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The father of two teenage boys has asked city officials to fine the Bentonville (Ark.) Public Library for keeping The Whole Lesbian Sex Book by Felice Newman on the open shelves where his sons could find it. Earl Adams said his 14- and 16-year-old sons discovered the book in January while browsing for literature on military academies and were “greatly disturbed,” causing “many sleepless nights in our house.”...
I'll just bet that book has caused some sleepless nights for those two teenage boys! But Dad doesn't have to worry - it's not true that they'll go blind!
I'm not saying that I have no sense of humor about it but this issue has obviously rubbed a very sensitive area for the father. What if his boys grow up and become the type of men who find lesbians sexy? What if his boys grow up to be fairly normal men? How will he live with himself if he doesn’t keep an epidemic like this from raising its ugly head throughout his town?
You're killin' me!
How can we get a man like this to come around to our viewpoint? I admit it would be hard. It must give him a lot of pleasure to dominate other people. Perhaps we should expose ourselves to criticism by revealing all that we truly feel. If we all open our mouths, hold on tight, and refuse to be beaten, then when everything reaches a climax I believe freedom will prevail.
I will bend over backwards to support freedom of expression.
I've even bent over forward to express myself!
Hmmm, I might need to check this out for myself...
...purely in the interest of being an informed citizen, of course.
You fine people have given me the courage to tackle the harder issues. In fact, the harder the better, I say!
How bloody small would your library have to be that books about military academies were anywhere near the 613.96's? Sure they weren't looking for sex books....
I loathe the hate speech argument, it's just too hard to define and too easily used to shut people up.
"One man's vulgarity is another's lyric."
-- John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court justice, 1971
I've read that one, I just wanted to tweak it to fit the context. Still, it's a great quote.
Sounds to me like somebody hid it there so he (maybe she, but probably he) could find it later.
I am no fan of Flynt but he made one point very clear to me during that episode, he mailed a pamphlet titled “The real obscenity” (or something very close to that) to every household in Hamilton county. It was the most horrific thing I have ever seen, graphic images of real violence, bodies ripped and torn apart. George Carlin was right sex and violence are not one and the same.
No, violence is most acceptable, the gorier the better. Given the attitude Americans seem to have about sex, I don't understand why this isn't the last generation. If sex is so nasty, why do we engage in it?
What gets me is how when these conservative, moral leaders get called out, they aren't doing something as tame as visiting high-piced hookers. They are IMing teenagers and tapping their feet in toilet stalls. There's got to be some sort of tie between an anti-sex crusader and the fact that so many have been caught with really weird and twisted sex lives.
Did I ever tell my story of being in Electronics outique watching an angry mother (and her embarassed 12 year old son) complaining about the nastiness of Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball (full of cheesecake computer girls in bikinis playing beach volleyball). She demanded an exchange. What did she exchange it for? One of the Mortal Kombat video games (extremely violent fighting games where brutality is encouraged and the opponent should be executed at the end of a match).
When the clerk warned her that the game was extreeemely violent and disturbing (I think he wanted to mke sure she had no reason to return again), she said that it was okay. Her son could handle any amount of violence.
I like these games myself, but I would be much more comfortable with a teenage boy watching bikini girls for hours than I would with them spending those same hours executing opponents in violent ways.
All I can say is I'm glad I don't have kids enrolled in the same school as her kid.
I have a theory about certain types of gay men. In particular, I believe there are gay men who tend toward authoritarianism in general, and sin, shame, disgust, and confusion when it comes to their own sexuality. These men know, or at least realize, they are gay. This is a state of affairs which due to their upbringing is unacceptable to themselves. No matter who they are, or what kind of life they lead, their gay sexuality is not willingly a part of their self-image.
