Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meet in the Middle for Equality to Overturn Prop 8 Rally Almost Overturned my Support for Gay Rights (Almost)

Fresno, CA—“Meet in the Middle” was the “angry protest” promised by the Overturn Prop 8 people in the aftermath of the Supreme Courts bullshit decision to Uphold Proposition 8, the measure that for the first time in history stripped a minority of their FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS.

So OF COURSE I was out there at Santa Monica and Valencia on Tuesday marching to protest Supreme Bullshit, and of course I was RSVP'ed to go to Fresno for “Meet in the Middle” on Saturday (it was between fighting for civil liberties and going to a party my friend was throwing in Hollywood, I THOUGHT I'd made the right choice).

Caravans of carpools and buses were organizing all over the state and Socal, so I showed up to Union Station to grab a comfy and fully guaranteed seat on the bus. Finding the bus was the start of my adventure.

I got to Union Station in LA riding on 2 hours of sleep and the promise of breakfast when I got there, parked my car topside and started walking around all alone with a big blue “I DO SUPPORT THE FREEDOM TO MARRY” eqca sign. I was trying to hide it behind my back but it was two sided so that didn't work out too well. All of the sudden some skinny Latino boy with a girly-walk ran up to me wanting to know where to meet up. I guess I wasn't the only one with the plan of “follow the people holding the signs.” His name was Darwin, we walked around until we saw someone in a Day of Decision sweatshirt who told us we were in the right place, early.

Darwin and I ended up sticking together while he checked out guys.

“Don't worry, I'm gonna introduce you to lots of girls,” he said to me, then pulled me over to a young lesbian couple and literally introduced me. I waved at them, Darwin did the talking. Darwin's friends eventually showed up in a little grey Centra, all tall, lanky, and as fruity as he was. They talked like valley girls with a limp wrist and a lisp, and smiled “Hayyy” as they shook my hand. We all grabbed car-paint pens and scribbled “Equal Rights” and “Love not H8” all over the little Centra until it was a rainbow nightmare. I personally scrawled “Freedom Fighters” on the side and we all took pictures in front of it while a documentary filmmaker interviewed us.

“Why are you here?” he asked me.

“I'm here to fight Supreme Bullshit because the ruling didn't change the last ruling in the San Francisco marriage cases, Prop 8 is still unconstitutional and we really need to ban together to fight for Equality,” I answered not realizing I'd said “we.”

The caravan was ready to leave and Darwin's friends had an extra seat in their car, so I gave up my guaranteed spot on the perfectly guaranteed safe-return bus and hopped in a car full of fabulous flamers and one short lesbian named Ana. Jaime was our driver, Sean was riding shotgun, while I rode in the back with Darwin and Ana. (We also grabbed like 3 boxes of cookies and muffins from the breakfast table for the ride).

“Get down!” Darwin called and ducked as we were pulling away. Apparently he'd grabbed a gas card after Jaime had already been given a gas car, and Sean pulled out his own gas car that the organizers had given him also. $75 worth of free gas for equality by accident.

“Alright we've got the trip paid for, now lets go to Disneyland!” said Darwin.

“Wouldn't it be funny if that's what everyone ended up doing? Taking the gas cards and not showing up to the Rally?” We kicked around the idea for a moment and then hopped on the 101 to find an Exxon Mobil. A text from Ana's mother read “Y R U going 2 Fresno? Nothing up there but fruit, vegetables and Mexicans!”

“Luckily, Dawin doesn't just like Fruits, he LOVES vegetables!” said Sean.

“I wanna suck on some cucumbers but hell no Mexicans!” scoffed Darwin, who was Nicaraguan.

“Whoa!” I exclaimed wide-eyed and surprised, at which point Sean leaned back and said, “you'll never think about salad the same way again,” at which point Ana shot back, “she doesn't need to, she's a lesbian.”

Whoa. This was going to be an interesting car ride.

Sean and Darwin switched seats at the gas station we found in Boyle Heights, Jaime's hometown (we were going the wrong way but intended to turn around after we filled up). Sean sat in between in me and Ana for the rest of the way up to Fresno and chatted like a gitty school-girl about how they'd been at Club Rage the previous night and were rolling off 3 hours of sleep.

“My gay friend took me to Rage for his 21st birthday,” I said, “it was an educational experience seeing all those beautiful guys grinding on each other.” That comment was followed up by a rash of jokes about how a lesbian found gay guys attractive and self-promoting comments about things they wanted to do to each other. I don't know how I got into a conversation with Sean about politics, but the only way I could save my Republican skin from a Liberal tongue-lashing was asking Sean personal questions.

