The Bog:
sphagnum moss, dark water, and politics
Saturday, March 29, 2003
Teaching German
Yes, everyone and their blogging cats have already linked to Dahlia Lithwick's hilarious coverage of oral arguments in the Supreme Court's Texas anti-gay sodomy case. Nevertheless, here it is again. In fact, I'm blockquoting a big chunk of it:
Justice Stephen Breyer asks one of his famed three-part questions and, when Rosenthal doesn't answer immediately, Breyer interrupts: "That's not my question. I'd like to hear your straight answer." The gallery busts up. Rosenthal says there's a good place to draw the line of privacy and fundamental rights, and that line is "at the bedroom door."

"But the line is at the bedroom door in this case!" yelps Breyer. To which Rosenthal says something suggesting that the two co-plaintiffs (who have been fighting this case together since 1998) may not have been having consensual sex.

Breyer, quoting shamed Oxonian Tom Brown, adds that the whole justification for this law can be reduced to: "I do not like thee Dr. Fell/ The reason why I cannot tell." Breyer asks whether Texas could make it against the law to "tell really serious lies" at the dinner table, and when Rosenthal sounds like he's about to say Texas can, Scalia interrupts to say, "Don't you think what laws a state can constitutionally pass has something to do with the sorts of laws that have a long tradition of being passed?"

"Certainly," says Rosenthal.

Justice David Souter asks whether Texas really has a 200-year tradition of criminalizing gay sodomy. "Was this law on the books in 1803?" he asks.

"Texas wasn't a state in 1803," offers Rosenthal.

"Good question!" applauds Scalia. "Don't fall into that trap!!"

Breyer notes that during World War I people also thought it "immoral" to "teach German in schools. … Immoral is a hard line to draw."

"There is a rational basis," insists Rosenthal.

"You're not giving us a rational basis," snaps Breyer.

"The rational basis," says Scalia, "is that the state thinks it's immoral. Like bigamy or adultery."

"Or teaching German," grins Breyer.

Souter wonders why Texas doesn't limit sodomy among heterosexuals. "Because it can lead to marriage and procreation," says Rosenthal.
For some reason I keep having a vision of the Justices suddenly rising up in their black robes and singing "YMCA" by the Village People as a disco ball descends from the ceiling . . .

The weirdness is spreading. TAP Online is apologizing for running an article in which Breyer quotes not Tom Brown but Dr. Seuss:
Editor's Note: This article has been corrected since its original publication. Justice Stephen Breyer did not invoke the phrase, "I do not like this, Sam I Am," but rather the phrase, "I do not love thee, Dr. Fell; the reason why I cannot tell." TAP Online regrets the error.
It's a shame, as quoting from Green Eggs and Ham would have been downright appropriate, given the moral of the story and the sociocultural implications of the whole Seuss corpus.

Another thing: I was idly flipping through the Economist and realized that the co-plaintiffs are (or were) an interracial couple! This fact hasn't shown up in any of the admittedly extremely limited amount of coverage I've seen about the case; indeed, the Economist makes this point only visually, and perhaps inadvertently. Now, I doubt this particular biocultural fact has any practical relevance to the case at hand, but all the same it sets up interesting echoes . . .

And that line about sodomy [defined here as oral or anal sex] leading to marriage and procreation? Supposedly some folks in Texas - which in 1995 became the third state to teach abstinence-only sex ed, thanks in part to one Governor Bush - think it is quite a small step:
Many teenagers said that with the limits on teaching, and with parents who are uncomfortable discussing sex in detail, they learn much of what they know from experience. Some young women here [Lubbock, TX], under the mistaken belief that they can get pregnant through oral sex, refer to their children as "spit babies."
Then again, I have to wonder if this is really an example of a Washington Post reporter going off into the red-state wilds and being outrageously conned by the natives, or at best puffing up urban legends.

And yes, this happened:
Smith replies that there would need to be some showing that gay kindergarten teachers produce harm to children. Scalia offers one: "Only that children might be induced to follow the path to homosexuality."
I'm speechless.

posted by Dan S. on 12:14 AM | | link

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
"Furthermore, because this is a war of choice . . . those who were eager for the choice to be made had an incentive to minimize expectations of inevitable unpleasantness."
Guess what crazed, America-hating liberal said this. Alterman? Krugman?

Ladies and Gentlemen - meet George F. Will.

Granted, he thinks the war is a wise choice and that the public unease over this "inevitable unpleasantness" is "disproportionate." But he also argues for a principled, cautious conservatism against the frightening idealism of the neocons' foreign policy.

