A MinD in MoTown

I call bullshit.

To say I read a lot of news is likely an understatement. I swim in it every day, perusing each article with gasps and awes at moments. And occasionally, pure outrage results and then I wander over to my dear blog to spill my guts.

Today’s topic of choice? The cancellation of a Mississippi high school prom simply because one girl chose another girl as her date – oh, and because the student wanted to wear a tuxedo to the dance*.


It’s 2010. Progressive states, such as Iowa and most recently Washington, D.C.**, are providing same-sex couples with the marriage rights they so fervently fight for each day. People of the same gender aren’t completely ostracized – though I’m sadly sure they are at times – as they once were. We’ve moved leaps and bounds forward, and although there still remains so much more ground to cover and achieve, being a member of the LGBT*** community carries far little stigma than a decade or two ago.

Yet one female teenager decides to bring her girlfriend to the prom, and the result becomes a canceled event for the entire school. I’m far from surprised that this quickly became a hot news item, especially as the ACLU fights back with a lawsuit spearheaded by the shunned teen (as I write, this is the newest development).

Officials with the Itawamba (Mississippi) School District’s board of education are claiming that the media coverage of the situation has caused “distractions to the educational process,” forcing them into the prom’s cancellation. However, I see these comments as little more than fabrications meant to conceal their true opinions – likely those stemming from conservative, religious values that don’t allow them to see how unfair, unjust and unequal their treatment of this student is. And what nearly proves this fact is the timeline of events, because it seems to me that the school district called off the event prior to the real mediastorm eruption.

Sure, a few articles were probably printed as the ACLU stepped in to tell the district that they couldn’t justly forbid this 18-year-old from bringing another girl to the prom, which they not only stated specifically to the student at the center of this situation, but they did on a large scale by distributing a notice to all students that said prom dates must be of the opposite sex.

No, the real coverage of this controversy began only after the entire prom was scrapped to prevent one individual from attending – a girl who was flatly told by her school administrators that she and her date would be ejected from the prom if they arrived and any student expressed even the slightest issue with their same-sex coupledom. Maybe it’s time district officials and the board of education explained their true beliefs about equality regarding sexual orientation rather than hiding behind fallacies of their own creation, futilely blaming the media for a lack of prom festivities.

I’m not a moron and I completely realize that there are still people in this country who cannot see the need for equality across the board, including when it comes to one’s personal preference in a mate. However, it’s one thing to hold those beliefs and another to force them upon someone who clearly doesn’t hold the same opinion. To penalize this girl, and eventually the entire school, because of the “distraction” the two girls attending prom could be is utterly ridiculous for 2010 and I fully stand behind the ACLU as they attempt to rectify the situation, even if that’s via a lawsuit.

It amazes me that we can come so far when it comes to LGBT rights, and maybe even become complacent in our efforts toward the fight for that equality as we see progress occur. And then one seemingly small decision in a mediocre Mississippi town can ignite the fire under our asses. This school district decision has truly done that for me, and unfortunately it only proves how much change is still absolutely needed in this society.

* A smaller detail – that I won’t actually discuss – but she was forbidden to wear a tux because the district superintedent claimed only males could wear them.
** Yes, I know D.C. isn’t a state… Need we pick on the details? Sheesh!
*** Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, in case you didn’t know, though I hope you already did.


Build a bridge and get over it.
September 3, 2009, 7:12 pm
Filed under: Getting my RANT on, MoTown, Too liberal for the Bible belt

I tend to shy away from commenting on things happening in my own town because, as a journalist, I’m not supposed to have a public opinion. However, an issue has recently erupted that I cannot ignore on this blog or otherwise.

Several parents in the school district I regularly report on for the newspaper are up in arms today, but it’s not because of banned books or inappropriate teacher relations or even student misbehavior. Rather, it’s because the school district made a decision to air a national address from President Barack Obama this upcoming Tuesday; a speech that plans to discuss student achievement, working hard, staying in school and the student’s responsibility for his or her own learning.

He’s not ranting about health care or the war in Iraq. He’s not challenging children to think about adult problems such as unemployment or the economic crisis. He’s talking about education, something that daily affects every child in the nation. Yet some parents have complained to the school district about its decision to broadcast this national address for all students in grades three through 12.

