19 December 2009

Book Review: Dishonorable Passions

William N. Eskridge Jr. is a Professor of Law at the Yale Law School in the U.S. He wrote Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America.

I have read many books on the history of America's laws against sex. Who can forget Jonathan Ned Katz's page turner Gay American History at 720 pages? to be fair to Jonathan Ned Katz, his Invention of Heterosexuality was a thought provoker and, next to Michel Foucault's dry History of Sexuality, vol. 1, is at the top for understanding the recent emergence of sexual identity.

Gay legal books, however, have been much less impressive, overly jargony and just plain boring. The exchange between Andrew Sullivan's self-hating Virtually Normal and Michael Warner's explosive The Trouble with Normal was perhaps that most interesting discussion on the legal LGBT front in American politics. Both were tangential in their legal treatment.

I had come to believe that it was impossible for gay people and gay rights advocates to write something interesting about gay legal work and its relationship to real life. That belief was dispelled by Professor Eskridge's book. It is a long book but he does present an interesting story of how gays and lesbians got courts to recognize gay rights.

There were things that struck me as truisms about successful LGBT movements that I think many in the U.S. and the Philippines seem to not understand. First, is that success in court is less than success in convincing one's neighbors. Second, well-thought legal theories that are integrally related to other structures and deeply connected to a coherent and reasonable political philosophy of law and society is the supreme way of attaining liberty and protection at law.

I find the very shallow rhetorical fall back on "human rights" and "civil rights" that many LGBT activists use whenever the political process returns an unfavorable result to be usually childish and unpersuasive. I say this because arguing every defeat in the political process as a violation of one's human rights doesn't address the inherent error of the decision and simply refers it to legal process.

COMELEC's denial of Ladlad's party list accreditation was a good example of this. There were many consequences related to human rights and constitutional powers that should have been addressed that made the denial palpably erroneous. However, most LGBT organizations did not closely relate COMELEC's decision to the existing body of decisions related to political rights in Philippine law and history and, in failing to do so, they failed to connect it to a long history of struggles for liberty, curtailing of government overreaching and expansion of civil rights.

It is also equally important to provide a complete record for the decision maker to use evidence to support the incremental expansion of recognized liberty to the movement. In its original petition, Ladlad had failed to do this. I do not know if a motion for reconsideration was permitted or filed, but if it were, actually competent evidence of discrimination, marginalization, insularity would be good (in addition to evidence from priests about the Christian positions on gay life that contradict COMELEC's determination and put them in the untenable position of determining ecclesiastic jurisdiction.)

The recent case of invalidating consensual adult sodomy laws in Delhi was a two pronged approach that did both of these: it connected the struggle to decriminalize consensual adult sodomy with other privacy and liberty struggles in India over the last 50 years; and it provided an overwhelming record of scientific, medical and cultural evidence in support. In common law and "constitutional law" legal traditions, Eskridge demonstrates, this method has also been the winning way for LGBT struggles in the U.S.

The version I read was a 528 hardbound cloth published by Viking Adult (May 1, 2008) ISBN: 0670018627. The book is written in English. The lowest price was at abebooks.com.

18 December 2009

Uganda's Mistake

Uganda's Parliament is considering a law that would make gay sex a crime punishable with life time imprisonment and gay sex with a minor a crime punishable with death. While I think there is value in characterizing this issue as one of "LGBT rights" (whatever that means), I think there are more fundamental legal issues and public policy upon which the law should be rejected.

It is believed that Uganda's Parliament will pass the bill into law in February.

08 December 2009

Miss Gay of the Universe 2010

Miss Gay of the Universe 2010 pageant to be held 2 January 2010 at 8PM in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. FE Marcos Mini Cultural & Sports Complex (aka the Plaza).

Miss Gay of the Universe 2010 will be held in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte this year on 2 January 2010 at 8 PM at the F.E. Marcos Mini Cultural & Sports Complex (aka the Plaza).

Here is a clip of last year's Miss Gay of the Universe:

Last year, it was well attended -- the audience had over 4,000 people from around the Ilocos region. It was an entertaining and enjoyable event. It was professional. It began on time and ended on time. The judges were impartial and objective and the best, competitive candidate won. The cash prizes were substantial. The final question was: "Krinitiko si Santo Papa sa pagsasabing mga bakla ay danger sa lupa katulad ng global warming. Naniniwala ka ba o hindi?" (in response to this story) The answers were thoughtful and entertaining and a timely discussion on matters important to gay and transgender Filipino/as. This year's pageant looks to outdo last years by far.

Miss Gay of the Universe 2010
2 January 2010 8pm
San Nicolas Ilocos Norte
FE Marcos Mini Cultural and Sports Complex

07 December 2009

The Secret Plans of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

(GMA at Present)

Two separate articles in today's Philippine Star about conspiracy theories regarding GMA impel me to expound my beliefs regarding the reasons for various decisions on the part of the Malacanang Palace regarding martial law declaration and running for Congress.

