But the bad decisions of earlier popes choke him.

A true disciple of St. Peter would have welcomed the vocations of Gay people as Cornelius the Centurion was welcomed by Christ. This sincere, devout and honest man would be hailed as part of the future of the Christian religion.

Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

But Roman perfectionism and its anti-sexual bias has made the Church a haven for pedophiles and rapists.

Get rid of the pope and over time you create progress. Keep the pope and you get Irish nuns beating children in workhouses.

You may not like Henry VIII and all his sordid excesses—but I don’t care. He got rid of the pope with his Latin fetish, allowing people like me to discover Jesus as he really is, the greatest moral examplar in the history of the world.

Jesus believed in God and so do I. The Way is simple: self-sacrifice for the ones you love.

Not bishops in Ireland covering up rape, beatings and cruelty toward children.++

Mark Lester as Oliver Twist.

Why I Love College Sports

Purdue guard Chris Kramer, Academic All-Big Ten

The stereotype about Gay guys is that we’re unathletic and disinterested in any game that doesn’t include a punchline about Bette Davis. But the reality is more complex; I love high school and college sports, and I continued to run and work out long after my more athletic brothers quit. Gay guys do have athletic ability—all people do, if they’re encouraged to develop that part of themselves. Witness the Special Olympics, where even people with developmental limitations can shine athletically. We don’t do a very good job in this country of bringing out the athleticism of every girl and boy. There’s only one model of physical education, where the football coach is forced to teach a PE class, so he barks and acts mean, an instant turnoff to the majority of Gay boys because that kind of playing isn’t fun.

Still, some of us make the best of it and are better at some games than others. I used to love playing baseball and football in school, partly because I was good at it, and because, without teachers around, it was fun. I was friends with everyone and we loved playing games. And yes, it’s true, a girl who can play gets instant respect, she’s someone you want on your team.

So to me it’s completely natural to keep cheering for my friends and my school, even as it became obvious in later years that I wasn’t good enough to be on most of the teams. I’m a distance runner, a cross-country boy, not a basketball player. So I love the school-based athletic system in the United States, which is far more democratic than what’s available in other countries, where private clubs run everything. I will always cheer for my school.

This year I’ve got some thing to cheer about. I’m a fan of Purdue University’s teams and a third-generation alumnus. The campus is 45 minutes from my house. Purdue taught my mother to play golf, which she kept up for the rest of her life. This year our football team had a losing record but some outstanding performances, and our men’s basketball team just beat Tennessee to win the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands. Some observers, Dick Vitale among them, are saying Purdue could be a Final Four team this year.

I hope to live long enough to see Purdue win the National Championship in college basketball. The NCAA Tournament is the most exciting event in American sports, and this year the Final Four will be held in Indianapolis.

It’s important to me that the players are students and not professionals. I don’t like the behavior of many professional athletes, nor do I trust the games to be honest; there’s too much money involved and it’s easy to bribe a referee or for a player to shave points. The structure of professional sports has a built-in conflict of interest; the people supposedly policing the games are paid by the team owners. The college game separates those two functions. In the U.S., the National Collegiate Athletic Association exists apart from the coaches, players and schools. And while there’s a lot to criticize about the NCAA’s policies, I believe in its mission to provide athletic opportunities for students in three levels of competition.

I’m reminded of all this by some recent factoids, including a wonderful story about the athletic director at the University of Notre Dame in today’s New York Times, a guy named Jack Swarbrick. Notre Dame’s football team, one of the most successful in college football history, has been struggling for several years, and it looks like Swarbrick may have to fire the current coach. He naturally wants to field a successful club, but within the amateur limits of the college game. He not only wants those kids to win, he wants them to graduate.

Swarbrick said that Notre Dame’s competing for national titles and Bowl Championship Series berths is important for both college football and college sports. He said he hoped to honor his friend (Myles) Brand [late director of the NCAA], who died of cancer earlier this year, by showing that a football program can be at the top of the N.C.A.A.’s Graduation Success Rate, in which Notre Dame finished tied for first this year, and also compete for the national title.

“The day I conclude that’s not possible is the day that I leave this job,” Swarbrick said. “Because that’s why I’m in this job. Proving that thesis is what excites me, because the opposite for me is too painful to contemplate. That means that the American scholastic sport model is dead. And I won’t accept that.”

Swarbrick gets it exactly right; these are college students. They are there to go to school. Sports are extra.

Here’s another bullet point: these kids can indeed be extremely successful both in sports and in the classroom. Yesterday we found out this:

Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan was named second-team Academic All-America by ESPN The Magazine and CoSIDA.

The defensive end, who carries a 3.38 grade point average, led the Boilermakers in sacks and forced fumbles.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was selected the Academic All-America of the Year.

Purdue end Ryan Kerrigan, Academic All-American, is majoring in math education

Academic All-America is an incredible honor. Here’s how it works: track the grades of everyone who plays, eliminating everyone who lacks a B average; of these smart athletes, pick the best players. The winners are double-certified gold.

Kerrigan had a great season, and he’s pulling his weight in class too. Purdue fans have to be proud of that—yet his achievement is repeated every year by golfers, swimmers and divers, tennis players and athletes in every sport.

One of my all-time favorite players at Purdue was a pharmacy student; that’s six years to get a doctorate. And man, that kid could play! He was a point guard in basketball, from a small town in Indiana, and thrilling to watch. Some years ago Purdue had a basketball center, a big lumbering oaf who was a civil engineering student. These scientific-technical programs at Purdue are very high quality (Purdue pharmacy has been rated the best in the world), and here are players devoting 40 hours a week to school and 40 hours to sports. Kids like that are awe-inspiring.

When you know the kids, you can’t help but cheer. And it’s the same whether you know them in high school or more distantly in college; they’re not one-dimensional people.

They remind us of the kid we grew up with who was a pretty girl, the class valedictorian and the star of every musical; or the handsome boy who was class president and starting quarterback all four years. We all admire people like that and strive to be like them, in sports or other endeavors.

My friend Stephen, who’s a retired academic, hates that sports eat up so much of the university budget. He’s getting by on 75 or 100 grand a year while the football coach is making $4 million; the athletic complex gets a $100 million upgrade while the science labs are cramped and outdated. These are valid arguments, but he misses the point: sports not only bring in as much as they cost, they provide a method for the community to support every student on campus.

There are no venues for cheering the finest literary essay of the year at Purdue; but that essay may have been written by a sprinter or volleyball player. And when we cheer for our team, we also cheer for our school—more deeply, I believe, than even the team, because of what the school represents, a place of learning for all kinds of kids.

I get as thrilled by Purdue’s All-American Marching Band playing at halftime on the football field as by a guy who catches a ball or makes a tackle. College football is full of spectacle; besides the band there’s the Golden Girl, the Silver Twins, the flag corps, the dance team, there are all kinds of students out there. And no, I don’t know what the baton twirler’s majoring in, but I know she goes to a great school—and this is my only opportunity to cheer for her. So cheer I do, because it’s her public performance.

If my friend Stephen, a linguist, competed at the Artificial Intelligence Bowl, I’d buy a ticket and fly out there every year. But sports are what draw the crowd. People like watching bodies fly around, even if a silly pigskin is the cause of it all.

Of course there’s an underlying eroticism about it all; have you ever seen a man more drop-dead gorgeous than this guy?

Purdue running back Dan Dierking, Academic All-Big Ten

But here’s what to know: he’s the son of former Purdue star Scott Dierking, who went on to play professional ball; his mother graduated from Purdue, his sister goes to Purdue. This is a Purdue family; these are our kids.

So you’re darn right I’m going to cheer my lungs out every time they do something good. His sister deserves that as much as he does, or his father and mother.

