Friday Links from The Political Carnival
Oh, those prickly Catholic priests, sticklers for the rules. Especially when you're the headmaster at a Catholic school. Rules are rules. There is no any choice.
Michael Griffin, an openly gay teacher the Holy Ghost Preparatory School, was fired from the Catholic institution he has worked at in Bensalem, Pennsylvania for the past 12 years. His crime? He applied for a marriage license. A same sex marriage to take place in New Jersey where it's legal.
Griffin who teaches French and Spanish, said his sexuality was no secret at the Bensalem school. As a matter of fact, he and his same-sex partner of 12 years had been dinner guests more than once at the home of the school president, Father James McCloskey. Everything was fine and dandy until the two gay men decided they wanted to sanctify their relationship with a legal marriage.
How does being legally married disqualify this teacher from being a good faculty member after being openly accepted for the past dozen years? The answer to that from the principal is simple: He has no choice.
No choice? That seems so convenient. Did he take into any consideration that Mr. Griffin has no choice either? His sexual identity isn't a choice. He didn't pick it up at school (coincidentally, he attended this same Holy Ghost Prep as a youth). If they believe sexuality is a choice, does it mean he learned to be gay at this Catholic school? If so, they have bigger problems there.
The sad thing is that by making his living conditions legal, this popular teacher is losing his job. For Holy Ghost Prep, it's okay to be homosexual and live outside the law, but try to bring love, decency and a marriage license into a relationship and the church is saying that's bad. No wonder Pope Francis has so many problems among his flock. Ignorance has pervaded many of their educational institutions.
Here's the story in video form. It's short but fills in some details. But you have the broad strokes of the failings of understanding at this Catholic institution. And I'm sure they're not alone. But what hypocrites this school is to welcome a good deserving teacher until he does something just and right. I guess you have to remove human emotion and tolerance for your fellow man/woman if you want to live by these limited tenets.
Perhaps what makes this particular story so uplifting and full of youth, innocence and promise. It's the antithesis of how our Capitol Hill clowns do things. This isn't a liberal or a conservative politician in this tale, but rather by a regular kid -- a second grader in Pennsylvania, Christian Bucks.
He doesn't care about obstructionist politics or denial of civil responsibilities, or even raising the minimum wage. He thinks about school, recess and friends. His peers. Too bad his Governor doesn't feel the same way as he denies Medicaid coverage in his state. But Christian's just a kid and shouldn't have to worry about partisan politics. And taking sides out of the equation, he shows the importance of just caring to do something good for others.
Though a popular elementary school student himself, Christian's recognized the proliferation of some of those not so fortunate in his school. He thinks about many of his schoolmates who suffered through loneliness, being excluded and just plain not having a friend. During a trip to Germany where he saw something called a buddy bench. The concept stuck with him and he brought the idea back home. He may have shared the wonders of a European vacation with his friends, but with his school principal, Matthew Miller, he shared a more important vision.
And good ideas are hard to keep down. Thus, this week his school, Roundtown Elementary School in York Pennsylvania, unveiled the Christian Bucks Buddy Bench. And like a whisper in the wind, this story caught on, not just in the local area, but in other cities across the country as well. He's gone viral. And his idea of the buddy bench is growing exponentially.
Shunned kids, unpopular students, the shy, the awkward or just different are being given a safe haven on the buddy bench. It's an opportunity to make new friends, a place where they can get sit until they find someone or something to lift their spirits or give them added confidence. Sometimes all a kid needs is someone to play with. And now the students at Roundtown Elementary know where they can go to find that person. Shyness often can be overcome with just a kind word or a simple invitation, "Hey, you wanna play or wanna do somethin'?" from a peer. A new friend can emerge from the crowded void of inclusion.
Watch this uplifting NBC video and make your day a meaningful one. If you have school age kids, think about raising this idea at their playground. And if you don't have kids, or your children are older, consider donating a bench like this to a school. In these days of bullying and youth suicide, this may even be a life saver. It's just a thought, but a good one that should be passed on.
I worked at public schools for years, and a common sight would be a student stepping away to use an inhaler. Occasionally, a kid would forget to bring one, or they would lose theirs, and I would notice them sitting on the floor gasping for breath as school staff scrambled to track down family members or the school nurse who could quickly provide one.
It was always a disturbing and tense scenario, one that I could never shake off, one that is stuck in my memory forever, one that made adults and students alike feel helpless as we tried to comfort the panicky, choking child trying to cope until help arrived.
Twelve-year-old Philadelphia sixth-grader Laporshia Massey had an asthma attack at school and died later that day.
Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, there was no nurse on campus, nor was there a trained medical professional to recognize how serious her symptoms were. So they did what we found ourselves doing, they told her to try to remain calm. The difference was, we were fully staffed and could respond quickly and efficiently.
Laporshia was denied the attention and care she needed, so by the time she was taken to the hospital, it was too late. She lost her life.
