Beware of Originalists

They hold an unrealistic and toxic philosophy that is dangerous for an ever-evolving society.

Originalists believe that certain documents (and apparently, they get to choose which ones) should be interpreted as they were understood at the time they were written. If it suits them. Oh, where to begin.

First of all, the documents they choose to apply this philosophy to are usually documents that have a legal and/or social impact upon us all, such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  And when I say “us all” I’m referring to those of us who are living and breathing and viewing our world through our current cultural lens with our current scientific and technological understanding.

The arrogance of Originalists leaves me speechless. The idea that they have any clue how any document was understood at the time it was written if said document is more than a decade or two old is beyond the pale. If Americans can’t even agree on whether a life saving vaccine is in our best interests, how on earth can we assume that we can crawl inside the minds of a group of men sitting in a room in Pennsylvania in 1787 and accurately determine their intentions?

And a better question might be, why would we want to? For the constitution to continue to be of any value at all to us, it needs to change with the times and the culture that it purports to regulate. The constitution itself provides a framework of how government should be run. It lays out our (increasingly skewed) system of checks and balances, and also explains how the states relate to the federal government. That’s the skeleton of it all. But the amendments are the vital organs, the tissue, the muscle that keeps the constitution relevant and vital and up to date. At least that’s what amendments should be doing.

All our amendments came about because we have learned some hard lessons over time. We have changed and grown as a nation. We’re dealing with things that the founding fathers couldn’t even conceive of back then.

We learned that freedom of religion is critical to a country that wishes to allow human beings to explore their own spiritual belief system, rather than forcing us all into a rigid box where we’re told what to do and what we should believe without question. While many of us seem to actively seek out that sort of treatment these days, it’s increasingly obvious that checking one’s brains at the door does not serve us well.

The second amendment didn’t come along until 1791 and is about the right OF A WELL REGULATED MILITIA to bear arms.  The founding fathers were a group of privileged white men in 1787, who could never have conceived of a toaster oven, let alone an automatic weapon (the Gatling gun wasn’t even invented until 1861). It had not even occurred to these men men to put anything about arms in the original body of the constitution. Do we really think that those men wanted to make it okay for people to walk into classrooms and fire bullets that spin so wildly that they don’t just kill, they mutilate beyond recognition, and they do so at such high speeds that they kill the maximum number of humans in the shortest amount of time?

And from a modern standpoint, are mass shooters, or for that matter, any individuals, considered to be a well regulated militia these days? How is that possible? Why would anyone want to make that acceptable?

When you consider that bloodletting was still being recommended as a viable treatment option by some physicians in the 1920’s, do we really want to look at the constitution as a rigid document that requires a 1787 mindset to be considered valid? Similarly, would you want to only be allowed to pursue the happiness as described in the Declaration of Independence if you had to look at it from a 1776 standpoint? Back then, you were lucky to live into your 40’s. Do you think their pursuit of happiness would align with ours? Do you think they’d have had the same opinions about a lifetime appointment to the supreme court had they known that our life expectancy today would be double what they were experiencing?

We have outgrown certain things in this country. We should modernize our constitution to allow for the importance of civic responsibility and public health. None of us should have to beg for equal rights. None of us should have to be hesitant to assemble, for fear of being mowed down by gunmen. Every single one of us should have sole autonomy over our own bodies, unless said autonomy negatively impacts public health. Voting should be easy. We have no need for an electoral college anymore. Gerrymandering should be outlawed. There should be a way to keep the internet accessible to all, and yet somehow regulate the lies and the misinformation that runs rampant therein. We need to re-implement the fairness doctrine, but make it applicable to the ever-increasing number of ways that we can now communicate. We need term limits for congress. Judges on the supreme court should not be appointed for a lifetime, and for the love of God, they should be held to the same ethical standards as other lawyers. When there is a conflict of interest, it should be mandatory that said justice recuses himself from the case.

Originalism is an unrealistic and toxic philosophy that is dangerous for an ever-evolving society. Six of the nine current Supreme Court judges are originalists to some degree. They aren’t thinking about modern times or consequences when they make their rulings. That’s scary, don’t you think? While we’re modernizing the constitution, we might want to put something in there to require that it continue to be modernized, because if Americans exist in another 231 years, they sure as heck won’t want to crawl into the twisted minds that are holding the reins of power today to decide how decent people should live in their version of the present.

