Skip to main content

More people who just don't get it

I'm starting a new movement. Actually, it's quite a big movement already, it just hasn't caught the attention of the important people in the world; you know them, they go by "progressive", "liberated", or "Blue stater". They're a huge group of people who are engaged in a grass-roots campaign to split this country right down the middle, both ideologically and geographically. They hate "fly-over states" and all that those huge tracts of land, oh wait, people, espouse to believe in.

My movement is this: shut up or I'll sick my mom on you.

See, the people in the fly-overs, like my mom, don't get it. They're the sorry holdovers from an ideological age long gone (over 10 years old!). And what's the best way to reach people who are the mirror image of your way of thinking? That's right! Insult them, use lots and lots of sarcasm and, oh yeah, make sure you rub in their faces the most contentious political issue you can think of.

Like abortion. Or gay marriage. Or, just for fun, turn pro-genocide and watch the disbelief come in waves. Ah, it's such a joy to accuse people of being wrong about things they had never considered to be up for debate. I know I often taunt my mom with my plans for charging people more money for drugs based on how sick they are. Good times.

Let's take gay marriage as a for instance. I talked about this before, and it seems that many people are still on about it. (Yes, I'm aware it's a big issue; that doesn't mean I like to hear about it every bloody day.)

My parents are everything "progressives" hate. (By the way, a little aside: When you read "progressives" on my blog, make sure to put the same venom and spite that you normally hear when someone uses the word "neocon". Back to it..) My parents are everything that "progressives" hate: church-going, firmly-convicted, Dutch Reformed Christians. The biggest shock of my life growing up was being able to skip the second service on Sunday. Up until their church took a distinct turn toward the Jesus-feet-style service, they went morning and night.

I would sell tickets to a debate between my Mom and a "progressive" on gay marriage. It would be the most you'd ever pay for 5 minutes of your life. Why 5 minutes? Oh, fine. I won't sell tickets or set up the debate, I'll just post the transcript now.

Moderator: Welcome to the first debate between Ryan's Mom and Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco. We have one question tonight and no audience members can ask questions during the proceedings. We'll begin by posing tonight's question to Mayor Newsom.

Mayor Newsom, should marriage between same-sex partners be legal?

Newsom: (cite) Denying gays and lesbians the right to marry denies them more than a marriage license; it precludes millions of couples from obtaining health benefits, hospital visitation rights and pension privileges. citizens pay taxes and protect our communities as firefighters and police officers, among other occupations.

Ryan's Mom: It is not our decision as citizens, or even as people, to decide was is right and wrong. God says that homosexuality is a sin. Encouraging a sinful activity is itself a sin. Supporting gay marriage, for a Christian, is wrong.

Newsom: (ibid) There is no rationale for discrimination against any individuals in California.

Ryan's Mom: I don't know about California, but it's not discrimination. Discrimination is excluding someone for no reason or for reasons over which the person has no control, like their skin color or ethnicity. Homosexuality is an activity already judged by the Creator to be wrong. By your logic, it would be acceptable to allow known pedophiles to run day care facilities.

Newsom: That's a completely unfair comparison. Homosexuals are not convicted felons.

Ryan's Mom: True, but if no one is the authority on what is right and wrong, nobody can be. Are you wiser than God, Mr. Newsom?

Newsom: My personal beliefs aren't open to debate tonight.

Ryan's Mom: That's not an answer. I'll answer it for you then. Of course you're not wiser than God. So, when you tell me that I'm wrong to act on what God has told me is wrong, it really doesn't hold much authority, does it?

Newsom: You're still wrong. Discrimination is wrong, no matter what.

Ryan's Mom: Make sure you tell that to Jesus on Judgment Day.

And that would be it. The great thing about sending people up against my mom is (1) she always gets the last word and (2) you can't insult someone's sweet mother and not expect to get some really bad press about it.

