Sign of the End Times

I’m relaxing on Sunday morning with the NYT, being all churched-out for the week. But no escaping religion. Back page of the Review section asks the theological question, ‘Is That Jesus in Your Toast?’

Such apparitions can be as lucrative as they are seemingly miraculous. In 2004, a Florida woman named Diane Duyser sold a decade-old grilled cheese sandwich that bore a striking resemblance to the Virgin Mary. She got $28,000 for it on eBay.

The authors totally overlook the most alarming aspect of this story. It’s not superstition– that’s as old as humanity. It’s not the fact that some people have way more money than sense- ditto. It’s the fact that a ten-year-old grilled cheese sandwich is still intact. I’m wondering is some nice American cheese between 2 slices of white bread incorruptible? Like the fallen trees around Chernobyl? Or a McDonald’s burger? Or snacks that fall under the couch and petrify?
I don’t know whether the Virgin Mary would recognize any of these things as food, or trust them to be Kosher. Perhaps she appeared on the grilled cheese sandwich to warn us– don’t eat this stuff.

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Escapee from Phelps Hate Cult Tells All

Proving the old saying that only the good die young, hate profiteer Fred Phelps has gone to Judgment. In the closed world of Westboro Baptist Church, the male leaders sort out who will inherit the pulpit. Phelps’ daughter Shirley, who would seem the likely candidate, is said to be disqualified for being female. Another female sect member, daughter of one of the inner circle, left years ago and told her story.

Lauren Drain ‘Banished- Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church’ was drafted into the hate cult of the Phelps family at age 15, and then at 22 expelled and utterly cut off from her family and only community she knew.

Lauren Drain had unacceptable heterosexual tendencies, and could not suppress her interest in single men her own age. She harbored secret fantasies of getting married and having children. Since Fred Phelps had declared that the imminent end of the world required 100% self sacrifice from his followers, Lauren’s insubordination was not tolerated. The cruelty that the cult practiced on its targets was turned on her.

But she is quite honest about the mean-girl thrill of being right and facing a common enemy, as she recounts a trip to Washington, DC in the days after 9/11…

“You are going to hell! You are all fag enablers!” we hollered over one another. “We are the only true patriots,” I added. “If you people were really patriotic and religious, you would be standing with us holding signs.” I told them that God mocked their calamities, and good Christians were supposed to warn nations against sin. “Thank God for September 11!” I yelled, the strongest insult to the sinners and the one most certain to get a rise out of the people within earshot. I looked at Megan, Shirley’s oldest daughter. She had the same fiendishly excited look on her face that I did. All of us were brimming with passion. We quickly became the center of attention, and we reveled in it. Our objective was to stir up as much controversy and animosity as we could in the four hours our permit allowed us. We were succeeding before we even reached our positions. Finally, when we were at our site, we pulled off our sweatshirts and jackets to expose our T-shirts. We held our picket signs high in the cold air; mine was a big poster with the words GOD HATES FAG ENABLERS printed in bold, straight lettering.

Despite our audience’s sense that we were nothing but hatemongers, our real objective was to enlighten sinners before Judgment Day. We were telling them that they needed to obey God if they wanted to save their souls, even though we didn’t really believe their souls were salvageable. We were the chosen ones, and we were going to heaven to live in the presence of God. From our heavenly perch, we’d be able to mock the sinners burning in the Lake of Fire below us in their place of eternal punishment and torture. Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church

I have mixed feelings about Lauren Drain. Great sympathy for an ordinary woman who was dragged into a cruel and perverse group. She has a core of sanity that allowed her to survive the total rejection by her family and friends.

But there’s an absence. By the end of the book Lauren Drain still does not seem to recognize how much harm the Westboro Baptist Church does with its violation of funerals and vicious slogans. I’m reminded of the saying that people who become addicted stop growing up and stay stuck in immaturity until they get clean. Lauren Drain’s memoir is the voice of a teenager who craves belonging and acceptance– unaware that the people she looks to are too damaged to give her anything good. It’s helpful that she honestly admits that the Westboro cult is having fun. Going into battle is exciting, whether history judges you right or wrong.

