Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Problem: Abortion Rights for All

A very liberal friend and I have been having a discussion by email lately, and one of the topics on which we wholeheartedly disagree is, SURPRISE!, abortion. (Before you ask, YES, I DO have some very liberal friends. And some moderately liberal friends, and some mildly liberal friends. Come on, you're not ALL conservatives!)

The soon-to-be Obama Administration supports abortions for all as a "right" women have to "determine what is best for their own bodies." In other words, "It's my body and I can do what I want with it." Which begs the question, "How old are you?" since I've heard the same argument from my 2 year-old regarding potty training, and from teens indulging in sex or tweens smoking pot. But childish refusal to consider the impact ones actions have on other people (like unborn babies developing in the womb) aside, let us consider the true atrocities of abortion.

My friend has a great many arguments in their favor - perhaps some of the same had by you or those you know - that I'll be discussing herein. First, though, she suggests that women everywhere should have unconstrained access to birth control, and I believe the same. Let's face it, I'd rather prevent pregnancies than create murderers, whatever the age. But I believe there are myriad ways to dispense free birth control to women, including having them pick up a free monthly pill pack from their local pharmacist or free condoms in the counselor's office at their high school, and Planned Parenthood should be shut down. She notes that shutting down Planned Parenthood is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I argue that it is just plain throwing out the BABY, which is the main reason women appear in Planned Parenthood offices around the country. Anyway...birth control? Fine. Great. Unconstrained access, which encourages people to take responsibility. Abortions as birth control? Not a chance.

Now, before we launch in to abortion "rights", let me state unequivocally that in cases of extreme need - including BUT LIMITED TO safety of the mother, rape, and incest - abortions are understandable. Not encouraged, necessarily, but understandable. A woman who has undergone the terror of rape, the emotional scaring of incest, or is in danger of losing her life due to a pregnancy gone wrong, should not be forced to carry and give birth to a child. HOWEVER, the vast majority of women who DO have abortions are emotionally scarred by the knowledge that they have terminated a life, and if my daughter had been raped, I truly believe that it might be more beneficial to her to bear the child and put it up for adoption, knowing, therefore, that something beautiful and wonderful emerged from her trauma and that that child has the opportunity to live happily in a loving family rather than reflecting on her destruction of that life years later, thereby adding to her trauma. Still, in those cases, I see abortion as an acceptable alternative to continuing with the pregnancy, SO LONG AS the pregnancy has not reached the second trimester.

No, we don't know when a zygote actually become a person, but we do know that children after 3 months of development in the womb must be disassembled, to put it mildly, prior to removal from the womb, so in my book - and most other people's, I'd venture to say - that constitutes enough of a human to consider it a child and not a fertilized egg. So, first trimester ONLY.

But back to my friend's reasons for women have the right to an abortion.

She stated she'd rather a child were aborted than raised in awful circumstances or with terrible parents. As far as I'm concerned, that negates the existence of most every human being at some point, and denies those who won’t make excellent parents or who suffer in crappy conditions the opportunity to procreate. Each of us has been someone's child, and only the most grossly depressed wish they'd never been born, no matter how wonderful their folks or their upbringing. My parents made mistakes. I myself have undoubtedly made mistakes. And sometimes we don't even realize, as parents, that we're making mistakes, and never apologize for those mistakes...or we do realize we're making mistakes, and still don't apologize. That is human nature. I'm glad my parents chose to retain me as a human being in my mother's body even though they knew that, at some point along the way, they'd make mistakes. I'm glad they kept me, even with the knowledge that some day my father might be out of work and our living conditions may not be ideal. Additionally, should we prevent people from having the opportunity to parent just because their children will be raised in less-than-ideal conditions? Does a parent's inability to afford a large and spacious home instead of rent a tiny, cramped apartment preclude them from the opportunity to try to become pregnant? That is preposterous. Allow the child to experience both the joy and suffering of life! Sometimes we get stuck with crappy parents, and sometimes we get stuck in crappy circumstances. Can anyone really say it would have been better to be aborted than to have survived? Someone "can’t" have a good life, so their parents shouldn’t be made to become parents because those parents won’t allow for adoption? Who are we to make a decision like that?

She argued, too, that her father, himself adopted because her grandmother did not have abortion as an option, has health problems aplenty and is not familiar with his family history to be able to know where his asthma came from, or to know whether or not he has any number of cancers somewhere down the line, what-have-you. She stated that he and a few other adoptees she knows have suffered emotional trauma because of their "abandonment" by their birth mother. But I know several adopted people who have NO health issues and have suffered NO emotional trauma due to being adopted. It goes both ways. Is that enough reason to say, "Sure, absolve yourself entirely of responsibility and go abort that baby!"? It doesn't hold water.

She argues that the world is already overpopulated, and that this is a scientific truth. It may be a scientific truth, and I cannot contend with that, of course, but I very seriously doubt that ANY of the women heading to abortion clinics are thinking to themselves, “Man, I just can’t bring myself to overpopulate the world any further.” Moving on, then...

