richardf8: (Ensign_Katz)
I don't often weigh in on this things but this one is special.

This is the exact opposite of the Jamar Clark case.

Phil Castile's encounter with the police should NOT have been fatal.  It was, according to his girlfriend, upon whom I am relying, a routine stop for an equipment violation.

The challenge in this stop was the registered gun that Castile was legally carrying.  As I listened to Valerie Diamond's account, I placed myself  in the shoes of both Phil Castile and the officer.  I will share here what I imagine each thought, and why this ended so tragically.

Officer: License and Insurance please.

Castile: Thinks: My License is in my wallet, I have to get past my gun to get it.  If he sees the gun, he may freak.  I had best set his expectations so there are no surprises. Officer, I am carrying a registered, concealed weapon.

Officer: Oh Shit!  Dude just threatened to pull a gun on me! Put your hands in the air.

Castile: Confusion - he asked for license  and insurance, should I give him that first and then put my hands in the air?

Officer: Panic - he's reaching for his gun!  I don't want  to die! [Shoots]

This is how I imagine the encounter went.

So, would it have played out differently if Castile were white?  It's difficult to know for sure, but I do think that a white man would have had a better chance for survival in this encounter.

White privilege is real, and does result in an officer giving a white suspect the benefit of the doubt.

About a year ago an officer in Mendota Heights died from white privilege.  Again, a routine traffic stop.  The suspect was white, but also a fleeing criminal.  He killed the officer.

I do not believe for a minute that Phil Castile posed any threat to the officer, but it would not surprise me if his blackness exaggerated the officer's sense of threat.

I do not believe that the officer was out to kill a black man either.  I think he just wanted to go home at the end of his shift.  I think he panicked, and I am not sure he would have done so if the suspect was white.  Although, if he had remembered what happened in Mendota Height, race might NOT have made a difference.  Hard to know.

And this is what makes it all so tragic; a man is dead, and another is certainly guilty of manslaughter.

It sounds like Phil Castile was a good man; may his memory be for a blessing.
richardf8: (Ensign_Katz)
The Israeli Palestinian Conflict: Not a Civil Rights Issue.

I want to get a few thoughts down here. American liberals tend to view the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a Civil Rights issue. It's a narrative we are comfortable with, that we understand well, and that we know how to pick sides in. The basic assumption is that the Palestinians are fighting for a right to self determination that is a threat to Israeli hegemony, and if Israel would only give them this freedom, there would be peace. If this were true, the Oslo accords would have resolved the conflict. But there are larger goals in play here.

It is important to understanding the current condition of the conflict to read Hamas' charter. It is a thick read, written in lovely regal language. But its thesis is clear. I will distill a few things here that I think are pertinent.

1. What does Hamas mean by liberation and resisatance? We liberals love these words. We hear them and our sympathies are immediately awakened to poor, hungry masses yearning to be free. But it is not people that Hamas is looking to liberate. It is land. (Article 6 and Article 15). The land is "every inch of Palestine." And that would be Palestine as it looked at the time of the British Mandate. Liberation of the land entails bringing the land under Islamic rule, as Hamas understands it (ibid).

2. Where does Hamas fit among Islamic movements? Hamas is a unit of the Muslim Brotherhood, specializing in the Liberatioan of Palestine (article 2). What this means is that the goals of Hamas are in service to the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood.

3. What about the two state solution? Article 13 of the charter should be read in its entirety to understand why this will not work so long as Hamas holds poltical power, but here is a brief quote."There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are a waste of time and a farce."

So, what we should be noticing here is that what Hamas wants for the land it calls Palestine (which is to say the 1947 borders) is the same Islamic rule that, over the past few years was selected and rejected in Egypt, the Egyptians ultimately preferring the political oppression of a military government to the religious oppression of rule by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The next question is what do the Palestinians want? I can't answer that. The Palestinians, if offered an election, will find themselves in the unenviable position of choosing between Hamas and Fatah. I am convinced that the election of Hamas a decade or so ago was less about alignment with Hamas' goals than it was about throwing the Fatah bums out. I think that during a period of calm, throwing the Hamas bums out would be a real possibility, but that during a time of live fire, there is a tendency to cleave to the more belligerent party which would work in Hamas' favor.