It was my mother who taught me the words to the Purdue Fight Song when I was in second grade and she was going to pharmacy school. Cheering for the Kramers and Dierkings and Kerrigans is the only way I have of screaming my head off in sheer unadultered pride in my mother and what she did in 1961—she came home with a Purdue diploma.++

The Hidden Unwed Mother of an Oscar-Winning Film

Tonight I got to watch an old movie, a favorite I haven’t seen since I was a child: Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!,” which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1968. Sir Carol Reed directed; the stars are Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed, Mark Lester and Jack Wild. It’s a musical, loosely based on the Dickens novel Oliver Twist. Onna White did the choreography; the film won six Oscars and was nominated for 11. Moody and Wild are both brilliant, and Lester is a gorgeous innocent boy in the title role. I remember him as much blonder in the original print, but I was very glad to see the show via Netflix. The movie figures in a minor way in my first novel, Murder at Willow Slough. The hero of that story is also blond and innocent, and the one Gay-ish attribute I gave his macho cop/love interest is a bigtime fixation on the film and the title character. So you can imagine my delight in seeing the movie again 40 years later. Still, there are several disturbing ideas in the picture, which cause me to write about it as follows.

Dickens is essentially sanitized out of his own musical; the novel is really rather dark. The author’s art lay in his ability to combine immensely popular melodrama, a rags-to-riches tale, with searing social criticism of the English class system and the Industrial Revolution. In a Dickens novel the poor are oppressed in every way; they don’t even own their own labor, but are forced into serving the moneyed classes. The musical casts all this in a much lighter tone, with Fagin the “evil Jew” remade into a benevolent, if greedy (and slightly pedophilic) master of a ring of juvenile pickpockets. Many of Bart’s songs were hits in their day and continue to arouse emotion. And yet, even in this Disneyfied version, a little of Dickens’ wrath seeps through, and those are the parts of the film that stayed with me, more than the pretty little put-upon boy.

The movie opens in a workhouse, where barefoot orphans tread a giant wheel that mills grain, living only for “Food, Glorious Food,” though their only meal is gruel. Meanwhile the workhouse governors feast on every imaginable delicacy. The system is overseen by an Anglican beadle, played by Harry Secombe. From Wikipedia:

In England, the word (beadle) came to refer to a parish constable of the Anglican Church, one often charged with duties of charity. A famous fictional constabulary beadle is Mr. Bumble from Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist, who oversees the parish workhouse and orphanage.

Even in the sweetened-up movie, it’s plain that Dickens is indicting the Church of England.

Uh, that’s my church, Mr. Dickens. Yikes.

By the end of the story, Oliver the orphan is restored to his wealthy uncle in London, who lives in a fabulous townhouse on a fashionable square; Dickens and Bart get their happy ending by popular demand. (My books also have happy endings, for what that’s worth.) The movie takes half a minute to connect the boy, his mother and his uncle—and there lies another of Dickens’ accusations, the one most relevant to this post.

The uncle’s niece, Oliver’s mother, eloped with a man, or tried to; he promised marriage but didn’t show up, and meanwhile she was pregnant. (This same scenario figures prominently in Jane Austen’s novels, by which we know that this was a common complaint of the time: the wealthy cad, the fallen and gullible woman who was thereby ruined because she had sex before marriage.) Thrown out of society by unforgivable scandal, she was reduced to a distant parish workhouse, where she gave birth and promptly died, thus bringing Oliver into the worst possible world.

And meanwhile the vestry feasts.

Here’s what I think about: the immorality not of the woman but of the cad; and of the code that dictated that an unwed mother be reduced to penury and even death for her sexual sin.

This is Anglicanism? This is Christianity?

No, this is hypocrisy. Jesus famously encountered prostitutes, healed their ills out of love for their common humanity, and told them to sin no more, as if any mortal were capable of that.

WELL. we’re past all that now, unwed mothers are a dime a dozen these days, and this really is a better understanding than during Austen’s and Dickens’ time. Right?

