DIVIDED BRIEFING
Big Gay America

Nov. 11 - I apologized for this week's extended absence over on the blog, but for those of you who don't get over there much, let me apologize again: it's been a busy week. I still have a pretty big hole to dig myself out of, though, so it may be a while yet before I get caught up on my email.

Sucking Sound Update

A reliable source has passed on a story from a Danish woman (living in America, married to an American) who acknowledges the Danish suck, and who frequently finds herself doing it—even in America. The woman has a four-year-old son and recently caught herself doing it while in conversation with him.

The boy, who speaks Danish but obviously spends most of his time among English-speakers, froze in terror and stared at her. He was traumatized. He thought there was something wrong with her.

This is the most conclusive evidence I've seen so far that the Danish suck is not a genetic phenomenon. It also suggests that parental transmission is inadequate outside the Scandinavian environment.

The reasearch continues. . .

Big Gay America

A regular correspondent sent me a link to a recent column by Dan Savage, whose "Savage Love" is a pretty hilarious syndicated sex advice column. It was one of about five things I used to actually read on a regular basis in the Chicago Reader.

I like Dan Savage. I think he's funny. I've always known his politics were way off from mine, but what the hell—so are his sexual preferences.

Unfortunately, Mr. Savage appears to have surrendered to the politics of thoughtlessness. Here are his concluding remarks to a despondent reader who'd sought advice on surviving the next four years:

Provided we don't all leave, here's how we get through a second Bush term: For at least the next four years, American lefties, artists, and queers should not consider this land our land. It is not a land of opportunity that spreads from sea to shining sea. No, we live on a chain of islands, an archipelago, not a continent. Sane people live on our islands—New York, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Madison, Austin, Boston, and on and on, basically all the cities, in red states and blue, that voted for Kerry—and we may not be the majority right now, and it may feel like sea levels are rising, but hey, we own all the best real estate. We've got the cities, the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West Coast. And what have they got? The Wal-Marts, the West Virginias, the Alabamas, the McMansions, and the mega-churches. Fuck 'em. Let 'em have that crap. We'll fight the fuckers in two years during the midterm elections and take back Congress. And we'll take 'em on again in four years and take back the White House. In the meantime, enjoy island life.

There's a lot to be offended by here, but I've decided to stop being offended by anyone's political spitballs. Instead I'd like to take up the notion of America as an unfriendly environment to queers, since that seems to be bubbling up as one of the post-election memes.

Mr. Savage makes a good part of my point on his own, having acknowledged earlier in the column that:

David Sedaris is a national phenomenon. That ol' carpet muncher Ellen DeGeneres has a hit TV talk show. A pole smoker writes the most widely syndicated sex advice column in the country. Lupe Valdez, a lesbian, was elected sheriff in Dallas County, Texas, last Tuesday. And George W. Bush gave his acceptance speech standing onstage next to Dick Cheney's carpet-munching daughter and her bull-dyke girlfriend. (Let's pause here to imagine the pit in hell these two lesbos will roast in.) This shit just doesn't compute, America.

(And before I go any further, let me apologize for his language: "pole-smoker" should be hyphenated.)

Mr. Savage might also have noted that President Bush signed a bill on June 26, 2002, allowing death benefits to be paid to the domestic partners of firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty—the first permanent extension of a federal death benefit to same-sex couples ever. (More, it might be said, than Clinton ever did.) And he might have noted that it passed both houses of Congress comfortably.

But never mind that.

Here's a comprehensive list of the countries where gay marriage is legal as such:

Belgium
Netherlands

That's it. Here are all the places on the planet where you can form a legal homosexual "civil union:"

Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Iceland
Norway
Sweden
Switzerland
The Canadian province of Quebec
The Canadian province of Nova Scotia
The city of Buenos Aires, Argentina
The U.S. state of Vermont

So if you're gay and you're thinking of moving overseas, there's your short list. (Here's a pretty good summary of gay rights around the world.)