She mentioned that her own mother had had an abortion many years before, effectively destroying the child that would have been her third, thanks to financial difficulties and a struggling relationship with her husband. "We will never understand what that could have been like for her, so none of us are in a position to judge." Personally, I don’t understand the liberal idea of NOT passing judgment on people’s actions (people are a whole different story), nor do I understand the need to extend to people the opportunity to make bad choices! I imagine her mother must have been in one hell of a position when she made the choice she did, but I also believe her decision was inherently wrong, and though I do not judge her, I must, as a human being, judge her action, which in my estimation, regardless of the circumstances, was an obscenity. I think her mother is a good woman – always did, still do – but I am both horrified and disgusted by her decision and cannot say, “Oh, ooooooooops, time to be PC…your poor mom!” Particularly where my own situation is concerned:

When I was conceived, my mother was on radioactive medication for her thyroid, and believed, after going off her birth control, it would take some months for her fertility to pick back up, by which time she'd be free of the radioactive meds. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me?) she got pregnant just a few weeks later, and was told by numerous doctors that I would be mentally and physically deficient and die before the age of 2. My parents felt very strongly that it was wrong to terminate a life just because that life would be difficult for them to handle and went ahead and had their baby...me. Some would argue - particularly liberals - that I am indeed mentally deficient, but I'm more or less healthy, so it all worked out in the end. In other words, all my parents would have been doing would be killing a baby just in case that baby had health issues. And that, people, is Eugenics.

What are Eugenics? Well, Nietzsche wrote, based on Darwin's survival of the fittest, that the human race should weed out those of us who are defective so that they are unable to propagate and continue perpetuating a defective breed. The Nazis took this a step (or two) further by practicing Eugenics, which means that they sterilized or murdered those they deemed defective genetically...those they believed to be unfit for breeding. This included people with mental or physical defects and those with emotional imbalances, or those of any cultural heritage that sullied their Aryan race. They determined what sort of humans they would have populating the earth and then attempted to prevent all others from bearing children. When children were born "defective," they were removed from their parents and killed. Sterilization was a form of preemptive abortion, and murder was just plain murder. Eugenics, practiced by the Nazis or by any party, is the complete devaluation of human life.

Abortions also completely devalue human life – human lives that liberals generally claim they want to improve and to aid.

Overall, I view the pro-choice argument the following way:

1. It completely devalues human life.

2. It enables women to escape the consequences of their own irresponsibility.

3. It teaches our society that there is an “easy way out” when you make a “mistake” through that irresponsibility.

4. It teaches our society that because a human is not an independent human, they are not “really” human. That can apply to myriad people – babies, the young, the elderly, invalids – and is effectively eugenics, one of the most despicable ideas ever to enter the minds of humans and the foundation of Nazi ideals.

Finally, my friend argues that regardless of all other points, women have a choice as to what happens with their own bodies. I argue that that is entirely correct! But in my view, those women made their choice when they had sex. The greatest risk of sexual activity is pregnancy, and all women must be prepared, when they choose to participate in coitus, for the fact that pregnancy is a distinct possibility, whether they are using birth control or not. (After all, it is widely understood that there is no such thing as birth control that works 100% of the time, unless you include abstinence!) If a woman chooses to have sex, she chooses to accept the responsibility for whatever that act may bring.

And yet there are many who insist on providing them with an opportunity to escape responsibility for their actions. AND that we should do it in such a way that makes that escape free, secret, and available to all, including 12 year-old girls. Rather than teach responsibility, we offer, support, and supply murder for free! And this is the problem, plain and simple.

So what is the solution? First, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR SEX LIFE, and encourage others to do the same. If someone comes to you seeking your opinion on abortion vs. adoption, HELP THEM ADOPT! Direct them to adoption agencies, call 1–800–537–2229 for information on how to place a baby with an adoptive family, get online and go to http://www.providentliving.org/ses/birthmother/searchprofiles/0,12268,2133-1,00.html (LDS adoption services) where you can search through the adoption profiles of couples desperate but unable to have their own child...and some of those profiles are heartrending! Do anything you can to help, except to support their desire to escape the consequences of their actions, if only to spare them the heartache and shame of aborting a child.

Also, get registered and VOTE. Call your senators, your house reps, your local legislature, and write letters to the White House to beg soon-to-be-President Obama to put our taxpayer dollars toward adoption instead of destruction. Encourage our legal system to reverse Roe vs. Wade by writing letters to all 9 justices. Be active. Blog about it. Talk about it. Because by the time this post is published, you can bet I will have.

Help me protect our society from its own bad parenting: allowing its women to escape the consequences of their own actions while concurrently damaging their psyches and emotional stability. Please, do SOMETHING.

And someday maybe I'll be able to write

Problem Solved,

Mommy

PS: I have now sent emails to both CA senators and my House rep, and mailed a letter to Mr. Obama just today. I'll be mailing letters to the Supreme Court Justices tomorrow. Please do your part. And if you need stamps, I've got them!

PPS: Under NO circumstances should you or anyone else EVER do an image search on Google using the word "abortion." Unless you're pro-choice, in which case, google away.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Problem: Gay Marriage

California is one of the worst possible states for a traditional conservative to live. Case in point: Prop 8. Eight years ago now 61% of Californians passed Prop 22 which defined marriage for legal purposes as the union between male and female. The California Supreme Court overturned the vote in a 4 - 3 decision and the voice of the California populace was silenced even though the majority of voters passed the initiative. Now it's back on the ballot. Mind you, it passed before, so really, there should be no reason to have to vote on it again...but it's back. I'm not entirely certain to what end because, if passed, the state Attorney General (who reworded the proposition, but more on that shortly) has already stated that he will not recognize the voice of the people, and the California Supreme Court will inevitably overturn it once more.

