Religion, Politics and The Great Pumpkin

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people… “ - Linus Van Pelt

(I may never get such a convenient opportunity to use that title again… it applies on several levels today… though, I’m actually working backwards.)

First up, my Halloween recap:

I went back to Salem… and actually had a much better time then before. Now, the stuff I said last year still applies, so I won’t repeat that. But the biggest difference was that this year… I went in costume. So not only was I “people-watching”… but I was also being watched by people.

Now, I did put some effort in to my costume. When I have the time to actually plan out in advance and make my own costume… I do pretty well. Last time I did was in 2001… I went as a tiger. To be precise… I was Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes (greatest comic strip ever). I was simultaneously cute and lovable, and scary and terrifying… exactly like Hobbes himself (just ask him). Man, I wish I kept that costume…

But this year, the concept of it was a little more simplistic… but still required a bit of advance work… and I made the extra effort this year.

So what did I go as?

Charlie Brown… and his costume from It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

When I went online looking for patterns and instructions how to make it… all I could really find was “just get an old sheet and cut a bunch of holes in it. You’re all done!”

No. Sorry… but that’s stupid. That’s what he did in the cartoon… but this is supposed to be a real-life representation of it. In the cartoon, a hole in the sheet shows a black oval. In reality, it’s a hole… that you see through, and see the face beyond. There’s no blackness involved. Plus, when you drape a sheet over yourself, there’s extra material falling where you don’t want it, and not enough material where you need it… you don’t get the simple cylindrical-shape that you get in the cartoon… because it’s a drawing.

I wanted to look like I came right out of the TV and started walking around. Sure, maybe I’m a tall Charlie Brown… but I think I did okay, all things considered. I bought a sheet and sewed it to try and get the right shape, and stitched black felt “holes” all over myself. For the eyes? I bought black mesh, folded it up and put it over the eye holes. No one could see in, but I could see out fairly easily. Yet, when it got dark, I knew it’d be even harder to see… so I’d have to eventually take it off. So, I made sure to make a yellow shirt and stitched the black scribble across the belly… for the full Charlie Brown effect.

But the part I’m probably most proud of… I had an Mp3 player with built-in speakers. I loaded the music of Vince Guaraldi on it… and when I walked around, you could hear “Linus and Lucy” (commonly known as “The Peanuts Theme”) quite clearly.

I am nothing if not dedicated.

Yet, I was incredibly surprised by the number of people that not only wanted my picture… but wanted a picture WITH me. I was stopped quite frequently by people politely asking for a photo op. It was really neat… I’ve *never* had that happen before. And when they heard the music… their smiles got so big it just made me smile, too.

Though… there were a very few select people that DIDN’T know what my costume was. A few were young kids… calling me, “That tall polka-dotted guy.” (I’m tall? Well… maybe to them.) Those I can understand… maybe they just never sat down and watched the show in their mere 10 years on earth. But I did run into an older woman who apparently thought I was the “ghost of a spotted cow”… but it clicked in when I told her. The coup de gras, however… a woman ran up to me and said, “Excuse me… I’m from Channel 4 news. What are you?”

“Uh…. Charlie Brown?”

“Oh, okay.” And then she walked away. The cameraman wasn’t pointing the camera at me or anything, so I don’t know why she bothered to tell me she was from the news… but I really wanted to say, “You don’t recognize an American Cultural Icon of Halloween for the last 50 years… and you’re job is to inform the masses????” I can understand the occasional person not figuring it out… but someone in the media shouldn’t be one of them. Am I wrong?

Anyway, like I said… I had a good time. Got a lot of pictures of other good costumes, met some nice people… even saw a guy dressed as Jeebus with a sign saying, “Judgment Day is Nigh! Show Me Your Tits and I Will Judge Them.” (Which I thought was *really* funny. I hope it pissed off the obnoxious street preachers who were constantly spouting how everyone deserves Hell. Why you gotta preach hate?)

One thing I’m surprised I *didn’t* see? More political costumes. A friend and I were remarking how we hadn’t seen any all night. I only saw one as I was walking back to my car… a guy dressed as John McCain. But that was it.

