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62 responses to “Predictable bigotry”

  1. Mark

    Elsewhere: [by Mark] More at The Global Sociology Blog.

  2. Adrien

    And hopefully soon we’ll see a UN Convention on gay rights
    .
    Yes and this have the usual mighty effect of such. The US didn’t sign? Surprise surprise.

  3. myriad

    well, what did Australia vote? New Zealand?

  4. Mark

    I was wondering who’d be the first to make such a predictable point, Adrien. You win the prize! Whatever that is… Probs not the Nobel though. There’s a reason why the word “predictable” makes an appearance in the title of the post.

    Perhaps you’d care to contemplate three things:

    (a) International conventions on human rights can be incorporated into domestic law where they can make a difference – it would take me a long time to enumerate how much progress (however imperfect) has been made in Australia through this mode of proceeding;

    (b) There is value in developing an international human rights jurisprudence in terms of the legitimacy it accords to campaigns by NGOs;

    (c) The implicit objection is the typical conservative one to the UN. OMG! All countries are members. Some don’t have good human rights records! (Note in this case the position taken by the US) So we should do… what? Nothing? Wait for John McCain’s “Coalition of Democracies”? Launch a war? Resort to moral exhortation (and note here the identical position of the Vatican and Islamic representatives).

    The conservative view that the world is imperfect here appears to imply that nothing whatever should be done to change it. Surprise, surprise. Well, from the point of view of queer people, conservatives on this issue can go get… Objections to this sort of thing are equivalent to condoning structural homophobia. Simple as that.

  5. Kim

    myriad, since I assume Australia and New Zealand are “civilised nations”, I assume they voted for the resolution.

    Adrien, yep, making flip blog comment #809879 for the month designed to show off your world weary cynicism (to yourself?) should be balanced against an apparent total failure to understand the seriousness of the issue and how it affects so many lives around the world. People are killed, and have their lives wrecked because of homophobic values and behaviours, and you want to make a dumb arsed political point.

    What’s your positive proposal to address such issues internationally? Or don’t you really care?

  6. sublime cowgirl

    Not sure if anyone saw it (or cares) but the National Association of Evangelicals in the US pressured their present leader (Ted Haggard was their previous leader) to resign last week over comments he made that he was ‘softening his stance on same sex unions’. (Cizik was most recently in a Australia on a World vision sponsored speaking tour promoting xian environmentalism.)

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=6491162&page=1

  7. Paul Burns

    No doubt you are all aware of the ongoing controversy about a homophobic evangelical leading the prayers at Obama’s Inauguration. Obama deals with the issue of gay rights by remaining absolutely silent on the issue. His defense of said evangelical has a chilling resemblance to John Howard’s broad church argument as a defence for his (Howard’s) extreme RWDB philosopies.
    And I’m an Obama fan.

  8. Paul Burns

    Oh, what I meant was I’m an Obama fan, but I find this disturbing.

  9. Owah! Tagooh! Siam!

    “Obama deals with the issue of gay rights by remaining absolutely silent…”

    But I’m sure it’s a *thoughtful* silence.

  10. myriad

    Um guys, I find it a tad weird to have a post on an international vote on GLBTI rights, and we seemed more concerned about talking about the USA’s predictable bigotry (especially with Bush still the President for heaven’s sake), and not interested in our countries’ votes? We can actually influence what our countries do, we can’t the USA (or at least only a minimal amount).

  11. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    From the IGLA:

    The signatories to the General Assembly statement are:
    Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

  12. Jack Hackett

    I notice China, India and Russia, the most populous nations on earth are absent from the signatories.

    Fr.Jack Hackett

  13. Mrs Madrigal

    I hope that any progress made in this area will be inclusive and not end up like the ENDA travesty.

  14. GregM

    Thanks for the list Down and Out.

    I/S tells us:

    Notably absent from the list of supporters? The United States. They were the only country in the civilised world who refused to sign.

    China not civilised then? That will come as a surprise to them (5000 years of continuous civilisation and all that).

    India’s also not on the list. Savages are they then?

    Vietnam’s not there either. Whatever reservations one may have about their political people they are a civilised people. As are the Thais, also not on the list, nor the Khmers nor the Indonesians.

    It seems to me that in his desire to give gender equality a kick-on – along with taking a predictable kick at the US- I/S isn’t above a bit of enthocentric (to use the kind word) bigotry.

    Still it’s nice to see New Zealand scrape in among those blessed by civilisation along with the Central African Republic, although civilisation’s standards can’t be to high if this from Wiki is to be believed:

    “In February 2006, there were reports of widespread violence in the northern part of the CAR.[8] Thousands of refugees fled their homes, caught in the crossfire of battles between government troops and rebel forces. More than 7,000 people fled to neighboring Chad. Those who remained in the CAR told of government troops systematically killing men and boys suspected of cooperating with rebels.[9]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_African_Republic#Politics

  15. Leon

    (a) International conventions on human rights can be incorporated into domestic law where they can make a difference – it would take me a long time to enumerate how much progress (however imperfect) has been made in Australia through this mode of proceeding;

    Could you give one or two examples? (Not meant facetiously.)

