Archive for March 15th, 2006

Once in a while you run across a thought so well expressed and so meaningful and so f*cking human, it makes you pause, reflect, and wonder why these ideas aren't the ones that make the headlines and protests and hubbub.

Well today I found two in the letters of the Billings Gazette. First, Kenny Stokes:

Like it or not, cowboys are sometimes gay

Vera-Beth Johnson's March 7 letter titled "Hollywood perverts heroic cowboy image" is the epitome of the homophobic and ignorant attitude many small-town and rural people have in our state. Johnson won't see the film "Brokeback Mountain" because, as she writes, "I don't have to lift the lid of a garbage can to know what's inside," but she should see the movie. It may awaken her to the reality that there are gay cowboys, most of whom must remain closeted for fear of professional as well as physical ramifications.

Johnson needs to know that of the thousands of cowboys she and her husband have known, at least 3 percent of them are homosexual. The statistic applies to all races, religions, professions and cultures.

She should know about the International Gay Rodeo Association, which has 32 regional associations throughout the United States and Canada with thousands of gay members who are also "real cowboys" (and cowgirls).

She should visit any major city in the western United States to discover they all have gay bars that cater to cowboys and cowgirls. The Loft, a gay bar here in Billings, has patrons from all over Montana and Wyoming.

As is the case with gay men and women having served in the military, many of those "real" cowboys, the "stalwarts who won the West," were homosexual.

Sort of a simple concept, really. People are gay. Not perverts or degenerates, but people. And people who are tired of being defined, judged and valued solely by the sex of their partner.

Which brings us to Elaine Wesnick's letter:

Gay brother important part of large family

I also read the "Hollywood pervert" letter. My reaction was the same as Teri Riehl's. I have had people tell me that they don't know a gay person. Amazingly, we know the same gay people.

I have a brother, Steve, who is gay. He is one of six in a Catholic family. There was a time in my life when, though I loved him, I seriously wished he were not gay. A person who is gay is not only discriminated against, but is also in danger of physical harm.

Why would anyone seriously think an anti-bullying law that protects our young people would promote a "gay agenda." Does a law forbidding bullying of religions cause people to change religions?

I have now come to realize that my brother is perfect the way he is. Ten years ago he had my mother move in with him, to better care for her. Two of my nieces live with him and his partner while going to school in California. He is an intelligent, caring person. There is a saying in our family, "If we didn't have Steve, we would have had to invent him."

He doesn't need to change at all, but there is room in our judgmental society for change.

Not only are people gay, but some of our best people are gay.

These arguments are so simple because they're true. You can feel it through the core of your body and into your soul. True. Capital "t". T.

Like I always say, if you don't like gays, don't f*ck 'em.

I'm beginning to think that those on the right are confused about the meaning of "fair" and "balanced."

To wit: the language state Attorney General, Mike McGrath, is using to describe ballot initiatives 97 and 98.

You know ballot initiative 97. That's the infamous "Stop Overspending" bill whose idiot older stepbrother, Colorado's TABOR bill, crippled that state's education system. The proponents of initiative 97 — no doubt a cabal of Norquist lackeys — object to language in the ballot stating that Montana's Constitution already requires a balanced budget. Apparently 97's backers realize that their bill will appear, at best, superfluous if Montana voters are educated about their existing legislation.

Ballot intiative 98 is in a way creepier, because it attacks the very foundation of check and balances in most of American political structures. According to the Gazette's story,

CI-98 would allow citizens to attempt to recall judges for almost any reason. Currently, judges and other public officials can be recalled only for specific reasons, such as misconduct or "lack of fitness."

For those in need of a review of 6th-grade civics (apparently the entire GOP), the reason the judiciary is given life-time appointments largely free from unreasonable recall is that judges are supposed to work unfettered from popular movements and politics, offering at least a philosophical check against the populism associated with legislative deliberation and a definite check against the power of the executive. Judges are supposed to interpret the law, not watch their backs against political machinations.

But right-wingers want judges answerable to politics. That's because they want their radical programs to sail through the judiciary, even if it violates law. Like, say, wiretapping without a warrant.

So what language do intiative 98 backers object to? Again, they dislike that Montana voters be informed about the existing law.

On CI-98, supporters said McGrath improperly used the descriptive language to tell what the current law allows on recalling judges, rather than more fully describing the contents of CI-98.

McGrath's statement recounts current law and then says CI-98 amends the constitution "to provide for recall by petition of state court justices or judges for any reason."

