Monday, September 7, 2015
Left to right, from top: Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Reverend Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Myra Thompson.
When the shooting in Charleston happened (June 17), I nearly had a nervous breakdown.
All the work we have done towards racial reconciliation here in the South, all the dialogue, all the reaching-out, making alliances, supporting one another and going the final yard... POOF--I felt it all go right up in smoke, the smoke of gunpowder, the permanence of death. Holy God... REVEREND PINCKNEY???? I thought I would faint right there on the spot. No, I thought, panicked, please, NO, not Reverend Pinckney. I had to go on the radio and report this horror, and what possible words could there be? On the air, my voice quavered, and I said as simply as I could, this was exactly like a hard, sharp blow. On the head.
My co-hosts, looking stricken, just nodded silently along with me, encouraging me to go on. I was speaking for them too.
And I asked, how can white activists talk about this and not make it "about us"? Because its not about us.
One of my co-hosts, the amazing Double-A, disagreed. Of course this is about us. A self-identified white supremacist shot these people and we are white. We must always make it clear that this person does not speak for us, that this person is a dangerous renegade. He is the proverbial LONE GUNMAN.
Yes, okay. That is true... but of course, we do not want to claim him as one of us. And we don't have to, that is one of the main privileges of whiteness, isn't it? White sociopaths are... sociopaths first. Black sociopaths are... black first. Black criminals represent their race, while white criminals are just anomalies, outliers, sicko-crackpots safely apart from the rest of us... surely they do not represent the entire white race.
Some black children will be afraid of us now. They are already afraid; they do not stop to ask, are all whites dangerous? They already know the answer to that by what they have seen. They act accordingly. They will avoid us, cross to the other side of the street when a group of us approach. They are looking at the record, they see what is right in front of them.
I wept passing the local historic black church close to my home, Reedy River Baptist, when I saw the marquee out front advertising Wednesday night Bible Study. YOU HAVE RUINED THIS FOR US, YOU MISERABLE FUCK DYLANN ROOF... At this point, I would no sooner walk in there for Bible study than I would go to Mars. A white person was welcomed for Bible study, and he drew his gun. On the air, I recalled the warmth and kindness of folks when I first moved South over 28 years ago, didn't know the neighborhoods and ended up at an all-black AA meeting. I was welcomed as one of their own, although they did wryly ask where I was from. Their kindness hit me hard, because I knew in the reverse situation, the black person in an all-white AA meeting would not be welcomed warmly, but probably just ignored or possibly chatted with on a superficial level (and *I* would be the one to do that). I was ashamed of what I knew then, and now.
The next time one of us strays in, or deliberately goes in, what will be the response? If it is suspicious and/or hostile, can we blame them? Maybe the response SHOULD be suspicious and/or hostile.
Even as I wept after the news of the shootings, the arraignment of Dylann Roof nearly drove me under. All that incredible, unbounded forgiveness reminded me of why I flunked out of Christianity so spectacularly. I have a hard time with forgiveness. (Irish Alzheimer's: you forget everything but the grudges.) Their incredible examples of humanity and decency made me sob with recognition, this is what we were taught: SHOW MERCY. I would have had none, and that made me cry even harder. Perhaps my own privilege is the reason I am unable to show mercy? My white arrogance somehow tells me the wrongs committed against me are of paramount importance... I can't let them go.
I decided the next time I needed to forgive, I would remember the words of these family members, forgiving Dylann Roof. I will remember and I will take them as my model, the spiritual heights that mere humans are capable of reaching when they dedicate themselves to the very highest principles, these truths we hold to be self-evident.
They felt sorry for him. He wasn't right, he was tormented and lonely... and they saw this. So did I, but... no sympathy.
I decided I wanted to be like them.
And so, the event changed me. This is why it has been so difficult to write about. As a white resident and political activist of South Carolina, the actions of Dylann Roof pierced my soul, and the forgiveness of the people he wronged set that same soul on fire. DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU MUST DO?--my inner self asked me, the voice I have always attributed to the Blessed Mother, whom I love. DO YOU SEE NOW?
How to write about these things and be respectful? Specifically: How not to excoriate the opportunistic Southern politicians who suddenly came out of the woodwork to claim... I dunno, something. They came fast and furious, babbling and talking about prayer. Finally, Governor Haley decides the confederate flag must be taken down from the South Carolina State House, after defending it nonstop for two terms. Liberals threw spitballs, but she emerged looking good; she was all ready for her close-up, Mr DeMille! It was hard not to get mad all over again, as our very conservative, nonwhite governor decided to be nonwhite for the networks, and make a name for herself at long last. CABINET POSITION, she was whispering to herself... along with THIS IS MY SECOND TERM, THE RACIST LOONIES CAN'T VOTE ME OUT.
And so, Governor Haley signed the order and I waited around for hell to freeze over solid. She also attended every funeral, wearing her pricey, trademark designer duds. She even hugged Al Sharpton forgodsake. Luckily, cameras were around constantly to catch her dabbing at her eyes.
Believe me, this was hard to take.
Senator Lindsey Graham distinguished himself during the proceedings, talking not to the Masses but straight to South Carolina conservatives (his base) when given two minutes on any network: Please you guys, this is not the time to protect the flag... I understand how you feel, BUT THIS IS NOT THE TIME. Etc. He sounded like a kindergarten teacher trying to soothe an ill-behaved child who had locked himself in the utility closet with a rifle. Maybe that IS who he was talking to. The whites who feel wronged, left behind, their folkways and customs made fun of in international media, the southern whites who have felt the mass contempt of the world, sitting in their trailer parks, daily shit on by the rich. Angry, because its one more thing "they" are telling the poor whites they must leave behind, one more thing the liberals on the coasts have decided they can't have. Their resentment percolates, and in some times and in some places it is so pronounced, you can feel it.
And I watched confederate flags unfurl in the week the flag was removed. Many in the rural areas are still waving. One guy in a pickup was driving all over Woodruff Road with a stars-and-bars the size of Saskatchewan. But I looked around, and I saw other drivers pointing at him. Some shaking their heads in open disapproval. Its one thing to wave your flag before the NASCAR race, but another to wave it after someone has shot nine people to death, waving it in selfie after selfie. That wasn't cool, and even conservative SC citizens could clearly see that.
Progress of a sort. I wondered, does blood have to be shed before there is PROGRESS? Must we have martyrs before there is any damn PROGRESS???
More tears, more inability to write.
As you can see, it has taken me months.
Our Confederate Memorial Day state holiday remains untouched, as I reminded the kids on tumblr. In addition to South Carolina, there are official "Confederate Memorial Days" in Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia and Louisiana. (Virginia and Arkansas appear to have escaped this fate somehow, and good for them.) What are we going to do about that, anything?
Certainly, eradicating Confederate Memorial Day just doesn't have the ready-made media optics of taking down a flag, so maybe nobody cares? Except of course for the state workers insulted by the holiday. Do they count?
