Sunday, 30 January 2011

First let the camel get his nose inside the tent--only later his unsightly derriere!

(The following article called "The Overhauling of Straight America'' was written by Marshall K. Kirk and Erastes Pill and appeared in Guide Magazine, November 1987. As you read the article, keep in mind it was printed seven years ago. Many of the strategies have already been put into place and have achieved their desired results.)
The first order of business is desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights. To desensitize the public is to help it view homosexuality with indifference instead of with keen emotion. Ideally, we would have straights register differences in sexual preference the way they register different tastes for ice cream or sports games: she likes strawberry and I like vanilla; he follows baseball and I follow football. No big deal.
At least in the beginning, we are seeking public desensitization and nothing more. We do not need and cannot expect a full "appreciation" or "understanding" of homosexuality from the average American. You can forget about trying to persuade the masses that homosexuality is a good thing. But if only you can get them to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders, then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won. And to get to shoulder-shrug stage, gays as a class must cease to appear mysterious, alien, loathsome and contrary. A large-scale media campaign will be required in order to change the image of gays in America. And any campaign to accomplish this turnaround should do six things.
The principle behind this advice is simple: almost any behavior begins to look normal if you are exposed to enough of it at close quarters and among your acquaintances. The acceptability of the new behavior will ultimately hinge on the number of one's fellows doing it or accepting it. One may be offended by its novelty at first--many, in times past, were momentarily scandalized by "streaking,'' eating goldfish, and premarital sex. But as long as Joe Six-pack feels little pressure to perform likewise, and as long as the behavior in question presents little threat to his physical and financial security, he soon gets used to it and life goes on. The skeptic may still shake his head and think "people arc crazy these days," but over time his objections are likely to become more reflective, more philosophical, less emotional.
The way to benumb raw sensitivities about homosexuality is to have a lot of people talk a great deal about the subject in a neutral or supportive way. Open and frank talk makes the subject seem less furtive, alien, and sinful, more above-board. Constant talk builds the impression that public opinion is at least divided on the subject, and that a sizable segment accepts or even practices homosexuality. Even rancorous debates between opponents and defenders serve the purpose of desensitization so long as "respectable" gays are front and center to make their own pitch. The main thing is to talk about gayness until the issue becomes thoroughly tiresome.
And when we say talk about homosexuality, we mean just that. In the early stages of any campaign to reach straight America, the masses should not be shocked and repelled by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself. Instead, the imagery of sex should be downplayed and gay rights should be reduced to an abstract social question as much as possible. First let the camel get his nose inside the tent--only later his unsightly derriere!
Where we talk is important. The visual media, film and television, are plainly the most powerful imagemakers in Western civilization. The average American household watches over seven hours of TV daily. Those hours open up a gateway into the private world of straights, through which a Trojan horse might be passed. As far as desensitization is concerned, the medium is the message--of normalcy. So far, gay Hollywood has provided our best covert weapon in the battle to desensitize the mainstream. Bit by bit over the past ten years, gay characters and gay themes have been introduced into TV programs and films (though often this has been done to achieve comedic and ridiculous affects). On the whole the impact has been encouraging. The prime-time presentation of Consenting Adults on a major network in 1985 is but one high-water mark in favorable media exposure of gay issues. But this should be just the beginning of a major publicity blitz. by gay America.
Would a desensitizing campaign of open and sustained talk about gay issues reach every rabid opponent of homosexuality? Of course not. While public opinion is one primary source of mainstream values, religious authority is the other. When conservative churches condemn gays, there are only two things we can do to confound the homophobia of true believers. First, we can use talk to muddy the moral waters. This means publicizing support for gays by more moderate churches, raising theological objections of our own about conservative interpretations of biblical teachings, and exposing hatred and inconsistency. Second, we can undermine the moral authority of homophobia churches by portraying them as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology. Against the mighty pull of institutional Religion one must set the mightier draw of Science and Public Opinion (the shield and sword of the accursed "secular humanism"'). Such an unholy alliance has worked well against churches before, on such topics as divorce and abortion. With enough open talk about the prevalence and acceptability of homosexuality, that alliance can work again here.
In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to assume the role of protector. If gays are presented, instead, as a strong and prideful tribe promoting a rigidly nonconformist and deviant lifestyle, they are more likely to be seen as a public menace that justifies resistance and oppression. For that reason, we must forego the temptation to strut our "gay pride" publicly when it conflicts with the Gay Victim image. And we must walk the fine line between impressing straights with our great numbers, on the one hand, and sparking their hostile paranoia—"They are all around us!"--on the other. A media campaign to promote the Gay Victim image should make use of symbols which reduce the mainstream’s sense of threat, which lower it's guard, and which enhance the plausibility of victimization. In practical terms, this means that jaunty mustachioed musclemen would keep very low profile in gay commercials and other public presentations, while sympathetic figures of nice young people, old people, and attractive women would be featured. (It almost goes without saying that groups on the farthest margin of acceptability such as NAMBLA, [Ed note -- North American Man-Boy Love Association] must play no part at all in such a campaign: suspected child-molesters will never look like victims.)
Now, there are two different messages about the Gay Victim that arc worth communicating. First, the mainstream should be told that gays arc victims of fate, in the sense that most never had a choice to accept or eject their sexual preference. The message must read: "As far as gays can tell, they were born gay, just as you were born heterosexual or white or black or bright or athletic. Nobody ever tricked or seduced them; they never made a choice, and are not morally blameworthy. What they do isn't willfully contrary – it’s only natural for them. This twist of fate could as easily have happened to you!"
Straight viewers must be able to identify with gays as victims. Mr and Mrs. Public must be given no extra excuses to say "they arc not like us." To this end, the persons featured in the public campaign should be decent and upright, appealing and admirable by straight standards, completely unexceptionable in appearance--in a word, they should be indistinguishable from the straights we would like to reach. (To return to the terms we have used in previous articles, spokemen for our cause must be R-type "straight gays" rather than Q-type "homosexuals on display." ) Only under such conditions will the message be read correctly: "These folks are victims of a fate that could have happened to me."
By the way, we realize that many gays will question an advertising technique which might threaten to make homosexuality look like some dreadful disease which strikes fated "victims". But the plain fact is that the gay community is weak, including the play for sympathy. In any case, we compensate for the negative aspect of this gay victim appeal under Principle 4. Below.
The second message would portray gays as victims of society. The straight majority does not recognize the suffering it brings to the lives of gays and must be shown: graphic pictures of brutalized gays; dramatizations of job and housing insecurity, loss of child custody, and public humiliation: and the dismal list goes on.

