Friday, March 25, 2011

Is Truth Wins Out Attempting to Silence Personal Choice?

       So I have been paying alot of attention lately to the Truth Wins Out website, and their arguments about how it was legitimate for them to fight for the Exodus International app. to be removed from the Apple store. Though I do feel that it is their right to fight for such a cause, as I have stated previously, I believe that this sets a dangerous precedent regarding individual choices.

       Interestingly, the gay rights blog AfterElton agrees with me on this issue, themselves saying that it was wrong for Apple to pull the app. Truth Wins Out responded in a less than legitimate fashion, and instead of using logic and reason, used the same old victim mentality that I have seen from them over the past year.

       After Elton deals handily with the concept of individual freedom of choice in downloading and paying for the app. As this is an argument many have made, myself included, it is one which I would expect a legitimate response from TWO about. But do they give us such a response? No, of course not, because in reality their is no response. The only response that I could find for this argument is a "social utility" response. That individual rights should be sacrificed because the overall purpose of the app. is negative and derogatory towards a minority group. But if this is the case, it still gets away from the actual issue, for it in no way affects individuals who are LGBT if they dont let themselves be affected by it. If I don't want to download the app, then I wont download the app. TWO is claiming that this is causing psychological harm and emotional trauma to those who do so...fair enough; but it is their choice to download the app and take on that psychological harm themselves. It should not be mine or Apples concern if they do so.

TWO then claims the following,

Oh, well, I don’t know how much time you spend covering things like gay teen suicide and the damage religious extremists do to gay teens and young adults, because I don’t read your blog, but we’re sort of the experts on that, seeing as it’s in our Mission Statement. So you might think it sounds “ironically familiar,” but whereas the Right doesn’t have the moral authority or the concrete evidence to show that they have a good reason to protect youth from gay people, we have both the moral authority and the concrete evidence, and the statistics on bullying and suicide, and a treasure trove of testimony and reporting on the effects of so-called “reparative therapy,” and unlike the Religious Right, we can back up our assertions with the findings of every single major medical and mental health organization in the United States.
        As stated above, this is completely missing the point! They are using LGBT suicides as justification for their cause, when in reality they have nothing to do with it. LGBT suicides are cause by unchosen external forces that have an impact upon peoples lives. This app. on the other hand, is a chosen download for an organization that the person who is downloading it knows about. Even with all of their evidence from medical and mental health organizations, that does not give them or Apple the legitimacy to tell someone what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot believe. That is the key point here, and that is why their is so much controversy over this issue. Instead of allowing its customer base to make their own personal decisions, Apple has decided to cave to political pressure and has removed an app. based upon personal choice.

       So what am I getting at here? Why is this important? Because somehow instead of allowing for freedom of choice in our society, we are starting to pigeonhole people into set constructs that we want them to be in. Ex-gays - those are illegitimate and the choices that they make are just as illegitimate. Though we may not agree that ex-gays exist, it is their right to choose to follow that path.  TWO does have some legitimate concerns, and ones that should be broadcast as well, but in no way should Apple have decided upon the course of action that they did. Apple has caved to the populous and silenced a section of people that mainstream society finds harmful.  Apple inherently told that section of society that their personal choices are not valid, and thus they should not try to make them. This is a very dangerous slope that we have started a decent upon, and one which I feel will harm both the religious and gay rights community in the end.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Breaking News!! 9th Circuit Denys Lifting of Stay!

This just in from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals...

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Notice of Docket Activity
The following transaction was entered on 03/23/2011 at 10:58:31 AM PDT and filed on 03/23/2011
Case Name:Kristin Perry, et al v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., et al
Case Number:10-16696
Docket Text:
Filed order (STEPHEN R. REINHARDT, MICHAEL DALY HAWKINS and N. RANDY SMITH) Having considered all of the factors set forth in Nken v. Holder, 129 S. Ct. 1749, 1756 (2009), and all of the facts and circumstances surrounding Plaintiffs’ motion to vacate the stay pending appeal, as well as the standard for vacatur set forth in Southeast Alaska Conservation Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 472 F.3d 1097, 1101 (9th Cir. 2006), we deny Plaintiffs’ motion at this time. [7691622] (KKW)
The following document(s) are associated with this transaction:
Document Description: Main Document
Original Filename: 10-16696 Order Denying Motion to Vacate Stay CIRC.pdf
Electronic Document Stamp:
[STAMP acecfStamp_ID=1106763461 [Date=03/23/2011] [FileNumber=7691622-0] [064e3099192dcfe6ea0f150ecee9ad74b262ea9d25e3b1907aedec1e1a2ecc965077db6207d8fe04be2b

CA9Doc 329

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Should Exodus Internationals Hatefull Speech Be Censored?

     As most are probably aware, Apple has come under fire from LGBT groups like Truth Wins Out over its acceptance of Exodus Internationals "gay cure" app. Why, these groups ask, is Apple encouraging the mental and social trauma that comes from the ex-gay myth and "therapy" associated with it? Though I agree with Truth Wins Out that reparative therapy is devastating to the psychological and emotional well being of LGBT people - I myself am a testament to that - I fundamentally reject their advocacy of complete censorship of individual personal choices.

