Sunday, May 16, 2010

Student Politics are not for Sissies

Each time someone sends me a friend request on Facebook, I spend some time first thinking about whether I'm comfortable opening up myself to that person. It's not that I hide my political beliefs or my propensity to use bad language from those I know, but some of the requests I get are from people who may have just met me, and I might not have had a chance to exercise all of my colourful vocabulary in person.

It's a particular concern when I get friend requests from young people. Some of Super Son's friends have sent me requests. I like to think it is because they admire me as a brilliant conversationalist and potential mentor, a trendsetter whose style they want to emulate. Yeah....sure. It does make me wonder sometimes who else is reading my scintillating status updates and snarky comments to friends. Do groups of students gather around the computer of one who has friended me, eager to see what I've written? Not bloody likely. Are parents of some of these impressionable young persons reading my blathering, aghast at my wild liberal viewpoints on issues like health care reform, social justice and gay rights?


But I just can't lose a lot of sleep over what they think. Because although some of what I write and say is pure silliness, sometimes a tad racy (truthfully, not much worse than the level of a "that's what she said" joke), some of my posts and comments relate to my core beliefs and values. And if I'm not willing to state those positions and take action every once in a while, I'd be a pretty poor role model.

There are some evildoers from Westboro Baptist Church coming to my town, determined to picket at a local high school. You can read the details here. I posted the article on my Facebook page, and noticed that many of the local high schoolers were already doing the same thing. Word spreads pretty fast on the interwebs. Young people are organizing to take action to counter protest these haters and spread a message of acceptance and tolerance and love. Super Son is one of them. And I've volunteered to drive him and others - who have their parents' written permission (I am not stupid, after all) to the counter protest. I am proud of and impressed by these young people. They are standing up for what they believe. That takes guts. And I want to support them.

I believe there are bad guys and injustice in the world, and it's up to people like me to stand up to that to make things better. Now all I need to do is decide what to put on my counter protest sign. Leave your suggestions in the comments. The photo at the top of this post shows some examples of signs from another counter protest. They make me laugh. Laughing is good. I think God likes laughter, don't you?

Here's my theme song. What's yours?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Would YOU Do?

My second husband takes Stephen Hawking to task for his comments about time travel. Consider this my Cinco de Mayo gift to you. Enjoy with a nice glass of sangria. Then leave me a comment on this topic: What would you do if you could time travel?
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Hawking Is Such an A-Hole - Time Travel
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Civic Courage

As Super Son stays late after school each day, in rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz, (the story of a young girl's desperate struggle to return home to her beloved Uncle Henry), I am watching the news with great interest. Recently, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said something I thought was pretty darned smart:

Running a democracy takes a certain amount of civic courage.

The Oregonian editors wrote a great piece about the case involved. You can read it here. The case, Doe v. Reed, is from my home state of Washington. As the editors explain:
The court was wrestling with the nature of democracy vs. secrecy. At issue: whether people who sign ballot petitions should have a new right to add their names to ballot petitions -- anonymously.
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, a place with some very interesting politics. It wasn't until I moved out west, first to Oregon and, later, to Washington, that I learned about the initative process. Professor X and I did quite a bit of research in the 1990's on Ballot Measure 9, a precursor to the recent Proposition Hate in California. Like those two measures, the one involved in this recent court case concerns gay rights. This little gem, which I'm happy to say was resoundingly rejected by the voters, sought to overturn domestic partnership protections for gay and lesbian couples. Petition signers didn't want the public to know about their bigotry and sought to have the names remain secret. The Oregonian observed that
But by signing their names on initiative or referendum petitions, people act as citizen legislators. Yes, in the age of the Internet, it may take some special courage to let your name hang out in the public square, but that is a minimal requirement of petitioning for a change in the law. ... Signers' names should be public in the same way that lawmakers' names, are public.
Years ago, I had a mad crush on was crazy in love with deeply admired one of my political science professors. Something he said has always stuck with me. Just a pithy little truism, I suppose. But that doesn't make it any less valid.

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

I believe firmly in the sentiments expressed by this quote of Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle:

Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.

A military man, my professor undoubtedly knew of the speech of General Douglas MacArthur, in which he stated:
Last, but by no means least, courage--moral courage, the courage of one's convictions, the courage to see things through. The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It's the age-old struggle--the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other.
Maybe if people know that they can't anonymously seek to prevent others from having equal rights, they'll think again. They might ponder how their friends and neighbors would feel if their intolerance was public knowledge.

I've testified at many hearings and written many letters to the editor expressing my opinion about all sorts of issues. It's not always safe; sometimes those who disagree have confronted me and asked to take it outside. Once, I testified at a Forest Service hearing about wilderness areas and the need to protect some places from motorized vehicles. A motorcycle enthusiast got in my face when I was done speaking, and walked into the hallway with me so that he could explain that God created those wild places so that he could ride his noisy, stinky bike there. He phrased it a little differently, but he definitely mentioned that it was God's will. A friend I know testified at a hearing in Idaho on another environmental issue, only to find that his small car had been flipped upside down by angry opponents.

But we keep standing up and speaking out for what we believe.

Here's a lovely little clip from The Wizard of Oz. Just click your heels together, say "There's no place like an open democracy" and then click on the pic below.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Super Son is playing the role of Uncle Henry. He's going to be awesome.