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Monday, November 3, 2008

*Warning* I'm about to talk politics and religion

I'm sorry. I really am. I know most of you will forgive me, but I may alienate some people. I don't like doing that--I really don't, but what's that quote by Martin Luther King Jr.? Our lives begin to end the day we stay silent about the things that really matter? Yeah. That.

One of the issues going on the California Ballot tomorrow is Proposition 8. Proposition 8 would make gay marriage illegal. Now, the thing here is that a similar ballot already passed in California--and the California Supreme Court overturned it.

I have no problem with them doing this.

I've been teaching the Declaration of Independence for the last week--Thomas Jefferson's original version vs. the one that the committee eventually passed. Did you know that big HONKING chunks of Jefferson's original work were cut out in the one that finally got ratified? Uh-huh. Including a paragraph and a half expounding on what a total shit the king was for instituting the evils of slavery to the new colonies. Mmm-hmm. Do we know WHY that section was ripped out, leaving slavery as a big fat canker sore bleeding our country for the next 88 years? Anyone? Mmmm-hmmm. Because the mob-rule of economics prevailed. More votes for keeping slavery in than for removing it, and so, well, an entire race was SCREWED, and racism is cheerfully propagated for the next 200+ years. My point?

The mob does not always know what is right.

Yup. You heard me. Democracy is checks and balances, and the reason we put people in the supreme court is because we assume (hope, pray, beg) that their devotion to reason and law will balance the complete proliferation of fuckheads who vote out of fear, bigotry, and the short-sighted devotion to all things the day before yesterday and no things five years from now.

It's a thin hope, but I think it was rewarded when they voted down the first law against gay marriage. The mob voted, reason prevailed.

Well, the mob is back. They are on every street corner waving signs funded by the religious right and screaming 'Honk if you want traditional family back!' (As a member of a traditional family, I'm wondering what makes these people think it ever went extinct. I'm also wondering what makes my family so much more interesting or valid than anybody else's family. I am reasonably certain that the kid in my class two years ago who was being raised by the two dads had a lot less dirt in his corners and dressed better than my children. Just sayin'.)

The signs are EVERYWHERE.

For a while I wondered, you know, why the YES signs were so much more prevalent than the NO signs, if the NO side was winning. Then my husband (who is a little more economically savvy than I am) explained that there was church funding in the YES corner. Well of course there was. And who is going to fund the NO side, really? I mean, it's not like gay couples have any more money than straight couples to go out, print up a shitload of signs that say YES I HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXIST, and then stand on street corners looking bewildered, beleaguered, and (well, I would be anyway) PISSED OFF!

So there you go. The mob again. Trying desperately to rule.

And for what? I mean, I've attended church with my English credentials intact--I've always said that many people's first crack at interpreting literature was church, where the pastor gives the scripture then the sermon based on whatever part of the scripture he damned well pleases. I've heard the one bit of scripture--one, mind you--where Jesus actually addresses homosexuality, and, uhm, I really wasn't impressed.

I mean, my pastor wasn't a great interpreter--at least the last guy wasn't. He was a very sweet man with a lot of faith but not a lot of imagination, and his sermons tended to boil down to, "So, what Jesus was saying was that he IS the savior. Jesus is the SAVIOR. JESUS is the savior." Uhhm...yeah. I listened to those scriptures with my thinking ears on, and there was more to it than that.

Jesus was in an absolutely shitty political position. He arrived, the people IN his camp wanted a warrior, the people OPPOSED to him wanted to prove he was a fraud, and Jesus--well, it appears he mostly wanted us to be decent to each other.

I've made my religious ambiguity fairly public. I've got a lot of different, radical, probably blasphemous ideas about religion, but if you check the holy book (if you don't have one on hand, I understand there are a lot of them in hotels. Because a lot of sacred things happen there, I don't know!) I think you'll find that Jesus was repeatedly being accosted with questions asking him to define the RULES OF RELIGION. As in, Hey, Jesus--what is the RULE OF RELIGION for prostitutes. His response was, well, the nice lady washing my feet with her hair deserves compassion and respect. They didn't particularly like that. And then there was, Hey, Jesus, what is the RULE OF RELIGION for someone who violates the Sabbath for healing. And jesus said, uhm, well, I just healed someone on the Sabbath, was that bad? And so on. The guy was repeatedly being asked to put the articles of his faith into a nice labeled box, complete with color coding and file markings--you know, X offense will get you so many years in hell, and Y offense will get you so many MORE years in hell, and if you complain, you'll never get out, and we'll take away the amenities.

