Focus on your own family...

Quick note: I recently stumbled across a blog by a gent in the UK who was raised fundie-- he's writing about what he learned, lived through and what fundies believe. You might, if you're interested, take a peek. I have enjoyed reading his blog (Leaving Fundamentalism) so far, and his upcoming book (that I don't know the name of) is on my list of Books To Get! He doesn't know I'm linking back to him, so this isn't a link-for-link thing. I just wanted to share a good read. He's done an excellent job of explaining the weird craziness that fundies put themselves and their brains through-- far better than I could do, I think.

Anyway, on to the blog.

Last week I read an article on Jezebel that linked back to Good As You and mentioned Focus on the Family. I don't like FotF, for many many reasons. I grew up listening to their radio programs. They were on the Christian Radio channel my mother's radio was glued to, 24/7.

For a time, FotF had a program called "Adventures in Odyssey*"; this was a children's radio program about a small town and of course time travel and all that, but it was your generic 80's kid show. Everything led back to the Bible, in transparently ridiculous ways, but mostly it wasn't preachy until the 90's (after I had stopped listening). The kids learned to be nice to each other, even if so-and-so was weird-- stuff like that. When I was little, they were exciting stories-- but anything with time travel, or adventuring across the planet was exciting!

During the 1980's the man in charge of FotF was James Dobson. He is a psychologist, not a minister-- remember that, it's important-- and actually wrote books about how to raise children.

In the 70's and 80's that was a pretty big deal, you know? What with all the sexual revolutions going on, and all those secular humanists dragging girls down to have abortions every month, and getting the boys hooked on alcohol and cocaine, these christian parents needed an authority to help-- no, Lead them as they taught their kids to avoid everything that wasn't christian! He was just the man to help!

Sorry, my sarcasm got the better of me again.

This man advocated beating your children until they behaved. Beating them with sticks, and boards, and dog-leashes, and anything you could get your hands on. In his book, The Strong Willed Child he wrote about spanking, and one illustration he used was beating his dog. Yes, his dog. You can get a decent rundown at the Snopes.com forum-- it was the only non-partisan, non-apologetics place I could find talking about it. Granted, I didn't dig too far, but it seemed that if someone wasn't writing "Right Wing Wacko beats dog, advocates beating children" they were writing, "Oh, he didn't really beat Siggie, you should listen to him, he's a Gawdly man!"

I just can't deal with that for very long. What he said, was this: (quoted from the above forum)


"Please don't misunderstand me. Siggie is a member of our family and we love him dearly. And despite his anarchistic nature, I have finally taught him to obey a few simple commands. However, we had some classic battles before he reluctantly yielded to my authority.

"The greatest confrontation occurred a few years ago when I had been in Miami for a three-day conference. I returned to observe that Siggie had become boss of the house while I was gone. But I didn't realize until later that evening just how strongly he felt about his new position as Captain.

"At eleven o'clock that night, I told Siggie to go get into his bed, which is a permanent enclosure in the family room. For six years I had given him that order at the end of each day, and for six years Siggie had obeyed.

"On this occasion, however, he refused to budge. You see, he was in the bathroom, seated comfortably on the furry lid of the toilet seat. That is his favorite spot in the house, because it allows him to bask in the warmth of a nearby electric heater..."

"When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie's way of saying. "Get lost!"

"I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me "reason" with Mr. Freud."

What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!" -- The Strong Willed Child
[emphasis added]

OK, please tell me you caught that. Epic battles of will with a dachshund... a fucking wiener dog! But Dobson won that battle of wills, and that little dog went to sleep in his bed.

Unfortunately that's pretty much what he teaches you need to do with your kids, too. You beat the shit out of them when they do something you don't like. You also let them cry for 2 minutes, maybe 5 after you beat the fuck out of them, and if they cry longer-- many because you welted the shit out of them-- they're just faking and probably need another beating. I wish I was making this up... but I'm not.

My mother read all his books, and as I've said before we were beaten. I remember many times I was told "stop crying!" so I'd have to suck in the pain as far as I could so that I didn't offend her by "faking it". 