I too don't believe GMA has declared martial law in Maguindanao because a politically powerful clan that is very close to the government went on a murderous rampage slaughtering dozens of people and about to engage in rebellion. I too don't believe GMA is running for Congress simply to continue serving the public or even something as mild as shepherding a structural change to government so she can return as head of government.

I think GMA is running for Congress (and has declared martial law) because after she sabotages every vestige of the national government in May of next year, she will invoke an obscure pre-Isabelan Spanish legal doctrine with the help of her House allies to be crowned Reina de las Indias orientales y occidentales -- to the ire and jealousy of all of the closet baklas in the opposition. Under this scheme, she will forever rule the Philippines, Guam, Saipan, Palau, Micronesia, Mexico, Central America and the Western half of South America.

(GMA after the May 2010 polls)

From here we can only speculate that she will use even more obscure pre-Westphalian Vatican legal doctrines to become the Anti-Christ ruling over all of mankind until Judgment Day.

(Speculative Rendering of GMA upon ascending to Rulership of all Mankind)

06 December 2009

Movie Review: XXY

I was skeptical going into this movie that it would be good. I recently watched a Spanish movie (I think it was filmed in Madrid or Barcelona) and it totally sucked which is why I can't remember its name and won't look it up for you.

This movie is about an intersexed adolescent and how totally fucked up society is when it comes to people who do not fit into statistically significant boxes (like "man" or "woman"). A decade ago, my best friend worked in a video porn shop and the category of videos that outsold and out-rented every other category of videos were transgender pornography like "chicks with dicks", etc.,. I have always suspected that the psychological impetus for this kind of interested is deeply connected with the kind of historical and transcultural exaltation of hermaphrodites as a spiritual conjunction of male and female. Although, in the context of street-grade porn, nothing consciously spiritual occurs at all, just getting off.

This is a fascinating and tragic piece about life outside the most basic boxes of any society -- gender. The movie flows well, the cinematography is smart, and the subject matter is quite interesting. An interesting rumination on life and gender.

As a side note, the movie reminded me of when I was much younger. I used to tease this old bakla who lived in a neighboring province about his insistence on using "lgbt" (when most l's avoided g's and the standard lumping was 'g&l', although it has now become the mainstream acronym). When I would write him back, I would always write back to him "lgbtxyz" and shortly before his death he wrote me and told me "you were right, there is another one now 'lgbti'".

05 December 2009

Movie Review: Beyond Hatred

Now I feel like I have a pretty flexible disposition when it comes to watching movies, although, like I mentioned a few weeks ago, non-narrative Soviet-era films hit that limit. Insensitively, I have to say that this movie goes right into that category. Perhaps its because I'm an addict of the Law & Order television franchise -- especially the Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit -- that its hard for me to appreciate the sort of rambling, footage-intensive style of Olivier Meyrou. In fact, I had to look at the case to remind myself how the skinheads killed the gay guy.

I also didn't get the forgiveness part -- perhaps it was lost in translation. I don't know if I'm insensitive to crime. Maybe I am. There are many ways to (re)present the judicial system in a film, many. However Meyrou picked the worst aspect to focus on and that seemed to negate any power this film would have had to talk about hate-based violence. Meyrou focused on the very slow speed at which the judicial system work -- was following the judges back to their locker room really necessary? Sitting there through everything, I was beginning to wonder if justice was possible in the case. And, when the verdict was reached, I almost forgot we were in a trial.

If you are interested in watching the very slow movement of the modern French judicial system, this is the 90 minute film to watch. However, I'd personally rather spend two hours watching the monks of the Grande Chartreuse in their glorious silence, praying, meditating, midnight chanting, in the documentary: Die Gro├če Stille and you may have a deeper understanding of the futility of hatred and hate-based violence than you would watching this movie.

01 December 2009

Post 108

Have I reached blogger enlightenment? Have I reached blogger heaven?

(His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje)

There are 108 beads on my rosary. In many sutras, there are 108 steps to enlightenment -- like the Lankavatara Sutra. Many Japanese buddhist temples have 108 steps. The preliminary practices of tantric yoga include 108,000 special prayers, 108,000 recitations of a special mantra, 108,000 offerings of the universe, and 108,000 tantric devotional practices.

Each Hindu god has 108 names. Shiva has 108 dance poses. Vishnu has 108 temples. In Jyotisa, Hindu astrology, there are 12 zodiacs and 9 planets (12 x 9 = 108) or 27 lunar houses divided into four quarters (27 x 4 = 108). There are 108 petals on the cosmic flower of the heart (anahata) chakra used in higher forms of yoga like bhakti yoga and kundalini yoga.

Well, actually, I think the answer is no. As soon as you reach 108 in any of these systems, you end up back at one (from the one comes two, from two comes three, and from three comes the fourth as one). You just enter a deeper layer or higher layer (as the epistemology may be). What say you dear reader?