Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tic Tap Tou(rette's)

I had a conversation semi-recently, about what kinds of interesting things I could possibly bring to this little blog that others might not. I drew a complete blank. I mean, middle class college-educated twenty-something? Not too un-normal, right?

Ooh yeah, right, also, I have Tourette's Syndrome.

It's mild, so most people don't notice it and so I forget that it's an unusual way to live, with constant numbers and repetitions and convoluted algebra dancing through my head, tingling in my fingertips. I hide it instinctively, keeping twitches to my fingers and tongue, and holding out until I'm alone to do the really weird stuff. That's the thing about (mild) Tourette's; it's controllable to a certain point, but then you've just got to go do something big so you can breathe right again.

I didn't know it was weird, I was weird, until I was almost an adult. I have vague recollections of doctor-hopping and finally learning about "tics," which were explained to me as very different from the tiny black things I always managed to bring in after tromping around the southern Kentucky hillsides. I understood that the compulsions I had to blink hard and often had a name, but I didn't understand that this was something different from other kids. I later learned that I also had a head-jerking tic that terrified my parents, who thought brain cancer. The subsequent doctor-hopping, and stress, only made me worse, until finally the assuaging diagnosis of Tourette's. The doctor told my parents to just leave me alone, and they did, and my outward symptoms all but disappeared.

This happens to a lot of kids with Tourette's as they grow older; I don't know why. I read it somewhere, and lived it, so it must be true.

What I'm left with is a jumble of controllable compulsions to count, to make shapes, to repeat things over and over. They are so intrinsic to my personality at this point that I don't know what I would do without them. It feels terrible when things are off, or I can't get something out of my head in just the right way, but it feels so good when it's right, when it's even. When the world is smooth.

I have good days and bad ones; usually I can step on cracks but sometimes I can't, sometimes labels have to be turned a certain way but usually it doesn't matter. Echolalia, however, is ever-present. I like echolalia. Sounds, and their repetition. It feels great on my tongue, on my lips, on my teeth, in my fingers as I trace letters in the air at my sides. Until, of course, my carpal tunnel acts up or I rub a blister into my tongue.

The disorder affects me now in ways that it never did before; years of repetition have worn paths into my muscles, my bones, my nerves, etched worry lines into my psyche. I am who I am in large part because of this disorder, it gives me the freedom to be impulsive because I'm already compulsive. But sometimes, when my wrists and tendons are sore from fiercely scratching words into the air and I can't unlock my jaw because my teeth aren't straight, I do really wish this burden was not mine to bear.

I love my Tourette's because it feels so good when I get things right; I hate my Tourette's because that is what makes the world feel off kilter in the first place.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Mash Note for Friday Night Lights

We've already discussed the general awesomeness of the NBC high school football drama Friday Night Lights on this blog in the past. But with the show having completed four seasons now, I figure I would talk a bit more about the general importance of the show, rather than just the actual quality of the writing/acting/directing, which remain quite high all around. And of course, it needs to be said - SPOILER WARNING!

1. The Show Has Done Right By the Characters - A lot of shows deal with high school or college and at a certain point either need to do a full on move to college or rotate characters. Most shows screw it up Saved By The Bell style. There are exceptions, Degrassi have been around forever, but these are rare. FNL hasn't been perfect, Matt Saracen doesn't really get a fair shake with his departure this season, but on the whole characters are dealt with pretty well - Smash gets onto a college team, Street gets an agent job in New York, and Tyra and Lyla both make it out of Dillon as well, even if they don't get a full treatment. Even Riggins is given a relatively nuanced portrait as someone who will never really escape Dillon.

2. Changing the Location - Sure, the shift in the show is just from West Dillon to East Dillon, but between the end of Season 3 when Coach Taylor is booted from the Dillon Panthers through to end of Season 4 when the East Dillon Lions beat the Panthers in the final game of the season, we see the show's original setting effectively abandoned and replaced by a new one. It's just a move across town, but given how incredibly difficult it is to maintain the momentum of a school related show like this, it's handled amazingly well. Buddy's evolution over Season 4 really drives home the difficulty of making such a seemingly minor geographic move as he goes from a Panthers uber-booster to the radio announcer for the Lions.

