Wednesday, September 30, 2009

National Equality March Funding Contest!

I have a job. I'm very grateful for that, not least because many of you out there aren't so lucky.

You or someone you know wants to go to the National Equality March. I very much want to go, but I can't because my out-laws are visiting on that weekend. I really like my out-laws, so I wouldn't miss their once-or-twice-a-year chance to visit for the world. So...
"You got your jobless gay rights advocate in my cash!"

"You got your cash on my jobless gay rights advocate!"
Grace and I just moved, so times are tight right now: we ended up having to put last month's rent on a credit card. I can't be Daddy Warbucks. But if you bring me one LGBT face for this blog between now and October 5, you'll get a chance to win a $50 donation to help you or a friend get to the march. And, above and beyond that donation, I'll do a gift-matching: If I get one reader to donate $50 to another person who otherwise couldn't afford to go, I'll make a second $50 donation.

What do you say? Let's help some folks get to the capital.

From the office of Speaker Quinn: City Council Votes on Affordable Housing Resolution For Low-Income New Yorkers With HIV/AIDS

As a media contact for the office of CNY Council Speaker Christine Quinn, I'm passing along the following.
Below is the release from today's rally for the 30% rent cap bill - the Council is slated to vote on its resolution (a bill supporting state bills) today at 1 PM. I can send you that tally when it becomes available.

Here is a link to the Speaker's remarks at the rally:

City Council Votes on Affordable Housing Resolution For Low-Income New Yorkers With HIV/AIDS

Resolution Sends Strong Signal To Albany To Pass Legislation That Would Prevent 11,000 New Yorkers From Losing Their Homes

New York – People with HIV/AIDS and housing providers joined elected officials on the steps of City Hall today to call on state leaders to pass affordable housing legislation that would help prevent nearly 11,000 New Yorkers from losing their homes. Speaker Christine and Council Member Rosie Mendez introduced a formal resolution (Res 2145-2009) supporting the legislation that will be voted on later today. "This piece of legislation will not only save money for our state, but it will save money for the thousands of HASA clients and provide some vital relief for their pocketbooks. I urge Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governor David Paterson to support this bill so we can take action towards making HASA clients' lives easier and more affordable," said Speaker Christine Quinn.

"The New York State legislature must act to correct this blatant injustice. Why should people with AIDS be the only group required to pay more than 30% of income for subsidized housing? People with AIDS can not maintain their health when they are in constant threat of losing their homes. Passage of this legislation is the humane and the fiscally prudent thing to do," said Council Member Rosie Mendez. The legislation, introduced by Senator Tom Duane and Assembly Member Deborah Glick (S.2464/A.2565), would ensure clients of NYC's HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) pay no more than 30 percent of their income towards rent. According to an independent cost study, the bill would save the city and state $12 million annually by reducing emergency shelter costs.

Although it passed the Senate in a near unanimous vote on July 16, 2009, it remains bottled up in the Assembly Ways & Means Committee. Advocates say that unless Assembly Speaker Silver and Governor Paterson support the bill, thousands of New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS could lose their homes over the next year.

"In a time of economic crisis, we want Speaker Silver and Governor Paterson to recognize this legislation for what it is – an opportunity to save money for our government and save homes for low-income New Yorkers," said Gustavo Pedroza, campaign leader with the NYC AIDS Housing Network (NYCAHN) who pays 67% of his Social Security Disability (SSD) check towards rent each month. HASA's rental assistance program is the state's only disability housing program that does not cap the tenant's rent contribution at 30 percent of income. Instead, nearly 11,000 clients are required to contribute all but $344 of their income towards rent each month, leaving them with about $11 per day for all other expenses. This policy forces HASA clients to make difficult trade-offs foregoing basic necessities to pay rent each month, while many fall behind in arrears and lose their homes.

"HASA's rental assistance program doesn't leave me with enough money to clothe myself, get toiletries or make co-payments when I have medical appointments. Sometimes I even have to cancel primary care appointments because I can't afford to get there," said Wanda Hernandez, a NYCAHN campaign leader who pays 71% of her SSD check towards rent each month.

