Preparing for Sanity and/or Fear

I am about to make my grand departure for Washington, DC. And by grand, I mean sitting in the car by myself listening to NPR podcasts while sitting in traffic on I-270. (Thankfully, I don’t have to go as far as 495 for where I’m staying.)

By the way, if you need listening materials for your travels, make sure to download a few episodes of Queer and Queerer!

I would love to see and meet as many readers as possible. If you’re there, I hope you’ll try and find me (and share a hug if you do). I don’t have a fancy smart phone, so I probably won’t be checking twitter throughout the day, though I will be tweeting. Look for me and my sign, or contact me before we get there.

Also, after the rally, I’ll be joining the Atheist/Humanist Gathering rally-goers meet-up hosted by the fabulous Hemant Mehta. I hope you’ll consider joining me and 200 other nonbelievers there and introduce yourself!

This Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear will be entertaining and enjoyable, but I think there will actually be something historic and profound about it as well. I’m excited to just be a part of it, and I hope you are too. See you in DC.

Here’s a preview of my sign. I’m not the best artist, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I decided to go with sanity and fear:

Atheist/Humanist Gathering for “Rally to Restore Sanity”-goers

Rules and Requests For My Funeral

I offered some music this weekend at a memorial service for someone whom I didn’t know, but it got me thinking about my own funeral. That might sound kind of morbid, but only if death really bothers you. Losing someone is sad, but death is only scary if you’ve been conditioned to worry about the afterlife.

For the record, I have no expectation (and certainly no intention) of dying anytime soon.

So, I thought I’d write some things down now, at age 25, in regards to my funeral. I could, in fact, die tomorrow, which would make this document incredibly valuable. If I change my mind down the road, I’ll write a “Rules and Requests For My Funeral 2.0.” No big whoop. But just in case…

Dear friends, family, and loved ones,

If you’re reading this, you read my blog (thanks!) or I’ve died and someone thought to dig this post up out of my blog archive. I’m really sorry to hear about my death; obviously, I would have tried to avoid it if I could have.  But, we all die someday, and my day arrived. I hope you are coping well.

For the record, if I’m dead, I’m really gone. I know this reads like it’s from “beyond the grave,” but I’m writing it back in 2010. At this point, Zack Ford has totally ended. I haven’t “moved on,” I’m not “in a better place,” I’m not connecting with other lost loved ones, I’m not reincarnating, I’m not still with you “in spirit,” and I’m not looking down on you. The coroner’s word is final. It’s over. Kaput. THE END.

And even if by the time I’ve died we’ve developed Caprica-like avatars, I highly doubt that my avatar is exactly me. If the real me is dead, then the real me is dead. I don’t know what year it is when I’ve died, but if people still aren’t watching Caprica, you should go back and hulu it, if you even still have hulu. Good show.

Now, as you plan my funeral, you’ll probably be thinking about “what Zack would’ve wanted.” This is both a good thing and a bad thing. See, I’m dead. I’m not going to be there for the funeral. And the funeral isn’t for me. It’s for you! So, to a certain extent, however you choose to memorialize me really ought to help you feel good about letting go and remembering me in the way that best helps you continue with your life.

It is possible though that in seeking your own solace, you disrespect me and what I stood for. I’m not around to do anything about it, so, frankly, you can do whatever it is you want to do. But if you knew me, you knew one of my biggest pet peeves is when people selfishly justify things for themselves. So, let me help you keep your conscience in check.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but unfortunately I have to say this: Don’t pray for me. Seriously, don’t. This might be the hardest thing I ask of you and I understand that. But don’t pray that I’m in heaven or that I watch over you or that God watches over my soul or any of that. And certainly don’t pray for others on my behalf. Talk about disgracing my life! There are no gods, and I think you know that I’d be really pissed if you were using your grief for my death as another self-conditioning mechanism to reinforce your delusions of a higher power. (If you do believe in God/prayer and you violate this wish of mine, then I hope I appear to you in your prayer and wag my finger at you for being so selfish and insecure.)

