J. Jonah Jameson, ‘ex-gay’ therapy scams, and biblical illiteracy

This is good news:

The fight against “ex-gay” conversion therapy continued in New Jersey today, where former patients of a group that promised to convert people from gay to straight filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Four young men and two of their parents filed the lawsuit against the founder of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), Arthur Goldberg, and a counselor for the group, Alan Downing, alleging that the group violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by claiming that they could “cure” gay people of their homosexuality.

Happy to hear about the lawsuit. Confounded to learn about the name of this group: “JONAH.”

What on earth are these people thinking? Have they never read the book of Jonah?

Just in case you couldn’t figure out that Peter Parker’s boss at The Daily Bugle is the bad guy, look at his mustache. And if that’s too subtle, consider that he was named “Jonah.”

Here’s a link to the entire book of Jonah.

That’s it — 48 verses in total. That’s the whole book. You can read the whole thing in 15 minutes, tops.

And if you do read the book of Jonah, here’s what you’ll notice: Jonah is the Bad Guy. He’s always wrong. He is, unfailingly, a jerk. He is the butt of every joke because he deserves to be. Jonah is an object of ridicule and withering scorn. His story comes to a miserable end because he did everything he could do to earn such an ending.

This isn’t subtle — it’s the whole point of the story and it’s reinforced at every point in the story.

And yet, people like these folks in Jersey continue to name things after Jonah as though he’s some kind of biblical hero. People continue to name their children after Jonah. What is the thinking there? “We were going to name him Daniel, but then we decided we really didn’t like our son very much, so we went with Jonah.”

Stan Lee seems like he actually read and understood the book of Jonah. When Lee used the name Jonah — for J. Jonah Jameson — it was because he wanted you to know that this was a character you weren’t supposed to like.

There’s a long list of names that you just shouldn’t use for sympathetic characters: Ahab, Jezebel, Humbert, Brutus, Iago, Vlad, Moriarty, Cruella … and Jonah.

Those are also all names to avoid if you’re starting some kind of religious charity scam.

The hucksters leeching money by fostering and then offering to “treat” discontent with sexuality identity knew enough not to name their operation “AHAB” (Alternative Healing for Any Body) or “MANASSEH” (Making Anyone New And Sexually Super by Extreme Healing), because they’d presumably read the scriptures and realized that Ahab and Manasseh are held up as icons of evil. But the scriptures also present Jonah as an icon — not so much of evil as of a petty, sour, resentful and pompous foolishness.

That probably makes “JONAH” an appropriate name for this New Jersey clinic, but you’d think they wouldn’t want to brag about that.


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  • Runic

    I think Fred is spot on with his description of JJJ.  He describes Johah as  “not so much of evil as of a petty, sour, resentful and pompous foolishness.”  I think that fits J. Jonah Jamison pretty well.

  • vsm

    Here’s a collection of some quotes from the book. At the very least I think it’s obvious Rita Skeeter is implying Dumbledore’s gay, and the way he himself speaks about Grindelwald is not dissimilar to how one might reminisce about the first love that got away and became a Nazi.

  • I question the latter, because famous male teams in fiction have long been the subject of speculation about homosexuality, like Holmes and Watson, and going back to Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

    Don’t forget Batman and Robin. I don’t know much about the detectives, but the Gilgamesh and Enkidu were gay interpretation is fairly common. I couldn’t really say for sure that most people who know about the original work would never imagine that.

  • vsm

    Well they obviously weren’t lovers when they were fighting against each other, but there was that time they were teenage boys planning to take over the world together and got along swimmingly. Incidentally, Rowling thinks Dumbledore’s feelings were unrequited and they were never lovers, but I’m pretty sure she’s wrong.

  • Well it’s a little less abrupt than that. Vlad had been doubting the worthiness of his life in the Jhereg a while already, especially with his wife’s growing disapproval now that she was out of the work, but while he could guess what Noish-pa would say he really needed to sit down and hear it directly to lend credence to his own doubts and act on them. His grandfather had never said a word against it before this, after all, just let him go his own way.

  • The vibe I got from Doge’s eulogy was that it was rather gushy, and in retrospect to JKR’s statement, suggests an unrequited crush.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If I see a couple having a row in public, I tend to assume that the relationship or marriage is unsteady at best.

    Which doesn’t actually mean they’re not madly in love and/or lust. Nor does it mean they are, of course. It just means they’re fighting.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    And even JJJ had his Damascus moment. Well, Ultimate Jonah, anyway.

    I guess the JONAH folks are still waiting for THEIR flood to come.

  •  That’s more or less how I read it: Dumbledore was attracted to Grindlewald, even crushing on him, but my impression is that he didn’t even fully comprehend the nature of what he was feeling before they had their falling out.