A media campaign that casts gays as society's victims and encourages straights to be their protectors must make it easier for those to respond to assert and explain their new protectiveness. Few straight women, and even fewer straight men, wilt want to defend homosexuality boldly as such. Most would rather attach their awakened protective impulse to some principle of justice or law, to some general desire for consistent and fair treatment in society. Our campaign should not demand direct support for homosexual practices, but should instead take anti-discrimination as its theme. The right to free speech, freedom of beliefs, freedom of association, due process and equal protection of laws--these should be the concerns brought to mind by our campaign.
It is especially important for the gay movement to hitch its cause to accepted standards of law and justice because its straight supporters must have at hand a cogent reply to the moral arguments of its enemies. The homophobes clothe their emotional revulsion in the daunting robes of religious dogma, so defenders of gay rights must be ready to counter dogma with principle.
In order to make a Gay Victim sympathetic to straights you have to portray him as Everyman. But an additional theme of the campaign should be more aggressive and upbeat: to offset the increasingly bad press that these times have brought to homosexual men and women, the campaign should paint gays as superior pillars of society. Yes, yes, we know--this trick is so old it creaks. Other minorities use it all the time in ads that announce proudly, "Did you know that this Great Man (or Woman) was _________?" But the message is vital for all those straights who still picture gays as "queer" people-- shadowy, lonesome, fail, drunken, suicidal, child-snatching misfits. The honor roll of prominent gay or bisexual men and women is truly eyepopping. From Socrates to Shakespeare, from Alexander the Great to Alexander Hamilton, from Michelangelo to Walt Whitman, from Sappho to Gertrude Stein, the list is old hat to us but shocking news to heterosexual America. In no time, a skillful and clever media campaign could have the gay community looking like the veritable fairy godmother to Western Civilization.
Along the same lines, we shouldn't overlook the Celebrity Endorsement. The celebrities can be straight (God bless you, Ed Asner, wherever you are) or gay.
At a later stage of the media campaign for gay rights-long after other gay ads have become commonplace--it will be time to get tough with remaining opponents. To be blunt, they must be vilified. (This will be all the more necessary because, by that time, the entrenched enemy will have quadrupled its output of vitriol and disinformation.) Our goal here is twofold. First, we seek to replace the mainstream's self-righteous pride about its homophobia with shame and guilt. Second, we intend to make the antigays look so nasty that average Americans will want to dissociate themselves from such types.
The public should be shown images of ranting homophobes whose secondary traits and beliefs disgust middle America. These images might include: the Ku Klux Klan demanding that gays be burned alive or castrated; bigoted southern ministers drooling with hysterical hatred to a degree that looks both comical and deranged; menacing punks, thugs, and convicts speaking coolly about the "fags" they have killed or would like to kill; a tour of Nazi concentration camps where homoscxuals were tortured and gassed.
A campaign to vilify the victimizers is going to enrage our most fervid enemies, of course. But what else can we say? The shoe fits, and we should make them try it on for size, with all of America watching.
The buck stops here. Any massive campaign of this kind would require unprecedented expenditures for months or even years--an unprecedented fundraising drive.
Effective advertising is a costly proposition: several million dollars would get the ball rolling. There are 10-15 million primarily homosexual adults in this country: if each one of them donated just two dollars to the campaign, its war chest would actually rival that of its most vocal enemies. And because those gays not supporting families usually have more discretionars income than average, they could afford to contribute much more.
But would they? Or is they, [sic] gay community as feckless, selfish, uncommitted, and short-sighted as its critics claim? We will never know unless the new campaign simultaneously launches a concerted nationwide appeal for funding support from both known and anorymous donors. The appeal should be directed both at gays and at straights who care about social justice.
In the beginning, for reasons to be explained in a moment, the appeal for funds may have to be launched exclusively through the gay press--national magazines, local newspapers, flyers at bars, notices in glossy skin magazines. Funds could also come through the outreach of local gay organizations on campuses and in metropolitan areas. Eventually, donations would be solicited directly alongside advertisements in the major straight media.
There would be no parallel to such an effort in the history of the gay community in America. It failed to generate the needed capital to get started, there would be little hope for the campaign and l little hope for major progress toward gay rights in the near future. For the moment let us suppose that gays could see how donations would greatly serve their long term interest, and that sufficient funds could be raised. An heroic assumption.

