Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Derision 2008

If you haven't read this article on "rednecks" from the BBC, you need to. I can't guarantee you'll enjoy it, but you need to read it for a number of reasons.

- First, a big spanking to the BBC (though those Brits would probably enjoy that) for continuing to search out people and events that make America look like the land of the nutball and/or obnoxious cowboy dolt.

- I found the author's belief that the "liberal media elite" doesn't use the word "redneck" to "protect" rednecks' feelings to be very interesting. For starters, it's my understanding that the term "redneck" is just like the terms "queer" and the "n-word," which I dare not type lest the PC Police shut down my blog. Although the terms can be used within a community as identifiers or even affectionately, when those words are used outside the community to describe individuals inside the community, or the community itself, they are pejoratives (ooh, big word! Sorry, y'all!).

And, speaking from personal experience, there is another reason the "liberal media elite" does not use the word "redneck." When I was a music journalist a few years back, I reviewed a Green Day concert during the heyday of their song "American Idiot," which references "rednecks" in a pejorativ- oops, sorry, in a real mean way, them uppity sumsabitches. If you know anything about print journalism, you know the writer rarely writes the headlines, just the body of the article, and we rarely see the hed until it's in print. Well, when writing the headline, a well-meaning copy editor (the folks who write the headlines, among other things, like fact-checking and trimming) decided to toss in the word "redneck."

For the next week, I got very little work done because of the deluge of calls, e-mails, letters, death threats, local talk radio attacks on me, etc. When I said hey, I didn't write the headline, and I didn't see it till the next morning, when it was in the paper, and what's more I wouldn't have used that word, the attacks only got worse because I was then "a lying coward" and a "pandering liberal elite."

So I believe the "liberal media elite" shies from using the word "redneck" because it wants to get some work done and not spend its time fending off attacks from, well, angry rednecks.

- I find it interesting that, according to the author, rednecks are "suspicious of authority." Really. Perhaps being a little more suspicious of authority's lameass claim that Iraq had weapons of destruction mighta done them a li'l more good 'n' gotten a few less of their boys 'n' gals killed or maimed or messed up in th' head over there in eye-rack.

- Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the BBC story to me is that it's true... I'm not talking about the tiresome, sweeping generalizations or tedious attacks on the "liberal media elite" (zzzzzzz...). I'm talking about it pointing out Sarah Palin's appeal to a large number of Americans. Because, and this is where my heart breaks, I believe the lasting legacy of the Bush Administration has been to demonize the intelligent and the educated and make intellectual curiosity a crime against patriotism.


What's wrong with being smart, or working to be smarter? With going to the best schools your hard-working family can sacrifice to send you to? With working your ass off to learn and absorb as much knowledge as possible, to embrace Marie Curie's suggestion that "nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood"? Where's the crime in learning from history and developing the ability to reason?

You could hear it in every speech at the RNC, and in the tone of McCain's campaign... as an aside, I was going to vote for McCain back in 2000 and believe, had he actually been elected back then, the country would have been in better shape all the way around. But now that he's sold his soul, he can kiss my highly-educated vote good-bye.

And, for the record, I am not an Obamamaniac. I'm not wooed by his eloquence, though I do like the idea of having a president who can pronounce the word "nuclear" correctly. I don't think he'll get 20% of his agenda accomplished, and since, for me, plagiarism should be punishable by death, I'm not a fan of Biden, either (Obama's lifting of a friend's speech a while back is a lesser crime).

Once again, this November, I will be voting for the lesser of two evils.

But this is all on my mind because yesterday I registered to vote. That was interesting in itself. I went to the county courthouse with my form, printed from Colorado's state website, my passport, my Social Security Card and my Nevada driver's license, which I still have because it's still valid (I hate changing licences every time I move, which gets expensive) and because it is the Best. ID. Photo. Ever. I look like a model.

I give the clerk my application and ask "do you need to see my passport or Social Security Card?" She says no.