She does not look too deeply at the actions of the Westboro cult. Perhaps because she still identifies as Christian, or in spite of it, she does not call them to account for their hate. She seems to have a blankness where there should be some recognition of the atrocious behavior that Westboro leverages to get attention, and the degree to which they attack innocent people. Words that carry an implied threat of violence are a weapon, and Westboro uses this weapon with malice and intent.

It’s not enough to apologize, as Drain does in her epilogue, and to arrive at tolerance. Not when your life experience has shown you the inside of organized hate. I hope she will not stop her questioning at this point.

For people interested in opposing this cult, or understanding cults generally, ‘Banished’ is an eye-opener. The core of the group is blood relatives, and Lauren Drain and her family were never completely accepted into the inner circle. They use the media astutely. Conversion is not their goal–airtime is. The more shock value they can create, the better. Many of them are lawyers and they know how to stay just within the law. They managed to win a lawsuit by a bereaved family after violating a funeral. The Phelps clan is much more engaged with the secular world than, for example, the Scientologist Sea Org. The cult encouraged Lauren Drain to go to nursing school, and in turn she used her earnings to support the group.

Jael[Phelps] and I finished nursing school and graduated together near the top of our class. In keeping with tradition, we picketed our college graduation, and neither of us went to our pinning ceremony. We accepted full-time jobs in the cardiac wing of St. Francis Hospital, where we had both worked part-time for several years. If I wasn’t working, I was focusing on everything the church expected of me, studying the Bible without being contentious or splitting hairs. I was successfully staying away from boys and evil, spreading the Word of God, and contributing financially to the church coffers and to my family.

That St. Francis Hospital hired nurses who spent their spare time spreading hate speech and violating funerals amazes me. Perhaps this is the far limit of what can be gotten away with under cover of religion.

Comedienne, truth-teller and all-around outrageous woman, Margaret Cho, wrote on her blog about the emotions stirred up when singer Michelle Shocked tossed out the Westboro slogan, ‘God hates fags’–

Fear clouds my memory, because when you are being chased by a crazy man calling you and your girlfriend “you fucking dykes” and you are just a teenager, in the middle of night and nowhere and he is whipping something around, knocking the “ick” off the “Buick” on the back of your car, it’s hard to remember what was in his hands, because you are not looking at him, you are looking to get away. I didn’t turn back, I kept going, maybe to keep this girl safe, as I might be butch after all, but really because I was too scared to turn back.
If you ever are terrorized like this – RUN. Don’t look back. Don’t be a hero. It’s not like the movies. Just get out of there. Hatred and homophobia can never be underestimated. And the effect of someone saying “God hates fags” can never be underestimated either. It’s a license to kill. It’s a death sentence. It’s not funny. It’s not ok. It’s not something I can let go easily because I know what it truly means.
The violence and hopelessness behind the statement keeps me up at night and will haunt me just like the tragic memory of a young gay man who was murdered in front of my family’s bookstore in the 70s. He was beaten to death – because these men who were never caught nor punished believed that God hated him, and in my nightmares I find his teeth all over the ground and I try to save them and they keep falling out of my hands and pockets and then I realize that he is dead and has no use for them anymore and I wake up sweating, my screams waking everyone in the house.

Lauren Drain’s book describes a group that most of the time appears strikingly normal. The Westboro church members are hard-working, smart and often charming people. They can throw out hate speech because they wear the armor of God and the slings and arrows of the world can’t touch them. They have the privilege of not needing to know how much damage they do. And they wield that privilege without mercy, to outsiders and those in their group who fall out of favor.

Why are people like that? What makes us follow leaders when they march us over a cliff?

This Sunday I’ll be part of a group going to battle for righteousness. We’ll shout slogans and sing and it will feel good. We’ll make a show of force in support of the right of same-sex couples to legally marry.

The human desire to be a part of something greater than ourselves can lead us to be much better or much worse than we would be on our own. That’s human nature. We’re lucky if our better angels call to us and we are able to hear.

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Milo Stranger Part 11- Rock of Ages

preacherBack then there weren’t so many places to go, not so many places that felt right. The earth was shifting under us, vibrations working their way to the surface. Boys were graduating high school, could be in Pawtucket today and Saigon tomorrow. Everyone had a guitar and some could even play. We would hang out at the Mouthpiece, mostly. When someone had a car a bunch of us would go to sit at industrial spool tables to drink coffee and hear Ken Lyon play the blues.

