Friday, November 07, 2008

Colored Underpants

Elections are finally over and here in New Hampshire, perhaps the most politically involved state I've ever been around, the mailmen can finally seek treatment for the hernias they developed delivering daily junk from every conceivable candidate. Strangers with mysterious lists can stop ferreting out our house, mispronouncing our names, and entreating us to "get out the vote" and leave us to our seclusion. Next election I may rent a three-headed pit bull and install him at the base of the driveway.

For years I've been somewhat numbed by the two party hammerfest they both pull on each other. I no longer believe in Democrats or Republicans. I'm not too sure about Ralph Nader, either, and the Libertarians need to keep their candidates out of federal penitentiaries if they want to gain credibility with me. The truly disturbing thing to me, though, is the passage of anti-gay-marriage amendments in Arizona, Florida and California.

I am neither for or against these kinds of rights. It's like asking me if I think people in town really ought to be wearing brown shoes instead of black, or white after Labor Day. It's another individual's business, not mine. What's been missed as far as I can tell, what I've seen no one discuss on any news show, is the legitimacy of asking the question.

When the founding fathers put together our system of government, they feared what they called "the tyranny of the masses." If you put up for question the rights of any minority group to the majority, what is likely to happen? The minority gets trounced time and again. This is why we have a representative government based on democratic principles as opposed to a purely democratic government: American society was not intended to be dictated by "the tyranny of the masses."

Arguing whether or not marriage should be between a man and a woman only, or what the consequences of a society where gay marriage is allowed would be, or what color underwear the pizza cook is wearing, serve to cloud what is perhaps the most salient question: what right have we, the straight majority, have to dictate the rights of the gay minority?

The answere is that we don't, or we shouldn't. The framers didn't think so, and I don't either. How can these amendments even be put to referendum? How can we even ask the question? Nothing would make me happier than to see a judicial challenge make its way to the Supreme Court and have a ruling invalidating these state amendments because even proposing them is unconstitutional.

I have no idea whether the language of the Constitution actually supports this or not, but one can hope. I think we've let ourselves down by compromising our society through ignorance of how our society was supposed to be structured. Government should protect the rights of minority groups from the majority. What happened this week just isn't what America is supposed to be. It makes me sad.

Dark Matter

There are news reports out that cosmologists may finally be able to "see" dark matter by using gamma rays. The existence of dark matter has been postulated for years even though it cannot be seen any way. It's believed to exist because the movement of galaxies seem to be affected by a certain amount of gravity that cannot be accounted for by any observable mass.

This is all well and cool, but I'm kind of hoping there is no actual dark matter. How cool would it be if the source of gravity were not unseen mass but something completely unforeseen? Collision points with extra-dimensional universes? Some new branch of physics where very, very large bodies have their own rules, like the opposite of quantum physics?

I'd love to see the mystery solved, I just want the solution to live up to the romance of the problem.