Dear Jeremy Clarkson,

Look, mate, we all knew you were a bit of an arsehole, but that’s why we love you. You’re a twat, but an affable twat and you make us laugh. It’s your job and you are good at it. But given the appalling number of high profile middle-aged and elderly white men saying awful things about people of colour recently, you’ve really gone and cocked things up. The BBC is considering dropping you for your thoughtless use of the N-word, and if they go through with it I won’t feel sorry for you. Top Gear could get on just fine without you.

But I’m not entirely heartless. To help people like yourself, Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling, and other privileged geniuses who think they have something to say about “the negro,” I’ve created this handy chart to help you know when it’s appropriate to say the N-word.

You’re welcome.

Oh. That’s Too Bad.

This weekend I went to a baby shower for an LDS friend of mine. The party was almost entirely made up of what you usually see in Relief Society — slightly overweight, harried looking mothers with threadbare smiles and enough neuroses to prevent conversation about anything more complicated than quiche recipes. Other than myself, there was only one other apostate present — a dear friend who thought her way out of the church after too many engineering and philosophy courses at university. She hasn’t formally resigned her membership yet, but it’s been some time since she attended church and won’t be going back.

Neither of us mind attending LDS events. Baby showers, baby blessings, wedding receptions and the like are important enough that everyone should be able to look past differences and help each other celebrate the milestones we cross in life. I must confess to getting a bit fidgety at this event. Although I got to cuddle the newborn for a good long while, I was having trouble striking up conversation with the vapid Aryan hausfraus present. They couldn’t talk about themselves. They didn’t seem to have passions, interests

I was getting rather annoyed with myself. I didn’t want to think that I’m incapable of relating to Mormons any more, but I worried that I’ve drifted too far. Still, I stubbornly hoped that I’d find some way to be charitable toward these women and find a way to connect with them.

And then I walked up to my fellow apostate, who was conversing with Sister Soccermom.

Sister Soccermom had recently discovered that my friend had just become engaged to her boyfriend, who is a wonderful, intelligent, hard-working man of excellent character. He’s also non-white and non-Mormon. Sister Soccermom made the usual inquiries. She also learned that he was very dedicated to ensuring that both partners in the relationship finished their advanced degrees. She learned that they met in their robotics class. She learned that he was a brilliant engineer who had proposed to my friend by taking her on a romantic dinner cruise and popping the question at the bow of the ship under the stars.

Not that any of that mattered, because she then asked the only question that an LDS woman seriously considers. “Where did he serve his mission?”

Sister Soccermom was informed that my friend’s fiancé was not Mormon.

“Oh,” said Sister Soccermom disdainfully, within hearing of everyone in the room. “That’s too bad.”

It was a good thing I was holding a sleeping newborn at the time, because only the fear of dropping the baby prevented me from bitch-slapping Sister Soccermom. My friend and I were both appalled. The woman knew nothing about my friend or her fiancé. To say that to anyone, let alone a complete stranger, was beyond inappropriate. But the very sad thing is that it was not shocking. That sort of reaction is par for the course. Nobody seemed offended by the remark other than myself and my friend.

It was a moment that confirmed something I’ve sensed for a very long time: I’m not Mormon any more. I used to think that part of me would always be Mormon. But other than making jam and changing my own tyres, I can’t think like a Mormon any more. It’s all slipped away. And thank goodness.

The post that will get me excommunicated

I didn’t pay any attention to Ginrul Confernz, as my BYU brethren were wont to pronounce it. I spent the weekend pubbing and clubbing in my hometown. (It’s the rather sprawly one with the horribly oversized airport on the lower right corner of the map.) The advantage of this laziness is that I can reap the fruit of everyone else’s labour.

Looks like most of the talks were the usual — follow the prophet, gender roles, tithing, missionary work et cetera et cetera. Apart from honourable mention given to the soppy yet sweet talk on gratitude by CEO Monson, the headline-grabber was Boyd K. Packer’s latest assault on The Gay.

This evening @porlob put forth the question: “Anyone else starting to think Boyd K. Packer is a big ol’ closet-case? He’s always had hangups on sex and and gayness.”

The answer: Yes. Unequivocally, absolutely, unreservedly. No person who devotes as much of their professional career as Packer has to sexual repression and denial can possibly be a healthy individual. Given the timely release of the most comprehensive study of American sexual behaviour ever, it seems that 8% of American males are gay or bisexual. (My guess is that the number is likely a percentage point or two higher, given that homosexuality is very likely to be under-reported due to stigma.) Eight percent. Let’s see. There are twelve apostles in the LDS church. What’s one divided by twelve? Gee whiz, it’s eight percent.

Based on pure statistics, somebody in the quorum is just a little more fabulous than the rest. My money’s on Packer. He was the 10th of 11 children; younger sons are more likely to be gay. Each older brother increases the probability of being gay by a third. Packer is the fifth son.