Maybe if we had a clue why we were at war we would have composed martial anthems, but there it was. The youth were leading and the elders eventually followed, or at least grew their hair a little longer. Churches opened their basements for music and cast their nets. He who has ears, let him hear.

It was open mike night at The Remnant, and there were a couple of guys with guitars. Milo Stranger was going to bring his tin whistle but that man was no more reliable than a cat. Just as well, because the open mike didn’t happen either. Instead we got Reverend Bill, all the way from Illinois, to save us from the fiery pit of hell.

Reverend Bill was a tall, slim, good-looking man with tousled hair and regular clothes. He grabbed a folding chair and sat on it backwards, legs wide apart.

“You are weakened by the very music you sing to praise the Lord!” he declared, in a resonant voice that carried through the low-ceilinged room. “Christian music is prostituting herself to the world. The rock music you love so much is built on the demonic rhythms of Africa! These are the drum beats of the obscene pagan rituals of the Dark Continent! Primitive, arousing rhythms. The Devil rejoices when the so-called Christian Rock invades our sanctuary!”

The Reverend paced the tiny stage, wiped sweat and loosened another button on his shirt. When he said the word ‘prostitute’, we knew it was supposed to be something bad, but his voice caressed the word as if Jezebel herself were trying his virtue with all her forbidden charms.

And he was just warming up.

“This is your Lord!” he shouted, waving a crucifix. “Stripped naked by Roman soldiers, He is tied to a post. The Centurion raises the whip, again and again! Soon the flesh gives way and the whip cuts down to bare bone! Jesus’ back is a bloody pulp. The soldiers cut him free and he faints in a puddle of his own blood. But they pull him to his feet and begin to strike him on the face, mocking him all the while as King of the Jews!”

Reverend Bill spared us nothing. For the next hour he led us through every kind of torture imposed in a Roman crucifixion– all the way to Jesus’ slow death by suffocation as he hung by his hands at the mercy of a vicious mob. The Reverend had loosened 4 shirt buttons by the time he got to his point– the altar call.

“And so, young people, after all He has suffered for you– do you dare to reject His saving grace?”

Perhaps the Reverend made a good haul in his net that night, but we were out the door. It was a violation of a kind. The Son of God reduced to starring in a snuff film, the nice people in the Black church swaying to the demonic rhythms of Africa. We had not encountered Reverend Bill’s kind of religion before, and as wrong as it felt, did not yet have the words to refute it. But even then, voices long silenced were making themselves heard, with preaching, and poetry and singing.

Image from Labor South blogspot.

Previous installment– Milo Stranger Part 10- Ghosts of the Mills

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Is Mike Huckabee Against Pre-natal Care?

family planning
About 10 years ago I met ‘Mrs. Bendu’. Mrs. Bendu was American-born, but her family was Liberian. She grew up in Liberia and had a long career as a midwife before retiring in the US. Mrs. Bendu traveled all over, caring for women and infants in the city and in the countryside. “Women would see my uniform,” she said, “and they would beg me to come to their village, to help.”

She told me that a midwife not only delivered babies, but provided education. She would tell her patients about immunizations, nutrition for mother and baby, what they needed to know for healthy families. “I tell them, space your children.” she said very earnestly.

Too early, or too frequent childbearing can lead to preventable complications for mother and child. Experts recommend 2-3 years between pregnancies. Even in the US, where we have better access to nutrition and medical care than much of the world, family planning is important. Good health and the right circumstances are advantages.

When a woman is pregnant, the importance of pre-natal care is generally accepted. Even the stingiest states have programs for expectant mothers. But why is pre-pre-natal care a badge of shame? Why is family planning a bad thing? Why is a prescription for birth control carved out from all other prescription benefits and labelled an offense to conscience? And we’re not talking about the conscience of the woman– it’s an offense to her boss, or her pharmacist, or representative in Congress– all of whose opinions take precedence. Why is contraception put in a special category, and why are women not trusted to make decisions about birth control?

Is it the fear of sex? Wanton women having fun without punishment?

