Re: Ex-ex-gay day

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snarkie-warkie


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 8:04 AM
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One thing I'm perpetually struck by: being a self-hating [whatever] is shocking in its potential for destruction.

The other striking thing is the power of pure bullshit to destroy the life of someone who seems, at heart, like a fundamentally decent guy.

He isn't entirely cured of the bullshit, but Venus Williams could certainly learn something from him about how to apologize.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 8:57 AM
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Did Venus do something I missed or are you confusing her with Serena?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 9:03 AM
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She knows what she did.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 9:04 AM
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2,3: politicalfootball now must issue an apology.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 9:05 AM
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Those Williams sisters all look ....

No, wait, that's not the right way to apologize, is it?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 9:16 AM
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The bee in the car analogy doesn't really play out right for me. The bee represents...homophobia? Which was threatening him, through self-loathing, but was externalized to maim dozens of others? What does the bus represent?

At any rate, while I appreciate the sincerity of the apology, one doesn't just accidentally start an international organization to promote self-loathing and abuse among queer people because one was selfishly paying attention to a distracting personal problem. Right?

Maybe I'm taking the metaphor too seriously. He feels bad that he ruined so many people's lives when that was not his primary intent. Whoops.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 9:50 AM
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The bee represents...homophobia?

That would explain why bee colonies keep dying off just as gay marriage started to become accepted.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 9:54 AM
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It should be easy to sympathize with people like this guy and Ted Haggard. They are brought up to perceive their own homosexual urges as something that everyone must overcome in order to be a godly person, and those who give in to them are weak, just like those who commit adultery or other such sins.

Then (hopefully) they realize that not everybody has homosexual urges. In fact, most people who seem to be overcoming them and living normal lives, in fact never had any homosexual urges. And those who do overcome them, do not see them go away.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:00 AM
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7 - Fair point on the bee metaphor, but it's worth noting that Chambers wasn't the founder of Exodus International, which seems to have been founded when he was 6.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:07 AM
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10: Ah yes. Good point.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:11 AM
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I dunno, I'm glad the organization is folding, but I agree that it was a pretty half-assed "apology" -- "I'm sorry for everyone that was hurt?" How about "I'm sorry that I destroyed people's lives?" I've told the story here before about my friend who had been put in a residential Xtian facility in high school, basically for being gay, and who later went crazy. Maybe that was not direct causation, but it can't have helped. Many, many other of my queer friends have been abused, kicked out of their homes, ostracized, etc. because of the bullshit that these fascist asshole closet cases like to spread. I'm sorry that so many of these men (and a few women) who could have been really amazing activists for the liberation of all people went down the other path, but they have. If they want to fully come over, and repudiate homophobia and fascism completely, I'll be the first to welcome them. But this bullshit "I'm still right about Jebus says no buttsex" cop out flim-flam cuts very little ice with me.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:12 AM
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7: It's probably excessively reductive to demand an exact allegory here, since he seems to be telling an actual story from his life, but it's actually pretty easy to contrive one: The bee is the homophobic nonsense that distracted him from reality. The bus is reality.

Sure, there's a proper limit to how sympathetic one ought to be to this guy, but many of us were led astray by our upbringing - including in ways that prompt us to treat other people badly. I admire his integrity in grappling with his issues and I suspect his journey isn't over yet.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:16 AM
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But this bullshit "I'm still right about Jebus says no buttsex" cop out flim-flam cuts very little ice with me.

You'll note, though, that this is merely a statement about how he intends to live his own life. He seems pretty clear that he's going to think very hard before he starts proselytizing again.

