30 August 2010

You're not outraged by this?

On the internet and in-person, I been talking around Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC yesterday. It seems like everyone is talking about it. And, although I consider myself a person with a diverse social group, I do have to admit that I do not have a social group wherein I'm finding many people who support the theory of the rally or the rhetoric that surrounds it.

In my extended family, I absolutely do have people who probably support this rally. I know that my partner's uncle believes that Glenn Was Right (except for the fact that the rally wasn't Christian enough). So it's not like I don't have the opportunity.

The thing that has struck me about many of these conversations is that people expect me to be outraged. They expect that I will have a litany of condemnation for this rally, for the rhetoric espoused, and the impacts these kinds of events could have.

And, certainly, I have a certain amount of sadness. I would be remiss in my position as a human being, let alone an educator, to not comment on the horribly racist and classist displays of rage that were applauded in DC this weekend. I would be giving in if I didn't note that rallies such as these were thinly-veiled excuses for lancing of hateful boils that will poison our society.

And then people ask if I'm outraged and all I can think of is this (problematic) response by The West Wing's CJ Cregg.

Am I outraged? I'm barely surprised.

This is coming from a man who is a stand up comedian who has explicitly stated in interviews in the NY Times that he's "not a journalist" and is "just a radio clown." This is coming from a man who has tried to translate his fake punditry to being a legitimate leader of the American Right. This is a man who has condemned families of victims of 9/11, insists on saying that President Obama has a "deepseeded hatred for white people," and who regularly wallows in conspiracy theories. This is a man who the far-right politicians and pundits condemn as racist and dangerous.

This is a man who makes money off of our attention, who preaches hatred as a standard to bear. This is a man who draws scarily-large popular following of people who don't appear to know that schools can no longer require children to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the late insertion of the term "Under God" to catch Communists in the 1950s, who insist on believing that President Obama was foreign-born (which he tangibly is not) and that he is a Muslim (a faith he has never claimed). Because Glenn Beck does most effectively what we, as a culture, respond to - he trades on fear and ignorance.

On October 28, 2010, Glenn Beck brought together a rally where white, middle-class, conservative people were given a platform to vent their rage at a world that largely benefits them. He attempted to coopt the American Civil Rights movement and claim a "return" to a kind of values that never existed while riling up xenophobic and racist anger against others.

Am I outraged? No, bloggers. That is Glenn Beck, and we give him the power to do exactly what he does.

We watch his television shows, we listen to his radio, we buy his fear-mongering. We respond to what Glenn Beck does in a way that makes it effective. And it keeps happening.

Until that changes, I don't have the energy to be outraged. Just sad.

08 August 2010

Black Happy at the Knitting Factory

There's something about a local or regional band, one that was at least as good, if not better than, the stuff that was on the radio at the time. For a lot of people around my age who grew up in the Northwest, one of those bands was Black Happy.

Black Happy is a band that is frequently mis-categorized, which is very likely a part of the reason they never hit outside of this region. They're a kind of rock/metal band backed with horns. So ... are they ska? Nope. Punk? Not really. Skunk (again, a term that only existed for a very specific time period)? Nope.

They're just Black Happy, this goofy little band from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho who most people couldn't help put love once they actually heard them.

Because of a Facebook fanpage titled "Black Happy should reunite," the 8 original members came together this month for a five-show reunion tour through Seattle, Portland, and Spokane. Yes, apparently, change can come from the internet. And, thus, the mini-reunion tour begins.

I had the opportunity to catch the last show of their tour last night at The Knitting Factory in Spokane, WA (a venue that I do NOT love). I haven't attended a show since I broke my leg last summer and I wasn't certain I could handle the front of the show - I'm still pretty brittle and re-breaking my leg was not the way I wanted to enjoy the show. I did, however, and I'm really glad I did.

I didn't get into Black Happy while they were still together - 1992-1995, I was still in Kalispell, MT. I had heard of them and, I think, I'd listened to Friendly Dog Salad at one point, probably in my friends Nate and Cody's apartment (do you remember your first friends to get their own place? That was Nate and Cody). My musical taste was all over the map in the mid-90s - Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos, TONS of ska, Nine Inch Nails, Leonard Cohen, Bad Religion, The Ramones - and I'm actually not sure that I would have appreciated Black Happy as much then as I did later.