But it won't pass, in great part thanks to the California Attorney General, Edmund G. Brown, Jr., more commonly known as Jerry Brown. Because rather than have Prop 8 state what it stated before - that the proposition would define marriage as a union between man and woman - Jerry has thrown in his two cents and reworded it to state that Prop 8 would "deny homosexuals the right to marry." Changes everything, doesn't it? Obviously that was the point.

You see, the new wording implies many, many things. First and foremost, it implies that homosexuals - based solely on their sexual preference - have a RIGHT to something. They are gay, and therefore they have RIGHTS. So they're gay. Whoop-dee-doo. As far as I'm concerned, their sexual preference does not set them apart from anyone. At all, ever. Because people's bedroom activities don't (and SHOULDN'T!) impact my life. And if someone chooses to "act gay," ie. take on all the horribly stereotypes of a homosexual ranging from lisps to weak handshakes to any number of other stupid things that make homophobes' blood boil, again, they're silly personality or behavioral differences that don't really set them apart as a whole new species (other than to appear a little stranger than the "norm", and since many homosexuals refuse to be viewed as "flamers", for lack of a better word, it is certainly a choice). In other words, just because someone chooses a particular bed mate doesn't inherently grant them specific rights.

The wording of the "new" Prop 8 also suggests something more criminal: that those who would pass such a proposition actively seek to DENY a percentage of the population their basic human rights...and are therefore BIGOTS. And since the vast majority of those who would seek to pass Prop 8 are doing so based on religious conviction, the insinuation is that THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IS REPLETE WITH BIGOTRY. I would argue that the religious right wing populace is no more bigoted than any member of the left, but that's another blog entry. As it stands now, according to Jerry Brown, my voting to pass Prop 8 makes me a bigot. (I can't say racist, as gays are not of one particular ethnicity, so I'm going to use the word bigot a lot. Sorry.) This means I cannot vote my conscience without suddenly being labeled a gay basher.

But what is it about my conscience that would cause me to vote for Prop 8 instead of against it? The dictionary definition of a marriage includes the union of two people in a legal or religious ceremony, and in my religion - and so very many others - God sees fit to unite male and female and decry male and male or female and female relations. Whether or not I believe that two men or two women could or should engage in an emotional or physical relationship is entirely beside the point; instead, according to my faith, male-male or female-female sex is inappropriate to the point of sin, and as I believe in the tenets of my faith, I therefore believe that God would not condone a "marriage" of two individuals of the same sex. My faith will not ever perform religious ceremonies to unite same-sex couples and instead sides with the traditional, Christian view of opposite-sex marriage. For anyone to pass a law that might force my faith to deny its own first amendment right to neither perform nor recognize same-sex marriage is to me wholly unconstitutional.

That's not to say that I don't understand the need to extend some of the privileges of traditional marriage to nontraditional couples. I personally feel that if two people - of any sex, ethnicity, religion, etc - wish to devote themselves completely to each other and none else, they should be allowed to share in certain family-related benefits like health insurance, and their inheritance from the other in case one of the two passes should not be questioned. But I believe that of all people, plural marriage, people who leave inheritances to animals, and other nontraditional family situations included. I have no problem with civil unions, but marriage is a completely different story. You want me to legally recognize your "right" to join yourself with another human being of your choice? Fine. Recognized. Have a happy life together. But you want me to say that God approves of your selection and will bless your happy home when He has stated that He disapproves? I'm sorry. I will not do that. And asking me to is immoral.

Why does the gay community require the heterosexual community's stamp of approval? (Oddly enough, we generally find that the gay community actively seeks the straight community's stamp of DISAPPROVAL, perhaps because it makes them feel more persecuted and therefore more justified in their complaining, but again, that's another blog entry.) Why does the Christian Right have to call a civil union a MARRIAGE?

The answer is...it doesn't. They don't need our stamp of approval. Jerry Brown and the California Supreme Court will call civil unions "marriages" and apply their personal approval stamps anyway. Unfortunately, Prop 8 is just one big opportunity for the Christian Right to be made into bigots, and it is incredibly likely that Prop 8 will not pass. And no one will be surprised.

But I will get out of California if and when it comes to that. I will not have my children taught in a public school that homosexual relationships, polygamous relationships, and that bestial relationships are normal and acceptable. I will not allow my children to be told that their parents are the heterosexual equivalent of the KKK because their religious beliefs tell them that same-sex relations are wrong. And though I will continue to love and interact with my gay and lesbian friends without thinking twice about their sexual relationships (which DO NOT CONCERN ME!), I will not pretend that my religion would approve of their bedroom activities...and they are okay with that. I don't have to discuss sexual intimacy or watch my friends make out with and grope each other - homo OR heterosexual! - to love them as friends and respect them as individuals with individual needs, wants, and passions, and they do the same for me.

And should the state wish to pass a law about civil unions allowing gays to be united and share in the benefits of being united legally, I would be willing to vote for that. (I realize that displeases the Christian Right, but the bottom line is that marriage is male-female, and civil unions require the legal recognition of any number of types of unions, by which laws I will abide.) I don't believe civil unions are a religious issue...but they certainly become a legal issue when people start attempting to marry their dogs. Again, a whole different blog entry.

So what's the solution here? Californians: Vote your conscience. VOTE. Get registered NOW if you're not yet registered, and GO TO THE POLLS on election day. Obama or McCain? Who cares? We're screwed either way. But Prop 8 is really important. Vote on it. If you'd like to do more, or are not a Californian but would like to support Prop 8, check out http://www.protectmarriage.com/ and sign up for emails, volunteer work, etc. I made about a hundred phone calls today for Prop 8. It took less than 2 hours. I've still got more to go, but at least I'm doing something.

