Monday, January 31, 2011

Do You Know The Monsanto Man?

I've been watching a lot of documentaries recently.  I think it's because I feel slightly more educated after the fact, whereas before when I was just watching Imagine Me & You on repeat, I felt like I was feeding an addiction.  Especially when I re-watched it with the director's commentary. 


Anyway, in trying to self-educate rather than self-medicate, I've been learning a lot through stories I would never have heard of otherwise.  I've watched dolphins being slaughtered in Japan's Taiji cove, Ken Burns's recreation of WWII through the eyes of a handful Americans, interviews with escaped North Koreans, and one on the 1972 porno "Deep Throat" which I had honestly thought when I clicked the instant play button was actually going to be about Watergate.  Like I said, I've been learning a lot.


Monsanto


The last documentary I watched was The Future of Food by Deborah Koons.  And in watching this film an old enemy of mine played a key role:  Monsanto.  Go ahead.  Google 'em.  Their website is in a color scheme of earthen tones, browns, tans and dark greens. 


You might also notice that their main page is dedicated to saying how thankful we should all be towards farmers--they use lots of pictures, usually a slightly profile picture of a guy in a classic truck driver's hat in a field squinting powerfully towards the sun that's setting eloquently off camera.  This is to make it clear that Monsanto loves farmers, even though it actually has a history of screwing farmers over.


So, What Does It Do?


First of all, what IS Monsanto?  


It's a multi-billion dollar corporation that creates herbicides, pesticides and genetically modifies plants.  It's the company that makes Round-Up.  It's also the company that has massively patented genes (at last count in 2004, as described in the documentary, they've patented over 11,000 genes).  


Anyway, in the late 1980s/early 1990s Monsanto realizes that along with its patents on genes in plants, it has a huge bid to become THE company that can control all seed production.  And whoever controls the seed, controls the food.  All Monsanto has to do is get rid of some pesky regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency keeps laying down on them.


Infiltrating Plants And People 


The EPA was being pesky, btws, because GE food is made through cell invasion, i.e., a technique that splices cells of plants with cells of other living organisms (usually from soil or another plant that has a desired attribute) along with a "glue" like cell to adhere the desired trait into the genes of the seed.  


Only the "glue" their using is from a bacteria or a virus.  Like Ecoli.


Back in the day, Monsanto used Ecoli to glue a highly desirable gene discovered in a particular type of soil that is naturally immune to their main herbicide, Round-Up.   Thus, this big corporation created the perfect gene makeup to make money off of--they not only sell the herbicide for weeds but they make a crop plant to go with it that won't die when you spray the weeds around it. 


The thing is, I'm all for learning more about cells and doing research on what makes them tick.  I'm just not into using brand new genes in food seeds to be fed to the public en mass. 


The EPA was not down with the lack of tests and research done before production with these new GE seeds.  So, the next obvious step was for Monsanto to infiltrate the EPA & FDA with its own workers and vice-versa.  I mean, it makes sense.  Cross-contamination is what they do with plants--why not with people?


Ahah.  I made a funny.


The Monsanto Man


No, but seriously.  Check this shiz out.  It begins with Michael Taylor, who was planted (pun intended) by Dan Quayle in 1992 to destabilize regulations on biotech food.  Here he is:




Michael Taylor
FDA Commissioner for Policy 
Senior Counsel, Monsanto


But, then it's like Monsanto and the US Government are playing a game of hacky-sack, knocking each employee back and forth and back and forth.  Just to name a few, there was Linda Fisher, Deputy Minister of EPA and also was the Executive Vice President of Monsanto.  Linda's kinda crazy because she went back and forth between the two at least three times.  Then there's Clarence Thomas, a US Supreme Court Justice who also worked as a Lawyer for the Regulatory Affairs of Monsanto.  Monsanto also employed Mickey Kantor an ex-Secretary of Commerce, Lidia Watrud, a Biotech Researcher in the EPA, Michael Friedman, acting Commissioner of the FDA, William Ruckelshaus, the Chief Administrator of the EPA, and finally, my favorite:


Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense during George Bush No. II Administration
President of Searle (a subsidiary of Monsanto)



Dan Quayle Loves His Monsantoe-I Mean Monsanto.



It's ironic that the man who can't even spell potato made it his mission to delegate what happens to mass produced food goods and food regulation in America.  


