Monday, November 28, 2005

Poland needs a new PR agent


‘Queer bashing, CIA torturing, Star Wars II anti-ballistic missile hosting American poodles’. Is Poland becoming a European pariah?

It’s not been a good couple of months for the image of Poland abroad.

The EU thinks that the new Polish parliament is a nest of Eurosceptics; headlines in the international newspapers scream at the injustice of gays denied the right to demonstrate, and get beaten up when they do - and British MEP, Sarah Ludford has called on Brussels to take legal action against the government; human rights campaigners suspect Poland is hosting secret CIA torture camps; and western Europeans fret that Poland might welcome, in the near future, American, Son of Star Wars, anti-ballistic missile systems on its soil.

The government has been warned by the EU that it has signed documents guaranteeing rights to sexual minorities; the Council of Europe is investigating the possibility of CIA camps and has warned that, if true, then Poland would be in breach of numerous international agreements and could face serious sanctions from Brussels.

But is Poland as bad as it’s being portrayed by some foreign journalists?

Europe’s homophobes?

The charge of homophobia is certainly justified. Many here hold social attitudes more applicable to Warsaw in 1935 than 2005. For four decades communism stopped Poland’s development dead in its tracks. When the regime crumbled the nation’s economy, social structure and culture were stuck in the past. A can of worms opened and out spilled some antiquated and distasteful social attitudes.

A religious based homophobia is one of them. This is being expressed by the new PiS government, which reflects the backwardness of maybe 1 in 2 of the population who feel that freedoms of speech should only be for people ‘like us’ and not for people ‘like them’.

And that’s a very ‘1930s’ type of attitude.

Anti-ballistic missile base?

Still living in the 1930s, many Poles feel that Russia is the threat and that a defense shield should be put up to guard Poland from eastern threats.

“We will analyze everything thoroughly and at the appropriate moment say whether it is good or not for Poland,” PM Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz has said, admitting that talks about a US antimissile system have been going on with the Pentagon for years. He has promised that, before any final decision is reached, a thorough public debate will take place first.

But Poland is not alone in looking at this system. The Czech Republic and Hungary are also looking at the plans, and the UK has long supported the general idea of a system being set up in Europe.

CIA gulags?

I have argued on the beatroot before that the often hysterical claims about these camps do not match the evidence. Just because we know that planes used by the CIA for transporting terror suspects landed in Poland does not prove anything at all, apart from the fact that the planes have been using a northern Polish airstrip to land on.

We now know that the CIA has been using many countries to do this in, including Denmark, Spain, Holland, Italy, the UK…. But nobody has suggested, like one Turkish writer has done, that the UK or Holland are sites of a ‘US Auschwitz’.

I wonder why? Perhaps these writers are being informed by some 1930s prejudices of their own – if Poland and other Central European countries had a death camps on their soil once, could they have them now?

Last Friday, Dick Marty, the Swiss senator heading the investigation on behalf of the Council of Europe, said that the prospect of large clandestine torture camps in Central Europe was ‘highly unlikely’, though he did think that is possible that ”there were detainees that stayed 10, 15 or 30 days. We do not have the full picture." The Council of Europe is currently trying to get hold of satellite images of the airbases in Poland and Romania.

Eurocepticism?

There is no doubt that many politicians affect an anti-European stance in much of their rhetoric. Again this reflects an almost pre-war distrust of Western Europe and an inability to deal the world as it is today. Two parties currently propping up the minority government in parliament – Self defense and League of Polish Families have indicated that they would like to re-negotiate Poland’s terms of entry into the Union.

But Poles in general are not as Eurosceptic as are many in northern Europe – particularly in the UK and Denmark. And the Polish government has said that the EU is essential for the economic development of the country. The torturous negotiations over the EU budget shows that it is not Poland who is holding up a resolution to the problem, but rather richer countries like the UK that want to reduce their contributions. Poland, on the other hand, wants to get its hands on those contributions in the form of subsidies and joint investment projects.

So though of the criticism of Poland recently rightly points out a backwardness of much of the population to issues that were settled in the nineteen sixties in the western Europe, a lot of that criticism is also based on a misunderstanding of the facts, a love of conspiracy theories, an ignorance of Central Europe, and lazy journalism.

But I still think that Poland needs a better PR manager, because the current Polish government is not doing a very good job at all – in fact, it’s very much part of the problem.

43 comments:

StefanMichnik said...

To be expelled from the socialist and homonazi EU?....Gosh, that would be awesome!!!…There is already talk on suspending Poland’s voting rights within the bloc. I it happened than what would stop us in joining or associating with NAFTA (like Israel or Singapore did)?:) Sounds like a dream. Let’s hope it will be self - fulfilling prophecy…:)

Michael Farris said...

Stefan, the Polish electorate voted to join the EU and I assume Poland is free to hold a referendum on leaving the EU anytime it wants. You're certainly free to try to persuade people to your point of view, but referring to it as "socialist" and "homonazi" probably won't win you many friends outside an LPR rally.

