23rd: When you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always show pity to the suffering offender.
I'm a proud
15 September 2004
My father may have had a lot of negative qualities, but there were a couple of good ones that it's nice to remember.
For one thing, he was never one to remain silent when there was a cause he believed in. He wasn't one to carry picket signs or be hauled off to jail, but he could write, and write he did.
He was such a regular contributor to the Marin Independent Journal, that when he died they gave him a celebrity-type obituary.
One of his great successes was a stop sign. His house backed up onto Freitas Parkway, a very busy street which a lot of kids had to cross to get to school. Each day he'd watch these kids try to get across the street, dodging the cars that sped too fast down the parkway. He started a campaign to get a stop sign put in--and every time I stop at that corner, I think that he was the one who got that stop sign installed. I kind of think of it as his legacy to San Rafael.
It is one of his traits that I apparently have adopted. I understand the "empowerment" of the faceless protest. I may be too scared / embarrassed / terrified / shy or whatever to get up on a stage and shout my feelings to a crowd of people, like David did here last week at the Counter Convention rally. But I can write a damn good letter to the editor, and have done so on many occasions.
For many years, the Christmas season started with my annual letter to the editor about the Boy Scout Christmas tree lot, and how the Scouts discriminate and how people should buy their trees elsewhere. It was a hot war for a long time, but the oomph seemed to go out of it. Both sides were going through the motions. There was nothing new to say, and last year I didn't write my letter. The Scout lot had lots and lots of trees left over as Christmas approached and I kind of figured that the years of debate had a somewhat long-lasting effect.
I frequently write about gay issues and generally get feedback on those letters, though my most vocal critic, a guy named Don Sorensen, died a few months ago. Don would write to me and then call and leave nasty messages on Ellen and Shelly's answering machine. But Don is gone--and all the rest of the feedback I've received has been generally positive.
I also got good response when I supported the dog park at the Davis Cemetery, a letter that got me invited to the heated meeting about that issue (we lost, but we were very vocal).
Last week I wrote about a letter that had appeared in the paper. Some folks had published an obituary for their dog. This town can be so petty! Someone sent a lengthy letter to the editor talking about how an obituary for a dog "demeaned" the regular obituaries. In my letter, I said that it's very possible that this dog was loved far more than some of the people whose obituaries are printed and that to demean the grief of the people who posted the obituary was highly insensitive.
I've had 3 calls about that letter, and an email as well, all very supportive. The first guy who called said that he always reads me letters and agrees with me right across the board.
Nice to know. I don't know that it has any effect, but it's my father's genes--I need to speak out, and am too timid to do it in person.
The genes were passed along to Ned, who became famous for his letters to the editor here in Davis. Ned's were generally more informed and better researched than mine were. I spoke from the heart, Ned had the facts to back him up. People have told me frequently that they miss Ned's letters now that he's moved to Sacramento.
Yesterday I started a campaign to get recognition for Shelly and Ellen. They have worked tirelessly, not only for gay issues (though, of course, mostly for gay issues), but also with the homeless, with abortion causes, for voter rights, etc. A full page of activities. I have nominated t hem for one of the annual city awards several times, but this time I'm making a concerted effort and got a kind of verbal resume from Ellen and really backed up my nomination of the two of them. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, since the initial response I got from the chairman of the committee was a somewhat positive.
Years ago, I set about on a campaign to get an award for a teacher at the high school. We got lots of lots of people to write in letters and it was a tremendous triumph when he actually won the award.
I'm hoping that we'll have the opportunity to experience that same triumph when Shelly and Ellen get their awards.
It's not a stop sign, but it would be every bit as satisfying!
Websites of the Day
Thanks to Jeannie, I've discovered a brand new group that is fighting to defeat Bush's reelection -- birders!
And for an almost totally non-political web page, but just heartwarming and darn cute, check this blog, especially the many photos and movies.