Without access to TV, radio, and the mainstream press, there will be no campaign. This is a tricky problem, became many impresarios of the media simply refuse to accept what they call "issue-advertising" -- persuasive advertising can provoke a storm of resentment from the public and from sponsors, which is bad for business. The courts have confirmed the broadcaster's right to refuse any "issue advertising" he dislikes.
What exactly constitutes "issue advertising"? It evidently does not include platitudinous appeals to the virtues of family unity (courtesy of the Mormons) neither does it include tirades against perfidious Albion courtesy of Lyndon LaRouche); neither does it include reminders that a Mind-Is-a Terrible Thing to Waste (courtesy of the United Negro College Fund); neither does it include religious shows which condemn gay "sinners"; neither does it include condemnations of nuclear war or race discrimination--at least not in Massachusetts. Some guys get all the breaks.
What issue-advertising does include these days is almost any communique presented openly by a homosexual organization. The words "gay" and "homosexual"' arc considered controversial whenever they appear.
Because most straightforward appeals arc impossible, the National Gay Task Force has had to cultivate quiet backroom liaisons with broadcast companies and newsrooms in order to make sure that issues important to the gay community receive some coverage; but such an arrangement is hardly ideal, of course, because it means that the gay community's image is controlled by the latest news event instead of by careful design--and recently most of the news about gays has been negative. So what can be done to crash the gates of the major media? Several things, advanced in several stages.
Newspapers and magazines may very well be more hungry for gay advertising dollars than television and radio arc. And the cost of ads in print is generally lower. But remember that the press, for the most part, is only read by better educated Americans, many of whom arc already more accepting of homosexuality in any case. So to get more impact for our dollars, we should skip the New Republic and New Left Review readers and head for Time, People , and the National Enquirer. (Of course, the gay community may have to establish itself as a regular advertising presence in more sophisticated forums first before it is accepted into the mass press. )
While we're storming the battlements with salvos of ink, we should also warm the mainstream up a bit with a subtle national campaign on highway billboards. In simple bold print on dark backgrounds, a series of unobjectionable messages should be introduced:
And so on. Each sign will tap patriotic sentiment, each message will drill a seemingly agreeable proposition into mainstream heads--a "public service message" suited to our purposes. And, if their owners will permit it, each billboard w ill be signed, in slightly smaller letters, "Courtesy of the National Gay Task Force"--to build positive associations and get the public used to seeing such sponsorship.
As for television and radio, a more elaborate plan may be needed to break the ice. For openers, naturally, we must continue to encourage the appearance of favorable gay characters in films and TV shows. Daytime talk shows also remain a useful avenue for exposure.
But to speed things up we might consider a bold stratagem to gain media attention. The scheme we have in mind would require careful preparations, yet it would save expense even while it elevated the visibility and stature of the gay movement overnight. Well before the next elections for national office, we might lay careful plans to run symbolic gay candidates for every high political office in this country. (Such plans would have to deal somehow with the tricky problem of inducing gays and straights to sign enough endorsement petitions to get us on the ballot.) Our 50-250 candidates would participate in such debates as they could, run gay-themed advertisements coordinated at our national headquarters, and demand equal time on the air. They could then graciously pull out of the races before the actual elections, while formally endorsing more viable straight contenders. (With malicious humor, perhaps, in some states we could endorse our most rabid opponents.) It is essential not to ask people actually to vote Yea or Nay on the gay issue at this early stage: such action would end up committing most to the Nay position and would only tally huge and visible defeats for our cause.
Through such a political campaign, the mainstream would get over the initial shock of seeing gay ads, and the acceptability of such ads would be fortified by the most creditable context possible; and all this would be accomplished before non-electoral advertising was attempted by the gay community. During the campaign all hell would break loose, but if we behaved courageously and respectable our drive would gain legitimacy in and case and might even become a cause celebre.
If all went as planned, the somewhat desensitized public and the major networks themselves would be ‘readied for the next step of our program.
At this point the gay community has its foot in the door, and it is time to ask the networks to accept gay sponsorship of certain ads and shows. Timing is critical: The request must be made immediately after our national political ads disappear. Failing that, we should request sponsorship the next time one of the networks struts its broad- mindedness by televising a film or show with gay characters or themes. If they wish to look consistent instead of hypocritical, we'll have them on the spot.
But the networks would still be forced to say No unless we made their resistance look patently unreasonable, and possibly illegal. We'd do just that by proposing "gay ads" patterned exactly after those currently sponsored by the Mormons and others. As usual, viewers would be treated to squeak-clean skits on the importance of family harmony and understanding --this time the narrator would end by saying, "This message was brought to you by --the National Gay Task Force." All very quiet and subdued. Remember: exposure is everything, and the medium is the message.
The gay community should join forces with other civil liberties groups of respectable cast to promote bland messages about America the Melting Pot, always ending with an explicit reference to the Task Force of some other gay organization. Making the best of a bad situation, we can also propose sympathetic media appeals for gifts and donations to fund AIDS research--if Jerry Lewis and the March of Dimes can do it, so can we. Our next indirect step will be to advertise locally on behalf of support groups peripheral to the gay community: frowzy straight moms and dads announcing phone numbers and meeting times for "Parents of Gays" or similar gatherings. Can't you just see such ads now, presented between messages from the Disabled Vets and the Postal Workers Union?
By this point, our salami tactics will have carved out, slice by slice, a large portion of access to the mainstream media. So what then? It would finally be time to bring gay ads out of the closet. The messages of such ads should directly address lingering public fears about homosexuals as loathsome and contrary aliens. For examples, the following are possible formats for TV or radio commercials designed to chip away at chronic misperceptions.
Format A for Familiarization: The Testimonial.
To make gays seem less mysterious, present a series of short spots featuring the boy- or girl-next- door. fresh and appealing, or warm and lovable grandma grandpa types. Seated in homey surroundings, they respond to an offcamera interviewer with assurance, good nature, and charm. Their comments bring out three social facts:
( 1 ) There is someone special in their life, a long-term relationship (to stress gay stability, monogamy, commitment);
(2)Their families are very important to them, and are supportive of them (to stress that gays are not "anti-family," and that families need not be anti-gay.)
(3)As far as they can remember the! have always been gay, and were probably born gay; they certainly never decided on a preference one way or the other (stressing that gays are doing what is natural for them, and are not being willfully contrary).
The subjects should be interviewed alone, not with their lovers or children, for to include others in the picture would unwisely raise disturbing questions about the complexities of gay social relations, which these commercials could not explain. It is best instead to take one thing at a time.
Format B for Positive associations: The Celebrity Spot.
While it might be useful to present celebrity endorsement by currently popular gay figures and straight sympathizers (Johnny Mathis? Marlo Thomas?), the homophobia climate of America would make such brash endorsements unlikely in the near future. So early celebrity spots will instead identify historical gay or bisexual personalities who are illustrious and dignified...and dead. The ads could be sardonic and indirect. For example, over regal music and a portrait or two, a narrator might announce simply:
William Shakespeare--the greatest playright in the history of the English language. Yet, if he were alive today, some people wouldn't let him teach a high school English class. Now isn't that a shame?
The rhetorical question forces the viewer to answer Yes. And to explain the Bard's failing, the ad would end simply: "A message from the National Gay Task Force." Similar commercials could feature Michelangelo (an art class), Tchaikovsky (a music class), Tennessee Williams (a drama class), etc.
Format C for Victim Sympathy: Our Campaign to Stop Child Abuse.
As we said earlier, there arc many ways to portray gays as victims of discrimination: images of brutality, tales of job loss and family separation, and so on. But we think something like the following 30-sccond commercials would get to the heart of the matter best of all.
The camera slowly moves in on a middle-class teenager, sitting alone in his semi-darkened bedroom. The boy is pleasing and unexceptional in appearance, except that he has been roughed up and is starring silently, pensively, with evident distress. As the camera gradually focuses in on his face, a narrator comments: It will happen to one in every ten sons. As he grows up. he will realize that he feels differently about things than most of his friends. If he lets it show, he'll be an outsider made fun of, humiliated, attacked. If he confides in his parents, they may throw him out of the house, onto the streets. Some will say he is "anti-family." Nobody will let him be himself. So he will have to hide. From his friends, his family. And that's hard. It's tough enough to be a kid these days, but to be the one in ten... A message from the National Gay Task Force.
What is nice about such an ad is that it would economically portray gays as innocent and vulnerable, victimized and misunderstood, surprisingly numerous yet not menacing. It also renders the "anti-family" charge absurd and hypocritical.
Format D for Identification with Victims: The Old Switcheroo.
The mainstream will identify better with the plight of gays if straights can, once in a while, walk a mile in gay shoes. A humorous television or radio ad to help them do this might involve a brief animated or dramatized scenario, as follows.
The camera approaches the mighty oak door of the boss's office, which swings open, and the camera (which represents you the viewer) enters the room. Behind the oversized desk sits a fat and scowling old curmudgeon chomping on a cigar. He looks up at the camera (i.e. at the viewer) and snarls, " So it's you, Smithers. Well You're fired!" The voice of a younger man is heard to reply with astonishment, "But—but--Mr. Thomburg, I've been with your company for ten years. I thought you liked my work." The boss responds, with a tone of disgust, "Yes, yes, Smithers your work is quite adequate. But I've heard rumors that you've been seen around town with some kind of girlfriend. A girlfriend! Frankly I'm shocked. We're not about to start hiring any heterosexuals in this company. Now get out." The younger man speaks once more: "But boss, that's just not fair! What if it were you?" The boss glowers back as the camera pulls quickly out of the room and the big door slams shut. Printed on the door: "A message from the National Gay Task Force."
One can easily imagine similar episodes involving housing or other discrimination.
Format E for Vilification of Victimizers: Damn the Torpedoes.
We have already indicated some of the images which might be damaging to the homophobic vendetta: ranting and hateful religious extremists neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klansmen made to look evil and ridiculous (hardly a difficult task).
These images should be combined with those of their gay victims by a method propagandists call the "bracket technique." For example, for a few seconds an unctuous beady-eyed Southern preacher is seen pounding the pulpit in rage about "those sick, abominable creatures." While his tirade continues over the soundtrack,. the picture switches to pathetic photos of gays who look decent, harmless, and likable; and then we cut back to the poisonous face of the preacher, and so forth. The contrast speaks for itself. The effect is devastating.
Format F for Funds: S.O.S.
Alongside or during these other persuasive advertisements, we would have to solicit donations so that the campaign might continue. Direct appeals from celebrities (preferable living ones, thank you) might be useful here. All appeals must stress that money can be given anonymously (e.g. via money orders) and that all donations are confidential. "We can’t help unless you help," and all that.
The Time Is Now
We have sketched out here a blueprint for transforming the social values of straight America. At the core of our program is a media campaign to change the way the average citizens view homosexuality. It is quite easy to find fault with such a campaign. We have tried to be practical and specific here, but the proposals may still have a visionary sheen.
There are one hundred reasons why the campaign could not be done or would be risky. But there are at least 20 million good reasons why some such program must be tried in the coming years: the welfare and happiness of every gay man and woman in this country demand it. As the last large, legally oppressed minority in American society, it is high time that gays took effective measures to rejoin the mainstream in pride and strength. We believe that, like it or not, such a campaign is the only way of doing so anytime soon.
And, let us repeat, time may be running out. The AIDS epidemic is sparking anger and fear in the heartland of straight America. As the virus leaks out of homosexual circles and into the rest of society, we need have no illusions about who is receiving the blame. The ten years ahead may decide for the next forty whether gays claim their liberty and equality or are driven back, once again, as America's caste of detested untouchables. It s more than a quip: speak now or forever hold your peace.


