Monday, April 30, 2007

Small favors

The DC Madam makes me glad I'm not straight.
A lot of other Washington men are wishing the same right now.

UPDATE: Actually, I first expressed this thought a couple of years ago. At this thread at Amy Welborn's about the marriage liturgy.

Monday, April 23, 2007


What does Jim McGreevey, A GAY AMERICAN, think we'll believe? Anything, to judge from the latest court filings in his ugly divorce from his second wife, Dina Matos McGreevey.
Although it is clear that the Defendant knew of my sexual orientation before our marriage, she chose to either ignore it or block it out of her mind, even when questioned by her friends.
This isn't directly relevant to how secular law works, but even under the Canon Law of the viciously homophobic Catholic Church, the most persistent homosexual attractions do not, in itself, create grounds for an annulment. In fact, I know that secular law doesn't say homosexual persons cannot marry, because they do all the time (to persons they are eligible to marry, meaning not their siblings, not second and third "spouses" or not persons of the same sex -- the same rule that applies to heterosexuals). So his bringing this up, even in rebuttal, seems more like a ploy in the hope that the judge watches a lot of Oprah. The court filing continues:
On the offhand chance she wasn't paying attention, I AM A GAY AMERICAN. She is in deep denial.
Oh dear. If I could advise his lawyers, I'd tell them to cut the ALL-CAPS. It makes you sound like a whiny bitch. I'd also want to link to a river in Egypt. And not to refer to her. Now divorce is as divorce does -- it's always messy, usually ugly and never makes anyone look good. But one of the downsides of the closet, regardless of anything else (and closeted-me accepts this downside), is that it makes anything you say about others' contemporaneous knowledge of you impossible to prove. After all, even if you did tell someone, there could only ever be your word for it, because the whole point of the closet is for there to be no objective evidence that (unwanted) others could see. Hoist by his own petard I'd say.

Still ... I don't know about you, but if there's a human being in the world who has a right to say "you're not gay, you're bi," it's your ex-wife. Or was their five-year-old daughter history's second virgin birth? Actually, it'd have to be the third, given that McGreevey had a child with his first wife. And from what I hear ... outside the world of 19th-century novels and 20th-century movies, once is usually not enough. Not that most men complain ... a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

And what is McGreevey's obsession with being A GAY AMERICAN. After all, if there's nothing shameful about gay sex or homosexuality on the usual contemporary grounds, then what can there be shameful or denial-worthy about either heterosexual sex or bisexuality? Why is McGreevey so eager and willing to deny the obvious. I think I'll coin a new phrase to apply to case studies like McGreevey: Bi Panic Defense (cf.)

I also have to wonder about a few other things.
  1. Will "Jim McGreevey began his gay affair while his wife was in a bedridden pregnancy with an unborn daughter whom he didn't want" become as much part of political lore as "Newt Gingrich served divorce papers on his wife as she was dying of cancer" has?
  2. Will "Jim McGreevey used the phrase 'look like white trash' as a disparaging term with some meaning distinct from black trash or Asian trash" become as big a story as "Don Imus uses 'nappy-headed hos' as a disparaging term" has?
  3. Will "Jim McGreevey exposes kids to life-sized posters of nude male models" become as culture-transforming as "Clarence Thomas talked about pubic hair on Coke cans" has. Maybe if he had a son and exposed him to life-sized posters of female nude models, the boy could grow up to join the Duke lacrosse team and become a symbol of "white (trash?) male objectification of women." Still, maybe there's some good here, in the detail that Mrs. McGreevey is saying that one way he sexually abuses their daughter is by having her sleep with him and his boyfriend. Father Martin Fox has wondered whether children should habitually sleep with their parents because it might interfere with ... you know. So maybe that'd be for the best after all ... nothing can cool your ardor for hot beefcake boytoy like a bawling 5-year-old girl, let me tell you.
Somehow ... I doubt all three. After all, the Mainstream media thinks "Thou shalt not make Members of Oppressed Groups (like GAY AMERICANS) look bad" is one of the 5 Commandments that Moses dropped on the ground.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mental health in Virginia

Catholic blogger Mark Shea has said that history has two phases -- "what could it hurt" and "how was I supposed to know." I suggest that what makes this cycle last, as a continuous dynamic, is found in the "what could it hurt" phase. Namely that "it" is, as often as not, a backlash or reaction against some previous "how was I supposed to know." Metaphors involving generals fighting the last war, 20/20 hindsight, and horses and barn doors, come to mind also.

