Archive | March 2015

Holy Smoke! Religious Freedom Bill goes all to Pot

_0NunIndiana’s anti-gay legislation inadvertently opens door to cannabis smokers

You shouldn’t laugh, dears.  No, really, you shouldn’t.  Ohh, but how can you not?

For those of you who have been living in a box and are unaware of it, the state of Indiana in the good ol’ USA recently rushed through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a hateful piece of legislation which makes it legal for businesses to refuse service to gays (and one would imagine other LGBTQI people) on grounds of religious belief.  The backlash from this legislated bigotry has been considerable from both LGBTQI and supportive cis/het people alike.  Former Star Trek star George Takei, himself openly gay, is calling on people to boycott the entire state.

Now it seems however, that Indiana’s homophobic legislators may well have shot themselves in the foot.  Indiana attorney and commentator, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, has pointed out that the wording of the kneejerk legislation would may well also protect those who smoke marijuana as part of their religious beliefs.

Shabazz has pointed out that owning and / or smoking marijuana remains illegal in Indiana, if a pot smoker can prove that they are performing a religious sacrament, then under the wording of the RFRA, their rights must be protected.  “I would argue that under RFRA,” says Shabazz, “as long as you can show that reefer is part of your religious practices, you got a pretty good shot of getting off scot-free.”

RFRA supporters state the Bill, “only spells out a test as to whether a government mandate would unduly burden a person’s faith and the government has to articulate a compelling interest for that rule and how it would be carried out in the least restrictive manner,”  Shabazz maintains this merely compounds problems; “So, with that said, what ‘compelling interest’ would the state of Indiana have to prohibit me from using marijuana as part of my religious practice?

Shabazz went on to point out that alcoholic wine is used in Christian sacraments and that marijuana is a far less dangerous drug than alcohol.

So, is this farcical?  Not one bit of it, dears.  On Thursday, 26 March 2014, the same day the Bill was passed, Bill Levin, founder of the First Church of Cannabis Inc, filed paperwork in Indianapolis to register his church as a non-profit, religious organisation.  Referring (should that be reefering?) to followers as “cannataerians” on the group’s Facebook page, Levin stated that they seek “love, understanding and good health.”  Colorado-based Green Faith Ministries, who use marijuana as part of their sacraments, have also reportedly voiced an interest in setting up a branch in Indiana.

And of course, these two are not alone.  There are plenty other established religions which use marijuana as part of their belief systems.  Rastafarianism regards marijuana as a sacred plant, to be used for the purposes of meditation and achieving heightened spiritual awareness (yes dear, been there, done that).  The Hawaii-based THC Ministry, founded by Roger Christie of the Religion of Jesus Christ, considers cannabis sacramental for both spiritual and healing properties.  They state that the “cultivation and enjoyment of cannabis sacrament is a fundamental human right provided by God and protected by the Constitution.”  The California-based Church of Reality, founded on the principles that some of the best ideas come from smoking pot (truth), similarly maintain that smoking cannabis is a constitutional right in the USA.  Should anyone doubt how serious the Church of Reality are, consider that the US Internal Revenue Service recognised them as a non-profit, tax-exempt church as far back as 2005.

Oh dear.  It seems the bigots of Indiana may have bitten off more than they can chew.  Before long the streets of Indianapolis and other cities may be full of dreamy-eyed people walking about in a beautiful haze – and the conservatives who made that possible won’t be able to do a damned thing about it.

Who knows, maybe that could be a good thing?  If the overbearing homophobic bigots of Indiana inhale enough secondary smoke, it may just lead them to chill out a little, get those pokers out of their arses, and actually try being nice to people.  If that happens, I’ll believe the age of miracles has not passed.

Of course, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has pointed out that as the use and ownership of marijuana remains illegal in the state, a test case may well follow, and states “I want a front row seat at the trial that we all know is going to happen when all this goes down.” 

Oh indeed, dears, so do I, and I’ll be watching out for developments.  As any attempt to apply RFRA to the Christian faith alone would be wholly unconstitutional, then any test case under it can have only one of two outcomes; either those who smoke marijuana as a religious sacrament have their rights protected by law, or this odious piece of homophobic legislation will have to be scrapped altogether.

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Let little Stephie steal your heart away

10887151_349427518572852_6878044040955739326_oSophie Labelle informs about transgender issues – through cartooning

Hello dears, following an earlier post about her, cartoonist Sophie Labelle has very kindly given me permission to copy her artwork here to promote her work.

Sophie draws a cartoon strip I follow on Facebook, “Assigned Male – A webcomic about a transgender girl”  The cartoon follows the life of Stephie, a little trans girl and her struggles with the perceptions of others, some of which is based on the artist’s own life experiences.  Stephie can make you laugh one moment, cry the next; reading the comic you can go from joy to anger, and back to joy, in just a few panels.  Like all good cartoon characters, Stephie finds a way into your heart, and stays there for good.

The work Sophie Labelle is doing is quite fantastic, as she is using the medium of cartooning on social media to deliver positive messages and inform people about transgender people, as well as tackling other political gender issues.

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Ultimately Sophie, through Stephie and her other wonderful characters, informs about gender issues, corrects mistaken perceptions and misconceptions about trans people, challenges bigotry and gender dichotomies, and reinforcing the message that all genders are valid, with bold statements such as “I am the expert of my own gender identity” – now there’s a truth everyone, regardless of gender, can identify with.