CI-98 would allow citizens to petition to recall judges for almost any reason, and requires them to get a certain number of signatures on the petition to qualify the recall for the ballot.

"The statements (by McGrath) give voters the false impression that no parameters exist with respect to submitting a recall petition," the suit said. "Recall is not just 'any reason' but rather any reason for cause as determined by voters."

Hm. So…if McGrath adds those six words — "for cause as determined by voters"– they'd be happy? Heck, add the language! Why not? As a former English comp. teacher, I hereby attest that those six words really don't clarify anything…but it if shuts up the wingnuts, go ahead, add 'em!

What disturbs me about these petitions is that the backers of these radical right-wing initiatives prefer that Montanans remain ignorant about the current content of the law. It's as if they believe if Montanans know what laws already existed they'd realize they already have reasonable, more moderate, more practical legislation on the books that address the same issues that 97&8ers are saying need addressing.

Again, it shows that the right wing needs to keep people ignorant on issues in order to steamroll us all under their ideology.

Jon Tester’s video

Thanks to Matt Singer for bringing this up: a two-minute video of Jon Tester is available on Google video.

Frankly, it's awesome. Here's the opening:

Hello. I'm Jon Tester and, like all of you, I have just one question. What the hell is Conrad Burns still doing in office?

This is exactly the kind of boldness I like in a Democratic candidate! Check it out, the whole video has the same tone. It's almost impossible to resist! Must…not…endorse…Tester…

Anybody know where we can find Morrison's two-minute deal? I'd like to give him a chance, too.

Creep: Bruce King

This week's winner of 4&20 blackbird's creep label is a Bitterroot prude and woman-hater. He submitted a letter that appeared in today's Missoulian:

Colleges are going into porn business

It has been brought to my attention that the University of Montana and Montana State University appear to be going into the porn business with the stage production of the “Vagina Monologues 2006.”

Haven't we got enough of porn theaters in Missoula and Hamilton (porn stores) without higher education establishments adding to the pain? Is the further degradation of womanhood to be advanced in the downward path to hell in the name of First Amendment rights?

This is or will occur this year in over 284 ivory towers across the United States (even in so-called Christian schools).

Further evidence in Robert Bark's apt description of America's “Slouching Toward Gomorrah.”

First, I didn't know there were porn theaters in Missoula and Hamilton! Thanks for the info, Bruce! (Apparently Bruce wants to limit access to porn to creepy men.)

Second, I want to thank Bruce for underscoring my points about conservatism and women's sexuality. That a play whose aim is to make women comfortable about their bodies and sexuality is considered "porn" by the squeamish only shows how hard some men are working to keep their women "pure," "virginal," and home.

Third, a note to Bruce: the "Vagina Monologues" has been running for, um, what? Fifteen years? Twenty? And has been performed at UMT regularly for at least ten.

Fourth: That's Robert Bork, not "Bark." 'Nuff said about that particular source.

And my last point about this letter: this is what happens in the wake of an abortion ban. Attacks on women. Ask yourself, why has this man waited ten years to write his angry letter? That's because the right is on a campaign to destroy the Monologues. Sure, the Monologues aren't perfect. For one, the play implies that violence towards women is easing and that there's progress in the women's movement. But the play is funny and celebrates love, sex, and the spirit of individuality.

These are good things.


The New York Review of Books has a great essay by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells on the health care crisis. Their solution? Oh, what’s obvious to everyone except for DC politicians: a single-payer healthcare system.

Why are we in Iraq? Ask a hundred people, get a hundred answers.

Another reason to dislike Republicans. A Texas father refuses to pay for his son’s college education because he’s a Democrat. In Montana Republicans won’t pay for anyone to go to college. (PS – The son is raising college funds on the ‘Net. Support him!)

Yes, Montana’s Democratic Senator favored censuring the president….president Clinton, that is. Congratulations to Sen. Baucus for cowering in the face of principle.

Law & Order to air an episode involving a corrupt lobbyist, Indian casinos, a mysterious murder, and congressmen. Sounds like a trailer for the upcoming Abramoff sentencing…

The ReddHedd’s beautiful and comprehensive rant on the incompetence, flip-flopping, lies and other sordid behavior of the administration and its Iraq “policy.”

The FBI is monitoring anti-war activists. Hm, between my days as a student in East Germany and living in Moscow, my anti-war activities, my correspondence with an Arab-American writer, and my outspoken opposition to the Bush administration on this site, what are the chances I have a file?

Kevin Drum has a nice post about a new book exploring the relationship of the US South and the GOP.

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