Being chosen to lead Exodus in 2001 was like becoming the ex-gay Pope following the Catholic sex-abuse scandals. The ministry’s board knew it could not survive another public scandal, so it questioned Chambers rigorously before deciding to hire him. During the interview process, Chambers recalls a board member asking him what success would look like under his leadership. He replied, “It looks like Exodus going out of business because the church is doing its job.”
Chambers words would later seem prophetic, but he first needed to travel a long road. In 2005, he called homosexuality “one of the many evils this world has to offer.” And in 2006, he lobbied for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. But Chambers admits that during the same year his thinking began to evolve.
“As I heard more stories and evaluated my own realities,” Chambers said, “I realized change in orientation was not possible or happening.”
(Emphasis mine). Full article is Here. Our stories matter. Our stories are what win this struggle. We tell our stories, and we stop being the monsters others have made us out to be, and we become neighbors. Our stories turn their lies to rust.
I’ll post another installment of my story by the end of this weekend. Tell yours. We will win this thing, if we tell our stories.
by Bruce |
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October 3rd, 2015
The School Shooting…(continued)
Here’s the guy who had a gun and didn’t go looking for the shooter because he knew the police might think he was the one…
Parker noted that he was hustled into a classroom with other students by a professor who asked if anyone was armed. He said he raised his hand and said he would attempt to protect his fellow students if they came under attack.
This was the sane thing to do. Note that he had military training. There’s a discipline that comes with that you just don’t see in the open carry zealots, which is what makes them so scary.
But also note this: it makes a case for not totally banning private citizens from carrying a firearm too. It’s even making me rethink my own knee jerk reaction about having them on a school campus. If this was typical behavior then I don’t think there would be much opposition to concealed carry. And with strict licensing, safety training and background checks I think this would be. This guy had military training. You would expect he could pass all of that handily. But it’s not typical behavior, and that’s the problem.
People with guns don’t worry me as long as there is some reasonable control over it. It’s the stunning lack of control the NRA and others are insisting is their right that worries me. No…being a hazard to others in our public spaces is not your right. They say if you have to get a license to drive why can’t we license gun ownership too. Well I still think people ought to be able to have guns in their homes or on their own property as long as they can pass a background check. But taking one into our public spaces should definitely require a license. And that license should definitely require passing a background check, passing a range safety and accuracy test and passing a test for knowledge of the applicable laws. Something I have a hunch the most vocal of the open carry idiots could not.
And even then, it should be left to the locality to decide what weapons are allowed and where no weapon is allowed. Cities for example, might decide no, you can’t carry Anywhere in a densely packed urban zone because of the danger to bystanders in such close quarters. No, you can’t carry in a subway. No, you can’t carry in a shopping mall. The localities know best where their own danger zones are and how to handle them. And if the argument is high crime zones are exactly where citizens need their means of protection the most, my reply is high crime zones are where civilization is failing and more people with guns sure as hell isn’t the answer to that. There’s a failure of society and government in those neighborhoods that needs to be addressed. Not every problem is a nail.
So here’s a situation where a law abiding man who had a gun on him knew better than to believe everything the NRA and the Ted Nugents of the world keep yapping about how more guns in the hands of citizens would have stopped all the spree killings we’ve suffered recently. But also there was this:
Parker noted that he was hustled into a classroom with other students by a professor who asked if anyone was armed. He said he raised his hand and said he would attempt to protect his fellow students if they came under attack.
This is why I am in favor of gun control, and why I am against outright bans.
by Bruce |
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October 2nd, 2015
The School Shooting…No, Not That One A Few Days Ago…No Not The One Before That One…
I’m going to just write some thoughts as they occur…
David Gerrold, who I follow on Facebook not so much for his fiction as his willingness to talk about how it is to work in TV and Hollywood, while lambasting NRA extremists wrote what I think is the right take on the Second Amendment. You see people arguing about the “well regulated militia” part and either ignoring that part about “the right of the people” or insisting that the one overrides the other. Gerrold said essentially that taken together they mean “the people” have a right to own guns, but that “well regulated” part means congress has the power to regulate them. Yes. That works for me. It makes complete sense.