No woman should be reduced to penury in the workhouse just because she was human and had sex. Besides, we’ve got birth control now. Popular morality has replaced the ancient taboos of respectable Christianity, which punished the woman and let the man off scot-free.

Sometimes popular morality makes more sense and corrects old injustices. The same thing is happening with Gay rights.

BUT the other day I received a comment on my prayer site that brought these old issues into focus in a current way. The commenter was a former monk, an openly-Gay guy, who left his order under pressure from his closeted Gay brothers, who turned on him to deflect suspicion from themselves.

He’d still like to be a monk, but not under those terms. I don’t blame him.

I’m not sure this kind of oppression by the closeted against the open still happens much in the Episcopal Church—we have a Gay bishop, for heaven’s sake—but my friend Jonathan of Madpriest fame (Of Course I Could Be Wrong) indicates it still happens all the time in the Church of England. He claims that closeted Gay priests took down Jeffrey Johns, a Gay priest nominated for bishop by Archbishop Rowan Williams, then thrown under the bus, and that these same closeted queers, a significant bloc in the Anglo-Catholic party, are the main opponents of women priests.

We’ve all heard of this kind of situation, but I’ve never actually seen it. Then again, I’m openly Gay and no one’s nominated me for street sweeper.

What is it that causes such hypocrisy? Why would Gay men shoot down another Gay man nominated for bishop?

Carol Reed’s “Oliver!”, no matter how lightened up, still supplies an answer in images: ragamuffins eating gruel, Governors feasting.

Greed isn’t just one of the Seven Deadly Sins, it is funded by the watery oatmeal of children.

And sex is the justification.

If Fr. Jonathan is right, nothing has changed since Dickens’ day. Hypocrites still climb the backs of innocents to attain power and wealth, and the truth doesn’t matter.

Would you want your child confirmed by a closeted and sexist Gay bishop?

No matter how much Lionel Bart sugared up the story, it still exposes hypocrisy, and not just in 1840 surrounded by pretty songs. The moral actor in Carol Reed’s film, Oliver’s uncle, delivers brief but stunning denunciations.

I’m glad Oliver got to grow up in a nice townhouse. But the essential question remains in Bart’s song, “Where Is Love?”++

Luke Learns a Word, I Learn a Technique

Sit Horizontal

You want me to sit? Why didn't you just say so?

I’m starting to think there are no stupid dogs, only stupid dog owners. And I’ve been one.

I have a new dog, a 3-year-old rat terrier mix named Luke, whom I adopted from the Humane Society of Indianapolis. I grew up with fox terriers, but have never had a dog of my own. The Humane Society marked me down as experienced, but in fact I’ve discovered I’m not.

He’s a fine, healthy little boy with an uncertain background. He’s well-socialized in some ways, seldom barks or gets aggressive when he shouldn’t and has a wonderful instinctive disposition to be a most happy fella. But at other times he’s absolutely clueless; for instance, he doesn’t know how to play. He has no interest in squeaky toys or chasing after a ball; I thought all dogs knew how to do that. He won’t play tug-of-war with a sock. He loves to interact with me but his repertoire is limited to jumping up or lying on his back for a belly rub. I suspect he mostly grew up on the streets.

But he’s also been around people, probably from spending the last few months at the animal shelter; he has no problem accepting a leash and sleeping in a crate. He has a good appetite, is the ideal weight for his size and breed (10 pounds) and walks away from his dish when he’s full, leaving a few pellets behind—so I don’t need to worry about giving him too much food. The shelter feeds their dogs once a day so that food dishes are never empty, while I feed Luke twice a day. He generally cleans his plate but not always, so I’m able to adjust his amounts for what he needs.

But toilet training has been an issue, and I’ve been clueless until the last few days. But now we’re getting there, and each day is better and better. He can’t learn if I don’t know how to condition him; it’s Psychology 101. Perform the desired behavior, get a reward. The onus for performing the desired behavior is on me, not on him. He’s a dog, he no speaka ze Inglish.