Because they won't allow themselves to be gay, they try to grow up as straight, responsible, good, moral, upstanding members of the community, wih wives and children and a pet in the backyard and two guns in the house. Of course allowing oneself not to be gay if one is gay, must be like trying to lose 150 pounds by not eating, or only eating stuff that you really don't like - they want terribly to do it, but there's that pesky appetite to contend with. I expect for some men being gay is too much like that. As they reach adulthood and they can no longer keep their secret from themselves they become angry, ashamed, guiltridden, and self-loathing because they can't not be gay no matter how desperately they wish it weren't so.
When these men accede to positions of power or influence, they turn against gays because homosexuality, while it may be enticing, is so immoral (the authoritarian streak is crucial here) and disgusting. They try to destroy their own gay demons by destroying the gays around them. This accomplishes three things:1) they show God how not gay they really are by taking on His mantle for morality, 2) they push other gays back into their holes not to be always there, taunting, taunting them with their open homosexuality, an intolerable moral position that they will not abide, and 3) if everyone else is in the closet, then they can all live out their hidden lives without being reminded of their own evil and wickedness. Of course they can't and they become people like that Sen. from Idaho, and the congressman from Florida, virulently anti-gay and queer as a three-dollar bill all at the same time. Truly, my heart goes out to these guys, but hey, don't mess with me because you're a despicable abomination in the eyes of Father God.
Like any other sexuality, it's very complicated and they wind up being in possibly the most complicated dance of all. These men have my pity, because no matter how society's attitudes toward homosexuality change, they will always be sinful, hated, morally misshapen creatures, abominations in the eyes of God. What a horrible way to have to live life.
When I see someone just nearly irrational in the strength of their negative feelings toward gays, I pause for a moment and say to myself, "Methinks thou dost protest to much".
nohrt4me asks:Couldn't this pretty much describe any man in conflict with his sexuality? Or any woman?
A preoccupation with controlling one's behavior and thoughts about certain aspects of life pretty much assures you're going to be thinking about them ALL THE TIME.
When people try to be perfect instead of simply trying to have high moral standards, they begin to see temptation lurking everywhere (including books and movies) and want to lock it up so they don't go ape shit wild in the streets.
I wish I checked this thread more often! That was a very interesting post.
Reading that entire post I just kept thinking about the Catholic church and their problems.
I'm an atheist, but on a lot of things I respect the Catholic church more than protestant churches. They are accepting of things like evolution and more power to them. I know that they say that homosexuality itself isn't a sin, but practicing it is. So I've wondered do they accept that some people are born homosexual?
Just for the record, there are protestant churches that not only say that "homosexuality itself isn't a sin," but that support gay marriage. United Church of Christ, for one. I confess that I'm not sure if there even is an official position on evolution, let alone what it is, but as the general philosophy is to accept lots of different opinions and concentrate on the good things we can do together, I doubt severely that it is unaccepting of evolution.
I agree "more power to" the Catholic church when it comes to accepting evolution, but please don't suggest that protestant denominations are uniformly unaccepting.
I understand. I was going by the bulk of protestants. Yes, I know and support progressive protestants. More power to the Church of Christ and the Sojourner types. I used to know a girl who was a Church of Christer. I enjoyed talking about religion with her. We could really use a lot more of them. But in general (especially here in south Texas) the protestants are more of the Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson ilk.
The Catholic church is a more monolithic thing. Their may be a wide variety of views, but ultimately what the pope says goes. It's easier to nail down their views (well, their official views anyway).
The official word from the Boys In Black in Rome is that we are to accept the worth of every human person as a child of God, and that homosexuals are born, not "made" by some trauma or error committed by their mothers.
The crux of the biscuit is that orthodox Catholics view homosexuality as something like an inherited genetic disease that you treat with celibacy.
And the rest of us believe that what's in the Catechism, an ever-changing document, has not yet fully plumbed the mind of God, and the understanding of the Church about homosexuality may not be complete. Like with Galileo and the Copernican solar system.
And, yes, we believe in evolution as the process by which God created life, but we do not believe that the process was random in that God is surprised by the unfolding of that process.