We're seeing some of that dynamic in the Virginia Tech shootings. I'm convinced there is not really any meaning to be gleaned from them -- crazy, evil people do crazy, evil things. But the number of people who commit acts this extreme are so few that, even when some reason can be attached to a particular case, those cases can only be spotted in retrospect. As the Times blogger notes:
There are millions of American college students, and only one of them has ever committed such a horrific massacre. The factors cited by Miss Paglia affect all students; only one reacted as Cho did. ... Extremely rare events are difficult to explain by theoretical reference to general factors.
But that doesn't stop us from trying to explain such events, and therefore worse yet, to try to "fix" them. Other people can take up gun control or concealed-carry laws (Virginia Tech may have been a gun-free zone, but, to quote Gen. Turgidson, "Well, sir, I would say that [Cho] has already invalidated that policy!") Or violent entertainment. But I can speak to my experience with one thing -- the metal-health laws of Virginia, which have been taking a beating. In an Associated Press article headlined "Va. law makes intervention tough," a variety of "warning signs" in Cho's pre-shooting behavior are alluded to.
The 23-year-old immigrant -- an outcast by his own account, a bully and a perverted loner by others' -- who took his life and 32 others at Virginia Tech this week had troubled classmates and professors more than a year earlier with his dark writings and brooding.
He had been kicked out of class, and two women complained to campus police that they had received annoying and unwanted messages from him. Their complaints and an acquaintance's concern that Cho was suicidal were enough to get him taken for a psychiatric evaluation.
And then, the criticisms that this didn't amount to reason under Virginia law to force the commitment of Cho.
But they weren't enough to have him committed under Virginia law, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to forcing treatment on a person showing signs of mental instability. Mental health experts say his case will heighten a discussion about whether it is time to revise those laws. ...
State law allows involuntary commitment only if a person is determined to pose an "imminent danger" to himself or others or is "substantially unable to care for himself."
Only Georgia, Hawaii, Montana and Ohio have similar standards, according to the nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center in Arlington, Va. Other states don't use the word "imminent" in conjunction with danger or harm, making it easier to force treatment.
Retired state police superintendent Col. W. Gerald Massengill, who was appointed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to head an investigation into the shootings, said he expects the review will cover mental health issues as well as law enforcement response.
As a Virginia resident, this law has affected me too. I first went to a therapist at the behest (the politest possible term) of my confessor and the strong counsel (ditto) of some of my Courage brothers, in response to some behavior that they said proves that "this is not about sex." I had always resisted seeing a head-shrinker for a variety of reasons -- a bad experience with a psychiatrist as a pre-teen; my intellectual-moral distaste for the whole psychiatrist-therapy racket as excuse-making witch-doctory for atheist New Yorkers with too damn much money; my general stoic temperament, which detests complainers and emotional exhibitionism.

But I relented. I went into this Catholic psychiatric ministry late one Friday afternoon, near weekend closing time because ... well, just because. And the therapist on duty, who I think was just hanging around at 6 to finish some work, agreed to take me on after an hour's meeting. But at the first appointment proper, I asked him something that mattered a great deal to me -- what are the circumstances under which I could be committed against my will. After all, I knew it wouldn't take Freud to diagnose me as suffering from depression and recommend putting me on meds; I had a suicide attempt in my past (not a very competent one, but still ...); I had deliberately engaged in some dangerous sexual behavior (barebacking, anonymous sex, masochism); in many respects, my life was out of control. "I'm at the end of my rope" is something I have said more than a couple of times.

But I told the therapist that if I judged that involuntary commitment was a plausible risk, I would not come. Under no circumstances was I gonna be publicly humiliated like that.

As it happened, he told me, I had nothing to fear. He told me that Virginia law is fairly restrictive on commitment and it would take much more than the kinds of things I quickly outlined to him. He said, close as I can recall, "you have to be more than just badly depressed." I don't recall that he used the word "imminent," but post-Cho reporting makes it clear that this is part of the law, as is the phrase "can't take care of yourself," which I do remember my therapist using. He also later told me that the records of our sessions would be destroyed after a set time (five years, if memory serves). So, I was satisfied and went to see him once or twice a week for several months.

Now, I'm not gonna pretend I'm anything like as disturbed as Cho. I'm also known to be a bit moody, and had many of the same problems in grade and high school, common to loner boys with academic inclinations. I can always function as a normal person day-to-day (as could Cho, who was evaluated thus: "his insight and judgment are normal"). But the chances of me going postal like Cho are effectively zero, because even in the darkest times, I turn inward in despair, not outward in anger. The chances of me committing suicide are thereby greater, but not high.

