Sunday, April 26, 2009

Is anyone else confused?

Okay, so I know it's been a while, but I'm just going to try to pick this up where I left off. I'm sorry, you forgive me, and blah, blah, blah.

I have a confession to make, and I probably should've mentioned this earlier. This admission is really pretty mortifying so it's going to be hard for me to even type...Okay...Here it goes...

I didn't vote in the last election.

There! I said it! I didn't vote in one of the most important elections in the history of this country. Before you try to stick a flag pin on my lapel in an attempt to save my mortal, American soul, just let me try to explain myself. When the election was going on I was going to school and working for what felt like every second of my life. I finally got around to filling out a voter's application and wouldn't you know it, my stupid cat, Murray peed on it. I know I should've just gotten another one (believe me, I couldn't send it in the way it was, regardless of how punk rock that would've been), but I was so BUSY I tell you! I was completely swamped with useless tasks and I just didn't have the time to. That being said, I am truly repentant.

What I'd really like to address here however is not my personal mistakes, but...Well...Someone else's (Hey, I could be a politician!). Specifically the people who decide on the wording for the propositions on the voting ballots. Even though I didn't vote (uhhh, are we on that subject again?) I did get a look at the sample ballots, and I don't think I'm alone in this sentiment...I thought the props were worded in a way that was really confusing. One that seemed to create a lot of confusion in particular was Proposition 2. No, not the one in California that raised the living standards for millions of farm animals (Cheers to that, by the way), Florida's Prop 2, aka The "Marriage Protection Amendment", which officially banned legal unions in the state...for everyone. Obviously this Proposition was aimed at gay couples, but it affects a lot of other demographics too.

I had it on pretty good authority that the idea here was to vote "No" on Prop 2 if you wanted to keep your right to a civil union, gay or straight. A few people that I talked to seem to think otherwise. It passed by a somewhat meek 62.1%. Now legal unions are not considered valid in the state of Florida, and I can't help but wonder; Did this proposition pass because people were confused about what they were actually saying with their votes? Check it out.

"This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

That's the wording from the ballot. I got this once I read it a couple times, but vocabulary has always been my thing. Let's suppose someone who's more of a mathematical thinker has to decide how to place his/her vote based on how they interpret this...Aside from the fact that it contains the word "equivalent", I don't think it's going to mean much to someone who prefers long division to crossword puzzles. It starts out pretty simply, but in the end it gets kind of muddled.

So what's the point in wording documents that are meant to be interpreted by the general public in a way that's so...Lawyer-esque? I think that changing the way that the propositions are written would be a small but important step towards improving the way this democracy machine runs.

As always, take care of each other,

Brittany Abstract xo

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mohawks and bibles and such.

I'm going to Kentucky today and I will be there for a week. It's been years since I've been up there, and I have to say that I'm not looking forward to explaining my tattoos and mohawk to my ultra conservative, super religious family. I'm not sure what I'm going to do if I can't make it to a computer while I'm there. I can deal with no blogging or online communication for a week, but no Democracy Now??? I don't think so.

You'll be hearing from me in about a week if I survive.

Take care of each other.

Friday, December 26, 2008

You call it terrorism, I call it direct action.

So I've been thinking a lot about what the FBI calls "domestic terrorism" lately(this is a shining example of my interminable holiday spirit). I'm not in much of a writing mood but I really wanted to touch on this issue for a minute. When a group of people steal and/or cause property damage in the name of a social cause, The Law calls it "special interest domestic terrorism". It would just be petty theft and common vandalism, but the fact that it's done in an effort to push for social change makes it terrorism.

"Terrorism" is such a loosely defined term, who's to say what is and isn't? Personally, I define terrorism as direct acts of violence towards a specific group of people in an attempt to intimidate and cause actual physical and psychological harm. Groups like The ALF(Animal Liberation Front) and The ELF(Environmental Liberation Front)are infamous for destroying property and stealing from large companies in order to make their strategies less profitable. Genocide is terrorism. Imperialism is terrorism. When the police beat up an innocent kid for trying to protest in the street, that's terrorism, but smashing up some lab equipment and tagging a few walls does not in my opinion constitute as terrorism.

I support groups that break the law to make a difference. While I don't believe in violence, I believe that vandalism and thievery are perfectly acceptable(I'm a punk rock kid, what do you expect?),especially when it's in the name or positive social change. That's what's been on my mind lately, and I thought I'd share it with you.

Take care of each other

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tim DeChristopher is my new crush.

