The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nobel Prizes and Mother Nature Loves Gay People

My guess about the Nobel committee and their prize to Obama: it was viewed as an event similar to the fall of the wall between East and West Germany. Obama did not entirely create the wave...but he surfed it beautifully. One example: In terms of race relations in America, it was similar to the fall of Apartheid. We don't know what's coming next, but it is an emblem of a massive sea-change in American identity politics, something that white Conservatives seem to be having a very difficult time understanding. But then, it is hard to consciously acknowledge damage to others that works to your advantage.

ᅠAgain, unless you spontaneously grasped the cultural gap, automatically "got" the black death and lack of sexuality in films without trying to encapsulate it as "Hollywood racism", or looked at the Senate and was aghast at the sea of white faces, I wouldn't expect you to understand. It would be phenomenal if you did, and most of us ain't phenomenal. For those of us who DID grasp these things, the Committee's decision was more comprehensible: Obama's election was an incredible accomplishment and symbol in and of itself, quite possibly sufficient to warrant a Nobel nomination. (By the way: I expect someone to deliberately "misunderstand" what I'm saying here, and suggest that I'm saying that the AWARD was because of his election. Nope...just the nomination)

Just as the Right began to attack him from the beginning, blaming him for the recession and more, attacking from every side (remember John McCain having two negative ads: one if he DID visit troops in Germany, and the other if he didn't, lambasting him either way? Limbaugh talking about "The Obama Recession" the day after the election?) and blaming him for everything bad before he'd done anything, it could equally be considered human nature for those who approve of his policies and politics to do a bit of projection, as well. It is hypocritical for those who tolerated or approved of the negative projections to condemn the positive as something extraordinary. So to everyone out there: unless you PREVIOUSLY condemned such pre-emptive criticisms, you can guess what I think if you now condemn the Nobel committee's praise. Don't think you can say "well, I didn't like it then..." unless you stood up at the time and said something.

The committee then went on to say that the way he has dealt with the rest of the world has given hope to millions that we've turned a corner on the last eight years. Again, if you LIKED the way Bush handled things the last near-decade, this isn't likely to resonate. I can understand how that must look from your position, and I empathize. But if you can't understand how it looks from the position of those who believe the administration attacked innocent countries, raised international tensions, tortured as a POLICY, or colluded in the destabilization of the world economy (not asking you to agree, just to understand how the world looks to someone who does) then what Obama has done to extend his campaign methodology out into his diplomatic outreach would certainly be considered a positive change. It is also difficult for whites to understand the power of the image of a black man as the head of the most powerful nation in the world, as a symbol of hope to billions of brown people around the world. The change is staggering, and I sympathize if you cannot rejoice. You're missing a hell of a party.

That said, I grasp that his policies, although hardly "far left" (have you actually listened to what the far left says about him? Have you been paying attention?), are not to your liking, and many of you believe that they would/will be counterproductive. To that, I say: I want no policy of Obama's to go into effect that would hurt this country. But we may well have disagreements about what that means, as we disagree about the meaning of the statistics gathered by the WHO. We'd have to, because at the core, Left and Right see the world differently in ways that cannot be ultimately rectified. That's part of what a Democracy is about: sometimes your tax money gets spent for things you disagree with (like mine, spent for the Iraq invasion, and the murder of thousands of innocent soldiers. Oh, well...)

Of course, you are perfectly welcome to, as Limbaugh did, side with the terrorists against America. No, I don't really exactly mean that, but it is sure as hell fun to put the shoe on the other foot.


The "Big Gay Rights" speech triggered an old thought. I don't know the statistics, but I'd bet that the percentage of people identifying themselves as gay is increasing. And I see a positive reason that would explain it. The following thought has absolutely zero evidence for it, and I state that clearly. All right, here it is: population control. Imagine Mother Nature watching her human children multiplying like a virus across the planet. How do you slow this down with the minimum of cruelty? War? Famine? Spontaneous abortions? Decreased lifespan/increased disease..?

How about just increasing the number of homosexuals? I'd bet anything that the average gay couple would have fewer than the national or international average...if for no other reason than a gay couple has to really WANT those kids. They aren't going to have children accidentally, you know? It can't be a matter of a failed condom, or forgetting to take a pill. So if we take the current estimation of two to eight percent of the population primarily gay up to, say, fifteen percent, and remove the social stigma, I'd expect the population to decrease handily. So they get love, and life, and passion, and success, and...all the children they really want. And I doubt that would be more than about sixty percent of the heterosexual average. Just a guess, just an odd thought...but I bet I'm right. And wouldn't that be a nice little way to slow us down?


