Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Have Strong Opinions, and I've Decided to Air Some of Them

I've come to the firm conclusion that there's no place in this world for my politics. I am not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican either. I like to say that Sergeant Pepper and I are a party unto ourselves. But that's a lonely place to be.

Sarge and I attended an ultra-liberal liberal arts college. I mean, this place is liberal. It's so liberal that many liberals would find it too liberal. That's one of the things it's famous for. I fell in love with it because it had a gorgeous campus and a wonderful Greek and Latin program. And it was very small. But politically, it was all wrong. The student body there has a habit of political correctness, en masse, to a fault. Plus, and more egregious, very little collective sense of humor.  It's strangely and paradoxically not a tolerant group of people, and it wasn't when I was there either.

I've never towed a party line, not when I came of age and awareness politically, and not now. When I met Sarge on campus and got to know him, I was blown away by his unapologetic iconoclasm. I'm going to pause to give a definition for iconoclasm, because although we might have an idea of what it means it's good to review. An iconoclast is someone who destroys icons: one who attacks or "assertively rejects cherished beliefs and institutions or established values and practices." That was Sarge when I met him, and he's still fervently so. In a milieu (our college) where nearly everyone thought and spoke in unison about socio-political topics, and any dissent was (ironically) set upon with witch-hunt enthusiasm, Sarge spoke his own mind. And like so many I went to college with, he was absolutely brilliant, but unlike the rest of the crowd, he was a true free-thinker. I was one too, but sheepishly so. It became quickly apparent to me that Sergeant Pepper was my soul-mate romantically, but also intellectually and politically.

But it's been hard over the years. I find my neighborhood now to be similar in its politically one-sided vehemence to our college. Me, I'm a mix, incredibly liberal on certain topics near to my heart, but I'm quite conservative on others. I won't do the run-down topic by topic, because no one cares about that but me. But I've found myself again and again sitting in conversation and feeling quite alienated by the assumption that I lean a certain way politically. It's something about my appearance, or the fact that I am quite a tolerant person by and large. But let me say from experience that liberalism does not, in this age, always equal tolerance, and conservatism does not make you automatically judgmental. So, often unbeknownst to those around me, I don't always lean a particular way. And when I do speak up, if my opinion is out of step, I have to explain myself, and that makes me uncomfortable. Lively political debate is one thing; what passes for it is quite another.

You know, it's interesting, but I've found that, similarly, it's unfashionable in certain circles to believe in God, or to practice your religion.  Now, please let me say, I have no problem with  agnosticism nor even with atheism.  I'm no proselytizer (well, Jews don't really proselytize anyway, except to each other), and every person has a right to their own private spiritual journey.  I really firmly believe that.  But sometimes I find people are quite surprised to learn that I practice my religion, and even more surprised to find that I believe in God (a topic that does come up in casual conversation from time to time!). The fact that I'm Jewish seems to make my religiousity it a little more acceptable in liberal circles than if I were Christian.  I think the relative oddity of Judaism, the fact that it is out of the mainstream and its proponents are and have always been outsiders, makes it more palatable somehow.  And since I'm Reform, not Orthodox, there's no question of my being overly doctrinaire.  Still, I think it sometimes makes people uncomfortable. But I would never make anyone defend their religious beliefs; I shouldn't have to defend mine.

Well, some may believe I'm a mass of contradictions, but I'm just questioning, always questioning (hey, now that's a really Jewish value).  But it boils down to one very important thing. A. and I want to be tolerant and free-thinking, and we want to raise E. to be tolerant and free-thinking, in the very deepest sense of these attributes.  It is really that simple in the end.



WARNING, some bitter vitriole is coming up. Please skip it if you want to like me:

Now just to end on a negative note, and round out my political broadsheet, I must air my opinion on the latest sickening display of hypocrisy: Eliot Spitzer. Ech. That's my opinion. And let me say, I'm not one bit surprised; I never am. Why are people continually surprised by these things? And that Mrs. Spitzer standing next to him like the Quintessence of Wifehood, please, for the love of all that is holy, give me a break. What ever happened to a woman's right to dignity?

