Gay-bashing hoax, the BBC spots a flock of Christians and more!

Another Hate Crime Hoax:

Stories like this really fry my beans. I have gay folk in my family, and it really peeves me to no end to read about someone who has defaced her own car and carried on about being bashed for her sexuality, and for two reasons: The first is because if someone I love has a real incident of victimization, there will always be that “is this a hoax” doubt, and secondly, because this gal used up public resources and police budget hours merely because – as she admits, she “wanted attention.”

Her school is disciplining her, but so far she has not been charged with filing a false report. She should be. I think anything someone makes a hoax claim, they should have to pay for it and be accountable beyond someone patting them on the head and saying, “aw, honey, you were just feeling bad/lonely/ignored/ugly” whatever.

I have a question that the story does not make clear. Actually, two questions: We read that this student, a female wrestler, had recently been awarded the “Athlete of the Year” prize at her school – a prize which has now – with her admission, been rescinded. Did she concoct her hoax in order to become a sympathetic victim, so that she might be given the “A of the Y” award? If so, that’s pretty damn shameful, too. Second question: Paula Pilecki, executive director of San Anselmo’s Spectrum, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, said she was surprised that police released a statement about the girl’s admission.

What does that mean? Does that mean that ordinarily this story would be shoved under the rug? I’d like to know. Michelle Malkin is covering this, too, and points out what I had not: The school’s principal, Chris Holleran, said students will have the opportunity to receive counseling about the matter. Sez Michelle: “The victimhood cult marches on…”

I do have a theory about these hoaxers, these runaway brides and people who declare themselves victims because they are in need of attention. I think boomer parents have created monstrosities with our over-praising of our children to build up their self esteem, and with our video cameras. Perhaps we have raised a generation that simply cannot get enough attention or stand not to have a red light blinking their way.

On to employment numbers: Jimmie at Sundries Shack, is happy with these numbers, and I am too. 5.2% unemployment? Wow! When Clinton was president we were routinely told that 5.6% unemployment was “essentially full employment!” The press seems somehow less enthralled with even essentially fuller employment, though. They always are when its not their guy.

Speaking about the press, the NY Times is wondering about blogger ethics (the writer claims – with nothing to back it up – that bloggers don’t check facts) and more interestingly, this morning they are talking about taking steps to improve its credibility.

A blurb: In order to build readers’ confidence, an internal committee at The New York Times has recommended taking a variety of steps, including having senior editors write more regularly about the workings of the paper, tracking errors in a systematic way and responding more assertively to the paper’s critics.

The committee also recommended that the paper “increase our coverage of religion in America” and “cover the country in a fuller way,” with more reporting from rural areas and of a broader array of cultural and lifestyle issues. The 16-page report is to be made available today on the Times company’s Web site,

The committee, which was charged last fall by Bill Keller, the executive editor, with examining how the paper could increase readers’ trust, said there was “an immense amount that we can do to improve our journalism.”

As examples, the report cited limiting anonymous sources, reducing factual errors and making a clearer distinction between news and opinion. It also said The Times should make the paper’s operations and decisions more transparent to readers through methods like making transcripts of interviews available on its Web site.

There is more, and it’s sort of heartening to read. I would love to see the press rely less upon “anonymous sources” and I would be even happier to never again read (or hear) the words, “there are some who think/suggest/wonder…” which can always be translated to mean: WE IN THE PRESS WANT TO SPIN IT THIS WAY…

I believe I read over a year ago that the Times was wondering if it should take these steps. It should. I was particularly interested to read that they may cover religion more. I wonder how that will be. I can only hope that they do not take on a tone of wonder and end up sounding like the Australian crock hunter…”look! A pack of Christians!” Which is almost the tone this writer from the BBC takes, here.

I came to Mississippi assuming, in a European secular sort of way, that holy scripture, which once led Mississippi whites down the road of bigotry, was unlikely to be the state’s saviour today.

On the radio the so-called family Christian station was explaining why God invented women and the Devil invented feminism.

So far, so predictable. But a visit to Mississippi in 2005 provides a reminder that while religion has motivated all manner of charlatans and creeps in American life and still does, it is also the primary motivation for many of those who genuinely do good and are not collecting money or condemning other people’s vice.

Hmm. Imagine that. In the next graph, the write remarks that America barely has any social services at all and -gasp – no socialized medicine (which is working out so very well in England and Canada these days…), but that these Christians – gasp, gasp – actually seem to do good things, even without the government’s help!

The writer does, after a fashion, find his own pre-conceptions and Hollywood-fed prejudices challenged. This ends up being, actually, a pretty decent piece.

The American penal system is brutal, the sentences are long and the conditions harsh.