“So, can I ask you a question I've always wanted to ask a gay guy but have been too embarrassed?” We turned to face each other like teenage girls talking about secret crushes all excited. “Can guys have sex like...facing each other?” He laughed and then went into incredibly graphic detail about the fundamentals of gay sex, which I really didn't need to know. Sean gave me the whole lowdown on gay-terminology, positions, “tops,” “bottoms,” and “various',” which apparently means either or.

“That's one of the standard questions about gay sex,” he said coming back to my question, “the standard question I've always wanted to know about lesbian sex is—“ brrrriiiiinnggg.

THANK GOD MY CELL PHONE RANG! It was the Courage Campaign people calling to see if I was going to canvas with them tomorrow. I struggled to hear them over Britney Spears and Miley Cirus tunes blasting on Jaime's radio, and tried to carry on the conversation as long as possible with the guy on the other end so that by the time I'd gotten off the cell phone, Ana and Sean had already changed the subject of the conversation.

Somewhere past Bakersfeild, a biker on a Harley pulled up next to our Rainbow Monstrocity and gave us the eye. Ana tried to ignore him but then smiled and waved, he flipped us off. I rolled down the window, flipped him double birdies and called him a faggot. Everyone in the car laughed.

"He's wearing velcro shoes!" called Ana.

After four hours on the road, we finally got into Fresno, Jesus' tourist trap. In town, bikers were everywhere but ignored us for the most part, and a few friendly cars honked at us in support. We parked, applied liberal amounts of sunscreen and pulled out our signs. A same-sex married couple came up to us to say hi and when they saw my sign they nearly blew a gasket.

“Don't use EQCA signs, they're always trying to hijack our events, here use this sign.” They threw my blue sign back in Jaime's trunk and gave me a hand-made sign that said “We Deserve Equal Marriage Rights.” Well, I ended up carrying around a We sign.

Boy was it HOT! Like a billion plus degrees. Darwin walked with his arm around me as he scanned all the non-hetero guys.

“This is where you find long-term relationship type stuff, we don't want that. We want quickies in the bathrooms, backs of cars, wherever but no longer than seven minutes, lets see who can get more,” I didn't say anything when he challenged me. Just changed the subject to a guy I saw walking around with cool spikey hair.

“Ooh, I like that guys hair,” I exclaimed. Darwin rolled with the fact that I was looking at a guy and looked with me.

“He's a bottom for sure.”

“He's pretty hot too,” I replied getting everyone in the group to look at me funny.

“No, you know who's hot,” said Darwin, “that camera guy.”

I looked over at the blatantly straight camera man with big arms and a tattoo and swooned right along with Darwin, who was by now eyeing me quite confused.

The rally kicked off with speakers from gay rights advocacy groups all over the country, but when “Don't Ask Don't Tell” victim Lt. Dan Choi got up on stage, everyone went WILD! In front of the news cameras, people stood up and clapped, but behind the press stage where the cameras couldn't see, everyone was jumping up and down and cheering. I was jumping like crazy, screaming and waving my We poster all over the place while Lt. Choi recited a poem in Arabic and a quote from “a President” who said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

"Well I'm tired of asking, I'm going to tell! And I'm going to keep telling all the way to Washington!" proclaimed Choi. I was cheering like I was at a rock concert, I'm a fan of soldiers seeing as I've always wanted to be one but have a problem with a certain combat-exclusion policy. Sean and I were chanting “Dan for President” after Lt. Choi's powerful speech. I would vote for that Korean man for President.

We all got pictures in front of a big banner that said “In Case You Haven't Noticed, This Flag Is Not White.” We couldn't stand another moment in the sun, so we left before Cleve Jones spoke to get some lunch. Stupid.

We stopped at a Jack in the Box and sat around a table Bullshitting. These guys were really cool. Most of my gay friends are the kind of guys who hang around straight men and have to tell you they're gay, but these flamboyant college kids were the kind of gay guys you party with. I was having the time of my life! They were sitting around the table talking about their sex lives, the men they'd dated, the women Ana had dated, and finally came to me. Uhhh...

I swallowed and was silent for a moment, now I knew what coming out must be like for gays. So, I set my drink to the side, folded my hands in front of me, and took a deep breath. Everyone's eyes were on me.

“Um, guys, you know this is probably going to sound like the weirdest coming out story you've ever hear but...I'm straight.”

Dead silence. Blank stares.

“What?” they asked after almost ten whole seconds. “Really?”

I nodded.

“Oh my god!” they exclaimed, then smiled quite surprised. “Why didn't you say anything?”

“I'm sorry, I didn't know how to approach it, I thought you would be like 'why are you here' if I pointed it out.”