Pagan Topologist said...

I think Obama's changing course (i. e. direction) in U. S. international relations, even when he has not had time to actually move very far, completely warrants the Nobel. Keeping the rest of the world terrified, as Bush did for eight years, would have inevitably lead to dozens more countries with nuclear devices ready to use them, and ultimately a nuclear conflagration which no sane person should want.

Pagan Topologist said...

And, yes, President Obama is too far right of center to make me feel especially good about anything else he has done apart from turning our country in a more sane, less dangerous, direction internationally. But sadly, it seems that even a real centrist would get nowhere politically in this country. The most we can hope for is what we have: Someone not as far right as Bush was.

To clarify a bit what I said in my last post, I believe, for example, that it was perfectly rational from Iran's standpoint to develop a nuclear weapons capability while faced with someone like G. W. Bush. It is no longer rational now, unless they believe that another person like Bush might become U. S. President later on.

And, sorry for the misspelling above: 'lead' should have been 'led.'

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I never thought the patterns you saw in movies were "just Hollywood", though it took me a while to grasp all the patterns you were seeing, and I admit I'm curious about the less obvious patterns you've mentioned but not written about. These days, I track the lack of love and sex lives for black male characters in fiction, and it's pretty shocking.

On the other hand, I wasn't shocked at a white Congress, so I guess I'm semi-extraordinary. Seriously, I appreciate your "people are typically pretty average" approach, rather than shaming people for not being unusually perceptive.

I wonder if there's a parallel to the white people who think they would have done much better than most black people if they (the white person) had been born black-- maybe there are people of color who assume they'd be much more opposed to racism than the average white person if they (the person of color) had been born white.

In re more people coming out as homosexual: I don't believe a benevolent Nature in that sense. Nature doesn't keep bacteria from breeding themselves to death, or deer from breeding themselves into starvation in the absence of predators. I don't think she's any fonder of us.

I think the relative lack of punishment is leading to more people knowing what their sexual orientation is (when there was no public acknowledgment of the existence of homosexuality, it could take a while for people to be fully conscious of what they wanted) and then letting the world know.

I don't think there's any way for such a strong reaction to crowding or high population to evolve when we've only had a population this high once.

Men with more older brothers are more likely to be homosexual, but that requires larger families than are common these days to have a strong effect. I don't know whether that tendency evolved to limit competition inside families, or is a side effect of something else.

Marty S said...

I think the giving Obama the Nobel peace prize now is sad. He had to be nominated within twelve days of his taking office, before he had time to even begin implementing his policies. What do they do now if he actually accomplishes great things? Do they give him second Nobel prize? If he ends up really deserving this award they did him a great disservice by giving it to him now. By the way, Since Nobel prizes has come up, look at the percentage of n
Nobel prizes in medicine, chemistry, physics awarded to people who came or worked in the U.S and see if that doesn't indicate we have are doing something right.

Frank said...

apart from turning our country in a more sane, less dangerous, direction internationally.

That remains to be seen.

The law of unintended consequences is still in effect.

Take his decision to close Gitmo and "Black sites" for instance. While this may on the surface seem like a "more sane and less dangerous direction" the question has become "well what do we do with suspected terrorists?"

The Presidents answer is don't detain them, just kill them.

Now apart from them being "suspects" with no chance of being exonerated and released later, we also don't get the chance to interrogate them and find out if there is something they know that we should know.

So because he wants to appear magnanimous by not taking terrorist suspects prisoner the Obama administration is just shooting them on site.

No messy interrogations, no messy detentions. And the death sentences are "under the radar" so there's no political fallout.

We'll see how that works out.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Marty, a lot of people get nominated for the Nobel peace prize. The judges had some months to decide on who they were going to vote for.

This being said, a lot of people on the left as well as the right thought the peace prize was premature and/or undeserved.

I think you're correct that America is still doing something right, and this sometimes gets left out of consideration.

Unknown said...

The nomination (not the award) would seem to be largely for getting elected, since the deadline was eleven days after he took office. And so it was probably largely for the reasons you offer. There is one policy that he'd already announced at that point, though, that may have been a factor, and that was his intention to close Gitmo.

Pagan Topologist said...

He had also announced his intention to talk to countries such as Iran.

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

While I'm a huge Obama supporter and am elated about his Nobel Prize, I too think its awarding was premature. Hopefully the President's subsequent policies will show the Nobel committee displayed gifted insight.

"it was perfectly rational from Iran's standpoint to develop a nuclear weapons capability while faced with someone like G. W. Bush."

