Category Archives: culture

Confusing, conflating, …

I have introduced the term “conflate” to my family recently with my understanding that it means combining two separate ideas and mistaking the result with one of the originals (perhaps both).  A quick look up finds that the usage of conflate is either “combine and make a new thing,” or “confuse.”  Sounds like I was (recursively) conflating the definition of conflate with confuse.

But I feel confident about the idea of mistaking one thing for another similar, perhaps related thing, with adverse consequences.  Here is the most recent one that caught my attention, and it involves the Boy Scouts of America.  It appears that a very capable scoutmaster has been relieved from his duties.  Not by the church where these activities are conducted, they know him personally and stand by his performance.  No, it is the BSA itself because they have a policy/compromise of permitting scouts who are gay, but of not supporting scoutmasters/adults who are gay.  Seems a classic “conflating” of gay and inappropriate behavior towards children, often captured by the term “pedophile.”  Gay and pedophile, or the behavior attributed to the term “pedophile,” are often conflated.

I am looking for the right analogy … it is like saying “red is a separate idea from car.”  Red is a color, car is a mode of transportation. This separateness holds even though there exist red cars.  Red and car are both examples of separate ways of thinking about the world.

And that is the case with gay and “pedophile,” each is an example of separate ways of thinking about the world.

I thought the confusion comes from the observation that, just like there are red cars, there are pedophiles who are also gay.  However, it is not that simple. Gay is a sexual orientation.  In the DSM V, pedophila is defined as a sexual orientation as well.  Seriously — so are gay and pedophile two examples of the same idea?  Maybe, or at least according to my reading of the most recent DSM.  

At the same time, the DSM V distinguishes pedophilia from pedophilic disorder, which is “a compulsion and is used in reference to individuals who act on their sexuality.”  Oh, there it is — people are confusing gay (a sexual orientation) with pedophila (a different sexual orientation), and then extending the “confusion chain” to include pediphilic disorder, an action with the same word from the one before in the title, but can be applied to the action if performed by people of any sexual orientation. This is very problematic, it seems that even though the DSM V is cited by Wikipedia, pedophilic disorder is simply a term equivalent to pedophilia.

Wow, a little research, and some learning for me.  I have not confirmed this conclusion with any expert, but it does make the case that the BSA is conflating being something with acting someway.  My kids have many people in their lives, and I know a few identify as gay; their actions are kind and supportive to kids.  I do not care about their sexual orientation save  the extreme of pedophilia even though it is also not a choice, but sounds more like an affliction in need of support and treatment (as well as a sexual orientation).

What the BSA should eliminate from their ranks are people with pedophillic disorder, as well as pedophiles to be safe.  Yes, this is a tough distinction to make, but really important for the kids and for the adults involved.

In the meantime, good role models are losing opportunities, and kids are losing chances to interact with these good people; in fact, by definition it decreases the diversity of the experiences for the kids.

Women and (my) religion

I suppose we should start with full disclosure — I identify as Roman Catholic, 16 years of Catholic schools, and all my kids have followed the rituals for a Catholic upbringing.

These parts of my identity do not imply that I agree with everything that is deemed true or an accepted belief in Church teachings and materials.  I am more interested in the positives I see in the Church.  For example, I like that the Church promotes such ideals as humility, service and love. But mostly, it is the result of where and to whom I was born, how I was raised and who I met along the way.  I think most of my friends are Christian, but not all, and some are “areligious,” which has many arguments that make sense.

OK, here we go — but many of the accepted practices and rules of the Roman Catholic Church just do not make sense to me.  I do not wish to provoke, but to document my ideas, and hopefully start or join a discussion about these ideas as the impact can be great.

In future posts we can explore some of these issues, but I need to start with women and the Church.  Of all the issues, this one is most frustrating to me because it is so obvious a problem, and should be so easy to address.  I cannot believe I have to state that “women are people too.”

The main reason I still hear for this injustice is that Jesus choose all men as his apostles.  Really? He also did not use air planes or microphones like the current leaders of the Church, all men.  Plain and simple, this is misogyny, and I disagree vigorously.

I advocate for diversity in my work, so it makes me sad that I also need to do so here.  I also would expect that women in the clergy would fix other issues, such as the horrible impacts of pedophilia.  I am not even considering the practical reasons for equality, such as the insanity of eliminating over half the population for consideration at a time when the clergy is shrinking in numbers.

I hope this situation changes, but I suspect not in my life time.  The current Pope has embraced many refreshing approaches, but not this one.  I have heard the “separate but equal” approach used in other contexts like civil rights for blacks, civil unions for gays — but it is not equal to the disenfranchised.

Thanks for letting me vent, now back to removing the big splinter from my own eye.

Getting the news …

I find that I spend my time overwhelmed with information, and have been looking to filter signal from noise — you?

The high road includes things like PBS NewsHour, NPR, BBC World, Al Jazerra America, NYTimes, Washington Post, LA Times (I’ll miss a few I’m sure), and  avoiding/minimizing CNN, MSNBC, Fox, broadcast news, even local news (OK, I admit I watch Fox sometimes just to get the jokes on the Colbert Report).  I try to stay on the high road as much as I can, since it appears from one study at Fairleigh Dickinson University that the source matters to some degree.

For more in depth, I like Frontline, and more recently Vice.  I was suspect of the latter, expecting sensationalized stories of the obscure given it is on HBO, but the first two episodes from this year had surprisingly good coverage of important stories that are off the radar.

However, I think we really need some place for prioritizing, what’s the most important thing to watch — yes, yes, I realize this is relative to who, where and when, but perhaps we can include some type of guidance.  And, yes, this is often implied in the source of the news, or the comments, but I know I would appreciate (and support) honest assessment from the source itself.  Problem is, where’s the revenue?

Also, in the short term I admit I use TDS, Colbert and even Real Time to help with analysis and prioritizing — sad but true.