Monday, September 28, 2009

From the Office of Speaker Quinn: Anti-LGBT Attack Response Sheet

A second e-mail was sent today from CNY Council Speaker Christine Quinn's office. It contained the following additions to the first one.
Attached is a sheet outlining steps that you can take if you or someone you know is the victim of an anti-LGBT attack. For more information, please contact my LGBT Community Liaison, Erik Bottcher, at (212) 788-5646. You can also e-mail me directly at the following link:

Thank you.


Christine C. Quinn


New York City Council

From the Office of Speaker Quinn: Anti-gay attack in Hell's Kitchen

As a media contact for the office of NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, I'm passing along the following release from this morning.

Statement by Speaker Christine C. Quinn

Re: Reports of Anti-gay attack in Hell's Kitchen

Early Saturday morning there was a report of an anti-LGBT attack in Hell's Kitchen in which two individuals were the victims of a physical assault.  I am obviously outraged by news that another bias attack has occurred in our city.  But I am also deeply concerned by reports from the victims that NYPD officers responding to the scene did not appropriately recognize the seriousness of the incident.  In fact, it has been reported that they failed to attempt to apprehend or even to collect contact information from the alleged assailant.  If these reports are true, the behavior of the police officers involved was also outrageous and merits swift action by the police department.

In response I have spoken to Police Commissioner Kelly's office. They have agreed to conduct an investigation of these reports, and to have police officials meet personally with the victims this week.  I am very gratified that the police department has agreed to my requests, and urge them to complete a swift and thorough investigation.

One of the most significant tools that have helped us to combat hate crimes here in New York City is having a strong police response to incidents when they occur.  There was a time in our city when victims of hate crimes did not feel that the police were their allies.  Any time a crime of this nature occurs, victims need to know they will be taken seriously.

To their credit, the NYPD have demonstrated that they normally respond aggressively and appropriately to such crimes.  But even one such failure can begin to undermine all of our collaborative and historic efforts.  In addition, every victim deserves to have their incident taken as seriously as any other.   I will continue to work with advocates and the NYPD to increase and expand training when needed, so police officers have the tools they need to respond appropriately to bias attacks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Meandering Manifesto, Part 1: Tintinnabulation

I've been thinking a lot about society's relationship with bendy people. Well, I say "thinking". The process resembles nothing so much as stars winking unpredictably into view through the gaps in the clouds sweeping across a night sky. A science fiction novel from 1928 and an LGBT advocacy blog article posted this morning seem equally likely to illuminate the social struggle that this blog presumes to support. My thoughts are still an inchoate constellation, so I'm not even going to try to coalesce them into a single entry. I'm going to work through just one piece at a time, and at the end I expect I'll be better able to tie them all together. Please bear with me.

