Monday, August 26, 2013

Homosexual Hypocrisy?

Are Gay Rights Activists Ignoring the Human Rights Violations of Others to Further Their Own Self-Interests? 

Three recent stories demonstrate something fairly striking about the modern gay rights movement. First, of course, is the call to boycott the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics, because of Russia’s highly-discriminatory, anti-gay legislation. Another entails the saga of Bradley Manning -- the self-identified gay soldier that handed over hundreds of thousands of confidential military records to an Australian hacktivist/Ron Paul supporter who may or may not be prone to nonconsensual sexual adventuring. And lastly, there’s the detention of David Miranda, the lover of Glenn Greenwald -- a guy with connections to Ed Snowden -- by U.K officials, on suspicions that sound an awful lot drummed up terror charges.

There’s a lot of outrage behind all three stories, and for good reason. But at the same time, there’s something awfully peculiar about the gay rights lobby’s reactions to said news -- in short, it seems as if these horrific displays of human rights violations are only worth crusading against because the victimized, in these instances are…well, gay.

Case in point: is it somewhat odd that gay rights lobbyists are calling for a mass boycott of Russia solely because of persecutory anti-gay legislation? Since the fall of communism, the Russian state is one that’s been absolutely besieged by confirmed accounts of prisoner torture, rampant ethnic minority abuses, deplorable orphanage conditions, violation of children's rights laws, absolutely insane military scandals, not to mention widespread judicial corruption, a completely rotten economic system that favors mobsters and oligarchs, a “free press” that’s seen 50 journalists murdered over the last 20 years, in addition to wide scale human trafficking and a national psychiatric system that involuntarily commits THOUSANDS of dissidents on make-believe conditions?  Needless to say, Russia is a festering bin of human rights violations for practically EVERYBODY whose last name isn’t “Putin,” but it appears as if these trifling inconveniences really didn’t matter until LGBT folks in Stalin’s old stomping grounds got the short end of some unfavorable legislation.

The Bradley Manning case has transformed from being a story about national security measures and military standards (irony of ironies, if “DADT” hadn’t been repealed, it’s unlikely that the cyber-security leak would have happened at all) to being this bizarre transgender rights case. Less concerned, the media seems to be, about the fates of Lawrence Franklin, Kenneth Wayne Ford, Jr., Thomas Andrews Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim and John Kyriako -- all of whom have been formally charged with violations under the Espionage Act, whom additionally, never got front paged on The Huffington Post while dressed in drag, either.

You’ll hear a TON of furor over the temporary detaining of David Miranda, but you probably won’t hear a peep about the more than 70 journalists imprisoned by Turkish authorities since 2008. Nor will you hear much clamor from the gay rights crowd about Yunis Khatayer Abbas, a journalist that had the dual pleasure of being tortured by Saddam Hussein and THEN getting held in Abu Gharib by U.N forces during the Second Iraq War. Similarly, you probably won’t be hearing about the imprisonment of Rachid Niny, Ali Mahmoud Othman or Abdulelah Haider Shaye, either. Of course, that’s due to one thing, and one thing only -- those names are really, really hard to spell.

I’ve heard several organizations call the modern gay rights movement the most important civil rights battle of our generation. More directly, I’ve heard every gay rights organization call the modern gay rights movement the most important battle of our generation. In that, is it too much to at least muse the idea that some of the gay rights crusaders out there are simply advocating for their own interests, with absolutely no concerns about the plights of other marginalized peoples?

In terms of civil rights, the number of things that are largely off-limits to LGBT individuals is quite scant. In short, I totally, 100 percent believe that gay people should be allowed to marry, and if one of the parties is entitled to federal benefits that would behoove the spouse of a “straight” beneficiary, I completely believe that their spouses should receive the same entitlements. Of course, that also brings up another, less heralded area of discrimination, which entails the systematic prejudices against single people of all orientations and leanings. Morally, why should two homosexual, married partners receive health insurance benefits that me and my unmarried heterosexual partner do not? Are they more in love than us and therefore more deserving of social benefits, or is it simply an unstated ploy to encourage civil unions (which not only bonds two intervals in holy matrimony, but a joint checkbook, too?) Similarly, I believe that gay couples should be allowed to adopt children, pending they pass the exact same litany of tests and pre-adoption exams that heteronormative couples take. That said, there’s still no legitimate body of research out there demonstrating any discernable outcomes -- be they better, or worse -- for children raised by gay parents as opposed to heterosexual ones. What we DO know for a fact, though, is that gender identity is greatly impacted by early childhood experiences with a mother and father, so…yeah, like I said, there’s not a legitimate body of research out there to lead us one way or the other. Furthermore, I believe that gay people shouldn’t be discriminated in education or the workplace SOLELY because of their sexual orientation -- but then again, that’s really more of “right to work” issue than it is a solid LGBT issue, since half the states in the union have employment laws on their respective books that grant employers the basic right to fire anyone for any goddamn reason they like, and there’s more or less nothing the recently fired can do about  it in the legal sense.

Outside of those areas, however, I really can’t think of any instances in which LGBT Americans are being deprived of their civil liberties and basic human rights. Eventually, a day in America will pass when gays DO have the uniform right to marry, and adopt children and have tightly-weaved anti-workplace discrimination legislation favoring them. And from that point on, what systematic, institutional prejudices will be facing them?

