Enter, Fox News.
The media interest in the case only intensified after rate hearing was over. Fox News had broken ranks with the rest of the national networks and had begun to cast the story as an attack on Sunday school, rather than just a lawsuit on spanking. Once that story penetrated to the public at a significant level, every media outlet felt obliged to carry the story, all the while attempting to spin it in a pro-UN Convention direction.
Two issues. First, Fox News would have been all over this case from the get-go—and they would have reported it as an attack on Sunday school from the very beginning. None of this bit about how that aspect was under wraps until now. Second, since this story actually is an attack on Sunday school and since Fox News tends to overspin everything it gets its hands on, I’m pretty sure Fox News would be reporting the case as an attack on all Christians, under the threat of concentration camps.
Reporters are now ringing Cooper’s phone off the hook. Cooper gets a call from the Today Show.
“We are interested in doing a segment on your UN case for Thursday’s program. And we would like to talk with you about the guests we bring on the show for your side of the story.”
… “And who are the guests for the other side of the story going to be? I gather you are planning to invite someone, from the way you asked the question.”
“Sure, we have to be fair. We are asking a representative from Children’s Defense Fund, along with Rev. Matt Manilow from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and we are also working to find an expert on children’s rights—perhaps a child psychologist.”
Something tells me that Americans United for Separation of Church and State would not be on this side of this case. The state telling parents and Sunday school teachers what they are and are not allowed to teach children about their religion is about the furthest thing there is from separation of church and state. AU defends religious freedom.
For that matter, I’m unconvinced the Children’s Defense Fund would back this suit. If it were just spanking, maybe. But it’s not. Farris honestly believes that a plethora of mainstream progressive organizations would like to see the government dictate what can and cannot be taught in Sunday school. I don’t think that’s true.
Cooper tells the producer that both the Thomases and the Garvises have decided not to do any media appearances. Cooper suggests that if they want to explore the Sunday school issue, they should get a professor of Christian education from a seminary. “You know,” he says, “someone who can talk knowledgeably about Sunday school practices on a widespread and maybe even historical basis.” This is a logical solution. The producer disagrees.
“I don’t think we can do that. My directions are not to sue any experts, but to get people who are actually involved in the case.”
“But I thought you said you were getting experts from the other side,” Cooper protested.
“Oh, that’s different.”
“Why is that different?”
“Uh … well, the other side of the case has organizations and so on. There are no ordinary people personally involved in the case. Just groups and stuff. We have to go with them.”
Regardless of whether we buy this explanation—and it reads as a hasty post-hoc excuse—the obvious import is that the Today Show, a major media production, wants progressive experts but not conservative experts. For reasons. Ultimately, the producer asks if they can have Laura on.
The producer is extremely rude. First, she demands Laura’s number. When Cooper says he wants to talk to Laura first, the producer says she’ll call him back in 30 minutes to find out what she said. Cooper objects—it’s the middle of the work day, after all, and Laura is teaching. At that, the producer says she’ll look up Laura’s school and contact her there. Cooper says that if the producer does that, he’ll refuse to be on her show at all. Cooper says he’ll drive over to Laura’s school at lunch hour and ask her in person, and then call back.
Is their schedule really that tight? Sure, they’re wanting them for the Today Show the next morning—they’d need to be at the studio at 6:45 a.m., she says—but couldn’t wait until school gets out at 2:30 or 3:00? Besides which, Cooper showing up at Laura’s school at lunch sounds more disruptive than the producer being patched through to her at school. Also—school lunch hours vary from school to school, as do teacher responsibilities. Does Cooper know Laura’s schedule at school?
So. Cooper is on his way to Laura’s school.
Cooper pulled his newly purchased sports utility vehicle into the far corner of the elementary school parking lot. He got out and admired it for the third time that day and the umpteenth time since buying it three days earlier. Wasson’s check had indeed arrived, and after paying his bills and expenses, he had had enough left to buy the three-year-old GMC Jimmy.
Yup. Just as diagnosed, Farris cares a lot about cars.
He pulled his sun glasses up away from his eyes just to check. Yes, the indigo blue color seemed to radiate a deeper hue in the sunlight, just like the salesman had promised. He turned away from his new car and headed toward the school.
A lot about cars.
That’s a 2002 GMC Jimmy. And it’s blue.
As he walks to Laura’s classroom, Cooper muses about Laura and Terry Pipkin and the engagement ring Laura wears. “He didn’t want to think of them together in any way,” Cooper tells us. “Instead … Cooper had coaxed his own mind to look upon her ring as a tangible reminder of his loss in the classroom. … Summary judgement granted. Laura must wear a ring. You lose.” Did I mention that Cooper shouldn’t be representing a client he is so emotionally wrapped up in?
Case in point, as he approaches the classroom:
The sunlight cast a soft shadow across her face and she looked … Cooper stopped, searching for the right adjective to describe her beauty, forced his hand to reach up and tap quietly on the open door.