I then explained to them why I was there. When I went out for the football team and the wrestling team in high school, I shaved my head for Hell Week just like the rest of the guys. I lost all my friends because they were homophobic, everyone called me a lesbian, no one hung around me because they were intimidated, guys didn't approach me. I told them how I'd been kicked out of lockerrooms, had complaints filed against me at the YMCA, been lectured by priests and doctors alike and been discriminated against for something I wasn't even anyway! I told them that I knew exactly what gays went through and anyone who voted Yes on 8 has never experienced real discrimination. Ending hate of homosexuals would make people stop hating me, and since I've been lumped in with them so many times, I feel like this is my fight too. This is ridiculous, if people harbored so much hate that it even spilled over onto kids who were straight, then I want to help. I also told them about my best friend who got thrown out of his house when he was 17 for telling his dad he was gay. I was totally anti-gay in 9th grade, but then my best friend came out to me and I thought “do I really want to lose my best friend?” The answer was obvious, and that is why I was at Meet in the Middle on Saturday.

“You are the most awesome straight girl in the world!” they all exclaimed. “How cute that she's coming out to us. How long have you known?” they joked.

“So that's why you were checking out my camera man!” joked Darwin.

They all proceeded to tell me their own coming out stories.

“Gosh but you were showing all the signs!”

“I'm sorry for throwing off your gay-dar,” I apologized. Then they got serious. They all apologized to me.

“You know, it's funny how we all get mad about people stereotyping us when we just turned around and did it to her.” We talked about how gay is perceived, and how funny that the stereotypes were affecting me in my life to the point where I'd be out there marching with them. It wasn't just a gay issue anymore. I found out Jaime had been in ROTC, not very stereotypical gay.

We finished our lunch and got back on the road, this time Ana sat in between me and Sean. Sean leaned over and raised his eyebrows at me.

“So it's good I never got to finish my question about lesbian sex isn't it.”

“I'm so glad my phone rang!” I exclaimed. The question was then fielded to Ana.

“So what do lesbians consider 'penetrative' sex?” asked Sean. An in-depth explanation about lesbian sex followed, again which I probably didn't need to know.

“Do you girls scissor?” Sean asked Ana, then explained to me what it was. I decided to hell with it and asked my own question.

“Don't lesbians do it with strap-ons?” This led to Sean asking me if I would ever “peg” a guy I was with.

“What the hell?” I asked. He then explained to me that “pegging” is doing a guy with a strap-on. All of this sex education was kind of overwhelming my comfort levels. Sean laughed and asked if they were making me uncomfortable. Ana said they were making her uncomfortable more than anything.

“She's asking questions, maybe she's bicurious or bisexual,” said Ana.

That threw me. My whole tone changed. I whirled and suddenly wanted nothing more than to get out of the car, and might have if we weren't in the middle of nowhere. In that moment, I realized why people voted Yes on Prop 8, and what gay people did to turn straight allies away from them. I also realized that picking and choosing which political beliefs from which political party to believe in lost you credibly.

“Ana, quit it, look you're making her blush!” said Sean. I don't know whether I was red from embarrassment or anger, but I was suddenly extremely uncomfortable sitting next to a lesbian whom I thought might have been trying to convert me. After I'd calmed down, I convinced myself that it had only been a passing comment and I was being irrational. I fidgeted uneasy for a long time after that. Suddenly we came up on highway 99.

“Hey guys, wanna go to Sequoia?” asked Jaime out of the blue, and the next second we were veering across 5 lanes onto Sequoia Hwy. We drove over snaking, winding roads all the way up mountains to the National Park. Darwin pee'd on General Sherman, Jaime got a ton of pictures of him posing like a model, Sean and Jamie got in a lot of catty arguments, which I learned gay guys do a lot, they're worse than women, and on our way back, we blew a tire. Nice. So there we were, 2 girls and 3 queens and none of us knew how to change a the dark. We waved someone down to help us and were about to get going when Darwin nearly had a heart attack from seeing a coyote. He was scared and jumped in the backseat.

“Drive, drive, drive!” he yelled. So we swerved down the forest roads once again, the altitude getting to us when suddenly Darwin called for us to stop because he was going to be car sick. It all went downhill from there. Darwin stopped responding to our questions and started wheezing. He was nearly passed out couldn't breathe or talk. We stopped the car and I leapt out and took Darwin's pulse. Fast and thready. His legs were cold, he wasn't sweating, I told Jaime to get on his cell phone because Darwin might have been having a heat stroke. No cell reception. Great! We waved down another shady driver who told us to get in his car and he'd take us for help. Um, stranger, red flag, we drove Darwin to the fire station. He was fine and apparently suffered an anxiety attack from the altitude, which he'd been dealing with all his life. It was midnight by the time we left the park.

"I wanted that firefighter to give me mouth to mouth with his tongue on my nipple!" exclaimed Darwin. We determined that hot guys are the cure to Darwin's anxiety attacks and we needed a hologram of guys whenever he started spazzing. A side thought crossed my mind that the Firefighters probably wouldn't want to be thanked by having gay guys ogle them.