And here's another opinion while I'm at it: David Paterson, the Lieutenant Governor who's now going to be Governor. He's the one who kept trying to get that legislation passed, you know, he recommended that if cops neeeded to fire their weapons at a suspect, they should shoot them "in the arm or leg" just to disable them. (Okay, the legislation was more complex than that, but that's the crux of it) WHAT?! How exactly is this achieved? He obviously has no idea how police interactions, especially dangerous scenarios, play themselves out on a minute to minute basis. Nor of the impossibility in most cases of hitting an arm or a leg "just enough" to wound but not severely...oy. How freaking dangerous that legislation would have been--to police and to civilians. I know all the police groups said it before, but I'm just reminding myself of why I dislike Paterson so much. That legislation was just too asinine to bear--and he supported it year after year, just to make a statement!

Phew, I'm done for now. Wow, this was super fun. I really said some things I believe. I don't do that too often. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

23 comments:

INNER VOICES said...

way to go girl!!! say it like you mean it and more!!! right the f on!! i too find it difficult to find a party or platform worth voting for... kudos on having a stance and sticking to it. great post!!!

Robyn said...

Here...here girly! Can I get an AMEN! Yeah...something must be in that water from NY! What the hell...and I TOTALLY agree with your stance on Mrs.Shitzer (I know...its Spitzer but come on...he is such a freak'n idiot and I think she is too)standing there all sheepish. God, all I wanted to do was stand behind him and slap him in the back of that head and walk out. WOW! That would have been AWESOME if she did something like that.

Or she could have quietly not showed up! And GEESH! He has 3 daughters...HE IS SUCH A A**HOLE! Can you imagine what kind of taunting those girls are getting at their schools. I hope they throw the book at him. But he probably won't get time...like most of those F'n white collar criminals!

As you can see this is one guy that gets me fired up!

Leah! Can I just tell you that I adore you blog! I love your writing and really want to encourage you to think about writing a book! The humor and passion in each post is refreshing! Thanks for being the incrediable you!
Talk to you soon!
Hugs,
Robyn

Too Little Time said...

You Go Girl - we too have a similar *hole running the city of Detroit. He is currently up on purjury charges for lying to the Grand Jury about an affair, etc etc (include murder and unjust firing here too). His wife too is just standing by his side. But than so did Hilary (am I treading on toes here?) when Billy boy got caught.

I try very hard NOT to get political. There is too much crap to get too upset about. Carry on at any time! - Karrie

Leah said...

Inner Voices--thank you for reading through m diatribe! And for being so encouraging...although, you'll be thoroughly sorry if you encourage me too much... just kidding...or am I...

And Robyn, thank you for your compliment! And you know, I had that exact same fantasy of Mrs. Spitzer smacking the back of his head!!!! I mean exactly! And I also thought about the three girls and how horrible it must be to have to go out amongst their peers. Although, I guess it depends on where they go to school. But even if they're not getting taunted, they're still humiliated and their parents' marriage is at least totally on the rocks...

And Karrie--I know, I try never to get political. But it's funny, yesterday a reporter from the L.A. Times interviewed me on my opinions about the Spitzer thing, and it got me thinking about things in general...oh and by the way, the teapot bag is already holding a half-finished pair of socks! I LOVE it!

Leah

Leah said...

p.s. See, Inner Voices, I've been schooled!

Rima said...

Yes, we are filled with contradictions. I suppose it is something that we, who are especially involved in critical academic work, must come to terms with. I feel a lot more at peace with my contradictions now. That is the way it is.

Leah said...

Rima, it's true. You put it beautifully. That's what I strive for--to be at peace with my contradictions.

Cecile said...

Our world has always been in a constant state of chaos, but I do believe that our country had reached it's all time critical low as far as politics go. ALL politicians are crooked. (in my humble opinion.) And I'm not even sure that the American people are obtaining the correct information in order to vote for the least crooked of the crop. I share many of your views, I guess that is why we all get along so well. But religion is still something I am struggling with. Oh and your vocabulary is awsome!!!

