view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

mom, i'm gay

Raw Story links to this bit from the AP via Washington Post from Saturday:

Parents Complain About Book's Undertones

The Associated Press
Saturday, March 4, 2006; 12:22 PM

SAVANNAH, Mo. -- A children's book about two male penguins that raise a baby penguin has been moved to the nonfiction section of two public library branches after parents complained it had homosexual undertones.

The illustrated book, "And Tango Makes Three," is based on a true story of two male penguins, named Roy and Silo, who adopted an abandoned egg at New York City's Central Park Zoo in the late 1990s.

The book, written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, was moved from the children's section at two Rolling Hills' Consolidated Library's branches in Savannah and St. Joseph in northwest Missouri.

Two parents had expressed concerns about the book last month.

Barbara Read, the Rolling Hills' director, said experts report that adoptions aren't unusual in the penguin world. However, moving the book to the nonfiction section would decrease the chance that it would "blindside" readers, she said.

Even if it happens in nature, presumably as their intelligent designer intended, but it's a little too gay, whatever you do don't let the children see it.

The poor children! -- they might get the wrong idea, like that not everything in this hugely complicated universe as we know it follows their precious tradition their parents have made damn sure infects their entire worldview.

I know this might come as a shock to the wingnuts out there, but sometimes shit happens. Sometimes you just have to accept what comes, and make the best of it, even if it doesn't happen as you (or your Book) predict.

To me, this is really what they're talking about and what a few others have been talking about lately with the attempts in South Dakota to enact a society that believes forced childbirth is okay. (Read Digby. Now.)

I mean, isn't that what we're really talking about here? Look, I know we're talking about penguins -- but this just seems like such a perfect example of the type of thinking that makes people believe this hateful shit. Look at it like this: at least as far as the penguin scenario, when the mother isn't present because, oh, she was eaten by some sea lion/shark/killer whale/other predator or dies because she gets sick or maybe falls off some ice-cliff and breaks her back, and there's absolutely no individual else left to ensure the survival of the offspring, penguins (and I assume many, many other social creatures) have the capacity to sacrifice the procreation of their species (because two males occupied with child-rearing obviously can't occupy themselves with child-making) to ensure the survival of a sure-thing -- at least as much as they can. Let's not even talk about the broader implications for this type of behavior, like how it might have come to be or why it continues to exist -- they're freaking penguins and they have no capacity for self-reflection as we do; it's all biology and brain chemistry.

What is at the heart of the up-in-arm-ness these particularly batty wingnuts are displaying in Missouri, of all places, really is that they just can't handle that sometimes shit happens. Sometimes you are forced to survive, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it that fits into some perfect preconceived way of How Things Ought to Be.

Imagine these parents' reactions if one of their own children were gay and lived their entire life burdened with the unimaginable guilt/insecurity/self-loathing that would undoubtedly come about as a result of that.

See, before we can even talk about it, the wingnuts have framed it as a choice because surely-God-wouldn't-want-things-to-be-that-way. They've managed to distance themselves so much from reality that this idea of choice fundamentally underlies any of their arguments about it. Being gay is living in sin, living exactly contradictory to What God Wants. He just wouldn't have planned it that way, thank you very much, because that's not how It Should Be.

It's so easy for them to look at the world in this cause-and-effect, black-and-white, sin-or-not way because it eliminates the unpredictability and shittiness (and pain and sadness) that life really is. It's easier to live thinking that if some slutty waitress mother of two gets pregnant, she should have kept her legs shut if she knew what was best for her. That if you get AIDS by having sex with someone who didn't tell you about it, you deserve it because God Said Being a Fag is Wrong anyway.

Well what if that mother of two waitress was impregnated when her husband raped her when she was asleep or drugged. It happens, so STOP telling me that abortion is murder and we need to stick up for those poor babies because their murderous mothers hate them.

This is the same type of fear-based argument wingnuts use all the time to rationalize bad shit in the world, but sometimes bad shit just happens and we have nothing else to do except accept that we're still alive (hopefully) and that we have people who love us and that we can love back (hopefully.) When I walk out of my house and some drunk driver hits me and paralyzes me, what could I have done that would have saved me?

Look, you can always say that if you are a good Christian God will help you out and make sure shit like that doesn't happen. But that's not reality. Shit like that does happen and it happens every day to thousands of people for no reason at all. People who ban gay-penguin books or chastise women who become pregnant when they didn't want to argue the way they do because shit like that hasn't happened to them, yet, or they've managed to alienate the people who come to them for help (e.g. gay children) so much that they can function in perpetual denial, or they've religiocized it enough that it becomes "God's will." Well that's bullshit and no one can deny that bad shit happens to good people.

To bring what I've said here more directly into the argument over whether or not women should be forced, against their will, to have a baby, let's just look at the magnificence that is Digby's writing:
People have sex and lots of it, even when the "consequences" are severe. It's basic. And sometimes birth control fails or people lose their heads in the heat of the moment. Accidents happen. It is so banal and mundane and common that it's a bit bizarre to even have to make that explicit in the argument. Accidental, unwanted pregnancy happens every single day by the millions on this planet. Nature (or perhaps the "intelligent designer") expects women to get pregnant as often as possible and created the human sex drive to make that happen. Women, independent sentient beings that they are, want to control how many children they have. It's a constant battle and often times "nature" wins. It isn't a matter of morality. Sex between consenting people is simply human. And the right to abortion is simply a matter of human liberty --- a woman's right to decide her own fate and a woman's right to be a normal sexual being. Without both of those things, she can never truly be free.
Because sex doesn't always lead directly to pregnancy. In fact, a lot of stuff has to be "check" for a woman to get pregnant -- and often after an egg has been fertilized something will go wrong and the zygote will be flushed out of a womb, NATURALLY. All that aside, wingnuts love to argue that if a woman doesn't want to get pregnant, she shouldn't have been such a whore in the first place. Respectfully, WHAT THE FUCK?! So if a woman is married but she and her husband are in dire straits financially, but holy-shit the condom breaks and she gets pregnant, she should have just kept her slutty legs closed in the first place? Yeah, I think a judge would find extended periods of abstinence in a marriage grounds enough for divorce. So I guess that's the next step for South Dakota -- forced marriage, scheduled procreation, forced sterilization after a certain number of kids? (As if the man doesn't have just the same amount of responsibility for a pregnancy -- where are wingnut calls for forced vascectomy?)

To bring this back to the original intention behind this post, why can't we just understand that shit happens, but change the way that we react to it (and by we, I mean you rightist-Christians out there) -- just accept that your life is unpredictable. Your existence is unpredictable. Shit will happen to you that doesn't fit into your view of how things are or how they ought to be. Innocent people are dying by the MILLIONS around the world RIGHT NOW because of war, famine, poverty, disease, exploitation. Maybe they should have been better Christians so that they wouldn't be born into some shithole country where the government is engaged in genocide (I guess it's different because they're brown and smelly,) or mega-corporations think it's okay to pay their workers next-to-nothing and force their female workers to have abortions because it's hard to make flip-flops when you're pregnant.

Everyone and everything you know will die and there's not a damn thing you or God can do about it. That's what it comes down to.

We're all here -- now -- and none of us know how long we're going to be here. You decide: are you going to use your time here to hate and condemn and judge and make this hatred law? Or are you going to live as Jesus did, and leave the judgment to God. Are you going to Love, or will you choose to hate?

It's pretty clear to me -- the penguins loved when they were faced with adversity. Even if it meant -- gasp! -- looking gay. And they didn't even think about it. They just acted as their Designer intended them to act. What will we tell the children?

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