Cartoon strips apart, Sophie Labelle has other works available, including A Short Guide for the inclusion of trans, intersex and gender non-conforming youth in the classroom, for which her school has recently given her a scholarship to put into printed form.  My own particular favourites though have to be Surprise Box and Penguins Won’t Judge; colouring books which teach children (and some adults) that everyone is different and there is no shame in being so.

And this is why I champion Sophie Labelle so much dears.  I have no personal contacts to her, I just believe in what she is doing and that the way she is doing it has massive potential to reach a wider audience, and thereby inform and educate about gender issues.

Assigned Male and other works by Sophie Labelle can be found on Facebook, Tumblr and Etsy.  Come along and have a look, and let her steal your heart away too:

https://www.facebook.com/assignedmale/timeline

assignedmale.tumblr.com

assignedmale.etsy.com

Those wishing to sponsor Sophie Labelle can do so on Patreon:

www.patreon.com/sophielabelle

Don’t you dare be camp – and crossdress only if you’re queer

agador_6425National Union of Students passes discriminatory motions

Dears, I don’t know what has become of the dear old National Union of Students (NUS).  When I was a member, more years ago than I like to think about, it was a welcoming, all-inclusive body where you could be yourself, nobody judged you and they fought bigotry and injustice wheresoever they perceived it.  Today it seems it has become the haven of hyperfeminist bigots who don’t have a bloody clue about gay mannerisms or crossdressing, yet who are happy to make racist gestures.

On 25 March 2015 delegates at the NUS Women’s Conference passed a number of motions aimed at the LGBTQI community within UK colleges and universities.   And, as feminazis are wont to do, they got it all wrong.  So very, very wrong.

Motion 503, forwarded by the NUS LGBT Committee called “Dear White Gay Men: Stop Approprirating Black Women”

A bloody sad state of affairs when British students cannot spell “appropriating”, I’m sure you’ll agree, dears.  That apart however, the motion claimed that white gay men are using affectations common with black women, explained thus;

“This may be manifested in the emulation of the mannerisms, language (particularly AAVE- African American Vernacular English) and phrases that can be attributed to black women. White gay men may often assert that they are “strong black women” or have an “inner black woman”, White gay men are the dominant demographic within the LGBT community, and they benefit from both white privilege and male privilege.

I have never, for the life of me, ever heard any gay man claim to have a strong or inner black woman inside him.  If there are such, I’d just laugh in their faces.  That apart, there are no other examples of mannerisms, language and phrases, so this motion is very much open to the interpretation of the NUS Feminazi Thought Police.  There are many men in the LGBTQI community who are camp and effeminate.  I happen to be one myself, as my regular followers are aware of.  Am I now to be decried by some harpie on a university campus should I dare to sashay, as I am wont to do, or use camp language and phrases which they may associate with black women?  Let them just try.  My reply would be to shove a hand in the complainants face at full arms length and tell them, “Talk to the hand, sister, cos the face ain’t listenin’.”

Motion 503 is a terrible move for the NUS and is actually discriminatory on two counts; firstly it generalises about white gay men, and assumes that a great many use such mannerisms.  That is homophobic.  And were that not enough, the reverse side of that particular coin is that it generalies that certain language, mannerisms and phrases are common to black women.  And that, my dears, is both racist and sexist in one fell swoop, as it assumes that the delegates know the minds of black women.

But onto the motion which most here will be interested in, and I do hope my fellow trans, CD and genderqueer friends are sitting down – you may need a stiff drink by your hand as well.  Brace yourselves dears.

“To issue a statement condemning the use of crossdressing as a mode of fancy dress, To encourage unions to ban clubs and societies from holding events which permit or encourage (cisgender) members to use cross-dressing as a mode of fancy dress,”

The reason for this motion?  That trans women (no mention of trans men) may find crossdressing by cishet men offensive.   Hands up here all you lovely trans ladies who are at all offended by cishet men crossdressing.  No?  No, thought not.  The fact is, as many who come here know full and well, that crossdressers and trans people have a mutual respect for each other and we stand up for each other.  Therefore, this motion immediately generalises in that it assumes to know what trans women are thinking, and that dears is transphobic.  Secondly, it attempts to drive a wedge between us CD and trans sisters.  That ain’t happenin’ girls.  Never on my watch.

The NUS has allowed dispensation in this for genderqueer students who want to use cross-dressing in their everyday lives as a mode of expression, or who wish to crossdress by dressing as a fictional character in fancy dress.  Aww, how sweet of them.

BIG problem here, dears.  If they seek to ban clubs and societies with encourage cisgender crossdressing, then they are up against the overwhelming vast majority of crossdressers.  This effectively means that if the Beaumont Society, who give help, guidance and support to crossdressers and their families, tried to give a speech or host a help event at a college or university, the NUS would attempt to ban it, on the grounds that the majority of their members are crossdressers.

So the NUS would in effect ban any such group from giving on-campus help and advice to cisgender crossdressing students.   And of course, because this motion would effectively do that, that could only add to the stress and emotional turmoil such students are already going through.  Moreover, it is not outwith the bounds of possibility that a young student just ‘finding’ themselves, may actually be trans, and the NUS stamping down on them like this could actually force them back into the closet.

