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Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Parents “Surprise” Gambling Experience



My Mother and Her Trophies



Whaley Family 1954
Robert Whaley, my father was in the Air Force so we moved a lot when I was young.  In the summer of 1954 he was transferred to Yokota Air Force Base in Japan, where we would live for three years without returning to the States.  I turned 11 that September and was 13 when we returned in 1957, and it was an interesting immersion in a completely different world.  All of us change dramatically as we morph into teenagers, and for me it was like coming to life in Japan and not quite knowing who or what I was.  The United States seemed a mythical land which I only vaguely remembered, and appeared to be some sort of paradise for kids my age.  At the base PX I would buy, say, a Superman comic book and see advertised in it all sorts of similar comic books that were not for sale at that PX.  Did American kids really have the ability to go into a drug store in the U.S.A. and walk up to a display of all these comic books, readily available for purchase?  Wow! 




When we did return to America I remember my sister Mary Beth (two years younger) and I wandering around downtown Seattle with our eyes wide at the riches so casually on display for ordinary people.  In Japan we hadn’t even had television—just movies and radio rebroadcasts of popular shows of the day.


My Mother and Sister in Japan


For my parents Japan was a game changer too.  Both of them were athletic—indeed Dad had flirted with the possibility of a professional baseball career earlier in his life as a catcher, but threw his arm out when exploring that world.  He was a pretty good golfer too, but my mother, Lenore Whaley, was not a serious golfer until we moved to Japan.  There she learned that a young Japanese maid would come in Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 p.m. for $10.00 a month (remember, readers, that prices were very different then—it was impossible to force more than $3 worth of gasoline inside those large American cars in 1954!). That’s when Mom became serious at both bowling and golf. Before we left Japan in 1957, she bowled the highest score a woman ever bowled in Japan to that date: 270 (for which she rolled seven strikes in a row!). Dad was her teacher, but she was an apt student and very, very good at whatever she tried [for their amusing softball adventure, see “My Competitive Parents,” January 20, 2010); http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-competitive-parents.html]


As I said, Dad was a good golfer, but Mom, compared to other women, was excellent, and the two of them were soon playing matches against any two men on Yokota Air Force Base and nearby similar bases. They almost always won these matches, and Dad began betting small amount on the game by making a bet with the other two golfers as to which would be the winning pair.  Evidentially the amount escalated over the course of a couple of years of such competitions, and therein lies this story.



Years later, when I was in law school, there was some event for which I and my fellow students were gathered in the apartment I shared with two other students, all of us there with our dates, dressed up (I forget why), and Mom and Dad were, for some reason, also present. Dad, ever the storyteller, got to discussing these long-ago golf matches, a twinkle in his eye. “Doug’s mother,” he told the assembled young people, “knew there was betting going on, but she didn’t know the amount.  When we reached the green at the final hole one of the other golfers casually mentioned to here that a bet of $400.00 depended on her making a downhill putt, about nine feet from the hole. “She was both shocked and furious,” Dad continued his tale, “and while I was hurrying around moving leaves out of the path of her putt and making soothing noises to calm her down, she hit the putt, I jumped out of the way, it plopped in the hole!  We won the money!”





Having told this story Dad then paused and smiled. “Now you think I’d be pleased she made that putt, wouldn’t you?”  We all nodded and his smile broadened. “That shows you’ve never been married. She spent it six times.”




I heard him tell this story a number of times and it was always the same, but what it really meant didn’t register on me until recently.  I got to thinking about the amounts and what they meant in the mid-fifties.  I looked this up on the internet.  In 1956 the value of $100 would be worth $900.87 in 2017.  This surprised me greatly.  It meant that a $400 bet was the equivalent in today’s money of $3,603.46!  Yikes!  That was a lot of money for a couple with two children living on the salary of an Air Force major!   They must have been living much better for awhile—at least until Mom started spending the money over and over again.