Sarah said...

Seems like we're back in the political spotlight. Political stuff is all that makes the headlines these days. Between this latest scandal and the presidential ones. Did you see Dr. Laura blaming Mrs. Spitzer for him having the affair? I mean REALLY??? My take - keep sex and religion out of politics. If you want a prostitute, go to Pahrump, where its legal. And because you believe that its a sin, doesn't mean we can have a law against it when its a medical procedure or a research method that could save lives. I'm a Catholic, although with my politic stance, I'm certainly an excommunicated one.

I'm all for raising open minded free thinkers - Its actually worked in reverse in my family as my education and exposure has made my parents more open minded and free thinking. Keep us posted on your thoughts as the election continues, and as we get a governor who seems like he's going to be worse than the breaking of what I view as a silly law.

CSI Seattle said...

Ah man...I got some bitter vitriole all over my shoe!

I'll be back with my unique perspective of the world shortly. Have to give this some thought.

Brian

CSI Seattle said...

Okay, I’m back.

I was actually a bit exhausted after my first read-though of this post. You seemed to have covered quit a bit of ground here. It reminds me of the bumper sticker, “Nuke a Gay Whale for Christ”.

Your post is distinctly two parts. On the first half, I will simply say that I like it. I tend not to comment too much on politics and religion since it’s difficult to actually prove their existence. Now, UFOs? That I’ll talk about all day long.

Okay, that was weird…

On the second half; now that I can comment on. I was totally surprised and then totally not surprised about the Spitzer situation. One side of me asks, “How can a man risk, and ultimately throw away so much?” Then, after thinking about my work as a sexual assault detective for many years, I recalled that some men would throw away everything they had just to stick it where it didn’t belong (excuse me for that..).

As for his wife and children; I think that there is a huge amount of damage control going on, including pressure for his wife to “stand by her man”. Give it a few days. She will be on down the road, and within a few months, we will see her on Dateline talking about this whole mess and the damage that has been done.

I don’t know much about Paterson, and was not aware about his proposed “shoot em’ in the kneecap” legislation. Your follow-up to that silliness was well said. I have given numerous talks to citizen groups and have had the “just shoot the gun out of his hand” argument brought up numerous times. The common theme of anyone who thinks this is possible is that they have very little knowledge of guns, shooting, shooting on the move, stress, split second decisions, or police tactics.

By the way, despite all the vitriole you flung everywhere, has anyone told you that you look cute when you’re angry?

Leah said...

Cecile, I do share some of your cynicism. In fact, I've realized lately just how cynical I really am--I question all information we're given. But actually, I guess you could look at that as critical thinking rather than cynicism. So let's call it that instead! Just like Rima said....now my vocabulary. Yes, I love words, just like we all do, I guess. It's funny, but in this technological world, through blogging, we've all gone back to words. Wordy words! I think it's really neat.

Sarah, that Dr. Laura, OMG what a witch...I wish these ladies would just stay home and NOT lend their support to these wretched men... there was an interesting op ed in the Times by Jim McGreevey's wife--she basically said the same thing! Although she hedged a bit...and I found it really interesting what you said about your parents becoming more open to things as you brought these things to them...that's great!

CSI--hey there feller! First I laughed out loud--yup, it's certainly difficult to prove the existence of religion and politics...but on a more serious note, I can't tell you how many times, when I was teaching criminal justice to college students (back in the day, well not so long ago really) I had to field the question, "why can't the cops just shoot to disable the guy?" I had to calmly explain all the dynamics of these situations as well as the concept of a gun and what one can and can't do with it in a moment of crisis....anyway, you know the drill. But it would get so frustrating, dealing with this lack of knowledge and imagination. Actually, those classes were very challenging. Not the least reason was that there was always a mix of police and corrections officers and young civilians who were sometimes very confrontational on certain topics. The cops always admirably kept their cool, but it put me in an interesting position as a professor, having to keep a balance as well as my own cool...well, maybe I'll write more about this in a post...