Eliminating Hamas is essential to being able to give the Palestinians the freedom to explore their desires. Achieving this would mean reoccupying Gaza without settling it, and subjecting it to the political oppression now found in Egypt, while working assiduously to improve prosperity. When there is a strong, moderate Gazan majority, it should fight, and win, a war for indepedence that would culminate in its having its current borders with, depending on Egypt's goodwill some additional land in the Sinai. The West Bank could be part and parcel with this or not depending how West Bank and Gaza Arabs feel about each other.

Current liberal attempts to influence the peace process or to coerce Israel into yielding too much too soon do not ultimately support core liberal values like equality or self-determination, because they enable Hamas, for which these values are best relegated to the dustbin.

A Caveat.

Jan. 20th, 2009 06:27 pm
richardf8: (Default)
[ profile] level_head has a post worth contemplating, regardless of its slant, called Unpatriotic.

It's noteworthy to my mind because it points to a way in which we, as Americans, have gotten sloppy in our thinking, especially over the past eight years, but going back farther than that even. We have become accustomed to an us and them style of thought. The right and the left alike have spent the Bush years assimilating the "if you're not with us, your against us" mentality. And here is my warning: any lefty who brings this framework to the Obama presidency is going to be disappointed.

What we have in Obama is someone who grasps realpolitik. And that tends to mean compromise. If the last 8 years have had any effect on our culture at all, it has been to make "compromise" on either side of the fence a dirty word. The partisanship that has been brewing since Nixon, that saw its full flowering in the "Republican Revolution" and the Bush administration have torn this nation limb from limb. Getting us to where we are now demanded that Franken take on Limbaugh, that Maddow deconstruct Coulter, but the battle is now lost and won, and its time for reconstruction.

I think that Obama's ability to blend that which I agree with along with that which I find distasteful speaks volumes about his ability to reintegrate a nation that has been separated as if by a centrifuge. To those who are seeking ideological purity, he will seem a sellout, but to those who want a nation at peace, he may just the ticket.

You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.

[Edit: [ profile] bluerain notes: "I actually think it's grossly unfair to cast anyone who is angry at the selection of Warren as displaying an "if you're not with us, you're against us" mentality." This assessment is correct and just, and I have therefore removed the reference from the body of the post. Thanks to her and [ profile] orv for helping refine my thoughts on that.]
richardf8: (Default)
Sounds like Imus may have lost his show if I heard the news right this morning.

That's fine, he'll find another venue.

I cannot help but note that its another in a series of similar scandals, whether of racism, anti-semitism, or misogyny.

These things aren't happening because Howard Stern, Don Imus, or Mel Gibson, or whomever are bad people. These things are happening because there is a zeitgeist that eats it up, because there is an audience that is receptive to, and even validated by it.

And when Don Imus finds a new venue it will be because of this infamy, not in spite of it, and the market it appeals to will be even more receptive to a diet of hate. So much so that Imus may find himself in the position of having to ratchet up the volume in order to retain them.

Is this a desirable outcome?

And more pressing: what is this zeitgeist that these speech acts validate it and do we REALLY think we can staunch it by suppression? Sure we can put a finger in the dam where Imus is, but that only increases the flow elsewhere, and I'm not sure who's going to put a finger in Ann Coulter.

When we hear speech we do not like, we are to apt, I think to react with outrage and punish, punish, punish. That makes martyrs, and feeds the perception of oppression held by those who regard their prejudices and perceptions as normative.

I would keep Imus on the air. But I would shuffle McGuirk off elsewhere, and pair Imus with, say, Jeannene Garofalo, a liberal humorist who will only be too happy to call him on his shit in a way that makes him look like a jerk.

