vendredi, février 25, 2005

To Protect (Some of) Your Rights, They Must Destroy Them, or Why I Maybe Punched the Attorney General of Kansas in the Nose

Lately, conservatism has come to stand for eroding the quality of rights to the point where those rights have almost no value. As always, the 2nd Amendment is excluded – this only applies to rights they abhor or don’t understand. For example, the right to drive a huge SUV is sacrosanct. The freedom of speech…well…not so much.

In fact, the man won't even let me write about how the Bush Administration is [this section redacted by the U.S. government, General Electric, General Motors and Rupert Murdoch]. See?

The other day, I saw a political cartoon comparing the value of suffrage in America (an overweight man in a tee shirt complaining about waiting two hours to vote) to the value of suffrage in Iraq (an overweight woman proudly holding up a purple thumb). The joke was that here, if we’re inconvenienced in exercising a right, then it’s not worth the bother…meanwhile others would risk death for that right. Man, what a funny cartoon.

I read the cartoon differently than the cartoonist intended. First, I saw it as a perfect metaphor for Western excess. For example, there are people in the world who spend the better part of a day seeking water and protein. We throw both away like they’re meaningless. Here, water is for lawns. Protein is for fad diets. Should I get a double cheeseburger or a bacon double cheeseburger?

Second, I felt it brushed aside too easily the inconvenience itself. Making people wait two hours to vote can be disenfranchisement. Running out of ballots can be disenfranchisement. Overstaffing in one polling place, understaffing in another…you know the impact of that. Inflexible employers on voting day can support disenfranchisement. Quick story: I have a colleague who almost didn’t get to vote because she had to leave. She got to the polling place an hour before it opened and after 3 hours, she almost had to leave without voting. She had a breakfast meeting that she had to attend.

Also, friends, inconveniences must also be considered in light of how easy it would be to eliminate them. For example, in this day and age, why, in most states, can you only vote on one day? It’s just like voter registration. We could make it really easy, but making it easy would compel more people to vote, and Republicans don’t want that. In fact, Republicans expect that people will see the whole thing as bull and not bother with it. Which leads me to my third point…

Third, the cartoon totally neglected the fact that the inconvenience is intentional. It is intended to disenfranchise voters. Yes, blame voters for not being more patient. Blame their lives for not allowing them to free up 4 hours in one day to vote. But, in so doing, don’t let the true perpetrators run free.

Today Dumb Ol’ Nick sent me this link from my home state of Kansas. Here’s another attempt to water down a right. It makes the same point but it uses a different right. Click on the link and look at the man. He's lying. You can tell by his smug expression that even he does not believe what he is saying.

By the way, man, oh man, my friends love to send me stuff about how backwards Kansas is. You know why? Because Kansas is so backwards. It really is. Half of Kansas believes the earth is flat. They believe the if you drive too far past Goodland or Dodge City, you’ll drop right off the earth. More than half believe that the sun revolves around the earth, and it takes a week to do it. Science is the second worst four-letter word you can utter in Kansas. It really is.

So, undermine womyn’s right to choose to the point where it loses its meaning. Does anyone – and I mean anyone – (including the Attorney General of Kansas) does anyone believe that his intent is to protect Kansas children? Does anyone believe that? Okay, let me ask it this way, does anyone believe that is his primary intent?

Maybe some day when I’m in Kansas, I’ll meet the Attorney General. And then maybe a dung beetle will appear on his nose and start munching (yes, you get what I’m saying). Then maybe I will punch him in the nose as hard as I can* . Maybe I will make a perfect fist, transfer my weight at the point of impact, and hit the target perfectly with everything I’ve got. Maybe then the AG will fall down and lie flat for a protracted period of time. Maybe I’ll stand by him and wait patiently for his revival. Then, maybe, when he stands up, I’ll simply inform him that I did it for his protection.

Oh, and by the way, maybe I'll be lying.

* Disputes should be settled by peaceful means. The staff at ILIM are all pacifists, and we don't condone violence. As my daughter says, "we don't hit." Readers of this blog are asked to never hit people, not even the Attorney General of Kansas.