Like I said…
Laura and Cooper talk briefly about Laura’s engagement—“Cooper, we never did have a chance to talk about my engagement to Terry”—and Cooper assures Laura that he didn’t feel led on by her at all. Laura agrees to do the Today Show, and—“since we are all settled with each other”—Cooper offers to drive her to the show. “I don’t see how it is wrong for a lawyer to drive a witness to a television interview,” he says. If you actually feel the need to say that, it might be a sign that something is wrong.The last section of this chapter has to deal with the legal machinations—basically, Cooper is worried about rumors that a conservative member of the Supreme Court may retire and be replaced by someone willing to uphold the treaty, so decides to speed up the trial by filing a motion for expedited appeal.
This chapter was short enough that I’m going to include the beginning of the next chapter. Namely, the part where Cooper knocks on Laura’s door at 5:30 a.m. to pick her up. Laura is ridiculously tired.
She and Terry had planned to go to a movie last night, and she hadn’t had the courage to tell Terry that she needed to cancel the evening to get up early to ride with Cooper to do the Today Show.
Great relationship, this.
As Cooper likely hoped, Laura noticed his new car—complemented it profusely. Cooper responded with some patently false modesty.
“Yeah, after that old thing of my aunt’s, this seems like a whole new world. But it’s just a car.” The second sentence may have been true for some people, but in Cooper’s case, it was, at minimum, an understatement.
I suppose confirmation doesn’t hurt. Cooper—and by extension, I assume, Farris—has a serious thing for cars. (To be fair, Cooper has tempered his car thing—having this car may be a huge deal for him, but he also bought one that was already three years old, perhaps a nod to the fact that while he may be being paid for this case now, those funds aren’t unlimited.)
Laura knows where the money came from—and it’s a shocker.
“Well, that was really great what that guy did from the Washington Star to underwrite the case.
Cooper turned white. “Guy from the Washington Star?” he asked innocently.
“Yeah, you know the publisher’s brother or something. Deanna told me about the situation.”
“Deanna told you, huh? It was supposed to be confidential.”
“Yeah, she told me that, too, but I was asking her about the case one night … I guess I was pretty persistent.”
“Well, as long as it doesn’t go any further,” Cooper replied.
W0men, you know. They can’t keep their mouths shut.
Laura responds to Cooper’s caution like this:
“Oh, I promise not to tell anyone at all about it.” She reminded herself to be sure and tell Terry to also be quiet about the money. He had been at her side when Deanna had explained the whole situation. Laura thought it not necessary to mention that fact right then.
Great. No one is being honest with anyone.
Deanna, Deanna, Deanna—why? Laura is arguably a part of the case, but Terry? Really? And if Deanna told them both to keep their mouths shut—as Laura seems to suggest she did—why does Terry still need to be told?
This is going to go awesomely.
Talk moves on: the two discuss their childhoods, and their families, their college years, etc. They’re basically having a date in the car on the way to the interview, but they’re both pretending they really are just friends—even as they hide things from each other, and from their significant others (well, Laura’s significant other).
“Cooper? Can I ask you something a little personal?”
“I guess,” he replied hesitantly.
“You are thirty, right?”
“Never been married?”
“Why not? Have you ever been serious with anyone?”
Thirty? How is he thirty? I’d pegged him closer to thirty-five. Law school usually takes three years, and comes after undergrad, so he’d be at least twenty-five when he finished. He then worked for Peter for a number of years—we’ll be generous to Farris and say two. That would make him twenty-seven when he went to D.C. to work for a Senator for six years. He finished that job only a few months before the book began. That puts him at at least thirty-three, probably thirty-four. For Farris’ timeline to have worked, he’d have to have finished both undergrad AND law school at twenty-one or twenty-two.
Farris’ timeline does not work.
Cooper says he was engaged once and that his fiancé—whom he had been dating since high school—broke it off a month before the wedding because “something wasn’t right about everything.”
“How long had you been dating?”
“Since high school. All she would say is that she felt like we started off too young. And that was it.”
That comment ends the discussion. Does Laura feel like it’s pointed? I don’t think it was, but she’s grappling with having mixed feelings about marrying the guy she started dating in high school—it’s fairly natural that she might draw connections. Or perhaps she’s just musing Peter’s tragic love life. Maybe the drawing of connections will come later.
Farris, in case you haven’t noticed, has a thing about people starting to date too young. In Josh Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye, there’s a story about Farris and his daughter Christy. In sum, Farris made his daughter and a guy she had started de facto dating break things off until later, only allowing them to resume halfwahy through college.
Here’s what I find interesting: Many people think it is unwise to marry the first person you dated, or someone you’ve dated since high school, etc. But Farris is writing in a specific milieu. In 2005, when he published this book, courtship had taken the homeschool world by storm—bringing an admiration for youthful marriage with it.
Farris is sticking his oar in the water and saying hat dating in high school is unwise, yes, but also, implicitly, that it’s better for someone to break up with someone who isn’t a good fit than to marry them just because you’ve been dating them for a long time and that’s what you’re supposed to do.
While I don’t think Farris should have interfered in his teenage daughter’s love life, what he’s doing here means something different than it would elsewhere. In a culture grown enamored with youthful marriage and parent-guided courtship, this storyline is downright revolutionary—and very, very pointed.
Prepare for Terry to become a very, very big problem.
I’ll cover the Today Show interview next week.
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