A Frank Talk about Marriage for Eric Stewart’s Benefit

Marriage is, at its root–hell, at its root, trunk, branches, and leaves–about property rights. In the not-so-distant past, it was about a changing of control of certain property of a man’s–his daughter–to the control of another man–her husband. Even now, marriage is about property rights and inheritance and assets and all kinds of legal contractual stuff.

There has been a radical redefinition of marriage in the last 150 years–people of every class came to expect that they would be allowed to marry for love, first and foremost, not for the economic benefits it would bring to their respective families. So, congratulations! If you’re married to a person you yourself chose and you fell in love with that person before you got married and, indeed, it was because you were in love with that person that you felt like you should get married, you are participating in the most radical redefinition of marriage in the history of human kind.

Even so, there are a lot of people–not just “crazy” radical feminist, but some of them, too–who believe that the institution of marriage is irredeemably tainted by its roots and history as a means of moving property (a woman) from one household to another. They see everything about the wedding and the marriage itself as being too steeped in traditions they find ugly. Plus, they don’t think that you should have to have a magical kind of legal documentation–like a marriage certificate–to assure that your property rights and power-of-attorney wishes are abided by. Some even think that it’s old-fashioned, this notion that a two-person headed household is so uniquely suited to best comprising a family.

So, let me be clear–if you support marriage first and foremost for love, you have already accepted the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history. But if you support marriage? You support an institution steeped in tradition, for better or for worse. This is the position most people in this country find themselves in–they like both the radical redefinition AND the institution steeped in tradition.

But the most liberal position on marriage is that it sucks and shouldn’t be necessary and is irredeemable.

Supporting and encouraging marriage is a conservative position.

Conservatives should be able to get behind the idea that two people who love each other and who want to provide legal protections for each other and their household is a good thing. And, in fact, among young conservatives, this is already a no-brainer. Of course, we’d want to encourage the stability of married partnerships, unlike those liberals who all want to live in polyamorous communes where everyone is called ‘Ned’ and they wee because Chumbawumba broke up.

Denying people the right to marry based on who they want to marry isn’t a conservative position. It’s just being an asshole. It’s saying “I want this great thing that protects me and the person I love from all kinds of shenanigans and trouble to be off-limits to you and the person you love.” It’s saying “I want special rights, because of who my spouse is.”

Let me repeat. Opposing gay marriage, when you yourself are married, does not make you conservative. It makes you an asshole who wants special rights.

That’s point one. Point two, the GLBT community has worked hard to help elect Democrats. They are working hard right now to help elect Democrats. We are all supposed to be mad and upset that Mark Clayton is on the ballot for Senator as a Democrat because he belongs to an anti-gay hate group.

Being anti-gay is supposed to be an uncool thing for a Democrat.

Apparently Eric Stewart did not get the memo.

Stewart presents himself as a conservative on some issues. For example, the senator said he is opposed to same-sex marriage, noting Tennessee voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“I stand with the voters of Tennessee,” he said.

Let me be as clear as I can be. I’m a Tennessee voter. And I did not vote for that abomination of a state constitutional amendment. So, if you have to have voted for that abomination in order to be considered by Stewart to be a voter worthy of his standing with, well, then, sir, message received.

Every day Eric Stewart takes for granted that, if his wife is in a car accident, he’ll be allowed to see her at the hospital and that, in fact, he’ll be able to make the necessary medical decision to return her to health. Every day Eric Stewart takes for granted that when he dies, his assets and property will go to his wife and that some distant cousin of his he barely knows won’t be able to claim she’s the next of kin. Eric Stewart doesn’t worry a moment that, if he and his wife were to divorce, her church would help her take their children out of the country so that he would never see them again.

That security, which he takes for granted, is too much to grant to other people in love.

Like I said, that’s not being conservative. That’s being an asshole.

David Fowler Needs a Literal Come to Jesus Meeting

Let’s be clear. David Fowler is like an evil Lloyd Dobler. He doesn’t sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. He runs a lobbying organization. If our country were a pure, straight-up capitalist system, he’d be shit out of luck because he has nothing to put out in the marketplace for people to purchase. If he lost his job, he would have to get another job snookering people into giving him money in exchange for him sending out self-aggrandizing press releases, because he has no other discernible skills. He is skating by on the goodwill and generosity of his supporters.