3. Someone Gets An Abortion! - No matter what your stance on abortion, or your feelings on how heated the arguments get in the show, the point remains - in real life people in America do get abortions. And given the number of movies that have avoided what would happen in reality (Hey, Juno!) it's at least important that FNL provides a nuanced discussion and plotline on teen pregnancy, at least until Luke's mom gets overzealous and everything goes to hell.

Season 5 will be an interesting one, since Landry and Julie both theoretically have to leave. That means all the non-adult characters are gone (and Riggins is in jail). Will the show keep plugging along for another few seasons? Hard to say, but what it's already accomplished in four years is inspiring work for a weekly hour of network television. And it's still way better than Mad Men.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You're Dead Now. Movie Over.

I recently sat down with a few friends to watch/listen to the guys over at Rifftrax (the same geniuses who brought us Mystery Science Theatre 3000) skewer the first two Twilight movies. (I don't regret it. They were hilarious.)

I knew I was in for some mediocre film experiences. But while there were thousands of eye-rollingly bad parts of the movies, only one small scene made me so furious that I was compelled to write a blog post about it.

In the middle of the second movie, New Moon, the anti-feminist anti-heroine, Bella, decides to go cliff diving. Unsurprisingly, she sucks at it. But spoiler alert! She doesn't die. Unfortunately. Her friend Jacob pulls her out of the water just as she's about to drown, and then revives her. By doing something with his arms. Something that is definitely not CPR.

"OK, Jacob, think back to your Red Cross training. Step 1 was not take off your shirt."

Twilight is by far not the only movie I've seen that's egregiously ignored that there actually is a correct way to do CPR. (I'm sad to say that even my beloved Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, was [SPOILER ALERT] revived after drowning in Season One with a really piss-poor example of CPR.)

I just have to believe that SOMEWHERE on the set of a multi-million dollar movie, SOMEONE is certified in CPR and First Aid. In fact, I'd go so far to make the claim (based only on the assumptions my brain has made and no facts that I've researched whatsoever) that with that many people shooting a movie, including highly paid celebrities, it'd be REQUIRED to employ someone who knows how to perform rescue services in case bad shit went down on set. What I'm trying to say is, couldn't SOMEONE have stepped in and said, "Hey, actually, let me show you the right way to resuscitate her. You know, so it'd actually work and her revival wouldn't be complete bullshit."

"Oh, you saw it on the Internet? Well nevermind then, let me just step aside."

Now, the argument could be made that the director of the movie doesn't want his character to be an expert in CPR. Maybe he doesn't think it's realistic that he'd be able to do it correctly. And I'm torn on that interpretation. On one hand, I'd like my movies to contain real characters. On the other hand though, we all know how much what we see in the movies can affect what we believe to be reality. And the last thing I'd want to hear is that a person in distress died because someone thought they knew how to do CPR because they "saw it in Twilight."

There's also the counter-argument, of course, that if your character doesn't actually know how to do CPR correctly, that it likely WON'T WORK, and your character will die. Or wake up with a number of broken ribs. Sucks.

In Bella's case though, maybe that would mean she'd have to take a break from being a COMPLETE IDIOT ALL THE TIME, which might make it all worth it.

So I'm putting this to you, Hollywood directors and producers: CPR is not all that difficult to do correctly. It is oh so easy, though, for anyone who's had any training to recognize when ur doin it wrong. So maybe spend $75 out of your $50 million to have someone come in and show you how it's done. More living, less flailing. It just makes sense.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Last Days of Laura Schlessinger

In case you're not a regular listener of the Dr. Laura show, where she, according to her website "preaches, teaches, and nags about morals, ethics, and values," I should inform you now that you're going to miss your chance to take part in her legendary advice. At the end of 2010, Laura Schlessinger will be stepping down from her long-running radio program, following the controversy of her using the n-word multiple times while speaking with a black caller.

