May 10th, 2012

A Couple of Steaming Piles of Hypocritical Crap--

Could anyone who knows anything about the current state of Wisconsin politics do anything but laugh ironically when when Scott Walker chided unions (most of whom's head offices are located out of state)for meddling in Wisconsin politics, the day after he returned from yet another fund-raising junket loaded down with money from his almost-exclusively out of state donors?

And, another entry in the "What THEY Think of US" department: yesterday's Journal Sentinel carried the front page story "Wife hits man with SUV after recall fight." It seems this Chippewa Falls man was refusing to let his ESTRANGED wife (i.e., they are on the outs--) drive to the polls on Tuesday because he disagreed with her voting plans. He repeatedly stood in front of her vehicle, jumped on the hood, and, when she attempted to drive AROUND him, jumped IN FRONT of the vehicle AGAIN, and was struck and seriously injured.

So: 1) Here's a man who thinks he's got the right to dictate how his wife votes; 2) Thinks he has the right to physically prevent her from going to the polls (probably a crime); and 3) jumps in front of an SUV to stop her voting. Loon, right?

However, the man's brother was quoted in the paper as saying, "These crazy liberal nuts are always pulling this crap." Excuse me? Seems to me the crazy is all on the (avowedly pro-Walker) side here. Not to mention that it's the PRIMARY election, for crying out loud. One more vote for Walker wouldn't have made a difference, and SOME Democrat's going to win the Democratic primary, so why the grief? I suppose one should expect a man's brother to stick up for him, but, in my opinion, it's easy to see why the couple is "estranged".

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Alison Bechdel at Boswell Books

On Monday evening the 7th, we went to Boswell Books on Farwell Avenue in Milwaukee for a reading by cartoonist and writer Alison Bechdel, creator of the "Dykes to Watch Out For" comic and author of the highly regarded graphic autobiography "Fun Home," which was concerned with her complex relationship with her father.

Now, she is touring in support of the release of her new book, "Are You My Mother?", which is her second volume of autobiography, and, as you might expect, deals with relations with her mother. This, as Bechdel admitted, was a rather more touchy task than writing "Fun Home," because, unlike her father, Bechdel's mother is still alive and able--though largely unwilling--to comment on the process.

Reading from a graphic novel to an audience would not have been optimal in years past, but, thanks to small portable projectors and programs like PowerPoint, Bechdel was able to project pictures from the first chapter of the book while giving the commentary that went along with them.

The book looks and sounds fascinating--as "Fun Home" was in that slow-motion-train-wreck sort of way--and the audience of easily 200 people was quite intrigued. There was a question and answer session after the reading, in which Bechdel said that she was essentially finished with the "Dykes" comic and had no plans for any more--a disappointment, but not a surprise, given it has been on hiatus since 2008.

We bought a copy of "Are You My Mother?" to take home and read. I'll post something here when I finish it.

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My thoughts on gay marriage

With the gay marriage issue coming back into the spotlight, it seems a good time to restate my thoughts on the subject.

In the first place, marriage qua marriage is not the holy of holies many people make out. True, it is one of the "seven sacraments" but many historians argue that, until comparatively recently--perhaps the last couple centuries--most poor people were not married in church, or even on the steps of the church, because they had no money to pay the clergyman's fee, and so either just moved in together, establishing what has become known as "common-law marriage," or had some kind of folk ceremony like "jumping the broom," both of which were socially deemed legitimate.

Second, let's not even get into the "sanctity of marriage." Deplorable as it might be, marriage is no longer "till death do us part" for half or more couples.

Third, I have never heard ANY argument, let alone a coherent one, from anyone, attempting to explain why letting homosexuals marry in some way cheapens or dilutes heterosexual marriage. This is always stated baldly as a fact, so there, and no one even attempts to explain why this is so.

Fourth, the idea that marriage (and by extension, sex) is for procreation only, was way off base from the beginning, and is totally outdated now. This position always left out the economic grounds, which historically ranged all the way from combining Princely fortunes to the poor man recruiting a helpmeet for the farming. (These days, I've known a number of happy couples get married so as to combine insurance coverage--.)

Economics is a major reason why we SHOULD allow gay marriage. Like the piece of grit at the center of a pearl, the sacrament of marriage has accreted thick layers of laws, regulations, rights and privileges related to the married state. Like the pearl, these accretion layers are not made of the same stuff as the center, but have been tacked on for numerous social and political reasons.

Really, giving legal status to a religious ceremony--the only one, that I can think of--should have been forbidden under separation of church and state, but I doubt that the Founding Fathers ever even considered that because, after all, everyone does it, right?

So, my proposal would be that we should "divorce" (so to speak) the sacrement of marriage from all those laws that refer to it, and replace all reference to marriage with "domestic partnership." A domestic partnership would be formed by filing papers at the appropriate office, just like a business partnership, and be dissolved the same way, with accounting and division of assets. Some additional procedure would need to be provided for custody of minor children, I suspect. Membership in a domestic partnership could be limited to two people of legal age to contract, regardless of sex or other consideration.

(The reason I would limit it to two people at least at first is that we haven't really even had any discussions of how heirship and custody sharing might work in families of more than two "parents" and until someone comes up with some models to discuss, we are not ready to go there.)

Then, if the partners want to have the union sanctified by their church, congregation, or coven and call it a marriage rather than a partnership, they can do so, but this would confer no additional legal status or benefits.

Pretty radical, I admit--but also rational, sensible, and fair.

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