Monday, July 6, 2015

Week of 07/06/2015

Dominion Tantrums
There is no doubt that the Supreme Court ruling on June 26th, 2015 was a monumental day for America.  It finally answered the question that was two decades in the making, and it toppled a mindset that was centuries old.
As a functional libertarian, I consider the Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges regarding same-sex marriages to be the right decision.  Not that it benefits me in any way, because it doesn’t, but in terms of it being a matter of individual freedom pertaining to consenting adults, it was the right decision to make.
And I’m proud to know that the public by-in-large has become more welcoming of same-sex couples than they were even twenty years ago, when this issue began to seriously manifest on the national scene.
But at the same time, I am ashamed at the outcome.  Not because of the majority opinion, mind you.  But because of how the justices in the minority behaved themselves on this matter.
One would expect the justices, even in defeat, to have some measure of decorum.  To be able to recognize their opinions to be in the minority and yet remain cordial.  After all, even the minority opinion carries some weight in future discussions.  And sometimes, in a few rare circumstances, the justices make future decisions that reverse those of their predecessors.
But what came from the writings of those in the minority opinion for this case can be likened to those of petulant children being told they can’t have their way anymore.
Justice Antonin Scalia, the self-professed constitutional scholar, whined about how “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”
I’m waiting for him to hold his breath until he turns blue and then we’ll all be sorry.
Your “ruler”, sir?  Your “ruler” is the Constitution!  Article VI, second paragraph, “supreme Law of the Land” ring any bells?
Scalia pompously argued that the issue of same-sex marriages was supposedly settled back when the Fourteenth Amendment was supposedly ratified.
This is what he said: When the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868, every State limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so. That resolves these cases.”
So according to his own rationality that you just read, there supposedly was a narrow time period to decide what should and should not be covered under the Fourteenth Amendment, and when nobody spoke up back in the 19th century, during a period of rampant and unchecked fundamentalism, that supposedly “resolved” this issue now and forevermore.
What a piece of self-serving excrement from a self-righteous flatulating sphincter muscle!
Even the Koch-owned Reason Foundation is questioning Scalia’s supposed stance as a “constitutional scholar”, to which I ask what the hell took them so long.
I would dare suspect that Justice Scalia, much like others of his ilk, are only as much of a “constitutional scholar” when it serves to validate his own interpretations.  And when the two differ, then he claims to channel “original intent” or “literal interpretation” like he was some cheap black-robed carnival medium.
How appropriate, then, that Scalia would project his own faults onto others with this passage from his dissenting tantrum: The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.
And here my own fortune cookie says “Pompous jackass knows no faults, especially his own.”  Oh, and my winning numbers are 6, 26, 20, and 15.
But perhaps the most disgusting and embarrassing part of the dissent came from Chief Justice John Roberts.  If you thought that Scalia’s tantrums were petty and self-serving, check this out:
“If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
With all due respect for the office, Chief Justice Roberts, you, sir, are not only wrong, but you are an ignorant and arrogant jackass, and an embarrassment to those of us who understand and defend the proper role of the judiciary in America.
The Constitution had everything to do with the victory you tried to deny, sir!  Everything!  Article IV, section 2, talking about how “the Citizens of each state shall be entitled to Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”  Article VI, declaring the Constitution to be the “supreme Law of the Land”.  And, of course, the Fourteenth Amendment, which prevents the states from denying those same citizens to the “Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States” from Article IV.  An Amendment, I must point out, that was ratified because there were states that did just that in the name of slavery... a.k.a. “protecting our way of life”.
And who are you, sir... who are you... to declare that a state can somehow override the Constitution and its amendments in one instance but not in others?
Of course, we know who Justice Scalia’s supposed “Ruler” really is, right?  God!  Or “God” as defined by his personal interpretation and personal beliefs and then imposed through the force of almighty government.
Because let’s get brutally honest here... what really got overturned with this decision wasn’t just a ban on same-sex marriages or a ban on recognizing same-sex marriages.  What really got overturned was dominionism.  The pompous, self-centered, self-righteous, self-serving mindset that decrees that the whole world must be forced to reflect the dominant religious mindset of Scalia and those of his ilk.
