Sexual Semantics…

During my class this evening, a thought entered my head. (No need to start gritting your teeth folks, this isn’t leading to a pun. At least, I don’t think it will. My mind works in mysterious and frightening ways…)
The class was discussing and listing points of diversity as they pertained to integrating into a school’s curriculum. One of the items listed was sexual orientation. The application and understanding of what diversity actually is is not the point of my thought here. This is (mostly) a semantics question, however it is indeed interwoven into teaching this aspect of humanity.

First of all, I pose the question, can we come up with a different term than ‘sexual orientation’. One point for asking is just that it is so bloody long. Under the heading of diversity, which really means differences in culture when it’s boiled down, one gets race, ethnicity, gender, language, etc. Then there’s the big sexual orientation. I guess I can’t really complain about the length, because we also use the term socioeconomic status. Of course, that could be simplified to be wealth, but too often that term means the abundance of, not the last thereof.

Anyway, next on my mental ramblings. My big hang up here is the sexual half of the term. Yes, one’s gaiety or straightitude relates to one’s sexuality. But I think the integration of the word sex into one’s identity throws things off. This becomes an accentuation of some people’s problems with sex education in schools as well. And I think that to better ease, or at least deceive, some minds into handling gay relationships is to remove sex from the equation. Once you remove the idea of two people of the same sex having sex with one another and leave it alone as an idea of two people in love (yes, I’m limiting my arguments to monogamy for the sake of simplicity), it’s a much easier thing to grasp and tolerate.

I think part of what brings this whole thing to a head for me is part of the context in which sexual orientation in education was brought up. We were presented with a scenario of a 4th Grade teacher explaining to his class about peoples’ differences and to make a point brought up the fact he was gay. Very well then. Of course, the uproar ensued (in this scenario) and we were placed on the group to figure out how to handle this and integrate teaching sexual orientation in the curriculum.

So my mind immediately went to my kids. As a parent, how would I want this to be taught in school? Mainly, I’d prefer it not to be ‘taught’. I’d rather it just ‘be’. I’d rather my son go over to Jimmy’s house, whose daddies are John and James, and that’s just that (other than my wanting to meet any parents of the house where my kid is playing). But since we still have to learn to tolerate, let’s figure out how.

This is about the point where I decided, at least for the elementary ages, I want the relationship desired to be separate from sex desired. A nine year old, I think, is better served not knowing about sex at all, let alone the variety of methods in which is occurs. So leave that out. I think it’s best explained that this person’s mommy wanted to be a mommy with another mommy, rather than be a mommy with a daddy. Of course, that lends itself to the other can of worms that lots of kids have a mommy who is an alone mommy whose situation may or may not have been a choice.

At least you can see the level of thought I’m working at. I’d even prefer to not bring up that some girls like other girls. But that may just be my stickler viewpoint of kids avoiding relationships of any nature outside of friendships until they are in their late teen years (or just my personal naivety through those ages).

This is all nice and roundabout back to the term sexual orientation. To teach this relationship preference (preference is a poor word too, since it sounds like a choice, and this is I guess only a choice of who you want to be with, not what you find attractive). I think at least relationship preference is better phrasing for children. Perhaps familial preference? It can at least be there promoting a solid family structure.

Any ideas, folks?

This is an open and vague question, really. It all can get sticky fast, and I didn’t even touch on how this is a different aspect of diversity from all others, since it occurs in all populations and manifests differently in different cultures.

Of course, maybe we can just leave it to advertising companies:

(I think this ad is fabulous. Mum’s accent puts it over the top for me.)


From my four year old son, right now:
“Dad, we’re eating out?”

“Yeah, we’re going to eat at Target.”

“Aawwww!” (grumbles off)

At this point he’s playing on the floor for a minute.


“Excuse you!?”

I turn around as I say this… to see him tapping his head against a fort made of boxes.

Quickly trying to regain a modicum of composure, “I’ve told you not to use your head like that!”