I really do like the idea of living on in hearts and memories. Go with that. Remember me, but do not try to hold onto me. If there’s anything I left behind that can help others, make sure they see it, but don’t try to keep me going. Cherish what you will from my life and move on.

So, no talk of an afterlife and no prayer. Got it? Oh, and if I died unexpectedly, like in a car crash or something, do not put one of those gawdy crosses up on the spot. A cross would have zero significance for my life (and would offend it quite a bit), nor would the spot where I died. Ugh! Also, donate my organs, and then donate my body to science, cremate it, or bury it without embalming it so I become a nice feast. It was hard enough to be sustainable in life; I don’t want to be unsustainable in death, too. (As an aside, at the time of this writing, I’m very sad that SunChips stopped making their decompostable bags because they were too loud. Christ, Americans are whiny. Do you still have SunChips in the future? I hope so. They’re delicious! Garden Salsa are my favorite.)

I think that covers my most important wishes. If you’re curious about what kind of memorial celebration I’d like, I’ve shared some thoughts below. It’s a lot to ask, but I think it would be the best way to celebrate my life. Is it feasible? I don’t know, but I’m dead, so what do I care? You going to tell a dead guy that he thinks too much of himself? I don’t think so. Well, maybe. Besides, I already said I want this to be what works best for you; so you can ignore everything else I put forth for all I care. (I’m dead, so I don’t care at all.)

Anyways, I think it should be an all-day affair and all of my Facebook friends should be invited, plus anyone else. Why all my Facebook friends? Well, because I was diligent enough about making sure that no one was my FB friend if they didn’t make at least the slightest impact on my life, so they should all get the chance to be a part of remembering me. It’s not like they’re all going to come, and I don’t expect it of anyone. But it’d be really cool if they did, because I know a lot of very different and interesting people and you all might learn some interesting things from each other. Everyone should wear name tags.

Why all-day? Well, because during the day, I want people to do a service project! It’s not a requirement for people who want to participate in just the evening’s events, but it should certainly be an available option for those interested. Just find some great way that everybody interested can take a little time to make other people’s lives better. (Please keep the cause secular.)

Now, I wasn’t some grand humanitarian, and I don’t want you to think I have this inflated sense of my impact on the world. I just figure, if I’m going to give people suggestions on how best to memorialize me, I ought not to be totally selfish about it. Plus, I know that there have been a ton of very loving and giving people in my life and I don’t want grieving for me to get in the way of the potential you all still have to do good works.

You know how you feel when you finish a good book (if you still have books)? It’s like… you’re kind of bummed that the book is over, but it’s kind of exhilarating because it was this complete story. It’s over now, but it was complete, and it was great, and you want to take the impact that the book had and incorporate it into your life and into your thinking. That’s kind of how I think about life. Death isn’t tragic (except when it is); it’s just the closing of a book. A memorial should be a celebration of what was great about the life and what can be taken away from it, not a time to mourn the end of it.

So what I would ideally envision then for the evening is some sort of epic roast/concert, with plenty of alcohol for those who fancy it. It should be very Ford Fest-like. In fact, why not do it in Ford Hall? That’d be fitting. People should be set up to have a good time and maybe they’ll even want to hook up with a new friend afterward, because, why not?

Why a roast? Well, enough people have told me in life that I’m going to Hell, so I might as well burn at my funeral! Besides, I know that I’m a quirky enough character that people could get some good laughs. I’m sure MG, if he’s still around, would make a great host, and I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would jump at the opportunity to tell some very funny stories about me. At least, I hope they would. (If I’m not currently a very interesting person, could some of the people reading this in the present give me a head’s up so I can make some necessary adjustments? Thanks.)

