Looking at the news over the past couple of weeks from a gay men’s mental health point of view leaves quite a bit to be desired. In my last post, I was talking about how the overturn of Prop 8 is a collective mental health booster for the entire lesbian and gay community. Conversely, the “stay” on the overturn of Prop 8 (and the subsequent delay in the resumption of same-sex weddings) by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is a detriment to our collective mental health. This requires patience, but also continued advocacy. Much of the fate of Prop 8 is in the court system, which is where it should be, considering that the entire issue is about equal civil rights in the eyes of state law, and marriage in this sense is a state civil right, not a “religious rite” conducted in a church. People forget that marriage is really a legal contract, ceremony aside. It’s hard for us as a community to be “patient” for the simple state of equal civil rights under the law. There is a certain appropriate “impatience” that’s called for. That’s what African-Americans agitated for during the Selma bus boycott, and I think the gay community needs to start taking a tougher line on this and be a little more bold in its protests. Protests must always be in proportion to the extent of the oppression; the larger the oppression, the more bold and extreme the protests need to be — up to and including revolution (a la Marie Antoinette getting her head chopped off by the French for her “let them eat cake” attitude). While I work with clients on “anger management” (which is a real topic in psychotherapy, despite the mocking of it in movies and television), there is a time and place for the appropriate expresssion of anger. We don’t want to eliminate anger from our range of emotion, but we want to control and tame it as if we had a wild animal on a leash. As a wise colleague once said, “Anger is our defense against abuse and exploitation.”
Anger is certainly the order of the day in response to another current event, which was “Dr.” (and I mean that in the most mocking way possible, as she is NOT a licensed psychotherapist, despite the public’s assumption that she is, which she does nothing to disavow) Laura Schlessinger. You remember her? She’s the one who called gay people a “biological error”. She was partially on the right path, in that she correctly characterized sexual orientation as not a choice, but biologically-based, but she went too far with the perjorative “error” comment that instantly made her look like the intolerant bitch that she is. This time, she stuck her conserative pump in her mouth yet again with using the “n-word” slur, many times, on her radio show. She got in trouble for it, “apologized” the next day in her own half-assed disengenuous way, but then announced she would be ending her radio show voluntarily (B.S., I bet she was asked to leave) so that she could restore her “First Amendment rights” (for those of you who don’t really get that Amendment stuff, the First Amendment includes the right to free speech). And who was the first person to come to her support for doing that? None other than Sarah Palin. That just figures. Instead of the First Wives Club, there ought to be a new moniker for the group that includes Sarah Palin, Laura Schlessinger, Maggie Gallagher (of the “National Organization for Marriage; barf), Jan Brewer (vicious conservative Governor of Arizona) and Sharron Angle (Republican challenger for Harry Reid’s Senate seat in Nevada) and my personal favorite love-to-hate person, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who recently announced that she would support and defend Prop 8 if she is elected governor. They should call this group the Vicious Antigay Bitch Club. All of these women have, either recently or in the past, spouted the most vicious anti-gay bile in order to appeal to their base of stupid, hateful conservatives that hate everyone from Us Gayboyz, to immigrants, to “liberals”. As I said in my earlier post about Maggie Gallagher (the miserable excuse for a human being), when you devote your public life to oppressing other people (LGBT, etc.) and making their lives miserable by working day and night to take away rights, oppress, and induce suffering any way you can, you deserve all the criticism you get.
The bad news didn’t end with the Vicious Antigay Bitch Club. There was news out of Saudi Arabia (another term that generally makes my skin crawl) that a man who had a knife fight with another man had paralyzed his victim. As punishment, a judge there was making inquiries of hospitals to ask if there were a procedure to paralyze the perpetrator through a punitive spinal surgery on him. What year is it?? The United States actually does billions of dollars a year with a country like this? With this kind of violation of human rights? Protests sprang up from Amnesty International and others that this punishment would be torture, which is a violation of the United Nations agreement on abstaining from torturous punishments (which, to their credit, Saudi Arabia is supposedly a signatory of). But what kind of vicious barbarian would even think of such a punishment?
Speaking of vicious barbarians, my blood boiled at the sight of a video online where this dumb hick circus trainer beats an elephant and then brags about it; (see www.ringlingbeatsanimals.com). What is happening these days that there are so many examples of just plain Bad Human Behavior??
I’m generally a nice guy, really (I’m a therapist; we pride ourselves on being genuinely nice, affirmative, and peaceful people, holding our clients in “unconditional positive regard”), and I generally focus on the positive to help people address challenges in their lives in all kinds of ways. But when we are barraged in the weekly news with examples of vile human behavior against other humans (or in the case of Ringling Brothers Circus, its animals), it’s OK to cry foul. Some activisits who promote peace, social justice, and civility would say it is our DUTY to cry foul, and keep demanding it until justice is achieved.
All is not lost. Sarah Palin is a national joke, and probably has no real chance of gaining any serious power. Laura Schlessinger will be a darling of conservatives from now on, and make lots of money at whacko conservative conventions where she can spout the “n-word” to her dark heart’s desire to an eager audience of morons who eat it up. Sharron Angle will likely lose the Nevada election. Jan Brewer will eventually be drummed out of power in Arizona. PETA will teach, and all rational-minded people will eventually learn, that Ringling Brothers is an archaic embarrassment of an “entertainment” institution and someday the tent will permanently fold and its animals sent to sancturaries around the world. And, hopefully, Jerry Brown will be elected Governor of California and send Meg Whitman away in even more disgrace than she already is in.
I always say that starting work in psychotherapy and coaching begins with the HOPE, that the conditions that brought a client to me CAN get better, with work and the strategic application of various resources. Let’s hope the same holds true for broader socio-political issues. Until then, we can each rally our sense of Resilience and Resolve, which are key components of mental health.
And keep Revolution in our back pocket, just in case.