Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Behind the Prop 8 Ball

In today's The Daily Iowan:

It's funny that, given my interest in the Supreme Court, this is my first time actually drawing the nine justices in a cartoon. (Although I did draw a cartoon for Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings.)

If I were still drawing cartoons for The Daily Universe, I probably would have drawn something different. But for here, I went with something neutral, that could express the situation no matter which side of the debate you're on. I'm sure The Daily Iowan would have loved a "marriage equality!" cartoon, but for that they would need to ask somebody else.

I have surprisingly a lot to say on the subject of gay rights and same-sex marriage. I won't repeat it all here, but if you're curious, you can read these previous posts of mine:


It Gets Better

Good, Better, Best (and a follow-up: Letter Aftermath)

Much Ado About Nothing (and a follow-up: Update - Church's response)

Signing Off

I'll just add a few more thoughts.

1) In forming my opinion, I do my best to follow the teachings of my church and prophet. A lot of people (more and more these days) would say that I'm a blind follower. But I'm not following blindly. The way I see it, the prophet and apostles have answered questions for me, and I'm going to follow those answers. And I have faith that these men speak eternal truth, and speak for God. And I'm willing to reshape or change opinions to align more closely with what they say. Not because I'm a blind follower, but because they are following the truth, and I want to join them. And I can't go that direction, and at the same concede to the growing trends in the world and move in that direction too. Maybe someone feels like he or she can fragment him or herself into a religious, spiritual identity and a secular, "pragmatic" identity. But I try to avoid even making that attempt.

2) By remaining in full support of traditional marriage, I feel like I'm part of an ever-shrinking minority - especially as a 26-year-old, at law school, in Iowa City. It feels like it won't be long before the only people who agree with me are fellow Latter-day Saints (and even people who support traditional marriage in that demographic seem to be shrinking in numbers).

I'm sure to many people, my opinion seems so backward and behind the times, and that it is outright bigotry. But it wasn't long ago that the topic of same-sex marriage was just a matter of differing opinions. That has changed though, rapidly and recently, to a sentiment that supporters of "marriage equality" were just quicker to arrive at an inevitable conclusion, and are impatiently waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. Those supporters assume it's a given that people have an inalienable right to marry whoever they want.

I think a lot of this mentality comes from our retrospective view on the Civil Rights Movement. We know that Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks were the "good guys," and Jim Crow was the "bad guy." And we will go out of our way to make sure we don't follow the footsteps of restaurant owners who kept black people out of their businesses or bus drivers who sent black people to the back seats. They were the "bad guys" in our middle school social studies textbook, and we are not going to repeat their crimes and mistakes. And already, just one generation removed, we have a black president in the White House.

All of that is good and impressive in many ways. And there are many lessons to be learned from the Civil Rights Movement that can be applied to fighting for gay rights. Gay people shouldn't be segregated, shouldn't be discriminated against when renting apartments or offering jobs, shouldn't be bullied, and definitely do not deserve to be victims of violence.

I'm all for gay rights in the sense of treating everybody with the same legal and democratic protections, regardless of their sexual orientation. Certainly, many of the same rights and respects that were fought for in the Civil Rights Movement deserve to be given to the gay community as well. In fact, I would probably support any "gay rights" that the gay community and its supporters want - except marriage.

But saying the fight for "marriage equality" is "today's Civil Rights Movement" is too simplistic. And I don't just mean that marching in Washington is different from changing your Facebook profile picture or tweeting. Being black and being gay are totally different. And fighting for equal protection of the law and fighting against discrimination and fighting for marriage are totally different.

3) I see a lot of people who resolve this issue for themselves by saying, "I just think government should get out of marriage altogether." There's probably a good argument for that somewhere. But with some people I know who take that stance, I suspect they use that argument because it satisfies them if they want to keep one foot on both sides of the debate, and reconcile both their religious beliefs and their interest in keeping pace with the world's so-called "progress."