And it should be a concert too. I’m not going to tell you what songs to pick, because, come on, it’s more fun if you have artistic license! But music was super important in my life, so here are some general suggestions if you’re looking for ideas:

I would actually like a big fabulous gospel choir to be utilized for at least one song, but of course I’d prefer if the song’s lyrics were not too gospelly… like, at all. In fact, despite my normal anal retentiveness, feel free to rewrite any lyrics for humorous effect. But I want the crowd on its feet and arm-in-arm having a good ol’ time, you know? At least one sing-along would be great, too, as well as some dancing. There should be some sexy musical theatre with belty voices blending some fierce harmonies in a hugely over-produced (but low-budget) fashion. Any classical music should be comedically over-dramatic or silly and fun. Special musical guests ought to include a gay men’s chorus and/or Ithacappella, a winner of Molson Canadian Idol (LD), brass players from the 518 (RP and JH), and of course my siblings of Mu Phi Epsilon.

Given the amount of work some people would have to put in to make that kind of event happen, you should totally take an offering and/or make the whole event a fundraiser for a good secular cause. Why miss out on another great opportunity to help others? (Please do not try to actually profit from my death. Covering the costs to humor my over-inflated sense of importance is fine, but make sure the rest goes to charity.)

At the end of the three-and-a-half hour extravaganza, people should stay up late talking (and not necessarily about me) and then go out for (probably a very late) brunch the next morning. The more time for old friends and complete strangers to learn from each other, the better. Don’t forget those name tags.

Then, get on with your lives, please.

Remember: No afterlife, no prayer, no Bible readings, and no burial, but plenty of drinking and debauchery is fine. And just do good works. I wasn’t a saint, but neither are you.

Carry on (but with my love in your hearts),


A Quarter Century of ZackFord

I was rereading my birthday reflection from last year and seriously, not five minutes later I again heard my father ask me, “Do you feel older?” I informed him that he asked me the exact same thing last year, so we agreed that my answer must actually be “Yes” since it’s been a full year since he asked me, but also that he needs to get out more.

(By the way, this post is just me talking about myself, so if you’re here for news or commentary, sorry! But hey, I might end up saying something poignant about life—you never know.)

Year 25 was definitely unlike any previous year of my life. It was the first full year that I did not live my life according to prescription. There were the 18 years of grade school and the 6 of higher education, and then I got this wacky year where nothing was according to plan. What a good thing that was!

You know, I could easily bemoan the economy and the challenges of the job search, and certainly there are those out there eager to mock me for it. A full year has passed and you still don’t have a real job, Zack? Yeah, it’s true. Get over it. It’s actually been a great year, because I’ve had to find a way to make meaning of my life despite not fitting the mold I’d always had in my head for how it was supposed to progress.

Did you ever see what the old site looked like? I feel like it looks... small.It’s fun having a September birthday, because I can measure years of my life parallel to school years. This was my first non-school year (and hopefully my last). But the Fall still brought very important changes, because it was at the beginning of October when I launched the redesign of my blog. Two weeks later I was reporting from the National Equality March. Suddenly, I felt like I had a legitimate blog and I was connecting with other bloggers and activists who were excited about my work. It might not sound like much, but those changes really set the tone for the year that went on to include the Prop 8 Trial, Creating Change, working for the Central PA LGBT Center, developing the Queer and Queerer Podcast with Peterson, and Netroots Nation.

In some ways, it’s kind of felt like an intermission, but in other ways, it’s just been a refreshing break. I think we all need to take time to explore life and find ourselves in spite of what anyone wants for us. Heck, it wasn’t what I wanted for myself, but I definitely have no regrets!

In addition to being a test of creativity in the absence of structure, it was also a test of resiliency. If you had asked me on September 8, 2009 if I would still be confident and optimistic if a year later I still didn’t have a job that put my degree to use, I probably wouldn’t have been thrilled with speculating. But here I am, and I have so much work to be proud of, even if I’m not “on track.”