In a way this reminds me of McNamara's Vietnam mea culpa. It's true that, on the whole, he's a vile human being, but as best as I can reckon, he didn't have anything to gain by finally telling the truth, and his desire to do so was motivated by an honorable impulse.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:27 AM
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Well, shutting the organization down makes the heartfeltedness of the apology a lot more credible. If the apology was just saying "We still think people should stop being gay, we just don't want to sound hateful about it," then yeah, that definitely would be acting like a horrible person. Acknowledging that his organization shouldn't exist seems like a big step, though.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:43 AM
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14.3: Yeah, but that's what I'm on about. McNamara was a war criminal. Coming around 30-40 years after the fact and dissembling, still trying to avoid responsibility, what the fuck is that going to do for anyone.

13.2: Sure, everybody fucks up. I've done things I shouldn't have. Know what I haven't done? Lead a multi-million dollar organization dedicated to genocide. It was pretty easy to avoid doing that, too. Not a tough decision at all.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:44 AM
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It didn't seem like such a terrible apology, but I hope the harm he and Exodus have done haunts his dreams. Too little, too late. I mean, I hope he settles with his demons and all, but not all closet cases go out and champion reparative therapy and salvation. Some just work it out privately without ruining other people's lives.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:44 AM
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Know what I haven't done? Lead a multi-million dollar organization dedicated to genocide. It was pretty easy to avoid doing that, too.

Easy for you maybe.


Posted by: OPINIONATED HITLER | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:50 AM
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It was pretty easy to avoid doing that, too.

Easy enough not set set off down that road deliberately, but I don't suppose many people do. It's baby steps. I don't imagine Stalin envisaged becoming the joint most evil person of the modern epoch when he was an idealistic young organiser in Baku.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:52 AM
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19: I mentioned in 13 there being an appropriate limit to sympathy. I personally fall on the unsympathetic-to-Stalin side of the line.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:55 AM
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Young Stalin.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 10:58 AM
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I dunno, I'm glad the organization is folding, but I agree that it was a pretty half-assed "apology" -- "I'm sorry for everyone that was hurt?" How about "I'm sorry that I destroyed people's lives?"

This is how you apologize for hurting millions of people.

(Not to diminish the seriousness, but Nat's remark really brought that sketch to mind.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:08 AM
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21: that's really him? What a handsome young devil!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:13 AM
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19.2: I don't recall Stalin ever apologizing. My vague sense is that when old Stalin looked back on his life it was with a sense that he had accomplished far more than he would have dared to imagine in his youth.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:19 AM
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Toward the very end of his life, he regretting not being more murderous toward the Jews.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:22 AM
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16: Genocide?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:24 AM
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25: Wow. Maybe he was feeling competitive with Hitler.

Of all possible end of life regrets Stalin could have, "I didn't kill enough people" is bizarre.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:40 AM
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At least it's less cliched than "I wish I'd spent less time in the office."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:44 AM
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Say what you will about the left, but our mass murderers are a lot more dashing than those of the right.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:45 AM
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And that's what one really wants in a mass murderer: brio.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:46 AM
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26, Yep.
any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such . . . Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
The quibble, I guess, is whether gay counts as one of the protected targets. I think serious mental and bodily harm applies.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:48 AM
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Who wouldn't fall in line behind a young Stalin, Che, or Castro? But Hitler or Pinochet? Only if you hate the world.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:54 AM
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I never suggested you should sympathise with Stalin. But I do believe that if you'd asked him at the age of 25 whether he thought it would be cool to starve ten million people to death and shoot all his comrades who objected, he would have vigorously and honestly denied it. Monsters are made by circumstances over time, very few of them are born that way.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:54 AM
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I think it should be kept in mind that, unlike a lot of rightwing nuts, Chambers walked the walk. He didn't advocate anything for anyone else that he didn't also support in his own life.

