Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ranch Journal

Another school year ended, and I'm back at my summer routine of working on the ranch in Willow City.  Most people don't know what I actually do at the ranch, so I've been planning a series of posts that outline what goes on in my days out there.

First thing: I work in two-day shifts, generally two per week.  That way I never have to spend more than one night at a time away from my wife and daughter.  I've got lots of time, too, to work on my dissertation and plan my research trip (this July) to Cuba.

Here's a basic schedule:

Day 1:

5:00—wake up in Austin, drink coffee, read sports and politics blogs
5:30—drive over to the Boss’s house in Austin to get truck and tools, drive to ranch
7:00—arrive at ranch in Willow City, unload
7:15 – 12:15—work.  Work at the ranch mostly means clearing land.  Chopping and dragging cedar, digging out cactus and agarita, throwing it all on piles to be burned later.
12:15 – 4:15—lunch and siesta.  I avoid working in the afternoon.  This is my time to work on my dissertation, or go into town for supplies and iced tea and some wifi at Fredericksburg Coffee and Tea.
4:30 – 8:00—more work.   By 6:30 or 7:00, it’s almost pleasant outside.
8:01—Shiner Bock.
8:10—start cooking supper, continue drinking Shiner.
8:30 – 9:00—eat supper on the tailgate of the ranch truck
9:00 – 10:00 or so—shower, read, dissertate.

Day 2:
6:00—wake up, make and drink coffee, eat breakfast
6:30 – 7:15—run. 
7:30 – 12:30—work.
12:30—pack up and head home

Friday, June 1, 2012

Joe Hockey and Penny Wong on Marriage Equality in Australia

This clip of a question about gay marriage at the end of a televised Australian political debate has been making the facebook rounds in the past few days.  Many responses commend Penny Wong’s dignified answer to Joe Hockey: “I know what my family is worth.”

And that is a great response.  But I think Hockey’s part is the most fascinating aspect of the exchange.

Kudos to the audience questioner, who cuts to the heart of the issue: “…on Friday you said you wouldn’t vote for marriage equality, because you really believe children deserve a mother and a father,” he addresses Hockey. “So I’m wondering if you could tell us, and Senator Wong, why you think you and Melissa make better parents than her and Sophie.”

The question leads Hockey straight into incoherence: “I don’t believe we’re better parents, necessarily, because we’re male and female,” he says before arguing that straight couples are necessarily better than gay parents.

Exact quote: “I think in this life, we’ve got to aspire to give our children what I believe to be the very best circumstances, and that’s to have a mother and a father.  I’m not saying that gay parents are any lesser parents, but I’m being asked to legislate in favor of something that I don’t believe to be the best outcome for a child.”

He contradicts himself literally sentence by sentence.  But what's interesting is that he needs to contradict himself: he knows that he and Melissa are no better at parenting than Penny and Sophie.

This is exactly the sort of cognitive dissonance that President Obama described overcoming as part of his recent change of mind regarding gay marriage.  He could no longer reconcile his abstractions about the "ideal" family with the reality of the gay families he knows.  And this is why the greatest indicator that a person will support gay marriage is having a gay family member or close friend.  Faced with the lived realities of actual human beings, empty abstractions fall away.

Of course, I have met people who have no problem proclaiming themselves better parents than any gay couple, simply by virtue of being half of a straight marriage.  And I know people who cheerfully write that gay families are "playing house," and who accuse gay parents of using their children to prove a political point.  But those are shameful views, and I think bringing them to light is all we need to do to combat them.