INNER VOICES said...

wow! everyones comment were so well thought out and wordy... i try not to give to much of my opinion. keeps me out of trouble mostly, and all of you fooled at the same time! ha ha ha... but i'll put it all to you this way...


does anything that happens in this coutry surprise you anymore? do you even have the ability to be shocked at something? why is it all water off the ducks back nowa-a-days...

status "snafu"....

wow another family killed by their mother, another political suicide, wow more bombing in iraq? hey we are breeding more stupid people?!?! cancer risks are up...

does any of that truely affect us any more. of course when it happens to us or someone we know, but in general, all these "important" news items and media hype is just that. hype.
we go home, do our chores, save for the future and find a sparkle of happiness where we can and none of all thats happening around us truely matters... its the american way... walking through life with blinders on... our own individuality and personal space has given us the ability to detach and not care...
see this is why i keep my mouth shut... never mind.

Leah said...

Inner Voices--I guess at some level we're both unwilling hard-boiled cynics. I have yet another take on the media hype stuff--which is that people actually enjoy it--even the really gruesome awful tragic stuff--I mean when it happens to someone else--I don't exempt myself from it, it's just human nature, our id going unchecked by the superego...but, yeah, the detachment of the individual is both self-preservation and a little depressingly isolationist...

oops, I didn't mean to go on and on again. But I liked hearing your opinion. I actually don't give mine too often either, not on the tricky stuff anyway...

INNER VOICES said...

"americas favorite pastime" rubbernecking at the scene of an accident.
ive personaly watched people get out of their cars and snap photos of people being put into body bags... (we have a huge amount of fatal accidents here on scenic highway one.)so i agree, people/masses of this country feed off it. but it doesnt bother them. whats the stats i heard the other day, something along the lines of the average eight year old who watches television witnesses over 60, 000 murders on t.v. by the time they hit that age?!?! wtf? wonder why it doesnt affect us anymore...

hey, have a good day! thanks for the commentsie backsie.

Cecile said...

Oh boy, I so totally agree that Americans love to hear bad news. And the media loves to keep it stired up. It's like one great big boiling shit pot. Bubbling over with grossness. It is so disgusting. I hardly ever watch or read the news anymore. I think our country has fallen so far from grace that we may never climb back ontop of that collossal mountain. I mean we don't even buy anything that we make anymore. It all comes from Japan or China, or Thiland, or the some place far, far, away. I really do think it is sad. And I.V. don't even get me started on those lord forsaken rubberneckers. It can be on the absolute opposite side of the freeway and people on your side will still slow down to take a look. Sometimes I just wish the cops would shut off the blue lights because they cause more of a distraction than anything else. Anyway, I will stop ranting now.
How was your day today, Leah? I hope it was wonderful.

Leah said...

Right, I.V., people enjoy the "rubbernecking" but it doesn't reach them on some deeper level. I find that I'm definitely hardened to things myself. But just think, it's been like this at least at some level as long as there has been society--I always think of the public hangings and beheadings of yore...

Leah said...

Hi Cecile--"bubbling over with grossness." Yes. Really. That sums it up.

And I did have a good day, thanks. I hope your job is going along well!

Robyn said...

Well...well...well, Leah! I came to bring you a treat and find this 'traffic jam'! WOW...who knew! You all ROCK in my book. You all hit 'it' right on the head! *placing girlscout cookies on kitchen counter*

Such profound thoughts here...and that I.V., well wonders never cease. Leah...I just think your fab and love your THOUGHT provoking posts. I love when you bring the rant out of us all! LMAO!
Love ya!
Robyn

Suzanne said...

Holy Shit (honey, is that a "big word?"), I don't even know where to start. Okay, let's start in the basement of my NY home when I was about 7 and looking at a girlie calendar! (Leah, your comment was the best that day!!! I'll never forget it, and thank you. I love you for that one!)

