Horseshoes and politics

Jones, Arnold WayneWe’re no better than our enemies when we misrepresent the facts

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted one of those attempts at a photo meme on his Facebook page. It was of a bulbously double-chinned Chris Christie, purporting to quote him from an appearance on CNN in which he said: “If I am elected president I will go after marijuana smokers and the states that allow them to smoke. I’ll shut them down big time. I’m sick of these addicts, sick of these liberals with no self-control.”

Only Christie never said those words — and certainly not on CNN.

In a call-in right-wing radio show hosted by Hugh Hewitt, Christie said, “We have an enormous addiction problem,” and that “the states should not be permitted to sell it.” Nothing about liberals. Nothing about self-control. Those were lies.

IMG_3900I pointed out to my friend that this was not an actual quote by Chris Christie. His response: “He says stuff like that all the time.”

A few weeks later, I saw another photo meme on a different friend’s Facebook page. This was of Louis Gohmert, perhaps the least qualified person ever to sit in Congress and decide laws since he’s far too stupid to even read them and understand what they mean. The man really should be sent to remedial kindergarten and not the Congress. Anyhoo. This meme quoted Gohmert as saying he “thinks a lot about gay sex.” He then went on to make a typically dumb statement about how, if left on a desert island for 100 years, gays would die out since they don’t reproduce. Did Gohmert make bigoted, ill-informed statements about gay sex? Absolutely. Did he say any of the words quoted in that meme? Not a chance. But it didn’t matter to that friend, either. It was, in his view, “close enough.”

And here in lies my major quibble with the quality of political discourse as we now practice it in America: It is not, in fact, a discourse. It is instead position-taking based upon faulty, misleading and outright untruthful information.

This is not news to followers of politics. Not at all. Sarah Palin invented — through her own social media platforms — the entire concept and phrase about “Obamacare death panels,” which never existed in any form, but became a part of the political discussion. Fair-minded progressives would point out that this was made up, though unfair and imbalanced FOXNews wouldn’t hear of it, and repeated the myth as if it where’s Obama’s main doctrine, a plan by the Kenyan-born Muslim communist at eugenics. It’s been five years, and “death panels” still lingers in the public consciousness. And Liberal Democrats still pull out their remaining hair to rage against the political machine about misinformation, disinformation and lies that pervert the process.

And then they turn around and do the same thing.

There is an old, trusty adage that one must “fight fire with fire.” I bet sure most firefighters would tell you that water and sand usually do a better job, but let’s forget about that for a second. Democrats have never been at a loss for having their own ways of phrasing and crafting a message to highlight their opponents’ weaknesses, to minimize their own, and to steel the positives in their message. Excoriating the enemy with clever linguistic tricks and rhetoric is time-honored. Frankly, it’s what we writers frequently do.

But I’m not talking here about characterizing one’s position as extreme and another’s as moderate, or shining the best light on one’s own ideas. I’m talking about lying about quotes and acting like the lie is justified. I am talking about propagating known falsehoods about another candidate, another party, an opposition group, and twisting it beyond recognition while pretending it is fact. Pardon my naïveté, but I thought progressives were better than that.

I foolishly thought that when I pointed out the errors of these memes to my friends, they would quickly disavow them if not take them down right away. But no: They embraced the now common, Trumpian practice of doubling down. They cleaved to the errors and defending them as, I suppose, speaking to a “higher truth.” Of course, the higher truth that they refer to is likewise based upon these mistaken premises. When your entire dialogue is merely a catalog of falsehoods about your opponents, at what point does the reality settle in and mean something to you? When we put up a photo of Chris Christie and quotation marks around words that we attribute to him, on specific dates and in specific media, knowing that’s wrong, we haven’t won any battles, we’ve merely contributed to the dumbing down, the name-calling, the schoolyard taunting quality of American politics.

It would not be difficult to find reams of direct quotes from Chris Christie that would hoist him with his own petard. Likewise Louis Gohmert, who is a hardworking factory of lies. You want grist for your political hate mail? The facts are out there. Let’s take them to task on the facts. But when we just pander to our own feelings and desires and what we want to believe, we can’t then attack the other side for doing the same.

When we present opinions under quotation marks; when we rewrite history to suit our own needs; when we compromise our own values in order to score fleeting and hollow victories against perceived enemies, we are no better than the opponents. And then, when our opponents accuse us of lying and misrepresentation, we have to concede, “Yep. We did it. So what?”

And that’s when we lose. It’s when the American people lose. It’s when the political system gets beyond the control of intelligent people wanting to be informed voters and falls to the hands of who has the loudest megaphone, the largest checkbook, the meanest barbs. Without a claim to moral or at least ethical superiority, we lose an important arrow in our quiver and distort the democratic process. It’s difficult to criticize a system that doesn’t represent the people’s interest when the people aren’t representing their own.

Note: The person who posted the Chris Christie meme  informs me that he later removed the post from his page.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The art of the gay cruise

PacinoCruising

Al Pacino in the film “Cruising.”

