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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Just Married

Last week, the Massachusetts legislature voted down an initiative that would have asked state residents to vote on whether or not gay men and women should be allowed to marry. The debate on both sides of the question was fierce, and on the day of the vote, both sides showed up in force at the State House.

I’m not at all surprised that there are those who choose to spend their days trying to take away people’s rights. Religious fanatics have always defended their hatred as the way they show their love of God. And then there are those whose fear drives them to believe that something granted to one group of folks will somehow mean less for them. I am always amazed and often amused by their logic.

Robin Brophy, quoted in The Boston Globe on the day of the vote, spends her spare time going to rallies because of her fear that gay marriage will make families headed by heterosexual couples “obsolete.” "They can't procreate," she said of gay men and lesbians. "Are they going to just adopt all the time? People are going to start selling their eggs. We're opening up a huge can of worms here."

So what she’s saying is that heterosexuals won’t get married if they find out they don’t have to have sex to have babies. And gay people are going to make all of this possible because they’ll create a huge market for eggs (and I assume sperm donors and surrogate uteruses). Can you see it? People will sell their eggs at street corners like lemonade, engaging in price wars, encouraging heterosexuals to join in the fun by buying eggs and sperm instead of marrying to have children. Hmmm… “Honey, I love you and I really wanted to marry you, but then I found out about the 3 for $99 egg sale at the corner of State and Main and, well, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than even my tux would be for the wedding…”

A less insane but definitely ignorant argument made during this debate was that the legislature was required to put this on the ballot and to let the voters decide whether gay folks should be allowed to marry. Kris Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute was quoted in the Globe, saying, “I don't believe it's dead, because the people have not had the opportunity to have their vote.” In a republic, Mr. Mineau, the people don’t get to decide everything – the constitution puts the laws into place and protects people’s rights.

We didn’t get to vote on whether whites and blacks should get to marry. The Supreme Court decided this for us. Good thing.

Because we suck as voters. Half of us don’t vote, even when it’s for the President; and when we do, we pick the worst possible candidate (check out the last two elections). Who would show up to vote on the gay marriage thing? Gay people, religious zealots, and haters. That’s not exactly THE PEOPLE having their say.

Here are some other “reasons” they say homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry:
“Next, it’ll be people wanting to marry monkeys.” The same thing was said 40 years ago about blacks and whites marrying. I have yet to see King Kong picking out paint colors at Home Depot with his little blonde wife, so I’m not worried.

“Next, it’ll be people wanting to have four wives.” The Mormons did this for about 100 years before anyone stopped them (and some, I hear, are still doing it), and no one else has jumped on the bandwagon. Anyone who’s been married (except for Mormons) knows that one spouse is enough.

Last but not least, the craziest argument of them all: “It ruins the sanctity of marriage.” Until there’s a constitutional amendment passed that Britney Spears can no longer marry, don’t even go there with me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fear of Faxing

This is my first post to my first blog. I plan to post on a weekly or bi-weekly basis about politics, society and all the ways that I believe our nation is becoming untied. Although I'll cover mostly serious topics, I hope it will also be funny and a bit different. Please let me know what you think.

A recent incident in a suburb of Boston is just the latest in a wave of panic that highlights the alarmist climate gripping this country over the last few years. A local bank received a fax deemed to be suspicious – a possible bomb threat. It had a grade-school quality graphic of what looked like a hand holding a match to a bomb. In a now familiar scene, the bank and nearby businesses were evacuated for hours. Turns out the fax machine malfunctioned and the fax was just an internal promotion reminder. Since the fax was to the bank branch from another branch location, one would think that the recipients would’ve checked with the sender, but that would be assuming that something other than blind panic is ruling the masses these days.

This happened near Boston, the same metropolitan area where the where logic and rationality reign supreme at MIT and Harvard; it’s also the place where the sight of a board containing a few LEDs in the shape of an alien giving the middle finger stops an entire city for a day, as bomb squads and all manner of emergency personnel are called out en masse. Maybe the bomb personnel knew something we didn’t, that the middle finger not only means to go pleasure yourself, it’s also Al Qaeda code for “We’re going to blow up your city, you infidels!”

Is that really the way the terrorists cells are doing it these days? Faxing us first to let us know their plans? Maybe playing with their lite-brites and setting them up all over a city? Is this how they’ve operated in the past? Let’s see… September 11, 2001. Did we get a fax with a graphic of a plane flying into a building? A light-board display letting us know what would happen? No. They operated in complete secrecy until the first plane was hijacked.

Of course, our crackerjack security forces aren’t just looking for sinister faxes and light-boards, they know that true evil lurks in limited edition, Canadian quarters. Recently, the U.S. Department of Defense issued warnings that certain Canadian coins were being planted on American defense contractors with classified clearances, and that these coins were embedded with “nano-technology,” possibly radio transmitters to spy on and track the contractors. The suspicious coins turned out to be part of 30 MILLION 25-cent coins issued in 2004 with a red poppy flower in the middle of the coin—a tribute to Canada’s 117,000 war dead. What did the defense department think was going on? Did they think the Canadians were spying on the Americans? For what? To find out if Dunkin’ Donuts was launching a major assault on their beloved Tim Horton’s, which has been driving Dunkin’ Donuts back across the border ? Was it the Wicked Witch of the West, planting poppies on the good guys to make them fall asleep so they didn’t get to Emerald City?

Could the Defense Department really think it was a terrorist plot to spy on the Americans? Again, refer back to 2001. The terrorists brought down the planes with common, run-of-the mill BOX CUTTERS! And we’re spending time and money chasing our tail, imagining that all kinds of sophisticated gadgetry is being used against us. I’m sure for the people in the Defense Department, it’s a lot more interesting to invent these spy-vs-spy, James Bond-type weapons scenarios. Nano-technology the size of a pinhead, capable of spying on our innermost secrets! It sounds scary and intriguing. The only problem is, it’s not reality.

The Homeland Security threat levels, the talk of “terrorists in our midst,” all lead to a climate where we’re afraid of everyone and everything. And is it justified? Well, the chance of being a victim of terrorism is about the same as being struck by lightning or having an allergic reaction to peanuts. Yet, we don’t see the Department of Homeland Security issuing color-coded threat levels to correspond to the likelihood of getting hit by lightning, “ORANGE – High risk of a lightning attack exists. Significant likelihood of becoming burnt toast,” Nor do we see George Bush spending billions per day to flush out Mr. Peanut and destroy him. We do nothing comparable to try to cut down on the thousands per month who die on U.S. highways, even though this is a much greater threat to the average American. The last thing we are likely to see before we die is the grille of a Jeep Cherokee with bad tires, not the grin of a jihadist with bad teeth.

Worry and caution are not bad things, but we should focus on the things that are likely to kill us. We ignore the fact that there’s no seat belt in the taxi on the way to the airport, and yet, when we get there, obediently take off our shoes and socks and let people inspect our personal effects and toss out whatever shampoo looks dangerous, even though the only danger of any shampoo confiscated so far is that it may lead to the frizzies. Where does it end?

Maybe at some point we will get so tired of living in fear that we will go out on a limb and befriend a Muslim neighbor instead of agreeing with Mitt Romney that his place of worship be wiretapped. Until then, fear-mongers will continue to mislead and frighten us, and fear will continue to blind our judgment.

In the past, we practiced rushing into bomb shelters and lived in fear of the bad Russians. I would trade our current fear of everyday objects, from coins to faxes to neon signs of cursing aliens, for fear of good old-fashioned global nuclear annihilation any day.