The USA has undergone a massive dumbing down in the past decade (not that we were ever the most intelligent of nations, mind you…). A confluence of factors has led us to a state where we think it is just hunky-dory that we have a Vice Presidential candidate that peppers her speech with “You Betcha,” winks at the crowd, and knows wolf killing like the back of her hand but can’t name more than one Supreme Court Case. Likewise, many don’t seem too bothered by the huge educational and intellectual discrepancies between the Mcain/Palin ticket and the Obama/Biden ticket. (As various versions of the educational background comparison posts peppering the web reveal, M/P are the flunkies and O/B the grads. See, for example, here and here.) Yet, it would be ELITIST if we elected someone really intelligent. We need to vote for “real Americans” (gag) – you know ones who don’t like them city folks, think community organizing is for liberal commies, and love ‘em some weapons to kill wolves, bear, and Asians (on McCain’s anti-Asian racism, see this book). Plus, it’s so much easier (and apparently more fun) to focus on skin color and celebrity cavorting. The VP candidate on Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin telling her “she is way hotter in person”? Cool!
I wonder how many other countries around the world that actually still value education, intellectual debate, ‘high’ culture (rather than Girls Gone Wild and The Man Show) look at us in horror. “How did that sad nation avoid evolution?” they must wonder. “How did a nation run by man-children (the top of which brags that he doesn’t read) ever get so much power?” Of course, as they read papers and news magazines, as they follow world news and exercise their brains, they surely see how this has happened – it is a case of a bully and his gang using threats, lies, and fear to takeover the playground (or, in this case, the world).
And how funny that a nation that is de-volving rather than evolving in such obvious ways is currently on the rampage to DENY evolution and act as if we were all prancing around with dinosaurs 6,000 years ago. Perhaps our own failed evolution here in the US has led us to be more prone to denying evolution exists – a denial many would like us to teach to children – you know, because the bible is such a nicer story with neat Saints and stuff – it is far more useful to learn about Eve’s fall rather than scientific mumbo-jumbo. Who needs to know evolutionary science when there are so many more important things to teach – like sexism, prejudice, and out and out hate?
I can hear the cries from the Yes on 8 bible band that “Teaching children religion is not about teaching hate!” Oh really? Well, the Christianity I see evidence of in mainstream society is all about hate – hating gays, hating sex, hating science, hating other religions (especially Islam). It is about teaching children that “God loves us all,” but HE really only loves heterosexuals, Americans, Christians (aAnd loves men more –wait a second, is God gay? Come to think of it, isn’t there quite a bit of homo-eroticism in the “good book”? All that male bonding and male love…Was the last supper actually a gay dinner party? Looks that way according to some of the paintings I have seen…Anyhow, I digress.)
I know not all religions teach hate, I know many churches are working to progress ideas about “loving one another” (regardless of sexuality or nationality), and I personally know many religious people who are kind, good-hearted, non-judgmental, and anti-racist/sexist/homophobic. Yet, if I were to judge religion via what I have seen in my region surrounding Prop 8 and Prop 4, as well as via news coverage of these Propositions, I would have to say that, in these cases, religion is being used to spread hatred and lies.
I recently drove passed an entire cadre of Yes on 8 sign wavers. Many of the signs read “Vote yes on 8. Protect religious freedom.” How is a homophobic law based on denying rights to all people equally ‘protecting religious freedom’? Oh, I get it – they mean the freedom to hate, to judge, to disqualify any deemed “Others” from fair and just treatment.
I assume the misleading tag-line about religious freedom is referring to the false claim that priests will be FORCED to marry same sex couples if Prop 8 fails to pass. Yes, hordes of lesbian on motorcycles will roar down church aisles, tie up unsuspecting priests, wrap them in a rainbow flag, and force them to marry non-heterosexuals.
Perhaps the “Yes on 8” ideology is a case of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” (The famous Shakespeare line that indicates one is objecting so strongly that one loses credibility. The phrase is often used to indicate that someone’s ‘protest’ points out their guilt. Or, that their objection is denial based – meaning, they are protesting something based on guilt, complicity, or to distance themselves from their true actions/desires.) In other words, are the Yes on 8 people so busy “protecting marriage” because they themselves fear their own sexuality and desires? If the ‘love between a man and a woman’ is so damn natural, why does it need laws to ‘protect’ it?
