The pastor of a massive Georgia church has come out, saying the recent rash of gay teen suicides made it impossible to continue living a lie.
Jim Swilley, 52, founded Rockdale County’s Church in the Now 25 years ago. His wife, Debye, was the associate pastor, and together they had four children. Swilley says he’s known that he’s gay since he was a boy, and his wife knew when they got married. Jim and Debye are now divorced, but they kept his secret for more than 21 years. Earlier this year, Swilley says, Debye told him she thought it was time he stop living a lie. Swilley says he decided she was right after reading stories about kids being harassed by antigay bullies and committing suicide.
The below news story notes that some Christian websites and blogs are condemning Swilley, calling him “sick, twisted, and a tool of Satan.”
Though University of Michigan student Chris Armstrong withdrew his petition for a protective order against Andrew Shirvell, he's not bowing out of the legal fight against his adult bully just yet. His attorney filed a complaint with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission against the Michigan assistant attorney general. If the commission accepts the complaint and rules in Armstrong's favor, it has the power to disbar Shirvell.
Not attending the Rally to Restore Sanity? The Village Voice’s Steven Thrasher dropped me a note to say is Tweeting it from the time he hops on the HuffPo bus to The Daily Show event, until…I guess his cell phone dies, or he gets back home, whichever comes first.
Anyway, take a look in the left PHB column and you’ll see a widget following his (@steven_thrasher) as well as the official Tweets from The Daily Show (@rally4sanity).
More about the rally:
“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Who among us has not wanted to open their window and shout that at the top of their lungs?
Because we’re looking for those people. We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.
Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we’d like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 – a date of no significance whatsoever – at the Daily Show’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.”
Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) – not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.
Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we’ll be actively not throwing our feces at Tila Tequila. Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don’t. If you’d rather stay home, go to work, or drive your kids to soccer practice… Actually, please come anyway. Ask the sitter if she can stay a few extra hours, just this once. We’ll make it worth your while.
UPDATE: Some video from the bus from Steven:
Photos just in from Steven. Arianna Huffington, and one is behind the stage where Ozzy Osbourne is playing.
“It was a slap in the face to Christians,” Strobel said. “It was a slap in the face to traditional values.”
Strobel soon publicly linked herself to anti-gay crusader Larry Stickney, affirming her reputation as a single-issue, anti-gay candidate. In an early effort to counter the single-issue reputation, she diversified by trying to “save” some bikini baristas from their employment, and made a public display of her opposition to a strip club in a city she in which she does not reside. But attention has returned to Strobel’s core value of anti-gay activism with this ad attacking Rep. Johnson for his co-sponsorship of the domestic partnership law. The ad ran in the Sunday and Thursday editions of the Yakima Herald-Republic.
REP. NORM JOHNSON – YAKIMA’S OWN KING CANUTE?
Legend has it that an ancient British king, Canute, overly impressed with his legislative power, set up his throne on the edge of the sea and commanded the tide to cease its ebb and flow.
Mother Nature, who alone commands the tide, ignored him.
Although Canute might have been a good king in every other respect, his one effort to command Mother Nature earned him the derision of centuries.
More recently, a groups of politicians in the Washington state legislature decided that the natural condition of marriage between members of the opposite sex is discriminatory, so they proposed a new law that recognized same-sex partnerships, a law that State Representative Norm Johnson co-sponsored.
Johnson now hopes that 14th District voters will share his Canute-like delusion and re-elect him in November. Instead he deserves the same response that rational people have always given those who try to abolish Nature – derisive laughter. Johnson should be not only voted out of office, he should be laughed out of office.
Fortunately, a more rational candidate, Michele Strobel, is running for his position and deserves the support of realistic voters.
Paid for by CORAL (Committee for Rational Legislation), PO Box 531, Yakima WA 98907
The ad got the Canute story completely wrong (Canute sought to prove that he couldn’t command the tides.). But the real story here is how Michele Strobel responded to the outcry this ad caused. According to the Yakima Herald-Republic Strobel claimed to have no prior knowledge of the ad.
Calling the ad “divisive, derogatory, in poor taste and mean-spirited,” Strobel said Thursday she would have told its creators thanks but no thanks.
“If these people want to be supportive of me, this is not the way to do it,” she said. “Unfortunately for me, I can’t control what people do.”
She sounds pretty darn decent there, doesn’t she? But her claim loses credibility when the details surrounding the ad are examined. (link added)
[The controversial ad] included text indicating it was paid for by the Committee for Rational Legislation (CORAL) and listed a Yakima post office box as the committee’s address. CORAL registered earlier this month as a political committee with the state Public Disclosure Commission, listing Philip Brendale of Yakima as its treasurer. The financial backing for the committee, according to the PDC, came entirely from Kwik Lok Corp., an international business founded and based in Yakima. The company donated ,241 to CORAL to pay for news-paper advertising, according to the PDC.