And just who do the NUS Women’s Committee think they are to state that a genderqueer person may crossdress but a cishet person may not?  That is pure discrimination which not only does not understand crossdressing, it does not even attempt to understand it.

The entire motion is based upon the bigoted perceptions of women who are not crossdressers, and this shows in part of the wording of this motion; “which permit or encourage (cisgender) members to use cross-dressing as a mode of fancy dress,”  That statement, allied with the ‘dispensation’ that genderqueer students can crossdress as fictional characters says it all.  They think we’re all drag queens, dears.  Yet again, they prove their complete and total ignorance of a subject they have not even attempted to research, or indeed, actually try asking crossdressers.

These motions were passed at the conference, dears, and have been widely criticised ever since.

Oh yes, that bit about racist gestures.  To emphasise that some people find some gestures damaging, instead of clapping, those present showed ‘jazz hands’, after one NUS Women’s delegate Tweeted, “Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping as it’s triggering anxiety. Please be mindful!”  For those of you not in the know, ‘jazz hands’ are where you hold your hands either side of your face with the fingers full open, and grin widely – a mannerism common to minstrel shows, where white men would ‘black up’ as black men, and sing songs synonymous with African-Americans in the US deep south.  An act so racist that it is banned almost everywhere today.  Oh well done.  That’s very progressive, isn’t it?

_0000000AAMinstrelSo, well done NUS Women’s Conference for showing your uninformed and ignorant prejudice by giving your blessing to homophobia, sexism, transphobia, mysandry, and racism.  But at least now I know why you call your decisions ‘motions’ – because like you, they’re full of shit.

Gays Cause Natural Disasters

_0000000WSRadio hosts tell how God has to cause drought – and hurricanes

Okay you Carlifornian gays, see that extreme drought your state is suffering just now?  That’s all your fault.  You – and the aboritionists – have hardened God’s heart to the point he has had to impose a drought upon the western USA to punish you all.

Well at least that’s what Christian radio hosts Rick Wiles and Pastor Kevin Swanson would have you believe.

The south-west of the USA is currently locked in a “mega drought”, which of course is no laughing matter.  So what is the answer to this?  Repentance apparently, or so Rick Wiles stated on TruNews;

“The answer to California’s drought is Jesus Christ.  Rain will follow repentance.  The state is in the forefront of spiritul rebellion against God.  Abortion, homosexuality, pornography, Hollywood’s movies that promote sexual immorality, violence, bloodshed, withcraft, occult practices, the television industry, the crime, the violence in California’s cities; all of it has combined to reach a level of depravity that has reached Heaven, and God has no other choice but to cut off the rain.”

I’m still trying to work out what the US TV industry, which puts out more than the world’s fair share of Christian broadcasting, has done to offend God.  But that apart, should we be worried about Wiles’ warning of his God sending a drought as punishment for the “godless” south-western USA?  Hmm, judge for yourself.  This is also the same guy who claimed that Hitler and the Nazis were all gay, trying to create a master race of gay “super soldiers”, that homosexuality is a neo-Nazi movement and that the same is now happening in the USA, with gay super soldiers being created to wipe out Christians.

Perhaps someone should point out to (p)Rick that while the number has never been fully established, it is estimated that 50,000 or more gays and lesbians perished in the Nazi holocaust.

Wiles also claimed that if the US Supreme Court continues to stop states from banning same sex marriage, that God would punish the USA in a form of an “old-fashioned paddling”.  Everyone being spanked across the arse with a paddle?  Oh please dear, don’t tempt me to move over there.

Were Rick Wiles not enough of a loony homophobe, however, the poor old USA also has the likes of Kevin Swanson to deal with.  In 2012 Swanson, of Generations with Vision Ministry  blamed gays for Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.  He broadcast;

“The two worst storms, material-wise, in the history of America has happened in just the last five years and here’s the interesting thing about this storm, it hit New York City and if you’re trying to think of the most pro-homosexual, liberal cities in America, you would probably say, give me the top three most pro-homosexual, pro-liberal cities in America, it would probably be?,”

Actually, I would consider San Francisco to be the most pro-homosexual and pro-liberal city in the USA, which the hurricanes never touched.   That apart, interesting to note that when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the French Quarter and the Gay Ghetto were left relatively unscathed.  But let’s go right back to 1900, when the most devasting hurricane in US history hit Galveston, Texas, killing at least 8000 people, perhaps as many as 12,000.  That of course was at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in the USA, and the overwhelming majority of those killed would be God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians.  If Swanson’s God is targeting gays, all I can say is he is a rotten shot and he’s never getting on my darts team.

But from the ridiculous to the sublime, dears.  Swanson adds;

“Hurricanes form from rising moisture created by hot steamy man action aboard a gay Caribbean cruise. When that sin gets high enough it makes the angels cry and those tears fall to earth in the form of massive precipitation because homosexuals are a vital part of the water cycle. That’s why the gay symbol is a rainbow.”

I hate when conservative theists attempt to do science and get all the facts wrong.  At least Swanson isn’t even attempting to do science, he’s just waffling homophobic bullshit and showing his complete ignorance of the water cycle – something most kids could explain correctly.

But wait a minute.  Swanson says “homosexuals are a vital part of the water cycle” and cause “masive precipitation”, whereas Wiles maintains that the mega drought currently affecting California is because God “had no choice” but to cut off the rain.  So, of these fine, upstanding men of God, which of them is correct?