I say, lets get rid of it. And all those statues of John C. Calhoun? Calhoun Street, where Mother Emanuel is? Wade Hampton Boulevard, within spitting distance of me, also the name of a local high school? The entire South is named after slave-owners and confederate heroes. We have our work cut out for us.
As an American, I always believed the Germans went way too far, outlawing nazis, naziism and nazi paraphernalia for good. You know, free speech and alla that blahdeblah First Amendment bullshit I was raised with. But see, NOW they don't have to deal with this--they don't have towns, streets, boulevards and schools named after dead nazis, and that is the reason why. I stand humbled, and I officially apologize to the German people. You saw what needed to be done, and in your shame, you did it. Good for you.
Our turn now.
Sunday, September 6, 2015
I looked up some critic I used to read in the 80s/90s. A common hack, but a very puffed-up, self-righteous hack; one of those you remember for their never-ending indignation and bluster (which should not be confused with genuine insight). Whatever happened to that person?--I wondered.
Answer: They are teaching at an Ivy League university.
This warmed-over, self-congratulatory HACK is now teaching AT AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL ... and apparently, is regarded as pretty damn important. Say what?
And when did THAT happen? HOW did it happen? Who did they blow to get that job? Surely, this Ivy League school read the same warmed-over bluster that I did? Didn't they?!?
See, this is why writers give up. This is why. The hacks who repeat dopey conventional wisdom are rewarded with the best jobs in the land, while us poor local radio-hosts/bloggers/burnt-out columnists trudge ever-onward, totally ignored. They steal our ideas, our memes, our catchy phrases, our radio-show topics, et. al... and then they get the gigs the rest of us will never get because we are too poor, don't live in the right part of the country and don't wear the right shoes.
Further, we don't even know WHERE TO BUY the right shoes.
Anyway, I just thought I would mention that. Ivy League. Somebody who can't put together two decent similes in a row, now teaches the privileged children of American how to write badly. Jesus wept.
And now, the summer update. Yes, the summer is almost over, so I figured it was safe to update now.
Aside from posting some pretty photos and similar inconsequential ephemera, I have basically taken leave of evil tumblr, Heart of Darkness. My account was hacked and I thought, okay. This is it. They really really do not want me here, it certainly isn't just my imagination. I considered deleting my entire account/tumblr blog, but I have linked it here (and other places) a few times, and therefore have no desire to do that. If people dislike what I have written or what I have reblogged, I really don't care. (Reblogging does not equal agreement, but that concept is FAR TOO COMPLEX for the nasty suburban brats at tumblr to comprehend.) The vicious kids on tumblr remind me of those carnivorous dolls in Barbarella, except their actions are safely baptized with the words SOCIAL JUSTICE so its all perfectly okay. In fact, they routinely assure each other how wonderful they are with "appreciation posts" and "appreciation threads"--the more vicious and nasty you are, the more likely you will be greatly appreciated.
I have made a few friends on tumblr, for which I am grateful, but these people are notable for being NOTHING like the majority of participants, and proof of this is that all privately reached out to me. All seemed eager to talk to someone (anyone?) with a different point of view, but they are also afraid to cop to this desire out loud. And yes, I do understand.
The ideological lockstep governing the Left right now, is stifling and horrible. The only words for this paranoid climate are Stalinism and McCarthyism. For example, I am the only person I know hacked on tumblr for "transphobia"--as well as banned from (what many consider) the most "transphobic" blog on the net, Gendertrender (there is your warning). So go figure.
EDIT: I attempted to link to Gendertrender, to no avail... blocked already. (Am I important or what?) If you are sufficiently curious, you can copy and paste gendertrender.wordpress.com. As I said, Stalinism... which of course includes lots of textbook KGB cloak-and-dagger paranoia. (Why have a blog if you don't want anyone to read it? Ahhh, never mind. The paranoid mindset is a puzzle best left to the Freudians.)
As the Firesign Theater famously said, in a "marching cadence":
You ain't got no friends on the Right! (you're Left!)I am very fortunate in that the work I have done in the real world (over decades) speaks for itself. If they want to hack, screech, holler, ban, call names, block my links, threaten, etc... have at it. I know what Stalinism is and this ain't my first trip to the Cultural Revolution.
You ain't got no friends on the Left! (you're right!)
Sound off, 1-2, sound off, 3-4...
I was getting purged way back in the day, long before it was hip.
I nominated our local activist dynamo, Traci Fant, as "Hero of the Month" on the Investigation Discovery network... and she won! Her organization, Think2XTwice, was awarded $1000 and she was also highlighted on the ID network site and on TV. I WAS SO PROUD!!!!!
See, watching true crime shows can have unexpected benefits!
On a postmodern note: I also co-organized our local demonstration against the misnamed SC Freedom Summit in May. This turned out to be a terribly depressing event, if there ever was one. Here in Greenville, it was Artisphere weekend (which I have mentioned here before many times) and the "summit" (a bunch of Republicans giving speeches, paid for by Fox News and the Koch brothers) was at the Peace Center, the same place we protested their last "debate" during last election season.
The weird thing was, nobody seemed to know it was happening. Nobody even knew it was going on. People looked at us quizzically and asked what we were protesting. There was NO big sign outside the Peace Center announcing the SC Freedom Summit and there were few campaigners outside, compared to other election events we have protested. (We believe this was deliberate, a way of speaking over the heads of the majority, to the "tuned-in" minority who vote in the primary.) This little soiree was practically invitation-only and private, like some parallel universe: Artisphere was the bread-and-circuses diversion for the Masses, as "serious business" was conducted inside the auditorium by Those Who Matter. Inside the Peace Center, important policy was being decided, whilst the folks outside eating hot dogs and listening to bands, were totally oblivious to the fact that the rich were planning their future. Our signs and chanting, all reminding them of these facts, were not particularly welcome. It was like, they didn't even believe us. The empty suits that showed up outside for photo ops, seemed to make this point; nobody recognized Ted Cruz or Ben Carson or Marco Rubio... the only excitement occurred when (guess who!) Donald Trump showed up. My co-demonstrator Elaine Cooper has been making the best of things: here is her photobomb campaign, which started with Trump at the Freedom Summit.
Elaine and I went inside at one point (she taped a good deal of it on her phone), but since we had "hostile" signs, we were deemed to be "acting inappropriately" and unceremoniously asked to leave. A FREE EVENT about FREEDOM (ha!) and we were bounced out. That's the Republican idea of freedom, baby! And don't forget it.
Elaine's first-person account is here in the Greenville Bray (pdf) and includes a good photo of us demonstrating too. I wrote a few words on Tumblr about it, but not much.
Elaine concurs with me; nobody outside at the festival seemed to know what was happening inside at the Summit... a very good metaphor for our entire political system.
And here is the star of our show, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders.
I regret that my photos are not as good as they used to be. I have developed a pesky ESSENTIAL TREMOR due to thyroid disease, which makes taking good photos difficult. (another reason I no longer update as much as I used to) The tremor isn't too noticeable right now, but like most things, that will likely change. (*I* notice it, though, during fine motor coordination-type activities... such as writing, typing, sewing, braiding hair or photography.)
Anyway, we saw Sanders speak a couple of weeks ago and it was like Old Home Week ... as I saw nearly every southern progressive activist I know from here to the coast, as well as from here to Atlanta and Charlotte. He is inspiring a lot of hope right now... but I am cynical. I am always cynical. I have been cynical since they got rid of a nice peaceful peanut farmer and foisted a has-been right-wing actor on us. I doubt the cynicism will subside.
Photos below: August 21st, TD Convention Center in Greenville, SC.
Speaking of cynicism: Mr Robot was terrific. Can't wait for season 2.
Hope your summer has been eventful. I promise to drop in regularly from now on. I hope you will join me!
And yeah, we are on the radio for, I think, another month? We are winding down there, too, the end of an era. Check us out live on WOLI AM/FM at 8pm EST on Monday at least for a few more weeks. I don't know what comes after, but something always does. (More about that to come, I promise.)
I once hyperventilated at the mere thought of doing the show (and lost entire nights of sleep worrying over it!), but NOW after four years on the air, somebody can have an actual seizure in the studio while I am talking (I have witnesses) and I don't miss a beat.
the Official Cat of Dead Air. Our bodhisattva-kitty has gone on, to teach enlightenment to other humans. Truly, the most affectionate animal I have ever known, and his earthly death was crushing to both of us. But we know he has many others to teach besides us, so he was called home. We know his next owners will be forever changed when he appears at their door, as he appeared at ours.
Welcome the beloved and noble bodhisattva-kitty, who will teach you the meaning of unconditional love.
And when you meet him, please give him our best wishes, warm regards, love and kisses ... we miss him so much.
Monday, April 6, 2015
19 Kids and Counting, featuring the pseudo-Quiverfull Duggars (who remind me so much of some Bob Jones University-affiliated families) and the weddings of their daughters Jill and Jessa. In case you didn't know, all of the 19 kids have names starting with J, which is either after dad Jim-Bob (they are part of the Christian Patriarchy movement, so this seems likely) or after Jesus, or both. Some seasons ago, they had a funeral for a miscarried "baby", after taking a famous photo first... they named that one Jubilee Shalom.
APRIL is here already! I haven't done an Odds and Sods post in almost a year, so here we go.
My last Odds and Sods post featured giant plastic ducks and Miss South Carolina... and so, not to be outdone, I am opening this post with some razzle-dazzle photos of SC COMIC CON, which was March 21st here in Greenville, at the TD Convention center.
I do apologize for being asleep at the switch when it came time to post these. (MORE HERE!) My camera battery died, and I just kept forgetting to replace it. (Also, there were several that didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped and I was somewhat disappointed.) As always, you can click to enlarge.
PS: I also posted a few photos of our local St Patricks Day block party on Tumblr. (green cake!)
I figure if the TLC network is having whole-day marathons, I can't be the only one watching these people who seem to be the living embodiment of old-timey Little House on the Prairie values, sewing their own clothes, playing (appropriately Christian music) together in a family band, making jars and jars of their own pickles, expecting the kids to bunk 5 to a room or something, etc. Even though the kids are ON TV, they do not WATCH TV. Really. That's the claim. There are 19 of them, some in their 20s (people in this subculture only "leave home" when it is time to marry, one reason I figure they are SO ecstatic over marriage)... and we actually believe they can't organize their own movie/TV-watching sessions away from mom and dad? In this day of iphones? Pardon me, but I hardly think so.
But that is the show-biz aspect: we suspend disbelief and adhere to this fantasy of an innocent Andy Griffith-ish, old-school, southern family--who are nonetheless savvy enough to deal with Hollywood executives for 10 seasons and become millionaires. Their large house was built for them by the TV network; they reportedly pay no taxes on their land because they declare their home a "church" (a good illustration of how the religious tax exemption is habitually bent/abused). Eldest son Josh works for the right-wing (and very anti-gay) Family Research Council, although Michelle Duggar's sister is a lesbian in a long-term relationship with a woman. Jim-Bob Duggar (R) was in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which would suggest he knows a few things, like how to milk rich people for contributions, make various right-wing promises and get himself elected. Seen in this light, the 200 volunteers who instantaneously showed up to help out during the weddings, suddenly look like political volunteers, don't they? In a sense, they are. These Duggar wedding shows were one long commercial for the pseudo-Quiverfull lifestyle. (NOTE: the Duggars steadfastly refuse to use the term Quiverfull when put directly on the spot, so I have chosen "pseudo-Quiverfull" for this post... but its rather strange that they are easily the most famous of "Quiverfull" families and now they back away from the term? Why?) They even posted a bunch of viewer-tweets on one of the shows, wherein (mostly women) tweeted about how they wish they were Duggars, could have lots of close sisters as they do, as well as a "traditional" courtship. Etc. I saw a lot of this as naked propaganda for a lifestyle.
Both bridegrooms had to ask Jim-Bob for permission to court their legal-aged daughters, and still require chaperons and chaste, safe "sidehugs" (#sidehug became a popular hashtag during the TV marathons). The teary sister-bridesmaids (Jana, Joy Anna, Jinger, Johannah, Jennifer, etc) all kept saying they would "miss" Jessa, as if she was going to Antarctica, not just down the road to a house her father already owns.
Circumstances suggest the Duggars could not possibly be as sweet, naive and innocent as they appear, and yet, people resoundingly choose to think so. They are "cute" ... people don't like to be reminded of their politics. When I confronted tumblr trans women about sleeping through Michelle Duggar's work on an anti-trans campaign, nobody really answered me about that. The Duggars can be as political as they wanna be, since they position themselves as the Arkansas equivalent of the Von Trapps.
Would all those tweeting young women really prefer that their father screen all of their boyfriends, immediately eliminating anyone who did not regard courtship as inevitably leading to marriage? (First there is formal courtship, then engagement, then marriage. Each phase must be officially "announced" and slightly-more touching is allowed at each level; no kissing until the wedding day.) I don't believe that. What are women nostalgic for? That old "Cinderella Complex" syndrome, the feminine desire to be taken care of?
In the above link about Jessa Duggar, we learn that she actually budgeted her own wedding. As we learned during the show about her, she is very efficient and even organized homeschooling lessons for her whole family. But see: that is not old-school Christian patriarchy, allowing women to manage money. The Duggars get the mystique of "tradition" while availing themselves of Skype, iphones, microwaves and smart daughters who can manage money. It is impossible to truly GO BACK, so they get the best of both worlds. (Back in the day, these highly-managed marriages could not be arranged by looking at a guy's photo on Instagram, or checking out your future Christian spouse on her family's television show.)