The Iranian regime acted rationally in the interest of its own preservation by working earnestly to acquire nuclear weapons. Nonetheless the fact remains that humanity will be seriously imperiled if fanatical Muslims acquire nuclear arms. Iran's the most dangerous mess left behind by the most inept US administration in history.

Shady_Grady said...

I thought that Obama was a much better choice than McCain. I do not think that Obama warranted the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pagan Topologist said...

"The Iranian regime acted rationally in the interest of its own preservation by working earnestly to acquire nuclear weapons. Nonetheless the fact remains that humanity will be seriously imperiled if fanatical Muslims acquire nuclear arms. Iran's the most dangerous mess left behind by the most inept US administration in history."

I totally agree. I suspect a lot of countries' leaders were freaked out when someone on the Bush administration (Rumsfeld?) said that it was time to get rid of the stigma or taboo against using nuclear weapons in tactical situations. How many nuclear artillery shells are needed to render a city uninhabitable, at least for a while?

I suspect that many leaders of small countries are breathing a sigh of relief that they no longer need to spend the money to develop nuclear weapons to protect their people from such threatened actions.

Frank said...

I suspect that many leaders of small countries are breathing a sigh of relief that they no longer need to spend the money to develop nuclear weapons to protect their people from such threatened actions.

This would mean that Iran's nuclear weapon development started in 2003, or 2001 at the earliest.

You may want to check your facts on that.

And you may find that Iran's nuclear weapons program predates Bush.

It predates Clinton.

It even predates Reagan....

Marty S said...

Frank brought up the law of unintended consequences and indeed it is at the root of my concern over some of Obama's policy positions. Truman dropped the a-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki(an arguably horrendous act) with the intention of ending WWII. The unintended consequence of this act was the demonstration to the world of just how horrible this weapon was. As a result no nation has actually used a nuclear weapon in war in the 64 years since. I wonder if in any other period in history a weapon clearly superior in its destructive capability wasn't used in some war for an equivalent period of time. I also suspect that the existence of these weapons has played a role in keeping the peace. While, there have been a number of wars in this time period they have been fewer and less devastating then those prior to the nuclear age taking into account world population and the destructive capability of even the non-nuclear weapons.

Steven Barnes said...

I absolutely believe that the average black person thinks they'd be less racist than the average white person. It's really pretty funny.

Steven Barnes said...

I don't think that Iran's efforts to produce a nuclear weapon relate to a particular American president. I think it relates to the observation that if you have nukes, no one fucks with you. Period. The invasion of Iraq made things more pressing. In other words, they want it for the same reason every other country wants them. That ain't to say that they are nice people. I wouldn't want "fanatical Muslims" to have nukes. Then again, I wouldn't want "fanatical Christians" to have them either. Or "fanatical" anything.

Steven Barnes said...

Frank, I respect you, but not yout position. You said "the President's answer is don't detain them, just kill them." Not true, according to the link you yourself provided. The question of what to do is currently being studied, with no answer due for months. Sending them to other countries (so long as they promise not to torture), and other detainment. Several people are quoted as saying that it seems in some cases we are deciding to simply kill people, but at no time is there any implication that killing terrorists is "the President's choice." If you'd said "I wonder if..." or "some people are worried that..." I wouldn't object. But you leapt to a rather drastic conclusion too readily.

Frank said...

but at no time is there any implication that killing terrorists is "the President's choice."

Bush famously declared himself "The Decider"

Where does the buck stop in the Obama Administration?

To argue that there has not been a high level decision to kill the terrorists instead of detain them is to argue that President Obama is not in charge of the rules of engagement.

Soldiers have to be told the rules of engagement. Once rendered non-lethal, it had been the policy in the past to capture them. Clearly the example given in the article is a policy shift and it must have come from the top.

Which is funny. Because it was only in June that the Obama Administration made a big deal of canceling secret program to hunt al Qaeda and kill them wherever they are that had been proposed under Bush but (according to the current CIA director Leon Panetta) never implemented.

And while it is true that the President has retained the right of "Rendition" from the Bush Administration, it is also true that Rendition has its own problems. Recently a number of al Qaeda sent for rendition to Yemen were broken out of jail by somebody or other. And if a foreign government did torture a person we gave them, and it got out, it would be bad for the Administration's credibility.

And the article pointed out that Europe is not willing to take anyone who will not eventually be tried. So that leaves the sketchy countries as the only (bad) option.

I suspect that the Obama Administration has only just begun the task of painting itself, and the US, into increasingly worrisome corners.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Population pressure has clear and obvious impacts on species. Wouldn't surprise me a bit to find that humans tend to produce more gays in dense populations than in scattered populations.