As to his comment “That’s why the gay symbol is a rainbow.“, I would suggest that Mr Swanson actually pick up a Bible and read it sometime, which I am aware is a rare event for many conservative “Christians”.  You see dears, the Bible tells us that after the flood, God promised never to destory the world by flood again, and gave Noah and his family the rainbow as a promise to that and his symbol of his covenant of peace with mankind;

And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.  And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:  I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.  And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:  And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.”  (Genesis 9:11-15, KJV)

Know what dears, if I want to hear or read about Christianity, unlike Messrs Wiles and Swanson, I’ll read the Bible, or I’ll speak with my many non-judgemental and non-homophobic Christian friends.  If I want weather advice, I’ll consult a meteorologist.

Or perhaps I’ll just leave the last word to these girls:

No room for hate speech in Scottish Politics

124730756__398642cHomophobe suspended from Scottish National Party

First of all dears, let me make myself clear; I do not like the Conservative Party.  I despise what it stands for, I hated Margaret Thatcher with a vengeance, I loathe Lord Snooty and Chums, aka David Cameron and the UK government, and the way they are openly lining the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poorest of the poor angers me almost to violence.  I can make many comments about Tory politicians.  The one thing I would never do is make online attacks upon the sexuality of any of them.

Sad we cannot say the same for one particularly nasty piece of work, who goes under the names Laird O’Callaghan and SparkyBhoyHH.  Yes dears, I will name him, I’ll even go as far as giving his real name, Marc Hughes, as stated in The Scotsman.  This pond life decided to attack Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson, not on her policies, not on her past track record, but rather by posting vile Tweets about her sexuality.  Ruth Davidson is openly lesbian and is the highest ranking LGBT politician not just in Scotland, but the whole of the UK.

The Tweet stated that Ruth Davidson, “needs a good f**k, not a lesbian battery one, but a real c**k one, miserable c**t that she is.  Tory f***y muncher.”

338173-homophobic-ruth-davidson-tweet

I think we can all see what a real charmer Mr Hughes is.  But then, I think we can all see the level of his intelligence.

Kudos to Ruth.  Her immediate response upon seeing it was to reply “Nice.  Classy.  Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?   Bet she’s really proud of you…. *blocked*”

More importantly however, kudos to the Scots Nat online community, who immediately rallied around Ruth with messages of support and condemning this knuckle-dragger.  If he had online friends before, it was pretty obvious they would have been sorely depleted after his comments.  The support Ruth recieved was so strong that she stated that she had been treated with gallantry from the Scots Nats.  Ain’t that sweet?  For once I actually felt for the evil, reactionary bitch.

Hughes later phoned Ruth to apologise.  She says he was contrite, promised never to post homophobic comments again, and that she accepted his apology and did not intend to make it a police matter.

That however was not the end of the matter. Having identified Hughes as one of their members, the Scottish National Party (SNP) swung into action and suspended his membership.  SNP First Minister of the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon, condemning the attack upon Ruth Davidson, stated in the parliament, “The individual in question in that case has been identified and this morning suspended from membership of the SNP pending full disciplinary processes.”

So, that should be an end to the matter.  Oh, I wish.  Since then I have seen a minority on Facebook thinking that the comments were “funny”, that they have “a right to get my fun where I see it” and that it is a freedom of speech issue.

I would like any who think like that to tell me, is it funny when someone is continually harassed for their sexuality?  Is it amusing when they are refused a job for the same reason?  Do you chortle when someone has the shit kicked out of them?  Are you splitting your sides when LGBT people commit suicide due to harrassment and depression?

In short, would you find it funny if it happened to you, or someone you love?

You don’t have a right to laugh at anyone’s sexuality.  And no, it is not a matter of free speech, it is hate speech, which just happens to be illegal in Scotland.  Frankly, Marc Hughes can think himself lucky that Ruth Davidson showed herself to be the bigger person on this occasion.  To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, “My right to swing my fists ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

Homophobia is not limited by any means to supporters of Scottish nationalism.  During the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum campaign, the official Unionist body, Better Together once put a rainbow flag, only once – and had to remove it less than 24 hours later due to homophobic comments from their own followers.  Sadly, Better Together did not condemn nor remove anyone on that occasion.  Not that I am suggesting for one moment that they were homophobic as an organisation.  One Better Together campaigner in my area was openly gay.

One hopes, however, that the hatemongers are slowly but surely learning that hate speech, be it homophobic or of any other form of bigotry, is not welcome in Scottish politics, or any politics for that matter.  I don’t care which party they support, they could even be UKIP; I can’t stomach UKIP’s David Coburn MEP, who is openly gay, but I would come down like a ton of bricks on anyone making homophobic comments towards or about him.  Anyone attacking anyone else personally based on bigotry deserves to be silenced immediately and ostracised by all decent people who know them.

Mother’s Day banned if Same Sex Marriage allowed

000000_Fimelda001Bizarre claims of one Irish government Senator

Sunday, 15 March 2015 saw the celebration in the UK and the Republic of Ireland of Mother’s Day, or to give it it’s more correct title Mothering Sunday.  Most people in these countries recognise Mother’s Day in some way or another, mostly giving gifts to their mothers.  I spent it in reflection and thinking about my dear old Mum, who passed away in 1998.