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


Ladies, Welcome to Involuntary Servitude

I have never felt less free in my life.

Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. Historians will look back on this and say that this was a dark day, indeed. At the time of this writing, I’ve had time to calm down and get a good night’s sleep, and…

Nope. Who am I kidding? I’m still outraged.

But I’m trying to remain levelheaded so that I can think clearly and act appropriately and effectively. I’m not like the Proud Boys. I’m not going to throw a violent tantrum when I don’t get my way. I’m not going to go off half-cocked (or fully cocked, for that matter) and wipe all the chess pieces off the board before repairing to my bedroom and slamming the door.

I think there are ways to make this better. Some I can’t talk about just yet. Others will require legislative intervention. But the primary thing to keep in mind is that even though women’s rights have been rolled back to the 1960’s, we have something that they didn’t have. We can network and communicate in real time, and now, more than ever, we must do so.

I can almost feel it in the air. Women are using their brains, not their brawn, to battle against this injustice. They are working together, and won’t simply sit back and wait until mid-terms to vote these fools out of office. They’ll be doing that, too, rest assured, but they’re also coming up with creative ways to help their fellow woman in the meantime. (And these are definitely mean times.)

If you can financially support a cause, please do so. If you can volunteer your time, there will be a lot of needs that will have to be met now in a lot of creative ways. Think about what women are going to need and consider ways you can help them. If you can pass along facts and information, do that, too.

And of course, yes, vote. Vote in every election, no matter how small. Vote for your school board. Vote for your dog catcher, if that’s even a thing. Poisonous mushrooms start off small but they don’t always stay that way. We’ve learned that the hard way.

But for those of you who are on the fence, or are morally opposed to abortion, I want to explain what just happened, to you, to me, to everyone in this country. Many of us are now no more than involuntary servants. We have about as much agency as a bitch in a puppy mill. We are being used to produce offspring.

Imagine this. Pick an organ, any organ. The colon? Good choice. It’s low down in the trunk area of your body. That’ll do nicely.

Now imagine that your government suddenly decided that you can’t take a shit without asking for permission. But that would put your health at risk, you might say. They don’t care. But you need to, for whatever reason. (Maybe you had a bad fish taco or something.) Actually, the reason is nobody’s business but yours. Perhaps you just want to gain some relief. Maybe you’ve accidentally ingested a toxic chemical and the only way to pass the poison out of your body is to… well, you get the idea.

How would you feel if that happened? Would you feel like an adult, having to ask permission to use a part of your own body in the way you want to? Would you feel free? (I have never felt less free in my life.) Would you feel like your country gave a shit about you?

Have you also considered that this change won’t impact rich people at all? If a rich person wants an abortion, she can simply fly to Ireland or wherever and have one, and then do some sightseeing. (And while we’re on the subject, how pathetic is it that Ireland, a Catholic freakin’ country, has legalized abortion and we haven’t?)

And rich people are a lot less likely to need this type of service anyway, because they have stellar health insurance, and easy access to the most effective forms of birth control, and are much less likely to find themselves in an environment where they’ll be raped, and will be so well set that they wouldn’t have to look at having a child as a pathway to financial ruin and potential homelessness. They can afford childcare, and they don’t have to work 80 hours a week, so they can actually enjoy their children, when they don’t send them off to boarding school or lock them up in another wing of the house to be cared for by nannies and maids.          

So, yes, the diabolical reversal of Roe v. Wade will disproportionately impact the poor among us, and they, by extension, will be mostly people of color. So now that we’ve learned who the brood mares are going to be, let’s find out what they’ll be producing, exactly.

Why do we want more children in a world that is already so overpopulated? More children will mean more development, overcrowding, more competition for food and resources, more disease, more pollution, more services that will have to be paid for by all of us, and on and on.

But children also become consumers, and those are important to have if your system is capitalism, especially if the rich people making the political systems often own many of the companies that will profit from these consumers. Children, especially the ones that we’re talking about now, who come from the most underprivileged homes, are the ones who grow up to be cannon fodder in our very profitable wars. We can afford to lose a few. There are plenty.

Children born into poverty are less likely to be educated, so they’ll wind up doing those horrible jobs that nobody else wants. Many of them will also blindly follow leaders who quite obviously do not have their best interests at heart. They’re needed for their mindless votes.

