let's get the seven lines. (bookshop) wrote,
let's get the seven lines.

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I have been trying for two days to make a livejournal post on Michael Moore, Flint Michigan, and passion in politics. Today I had the whole thing written out and the entire network crashed on campus, and I lost every bit of it. Last night I had most of it written out, but I got distracted by this woman who saw me reading his latest book Dude, Where's My Country? and began a discussion that pretty much took up the next two hours straight, so I was unable to post it then.

As you probably know, the book came out Tuesday; I bought my copy last night before shift, and I've been really amazed-- all over Bloomington I've been toting this book around and people, especially students, have been dying to see it. Everybody's been asking me how it is. I tell them it's more of the same brand of investigative, sarcastic journalism we got in Stupid White Men, only up to date and with more serious, perhaps more urgent, a voice.

Michael Moore's voice is a funny thing. By many accounts he may in fact be a belligerent asshole--but if he is I have to say it doesn't matter much to me, because he's also one of the most sincere, most determined, passionate voices for political change and reform I've ever seen. His voice is the single most important thing the liberal left has going for it. His voice is a populist voice--in touch with the people that the republicans are shunning and the democrats have forgotten about, strong, loud, obnoxious, and tireless. It's the kind of voice that gets heard above the crowd, and it is being heard.

I went off yesterday on the poor gentleman who took issue with my tone and style of voice in my last post. I thought his main gripe was because I was, according to him, being "perfervid" and getting lost in grand hyperbole instead of utilizing reasoned rhetoric. This really pissed me off, and I told him why.

Ever since then I've been thinking about what passion is—what it does when it's channelled correctly, and what breeds it.

Particularly, I've been thinking about Michael Moore's brand of passion. I think it's because he came from Flint, the city with the highest crime and highest unemployment of its kind in the nation, the city that was devastated when GM shut down and laid off 60 thousand people in the 80's. I think it's because he had to watch that happen, because he grew steadily more and more outraged and fed up until he reached the point where he just ceased to give a fuck about tact, about discretion, about politeness, and just began to focus on getting the word out, about making people aware, about getting people to listen and getting them to act.

He's like Moses, in a way.

ca. 2000 B.C.:
Moses to Pharoah: Let My People Go!
Pharoah: *yawn*
Moses: *kills firstborn*

ca. 2000 A.D.:
MM to GM: Give My People Jobs!
GM: yawn.
MM: *Roger And Me*

It's all about using your voice. Okay, technically Moses used Aaron's voice. And Mike Moore uses a camera crew. But close enough. Mike Moore's voice is one of the most important voices in America right now, because it's starting to reach people who have never really been exposed to leftist or populist thinking before. If Mike Moore were any less impassioned, any more reasonable and tactful, America wouldn't be listening.

Do you guys remember me talking about this? The IU business professor who posted blatantly homophobic statements on his blog, which was hosted on a university-sponsored web page? My comments appeared in the opinion forum of the IDS (the student newspaper) the next day. Yesterday, out of the blue, a journalist from the Chronicle of Higher Education emailed me. He was writing an article about the controversy over the blog, and wanted to know if I would grant him an interview. When I called him back today he said that he’d been looking through the op-ed pages, and wanted to talk with people “who had something to say.”

It was pure coincidence that I happened to pick up the IDS that morning and read the front page headline. When I fired off that letter to the editor, I wasn’t thinking about anything other than that this was an outrage and I had to say something about it. My comments were sandwiched in with a bunch of other comments on the back page of the paper, it’s not like it was a big deal. But instead I was interviewed by a reporter from a prestigious academic journal. Now there’s a chance that people all over the country might read what I have to say.

People are listening. There are people who want to hear what you have to say. All you have to do is speak out. Trust your voice. Because dude, you never know.

The last day I was at Nimbus I decided to sit next to a group of ladies I had never met before, because I thought it would be interesting. One of those ladies was Eliza Dreseng, the chairwoman of the Newberry Committee—the people that decide the Newberry Medal. Before she was on the Newberry Committee, she was on the Caldecott Committee. She had been attending the convention as part of the panel of librarians, along with ALA director Judith Klug.

Somehow, during the course of the conversation I wound up telling one of the other ladies there at the table with me about fan fiction. The lady was polite, but hostile to the idea of fan fiction—she felt it was more about the fan fiction writers than about the source material.

I responded by basically giving her an impassioned speech about how fan fiction was the ultimate compliment to the source material, because it was about expanding upon a world that they created, about taking it further, and about building a community around what we loved.

When I was through with this speech all of the other women were pretty much staring at me, and Eliza Dreseng said in a quiet voice, “and where can I read your fan fiction?”

I blanched and then told her awkwardly that I wrote slash. I received blank looks all around. So I carefully explained what slash was.

The other woman who had been hostile about the idea of fan fiction itself made her excuses and dragged her companion away from the table. Rapidly.

So it was just me and Eliza Dresang and her daughter, and I was just abashed and still blanching.

Then Eliza Dreseng said still in that same quiet voice, “so where can I read your fan fiction?”

I will treasure that moment as long as I live.

People want to hear what you have to say. Don’t be afraid of your voice.


Link courtesy of yvonne_b: the Vatican apparently has decided that safe sex is worse than no sex at all. They're telling Catholics that condoms further the spread of HIV, despite the evidence of the WHO and every scientist and health official in the entire world to the contrary. What this article doesn't mention is what the Catholic Church is preaching as an alternative to condom use. Abstinence? Going ahead and doing it anyway, because if you're screwed, you're screwed? Unbelievable.