If you don't have the time to listen to the call, or don't work in a place where repeated racial slurs are acceptable, I'll sum it up for you. Schlessinger received a call from a black woman married to a white man asking for advice on dealing with her husband's friends and family, who seemed to constantly bring up her race. Her response was to say the woman was hypersensitive, and that if we live in an America which elected a black President, clearly white people aren't racist anymore and she needs to get a sense of humor. Laura also repeatedly through the call insisted on using the n-word, asking why if comedians on HBO can use it, why can't she?

Pictured: Role Model

This generated a fair deal of controversy, culminating in Schlessinger announcing on Larry King Live that she will not renew the contract for her radio show. Says the doctor of physiology; "The reason is I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what is on my mind and in my heart, what I think is useful and helpful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors." This is not the first time she has suffered for exercising her freedom of speech. Ten years ago, Dr. Laura came under fire for describing homosexuality as "a biological error." Protests by gay rights groups put an end to her television show after just one season.

There are many places to go with this, I'm going to attempt touching on all of them.

In regards to Dr. Laura herself; she is at best narrow-minded, and worst willfully cruel. She claims to promote doing the right thing and strengthening morals, so what could possible convince her that saying the n-word over and over again to an African-American caller was the correct course of action? She also insisted that "without giving much thought, a lot of black people voted for Obama simply 'cause he was half-black. Didn't matter what he was gonna do in office. It was a black thing. You gotta know that." Then she told Larry King she was looking forward to being able to talk without "special interests" infringing on her First Amendment rights.

So, to be clear, in the world of Laura Schlessinger, black people are a special interest group.

It's cool, some of her best friends are black.

Now, let's get to this issue about her First Amendment rights. This is America, and Schlessinger is absolutely right; she has the freedom to express herself and her opinions. Nobody has the right to infringe on that. If people don't want to hear it, they're free to change the station. But this goes both ways. Laura has the right to state her opinion, and everybody else in America has the right to say how they feel about it. If enough people say they're outraged by what she said enough to change that station, then her station and her sponsors have the right to express themselves by pulling their support. If you're going to apply the rights granted all Americans to yourself in an argument, you can't have them count less for the rest of the country.

Simply put, everyone has the right to free speech, but you're expected to exercise it with at least a touch of common sense. Dr. Laura spouted out a racial slur repeatedly and then complained that it was infringing on her First Amendment rights to prevent her from doing so. This isn't really the case. She can make as many derogatory remarks towards black people as she wants - but if they get angry, that's their right, too. That's everybody's right - you can say whatever you want to, but you have to be prepared to deal with the repercussions. The First Amendment is not a shield to keep you safe from criticism. It is an inalienable right granted to all Americans - not just the ones whose opinions agree with yours.

My father once told me he'd love to see a day where people can use whatever words they want to without offending anybody. He is of the school of thought that if white people want to use the n-word, they should be able to. It's just a word, and words only have power if we allow them to, after all. I spoke to someone else who said they want to see a time when the word is rendered inert; still part of the social conscious, but no longer offensive. There might have been a time when calling someone a silly ninny was cause enough to earn a slap with a white glove, but such times have passed in all but the roughest of British neighborhoods.

But this is different.

This is not a word used to address a general audience. This was a word that was used for centuries to oppress and denigrate human beings for no other reason than the color of their skin. It is the vessel for hundreds of years of hatred and bigotry shoveled upon one race by another. Why can't white people casually use this word? Because we did, endlessly, for 400 years. We used it through slavery. We used it through Jim Crow. We used it through the Civil Rights era. We still use it today, with anonymity the internet provides allowing a whole new generation to use that word with abandon.

People like to act like the n-word just casually came into the vernacular one day amongst black people, and now whites are all confused as to why it's so offensive when they use it. Of course, there are also people who know exactly where it came from and what it encapsulates and insist on using it anyway. Dr. Laura seems like an educated woman. I wonder which camp she falls into.

