Archive for the ‘GLBT’ category

What Do You Say When What You Have Said Is Wrong?

October 9, 2015

The GOP Presidential Nomination Parade is teaching young Americans (and anyone else willing to listen) what to do when you make public statements which are either wrong or offensive to some. The GOP is not plowing new ground but never the less it is fascinating to see how the front running candidates (for the highest office in the land) are handling these situations.

Normally, when one makes a public statement which evokes a public reaction, like “I take exception to your claim all men are dogs”, there are three standard reactions.

  • First, “I stand by my words and in fact, I know many men who are worse than dogs”.
  • Second, “I was quoted out of context, why some of my best friends are dogs (or men) The media is against my campaign and is just making up this story”.
  • Third, I am evolving on that subject and now think that dogs are man’s best friend so actually I am trying to make a compliment.

Donald Trump has written the definitive book on doubling down. Trump adds no new information but simply huffs and puffs and speaks ever louder making the same claims. Most of the media are trained to ask once and then move on to another topic since all they are interested in are “sound bites”. This often provides Trump with a pass.

Ben Carson aspires to lead the second group. He has recently made statements recommending that hostages charge shooters (their captors) who are about to commit mass killings. This has been perceived as transferring the blame from the killer to those subject to being killed. Carson also said that if German Jews had been armed, the Holocaust might not have taken place. I wonder whether Carson knows about Hitler’s military strength displayed in the Spanish Civil War?

Both Trump and Carson, despite their personal views, were pandering for xenophobes and gun advocates.

The third approach is the most practiced and can be characterized as “cutting ones losses” and “you can be sure I will never say that again… publicly” Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and most other traditional politicians prefer this approach. They are trained to move to a new topic as quickly as possible.

Interestingly, American voters seems attracted to type one and two. Voters are seeking individuals who say what they mean and mean what they say. In other words, candidates who appear genuine. This is very understandable when you consider the wishy-washy Congressional double speak we hear incessantly.

There is one problem, however.

The Country also needs candidates who know right from wrong (use of facts and data) and, once the dust settles, can be inclusive in building national concurrence. With Trump, there is a somewhat “lovable” aspect to his bravado. Trump says unkind things but somehow with the twinkle in his eye, the listener thinks “well he isn’t that bad”. Carson who speaks so softly and absent any hint of rage is stealthy in his communications.

Neither of these candidates, IMO, are of Presidential timber. Carson, however, is far more worrisome if the unexpected were to happen and he were to become President Carson. As a technically trained individual, to be comfortable with opinions not supported by facts, poses a huge risk as commander in chief.

The third category, “the I’m evolving” group are much more difficult to understand. For example, the amazingly swift evolution of American public opinion around the GLBT community has outpaced the public rhetoric of politicians. Cutting slack for politicians who have previously spoken out against homosexuality, one wonders did that candidate mean it before, is his changed position now genuine?

But thinking broader, what did these politician say about invading Iraq, comprehensive immigration reform, healthcare for all (Obamacare), or gun controls?

Hmmm.

The 2016 Election cycle appears poised to bring us both a candidate and the answer to the question, “ What Do You Say When What You Have Said Is Wrong? “

Pope’s Congressional Speech

September 25, 2015

Pope Francis gave a wonderfully crafted speech to assembled Congressional members and guests yesterday. The Pope spoke broadly yet delivered targeted messages on individual freedoms and collective responsibility, especially those towards leaving the next generation with a livable planet.

Speaking passionately about the dignity of all men and the importance of family (clearly including women), the Pope was silent on the GLBT community. For sure, his measure of human respect seemed applicable  to all including GLBT.  He just didn’t call them by name. What was missing was recognition that GLBT humans were fully worthy of an unencumbered and respectful place within the Catholic Church. In other words, the Pope neither stated openly nor inferred any change in Catholic dogma which considers the GLBT community as engaging in aberrant behavior.

The Pope also spoke to the sanctity of life. He made a passionate reference urging Congress to those seeking a new home (immigrants) and called for law makers to respect life at all stages of development.

Pro-lifers cheered interpreting the Pope’s comments as an anti-abortion position. The Pope most likely did mean this but also said all countries should end the death penalty which most hard right legislators do not accept.

At the most optimistic perspective, the Pope’s speech was a signal that church dogma would relook at the extremes of “respecting all humans” and the “sanctity of life”.

Homosexuality has been long a taboo within the Catholic Church dogma. “Unnatural” is often used to describe homosexuality and “traditional” family is the code for man-woman family units. With scientific studies showing homosexuality as well as gender assignments being matters of nature and not the result of nurture, it becomes more difficult every day for Catholics to accept Church teaching on homosexuality and for clergy to maintain intellectual honesty claiming something which is quite normal to not be. How can the church preach the need for mankind to respect each other (and not make war or abandon the poor) while at the same time singling out that some are different that the rest?

The Pope also has his work cut out to examine the extremes of “sanctity of life”. At the older end of life, “death with dignity” is a growing preference for many. Church teachings absolutely ban such actions in which someone voluntarily ends ones life.

Someone choosing suicide at age 25 simply because they were despondent seems unwarranted and should not be accepted by society. But what about someone who has lived a full life and is suffering from some terminal disease? Is keeping someone alive when they are heavily medicated and incapable of making any life decisions humane?

The Pope singled out the “death penalty” as a practice society should end. This seems a reasonable wish since the death penalty has never been shown to be a deterrent to crime. But let’s not stop there.  What about war? What about the protection of the civilian, noncombatant population?

The opposite extreme of life is pregnancy, birth, and early life. The church has made clear its positions that sexual intercourse has purpose only in creating life. Accordingly, sex for the pleasure of sex is not recognized by the Church. And should an unwanted pregnancy occur, this pregnancy must be seen through to birth no matter what. Hmmm.

The modern church regrettably has knowledge of contraception and how it can be successfully used in family planning. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy, there also exists safe methods to end the pregnancy and still hold open the option for children later in life.

The “pro-choice” and “pro-life” groups differ mostly around when life begins. Pro-choice advocates emphasize “viability”, that is the fetus can survive if taken from the womb. Pro-life advocates cite “conception” as the beginning of life regardless that there are estimates that more than half of all conceptions are naturally aborted.  This is when an abortion is not an abortion.

More troubling abortions occur when fetuses are genetically damaged or physically deformed. Is it ethical or morally correct to abort these fetuses. The Catholic Church is clear, no way, no how. Hmmm.  Who should care for these poor souls, if they survive birth and the mother is unable?

So the Pope’s homework with respect to sanctity of life and dignity of man demands a relook at contraception and homosexuality. Contraception brings the means of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Homosexuality and gender identity appear now to be based upon nature and no acquired preference. With the modern world more aware of what’s going on around them, these church dogmas which diverts markedly from reality (take what they say on faith), may lead the masses to not hear the Pope’s other important messages.

Pope Francis’s Congressional speech was a message Congress badly needed to hear. While the speech may have fallen upon deaf ears, the message was also appropriate for his clergy and the population at large.

The speech will live on as a great speech should the Pope find a way to address the gapping gaps in logic surrounding contraception and homosexuality.