My wife was laughing hysterically (her words) the entire time. I think the lad may have been right the first time.

Rattling Around…

I don’t know whether to be proud or afraid after my last post. Nice to know my fan base, if it can so be called, is brutally honest.
I’ve had lots of things rattling around in my mind as of late, and I’ve been bouncing around my house like a madman. Over the long weekend, I tore into my house. I moved lots of furniture, and we moved the little lady into her room. She’s gotten too big for her bassinet and has been sleeping in her crib for a week now. We’re beyond lucky that she has not put up a fuss about where she sleeps at all. The bassinet is now dismantled and waiting to be either borrowed or stored.

Moving her into her room meant the wife and I got to reclaim our own room, which is wonderful. Granted, I felt bad that our little girl was all alone in the dark of her room, but I think the peace of less clutter in our own space helps calm all of us. I did some furniture shuffling in our room to get all my possessions into a single area so I’m not walking around the bed between grabbing my wallet and grabbing my belt. Of course, all that means I’m still relegated to my six by six foot space. Marriage sure is funny.

I also juggled around the living room. I took out the very ugly book shelf (the ‘naughty shelf’ as some know it) and moved it downstairs. I also moved the glider into the vacant space in our room. This opened up the living room a lot. It looks quite sparse due to the lack of an ugly shelf against the wall, but we’ll soon fill that with a long quilt rack that will have a quilt rotation of about a century at the rate Gram is going (love you, Mom!)

Downstairs has remained relatively unchanged. I plan on moving out the exercise bike and the increasingly foul-looking blue chair that we picked up off the side of the road when we moved in. To replace these, I have the love seat that matches the couch and ottoman already down there, so all will be well in the end.

Part of all this moving has stemmed from my own frustrations about my home. Since before the baby arrived, it had become increasingly cluttered with no cure in sight. So now that I’ve been home for a month, I think it finally got to me. I’ve been moving and cleaning and sorting.

At least one good thing has come out of it: I’ve starting working toward running every other day. It makes for a nice way to easily get out of the house and into my own head for forty minutes. I just put on my running shoes and head out the door. I am not quite up for running the whole time yet, but I’m working on a progression of walking and running. Every week I do more running and less walking in between short runs. Eventually I will be doing solid time, probably by the end of the summer. Only tricky part has been my iPod shuffle coming unclipped while I’m running. At least it’s there and it gives me the chance to dig into some music while I’m out, another thing I’ve severely lacked since moving out here.

Change is in the air, folks. Also, around here, the smell of grilled meat and fireworks. For in the Midwest, fireworks don’t happen on the 4th; it’s a season.

SCOTUS Commentary…

Last week, the Supreme Court made a huge decision on the Second Amendment through the court case DC v Heller. What they decided was the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is applicable as an individual right, not a communal right (ie, via a militia of some kind). From what I’ve read, this discrepancy has been up in the air for over a century, and really since the thing was written in the first place, poorly I might add.
What are implications of this? Firstly, the point of the case found that the Washington DC ban on handguns was found unconstitutional. The law was fundamentally flawed because DC, if you’re unfamiliar with American geography, is a small parcel of land surrounded by other states that don’t have the ban. So really, picking up a handgun if you wanted it, was easily done.

Secondly, the larger implication is that the personal ownership of a firearm is guaranteed. Further, the amendment should be read as a personal right to protect oneself and one’s family and property. This protection should also be understood as against both personal attacks as well as tyranny by the government. The reasoning behind this point comes from English rule and our Colonial days, and the fact the Second Amendment was putting into written law a long-standing belief.

So far as how much Heller changes things, no one seems to be certain. I know I am still up in the air. I always have been able to see both sides of the argument. But one interesting thing has come out of reading commentary on the ruling: comparisons between the US and Europe, with the US having a lower crime rate.

