A friend is worried that in beating up Donald Trump I am losing Republican votes. But I know they approved when I beat up Superintendent Dixon. How can I not beat up a President twelve thousand lies ahead of Supt. Keith Dixon?
Very timely. Maybe even prophetic.
In the absence of humility sexual predation is rampant. We expect it in secular quarters like politics but its true in the church as well. Catholics are and will continue to reel from recent expose’s. Ditto the Boy Scouts. Pedophiles flocked to the schools where Indian children were taken from their parents and shipped away to forget their Indian languages and learn of the greatness of the United States. It has made its way into Christian evangelism where, as was the case with Leroy Moore of Alabama, the true believers refuse to take the scales off their eyes.
What I didn’t know is that in a lot of the new evangelical churches the decks are stacked against victims by a contract kind of like Donald Trump’s non disclosure agreements. The Times’ story today about pedophiles in the evangelical world explains it thusly:
“It was the kind of community that Ms. Bragg, who was not raised in the church, wanted for her children. They signed the church’s Membership Covenant, an agreement stating they would submit to the Bible and to the authority and spiritual discipline of church leaders. Members promise to “practice complete chastity” unless in a heterosexual marriage, to “refrain from illegal drug use, drunkenness, gossip,” and to “diligently strive for unity and peace within the church.” Leaders promise “to lovingly exercise discipline when necessary.”
“Ms. Bragg could feel her faith growing. She embraced evangelical tenets, like trusting God, not one’s own feelings. She learned the importance of being slow to anger and quick to forgive.
Mrs. Bragg would learn the hard way that bowing to this church was like putting on a pair of handcuffs. Like the first eruptions of scandal in the Catholic Church these evangelical churches have no room for apology or confession. In this they are just like their hero Donald Trump and the new Republicans and Bill Clinton too for that matter.
If my French is correct the title says I’m not so sorry. That makes this a non apology for leading my eight loyal readers along about the week-old post promising a couple stories about Minnesota politics and the mafia.
First I rediscovered that one of the ties was probably wrong involving Duluth’s most famous millionaire and then I lost interest as other things filled up my plate. The later example was about another Minnesota millionaire who used to hobnob with the mafia in Las Vegas till they cut off his hand. The jail house rumor was that after he failed to pay the mob back it was that or the life of his daughter. I wonder if the President would have been so noble?
It was an anecdote I planned to at least footnote in this book I never got around to writing.
I’ll post something else soon.
Thirty days in France was a welcome relief from the continuing Trump news sepsis in the United States. Oh, I did peek at the news on my cell and occasionally on various French hotel televisions which carried one English speaking channel. It was always CNN. It was like peeking through my fingers at a horror show.
Toward the end of the trip and now, upon my return, I find myself waking up in the middle of the night hoping not to think about our nation’s politics. Sometimes I am able to get back to sleep. Typing out my thoughts on my blog helps. Yesterday I returned to my on-again, off-again column in the Duluth Reader. Over the day I cranked out a couple of attempts and was concerned that there was so much water flowing over Niagara that I couldn’t possibly stuff it all in a tiny, 800 word bucket. Although there is so so much more to say I was reasonably pleased with my final product. You can read it at the end of the week in the Reader. Its titled: “Frat Boy Justice.”
I begin by explaining that my first attempt to write a column was to expose my “guy” experience as a member of a fraternity from 1969 to 1973. But there were larger issues to dance around so I departed from that. However, the subject of boys behaving badly has made it to this blog before. I remembered writing about one particular episode about a friend of mine who spit on a stripper. I just discovered that I had blogged about this twice. You can read both posts to check to see whether the four year interval between tellings betrays any serious discrepancies. If you are only going to read just one I’d suggest the first post from 2013 because it preceded any thought of a Donald Trump Presidency or a Bret Kavanaugh justiceship.
If you read the shorter second retelling from 2017 (immediately after Trump’s election) you may intuit a premonition on my part of things to come.
Any fair minded person looking the Republican defenders of a likely attempted rapist for signs of moral sepsis have only to look at South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. His example is what my Mother feared could happen to me if I stuck it out in politics.