I keep bringing this up: We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense, but our shared spaces convey shared obligations and responsibilities. To the extent that government can require car makers to make their cars safe to drive on the public streets, make them not disgorge crap into the air everyone breaths, make everyone get a license to drive on them, and tell localities exactly how to erect signage on those streets, and what sort of markings streets must have, so that the streets are safe for Everyone to drive on, it can also limit what sort of weapons you can bring into public spaces, which public spaces must of necessity be weapon free (oh…say…courthouses…polling places…Schools!) and require licensing to show that you know how to handle them safely and that you understand the law.
This is just common sense as far as I see it. Public space that is too dangerous for the public to use is a contradiction. It’s not a public space if nobody sane dares go there. And as to the notion that more guns makes public spaces safer…well:
The nutcases were babbling initially that the school was a so-called “gun free” zone, and of course, blaming that on the carnage. But it wasn’t a gun free zone after all, and furthermore, there actually Were people on campus carrying guns. They didn’t intervene for the staringly obvious reason that they were afraid the police would mistake them for the shooter if they did. Be nice if the More Guns On The Streets The Better crowd would try to understand this.
We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense. That’s a right that is obvious in the context of democracy. But that’s the limit of it. The role of government is to secure our rights. And a vital part of that is a police force that keeps the peace. How anyone sees that a dozen or so armed people fighting it out on the streets with a spree killer amounts to civilization is beyond me. The police have to handle these situations and they can’t if everyone is a potential threat. At best a weapon gives you better odds at getting the hell out of there, or staying alive while ducking and covering. But you can’t do more than that or else you are contributing to the chaos of the event.
Most of us in this life aren’t prepared to engage a shooter, even if we take our guns out to the range on a regular basis. At best we can train ourselves to handle firearms safely, hit what we’re shooting at, know what our limits are, and maybe keep our homes, loved ones and our own butts alive if the worst happens suddenly. But dealing with violent crime is the sort of specialty skill you have a trained police force for, so the rest of us can go on with the business of civilization. They keep the peace. That is their job. A country were everyone needs to bear arms to keep the peace is better described as an anarchy, not a democracy. And there’s a reason why anarchy and civilization are mutually contradictory terms.
We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense. That’s a right that is obvious in the context of democracy. But that’s the limit of it. If you want to play with military grade weapons and go after the bad guys, join the army or your local police.
And if you can’t make the cut there…take that as a lesson. Most of us can’t either. Respect the ones that can. Let them do their job. It’s a really important one.
I could wish I saw nearly as much passion about the recent news story of how Alabama, the birthplace of The Voting Rights Act, is once again moving to deny black Americans the right to vote, as I see now about gun control. Oh there is anger and activism on that issue without a doubt. But the anger, the take no prisoners fury, on this one issue is incomparable. And it is disturbing. There are so many of us who are gun owners, who believe the second Amendment confers a right on individual Americans as opposed to militias (one supposes not the sort of militias as the ones that came to Cliven Bundy’s defense…) to own a gun, who can be talked to about this, and worked together with to achieve some good sane sensible gun regulation. If only we could be talked to in terms other than we’re crazed gun nuts with Dirty Harry fantasies of killing people. Please. We are not that. We enjoy the shooting sports. We believe we have a right to self defense. We don’t have fantasies about overthrowing the government. In fact, if I could point to one thing about right winger rhetoric on guns that absolutely drives me nuts it’s the notion that our guns are a defense against tyranny. No. The ballot box is our defense against tyranny!
This is how we loose our precious democracy. The belly laugh is the same people who are bellyaching about needing their guns to defend themselves from tyranny, are the same ones making damn sure only folks like themselves are allowed to vote, or have any say in their government. Tyranny? Why goodness no…they just want Their country back is all. So I have a question for all my liberal friends who are as heartbroken and appalled as I am at the level of gun violence in this country: What change do you think is going to be remotely possible in a nation where only republican votes matter?
by Bruce |
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This came across my Facebook stream just now…
This is all of a piece with the cathedral of lies the homophobes have been building over the decades. All that junk science, all those lies about the lives of gay people, all that meticulously crafted misinformation. It was supposed to sway the masses and win them the culture war. Instead it’s cocooned them in a fantasy world. No, the Catholic church is nowhere near as gay friendly as the way more humane than Ratzinger ever was Francis is making it seem. But the same people at Liberty Council who have been manipulating Davis for their own ends, really thought they could manipulate the highest levels of the Catholic church too.
As my bitter Baptist grandma used to say, oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. And the first person you deceive when you start down that path, is yourself.