And it’s important to have plenty of cogs for this corporate wheel of ours! The bigger the pool of potential employees you have, the more competition there are for your jobs, the less you have to provide incentives, such as a decent living wage or maternity leave (which is ironic), or decent health insurance. So, in essence, you get the poor people to produce the population for you, and then there will be enough of them to perpetuate the cycle, generation after generation.

Have you ever thought about the home lives of people in prison? I wonder what percentage of them were never wanted or loved by their families. How many of them were just another mouth to feed? How much of the abuse that they suffered growing up stemmed from resentment? How many prisoners have fetal alcohol syndrome, or were born addicted to their mother’s drug of choice? Thanks a lot for giving that poor unborn fetus that life.

One friend couldn’t really understand why I’m so worked up about this. Technically, I don’t have any skin in the game, so to speak. I’m well past childbearing age, and even if I weren’t, I no longer have a uterus. (And believe me, many’s the time I’ve rejoiced in its absence, but never so much as I do now.) I don’t possess the organ they want to control, so one would think I’d shut up and fly under the radar.

But I can’t. First of all, I wasn’t raised to believe that as long as I get mine, to hell with you and yours. I could never be that selfish, in spite of the fact that that seems to be the societal trend. I feel the need to fight for these rights that I was lucky enough to benefit from.

I’ve had two abortions. One was because I was way too young and already poor, and a child at that point in time would have chained me to poverty for the rest of my life. There would have been no college, no job satisfaction, no safety, no security, and I’d have been forced into very dangerous, non-supportive living situations. I’m not particularly mentally healthy now, so I can’t imagine what those added stressors would have done to me. The second abortion was the result of rape, and I can’t picture having to go through life looking at my child and seeing the face of my rapist.

Speaking from experience, I know that there are very legitimate reasons for seeking abortions, and people will continue to seek them whether they’re legal or not. You’re not preventing abortions. You’re taking away safe and sanitary environments in which to have an abortion, and you’re forcing them into back alleys with practitioners who know nothing about the medical profession at all.

If you don’t want an abortion, you shouldn’t have one. You have that choice. Why take away the choices of everyone else?

This issue is not about life. If the people that have forced this current nightmare upon us cared about life, they would be moving heaven and earth to stop little kids from getting hit with bullets that spin so rapidly that what’s left of their innocent little bodies can’t even be identified by their grieving parents. If they cared about life, they wouldn’t be sending boys off to wars that we should never have been involved in in the first place. They pretend to revere our veterans, but when one of their number dies in combat, we’re not even allowed to see their flag-draped coffins anymore. If they cared about life, they would be so focused on solving the homeless problem that they wouldn’t have time to do anything else. If they cared about life, they wouldn’t be forcing women to be involuntary vessels for unwanted children. If they cared about life, they’d have gone out of their way to wear masks during this pandemic, rather than not caring who died as a result of their own selfishness. If they cared about life so much, they wouldn’t be so eager to turn away people that seek asylum. If they cared about life so much, they’d focus on helping the lives that are already here.

This issue is not about life. It’s not about the poor unborn babies. It’s not about morality. It’s about control. Pure and simple. It’s about power.

The thing conservatives don’t seem to get is that the rest of us are perfectly willing to let you not have an abortion if you think it’s immoral. But when you start legislating morality, based on your idea of what morality is, not mine, then you’ve thrust me into the kind of law that you call sharia law, because it makes you sound enlightened. We’re now living the very thing you’re so terrified will take over this country.

And conservative women confuse me more than any group on earth. Do you realize what you’ve done? You probably think that none of this matters, because you’d never have an abortion in the first place. But you’ve given away one of your vital organs. It’s still in your body, but it’s not under your control. In some states, women can now be locked up if they cross a state line to seek an abortion in a more sympathetic state. Locked up. They can’t leave their own state. They are supposed to stay put, so that their uteruses (uteri) can be used in whatever way the politicians choose. They are not allowed to decide their path in life or solve their own problems. They are criminalized if they even attempt to do so. Stop disparaging Saudi Arabia if you’re hell bent on transforming this country into that one.

If none of this scares you, then you’re not paying attention.

And here’s the thing I find most interesting. The thirteenth amendment outlaws involuntary servitude. I think forcing a woman to carry a child for 9 months is the epitome of involuntary servitude. Your very bodily functions are impacted. Your mental health definitely is. You’re making an adult beg like a child. And then, if that woman has to raise that child, most likely with no help from a man, then her servitude goes on for decades. You are turning her life upside down, because you don’t value her life at all.