In short, dominionism says that a certain group is empowered by God to impose their will and their way of thinking into everything they see and everything they survey.  And that their will and their way of thinking is to override and supersede all other thoughts, including overriding the very tenants of freedom we supposedly cherish and that we take for granted on a continual basis.
You see, according to dominionist thinking, the United States Constitution is not... I repeat, not... the “supreme Law of the Land”.  It is the dominionist’s personal religious beliefs that supposedly serve as the last and final word on everything.  Their beliefs and their will supposedly overrule everything else.
Sound familiar?  It should.  It’s the same mindset used by the Islamic State, and Bocco Haram, and the Taliban.  Only our dominionists did it before theirs were even born.  And our people don’t use a bomb and a gun to impose their will, because they have long enjoyed using the power of government.
It is dominionist thinking based on self-serving religious beliefs that kept same-sex marriages illegal.  It is dominionist thinking that justified and supported outdated sodomy laws even when the rest of the world ignored them.  It is dominionist mindsets that used fear and hate to shove the fraudulently-named “Defense of Marriage Act” through Congress two decades ago on the mere rumor that California would legalize same-sex marriages.  (Turned out it would happen in Massachusetts first.)  The same fear and hate that was used for states to pass their own bans on legalizing or recognizing same-sex marriages in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.  The same fear and hate that is being used to this very day to rush through fraudulently-named “Religious Freedom” legislation in order to supposedly “protect” what is left of dominionist thinking in society.
And it is dominionist thinking that you hear being mourned by the self-righteous “champions of the family”.  Dominionist thinking that says that the courts supposedly have “no authority” to change what they have pompously declared to be the final word on what constitutes a marriage.  Even though marriage as an institution was traditionally considered a business and political negotiation.  Even though marriage traditionally treated women as a commodity to be possessed and bartered.  Even though there was supposedly no such thing as annulments or divorce in a truly traditional marriage.  It was traditionally for life.  Your life, not just the life of your spouse.  Where was the talk of tradition when some of these dominionists walked down the isle for a second or a third or a fourth time?
Oh, right, I forgot, this is “not about them” is it?  It’s about one social institution dictating what another institution should and should not be.
Of course this is not the end of the legal issue or of the battle.  This is just the beginning.  Dominionist refuse to recognize that they have lost.  They’ve already started to fight back on the local level, trying to reassert their arrogant and self-serving beliefs in defiance of the very Constitution that they claim to cherish.  Local government officials are refusing to do their duties, pompously believing that their personal and individual beliefs override the very laws they swore on their own bibles to protect and defend.  And the only way they will comprehend that reality will be if they are stripped of their cushy positions and made to realize that the world has not nor will it come to an end simply because they’re not the center of it.
The so-called “great and glorious institution of marriage” survived poor people marrying for reasons other than for politics or commerce.  It survived couples of mixed religions marrying, to which I would have otherwise never been born.  It survived couples of mixed races marrying, to which Justice Clarence Thomas and President Barack Obama would have otherwise never been born.  It survived the multiple marriages and divorces of Rush Limbaugh, Marilyn Monroe, Dennis Rodman, Newt Gingrich, Britney Spears, and even Kim Kardashian.  It will survive Adam and Steve being recognized as a married couple.  It is the dominionist thinking that has latched on to this institution like the parasite that it is that should and needs to perish.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Week of 06/29/2015

Rebel Hell
It must suck to be a Confederate supporter right about now.
I know some folks are scratching their heads and saying “What are you talking about, David?  The Confederate States?  As in the Civil War?  That war ended over a century ago!”
Yes, that’s true, but not in the minds of many here in the American Southeast.
I remember in the early 1990’s, just before the pre-Olympic migration, when I made my first trip to Atlanta.  I met a guy who thought I looked rather curious.  Here I was dressed somewhat professionally, wearing what he thought was cowboy boots (they were just shoes), and had a car with a Georgia tag on it.  After a quick introduction, he realized from my accent that I was from New England, which blew his mind because he thought from my shoes that I was from Texas.  He found out I was in the city for a job interview and was just killing some time before then by visiting the local mall.  So he told me to be careful about my “Yankee” accent because there were plenty of folk that were still pissed about what Sherman did to Atlanta all those years ago during the “War of Northern Aggression”.