Indiana House Majority Leader Jud McMillan, a co-sponsor of the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law resigned his seat abruptly Tuesday, after a sexually explicit video starring the representative was sent via text message from McMillin’s cell phone. TheIndianapolis Star reported it is unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed.
This is the second time McMillan has resigned from a job over sexual misconduct allegations…
McMillan has styled himself as a champion of the religious right’s crusade against marriage equality. His campaign website listed marriage discrimination as his top issue. “I will protect the integrity of the institution of marriage,” the site read. “In southeastern Indiana the family has always been the foundation of our strength of community. Our relationships with our wives, husbands, parents, children, siblings and other loved ones provides the glue that binds our common purpose. In these times of turmoil the rest of the country could learn something from our example.”
Yes. Yes it can. “This is the second time McMillan has resigned from a job over sexual misconduct allegations.” Glass houses man. Glass houses.
Allow me to thump my pulpit on this One More Time, because it can’t be spoken about enough: Gay people are their scapegoats. They point their fingers at us, fashion us into scarecrows for the decline of morals and the end of civilization, so they won’t have to look at the mess they’ve made of their own lives.
Over and over again we see the righteously indignant, thumping their pulpits one day about the homosexual menace, caught up in their own tawdry sex scandals the next. Cause And Effect is going on here. They’re screaming at us, to drown out the screams of their own conscience.
by Bruce |
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September 25th, 2015
Them Homos Can Really Sing And Dance Can’t They…
This came across my Twitter stream just now…
Well…yeah. Appropriating our creative work while spitting in our faces is something they do all the friggin time. They’ll have us all thrown in jail if they could, while happily tacking our artwork to their walls, wearing our designer clothes, and humming to our music playing on their iPods. I was reading Orson Scott Card a few years back rhapsodising on how much he just loved to hear K.D. Lang sing. This is the man who has said that homosexual couples don’t really have emotional attachments to each other but only think they do. This is the man who said homosexuals are expropriating the institute of marriage and if same sex marriage were made legal he would have no further allegiance to this country.
But my goodness that lesbian can really sing can’t she…
by Bruce |
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July 8th, 2015
These clerks and judges who say they’re not granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it goes against their “sincerely held religious beliefs”…I have a question. Have you ever…Ever…Even Once….denied a heterosexual couple a license on the basis of your religious beliefs?
Or is is just the gay couples you have religion about?
Yes It’s Madness…But There’s A Method To It… (Message In A Bottle…)
Cracked Magazine, which is getting more known for it’s online lists of things (5 Classic Board Games With Disturbing Origins…4 Overlooked Consequences Of Spiderman Joining The Avengers….) just published 5 Things I Learned At A ‘Pray Away The Gay’ Camp. Here’s one of the line items…
#4. They Physically Torture You For Being Gay
“My hands were tied down and ice was placed on them while I was shown pictures of men. Later sessions would include copper heating coils, needles in my fingers, and electric shocks,” all while Sam was shown gay porn.
Then they’d take the coils away and show … men and women holding hands.
“I was never shown heterosexual sex, just heterosexual attraction,” Sam says. “I was just supposed to associate the touch of a man with pain.”
But a gay man is sexually drawn to other men. And in adults, those feelings of desire mature and evolve into deeper feelings of love and intimate trust and companionship. There’s no neat and tidy way to disconnect desire from human intimacy in adults. After decades of doing this to gay men, and witnessing for themselves the results of it, you might think they’d understand the damage they’re doing.
And you’d be right…
Obviously, despite the old saying, you can’t “heating-coil the gay away.” The torture didn’t make Sam straighter; it just made him terrified of sex, intimacy, and general human closeness.
The scapegoat has to hate themselves. They have to accept their lot in life is one of misery and pain and that they deserve it. And more importantly, they must be taught to fear anything that might lift them out of the pit of loneliness and despair: They must fear being loved.
“By the end, even hugging my father brought back flashbacks,” Sam said.
Sam isn’t alone — according to literally every scientific study, that’s exactly what happens to people who go through this kind of thing. Sex and physical intimacy are positive things that human beings seek out because they feel good, and you can’t trick the human brain into thinking something feels good by zapping it or burning it with hot copper coils. It only makes the feelings negative.
It’s not a bug…it’s a feature…
by Bruce |
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This came across my news stream just now…
Evan Young, a graduating senior at Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Colorado, was recently blocked from giving his valedictorian speech and outed to his parents.
