Sunday, March 21, 2010

From Outrage to Grief: Trying to Understand

When I read the news this morning, my outrage boiled over, pooling into disbelief. As the day wore on, it evolved into something akin to grief.

I have decided it to be a good thing that I am shocked, as opposed to nodding sagely and murmuring that "I am not surprised."

I am shocked and I am surprised. Profoundly so.

The insanely angry, sputtering atmosphere the Tea Baggers have created allowed one of their peculiar fetishists to think it a grand idea to yell "nigger" at John Lewis, who has lived a life of integrity and service, first as a civil rights leader, and then as an elected representative from Georgia.

Obscenities were shouted at other members of the Black Caucus, and, just to be equal opportunity bigots, Barney Frank had to endure lisps and being called a "faggot."
Someone spit on Congressman Cleaver of Missouri.**

Signs screamed: "If Brown can't stop it, a Browning can" and "We came unarmed [this time]." Then there is the artwork depicting President Obama, sporting a Hitleresque moustache for good measure, being shat out the arse of an ass.
And racism and gay-bashing apparently wasn’t all. Add anti-Semitism to the list.

A staffer in Rep. Anthony Weiner’s office reported a stream of hostile encounters with tea partiers roaming the halls of Congress. The less harmful stuff was mockery. But they left a couple of notes behind. One asked what Rahm Emanuel did with Weiner in the shower, in a reference to... ex-Rep Eric Massa. It was signed with a swastika, the staffer said. The other note called the congressman “Schlomo Weiner,” among other [things].

There is good stuff being written every minute of every day, and some of it helps me to understand the fear-filled feelings of disenchantment (or whatever, searching for an honorific mot juste on behalf of the right wing nauseates me right now).

But not much tops what The Onion did last November. It came back to mind as I attempted to watch Meet the Press and skim commentary on yesterday's doings because the Word of the Day for Republicans, in advance of the historic House vote on health care reform, turned out to be unconstitutional.

If I thought something unconstitutional, I'd use that argument straight away, and not pull it triumphantly out of my... hat -- at the very last. But that's just me.

Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be

Spurred by an administration he believes to be guilty of numerous transgressions, self-described American patriot Kyle Mortensen, 47, is a vehement defender of ideas he seems to think are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and principles that brave men have fought and died for solely in his head.

"Our very way of life is under siege," said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination. "It's time for true Americans to stand up and protect the values that make us who we are."

According to Mortensen—an otherwise mild-mannered husband, father, and small-business owner—the most serious threat to his fanciful version of the 222-year-old Constitution is the attempt by far-left "traitors" to strip it of its religious foundation.

"Right there in the preamble, the authors make their priorities clear: 'one nation under God,'" said Mortensen, attributing to the Constitution a line from the Pledge of Allegiance, which itself did not include any reference to a deity until 1954. "Well, there's a reason they put that right at the top."

"Men like Madison and Jefferson were moved by the ideals of Christianity, and wanted the United States to reflect those values as a Christian nation," continued Mortensen, referring to the "Father of the Constitution," James Madison, considered by many historians to be an atheist, and Thomas Jefferson, an Enlightenment-era thinker who rejected the divinity of Christ and was in France at the time the document was written. "The words on the page speak for themselves."

According to sources who have read the nation's charter, the U.S. Constitution and its 27 amendments do not contain the word "God" or "Christ."

Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance "since the Ten Commandments."

"And let's not forget that when the Constitution was ratified it brought freedom to every single American," Mortensen said.

Mortensen's passion for safeguarding the elaborate fantasy world in which his conception of the Constitution resides is greatly respected by his likeminded friends and relatives, many of whom have been known to repeat his unfounded assertions verbatim when angered. Still, some friends and family members remain critical.

"Dad's great, but listening to all that talk radio has put some weird ideas into his head," said daughter Samantha, a freshman at Reed College in Portland, OR. "He believes the Constitution allows the government to torture people and ban gay marriage, yet he doesn't even know that it guarantees universal health care."

Mortensen told reporters that he'll fight until the bitter end for what he roughly supposes the Constitution to be. He acknowledged, however, that it might already be too late to win the battle.

"The freedoms our Founding Fathers spilled their blood for are vanishing before our eyes," Mortensen said. "In under a year, a fascist, socialist regime has turned a proud democracy into a totalitarian state that will soon control every facet of American life."

"Don't just take my word for it," Mortensen added. "Try reading a newspaper or watching the news sometime."

**Battery: A battery is the willful or intentional touching of a person against that person’s will by another person, or by an object or substance put in motion by that other person. Please note that an offensive touching can constitute a battery even if it does not cause injury, and could not reasonably be expected to cause injury. A defendant who emphatically pokes the plaintiff in the chest with his index finger to emphasize a point may be culpable for battery (although the damages award that results may well be nominal). A defendant who spits on a plaintiff, even though there is little chance that the spitting will cause any injury other than to the plaintiff's dignity, has committed a battery.

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