So we ended up in a cheap hotel somewhere in Bakersfield. We snuck 5 people into a two bedroom with no toilet seat! We had to work out accommodations. Five people, two beds. They were going to make one bed the girls bed. That's where I got fidgety.

“I don't know how to say what I want to say without offending anyone,” I stammered. “It's weird, the gender roles are kinda reversed a little here. I'm sorry but I'm more comfortable sleeping next to a gay guy than I am next to a lesbian.” They understood and I ended up crowded onto a twin squashed in between Sean and Darwin. When I woke up the next morning, I was really ready to go home.

The Freedom Mobile was fun at the rally, but now in the middle of Bakersfield, it was suggested that we should look around for a hose.

“Nah,” said Jaime. There we were in the middle of god-knows-where surrounded by rednecks and wetbacks with a colorful kaleidoscope of liberty-and-justice-for-all-who-survive. We got the spare-tire changed at an all-hispanic tire place, crowded back in and drove back down to LA.

"We didn't get to meet any hot guys on this trip! Let's go pick some up, Nicole said she's gay."

"Hey!" I shouted, ready to punch him.

"I said you're game," said Darwin.

"Oh," I replied, and stayed quiet for a long time after that, peering out the window.

One day of spanish bubblegum pop blasting and every other word being a sex joke was fun for a while, but the second day, I found myself cursing queers and I'd never said the word queer in my life.

“I'm sorry,” said Sean, “we don't mean to talk about so much sex but when you get a car full of sexually frustrated gay guys, that's all you're gonna hear,” then they went back to making sexual innuendo and Ana kept talking about what it was like to be a lesbian. I tried to pay attention but at that point honestly didn't want to hear it. At that point I was gayed out, done, felt weird, and did NOT want to know what it was like to be a lesbian. We parked at a grocery store so Darwin could use the bathroom yet again and a truck pulled up with a bumper sticker that said “Freedom isn't Free, Protected by Smith and Wesson.”

“That truck is packing, probably Republicans,” scoffed Ana. They didn't notice me peer genuinely annoyed at them through my sunglasses. It was Democrats who passed Prop 8. Finally back down the highway to LA, rolling on a few hours of sleep and kinked necks, we dropped Ana off at Occidental College to go straight to the Canvas, and dropped Darwin off in East LA.

“Home Sweet Home,” he mused as I saw what was probably the cause of his anxiety, I mean it's East LA.

Jaime dropped me and Sean off right back where we'd started at Union Station. We all got contact info and parted ways. I left kicking myself for not bringing a camera because this would have made one hell of a documentary!

Well, all in all, Meet in the Middle was eventful, chaotic, insightful and an experience. I missed a happening party in LA to go, but had some form of crazy fun anyway. However, I think I'm pretty gayed-out, I'm sorry to say I left my “I DO” sign in Jaime's trunk. I still think the Supreme Court's decision was wrong, and with this whole abortion thing, am still scared my own rights will be taken away by popular vote, but now instead of holding a sign that says “Vote No on Prop 8,” I think I'll make a sign that just says “Vote” seeing as this WHOLE MESS happened because gays didn't all get out and vote the first time around. So far I've met at least five who didn't vote. Forget right and wrong for a moment, people died for everyone's right to vote, and no one does. Now that a national movement for full federal equality has been sparked, Prop 8 may have been the best thing to ever happen to the gay community seeing as now they're all going to come out to vote for their own proposition next year and get all their rights and then some. Right, wrong, how about just what's easy? The gay community knows what it has to do.

I'll vote however they tell me to, but I think my protesting days will be better spent studying for myself from now on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop 8 Supreme Court Decision (Since the Court Site has Crashed)

Link to the decision. Please summarize it for me in the comments, I'm too heartbroken to read it now.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to Get a Girl

Tip 1: Stand up to her older brother

My little brother punks on all of my little sister's friends constantly. These poor guys who tread the loser path instead of waltzing down popularity lane have to put up with my superjock bro who intimidates the heck out of them intentionally. I see how he does it. He stands right next to them looking very alpha-male and just nonchalantly says "sup," but that's all he says to them, then he does the usual brother routine with my sister and starts punking her around in front of her guy friends. Brothers do this to sisters, they're intentionally annoying. So he cracks on her hair, her freckles, her grades, her glasses, her braces etc. all in front of her guy friends, and then just goes and stands next to them while they shrivel up like kicked puppies.

Now I’m the oldest of the family, if I feel like it, I go stand next to my little brother standing next to my little sisters friends and say “sup,” and he smiles like a little kitten and walks away. I love the power that comes with being the oldest and the strongest, it gives me the power to laugh hysterically at bullies, mostly that’s what I do though when it comes to my siblings, sit back and watch the entertainment. I will admit that my little brother’s behavior borders on the slightly ass-hole, so when my sister’s friends leave, I ask him about it. Here’s what he said.

