March 5th, 2004

I just elected the “Rants” category for this post. I’m not sure how ranty it will really turn out to be when all is said and done. I’m not feeling particularly angry at the world, but I’m about to vent my spleen on an assorted list of social and political topics, and the results of my unvarnished opinions could definitely be construed as lunacy by some, if not all my readers. That’s all the caveat I’m giving. To be truthful, I don’t often get political in my blog. I am a political person, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my politics, my beliefs, my positions and the world at large. With any luck my opinions will not fall into the category of ignorant and misinformed, though they do tend toward the stubbornly naive and idealistic at times.
I’m sure there are more incisive and eloquent blogs out there that discuss politics in a way that’s truly useful and thought-provoking (Slacktivist, for one, comes to mind). I’m not aiming to do that or have that here. I’m just airing out some stuff that has been on my mind, lately.

I guess I could start by giving a nod to the gay marriage discussion. I am sure more words in print and blogs and in the media have already been given to this whole discussion than it merits, but I have to say that I’m honestly astonished at the furor this has created. I understand that even though my experience with marriage has been intensely individual and personal, that it is a social and cultural institution and that on some level it has to be given context as a generally accepted and understood thing in order to function as a workable unit for our social structure. I understand resistance against the wholesale liberalization of language. I hate losing words to misuse, imprecise use, overuse and sloppy generalizations. Syllogism in language doesn’t work. If A means B and B means C then it doesn’t follow that A means C. So I can kind of sympathize with people who are upset because as far as they’re concerned marriage is a unit that involved one man and one woman. On the other hand, language is a living thing. It evolves and changes in ways that are beyond the control of any one of us, and on a purely semantic angle, I don’t see why we can’t call a couple of people committed to one another forever and ever “married”. I don’t particularly care what gender that pair of people is. I’m more open, in fact, to calling a social unit of a committed couple married regardless of gender than I am to accepting polygamy. And while I understand being uncomfortable with the sloppiness of having any two random people who decide to get a piece of paper from a civil court be wedded, I was uncomfortable with the flimsiness of it long before it included homosexuals. This has to do with a personal moral imperative about commitment and nothing at all to do with law. I have a general concern that our society is becoming increasingly disposable and that we’re chasing temporary pleasures instead of ultimately more fulfilling endeavors that take dedication and time. That’s a social thing, though, and it is really neither here nor there when it comes to homosexuals and marriage. I haven’t seen any studies, but I imagine that when it comes down to it, gays are just as likely to be faithful and monogamous as the rest of us (which alas, isn’t very). All told, I can understand where people who hesitate to be inclusive are coming from. What I can’t understand, at all, is the position that someone else’s marriage somehow weakens mine. Whether you live in sin, become legally married, divorce seventeen times or live a happy life of freewheeling bachelorhood for all your days is of no consequence to me. At all. I don’t comprehend feeling attacked by the fact that someone else who really, really wants to is getting married. If marriage is, in fact, a weakened and devalued institution that needs bolstering, wouldn’t a flood of marriages be the best thing for it? I am having a really hard time looking at the public outcry as anything but a screaming tantrum from a group of people who don’t want to let anyone else in their club. Yes, I realize this is a simplistic way of viewing it, but I can’t help myself. And clearly, this is something people are really worried about, and I probably shouldn’t be trivializing it. Still, I fail to see what the issue is. Is it that we need someone to marginalize and ostracize to establish what’s normal and mainstream? Because it sure isn’t that all of society will come grinding to a halt and become utterly meaningless when we let homosexuals marry. No more than it did when we decided against segregation, and I’m not anywhere the first person to draw the parallel between the type and tenor of the arguments being made against that when it happened and what we’re hearing now. So what’s the real issue here? But lest I only take one side to task over this, I also have to say that I wish that gay people didn’t feel they needed to chase after all the established patterns and institutions of traditional heterosexual society to feel validated. I know, yes, of course I know, that there are some very real legal ramifications involved in this and I do think that people should have the right to make decisions for their loved ones, participate in health benefits through their partners, share wills, share guardianship of offspring and so on and so forth. I’m not against any of that. And I understand the longing to be just like anyone else as we all have it very deeply ingrained. Still I can’t help feeling that there’s a piece of this struggle for a portion of people involved in it that is about proving oneself to be just like anyone else and that seems sad to me. I know not everyone has the temperament and dedication to walk the path of the outcast and to stand deliberately apart, but truly, if you are gay, and if it’s true that you’re part of a very small portion of the population and will always be a small portion of the population, then you are never going to be run of the mill. You will always be an exception. I don’t know. Like I said, the issue is tangled for me by the impossibilities of legal consequences that really have not much to do with compliance and conformity and social issues. I just wonder if in the desire to be married, like so many others, there’s not some kind of rush to the bottom, to mediocrity and to the commonplace. It’s not like marriage has worked wonders for the heterosexual population of this country. And maybe my view is hopelessly skewed by being so utterly commonplace. I’m a very heterosexual girl in a very traditional marriage about to have the second in the obligatory pair of kids. I don’t really have a path to the unusual or the unique, so maybe I’m standing on my side of the fence going, “You guys are climbing over here? What for? Sure, the grass is pretty green, but it’s just the same green grass every day. Really, it’s not that great. Well, yeah, I do like it, but it’s nothing to get excited about, if you know what I mean.” Of course with everyone else on my side of the fence screaming, “NO! Stay out! We don’t want you here! There’s not enough grass to go around! You make my grass less green by standing near it!” it’s no wonder the fence is being breached on a number of fronts. Well, power to you, my fence jumping brethren, and welcome to the world of uniformity. I hope it lives up to your expectations.