I just finished watching the 12/22/09 edition of Democracy Now(it's a good thing too, I needed my fix)and my favorite feature was Amy Goodman's interview with a Southern Utah student named Tim Dechristopher. Dechristopher sneaked into the recent auction of oil drilling rights to several pieces of land in Utah posing as a bidder. Because the people in charge of the auction didn't check the credentials of potential bidders, he was able to win about 1.7 million dollars worth of land and drive up the prices of the land he didn't win, costing oil companies millions of dollars extra on their land purchases. Tim obviously isn't good for 1.7 million, as most college students struggle to keep their gas tanks full, so the tentative plan is to hold another auction for the land. Fortunately, there's a problem with that.

For legal reasons the land cannot be re auctioned until about February or so. Why is this particularly good news you ask? Well I'll tell you. The Bush administration authorized the land auction, and as you may recall 1/20/09 marks the end of said Under the Obama administration, there is a chance that the drilling rights will never be sold at all. I would like to emphasize that my words were "there is a chance", as we obviously cannot predict what will actually happen under the upcoming Obama administration. Barack Obama has promised to put greater focus on environmental issues(than the Bush/Cheney team?That shouldn't be difficult), and I think that's reason enough to hold out a little hope.

In short, Tim Dechristopher may very well have saved this land from being drilled, and he's got scores of support for his actions all over the country. This just goes to show that when you do the right thing in this country, people will usually respond accordingly.It seems that the spirit of American dissent is not dead after all.Tim Dechristopher is my new crush because he makes me feel a strange, unfamiliar emotion...Could it be pride in my country? Hmmmm...

Take care of each other.

PS. For the record, I value other people's opinions and I don't assume that I'm absolutely right about everything! I would love to hear your opinion, no matter who you are. Leave comments, e-mail me, whatever. I'm always up for friendly debate.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The hills are alive with the sound of dissent!

Well today was...err...uneventful. I spent a large portion of the day sleeping. Without my usual bike ride and dose of international current event mayhem via Democracy Now(they take the weekends off and I hate it!)I was feeling rather unstimulated, but then I remembered that there is so much to be excited about right now when it comes to music.

The Warped Tour 2009 band list is being constructed as you read this and an incomplete version has been released on the official website and myspace. I am so happy to say that this year both Anti-Flag and Bad Religion are on board! I have no idea where I will actually be by the time summer 09 rolls around, but I think it's safe to say that I would travel to see Anti-Flag and Bad Religion on the same day.


Speaking of Anti-Flag, another thing that is worthy of excitement right now is "Demand in D.C", a show that will be taking place in Washington D.C on inauguration day(for those of you that have been living in caves, that's 1/20/09). Playing with Anti-Flag will be United Nations, The A.K.As, and Ruiner(all lovely musical acts indeed!)Along with music, the work of artists and photographers will be featured and rumor has it that some really cool things will be auctioned off at the show to support cancer research. I've been crunching the numbers trying to find a way that I can swing this, but I'm not sure yet. If you can go, DO IT. Tickets are only $10! There's no excuse not to! Anti-Flag is currently working on a new album and you can check on their progress via their blog "There Is No War Without Warriors". I've been following it, so I'm updated every time one of them so much as sneezes.


Also, Billy Talent is working on a new album right now, which has got me all kinds of excited. If you haven't heard their new song 'Turn Your Back' featuring Anti-Flag(have you heard of them?)you absolutely need to check it out. It's being sold as a single on itunes and all the proceeds are going to Red Cross. Who knows? Maybe they will be promoting said new album via Warped Tour 09? They also just released a live DVD called '666'. I haven't seen it yet but it looks promising.


I just love bands that have something important to say.

Take care of each other and support good music!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nationalism: What's love got to do with it?

Today my best friend graduated with her associates degree. Of course I took the perilous trip down to Florida's middle in order to witness this milestone(actually my official mission was to help her keep her sanity among overenthusiastic family members). If I told you it went smoothly, I'd be lying. She dropped her "high honors" ropes before she walked on stage, her car broke down before we made it out of the parking lot afterward, and in a battle with The FL's oppressive humidity, my mohawk lost(erectile dysfunction, anyone?). It was a really fun day though, and my camera caught every strange, surprising moment. I have the coolest BFF ever and I'm really proud of her. Alright, it's time to make the transition from personal to political. Ready? The beginning of the ceremony was marked with....what else? A blatant display of patriotism in the form of The Pledge of Allegiance.

Hundreds of people pledged their allegiance to a piece of fabric and I glanced around the room uncomfortably. I stopped saying "The Pledge" when I was in first grade. I haven't thought about the events that prompted that decision very much since, but for some reason this particular instance brought the memory to the surface of my mind.

