A new study of brain activity shows that aggressive males may enjoy watching others suffer.
Professors at the University of Chicago analyzed the reactions of a group of teenagers with, and without, a history of violent behavior while they watched video clips of strangers enduring pain.
They found that while both groups showed a surge in activity in the brain's pain centers, the aggressive youths also showed an uptick in activity in the pleasure centers - suggesting they might actually be enjoying what they were seeing.
"They're not only indifferent to the pain, they love it - maybe," said Dr. Benjamin Lahey, co-author of the study and professor of epidemiology and psychiatry at the University of Chicago.
Focus on the Family's James Dobson spent $800,000 on Proposition 8 to stop gay people form marrying in California. On Saturday evening, this dangerous ideologue will be inducted into the Museum of Broadcast Communication's Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago. He will be met with a protest from outraged gay organizations:
Protest Information: 5:30 PM on Saturday, November 8, outside of the Renaissance Chicago Hotel, 1 W. Wacker Drive (corner of Wacker & State).
It is mind-blowing, that the Radio Hall of Fame would honor a leader of Proposition 8. Dobson put his Media Empire and vast amounts of money into the service of denying equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. And, the Radio Hall of Fame reacts by giving this demagogue a trophy. This absolutely a disgrace. Help us send a message to Dobson by showing up to protest.
I can understand why white gay people are angry. I certainly am. But, let's take a step back and look at this dispassionately. I believe our failure with the African American vote (70% voted in favor of Prop. 8) has more to do with education levels than race. In general, people with lower levels of education - of any race - do not vote for gay rights. White people are twice as likely to graduate college as black people. This accounts for the difference by race on Prop. 8.
Think of it this way. 57 percent of white people with a college education voted No on Prop. 8. Yet, 58 percent of white people with no college voted yes on 8. In other words, uneducated urban black people vote very much like uneducated rural white people.
Uneducated people - black, white and Hispanic - often derive their power from physical strength. They perceive being gay as weak and antithetical to real manhood. By voicing support for gay rights, they lose status and often fear rivals may perceive them as gay. The easiest way to gain status is dissing faggots. I see this attitude all the time in Brooklyn - in the gym and on the basketball court, where I often play. (Not the best sample, I realize this)
Meanwhile, educated people of all races gain power by outsmarting opponents - not beating them up. This creates a safe space to support gay rights and not lose social status. (Unfortunately, the fact that the conservative black church is a central organizing point for politics makes even educated blacks less likely to vote for gay rights. But, this is secondary to education levels.)
It is understandable that black support for anti-gay efforts drives white gay people nuts. It is difficult to understand how people affected by bigotry can promote bigotry - as if they are selfish people who learned all the wrong lessons from the civil rights movement. But, remember, uneducated people - of all races - are not students of history. They react to the environment around them, which often rewards homophobia.
(Compounding this perception problem is that the vast majority of overt homophobia experienced by urban gays comes from black people. In places like New York City, you almost never hear a white person say "faggot". But, we hear this from uneducated blacks too often. This makes the problem seem worse than it is. We often forget that we moved to places like New York to escape uneducated whites in rural areas that were just as openly homophobic. In other words - it is about education - not race.)
A few of possible solutions to ponder:
1) We must air public service announcements with people like former basketball star Charles Barkley - who is a tough guy and supporter of same-sex marriage. We must show masculine African American figures who are supportive, every chance we get. Obama is also a huge help, because he is inclusive and is the ultimate example of power though academic success. His leadership will improve our fate.
2) We must work to raise the education levels of all Americans - which will lead to less homophobia of all races. The fact that we have so many African Americans in prison - and not graduating is a legacy of racism and a national disgrace. This must change.
3) We must also have substantive discussion with the African American community - as many of you have suggested. But, until we raise education levels, there is only so much we can do to win support of urban blacks - or rural whites. In other words, scholarships for urban blacks and rural whites are as effective as spending money on education specifically about gay rights. Keep this in mind.