I tried to link to today’s Trib story from Lisa Kaczke on candidates addressing poverty. I don’t think it made it to the Trib’s online paper. Symbolic perhaps.
Yesterday’s forum at Denfeld was one of the few my wife has ever attended. Since getting her degree in Religious Leadership and interning at the Central Hillside United Ministry’s homeless shelter she’s been invested in the issue of poverty. Watching a sick woman being released from a hospital to a cot in a Homeless Shelter alters one’s focus.
I can say she didn’t have any superlatives for any of the many candidates who addressed poverty – including me. Claudia’s view of the event was that for once politicians had to listen to those in dire straights rather than the other way around.
There wasn’t much we candidates could say in the minute per question that was given us but we did hear extended life stories. The one that sticks with me was from an ex felon whose entire family finds itself blackballed in every regard because of the father’s past legal infractions. One thing the very Christian legislators have insisted on is that there is no Christ-like redemption in our legal system. Its all mandatory sentencing, a lifelong mark of Cain, and permanent disenfranchisement from citizenship. Even the Old Testament seems humane by comparison and if you are rich like our President you can commit all manner of larceny and get off scot-free with an army of attorneys.
So, this morning our church men’s group had a guest speaker from the State District Courts, Justice Dale Harris. He gave a sober talk that will keep me in deep thought for a while. He began by mentioning that last year there were 1.3 million cases brought to the Minnesota Courts. Heck, there are five million Minnesotans so that means one-in-four of them on average go to the courts each year. Whoa! I know I’ve been in court about once every three or four years myself fighting over the schools or family law or probate issues.
I had many questions for Justice Harris but I had to wait in line to ask them after my fellow attendees. I finally asked him about a concern that a black friend recently brought to my attention – the frustration of the St. Louis County attorney’s office with penny ante juvenile infractions brought to the courts from the schools such as “tobacco tickets.”
We had a short but useful discussion after the meeting and I hope to tap him for more insights in the future……provided I remain on the Duluth School Board. We have a lot of suffering children and I need to know more about Child Protective Services.
On the Flight back I finished up William Allen White’s book and then began the book “Minnesota Rag” by Fred Friendly
I bought the book two years ago at the suggestion of one of Art Johnston’s attorneys. It too is short and fascinating. I was especially drawn to Friendly’s comments on “defamation” which I have occasionally been accused of being guilty of myself. And by the way, accusations of defamation are themselves defamatory. Counting this post the word has shown up nine times to date in the blog.
Chapter 9 outlines the arguments made to the U.S. Supreme Court by the attorney for the “Minnesota Rag” (the Saturday Press). Quoting Blackstone the attorney argued that “Every person does have a constitutional right to publish malicious, scandalous and defamatory matter, though untrue and with bad motives and for unjustifiable ends.” There can be, however, a penalty for such “free” speech – a libel suit.
I found another sentence even more arresting: “…every legitimate newspaper in the country regularly and customarily publishes defamation, as it has a right to in criticizing government agencies.”
Defaming someone doesn’t necessarily mean lying about them. I hadn’t thought of this before but it makes perfect sense. People who do infamous things would be defamed if their actions were described in news stories. And if a newspaper simply repeated an accusation of infamous behavior this too would be defamation whether true or not. The News Tribune repeatedly reported that poor old Art Johnston was accused of making racist statements and had conflicts of interest. The accusations had no merit but reporting the accusations over and over was perfectly legitimate.
Although they were not sued for libel most of Art’s accusers paid a price for Art’s defamation – by retiring from the Duluth School Board.
I twitted Wrenshall a couple posts ago so this post might be viewed as excessive harassment which I don’t mean to inflict. However, that post jogged the memory of an omniscient friend who sent me this clipping of the small unwitting part Wrenshall played 56 years ago in the promotion of the cinematic treatment of George Orwell’s dystopian novel. I was but ten years old at the time.
BTW – My son was born in 1984. He was a little brother.