Come on - this is Defense Against the Dark Arts 101, guys. The way to vanquish a boggart is to make it look ridiculous.
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Many years ago, I was working at Zeos computers, doing technical support. My co-worker, Lyle - a Lutheran minister who served as an Air Force chaplain, co-worker Colin - a recent grad from Saint Olaf's who is legally blind, and co-worker Bill - like Lyle, a USAF vet who also happened to be triumphing in his struggle with alcoholism, all carpooled together. Well not "carpooled" really, since Lyle was the only one of us with a car; it would perhaps be more accurate to say that Lyle, in an act of loving-kindness, chauffered us.

One day he came to pick me up, with Colin already in the car, and we headed over to the street corner where Bill would reliably be waiting with his morning coffee and his Pioneer Press.

He was not there.

So we traced the steps of what we knew to be his morning walk back to his home. There were fire-engines and first-responders all over the place. The building Bill lived in was being evacuated, and evacuees sent to the hospital because of a Carbon Monoxide. Lyle spoke to a fireman who was controlling access to the site. He gave Bill's full name to the fireman, told the fireman that Bill had not been where he was expected at an appointed time. He urged the firefighter to make sure that Bill was accounted for before they left the site. He even offered to go look himself. He was turned away with a cursory "Yeah, we'll get everyone out." We accepted that, trusted them to do their jobs, and went off to do ours. When, by 11:00am, we'd heard nothing from him, we went to HR and got his emergency contact. It was his girlfriend, an RN herself. I swapped contact info with her, and she assured me she'd look into it and call back.

She did. I came home to a very tearful message on my voicemail. Bill was dead. He'd been found by another tenant, in the communal bathroom on the first floor. Although the responders had emptied all the dwelling units, they had not checked the bathrooms (very possibly did not even know they were bathrooms. Bill liked a long morning soak, and the comfort he took in it was the reward of his own work. He had personally weatherproofed the bathroom, being faced with an apathetic landlord. The bathroom was directly over the boiler that was putting out the carbon monoxide. Bill was probably dead before we even got there.

At least that's what I tell myself. I have to believe it, because the alternative is that we stood by and LET Bill die. That our ovine acceptance of what the authorities told us killed him. It's what I told Lyle two years later in a server room at Eaton Hydraulics in Eden Prairie. I reminded him of his clear articulation, and of the Fireman's refusal to let us pass. I assured him that we had done what we could, and that if Bill WAS still alive then, it was a failure of communication that was beyond our control that killed him.

And I felt like a heel, doling out mealy mouthed rationalizations like some Nazi at Nuremberg professing ignorance and deference to authority to explain away his role in the Holocaust.

Lyle was never able to escape the feeling that we should have persisted until Bill was rescued (or recovered) or until we were arrested. Instead we turned away like meek lambs at the shepherds' urging. I, too, always wondered if we could have caused a difference for Bill with more persistence. Lyle lives with the guilt. I live in a house whose windows leak like sieves all through the Minnesota winter. So what if the heating bill exceeds the mortgage payment so I can shiver under two blankets in a 40 degree bedroom? At least I wake up in the morning and the cold winter's air slipping through the casements is the smell of life to me, the smell of NOT DYING LIKE BILL.

It weighs.

Then I see what's happening in New Orleans. So I donate, and my wife donates and a guy at our synagogue is running a truck down there so we plan to donate supplies. Tampons. A blanket. An air mattress. We hope it helps and can be used. But what's worse I hope it gets there.

FEMA has been turning away people bringing tools and skills to help while not doing much at all to lend help themselves. The Red Cross is not being let into New Orleans to give direct assistance. Mostly, it seems that it is at FEMA's request, but the Red Cross is doing a good job running interference for the feds in this link.

Looking some of this material over, it seems as if the feds WANT these people to die. It seems like a passive aggressive holocaust, like "oopsie, we've had a little hurricane thingy. Well we got the people able to transport themselves out, and if the others die, well it's a disaster, people die in those. Not our problem." It makes me want to hop on the truck headed down there and do something hands on. I both envy and admire [ profile] odanu who is headed down there.

