Whose History?

When Dearly Beloved and I went to Oxford, Mississippi to attend an Ole Miss football game in the fall, my cousin took us to see the statue of James Meredith, the first black student to be admitted to the University of Mississippi.  The year was 1962 and the Supreme Court had ruled that he had a right to be admitted.  He was 29 years old, an Air Force Veteran and had every qualification for admittance except for the color of his skin.



Three times he arrived to register for his classes and found the entrance blocked by state troopers, there under order of Gov. Ross Barnett, who had appeared on television to declare that Mississippi “will not surrender to the evil and illegal forces of tyranny … [and] no school will be integrated in Mississippi while I am your governor.

Politicians showed up, too, to gin up votes and emotions among the gathering protestors.  After the angry crowd grew to a mob of 2,000, additional US Marshals were brought in, bringing the number to 500.  Washington sent in 3,000 US Army, National Guard, and Border Patrol personnel as backup to help control the situation.  They had permission to  use tear gas to disperse the crowd, but were ordered not to fire and they didn’t.

The rioters did fire.  Two people were killed, 160 of the Marshals were injured, as well as a number of the military support groups.   One of the dead was a British journalist found, shot in the back, behind the Lyceum Building.


The stately old Lyceum building, the first one built on campus, was completed in 1848.  Union Troops took it over during the Civil War and used it as a hospital.  Bullet holes in the columns and over the door reveal evidence of racial strifes a century apart.   A life-sized statue of James Meredith was erected near that building in 2006, a permanent symbol of the  turning point for the University, the push toward equal opportunity for everyone.

After graduating from the University of Mississippi, James Meredith continued his studies and earned a Master’s Degree from Nigeria, a law degree from Columbia University.  He wishes the university would remove the statue.  The school refuses.  Meredith does, however, wear an Ole Miss cap on occasion and has attended football games.  He became an active Republican.

The University of Mississippi has worked long and hard to move beyond those ugly images and has advanced the cause of equal rights and race relations, not just at the school, but in the entire state and beyond.  President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain held a nationally televised debate there on a historic evening  in 2008.  Member of a dwindling Ku Klux Klan showed up to hang around– without their white hoods and robes–handing out brochures and membership applications.

When the statue of James Meredith was discovered this month–Black History Month– with a noose around its neck and an old Georgia flag with its battle emblem of the confederacy, reaction was swift.  After it was determined that two 19-year-old members (not pledges) of a fraternity were involved, their fraternity brothers immediately reported them to the University and expelled them from their chapter.  Even so, the University has suspended the entire fraternity pending further investigation.  A third member of the fraternity is also prominent in the investigation.

The school has turned over evidence to state and federal officials.  “These individuals chose our university’s most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values. Their ideas have no place here, and our response will be an even greater commitment to promoting the values that are engraved on the statue — Courage, Knowledge, Opportunity and Perseverance,” Chancellor Dan Jones said in a statement.

An alumni association offered a $25,000 reward for information. The FBI is looking into the crime.   All three men have retained lawyers and refuse to speak to University officials or law enforcement unless they are formally charged.

A short time after Meredith’s entrance into Ole Miss,  Harvey Gantt became the first black student to enroll at Clemson University in South Carolina.  My Dearly Beloved attended Clemson during that period.

Harvey Gantt graduated with honors, obtaining his degree in Architecture there, then on to MIT for a degree in city planning.  He returned to Charlotte and served on the City Council and later, two terms as mayor.  A Democrat, he ran twice against Jesse Helms for US Senate and lost each time, gaining 47%, then 46% of the vote.

Ironically, James Meredith served on the staff of Jesse Helms.

The men took different paths, but went on to distinguish themselves in the cause of equal rights.  Mr. Meredith declares he works not toward the cause of civil rights, but equal rights of citizenship.

There are discussions now as to whether or not the “frat boys” (as they are referred to in news articles) committed a hate crime.  What do you think?  It was certainly a hateful one.

February is Black History Month.  Sadly, it’s White History Month, too.


I Went to a Tea Party

This week, I was invited to a tea party.