I just keep adding more books to my reading list. The lastest is Killers of the Flower Moon. I’ve been catching reports on Public Radio for a presentation this week at the Fitzgerald Theater by its author David Grann.
The book is about the murders of Osage Indians which took place south of Kansas in Oklahoma about the time my Dad was born. I’ve never heard of them but I’ve always been fascinated by Oklahoma because of its eccentric ties to the South during the Civil War. When Andrew Jackson removed the Indians from the South in the winter of the Trail of Tears they took their African-American slaves with them. Ironically they had been civilized enough to adopt America’s slave tradition. When the Civil War broke out they looked at it as an opportunity to throw off Union control and sided with the same southerern slave holders that had removed them from the South.
The ex-slave Larry Lapsley, who had a farm next to my Grandfather after escaping from Texas had to travel at night through Oklahoma to avoid being caught by the slave owning Indians of the territory and being sent back.
My eight loyal readers know I’ve devoted a lot of space to Civil Rights in the blog tilted almost exclusively to African-Americans. However, I’ve never been in doubt about the treatment of Native Americans. I always wince on the Fourth of July when PBS reads the full Declaration of Independence and gets to this line about the wrongs of King George:
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Reading about this book opens up another haunting tie to my past. I’ve often written that when I was in sixth grade I was a minority white kid in Mr. Ross’s class although just barely. It was a 15/15 white/black split with one Native American kid added to make minorities of all of us. Sammy was an Osage Indian and new to Loman Hill Elementary so I really never got to know him since I moved to Minnesota at the end of my sixth grade year. He was a quiet kid.
White Kansas had a long history with both black and Indian populations. My Grandmother Ruth Welty’s great-grandparents were saved by a black woman, Black Ann Shatio, when they crossed over into Kansas from Missouri. (I just found this link today while looking for a reference from the Kansas Historical Society. Jerry Engler would be my shirt tail relative). Kansas also contributed a Vice President Charles Curtis to the United State. He was three quarters Native American. And of course my mother’s father, George Robb roamed around on land well traveled by Indians. A month ago I wrote that I had probably lost the arrowheads he collected on his farm in Assaria, Kansas, when I sent them off for a grandson’s show and tell. Hooray, they were rediscovered and returned. Here they are:
Vice President Curtis was one-quarter Osage and I can’t help but wonder if he makes an appearance in the Flower Moon although he was a Kansan not an Oklahoman. The Osage were one of the minor tribes who were moved to Oklahoma and you can see by this map of their reservation they lived adjacent to Kansas.
One of my Mother’s great-grandfather’s, Joseph Freemong McLatchey, lined up to race across the Oklahoma border in 1905 in hopes of claiming a piece of the territory only to find the land already occupied by “sooners.” He ruined his daughter’s prize horse in the attempt and remained in Kansas.
In the map above you can see where I was born – Arkansas City, Kansas. I remember hearing a local tell a “funny” story about the Oklahoma Indians after they struck oil on the once worthless land they imprisoned in. It seems one Osage, bought a car with his unexpected wealth and drove it around until it stopped moving a day or two later. Then he went out and bought another. He didn’t understand that cars needed gas.
According to the Flower Moon book the Osage’s white neighbors didn’t just make jokes about the Indians. They did their best to steal the oil for themselves by poisoning and shooting the unlucky Osage. Exposing these murders was the making of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI which uncovered 24 murders. Grann’s research suggests that this was just the tip of the iceberg. There may have been over a hundred. An Osage historian said that today there is hardly an Osage descendant that didn’t lose a relative to the murders of the 1920’s. I wonder if Sammy was quiet because he was haunted by ghosts.
I recently mentioned that one of my grandson’s had some Choctaw blood. They were another of the Native American tribes that were removed to Oklahoma.
I got an email from “my Buddy” this morning. It contained a fair question and I tried to treat it with a rational analysis:
From: “Your Buddy”
To: “Harry Welty”
Sent: 02-Feb-2017 15:28:58 +0000
Subject: 3 AM again | lincolndemocrat.com
Trump is the divorcingest President in our nation’s history.