Truly, we spend our whole lives reconciling who we are against who others want us to be. In any of these struggles, we come out (often literally) stronger because we believed in ourselves. I can look back on year 25 as a year of transition, but a year in which I stayed true to myself in spite of circumstance. And now I can look forward to a new quarter-century with a piece of myself that I never would have known I had.

Cheers to you my friends and readers, and everyone who has been a part of my life! Cheers to life! Cheers to making it work!

…And I’m (Still) a PC

Hey, I just want to apologize to my regular readers for being generally absent this week. For the past few days I’ve been struggling to remedy a glitch on my PC. I still had functionality, but my ability to read blogs and publish them was impacted, which is why fixing the situation took priority. A reinstall of Windows set everything right! (So I guess I can now say, “Windows 7 was my idea.”)

Now, all you Mac-folks can point and laugh. I’m not becoming a Mac. Your OS has advantages and disadvantages as does mine. You have preferences and so do I. Would you have gotten this glitch? Probably not. That alone does not make your OS superior. I would rather have to deal with an occasional glitch than a proprietary company that censors the content I can access.

Though the past few days have been stressful, I can say this about the process:

» I was able to fix the problem myself (i.e. I didn’t have to send it away).

» It didn’t cost me a penny to fix.

» I didn’t lose anything.

» My computer is running more smoothly now as a result of the maintenance I ran on it.

So, I’m all good now, and will probably resume regular blogging after this holiday weekend.

I have to say, I was surprised at how much my mood was affected by the availability of my computer. I certainly have no trouble when I’m in situations where I know I won’t have access, but when I should have access and the tools I’m used to using aren’t serving me the way they should, I was rather distraught. I felt out of the loop, disconnected.

You know, there are a lot of people who believe in some higher connectedness or consciousness. I think anything ethereal is preposterous. But, I do think that the internet is reshaping the human consciousness in a very observable way. The way we relate to each other and the globalization of our society are quite marvelous, and I’m not sure we’ve all quite realized what an impact these changes have had on each of us as individuals.

At any rate, I’m back!

And here’s a tip for all you computer users out there: Just in case of whatever, back up your system!

Some Ups and Downs From Netroots Nation

Greetings again from Vegas! It’s officially day 2 of Netroots Nation!!

If you haven’t been following my twitter, you should be. It’s the best way to track what’s been happening here at the conference. In this post, though, I want to talk about some ups and downs of the conference. I have a few more grumbles than you might expect, so stick with  me. Redeeming positives are further below.

I really think that, in general, Netroots Nation really needs to be better at modeling. There have been a number of things that have made this conference slightly frustrating in ways that I think could easily be improved.

For example, the wireless internet access has sucked. To use the internet in your hotel room is ridiculously expensive and the service is really not reliable at all. (It was quite arduous just getting this post up this morning.) The Netroots folks have set up a free wireless system in the convention area, but it has been rife with problems. It was down more often than not yesterday and even when it was up, it was not always consistent. There were a number of times I was sitting in a panel trying to follow my Tweetdeck and getting nothing while folks next to me had service.

This seems to me to be bad form. To many, the quality of the internet connection you have while in Las Vegas would be negligible, but we’re here at a conference about using the internet! If I were part of the conference planning group, my first priority in selecting a venue would be confirming that they have quality, reliable internet and don’t charge guests an arm and a leg for it. It’s hard to be a good Netroots activist without the Net!

Surprisingly, that hasn’t been the only technology fail. I’ve been in several panels already where the presenters were struggling with media in their presentations. In some cases it wasn’t their fault, but I still think the result was that it undermined their presentation. If you are here at Netroots to show your eagerness to interact with the blogosphere, you should at least be competent at using your own computer. I don’t mean to sound petty or whiny; I think there’s a credibility issue here. If your words are saying “I want to engage with people through technology” and your actions say “I don’t know how to engage with technology,” the presentation kind of feels disingenuous.

