AZ Lawmakers Move to Limit Westboro Baptist Protests at Funerals
January 11th, 2011
Soon after Saturday’s heinous massacre of six Tucsonans and the injuring of fourteen others including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Westboro Baptist’s Fred Phelps announced via video that the shooter, Jared Loughner, was appointed by Phelps’s god to do the evil deed and that the Westboro clan would protest the funerals. Arizona state Sen. Kirsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) swung into action:
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed into law emergency legislation to head off picketing by a Topeka, Kan., church near the funeral service for a 9-year-old girl who was killed during Saturday’s shooting in Tucson. Unanimous votes by the House and Senate on Tuesday sent the bill to Brewer. It took effect immediately with her signature Tuesday night. The new law prohibits protests within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service.
…Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema said when she heard of the plans, she got downright angry and decided to take action. Sinema sponsored Senate Bill 1101 and got some help from fellow legislators. “We patterned legislation after Ohio’s law which is constitutional, it’s been upheld in court, and I got permission from the speaker and the senate president to wave the rules,” Sinema said.
…”The bill requires them to be at least 300 feet away from the funeral from an hour before the funeral starts to an hour after it ends and that way people can grieve and love in peace,” Sinema said.
The bill passed the Arizona House and Senate in record time, and was signed into law at 3:00pm by Governor Brewer. The first funerals will take place on Thursday. The Boston-based Phelps-A-Thon has pledged to make a donation to Wingspan’s Anti-Violence Project of Southern Arizona for every funeral the Phelps clan protests. Wingspan is the LGBT community center for Tucson and southern Arizona. You can also donate directly to Wingspan here.
Meanwhile President Barack Obama has announced that he will speak at a community memorial service scheduled for tomorrow evening. The memorial begins at 6:00pm MST at the McKale Center on the University of Arizona campus.
The State of Our Union
January 10th, 2011
A senior Republican senator, speaking anonymously in order to freely discuss the tragedy, told POLITICO that the Giffords shooting should be taken as a “cautionary tale” by Republicans. “There is a need for some reflection here – what is too far now?” said the senator. “What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.”
The vast majority of tea party activists, this senator said, ought not be impugned. “They’re talking about things most mainstream Americans are talking about, like spending and debt,” the Republican said, before adding that politicians of all stripes need to emphasize in the coming days that “tone matters.”
“And the Republican Party in particular needs to reinforce that,” the senator said.
In case you missed it, that’s a senior Republican senator who had to remain anonymous so he or she could “freely discuss” this.
If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere
January 9th, 2011
As my partner and I were out running errands this afternoon, I snapped this photo along I-10 just south of the Ina Road exit. If you go about three miles to the east from I-10 on Ina, you will encounter the fateful Safeway that is, as we speak, still roped off with police tape and crawling with investigators. The billboard is for Rush Limbaugh’s radio program on local Clear Channel KNST, and it appears on a Clear Channel billboard. Limbaugh’s “Straight Shooter” billboard is festooned with six or seven bullet holes. Given the political climate of the past few years — and especially after yesterday’s events — it’s a damning indictment of what so many on the far right find acceptable in political discourse.
I mean, really. What’s a few bullet holes anyway?
But as we were driving around town, we heard on the radio that the second person of interest turned out to be Jared Loughner’s taxicab driver. The driver accompanied Loughner into the Safeway while Loughner got change to pay the driver. He had nothing to do with the shooting. And with that, the most promising immediate link that may have tied the shooting to extremist right-wing rhetoric has vanished once again.
Let me emphasize: it’s not to say that there is no link. But if there is one, no evidence has been disclosed for it yet. So if someone wants to claim that there is one, they better come up with some sort of hard facts for it. So far, none has surfaced. And believe me, if it does, I will be among the most eager to put that evidence right here.
That’s because, setting aside whatever Loughner’s motivations may be, I firmly believe that because of the political climate exemplified by that billboard, we are living in extremely dangerous times. And whatever demonization taking place on the far left pales, in terms of both the scope and the influence, to the far greater demonization from the far right that is amplified daily on Fox News and Clear Channel. I believe that as strongly as I do that the sun will rise tomorrow morning.