We hadn’t planned to go near the center city during the convention and during this foray we learned quickly that the jokes Jon Stewart and The Daily Show folks made about the tight security in uptown Charlotte during the Democratic convention weren’t far off the mark.  Police officers in droves, many on bicycles.

These guys–a swat team from the Clayton County GA Sheriff’s Department– had to be a crowd favorite.  They were a hoot!

Nevertheless,  Dearly Beloved was able to drop us off right at the hotel entrance.  I had been invited by a South Carolina delegate and since this wasn’t her first convention, I knew exactly what to do: I simply followed her around.

There were some extraordinary women in that room.

Sandra Fluke and my arms.  The rest of me is cropped from the photo because I looked as if I’d accidentally impaled myself on a frozen corn cob.

That is Sandra Fluke, who was thrown into the spotlight after being denied the opportunity to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  Democrats on the committee had been told they could have only one witness and they chose Ms. Fluke, a Georgetown Law School graduate,  to speak about the importance of requiring insurance companies to cover birth control.  (You know, the same companies that cover Viagra.)  The others testifying in that first round of witnesses were a Catholic bishop, a protestant pastor, a rabbi, and a couple of professors… all men.

Sandra Fluke, however, was the one who was rejected by Republicans on the committee as being “unqualified” to speak.

Needless to say, a lot of people didn’t see it that way and after Rush Limbaugh attacked her in a lengthy diatribe on his radio show, calling her a slut and a prostitute, the pushback from the public was so great that Rush lost some of his major sponsors.

I was delighted to be able to talk briefly with her.  When I watched her speech at the convention on TV a few hours later,  I was amazed that this eloquent speaker was the same soft-spoken, almost shy young woman I’d met earlier.

Disheartening,  after Fluke’s speech, Ann Coulter tweeted a comment about her so vile and disgusting that I won’t repeat it here.

If you’re wondering about the accessory on my left arm, it’s the magic bracelet by which I gained entry. 

Who else did I meet?

Hmmm.  You may have a little trouble recognizing anyone in this shot.  It’s me, with Nancy Pelosi, just as some dude turned on his mega flash while my friend was taking the photo with her iPhone.

Maybe you’ll recognize her here.

Yes, that’s Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the House of Representatives.

The most unforgettable woman I was privileged to meet there was  Tammy Duckworth, who is running in Illinois for a seat in the House of Representatives.

She was in a wheelchair that afternoon, having lost both legs and severely injuring her right arm in a helicopter accident in Iraq.  (Ironically, before she was deployed to Iraq in 2004, she had been working on a Rotary International project to provide wheelchairs for the disabled in developing countries.)  Every step she takes–literally and figuratively–is an example of her extraordinary courage.  She walked on her artificial limbs, using a cane, to deliver her speech that evening.

Her opponent is Representative Joe Walsh, who just a few days ago made this statement about her:

“Ms. Duckworth has continued to show more interest in rubbing elbows with big name party insiders, then [SIC] staying home and tackling the tough issues facing voters in the district,” he said in a statement on his website. “It has become abundantly clear that at this point the only debate Ms. Duckworth is actually interested in having is which outfit she’ll be wearing for her big speech.”

I watched her “big speech.”   I don’t remember what she wore, but I won’t forget her passion, or the dignity with which she walked onto the stage.

Lest you think that Rep. Walsh’s remarks were taken out of context, here is another example, this one when he accused her of not being a “true hero” because, he said, she made her military service central to her campaign.  What she has actually done is make military veterans, especially the disabled, a centerpiece of her campaign message.

“I have so much respect for what she did in the fact that she sacrificed her body for this country,” said Walsh, simultaneously lowering his voice as he leaned forward before pausing for dramatic effect. “Ehhh. Now let’s move on.”
“What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh,” he continued. 

Tammy is up against a wall of money, since big money PACs such as New Prosperity (Sam Fox, the swift boater) and the Koch Brothers like the Joe Walsh style and are pumping large influxes of cash into the campaign against Mrs. Duckworth.