And because of those few parents, the district has decided to allow all parents to choose whether or not their children watch the President’s remarks.

Now, let me start by saying I understand the school district’s cooperation with these parents in providing that option since so many parents seem perturbed about this broadcast. It’s the parents – the ones across the country who are furious about this school presidential address – I have an issue with.

While I have little to no idea why these parents have so uproariously refused to allow their children to watch Obama’s statements, I can only assume that it’s ignorance causing and creating their judgment. Perhaps these parents voted for John McCain in November and remain bitter that their candidate lost the election. Or maybe it’s because this is still the south and despite all hopes for equality, a rift – to some extent – remains between blacks and whites when it comes to personal perception. Or it could even be that these particular parents have something against Obama’s religion. But whatever the reason – and I assume it’s the first – this is a man discussing education and its importance, and yet ignorance prevails to the point where these innocent children miss out.

This is the President of the United States and regardless of someone’s personal opinions regarding his political party, his race, his religion, etc., we as a country need to come together and support him as our leader. That office commands respect. How many of us, after all, weren’t proponents of George W. Bush, but would have never in our wildest dreams thought of disregarding his position as commander in chief so callously? It’s one thing to catch a bit of flack from your critics for whatever reason. It’s quite another to defiantly challenge the president’s authority and standing in this nation.

And to make matters worse, the same kind of complacent ignorance is being taught to their children through these actions. As a person whose political opinions greatly differ those of my parents, being allowed to formulate my own stance without the pressure and coercion of my parents truly helped shape who I am as an adult. Imagine all these kids, forced to sit in another room as the majority of their fellow students watch this address. How much are they losing by this seclusion, by this blatant disregard for our president’s statements concerning education? These kids aren’t being taught to think for themselves; they’re being taught to mimic their parents and follow in the same footsteps as those before them.

It’s disheartening, to say the least.

I feel sorry for these children who won’t get to listen to their president this Tuesday. I truly do. And I’m equally appalled by their parents actions regarding this particular address. It’s a complete shame that ignorance has triumphed and caused a certain course of action by the school district to handle these individuals’ views on something as simple as a speech on education.

I vow this very moment to never, ever be this kind of parent. My future children deserve better.

Your scare tactics are lost on me.

I know that bloggers aren’t much into clicking links, but this is one I think you might need to make an exception for… This information was brought to my attention about a week ago via a Twitter friend and as “the blogger who regularly talks about gay marriage,” I clearly needed to pass it along.

Apparently there are efforts being made by the “National Organization for Marriage” to scare folks into believing marriage should remain one man and one woman. “Based on real incidents,” a variety of actors discuss the reasons why homosexual marriages would ruin their lives in a new television advertisement, and it’s my opinion that this ad campaign is utterly ridiculous.

“There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark and the winds are strong. And I am afraid.” Seriously? A storm? Do you think they even realized the comparison to something natural? Bet not.

“I am a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is okay.” …REALLY!? Well, if you’d like your child to have an education where he or she is taught that it is “wrong,” I strongly encourage you to reconsider the public school option. Clearly a more sheltered education – such as one at a private, religious-based school – is more ideal for your family.

“The storm is coming. But we have hope! … Coming together in love to protect marriage.” WHAT!?!?!?! In love? Weren’t you also taught to “treat others as you wish to be treated”? What happened to that? Where’s the “love” in hatred and inequality? Oh, that’s right, there’s none!

The site shows that this particular advertisement comes in response to the marriage equality amendments recently made in Vermont and Iowa. This campaign clearly aims to incite fear among viewers so marriage remains out of arm’s reach for homosexuals in the United States. I, for one, hope this is one force that can be stopped, which is the goal of the linked Web site.

Now, I am in no way asking or even encouraging anyone to delve into their pockets and contribute to the fund listed on that site – just making sure everyone knows that – but it’s a video I wanted everyone to see and react to so that one day, optimistically, these scare tactics will finally cease and gay marriage will prevail.