It’s interesting that all published accounts of Packer’s courtship with his wife, Donna, show her as the initiator. The story goes that Packer was asked to give a talk in a ward he did not usually attend. His future wife was present and thought to herself “Now, this is the type of man I would wish to marry.”

If there’s one central theme to Packer’s career, it’s self-denial. Glancing over the greatest hits of his career, it’s easy to see the signs of a deeply conflicted man who represses himself so badly that he can’t ponder a world where all men don’t need similar restraints. This is a bloke who disdains art and music if it doesn’t serve a utilitarian function of promoting “The Spirit.” I found a fairly comprehensive list of his speeches, and a disproportionate number are addressed at the youth, and a disproportionate number address masturbation, sex and pornography. It is nearly impossible for him to give a talk that is aimed at youth without sexualising them to some degree. These highlights stuck out at me, and I think they offer us a glimpse into his state of mind when we consider that his talks may be aimed at himself as much as they were at us:

  1. 1965: I’m a Person: In an uncharacteristic speech, Packer tells us we should “feel free, perfectly free, uninhibited” and affirms the importance of feeling like “a person” with “eternal worth.” This hardly sounds like the mean-spirited old man we hear from today.
  2. 1970: The Path to Manhood: Packer’s appropriately-titled début as a member of the twelve highlights the necessity of marrying a woman in the temple and pillow talk with his military bunkmate in which he asks “What did I do wrong?” He relates how a military supervisor told him that he was too uptight and needed to go out and have some fun. Packer congratulates himself for never giving in to self-gratification.
  3. 1972: Why Stay Morally Clean?: Packer tells teenagers to stay out of each others’ pants. Sex is only for procreation, and nobody has any reason to grope one another.
  4. 1976: To Young Men Only: Don’t touch yourself. Self-gratification is evil. Gay sex is evil. If you touch yourself, you will go gay. If someone tries to get gay with you, beat them up.
  5. 1981: Marriage – Divorce is evil. Sex is only permitted in marriage. Do not lose faith in marriage. Do not lose faith in marriage. Do not lose faith in marriage.
  6. 1986: Little Children – The top two gravest threats to children are the idea that any two adults can have sex even if they aren’t married and “misuse of that procreative power in degraded acts of perversion is widely promoted as the right of consenting adults.” The biggest threat to kids is two people enjoying themselves in a consensual relationship. Not lack of access to education, physical abuse, or malnutrition.
  7. 1989: To Young Women and Men – AIDS and crack and Satanism is your doom if you give into temptation.
  8. 1993: Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council – Gays, lesbians, feminists and intellectuals (all groups that advocate self-acceptance and explosion of stigmatising gender roles) are the greatest threat the church faces.
  9. 1996: The Unwritten Order of Things – Even when you are dead, you don’t deserve to have some attention for yourself. Even your funeral needs to be co-opted as a marketing tool for The Church. High-ranking priesthood leaders should never indulge themselves and come down from the stand to sit with their families during church. Don’t ever ask to be released from a calling.
  10. 1997: The Father and the Family – Packer begins with an overtly sexual definition of why people have families but later reprises his wish that everyone can feel like “a person.”
  11. 2009: Counsel to Young Men – Stay pure and worthy. Don’t wank and don’t let anyone else wank for you.
  12. 2010: October Conference – Gay is a choice. The church will continue to try to stigmatise homosexual relationships by preventing them from gaining social and legal standing.

It makes sense that a man who refuses to confront his own sexuality would give sermons demonizing free thought demonising self-indulgence. The most telling passage, for me, comes from “For Young Men Only.” Dim the lights and read this passage aloud to yourself in a sultry voice. It quickly becomes clear that no person comfortable with their sexuality could have possibly imagined that the following would have any value in a meeting meant for spiritual education:

Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to do this. Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord. There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.

Now skip to the following and imagine yourself alone in a room, penning these words, tears trickling down your face as you force yourself to believe them:

There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just “that way” and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men –masculine, manly men –ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.

Verbal self-flagellation if I ever read it. If you are trying to force yourself to believe such words, the best method would be to get others to believe them too. The level of obsession is ridiculous. Packer’s in the closet, but the door is made of glass. The cheap shot that I simply can’t avoid taking is the irony of a repressed self-loathing gay man with the surname of “Packer.” He is someone to be pitied and loathed. When he shuffles off the mortal coil, the world will be a better place. In different circumstances, he could have led a happier and more productive life. However, the part of me that wants to forgive him for being the victim of a system that assaulted his identity from birth is overwhelmed by the part of me that holds him responsible for the deaths of countless LGBT youth.