The thing that was cool about Jesus was that his responses were pretty ambiguous, but they usually boiled down to the following basic concept:

TREAT YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEING WITH RESPECT AND COMPASSION AND YOU PRETTY MUCH CAN'T GO WRONG.

And, yeah. Again, I'm not exactly a poster girl for church and most churchgoers probably think I'm going to hell, but, uhm, I think that's why they crucified him.

The mob said, "We can not deal with someone who does not quantify good and evil. It scares us to decide how to be nice to somebody we don't understand. Compassion without some sort of extrinsic reward does not compute. KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL."

So, uhm, yeah.

I sat in my chair yesterday with the sliding glass door open, listening to the mob screaming and the horns honking in the rain. The noise was coming from over a mile away. It occurred to me:

These people, these 'Christian people' were the same people who would crucify Christ all over again.

They want their good and evil quantified. Christ made ONE (translated, out of context) remark about same-sex relationships being like blending fiber (while probably wearing blended fiber himself, mind you!) and the fearful, the 'put my good in one box and evil in the other' people, said, "Aha! That means it's evil!"

They ignored a crapload of Gospels in which the poor guy literally DIED to tell us that treating people with compassion and dignity was pretty much key to the whole shebang and said, "No, seriously, the key is, not shagging someone with my same genitalia."

Now these people screaming outside on the corner of Sunrise and Greenback in the rain are probably a mixed bunch. Some of them may be deeply moral, highly thoughtful people who have searched their souls for the answer and have decided to simply rely on the religious traditions they find comfort in to make their decision for them.

But you can bet your ass, some of them will come home, kick the dog, slap the wife, and eat an orphan's kitten for breakfast, then defend that particular lifestyle choice with, "Well, at least I'm not a faggot."

And it doesn't matter--because once they started screaming for blood, once they called upon their government to shit on human rights, they ceased to become individuals and became a mob, and just like the mob 2000 years ago they have forfeited compassion and human dignity in favor of prejudice, bigotry, and destruction.

And it's not like they SEE what damage they're doing. Odds are, if they feel that strongly about it, they don't have a big assortment of gay friends. (Okay, SOMEONE is coming out of the woodwork to prove me wrong on that one. If I can concede that it can happen, will you concede, "Okay, but not often?") And many of them probably don't have to stand in a classroom with an adolescent screaming things like "FUCKING FAGGOTS NEED JUST DO WHAT'S FUCKING RIGHT" and explain that hate speech is wrong and discrimination is illegal. I mean, if the government says it's okay to be a narrow minded bigot, why isn't it okay to scream hate-speech or beat up the poor skinny kid minding his own business who just LOOKS like he might be gay? Our students don't see the difference, and, well, if mom and dad devoted so much time for eliminating rights for these people, well, beating the shit out of them can't be such a bad thing. So for a lot of this mob, they get to scream for blood and shit all over the constitution and basic human rights and not see the wreckage they leave in their wake. They can just cast a vote and be smug that they have done their 'Christian' duty.

Uhm, yeah. Human race hasn't learned much in 2000 years, has it.

Holy Goddess, merciful God, forgive us, once again, for leading your innocent children to slaughter.

Amen.


(Okay, folks--next post will be favorite refrigerator magnet sayings or something light and definitely not political and not religious. Again, my apologies, especially if I have offended anyone-- Amy)

18 comments:

The Lady in Red said...

Yours was much more poetic than my post on the same topic.
I've got everything crossed that tomorrow, more of us show up at the polls than them. If this thing passes, there really is no reason to hope for humanity any more.

Galad said...

Arizona has the same proposition on our ballot. I'm with the lady in red on a great turnout from the compassionate and tolerant among us.

I find nothing offensive about advocating for respect for all people. Yell louder - maybe you will drown out some of the mob!

Danielle said...

Hi,
Coming out of the woodwork to make just a quick comment. :) One thing I've loved about you from the first time I met you is your passion for your beliefs and the fact that you've lived them in a way that is very real. What a noble quality--if only more of us lived our beliefs the way you live yours!

I wish I was still in your neck of the woods to talk about this with you in person. You know that I'm very "religious," though I hate the negative nuances of that word, and try to live my beliefs in a very real way, just like you do yours. To me, my faith means essentially what you said Christ said: to love God first, but then to love others.

