A symphony of perversion

10 02 2008

Why aren’t stories like this picked up by the national news outlets and broadcast far and wide? It’s exhausting, to keep reading about these stories on my blogroll, then finding out they aren’t getting any real attention:

“A local home healthcare worker reported to Deputy David King on Jan. 11 that one of her special needs patients might have been sexually assaulted. King then notified Detective Rocky Potter, who investigates sex crimes for the county.

Potter met with the alleged victim, a 47-year-old woman, a couple of days later. The woman told Potter that a minister she had known for several years had visited her periodically to pray with her.

Early in January the minister called her, then came to her Dayton apartment and spent several hours with her praying. The woman said the minister told her she had a demon inside her, but that he could force the demon out of her by anointing her with oil and praying over her.

The woman said the minister told her to go in her bedroom, take off her clothes and lie down on the bed. She then said the minister came into her bedroom, spread oil on her and touched her sexually, Potter said.

After a few minutes, the minister told the woman to get dressed, and they spent more time in the living room praying together. The woman said the minister then told her there was one more thing she could to remove the demon and coerced her to perform a sex act on him, according to Potter.”

That’s right.Yet another sordid, enraging, depressing, wholly unsurprising incident where someone turns on the light, and the roaches we call the religious hypocrites scurry for the dank recesses. Molesting a special needs woman in the name of religion…are we surprised? Honestly? Do we have an ounce of shock left? How do these evil, vile people still hold a shred of moral authority in our culture? How do THEY still get to be the ones to point their fingers and scold and scream and claim oppression?

I think the answer is simple – simpler than we’d like it to be. It’s simple, because human beings are really pretty simple. Some of us evolve, and lose our  taste for pointing and screaming and controlling. Some us – most of us – don’t. We hear about a fine, upstanding pastor molesting a woman incapable of giving her consent, and we think ‘Yeah, heh heh. What else are those fucking simpletons good for?’. Because we are still animals. We’re still apes. We still eat our weak, then thump our bloody chests and crow over it.

How can the ‘religious right’ still inflict so much blunt force trauma on our society? Because we let it. Because we refuse to evolve past the stage of playground bully, sniggering while we dump the brainy kid in the trash or humiliate the girl who dared to get breasts and hips with catcalls and nasty names.  We’re still stuck in grade school, our whole fucking culture. We refuse to grow up.

Here’s a piece of grown up reasoning for you: if members of the christianist right repeatedly show themselves as morally bankrupt, rotten to the core, hypocritical evil doers, maybe it’s more than just ‘one bad apple’. Maybe the whole bushel is rotted. Maybe the whole fucking orchard.


Nearly loved to death

11 08 2007

On June 12, 2007, two supposedly responsible adults tied a 15 year old girl behind a van and dragged her down the road on her stomach. Miraculously, she didn’t die. What did she do to deserve this treatment? She wasn’t running along with the rest of her boot camp class.

Yeah, that’s right ‘boot camp’. The girl was enrolled in Love Demonstrated Ministries Christian Boot Camp.  When she fell behind her group during the run, Stephanie Bassitt was instructed by Charles Eugene Flowers to run beside her. When she still wouldn’t keep up, Bassitt held her down, Flowers tied her wrists, and then she was dragged on her stomach behind the van no fewer than three times.

The chilling thing about this is how long it’s been in coming. A  1998 article describes a typical day at Love Demonstrated Ministries’ camp:

“They didn’t know that by 5 a.m., their young hearts would be racing from pre-dawn calisthenics; that their biceps would bulk up from hitting the ground and doing 50 every time they messed up; that being a leader would mean taking the heat for those out of line; and that aching muscles and tired bones would yearn for lights out at 11 p.m.”

The girl interviewed in the 1998 article seems to have been thoroughly brainwashed.  She ‘gave attitude’ and didn’t like to study. Now she’s a compliant little sheep. I’m sure everyone thinks she’s a banner success. And not all of the kids at Love Demonstrated Ministries camp are there at their parents or their own behest. Some are ordered there by juvenile courts. A clear violation of the separation of church and state? If only.

The 1998 article is heartbreaking in so many ways. It tells of a 13 year old girl who completed the camp and came home to her old room, where she’d written and decorated her walls with marker and lipstick and crayon, and asked to paint over it all in purple and pink. This same girl, Racheal, was at home with just her dad and two younger siblings. No one ever thought maybe at 13 she was chafing at having to cook and clean and raise two younger kids. No one thought maybe she needed help and hope, not to be beaten down by a boot camp. No, she came back compliant, ready to paint her life according to the colors her father deemed suitable – purple and pink, just like a good little girl.

That’s just one of the stories in the 1998 article. Read the whole thing. Every one of their ‘success stories’ made me so utterly, ineffably sad. Sure, I know there are kids out there who need tough love. But a 14 year old girl bounced around the foster system for years? No, she just needs LOVE. The real deal. Not this bullying for Jesus bullshit.

There’s a charming whiff of pedo to all this too, as you might expect from a christer organization like this. The article goes on rather graphically about young girls with their tee shirts soaked through with sweat, an ex-Air Force middle aged man standing over them screaming at them for more, more, more. It turns my stomach, thinking of so many young, vulnerable, troubled girls in the hands of these people.

It was just a matter of time before there was an incident like this. What would have happened had that van dragged the girl over a sharp rock? What if it had bounced her head hard enough off the pavement? She’d be dead right now, her brains and guts all over a San Antonio suburb street. But by god, it’d be her own fault for not just shutting the fuck up and running, right?

On the pernicious tyranny of innocence

18 04 2007

Of all the many, many ways the Victorian Era played merry hell with our culture, the one that has done the most harm is this manufactured notion of innocence, this cult of the child that creates an idealized, romanticized and utterly neutered ideal. That ideal has become even more pronounced in American culture today, with the resounding battle cry forever resonating, ‘Won’t someone think of the children?!’. In response to that cringeworthy question, I have both an answer, and an observation.

Answer: Too many people think about my children. They’re none of your business, Mrs. Lovejoy. There are too many adults shrieking like moral scolds about every infraction against ‘common decency’ in their endless quest to turn the entire world into a G-rated playground with every ride expressly approved by Focus on the Family for consumption by anyone, no matter her age.

What I find baffling is the willful blindness. Do these arbiters of all things suitable for children actually know any kids? Do they not remember what they were thinking about at six, ten, fourteen? Where do they propose drawing the line on violence, sex…truth? Is it okay to watch documentaries on the Holocaust, but not a TV show where two men kiss? The solution is all too obvious to them: ban it all. Ignorance is bliss. If they just believe it hard enough, the power of their blind faith will rewrite reality so that everything, everyone, everywhere is safe and shiny and milquetoast because why shouldn’t a little kid be free to watch HBO at 11 pm on a school night without fear of seeing a breast? Surely we want our children to be ‘safe’, and to preserve their ‘innocence’.

Surely we want our swaddled children to never hit any kind of wall of reality where their deliberately obfuscated, carefully constructed innocence dissolves in a hail of man’s inhumanity to man?

But there’s the problem, isn’t it? There’s no arguing that the world is ugly. No matter how much you want it to be otherwise, it can be a total horrorshow. That kind of horror is what the scold set would like to shield our children from, but that’s only part of the truth. True beauty is every bit as ferocious as true cruelty. As edgy and real and magnificent.

So what’s a mom to do? Communicate. Judge each show, movie, news program, book on its own merits, and realize the MPAA has an agenda that just might not match up with yours. Don’t freak out when your child asks a controversial question, or sees something in a movie or show that you’re not expecting. Talk about it. I’ve gotten more ‘teachable moments’ out of surprise exposure to ideas or images I wasn’t quite ready to share with the kids than just about anything else.

I also suggest reading Harmful to Minors by Judith Levine. It might shock you, outrage you, and then change the way you look at kids and sexuality forever.

Oh yeah – I mentioned an observation, didn’t I? Here it is:

Stop using my children to promote your agenda.

Every time you pass some asinine piece of legislation that narrows our culture, every time you force businesses to enact ridiculous policies, every time you speak out against ‘the homosexual agenda’ forcing itself on kids, every time you say we have to preserve ‘traditional’ family values, you are hurting my children.

Get that? Let me reiterate. You are hurting my children. You are bubble-wrapping their world, and you are depriving them of the moral context that gives them the power to make the nuanced decisions and choices that lead to real humanity. You are trying to turn my brilliant, funny, ferocious children into automatons.

Ultimately, when it comes to my own kids, you’ll be unsuccessful, but what about all the others? What will this world, this culture look like in twenty years? I like to think we’re starting to see the FoF mindset coming apart at the seams (because unnatural constructs are fragile at best) but it’s hard to be hopeful.