EVAN: Dear readers, the three of us have gathered once again to discuss what is arguably one of the most important contemporary cultural events in recent years: Pride Week.
Things are going to be very different for us given where we live [it is a huge deal here in Toronto], and I suppose I’d like to start this off by asking what our respective cities are like right now-
GORDON: Well, here in Vegas over the past weekend we had half-naked people in neon paint dancing around the streets, but that was just the Electric Daisy Carnival. Seeing as we’re looking at heat in the triple digits, I don’t imagine we’re going to be having a stellar Pride Parade, but that’s just my guess…
EVAN: But you do have an actual Pride Parade over there?
GORDON: I have no idea, I’m afraid. I’ll look it up now. [awkward pause] Okay, we do- but it’s in September.
KAT: Well, I am currently in Williams Lake and when I looked up “Williams Lake” and “Pride” together, all I was able to find was site after site discussing Williams Lake’s Pride in their upcoming Stampede. So I’m going to go ahead and say there will be pretty well no public displays here for Pride Week. There is, however, a Pride Society in Victoria so I’m expecting to see some pictures hitting my Facebook page soon of the Pride Parade there. Continue reading →
These posts are meant to be condemnations of terrible events, trends, or people- not platforms for us to roust the things we simply don’t care for. I’ll actively avoid researching certain people or subjects which just generally annoy me- I don’t want to hastily pull together some indignant exposé to justify my dislike of something. And for the longest time, the works and career of American pastor John Piper have been one of those things.
I’m gonna be upfront with this review, the basic plot of this episode is a complete mess. There are too many threads that are technically connected to the main storyline but ultimately feel disjointed or are completely lost. All that being said, I’m going to sum up what happens in the next paragraph and then focus on two particular issues that were dealt with Monday night on CBS, from 8:30 to 9:00.
Essentially Caroline doesn’t want to have anything to do with Chef Nicolas, but he tells her that he and his wife have an open relationship. She and Max get their hair done, and then a Skype call with the wife confirms that she’s good to bang the Frenchman if she’d like. Caroline decides to go to dinner to turn him down, doesn’t, sleeps over, doesn’t sleep with him. The end. Continue reading →
2014 will see the XXII Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia. Or at least, such is the current proposal of the Russian state and the Olympic committee. Personally, I’d like to keep that from happening.
While massive corruption has been an issue for a long time, and while Russia is no more free from the ugly face of white supremacism than any of its fellow European nations, a few recent events stand out as especially damning. Continue reading →
Public outcry ensued as a result of OSC’s viciously homophobic views- including a statement advocating the overthrow of the American government should gay marriage ever be legalized.
EVAN: I am going to be honest and admit that I am counting down the second until this is over, when I get to finally play my copy of StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
That being said, this relates back to our talk because OSC’s views are deeply founded in his religion, Mormonism.
GORDON: Now back in that post, Evan asserted that OSC’s views were “reprehensible, regardless of where you stand.” Could you expound on that a bit for us?
EVAN: Well, the general consensus of the internet [from what I could tell] is that OSC is free to believe whatever he wants. If a man believed his cat created the universe he would, by anyone’s standards, certainly be wrong, but would not necessarily be chided for it.
People drew the line at Card’s support of organizations that were actively boycotting the legalization of gay marriage in America, as well as, like you said, advocating the overthrow of the government.
Homosexuality as a sin is something I think on almost every day, due to my belief that the Bible is without errancy and my observation that there is, from what I can see, absolutely nothing negative about a healthy homosexual relationship with another person. That being said, I am not about to cry that we burn down Parliament [or the White House, whatever] simply because the government allows two men to wed.
GORDON: So ultimately, your issue with OSC is that he shouldn’t let his personal views lead to him commit drastic acts?
EVAN: My personal issue, I suppose, is that he takes a stance that I’m already extremely uncomfortable with having and pushes it to its most extreme. That’s my honest answer.
On the surface, and certainly where I was last week or whenever it was, yes. Essentially that was where I was coming from, that his cry to overthrown the powers that be was an overreaction.
GORDON: And that’s certainly something that’s fair.
I often hear the argument that “You can’t force your religious views on others,” usually using a homophobic, sexist, or totalitarian agenda as an example. My issue with that has always been that you never hear the same people making that argument when something positive is on the table.
I’d probably reference John Brown, MLK Jr., Bonhoeffer, or Malcolm X as examples.
EVAN: I definitely agree with what you’re saying. Just regarding basic good behavior you never really hear people saying, “How dare you tell people to tell the truth and not murder and steal! Stop pushing your antiquated morals on the rest of us!”
GORDON: Exactly. That brings me to the core of the issue I wanted to hash out a bit: is militancy really a bad thing? Earlier today, I came across this image:
And I was kinda bugged by it. The implication seemed to be that Jimmy’s only two courses of action are silence or rage. I mean- if a friend posted something on Facebook I thought was incorrect, I don’t think I’d just ignore it.
EVAN: I rarely do when it comes to misspellings, grammatical issues, and anything regarding comic books.
