Triumphgeheul der Kreuzritter

Classless Kulla hat mit seiner dreiteiligen Dawkinskritik (eins, zwei, drei) natürlich recht, Dawkins, einer der Football Hooligans of Rational Discourse, ist aber auch ein einfaches Ziel.

Das hier ist dann übrigens die andere Seite: in der “Welt” lacht Matthias Heine hämisch über “die Linke”, die sich über den Volxentscheid am Sonntag ärgert, der sich gegen die “Religion des linken Atheismus” richtet. Heines Argumentation ist genauso kaputt wie seine bizarre ideologische Zuordnung.

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Outrageous!

Today, Craig Seymor blogged on outrageous and unacceptable policies at amazon.com:

Here’s my story: I’m the author of a memoir, All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C. (Atria/Simon & Schuster), which is about my journey from grad student to stripper to entertainment journalist to college professor. (I’m currently Associate Professor of Journalism at Northern Illinois University.) Like many authors, I frequently check my sales status on Amazon, so imagine my shock, back in early February when the “Amazon.com Sales Rank” completely disappeared from the Product Details of my book. The book also disappeared from the search listings, so that if a customer looked up “All I Could Bare by Craig Seymour” on the Amazon home page, nothing came up.

Of course, I immediately sent emails to Amazon asking about this situation. I also placed several phone calls. But I could never get a straight answer, until February 25, when I received an email stating that “the sales rank was not displayed for the following reasons: The I S B N #1416542051 was classified as an Adult product.”

I thought: An Adult product? What does that mean? Who knew that Amazon had such a category and why is it being applied to my book?

I brought this to the attention of my publisher, and they started looking into it. But, in the meantime, I also did some snooping around, and it turned out that the only books I could find without a “sales rank” had gay content like mine. For instance, my gay stripper memoir had no sales ranking, but Diablo Cody’s stripper memoir, Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper,did.

Memoirs by gay porn stars Blue Blake (Out of the Blue: Confessions of an Unlikely Porn Star) and Bobby Blake (My Life in Porn: The Bobby Blake Story) didn’t have a sales ranking, but memoirs by straight porn stars Ron Jeremy (Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz) and Jenna Jameson (How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale) did. Clearly, there seemed to be a double-standard.

I found this story through poet Mark Doty’s facebook; later in the day, Doty added:

Okay, this is the most amazing thing. If you go on Amazon and type in “butt plug” in the search window, you’ll see a number of them for sale, with sales ranking attached! So, it’s okay to rank butt plugs but not books? Umm…

. And there’s more to this. See this account and many, many, many others. For this to happen now demonstrates what a crucial moment this is in the fight for civil rights. Below is Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal justifying his resistance to an amendment to reverse Iowa marriage equality:

Die guten und die bösen Deutschen

Vor ein paar Wochen haben wir uns ja allesamt über das hier gefreut, schöne große antisemitische Massenkundgebungen. Ich hätte ja verschiedene Bezeichnungen gefunden dafür, nicht aber “bürgerliche Demonstrationen gegen Krieg und Gewalt”. Ich wurde aber eines besseren belehrt, als ich folgende Frage samt Antwort in einem Interview fand, das der NRW-Verfassungsschutz-Chef Hartwig Möller den Ruhrnachrichten gab:

Muss Deutschland die eindeutige Instrumentalisierung von Demonstrationen gegen Krieg und Gewalt hinnehmen?
Möller: Extremisten freuen sich über die Aufmerksamkeit, die sie erzielen, wenn sie sich bei bürgerlichen Demonstranten einklinken. Rechte, Linke oder beide gleichzeitig versuchen immer wieder, bürgerliche Demonstrationen für ihre Zwecke zu nutzen. In einer offenen Gesellschaft darf eben jeder demonstrieren, auch Extremisten, solange sie sich an die Spielregeln der Gesetze halten.