Apparently, we have a much higher homicide rate, possibly due to our right to lethal weaponry. However, overall crime is lower. I don’t think by much (I’m writing this on hearsay, I haven’t read any numbers). That being said, Europe has the higher rate of injuries from crimes, America has the higher rate of deaths. That just seemed interesting to me.

Another thing I have read several times is the fact that guns do not change the crime rate. They may affect the lethality of the crimes, true. But there is also the factor of victims being less likely to fight back against someone with a gun, and the factor that those who defended themselves with a gun without firing a shot (warded off their attackers) aren’t likely to report it.

Now comes to my opinion on the topic of gun control. I will admit, I have argued in the past, usually as the devil’s advocate to my father’s opinions (always in good fun, Dad), that the well-regulated militia clause of the Second Amendment was the lynchpin of the whole thing. And now that we built ourselves a standing volunteer army, there really is no need for we civilians to own firearms anymore.

I have indeed been persuaded by the opinions of the court, and will defend an individual’s right to own a gun to protect their family and home. However, it was not solely the court that has swayed me in this direction. My adolescence falling to my adulthood during the anti-liberty hell of the Bush Administration also shifted my views. Now I am quite ready to maintain a couple of arms in my own home should the government attempt to stifle my right or access to free speech. And at this point, I do feel we should take up arms against the evils that have been perpetrated in our good name.

Sorry, I digress.

Now, on to more of my views. I am very glad that the ruling still left plenty of room for regulation of firearms and their use. I will fully admit that the presence of a gun culture in the United States is valid and very real. Anyone who has existed outside of full urban areas for more than just traveling to another urban area will know this. There is a history to this continent that cannot be told without the long arm to one’s side.

I must stipulate at this point, I do mean long arms. I think that the right to own a rifle or shotgun should not be infringed. The West was won with the shotgun in the hands of settlers (great for hunting food and home defense). Wars have long been won with rifles. Handguns, while occasionally handy, were not at the fore of such things.

To me, pistols just kill the people around you. That’s why, in principal, I am okay with the idea of banning handguns. The idea of regular folks walking around with little to no training and, I do partly blame the media for blowing bad stuff out of proportion, jittery that everyone they run into is a potential mugger/rapist/murderer is frankly frightening. It calls to my mind this scenario:

I will openly admit, though, that since handguns do exist, and that since they exist in the hands of criminals, I think that we civilians may be better off having them available to us. Still, everyone walking around with a glock is frightening.

I think my biggest feeling of fear comes from knowing there are people handling these weapons without any training. There are some absolutely basic things that everyone must know. My dad, though thoroughly capable as he was, could have taught me himself how to handle a gun, put my butt into a hunter’s training course as soon as I was old enough to get a license.

So I say if people have to have licenses to handle the biggest killers in the country, cars, they should have licenses to handle firearms. If you are going to drive a car, you better have it on you. If you are going to use a gun, you better have it on you. If you’re going to drive a big truck, you will need to have extra training and a higher-level license. If you are going to carry a concealed handgun, you better have a higher-level license. That’s a big reassurance to me that the person holding the thing has been trained to.

Though I will ask, please, for the love of all things good in this world, make sure the license requires better than a 70% accuracy on the test to pass. Even upping it to 80%, a lousy B-, would make me feel better (for both tests, really). And there should well be a child’s permit alongside it, where they begin training to handle firearms, but not without an adult presence until some specific age. I am not sure which, but I am sure that there can be permits graded by age alongside caliber so that a twelve year old is just handling a 22 squirrel shooter out on the ranch.

I am very glad that, again, the court ruling allowed enough free space to permit the creation of licensing without infringing on the Second Amendment.

I do hope that, in progressing from Heller, cool heads prevail. I hate to see it all boiled down to a culture war between those people that like guns and those that don’t, as it often does. I would much rather see the discussion be, We as Americans have a very ancient right to own guns; how can we best ensure that they are reasonably accounted for and safely used?