And when Prop 8 fails to pass, which, let's be honest, is likely, express your disgust to the California Supreme Court, to Jerry Brown, (heck! Why not express it now???) to your senate and house reps, and then do what we're planning to do: Get out of California. Red states are looking more and more attractive all the time...

Problem Solved,
Mommy

PS. It was incredibly difficult to find photos of gay couples for this blog entry that were not sexual in nature. I could put forth a few paragraphs-worth of conjecture on why that is, but I think I'll just allow my incredibly intelligent readers to draw their own conclusions.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Problem: Attempting to Drill Offshore in California

Many moons ago I emailed Barbara Boxer - one of our state senators, along with Dianne Feinstein, and grrrr to both - about something I posted on this blog. I received a generic "we'll never get around to replying" email, and though I was complaining on behalf of myself and her constituents, apparently her email system thought I wanted monthly updates from Boxer's office. Right.

I receive the first (last and only...I immediately emailed to "unsubscribe", as though I had subscribed in the first place) update, and immediately I noticed Boxer's headline: Senator Barbara Boxer will fight to protect YOUR interests and keep oil rigs off our coastline!

Tell me, Senator Boxer, how on earth is that in MY best interest? I suppose pretty coastline is of far greater interest to me than my country being free of the tyrannical rule of OPEC, or maybe it's of greater interest to me than sacrificing $4.59 a gallon (yes, it got up that high, just down the street!) for gasoline.

Wait, no...it's in the best interest of your much wealthier constituents who contribute ridiculously large sums of money to your campaign and incidentally own large beach homes on the aforementioned coastline to be able to look out on the ocean and see just that: Ocean.

Barbara Boxer, how dare you presume to tell me that looking out on the Pacific and seeing the horizon dotted with - nay, COVERED IN - oil rigs would be an eyesore instead of a patriotic lift? It's not like our beaches are all that beautiful, if we Californians are being honest with ourselves. The water is an ugly, dark blue-green full of churning sand and floating chunks of kelp, the sand is grainy and gray-brown, and the beaches are horribly littered. We're not talking the Carribbean here, or the Mediterranian, or anything close to the likes of Tahiti, Fiji, or BoraBora. Our beaches are a poor, pathetic claim to fame...at best.

Right now you're saying to yourself, "So Mommy's position is that it's okay to make it uglier?" Yes. But honestly, are oil rigs just an eyesore, or the suggestion that we may yet be able to severe ties with the organization now using the Euro to discuss gasoline pricing "because the dollar is a worthless piece of paper." Yes, ladies and gents, that was a quote from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last November at an OPEC conference: "They get our oil and give us a worthless piece of paper," he said to the press, and Venezuelan president agreed, saying that "the empire of the dollar has to end." How about we allow Boxer to side with the Iranian and Venezuelan presidents for the sake of "keeping our coastline beautiful"?

Because, and I don't believe I'm alone in this, if I were to look out on the Newport Beach horizon tomorrow, or stand on a cliff in Malibu and stare out at the ocean, or lie on a beach in La Jolla gazing out over the water and see an endless chain of oil rigs, I would feel a pride in my country swelling in my breast to match or exceed the pride I felt almost 7 years ago now as the law enforcement and fire fighters lost in 9/11 were paraded in caskets through the streets of New York. Those oil rigs would signify to me our TRUE independence: Independence from foreign oil and foreign debt. Heck, I'd buy a boat just to sail out to one of them and bring the drilling team on the rig a home-cooked lunch...and I'd buy it with the money I saved on gasoline. I'd take an Alaskan cruise and vacation on the coasts of Texas, Louisianna, Mississippi, and Florida to help generate American Pride in Oil Drilling Tourism. I'd donate to create wildlife preserves in Alaska for the endangered species if it meant drilling around those preserves could commence. And I'd put my hand on my heart every time I saw a oil rig off the California coast whether it was flying an American flag or it didn't have a flagpole. (If I were military, I'd salute.)

And yet Barbara Boxer thinks she's protecting my interests by keeping oil rigs off my coastline, and that I'm obviously better off paying four-and-a-half-dollars a gallon for gasoline if it means that the beach is...pretty? We can't really call California beaches pretty. But I digress. And I state here and now that Barbara Boxer does NOT think she's protecting my interests by "protecting California's coastline from drilling." That's bull poo, and she knows it. Barbara Boxer is protecting her campaign fund. After all, the wealthy California liberals that own beach houses are the ones that have kept her in office as a junior senator since 1992, right? And it's 2008, people. That means election year. I may technically be one of her state residents, but we make less than $100,000.00 a year and our contributions and donations go to our church, not Barbara Boxer. Who cares about Mommy out here in Anaheim? Certainly not Barbara Boxer. The very thought is laughable.

Now for the solution: Offshore drilling is a necessity, particularly since we're so painfully behind in the development of other energy sources. So Barbara is going to get another email from me - and an unsubscribe shortly thereafter - followed by a letter and a phone call to her office. And so is Dianne. And my House of Reps rep. And I'm about to hop on the internet and find out exactly who is running for office this November and email THEM, too. While I'm at it, I'll be writing a letter to the White House, to John McCain, and to B. Hussein Obama. WE WANT OFFSHORE DRILLING!!! WE WANT TO SUSTAIN OURSELVES WITH OUR OWN ENERGY!!! It's a good thing I just bought stamps at the post office, because I'm sick of being the silent majority, and you should be, too. There are a lot of things you should be sick of, and people, silence is NEVER golden. Peace, perhaps, but silence? NEVER.

