Monday, February 20, 2006

Dwyer Writes to the Gazette

We first became aware of Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer when he delivered a rousing rant at the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum's March, 2005, town hall meeting. You can read the text of his speech and hear it HERE.

It was something else. Several of us had gone, we sat in a row, one of us had a tape recorder. Dwyer was shouting, waving his hands -- oh, he was angry about those homosexual activists!

You wouldn't have known that such a thing would exist in twenty-first century America, or in the civilized world at all. Dwyer appealed to the lowest instincts of the audience, to their fear of God's retribution if they should fail to battle evil as it is defined for them, he appealed to that uneasiness audience members might feel about people who are different from them, to their paranoia that the "homosexual agenda" intends to destroy their way of life. It was unbelievable, he pressed ever button except the one that says "Think about it."

This week, Dwyer and DefendMarylandMarriage.com sidekick Caleb Griffin wrote a letter to The Gazette. Seems another delegate had argued in that paper in favor of allowing marriage between gay people. Now Dwyer can't have that, so he's going to make the case against it.
Anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the Bible would have identified the inaccuracies in Del. Doyle Niemann’s commentary (‘‘Marriage and God’s will — according to man’s interpretation,” Feb. 10).

It’s almost humorous that a man would use the Bible to justify behavior that the Bible condemns. How can he suggest that God might call homosexuality ‘‘love” when the Bible calls it ‘‘confusion” and ‘‘an abomination”? He denies any responsibility to craft biblically sound policy in one sentence and appeals to the authority of Jesus in the next. ‘We cannot escape the moral and spiritual underpinnings of our law’

Hey, there is some dispute about the correct interpretation of 1 Samuel 20:30-31, and I would be interested to hear from our readers who can look at this in the original Hebrew and perhaps tell us what it most likely means. Is Saul saying that Jonathon is "confused" and is having a love affair with David?

I think that's where the "confused" thing comes from.

Now Dwyer and his understudy go into some philosophizing here about morality:
There are two popular moralities today: man-centered and God-centered.

Man-centered morality says that right and wrong, to the extent they exist, can only be defined by each man for himself. If any man does what the majority of us feel is wrong — such as murder or pedophilia — then he is sick. Somehow, we have failed him. He needs our help, never our judgment.

There is a form of arguing called the "straw man" strategy. You want to make a case, but there is no argument against your position. Here's an example: everybody is against terrorism, therefore your position against terrorism is just like everybody else's. So you invent a straw man, you might say, "Liberals think that terrorists need psychotherapy." The straw man is a fictitious being who holds the position opposed to yours, and who you can ridicule easily. In fact, nobody said that terrorists need psychotherapy, any more than anyone ever said that murderers and pedophilies "need our help, never our judgment." In reality, everybody agrees that murderers and pedophiles need to be locked up.

But Dwyer can use this kind of fiction to make his own meaningless position stand out against a background.

The letter is kind of long, and I'm not going to reproduce the whole crazy thing here. Here's a little more straw-man stuff -- never trust someone who tells you what their opponent believes:
Such concepts as the human soul and spiritual redemption are either old-fashioned or have no bearing on our lives. God is private. Only human wisdom will save us from our broken society. We are all one big family; the greatest virtues are tolerance and equality. The ultimate good lies in everyone doing what is right in his own heart. Anything that divides the human family, such as Jesus’ exclusive claim to salvation, is evil.

God-centered morality says that there is a timeless universal truth, which man did not create and man cannot adjust. Man must look to an external source for guidance because he did not design life nor is he wise enough to write its instruction manual. This morality says that all men are created equal but not all behaviors. God’s love allows us the freedom to make bad choices but shows us the right ones.

Here's the problem. Dwyer -- and he's not alone in this -- creates a division in our society, and then argues that only those on his side of the division can make correct moral decisions.

Consider the origins of the Western discussion of ethics and morality, going back at least to the Greeks, to Plato and Aristotle, who analyzed the many difficult questions of ethics -- hundreds of years before Jesus' birth. Dwyer's argument asserts that all that important contemplation of right and wrong was, on its face, false, because Plato and Aristotle were not Christians and did not subscribe to the biblical authority that he recommends.

Dwyer'sconclusion that only evangelistic and fundamentalist Christians can know right from wrong trivializes the lives of good people around the world who subscribe to beliefs not approved by his particular sect.

