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Athena, Gay Men & Marriage

In my previous post, I noted how, in Greek mythology, the goddess Athena helps guide that culture’s heroes, serving as a model of the feminine influence young men need in order to “fulfill their role as responsible adults.” In The Iliad, she restrains Achilles who, in his anger, wishes to kill his fellow Greek Agamemnon, telling her strapping favorite that she comes to “check” his rage, promising him that if he holds back, “one day glittering gifts will lie before you,/three times over to pay for all his outrage.”

With this action, the gray-eyed goddess demonstrates two of the qualities she seeks to instill in her male favorites: restraint and strategic thinking. For it often seems that without such feminine influence, we men might be more inclined to focus on the present without considering the long-term consequences of our actions. Had Achilles fulfilled his desire to kill Agamemnon, a civil war would likely have broken out among the Greeks, preventing them from accomplishing their (and Athena’s) ultimate goal — defeating Troy. His restraint in the crisis at hand will lead to his glory later in the conflict.

In his rage, Achilles lost sight of the real goal. And it’s not merely in our martial endeavors where we men have difficulty restraining ourselves. It’s also in our sexual pursuits. Too often, we want to gratify our immediate urge for carnal pleasure without considering the long-term consequences of our actions.

For all too long, I was swayed by the arguments of my fellow gay men (including nearly all my gay male friends) that it was okay to “hook up” for casual sex. But, then I began to wonder if my occasional hookups compromised my chances to find what I was ultimately seeking — a long-term monogamous relationship with one man. I resolved that it would serve me better to ignore their advice. And that has not always been easy. For the appeal of the carnal is strong, particularly among us men.

Only in thinking about what I really wanted — and calling to mind the subject of my dissertation — was I able to hold myself back. Once again, this is not an issue of judgment, but of my own personal choice. If others have different goals, it is not for me to decide how they should meet them.

It’s how I came to realize of the importance of Athena — and the principles she represents — to the conversation on gay marriage. For traditional marriage is based upon uniting individuals of different genders, with the woman usually serving as the force of restraint, preventing the man from straying. The issue for gay man becomes how to incorporate the qualities that women bring to marriage to unions which lack a female presence.

With their high regard for that often armor-clad Olympian, the Greeks recognized that a female force was often necessary to help civilize men. Perhaps, we gay men who do not seek to connect with a woman in our romantic (and sexual) lives can, by understanding how Athena served Greek men, find a means to bring those qualities into our lives that women have traditionally brought to marriage.

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Duke Lacrosse Fallout: Nifong Out, 89 More To Go…

Disgraced Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong (D) will resign regardless of the decision of the North Carolina State Bar Association as to his future.

“It has become increasingly apparent during the course of this week, in some ways that it may not have been before, that my presence as the district attorney in Durham is not furthering the cause of justice,” Nifong said. “It is not fair that the people of my community to be representing by someone who is not held in high esteem by either the members of the community or members of the profession.

“It does not contribute to the cause of justice in Durham for me to serve as the sitting district attorney for every time I walk into the courtroom [there are] people pointing a finger at me and saying there’s the guy in the Duke Lacrosse case.”

Duke University President Richard Brodhead had the following reaction to Nifong’s announcement today:

“Mr. Nifong brought great harm to these Duke students and their families, to the Durham community, and to Duke University and all who care about it. Even though his decision to resign comes under threat of sanctions by the North Carolina State Bar, I welcome it. It sets the stage for a healing process to which we all are committed.”

However, on April 6, 2006, Brodhead seemed to forget about “innocent until proven guilty” when it came to the Duke students maliciously accused of rape.

Brodhead should be the next to resign. 

But closely far behind should be all 88 members of the Duke faculty who engaged in the most hysterical, race-baiting and disgusting efforts to convict the Duke players and the University itself in the public domain.  Here’s a sample of the so-called Group of 88’s “Listening Statement.”

We are listening to our students. We’re also listening to the Durham community, to Duke staff, and to each other.  Regardless of the results of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism, who see illuminated in this moment’s extraordinary spotlight what they live with everyday. They know that it isn‘t just Duke, it isn‘t everybody, and it isn‘t just individuals making this disaster.

But it is a disaster nonetheless.

These students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves.

. . .We want the absence of terror. But we don’t really know what that means . . . We can’t think. That’s why we’re so silent; we can’t think about what’s on the other side of this. Terror robs you of language and you need language for the healing to begin.

Unfortunately these days, America’s universities rarely do the right thing and show accountability.  One can only hope there would be 89 more resignations following Nifong’s.  It would be true justice.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

On Immigration (& Other Things), Athena Gets It

In her column this morning on OpinionJournal, Peggy Noonan shows (once again) that she gets it on immigration and demonstrates through her wise words (yet again) why she is the Athena of political punditry. I noted last week how she called the bill “a big and indecipherable mess” and favored dividing it up into smaller bills, with one securing the border to be considered first.

This week, she’s back on her game (when is she not on her game?), first making this wise observation about the “American mood” on immigration: “Anti-immigration and for the immigrant. Against the abstract and for the particular.” This American Athena gets her homeland.

And she loves that homeland and is, like her humble servant, eager to integrate immigrants into our culture, but reiterates that we must first secure the border:

We should close the border, pause, absorb what we have, and set ourselves to “patriating” the newcomers who are here. The young of AmeriCorps might help teach them English. Those reaching retirement age, who happen to be the last people in America who were taught and know American history, could help them learn the story of our country. We could, as a nation, set our minds to this.

Exactly.