Mommy's back, and she's pissed. The gloves are off. Let's do something about it, shall we?

Problem solved,
Mommy

Monday, April 28, 2008

Problem: Religious Bigotry and the FLDS Church

It's been all over the news: 400+ children have been removed from their super-sheltered homes because children, particularly young women ages 14 - 17, are reportedly being abused by their parents and friends on a Fundamentalist Latter-day Saint ranch in Texas. Girls in that age group are being required to marry men 3 times their age -- and older -- and consumate their marriages during sacred ceremonies in a so-called temple. Authorities have stepped in. Women and children have been removed from the ranch, and many of those children are in the process of being farmed out to local and willing families who have agreed to foster the children temporarily.

I find it odd that religious freedom is mentioned in the constitution, but fought against at every turn in these United States. According to the First Amendment to the US Constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." According to the Supreme Court, however, the right to free exercise of religion is not absolute, stating "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices." That makes sense, and I do not argue with this point. After all, Aztecs worshipped their gods via human sacrifice, and in this country, that is completely unacceptable. Practices should be limited.

But let us examine those practices.

First, allow me to make myself clearly understood: I am not defending the practice of polygamy, (particularly as it is forbidden by the laws of the land!) nor the wedding of a 15 year-old girl to a 55 year-old man, nor her immediate bedding post-"I do." I do neither support nor make excuses for child abuse. And I certainly don't encourage teen pregnancy. (See previous blog entries.)

However, in this particular case, the vast majority of these polygamous families seem incredibly content...even happy. (Outside of another woman sleeping with my husband, it would indeed be incredibly convenient to have a few extra hands around the house.) The children are well-mannered to a fault, fed on home-grown, unprocessed foods, taught respect and responsibility and a love for God and man, are modest, clean, sincere and unfailingly polite (as reported by the social workers entering the ranch). And if we are to look back only a century and a half in our own country, girls were getting married and having babies (in that order!) at an age far younger than is the norm today, shorter lifespans or no. Travel further back (by perhaps only another hundred years!) and young girls were marrying MUCH older men. It's not necessary, however, to travel quite that far back to hear stories of wedding nights where everyone sat in on the couple's first sexual experience together, whether watching intently to witness the act for history's sake, or running around the building banging pots and pans, teasing the couple mercilessly. (Talk about performance anxiety!)

And yet here we are, barging into homes, ripping apart families, thrusting innocent (and intensely naive) children into new and terrifying situations because of an antiquated "fundamentalist" belief held by their parents. One could argue the fundamentalism of Seventh Day Adventists, as well, albeit the fundamentalism of one is not as offensive to our modern-day sensabilities as the fundamentalism of the other. We modern Americans don't want the FLDS church to exist, let alone their polygamous practices. And so we blame the Mormon church that the FLDS faith exists at all. We don't blame modern-day Catholics for the Inquisition, of course, but the Mormons? Well, they're fair game.

It doesn't seem to matter, what they teach to their members about Jesus Christ, love, honor, respect, faith, and honesty, the charity the LDS church extends to the world, the traditional and conservative lifestyles oriented around the family that they lead, the service that they offer in their churches or communities, the fact that there are millions of them the world over with only one spouse, or their political leadership (as evidenced by Mitt Romney, well and truly out of the 2008 presidential race thanks primarily to his religious affiliation). They are somehow the enemy, a running joke, and a menace...and it is entirely their fault that a 55 year-old man in Texas bedded his 4th and 15 year-old wife in a "holy" temple. Well, it is, isn't it?

Or perhaps the United States has opted to accept any and all religions -- save one. After all, it's not kosher to joke about Jews or acceptable to slander Allah...the PC police might just come knocking at your door. Worse yet, you might lose your livelihood: say such things at work, and you'll be called into HR for your racist behavior. But make a crack about a Mormon? Talk about those sick old Mormon men and those horrible old women marrying off their screwed up young daughters to the aging perverts, tell a Romney joke, or better yet, elbow your friends and comment on how great it would be to have half a dozen women at your beck and call, and people not only turn a blind eye, but elbow you right back.

Now to the problem's solution: What do we do for the misunderstood Mormon faith? More importantly, what do we do for the 400-and-some children forcibly removed from their families? Well, first and foremost, polygamy is illegal. Send the parents to jail. The fact that a state turns a blind eye in the first place is problematic. Our law enforcement needs to nip this sort of thing in the bud before it ever balloons into a problem of such magnitude, and if you live in AZ, TX, UT or NV, it is your responsibility to expect your law enforcement agencies to do their jobs. If a Jehovah's Witness is drafted and refuses to serve, we send them to jail. Jail the parents of the FLDS children. They are willing participant in lawlessness. Period.

Their children? Americans always think twice before removing children from their parents, but the bottom line, people, is that when a parent has commited a criminal act, they must make amends with their country and have temporarily forefitted the right to possess their children, however fabulous a parent they may be. We cannot, however, just stick them anywhere with any family. The social workers will argue that these children aren't going "just anywhere", but there are so very many children, so few foster parents...many of these children will be exposed to things they are not yet prepared to handle, and should instead be going to live with LDS families. I know very few LDS families who wouldn't immediately volunteer to take in one or more of these kids, helping them to feel secure in the fact that their basic beliefs are in practice in the "modern" world, but also able to introduce them to that modern world with the solid foundation of their religious beliefs still intact. Heck, I'll volunteer.