The following is my favorite passage from The Nine Tailors, a mystery novel by Dorothy Sayers published in 1934.
    The time wore on towards midnight. The Rector, advancing to the chancel steps, delivered, in his mild and scholarly voice, a simple and moving little address, in which he spoke of praising God, not only upon the strings and pipe, but upon the beautiful bells of their beloved church, and alluded, in his gently pious way, to the presence of the passing stranger--"please do not turn round to stare at him ; that would be neither courteous nor reverent"--who had been sent "by what men call chance" to assist in this work of devotion. Lord Peter blushed, the Rector pronounced the Benediction, the organ played the opening bars of a hymn and Hezekiah Lavender exclaimed sonorously: "Now, lads!" The ringers, with much subdued shuffling, extricated themselves from their chairs and wound their way up the belfry stair. Coats were pulled off and hung on nails in the ringing-chamber, and Wimsey, observing on a bench near the door an enormous brown jug and nine pewter tankards, understood, with pleasure, that the landlord of the Red Cow had, indeed, provided "the usual" for the refreshment of the ringers.
    The eight men advanced to their stations, and Hezekiah consulted his watch.
    "Time!" he said.
    He spat upon his hands, grasped the sallie of Tailor Paul, and gently swung the great bell over the balance.
    Toll-toll-toll ; and a pause ; toll-toll-toll ; and a pause ; toll-toll-toll ; the nine tailors, or teller-strokes, that mark the passing of a man. The year is dead ; toll him out with twelve strokes more, one for every passing month. Then silence. Then, from the faint, sweet tubular chimes of the clock overhead, the four quarters and the twelve strokes of midnight. The ringers grasped their ropes.
    The bells gave tongue: Gaude, Sabaoth, John, Jericho, Jubilee, Dimity, Batty Thomas and Tailor Paul, rioting and exulting high up in the dark tower, wide mouths rising and falling, brazen tongues clamouring, huge wheels turning to the dance of the leaping ropes. tin tan din dan bim bam bom bo--tan tin din dan bam bim bo bom--tin tan dan din bim bam bom bo--tan tin dan din bam bim bo bom--tan dan tin bam din bo bim bom--every bell in her place striking tuneably, hunting up, hunting down, dodging, snapping, laying her blows behind, making her thirds and fourths, working down to lead the dance again. Out over the flat, white wastes of fen, over the spear-straight, steel-dark dykes and the wind-bent, groaning poplar trees, bursting from the snow-choked louvres of the belfry, whirled away southward and westward in gusty blasts of clamour to the sleeping counties went the music of the bells--little Gaude, silver Sabaoth, strong John and Jericho, glad Jubilee, sweet Dimity and old Batty Thomas, with great Tailor Paul bawling and striding like a giant in the midst of them. Up and down went the shadows of the ringers upon the walls, up and down went the scarlet sallies flickering roofwards and floorwards, and up and down, hunting in their courses, went the bells of Fenchurch St. Paul.
    Wimsey, his eye upon the ropes and his ear pricked for the treble's shrill tongue speaking at lead, had little attention to give to anything but his task. He was dimly conscious of old Hezekiah, moving with the smooth rhythm of a machine, bowing his ancient back very slightly at each pull to bring Tailor Paul's great weight over, and of Wally Pratt, his face anxiously contorted and his lips moving in the effort to keep his intricate course in mind. Wally's bell was moving down now towards his own, dodging Number Six and passing her, dodging Number Seven and passing her, passing Number Five, striking her two blows at lead, working up again, while the treble came down to take her place and make her last snapping lead with Sabaoth. One blow in seconds place and one at lead, and Sabaoth, released from the monotony of the slow hunt, ran out merrily into her plain hunting course. High in the air above them the cock upon the weathervane stared out over the snow and watched the pinnacles of the tower swing to and fro with a slowly widening sweep as the tall stalk of stone gathered momentum and rocked like a windblown tree beneath his golden feet.
I adore this passage. The skill I treasure most in an author is her ability to transport me in time and space: to pull me past the black marks on the page and into the story. I feel the old wood and the rough hemp of the rope sallies; I see the ponderous swinging of the bells; I hear the ringing, and feel the sound resonating in my rib cage. And I feel the sway of the bell tower as my mind's eye lifts off from it, swoops around it for one breathtaking view, and finally settles in and, alongside the cock upon the weathervane, presides over it all.

I also love this passage for how it evokes a people's love for their traditions. And here's the thing that makes it relevant to this blog: those traditions are arbitrary. The type of bell-ringing that Wimsey was participating in is called Change ringing, and it follows a set of mathematical rules without regard for melody. Some folks back in the seventeenth century got it in their heads that following a mathematical sequence with bells was a Good Idea, and here we have a hallowed tradition followed by townsfolk who know bugger all about math. But those people would probably fight tooth and nail if you tried to take those well-tested ropes out of their hands, or suggested changing the style of ringing. They love it because, from time immemorial, they have done it.

Except, well... they haven't.

That's the thing about time immemorial, isn't it? It is one of our most profound fictions. People have a way of convincing themselves that what's been done for as long as their family remembers it is the way it's always been. And the truth of our collective cognitive space is built on that lie. We mold a plastic reality every day out of demonstratively false assertions, the greatest of which is the immutability of that reality.

The Parish of Fenchurch St. Paul is a fiction that Dorothy Sayers wove from her own fond memories of growing up as the daughter of the rector of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. So while neither it nor its inhabitants are real, they evoke real human truths. People love their traditions, which to them are every bit as solid as the stone stairs of a bell tower and the generations of feet that wore depressions into them. To you and me, those traditions may be constructs. They may be arbitrary. They may be vapor. But we cannot diminish their subjective solidity one whit by ignoring or dismissing them, nor do we have any business doing so.

And if an arbitrary system of yanking on a bunch of ropes to ring a bunch of bells can so grasp our affections and screw them to a social sticking place, how much more does a system of sexual morays bind a people? Sex is our greatest compulsion. What the hell do you expect? Stop acting surprised when people act like people.