GORDON: Exactly. If something is important to you, you should speak up about it, right? Heck, you shouldn’t you take direct action on it?
EVAN: I’m going to bring up an experience of mine that essentially no one knows about:
When I was much, much, much younger I thought it would be a good idea to evangelize to a classmate [this was in 8th Grade, I think]. It didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped, because they were quite satisfied with their own religious beliefs, and reasonably so.
The thing is, I was coming from a place where I thought I was doing the right thing. After all, if Christians really do believe that Jesus is “the way the truth and the life” and that no one gets to heaven except through him, isn’t there some sort of responsibility to tell others? And if there isn’t an onus, wouldn’t you want the people you care about to get in?
So yes, it was important to me, and no, I don’t think I went about it the right way. But I did take action, for better or for worse.
GORDON: Let me throw you an extreme scenario:
The government has decided to start indiscriminately throwing minorities into internment camps, dragging ’em out of their homes in the middle of the night because, I don’t know, if you don’t, the terrorists win. Do you take militant action?
EVAN: Would I directly oppose the government, you mean?
EVAN: Do I count as a minority?
GORDON: For the purposes of this example, yes.
EVAN: If I was not a minority I would probably act in the same capacity as those who hid Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.
As a minority, I’m honestly not sure. I’m not particularly disposed to act violently, so I suppose I have to ask what you would deem as being “militant action.”
GORDON: But one way or another, your actions would be rooted in your understanding of your religious/moral code, right?
GORDON: So it’s not so much an issue of extremism, even in regards to religion- it’s just a question of the issue itself
In this case, OSC is a jerk not because he advocates the overthrow of the government, but because he makes that threat over something so benign as Adam and Steve getting a sheet of paper.
EVAN: I suppose it is contextual, yes. Though I’m sure there are people out there [myself not included] who would equate gay marriage with throwing babies into the Nile.
GORDON: This is indeed true. with that in mind, How do we address the question of the separation of church and state?
EVAN: That’s a really great question. I guess we have to ask how well of a job we’re doing with that at the moment.
GORDON: Not knowing the ins and outs of Canadian politics, I’m afraid I won’t be able to make so much of a universal statement. Speaking for myself, I prefer a pretty staunch elimination of the cosmetics of religion in my government.
Get “In God We Trust” off my money, take “Under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Though in total honesty, that’s more from a distrust of government in my religion than vice versa.
EVAN: The whole issue that “money is the root of all evil,” so why do we have religious institutions that have a net worth that goes into the billions? Yeah, I can be pretty into that sentiment.
GORDON: A very interesting topic, considering the elections currently going on in the Vatican.
EVAN: Well, the question we were presented today is what role does religion have to play in our increasingly secular world. In terms of Christianity, my hope is that its role is a positive one.
That Christians [myself included] can be seen as loving and not hateful [see: The Westboro Baptist Church], as giving and not selfish [see: most people in general], as willing to consciously process what we believe to be the truth instead of sticking to them blindly because they’re what we were told.
Christianity has changed a lot over the centuries without straying from what it is at its core. We can keep changing, we should keep thinking.
GORDON: So at the end of the day, religion becomes a social movement, rather than a distinct community or culture?
EVAN: I think that as a culture Christianity is, ideally, a social movement.
GORDON: So how do you reconcile other religions with this?
EVAN: Honestly it depends on the religion. I think Buddhism, when done right, more or less works along the same lines.
Are we counting Scientology as a religion and not a cult?
GORDON: Oooh. Them’s fighting words. Let’s call it a religion, for now.
EVAN: I suppose I would like every religion, Scientology included, to stick to my format of what I would like Christianity to be. If you hash out logically that alien soul debris is the cause of every human’s problems, more power to you; I have done the same thing in believing that a man who was also God died on a cross and was resurrected.
What’s really important is that we act on the positive aspects of our religious beliefs [taking care of the poor, not being dicks to one another] and really thinking upon our beliefs. Like I said, homosexuality as a sin does not at this point in my life make a lick of sense to me, and I continue to struggle with reconciling that with the rest of my faith. Make sure what you believe makes sense to you.
So as a TL;DR, do good things and think.
GORDON: Fair enough- but what about when it doesn’t work? There are plenty of vile groups out there whose diseased, twisted “logic” has led them to some pretty nasty conclusions. They’re obligated to act on those beliefs, right? How do you deal with conflicting agendas?
EVAN: How are they acting on these beliefs?
GORDON: Let’s say they’re banning the Hijab for Muslim Women; passing legislation on it.
EVAN: I’d say that infringes on basic human rights, and that people should stick to the words of public awareness campaign “If You See Something, Say Something.” People should protest.
GORDON:Certainly something we don’t get enough of. And with that, dearly beloved, we are out of time.
EVAN: It’s creeping me out that you’re calling our readers that. Or me. That’s even more troubling.
GORDON: Imagine if I actually did have a cult following. How awesome would that be?
EVAN: Extremely troubling.
GORDON: I for one believe our readers have learned their lesson- I’d like to leave them the option of offering an “other” topic in the comment section.