Words will always have power. That power is why people consider their words before breaking bad news to a friend. It's what gives a politician the ability to sway the masses. That power is what makes us go see a movie or a play, at least the ones largely devoid of explosions. Words will always move us, always change us, always challenge us, and to say you hope for a time when anyone can say anything without consequence just goes to show me that I've already learned more than my Dad has on this subject. I'd say more than Laura Schlessinger too, but I think it's a safe bet that she knew exactly what she was doing when she used the n-word so many times on a national broadcast. She just didn't think the repercussions would be quite so bad as they were.

Or maybe she just is a bigoted idiot. I'm not here to judge. The West Wing on the other hand -

Laura - that's supposed to be you.

That draws the era of the Dr. Laura show to a close. Someone else will just fill her shoes, just like has happened to other people over other scandals (or "rows," as the BBC calls them). It probably will not be the end of Schlessinger herself, however. For people who want to feign ignorance over the power of words, she'll be there to talk. For people who want to espouse the evils of homosexuality, she'll be there to talk. For as long as America enjoys listening to someone hypocritically degrading others for their perceived mistakes, she'll be there to talk. She said on Larry King that she still has views to express, and wants a medium where she is free to do so. She'll probably find it, and people will probably keep on listening.

After all, it's her right to talk. It's their right to listen.

And it's the right of anyone who disagrees to talk back.

YOU'RE NEXT! And Other Societal Pressures

I think about weddings a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Weddings, and their resulting marriages.

This is due to several factors of my 24-year-old, post-college existence:

1) The number of people I am close to who are my age and are engaged or married has ramped up from seven (or three and a half couples) in 2009, to twenty-two (or nine couples and four halves) in 2010. This little math equation also affects the fact that, thanks to all the weddings and engagements, my boyfriend of five years and I now seem to have grown giant YOU’RE NEXT signs on our foreheads.

2) I have a slightly embarrassing blog/TLC addiction, and therefore have been known to saturate myself with pretty wedding pictures and/or feminist rants.

3) I roll my eyes at the giant YOU'RE NEXT signs on the boyfriend and my foreheads, but I can still feel them, and let me tell you, they're a little heavy.

How do I feel about that? I don't... (and I literally just heaved a tremendous SIGH as I typed that) I don't know.

I do want a wedding. Of course I want a wedding. The best day of my life is the day I get to wear a pretty dress and have a big party with all my favorite people. See: my awkwardly intense love of my own birthday. But birthdays and weddings are ever so slightly different in that your birthday is all about you, but the point of your wedding is that afterwards you’re *married.* To another *person.* For the rest of your *life.*

Am I ready for that? Will I ever be sure? I don’t know. I’m the kind of person who likes to wait and see what everyone else decided to do before making my own decision, but as I’ve gotten older and my friends’ and peers’ life decisions have brought them more and more onto their very own made-especially-for-you path, that has become harder to do.

There are a few things I’ve crossed off my list of Things That I Want to Do, like engineering and bean counting, but pretty much everything else is still there in a jumbled mess of I WANNA! I wanna have a big beautiful wedding! I wanna focus on my career! I wanna go to school! I wanna elope! I wanna baby! I wanna bum across Europe! I wanna change careers! I wanna juggle three careers! I wanna move across the country! I wanna stay home and hang out on the couch with my boyfriend forever! It’s all there, all equally tangible, all equally desired.

And I know, I know. I KNOW. I know being single in the eyes of the government is not the same as actually being single. I know that the boyfriend is part of every decision I make anyway. I also know that being married does not mean giving up and/or “settling,” but it is different. To accept and integrate another person into your life so wholly, so completely that you pledge your life to him or her in front of God and the government and everybody, that’s big.

So. Effing. Big.

I talked about it a lot (read: way too much) with (read: at) my boyfriend last year, but for all the wrong reasons. At that time I was very (read: very very) financially and emotionally unstable, and I sensed that marriage would be a great go-to stabilizer. I can say now that I was so, incredibly, wrong. Stability comes from within the couple and the promises they make (and keep) to each other, not from the legal document they sign.

So, do I need the document? No, I know how I feel and what our relationship means to us. But I want it. For the medical and insurance rights, for the tradition, for the fun, and for the public outpouring of love and commitment that a wedding, and marriage, symbolizes.