Genocide is not normally a crime that one commits against oneself, though heebie correctly notes the phenomenal destructive potential of self-hate.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:56 AM
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34.2: It's fortunate that in my case it seems inseparable from laziness and torpitude.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 11:59 AM
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Counselling, even damaging and under massive social pressure, as genocide seems to water the concept down a bit.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:00 PM
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I want "torpitude" to be a combination of torpor and turpitude.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:02 PM
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Can't. The Navy already uses it for the guy in charge of the torpedoes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:06 PM
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That's the "torpidude".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:07 PM
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That isn't the torpedude?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:07 PM
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Arg pwnage


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:08 PM
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Damn the pwnage! Full speed ahead.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:08 PM
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Not to minimize the horribleness of the damage he did as part of the pray-the-gay-away movement, nor to argue against the too-little-too-late aspect of his apology, you gotta give the guy props for the high-profile public apology, which, in combination with shutting Exodus down (rather than just quietly walking away and handing the reins over to somebody else), goes miles beyond anything anyone in a similar position has ever done, AFAIK. That's kind of a big deal, and I wouldn't want to discourage other such apologies and changes in course by pissing all over this one.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:15 PM
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37:Sloth. My favorite ds


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:21 PM
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If you feel like reading thoughtful folks who're in the "acting on my same-sex attraction isn't what God wants for me" camp, there's Eve Tush/net (old blog, new blog) and this interesting (but defunct) blog.

Tush/net's an interesting example with which to think through the "It's pretty easy to avoid doing evil" vs "Stalin wouldn't have thought he'd end up where he did" argument. From my outsider's PoV, she's never risen higher than minor-league provider of legitimacy to the anti-gay-marriage front (IIRC, she had a job posting content to M Gall/agher's organization's blog for awhile), and her stuff has always been, at least from my PoV, as non-hateful as one can get while still believing what she does (she's also very charming and kind in person). But she *does*, or did, contribute legitimacy to a movement that works for evil; she volunteers (or used to) at one of those "crisis pregnancy centers", etc.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:22 PM
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44: DS = Delicious snack.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:31 PM
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In particular, her case is a reminder of that interesting aspect of the moral luck issue, that is, the luck involved in coming to have a rightly-oriented moral compass. It's quite possible to have, as she seems to, a largely complete set of moral and intellectual virtues, and even to be brought up in a family environment conducive to a correct set of moral beliefs, and yet be nevertheless seduced away from rightness by the peculiar charms of the Church. There but for the grace of whatever go us!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:32 PM
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31: Which of those group designations applies to gay people? National, ethnical, racial, or religious?

It also seems like a stretch to apply the "physical elements" to this case, without also defining proselytization as genocide.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:37 PM
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47: I sometimes see her as having that Slate-contrarian spirit to the extreme -- she was attracted to the Church, because it was for her the hardest possible thing to believe.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:51 PM
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Eve Tush/net is still alive? I thought her fractured anxieties had crushed her to dust long ago.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 12:53 PM
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50 isn't particularly kind (not that this is the place for kindness). I've found ET's writing very much worth reading over the years. She seems to take quite seriously the idea that same-sex-attracted folks are in the same boat, morally speaking, as everyone who isn't in a (het, 2-person) marriage, as opposed to being specifically disordered or anything like that. And her emphasis that as a society we need to be thinking more about the importance of social recognition of interpersonal relationships that aren't marriage, or sexual at all, is a worthwhile one.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:00 PM
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So there were three turtles, Tor, Pi, and Dude....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:02 PM
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48.1: Egyptian first-born gay men?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:11 PM
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26, 48: I'd call it genocide when hundreds if not thousands of gay kids are harassed into committing suicide every year. These people provide the legal, ideological and moral cover for that harassment. If it is not "genocide" in some extraordinarily strict understanding of the term, then it is certainly a crime against humanity just very slightly short of genocide.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:11 PM
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she was attracted to the Church, because it was for her the hardest possible thing to believe.

