Kill the Beast

Back when I taught high school English, I did an introductory lesson for The Crucible that introduced students to the concept of a “witch hunt.” I used “The Mob Song” from Beauty and the Beast, in which the villain, Gaston, whips the townspeople into a frenzy so that they will help him kill the Beast.

The Beast will make off with your children! He’ll come after them in the night! We’re not safe until his head is mounted on my wall. I say we kill the Beast!

Gaston doesn’t really believe any of this. His reasons for wanting to be rid of the Beast are selfish ones, but he uses fear to manipulate the townspeople into doing what he wants.

And it works. Frightened people, it turns out, are easy to manipulate. Soon, they are marching–with literal pitchforks and torches–to help Gaston kill the Beast, who was never really a threat to anyone.

We don’t like what we don’t understand
In fact, it scares us…

The words are simple, but I think they get to something at the heart of human nature.

So, why am I talking about this? Well, I originally started writing this quite a while ago, because of something I saw posted to facebook last year…an article about an organized boycott of Target, because of Target’s announced policy in response to so-called “bathroom bills” like the one passed in North Carolina.

Since then, this issue has come to the forefront again, as the current administration has moved to roll back protections for transgender individuals put in place by President Obama.

As transgender people have become more and more visible in mainstream culture, I’ve been seeing increased fear and panic coming from ordinary people. That fear and panic is, I think, genuine…but I believe it’s being stoked by various Gastons at various levels of political and cultural leadership.

Gaston’s goal was to remove the things he saw as obstacles to Belle marrying him. I’m truthfully not sure what the goal is here. (I have some guesses, but I’ll keep them to myself for now….that’s not really my point.)

I am far from being an expert on trans issues, but I do have a number of transgender friends and acquaintances. I do feel entirely comfortable in saying that they want what everyone wants: to be allowed to live their lives peacefully and be treated with dignity and respect. That dignity and respect includes being allowed to use public restrooms without being harassed or arrested. (and trust me, they are far more likely to be harassed or assaulted in a public restroom than you are.)

Chances are good that you, and your children, have been sharing public restrooms with transgender people without incident for some time now. You haven’t noticed. I’m not sure why people think, now, that this will somehow open a door for perverted straight cisgender men to pretend to be trans women for nefarious purposes. (There is no evidence at all that this has happened/is happening. And I submit…if there are actually people doing or wanting to do this, do you somehow think the lack of a specific law preventing it has been stopping them?) Also, there are plenty of people whose appearances don’t conform to “accepted” gender standards, regardless of how they identify…I’ve already seen a number of news stories involving cisgender* women being thrown out of women’s restrooms for this very reason.

I feel like I’m wandering away from my point, so I’ll end with this: “the Beast” is not a danger. In fact, I submit to you that, in this case, the Beast does not even exist. Don’t listen to those who are telling you to be afraid.

If you want to read more about this, here are a handful of articles I’ve come across that I thought were informative and well-written.

Stop Using Your Children As An Excuse To Be A Hateful Human Being (Scary Mommy)

North Carolina transgender student asks to meet governor over ‘bathroom bill’  (Today)

Top 10 Myths About Transgender People (Everyday Feminism)

Transgender People: 10 Common Myths (Vox)

(Please share your suggestions for additional reading on the topic, if you’ve got them)

*cisgender just means identifying with the gender you were assigned at birth.

We Shall Be Free

I used to listen to country music a lot more, before the world went a little bit crazy. I was a pretty big Garth Brooks fan, and I love this song. I heard it today, and I just felt like it needed to be shared.

When we’re free to love anyone we choose,
When this world’s big enough for all different views,
When we’re all free to worship from our own kind of pews,
Then we shall be free.

I wonder what the fans would think of Garth now…

What he said

After I read this aloud to him:

oh, pleez

And expressed my opinion that this, clearly, is NOT what Glenn Beck wants, Rand replied:

“sure he does. he wants us scared shitless, and willing to do whatever the republicans tell us.”

Yesterday in St. Marys…

tomorrow at Allegheny.

There’s only one explanation:

President Clinton is stalking me.



An open letter to the Catholic Church

Dear Catholic Church,

Please consider this my official resignation. I am done with you.

I’ve long disagreed with your views on a lot of issues, not the least of which are your silly rules regarding the priesthood (boys only, no marriage allowed). But this, this was absolutely the last straw.

No gay priests, you say? Good luck with that.



Argh. I find this offensive on many levels…but I’ll stick with what I find most offensive based on what I thought was the Church’s position on homosexuality. Homosexuality, they say, is not a sin unless it is acted upon. Since ALL priests are supposed to be celibate, how is a homosexual priest a problem? If it is a problem (and clearly it is for them), they’re either negating that idea that it is the action, and not the tendency toward it that is the sin, or saying that it’s impossible for a homosexual person to remain celibate. I have a problem with both.

