Tuesday, October 30, 2012

'Thank You' Is Not Enough

DATELINE: WATCHING SANDY’S FALLOUT, AWESTRUCK – I am nowhere near the east coast, yet I have found myself watching what is happening there, worried about friends, acquaintances, their families, strangers... and am in awe of the men and women who, when logic says to stay inside and hunker down, are out there fighting the fires, rescuing the stranded, evacuating hospitals.

There was a storm surge of appreciation for first responders after 9-11, as there should have been. From time to time, after that, when there have been disasters of smaller magnitude, we remember them again. When we watch flag-draped coffins coming home from the Middle East, we pause for a moment, but maybe it’s time to do more than shed a tear and say thank you. In fact, there is no maybe about it.

For the past several months, we have been inundated with billions of dollars worth of election campaign ads. We have listened to the travails of the poor NHL players and team owners, as they work out multi-million dollar deals as if they are talking about chump change. How many hockey players were prepared to run into the World Trade Center, wearing full gear, knowing they had to go up every one of those steps while the building was burning, aware that the odds of coming out alive were, at best, marginal?

Last night, hospitals were evacuated under terrible conditions for everyone. Nurses, paramedics, firemen had to carry every patient out of the hospital, manually providing the breathing support or whatever else that person needed as they were lifted down many flights of stairs. This morning, in Maryland, there is a lake of raw sewage to be cleaned up – something that by itself would be a major disaster. You will not see Gary Bettman or his ilk in there helping.

Floyd Mayweather is a boxer. He earned $85 million dollars last year. What the hell did he do to earn that? Tiger Woods made $4.4M but also received $55M in endorsements last year... for walking around a field, hitting a little ball with a club. Since we are on the subject of hitting balls with sticks, ARod, #18 on the Forbes list of highest paid athletes of 2012, received $33 Million dollars... and they didn’t even make it to the Series. Yes, I do enjoy watching a baseball game. I see NOTHING done on that field that merits more payment to those men on the diamond than what the backbone of the military or the first responders receive, though.

Why are these athletes heroes? What the hell is wrong with our priorities that we place such an insane, obscene value on people who play a game, while those who pull on a uniform every day, without hesitation, then pick up a gun and stand a post to ensure the freedom and safety of the people of their country linger around the poverty line? Why the hell are these people, after dedicating their lives and their youth, and in many cases, their health, to the public good then forgotten, abandoned when they come home, because it might cost too much to give them what they need to survive?

Think about what the budget from just ONE NHL team could do to help those in need. Think about the children who could be fed. Think about the extra staff that could be hired for a hospital, or the books that could be bought for a school. What the hell does someone like Gary Bettman do for his $8M annually? Yes, sports are entertaining, but we need some fecking perspective. How does anyone justify riots in the streets because of a baseball win or a hockey loss? How does a team losing a game in any way equate to police cars being burned, buses being turned over, businesses being looted? We are this distraught over a god damned game yet we shrug when we hear of another soldier perishing while on duty.

While you watch the mudslinging this next week – and believe me, there will be billions of dollars worth of mud flying on the airwaves – or while you watch the latest update of the NHL strike, please take just one minute and think about the waste of money, the misguided values, the greed involved. Then, remember those who have died for you – who died for you without even knowing who you are, but knowing that the ideal of a free society is worth at least that, and did so knowing they would be paid barely enough to maintain a home. Remember the first responders who answered calls last night, who worked through the storm to help those who did not or could not help themselves, how they were prepared to do that for the greater good. Don’t waste your tears on missed hockey games. There are much more substantial issues, and people, to cry over.

Monday, October 29, 2012

'Sanctity of Marriage'? My ass.


Last night, while watching the baseball game, I was inundated… nay, assaulted, every twenty minutes by some broad telling me that it was okay to oppose gay marriage, that it did not mean I was prejudiced or a bigot, and that the 'definition of marriage' must not be changed. I was told about the ‘sanctity of marriage’ and how children do so much better in a home with a mom and a dad. I was told that marriage was about future generations. If I had a baseball bat anywhere near me, I probably would have, after the first three or four times, used it to smash the damned tv set. Thank God for remotes with mute buttons.

I have been watching this campaign for months, every time I turn on the television, open up a newspaper to read, surf the internet. For the life of me, I cannot understand what the hell the big deal is.