It seems that we aren’t past attacks on “uppity women” after all.  Can a Congress which is about 85% male represent women properly?  In an atmosphere where men rule–state and national legislatures, the media, corporations, churches, etc., is it coincidence that good looks and cleavage are required to work on TV news alongside paunchy, senior men?   What kind of example is that for our daughters and granddaughters?  For that matter, what does it tell our sons and grandsons?  In 2012, are women who want entry into power circles on the basis of their intelligence and abilities still considered “ball busters” and “fema-nazis”?

Nancy Pelosi celebrated 25 years in Congress this year.  At the event I attended, she stressed the need for less money influencing Congress and more women in power.  If we want our daughters and our granddaughters to be able to dream of making changes for the better, shouldn’t we be supporting the women who are already trying to do that?

Here, here.  Now… now.


The weather report says it’s 105 here right now with a heat index of 118.   If I could teach the dogs to use the toilet, I wouldn’t go outside at all this weekend.  No need to whine about it though; it’s probably hot where you are, too.  And if it isn’t, nobody wants to hear about it.

It isn’t just the heat that’s making me steam.

In fact, I need to say a word about that.


Furthermore, UTERUS!

You’ve probably heard about Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown who shocked… shocked, I tell you!… some of her fellow legislators by saying the word vagina during a floor discussion about anti-choice legislation.

Commercials about erectile dysfunction, lubricants, penile implants morning, noon, and night … and uterus and vagina become the impolitic words?  How can I ask this delicately…  why is it only the presumed …um… destination that is unspeakable?

Oh, the irony!  Those of us who grew up with poopies and peepees thought it was a good thing to tell our children the correct name for their own body parts.

How can it be that there are some state legislators– grown-ups— who are offended by the words?  I’d lay odds they couldn’t find a uterus on a female anatomy chart.   And while the word vagina may shock them, I’ll bet that most of the men could come up with at least ten slang terms left over from their adolescent years.   Arrested development.  Pity the spouses.

Are women supposed to be embarrassed?  They’re trying to shame us?

That horse left the barn so long ago that even the glue factory shut down in the 70’s.

How can there possibly be any serious discourse with such ninnies?

So, I’m trying to spread the word.  Words.

Sing along with me.     Vagina… vagina… I’m teaching the word to my mynah.

Try this one:  

Nothing could be finer than to un-legislate our vaginas in the mor-or-or-ning.

Nothing could be more ridiculous than censoring the word uterus in the morning

Where the wing nuts gathered… on the legislative floor…

Demeaning women… we’ve heard it all before.

Honestly, the situation makes me hot to do a bit of name calling myself.  A pox on this bunch of posterior fedoras.  Note the anatomical correctness.

Otherwise, I’d call them asshats.


It’s been a week now and I’m still bummed about the passage of Amendment One here in North Carolina.

It seems counterintuitive to prohibit two loving adults–regardless of sex–from marrying.   Sheesh!   Put that energy toward preventing little girls from being promised to old men… toward getting rid of child pornography.   We’re among the worst in the nation in the number of children who suffer “food insecurity.”  That means they can’t assume they’re going to have food that day.  Or the next.  Thousands are homeless in our state.

I must tell you, I have never understood the threat of gay marriage and I can speak with some authority.  At one time, Dearly Beloved and I lived in a hip, contemporary urban neighborhood where, for a while at least, we were the only married heterosexual couple on the street.

The day after we moved in, we were welcomed with still-warm chocolate chip cookies from the two men who lived diagonally across from us.  We liked them immediately.  They watered my plants when we were away, Introduced us to their extended families, and invited us to their parties.  They are still a couple two decades later.

The two men next door to us moved in about the same time we did and their relationship is still intact today.   One confided to me that his mother told him she would never set foot in his house.  It was her loss, for they were intelligent, funny, kind, successful guys.

Here is the wording of the NC amendment:

[] For [] Against
Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized by this State.

This wording affects common law relationships between a man and a woman as well.  Already a local commissioner is at work to take away benefits for the families of any city/county workers, gay or straight,  who don’t conform to this definition.

