Monday, March 5, 2012

Bad Conservative Confessions

I was raised in a conservative family, in a conservative town, in a very conservative district.  It was the kind of Pleasant Valley Sunday suburb where the local elections were all settled during the republican primaries.  Several times, I remember area politicians changing their listed party from “Democrat” to “Not quite as Republican as that guy, but still Republican” in order to have a shot at a town office.

This sort of upbringing shaped my young mind.  Those willing to provide examples of how many liberal ideas were both crazy and foolish were always available, and ready to show evidence.   I believe at some point during High School, when asked what my political leaning was, my father said, “I think Jeff is slightly to the right of Hitler.”

Over time, my horizons broadened and my views became more diverse.  This came from actually listening and paying attention to individuals’ positions and statements.  By focusing on what the right wing leaders were saying, I came to the conclusion that many conservative ideas were both crazy and foolish.   This did not cause me to swing my ideological pendulum the other way; however, as paying attention to what the left was saying merely confirmed the previously suspected levels of crazy and foolish.  Instead of moving left or staying right, I went up. (Example: I am in the camp of neither the greedy empty suits who work on Wall Street, nor the unwashed hippies that occupied it.)

This leaves me with the only solution to figure out where I stand on each issue through actual thought and research. (I know - I am a bad American.)

For example, I still believe that the overzealous pushing of environmentalism is a giant waste of money and is needlessly terrifying our children. (My daughter had panic attacks and nightmares because the “Science” Lady that came to her elementary school told her the polar ice caps would melt if she didn’t ride her bike to school every day, which would entail passing down a heavily trafficked, windy road without sidewalks.)  Also, political correctness is out of control and killing comedy. (Mel Brooks and Arte Johnson both said this, the prosecution rests.)  In case there are some liberals I haven’t offended yet, I feel the effect media violence has on children is utterly insignificant when compared with parental example. 

However, the practice of banning books is always wrong. And I do understand that the “right to bear arms” was written with regards to a militia back when “arms” meant muskets, and maybe everybody doesn’t have the right to their own howitzer collection.  I also feel that rules based solely on religion, including my own, shouldn’t be a controlling part of government.  I am aware some of the oldest law lists came from religion, but there have been legal reviews done. (I.e. Violating “Thou shall not kill” or “Thou shall not steal” are both felonies, but you can’t get arrested for “Coveting” unless, of course, you stand outside the person’s home you covet with binoculars; however “Thou shall not stalk” isn’t on the world’s first top ten list.)

Using that last point as an introduction, I have to ask:  Why is there still a same sex marriage debate?

I freely admit that my opinion of same sex marriage that formed between the ages of twelve and fifteen was, “Ew,” and that was all the thought I gave it at the time. But as a snot nosed kid there was room to grow and improve.  It concerns me when I see a supposedly adult run government making decisions based on teenage boy levels of thought.

There wasn’t even much thought required to form a better opinion. Here are two examples from the Sci-Fi worlds I tend to live in.

Star Trek:  I was a fan of George Takei, both as Sulu and in other live action, and voice actor roles.  I saw him speak live at RPI and found him intelligent, articulate, and witty.  Some years later he came out of the closet, and thanks to a fleeting California law, this intelligent, articulate and witty man was able to marry the person he’d been in love with for decades.  Seems like a good thing to me.

Doctor Who: Russell T Davies was the head writer for the first four plus seasons. In that time, he crafted many powerfully emotional tales about the highs and lows of relationships, a majority of the centerpieces of the show, straight relationships.  This doesn’t mean that he has been faking being openly gay all this time to get better publicity for Queer as Folk.  Rather it means that regardless of what gender you’re hard wired to be attracted to, the underlying emotional content and experience of human relationships are universal and consistent. (Bonus Doctor Who thought - There should be an international law against any legislation that would negatively affect John Barrowman’s lifestyle on the off chance it diminishes his entertainingly awesome insanity.)

It’s not like if the law is passed the government will be forced to start a “Gay Marriage Draft” to recruit unsuspecting straight civilians to fill a quota showing the idea was cost effective.  It would be passing a law to acknowledge the reality of something that is happening, will continue to happen and has been happening back to the dawn (and before) of civilization. (As documented by a near infinite number of sitcoms using the, “Plato?...PLATO!?  Mickey Mouse’s dog is gay?!?!” joke.)  Seriously, any behavior concerning the attraction and interaction between two consenting adults, whether or not ALL the biological factors have been fully documented, and even if it is a minority of the population, which continues to appear and endure that long through that many cultures (including ones that actively suppressed it), cannot be called unnatural by definition.