  16. Andrew Bartlett

    I am totally in sympathy with the views of the author of this post, but I share GregM’s extreme dislike of the phrase “the civilised world”. It’s a dreadful term which really should confined to the garbage can.

    I also disagree with the commenters who assert that “Obama deals with the issue of gay rights by remaining absolutely silent”. Everyone should be on guard against adopting a St Obama mindset, but the fact remains that he has spokenly quite openly about his support for gay rights, even though he has been equivocal when it comes to same sex marriage.

    I expect he would be the first US President in history to use the term ‘gay’ in an inclusive way in his victory address on election night.

    Given USA’s history and social makeup, this is not insignificant. I wouldn’t be surprised if an Obama administration were to be supportive of the Declaration eventually, although I wouldn’t expect him to make his first item of business either.

  17. Mark

    @14 – pay equality for women, protections for people with disability, the Racial Discrimination Act, and the list could be extended much further.

  18. sublime cowgirl

    Re Paul Burns at #7 (an in support of Andrew above)

    Obama, speaking at a press conference this week when asked about his decision to invite Prop 8 critic Rev Rick Warren next month:

    “let me start by talking about my own views. I think that it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on, and something that I contend — intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency.

    What I’ve also said is that it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. And I would note that a couple of years ago, I was invited to Rick Warren’s church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion. Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak. And that dialogue, I think, is part of what my campaign’s been all about; that we’re not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere when we — where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.

    “So Rick Warren has been invited to speak. Dr. Joseph Lowery, who has deeply contrasting views to Rick Warren on a whole host of issues, is also speaking. During the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. And that’s how it should be, because that’s what America’s about. That’s part of the magic of this country, is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated. And so, you know, that’s the spirit in which, you know, we have put together what I think will be a terrific inauguration. And that’s, hopefully, going to be a spirit that carries over into my administration.”

    Now look at this story from TIME in 2006 about Obama and Warren back then: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1565076,00.html

  19. Nabakov

    Jeez, hard-nosed pollie hedges his symbolic bets? Well strike me Pink and book me into Rod Laver Arena.

    Also I don’t wish to toot my trumpet here, too much, but two people I was drinking with in DC about six weeks ago are now shortlisted for Cabinet positions.

    OK, Jane Harman will probably not end up as Director of Central Intelligence. But she should be. A very smart and tough Jewish lady from New York. And bloody funny too after a few drinks.

    “Of course I’m not a member of Skull and Bones.I’m a mensch from Queens. We have standards.”

  20. skepticlawyer

    I don’t know whether Obama really believes any of it, but — at least superficially — he seems to be doing his best to fight against the idea (from Carl Schmitt) that even in liberal, free democracies, we all ultimately divide ourselves into ‘enemy’ and ‘friend’ and just hate from there.

    The idea that we must all speak nicely and accept compromises has its origins in the thought of Juergen Habermas, Joseph Raz and FA Hayek. It’s an incredibly high standard and very hard to achieve. It forces Rev Warren and the Rainbow Coalition into the same room for wine and canapes and says ‘be civil!’ It may mean that gays and lesbians don’t get gay marriage — but that the churches and conservative Hispanic groups who voted for Prop 8 in large numbers have to accept that gays and lesbians get full civil rights at law. Maybe this is why Obama spent so much time voting ‘present’ — he knew wouldn’t be able to do any of this stuff unless he did so from a position of immense moral authority … like the Presidency.

    Now, wearing my libertarian hat, I’m quite happy with calling certain nations civilised (or uncivilised). For all its achievements historically, China isn’t currently in the civilised club. Membership of the ‘civlisation’ club requires, to my mind, at least annual renewal, which means China and Vietnam haven’t been anywhere near it for quite some time (end of the Ming Dynasty for China, I’d wager). Butchering your own and intemperate autocracy are uncilvised things, and fine literature, good music and nice architecture won’t save you. I’ll leave you to think of historical analogies, at risk of invoking Godwin.

  21. skepticlawyer

    *uncivilised things. Fumble fingers

    More on Habermas here:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/habermas/#HabDisThe

  22. myriad

    Thanks Down & Out in Saigon!

    Given how Rudd’s Labor has behaved on same sex issues (ie contrarily) I wasn’t at all sure we’d be on the list. We are still dragging our heels on a range of other international conventions / rights / statements (the one on Indigenous people comes to mind).

    And what Andrew said about the word civilised

    RE: Obama and Warren, the problem is he just gave a man with very open prejudice against homosexuals about the highest profile-raising platform you can imagine, and in doing so has offered legitimacy to those views. IOW, we must all come together, but homosexuals needs to suck it up just that little bit longer and harder than everyone else who is apparently equal in Obama’s worldview. When I actually see Obama do more than talk about how much he wants to include homosexuals in his new American utopian vision, I might be more impressed. But at the moment his actions speak much louder, and they say he sucks if you’re gay right now.

