Lest We Forget

I know, I’m mining Godwin a lot (mix metaphors, much? — ed.)

But like ABL and just about everyone else with a conscience and an ounce of human sympathy, I was more than outraged by Clint McCance’s personal little wish.  Isn’t it just special that someone thinks that the recent  series of gay teen suicide is not a tragedy so much as a good start?

Psychopath is the word that comes to mind, and making no apologies for the connection being made, this is the picture that accompanies that thought:

I’ve posted this picture before as a comment on the Prop. 8 vote in 2008.  Sadly, it never seems to go out of date.  The inscription reads in translation,

“This memorial plaque at Metro-station Nollendorfplatz in Berlin-Schöneberg is to commemorate the Pink triangle. It was one of the Nazi concentration camp badges, used by the German Nazis to identify male prisoners in concentration camps who were sent there because of their homosexuality.”

To paraphrase what I wrote a couple of years ago:

This is an incredibly modest remembrance, hanging on the side of the bridge at Nollendorfplatz, a minor station in the Berlin transit system. I encountered it while I was living in the area while researching a book on Einstein’s Berlin years.  Most mornings, on the way to the state archives, I’d pass it by without noticing.  But every now and then, I looked up in the grey pre-coffee light.  One day I stopped to read.

Looking at it now, in the context of McCance’s filth, it reminds me that nothing here is complicated, not at all, not the question of marriage equality, of full civil rights and social unconcern for same-sex couples nor the question of what kind of man wishes death on strangers for no better reason that he finds them — I don’t know what…icky, perhaps? Terrifying in their hopes of happiness? Human?

And as for McCance himself — the problem is not that he’s a hideous waste of carbon and oxygen, but that he isn’t alone.

In fact, I guess, there’s a twisted kind of gratitude we may owe him.  For while I Godwinize for memory, not to make blunt and false parallel, he reminds us that there are real consequences when words like his cease to horrify enough of us.

And with that, I promise.  No more Hitler references ….  at least for a few hours.

Image:  Michael F. Mehnert, Nollendorfplatz memorial, 2006.

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41 replies
  1. 1
    Keith G says:

    A very good and thoughtful post. Welcome aboard.

  2. 2
    ctlr says:

    What Keith G said.

  3. 3

    >he finds them—I don’t know what…icky, perhaps? Terrifying in their hopes of happiness? Human?

    a threat to his idea of patriarchal dominion. If you believe a lot of your power as a human being derives from being male, then people who subvert that idea are a profound threat. This includes not just gays but “uppity” women, and kids who don’t obey.

  4. 4
    JWL says:

    Who is Godwin? And what is ABL?

  5. 5
    cleek says:

    he’s a hideous waste of carbon and oxygen

    his phosphorus and selenium is cruelly misallocated, too!

  6. 6
    JPL says:

    There is a protest planned in Pleasant Plains for Saturday. link

    The comments are interesting and it sounds like the homophobic asshole is running unopposed on Tues.

  7. 7
    cleek says:


    Who is Godwin?


    Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1989 which has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, Godwin put forth the sarcastic observation that, given enough time, all discussions—regardless of topic or scope—inevitably end up being about Hitler and the Nazis.

  8. 8


    Godwin: Google Godwin’s Law.

    ABL: Angry Black Lady, new front page poster.

  9. 9
    JWL says:

    Seriously. Or serial, if you insist. Just what the fuck does (“just another acronym”) ABL stand for?

    Far more importantly– who is Godwin?

    Who sent him?

  10. 10
    Emma says:

    It’s a good thing, I think, for the hate to be out in the open. We will then as a society have to deal with it, rather than let it go unaddressed and swept under the rug. But, dear Jeebus, this is going to be a miserable time.

  11. 11
    cmorenc says:

    To overcome virulent homophobia, the first step is to come to comfortable realization that if you’re a bona fide heterosexual yourself, you aren’t going to catch the gay from the existence, or even immediate presence, of someone who is. The second step is to come to comfortable realization that graceful acceptance of the fact that some of the people around you are gay does NOT mean that as a bona fide heterosexual, you have to be comfortable with thinking about what practices they might do with each other in private.

    Once you come clean with those two steps, it’s lots easier to move past homophobia. I always suspect that homophobic people are using that as a cover to deflect their own fears about what may be hiding in their inner selves.

  12. 12

    I am one of those hysterical, paranoid people who thinks that this election is important. I think that it matters and will have consequences.

