Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Dan Savage to CNN: Stop the Hate

“We need a cultural reckoning.”

This is Dan Savage’s response to a CNN reporter’s question of how mainstream society can increase acceptance for gays and lesbians. Savage goes on to make his point even more unequivocally: Stop providing hate groups like the Family Research Council to spew hate under the guise of impartial journalism. Said Savage:

“There are no ‘two sides’ to the issue of LGBT rights. Right now one side is really using dehumanizing rhetoric. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups, people like Tony Perkins, are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on CNN.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently added 13 virulently anti-gay organizations to its list of “hate groups”–a designation based on each group’s propagation of lies against the minorities it wishes to demonize.

Savage lambasts CNN for its seemingly innocuous journalism. Why shouldn’t the cable network question the anti-gay–now officially categorized as hate-mongering–“experts” that it regularly provides a megaphone for?

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Filed under: hate, media, , , , , , , , , ,

Homosexuality: Like Terrorism, A Disease, “Spreading Like Wild Fire”

Ugandan newspaper editor Giles Muhami has some pretty horrendous things to say about homosexuality: that it’s similar to terrorism, that it’s a disease, and that it’s “spreading like wild fire.” Be sure to protect your kids.

Muhami recently printed a newspaper article in his Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone (not to be affiliated with the U.S. magazine of the same name) that calls for gays and lesbians to be hanged.

For mainstream media to promote hatred and violence against any human is deplorable. In my travels through central and western Africa, I have listened to hatred and ignorant ideas about gays and lesbians; it’s even worse to see anti-gay opinions published in African newspapers as fact, irresponsible journalism unconcerned with the privacy of the gay and lesbian Africans named in these articles.

But even more than privacy or social ill, the negative reporting is a matter of safety for gay and lesbians. At least four people have been attacked since the article was published:

Carrying the headline “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos,” the article came out just days before the one year anniversary of the introduction of a controversial bill in parliament that would make homosexuality, which is illegal in Uganda, punishable by death in some cases.

I had thought the Bahati Bill–anti-gay legislation introduced by David Bahati, a member of the Ugandan parliament–had died down. Apparently, the hate against LGBT Ugandans (and supported by evangelical churches in the U.S.) is as present as ever.

Filed under: gay rights, hate, homophobia, world, , , , , , ,

Your Friendly Attorney General is a Bigot

Strange but true.

Anderson Cooper interviews Asst. Attorney General Andrew Shirvell of Michigan last night. Not only is he an outright bigot–blogging obsessively about a U. of Michigan student president who happens to be gay–but Shirvell is a public figure. Watch the interview, and witness Shirvell’s oblivious reasoning that his hate (photoshopping a Nazi swastika on the student’s face) is simply politics.

Maybe he’s planning a run for office with the Tea Party movement?

Filed under: gay rights, government, hate, , , , , , , ,

In Awe of Francine Prose

I’ve read the novelist Francine Prose for many years now. Ten years ago, I stumbled across a fawning review of Blue Angel, still my favorite of her novels–though A Changed Man was woefully underrated–and have picked up her novels ever since.

D.G. Myers is equally enthralled, and wrote a sort of love letter in Commentary magazine. Myers praises Prose’s emphasis on narrative over diction, as well as her ardent love of literature:

As a character says in Hunters and Gatherers (1995), literature is her “idea of heaven”—a refuge from the battle of ugly appetites.

All of her characters are well-read, and Prose seems to have a place in her heart for George Eliot and Jane Austen.

A Changed Man may well be my favorite of her novels for the way it places the reader on uncertain ground and rarely allows us secure footing. One of the novel’s characters, a young neo-Nazi, walks into the Manhattan office of a Holocaust survivor. His purpose? To eschew his hateful ways and right his wrongs.

Prose’s skill throughout the novel is making us wonder if this man is truly seeking to redress his past, or simply charming his way into the good graces of the Holocaust survivor and his organization. There’s the plot-driven complications of the neo-Nazi’s former skinheads and the tension of a possible romance with a development officer. The emphasis here is not on lyrical prose, but believable detail and fast-paced scenes. Prose knows her characters, and it shows. In this scene, for example, Vincent, the neo-Nazi, is caught smoking the pot of a teenage friend:

For a while they’re both cracking up. The can’t even look at each other. Then they exchange quick glances, shrug, and start laughing again. Vincent’s laugh is one part surprise, one part relief, one part embarrassment, one part what-the-hell. This could so easily have gone another way.

Just one example of Prose’s intimate understanding of character. She manages to always keep her characters–and readers–off-balance. If you’ve never read the work of Francine Prose, you’re missing out.

Filed under: literature, writing, , , , , , , , ,

New GOP Poll Screams Obama-Nation

Republican ire towards Obama has reached a whole new level of hysteria. In a new Harris poll, the numbers reveal that among the GOP:

  • 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.
  • 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim
  • 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president”
  • 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did”
  • Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.”

John Avlon cites these statistics today in The Daily Beast, linking this new level of public hysteria about the President to an intentional campaign of fear and hate. We need only look to recent outbursts from the right (e.g. GOP congressmen yelling “Baby killer!” and “You lie!”) within government spaces predicated on decorum and dialogue–to reinforce the scope of the GOP’s widespread antics.

As Avlon so persuasively notes:

It demonstrates the cost of the campaign of fear and hate that has been pumped up in the service of hyper-partisanship over the past 15 months. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing the United States in the process. What might be good for ratings is bad for the country.

According to the Harris poll, to be realeased in full tomorrow, those with less education are more likely to be duped by conspiracy theories that President Obama was not born in the U.S., is Muslim, or setting the country on a path to socialism. It makes one question how much of these wrong-headed, intententionally perpetuated, theories are driven by racism more than dissent.

Also frightening are Avlon’s notes on what this mean for the future:

The “Hatriot” belief that Obama is a “domestic enemy” as set forth in the Constitution is also widely held—a sign of trouble yet to come. It’s the same claim made by Marine Lance Corporal Kody Brittingham in his letter of intent to assassinate the President Obama.

Brittingham’s assassination attempt, as well as the infamous Twitter death threats by Jay Martin, heighten the importance of calling attention to these very incorrect modes of thought.

I am solidly for affirming the right to civil disobedience and dissent. But how do we address the GOP’s shameful turn from disobedience and dissent to the troubling ideologies of armed rebellion and fear?

Filed under: hate, obama, politics, , , , , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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