She probably thought she was following Tertullian. She was mistaken, although it's a common mistake.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:18 PM
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OK, since it bears little resemblance to what most people know as genocide, we'll call it "a crime against humanity".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:21 PM
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45, 47, 51 - I suppose I'm sympathetic to folks like Tushnet on some level, but like Stalin, she doesn't appear to have repented.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:34 PM
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50 wasn't meant to be kind. That Tush/net was one of the early handwringing, scolding-in-a-monotonous-drone, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger rightwing bloggers, doesn't make her much better than her communicants among the Internet Tough Guy sociopaths (e.g., Ins/ta/pu/nd/it) and charlatans (e.g., And/rew Su/lli/van).

Putting a lifetime of effort into making other people miserable over the thing that makes oneself miserable is not what I would call admirable, no matter how much casuistry one dresses it up in.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:35 PM
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57 doesn't violate Godwin because I talk about Stalin, not Hitler.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 1:35 PM
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58 -- preach it. She's basically decided to troll her own life, for fame as a contrarian, in order to help other people be needlessly miserable.

And even if she was convinced that she personally needed to be celibate or deny her sexuality for spiritual reasons, she could have just done so quietly and in service to others without the need to make such a goddamn big deal out of it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 2:17 PM
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54: I don't think "some extraordinarily strict understanding of the term" is a fair assessment, given 36 (and 56).

People who physically harm other people are responsible for their own actions. People who self-harm are responsible for their own actions. If someone avoidably makes someone else suffer a lot through offering bad counseling, that's a bad thing to do, but it's not the same kind of bad thing at all. There are different kinds of very bad behavior. They are not all the same as each other.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 2:38 PM
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and even to be brought up in a family environment conducive to a correct set of moral beliefs

Huh, I would have thought the same thing, but poking around your links just now, her account of her parents' homophobia (long post, about 5 paragraphs from the end) surprised the hell out of me.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 2:49 PM
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Oh, that last blog that I linked isn't Tush/net's, it's a different person entirely. Sorry if that wasn't clear!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 2:59 PM
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63: Oh, I'm an idiot. But thanks for clearing that up--I'm a big fan of her father and attributing that to him was disappointing the hell out of me.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 3:02 PM
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61: If someone avoidably makes someone else suffer a lot through offering bad counseling, that's a bad thing to do, but it's not the same kind of bad thing at all.

I think that is seriously mischaracterizing the issue at hand. Among the many ways that the Exodus/ex-gay stuff is a crime against humanity, is the way that it provides homophobes with a spurious religious defense of homophobic bullying in public schools. This bullying is directly contributory to the obscenely high rate of suicides among queer youth. Likewise, the fact that many queer youth must live in fear of being banished from their homes, churches, schools and other social institutions if they do not remain closeted contributes to many serious, life-destroying problems that youth and adults in GLBTQ communities must face every day.

The national homophobia movement is responsible for actual, direct hate crimes against queer people as well. By enforcing the marginalization of queer people at every level of society, they make it far more likely that hate crimes will occur. Just as the White Citizens Councils and the John Birch Society were the respectable facade behind which Klansmen were able to continue their reign of terror, so are the public members of the religious right the apologists, defenders and, quite often, secret participants in direct crimes against queer people.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 3:06 PM
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Stalin would no doubt have comforted 25-year-old him with Hitler's ass in a paper sack, or more precisely under his army's parade ground in Magdeburg.

Anyway, fuck a bunch of early 2000s hate bloggers getting old.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 3:33 PM
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34, I think Natilo has made this explicit, but it's not really the adults seeking to become straight or Alan Chambers, it's the minors being sent to places like Exodus, so the action is against a group. I'm happy with crimes against humanity as a descriptor. Benquo, I did note earlier that gay is not a specific protected class definied by the UN. As far as I can Google, it looks like the most recent vote to add it was 2010, and it failed 70-79. I think it should be, so I'm OK with stretching the UN definition. I think the definition in terms of actions is surprisingly broad, which is why I linked it. For example, I wouldn't exactly think of the Stolen Generations as genocide (no murder), but it seems to fit the UN definition. I don't think Natilo is especially out there in his terminology, although it probably wasn't the first word I'd think of.
Cosign entirely to 65.1. "Counseling" is not an appropriate term, remember SB 1172? Reparative therapy frequently involves shaming, verbal abuse, and aversion therapy, putting already at-risk populations for higher risk of suicide and depression. Pretty malign.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 3:48 PM
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After reading the wikipedia entry, crime against humanity seems like a good description.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 4:56 PM
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Arggh, now I'm waffling. There's an element of force that's missing in this case. I'll be sure to keep you all informed of my various changes of opinion.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 5:00 PM
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This line resonated with me:
Today it is as if I've just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.
I get, for sure, why this rings as all the more reason to be pissed off at that angry church. But when you've invested emotionally and spiritually in being part of, belonging in the Church, that sinking feeling of being unacceptable and unaccepted is devastating.