I'm not saying that we have to accept another person's tradition. I'm not even saying that we have to respect them. But we should bloody well stop acting so surprised. I know you know how it feels to grin as you enthusiastically heft that bushel basket of umbrage at that which violates your sense of propriety; after all, you're human, just like me. Just like them.

Ignore Them.

Since yesterday I've seen a lot of internet chatter about the Westboro Baptist protest at Brooklyn Tech and the counter-protestors who vastly outnumbered them. The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Brooklyn Paper and GLSEN had some interesting material. But it was the reader comments on these stories that made me think further into the situation and, eventually, act on it.

Just about anyone who hears about those sad, impacted agent provocateurs from Kansas gets outraged. I sure did. But the more righteously indignant responses I saw, the calmer I became. Righteous indignation has more to do with me than with the injustice against which I purport to stand. It's not useful. So I looked for a useful response, and noticed something interesting: a lot of people were talking about the people being protested, but no one seemed to be talking to them. That's significant. It indicates a self-defeating propensity for self-righteousness. Be careful with that self-righteousness, folks. I've handled plenty of it, and let me tell you, that shit gets in your eyes and blinds you.

I love the idea of attending any and all Westboro Baptist protests in order to stage a peaceful, silent counter-protest in which I stand with my backs to them and shine all my love on the objects of their hatred. It's a beautiful image. But before galloping to the rescue it behooves me to first consider whether I am, in fact, a knight in shining armor. Even more important is the question of whether my rescuee needs or wants to be rescued. So I got the Westboro Baptist protest schedule from one of the commentors...

I want to stop here a minute to let that sink in: Westboro Baptist publishes a protest schedule on They publish a sodding protest schedule. Doesn't that tell you something right there? There is nothing more valuable to these wankspouts than attention.

So I got the Westboro Baptist protest schedule, Googled the institutions about to be protested, and made some calls. The results didn't surprise me. Specific responses follow, but they can be summed up thusly: We don't want help. Ignore them.

NY Chabad of Great Neck: "We don't want help. The more we respond, the more we achieve their goals."

Dr. Vitow, Principal of North Shore Hebrew Academy High School: "It takes two to tango. In this case there's only going to be one because we're not going to be here."

Principal Kaplan of Great Neck North High School: "Our kids are going to leave and ignore them completely. We've responded vigorously to ourselves to be tolerant, compassionate and loving."

Great Neck Synagogue: "The consensus of all the synagogues and schools is to ignore them.

There you have it. I'm left with a warm feeling of channeling my mother that's right up there with making a batch of apple pies. She sure wasn't right about everything, but she was right about this: "Ignore the bullies."

Please pass this message along to anyone planning a counter-protest of a Westboro Baptist protest: Don't do it. Those being protested don't want your help, and you'll only be giving them the attention they so desperately want.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Circus Is In Town

As a media contact for NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, I got the following via e-mail today.
Statement by Speaker Christine C. Quinn


"We accept and welcome all forms of speech in our City, except one - hate. When a group plans to meet out of hatred towards another group, we must speak out and say no. The act of spewing foul racist remarks towards the Jewish community will not be tolerated in Brooklyn or anywhere in our City. We need to stand against the Westboro Baptist Church and any other group who are under the misapprehension that they can come into our neighborhoods and home and stand in hate against any community. I condemn the very nature of this group and what they stand for and hope that soon they will realize the acts they carry out daily are not for the good of any society."
Being new to all this gay advocacy stuff, the name "Westboro Baptist Church" was not immediately familiar to me. Then I Googled it and said, "Ah... they of fame. Great. What kind of trouble are those nutty kids stirring up in Brooklyn?" Well, it turns out that they got a cold reception that vastly outnumbered them at Brooklyn Tech. While reading a second article I was tickled to suddenly be reading a quote from a friend of mine who teaches there.
At Brooklyn Tech on Wednesday, there was a calm before the impending anti-gay attack. A teacher, Sean Shaynak, vowed to be ready.

“I’ll be sure to wear pink tomorrow, maybe some stretch pants,” said Shaynak.
The exploits of Westboro Baptist demonstrators read like a "TO DO" list of folks who are out to prove, once and for all, that they have cornered the market on childishness. "You jumped into a sandbox, threw sand in a three-year-old girl's face, and stole her Barbie doll? That ain't nothin'! Why, I just got back from picketing a soldier's funeral!" Man, where does that get fun?