So? Divorce is generally legal, and perhaps not even immoral. How many extramarital sexual involvements did William J. Clinton and John F. Kennedy have, although they were never divorced?
To which I replied:
That’s an interesting point Buddy,
Just to set a rational foundation for my reply let me be clear. That last line of mine was a dig and by itself only a superficial sting. Although, to be fair to me I can’t off hand think of any one I know personally who has been married three times. That excess seems to be the prerogative of the rich. But affairs……..that is a fair point. I’ve had family members who cheated or thought about it. Even so, I’d consider them human rather than bad people. But let me stick with Presidential timber here.
A lot of American presidents have been rumored or known to have had affairs, sometimes a great many of them. And yet for reasons that could be labeled hypocrisy or political expediency the first serious presidential candidate I can think of who ran after a divorce was New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He was widely condemned in his own Republican party and got hammered at the 1964 RNC Convention as an unfaithful libertine.
I do think that there is something admirable to be said for the virtue of loyalty which in marriage is generally referred to as fidelity. It is consonant with the traditional marriage vows of loving, honoring and obeying in sickness and in health. And so, when I was thirteen during the Goldwater boom Rockefeller’s divorce was scandalous. America has loosened up a lot as new generations came to see marriage as wonderful but recognized its imperfections – staying in unhappy relationships because of the kids, or the silent acceptance of spousal abuse. Sixteen years after Goldwater Ronald Reagan was just fine with the Republicans. Besides that, anyone prying into his life understood that it was his ex, Jane Wyman, who left him. Ron was an innocent.
But as to Kennedy, FDR, Harding and LBJ…..How about them? Well, political expediency may be their best excuse. They were fellows who really loved their wives and their families and weren’t willing to break them up or set a bad example for the wider community. So they sneaked around and hid their infidelities often with a compliant press’s help, turning a blind eye. Boys will be boys! Or these guys sort of did. There is little doubt that Ladybird and Jackie knew full well what their husbands were up to. Ladybird bore her betrayal with dignity. Jackie is said to have retaliated in kind.
Hillary put up with it too. Perhaps she was calculating. Perhaps she was simply being pragmatic. And on that score she managed to damage the Democratic party inadvertently in the long run by making her sympathizers defend Bill when the GOP went after his scalp. The Clintonista feminists opened themselves to the charge of hypocrisy for defending a skirt chasing, intern groping, possible rapist. Look what Donald Trump did with that! Of course, in Trump’s case it was a case of the pot calling the poor oven’s kettle black.
So is there anything else in my analysis of Trump that you would like to quibble with me about?
…for reading my blog. Thank you also for taking part in an important public conversation……..
I have submitted this piece in its entirety to the Tribune and will withhold it until such time as the Tribune prints it.
This is what I originally posted except that when I saved it the five or so hyperlinks I placed in it were lost. Frankly I’m too busy to replace them. As you can see there is very little change:
Thank you Dr. Conniff for reading my blog. Thank you also for taking part in an important public conversation. Your contribution begins:
“I had to read to the end of the well-reported Nov. 15 article, “District responds to hate speech in Duluth high schools,” to find School Board Member Harry Welty’s recommendation against ‘having a dire punishment for kids abusing their free-speech rights.’
In disbelief, I turned to Welty’s blog”
When the Tribune’s education reporter, Jana Hollingsworth, called me I kept her on the phone for forty minutes as I expanded on my thoughts on this sensitive subject. Due to the Duluth News Tribune’s understandable limitations of time, newsprint, and ink, only two sentences of mine were included in the article to explain my still evolving thinking on this episode.
In the meantime I must insist on an uncomfortable truth: In the United States free speech does include hate speech however much we may be appalled by it. Fortunately it does not include shouting “fire” in a dark theater nor does it include threats or incitement to riot.
My job as a member of the school board is to think my way through what has been happening over the last year and how to deal with its consequences over the next four and possibly, God forbid, eight years. Making martyrs out of Duluth students for parroting the hateful things they hear on the Internet and no doubt in their homes and on the nightly news is not the best or most thoughtful response. That would be fighting fire with grease which would only make the conflagration more intense.