With a 4.5 GPA and a scholarship to Rutgers University, Young was selected as valedictorian of his graduating class. Although he had agreed to edit his speech according to Principal BJ Buchmann’s revisions, Young refused to exclude his admittance to being gay.
After Young refused to remove the statement from his speech, Principal Buchmann called the student’s father, Don Young. Don recalled the conversation to the Daily Camera:
“Mr. Buchmann called me and said, ‘I’ve got Evan’s speech here. There are two things in it that I don’t think are appropriate. One was he had mentioned another student’s name. And then there was his coming out that he was gay.’”
Evan was not allowed to give his speech and was not recognized as valedictorian at his May 16 graduation.
Look carefully: They didn’t just tell him he couldn’t give his speech…they denied him his honors as class valedictorian too. It was a rank the kid had achieved by virtue of his 4.5 GPA. But he was proud. And worse, he was a gay kid who had achieved.
There’s the problem. Gay kids have to hate themselves at least as much as they are hated, if not more. They must know they are unworthy. So they silenced Evan and took away his class rank. If they could have, they’d have erased from human memory the fact that he’d ever been his school’s valedictorian. They had to. The problem wasn’t that he would have told other gay kids that it was okay to be gay, but that he would have shown them by his example that they could rise themselves up and achieve too. That was the unforgivable sin.
This came across my Facebook stream the other day…
“I pray that the church will no longer be segregated,” he [pastor Danny Cortez] explained. “I pray that those who have been marginalized would feel safe in our churches. I pray that we as the church would set aside our difference and learn what it means to be the body of Christ.”
Well good luck with that. Your congregation, save for the few who’ve decided to walk out on it for your loving your son more than the Southern Baptist Convention, understands. And something Baptists understand, if not the SBC, is the local congregation is the community that matters when it comes to church business.
The convention’s Constitution states that “churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.”
Homosexual behavior. Homosexual behavior. Homosexual behavior. That same-sex couples experience a wholeness of body and soul, love and desire, completely escapes them. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. That really is the thinking here. They are utterly incapable of seeing the son for the homosexual, the father for the Endorser Of Homosexual Behavior, the congregation for the Church Not In Cooperation.
Cortez’s letter comes just days before the the Southern Baptist Convention could vote to exclude New Heart Community Church at its scheduled in Baltimore later this week.
My poor city. Hasn’t it had enough bad publicity? I can see it now…The Southern Baptist Convention votes to exclude yet another Baptist church for being hospitable to its gay family and neighbors…in a state whose citizens voted For allow same-sex marriage…just days after Ireland did the same…
Some years ago, a young adult fresh out of high school struggling to find a workable career path, I fell in with some friends of a friend who had a shop building custom speakers and sound equipment cases for bands. In addition to building speaker and equipment cabinets, they also had an impressive sound system of their own design capable of filling a theater, which they would rent out along with their services as sound guys whenever a band needed something a bit more than the bar sized sound systems they had with them.
To make a long story short, one day while I was out with them doing a gig somewhere in Virginia, the manager of the band we were working with noticed my little lambda necklace. This was back in a time before the rainbow flag, when the lambda was the recognized symbol of the gay rights struggle. He points at it and says somewhat belligerently “Why are you wearing the gay symbol?” This was a period in my life where I was still being careful who to come out to, but at the same time I’d made a resolution to myself not to lie if cornered. Well, I was cornered just then, and hoping for the best I told him it was because I’m gay, “We don’t allow gays in our crew he says. Bernie, one of the co-owners of the speaker shop, begins laughing and saying that I’m just joking. Somehow this only made me dig my heels in more. “No, says I…I’m gay.”
Next day Bernie fired me, taking pains to insist it wasn’t because I’m gay…I just wasn’t working out. Somehow.
Time passes…the universe expands… Some years later I run back into the old friend who connected me with Bernie and George (the other co-owner). How are things? Fine, how about you? Blah…blah…blah… As we’re busy catching up with what’s been happening in our lives, Glenn asks me if I’d heard about what happened to Bernie. No, says I, what’s up with him? He’s in jail, says Glenn. Couldn’t keep his hands off of under aged girls, he says.
