After Pope Francis responds to lesbian author Francesca Pardi by sending a blessing to her and her partner Maria Silvia Fiengo, a Vatican spokesperson issues a clarification that the blessing in no way changes Rome's policy of opposing same-sex unions.
Pardon me for sending virtual slaps to gay Catholics who get teary-eyed and hopeful over the Pope's charming window dressing. At this point, your determined hopefulness is willful self-delusion. There is no sign that the Vatican has the slightest interest in changing its virulently anti-gay doctrines. The pope's occasional nice statements and gestures do not change that. This reminds me of the 1990s when some of us would get bowled over by President Clinton saying "gay" in a speech, despite the fact that he screwed us over on marriage and military service. We need to grow up, pay attention, and fight back.
Stop the bigoted double standards: Blaming all black people for any black person's violence, or blaming all gay people for any gay person's violence, raises the question of why all white people are not blamed for any white person's violence. The answer is that it doesn't occur to anyone to do group-blaming except toward minorities. This will not stop unless we work together to make it stop.
It is sad that some have chosen to politicize this tragedy by falsely attributing the officer's death to a movement seeking to end violence.— deray mckesson (@deray) August 29, 2015
Racism is white people saying any Black violence is caused by BLM, but ignoring racists saying they were inspired by Trump to assault folks— r. (@Are0h) August 29, 2015
He sure keeps us guessing, doesn't he: Pope Francis gives blessing to author of gay children's book http://t.co/bPtZ7BiQ8c— huffpostgay (@huffpostgay) August 28, 2015
Another charming gesture by Pope Francis. That is fine as far as it goes; but I am a policy man, and pastoral gestures are not enough. He will be in D.C. three weeks from now as part of his visit to the United States. The closest I expect to get is when he visits St. Matthew's Cathedral, which is three blocks south of my apartment. I wish him well, and certainly consider him a vast improvement over his predecessor. But I am now 59. I was 23 when I first was in D.C. during a papal visit in 1979. I long ago stopped waiting for what my friend Craig calls Holy Mother the Church, Inc. to reform itself. I send my best wishes to those who made a different choice and continue to push for change from within the community of the faithful.
The horror of racist violence is never more present than when you look at the posthumous photo of Emmett Till, who was murdered 60 years ago at age 14 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The photo is easy to find online, but I will not inflict it on you. Once seen, it can never be unseen. We only have it because his mother Mamie bravely ordered an open casket and said, "I want them to see what they did to my son." Three months later, Rosa Parks was arrested on a municipal bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and the discipline and determination shown by African Americans in resistance to injustice changed the nation. A new generation is stepping up to contend with the fact that hatred and the violence it fosters continues to plague us.
In my Blade column this week, artists and activists overcome the background noise:
Hyenas would be better conversationalists, I sometimes think as I scan political arguments on social media. This is not unlike a Republican presidential debate, where a Bad Lip Reading parody is just as enlightening as the original.
When former president Jimmy Carter spoke candidly and with good humor last week about his cancer, millions were inspired by his serenity, humility, and grace. But the next day, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attacked him. When I said on Facebook that I recently read Carter's 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and found it fair and reasonable, I was met with scorn by someone who had not read it.
This reckless speed is all too common in public forums. So let us look at a few examples of activists and artists rising above the din of the keyboard warriors to propose useful reforms or tell their stories in ways that help us see differently.
After weeks of squabbles by various people over direct-action tactics in the Black Lives Matter movement, policy solutions were issued by activists DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett, and Samuel Sinyangwe. The effort, called Campaign Zero, is described as a "comprehensive platform to create systems and structures to end police violence." Their detailed plans (see joincampaignzero.org) are informed proposals by practical public policy advocates, notwithstanding sniping and trivializing like that of a self-described anarchist I encountered on Twitter.
The #CampaignZero planning team writes, "Police in England, Germany, Australia, Japan, and even cities like Newark, NJ, and Richmond, CA, demonstrate that public safety can be ensured without killing civilians. By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States."
#CampaignZero #StraightOuttaCompton #BlackLivesMatter #HugoAwards
I cannot improve on these Facebook comments by our friend Ernest Hopkins:
A giant in the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. history is gone. Mrs. Boynton Robinson's contributions were critical and immeasurable. Job very well done. R.I.P.
My initial reaction to Wednesday's horrific shooting death of a Roanoke television reporter and cameraman during a morning news broadcast, other than shock and sadness, was that we need fewer guns and better mental health care. But I like a friend's comments on Facebook:
There is a really offensive meme going around that says to "like & share if you blame [Vester Flanagan] for the Virginia shooting...not the gun." My response to the people who have posted it and it showed up in my feed:
"I blame every single person who prevents implementation of policies and procedures to keep people like him from having access to guns in the first place. I blame everyone who refuses to recognize the critical need and provide funding and help for people who suffer with mental health issues. Then I blame him. I don't blame the gun."
Mr. Flanagan was sufficiently responsible to know what he was doing...otherwise he would not have had the wherewithal to send a manifesto or liveblog his actions. He could and should have voluntarily walked into any hospital or police station and declared he was in crisis and the tragedy could have been averted.
He plainly was a troubled man. I hope his family tried to get him help. Even so, the system failed everyone in this case...same as it has before...same as it will again. Anyone who claims they are pro-life, pro-family, and a Christian, is anything but if they oppose fixing our laws and our society to prevent tragedies involving guns. It's just that simple. Stop playing along with them and they will lose their power.
Some on the right, I suppose inevitably, are blaming the shooting on #BlackLivesMatter activists, whose advocacy is nonviolent and in protest against state-sanctioned violence against black citizens. The fact that the shooter, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot, was also gay (according to a manifesto posted in his name, purportedly by him) only gives more red meat to the haters.
A few months ago, around LGBT Pride, I announced a policy of apologizing for every crime or calamity that anyone blames on gay people as a class. This of course is ridiculous, unless you are prepared to blame (say) Ted Bundy's serial murders of women on all straight guys. But reason has little to do with scapegoating of minorities, so I wish to apologize for these horrific killings. I am so sorry. What was I thinking. Please forgive me. And fuck you ignorant motherfuckers. Oh, sorry, I was temporarily channeling Samuel L. Jackson.
Seriously, we need to do something about the proliferation and glorification of guns in this country. Due to a second fatal shooting Wednesday, you couldn't bring up "the shooting" without clarifying which one you meant.
As another friend said last evening, in response to a colleague who snarkily suggested it is "peak assimilation" when a deranged shooter announces he's gay:
The fact he was gay, and his complaints around such, are irrelevant. He was severely mentally ill. If he'd been told they were out of his favorite cone at Dairy Queen, he'd have imagined some slight that was worthy of massacre.
Yes. Let's address the problem, not exploit it to score cheap points on social media.
Sen. Cruz simply turns the truth on its head and portrays discriminators as victims of persecution. That only makes sense if gay people are not human beings, or not rightful citizens, or if there is no secular public space. What Cruz and others call religious freedom is really religious supremacy for them over the rest of us. We have no choice but to fight back.
In a long-ago Doonesbury cartoon, Joanie Caucus says to her dying friend after he and his doctor trade some gallows humor, "How can you joke about this?" He replies, "How can you not?"