In all seriousness, if "progressives" want to reach out to the fly-over states (and that's how it's going to have to be), they need to do a couple things. First, they need to stop with this labeling bullshit. Calling yourself "progressive" neither makes you so nor convinces others that you are. Monty Python had that one down a long time ago: "...Why, if I went 'round calling myself emperor because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!" Just replace "bint" with your pundit du jour. The flip side of this is to stop labeling other people, especially with euphemisms for labels you can't get away with anymore. Take "neocon". "Neocons" are either so right of conservative they qualify as nationalistic, and they certainly are not new. So, whatever “progressives” think it means, it probably doesn’t. All that is accomplished by using new terms is to further divide yourself from those you’re trying to reach. (Another aside: I like to use people’s own ammo against them when I can. Read this article and tell me how it would read if it were published in 1938. Discuss.)

Second, take a page from those you're trying to convince. Evangelize to them. You've seen plenty of Mormons in the cities. Organize your own group of pro- or anti- whatevers and buy them plane tickets to Holland, Michigan or Souix Falls, South Dakota. Hell, set up an ideological exchange program. If you do it enough, maybe we'll wind up with this ideological haze where everyone is kind of happy, but not angry enough to actually do anything about it.

Just as it’s not government’s place to tell me what my morals should be, it’s not yours either. And you certainly won’t be telling my mom what her morals should be. That’s the whole point of having these marriage resolutions on a ballot. When people vote, that’s their way of speaking to you. And they spoke all over the place. Instead of being angry at the messenger, try listening to the message. If you don’t like the message, work constructively to change it.

Or be quiet. I don’t really care.


Popular posts from this blog

Google Inbox: A classic Google product

My work domain (an EDU) recently had Google Inbox enabled so I had a good chance to try it out. My personal email is relatively quiet and, I believe, doesn't provide a good Inbox experience. Work is more active and requires actual management, something I've tossed many a tool at over the years. As part of my work life, I supported the Google Apps for EDU installation here and took a pretty extensive presentation to campus about how to manage large amounts of email.

Inbox is a classic Google product: the distillation of a number of excellent ideas into a set of half-complete features built for a use case most people don't meet. We've seen this in the past in products like ChromeVox, Google's Chrome extension for accessibility. ChromeVox works great on ChromeOS devices, but completely ignores the point that most users of accessibility tech (AT) don't have or want ChromeOS devices and come to services with their AT in tow. ChromeVox also ignores decades of convent…


Evernote, for better or worse, is the best note-taking service for my needs. It works across all my devices/computers/modes. It's fairly easy to get stuff into it. Hell, they even have 2-Factor authentication. The Windows app is a little clunky and my girlfriend and I have never been able to get shared notes to work properly (conflicted note! three times in the same grocery trip!), but what service is perfect? At least they have nice socks.

Everything, in fact, is pretty good as long as you don't screw up. And screw up I did. I'm not very regular about making backups, but I do make them every month or so. Once you figure out how to create a backup, that is.

There's a helpful Export Note option (which turns into Export Notes when you select multiple notes HINT). The export process is essentially opening All Notes, selecting every note, and then choosing Export Notes. Or something like that; Evernote never tells you, you're left to figure it out on your own. The file…

RIP Tom Petty

Tom Petty died today, aged 66. I won't claim to be a huge Tom Petty fan, but I've bought an album or two and sang along in the car to one of those songs everyone knows. I'll  stream a lot of his catalog today to remember the songs I've heard once or hundreds of times.

I also owe Petty credit for a singular moment in my life, and one I never expected to last in my mind.

Nearly 20 years ago, I was a fresh-ish faced transplant to Ann Arbor, MI by way of my first "real job" out of college, working for a software company in Dexter. I was renting a house with some other folks who'd also been displaced as a result of a fire at my first apartment. I was the only family member East of Lansing, which made me a contact point for anyone going through Detroit Metro airport.

Which is how my uncle Dean came to spend a few hours with me one evening. At the time, my grandparents (his parents) were wintering in Texas. My grandfather had health problems most of his life and…