Far wiser people than I have written about homosexuality.  I’ll stay out of that and so should Franklin Graham.  I can, however, report that during the time we lived in the gayborhood,  DB and I never once considered switching teams.

Perhaps our experience may reassure the professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Seminary about two concerns he voiced during the pre-election debate.  Although I dearly loved my Akita, the late Howard Lee, it never crossed my mind to marry him.   Nor was Dearly Beloved inclined to wed the bowl of ice cream he ate every night.

I hope that puts the professor’s mind to rest.

Although I can’t remember the name of the book, a line comes to mind where one of the characters asked the other, “How can you possibly think that??”   Her friend answered, “I don’t have to think.  I’m Catholic.”  

Of course I have thinking Catholic friends.  The point is that too many of “the faithful,” whatever the denomination, let someone else tell them what to believe and I’m not talking Jesus.  

Despite all the fist-pumping preachers and the ecstatic red-suited middle-aged platinum blondes celebrating on the television news,  I can’t picture a jubilant Jesus high-fiving the passage of this legislation.

It feels pretty low here in the land of the moral high ground.

Dolly Parton Wouldn’t Sing About These

Last week we took granddog Ivy back to Georgia to be with her family after our dog-sitting stint.  Since she was Dearly Beloved’s walking partner on his long daily jaunts,  it is an understatement to say that he misses her.  The lonely Maytag repairman is a party animal by comparison.

My grandsons fancy me a “sew-er” and line up any mending when they know I’m coming.  This time, a large stuffed animal, its leg dangling, needed surgery.  Its owner, Little Elmo, was delighted at the outcome.   Being a hero to a five-year-old is a wonderful, smoochy delight.

My sewing skills are pretty much confined to mending because of lack of talent.  It’s the buttonholes that foil me.  When I used to make dresses for myself, I’d sew in snaps and put buttons over them so that I wouldn’t have to deal with buttonholes.  I don’t trust that method any more.  Either snaps aren’t what they used to be or more of me is expandable.  One good sneeze out in public could get me arrested.

Dearly Beloved has a pair of jeans he finds especially comfortable and he has put my mending skills to the test.  One knee split long ago and I mended it.  Sometime later, he asked me to do it again.  This time, he asked would I use a patch.

The jeans belong in the garbage.  In the past, with his other “favorite jeans,” I’ve sewn patches inside the knee and then stitched the outside together so that it wouldn’t show.  Not this time.

Wiser these days, I have come to realize that what constitutes a “favorite pair” is any that  Mr. Non-shopper does not have to go out and buy for himself.  The ones he has are some the kids have given him over the years.  The current favs have strings hanging from the bottom and threadbare sections in potentially embarrassing spots, though I doubt he’d be arrested.

I rifled through my scraps and came up with a riotous fabric from some project, as well as some dark denim patches that had a ten-cent price tag on them and are surely older than me.  With these props, I “fixed” the jeans, believing that my efforts would speed along the decent burial they deserve.  

The rear has more of the denim patches dotting the seat.

Side note:  Whenever he used to receive an oddball article of clothing as a gift (usually from his mother who couldn’t keep her sons’ sizes or preferences straight) he would tell the children that “this will be something good to wear by the fire.”  

I thought that at best, these would be relegated to fireside status.

Last weekend when we were getting ready to go to Georgia, he put on the jeans, but I thought it was while he was packing the car and that he planned to change for the drive.

Oh, no.  He wanted to “show these babies off to the boys” when he met them at the bus stop that afternoon.  That meant he also wore them inside when we stopped for lunch someplace in South Carolina.

Yesterday he had his car inspected.  I didn’t see him when he left, but he returned– wearing them.

He wears them on walks,  admitting that he does get some odd looks and funny smiles.  He says they’re thinking, “Now there’s a guy who’s comfortable in his own skin.”  

I doubt that.

He completes his look with a Rastafarian belt which doesn’t match the patches, but does go well with the Bob Marley music on his iPod.  Mainly, it holds up his pants since his waist has shrunk from all that walking.

He has the jeans on again today.  This time he has matched the patch by wearing a red, white, and blue plaid shirt.