  23. Idiot/Savant

    Leon @15: Could you give one or two examples? (Not meant facetiously.)

    To use NZ examples: the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 implemented the ICCPR in domestic law. And it has constrained politicians (by making them think about it), and made a real difference to the law across the board, particularly in the areas of criminal justice and freedom of expression.

    More recently, NZ ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by passing the Disability (United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) Act 2008 to update a host of laws to implement its requirements.

    International instruments do make a difference. They can help drive domestic policy changes by creating international pressure to do so. Most of the countries which supported the declaration already interpret and implement the equality clauses of the UDHR, ICCPR etc to include sexual orientation and gender identity. But by creating an international instrument, we create an international norm, and thereby create pressure for other countries to sign up. And while some countries may remain outside the system, every country which joins makes the world a slightly better place.

  24. Paul Burns

    Guess I goofed.

  25. Geoff Honnor

    “Still, it could have been worse. At least they didn’t sign the competing declaration, backed by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the Vatican, which claimed that ending anti-gay bigotry could lead to “the social normalization, and possibly the legitimization, of many deplorable acts including pedophilia”. And people wonder why religion is associated in the public mind with bigotry…”

    Not to defend its depressing record but, for the sake of accuracy, I should point out that the Vatican most certainly didn’t back the competing declaration.

    In fact, the Vatican issued a separate declaration calling for the removal of all criminal sanctions against homosexuality while re-affirming its opposition to gay marriage.

  26. Geoff Honnor

    The most notable omission from the pro signatories is one of the few countries that enshrines gay rights in its constitution – South Africa.

    Worse, during an earlier vote on a resolution, deploring extrajudicial killings, South Africa voted for an amendment (proposed by Uganda, on behalf of the Islamic Conference) that would have removed “sexual orientation” from being explicitly featured as one of the grounds for which people suffer extrajudicial murder. The amendment was lost 70-68.

  27. Adrien

    Mark – I was wondering who’d be the first to make such a predictable point
    .
    Indeed. And you shall win the prize for the predictable response. 🙂 .
    .
    International conventions on human rights can be incorporated into domestic law
    .
    That depends on the nation-state. In this country international agreements can be used by the Federal Govt to over-ride the States. Whether or no this is a good thing depends on the content of the international agreement and one’s views of federalism. However where there is no local will it is completely irrelevant.
    .
    In the case of the United States there is an increasing influence of fundamentalist religion. This marries both hostility to internationalism and homosexuality.
    .
    There is value in developing an international human rights jurisprudence in terms of the legitimacy it accords to campaigns by NGOs
    .
    There is value in developing an international human rights jurisprudence full stop. There is value (I think) in developing an international jurisprudence full stop. It does help if there’s an international jurisdiction to back it up.
    .
    The implicit objection is the typical conservative one to the UN.All countries are members. Some don’t have good human rights records!
    .
    This objection is a tactic. The real conservative objection to the US is that it a proto-world government that undermines the sovereignty of the nation-state. The libertarian objection to the UN is that it’s another layer of government. The objection of the elite of the elite that David Rothkopf describes is that it’ll mean the anarcho-capitalist party is over.
    .
    However the objection to the UN you speak of isn’t just that some don’t have good human rights records but that you can have a nation like Libya chairing the fucking Human Rights Commission!!! Hello?
    .
    BTW I think a global state is almost inevitable, desirable or otherwise.
    .
    The conservative view that the world is imperfect here appears to imply that nothing whatever should be done to change it.
    .
    Indeed as Gilbert Chesterton said:

    The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected

    I am not a conservative.
    .
    My views on geopolitics normally coincide in spirit if not in detail with the internationalist traditions of the non-socialist left. But that doesn’t mean that I’m required to be myopic when it comes to the fact that the United Nations is, shall we say, a disappointment.

  28. Mark

    Whatever, Adrien. As I’m trying to suggest, the formulation of international human rights instruments is separable from whatever critique one might have of the UN as an institution. I don’t see “ZOMG! Libya is on a committee” as being a particularly plausible way to promote equality and end discrimination arising from homophobia.