In the Republic of Ireland however, independent Senator Fidelma Healy Eames chose to (ab)use the day by putting out a Tweet givng the stark warning “Happy Mothers’ day all! Hope we can continue to celebrate it after #SSM passed. In some US states Mothers & Father’s Day banned #pcgonemad”.

Because of course, dears, that’s what happens when you get same-sex marriage.  The next thing which follows is that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are banned.  Just as happened in England – except it didn’t, Wales – except it didn’t, and my own native Scotland – except it didn’t.  In fact, in all the countries which have same-sex marriage, not one of them have banned Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

I shall be kind to Senator Eames and assume that she is mistaken upon the nature of Mother’s Day in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, in comparison to the USA, where it is not even celebrate in March, but rather in May.

Are you my Mummy?

Mothering Sunday always falls on the fourth Sunday in the Christian period of Lent.  Historically, people who would attend their local or “daughter” church in their parish, would upon this day have to attend their cathedral or “mother” church in the diocese or bishopric.  Sermons of the day would concentrate upon the Virgin Mary and the role of motherhood. It was quite common, particularly after the start of the industrial revolution, for children as young as 10 years old to move away from home to work elsewhere, and this was also common for those “in service” to the landed gentry.  Therefore, Mothering Sunday was given by employers for these people to return to their mother church and it soon became a cause for celebration as entire families were reunited, and children found themselves once more under their mother’s wings.  One of the more beautiful things we can thank Christianity for.  Later, domestic servants were granted this day off to visit their mothers and families, and it is from this that the modern concept of Mother’s Day in the UK and Republic of Ireland was born.

Oh Happy Day

So, what of these US states Senator Eames mentions, which allowed SSM and banned Mother’s Day?

Below is the full list of all the US states where Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are banned:

. . . . . . That is all.

In the USA there are a great many “holidays” which are observed but which have nothing to do with “Holy Days” have been concocted and just plain invented.  Known as Hallmark Holidays (after the greetings card manufacturer), these include Groundhog Day, National Defense Transportation Day, Boss’s Day, and Sweetest Day, which is basically a rip-off to “celebrate” candy manufacturers.  Given that it is early in October, this is particularly cynical, given the huge profits the candy manufacturers make later that month, in the run-up to Halloween.  As my partner states of Sweetest Day, “It’s like Valentine’s Day late in the year.”

But then, my partner, a Scots-American, also states “We (the USA) invent stupid holidays, not ban them.”

So what of the American Mother’s Day?  It has it’s origins in the years following the American Civil War.  No doubt spurred by the age-old cry that every soldier is some mother’s son, and in a very laudable step, in 1868 Ann Reeves Jarvis of Virginia started up Mother’s Day Friendship Clubs, in which mothers would meet with unionist and confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation between the two.  This was followed in 1873 by suffragette and abolitonist Julia Ward Howe calling for a Mother’s Peace Day to be celebrated every 2 June, to promote world peace.

In 1908 Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, organised the first Mother’s Day Celebration, to celebrate mothers and the sacrifices they make for their families, and to be recognised by wearing a white carnation and as a day for children to visit mothers or attend church services.  The idea caught on state by state, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson officially sanctioned the second Sunday in May to be recognised as Mother’s Day.

Then the whole thing became commercialised and by 1920 Anna Jarvis was campaigning to stop florists, card manufacturers and candy manufacturers from what she saw as profiteering from the day.  She spent most of her money on (unsuccessful) lawsuits against some who used the term Mother’s Day for profit, and from the 1940s she was campaigning to have the day stricken from the national holidays calendar.

We therefore see that while in both cases they have become grossly commercialised, Mothering Sunday in the UK / Republic of Ireland and Mother’s Day in the USA have very different origins.

There is a more important point, which Senator Eames needs to take on board, however concerning the two.  Mother’s Day in the USA cannot be banned as a religious holiday, because it never started as one.  Indeed, as the USA is officially a secular country with a wall between church and state, and where freedom of religion is enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution, US Mother’s Day could never have been a religious holiday to begin with.

At least she got the continent right

If Senator Eames, who had the Fine Gael Party whip removed after going against her party line in 2013, is not aware of these things, then as an elected member of the Seanad Éireann, the Irish upper house, she should be.  But then, it seems the Senator does not know a lot.  When accused of lying about the US states, she further tweeted, “Lying is not my thing.  No slur intended either. #justsaying Mother’s Day banned in NY and Nova Scotia school.  Happy Mother’s Day.”

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I’m trying to be kind, dears, I really am. But facepalming alone does not seem to suffice here and I may have to smash my forehead off the keyboard.  Nova Scotia is of course a Province of Canada, not a US state.  And people elected this woman to Senate?  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

As to the claims, PinkNews found one obscure tabloid story about one single New York City Jewish school, Rodeph Sholom Day School, which in 2001 was not recognising Mother’s Day, as it clashed with a Jewish celebration.  The Nova Scotia story also surrounds one solitary school, Astral Drive Elementary school, which in 2013 opted to recognise Family Day instead.  And let us not forget that New York did not even have same-sex marriage in 2001. So, two single schools (which I doubt are even open on the Sunday Mother’s Day takes place), one of them a completely different country to that which Senator Eames claimed, opted to recognise different days, for one year only, and suddenly that is blown up to “some US states”. I honestly know deluded conspiracy theorists who would not attempt that level of sensationalism.