I can’t “make him do what I want.” But I can and must help him learn behaviors that put us both at ease. How awful it must have been for him the last two weeks to figure out what I want when I no speaka ze Dog. Why is this crazy person upset with me?

But he hasn’t given up or lost any affection for me, he just keeps trying until he gets it right—meaning I do. And yesterday he learned a word: Sit.

He already knew how to sit, but he didn’t know how to Sit. But now Sit = Treat! Luke likes his treats. Oh, is that what you meant? Why didn’t you say so?

It’s been two days now since he pooped on the rug. And two days since I learned always to have treats in my pocket.

I get treats for pooping? Hmm, this ain’t a bad gig. No, boy, it’s where you poop that counts.

More little lessons await us. “Sit” ≠ “before we go outside.” Sit = sit wherever we are, before something good happens, no matter where we are. I’m the one in charge of his mental associations. He can’t associate unrelated concepts unless I teach them to him, and the way to teach a dog is with rewards.

I’ve changed more than he has since I got him October 22. He’s always been affectionate and reasonably smart, but now he’s starting to have a competent human to be with. Yay for our side!

One of my biggest lessons has been to stop thinking that restrictions are bad. His crate helps him stay out of trouble, and besides he likes it; it’s Luke-sized, with a very nice stadium blanket (Indiana University, fit for a dog here in Purdue Land), great for sleeping. That it also keeps him from eliminating when I’m asleep or not watching means he doesn’t get in trouble and there’s no friction in the house. We’re both happy fellas.

LukeAtRest

IU football has gone to the dogs. Again.

Yesterday we tried another new thing: another restriction (to my former way of thinking) that in fact increases his freedom. We went to Wally World and bought a stake-out kit, so he could be outdoors with me while I rake leaves. The idea of being outdoors without going for a walk was new to him; he lasted about 20 minutes before I decided he was getting overstimulated and took him back in the house. It was mid-afternoon, kids were getting out of school, other dogs were going on walks, the guy next door was also working outside, and it got to be too much. But now Luke knows he can be outdoors in the sunshine and I’m right over there, while he has more independence and can look at stuff. He’s got a 30-foot radius but that’s a 60-foot diameter, outdoors in fresh air. We’re going to try it again this afternoon, because I’ve got a lot of leaves to bag up.

Before I met Luke I would never have chained up a dog outside. But in fact it makes us closer emotionally, and gives him a better idea of what’s our yard and what’s not. That is crucial, because I don’t have a fence, and of course I don’t want him running off and getting lost or being hurt.

That’s really been my #1 concern, helping him adjust to a new home and a new human relationship.

Home is a place with walls—that is, restrictions AND safety. The outside world can’t come in, this is our house.

This is our yard, from here to here. Dogs of course have a territorial instinct, but Luke’s got to know where his territory is and is not. It takes time to figure out. (I’m so glad for that new stake and chain.)

This is our neighborhood. If he does someday find himself on his own, I want him to be able to find his way back to my crate, where his supper dish is, where his pal lives.

Once he knows everything he needs to know, we can try even more freedom. But it’s all got to have a structure; Sit = sit. First you sit, then supper comes. First you sit, then we go outside. First you sit, then you get what you want. It’s not just “do as you’re told,” it’s “follow the rules so you’ll be safe.”

And it’s my job, not his, to know the rules and provide the structure until the rules are his own habits. Go ahead and run, baby, but when I call, you come back. I’ve got treats.

There are no dumb dogs, just dumb owners.++

Healthcare Bill Would Remove Gay Tax Inequity

LesbianMarriage

So, the House has passed the long-awaited healthcare reform bill, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is basking in congratulations. Good for her, and good for the country. It may even be good for partnered Lesbians and Gay men.

