Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gay Boy Scout Quiz

Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America (Photo credit: FeeBeeDee)

Recently, the Boy Scouts of America has come under fire by pro-gay activist groups for not allowing openly gay individuals to participate in all of their Boy Scout fun and games. Their reaction to this growing pressure has been the gradual contemplation of removing these restrictions. This, of course, has caused them to come under fire by anti-gay activists for even thinking of letting gay people near weenie-roasts and tent-pitching. Because, you know, that shit's for straight people.

In an attempt to weakly rationalize any decision that they might make down the line, the BSA recently sent out a questionnaire asking Pack Leaders and Parents of Boy Scouts their feelings about how "acceptable" or "unacceptable" outdated bigotry is when it comes to club membership restrictions. Not willing to be left out of the conversation, I decided to way in on the survey myself, although with written answers in lieu of their Acceptability Range, which actually includes the choice "Neither Acceptable Nor Unacceptable." Nice choice, guys.

Anyway, here are "The Questions" as provided by Towleroad, along with answers as provided by Strangers host S. Michael Wilson.

1.       Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?

The answer to this questions depends on whether Bob is aggressively homosexual or merely passively gay, if the boy he is teamed up with is actually a closeted homosexual, and whether Bob reacted to the sleeping arrangements by repeatedly winking while making references to "Pitching a tent together."

2.       Tom started in the program as a Tiger Cub, and finished every requirement for the Eagle Scout Award at 16 years of age. At his board of review Tom reveals that he is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the review board to deny his Eagle Scout award based on that admission?

Denying Tom his Eagle Scout award is only acceptable if his secret homosexuality somehow gave him an unfair advantage over other straight members of the Tiger Club (which, incidentally, sounds like a gay bar)when it came to completing his expected tasks. I've never been a member of the Boy Scouts, so for all I know, homosexuality could very well be a Performance Enhancing trait.

3.       Johnny, a first grade boy, has joined Tiger Cubs with his friends. Johnny’s friends and their parents unanimously nominate Johnny’s mom, who is known by them to be lesbian, to be the den leader. Johnny’s pack is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith does not teach that homosexuality is wrong. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for his mother to serve as a den leader for his Cub Scout den?

If Johnny's friends and their parents have no problem with a Lesbian Den Leader, but the church chartering their pack considers her a soulless deviant unworthy of such a position, maybe the better question should be why these people are members of that church in the first place. Also, are "pack" and "den" interchangeable? If not, how many packs can be in a den, or is it multiple dens per pack?

4.       A troop is chartered by an organization that does not believe homosexuality is wrong and allows gays to be ministers. The youth minister traditionally serves as the Scoutmaster for the troop. The congregation hires a youth minister who is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this youth minister to serve as the Scoutmaster?

Why is there a question in here with no conflict? The organization is gay-friendly, the congregation is gay-friendly, and the youth minister is gay, is it okay that the Scoutmaster is gay? What sense does this question make? Everybody likes ice cream. Is it okay that people eat ice cream?

5.       David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong. His troop is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith also teaches that homosexuality is wrong. Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to be a member in the troop and is denied membership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?

I think a more important question is why Steve would want to belong to a group funded by and populated with people who are predisposed to hate him, and what the hell does David have to do with anything in this question?

6.       A gay male troop leader, along with another adult leader, is taking a group of boys on a camping trip following the youth protection guidelines of two-deep leadership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the gay adult leader to take adolescent boys on an overnight camping trip?

It should be fine as long as the gay male troop leader doesn't confuse "two-deep" leadership with "too-deep" leadership. Get it? That's an anal sex joke. Or an oral sex joke, depending which way you swing. Besides that, however, if "two-deep leadership" is meant to protect the youth, then wouldn't having the supposedly heterosexual adult leader (the question never specifies whether the other leader is straight or not) in tow prevent any gay shenanigans, or is it okay for the gay troop leader to sodomize the attending youth as long as the other troop leader is there to watch and make sure that he doesn't go "too-deep." Heh, I did it again.

