Friday, March 17, 2006

Chef Cooks Others but Can't Take the Heat

Isaac Hayes has quit South Park because of the show's "intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs." I wonder if he means the countless times the show has slammed Christianity, Catholicism, Judiasm, Mormonism, and the person of Jesus in its nine years on the air, or if he's referring to their recent diss of Scientology, which he practices. Hayes, aka Chef, says "there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins."

I like what SP co-creator Trey Parker had to say about it: "Past episodes of South Park have skewered Catholics, Jews and Mormons, among others. [We] never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

...Or maybe Hayes didn't quit and all the nastiness was published as a part of a Scientologist conspiracy. I hope you at least watched the episode. Stay tuned for my upcoming expose of Masonic handshakes...

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Big One

Well, it looks like it's finally going to happen. Many have been hoping for it and praying for it for years. Some have prayed that it wouldn't. It is a renewed battle over abortion in this country.

The stars began to align not too long ago, with the retirement of two supreme court justices and the appointment of two replacements who seem conservative enough to think about overturning Roe v. Wade. Roe was at the heart of the debate over both candidates, and a particularly bitter battle was fought over the confirmation of Samuel Alito, who once wrote the minority opinion favoring mandatory notification of the father of a potentially aborted fetus.

Wasting no time, the South Dakota House passed a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions in that state, and its Senate quickly followed. Almost immediately, Mississippi's House passed a similar bill. And on March 6, the governor of South Dakota signed their bill into law.

OK, pro-lifers, where do you/we go from here? Assuming the S. Dakota and Mississippi laws are challenged all the way to the Supremes, and the neo-conservative court overturns Roe, what then? We have to ask ourselves some tough questions.

Most importantly, What's going to happen to all those newborns? Adoption (the loving option)? That will help, but it won't solve the problem. Over one million couples wait to adopt every year in this country, but the number of abortions supercedes by as many as 300,000. And that assumes that every couple that wants to adopt is eligible--financially, ethically--to legally adopt the child. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that all the fathers of those unaborted children rescind their parental rights (as unlikely as that may be)
that 80% of those couples are eligible; that leaves 500,000 helpless, unwanted human beings brought into the world.

What kinds of situations would these children be forced into? According to the Guttmacher Institute, women "with incomes below 200% of poverty made up 30% of all women of reproductive age, but accounted for 57% of all women having abortions." This poses a problem. If eligible couples adopt without regard for the economic situations of the biological parents, 285,000 children would be born into poverty. How likely are the children to succeed in life if they are born into the slums of Chicago's south side, Oak Cliff, Atlanta, etc? How will they eat? How will they attend school? The welfare system is already overstretched. Perhaps more importantly, how likely are these children of disadvantaged women to be the victims of abuse?

I ask because not only is the government ill prepared to handle the potential influx of economy-draining infants, the right and the Church are completely and utterly unprepared to do anything about the situation. Most conservatives would not support government handouts for these new mothers, and this Republican-controlled congress would therefore most likely kill any bill that would further stretch the Fed's dollar for welfare "handouts." The impetus would then fall on non-profits and churches. How many of them are financially and logistically prepared to undertake a project of such massive proportions, of caring for 300,000 newborns? I submit to you, none, or so few that their impact would be unnoticed. If neither the goverment nor the church can care for these children, what kind of public support will there be for an abortion ban? Surely, these malnourished, uneducated, emotionally, physically, and sexually abused children would have been better off never having been brought into the world to begin with. Which is the greater evil--to end a dead-end life painlessly before it is even cognizant, or to bring it into the world to humiliate, torture, and rob it of its dignity? The good citizens of these United States will not stand for the mass abuse of hundreds of thousands additional innocent children.

Secondly, you/we, the pro-life camp, need to agree on when life really does begin. Does it begin at fertilization, or does it begin at implantation? I ask because there exists an alternative to invasive abortion, one which could solve the abortion debate, that begs an answer. Plan B, or emergency contraception, can be taken within three days of unprotected sex to prevent a pregnancy. It differs from the controversial RU-486 in that it will not work if a woman is already pregnant. Plan B prevents fertilization or implantation, and it is impossible to control which. Bottom line: a zygote will not survive if it is not implanted in the uterus. Do we defend all human cell integration, or do we draw the line at viable embryos, ones that have a chance of surviving, ones that will certainly develop into a unique human life? A delineation of "human life" (that which contains human DNA) and "unique human life" (that which can and will develop into a unique human being) speaks to other issues as well, e.g. stem-cell research and medicine.