The Greeks had no problem with homosexuality, and I suppose we will see someone here criticize the Hellenistic Golden Age as a failed, immoral period. I see our historical age as one that is still crawling out of the Dark Ages, by way of the Enlightenment, we are a people still trying to open our eyes in the brightness of reason. And people like Don Dwyer are trying to pull us back.

30 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It was something else. Dwyer was shouting, waving his hands -- oh, he was angry about those homosexual activists!

You wouldn't have known that such a thing would exist in twenty-first century America, or in the civilized world at all."

Wow! You must really live a sheltered life. This is how most Americans feel about homosexual activists. In the 21st century.

"Dwyer appealed to the lowest instincts of the audience, to their fear of God's retribution if they should fail to battle evil as it is defined for them,"

Thinking God wants people to fight evil is the "lowest instinct"?

"he appealed to that uneasiness audience members might feel about people who are different from them,"

No, it was to their aversion to sexual immorality.

"to their paranoia that the "homosexual agenda" intends to destroy their way of life. It was unbelievable, he pressed ever button except the one that says "Think about it.""

Maybe he wanted them to think about the impact of homosexual activists on our society. The TTF ethos of "nothing really matters" is not based on any deep thinking.

"Seems another delegate had argued in that paper in favor of allowing marriage between gay people. Now Dwyer can't have that, so he's going to make the case against it."

A little meaningless and inflammatory bit of rhetoric. If he has a position that differs with anyone, that means he "can't have that."

"Anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the Bible would have identified the inaccuracies in Del. Doyle Niemann’s commentary .

Hey, there is some dispute about the correct interpretation of 1 Samuel 20:30-31, and I would be interested to hear from our readers who can look at this in the original Hebrew and perhaps tell us what it most likely means. Is Saul saying that Jonathon is "confused" and is having a love affair with David?"

Well, I've got more than a passing familiarity with said book and I'm not aware of any inaccuracies here.

I know liberal Biblical scholars often say Jonathan and David had a sexual relationship but you'd have to extrapolate beyond biblical sources to establish it. I guess it's possible they did but not likely because in other passages where David does something sinful, the text states that God is displeased with him. It doesn't here. Traditional Christianity holds the relationship to be platonic. I would imagine it's the same with Orthodox Judaism.

"I think that's where the "confused" thing comes from."

I don't know a "confused" reference but I'm not incensed about it. Why don't we ask the author?

"Now Dwyer and his understudy go into some philosophizing here about morality:

"There are two popular moralities today: man-centered and God-centered.

Man-centered morality says that right and wrong, to the extent they exist, can only be defined by each man for himself."

This is the modern western dichotomy between secular humanism and Judeo-Christianity. It's common knowledge and not something Dwyer fabricated.

"never trust someone who tells you what their opponent believes:"

You seem to do this all the time. Like, now.

"Such concepts as the human soul and spiritual redemption are either old-fashioned or have no bearing on our lives. God is private. Only human wisdom will save us from our broken society. We are all one big family; the greatest virtues are tolerance and equality."

This is completely true. The secular humanist has first, raised tolerance to the highest of virtues and, then, redefined it as affirmation. Again, this is not something Dwyer made up. It's common knowledge.

"The ultimate good lies in everyone doing what is right in his own heart."

moral relativity

"Anything that divides the human family, such as Jesus’ exclusive claim to salvation, is evil."

peace is almost as sacred as tolerance to secular humanists

"God-centered morality says that there is a timeless universal truth, which man did not create and man cannot adjust. Man must look to an external source for guidance because he did not design life nor is he wise enough to write its instruction manual. This morality says that all men are created equal but not all behaviors. God’s love allows us the freedom to make bad choices but shows us the right ones."

Only an arrogant humanist would reject this.

"Here's the problem. Dwyer -- and he's not alone in this -- creates a division in our society, and then argues that only those on his side of the division can make correct moral decisions."

So did Jesus. He said "you are either for me or against me." He said, "do not think I came to bring peace. I didn't."

"Consider the origins of the Western discussion of ethics and morality, going back at least to the Greeks, to Plato and Aristotle, who analyzed the many difficult questions of ethics -- hundreds of years before Jesus' birth. Dwyer's argument asserts that all that important contemplation of right and wrong was, on its face, false, because Plato and Aristotle were not Christians and did not subscribe to the biblical authority that he recommends.

Dwyer's conclusion that only evangelistic and fundamentalist Christians can know right from wrong trivializes the lives of good people around the world who subscribe to beliefs not approved by his particular sect."

