In 2007, author Sherman Alexie's book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. That's high praise indeed. Yet this semi-autobigraphical novel describing growing up on a Spokane Indian Reservation while attending an all-white secondary school, has ridden into some difficulty recently in Meridian, Idaho.
A few weeks ago, the school board voted 2-1 to ban the book because it contained sexually charged material and mocked the Christian religion. It's not particularly clear which was more offensive to the school board, the "steam" of the material or the "passion" of the Christ. But none the less, banned it became.
Literature might have been knocked to the mat, but it wasn't out for the count.
Following the ban, two Washington women held a crowd-sourced fundraiser to purchase copies of the book to distribute to the 350 students who had signed the petition protesting the board’s move. Working with a Boise bookstore, the women were able to purchase enough copies for all of the students with the publisher donating an additional 350 copies to be given away at a later date.
And give them away they did. It was in a public park this past weekend. Well, until a concerned citizen called the police. They came to see what was going on. It seems Junior Mountain View High school student Brady Kissel was distributing free copies of the novel to students who had signed a petition protesting the board’s recent decision.
Fortunately for the young people of Meridian Idaho, and the rather enlightened understanding of the police in that community, "peace" was kept and sanity restored.
The police spoke to student Brady Kissel and determined no harm was being done. The books were distributed. Literature triumphed over close-minded ignorance. And sanity returned to the sleepy community where education won out. Let's hear it for the police in Meridian Idaho.
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
Who can argue with that? Who can refuse promoting those solid, non-sectarian beliefs?
Evidently the police in northern Idaho. Ben Wolfinger, the sheriff of Kootenai County, just decided not to renew his department’s charter with a local Boy Scout troop. He had his reasons. How valid they are is another story.
He made his decision to refuse sponsorship for this national organization for one reason and one reason only. It wasn't money. It was that the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay members. According to Wolfinger, his Christian faith and reliance on biblical teachings led him to his decision. How unchristian of him. He chooses bigotry over charity.
Now sponsoring a worthwhile program like the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts of America seems like a pretty nice thing to do. Generous and uncontroversial as well. Considering the benefits to the members, the kids, the parents and the volunteers, it's to be lauded. Unless you're some kind of right-wing religious zealot.
Is this community leader, a police officer sworn to uphold the law (and that means anti-discrimination and hate laws) withholding his support? He's hiding behind the religion wildcard. Is he really saying that he can't be any support to any group that promotes equality?
According to the US Scouts Organization, the BOY SCOUT LAW:
A Scout is:
I don't see anti-Gay in there. So what's the problem?
Unless the narrow-minded Sheriff sees something there that I don't, I suggest that he turn in his badge and refuse to take his pension on religious beliefs. The police help people of all colors, races, creeds, and orientations. Sheriff Wolfinger wishes to exempt himself from that on religious belief. If that's the case, let him go.
People around the country must stop this nonsense of selectively picking and choosing which religious interpretations they want just when it suits their bigotry. This is another one of those cases and sadly, it's a black eye for law enforcement both in Idaho and in the rest of the country.
If police want to benefit from an improved community recognition, cooperation and acceptance, if they want regular people to appreciate the fine job many of them do, then giving something back to communities is just such a move. Refusing aid, help and the backing of their departments just makes them look on par with the criminals they are hired to apprehend.
South Carolina Homelessness On the Rise
(from http://www.postandcourier.com/ June 26, 2013)
Being Homeless in Downtown Columbia, South Carolina, Might Be Against the Law
(from http://www.theatlanticcities.com/ - August 23, 2013)
This is a great article - written by Neil deGrasse Tyson:
America and the Emergent Space Powers
Plus there's interesting food for thought in this article on jobs:
This Week in the War on Workers: How 'Do What You Love' Does Us Wrong
And then there's CNN. Wow, just wow...
From Daily Kos / the Guardian / the Financial Times:
"CNN recently hit a 20-year low in prime time ratings in the United States, attracting an average of just 78,000 viewers across the whole day and 98,000 in prime time."
Can this really be? 78,000 viewers across the whole day???
Tsk, tsk. Via.