Dad did mention that this incident was the end of their gambling on their prowess on the greens.          


Lenore and Robert Relaxing

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Related Posts:

“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-guide-to-best-of-my-blog.html

“My Competitive Parents,” January 20, 2010); http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-competitive-parents.html]

“Doug, Please Get My Clubs From the Trunk,” August 20, 2010; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/08/doug-please-get-my-clubs-from-trunk.html


“Put-Out at Home Plate,” February 14, 2010; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/02/put-out-at-home-plate.html

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Embracing Michael Pence’s Coming Presidency







When Mike Pence was the Governor of Indiana he made a major embarrassment of himself in 2015  by pushing a “Religious Freedom” bill though the state legislature that allowed discrimination against LGBT people if based on a sincerely held religious belief.  He happily signed the bill into law in the presence of an invited group of religious leaders.






Of course such a bill means that hatred of gays was now legal in Indiana.  All you had to do was claim “God made me do it” and you could bar the door to gays who wanted the services of your business, or to rent your apartment, or to be hired at your organization.  Moreover this animosity against gays was part of a long held belief that Mike Pence has maintained throughout his political life.  Whatever the far right embraces, he likes it, urges it, and pushed its agenda both when he was a Congressman, and as a governor when he signed bills into law.  He is the darling of the NRA, hates legislation restricting tobacco (“Smoking doesn’t kill,” Mike has stubbornly insisted), dismisses climate change as fantasy, loves charter schools, and has said that the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare was as bad as the 9/11 attacks (though he later apologized for that absurdity).  In Congress and as governor he has worked hard to abolish any right to abortion.  He signed into law a bill that would have made women who aborted fetuses bury or cremate the remains, and made it a crime for doctors to assist in an abortion if the woman’s stated reason was a disability in the fetus—a law later struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge.  Michael Pence doesn’t believe in evolution, favors using coal as a major energy source, and signed a bill that forbade Indiana municipalities to raise the minimum wage above the federal level.  Mike sums himself up as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order." However when he had the Indiana legislation pass his Religious Freedom To Discriminate Act he didn’t get away with it.  The reaction from the rest of the country astounded him.  Quickly companies pulled out of deals to open up shop in Indiana, sports organizations threatened to move big events elsewhere, major celebrities went to social media and whipped up anti-Indiana activity, other states forbade governmental travel to Indiana.  Faced with this tsunami the Indianapolis Star (itself a quite conservative newspaper) published a front page banner headline stating simply “FIX THIS NOW.”  This sent Pence and the state legislature into full retreat, and led to the passage of a revised version of the bill which more or less restored the status quo prior to the original legislative sin.






I myself am a native Hoosier, having been born in southern Indiana, the fifth generation of Whaleys to be Indiana bred.  I haven’t lived there except for the fifth grade and when I taught for five years at the Indiana Indianapolis Law School in the early 70’s, but I have many relatives and friends in the state, and they’ve informed me that Mike Pence was not a popular governor and was facing an iffy reelection bid this past year had he not thrown his lot in with Donald Trump by becoming his Vice Presidential nominee.


Once Trump picked this unknown man from the crowd of pretenders to the second spot I assumed he’d be every bit as pathetic as Trump himself, and for awhile that appeared true.  His first appearance with Trump on 60 Minutes was embarrassing as poor Pence wasn’t allowed to do more than smile and nod while Trump bloviated happily about himself and how wise he was for choosing this second-rater.  But my opinion of Pence began to change during the Vice Presidential Debate he had with Senator Tim Kaine.  In that debate Kaine appeared both overeager and overprepared, while Pence was surprisingly calm and—to my annoyance and chagrin—quite intelligent and articulate.  Hmm.  He was not quite the dummy I’d assumed.


But Pence’s opinions on important issues I cared about were just as bad as always, so I stopped thinking about him, concentrating instead on the manifesting horror that was Donald Trump extraordinaire.






