Howard's Loose Ends

« November 2005 »

It's been a while since I checked in with my nemesis, my doppleganger, the evil organization of primal stupidity that stands in opposition to everything I hold dear, even though they don't know it.

I'm speaking, of course, of the Howard Foundation, masterminds behind the "Natural Family Manifesto", and if you haven't heard of them before, then I've just provided you with a number of incredibly useful search terms. In the course of doing research, I ended up on their mailing list, and every once in a while, I like to go through the e-mails they send me and see what the other side of the culture war considers important.

Beating up gay people is a vital part of the natural family, for example. So important that they warned their subscribers of a new law that would add sexual orientation to the federal hate-crimes law.

Now, if you're anything like me, you probably thought federal hate crime law already covered sexual orientation. But it doesn't, and the Howards feel that extra protection for gays and lesbians is a "subtle attack on the natural family". I presume it's a much more subtle attack than getting curb-stomped by rednecks, but the Howard Center still thinks they get precedence.

The anti-gay rhretoric was really spraying out of Howard in October. They also posted a lengthy excerpt from a New York Times opinion column on the "scientific" differences between male and female brains. Now, since I'm pulling a bunch of stuff out of my e-mail for today's column, I'm obviously not motivated enough to look into this deeply. Even so, I'd think that you'd want to get your supporting data a bit closer to the source than an editorial page.

But since the Howards want to use the Sinbaddian "women be different from men" brain-study to support the conclusion that gay couples are unfit to be parents, I'm guessing deep research isn't on their agenda either.

See, if women are different from men, then mothers are different from fathers, ergo the quality of the love a child gets from two mothers or two fathers must be innately inferior. This all ties into the Howard Center's goal - the natural family, where the gender composition and count of a family matter more than the individual fitness as parents of the kids involved.

Never mind that every time you see a story in the paper about a bunch of kids locked in basements, or cages, or garages, starved nearly to death and living in their own filth, it's ALWAYS one man, married to one woman, and more than the average number of kids. The naturalest of the natural families. But at least the caged kids didn't miss out on any of the dual-hemisphere strong-empathizing the Howards say women are all so good at, right?

The most fun part of any Howard Center e-mail is figuring out where the catch is. There's always a catch - they never, EVER provide information that doesn't tie, in some way, to their attempt to return this country to the Cleaver ideal. But sometimes, they're sneaky about it.

For example, there's a whole, huge thing on breastfeeding and early infant nutrition. Goes on for paragraphs and paragraphs of seemingly benign citations about the benefits and patterns of breastfeeding. But buried deep within is the kicker. ACTUAL KICKER TIME!

"The researchers' data - drawn from 625 women who continued to breastfeed for at least 20 weeks and from 636 women who started breastfeeding but who continued for less than 20 weeks - indicates that employment intentions loom extremely large in shaping breastfeeding behavior."

See what they did there? Spent hundreds of words telling you how good breastfeeding is, and then spring on you that women who work don't breastfeed as much as women who don't. Ergo, working mothers are EVIL CHILD-STARVING UNNATURAL FAMILY SELFISH WHORES.

I amped up the subtext a smidge, but the cumulative effect of reading half a dozen Howard e-mails in a row does the same thing.

Oh, by the way, women joining the workforce have also kept the black man down. No, really. The Howards suggest in yet another e-mail that women have been taking all the jobs that the civil rights movement opened to African-Americans. If it weren't for this mailing list, I never would have realized that feminists were America's secret racists.

Thank you, Howard Center, for filling another Friday with your bountiful stupidity. Keep up the fight!