Saturday, October 25, 2008

On Clothes Shopping and Political Rallies

It's conference season again, which once again means dusting off the business-casual clothes and buying extras as needed. My pants fit this year (funny how losing a ton of weight allows you to fit into your clothes), so I didn't have to fight that battle. However, I did hope to find a couple extra short-sleeve button-down shirts so as to avoid washing them or wearing the same shirt twice. Unfortunately, Walmart's selection, while excellent last year, was non-existent this year. There's always got to be a shortage of something to make the process difficult, I guess. Can't have me actually enjoy clothes shopping.

Sadly, my shopping coincided with a few coordinated street-corner rallies for Proposition 8. Had I known people were going to be out today, I would have stayed home. It's bad enough I have to drive past the sanctimonious Protecte Marriage! Yes on 8! signs every day on my way to work, but at least when it's passive signage I can construct a (false) mental model that it's just one crazy guy (or gal) going around putting these signs up everywhere. Then I can go back to living in my fantasy world where no one in my community would support such a violation of civil rights. But once I saw people standing on the street-corner with these signs (including one incredibly dishonest sign that read Yes on 8 = free speech), suddenly there were faces to go with the position. And they didn't look crazy; they looked just like normal people. Because they were normal people; they were people in my community. They were families with kids who were very passionate about eliminating a right. It was surreal to think about.

Then it got more surreal. One of these street-corner rallies had counter-protesters with No on 8 signs. They chanted Equality for all! and tried to get passersby to honk or otherwise make some gesture of agreement, cheering whenever someone did. The same thing happened on the other side of the street with the Yes on 8 people. It was a strange little competition the two sides were engaged in. On the one side you had people cheering for the elimination of a civil right, and on the other side you had people cheering whenever someone agreed this was a right to be preserved.

I was surprised at the exuberance of both sides. This was a rally for civil rights, not for a bond initiative. Praise should not have been given because neither position is worthy of it. Wanting to preserve a right should be expected, not applauded; and wanting to eliminate a right is never something deserving of applause. That this was taking place in my city left me dispirited. I had hoped my fellow citizens were above denying rights to people. Apparently not.

Not that my depressed state prevented me from honking as I passed the No on 8 people. Strange and depressing as the whole scene was, they were still right.

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