To Those Who Oppose Gay Marriage

Just one question: why?

I’ve heard many excuses for opposing gay marriage, and they all boil down to one of two things: the Bible opposes it or some societal problem may result from allowing them. I use the term “excuses” because I don’t believe that those are the real reasons your opposition, and here’s why.

Old Testament: The most commonly cited verse in support of gay marriage opposition is Leviticus 20:13. It’s been pointed out many times that you ignore nearly all of the other laws in Leviticus, but what isn’t often mentioned is that you ignore Leviticus 20:13 as well.

It doesn’t say that gay marriage should be illegal – it says that homosexuals should be put to death. If you really are following the Bible, why aren’t you campaigning for the death penalty for homosexuals?

New Testament: The standard excuse for ignoring Old Testament laws is that they aren’t specifically upheld in the New Testament. The problems with this line of argument are legion, but even if I accept it, it still doesn’t account for your position on gay marriage. In the same passages where Paul condemns homosexuality, he also condemns idolatry, theft, greed, alcoholism, slander, and swindling. Why are you not campaigning to prevent drunkards from getting married? Once again you focus selectively on homosexuality while ignoring what the Bible says about so many other things.

Societal problems: Many of you assert that legalizing gay marriage will destroy “traditional” marriage, cause all manner of public health problems, and generally ruin society. I don’t think there is even a shred of validity to these arguments, but even if I grant them all, it’s obvious that they are merely ex post facto justifications for an existing prejudice against homosexuals. Do you expect me to believe that you have absolutely no problem at all with gay marriage, but you’re forced to oppose it to save “traditional” marriages from being ruined as a side effect?

What’s clear to me is that you would be opposed to gay marriage even if the Bible had absolutely nothing to say about homosexuality, and even if it could be conclusively proven that gay marriage would have absolutely no adverse effects on anyone.

I want you to tell me why.

Posted in Rants | 2 Comments

Lung cancer: another triumph of the free market

A guest post from Chris

I’m about to lose my second parent to lung cancer. My mom quit smoking in 1993. She died in 2001 of small-cell metastatic lung cancer. The first sign of cancer came in 1997, in a chest x-ray. Mom had major thoracic surgery to remove the growth, as well as a lobe of her left lung. The doctor did not follow up with preventive chemotherapy or radiation.

Two years later, in April of 1999, she went to the doctor to check out a lump on her neck. A lymph node. Highly undifferentiated cells, according to the biopsy. By then, the cancer had spread to her liver, spleen, bones, and brain. She fought it every step of the way. Three separate runs of chemo, each several weeks long, a few months apart. Radiation for the tumors in her brain. She lost her hair. She felt tired most of the time. She lost weight. The last few months, she couldn’t really eat, partly from lack of appetite, partly from nausea, and partly because the chemo had destroyed her gums and teeth and made it very painful for her to chew her food.

On the Labor Day weekend before she died, I was crying upstairs in the spare room. My dad heard me, called up the stairs, and I went down and cried with him. We held each other against the world, both of us sobbing, knowing she was leaving us. The oncologist told us that 99 percent of the cases of small-cell lung cancer (the most aggressive form) are people who smoked. And 99 percent of those people die. We tried to hold out the hope that Mom would be one of the one percent of survivors. She wasn’t. On February 7, 2001, four days before my 29th birthday, she died in a hepatic coma at Winchester Regional Medical Center. Room 326.

At the end, she couldn’t walk or go to the bathroom by herself. Her urine was brown. Very glamorous, this lifestyle of a smoker.

She knew smoking was bad for her. She’d been a clinical dietitian in hospitals for most of her adult life. In college, when she and her friends started smoking, they referred to cigarettes as “coffin nails” and “cancer sticks.” But we all think it won’t happen to us.

After Mom died, my father still smoked. Still does. He has COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which is terminal. You can’t stop it from killing you. You can only slow it down, by quitting. He still smokes. The walls of his bedroom are brown with smoke and nicotine stains. In December, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, too. It’s non-small-cell cancer, a less aggressive form. He still smokes.

