Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Oklahoma

Last night I watched with dismay but not surprise as my fellow Oklahomans demonstrated that they were influenced by deep-seated fear and in some cases, hatred for people who are *different*.  Several of our state questions were motivated not by a problem that required a solution but were written by people with a pathological distrust of others.  They managed to tap into and exploit the concerns of people who quite frankly don't understand the issues they are so charged up about.  There is much I could say about all this and I may at some point but right now I am enjoying my favorite city - New Orleans - and don't intend to spend too much time on all this.  I do, however, want to share something that one of my friends wrote on Facebook.  Kathy says much of what I'd say if I had more time right now.  Her vocabulary is a bit *salty* but I urge you to not allow a few F-bombs to distract you from the message. 

By Kathy Handley, shared with permission:

I think I need to clarify some misconceptions for some people who do not live in the... *sigh*... great state of Oklahoma, or who do not really know me very well, or both.

I am a registered Democrat.  I haven't always been.  When I first registered to vote, in Pennsylvania at 18, my "no party affiliation" registration came back loudly, brazenly stamped "Republican."  I was more than a little annoyed by this, as it required changing my registration and filling out paperwork which I then had to walk to a mailbox, which quite frankly, has never been my strong suit, and it felt weird and conspiratorial, like, "Oh, she has picked no party, so we will default to Republican!"

When I changed my registration to New York, I kept my "no party affiliation" up until there was a local primary I wanted to vote in--so I registered Democrat to vote in it.  Same thing when I moved to Oklahoma--I've lived here since the end of 2002, but I never chose a party until the 2008 presidential primaries, because I knew I'd be voting Democrat in that race, and I wanted to vote for the candidate who'd go on the ballot.

I don't know about you, and I'm not going to tell you what to believe or how to vote, but I get excited about elections, because I am perennially 16 years old and hoping someone will listen to all of my amazing ideas about how to change the world.  I research candidates and propositions and I make the best decisions I can, the decisions I think are in the best interests of me, my community, my state, and my country.  I do this independently of any candidate's party affiliation, because that is not what matters to me.  What matters to me is who people are and what they intend to do.  I've never once voted a straight party ticket and tonight was no exception.

Guys, I voted for Rudy Giuliani for mayor--and I'd do it again.  The dude is a maniac, but MAN he was a great New York City mayor.  And I realize that nine years and change after the fact, he still can't stop yammering about 9/11, but nine years ago, when that was what we were living through, what mattered was that he was showing up every day.  He never stopped talking to us.  He didn't make us feel the same way our President did, that we were on our own to sort that shit out.

I voted for Republicans tonight, too, because they were the most qualified for the job, or because their beliefs aligned most closely with mine for the positions they were seeking, or even because they ran cleaner and less offensive campaigns.  I don't vote Democrat out of some kind of misguided party solidarity... and in local elections, which I've found, as I get older, I am far more invested in than national ones, party affiliation is close to irrelevant.  I want to vote for the person who is going to represent me best, who has my best interests at heart, who is going to be a champion for what I need and what my community needs.

And I'm not quite sure how to say this except that Sally Fucking Kern is not that person.  She's a bigoted asshole with a big mouth who wants to legislate morality because she's uncomfortable with reality.  My new governor, Mary Fucking Fallin, is really no different.  That they're both Republicans is irrelevant to this conversation.  That they're both complete fucking pricks is incredibly relevant.

If you live outside of Oklahoma City, and most of you do, you are probably unfamiliar with Sally Kern.  She is a state house representative, and she is MY representative, in my district.  Today was the second time I've been able to vote against her, and she keeps winning anyway, despite being a world-class crackpot and an incredible asshole.   According to Sally, the "biggest threat" to America is the gay community--and not even gay marriage or gay activism, merely the existence of people who are gay.  I don't care what party this bitch is running under.  She's fucking crazy and she does not represent me.  And moreover, I do not even think she represents the majority of the people she is allegedly representing.  But Oklahoma is a red state, a conservative state, a state who votes the party line.

Oklahoma was the #1 red state in the nation in the 2008 Presidential election (66% to John McCain).  Do you have any idea how hard it is to convince people that this is a nice place to live and you have found value here when you're looking at stats like that?  Today at work, when I laughed at the ridiculousness of State Question 755--which passed, I'm sure you're all relieved to know, and prevents Oklahoma judges from drawing upon either international or Sharia law when making decisions--I heard, "Oh, remember, she's from the East--she doesn't think the way we do."  Really?  I suppose you're right.  I guess I am pretty confident that we already have an entire Federal government in place to ever prevent Sharia--a set of religious laws--from becoming the law of the land here in America, a country whose guaranteed number one right is separation of Church and State.  (Except, of course, according to Christine O'Donnell, who is unaware such a thing exists.)  But what the fuck do *I* know?  I'm from the EAST.  I might actually even KNOW some of those fucking terrorist Muslims.  Hell, I'm probably a Kenyan Muslim Socialist myself.

Can you please.  Give me a break.

I'm reaching a boiling point with the Muslim bullshit and the gay bullshit and I am begging you all to quit making this an issue of my being some bleeding heart socialist Yankee and start realizing it is a matter of my being a Constitution-loving, freedom-for-all American.  My CHILD is culturally Muslim and my dearest friends are gay.  You honestly need to shut up now.  This is not about Democrats or Republicans.  It is not about conservative or liberal.  It is not about socialism or fascism (and FYI to some of the more stupid among you, those two words connote diametrically opposed ideals, so you might want to start learning to use them correctly).  It is about ignorance and intolerance and fear and it is not my problem if you are unwilling to educate yourself enough to realize that, but hell if I am going to shut up and take it while you ruin my country because of your idiocy.