Zoompad said...

Leopold Abse (22 April 1917 – 19 August 2008)[1] was a Welsh lawyer, politician and gay rights campaigner. He was a Welsh Labour Member of Parliament for nearly 30 years, and was noted for promoting private member's bills to decriminalise male homosexual relations and liberalise the divorce laws. Following his retirement from Parliament he wrote a number of books about politics based on his interest in psychoanalysis. In July 2008 he set-up a personal website to provide a summary of his life and work.

Leo Abse was one of the sons of Rudolf Abse, a Jewish solicitor and cinema owner who lived in Cardiff. One of Abse's grandfathers was from Poland, and the his grandmother from Germany. Abse's younger brother Dannie Abse is a well-known poet; their older brother Wilfred Abse (1915-2005) was an eminent psychoanalyst. Abse attended Howard Gardens High School in Cardiff and then the London School of Economics, where he studied law. Having joined the Labour Party in 1934, he clandestinely visited Spain during the closing months of the Spanish Civil War, in 1939.[2]

Leo was married 1955 to Marjorie Davies who died 1996. They had children Tobias and Bathsheba. He married second 2000 Ania Czepulkowska when he was 83 and she was 33. He left his £1.2m estate to Ania, and his will made no financial provision for his children and grandchildren

Zoompad said...

During the Second World War Abse served in the Royal Air Force. He was in Cairo in 1944 when some of the British military personnel stationed there set up a "Forces Parliament" in which they debated the structure of society they wanted to see in the post-war world. Abse's idealistic left-wing views were fully in tune with the majority opinion among the lower ranks at its meetings, but the existence of the "Parliament" disturbed the senior officers. When Abse moved a motion supporting nationalization of the Bank of England he was arrested and the Forces Parliament was forcibly dissolved.

After the end of the war Abse set up in practice as a solicitor in Cardiff. In 1951 he established his own law firm, Leo Abse & Cohen, which eventually grew to be the biggest in the city. He was also elected as Chairman of Cardiff Labour Party for two years from 1951, giving up the post when he was elected to Cardiff City Council. Abse fought the then-safe Conservative seat of Cardiff North in the 1955 general election, but was defeated.

Zoompad said...

Daniel Granville West, the Labour MP for Pontypool and, like Abse, a solicitor, was awarded one of the first life peerages in 1958. Unusually for a town in the South Wales valleys at that time, the National Union of Mineworkers was not in control of the nomination of West's successor as Labour candidate, since Pontypool was a centre of the railway industry. Abse won the candidacy and then won the seat at the by-election.