Like most everyone it never occurred to me that Trump would actually win the presidency, and on election night I was one of millions who sat staring at the TV, stupefied with shock.  At the end of a month or so of his presidency I’m daily slammed against the wall by his inane and dangerous deeds, thoughts, and mindless tweets.  My very liberal husband foams at the mouth two or more times a day as he contemplates Trump’s latest idiocy.  It’s no small fancy to imagine a situation in which Trump feels himself forced to pull out the nuclear football, examine it curiously on his lap, and then push one or two buttons, blowing us all up, all over some personal indignity for which a tweet won’t have quite the oomph he needs.





The hope many of us feel deep down inside is the possibility—hell, the likelihood!—that Trump will make a major mistake and do something that he can justify in his own mind but which is, oops, illegal under the current laws of the land.  When that happens—and who would take a bet that it won’t?—the impeachment proceedings will start, he’ll fight, and he’ll lose.  Out he’ll go.  The first President of the United States to be impeached and removed by trial in the Senate.






Or—dreadful to think about, but all too possible—some deranged individual decides to join the Presidential Assassins Club and takes Trump out in a clever way the Secret Service didn’t anticipate.


But now we come to the point of this post.  In the event that Donald John Trump is unable or prevented from completing his presidency Michael Pence would become president.  When this is mentioned—and people are talking about it—a number of Trump haters will shake their head and just say, “But Pence is no better, so it’s all the same.”


And that’s just wrong. 


Donald Trump isn’t like any other president we’ve had in our history.  The other 43 [yes, 43: Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th president] were sane, responsible, and bound by at least some sense of ethics.  Trump is an ego-maniac with no exposure to history, literature, religion, common decency, or empathy.  He has the attention span of a puppy and the self-control of a two-year old.  Lately he’s been calling for more nukes!  Think of that!  More nukes!  Who else on the planet thinks that’s a good idea?  It’s been said that doing so is comparable to two men waist-deep in gasoline arguing about who has more matches!






Oh, I’d love to be wrong, but I think that there is a serious—and I mean SERIOUS—chance that Donald Trump will do something that causes world-ending bombs to go off.  He could play “mine is bigger than yours” with Putin, or dare Kim Jung Un to fire a ballistic missile at California, or _________ (fill in the blank with some other act of madness).


I’d never enter a voting booth and pull the lever for Mike Pence as President of the United States.  He’s against most everything I stand for.  But that's not the question.


I don’t think he’d be a dangerous president.  I just think he’d be a lousy one we’d replace fast at the next election.


Between that choice and the nightmare we currently have, give me President Michael Richard Pence, 46th President of the United States. 


I’ll take him tomorrow over what we have today. 






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Related Posts:
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-guide-to-best-of-my-blog.html

“A Gay Hoosier Lawyer Looks at Indiana’s RFRA: The Religious Bigot Protection Act,” March 30, 2015;http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-gay-hoosier-lawyer-looks-at-indianas.html

“Trump's VP Choice: Introducing Sarah Palin . . . uh . . . Mike Pence!” July 18, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/07/trumps-vp-choice-introducing-sarah.html

“Careful What You Wish For: Making Trump an Illegitimate President,” January 20, 2017; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2017/01/careful-what-you-wish-for-making-trump.html

“President Preposterous: Donald Takes the Helm,” November 14, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/11/president-preposterous-donald-takes-helm_14.html

“Calm Yourself: What Trump Can and Cannot Do About LGBT Rights,” November 16, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/11/calm-yourself-what-trump-can-and-cannot_16.html

“Fake News You Might Like to Read,” February 17, 2017; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2017/02/fake-news-you-might-like-to-read.html


Friday, February 17, 2017

Fake News You Might Like to Read






I’d like to offer some minor relief for the hard pressed liberal community, which includes my much-oppressed husband, David Vargo, suffering greatly from the excesses of the Trump Administration (not yet a month old).  I present for your consideration “FAKE NEWS FOR LIBERALS!”  Just pretend these news snippets are real and easing of your stress will follow immediately.  Let’s get started.