Over the past two years, we have seen border militia members kill Arizona citizens. We’ve seen Arizona citizens demand that other Arizona citizens — whose ancestors have been here far longer than the suspicious newcomers — prove their innocence and right to walk down a street. We’ve seen a governor shrieking about completely imaginary headless bodies in the desert and a state government that has decided that poor Arizonans’ lives aren’t worth life-saving transplant surgeries. People who need a heart won’t find one here. We see a political climate where our president is not only accused of being un-American, but — against all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary — a non-American. We see a cultural climate where “real Americans” can build a house of worship wherever they please, but American Muslims can’t. We’ve seen hysteria over “death panels” coming to kill grandma.
And so, acting on that outrage, a Tennessee man shot up a church because he was angry at liberals, wierdos and homos, and someone in Maryland is mailing explosive packages addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. We’ve seen people carrying automatic weapons to rallies and congressional meet-and-greets (another man was arrested at a Giffords meeting last August when his concealed pistol fell to the floor). And we saw literal gun-sight targets drawn over congressional districts, including Rep. Giffords’s.
And so we shouldn’t we be surprised if some nutcase — and not a literal schizophrenic nutcase that Loughner appears to be — decides to take a weapon and perform his “patriotic duty.”
Based on what investigators have disclosed so far, that has not literally happened — yet. Authorities are investigating several angles, but so far what some see as ties to far-right fringe groups remain highly speculative at best. As of this evening it still appears more likely that Loughner was acting at the behest of his own demons rather than of those on the demonizing edges of the far right. This could still change — being mentally ill does not preclude one from being influenced by extreme rhetoric, and may actually enhance the possibility for some — but right now the assertion that our poisonous political culture had anything to do with yesterday’s rampage is still very much unproven, but not extinguished. We may learn more about what was going through Loughner’s shattered mind in the days and months to come. But the more I learn about Loughner’s behavior, the more I’m convinced that he is suffering from the same mental illness that took my best friend in high school and two of my cousins. The symptoms are too specific and too familiar. (Update: I should add that I have no insight into the severity of Loughner’s condition. Being mentally ill with schizophrenia does not automatically make one criminally insane.)
Which means that this is an excellent opportunity for everyone to step back and reaffirm to ourselves and to each other that we are all fellow citizens and patriots of a pretty damn amazing country. If we don’t, I’m afraid — literally afraid — that we will soon fall into an abyss that we may not be able to crawl out of.
Given what we know today, I see no reason why those of us who consider ourselves progressives can’t concede that Palin, Limbaugh, and the others got lucky (if you can call it that) and that they probably aren’t responsible this time. Maybe we can even let them off the hook — IF they can agree that we all need to come together as Americans who all love our country equally, whether we’re on the left, the right or anywhere in between. Because we all need to acknowledge that none of us has a monopoly on loving America. None of us wants to see our nation destroyed. Maybe this can be an opportunity for everyone can drop their torches and pitchforks, and instead resolve to disperse the poisonous fumes that have very nearly ruined us as a people. I see no reason why the right shouldn’t be able to agree to that and change its behavior accordingly, just as I see no reason why the left needs to insist, with hardly a smidgen of proof, that a schizophrenic young man is somehow the far right’s creation. The energy expended pursuing those accusations can be better spent addressing the daunting needs of the severely mentally ill.
My hope is that somehow we can find a way to do that. My fear, though, is that we have already crossed the Rubicon and there is no turning back. And if it does turn out that Loughner’s shattered mind was nudged by either the right or the left, then all bets are truly off.
It Happened Here
January 9th, 2011
My city is reeling this morning. Six dead, fourteen injured. Dorwan and Mavanell Stoddard, a retired couple in their seventies, were standing in line at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s meet-and-greet at a Northwest side Safeway when the shooting started. He’s dead; she was shot in the legs and is expected to recover, physically. Two more retirees, Phyllis Schneck, 79; and Dorothy Morris, 76; are also dead. Third-grader Christina-Taylor Green had recently been elected to student council at Mesa Verde Elementary and went to learn more about government. She, too, is dead. U.S. District Judge John Roll had just said hi when the shooting started. He’s dead. So is a Giffords aide, thirty-year-old Gabe Zimmerman, who was engaged to be married.
Thirteen others, besides Giffords, are wounded. Five, including Giffords, are in critical condition and five are in serious condition. The Red Cross put out a call for blood donations. The area in front of University Medical Center was the site of a candlelight vigil. The flickering flames struggled to remain visible in the glare of television cameras. The intersection of Ina and Oracle, Northwest Tucson’s busiest intersection and site of the shooting, is now open, but the shopping center itself remains sealed off.
Everyone says this sort of thing doesn’t happen here. People say that everywhere this sort of thing happens.