When I was taking a Government class in college I wrote about marriage equality. I remember the professor telling us we had to argue legality, not our opinion-- it couldn't be "I don't like it, so therefore it's bad, mmmkay?" I dug up a lot of legal briefs, and turned in a bibliography that was longer than the paper, but I wanted to do it right! One of the sources I used to illustrate the circular reasoning that people have against marriage equality, was Dobson. He wrote a particularly pathetic book called Marriage Under Fire: Why We Must Win This Battle

Dobson pulled out all the stops, let no stupid go unturned to prove that us queers ought never be able to get married! Marriage Equality will destroy marriage! It will make everyone become poly's! (Yes, he actually argued that polyamoury would be a normal circumstance if gay men and women could get married!) That was of course part of his incest and bestiality point, though-- because everyone knows if gays get married lots of christian people will marry their dogs. Just ask Santorum! I think he'll probably be first in line for that dog-man license.**

Another point Dobson made, and the whole reason I brought up that book was that because children handle change so terribly they could never handle two mothers or two father-- and what if they got divorced! Then they might have four of each! Oh the humanity! And all those grandparents! No, not that! Wait, it gets better.

What does he illustrate his point with? The fact that some children "have been known to eat the same brand of peanut butter through childhood". I prefer Jif, myself, does this mean I'm averse to change? I ate it the whole time I was growing up!

I enjoyed the paper, researching and writing it. I especially enjoyed the oral presentation and demolishing the "OH My God! Gays sex is icky!" questions I got from the couple of resident christianists. But I never forgot the peanut butter argument. I mean, shit, if that's the best  you can come up with, Fucking Peanut Butter?! Shows me anti-equality people don't have much of a case, do they?

I bring this all up as background. See, FotF has consistently and loudly been anti-LGBT for many years. So much so that they have refused to meet with people regarding their stances, and regularly tell us how evil we are.

This is still going on, even though Dobson stepped down in 2003. Last week, they told us that queer kids aren't depressed because they're being mistreated and bullied, but because they're queer!

Of course! That's what it is! It's our identity and inner-self that's driving us to kill ourselves! Damn, how did we miss that shit!

Here, I thought it was because of all those bigoted pricks telling us we're going to hell!

Damn.

GLAAD has a good article here, about it. The opening paragraph states, "Focus on the Family affiliate CitizenLink said in a radio segment this morning that teens “who identify as homosexual and transgender” are unhappy and engage in risky behavior not because they face discrimination, but rather because of how they self-identify. This claim is in response to a recently released report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), called Growing Up LGBT in America." [Links in original, emphasis added]

Yyyeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh. Because of how we identify.

I'm not a teen, of course. I still remember being a kid, and trying to figure out who I was. I remember the butterflies I'd get when I'd see Annie Lennox-- she was my first female crush. I remember feeling alone, because no one else seemed to feel that way. I thought there was something wrong with me!

It's so much worse for our brothers and sisters who are transgendered! Teen gays and lesbians often try to pass. If they're lucky, their parents support them. Trans-kids often don't have that support-- and coupled that with the fact that they're one gender in their heads, and a completely different sex in their bodies-- it's no wonder transmen and -woman turn to drugs to self-medicate! Our community wasn't been very welcoming, either, I might add! Transmen and -woman are often overlooked, or made the butt of jokes. This is just as bad as making dyke jokes, or nasty comments about "nellies". We're better than that, goddammit!

Anyway, off my tangent. For now...

FotF has a decently-sized following amongst the various versions of fundie-christianity. Even without Dobson at the helm it sells his lies and propaganda, and he's made millions of dollars dispensing his parenting advice over the years. Dobson is looked at as a "man of Gawd" and treated with the same mythical respect as any ordained minister (Remember the phrase I wrote of before? "Don't touch God's anointed!" This means you can't question him, either. These people think Dobson's anointed). I've actually heard preachers quote him and call him "The Reverend", even though he's a psychologist, not a preacher.

