Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Rambles + "Commander Guy"

There are some great brief responses from Keguro and Audiologo to the post on the anti-gay violence in Jamaica in the comment section. One thing I noted to Audiologo there--and it's not an original thought by any measure, I'm sure it's been mentioned quite often--is that outside of some countries under strict Islamic Sharia law, the nations with the most restrictive anti-gay laws still on the books tend to be former British colonies (including those that are predominantly Muslim). Nigeria and Jamaica are two of the most notorious, both in terms of the statues and public attitudes, but there are numerous others, though not all of these other countries actually act upon the laws. I imagine that someone has written about this, so if a J's Theater reader has a link to an article or citation, please do pass it on. It's also the case, however, that several former British colonies--Canada, Australia, and South Africa--have some of the most liberal, gay-friendly laws on the world, though in the case of the last, it was post-apartheid political and social revolution, which are still underway, that put the progressive, gay-friendly laws in the national constitution. South Africa may be one of the rare examples of a country whose laws are more progressive than the social attitudes of the majority of its population.

With respect to the former British colonies now known as the United States, this country has witnessed the entire range of legal constraints and penalties, from Inquisition-like punishment during parts of the colonial era (people were hanged for homosexual offenses) to judicial and social indifference at other points (such as during the Civil War) to federal and local government-orchestrated persecution (during the 1950s and early 1960s) to a situation where now it depends really on where in the country you live. Lawrence v. Texas did strip away the remaining anti-sodomy laws, more than a dozen have civil protections for gays and lesbians on their books, and now four states--Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Hampshire--will have civil union laws, while Massachusetts, remains the only one that permits gay marriage. It is only a matter of time before another state--New York or California, whose legislature courageously voted up a gay marriage bill that Schwarzenegger vetoed--joins Massachusetts, while the other coastal states and some of the upper midwestern states, like Illinois, permit civil unions, and many more will have civil protections (Iowa just voted them up, I believe). Within 25 years, I predict that only Southern states (and not all of them) will not have some sort of civil protections or civil union laws on the books.

The post about Jamaica reminded me that I have not written anything about the violence against gay people or people suspected of being gay in Iraq (though I have written about the grave situation in Iran, whose government just imposed even more stringent clothing and related social rules on men and women, and whose histrionic conservatives are in a tizzy today because the dour, fundamentalist president, Ahmedinejad, kissed and held the hand of his octagenarian former grade school teacher after presenting her with an award). The anti-gay persecution continues unabated and, if it's possible to assess it qualitatively, it appears to have worsened. Doug Ireland has repeatedly reported on this issue, but as far as I can tell, it hasn't merited hardly any mainstream media attention. (Of course I realize they couldn't give a damn about gay people being killed, especially gay brown people.) I have no idea what things were like for gay people under Saddam Hussein's rule (I doubt it was rosy), but it's clear that being identified as gay or lesbian in war-torn contemporary Iraq means that you are a walking target, and basically have a death sentence hanging over you. He lists a litany of the attacks, murders and death threats, and I would imagine these are only a fraction of the larger crisis. Since one of the leading Shiite clerics has issued a fatwa calling on the persecution of homosexuals, and since the "Commander Guy" and his administration can barely turn the lights on over there or complete any of the "reconstruction" projects they keep praising to the high heavens let alone stem the rampant factional and sectarian slaughter, the horrendous suffering of gay Iraqis won't wane anytime. Nevertheless, if this is an issue that strikes you as important, sending a note of support to Iraqi LGBT, the main Iraqi gay rights organization, which maintains safe houses for persecuted LGBTs there; a letter to the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Campaign (IGLHRC); and a note of protest to Iraq's embassy here would probably helpful, and Ireland asks for people who want to contribute money to Iraqi LGBT to send it via OutRage, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT"; according to him they will forward it on by wire to the Iraqi group.

Ireland also blogs about tonight's debate between the two front runners in the race for the French presidency, Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal and Gaullist Nicolas Sarkozy, or Ségo and Sarko. According to Ireland, Ségo, despite bursts of passion, did not help her cause at all, because in good DLC fashion, she has been moving steadily towards the putative political "center," while also making promises that come out of the worst Socialist-pandering playbook, thus leaving voters, both on the Left and in the center, unsure of what she stands for on the domestic front. He therefore predicts a Sarkozy victory, which he suggests, echoing so many other commentators I've read, would be a nightmare for a sizable portion of France's population, especially its Black, Arab and immigrant populations. Sarkozy's authoritarianism is well known, as are his hair-trigger temper and intemperate rhetoric, his contempt for people of color, his strange scientific beliefs (suicide is "genetic" is one of his gems), and his pro-Americanism (he came to genuflect at the foot of "Commander Guy" last year). What's probably less well known is how intimately tied in he is to French industry. In fact, his economic plans sound like tarted up Republican supply-side economics with heavy neoliberal seasoning, and at the end of the day, France's multinationals will be the ones laughing all the way to the banque. Ségo challenged him on why he hadn't introduced these plans, which have some in the US media positively drooling with excitement, during his five years in the current and moribund administration of Chirac, and according to the Guardian Online, this question actually gave him pause, though in general he kept his cool. The truth is that Chirac, despite being a "conservative," was as invested in retaining power and not shaking up the status quo as his Socialist predecessors. Whether Sarko's plans are going to revive France's economy or not is open to question, but Ségo has not put forward counterproposals on most fronts to energize the populace. Glamor only goes so far. As unpalatable as Chirac is, it's doubtful he'll drag Sarko down like Commander Guy W is sure to do to any Republicans who get too close him (the "snow baby" W unfortunately isn't going to melt away soon enough), so France very well may have as its leader an ideological soulmate to some of the worst people on the US right.

