Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Four-Twenty on the Hill

One of the many things that makes me feel proud to be a Canadian is the fact that I can sit in front of my nation's legislative building (as well as one of its prominent landmarks) and peacefully smoke marijuana without anyone bothering me.

Marijuana enjoys a degree of bad PR, being associated with stoners and potheads who spend so much time getting and being high that they are incapable of basic responsibilities like paying rent, or more benignly, hippies who enjoy their pot with dreadlocks, organic food, hackey-sack and clothing of questionable cleanliness. However, a surprisingly large number of "normal people" enjoy smoking the wacky tabacky as well, as the Reefer Madness stigma gradually wears off. Marijuana is smoked by students, young professionals, and celebrated Canadian author and journalist, the late Pierre Berton.

Every year on 4/20, Parliament Hill is crowded with a greater-than-usual RCMP presence, to bust up those who get out of line. The thing is, I have never seen anyone making trouble at 4/20. Sure, they do produce a lot of litter (mostly food wrappers and discarded Green Party literature), but the stoners aren't there to cause ruckus. They blow bubbles, play guitar and hackey-sack, throw frisbees, and sunbathe. They crowd (patronize) all food-serving establishments within about 1.5km of Parliament Hill. They are too mellow to get into fights or deface public property. And the RCMP, apparently, understands this, and leaves them alone, providing they are not openly consuming alcohol.

(Another possible explanation is that it's really not plausible to arrest a thousand 15-to-35-year-olds, no matter how obvious it is that they are all smoking dope.)

The cheer that goes up from the crowd on Parliament Hill when the Peace Tower clock strikes 4:20, followed by profuse coughing, is more than a demonstration to legalize marijuana. It's symbolic of what a great country we live in -- a country that is reasonable, a country that does not let baseless morality prevent its citizens from engaging in harmless recreation.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

This appeared on a friend's Facebook notes (seeing the title and knowing the friend in question to be a liberal, albeit one of the southern-US variety, I was overwhelmed with curiosity). He didn't take credit for creating it, but was also unable to remember the source; in any case, I thought it cute and funny. Of course, my thinking it "cute" is probably a big reflection on the fact that I live in a jurisdiction where gay marriage is legal; I might feel rather more strongly about it should I live in, say, California or New York.

(Side note: Interestingly enough, there is some evidence to suggest that homosexuality is not merely just another orientation that doesn't, or shouldn't, affect straight people -- it may be one of nature's ways of dealing with overpopulation. I couldn't find any direct research or scholarly articles dealing with this study, so it should be treated carefully, but found several references, including in the Hypography science forums, to a study done with mice [and possibly again with monkeys] that, given sufficient food and water but finite amounts of space, populations would exhibit higher rates of homosexual sex as space ran out. So maybe Russel Peters was dead-on when he observed that "we could use a couple of homos in India right now.")

I found myself reading the Fundies Say The Darndest Things website last night (which is about hilarious/disturbing things said by ultra-conservative Christians and Christian Fundamentalists, not maritimers dealing with especially high tides). The Fundies in question take swipes primarily at homosexuals and atheists/evolutionists, although they don't leave out Muslims, Jews, pagans, liberals, or women (at least the ones who vote, work outside the home, or get raped). The idea that homosexuality is a choice or a lifestyle to which one can be "recruited" or "converted" rather than a genetic predisposition is kind of taken for granted:

"The only solution we have to stop gays from recruiting other people is to cut off the source."

[On what to do about their son, who recently came out]
"I talked it over with his therapist, who had the ludicrous idea that homosexuality was unchangable and that trying to repress could lead to lots of psychological damage (I've dropped him and will try to be finding another therapist with more moral beliefs). I wouldnt be surprised if he's the one who's feeding my son all the homosexual propaganda about how its 'ok' to be gay. That, or how homosexuality has engulfed the media, making it seem 'cool' and 'hip' and how they were just another oppressed minority. You didnt have to worry about seeing two men making out on tv at my age! I dont want to sound like a fanatic, but Im worried what other effects will come out of this increasingly secular, immoral society obsessed with filth." [sic]

And finally, a guy who has never heard of gay people practising safe sex, or straight people contracting/dying of STIs, or what exactly causes cancer:
"*If* it's right, why do most, if not all, homosexuals die young of diseases
like AIDS, Hepatitis and Cancer?"

Now that we know that homosexuality is genetic, this raises the question of what is considered "natural" -- most people would say that "natural" implies that something appears in or is caused by nature, as homosexuality clearly is, evidenced by the fact that it happens not infrequently in the animal world, too. The only way that one could argue that homosexuality is unnatural would be to say that it is uncommon, by which token albinos, those with birth defects, and those with "outie" belly-buttons are all unnatural. (One Fundie suggests that "most afflictions like this are caused by sins committed while still inside the womb." So if killing gays is desirable, and I can find out that my baby is gay while the bun's still in the oven, would that justify an abortion, Fundies?)

The problem with the Fundies is that you can't argue with them on fair terms; they pick and choose which facts they accept or reject. They will swear up and down that "nothing good has ever come from 'science'", but the day an archeological excavation unearths the stable in which baby Jesus was born, they will jump for joy and point fingers, saying that this is just more "proof" that Luke's (highly historically inaccurate) birth narrative is true, word for word, as found in the KJV.

(The KJV, by the way, is frequently held up by Fundamentalists and the uneducated alike as being the only reliable translation, sometimes going as far as to say that the KJV was in heaven, with God, in English, since the beginning of time. All "real" biblical scholars consider the KJV to be laughably inaccurate and highly theologized. The KJV is to the original Hebrew and Greek what the hilariously mistranslated subtitles are to the Chinese kung-fu movie.)

I did some further reading on one of the websites from which a Fundie quotation was lifted. It made a pretty serious case about "modest dress", and how wearing a bathing suit or looking at people wearing bathing suits is basically putting yourself on the path to hell. And I realized something: I could probably build a comparably strong case for running around naked. After all, isn't clothing just superfluous ornamentation designed to hide God's glorious creation that is the human body? It would be pretty presumptuous of a good Christian to assert that man-made clothes are better than God-given skin, right?

So here is what I propose: next time you find yourself conversing with a Fundie, take the moral high road. Inform them that crying at the funeral of a Christian is a shameful display of weak faith, that you are only having so much sex because the Holy Spirit wants you to, and that God created gay people for a reason (just like all the natural disasters, wars, famines, etc) and that questioning God's will in doing so is not very Christian.

Although, if you meet this guy:
"There are a lot of things I have concluded to be wrong, without studying them in-depth. Evolution is one of them. The fact that I don't know that much about it does not bother me in the least,"
You might have just as much fun replying, "Oh, I know! That is how I feel about church," just to watch his head explode.