Tonight, CNN aired the second part of ‘The Sissy Boy Experiment,’ a series examining the effects of a government-funded gender-normalizing therapy on a 5-year old gay boy named Kirk Murphy in 1970. Kirk’s family believes that the dangerous therapy, which required Kirk’s father to beat him for displaying feminine behavior, contributed to Kirk’s suicide at the age of 38 and they blame George Rekers — the now disgraced co-founder of the Family Research Council who took part in Kirk’s treatment — for his death.
Watch as CNN confronts Rekers with the family’s allegation and his reaction to the news that Kirk had committed suicide:
REPORTER: They say the therapy you did as a child led to his suicide as an adult. what do you say about that?
REKERS: I didn’t know that. That’s too bad.
REPORTER: You’re not aware of the suicide?
REPORTER: What do you say if the family said that your therapy led to his suicide?
REKERS: Well, I think scientifically, that would be inaccurate to assume that it was the therapy. But I do grieve for the parents now that you’ve told me that news. I think that’s very sad.
Unfortunately, conservative Christian groups are still touting Rekers’ experiments as evidence that gay people can become straight. This weekend, the group Exodus International — the largest umbrella group for ex-gay ministries — is hosting a conference aimed at convincing young children and their families that they can reverse their sexual orientation. You can read Zack Ford’s takedown of the conference’s various workshops and panels here.
During an appearance on CNN this evening, GOP presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) hinted that he would push for a federal constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage if he were elected president, arguing that gay or lesbian relationships could destabilize the culture, rob children “of the potential of having a mom and a dad,” and undermine religious liberties:
SANTORUM: Once people realize the consequence to society of changing this definition, it’s not that we’re against anybody. People can live the life they want to live. They can do whatever they want to do in the privacy of their home with respect to that activity. Now you’re talking about changing the laws of the country. and it could have a profound impact on society, on faith, on education. Once people realize that, they say, you know what, we respect people’s life to live the life they want to lead but don’t change how with that definition.
Santorum did not talk about what impact a federal ban would have on the same-sex couples and families currently residing in the five states (plus the District of Columbia) that extend gay and lesbian people all of the rights and obligations of marriage.
Note: At the end I post more of my exclusive interview with the author of The Great Disruption, Paul Gilding.
First, here’s the opening of Friedman’s op-ed, “The Earth Is Full,” currently the most e-mailed piece on the NY Times website:
You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?
“The only answer can be denial,” argues Paul Gilding, the veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a new book called “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.” “When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.”
Long-time readers remember Paul Gilding, former executive director of Greenpeace International, from Tom Friedman’s 2009 column on how the global economy is a Ponzi scheme. I was quoted in that column, too, and as a result, I have gotten to know him. I interviewed him earlier in the year and will post a couple of clips below.
The entire Friedman piece is worth reading, though. Here’s more:
“Their solution is to tax the wealthy in Fairfield County, redistribute income and hope people in Greenwich and Darien don’t move to Florida,” said Christopher Healy, the state Republican Party chairman.
Empirical studies I’m familiar with suggest that this tends not to happen. But what if it did? Connecticut is the third-richest state in the United States and the fourth most densely populated. On a per square foot basis, its housing is the fourth most expensive in the country, some 40-50 percent above the national average. This has all added up to some sluggish economic growth in the face of evident economic opportunity. If some quantity of rich people leave Connecticut, the result will be to make it more affordable for other people to move there. Connecticut will still have more tax revenue than it did pre-hike, and now more people will be able to take advantage of the economic opportunities that the state affords.
Meanwhile, Florida was already a poorer-than-average state before being unusually hard-hit by the current recession. Redistributing some rich people from Connecticut to Florida could be a win-win. And that’s especially true if the mechanism to produce the redistribution also allows for the financing of valuable public services. I can’t speak to the question of what Connecticut spends its money on, but as usual this is the right question to be asking — what are we spending it on and is it useful? The evils of taxes, as such, are vastly exaggerated.
A common claim amongTea Partiersand the right-wing fringe is that the Obama administration is engineering a “federal takeover” of the public education system through its support for common, national academic standards. During a townhall in New Hampshire a few days ago, 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney played into this nonsensical fear, responding to a question about a “national takeover” of public education via national standards by warning about the Obama administration’s “so-called experts taking over the rights of people, states and local governments”:
If Barack Obama says I’m going to take that and impose it on the nation I will fight it to the ‘n’th degree. We do not have the federal government stepping in with their so-called experts taking over the rights of people, states and local governments. It’s against the Constitution and it’s wrong for America. [...]
I can’t imagine in America where you’re going to have a White House, Republican or Democrat, or a Congress, a Republican or a Democrat, laying out what our kids have to be taught. That is unacceptable.
First, the Common Core, as most of our readers know, is a state-led effort launched and maintained by the organizations representing the state chiefs and governors. The Common Core started before Obama even became president. Certainly, Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have used the bully pulpit — and Race to the Top — to cajole states into jumping on board. The feds also put up money for states to develop common tests. [...]