It's bad enough when first responders make honest mistakes. Bill died in an understandable oversight, though I'll never understand why they didn't kick EVERY door in in that place. What I'm hearing from NOLA is far from understandable though, and if I can't shake some sense of culpability in Bill's death, how can we, as a nation, expect to live with ourselves in the aftermath of this?
richardf8: (Default)
I was thinking about the searching of bags happening on the NYC Subway system, and the old canard that if you're doing nothing wrong then you've nothing to hide.

This is based on the false premise that only evidence of criminal activity demands to be hidden. Modesty, however, demands that we hide things that are not of a criminal nature.

It seems to me that sooner or later these bag searches will force some woman or other to disclose to some officious gubmint prick that she is either a) on the rag or b) on the pill. These searches do more to pull female sexuality into the public realm than they do for male sexuality. And in an environment in which the government seems entirely too concerned about what women do with their bodies, one is left wondering if this isn't a means of legitimizing state scrutiny of women's sexuality.
richardf8: (Default)
I am a person of faith. So are many people, Jewish and Christian, Muslim and Buddhist who read my journal. And I feel that there is a war being raised against some of the fundamental tenets of my faith, from people like the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. (I don't know who the speaker of the House is these days, so upstaged has he been by DeLay).

These people have been seeking to put into law very specific elements of the very specific splinter of Christianity in which they engaged. And every time Liberals talk about "the separation of Church and State," these wingnuts have a cow about how evil secularists and atheists are on a crusade to destroy Christianity in America. Their perception seems to be that they are being oppressed if their beliefs, and their beliefs alone are not being legislated, are not forming the basis for jurisprudence, and are not being enforced at home and on the world stage.

As many conservatives will point out, there is no "separation of Church and State" in the constitution. And they are right - this concept is the result of judicial interpretation. The Constitution gives us the "establishment clause" in its first Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . ."

Let's take a good hard look at this, leaving behind for the moment the notion of "separation of Church and State" and asking ourselves why it is there at all. First and foremost it codifies an important religious sentiment that we find in the Concessions and Agreements establishing the colony of New Jersey, written by William Penn, namely that "that no man, nor number of men upon earth, hath power or authority to rule over men's consciences in religious matters" (Joseph Story). This is an important notion to understand: the establishment clause is there not to prohibit prayer in schools, necessarily, nor to prohibit display of the Ten Commandments, necessarily, but to guarantee the the state does nothing to compromise the individual's relationship with God. Now this remains true regardless of whether that relationship is one of disavowal, a belief in an abstract "creator," or a belief in a personal God or gods.

Justice Thomas Black, writing in EVERSON v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF EWING TP., 330 U.S. 1 (1947) illuminates for us the historical milieu from which the establishment clause arose:
A large proportion of the early settlers of this country came here from Europe to escape the bondage of laws which compelled them to support and attend government favored churches. The centuries immediately before and contemporaneous with the colonization of America had been filled with turmoil, civil strife, and persecutions, generated in large part by established sects determined to [330 U.S. 1, 9] maintain their absolute political and religious supremacy. With the power of government supporting them, at various times and places, Catholics had persecuted Protestants, Protestants had persecuted Catholics, Protestant sects had persecuted other Protestant sects, Catholics of one shade of belief had persecuted Catholics of another shade of belief, and all of these had from time to time persecuted Jews. In efforts to force loyalty to whatever religious group happened to be on top and in league with the government of a particular time and place, men and women had been fined, cast in jail, cruelly tortured, and killed. Among the offenses for which these punishments had been inflicted were such things as speaking disrespectfully of the views of ministers of government-established churches, nonattendance at those churches, expressions of non-belief in their doctrines, and failure to pay taxes and tithes to support them.

What we are witnessing today is precisely this scenario: a particular flavor of Christianity is seeking to forge an alliance with the government, though which it can force loyalty to its notion of "family values" or "morals" or whatever the buzzword of the day happens to be. The first amendment is intended to safeguard the relationship between man and God, such that it cannot be hijacked by any single religious persuasion.