The New York Times points out today that the House bill contains a provision to remove a little-known injustice in the tax code that penalizes Gay domestic partners, where one gets health insurance through the other’s employer:

As a high-priority bill for Congressional leaders and President Obama, the legislation has become a vehicle for many other initiatives large and small.

Supporters of gay rights have long been trying to change the tax treatment of health benefits provided by employers to the domestic partners of their employees. In effect, such benefits are now treated as taxable income for the employee, and the employer may owe payroll taxes on their fair-market value.

Under the bill, such benefits would be tax-free, just like health benefits provided to the family of an employee married to a person of the opposite sex.

Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, who proposed the change, said it would “correct a longstanding injustice, end a blatant inequity in the tax code and help make health care coverage more affordable for more Americans.”

Joseph R. Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, said federal tax law had not kept up with changes in the workplace.

“I meet people all the time who are gratified they work for companies that offer domestic partner benefits,” he said. “But they pass on the benefits because they cannot afford the taxes that go with the benefits.”

M. V. Lee Badgett, a labor economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said employees with domestic partner benefits paid $1,100 a year more in taxes, on average, than married employees with the same coverage.

This is just one of over a thousand tax breaks written into the IRS code favoring people who are legally married. I have no problem with those subsidies—but they should be applied equally.

Consider why the marriage privileges were inserted into the tax code in the first place: not just because of religion or because “the family is the building block of society,” a grandiose and untested claim treated as if it was common knowledge, but because, all other things being equal, committed relationships are more stable than ones without measurable commitment. Tons of research show that marriage leads to favorable social outcomes; married people live longer, and that’s only the start of the benefits.

That means we should want as many people married as possible, including the Gay ones. Yet Congress provides financial incentives for Straight ones only, while the Gay people have to pay.

Thus the state-by-state strategy on Gay marriage has a built-in flaw. Though marriage laws are administered by each state, it’s the Federal benefits for married people that cost big Gay money.

As helpful as it is that last Tuesday Oregon voters agreed to eliminate all state inequities for domestic partners, state taxes are not the biggest bite in Gay paychecks. The IRS and Social Security eat big chunks. Those are Federal programs. And the Feds have a “Defense of Marriage” Act that writes discrimination into law.

All 50 states could do what Oregon has done—”Gay marriage without calling it that”—and it wouldn’t make much of a financial difference. Most tax money goes to the national government.

The Feds’ biggest wallop in your wallet is the inheritance tax. Being a legal “spouse,” or not, makes all the difference in the world. Being Lesbian or Gay can cost you millions.

And the IRS couldn’t care less that you were together for 50 years, that you worked to put your lover through law school, or that you provided tender loving care all the time that s/he was sick, only to be kicked out of the hospital room by some unknown aunt from New Jersey. All the IRS wants to know is “spouse or not.”

This may not matter to you when you’re 25, penniless and in love, but it will matter a great deal when you’re 75, with a lifetime of assets you worked for, and widowed.

LGBT leaders need to do a lot better job of illustrating the built-in inequity of DOMA as applied to the tax code. We did it earlier with the “kicked out of the hospital room” scenario, which has resonated with fair-minded people. Now let’s defend Uncle Harold, forced to sell the condo at 75 to pay the taxman.

Let’s accept that, as in Maine and California, the #1 weapon of anti-Gay marriage politicians is “protect our children from queers in school.” Since the whole wingnut conspiracy machine is geared to stoke heterosexual fears (and always has been since the days of the Briggs Initiative and Anita Bryant, as depicted in the film “Milk”), we need to do more than get sarcastic when opponents suggest that teachers will take 6-year-olds on a field trip to a Lesbian wedding. Of course the claim is ludicrous, but we know that will be the battleground, so let’s pre-empt it. The Lesbians at the wedding are not zoo animals to be petted, and Mrs. Palmer’s first grade class ain’t invited.

Write a schools exclusion into the Gay marriage bill.

