Tag Archives: Prejudice

There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. — Henry David Thoreau

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“Do you think religion inherently good?” This was a rhetorical question posed to the class when I was a student at Queen’s University in 1986. The class was in a course in the history of Christianity. The question was posed by Professor William P. Zion who was on the faculty of the department of religious studies and the Queen’s Theological College. He was also a Russian Orthodox Priest, Father Basil. We were young students who never stopped to think about this. Professor Zion answered the question for us, telling us, “no, religion is not inherently good.” He cited the fact that historically Christians gathered to watch people burned at the stake as a witness to their faith. Professor Zion had a bit of fun with the class in posing this question, but what made me recall this memory is the fact that the majority of humanity practices some kind of religion. I appreciate and understand the appeal of religion for people. I was a pious Roman Catholic myself for several years. Interestingly, it was Father Basil who supported and encouraged me to accept my gayness and continue practicing my faith. I concur with Professor Zion in that I do not think religion is inherently good. This puts me in a bind at times as I interact with people of various faiths, who view their faith as inherently good, right and desirable, both personally and informally in my daily life. Continue reading

Indiana wants me, Lord, I can’t go back there. — R. Dean Taylor

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Indiana is a state situated in the mid-western United States and is well-known across the rest of the United States and much of the world for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, one of the most prestigious motor sport races in the world. This week, however, Indiana finds itself in the spotlight because of the the passage of SB 101 the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law on March 26, 2015 and the law goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The legislation is necessary, as supporters of the legislation such as Eric Miller of  Advance America asserted because, “it is vitally important to protect religious freedom in Indiana […] to help protect churches, Christian businesses and individuals from those who want to punish them because of their Biblical beliefs!” (Victory at the State House) Those in opposition to the legislation such as Democratic Party Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane fear the legislation allows for discrimination on religious grounds. As Senator Lanane stated it is “extremely disappointing that Governor Pence endorses this out-of-touch, discriminatory legislation. Not only is this law unnecessary, it unfortunately has already portrayed our state as intolerant, unfriendly, and backwards; things which I believe most Hoosiers reject.” (as cited in the Indy Star) Governor Pence disagrees, stating “this bill is not about discrimination and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.” (as cited in the Indy Star) Is religious freedom threatened in Indiana and does this legislation intended to safeguard religious freedom allow for lawful discrimination on religious grounds? These questions merit further discussion. Continue reading

I really feel like knife skills – not just in the kitchen, but in life – are really critical. — Timothy Ferriss

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Humans have survived and become the dominant species on Earth as they are living, intelligent beings who apply their ingenuity in making and using tools. From the Stone Age on, humans fashioned an array of tools, of which blades were and are a primary implement. In the Stone Age, there were individuals who mastered the craft of knapping flint to form knives, spears and arrowheads for hunting and butchering game. In time, humans mastered metallurgy, fashioning knives, swords, spears and arrowheads first from bronze and finally iron. In ancient Mesoamerica, Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, fashioned blades from obsidian. In the present day, knives are mostly made from a blend of carbon steel and stainless steel. Knives are a common household item found in the kitchens in every home. Together with their use as common household items, knives are still used for hunting and warfare. With a sharp edge and pointed tip, the knife has to be handled with care. It can inflict a nasty wound if handled carelessly or with malice. Continue reading

Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.–Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

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While attitudes toward gay people have changed a great deal for the better in my lifetime, prejudice and stereotypes remain. There is one stereotype in particular that bothers me and kept me from coming out until later in life: that of the gay man as a predator from whom children must be protected. I am told I am good in my interaction with children and young people. I am gentle and soft-spoken and very easy going and children generally like me. Because of this, it was suggested that I consider a career in teaching by one of my mentors at Queen’s University. I was reluctant to go into teaching because of this stereotype. I was confronted with this stereotype and the prejudice against gay men as teachers in 1986, the year I graduated from Queen’s, when the Chairman of the Frontenac County Board of Education, in commenting on the amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code which added sexual orientation to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, was dismayed that he no longer had any legal grounds to refuse to hire a teacher if he knew he was dealing with an “obvious faggot.” Continue reading

You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight. –Barry Goldwater (1909-1998)

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The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the United States is great news for gay couples who are employed by the federal government, particularly those who are serving in the US military. Interestingly, the ban on gays serving in the US military was lifted before the repeal of DOMA and the effort to lift this ban was supported by what you might think was a most unlikely advocate: none other than Barry Goldwater (1909-1998).  Goldwater was a staunch conservative, anti-communist politician whose career in federal politics began in 1952 as a Senator for the State of Arizona and presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 1964, continuing until his retirement in 1987. He was forthright and clear in his thought concerning gay rights in US society and gays serving in the US military and not in the way you may be thinking.  With regard to gays serving in the military he stated “everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar. They’ll still be serving long after we’re all dead and buried. That should not surprise anyone.” He added:

The conservative movement, to which I subscribe, has as one of its basic tenets the belief that government should stay out of people’s private lives. Government governs best when it governs least – and stays out of the impossible task of legislating morality. But legislating someone’s version of morality is exactly what we do by perpetuating discrimination against gays. (Lifting ban on gays in military should be conservative cause) Continue reading

Our agenda you say… oh really?

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The term “homosexual agenda,” is a trope commonly used by social conservatives, particularly those from religious constituencies in referring to efforts by gay people who want tolerance, if not acceptance for who they are, their relationships and families. The term was invented by the Family Research Council in 1992, an Evangelical Protestant group and lobbying organization established in the United States in 1981 by James Dobson. Interestingly, Dobson is a licensed psychologist in the state of California. He has academic credentials, a doctorate in child development from the University of Southern California and held the position of Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine 14 years. In addition, he served for 17 years on the staff of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics. Dobson is intelligent, but remains a minor figure in academic circles. He is better known for his business acumen and influence as a conservative lobbyist. Continue reading