The Truth About Consequences

Orcinus, April 23, 2009

Run your bank into the ground? Hey, it was our fault for not keeping a better eye on you. Here’s some cash. Since you’re rich guys, we trust you to do the right thing going forward, so we’re not going to bother you with a bunch of rules and oversight—but you promise to be good now, ‘K?

Also, you Bush guys and CIA operatives who thought torture was a fine idea? Yeah, we know we’ve signed a bunch of treaties that unequivocally require us to bring you up on charges; but we’re looking forward now, not back, so, y’no, whatever. It was pretty ballsy of a few of you to actually admit to committing war crimes in public. We know from “audacity” (it’s our middle name, in fact), and that was audacity with the gain turned up to 11. I mean, really: We’re impressed. Shocked and awed, even. But we’re not gonna hassle you about ancient history, because it’s so much more important that we keep our eyes firmly on the future. Just promise you won’t do it ever ever again, all right?

It’s interesting to watch the Democrats trying to work some life back into their long-neglected oversight muscle. Thirty years of conservative misrule have muddled Americans’ understanding of words like responsibility, accountability, discipline,and punishment to the point where nobody knows that they mean any more—and don’t seem to want to know, either. The social conservatives go on and on about the evils of postmodern morality and situational ethics; and on this score, I can’t quite summon myself to disagree. It’s been as though nobody on Planet Washington ever had a parent who was able to explain right from wrong, or demonstrate the role cause-and-effect plays in the ethical universe. It’s like a moral-gravity-free zone.

Stuff happens. Whatever.

I am neither an ethicist nor a philosopher. But I am a mother, and know a thing or two about disciplining children. (I’ve got a freshly grounded teenager pouting upstairs right now who would be delighted to tell you all about it. At length. With loud choruses of what a Mean Mommy I am. What he doesn’t know is: I take that tune as a clear sign I’ve done my job right.) And, as an observer of the differences between conservatives and liberals, I know that our attitudes toward discipline—whether it’s children or adults who are being called to account—is one of our core areas of disagreement.

Understanding that difference may explain something about how we got here.

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Closer to Home


Orcinus, March 14, 2009

Last summer’s church shooting in Knoxville, TN hit close to home for me. As a Unitarian Universalist — and a liberal — the idea that the right wing’s eliminationist rage toward the left would end up in the death of two members of my own tribe wasn’t unexpected; but it was a gutpunch, and a moment of awakening.

But, for other reasons entirely, last Sunday’s shooting in a Baptist chuch in Maryville, IL hits even closer to home.

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“Know This If Nothing Else: This Was A Hate Crime”

Orcinus, February 10, 2009

Photo by J. Miles Cary of the Knoxville News

Progressives around the country can breathe a little easier today: James Adkisson has been sentenced to life behind bars for the deaths of Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger, the Unitarian Universalist martyrs who died during his assault on their church in Knoxville, TN last July.

Many of us intuited at the time that Adkisson’s rampage was exactly the kind of rancid fruit that would inevitably take root in an American countryside thickly composted with two decades of hate radio bullshit, freshly turned and watered with growing middle-class frustration over the failing economy. That suspicion that was verified in the days that followed, when police searched Adkisson’s apartment and found it filled with books and newsletters penned by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and other right-wing hate talkers.

But yesterday, Adkisson told us himself — in his own words — just how central right-wing eliminationism was in driving him to his shooting spree. Shortly after he was sentenced yesterday, he released a four-page handwritten “manifesto” — which he’d intended to be his suicide note — to the Knoxville News (the full .pdf can be downloaded here). In it, he unleashes the full measure of his hatred for liberals — and encourages other would-be right-wing warriors to take up arms and follow him into battle.

Some choice excerpts:

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More Maroons in Federal Way

Orcinus, January 16, 2009
Back in 2007, the school administrators in the working-class Seattle suburb of Federal Way found themselves on the wrong end of Jon Stewart’s wit when they refused to allow An Inconvenient Truth to be shown in their classrooms because the movie was “controversial.”

The same maroons are back at it again today. According to a Daily Kos post by Andrew Villeneuve (which in turn pulls from Seattle’s KING5 news), the Federal Way school administrators in their manifold wisdom have decided that kids need permission slips from their parents to watch the Obama inauguration at school.

Evidently, they also consider our new president “controversial.” (One wonders if they’d have made the same call if John McCain had won; or if in that case, attendance would have been mandatory.) Somebody in the front office is all too well aware that reality has a liberal bias, and is doing their level best to make sure that it doesn’t intrude on their attempted indoctrination of Federal Way’s youngest citizens.

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Breaking News: BC’s FLDS Patriarch Arrested for Polygamy

Orcinus, January 9, 2009

Photo of Winston Blackmore by Ian Smith of the Vancouver Sun

The Canadian press has erupted in the last hour or so with the news that former Bountiful, BC polygamist Mormon patriarch Winston Blackmore and his second-in-command Fred Oler have been arrested and charged with polygamy.

Blackmore ran the Bountiful compound until being displaced in a power struggle with Warren Jeffs two years ago; these days, he’s set up nearby with a new place of his own. He’s thought to have 26 wives — including, as he publicly announced at a 2006 polygamy conference, several “very young ones” and at least one who was under the age of 16 at the time he made that claim. And then he repeated that statement on Larry King. This is a man who knows he’s a child rapist, and is rather pleased with himself for his ability to get away with it.

Today, that ended. What’s most interesting about this, though, is that the two men were directly charged with polygamy — a step no jurisdiction dealing with the FLDS has yet dared to take. Through the decades, prosecutors have focused on the fallout crimes that result from these communities: child abuse and abandonment, forced marriage, rape, consipiracy to transport minors for immoral purposes across state lines, that kind of thing. But, so far as I know, no prosecutor has yet dared to stand up and charge any of these men directly for committing polygamy. Which makes today’s arrest a historical landmark of sorts.

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