Do I want it now? (This is the part where I sigh again, and shrug.) I'm tired of analyzing it, and forgetting to enjoy all the wonderful things there are to enjoy in a relationship, before you "start your lives together." I think for now I'm happy being happy, and I just have to be happy with that. Living in sin will certainly do for now.

Take that, Society!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What's the Matter With Arcade Fire

Well, technically, nothing.

Arcade Fire are a very competent indie rock band known for having an energetic live show. I get that. And clearly there are many folks who think very highly of them, but I'm not one of them.

I don't hate Arcade Fire. Really, I don't. I admit that I've probably said that a few time to be contrarian, but honestly I just don't think they're that interesting. My sister had heard their first album Funeral before I had, and said that they were "just an indie rock band." I listened to it, since I was curious about these highly touted Canadians, and came away with the same impression. There were some good songs, there were some dull songs, and that was about it.

But their star keeps rising and each new album from them is now AN EVENT. And so I paid the cut rate price Amazon was charging last week for their new album The Suburbs. I was not surprised to discover that they're still just an indie rock band. One that's clearly trying for something bigger, certainly, but they're not particularly adept at it. Once again, there are some nice cuts and some dull cuts, but my desire to listen to this album again is pretty low.

The thing is, there are plenty of recent bands that have succeeded in matching their hype, or at least delivered successful albums. For example, Vampire Weekend have crafted two albums of really, really catchy, clever songs. The band members may be dicks, (or may not) and I have relatively little desire to see them live, but the albums are great. And there are plenty of other bands worth a mention -- Beach House, as laid back as they are, keep getting better with each album, Real Estate are excellent, Tame Impalla's album is one of the best things I've heard this year, Beach Fossils are charming, Pains of Being Pure at Heart are great, and Toro Y Moi has released a perfect summer album.

If I want to see a bunch Canadians make a good racket onstage, there's always Broken Social Scene.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

These Gentlemen Ride (And Write) Again!

You may have noticed some recent activity here at These Gentlemen after a largely dormant summer. We had a nice little two-month break to reorganize and give the blog (and our brains) a bit of a reboot, but I'm happy to say that These Gentlemen is back in the business of, well, gentlemanliness.

Kind of like this, except we're not backed by Will Smith's billions.

Rested and refreshed, over the past few weeks we've been discussing new ideas for posts on which we've been ruminating, and talking about steps we can take to Be All the Blog We Can Be.

I've discovered my roommate's Photoshop software. Bow ties for EVERYONE!

With that come a few changes to our line-up and our posting policies. Some of These Gentlemen have moved onward (and upward, I'm sure) to phases of their lives in which they don't have the time or the ability to continue writing for us, and so it is with great sorrow that we say so long to:

Alex - Continuing her pursuit of acting and organizing the lives of those who cannot organize themselves

Daniel - Being hilarious professionally on a boat

Stephen - Proud new father and member of the US Army

Adam Z. Winer - Furthering journalistic integrity and being badass on the TV-box

A few of our Gentlemen might stop in from time to time, and we look forward to sporadic Guest Posts from:

Jason Heat - Taking the world of directing by storm

Matt Lindeboom - What exactly is it that you're doing up there in NJ these days, Matt?

Ozkirbas - Owning year three of law school

Don't worry though, our resident blog ghost, Damo, still roams the halls rattling his chains of brilliance all while neglecting to actually post a damn thing.

He was supposed to visit Scrooge like 150 years ago.

For those of you who are counting, that means we're down to five contributing members, and we five have decided to try something new. In the spirit of cutting down on the sometimes random nature of our writing, we've agreed to post five times a week, Monday through Friday. I bring you the new line-up of These Gentlemen:

Max Nova on Mondays

B. Graham on Tuesdays

David Pratt on Wednesdays

ali d. on Thursdays

Brett on Fridays

We're planning to bring you even more positive changes in the future, including a redesign of our blogspot page, leading up to our eventual move to our very own website. Heck, we're even thinking about changing our color to black text on a white background. But we don't want to get too crazy right away.