1.  Conway and Spicer Discovered in Love Nest


            This one is a shocker!  Though both are, in their words,“happily married” to others, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Donald Trump, and Sean Spicer, Trump’s Press Secretary, were photographed in a compromising assignation at the Lincoln Memorial at 3 a.m. last Tuesday evening.  (See photo below)  Outraged, they’ve both denied they are the couple in the photograph.  “I’m super faithful to my wife,” Spicer said,” and, besides, I don’t like blondes.”  For her part Conway asserted that on the night in question she was out of town, visiting an aunt in Alternative, Iowa.


[Click to enlarge]


            When Donald Trump was asked about the assignation he replied he didn’t know if it was true or not, but “Why shouldn’t they be hot for each other?  They’re both very sexy people, though not, of course, as sexy as I am.” 





2.  Michelle Obama Throws Her Hat in the Ring





            Though she’d stated she had no interest in public office as recently as the beginning of 2017, Michelle Obama fired up the Democratic Party this morning by announcing she’s forming a campaign committee to explore a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.  “Every day I hear more news about what Donald Trump has done in the White House and, frankly, it makes my blood boil!” she explained.  Excited supporters are forming their own committees, state by state, and donations are already pouring in though it’s not clear how this is being done or where to send the millions of dollars already promised.






            When Barack Obama was quizzed by reporters as to what he thought about his wife’s decision, he smiled broadly and declared that he’d love to return to the White House as “First Gentleman.”  He added that he “always went along with Michelle when she decides to do something, so I’ll follow her lead.”






3.  Korean Leader Dead!




            In shocking news it was just revealed that yesterday North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was assassinated by his own troops who suddenly attacked the reviewing stand in which he was seated and hacked his body to pieces.  When the soldiers were done they quickly took over all government buildings and declared their intent to petition South Korea to amalgamate the two countries into one, to be called simply “Korea.”  When the leader of the triumphant troops was asked why they had killed Kim Jong-un he replied that “He was too ugly a person to live, and we got really, really tired of being forced to smile, applaud enthusiastically, and goosestep in tight formations while starving.” 

            In keeping with the tradition Kim Jong-un began when he had his own uncle murdered, the dead leader’s body was fed to a pack of dogs.  There will be no funeral.


4.  Donald Trump’s Obituary

            Solemn news.  Just as this blog post was going to press Donald Trump died unexpectedly when he fell from the Truman balcony of the White House to his death this afternoon.  Apparently he screamed all the way down, so it is unlikely this was a suicide.  Beside him on the balcony at the moment of his unfortunate fall were his wife Melania, his young son Barron, and Vice President Pence.  Police are interrogating them at this time.  Strangely they all appear unwilling to cooperate fully in the investigation, claiming they didn’t see anything.  “He was here one second, then he wasn’t,” was all a dry-eyed Melania could contribute.  Barron was so overcome by emotion that he could express his grief only by uncontrolled laughter.

            Vice President Pence will be sworn in at the police station, reliable sources state.

            A number of tourists captured the President’s deadly fall and snapped photos of our leader’s demise.  Here's one:



[Click to enlarge]



Well, that’s all the news that isn’t.  But one might wish some of it was.  Pick your favorite.







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Related Posts:
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-guide-to-best-of-my-blog.html

“Careful What You Wish For: Making Trump an Illegitimate President,” January 20, 2017; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2017/01/careful-what-you-wish-for-making-trump.html

“President Preposterous: Donald Takes the Helm,” November 14, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/11/president-preposterous-donald-takes-helm_14.html

“Calm Yourself: What Trump Can and Cannot Do About LGBT Rights,” November 16, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/11/calm-yourself-what-trump-can-and-cannot_16.html


           



Friday, January 20, 2017

Careful What You Wish For: Making Trump an “Illegitimate President”





I’m writing this on Friday, January 20th, the day Donald John Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.  That fact has caused a lot of anxiety in this country.