There’s more focus this morning on local media on Jared Loughner’s mental state. The picture that emerges from people who knew him confirms what I noticed yesterday; the man had struggled with serious mental problems. He had been expelled from Pima Community College, and barred from coming back unless he underwent psychological evaluation and obtained certification that he was not a threat to others. Obviously, he never obtained that certification.
There are a lot of blogs trying to pin this on tea party politics. I do believe that the rhetoric that animates the tea party and now infects Fox News and much of mainstream Republicanism is extremely dangerous and is quite capable of stoking violence like this. But the more we learn about Loughner, the more it appears that this hateful rhetoric had little influence on Loughner’s motive. None of his rambling writings reference conservative or tea party politics. Instead, he accuses the government of mind control and brainwashing by controlling grammar. As I wrote yesterday, he is clearly struggling to make sense of reality, a common problem with people with schizophrenia.
There is, however, a second person of interest. Police are looking for a 40- to 50- year old man who is believed to have been at that Safeway with Loughner. So that part of the story clearly isn’t a closed book. And it still doesn’t diminish what Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik said at yesterday’s news conference.
When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.
“It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. And that’s the sad thing of what’s going on in America. Pretty soon, we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.
Whatever may or may not have motivate Loughner, I think Dupnic has it right: Arizona has become a “sort of the capital” for prejudice and bigotry. I have never seen a more rapid decline in the political climate anywhere. State politics here is turning resident against resident, citizen against citizen. Hours after Giffords’s health care vote, her office was vandalized. At a similar Giffords meet-and-greet last August, police carted away someone whose pistol had fallen out of his holster before he was able to approach Giffords. Private Minutemen militias kill American citizens near the border, and suspicious white powder shows up at Rep. Raul Grijalva’s office. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.
Yesterday, as my partner and I were leaving a Home Depot about a mile south of the shooting, we overheard a man on a cell phone telling someone to stay indoors because someone is shooting. We hadn’t heard anything and just assumed he was talking about something happening somewhere else. Things like that don’t happen here. But now we know it does. And unless we all examine our consciences, worse will happen, not by someone who is mentally ill but by someone who has his wits about him and is capable of doing even more harm.
Rep. Giffords’s Shooter’s YouTube Channel
January 8th, 2011
Twenty-two year old Jared Lee Loughner was identified by police as Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s shooter. He is now in custody. From the looks of his YouTube channel, I believe he exhibits the classic signs of schizophrenia.
Mental illness and a grievance. A deadly combination.
Update: Let me explain myself. I am not a mental health professional, but my best friend in high school succumbed to schizophrenia. I also have two cousins with the disorder, although I have not been in contact with them in decades. These videos, to me, look hauntingly familiar, as soon as I saw the first one. don’t think so. Look at some of the other videos. He uses the same kind of language and “grammar.” In effect, he thinks he’s inventing his own language and currency.
I know there are a lot of people tempted to indict the Tea Party. About an hour ago, I would have been first in line with the pitchfork and torches. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. Yes, Loughner’s talk of language, currency, unconstitutional police actions — these are all topics that are favorites of tea-partiers, but the concepts that the tea party is pushing are utterly absent in Loughner’s videos. Instead, what clear to me is that he is trying to do what a lot of people with the most serious cases of schizophrenia are trying to do. He is trying to create some sort of ordered structure out of the chaotic shards of his perceptions. And failing. I’ve seen this too many times before.
Rep Gabrielle Giffords Shot In Tucson
January 8th, 2011
This is shocking news. Barely one mile from where I am right now, Rep. Gabriel Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head at point-blank range while hosting a “Congress On Your Corner” meet and greet event at a Safeway supermarket. Early reports said that she was killed, but latest reports have her undergoing surgery at University Medical Center, the only Level I trauma center in Southern Arizona.
It is not clear right now whether the gunman is still at large or not. One report has it that the gunman, apparently in his mid-20′s, shot off 20 rounds with an automated weapon. Channel 13 is reporting that at least five people were killed, and six were injured.
Last March, her Tucson office was vandalized a few hours after the House vote overhauling the nation’s health care system, the authorities said.
Update: 1:41 MST: A suspect is in custody. He has not been identified. Nine people were brought to the hospital, including a child. All of them are in either serious or critical condition and are undergoing surgery.
Update: 1:47 MST: The Pima County sheriff’s office now says that six people have died and 18 were injured.