And, by far, my biggest complaint is the level of engagement. Most of the sessions throughout the day are “panels.” There are a few trainings and caucuses, but panels predominate. I went to four yesterday. The topics of those panels were great. I attended two that related to scientific literacy and education standards, one about marriage equality, and one about using social media. Sounds great, right? But the panels themselves betray the very values the Netroots presents for itself.

This thought occurred to me during the social media panel. The panelists were talking about the importance of reaching out to others in the blogosphere rather than expecting others to just come to us. As I tweeted from the panel: Treat online people like people and allies, not sheep. This expectation of community participation is at the core of Netroots activism; it keeps the playing field level by expecting everyone to participate actively.

The panels accomplish the opposite. They are groups of four or five who talk at us and then expect us to just ask them questions. It’s not really conversational, and it just seems to go against the very culture we seem to be trying to promote. Granted, I’m also biased as an educator and a performer; my top priority is always to keep people engaged and participating. The folks on these panels are brilliant and can speak eloquently to their issues, and there are certainly times when a panel format is ideal. I just think it’s odd that such a format is embraced as the primary format of engagement throughout the conference.

So, those are my primary complaints. They’re not really big ones, but they definitely give me a context for how to think about the rest of the conference and how to get the most out of it.

I have to say, Twitter is a pretty amazing tool for connecting with others. It can be annoying as hell when the hashtag search is full of retweets, but it does wonders for shared experiences. I’ve actually met a lot of people here at the conference through our exchange of tweets. I think it’s easy to think of Twitter as just a social tool, but it also is, itself, a great venue for delivering information. I won’t be blogging as much about the content of some of these workshops because Twitter is taking care of a lot of it. A number of people have actually come up to me and told me how much they appreciate my tweets, which makes me feel like it’s not all in vain!

It’s also been amazing to meet my readers. Honestly, before I got to this conference, I wasn’t sure many folks out there were really following this little ol’ blog, and it warms my heart to know you appreciate what I’m doing here. I hope I don’t sound as egotistical as that blowhard Ed Schultz (from MSNBC) who spoke last night. It’s just been an incredible confidence booster to feel like I’m not just wasting my time.

I’m certainly doing my best to sell myself here (though not in that way—I know this is Vegas, but seriously!). I continue to meet incredible people at every turn; there’s no doubt this weekend will have been a life-changing experience. I feel like a little kid at Disney World or something. I’m super excited to see others willing to promote my work! Pam Spaulding linked to my post from earlier this week; Joe Jervis has a picture of me on his site; and I even did a video interview with Minnesota-based The Uptake.

I really and truly feel like a part of this community, and I love it. I must continue to extend my thanks to all the amazing people who have made it possible for me to be here and who continue to be great mentors!! Exciting change can happen when we all work together toward our shared goals.

I have to get ready to get back into the fray! Go back to following my tweets for more updates throughout the day!

And in case you’re wondering, I played one dollar on a slot machine. I now have one less dollar. Cheers from Vegas!

From an Iowa Wedding to Las Vegas

It’s time to change the ZackFord Blogs logo to Netroots Nation. It’s time my vacation being a bit disconnected from the blogosphere comes to an end and I jump into the deep end.

As I pack up and get ready, I want to take just a moment to reflect on the week I’ve already had. I had the distinct honor of standing as a groomsman in my friends’ wedding here in Iowa. It was not a same-sex wedding, but I was certainly proud to be part of an Iowa wedding nonetheless.

Before, during, and after my two years living in Iowa, I would get a common kind of reaction from folks back east. Once they figured out which one was Iowa (the one with the potatoes, right?), there was always a sort of, “Oh… Iowa,” reaction, followed by, “I bet that was fun.”

Truth be told, I did have some challenges living in Iowa. Heck, this blog started because I was having trouble communicating and relating to some others while I was here. But the truth is, Iowa is a pretty cool place.

In addition to the wedding, I spent five days visiting a whole bunch of wonderful people who impacted my life while I was here (as well as playing an inordinate amount of late-night gaming). I remembered what truly awesome friends I did have out here, and how Iowa doesn’t necessarily deserve the assumption inherent in people’s reaction to the thought of it. Iowa left an imprint on my heart that I cannot simply brush off.