We received a booklet produced by a man named Robert Brandon Sandor, who runs a website called Poz4Poz.com, which supports a new “age of enlightenment” in HIV prevention. The self-published booklet, called The Essential Sex Venue Etiquette and Resource Guide, is basically a primer for conduct at bath houses. I imagine the pamphlet could be useful for you men entering the sex scene, but I was most drawn to a category called “Cruising Techniques.” It’s interesting to see the gay mating ritual deconstructed the way Sandor does it. Here is an edited version of his techniques (check out especially his last bit of advice):

The Look — Simply make and maintain eye contact for a longer period than usual.

The Brush Past — If someone you are interested in is standing in the hall or other public area, you could walk past and lightly brush your hand against [his] upper leg, arm or chest. If he follows — enjoy!

1, 2, 3, Turn — This is pretty much the same as cruising in the bars or on the street. As you walk [past the man you are interested in] count to three and turn to look back over your shoulder. Is he looking back at you? If he is, you can do a number of things: Stop and lean against the wall, signal for him to follow you, change direction and follow him or go into a room and have fun. Word of caution: As you are looking back, be careful not to walk into a wall or trip down a flight of stairs.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Racy Andy Warhol art up for auction online at Christie’s for Pride Month

Lot 125_QuerelleAndy Warhol has been springing up in my life a lot lately. I just got back from Las Vegas, where the Bellagio has an exhibit of his work; I’m preparing a story about his hometown, Pittsburgh; and now, Christie’s auction house has announced — timed to coincide with Pride Month — a curated sale of some of the gay icon’s celebrated works, many of them dead-sexy drawings and Polaroids (and we’re talking racy, gay-ass, NSFW shit, as well as some classy celebrity portraits, like Truman Capote meeting Phillip Johnson).

Called “For Members Only: Eyes on the Guise,” the online auction — which you can get to here — continues until next Thursday, June 27. Even if you don’t bid on anything (though some start as low as $800!), it’s worth a peak. But you’d probably come up with an excuse in advance for your boss about why you’re scrolling through rough-trade photos. (“It’s art, ma’am! I’m an art patron!”)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Love Is All’ actress Trine Dyrholm cares about — even same-sex love

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Trine Dyrholm as Ida in ‘Love Is All You Need’

In the charming Danish import Love Is All You Need, a gay subplot complicates the life of Ida (Trine Dyrholm), a hairdresser suffering through a round of chemotherapy.

Cancer and closeted gay folks aren’t the only things weighing on Ida. Her husband is cheating on her with a bimbo, and her son is off to military service just before her daughter’s wedding. Worst of all, Ida meets Philip (Pierce Brosnan), the father of the groom to her mother of the bride, by running into him … literally. But Love Is All You Need — directed by acclaimed, Oscar-winning Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier — is not so much a tragedy as a romantic parable that recalls Moonstruck, Enchanted April and other relationship comedies with darker themes.

It also marks a 1-2-3 punch for Dyrholm, who last year made an impression as the vicious Queen Juliane Marie in the Oscar-nominated historical drama A Royal Affair and co-starred another acclaimed import in 2010, the Oscar winning foreign language film In a Better World. But Ida is a real change of pace for the actress.

“I’m known [in Denmark] for drama,” she says over sparkling water at the Crescent Court Hotel on a recent visit to Dallas. “That was the big challenge for me, to be in a lighter film.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sleepy genius

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Mike Hadreas — aka Perfume Genius — has grown into an ethereal messenger since 2010’s Learning. Touching on themes that can apply to anyone, Hadreas is both a beacon of hope and a teller of dreamy tales on his new CD, Put Your Back N 2 It (Matador Records).

Hadreas starts the album on a sleepy, languid path with “AWOL Marine” and stays consistent throughout the 12 tracks. This can be a turn-off for someone looking for a more spirited album, but Hadreas is about depth and his lyrics reveal a major advance since Learning.

Finding inspiration from homemade basement porn never sounded so exquisite as it does in “Marine,” but the minimalist approach adds gravitas, not to mention beauty. He adds stunning emotions to “Take Me Home” (based on “hookerism”) and “Floating Spit” (about overdosing). Hadreas is fearless about turning out butterflies from such depths of social standards.

On “17,” Hadreas writes an ode to gay men who have issues with image. He admits the song is a “gay suicide letter” (and a short one, too, at 2:30) but it’s a shattering one. He doesn’t shy from abstract lyrics but they still bring enough poetic power to have a heartbreaking impact. When he quietly sings In the body of a violin/String it up on a fence/Cover it with semen/I am done, I am done with it, the words are piercing even through his simple delivery.

From suicide to romance, the title track is a love song that floats on a lush piano and brings to light the feelings of budding love and awkward gay sex. Hadreas is gloriously blatant, but decidely poignant. Lyrics like There is love with no hiding/Nothing you’ll show me I will never leave here/Let me be the one to turn you on whisper gently and before you know it, it’s already on your mixtape to your beau.