In the House of Commons Abse swiftly acquired a reputation for independence of spirit. He made a point of dressing flamboyantly on Budget day, and liked to drop references from Freudian psychotherapy into his speeches. Although his abilities might have taken him to high office, Abse remained a backbench MP. This factor, together with the fact that he had a safe seat, freed him from the restrictions that prevented most other MPs from taking up controversial subjects.

In 1963 Abse was selected in third place in the ballot for Private Member's Bills and introduced the Matrimonial Causes Bill, which simplified and made easier the legal process of divorce.

In 1957 the Wolfenden Report had recommended that the law be changed to legalise consenting male homosexual sex, but the government had taken no action. Abse began to promote a Bill to put Wolfenden's recommendations into law in February 1962. He kept pressing the issue and, after Humphry Berkeley (Conservative MP for Lancaster) lost his seat in the 1966 general election, Abse became the main sponsor for the legalisation. Although with the Labour landslide of 1966 there was a majority for the Bill, it was still vulnerable but Abse persuaded Roy Jenkins to give the measure government time, which eventually saw the Bill through onto the statute book.

Abse's views on homosexuality were strongly influenced by his knowledge of psychotherapy. He argued that an obsession with the question of punishment of homosexuals "has hitherto prompted us to avoid the real challenge of preventing little boys from growing up to be adult homosexuals. Surely, what we should be preoccupied with is the question of how we can, if it is possible, reduce the number of faulty males in the community".[citation needed] Abse put his arguments in this way partly to ensure that those MPs who were inclined to vote for the Bill did not feel they were endangering their masculinity but mostly because he had a view that "those who do not procreate are deprived or stunted" (the analysis of Antony Grey, who was leading the lobbying efforts of the Homosexual Law Reform Society and worked closely with him).[citation needed]

During the Six Day War in 1967 Abse made a passionate attack on those Labour MPs who had supported the Arab cause.[citation needed] In 1968 he was appointed to a Home Office advisory committee on the penal system. He was elected Chairman of the group of Welsh Labour MPs in 1971.

Zoompad said...

In 1973 Abse requested that the government ban the rock singer Alice Cooper and his group from performing in England, claiming that Alice was "peddling the culture of the concentration camp". Abse claimed: "Pop is one thing, anthems of necrophilia are quite another".[4]

Abse was chosen to be Chairman of a select committee on abortion from 1975 to 1977. His report advocated restrictions on abortion, including a lowering of the time limit within which abortion was legal from 28 weeks. He fought in the House of Commons for the enactment of his committee's recommendations, and continued the fight in 1980 when the Conservative MP John Corrie proposed a Bill along similar lines: Abse refused to compromise on a limit of 24 weeks.

Abse was an opponent of devolution when it was proposed in the late 1970s. He also proposed a separate referendum on whether the Shetland Islands ought to be part of a devolved Scotland. Abse was briefly Chairman of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee when it was first set up, but resigned in November 1981. One of the reasons why he opposed devolution was that he thought some in Wales, whom he called "fanatics", wanted to use it to promote the use of the Welsh language. He opposed in particular proposals for criminal juries comprising only Welsh speakers, and described Welsh-language television as an "expensive farce" and a "gravy train".[citation needed]

Abse added to his reputation for taking maverick stances by strongly urging that British forces be withdrawn from Northern Ireland. He opposed nuclear power and nuclear weapons, and criticised Margaret Thatcher for insisting that Argentina unconditionally surrender over the Falkland Islands. However, he supported British membership of the European Communities. His support for liberal divorce laws led him to propose a new 'child-centred' divorce reform in the early 1980s; the Bill was piloted by Martin Stevens, Conservative MP for Fulham.

Zoompad said...

Abse was elected for the renamed seat of Torfaen in 1983, but retired from Parliament in 1987. The first of the books he then wrote, Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice (1989), is a "psycho-biography" of Margaret Thatcher, taking its title from the observation that while Mrs Thatcher frequently referred to her father, she claimed not to have had anything to say to her mother from the age of 15.

In Wotan, My Enemy (1994) Abse took a psychoanalytic approach to explaining the origin of British hostility to Germany and the idea of the European Union. In The Man behind the Smile: Tony Blair and the Politics of Perversion (1996) Abse highlighted some of the aspects of Tony Blair's that were later to be cited by Blair's opponents on the left. A revised edition, Tony Blair: The Man who Lost His Smile (2003), was published in the United States). In this edition Abse took the opportunity to claim that he had paid off a blackmailer who had been targeting a fellow Welsh MP George Thomas (Speaker of the House of Commons from 1976 to 1983), on the basis of Thomas's (closeted) homosexuality.

Zoompad said...

Finally, in Fellatio, Masochism, Politics and Love (1997) Abse drew attention to the fact that fellatio had been unspoken of a generation before but had since come to be seen as an essential part of casual sexual relationships. He analysed the tendency for men to engage in risky behaviour by placing their trust in women whom they barely know and linked it to political developments. The book was published in the United States in 2000 shortly after the scandal of Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky had been revealed.

A bust of Abse was unveiled at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff on 22 October 2009. The sculpture was funded by the firm of solicitors he founded, Leo Abse and Cohen, and was made by Abse's second cousin, Luke Shepherd.[5]

Zoompad said...

Child Abuse? - by Ray Gosling
“I am fairly absolutely sure however pretty I could never ever (almost 100% certain) go off or even want to go off in any way with a lad of 12, or 13 – even if they wanted 14 no I think no 15 maybe 16/17 oh yeah if they wanted. (I have by the way been 100% monogamous for last 20 years – but he was 17/ he says 16 when I met him – and I’d be 50. But then he wanted me. He didn’t chase but in bed it was him more than me. Why – neither of us quite understand and he’s a heterosexual whatever one of those is because obviously he’s not with me. And know he doesn’t fuck me. Our sex which he instigates is me to play with him and me to do, me to suck etc. him and it’s becoming quite difficult at 70. But he’s beautifully well mannered in bed – after he’s cum he’ll make sure I cum and am satisfied.

And there’s no gang ups, no hold ups him holding back. Him stroking kissing me is a norm and easy peasy and I don’t think it’s easy holding stroking kissing a 70 year old man. I don’t ask him – he does it out of …??? – I don’t think it is sexual attraction I think it is love and out of that comes the sexual ability – because he knows I want it. If I can.