Duluth has undergone two recent changes which exacerbate the negativity of 2016 election. 1. It divided its school district into rich/poor and black/white schools at the same time as 2. Its African-American community has begun to expand significantly leading to a white flight from our schools of perhaps 15% of the student population. There has been one heartening development over these recent years. Our children have assumed a generous and open attitude toward their superficial differences. The reaction of students in both East High and Denfeld have been remarkable rebukes to the politics that seem to have generated the “hate speech.” I take great comfort in that.
These generous reactions must be supported by the School Board not undermined by meting out “dire punishments” prompted by shock at the outcome of the recent election. We need to follow our better angels. That’s what Martin Luther King Jr. did. His legacy, the “Southern Christian Leadership Conference” has continued for fifty years to keep a watchful eye out for the vestiges of hate and racism that King gave his life to make part of our nation’s past. I do not believe King would have encouraged us to force it underground but would have advised us to keep it in full view where it could be exposed for what it is – a grievous assault on the spirit of justice and equality that our nation was founded upon.
The initial reactions of many in the wake of Donald Trump’s election have been fearful, ugly, gloating and generally panicky. There is an abundance if not an excess of caution. There has been local Radio talk-show indignation and Facebook hand-wringing over an evidently Anti-Trump message slipped into a school trophy case. It seems proof that political animosity works both ways. The tremors across northern Minnesota Schools yesterday from a vague threat is likely one more manifestation of this sorry situation.
I’m afraid that one more consequence of this election result is a powerful urge to cover our eyes and ears. At Tuesday’s school board meeting Supt. Gronseth expressed unhappiness with the student at Denfeld who took a picture of racist grafitti and posted it to Facebook to show how things were at the school. I’ll bet the police who have just charged a jumpy policeman in the Twin Cities with manslaughter may feel much the same way about Internet Videos. Silence is Golden.
I disagree. Communication is golden.
Yesterday a speech by an African-American historian was given at East High but then canceled for Denfeld when it was deemed inappropriate and perhaps an incitement to bad behavior. That’s a shame because the Denfeld students showed remarkable maturity and creativity in the face of the racist grafitti found on a bathroom wall. They countered it with a student led campaign to retake the school’s walls with positive and uplifting post-it note messages. According to one source this is what they missed when Dr. El-Kati was silenced:
“According to 3 equity minded individuals who all saw El-Kati’s talk yesterday at East, they are in complete and utter shock that Denfeld did not get to hear the awesome messages that El-Kati delivered. His main theme was moral character, and also touched on many topics and historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, John Lewis, Frederick Douglas, Quakers, MLK, war, Minnesota tops in education, Duluth is wonderful, power and privilege, among others.
“They said Denfeld kids needed that talk more than East kids.”
I was unaware of the speech which the District had contracted until the Superintendent offered this post script to his email to School Board members about the “non specific threat.” This is all I know of why Dr. El-Kati’s Denfeld appearance was canceled:
Oh– and Dr El-Kati’s visit did not go as well as hoped. He did not deliver the planned message. He did not meet the terms of the contract. After things did not go well at East, it was decided that the Denfeld presentation would be canceled.
Judging by the superlative response of the Denfeld students to racist grafitti I have every confidence that they could have handled whatever Dr. El-Kati had to say. I wish my confidence in our students was more widely shared.
Thank God! that the truth, however horrible, is being revealed – finally.
Here’s some of the “much more to come” suggested at the end of the previous post.
As I type my printer is cranking out 122 pages of a full screen play for a movie tentatively titled “Hatestorm.” I’ve already printed out a sixteen page “treatment” which I gather explains how the script is meant to convey the contents of Michael Fedo’s book about the infamous 1920 lynching of three black circus workers in Duluth, Minnesota in 1920 and translating it into a theatrical script for a movie.
It turns out that this is a not only a much more ambitious project than I had imagined but one with legs I hadn’t anticipated. It will be fascinating to see if it attracts the fifteen million in production costs that have been projected. A lot of that will ride on the success of the “teaser” I will do my bit part for.
