Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A little dignity, please?

I understand the purpose of the exercise. The teachers in question were hoping to help straight students better understand and accept their homosexual counterparts. It's a noble gesture, and a kind thought. I have issues with whether or not one can "educate" or "enlighten" by subjecting students to what can only be classified as sexual harrassment. But other, better blogs have dealt with that aspect of the story. I prefer to deal with this one:

Asking people very personal, intimate questions, is RUDE.

We used to know this. You would no more ask someone how they know they liked guy bits, than you would ask a lady how much she weighs. At one time, there were limits on what was socially acceptable. The discussion of deeply personal, private affairs, was limited to ones mate, and the closest, most intimate friendships in ones life. A new bride might discuss her wedding night with her best friend, her husband, and in rare instances, maybe her mother. The only quizzes on the subject might be filled out furtively in the pages of a Cosmo magazine.

But she'd be unlikely to discuss the matter in a public, classroom forum, with her teachers and her classmates. Even today, such raw, personal frankness is unlikely to be warranted amongst certain levels of society. I did not grow up particularly well-off, nor did I grow up in a ghetto. But no one I grew up with would have ever had a friendly chat about their sexual predilections in a high school classroom. It was not done.

Of course, most of us would never have felt the need to march down Main street in a purple thong, groping our significant other, either. Most of us do not need to identify ourselves by our sexual history and choice of partners. Ones worth and value is predicated upon more concrete things- family, religious affiliation, community ties, employment capacity, and the magnitude of one's own character. But across the board, a certain segment of humanity now revels in matters once too ugly to discuss in polite society. It's an entire substrata of our culture. One afternoon watching daytime talk shows is enough to illustrate this; indeed you can turn on Maury Povich and see scores of women shamelessly declaring that they've bedded so many men they can't account for the parentage of their children. You can take a seat on a park bench in any town and overhear the coarsest of language coming out of adolescent mouths. You can spend an afternoon in your county courthouse and see no end of men being charged for making unsupported babies with women they never had any intent to marry. And even nice people, decent people- who would never discuss their own sex life in public- will speak frankly about birth control, venereal disease, and the lewd sexuality of others. Their own pecadilloes need never see the light of day, but their eyes glint enthusiastically speculating about celebrity bastards and Who Might Have Died From Aids.

We as a society have lost all sense of decorum. We need to rediscover the virtue of personal dignity, to stop poking our noses into everyone else's business, and to stop airing dirty linen in public- our own dirty linen, and anyone else's. Who you sleep with and why, should be of interest to only yourself, and your lover. Everyone else's concern about it can only be prurient, and demeaning.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

With apologies to Mr. Frost

I have simply GOT to make a point of posting more frequently in this thing. I have this niggling fear at the back of my mind that one day, I'll go to put something up and find that the gods of the internet have repossessed my blogspace for inactivity. I'll find one of those "your domain here" sites, or perhaps some hideous porn with small rodents or somesuch.

But I did have a point when I sat down today, I'm certain I did. Ah, yes. There it is- wandering the outer fringes of the Ornithophobe's head, like some nasty bird looking for an inconvenient place to spatter a windshield. You know, for all that I support gun rights wholeheartedly- I'm scared to death of them, wouldn't want one in my control. Perhaps that's because I suspect I'd go off half-cocked (excuse the expression) one morning and blow away some obnoxious little songbird that doesn't respect that SOME people have nocturnal schedules.

But I digress. What I wanted to talk about today, is the border problem. Depending on where you live (or what side of the political fence you sit) they are "illegal aliens" or "undocumented workers" or even "Jose', my pool guy, and Senora Sanchez my babysitter." No, actually, make that "Senora Sanchez, my nanny." Babysitters tend to be employed by people who can't afford to hire pool guys, I think. And their names tend to be things like Brittany, Staci, or Beth.

Many years ago I worked as a babysitter/nanny for a wealthy couple. Both parents were veterinarians, one of whom worked exclusively with thoroughbred racehorses. My days were spent in laundry, cooking, dishwashing, and games of "got your nosey!" with two small children. I sometimes worked twelve hour days, six days a week, without overtime pay, for less than minimum wage. I did so for cash, off the books, without paying into any federal programs.

I was a teenager. I had all the time in the world, and it was good money for someone with no skills beyond playing with babies.

Don't tell me that illegals are taking jobs American citizens won't do, because I've done more than one of them.

"Something there is, that doesn't love a wall." I think it's inside of us all, this unsettled feeling about walling things out, and walling things in. It makes us uneasy. Nobody likes the ugliness of a fence, no one likes saying "you stay on your side and I'll keep to mine." No, we're a gregarious society, contentious and involved and sometimes downright nosey. Everyone wants to know everbody else's business, and at the heart of it all, no one wants to feel alone. We like to think we're "social" and "sociable," a nation of warmhearted, welcoming people. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. "

But the wretched refuse is getting three deep in parts of this country. And make no mistake, some of it IS refuse. I speak not of honest, hardworking, decent people who come here to become citizens in the legal fashion. I speak of the gang members, the bums, the criminals, and the like: those who could never hope to get in by legal methods. And our ability to take care of our own is threatened by these people and their get. California hospitals spent 500 million providing emergency care to illegals last year. The federal government only kicked in for 70 million of that. Guess who paid the rest?

Well it certainly wasn't Mexico.

Guest Workers are a misnomer- they will be a minimally employed underclass who will move money out of our economy and into Mexico's. Citizenship conveyed by birthplace is impractical in a world where a short walk across an invisible line is the difference between AFDC benefits and the inherent corruption of the Mexican government.

I like the Hispanic culture. I read spanish better than I speak it, but I can get by anywhere I need to. I've celebrated Dia de los Muertos, and I make some damn fine sopapillas. I've slogged through everything from Cervantes to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Ask me about my Shakira records.

But you'll forgive me if I think that Good Fences make Good Neighbors.