    There is way too much crap on the right and if they get more power because of this election, they might become difficult to control.

    And I’m beginning to wonder if we are a bit late.

  13. 13
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    A very nice post. Thanks.
    Moderately on topic, this is a very good sign:

    THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s a fair question to ask. I think that — I am a strong supporter of civil unions. As you say, I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage.

    But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents.

    And I care about them deeply. And so while I’m not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that it’s something that I think a lot about. That’s probably the best you’ll do out of me today. (Laughter.)

    From the full transcript

  14. 14
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Ditto on the welcome aboard and I love the pic of your kitteh in your other post! We have a big guy with similar colors and markings that wandered into our lives last spring. The wife called him Freeloader Freddy but now that he has become a permanent resident he is called Freddy. Or Fredo, Long Cat (he’s a long thin kitteh!), Fred Fredburger or Yoda the Cat. We think he’s a Oriental Shorthair; his ears are way to the sides, his eyes are really close together and he has a Siamese-looking face/muzzle/schnoz.

    But enough of dat…

    When I first read about this story at the GOS the other day the thing that really caught my attention was his claiming that if any of his kids turn out to be gay that he would disown them and never let them see or speak to the family again. This sick fuck doesn’t love his kids but rather loves what they are (not gay). If they ever stop being what he loves then he will quit loving them.

    As a parent of two kids that just made me absolutely ill. Conditional love? This guy is just one of many sick fucks out there who think like this and I can’t help but think that his poor kids would be better off living with people who love them as they are, without conditions.

    I bet this sick fuck t(humps) his bible every day.

  15. 15
    Ash Can says:

    Great post indeed. And Godwin all you want if it’s called for, and it often is when discussing right-wing assholes. Like the saying goes, if the shoe fits…

  16. 16
    LGRooney says:

    @cmorenc: Much like my aversion to potatoes. Therefore, I don’t eat them and I carry on with my life.

  17. 17
    JWL says:

    Humorous observation, 1989?

    Perhaps Godwin was merely prescient.

    My depression era father (and WW2 vet) went to his grave believing the United States would be the last fascist nation.

  18. 18
    Tom Levenson says:

    Thanks for all the welcomes.

    Sitting now in 3 hour meeting, so no substantive responses possible.

    See y’all on the flip side.

  19. 19
    Maody says:

    Thanks for this and Godwinized or not, homophobia played a big part in my mid-life. My husband suffered and died with/from AIDS. Yes, he was infected in the most usual of ways and was gay (a long process for both of us to come to terms with – thankfully we loved each other much and more than that!) Imagine, if you will, his parents sitting around his hospital bed at L’Institute Pasteur whining, “Why are you making us suffer so?” Talk about self appointed victimization in a pathological sense. I KNOW it had to do with abuse from his father when he was a child. Not the gay part, but the mean spirited ‘suffering so’ shit. Like ABL, it made my head explode.

    These people cannot see another human and love them unless they sit inside some tight parameters of hate and I posit, self loathing.

    What is the difference between his parents and mine? My father was a homophobe and pretty darn PO’d about my hubby’s predicament, but he loved him and helped us out as much as he could from across the big pond. See here, he was old and a homophobe, YeS, but he sent hubby letters telling him he loved him without admonishment. He kept his shit to himself and I loved him for it. I never had the chance to educate him about his bigotry as he died a month before hubby, but his instinct was to help, not hurt. His parents on the other side, punished me and punished hubby as much and as often as possible.

    People like this Arkansas guy are trash. His and other’s hatred and meanness are outed. Everyday. I out people like this as often as I can. I just can’t simply put it down to ignorance… no empathy = sociopath. Therein is my Godwin equalizer… outing the hate.

    Okay, so that wasn’t so well thought out, but it still pisses me off and makes me cringe whenever I hear or read ‘fags’ faggots’ or any other crap spewed toward regular human beings who are LBGTQ. We are all just ordinary human animals no matter who we love or how. The hate is not righteous and no christian, moslem, jewish shit will ever make it so… those people are the spawn of satan – if I believed in such.

  20. 20
    Jack Bauer says:

    Good post. I know Godwin is an adage but I feel a solid understanding of what happened in (and in the run up to) Nazi Germany is a vital foundation for modern political philosophy. I pine for a better understanding of Social Democracy (img) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....r-1932.jpg) that also developed in the same period. Anti-fascist, anti-communist, anti-monarchist? Sounds American… well 1930’s/1940’s progressive America anyway.