I don't think women truly, in real life, want this lifestyle, but they do want to indulge the fantasy. Because I don't think it exists. Not even for the people practicing it. People want "reality TV" about it, but not reality.
* SOME GOOD NEWS: There is a little orca baby boom, reported by the Guardian.
* We are still plugging away on the radio. Check us out live tonight at 8pm on WOLI!
* We are planning a demonstration against the Republican presidential "debate" (Fox News doesn't allow genuine debate, of course, but you know what I mean) next month here in Greenville, Saturday May 9th, in front of the Peace Center. I will make an official announcement here later, but we are already regularly announcing this on the radio show. YALL COME ON OUT AND RAISE HELL WITH US! (My account of our demonstration at the last Fox News debate is HERE.)
So far, they've got Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz... the usual suspects. But NOT the erstwhile star of the show, Jeb Bush. Uh oh. Is he dissing SC?
Hm. They won't like that.
The event will bring at least six potential Republican White House hopefuls to downtown Greenville for a day of stump speeches.Trey Gowdy and Lindsey Graham, all by themselves, are reason enough to show up and howl.
Confirmed to attend, according to Citizens United, are Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
Citizens United said it would announce additional speakers later, but Duncan said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush won't be among them.
"Jeb Bush and I have communicated," [SC Republican congressman Jeff] Duncan said. "He has a commencement address in Florida that day that is precluding his having the ability to come."
Duncan said at least three other South Carolina congressmen – Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg, Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land and Mark Sanford of Charleston – are expected to attend.
Yall come! If you are coming from a long distance, please contact me and we can probably find a place for you to sleep, too. Remember, it is likely one of these (awful) deluded individuals will be the Republican nominee, or will serve as Veep or in the cabinet, if they should win the presidency.
Show up and make your voice heard!
* Medicines from the Earth will be May 29th - June 1st at the Blue Ridge Assembly in beautiful Black Mountain, NC. (my previous account of the herbal conference is HERE) Its pricey, but you will come out smart as the dickens.
* Waving to all the folks who have dropped by in the past couple of months, starting with Black History Month, which brought copious hits on the lynching of Willie Earle in 1947, as well as the release of Edward Lee Elmore from South Carolina's Death Row (after 30 years). We also had a bunch of hits on George Stinney, the 14-year-old child executed by the state of South Carolina in 1944. I was probably the first person to cover Stinney nationally (on the radio), although of course many African-Americans locally have written about George Stinney for decades. At long last, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen found that "fundamental, Constitutional violations of due process exist in the 1944 prosecution of George Stinney, Jr." and vacated the judgment.
It's about time.
Monday, March 16, 2015
BOB JONES UNIVERSITY!
Specifically: Stephen Pettit, head flunkie in charge.
Back when Pettit "took over" BJU (and as we see, he didn't really), I wondered aloud if this was going to be a Soviet-style puppet regime with the Jones faction still running things behind the scenes, or if Pettit might really be an improvement.
Alas, now we have our answer. (I wonder where they put the gulags? Wait, getting ahead of myself.)
First, let's have the AWARD CEREMONY.
Stephen, you have hereby been SELECTED for Dead Air's very first and highly coveted MARGARET WHITE AWARD FOR ZEALOUS CHRISTIAN WITNESS. As one not permitted to peruse popular culture (although I know you secretly do), you will undoubtedly feign ignorance and pretend you never heard of the infamous Mrs Margaret White. Well, I have a quick tutorial below. Let's just say, the Mrs Whites of the world do not waste time with politeness and southern pleasantries, they just get it done, people.
Mrs White, the famous Mrs White. The one who uttered those immortal lines, I CAN SEE YOUR DIRTY PILLOWS!
I refer to legendary actress Piper Laurie, Carrie White's mother, one of Stephen King's most amazing, enduring and (as we have learned from the Jones boys) REALISTIC inventions.
Eve was weak! Eve was weak! SAY IT!
I don't have the time or patience to delve into the theological question of whether Christianity is misogynist at base. That particular case was already made a long time ago, by Mary Daly. Is there even the possibility of respect for women in a religion that constantly reminds us EVE WAS WEAK? The Biblical literalists are among the most deeply-sexist of Christians, because after all, it IS right there in the text. They didn't make it up. Mrs White is offering the interpretation that I basically grew up with, only she's doing it with ZEAL. And hey, aren't all Christians supposed to witness with ZEAL??? Because (I wish I had a dollar for every time one of them SPAT this one out at me): IF YOU ARE LUKEWARM, HE WILL VOMIT YOU OUT OF HIS MOUTH (and ohhh how they love that verse.)
The G.R.A.C.E. report, about the treatment of sexual abuse survivors at BJU, came out late last year and laid out BJU's sins in detail. The Greenville News (finally!) excoriated them on their editorial page (its only taken 67 years!) and the internet was abuzz with accusations and counter-accusations. I deliberately took a hands-off approach, because I have tried hard not to join the nasty internet habit (that I once had) of kicking people when they are down. That ain't nice, I decided. Give peace a chance! And so I did.
About a week later, I drove past a BJU-affiliated church here in town (they got dozens of em), amusingly positioned right across the street from some "liberal" (compared to BJU) Baptist church... and the marquee on the "liberal" church just read, simply: GRACE.
I instantly recognized this as an in-your-face gesture. Obviously, these liberal Baptists didn't expect SHIT from BJU. Hm, I thought... these Baptists know the BJU-people far better than I do. And I decided this was NOT a good sign.
The liberal Baptists called it. Credit where it is due.
Stephen Pettit has finally spoken. Its mostly in the Christian vernacular, so some of you may have trouble understanding it. I will therefore translate into standard American English that you will easily understand:
Yes, that is the gist of Pettit's speech, one long, gooey preacher-boy, grinning FUCK YOU.
I have not actually decided if this is one loooooong fuck you, which would be FUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOU!!!!! -- or is it a series of small, nasty little fuck yous?
Make no mistake though. It is a big, giant, brazen, nasty, vicious FUCK YOU.
I like the acronym and the name, because it reminds me of one of Christianity's greatest moral strengths: in humbling ourselves to admit our faults and face our mistakes, we are granted grace. Everything changes, everything is made new. It takes GRACE to admit you are wrong, GRACE to admit you need help. And in doing so, the light dawns, the clouds clear.
The old hymn AMAZING GRACE sums it up: I was blind but now I see.
In other words, preacher Pettit, you had an incredible opportunity given to you, an opportunity for what you claim to want: GOD's GRACE. This was your chance. You could have stood up, taken a deep breath and apologized. You could have. I was hopeful that this crisis might make a lasting impact. Like we used to say in Alcoholics Anonymous, you were provided with a priceless, clear MOMENT OF CLARITY. These moments, these realizations are usually regarded as GIFTS from God, in most religious traditions. This is the meaning of the acronym G.R.A.C.E., which I thought meant you might actually PAY ATTENTION this time, and do the right thing.
Ha. Dream on.
In the weeks that followed the release of the report, The Greenville News talked with one of the survivors, blogger Cathy Harris. I was so profoundly disgusted by this article, I went on the radio and announced the Margaret White award was imminent, and I would be taking nominees. "But so far," I said, "there isn't any contest."
[BJU counselor Jim] Berg also asked whether [Cathy Harris] felt any pleasure during any of the [childhood sexual] abuse and, if she did, she needed to repent, she said.Really? Because *I* knew, and I think most people know, due to LAW AND ORDER SVU reruns... which I forgot, they are not allowed to watch over there.
During one session, she said Berg told her he wanted to do a trust exercise. He pulled a rat trap from his desk, set the hammer and put a pencil on it. The trap broke the pencil into pieces.
She said he then told her to put her finger on the trap. When she refused, he got angry and put another pencil in. The trap did not snap shut.
If she couldn't trust the people God put over her, how could she trust God? she recalls him asking.
"I kept being told how unspiritual I was," she said.
The counseling ended when he told her he couldn't help her and God couldn't help her either.
"His counseling was more harmful than the abuse," she told The News.
In his interview with GRACE, Berg acknowledged that his counseling was often hurried due to his heavy workload and that he did not have extensive training in counseling sexual abuse victims. He said he did not know until 1992 that South Carolina had a law that required certain professionals, including educators, to report abuse, despite the law having been passed in the 1970s.
That finger-in-the-rat-trap game is something worthy of Carrie's mom, doncha think? (ASIDE: Cathy, if this scene ends up in a horror movie, as it surely will, you could probably sue for copyright violation and make some bucks.)
This passage, Cathy Harris' harrowing horror-movie counseling session, is like Bette Davis serving Joan Crawford a rat for dinner in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE; it is definitely in the same neighborhood as Margaret White yelling that Eve was weak! Eve was weak!
Stephen, if you ever want this done up properly, let me know. We might be able to take some donations and rustle something up, like a plaque, certificate or whatever, you know, for your wall. I am sure you are proud of this award and will want to show everyone, so I will do my best to make it pretty. I mean, you do want to impress your new right-wing politician friends, doncha?
Just remember something.
The end of the film instructs us: "Carrie White burns in hell."
And whose fault was that? Will Margaret White burn there too, for driving her daughter crazy? I think that's an easy call, even for you.
Take heed and repent, Pettit.
Warnings for graphic violence, probable heresy and so on.
You knew I couldn't resist posting that... dirty pillows at 20 seconds!
1) Please see Camille Lewis' refutation of Pettit's lies/fuck yous. As usual, Camille is the go-to on this subject, as one who knows where all the bodies are buried.
2) All photos in this post are from THE ORIGINAL Brian DePalma version of Carrie--except no substitutes, especially inferior remakes of perfect horror movies.
Unbelievably, I started writing this just as AMC decided to show CARRIE, which I take as a sign of divine intervention, just so I could get some good shots.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Below, my photos of yesterday's upstate South Carolina march and rally, honoring the 50th Anniversary of the famous Civil Rights march in Selma, Alabama.
The Greenville rally was called "All Lives Matter"--building on recent events and the popular slogan "Black Lives Matter"--with a deliberate emphasis on inclusion highlighted by organizer Traci Fant and participants from the Empowerment Zone (host of the galvanizing yearly event Voices Against Violence, that we have sponsored at Occupy the Microphone).
It was Traci's hope to include active law enforcement in the march, and many decided to attend the march on their own time and brought family members. Other rally speakers familiar to our radio listeners include repeat-guest Reverend Jack Logan of Put the Guns Down Now, Young People.
This event was huge and well-attended, quite a contrast to the NAACP's small but prayerful Spartanburg event on February 7th, also attended by radio personnel.
As I have said countless times, Traci is a human dynamo. She did an outstanding job. Her upstate radio show REAL TALK is on every Sunday afternoon on WOLI FM (our station!) at 3pm, so don't miss it.
First photo features my fabulous radio co-host, Double A, on left, and that's me on the right. (His sign got him into almost every video, including the Fox Carolina footage linked above.) You can click all photos to enlarge.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Yes, a SCANDAL.
Free speech, free inquiry, demanding the Left explain the disgusting, ineffectual witch-hunting and open provocateur behavior of the past few years... is now regarded as a SCANDAL. Sit down and suck it up, obedient left-leaning androids, or go join the Right. (And you know, I think lots of disgruntled free-speech-purists indeed might choose to do that, but now I am getting ahead of myself.)
Most of the response to Chait was the same response I got when I mentioned Engels in an old Tumblr discussion: White hetero privileged guy! Bleat, bleat, bleat, WHITE HETERO PRIVILEGED GUY!
That's the response.
That's their WHOLE REPLY. That's IT.
None of these self-appointed "social justice activists"  (aka SJWs) actually explain WHY or HOW Chait's piece radiates or replicates whiteness or maleness, as (for example) James Baldwin or Kate Millett did in their social criticism. That requires actually engaging with the text. To some of the SJWs, the words of certain genders or races are automatically inferior and do not even rate direct replies. (And what does THAT remind me of? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.) In a recent discussion, I deliberately centered old people in my responses  and asked what SJWs thought when a certain historic event occurred (I was fully aware most hadn't even been born yet) and they instantly became furious. Thus, we see, some groups are worthy of being "centered"--and some are clearly not. 
In other words, if I just mindlessly bleated "you're young! you're young!" to END a discussion, in this same fashion? I'd be laughed at. It doesn't work for everybody, only for those with properly-trendy identities. (PS: Many young Jews are learning that in social justice circles, they do not have a trendy identity, as Christians also do not.)
From Chait's piece:
After political correctness burst onto the academic scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it went into a long remission. Now it has returned. Some of its expressions have a familiar tint, like the protesting of even mildly controversial speakers on college campuses. You may remember when 6,000 people at the University of California–Berkeley signed a petition last year to stop a commencement address by Bill Maher, who has criticized Islam (along with nearly all the other major world religions). Or when protesters at Smith College demanded the cancellation of a commencement address by Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, blaming the organization for “imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.” Also last year, Rutgers protesters scared away Condoleezza Rice; others at Brandeis blocked Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s-rights champion who is also a staunch critic of Islam; and those at Haverford successfully protested former Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who was disqualified by an episode in which the school’s police used force against Occupy protesters.For sure, let's not forget the wages of sin: blogswarms, mass defriendings, social isolation, flaming, the spreading of inaccurate rumors, doxxing, streams of sicko emails, etc etc. This shit has real-life consequences. (I once got this treatment over ONE QUESTION--not even a statement!-- in a post.) It is disgusting, evil, bullying behavior, and there is NO DEFENSE from anyone who imagines themselves about social justice. Social justice is not about threatening to torture people, in case you didn't know.