Daß es sich bei besagten Extremisten keineswegs um Islamisten oder andere Freunde des gepflegten Judenhasses handelt, wird klar wenn wir sehen, daß es in dem kompletten, wirklich lesenswert-bekloppten Interview ausschließlich um die Antideutschen geht,

eine eindeutig linksextreme, antifaschistische und antiimperialistische Bewegung, die allerdings in der linken Szene eine Minderheit darstellt.

Mir schien die Tatsache, daß diese ‘Szene’, soweit ich sie aus der blogwelt mitbekomme, sehr zersplittert ist, immer ein interessanter Fakt zu sein, sowas weist ja oft darauf hin, daß die Dichte an einigermaßen selbstdenkenden Menschen besonders hoch ist. Da habe ich mich allerdings getäuscht, denn

es gehört zum Selbstverständnis der gesamten linksextremen autonomen Szene, jegliche Strukturbildung zu vermeiden, die man dann verbieten könnte.

So einfach ist das. Ich kenne mich natürlich nicht so gut aus, weder kenne ich besonders viele Antideutsche noch bin ich der NRW-Chef des Verfassungsschutzes, aber mir persönlich kommt es vor, als ob da jemand von sich, i.e. seiner eigenen Denke, auf andere schließt. Aufklärung ist mir hier willkommen (Herr Kulla vielleicht?).

Persönlich möchte ich schließen mit meinem Neid auf den Interviewer, dessen Gemütsruhe ich gerne hätte. Wieso kann ich mich nicht darüber freuen, daß die “israelische Reaktion […] vergleichsweise moderat [war]” und hoffen, daß diese Schädlinge am Volkskörper “erst einmal” wieder “verschwinden” jetzt wo die aktuelle Gazakrise vorbei ist. Fritsch, der das Interview führte, ist ein guter Deutscher. In einem kurzen Artikel darüber, wie Frau Sommer, die NRW Erziehungsministerin, das Erziehungsziel “Ehrfurcht vor Gott” erreichen will, stellt er klar, daß das morgendliche Gebet, dessen Verbot in einer Klasse in Neuss vernünftigerweise gerichtlich durchgesetzt wurde, nicht irgendein Gebet ist, sondern es ist

ein einzigartiges historisches Dokument christlichen Trostes und christlicher Zuversicht aus der Feder des seinerzeit inhaftierten evangelischen Theologen und NS-Gegners Dietrich Bonhoeffer handelt, der kurz vor Kriegsende 1945 hingerichtet wurde.

Ist die Klage der Mutter gegen das Gebet nicht irgendwie auch ehrabschneidend? Muss Deutschland sowas hinnehmen? (via Lizas Welt)

Hidden: Brian Evenson’s “The Open Curtain”

Evenson, Brian (2006), The Open Curtain, Coffee House Press
ISBN-10 1-56689-188-4
ISBN 13 978-1-56689-188-2

In fact it is impossible to comprehend the actions of the murderous Lafferty brothers, or any other Mormon Fundamentalist, without first making a serious effort to plumb their theological beliefs, and that requires some understanding of LDS history, along with an understanding of the complex and highly fluid teachings of the religion’s remarkable founder, Joseph Smith. The life of Smith and the history of his church may be considered from myriad perspectives, of course . And therein lies the basis for the Mormon leadership’s profound unhappiness with my book.

(A Response from Jon Kracauer to his critics)

This book is hard to describe without spoiling it for the reader. It’s a tightly wound tale of horror, although not in the sense of the recent wave of splatter movies. Its brand of horror is akin to the brand of horror in Doris Lessing’s terrifying The Fifth Child. There are murders in the book, dismemberments, stabs, cuts, and strangulations, yet the novel is far from grisly. The blood is decorative, ritual. There are numerous rituals in the novel, rituals, however, which are an integral part of the horror. There is, in the middle of the novel, at the point where events really take a steep downward turn for the protagonists, a strange marriage ceremony. Strange to me, but apparently a faithful depiction of a Mormon wedding ceremony. It bears remarkable similarities to Salman Rushdie’s masterfully dense novel of partitions, marriages and Pakistan, Shame. In Rushdie’s novel, it was a delightful, tender, erotic episode where two people find each other not only despite rituals, but find ways to use them for their own ends. In a way, in The Open Curtain, a similar episode is described, and this time, too, the ritual is put to individual use, or as one of the characters puts it “we pulled a fast one on God”. Evenson, a former Mormon, presents us these rituals with painstaking –and ultimately frightening- accuracy. It is important since Mormonism provides the backbone of the story.