In the papers, a stunned, shocked understanding that the war is not a video game played on "God" mode. Am I overstating? From the NY Times:
Indeed, the Times/CBS News Poll found that the number of Americans who expected the war to be won quickly dropped 9 points from Saturday to Sunday, and 10 more points from Sunday to Monday [margin of error larger than +/- 2 percentage points]. Those shifts coincided with television coverage of prisoners of war and battlefield casualties that seems to have caught at least some Americans — accustomed to the relatively bloodless victory in Afghanistan last year — by surprise.

"I think I was living in a pipe dream thinking no one would get killed," Shirley Johnson, 79, a registered Republican from Davenport, Iowa, said in a follow-up interview. "But all of a sudden people were getting killed, and I was horrified."
This is incomprensible. The cheerleaders in the Administration have a great deal to answer for.

posted by Dan S. on 8:12 AM | | link

Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Gives new meaning to the term "protest vote." Well, kinda.
On Jeanne's blog, a comment:
I think that if there were "register to vote" booths at all events, something useful and positive could come out of all the protests and marches. If there were some indication that these actions might actually effect Bush, he might pay attention. -- Matt Ball
I don't know if I'd follow it all the way, but the register-to-vote booth thing is an excellent idea. I'm e-mailing it to various organizing groups. Feel free to do the same.

posted by Dan S. on 12:00 AM | | link

what is a bog?
Definitions, definitions
1. ". . . one of North America's most distinctive kinds of wetlands . . . characterized by spongy peat deposits, acidic waters, and a floor covered by a thick carpet of spagnum moss." *
2. A relentless, hard-driving mix of political commentary, recipes, idle ramblings, and so on.

More about bogs here.

why "the bog"?
Something about the blog format made me think of spagnum moss slowly growing, forming layer after layer of peat deposits many feet thick, sometimes preserving (in Europe) ancient bodies . . . Also, it rhymes.

Powered by Blogger Attack Iraq? No!

Songs currently stuck in my head
despite all my best efforts

"My Happy Ending," by {yech} Avril Lavigne:
"Let's talk this over,
It's not like we're dead . . "

and "Laiska" by Varttina:
Laiska luotu laulmann
oikosormi soittamaan
yskin oita viettelen
unetonna laulelen

Toppling off the bedside book-pile:
Classroom Management for Middle-Grades Teachers , C.M. Charles & Marilyn G. Charles
Teaching U.S. History as Mystery, David Gerwin & Jack Zevin
Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska, William W. Fitzhugh & Aron Crowell
Arctic Crossing: A Journey Through the Northwest Passage and Inuit Culture, Jonathan Waterman
Northern Tales: Stories from the Native People of the Arctic and Subarctic Regions, Howard Norman (ed.)
Life in the Cold, Peter J. Marchand
Wandering Through Winter, Edwin Way Teale
The Winter Vegetarian, Darra Goldstein

Teas of the week:
Tea of Good Tidings: Winter Fruit Blend,
The Republic of Tea
Russian Caravan,
Jacksons of Piccailly

on the web:
Land of links:
The American Prospect
Common Dreams
FAIR: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
The Nation
The Progressive
Washington Monthly

Organic Consumers Association
Eat Wild (pasture-based farming)
NOFA: Northeast Organic Farming Association
Consumer Supported Agriculture
Edible Wild Kitchen


Blogging away:
Vassar blogs
And yes, we've been co-ed since '69...
E's Den
Useless! Worthless! Insipid!

Other blogs
Alas, A Blog
Atrios' Eschaton
Body and Soul
Daily Kos
Digby's Hullabaloo
Dispatches From the Culture Wars
Echidne of the Snakes
Feminist Blogs
Interesting Times
Late Night Thoughts asleep?
Long story; short pier
Making Light
Mouse Words
One Good Thing
The Panda's Thumb
Respectful of Otters
The Sideshow
Sisyphus Shrugged
Matthew Yglesias

old peat (archives):
December 22, 2002
December 29, 2002
January 12, 2003
January 19, 2003
February 2, 2003
February 16, 2003
February 23, 2003
March 2, 2003
March 9, 2003
March 16, 2003
March 23, 2003
March 30, 2003
April 6, 2003
June 8, 2003
October 5, 2003
January 16, 2005
October 22, 2006
November 5, 2006
November 12, 2006
November 19, 2006
November 26, 2006
September 16, 2012
December 23, 2012

Search Engine Submission

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by