No slur intended, Fidelma sweetie, but if your obviously bigoted opposition to same-sex marriage relies upon spurious claims about days not only completely unrelated to the subject but even to each other, which you obviously never even bothered to research, while my own research took all of ten minutes, and your geography and knowledge of world politics is so poor that you cannot differentiate between a US state and a Canadian province, then one has to wonder if you are fit to hold political office at all.  Just saying.

Pornography: As old as Mankind

_000000Coitus40000yrA study into how pornography is as old as human sexuality itself, and why it is just as harmless.

One of the most contentious issues surrounding the internet today is that of pornography. Depictions of nudity and sexual acts, be they in photographs or video, have both their detractors and their supporters. There are few, if any, who sit on the fence on the issue of what is classed as pornography.

And I do say “classed as”, as there is and has always been, a thin line to what is considered pornography, and what is art. Indeed, one could go further and state that there is third, in-between, category of erotica. The distinction is not and never has been clear and the lines often blur between the three. There is one thing for sure, depictions of nudity and sexual acts with us ever  since we became sapient creatures. And I would argue that, contrary to claims from it’s detractors, it is harmless.

Around 37,000 years ago one of our early ancestors in what is now Spain dug a carving (above right) into the wall of a cave which depicted coitus between a man and a woman, with the man depicted having a huge phallus (thereby proving that men lying about dick size is nothing new). Since then sex and sexuality have commonly been depicted in carvings, drawings, paintings, and sculpture. And today we refer to this as “art”. Many of this folk art of course was done for religious reasons, but that does not deflect one iota from the explicit nature of some of the pieces. The fact remains that for centuries paintings and sculptures of nude and sexual scenes were the pornography of their time, for the simple reason there were no cameras. There is nobody is ever going to convince me that some bishop alone in his office below a portrait of Diana or Aphrodite never had a quick knuckle-shuffle when nobody was looking.

Even when photography did arrive, nude photography followed – immediately. In 1839 Louis Daguerre perfected his first practical camera, and having experimented with some landscape shots, the next thing he did was to drag a prostitute off the street whom he paid to pose for him. And so it was the first nude pictures were taken on the very first day of the advent of the media of photography, and they have been with us ever since. Once photography got going, it wasn’t too long before nude and sexual pics were changing hands for vast sums of money, “What the Butler Saw” machines appeared, and men were buying black market postcards of women showing, gasp, their legs, or even in, shock horror, swimsuits or their underwear. Brazen hussies!

“Pin up” shots started with the drawings of Alberto Vargas and others of “idealised” women in erotic poses, and eventually were supplemented by photographs of scantily-clad women. Some women, actress Betty Grable among them, happily posed for these photographs, believing they were doing their bit for lonely American servicemen away at war. I personally find that a very kind, touching and beautiful gesture.

The dam finally broke in December 1953, when Hugh Hefner published the first issue of Playboy, which had a centrefold of Marilyn Monroe in the nude. While her genitals were covered, her breasts were on full display, and having seen the photograph, I can personally attest that Marilyn had a truly beautiful body. Once Playboy took off (Hefner never thought it would get further than issue 1), it wasn’t too long before other titles appeared, and within time the market was flooded with a plethora of titles which the puritanical backlash (no dears, that’s not a BDSM reference – I should be so lucky) of the 1950s seems to have been powerless to stop the prevalence of such “girlie” magazines. The “permissive society” of the 1960s and thereafter saw magazines become much more explicit and magazines started appearing for specific tastes, including those with nude men aimed at the female and gay markets.

Even the feminist heyday of the 1970s and 1980s, when some wanted porn mags either covered up in shops or removed altogether, was powerless to stop the number of titles increasing, and increasingly explicit content within them. The only thing which did eventually see falls in sales was not through puritanical ideas or feminist philosophy, but simply because porn became freely available with the advent of the World Wide Web and digital technology in photography and video. Which brings us up to the present day when anyone, whatever their sexuality or sexual tastes, can view nude images and / or sexual acts, from tasteful nude shots right through to extremely explicit pics and videos, at a few keystrokes.

It is apparently internet pornography which is a problem for some. I have seen it referred to as “sad” and “evil”, that it objectifies women, that it is exploitative of women, that it damages society as a whole, and that viewing (and obviously masturbating to) internet porn can cause sexual problems in some individuals.

Whether nudity or depictions of sexual acts are “sad” or “evil” are opinions, not facts. That’s fine; those who believe that are entitled to their opinions, so long as they do not try to enforce those opinions upon those who do not happen to share them. If those stating that pornography is “evil” say so from a religious point of view, then that is even worse, as they are trying to force their faith upon others, and that is something I shall always rail against. Besides which, anyone with any modicum of sense knows that it is the religious suppression of natural sexual urges which causes problems.

If pornography objectifies women then where men are involved, it logically follows that it must objectify them as well. Objectification means that the viewer ceases to see the participants as people and treats them as objects. So no-one can claim that if objectification exists then it pertains only to one gender and not the other. Indeed, I have seen many a video in which all you see of the men are their penises, rarely and sometimes never their faces. Could that not be considered the epitome of objectification?