To mix my metaphors, I have decided that if you can’t beat ’em, fight fire with fire.  I have just the equipment. . . my red sweatpants, which he detests.  I found them at the back of a closet shelf.  I’m not sure how long I’ll have to wear them before he retires those ratty-looking jeans.

I’ve heard so much bull on the televised campaign trail that I do have a lingering concern about these red sweatpants.

Just to be on the safe side, I won’t go near any cow pastures.

Hoping To Get My Lord A’ Leaping

Our cocker spaniel Miss Piggy and I have been engaged in a battle of wits during the pre-dawn hours and even at winner-take-all, it won’t be much of a prize.

For some time now, she has scratched urgently at my side of the bed around 4 AM, telling me she needed to go outside.  Why does she not scratch on Dearly Beloved’s side of the bed as she’s always done before?   Because no one is home there.  He has already outsmarted both of us by moseying into the guest room and closing the door well before 4, probably having been awakened by some crashing noise like the thundering of an eyelash as it falls onto the pillow.

DB’s suggestion to move the dog bed out of the bedroom and shut her out would put the living room rug into jeopardy because I think the old girl really does have to potty.  Maybe it’s simply habit now.  I say that with some authority as she is training MY bladder to the same routine because I usually head for the bathroom myself, since I’m up anyway.

If she would simply GO and come back quickly, it would be less obnoxious, but noooooooooo, Fatso gets a case of the munchies and wanders around the yard for an hour.  For pete’s sake, what can she find out there at that hour?  Owl turds?

Now deaf as a post, Miss P wouldn’t hear my whistling to get her back inside even if I knew how to whistle.  I have tried turning on the floodlights to get her attention, but she looks up and sees me waving wildly from the deck, then continues her sniff-fest.  Oddly enough, she has no interest in this during the daylight hours.  It is strictly a nocturnal adventure.

I’ve explained before that our lot slants downhill enough that the main level is second story height on the back side.   Half-asleep, it’s easiest for me to open the bedroom door onto the screened porch, then out to the deck.  The downside is that when she ignores me, I’d have to go down a flight of stairs in the dark, plod through the wet grass to the back of the yard–her preferred territory–pick up 32 pounds of damp, stinky cocker spaniel, then retrace my steps to get her back inside.

No way, Jose.

We would swear that the dog was mute were it not for the piercing barks she lets out if I don’t open the back door as soon as she is ready to come back inside. Therefore, leaving her out there isn’t an option.  My sleep deprivation level rises as I lie there, waiting for the that bark.  It’s sharp and screechy enough to wake the neighbors.

When Miss Piggy decides to come back inside, does she go back to sleep?

Certainly not!  First, there’s her race to the laundry room to see if the food fairy left goodies  (no chance in hell that’s going to happen before 7 AM)  and then she returns to the bedroom to contort her chubby body into pretzel shape while she snorts and grunts through her groin cleaning ablutions.   After that comes a noisy pedicure.  All that time, I am lying in bed, checking off the noises on my mental list.

By the time she is ready to nap, I have long since kissed sleep goodbye and have turned to considering my options, most too diabolical to mention here.

For the past several mornings I have donned shoes and a sweater over my PJs to take her out the front door where the yard is smaller.  She does her business and is back inside in three minutes or so.

The first time I tried the frontal assault, she scratched on the bed covers afterwards every 30 minutes in the hope that I’d reconsider and let her out back.  Since I’d seen with my own eyes that she’d already used the front yard facilities, I was able to ignore her with a clear conscience.  I couldn’t sleep with all that scratching, but my satisfaction level soared.

It may be working.  This morning she didn’t wake me until 5 AM.  I still couldn’t go back to sleep, but at least I didn’t miss half a night’s rest.  The food fairy delivered at the usual hour of 7 AM.  I’m hoping she’ll get that connection through her floppy ears.

Believe it or not, while I was standing on the sidewalk at that early hour, five… count ’em… FIVE fit, ponytailed young women jogged by.  I was appalled by all that fresh-faced energy.