Come out of the closet, Boyd. It isn’t too late. You can’t take back the years of agony you inflicted on the trusting souls who believed you spoke for God, but now that you’re at the end of your life and your health is beginning to fail, would it really be so bad to go through the last rite of honesty?

You’re not gay, just a little retarded

LDS theology does not make room for homosexuality. The Proclamation on the Family declares the LDS binary construct of gender to be “an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” The strict model of male-female gender roles is broken by homosexuality, transsexuality, and intersex people.

In the early days, homosexuality was not addressed at all, a reflection of Victorian-era society where sex was rarely mentioned in public at all. With the industrial revolution came the shocking idea that heterosexual people could marry for love. (See every Jane Austen novel for examples of her frighteningly progressive views on love matches, which came to destroy society as we knew it.) Ironically, when marriage as a civil, familial, economic contract was destroyed and the institution was radically overhauled as a matter of personal choice, this set the stage for homosexuals to demand rights for themselves as well. After all, if relationships are about love and not civil contracts for financial, procreative, and dynastic purposes, then what’s gender got to do with it? By the 1960’s, gay people were no longer being sentenced to hard labour for their lifestyles. They were insisting: “We exist, we are not perverts, and we are people just like you who desire love and affection in stable relationships.”

Homosexuality is slowly being understood as a normal variant of human behaviour. But we’re still not there by a long shot. In the United States, the president has a pathetic stance on gay marriage, and in Britain homosexuals have full equal rights in civil unions, but not the word marriage. (Although many, gay and straight, don’t really care due to Britain being one of the least religious places on the planet.) Mormons can object, but they can no longer pretend that homosexuality doesn’t exist.

The new tack they’ve taken is to imply that some people aren’t gay, they’re just a little retarded. Homosexuality is just a disability, and those with it have nothing to contribute to society and need to be kept out of the way. You know, like Downs Syndrome. These poor souls don’t understand that their abominable sexual desires are just the result of being malformed. This approach allows the LDS Church to quietly begin accepting the biological basis for homosexuality, but by lumping it in with unwanted natural diseases, they can continue to make attempts to repair people who are afflicted by it.

The Prop 8 fireside was laced with the language of pity, repeatedly discrediting homosexuality as a legitimate state of being and encouraging people to show loving condescension to those afflicted by “same-gender attraction,” as the Church prefers to call it.

“I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalise‐sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies either individually or as a group. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God.”

“Nothing we say here can be used as an excuse to treat those with same gender attractions partially or disrespectfully.”

“There are faithful temple‐worthy members of the church who struggle with this great challenge, often in silence, fear, and great pain. Our hearts go out to these good brothers and sisters even as we uphold the divine truths the Lord has revealed about marriage.”

“We don’t discriminate. We have friends that are gay. It’s just that we believe, and we want to stand up for family.”

In fact, the Church is so happy to look after these poor impaired souls that they’ve even featured one on the new mormon.org. Marishia, who lives in Maui (screenshot just in case this page disappears), describes the horror of being plagued by gayness. Keep in mind that every one of these entries is vetted by the proprietors of mormon.org, and this is an official source of information about LDS beliefs:

“Drugs, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, and geographical moves were ways I used to cope with the depressing and suicidal thoughts I had about being a homosexual.”

i.e. Homosexuality is the cause of self-destructive behaviour. Self-destructive behaviour is not the result of internal crisis and self-loathing compounded by rejection by family, church, and society. See how it really works?

“When I prayed to know why I was born homosexual a few hours later I received my answer. I have come to understand that homosexuality is similar to a physical defect and in the next life I will no longer have this physical defect, therefore I will no longer be a homosexual. I know that Heavenly Father loves the homosexual, but not the act. As long as I don’t act upon these feelings and I follow the example of my Savior Jesus Christ I will be able to return once again to live with my Heavenly Father.”

Ah, yes, now I understand. Allowing homosexuals to do what they like is akin to removing the safety helmets from window lickers and allowing them to run wild with a pair of scissors in each fist. We’re really just looking out for their well-being by refusing to recognise them as complete people with the right to freely choose a love-based relationship. If these poor little retards can just refrain from leg-humping other retards, then on resurrection morning they can wake up non-retarded and properly attracted to the genitalia God wants them to procreate with.

How could I have gotten it so wrong?

How Prop 8’s overturn will turn people gay

One of the hysterical claims regarding Proposition 8 is that it will turn our children gay. The legalisation of gay marriage, proponents claimed, would awaken young impressionable innocents to the idea that they could choose to be gay. These poor little heterosexuals will defect to the ranks of the gays.

They are right; legalisation of gay marriage will mean more gay people in our society, but not for the reason they think. There will be “more” gay people not because anybody has converted, but because people who are already gay will not feel obligated to fake it any more. Fewer people will repress their innate selves. Fewer people will fake heterosexuality to meet the demands of their unforgiving families and churches. Fewer people will engage in inappropriate marriages and find relationships that are truly lasting and fulfilling.

