Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NDY Day, 2008

It's the day ... the big day. It's here at last. The milestone...

NDY Day.

Not Dead Yet Day, heretofore known as your "birthday," and as clearly distinct from KTB Day, which will forever be celebrated as the day one Kicked The Bucket. Hopefully, bucket kicking activities will not be attempted by this NDY Day celebrant for some considerable time.

Or, to put it another way, Keegan's turning 50.

Like Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Richard Burgi, Tim Burton, Michael Flatley, Gary Oldman, Viggo Mortensen, Kevin Sorbo, Ice-T, and a whole bunch of others, including but not limited to some really weird ones, like Whacko Jacko himself. And this celebrity group has only just got its collective nose in front of the 1959 batch, which includes Bryan Adams, Sean Bean, Bill Campbell, Tobias Moretti, Adrian Paul, Kevin Spacey, Ken Watanabe, and many others who were not quite lucky enough to have been born in '58, but they deserve a "runner up" award for coming close.

(The above co-winners of the Born in 1958 Award are listed in alphabetical order to prevent Keegan being accused of playing favorites.)

So, what's the deal with the day? It's also KDO -- Keegan's Day Off. We're "doing lunch" locally, and then swinging up into the valley this evening for coffee, desserts and wine, and the whole "romantic evening thing." Nice.

In other news today (on the clear understanding that when one hits the big five-oh, little things like presidential elections, stock market meltdowns and national-frenzy horse races are quite naturally bumped onto the back burner)...

Prop 8 is going to be a close-fought thing, and it's no surprise. I'm not saying much about it lately because, frankly, I think I've said it all -- with the exception of this little gem:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable [inalienable] Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

There is -- in secular law at least, no answer to that ... unless you want to contend that the founding fathers got it wrong, and that there are, and should be, different laws for different people.

For example, what about the inalienable rights of certain people whose skin is a different shade of brown? No one in the earlier America seemed to have a problem when Africans were shipped in as property, en masse ... and the rest was history.

The whole Prop 8 question has been about the articles of the constitution itself ... and if "Prop Hate" passes, you'll know from where the blade fell, because the First Amendment itself is where the problem lies. It's specific ... and it's not reciprocal.

Here it is, verbatim:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Here's what it says in plain English:
Government is not allowed to muck about in the establishment or behavior of religions; Government is not allowed to stop you, or the media, speaking your mind.
You have the right to protest, demonstrate, but not to riot, to catch the attention of Government and have your grievances aired.

Here's what is DOES NOT SAY:
Church is not allowed to muck about in government. (Therefore, Church can.)
Church is not allowed to curtail freedom of speech. (Therefore, Church can.)

The Constitution itself should have denied the very existence of any slave state -- it didn't. And, God-wise, the First Amendment only states that the Government won't/can't interfere in the formation and running of religion ... it doesn't say a syllable about the church not being allowed to slither its way into the White House and call the shots for the whole country.

The "separation of church and state" is something that's grown up, apocryphally, in the public consciousness ... it's "real" in your mind because, since 1878, it's appeared at law. In fact, it dates from an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson to a local religious body. Constitutionally? Well, the separation of church and state is certainly there -- but it really only protects the church against the government ... not the government (ie., secular law) against the church!

(It's very possible that Jefferson might actually have wanted to write in a clause that protected secular government from the church; if he did, he was never able to get the wording quite right, because according to the First Amendment, there's no such protection.)

Now, churchmen America-wide are divided on the question of Prop 8, but it would be accurate to say that by far the majority are against the civil liberties of allowing gay marriage. And they're quite safe to pursue this relgiocentric position -- right into the White House itself.

If the Christian Fundamentalists really do grasp power in the US, sometime in the next couple of decades -- as is on the cards -- it'll be the constitution itself which allows it to happen through the lack of reciprocity in that First Amendment.

For anyone (gays, pagans, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, atheists, free-thinkers) who doesn't follow the religious norm, the constitution has a leaky hole that no one, yet, has plugged. There are ways -- strong ones -- to make church law govern the people: all you need is Bible-thumpers and God-botherers in the Senate, the Congress, the White House and the Pentagon. (And, heaven help us, they're already there...)

If Prop 8 passes tomorrow, when it's November 4th on t'other side of the dateline ... well, there remains one halfway decent thing that comes out of it: the GLBTI community will know what the majority of people actually believe ... in other words, we'll have a clear picture of the community we all really live in, how people really view us, and what they think we should be able to do -- and not.

The truth can be extremely painful, and also extremely useful. Unpleasant as it is to know what most people really think ... at least we know which way the wind is blowing. Prop 8 is a "windsock".

Having said all of that, here's hoping Prop 8 is defeated in vast numbers. I only wish I could vote, but this side of the family came downunder instead of heading west.


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