I had been invited to this place by Dr John Perkins, a renowned black prison visitor, a man who brings bibles and talks to the kids about the lives they might one day lead.

I assumed we would be treated with icy courtesy by the whites who run the place.

But I got it all wrong.

We had been inside for two minutes when a request, an order, came that we were to lunch with the sheriff, the man in charge. He was a redneck straight out of central casting, huge and menacing.

Then suddenly, as giggly as a schoolgirl, he hugged Dr Perkins and thanked Jesus Christ for the food.

Over lunch he told their story of a meeting at a prayer breakfast which led to an invitation for Dr Perkins to visit the jail.

A couple of highly motivated evangelical Christians have built a personal relationship unthinkable in even the recent past and are now significantly improving the lives of mainly black 16- and 17-year-old murderers and rapists – people the rest of the nation is happy to lock up and forget.

This was surprise enough, but there was more to come.

We were introduced to Cynthia Cockerne, an elderly, frail white woman who has been running the rudimentary prison education effort. She was a person of quite extraordinary cheery religious fervour, in almost every sentence she referred to the Lord.

She and Dr Perkins did their stuff with the kids. When we said our goodbyes, Dr Perkins walked out with me and announced casually: “That woman is a saint, and to think that her great uncle killed my brother.”

It was a racist killing, unpunished as they all were in those days in these parts, which this elderly couple had only realised linked them when they chatted recently about places where they had lived and events they had witnessed.

They are reconciled now and working hard to make life better in modern Mississippi.

I think the so called Christian right has overplayed its political hand in George Bush’s America, but the power of evangelism at the grassroots is still huge.

The televangelists and the religious fire and brimstone politicians come and go but Dr Perkins, Mrs Cockerne and the sheriff are a mighty engine and they will still be hard at work long after Mr Bush has gone.

Okay, the ending was stupid. This could have been a much better article had the writer managed (as almost no journo can, these days) to leave his Bush-hatred at home for a day. Still…what a wonder: Christians are not all monsters! If only we could get rid of Bush, they might actually be functional, someday!

Now, I’ve gotta hit the hay. A pal of mine compared me to a wine not traveling well. He was talking about my catching pneumonia while on cruise.

But I think he’s on to something. Today we took a ride to my elder son’s college, and the rather short treck wiped me out. Like a cheap wine, I do not travel well.

It may be that I’m still recovering…but more and more I wonder if I should just stay home. All the time!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • John Ballard

    Good find.
    It illustrates how wide a gulf the Atlantic pond really is. Too bad he never read Clyde Edgerton’s Walking Across Egypt. Sweet old ladies are as much a part of the South as fried chicken and barbecue.
    As a native (‘scuse the expression), I found the tone somewhat condescending.
    It is a verdant, sweaty place… mostly rural and poor, shacks and mobile homes nestling under the canopy of the forest, rusting pick-up trucks…dirt roads.
    Forest canopy? Dirt roads? Rusting…Damn, where did the plane land? Some clearing in the jungle?

    His point is well-made, though, about grassroots Christianity. But we have known that all along, haven’t we? The discovery is his, which says more about his prejudice than ours.
    I don’t think, however, that his rather tepid references to the president rise to the level of “hatred.” My own charity does extend that far. After all, he is chipping away at a stereotype – even if his tools are a bit dull.

  • Momma K

    Memo to the NY Times:

    Lose the focus groups, write the truth.

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  • MyssiAnn

    “It may be that I’m still recovering…but more and more I wonder if I should just stay home. All the time!”

    An anchoress, by definition, doesn’t travel well; however, being a mom in real life necessitates doing occasionally for the sake of your family. Feel better soon.
    Oh, and btw, there are prison/jail ministries all over the South. My church, for instance, has a donation box for books, stamps, & cards for prisoners and my pastor takes his turn going to 3 local, by which I mean within 50 miles of my town, prisons to lead Bible Study. We don’t approve of what these people have done, but if we love them, how will they ever change?

  • Frances

    Anchoress, as to not travelling well, neither does my Irish mother. Never has. She just takes a short 45 minute car ride somewhere and is zonked. We could never figure it out. I have heard/read 2 things. One is getting an ionic device for the travel. It keeps one very peppy. The other is more related to motionsickness. You ought to get Matteo over at CartagoDelenda to explain it mathematically. I swear that guy is a mathematical genius. Some folks just plain don’t do well at high speeds.

    Do I understand you may have some Irish blood in ye? If so, we’ll get you a donkey and cart. :)

    You need to rest more! Stop doing so much. Your body just went through the equivalent of the perfect storm. Get some homework passes, woman! You’re off duty this week. Tell Buster I said so.