So when FotF says that being queer or trans makes kids depressed, people will believe them! People will believe that it's not the discrimination or bullying, that it's not the constant taunts of "faggot" or "butch", but that we identify as queer that makes us predisposed to hurt ourselves. People will believe that, and continue to blame us for the evils of their making.

So, what can we do?

It's hard, really. The only people I know who listen to that shit are my grandparents. They're the missionaries, remember? They seem to think that Dobson and FotF are divinely inspired! I'm surprised they don't pray over his books like they do their bibles, asking for guidance! So they already can't be reasoned with. When I wrote the paper I mentioned above my mother threw a fit! She listens to FotF occasionally, too-- or did, I dunno if her boyfriend is religious. She tried circularly arguing with me: "it's wrong because the bible says it's wrong, and it's illegal, so it's wrong!"

When I finally got her to shut up long enough to explain that I wasn't dealing with the perception of morality-- but the legality, and that legally there was no reason for marriage to be denied on the basis of the genders of the two persons she stopped. One time in my life I got through to her on legality-- it was a short-lived victory that ended when she asked if she could read it. She was pretty pissed off that I dismantled Dobson like that, but couldn't show me where I was advocating anything illegal.***

I've written letters to FotF's Colorado Springs headquarters every year or so decrying their treatment of women, children and the LGBT community. I've explained that advocating child abuse is wrong, and discrimination against anyone is not what their Jesus said to do. I know there are groups that protest outside the HQ's compound (it's fucking huge!) and will continue to do so.

But we're not getting through. And we won't. There are too many people who have invested too much energy into keeping their normative environment, their personal outlook on the world, anti-queer. They need to hate us, because otherwise they'll hate themselves, I think. Shit, how many of them already to hate themselves??

So what we do is make sure we give, time, money, whatever we can, to our local LGBT teen outreaches! We speak loud and lone, screaming if we have to, that these kids are OK, and loved, and whole in themselves-- That there is Not a damned thing wrong with being queer! Not a damned thing! 

We be there for these teens, and we work to overturn laws that protect bullies and haters. We refuse to accept "religious conscience" as a reason for them hating us, and if you're religious: Take Back Your Faith! Don't let these people take your life's philosophy away and turn it so evil!

That's what we do. We shine the light on these creeps, and watch them scuttle like the cockroaches they are. Evil can't flourish where the light of truth is... so let's shine the truth everywhere we can.

We just tell FotF to Focus on their own Families, and leave ours alone. We tell them over and over and over. We make queer families that support, enfold and love these kids and adults who have been thrown out of their birth families. We show FotF that we're just as good as they are, and we love harder than they do. Because we love unconditionally... we love everyone, not just the people who agree with us.

 






*Imagine my surprise when I was trying to figure out how to spell that one, and found "Whit's End"-- that was the name of the store, I think, that figured highly in the audio-stories. Evidently they still make these broadcasts. You can see for yourself, if you're feeling brave, and don't mind mindless propaganda.

**Yes, I risked offending readers there. However, I've thought long and hard about that particular argument, and it's the only thing I can think of, as a reason why! Think about it, if the only thing keeping these people, who all profess to be "good christians", and are often fundies, from the slippery slope of bestiality is getting married to a woman, then I guess I understand why they'd be reluctant to change the definition of marriage to make it more inclusive. Then their weird zoophiliac tendencies would come out, I guess. At least that's how they present themselves-- why else would that be the first thing they say when asked to explain why they don't support the right of two adults to get married? 

Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

***If it's not already obvious, I don't believe that marital equality is immoral. It's immoral to deny two persons, who are adults and willing, the ability to marry if they so choose. The premise of the paper was "pick a side and argue legally, how such a thing should, or should not be." Topics included marital equality, legalising pot, prayer in schools, stuff like that. One person had to pick the pro- side, and another picked the con- side. No one wanted to argue against me, though, I was pretty disappointed. But in a debate setting, your opinions do not matter-- only logic and reason. That's how I got through to her, that one time. It was pretty sweet!

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