At a growing number of campuses, professors now attach “trigger warnings” to texts that may upset students, and there is a campaign to eradicate “microaggressions,” or small social slights that might cause searing trauma. These newly fashionable terms merely repackage a central tenet of the first p.c. movement: that people should be expected to treat even faintly unpleasant ideas or behaviors as full-scale offenses. Stanford recently canceled a performance of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson after protests by Native American students. UCLA students staged a sit-in to protest microaggressions such as when a professor corrected a student’s decision to spell the word indigenous with an uppercase I — one example of many “perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies.” A theater group at Mount Holyoke College recently announced it would no longer put on The Vagina Monologues in part because the material excludes women without vaginas. These sorts of episodes now hardly even qualify as exceptional.
Trigger warnings aren’t much help in actually overcoming trauma — an analysis by the Institute of Medicine has found that the best approach is controlled exposure to it, and experts say avoidance can reinforce suffering. Indeed, one professor at a prestigious university told me that, just in the last few years, she has noticed a dramatic upsurge in her students’ sensitivity toward even the mildest social or ideological slights; she and her fellow faculty members are terrified of facing accusations of triggering trauma — or, more consequentially, violating her school’s new sexual-harassment policy — merely by carrying out the traditional academic work of intellectual exploration. “This is an environment of fear, believe it or not,” she told me by way of explaining her request for anonymity. It reminds her of the previous outbreak of political correctness — “Every other day I say to my friends, ‘How did we get back to 1991?’ ”
But it would be a mistake to categorize today’s p.c. culture as only an academic phenomenon. Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.
It also makes money. Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity. A year ago, for instance, a photographer compiled images of Fordham students displaying signs recounting “an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.” The stories ranged from uncomfortable (“No, where are you really from?”) to relatively innocuous (“ ‘Can you read this?’ He showed me a Japanese character on his phone”). BuzzFeed published part of her project, and it has since received more than 2 million views. This is not an anomaly.
In a short period of time, the p.c. movement has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular. “All over social media, there dwell armies of unpaid but widely read commentators, ready to launch hashtag campaigns and circulate Change.org petitions in response to the slightest of identity-politics missteps,” Rebecca Traister wrote recently in The New Republic.
Social media, where swarms of jeering critics can materialize in an instant, paradoxically creates this feeling of isolation. [Hanna Rosin commented] “You do immediately get the sense that it’s one against millions, even though it’s not.” Subjects of these massed attacks often describe an impulse to withdraw.And this is a major reason why its wrong--this demand for perfection is never directed at the enemy. It is always directed at other leftists and allies.
Political correctness is a term whose meaning has been gradually diluted since it became a flashpoint 25 years ago. People use the phrase to describe politeness (perhaps to excess), or evasion of hard truths, or (as a term of abuse by conservatives) liberalism in general. The confusion has made it more attractive to liberals, who share the goal of combating race and gender bias.
But political correctness is not a rigorous commitment to social equality so much as a system of left-wing ideological repression. Not only is it not a form of liberalism; it is antithetical to liberalism. Indeed, its most frequent victims turn out to be liberals themselves.
In this way, it is counter-productive and makes the Right stronger. As Chait says,
Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing. This has led to elaborate norms and terminology within certain communities on the left. For instance, “mansplaining,” a concept popularized in 2008 by Rebecca Solnit, who described the tendency of men to patronizingly hold forth to women on subjects the woman knows better — in Solnit’s case, the man in question mansplained her own book to her. The fast popularization of the term speaks to how exasperating the phenomenon can be, and mansplaining has, at times, proved useful in identifying discrimination embedded in everyday rudeness. But it has now grown into an all-purpose term of abuse that can be used to discredit any argument by any man. (MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry once disdainfully called White House press secretary Jay Carney’s defense of the relative pay of men and women in the administration “mansplaining,” even though the question he responded to was posed by a male.) Mansplaining has since given rise to “whitesplaining” and “straightsplaining.” The phrase “solidarity is for white women,” used in a popular hashtag, broadly signifies any criticism of white feminists by nonwhite ones.Read the comments, boys and girls. There is NO argument about the accuracy of ANY of these outrageous stories of censorship.... just a torrent of self-satisfied white guys streaming forward to brag that they can "handle it" and aren't "threatened" the way Chait is. There is absolutely NO discussion about whether this mode of "take no prisoners" discourse is decent or self-destructive behavior for the Left to engage in, just that THEY are cool about it all. Chait's piece provided the perfect opportunity for a veritable TORRENT of strutting, unbridled narcissism from the "social justice activists" -- as they all congratulated each other for not being like him and not agreeing with him... or if they did agree with him, they tried to make it sound like they didn't.
If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible.
I have been so upset by the invasion of the Left by these fascist wannabes, that I have lost considerable sleep over it. I have considered not bothering at all, leaving the net entirely to the bullies. Only my sheer stubbornness keeps me coming back.
And I know I am not the only one. Chait reports--
“It seems to me now that the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing,” confessed the progressive writer Freddie deBoer. “There are so many ways to step on a land mine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them. I’m far from alone in feeling that it’s typically not worth it to engage, given the risks.” [Michelle] Goldberg wrote recently about people “who feel emotionally savaged by their involvement in [online feminism] — not because of sexist trolls, but because of the slashing righteousness of other feminists.”And is that what we want the Left to be? The land of the Thought Police?
How on earth can we arrive at solutions if we are not allowed to discuss anything?
Metareddit Cancer" (since it has spread to the moderators). And as Chait reminds us, this phenomenon now extends to powerful news organizations; The New York Times and CNN both censored the Charlie Hebdo cover with the drawing of Mohammed, showing themselves to be craven cowards, and giving the terrorists exactly the censorship they demanded. (No negotiation with terrorists, huh? Major news organizations excepted!)
I have become so upset with the Left in this regard, I could barely summon up the strength to blog... I've simply entered my snarky comebacks on Tumblr, enjoyed the cute animals photos (the main reason Tumblr exists) and grumbled. It is Chait and his guts that made me decide to speak up here, now that the smoke has cleared.
He's right. The Left is becoming a cartoon of itself.
And another thing... a message I got from a sister Tumblrite, after another of the fabled arguments in which I was told how dumb I am, how wrong, how bad, please go away. Remember how I once said Women's Movement pioneers are mostly shit on, while Civil Rights pioneers are lauded and praised as precious? (And I wonder what that's like?)
I really don't understand so much about this epidemic of self-righteousness and narcissism (which is what I think characterizes so much of the most extreme PC babbling), and began chatting with another feminist who had some amazing insights (and shall hereby remain anonymous).