My next topic also falls under the realm of the overdiscussed, and it has to do with the infamous SuperBowl exposure incident. Again, I have no idea what the big deal is about this. The fallout from this non-incident has made
me feel like no one has any kind of a sense of perspective in this country. Actually, though, that’s not even why I’m bringing it up. The real reason I’m bringing it up is so I can have a chance to be a little smug and self-congratulatory. I am repeatedly pleased with and proud of myself for opting out of certain mainstream cultural entrenchments. TV is one of those. I have a TV and it goes on quite a bit, to be honest, but the scope of what I see on it is so narrow that I rarely find cause to be disgusted or outraged by what I witness there. I’m also magically empowered by my off switch. Whenever I’m unhappy about
what I’m watching, I feel completely free to hit the power button and go do something else. I get the
feeling, from some of what I’ve been seeing and reading about people’s reaction to Janet Jackson’s bared breast during the SuperBowl, though, that everyone else’s
living room is decked out like the re-programming center in the movie “A Clockwork Orange”. They get in there and are strapped in, with their eyes held open by metallic pincers, and with no option but to watch the horrifying things that are endlessly paraded in front of them. I can’t imagine a situation where, when I’m free to opt out so easily and painlessly, I’d expend the energy and effort to mount a tirade, write letters to the FCC or file a lawsuit. I don’t feel a need for television to reflect my own personal values or mores. In fact, it rarely does, as it’s way too corporatized and materialistic for my tastes, but I can’t imagine being upset at what someone else chooses to show there. I can imagine rolling my eyes and being disgusted at the quality of programming. Believe me, I used to like TV much more than I do now. I used to follow three or four shows a week! I decided, though, at some point, that I was only going to watch things I was really truly interested in, and have found, increasingly, that there’s not much that falls into this category for me. Almost nothing on TV appeals to me, and I refuse to believe that it’s because I’m
weird and don’t like anything. I guess I’m just not the demographic the producers of shows are aiming for, is all. I’m ok with that, the same way I’m ok with not listening to the radio or going to movies or buying magazines. I
don’t need a bunch of stuff to fill in the spaces and time of my life. In fact, I need less things and less appointments. Of course this point of view doesn’t make me any better than people who watch a lot of
TV. Everyone makes choices about how to spend their time, and for some people, TV is genuinely very enjoyable. Still, even when I do watch the thing, I don’t have to worry about boobies or guns being imposed on me, because I always have the last word. I can stop the machine any time I want to. How many things in life are so easy to control?

Well, we’re out of time for today, but do join me in my next rant, where I take aim at the Democrats, tell them to piss off, and revisit the issue of taxes and why I don’t hate them.

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5 Mar 2004, by

Further enumeration of laptop losses : from Cualcotel, my 2002 Nano: all notes I’d made myself about continuity, missing scenes, things to fix and things to edit from the read through I did in the first part of 2003.

And now, dreams.

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