Saturday, March 19, 2011

The tipping point

"The rain . . . falls upon the just and the unjust alike; a thing which would not happen if I were superintending the rain's affairs. No, I would rain softly and sweetly on the just, but if I caught a sample of the unjust outdoors I would drown him." — Mark Twain, Mark Twain: A Biography, 1912

STRAP IN, this might be a long one. I mentioned in my initial Hey Look post that Paul had been trying for years to coax me into starting a blog. He set one up for me, but I couldn't seem to gather myself enough to write. What did I have to write about anyway? 


He kept encouraging me to at least tell some of the stories about the wacky, weird situations I've found myself in the middle of over the years, but I remained unmotivated. 


Here's how I reached the tipping point and began to write:


I was so proud of Iowa when we became one of the few states in the nation to allow same-sex marriage. Iowa has a long, admirable history of civil rights, and the courageous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court to extend the right to marry to gay people was another illustrious moment. Then three of the judges who had been part of the unanimous ruling came up for a retention vote in the November election and were voted out.


It's not that people didn't have the right to vote "no" on retention, it's just their reasons for doing it sucked IMHO.


Either:

A) voters didn't grasp the role of the Supreme Court well enough to understand that their decision was limited to whether prohibiting same-sex marriage violated the Iowa Constitution's rules of equal protection under the law.

or


B) the "no" voters are so stingy of heart that they would deny their fellow citizens full equality. Either thing was really depressing.


I got it into my head to call the Southern Poverty Law Center, the well-respected civil rights organization that tracks hate groups and hate crimes and works to stop them, to ask them whether they include gay-hate in their province. They do, and I made a mental note that when we had a few spare dollars — which we didn't have right then — I would make a small donation.


Fast forward several months. I was having a week where nothing seemed to be going right. I was dissatisfied with myself and the world in general. The only thing I could think of that would cheer me up was to finally make that contribution to the SPLC, whether we could afford it or not. 


It did cheer me up. It also made me eligible to listen to a live conversation between SPLC president, Richard Cohen, and Mark Potok, Director of the Intelligence Project, and from them I learned that the number of hate groups has ballooned 54% to more than 1002 since Barak Obama was elected president. According to their monitoring, "This surge has been fueled by fear of Latino immigration and more recently, by the election of the country's first African-American president and the economic crisis." 


The notion that people are against our duly elected president — not just against him, but actively hate him — because of the amount of pigment in his skin is unfathomable to me. 


Listening to the SPLC conversation was the tipping point. I wanted to rally whoever would give me a listen, or in this case a read, to stand against hate, and supporting the Southern Poverty Law Center whose motto is: "Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Seeking Justice" seemed like a good place to start. 


Who knew. Turns out I had something to say after all. Here's a link to their website: http://www.splcenter.org


Boy Boy and Paul, who fell asleep on the couch reading 
Scientific American. I'm crazy about my loving, extra-smart husband.

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1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy your blog. Sometimes commenting here, sometimes on facebook, sometimes not at all, but whenever I read it, its always worth the time. Your perspective, your writing skills, your view from central America are all worthy! Thank you!

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