Sunday, July 24, 2011

Same Sex Marriage Begins in NY + Amy Winehouse RIP + Norway's Right-Wing Terrorist

Siegal and Kopelov,
Jason DeCrow/AP
Same-sex marriages have begun in New York State, and New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, has even proclaimed July 24 the Day to Commemorate Marriage Equality. Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were the first same-sex couple married in the state, shortly after midnight at Niagara Falls' State Park's Luna Island, the picturesque falls behind them. New York City's orderly process added the newest entrants to the marriage rolls, beginning with Phyllis Siegal and Connie Kopelov, together for 23 years, who exchanged vows at 9 am at the City Clerk's Office.

Last month New York became the sixth and largest state, alongside Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage; Hawaii, Illinois, Delaware, and New Jersey offer civil unions. California's Supreme Court also legalized same-sex marriage in 2008 before it was invalidated by Proposition 8 in November of that year, while Maine's May 2009 legalization of same-sex marriage by its legislature was overturned by referendum in November of that year. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced support for a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by a Republican Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. DOMA negates federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and allows any state to deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed in another state.  With a Republican-held House, it stands no chance of passing, but if the Democrats can regain the House and retain the Senate, a dicey prospect at best, I see President Obama signing this bill into law.

I predict that in 15 years, nearly all the northeastern and Pacific coast states, much of the upper Midwest, and perhaps Florida and Colorado will have legalized same-sex marriage, but that the South will be the country's last holdouts.


Amy Winehouse onstage
during 46664 Concert In
Celebration Of Nelson
Mandela's Life, Hyde
Park 2008
Gareth Davies/Getty
British soul singer Amy Winehouse (1983-2011), who won 5 Grammys for her second album, 2006's Back to Black, was found dead yesterday in her north London home. Lord but could this young British contralto sing! Perhaps best known for her ironic and portentous hit "Rehab," in which she telegraphed her attitude concerning her loved ones' attempts to help her, Winehouse also climbed the UK and US charts with singles like "You Know I'm No Good" and "Back to Black," and became the first British artist to win five Grammy awards, including for Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  I particularly love "Tears Dry On Their Own," another of her unsentimental, prescient gems on the album.

Winehouse had struggled with eating disorders and substance abuse and addiction for years.  In August 2007 she was hospitalized for a drug overdose, and at the end of the year, she was captured on camera smoking crack cocaine and talking of further drug use. In 2009, she returned to rehab for drug-related problems. Through often dazzling in her televised performances, had been hit or miss on tours, including her 2007 British 17-date affair, during which she was booed and suffered walkouts in Birmingham because of her incoherence and vehemence towards the audience. In June Winehouse canceled her comeback tour after a disastrous, shambling performance Belgrade, Serbia, which was captured on tape by angry and shocked concertgoers.

Winehouse leaves her parents, Janis and Mitch Winehouse, the latter a musician who'd released a jazz album of his own, and was about to perform in his first date in the US, in New York, as well as fans worldwide who mourn her untimely passing. RIP.

Utøya Island, Norway / AP
Norwegian authorities have captured Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing, fundamentalist self-described "Christian" perpetrator--or at least one of them--of the horrific Friday bombing of government offices in the capital city of Oslo, and the subsequent slaughter of over 85 young people and adults attending a Labor Party youth gathering on the Norwegian island of Utøya. News accounts  describe a Norwegian version of Timothy McVeigh, the US right-winger who carried out the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing.  Breivik, under the English name "Andrew Berwick," posted a meticulous 1,500 page manifesto describing his preparations and justifications, which include hatred of the political left, Muslims and multiculturalism, for the attacks. (The manifesto immediately made me think of Oe Kenzaburo's extremely disturbing account of a young right-wing terrorist, Seventeen (1961), and Nicholson Baker's politically different 2004 novel Checkpoint.) It is unclear whether Breivik acted alone and if not who his accomplices might be.

Breivik had previously blogged a great deal about his beliefs, posted personal information including his political stances on Facebook, and tweeted a sole quote on Twitter, ominously paraphrasing John Stuart Mill: "One person with belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests."  Despite all of this evidence, initial media accounts of the tragedy wrongly noted that Islamic terrorists had claimed responsibility for the attacks, provoking many anti-Muslim responses not only in newspapers' online comments sections but in blogposts such as Jennifer Rubin's in the Washington Post.  She's been thoroughly criticized, and Steve Clemons has already demanded an apology. (Glenn Greenwald noted, apropos of the discourse about "peaceful" Norway, that its troops are not only flying sorties in Libya but also participating in the Afghan War.) This horrendous attack appears to have nothing to do with Norway's military participation and everything to do with an extremist's ultraconservative hatred of his country's liberal politics.

One bit of information I hope Norwegian and other authorities pursue is Breivik's alleged connections to other ultranationalist ultraracists across Europe and North America. According to his manifesto, he met with similarly minded people in 2003 to reconstitute the Knights Templar with the aim of a neo-Crusade, and though this might be pure fiction, his actions might also be the leading edge of a new ultrarightist terrorist push in Europe and elsewhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment