Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Fair, and the Not-So-Fair

Last night we went to the Montgomery County Fair, man, there's nothing like it. My wife and I were talking afterwards, she was wondering if every place has something like that, and I figured yes, there must be something like "the fair" everywhere. The nature of farming requires that people are separated -- it takes space to grow stuff, acreage. So farmers are spread out. And this time of year, the crops are coming in, the young animals have been born, it's time to go to town and do some business. I imagine that any place that has farming has something like a fair in the late summer or fall. People get together, there has to be something for the kids to do, food to eat, social events, it's an inevitable consequence of agriculture.

There's no glamor at the fair, no beautiful people. Oh, there were beautiful people, I felt like Walt Whitman walking around marveling at my wondrous neighbors, but even the beautiful ones look ... unbeautiful. People are there to look, not to be looked at. All blobs of fat are conspicuous, all colors clash, all hair-dos are mussed or have been sabotaged by wind or activity, body proportions seem exaggerated in an unglamorous direction. Everybody's face is tired or distracted or absorbed or smeared with food or silly in some way.

I guess what I'm saying is, at the fair everybody is a kid.

The midways were packed, I mean, solid people. Boyfriends and girlfriends holding hands tightly so they wouldn't be pulled apart, parents nagging their little ones to stay close, food instantly trampled as it hits the ground, carney recordings -- none of it is live any more, it's all recordings blaring from PA speakers, yelling at you to see the "world's biggest horse" or win a prize or get on a ride, or if you're already on one, urging you to shout or whatever. And it's all so crazy, if there's a rope to control crowd flow, people are ducking under it and cutting across; lines wrap around organically, sprawling, kids cutting in and others wandering off at approximately the same rate so it actually works without anybody getting too mad. You hear every language in the world, too, and see every nationality in their native costume, everybody who lives can enjoy the fair.

I don't like to go on the rides. Life is scary enough for me, without, you know, defying gravity. They got me to go on the ferris wheel; my daughter, after calling me a bunch of names challenging my manhood, promised "I'll be there for you, honey, don't worry, I'll be right there, you can hold my hand if you get frightened." Still, I didn't look down.

It's been a weird week, it seems to me, as we realize that the Democratic Congress really isn't going to do anything to make America well. There was a sense of optimism when the possibility of checks and balances was restored to the federal government, yeah, well, that didn't happen. They're giving our rights away as fast as the last guys did. (I just went out and got the paper -- and I should mention that this is the most beautiful morning in all of Montgomery County history, sunny and cool and clear, just outrageous.) The Washington Post has a front page story called "How the Fight for Vast New Spying Powers Was Won," which tells you whose side they're on. Shouldn't that have said "Was Lost"? They don't even think about it, it's obvious to them. The good guys want to be able to spy on the American people without a warrant, the evil bad guys don't want them to. The good guys won, according to the Post. Oh well, what can you do on the most beautiful morning in all of recorded history? Have another cup of delicious coffee, listen to some jazz guitar on WPFW, wait for the family to wake up, not much a person can do to save the world at this moment.

There's not a lot new in the local sex-ed controversy, we're waiting for the latest legal appeal to come through -- nobody expects the courts to overrule the state school board, this seems like a formality, but then the CRC, with Thomas More Law Center representing them, will sue in state court, they say. Well, they have the right, you wouldn't want to see them give up without having exhausted every possibility. I guess.

There was one thing that happened this week, pretty typical, not exactly newsworthy at the time but you'll be interested to hear about it.

You might remember when David Fishback, former chair of the citizens committee that worked on the "old new" sex-ed curriculum, was on TV with the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum's John Garza a few months ago; you can read about it HERE. Well, another show, Maryland Public Television State Circle, was going to have them on this past week to talk about the curriculum.

First, they arranged it with Garza. Garza's a lawyer, and Fishback's a lawyer, by the way, this is a good matchup. Garza was happy to go on TV and give the CRC's view of things, how the schools are promoting the gay agenda, how they're discriminating against Christians, how they don't teach enough about anal sex, about the "unisex bathrooms" that will become inevitable if this goes forward.

Having lined up Garza, Maryland Public Television contacted Dan Furmansky, leader of Equality Maryland, who recommended Fishback to balance out the show. So they called David, who agreed to it. Then they told Garza, who decided he didn't want to appear on the show after all. The producer was able to talk him into it though, and we were all ready to watch another showdown between the most articulate leaders on each side of the debate, very knowledgeable men who have experience in public speaking, in composing their arguments and representing their points of view carefully and thoroughly. Should be good.

The show was scheduled for Friday. The interviews would take place in the afternoon, they'd edit the tapes and put it on in the evening.

This is funny: they changed the announcement on the Montgomery Public Television site (though Fishback and Garza are still in the Google cache HERE), but you can see the announcement on the "Think Classroom" site HERE:
David Fishback; Former Chairman, Citizens' Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development; John Garza; President, Citizens For Responsible Curriculum Recently the Montgomery County school board approved a new lesson plan on sexual orientation. Montgomery County middle and high schools will introduce homosexuality and gender identity in health classes. Tonight we'll discuss both sides of the issue. David Fishback was Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Education's Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development from 2003 to 2005, and is a member of, a grass-roots organization formed to support comprehensive and accurate sexuality education in Montgomery County. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Metro DC Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

In case you didn't see the last show they did together, let me just mention, it wasn't really fair; Fishback out-argued Garza on every point, he had the facts and he had the reasoning to make sense of them, while Garza had empty assertions. So this time, the day before the show was to be taped, Garza canceled. The CRC also didn't have anybody else who could do it. Every single one of their thousands and thousands of supporters were busy Friday.

The show has been rescheduled for September 7th. It is my understanding that it'll go on whether the CRC provides anyone or not. They usually try to get both sides of an issue, but if one side doesn't want to speak up ... what do you do?

The CRC convinced the Thomas More Law Center, a pretty big Catholic religious-rights legal firm, to represent them in court. Their complaint comes down to this: the new curriculum has stuff they don't like. They don't like it that students will learn that sexual orientation is innate. They don't like it that students will learn a little bit about prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They just don't like it. Can you go to court with that? Well, yes, if you get a lawyer to file the papers you can go to court with anything. Can they win? Hey, stranger stuff has happened; those cleaners in DC almost had to pay fifty four million dollars for losing a guy's pants, because the sign said "Satisfaction guaranteed" and he wasn't satisfied. You can't guess what a judge is going to say. And again, you can't blame them for trying. They really think this curriculum is wild and out of bounds, and apparently they convinced some lawyers in Michigan who go around and do this kind of thing, so ... buckle your seat belts, here we go again.

But listen, how are you going to convince a judge, if you're afraid to join in a debate on a TV talk show? The CRC must know that as soon as they try to say any of this stuff in court (Thomas More Law Center has the gist of their complaint HERE), the other side is going to jump up and counter it. That's how it works, the courtroom is where two sides of a dispute present their best arguments and somebody, a judge or a jury or whatever, decides between them. Last time, the school district's lawyers seemed to have not given the nuances of the issue much thought, they were sucker-punched and out-lawyered by the guys from Jerry Falwell's legal team. This time, they have studied the curriculum in detail, from Step One. They know what's in it, they know what the issues are, they know what the research says. This time the schools will be fairly defended. And the CRC will be represented by the group that tried to get the schools in Dover, Pennsylvania to teach Intelligent Design instead of Biology.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Garza = Weenie


August 13, 2007 1:40 AM  

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