Kwik Lok, which is owned by Jerre Paxton, also has donated ,600 to Strobel’s campaign. Kwik Lok’s sales director, Lorne House, who said Thursday that he wrote the copy for the ad, has donated ,000. Brendale’s wife, Sandi Belzer Brendale, has donated to Strobel.
Strobel, however, said she doesn’t know Paxton or House. She also said she didn’t know anything about Kwik Lok until she found out, after the fact, that the company funded the ads.
“In fact, I had to say, ‘Kwik Lok? Kwik Lok? Who is Kwik Lok?’” Strobel said.
This despite taking ,600 in campaign money from the company.
The maximum donation any company or individual can make to a candidate’s legislative campaign in Washington is 0 per election. So ,600 translates into Kwik Lok and its owner Jerre Paxton each maxing-out their donations for both the primary and general elections. It just isn’t credible that Strobel wouldn’t know who her major donors were, especially since Strobel only has a total of 6 donors who donated the maximum for both elections. Unless, of course, she is thoroughly disengaged from her campaign. Neither explanation is particularly flattering.
Then the article goes on to report this disturbing news. (link added)
She does know Sandi Belzer Brendale, who has long been involved in far-right political causes in the Yakima Valley, including being the section leader of the local John Birch Society chapter. Strobel said she has seen no need to distance herself from Brendale.
“I don’t know her well enough to say that she’s someone I want to distance myself from,” Strobel said.
Both Philip and Sandi Brendale were listed as Strobel endorsers in an official campaign ad that ran Sunday. So was House.
Either Strobel isn’t at all bothered by the John Birch Society connection (the Strobels have rubbed elbows with JBS before), or she didn’t do due diligence on her endorsers before publishing the list in the newspaper and simply didn’t know that Sandi Brendale was a member. Again, neither explanation is flattering for Strobel, although the former seems most likely.
Vigorous opponents of the Civil Rights Act back in the day, today JBS works to stoke anti-gay sentiments and to counter “the homosexual agenda“. A search on the JBS website on the term “homosexual” yields 100 hits. Here’s an excerpt from the essay “Stop the Homosexual Revolution” written recently by JBS president John F. McManus. Given Michele Strobel’s strident anti-gay stance and Tea Party affiliation, there is a lot for her to sympathize with in the John Birch Society.
[W]ould a homosexual seek to join the military because the close quarters associated with the military life would present him or her with a source for desired liaisons? The answer is an emphatic yes.
Acceptance of homosexuals is a severe departure from long-standing practice. It makes more likely the acceptance of other fundamental departures from military discipline and the proper function of the military. Moral relativism, a feature of homosexuality, spawns the attitude that all military orders and practices are relative and not to be acted upon swiftly or carried out without question. …
Congress should not only be urged to cancel the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, all members should be asked to reinstitute the ban on homosexuality.
Michele Strobel also just received ,320-worth of in-kind support in the form of campaign mailers from Family Policy Action. Family Policy Action is clearly an arm of Family Policy Institute of Washington, the local affiliate of Focus on the Family and Family Research Council; the address and telephone number for FPA and FPIW are one in the same. FPA has spent over ,000 this election on mailers on behalf of anti-gay candidates, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
For someone who doesn’t like ads that are “divisive, derogatory, in poor taste and mean-spirited”, she sure does attract the assistance of people who do. The Yakima County Republican Party has endorsed Rep. Norm Johnson. Pam’s House Blend – Front Page
Or Chadash, Chicago’s predominantly LGBT synagogue, was among those targeted by the Yemeni bombing plot that was uncovered this weekend.
Bombs were wrapped in packages addressed to two Chicago synagogues but were discovered before they were placed on planes headed for the U.S. Explosive material was packed inside toner cartridges.
Or Chadash is one of seven predominantly LGBT synagogues in the U.S. that are members of the Union of Reform Judaism. Dallas’ Congregation Beth El Binah is one of the others. Whenever temples are targeted, LGBT synagogues are warned that they could be “two for the price of one” targets.
Locally, Beth El Binah officials contacted staff at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center where the synagogue meets. They told them they don’t receive unexpected packages at the Center and that if a package arrives for the temple, to call police immediately.
Congregation Beth El Binah President Diane Litke joked that Beth El Binah gets its printer supplies from Office Depot, not Yemen. But she said more seriously that she can’t imagine anyone who works at any synagogue opening an unexpected package from overseas, adding that all synagogues are aware of security concerns.
43-year-old William Lynch was arrested by police in Santa Clara, California on Friday for the May 10, 2010 attack on Jesuit Priest Jerold Lindner.
The AP reports on the attack and the decades-long anger that apparently led up to it:
During a confrontation at the Jesuits’ Sacred Heart retirement home in Los Gatos, Calif., Mr. Lynch repeatedly punched Father Lindner in the face and body after the priest said he did not recognize him, said Sgt. Rick Sung, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department. Mr. Lynch and his younger brother settled with the Jesuits of the California Province, a Roman Catholic religious order, for 5,000 in 1998 after accusing Father Lindner of abusing them in 1975 during weekend camping trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Mr. Harris said the boys, who were 7 and 5 at the time, were raped and forced to have oral sex with each other while Father Lindner watched. Father Lindner, 65, has been accused of abuse by nearly a dozen people, including his sister and nieces and nephews.