Not trying to proselytize--we don't do that--but just want to clear things up.
Thanks for the insight.
Now what I don't understand is this: If the Catholics accept that homosexuality is not a choice (for most anyway) but a genetic condition, why can they not then marry each other so that the would not have to be celibate?
What other genetic disease is there where they blame the 'afflicted' for their condition?
But the question is what makes a homosexual a homosexual? If it is a condition they are born into rather than a concious choice, how can it be sinful?
Sex is allowed only within marriage, and marriage, as defined by the Church, is a union designed for the procreation of the human race.
Homosexual marriage is an orthodox oxymoron--you can't have a marriage unless you're open to procreation.
Many Catholics since Vatican II (and probably before) have found this a very narrow view of sex.
jseger9000, the Church maintains it's not punishing homosexuals or setting up any special rules for them. The prohibition against sex outside of marriage extends to single heterosexuals as well.
Church teaching does not condemn homosexual sex any more than heterosexual sex outside of marriage.
There is, of course, a vehemence you see against homosexuality and the so-called "homosexual agenda" among some Catholics (and especially the political activists among the Protestant right wing) that has more to do with paranoia and hatred than doctrine.
Back to the book banning topic, I had an interesting discussion with some other Catholic parents about J.K. Rowling's revelation that Dumbledore was gay. Most seemed to take it in stride, but some said it would be grounds for them not to let their kids read the book (even though D's orientation is never mentioned in any book).
Interestingly, none of the parents said that the books should be censored, banned or otherwise suppressed, but that it should be a parental decision.
I love the way the Rowling announcement messes with the literary criticism of the thing. In what sense is Dumbledore gay? He doesn't exist. I'm still stuck in book six, but I understand you can't tell from the books alone—right?
Sorry. I'm the one derailing this conversation. I find the Catholic church interesting. I'm an atheist now, but grew up going to Protestant churches and understand where they are coming from. I never knew much about what Catholics believed until a few years ago though, so I enjoy and appreciate any Catholic that will take the time to explain stuff to me.
I don't think you are defending or promoting and I hope all of my questions aren't being taken as an attack.
I guess what I'm trying to get my head around (and I'll drop it after this so we can get back to book banners) is:
Sex is allowed only within marriage, and marriage, as defined by the Church, is a union designed for the procreation of the human race.
the Church maintains it's not punishing homosexuals or setting up any special rules for them. The prohibition against sex outside of marriage extends to single heterosexuals as well.
Church teaching does not condemn homosexual sex any more than heterosexual sex outside of marriage.
Right, but these are rules that were created before they accepted the idea that being gay is in the genes, not in the jeans. I don't like to think of being gay is a disease, but that is still a much kinder view than most Protestant churches take (most, not all!), so I can live with that.
What I'm thinking though is: If gays are born that way and can't help where their attraction lies, then shouldn't they perhaps revisit those rules? I understand the procreation angle. But by accepting that those that are born with this 'condition' are not interested in the opposite sex, but would like to be married is the church not discriminating against these members based on something that is completely beyond their control?
Like the Galileo affair before, perhaps they should re-evaluate their understanding of God's creation based on further scientific evidence. Think of how easy it would be to reuse this statement from Pope John Paul II with the issue of gay marriage: The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture....
Nohrt, I promise I don't mean to make you the PR man for the Catholic church here. I do appreciate all your thoughtful responses though.
He's gay because the author says that he is, and you can't tell from the books because his sexuality is never relevant, in much the same way that you won't necessarily know the sexual orientation of everybody you meet unless they happen to mention their significant others. Authors often think things through about their characters that don't actually make it into the book. Whether or not they choose to talk about these things outside of the work itself is up to the individual author.
nohrt4me replies: In a way, they have revisted the rules in two important ways.
Since Galileo, the Church via John Paul II made it clear that the Church may speak only about matters of faith and morals. That is, the Church has got out of the science biz.