Or perhaps they’re still trying to crawl out from under that rubble of the sex abuse scandal, thus (again) equating homosexuality with pedophilia. And we all know what I think about that.

Not that I think this will work, anyway…because it just means that seminaries will maintain a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Because really, how would you prove it? Will they keep people out on suspicion of homosexuality? I can’t wait to see them crying about the vocations crisis they have if this happens.

Apparently, I’m an anomaly

So my paper publishes this column by George Weigel that regularly gets me all riled up. I happened to be correcting the page with this column today. Here are some of my favorite bits:

Judging from the post-election reaction of his more fervent journalistic and academic supporters, the Kerry candidacy was attractive because it represented the Europeanization, which is to say “secularization,” of American public life. A Kerry presidency would keep the great unwashed hordes of evangelicals at bay; a Kerry presidency would put assertive Catholic bishops in their place, leaving the field to the more “understanding” staffers at the bishops’ conference and their episcopal allies; a Kerry presidency would regulate biotechnology in utilitarian terms (what works, we’ll do); a Kerry presidency would support the federal courts’ efforts to legislate social policy, thus nailing down “choice” as the supreme value involved in the “social issues;” a Kerry presidency would insist that the right to life of the unborn and the traditional understanding of marriage are matters of “doctrine” that “cannot be imposed on a pluralistic society;” above all, a Kerry presidency would secure a virtually unlimited abortion license, the key to sustaining the “gains” (as these folks understand them) of the sexual revolution and the women’s movement.

First of all, ‘secularization’ of American public life? This is a bad thing? America is not Catholic. America is not Christian. I don’t understand. As I’ve said before, one of the things I liked about Kerry was his determination to keep private faith out of public office. Some people don’t seem to notice that we do, in fact, HAVE a pluralistic society. I personally believe that it IS wrong for a government to impose its morals/values onto the society at large, onto people who don’t agree or believe as they do.

Religious faith, in a European-style Kerry presidency, would be thoroughly privatized: a matter of what Americans do with their solitude, to paraphrase William James. Publicly assertive Catholics, and the even more rambunctious evangelicals, would be dealt a crushing blow.

A crushing blow? Again, I don’t get it. If someone running for president was dead-set on taking away the freedom to worship as one chooses, I would understand. If someone were telling “publicly assertive Catholics” and evangelicals that they would have to shut up and *abandon* their faith instead of simply saying that we (as a country) should acknowledge that not everyone here shares the same faith, well…that would be a different story.

What Kerry’s secularist supporters can’t seem to understand is that the evangelicals, the John Paul II Catholics, and the observant Jews don’t need explaining; what needs explaining is the Harvard faculty club, Michael Moore, and most of the op-ed regulars at the New York Times–people who’ve persuaded themselves that a profound belief in the God of the Bible, expressed in a commitment to live by the Ten Commandments, is the fast track to fascism. They’re the anomaly, not the believers.

First of all, how does 48 percent of the country become defined as “the anomaly”? Second of all, does anyone actually believe this? The problem is not, as Weigel says, “a profound belief in the God of the Bible.” The problem is the possibility of the government forcing that belief (or at least the outward manifestations of that belief, ie gay marriage) onto the American public.

I’m not even gonna touch the abortion/stem cell research stuff.

My head hurts.

Something that irks me

I just got one of those Catholic email forwards, this one a call to action to block Sen. Arlen Specter from becoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.



Soon, the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee must select a chairman to replace the term-limited Sen. Orin Hatch, who generally has voted pro-life. Ordinarily, this job would go to the most-senior Republican committee member who does not chair some other major committee. However, in this case, that senior committee member is Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

Specter would be a disaster as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He has a strongly pro-abortion record, and he is one of the leading champions of human cloning. In 1987, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, Specter played a key role in defeating President Reagan’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Robert Bork, an opponent of Roe.

On Nov. 3, the day after the election, Specter said he considers Roe v. Wade “inviolate,” and indicated that nominees who do not support abortion cannot be confirmed.

The term “pro-abortion” is what I find most irksome. I’ve said this before, I know, but I’ll say it again. I would be shocked to speak to someone who *likes* the idea of abortion. This terminology was so ingrained into my consciousness that it wasn’t until I went to college that I realized one could be pro-choice AND be personally opposed to the idea of abortion. That’s, like, what pro-choice means. The notion of being “pro-abortion” is completely ludicrous to me.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that what Specter said is that he doesn’t believe Roe should be oveturned, and that he would not be in favor of confirming nominees who do. Which is not quite what this email says.

Bad, bad Republican Arlen Specter, for not falling in with the super-conservative party line. You are eeeeeeevil.

Right on…

Sometimes you read something and think, “Damn. I wish I had written that.”

This is one of those times.

Please hop over to Tequila Mockingbird and read this post about the presidential election.

Apart from the bit about once being a registered Republican, I’m with her all the way.

I’m scared, too.