In other words, capitalism works under the assumption that you make something I can consume and I will pay you what the market will bear for it. David Fowler makes nothing that can be consumed. He doesn’t help make anything that can be consumed. He gets by solely by convincing people that he can be a better advocate for their positions than they could be. Probably because they have real jobs and don’t have time to be standing up at the State Capitol all day.

If you had to choose who has more value–the guy who takes your money at the Quik-Sak and who needs food stamps to feed his kids or David Fowler–the Quik-Sak dude is literally contributing more of value to society every day he shows up to work since he allows you to buy gas and coffee and snacks and pee when you need to than David Fowler, who is taking your money to play with his friends all day.

And you know, playing with your friends all day is good work if you can get it. But when you forget that you’re just extremely lucky and not actually contributing that much to the world?

It’s pretty ugly.


People, Look at This

Look. Honestly, it’s just too much. I’m going to have to start being a lot nicer. But I can’t! People, this is it. It’s as good as I get.

All I can say is that this grouchy, awkward semi-reclusive jerk loves you guys.

Was Dave Mustaine Making White Power Music All Along?

Alyssa Rosenberg has a nice take on the whole Dave Mustaine controversy. Well, it’s not really a controversy. He’s a paranoid jackass. But this is what I want to say, I lived in towns in Illinois that were, for all practical purposes, all-white. Even if there were some black children (and by some, I mean one or two), they were living with a white parent or white parents. There were no black adults. I did not know a black person my own age until I went to college.

My dad had black minister friends. I knew their kids. But they didn’t live in the towns I lived in. Sometimes, when they tried to, people tried to kill them.

I don’t know if they ever were officially sundown towns, or if there just came a point when it wasn’t necessary to be. Everyone knew what rural Illinois was like and so it stayed.

Therefore, every single person I knew who was a Megadeth fan was white. As was everyone who was a Metallica fan, and everyone who was a Michael Jackson fan.

There was a way that racism functioned in those towns that is much different from how it functions in places that aren’t so starkly whites-only. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen it effectively addressed by activists. I assume because who gives a shit about racism in areas where there’s no one to be hurt by it? Maybe? I don’t know. We leave, though, folks. And carry that shit with us wherever we go.

Anyway, there was a way in which everything in our white world was obviously for us white people. Even a band like Megadeth was for us. The music moved us. The lyrics hit us in the gut.

You can get almost drunk on that belief–that this is all for us. And that “us” is a small, pure group of true Americans, who don’t really have a place in America other than what we’ve carved out right where we are. If you don’t have that sense that we have this unsullied spot, but that lurking out there are forces that seek to sully it, you don’t quite get how it was in those years.

We were growing up alongside Matt Hale, and, as it turns out, Wade Page. They didn’t have beliefs that different than ours. Uglier by degree, but not unknown to us.

And so, I wonder, now, when we were listening to Megadeth, who did we think they were talking about?

I don’t know. It’s hard for me to get at exactly the question I want to ask. But when we listened and we found those songs cathartic, who were the imagined bashed in? Shot? Murdered? Who did we imagine? Who did ole Dave?

If we imagine that all young people feel somewhat disenfranchised and at the mercy of forces beyond their control and we imagine the music that appeals to people in this state is on a spectrum with just regular, fun, angry music on one side of the line and music like Wade Page made firmly and obviously on the other side, today I can’t help but wonder if Dave was standing on the far side of that line all along, making music that appealed to those of us on the near side, sometimes for reasons we would never admit to, least of all to ourselves.

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so the one place that I felt was unchanging was my grandparents’ house in Battle Creek. I remember being there one summer and I was out talking to the pine tree in their back yard, as you do. I don’t know. I’ve just always talked to plants. I was born that way.

But I remember overhearing my grandpa saying to my cousin M. something about how weird I was.

I don’t remember his exact words anymore, but I remember how it stung, how it made me feel like I didn’t fit in even at the one place I thought was stable and always accepting of me.

I don’t suppose, in the end, he meant anything terrible by it. And I guess I was weird.

But I have never forgotten the way my breath caught in my throat and my cheeks burned to hear it.