  21. 21
    Svensker says:


    Wow, that was powerful. Glad your father was able to let love win. Hugs.

  22. 22
    Maody says:

    @Svensker: Thanks so much. My Dad – and my sister lurks here and has posted once or twice, ‘Hi Lily’s Mom!’ – Our Dad was one hell of a good guy. We loved him so. And as we wrote in our Ma’s obit, she loved him best.

    And thanks… it was a mind blowing time and experience.

  23. 23
    JGabriel says:


    Who is Godwin? And what is ABL?

    Godwin = Mike Godwin, known for his work as attorney for EFF and Wikipedia, and for Godwin’s Law, which basically says that the longer a comment thread becomes, the closer its likelihood of becoming about Hitler/Nazis comes to one. Corollaries are that the thread has ceased to become meaningful after Nazis enter the discussion, and that the first person to resort to comparing the topic under discussion to Nazis has lost the argument. Full disclosure: I actually met Godwin a couple of times, at social functions, when we were members of the same BBS/ISP back in the mid-90’s.

    ABL = Angry Black Lady


  24. 24
    JGabriel says:

    P.S. Tom, I like how you and ABL are bringing graphics to our generally text-based existence here at BJ.


  25. 25
    aimai says:

    I’m so thrilled that you are posting here! Congratulations. Also, don’t let Godwin affect your posts. Fascism and Nazism are historical and cultural facts, like any other. We are entitled to discuss them and to refer to them when its warranted. Despite the use of the terms as sheer insult on usenet groups we can and should use them analytically and thougthfully when we need to.

    Also, the whole “I’d reject my children” if they were gay part of the school board member’s screed reminds me of the phrase “sinners in the hands of an angry god.” I once had a taxi ride (no, really) with an extremely crazed Russian evangelical Christian and this was exactly his point–god hates all of us and wants to punish most of us and unless we align ourselves with god’s hate and also hate and punish the sinners we’re just going to be next on the list. So get with the program and get out first with the hate and the shunning or else. That’s god the father with a father’s love. Thinking about Jesus died for our sins and paternal love I brought up the question, as a parent, of whether he would personally condemn and kill his own child for a sin and if not, would he expect that god (to whom we are all children) would do so? He absolutely assented. He would reject a gay child and God would too.

    Take very seriously the addition of “I’d reject my own children” if they were gay. This is a very angry, fearful, hate ridden person and he has to believe that only by hating and attacking others can he be safe. He’s built a world view around it. I pity his children, gay or straight.


  26. 26
    Jane2 says:

    And with that, I promise. No more Hitler references …. at least for a few hours.

    Good. Between Hitler, Stalin and the rest of the world’s historical bad guys the fringe left and right claim are running the Democratic and Republican parties in the USA, I’m scared they’ll turn my cherished outlet malls into death camps.

    And who is Clint McCance?

  27. 27
    PurpleGirl says:

    I posted this at ABL’s comment and thread below, but for people who might not return to that thread:

    I found this at Tennessee Guerilla Women while web surfing earlier:

    UPDATE: The bigot’s school district is under siege – “The Midland School District has removed the names of School Board members from its website. Its e-mail account is not accepting outside e-mail. It has disabled the public comments page.”

    This is good… he’s angered a lot of people. Now if that could only carry over into the future so that he loses the next election. Maybe the other Board members will be so pissed at him they’ll pressure him to resign (I know, won’t happen, but we can dream, right?).

  28. 28
    Bulworth says:

    “This memorial plaque at Metro-station Nollendorfplatz in Berlin-Schöneberg is to commemorate the Pink triangle. It was one of the Nazi concentration camp badges, used by the German Nazis to identify male prisoners in concentration camps who were sent there because of their homosexuality.”

    This can’t be right. Because Hitler and his whole gang of atheists were homos. Liberal Facism says so.

  29. 29
    phoebesmother says:

    Have to give a shout-out to sister Maody (and it’s phoebe, not lily, one dog removed) and to salute and affirm her courage in standing up, reasonably and civilly, to haters. (Speaking of which, what about that Sharron Angle Latino hate fest ad?)
    Yes, our parents were good human beings; not one of the five of us has ever really hated anyone categorically (altho’ p’rhaps personally). It’s as if tolerance and empathy were bred in the bone. So how do we encourage those qualities rather than their opposites? And how now do we combat the rageful right? Or live through the next two years. My heart is withering.