7.       The current Boy Scouts of America requirements, stated above, prohibit open homosexuals from being Scouts or adult Scout leaders. To what extent do you support or oppose this requirement?

Can we just shorten this question to "Gays: Yea or Nay?"

8.       Different organizations that charter Boy Scout troops have different positions on the morality of homosexuality. Do you support or oppose allowing charter organizations to follow their own beliefs when selecting Boy Scout members and adult leaders, if that means there will be different standards from one organization to the next?

This raises an even better question: Is it wise for an organization, such as the BSA, to allow organizations without diametrically opposing moral standards to charter groups within the organization? For an organization so high and might about moral values, they sure do seem willing to whore themselves out to anybody willing to "charter" a group.

9.       What is your greatest concern if the policy remains in place and openly gay youth and adults are prohibited from joining Scouting?

Personally, none. I am neither gay nor a Boy Scout ( a fact for which both groups are most likely thankful), and am therefore not directly affected one way or the other, other than the fostering of the righteous indignation that I naturally feel against any organization that attempts to rationalize otherwise bigoted or socially ignorant restrictive policies.

10.   What is your greatest concern if the policy is changed to allow charter organizations to make their own decisions to admit openly gay Scouts and leaders?

That there will be one less thing to make fun of the Boy Scouts about.

11.   Do you believe the current policy prohibiting open homosexuals from being Scouts or adult Scout leaders is a core value of Scouting found in the Scout Oath and Law?

A better question might be, whether or not the policy is upheld by Scout Oath and Law, if that policy is right or wrong regardless. Again, for a group so big on morality, they do manage to avoid Right and Wrong altogether with their concerns over the "acceptable" and "unacceptable" nature of their policies. Are we concerned about morality here, or finding loopholes in club regulations?

12.   If the Boy Scouts of America makes a decision on this policy that disagrees with your own view, will you continue to participate in the Boy Scouts, or will you leave the organization?

In as much as I have up until now? Most definitely.

13.   How likely is it that you would recommend volunteering in the Scouting program to other friends or acquaintances?

Not very likely. But that's just me.

After having gone through the questionnaire, I felt that the scenarios and decisions offered by the BSA fell short in truly addressing the issue at hand. Therefore, I have taken the liberty of suggesting a few Additional Questions of my own:

1.       Raymond is openly homosexual, but a celibate pastor at the local Unitarian church. Archibald, on the other hand, is a vocally heterosexual father of three, but was recently caught masturbating to a Justin Bieber video. Both are applying for Troop Leader. Which one is better qualified to teach your children how to tie knots?

2.       Do you feel that allowing homosexuals into the Boy Scouts of America with positively or negatively impact the organization's goofy-ass uniforms?

3.       Rate the following items as either Not Gay, Kinda Gay, Definitely Gay, Very Gay, or Way Gay:
a.       Camping
b.      Nature
c.       Paisley
d.      Neckerchiefs
e.      Knee-High Shorts
f.        Accessorizing
g.       Badges
h.      Pitching Tents
i.         Stacking Wood
j.        Webelos
k.       Anal sex

4.       How Gay is Too Gay? Provide examples.

5.       Matthew is attracted to young boys because their lack of secondary sex characteristics makes them look more feminine. Does this make Matthew too gay to be a scout leader, or not gay enough to shun?

No need to thank me. Seriously, it's the least I could do.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

John Mackey Defines Fascism (Incorrectly)

Recently, John Mackey took time out from bragging about how great his company's ultra-high deductible is at keeping employees from "abusing" their health insurance to express how much he hates Obama's attempts to make health care more affordable.

Since all it takes is running a moderately successful business to be considered an expert on economic theory and political science, the Whole Foods CEO had the platform to describe Obamacare as an obvious slide into absolute Fascism, saying: "In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it -- and that's what's happening with our health care programs and these reforms."