For what it's worth (I'm certainly not uncritical of the EU) I think it's overall the better option for Poland than the US client state status the current government seems to hunger for (most US client states are kept on a pretty short leash). EU membership has been very good economically for countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland which have seen major increases in living standards since joining.

Still, feel free to articulate just exactly what you think Poland is losing by being in the EU ...

StefanMichnik said...

Dear Michael,

I am afraid it is not so easy to leave the EU and it still remains unclear if such an option actually exists (it is a matter of subtle debate between lawyers rather than a matter of serious considerations). People voted for the EU because they were a subject of the massive PR exercise and try to guess who was the most influential actor persuading them to actually go and vote for the EU? (no, prime minister “Leszek Miller and post communists” is not the correct answer).

I would argue if the EU socialism is the best thing that could happen to Poland. If I am really forced to choose whose “client” I should be I personally choose the US (at least we speak the language that we both understand (compare G. Weigel “The Cube and the Cathedral”).

As to Ireland I think that it enjoyed steady growth because of low taxes, high rate of education and international language and not because the “magic” EU membership. When Ireland started to listen the socialist from Brussels (forgive me that rhetorical figure:) and it increased taxes suddenly the growth disappeared.

Michael Farris said...

Stefan, of course Poland could vote to leave the EU, do you see the EU using military force to stop it? But I think the chances of the majority voting to leave are very slim.
And, are there any _real_ eurosceptics among Polish politicians? By which I mean someone who advocates not accepting EU monies or who doesn't want Poles to be able to work in EU countries as easily as they can in the UK or Sweden now? Even the LPR is busy feeding at the EU trough.

Finally, in English discourse unanswered questions of the type you like to drop are kind of rude.

beatroot said...

Of course any country can leave the EU when it wants. In Britain the UKiP party's only real policy is 'leave the EU'. Countries can also adopt the euro and then drop it - as the debate in Italy shows. Mr Michnik - what punishment do you think that Brussels could use to stop Poland leaving the EU? Threaten to invade Warsaw?

PierreM said...

There are two, related, issues here:

First, the Brussels bureacracy is pushing full-speed ahead with the assertion of EU political and egal authority (the 'no' votes on the consitution be damned). This raises the issue as to what spheres properly belong to Europe-wide legislation, and which to the individual countries. The notion that sodomy constitutes a 'human right' is ludicrous. And the teaching of the Catholic Church is quite clear: the practice of homosexuality is a grave sin and a moral disorder. Are the Polish people to be denied their sovereignty to restrain what they see as the exercise and advocacy of a moral perversion?

I probably sound like prude, but what interests me more are the political issues.

Second, Poland's ties to the US are driven by geopolitical reality. Given its history and geography, Poland needs to ally itself with a credible military power which is not already a threat (which excludes for all intents and purposes any European country). So rather than seeing this a source of embarassment, it should be turned into a slap in the face of the other Europeans for the cowardice and lack of European solidarity. If Poland can turn its back on a lucratice pipeline deal with Russia fr reasons of its own security and to help Ukraine, why can't Germany desist from making a deal with Russia behind Poland's back? And why can't Europe create a credible military structure?

Why should Poland have to accept being bullied and threatened by socialists in the EU? Poland should get together with as many other countries as it can (the UK, Scanadnvia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and potential EU members Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey) to put pressure on Brussels to back-off, and to insist that EU social and economic regulations can only go so far.

Renegade Eye said...

I found this blog surfing Global Voices. Your blog is informative and interesting.

benavar said...

just a detail :
beatroot said : "Of course any country can leave the EU when it wants"

Are you sure of that ? Cause in fact, nobody knows how and even if it were possible.

I think,( please corect me if wrong) There is nothing in the texts and treaties, even in the RIP Constitution project...

StefanMichnik said...

Pierrem pointed out one important thing: the notion that sodomy constitutes a 'human right' is ludicrous. And the teaching of the Catholic Church is quite clear: the practice of homosexuality is a grave sin and a moral disorder.

But R. Buttiglione’s case last year clearly showed that in the EU certain opinions are just banned and can not be voiced openly. The guy was saying: “yes, I am a Catholic; yes I think that the practice of homosexuality is a grave sin” but in the same time he made a classical distinction between private and public and stressed that these two spheres cannot be confused and mixed. Hence his personal views will not affect the way he will behave as EU Commissionaire. Moreover he stated that he is ready to defend rights of homosexuals (as citizens of the EU) if they would be endangered. But Socialists and Liberals seemed to be not so much interested in subtle shades of the history of political thoughts. They wanted blood and they got what they wanted. If you got info on the case just from the mainstream media I recommend to read the drama called “Cato-hunting” from the original source:

http://www.teologiapolityczna.pl/BUTTIGLIONE_calosc_2004_EN.pdf

In 2003 Pentecostal Pastor Ake Green from Borgholm, Sweden was sentenced to one month of imprisonment for preaching a sermon which cited Biblical texts on homosexuality. The sermon was published in a local newspaper and Pastor Green was prosecuted for causing offense to the homosexual community. Now his case is in the Supreme court in Sweden and he is waiting for the ruling.

