A Question Of Love

Because WordPress is a bee-yotch*, it will not allow me to embed the video, but I urge you to go and watch Keith Olbermann’s comment on Proposition 8.

I have had a love-hate relationship with K.O.’s show as of late, as the Special Comments became sometimes more than I could bear in terms of stridency, but this one should be watched and distributed as much as possible. The least I can do is quote the full text, without a jump:

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8.  And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble.  You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling.  With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.”

(*And seriously: I am considering moving back to Blogger because of this alone, and I loathe Blogger. Maybe Movable Type is in order or something.)

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Leaving The Sinking Ship In Style

There are few things as satisfying as watching a fucktard like David Frum get his ass handed to him by Rachel Maddow when he accuses her show of fomenting hate similar to the crap being spewed by the audience members at recent rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin. After you’ve watched the clip, consider the hackery necessary to make such accusations:

Frum, you’ll recall, is the one who penned the phrase “axis of evil”  for President George W. Bush a few years backfor his State of the Union address. After departing the cozy confines of 1600 Pennsylvania, he then funded smear campaigns against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when she visited Syria and decided to play amateur psychiatrist with former VP Al Gore when he criticized Bush’s foreign policy.

So you’ll have to pardon me if I find it laughable that this member of the GOP intelligentsia is joining the very slim ranks of those who aren’t pleased with the choice of Palin and saying it doesn’t look good for McCain because of it. This group includes columnist Kathleen Parker, NYT op-ed writer David Brooks, and author Christopher Buckley, who appears to have been booted/resigned from the column at the magazine his father founded for his trouble in saying he would vote for Barack Obama.

I’ve noticed something after reading for the past week or so, these admissions of concern — a lot of it revolves around Palin’s lack of intelligence or intellectual curiosity, perfectly valid points and worth questioning.  However, I have a question for Frum, Parker, Brooks and their ilk*: where the fuck were you the past eight years with the current occupant of the White House, if this was such a problem?

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Right, Like Too Many People Vote In This Country

I have a low opinion of ABC’s John Stossel to begin with — I don’t have a problem with holding libertarian political ideology (reliant on the myth of free-market perfection as it is), but there is a particular problem with misrepresenting people in news reports in advocacy journalism — particularly when it encourages really asinine things such as saying that people shouldn’t vote if they aren’t informed, like his report tonight on 20/20 is doing.

Now, we have a a habit of making fun of “low-information” voters all the time, but I’ll be damned if I ever suggest that people shouldn’t vote. The problem is that too few peopel vote in this country, and too few people vote with a complete grasp of the issues — but there’s no fucking way you solve that by telling people who can’t grasp every single nuance or some civics basics to stay home on Election Day. That’s advocating personal disenfranchisement in civic matters.

(If you have a well-thought out reason to not vote on principle, that’s different.)

Even better, there are claims by the organization HeadCount that Stossel misrepresented it and the rock fans he interviewed on some basic civics questions at the concert he went to — of course, Stossel went to a rock show, full of young people eligible to vote.

Next, we suggest Stossel go to retirement homes or run through the AARP rolls to suggest people are too old and senile to vote properly, if he’s going to stay on this line of thought.  I would appeal by saying that maybe schools ought to get some funding for the basic civics classes we used to have (or at least I did, anyway), but Stossel isn’t a big fan of government intervention.*  Or, rather than put out reports like this on a Friday newsmagazine, how about the media educate the public for once on some of the basics again?  Just a refresher course, some basic breakdowns of the big issues?

Wait. This would require actual work, someone who knew economics, had a bit of insight on foreign policy, and wasn’t just taking interviews from people who have a dog in the fight as gospel. That isn’t a slam at Stossel so much as the media as a whole: political journalism right now resembles a series of press release journalism, with both sides getting their say in and the media not really caring to divine which one is the truth (or closer to it) in the interest of fairness.

Also, John, that sweater is horrific. I hope you plan to burn it or have already done so.