Along with appointing his main-man, Michael Taylor to the FDA, Dan Quayle created a "Council on Competitiveness," which was designed to basically eliminate regulation of bio-engineered foods.  No testing, no checking to see if the seeds grow toxins, no researching if it creates new allergens, no checking to see how it affects the immune system (even though it got leaked that lab rats were found to have lesions on their stomachs after being force fed GE canola corn seeds)--nothing.  Remember, genetically engineered food is still splicing favored genes with food organisms' genetic makeups.


It's a BIG experiment.  And we're eating it.






Every time you see "High Fructose Corn Syrup" on an ingredients list think Monsanto.  Think Gene Splicing.  FYI, it's in all soda products, and anything that likes to substitute sugar for a cheaper ingredient that can be made en mass like corn that's anti-herbicide (or speaking of potatoes) spuds that are anti-bugs.


Remember when Dan Quayle went on to vie for the presidency in 2000, after having been kind of a crap vice president in the early 1990s?  He received a huge campaign donation from Monsanto.  Now it becomes clear why he was so DOWN to help them in the first place.  Big corporation gives big money to politicians, politicians push for political power for big corporation. 


Dammit, America.


They Really, Really Don't Care.


Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, reported in his 1998 article "Playing God in the Garden" a disturbing fact when demonstrating how Monsanto's pesticide-filled potatoes get on our grocery store shelves to eat:


"The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act gives the F.D.A. sole jurisdiction over the labeling of plant foods, and the F.D.A. has ruled that biotech foods need be labeled only if they contain known allergens or have otherwise been 'materially' changed. But isn’t turning a potato into a pesticide a material change? It doesn’t matter. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act specifically bars the F.D.A. from including any information about pesticides on its food labels."



So, it's the FDA's job to make sure our food is safe.  But now they're kind of not going to over-extend that kind of regulation.  It's sort of like someone saying to you, "How do you know this won't kill you?  You should eat it to find out." 
By the way, a year ago Obama appointed Michael Taylor as head of the FDA.  I mean.  Obama, you really couldn't have found someone ELSE to do the job?  In this economy?  Really?  Really?

I should have stuck with Imagine Me & You.  The plants in the film are at least romantic and not a corporate greed-fest. 


-Beryl



WOO UPDATE:


I really wanted to have Woo in this week's post.  But, it was ridiculously hard to try and research a giant corporation and find somewhat credible information to then spew back out in somewhat legible-writing alongside a Woo Update.  At first, I had this huge plan to have Woo portray Dan Quayle for me--but she gave up the role for her bed and a cookie.







I even got rejected this week for a photo op.  






So I tried to sneak up on her.






She was pissed.  


I apparently had walked into some sort of Cookie Conference Call.  Woo has been investing the family's treaties again.  We keep telling her not to invest in anything high-risk.  But, she's addicted--can't get enough of the money game.  




The stress gets to her, sometimes, I think.



Monday, January 24, 2011

The Narwhal: A Pop Culture Icon in the Make

I feel like for the past week I've been learning a lot.  Ever have one of those weeks?  It seems like every day I had another unique addition to my personal Beryl Encyclopedia Britaniwannabea.

I'd like to share some of this information with you, mostly because there seems to be a common depressing thread thread.

And I don't want to carry that burden alone.

I'm a sharer.


The Narwhal

I've been learning about narwhals, aka the arctic animal Monodon Monoceros.  It feeds off flatfish and squid.  It travels in pods of 10 to 100 other narwhals.  There are only about 75,000 left in the world.  And I think you know where I'm going with this:  climate change.

Remember how everyone is getting upset these days about polar bears and going extinct due to the ice melting in the arctic?  Well, turns out, yes, it's a bad time to be a polar bear.  But, it's even worse to be a narwhal.


The Predators

Narwhals have just a few predators.  But, for starts, one of them IS the polar bear.  The others?  Humans and killer whales.  So, basically the narwhal is up against the species that was convinced their horns washed up on shore were actually from unicorns that happened to go swimming, and the animal that tried to play killer whale volleyball with Mumble from Happy Feet.
Do you remember the scene from Happy Feet I'm talking about?  I remember thinking right before watching it, "This film can't get any weirder; it starts off with the dude who played Wolverine singing like Elvis...and now there is a mass of dancing penguins...and now Robbin Williams is speaking in a undefined foreign accent...again.  I mean, it can't get any more awkward right?" And then BOOM you're hit with a terrifying hunting scene with killer whales and cute penguins.