This advertisement is deplorable, and that’s putting it nicely. From day one I have realized and understood the stance many religiously inclined people took against gay marriage rights even if I 100% disagreed with them. However, campaigns such as this one are taking personal opinions farther than necessary. It’s more than a protest against equality; it’s a position fueled by hatred that outright mocks the idea of uniformity for all who seek marriage.

Without question, this ad disgusts me to the very core, and honestly, I hope you find the same reaction as you watch it. As always, comments on this issue, whether in agreement or otherwise, are welcomed and appreciated.

The divide only widens.

Warning: This post is a little, hm, heavy (that’s about the best word I had to describe it) and probably more personal than most I’ve written. Read if you wish. Skip if you wish. I just had to get it out of me…

For many, the Easter holiday marks a celebration of Jesus’ life and death. And living in the “Bible belt,” it’s obvious that this time of years carries much significance for Christians as they spend the entire week at various church services, solemnly observing their faith and the beliefs they grew up with. Prayer and family become particularly focal as they recall the sacrifices Jesus made.

And while I’m more than aware of these principles and might even take some brief period of time to recognize them, this Easter holds a certain weight that no other before it ever has.

This marks ten years since I last voluntarily stepped foot into a Catholic mass. Yep, one decade.

I was 13 years old and in eighth grade. That’s a pretty damn young age to feel as though your religious values are crumbling, but I was an intelligent child and began to see the church in a different light than I ever had beforehand. And despite my mother and grandmother’s absolute best efforts, I’ve never been able to regain that same sense of urgency I had during those formative years to attend a service even though I spent much of my childhood in those wooden pews for two hours, or more, each week.

I could sit here and speculate the plethora of reasons I turned my back on “keep holy the Sabbath,” but recalling what went through my mind ten years ago is almost as likely for me as completing a Rubik’s Cube in less than three minutes. Do I remember questioning my time spent reciting prayers with nearly 100 other followers? Sure. I also recount the moments where my particular church seemed to place more importance on money than its loyal believers. And while I’m more than certain all of these memories played a vital role in my disconnect, it baffles me even now to see how I could have pieced those together as a young teen and decided to skip Sunday masses forevermore.

My belief system remains very shaky. I see myself most often as a typical 20-something who cannot help but doubt the majority of standards other Catholics hold so dear. But I’ve never stopped believing – not knowing because truly, how can we ever undoubtedly “know”? – in a power higher than myself. I haven’t once thought that what I do on this earth doesn’t play at least some greater role than even I’m aware of. Yet those two ideals are about as far as my system of faith goes. I can’t just pick up today and be the Catholic girl I was a decade ago. My logic and personal sense of reason and judgement prevent that from ever happening.

And perhaps all of this is the reasoning behind my aggravation when others attempt to push their faith on me – which happens far too often living in the south – or my annoyance when I hear others discussing their beliefs and the importance God holds for them. Then again, maybe not. All I do know, however, is I get this strange, distant attitude toward people when I hear they are “deeply devout,” and it simply could be because I know I will never, ever be like them because of my own personal experiences and reformed relationship with Catholicism.

It was yesterday when I realized that ten years has passed since my eagerness to attend mass waned, and it’s plagued my mind a bit. I love the person I am, anti-ish church standards included, but it remains somewhat bothersome that I cannot fathom the individual I was when my religion actually mattered. And it’s a little sad that Easter means bunnies and candy rather than personal reflection and prayer. Yet maybe there’s some comfort in knowing I cannot be the only one in this world who feels that disconnect. But I wonder if only myself realized it and separated from that world at such a young age.

Ten years. Damn. I cannot believe it’s been ten fucking years. That’s a long ass time to be left fairly faithless.

Three down, 47 to go.
April 3, 2009, 11:24 am
Filed under: All you need is love, Do "yay", Too liberal for the Bible belt

Who would have thought that Iowa – a state in the heartland of America – would allow same-sex marriages before dozens and dozens of other states (and especially before California!?)? Not me, that’s for sure, but it’s clearly another huge step for gay marriage and I could not be happier about that!

Iowans…you’ve done quite well and have something to be crazy proud of today!

But a small note to Rev. Keith Ratliff, Sr. of Des Moines’ Maple Street Baptist Church: I hope you find yourself rotting in hell for your eternal life for calling homosexuality a “perversion.” Better yet, I hope you live to see the day where America as a whole not just allows, but welcomes gay marriage. It will happen. Mark my words, it will happen.