I found that surprising, as we were just 4 days away from Election at the time.

Of which… to take the opportunity of a segue…

Yes, of course I voted. I got up an extra half-hour early, left my house early so I could hit the polls before work. (I knew I wouldn’t have time afterwards) The most difficult wait was the traffic. But the voting itself? In and out in less then 5 minutes. We didn’t have the new-fangled electronic voting booths in our town. Ours was the old fashioned pen-to-paper kind. Your ballot is basically a scan-tron sheet like in school, and you blacken in the little circle for the people you’re voting for. And apparently, there are no propositions right now in my state, so we’re just voting for the people. *shrug*

Normally, I keep my voting selection private… because I am and always will be an Independent. I don’t go with the whole “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” crapola. That’s why I don’t vote in the primaries. When you enter the building, they ask you which side you want to see… and they register you AS THAT SIDE. I’m not saying I AM a Democrat… I just want to see what they have to say. I plan to do the same for the Republican side… but they don’t allow that. You’re only allowed to listen to one side in the primaries, and I’m not down with that. I want to look at one set of options and pick what I think is the best. Then look at ANOTHER set of options, pick the best one from there… then have those two choices start talking to try and convince me. They don’t let you do it that way. In the election, you can be independent… in the primaries, they have to label you. So I don’t do the Primaries.

But I did vote for Barack Obama. I think in large part because he’s more inspirational then most other candidates in the last 20+ years. And I think national esteem and identity is at a low point… and overall we NEED someone inspirational now more than ever. It’s a damn good country we have… and we want to feel good about being Americans again. I think National Identity is kind of important.

So I think that this IS a historic moment in a few ways. And not just because of the color of Barack’s skin. (Of which it’s technically false to call him the first African-American President… because he’s Bi-Racial. His mom is white, and his dad is black. Which makes him a great bridge of the two worlds, yes… but media likes to throw out buzzwords without always having the accuracy to back it up. I’m just saying.)

I’m not saying that John McCain would be a BAD leader. In fact… frankly, I think he wouldn’t be too shabby. The personality he showed at his concession speech was the same one he showed at the very beginning of his campaign… but had completely disappeared throughout the middle. Had he showed that grace in the last several months, I would have listened to him more. But I think the strategists in the Republican Party (who don’t care about policies, politics, or the best man for the job… they just care about winning) told him, “This is what you need to do to win. Now do it.” So the mudslinging started. (Hey, Obama’s camp had them, too.)

I also believe those same strategists told him to do what would become the absolute deal-breaker for me. He picked Sarah Palin as a running mate. I believe they came up to him and said, “America doesn’t want to see 2 Old White Men in the White House this time around. No matter what, the Democrats are giving them something different… so we HAVE to shake this up or we’re done for. Here, this one seems like a good puppet!”

When I first heard she was picked… I said, “Okay, let’s give her a chance. I know nothing about her, so let’s see what she’s got.” The first thing I read: She’s a staunch supporter of Abstinence-Only Education.

“I’m out!”

Yeah… because it doesn’t work. The numbers tell you it doesn’t work. The kids themselves tell you it doesn’t work. Guess what? It doesn’t work. Her own DAUGHTER is a teenage pregnancy… though, apparently that’s okay because “they’re planning to get married, anyway.” (Even though the guy’s MySpace profile clearly stated he didn’t want to get married or even have a long-term relationship with the girl. The same profile that mysteriously disappeared shortly after… Gee, who did that, I wonder?) That’s not even talking about all the OTHER things I read shortly after.

2 weeks after she was announced, I saw a book in the bookstore with her picture large and in-charge on the front… the title of the book was “Sarah: How a hockey mom turned the political establishment upside down”. Sorry, she didn’t “turn it upside-down”. It only made so much news because it was a completely nonsensical choice, that has no basis in this, or any other, plain of reality. She is not a “maverick”… no matter how often she says the damn word. I don’t care for her being a “hockey mom”… which is no slight on hockey moms. I’ve known Soccer Moms and Football Moms and many other types… but NONE of them are people I would want to place on the other side of the table… from Kim Jong Il. Or any of the other 1,000 psychos with political power in this world. (Hilary, at least, would grab them by the balls and twist… figuratively AND literally.) She has contradicted herself several times, shown ignorance and intolerance… and knowing that she might be a heartbeat away from the presidency… honestly scared me. That’s what shot McCain in the foot. If it was anyone else he picked… I would have had a harder decision.