(*It seems like the people least likely to have unforeseen economic or natural disaster-type events affect their daily lives are always the ones saying that government isn’t necessary.)

Navel-Gazing At A Bad Time

I’ve spent about two to three days trying to figure out how to articulate this properly without coming off as dismissive of the late Tim Russert of NBC News: looking at his resume and reading obits (and even writing some off info for a newscast) has been a fascinating look at his career, and despite personal quibbles about certain aspects of his work, he still appeared to give a shit about his job and cared to do the work, often appearing on TV six or seven days a week while serving as NBC’s Washington bureau chief.  There’s a ton that has to go into that, and I respect that. May you rest in peace, Mr. Russert.

But there is a such a thing is overkill, and I have the feeling that NBC crossed a line, starting with Tom Brokaw’s announcement of the news on Friday afternoon, both MSNBC and the NBC news programs that aired on the broadcast network (Nightly News and Dateline) were both completely dedicated to Russert, as if nothing else had happened during the day that ought to get in the way of mourning a respected journalist, colleague, and friend.

The problem is that there was, and still is something that supersedes Russert’s unfortunate passing — damn near an entire state is underwater.  Not that they haven’t been covering it before and didn’t cover it afterwards, but just look at the pictures from the Des Moines Register and tell me dedicating all your news programming to one man is the right editorial decision to make.

Maybe it’s because I went to college in Iowa, not too far from some of the really flooded areas (thankfully, the campus and everyone around it is only suffering from the storms and flooded basements), but NBC’s decision seems awfully short-sighted and myopic. There is a reason people express such dissatisfaction with the media on a regular basis, and I can’t help but believe that decisions like this are why people are turning their TVs off, claiming those of us in the industry are out of touch.

Everyone’s A Pundit, Even If They Shouldn’t Be

There’s a particularly annoying development I’ve noticed in the past few months or so when it comes to cable news. Unfortunately, I watch a LOT of it. It’s part and parcel of what I need to know for my day job, and usually, Headline News does the trick in an hour because they don’t dwell on a story for so long that they forget to mention anything else interesting that might be happening. One hour on Headline News and I’m set with the basics of what might be on my station’s video service when I get to work at 2:45 in the afternoon.

(SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Exposure to Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace is detrimental to your health when ingested via cathode ray or plasma on a regular basis. Avoid Headline News in the early afternoons or evenings.)

The fellow in the picture to your right is Mike Galanos. He hosts Prime News starting at 1 PM Pacific or so, and I wouldn’t really care about who he is or whatnot except for the fact that he seems to be the most aggressive example of something I despise: newsreaders/anchors making editorial and opinion judgments on air when they read the news.

Example: today, a Texas appeals court ruled that the state’s Child Welfare Services erred in taking children from their mothers during the raid on a polygamist compound about a month ago. Galanos starts ranting and raving, wondering how the court could do such a thing, when the actual story makes its decision perfectly clear: the department had no evidence that the children were in any immediate danger. This makes no difference to Galanos — he’s perfectly content to ramble to the local reporter, asking, “How could the judges do this to these children?” (In no way am I defending child marriage/statutory rape, for some reason I feel compelled to point this out.)

After hearing this display of Lou Dobbs-style indignation at judges possibly knowing the law better than he does, I looked up Galanos’ bio — he’s a former sports guy, no wonder he’s used to rushing to judgment no matter what actual findings might interrupt it.  It’s like every straight news anchor is now an opinionated asshole, and we simply must hear it. It’s crossed over from the anonymous line-up of women in the A.M. on MSNBC to those on CNN Original as well. I wouldn’t tolerate it from an anchor I worked with and I don’t know why producers at networks don’t put a lid on this.

You get paid to read the news, not let us know what you think of it. Shut up and read the prompter. Whether you think the judges are right or wrong is irrelevant — they’ve got law degrees, robes, and decades of experience — and I don’t tune in to watch a pundit opine. Read the damn headlines, please.