How is this constitutional? How is this not sex trafficking? We’re now chattel. We’re servants. We could be farmed out like dairy cows.

Last night I dreamed that a crowd of white men in sharkskin suits were holding me down and ripping out my uterus.

Anyway… Stay strong. We’ll need all the strength we can get.

Exploring DC: The National Archives

If you want to tie up a visit to Washington DC in a perfect bow, then your last stop should be the National Archives.

Recently Dear Husband and I took a trip that we are calling “Autumn Back East 2021”. Our goal was to visit friends and family, and I wanted to show DH what autumn leaves really look like in a region that isn’t primarily covered in evergreen trees, and introduce him to our nation’s capital.

We flew to Atlanta, picked up a rental car, then drove to Alabama, North Florida, Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and then drove to Washington DC by way of Virginia. Then we flew back home.

It was an amazing trip which lasted 15 days, and since I’m now only blogging every other day, if I gave you a day to day account like I have on trips past, it would take a month, and you’d be heartily sick of the subject before we even left peach country. So I’ve decided to focus on highlights, which I’ll do my best to keep in order. You can find the first post in the series here, and a link to the next post in the series, when it becomes available, below.

This had been an amazing vacation, but after 15 days, it was time for Dear Husband and I to go home and hug our dogs. I firmly believe that any vacation that lasts longer than that has diminishing returns. By day 16, your homesickness and exhaustion begin to overtake your excitement and joy. So, we eagerly packed up our things, but stored our luggage at the hotel because there was one last stop that we wanted to make before heading to the airport.

If you want to tie up a visit to Washington DC in a perfect bow, then your last stop should be the National Archives. As of this writing, thanks to the pandemic, one must have a timed-entry ticket in order to visit, but admission is still free. (If you plan to sightsee anywhere at all during COVID, it pays to plan months in advance. A lot is still closed or is requiring reservations.)

The National Archives houses not only our nation’s founding documents, but also, according to their website, “records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people.” Even my StoryCorps interview is housed somewhere therein. I had forgotten that until I started writing this post. I should have visited it.

When you approach this majestic building, you can tell the architect intended this to be a place of reverence. It is a place of significance. It is a veritable temple to our nation’s history.

The steps are flanked by two statues. Carved beneath the one on the left are the words “The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future.” Beneath the one on the right: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” That definitely sets the tone.

The first thing most people do upon entering (and we were no exception), is make a beeline for the 70-foot-tall Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. It is there where our nation’s most valuable documents are housed. These include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

To get to this rotunda, you have to pass through a set of 40-foot-tall bronze doors. The lighting is subdued, and there are guards around the perimeter, flanking each document case. And these are not Johnny Rent-a-Cops, either. You can tell that this is not a place for shenanigans. They mean business. I can’t remember for sure if they were armed, because no photographs are allowed and I was focused on the documents, but armed or not, these men and women were taking their jobs extremely seriously, and I was convinced that if I had tried anything (although nothing springs to mind) they’d have taken me down in the blink of an eye. Given that so many of my fellow Americans seem hellbent on eroding our democracy, I found their presence a comfort.

According to this article, preservation of these documents is a shockingly new idea. For example, the Declaration of Independence was written in 1776, so it’s currently 245 years old, but for the first 127 years of its existence, it didn’t really occur to anyone that maybe special measures should be taken so that it would still be around for future generations. It was horribly abused and neglected in those early years, and the article describes that in detail. At one point it was tacked to a wall like a boy band poster. I’m amazed that there is anything left to look at, to be honest. The article also describes current preservation efforts.

Today these documents are benefiting from very advanced preservation techniques. The cases that house them are made of titanium. The glass that you look through to see them is bullet-proof. To avoid further deterioration, the cases are filled with inert argon gas. And every night, after the tourists have disbursed, these documents, along with their cases, are lowered into a vault that is 22 feet below the floor. We should all be taken care of so well.

I can’t begin to describe to you how much reverence and awe I felt while gazing at these documents. We’ve all seen pictures of them, of course, but here they were, right in front of me. The very bedrock of our democracy. (I wish I could have taken pictures for you guys, but I wasn’t looking to get shot.)

Let’s focus on our constitution, which was created in 1788, 12 years after our Declaration of Independence. It is the first permanent, codified constitution in the world. We had broken free of Great Britain, and they don’t have a codified constitution to this very day. That was something I learned only recently. (How on earth do you function without a constitution?)