“If he would have stood up to me, I would have just been cool with it and given him a hi-five, at least he’s got some nuts, but they all just shut up like little bitches.”

Oh, I see. My little brother’s boyish antics towards other boys are primitive pecking order rituals, 15 year old boys test other 15 year old boys’ strength, which is measured not in physical prowess, but in wit. I’ve noticed the guys that my brother hangs out with are just as witty, they trade insults with each other, and they can keep up with each other. Apparently status is measured by how good you can spar with half-hearted insults, spar, mind you, not fight.

But through all this, my little sister is enduring emotional turmoil, having her self-esteem tramples on in the midst of my brother’s pecking order ritual, seeing as she’s the object of ridicule. Her hair is getting pointed out, which she spends hours doing to avoid such ridicule, her freckles are being analyzed, which she uses gobs of unhealthy chemicals to cover up, everything about her is being pointed out and laughed at, and she doesn’t care about the boy-things going on between the lines, all she knows is that she’s getting picked on. That sucks.

So given what I know from watching and listening to both my little brother and my little sister’s point of view, if I were one of her little friends, I’d stand up to my older brother. Seriously. Say “hey, don’t talk to her like that!” and be firm about it.

My little bro is of course going to stand up tall like an over-exaggerated alpha dog and go “or else what?” or “do something.” Classic GQ bully wannabe stuff. Just ignore him!

“You shouldn’t be talking to her like that!” just repeat it over and over again. “She’s none of those things you say she is. She’s nice, smart, beautiful and funny and she’s everything you’re not. You’re an asshole for treating her like that.”

Observe: You didn’t get dragged into an insult sparring match with my bro, or goaded into something that could end in physical violence which my bro would obviously win (unless you’ve got some secret ninja tricks hidden up your sleeve for dealing with bullies), you stood up to him showing your “nuts” and at the same time complimented my little sister. You exhibited two things that are attractive to women, confidence and strength.

At this point, after you’ve said the above, my little brother, being the clown he is, would have backed down, given you a hi-five and never bothered you again. Unfortunately, he still would have cracked on my sister, just not as hard because the game would be over, and you would have won. You’d have won much more than just respect, you’d have caught the eye of a very attractive popular girl (girls fantasize about guys who stick up for them).

Now, let’s say if the scenario had been some other less intelligent guy than my little brother who really was punking around a girl because that’s the only way he knows how to communicate. Standing up to dumb bullies is an insult to their pride, which may very well end in physical violence no matter which way you spin it. It all comes down to how much you’re willing to endure for the heart of a girl or for your morals in general. `If you stand up to a dumb bully, you might get your ass kicked, but here’s the real kicker. If you get your ass kicked standing up for a girl, you’ll win the heart and the sympathy of said girl. She’ll gush all over you because you got hurt and because you stood up for her. Give it your all of course, fight like a wild dog and at least try to look like you got at least one good shot in, but how much of a slap in the face would it be for the dumb bully to know that you’re dating his sister or you have a girlfriend and he doesn’t. You win.

So, in conclusion, confidence is the key to success. Endure a little scrutiny and stand up for your beliefs and you will be swimming in female fondness.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Uneducated Christians Hold Progress Back

I realized why zealous Christians will never stop criticizing science no matter how much empirical proof is thrown at them. The majority of them have never even taken a science class in their lives, to them, science is just another religion.

In a country where only 10% of the population graduates from four year institutions anymore (ALL four year institutions, including high schools), children are exposed to church basically from birth, but may never step foot inside a biology class. The foundational principals of blind-faith are ingrained in them from baptism and hard study of scientific principal is not explored in-depth at all until at least the ninth grade. Schools are charged with undoing 15 years of damage, which is very unlikely to happen in one semester, or in the week max that students spend studying evolution.

The conclusion, no wonder science doesn't make sense to zealous Christians, they can't understand it. In this country's education system, that's no surprise. On the flipside, biology class can't be much more boring than church can it? The same people who will begrudgingly leave a bio lab for God will go sit in church for fear of damnation if they don't. Well, damnation to hell in a second life that may not even exist for not going to church is obviously more convincing than damnation to poverty for not staying in school. Obviously.

I tried to have a conversation with my dad about Humanity's origins, I explained that we started as unicellular organisms that split and multiplied to create multicelluar organisms and eventually changed into their present day forms over millions of years to cope with their respective environments. "That's how babies are formed, from single cells that split and multiply," I explained. It's not the best argument, but it's an analogy that him, being uneducated from Albania, might understand. He was outraged.

"I don't come from an amoeba!" he touted. "Just look at how complicated living things are! No mistake in nature could have come up with such a sophisticated and complicated system!"