Now, John Mackey is a Libertarian, so we can forgive him for not having a clue as to what he's talking about, (Let's be honest; Libertarians are great when it comes to civil rights, but the minute it comes to forming fiscal or foreign policy, they're as useless as the Green Party.), and we've heard enough people calling Obama a Fascist (not to mention Marxist, Communist, Socialist, Muslim, Kenyan, etc...) that it is more boring than controversial. However, it is his walking back of the statement that is rather annoying, as it shows the depth of ignorance that these attacks are drawn from.

In this post-Fascist statement Huffington Post interview, Mackey explains that "I regret using that word now because it's got so much baggage attached to it," then went on to say "Of course, I was just using the standard dictionary definition."

By "baggage," of course, Mackey really means "history." Isn't it annoying when real-life examples of a word get in the way of what you want to use it for? In this case, Mackey used a word that carried the "baggage" of actually meaning something, when what he really wanted was to use it as a loosely-defined buzz word to paint Obama as some kind of thuggish totalitarian dictator. Because, you know, dictators are notorious for passing policies to ensure the well-being of the country's citizens through a regulated legislative process. Mussolini did it all the time.

But to defend his use of the word Fascism as a loosely defined attack, he doubles down by insisting the only reason that people are disagreeing with him is that he wasn't using the word Fascism in the sense that people understand it through it's "baggage" (history), but rather, he was referring to the "standard dictionary definition."

Since we're in the marvelously under-appreciated Information Age, this claim is easy enough to check with some quick visits to various online dictionaries. Merriam-Webster is a well-respected name in the definition business, how do they define Fascism?

1. often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition 2. a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.

It goes on to give some examples, but they're all bogged down by historical "baggage." No mention of government controlling production without owning it. Of course, any reference to controlling production wouldn't help Mackey's case, since healthcare would fall under "services." Let's try Cambridge and see if Mackey fares any better.

1. a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control of social and economic life, and extreme pride in country and race, with no expression of political disagreement allowed

Still nothing specifically about government controlling production without actually owning the means of production. I mean, I understand why Mackey likes that definition,, because it is an easy leap to claim that government regulation is a form of government control, which would then mean that any regulation of the market is a form of Fascism, and we all know how much large-scale business owners hate restrictive government regulations, like OSHA and the FDA. They always manage to get in the way of profits.

Maybe we're having so much trouble finding Mackey's "standard dictionary definition" of Fascism because he was describing an economic system, when Fascism is a political philosophy or ideology. Granted, political philosophies can have economic consequences, but side effects of government strategies aren't really covered in their "standard dictionary definition."

Of course, we could give Mackey the benefit of the doubt (much like he does for his employees, who he assumes will "abuse" their healthcare if it isn't expensive enough) and assume he meant a standard textbook definition, but then we would have to assume that he is actually spending his spare time pouring over economic and political textbooks. This would be a pretty big assumption, since we all know how much baggage/history can bog down a textbook.

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...
speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Besides, we all know that wealthy business owners don't read textbooks. They read management strategy books written by other business owners, circling the wagons of their economic theory knowledge into a huge incestuous orgy of self-aggrandizing misinformation. Have you ever seen a business owner run as a presidential candidate that didn't come off as a complete joke? Did Herman Cain seem like an intelligent, well-read man with a yearning for political involvement, or some gibbering crackpot who thought running a chain of pizza shops qualified him to run a country? Did Mitt Romney strike you as a political mastermind when he tried to claim that the healthcare model he created was somehow great for him, but a bad idea for Obama? And if anybody you know actually took Donald Trump seriously as a political voice, let a lone a candidate, you should probably avoid all future contact with that person, as they are obviously a danger to themselves and others.

Let's do the nation a favor and stop asking business owners how the country should be run. Failed business owners like Bush Junior are bad enough. If we ever get a successful businessman into the White House, we'll all be getting copies of Who Moved My Cheese instead of unemployment checks to help us through the recession. The majority of successful business owners are successful because they know how to package a product or service at a lower cost than they sell it for, usually at the expense of quality or employee compensation, and only tend to get involved in politics when something the government does threatens to cut into their profit margin. You know, like trying to make healthcare less profit-driven and more affordable.

