Ross Douthat, Christian Bigots, And The World’s Smallest Violin

It’s no secret that (with the exception of Paul Krugman and the forever-perfect Gail Collins), The New York Times op-ed columnists are not the great lights of wisdom and commentary they ought to be. There’s Frank Bruni, who rises to mediocre heights of confusion and good intentions. There’s Thomas L. Friedman, a perpetual-motion machine dedicated to the production of racist oversimplified metaphors.

And of course, there’s David Brooks, who in his pretensions to intellectualism and lazy fake-sociology is basically the human equivalent of that Chateau Diana “wine product” they sell by the cash register at bodegas: from far away you might think, oh, look, some nice wine, but then you get close and notice that the second thing on the ingredients list is high fructose corn syrup and it tastes like rotten fruit mixed with Sweet’n'Low and you’d probably be better off with regular old beer anyway.

But the Worst Times Column Olympics was won this week by the other Times conservative, Ross Douthat, who in a remarkable feat of point-missing entitled “The Terms Of Our Surrender,” expressed how deeply worried he is that the homosexuals are coming to oppress poor little Christian bakers who can’t possibly go to heaven if they make wedding cakes for lesbians. Those bakers have feelings, too. And they don’t like being called bigots. Their feelings are really hurt: Read more…

Uganda Ratifies Anti-LGBTQ Laws With Support From American Evangelicals

For the past two years or so, the world media has been talking about anti-LGBTQ bills in Uganda. Variously called the “Kill-the-gays” bills, they have taken various shapes over the last few years. In their latest form they increase penalties against homosexuality in Uganda to life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality,” and up to seven years in prison for a person who “aids, abets, counsels or procures” anyone to engage in homosexuality. HIV/AIDS counseling would count in that second category, as would simply declaring one’s own homosexuality or that one thought it was acceptable.

Yesterday, Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, signed the bill into law. Given his statement that the bill was a fight back against “social imperialism — to impose social values of one group on our society,” and the strong reaction of the United States and other Western governments against the law, most reporting (like the CNN link above) presented this as a case of a conservative country battling back against imperial Western-imposed liberalism. This is the same language Vladimir Putin has used to justify his own similar anti-LGBTQ laws. Read more…

Draft Prospect Michael Sam Came Out, And NFL Execs Are (Anonymously) Horrified

Last night, in an interview with the New York Times, University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam came out as gay (Outsports had a fantastic behind the scenes look at planning the big reveal). Sam, who graduated from Mizzou from December and is considered a top potential NFL draft pick, contributed to a 12-2 season and was named defensive player of the year in the SEC and Missouri’s MVP. Sam told the Times, “I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it… I just want to own my truth.”

NFL officials publicly welcomed Sam’s decision while privately acknowledging the negative effects it will have on his career prospects, further demonstrating the extent to which American pro sports place the marketing of macho ‘culture’ over the physical and mental well-being of athletes.

No major-league baseball, football, or basketball player has ever been openly gay during their time playing in the league – John Ameachi came out after his career ended in 2007, and Jason Collins did the same last year. Questions remain as to how the hypermacho NFL will react to Sam’s identity. Read more…

Burying The Rich In Snow and Giving The Poor Sick Days AKA De Blasio’s First Month In Office

Earlier this week, we explained what happened in Ukraine when you were away for break. Today, we turn our focus to New York City.

When you left for break – by plane, train, or automobile – you probably passed by a sign welcoming you to New York. And when you came back, you arrived to a subtly different one. Gone: the sentence, “Michael Bloomberg, Mayor;” replaced with “Bill de Blasio.”

On New Years’ Day, while you nursed your hangover, our new, tall, and habitually late Marxist-Leninist overlord was inaugurated in grand style, giving a speech that in no uncertain terms marked his intent to depart from the Scroogelike ways of Michael Bloomberg:

But now, in our time, we face a different crisis – an inequality crisis. It’s not often the stuff of banner headlines in our daily newspapers. It’s a quiet crisis, but one no less pernicious than those that have come before. Its urgency is read on the faces of our neighbors and their children, as families struggle to make it against increasingly long odds. To tackle a challenge this daunting, we need a dramatic new approach — rebuilding our communities from the bottom-up, from the neighborhoods up. And just like before, the world will watch as we succeed.

Bold stuff! So what’s happened since? Read more…

What You Missed During Our Polar Vortex Of A Break: Ukraine Has Not Yet Died Edition

Your first inclination when confronting today’s lovely temperatures is probably to click through some slideshows of Caribbean beaches, not to think about ugly geopolitical conflicts taking place someplace even snowier and colder than NYC. But if you have any interest in understanding what’s going on in Eastern Europe right now (and you really should), then you need to know some things about the massive waves of protest and political instability currently rocking Ukraine.