I’ll begin reading the script tomorrow as I travel to Itasca State Park for what may be a soggy camping trip with Claudia, my daughter and my grandsons. I will check out my costuming upon my return, largely a white apron and contemplate getting my hair cut to 1920’s fashion with a part down the middle of my skull. Maybe I’ll wear a chef’s hat.
I haven’t yet memorized my fifty or so words but that shouldn’t be too hard. I will do that as I consume the script and imagine how the makers of the movie go about attracting investors. I’d like to help in more ways than as just an actor for four minutes worth of celluloid or whatever its digital equivalent is these days.
As I wrote before I had breakfast in the locale of the shoot. That’s Mike’s Western Cafe on West Superior Street in the West End. Claudia and I had eggs over easy and corn beef hash. Claudia proclaimed it very good. I looked at the cooler and the juice machine and a Minnesota Twins pennant and wondered if there would be any attempt to camouflage the present to evoke the 1920’s. The prime mover behind the project, screenwriter Dale Botten, most assuredly will. He will also pay the actors. That’s something I had imagined would not happen. I’ll get a paycheck!
Well, the script is finished printing. Its time for me to rest up for tomorrow’s travels. There’s a lot on my mind – packing, the Psalms (I’ve finished the first “book” through the 41st Psalm), The attractions of voting for Hillary aside from the execrations of Don Trump, how one of my School Board colleagues may be taking credit for all the good things happening in our District as she travels the state. Yup. Lots on my mind.
I’ll be back to write about some of it in the not too distant future.
I admire powerfully argued propositions. My Buddy sent me this and frankly my blog could use a short break from the Duluth Schools. I’ll be busy editing but go ahead and read the whole Slate article if you’d like. I haven’t yet but this passage is potent.
When will we ever learn?
As a dealer, you establish your patch against other dealers by force and terror, and you maintain your patch by force and terror. You don’t just hurt other dealers you hurt cops, and any civilians who get caught in the cross-fire. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman calculated this dynamic causes an extra 10,000 killings every year in the US. Continue reading
I don’t always know why my Buddy sends me links to stories but this link to a Jonah Goldberg column could have been prompted by my crack about Indiana being to skittish about so many grooms placed on wedding cakes.
But we live in an age where non-compliance with the left’s agenda must be cast as bigotry. Everyone is free to celebrate as instructed. This is what liberals think liberty means today.
Ignore Goldberg’s jab at the left (above) and read the column. Its thoughtful and I agree with it. That doesn’t mean that I’m not enjoying the spectacle of a Rightest schmoozing Governor getting baked in the glare of righteous indignation over Indiana’s law protecting conservative florists from having to supply flowers at gay weddings.
I’ve evolved myself over the years and am reasonably patient with folks who haven’t evolved as fast as me. Here are glimpses of my evolution first outlined in a column thirteen years ago that I wrote for the Duluth Reader titled “Selected Scenes from my Queer Life.”
Let me point out two of the incidents this story outlines:
1971, Age 20 – I become a summer intern for our local Congressman. I move into a seedy townhouse a short walk from the Nation’s Capitol. I borrow a cake pan from neighbors. When I return the pan I am invited over for dinner and a cocktail. I discover that fresh tomatoes with a little salt are really tasty and drink my first martini. My neighbors are the first wave of new residents who are gentrifying the neighborhood. I suspect that they are gay. I am invited back and find myself among five urbane men in their thirties. One is an internationally famous premier danseur, a male ballet dancer. He regales us with stories about how as a young man all the ballerinas tried to bed him for good luck. The men find this story of heterosexual promiscuity very funny. I excuse myself from the gathering after one of the hosts, who had been petting a kitten, begins petting my thigh.
Before I return to school the neighbors ask me if I would like to house-sit for them next summer while they are abroad. I think they have surmised that I’m not gay. I tell them I’d like to. When I mention this to my Dad he strongly discourages me because the homeowners are gay. I drop the idea.