Still, if in my judgment Virginia had made it too easy to commit me against my will, merely on the basis of suicidal thoughts, occasional "weirdnesses" (aka "warning signs") and the kinds of things I knew I would have to tell the therapist, I would certainly have walked out of that Arlington office, never to return. And I fear that Virginia and several other states, in their eagerness to do something -- anything -- to respond to this massacre, will do something stupidly counterproductive, like make it easier to commit people beforehand based on fears about what they might do. Even apart from the fact that almost all the time, these cases wouldn't have resulted in something like Virginia Tech, easier commitment will make the marginal cases -- the person sane and competent enough to decide whether he should seek psychiatric help -- from doing exactly that.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

News updates

See if you can follow this transcript on a hearing before the Connecticut legislature and conclude anything other than that the gay "marriage" pushers don't have a clue about what an argument is or how to listen. My favorite exchange was:
Lawlor: So labeling people as intrinsically evil and objectively disordered is a respectful thing in your view?
Brown: Well, first of all the Church doesn't label people as that. It talks about acts, what the Church doesn't agree with that's a very different thing. So that's a mischaracterization of what the Catholic Church teaches.
Lawlor: Okay, so I'll clarify my statement… so you believe that people who love people of the same sex are intrinsically evil and objectively disordered. Is that what you feel?
Brown: Of course I don't. I'm not saying people or individuals, I'm not saying anything like that...
Then another twit tries to make a religious reverse-litmus test. And these are the individuals deliberating on marriage law?

Black-Eyed Peas singer Fergie admits here to having had a string of lesbian experiences as a teen or young adult, simply as a form of adolescent rebellion. What interested me wasn't the "strict Catholic" narrative (yawn ... been there ... done that) but that she says quite upfront that lesbian sex was in the past and was not motivated by "who I am" but was a choice for reasons not different from the reasons others shave their head or drive their cars too fast or date outside their race/ethnicity. Fergie is saying what we all know when we think about it outside the toe-the-line orthodoxy of the Gay Thought Police -- namely that there are elements of choice in sexual behavior and that sexual "orientation" is not determined-for-life and is subject to change.

On the gay-tolerance front, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa criticized a proposed gay civil-unions bill in Italy, saying that recognition of sexual unions must make some reference to moral standards external to the unions other than mere consent or libertinism. Since then, the cathedral is defaced and the cardinal is now under 24-7 police guard. No thanks undoubtedly to inaccurate reports like this one in (it states as a fact that Archbishop Bagnasco "link[ed] homosexuality with incest") which is not exactly what he said. It's a good thing homosexuals are expanding the bounds of tolerance.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Personal updates

A few short personal updates:

I admitted at a recent chapter meeting, when our Chaplain read the Prodigal Son parable, that I don't like it. In fact, I think "hate" was the verb I used. Which is the opposite, I would suspect, of most people's reaction -- it's easily among the most-popular and -cited of Our Lord's parables. But my honest reaction is that the parable is incomprehensible. Mystifying. Which I realize is to some extent the point, but that doesn't make it easier to swallow. Or to "get." When asked, "what would you have done in the prodigal son's situation?" my honest answer is "probably left home the next day, wondering wtf THAT was all about." I've noted before that stuff like this I just don't *get.* The person in the Prodigal Son parable with whom I identify the most, at least in terms of psychological makeup, is the other son. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not jealous of my brother exactly. And I certainly wouldn't claim to never have strayed. But I would very much have had the brother's reaction, even as the prodigal son himself.

After having been snubbed in the listing of manly Catholic blogs (why ... was it just because I have [censored]?) I decided I need to butch up, with sports fandom. I decided to enter my work's NCAA basketball pool and immersed myself in the tournament. I submitted two brackets -- one which I tried to pick (and when I fell into conversation with people that was "my bracket), and one where I just blindly went with the higher-seeded team. In an 80-bracket office, one finished 9th (out of the money though), the other 76th. Guess which was which. I spent the whole Friday of Day 2 of the 1st Round at one sports bar watching games. Fridays during a Lent when you've given up alcohol can make bars one of the oddest places in the world. Over the course of nine hours, I ordered all three things on the menu I could have and really felt guilty putting the poor bartender through all my 108 soda refills without bumping my bill up.

The darkness and depression got to me a couple of times and I crashed hard after a week of daily-Mass attendance which is a common pattern, like Icharus (maybe partly because I hate the Prodigal Son parable).