Whatever the future may bring, with this post I'd like to say that we are still Gentlemen, and we are still here to entertain you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Blame Game

Short laundry list of problems we face today;

- Out of control deficits
- Economic crisis
- Ongoing state of war
- Starbucks which close before 10PM

So who is to blame for these issues? That's easy.

Anybody who's not us.

The total impact of illegal immigrants on this country's economic standpoint is all but negligible in the face of the real problems we face. Illegal immigrants did not cause the housing crunch, float trillions of dollars in bad loans while betting against them, or just flat out rip people off. Yet there's a tough immigration law in Arizona that almost went into action save for an 11th-hour ruling against it, and a similar law is being proposed now in Florida. The reasoning behind it all, more often than not? Illegal immigrants cost Americans jobs. They also take our health care and are bad for the economy.

No, they're just easy targets. We come down like a ton of bricks on the individual illegals, but when was the last time you heard anything in the news about the places hiring them being made to pay for their crime? How many of the jobs they do are in serious contention in the job market? Are there that many immigrants taking all the good IT work and office jobs around the country? Is Arizona's pool of the educated yet unemployed suffering because there are too many immigrants taking the jobs they need a degree to qualify for? Or is it that a heretofore unknown majority of skilled laborers prefer to work as farmhands, delivery boys, or underpaid manufacturing line workers?

The good jobs aren't out there because super-wealthy, American-born men and women made a fortune off of exploiting loopholes in our system or doing things that are bafflingly legal yet absurdly detrimental to the economy. Some of them, but not many, were punished for it. Most just got a stern talking-to by Congress followed by a bailout. Meanwhile, nothing has been done to try and move past the boom-and-bust cycle economy we live in which inevitably leads to long recessions and the kind of baseless finger-pointing established by the Arizona and Florida bills. You're not out of work because there's a Mexican driving a truck back and forth for a ranch somewhere making $3 an hour. You're out of work because the people at the top decided screw you, I'm at the top.

On a personal note, I am all for an aggressive reform to our immigration system. Illegal means illegal; there are perfectly valid ways to enter this country if you want to live and work here. However, realistically, they pretty much suck and it's not hard to see why people avoid it where possible. We want to stay on top of immigration, we have to attack the reasons why it's so easy to get in to this country, not the people taking advantage of our terrible system. If we're really that concerned with jobs being taken, we have to find the people giving out those jobs and force them not to use undocumented workers and make sure everyone working for them is on the books and making at least minimum wage. Drug trade a concern? How about we tackle the education and social welfare issues which attract drugs to a given community rather than fighting a war on drugs which has been a complete failure?

Let's find the people actually here to exploit the system and take advantage of the country and kick them out, and find ways for people no different from your ancestors or mine to stay here and become real Americans.

Of course, illegal immigrants are only half of the imagined problem the country is getting up in arms about. The other is the whole idea that freedom of religion extends to religions we don't like.

It seems America isn't particularly high on mosques right now, but nor is it particularly high on understanding what does and does not constitute a mosque. Ignoring for just a moment (I will come back to it) the idea of preventing a people from peacefully pursuing their religion, this really got started with plans to build a Muslim Community Center near the World Trade Center site.

The general consensus was "we don't want a mosque in sight of the 9/11 attacks." Other opinions were "This is an insult to the victims of 9/11," "Islam has a history of building mosques over the sites of their victories," and "mosques are monuments to terrorism."

In regards to the New York City plans, I suppose it's completely understandable that the city might harbor some resentment and not want a mosque visible from the World Trade Center site. What makes it confusing is that the planned building is two blocks away, will not be a mosque, and not look different from other buildings surrounding it. Yet some people act as if they're performing the equivalent of putting a Japanese monument next to Pearl Harbor.

Oh wait.

Anyway, so New York has some grounds for complaint, but did I miss the news of Muslim terrorists attacking Murfreesboro? Or Chicago? I can't imagine Fox News would've neglected to inform me about the attack on Riverside County.