The last thing ancient Greeks thought was that tolerance or peace or equality were the ultimate virtues. They had many different philosophies but weren't relativists. Still, it's hard to make many generalizations about them. Paul preached against the moral life of certain Greek cities but usually directed his criticism to the churches there.

Judeo-Christian morality didn't start with Jesus. It has been understood from the dawn of time although most historians would point to Moses' departure from Egypt as the beginning of Western civilization.

"The Greeks had no problem with homosexuality, and I suppose we will see someone here criticize the Hellenistic Golden Age as a failed, immoral period."

The homosexuality of the Greeks would be considered child abuse in our time. It was between apprentice and master. Adults of the same gender didn't generally have sexual relations. TTF doesn't agree with NAMBLA, does it?

"I see our historical age as one that is still crawling out of the Dark Ages, by way of the Enlightenment, we are a people still trying to open our eyes in the brightness of reason."

I think you would find few who agree with this fringe viewpoint.

February 20, 2006 3:55 PM  
Anonymous PasserBy said...

Anonymous, whoever you are, you are really getting tiresome.

PB

February 20, 2006 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, whoever you are, you are really getting tiresome."

A lot of people are like that with board games too. They get bored if they're losing.

February 20, 2006 5:10 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Jim,

I'll do the translating for you. Firstly, the context has nothing to do with sexuality, but with taking sides in the political battle of the time. Saul was king, Jonathan would have followed him, David had rising political standing among the people and was a threat to Saul. The monarchy was extremely young; there had been no transfer of power precedent yet. Jonathan was, at a minimum, David's best friend. Saul cried out to his son the tribal equivalent of "You son of a bitch!" It was Saul's wife, Jonathan's mother, who was called perverse and rebellious. You know, the way parents project their anger onto their spouses to this day. And Saul had threatened to kill Jonathan before; many scholars consider him to have been bipolar.

There are a number of other texts where the case for their love is quite clear. Many Jewish fundamentalists, like their Christian counterparts, refuse to read the text in that manner, but it's no surprise. They also think the Song of Songs is a love song to God. And you should realize that once one accepts David as having been gay, or bisexual, then one, as a Christian, has the problem of Jesus being considered a direct descendant of David.

The point is that there can be no such thing as a Biblical literalist, because judgments are being made all the time in reading the text. All people like Dwyer and Anon can do is shout more loudly to try to convince others that their reading is the proper one, but we know that the louder one shouts, the more insecure one truly is.

February 20, 2006 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are a number of other texts where the case for their love is quite clear."

Well, none of them say there is a sexual component. Maybe it's that "brain sex" the doctor is always rattling on about.

"Many Jewish fundamentalists, like their Christian counterparts, refuse to read the text in that manner, but it's no surprise."

No, because they tend not to just make things up to reinforce their own views.

"They also think the Song of Songs is a love song to God."

Well, I don't. I think it's a portrayal of a passionate marital relationship. It could also be a metaphor for the relationship between God and the church since that metaphor is clearly used in other parts of scripture. But mainly, I think it demonstrates that sexuality and sensuality are gifts from God and blessings if used in a biblically appropriate way.

"And you should realize that once one accepts David as having been gay, or bisexual, then one, as a Christian, has the problem of Jesus being considered a direct descendant of David."

Well if one accepts that, they are making it up because it's not in scripture. If it were, it wouldn't be a problem though. If you'll go through Jesus' lineage, you'll find all kinds.

Also, if you'll read the story of David and Bathsheeba, I think you'll come away thinking David was quite the randy heterosexual.

"The point is that there can be no such thing as a Biblical literalist, because judgments are being made all the time in reading the text."

Well, I don't consider myself a literalist.

"All people like Dwyer and Anon can do is shout more loudly to try to convince others that their reading is the proper one, but we know that the louder one shouts, the more insecure one truly is."

I don't remember shouting. I've seen some posts from you today, though, that would seem the cyberspace equivalent.

February 20, 2006 6:50 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Wow, so you wouldn't mind if Jesus had gay forebears. Quite an admission on your part, and I will say very open-minded.

No, I doubt there are many who would deny that David was oversexed as a heterosexual. No one has ever claimed he was exclusively homosexual, either. Since western history is replete with men who have been functionally bisexual, from ancient Greece onwards, any traditional reading of David as having had a homosexual relationship with Jonathan would not have been as outrageous as it seems to some today. And given that Jews have accepted his other sins, which by any standard are far more heinous than same sex love, accepting him as a whole hasn't really been that difficult.

