Last week it became apparent that I am out of touch with the rest of the world. The distance between myself has never geographically changed, but the chasm between me and what some call real Americans, the heartland, the life’s blood of this country has never been larger.
With the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage, I realized I don’t spend enough time with conservatives; I forgot what their true colors are. Legalizing unions brought out some talk I didn’t think we allowed in this country anymore without politely accepting resignations to spend more time with family in lieu of firings or Jerry Mcguire-esque freak outs. I mean, why should Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee surprise me anymore?
I blame you, Portland. Sure, Oregon is more of a split state, but Portland is the liberal poster child we slap on bumper stickers and paint on postcards to hide the bigotry and tradition that hold sway outside the I-5 corridor between Autzen Stadium and the Rose Quarter.
With Portland as my cocoon, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart as my newsmen, Google preferences, RSS feeds, a steady diet of Farmers Markets and brunch, ironic barbershops and beard competitions, I kind of forgot that under the proud waving of confederate flags, pot, and even love were reviled in whatever is out there in the wastelands once ya get past The Dalles.
Legal weed (hell, free weed until we figure out how to sell it), legalized unions, words like artisanal and organic being as ubiquitous as hand-crafted and locally grown are our foundations. We thank the bus driver as we disembark, celebrate every single summer weekend as a city with blues festivals, musicfests, city fair, rose festival, craft beer festivals, food bazaars, and get probably 1/4 of our dietary need out of trucks. This city bikes through the streets naked and then runs through them to fight cancer. We gather food by the ton and collect toys by the truckload every year for our friends and neighbors we haven’t met yet. Oh, and we love our football club more than you love yours.
With all that, it is easy to both forget that some see equal love as the darkest times in this country’s history (Ted Cruz’s words). Our darkest time? In our history as a nation? Others call it the end of democracy. The end? This was the thing? Legal unions will topple a checks and balances government with free elections which is part of the G7, UN Security Council, and wields the world’s most advanced and well-used militaries? I kind of feel like gay people don’t have the kind of power it takes to unravel nearly 300 years as a free republic.
Others call for the end of SCOTUS. Even though they are written into the constitution, this is not the country our forefathers envisioned…that’s probably correct. I don’t think they’ve had this in mind since we stopped employing children, owning minorities, or let women…I don’t know, think, maybe? I’m pretty sure we turned their minds to jelly with manifest destiny or just inventing our way to jet lag. They were ignorant white men who lived before radio, so let’s cut them some slack, they were no Isaac Asimov so they probably didn’t see this (waves hand around the room at everything) coming.
Look, I’m not saying I don’t read the news. I keep up as much as the average guy, but my time isn’t spent railing against freedom. I don’t waste my breath spouting threats of setting myself on fire if gays get licenses. I don’t claim that this nation is now less free because states now need to recognize gay unions. I don’t spend my time slighting a group that wants nothing more than equal standing. I don’t have time for that, I live in Portland. I’ve got a hackerspace open house to attend. I’ve got to find the city’s best thai food, try all the beers in the WW summer rundown. Need to check off as many to-dos for the summer before the rains set in. There’s the bite and the beer festival coming up. Shoot, when is MFNW? Wait, did I miss WTF? Damn.
Portland keeps me busy, keeps me insulated from the hate, and has for better or worse, made me not a more tolerant person, but an indifferent person; it’s your life, and frankly I am too busy to spend my time trying to keep people marginalized. Gay marriage isn’t a thing here. Ted Cruz and the bigots were just the last to get the hashtag, just like racists were the last to get the message before them. History doesn’t smile kindly on those that were the last to know. Darkest hours don’t come in rainbow colors, folks, so let’s tone down the rhetoric. Now if you’ll excuse us, but Portland will go back to snickering about how ridiculous you all sound and get our tickets to the next awesome thing we do that everyone is equally invited to attend.