It’s a fact not only do older men fancy younger – how does the old Maurice Chevalier ballad go in English “Thank heaven for little girls – they get bigger every day. It’s a fact of life the older fancy the young - girls - and boys. Hello Mrs. Robinson. It is often a fact of life that the younger body will fancy – yes fancy sexually an older body chasing him or her. And yes going with them. Often the younger is the chaser, the enticer. We’ve seen this running gaymonitor loads and loads of times.

Gay Monitor is a website been going for ten years run by myself and the veteran gay rights campaigner Allan Horsfall a founder of CHE. (Campaign for Homosexual Equality). gaymonitor befriends and tries to keep some monitor on or with male gays caught up in police and court proceedings.

The most notorious incident would in the case of JASON AND THE VICAR. The Vicar was accused by this 30 something year old ex-lad of messing with him when he was 14 or / and 15. He stayed overnight at the vicarage and slept in the Vicar’s bed and was molested and masturbated off – that’s the allegation. Now – as is usual in these cases once one allegation is made the police and c.p.s. and child protection of social services go out trawling for any similar incidents involving other boys. So in this JASON case after Jason had made his accusations in open court – “what you did to me fucked up my life…I hope you rot in hell…” etc. a secondary witness was called – a young ex-lad by the prosecution to say he’d stayed over night at the vicarage and he’d been messed with too. Suddenly during the trial when the prosecution barrister asked the ex-lad “how did he mess with you.” The answer flabbergasted the jury – the answer. No. It were me – we were just having a playful run about the sofa and when he got close it was me as unzipped him and I put his cock in my mouth. No further questions. The defence did however have a further question. WHY ? The ex-lad replied. I don’t know. We all liked him – all the lads. I just thought he might like me touching his willy and I put it in my mouth. That’s all.

Zoompad said...

The defence called a host of other ex-choir boys, ex altar boys and lads club boys and some girls who’d stayed in the very big multi bedroomed vicarage Anglo Catholic overnight and nowt untoward had happened to them and they’d all loved the Vicar. They all knew the Vicar had a special closeness to Jason in that he came from a troubled broken family and was pretty and a very talented young boxer and boxing was one of the Vicar’s interests. But they never saw anything untoward between the Vicar and Jason – it was rather Jason asking more than the others could he stay sleep over and Jason had his own bedroom. The bachelor Vicar had admitted he ran an open house and his own door was never locked and Jason had often left his own sleepover bedroom and crept into bed with the Vicar for a cry and a cuddle in the middle of some nights. At the end of this trial the jury found the Vicar unanimously not guilty.

My childhood was 60 years ago and we had a rhyme as a child.
This’d be in the 1950s
“Tis only human nature afterall
To put a little girl beside a wall
To take down her protection
And push in your connection.
Tis only human nature after all.

Not that we did much of that in 1950s – some boys did but the general rule among us boys was that that sexual behaviour was fraught. Girls might try to trap you. There was no morning after pill then and contraceptives were in some infancy and difficult. Sex was between us boys – boys on your own wanking and boys wanking other boys. We did this underneath our classroom desks while class was on.
But sometimes the sex was letting a schoolmaster a scoutmaster or sometimes the clergy wank you off. We’d never see their willies. They’d never take your pants down – it was sitting in their lap and their hand up from your naked knee up your short trousered thigh and into your tackle and after you’d cum they’d say “there feel better now”. And we did. How they the masters or clergy got their sexual satisfaction one never knew – nor cared at the time. This was just a fair norm for a third of the boys in the school. How do I know ? Because I go back to the school and talk about these matters with friends in the old boys association – none of whom are gay but they know I am and in the rugby club bar late at night we’ll have schoolday reminiscences – did you not know so and so was at it. I was sure you knew. Sure he was having you. Knew. No I never knew I might say I’d have loved him too but he never and I never knew. Yeah my old mate’ll relate he was up my trouser leg all the time and he talked of you. Well it was never never and how I wished it had been. And sometimes drinking on, one of the old boys might follow me to the rugby club toilets and might say if we’re private in the stalls – Ray if you ever see me in Abington Street and I’m with the wife (because I’ve a new wife now) don’t ever bring this up. I know what you’re like Ray. Don’t. No I won’t and I don’t.

Zoompad said...

Now these matters I do not regard as any crime. No one got reported at the time. No one reported later. No one ever got done. No one snitched on. Homosexuality was - male homosexuality was completely against the law but went on in school, in the park, in the cinema – in everywhere and no one was done and the term child abuse didn’t exist. No one was hurt. Those who didn’t want didn’t do And even me who often liked it a lot would just as often remove a wandering hand from my thigh and say no and my no be respected. And no one was harmed. And no one complained The majority went on to marry and father children and be normal whatever that might mean. And now these years later in the rugby club among the old boys I’m the only known gay. I mean there were classmates who I suppose were swats or pansies and went on to be gay but they’re not the ilk to be seen in a rugby club. I am and everyone knows and no hostility no mocking limp wrist piss take has ever ever been shown to me. Quite the reverse. I was a hero then and I’m a hero now. And we were grammar school boys – sometimes a slightly sociological remark will pass up to a paragraph – “God if what happened then happened now. God what arrests there’d be and child protection….et al…” But then this was what boys did then mostly with boys but often an adult with a boy. We thought nothing of it – just did it. And it went on in secondary moderns too – my barber, Lee at Funky Crop Shop in Manchester who went to a sec mod in my town a generation later tells me oh him and the P.T. teacher cause he was fit – they were an affair - and boys with boys with him and his sec mod was a mixed school.

Zoompad said...

Child Abuse? - by Ray Gosling - continued/2
I been thinking these thoughts reading about the Belgian R.C. bishops
The Belgian police raided the bishops having a meeting in Brussells and locked them in – while other police went to their bishopric offices to go through their files for evidence of covering up CHILD ABUSE.
Clearly there is abuse. I’m aware because I go to conferences on these matters and other gay related matters. My “loose views” will be attacked particularly from Australians and particularly Australian women including lesbians there is real bitterness that priests abused boys and they want the perpetrators pursued a bit like dirty war criminals are in Argentina until the end of their lives.

I read about Milwaukee – there clearly is abuse – child abuse. In Milwaukee an R.C. priest – I think his name was Fr. Murphy and he ‘s dead now – he was headmaster of a school for the deaf and it is alleged he did abuse to hundreds. That’s not abuse That’s beyond abuse. He’d got a disease.
And I got thinking these thoughts reading lurid headlines in local papers
in Britain - ABUSE PERVERT PAEDOPHILE CHILD again as proceedings are taken and cases put together to take to courts all over the country.

