Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Good News And Bad

Two pieces of news this week involving the continuing dissolving of what seems like half the USA over the fact that some men like to sleep with other men.

The good news first: Jason Collins has become the first major male American athlete to come out as gay:
I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.
There are a couple of things to say about this.  The first one is to echo what several people (including Glenn Greenwald, who doesn't get all that much praise around these parts) have noted, which is that this is only a genuine, honest-to-Gods absolute first if you pretend women athletes don't exist.  First high-profile male athlete will have to do.

Secondly, as I've said before, I would advise my allies to avoid responding to this news with some variation of "who cares", mistakenly believing they are demonstrating their acceptance of gays by suggesting this is not big news.  It is big news.  It is big news for any young gay man searching for role models in the world of professional sports.  It is big - and bad - news for those wanting to pretend physical aptitude and the world of sport exists entirely separately from those people and their love of small dogs and wallpaper samples.  If nothing else, given the reverence sportspeople hold for so many, news that one of them is uncommonly brave and looking to improve the lives of others through making himself a target should be sensibly considered as news.  I outsource further comments to SEK of Lawyers, Guns, and Money, who's been killing on this.

On the other hand, fuck all these guys
A group of conservatives in the Iowa state House have filed a measure that would cut the pay of state Supreme Court Justices by around 80 percent — but only for the ones who voted to legalize same sex marriage in 2009.
But Republican state Reps. Tom Shaw and Dwayne Alons insisted to The Gazette on Tuesday that the reduction in pay was not a punishment.

“It’s our responsibility to maintain the balance of power,” Shaw explained. “We’re just holding them responsible for their decision, for going beyond their bounds.”
C'mon, you cowards.  Just confess it's a punishment and be done.  Hell, punishment is a better motive for pulling this crap than the one you're hanging on.  Once you start arguing that the balance of power can only be maintained by structural imbalances generated by political calculation, you're on the mother of all slippery slopes, and the place it finally bottoms out in is not somewhere anyone wants to be except those people who dream of their faces painted onto the sides of tanks. 

The people who voted these judges in were themselves voted in by the people of Iowa.  The people made their decision, then the politicians made their decision, and then the judges made their decision, and all of those decisions pissed you off.  That is not imbalance.  That is democracy. 

There is nothing in the Republican mindset - not the laughing at scientists, not the dismissal of the world beyond their borders, not even the insistence that the three people killed by the Tsarnaev's bomb were victims of some existential threat to the American people but the person killed by the Tsarnaev's gun was simply a sacrifice to freedom - that convinces me more than this that the GOP exists not as party but as plague than this.  Than the constant argument, in words and in actions, that the worst thing that can happen to America is the entirety of its citizen body gaining free access to its mechanisms of selection, and the entirety of its political body getting equal access to its mechanisms of power.  The cult of the filibuster has joined the cult of "voter fraud", and the cult of "judicial activism", and in the welding together of this coalition of the paranoid and the petty, some well-known villains have resurfaced wearing shiny new hats that look a lot like hoods if you catch a glimpse of them at just the right angle.

The Democrats do some terrible things with democracy.  The Republicans do their terrible things to it.  This, above all, should not be forgotten.

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