Quick Personal Update

I just realized I haven’t blogged since July (!) so I wanted to write a quick personal update.

I am alive and well. I have re-relocated back to Chicago. We are in our new apartment but not really “settled in” yet; there is still much to do. Work has been running at ludicrous speed for me (and ludicrous levels of annoyance) and we’ve both been out of town (at different times) so we’ve been limited in what we can do. But so far, the new place is cool.

I’m in improv classes again, this time at iO. I had to start again from the beginning, at level 1. That’s been an adjustment.

That’s about all that’s going on with me. Yes, there’s A LOT going on in the world that I’d love to write about here. Hopefully I get the chance soon. Ciao!

Nope, SSM is STILL not like abortion

Remember when BruiserBlog favorite Ryan T. Anderson comforted a distraught middled-aged woman by comparing same-sex marriage to abortion and I pointed out how stupid that was? Well I guess he must have missed it. Somewhat to my surprise, he’s still banging that drum. In a new post on right-wing web publication The Federalist, Ryan–after some characteristic whining, and pimping his new book–opines:

Will the defenders of marriage be treated like bigots? Will our society and our laws treat Americans who believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife as if they were the moral equivalent of racists?

Perhaps not. Think about the abortion debate. Ever since Roe v. Wade, our law has granted a right to abortion. Yet, for the most part, pro-life citizens are not treated as though they are “anti-woman” or “anti-health.” Those are just slurs from extremists. Even those who disagree with the pro-life cause respect it and recognize that it has a legitimate place in the debate over public policy.

First, I won’t paint with broad strokes here, but some in the anti-choice movement are in fact anti-woman. But I’m not going down that path.

Listen, Ryan, I already covered why these things are not the same or even similar. It’s not apples to oranges, it’s apples to brussels sprouts….they’re not even in the same family. Most on the anti-abortion side see an innocent victim, and the taking of a life. That simply doesn’t exist in marriage (both spouses are willing victims, and their lives are only ending in the jocularly hyperbolic sense).

Before I noticed Ryan tweeting this, I saw fellow blogger David Cary Hart’s post on it (he hits on more of the points in Ryan’s latest hogwash–which frankly was TL;DR for me–so it’s worth a read), and in echoing my own thoughts, he had this to say:

More to the point Obergefell is not Roe. Nothing could be more illustrative of this than the fact that the pro-life (really anti-choice) movement has secular support while opposition to same-sex marriage falls strictly along religious lines. Indeed, Anderson’s opposition is a product of his ultra-orthodox Catholicism. Of course Anderson’s opposition to Roe is for the same reasons.

However, believing that a fetus is a baby, anti-choice activists visualize a flesh and blood victim. There is simply no visceral comparison with regard to same-sex marriage.

But wait, what’s this? Has Ryan developed a bout of realism?

Will the same tolerance [as that shown to those who are “pro life”] be shown to those who believe the truth about marriage? Will the government respect their rights of conscience and religious liberty? It doesn’t look good. So far, the trend has been in the opposite direction. We must now work to reverse it.

He loves that meaningless phrase “the truth about marriage” so much that he titled his book (did you hear he has a new book out?) Truth Overruled. I wouldn’t say this is realism so much as alarmism, as he spends the rest of the piece trying to make people feel better about their opinions (“it’s totally different than race!”) and stoking fear that if they don’t do something, they will be treated like social lepers and the government will steal all of their religious freedoms. Of course, if you just buy his book, he has all kinds of information there on just what to do now.

Nice try, Ryan.

Not Alone

You are not alone. Just check out this video:

Not what you were expecting? Did you see the twist coming? I did because it was posted on Twitter. I was planning to just respond with some snarky comments (“Oh, you have gay friends? Well, OK then!”) but then THIS came to my attention:

Look, you can believe what you want about God. You may think God doesn’t consider a marriage to be between two dudes or two chicks. OK, that’s fine. But when you don’t believe that the state should recognize such marriages, that those relationships are and should be legally inferior, that’s where you are going to run into problems. And if people give you funny looks for saying that, then so be it. Gay people have endured much worse.