  29. Adrien

    the formulation of international human rights instruments is separable from whatever critique one might have of the UN as an institution.
    .
    But actually applying human rights, granting them internationally only works if there’s some effective way of doing it. The UN has used up enormous reams of paper declaring all sorts of rights that simply don’t exist. That is a fault.
    .
    I don’t see “ZOMG! Libya is on a committee” as being a particularly plausible way to promote equality and end discrimination arising from homophobia.
    .
    You don’t see the inherent contradiction involved in a military dictatorship actually chairing the Human Rights Commission of an organization and that organization’s capacity to, ahem, grant rights? No? I’m sure you’re right. I know let’s get Mr. Ahmadinejad to help organize the World Pride Festival. I’m sure he’d love to.
    .
    This ‘landmark declaration’ won’t make a bit of difference anywhere. In Iran they’ll still string up people for being gay. In Australia they won’t. The reasons for the difference have nothing to do whatsoever with what goes on at the United Nations. The UN isn’t even particularly good at its main job which is the provision of global peace.
    .
    But of course if you criticize it, it’s ‘predictable’ and ‘conservative’. It doesn’t of course matter that I support the principles of it. Or that I’m speaking from the position of ‘this is just a bunch of bullshit feel-good words that don’t fucking do anything!!’ No. If I don’t join in the circle and dance and sing I’m a reactionary.
    .
    Well let’s see Mark. Would care to explain your strategy for ending the persecution, prosecution and execution of homosexuals in Iran? Thrill us with your geopolitical acumen. Hint: convening a sub-committee with a view to pooling options for a statement of intention to develop perimeters for policy consensus leading to a statement won’t do it.

  30. Adrien

    Kim – should be balanced against an apparent total failure to understand the seriousness of the issue and how it affects so many lives around the world. People are killed, and have their lives wrecked because of homophobic values and behaviours, and you want to make a dumb arsed political point.
    .
    Christ on a really bad Friday afternoon. This is exactly like the Apology bollocks. You people get all excited about something writ on a bit of paper like it actually does anything. And then have the temerity to imply that it’s me who doesn’t take the issue seriously.
    .
    This is not taking the issue seriously. It’s like the Apology, a pure bit of symbolism designed to fill us all with a warm glow.But this will continue to happen regardless. Funnily enough I remember getting blasted by my comments on the Apology with all the usual bullshit about how I’m a fascist or whatever. Until Germaine Greer said the same thing, and then it was okay. Ha!
    .
    What’s your positive proposal to address such issues internationally? Or don’t you really care?
    .
    Good question. What can we do about Iran? Invade it? The trouble that the UN has in actually enforcing any of its declarations is that it can’t actually enforce any of its declarations. How do you do it? Lock a country up? Sanctions? (They might work). War? Well that tends to work quite well if you want to remove states. Trouble is you can’t control what happens next.
    .
    None of these is really an option. Won’t happen. I’m in favour of granting refugee status to anyone from a country that does this sort of thing however.
    .
    However the only thing that really works is material affluence, high levels of secular education and liberal polities that guarantee human rights. Now how do we get everyone in the world to go there? Well you could… um no. Well maybe you’d… um no.
    .
    Well I’ll just sign a petition, I’ll just paint a banner. I’ll get my megaphone. I’ll march and chant. What? You heartless fascistbastdocopnservative fuck. Don’t tell me it’s useless. At least I’m doing something.
    .
    True. Can’t argue with that.
    .
    I’m going to spend the next three minutes singing I’m a teapot for the rights of the oppressed worldwide. See now I’m doing something. And it’s just as effective as any of the above. 🙂

  31. Paul Burns

    On reflection, I think what the US may or may not do on gay rights is very important from an international perspective. To use an analogy – we haven’t really got very far on dealing effectively with global warming primarily because of US opposition. Its going to be even harder for international gay rights, which is far more divisive than climate change. At least with the latter, everybody except the RWDBs agree something serious has to be done to fix the problem.With gay rights its going to be much more difficult, especially in the face of opposition from the Muslim world, the Vatican’s opposition to gay marriage and a semi-theocratic US. (regarless of the Jeffersonian doctrine of separation of church and state – that doesn’t mean zilch to the Republicans or southern Democrats.)
    Even here in Oz, arguably the most secular country in the world nowadays, because of the serendipity of European early settlement/invasion at a period when Enlightenment values were still highly influential and the new Protestant Evangelicalism via the Clapham Sect was only just getting off the ground, and most of our convict founding fathers and mothers had a contempt for Anglicanism as the religious arm of state suppression. Even with the ruling elite, Hunter aside, their Anglicanism (god-bothers aside) in its expression of Protestan Xanity was very much a veneer. But this inbred srcularism of Get religion Outa My Face Unless Its Sunday/Saturday/Friday, with its tendency to mock religious leaders – eg Fred Nile, Cardinal Pell, the former Mufti of Australia, has not seen great advances in gay rights, let alone gay marriage, until very recently. As I understand it gays have only just received property/inheritance/superanannuation/pension rights that the rest of us took for granted. (I’m willing to be corrected in this if I’ve got it wrong.) And gays and lesbians have no hope whatever of state-sanctioned gay marriage here.To state the bleeding obvious.
    So US leadership is important, but I doubt we’ll see it. The fundies won’t allow it, let alone the homophobes.

  32. Mark

    I’m going to spend the next three minutes singing I’m a teapot for the rights of the oppressed worldwide. See now I’m doing something. And it’s just as effective as any of the above.

