I was starting to feel straight guilt until I remembered that the anti-gay marriage referendum goes hand-in-hand with the ambition to conscript my womb — and after abortion is illegal, what about contraceptives? If society isn’t ready to ban contraception a la Catholic doctrine, we could certainly see health plans dropping it from their coverage. And as someone who has paid $30-40 a month for the pill when I was making $7/hour as a bookstore clerk, I recognize it as a tax on women.
Anyway, I got a physical reaction to the election—my eyes flared with conjunctivitis on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s going away now. But it felt like stigmata.
I wish I could do justice to my anger and your despair, Maggie, without sounding like a condescending liberal. But I am a condescending liberal. I think religion closes down the mind. I think reading the Bible when you could be reading Melville, Whitman, Stevens, et al., is just nonsensical. I think arguing for Creationism when science is full of fascinating facts and theories, is retarded. Didn’t the Greeks have a word to describe the pleasure of intellectual discovery or reason? (Homework question.)
For the record, my evangelical in-laws feel just as persecuted and oppressed as we do. That’s the irony. Remember all those rightwingnuts who actually object to the Patriot Act on the grounds that “the Christians are next”? I’m sure I do my part to foment these fears when I visit with the only grandchild that won’t grow up some kind of Christian. And we’re the only ones who live in NYC and the only ones who went to the Ivy League ... well, color me a demographic cliche! But I’m not making nice. I’m a poet; the future of my art depends on there being people who get intellectual pleasure from words and ideas that aren’t God-centered. I need to feel that there will be a future constituency for Melville and Dickinson, the difficult ones, the outsiders and the ones railing at God with their fists shaking at Heaven, or alternately, “this dividing and indifferent blue.” You know. The sky, repository of all ineffable ideals.
So, I repeat: I’m not making nice.