In Spain, where Mr. Zappatero has pushed for leftist social agenda (homo adoption, homo unions) some public servants protested as their perceived these developments being not in line with their consciences. The answer of the government was: if you don’t submit to our will you will be fired.

I could go one with these examples of the European “freedom of expression”. There are really many!

And now, back to Poland. It should be clearly stated: Homosexuals are not discriminated in this country. They are present in media; they have their clubs, associations, websites etc. Moreover, Poland has since 1989 an Ombudsman who has to defend citizen’s rights. No single homosexual sent him any complain during that period. So the discussion is not about “citizen’s rights” or “human rights”. This is rather a cultural war waged against certain world view. And I don’t want to find myself not getting a job or not being promoted because I expressed my view on homosexuality which is not in line with the official ideology.

StefanMichnik said...

By the way. Up to date news about Ake Green:

A Pentecostal pastor in Sweden who in a sermon equated homosexuality with a "deep cancer tumor" on society has been acquitted of inciting hatred.

Sweden's Supreme Court Tuesday upheld an appeals court verdict that anti-homosexual remarks made by Pastor Ake Green in 2002 did not constitute incitement to hatred, the BBC reported.

Green in 2004 was the first religious leader to be convicted under Sweden's hate crimes law, which had amended the previous year to include homosexuals.

In a 16-page ruling, the Supreme Court said Green's sermon was protected by freedom of speech and religion.

Green has not backtracked on his comments. However, he has said they referred to a homosexual lifestyle, rather than to individuals.

In the sermon, given on the small southeastern island of Oland, Green said that homosexuals were "a deep cancer tumor on all of society" and were more likely than other people to rape children and animals.

Huraay!!!:)

beatroot said...

Just to get something clear. Sodomy is not a person, it is an act. It is an act that is not just confined to homosexuals, in fact most homosexuals do not indulge in sodomy. Some hetrosexuals do go in for a bit of anul sex. But as sodomy is not a person there is indeed no human right to do it. But a homosexual is a person...and people do have human rights.

You are mistaking, Michnik, acts and verbs with peolple and nouns.

Although, if you would like to start a campaign banning anul sex in Poland then you are welcome to try...

Michael Farris said...

stefan: "And the teaching of the Catholic Church is quite clear"

What's clear is you're beind deceived by a false church. Some quotes about Roman catholicism by the true Christian publisher Jack Chick:

"In the mid-1970's, when he first began to understand what Roman Catholicism really teaches, he knew it was unscriptural."

"no matter what it cost him personally, he would publish the truth that Roman Catholicism is not Christian."

"While the Catholic Church was seeking to control the world through religion, true Christians were running for their lives from the Catholic holocaust that ran for centuries."

But don't take it personally, he's not talking about catholics, just the catholic lifestyle.

-cman- said...

Re: "Gulags" An enterprising reporter might want to sniff around Wroclaw and find out more about Jerzy Kos and his very odd, serindipitous (sp?) history with regard to the Szczytno-Szymany airfield, his contracts in Iraq, and the events surrounding his capture and "rescue" by U.S. special forces. It is a very strange and compelling story in its own right. If dug deep enough also probably sheds some light on exactly what's going on in the Szymany area and the two security facilities nearby.

My brother lives in Wroclaw and has a lot of contacts in the city government and there are all sorts of stories making the rounds about Kos and how he ended up in Iraq, how he looted his construction firm Wroclaw Jedynka before and after his time there, and his bleating about "American machines at Szczytno-Szymany.

StefanMichnik said...

For warming up just a picture of materials that homonazis distributed among 11 – 13 years old youngsters in Krakow:

http://bi.gazeta.pl/im/9/3039/z3039859G.jpg

My dear Beatroot – I produced pretty long on freedom of expression etc. but you are attacking me from the position of grammar purist:) plus you say I want to ban something (this strategy is kind of typical). No I don’t want to ban anal sex that is inseparably connected with homosexuality. I just want to have to enjoy a freedom of saying what I think about this without being banned. It is none of my business what people are doing in their bedrooms. I would just like to be free from this information and details on events that are taking place there. If I had 12 years son I wouldn’t like him to be exposed to this kind of materials either. Greetings!

Michael Farris said...

Stefan, you say you don't want to think about homosexuality _and_ you use terms like 'homonazi'. Make up your mind which is more important:

1) really not caring what consenting adults do?
2) feeling self-righteous and morally superior to people who are different from you?

The two positions are mutually exclusive.

As for the scandalous material handed out: Not very scandalous IMHO. I doubt if there's a Polish child alive above the age of 8 who doesn't know what naked people and various kinds of sex look like. My local video store (less than 100 meters from a church) tends to have the pqrn0z (the covers of which leave nothing to the imagination) on the shelf above the children's movies and they tend to get intermixed, so that "te3naqe qamg bang" ends up next to "where's nemo?"

And I've seen lots of grocery stores that have the condoms next to the candy by the cash register.

beatroot said...