She reads over the application and hands it off to someone I can't see behind a cubicle wall. Then, suddenly, words are said and she comes tearing back around the corner.

"You're gettin' your Colorado ID today, right?" she asks, her tone suddenly anxious.

"You mean a Colorado driver's license?"

"Yeah. You're gonna get that done now, right?"

I say no, because there's nothing online that says I need one to vote, and on the application itself, it asks for your Colorado driver's license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number (I provided the latter).

This is, by the way, the same friendly clerk I met in February when I went to get my CO license plates. Now she was suddenly Regan (not the president... the chick in "The Exorcist".)

"You are committing a felony trying to register to vote without a Colorado ID!" she shrieks at me.


I wait for red lights to start flashing and alarms to go off and to be dragged off by armed thugs. Instead, the matronly chick behind the cubicle comes out, arms folded over her chest, and glares at me.

I say there is nothing on the website that says I need a Colorado driver's license to vote, that I have been living in Colorado since February.

"If you attempt to vote without a Colorado ID you will be committing a felony and face imprisonment," interrupts the Chick From Behind the Cubicle. She actually sneered at this point and added "That's right on the website."

Now, I actually read the damn voter registration info and didn't see anything about needing a driver's license. I thought there must be something I'm missing here, so I tried one more time, talking over her when she tried to interrupt me again.

"I just want to clarify that in order to vote, I need to have a Colorado driver's license. Is that correct, yes or no?"

"You need a Colorado ID!" they shriek in freakish unison.

"Ok... is there anything other than a Colorado driver's license that qualifies as a Colorado ID?" I ask, thinking that not everyone in Colorado drives.

Cubicle Harpy thinks it over and then says "Well, if you had something like a passport, you could use that."

Well, shucks, I don't have "something like a passport," I have an actual freakin' passport, which has been sitting on the counter in full view the entire time I'm having this conversation.

I hold it up and ask "so this is okay, even though it's issued merely by the federal government and not the state of Colorado?"

Yes, by then I was irked.

"Is it valid?" Cubicle Harpy snaps.

I told her it was, and could barely contain myself from adding that it was full of entry stamps and visas not only to socialist countries, but even a few Islamist countries and countries with real funny letterin' that just don' look right.

"Fine," she snaps and retreats to her cubicle with my registration form. How much do you want to bet she threw it out? We'll see come November. If I'm denied the right to vote when I go to the polls, the gods help her.


Dr. Virago said...

You know what's amusingly coincidental? I'll tell you what...when Another Damned Medievalist linked to that redneck article the other day on her LiveJournal, I read it and thought, "Huh. I thought redneck was a pejorative. Well, it certainly was taken so when the Pastry Pirate was saddled with that unfortunate headline a few years ago." Seriously, that's what I thought. My worlds are colliding.

On a more serious subject, the photo ID thing pisses me off in a major way. Think about all the people who *don't* have a passport or a state ID of any kind. According to an article I just read in the NY Review of Books this morning, in Indiana, where photo ID is also required, it's more than 10% of the state! (I think the exact number was either 13 or 14%, but I can't recall.) And, of course, the people most likely to be disenfranchised by not having such ID are the poor, the elderly, and/or racial minorities.

I'm having flashbacks to 2000.

zeina said...

Can I watch when/if you give her a good b*ll*cking?!

The Pastry Pirate said...

Zeina: bring your own popcorn and I promise you a front row seat.

DrV: I can't speak for all of Colorado, but at least in my county all the poor and elderly drive (you can't get by without wheels here) and the only minorities are the illegal migrant ranchhands and farmers, and they'll be gone with the snows in a couple weeks. I know it sounds harsh, but I'm jus' sayin'.

Upon further reflection, I wonder if their shrillness may have been due to some warning sent out by the state elections folks (just guessing here) to be on the lookout for carpetbaggers, since Colorado is considered a battleground state (or at least likes to think it is). After all, the last place I was registered to vote (written on the application) was Wisconsin and I had a Nevada driver's license, and the deadline to register to vote here is just a couple weeks away.