Saturday, January 23, 2010

Musings: Cherished Institutions

When Koko and I went out about 10 last night, the wind was blowing hard from the southwest, herding great globs of dark clouds toward a half-moon ringed by a halo. “Here comes the storm,” I thought, but when we went out in the morning, it was dry, still, and the sky was patchy blue.

“It makes me think of that guy [UH geology professor Dr. Tom Giambelluca] we heard at the global warming conference, who said that a lot of the winter storms are passing us by to the north now,” said my neighbor Andy, whom we encountered on our walk.

“And that we can expect to see drier winters, punctuated by episodes of extreme rainfall,” I added, recalling the intense November storms that flooded out Hanalei.

I was up there the other day, and stopped to visit a friend who is a horticulturist.

“Did you notice the mango blossoms?” he asked, and indeed I had, because I’d never seen such profuse blooms in the Hanalei Valley.

“It’s way, way too early,” he said, and when I asked whether he thought it was due to the heat, or the big rain or the sunshine, he shrugged. “Nature is trying to tell us something.”

Problem is, we’ve pretty much lost the ability to read her signs, speak her language. Or maybe we’d rather ignore her.

Opponents of the civil unions bill passed yesterday by the state Senate claim lawmakers are ignoring the will of the people — a cry that gubernatorial hopeful Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona has taken up, too. Is it true? Hard to say, seeing as how what is essentially an equal rights under the law issue has become so muddled by the whole God-traditional marriage-white shirt bit.

Aiona also shares the stance of his boss that lawmakers should ignore civil unions and instead focus on “improving public education and balancing the state budget.”

Ummm, shouldn’t lawmakers be able to multi-task, deal with one more than one complex, controversial or challenging issue per session? No wonder the wheels of government turn so slowly.

My favorite quote came from Sen. Mike Gabbard:

"Marriage is not just a word, it is the foundation, it is the bedrock of our society. It is the cornerstone of civilization and it impacts every one of our lives," he said.

Bedrock of our society? Cornerstone of civilization? Well, then that explains an awful lot, because most marriages I see are dysfunctional unions held together by insecurity, duty, convenience, inertia and economic interests — kinda like the rest of our cherished institutions.

I was also interested to see that the Advertiser’s first report on this ground-breaking issue was a short “breaking news” piece cobbled together by “Advertiser Staff,” perhaps from wire reports and what Larry Geller described as a barrage of tweets.

Thanks to AP, the story had been picked up around the nation, and Michael Levine had even written his own localized piece for The Garden Island, before the on-line edition of The Advertiser produced a by-lined article with any depth this morning. Is it any wonder The Advertiser is dying?

Speaking of dying, I was a dismayed by The Garden Island’s insensitive coverage of yesterday fatal crash on Kaumualii Highway. Under the headline “2nd fatal crash snarls South Shore traffic,” the lede read:

A two-vehicle crash near Maluhia Road in Koloa Friday afternoon left a motorcyclist dead and snarled rush hour traffic for hours, according to county officials.

So those are equally weighted events, a man’s death and a traffic jam? Frick, they could have at least relegated the traffic news to the second paragraph.

It also annoys me when the county reports, and the paper dutifully repeats, that the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet. So what? Would he necessarily have lived if he had been wearing a helmet? I think it grates on me because it implies that the motorcyclist was somehow to blame for his death, when in fact he was driving along minding his own business until a woman inexplicably plowed into him and sent him flying.

Seems to me that if the county can provide such minor details as whether or not a guy was wearing a helmet, it should also be able to provide more major details, like the name of the woman who killed him.


Unknown said...

The funny thing is that the quote from Gabbard makes great justification for legal recognition of gay relationships. It is ironic that the "marriage = society" argument is used to deny rights to a part of society...

Anonymous said... warming, civil union victory (yeah), and poor reporting in the same article! Good blog, very interesting.

Per "reporting", you may find this interesting, sorry for posting off-topic a bit...

jackbauer said...

So the tweeters can now tweet to their tweets content.
Hope lingle vetoes this ridiculous farce of legislation.

Anonymous said...

that gabbard fellow sounds like a pretty dumb guy

"Michael Levine had even written his own localized piece for The Garden Island, before the on-line edition of The Advertiser produced a by-lined article with any depth this morning. Is it any wonder The Advertiser is dying?"

-- interesting. good for him


Anonymous said...

Gabbard said "It (Marriage) is the cornerstone of civilization"

Then thank the hetros for our current post-civilized society because:

"50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.”

These people refuse to take responsibility for what they have done yet blame and deny the homo basic human rights.

Anonymous said...

I blame the Metrosexual

"Simpson's definition is more nuanced than the term's common use today.
“ The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis – because that's where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference. Particular professions, such as modeling, waiting tables, media, pop music and, nowadays, sport, seem to attract them but, truth be told, like male vanity products and herpes, they're pretty much everywhere.

For some time now, old-fashioned (re)productive, repressed, unmoisturized heterosexuality has been given the pink slip by consumer capitalism. The stoic, self-denying, modest straight male didn't shop enough (his role was to earn money for his wife to spend), and so he had to be replaced by a new kind of man, one less certain of his identity and much more interested in his image – that's to say, one who was much more interested in being looked at (because that's the only way you can be certain you actually exist). A man, in other words, who is an advertiser's walking wet dream.[2]"

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book, Committed...discusses the history of marriage as a social contract, a way of keeping social order.

She says that in the past century (maybe earlier....), societies and cultures are including and emphasizing love, romance and morality into the marriage contract, and this has resulted in higher divorce rates.

She delves into the stats for those curious...

Anonymous said...

America The Theocracy or America The Civil Democracy? That is the key question that every person in this country has to ask themselves. DO most people think the Westboro Baptist Church "Family" is deplorable? Well, yes and no. Only after they started picketing the funerals of soldiers was it that Faux News picked up the ball and ran with the whole "Aren't you people horrible and prejudiced." Most people do not understand, when they go against gay rights, a woman's right to choose, and want to get rid of hi9ring practices that give minorities an equal foothold on good jobs we are heading down a slippery slope from which there is no return. Picking and choosing your prejudices is hard to do. When you swallow a pill you commit to the whole thing, not bits of it.