It’s odd to think about flying to Las Vegas from here. I am going to Netroots Nation thanks to Freedom to Marry, but I am leaving a state with marriage equality to go be a part of a conference in a state without marriage equality. In fact, I’m leaving one of the few states where I can legally commit to the love of my life to go to the only state where I can legally pay for a hot trick.

It puts things in perspective a bit. If morality is supposedly the underpinning of the laws in our country, then shouldn’t the laws promote the activities more people consider moral? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas because those are the stories people are often ashamed or embarrassed to tell. What happens in Iowa is beautiful and true and ought to be shared everywhere.

Despite this somewhat disappointing juxtaposition, I am excited for the next five days of my journey. I’m going to commune with amazing other bloggers and activists and perhaps make some of the most important and life-changing connections of my life. For those of you who have missed your daily dose of ZackFord, get ready, because I’m sure I’ll be over compensating at Netroots. Stay tuned, there’s a wild road ahead!

Thanks To You, I’m Going To Netroots Nation!!!

Hey readers!

I was waiting until the holiday was over to share the good news:

I’m going to Netroots Nation this month!!!

Here’s the official announcement on Open Left.

Thanks to all your diligent voting (and your tolerance of my nagging reminders to do so), I was a winner in Freedom to Marry’s Blog 4 Equality contest!!

Congratulations to all the finalists who are continuing to do wonderful work!

You can expect a lot of posts from Vegas with all the wonderful experiences I’m having there!

A lot of thanks to everybody who is helping make my trip possible. I think it speaks highly of the LGBT Netroots that there are great folks willing to be mentors to relative newbs like myself. A special thank you goes out to my friend Hemant Mehta who helped support my candidacy. Thank you atheist community!!

If you voted for me, I assume it means you care about the work that I do in some way. I surely hope it means that you appreciate my writing here on the blog, since that’s what the contest was about. If any of you who voted want to make special requests about topics I might not normally cover, feel free to leave these ideas in the comments. I so appreciate your support that I feel I have to give something back, so how about more of the quality content you voted for? Let me know, folks, and again, THANKS SO MUCH!!!

In Which I Confess To Being a SNOOT, But Hear Me Out

Online dating has its ups and downs. You can meet a lot more people, but the quality of those interactions tends to be more superficial. My biggest peeve with the medium is that there isn’t much etiquette. The worst example of this bad etiquette is that people will just stop talking to you—things will seem great and then they’ll just stop responding without explanation. It’s fine if folks aren’t interested, but I think it’s rude, lazy, and downright inconsiderate to just blow someone off without exercising the class to explain that you’re simply not interested.

Except, I did blow a guy off like that once. And for all the reasons in the world, you’re going to think me pretty pathetic for the one that could rile me in such a way to just stop talking to someone, but hear me out.

My issue with him? The word “gay.” He was a grad student in linguistics.

Now, language is cool; I love playing with it. But this character was a descriptive linguist, through and through. We’re talking “language hippy” here. To him, there was nothing more cool or interesting than letting language just flow and be whatever it’ll be to whomever whenever. He thought the ebb and flow of language was sacred, and he would not disturb its pure and natural course regardless of the circumstances.

This did not sit well with me at all. I’m much more of a prescriptive grammarian. Words have power, and we have established rules for grammar for a very important reason: to communicate with each other as effectively as possible. I love using these rules when it comes to writing, because they allow me to write in ways that are easily comprehensible and conversational.

Consider that in this post I have already made effective use of an em dash, an oxford comma (which I will never give up—here comes another!), a semi-colon, and a colon—punctuation marks some might go their entire lives without using. And using them comes naturally to me, because my goal is to communicate as effectively as I can!