All that being said, the good religious voices (or, in my book, the one’s that care about social justice for all) are being pretty well silenced by the religio-crazies. As Rabbi Elliot Dorff notes,
“Much has been made recently of faith leaders expressing support for Proposition 8, California’s measure on the November ballot that would eliminate the right to marry for thousands of committed gay and lesbian couples. Speaking less loudly – or perhaps ignored by media outlets hungry for controversy – have been the voices of thousands of other clergy members: Episcopalians and Methodists, Quakers and Unitarians, Muslims and Buddhists, and Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative Jews.”
So, why are the voices of No on 8 clergy members not heard – or at least not heard as widely – as the Yes-on-8-We-support-hate group? Well, I think this again has to do with the whole de-volving of our culture. We have de-volved into a society that thrives on controversy, on soundbites and headlines rather than analysis, on ‘extreme news’ that functions to grab attention rather than to educate. How ‘extreme’ is it to claim that if marriage is going to be a right, it needs to be one all people can partake in? It’s so much more exciting to focus on how a priest is going to be forced to marry two men or how teachers will be giving lessons on homosexual lovin’ to 5 year olds…
Yet, the claim that any clergy member will be forced to do anything by Prop 8 is an outright lie. As Dorff further notes:
“under California law, no pastor, rabbi, priest or imam from any denomination can be forced to marry a same-sex couple against his or her will. Religious groups and clergy members have a constitutionally protected right to celebrate or refuse to celebrate religious marriages based on the tenets of their particular faith…
…Unfortunately the proponents of Prop 8 are using falsehoods and scare tactics to try and sway voters. As I said above, there is NOTHING in Prop 8 that would affect any religion or religious ceremony.”
The Rabbi also does a fine job of elucidating how Prop 8 wouldn’t protect or bring about “religious freedom” (as it claims), but, rather, would curtail religious freedom:
“…Proposition 8 would prevent thousands of faith leaders like me from following the dictates of our own denominations and consciences by not allowing us to marry gay and lesbian members of our communities. It essentially accepts only the interpretation of some denominations, but not those of many others, about what constitutes the “sacred” institution of marriage. That means the government, and not our own faiths, is telling us whom we can marry.”
As for the other claim, that Prop 8 will hinder “educational freedom” and teachers will be forced to instruct children about homosexuality, well, this one is preposterous too. As if all schools will bring in a “it’s great to be gay” rainbow colored pamphlet the day after 8 fails… yeah, right. Plus, wouldn’t it actually be useful for the at least 10% of kids that are not heterosexual to learn about homosexuality? Or should we just burn the kids exhibiting non-heterosexuality at the stake right now? I am sure James Dobson would provide the wood at no cost…Fannie’s Room points to the hypocrisy surrounding this “we can’t teach kids about same sex marriage” camp as follows:
“It’s not okay to teach kids about same-sex marriage but it is okay to promote dishonest propaganda and asinine slippery slope arguments in order to vilify same-sex couples as playing a key role in the End of the World!”
Yes, apparently dishonesty is fine and dandy as long as its done in the name of the children, in the name of “traditional marriage.” Apparently all those biblical injunctions to be honest, to love they neighbor, to treat others as you wish to be treated, well those can all be set aside when it comes to same sex love. As the post here reveals, the “Yes on 8” ads are chock full of not only misleading information, but of downright lies. Oh, is THAT what they mean by “protect religious freedom” – they mean protect the freedom to lie to get what they want? Huh. (Furthermore, the ‘traditional marriage’ issue is fraught with complexities that neither side of the Prop 8 divide is regularly addressing — the institution of marriage itself is questionable and problematic in many ways. The continuing construction of women as property within marriage, as well as the state sanctioned control of marriage, is perhaps something we should also be considering. However, if we are going to keep this flawed institution, everyone should be allowed to take part. For more on this line of argument, see my earlier post here.)
The Yes on 8 crew that live in my neighborhood are so blinded by the light of their own hypocrisy that they fail to see that their lovely little signs illustrate a same sex marriage image along with the ‘protect marriage’ logo. The sign is intended to represent a man and a woman (characterized by her skirt) holding hands above two children (one presumably a boy as he is in pants and bigger, the other supposedly a girl, smaller, next to mom and also in a skirt – so, yes, in ‘traditional families’ females must wear skirts! This law I am sure is somewhere in the bible. I will have to check here). Anyhow, when the sign is viewed through the sunlight (as it invariably is in San Diego) the mother’s skirt from the other side of the sign shows through and thus it looks like both adult images are wearing skirts. It looks like two women in skirts holding hands to celebrate ‘protecting marriage’!! Ah, poetic, illustrative (and, if you are so inclined to believe, divine) justice!
Please Californians, don’t do our supposedly progressive state wrong, vote no on Prop 8.