Second, the teachers’ unions—who are undeniably a key part of the Democratic base — haven’t exactly been the ones driving the train when it comes to the Common Core or common tests. And third, neither Obama nor Duncan say they plan to have anything to do with school curriculum, which is messy business.
Romney is turning a common-sense, bipartisan effort designed by the National Governors Association into an Obama-led socialist takeover. It was a Republican governor — former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue — who co-chaired the development of the standards. National standards also have the support of Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN). These two are hardly raging socialists. But Romney, to placate the right-wing of his party, has to turn the common standards effort into a plot by the Obama administration to circumvent the Constitution, even if that portrayal is completely absurd.
The first in an occasional series in which I consider what a movie from the past says about art and politics now.
I’m not really sure where I got the idea that The Man With One Red Shoe was a good movie. I imagine it’s mostly because it’s part of the narrative of the rise of Tom Hanks into that mid-career period before stuff like The Terminal where it seemed like he could do absolutely no wrong. But it’s not very funny, either as a comedy about a naif, or as a comedy about the intelligence. In some ways, it feels like the same “Oh, goodness! There’s a dead body in the closet!” joke, repeated over and over again, though the choreography in a scene where a bunch of CIA agents accidentally sap each other is a nice bit of physical comedy and reasonably entertaining.
I think the problem is largely that, while The Man With One Red Shoe is based in a specific sort of conflict, as a CIA director tries to ward off a coup by embarrassing his departmental rival, the specific circumstances the CIA is in are actually rather general. The movie came out in 1985, a couple of years after Ronald Regan’s “Evil Empire” speech. And while the movie’s villains are meant to be stupid for thinking that Hanks’ naive violinist is actually a Soviet spy, the movie stops short of insisting on the goofiness of faceoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the way, which is what the conflict between KAOS and CONTROL did so effectively in Get Smart.
And though the initial scene involves drug smuggling, there’s nothing about the humor that’s particularly derived from the War on Drugs. The movie comes out just a few months too early to be based on the big Associated Press investigation of the CIA’s involvement in the Contras’ cocaine trafficking, but clearly the possibility that the federal government might be running drugs was in the wind, and it might have been a specifically funny route to try out. Instead, there’s a “we get everyone in a shipyard high” joke, and the movie’s on to the next one:
When it comes to both fear and laughter in movies about intelligence and national security, specificity is useful. And political specificity can lend a particularly sharpness to that bite.
In March, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain burst onto the presidential scene when he told ThinkProgress that he “will not” appoint Muslims in his administration.
Under intensepressure, Cain’s campaign walked back the candidate’s words, saying that he would appoint “any person for a position based on merit.” However, the next week, Cain hedged his retraction, telling the Orlando Sun Sentinel that he would only appoint a Muslim who disavowed Sharia law, but that “he’s unaware of any Muslim who’d be willing to make such a disavowal.”
On the Glenn Beck Show today, the host asked the Georgia Republican about his refusal to appoint Muslims. Cain told Beck that he would be willing to appoint a Muslim only “if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first.” Beck followed up by asking if he was calling for “some loyalty proof” for Muslims. Cain said, “Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.” When Beck then asked “Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?” Cain told the host, “Nope, I wouldn’t.”:
BECK: You said you would not appoint a Muslim to anybody in your administration.
CAIN: The exact language was when I was asked, “would you be comfortable with a Muslim in your cabinet?” And I said, “no, I would not be comfortable.” I didn’t say I wouldn’t appoint one because if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first then they would be a candidate just like everybody else. My entire career, I’ve hired good people, great people, regardless of their religious orientation.
BECK: So wait a minute. Are you saying that Muslims have to prove their, that there has to be some loyalty proof?
CAIN: Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.
BECK: Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?
CAIN: Nope, I wouldn’t. Because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions. I know that there are some Muslims who talk about, “but we are a peaceful religion.” And I’m sure that there are some peace-loving Muslims.
Cain’s call for a loyalty oath targeted at a specific segment of the population is a historical relic that ought to be confined to the past. Forcing a subset of Americans to prove their loyalty to the United States was as wrong during the era of McCarthyism as it is today.
Cain’s requirement that Muslim nominees take a loyalty oath while Catholics and Mormons would be exempted is not only bigoted, it’s also ironic considering that the same suspicion was once levied at Catholics. During the 1960 presidential election, anti-Catholic sentiment held that if then-Sen. John F. Kennedy were elected president, his Catholic faith would make him beholden to the Pope rather than the United States. Such views were abhorrent when directed at Catholics 50 years ago, and they are abhorrent when directed at Muslims today.
Three months ago, ThinkProgress wrote, “As the Republican presidential nomination process begins, one GOP candidate is making a name for himself as the Islamophobia candidate: Herman Cain.” Unfortunately, we are seeing just how true that prediction was.
Commentor Roger Anderson writes: “43 years ago at this time I was sitting in a Hospital in Japan suffering from multiple gun shot wounds. THIS IS NOT THE COUNTRY I GOT SHOT FOR.”