Maybe you’re heard that Republican hopeful Mike Huckabee suggested that insurance coverage for birth control is something no American woman wants– unless she’s a moocher who can’t control her sex drive.

The infamous comment
came in a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting last month.
“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be,” he said.

Somehow the debate has gone from birth control as a responsible measure by an adult who does not want a pregnancy, to a libido problem. If only we could all be celibate, what a wonderful world it would be.

Although that would probably put more of us on antidepressants, with all those side effects, so probably not a net gain in public health.

Sisters, rise up. Tell these fools that birth control is none of their business. The government should not be engineering women into unwanted pregnancies.

We pay taxes. Enough with carving out all the insurance benefits that apply to women. This is just an excuse for politicians to get attention talking about sex, when we all know darn well that most women of all persuasions use birth control at one time or another. This is basic health and survival. And Mike Huckabee’s coded language suggesting the slutty welfare queen looking to ‘Uncle Sugar’ is a naked attempt at divide and conquer. We don’t need to control our libido, we need to control our vote in 2014.

Image from

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After 9/11, Postal Workers on the Front Lines

post officeWe take the Post Office for granted. Since the founding of our country the US Mail has connected America from the cities to the most remote farms and villages. In the months after 9/11, postal workers were on the front lines.

I saw that when I went to my Post Office to mail a package. Anthrax-laced letters were being sent through the mail by persons and for a purpose unknown. The clerk at the counter was wearing rubber gloves. Thank you for your service, I told her.

In October 2011 a memorial service was held for two postal workers, Joseph P. Curseen Jr. and Thomas L. Morris Jr., who were among those who died of Anthrax infection.

Postmaster Patrick R. Donahoe called mail workers the “quiet heroes of the entire nation” during the anthrax scare and recalled their “bravery, commitment and dedication” as they continued to deliver mail. He said training and technology to detect potential threats to government letters have made the mail safer.

Just a month later, Michel Martin on National Public Radio interviewed Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst with the Cato Institute, on proposals to privatize US postal services.

[MARTIN:]The other argument that people make is one you alluded to. In rural areas, the postal service is the only game in town and that it would be cost-prohibitive and that would be a kind of a cost to our social cohesion if people in rural areas don’t have access at affordable rates to a service that allows them to essentially connect with others. What’s your answer to those two questions?

DEHAVEN: Well, first, the rural issue. Nobody forces anybody to live in the middle of Montana – and the fact of the matter is, is the federal government, the taxpayers already subsidizing rural broadband, rural electricity. And with regard to mail, is it the social cohesiveness, what binds the nation together, or is it Verizon, AT&T, Facebook and things of that nature? And again, the only way to figure out…

To me, this clarifies the difference between a business for profit and an institution for the public good. You are not cut off from the US Postal Service when you move to a farm on the prairie. And in some of the most troubled and high-crime parts of our cities workers provide public services– mail delivery, school buses, sanitation– a quiet daily testimony to what works right.

These workers are part of the fabric that connects us. We’ve all heard about the postal worker who is the first to notice mail piling up, an elder in trouble.

Would a patchwork of for-profit businesses serve us as well?

Will they hire veterans with good pay and benefits, or temp workers at the lowest wage? Will they deliver insulin to a remote village in Alaska, or letters to addresses in the inner city? Will they bail in a national crisis, or be among those who restore order? Will they help stop mail crime and misuse, or is that not in their contract?

The US Postal Service is a public good that goes back to 1791. It is too important to sell at a fire sale. We won’t miss it until it’s gone.

Image of Post Office from 49th Parallel Forum where citizens saved the Post Office in Slab Fork, W.Virginia.

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Young People Today and their Wicked, Wicked Music

I shouldn’t consort with Little Green Footballs, but they do report that Glenn Beck and Bryan Fischer agree that pop music is Satanic.

Was singer Katy Perry’s performance at the Grammy Awards on Sunday “demonic?” That’s how Glenn Beck described it on his radio show Tuesday, saying he wasn’t so much shocked by the performance, but rather shocked that it wasn’t a major topic of conversation on Monday.

Hey, I’m shocked that more people don’t read my blog, so I feel his pain.

But he’s not exactly on the leading edge. Preachers were denouncing the Devil’s music when The Empress of the Blues shocked the South.