She certainly inspired some deep thinking here at DEAD AIR:
The social justice sector may skew younger, because the ethos of instant moral certitude and endless identity-gazing would appeal to adolescents, the profusion of stupid neologisms less offensive to eyes and ears that haven’t known much discourse. It helps my sanity to bear in mind that a lot of these people are 9th and 10th graders who’ve never had a moment of real-world political activity (or offline interaction with the identity communities they claim to represent, for that matter) in their lives. What’s more, many of them probably never will. Because it is a subjective enterprise conducted primarily by those who are privileged to endlessly indulge their subjectivity.And here is where I remind everyone that there are still wars going on. Obama is seeking further war authorization as we speak. Here is your golden opportunity to GET OFF YOUR DERRIERE and start a real live anti-war movement, instead of a pretend-movement on Tumblr.
For many reasons, “social justice” cannot be equated with what we would have once called the radical left. I’ve been thinking about your comments on sabotage and agents provocateurs. Sadly, I think very few of them are being paid or otherwise extrinsically motivated. I think most of it is organic and sincere, which is worse.
For the past week or so I’ve been coming across posts warning white people away from police brutality protests because “it’s not about you,” accompanied by extensive instructions for all the self-examination white people should do it rather than join the movement. What a brilliant trick that would be from a deliberate saboteur! But horribly enough it’s absolutely sincere - SJWs who don’t understand that it’s not “about” any of the protestors; who honestly mistake mass protest for an arena for the elaboration and display of identities. Which again, suggests less than robust experience with actual protests.
The emphasis on subjectivity and invisible ideological purity is, I’m sure you realize, the reason they attack people who are “on the same side” - if your subjectivity isn’t PERFECT, you aren’t actually on the same side. They are for the most part just too dumb (or less uncharitably, too naive) to comprehend the opportunity that the endless goalpost-moving and ratcheting up of standards creates for those who are up to no good.
Let me know when you are ready for real politics. As long as this extended silliness continues, I will treat it as the mindless din that it is.
I have serious work to do.
 I put quotes around the term since this is what they call themselves, even though as I have pointed out before, the vast majority have actually done NO activism at all. (Asking for a resume is a good way to shut them up and call out the hypocrisy.) "SJW" is nothing more than a label and requires no one do anything risky in real life, otherwise we wouldn't have 2-3 wars going on at once, apparently without missing a beat or noticing this imperialism enough to even remark about it on their extra-special SJW sites... let alone actually attempt to, you know, STOP THE WARS.
 Social justice activists habitually claim they are "centering" this or that oppressed group and therefore do not have to argue with any political criticism on the opposite side of the divide. So, I decided to use this tactic myself as an old person, and re-center baby-boomer experience.
And I guess you know how well THAT went over.
 I was told that I am too old to be on Tumblr, and that it is automatically "suspect" (!) when any older person is there. Also: "ageism is not a thing"--yes, I swear, these two statements came from the SAME PERSON. But in short, treating old people like shit is still fine, same as it ever was. Somehow, age has not entered that sacrosanct category of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and all the other social justice status-labels.
 It has been deemed "racist" to use the word "savage"--even as a verb. I tell them: stop doing it, I'll stop using the word. What other words do you prefer? Barbarism? Bullying?
I am committed to bringing back the word McCARTHYISM.
 When I asked some critical questions of anti-sex-work feminists, it was assumed (with a nasty, snarky vibe) that I must think sex work is fabulous and great. Um, no, I don't, I just think sex workers need basic protections from arrests and harassment. It was then decided that I must believe women are "empowered" by sex work (language I don't even use!) ... In short, SJWs assume everyone is sharply PRO or CON (meaning: their very limited version of PRO and CON positions, usually a rehash of what they've seen on CNN or something)...they never see political positions as evolving, undecided, nuanced, changing, learning... which is where the vast majority of people live out their political realities on a day-to-day basis.
The SJWs live on Planet Certainty, and most people don't. Further, most people aren't sure they want to live there.
And on that note, let me clarify: JUST BECAUSE I AGREE WITH JONATHAN CHAIT ABOUT THIS SUBJECT, does not mean I agree with everything he says about everything. It seems obvious and ridiculous to have to say such a thing, but in the climate we are describing, it is required. If you like a blog post, its obvious you must love the author and love everything they say (see above)-- so you are accountable for something they wrote in 2006 too.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
It was officially presented last week, and the Baptist community of upstate South Carolina was promptly thrown into convulsions.
There is nothing in this report that would surprise followers of religious fundamentalism, or those who intimately know how deep-fundamentalism works on the psyche. I first heard stories about how Bob Jones University shames victims of sexual assault, when I arrived in Greenville over 26 years ago and attended AA meetings here. Women who abuse alcohol make excellent victims, and I heard about the shaming of these women (for both drinking and then for having been victimized), up close and personal... over and over.
It has taken all this time for these stories to come to light.
The tales were rampant, and yet, I didn't really understand the authority of BJU and how these places work psychologically. Can't you just leave?!-- I would ask them, uncomprehending.
I might as well be asking the Amish to leave. I think that's a good comparison for the lack of preparation young fundamentalists (often homeschooled) have for the real world. They are frequently very unworldly, confused, overprotected, sheltered... again, the perfect victims, who will stay silent. And so they have.
The much-awaited report came out last week. There are now several follow-ups from the Greenville News, suggesting legal action is not out of the question. (More here and here.) And hey, let's count it as a small miracle and nothing short of AMAZING that the once-reticent Greenville News is finally getting with the program. This is the same Greenville News that studiously and deliberately IGNORED all reports of questionable, hinky behavior from BJU since I first started reading it. As I have complained countless times, our local paper of record mostly talks about how WONDERFUL Bob Jones University is; lots of special-interest stories about alumni and their opinions, business ventures, gardens, whatever... not to mention their super-duper Arts Department, Music Department ... just one long GUSH GUSH GUSH.... you'd think it was freaking Oxford, the way they have constantly extolled the virtues of the place.
Sometimes I have felt like the Greenville News is one long combo education/travel brochure advertising Bob Jones University.
Well, not this week. A editorial gives them what-for, in no uncertain terms:
Bob Jones University will be challenged over the next few months to prove it truly understands the devastating nature of the findings from a two-year investigation into how the school for decades handled reports of sexual abuse on and off the campus. The school's response will demonstrate whether it is committed to helping vulnerable people failed by school leaders who handled sexual abuse disclosures in a manner that for many victims deepened their pain and stalled or made impossible their efforts to recover from traumatic experiences.
GRACE began its long-awaited, 301-page report that was released Thursday with a compliment to BJU for taking a "bold step forward" to examine "how it may have caused deep hurt in the lives of students who had suffered from the ravages of sexual assault." GRACE is a self-identified Christian organization based in Lynchburg, Virginia, and its full name is Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. BJU under former President Stephen Jones does deserve credit for undertaking the independent GRACE investigation and agreeing to make public its findings.