Marriage is many different things to many different cultures, so let’s start with the basics. By definition, marriage is a social union and/or legal contract between two people called ‘spouses’, that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged by society. 'Sanctity' means holiness, saintliness, sacred – to sanctify something is to make it legitimate, justify it, observe as holy and purified. It means one thing in a religious context, another in a legal context. There have been arranged marriages, convenient marriages, especially when looking for citizenship, and polygamous marriages. There are marriages where the ‘weaker’ partner is considered as nothing more than chattel.

In a marriage where there is an abusive partner, how does this benefit the raising of children? In a marriage where the parents are more concerned about social appearance, how does this benefit the raising of children? How about the one where the dad is an alcoholic but the mother is too scared to leave? Or the one where one of the parents brings home their latest fling? Are these nurturing environments? When dad is downing his fifth beer before supper, and mom is throwing a plate at his head, is this still a 'holy union'? When a celebrity is married for a week, what happens to the sanctity of that marriage? If a man has had a vasectomy, or one of the couple is unable to procreate, does someone forbid them from marrying? If not, the argument about the children is at best insulting, but more to the point, it is asinine. It is not the fact that there is a mother and a father in the home to raise a child that makes the difference. It is the fact that the child is raised in a nurturing environment of love.

It is disconcerting when people will hide behind quoted chapter and verse to justify their unfounded hatred. Yes, that is the word for it. If a man loves another man, or a woman loves another woman, how does that in any way impact anyone else’s marriage or the definition thereof? You can’t support a constitution that defends the separation of church and state, then turn to the state to impose laws (on others who are different than you) that are based on religious dogma. You cannot argue about freedom of religion, then demand that everyone in the land pledge allegiance to only your God. You cannot say that gay marriage is offensive and should not be allowed to happen, then claim in the same breath that you are not prejudiced.

I look at couples walking though the mall and wonder what they saw in each other… but it was not my right to tell them who they could marry. We don’t ‘pick’ love. Love is love, and is what God supposedly is about, so how can anyone who believes in God say that He would like those who have a different lifestyle to be struck down.

Getting access and familial rights to loved ones is based on social structure. If you want to be with your loved one when they are dying, you need to be able to prove you are kin. If you want information regarding an accident, you need to prove you are kin. In times of emergency, when you want those whom you love beside you, it is not the time to be denying this same right based on the fact that ‘marriage is sacred’. Yes, there is a need to protect people’s personal privacy, but there then has to be a way to allow those who love us, who commit to us, who are in every way married to us, to be able to be with us without question. Why is this something everyone, especially anyone who claims to hold God and His love in their hearts, would want to deny? The current situation is cruel… it is discriminatory, and it is wrong. It is also just one of the many rights we take for granted that are denied to gay couples… because of our hatred; our misguided, ignorant hatred, of something that is different than that we have.

Our laws and society are based, to a large degree, on the ancient Romans and Greeks. Historically, they too were opposed to same sex relationships… sort of. In both ancient societies, it was ‘wrong’ for a man to have sexual relationships with another ‘equal’ man. It was perfectly fine to have sex with a younger man/boy, with a servant, with someone who was of a lower standing than you. It was a power thing, because as long as you were the ‘screwer’, it was cool – a lot like how things are dealt with in Rome now, ain’t it. As long as you were the one wielding the power, the one with the authority, it didn’t matter who you had sex with; it was fine. It was all in the fine print of the day… sort of like how the constitution guaranteed equal rights to all ‘free’ men. Homosexuality is not a disease, it is not a perversion, and it definitely is not new, so why do we all act like it is? It's been running rampant in the Vatican for centuries.

I am not angry, but I am frustrated about this issue. I don’t see why we would want to deprive anyone of love from whatever source it comes. We need more love… we need a hell of a lot more love. Why are we so threatened about what marriage is that we have to ‘lock’ the definition on it. Our language is a living language. Words and ideologies evolve every day, so why put the shackles on something that is supposed to be 100% based on love and respect, then add absolutely unattainable ideals to that word? The concept of marriage has evolved for centuries, and for the most part each change has been for the better. I’m glad we don’t pay for wives anymore. I’m glad that marriages are no longer nothing more than an addendum to a business merger, or contingent on a monetary transaction. Love is not about skin color, religion or gender. Freedom and human rights should not be about those things either.

If marriage is so damned special, if it is so sacred, so wonderful, then why in the hell would we not want to share it with everyone? It's sad, unbelievable, that what is supposed to be a loving, intelligent society still harbors such profound, unfounded hatred.