So this, then is the right wing War on Faith: If you are Presbyterian, Quaker, United Church of Christ, Reformed Jewish, any kind of Jewish really, Muslim, Buddhist, etc, then according to these people YOUR FAITH IS NOT VALID. And here comes the sticky part: because we are not so prideful as to say "You're wrong because God said so," we do not appear to speak with the moral authority that they do.

So what can we do? For starters, we need to invoke God. Seriously. Even in a war of prooftexting, we can win this thing if we so choose. We tend to be afraid to do this, because we can't know that God is on our side. However, I don't think that's true - I think God IS on our side, and that it can be demonstrated from any holy text we care to cite. I was once asked by a fellow learner in Torah Study "How can we know?"

It's a valid question. The answer is a matter of history and projection - if we examine the pattern that has given us Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, and look at what it parallels in the past what do we see? I see a Holocaust survivor in my congregation describing how, upon being seen with a scrap of Army blanket she had found to keep herself warm, she was made to kneel with her arms over her head for five hours, during which she fainted three times. Her treatment was virtually identical to the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as described in a report by the ICRC:

The physical tactics noted by the Red Cross included placing detainees in extremely cold rooms with loud music blaring, and forcing them to kneel for long periods of time. . . .

It's not difficult to see where the policy leads. And as for the notion that it is hyperbole or hysteria to draw on the Holocaust for comparison the only thing I can say is that the notion that the Holocaust was somehow a unique or aberrant evil is the greatest assurance that it WILL happen again. All of us have within us not only a spark of divine goodness, but an evil inclination as well, and when that inclination is appealed to on a national stage, it scales up better that a Linux Beowulf cluster. We insist on believing that the holocaust was perpetrated by inhuman monsters, when in fact is was perpetrated by people JUST LIKE US, to whose worst instincts a simple megalomaniac appealed. When we see a nation being encouraged to vote against granting a right to a particular population, when we see a nation that looks the other way when it's citizens are denied justice and due process, we see a nation that has not God, but the evil inclination perched on it's shoulder.

We need to understand that as people of faith we have the RESPONSIBILITY to invoke God. Because if we do not, then we sell Him into slavery to the false prophets who invoke the divine crown for the sole purpose of increasing their power and wealth.

Works Cited

richardf8: (Default)
Went to see National Treasure this evening, looking for brainless mind candy, and all I can say is wow. Just wow.

Well actually, I'm going to say a lot more than that.

it gets kinda spoilery )
I expect I will own this one on DVD - I imagine that more is buried in there.
richardf8: (Default)
Leave it to [ profile] morgan1 and Me to get married on Pearl Harbor Day.

Morgan and I have been together for 13 years, the first two of which might be considered courtship, the rest a de facto marriage. Today we presented ourselves before Judge Gary Bastian and what was de facto is now de jure. Judge Bastian was a fine man, wearing jeans and a t-shirt beneath his robes. He rustled us up a pair of witnesses and we emerged from his chamber Husband and Wife in the eyes of the State of Minnesota. We followed this with Bento at Sakura in Saint Paul.

We were foolish; we told our bosses we would be in in the afternoon. The wedding itself, occuring in Judge Bastian's delightfully eccentric chambers, was more romantic than either of us had expected, and a walk over the Wabasha Street bridge seemed more suitable than returning to our respective jobs, but this we did, because promises are important.

I feel more relaxed than I have in a while. I have health coverage for the first time since August of 2002. I have the security of knowing that what Morgan and I may say to each other in the privacy of our home cannot be coaxed out of us in court. I have the comfort of knowing that whatever emergency may come up, Morgan and I can speak for each other without our authority being challenged.

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.

Yet, I also feel a little bit . . . well not guilty exactly, but perhaps more wistful. Because I know many of you reading this cannot have those things. This is an area in which Morgan and I have been active, and we are proud to have found ourselves in the midst of a religious community that is also dedicated to making available to all Americans what is available to us. For you I offer these words from the Head Rabbi of my congregation. I look forward to the day when you can join us in these comforts.

