[oasis] [columns]

Matt Mitchell

January 1997

Of, By, and For the People

Salutations to you all! My name's Matt, and I am writing this wee article to...well, I don't really know why. I've read the contributions of others to Oasis and I feel like I have some meaningful/entertaining/subversive things to add -- so sit back and enjoy the show.

On Tuesday of this week (December 10) I performed (can't think of a better word) as counsel (read: victim) in a moot Supreme Court pre-enactment of the case Maryland v. Wilson, which deals with the constitutionality of suspicionless seizure of passengers during a lawful traffic stop. I was representing Maryland, and we won (unfortunately). On Wednesday we went to the real Court to witness the oral arguments for the case. It was exceptionally cool; I highly recommend it, if you have the connections it takes to get seating. And I don't even like legal-type things. Anyway, I hope that the real Court will find in Wilson's favor. This sort of needless and arbitrary intrusion into the lives of Americans is just the kind of thing that our government has been doing for years in the name of such unverifiable claims as "officer safety," "public good," and "moral integrity."

See where I'm going with this?

Our Republican Congress (ack-spit-blech), in July of this year, passed a piece of legislation that they so euphemistically entitled the "Defense of Marriage Act." It was signed by President-Seeking-Reelection Clinton into law -- in fact, he pledged to sign it even before it appeared that it would actually pass. And I'm not in ANY way exonerating the Democratic Party here -- the bill passed the Senate 85-14.

What I fail to understand, I suppose, is how anyone anywhere can condone such a blatant and heinous violation of the rights of any group of people. The Act violates the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution, which requires states to extend legal recognition to all contracts, etc. from other states. Congress also took a juicy crap on the Fourteenth Amendment, specifically that "dad-gummed" Equal Protection Clause, which has forced upstanding repressors such as Jesse Helms to recognize the rights of blacks to vote, of women to attend formerly all-male institutions (like Congress...bam!), of the disabled to be free from discrimination...the list goes on...

If the government had defined, oh, let's say, a "family" as a collection of persons, one male over the age of 21, one female over the age of 21, one male under the age of 18, and one female under the age of 18, and summarily denied the legal existence of other children (for instance, forbidding them enrollment in public schools) and denied a widow/widower the "family" classification for tax purposes, what kind of uproar would that cause?

How about if the government defined a "citizen" as a white heterosexual wealthy non-disabled male over the age of 21? (OOPS! hee hee...guess they tried that already...)

Switching gears. Like I said above, I'm thrilled to be writing this for Oasis. I don't really know what's making me do it, just like I don't know why I write music, or why I like men. I just do. I know you understand.

I've had a hellish week. Case Day (see above) was a major drain. I got a death bug that was going around on Monday. By the afternoon my voice was gone and I couldn't breathe...about a gallon of Earl Grey (thanks, Suzanne) and quart of NyQuil got me through. I haven't heard the tapes yet, I'm sure I sound like a frog on heroin. I'm taking time to write this instead of working on college applications.

(All you high school inmates out there -- next time you hear someone tell you that senior year's a blowoff, bitch slap them. They're lying.)

I'm firmly in the closet. I plan to stay there until I leave home. It's not that I don't think my family will be supportive, because I think they will, but there's a contingent of what we white kids like to call the "Persian Mafia" (see my picture for the smirk I'm wearing as I write this) who like to gain media attention by beating the shit out of people. The last I know of were three guys who went to Homecoming in drag. Needless to say, being different can be a liability.

It can be hard keeping secrets. The most important thing, I've found, is this: Lie to others, but never lie to yourself. No, I am not religious. I'm anti-religious. Anyone else looking forward to anti-Christmas on June 25? (If you think I'm serious, well...) As Marx said (and was quoted in another column here -- sorry I forgot which), religion is definitely the opiate of the masses. Whether you believe in one god, many gods, or no god, make sure you know exactly what the lies you choose to believe in mean. Read Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, if you haven't yet. In fact, read it again if you have. Please?

Enough philosophy. (What? You can never have enough philosophy!) There's plenty of time for that later. One thing I've had the displeasure of experiencing on several occasions is being set up by friends/enemies with girls I just can't stand. This happened to me at homecoming. I'm still a virgin (too bad?) and there was NO WAY I was going to give that to THIS girl. Not only was she female, but she was using the tongue like a Mongol in Boston Market. Shall I go further? It's a very, VERY difficult situation to be in. On one hand, there's someone here who wants to have sex with you. You have to be clever enough and quick enough to defeat their advances/attacks without blowing your "cover," which I think needs no explanation. I now refuse to go anywhere with any girl without company present unless I trust her and know that she thinks I'm shit. (what a healthy self-image!)

Now I would like to get personal. I seem to be lacking this "gay-dar" skill that many gay people I know have. In particular, I can't seem to figure out my little brother's best friend (and his little brother too...) We both approach each other to talk about nothing, or hockey, which I guess is what we talk about most of the time. We're both in band, which allows me the pleasure of seeing him every day. (That was sincere.) He does like to make homophobic comments, especially regarding his brother, whom he considers "gay" (more on that later) because he doesn't like MTV and doesn't have a lot of friends. (I hope he's right.) Anyway, I suppose you might say I've got a crush on them both. Of course, I guess I'll just have to swallow it (I've done it before) and move on. But if anyone out there has more skills with manipulation that I have and could give me suggestions on how to acquire the info in a non-compromising way...

Don't know how it is exactly in other areas of the land (and the world), but around here, people use the word "gay" like it's their last name. Usually they use it in reference to something they think is stupid (not necessarily homosexual, is what I'm getting at). It's not really disturbing, but it does cause the heart to sink when someone you like throws it around like that.

I suppose I'll wrap this up by saying that I would appreciate any comments you would like to shove in my face...tell me I suck, whatever, I love getting mail, even if it is hate mail. At least hatemongers aren't as ambiguous as me, eh?

By the way, since I'm an equal-opportunity lunatic, you can go here if you want a bigot's perspective. It'd be funny if it was fictional.

Don't let the Man get you down.

[About the Author]

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