As for your reading of the Song of Sonds as a metaphor for the realtionship of God and the church, you do realize that is complete nonsense to someone like me, and is a further obvious, and simple example, of how everyone reads things differently, even things that don't really belong to them in the first place. Not that you're not entitled to read, but to claim ownership -- that's a whole different matter.

February 20, 2006 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wow, so you wouldn't mind if Jesus had gay forebears. Quite an admission on your part, and I will say very open-minded."

The only reason you think this is that you persist in your irrational belief that homogaeity is innate. It's not any more so than any other sin. It's just wrong.

"No, I doubt there are many who would deny that David was oversexed as a heterosexual."

No, he at one point was overwhelmed by lust. Everything else is conjecture on your part.

"No one has ever claimed he was exclusively homosexual, either."

There's no indication he ever engaged in homosexual activity.

"Since western history is replete with men who have been functionally bisexual, from ancient Greece onwards, any traditional reading of David as having had a homosexual relationship with Jonathan would not have been as outrageous as it seems to some today."

It would always have seemed outrageous in Western civilization. This idea that there was a time of nonchalance toward this stuff is complete delusion.

"And given that Jews have accepted his other sins, which by any standard are far more heinous than same sex love, accepting him as a whole hasn't really been that difficult."

Well, I don't think he was gay or bi. Believing Jews don't either, any more than believing Christians do.

"As for your reading of the Song of Sonds as a metaphor for the realtionship of God and the church, you do realize that is complete nonsense to someone like me,"

I said it was a possible feasible interpretation which doesn't contradict other passages of scripture. I told you what my personal interpretation is, however.

The metaphor of the relationship of God and church as groom and bride is perfectly clear in other passages though.

"and is a further obvious, and simple example, of how everyone reads things differently, even things that don't really belong to them in the first place. Not that you're not entitled to read, but to claim ownership -- that's a whole different matter."

Not really. I interpret scripture perspicuously so I usually only buy in to metaphors when they're clear from the text. Meaning isn't any more relative than morality.

February 20, 2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Anon,

From my perspective, and I would expect from that of virtually everyone else here, you have an extremely limited, constricted, constipated, biased and self-serving view of everything in the Bible. That you think anything in the Torah says or implies anything about any church is laughable to Jews, and you know it, but you keep acting as if it's personally reasonable for you to say so. Maybe in your church it is, but not in mixed company such as this.

And again, that's the point. I don't care what you believe, but I will fight any and all attempts you make to impose your tendentious readings on me or anyone else. Leave everyone else alone, and you can revel in your joyful interpretations. Continue acting like the Taliban, and watch out. That you imagine, in any of your wildest dreams, that the vast majority of Americans will continue to sleepwalk through a Christianist takeover of this country, is very sad.

February 20, 2006 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The God revealed in the Torah is the God who created the universe we all live in. Amazing that I would be considered "constricted, limited, biased and self-serving" for holding an inclusive view. It seems so obvious. Are you sure you're not demented?

"And again, that's the point. I don't care what you believe,"

Funny, you seem to.

"but I will fight any and all attempts you make to impose your tendentious readings on me or anyone else."

Sorry if someone having a different opinion than you is an imposition. We live in a democracy though, so you're just going to have to get used to it.

"Leave everyone else alone, and you can revel in your joyful interpretations."

How about you leaving everyone else alone and stop trying to spread your demented views to our youth.

"Continue acting like the Taliban, and watch out."

I, for one, am not acting like the Taliban. You're the one that keeps implying I'm not entitled to hold a different view of scripture than you.

"That you imagine, in any of your wildest dreams, that the vast majority of Americans will continue to sleepwalk through a Christianist takeover of this country, is very sad."

What takeover? Our heritage is Judeo-Christian and always has been. The ones attempting a takeover are secular humanists. To say that resisting this takeover is itself a takeover is... well, demented.

February 21, 2006 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I, for one, am not acting like the Taliban. You're the one that keeps implying I'm not entitled to hold a different view of scripture than you."

You have been told repeatedly you, just like the rest of us, are welcome to your religious views as long as you don't try to force them into our public schools.

Yet you persist in acting exactly like the Taliban when you try to force YOUR religious views into all the "madrassas." You cling to your dogma while denigrating science.

