Julescosby's Blog

Archive for December, 2009

Here comes the son

Posted by julescosby on December 20, 2009

I got a nice early Christmas present this year.  My whole life it’s just been me and my Dad, and so it was a little awkward to call home and hear a strange voice on the other end of the phone.  Whereas I’m used to just barging straight into conversation, this time I stuttered to get out words never before uttered: “is…uh…Peter there?”

You see, Dad has an Egyptian houseguest currently staying with him: a professional kickboxer, trying to make his way here in North America.  Now, to hear Dad speak of Konga (not his real name, but Pops isn’t exactly the world’s best Arabic speaker), is to hear him speak of a boy with drive, ambition, goals, i.e., the exact opposite of me.

To be fair, I have no doubt that Dad is proud of my Master’s degree in political theory.  After all, who wouldn’t be proud of a son who can talk ad infinitum (or indeed drop phrases like ad infinitum into daily conversation) about justice, equality, representation, aesthetics and the like? But I’m not exactly bursting at the seams with ambition, unless you count shining shoes or bussing tables as ambitious.

Now, anyone who knows Dad knows how great of a man he is.  When I was a kid, this was irritating, because I only ever wanted to talk about, you guessed it, me, but everyone around me seemed more interested in talking about him.  Big shoes to fill, you know?

But I have to face a harsh reality: he has a new son now.  And so I find myself thrown into the cold unfeeling marketplace, looking for a new Dad to fill the void.

People who have never met Dad 1.0 always ask me what he’s like.  I usually say something to the extent of ‘well he’s a lot like me, except humble, nice, caring, etc.”.  These qualities will have no place in Dad 2.0.

The first prospective new Dad I can think of is Bill O’Reilly.  Abrasive, loud, authoritative, but still charming as hell.  He has a Master’s degree from an Ivy League school, but if graduate school has taught me anything, it’s that a monkey could get a degree in liberal arts so long as it can jump through hoops and kiss ass at the same time.

So let’s add a bit of solid intellect to the mix.  Who do I get? Plato.  Sure, he was a proto-fascist.  But he is the father of Western political thought, and even his biggest detractors cannot help but admit to his genius.  He would have told me my role, and would have expected me to conform to it.

But Plato wasn’t exactly all that approving of writing, and if you haven’t guessed by now, I would like one day to be a writer.  So next up I have William F. Buckley Jr., the intellectual voice of American conservatism for decades.  Buckley would have taught me how to be authoritative, a genius, an author, a sailor and, last but certainly not least, a socialite.  He also, like me, always had a pen in his mouth (Shut up, Freud, I’m not talking to you).

So in the end I choose Buckley.  And even when I look at his real son, Christopher, the author of Thank You for Smoking, I see an image of my future self.  A touch arrogant, sure, but suave as suave can be: with a really sharp wit and with sharper fashion taste.

Now, some will look at this list and say ‘you’ve picked all conservatives’.  Well, duh.  What do you think a father should be?

I should recapitulate.  I love my previous father and he is a great man.  I wish him and his new son all the best, and I hope that kickboxing turns out to be more lucrative than political theory.

(Incidentally, today is my father’s birthday.  Happy birthday Dad!)

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Quid pro-Homo: A holiday message to the Christian Right

Posted by julescosby on December 19, 2009

We all know that the holidays run like clockwork: first, around the end of November, the stores sweep aside (READ: send to the dump) their Halloween decorations to make way for the ubiquitous reds and greens.  Next, radio stations one-by-one switch to an all-Christmas music format, both widening and intensifying with each chocolate consumed from your advent calendar.

School ends, parties are planned, plane tickets are booked.  And somewhere in the middle of all this, a bunch of right wing zealots begin the usual harping that the secular progressives are trying to take Christmas away from them.

We live in a pluralistic society, where we are each free to chose the meaning of just about anything.  With all of the various meaning we impart to the holiday season, just about the only thing we can all agree on is that it is fundamentally about exchange.

So, in this spirit of swap I want to offer the Christian right a trade: Christmas for gay-marriage.

Ultimately, what we are talking about here in both cases is a right to eternally close the meaning of a word.  Many gay marriage activists are not happy with the ‘civil union’ compromise, the status of equal-but-still-different.  Personally, I don’t believe that saying ‘happy holidays’ negates the celebration of the birth of your lord, any more than ‘civil union’ negates the love between two people.  But this isn’t good enough for either side.  They both want the word, not the thing itself.

To Christians: marriage really shouldn’t be that valuable to you.  First of all, you didn’t invent it; it’s been around for a long time.  And even it has always been fundamentally about exchange: the property of one man being transferred to another man.  And this isn’t just in the barbarous or pagan cultures where chattel and arranged marriages prevail, even in your story God gave Eve to Adam as a wife, thus setting the universal standard for the eternal bond between a man and a women as proprietary in nature.  (Incidentally, Ontario just announced changes to be made to make divorces more streamlined and easier to get).  So what could it possibly be worth to you? It certainly should not be as valuable as the day to celebrate the birth of your Lord and Saviour.

To everyone else: let them have it.  Some would say this is appeasement, but just give them what they want.   Trust me.

Full disclosure: I speak for neither party in this dispute.  I have no horse in the race, nor cock in the fight (sorry, couldn’t resist), but in the end (dammit, did it again!), we will all be better off.  So, Christian Right, we know you find it to be an affront when others don’t say Merry Christmas.  We know you also don’t want gays to marry.  But you can’t have everything.  That’s in the Bible, right?

So, I put before you, in exchange for Christmas, which you can call it forever and ever and no one will bother you until the End Times (which will not comes as a result of this trade), you give gays not just the right to marry, with the same civil rights afforded to you by the state, but you let them have the word too.  As a consequence, you can never bitch about it again.  You’ll stop finding obscure passages from the Old Testament to say why gay marriage is the blasphemy to end all blasphemies.  You let people love each other like the son of your god, the image of the Holy Father, or one third of your Trinity, once preached.

And you let gays find out the hard way (last one, I promise) why free love was so much better than the stultifying chains of marriage.

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