I, for one, am glad that there are certain governmental privileges for people who are married, I'm glad that my relationship with my wife is recognized by my government as well as my church (more on that below). Marriage has been a fundamental unit of our law since medieval times (and in our society and human existence since Adam and Eve). I don't think it would be easy to just remove it, and even if it were, I don't want to try.

4) Some people who are familiar with the Church compare this to the revelation on the priesthood in 1978, which opened up the priesthood to men of all races and ethnicities. These people say the Church eventually "came around" on that issue, and so they'll eventually come around on this one. And they eagerly anticipate the day when they can tell people like me, "I told you so!"

But, again, race and sexual orientation are totally different. We don't know all the reasons why black men couldn't hold the priesthood for about 150 years. I do know that through the course of history, God has revealed His gospel in bits and pieces, to segments of the population, one at a time (like revealing His gospel first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles - see Acts 10). And I do know that by opening the priesthood to all worthy men, regardless of race, the Lord was furthering his work on the earth.

Same-sex marriage is different. Allowing men of all races to have the priesthood doesn't change what priesthood is. But allowing for same-sex couples to get married does change the definition of what marriage is. And, of course, any member of the Church knows that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God," for so many reasons (that I can get into more at another time). The gospel teaches us that not even every heterosexual marriage will be in effect for eternity - only those marriages done in the holy temple, under priesthood authority, and when the husband and wife are faithful to their covenants.

For the Church to embrace same-sex marriage, or give it the same validity as traditional marriage, would obstruct the Lord's work, rather than advance it. The most "progressive" reach I could ever fathom the Church making would be to do nothing and withdraw from the debate, continuing to recognize only traditional marriage while the entire world around them preaches for "marriage equality." As time goes on, the Church could possibly be more tolerant and could possibly be more sympathetic to the gay community - but I don't see how the Church would ever be accepting of the practice of same-sex marriage. That would be being "lukewarm" about one of our purposes of life and an essential component of the plan of salvation.

5) I'll end with these words from my friend Chris Hill:

"This [belief] has nothing to do with how we feel about homosexuals as individuals. I believe they are incredible people, I'm sure better than me in so many ways. This just explains what I believe to be the divine nature of marriage and the family. Love is love; and all have the right to love whom they please; but marriage is marriage."

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Other March Madness

In today's Daily Iowan:

As I was driving around Coralville on Saturday, I wondered why there were all these NCAA Tournament banners around the city. Then I noticed signs saying "Welcome NCAA Womens Basketball." So I looked it up, and that's where I learned that Iowa City was one of the hosts for the first weekend of the women's tournament, and that Iowa was in the tournament for the sixth year a row.

There's a student at BYU who I'm sure will appreciate this cartoon ... the year I was a sports editor at The Daily Universe, during the reign of Jimmermania, there was a girl who constantly wrote letters to the editor and commented on the website and replied to tweets, demanding more coverage of BYU women's basketball. (She also had the same last name as one of the star players on the women's team, probably the player's sister.) The women's team was good that year, and certainly deserved attention. But any sense of newsworthiness will tell you that men's basketball should have more attention devoted to it, especially the 2010-2011 season at BYU.

Of course, credit should be given where it's due, and I don't mind highlighting women's basketball. I know a lot of sports fans who seem to have almost contempt for women's basketball. I don't have a problem with it, because I like sports in general. As long as I think of women's basketball as a different sport from men's basketball and don't try to compare them, I can still enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Missed the Bubble

An update on the state of Iowa basketball in today's Daily Iowan:

Iowa ended its regular season with two wins, and heads to the Big 10 Tournament this week. Unless Iowa wins the tournament, I think they'll fall short of making it to the NCAA Tournament.

I am way out of the loop on college basketball this year, I'll have no idea how to fill out my bracket. Oh well, such is law school. The idea is that someday I'll have a comfortable enough job where I can watch more college basketball.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Drone On

The news is a little old, but I appreciate that The Daily Iowan published my Rand Paul filibuster cartoon anyway.