1982, Age 31 – Duluth overwhelmingly defeats a “civil rights” ordinance which would require landlords to rent to gays. I tell my Dad that I’m inclined to oppose the ordinance. I feel bad that conservative Christian property owners could be forced to rent to open homosexuals. My Dad asks me why gays should be denied access to housing. I am ashamed.
That latter incident in 1982 is the one that falls in line with the furor in Indiana. Note first that my Dad and I seemingly changed political positions between 1971 and 1982. In 1982 I was trying to fit in, however uncomfortably, with the Republican Party that had not yet begun purging RINO’s. President Reagan kept talking up the Party’s “big tent.” Here my Father was sticking up for gays. In effect he let me know that my tolerance for refusing to rent to gays wasn’t any different from practices that let white folks deny housing to black Americans.
One of the fellows working on my attic was listening to conservative talk radio yesterday and one of the bloviators was going on about Native American’s using peyote in their religious ceremonies. That’s what gave birth to RFRA the Federal law analogous to Indiana’s law. The Supreme Court ruled that Indian religious practices, involving hallucinogens, were not protected under the law. Liberals of that Era jumped to the defense of Native America and RFRA was born. The bloviator used that history to defend Governor Pence and today’s Conservatives. Bloviators aren’t always wrong.
Last night I attended the big City sponsored meeting at Clyde Iron in Bullying. I was late but got there in a fierce snow squall before the showing of the movie Bully began. Here’s the trailer:
We evidently were not shown the movie this trailer shows but only a portion of it. The scenes of harassment on the bus got most of the 54 people in the audience worked up as well as the ineptitude of the school administrators in targeting the bad actors. This is on the radar for the nation’s mayors although it seems more under the purview of School Administrators. Supt. Gronseth was there to follow up the Mayor’s introduction. Half the audience was composed of mental health experts or ISD 709 administrators or School Board members. That left precious few civilians to participate.
The movie was followed by forming about six tables with enough people to hold a twenty minute discussion after which one spokesman from each table summarized the twenty minuted discussion. This routine is getting a little stale for me. In the sheet of paper we were given to offer comments on the movie or our meeting I said something to the effect that it would have been helpful to have some plan of action developed to follow the movie.
Then the audience left to go back out into the cold. I gave on stranded participant a ride home and we had a pleasant conversation about politics on college campuses during the Vietnam War.
Oh at our table we had a spirited discussion about expectations of our kids. Another old coot like me said kids needed boundaries and the enforcement of them. He said that where student behavior was concerned it was all black and white and that anybody who said there was any gray was a liberal. I owned up to being a liberal and mentioned that it was hard for me to come down with no mercy on a kid with everything at home going against him. Twenty minutes was not enough to pursue this question.
Its not great.
First there is this in the Trib today.
On the reading test, black students, who make up 8.5 percent of the district’s enrollment, were 27 percent proficient while white students, making up 80.5 percent of enrollment, were nearly 64 percent proficient.
Then there is the still lingering question of whether Duluth police, like so many of their brethern in other US cities, are more prone to pull over African American drivers than European appearing drivers. The Chief of Duluth’s police did not dispute this when he replied to my buddy after my buddy sent him this post from my blog. The chief simply said that there is more to the story. I my find about this “more” soon. My new black friend Tim apparently intends to invite the Chief and me to a sit down over a cup of coffee. I told Tim I’d welcome such a get together. Since we can’t seem to give our black kids a decent education maybe we can at least speed their progress though Duluth’s streets.
Ah, There is so much I’d like to blog about right now but its a sunny day and I don’t have much time left this year to clean out the dry rot under my eves which sprung up after last year’s ice dams.
Prepare yourself for a little TMI. Not up on your acronyms? TMI = “too much information.” And to start this post at 2AM here’s a little for you in preparation for the next post that can’t let me get back to sleep at 2AM this morning.
I vividly recall my visit to the Mankato State Health Center for a syphilis shot. The Doctor there was the mother of a friend of mine from high school. That would have been about 1971. I say syphilis but frankly I’m not sure what she treated me for. Maybe it was that other disease Gonorrhea. The later was no big deal then but it is today as an incurable strain seems to be busy infecting the careless.