And yet.

My mother taught me to ignore bullies. I wish I was able to embrace that philosophy entirely; I wish I was entirely sanguine, and not sanguinary. But I am my father's son. There was a moment or two this evening when I relished the thought of feeling blood spurt past my knuckles as they shattered the facial bones of a Westboro Baptist demonstrator.

These violent thoughts came like an occasional backwash in the midst of their direct antithesis. I needed to visualize how I would respond to such hatred with love, so I thought of visiting one of their protests, turning my back to the demonstrators, and completely ignoring them while focusing all my love on the targets of their hate.

I like the thought of being a force of love amid the hatred: of interposing myself between the hate and the hated. But I imagine it's a damned hard game to play, so I wonder if it's always best to just flat-out ignore them. I suspect that's the case: like my mother said, "Ignore the bullies."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Meet Tym

I have been called or called myself many things in my life.

In my early life: Son, brat, brother, hoosier, friend, singer, choreographer, dancer, lover of life, fun, school mascot, lead singer in several bands, artist, sexually confused, depressed, etc.....

In my 20s to mid 40s: Young business owner, easily manipulated, broken, forgotten dreams, miserable, hopeless, easy to take advantage of, lost, alcoholic, drug abuser-user-and addict for almost 20 yrs, smoker for almost 30yrs, abused, used, frightened, sick, at death's door, extremely depressed, etc.....

My mid to late 40s (present), I've been called: A miracle, amazing, rehab completer, drug and alcohol free, smoke free, lover of life, talented, singer, film-tv-and stage actor, inspiration, writer, friend, lover of life, artist, gay, honorable, internet radio personality, very very spiritual, happy, etc!!!

And there is so much more ahead. All good.

As I say, I created a living hell for myself in the first part of my adult life. A hell I don't wish on anyone. So for the 2nd 1/2 of my life...... I'm creating a living Heaven for myself!!..... If something doesn't bring me joy, then its not for me!!

I"m rediscovering who I truly am again and I"m loving it. I"m finally enjoying who I am, celebrating life and enjoying every wonderful moment of it. I suggest you do the same!!
I met Tym at the Kiss-In at Battery Park. He's the speaker in the third video I took that day. His simple and heartfelt statement made me proud to be part of the event: after experiencing the changes in how non-straight folks have been perceived during the last three decades, Tym was rightfully choked up as he stood there, able to publicly proclaim that he is gay and that he's a person like everyone else. I'm thrilled to have him as a face of the day. Thanks Tym!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Meet Jenna

I am a student, poet, artist, activist, comic, commuter, lefty, and more.

I am also an Aquarius, unicyclist, martial artist, writer, singer, skater, scrapbooker, facebooker, videographer, and so many other great things besides queer!

At 5'3" on a very good day, I am a 'little person' with a BIG personality, and as a close friend puts it, "as androgynous as the day is long". That's just about twenty-four hours of androgyny, which is a pretty decent chunk, if I do say so myself.

And, Speaking of saying, when I am speaking, I ONLY say what I mean, ONLY if to inform or enlighten someone, or perhaps amuse them, and yet, I still talk a lot. Go figure.

I believe gender is as fluid as race and orientation itself. While the majority of us are either male or female, straight or gay, black or white or Hispanic or Asian, right handed or left handed, there is a significant minority of those who are both, who are neither, who blur the line, or just plain ol' play hopscotch over it, depending on the day. Nothing in nature is truly black or white, either or. What fun would coloring be without the grays, the purples, the greens, the red-oranges and blue violets? While most paint the world in four colors, straight out of the complimentary crayon box children receive at their favorite Friendly’s or Denny’s, I strive to draw a world free of boxes, and to see every human being not as a type but as an individual.

At (practically) twenty years old, its hard to see the wrongs in the world and not walk around like you know everything. I may be young but I feel I've gotten a head start on my journey to further equality. As a graduate from Bay Shore High School, I fervently protested the community's lack of pride in our greatest graduate, Harvey Bernard Milk. Thanks to the support of a few close teachers, and some amazing timing by Gus Van Sant, my old school now has much more than a dinky picture of him below Robert Entenmann (of Entenmann's bakery, which I must admit, does in fact have the greatest soft chocolate chip cookies of all time, but this is besides the point). This was just a small start in what I've realized to be my greatest goal and passion in life, and that is fighting for equality.

