Gadfly | August 27th, 2022
By Ed Raymond
Isn’t It Time Everybody Learns About Sex Before “It” Happens to You?
We just had a president who didn’t read anything but body language on stacked trophy women. He watched television while trying to overthrow the government of our country.
Americans no longer read much. They watch TV, smart phones, laptops, tablets, social media, internet sources, podcasts, and other electronic marvels. In 1989, 62.6 million subscribed to daily newspapers when our population was 247 million. In 2016 only 34.6 million subscribed to daily newspapers when the population was 324 million. When Trump was ushered out of the White House in 2020 the subscriptions had dropped to 24.3 million.
Why bother to read local newspapers when they didn’t have the staff to cover local and state events? They couldn’t afford to because of lost advertising revenue to electronics. In 2020 only 5% of Americans got their news from print publications while 35% got their news from TV and right-wing radio, and 53% got lies, innuendo, propaganda, and sensationalism from social media.
I have been involved with journalism for 75 years. I was sports editor of the Little Falls High School’s newspaper The Comet’s Tale and Moorhead State’s MISTIC while playing football and baseball. I taught journalism and was advisor for Fargo Central’s Cynosure Bi-Weekly While teaching Senior English. I have published articles in state and national education journals during a career in education. Since retiring I have written and published a weekly column for several newspapers for 30 years, equaling the total number of words in 45 average books published in the United States.
I have also had a subscription to The Fargo Forum for about 70 years. Now, I have to go on the Internet each morning to see whether my obituary has been digitalized. If not, I prepare breakfast. It’s about the only reason I take the daily anymore that is printed only twice a week.
Like thousands of other newspapers in the world, the Forum is a tiny shadow of what it used to be. I get tired of reading the fascist globs and drivel of Scott Hennen, Mike Hulett, and Ross Nelson every week, and the pro-fetus, anti-baby, pro-coal and oil, Koch anti-climate change, and pro-life rant of Bette Grande. On top of all that, we often have comments from a couple of conservative Roman Catholics who want all of us to live according to 14th century pope voodoo instead of the science-backed 21st century.
Why does Phoenix average seven degrees hotter than it did in 1950? Why are the owners of yachts spending $9.7 billion just on the 2022 elections?
If You Don’t Understand Your Neighbors Might Be Pansexuals, You’re Ignorant
Before I get to the current culture battles going on in Becker, Minnesota, let’s put critical facts about the LBGTQ+ community on the table. Since 2017 when 448 members were elected to various political offices, that number has increased to 1,043 in 2022. They are our friends, neighbors, relatives, and sons and daughters. However, population experts estimate that 7.1% of our total population is LBGTQ+. If the LBGTQ+ community were represented equally, we would have to elect 35,854 more gay members, including 27 to Congress.
The planet’s population will reach eight billion soon. Another estimate comes to mind. The experts think as many as 100 billion Homo sapiens have died on earth. That means more than seven billion gay humans have lived on Planet Earth--that 570 million now grace earth by living on it—and more than 23 million gays live in the United States—and about 330 live in the town of Becker.
In that the Vatican is still declaring that homosexuals are “intrinsically disordered,” I want to cover the life of one of the Vatican’s leading intellectuals who just died at age 95. He is Archbishop Rembert Weakland who served as leader of the Milwaukee diocese of 700,000 Catholics of 234 parishes and 250 priests for 25 years. He also at one time served as head of the worldwide order of 12,000 Benedictine monks for a decade, winning the plaudits of Pope Paul VI while being mentioned as a possible first American pope.
He wrote a dozen books, mainly about education, homosexuality, and how the Vatican should reform the church as science progressed. He was very influential in the U.S. Council of Bishops. He was the recipient of 35 honorary degrees. He also earned a master’s degree from New York’s Juilliard School of Music and a doctorate in Musicology from Columbia University. He once considered becoming a concert pianist because of his abilities at the keyboard.
As head of the Benedictine monks, he traveled the world, learned and spoke six languages, and became an expert in literary and artistic matters. He studied and taught at seminaries in Germany, France, and Italy. He was hardly under the control of Satan.
Born on April 2, 1927, he was raised on government relief after his father died when he was five. The family lived on government-issued milk and cornmeal. He attended Catholic schools and was ordained a priest in 1951.
In a 2009 interview he revealed he knew he was gay when a young teenager but had concealed it until he became an archbishop. He then had “relationships” with several men. He resigned from the priesthood in 2002 when he reached the retirement age of 75.