The spot where Miss Piggy chose to go was in the pine needles beneath the guest bedroom window and sure enough, when Dearly Beloved got up a couple of hours later, he told me that he’d heard her out there.  Hmmm.  If he’s going to wake up anyhow, what am I doing up?

Here’s my pitch:

Five spandexed women out for early jogging… three minutes waiting… two newspapers arriving… while Miss Piggy does her morning pee.

How can he resist?

Fly By the Seat of Your Pants… Please!

One morning a couple of weeks ago, before we left on a trip, Dearly Beloved went out to do a quick fix on a broken sprinkler head we’d noticed.  One repair unearthed another problem and he spent the day crawling behind the shrubbery, digging beneath the pine needles.  In the process he repaired about 30 feet of squirrel-chewed lines, broken couplings, and missing sprinkler heads, all of which necessitated several trips to the hardware store.  (His theory that one can learn to fix things by simply staring at them long enough seems to hold water.)

When DB came back inside 8 1/2 hours later, it was obvious that we weren’t going anywhere.  His clothes were filthy and he was dripping wet.  Since he didn’t want to walk through the house leaving a trail, he entered through the laundry room and stripped there.  He walked nonchalantly through the sunroom and what passed before me was a buck-nekkid man whose deeply tanned legs and arms emphasized the Casper-like whiteness of his backside. He was wearing nothing but a pair of navy felt bedroom slippers he’d found in the laundry room, along with a pink baseball camp I’d left on the dryer.

Ah, love…!

Obviously, he was heading back to our bathroom to shower.   BUT… after seeing this photo a couple of days ago, I realize that had DB reached in the laundry basket and grabbed some of my undies, he could have been dressed to travel without me, provided he flew on US Airways.

In June, a college football player who wore his pants down to his nethers was removed from a plane after the pilot made a citizen’s arrest.  And don’t forget “Tammy in the Wheelchair,”  the 52-year-old woman  who arrived at the security checkpoint wearing black undies and a white poodle.  Also,   Southwest Airlines removed a skimpily clad passenger until she made adjustments to cover more skin a few years ago.

What are these people thinking?

All of this has become a discussion over race and gender, since the 62-year-old white male cross dresser was the only one who breezed on without any official challenge.  The football player was black, the women were white… and blonde.

Yeah, I see a double standard. There isn’t even a masculine form of “slut”.

But back to the official dress code policy, which the airline says it doesn’t have.

Allow me…

Dear Passenger:

When you board a plane, you may have concerns about air quality, screaming babies, deranged passengers, malcontent airline attendants, testy pilots, terrorists.  Add shared surfaces to that….

According to this article in the NY Times,  a 2007 testing by a University of Arizona environmental biologist, found four out of five tray tables bore the Staphylococcus superbug, MRSA.  Most of the bathrooms had E. coli bacteria.  Cold and flu viruses survive up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces.  The icky noroviruses which cause serious gastroenteritis can live on surfaces for a month.  We don’t need BBC (bare butt contamination) to add to the list.   

Take a look at that upholstered seat on which you’re about to park yourself.  Those skid mark stains could be feces, urine, food, or some other stain we don’t even want to imagine.  It’s enough to creep one out, even wearing a hazmat suit.

To be brief–not that we want you to be–here is the dress code policy:


 (If you do not know what that means, ask your congressman.)

One entrepreneur has even launched a counterattack with these., but with the extra charges in place for carry-ons, this seems an expensive and inconvenient option, even though it sure looks reassuring.

Perhaps airlines could issue coveralls for passengers who didn’t cover enough to lessen the ick factor.

DB and I prefer to drive on our trips… fully clothed and dignity intact. To paraphrase Star Trek, there is a certain comfort to sitting where no butt has gone before.

Besides, we get the whole can of Diet Coke.

Will She Make Them Toast?

Few things make one appreciate a morning of sunlight and a cloudless sky like a week with two feet of rain.  Hello Sunshine!

As icing on the cake, I just read that Nathalie Dupree, cookbook author and chef extraordinaire, is running for Congress against Jim (We Don’t Need No Stinking Progress) DeMint and Alvin (Pornography Charges Pending) Greene. This is going to be good.