Take note that he did not say “Civil War”.  He refused to say it was a “Civil War”.  It was all the fault of those “Damned Yankees”.  And he told me that was the prevailing thought of many in the area.
And having lived here in this part of America longer than I was in New England, I have to agree with him.  There are many here that refuse to accept their ancestors’ role in the Civil War, or that they lost that war.  They continue to adhere to old thinking and old mentalities and cling to old symbols.  They call these “heritage” and “tradition”.
How hard it must be for them to comprehend that what they see as “heritage”, others see as symbols of hatred and division.
Once upon a time, the Georgia flag was seen as a symbol so politically caustic, it would crush the career of any elected official who dared talk about changing it to remove its Confederate symbols.  Never mind that it was changed in the 1950’s to show “Southern solidarity” against the Civil Rights movement.  Never mind that it was used by groups like the Klu Klux Klan to show their hatred of other races.  For the vast majority of Georgians outside of Atlanta (or at least those that voted), that flag was “heritage”.  Touch it at your political peril.
Then Governor Roy Barnes did something unthinkable.  He had it changed.  And then his successor changed it again.  And even though the “heritage” crowd threw fits and screamed about recalls, their tantrums went nowhere.  Their political “influence” was gone.
How sad it is to know, then, that their real end would come with both a whimper and a bang.
A 21-year old loser, unemployed, seemingly living off of a steady stream of hatred, brought the “bang”, thanks to his attack on a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  He killed nine people in cold blood, including the pastor of that church.
And when the question was asked of why he did it, people looked into his lonely little loser of a life and they saw all of the rhetoric and the symbols of hate.  All of those Confederate flags, along with the flag of pre-Apartheid South Africa.
Now the Confederate flag is an endangered object.  It’s being torn down off government buildings.  It’s being removed from government monuments.  It’s been pulled off the shelves at Wal-Mart.  You can’t buy it on eBay or Amazon anymore.  Even the General Lee, the car seen in the “Dukes of Hazard”, is having to hide its “Stars and Bars” roof.
It’s sad.  It’s really very sad to have to educate the stubborn that even after a hundred years, they still lost.  They lost then, and they’re still losing now.
Let’s get brutally honest here... this is what a century of selective ignorance will do to people.  A hundred years of delusional thinking, of failing to recognize that your ancestors and predecessors did lose that war, and of the continued denial that the flag you claim is “heritage” is being used to this day as a symbol of division and discrimination.
Here’s the truly insane part: this is the same faction of American people that will proudly display the Confederate flag, while at the same time demanding that we all worship and praise the American flag, even though the former was designed to oppose and overrule the latter.  Make up your minds, guys.  You can’t keep singing “God Bless America” while at the same time waiving a flag that screams “Screw You, America”!
Then again, that’s also a century’s worth of selective ignorance at work.
Look, I get that you want people to remember some of the other reasons why your ancestors and predecessors fought in the Civil War.  You want people to understand that it wasn’t entirely about slavery.  I get that, just like I understand that not everyone that fought in the American Revolution did it because of taxes, or that we went to Iraq because of supposed weapons of mass destruction.
But at some point, you have to accept the reality that, one, the Confederate States lost the Civil War, and that, two, the flag that you continue to waive to remember that period has been and continues to be used to promote hatred and division.  That is how the rest of the world sees that flag.  Whatever noble ideas you may have about that flag and what it means have long been perverted.
I’m not in the camp that says that everything connected to the Confederate States needs to be erased or obliterated.  I’m not saying we need to sand-blast Stone Mountain or dig up the Confederate graves.  I think that destroying those symbols, while briefly gratifying, is just as wrong as those that live in selective ignorance of history.  But I am saying that history needs to be recognized and placed in its proper perspective... in the past.
And if you think that the South will somehow “rise again”, then you need to accept that the only way it can do so is after you accept and learn from the lessons of history.  Because as long as you are fixated on the mindsets of the past, then you will continue to be mired in its failures.