Um, yes, it can and it did and the fact that we're standing here today is proof that it did. No theoretical conceptualized logic-proof (a proof and to prove, two different things btw) that Descartes wrote can undo the fact that we're here, he himself said "I am, therefore I exist."

The only shred of empirical proof that Christians have for God stems from the lack of proof scientists have for certain scientific phenomena. "Oh well explain this, explain that, hah! You can't! Therefore God must exist." We can't explain magnetism either, does that mean it doesn't exist? We can't completely explain evolution but we can see that it has happened and can see it happening just like magnetism, but until you can throw it under a microscope, Christians will not be satisfied, and even then, they'll find a way to keep looking away. It's like how cheating spouses will deny they cheated until you show them a video of them in the act, or how criminals will claim innocence until you show them the surveilance video.

Christian faith in an external God is ironically based on a lack of faith in an internal self. Of all the wondrous and amazing things that the Human mind, body, and spirit are capable of, people don't have the self-confidence to take credit for their acts or abilities, so they attribute it to an external inspiration-source to qualify their feats. It people would start believing in themselves, the need for a God would disappear. Maybe the churches know this, which is why they strive to hold people down and tell them they're incapable worthless shmucks without God--to keep their jobs.

Even professed "experts" who take up the study of scientific principals for the sake of refuting them, religion still came first. Religion set its roots, held its influence, and did its damage long before the school tried to intervene and failed. For some people, there is no hope and no escape and the only thing they can do is what they are programed to do--convert people. Yet for some, they see the light, realize that the ultimate aim of religion is to make good people and decide that they can be good people without proverbs or worship. Some people need religion, and that's okay, but some people don't, and that's fine too, just please someone graffiti over the billboard on the 105 Freeway that says "Pull the Plug on Atheism," I don't want to have to be subjected to this ignorance in this anti-intellectual society anymore.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Who Watched the Watchmen?

Rotten Tomatoes gave Watchmen a 64%. What! RT complains that Snyder didn't stay true to Allan Moore's "vision" by spicing up the fight scenes, beautifying everyone, and changing dialogue.

First, let me throw it out there, this is a hard movie to understand if you have not read the novel. If you have read the novel, do not go see this movie with someone who has not, they will not get it and will ruin your experience.

This movie is essentially making fun of superheroes. The infamous Rorschach is a parody of the Question, and breaks the superhero code of honor: Superheroes don't kill people. Watchmen puts a grungy spin on the superhero by portraying it as if it were an actual profession, making the unreal completely realistic and they pretty much go around acting like rogue Blackwater operators.

But despite its namesake, Watchmen is NOT a superhero movie, it is a Human-hero movie. In the end when the twisted, completely f-d up climax of the whole movie is finally revealed, and all of those superheros with their psychic powers and technological turmoils are finally faced with the age-old dilemma of "what should we do," Rorschach, the guy in the trench coat with his only claim to superhero-dom being a sock over his face, was the only one who got it right.

A greater good in which even one person has to die unwillingly is not a greater good. Two wrongs don't make a right. "If you would have cared from the beginning, none of this would have happened."

Dr. Manhattan, the idealized image of "God," discovers the value of Humanity, which is one of the prime epiphanies of the movie. This is a Human-hero movie for the Y2K generation, who has never witnessed anything like this before.

People who were alive back when the cold-war was a reality and the doomsday clock was actually in the papers complain that this movie wasn't true to the original concept and has instead spun off into a cheap action thrill-ride. Well, I've got a bit of a newsflash, THIS MOVIE WASN'T FOR YOU! If Snyder would have made this movie for you, he would have made no money. This was for 18-25 year old's who literally just saw The Dark Knight like a second ago, that's what they're going to be comparing it to whether we like it or not. That is the reason for the hyped-up fight scenes and the dramatic undertones, the enhanced athleticism of the characters from fat, paunchy, average joes to actual superheros so that they didn't look like they were parading around in Halloween costumes, and unfortunately also for the raunchy porno sex scenes (18-25 year old wank-off's expect that from a movie made by the guy who did 300 because of Leonidas' patootie scene). Honestly, what is this new "purist" movement going around? Who wants to see movies that are too akin to real life? If I wanted to see a movie about an insurance salesman and his problems in life, or a senior analyst living an average life, I'd save myself the cash and just look outside. I go to movies to be entertained, and this movie still managed to be entertaining given the fact that it was basically charged with portraying a dead message (who the heck is afraid of the Soviets anymore).

In conclusion, this movie had a lot of turn-off's. The bone-crushing fight scenes and the porno sex were very annoying, but I understand why they were there. You have to be intelligent to understand this movie, Allan Moore's comic did not hand you the meaning on a silver platter, the majority of American's with a 6th grade reading level would have come out of the theater completely unentertained if they couldn't at least say there was some cheap sex and shoestring action to top it off.

