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.

THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

-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.

Georgia Taking the Piss

Well damn, we can’t let our guards down for a minute. Not even long enough to take a leak, apparently. That Georgia “religious liberty” bill I mentioned recently was tabled? Not any more.

The Republican members of the committee considering the bill voted quickly on it while the Democratic member was on a bathroom break.

After several hours of deliberations at Monday’s committee meeting, however, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Fort asked McKoon if he could pause work for a moment to use the bathroom. McKoon obliged, but while the Democrat hurried to the lavatory, the rest of the committee — which consisted entirely of Republicans once Fort left the room — quickly pulled the “religious liberty” bill off the table and began voting. A staffer alerted other Democrats who rushed to the scene, but the committee had already passed the bill by the time lawmakers arrived.

The bill will move to the full Senate for a vote.

Do we need to start a fund to provide Democratic lawmakers in … certain states … with stadium pals?

Potpourri

potpourri bowlJust some quick updates and tidbits worth mentioning:

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson failed to veto the AR law stopping municipalities from expanding anti-discrimination protection beyond what is contained in state law. After the veto deadline passed, Walmart, the state’s largest employer, said they were against it. Too little, too late.

And I apparently wrote too soon in my previous post on Arkansas, as a “religious freedom” bill was also working its slimy way through the legislature there. This was, of course, another law meant to allow people to discriminate against LGBT folks and hide behind a shield of “religion”. But there is good news! In this case, Walmart weighed in against it before it was too late, and (as if by magic) the next day the Senate panel considering the legislation rejected it.

Late last week, a similar bill in Georgia was tabled by a Senate committee there, after it was opposed by a very unlikely critic: former GA Attorney General (GA AG) Michael Bowers, who once (successfully) argued in favor of Georgia’s anti-sodomy law! Bowers released a statement saying “It is not just bad public policy; it is ill-conceived, unnecessary, mean-spirited and deserving of a swift death in the General Assembly.”

Here is another piece on the so-called “social science” attacking gay parenting making the rounds among conservatives, which makes reference to the post I recently re-blogged. It’s worth a read on its own merits.

Notice something different? After using the same theme on this site for a couple years, I decided to try changing it up. It should work well on computers, tablet and smartphones. How do you like the new look?