I'll be voting yes on 8, and wanted to remind you that there really are a number of us "crazies" out there who are good people, who just see the world through a different set of glasses than you. :) My vote will be coming not from a hatred of homosexuals, but from a deep belief about what marriage means. I do have gay friends, though not many, but hey--I did read (and enjoyed and wonderfully reviewed!) your books, even though, yes, I have some morals that oppose some of the lifestyle choices of your characters.

I guess my hope is that people who believe as I do are voting out of that belief and not out of bigotry, just as I hope people who believe as you are voting out of their beliefs and not just as a reaction to tradition.

I'll slip quietly back into lurker status now. :) Thanks for letting someone with views so opposed to your own put in her two cents. :)

Amy Lane said...

Hiya, Danielle-- thank you for speaking up for the 'deeply moral, highly thoughtful' people--I meant that sincerely.

Samaya Young said...

Hi Amy,
Ah my first actual blog response, and to such a doozy to boot.

Very interesting topic... I'm still looking around for ideas to see what I'm gonna write about and political views are definitely going to the top of the list after reading your post.

First of all, I couldn't care less whether Gays want to get married or not. If that's what they want, have at it! Make it work and be happy... or not. To quote a marvelous line from a movie. "Heck, if they want to be miserable like the straight folks, that's their prerogative." or something along those lines, LOL.

I do agree about the mob not always being right. It's one of the disadvantage of a democracy I often think, since there will always be at least 49 percent of people who're miserable because of the course that is picked by the majority. Ergo, nobody's happy in the end.

On the other hand, historically speaking I do understand that marriage was not something necessarily designed for love, romance and all those wonderfully fuzzy feelings that we all connect to it. Basically it was a business deal designed for propagation and monetary gain... which later changed into the whole love thing.
So in light of that I can see why traditional folks are against it. Doesn't make it right, or wrong, just that I understand the idea behind it.
Tradition is what gets most people's hackles up, I'm thinking.

Personally I don't have much sentiment towards the whole marriage thing, so I'm probably not a good judge of the entire debate about it, lol.
I don't really see why I need some official piece of paper to say that I'm dedicated and loyal to my chosen partner, but to each his/her own. *shrug*

From what I understand is that the majority of the fuss is about the equal rights, so why not make some alteration in the law, or whatever, that allows people to get all the rights marriage offer without actually touching the "old" marriage adage. You can still celebrate the commitment, have a party, ceremony etc, and everyone's happy.

Which brings me to those who're opposed. OMG. Why care? It's a friggin' piece of paper, that in this day and age means scarily little for a lot of people.
How can the exchange of rings between two same sex partners stand for the downfall of standards and moral, 'cause let's face it, for that no one needs G/B/L the straights work at that just as hard.

Hmmm. I better not comment on the whole religion thing cause that'll keep us here for another, eh, year or so. LOL.
Had a blast reading your post, Amy. I'm looking forward to what comes next.

Eric said...

How fickle the mob of Rome.

They would run off a cliff to preserve traditional ideals like apartheid, separate but equal, arranged marriages, and social Darwinism. At the same time they want us to provide education, safety, health care, and freedom of expression. Progression and tradition are often balanced in this country, but it is only when one of them steps out of this liminal state that we see any sort of change happen (positive or negative).

The problem is that we idealize the past and we forget everything that was wrong with it. In doing so, we end up clinging to the vestiges of failed systems and institutions as time sees them whither to nothingness.

As Tevye sings in Fiddler on the Roof, "Tradition!"

TinkingBell said...

And so - really how come these so-called christian are absolutely obsessed about sex? You'd think there was nothing else happening in the world wouldn't you? No starvation to alleviate, no cruelty to stop, no kindness to spread, no life to live.

Nup, its all about the dick.

Dickheads.

Bells said...

Can you hear me applauding from all the way down here Amy?

Fabulous post.

Louiz said...

This isn't something we get to vote for here, but a bill was passed a few years ago allowing same sex "marriages" (it's not a marriage, it's a civil partnership, and only available to same sex couples) and it's up to different areas how and where they implement it (but they have to), which means that in Brighton, (slight exageration coming up) you can get married on the beach in full sunlight whenever it's convenient, or in London... but in Small Town Provincial, you can get your civil partnership performed by an undertaker, at midnight on Friday the 13th, and only then... (ok, it's not quite that bad... but close).

Since marriage for straight couples can be taken out of the hands of the religious, it only seems fair to have same sex couples have the same rights...

(divorced and an unmarried mother..., in case anyone is counting!)