Is it the best apology ever? Maybe not. Apologies are really hard. Humbling, but often also humiliating. But he does attempt to acknowledge the harm he caused, to express his contrition, to at least be struggling with how to go about repairing the damage. It seems like a good start to me. Follow through on finding ways to make amends will be important, in my mind.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 5:20 PM
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65: that seems fair.

67: Yeah, it read to me as if it were specifically written to include something like Stolen Generations. Which is kind of surprising for a document from 1948.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 8:16 PM
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I had assumed that "pray the gay away" meant that they were trying to pray the gay away. But 67.last describes some serious Clockwork Orange shit. And if as 65 seems to imply, they were propagandizing in schools too, then wow.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-20-13 8:30 PM
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None of this will damage the reputation of organised religious belief in any way, however, because Richard Dawkins is rude.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 1:55 AM
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This video of Alan Chambers reading his apology to and getting criticized by people who have been harmed by him deserves a link in this thread.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 11:47 AM
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Wait, people were being stolen from their parents to be sent to Exodus? Because otherwise I'm not seeing the analogy with the Stolen Generations.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 1:10 PM
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No, people were being involuntarily sent by their parents to Exodus. Still involuntary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 1:19 PM
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75: The relevance of the Stolen Generations is that they are a case that appears to fall under the UN's oficial definition of genocide, without involving mass murder.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 1:35 PM
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I'm impressed that he is actually sincere b/c he is closing the organization down; I'd be shocked if that was not actually an enormously inconvenient battle to fight that required some actual doing on his part: it's one thing to come to an epiphany yourself, it's another to get the board to act on your epiphany, either by persuading them or strategically changing their composition. Shutting such a big organization down seems like a non-active action but I think in actuality it's probably a fair active action that required some work and energy. It's pretty rare for someone to walk away from a publicly stated policy and intention in a way that's not just quitting but is actually working to dismantle the former activity. However, this whole interpretation is moot if the "dissolution" is actually a transfer of assets to like minded lower profile organizations. If I were a philanthropic reporter I'd be interested in tracking exactly how this shutdown will work.


Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 7:24 PM
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I didn't know anything about Eve Tushnet so I googled up some piece in the Atlantic about how she would love to sex up the ladies but god said no so never mind. She really comes off as a maddening person. There's this sort of knowing paragraph about how the Catholic church is really not nice to gay people, amirite?, and so she spends lots of time working with people who are trying to make it moreso. Um, thanks? But maybe this job could be done by someone who isn't very obviously a homophobe? Because you kind of have to hate gay people to believe that they shouldn't have sex. Iesu Christo, Ecce Asshole.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:12 PM
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Sorry, vocative. Iesu Christus, ecce cūlus?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-21-13 8:15 PM
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79: Given that this is in the context of a church that teaches that all kinds of people, including the ones making the rules, shouldn't have sex, and that even the people who are allowed to have sex are supposed to be open to the theoretical possibility of any sex act creating children, I don't think it necessarily implies hating gay people specifically. I think it's a twisted and fucked-up view of sexuality that hurts all kinds of people, but it is intellectually consistent.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 06-25-13 8:13 AM
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