Others deserve even more praise, however, and that includes the former students who have forced the university to acknowledge and address its failures when it comes to how allegations of sexual abuse were handled. Former students and even some current ones recognized the injustice that has taken place and have refused to back down even in the face of criticism and some hostility. The courage displayed by alumni and former students who insisted on the GRACE investigation is even surpassed by that required of the sexual abuse victims who participated in this study. They are the heroes here for agreeing to share their stories of the original abuse and then the revictimization that followed as they were struggling to deal with what had happened to them.
The two-year investigation produced an unflinching report into how BJU failed to provide a safe environment where students could seek help and begin the healing process after they arrived on campus dealing with childhood sexual abuse or were assaulted during their student years. Part of the investigation included a confidential survey, and in it more than 60 percent of the self-identified abuse victims who responded said the college's attitude toward victims was one "of blame and disparagement."
One of the most damaging findings was that key college leaders were slow, by decades, to understand their legal requirement to report alleged sexual abuse in many cases. Laws were developed more than four decades ago, and refined and sharpened over the years, to require adults in positions of authority to protect innocent children who are being abused. It is absolutely appropriate for Solicitor Walt Wilkins to begin his own investigation, which was announced Friday, into the way BJU handled the sexual abuse reports.
Wilkins has an opportunity to put an exclamation point on the brutal report by holding BJU officials accountable if his investigation finds violations of legal requirements to report sexual abuse. "If they were convincing individuals not to report crimes that could be considered obstruction of justice," Wilkins told Greenville News reporter Lyn Riddle. "We need to see if it rises to that level."
One key finding of the GRACE report stated, "The survey findings support a possible conclusion that BJU representatives may have sometimes discouraged the reporting of sexual crimes to the proper authorities." Although school officials have reported a different interpretation of some comments or counseling advice, some victims said they were told the abusers should be forgiven and not reported to law enforcement authorities, and that they would be selfish if they shared their experience with others and in doing so hurt the school.
Victims also reported how they were made to feel ashamed for what had happened to them, and they came away from sermons or counseling sessions thinking they had contributed to the abuse. "Women and girls were taught they must 'confess' the part of sexual abuse they enjoyed, that they probably enticed the abuser," was among the viewpoints expressed.
One victim reported she was abused by her grandfather from the ages of 6-14, according to the GRACE report. When she went for counseling, she later reported being asked, "Did you repent for your part of the abuse? Did your body respond favorably?"
Daisy interjects: OH GROSS.
Two school leaders were held out for especially strong criticism in the GRACE report: Bob Jones III, who led the school for many of the years covered by the investigation, and Dr. Jim Berg, dean of students during much of the period covered by the investigation and the man, who with an educational background in theology, helped develop the counseling program for students.I really can't add anything to that. I am proud of them for finally saying it.
The GRACE study led to a number of recommendations, some already implemented, that include timely reporting of suspected abuse, a recognition that victims should never be blamed for abuse or assault, and an agreement to separate counseling services from the disciplinary process.
BJU President Steve Pettit and others who hold the university dear to their hearts now carry the burden of implementing GRACE report recommendations, trying to salvage the school's reputation, and reaching out to vulnerable people hurt first by their abuser and again by how their confidence was betrayed and their case mismanaged. There's more the school should do, too.
The extraordinarily damaging views about abuse that were uncovered in the GRACE report have hurt more than the victims who participated in this investigation. Those views were shared over the years with young men going into the ministry, with students preparing to be teachers or counselors, and with boys and girls who now have their own children who are venturing into a world that can be unsafe and downright cruel. A step toward redemption should include BJU's heartfelt and comprehensive effort to make its closest allies understand how much horribly wrong information was spread for many years and how critically important it is to change a fundamentally flawed view of sexual abuse.
And for my part, I wanted to rip the BJU administration a new one, but I figure I will save that for the radio tonight. (TUNE INTO WOLI AM/FM, listen live at 8pm!) But more than that... I have had an epiphany. (Kevin Spacey voice: I hate when that happens.)
The people who have given me so much grief over the years? These Bob Jones mavens who have written me up on the job and started fights about Jaysus (credit to Tom Wolfe for spelling) and made pests of themselves at the Black Sabbath concert and at the bookstore where I worked??? I now see that many were suffering. Perhaps, suffering greatly, and directing this pain outward was what they were taught to do, the only way they knew how to cope. And there I was, an available target.
Not unlike the way THEY were an available target.
And so, the pain is passed on.
I have decided not to do that this time. I want to be better than that.
It is my hope that fundamentalists will learn from this, that they have plenty of problems of their own to deal with, and they should probably stop pointing at other people and deal with themselves. I think plenty of people have figured this out in the past week--maybe more than I ever believed possible. And for all of you, I offer an olive branch. (holds up two fingers) PEACE!
Please speak out and share. And organize for change. My love to you all at this difficult time.
EDIT #1: One person already speaking out, sharing and providing excellent analysis is survivor Dani Kelley, who is doing a series on the GRACE report. Please check out her blog.
EDIT #2: My friend Camille Lewis offers some inside-baseball on the situation, for all of us to peruse: Bob Jones University rewrites recent history to ward off federal investigation, PART ONE and PART TWO. (The timeline featured in PART TWO, is indispensable for those who want the step-by-step of how the investigation came to be.)
Friday, December 12, 2014
But I have been storing up songs, so you're in luck.
First, a song about Daisy's childhood. Yes, this is about MY MOTHER, and all those other mouthy beehive-hairdo white trash ladies of the 60s ... I miss yall so much. (And especially during the holidays, I always miss my mama terribly.)
In my lifetime, I have gone from embarrassment over this song (amazingly accurate, thought the 12-year-old me, how did Tom T. Hall KNOW THIS ABOUT US??????), to giggling-glee and pride, to tearful nostalgia. Its from another time. This could never happen now.
But hey, really: it used to happen. My mother was a bit more colorful in her language than ole Tom's lyrics could be in 1968.
I included a version with the lyrics:
Jeannie C. Riley - Harper Valley PTA
Speaking of nostalgia, any comments I attempt on this one, would probably degenerate into blubbering... so I won't.
Cassidy - Grateful Dead
A sentiment I have often had, about people I love... it was such a surprise to hear the same feelings come from a man.
Delightful, sweet and very honest.
I wish I was your mother - Mott the Hoople
For you headbanging kidz, I remembered to bring the punk.
This song comes highly recommended; it once destroyed one of my friend's car speakers.
New Rose - The Damned
Next up, a song about my husband's hometown:
Little Feat - Oh Atlanta
Despite copious promises, I never have updated my old INSTRUMENTALS post, which continues to get hits from desperate music-lovers looking for the names of ancient, wordless tunes ... and so, as a consolation prize, here is a stunning instrumental tune you have probably heard many, many times, done with consummate class and finesse by Jeff Beck.
My very favorite version of the jazz classic first written and recorded by Charles Mingus in 1959.
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat - Jeff Beck