EVAN: Guys and girls, this week we talked as much as we could upon the topic for the week, and were only able to get so far. So in addition to us possibly discussing what you want us to, next week you can possible look forward to us discussing:
GORDON: Violence in media: How much is not enough?
GORDON: Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, welcome you here to Evan’s Dignity Memorial Art Gallery to view these lovely pictures of houses and flowers and stuff. The artist? Adolf Hitler.
Why, you ask, do we have Hitler’s youthful paintings and sketches? Because tonight we’re going to be talking about separating art from the artist, and whether or not such a thing can be done.
EVAN: To throw out an example, let me refer to the science fiction author Orson Scott Card, a man famous for writing Ender’s Game and for being pretty staunchly opposed to homosexuality in any form.
GORDON: We’re not talking about some latent disapproval of homosexuality people, we’re talking about full blown vitriol on OSC’s part. Here’s a quote from him on the subject:
The dark secret of homosexual society—the one that dares not speak its name—is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally…
Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage
EVAN: Which is straight-up reprehensible, which I hope you’ll agree with regardless of your personal stance towards the very loaded topic of gay marriage, etc.
EVAN: On a similar note, we have Frank Miller, a legend in the comics industry.
The guy penned Batman: The Dark Knight, 300, Sin City, and had a marvelous run on Daredevil that really defined the character. The man’s a legend.
The Occupy Movement doesn’t have the same hot button status gay marriage does, and it’s arguable that people are less certain about it, but that doesn’t make the things Miller said any less ignorant or wrong.
GORDON: Again, this is true. But we’re not here to list off the artists and creative minds who have maintained ignorant or bigoted positions over the years.We’re here to talk about separating them from their art, and I’m going to submit that one some fundamental level, it can’t be done.
EVAN:Alright, let’s hear why.
GORDON: I’m going to cite Miller’s iconic work The Dark Knight Returns, which has just recently been adapted as an animated film.
It’s not hard to see Miller’s borderline fascist views bleeding through in the book, as he takes pot shots at “reform not punishment” imprisonment, youth (portrayed as violent, stupid, barely comprehensible thugs that even Alex DeLarge would be creeped out by), and even the latest Robin’s parents being portrayed was whiny, drug-addled liberals.
While I doubt Miller was using much restraint, I’m going to submit that the artist is almost always too close to his or her art for her views not to bleed through.
EVAN: So members of Oprah’s book club who read The Education of Little Tree, by former member of the KKK Forrest Carter, should have been able to pick up on his racial sentiments?
GORDON: I said “almost.” Obviously there are exceptions to the rule.
And this isn’t to say that the work itself is to be shunned; I really and truly enjoy Miller’s work, even though he has a goose-stepping, paranoid Islamophobe.
Because of this, in particular.
EVAN: So we shouldn’t let the beliefs of creators affect our enjoyment of their work?
GORDON: I’d hope not. That would preclude me from liking anything done by Dali, any music written by Wagner, and so on and so forth. My issue isn’t with enjoying something a despicable person has made, my issue is with hiring someone you know is despicable.
Would I listen to “Flight of the Valkyries”? Yes. if Wagner was alive today, would I hire that anti-Semite? No way.
EVAN: That’s a really good point. For example, anyone who buys the new “Adventures of Superman” comic will actually be indirectly funding various anti-homosexual movements that Card himself supports. In this case paying money for his product actually results in an action you probably aren’t okay with.
That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t read his comic and think, “Huh, that is a great take on the Last Son of Krypton,” which is entirely likely since he really is a great writer. His art isn’t necessarily affected by his beliefs, but your buying his art supports them, in a roundabout way.
It’s a metaphor for rejection
GORDON: Despite the counter-arguments in DC’s favor, the simple truth of the matter is people aren’t going to be boycotting these books simply because they’re angry at Card- they were angry at him before- they’re also angry at DC for not having the basic decency to not go into business with a raging homophobe.
EVAN: No matter how good a writer, or any other kind of artist, is, there will always be another who approaches them in talent who doesn’t espouse the negative views that they do. The fact of the matter is that DC has other options.
But going back to the topic at large, we confirmed earlier, in a way, that knowing about an artist’s beliefs after you’ve already appreciated and enjoyed their work shouldn’t rob you of that. If I see a painting and think it’s quite lovely, then find out Hitler painted it, that doesn’t suddenly cause it to become hideous in my eyes. At least, it shouldn’t.
GORDON: And because of the pressure we the audience can put on companies to ensure that bigots and nutcases aren’t given a platform, we should try to keep the artist and their work tied together.
EVAN: Voting with our wallets, which should really be done in every area of our lives [buying ethically produced products, high quality entertainment, etc.].
GORDON: Kinda thrown off by the fact that some wallets are thicker than others. But such is Capitalism. Overthrow the bourgeois. Down with the system.
EVAN: But that is a topic for another day. One that I may or not be hopping on, simply due to a lack of knowledge on the matter.
And it’s also about time we wrapped things up.
GORDON: I submit that next week we discuss poverty, as more and more of the nation (and world) slips into it.