This one was fun to make. I found a transcript of Sen. Paul's filibuster, copied and pasted a page of it into a Word document and made it fill the page without any margins. I drew the cartoon on another piece of paper, cut it out, and glued it on top of the transcript. When I scanned it, it looked like it was all on one piece of paper.

The filibuster, naturally, makes me think of one of my all-time favorite movies: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Nowadays, the filibuster has become more mechanical, but Sen. Paul returned to the romanticism by actually standing up and talking for hours.

The pun of this cartoon was too good to pass up. But really, this filibuster seemed to be a noble cause. First, I didn't believe that President Obama could attack Americans on American soil with drones. Then, Attorney General Eric Holder responded to the inquiry by saying: "It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States."

And, I didn't believe that President Obama actually would target Americans with drone attacks, even if he could. But then I read somewhere a hypothetical question, "What if President Lyndon Johnson or President Nixon had drones at their disposal during the college campus protests and riots?" That made me realize that at least plausibly there might be some use for drones on American soil.

Anyway, maybe we should all be rest assured by Eric Holder's response to the filibuster.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Early appointment

I had a hard time coming up with a cartoon for Hugo Chavez's death. I knew I wanted to, both because it's big news and because I have a special connection with South America. But when I sat down to think, I realized it was kind of hard to come up with something.

Chavez was a self-proclaimed enemy of the United States. But he wasn't an enemy in the same way that Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein were. So I didn't want to lump him together with those guys, or draw a cartoon of him at the gates of hell being welcomed by Satan. But I also didn't want to draw him at the Pearly Gates, and imply that I think he was a saint. I don't think I would draw him entering the Pearly Gates, but just drawing him surrounded by clouds and halos and talking to St. Peter would probably not portray the idea that I intended.

Another idea I thought of was to draw President Obama saying something like, "On my watch, we got rid of both Osama bin Laden and Hugo Chavez!" And someone commenting and saying, "Wow, he really is more confident in his second term." I might still draw that one later, but I wanted to actually draw Hugo Chavez himself (and, again, I wanted to avoid equating Chavez with bin Laden).

So then I was thinking about Hugo Chavez's connections with Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara, and how it's somewhat ironic that Castro has survived both of them. And that's what led me to this idea, replacing Satan or St. Peter with the Grim Reaper:

In today's Daily Iowan.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bet On It

Yesterday, voters in Linn County (where Cedar Rapids is) approved building a casino in their county.

I thought it was interesting to see so much support for the casino, around town and also among Cedar Rapids natives at the law school. About 10 years ago, when I was growing up in Hood River, Oregon, there was a proposal to build a casino nearby. And there I saw a lot more opposition for the casino than support, and not just among my fellow "goody two-shoes" Mormons. I think I saw one "Yes Casino" bumper sticker the whole campaign. I don't know if it's a difference between Oregon and Iowa, or a difference between 2002 and 2013, or what it is.

Anyway, here's my cartoon:

I also did a cartoon for the possibility that the casino didn't pass:

I also drew a cartoon yesterday for Hugo Chavez's death. I didn't get it done in time for today's paper, plus they had this casino cartoon already. So maybe it will be in tomorrow's paper.

Monday, March 4, 2013


I don't know about you, but I thought Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea was totally random. Then I thought of the other Americans who have been allowed to enter the borders: the Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and Bill Clinton (that was back when it was Kim Jong Il).

So that's when I came up with this, in today's Daily Iowan:

It was fun coming up with random celebrities to fill out the bingo card. I did basically whoever popped into my head, leaning toward people who have been in the news lately and people with short names that would fit in the squares I drew. In case you can't read them, here they are: Jennifer Lawrence, Tupac Shakur, Wayne LaPierre, Chuck Norris, George Michael Bluth, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Geico Gecko, Donald Trump, [I don't remember who I meant to be behind Kim Jong Un's hand], LeBron James, Joe Biden, free square, Dennis Rodman, Bill Clinton, Condi Rice, Malia Obama, Russell Simmons, Oprah Winfrey, Tina Fey, Piers Morgan, Joe Flacco, William Shatner, Joe the Plumber.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Everything's Coming Up

(or "J.J.")