FYI, the thing that finishes that scene that is 'scarier and bigger' than the giant Killer Whales?  It's an ice breaker ship.  Aka, humans.  So penguins, it turns out, have the same predators in common with the narwhal.  But, life gets even trickier for the narwhal in today's modern, superficial, image-obsessed world.


Polar Bears Are Cuter

Narwhals don't have a cute furry appearance that easily can be transformed into anthropomorphic animation for the youth of America.  Narwhals have evolved to have five inches of blubber around their entire body, a long horn that is actually a tooth that pierces through their upper lip, and because of where their food (flatfish and squid) lives, they like to hide out in the cracks of impacted ice.

I'm trying to imagine film makers attempting to apply the same story line from Happy Feet onto the narwhal.  For some reason, "Happy Fin" just doesn't have the same ring to it.  Also, in trying to imagine a narwhal being voiced by an actor, all I can come up with is Christopher Walken.  And that's mostly due to this video that went viral a while back.  For some reason that just makes me think of marine mammal noises.  I don't know why.  If you skip to 0:27 you might see what I'm talking about.  Either way, having the Headless Horseman guy turn into a marine mammal with a giant horn might persuade the masses to expedite the extinction of this species, rather than save it.


Humans Are To Blame...Again

Let's go back to the impacted ice because it's not just ice that's just like, hey, chilling.  No, it is ice that is in its essence in transition based on seasonal and climate changes--environmental flux is part of the delicate life cycle and food chain of arctic.  And humans like to fuck with flux.  Or be in denial about it.

For some reason it only makes sense that our mass-production of processed foods, goods, plastics, hybrids of plastic and organic materials and depletion of natural resources has a karmic reflux of putting out toxins, polluting the air, and adding gases that absorb rays from the sun like its crack.


My Plan To Save The Narwhal

Basically, I realize that I have no control over arctic ice flow.

And I have no control over the incredibly strong human urge to ignore uncomfortable things.

But, I do recognize that by making something cool, whilst informative, I might have a shot at helping the oppressed out there.  And yes, I consider the narwhal to be an oppressed animal.

So, I present to you my latest campaign idea (if I had to come up with one) for the narwhal.




I'm going to try to submit this drawing to a t-shirt company.  Maybe it'll get picked up, who knows?

In the meantime, I leave you with a poem that is eerily reminiscent of this week's post.  My mom sent it to me when I told her I was working on a post on arctic animals (because of COURSE she just has poems about arctic animals lying around).  The poem is by Louis Jenkins, an American poet from Oklahoma.  An audio recording of the poem by Garrison Keillor can be found on The Writer's Almanac website.

Earl



In Sitka, because they are fond of them,
People have named the seals. Every seal
is named Earl because they are killed one
after another by the orca, the killer
whale; seal bodies tossed left and right
into the air. "At least he didn't get
Earl," someone says. And sure enough,
after a time, that same friendly,
bewhiskered face bobs to the surface.
It's Earl again. Well, how else are you
to live except by denial, by some
palatable fiction, some little song to
sing while the inevitable, the black and
white blindsiding fact, comes hurtling
toward you out of the deep?


-beryl


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Fog

Rickey and I go for walks a lot.  Rickey is my friend who I grew up with in high school.

If our friendship were to read like a personal's ad, this is probably how it would sound:

"24, Short Stocky Lesbian, likes to go for long walks, obsess over what she did wrong, drink tea, read erroneous biographies and watch long, in-depth documentaries.  Looking for 25, Lanky/Tall Gay Male, who likes to go for long walks, wants things to be done well and responsibly, drinks tea and is a non-practicing Wiccan."

Anyway, last night we were out on a long walk.

It was around midnight that we set out, with no particular destination in mind.  The fog last night, if you weren't near a window, was also unnaturally strong.  To give you an idea, I could see only about twenty feet in front of me clearly in any direction while standing in the middle of the intersection near my house.  It's startling how unnerving thick fog can be; you know houses and people are there from experience, but with this kind of mist, everything becomes liable to move on you.

Also, I don't know if you know this but my hometown, Alameda, is an island.  Here is a map of the Bay Area to help get you acquainted with the layout.  I've added on some key landmarks to help anyone not familiar with the area:




Anyway, for the purpose of this story, a huge chunk of Alameda Island is dedicated to a now defunct Navy Base.

