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So Who Gets to Decide What's "Moral"?
by Pat Carbonell
On a personal note:
Anyway, this craft fair has been running for over 25 years. It is the premier show in the region. I should have made several hundred dollars in sales... I made $88. Four hours into the second day, with no sales, I called my kid. She listened while I sniffled, and then we talked about whether or not I should take down my sign. My business name is "The Witch's Broom Closet". I had watched a whole bunch of people walk by, pause, read the sign and move on without bothering to look at my jewelry, with that pinched look I've come to recognize as disapproval.
Yes, I am convinced that it is important to not hide... but it's also important to pay the rent. I took down my sign. I was not happy about it, but I did it. What sales I had that day were all after the sign came down. At least I made enough for the laundromat today.
So I have one more craft fair this season. I've been playing around for awhile with the idea of registering a tradename just for the jewelry design, and I'm going to go ahead with that. The new sign will read "Phoenix Rising Jewelry Designs". I'll leave my essential oils products labeled as they are, but I won't put the name on the sign.
And yes, this feels like a major cop-out and a betrayal of self... but I've got to do what I can to take care of my family, and I've been out of work for four months. Life sucks sometimes.
So who gets to decide what's "moral"? The people with the money and the power, every time, in every society. Is it right? Hell no!
Our founding fathers were not a bunch of holier-than-thou Christians. Yes, they attended church, some on a regular basis. A couple of the men in the Continental Congress were ministers. But they recognized the danger of a state religion and banned it in the Constitution. They wanted to found a land of religious freedom, whose laws would be based on common sense. Good grief, Ben Franklin was a vigorous old man with multiple bastards on both sides of the Atlantic! When the Revolutionary War broke out, one of them was the Royal Governor of New Jersey. These men were not exactly candidates for the 700 Club... and they would probably scream their heads off at the way the Christian politicians of today claim that they would approve of the Religious Right's agenda... an agenda unfortunately embraced by the Grand Old Party, because it comes with many many voters (power) and lots of money.
And think, the phrase "under God" wasn't in the Pledge of Allegiance until the Eisenhower era; it was added to distinguish us from the godless Communists. Used to be "One nation, with liberty and justice for all".
Okay, so here's one of my biggest beefs with the whole "America as a Christian Nation": homophobia.
In the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, it's pretty explicit that men fucking men is a major no-no - as in one of those laws that could get you dead for breaking it. Now, it really helps to put the Book of Leviticus in its historical context (something I learned from a nun at that Catholic college): this was the collection of laws that were passed out by the priestly class to get that unruly mob of refugees across the desert in one piece. They were a relatively small collection of tribes that were trying to survive. When you remember that, some of the laws make a lot of sense. Bury the dead within 24 hours (before they start to bloat); don't eat pork (because they didn't know how to avoid trichinosis); don't screw another man (because you can't make babies that way to increase the tribe)... and then you can also see which ones don't make any sense at all any more.
Approximately 10% of the human race is born gay. Homosexual pair-bonding occurs in the animal kingdom, too, so it can't really be said to be "unnatural", can it? But because it was outlawed several thousand years ago by a handful of tribal people in Palestine, there are millions of people today who think it's "against God's will".
Do any of you remember when AIDS was first making itself known in America? Unfortunately, it first appeared in the gay community, so a whole lot of generous, caring, compassionate Christians decided that it was God's punishment on gays. Shit, there are still some today who think that, in spite of the fact that it's a heterosexual disease in Africa and Asia. But it took a long time for our government to get behind AIDS research and health care... and they're still real schizoid about it. Condoms are a front-line defense against contracting HIV, but our government has a real problem with funding free condoms here at home or even overseas.
Remember all the flak about the Boy Scouts and gay scout masters? Remember seeing news reports about teachers being outed and fired? All because people were afraid that they would prey on the children in their care? Fun fact for the day: over 90% of convicted pedophiles are heterosexual.
