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Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.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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God Only Knows How Offended He Is By PDA

The man pictured here is Dr. Leon Kass, a bioethicist and the man President Bush appointed to head the President’s Council of Bioethics.  He and several others penned a questionable series of essays regarding the concept of human dignity in bioethics (when informed consent about experiments has worked so well over the decades post-World War II, something has to be wrong with it, of course), and it tends to be religious dogma inserting itself into aspects of science where it has no place. But what to expect, when the man apparently finds it beneath human dignity to lick an ice cream cone?

Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone–a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. … Eating on the street–even when undertaken, say, because one is between appointments and has no other time to eat–displays [a] lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly. … Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. … This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if we feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior.

God, it reads like the bad American conception of a fatwa.  I wonder if Dr. Kass requires security detail to escort him around while his eyes are blinded to the disgusting human behavior on display in public every single day (perhaps in a burqa), or maybe he is hermetically sealed, but that picture has to be from some form of public appearance. Do they keep him in a Popemobile, shielded from the germs, or does he get his very own bubble?

These are the people in charge of our lives, and the ones who advise our elected officials on the important issues of our times.

I think someone just didn’t get to chase the ice cream truck as a kid and is taking it out on the rest of us.

The Stupidity of Dignity [The New Republic]

just another American family.

Sports coverage outside of the NY/NJ area in the New York Times is actually interesting to me — they have writers who find interesting and compelling human interest stories about athletes and their families, and UNLV forward Joe Darger’s is no different.

Darger gets about six points a night in a little more than 13 minutes of action, but the NYT’s fascination with him has more to do with his unorthodox family — his father is a practicing polygamist, and the total number of kids is 19 — and how they follow him around in games. (The article’s tone is good — I’m not a polygamy fan, but I think non-condemnation’s a good way to go here.)

His story is interesting for the way we handle stories outside the accepted or common Judeo-Christian norms; Mormonism is one of the last few religious practices with a history banded about as “weird” in America (Islam is another; Buddhism has always seemed more of a philosophy to Americans.) Most of the stories we get about the old polygamist practices are about the ugly fallout — see Warren Jeffs for the latest example — but Darger’s sounds highly all-American and pretty consistent with a strong, religious background, except for that one “deviant” aspect (it is worth noting that his father said he and his wives don’t force their life choices on the kids.)

Darger’s is a Rorschach test; we will read what we want out of it since the writer’s tone seems neutral enough — it’s just an interesting backstory in college basketball, where there are plenty to be had, although many more of them have to do with rising above poverty, violence, etc. What will happen, though, if the NYT isn’t exactly the last word on this? We may find out, depending on how UNLV performs in two weeks.

shout at the devil.

I stumbled across this particular list of bands from Love God’s Way (which also has a handy “God Hates Fags” reminder in the title) from a friend, for pure humor value.

All I can say is that it’s clear that I’d really rather prefer to go to hell, if this list is any indication. Inclusions range from the obvious (Scissor Sisters, Rufus Wainwright, Elton John gets an “extra gay”) to the odd (Ted Nugent gets a “loincloth” addition for his addition to the list, but I don’t think it makes him gay, per se.)

The best parts? Marilyn Manson is described as “dark gay” and Morrissey has a “?(questionable)?”

Stephen A. is sane.

Clearly, compared to the world of sports punditry on ESPN, political pundits have a stranglehold on crazy if Smith sounds like the only one on this CNN segment on “atheists on the attack” with a functioning brain.

Smith may be part of what I call the Olbermann Rule: when you see journalists and pundits with a sports base move to news, generally, they’re more incisive, because in sports, you have yardsticks to go by for evaluation (stats, won-loss records, actual skills on display on tape or TiVo), they actively seek out the similar measurements in politics. Political pundits have eschewed this approach to talk about the theoretical and anecdotal — so much the better to spin, since the majority of the pundit class now consists of former campaign types and politicians (George Will, Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough) and their acolytes brought up through talk radio. That said, he still had to profess his faith in the Lord and buy the spin point of the U.S. being a “Christian nation” — please find that in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence where it specifically says that, or I will push this button for electroshock.

I don’t advocate violence against women. I advocate violence against people who apparently haven’t read the Constitution at all, also against constant idiocy. The woman on the left saying atheists need Hallmark cards and holidays…oof. And Debbie Schlussel, always up there with Dennis Prager as particularly repellent self-hating members of the tribe (just go sign up for Jews for Jesus already), has a new nickname thanks to the Deadspinners — Fat Rachel Dratch. Absolutely no recognition at all that prayer in public schools is by nature coercive.

I’d get seriously reprimanded or fired if I had booked a segment like this when I did a morning show. How do you have a “debate” about whether atheists are on the attack without someone to represent them?

well, you gotta have faith….

….especially if you are a fan of a baseball team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1995, never mind never winning its division.

The Colorado Rockies organization has decided to bring back “Faith Day” at Coors Field; it’s not without precedent. It’s been hosted there before (the Cards and the Braves allow the company that runs it to host it in their stadia too), but the case of the Rockies organization is more interesting because of last year’s spate of attention on the team’s front office consisting mostly of born-agains.

Coming from someone who thought weekends were better spent sleeping in and watching sports on TV than spending time in the synagogue or in Catholic Lite ceremonies (Episcopalianism: Same Great Taste, Less Papal BS!), I admit I find trying to be godly while your teams finish near the bottom of of a crap division a clear sign that it’s not working. Then again, I remember that statewide, Colorado is a homing beacon for people of the God Squad, home to Mullah Dobson and Focus on the Family (and we’ve not forgotten about you, Ted Haggard), and the cynic in me appreciates the extra possibility of income (God always meets Mammon somewhere along the line.)

The Rockies can do no wrong, so long as they keep the faith, no matter how badly they lose in their division yet again. Just don’t sign anyone with a chance of being the first MLBer to come out of the closet.

that’s one type of irreconcilable difference.

This is kind of about Jim Lampley getting arrested last week for domestic violence, but really not — as the usual outlets have covered this in better form and with more humor than I can muster. The interesting update to the whole ugly mess is that the person alleging abuse, a former Miss California named Candace Sanders, had her previous marriage annulled because her then-husband, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, wouldn’t have sex with her.

I admit the picture on the right isn’t the best, but even the most uptight evangelical would hit that if she were his wife. Missionary only, of course, but still.