What that means re homosexuals is that the Church accepts that scientific exploration of homosexuality may open new ways of understanding it. The Church is no longer lobbying to make homosexuality a sin. And at the diocesan level, there are bishops who have focus groups of gay parishioners who advise them about how to minister to gay Catholics.
While the guys in Rome are not now revisiting the moral proscription against sex outside of marriage, including homosexual sex, many progressive Catholics believe that being gay is a kind of special moral case.
This is being debated fiercely among lay theologians. And you can bet Rome is listening in.
In addition to your good question, some Catholics have asked what's the difference between gay people marrying and men and women who marry late in life, after the woman has gone through menopause? They can't procreate either, yet the Church allows them to marry.
They've also asked why, even if the Church doesn't recognize a gay union as "marriage," gay people should be shut out from civil unions that allow them to protect joint assets and provide for any children they may have adopted?
In asking these questions, the laity begins to force the hierarchy in Rome to address them.
As a Catholic, you also have to accept that most doctrines are not going to change in your lifetime. So, at the grassroots level, your obligation is to stick up for the worth of homosexual people and to fight legal and social prejudices against them.
I don't want to argue, but, look, Dumbledore isn't gay or not gay—he doesn't exist. He is a character in a series of novels—a series that has apparently ended. There is something off-kilter about the idea that characters exist outside of the medium that embodies them. There are all sorts of weird results if authorial intent "changes" what the work itself does not say. What if Homer thought that Achilles had a mole on his left toe, but never wrote it down?
The movie people had written in some female love interest, which she nixed, and explained that this would be inconsistent with the continuing story she had planned.
I would contend, however, that there's nothing at all off-kilter about the idea that characters exist outside the medium that embodies them.
The author provides most of the story, but the reader's imagination and experiences provides some extended life for the characters.
How else to explain Jean Rhys's "Wide Sargasso Sea," for example, which imagined a whole early life for Bertha Rochester before "Jane Eyre."
Or "Wicked," which retells the Oz story from the Wicked Witch of the West's POV.
Long before Rowling announced that Dumbledore was gay, lots of readers speculated that this might explain the character's aloofness, his unwillingness to form close attachments, his secrecy.
But perhaps you mean something entirely different in yoour comments that I have failed to perceive.
No, I hear you. Clearly everyone involved—the author, the readers—carry around a mental representation of a story.
There are clearly true beliefs about these words and false believes—and a lot of in-between. But I'm interested in how to understand it when the author says something about a character that isn't reified in the texts themselves.
I think the situation is more clear if you think of a movie. What do we "do" with the intentions of the writer that never made it into the film, or the scenes cut from a film? It seems to me that works of art should be judged as works of art, and if, say, Lucas and Spielberg wanted Indiana Jones to be a closeted gay but never put it in the films, there's no good reason to change my mental representation accordingly.
To take another bus, do I need to figure Matrix 2 and 3 into my understanding of Matrix 1? I'd say no. In that case, the latter are such inferior productions that, even if the author is the same, the works themselves don't cohere into something worthy of my respect, and it is the work, not the mind of the author not even the author's subsequent elaborations on the work that matters.
In this instance, Dumbledore being gay may not be written about, but it influences how he reacts in the books.
I think Morphidae is on to something--that backstory, even when not part of the text, influences the way someone might read the story--and thus fear it.
Some Catholic parents I know won't let their kids read Harry Potty b/c they're afraid it makes a gay character too sympathetic--even though Potter was great before Rowling outed him.
To which I couldn't help asking whether it would have been OK if Voldemort had been gay, a question they really hated, since none of them wants to demonize gay people, either.
ANYway, I recall something called "the intentional fallacy" we studied in lit crit in grad school, which is that it's no fair for critics to guess what the author intended, either intentionally or not.
There are several feminist critics who have tried to make a case that Charlotte in "Pride and Prejudice" is gay, whether Austen knew it consciously or not, because of her rather bloodless, unromantic attitude toward marriage.