You know, millions of children around the world live in countries where gay pride marches happen every year. I really have not noticed that child psychology clinics in London, for example, where I am from, are full up with children complaining of lack of sleep and nervous behaviour because they have had a gay pride march in their city. Very young kids don't understand anything about it, and older kids couldn't care less.

The only kids who are disturbed by this sort of thing are the children of weirdo homophobic bigots (like most of the Polish government) who go on and on and on about this subject.

I really think that members of PiS, LPR etc have very insecure sexual lives. They seem to feel threatened by something that is not a threat to anyone at all - apart, that is, from hetrosexuals who are not really sure of their own sexuality.


I say to the Kaczynskis: Come out as gays, or shut the fuck up.

StefanMichnik said...

Dear Beatroot,

You said:"I say to the Kaczynskis: Come out as gays, or shut the fuck up."

How was this called? Ah...I know! "The culture of democratic discourse"...:)

beatroot said...

Prawda!

-cman- said...

Beatroot: It is of course natural and expected that various forms of civil liberty we Americans and Western Europeans take for granted are struggling to um... come out as it were in Eastern Europe. I don't think it is natural to expect that socieities which -- as Vaclav Havel pointed out have been in a cultural straightjacket; frozen in the late 19th Century until 1989 -- to be able to make the cultural shifts to embrace those kids of civil liberties within the lifetimes of anyone born before '89. Just as the acceptance of gay rights and gay lifestyles is still very much a work in progress here in the West which really began in the 1970's one has to expect the same sorts of time frames in Eastern Europe.

I'm not saying you are wrong for advocating for those rights and for pointing out glaring hypocricies. But you have to expect pretty stiff resistance and not get too upset about it. As Ghandi said: "Whenever I despair, I remember that the way of truth and love has always won. There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always."

Gustav said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gustav said...

Pierrem -
The notion that sodomy constitutes a 'human right' is ludicrous

No actually, it is very sane. Last i heard, human rights included the right to choose such things as whom one goes to bed with.

Are the Polish people to be denied their sovereignty to restrain what they see as the exercise and advocacy of a moral perversion?

Allowing gays to "commit sodomy" (*gasp*) or marry, or giving them any rights that heterosexuals like you (I'm assuming) or I have, may be against the Catholic church's teachings, but it's certainly not denying Poland's soveriegnty, unless not allowing China to persecute Christians (which I thinkboth you and I agree should be done) is violating their sovereignty. State sovereignty has no jurisdiction over personal moral choice, unless it infringes the rights of others. If you are suggesting that anal sex between men in the privacy of their own bedrooms infringes on others' rights, you are no democrat.

You do not sound like a prude. You sound like a dictator.

In a democracy, we argue moral values, and try to convince others to follow our path voluntarily. If the Catholic Church is having such trouble keeping people in Poland from getting blowjobs, then perhaps it should repackage its message, and not look to the state to impose its values on others.

If Poland can turn its back on a lucratice pipeline deal with Russia fr reasons of its own security and to help Ukraine,

Are you actually suggesting that Poland voluntarily sacrificed the overland pipeline deal to help Ukraine? Laughable.

Why can't Germany desist from making a deal with Russia behind Poland's back? And why can't Europe create a credible military structure?

Good questions. And ones that the EU needs to address. Here's another: Why can't Poland create a credible military structure? Instead of abandoning the European project, why don't the Poles come to the table with a set of concrete proposals to make the EU stronger, if it's such an issue.

-------
A Pentecostal pastor in Sweden who in a sermon equated homosexuality with a "deep cancer tumor" on society has been acquitted of inciting hatred.

Sweden's Supreme Court Tuesday upheld an appeals court verdict that anti-homosexual remarks made by Pastor Ake Green in 2002 did not constitute incitement to hatred, the BBC reported.


And Stefan, the passage that you quote here proves my point exactly. The Pastor was acquitted. He ought to be free to try to convince others of his point of view (without inciting hatred, which, apparently, the court found he did not do). I disagree with his message, but I believe he has a right to try and voice it, if anyone in Sweden will listen.

By the way, putting in a formal charge with a court and having a trial sounds like the machinations of a healthy democracy to me - how does that compare with police sanction of the All Polish Youth viciously beating peaceful protesters? Are you claiming that these are the same things?

And I found your pic not very offensive. I learned about homosexuality when I was nine. Promoting safe sex is no crime.

Also, were they targeting 11-13 year olds specifically? Were they handing these out in a school or on a playground? Or did an 11-year-old walking through the city center happen to pick up a flyer a safe-sex group was handing out on the street?

When you publish such non-offensive material, be sure to justify why it's so bloody offensive next time.

------

-cman-

You're rightthat we should expect resistance, but be careful of making excuses. There is no excuse, be it economics, security, or religion, for denying human rights.
------

And if anyone is questioning the "magic" of EU entry, I beg you to take a look at Poland's farmers, who before May 1, 2004, were united against EU membership. They have been the biggest beneficiaries, with exports skyrocketing despite a herculean zloty. And to dismiss EU membership as a reason for the roaring of the Irish tiger after it entered the bloc is to completely dismiss all of the foreign investment that flooded into the country after membership.

