gvdub: (politics)
For those of you who don't live in the L.A. area, we're having a fairly big election tomorrow (didn't elections used to just be in November, on Election Day, instead of scattered willy-nilly through the year?). At stake are the mayoralty, city attorney, a number of council seats, community college board, and a raft of stupid propositions and other crap all bought and paid for by the usual suspects.

Even if I hadn't been following the news, I'd know because local politicians have discovered the internet and, even more importantly, the charms of spamming.

The most egregious example is an email I received from a candidate for city attorney who wants to remind me that he's not in the thrall of the 'downtown political machine' but a prosecutor who will vigorously pursue all the people that can be gathered together under the code words that are used to signify 'brown'. To top it off, the subject line of this spam is 'Public Safety Message'. I suppose that's to make sure that people read it, 'cause the dam might have broken or something and the city figured that sending out email was the best way to announce it in order to avoid panic. This idiot's name, btw, is Michael Amerian (just like 'American, only without that pesky 'c', 'cause you know there's one of them in 'Communist', isn't there?). Hmmm, I wonder who I'm gonna vote for tomorrow? I suspect I know who it's not going to be.
gvdub: (politics)
Recently, a number of friends have sent me links to online petitions for one thing or another. When I realized I was getting unreasonably annoyed at this, I had to give it some thought because these are, after all, friends for whom I care. Here are the conclusions I've come to.

1. Online petitions are worth exactly as much as the paper they're printed on – in other words, nothing. They cannot offer proof of anything. Anybody could collect hundreds of thousands of email addresses (znc I can point you at a number of places that will sell you exactly that) and paste them on a petition. 'Signing' an online petition might make you feel good, or as if you've taken action, but it doesn't really accomplish anything.

2. That list of email addresses can be harvested and sold to spammers. I wouldn't be surprised if a number of circulating petitions are being used for exactly that. What do we really know about the people who are behind any given online petition, anyway?

3. Signing a petition makes many people feel as if they've been let off the hook. They've done their bit now, and don't have to worry about it anymore. This leads to complacency and a sense of powerlessness and frustration when the outcome of that particular issue isn't what the signee desires.

There's a lot more that I could extrapolate, but those are my initial thoughts.

I'm a big believer in social activism, individual initiative, and community involvement. But I think that you need to get your hands dirty. Care about an issue? Do some research to make sure that you've got all the facts and that particular rock is someplace you're comfortable standing on, then get out there and work for it. That's how stuff gets done. Knock on doors. Talk to people. Try to help them see things from the same angle you're looking from. Show up at that council meeting/school board/senate hearing/environmental impact study/what have you yourself, get up, and be a goad. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, whatever they're afflicted with or comfortable about. Question your own motives. Make doubly sure that you really mean what you think you mean. Listen to the other approaches to the problem. I mean, really listen. Try to put yourself in their shoes, the same way you would hope they put themselves in yours. If somebody gets stuck somewhere in the process, offer them a hand to pull them out, no matter where they sit in relation to you. Life's too short to not bear our common humanity in mind at all times. Everybody wants the same stuff, and if we play our cards right, we can all come out of this okay, although 'okay' may not necessarily be what we thought it was going to be.

Or at least, that's what I believe.
gvdub: (politics)
While standing in line to get some catfish at the Long Beach Blues Festival yesterday, I got involved in a conversation with somebody who was handing out literature in opposition to Proposition 8. For those not keeping track (and those who don't live in Californski), that's the proposition to ban gay marriage (well, any marriage that's not a traditional one between a man and a woman). And it got me thinking about all the long-term monogamous gay couples I've known in my life. The first such couple were neighbors of a high school friend of mine. One of the couple was the costume designer from the Captain Kangaroo show (which is how my friend Jan had an actual pair of Mr. Green Jeans' green jeans). They were one of the most settled, happy, committed, and devoted to each other couples I've ever known. I know that they were a great example of domestic stability for anybody who might look - surely no threat to anybody's marriage. As a matter of fact, I've known married couples who could have learned a lot from them about commitment and making a marriage work over the years. It's a shame that they never had the chance to publicly solemnify their very loving relationship.

I think about [livejournal.com profile] _darkvictory's cousin and his partner. They've been together for decades, and share a lovely lake home. One of the funniest, most enjoyable, and smartest couples I've ever known. Hanging out with them is always great conversation and great company. Seeing them together, it's obvious how much they love each other. but the partner's family isn't entirely supportive, and if something were to happen to him, it's entirely possible that they might try to keep them apart. It would be heart-breaking if they weren't able to stand by each other and support each other in difficult times because they don't have the legal right to do so. And equally heart-breaking if they can't stand up together and tell the world how they feel, and have it mean exactly the same thing as when I stood, trembling and stammering, to exchange vows with the woman I love.

I support same-sex marriage precisely because I love my wife, and believe that anybody that loves somebody else so much that they're willing to make that same commitment should have the right to do so in exactly the same way. No waffling, no 'domestic partner' runarounds, no 'separate but equal' crap, but exactly the same way. Because, in the end, love is a fragile thing, and it needs all the support it can get.

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