    That’s the thing, Adrien – you are blind to the fact that the articulation of a principle grants it legitimacy and stuck in the false symbolism/action dichotomy so typical of the Howard era. Nor do statements like this one necessarily have to be “enforced”! You might like to pay attention to what activists actually do in countries like Iran and Libya and the international awareness and support that NGOs can secure from the level of legitimacy accorded through such declarations.

    It has value above and beyond its incorporation into domestic law in some states.

    Your position still seems to boil down – logically – to either (a) do nothing; (b) hope that “globalisation” will raise all boats and secularism and tolerance will mystically appear. In other words, your rather lengthy screeds either point confusedly in a conservative or a liberal direction respectively, and ignore the interplay between statement at the international level and action on the ground, which isn’t well captured by traditional political categories.

    Btw, there’s also a fallacy in your claim that if something doesn’t immediately efface what it denounces, then it’s worthless (“this still happens”) – the whole point is to shift the conditions of thought in order to allow – over time and with further work – those who wish to translate that thought into practice to do so. Folks like the Vatican understand that – that’s why there’s always hostility to “legitimising homosexuality”.

    But I’m not interested in having another thread turn into “let’s talk about what Adrien thinks”.

    Have a lovely Sunday! 🙂

  33. sublime cowgirl

    Myriad at #22

    Warren doesn’t particularly need profile raising in the US. His last book sold over 20 million. ( No I haven’t read it). If you haven’t heard of him, its just because you don’t keep up with one of the most influential aspects of American culture and politics.

    From wikipedia:

    “Warren has been invited to speak at national and international forums including the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, the Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, TED, and Time’s Global Health Summit.

    Warren was named one of “America’s Top 25 Leaders” in the October 31, 2005, issue of U.S. News and World Report.[3] Warren was elected by TIME magazine as one of 15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004 and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” (2005).[4] Newsweek magazine called him one of “15 People Who Make America Great”, an award given to people who, through bravery or generosity, genius or passion, devote themselves to helping others.[5]”

    (I should correct a couple of mistakes i made in the posts above – Warren supported not criticised Prop 8, and the ousted Cizik was the chief lobbyist of the NAE, not its president)

  34. Adrien

    you are blind to the fact that the articulation of a principle grants it legitimacy and stuck in the false symbolism/action dichotomy so typical of the Howard era.
    .
    No Mark. Again I am not a conservative. I don’t come from the same place as John fucking Howard and I’m not subject to the myopia you describe. I made a point about the UN’s capacity to effect its resolutions, that was all. You and Kim have way over-reacted to it.
    .
    It seems to me that one of the enormous problems faced by internationalists is that the UN is either inherently nefarious or sacred. It’s neither. It’s the second attempt at an international social contract. It will probably fail. I shudder to thing of the circumstances which will bring that about.
    .
    Declaring human rights has a certain tenuous legitimacy. Usually one declares them from the natural law perspective as if rights were self-evident, obvious. This is, in my opinion, existensialy incorrect, but stratgeically effective. It’s useful for the establishment of the humane life to act as if human rights were bestowed by some higher power.
    .
    But they are not. They are created by us thru the apparatus of states. And they can be taken away by those very same avenues. The problem with the UN is it’s two things: A Westphalian power lock and a Utopian bureaucracy. It’s also riddled with all sorts of problems of consistency. Not to mention the simple fact that people only pay attention to it when they pay attention to it.
    .
    Your myopia is that you think I’m some kind of Conservative reactionary who bemoans the UN and gay rights and all the rest of it. What I am in fact is someone who scoffs at the self-congratulatory pseudo-radicalism of people who think bits of paper change things. I actually support the rights declared in this post and the concept of the UN. Unfortunately its diplomatic farnarkling have seen whatever moral authority it had wither.
    .
    What do Iranian gay activists do? Move to America.

  35. Mark

    But they are not. They are created by us thru the apparatus of states. And they can be taken away by those very same avenues.

    No, they’re forged in struggle. Existentially and strategically.

    Anyway, I’m off to the art gallery, then out to dinner. C ya!

  36. Adrien

    No, they’re forged in struggle.
    .
    The struggle to do what? The struggle that ends in what? Struggle. That’s interesting. Struggled much have you?

  37. MarkL

    The only ‘predictable bigotry’ on display is the predictable anti-American bigotry of the Australian latte-leftist.

    The rival statement which actively opposed the Eu statement read by Argentina was supported by 60 countries. The US supported NEITHER (“U.S. officials said the United States had not signed either document.”) on the basis that “the broad framing of the language in the statement supporting decriminalization created conflicts with U.S. law…”

    But here, only the US is criticised!

    Excuse me dear, your predictable bigotry is showing…

    MarkL
    Canberra

  38. Mark

    Yes.

    My point is simply that human rights don’t descend from the heavens or arise from natural law or wherever. They continually have to be fought for, and can never be entirely secured. Democracy is exactly the same. There’s a process, and a dynamism and never a stasis or an “end of history” or “Enlightenment”.

