Browsing Archives for October 2010

The CD Mows

October 5th, 2010

Came home from work some time this summer and there was my bright yellow t-shirt clad husband on an orange tractor pulling a blue mower.  How could I not take a few pics?

On Wednesday the supreme court is set to hear the case of Alfred Snyder vs.The Westboro Baptist Church.  At stake will be the limits of free speech and whether or not the WBC violated Snyder’s rights to a peaceable assembly during the funeral of his 20 year old son, a marine who was killed in the Iraq war.

In 2007 Snyder won 11 million in damages from the WBC for protesting his son’s funeral and inflicting intentional emotional distress on the Snyder family.  A later judge reduced the damages to five million, but the case was eventually overturned on appeal and Snyder was ordered to pay some of the court costs incurred by the Phelp’s family.  When news of the overturn hit the news media, thousands of people donated money to help the Snyder family pay off the sixteen thousand dollar court ordered tab including Fox News reporter, Bill O’ Reilly.

The infamous case of Flynt v. Falwell is one of the precedents expected to be examined in this case.  In 1988 Jerry Falwell sued Hustler Magazine over a parody ad that appeared in Hustler magazine stating that Falwell’s first sexual encounter was with his mother in an outhouse.  Flynt won this case based on the fact that Falwell is a public figure and the ad was obviously a parody.  However, Snyder is not a public figure and the WBC clearly does not intend for their protests to be perceived as a parody.

More than forty states have made it harder for the WBC to disrupt military funerals forcing their protests to be held specific distances from the solemn proceedings.  Because of his state’s distance requirements, Snyder was not even aware that the Phelps family had protested his son’s funeral until later in the day as he did not see them before, during or after the event.  The fact that the protestors were required to be so far from the actual funeral may hurt the Snyder case.

It is a troubling issue.  Basic human decency insists that one should be allowed to grieve a loved one’s death in peace.  But Fred Phelps and his gang of hatemongers refuse to play by those rules.  Is it possible to limit free speech in situations that only serve to heighten the suffering of grieving people?  Or should our laws continue to allow for free speech with very little restriction (such as being certain distances from funeral services) despite the pain and suffering this can inflict on private individuals?  Margie Phelps, daughter of Fred Phelps will argue the case for the WBC.  I am anxious to hear what the Supreme Court decides.

For Mondo

October 2nd, 2010

On the most recent episode of Project Runway, the designers were given the task of creating their own fabric using their childhoods and families as inspiration.  Mondo Guerra blew the judges and the other designers away by creating a fabric that boldly symbolized his HIV positive status – a secret he has kept from his family for ten years.  Watching it all unfold on television was surreal.  My twelve year old son sat down beside me and after watching the show for a few minutes asked me if it was a movie.  Even though he is familiar with the show, this particular episode was so fraught with intense emotion that it left the mundane plane that is reality television and entered into the realms of something much more important.  It was both painful and beautiful to watch Mondo finally let the world (and especially his family) know that he is unabashedly gay and tragically HIV positive.  He displayed a bravery that is going to reverberate positively through American society for a long, long time.  To conclude the show, Valerie’s farewell speech was yet another television moment that was almost too good to be true.  That girl knows how to say goodbye to the people she loves!

At one point in the show, Mondo mentions that he grew up in a devout Catholic family and how when he finally told his mother that he was gay, she told him not to tell his father.  He mentioned how the religious aspects of his family made it all much harder for him to come out with his homosexuality.  Watching Mondo deal with something so excruciatingly difficult in his life and then so beautifully express his dilemma in his design made me think about the Dan Savage ‘It Gets Better‘ Project.  Dan Savage, a nationally syndicated sex/relationship advice columnist recently created a YouTube channel in response to the suicide of fifteen year old Billy Lucas who hung himself in his grandmother’s barn after enduring vicious gay bashing from his peers.

Savage wrote…

I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

“But gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.

“Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.”

You can read Savage’s full column here. (You will have to scroll past the threesome advice and the call to create a ‘Masturbate to Christine O’Donnel Day’  Heh, heh, heh.)

Thanks both to Mondo and to Savage for using their talents to make the way smoother for the young people who will travel similar paths.