When Sports Get Knocked Off The Air.

Right now, a serious wildfire is threatening to burn all of Malibu — it’s already burned Castle Kasdan, and Pepperdine University’s been evacuated. What this means is that Los Angeles-area folk aren’t getting an NFL game on CBS (at least LA Observed says that all local stations save Fox are on the fire) and the NASCAR race on ABC has also been pre-empted for breaking news coverage.

UPDATE: CBS affiliate is showing Chiefs-Raiders; they knocked the fire coverage over to KCAL, which they also own.

This isn’t sitting particularly well with the few commenters on a thread about this topic as it pertains to the NASCAR race over at the FanHouse:

2. I guess I should not be surprised that we West coast fans are getting screwed by ABC/ESPN. FOX is currently showing the NFL game. I guess they figure that the ten other channels covering the fire are adequate for those who want to watch non-stop coverage of Malibu burning. I have sent my email complaint to ESPN. I hope everyone else affected by this will do the same. Not that they care!

7. ABC really sucks by showing the fire coverage and not the NASCAR race…who cares if Malibu is burning upl…it happens every year

9. Remind me to erase ch.7 from my remote and remove all their sponsors as well

Author “Tallglassofmilk” gets it right: this is on ESPN to have a contingency plan for these sorts of things, but sometimes you get screwed. However, the commenters are, as usual for most of the AOL FanHouse crowd, short-sighted. Just because every other channel is showing fire coverage doesn’t mean you should be able to see the sporting event when it comes on.

If any of the local broadcast channels with serious news departments don’t show the fire coverage as it threatens to destroy a prominent community and provide evacuation information, they’re not doing their job, plain and simple. L.A. viewers will probably not be able to watch Sunday Night Football, either, as I suspect KNBC will be holding down the fort on this for most of the evening.

(UPDATE #2: The Sunday nighter between the Steelers-Broncos went off without a hitch on L.A.’s NBC station — I was told they axed the pre-game.)

Despite the cracks we make about corporate-owned media and the truths behind it, local news stations who don’t dump sports for a major fire like this when it happens and threatens homes and businesses (never mind a university) aren’t serving the public interest, so get over your game being pre-empted.

Exhibit #2,732 That Journalism Is Going Down The Tubes.

I had a Michael Vick extended piece that WordPress ate when I published it, and don’t feel like re-writing again, especially when D-Wil seems to say it better than I can right now. I’m just going to point out this semi-related bit of proof that I could do the job of some network news producers better than they could. Thank you, Gawker:

“The case against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has exposed a split within both the NAACP and the larger African-American community, as some activists condemn Vick’s role in the deaths of fighting dogs and others cast him as a victim of a racist justice system,” an MSNBC article revealed yesterday. Who are some of the dog-murdering quarterback’s defenders? Well, you’d expect Al Sharpton to step up, right?

Guess MSNBC doesn’t have much of a parody filter, as they linked to NewsGropers, which goes out of its way to note that it is completely fake (as if the strange bedfellows that “Al Sharpton” was blogging with weren’t a dead giveaway). From the MSNBC piece, before they issued a correction:

But at the same time, Sharpton argued that the prosecution of Vick was overkill.

If the police caught Brett Favre (a white quarterback for the Green Bay Packers) running a dolphin-fighting unit out of his pool, where dolphins with spears attached to their foreheads fought each other, would they bust him? Of course not,” Sharpton wrote Tuesday on his personal blog.

The correction reads:

An earlier version of this article quoted from a blog entry purportedly by the Rev. Al Sharpton. MSNBC.com has determined that the blog is a hoax. In July, Sharpton signed a letter with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals condemning dogfighting, saying: “Dogfighting is unacceptable. Hurting animals for human pleasure or gain is despicable. Cruelty is just plain wrong.”

Oops. Shall we be sending Alex Johnson (or the writers/interns who compiled the article, if it wasn’t her) a copy of Ufford’s FanHouse post about how to read and attribute blogs properly?