The story is basically based on two historical events. One is the murders by the Lafferty brothers, Ron and Dan, who killed their brother Allen’s wife and child in order to purify them. The victim, Brenda Lafferty, was thought to support Ron’s wife in her decision to leave him when he insisted upon marrying multiple women. Mormonism’s ties to violence are notorious, mostly connected to the so-called blood doctrine. Here’s wiki’s neat summary:

In Mormonism, blood atonement is the controversial concept that there are certain sins to which the atonement of Jesus does not apply, and that before a Mormon who has committed these sins can achieve the highest degree of salvation, he or she must personally atone for the sin by “hav[ing] their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins”. Blood atonement was to be voluntary by the sinner, but was contemplated as being mandatory in a theoretical theocracy (see Theodemocracy) planned for the Utah Territory; it was to be carried out with love and compassion for the sinner, not out of vengeance.

In 2003, Jon Kracauer published a non-fictional account of the Lafferty story, Under the Banners of Heaven, which included a fascinating account of the aforementioned violent history and spawned indignation and changes in certain rituals. The book is also one of the pre-texts of Evenson’s tense coil of a horror novel. The actual incident that spawned the novel, according to the author, is William Hooper Young’s murder of Anna Pulitzer. The great thing is that the New York Times has digitalized a huge part of their archives. As the protagonist digs through the articles, we have the opportunity to do the same. This is from the September 20, 1902 article:

Capt. Titus, Chief of the Detective Bureau, announced at 10:30 o’clock last night that Mrs. Anna Pulitzer was murdered by William Hooper Young, a grandson of Brigham Young, the famous Mormon leader. The murder, said the chief detective, was committed in the apartment of Young’s father, at 103 West Fifty-eighth Street.

The Open Curtain takes a troubled teenager, Rudd Theurer, from a Mormon community, who digs up the case of William Hooper Young for a school project and at the same time discovers he has a half brother, Lael. From this situation Evenson spins a tale of violence, religion, deceit and madness. Rudd comes from a troubled family although we are never filled in as to what constitutes that trouble. His dead father towers over the first half of the book, as he is the one who connects all the strands of the story. The plot ingredients here would make for a fat, long, complicated novel, psychological in a convoluted way. And this is just the beginning. The novel becomes more and more complex as it progresses at a prodigious speed. It starts with memory of a murder and progresses to actual murder, as the events unravel. Murder, he wrote? Make no mistake, this is not a mystery: there are no surprises for the reader, who soon gathers how the novel is going to end. The Open Curtain is a terrifying novel, precisely because we know what is going to happen.

One of the central tropes of this novel is doubt. Doubting the evidence of yr own eyes, doubting God, yourself. Names become pratfalls: Lael, a male name often assigned to girls, meaning “belonging to God”, is often mispronounced as Lyle, the main difference being the first syllable that changes from being pronounced lay to being pronounced lie. Things like thus abound, most significantly the main character, Rudd, whose name derives from the Old English meaning “ruddy-skinned”, in other words: red-skinned. This provides a link to one of the most frequently cited instances of Blood Atonement, the 1887 Mountain Meadows Massacre, undertaken by a group of Mormons disguised as “redskins”, i.e. Native Americans. Instrumental in that slaughter was John D. Lee, whose manifesto is frequently cited by Rudd, who finds that his father had added copious annotations to it. This is just a mild hint of the complexities in The Open Curtain.