Let's zoom in to Alameda a bit more.  See if you can spot where the Navy Base is:



Give up?

I know, I know, it's hard.

Here, I've added on some landmarks to help guide you:




There, that's better.

The old Navy Base, aka, half of Alameda Island, is now a ghost town.  The airstrips are empty, blocks and blocks of warehouses stand unused and old warships silently loom off the South-West bank, one of which is the USS Hornet, an old WWII aircraft carrier.  Small bit of trivia info, the USS Hornet is also the ship that picked up Apollo 11, aka the first Moon Landing peeps.  It weighs 40,000 tons and  apparently, it has the highest suicide rate than any other aircraft carrier in the US Navy.

So last night Rickey and I had no direct plan, usually I goad him into walking along the more pleasantly-suburban beach path, Shoreline Drive.  But, this time was different; we ambled down Haight St., crossed Webster and kept going until we hit the threshold between Alameda, the city and Alameda The Ghost Town.

*cue eery music*

Again, we really couldn't see a damn thing in front of us when we got to one of the many old fenced pathways.

There were lights here and there that helped guide us to where we were, and being Alameda natives, we knew roughly where we were.

That's a lie.  Once on the Base, I had no idea where I was.  I blame Rickey.




Just standing there it felt like the Fog would slowly consume you.



 Or maybe that was just me.


It didn't help that Rickey's way of soothing my nerves was to tell me "the zombies would be moving slowly, anyway."  I instantly focused on a scene from 28 Days Later, particularly the one where the army has captured a zombie and tied it up in the backyard, supposedly "under control."


Rickey then said he was also wearing "a large, sharp ring tonight.  It's ok, Beryl. I got this."  This was about when I started to clutch onto my own my personal key-chain knife, which isn't so much of a weapon as a nasty guitar pick. 

We continued on, talking over what we normally talk about (what would you be willing to put up with in relationships, astrology, the latest recipe that involves as much bacon or butter as possible, etc.) meanwhile I kept asking over and over, "Are you sure you know where we're going?"  

Rickey said he did.  The thing about the Navy Base is, aside from it being practically deserted, there are several huge parking lots/aircraft landing strips.  One of which on the upper North East bank is being dedicated to the now well-known Antiques By The Bay once a month.  

The problem is these landing strips are such large expanses of concrete that it's hard to tell when exactly they end, aka it's not obvious where the drop off points into the rocky shoreline are.  I had no urge to go for a surprise swim, and I also had no urge to step onto something hard and pointy.

Plus, there was the fog.

And we're back.


We were traveling down another path, slowly making our way back to what we thought was the exit.  Unfortunately, Rickey hadn't quite remembered where we were after all.  And it was starting to sink in that we were alone, in the middle of a deserted Navy Base, with old ghost warships nearby.  At one point I could see them in the distance--and I'll never forget, they looked even more frightening, looming so quietly, so huge, and only slightly darker than the surrounding fog.

Halfway through on our supposed 'way  back' I turned and saw lights off to the side.

"Huh," I said.

"What?" He said.

"Nothing.  It's just those lights look just like car headlights.  Only, they're not.  Right?"


"Huh." 

We kept walking on, not sure if we were actually nearer or farther from our supposed exit.  It tuned out, we were somewhat lost.  But, if Rickey's calculations were right, we were at least a good two hundred feet away.  But, again that is if we were right, if we were seeing what we thought we were seeing through the fog was the exit.

Rickey looked back.  Deterring away from his usual confidence, he stopped us, looking at the lights.





That was about when he started walking faster.  Walking faster turned into running, which turned into full-pelt running the last two hundred feet to the next turn.  Looking back for a split second I could see the "static" lights were now very much headlights, very much moving towards us.  

I think my adrenaline had hit an all-new high.  It wasn't so much that I feared for my life, but I definitely didn't want to explain to the authorities why I would be out at 1am on such a freakishly foggy night, on a deserted Naval Base.  And if they weren't the authorities...well, I just really didn't want to talk to them at all.

Rickey and I kept running, and eventually we were able to peel off to the side to one of the main exits, out by Pacific and Encinal.  

We were safe.  

We had escaped.