At first blush this certainly appears to be the case, but whether it's biological or sociological -- or an illusion caused by gay farmboys moving to the big city at the first possible moment -- I couldn't guess. (And don't have any numbers to back up the idea itself, for that matter.)

Anonymous said...

Frank did you read the article in full? The source under the 'or kill' heading is a) purly speculative by his own admission and b) a professor unaffiliated with the administration (at least according to the article). How do you get from speculation of 'this might happen' to it being policy, but people aren't being told the policy, and OMG how bad is that?

Personally, I think the whole thing smacks of PR stunt on both sides and I'm inclined not to care anymore.

Anonymous said...

I've also had both coursework and direct experience with people who have insight into Iran; the situation there is driven at least as much by internal politics as it by their foreign relations, trying to explain Iran's actions purely in terms of US threat, regional conflicts, etc. is a mistake.

Mike R said...

While I disagree with the awarding of President Obama with a Nobel Peace prize, I can still be happy for the benefits that awarding gives my country and can even understand (although disagree with) the justifications given for that awarding.

But what I can not understand and can not support is why President Obama was declared to be the Motor Trend Car of the Year. While we all hope for the best for Obama's presidency, the facts remain that to qualify for Motor Trend Car of the Year, a car must be a new model introduced in a given model year, or given a fundamental redesign for that year and cost less than $100,000.

Even if we accept the Motor Trend Car judge's decisions that _President_ Obama was not introduced until 2009, and that as a person can not be bought President Obama therefore also qualifies as costing less than $100,000, I would argue that they are missing the central point, and that point is that President Obama is not, in fact, a car.

Every previous winner of the Motor Trend Car of the Year has made significant, although often controversial, contributions to trends in the car industry. This is not the case with President Obama at this time and therefore I hope he declines the nomination for Motor Trend Car of the Year for this reason.

Daniel Keys Moran said...


Clearly the awarding of the Motortrend Car of the Year Award was a wholly political decision. And yet, one has sympathy --

After George Bush almost singlehandedly ruined the automobile industry, after he destroyed the reputation of the American autoworkers, after he got hundreds of thousands of Iraqi automakers -- men, women, and children alike -- killed during a hostile takeover of the Iraqi auto industry (particularly, of course, those portions of it involving the filling of gas tanks) ... and, of course, got tens of thousands of American autoworkers either killed or badly injured during that same ill-considered hostile takover ...

After all that, and particularly given the love Obama showed the industry with a little Cars for Cash, you have to understand their immense, indeed profound, gratitude, at not having George Bush to around to inflict further harm upon their industry.

Besides, Joe Biden hasn't shot anyone in the face. Yet.

I expect that Obama will accept the award, give the money to the children of dead American automakers, and announce that this is a "call to action," by which he will mean that he will continue not to be George Bush.

I hear the Catholic Church is considering sainthood for Obama. Long overdue, if you ask me.

Frank said...

Frank did you read the article in full? The source under the 'or kill' heading is a) purly speculative by his own admission

From the text of the article:

Many national security experts interviewed for this story agree that it has become so hard for the U.S. to detain people that in many instances, the U.S. government is killing them instead.

Anonymous said...

Fact is the guy they quote is a professor, not a military or intel guy.
Who are the others? Unidentified "experts interviewed" great, well la de da, I'm an expert too if we want to break out credentials. But I'm not currently active in military, intel or the administration. Fact is if you're not currently a guy on the ground or at least in direct contact with the guys on the ground you don't know. I don't care what some academics guess is.

I also don't really care what happens to AQ either.

Bruce said...

Unlike most of you, I fully support the Nobel Committee's decision to award President Obama. There is nothing premature about it. If you believe so, I am sorry to say it is only out of ignorance.

Look up the record of the Peace Prize's previous awards. Anyone can access that information. It should be readily apparent that the Nobel Peace Prize has never been an award strictly for the achievement of a certain goal. As often as not, it has been used as encouragement to an individual who embarks on a certain direction that the Committee believes would lead the world toward peace. That is exactly the case with President Obama.

You may, of course, still disagree. But if you also happen to be an older White male, excuse me if I automatically place your mindset into a certain category that you would probably find none too flattering.

Anonymous said...

And it is controversial every time.

Anonymous said...

" excuse me if I automatically place your mindset into a certain category that you would probably find none too flattering."

Glad to see we are moving past racism and prejudice! Keep up the awesome work!

Pagan Topologist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pagan Topologist said...

I am an older white male and I fully support Obama's getting the Nobel. I was surprised but pleased by it.