    Now, I’m struggling to contain my annoyance at being held up from doing something far more pleasurable on a Sunday afternoon than discussing the finer points of political philosophy or whatevs! 😉

  39. Mark

    Thanks for that contribution, MarkL. I hope your loud condemnation of teh “latte-left” and its “anti-Americanism” survives the transition to the Obama administration. Remember, criticising a US president is akin to deeply felt hatred for freedom. Isn’t it?

  40. Adrien

    I’m struggling to contain my annoyance at being held up from doing something far more pleasurable on a Sunday afternoon than discussing the finer points of political philosophy or whatevs!
    .
    Don’t blame me Mark. Blame the Fungus. Where’s Liam? I suspect he’s at the Secret Society of Mushroom Soup planning their next move.

  41. Adrien

    MArk L The only ‘predictable bigotry’ on display is the predictable anti-American bigotry of the Australian latte-leftist….
    .
    But here, only the US is criticised!

    .
    Is it anti-American bigotry or disappointment? I think your point’s a fair one and Mark could have made use of it to lambast my world-weary poseur polemics viz the UN is useless, but no.
    .
    Still there is a tendency amongst some people (and these are not all the so-called ‘latte left’) to be disproportionately hostile to the United States as if it were the only power able to act badly on the world stage. Quite often these polemics are unfair because they refuse to take into account the good stuff as well or appreciate the situation.
    .
    However when one witnesses the spectacles at Gitmo, for example, one does feel disappointed. This isn’t necessarily anti-American bigotry. It’s disappointment. We expected better perhaps?
    .
    I hope your loud condemnation of teh “latte-left” and its “anti-Americanism” survives the transition to the Obama administration.
    .
    Mark I reckon it’s the latte left who’re gonna be disappointed by Obama.

  42. Paul Burns

    er, I did mention the Vatican and the Muslim world and so have quite a few of the other LP-ers’ comments.

  43. Geoff Honnor

    In essence, support for the declaration played out predictably. Around a third of the Assembly supported it, another third opposed it and the remaining third sat on the fence with the US and the Vatican issuing statements deploring criminal sanctions against homosexuality. The surprises were that two Islamic Conference countries – Gabon and Guinea-Bissau – supported it and South Africa didn’t.

    I don’t think that the US – in the dying days of the Bush administration – is the nub of the current and future gay rights “problem.” Africa, the Islamic world, China, India and Russia represent the greater challenge.

  44. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    The rival statement which actively opposed the Eu statement read by Argentina was supported by 60 countries.

    But where is this list of 60 countries written down? I find it interesting that I could not find it anywhere on the net. Why is that? The LGBT sites are proud enough to broadcast the super 66 to the world. They know it is a matter of life and death to many. Some news organisations have also reprinted the list. But the 60 against – canna find a listing. Nae. Nada. Nowhere on the net. [*] Even the Organisation of The Islamic Conference – the group behind the counter-statement – have no mention of it on their website. It’s not like they take the issue that seriously. So if proponents of the counter-statement can’t be bothered to get the word out, why should we take their views seriously?

    BTW: Bosnia-Herzegovina is a country with a large Muslim minority that supported the resolution. So it’s not like all Muslims are against Teh Gay.

    [* Aside: I found the pro-LGBT list several times on the net, but nowhere from the UN website itself. Their website is badly designed. sometimes, entering a search term would break the system. What they need is an equivalent of Hansard for General Assembly transcriptions. “Never happen”, I thought.]

    Not that the

  45. Adrien

    Their website is badly designed. sometimes, entering a search term would break the system.
    .
    Um… nothing. Nothing. 🙂

  46. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Not that the

    Bollocks. I really must check my posts for loose sentence fragments. Lost beyond the scroll bar, and not seen again until I hit the Submit button.

  47. THR

    Still there is a tendency amongst some people (and these are not all the so-called ‘latte left’) to be disproportionately hostile to the United States as if it were the only power able to act badly on the world stage. Quite often these polemics are unfair because they refuse to take into account the good stuff as well or appreciate the situation.

    I don’t think this is remotely true. Nobody praises the governments of Russia or China, or Zimbabwe. Being opposed to US government policies is pretty common around the world, not just alleged latte-sippers.

    A quick glance at US exceptionalism might give you some reasons as to why the US Government is singled out for justified contempt. Take this, for instance – the UN passed a resolution on the ‘right to food’, by an overwhelming 180 to 1. Guess who the ‘1’ was.

    http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/gashc3941.doc.htm

  48. Nickws

    Wait, Cuba signed this declaration.

    A declaration in favour of human rights for GLBT people.

    Cuba.

    Could we get a new declaration with Obama’s amabassador’s signature replacing the signature of Raul’s/Fidel’s lackey, please?

    Sorry to sound really unserious when it comes to standing up for gay rights, but I am absolutely gobsmacked that nobody here thinks that the presence of at least one viciously homphobic regime in a document supposed to advocate the rights of homosexuals is not worth commenting on.
    I guess it’s too bad for Havana’s poofs that Australia’s educated types, Left, Right and Centre, see the letters ‘UN’ and decide it’s time to go off on ones hobbyhorse about how the world should be ordered.