“I promise to be true to you in good times, and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

These are the vows that I took, in a Catholic Church. This is the essence of any marriage. I see no reason to deprive anyone the right to make the same vow of love.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Rape – it’s like the new Christmas morning for women!

It’s a sad day. At times, I almost feel ‘held hostage’ by what is occurring ‘on the other side of the line’ with our neighbors, the United States, because what happens down there sets the course for what happens here, and elsewhere. I realize that is an unfair burden to lay on the shoulders of the people of that country, but such is life when you are a land known, for centuries now, to harbor dreams of a better life, a more fair and just life, to prosper, to grow. The United States has, in the past, championed human rights globally. They have been brave enough to come to the forefront, take the stand for those who cannot stand because of the thumb of oppression, and show that the dream can be a reality for anyone, anywhere. It’s an ideal, yes, but many times what the United States does, is, and accomplishes becomes the hallmark for billions of others around the world. They are the big brother who inspires, supports, and yes, helps out the struggling little sibling when needed. They are a beacon of hope for those who have none. So what the hell is happening now?

The champion for human rights, for human dignity and freedom around the world is on the precipice of destroying those rights, those freedoms for well over half of their population. The rights that they cling to, the Constitution, Amendments and now the Bible, that they clutch so close to their breasts, are showing us an alter ego to that big brother, and I have to admit, it’s damned frightening.

There are candidates in every corner of the country now, making statements about rape – stupid, insensitive, scientifically wrong statements about rape. They made these statements while hiding behind a cloak of Christianity, because apparently THEIR God says that it’s okay to brutally attack women, to torment them, torture them mentally, physically, emotionally... and that it is God’s will. They say that women should ‘make lemonade’ when they are handed the lemon of rape. Who the hell compares a capital crime to picking fruit? They spew 16th century ideals about how women should be considered, they refuse to answer questions about what they will do to provide equal pay for women, they state that because of independent single women, there is more poverty and violence – yes, the increase in the use of assault weapons is due to single parent families. How easy it is to pass the guilt on to someone else.

MY God says that we should take care of each other, respect each other, not hurt each other – a drastic difference from the God who said that it’s okay to rape a woman because I will give her a prize for participating. Here’s the real kicker though – my God, and their God, have no place in politics. There is a reason for separation of church and state; you are seeing why in this last run up to the US elections. God is ‘convenient’. He’s a great scapegoat for what they do wrong, he is a wonderful reason to make impassioned asinine statements, he is a totally silent yet powerful supporter of the rhetoric spewed on a daily basis... but where do any of these people get off telling me that their God is right and my God is wrong? What gives them the right to speak for their God in the first place? It’s very easy to put words into a deity’s mouth, then command the rest of us to listen to his divine word, based on contradictory passages in a book written centuries ago, translated many times over, that is more of a political manifesto intended to appease the ruling authorities at the time it was written. Do I know this is what the book is? No, I can assume it, but I don’t know it. The thing is, no one can prove otherwise. Basing government decisions on the passages (that are, in the same authoritative source, contradicted) is at the very least ill-advised. It lowers society to the same level as the Taliban, a group of radicals who cherry-pick the parts of their authoritative source then use them as an excuse for killing thousands of people... including women who want to better themselves and not be controlled by a man.

I have heard discussions about radical Islamists on the news a lot lately. What about radical Christians? Yes, they exist. They are those who are blinded by everything BUT the rhetoric attributed to God. Hitler was a radical Christian – well, he was also nucking futs, but I have to say, some of what we are hearing now would probably make him very happy. Timothy McVeigh was a radical Christian. There are lots of them around – they just don’t get the same amount of press. Apparently their God has a better PR firm working for them.

I don’t want to see the rights of women, the world over, totally obliterated. We’ve worked hard to get the recognition we have, and we deserve a seat at the big people’s table. We don’t need men, apparently uncontrollably horny men, making decisions for us simply because they can’t keep their peckers parked in their panties. They say this issue is about abortion – that’s bullshit. It’s about control. It’s about superiority. It’s about manipulation, desire for authority, oppression, justification of male libido, pride and prowess, but it is not about abortion. It’s time to call it like it is, and it is time for those politicians who have a brain to distance themselves, and to demand a higher standard from their fellow candidates. This is a battle that was won long ago, and quite honestly, there are much bigger issues that need to be addressed seriously by men... and women, and gays, and Hispanics, and Jews... Why is this so hard?

Every 2 minutes, someone in the US is sexually assaulted. Every year, there are approximately 207,754 victims of sexual assault. 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to police, 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail. Learn more at www.rainn.org