As for the problem of general Mormon-bashing and religious bigotry? As always, it comes down to self-control and personal reassesment. Rather than born-agains sitting in their meetings on Sundays listening to over-the-pulpit advertisments on "how to convince a Mormon they're wrong," perhaps they may wish to focus on the true gospel of Jesus Christ and His great love for all His children. Rather than standing around the water cooler discussing the less-understood and more fantastical aspects of Mormon - or Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist! - religious beliefs, perhaps a few moments spent studying those beliefs as outlined at http://www.lds.org/ might be appropriate (or any number of other faith's own websites, outlining their own beliefs). And just generally, of course, renewing our personal devotion to less hatred and more bridges of understanding always seems to help.

Problem solved,

A Mormon Mommy

Monday, March 24, 2008

Problem: Skin Tone Pride

Running errands this morning, I pulled up alongside a car bearing an incredibly large sticker in the window reading "White Pride."

Shocking, isn't it?

The driver didn't appear to fit into the stereotype of the shaved-head young twenty-something militia-type male...instead it was a 30-something woman, dressed relatively tastefully (from my view in the window), chatting away on her cell phone. (That was the second of two reasons I no longer wished to be anywhere near her car.)

It is simply appaling that in this day and age people exist who both take pride in the tint of their skin, (a genetically-dictated trait...not one they can control, nor one they have selected,) and who see fit to advertise their obvious bias toward a particular shade or pigment of flesh.

I am "white." I've been called white, caucasian, "of European descent," and a whole host of other not-so-nice expressions for my skin shade, which is somewhere between peach and pale beige. If you were to pick up color from a box of crayons to mimic my skin tone, it would probably be some pale variety of peach. That's fine with me. But I'd be just as fine with it if the crayon were dark brown, bronze, or anything in the color spectrum from deepest chocolate brown to albino pale. My concern is not so much the shade of my skin but the way I'm treated because of it AND the way I think of myself and others with regards to skin tone.

And just how DO I think of myself? Probably the way you do: I have x amount of skin pigment, which gives me the look I sport on a day-to-day basis, but otherwise, barring sunburns and wrinkles, I don't give my skin much thought, color or otherwise.

The woman in the car next to me obviously felt differently, and there is very little I can do to change her mind, unfortunately. By advertising her "pride of ownership" over a pale body covering, she has very effectively announced her opinions - about herself, her ancestry, and others who do not share that skin tone. And her opinions, rather than making me want to "high-five" her, make me instead roll my eyes, cringe, and look away. I also worry for her: put her in the wrong neighborhood, and she'll be shot. Some would argue "One less stupid white woman," right? Not so. One more hate crime based on unecessary race-based pride and hatred in the first place. Why on earth would this woman wish to advertise those opinions? White pride is not popular, cool, Godly, respectable, reasonable, inclusive, or anywhere close to healthy. Quite the opposite: it's sickening. Dividing. Ridiculous. Even, if you catch my meaning, obscene. White pride. Disgusting.

I hope it makes you as sick as it made me.

Now, a confession: The sticker did NOT say White Pride. It said "Brown Pride." Are you every bit as sickened? Every bit as bothered? Instead of the skinhead stereotype, are you picturing another stereotype - perhaps a young twenty-something Mexican with a shaved head and mustache all tatted-up in a low rider? Not so, my friend. It was a thirty-something Latina, well-dressed and on her cell phone in an Altima. Does that make it okay?

Of course not. It's still as sickening, dividing, ridiculous, and obscene. For her to advertise her race-based pride and hatred is almost as bad as the fact that it exists at all...that she finds it both necessary and appropriate to inform others that her marginally darker skin tone is something to be proud of. And what is pride, really?

According to Dictionary.com, it has a number of meanings, very few of them anything resembling healthy: a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc. That's one. Another: a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character. DUE to oneself, huh? Try a third: pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in a hereditarily-passed skin pigment. Wow. Want to know the synonyms? They're great. Get this: conceit, egotism, and vanity. And here's the kicker to the whole thing: search for "pride" on dictionary.com and then check out the advertisement column at right...one of the "related ads" has a link, and it says "Brown Pride." Then there are those who take it to the other, self-righteous extreme. I won't go into it, but this is an interesting page: http://mysorebutt.com/white-pride.php It's still (more or less, but at least they make a point) unacceptable.

Since when is it appropriate to put one's genes above anothers? To take pride in a skin tone passed from a forebear? To reinstate Nazi ideals linked to a different skin tone? Now, American pride or Latino pride or African-American pride, fine. That's a matter of culture, and I can tell you here and now that I'm proud of my American heritage and I love a good hotdog on the barbee. But white pride? Brown pride or black pride? Give me a break. The statement alone implies that the owner of a given shade of skin believes themselves to be possesed of, what was it?, "a high or inordinate opinion of one's own...importance, merit, or superiority." That is simply not acceptable behavior, whether coming from an adult or from a child who should have been taught better by an adult.