  49. Nickws

    Also, about Warren.

    He may be a reactionary on Prop 8 and reproductive rights issues but he also just happens to be a throwback to the less partisan inclined Evangelical Christianity of Carter and Ford (yes, you heard right, pro-choice Republican Gerald Ford was a holy roller. That’s how politically secular these American folks were with their spiritual beliefs once upon a time. Of course Jimmy then had to go and open the god-botherer pandoras box as part of his campaign bio about what an ethical, post-Watergate guy he was, but that’s another story.)
    Pastor Rick Warren might be a douche, but he’s douche who isn’t interested in being a GOP factional leader ala Robertson, Falwell, Dobson–so in basic partisan terms he is functionally secular (but of course he has political power that operates ‘freelance’ of the GOP or the Dems, power he swung behind the Prop 8 victory which he now celebrates.)
    Anyway, it’s not as if Obama hasn’t already agreed-to-disagree with proponents of anti-gay bile (a large chunk of the black clergy for e.g.) but if putting Warren into a corner helps get universal healthcare passed, implement a new Marshall Plan, win Texas in 2012 etc, then perhaps this is shit-sandwich U.S. progressives can eat.

  50. feral sparrowhawk

    There are several nations on the list of signatories that are pleasant surprises. Cuba because of its past record, Gabon, Cape Verde, CAR and Guniea-Bisseau because African countries have been so bad on homosexuality, and Albania and Bosnia because of their high Muslim populations.

    Who knows what caused this. Perhaps the ambassadors were confused, perhaps pressure was applied (particularly to the European states). In Cuba’s case it might be further evidence that the Castro brothers are not identical twins and the change in leadership indicates a better human rights record is coming.

    Oh and nice to see Timor-Leste there as well.

  51. Nickws

    So, I do some checking and I find that Cuba is no longer really shitty to teh gays.

    Though feral sparrowhawk does raise more questions RE the African signatories.

  52. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Sorry to sound really unserious when it comes to standing up for gay rights, but I am absolutely gobsmacked that nobody here thinks that the presence of at least one viciously homphobic regime in a document supposed to advocate the rights of homosexuals is not worth commenting on.

    Nickws – by writing that, didn’t you just contradict yourself? You might as well have stated “This sentence is false.” 🙂

    So, I do some checking and I find that Cuba is no longer really shitty to teh gays.

    Cuba’s better than it was – it legalized sodomy in 1979 (a decade before Queensland). However, there are issues. For example: “According to the World Policy Institute (2003), the Cuban government prohibits LGBT organizations and publications, gay pride marches and gay clubs.[14] All officially sanctioned clubs and meeting places are required to be heterosexual”. That Wikipedia article is quite schizoid – lots of passages implying “Cuba is cool with the gays” interspliced with “Cuba’s government is homophobic”. It’s heaven for cherrypickers on both sides of the debate. 🙂

    The country is well past the “homosexuality is a capitalist deviation” phase. But even if you think Cuba is hypocritical regarding the “equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity” resolution, does that negate the value of the statement? I don’t think it does.

    As feral sparrowhawk pointed out, Albania is a supporter of the statement. I find that interested as Albania (unlike Bosnia) is also a member of the OIC, the group pushing the homophobic counter-resolution. Hey – one of their members broke the party line! What’s going to happen? Nothing, I guess – no expulsions, no disciplining, not even a reprimand. The group’s not nicknamed “Oh, I see…” for nothing. That’s another reason why I don’t take opponents of the resolution that seriously.

  53. Adrien

    I don’t think this is remotely true.
    .
    No? I haven’t seen that many odes to US foreign aid about. Just sayin’.
    .
    Nobody praises the governments of Russia or China, or Zimbabwe.
    .
    Well no-one praises the government of Zimbabwe, Russia and China? Not too sure about that one.
    .
    Being opposed to US government policies is pretty common around the world, not just alleged latte-sippers.
    .
    Which is what I said and then you say that’s not remotely true. Okay.
    .
    I’m not saying that US foreign policy shouldn’t criticized. It should. In fact it is being criticized from all over the spectrum. Even a quasi-fascist like Pat Robertson is howling about the neocon adventure.
    .
    I like your link:

    a draft that would have the Assembly urge all States to take legislative measures to ensure that their territories and nationals were not used for the recruitment, assembly, financing, training and transit of mercenaries whose use could impede the right of people to self-determination, destabilize Governments, or dismember or impair the territorial integrity or political unity of States.

    Great example of how impossible the UN’s mission is. It’s obvious that clanned militarism, for example, turns what could be a tourist haven like Somalia into a warn torn shithole. How do you stop it?
    .
    Takes more than a draft. Might be worth remembering why US forces (and Pakistani and Italian etc) where in Somalia in the first place.