In this country, we are taught to revere our constitution as if it were a religious document. We are told that ours is the greatest country in the world, and that this document is what made it all possible. Just as we pledge allegiance to the flag every single day in school and even at sporting events, we also used to sing hymns to our government during the commercial breaks as we children watched our Saturday morning cartoons. I still know the preamble to the Constitution because of those nifty bits of propaganda.

According to this list of national constitutions, the next constitution didn’t come about until 1814, and that was for Norway. But the vast majority of national constitutions weren’t ratified until after 1950. Cuba didn’t have one until 2019. So in that way, ours is pretty remarkable.

But here’s the thing (Yeah, yeah, there’s always a thing.): Our constitution is not the word of God. As a matter of fact, it has a lot of flaws that were corrected by subsequent countries. For example, it didn’t specify who could vote, and that has caused people without land, people of color, and the female half of our population a great deal of trouble throughout the years. If you look at our constitution and include all the amendments, it lists 26 rights for its citizens. The average bill of rights for other countries lists 60 rights. And only two other countries besides ours (Mexico and Guatemala) feel the need to list the right to keep and bear arms. And our gun violence statistics are the worst in the world.

Our Constitution hasn’t kept up with modern times by any stretch of the imagination. And yet, if you want to conduct an amusing little experiment, approach Americans, one by one, and tell them their constitution should be scrapped and completely rewritten, as the constitutions of many countries have been in order to keep up with a maturing culture. The looks of sheer horror on their faces will be priceless. We’ve been fed a reverence for this document with our mother’s milk. That’s great if that’s how you interpret patriotism. But that means our constitution is completely rigid and inflexible and no longer serves us well.

Yes, we’ve had 27 amendments to the original document, but they are few and far between. Number 27 was ratified in 1992, but before that, number 26 was in 1971. I’ll be shocked if another amendment is ratified in my lifetime. That’s a shame, because so much needs to be addressed that isn’t. The lack of amendments is not proof of a perfect document, but further evidence that this nation has been so polarized that I fear we’ll never be able to come to an agreement on anything.

We can’t even agree as to the founding fathers’ original intent with the second amendment, which was ratified in 1791, when we were still terrified that the British would overthrow our country. To them, “arms” were single shot rifles that could be fired only once every 30 seconds, and they were wielded by trained, responsible men, primarily to put food on the table. I’m quite sure that the founding fathers would have been horrified to see modern teenagers toting assault rifles.

I truly believe that it would be better to start fresh with a new constitution that is written with the knowledge and insight which comes from a more enlightened and inclusive society, one which has hopefully learned from its mistakes. Things like “All American citizens who are 18 or older shall not be prohibited from voting.” Yeah, I know. Never going to happen.

Having said all that, I was still awed by what I got to see in that rotunda. I’m sure it was part lifelong indoctrination, and part respect for this amazing democratic experiment of ours, but what it translates to is pure veneration. I’m very glad that this was our last stop in Washington DC. These documents are why DC, and the rest of this country as we know it, exists. It was only fitting to pay homage.

There are other displays in the National Archives, including one of four surviving originals of the Magna Carta that was written in 1297. It is the first known document that spells out human rights. Most of it wouldn’t work today as they were living in a feudal system, but the idea that humans should have rights, as evidenced by the Magna Carta, is what inspired our Charters of Freedom. I could not believe I was looking at this amazing charter.

I’ll be writing about a few of the other National Archives displays in a separate post, but for all intents and purposes, dear reader, this is the last official post for this particular vacation. Thanks for taking the journey with me. It’s been quite a trip!

Claim your copy of A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude today and you’ll be supporting StoryCorps too!

Checks and Balances

Our Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief seems to be increasingly frustrated that he’s not able to run roughshod over the constitution as he planned to do once Putin got him into office. Poor him. Thank goodness the founding fathers had the foresight to put some checks and balances into the system, or we’d be in even worse shape than we are now.

The reason they realized the value of checks and balances is that those men saw, in their own lifetimes, what power without limits does to people, and by extension, to countries. Power seems to bring out the worst in everyone. That says a lot of unattractive things about the human race.

Our default position is not to be considerate and generous and polite and act with integrity. No. We seem to be hard-wired to survive by stepping on the necks of our fellow man. None of us are born civilized. Civility has to be taught, and sadly it’s a quality that seems to be easily abandoned.

