Friday, November 28, 2008

Free the YPMB!

The Game (always capitalized) between Yale and hahvud has a long and storied history, albeit most of the stories involve alcohol. Shortly after this past Saturday's Game, the YPMB alum network lit up with a rapid fire of emails. Tom Duffy, the director of Bands at Yale, had suspended the YPMB (Yale Precision Marching Band). The reason given was that one of the props used in the Yale halftime show at The Game, a replica of the Berlin wall, had numerous obscenities painted on it, notably "fuck harvard."

OK, it's rude. It's juvenile. But it's also something that Mr. Duffy should have checked prior to the actual show! If he had seen the prop and said "paint over the swear words," then he would have had a reason to punish the Band members, at least those who made the props, when they appeared in the show. However, punishing the entire Band for the work of a few is wrong, particularly when no warning was given. Also, by suspending the winter season, the actual people who made the props are not the ones being punished! The Band does not use props at the basketball and hockey games that Mr. Duffy is cancelling. Not one of the people being punished is responsible for the problem.

The other point I want to make about this is that I only know about this problem because Mr. Duffy got so upset. I'm in frikin' Istanbul! As far as I can tell from talking to friends who were there and from reading the YDN and New Haven Register articles, no one in the stands saw the obscene words. The only person complaining is Mr. Duffy himself; the first that any of us heard about this was in his own email. And what he's complaining about is language that can be seen on t-shirts throughout the stadium itself. This story apparently made the front page of the New Haven Register (as one person commented, it must have been a slow news day).

I care about this because I am a YPMB alum. I love the Band; it was a fantastic part of my Yale experience, and I am still friends with many of my fellow Bandies. Tom Duffy, please let it go.

For something that will cheer you up after this, please see:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Prop 8 -Everybody Settle Down!

Hi folks,

Like most progressives, I am disappointed that Prop 8 passed in California on Tuesday, banning gay marriage. I have been a supporter of full civil rights for the LGBT community for years, primarily through Lambda Legal, and this is a discouraging setback. However, I am further disheartened to see all of the HATE in the blogs, facebook sites, and rallies, particularly toward the Mormons.

Yes, you have valid feelings. Yes, you have the right to express them. However, these nasty attacks to NOT help the cause! Look at the successful civil rights movements in history. Obama is president-elect today because Martin Luther King was NOT hateful and violent! His inspiring example shamed white Americans into acting in accord with the best aspects of their characters and up to their high ideals. Ghandi did the same in India; the British public could not stomach being on the morally wrong side of the conflict. I believe that a separate Palestinian state would have come into being decades ago if Hamas had used non-violent measures.

Focus on the positive; don't frighten those who oppose you; it will only harden their opinions against you and scare others into joinig them. Use cold, hard legal action to deal with those who try to hurt you; if the LDS church has been acting as a political entity, take them to court and have their non-profit status revoked. Use advertising to sway opinions, and let every public action taken in the name of this cause reflect the best of our ideals.

The cause of gay marriage is the same as interracial marriage four decades ago, when that was illegal in half the states in the US. Basically, it comes down to this; who is the better judge of who can and cannot marry; the individual or the government? While there will be setbacks along the way, take comfort in the fact that this cause will eventually succeed, and future generations will look at the current situation with the same indignant sense of "why was that allowed?" that we share for the "back of the bus" days of segregation. Time is on our side; the younger generations of Americans are far more accepting of GLBT rights than their parents and grandparents, and more and more of them are voting every year. President Obama may have the opportunity to appoint up to three new Supreme Court justices in his first term alone, and the Democratic Congress will almost certainly approve his choices, who will likely be left-of-center, brillant, and extremely well-qualified.

So, take a deep breath, and let's behave intelligently, responsibly, and persuasively. It will all work out OK in the end.