Here’s Bessie Smith from 1930

Fire is burning down below
If you ain’t right down you go
to original hot brim stone
Let you start right in to moan

You better get down on your knees
and let the god lord hear your pleas
On that you want to rest with ease
Moan you moaners

Just bend your head way down and pray
to have the devil chased away
Come let your souls be saved today
Moan you moaners

To get the total irreverence you have to hear her sing it, along with The Bessermer Singers who were doing the male backup thing long before Gladys Knight and the Pips. It’s hysterical, still pretty edgy too. I think Glenn Beck would be offended.

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Sarah Palin, WWTD (What Will Trig Do?)

For a former vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin sure hates the government. Here is her Obamacare-hating response to last night’s State of the Union Address, with some Ted Cruz for good measure…

Ronald Reagan said the nine most frightening words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Well, last night’s promise to grow even more unaffordable, unsustainable bureaucracy confirms we need rescuing from government like never before.

While Palin runs around the country exhorting working people to reject universal affordable health care coverage, she is raising a son, Trig, with Down Syndrome. She herself describes some of the challenges here.

Children with Down Syndrome can get support from Social Security Disability. The monthly check may just be pocket change compared to the Palin wealth today, but in the years ahead Trig will have that government safety net. The despised ‘community organizers’ should also be thanked for advocating to include special-needs children in public education, and other benefits. It takes taxpayer money, but it’s the right thing to do.

Coincidentally, one of the Republican rebuttals to the State of the Union address was delivered by Rep.Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She is also raising a son with Down Syndrome.

On health care, McMorris Rodgers said Republicans will continue to fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and she knocked the administration for the rocky rollout of the president’s signature law.

“We’ve all talked to too many people who have received cancellation notices they didn’t expect or who can no longer see the doctors they always have,” she said. “No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but the president’s health-care law is not working.”

“Republicans believe health-care choices should be yours, not the government’s,” she added. “And that whether you’re a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you.”

This sounds a lot like the Affordable Care Act provision that insurance can’t exclude people with pre-existing conditions. And she doesn’t say exactly how people who need insurance will find coverage that meets all their needs at an affordable price, but we’re waiting.

I go back and forth between disillusionment with the Obama administration, and the hope that the President is playing 11th dimensional chess. Right now it looks like in addition to making the Affordable Care Act legally unstoppable, he has changed the terms of the debate. Considering the propaganda machine that has been cranking out attacks on social programs since Ronald Reagan, this is amazing. If we do the right thing today, all our children will be better off tomorrow.

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That Slutty Woman Taking Care of Grandma

I remember my first paycheck for a week’s work in a nursing home. I just stared at it–stunned that I could be paid so little for the hardest job I’d ever done. Although training and pay have improved since the 80′s, the cost of living has increased relentlessly. I think it is ironic that the heavy hand of the Catholic Church is falling on some of the hardest-working and least paid women in our workforce.

The Supreme Court will soon decide on the case brought by the Little Sisters of the Poor, to cut contraceptive coverage from the standard insurance employee benefit. The argument on the right is that birth control is inexpensive, an extra, and not a necessary part of health care. Never mind that hormonal birth control is prescribed for reasons other than contraception. The nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor claim their right to practice their religion at the expense of the women who toil in their elder care facilities.

If it were just financial expense, isn’t The Pill cheap?

According to Planned Parenthood, typical costs for birth control include birth control pills $15-50/mo, IUD $500-1000 for insertion, emergency contraception $30-65/one dose. That doesn’t include the cost of a doctor’s visit.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median hourly pay for a nursing assistant at $11.83, or $24,650/year.

Per Rhode Island Kids Count…

Between 2000 and 2006 in Rhode Island, the average cost of rent in Rhode Island steadily increased from $748 to $1,172. In 2007, the average cost of rent decreased by $30 from the previous year to $1,142.
To be able to pay the average rent in Rhode Island without a cost burden in 2007,a worker would have to earn $19.77 an hour for 40 hours a week year-round. This is
almost three times the state’s minimum wage of $7.40 per hour.

Nursing assistant is not a 9-5 job. Facilities need to fill shifts 24/7, and many of the workers need flexible hours. They often are caring for children or elderly parents in their own families.