February 21, 2006 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You have been told repeatedly you, just like the rest of us, are welcome to your religious views as long as you don't try to force them into our public schools."

No one has suggested "forcing" religious views into the public schools other than the constitutionally flawed Fishback revisions and its supporters. That's why a Federal judge put a stop to it.

You persistently have said I'm not entitled to hold a view different than yours on any topic discussed in the Torah.

"Yet you persist in acting exactly like the Taliban when you try to force YOUR religious views into all the "madrassas.""

Untrue. You persist in claiming that traditional morality is purely religious when it actually reaches across all religions, cultures, societies and history. This is simply a tactic you use to corrupt society and give yourself some company.

"You cling to your dogma while denigrating science."

What hypocrisy! I stand with solid science. I've yet to see any that conflicts with my religious beliefs.

You and your friends ignore scientific papers which have consistently qualified, and recently so, that the research on sexual orientation is inconclusive.

February 21, 2006 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Solid science like ID?

ID = Creationism = Not allowed in American public schools

February 21, 2006 10:03 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Wow Jim

"In reality, everybody agrees that murderers and pedophiles need to be locked up."

I so wish you were right.

Unfortunately you are not. You didn't hear about the case in Vermont where a judge let a rapist (had raped an 11 year old girl for 6 years or something) off with a 6 month sentence ?

Or Jessica Lunford who was raped and killed by a repeat offender that was violating his sex offender registration and had offended several times in the past ?

Are you in favor of Jessica's law, which makes aggravated sexual crimes against kids under 12 automatically a 25 year to life sentence ?

Theresa

February 22, 2006 12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Solid science like ID?

ID = Creationism = Not allowed in American public schools"

Just for some truth in lending, I responded to this yesterday but Jim, inexplicably, deleted my response.

February 22, 2006 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim has said he admires the Greek way of life. There, teenage apprentices were obligated to have sex with their middle aged masters of the same gender. Although, maybe he's just not aware of the historical facts.

February 22, 2006 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous off subject as usual and being an idiot.


freebird

February 22, 2006 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theresa said, "Are you in favor of Jessica's law, which makes aggravated sexual crimes against kids under 12 automatically a 25 year to life sentence ?"


As long as one is not going to push the CRC perception that if you are a homosexual you are a pedophile too.

freebird

February 22, 2006 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As long as one is not going to push the CRC perception that if you are a homosexual you are a pedophile too."

Not automatically. But isn't there is a higher chance of it? Don't you think?

February 22, 2006 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous off subject as usual and being an idiot."

Off what subject? Jim brought it up in his post and dared us to remark on it. He's his own worst enemy.

February 22, 2006 7:43 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Actually, Anon, I don't think. Check out the statistics, which you know full well. Pedophiles happen to be straight; pedophilia is pedophilia.

February 22, 2006 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Notice how when Anon has no facts he either goes on the personal attack or starts trying to blame gays for everything from pedophilia to sequins.

I agree with Dana.

Take your fearmongering and move on.

February 22, 2006 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Check out the statistics, which you know full well."

Because of the horrific nature of the crime, it is rarely reported- so, the statistics may not tell the story. Hopefully, it's not true but there are no reliable statistics and a lot of shocking stories in the last couple of years.

February 22, 2006 10:27 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Nothing is ever adequately reported. It wasn't until Kinsey that we knew Americans actually had sex!

The counsellors and shrinks and physicians and criminologists who deal with the pedophile population have plenty of material, and pedocphiles are overwhelmingly straight men. That they abuse young boys as well as girls does not make them homosexual. They have no interest in adult men.

February 23, 2006 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That they abuse young boys as well as girls does not make them homosexual."

Oh, I see. I guess under your definition they're not gay if they only prey on underage males.

Sounds shaky. I think we should err on the side of caution here.

February 23, 2006 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No you don't. You want to err on the side of discrimination based on your unfounded personal opinions.

February 23, 2006 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I want to err on the side of protecting kids' lives.

February 23, 2006 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You want to err on the side of discrimination based on your unfounded personal opinions"

No, I want to err on the side of discrimination based on personal behavior. Like MLK said, we judge based on content of character.

February 23, 2006 6:17 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

And your character is one of the most profoundly lacking in any good I have ever seen.

February 23, 2006 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, that was cold. At least I've got stick-to-it-iveness.

February 23, 2006 8:39 PM  
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