  54. Mark Elliott

    Actually, the Vatican didn’t back the OIC’s statement. In fact, it came out in support of decriminisation of homosexuality. Its main beef is with the wording of the statement.
    It’s probably still unacceptable to a fair few people here, but I want the record to be straight that the Vatican isn’t pushing a anti-decriminalisation agenda, and most certainly didn’t support the counter-measure.

  55. Nickws

    That Wikipedia article is quite schizoid

    I think Peter Tatchell’s mob have been at that wiki page–I was more impressed by sources that report that Fidel had actually apologised, somewhat, for official Cuba’s past homophobia ala the enforced quarantining of people with HIV, and that his daughter has organised ‘pride marches’.

    They’re obviously not perfect, it’s just they no longer tyrannise homosexuals.

    But even if you think Cuba is hypocritical regarding the “equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity” resolution, does that negate the value of the statement? I don’t think it does

    What bothers me is that some of the other third world countries backing the resolution might still practice institutional homophobia.

    Once again, I have to express disbelief that this means nothing to most people here, whether they be pro- or con-. I think there’s a weird insularity to a lot of debate in the West about these kinds of dilemmas.

  56. Sociological grrrl wonder

    Totally agree.

  57. myriad

    Hi Sublime Cowgirl,

    my partner is American, so yes, well aware of Warren & his profile. I disagree quite emphatically that giving him the gig at the inauguration will be essentially irrelevant to his status; it’s about the biggest honour a priest can get in the USA, and he’s got it for what is almost certainly going to be an inauguration that surpasses all others by several orders of magnitude.

    There are other non-homophobic church leaders who are every bit as inspiring as Warren that Obama could have chosen, and in doing so sent a very powerful message. He has a very bad habit in having in particular, homosexuals accumulate as ‘collateral damage’ on each side of the aisle as he ‘reaches over’.

  58. Adrien

    He has a very bad habit in having in particular, homosexuals accumulate as ‘collateral damage’ on each side of the aisle as he ‘reaches over’.
    .
    Yeah I wonder about that.
    .
    On the one hand it could be calculated. He could simply be disarming the religious right in advance. On the other hand he could actually be in agreement with them viz family values.
    .
    Which is worse?

  59. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Once again, I have to express disbelief that this means nothing to most people here, whether they be pro- or con-.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, Nickws. Perhaps it does mean something, but people choose not to comment for several reasons. For example, I was feeling particularly inarticulate when the issue of Cuba was raised. It’s not mandatory to comment, you know…

  60. Nickws

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, Nickws. Perhaps it does mean something, but people choose not to comment for several reasons. For example, I was feeling particularly inarticulate when the issue of Cuba was raised. It’s not mandatory to comment, you know…

    Yep, discretion is a good way to respond to an issue one is unfamiliar with.

    And going OT is not always such a bad thing.

    But take a look at what the most profligate* commenter on this thread has written and you have to wonder why people respond to specific issues with prepared, stock rants.

    *Correct use of the word ‘profligate’, which my dictionary tells me is “extremely extravagent or wasteful.”

  61. myriad

    Adrien, this is myriad’s partner stealing her handle for a moment. I don’t think the issue is whether Obama agrees with Warren or not. And frankly I’m surprised at how no one seems to be talking about how Warren, in addition to demeaning gays, equates abortion with the Holocaust. An all-around good guy – who just happens to be in the minority on both issues. Americans may get hung up on the “marriage” issue, but the majority still think that homosexuality is OK and that abortion should be legal.

    For me the issue is this: do minorities have the right to be protected from majority opinion? The US bill of rights and constitution specifically say “yes”. Ragging on minorities is not really done in mainstream politics. Even Bush used the “some of my friends are” line and never openly attacked gays. So, for me Obama’s real choice is: when you’re dealing with have someone in a position of power who is specifically targeting marginalized minority groups, do you call them out on it or look the other way. If it’s forced upon you, like a working with a foreign government, that’s one thing, if it’s someone you are using to “reach out” to a largely privileged segment of American society – well, that’s just not on, no mater how you slice it.

    BTW, I’m sure my mother attends Warren’s church at times.

  62. Adrien

    Myriad’s partner – If it’s forced upon you, like a working with a foreign government, that’s one thing, if it’s someone you are using to “reach out” to a largely privileged segment of American society – well, that’s just not on, no mater how you slice it.
    .
    Yeah I agree totally.
    .
    Obama’s transideological position interests me but it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It can mean being less ‘religious’ about politics and more practical or it can mean dumping principle and doing whatever it takes to maintain power. We’ll see.
    .
    The Religious Right in America have gifted themselves a certain position of moral authority. Despite the oft repeated fact that Americans are largely tolerant of gays and lesbians and support a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy for some reason anyone advocating these things in public always appears to be apologetic for it. Obama’s religious affiliations are less than savoury. To Australians the required public spectacle of faith that seems to be a requirement for any American politician are worrisome.
    .
    On the plus side however Obama endorses reinvigorating scientific research and endorses the theory of evolution. So I guess we’ll see.