I have arrived for a brief layover in Midwestern Funky Town. It is how I remember it: Midwestern and funky. For those who are tracking GayProf’s journeys across the nation, you will know that I am just here to deposit my car before returning to Boston for the final move (*sob* to leaving Boston).
Moving still sucks. Right now I am having arcane banking issues. Who knew, for instance, that check cards had daily limits that were much less than your actual account balance? Nobody told me this! Or, if they did tell me, clearly they weren’t attractive enough for me to bother listening to them. We’ve been through this before, people. Important financial rules and regulations should only be delivered to GayProf by muscular, brown-eyed men (preferably from Southern Spain).
While I am complaining, let me also mention that while in Texas I wore some new shoes that totally trashed my feet. I now have quarter-inch-deep slashes on both of my ankles. Even though I obtained another pair of shoes (basically canvas slippers) days ago, my wounds are still bleeding. Given how painful they are, I can only assume that many of my faithful readers are spontaneously developing sympathy sores on their own ankles. It must surely be a version of gay stigmata. Wounds for fashion are, after all, the most holy.
My oozing sores aside, driving through the center of the nation reminded me of things that I had not thought about in quite some time. It’s surprisingly easy when you live in the greater Boston area to forget about what is actually happening in the nation west of Worcester. Actually, it’s surprisingly easy to forget that there is a nation west of Worcester.
Of course, I am kidding. Nobody thinks about Worcester.
On the long drive, however, I had plenty of contact with the South and Midwest. These encounters are good “reality checks” for me. For instance, many of my friends and I have constantly chatted about Bush’s approval rating. It is one of the lowest (soon to be the lowest) that any president has ever had. Yet, he still has the support of around 30 percent of the nation. “Who?” we always ask, “Who are these people that compose the 30 percent?” Texas provided the answer.
No sooner had I literally set foot on my former campus when I saw a student wearing a “Texans for Bush” t-shirt. No, he did not wear it with irony nor was he attempting a naughty double-entendre. It turns out that Bush still has quite a lot of support in Eastern Texas. People there will even choose their garments to demonstrate their love for the man despite his tanking the economy, hiding in a bunker on September 11, trashing the environment, starting wars, screwing-over the veterans of those wars, and using the Constitution as a Depends undergarment.
Of course, it’s easy to criticize Texas. It’s fun, too. All the same, this type of extreme conservatism isn’t just limited to the Lone Star State. Illinois surprised me with the number of right-wing road signs that dotted the highway.
The Land of Lincoln, unlike Texas, is a state that I actually like. For starters, it has my favorite city in the United States: Chicago. Boston is darn close to toppling Chicago, but the MBTA needs to start building more subway track for that to happen. I don’t mean zombie green-line track, either. I mean real subway track that is actually sub.
Annnnyway, because Illinois has Chicago as well as its own MFT in the form of Champaign/Urbana, I always thought of it as a nice blue zone. So, I was a little taken aback by the unending religious bill boards. You know the types that I mean. They usually say things like, “Gay Marriage Makes Baby Jesus Cry” or “Jesus Eats Satisfying Snickers Bars” or whatever it is that ultra-Conservatives believe that people want to read on the highway.
More than those messages, though, I was not expecting a barrage of roadside gun propaganda. The most memorable of these attempts was a series of signs that said, “A hooligan would think twice if he knew that his teacher was packing. Guns save lives.” Wow – Somebody at the Ministry of Truth deserves a bonus for that one. Not such “Ignorance is Strength” have they come up with such amazing double speak.
This whole idea of arming teachers really strikes me as bizarre. Some pro-gun loonies always propose these ideas after the nation has a mass shooting. Apparently they think that every school should resemble the O.K. Corral.
These gun folk are also usually pretty inconsistent. They often claim to want the Constitution to be interpreted “literally,” except when it comes to the gun question. They all tend to ignore the “well regulated Militia “ bit of the Second Amendment. I wonder how hard it would be pry the guns out of ultra-conservatives cold hands if ownership meant a tour of duty in Iraq.
Their solution instead is always to hand out more guns. Let me tell you, as somebody who works in a classroom, the solution isn’t to give firearms to teachers and professors. We would be too tempted to use them.
Students who submitted papers two days late would just be asking to be grazed. Taking classes “Pass/Fail” would require Kevlar body armor. Grade grubbers would have to ask themselves if they were feeling lucky before coming to office hours.
Arming professors would also make academic conferences much more entertaining, if not also more deadly. Who would need a quip to retort a tough question about your research when you have a Magnum? For my part, it would sure solve the problem of trying to convince conservative historians that Latino Studies is actually a real academic field.
Maybe that is the best way to convince conservatives of the need for gun control after all. If the nation's lefty historians start looking like their own army, suddenly legislation restricting the sale of fire arms won’t seem nearly so extreme.