Finally, here's a bit of found antipoetry (on the principle of the very toxic element antimony), which would make Alfred Jarry envious, except that it issued from the mouth of our Decider today as he was participating in yet another Potemkin Village-style event, on our taxpayers' dime, in an effort to drum up nonexistent support for his vanity disaster in Iraq:

By the way, in the report it said, it is -- the government may have to put in more troops to be able to get to that position. And that's what we do. We put in more troops to get to a position where we can be in some other place. The question is, who ought to make that decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear -- I'm the commander guy.

I just wonder: is he hitting the vodka or the gin, and is he mixing in some blow, meth or prescription drugs in with it? Can impeachment come soon enough?

Random Photo
Yes, I sort of dropped this aspect of the blog once the school year rolled around last September, but here's one from last summer, on that marvel of engineering, the PATH train:


  1. France: "Ségo, Sarko" I love it. I will say this until I fall asleep tonight. It sounds like one of Celestial Teas’ exotic blends. Infectious.

    For sometime I have had the feeling that Sarko is inevitable. The economy is on every Frenchman's mind, and what happens to the coloured folk will not come into play at all. Socialist systems are normally closed shops. A colleague said at a lunch one day, “Most people think with their stomachs and not with their heads.”

    Jamaica: The situation is really tough for me to handle. When I first heard stories like this at the Jamaican/French fusion bistro I used to work at in NYC ten years ago, I was still figuring out how to negotiate my own sexuality (does this practice ever end?). It was more about dealing with the people who were close to me (all West Indian or Latino) and their “new opinions” about who I was and why I loved men, than any act of violence towards me per se. It did not take me long to figure out that my multi-miniature coming out experiences over jerked chicken and brioche were neither as pleasant an experience as those depicted by several proselytizers of gender discourses hovering around me, nor the hip young white men of Chelsea who seemed to transition “out” with parents they could talk to on a first name basis.

    In many ways I was horrified by what I used to hear concerning the stoning, burning and maiming of young men and women. Some instances were recited by my boss and late night taxi drivers as if they were read straight from a newspaper.

    Ironically, I also had experiences that showed me there were same sex signals being communicated right underneath the nose of the most hateful and homophobic. And sometimes, the homophobe was included.

    As tragic and horrible as this latest incident is, I still believe there is a narrative missing concerning same sex attraction and relationships in Jamaica, not to mention Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. But that does not negate the fact that the violence and persecution is very real – such acts by the state, or an “indifferent” state in the face of the mob, build the cocoon of secrecy that governs how people act on their desire. I just wonder if there are rules that transverse the public and private sphere, giving a well grown and common shade to those that delight in the love of a man or woman. I believe there are and we are just no attuned to them. Or, at least I am not . . . fully


    READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

    The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to JUDAISM/CHRISTIANITY/ISLAM.

    Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

    Genesis 21:14 Contemporary English version se below link;&version=46;

    Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.

    GENESIS 16:16
    And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish’mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish’mael to Abram.

    GENESIS 21:5
    Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

    At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

    NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

    100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING


    Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void. Why is there no verbal communications between mother and (17 YEAR OLD) child?

    GENESIS: 21:14 - 21
    So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the (17 YEAR OLD) child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the (17 YEAR OLD) child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the (17 YEAR OLD) child.” And as she sat over against him, the (17 YEAR OLD) child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad where he is. Arise, lift up the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the (17 YEAR OLD) lad a drink. And God was with the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

    The age of Ishmael at this stage is crucial to the Abrahamic faiths. If he is 17 than the JUDEO/CHRISTIAN point of view about the Abrahamic covenant is correct. This has devastating theological consequences of unimaginable proportions.

    This makes the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and there descendants a work of fiction. I would strongly suggest it is clear cut case of racial discrimination and nothing to do with god almighty. The scribes have deliberately tried to make Isaac the only son and legitimate heir to the throne of Abraham??

    Please can you rationally explain this anomaly?

    I have asked many persons including my nephews and nieces - unbiased minds with no religious backgrounds but with reasonable command of the English language about this passage and they all agree that the child in the passage is an infant.

    For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:




    HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 - 122

    101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

    102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!"

    103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

    104. We called out to him "O Abraham!

    105. "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    106. For this was obviously a trial-

    107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

    108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

    109. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!"

    110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

    112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac - a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

    113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

    114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

    115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

    116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

    117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

    118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

    119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

    120. "Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!"

    121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

    122. For they were two of our believing Servants.

    Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.

    Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583:

    Narrated Ibn Abbas:

    The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
    'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
    When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."
    The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."
    The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.