Monday, February 22, 2010

The Argument

Gay Conservatives, Pink PistolsThere is an argument that I have long wanted to make to conservatives in America. It is a tricky, narrow argument, but one I think I can win if presented correctly. My main point is that the demonization of gays in the conservative movement, real or perceived, is not only very ugly but that it is also extremely counter productive to the basic goals of conservatism. I don't think there are many who call themselves conservatives who would disagree that the main goals of the movement should be: a limited federal government that lives within its constitutional framework, expansive individual liberty (both political and economic), and a strong national defense. I'm going to explain why it is essential that we change our rhetoric, and policy proposals concerning gays if we want any chance of success over the next few decades.

First off, I want everyone to consider who gays actually are. Being gay is a sexual preference. It is not, and should not be linked to any political ideology. Sure, liberals like to throw people into groups, pander to them, and play them against each other for political gain and to form new dependable voting blocks. Liberals don't succeed at this because because of merit, they succeed because we let them, because we aren't making a better more principled argument. As conservatives, and as individualists we are better than that. Or at least we should be. Gay people need not be liberal ideologues. They are more often than not these days upwardly mobile professionals who pay their taxes and own property. They are people who should have no love of big government, except for the fact that the same people who continuously embrace them, and offer them equality are themselves proponents of big government.

So there is no rational reason why gays should be a monolithic vote for liberals. Do we really think gays are that irrational as a group? I sure don't. The fact is, I can't blame them. When conservatives end up looking bad, it is usually when they step outside of their own ideology and use government power to try to reshape the world as they wish it were. We all want good schools, strong families, and economic success, but why would we as conservatives use unconstitutional government power to achieve these goals? We know that liberal micromanagement of the economy and schools always ends in disaster... so why would we ever support any federal legislation that micromanages peoples personal lives? Why would we ever support a federal "protection" of marriage act, or a anti same sex marriage constitutional amendment? Why would we even stand in the way of same sex marriage or civil unions on the state level? When you are going down to the court house to get your marriage certificate, don't fool yourself, that is just a social contract. The real marriage happened at your church among your friends, family, and your god.

Conservatives get bashed a lot in the public space for being harsh and cold-hearted. This is purely perception most of the time. We believe what we believe because we know our values will lead to more opportunity, freedom, and success for anyone willing to work or pursue their dreams. Liberals offer a lot of arguments based on emotions, and policy proposals that rarely achieve their goals... but all this "well meaning" talk can lead to a huge gap when it comes to public perception. I'm not saying we can solve this by ceasing to speak against gays, but we might be able to close the gap a bit. Basically, taking gays out of the equation won't only get conservatives a few more gay votes, but more importantly changing our perception might open the door for others to consider themselves conservative.

Another point I want to make is a little distasteful to me, but I think it is still valid. I'm not a homophobic guy, but I do recognize that others have stronger feelings than myself towards gays in our country. I also realize that I need not talk others out of their views to win my narrow argument. To the conservatives who have issues with gays for one reason or another, and cannot be swayed from that position, I want to point out that the gays are not a cultural movement that can grow and damage our nation in any way. This argument is distasteful for me because it grants (for the sake of argument) that anti-gay rhetoric and opinions are fine and dandy. I personally don't think they are fine and dandy... but there are more important issues at stake.

Gays always have been, and always will be a small percentage of the population... probably 5% or so. It has been this way for basically all of human history, and it won't be changing any time soon. I would never argue that we should be tolerant of inner city urban (ghetto) culture. Urban culture in America seems to promote a hatred of learning, very little focus on building healthy families, and is often materialistic in the most disgusting ways. That is a cultural movement that could end up hurting our nation. People having a different sexual preference is not a movement. Gays will always be a small minority... a minority deserving of equal protection under the law and individual liberty. The question is, would you rather look down your nose at a small group of citizens that you dislike for personal reasons... or do you want to follow The Constitution, protect vulnerable minority groups,and maybe pick up a few votes in the process? I would hope any conservative... even those who disagree with me on a few finer points would choose the later.