Also, speaking of unbelievable, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has for years been my favorite Republican Senator--and yes, I realise that's not saying much, but it's true--has introduced a bill that would allow people born on foreign soil to run for President. (thanks to keyweelimemime for the heads up).

Orrin, dude. Are you so far steeped in bitterness from losing out on the 2000 nomination that you're willing to turn over your party's political hopes to Arnie? Would you really? And here I thought you were one of the last members of that party with sense. I should have given up on you when you voted for the Patriot Act, I suppose.

Edit: Just to clarify, as several people have pointed out, the stipulation that to be American you must be American born is a detriment to the principles of our nation. It's not the bill itself I'm objecting to, not at all--I should have articulated that more explicitly. It's the timing. I would be much happier with Senator Hatch if I believed he proposed the bill on the behalf of all naturalized American citizens and not just the *blech* Governator.


Another thing I’ve been trying to post for two days now is a response to a poster on Heidi’s journal, who thinks that Dick Cheney’s refusing to grant his daughter a legal marriage is just tough love, really.

I really like my response so I am putting it here, on my own journal, for convenient access whenever I run across the next person with the ‘why do they have to have a *marriage*, for christ’s sake, why can’t they just be content with a ceremony?’ mentality.

If I accepted your and folk's definition of love, then I would have to conclude that all my atheist, agnostic, and otherwise non-Christian friends hate my guts, and that all their apparent kindnesses toward me are false and hypocritical. Because if they really loved me, they would agree with my beliefs and support my lifestyle,

Yes, but what if your friends not only refused to support your lifestyle, but went out of their way to see to it that you couldn't live your life as you wished to, even though you weren't infringing upon anyone else's rights, even though you weren't doing anything but being yourself? What if all your friends, on the grounds that they didn't "agree with" or "support" your lifestyle, barred you from participating in or being a part of certain social activities or rituals, because *they* thought that your personal lifestyle choices just didn't fit in with that particular habit?

What if you had a Jewish friend who was holding a bar mitzvah, and when you went you were told you couldn't attend the ceremony because you weren't Jewish?

What if that Jewish friend was slated to be the best man at your wedding, but when you went to the church the pastor refused to perform the ceremony because your best man's lifestyle was against his religion?

That would never happen, though, would it? Because the fact that your friend is a practicing Jew is not directly infringing upon you, your pastor's, or your church's religious values. That is, his state of being Jewish is in no way linked to your personal right to practice Christianity, and have a Christian wedding.

Do you understand?

Now. Under what reading of the Constitution of the United States, which states in the 9th Amendment that *all* rights not explicitly delegated to the states are retained by the people, does it make *any* sense to say that one man's right to be a practicing Christian overrules another man's right to be a practicing homosexual? --not to mention another man's right to be a practicing *gasp* Christian homosexual?

There is nothing in the Constitution that says that all rights not explicitly delegated to the states are retained by the people *except* for those rights which infringe upon someone else's sense of morality. Do you know why there is nothing in the Constitution that says that? Because the Constitution was designed to respect the rights of *every* American citizen--not just the moral majority.

Please notice that I did not use the phrase "to *protect* the rights." I said to *respect* the rights. The word "protect" implies that there is something to be protected from, that there is a power imbalance--that someone is doing the persecuting and someone is else is being victimized, all but for that word, "protect."

You talk about how it's possible to be respectful of someone else's beliefs, someone else's lifestyles, while disagreeing with them. Yes, of course it is. "Respect" implies that you acknowledge their *right* to live that lifestyle, that you acknowledge their basic humanity, their basic freedom to live and be what they want to be. The word "respect" implies equality. The word "protect" implies an inequality, an imbalance of power.

The Constitution was established to empower citizens, to respect their rights. Not to protect them. The reason I say this is because the Declaration of Independence specifically states that "all men are created equal."

You can argue all day about the connotations of that phrase, but the hard truth is that the laws of this country are designed around that idea of basic equality.

You said you fail to see how Dick Cheney's "unwillingness to give verbal approval and legal validation to his daughter's lifestyle" is an issue. You then said that "the same thing might be true if his daughter had a relationship with a man Cheney believed to be unsuitable."

The two issues are not the same. Cheney's daughter can be legally married to any man of her choosing, whether or not her dad likes it.

Cheney's daughter can not be legally married to any woman of her choosing. And right now her dad, in the capacity of lawmaker, is deliberately controlling her ability to do so--deliberately hindering her from having the same basic rights that he does.

That is a power imbalance. Pure and Simple. That is inequality under the law. That is unconstitutional.

That is *not* respect.

There is no way, no *possible* way, under any literal reading of the laws of this country, that denying anyone in this country their right to the pursuit of happiness, whether that means the right to marry or simply the right to go about their lives in peace, is authorized by the constitution. It was wrong when we did it to African Americans. It was wrong when we did it to Japanese Americans. It is wrong when our government does it to American immigrants and American citizens of foreign descent today under the guises of the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. And it is wrong when we do it to gays and lesbians. Period.

It is not respect to deny someone a basic human right. There is no possible way it can be considered respect, by any definition of the word.

It is disrespectful. It is inhumane. It is wrong.

Just one more thing I’ve been trying to say for days and then I’m done: H/D fans, if you need something to make you smile—and who doesn’t these days?—check out jenicomprispas’s latest ficlet. It’s adorable.

Love you, LJ. *collapses into bed*

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