Zoompad said...

Now our website has attended the last ten years scores of these sort of cases – in some we befriend the accused and in some just monitor.
And there are three litmus test questions we have always asked when cases come to us or we notice because we do both.

1. What is the sex ? What is the abuse ? And if it’s rape we walk away. Not equipped to deal with that. But very rarely will you learn of what exactly was the abuse not until the case unfolds.

2. What is the age of the person abused at the time – and if it’s 8 or 10 we will walk away. We’re not equipped. But remember “a child” can be quite old in English law – See the taxi driver story written in full on our website as DON’T TOUCH A THIGH.

You see in this story – in these events because they happened for real the taxi man – mini cab driver did regular mornings and one of the contract jobs – this is an ex-mining community on the eastern side of the North of England – he’d pick up this lad about 15 and drive him 20 miles or so to a special school because the lad had been disruptive: and had Terets syndrome which is no real big deal. Had a Manchester United goalkeeper only few years back with Terets. There you go. This lad went to a special school. He came from a family that were broken. His Dad had left. His Mum acquired a new step Dad to him as didn’t like him. The lad would sit with the taxi driver in the front seat and the driver who had a lisp was both gay and had had a brutal time in his own childhood. One day in the taxi on the way to the special school the lad broke down in his unhappiness and the driver said come on I had a bad time too and put his hand on the lad’s trousered thigh. That is all. And a bit of a cuddle at traffic lights – come on. Anyway the taxi driver was a regular evening boozer in the local Wetherspoons, sitting in the window often with own lover/ partner – same sort of age 40ish. And the lad on his bike would go in and try tap up Lispy Len for a cigarette or 50p. for chips. And sometimes Len would and sometimes not. One evening the step-Dad sees the lad with Lispy – who was a known gay – together in or outside smoking outside the pub. He – oh this is standard syndrome the step person over protecting the son or daughter they’ve got in the cuckoo’s nest from previous affairs.

Zoompad said...

The step Dad confronted the lad. What were you doing with him ? Has he ever touched you ? Yes once he gave me a cuddle – Right and step dad calls the police. Now do understand fellow citizens if you call the bill on an issue like this in the 21st century you’ve rung a multititude of bells: opened up a right can of worms. Lispy is charged – abuse of a minor because he was a carer. And a taxi driver is “a carer” and a carer can’t sex of any kind even touching a trousered thigh until the young person is well over 16 – with Terets the legal age of sex might be 25. Lispy loses his taxi license as at moment of being charged and his livelihood. Lispy gets in touch with us. I get him the best lawyer in town – which is mine when I’m in that town - Johnson Partners. I’m with the main man Digby but for this in an outlying district we get a good local girl – but nowt can be done to stop an inevitable progression – we go to magistrates court and none no J.P. will touch it. They never touch the cases. Often they have the power but but as soon as the magistrates hear of sex in the 21st. century – they send it up. So in the fullness of time we in the big city at Crown Court and the barrister’s off the train from London and we’re in court of a Monday 10. 45 and on time we start. Lispy Len stands but no jury yet. The barrister just off the train from London says to the judge – can I have an adjournment until 12 I want to make some phone calls. Oh – we got a grumpy elder judge. I don’t necessarily mind them. Oh I suppose so – be back for 12. Then I say what’s happening. The barrister smiles – just watch.

We file into court and Lispy into the dock. No jury. The barrister explains he has phoned the lad, the lad’s step father, the lad’s mother and the lad’s real father and none want a prosecution to proceed. All accept now nothing happened. Oh says Judge Grump – couldn’t this have been done earlier.

Zoompad said...

Apparently not. Oh – stand he calls Lispy – apparently you’ve done nothing wrong and you’re free to go. We have some mutterings in the corridor about compensation but in the time between charge and Crown Court Lispy has had a kind of stroke and isn’t yet fit to try for his taxi license back. His life been ruined by one paedie rumour. Not even a rumour – an implication of imagination by an interfering overprotective step Dad. Me and Lispy retire to a local pub and do much sighing.

So the age of the victim at the time is important and if under age normally we don’t touch the case.


Zoompad said...

Allan Horsfall was the founder of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. Ray Gosling a journalist of sorts whose relevant credits include the hour-long Bolton Seven documentary for Channel 4 and Sex with Boys for the New Statesman.

Over recent years Allan and Ray have been watching, befriending and remembering how things were - and are now. Some parts of gay life have improved and younger visitors to this site may find it hard to believe some of the instances of prejudice, bigotry and fear encountered by gay men and women in the not-too-distant past. For the sophisticated metropolitan there have been enormous advances, but for others life has coarsened and to an element worsened - and opportunities for some sort of friendship have decreased.

We are particularly concerned at the vulnerability of older men to false allegations, some of them historic having happened 20 or so years ago

Zoompad said...

We've watched, supported and sometimes advised men caught up in appalling prosecutions during recent and ongoing current times in Lancashire - but we're certain similar is going on all over the country and this website hopes to show the bigger picture.

Ray Gosling & Allan Horsfall

We are becoming increasingly worried at the way these allegations emerge, including the dreadful and highly questionable 'recovered memory syndrome'.
The involvement of powerful vested interests, dedicated for their careers' sakes, they nail a conviction that results in severe prison sentences. Even if the allegations were true it is in our view unjust and unnecessary - and ironically would not have happened 30 years ago in supposedly intolerant times.

Money Appeal

All the time we’ve been operating we’ve only had our own little bits of money Plus sometimes £20 or so for doing a talk to a Gay group - So we’ve not had a bank account.
But CHE have now given us £500 in a cheque. Ta.
And we’ve opened a bank account so we can now appeal for funds.

To monitor court cases has involved and does involve

Expense of travel plus the usual photocopying,
Website, letter writing etc.
We shall also be shortly appealing for help
To maintain and expand GAYMONITOR
In both Court Watching Work
And the Historical Archive part of GAY MONITOR.

Zoompad said...

This website is run by Allan Horsfall and Ray Gosling.

Ray has recently told on regional BBC TV of a lover long ago and his death from Aids. It was within a film about dying. And Ray got maybe a bit carried away in his empathy with others he'd interviewed who had told them of their terrible times with husband/wife/lover and Ray said words – and Ray is a story teller – but he said words that should have been qualified.