I will say this. I think "social conservatives" can do great things when they are working on a local level... working in their churches, working with families, working with charities. But the second any conservative presents their social values on a national level, as rhetoric that can offend, or as policy, they cease to be conservative at all. Truthfully, I wish Mick Huckabee would shut the fuck up and go join the Peoples Workers Party... because that's where he belongs. If conservatives believe in freedom, The Constitution, and equal protection under the law... we can't try to engineer society as liberals do. When we do that, we become liberals. Not only that, but we fail like liberals always do, both in public perception and in any reasonable measure of achieving our goals. I would argue that the proper way to treat gays in America, and the way to shift the balance of power away from big government is to openly recognize gays as what they are... individuals. I'm not speaking from the outside here. I consider myself a social conservative. I just don't see legislating my social conservatism as conservatism at all... because it isn't

Liberals always promise gays rights and privileges that they almost never deliver on for political reasons. There are too many blue collar homophobes, and unions will always pull more weight in the Democratic party because they offer more votes, and more importantly, more money. Trust me... there are many gays in America who instinctively understand this, and who are ripe for the picking. We don't need to offer them a carrot on a stick or government handouts like liberals offer every interest group. Most people, gays included, are too damn smart for that. We need to promise them one simple thing that we can actually deliver on. We need to stop making them the enemy, and offer them equality, freedom, and opportunity. This is a win/win situation for gays in America, and for real conservatives who want to succeed as a movement.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Discovering Mr. Gimmick

A recent episode of's Retronauts Podcast focused on the history of the Sunsoft corporation. In this episode they discussed a very late NES game I'd never heard of called Mr Gimmick. The guest, Frank Cifaldi, was a huge fan of the game, and claimed it is one of the most technically impressive NES games ever made. Thankfully, Frank had made a complete annotated play-through of the game and uploaded it all to Youtube.

After watching all four parts of the video, I have to agree with Cifaldi. Mr Gimmick is really impressive considering the hardware. It is also quite strange. That's all I got... watch the fucking videos!

Mr. Gimmick - Annotated NES Longplay (Pt. 1/4)

Mr. Gimmick - Annotated NES Longplay (Pt. 2/4)

Mr. Gimmick - Annotated NES Longplay (Pt. 3/4)

Mr. Gimmick - Annotated NES Longplay (Pt. 4/4)

For more, visit Frank's Lost Level's Blog

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

I've heard a lot of moaning about the recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision from the Supreme Court. Most people are grumbling about corporations having the same rights as citizens when it comes to speech, and other such party line complaints.

I want to make this very short and sweet. If you think this is about corporations taking over the public dialog, you probably just have not read enough. This decision is about everyone's free speech, and the role of government in regulating this speech.

1) This decision stemmed from a group of people who were barred from releasing a movie that was very critical of Hillary Clinton prior to an election. When questioned if the current campaign finance laws would allow the government to ban any movie, book, or editorial content being published by a corporate entity, the FEC lawyers replied "yes". This happened... and most of the justices probably vomited.

2) I tend to see the individual as being much more important than corporations when it comes to legal matters, but there is a point that I think most of you are missing. Virtually all ideas, books, movies are published by corporate entities! This campaign finance law may not have been used much, but it would technically allow the government to stop the release of any movie or book near an election that could be interpreted as campaign material. Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 911 was released right before the Bush V Kerry election, and was very critical of Bush. If this law had been used in that case, the government could have blocked the release of Fahrenheit 911. Completely unthinkable!

3) Any number of political books, movies, and advertisements would qualify for government censorship if this law had stayed in place. Do you trust the Federal Election Commission to decide what content is too political, or too positive or negative leading up to an election? I don't. Most individuals disseminate ideas through organizations, not all by themselves. I don't care if it is a union, a corporation, or a non-profit... it isn't the role of the feds to regulate any of this speech.

You should agree with me. This decision needed to happen if the 1st Amendment was to mean anything.