Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Good for a Laugh

This is the kind of skit I fast forward through SNL for. Hang in through the ad at the start (consider it your contribution to helping the economy). Dwayne Johnson (aka "The Rock") does a great job!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Coming Out

Ha! Couldn't resist the title after my last post. 

But really, I'm just changing my blog name from Mel (my initials) to Margy, my real first name (pronounced with a hard "g" in case you don't know me personally). 

I suppose I originally came up with Mel to have just the slightest bit of anonymity. But then I call my husband, son and other people by their first names on my blog, so how fair is that?

Even though I've been blogging under the name Mel for several years, it's never really grown on me.

So hi, my name is Margy!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Digging Deep

[Cartoon by Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune. Buttars is one of our infamous state senators who has been thrust into the national spotlight more than once. Side note: I've been a Pat Bagley fan for many years. He also illustrates children's books and we included one of his pieces in the Springville Museum of Art exhibition I put together last fall.] 

I'm trying something new this semester in the Utah Valley University writing class I teach. We've selected a group topic that we will dig into as we explore various aspects of doing research, evaluating rhetoric, etc. 

My students came up with a dozen or so topics and ultimately voted on the separation of church and state. Gay marriage was a very close second, so from time to time we've gotten into the areas where the two topics overlap. 

This past Friday I had my students summarize and respond to an editorial in the New York Times proposing a possible compromise on the issue of same sex marriage that would address the key issues of civil rights for same sex couples on the one hand and protection of religious conscience and practice on the other. It's an intriguing idea that could buy us some time to dig deeper into the issue of "redefining" marriage.

It's been painfully interesting to be here in Utah and to be a member of the LDS church with all of the fallout from California's Proposition 8 and, most recently, with the limelight on Senator Buttars and his comments about gays being a bigger threat to the U.S. than Muslim terrorists.

I know where I personally stand on the issue of same sex marriage as a matter of public policy and civil law. I also know that at the end of the day my church leaders (at least the ones at the top) would support me and my conscience. 

The painful part for me lies in the tangled web of misunderstanding, hurt, anger and fear and knowing that people I dearly love fall at opposite ends of the political spectrum on this issue. Ironically, I'm at risk of being labeled both a heretic and a mindless sheep, but in my mind I am neither. It's a surreal place to exist. Especially when my opinions are rooted in the ideas of freedom and love for my fellow beings, something that paradoxically we pretty much all value.

Seeing the issue through the lens of a college writing class has equipped me with some tools to at least begin to sort through the mess. For example, a few weeks ago we talked about the importance of understanding the assumptions we bring to the table. 

Here's just one example:

One of the assumptions many proponents of Prop 8 made was that same sex couples in California already have all of the rights and protections that married heterosexual couples have. This idea was reinforced by a widely circulated youtube video. Just over two minutes in the narrator says, "if this isn't about rights and equality, what is it about?"

But opponents of Prop 8 were pretty clear in their understanding that at best same sex couples only have some of the rights, protections and benefits afforded married couples, and that they have to jump through multiple legal hoops to ensure them. They were pretty clear that the debate was all about rights and equality.

If we fail to dig deep and see the complexity in issues like this, we are bound to reduce our views to sound bites like "hate" and "tyranny of the minority."

And what good does that do? We just end up digging ourselves into a hole.