Okay, I'm not going to say much. Yes I know everyone's down on their knees thanking the lord! But I will say this about that. I said to Brian, the day poor Ms. E.S. stood next to that asshole and looked all humble and sorry. She went to Harvard for God sakes! How can you be that stupid? Would I have done that if Rob had humiliated me? Nope. But for some reason, political wives do the stupid dance. Why? I don't know. It's not like she can't leave him and get a job! Why do women think they have to do stupid stuff? I wanted to kick him clear off the stage, but I also wanted to smack her into reality. God, I felt so frustrated and still do.

He's a moron and yes, I agree with everyone. Totally predictable. What's new? Unfortunately, unlike most of you, I see and feel things on a level unheard of in man or womankind. Why? Who knows. I just can't imagine going through life with blinders on. So, unfortunately I don't. Why else would I be writing about ferals and homeless people? No, I don't watch or read a lot of news lately, simply as a protective mechanism, but it all seeps in somehow. It's pathetic. I thought about going off into the woods like Thoreau, but everyone would follow me, so technically, it wouldn't be a vacation or a retreat.

Okay, I'll stop, but you know I could keep going. It was wonderful to see I.V. open up. The man's a gem, but also a complete, hummmmmmm, can't quite come up with the word. Perhaps you can "Woman of many."

Oh, almost forgot. Cops. God, don't get me started. Love them, hate them. Rob does criminal appellate work, so you know we see lots and lots of crooked cops and our dear, dear friend is the head of Internal Affairs in New Jersey, so we hear all the best stories. Rob said "You're not allowed to mention his name." (Some times he's so bossy, but I can always get a real job if I need to!) The shooting to disable is insane because it takes into consideration absolutely nothing! Good luck with your new Governor. Sometimes you just want to find a brick wall and pound your head against it.

Love you dear. Absolutely great post and the comments, amazing.

XO

(Not-So) Cynical Gal said...

Here in Chicago, where it is an enclave of confusing liberalism and politic-ing...I sit and read and really loved your post today.

I might have to craft a little more than here's what I made and here's what Gracie did...still searching for my blog voice so to speak he he he.

Thank you for posting today's writing!

Leah said...

Suzanne,

You are definitely not a cynic, truly not. And that's a good thing. I think I used to feel things more deeply than I do now. I'm not sure what has happened in the last decade or so to make me that was... And yes, I wanted to smack both of them.

(Not so) Cynical Gal, I like reading about Gracie and what you've made! But I know what you mean about finding the blogging voice. I've just decided to let my blog freak flag fly and go anywhere the wind takes me with each entry...it's fun that way...

Hey, Robyn, thanks for the Girl Scout Cookies!! We already ate 'em all up!

Suzanne said...

Hey you. Thanks for the comment on my blog. It's been a rough day and you made it better. If you want to know what happened go over to Brian's Cafe. How the hell did he get a cafe?

I'll tell you a funny story. This day was horrid. Absolutely horrid. I stopped in at the market before coming home and two women were in front of me. A mom and her daughter. Looked like they'd just walk out of a very upscale Jewish delacatessen in NYC. For some reason I said "Honey, are you from NY?" She laughed and said, "No, but you can't believe how many people ask me that very question." Oh my God we laughed and her mom laughed and we talked about NY (they go there alot), Woodstock (they know it well), etc. I said "Are you Jewish?" They roared with laughter. The daughter said "Are you blind?!...We're Jewish New Yorkers who have lived our entire lives in the Bay Area." Oh my God. Too funny. We talked about being at Berkeley, San Francisco, being Jewish (I'm not!), you know, all the stuff that matters. And then they paid the bill and it was time to go. When ever I meet someone I know I will never meet again, I always say "Have a beautiful life." But before I could say it to her, she said it to me. It was the most brilliant thing that happened today. It made all the bad stuff just sort of go away. She's having a baby in about 6 weeks and I think that is a very lucky baby.

XO