You’ll note that I said “Ukraine,” not “The Ukraine.” This is an important distinction. Your high-school English teacher was right when they told you that articles matter. “Ukraine” is the name of the country. “The Ukraine” is a term mostly used by Russian nationalists who fondly recall the days of the Greater Russian empire that included much of the land making up today’s Ukraine. Ukraine spent much of the 18th and 19th centuries as part of that empire, then spent much of the 20th as a borderland satellite state of the Soviet Union. So when they declared independence in 1992, they specifically requested that “Ukraine” be their name. “The Ukraine” is a region of Russia, “Ukraine” is its own independent state. Got it. Read more…

The Red Army Has Occupied Goldman Sachs, Or An Update On The Mayoral Transition

Bill de Blasio was elected Mayor in a red blaze of glory a month ago. And since then? Snooze.

At least publicly, it’s been snooze. It might be unnoticed, but a tremendous amount has been going on behind the scenes – and the way this transition is moving gives us some insight into the way our new mayor will govern, and how deeply he will change the city. As of writing, none of the most important positions (the various deputy mayors, the chief of police, and the chancellor of the schools) have been announced – but the people who will be picking them have been, and give us some clues. Read more…

“Confrontation Sells”: Ray Kelly Gave An Interview To Playboy, And Things Got Ridiculous

Despite New York City’s historically low crime rates, Ray Kelly, New York City’s Police Commissioner, hasn’t had the best few months.

His signature stop-and-frisk policy got trounced at the polls. Anti stop-and-frisk candidates Bill de Blasio and Letitia James won their primaries decisively and trounced their pro stop-and-frisk opponents in the general election. The policy was declared unconstitutional in federal court – although the ruling has been controversially overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and is currently in legal limbo. The ACLU and a coalition of community groups are calling for a federal investigation into abuses of power in the NYPD’s controversial Muslim surveillance programs, which have extended their reach into NYU’s Muslim communities. He’s taking heat from all sides.

To clear the air – and maybe make a final public case for the worthiness of his tenure, given that he’s on the way out – he gave an interview to Playboy last week (link probably not safe for work, it is Playboy after all) that’s made headlines because he agreed to the reporter’s prompt that his critics are “full of shit.” And that’s not even the most ridiculous thing he said. Let’s break it down. We can do this together. Read more…

Local Went There: MIXNYC Film Festival, Gowanus

MIX NYC, New York’s queer experimental film festival, ran last week in a 12,000 square foot factory space in Gowanus, Brooklyn; the event was huge, with seventeen video and art installations running around the clock in addition to four or five daily curated screenings explored facets of contemporary queer cinema. It was nuts, in the best possible way. It would take way too long – and be way too much – to describe everything that went on at MIX, so we’ll summarize and review one of the screenings to give you just a taste. The festival, currently in its 26th year, runs annually. Be on the lookout for it when it returns next November.

At 3pm yesterday, MIX’s Festival Programming Committee curated an hour-long screening of short films titled “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” which focused on the inspiration of film and pop culture on queer artists and identities. Its centerpiece was a three-part series of films by the late Roger Jacoby, in addition to the living Jerry Tartaglia and Jim Hubbard. Each film was a ten-odd minute long response to/reflection on the famed Bette Davis campy film classic All About Eve, and each was named for one of the plays in which All About Eve‘s characters appear. Read more…

Of Beach Vacations And The City Council Speakership

Literally every major New York politician went to Puerto Rico last week to pick the new city council speaker.

I’m not making this up, you know.

If you click the link, you’ll read about the the annual Somos El Futuro retreat organized by Latino legislators throughout New York. The entire Council will be there and meet to discuss this. The borough Democratic bosses will also be there and meet to discuss…something (hint: this).

Some background: the citizens of New York voted. The results are in, and they’re certified. Our city will be led by Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Mayor Bill De Blasio – whose ascent, and the accompanying accusations of Marxism that have been leveled at him, led the good folks at Daily Kos Elections to have a merry bit of fun. Read more…

Omertà Is Real And It’s A Real Problem

As you’ve surely heard by now, Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin walked off the team, citing abuse and harassment from fellow players ringled by fellow lineman Richie Incognito. The abuse allegedly included physical harassment, financial demands, and racist abusive language. One voicemail message transcript, left on Martin’s phone by Incognito, reads:

Hey, wassup, you half n****r piece of s**t. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. I’ll s**t in your f****t mouth. I’m gonna slap your f*****g mouth, I’m gonna slap your real mother across the face (laughter). F**k you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.

What’s interesting about this isn’t that men paid to be violent gladiators are sometimes less than civil. It’s the way in which many elements of the NFL establishment – both players and fans – have turned against Martin, essentially calling him a baby who can’t stand up for himself, a weakling who went running to management instead of dealing with his own problems. Players are only using this roundabout language because in civil society they can’t just call Martin a f****t – fans are cutting right to the chase. Read more…