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Ahem, Part 2

with 3 comments

It’s part 2 because I’m prettysure there’s an Ahem back there somewhere.  But I don’t want to look, so here we are.

Let me frame this a bit. I’m in the middle of reading a book called Painting in Late Medieval and Fenaissance Siena, by Diana Norman.

It is not a good book–if, by good, you mean interesting to read, or well written, or any of that kind of thing.  Norman drones on giving the paragraphed equivalent of lists, while reporting on late Medieval Italy as if it were a remote jungle whose culture none of her readers would ever have heard of.

Periodically, we get statements about how most art in Italy of this time would have been religious in nature–and every time we do, I want to say, “well, yes, and the sun rises in the East, too, and there is grass.”

What keeps me going withthis thing–aside from my already noted inability to not finish things–is that the plates are truly marvelous and the book itself is of a sane size and shape to carry around with me.  When Norman’s writing and cultural tone deafness get to me, I can just look at the pictures.

Yesterday, however, I had what I thought might be an interesting alternative, because so many of you were going on and on about “The Cold Equations.” 

I started out looking for this thing on the Internet, but Amazon listed not a single book that was available in print and from Amazon itself that reprinted it.  There was the usual third party seller stuff, but I’ve found over the years that shipping and delivery dates on those are at best uncertain.

So I got in the car and went off to Barnes and Noble.  I spent about an hour there, going through every science fiction collection they had.  I found out that way too many people seem to want to read vampire erotica.  I went through at least a dozen books promising to give me ‘the best science fiction” ever.  I did not find this story.

If any of you know where I could get this thing, I’d appreciate it.  It has to be better than listening to Norman report one more time on how the altarpiece advanced the religious interests of its church.

But the time at Barnes and Noble did not go to waste, because after I knew I wasn’t going to find this thing, I sat down on a bench and read through a bunch of magazines.

Okay, skimmed them.

But the skimming bore fruit.  I came across an issue of the National Review that included a short sidebar article on the efforts of a man–can’t remember his name, a conservative/libertarian radio guy, I think–who wants to open a gay bar, to be called Outfidels, directly across the street from the proposed “ground zero mosque.”

Outfidels would be deliberately targetted at gay Muslim men.  It would include a room that served no alcohol, for instance.  It would also hold “fatwa Tuesdays,” when the first 72 virgins to walk through the door would get the night for free.

And yes, okay, it’s obviously offensive, and obviously meant to be so, but…

I think it may be the right approach.  I’m pretty sure there are Constitutional reasons why we cannot forbid any religion building a church/synagogue/mosque/temple, and there are court cases about zoning boards that try to do that nearly every month. 

Most of the houses of worship being rejected by zoning boards are Christian churches–which makes sense, since Christian churches make up the vast majority of houses of worship in the country–but when those Church groups challenge those zoning decisions, freedom of religion is usually the grounds for the challenge.

But saying that I think there are Constitutional reasons why the mosque must be allowed to go up is not the same thing as saying that I think all criticism of the placement is unwarranted.  I think that the people who suspect that the point of this building is a victory lap–look! we won on 9/11!–have a point.

So the requirement is to negate the point.  And a gay bar of any kind–never mind one aimed at gay Muslim men–right across the street, would be a very telling way to do that.

And the guy seems to be serious, and says he has backers.

So I just hope he doesn’t have any trouble with the zoning board.

Written by janeh

August 27th, 2010 at 4:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses to 'Ahem, Part 2'

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  1. There’s a free copy at:



    I think it didn’t impress me because I knew the point of the story long before I encountered the story – mostly from accounts of real people encountering nature here on earth.


    27 Aug 10 at 6:06 am

  2. I was a little surprised at the anthologies which didn’t have this one, since I had a mental image of it having been anthologized to death. However at 17 pages and 10,000 words, reading it at Cheryl’s link is quite feasible. Here’s a link to a PDF version with teaching aids

    Quite agree on the Ground Zero Mosque. There’s no constitutional or legal impediment, nor should there be. It’s tacky, but if you could ban tackiness, there would be a lot of vacant lots in Manhattan. Still, no reason not to make the Wahabbis wish they’d picked a site three blocks further away. (There’s ALREADY a mosque at four blocks. If this one were going up at five, there’d be no controversy. For that matter, if we could still get buildings aqpproved and built, we’d be OK. Not much controversy were it going up in the shadow of a rebuilt WTC.)


    27 Aug 10 at 5:43 pm

  3. With a strip club just up the block from the proposed mosque, I don’t see what leg a zoning board would have to stand on to reject the application for bar, gay or otherwise (if that even has to be on the application).


    28 Aug 10 at 9:58 am

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