Tag Archives: Boston

Here We Go Again

Gay groups denied permission to march in St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston Wait a minute, that sounds eerily familiar…

Oh yeah, deja vu all over again!

Last year, I found out about a group of LGBT Irish who sought to march in the NYC parade and were turned down. I was upset, thinking that those people wanted to celebrate the fact they were Irish and were refused because they also happened to be gay. They would have to choose whether to celebrate a part of their heritage that basically rejected them simply because of who they were. So I wrote a column for the Chronicle and cited a similar case in Boston that actually was the precedent that the NYC parade organizers used to exclude the group of LGBT Irish.

In the column I mentioned how hard it was to find the policy online. Turns out I didn’t know where to look. Perhaps the rule cited by the parade council is unwritten and barely spoken about, but the court case ruling that favored the parade council in Boston over 15 years ago was easily found once I got the case name, thanks to the Boston.com article.

The decision, to quote Wikipedia

Justice Souter delivered the unanimous opinion of the court on June 19, 1995. The Court reasoned that, even though the Council did not have a narrow, set message that it was intending to convey, the parade nevertheless constituted a message that the Council had a right to protect. Noting that, while the Council had been fairly lenient in its guidelines for who they chose to allow in their parade, the Court said this did not necessarily mean that the Council waived its right to present its message in a way it saw fit. The right to speak, the Court reasoned, includes the right to determine “what not to say.”  Of primary concern to the Court was the fact that anyone observing the parade (which regularly gained a large number of spectators) could rationally believe that those involved in the parade were all part of an overriding message the Council was seeking to provide.  In this vein, the unanimous Court said that the Council could not statutorily be prohibited from excluding the messages of groups it did not agree with. Effectively, the Council could not be forced to endorse a message against its will.

Like with most supreme court rulings, it takes a couple read-throughs to comprehend it. But at least it does have a sense of logic, even if that logic was used to come to a decision that I disagree with.

I just hate the idea of this accepted practice of exclusion. It won’t change anytime soon, as the court ruling basically said it was up to the parade councils to determine what kind of “message” they wanted to say with the units in their parades. Have the parade organizers not heard of the axiom that actions speak louder than words? By not including Gay and Irish groups for many years in a row, they are telling the public that they are old fashioned and narrow-minded, maybe even bigoted.

They are also sending a message to gays: that are gay first and foremost and that makes them less Irish than their straight counterparts.

The only solution I can see is a game of patience. The Gay Irish groups must sadly wait for the last of the old guard who wish to exclude them to die off. Then they can approach the parade’s councils again and hopefully march openly.

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Bunker Hill Day

On Sunday the 12th, the neighborhood of Charlestown celebrated its annual parade for the Battle of Bunker Hill.

In recent years city officials have debated the budget and considered getting rid to two Suffolk county holidays that celebrate important moments during the early revolution war. It would be an attempt to save money as employers get the day off for these holidays which are extremely local. The first day is March 17th, known as Evacuation Day, when the British left Boston. People not in the know have joked Boston gave itself Saint Patrick’s Day off so people could drink the whole day. The second is June 17th, the date of the Battle itself. (The parade is  always celebrated on the Sunday before the 17th, while the actual day is saved for an exercise at the Bunker Hill Monument.)

Politicians with local ties to the neighborhood come to the annual breakfast held before the parade and hosted by the Bunker Hill Associates. While the debate has waxed and waned on Beacon Hill, these politicians have picked up a sentiment stating that we couldn’t have had July 4th without June 17th.

Interestingly the holiday and parade celebrate a military defeat rather than a victory. The rag-tag Continental (or just Massachusetts) militia  held Breed’s Hill through three separate advances by the larger, better trained British Army. When they finally gave up, it wasn’t for lack of trying, but because they ran out of ammo. The British, in taking what turned out to be a rather in consequential hill, suffered heavy loses and learned an important lesson. These patriots were serious and would not roll over.

Perhaps I’m biased as I have lived in Charlestown and experienced these celebrates my entire life, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to get rid of this holiday. However I disagree that the battle of Bunker Hill lead to Independence Day just over a year later. Considering the path the Colonial powers and the British were taking both before June 17th and after, the fourth of July and the Declaration of Independence would have happened in some way sooner or later.

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Interesting 48 hours or so weather wise.

Yesterday was the day for my Dad to come down and pick me up from school. As I needed to check out of my dorm, since I’m studying abroad in Munich next semester, things were complicated by the fact that I needed to bring EVERYTHING home. I had all day to pack on friday, as followers on my Twitter noticed. But I still didn’t manage to finish packing the night before.