By the way, FDI is set to hit a 5-year high in Poland this year, largely due to the perception change due to POland's entrance to the EU.

But stefan and pierrem are working hard to change that perception back to the backward, isolationist, bigoted picture most Westerners had of Poland before May last year. Best of luck to you! Keep Poland poor!

EU membership has boosted trade. That surprises observers such as Willem Buiter, the EBRD's former cheif economist: "I thought the free trade arrangements agreed in previous years had already exhausted the potential. But it seems that quite a few people were willing to make the necessary investments only when these countries were in the EU

Gustav said...

If you are suggesting that anal sex between men in the privacy of their own bedrooms infringes on others' rights, you are no democrat.

This also goes if you are insinuating that marriage of gays, adoption of children by gays, or distribution of safe-sex promotional material by gays infringes on others' rights.

PierreM said...

Gustav:

"Last i heard, human rights included the right to choose such things as whom one goes to bed with."

Really? And from did you hear this? And how about children? Close relatives?

I'm not trying to be offensive: my point is that almost everyone will recognize some rational limit to sexual behavior.

The question is where that limit lies, not whether it exists.

And the question as to whether or not you have a 'right' to something is decided in terms of what is necessary for political liberty, not personal liberty.

Your personal liberty is restricted all the time: you can't use another's property, you can't wipe your hands on someone else's shirt, you can't decide not to pay your taxes, you can't go about barking obscenities at passersby.

The question here is what powers (acting through the legislature) must I give up in order to have some certainty that the state will not become a political tyranny.

Or do you wish to argue that strikers who were shot, the Solidarity leaders imprisoned, in short, all of Poland's 200 year struggle for independence and liberty finds its culmination in the right to sodomy, gay marriage, and a cowardly subservience to Western European buffoons?

And for the record, I happen to think anti-sodomy statutes are simply inane, as witnessed by the almost complete lack of prosecution of such cases even where such laws exist. And I don't care one whit what someone's sexual preferences are.

But that's just my opinion, and it seems reasonable to me also that others might disagree.

The question is not whether sexual matters are prudent subjects of legislation, but whether a free state, to be and remain free, requires the unrestricted gyrations of the genitalia. There is also the question of whether or not, by asserting such nonsense, you are in fact weakening the alliegence of a substantial plurality of the population to the system you claim the doctrine is supposed to defend.

PierreM said...

Gustav:

"Are you actually suggesting that Poland voluntarily sacrificed the overland pipeline deal to help Ukraine? Laughable."

No it isn't: the Russians were offering a deal with the pipeline going through Byelorussia. Poland refused because it wanted the pipeline to go through the Ukraine.

As for the ABM deal, its a 'NATO' reinforcement-- keep the Germans down, the Russians out and the Americans in. Poland is considering it simply because it will keep the US involved heavily in the neighbohood for a couple of decades longer.

Michael Farris said...

pierrem, you're right I think there are definite rational limits to sexual behavior. Where we disagree is that I regard adult consentual same sex as well within those limits (which I set around issues of adulthood and consent of the parties involved) while you and stefan seem to set them around your own levels of discomfort and/or religious principles.

the really sad part of the recent controversy is that I thought on the whole Polish people were doing relatively okay with homosexuality. I've learned to make a fairly sharp dividing line between what Polish people say and what they do. And mostly (for example) Polish parents would rather learn to deal with a gay or lesbian adult child than have no contact with them and there was already enough discord between church doctrine and real Polish sexual behavior (passive but widespread acceptance of pre-marital sex and [discreet] extra-marital sex) that accepting a little more wasn't _that_ big a deal. Unfortunately, the social conservative branch of Polish politics has gotten the idea that there's votes to be had in gay bashing and they're following their electoral self-interest. I hope that a semblance of common sense (and maybe a desire to not be seen as the buraki of europe will limit the trend).

Silver-lining dept: last weekend's marches were far more peaceful and they wouldn't have happened without the debacle of the first one (and the spectacle of police attacking peaceful demonstrators in ways that very few Polish people wanted to see). The best thing that can happen now is for the issue to disappear from the front pages for awhile.

Michael Farris said...

As for the pipe-line, I would assume that pro-Ukrainian sentiments were less salient than extremely well-founded apprehension about Belarus (the last surviving Soviet republic) and a general desire to not cooperate with any idea coming from Moskva (mostly a sound policy).

beatroot said...

The only limits to sexual behaviour should be the issue of consent. 'No' is the only limit to sex between two consenting adults -as Michael says.

Sorry of I sound 'upset' about this issue - I am not upset, just bloody angry - but human rights is not something to compromise about - either everyone has it, or nobody does. I also worry about the image of Poland internationally. The battles of sexual equality were settled in the 1960 - late 1980s in (most of ) the west. It seems that in Poland these battles have just begun.

So lets have the battles now and get them out of the way as soon as we can.

Gustav said...