    I have no position on what Grindlewald actually felt, since we see so little of him. We only ever see him as a long-defeated old man, but my gut instinct is to picture him in his youth as being charismatic in the way sociopaths often are, which would point toward him not being the sort of person capable of the usual sort of affection for anyone else. But for some reason, I’m inclined to imagine that that one line from Rita Skeeter’s biography of Dumbledore is based on something true, and that Grindlewald threw the duel on purpose, which points maybe to there being some reciprocation there after all.

  • I have to tell you that the moment conflict and bitterness enter the picture, I generally head for the hills.  The only exception to this rule was my marriage and I know now that not heading for the hills was the wrong decision.

  • Amaryllis

     I wouldn’t be at all surprised that Brust chose the name “Vlad” because
    of the sinister connotations, at least to his target market of

    I suppose you’re right. And for that matter, I believe “Taltos” has some fairly sinister or at least uncanny connotations in Hungarian. It would have been more accurate to say that Brust gave a scary name to a scary guy, and made me like him anyway.

  • Steve Morrison

     I’d dislike being named “Cato” because of Cato the Elder. At least, I don’t think Carthage needed to be destroyed.

  • LoneWolf343

     Having played a few rounds of Civ V, I can tell you that Carthage most certainly needed to be destroyed. Demanding assholes…

  • If Stan read the Book of Jonah and understood it, I guess the same can’t be said for John Albano and Tony DeZuniga, who created a certain scarfaced bounty hunter who is sympathetic:  Jonah Hex.

    Of course, the sad part is that most people only know Hex – if they know him at all – from the movie, which…well, I can’t really argue against Fred’s point when it comes to that.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

      I don’t know much about the detectives, but the Gilgamesh and Enkidu were gay interpretation is fairly common.

    If I remember it correctly, that at least part of the reason the gods made Enkidu was to distract Gilgamesh from sleeping with every woman around, so ‘gay’ probably isn’t the right word.  :D

  • hagsrus

    “… also the animals wore sackcloth & ashes …”

    “For this you die!” (recurring LOLcats caption for dressed-up moggies)

  • SisterCoyote

    I forget where I’ve heard this, but have you ever heard it said that the closer a couple is in the relationship, the more bitter they’ll be after it falls apart? I don’t buy it, myself, but I’d say it’s definitely true of Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

  • vsm

    Something like that. There isn’t really enough material to determine what their relationship was like when they were young, but I think Grindelwald liked him  back in some way. He did spend his last moments defying and hindering the man who killed Dumbledore.

  • I mean, I can see why, between The Cato Institute and the Hunger Games, I would think twice about someone who named their kid “Cato”, but Brutus or Cassius seems like a perfectly, er, honorable name to me. More honorable than something like Octavian, anyway.

    They could be naming him after Cato Sicarius.

  • Turcano

    I’m sorry, but the last time I checked, being motivated entirely by spite, as Jonah was, does not make a person a “screw-up.”  It makes them an asshole.

  • Freak

    Jezebel in Asimov’s Robot novels is sympathetic.

  • Michael Pullmann

     Peter David did a story in X-Factor where Jonah Jameson, as mayor of New York, addresses a stand-in for the “Ground Zero Mosque” protestors. I’d have to look up the issue at home, but as I recall, he wasn’t very sympathetic.

  • 10leggedshadow

     The opposite of love is not hate or anger, it’s indifference.

  • Lori

    If I see a couple having a row in public, I tend to assume that the relationship or marriage is unsteady at best.   

    That’s a huge assumption to make about people you don’t know. Having a fight in public can be a sign that the couple’s relationship is on the rocks, but it can also be just the way their dynamic works. It can also mean that a very stable couple who don’t normally fight in public is simply having a very bad day or dealing with a really tough thing that makes them behave differently than they normally would.

    With very few exceptions observation of one behavior or one moment doesn’t tell you much, if anything, about whether a relationship is working or not.

  • I think if your exboyfriend becomes a megalomaniacal supervillain and you don’t, it’s OK to have a little acrimony. It’s not like you guys broke up because he was a Cubs fan.

  • I only know J. Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man cartoon, but I recall that he was a very likable character. He was an asshole to the Spider-Man, but he was pretty decent and honorable beyond that. There were a couple of episodes where he does actual investigate reporting and (anonymously) helps people out financially. I never really got the impression that he was supposed to be  a villain; a little antagonistic, maybe, but not evil.

  • Tricksterson

    AFAICT that’s exactly how they imagine things.  It’s all part of the vast, centuries old homosexual conspiracy, which in turn is a branch of the Satanist Conspiracy.  No, I’m not joking, I wish I was.

  • Tricksterson

    I know I got a subtext throughout the series, mild through most of it but real heavy in the last book.

  • Tricksterson

    “His relationship with Grindelwald had too much conflict and bitterness to suggest an affair.” 

    Really?  To me that’s exactly what conflict and bitterness suggest.

  • Carstonio

    Valid point. I should have added that I don’t like my tendency to make that assumption. I wouldn’t understand most other couples’ relationships and it’s not really my business to do so. I just know that I don’t feel loved when someone else is angry at me – I feel afraid instead. 10leggedshadow’s point about indifference implies that emotions are on two axes, one of positivity and negativity and the other of intensity, whereas indifference seems to me to be in the middle on a single axis.