Glenn eventually stopped talking to me after friending me on Facebook and being shocked, shocked, to discover what a militant homosexual I am. Oh well. On judgement day let it be said I would rather stand before my creator as an unrepentant sodomite, than have to account for some of the heterosexual lives I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes.
by Bruce |
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Cheating Is When You Lie To Get What You Want
Arrogance is thinking you’re entitled to someone’s trust anyway. This came across my Facebook stream just now…
“And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it even.”
Never mind that the science regarding global warming is about as solid as it gets, here’s the thing about that. Jacob Bronowski in his magnificent book and BBC series on the history of science, The Ascent of Man, devoted an entire episode to the difference between truth and dogma, titled Knowledge or Certainty. He begins with the face of his friend, Stephan Borgrajewicz who, like himself, was born in Poland. And he asks us, how well, how precisely, can we describe this man’s face? He asks a painter to render it, and says…
“We are aware the these pictures do not fix the face so much as explore it; that the artist is tracing the detail almost as if by touch; and that each line that is added strengthens picture but never makes it final. We accept that as the method of the artist. But what physics has now done is to show that that is the only method to knowledge. There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.”
Science, says Bronowski, “…is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. ”
The arrogance that Bush is accusing those of us to believe the science of isn’t about the measured, careful judgements of the evidence of global warming. The arrogance we’re being accused of is to even think that science can tell us things about our world, about our universe, that the dogmas of the mob he represents cannot. There are two sides to this argument and it is not over the science, It is an argument about the nature of knowledge. One side believes that knowledge is something that is received. The other, that knowledge is something that is discovered, and which can always be challenged and discarded as new facts emerge. Whether it is religious dogma or political dogma, the practice of science rejects wholly the belief that any knowledge is certain, absolute, and can never be questioned.
That is the arrogance Bush means: that we think we can question for ourselves what the pulpit, the party leadership, the corporate interests tell us is true, and reject it if the evidence does not support it. That is not arrogance though it may seem like it to the authoritarians. It is humility. It is understanding and accepting the human status, that the god’s eye view is not ours, not anyone’s, not humanity’s to have, that every prophet who says thou shalt not question is a false prophet, that our lot in life is we must always ask ourselves what do we know, and how do we know it.
Prove to us that our understanding of global warming is incorrect. And if you can’t then tell us what authority you would have us follow, who says the fate of the human race and planet earth is of less importance than our blind obedience.
by Bruce |
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May 13th, 2015
For Some Reason You’re Acting Like It Hurt…
“One of my favorites was Rob Ingersoll. Ingersoll came in often and we’d talk. Like me, he had an artistic eye. I’d try to create really special arrangements for him. I knew he was gay, but it didn’t matter — I enjoyed his company and his creativity…”
Yes, yes…It didn’t matter, until it did. Which is to say it always mattered, just not until that moment in a way that she was willing to be honest with him about.
And now she’s surprised that one of her favorite customers reacted with a lawsuit. That’s more telling then that she refused her services. Favorite Ingersoll may have been, but clearly not as human as herself, Otherwise She Wouldn’t Have Been Surprised. It’s how Anyone would react to having their joy of getting married, of finding in this poor lonely angry world that special someone, that wholeness of heart and body and soul, having it suddenly treated like it was a dishonorable thing. Being told your feelings toward the one you love more than anything, the one that completes you, the one you would walk through fire for, are immoral, disgusting, offensive to God. But in a nice way. Ever so politely. I took his hands and said, “I’m sorry…” It cuts you deep. Especially since, if she’s to be believed, he had understood himself to be a favorite customer of hers.
But homosexuals don’t have feelings like the rest of us and so she’s surprised. She “felt terrible” when she should have felt deeply ashamed of herself. A flower shop isn’t a church and arranging flowers isn’t a religion. If Ingersoll was just a stranger who walked in off the street wanting flowers for his wedding her behavior would have been bad enough. But see how she does not seem to grasp that boasting about how friendly she’d become with him, Despite The Fact That He Was Gay, makes the heartlessness of it worse, not better. She had been given an opportunity to see a Person not A Homosexual and she couldn’t.