PierreM-

I heard it from the American Declaration of Independence, for one:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

If having sex with who you want and how you want doesn't fall under Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then I don't know what does.

I also heard it from the UN Charter on Human rights, which you should read, and can find here. But I'll post some of the most germane articles:

Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 16.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 29.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Perhaps you believe restricting gay freedoms has something to do with the “just requirements of morality,” but as you can see, these freedoms are guaranteed in other articles, and this particular phrase cannot be interpreted as to restrict those freedoms, as you can see from the last article. In fact, I would argue that the "just requirements of morality" oblige us to protect homosexual rights.

So, of course I believe in limits to sexual behavior – if it effects the liberty of others. You still have not explained how homosexual behavior, by itself, does that. Nor have you explained how gay marriage, does either.

And beatroot, I would also argue that limits to sexual behavior also apply to performing sex acts in public. I don't believe homosexuals should necessarily have the right to have sex out in public, but I also don't believe that heterosexuals, bisexuals, or anyone else necessarily has that right either.

And this sentence...

And the question as to whether or not you have a 'right' to something is decided in terms of what is necessary for political liberty, not personal liberty.

...is just complete bollux. Should the government be allowed to restrict my Coca-cola drinking (for example) because it would not interfere with my political liberty?

Your personal liberty is restricted all the time: you can't use another's property, you can't wipe your hands on someone else's shirt, you can't decide not to pay your taxes, you can't go about barking obscenities at passersby.

Again, all of these infringe on the rights of others. How does homosexuality do this?

I'm glad you think sodomy laws are inane, PierreM, but they're also illegal. Which gay rights do you think it is NOT inane to restrict?

As to the pipeline, I now understand your argument better. I thought you meant that Poland assisted in the Orange Revolution even at the peril of the overland line through Belarus. Can you post a link to evidence supporting your claims that Poland turned down the Belarussian option in favor of a line through Ukraine?

Gustav said...

Stefan, how do you think this compares to your Swedish pastor story?

StefanMichnik said...

Well, it is a perfect prove that Poland is a tolerant country. I would add something to this story-3 months ago 2 people were hanged in Iran for homosexual acts. But we don't have to go that far. I would bet that if 2 homosexuals would be lost somwhere in the Paris banlieu they would have a hard time there. So I would suggest to Polish homofighters to focus their attention in the Middle East.

Ok. You know what.....I was thinkig over certain things and I found out being a dirty white male Catholic (can think of something worse?) biggot. It is time to fight against predjudices. It is time to wipe out pedofobes! Check this out:

http://www.gay-news.com/article04.php?sid=114

Michael Farris said...

stefan, I'll join you in your prejuidice against adult-child sex. The legal right to consent to sex is one of several adult privileges that children don't have, and a good thing too. What's trickier is establishing a legal age since chronological and emotional age don't always match up well. Ideally a combination of physical and emotional maturity (puberty's over and knows the potential consequences and still wants to) should work together in an individual's choice to begin a sexual life. Some will be ready sooner than others. I'd set the age limit around 16-17.

As for being a dirty while male catholic bigot, at least you're being harsh with yourself and working on it. Still, you might want to channel this new found activism toward more worthy goals than adult-on-child sex. And being white, male and catholic have no special connection to bigotry and your exit from that state will leave those traits intact (hurrah!).

Gustav said...

I would remind you stefan, that you're the only one calling yourself a "dirty" white male Catholic. I have nothing against you being white, or male, or Catholic (I fulfill two of those three criteria, and I come from a pretty devout protestant background too). Where I come from, that means I can be considered prime republican material. Still, when I inch towards the center (or yes, even the right) on some issues, and take heat from my colleagues on the left, I don't feel the need to defend myself by accusing others of discriminating against me for my non-minority status. (Right beatroot?)

Bigot? I don't know. I'm really confused as to where you stand. You seem to not like gays very much. Still, you haven't said that homosexuality itself should be made illegal. Instead, you seem to confuse an attack of your argument (and yes, beliefs) as an attack against YOU PERSONALLY. You also take gays fight for rights as a personal affront - probably because your religion doesn't allow you to accept giving them those rights.

If you would better articulate what rights you think homosexuals should have, and which they shouldn't, it would be much easier to separate the arguer from the argument. At the moment you seem to be against homosexuals and thier fight for freedom in general, which would make you a bigot.

However, your imploring homosexuals to take their fight to countries where they are worse off implies not that you are against homosexuality itself, but that you just seem to think homosexuals ought not to be fighting for their rights, as you see none violated.

That would make you just plain wrong, rather than a wrong bigot, and we could get back to arguing your point, rather than listen to your false accusations of name-calling.

Gustav said...

Oh yes, and that the UAE is pumping gays full of testosterone does not prove that Poland is tolerant, only that it is tolerant relative to the UAE.

That's good work! - Tolerant compared to some of the most intolerant countries on the planet. Now if we could only get Poland up to the standard of countries that are tolerant - like Western European ones... (Let me say that I still think work needs to be done in most of these, and even moreso in my home country of the US)

That Poland isn't torturing, mutilating and executing gays is no reason to be satisfied with the state of gay rights in this country.