The book hit hard, there is no doubt about the fact that Watchmen changed people, but my generation just isn't living in the cold-war, and this movie wasn't about the war on terror. It would have gone completely over our heads and for the most part, did. Take away about 1/8 from the books hit and that's about how hard the movie hits. For the time constraints, this movie still showcased all of Allan Moore's morals and original story epiphanies, the deeper meaning is there, unfortunately you will have to sit and think about it on your drive home to get it, it will not pop out at you.

Definitely go see this movie, but take it with a grain of salt.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Prop 8 WILL be Overturned...The LA Times Miscalled It

The LA Times has wrongly called oral arguments against Prop 8 before the Supreme Court last Thursday a lost cause. Luckily, I was there when it happened with an in-depth analysis of the case regarding Proposition 8—a measure that amends the California Constitution in a way that strips homosexuals of the right to marry.

Last year, the High Court ruled that Prop 22—a part of the Equal Protection Clause in our Constitution that recognized marriage as only between one man and one woman—was unconstitutional because it stripped a suspect classification of a fundamental right. Now Prop 8 has been called Prop 22 turned into an amendment. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether Prop 8 constitutes an amendment or a revision to the California Constitution in determining its validity.

Shannon Minter of the ACLU argued that not only did Prop 8 take away “the fundamental right to marry from same-sex couples...without compelling government interest,” it enacted a “wide-sweeping change in governmental structure.” Minter argued that the case of “Livermore v. Wade” held that amendments cannot change the core underlying concepts of our Constitution (the Equal Protection Clause of our Constitution is a core underlying concept). Furthermore, it was argued that the people cannot use the initiative process to reinstate a statue the Court has ruled unconstitutional, instead it must follow a separate process outlined in the Livermore case called the revision process, where parts of the Constitution are revised in order to make a proposed statue mesh with the existing framework of the Constitution.

When asked by Chief Justice George about how the case “People v. Frierson” played into his argument, Minter retorted that Frierson “did not strip a fundamental right from a suspect classification. Instead it reinstated a remedy clear across the board.” Raymond Marshal followed up on that point arguing that Frierson was a ruling on “the definition of cruel and unusual punishment,” not the case of an amendment vs. a revision. What happened in the Frierson case was that the death penalty was ruled cruel and unusual punishment and was hence repealed. The people recalled three Justices of the California Supreme Court, replaced them with Justices who ruled the death penalty was not cruel and unusual punishment and hence reinstated it. Dad said no, so they ran to mom.

The Supreme Court went on to ask Theresa Stewart of Lamda Legal how the case “Raven v. Deukmejian” does not affirm the people's ability to remove fundamental rights from a suspect classification. Steward argued that the Raven case constituted a revision because it “removed the power of the State to interpret its own Constitution” but still “did not take personal rights away from one group.” Raven was Prop 115 which stated criminal's rights could not be interpreted any differently than the US Federal Constitution dictated them. That constituted a revision and was thrown out on the grounds that it was a revision, not that it removed rights from a suspect class. Both of these cases restored remedies. What that means when compared to Prop 8: Apples to Oranges.

According to Chief Justice George, since the High Court has never had a case like this before, under the second prong of the 2 part test the Court has established for determining a revision (prong one a quantitative test; prong two a qualitative test), the Court is not limited toonly structural changes in government, and leaves open the possibility that fundamental changes in social rights may constitute a qualitative revision. In fact, it even articulated a possible ruling that “an initiative that alters a fundamental right of a suspect classification constitutes a revision,” according to Justice Corrigan.

Assistant Attorney General Chris Krueger's argument was slightly more novel in that even if Prop 8 is an amendment, it is an ultra vires amendment that the Court has no compelling state interest in upholding. “Amendments cannot be used to take away civil liberties without a compelling State interest,” argued Krueger citing the Raven Case. Courts can indeed strip fundamental rights from suspect classifications, but only if there is some very very good reason pertaining to a State's governmental structure and the ability to run itself. What possible benefit to our governmental structure could not recognizing gay marriage have? Kenn Starr of Pepperdine University, who represented the Intervenors, thinks he has an answer.

“The will of the people is sovereign even if unwise,” argued Kenn Starr. When asked by Chief Justice George if an amendment could be enacted to repeal the freedom of speech, Kenn Starr replied “as long as the people knew what they were voting for, yes.” To quote a movie featuring another famous code of laws, “they're more like guidelines anyway.” “It is the people's right to decide what is wise when it comes to their own legal structure,” argues Starr. My response: then what do we have Courts for? This constitutes a HUGE sweeping change in governmental structure. It takes the power of the Courts and puts it in the hand of the people. The end result: Mob Rule. Out of all the Justices, only one, Justice Kennard, vocally expressed a somewhat agreeable opinion that the people were sovereign but prefaced it by saying “in my opinion.”