This is the part so many people miss about the anger of that reaction to getting slapped in the face by prejudice. Bad enough when it comes at you from strangers. He, if she is to be believed, opened up to her in a way gay people are Still highly uncomfortable with. He trusted her. Never mind she discriminated against a customer and a fellow American. This man trusted her enough to be open about himself. He trusted her enough to share his joy with her. She betrayed a friend.
by Bruce |
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May 1st, 2015
Except That The Reason You Hate Roe Has Nothing To Do With Abortion
Jeremy Hooper tweeted this today…
@goodasyouIf I were part of the “pro-life” movement, I’d be appalled at ham-fisted way anti-gay activists are selling “new Roe”
I heard a lot of this at the NOM Rally last Saturday. It was as if they’d accepted the fact that if not now then soon enough same-sex couples will gain marriage equality in the United States. There was a sense in it of The South Will Rise Again. You heard it over and over: yes we were stunned by the Supreme Court decision in Roe, yes we were demoralized and weary, but we rose up and got to work, and began to chip away at Roe, and we never gave up, and behold now how we are on the very threshold of reversing that hated decision. We can do the same if the court rules for the homosexuals. Yes, yes, but Hardwick v. Bowers happened in 1986, thirteen years after Roe (1973), and seventeen years later it was gone, and with it every state sodomy law and Roe is still there. You need to leave your cocoon of comfortable conceits about yourselves and your splendid little culture war and take a look at why that is. If you can.
Start by taking a good honest cold-eyed level headed look at why you think opposing abortion is so much like opposing same-sex marriage, because the only way they can be similar is if you never regarded the central evil of abortion as being the taking of a life, but rather the freedom of women to choose their own sexual and reproductive destiny. Then you can make a plausible case that Roe and same-sex marriage are similar battles: one being about the freedom and equality of women, the other the freedom and equality of homosexuals, both being about people whose freedom and equality you regard as a threat to yours. The freedom to dominate women. The freedom to scapegoat and persecute homosexuals. Seen in that light, yours isn’t a struggle to deny freedom to others, but simply a matter of defending your own sacred god given freedoms.
So let’s be honest here. Your fight over Roe was never about the fate of unborn children. But that was always staringly obvious. Your political henchmen are busy taking food out of the mouths of the Born children, grinding the public school system into the dirt, keeping healthcare out of the reach of poor families. So who really believes that you actually give a rat’s ass about the welfare of kids. And let’s continue being honest and admit that the fight over same-sex marriage isn’t about homosexuality either. Religious freedom…sure…if you define religious freedom as the freedom to scapegoat an innocent minority for your own failures of moral character because, and you would know this about yourselves better than anyone else, Christ on the cross just isn’t enough to wash your sins away.
So yes, from your point of view it’s easy to see how since you’ve been maintaining the fight against Roe, and even winning at chipping away at it, you can do likewise with same-sex marriage, should that be necessary. Perhaps you’ve forgotten your own rhetoric about abortion being a holocaust. Perhaps that holocaust keeps slipping your mind for some reason. Perhaps you never actually cared about all those millions of dead babies half as much as that women who can decide their own reproductive destiny aren’t yours to keep barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen anymore. But here’s the thing: nobody sane understands that gay couples getting married is like killing babies. The more you keep insisting it is, the more the rest of the country is going to see what their gay neighbors have seen and had to stomach for decades: you people are nuts.
by Bruce |
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April 30th, 2015
Less Than Toilet Paper
I’m sharing this entire Facebook post from Marci Tarrant Johnson one of the Public Defenders working at Baltimore City Central Booking today. I saw the other day that one of the protesters accused Wolf Blitzer on CNN of thinking a broken window was worse than a broken spine. But it’s the broken respect for the rule of law here in America that leads to broken spines in, police vans, with prisoners inside that are being given “screen tests“. Rioting in the streets is amateur business. Take a look at what professional disrespect for the rule of law looks like…here…
OK…here it is…
I’m going to try to keep this as brief as I can, but I’ve been asked by several people about Central Booking today, so I’ll give you guys the shocking highlights. As much as I’d like to, I can’t describe the particulars of some of the more egregious arrests, due to attorney/client privilege issues, but I would like to describe the Civil Liberties violations, and the deplorable conditions which people have had to endure.
As many of you know, more than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. Normally when you are arrested, you are given a copy of your charging documents and then you must see a commissioner within 24 hours for a bail determination (“prompt presentment”) and given a trial date. If you are not released after the commissioner hearing, you will be brought before a judge for a review of the bail set by the commissioner. None of this was happening, so we sent some lawyers to Central Booking yesterday to try to help. I heard, however, that only 2 commissioners showed up, and the correctional officers only brought about 9 people to be interviewed because the jail was on a mysterious “lock-down”.
