31 October 2006

Blogging is Like Teaching

When you do it well, you don't need to do very much at all.

In case you failed to scroll down, you may have missed the fabulous discussion of 'radical politics' going on between Tmcd, number three, and dan. Check it out.

I have only this to add: 1) I never meant to suggest that Tmcd himself was suggesting that gay people are inherently promiscuous, but I also agree (with him) that he shouldn't have gone there at all. 2) I don't think that the critique of heteronormativity involves a gay versus straight opposition. We should all be opposed to heteronormativity.


tenaciousmcd said...

One final comment and I'll shut up about this.

Insofar as the gay rights movement presents itself as wanting to enter the normed patterns of mainstream heterosexual society and be granted the rights and equal dignities that come with such membership, it will be successful. On the other hand, if the movement starts to look like an attempt to create a "queer nation" by de-norming heterosexuality, monogamy, marriage, etc., it will crash and burn, confirming every fear-mongering scenario of the right-wing demagogues and giving the GOP a new generation of hate-based wedge issues.

This concern may seem remote to those of you living in urban citadels of cultural liberalism, but for those of us struggling to preserve a humane democratic politics out in the red states, this is very real. One of the big issues this year in TN--sure to draw out the wingnut vote--is a referendum on the ballot to amend the state constit to ban gay marriage and all its epigones. This in a state where gay marriage is ALREADY clearly against the law. That referendum could swing the neck and neck senate race b/w Ford and Corker, a race that could decide who controls the senate itself. In times like these, I'd like to see reassuring signs that liberals are addressing themselves humbly to reality, rather than flirting with a self-defeating radicalism. We should avoid becoming the "People's Liberation Front" of Monty Python fame, squabbling over a man's "right to have babies."

Sam said...

Fair enough. 2 more things, and I'll shut up as well.

1. In the past 8 years I have lived in VERY rural Maryland, small-town Virginia, far-out very 'red' southern california, central Pennsylvania, and Wales. But let's backtrack: I was born in rural Texas, and I grew up in a town of 700 people. You cannot, therefore, accuse me of speaking from the persepctive of those in 'an urban citadel of cultural liberalism'.

2. I'm a political theorist, not a consultant for the Democratic party. Is it true that Republicans will use gay-bashing techniques to win close elections in 'middle America'. Damn straight. Does that mean that as critically-minded thinkers and citizens we should accept the worldview that sustains these sorts of tactics. Fuck no.

Final side note: 'queer nation' is TERRIBLY unqueer precisely because of their separatist tendencies.

Transient Gadfly said...

i'm really sorry if this is a stupid question, and i totally understand that practically speaking, liberals have to be less radical, more realist, less queer, more mainstream, less freaked out, far out, fringey, more "humble" as tmcd says, but why is this conventional wisdom not true for the other side? or: why is appealing to radically religious, pointlessly panicked, right of right voters and asking them to vote for inflammatory, incendiary, bigoted laws a tactic that is working really really well for republicans? or is that just my right now voice from the small picture fray? -- mtg

tenaciousmcd said...

TG, a two-part answer. 1) Gays are 2-4% of the population; religious evangelicals are 25-30%, not to mention all the socially conservative church-goers (white, black, and Hispanic) who are not technically evangelical. That's a huge mobilizatioon gap, especially when a decent % of gays vote GOP because they're prosperous DINKS.

2) the GOP radicalism is already beginning to backfire, but since it has been wrapped in patriotism and "tradition," it is taking longer than it otherwise might. Note, however, that the gay rights movement has trouble claiming either of those useful rhetorical tropes.

Sam, I'd add that theory and praxis are not so distant as your response might suggest.

Transient Gadfly said...

but tmcd, 1) what's more traditional than love, marriage, and two parent families? 2) what's more patriotic than freedom and equality and not discriminating against people based on their identity 3) a very small minorty of people is gay BUT a majority of people believe in gay rights 4) jesus preached love and tolerance. why are christians such a powerful voting block, voting, in fact, against what their churches (theoretically) preach, when in fact they are diverse in identity and belief? why? tell me. please.

tenaciousmcd said...

TG, gay marriage certainly isn't "traditional," and I know of few churches that advocate it, while vast numbers rail against it. And while you can find majorities who favor "gay rights," I've yet to see any polls showing anything but overwhelming public opposition to "gay marriage" ("civil unions" may be a different matter altogether).