According to the Preamble of our California Constitution, Theresa Stewart of Lamda Legal argued that “we the people came together to enact a legally binding document called the Constitution, and we understood that we the people meant all people because it says so in the Preamble.” In response to Starr's argument, this means that all people came together in a legally binding agreement to follow the rules and procedures they set forth in the Constitution, and that there would be a uniform process for revising or amending the Constitution. That is a core underlying principal which Prop 8 upended and went around.

“What I'm picking up is that this Court should willy-nilly disregard the will of the people,” Justice Kennard insenuated. Stewart answered that accusation by saying that the people could likewise not willy-nilly disregard the rules they placed upon themselves. The people do in fact have a “very broad power to amend their Constitution” but must do so in the way they entered into a legally binding agreement to do. If the people don't have to follow their own rules and they don't have to follow the Court's rules, whose rules do they have to follow? What's the point of even having a Constitution if the people have some inalienable right to “willy-nilly” disregard it at will? “Enforcing the statutes while ignoring the reasons they were enacted is like protecting the moat while allowing the castle to burn down,” argued Stewart.

“Doesn't Prop 8 only take away the nomenclature of marriage?” asked Chief Justice George. In a resounding hypothetical, Petitioners suggested that women in California cannot serve on the Judicial Bench, and addressing the Justices themselves, “Justice Corrigan, Justice Kennard, you would be called Commissioners (given your gender), while Chief Justice George would be called a Judge.”

“Justice,” the Court corrected.

“So what, it's only nomenclature right? It's not that important.” That point hit home and even got a laugh out of the Justices. Shannon Minter of the ACLU argued that the elements of marriage are organically intertwined and removing any element changes the entire institution.

Kenn Starr believed that while “denying only the recognition” of marriage did not take away any other rights of same-sex couples, people can wake up tomorrow and find they're not married but it shouldn't bother them because they have the putative spouse remedy. That was the argument Kenn Starr used to attempt to invalidate the 18,000 same-sex marriages already performed, to which the Court said “that was the law of the land at the time, and if the people cannot rely on this Court to tell them the laws, who can they rely on?”

The most important reason why Prop 8 should be invalidated according to the Petitioners is because of the foundational guarantee of equal citizenship. Prop 22 is still unconstitutional, the issue being looked at is do the people have a right to carve an exception out of equal protection? “A conditional guarantee of equal protection is no guarantee at all,” argued Stewart.

“Kenn Starr is arguing a system of Democracy, fortunately it is not this state's system of Democracy,” said Mark Rosenbound, Legal Director for the ACLU in a post-hearing press conference. “California is not a system where minorities' rights are subject to the whim of the majority. If Proposition 8 is upheld, there is no limit to the discrimination that can be mandated by the Constitution.”

Erik Dutch, a long time resident of North Hollywood, seems to agree. “If they want to get married, go for it, let them be miserable just like the rest of us!” However, the hate among some supporters is so ingrained that when Kenn Starr was asked by the Court if calling all marriages in California “civil unions” would satisfy them, Starr said it would. They would give up the right to marry completely before sharing it with homosexuals. Go for it! Then after all this has blown over, lets change the nomenclature of civil unions back to marriage!! (Just nomenclature right?).

When I personally asked Mark Rosenbound about Kenn Starr's comparison of gay marriage to pluralist marriage, Rosenbound responded that “being gay is not a lifestyle. A homosexual individual can turn around tomorrow and choose to be straight as easily as a heterosexual individual can turn around tomorrow and choose to be gay.”

If it's an amendment, it flies. If it's a revision, it dies. Essentially, here are the two side's arguments in perspective: one side, “they're taking away my right to marry the person I love.” The other side, “they're taking away my right to take their rights away.” The Court will decide which right they do and do not have. For everyone who was scared by the LA Times' lack of comprehension in reporting on this case, DO NOT WORRY. Do not stop believing in what you believe because it is unpopular and no matter what the outcome, get ready for rippling repercussions. As the ACLU and opponents of Proposition H8 have so unanimously resounded, “win or lose, this is just the beginning.”

Sunday, March 01, 2009

MILK: Go See It

Even if you're not all into the Gay Rights Movement, go see this movie. This is a story about Political Activism. It is a story about one man making a difference and fighting the powers that be. This movie was heartwarming and there was also a personal side to it, it makes you want to get up and change something. At the very least, it will make you want to go out and vote.

When the movie ended, everyone just stayed in their seats. For at least a whole minute after the credits came on, it was all dead silence. No one moved. We were caught in some freeze frame, some time warp that left us all wanting to applaud, but yet we all stayed quiet as if were actually there when the event happened. The feeling was surreal.

There are lots more hot guys kissing in this movie than there were in Brokeback Mountain though, so be wary about taking your old fashioned father out to dinner and a movie.