Update: 1:50 MST: Channel 4 spoke with Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda, who says that that Rep. Giffords is expected to pull through. This is a promising, if unconfirmed report.
Update: 1:53 MST: A press conference is scheduled for 2:00 at University Medical Center.
Update: 2:06 MST: The gunman, who still has not been identified, is said to be 22 years old and with “limited law enforcement experience.” He walked up behind Giffords and started firing. He tried to escape on foot but was tackled and held until police arrived. Giffords had reportedly received numerous threats.
This may not have been the first attempt on Giffords’s life. Last August, protester showed up at another supermarket event was apprehended by police when a pistol he holstered slipped and fell to the floor. And then, there’s this:
During the fall campaign, Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, posted a controversial map on her Facebook page depicting spots where Democrats were running for re-election; those Democrats were noted by crosshairs symbols like those seen through the scope of a gun. Ms. Giffords was among those on Ms. Palin’s map.
Update: 2:13 MST: The Sheriff’s office says that the suspect used “a pistol with an extended magazine.” Sheriff deputies are currently executing multiple search warrants at multiple locations. They have not ruled out a second suspect.
Update: 2:15 MST: From the news conference at UMC:
Trauma surgeon Peter Rhee called the situation a catastrophe. He said UMC received 10 patients and one child who is dead. Five are in critical condition and five are in surgery, he said.
The congresswoman is in critical condition. Neurosurgeons have finished operating on her after she was shot through the head one time. Rhee is optimistic about her condition because she was able to follow commands.
Rep. Giffords is in intensive care.
Update: 2:19 MST: The suspect has been identified as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. Five are dead, including a nine-year-old child. Thirteen have been injured. In addition to the victims taken to UMC, four were also taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, three with gunshot wounds.
Update: 2:24 MST: The death toll now stands at six. Among the dead: a nine-year-old girl, an aide to Rep. Giffords, and U.S. District Judge John Roll.
Update: 3:29 MST: From UMC:
Rhee says 10 patients were delivered to UMC – of those, 1 young girl is dead, 5 people are critical condition and 5 people are in surgery. Rhee says the deceased girl was about 9 years old.
Update: 3:27 MST. Here is the shooter’s YouTube channel.
Four other videos here. This is looking more and more like a case of mental illness:
Mentally ill, and with a grievance:
Gay Navajo Man Elected To Arizona Senate
August 25th, 2010
Former state representative Jack Jackson Jr. has won the Democratic party’s primary for nomination to the Arizona state Senate. According to the Victory Fund:
In 2005, Jackson was appointed by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as the Executive Director of the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs. In April 2000, he was appointed by Secretary Donna Shalala to serve on President Clinton’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Jack serves on the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Board and the Obama Administration has selected him to once again serve on the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
There are no Republican challengers in the race to represent the Northern Arizona district covering the Navajo Nation and Flagstaff.
Prop 8 Rallies Planned
August 4th, 2010
As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.
Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.
Judge Blocks Arizona’s Termination of Domestic Partner Benefits
July 24th, 2010
Among the first policy changes pushed by Arizona’s legislature as soon as Republican Janet Brewer succeeded Janet Napolitano (D) as governor was to pass House Bill 2013, which changed the definition of “dependent” to specifically exclude domestic partners and adopted children of gay individuals, effectively ending insurance coverage for the families of gay state employees. This move came despite denials from Arizona’s Prop 102 promoters that they would seek to remove domestic partner benefits if the amendment banning same-sex marriage was added to the constitution. Prop 102 was approved by Arizona voters in 2008.
This week, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick granted a temporary injunction against the state of Arizona from implementing the new law:
“Because employees involved in same-sex partnerships do not have the same right to marry as their heterosexual counterparts, Section O has the effect of completely barring lesbians and gays from receiving family benefits,” Sedwick wrote. “Consequently, the spousal limitation in Section O burdens state employees with same-sex domestic partners more than state employees with opposite-sex domestic partners.”
Sedwick dismissed the state’s argument that exempting gay employees would make the benefits program “much easier to administer” and that “scarce funds for employee benefits are better spent on employees and dependents as defined in the new statute.”
Gov. Brewer claims that the state cannot afford to provide domestic partner benefits. But the annual cost of domestic partner benefits make up only about $3 million, or less than one-half of one percent of the $625 million spent on benefits for all employees. The elimination of domestic partner benefits would affect more straight families than gay. Gay and lesbian couples are believed to comprise a small fraction of the 893 domestic partners who have signed up with the state. The injunction against the elimination of domestic partner benefits applies only to families of gay- and lesbian-led employees because, as Judge Sedwick noted, heterosexual couples have the option of marrying.