How do we change it? Now, that's the question. And, as usual, it falls to the correction of personal attitudes and behaviors, and setting an example for others who exhibit poor behavior. We abolish pride - particularly where it's based on something as ridiculous and uncontrollable as skin color! - in our own lives, and refuse to buy the "Brown Pride" t-shirts, the "Black Power" window stickers, the "White Pride" banners. We deign to acknowledge the biggots who wear and display them. We treat all people as equals regardless of pigment...unless they choose to prove to us that they do not deserve the respect we offer, in which case we attempt to extend the benefit of the doubt because they might be having a bad day. And most importantly, we choose not to be offended.

Know someone who advertises pride due to flesh tint? Chat with them about it...tactfully. But the most important thing is working on ourselves; making the decision that our skin pigment (or lack thereof) is just that: pigment, not person. And then treat others the way God would have you treat them...like people.

Problem solved,

Mommy

Monday, February 25, 2008

Problem: US Education, Part 1

It seems to me that Junior and Community Colleges would like to someday "grow up" to be REAL colleges and Universities. Perhaps they aspire no further than collecting money from 17 - 23 year-olds who would seek to continue their high school experience. Or perhaps some of them DO have loftier goals -- UVSC in Orem, UT, becomes Utah Valley University this Summer -- but their students do not, and they are left with the realization that the education the provide is doomed to mediocrity. Or perhaps, in an attempt to meet their goals, they set their expectations above those of their fellow community colleges and watch as their populace fail, repeating course after course, dropping out just shy of an AA. That being the case, it is the students who are the problem...and the colleges happy to offer A's to reward their mediocrity.

And that's the problem I'd like to address.

We have already discussed the serious lack of motivation amongst the student population in the US today, and the fact that so many countries have surpassed us, we are now a joke. And there are, of course, those who are incredibly motivated and struggle endlessly for scholarships to good schools that will provide them the sort of education necessary to support and educate themselves and their families. Universities around the country are full of them.

But there are also those whose parents force them to go to college, and their lack of motivation, continuing from their high school career now to their college career, drives them just enough to keep their parents off their back, and they enroll in their local community college, never having considered what they might (or might not) want to do after high school.

They submit research papers sporting a poorer grasp of the English language than is had by your average 12 year-old...and those papers receive A's. They attend class when their hangovers will permit (see accompanying photo, pulled off "Drunkuniversity.com" of a young man who passed out on a bathroom floor at a college party while crouching next to a toilet. Charming), spending more time hunting for a close-to-campus parking space than they do in the library, and spend hundred of dollars on textbooks that will be sold back to the college without ever having had their spines cracked. And still they manage A's and B's in their classes.

I realize that, in a capitalist economy, we need people no more qualified than these to do the borderline white-collar jobs we reject, but every time I am asked to edit a "college" paper I'm sure is destined to be graded gently even though it's as comprehensive and well-written as a phone number on a napkin, I shudder. How did these people manage to graduate from high school? How did they manage to fill out their community college applications? (Or was it Daddy and Mommy that took care of those little details?)

WHEN DID OUR COLLEGE STUDENTS DECIDE THAT SUBMITTING CRAP TO THEIR PROFESSORS WAS OKAY??? WHEN DID OUR HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM START ACCEPTING CRAP???

The solution, therefore, is twofold (and incredibly simple!): Unless would-be college students can submit a complete, coherent, and evidently capable application with essay to their school of choice, they should not be welcomed into the student body. Instead, they should be redirected to similarly-priced reeducation classes to teach them remedial subjects...like how to speak and write English. This is in the bare hope that they will either attend the remedial classes and LEARN SOMETHING, potentially being motivated by their success and attending college with pride (earning grades they deserve) in the future, or they will be discouraged enough to pursue something other than higher education and enter the job market as semi-productive individuals earlier. That's the first part: motivating (or demotivating) the would-be students.

The second part follows: Colleges must begin awarding the grades that are EARNED. If a college senior writes at a 5th grade level, HOW did that student become a senior? Instead, students should be held back, fail and repeat classes, be required to take extra (and remedial) English classes, be denied recommendations for white-collar positions, and receive only the grades that they have actually earned. If we begin holding these students to something closer to the standard of a typical University, one of two things will happen: they will struggle to keep up and will succeed, building self-esteem, or struggle to keep up and fail, dropping out (without refunds, so the community colleges remain happy!) and entering the work force to do something beneficial for society, building self-esteem due to their ability to earn a living without the need for higher education.

How could bolstering our expectations be a bad thing? How can expecting students to properly utilize the English language, to spend more time in the library than getting drunk, and to learn to work at a level acceptable to the white-collar work force be wrong? Because it isn't. So contact your local community college deans and request that their grading standards be intensified. Both Fullerton and Cypress Community Colleges will be hearing from me. Bet on it.

Problem solved,
Mommy

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Problem: Morbid Curiousity

Perhaps we, as humans, want to see the accident on the side of the freeway because it makes us appreciate that we're not the ones now completely screwed, or worse, dead. Perhaps it's that we have spent the last hour in standstill traffic with nothing to do and now that the accident is finally in front of us, we want to see what we were waiting for. Perhaps, deep down, the carnal, vulgar side of us is interested in gore and death and people having their brains blown out on film isn't enough; we want to see the blood-smatterings on the freeway piling.