So, looking at a hypothetical employee of the Little Sisters of the Poor, working full time at the residence in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, married, renting, raising 2 children– what difference does an extra $50 month make? Maybe it would be some gas in the car, shoes for the kid, or some other wild extravagance. And what difference would it make if she were able to get an IUD– which would be unaffordable out of pocket? Just a little less time spent in pharmacies and doctor’s offices, right? Working people have plenty of spare time, don’t they?

One of the worst-paying nursing homes I worked in was a religious non-profit. The pay was $10/hour, and a full-time worker there told me he took home about $300/wk. He took the bus and shared an apartment. Rhode Island just raised its minimum wage to a generous $8.00/hr. Wow.

Mike Huckabee, and his friends on Fox move in a different world altogether. They can spend more on lunch than one of these nursing assistants earns in a week. But that doesn’t stop them from lecturing workers on why having your boss pick through your health care is not intrusive-

And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing or them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let’s take that discussion all across America because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say, Enough of that nonsense.

I say enough of this nonsense. Enough of slut-shaming American women. Blocking access to contraception, as always, hurts low-income women the most. Applying veiled references to welfare to women who work and simply want their prescription drugs and treatments to be between them and their doctors is disgraceful.

That the Little Sisters, who should know better, and politicians looking for a soapbox target the low-wage workers is just wrong.

Sisters, stop interfering with these women’s health insurance, and while you’re at it–give them all a raise.

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Cult Zombie Reading Project Part 2–Saved by Gossip

So, I’ve read through memoirs of Scientologists, escapees from Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints polygamists, Hare Krishna, Pentecostals, and some nice Mennonites. Now I’m down to Moonies. Interestingly, Kindle has almost nothing to offer and I’ve had to send away for books on-forgive me-Amazon.

I’m reading Gordon Neufeld’s memoir, and one paragraph just jumped out at me. Gordon describes the quick eviction of a couple of potential marks who threatened to turn the tables.

He had managed to recruit the two young backpackers to spend a week on a Moonie farm in Boonesville,CA. One seemed less susceptible than the other, so the men were separated so the group could work on the more likely convert. There was a strict rule against private conversations such as these guys managed after everyone else went to sleep.

It seems the two had been discovered by a Boonesville staff member while they were discussing their doubts and they were immediately told to collect their things and leave. Heartbreak and Rage-Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon by K.Gordon Neufeld p.49

The poor guys were dropped by the highway and left to hitchhike back to civilization. Pretty tough treatment from the group that had been ‘love bombing’ them.

In the 70′s, feminist consciousness-raising groups would have conversations that ended in– “That happened to you? It happened to me too. I thought I was the only one who felt like that. I thought it was my fault.”

This is not victimology. This is awakening to reality. The power of these conversations is the reason that two guys comparing notes on the Moonie farm were so dangerous that they had to be removed immediately before the fire spread.

Gossip is the weapon of the women, the servants quarters, the kitchen, the cubicle. Often destructive, but sometimes life-saving. This ‘tell-all’ culture can be wearing, but who would want to be a loyal true-believer in groupthink gone bad?

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John Green on the Voting Rights Act

voting rights actI’ve lived in Rhode Island since 1974. I was born and raised in the South. When I was fourteen, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in the presence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To my way of thinking, perhaps nothing other than equality, is more emblematic of true democracy than the right to vote. When Johnson signed that act into law, I remember feeling like we were at last, on the road to creating that ‘more perfect union’.

But in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding that same Voting Rights Act, this is no longer the case. With this egregiously irresponsible decision, the Supreme Court has in effect, set us back by subverting the very democratic process itself. While this is not anything new in Supreme Court history, this latest, most shameful example begs several questions. Chief among them, What did Dr. King die for? What did ordinary citizens like Viola Liuzzo die for? Nothing, so it would seem.

While I’m confident literacy tests or poll taxes won’t resurface, the Court has abdicated its mandate, and in so doing , has left the door open to new forms of ‘legal’ disenfranchisement, just as odious and wrong-headed as those eradicated in 1965. I laud the efforts of those in Congress trying to put the teeth back into the Voting Rights Act. I pray it won’t take another fifty years.

Image from Malcontends Blogspot

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