Is the gay "lifestyle" a warped one? Which one? The committed couple who both work, own a house, pay taxes, raise their kids, go to PTA meetings lifestyle? The quiet and reserved librarian with a "housemate" lifestyle? Or the bath-house/porn-house slut lifestyle? Oh, that one! Yeah, it's pretty warped. About as warped as six-nights-a-week barhopping, cruising for a one-night-stand, and waking up to "where am I and who the hell are you?"... Been there, done that, and I'm straight.
So the hot-button issue being pushed in tight congressional races this past year was (ta-dah!): gay marriage.
Why can't same-sex couples have the right to enter into a civil contract of marriage just like hetero couples? If a particular church doesn't want to bless and celebrate them, fine. That's their loss. But what the government is supposed to be concerned with is just the legal, civil contract. Who cares what genders are involved - we don't care about genders for any other type of contract. Oh, that's right, they don't involve sex and kids.
Sex. What happens between two consenting adults is their business, not mine, and not the government's. The government should be concerned about sex when there's no consent, and when the participants are not all adults. Then we're talking crimes (or Rep. Foley's Internet chats).
Kids. There is no truth to the rumors that being raised in a gay household will make a kid gay - just doesn't happen that way, sorry, you're blowing it out your ass on that one. Gay couples with children have been statistically shown to be more educated and better situated financially than your average American hetero parents - after all, they have to go through more shit to either adopt or have children then Billy Joe and Sue Ellen who forgot the condom in the back seat of the Chevy.
So I really have major objections when the elected officials of my country feel that it is not only okay but mandatory that they pass laws based on ONE FAITH'S morality! My faith doesn't have anything against gay marriage. Why should I and mine have to have that option closed to us? It doesn't harm society...
Remember the Wiccan Rede: An it do no harm, do what ye will.
Next Installment: Building an Ethical System on the Wiccan Rede
Pat does no harm and is only here to help.
GREAT fucking article. Nice job Pam. I'd say something, but it would just be a repeat of what you said and probably not worded as well.
Posted by: Uberchief | December 7, 2006 8:42 AM
great article pat
psst..it's pat, uberchief
Posted by: turtle | December 7, 2006 9:33 AM
Im a idiot.
Great article, Pat.
Posted by: Uberchief | December 7, 2006 9:43 AM
you aren't an idiot
just our special little guy
Posted by: turtle | December 7, 2006 9:47 AM
Just give me my activities helmet and I'm ready to go.
Posted by: Uberchief | December 7, 2006 10:19 AM
Nice one Pat!
Posted by: Dan | December 7, 2006 11:55 AM
Hey guys, thanks! Uberchief, "Pam" is a whole lot better than a few other things I've been called in my life! *very big grin* So, what's an activities helmet? It's not one of those hardhats with beer cans, is it?
Posted by: Pat | December 7, 2006 3:42 PM
Something like this.
Great column, Pat.
Posted by: michele | December 7, 2006 3:48 PM
hahahahahaha! Ahhhh *Wipes tear from eye* that's too funny.
Posted by: Matthew | December 7, 2006 4:19 PM
the rede is nice and all, but i've always been more of a fan of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" and many of my fellow pagan friends look down their nose at me because i don't do the happy goddess thing. In fact, i've found that a lot of people in the pagan community are just as obnoxious as many people in the Christian right. No one owns that whole mess, that's for sure.
Posted by: pril | December 7, 2006 8:08 PM
I love that you did the research and made very valid points. I am also Wiccan. Although I am way out of the broom closet, I'm not in your face type. I believe in live and let live. As long as everyone respects each other's differences and rejoins the common ground. We can all live together in peace.
Posted by: Theresa Chaze | December 8, 2006 1:10 PM
Theresa, in all reality, I am very much a live and let live type of person. We have three midwinter celebrations at my house: one party for all my adopted kids, one Wiccan Yule for my Wiccan friends and family, and the mellow family day on Christmas for my mom, who is still very much a Lutheran. It's all good.
Posted by: Pat | December 10, 2006 10:35 AM