Looking back, I am again reminded of a scene from a film, this time The Lord of the Rings, in which the Fellowship is running away from the tracking group of Uruk Hai.  To continue with that metaphor, I was very much aware that Rickey would definitely have been of Elfkind in Middle Earth, and I would have been a Hobbit.  

Hobbits don't run.

Especially not over disrupted, un-maintained cement ground on a haunted Naval Base in deep fog.  

Basically, if I had been Frodo, Sauron would have gotten the ring.  But, thankfully, as I remembered later on, Rickey was the one wearing the ring--not me. 

And that's why we're friends.

-Beryl


Edited to add:  Thank YOU to Crystal Chen, who helped me draw headlights in fog using MS Paint.  I got stuck, guys.  I really did.  But, she showed me the light--literally.  Thanks dude!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rewatching Beauty & The Beast: The Montage

I don't know why, but I really love Beauty & The Beast.  I can't explain it.  I never really related to Belle.  I definitely wasn't ever (or will be) as hairy as The Beast.  And Gaston has a much bigger chin than me.

The closest character I could compare myself to is Le Fou.  While I can do a mean impersonation of him, I would rather not have him as my Disney Doppelgänger.  His name means "The Madman," you guys.

Anyway, it's still my favorite animated movie.  Woo differs in taste, though.

 Asleep within the first five minutes on movie night; this does not bode well for my plans for a LOTR marathon. 
I really love this movie, mostly because of the sound design (that magic mirror effect is so freakin' hypnotizing, it's like getting a really great audio massage) and the musical composition.  Who doesn't love the idea of two very-unlikely mates with the ULTIMATE tension of emotional-immaturity-and-insecurity-on-a-deadline-with-a-rose-that's-cursed-you-to-a-lifetime-of-loneliness-unless-you-grow-up-emotionally-and-fall-madly-in-love-with-the-most-amazing-and-mature-girl-from-the-local-village-who-you-know-is-smart-because-she-reads-adventure/fantasy-novels-and-that's-like-WAY-hot-in-a-feminist-way-right? 

Anyway, I think what makes this movie golden is its tenderness.  Like, if you just saved someone from being almost eaten by wild wolves you get to have them CARESS YOUR ARM WITH A WARM COMPRESS CLOTH AND SPEAK SOFTLY TO YOU WHILE SITTING IN FRONT OF A FIREPLACE.

It also exudes strong morals and open-minded political beliefs.  I have learned from this movie that it's not cool to stab someone from behind, on their rooftop, in the rain.  It's also not cool to force a woman into marrying you and/or decorate your interior using only antlers.  BAM, right there, Disney is pro- Peta, First Wave Feminism and Queer Eye For The Straight Guy.

Again, Woo didn't get it.

The Beast getting JUMPED by wolves--this was the one part that she payed attention to.*
Fastforward to Transformation scene.

Beware:  spoiler alert for 1991.


When this scene rolled around I was expecting some sort of reaction from Woo.  I mean, the music alone is chilling.

Side Note:  there is something so sexy about someone who's beaten down by a decade-long curse and STILL gets right back up again.  I mean, look at that calf.  That calf says, "I am using my human body for the first time since puberty and I'm that much better for it.  I mean, check out that muscle I built from all the walkies I had to take myself out on while in Beast-Mode."






This part is a little awkward, though.  I mean, I get it--you're hot--so yea, you want to check out your new Hot Hand.


But, both?  You really have to look at both?  

The reveal is still always so good to watch, though.   I always want to shout, "REVEAL YOURSELF!" right before we get his full-front close up of Fabio Face.

Reason why camera couldn't focus on Fabio Face:  TMH (Too Much Hot).

You'd think with all that going for the final scene (the music, the movement, the moves he makes on Belle, the fact that Belle has to look into his eyes to be down with kissing the human version of her sweetie) Woo would be affected.

When in fact,

Woo giving me The Eye.

She had slipped further into the comfy of my mother's arms.

I gave up.  

But, I'm planning on re-watching this film while I have it in my Netflix grasp.  There was just something so calming about watching it with Woo, and I can't place my finger on why...



Regardless, *I lied about Woo's lack of reaction earlier.  She did also get a little uppity about the special edition's choice to re-insert the originally cut song, "Human Again."  