Rachel Maddow does her usually excellent job of sharing staggeringly jaw-dropping news that make us want to scream, "WTF?!" This time its about "constitutional Republican" and State Representative Mark Patterson, an admitted "attempted rapist." And hey! Conservative Congressman Raul Labrador vouches for this guy!
Did I mention he's part of the Ron Paul wing of the party?
To add fuel to this political grease fire, his website lies about his "accomplishments."
Please watch the entire video, because the excerpts don't include everything Maddow covered.
Take it away, Rachel:
His website described him as having been a student at the University of Southern California, having gone to USC. Turns out he never went to USC.
His website also described him as a petroleum engineer. Turns out he is not a petroleum engineer, he's not an engineer at all.
His website also described him as a professional bicyclist. He was not a professional bicyclist ...he had no professional license, even though he did ride a bike...
Now, though, comes the dark part of this story, which is that Republican State Representative Mark Patterson, it turns out, has twice been arrested and charged with forcible rape.
One of those times in Ohio, he was acquitted. He was found not guilty of those charges. But the other time he was arrested and charged with rape he plead guilty. He plead guilty specifically to assault with intent to commit rape.
He did some time in jail and did some probation, and because of the probation sentence and the plea bargain that went along with it, under Florida law, this all happened in Tampa, Florida, this went down on Mark Patterson's record as a withheld judgment on the assault to intent rape charge.
So fast forward to 2007 and across the country to Idaho. And in 2007, soon-to-be State Representative Mark Patterson applies for a license to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Idaho.
He presumably does not mention on his application the rape issue in his past, since Idaho law says you can't get a concealed weapons permit if you have committed a, say, assault with intent to commit a serious felony, like for example, rape. So apparently he didn't mention that on his application in 2007 or presumably again on his application in 2012.
His past rape charge, his guilty plea means, he should have been turned down when he applied for a concealed weapons permit. And so now, the Idaho sheriff to whom he has applied for the gun permit has revoked the permit, saying basically having a violent felony on your record means you can't have a weapons permit. And you certainly can't lie about your violent felony record in order to get a weapons permit.
This is not a hard call, right? ...That one time you plead guilty to assault with forcible rape, that means you can't have concealed weapons anywhere. Even if you are a newly elected state representative. Who knows why he was able to get away with lying on that application once, and at least for awhile on his second try, too. But eventually the sheriff in Ada County, Idaho, found him out...
In any normal world, this is the part where the guy steps down to spend more time with his family. But because this is not a normal world... because this is our world now, the rape charges Republican lawmaker caught lying about it on his gun application has launched a counter attack, saying this is all just a trumped up bit of police retaliation for some legislation he sponsored, because he is the guy responsible for the legislation that would have put the cops in jail if Idaho law enforcement officers attempted to enforce federal gun laws in the state of Idaho.
He says because he sponsored that legislation, this whole ruckus now is just The Man coming for him and his guns in retaliation. That sheriff that discovered my rape conviction was, he says, "angry about being exposed as an opponent of the Second Amendment"...
...Do you want to know what the resolution is to the story of the Republican state representative who it turns out was charged with forcible rape twice, and who plead guilty to assault with intent to rape, and then lied about it on his gun permit application twice, and then got caught lying about it by the local sheriff, do you want to know how this story ends?
The guy gets to keeps his guns.
He gets to keep his concealed carry permit.
After all, even though, you know, right! And lying about it. Even though guilty plea to a violent felony, he gets to to keep the guns and keep the concealed weapons permit, because, turns out there is a state law that says if you're an elected official in Idaho, one of 3,000 elected officials in Idaho, at every level down to dog catcher, if you're an elected official in Idaho, there is a state law that says the legal requirements for getting a gun permit in that state don't apply to you....
...This country became the place where the response by law to the violence attempted rapist elected official who lied about it and who got caught lying about it, the only legal response to that man is, "Sorry, sir. Here is your gun, here is your gun, sir, here is your concealed weapons permit. Really sorry for the inconvenience."
That is the only possible legal response to the guy who plead guilty to assault with attempt to rape: "Sorry, sir, here is your gun."
How can this possibly be who we are right now?
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Lt. Col Barry Wingard is the lawyer for Gitmo detainee Fayiz Al-Kandari. For their ongoing story + related topics, please click on the link below:
Kuwaiti Citizen Detained at Guantanamo since 2002
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