There’s a great following suddenly for the idea that Representative John Lewis so casually mentioned in a recent NBC interview with Chuck Todd in which he identified Donald Trump as not a “legitimate president” because his election was corrupted by Russian thumbs leaning heavily on the electoral scale.  That’s a very seductive idea for those of us (me included) who are disturbed by the idea of the United States of America being led by someone who has the impulses of a five year old and the attention span of a puppy. 





“OH HELL, YES!” I want to shout.  If only enough people can rise up and proclaim Donald Trump’s so-called “presidency” not real, then—hallelujah!—our national nightmare is over!!!  We aren’t, after all, going to all be merely collateral damage as he alienates first this group, and the next group, and ruins health care, and civil rights, and destroys the environment beyond saving, and pokes other countries until they bristle at his hamhanded attempts to bully them until he’s finally forced to sit the nuclear football down on his lap and begin experimenting with the buttons.






I think all of those things are very, very possible.  The coming nightmare is no dream at all.


But . . .  (deep breath here) . . . but I also think that what John Lewis said and that others are so anxious to embrace is far more dangerous than the presidency of Donald John Trump.  Saying Trump is “illegitimate” is easy; implementing the idea is impossible.


Bear with me as I explain why. 


In the bestselling book “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, the author draws a distinction between “facts” and “myths.”  A tree is a fact, but when I say I live in Columbus, Ohio, in the United States of America, that is, in his words, a myth.  Columbus is just a story the people who live around here tell ourselves, but if we quit believing in the City of Columbus, it would disappear.  Yes, the buildings would still be standing, but the ideas that makes it “Columbus” would not.  This is equally true of the “State of Ohio” and the country called the “United States of America.”  That country, in turn, bases its existence on a government run by our Constitution, which is the bedrock of the whole system.  That document is also just a story that we all agree to believe in, or, perhaps more accurately, a contract which we have impliedly made.


Donald Trump has been elected through a process dictated by that Constitution, and today, in front of the major government officials (including his outgoing predecessor) and with the whole world watching, he swore an oath to uphold that Constitution.  This peaceful transfer of power is an American invention, a major development in the history of the world, something now imitated in country after country.


But the whole thing only works if we all agree that it works.  If Lewis’ view prevails and Trump’s presidency is “illegitimate,” well . . . then, what?  The Constitution has made him our president.  The only path it provides for his removal is impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  During the next four years he may commit such crimes, but until he does and that process is triggered, he is still the president.


What would Lewis and adherents of his view have us do?  There is no mechanism for his removal other than impeachment.  Should we nonetheless ignore the Constitution—quit “believing” in it?  Storm the White House and take Trump out by force?  A pitched battle that would pit anti-Trumpers against pro-Trumpers (and the United States military)?  Anarchy?  Civil war? 


Does anyone . . . anyone  . . . think that’s a good idea?








John Lewis is an admirable man, one of the greats of the civil rights movement, and his words should count for something when he speaks so seriously.  But the idea that we can just deem our president “illegitimate” and therefore not recognize him as the head of our government is also a rejection of that government.  It took us a long time to create the world’s first sustainable democracy, but if enough people stop believing in how it works, it will cease to exist.  In the words of King Lear “That way madness lies.”








I hate Donald Trump.  I think he’s likely to quickly prove to be the worst president this country has ever had, and that it was a major mistake to put him in office.  But he’s in that office now.  He’s the President of the United States, and it’s important that that fact be clear in all our minds, like it or not.  Trump is my president and, if you’re a citizen of the United States, yours too.  If you’re going to battle the asshole, do it legally.  Protest his policies and actions, not his office.  I’ll join you in that.