I don’t understand people who are constantly surprised when someone comes out of the closet, because that surprise can only mean one of two things:

1)    They are surprised because the person coming out seems “completely normal” and “like everyone else”.  This should be a hint.
2)    They are surprised by the sheer number of people coming out of the closet.  This should also be a hint.

I do understand there are certain very literal interpretations of certain holy books in certain religions that say this behavior is a cosmic scale no-no. (They may also say things about dietary suggestions, when to yell at fig trees, and on the etiquette of eye plucking, but that isn't the point right now.) Guess what though, as far as the government is concerned, marriage is a legal contract.  If that sort of union is against a religion, then that religion shouldn’t bless that sort of union with a sacrament.  It’s the whole pesky separation of church and state thing again.  The legality of marriage comes from the contract, not the sacrament.  The laws won’t affect who gets to bless what, churches that want to bless it will, one's that don't, won't (in the same way that some churches don't allow non members to be married in them). This is part of that whole freedom of religion thing, but it should have no bearing on the legality of the civil ceremony.

Why am I bringing these things up?

(Aside from the reason I bring anything up: “Holy Crap I don’t have a post for next week yet!”  On that note, sorry for talking about actual reality today, but I didn't get to a theater to do the planned review of the new Ghost Rider.)

The first reason is Governor Christie vetoed the bill for gay marriage in New Jersey, because he wants it to be decided by the voters.  I do like a decent amount of the things he’s done. (In case it’s been too long since I ticked off the left: I agree that unions have probably lost much of the value they had at the times they were originally formed, and now serve mainly to advance themselves rather than the people they represent.)  But this choice of his seems wrong, even though other states have done it. 

Isn’t the whole point of having a representative style of government that we vote people into office that have been selected, using the system we’ve all agreed on, to interpret, pass and repeal laws in the interest of their voters?  That’s how it’s supposed to work.  We vote the representatives in, and they make policies and such.  But now, the rights of a group of individuals are going to be put to a majority vote.  I’m pretty sure I remember a history teacher talking about one of the reasons our government has the structure it does is to prevent minorities from being railroaded out of their rights by the majority.  Establishing rights based on majority vote strikes me as the same mentality that leads to: “Our group doesn’t like this, so NO ONE should be allowed to see it, do it, smell it, etc.” That’s a great way to limit the learning, experience and depth of a society, and I’m against any form of it. 

The other reason to bring up things I don’t like about both ideologies is simply to annoy as many people as possible as a birthday present to myself, en route to my goal of becoming a crabby old man.  In reality, I share multiple convictions with, and am good friends with several members of, both the greedy empty suits and the unwashed hippies - I never claimed not to be foolish and crazy, I just have very diverse foolish craziness.

However, the problem with that diversity when it comes to having opinions on any hot button issues is that I get no support because I refuse to ally with either side to avoid being lumped into their general world views. 

The far left seems hell bent on censoring all forms of violence.
The far right seems hell bent on censoring all forms of sex.

Frankly, I need regular doses of both in my life to keep stress levels manageable.


I may be subconsciously repeating things I heard/read by three other straight guys that opened my mind to the idea that you don't have to be part of a group to have empathy, especially when the crappy feeling being given a hard time for acting or thinking differently than the "main crowd" is something everyone should be able to relate to:  George CarlinPeter David, and Mark Evanier…If you’re gonna steal, steal from the best. 


Anonymous said...

Jeff, I like the post and agree that everyone has the right to be married, but it should not be decided by a representative government or popular vote. It should be decided by the judiciary. This is a civil rights issue and the law has already been written in our constitution. It is up to the courts to interpret it as such. After it is settled in the courts our elected officials can pass legislation that cements the rulings of the judges. As an example I would use Brown V. The Board of Education in the mid to late 50's followed by the civil rights act of the early sixtys. Nick

Jeff McGinley said...

That does make a lot of sense. Really as long as the decision is given to professionals instead of "the mob" it should work out. Thanx for reading, and commenting.

Bruce Fieggen said...

I read a joke recently that boiled this issue down:
Step 1: Let gay men marry gay men
Step 2: Let gay women marry gay women
Step 3: Legalize abortion

Result: In two generations there will be no more liberals.

Jeff McGinley said...

That definitely boils the issue down...

What issue, I have no idea, but it definitely boils it down.