If you are surprised or wish you had known or anything like that, know this: Morgan and I are planning something in the form of a religious ceremony sometime down the road. In many ways it is this, rather than today's civil marriage, that will carry the full weight of emotion, and of this you will receive advance warning.

And that, my friends, is why Cat-Tharsis did not appear on Tuesday.
richardf8: (Default)
I've been coming across lots of diatribes like this since the election.

OK. You're Liberal. You're smart. And you're Christian. And you're tired of hearing how those ignorant, bigoted red-state Christian podunks got us four more years of Bush. You don't want to be lumped in with them, and you don't want Christianity characterized as a religion of ignorance, hatred and bigotry. So you start screaming at us liberals to stop the hatred.

Well I've got some news for you Sunshine. You're responsible.

That's right. Because instead of claiming your faith, you pull mealy-mouthed crap like this: As a lesbian Catholic, I have not spoken from my religious views on LJ.

It raises the question "why the hell not?" Why are you allowing only those people who invoke Jesus to rationalize their bigotry to be the ones speaking from their "religious views." And how DARE you turn on the rest of us when your silence has let them steal your God.

So, let me teach you a new phrase: "I am a Christian. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson do not speak for me, and they do not speak for the Jesus that I know."

Try repeating it, backing it up with relevant scripture, and showing the world how the haters have rejected the moral values of the New Testament. It's not that hard. If Mad Magazine can do it, surely a smart, liberal, Christian can.

It might take a little time to win us over though. You've let Falwell and Robertson "brand" Christianity for a little too long, so we associate it with the product that they're selling. And if you start now, it's still going to be a little too little, a little to late - because we're all going to suffer from this sin of omission for the next four years.

In the meanwhile, stop returning friendly fire. If you point your guns in the right direction, you'll find us dug in beside you in no time.
richardf8: (Default)
About 6 Months ago, I wrote the following:

OK, my fellow Americans. Are you SO willing to keep people you've never heard of from getting married that you will vote for a president who:

1) Took office by appointment because he couldn't get votes,
2) Turned a significant budget surplus into the hugest deficit this country has ever seen,
3) Established a precedent for pre-emptive war that has made it permissible for any country to attack another at whim,
4) Established new environmental regulations that guarantee your children the god given American right to suffer from asthma and mercury poisoning,
5) Had all the information in hand to bring 9/11 to a halt before it came to very much, but passive-aggressively allowed it to happen so that he could use it as political capital to
6) Spy on your purchasing habits, unlawfully detain you indefinitely without due process, and declare peace protestors enemy combatants,
7) Oversaw the hugest hemorrhaging of jobs from the economy, which will not be recovered even at current levels of growth,
8) Wants to hand the Social Security benefits you've paid all of your working life over to the care of the Enrons and Worldcoms of the world,
9) Pushed a medicare reform bill that funnels your tax dollars directly into the pockes of the Pharmaceutical and Health Insurance industries?

Do you hate gays SO much that you are willing to DESTROY AMERICA just to prevent two people you've never met from getting married?

George W. Bush thinks you do. In fact, he's counting on it.

I guess I have my answer now: reported by Mako

And Mako -- Do not mistake mob rule for democracy. They are two different things - the latter guarantees freedom, justice, and peace, the former guarantees a holocaust.

These initiatives were placed on the ballot so that people would be enticed to come out and vote their hate, and for the person who will do the most to uphold that hate. We are barreling toward a holocaust, and tonight is our last chance to apply the brakes. God help us all if we fuck it up.
richardf8: (Default)
Randall Terry's son, Jamiel Terry comes out in this month's issue of "OUT!" Magazine. Do let's hope he has a better understanding of the importance of advocacy than Karen Cheney.