Investigators connected Mr. Lynch to the attack using phone records, Sergeant Sung said. A half-hour before the episode, a caller identifying himself as Eric called the home and said someone would arrive shortly to inform Father Lindner of a family member’s death. Father Lindner was able to drive himself to the hospital after the attack. He did not return a call left on his answering machine. He has previously denied abusing the Lynch boys and has not been criminally charged. The abuse falls outside the statute of limitations.
The attack was foreshadowed in an interview Lynch conducted with the LA Times in 2002 in which he told the newspaper: “Many times I thought of driving down to L.A. and confronting Father Jerry. I wanted to exorcise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me. You can’t put into words what this guy did to me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life.”
The First Lady appears on today’s episode of Ellen, where the two discussed bullying.
Mrs. Obama said young people need to know that they shouldn’t let the challenges they face in high school or college “eat them up.” “All of these young people regardless of their race, their sexual orientation, they are gifts to us,” she said. “They have so much to offer and it’s just terrible to find out that kids are letting this part of their life define everything about who they are going to be.” The first lady said she tells daughters Malia and Sasha that they have a responsibility to speak up when they see someone being bullied.
By now you may have heard that Ron Howard has a new movie coming out that includes a line where a character says about an electric car, “it’s gay.” Universal pulled the joke from the movie’s trailer since, you know, scores of gay kids just happened to be killing themselves after being bullied.
But Ron Howard says the joke is staying in the film. And his reasons are as warm and all-American as embracing a n-word joke.
Let me share a little bit of what Howard had to say about gay jokes.
So why was the joke in the movie? Our lead character of Ronny Valentine has a mouth that sometimes gets him into trouble and he definitely flirts with the line of what’s okay to say. He tries to do what’s right but sometimes falls short. Who can’t relate to that? I am drawn to films that have a variety of characters with different points of view who clash, conflict and learn to live with each other. THE DILEMMA is a story full of flawed characters whose lives are complicated by the things they say to and hide from each other. Ronny is far from perfect and he does and says some outrageous things along the way.
You see, you can really only get away with using fag jokes to show how bad a character is when you actually show how bad a character is for demeaning gay people. For example, when Finn in Glee used the word “faggy,” he was ripped to shreds by an adult in the popular TV series, thus sending the message that it’s not okay. Is the lead character in Howard’s film going to be ripped to shreds for calling something “gay”? Somehow I doubt it.
Now, note how Howard referred to the recent spate of gay suicides:
It’s true that the moment took on extra significance in light of some events that surrounded the release of the trailer…
Did you catch that? The recent tragic suicides of young gay kids are “some events.” Nice.
More from Howard:
I believe in sensitivity but not censorship.
Do you tell n-word jokes, Mr. Howard? I’m going to guess that you don’t. And if you don’t, is that “censorship” or simply being a decent human being?
It is a slight moment in THE DILEMMA meant to demonstrate an aspect of our lead character’s personality
I cry BS on that one. Does Howard really want us to believe that the audience is going to recoil in horror at what a bigot the lead character is for saying “it’s gay”? Seriously? The audience is going to laugh. It’s not going to be a teaching moment, it’s not going to show anything about the character’s personality other than he’s funny and cool because he mocks fags.
Did you think it wasn’t offensive? I don’t strip my films of everything that I might personally find inappropriate. Comedy or drama, I’m always trying to make choices that stir the audience in all kinds of ways.
Right. We’re to believe that Ron Howard put the “gay” joke in to help stir the audience. Or was the joke put in because Hollywood is notoriously more than a tad homophobic and Howard thought it might be funny to put a fag joke in, since that’s what regular funny guys do, they tell fag jokes?
But if storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought.
Again, you only get strong-armed when you think it’s okay to throw bigoted jokes in your movies. If you got it, if you didn’t find bigotry funny, you wouldn’t put it in in the first place. And when notified of it, you’d take it out because it would offend YOU. Again, would Ron Howard have a character tell a black joke simply because he knew the audience would find it funny? I somehow doubt it. He’s using a free speech smokescreen to keep a fag joke in his movie because he thinks it’s funny and not a big deal.
You can read the rest of the interview for yourself.
Look, I can handle the fact that Howard doesn’t want to be censored. But if Howard understood the problem, he wouldn’t have put the joke in the script to start with – or he’d have another well-liked character tell the bigot that it’s really not right to use that kind of language. But I’m gonna bet that no such teaching moment happens in Ron Howard’s film. It’s Howard’s own intolerance that’s forcing others to be intolerant with him. And at some point, artists, and everyone else in society, have to stop using free speech to justify bigotry. Yes, you have the right to be a bigot, and we have the right to call you on it.
Oh, and next time you get interviewed about the topic, Mr. Howard, show a little respect for all the kids who have killed themselves by referring to their deaths as something other than “some events.”