Monday, March 1, 2010

Are Rabbis the New Catholic Priests?

     The first report of inappropriate sexual conduct involving Elon was received more than five years ago by Takana, a forum of rabbis and others from diverse parts of the Orthodox community. The group was set up to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct and serve as a mediator with law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of a 1999 case in which a rabbi was convicted of sexually assaulting male students. In statements released this month on its website, Takana accused Elon of "sexual exploitation" and engaging in "a long-term relationship that was clearly of a sexual nature."
     When the group first approached Elon years ago, the rabbi told them he had "overcome his problem," according to Takana's statement. Sometime later, Takana leaders said they received a "more severe" complaint indicating a "more substantial problem."
     After consultations with the attorney general in 2006, it was agreed that Takana would handle the matter privately, in part because there was no evidence of criminal activity and no students came forward to press charges, according to a statement from the attorney general's office.
     Handled "privately"?  "More than five years ago"?  Handled by a forum of religious insiders serving as a "mediator with law enforcement"?  Self proclamations of "overcoming" one's "problem"?  No need to act because the victims were frightened out of pressing legal charges?  Is it just me or does this sound like the history of sexual abuse and cover up in the Catholic church is being repeated in the Jewish universe?

     As for the reaction of the devoted Orthodox flock, nothing is new under the sun:
     Friends and former students have rushed to Elon's defense, describing him as a warm, generous man whose affectionate manner might have been misunderstood.
     Misunderstood?  Really, people, blaming the victim is so 2002.  Get over yourselves, your denial, and your delusions.  Until you do, you are part of the problem of religious sexual violence.

     As for those critical of the way things have been and are being handled in favor of the popular and powerful Elon, it's evident that there has been no inter-religious learning from the Catholic sexual abuse debacle.
     Critics say law enforcement agencies and even Israeli newspapers appear to have given Elon special treatment because of his standing in the religious community and his family's stature.
     Elon's father was a Supreme Court vice president, and his brother served in the Knesset. Some observers say that similar allegations against a secular high school teacher would have been handled more aggressively.
     One newspaper reportedly knew about the allegations against Elon for years but refrained from publishing anything, according to reports elsewhere.
     "The non-disclosure in this case was an act of kindness to Elon but engenders a sense that a double standard was applied," Tel Aviv University law professor Zeev Segal wrote in Haaretz newspaper.
     Law enforcement agencies have not opened a formal investigation, though they said they were considering such a step.
    The non-disclosure was an "act of kindness" to the abusive Elon?  What of the victims? 

     Nothing has been learned.

Figure Skating's Too Gay Hypocrisy: Johnny Weir Responds

Which of these skaters is "too gay" for figure skating?
     Is Elton John too gay for music?  Is Tom Ford too gay for fashion?  Is Rupert Everett too gay for acting?  Is Rufus Wainwright too gay for opera?  Was Michaelangelo too gay for the Vatican?  Then how in the world could Johnny Weir be too gay for figure skating?

     After religion and politics, the world of sports takes a close third in having some of the biggest homophobes in the world, and nothing has displayed this sad truth more than the way three-time U.S. National Champion figure skater and Olympic athlete Johnny Weir was portrayed during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

     The Australian media made homophobic comments about Weir and Japan's Daisuke Takahashi being too "Brokeback Mountain," while the French-Canadian media focused in on Weir saying that he ought to take a gender test to be allowed in the competition.  Instead of lashing back, Weir was a true gentleman in his response to these media attacks.  His response is embedded at the bottom of this post.

      And what about the U.S. news media?  They talk around Weir's athleticism by not calling him an athlete.  They belittle his accomplishments.  They don't say the word gay, as if it's taboo.  He was allegedly left out of skating advertisement campaigns by the USFSA, which displays how gays themselves can be some of the biggest homophobic hypocrites.

     Here are some of ESPN The Magazine's Shaun Assael's euphemisms for Weir's gayness reported by
   Choice descriptions: "... too flamboyant [headline] ... undisputed diva ... fearlessly flamboyant stylist ... photographed in a miniskirt and high heels ... gender-bending flamboyance ... strutting ... dressed like David Bowie's Aladdin Sane ... in a bubble bath with a male friend ... bright-purple tank top, plaid shorts and gold slippers ... figure skating's peacock ... isn't scrimping on the voguing ... club-ready dance moves ... Garbo-like poses."
     It sounds to me like, Mr. Asseal has a quite an obsession with the twink stereotype.

     As if the more "socially acceptable" Evan Lysacek, wearing sequin snakes was more masculine.  Really, people, get over it.  Gay man dominate the figure skating world.  If you are going to watch it, then deal with it.  Gay men are masculine.  Hetero masculinity is not the only way to be a man in this world, and especially not in the world of figure skating.

     The Huffington Post reports:
     While pundits have deemed him "too gay for figure skating," the fact is Johnny Weir is a U.S. champion athlete, no matter how insane his costumes or suggestive his moves are. This week, Bryan Safi explored how the "flamboyant" figure skater has prompted such complaints from talking heads as, "I don't need to watch a prima ballerina on the ice." Wait, you don't? Because we were under the impression that that's what figure skating IS. Or wait, is that ice dancing? 
Here's a comedic take on the absurdity of someone being too gay for figure skating, courtesy of That's Gay.

Here is Weir's gentlemanly response to the media.