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November 2003 Archives

November 11, 2003

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Thinking Politically 2

I was told a story that relates to affirmative action in a way.

A coach was once asked if, given two athletes that could run from one end of the field to the other in the same amount of time, same grades, same build, same height/weight, except one of them had excellent form and the other had lousy form, which would he recruit and/or want on his team. The answer? The one with lousy form. Because the one with great form is fine, but the one with lousy form can be trained to be even better.

Similarly, if you have two people equally qualified, and yet one has raised themselves from the ghetto, and the other has come down from Hyde Park (affluent part of town), pick the one from the ghetto. They are going places, and will improve faster than the one who didn't.

Interesting way to look at it.

November 20, 2003

Gay Rights

A little background first... I subscribe to CRISIS Magazine's e-newsletter. It's a hyper-conservative Catholic magazine, and every so often (once a week or so) they send out a newsletter with the latest bits of news in conservative Catholic circles. I subscribed because I saw an ad advertising "10 Things Every Catholic MUST Know", and was curious. I've kept it... well, because it's as informative as it is infuriating. Anyway... So I got an email from them today, giving kudos to the Senate for voting (unanimously) to award the Pope a Congressional Medal of Freedom, and noting that Archbishop O'Malley of Boston said something that could be construed as giving the Voice of the Faithful organization approval, and finally discussing the recent goings-on in Massachusetts. First, the Voice of the Faithful... it's a group of Catholics who would like a little bit more democracy and flock-based influence in the decisions of the Catholic hierarchy. This is a simplistic way of looking at them, but check their website and make your own decision on that score. I find it interesting that hardline conservative Catholics are against this... but on the other hand, it's nontraditional, non-authoritarian, and in all other ways a new idea. Obviously, conservatives will reject it. I just hadn't thought it would be objectionable. Ah, well... Now, the goings on in Massachusetts... If you haven't been paying attention, the Massachusetts Supreme Court recently decided that denying gay people the right to marry each other was contrary to the state's constitution, and therefore laws that did that must be changed---they gave the legislature 180 days to fix it (it being the existing laws that prevent gay marriage). CRISIS is, predictably, not happy with this situation, for a myriad of reasons mostly stemming from their belief in the moral authority of Leviticus, which has a passage that is frequently construed as banning homosexual activity. The basis of the belief is, as I said, passages in Leviticus, a chapter of the Old Testament. The Old Testament, and particularly Leviticus, is a listing of ancient Jewish civil laws, including among other things a prohibition from touching the skin of a pig (outlawing football) and allowing you to sell your children into slavery and mandating that you kill people who work on Saturday. So, obviously, it's a strict authority (nevermind that Jesus essentially said "look, these laws are getting out of hand, that's not how you get into heaven, listen to me, I'll tell you how things are."). Additionally, the passages in question (and the ones surrounding them) are specifically talking about pagan temple prostitutes, not the general populace. (There are much more thorough explanations out there... here and here for example) So, big whoop, they're misinterpreted and misapplied. The interesting part of the argument that CRISIS makes is that marriage confers certain benefits in our society, from health insurance to the right to see and/or make decisions about your partner when they are having severe medical difficulties. These benefits are mandated by law, and if gay marriage becomes legal, could be forced upon conservative churches and charities that find such things to be contrary to their beliefs. To be honest, I hadn't thought about it like that before. On the other hand, when we decided to integrate schools and to make it illegal to force black people to use different drinking fountains, we had to deal with lots of people who didn't like it (some people even believed (religiously) that black people were not human). That's what happens when society decides you're WRONG. The argument, however, is that this is censorship. HOW??? People disturb me.

November 22, 2003

Lies and Lying Liars

I found this cartoon, and thought it was hilarious: http://images.ucomics.com/comics/nq/2003/nq031122.gif It makes a point, similar to the one Al Franken makes in his book Lies and the Lying Liars who tell them. Back in the day, a technique in politics that was looked down upon was something called "mudslinging", or saying nasty and possibly untrue things about your opponent. Political discussion in this country these days is dominated by exactly that, except the people throwing mud around have lots more mud to throw than they used to, and are much more sophisticated about throwing it (and particularly, since conservatives are in power and are taking over the media (yes, I'm talking about YOU, Fox News, Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, et al.), the conservative side of the political spectrum). Loaded polls ("how would your opinion change if you found out candidate X had done Y?"), blatantly untrue books ("Treason!"), etc. etc. etc. make for some really slick mudthrowing that it can hardly be considered mudthrowing, because the term sounds so messy. If you're gonna throw mud, at least be funny about it (thank you, Al Franken). But the cartoon really speaks to something we all must have noticed by now. Our conservative champions and voiceboxes keep turning out to have nasty little secrets. Limbaugh is/was addicted to drugs, the staunchest supporters of the sanctity of marriage have had who knows how many, even Jessie Jackson was unfaithful to his wife. It's just... depressing. But, when talking about the religious right, and how unexempt the (ultra?)-conservative and/or religious right leaders seem to be from the same thing makes for some pretty spiffy cognitive dissonance. Ah, so I've gone and explained the comic's humor away... ah, well—it strikes a nerve for me.

November 23, 2003

Why do Catholics Genuflect?

I thought I had this one down… but I guess I don’t. Why do Catholics genuflect? I thought the reason why Catholics genuflected before they did stuff (like read a passage or something) was in deference to the Host (which, as we all know, is THE body of Christ—as holy as it gets). But I was just at a mass where they were genuflecting just because, to THE BIBLE. Which prompts me to wonder—why on earth would you genuflect to the Bible? They’ve got giant boxes of the things, they hand them out on street corners, there’s one in every hotel room. If we generally genuflected to the Bible, people would be genuflecting all day! I don’t get it.

Of course, thinking along these lines prompts me to wonder about something else. I’ve noticed that at every mass the priest kisses the words of the Gospel after he reads them. Why? They’re God’s Words, surely, but it’s just ink and paper. We don’t worship the words—they’re just words, it’s the IDEAS that are the really important bits. The Words are only important in as far as they convey God’s Will. Writing the Words down in the Bible is like drawing a picture—they both stand for something else! We don’t treat a picture of a king as the King, we don’t treat a Stephen King novel as Stephen King, why would you treat a late edition of the Bible that way?

This makes no sense at all.

November 25, 2003

Gay Marriage, a different way of looking at it

I was recently sent a link by a friend (Arun) that was an interestingly different perspective on the usual argument about gay marriage. Another friend and I noted that many arguments against gay marriage seem to have, at their heart, the overwhelming conviction that gay people, marriage (by way of gay sex) are “icky”. This is not particularly conducive to logical or productive discussion. But here’s the link.

Essentially, it makes the point that while you’re redefining the bounds of marriage away from the strict traditional definition, whatever your intentions are, how do you decide where to stop expanding the definition? Taking the usual arguments to their logical conclusions leads to some outcomes that are not particularly what people usually want when redefining marriage. Makes you think… and even question the institution of Marriage itself.

Some more extensive pondering is necessary, I think.

About November 2003

This page contains all entries posted to Kyle in November 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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