I captured on film her final take away from the song, as it was coming to it's climax:



-Beryl

p.s. Since I'm allowed one post script per post, I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss the wolves-that-would've-eaten-Belle.  This is not just because it was the one part that Woo had any remote interest in, but also I felt for the leader of that pack.  That wolf must have had a bitchpun intendedof a time to keep the faith going in those wolves to hunt in the same deserted stretch of land for god knows how many years.  And THEN they get cheated on not just one, but TWO victims within the same month all because of some stupid rose curse that you had no say in and definitely is not normal to natural ecosystem of rural France that you're whole family has evolved in.  

I just feel so much for them, you know?

p.p.s.  Yes, that is a studio-quality photograph of Woo on a beach, in a frame, next to my mom's computer.  Please don't bring this up at future social engagements.

p.p.p.s. I'm now allowed more than one post script.  If my mom can have professional photographs taken of our pet dog and leave me to be emotionally scarred/humiliated, then I get to have more than one post script.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Oranges After Sex

In trying to hack out another weekly post, I realized that I have yet to tap into the question of gay federal rights and marriage.  I think I was wary of it because in the past, whenever I have researched gay rights cases and lawsuits and the slow progression for civil rights, I invariably want to turn off my computer.  I realized that this isn't exactly helpful; there has to be a way to feel informed without feeling hopeless, right?  Anyway, with the repeal of DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) I decided to focus on the other recent battle ground for human rights:  Gay Marriage.

Freedom To Marry Straight

To start off, I feel like it's important to just remind myself where the majority is coming from.  Human civilization around the world has had roughly 5,000 years of recorded history, beginning with the ancients (Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, etc.).  Of course, the majority, if not all relationships that have been recorded and remembered generation to generation, are straight ones.  Now queers have had...pockets of years (Oscar Wilde had a good ten or so flaunting it just on his own--he's a diva like that).

But, let's factor in that a good 4,000 to 4,900 years of straight relationships were definitely only about economic relations between families, and definitely not marrying for love.  Now factor in non-existent equal marriage rights amongst men and women for the majority of those years.  Now factor in the non-existent equal marriage rights amongst men and women of different colors, economic statuses and/or religious backgrounds.

Really, heterosexuals have only had a few good decades up on us gaygoobers when it comes to true freedom to marry.  It's weird to think so, but straight couples openly being straight and into each other, without their families' consent, without the sanction of a god, and without a ritual of marriage to okay them to consummate their love, is kind of still revolutionary for most of the world--and for most of the world, it is still not allowed.

So, I can't really blame any of us for not knowing how to open up a dialogue about homosexuality; it's kind of like human sexuality has been holding it's tongue for a long, long time and it's just now starting to clear it's throat--we're getting ready to finally speak, but the first words are still going to be croaks.

And yet...

Gays Got It Bad And That Ain't Good.

I love California; we have a very unique culture here that changes every five feet, it feels.  However, I've noticed that California is also a bit like a squealing baby sometimes; we kick and whine and rush into putting things on ballots without really examining whether or not a popular vote, given that we have such a huge and variable population, is the way to decide what EVERYONE here should do.  Prop 8 was a scandal in the sense that my right to something I want in my life (federally recognized marriage) was put up for a 50/50 vote.  Furthermore, it made it clear that marriage in California is still a religious ceremony, as opposed to an economic contract with your partner of choice.  But, not all states have been stumped on this.  Some really have affirmed the separation of church and state.

Iowa

IOWA, you guys.

Iowa legalized gay marriage before California.  Again, I feel the urge to try to understand the majority, i.e., the moderate, white heterosexual mind a bit better.  I need to understand the frame of mind that would rather not understand me--and then perhaps I can better my attempts to open up a conversation.  

*Cue hypothetical scene music*


I am imagining I am in a grocery store.


When all of a sudden...





I am approached by a haggard-looking man.  His name is Bob.  Bob has a problem, and really needs help.

Bob:  "Beryl--look.  I REALLY need your help."

See?

Me: "Uh...o...kay... what's up Bob?"

Bob:  "Look, I..."  (Bob glances away, nervous)

Me: "Yes...?"

Bob: "I really need to tell you something."

Me:  "Ok...what is it?"

Bob:  "Well...I uh...oh god...this is so hard.  But, I figure I can trust you.  You can keep a secret, right?"

Me:  "Bob, you're scaring me.  What's wrong?"

Bob: "I..." (Shuts eyes) "Ireallylovetoeatorangesaftersex."

Me: (Freaks out) "Oh holy mother.  Jesus Bob!  Why are you telling ME and especially so near the produce!"