Dad’s friends talked him into getting treatment for the cancer, for Jack’s sake. He did: a new drug called Pemetrexed. Low side effects: just fatigue, no nausea, no hair loss. He went through two treatments, and they shrank the tumor almost down to nothing. A month after his second treatment, he went back, and the tumor had grown back to its original size. The doctor explained that with such a quick recurrence, they would need to treat it more aggressively this time. More side effects. Harder on the body. This time, Dad opted out. A cousin suggested that he use oxygen to help, but… he’s still smoking. He could blow himself up. Of course, he used to make his own fireworks. Maybe that’s his plan.

This shit kills people. The only reason it’s still legal is that tobacco companies make a lot of money (and employ a lot of people), and they’re a very powerful (some say dangerous) lobby on Capitol Hill. The John Grisham book The Runaway Jury was written about a lawsuit against tobacco companies. For the film version, they changed the issue to gun control.

My father started smoking when he was about ten years old. He thought he was being rebellious. I’m sure cigarette marketing focused on that angle. Be independent. Smoke. James Dean, etc. It looked hip, elegant, and tough. But he wasn’t being rebellious. Both of his parents smoked. A large corporation is making money on his ill health.

If you smoke, you’re not being a rebel. You’re letting a corporation think for you, take over your body via nicotine, and kill you for profit. You die, they make money. Honestly, people. That’s how it works.

Yes, I have a personal ax to grind. Of course I do. My mom is dead. My father is dying. And I’ll be an orphan in a few months. I’ll be a 38-year-old orphan, but my son will have no grandparents on my side, and he’ll think that my husband’s parents are normal. I don’t want that. But it’s not my choice, you see? I wonder if it was even his.

Posted in Rants | 3 Comments

4th Amendment, Anyone?

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” – Ben Franklin

If you think you do have rights … in the search field for Wikipedia I want you to type in ‘Japanese Americans 1942’ and you’ll find out all about your precious fucking rights” – George Carlin

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” – 4th amendment to the United States Constitution

The right stipulated in the 4th amendment is a right you do not have. If you have traveled by air since January 5th, 1973 (the beginning of mandatory passenger and baggage searches in airports), your 4th amendment right has been violated. This is because, in the eyes of the United States government, your choice to fly means that there is a substantial likelihood that you are a hijacker.

I think this is outrageously ludicrous and stretches the definition of “reasonable” miles beyond the breaking point. No remotely rational person could possibly believe this, and in recent months it has become clear to me that our government does not believe it either.

When my wife and I were coming back from Barcelona in August 2009, her hand cream was confiscated by TSA on arrival in Atlanta because it exceeded the 3.4 ounce container size limit. The TSA agent pretended he was taking it because it was a potential explosive, but he knew perfectly well that it was not.

How do I know this? Because he casually tossed it into a plastic trash container and sent us on our merry way. If he really thought it might be a bomb, shouldn’t he have put it in an explosive-hardened container, cleared everyone from the area, and called in the bomb squad? Shouldn’t he actually have an explosive-hardened container? Shouldn’t we have been detained while it was determined whether or not we were actually carrying explosives?

The TSA, on their web site, state that their searches are subject to the “reasonableness” requirement of the 4th amendment, but never make any attempt to establish that their searches are actually reasonable. Given that they are seizing property that they know is harmless, it is abundantly clear that their searches are not reasonable.

They also state, pathetically, that people can avoid the searches by choosing not to fly. I find this even more difficult to swallow than the searches themselves. In modern society, flying is a necessary mode of travel. When my boss sends me to CA for business, should I tell him to cough up $2000 in mileage reimbursement and give me six days off so I can drive the 5000 miles round trip? Should I tell my wife no more trips abroad? Does that sound reasonable to you?

And where do you draw the line? Would you submit to a search every time you cross a state line because you could avoid the search by never leaving your state? Would you submit to a search every time you cross a city line because you could avoid the search by not leaving your city? Would you submit to a search every time you get in your car because you could avoid the search by walking?

Given the obvious ridiculousness of the whole charade, why are we submitting to this abridgement of our basic rights with almost no protest? The clear answer: fear. We are afraid of hijackers and terrorists, and so we give up our liberty for the sake of security, or sometimes the mere appearance of it. When did we become such cowards?

Our rights consist of what we are willing to stand up and fight for; a cowardly people is an oppressed people, and the instant a right stops being important to us, it ceases to exist.

Posted in Rights | 6 Comments