Living when and where I do, it is sometimes - no, often, if I'm honest - difficult for me to get worked up about women's rights, or get teary-eyed about women's suffrage. I take for granted my right to vote, and expect that my voice will be heard when I express an opinion.
Granted, I do also expect to get condescending treatment from men in places like car lots or mechanic shops, and that there will be times when my opinion counts for less to some people because I am a woman. All the same, I find it very hard to imagine what it was like for women in the years before the vote was granted them - us - when they - we - were legally considered chattel. While it doesn't sit right with me that women had to wait 50 years after all men in the US, regardless of race, colour, or 'previous condition of servitude' (15th Amendment, 1870) could vote, it has since become so entrenched in our culture that I don't even question it.
Perhaps I shouldn't be so complaisant. Nothing encourages deterioration and decay quite like inattentiveness and apathy does it? Consider first amendment rights today. The Founding Fathers of the US Constitution thought the freedoms of speech and religion were so important, they submitted the First Amendment for ratification only two years after the Constitution was first adopted. Do we treasure the freedoms of speech and religion as much as they did?
There has been a media event recently, involving an actor and his publicly stated opinion on a certain rainbow-appropriating lifestyle. He doesn't have the power to enact public policy. He isn't teaching children in a classroom. He wasn't inciting hatred or promoting bullying, He was asked a question in an interview, and he answered frankly and honestly. People may agree or disagree with his statements, but to deny he has the right to express himself is pulling at a thread of US tradition, history, and legal fabric. Judging by the response to his comments, the famous First is only applicable to those who express the correct ideas and opinions.
Where will that lead us, in the end? Will parents be prohibited from teaching their children faith-based morals? Will doctors be legally chastised for providing information contrary to public opinion? Rainbows are bright and cheery - gay, in fact - but the multi-coloured banner represents a physically, spiritually, and socially harmful way of life. But through clever language appropriation, political positioning, and heart string tugging, any expression of concern for well being, or attempt to clarify facts is shouted down as intolerance, hatred, or fear.
The law is too subtle and nuanced a thing for a lay person to fully grasp the depth of meaning, intent, and impact of the written words. However, it isn't beyond the ken of a lay person to understand that times and trends are changing, even in the law, and to believe those changes are not for the better. What concerns me, is that we are more aware of and concerned with rights and freedoms than we are with rights and wrongs.
We can take our rights and priveleges for granted, until one day we realize that while we weren't looking, they've been taken from us, and we're chattel once more.