4) While I recognize that there are many supportive pro-gay black churches, as long as this is the central organizing place for black politics, this is not helpful for gay rights. Alternative organizing places for aspiring black leaders must be strengthened.
These are my thoughts....I'm certainly open to your ideas and especially your criticism of my theory, as I am most concerned in figuring out how to succeed in the future.
I was up early to vote in Brooklyn Heights, and stood in a long line to cast my ballot. The Republican ticket never seemed to understand that hoards of real voters live in the "fake America." For months, they ridiculed the urban as unpatriotic supporters of an exotic "Muslim" in a terrorist turban. Insulted by the slights, the city slickers were out in force to showcase their might.
By the time you read this column, the results will be in (unless my home state of Florida screws up another election). The victors will drink Champagne, while the losers will simply be in pain. In the case of gay people, it could be outright ecstasy, agony or somewhere in between. More than any year I can remember, there is a razor thin line between feelings of exhilaration and desperation.
For example, what if Obama wins and the Democrats expand their majority in Congress -- yet we lose the freedom to marry in California, Florida and Arizona? While my friends may cheer the rise of the Democrats, it will be difficult to fully enjoy the celebration if our marriages are subject to cancellation. Such bittersweet results will have us torn betwixt public affirmation of our politics and devastating defeat in our private lives.
No matter what happens in Florida, Arizona and in California with Proposition 8, the entire process is a travesty. What kind of nation let's a majority of citizens vote on the most basic rights of a minority? Perhaps, we should drive this point home in the next election cycle by sponsoring ballot initiatives that ban Mormon marriage or Evangelical marriage. We could air millions of dollars of ads discussing polygamy or snake handling in churches. I think these bullies would be shocked to learn that they are not much more popular than we are in a beauty contest of belittlement.
What disgusts me is that $70 million has been spent on the California marriage battle. It is a fight that, in the end, will not impact a single heterosexual marriage, and this is proven by the fact gay people have already been marrying in California for five months -- and the world has not ended.
When one thinks of all the orphans that could have been fed with the money used to attack gay families, it is hard to consider our opponents real Christians. Their priorities are so misplaced and skewed that it is appalling. The only things they genuinely seem to worship are political power and discrimination.
Indeed, Evangelicals need to reevaluate their role in politics. Nothing has done more to sully their reputations and turn people off to their movement. For starters, it is difficult to admire a group that has willfully chosen Dan Quayle, George W. Bush and Sarah Palin as their political heroes. Shouldn't they take a minute for reflection and ask why they are so enthusiastic about such fools and tools?
With the election results only hours away I listened to Fleetwood Mac's greatest hits. I wistfully played "Don't Stop," to remind myself of the disappointing Clinton years that were squandered by an undisciplined president and a vindictive Republican Congress.
It is my hope that Obama can revive the unrealized idealism of the Clinton era. If anyone can do it, it is probably this charismatic, yet phlegmatic, figure that can fill stadiums. However, we must not forget that above all Obama is a politician. It is telling that the beginning lyrics of the next song on the Fleetwood Mac CD are "Loving you isn't the right thing to do," with the chorus -- "you can go your own way." In victory, Obama will indeed blaze his own trail and we may not always like where he goes. This is why we can't rest at the grass roots level, even if Obama presides over a Democratic Congress.
McCain, win or lose, has severely damaged his reputation. His campaign has been so polarizing that I don't see how he glues back this Humpty Dumpty with a Democratic Congress if he wins. Is he going to send his pit bull Palin to the Senate to mend fences?
The same can be said for Elizabeth Dole. Her ad accusing her opponent Kay Hagen of accepting "Godless money" because she spoke to an Atheist groups was disgusting. I think if I were in the same room as Dole, I'd need to immediately bathe to wash away the stench.
By now, you likely know if three states have chosen decency over discrimination. You know if we have turned towards the future or retreated to the past. If we have voted our fears, I truly fear for the future of this nation. Four years of Palin and McCain is terrifying -- and that's no urban legend.