As I progress further into my college career, I am determined to practice what I preach and continue to live and love as more than just a queer, but as a good human being. I am proud to be a part of the LGBT community, and I can be proud and still be myself. There are sp many people in the world who know few if any LGBT individuals, and if they do, they know them only as "the gay kid" or "that lesbian", etc. You may know what I mean. I feel that the best I can do for the equal rights movement, as a constant representative of it, is to be nothing but the best individual I can be, in every way, and to speak out and encourage others to do the same and live free from such 'boxes' and to be themselves!

In other words, and this may or may not be a pun: There is no sense in letting the media's constant involvement in one's life wrap oneself in a label as if it were a Snuggie, the Blanket With Sleeves.

Maybe? ...Well, I say its a pun if it so identifies itself as such. Like I was saying, who am I to judge?
I met Jenna when a mutual Twitter friend referred her to me. She enthusiastically agreed to be a face of the day. Thanks Jenna!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Meet John

I'm John Kwiatkowski. I live in Houston, TX, and manage a bookstore in Sugarland, TX. That means I own way too many books, and spend too much time reading. I just turned 30 in November, and have been having the best year of my life. My husband Matt and I just bought our first house in April. The process was stressful, but so worth it when I come home from work every night. Although, I sometimes doubt how worth it the whole thing was when I'm mowing the lawn in the Texas heat.

I was originally born in Delaware, but moved to Texas with my family in 1989. I've been in Houston for nine years, and love everything about the city. When I first moved here, I worked in a gay bookstore/coffee shop. It was one of the best jobs I ever had, and one that I still miss everyday. When I'm not working, or reading I love to go see live concerts and stage productions. Every week, I get together with a group of friends for Gay Movie Saturday. We hang out and watch GLBT themed movies that we haven't seen before.
I met John when we followed each other on Twitter and I asked him to be a face of the day. At first he was reticent about appearing alongside people like Billie Myers and poets and movie makers, but I assured him that the whole point of this blog is that GLBT folks are regular people, so that's what I'm looking for. Thanks for contributing your face and story, John!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Musings of a Novitiate Ally, Part 5: What's a Word Between Jonahs?

In my entries So You Think Gay Sex Is Weird? and Shower Thoughts I used the word "unusual" in reference to gay sex. From a purely annotative standpoint it was an apt descriptor. I know that, all too often, connotations carry the day, but that's not my problem. People who want to fight about semantics will find a way to do so. I'm not going to hold my breath for the sake of their hypersensitive feathers. On the contrary, I rather enjoy the thought of ruffling them.

And yet.

Y'see, I talk a good game. But the thought of conflict, of offending people, still bothers me. So, although I had no intention of changing my wording, I kept worrying that I'd lose readers who took offense at my use of the word "unusual". This came to a head during a morning walk. My more demure self was once again insisting "But people do have negative associations with words like 'unusual'!"... and then I stopped, dumbfounded.

People have negative associations with the word "unusual".

We are insane creatures.

The word "unusual" should have no more potential for negative connotations than words like "lateral" or "clockwise" or "rectangular". It should be clinical in its descriptiveness. But we're not clinical, are we? We are meat. We dance to the tune of blood and hormones while singing of our rationality. We act on our emotional reactions and retroactively construct logical frameworks to support those acts. If you face it square on, though, no construct can disguise our irrationality. Any race that snarls at the unusual is a race of animals.

And this is what stopped me in my tracks. I already saw arguing over semantics as a waste of time. After that thought hit me, I saw it as an absurdity of cosmic proportions. It brings to my mind the picture of two lost hikers taking shelter in a cave. While starting a fire they notice a nasty smell. Then the firelight reveals two remarkably uniform and pointed rows of white stones edging the top and bottom of the cave entrance. Our hikers look closely and find that the stench is coming from bits of rotting meat stuck between the stones. They proceed to argue about whether they should just go to sleep, or take the trouble to remove the source of the offending smell.

Stand outside that "cave". Look at the two bickering buffoons. If we waste time arguing over semantics, we are them. We are progressives standing in the steel-trap jaws of an intrinsically irrational human society. Any second it's liable to snap closed and swallow us in a wave of conservatism. We need to stop messing around and focus on the presence of the jaws.