I found out that I had been exposed to one or the other by my first lover, a much older woman. She was hugely embarrassed to tell me this but she did and I was nothing if not incredibly sympathetic with her and I took the information with aplomb assuring her that it was no big deal. I’ll still confessed to being chagrinned to realize that the Doctor about to give me a shot in my tush was the mother of a friend. There are a few things all of us really don’t want the mother’s of our friends to know about us.
Perhaps the reason I could be so chivilrous had to do with my attitude about secrecy and a movie I had seen back in junior high school. I say movie but I could be wrong. It might have been a television production but I rather think it was a 1950’s black and white movie. Just now I tried to google it but was unsuccessful. I found the startling (for 1940) movie Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet. I may have seen this but its not the movie I was looking for. Then there is 1997 made for TV movie I’d not heard of about the infamous study of black Mississippi men who were never told they had syphilis so that they could be studied until they died of the disease. There are also a couple movies about Gonorrhea.
Here’s what I recall about the movie I had watched back in about seventh grade, although I might have seen it in grade school. A doctor was trying to prevent the spread of the disease, S or G, but it wasn’t easy. To do this he had to get victims to tell him who they had had sex with. This was necessary to find them and treat them. Funny, but the folks in the movie didn’t want to cooperate even though the result of non cooperation was possibly fatal to unnamed sex partners. Not surprisingly I took the doctor’s point of view which is what the makers of the movie had in mind for their audience. Consequently I was inclined to take my lover’s revelation quite evenly.
What started me thinking about this was an NPR story on “information aversion” I heard a couple days ago. The story only referenced sex in passing:
VEDANTAM: That’s right. It’s the idea that information can sometimes be scary. And in those cases, people can sometimes avoid that kind of information. I did a story a couple of weeks ago that looked at college students who didn’t want to find out that they had sexually transmitted diseases for example.
The issue in the story was about the surprising finding that women who knew someone who got breast cancer were less likely to have mammograms than those who did not have such acquaintances. I think my biggest problem on the school board is Information Aversion. I have a majority of the school board who don’t want to know how we got from some truly great educational opportunities for our children to piss poor after spending half a billion (or six hundred million) on brand spanking new buildings. How great is this aversion? Cripes, they’d rather frame the most rigorous investigator on the Board of bullshit accusations in order to remove him than peek under the Chairman’s carpet.
We’ve got syphilis, folks, and we need to get a shot for it. We better be prepared to pull our trousers down to get it just like I had to forty-five years ago.
The Republican Party today is the John Wilkes Booth Party. It really frosts my eye glasses. My oft mentioned “Buddy” used to email me repeatedly to tell me that I was a Bigot towards Republicans. Thankfully, after four years of railing against me he stopped reading my blog and sending me dippy emails about my alleged bigotry. He keeps Fox News as his web portal. He hasn’t forgiven Democrats for the Age of Aquarius.
I consider it a remarkable irony that one of the biggest jerks in US History, Lyndon B Johnson liberated blacks while a Republican Quaker Richard Nixon inaugurated a new system that has put millions of black children in prison. It was a change in our jurisprudence calculated to please the southern racists who routinely imprisoned black men and hired them out for peanuts to life destroying industries.
I’ve refrained with great restraint from using foul language to write this post. What has brought this post into existence is tonight’s watching of the 9th episode of Netflix’s Orange is the new Black, followed by watching a PBS program on how routinely America throws black juveniles into jail. It compares our insane system to one found in New Zealand related to their minority Maori citizens.
I dare any Republican who thinks I’m an idiot to a debate. Just be prepare to be proved a fool even if I’ve just written a column about how foolish it is to call another person a fool. I’ll even debate in an audience of only Republicans. Be prepared. I am a firm believer in shame.
I highly recommend that any Republican with the guts to take up my challenge watch the PBS program. I wouldn’t recommend watching Orange is the New Black especially if you are a fan of Michelle Bachmann.