So what we have here is a growing number of Americans deciding that the rights guaranteed under the Constitution just don't apply if we don't like the extreme elements of your religion. This is totally understandable; after all, Christian extremists have never taken part in anything so horrendous as what Islamic jihadists do.

Nothing like genocide, elimination of liberal elements, destruction of the environment and native cultures, and more genocide. And that doesn't even get into whether or not abortion clinic bombings and the shooting of doctors constitutes terrorism (it does).

Bottom line is; there are some pretty bad Muslims out there, and the way they're portrayed by today's media doesn't really do them any favors. What tends to get forgotten are the millions of Muslims in America living and working here peacefully, just like every Catholic, Jew, Methodist, Hindu, Agnostic, Wiccan, or Sun-Worshipper* that's not also a total jerk. Speaking from what I think is a pretty reasonable outside perspective, however, I've never had a debate with a Muslim about religion that was any more or less fervent than what I would get from a devout Christian. The practitioners of humanity's major religions all carry their (remarkably similar) beliefs close to their hearts and want the right to express them fully and peacefully, while disregarding those which don't ring true on a personal level or that they understand to be a corruption of their faith. So, and this may come as a shock to you, just because there's a Muslim cleric out there putting a jihad on America doesn't mean they're all going to start strapping on dynamite vests anymore than one Christian leader's beliefs means everyone is going to protest at military funerals because there are gay people in the world.

So to wrap up, yeah, we've got problems, and we rely on our duly elected politicians to take care of them for us. Only, those politicians aren't going to take on problems that won't look good on the campaign trail. That makes it incumbent upon us to demand that the real problems are the ones being tackled, not the scapegoats or red herrings. Or just hope one comes along smart enough to know the difference, and charismatic enough to convince us, too. In the meantime, though, when we start thinking about our problems, let's make sure we keep a clear head when assigning blame.

*religions listed in order of how seriously they are taken by the rest of the world

Monday, August 9, 2010

Doesn't Make It Not Hurt

I don't want to break the rules of private discourse, but I need your help here. You being, I guess, the all-powerful, all-knowing Internet. This set of private messages is the result of a Facebook status/wall argument, which I decided, after a bit of soul-searching, to nip in the bud.

Title: just so you know...
I'm not defriending you because you hold a different political belief, I am defriending you because I just can't associate myself with a person who thinks that basic rights to live as equals in a society do not belong to every (non-criminal) person on the planet.

While I appreciate your candor, I'm not saying that at all. I've said multiple times that I simply don't care about the issue and didn't fully understand it. Now that I know a little more about it I feel it's a states' rights matter and not something the federal government should ever get involved in. But my different point of view doesn't really matter does it? I don't openly support or oppose it, therefore I have become the enemy. For someone who proudly proclaims that there should be equal treatment for all, it seems that my notions aren't even allowed equal consideration as valid. But that's alright, I still consider you to have been one of my friends.

It just makes me incredibly sad for you that you think staying neutral on something like this is worth defending. Yes, we were friends, but when it comes to gay rights I draw a line in the sand. You care or don't. You're with progress, or you're not. If you can't be bothered to worry about the feelings of people who just want to gain the rights of every straight married couple in this country, then I'm afraid I can't be bothered to worry about your feelings of being "equally considered." I hope you can find in your heart to care about the world around you, but until then I find it sad and unhealthy to associate myself with such ambivalence.

I just... am I wrong? Should I back down and be nice and preserve a friendship that (I feel) was largely past-tense anyway? Am I truly a hypocrite? Would I be more hypocritical if I didn't confront this person? Am I worrying about this way too much?

Facebook, for all its evils, is the reflection of myself that I want the world to see. The myself that has a message of love and support, not ambivalence. And having something like the things this person said on my public wall made me feel... dirty. And hypocritical. And a bit misrepresented. How could I be Facebook friends with a person who simply "doesn't care" about basic civil rights? I would almost rather this person be vehemently against gay marriage than ambivalent. Ambivalence is toxic, and contagious. And, I don't know, just not worth a Facebook friendship. It seems.