If homosexuality was catching, the entire country would have it by now.

It can’t be infectious, because there’s nothing you can do once a teenage boy discovers girls. Heterosexuality cannot be cured.

It’s not like preachers and whacked-out shrinks haven’t tried; imagine the Straight women who would give anything for a little purple pill that turned down the testosterone level at home and in the office. Straight men are incurable!

But their spouses shouldn’t have tax benefits no one else gets; that’s unfair.

Congress and the IRS should not make Uncle Harold sell the condo.

Kudos to Rep. Jim McDermott for chipping away at heterosexual subsidies enforced by the IRS. The man isn’t famous but he just helped a lot of people.

RepJimMcDermott

From here the action shifts to the Senate. A lot can still go wrong, but Pelosi corraled the Democrats for President Obama, and healthcare reform now has the momentum.++

Pelosi.Obama

Order out of Chaos; Reformation

FrCharlesCoughlin

Fr. Coughlin, the anti-Semitic “radio priest” of the 1930s.

What strange times we’re living in. The world seems out of control. Institutions are collapsing (Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch), new institutions are arising (Glenn Beck, Twitter), and no one’s in charge. After 10 months in office, Barack Obama seems particularly clueless.

We’re living in chaos and anarchy. So last night a Muslim psychiatrist shot up Fort Hood.

One of the wounded lives an hour from my house. I ask your prayers for Nathan A. Hewitt, an Army marksman from Lafayette, Indiana. His uncles are quoted in the local paper saying he’s going to be okay. [UPDATE: The Journal and Courier now reports that Cpl. Hewitt is out of the hospital.]

So we’ll get through this, no time to panic. It’s an ugly world out there, you never know what’s going to happen. But it makes sense to try and understand what’s causing all these seismic shifts. We have to step back from immediate events to look at the world as a whole. After all, the Army knows how to secure the scene of a gunfight.

Prayers too for the civilian policewoman who dropped the shooter, and I suppose even for the gunman, Nidal Hasan, who allegedly cried out “God is good!” while killing people.

I must admit my first reaction to this was, “No more Muslims.” And I’m one who argued against anti-Muslim prejudice after 9/11. The shooter is responsible for his actions, not a whole religion. Even if we’re getting really, really tired of violent Muslims.

But step back; step back. What the hell’s going on?

What do you see in the world right now? Take a deep breath, look and think.

Be careful what you say and do. Don’t add fuel to the fire. Be kind and generous. Stay aware of your limitations. Make sure your friends and family are safe. Make a cup of tea, pet the dog. I can make you a sandwich or we can get pizza.

Be quiet, hold the ones you love, then start to make sense of this world.

—–

The first thing I see is economic dislocation. You see that too. Globalization has changed everything.

It’s good that India, China and other countries are getting richer. God wants everyone to have enough to eat.

It’s hard on American workers that their own companies have shipped all the manufacturing jobs overseas. The unemployment rate in Elkhart County, Indiana is over 20%. But an RV maker is recalling 400 workers. They say the recession is officially over, but jobs will remain scarce.

By the skin of our teeth we’ve avoided a rerun of the Great Depression.

Conditions remain volatile. I’m surprised there haven’t been riots. I’m glad I don’t work on Wall Street, where Goldman Sachs and the remaining big banks want to resume business as usual, trying to reassert control over the world economy. I’m not sure it’s going to work anymore. We wouldn’t want another bombing at J.P. Morgan.

Osama bin Laden targeted the World Trade Center.

Instead of localized riots and violence, we’ve got sporadic outbreaks and near-riots, such as the anti-health care reform “town hall meetings” that flared up nationwide over the summer, orchestrated by radical Father Coughlins on Fox News.

In Arizona some guy packed heat in front of President Obama—and no one said anything, a clear signal that Obama’s getting terrible advice from his handlers. These are the same people who loaded the Treasury and Federal Reserve with more Wall Streeters.