  • Carstonio

     One reason I never took to Spider-Man was because Jameson made life so difficult for both of Parker’s identities. As an employer he was impossible to please. And while he sometimes worked with villains against Spider-Man, his motive was just unreasoning hatred instead of a desire for power or wealth. I wondered if that situation would grind Parker’s soul to dust over time.

  • Beroli

     Like…pretty much all superhero comic characters…he’s all over the map, depending on who’s writing him at the moment, veering from extremes of “he’s a thoroughly hateful person who is only not an actual supervillain because he lacks the powers” to, “he’s a great fellow, except that he keeps wanting to paint Spiderman as a villain.”

  • On occasion, he’s an actual supervillain. Cf spider-slayer.
    He’s also created several… cf. scorpion.
    This is original chronology, back in the 80s. No idea what’s true today.

  • arcseconds

     I read something recently about Batman and Robin in a cultural studies book, which stuck in my head.  It pointed out that gay readers since the 50s have interpreted the relationship as gay.

    The point seemed to be to forget about what Batman and Robin’s relationship is ‘really’ like, or how it was intended by the writers, but to focus on how the readers, or particular groups of readers, read it.

  • Fair enough. I never really got into any of the comics or the movies, so I was surprised when I read this blog post since it never even occurred to me that Jameson was ever a bad person except for that one blind spot. He came across to me like Peter Parker’s gruff but loving father figure, who talked tough but really cared about everyone else — kind of like McGonagall from the Harry Potter books, for example. 

    I honestly didn’t even know that there were vastly different portrayals of him (where he is actually evil) in other media until now.

  • TBH he’s kind of a dick to Peter in the movies, and regularly low-balls Peter for photographs. There’s a scene where the payroll person apologetically tells Peter that JJJ authorized an advance on the paycheck he was supposed to collect, and that he couldn’t get one for that reason on this occasion.

    Given the number of exclusive pictures JJJ was getting from Peter for photographing his own Spider-Man stunts, you’d think Peter would be paid a lot more for his work.


    It’s also interesting how the 1960s Spider-Man differs from the 2000s Spider-Man. As I recall in the 1960s, Peter Parker had a more steady income from the Daily Bugle, but in the movies, he barely makes ends meet as a totally freelance photographer.

    It’s telling how our media and our fictional stories “unconsciously” reflect social shifts over time.

  • stardreamer42

     Hey, warn for TVTropes next time! That’s an hour I’ll never get back…  :-)

  • stardreamer42

     And for some people, it appears that “passion is passion” — that’s the basis of the love/hate relationship, which is a standard literary trope. I don’t get it either, any more than I get the pain/arousal connection, but I can’t deny that some people are indeed wired that way.

  • vsm

    I’ve always wanted to have a passionate love/hate relationship with someone, but the closest I’ve gotten is lukewarm dislike. Since the chances of someone with my skillset being forced to work with their sexy diametric opposite to save the world are slim, I doubt I’ll ever get to experience that joy.

  • David Starner

    I always love Jezebel’s exit scene in the Bible: 30 And
    when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her
    face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.
    31 And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?

    In my reading, yes, you’re going to kill me, but I’m going out on my terms. To a different audience maybe Jehu looks good, but he comes off as so brutal and crude.

  • I think there should be an Ex-Gay group called the Brotherhood United to Get Gays Efficiently  Repaired, Yessiree.

  • rikalous

     Thing is, Jonah Hex is very much an anti-hero, and he’s coded as villainous in several ways. The facial scar, the Confederate uniform, and the surname Hex all scream “bad guy,” and his given name might (or might not, I really have no idea) be more of the same.

    Alternatively, Jonah and Hex might both be cues that terrible things happen to this guy, tying in with the sailors’ term mentioned early on.

  • The truly sad thing about this is that JONAH’s Goldberg isn’t just a fraudster, but a convicted fraudster.

  • Incidentally, the Brotherhood United to Get Gays Efficiently Repaired, Yessiree would of course have a women’s auxiliary, known as “Women Who Like B.U.G.G.E.R.Y”, and a youth outreach group calling REACHing At Risk Or Underperforming Neophyte Dandies.

  •  Yes, and Christian theology about the book (and character) of Jonah is somewhat off topic (not that that ever stopped a Slacktivist discussion), given that this is a Jewish organisation.


  • I think the topic explicitly is: in the book of Jomah is he a villian? I say “no”

  • Tricksterson

    I would say he’s an anti-hero in the “basically a loser” sense.

  • He’s someone dearly loved of God. God moves toward him persistently and redemptively and that is the kind of person I wouldn’t mind being named after.

  • newenglandsun

    Here’s a good one I thought up running this morning.
    Bisexuals emptying lustful intimacies and lewdness
    acronym – BELIAL (Hebrew for worthlessness and later personified into a demon)