Friday, October 22, 2010

Westboro Baptist Church at NIC

I got out of my car this morning and heard faint shouting. I remember. WBC is supposed to be here today. I walked by where the CDA police had blocked off the street, and headed toward the Student Union Building. As I got closer, I saw colorful signs and heard a cacophony of noises. At first, I was angry.
I knew that members of Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas had scheduled time to come up and protest the NIC production of "The Laramie Project" - a play that chronicles monologues from the people in Laramie, WY, after a young gay college student, Matthew Shepard, was brutally tortured and murdered there for his sexual orientation. I also knew that the WBC is infamous for protesting at military funerals - not against war or the waste of human life - but that they were glad these soldiers were dead because they died for what the WBC sees as a damned country for its extension of rights to LGBTs.
While I was cursing the people holding the signs in front of the SUB, which I have come to regard as a cozy, safe zone, I got closer, and realized that there was more to what I was seeing. The gathering I saw first was actually the counter-protest that NIC students and others had organized. By the time I got there, which was half an hour after the start, there were still about 50 or more people - unlike the 200+ there originally. The WBC people were of the other side of the street, coralled into a small portion of sidewalk. 
And then I was smiling.
The fight for rights and justice does for me what I imagine church/temple/mosque does for religious people. I have dreamed about protests since I was little, desperate to be a part of something larger than myself. 
The dozen or so WBC people could not be heard.
My people - my school - was singing, and cheering, and shouting. They were waving signs that said things like "I love my aunt" and "There's a reason Dorothy left Kansas," and waving American flags.
They sang "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" and later, the National Anthem.
What must be understood about me is that I have not felt patriotic since I was eight, and Bush was "elected." After that November, I spent eight years hating my government. Even with Obama in office, I find that I cannot love my country as I should - I have missed a crucial stage in my intellectual development, and my patriotism died because of it. Being proud of my schools happens rarely, and I was too new to NIC to cultivate true loyalty.
But today, NIC won my love. I am a proud NIC student.
With so much love and acceptance pushing against the hate, the WBC signs ("God hates Fags" and other nonsense) looked almost laughable.
Love really does beat out hate. (And may it always do so)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I can name the day that I first knew that I wanted to vote. November 4, 2000. George W. Bush had just been "elected" (I use elected in quotation marks because there is strong evidence that the election was fraudulent), and I was angry. I knew that I wanted a voice in this system - I wanted to oppose idiots like Bush Jr.
The desire never faded. While other people were looking forward to age 21 and drinking, all I really cared about was being 18 so I could vote.
It shocks me how few people in America vote. About 30% of our population decides who gets into the offices that run our country.
A democracy in which only a select few vote is not a democracy - it might as well be an oligarchy.
If people don't vote, how can they expect any change? They can't complain about the direction their government goes in if they don't exercise the basic privilege of their citizenship.
Too many of the people I went to high school with, who are now of age, have no desire to vote. I can count on one hand the number of people I know who intend to vote.
Our country cannot function without an educated populace who completes the most basic duty of all democracies: voting. It only takes a few minutes - registering takes even less time.
And you should care - government affects everything in your life, and if you're not helping to choose what the government is doing, then you're allowing terrible mistakes to be made.
Start caring; start voting!