We don't get enough, in movies, do we? That question is rhetorical; it's already been answered by Hollywood's fulfilling of our expectations: I watched 3:10 to Yuma recently, (which was bloody enough,) and the previews were equally as bloody. War (with Jet Li) stands out as a stunt-heavy blood film. Now, before you criticize me for watching an R-rated movie, allow me briefly to defend myself: there's no sex, one lady's bare bum, a handful of swear words, and a bunch of Old West gun battles where we see, among other deaths, a young man have a hole blown into his neck by a six-shooter at point-blank range. Yeah, yeah...I'm desensitized. It's not High Noon...it's today's film for today's audience (as evidenced by the appearance of Luke Wilson, Angel from X-Men 3, and the Notorious Bettie Paige). Both 3:10 to Yuma and High Noon were well written, with similar story lines, or at least ideas. (No such thing as a new idea.) One of the two is a classic, and the other is a well-written, bloody-heavy modern production. 50 years ago, no one wanted to see a main character's chest shot half a dozen times so that as he slid sideways against a train car a blood trail was left behind, but times have changed. If we can't see the bullet being wrenched from the Pinkerton's stomach, we're not interested. It's not real enough.

Sometimes, however, it's too real. FAR too real. Take young Heath Ledger's death two days ago; I heard from my mother that he had died and, in utter shock at our generation's new River Phoenix, ran to the computer to access cnn.com. Listed on the right-hand side of the screen were half a dozen news report videos, one of which disturbed me terribly: it was a 45-second long video entitled "Ledger's Body Removed from Building" and the photo accompanying the title and video length was of a black body bag strapped to a stretcher headed for a van amidst a veritable horde of newsmen and paparazzi shooting video and snapping pictures. It was OBSCENE.

I did not watch the video. A man younger than myself, the father of a 2 year-old girl, and a well-respected and popular actor is dead from an overdose, whether intentional or unintentional, it makes no difference. But do you remember the last time a celebrity, politician, or other famous type had a mass of people standing around eager for a photo or a video of a body bag? I don't.

What is it about us human beings that makes such grizzly "reporting" profitable to the newsmen? They wouldn't be filming 28 year-olds in body bags if people weren't eager to share in the spectacle. Can we not hear the report on the news without perusing photos and videos of bodies being loaded into vans? Have we, as a people, descended so far into our morbid curiousity that we now promote and pay for the opportunity to examine morbid atrocity?
I believe that, because we can safely access emotionally pornographic news material on the internet as we sit solitarily in front of our computers, we feel we can escape judgement for that curiousity. After all, it's there for the viewing. It's not nudity, we argue...not the gunshot, not a coke snort, not even the body itself. Imagine for a moment what the stations would have paid for a photo of young Ledger's reportedly naked, face-down body, the pill bottle in the background. And now imagine how many people would pull it up on their computers in the privacy of their own homes. Would you be one of them? Were you one of the thousands of people who did a Youtube search for the still-and-thankfully-unreleased video of Ledger's fellow Aussie Steve Irwin's death? Perhaps you're not one to look at or watch "physical" porn, but examine yourself closely: do you seek out emotional or mental pornography? Do you take the time to examine the automobile crash as you drive by? And to what end?

Consider the grieving former fiancee, wondering what she could have done differently. The daughter left behind who will never know her father but by his films. The housekeeper, who will undoubtedly be in therapy for some time to come. The doctor who blames himself for the prescription. Ledger's parents and family, now devastated. Ledger himself, entirely robbed of the dignity in death he tried so hard to give the characters he played in life. How about Irwin's wife and daughter, associates, crew, zoo, and even an entire country of devotees? How about the lives affected by the roadside crash? Everyone from those involved directly to their families, friends, fellow church goers, business partners, and neighbors all the way down to the children of the police who arrived on the scene, receiving an extra, emotional hug from a saddened and reflective parent on the eve of the accident. Right now, though, think of Ledger: the young mother of Heath Ledger's baby will inevitably be exposed to a photo or video of his 28 year-old body in a black bag surrounded by eager photo-takers. If I were her, the sight would make me vomit.

What is the solution to the problem of our morbid curiousity? Well, under some circumstances, it's difficult to curb, particularly when we drive down the freeway and thank our form of God that we were not the ones involved in what we witness. But the porn-addiction aspect? We must treat our morbid curiosity the same way we would treat an addiction to drugs. Avoidance. Complete, total, and comprehensive. Therapy, if necessary. But a conference with God, repentance, and a change of heart that includes total avoidance of the addiction in the future is imperative. Don't believe in God? You can still repent, which means to feel bad, make reparations, change your mode of operation, and move on.

Why do most of my solutions to problems we, as a world community, face generally come back to personal responsibility? Because personal responsibility is the foundation for all things right -- or wrong -- in society. It is our refusal to accept responsibility, and sometimes the denial of our own need to take responsibility, that prevents us from growing into the people we have the potential to become. If we cannot become the people we are meant to be, our society can never grow into the kind of healthy, idyllc society we all envision. However, if we start with us -- each of us, individually -- we cannot possibly fail.

Don't watch films and television shows (I won't, either!) that desensitize you. (I'm guilty as anyone, here!) Grieve along with the people whose car is overturned in the left lane, but do not gape. And don't believe for one second that clicking on a video of Heath Ledger's body bag doesn't condemn you and isn't additional motivation for the newspeople to keep filming and posting their footage. You can still watch the news without entertaining its more vulgar aspects. You can still help Ledger's little girl grieve without watching the body being removed. Be responsible for what you see -- and what you let your kids see -- and conscious of how what you see affects others. Be careful...for your sake, and everyone else's.

Problem solved,
Mommy