StefanMichnik said...

That's what the Catechism of the Catholic Church is saying about the issue. In my opinion it strikes a good balance between condemnation of the act as such while not condemning people. I subscribe to the 100%:

"2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity , tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstance can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."

beatroot said...

And that's very understandable thinking from the the bible waving god-squad. I don't expect someone who bases their understanding of the world on a book that was written almost 2,000 years ago to be a liberal.

But what about the rest of us who don't believe, Mr Michnik? Are we expected to just go along with what we think is nonsense?

In modernday, developed nations we have to learn to live with each others differences.

StefanMichnik said...

"I don't expect someone who bases their understanding of the world on a book that was written almost 2,000 years ago to be a liberal". Well in the XXth century we have seen many people that based their understanding of the world on "modern" books that were written not so long time before. And we all know the effects:)

beatroot said...

Which 'modern books'?

StefanMichnik said...

"Capital" "Mein Kampf" are the most prominent examples

Michael Farris said...

The choice isn't between the Bible on one hand (and since when do Catholics read the bible anyway?) and Das Kapital/Mein Kampf on the other, it's between following a book or having a mind of your own.

And again, what about non-believers or do they have any rights in your world (besides the right to shut up?)

beatroot said...

the bible and Mein Kampf and Das kapital are three very very different books. One is a collection of religious texts, the other is a work of sociology/economics and the other is the rantings of a madman in prison. The first part of das kapital is actually very very good...and there is nothing about gulags and Stalin and all the rubbish that came out of that. Marx was not a marxist.

Gustav said...

What about "the Origin of the Species"? Or "Huckleberry Finn"?

And should anyone "base their understanding of the world" on any one book? Seems like a gamble to me.

Plus, there are thousands of books out there telling us how we should understand the Bible. Which one of those has the right "understanding" - it's important to know so that I'll be able to base my understanding of the world on the right interpretation.

As to the Catechism, let's begin:


Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.

That’s because no one is bothering to explain a psychological "genesis" for homosexuality. The scientific evidence is highly convincing that homosexuality has its "genesis" in biology.

Tell me Stefan, do you believe your heterosexuality has a "psychological" genesis? I’m pretty sure mine doesn’t.

Right off the bat we see the assumption that homosexuality has its origins in psychology. Already your catechism is taking some pretty big liberties with logic, not to mention introducing an awful obvious slant.

tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”

Not so. Many cultural traditions have encouraged homosexuality precisely because it was believed to preserve and enhance order:

Young men undergoing training were isolated from the rest of society; it is perhaps not surprising that homosexual relations between boys and young men were regarded as standard. Indeed it was a mark of shame for a boy not to be courted by an older youth. The Spartans believed that homosexual relations between young men encouraged unit solidarity and battlefield valor, reasoning that a lover would surely not shame himself before his beloved by flinching back from the line.

If there’s one place you’d think you’d want order, it’s on the battlefield, right Stefan? As far as I can remember from my Ancient History, the Spartans were pretty good soldiers, too.

They are contrary to the natural law.

Wrong again. Here is a list of just some animals, (which only observe natural laws) found to practice homosexual behavior:

• African Buffalo
• African Elephant
• Agile Wallaby
• Amazon River Dolphin
• American Bison
• Aperea
• Asian Elephant
• Asiatic Mouflon
• Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
• Australian Sea Lion
• Barasingha
• Barbary Sheep
• Beluga
• Bharal
• Bighorn Sheep
• Black Bear
• Blackbuck
• Black-footed Rock Wallaby
• Black-tailed Deer
• Bonnet Macaque
• Bonobo
• Boto
• Bottlenose Dolphin
• Bowhead Whale
• Bridled Dolphin
• Brown Bear
• Brown Capuchin
• Brown Long-eared Bat
• Brown Rat
• Caribou
• Cat (domestic)
• Cattle (domestic)
• Cheetah
• Collared Peccary
• Commerson's Dolphin
• Common Brushtail Possum
• Common Chimpanzee
• Common Dolphin
• Common Marmoset
• Common Pipistrelle
• Common Raccoon
• Common Tree Shrew
• Cotton-top Tamarin
• Crab-eating Macaque
• Crested Black Macaque
• Cui
• Dall's Sheep
• Daubenton's Bat
• Dog (domestic)
• Doria's Tree Kangaroo
• Dugong
• Dwarf Cavy
• Dwarf Mongoose
• Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
• Eastern Gray Kangaroo
• Elk
• Euro
• European Bison
• Fallow Deer
• False Killer Whale
• Fat-tailed Dunnart
• Fin Whale
• Gelada Baboon
• Giraffe
• Goat (Domestic)
• Golden Monkey
• Gorilla
• Grant's Gazelle
• Gray-headed Flying Fox
• Gray Seal
• Gray Squirrel
• Gray Whale
• Gray Wolf
• Grizzly Bear
• Guinea Pig (Domestic)
• Hamadryas Baboon
• Hamster (Domestic)
• Hanuman Langur
• Harbor Porpoise
• Harbor Seal
• Himalayan Tahr
• Hoary Marmot
• Horse (domestic)
• Human
• Indian Fruit Bat
• Indian Muntjac
• Indian Rhinoceros
• Japanese Macaque
• Javelina
• Kangaroo Rat
• Killer Whale
• Koala
• Kob
• Larga Seal
• Least Chipmunk
• Lechwe
• Lesser Bushbaby
• Lion
• Lion-tailed Macaque
• Lion Tamarin
• Little Brown Bat
• Livingstone's Fruit Bat
• Long-eared Hedgehog
• Long-footed Tree Shrew
• Markhor
• Marten
• Matschie's Tree Kangaroo
• Mohol Galago
• Moor Macaque
• Moose
• Mountain Goat
• Mountain Tree Shrew
• Mountain Zebra
• Mouse (domestic)
• Moustached Tamarin
• Mule Deer
• Musk-ox
• Natterer's Bat
• New Zealand Sea Lion
• Nilgiri Langur
• Noctule
• North American Porcupine
• Northern Elephant Seal
• Northern Fur Seal
• Northern Quoll
• Olympic Marmot
• Orangutan
• Orca
• Pacific Striped Dolphin
• Patas Monkey
• Pere David's Deer
• Pig (Domestic)
• Pig-tailed Macaque
• Plains Zebra
• Polar Bear
• Pretty-faced Wallaby
• Proboscis Monkey
• Pronghorn
Przewalski's Horse - Polish!
• Puku
• Quokka
• Rabbit
• Raccoon Dog
• Red Deer
• Red Fox
• Red Kangaroo
• Red-necked Wallaby
• Red Squirrel
• Reeves's Muntjac
• Reindeer
• Rhesus Macaque
• Right Whale
• Rock Cavy
• Rodrigues Fruit Bat
• Roe Deer
• Rufous Bettong
• Rufous-naped Tamarin
• Rufous Rat Kangaroo
• Saddle-back Tamarin
• Savanna Baboon
• Sea Otter
• Serotine Bat
• Sheep (Domestic)
• Siamang
• Sika Deer
• Slender Tree Shrew
• Sooty Mangabey
• Sperm Whale
• Spinifex Hopping Mouse
• Spinner Dolphin
• Spotted Hyena
• Spotted Seal
• Squirrel Monkey
• Striped Dolphin
• Stuart's Marsupial Mouse
• Stumptail Macaque
• Swamp Deer
• Swamp Wallaby
• Takhi
• Talapoin
• Tammar Wallaby
• Tasmanian Devil
Tasmanian Rat Kangaroo - I just like that one
• Thinhorn Sheep
• Thomson's Gazelle
• Tonkean Macaque
• Tucuxi
• Urial
• Vampire Bat
• Verreaux's Sifaka
• Vervet
• Vicuna
• Walrus
• Wapiti
• Warthog
• Waterbuck
• Water Buffalo
• Weeper Capuchin
• Western Gray Kangaroo
• West Indian Manatee
• Whiptail Wallaby
• White-faced Capuchin
• White-fronted Capuchin
• White-handed Gibbon
• White-lipped Peccary
• White-tailed Deer
• Wild Cavy
• Wild Goat
• Wisent
• Yello-footed Rock Wallaby
• Yellow-toothed Cavy
And that’s just the mammals, Stefan. For the other orders, click here.

There’s more:

The percent of homosexual behaviour ranges in species from 90% to under 1%. Sometimes almost entire collections are found to be gay, entire troops of Bonobo apes and up to 94% of some populations of Giraffes. All this in nature, not in zoos or in experiments. Of all the species that have been observed to produce gay members, the ratio of gay sexual encounters can be calculated. "Combining these [...] yields a figure of just over 20%: roughly one-fifth of all interactions, on average, are homosexual in mammal and bird species that have [some] form of [sexual same-sex behaviour]."


Next.

They close the sexual act to the gift of life.

I don’t know about you, Stefan, but I’ve never felt more alive than when I’m having sex. Or, in order to open my sexual acts to the "gift of life" do I have to be reproducing? Oops, if so, perhaps I’m keeping it closed. Tell me Stefan, do you use condoms?

They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity

Gay people seem to find their partners pretty complimentary.

This inclination, which is objectively disordered,

More liberties with logic. Few scientists (who are paid to be objective) consider homosexuality a disorder. That’s including the doctors who run Polish health system. If you tell examiners before you become a doctor in this country that you believe homosexuality is a disorder or sickness, you will be barred from becoming a sexologist.

Here is what the American Psychological association has to say about it:

The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Study after study documents the mental health of gay men and lesbians. Studies of judgment, stability, reliability, and social and vocational adaptiveness all show that gay men and lesbians function every bit as well as heterosexuals.

They removed homosexuality from their list of mental illnesses in 1973.

With all these questionable statements, if I were you I’d think twice before I decided to subscribe to them 100%.

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