The one thing that I will add is that, it seems to me, the country has become more divided in these past few years, not less so. It makes me sad. It makes me even sadder that I do not have one ounce of faith in President Bush’s willingness or ability to put us back together.

It makes me sad to know that so many of my fellow Americans’ “morals” hinge on hate and intolerance.

Yesterday, while I was in my editor’s office, I spotted a letter to the editor written in response to a local Catholic college’s participation in National Coming Out Day. This woman was outraged and sickened by the display. I wish I had a copy of the letter in front of me. It sickened me. I don’t understand how so many people can spew such venom in the name of God. If your God tells you such hatred is good, just and holy, I don’t want any part of it.

How can these people call themselves Christians? I will never understand.

Just like a prayer

I did this interview a couple of weeks ago with a staunch pro-life couple for a story in our upcoming “Respect Life” supplement.

These are the days when I realize that I cannot do this job for long. Every fiber of my being cries out against it.

They were nice people, really. They invited me into their home for the interview and ordered pizza. They were nothing but kind and courteous.

But seriously, these folks are more Catholic than the freakin’ Pope.

Upon my first few moments with them, I learned that the wife home schools their 3 school-age boys while also caring for an infant. Of course she does. Send them to (gasp!) school?

The angle on this story is that these two make a monthly pilgrimage to the big city for a novena at one of the local churches…they pray the rosary, then process down to the women’s clinic for some quiet protest.

I brought the photos to our photographer for scanning. He looked at them, and said “Ah, the Main Street Crazies.”


The one thing I can say in their favor is that at least they are quiet protestors. These aren’t the people screaming obscenities, or holding up giant fetus signs, or shooting doctors. They’re quietly loony.

Before we began the interview, they handed me two typed sheets of their “thoughts.” I started reading, and just wanted to scream. Here’s a sample”

It is interesting how the prophesy of Fatima is becoming a reality. It was foretold that the evils of Russia would spread throughout the world. In fact, Russia was the first country to legalize abortion. Lenin directed many of his attacks toward family life…Lenin hated religion…it looks very much like the liberal agenda in our country today. Unfortunately, the majority of Catholics are sleeping and do not see the evil of the ultra-liberal politicians, who are getting a free ride from liberal media.

(yep. that nasty liberal media again…)

It is very critical that we elect pro-life and pro-family politicians to the office so that we can protect not only traditional marriage and the lives of the most innocent, but also elect God-fearing judges. Otherwise OUR FREEDOMS WILL BE TAKEN AWAY by rulings like Massachusetts made recently on gay marriages.

(emphasis mine. I fail to see how anyone’s freedoms are infringed upon by allowing gay couples the same rights as straight ones…but that’s just me.)

Contraception closes the door to God and hardens hearts. We need to acknowledge this important fact. Priests should not be afraid to preach on this subject.

(Hi there. My name’s Erin, and I’m on birth control. Pleased to meet you.)

There’s not enough orthodoxy preached in the pulpit. The priests are afraid.

I wonder where the whole of the Catholic church (the body of the Church, that is…not the controlling entities) stand on these issues. Do most people believe as this couple believes, or are there more people who feel as I do? Will the American Catholic church remain intact, or is there a split on the horizon? Or, will the disillusioned Catholics end up dropping off, leaving the Church in search of something else…something more progressive, less tied to the past? And if that happens, I wonder who will be left…I suspect it will be a lot of rosary-clutching old women and a smattering of people like this couple.

Make a difference!

Just because I got this email in my inbox this afternoon, I think I’m going to call my senators and tell them I’m opposed.

Your Calls are Impacting the Federal Marriage Amendment VoteWe have been encouraging you to call your Senators and ask them to vote to preserve traditional marriage by passing the Federal Marriage Amendment. As of today, 37 Senators support the FMA, 46 oppose it and 17 are uncommitted. Within the last few days, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has decided to support the FMA. It is reported that calls to Florida Senator Bill Nelson’s office are running 1000 to 1 in favor of the FMA, yet he still opposes the FMA.

Some Senators have received so many calls that they have installed automated message lines in their Washington, D.C. office. If you cannot reach their Washington office, then call one of their district offices. We have a list of all the Senators and their telephone numbers at It is important that you continue to call until the vote is over. A number of Senators are listed as “uncommitted” but frankly, an “uncommitted” position is a vote for same-sex marriage.

I am in Washington, D.C. today in meetings with Senators and others on the FMA and I will be attending the hearings tomorrow. We have just learned that, due to some last minute maneuvering, there may be only a procedural vote or a filibuster to stop debate on the FMA. Even if you have called your senators, it is important to call them again today. Ask them to resist the procedural vote and threats of a filibuster and vote on the FMA itself. The Senators should not try to hide their position on the issue. You deserve to know whether your Senators really support the FMA or not. The only way to know for sure is to see how they vote. Please continue to pray for our nation and its leaders. This is truly a historic moment.