I am using his life in the Becker culture battle because more than 20 years before his resignation, he took on the Vatican conservatives by championing the causes of women, questioned the church bans on contraceptives and abortion, divorce, and particularly challenged the rules of homosexuality and celibacy. He also wrote about economic matters: “We believe that the level of inequality and wealth in our society, and even more the inequality on the world scale today, must be judged morally unacceptable.” He went to Washington in 1984 and urged Congress to deal with hunger, homelessness, and racial discrimination.
The Sexual Spectrum Is Getting Wider by the Day
Among the 330 members of the LBGTQ+ community in Becker, there could be an asexual, a demisexual, an aromantic, a pansexual, a bisexual, a transgender, a queer, a non-binary, or possibly a gender-fluid person. If you have no idea that these people exist, you certainly should not be making decisions on how to treat fellow citizens.
If you believe everything in the Christian Bible, you must remember that fetuses are checked out by God in the womb. The quality of the examination cannot be questioned. Would He allow an “intrinsically disordered” baby to exit the birth canal? Is Satan around to screw things up?
Trumplicans are attempting to use the culture wars to gain political power again, as they did in 2016. Fundamentalist and evangelical “Christians” have sold their votes to Lucifer to subjugate women and destroy the LBGTQ+ community. They have introduced hundreds of bills aimed at limiting classroom discussions of race and homosexuality.
Becker is in the center of the North Bible Belt and Vatican conservatives who started this religious maelstrom. PEN America, an organization that tracks freedom of expression, has cited a 250% increase in bills introduced to censor discussion of race, gender, American history and LBGTQ+ issues in classrooms in states.
So far, 137 “gag order” bills have been introduced in 36 states in 2022. In 2021, gag bills were introduced in 22 states. Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature seem to be the leaders of this growing avalanche.
DeSantis is trying to revive the old idea that Republicans have had for decades that there is a communist under every bed in America. He recently signed a bill requiring teachers to spend 45 minutes in November teaching that students can be the victims of communism!
Legislatures in red states have introduced 23 bills to limit discussion of gender identities. This is the battle being fought in Becker between the school board and teachers. If the school board votes to pass a gag order, the teachers and its state partner will sue.
Attacks on education, on educators, are escalating across the country. Death threats, unruly meetings, vitriolic and uncivil exchanges are getting to be the rule of the day. Trumplicans believe, if they can divide the country, they can keep white nationalist control of the national government and dominate a majority of the red states.
Some legislatures have proposed huge fines for schools, universities, and teachers if they discuss banned topics. Paradoxically, a national Gallup Poll in 2021 revealed that more than 70% of parents are satisfied and approve of the education their children are receiving and less than 20% are dissatisfied with the way there are taught about race, gender, and sex.
Trumplicans Are Continuing to Play Doctor for Pregnant Women and Transgenders
The headline says it all: “GOP Lawmakers Push Historic Wave of Bills Targeting Rights of LBGTQ Teens, Children and Families.” Nationwide, Trumplicans have filed nearly 200 bills in state legislatures to attack the LBGTQ+ community, erode protection of gay rights, to restrict discussion of transgender characteristics, to limit participation of transgenders in many competitive sports at all levels, and to limit books and libraries in the materials used to educate parents, students, and other residents about the gay community.
Trumplicans are playing doctor by submitting 29 bills that would prevent real doctors from serving transgender youth. Some bills would make it a crime to treat transgenders! It’s about hormones, age of treatments, and other medical and psychological measures.
The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other medical groups such as the Boston Children’s Hospital say such treatments save lives. The Gender Multispecialty Service at Boston received death threats for conducting transgender treatments.
Becker high school students are not as ignorant as the residents of the town. They generated this Minneapolis Tribune headline: ”Becker Students Demand District ‘Do Better’ on Racism, Homophobia after Recent Incidents.” When the Becker school board invited the anti-LBGTQ+ Child Protection League to make a presentation to the board, more than a hundred high school students protested and turned their backs to the presenters, a group that had been named as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which has been following race and gender issues for 50 years. They also interrupted when the speaker made questionable statements about the LBGTQ+ community during the presentation by shouting “gay rights are human rights!”
Chairman Julie Quist of the Child Protection League also spoke about the library books that “might violate the beliefs and norms of the community by accepting different gender identities.” Some locals were upset when a rumor was started that all the U.S. flags in the Becker schools had been replaced by Pride flags.
The school board just rescinded a previous policy that kept teachers and employees from saying negative things about their schools. The Becker teachers and the American Civil Liberties Union had sued the board over their First Amendment rights. The board is currently having lawyers checking out a policy that would prevent teachers from talking or teaching about “divisive” topics (race, sex education, climate change, homosexuality, etc.). The teachers and students are ready to sue about that one, too. Sounds like a lot of excitement at Becker High!
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