The fact is, homosexuals seem reasonably well integrated into the American mainstream. I don't think it's fair to blame Republican voters for the failure of those 11 gay marriage amendments, since the numbers don't bear it out. You can't blame Oregon on Republicans, that's for sure. I don't deny that Republicans as a bloc seem solidly opposed to gay marriage, but there are obviously a significant number of Democrats that share that opposition. The last Democratic president didn't extend any federal benefits to gay couples, whereas the current Republican president has. My point is, I don't think this is a right/left, red/blue issue. I think it's just a question of American culture in its entirety becoming gradually less homophobic over time.

(It's hard to look at American television and think America is become anything but downright homophiliac.)

My point is that America—from sea to shining sea—is as tolerant of homosexuality as just about any other nation on the face of the earth. If you're gay and you want to get out of America, I'm not sure you'll find anywhere that's more at peace with pole-smoking and carpet-munching.

What's more, the phenomenon of urban areas being more tolerant of "alternative lifestyles" than rural areas isn't limited to America. Copenhagen is by all accounts a very queer-friendly town, but I'm not sure a gay pride parade would go down in rural Jutland any better than it would in rural Alabama.

Homophobia is regrettable wherever it occurs—I just happen to think there's less of it in the United States than in most other countries.

So put that on your pole and smoke it.

* * *

November 11 is one of the twelve days of each calendar year I've come to love the most, since it's "11/11" in American and European notation. (It was confusing to me to have seen, for example, that the ninth of this month was "9/11" in Denmark.)

It's Veterans Day in the United States and Armistice Day for many of our World War II allies. I'd like to thank our veterans for having fought, and in many cases died, to preserve my liberties—and I'd like to apologizes for having made such foolish use of them.

Crime, Punishment, and the Letter H

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was born on November 11, 1821. Mr. Dostoyevsky is universally recognized as one of the pre-eminent authors of nineteenth-century Russia and perhaps one of the finest novelists of all time. On November 10, 1969, public television broadcast the Children's Television Network's first episode of Sesame Street.

I like to take advantage of this serendipitous occassion each year to by celebrating both of these cultural icons, who have more in common than you might think.

One of Mr. Dostoyevsky's most enduring characters is that of the angst-ridden student, Raskolnikov, who brutally murders an old woman with an axe in order to confirm his own intellectual freedom. One of the most popular characters on Sesame Street is Big Bird, an eight-foot-tall, easily flustered, flightless yellow bird of indeterminate species.

Mr. Dostoyevsky's novels deal with a broad range of complex issues such as as parricide, political philosophy, epilepsy, freedom of the will, suicide, theosophy, revolution, addiction, dissipation, forgiveness, and the legitimacy of absolutist rule. Sesame Street deals frequently with the alphabet and the numbers one through ten.

Mr. Dostoyevsky was once sentenced to death, blindfolded before a firing squad, then reprieved at the very last moment and exiled to Siberia, where he overcame great obstacles to produce some of his finest work. On Sesame Street, Ernie and Bert often bicker over household chores.

Mr. Dostoyevsky was a devout Russian Orthodox Catholic, and in The Idiot he explores the practical difficulties of living a life according to the principles of love, tolerance, and forgiveness set forth by Jesus Christ. Sesame Street features a grumpy green monster named Oscar, who lives in a garbage can and frequently breaks into song to proclaim his love of trash.

Perkin's Folly

In 1497, a young man claiming to be the son of Edward IV landed in Cornwall, England, and declared himself King Richard IV. Unfortunately England already a king, the young man wasn't really the son of Edward IV, and his name wasn't Richard. He was in fact Perkin Warbeck, and was therefore hanged to death on November 11, 1499.

Dostoyevsky shares his birthday with Leonardo DiCaprio (1974), Calista Flockhart (1964), Demi Moore (1962), Jonathan Winters (1925), Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922), Alger Hiss (1904), George Patton (1885), and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV (1050).

Today is Independence Day in Angola and Poland. Besides being Veterans Day in the United States, as mentioned at the top of today's briefing, it's also Armistice Day in Belgium, England, Britain, the British Commonwealth, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. It's the King's Birthday in Bhutan and Independence of Cartagena Day in Colombia, and Republic Day in Maldives.

© 2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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