Put Your Back N 2 It is impressionistic in its package and addresses life as a gay man, but also life in general. He sings about his mother, holding his boyfriend’s hand and even death, all with a delicacy that speaks volumes if you listen closely.

— Rich Lopez

Three and half stars.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

“Head Figure Head” more about journalism than about Gov. Rick Perry’s sex life

Head Figure Head, the new e-book from Glen Maxey, details the author’s arduous and frustrating six-month effort to investigate rumors of Gov. Rick Perry’s gay sex life. Maxey served as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) during Perry’s tenure as a state representative, later serving for 12 years as a state representative, spanning Perry’s time as agricultural commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor. Of all the people who’ve attempted to look into the rumors of Perry’s trysts with men, Maxey is perhaps best positioned to get to the truth, and takes great pains to ensure we are aware of that fact.

The book is the narrative of Maxey’s research, assisted by a journalist from a national media outlet. Like almost every character in the book other than Maxey and Perry himself, “the Journalist” is referred to only as a pseudonym. Maxey and the Journalist begin their search for proof in June 2011 as rumors of Perry’s impending presidential bid are widely circulating. Immediately the pair find that almost every gay man in Austin has a friend who has a friend who claims to have slept with Perry. For the next three months they track those leads and come excruciatingly close to breaking the story.

—  admin

3 men arrested in Cyprus for gay sex

Members of the European Parliament calling for the release of the three men include, from left, Eleni Theochaurus, Ioannis Kasoulides, Michael Cashman

As those of us here in the U.S. continue our fight for things like marriage equality and employment nondiscrimination laws, we should remember that are LGBT brothers in sisters in other places are still fighting for the right not to be arrested.

The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights reports that three men in Northern Cyprus, which is under the control of Turkey, have been arrested and jailed for more than five days now for “conspiring to have a sexual intercourse against the order of nature.”

If the men are convicted, they could be imprisoned for up to five years.

According to the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, one of the men is former Cyprus Finance Minister Dr. Michael Sarris. The other two were not named.

The Intergroup on LGBT Rights notes that Northern Cyprus is the only remaining territory in Europe where homosexuality is illegal, and that laws criminalizing homosexuality are a breach of the “European Convention on Human Rights,” which is in force in Cyprus.

Eleni Theocharous and Ioannis Kasoulides, Cypriot members of the European Parliament have called for the men’s immediate release, saying in a written statement that “Consenting adults have the right to engage in sexual intercourse with people of the same sex.”

Michael Cashman, another member of the European Parliament and president of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, added, “The criminalisation of homosexuality has no place in the 21st century.”

—  admin

Video: Old lady explains anal sex, doesn’t know about Astroglide

I love it when elderly straight people presume to understand the mechanics of gay sex, and use weird biblicabiology (“anuses aren’t lubricated so weren’t meant to have anything inserted”) to justify homophobia. Enjoy how stupid this woman is:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Parkinson’s drug may cure heterosexuality

A drug used to treat some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease may cure heterosexuality, according to Time magazine. The drug, Requip, is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.

According to the report, Didier Jambart, 51, of Nantes, France, began taking Requip in 2003. He soon began displaying what his attorney called uncharacteristic behavior. The (0pposite-sex) married father of two attempted suicide, became addicted to online gambling and became a gay sex addict. He stopped being a gay sex addict when he stopped taking the drug, he claims.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists says that compulsive behaviors are a known side-effect of the drug.

Jambart is suing the drug company for more than $600,000. We think heterosexuals should be paying for the opportunity to be cured.

—  David Taffet

Reporter asks players if they’d go gay in exchange for Super Bowl ring at Media Day

In today’s Dallas Voice we have a Super Bowl-related story about homophobia in the NFL (image above). And while we didn’t make it to Super Bowl Media Day at Cowboys Stadium on Tuesday, it sounds like a reporter from 105.3 The Fan had the gay angle covered. According to Time magazine, the unidentified reporter from the Dallas radio station was going around asking players if they’d go gay in exchange for a Super Bowl ring:

But in a new media day low, a reporter from Dallas-area sports radio station, 105.3 The FAN, asked one Packer if he would turn gay if that would guarantee a Super Bowl victory for the team.

To confirm I heard this line of questioning correctly, I watched this reporter interview a Steelers player during Pittsburgh’s media session. First inquiry: “Who has the biggest wiener on the team?” She asked the player who his favorite celebrity was. When he told her it was Denzel Washington, she asked if he would “hook up” with Denzel in exchange for a Super Bowl ring.

It continued. She asked if he would “French kiss” his father for a million dollars, and implored him to “describe a vagina.”

And here’s a gay reaction to Time‘s report from Cyd Ziegler Jr. at OutSports.com: “I’m not sure why asking someone if they would have gay sex for a Super Bowl ring is so “low.” Heck, I’d have sex with Denzel Washington in exchange for a Super Bowl ring any day!”

—  John Wright