BTW

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Everyone Hates Phelps  Why do we do it—continue to report on the high jinks of the mad preacher Fred Phelps? It’s not just the sheer crudeness, the vulgarity of his attacks—his slogan is “God hates fags,” after all—nor even the weird cruelty of his targets, such as gay funerals and Matthew Shepard memorials. No, what keeps us coming back is the increasingly convoluted logic, the lengthening chain of associations, by which the Phelps family decides where it will pop up next. Thus, for example, we reported on one protest outside a retail outlet in the Midwest that sold vacuum cleaners made in Sweden, a country that they (erroneously) believe permits same-sex marriage. QED. They rejoiced when the tsunami hit Sumatra because the island is home to a gay resort that’s popular with—you guessed it—Swedes! Now they’ve taken to picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, the logic being that American deaths in Iraq are God’s retribution for America’s tolerance of homosexuality. You can’t reason with such people, but even within their own system of logic… Let’s see, the U.S. military expressly bars gay people from serving, so it’s safe to assume that very few gays are dying in Iraq. So the folks who are actually dying are straight, but God is killing them off because they happen to come from a country that tolerates gay people, while protecting gay people themselves from harm. Anyway, this latest gambit has led even fellow evangelicals to denounce Phelps’ brand of gospel.

“The Other Man” If such a thing as a hypocritometer existed—and it is hereby proposed—Monsignor Eugene V. Clark would be up there around a “9.” It was recently revealed that the 79-year-old rector and longtime grand inquisitor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York has been named as the “other man” in a divorce suit filed by the husband of his secretary, Laura DeFillippo, 46. But Clark isn’t just another priest who got caught breaking his vows of celibacy. He’s the celebrity father who for 35 years has spoken out against gay rights at every opportunity, often on TV and radio; the priest who did more than anyone to stop the passage of New York’s gay rights bill from 1971 clear up to 1986. More recently, he tried to blame gay people for the pederasty scandal in the Catholic Church. So this is how it ends, Clark’s career of pontificating against sexual sinners of all kinds (amply documented by gaycitynews.com, 8/18/05), with an affidavit from DeFil-lippo’s fourteen-year-old daughter, who “found my mom and her boss [Clark] together on the couch, her sitting on his lap wearing a satin teddy with her arms around him making out.” Now that must have been an awkward moment.

Church of the BSA  The purification of the Boy Scouts of America continued apace as the group fired the highest-ranking and longest-serving professional scout in its history, for being gay. The BSA won the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation in a narrow Supreme Court ruling back in 2000 (BSA v. Dale), so they made no bones about stating their reason for firing Dennis St. Jean. Still, some people had thought that over the past five years the BSA had been chastened by declining membership, withdrawal of public support in many locales, and a spate of lawsuits for discrimination. The public firing of St. Jean signals that the Scouts intend to go forward with their policy of cleansing the organization of gays—and also, even more publicly, of the non-religious. Insiders have reported that religious fervor is a prerequisite for moving up the corporate ranks. So, if the BSA is starting to look and quack more like a church than like a wilderness club, that’s because its board is controlled by Protestant fundamentalist leaders, with a heavy dose of Mormons, who clearly see the venerable organization as a feeder for the faithful, with gay people ipso facto ineligible.

They Always Said We Recruit  It’s one thing for soldiers to march in a gay pride parade because they can, which is the case in the UK and all of western Europe. But when a group of ten British soldiers marched in Manchester’s gay pride parade this year, they were men with a mission. And that mission was to recruit soldiers into the British army! It’s something you have to get your mind around: not only was the royal army not kicking gay soldiers out, it was actively encouraging them to join, and using the occasion of a gay pride parade to do it. The volunteer recruiters, according to Cnews.com, were “surrounded by a group of men wearing silver paint, angel wings, blond wigs, and not much else.” So it looks like the volunteers have already succeeded in winning some new recruits.

Follow the Bouncing Bullet  Blame the law of unforeseen consequences (Donald Rumsfeld would), but who would have predicted, when George W. Bush announced his intention to invade Iraq in 2003, that one small offshoot would be the emergence of a commercial sex trade in Iraqi boys? But such is the case, according to the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs, which found that a growing number of boys in Baghdad are being forced by poverty into prostitution and into a system run by organized gangs that use blackmail to prevent the boys from escaping. (They maintain incriminating videos of the boys in a country where families are obliged to kill their sons for being gay.) For their part, the criminal gangs have cropped up to fill the power vacuum left by the Baath party’s dissolution in 2003. With youth unemployment at 48 percent and poverty surging under the U.S. occupation, as many as 4,000 boys may now be engaged in this trade, according to the report. Despite the Islamic taboo on homosexuality, demand for the boys is brisk, as it seems many Iraqi men have a taste for this indulgence. And so it goes: from an ill-planned invasion of Iraq to the emergence of a market for male sex slaves, brought to you by urban poverty and street gangs and a massive breakdown of civil society.

Follow-up on the News  As was reported in the last BTW, a website called “Fallwell.com” had been enjoined from operating because a New York court ruled that, despite the variant spelling, it infringed on the trademark of televangelist Jerry Falwell. The site’s operator, Christopher Lamparello, took the fight to a higher court, and now the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the lower court and ruled that the site is not a confusing use of Falwell’s trademark. Long live Fallwell.com.

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