Hence the need for checks and balances. Society can only thrive if there are ways to force us to pay attention to the better angels of our nature. In other words, we need a referee if we’re going to play fair. That position seems to be vacant more often than not. It’s why the little people, like me, can do everything “right” and still not get ahead. “Right” has absolutely nothing to do with it. You will either be a neck stepper or a neck steppee. The American dream only works if you’re not conscious.

Have you guessed that I’ve been feeling a little bitter of late? Well, the only relief from that bitterness is by working within the system to change the system. I might be a steppee, but I’m sure going to make the Stepper-in-Chief’s life as miserable as I possibly can.

Care to join me?


Check out my refreshingly positive book for these depressingly negative times.

MAKING America Great

I have no idea why, but I’ve known a lot of ex-cops in my lifetime, and have had some disturbing conversations therewith. I strongly believe that certain jobs attract certain personalities, and I have to confess that I’ve always been sort of creeped out by the cop culture, as much as truly I appreciate that thin blue line. I’m hoping that the attitudes and/or actions that I describe below are the reason these individuals are ex-cops, but who knows.

Many years ago, I worked for the Florida Department of Transportation. I was standing outside my office with an ex-cop, watching one of the prison crews load their equipment onto a truck. (FDOT contracts with prison crews to do minor work such as landscaping and pothole repair.) He said to me, “Man, I wish we still had the hot box for when they act up.”

When I asked him to elaborate, he said that right there on that very spot they used to keep a tiny metal shed, so tiny that you had to squat to get into it, and when one of the prisoners on a crew would misbehave, they’d stick him in there for “a day or so”. Every once in a while someone would go by and hit the metal walls with a stick “for fun” to make the guy jump while he was in there sweating and dehydrating and cramping up beneath the brutal Florida sun. “They’d behave after that,” he said with a hint of nostalgia in his voice.

I was horrified. Shades of Cool Hand Luke.

Another ex-cop posted a picture of a flattened human being with tire tracks across his torso on her Facebook page. She thought this was hilarious. It actually made me feel kind of sick.

A third told me he wished the city cops had as much “leeway” as the county cops when dealing with vagrants. “See, the county cops will just beat the hell out of them and they’ll leave and never come back. Whereas the city cops have to be all polite.”

And just the other day I heard about a trick that some cops supposedly employ when they want to pull someone over but they have no valid reason. It’s called a wrist rocket. Apparently that’s a slingshot that they use to take out a person’s tail light.

I can understand the desire to make America great. But when your idea of “make” is to “force upon” rather than to “bring about”, you’ve crossed the line into very scary Donald Trump territory. Not all of us have the same definition of great.

Is there any wonder why some police have such public relations issues? And as a friend of mine commented on Facebook, “Is no one being taught the Constitution anymore? No one?”


Upset that Everyone Now Has the Same Rights that You Do? Oh, Simmer Down.

Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Liberal, Fundamentalist, Atheist, anywhere in the spectrum, all Americans have to abide by the US constitution. There’s nowhere that says you have to like it. So feel free to pitch a tantrum. I just wish you’d do it in the privacy of your own home, because you are messin’ with my celebration here!

I’m never wild about getting political on this blog, but when the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act the other day we witnessed history, and I couldn’t be more proud. At a time when politicians on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers, and bureaucrats in general are behaving in a shameless, corrupt and despicable manner, it does my heart good to know that sometimes they still manage to get things right. And this administration has done more for LGBT rights than any other in the history of the world. Yay!

Opponents of this decision will use California as an example, and say that the federal government should have no right to overturn the decision of the majority of the people. California voted against proposition 8, thus depriving a segment of the population their right to marry, and saying only marriages between a man and a woman are legal, and that should be that, right?

To that I say poppycock. If you had asked the Germans to vote in 1935 to deprive the Jews of every single right imaginable, they would have. That wouldn’t make that action any less of an utter slap in the face of civil rights. So I’m THRILLED that the federal government doesn’t care what you want, California! There are times when what you want isn’t the right thing. Sorry.

Everyone should have the same rights. No group should be singled out. And every year, on the anniversary of this fateful day, and as more and more states make gay marriage legal, more and more people will pull their heads out of their behinds, look around, and realize that allowing people to marry whom they love has not in fact brought about the destruction of life as we know it. It hasn’t oozed into the very foundation of individual marriages, causing some sort of irreparable damage. It hasn’t caused children’s heads to explode. And it certainly isn’t going to loose the four horses of the apocalypse.