So, I feel we dodged a bullet with this election. For that, I’m very thankful. I went to sleep Tuesday night pleased.

Woke up Wednesday, however… not-so-pleased.

When I discovered that Prop 8 in California passed. Proposition 8 is for the Ban of Gay Marriage. (Arizona and Florida passed it, too.)

I don’t care that I’m straight. I don’t care that I no longer live in California. I called that state “home” for 7 years, and many people that I love are still there… so I feel I have a vested interest in what happens out there. Finding out that several of my friends now are about to have their marriages dissolved, as if they never happened. And many more that are now told they’ll never be able to marry the person they love.

Those that know me, know that I would take bullets for my friends. But there’s nothing I can do about this. And it hurts so much, I’ve actually cried over this.

In the same 24 hour period of electing a historic president… a culmination of a movement that started with Abraham Lincoln and gained momentum with Martin Luther King Jr… as one minority group is validated, another is pushed down and is now LEGALLY considered to be second-class citizens, and not granted the basic human rights of others.

Hell, I was shocked to find that it was such a close race! (51% to 49%) I felt sure that it would be blown out of the water! But no. Why there are still people who so readily promote hate and discrimination on such a grand level… astounds me to no end.

I’ve heard their arguments… “the government doesn’t have the right to legislate the definition of marriage that’s been around for hundreds of years!” Pardon me… isn’t that EXACTLY what you’ve just done? You’ve used legislation and the political process to legally define what marriage is??? That is known as Hypocrisy.

I’ve heard their logic… “to protect the sanctity of marriage”. Okay, you’ve just opened up a can of worms… because they’re constantly using the word “sanctity”. “Sanctity” refers to something that is “Sacred”, which is a term to refer to something that is Holy or “From God”. That means you’re talking about RELIGION.

First amendment of the Constitution (correct me if I’m wrong) explicitly states that we’re allowed the “Freedom of Religion”. So what’s “Sacred” to one person isn’t so to another person… and that’s a-okay! You can’t infringe on their BASIC freedom of religion!

Wait a minute… what’s that say? Right there… look… here, at the Constitution. A little further down. What’s this, “Separation of Church and State”? Oh yeah… that means that Religion and Government have to stay as FAR away from each other as possible. One cannot dictate or influence the other.

So if marriage is a RELIGIOUS institution… then you can’t say anything, because THEIR religious beliefs allow them to marry, and we protect that with blood, sweat and history… and government can’t do anything about it.

If marriage is a LEGAL institution… then religion has absolutely nothing to do with it. Since the sole arguments against Gay Marriage is all about religion… then they have NO argument.

And if it’s both? Well, you’re doubly fucked. So take one of them and sit the fuck down. Take the other and shut the fuck up.

Proposition 8 should never have been on the ballot in the first place.

But hope remains.

There are some lawsuits already filed… trying to get this overturned. The one that I think is the most logical one has to do with “minor” and “major” changes. In California, minor changes are “amendments”, and are passed with a majority vote (51% or more). But major changes, “revisions”, have to be passed with a 2/3 majority vote.

Does taking away the civil rights of an entire demographic qualify as a “minor change”? I think not. Hopefully, the State Supreme Court of California will also see it that way. If so… then Prop 8 is 15% short, and it will be overturned!

People may have failed… but maybe Justice can still win.

So we have to remain hopeful. As hopeful as we were Tuesday night when we told the world who we wanted our new leader to be.

As hopeful as Linus, who dutifully sits every year in the most sincere Pumpkin Patch he can find… believing and hoping that The Great Pumpkin will finally arrive.

Now I’m waiting, too.