Archive for November, 2013

Black Napkins Friday….It’s almost Zappadan

30/11/2013

I am so ready for Zappadan…..

Why Mark Regnerus should (probably) be fired.

22/11/2013

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Yesterday Jeanne Howard, a colleague at Illinois State University, contacted me about a Michigan court case regarding same sex couples adopting. She had briefly mentioned something about this last year when the Regnerus fiasco was erupting, and frankly I really didn’t think she would need anything from me. Surely nobody would use that shit study in a court of law, eh? But, verily there is Marky Mark Regnerus and his little sissy pal Loren Marks listed on the expert witness list called by the state of Michigan to defend not allowing a lesbian couple to adopt some foster kids whose lives they literally saved in the neonatal intensive care room and who they have been parenting, successfully and against all odds, since they were prematurely born and abandoned by their biological progenitors.  A few weeks ago, Marky Mark was in Hawaii! Wow, going all the way to Hawaii to testify about the evils of gay marriage! I’m sure in between he has been lecturing to fellow Christianists about how gays and lesbians molest their children and are bad parents. And, he’s probably flying off to Virginia a lot to see his boyfriend Bradley Wilcox to talk about more “research” that will prevent same sex couples from marrying, adopting kids, getting fertility services, keeping the children they have, or enjoying basic civil rights that other Americans take for granted.

In a perfect world, Mark Regnerus would be fired from his job just for being a total dick. But, in all seriousness, I think that Mark Regnerus is violating his contract with the University of Texas by engaging in extra-university business that amounts to a conflict of interest with his employment as an Associate Professor of Sociology. There are several issues, and I sincerely hope that his department chair will investigate. First is the issue of side-consulting and how much he is being paid for speaking, expert testimony, and private foundation grants, particularly with his faux-research Austin Institute. This is a bald faced attempt to skirt University scrutiny over his finances and his commitments to blatantly political activism. Given that his buddies at Baylor and Notre Dame and Virginia also have these fake research outlets, this gives them all the potential to circle jerk each other with right wing money donated to their bullshit research shops. UT should audit the Austin Institute and demand an accounting of all assets paid to Mark Regnerus in the last three years. If he’s exceeding his allowance under his UT contract (usually this is 2/9ths of your base salary, unless you made a specific deal with upper administration) he should be disciplined, if not fired.

Second, there is the sheer amount of time devoted to political activism. If you want to quit your job and be a political activist, do it. But, you can’t spend all of your time flitting around the world (I know you’ve been to Africa, Marky—have you been to Russia, yet?) trying to prevent LGBT people from gaining civil rights. You can’t count political activism as if it is research. It is one thing to take a few days off and deliver a research paper at another university, it is quite another to give talks to right wing political groups and sponge for more money from those groups to fund your phony research. Most university contracts specify a number of days that one can engage in non-university work—and it is usually something like 30 days. If Mark’s work to deny civil rights has exceeded that total, he should be disciplined, if not fired.

Third, engaging in non-scientific research is not what makes up for his teaching reduction under his contract. It has become abundantly clear that the purpose and motivation for his bullshit studies is to militate against civil rights for women, LGBT persons, and non-Christians. This creepy, purpose-driven “research” is akin to a political scientist whoring himself out to political candidates—that’s not research, that’s another job. Hence, almost everything Mark Regnerus has been doing for the last three years is counter to the expectations stated in his contract with UT. So, even if he didn’t exceed his pay quota or his time allotment, he should be disciplined by having his teaching load raised to what non-research faculty would teach at UT.

In any case, if this really does go to trial I may be seeing little Marky Mark and Loren Marks in Michigan, because I’m gonna be an expert witness for the plaintiffs. See you in Detroit, motherfuckers.

On Suicide

16/11/2013
Glenn Holtz, Byrd Jr High about 1978.

Glenn Holtz, Byrd Jr High about 1978.

It’s not been a good year for me or my old gang back in Tulsa. Three of my close friends from those days have committed suicide in just over a year. First was Kelly Dancer, then Shawna Stevens, and now Glenn Holtz.  I guess I could intellectualize Kelly’s suicide, and somewhat blame him for his substance abuse problems and other issues that lead to his demise. Not so with Shawna, who was the sweetest woman you could possibly want to meet, but suffered from severe health problems from a car accident and the accompanying financial catastrophe that comes with that in the USA. And, similarly, Glenn was lost to mental health problems before high school, and there is no morality tale relevant at all for his demise. It’s something I understand from my own family, though none of mine have taken their own lives to this point. These last three are not the only close friends of mine from the neighborhood who have taken their own lives, there was Lori Ellis, Greg Geiger, and several others (as I recall from a recent network posting for our 30th reunion) from my high school class committed suicide. As a sociologist, I think about how my upper middle class neighborhood was also fraught with contradictions for mobility or status maintenance.  Education was downplayed, social visibility and status were linked to success at sports and sex, and alcohol and other drugs were readily available and heavily abused. I may have more to say about suicide in a formal way in the future, it is an area of research I will soon explore.

I probably first met Glenn Holtz when I was in kindergarten, if not before. He lived on the next block, and he had older siblings who were about the same age as my sister Darla. I remember spending tons of time with him as young children combing the fields catching horny toads, toads, frogs, and snakes. We’d ride our bikes around in the fields of the abandoned farms that are now a Sam’s Club, office buildings, and various other businesses near where my Mom still lives. We even found a rattlesnake in that field once (probably the last survivor). We busted into the shed used by teenagers as a party house and drank all of their booze. One of the teenagers busted us one time and chased us around the field in his car but couldn’t catch us. When the teenager got out of the car I busted his head open with a rock, he’s lucky he wasn’t closer to Glenn (Glenn could hurl a rock). Those were good times. Later, Glenn and Dave Bowen and Ned Schupp and I would sneak out and meet up with Owen Lea and Clay Edwards and Randy Raby and Steve Young and Daniel MacDonald at night after our parents were asleep. I had a morning paper route, so I could sometimes use that as an excuse if I got busted. We did all kinds of crazy stuff. As we became adolescents, the inevitable happened and we began to pursue girls. Glenn had great success. I never understood that. I always thought he was ugly, but now that I look at his pictures I realize that I was wrong. Back when we were 13 and 14, we used to sneak out in his dad’s Mercedes a lot. Holy crap. Totally nuts stuff. And, more regularly we’d all sneak out  in Owen’s parents’ van. We’d be pushing the cars down the street so their parents wouldn’t hear them start up. We’d stay out all night smoking weed and drinking. It was good practice for not sleeping in college, if you got there. Most of my friends didn’t.

In high school Glenn showed signs of mental illness, first exhibited with a drift to conservative Christianity for a bit (his parents were a non-practicing Jew and a Catholic). He  fought that off for a bit, but lost contact with most people. I had not heard from him in almost a decade, but we did correspond about some political issues  about ten years ago. He seemed angry and glued to a strange, right-wing ideology, but that’s pretty much par for Oklahoma, and I thought he was otherwise doing well. I was wrong. His dear sister Stephanie told me that they had been estranged from him for sometime, and she didn’t learn of his death for several days.  My only one positive from all of this is finding out that Stephanie made it, she got a degree at Cornell and has a nice, stable existence. Too few of my old brothers and sisters have any hope for the future, and one little calamity often leads to despondency and self destruction. I don’t think that Glenn will be the last of my band of brothers and sisters who exits abruptly.