Sixth-grader Laporshia Massey died from asthma complications, according to her father, who says he rushed her to the emergency room soon after she got home from school on the afternoon of Sept. 25. He says Laporshia had begun to feel ill earlier that day at Bryant Elementary School, where a nurse is on staff only two days a week. This day was not one of those days.
Daniel Burch, Laporshia’s father, is angry and wants to know whether Philadelphia’s resource-starved school district failed to save his daughter’s life.
“If she had problems throughout the day, why … didn’t [the school] call me sooner?” asks Burch... “Why,” he asks, “didn’t [the school] take her to the hospital?”
Burch's fianceé, Sherri Mitchell, got a call from school during which Laporshia told her, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” Neither Burch nor Mitchell realized how serious the situation was, thinking that a trained professional at the elementary school would diagnose her.
When Laporshia went to the teacher, she was told that there was "no nurse and just to be calm.” Once school let out, a school staff member drove Laporshia home.
When she got there, her father immediately gave her medication and rushed her to the hospital.
She collapsed in the car, at which point Burch flagged down a passing ambulance in the middle of traffic. Burch says his daughter later died at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. [...]
The District source believes that Laporshia’s life could have been saved if the school had responded appropriately to her illness. “If they had called rescue, she would still be here today,” the source said.
The Philadelphia school district has been underfunded; Gov. Tom Corbett's budget cuts have let 3,000 staff members go since June. Per the City Paper article, after the initial cuts, a nurse specifically warned that "other staff were not competent to deal with asthmatic students in her absence."
Sadly, the nurse was right.
Tom “You Just Have to Close Your Eyes” Corbett actually thought he was doing damage control when he corrected his original comparison of married gay couples to unions of twelve-year-old kids and said this:
"A much better analogy would be brother and sister..."
Oh yes, absolutely, Governor Tommy, equating marriage equality to incest is a huge improvement! Way to upgrade your message! Whew! And here we thought you'd never recover from that 12-year-old comment.
UPDATE: Here's a video of his apology to the "some" who thought his remarks were "insensitive." But see, there are "opinions on both sides," and he was "thinking with [his] legal head all the time," and being a politician is "second nature, not first nature as being a lawyer," so he apologizes to "anyone who feels offended by that." He didn't "intend to upset anybody," he was just "making an analogy."
And as Think Progress notes, it was just such a comparison to 12-year-old children that Corbett deemed inappropriate.
It's fun to watch a good heavyweight championship fight. There have been some memorable bouts which included Ali-Frazier, Holmes-Norton, Bowe-Hollyfield, Forman-Frazier II, Tyson-Spinks. There have been surprises and shockers along the way. Some quick knockdowns and disbelieving knockouts, even something called 'rope-a-dope to go with a 'phantom punch'.
As of last night, you can add to that list of pugilistic punishments two more names - Matthews and Perry. The event will be known as the Hawker at the Talker. The Mowdown at the Showdown. The Last Word Massacre. The Bird vs the Turd. The Yapper in the Crapper.
On MSNBC's HARDBALL last night, Chris 'Tweety bird' Matthews took on Keystone State's U.S. Representative Scott Perry. Both men had trained hard for this bout. The bell rang and with the lights bearing down on them, they sized each other up for a few rounds, then the blows started to land.
Slightly favored Perry, trained under the tutelage of the Ted Cruz and Micheal Lee, landed some early shots, stunning the ever avuncular, soft-punching annoyer-turned-destroyer, Matthews. Barbs and taunts were volleyed back and forth. Most blows landed softly or were counter-punched with bombastic overtalk. Not much was landing.
Then, as the fight wore on, so did the patience of hometown favorite, Tweety. He seemed momentarily stunned and slowed early on by the surprise pounding and rapid speed of his counter-punching challenger-- but then it happen. The unthinkable. The referee was called in to stop the fight. The Keystone Kid, Perry, had thrust a low-blow to his adversary. He had struck below the belt. He questioned Matthews integrity and challenged him where it hurts most -- in his family jewels -- his journalistic integrity.
Waving off the ref who wanted to stop the fight and give Matthews the TKO, Tweety took to a final assault. With just seconds left, Chrissy Boy summoned everything left in his tank, reared back, and threw a final roundhouse, landing squarely on the challenger's chin. Scott was knocked to the canvass, resulting in a ten-count K.O.
If you want to see the replay, this is one fight you'll remember and tell your kids. It's the night Tweety Bird beat the favored challenger, the Keystone Kid. Warning, this is a brutal and bloody battle. You might want to clear the kids from the room. It's not for the squeamish.
So as famed ring announcer Michael Buffer would yell, "Lets get ready to ruuuuuuuummmmble!!!"
Sometimes I get so frustrated and/or disheartened and/or annoyed by some of the news stories of the day that I can’t bring myself to write about them. Here are a few recent reports that made my blood pressure hit the roof. I am avoiding delving into them at length out of concern for my physical and mental health.
See what I mean? So who’s up for a couple of Margs or a trough of wine?
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Kuwaiti Citizen Detained at Guantanamo since 2002
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