I awoke on Saturday with the news shows absolutely buzzing about this Nor’easter/Blizzard/OMG SNOWPOCOLYPSE!!! And I have to admit the video of President Obama getting off of Air Force One the night before was quite impressive. Props to the pilots being able to land that huge jet in a white out. You could barely see the plane (the half painted white was completely gone) and you could barely catch glimpses of Obama walking down the stairs in between the snow flakes whizzing by the camera, almost sideways. 

I checked the LI ferry website and they had already canceled their service in preparation of the storm. This complicated my Dad’s travel plans. We had to get off LI before it started snowing. Dad decided to go through the Bronx (using the Throggs Neck Bridge) and take the parkways to 91, the way Mom usually goes. Thankfully we loaded up the car and started driving at 1115, only an hour or so behind schedule.

The forecast said NYC and CT would start seeing snow around 2 at the latest. We were still in CT and didn’t see any snow when they said it would start snowing. In fact, as we drove West, and a little by little North, the sky kept getting thinner and lighter. The storm actually stalled over LI and NYC. Snow was supposed to fall in Boston around 6 or so, but 6 hours later, it had just started flurrying. The ground was still too dry (and maybe a little to warm) for it to stick when I went to bed.

I finally awoke to a winter wonderland this morning, only 36 hours or so shy of the Winter Solstice. I only hope we don’t get dumped on as much as DC, and LI.

It’s times like these that really make me appreciate meteorology. I sometimes wish I could study to become a meteorologist and be on TV, but I don’t think I could handle being wrong (a lot)


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‘Meep’ follow up

A column from the Ideas section of the Boston Globe follows up on the story about the Danvers High school banning the word meep.   ( Which I wrote a blog post about a month ago)

Meep has been used many ways as slang. The column says that Urbandictionary has 71 entries for it!

A word is only as powerful as people says it is. So why am I still hung up about the principal banning the word? Maybe because by banning it, he gave it more power than it had before. I don’t really know…  but I found the ending of the column to be really interesting:

All words mean only what we all collectively agree they should mean, no more and no less. In Danvers, meep came to mean: “We’ll obey your rules when we feel like it.” And that, in the end, made it a dirty word.

~Erin McKean

When I take that in to consideration, banning the word makes more sense. It was never about the word (the school was quoted to not banning the word for the sake of the word itself) but what it stood for. In effect, they banned the word for its definition.

It’s just a little surreal to see meep on a list of words that should not be spoken at school with the likes of real four letter words and other swear words.


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A Thankful Post

I’ve heard people say online that Thanksgiving is the true American holiday, more than Christmas. And I agree with them. There are so many different versions of Christmas, and the celebrations vary around the world and around the country. But Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. No matter where you go – Except maybe Canada 😉

I am always mindful of how lucky I am. I have been given wonderful opportunities in life and also feel blessed. I always celebrate Thanksgiving by serving Mass. (It’s not a holy day, but especially since I’ve gone off to school, I love coming back to my home parish for Thanksgiving break) and then a family dinner. My father is one of seven so there’s always lots of family for the holiday. 

This year I am thankful for the people around me – both in Real Life and online. I’m thankful for my family, for my health (I’m so fortunate that both my Crohn’s and Depression are under control) and for my success at school. Everyday I thank the big guy upstairs for all my gifts but today especially I want to give thanks.

I am thankful for you reading this too! 🙂


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Real Life Vampires

In honor of New Moon’s release, I thought I would do some digging and find some unusual Vampire news. I didn’t need to go any father before I found a link from boston.com.

A Boston University Religious Studies Scholar, Joseph Laycock,   has published a book called Vampires Today: The Truth About Modern Vampirism where he discusses people who believe that they are actually vampires. They don’t bite peoples necks (that’s unsanitary) but most  feed of of people’s energy. A few will occasionally drink a few drops of blood obtained by a syringe.

Interestingly enough, Catholics have been called Vampires because of their belief in transubstantiation (that the wine and bread become the blood and body of Christ during the Mass)

Read the transcript of the interview here. There’s also a few related videos.

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Meep – a four letter word?

According to an blurb on boston.com website, the principal of Danvers High School has banned the word Meep. The principal went further and warned that suspension is a possibility if students say or display the word again.

All because “students said it to repeatedly interrupt school.”  The students had planned it on facebook.

This is a little extreme. I think it was harmless. Most of the comments on the article say that it was harmless as well to varying degrees.

At the root of the problem is the principal’s fear of losing control – which is pretty pathetic that he feels threatened by  a word used most often by a character from “The Muppet Show.”

It’s just a show of exercising power that ends up being useless. The students are most likely going to ignore his threat. It would be better for the Principal to ignore the Meep and just deal with the disruptions on their own.

Also it is an example of the widening gap between generations. I don’t know exactly how old this principal is, but I can bet by his reaction to Meep that he doesn’t understand it as a trivial word the way high school and college kids do. Meep is just a random word to say, nothing more and nothing less.


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