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Under Construction
Oakland Carvaval Parade

June 27th, 2002

Over The Few
Wednesday. I got a kick this morning reading the Appeals Court decision here declaring the "under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance a violation of separation of church and state under the U.S. Constitution. I recall some discussion when it was added in 1954, although separation of church and state wasn't a big issue at the age of 11. A kick in the sense of understanding how quickly the judges will be reversed by the full court or the Supreme Court or the Congress, all under a hail of stirring condemnation by a political establishment facing an upcoming election.

The court is right, of course. If you really believe in a secular state where political life and religious life need to be segregated - that weird radical idea of the founders who's experience with religion would have allowed them to understand our own recent twin towers experience with fundamentalism, many of us having fled religious tyranny in order to practice our own unfettered form of religious tyranny here in the wilderness - you go for separate.

Think about it. Did it raise your hackles when you heard of the decision? If it didn't,Oakland Carnaval Parade do you understand without having to think about it that it raised the hackles of others, that death threats will be sent to the plaintiffs and the judges? Of course. A no brainer. We know the turf, we grew up here. This common understanding is a pretty good demonstration of why they came up with this separation idea in the first place. It isn't that people take their religious life too seriously, people should take their religious life seriously, it's just they want us to take their religious life seriously and if we don't they'll kick our butts into Christmas. There are good reasons to kick a person's butt into a nondenominational slammer: murder, theft, battery, ill thoughts toward a street photographer, no thought here to argue against any of them, but making a kid say "under God" each morning or he's got trouble with his playmates? Take a hike, kid, you don't talk, you don't walk, you don't crawl, you go play by yourself now for the rest of the semester? I'm not going for that.

Everyone has their opinion and nothing I'm saying will change it, but I think it's important to make the unwashed aware it's no more OK to put a gun to a kid's head and force words out of his mouth than it is to put a gun to his head and force something in. Is that graphic enough? Do you detect anger?

People who get their kicks punishing others for not mouthing the right words have been around for a long time and represent movements and ism's we know too well, the religion thing a way to cloak their motives. "He said something bad about Jesus, let's kill the motherfucker". Same kind of people who nailed Jesus to the cross. They had good reason too, the equilibrium of the state, the supremacy of Rome, the sanctity of the church, their church. Jesus understood the tyranny of the many over the few.

The photographs were taken at the Oakland Carnaval parade.