Today we were divided into two groups. Some of the lawyers were assigned the task of actually doing judicial bail reviews for as many folks as they could get interviewed and docketed. I was assigned to the other group. We were the “habeas team”, and we were to interview folks that we felt were being illegally detained, so we could file writs of habeas corpus. Governor Hogan had issued an executive order, extending the time for prompt presentment to 47 hours. We believed that this order was invalid because the governor has no authority to alter the Maryland Rules. As a result, all people who were being detained for more than 24 hours without seeing a commissioner were being held illegally.
Knowing all of this, I was still not prepared for what I saw when I arrived. The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women’s side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren’t there for Monday’s round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via paddy wagons (most without seat belts, btw–a real shocker after all that’s happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with, some because of what they had actually been involved in, and some because of what the officer said, but quite a few had no idea why they were even there. Incidentally, I interviewed no one whose potential charges would have been more serious than petty theft, and most seemed to be disorderly conduct or failure to obey, charges which would usually result in an immediate recog/release.
The holding cells are approximately 10×10 (some slightly larger), with one open sink and toilet. The women were instructed that the water was “bad” and that they shouldn’t drink it. There are no beds–just a concrete cube. No blankets or pillows. The cells were designed to hold people for a few hours, not a few days. In the one cell which housed 15 women, there wasn’t even enough room for them all to lay down at the same time. Three times a day, the guards brought each woman 4 slices of bread, a slice of american cheese and a small bag of cookies. They sometimes got juice, but water was scarce, as the CO’s had to wheel a water cooler through every so often (the regular water being “broken”.)
My fellow attorneys and I all separately heard the same sickening story over and over. None of the women really wanted to eat 4 slices of bread 3 times a day, so they were saving slices of bread TO USE AS PILLOWS. Let me say that again. THEY WERE ALL USING BREAD AS PILLOWS SO THAT THEY WOULDN’T HAVE TO LAY THEIR HEADS ON THE FILTHY CONCRETE FLOOR.
Interviewing these women was emotionally exhausting. Quite a few of them began crying–so happy to finally see someone who might know why they were there, or perhaps how they might get out of this Kafka-esque nightmare. These women came from all walks of life. We interviewed high school students, college students, people with graduate degrees, people with GED’s, single women, married women, mothers, the well-employed, the unemployed, black women and white women. Almost all of them had no record. Those that did, had things like dui’s and very minor misdemeanors. Our group didn’t interview any of the men on the other side, but my colleagues reported very similar situations. On the men’s side there were journalists and activists, as well as highschool kids with no records, barely 18 years old.
As we were getting ready to leave, we heard that many of these folks might be released without charges, after being held for 2 days. When we returned to the office, our amazing “habeas fellow”, Zina Makar, single-handedly filed 82 habeas petitions. That is when we heard that 101 people were released without charges. I’d like to think that the amazing legal response to this injustice played a large part in their release, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. They may be charged later, but I’m guessing most of them won’t based on how minor their alleged infractions are. There are still over a hundred folks in there that need to see a commissioner and/or a judge, but hopefully we have thinned the ranks a little, and we will keep fighting until everyone has received due process. (We are concerned about these folks potential bails, as we are hearing about bails in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for misdemeanor charges).
I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one persons rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk. The moment we view some individuals as more important than others, we cheapen ourselves. At the very essence of our democracy is the right to question and stand up to authority. During these trying times, we should all keep that in mind.
I’ll leave you with a beautiful picture that was taken today of one of the women who was released without charges. Her husband had been waiting outside CBIF trying to find something…ANYTHING out about when she might be charged or released. This was taken moments after she walked out the door…..
This is why Baltimore keeps paying out millions in lawsuits that might otherwise be spent on our crumbling infrastructure. But pay attention to what this lawyer says at the very end…
I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one persons rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk.
We’ve all seen how the wingers love to wave the constitution around like it means something to them. Yet they are completely fine with all of this as long as it’s happening to everyone they hate…the darkies, the dirty f*cking hippies, anyone and everyone as long as it isn’t them. If this is your idea of liberty and justice than the U.S. constitution is less meaningful to you than a roll of toilet paper.
So next time one of them talks at you about how much they love the constitution, next time some winger starts babbling that Barack Hussein Obama or Hillary or someone, anyone in government whose policies they don’t like is VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION and they’re all against that, laugh in their face.
by Bruce |
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