Marriage Over The Rainbow

White House lit in rainbow colors Well, I guess I should say something about what happened last Friday. I’m speaking–of course–of the Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court ruling that states could not prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

It’s hard to overstate how significant this was. Many people correctly point out that marriage equality is not the end-all of LGBT equality, that there is still much to be done. There is, it’s true. But to many of us, until recently this was unthinkable. Most of us grew up, came of age and started dating without any hope of being able to marry some day. I didn’t think I’d see it in my lifetime! And yet, thanks to 5 Justices, it’s here today.

The announcement came around 10am Friday, and I was totally useless at work for the rest of the day. I tried to concentrate on my tasks, but couldn’t. I followed the love and joy on Twitter, and I found myself tearing up at various times throughout the day. While I normally spend a fair amount of my Twitter time keeping an eye on the opponents of equality–and refuting their lies and distortions–I decided to take the weekend off, and to just be happy. So I hid those lists, and surrounded myself in love and happiness, and it was great!

Now it’s Monday, the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to the real world. There are still a few battles to be fought for marriage, and much more work to do for true, full equality. But those fights all look a bit more winnable in the multicolored afterglow of such a momentous victory. I’m invigorated to keep fighting the good fight, and not just on LGBT issues. Cops, guns, racism… as long as people are mistreated, oppressed or getting killed for no reason, there is more work to be done.

P.S. Seeing the White House lit up in rainbow colors, not to mention all the other shows of support from the executive branch of our government would have been hard to imagine a decade ago.

Sure, it’s just symbolic and to some it may seem small, but it’s not. It means the world.

How Not to Cover Mass Murder

I’m sure by now everyone, even my international followers (hi, guys!) have heard about the horrific mass shooting earlier this week at a South Carolina church. You may even know the name of the shooter. But how many victims can you name? Any at all?

It’s a sad truth that we remember the names of mass murderers, but rarely the names of their victims. This is, in part, a numbers game; by definition, there will always be more victims of mass murderers than there are mass murderers, so that’s fewer names to memorize. But the media also plays a significant part in this. They put orders of magnitude more emphasis on the killers than the victims. And it turns out this may be more than a sad injustice, it may be dangerous.

The video below is from Charlie Brooker–who Wikipedia calls an “English satirist and broadcaster”–while working for the BBC, in response to a mass shooting in Ireland. It was a complaint and a plea about how the media covers these events. Give it a watch (it’s only 2:48) and then join me below. (h/t to someecards, where I first saw this)
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It Went So Fast

I knew it was coming from the beginning, if not exactly when. The move to the NYC area (yes, yes, I technically live in Hoboken, NJ…but I can look out my window at Manhattan across the river) was always intended to be temporary… 2 to 3 years. Fortunately it ended up being 3 (and a touch more) but it still flew by. In a way I feel like there’s so much I haven’t done. But I have also done a lot. I’ve made new friends, and like a real New Yorker quickly grew to hate Times Square.

But his rotation is over, and we’re heading back to Chicago in August. It’s bittersweet, to be sure. Would I tire of this place, eventually? Maybe. Am I there yet? Nope! I had some great experiences here. I’m going to miss my friends, the community of people at the Magnet Theater where I’ve been learnin’ me some improv, and the community of people at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey, where I’ve been volunteering (and the amazing building itself). Then there is the kind of anything-goes open-mindedness you don’t find in the Midwest, even in major cities. And the Broadway shows, and the diverse nightlife, and yes, the attractive people (there seem to be more of them here). There’s a lot to miss.

And do I miss Chicago. Kind of. I miss my friends, for sure. I left behind a bunch of amazing people when I moved here, and the occasional visit just isn’t the same. But do I miss Chicago? Meh. At the time of the move, I was more than ready for a change of scenery after 15 years there. And I don’t feel like I need to get back there yet. But it is a great city, and has a lot to offer. It’s going to have to do.

I imagine I’m going to visit New York much more often than I did before, and I can’t rule out a move back here some day…though that’s not particularly likely.

This was a chapter of my life that I’ll look back on fondly. Probably a chapter that ended too soon, and didn’t pack in quite as much action as I hoped, but an awesome chapter nonetheless. Only time will tell what the next one has in store.