Can I get some cheesy 90's blurry screen, mystical music, dream sequence effects here?

A boy in my class came to school one day, very proud to tell everyone in the class that he had valuable knowledge to impart on all of us. "I know what 'I pledge allegiance' means", he boasted. It was then that I realized that I said the words every day, but I hadn't the slightest inkling as to what they actually meant. "Alright", I answered, taking the bait, "What does it mean then?" "It means you would die for the flag.", he replied. I must have looked confused because then he clarified, "It means you would die for your country."

At this point my head was spinning. Were the little flag hanging in the classroom and America the same thing? More importantly, why would my parents and teachers ask me to swear to die for either of them, and under what circumstances would I have to fulfill this promise? I took the whole thing quite literally. I was six years old. I didn't know yet that there were other ways to interpret it. The next time we said The Pledge in class I glanced around to see if the other kids were still saying it even after learning this new information. The teacher caught me turning around and told me that it was offensive to those that died for our freedom to show disrespect to the flag(mind you I was still a little foggy on the whole "the flag is a symbol of America" thing). That night I had a horrible nightmare. *George Washington came back from the dead and made me build monuments for him around the playground because he caught me looking around the room during The Pledge, and he wasn't pleased.

"America:Love it or leave it." That's what they say, but it seems to me that Nationalism has more to do with fear than love. I started saying the pledge because I was afraid of being punished, and I stopped saying it because I was afraid of being asked to deliver on the promise I was making. For a while I mouthed the words along with the class without actually saying them, then as I became older(and more defiant) I gave up that charade and just stood there during The Pledge. By my senior year I had stopped standing up altogether. Most of my teachers didn't care, but some were genuinely offended. A substitute teacher threw her hands up one day and remarked, "If you hate it so much here, why don't you just move to Iraq where they don't have any freedom?!" I just laughed and opened my textbook. How can you argue with that?

Make no mistake, I love America. She's the prettiest, most fucked up, troubled lady I know. That being said, nationalism is dangerous. It tends to hang out with religious fundamentalism because it has the same goal; Take care of those who are like you and hate anyone who isn't. I don't have time for that and quite frankly, America doesn't have time for it either. No one should pledge allegiance to fear and hate. I will not be afraid. I refuse to hate.

That's it.

*I wish I could tell you I made this up. The symbolism would be a little brilliant if made up intentionally. Alas, it's an actual dream I had when I was six. I was a fucked up kid.


Congratulations Sarah!

Take care of each other.

Friday, December 19, 2008

LGBT:Time To Rally The Troops!

Okay, let's do this. It's time to get the obligatory "first post" out of the way. I guess this is supposed to be an ice breaker, so I'll set you up with some background information. I'm twenty years old, I live in a small, conservative town (I'm currently drawing up escape plans), and I am about as lost as they come. I'm a vegetarian for moral purposes and I am pretty confident that I always will be. I love punk rock music. I was given the moniker "Brittany Abstract" in high school, and it is in reference to my preference for abstract art. Without further ado, I would like to move on to discussing my first gripe for this blog.

I'm sure this hasn't escaped anyone's attention, but President Elect Barack Obama's choice to make Pastor Rick Warren part of the inauguration ceremony has not been well received. In fact, he really hasn't made much of an effort to get on the gay community's good side at all. While I never expected him to openly support the LGBT community in it's efforts, I also hoped he wouldn't completely alienate them. Oops.

I understand what Obama was thinking when he made this decision. He is clearly trying to create a bipartisan atmosphere in order to get former McCain supporters behind him, but as I'm sure he is beginning to discover, there is a fine line between gaining conservative support and effectively disenfranchising an entire demographic. I support the spirit of open mindedness that our soon-to-be president is trying to introduce to the White House, but this may have been a tad too much, way too soon. Fortunately this is just a ceromonial thing, and while we should make it clear to him that we don't approve of the message that he will be sending on January twentieth, we really shouldn't dwell on it too much and instead focus on more pragmatic issues (I don't actually have to tell you which issues I'm referring to, do I?).

The bottom line for Gay America is this; If ever there was a time to unify and stand up for your rights, this would be it. I'm serious about this. I plan on supporting the LGBT community in any way I can, but the truth is that nothing is going to happen unless you put aside irrelevant differences and make yourselves a force to be reckoned with. It's crunch time, and if we don't convince our leaders that things need to be done differently around here, the consequences could be quite grave.

I encourage everyone, gay or otherwise to visit to get involved in this issue. I would also like to encourage everyone to tell Obama exactly how they feel about this and every other decision he makes while in office.

Take care of each other.