Upside Down Flag: Symbol of Distress


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Related Posts:
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-guide-to-best-of-my-blog.html

“President Preposterous: Donald Takes the Helm,” November 14, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/11/president-preposterous-donald-takes-helm_14.html

“Calm Yourself: What Trump Can and Cannot Do About LGBT Rights,” November 16, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/11/calm-yourself-what-trump-can-and-cannot_16.html





Saturday, January 14, 2017

I’ve Published an Article!







I’m pleased to say that I’ve had a small article published in a magazine, and have just received a copy of the relevant issue in the mail.  The magazine is Free Inquiry, February/March 2017, Vol. 37, No. 2.  The article is at page 54 in a segment labeled “Humanism at Large,” and is entitled “Creating the Bible: Water Into Wine.”  This piece of whimsy, taken from a prior blog post of mine, speculates how the authors of the Bible could have come up with the famous story from John 2 in which Jesus goes to a wedding and helps the host out with a wine shortage.


I was thrilled when Tom Flynn, the editor of Free Inquiry, told me he would publish this piece.  The little blurb about me at the end mentions that I am the author of an atheist thriller “Imaginary Friend,” the novel I published some years ago and that has sold rather well.  It’s available on Amazon, and the first three chapters of that work can be read in the blog posts mentioned below.


In any event, here is a jpg of the article as published (click to enlarge).  My very similar blog post can be found at “Creating the Bible: Wine Into Water,” April 7, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/creating-bible-water-into-wine.html.






I'm particularly pleased by the artwork of the wine skin and grapes added to my little story.  It's perfect!





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Related Posts:
“Explosion at Ohio Stadium” (Chapter One of “Imaginary Friend”), October 9, 2010; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/10/explosion-at-ohio-stadium.html
“Escape From Ohio Stadium” (Chapter Two), November 2, 2010; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/11/escape-from-ohio-stadium.html
“Open Mike, Insert Foot,” (Chapter 3), November 9, 2010; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/11/open-mike-insert-foot.html

“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-guide-to-best-of-my-blog.html

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Questions To Ask a Homophobe







Socrates----Jay Lawrence Westbrook
Socrates arrived at the truth by asking those he was conversing with a series of questions until all was revealed.  Using the Socratic method in my law school classrooms for the last 47 years has been good training for arriving at the same goal: finding the best answer.  But above that, when I was in law school myself, my roommate was the great Jay Lawrence Westbrook, now a Professor of Law at the University of Texas and a world renowned figure in international bankruptcy law.  When I was in my 20s he taught me a fundamental rule of arguments: at the very heart of any dispute is one central fact of disagreement.  One.  Everything else is just noise—static.  Therefore to arrive at the crux of what’s really going on you have to get rid of the many things that are not at issue and find that one thing that is.


Years ago when I was teaching law full time at OSU I gave a noon brown bag talk at the school on the issue of gay marriage.  When I asked for questions, one student (who I knew and liked from my Commercial Law class) raised his hand, and said, “Well, Professor, it all sounds good but you’ll never convince me that gay marriage is right.”  Hmm.  I started using Jay’s process to locate the one basic thing he and I disagreed on.  Was marriage important to society?  Yes, of course, he very much thought so.  Is it in society’s interest to stabilize loving relationships? Yes.  In this manner we explored the very real problems that unmarried couples can have (losing the house to inheritance taxes, for example, no visitation rights in hospitals, being cut off from attending the partner’s funeral, not getting health benefits, legal difficulties arising from the children the couples have), and I realized that the student was getting closer to having to say what was really our real point of disagreement: he didn’t think homosexuals should have the same rights as other people. Why not?  Okay, he “just didn’t like homosexuals,” he finally admitted.   Ah, but why not?  More questions brought us to the  real problem: the thought of gay sex repulsed him. Normally I wouldn’t push a student to such a statement, but in a public discussion of gay marriage where he’d challenged me, I did make him say it aloud. As he did so he was glowering at me, furious, and perhaps I should be sorry I’d forced him to paint himself into that uncomfortable corner. Hmm. At least his admission was now on the table for all to stare at and ponder, and the lecture on gay marriage had revealed the very core of the dispute. For how many lectures is that true?