Cleaning House

Sweeping broomIf you’re like me, you can hardly keep up with the deluge of reports of apparent police misconduct, often with fatal results.

The biggest case in the news right now is of course, that of Freddie Gray. Just today, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges against 6 officers involved in the Gray incident. Those charges included false imprisonment, because her investigation concluded there was no justification for the arrest in the first place!

Recently a judge in Cook County, Illinois dismissed a case against a Chicago police detective who–while off duty–fired into a small crowd of people and killed an innocent bystander, Rekia Boyd. Of course the cop claimed that someone in the crowd had a gun…but no gun or evidence of a gun was found, and the intended target (who was injured but not killed) had a cell phone in his hand. Interestingly, the judge who tossed the case implied that the officer should have been charged with murder, a more serious crime than that he had been charged with.

Not long ago, most of us probably saw the incredibly disturbing video of North Charleston police officer Slager shooting a fleeing, unarmed Walter Scott in the back several times, then planting his taser next to the body.

I think what we are seeing is the inevitable result of the complete abdication of responsibility of police to police their own. I still believe many if not most police officers are basically good people. But as John Stuart Mill wrote, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” We have seen that police will not keep their own house in order. In fact, those who try may find themselves punished instead of the bad guys! That leaves us–the rest of Society–no choice but to clean their house for them. The time has more than come.

An open letter to Gov. Scott Walker: stop perpetuating the myth of the lazy professor

Originally posted on The Contemplative Mammoth:

Dear Gov. Walker,

Last week, you told professors at the University of Wisconsin that they needed to “work harder.” You were making a case that the Wisconsin state budget crisis could be ameliorated by increasing employee efficiency, and you suggested having faculty teach at least one more class. I’m not going to talk about whether or not the budget crisis is manufactured (some have argued it could be solved by accepting federal funds for the state’s Badger Care health program), or whether your real goal is really partisan politics, and not fiscal responsibility.

Ouch. Ouch. Photo by fellow UW Madison geographer Sigrid Peterson.

Instead, I want to talk about the myth of the lazy professor, a stereotype that you’ve reinforced with your comment. I spent 2005 to 2012 at the University of Wisconsin, where I obtained a PhD in the Department of Geography; I am now an assistant professor at the University of Maine.

When you…

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Sir Terry Pratchett Reaches the End of Cake

Sir Terry PratchettI almost never write about celebrity deaths, but this is one that has me genuinely heartbroken. Sir Terry Pratchett, one of my all-time favorite authors, has passed at the age of 66. Much too soon.

The headlines, presumably written by those who don’t really know his work, call him a fantasy author. While it’s true, it only scratches the surface. Pratchett wasn’t just a fantasy author, he was a brilliant satirist and humorist. His Discworld novels were at times laugh-out-loud funny, while telling engaging stores about a rotating cast of beloved characters. They poked fun at some of the crazier things in our society. They had heart.

The joy of satire is it allows us to laugh at some of the things that might otherwise make us cry. Pratchett’s stories not only pointed out, humorously, the bad things but also the good things. He helped his readers appreciate their health, their family, their friends.

I’m feeling particularly ineloquent right now, so I’ll end this with a quote. RIP, good Sir.


-Death, in Night Watch (Death speaks in ALL CAPS, always.)

Messing with Texas 

These hateful laws are coming so fast it’s almost impossible to keep track of them now. The latest I’ve seen is in Texas, where a state law maker has proposed a law similar to the the one enacted recently in Arkansas. It would roll back protections against LGBT people enacted in many of the state’s larger cities. Oh, and the author has a gay son, and that son is not happy. 

Beau Miller wrote on his Facebook wall on Thursday, “As many of you know by now, my dad has authored and submitted a bill in the Texas House of Representatives that, if signed into law, would prevent municipalities in Texas from maintaining sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws. While I love my dad very much, I am extremely disappointed by his actions and will do everything I can to prevent that bill, or any such legislation, from becoming law.”

The more inroads we make the harder they fight back. So much for conservative family values. Good luck, Beau.