Not only does she gets America, but, like the real Athena, who restrained Achilles from rash action in The Iliad and helps guide nearly all the Greek heroes, understands that young men must learn to control their passions. Observing the Puerto Rican Day Parade in the Big Apple, she observed two young men behaving badly and comments:

We’re going to have to work on that young man, on both of them.

But we always have to work on young men, don’t we?

And so she writes truly in the spirit of her divine namesake, understanding that we have to work on young men. For, as I will attempt to show in my dissertation, the Greeks understood (primarily through the gray-eyed goddess) that young men need feminine guidance in order to fulfill their role as responsible adults. With the anecdote in her column today, Peggy follows in the footsteps of that armor-clad Olympian. A woman recognizing the needs of young men.

Don’t take my word for it, just read the whole thing!

– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)

UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer (whom I believe Bruce or I once called the Apollo of political punditry) offers a perspective on immigration nearly identical to Peggy’s. He notes that only one provision of the immigration bill garners “unanimous support: stronger border enforcement.” He concludes with a point that echoes one Peggy made two weeks ago:

Comprehensive immigration reform has simply too many contentious provisions to command a majority of Congress or the country. We all agree on enforcement, don’t we? So let’s do it. Make it simple. And do it now. Once our borders come visibly under control, everything else will become doable. Including amnesty.

Now that I’ve whet your appetite just read the whole thing, especially as he makes a great case for a border fence.

Yes, Ian… Harry Reid DID Say It…

The Weekly Standard has a full accounting of the charge of “incompetence” by Senate “Leader” Harry Reid against Generals Pace and Petraeus. 

Fortunately, Bob Geiger has produced what he claims is a verbatim quote of the senator’s original remarks:

“I guess the president, uh, he’s gotten rid of Pace because he could not get him confirmed here in the Senate… Pace is also a yes-man for the president and I told him to his face, I laid it out to him last time he came to see me, I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was.”

So, now it turns out that Reid did, in fact, call Pace “incompetent,” despite the denials of all the bloggers linked above, and Reid’s own non-denial denial. Not only that, Reid claimed that he called Pace a “yes-man” and “incompetent” to his face. He claimed he questioned the man’s competence AND his integrity. He might as well have slapped him across the face with a white glove! How could none of these bloggers have thought such a claim newsworthy? So which is worse: the unbelievably small chance that Reid did actually say those things to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or that he lied about doing so in a pander to lefty bloggers.

The lefty bloggers, for their part, have shown themselves to be totally inept. They failed to report the comments, then they denied Reid ever made them while making their own unsubstantiated allegations, and now they defend the comments as irrelevant–and without even the slightest doubt as to their validity. Which is worse?

Indeed, which is worse?  The lefty bloggers have no sense of what is right, good or honest anymore.  They hound an 18-year old mercilessly about his sexual preference…. but stage a blogosphere-wide cover-up to protect their inept Senate Democrat “Leader” Harry Reid.  How Taliban-esque.

Oh, and Ian…. you’ll have to take off your Veil of Reid Apologism now.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Massachusetts, Marriage, Civil Discourse & Blogging

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 2:45 am - June 15, 2007.
Filed under: Blogging,Civil Discourse,Gay Marriage,Gay Politics

I wonder what kind of post I would have written on the vote yesterday in the Massachusetts legislature to prevent a vote on a constitutional amendment “that would have let voters decide whether to ban gay marriage” had I received the e-mail from Peter Hughes’ alerting me to Yahoo!’ news item on the decision before I received the press releases from HRC and Log Cabin.

I’m actually more ambivalent on the vote that my previous post might suggest.

What stunned me in the two releases was reading (yet again) the same lame discourse on this, perhaps the most important socio-political issue facing our community, especially that Log Cabin’s release, like much of that ostensibly Republican’s group rhetoric, seemed to mimic that of HRC. They weren’t even trying to stake out a conservative position. My astonishment was reflected in the title of the post.

I’m ambivalent on the issue because I believe that legislatures (rather than courts) are the appropriate institution to decide a state’s policy on marriage. And here, an elected legislature (though under special circumstances) did vote on the policy. So, I should favor the decision. But, it troubles me that they only acted because the state Supreme Judicial Court (the highest court in the Bay State) had mandated marriage, taking it out of the legislature’s hands, leaving only the state’s complicated constitutional amendment process as a means of recourse.

Two things struck me about the reaction of the gay organizations, first the zeal with which the gay groups lobbied to prevent the people from voting on this issue. I think it’s silly to call this a “Vote on Rights” because the issue here is not about protecting people’s freedom, but about determining which couples the state recognizes (and privileges) as married.

The second issue which struck me, which is a point I have been making for as long as I have been blogging, is the inability (or refusal) of the gay organizations to talk about this all-important issue except as one of rights. As I was working on my prior post, The Malcontent‘s Robbie alerted me to Jonathan’s Rauch’s thoughtful review of David Blankenhorn’s The Future of Marriage. In noting that gay-marriage foe David Blankenhorn “succeeds” in making a serious case against gay marriage, Rauch (yet again) makes a strong case for gay marriage.

I wonder why it is that so few advocates of gay marriage take the time to make arguments as Jonathan does, pointing out the merits of this ancient institution, how it benefits gay people — and society. And to address the points raised by opponents of gay marriage.

Dale Carpenter, another one of the few advocates of gay marriage who makes serious arguments in favor of the institution, was quite enthusiastic about the decision, titling his e-mail alerting his friends to his post on the topic “Woohoo!,” offers an opinion only slightly different from my own. He notes that the vote shows “how dramatically support for SSM [Same-Sex Marriage] has grown in the legislature,” but agrees that “a successful referendum vote in November 2008” would have represented an “even bigger win.

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