Got a joke for you: "What do bullies, termites and religious fundamentalists have in common?"
Answer: "They won't stop until someone stops them."
Uh, that's not funny, is it? Particularly to anyone who's been bullied, has termites in the floor joists or lives in any country where religious conservatives are taken seriously.
I'll try another: "What does the Religious Right have in common with rapists?"
Answer: "Their blind faith isn't about spirituality anymore than rape is about the joy of sex. Both are just a way to hold someone weaker down and show them who's the boss."
Gee, now that I see it written out like that, I'm not sure that's any funnier than the first one. And I so wanted to kick off today's topic with a chuckle.
It's a problem with the material, see. There's just not much inherent humor in bullies, termites, rapists, or religious conservatives. And those self-righteous pests may well be the worst. I mean, we pretty much know how to deal with bullies, termites, and rapists. But to my knowledge, there is no counseling, insecticide or pepper spray to keep these sanctimonious mosquitoes under control. They're like the other three, combined. They push people around, eat away at the foundations of our liberties, and screw everyone who isn't like them. No joke.
And now, coming into this election--while there is no shortage of truly pressing concerns that need our attention--the people of Boise will be distracted by two religion enforcement issues that wouldn't even be issues if only God's local Gestapo weren't always trying to force-feed the citizenry their runty brand of rectitude. Of course, I refer to the vote on a constitutional amendment to exclude gays from any of the benefits and privileges of marriage, and the vote to cram Cecil B. DeMille's grungy 10 Commandments monument back in Julia Davis Park where everyone can ignore it for another 50 years.
These issues are two warts on the same witch, true, but I have time here to address only one of them. Maybe later, I'll get to the commandments crud, but today, let's stick to the anti-gay crud.
And since I have no real hope of opening any close minds regarding the rights of homosexuals to experience the same range of freedoms other Americans enjoy, I'll only address a curious aspect to the proposed amendment of which you may not be aware. (Two week ago, after having this aspect brought to my attention for the first time, I indicated I would write about it for last week's entry. But then Steve Irwin died and I felt I owed him some attention.) It concerns the bill's (HJR-2, if you're interested enough to look it up, yourself) intention to "... prohibit recognition by the State of Idaho, or any of its political subdivisions, of civil unions, domestic partnerships, or any relationship that attempts to approximate marriage... ."
Did you catch it? The curious aspect? Probably not, since what I want you to catch isn't there, anyway.
So I'll tell you. But before I do, humor me for a minute. It'll better help you appreciate the irony. For the rest of this column, pretend you're a studly rodeo hunk living out o' wedlock with that li'l gal o' yorn just like ya'll been doing since she got out of the nail polish academy, and as far as you and she be concerned, whatever bad happens to them queers ain't bad enough since'n they ain't a bit like yous two, anyhow.
Are you in character? OK, Tex, the curious aspect is that nowhere in the above excerpt, or anywhere else in HJR-2's wording for that matter, is the curse on "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" limited to homosexuals.
That's right, HJR-2 was written in such a way that, not only does it deny legal status to gay couples, it could also be used to push legal status on cohabiting hetero couples--especially if they want any say in the matter when it comes to things like Social Security benefits, bereavement leave, hospital visitation rights, inheritance, and every other legal deal that comes up when two people go through life together.
So the joke's on you, Wild Thang. They aren't out just to make gays miserable. They want vows-avoiding rebels like you to shape up and fly right, too.
And after that, then what? Compulsory church weddings? A virginity clause? A full baptismal immersion before any of that connubial bliss?
Or did they simply forget to include those words that would have restricted their pogrom to same-sex couples? Those modifiers ("Faggots," "Dykes," "Sodomites") would have assured the voters they weren't hurting anybody ... uh, like ... normal, so was it merely an innocent oversight that they didn't make clear in the bill's language that it's intended to screw only with homosexuals?
Yeah. You bet. And Brandi Swindell doesn't like to be seen on the evening news.
I'll tell you exactly why they left it unspecific enough to apply to you shacker-uppers: Because in their judgmental eyes, you might be better than homosexuals, but just barely. And if you and your sweet huggie-buns haven't presented yourselves pas de deux before a clergyman, a judge, or a ship's captain to tie the knot, the pair of you might as well be total strangers before the law.
How's that feel, Slick ... to be regarded an outlaw in your own land?
Ah, I'm sure many would ask, "Uhh, so what's the problem here? If'n them cohabitating fornicators don't like where this leads, they ought to go get hitched like the rest of us. Problem solved!"
But there are dozens of reasons why some couples chose not to get married, and not a one of them is our business. Or the legal system's, either. There are plenty of legitimate concerns for government to address without involving itself in the mating arrangements of its citizens. Right?
So, cowboy ... if it's so obvious in your mind that no Bible-thumpin' jerk has any business getting the state constitution to tell you how you can and can't live, why is it so damn hard for you to grant the same consideration to gays?
Oh, and if you think for a minute that this meddlesome morality posse won't eventually get around to using their power on the likes of you, you haven't been paying close enough attention.
Which reminds me of another joke: "How are Islamic extremists different from Christian extremists?"
Answer: "Those Islamo-fascists work to destroy freedom from the outside. Christiano-fascists do it from within."
(Don't forget to drop out of character. We don't need you out acting like that in public.)