Mar. 16th, 2004 12:05 pm
richardf8: (Default)

A Bill has been introduced to allow congress to reverse the decisions of the Supreme Court. So much for separation of powers!
richardf8: (Default)
First things first. The New York Times On The Web has dropped Ted Rall from its line up of political cartoons. Primarily because they were tired of dealing with flack from dittoheads, but I've also noticed a bit of a shift to the right in their editorial policy generally. It was apparent in the debate I excoriated in a previous post, Lisa Bumiller being one of theirs. It is apparent with the addition of David Brooks to the line up of commentators, and it is apparent with the move striking Rall (whose work they were able to present for free; they paid him nothing) from the lineup of cartoons on their web edition.

This is disturbing to me because Rall's voice is a voice from the left, from the far left, that has been one of the strongest voices of dissent under this administration. And I cannot help but think that that may be one of the reasons he is being struck. He says unpleasant things that a lot of Americans don't want to hear but need to. He asks us to entertain the possibility of the unthinkable, so that the fact that an action is unthinkable does not become a cloak behind which the person who takes that action can hide. His art sucks, but it's no less pleasant to look at than McCoy's, and he knows his art sucks. He also gave me a much needed belly laugh after the extended episode of hate speech that was the State of the Union address.

For that reason encourage you, all of you, yes, even the conservatives, libertarians, and libertines among you, to appeal to the New York Times to keep his feed on their website. Not because you agree with him, but because the moment we start silencing certain views while privileging others, democracy, which depends upon an informed electorate becomes a sham.

You can e-mail the New York Times ombudsman at
richardf8: (Default)
Dayton has finally codified his views on Gay Marriage according to the Pioneer Press:

Sen. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that marriage should be redefined as a religious ceremony, allowing for a civil "marital contracts" for both gay and heterosexual couples.

"The Bible said, 'Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's,' " Dayton said in a conference call with reporters.

"Under the separation of Church and state, federal and state governments should leave marriage to God and to the religions of this country," he said, "and separate out the civil aspects of what is now termed marriage as a different term, whether it's legal union or marital contract."

Dayton, a Minnesota Democrat, said the federal government should establish the overall "parameters" for such contracts. But he said the focus this year should be on defeating a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Dayton made his pitch on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., urged Congress to embrace such an amendment, which Dayton called "un-American, un-Christian and unwise."

"We need to find a better answer," he added. "And we also need to avoid the mean, dehumanizing and divisive debate that a constitutional amendment would require."

When it comes to my own deep-down and personal feelings on marriage in general, Dayton here pretty perfectly reflects my mind on it. Bravo, Dayton for finally calling attention to the fact that "Marriage" as sacred contract is none of the state's damn business, and that the state's only concern should be with how to provide an interface for two people seeking to define themselves as a household in the eyes of the state.
richardf8: (Default)
I achieved a personal goal today: I finally have a letter published in the New York Times. It can be found here, third one down.

For when the link expires, and for those who don't want to register at the Times, here is the text of my letter:

To the Editor:

Lisa Schiffren ("How the Judges Forced the President's Hand," Op-Ed, Feb. 29) seems to assume that the courts exist to rubber-stamp whatever the majority of Americans happen to believe at any given moment in history.

If this were true, interracial marriage would still be illegal, and segregation the rule of the South.

No, the courts exist to ensure that the rights afforded to individuals by federal and state constitutions are preserved for those individuals, even if the majority disagrees.

Our founding fathers understood this and created the judiciary to protect the individual.

St. Paul, Feb. 29, 2004
richardf8: (Default)
These are the letters I just sent to my representatives in congress regarding Bush's "I Hate Fags" amendment proposal. Included are their respective positions. Dayton's the only one trying to make up his mind, so he is the only one I made a real attempt to persuade.

Click here to see the letters. )
richardf8: (Default)
Well Dubya has presented his "I Hate Fags" amendment to congress.

Quick question: where was all this hostility to "Judicial Activism" when the Supreme Court overrode the will of the Majority and appointed him president in 2000?
richardf8: (Default)
Interesting article on the Same-Sex marriage debate:

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