Of course, I’m not bound to cold, sterile writing. I also used “blow off,” “ebb and flow,” and “language hippy,” expressions that I’m sure you, as my reader, will understand, even though the way that I use them does not fit with their literal definitions. And so while I’m a stickler for prescriptive use of language, I also appreciate that descriptive grammar has its place.

Heck, I’m a blogger. If it weren’t for descriptive grammar, we wouldn’t have the word “blog.” Also, in a fleeting tribute to my rural roots, I have been heard to say “ya’ll” on occasion. (Come on, ya’ll, having a second-person plural can be very useful!)

Despite my flexibility, I still proudly identify as a SNOOT. You might call me a Grammar Nazi, a Syntax Snob, or the Language Police, and after I remind you about Godwin’s Law, I’ll take it as a compliment. I’m proud to know language rules and I appreciate the way they help me communicate. If new rules emerge or standards change, that’s great! Technology has certainly had a profound effect on the way we use words, and it makes perfect sense to me that we grow to accommodate this new paradigm of vocabulary and syntax. However, if we let words mean whatever they want to mean, they lose any meaning at all.

And that’s exactly why I blew off the language hippy. He thought the word “gay” had no meaning.

Somehow, we got talking about the expression “that’s so gay.” He argued that there was nothing wrong with using it to refer to something undesirable. It was just a new use of “gay.” It had nothing to do with homosexuality and it had no negative impact whatsoever on gay people. He had no problem with young people using the expression and didn’t think teachers should discourage it in any way. “It’s just the natural evolution of language,” he told me.

I was so pissed I just stopped talking to him. I found his perspective ignorant, delusional, and abhorrent. As a confident gay man and social justice educator, I still feel a little sting when people say “that’s so gay.” Usually, they are completely oblivious to the fact that “gay” actually means “homosexual,” but this ignorance is irrelevant and unforgivable. Anyone who is gay knows what the word means. And “that’s so gay” clearly derives from decades of negative attitudes towards gays and lesbians (not unlike the roots of other identity-related words like “lame,” “faggot,” and “nigger”). How this linguist could ignore the history of a word in favor of its natural fluidity just disgusted me.

Words and language have incredible power. All those “sticks and stones” and “thick skin” turns of phrase constitute propaganda spread by people who don’t want to take responsibility for their own (mis)use of language. We know that language helps maintain privilege in our society in some profound ways. We also know that language like “that’s so gay” has harsh consequences for the mental health of young people. Just because people use “gay” in that way does not make it okay to use. Achieving social justice requires we be conscientious about the words we use and that we take responsibility for their impact on others.

My brief online discourse with that linguist was years ago, but I still find myself irritated by his obliviousness. That’s why I’ll always be a prescriptive grammarian; I don’t want to ever encourage others to be lazy with their language. The consequences could be severe.

I’ll do my best to not be too SNOOTy, but friends, if I ever correct your grammar or protest your word choice, I hope you will not judge me for my tact. My goal will always be to help you be a better communicator and to make sure the language we use doesn’t hurt people. If you choose to respond defensively by disparaging me for my unyielding affect of perfectionism, hopefully the inherent subconscious negativity that concerned me in the first place will be revealed.

Ithaca College President Quotes Me in Convocation Address

At the 2010 Ithaca College Commencement ceremony, President Tom Rochon quoted me in his congratulations speech. Check it out below:

The reference is at about the 1-minute mark. The whole address is lovely, so please listen to the full thing. It’ll brighten your Monday, especially if your Monday is as dreary as mine is here in central Pennsylvania.

I’m proud to be a part of the Ithaca College community, and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to help define the experience of the class of 2010 in just the slightest of ways.

Read my letter to the Class of 2010 here.

Life Happens

Hey readers! I’m doing some traveling this week (and having some delays—wah wah) so posting will be limited. Despite the delays I plan to do the best to cover the Prop 8 closing arguments! I just don’t want you all to think I’d abandoned you. Take care!

Here’s a funny picture of me to hold you over, courtesy my buddy Bil Browning.