Roxie said...

What tinkingbell said!

It's the legal rights of the partners that need support. Dependent and survivor benefits, next of kin decision-making rights, all the things that thoughtful grownups need to prepare for. In Oregon, a surviving spouse (hetrosexual) automatically inherits the property. A surviving spouse (homosexual) does not. The partners need to make specific legal arrangements to ensure that property in one partner's name does not automatically go to that partner's siblings or parents.

There is not so much love and mutual support in the world that we can afford to deny the validity of any of it.

Litchi said...

Well said, Amy!!

As a fellow teacher and someone who just happens to come from a country with it's own shameful history of bigotry and discrimination, my reaction to your post was visceral. What scares me, frustrates and angers me is how this kind of hatred (and fear, for that is what it surely is) is so easily and carelessly passed down from parents to children. They watch us and learn.
Perhaps, just sometimes, we do learn from our mistakes. South Africa's constitution is among the few to explicitly guarantee the rights of gays and in 2006 we were only the fifth country in the world to legalise gay marriages.

I'll be watching the outcome of the vote with huge interest- good luck!!!

ismarah said...

Fabulous post, and says it all about why democracy sometimes sucks.
Lets hope it doesn't today!

Incidentally, have you read the first Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey? Good stuff.

Bunny Queen said...

Kudos on a wonderful post! As one of those whose marriage might disappear today (at least in the legal sense), I can only agree with what your previous commentors have said. Folks, it's not about the sex or the love - I can get those without a piece of paper (and have for 10 years, thank you very much). It's about the over 1300 rights and responsibilities this country gives to *married* couples. And that doesn't even include things like the discount you get on insurance for being married. Many of us in MN are crossing all our crossable bits for Prop 8 to go down.

Julie said...

I lived in Hawaii the first time same-sex marriage went up on the ballot. It lost by less than 300 votes and it was revealed later that the Catholic Church and the Mormons spent something like six dollars PER PERSON in the state on anti-gay advertising.

Why?

I mean, if you're against gay marriage, don't marry someone the same gender. It's not like we're talking about holding guns to people's heads and MAKING THEM GET MARRIED. (Ditto for abortion, if you ask me. Don't like them? Don't have one. Problem solved.)

I've never, in over fifteen years of asking, EVER gotten a coherent answer on how/why gay marriage will 'undermine' or 'devalue' or otherwise affect my marriage in any way at all. I doubt I ever will, because, hey, I'm kinda smart and damn if I can think of one. (I strongly suspect a lot of the anti-marriage commercials are done by insurance companies not wanting to deal with more dependents. But I'm a cynic.)

And as I say to my gay friends - you guys should be allowed to get married and SUFFER WITH THE REST OF US!

NeedleTart said...

As a card carrying "Freak-o bohemian" (my sister-in-law's character reference for me) I can say "good post". I wish you had been on the playground with me when the fundamentalist (and don't get me started on them, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. All fundamentalists are nuts) in the group pulled me aside and asked, "Can I tell you something about your candidate? He wants to change the national anthem!" What was her source? "My sister sent me an e-mail." Grrrrr... Think for yourself much?
Yup. In Leviticus it says man should not lie with man as with woman. Then again, it says I'm supposed to beat my children if they dis me. And my husband can beat me and I should be stoned for wearing dresses that show my *gasp* elbows. Yeah. Let's make darn sure them (fill in the blank as you see fit) don't get the same rights as good (fill in the blank again), like us.
Anyone read "It Can't Happen Here"?

JenB said...

Well, I live in Texas, and hell will freeze over before gay marriage is legal here. Sad but true. I'm very much a Republican on most political issues, but not that one.

I was raised in a conservative Christian home and I still am very conservative (except in what I read), but I've always had a problem agreeing with the "gay is bad" parts.

So I guess that makes me either a bad Republican or a bad Christian...or both...but I can't find it in me to feel guilty about that, y'know?

Donna Lee said...

Oh my, I think you've stirred things up. I agree with you and have been waiting for it to come on the ballot her in NJ. We have "civil unions" but not marriage. Why do people care who others marry? If you want to marry your living room sofa and confer all benefits upon it, then so be it. Seriously, if all of those folks who are so concerned about others' lives would pay half as much attention to their own, they might be surprised to find out their own house needs some repair.....

ismarah said...

ah well. Speaking from the rest of the world, I think we all prefer this outcome, if we could only have one win. The other will surely and rightfully follow.