This strikes me as really stretching textual analysis beyond the credulity and thus a disservice to the book.
"Forncation is, therefore, not 'natural', but UNNATURAL ...
Were fornication, indeed, 'natural', it could not be evil; for 'nothing is evil which is according to nature'.
Chastity, on the other hand, *is* natural; for chastity is in strict accordance with our nature's great, properly-governing, component parts, conscience, or reason, and self-love."
Ah,how little the times have changed. Even the convoluded arguments are the same...
Ironically, he goes on to recommend reading Chaucer as a clean, moral author one should read to keep from idleness. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the Canturbury tales is pretty much one big long sex book. Chaucer, I'm certain, would have LOVED the Lesbian Sex Book.
Backstory can not be important unless it is there to be read. Whatever J.K. Rowling's opinions were when she was writing the books, as a reader anything she didn't mention within those seven books won't have any effect unless she publishes an eighth book that draws on that story.
In regards to Harry Potter, Jerram Barrs (a LT member, I found out later) did a talk at my church about Harry Potter as embodying a Christian message. I won't go into that here, but when discussing Dumbledore's outing he basically made the case that J.K. Rowling was wrong. That she had misinterpreted her own work.
What I suppose this comes down to is whether you view works as being inspired by a muse (divine or not) or by the writer itself. If it's handed down by a muse by whatever name, then certainly the writer can get it wrong.
On the other hand, I just read a blog post where the writer mentioned that he loathed when authors claimed not to know what happened to their characters. That certainly anyone who had concocted a novel probably knew what happened a few steps before and after what they had created. Oddly, he used the same argument that Tim does (these are not real people) to support the opposite assertion. These aren't real people so they have no free will. They are the authors puppets and do only what the author commands them to.
From my point of view, I think that both those arguments are flawed. I think it's the mind of the reader, viewer, art patron, etc. that characters ultimately come into existence. If you interpret Dumbledore as being Gay then he is, if you don't then he's not. Basically, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
I guess that guy missed the story about the young wife doing it in a tree with some young stud in front of her blind husband. When hubby's blindness is miraculously cured right at the critical juncture, the wife thinks fast and tells him that most people who are cured of blindness like that at first see stuff that's basically like hallucinations. Like her and the stud in the tree.
And that one where the students rearrange the baby cradle in the dark so that the farmer goes off to a different bed and the students can boink the wife and daughter.
There's other stuff in there, too, but mostly sex, farts and pratfalls.
Where does an author's domain over a character begin and end?
Hopefully this very interesting discussion can continue over there.
The main part I remember from the Canterbury tales is a story where this obnoxious guy goes to kiss the girl he likes through her window. The thing is, she can't stand him, so she moons him, and he has his eyes closed so it takes him awhile to realize he's making out with her butt...
I hope I didn't imagine that part of the book...
That Chaucer, real clean family fun-time entertainment.
That's what's so wonderful about them--they've got everything: factional feuds, dainty ladies, what women want, crooked clergymen selling religion, ham-handed merchants, crude humor, even anti-semitism (a horror, of course, but part of the landscape that Chaucer reports pretty tellingly).
Sex, death and the latrine were a lot more out in the open in those days. I'd bet in those days this WAS considered family entertainment.
We hit on that topic in a history class this spring, single room cabins, large families, and the obvious conclusion that children were in the room during procreation. It was funny watching the twenty-somethings deny the possibility of pioneer families having sex in the same room as other people.
We all take in information through a filter of our culture/biases/experiences and make connections in our minds that give our readings special meaning for US. I tend to give the author "credit" for these "ah-HA" associations and when they provide extra information (in interviews or essays) as opposed to letting the work "speak-for-itself" I am almost universally disappointed. ("Oh, is THAT all you were getting at? - how BORING!")
My advice to authors - shake your head ruefully, smile enigmatically and let others make what they will of your work.
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it an remove all doubt -- Mark Twain