Mainly, however, it is about spiritual awakening, religious experience, a concern throughout the book. “God”, as one of the characters pronounces, “has drawn a curtain between myself and heaven and there is no parting it.” This is straight in the middle, ironically, since this novel is about breaking open boundaries, ripping open curtains, having madness fuck your old tired separations. In a way this novel is about strong religious experience, but the further open the curtains are, the darker the room becomes, until the concluding third of the novel, a masterpiece of describing a darkness within a soul or a mind. This novel is about the power of religion, even in those who do not think themselves religious. Religious upbringing or knowledge of intimate religious ideology can be enough to propel your forward on a path into the night. There are no farmhouses near that path and no possibility to rest once one embarks upon it. The dread the reader feels upon watching the characters hurtle down that path stems from Evenson’s mastery in drawing characters and setting situations and moods. Except for the teacher a character I felt slipped from his control, everybody is fleshed out and real to the extent necessary. So are the moods. There is humor, banter, as well as dread, irritation and fear, in the necessary doses. Because, above all, it is an accomplishment in that it does not waste a word. It is first and foremost a thriller and it succeeds within its own genre, a rare feat for literary forays into genre.

It is a superbly well crafted thriller, which is not weighed down by pretension. It has a serious side to it as well, showing what can happen if the violent elements in our culture suddenly surface and create a huge swirling vortex of madness. I will close with a remark from Evenson’s afterword:

A few years after the Lafferty murders, the Mormon temple endowment ceremony was changed in significant ways. The most significant changes to my mind involved the deletion of the “penalties,” a portion of the ceremony in which each temple participant mimed out stylized ways of being killed if they were to reveal temple secrets. Many temple-going Mormons saw this as a positive step: I tend rather to see it as a further repression of Mormonism’s relation to violence. Changing the ceremony hasn’t changed Mormonism’s underlying violence; it has only hidden it.

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Protestantensau

Immer diese Moslems! Das hier in SPON

Wegen eines papstkritischen Liedes wird der evangelische Pfarrer und Liedermacher Clemens Bittlinger von katholischen Fundamentalisten mit Morddrohungen attackiert und im Internet wüst beschimpft. Die Polizei nimmt die Drohungen ernst.

In seinem Song “Mensch Benedikt” hält Bittlinger Benedikt XVI. unter anderem vor, durch die Ablehnung von Kondomen die Ausbreitung von Aids in Afrika zu fördern. Zudem kritisiert der Darmstädter Pfarrer und Liedermacher die Haltung des Papstes, keine andere Kirche neben der katholischen anzuerkennen. Seit Bittlinger seinen Song im Mai auf dem Osnabrücker Katholikentag aufführte, sind laut Informationen des SPIEGEL auf rechtskonservativen katholischen Internet-Seiten zornige Hinweise auf den Song erschienen.

Die Wutwelle habe ihn “vollkommen unerwartet” getroffen, sagt Bittlinger. In Drohschreiben wird der Songschreiber als “dreckige Protestantensau” bezeichnet, andere halten ihn für “vom Teufel besessen”, einen “Stinker” oder beklagen, keine “Aggressionen” gegen ihn “rauslassen” zu können. Die hessische Polizei nahm die Drohungen so ernst, dass sie ein Konzert unter Polizeischutz stellte und eine verdächtige Postsendung an ihn von einer Spezialeinheit öffnen ließ.

"An Engine of Hypocrisy"

Daniel C. Dennett on a case of political correctness that never gets labeled as such even though it should

It is fascinating to see how cautiously the candidates are approaching this issue in the run-up to November’s election. Everybody apparently thinks — probably rightly — that this is a race to be lost by a single fatal misstep, not won by a bold stroke. So nobody is going to come out in favor of secular values or visions, and secularists, like me, are not so foolish as to try to goad any candidate into acknowledging their sympathy for a secular world view if that could cost them the election. Of course, this tradition of mealy-mouthed lip service is something we should try to discredit and dismantle as soon as possible. But not sooner!

We are stuck, for the time being, with what I have called an engine of hypocrisy.