Jul 19, 2014

50% of College Professors Think That You're a Deviant

Most colleges aren't as homophobic as The Fashion Institute of Technology, but still, sociology professors are very likely to think that you're a deviant.

In 2012 Franciscan University, a small Catholic college in Steubenville, Ohio, came under fire for a three-line course description in its catalog. Deviant Behavior, in the Social Work Department, listed homosexuality among its topics of discussion, alongside rape and murder (Brady, 2012).

After a media blitz and an investigation by its accrediting agency,  it deleted homosexuality from the course description, along with the other examples.

But Franciscan is not alone.  Hundreds of colleges include homosexuality as one of the topics to be covered in deviance courses.

At the University of Nevada, the course description for The Sociology of Deviance includes "prostitution, homosexuality, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence."

At Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, Social Deviance covers "homosexuality, prostitution, suicide, and alcoholism."

The University of Pittsburgh pairs "homosexuality" with mental illness.

Even when the course catalog doesn't include "homosexuality" in its list of deviant acts to be covered, professors often include it in the syllabus.  50% of the syllabi I checked devoted class time to "homosexuality."

At the University of Utah, Sociology of Deviant Behavior devotes two weeks to it, just after violence, and before prostitution.

At the University of Wisconsin, Deviant Behavior devotes one week to "Homosexuality and Deviance."

Even Rutgers University devotes a class to "Contrasting Perspectives: Homosexuality."

How did gay people become so integral to deviance class?  I blame Howard Becker, whose Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (1961) invented the field.  He refers to criminals 8 times, the mentally ill 12 times, and "homosexuals" 42 times!

For the next fifty years, sociologists who needed a quick, easy example of deviance turned, again and again, to homosexuality, no matter what their topic.

They ignored, or didn't care about, Stonewall and Gay Rights Parades and Harvey Milk and Barney Frank and Lawrence v. Texas and marriage equality.

Today sociologists sometimes go through great lengths to "prove" that gay people are deviant. For example, the article on "Homosexuality" in The Routledge Handbook of Deviant Behavior offers four pieces of evidence: the slang phrase "that's so gay," ex-gay therapy, anti-gay hate crimes, and the homophobic protests of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Of course these suggest that some people are homophobic.  Some people are also anti-Semitic, but the presence of the slang phrase "jew him down," attempts to convert Jews to Christianity, swastikas painted on synagogue walls, and the "Jewish conspiracy" rants of Aryan Nation are never used as evidence that being Jewish is deviant

When the fall semester begins, thousands of college students are going to be enrolling in Deviant Behavior classes.  And they're going to be shocked to discover that they, their friends, their parents, and their state senator are including in the category of "deviants," along with the murderers.

Jul 17, 2014

The Red Band Society: Buddy-Bonding Teens in a Barcelona Hospital

The Red Band Society (Polseres vermelles) is a Catalan tv drama, based on the novel  The Yellow World (El mundo amarillo), about six residents of a children's hospital (where they wear red hospital ids on their wrists).  There have been two seasons so far, two years apart, and creator and writer Alberto Espinoza intends to wait a few more years for the third, so the characters can grow into adulthood.

In the first episode, Jordi arrives at the hospital after being diagnosed with cancer.  An older man tells him that every group of friends has six players, and his task is to find them.  Soon he gathers a group:

1. The Leader: cancer patient Lleó (Àlex Monner, left), who has lived in the hospital for two years.

2. His Sidekick:  Jordi (Igor Szpakowski).

3. The Girl: Christina (Joana Vilapuig), suffering from anorexia.

4. The Handsome One: Ignasi (Mikel Iglesias, left), who has a mysterious ailment.

5. The Smart One: Toni (Marc Balaguer), who is recovering from a motorcycle accident.

6. The Essential (without whom the group could not exist): Roc (Nil Cardoner), who has been in a coma for two years after a swimming accident.  He can communicate with Toni in a dream state.

Now they are ready to bond, support each other, and survive.

Aside from the life-threatening issues that one would expect in a hospital series, there are growing-up issues involving parents, school, friendships, and romances, both heterosexual and gay.

A boy named Roger (Marcel Borras) gets a crush on  Lleó, and tries to kiss him;  Lleó rebuffs the kiss, but the two remain friends.  There is also a subdued romance between Toni and Roc.

It is a popular throughout Europe and Latin America. An American version is set to premiere on the Fox Network in 2014, starring Griffin Gluck, Nolan Sotillo, Charlie Rowe, Brian Bradley, and Ciara Bravo. I imagine that the gay content will be obliterated for American audiences, although gay actor Wilson Cruz plays one of the doctors, and E! calls it "Breakfast Club meets Glee."

Jul 13, 2014

Jim Thorpe: Native American Beefcake of the Jazz Age

When I was a kid in the 1960s, we lived down the street from a bar called Thorpe's.  To Nazarenes all bars were dens of abomination, so I never went near it, but it was hard to miss the lights and music, and the line of cars parked outside.

Years later, I discovered that the bar was named after Jim Thorpe, the first great Native American athlete, who was born into the Sac and Fox tribe, long after it was relocated from Rock Island to Oklahoma.  He was a multi-talented athlete, playing professional football, basketball, and baseball and semi-professional boxing and wrestling, as well as winning gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics.

During the Jazz Age, he was famous for his physique as well as for his sports prowess; he was even photographed nude so audiences could see the interplay of his muscles better.

He traveled in the circles of the 1920s glitterati, and was known to frequent the wild Great Gatsby-esque parties where same-sex liaisons were common, though I haven't found any evidence of same-sex activity of his own.

His career fizzled out during the 1930s.  He spent the last 20 years of his life struggling with alcoholism and poverty, and died in 1953.

Burt Lancaster played Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe -- All American (1951).

A town in Pennsylvania bought his remains and some artifacts and renamed itself Jim Thorpe, to the consternation of his family.  Jack Thorpe sued for the return of his father's remains in 2010.

He doesn't seem to be related to Ian Thorpe, the gay Australian swimmer.
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