I really got into Black Happy a few years after their breakup - 1997 or so - after I'd moved to this area. One of the things that I found most intriguing was the way people talked about this band, like they were their friends, their family, THEIR band. And, in a lot of ways, that's what you're allowed to be when you're a small-town band that is dearly loved in your region but unheard of outside of it.

For a short period of time, Black Happy was our band. And, for a few days this month, they were again. The show was fast, it was high-energy, and it was exactly what I'd always imagined seeing them live would be like.

Sure, we were all a little older. Sure, the punks in the crowd were, like me, mostly normal-hair colored and had dug our old chucks out of the pile of work shoes and running shoes for the gym. But there was no shame in being an aged punk - we were all in it together.

And it was fun as hell.

If you've ever wondered if you should go to see your old favorites, worried that it might be ruined? Take a chance. It was worth it this time.

04 August 2010

How to Be Alone (a poem)

How to be alone, a poem

This is truly one of the most beautiful poems I've heard and the video is gorgeous, as well.

you'll find that its fine to be alone
once you're accepting it

Marriage Equality and Prop 8

Today, Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California's Proposition 8 today, the proposition that declared that the only marriages recognized in the state of California would be those between a man an a woman, also invalidating the 18,000 marriages that had been performed in the state between two men or two women.

In his landmark decision, Judge Walker declared that Prop 8 fails in its responsibility to advance any rational bias in its construction, stating that "Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples."

My relationship with marriage equality/gay marriage/whatever I'm supposed to call it now is complicated. A few years ago, was the coordinator of a political coalition in my area that fought for many political and social equalities from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) folks. As often happens with those kinds of coalitions, one of the major issues that members were focusing on was marriage equality. Part of that came about because two of the plaintiff's in the 2006 suit to challenge Washington State's "Defense" of Marriage Act were on my coalition.

In March 2006, their challenge failed. And I held a rally that allowed people to express their disappointment and their rage, despite the City of Spokane refusing to issue us a permit and having no location for the rally. And people were upset - they felt marginalized, like their lives were lesser than others. And that was awful to watch.

But it was also strange to have people assume that I shared their rage and their pain. While I could see it, while I could sympathize with it, I didn't. I don't.

I want marriage equality because I realize that there is a gay man out there right now who is being refused access to his partner in the ER. I want marriage equality for the two women who are terrified that one of them will die of cancer and the other will have no legal relationship to their children. I want marriage equality so that my friends don't have to leave the country because they can't marry their foreign national partners and help them get green cards, so they don't have to pay millions of dollars more over their lifetimes to have the same lives, so they don't have sheafs of make-shift legal paperwork to give themselves the pretense of equal rights.

I want those things and I know that access to the legal institution of marriage in the US is the most expedient way to those goals.

But what I really want? Is for the institution of marriage to have no legal meaning at all. For people to be able to determine their own medical authorities, those who will receive their social security (for as long as it lasts), those who parent with them, those who they share finances with, those who can visit them in the ER. I want to take away the legal rights associated with marriage and divorce that from the social institution.

Because I don't actually know that the state has any business in my personal life, let alone my sex life. And don't forget - as long as a marriage isn't consummated, it can still be annulled in the US. Legally, if you don't screw, the marriage didn't happen.

I want the government out of my bed and out of my pants and out of everyone else's, as well. It's illogical to continue a legal institution that doesn't serve a benefit to the country as a whole and, frankly, is kind of creepy in the way its implemented. And this is not in spite of the relationships and marriages that people I respect have, but because of them. I want those relationships to have more meaning than legal chattel.

But that's a long-shot goal. That's something that won't happen for a long time, if ever.

So I remain cautiously happy at Judge Walker's decision. Not because I want to marry, but because if anyone can, we all should be able to.

03 August 2010

Haitus: Over

I apologize for being MIA for a bit there. I've been working on my second master's thesis, enjoyed floating the river that runs through my city, working 10 hour days, and reading.

I've been doing a LOT of reading.

I've also been soliciting donations for the annual Masquerade fundrasier for the amazing LGBT youth center in my (small) city, Odyseey Youth Center. It's been awesome to see the support of the local community and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy soliciting donations for auctions. It's one of the things I'm best at - connecting people who care about an issue with ways that they can help.

I have some posts in the queue, one about ABC Family's Huge, one about academia's points of disconnection with student affairs, and one about collaboration.

They're coming. Thanks for sticking around.