I did give him one small comfort.  I told him I knew some gay people who were themselves repulsed by the idea of what straights do in bed  (“Eew!  A man touching a woman’s privates!”).  If these heterophobic gays were in the voting majority and thus made the rules, would prohibitions against straight marriages be permissible?  He didn’t comment, our session timed out, and we all went off to other classes.


For two decades I joined the front ranks battling for gay rights in Columbus, Ohio, and those experiences were most informative.  On multiple occasions in the 80’s and 90’s I was on late night call-in radio shows for periods that were sometimes four hours long!  The callers were often supportive of gay rights, but the really interesting calls were from people who loathed homosexuals and were willing to take me on.  Sometimes (rarely) callers were themselves trained in these battles and thus wouldn’t really argue at all.  They’d just mouth slogans, and no interchange, no dialogue, no movement was possible.  But mostly those who called the station were sincere people whose dislike of homosexuals was based on religious training or common social assumptions (“gays molest children”), and if they’d talk with me some progress could be made. 


The same bald assertions and false premises came up over and over.  Here’s the list and how I’ve learned to respond:


1.  Being Gay Is a Choice


Gays all know this one is wrong.  Ask my husband, for example.  He was routinely bullied and beaten up more or less every day in both elementary and high school, being called “faggot” as early as the first grade.  “They didn’t know what it meant and I didn’t know what it meant,” he says, “but we all knew it was something impossibly bad to be.”  Did this gentle, unassuming boy choose such a horrific life?  Are all LGBT people bonkers because they too made such a ludicrous choice?





When people assert this “choice” in our conversations, I smile and say to them, “Oh, yes!  And I’m sure you remember that big day, when you were young, and you thought carefully about whether you should be attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex, and—after much give and take—chose to be straight, right?”  Invariably they look confused or bemused, and shake their head.  There was no such day in their (or anyone’s) memory.





You can choose to act on your sexual orientation or to hide it, but you can’t choose the orientation itself.  As we grow up at some point we look at the people around us, and the ones who attract us sexually aren’t necessarily the ones our parents would vote for.  This is true of straights as well as gays.  Desire cannot be dictated.


  
2.  Gays Can Change and Become Straight If They Really Want To


On some of those call-in radio shows my callers would claim that they used to be gay but now were straight.  The law professor in me would go to work.  "You used to be gay, but now you're married and having sex only with your wife?"  "Yes," one male caller replied, pride in his voice.  "And you never have homosexual thoughts—and before you answer, be aware that if you lie even slightly about this, you will deceive hundreds of men in your position who are desperate to change and depend on you to say—if it's true—that you never ever even slightly think about gay sex."  Long pause.  "Well, yes, I guess I still think about it sometimes."  "And sometimes masturbate thinking those thoughts?"  Another pause.  "Sometimes."  "Well, if it's still that important to your pleasure, how do you satisfy yourself with your wife?"  At this point one of the callers frankly confessed, "I pretend she's a man."


I also ask straights who assert gays can change "What would you do if you were a homosexual?"  "I wouldn't be a homosexual," is the usual response.  "How would you avoid it if you discovered that in spite of your upbringing, in spite of your religion, in spite of your strongest desire to change, you were a homosexual like it or not?"  "I'd get help from my pastor or a doctor."  When told that this supposed help doesn't work (with offers of books and websites to prove it), the person I'm talking to changes the subject.  I just have to be wrong.  I just have to be.  The bible commands that I be wrong.  Surely religion or medicine or something can produce the magic pill to be taken twice a day until heterosexuality occurs.  Surely.  Because if I'm right and change isn't possible, then whomever I'm talking to has to rethink their position, and most people would rather slaughter hogs than do that.