So enough with the free floating anxiety. Relax in the knowledge that civil rights seem to actually matter in this country, at least every once in a while.


Mother Teresa Didn’t Have a Blog

“Words without action are meaningless” he said to me during our ongoing debate about hypocrisy. “Mother Teresa didn’t have a blog.” Ouch. But you know what, I still disagree. Words, when executed properly and offered at the right place, at the right time, about the right topic, can change the world. Here are some words, in no particular order, that have made an impact:

  • The Magna Carta
  • Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses
  • The Rosetta Stone
  • Sun Tzu’s The Art of War
  • Darwin’s On the Origin of Species
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The US Constitution
  • The Mayan Codex
  • The Emancipation Proclamation
  • The Gettysburg Address
  • The Diaries of Anne Frank
  • The Bible
  • The Quran
  • The Torah
  • Anything by Shakespeare

No, these aren’t blogs, but I suspect that in many cases they would have been in blog form if blogs had existed at the time. And no, I’m not comparing my often aimless verbal ramblings to religious doctrine. What I’m saying is that one should not underestimate the ability of words to make changes. Words are action. And because they inspire further action, political prisoners throughout the world have been jailed for their words. In some countries, reporters have been killed. Words transmit knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Action is great. Action combined with words is even better. Martin Luther King springs to mind. But words alone should not be discounted. We can’t all be Mother Teresa. But we can still transmit a message for good, and that, in my opinion, is not too shabby.

“He’s Not MY President!”

It’s Inauguration Day here in the United States, and even though I worked graveyard shift last night, which means the ceremonies felt like they were being held at the equivalent of my three o’clock in the morning, I watched them. And I got an amazing thrill from the event. Not just because my guy won. (Yay!)

I can say with all sincerity that I’ve gotten goose bumps from every single inauguration I’ve witnessed, regardless of whether the man who was being sworn in as president was the person I voted for. As I looked out at the hundreds of thousands of people who were willing to attend this event (despite the fact that it’s always held in an often brutally cold Washington DC January), I realized that they are bearing witness to history, and one in which we can all, on this day if not on any other, take pride.

During every inauguration, I’m reminded of the words of George Washington during the First Inaugural Address in 1789: “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

And it’s true. This nation, this political process of ours, is an experiment. My saying that once got me blasted by one of my relatives. He thought what I was saying was unpatriotic. How dare I say this is an experiment? Well, I say it easily and with pride, thank you very much, because anyone with even the slightest knowledge of world history knows that governments rise and fall and political philosophies come and go. Just ask the people of ancient Rome. The fact that we are lucky enough to be at a point in time when our particular experiment seems to be working quite well is a reason for celebration. And saying it’s an experiment is the most patriotic thing in the world because it reminds us that this stability is fragile, and it needs to be monitored and cared for and debated about with the free speech afforded us by our constitution. What could possibly be more patriotic than that?

Indeed, my love of free speech was sorely tested a few days ago. A very heated political debate broke out on a friend’s Facebook page. I sat back and watched it with interest and enjoyment, at first. Then, as often happens when people don’t have a strong dog in a fight, it deteriorated into name calling and personal attacks. That made me sad, because rather than strengthening their views in my eyes, it simply made me think much less of both parties. So I was thrilled today when President Obama said, “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.” You tell ‘em, Barack. We don’t have to agree. But if you let it deteriorate into insults, you’re only revealing your ignorance, because, you see, this is not about him. It’s about us.

U.S. Presidential Inauguration 2013

That Facebook brawl ended abruptly when one person said, “He’s not my president!” Poor deluded woman. If you’re an American, yes he is. Even if you didn’t vote for him, even if you didn’t bother to vote at all, yes he is. And you should thank your lucky stars that he is. We have held a stable government without a violent overthrow since George Washington made that first inaugural address in 1789. Yes, we’ve had a civil war. Yes, there have been assassinations and assassination attempts and threats from other nations, but through it all, we have remained solid. Millions of people on this planet have not experienced that stability, and can’t even imagine what it must be like. So, yes, he’s your president, love him or hate him, and that fact was celebrated today on a cold, windy patch of ground in our nation’s capital. How cool is that?