In essence, nothing. No one is truly criminalized for being gay in these United States anymore, nor is any gay individual's standard civil liberties to associate, vote, gather, disseminate literature or protest any more restrictive than the measures taken against heterosexual individuals. As stated in “After the Ball” -- the book that more or less serves as the “Rules for Radicals” for the modern gay rights movement -- the battle at the current isn’t so much a civil one as it is a cultural one.

You’ll hear a lot of allegedly “anti-gay” organizations spout off about something called “The Homosexual Agenda.” It’s something routinely rebuffed by the media, but going back to “After the Ball,” there very much appears to be a definitive homosexual agenda postulated by its authors:

The now quarter-century old treatise pretty much describes the process by which the contemporary U.S. gay rights movement shifted from the pell-mell ACT-UP tactics of the early 1990s all the way up to today’s hyper-accepting, “Glee” culture, where mediocre athletes are praised as national heroes for merely letting every one know that the enjoy a different kind of sex than an estimated 96 percent of the populace. To say that the tract has been successfully employed appears to a foul understatement; after all, we do live in a society where Spider-Man wants some interracial man-loving and the cultural embodiment of evil -- amidst all the gangsters and corrupt politicians and heartless corporate figureheads and remorseless killers in U.S. culture -- has become a withered Kansan pastor, who in a past life, was an NAACP-praised civil rights hero.

To some capacity, it would be insincere to state that there isn’t a gay contingent out there that isn’t attempting to co-opt the totality of U.S. culture to further their own self-interests. The debate about gay rights, in essence, has become a hyper-polarized battle that’s already been won by the adherents of “After the Ball” -- Generation Y is overwhelmingly supportive of gay rights, and they’ve effectively marginalized those opposed to gay civil liberties to the political fringes. That’s really an astounding feat, especially considering how just 20 years ago, there were actual discussions about quarantining gay people with AIDS.

With fluctuating degrees of accuracy, a lot of conservative alarmists are somewhat correct in their assertions that pro-gay organizations, to a certain extent, are attempting to silence oppositional voices -- using strategies that are almost verbatim tactics suggested by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. The fight for gay civil liberties, I think, are pretty much inarguable battles worth waging; of course gay people deserve the same civic rights and governmental safeguards as heterosexuals. The big moral dilemma, however is this: is the LGBT movement for cultural affirmation an equally laudable undertaking?

The entire idea of culturally enforced affirmation just rings Orwellian to me, and frankly, mildly fascistic. Criminal liabilities for “hate speech?” Completely suffocating dissenting opinion, by caricaturizing the opposition as slobbering madmen? Completely rearranging the language to promote one’s own identity politicking? Supporting a definition of gender and sexual identity that ONLY acknowledges a social constructionist view, while completely disregarding irrefutable, genetic realities? Promoting a biological deterministic origin for human attributes -- when the jury is still out on the environmental influences on human sexuality -- and accusing those that have the audacity to believe that early developmental experiences may influence one’s traits and characteristics in the long haul as being pseudo-scientific?

In terms of total numbers and degrees of marginalization, an argument can be made that gays may indeed be overrepresented culturally. According to Gallup estimates, the entire gay spectrum -- covering homosexuals, lesbians, transgender/transsexual, bisexual AND intersex individuals -- makes up just 4.3 percent of the entire U.S. population. Nearly the same percentage of the populace, however, has a major gambling problem -- and of course, their plight and quest for public awareness is hardly recognized at all by popular culture. Along that same vein, nearly twice as many Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, yet cultural advocacy for their causes remain infinitesimal when compared to the massive social support of the contemporary gay rights movement.

Six times as many Americas have a major alcohol problem than there are LGBT Americans, but their cultural representation -- and social support -- is nowhere near is massive as the cultural gay rights movement. 26.2 percent of all Americans suffer from mental health disorders, and alike the 4.3 LGBT Americans, they too are denied civil rights -- such as parental custody and the right to adoption. Meanwhile, cultural advocacy to allot more liberties to those with mental illnesses is nowhere near as strong as the cultural crusade for LGBT rights, despite the former being 7.7 times larger than the latter.

Absolutely dwarfing the nation’s LGBT population -- in terms of numbers and social urgency, however -- is the downright shocking number of Americans that either live in poverty or low-income categorizations -- a sum that adds up to 48 percent of the entire U.S. population. While the LGBT movement has garnered nearly unanimous support from Gen Y, a widespread movement supporting the absolutely pivotal economic needs of the nation’s underclass has yet to even materialize, despite the fact that homeless Americans are subject to greater individualized and institutionalized prejudices than LGBT individuals…after all, in several major American cities, the state of being homeless itself has been turned into a criminal act.

Do LGBT activists have every right in the world to rally for their own interests? Absolutely, and I applaud the movement for its remarkable civil rights achievements. But at the same time, I can’t help but wag my finger at the movement’s excesses, especially the tendency for LGBT advocates to completely overlook the denied civil rights and liberties of others, many of whom are even more marginalized -- socially and especially economically -- than they are.

There’s no denying that the LGBT cause has some serious clout, with heavy financiers and a near totality of today’s kids throwing support behind the movement. And with all of that power and popularity, would it really hurt them to take the emphasis off themselves, and acknowledge the plight and marginalization of others, too?


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