Bob:  "I know, I know--but, COME ON, I mean...it's not like I'm going to go grab an oran--"

Me:   (Plugs ears) "I DON'T WANT TO HEAR DETAILS!"

Bob:  "Ok, ok, ok--I was...uh...ok, look.  Please, you gotta help me--They're going to fire me!"

Me:  "Wait--what?"

Bob:  "I'm going to lose my job.  Someone from the office found out somehow, I don't know how and, and they've been trying to blackmail me--leaving orange peels everywhere for other people to see."

Me:  "Oh man.  That sucks."

Bob:  "Yes, I know!  Please, can you just--can you just make it your business for the two seconds that I need it and vote in favor of Prop-Citrus?  The vote is going up in two weeks and that could save my job--my life!"

Me:  "Oh...uh... Yea.  Sure.  Sure."

Bob:  "THANK YOU!  Oh, god.  What am I going to do in the meantime?"

Me:  (Putting down lime slowly) "I don't know.  But, you know, I have to...go now...I have to go do that thing that I...needed to do."

Bob:  "Oh, of course.  Yea, of course.  You should go do that thing."

I start to move away.

Bob:  "Beryl, you won't forget about Prop-Citrus, right?"

Me:  "Hm?  Oh, yea.  No, totally."

I walk away, quickly this time, trying to shake off the uncomfortable moment of being asked to take an active stance in something that has nothing to do with me.

*End of Hypothetical Sequence*

I mean.

I could TOTALLY see myself doing that.  I have been that person, probably more than once, who really was uncomfortable being dragged into someone else's personal life problems.  But, having been in Bob's shoes...having to go through my tweens, watching movie after movie that ends in one tux and one white dress--or just any Shakespeare comedy, really--seeing all the other girls at school go through the motions of dreaming up their future legal weddings, I have no choice but to care.

So, I hate to make things awkward.  I hate to drag you into this.  But, I'm making Prop-Citrus your issue.  If I have to have your permission en mass to just live my life without the fear of being kept from my future wife in a hospital because I'm "not family" or perhaps loosing custody of my future kids because I didn't give birth to them, then I won't shut up until that is no longer true.  I'm still here, and I'm still very much not allowed to get married.  Remember that.

Now, I've tried to understand where you (i.e., moderate straight person) are coming from on the basic level that it's way easier to just not care about "someone else's" problem.  So, let's try to understand a wholly different scenario that was very much not hypothetical and happened very recently.

Iowa Again 

It's 2007.  You are a gaygoober.  A District Court ruled in favor of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses--you are in one of these couples.  By the way, as part of this group, you filed this lawsuit back in 2005.  So imagine, for two years you've already been fighting for your right to be federally recognized; you've been sinking money into this thing, meanwhile your unrecognized-marriage is going through stress that leaves you and your partner isolated from your family, not to mention your home state.  Plus, your future livelihood is dependent on a court that has definitely not been voting in your favor for the past, well, ever.

Now, after the District Court had its say, the county appealed it--because apparently, the county really, really, really doesn't like oranges after sex--and pushes this question of whether you get to be with the person you love and not be screwed financially for it all the way up to the state supreme court, where everyone you know is now going to know your personal life is up for debate.

Another two years go by.  You're left hanging on the results of the case, even on the day that the Court was supposed to deliver a decision.  But, then a decision is made.  And magically--absolutely and utterly magically, the Supreme Court holds that there is no important government interest in denying citizens marriage licenses based on sexual orientation.  It is now 2009.

You've been working for four years, with no guarantee of a win, and your entire country is staring at you to see if you get slammed for sticking your neck out or become one of the first legally married gaygoobers in Iowa.  But, after all that, you can get married.

Now you just have to make sure that you and your partner still want to get married after all that crap.

Adding Public Polls To Injury

Did you know btws, that in 2009, 92% of Iowa respondents to a public poll said "marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples had led to 'no real change' in their own lives"?  I can only imagine what those couples must have felt like.  Their lives have been changed forever, and were dragged through hell to gain equal rights, meanwhile the majority of the population concedes that whoospy-daisy, turns out gay marriage didn't really affect them after all.


In a way, it's like Iowa proved what is inevitable in the next stage of civl rights progression; we all just gotta find a way to not care anymore.  The baseline is equal federal rights.  And after that...who knows?

-Beryl