The gays aren’t coming to get your children; they are your children. Homosexuals are not on the rise; they are already here.

Anti-gay activists refuse to accept this because it means accepting that “my descendant, my DNA contained the building blocks of gay.” As long as homosexuality is a choice, homophobic people to not have to acknowledge that contained within them are the a genetic, epigenetic, and congenital factors that produce gay people.

Many parents refuse to confront the reality that their bodies produced a child with unwanted characteristics, because they would have to acknowledge that their chromosome gave their child Down’s Syndrome or their DNA gave their child Autism. Notorious activist Jenny McCarthy comes to mind as someone who will do anything, however damaging, to convince herself that an outside force and not her body was the thing that gave her son autism. Similarly, anti-gay parents will do anything to exonerate themselves from having any part in producing a homosexual child.

We need to remove this mindset from parents of gay children. Gay is not a choice. Gay is not a disease. Gay is not anybody’s fault, because there is no fault to be had. Like having green eyes or black skin, sexuality is just one piece of the package we’re handed at birth.

Jesus would have done the same

Just wanted to give a shoutout to the wonderful God-fearing parents of Fulton, Mississippi who have protected the integrity of their righteous Christian children by throwing a secret prom to keep lesbian teen Constance McMillen from attending. Stories are pouring in that McMillen and her girlfriend were sent to a fake prom along with half a dozen other students, including the school’s special needs kids. Meanwhile, all the good little heterosexuals got to party down at the real prom, held in a secret location safely hidden from any taint of gay.

This is brilliant. Jesus is so proud of you all. He would have done the same — remember all those parts in the Bible where he taught that people who aren’t cool have no place in our society?

If I were an efficiency consultant . . .

. . . and the National Organization for Marriage told me that their number one goal was to create a wall around marriage as the union of a man and woman “to promote naturally procreative sexual activity in a stable and enduring relationship,” here is a list of things I would recommend they target before even getting anywhere near gays. Again, this is purely from a let’s-take-them-at-their-word standpoint. If that’s the end goal — a man, a woman, children or at least attempting to have children in a “naturally procreative way,” then here’s what they should really be after:

  1. Ban divorce. Approximately 50% of married heterosexuals divorce. This means that even if every homosexual in the country married another homosexual, these unions would be numerically insignificant when compared to the marriages destroyed by divorce. And unlike gay marriage, divorce can be demonstrated to actually have an adverse affect on marriage in that it destroys a previously existing traditional marriage.
  2. Ban birth control, fertility treatments, and all forms of abortion. If “naturally procreative” processes are the ideal, than any artificial meddling in the process of sex, conception, and childbirth should be prohibited. To be really safe, you could also consider banning unnatural processes like Caesarean sections and epidurals.
  3. Mandate that unwed couples who become pregnant marry. In fact, since traditional marriage is what we’re after, make extramarital sex illegal. Saudi Arabia has some great laws regarding this topic if you need some ideas.
  4. Confiscate the children of single parents and place them in homes where traditional marriage is honoured. After all, nobody raised by a single mom could possibly come out normal. As the Prop 8 folks have been saying all along, kids need a mommy AND a daddy. Think of the kids.
  5. Make adultery a crime. How much more can you assault your marriage than by having sex with someone who isn’t your spouse? If you really want to protect marriage, you should be in favour of throwing cheating spouses in jail. In fact, maybe we should just reinstate the Biblical recommendation of the death penalty, since the definition of marriage we’re protecting is from the Bible anyway.

Then, and only then, would I recommend that the National Organization for Marriage and ProtectMarriage.com should bother turning their attention to homosexuals. It’s really just a numbers game — with any project you should always tackle the biggest blockers to your objective first, then turn to the little cleanup projects like, say, the two percent of the population who aren’t involved in “traditional marriage” anyway.

Because really, once you think about it, divorce, infidelity, unwed parents, step-parenting, and extramarital sex are statistically far more common than homosexual marriage ever could be. Even if it could be proven the homosexual marriage was slightly more harmful to children and society than any of these heterosexual shortcomings, the sheer numbers of cheating husbands and broken homes kind of overshadows any possible effect that lesbian soccer moms could have on America.

And yet, as we see in the Prop 8 trial, these die-hard traditionalists won’t touch any of these issues with a ten foot pole, despite the fact that it would be much easier to argue their “adverse effect” on traditional marriage, children, and families. You’re never going to see a propaganda ad on TV with some mopey mom whining that she worries about raising her daughter in a world where divorce is OK.

Here’s hoping that, as the trial coverage is showing, the people from ProtectMarriage.com will continue to reveal themselves for the bigoted hypocrites that they are.