Gov. Jon Corzine went down in New Jersey Tuesday night. Used to be the co-chair of Goldman Sachs, but his “financial expertise” didn’t amount to anything. Jerseyites voted for a snake-oil salesman instead.

The Republican Party is breaking down. In NY-23, the GOP nominee quit three days before the election after constant attacks by Sarah Palin and the Club for Growth (what a club!), so she did the smart thing and endorsed the Democrat.

Mainers voted for the Catholic Church and anti-Gay marriage, but narrowly, 53-47.

Kalamazoo banned anti-Gay discrimination, and Washington state gave domestic partners more rights while continuing to tax them differently than Straight people.

What exactly is Glenn Beck’s talent? He isn’t goodlooking or well-spoken; he just “says stuff” and cries on cue. But he’s bull’s-eyed the zeitgeist, the right person at the right time. A year ago it was Sarah Palin, but she’s so last year. Is Levi Johnston hung?

Is this the end of capitalism? Is that what’s got people so upset?

Is that why Rahm Emmanuel told Obama, “We’re going to load you up with capitalists, that’s how to save the country”?

Why are we in Iraq and Afghanistan in the midst of an economic meltdown? Why did Nathan Hewitt get shot by an American Muslim at Fort Hood?

Obama is no Roosevelt, nor is he Harry Truman or LBJ. He’s too reliant on bad advisers who consistently make mistakes. The man’s in over his head—and I worked my ass off to get him elected. (We won Indiana for the first time since 1964, the LBJ year.)

Where from here? A few simple steps, Mr. President.

• Fire the economic team, except for Paul Volcker and the woman at the FDIC. If capitalism is collapsing, it does not help to have Goldman Sachs at the helm. Dump ’em and say, “We were wrong, these are not the right people. Business should make profits but not at the expense of human lives. We’re bringing in a new team.” Continue health care reform. Demonize the insurance companies if you have to. Acne at 16 is not a justification for cutting off coverage for cancer at 45.

• Send Rahm back to Chicago. He was great at campaigning and he’s suitably ruthless, but he can’t govern a city block, much less a nation.

• Invite Jon Stewart and the “Daily Show” team to dinner. Have a serious discussion.

• Target the enemies, Michelle Bachmann, Virginia Foxx, Evan Bayh and the Blue Dog Democrats. The country is polarized, so go polar.

• Stroke that guy from Florida, Rep. Alan Grayson. He understands the polarization and fights back, the Glenn Beck of the Left with a lot more talent.

• Shut down Gitmo, pull all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Declare victory in one and withdrawal from the other. We tried to do good but we can’t afford two wars. So we’re done. We never wanted war in Afghanistan, we wanted bin Laden. So get him.

• Put Wall Street in jail. That will settle the country.

• Tell GM it either makes a profit or faces a firing squad. This includes the UAW and its Cadillac insurance plan.

• Concentrate on your family. Take Michelle on the sweetest, hottest date imaginable. Kiss your girls. Visit their school like a parent. Scratch Bo’s belly. Ask Laura Bush’s advice.

• And realize you’ve taken office, an incredible superstar, after The Worst Damn President Ever. So don’t be afraid of the seismic shifts, just keep your balance, then lead.

We all know the world is changing faster than anyone can keep up with. Reassure people; the only thing to fear is fear itself. It’s ridiculous that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are media stars, much less a hockey puck like Levi Johnston.

• In short, dominate. For good. Stop giving all these punks the time of day. Give us health care, and peace, and reformed capitalism. Be like Martin Luther and nail your theses to the wall.

Reassure people. This is hard but we’ll get through it.

After all we like you, even though we don’t quite understand you. You’re a big change all by yourself.

But you have to supply substance, and results we can see. Put people back to work. Ignore the naysayers. Twist Evan Bayh’s arm off till he votes for you. Dominate, like we know you can.

Why else did Michelle fall in love with you, but because you know how to be a man?++