"Little did I know my short film for the BBC East Midlands where I have a close intimate relationship with viewers over many many films would become a big worldwide item. I have had hundreds of e-mails and letters of support, sympathy and “Oh you silly bugger”. Thank you. I have had conversations of sadness with members of the lad I loved's family and I have tried to protect his identity. I have nothing more to say on death. I AM writing a big book on sex - the loves I've had, the lads I've chased and not got and the lads with whom I have. In this book this incident will not feature or not much. I shall continue to protect as best I can the identity of the beautiful witty sexy young man I so loved and so loved me. And I shall now on this moment of a long life as best I can shut up."

Zoompad said...


June 2004

We've been to Doncaster to see HAAP – that's the Historical Abuse Appeals Panel who operate out of Jordans solicitors in Priory Place opposite the Doncaster main post office in town centre.

It was a very interesting and worthwhile visit. We were there to gee along a couple of cases that are on our befriend list: and also to talk generally of the situation.

HAAP , like us, have become conscious of the homophobia that runs through these cases at almost every stage - from police to jury. These cases mostly but not entirely involve the accusation that “x” years ago YOU (the accused) messed with me sexually when I was under-age. The “messing about” in all the cases in which we've been involved in, would be by our understanding of things, very minor – that's assuming it happened at all. Same has been the experience of HAAP. They confirmed our own findings and assessment of the situation. And that once an accusation's made it is difficult to halt a terrible process.

Zoompad said...

The accusation IS made maliciously – a malicious allegation by a younger person often with an eye to seizing some revenge: often for “a friendship” broken off by the accused (amazingly often for unreturned love from the accused to the accuser) and compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. These cases totally ruin “good” people.

Well HAAP reckon they now have over 200 cases like this where they and their solicitor/ barrister members are actively trying to pursue an appeal. This not easy. But they are cases where in their eyes and ears there should be grounds for appeal. But this is difficult. Appealing is difficult.

So there are 200 people in all probability innocent but locked up. The majority of them are gays – because when these allegations are made it is more likely they'll be proceeded to a prosecution if they're gay – male gay – though the CPS will never admit that, and what we know, we witness is that if a prosecution involves a male gay it's much more like to result in a conviction – it is more likely if the case is gay the prosecution will secure a conviction.

And if the prosecution involves a male gay and an under-age person, even if the events alleged happened years ago, the sentence will be much harsher on a homosexual. And because the person convicted and sent to prison continues to deny the offences happened, or happened when they did, or amounted to what was alleged – because they are “in denial” they can't or don't easily get parole.

They have lost job, home, and friends. Their lives are ruined. It's quite horrible.

Zoompad said...

Interestingly HAAP told us they are now getting some government funding for their legal appeal work. We mischievously maybe do wonder (and this is just Allan and Ray) if at some level in the Home Office/ Higher Judiciary there is now some dawning glimmer of realisations that these injustices are happening on a fairly regular level.

Sadly - like us HAAP see little immediate prospect of any law change through Parliament - the climate of opinion in these cases at public, media, jury, probation, NSPCC and the specialist police levels, and their advisers – it's all very fixed. We're stuck with it – unless / until we can build up a body of cases that all sure show something's wrong: or - and this is a new thought came from our Doncaster visit - get the judges to change the rules/interpret the rules in a more judicious way.

It seems today the ancient British legal concept that once every jury was told – that it can only convict if convinced beyond all reasonable doubt – that concept's gone out the window.

In these cases – in most courts. And an older gay on one of these charges will get it in the neck just for being gay. While everyone denies that is the case it is the case in our eyes and experience, and HAAP confirmed our worst fears.

Zoompad said...

BBC NEWS Wednesday, 17 February 2010

TV presenter Ray Gosling has been arrested on suspicion of murder by Nottinghamshire Police after he admitted killing his lover.

The 70-year-old's confession that he had smothered the unnamed man who was dying of Aids was broadcast on the BBC's Inside Out programme on Monday.

The Nottingham filmmaker said he had made a pact with his lover to act if his suffering increased.

Police are questioning the presenter over his claims.

A police spokesman said: "A 70-year-old Nottingham man was arrested earlier on suspicion of murder following comments made on the BBC's Inside Out programme on Monday evening."

He's in good spirits but these are very difficult times for Ray

Digby Johnson, solicitor
Mr Gosling has previously said he would not name his lover or say when the incident took place.

In the BBC East Midlands programme, broadcast on Monday, he told how he smothered the man with a pillow while he was in hospital after doctors told him that there was nothing further that could be done for him.

Mr Gosling did not name either his lover or the hospital.

Ray Gosling's solicitor, Digby Johnson, spoke outside Oxclose Lane Police station earlier.

'Very difficult times'

He said: "Ray has been at the police station for approaching five hours and investigations are at a very early stage.

"He's in good spirits but these are very difficult times for Ray.

"Everybody has been carefully respecting Ray's wishes and I request that you do the same."

Mr Gosling said he was aware of the possible consequences and had no regrets.

In the film, he said: "It's a terrible situation. I loved him to bits.

"We had a pact - he said if the pain gets bad and if nothing can be done, don't let him linger on.

"I don't think it's a crime."

He said: "I said to the doctor: 'Leave me… just for a bit,' and he went away.

"I picked up the pillow and smothered him until he was dead.

"The doctor came back and I said: 'He's gone.' Nothing more was ever said.

"When you love someone, it is difficult to see them suffer."

Assisted suicide remains a criminal offence, but interim guidelines issued in September by the director of public prosecutions set out the factors which weigh in favour of and against prosecution.

Zoompad said...

I am not "gay bashing". I am simply setting out the facts. Paedophiles have been using the "gay hate crime" card as a cover. The gay teens sites I have looked at appear to be run by paedophiles.

The argument that children need sex education from an early age is flawed. Children are having sex pushed down their throats all day, in the media, childrens programs full of vile double entendre, at school now with sex education that is flawed because it does not encourage love and loyalty to one partner. The children are being encouraged to sleep around and then people hold their hands up at all the teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted deseases. It's these same mad psuedo scientists who are causing all these problems, na lot of them are not really qualified properly at all, they appear to have some sort of credit system that gives points towards their qualifications for attending these bleeding conferences!