In short, stop asking this ass-whole (Get it? Whole Foods? HA!) what's good for the economy, because in the end all that Mackey and others like him are concerned about is their profit margin, and protecting that isn't doing anybody but Mackey any good.
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Friday, November 2, 2012

Are You Better Off? Scott Weighs In

It's a question that Romney supporters are fond of throwing around smugly, one of those supposedly undeniable truth statements that are supposed to stop you in your tracks because there is no way to answer it without admitting that the person asking is correct in their assumptions. In this case, the assumption is that Obama hasn't made anything better in America. It's a weird about-face, as it is usually the incumbent asking the question as way of underlining how good they've been at their job.

Since we are only days away from the 2012 Presidential Elections, I'm feeling rather motivated to actually answer this question. The last four years haven't been especially easy for anybody not in the top 10% (you know, the people who own the country, it seems), but I think it's fair to answer the question on an individual bases, considering that the question is meant to motivate my individual vote.

Anyway, comparing November 2008 with November 2012, am I better off now than I was four years ago?

Four years ago, I was:

*Laid off after fifteen years with the same company, because the sudden economic downturn crippled the entire industry in a matter of months.

*Subsequently laid up with the Swine Flu for a month (Happy Holidays!) with no medical insurance.

*Suddenly stuck with not being able to afford classes after having started attending college night classes again the previous year.

*Living in a house suddenly worth $30,000 less than it was two years ago.

Today, I am:

*Working for a new small business owner that isn't squeamish about hiring new employees during an Obama presidency, despite all Right Wing claims to the contrary.

*Still in possession of my house, thanks in part to extended federal unemployment benefits that helped me to stay afloat for the year and a half I was unemployed, and helped me stay financially intact enough so that I was prepared to survive the year and a half I was forced to work for an exploitative business owner who denied his employees federally-protected overtime pay and made Labor Day a non-payed holiday.

*One class away from obtaining my degree, thanks to Obama's improvements to the Pell Grant system, including allowing Unemployment benefits to be disregarded when calculating Pell Grant eligibility.

*Living in a state that was ravaged by a hurricane (ironically sharing the name of the employer that laid me off four years ago), and seeing my state survive and recover from the disaster with the help of immediately received support from FEMA, the organization that Romney has gleefully contemplated defunding in past interviews.

Is everything 100% better or back to normal four years later? Of course not. I'm still without medical insurance, and the medical insurance I will be eligible for soon will undoubtedly cost me more than it did when I last had it. Also, I love my new job, but I'm still not close to restoring my financial situation to what it once was, and real estate values still haven't recovered enough for my mortgage lose its underwater status.

But am I better off than I was four years ago, unemployed at the beginning of the worst recession since the Great Depression, licked to the curb by my career occupation at a time in which College Graduates and Six-Figure-Salary professionals were already begging for entry-level positions, sick with an as-of-yet undiagnosed pig disease as I watched Obama being sworn into office?

You bet your ass I am.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

The REAL Reason Behind Romney's Fake Donation Drive

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, most political junkies are no doubt being bombarded with the videos of Romney putting on his Emergency Donation Drive while ignoring repeated questions shouted out to him regarding his feelings towards FEMA. Having called FEMA both "immoral" and "an abomination" (or is that 'Obamination'?), reporters were obviously eager to see what he had to say about the relief organization as it was currently attending to needy hurricane victims up and down the East Coast. If you missed it, here it is again. Try not to giggle too much.

Other info regarding this shameful exploitation photo-op has been so numerous, it's hard to pick a favorite. Whether it's the campaign purchasing supplies and displaying them as donated goods in case donation turnout was low, people only being allowed to greet Romney if they had donations to give him while shaking his hand (to the point of allowing some to hand over already donated items as they met him), only directing donated good to swing states on the East Coast, or the fact that both The Red Cross and FEMA both specifically state on their sites that donated goods are far less effective to them than cash donations, there's definitely something for everybody to harp on.

What's missing, however, is what this photo-op was meant to do in the first place. Of course, the fact that it failed so miserably means that we will never hear the message that was meant to follow the performance of this ill-conceived Saturday Afternoon Special. However, sometimes the intention is just as important as the result, so it's a little disheartening that most of the news outlets are dropping the ball on this one.

Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Whenever "Small Government" Republicans rally against the evils of government spending to help society's needy, they always double-back and cover their Christian Idealism tracks with the claim that charity is of course a good thing, but that this Charity should come from the churches and community, not inefficient government programs. Romney's display of community charity flopped while those inefficient government programs were saving lives and assisting in recovering from the wreckage, so they'll never get a chance to use this as the selling point that they hoped it would be, but this photo-op was not meant as a promotional for Team Romney's Disaster Relief as much as it was supposed to be a clear demonstration of how mobilized community charity can fill the shoes of organizations like FEMA.

The lesson learned from this sad demonstration is just as damaging as the teenage birth rates from states with abstinence-only sex education. Community and religious organized charity (which the Republicans always assume are one in the same, by the way) are welcomes and needed, but lack the ability to match even a fraction of the ability our government has to mobilize rescue and relief crews during a national emergency, weather related or otherwise. This, and it scares me that I need to actually spell this out for some people, is what our government is supposed to do; protect its citizens from threats both foreign and domestic. The Right was so successful in selling the Terrorism threat as the new Red Scare that they've managed to convince a lot of people that the domestic part of that protection only refers to crime and terrorism, and not the other disasters that can befall this countries people.

It is under this confusion of what the government is meant to protect us from that the Republicans try to convince us that FEMA, welfare, healthcare, firefighters, law enforcement, and a host of other programs meant to protect American citizens from tragedy and despair are not actually the job of the government, but of the citizens themselves. Or more specifically, the corporations that will eagerly privatize these organizations the moment Republicans open the door for them. because when you're faced with a disaster and need rescuing or support, what you really want is a for-profit organization deciding whether or not saving you is beneficial to their fiscal budget. Which, coincidentally, is what Republicans like Romney have been gleefully demanding that the government do; check the pocketbook, and don't respond until you're sure that rescue and relief will come in under budget. Fools rush in, after all.

So yes, Romney's little Donation Drive was a laughing stock. But it's the policies behind the photo-op that we should be laughing at, and loudly enough so everybody hears us.
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Strange Land #16: Presidential Debate Woes

Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Episode #16 of the Strangers in a Strange Land stands as an audio documentation of the sad, morally oppressive act of watching and covering the first of three Presidential Debates. Needless to say there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. We play highlights from the debate, dissemble several of Romney's lies, and cover the after-debate coverage, all of which does nothing to raise our spirits.

To lighten things up, we end the show by discussing the suicide aired live on Fox News during Shepard Smith's show Fox Report.

Yeah, it's going to be that kind of month.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Strange Land #15: Wake the Fuck Up!

English: Anti-Barack Obama demonstrator at an ...
English: Anti-Barack Obama demonstrator at an Obama rally, Springfield, Missouri, on November 1, 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This episode of Strangers in a Strange Land kicks off with what has to be the best political ad ever, Samuel L. Jackson's instant hit video, Wake the Fuck Up!

Then, after a recap of the past week, Scott takes a moment to visit his favorite bat-shit-crazy right-wing political blog, Godfather Politics, the perfect site to visit if you need a quick reminder of how stupid and insane your more popular right-wing positions really are.

Did you know that Obama wants to turn us all into ants? Crazy until you realize it's meant as a metaphor, then stupid as you read the metaphor, then crazy again as realize how irrational the ant colony/socialist agenda analogy is upon even a cursory examination.

This leads to Scott's confession that for three days he actually believed that the Obama birth certificate that White House release was a forgery, proving that even the most rational individual can be temporarily swayed to believe the most ludicrous claims until taking the time to investigate further.

Not to get stuck totally on political junkie talk, Joey ends the show on a more upbeat note by switching gears to some lighthearted TMZ coverage of the Johnny Lewis murder/suicide.

Finally, for your tea-bagging enjoyment, a video explaining why the White House-released Obama Birth Certificate was not a forgery.

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