Time for a blizzard of thoughts
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Friday, December 31, 2010


I am writing this during the blizzard, staying inside like the governor said. Listening to Judy Collins mystical "The Blizzard" from her 1990 "Fires of Eden" album, enjoying the season.

My Jewish friend Bob Katzen, of the Beacon Hill Roll Call, came out from Boston on Christmas Eve, as he has for many years. This time he, my partner Chip and I watched "A Christmas Story," about the 9-year-old boy (Ralphie) who wanted a Red Ryder BB gun. None of us had seen it, and were curious since it is mentioned so often on "favorite holiday movies" discussions on talk radio.

When it was (finally) over, Bob insisted that it was the worst movie he had ever seen. He has since sent us online commentary backing up his opinion, including this one from someone named Jacob: "I'm the only one in my family who hates this movie. They think it's the funniest movie they have ever seen. It's currently on right now and it's killing me. Last year around Christmas we had to go on a trip to see (Ralphie's) house in Cleveland. It made me hate the movie more."

Another holiday tradition is born. I'm sure it'll be funnier the second time we watch it, next Christmas Eve. Or maybe we should take a road trip to Cleveland ...

My favorite holiday movie, in fact my favorite movie, is the Oscar-winning "A Lion in Winter," with Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn as Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Their son Richard is played brilliantly by a young Anthony Hopkins.

Richard, who is outed as gay during the dysfunctional-family festivities, later becomes Richard the Lionheart.

Yes, it's "lionheart," not "lionhearted." According to legend, when he led a Crusade to the Middle East, Richard killed a lion in close combat and ate its heart to intimidate the Saracen enemies. Of course "lionhearted" works, too, as he was a fiercely brave warrior. Speaking of gays in the military ...

Since it's a timely subject, let's speak of them more: Alexander the Great. The Greek hero Achilles. British army lieutenant Lawrence of Arabia.

One of the toughest military units in the ancient world was the Sacred Band of Thebes. Commanders chose lovers who were paired for combat because it was assumed that they would fight more fiercely with their lovers at their side.

This seems counter to the argument of those opposed to repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" that fears a loss of unit cohesion. Maybe our military should try the Theban plan and let gays have their own units, solving the "shower" problem we keep hearing about from opponents.

I laugh at the concern some men have about having a gay man possibly attracted to them. Try being a woman sometime, living much of your youth with men you aren't attracted to looking at you "that way." We get used to it. Maybe the motto could simply be "Feel free to ask and tell, just don't touch," and get on with the real battles.

Initially I stayed away from this subject, thinking that since I've not been a military man myself, I probably don't "get" the unit cohesion thing and should leave it up to the military to determine what works best. But then I heard a caller to talk radio, an older retired military man, seeming to suggest, somewhat hysterically, that if gays had been in his unit they could properly have been "fragged" (killed by their own troops) and I was horrified. Enough of this. God bless all those who choose to serve their country.

I do understand that when it comes to activist ideologues, things quickly get out of hand; the military is no place for political correctness or lawsuits about promotion decisions. Common sense must prevail: If there is a proximity problem, the offending gay needs to be held under a cold shower by the other men. Then, in an adult world, no one charges a "hate crime" the band of brothers, gay and straight, laugh and go get a beer together.

This is my New Year's resolution: to vigorously express intolerance of irrational intolerance. I honestly don't see how anyone's sexual orientation is any of my business. Don't care who marries whom. What race, color, or nationality anyone is, as long as I don't have to subsidize them because of it. Which religion anyone chooses, as long as that religion doesn't try to interfere with my choices.

There is, of course, an entirely appropriate, even necessary RATIONAL intolerance. I'll continue to battle any intrusion on my natural freedoms and insults to my intelligence; to oppose higher state and local taxes that fund outrageous expenditures and benefits for the privileged government class; to tea party against the growing national debt.

Our country, and the free world, are at a crossroads, and we all have a role to play in deciding the direction of the future. The war in Afghanistan continues. Economies are failing. Populations are growing and aging. The only thing I'm not worried about at the moment is global warming, as I play "The Blizzard" and sing along.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.

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