I have an announcement to make: I have a job this summer!

I'll be working in the compliance office of the University of Iowa Athletics Department. It's going to be awesome. I think it's going to be really cool, and different from a typical legal job. I like that I'll be working with college sports again, and kind of returning to my Daily Universe sportswriting days a little bit. Of course I won't be writing articles, but I'll be working more behind-the-scenes of running a college athletics program under the NCAA.

Erin is of course especially excited, because I'll be staying here in Iowa City this summer. Part of me (maybe most of me) really wanted to do a big adventure and spend the summer in D.C. or New York or something. I think having an internship in New York City a couple of summers ago really spoiled me - it kinda set the standard, and now almost everything else pales in comparison, haha. There wasn't really a whole lot in Iowa City that sounded interesting to me. But then I thought of working at the compliance office, and it was my favorite out of all the people who responded to my job applications. And Erin is happy that she'll have her husband around this summer to help her with our three kiddos.

One thing that will be great about this job is what it might set me up for. After working with NCAA compliance, I'll be on a track for lots of different jobs with the NCAA or any college or university. I think it would be awesome to stay connected with college sports and make a living out of it. I'm still interested in other areas of the law, but we'll see where this takes me.

The way I found the job is kind of interesting too. For my Summer 2013 Job Hunt, I basically applied for any job that came up in Symplicity (the online service that Iowa uses for posting jobs for law students) that looked interesting, including pretty much any judicial externship that came up. But I did think of some places to apply to on my own, including a Utah Supreme Court justice I met last year and a federal district judge in Houston who Erin's family knows. I asked my friends with connections in the baseball world, Dylan Higgins and Lakia Holmes, for any resources or ideas they had for finding a baseball legal job. I also applied for a couple of internships I discovered through the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.

But this one was totally my own initiative. There was a panel at the law school last semester with Dan Matheson and Monica Mims about the NCAA, college sports, and law. It was really interesting and got me more excited about working in sports law. (Of course, every time I come into contact with one of the areas of law I'm interested in, I think, "Yeah, that's what I want to do!" and that option rises above the others. So I change my mind a lot.) Dan Matheson used to work in NCAA enforcement, and used to work for the New York Yankees. Now he teaches sports business for undergraduates at Iowa. Monica Mims ran track for Iowa, then she got her juris doctorate here, worked in the USC compliance office, and now works at the compliance office here.

I emailed Monica, telling her I really enjoyed that NCAA panel and that I was interested in any internship opportunities at the compliance office this summer. I didn't even know if they regularly had interns or if that was even a thing. But she told me to come in for an interview, and at the interview she sounded like she was really interested in having me work there. Then a couple of weeks later I got an email from her, basically asking, "When can you start?"

I'll start at the end of May. Go Hawkeyes!


Oh, and I should mention something else in the world of employment.

A lot of law students here start during their second year working as research assistants, or R.A.s. There are a lot of perks to being an R.A.: since you have a job in Iowa, you qualify for in-state tuition, and since you work for the university, you qualify for their health insurance. More importantly, you get to work one-on-one with a professor and help him or her with whatever research projects they are working on, or scholarly articles they are writing, or that sort of thing.

My professor for Foundations of International Law, Professor Burns Weston, invited me to apply for an R.A. position with him this coming school year. And then he offered me the job! So I'll be making some money during the rest of law school. It's only 10 hours a week, but it will be a great experience to be on the more academic side of law. And working with Professor Weston will be amazing. I really enjoy his class, and he is a leading expert in the field of international law, especially environmental law.

I'm lucky and very grateful to have these opportunities, and I'm looking forward to what I'll learn and do the rest of the year and beyond.

Lester the Sequester

In today's Daily Iowan:

To be honest, I don't know a whole lot the sequester, and how bad or not bad it is. But, I did make the observation, that "Fiscal Cliff" sounds way more intense than "Sequester." "Cliff" just sounds like a tough guy, while "Sequester" to me rhymes with "Lester," which does not sound like a tough guy.
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