Similarly if pornography is exploitative of women, it logically follows that it must be equally exploitative of men. And if it is exploitative, then there is scant evidence to support that. Models and actors in pornography make a pretty penny for what they do, and strangely enough, it’s not them I hear complaining when they receive payment for their services.

Yet this goes further still. In 1971 one of the oldest and most popular soft porn magazines in the UK, Fiesta, launched a new phenomenon into the market which has since been copied and emulated by a host of other titles; Readers Wives, which all started when a women – not her male partner – sent in some nude polaroid pics of herself, which the magazine duly published in one issue, and suddenly found themselves inundated with similar pics from women all over the UK and further afield. Fiesta Readers Wives remains the oldest (and I would say best) section of it’s type, they even publish Readers Wives Specials, and Channel 4 Television once aired a documentary following some of the women who contribute photographs to them. Some women said that apart from the money they receive, they enjoyed the thrill and ‘naughtiness’ of exposing themselves. Some said that it made them feel glamorous. One woman admitted that it made her hot to think of hundreds of men masturbating over pics of her naked body.

The vast majority of women who send nude pictures to Readers Wives are no spring chickens, and they are not what would be considered “model material” either. And in my opinion, with their natural curves, even the more mature ones, and presented in unretouched photographs, they are all the more beautiful for it. There was actually one woman in the documentary who actually was in her mid-20s, had a fantastic body, beautiful facial features – and just so happened to be paralysed from the waist down. Notice that all of these women have one thing in common – there is not one of them feels in any way exploited by having their nude photographs published in a magazine. They feel confident about their bodies; confident enough to show them off to the world. They enjoy doing it, there are those who enjoy seeing them, and as nobody is hurt by it, just exactly what harm is that doing? And exactly the same goes for the nude men who send their pics into Fiesta’s “One for the Ladies” column.

Of course, I am not for one moment suggesting that there is not exploitation in pornography. Only a fool would say that it does not exist. People trafficked and forced into pornography is of course a constant worry, and one I would no sooner sanction than I would child porn or zoophilia. When I tried to research this online however, I found it extremely difficult to find well-informed and scholarly articles, or one which did not have their own agenda, be it religious or hyper-feminist, upon the subject. Of those I did find, what they actually state is that the majority of those forced into porn are either children or underage teenagers. So I am not about to go watching that in any case. It seems to me that where adults at least are concerned, the incidence of human trafficking and pornography has been grossly overstated. Certainly, unproven and generalised blanket statements such as one I found in Huffington Post, “You support trafficking when you watch porn” are deeply unhelpful, and precisely the sort of sensationalist guff I am more likely to ignore than take any notice of. Huff Po (which has really gone downhill in recent years) also claims – without offering a shred of evidence – that even where it claims those involved are over 18 and have consented, that they may be younger and made up to look older. Well, no worries with me there, as I prefer to view those in their mid-20s at the youngest, but prefer more mature men and women.

If pornography damages society as a whole, I want to see the empirical evidence to support that claim. For as I have pointed out above, pornography has been with us always, and far from damaging society it seems to me that it is the suppression of perfectly natural sexual desires which is far more likely to cause that. And should not we in the LGBTQI community be more wary of that than anyone? It is not too long ago that it was similarly claimed that homosexuality damaged society. And some religious detractors or pornography also tend to be homophobic and transphobic. In the 1960s, some religious moralists were stating “sex on the streets by 1970”. In actuality sexual liberation has enhanced society and strangely enough, we don’t have sex on the streets, 45 years after the predicted date.

Some come out with the shock statement that some children are viewing porn as young as 11 years old. Ermm, yes, around the same age I discovered my father’s stash of girlie mags. That was down to not hiding them well enough on his part, just as modern-day kids accessing porn is down to similar lack of parental controls, which in this day of explicit porn being freely available should be paramount to every parent. But know what, there’s always going to be that one kid who is determined to view porn, or that one parent whom frankly any sane person would not entrust with the responsibility of a whelk. That does not mean that every child of 11 is viewing pornography. Neither does it mean that the producers (or viewers) of porn are at fault.

Let me use an analogy here. According to the Child Accident Protection Trust, 25,000 under 5 every year are admitted to hospital with suspected or actual poisoning, the vast majority from products found in most households. Now, if wee Johnny finds a bottle of detergent on a lower shelf and manages to open it (“childproof” caps are never truly childproof – I used to ask my nephew to open my tablets) and drink it, who is to blame? Wee Johnny, who does not know any better? The parent? The manufacturer? Other users of that detergent? Should responsible users then be denied that detergent all because wee Johnny’s mum and dad were either forgetful, or are a pair of irresponsible jackasses who are ill-qualified to be parents?

Some claim that pornography leads to sexual assaults. Others state figures which suggest that the incidence of sexual assaults has dropped in line with increased access to pornography. As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I personally think either is a false dichotomy, or at least an unknown quantity. I have yet to be convinced that sexual abuse is actually driven by sexual urges. As a way of attempting to come to terms with the things which were done to me when I was a little boy, and to help me transition from victim to survivor, I researched sexual abuse deeply, and my understanding of it is as well-informed as it is painful, believe you me. I firmly believe that sexual abuse, like all abuse, is primarily about control by inadequate people seeking power over those weaker than them. The abuser – whether they use verbal, psychological, physical or sexual abuse – is a bully, and in the true nature of the bully, a coward at heart. I would suggest that if this is the case, then pornography is unlikely to have any affect either way upon the incidence of sexual abuse.