You know what?  Let's quit talking about healthcare.  Let's quit talking about Wall Street.  Hell, in Oklahoma?  Let's quit talking about how we're ranked #49 out of 50 in per-pupil spending on education and how state employees haven't gotten raises since 2006.  Let's talk about what America is supposed to be about.

Let's talk about religion, and how mine is not your problem and yours is not mine, and that is guaranteed under the very first amendment of our country's constitution--which, just for the record, your state, and mine, had to ratify in order to join this country in the first place.  Let's talk about exactly how much place your god or my god or Mohammad S. Ahmed's god has in our country's government, which is... none, and why and how you can possibly feel so threatened by a statistical minority that you need to preemptively, pro-actively legislate against the possibility they might one day have some power over you.

Let's talk about skin color and how white is not the "default" because it is "best" but because this country was settled by Europeans who systematically eliminated native people and claimed the land they found for themselves.  Let's talk about how people who are not white can still be Americans who were born and raised here and support their troops and respect their flag and tip their hats to the national anthem.  And let's talk about how they are routinely discriminated against in every single facet of their lives, to a degree that makes horrible ideas like affirmative action the only solution to a problem we can't seem to resolve by acting like decent human beings instead of fearful, ignorant fuckheads.

And finally, let's talk about the gays, and I really mean--let's talk about the gays.  Let's talk about how letting Jack and John next door have legal rights to their joint property and children has any bearing at all on you and how you live your life.  Let's talk about how much it doesn't fucking matter if Tammy in the next town over was born as Tommy and had an operation in Singapore five years ago.  Seriously, let's have a big fat valid conversation about why in the hell it matters to you whether my gay friend is allowed to adopt a baby he can afford to raise well, or why in the hell you care whether my lesbian friend is allowed to visit her "wife" in the hospital.

None of this shit matters to you in the slightest, Average American.  It doesn't affect you ever, at any time, in any circumstance, at all, for any reason.  It has absolutely nothing to do with you and it makes no difference at all in your world.  So why are you so dead-set on hate?  Why do you feel some overarching need to legislate against rights for your fellow citizens?  What in the world are you so fucking afraid of?

If you're so concerned that Jim and John will go to hell after they're married, how is that your problem, and even moreso, how is it the government's?  What part of "separation of church and state" are you not getting?  What part of "FREEDOM" is fucking unclear to you?

Do you honestly believe that being gay is a choice, like all gay people must have been exposed to gay sex when they were young and impressionable and decided it was awesome?  Are you afraid if you keep seeing them they might get to you, too?  I'm not even being sarcastic; I am genuinely curious.  I cannot even fathom how stupid you have to be that you really believe if anyone had the option, they would choose to be gay.  Have you not SEEN how you treat this community?  NO ONE would select this if they had a choice.  NO ONE enjoys pain and discrimination that much.

And the Muslims--my God, the Muslims!  They're going to take over America!  They're already taking over Europe!  Do you not realize how absolutely batshit insane you sound?  Do you have no concept of what America is, what America stands for, what we do and do not tolerate in America?  Do you honestly believe we are a hair's-breadth from stoning people to death for adultery in America because Mohammed said so?  Are you serious?

Look, I don't care what the rest of you do.  But I'm going to keep voting against my local bigots every time I get the chance, and I'm going to keep despairing when my neighbors continue to believe we need to send some kind of psychotic and paranoid signal to the rational people of the world by enacting insane legislation to prevent things that will never happen.  And in 2012, I'm going to vote for that big black fascist Kenyan Muslim socialist who's worse than Hitler all over again, because quite frankly, I think you're all out of your fucking minds, and he's the most rational person I've seen in politics in years.

Republicans or Democrats.  I don't care about your party.
I care about who you are.  Be a good person, not a racist or an idiot or a homophobe.  We'll be fine.

Thank you, Kathy, for saying what needed to be said. 


a11smiles said...

Wow, Spot ON!

I'm not from the states, I'm from the UK but I wish I had seen more sentiments like this just lately.

I have a lot of friends over the waters and I have quite frankly been shocked and angered by what people have been posting on their walls, their posts, etc.

I know it's all about living in a diverse culture and I know that we aren't free from these types of people and by that I'm not talking about anyone who has chosen a different path for their life or born a particular way so much so that there are people out their who feel it is unacceptable and wrong - I'm talking about the ones who feel that they can spout hatred at every opportunity.

Thank you for sharing this, its so true and so refreshing. If you were running and I lived over your way, I would definitely vote for you!

Deanna said...

Sarah-Jane: I, too, have been stunned by the bigoted, hateful, judgmental rhetoric I have been seeing so much lately. When I read this Facebook note by my friend, Kathy, I knew I had to share it.

Cherie said...

Sigh. I'm surrounded by these types as well and it's getting on my nerves as well. People are so concerned with what others do in their personal lives and want to force their beliefs on everyone else. And so much of the hate and intolerance comes from those who say they "follow Jesus." Excuse me? Didn't he say to love EVERYONE? Another good post.