It isn’t hard to figure out why she has jumped into the race as a write-in candidate against those two. There is also another Green in the race –Green Party candidate,  Tom Clements. Judging from my extensive research–see Wikipedia–he sounds knowledgeable, which probably means he doesn’t have a chance in hell in South Carolina.   He is an environmental activist, a former US Forestry Service and Department of the Interior employee, and is considered an expert in nuclear proliferation.

But back to Nathalie, who knows her way around a lot of places besides the kitchen.  She is world traveled, has run successful businesses, and is married to non-fiction author Jack Bass.  She has hosted cooking shows on PBS, The Food Network, and the Learning Channel.

If you don’t think she’s serious, read her statement regarding her candidacy.

If she gets into hot water,  it’s to clean up a mess.  She cooks wonderful food without all the fat.  Her ideas are easy to swallow.  She’s smart, charming, articulate, authentic, and savvy.  She uses real ingredients for anything she serves up.  (Sorry about that preposition.)

Can she win?  She’s not given much of a chance.  For one thing, it’s a last-minute leap.  For another, it would require voters to write in her name on a ballot.

We’re talking South Carolina voters–the ones who elected Gov. Mark (Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina) Sanford and Lt. Gov. Mark (Feeding the Poor is Like Feeding  Strays Because They Breed) Bauer, as well as Joe (You Lie) Wilson.

RIP, Sen. Strom Thurmond. Your legacy continues.

Since I don’t live in South Carolina, I don’t have a voice in the election,  but I thought it might be fun to think of some  slogans for Nathalie.  After all, her stated goal is “to cook DeMint’s goose.” (She’s looking for a goose to use in a commercial, in case you have one in your freezer, although I don’t think a turkey would be out of line under the circumstances.)

The woman knows how to whip, beat, saute, fry, bake, roast, puree, fricassee,  stew, skin, dice. . . I mean, can she spice up a race or what?!

Nathalie CAN take the heat in the kitchen!

Go, Nathalie. . . Cream DeMint!

Okay, let’s hear your suggestions!

Bought A Banned Book Lately?

If the political climate is any indication, this is a week to ponder.  It’s National Banned Books Week.

It is one of life’s ironies that the same people who are often most vociferous about their own First Amendment rights are the same voices who would deny that same right to others.  When one of our state universities selected Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich for their freshman summer reading assignment, there was a public outcry from some very angry parents.  On the other hand, Atlas Shrugged is a part of the business school curriculum in some of our colleges and universities because an area bank gave them millions of dollars if they’d put it there.  The idea, the bank executives said, was to bring forth debate on the “ethical underpinnings” of capitalism.  That might also be said of Nickel and Dimed.

Those university book lists are wonderful resources for forays into critical thinking.  This year’s selection, Picking Cotton, must have sparked some interesting discussions.

Here, according to the American Library Association, is a list of the most frequently challenged books of 2009:

1. “TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality
3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Black Beauty was banned by the Apartheid-based South African government for almost 50 years before they discovered it wasn’t a book about a black woman.  An anniversary edition of The Diary of Anne Frank was banned from being taught in Virginia public schools in January, 2010. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was also banned in January, 2010, because the author had the same name as an obscure Marxist and they didn’t bother to check to see whether or not it was the same guy.  Who was “they” in this instance?

Hello,  Texas Board of Education.  (You know, the same group that is rewriting textbooks to make them more to their liking.)

Also banned this year–this one at a California elementary school–was the new Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary because of its “oral sex” definition.

Several police associations attempted to have Caldecott Medal winner  Sylvester and the Magic Pebble removed from school libraries because the police were portrayed by pigs.  Sylvester, incidentally, is a donkey.  For that matter, he might be a liberal Democrat.

I was curious about what guidelines are used in children’s libraries and found that the Library Bill of Rights includes a section on Free Access to Libraries by Minors. What it says is that you can control what your kid reads, but not what someone else’s kid chooses.

That freedom stuff is tricky, huh?  But doesn’t it beat the alternative?

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

— On Liberty, John Stuart Mill