There is one thing for sure; pornography is already heavily regulated, and while I tend not to trust governments, I am fully aware that they take advice from highly qualified people over the matter; people who are much better qualified that religious busy-bodies and paranoid hyper-feminists who see a male plot at every turn. It is based on this advice that governments gauge any potential harm pornography may pose. Therefore if pornography did present any serious risk to society in general, then far from the explicit content found on the internet and in magazines today, there would be stringent moves to control, suppress and censor it. That we do not have oppressive control and censorship tells it’s own story on whether pornography endangers society or not.

Pornography may cause sexual problems with some viewers – and the little birdies go tweet. Yes, and “social” drinking may lead to alcoholism and health problems for some drinkers, having a flutter on the horses may lead to gambling addiction for some punters, Munro bagging may lead to a broken leg, and eating pies may lead to some people having heart attacks. Adverse and negative things can and do happen to a small number of people in a great many activities, but that is never the case for the overwhelming majority who take part. As with so many things, it is all about moderation. Those treating internet porn addiction have found that those suffering it are sitting in front of it almost constantly, and that obviously does become a problem. As Catherine Salmon, associate professor of psychology at Redlands University, states “Porn in moderation is the same as everything else – no harm, no foul. If you spend your whole day whacking off, your sex drive the next day will be down.”

Yet groups talking a load of heavily-loaded, opinionated, pseudo-scientific claptrap, with Reboot Nation being the biggest culprit, would have you believe that if you view porn, then you are automatically going to become addicted to internet porn, suffer mental problems and / or erectile dysfunction and / or lack of desire. Strangely enough such groups rarely, if ever, mention any adverse effects pornography may have upon girls and women. Can we take it then that females viewing porn suffer no ill effects? Or could it be much more likely that Reboot Nation et al are talking bullshit, and misandric bullshit at that? Frankly I find those who talk about the dangers of pornography being as believable – and laughable – as Samuel-Auguste Tissot, whose 1760 work L’Onanisme claimed that masturbation could lead to “a perceptible reduction of strength, of memory and even of reason; blurred vision, all the nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism, weakening of the organs of generation, blood in the urine, disturbance of the appetite, headaches and a great number of other disorders.” Today we know this is nonsense and that masturbation, for both males and females, is both natural and healthy. It seems to me that Reboot Nation, like Tissot before them, just want to stop men wanking to suit their own agenda, and are as equally guilty of unscientific fairy tales.

With equal strangeness one never finds the detractors of pornography mentioning the positive effects it can have. Yes, they do indeed exist, which is why some therapists will use pornography as an aid to sexual dysfunction. Far from reducing desire, pornography can actually increase it, just as it has done for millennia – well there’s a surprise. In 2007 a study of 600 Danish men and women aged 18-30, conducted by Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth found that viewing hardcore pornography had a positive effect upon their lives. In 2009 a study by Michael Twohig at the University of Utah found that the mental state of students viewing porn only suffered when they tried to control their viewing habits. Some others argue that the sort of porn someone views may tell their partner a great deal about them, and can lead to greater understanding, as well as more fulfilling sex lives.

I would also mention other personal positives I have taken from pornography in my life. Far from me viewing people, particularly women, as objects, it has led me to have greater respect for them. I learned much, much more about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV, from articles in porn magazines than I ever did from official channels. Fiesta has to be congratulated for continually emphasising the importance of condoms and safe sex, and being one of the pioneering magazines to teach that AIDS was not solely a danger for gay men and drug users. And most of all, it helped me come to terms with my own sexuality, because strangely enough, the producers of, and most readers of porn mags, tend to be a lot less judgemental than others.  Crossdressers and bisexuals writing in to those magazines helped me realise I was not alone, and that I had nothing to be ashamed of.

In conclusion, I would therefore suggest that pornography has been with us always, that it will always be with us, that it does not objectify, exploit, harm society (and never has done), or most individuals, and if anything can actually have positive effects. The bottom line (no pun intended) is that pornography is about personal choice, about who we are as people and no-one has the right to judge or castigate another concerning that.

I make no bones about the fact that I view pornography and no, I am not ashamed of that. Far from it I will proudly proudly state that I like to look at vanilla pics of beautiful male and female bodies, as well as viewing photographs and videos of straight, gay, lesbian, and bi sex, be they solo, couples, or groups, involved in all sorts of sexual acts. Human beings are born sexual creatures and we deny that and our urges to our own detriment. I myself admit to being highly sexed, but hey, that’s just who I am. I don’t have a problem with being highly sexed, and nor should I. Just as I do not have a problem with viewing pornography, and neither does my partner, who views it herself. Just recently we both enjoyed a vanilla pic of four very tasty nude guys washing a car.

Pornography is not for everyone, and if anyone has a personal dislike of it, then that’s fine; that’s your life and I’m cool with that. I’d never try to force porn on you or change your mind about it. If any of you have a problem with me viewing pornography however, that is your problem, and I suggest that you go and sort that out yourself. But if you are thinking for one moment of attempting to try and enforce your views and opinions on my lifestyle, don’t even go there, because I’m not interested in hearing them. Talk to the hand, sister, cos the face ain’t listening.