  30. 30
    JWL says:

    Is ABL ever happy? Does she laugh? If so, about what?

  31. 31
    Barb (formerly gex) says:

    @cleek: And just like with the term political correctness, the behavior it was intended to moderate is long forgotten, and all that remains of the concept is it’s use as a weapon to dismiss out of hand the point that is actually being presented.

  32. 32
    Richard S says:

    I second Aimai’s welcome – it’s a good venue with good company. But I’ll still keep an eye on inversesquare.

  33. 33
    Maody says:

    @phoebesmother: Hey Big Sis! You are awesome and I love you much and more. Sorry about the moniker fuck up… forgot you were phoebesmother here.

    Can we turn this thread into a lovefeast? We dirty fucking hippies could use some for our withering hearts. But to seriously answer phoebesmother’s Q: OUT THEM. Speak out. It makes LOVE a VERB.

    btw, how is it looking in your township election wise?

  34. 34
    burnspbesq says:

    Good flipping grief. I would be outraged even if I weren’t the parent of a gay teenager. But since I am, please don’t ever leave me alone in a room with this guy. I will be in need of a good criminal defense lawyer if that ever happens.

  35. 35
    RalfW says:

    @Emma: What she said.

    My take, reposted here:

    More broadly, though, this tirade strikes me more as a dying gasp of homophobia than a resurgence. Look at what Paladino’s rant got him. Even in conservative, bible-belt Arkansas, I think advocating suicide surpasses community standards for all but the hardest of heart.
    As legal racism fell last century, there were voices still calling for hate, separation and violence. Over time, those voices became fewer and fewer, and ostracized. This too shall come to be on LGBT youth and LGBT equality.

    But as Emma says, it’s gonna get weirder – and perhaps more dangerous – for a while before it gets better.

    I certainly don’t want a repeat of the 60s, but civil rights activists got beaten, maimed, firebombed, killed. Injustice that benefits the few and powerful over the many (and organized) does not give up easily.

    Patriarchy indeed won’t fall with a sucker punch or two.

  36. 36
    PopeRatzy says:


    Mike Godwin, he is still active on the interwebs and back in an era before the web on USENET he stated
    “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

    USENET being the great mostly uncensored set of newsgroups where most of the great works of internet humor and trolling actually began.

  37. 37

    @Maody: My thanks (what an inadequate word) for your comment — and good on your dad; that does warm the heart to hear.

    As for your husband’s parents — I can’t feel outrage so much as deep sorrow. What a miserable experience it must be to be someone incapable of recognizing the human in one’s own child. Just awful. And dangerous, when let out on society. But family by family…awful.
    @aimai: Hey Aimai! Great to see you — sorry I’ve been so out of touch in 3d as opposed to cyberspace. To be corrected soon, I hope.

    And yes — Hitler and the 20th century and all the evils wrought in it are part of the body of experience we need to use, and not — as Barb says — to be forgotten just because our antagonists dislike the subject.

    The angry God thing is fascinating. Haven’t thought about that particular formulation much, though it’s all over Leviticus and the Deuteronomic curses. Helps frame a lot of stuff.

  38. 38
    someguy says:

    Very nice post. Thank you.

    Blood is on Republican hands as if they’d killed these children themselves.

  39. 39
    grumpy realist says:

    Yah, the “God as Angry Father punishing you for your sins” meme…

    Ended up sharing a subway ride with a fundy who kept trying to get me to convert. I think he thought he was using the Socratic method to gently lead me towards The Truth. Unfortunately, I kept giving the wrong answers and he kept getting more and more exasperated.

    (Hint to religious proselytizers: never argue about reality with a physicist.)

  40. 40
    Brachiator says:


    Full disclosure: I actually met Godwin a couple of times, at social functions, when we were members of the same BBS/ISP back in the mid-90’s.

    Very cool. This is like meeting one of the people who kickstarted the Internets.

    @Tom Levenson: Good, very sobering post.

  41. 41
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Tom, I don’t think you are Godwinning the post. You are making very real comparisons that need to be made. This man is treading in very ugly territory, and he needs to be called out on it in the harshest terms possible. It’s a fact that the Nazis rounded up the gays and made them wear pink triangles to identify them. This man is rejoicing at the suicides of teenagers simply because they are gay. He is repulsive.

    Besides, most of the front pagers here have their specialty. This can be yours.

    @Maody: That’s a powerful story. Thank you for sharing it. It’s heartening to see that love can overcome bigotry.

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