    Truth Wins Out fails to realize that individuals are able to download this application of their own free will. It is a personal choice to participate in the activity. Yes I agree that there are some cases where their is no choice in the matter, for I myself was in this position, but in the vast majority of cases individuals are the ones who choose to participate and download the app.

    Why should a corporation dictate to someone what they should and should not do with their life? So what that the app. would cause those who choose to participate in it to become self-hating. The individuals themselves chose it and the company should respect that personal choice. I think that it is very disturbing when we say that it is legitimate for a company  to tell people about the validity of their own choices. In doing so, we are moving away from the concept of individual freedom and personal choices that the LGBT movement relies so heavily upon, and instead towards one where others dictate to us what is acceptable and not acceptable.

    Some may ask how this is consistent with my analysis of the Manhattan Declaration (Part 1 and Part 2) and the validity of Apples decision to not allow that app. There is two reasons why the two apps are different. First, as I outlined in my discussion on the Manhattan Declaration, there are specific references that could be considered hate speech, thus the validity of the app itself being on Apple's network should be under higher scrutiny. But as outlined above, this justification is not enough for the app. to not be allowed. The real reason why the Manhattan Declaration app removal was valid is because it is an app. whose basic design is to limit others individual choices and rights.  The Exodus International app. on the other hand, is not doing this. Instead its focus is on the individual and the internal sexual struggle that everyone has to deal with before coming out. If someone wants to suppress that because of religious reasons, more power too them, for they should have that choice.

     I am in no way agreeing with Exodus' app; I in fact find it reprehensible. I have experienced the self-hatred that exists in attempting to change your sexuality. But the legitimacy of reparative therapy is not where this discussion should lie. Instead, the question I posit asks whether we should advocate that a company deny an individual the right to live the way they want. Though my position is clear, I would be interested in hearing y'all's thoughts on this issue.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The National Post Coming to the Aid of LGBT's?

    Though I do not read everything that the National Post publishes, I do on occasion read articles of theirs. Imagine my surprise today when, knowing the websites conservative bent, they published an article written by their editor, agreeing with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporations "censorship" of the term Same-Sex Attraction Disorder (SSAD). 

     There has been alot of controversy lately on the legitimacy of ex-gay reparative therapy. With Lisa Lings latest pro-Exodus International fluff piece and Apples approval of the Exodus International App for the Iphone, Exodus and reparative therapy have been in the spotlight of both the gay community and the mainstream media. It is with this backdrop in which I view the National Post's analysis of the legitimacy of the CBC's policy. Though I am very hesitant to agree that the content of ones public speech should be censored, the National Post gives a very good reason for why the CBC's censorship is actually good. 

They say
The first is that — on an objective, scientific level — the notion that “therapy” offers a “cure” for homosexuality is simply preposterous: Everything I know about such therapeutic programs suggests they are acting camps for sad, guilty people who want to pretend away their biologically programmed sexual instincts for the sake of their religious beliefs. (As a friend of mine once put it: If you really believe that gay-reversal therapy works, ask yourself this question — ‘Would you ever let your daughter marry a “straight” “graduate” from such a therapy program?’) And so putting aside the offensiveness of McDonald’s remarks, they strike me as outright pseudo-scientific gibberish. In a free society, people should be free to spout all the pseudo-scientific gibberish they want, of course — but they have no right to use a media company’s bandwidth for this purpose.
The second, related, objection is that hate speech is hate speech. I happen not to be a fan of strict hate speech laws. But the fact is that they exist; and are embedded in the terms-of-use policies in all publicly disseminated media; and so long as that is the case, they should be applied consistently. If we would never tolerate the dissemination of comments that suggest blackness is a “disorder,” or that ethnic Jews suffer from some sort of “disorder,” why would we permit the same label to be used with gays? (McDonald would counter that sexual orientation isn’t a biological characteristic — it’s something we freely choose, to which I say: see above.)
McDonald lists off all sorts of religious authorities that declare homosexuality to be a defect. But so what? Racist bigotry isn’t any more acceptable from Christians who cite the Curse of Ham in Genesis 9:20-27. So why should homophobes get a free pass when they cite other portions of the Bible — or Koran?
Though they make a good case for the CBC's censorship, I will still have to mull the National Posts reasoning over. For I mostly find myself agreeing with John Stuart Mill in his analysis on free speech. He claims that speech, no matter how harmful, hateful, or bigoted, should be tolerated by society. This speech, he says,  serves two purposes. It first allows us to see the hatred of others, and therefore strive to not be like them. Second, it allows us to rebuild our own thoughts on the subject - for when we dont have to argue our beliefs, we take them for granted and don't think about them. 

Even though I will have to think about the National Posts column, overall I am pleased that they have come out in favor of the LGBT community in this instance. It does show that as LGBT people are treated with dignity and respect within a community, those within said community will eventually come to recognize their hatred. 
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