But your less "realist" and more sentimental points about love, equality, and Christian tolerance are not without merit. Jesus hasn't got a single bad thing to say about gay people (but a lot of bad things to say about rich people and moral hypocrites). Which is why some of us moderate Christian moralists, in our sentimental moments, look at gay marriage with an open and sypathetic eye. But when you're embarking on a bold social experiment with unknown and possibly far reaching consequences, you have to expect a little resistance, espcially among the upholders of traditional social norms.

Radical Leftist said...

This is really late to make a comment isn't it? Is there a statute of limitations on blog commenting? Will anyone read it? In case - two 'small' things.

Firstly, I really liked TMcD's the remark in the earlier blog posts 'In US politics, at least, "radicalism" is almost always counterproductive'. I believe the correct colloquialism is 'Damn straight sir!'. Once upon a time there was a perfectly nice King (he talked to trees but was fine apart from that) and he really cared about his people across the water, cared so much he wanted to reduce their caffeine intake by taxing their tea (which, in any case, they were drinking cold in violation of all known normativity). And then these damn radicals decided to take things into their own hands and in the most counterproductive move in history decided to invent something called a 'republic'. We are indeed still living with the consequences: atonal accents, asymmetrical trade relations, anne coulter and the cancellation of Firefly. Damn radicals.

Secondly, it depends on where you stand. And I mean literally as in where on the planet geographically speaking you stand, not metaphorically. Because from where most of the known human beings in the 'verse are standing the US is currently run by a bunch of wild radicals with views that are extreme in contrast to those held by most penthouse dwelling martini sipping homos and tent dwelling rural traditionalists all over this little thing we like to call 'the world'.

The percentage of American evangelical Christians is really really small if you count, say, everyone else. I'll leave it to the former 'Math' students to work it out but I bet all things taken account of there are more men on the planet who like to have have sex with other men sometimes than there are evangelical American Christians. And that's without counting the girls. Is this what scares them?

Radical Leftist

dan said...

Oh, TMcD, you are the minority here, aren't you? But we appreciate being challenged in our views. I hope you do as well.

I agree that radicalism is in our blood and hearts as Americans. And if yer not an Amer-can, what are you? That's right, a tourist.

But also I just want to say that I do vote, and I will vote for Democratic representatives next week, so it isn't as though having a radical ideology exempts me from participating in less "radical" politics on different levels. I understand that some people do feel this way and therefore don't vote, and this is irresponsible.

This reminds me of a Judith Butler quote which I will have to paraphrase loosely from memory (thanks for nothing, Google): "When I was younger I was part of a group of radical feminist performance artists. I recently joined the board of the HRC. I don't believe that these things contradict one another." So, we can think in creative ways that are outside of conventional logic in order to offer up new possibilities for an inclusive politics, but we can also participate in the political process as it stands, with all its faults, and these things don't have to cancel each other out. In fact, one could say, we're obligated to do both.

Also, in my post I tried to suggest that the situation in New Jersey had the potential to radically undermine marriage as we know it, by creating a spectrum of possibilities for civil unions (of which marriage is one), each of which confer equal rights, benefits, and responsibilities, but which are situated in different cultural context via their language and the customs associated with them.

If couples of all sexes (can I suggest that a couple has a sex?) get joined civilly as an act private to their own relationship, rather than as part of a public ceremony, this would move the concept of "marriage" into a realm of religious custom, and yet allow for "civil unions" to be a more common practice, and therefore a possibility for more people. Perhaps not to "normalize" these non-traditional unions, but to "de-normalize" the institution of marriage. Couldn't this be a possibility? If so, does society crumble as we know it? Are we transformed into a boundless world of hedonistic queerness where pedophiles are allowed to marry their pet iguanas and the tranny president is unable to stop the country from being invaded by outside forces since she got rid of the military in exchange for state-provided sex change operations?

We are a part of a queer nation. Sometimes the most radical ideas are those which expose radicalism that's already quietly present.

Transient Gadfly said...

oh dan, i love, i LOVE the idea of a couple having a sex. i think P. and i are definitely female, and i think s&r are definitely male (and i'd posit that our we-four relations are very heterosexual as such, much more so than our couples relationships, i think), though you will all, i trust, weigh in with disagreements as warranted. i love that idea because it's interesting to think about personally, but also, i love the idea of sex as a category not entirely in opposition to something/someone else.