The lawmakers in South Dakota thought Plan B had some merit, and included a clause permitting its use in Section 3: "Nothing in section 2 of this Act may be construed to prohibit the sale, use, prescription, or administration of a contraceptive measure, drug or chemical, if it is administered prior to the time when a pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical testing." I quote Slate's William Saletan: "Look at that language carefully. It doesn't just say you can take a contraceptive drug before sex. It says you can take such a drug after sex, as long as it's before conventional tests can detect a pregnancy."

Pro-lifers, now is the time to get your act together. Want to outlaw abortion? Great--come up with a plan to care for the lives that you defend; no mere Modest Proposal will do. We can say life begins at fertilization, implantation, or sometime in the third trimester (as the law currently reads); nobody's going to listen to anything else. If at fertilization, then writing a provision for Plan B is construing, in ever so small a way, a right to murder a select group of human beings: those who are unfortunate enough to be the product of rape. If at implantation, then we need to fight for contraception, including emergency contraception, to be distributed on-demand and at low- or no-cost. We must be prepared not only to fight, but to win, and to sacrifice our tax dollars, charitable contributions, and volunteer hours to deal with the consequences if we do. The majority of Americans believe that abortion is immoral, but even so most believe it should still be legal. Outlawing abortion will be an uphill battle, and a house divided against itself--believing one thing morally and legislating another--cannot stand.

Patterns in the Socioeconomic Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions in 2000-2001, the Guttmacher Institute. Abortion Statistics

Take the Fifth, The Road from Roe, Slate


Peep This Crunkness Wit' a Quickness

Check out the choppers on Oscar-winner Juicy J, who won Best Original Song for "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp."

Now that's what I call Teef!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Walk Like a Cowboy

I stopped buying blue jeans when I was 16 years old. I was done with them. I didn't need 'em.

Growing up, I had worn many pairs of denim pants. The seed of my disdain for them was planted early on. One of my earliest childhood memories is of shopping for jeans at the 1/2 Price Store. My mom made me try on several pairs. The ones I liked were "too long in the crotch" for Mom's taste, and the ones she liked were unbearably stiff and rough. "They'll break in after I wash them," she promised. Yeah, right. I guess they must have, but over the years, both conceptually and practically, jeans never got any more comfortable.

They never got any more cool-looking, either. As I became more fashion-conscious, I became more and more at-odds with those who provided my jeans. "Stylistic differences" led to my not wearing jeans baggy enough to meet my cool quota. Crotch-length (or "rise" as it is called in the industrty) was always an issue; to this day I'm not sure why. I was stuck with skinny, low-rise jeans when the rest of the civilized world was wearing baggy, comfortable-looking pants. By my 16th birthday, I had rebelled.

I walked away from jeans at that age. The pockets were much too small for my hands and keys. They were always exposing the waistband of my BVDs when I sat. The bottoms of the legs never fit over my shoes--cuffs that rest above one's hightops and not around them is the mark of a true dork, and as a homeschooler, I was already handicapped in the dork department and didn't need any help from stupid pants. And khakis were so much more comfortable! Those were some pants that fit my style (I was going for sport-prep/Asian/skateboarder in high school). I got a lot of questions about why I didn't wear 'em, and, eventually, a lot of crap from the likes of Caitlin O'Hannon and other jeans-enthusiasts, too.

Then one day my then-girlfriend complimented one of my guy friends on some jeans he was wearing. I noticed 'em, too. They did look kinda good, in their own way. This got me thinking, and opened my mind to the Possibility of Jeans. Months later, I found a pair of clearance-rack Gap jeans that fit, were in the "authentic" style (which is really faux-authentic), were "relaxed" fit, not low-rise (in your face, Mom!), and had deep pockets, all for $20. I decided to give 'em a try. I must confess, I liked 'em.

Now I can't stop buying those darn blue pants. I'm on my third pair, and things have really come full-circle. The last ones I bought were low-rise, and the least-baggy trou I've worn in years. I hate to admit it, but they're probably the coolest pants I own. My khakis are becoming obsolete. Why did I wait so long to return to pants that fit well like this? Why did I give 'em up in the first place?

I feel like a cowboy when I walk. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, ropin'n'ridin', tobacco spit, belt buckles and purdy ladies. I should have boots for this.