Off with her head!

Via the WordPress Dashboard, I discovered a link to Unreasonable Faith quite some time ago, but never made it a blog I regularly read. Then, a few weeks ago, it popped up on again on the dashboard with an article I just had to check out: How to Stump Anti-Abortionists With One Question.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my liberal self is very pro-choice, but that “one question” – “If abortion was illegal, what should be done with the women who have illegal abortions?” – made me think quite a bit even though there’s zero possibility of me ever believing on the most minute scale that abortion should be illegal. I’m still fairly uncertain how I’d respond and I read this blog/watched the video within nearly two weeks ago.

I recommend checking it out and, if you feel up to it, letting me know your thoughts.

Personally, I could not believe that the majority of these anti-abortionists featured within the blog’s video did not have a response when confronted with questions of punishment for illegal abortions. Perhaps that is something those who are staunchly pro-life should consider before taking a visual stand against a woman’s right to choose. In my own opinion, a religiously or morally based stance on the issue is quite understandable, but I truly think one should have a fully formed judgment on the matter and that includes potential punishment for women if abortion were to become illegal.

Fortunately, I’m fairly certain – and will remain as such – that pro-lifers will never win their argument in the court system. Or at least I’ll hope and pray (you know, when if I do) that that never occurs.

Forgiveness for sale.

Have you heard the news? If you’re Catholic and a bit sinful, you can “buy” your way into heaven at a faster rate and forego a longer period of time in the waiting room of Purgatory before your entrace beyond the pearly gates.

Indulgences have returned – check out this NYTimes article for more information because, well, indulgences aren’t too simple to explain – and apparently, the Catholic church is somewhat using them to sway the more liberal churchgoers back to confession and into the pews. So in the hopes of persuading the part-time-Catholics to return to the church, many dioceses across the country have reinstated the dispensing of indulgences for the forgiveness of sins.

In a larger-than-normal nutshell – because I’m certain you didn’t click the link – an indulgence is a means of forgiveness in the eyes of the Catholic church. Traditionally, a sinner would go to confession, explain his sins to the priest and be issued a penance, such as four “Our Father” prayers and maybe a “Hail Mary” for good measure, and lesser sins would be forgiven by the church. However, the sins still stacked up, especially the doozies like adultery and murder, when judged in Purgatory, adding toward how much time one must spend there before entering heaven. An indulgence, more or less, provides a faster track into the cloudy haven up above. Thus, for a few hours of community service or an extra fifteen prayers toward a specific saint, the sinner can receive forgiveness for his indiscretions, knocking off a few days, weeks or years from his wait in Purgatory.

To me, completing an act of kindness shouldn’t be done simply because someone wants to erase their less-than-perfect past and by the Catholic church – a church I grew up with and still deeply believe in – almost dispensing these indulgences for something in return, it’s showing that regardless of one’s actions on earth, heaven is never unattainable. And while that may be a fabulous ideal, I somewhat find it deplorable that the church would practically sell someone their way into a divine afterlife.

Yes, the dioceses involved explain that they are not seeking monetary donations for indulgences, which the Catholic church did accept centuries ago and which, furthermore, became a catalyst for the birth of Lutheranism. But accepting voluntary acts and special pilgrimages for lesser time in Purgatory sits just as badly with me as if the sinner handed a $50 bill to the priest following Sunday’s mass.

Disregarding the sale of indulgences entirely, how exactly can the Catholic church even promise potential sinners such forgiveness? How do they, as human beings just like the rest of us, truly know that a few charitable actions will shorten ones wait prior to heaven? What gives priests, bishops, cardinals and yes, even the pope, the authority to make such claims when they can know absolutely nothing of death and the afterlife that awaits? Need I even go into the scientific side of life after death and the ways in which time will be measured once we leave this planet? I think not.

It’s as if people are bargaining for their forgiveness as the church sells clemency for sinful actions without any concrete knowledge that said indulgences will have any real effect on eternity. And as someone who struggles with organized Catholicism to begin with, it’s another reason to question the entire belief system I’ve held for my 23-year existence.