When I was a child, my mother taught me that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. The first time I encountered the gay-bashing members of Westboro Baptist Church was in 1998, when they picketed the funeral of my close friend Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and left to die tied to a fence in rural Wyoming.
What most shocked me was that, even as I attended the funeral of someone who had been murdered in a hate crime, I hadn't realized how deeply some people hate.
It wasn't until I saw those neon-colored signs with their ugly words against the snowy Wyoming landscape that I understood what my community was up against. . . .
-- Romaine Patterson, the start of a Washington Post op-ed piece today, "Let Westboro Baptist have their hate speech. We'll smother it with peace"
When the Rev. Fred Phelps and his parishioners came back to Laramie the next year to protest at the trials of the men who murdered Matthew, they were in for a bit of a surprise. Several friends and I led a counter-protest, dressed as angels, silently encircling them, our huge outstretched wings blocking their vicious signs from view.
Having been face to face with the Phelps gang, my heart goes out to all the families, who, in their most vulnerable hour, have had to deal with this small band of cruel ranters.
After Laramie, it all changed. Westboro Baptist Church members realized that the more high-profile their protests, the bigger the response, so they started picketing at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This past week, the Supreme Court upheld their right to do so. But where they go, angels have appeared as well, to form a living shield.
When Westboro announced that it would come to Tucson to parade around the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, gunned down in January in the attack against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Legislature hurriedly passed a law setting limits on how close protesters could be to mourners. What filled me with pride, though, was seeing another community take inspiration from our own Angel Action protest more than a decade ago, depicted in the play "The Laramie Project."
As others have across the country, people in Tucson hunted up the PVC pipe and sheets and online pattern to make the costumes, and spread their wings.
To me, the lasting legacy of our counter-protest so many years ago is the enduring power of drowning out noise with silence, of smothering hate with peace.
I understand why the father of a soldier killed in Iraq sued Westboro Baptist after members jeered at his son's funeral. It is natural to want to banish such an abhorrent spectacle so that no one else will have to endure what you did. But I agree with Wednesday's ruling by the Supreme Court, because I support free speech. I know that there were many who stood by when Phelps yelled "God hates fags" at the funerals of gays or those who died of AIDS, but who mobilized in outrage when his vitriol was spewed in the direction of our brave men and women in arms, who died protecting his freedom and ours.
(Chode | Dreamstime.com)
State officials said Thursday that damage to the marble inside and out the State Capitol would cost an estimated $7.5 million.
Cari Anne Renlund, chief legal counsel for the state Department of Administration, said in Dane County court that estimates of damage to marble includes $6 million to repair damaged marble inside the Capitol, $1 million for damage outside and $500,000 for costs to supervise the damage.
State officials charged with overseeing the state Capitol are now backing away from their estimate that demonstrators did more than $7 million in damage to the building.
Touring the Capitol Friday morning with state architect Dan Stephans, Plale said he had not immediately observed any damage from demonstrations over Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill, though the pair was just starting their tour. Plale said that he didn't believe the state had had any experienced contractor provide the quote on the damages.
Amazing. In just one day, the estimate went from $7.5 million to $0. Now that's a budget repair bill.
The plan, apparently, is to bring this to the floor next week and allow amendments. It reflects what the White House offered yesterday, with the inclusion of an additional $6.5 billion in budget cuts.[...]
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Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
If the Georgetown port had condos and boat landings along with hotels, you think people like Kevin Ryan, Ray Cleary and Tim Scott would throw money at dredging? I do.
I believe if rich people inhabited the area - and were potential donors to political campaigns - they's rush right in and dredge the channel for private leisure.
It's being done for Cherry Grove. Those people are getting the public to finance their dredging. How about that? Where are the teabaggers and their protests? Wonder whether or not any protested today while Scott was in Myrtle Beach as they kissed ass with Eric Cantor.
It's pretty clear. The Georgetown port is seen as an eye sore. By the locals who think we are such a tourist town. By politicians who care more about elections and donations than doing their job. The industrial workers mean nothing. They are just a number.
Prove me wrong. I have yet to be.
Scott has already said earmarks are a "moot conversation" in efforts to gain funds for dredging. But I suppose it's just fine for Republicans to spend taxpayer dollars to dredge a channel for a private community that will create NO JOBS.
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Gov. Walker sends out special early lay-offs notices. They're not not lay-off notices per se because no one's actually laid off yet. They're special 'you're gonna be laid off soon if the Dems don't come back to Madison' notices[...]
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For Richer and For Poorer
For Richer and Poorer - Teachers and Wall Street
When will America's teachers follow the lead of Wall Street and start making some sacrifices for the children?
Jon Stewart & Company go to town on the blatant hypocrisy and utter foolishness of Wisconsin's class war on teachers.
This was during Argentina's military dictatorship in the late 70s and early 80s. I was working briefly in Argentina towards the end of the 1980s and heard about these stories from Argentine friends. Just horrific. Two of the former dictators have gone on trial. Good.
About 500 babies were stolen from their mothers during the dictatorship, according to the campaign group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.There's a wonderful (sad) movie about this chapter of Argentine history, called "The Official Story" (La historia oficial). Do watch it sometime.
Pregnant female political dissidents were interned a
t secret maternity wards in centres used to torture opponents of the dictatorship.
The babies were handed to military officers or their relatives after birth while the mothers were simply killed, many of them dropped alive from military planes into the sea.
The motion picture was based on the non-fiction book, La noche de los lápices, written by María Seoane and Héctor Ruiz Núñez. The book profiles seven high school student activists from La Plata, Argentina, including lone survivor Pablo Díaz, who gives the authors his testimony. The students were kidnapped by the government after protesting for cheaper bus fare.I've mentioned this before - an Argentine friend, over dinner one night when I was still in Buenos Aires, late 1980s, was telling me about her friends who were killed by the junta during the dictatorship (called "the Dirty War"). I remember her crying in the restaurant, but don't really remember anything about the conversation, or what I said to elicit her next comment (I suspect it was my usual adamant exuberance about politics), but she said to me:
Pablo Díaz was incarcerated for four years. The other six students became a part of the 236 Argentine teenagers who were kidnapped and disappeared during the military dictatorship.
I hope Obama is campaigning actively for re-election, because I'm getting daily messages from the Tea Party Express saying, that they are, for example,
"fighting against Barack Obama and the public employee unions."
The most right-wing Republicans, backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, are actively campaigning against Obama as if tomorrow were Election Day 2012. I get far more mail from the Tea Party than I get from Obama and his allies. Let's hope Obama doesn't sleep through this barrage of negative ads against him and then get his clock cleaned by the Republicans in 2012.
The Republicans snookered a lot of voters by not mentioning their hate for unions during their campaigns and then making unions the bugaboo of the current campaign against people who work for a living.
Francis L. Holland, Esq.
P.S. If it annoys you that I use the pompous "Esq." after my name, I hope you will tell others how annoying I am and link to this post for proof.
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What's coming up on Sunday Kos ?.
DOD, protecting us from terrorists ... and boxer shorts.[...]
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