5 Stories You Might Have Missed: Gay Cures, Oily Penguins, Random Craziness

Mar 25, 2011
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

Someone sidles up and says, “Did you hear about the iPhone app that cures homosexuality?”

“That’s funny,” you say, even though you suspect this joke will not be particularly humorous.

The setup is just too absurd. After all, last year’s massive It Gets Better campaign included a message of encouragement to marginalized gay youth from the President of the United States! More and more states are recognizing same-sex civil unions, and a few are flirting with embracing gay marriage. C’mon, it’s been nearly 30 years since the American Psychiatric Association stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental illness.

“What’s the punch line?” you ask.

The punch line is that until March 23, Apple’s iTunes store was selling an iPhone app from Exodus International that promoted “curing” gay people.

Exodus prides itself on being an international Christian ministry “helping those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction to live a life congruent with biblical teaching.”

The “gay-cure” app provided links to Exodus’s videos and podcasts, to its Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Gary Remafedi, a University of Minnesota researcher who says Exodus International perversely twisted and appropriated his data, asked Apple early in the week to delete Exodus International's app. Apple immediately complied, waiting only until Change.org presented a petition signed by more than 150,000 incurables.

But you know what’s really crazy? Remember Jared Lee Loughner? He’s the vaguely creepy guy identified by scores of witnesses as the gunman who killed six unarmed people outside an Arizona grocery store back in January, and wounded 13 others, including United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Here’s what’s even more nuts: U.S. District Judge Larry Burns has ordered Loughner to undergo a series of psychiatric evaluations to see if he is crazy.

As long as Judge Burns is testing the obvious, why not order a set of experiments to determine what percentage of the 2,405 (and counting) Americans shot to death in the months since Loughner’s rampage would still be alive if one or more bullets had not pierced their anatomies?

Rockhopper penguins live far, far away from the insanity of civilization on remote Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic's Tristan da Cunha Archipelago. But penguin equanimity went all haywire on March 16. The MS Oliva ran aground in the rockhoppers’ front yard and split in two, spilling 1,600 tons of heavy fuel oil into the penguins’ recreation area. An estimated 20,000 hoppers have been coated with a slick of toxic sludge. What are the chances of such a grounding? Very remote—almost as remote as the penguin’s habitat.

The penguins will probably not all die, so long as the birds are treated in a timely manner with a special cleanser. But what are the chances that supplies needed to clean and feed the penguins are on-hand? And the chances that the penguins will not starve while waiting in sheds for a rescue ship from South Africa? Those chances are beyond very remote.

At least there is still weed and sex—and a lot of both, evidently. A study conducted by See Change LLC, a Colorado investment advice company, claims that medical marijuana’s annual sales of $1.7 billion rival the $1.9 billion spent every year on Viagra. Both medications are ideal for making the insane plight of the rockhopper penguins seem very, very remote.

And in news you'll be glad we all missed, the Westboro Baptist Church failed to gain media coverage for picketing pioneering AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral. The legendary Oscar winner died Wednesday at age 79, and the Westboro faithful (ye shall know them by their God Hates Fags signs) promptly announced they would demonstrate at her funeral.

Dame Liz’s memorial was held at Glendale, California’s Forest Lawn on Thursday. Although the service began 15 minutes late, per Taylor’s request, the speedy and private ceremony closed the window on Westboro’s opportunity to embarrass the First Amendment. They didn't even have time to Crayon up new signs.

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