As I've mentioned before on this blog [see Related Posts below] I have a standing offer of $5000 to be donated to the charity of choice of any offeree who can produce five men who used to be gay but by the efforts of whatever organization or process can now be tested and found to be totally heterosexual.  After decades of the Ex-Gay movement and the steady efforts of many “reparative therapy” psychologists you'd think there would be thousands of men who would so qualify, but so far not a single effort has been made to collect my $5000.  The reason is clear: you can't change gay people into straight people, and these efforts always fail.  Always. 


All the science, all the experience, all the history, shows that trying to change gays to straights has no more success than would trying to change straights into gays.  It’s a matter of genetics and that’s that.  Exodus International, which for 37 years was a Christian organization that purported to cure gays, closed its doors in 2013, apologizing to all those who had trusted it during its existence, and acknowledging that no one’s sexual orientation was ever altered by its attempts, of which there were thousands.  Ex-gay conversion doesn’t work, and even leading psychiatrists like Robert Spitzer, who once championed reparative therapy, have quit and themselves apologized for a practice that is now condemned by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association.


If you, reader, are a straight person who has never had any homosexual urges or experiences, ask yourself this: do you believe that there is—out there somewhere—a process or treatment that you could undergo that would successfully strip you of your interest in the opposite sex and replace it with a carnal desire only for your own sex?  When I recently asked a very straight male friend this question, he laughed.  “Hell, no!” he said.  “It’s women all the way!”






3.  Being Gay Is Evil


One of the happy things about the success of gay rights in this country is that this veniality idea is dying out.  Yes, there are religions whose books say gays are evil, but we don’t run this country based on religious prejudices.  Those same books condemn all sorts of things we find perfectly acceptable.  Before we prohibit some lifestyle in the United States it has to produce major unacceptable behavior. 


But when gays get married, nothing happens to the rest of the country except there are more weddings and married couples who behave more or less like married couples always have.  Lots of straights go to gay weddings these days, and the economic boom from this is great.  When gays no longer get fired from their jobs because of gayness the result is that more people are concentrating on their work and not on private bedroom behavior.  If gays now can serve in the military, well, so what?  They are just soldiers/sailors/pilots like everyone else.  When I stand in front of my classroom and teach Commercial Law, the students all know I’m gay (my husband and I routinely throw a party for the entire class), but that has nothing to do with the importance of the Uniform Commercial Code and the grade they will get by understanding that marvelous statute.


Study hard---it's heavily tested on the bar exam.


Granting gays the same rights as straights hasn’t produced chaos.  The result has been . . . boring.  How very distressing this obvious fact must be to homophobes!  As they more and more lose this battle, it must be more and more embarrassing for anyone to be (publicly) homophobic.  Friends don’t let friends be so “last century.”  Pat them on the shoulder and say, “There, there . . . keep it to yourself.”


“Gay rights” is a nonstarter as a problem.  Let’s just drop the whole non-issue and move on to something really worth worrying about like [fill in the blank yourself:] _______________. 


There are real problems in this world.  Let’s try solving those.






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Related Posts:

“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-guide-to-best-of-my-blog.html  

“How To Change Gay People Into Straight People,” September 20, 2010; 
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-change-gay-people-into-straight.html

"Choose To Be Gay, Choose To Be Straight," January 25, 2011;
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2011/01/choose-to-be-gay-choose-to-be-straight.html

"Going Undercover at an Ex-Gay Meeting," September 19, 2011, http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2011/09/going-undercover-at-ex-gay-meeting.html

“Disowning Your Gay Children,” October 9, 2013; 
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/10/disowning-your-gay-children.html 

How To Cure Homophobia,” July 30, 2015; 

“A Homophobic Organization Throws in the Towel: Goodbye to Exodus International,” June 21, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-homophobic-organization-throws-in.html