Thursday, September 10, 2009


Damn It, Toto, Who Wants to Be in Kansas?!?

Hopefully, most of the residents of Alameda, California don't:

I'M BEGINNING TO feel like Dorothy when she and Toto landed in Oz. I don't think I'm in Alameda any more.

No, it feels more like Kansas"... or Texas, or any of the other states where the religious right tried to take over school boards in the 1990s. Then, they didn't want their children taught that Darwin was right. Substitute "homosexuality" for "evolution" and you understand their current obsession.

Two well-funded conservative political action groups — the Capitol Resource Institute and the Pacific Justice Institute — have decided to make Alameda the next beachhead in their culture war by bankrolling the recall and the lawsuit. Pacific Justice Institute has already extorted money from the Castro Valley schools by making them settle a bogus lawsuit to avoid an expensive and time-consuming legal defense.

The recall referred to is an effort to oust three Alameda school board members who had the temerity to support curriculum that aims to curb anti-gay bullying by teaching a course aimed at to breaking down stereotypes and educating children about different types of families.

As the writer of the above Letter to the Editor, Allan Mann, points out, the hypocrisy involved in the opposition is evident:

The leader of the recall effort, Pastor Dion Evans, claimed initially that he opposed the anti-bullying curriculum because it did not address bullying of other protected groups. But now that the school board has wisely decided to expand the curriculum to do just that, he's not dropping his opposition. At least those behind the lawsuit are being honest: "I'm opposed to teaching my child that homosexuality is morally acceptable," said one of the parents bringing the suit.

Naturally, the best way to do that is to keep your children ignorant of the fact that there are homosexuals and that they are people too. And if they or their children are bullied in school, well, I guess that's just the wages of sin.

You may remember the Pacific Justice Institute, which took "Lawsuit Larry" Caldwell's frivolous case against the U.C. Berkeley Understanding Evolution website.

Let's hope they have all the same success in this case as they did with Caldwell's.


Oh, and by the way, the British have learned that lesson before us and can even admit their past mistakes:
2009 has been a year of deep reflection - a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience. Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ - in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence - and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison - was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.

But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate - by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices - that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.

So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.

- Gordon Brown, Prime Minister

If you think the Prime Mentalist wrote that or even knows who Turing was, I suspect that you're wrong.

Not even sure how much good, if any, such apologies are.

On the californian's in favour of bullying I hope they get their arses handed to them.

The apology was almost certainly written by a professional speach writer but would with absolute certainty have been read and authorised by 'Gordie', who also with certainty knows who Turing was. At the time of the release of the film U-571 questions were asked in the House of Commons which means that all front bench politicians were briefed on all aspects of Enigma, Blechtly Park and Alan Turing.

You're assuming that James G Brown listened and retained the information.

As for approving it, I'm sure he did say OK to the civil servant who wrote it, especially as it cost him nothing.

If you think that a professional politician as experienced and successful as Gordie would make a public apology as Prime Minister to the entire gay and lesbian community as wide ranging and as open as the one that he did without first carefully controlling the contents then I’ve got a bridge that you might be interested in buying.
I suspect Thony's right. Professional politicians (at least the ones that don't come from Texas) don't usually sign off on such a potentially controversial statement without having at least a sketchy idea of what is being talked about.

Of course, the apology does nothing for Turing and the others who suffered under Britian's draconian laws but it may move the Overton window that everyone talks about a tad in the right direction.
But the statement is in no way controversial in the UK.
From my viewpoint it was wishy washy.

The UK really doesn't have a powerful raving anti-gay lobby.

We have openly gay politicians at all levels, including Mandleson who many suspect is more powerful than Brown.

Openly gay people get elected to parliament, it's no big deal anymore, for the majority.

Not really the place to discuss Brown, our opinions of him seem to differ a little.
Feel free to post the bridge details, I promise to peruse them more carefully than Brown does his statements.

The UK really doesn't have a powerful raving anti-gay lobby.

When has that ever stopped a politician from catering to them?

When has that ever stopped a politician from catering to them?


Fair enough.
He might be worried about the muslims and their influence in the marginals; but, even though I dislike him, I really don't think he'ld dis the LGBTs on their account.

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