Phoenix gay group accuses HRC of putting “coalition” interests ahead of gay businesses
June 29th, 2010
The Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is not pleased that the Human Rights Campaign is discouraging gay individuals and couples from traveling to Arizona or doing business with Arizona gay businesses. And they have been frustrated in their attempts to get HRC to consider their concerns. (FoxNews)
“They haven’t even read SB 1070. … They don’t even really know what’s going on around here,” Joseph Gesullo, chairman of the Phoenix gay chamber, said of the organizations calling for boycotts. “It’s really just hurting the people of Arizona.”
Gesullo has been able to negotiate with another group, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber, who has expressed support for Arizona’s gay business operators.
But Gesullo said the Human Rights Campaign has “absolutely” resisted requests to tone down the boycott. He accused the group of kowtowing to Latino advocacy groups as well as the Service Employees International Union and expressed concern that the move would discourage gay and lesbian couples from visiting Arizona. That, in turn, hurts the hundreds of Phoenix businesses that count themselves as chamber members, he said.
And Gesullo may not be completely incorrect.
[Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz] denied that the Human Rights Campaign launched the boycott just because the SEIU wanted it, but said there’s nothing wrong with working as a “coalition.” He said there’s a strong connection between those who support Arizona’s immigration law and those “who would bring similar harm” to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
While I’m not sure a boycott will have any effect on businesses or interests that oppose gay equality, it is likely to keep away many who might shop in a gay business or contribute to a gay cause.
It is always fascinating when gay organizations put the interests of outside members of a coalition ahead of the interests of gay individuals and organizations. I wonder if those coalition partners would do the same?
Heterosexual Menace: Hot for Students
May 18th, 2010
I just happened to come across this story during my lunchtime reading of the dead-tree version of the Arizona Daily Star:
Christie Elliot, 25, who coached the cheer squad and taught English at Empire High School, 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way, for about a year, turned herself in to Tucson police as a result of a three-week investigation into her relationship with a 15-year-old boy.
…Police began investigating April 19 at the behest of the Vail School District after a parent told the Empire High principal that Elliot had been exchanging inappropriate text messages with his son via his iPod Touch. Some of the messages referred to kissing and the “need to be more careful,” according to court documents filed by police.
During the district’s initial investigation, laptop computers issued by the school to staffers and students were confiscated from Elliot and the student, court documents state. Elliot’s computer was found to contain topless pictures of the teacher. It is undetermined whether she sent those photos to students, according to court documents.
Now imagine a different but very similar story, with almost all of the details being identical — a hot 25-year-old teacher sending inappropriate text messages to a 15-year-old male student, the teacher’s school-issued laptop containing topless photos, yadda, yadda, yadda, — except the teacher were a strapping male baseball coach and science teacher.
Do you suppose, as I do, that such a story would more likely appear on the paper’s front page above the fold, instead of being buried deep inside the inner recesses of the local news section like this one was?
This can only mean one thing: Our local newspapers are in collusion with the heterosexual conspiracy. You can learn more about this vast conspiracy in our report, “The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths.”
Fact Check: FAIR’s 2,555,000 Dimes For “Ethno-Separatist”
April 29th, 2010
Rachel Maddow interviewed Dan Stein of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the group that claims credit for writing Arzona’s anti-immigration law which critics charge is a open invitation to racial profiling. In particular, Maddow drills Stein over FAIR’s extensive associations with White Supremacists.
Brutal. So who’s the more credible party: Maddow or Stein?
Well, we don’t have the wherewithal to fact check everything in this interview, but I knew I could easily fact-check Stein’s denial that FAIR donated any money or had any connections with an “ethno-separatist” during a 2004 Arizona ballot initiative. Protect Arizona Now (PAN), with “ethno-separatist” Virginia Abernathy chairing its national advisory board, was the prime force behind Arizona’s Prop 200 in 2004. At 19:33 in the interview, Stein said:
First of all, we never gave that organization a dime. And secondly, even if we were going to give them the dime, we wouldn’t have given the dime with Virginia Abernathy associated with it.
Unfortunately for Stein, donations for ballot initiatives are reportable to the Secretary of State and posted online. According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Web Site:
- On April 1, 2004, FAIR gave Virginia Abernathy’s PAN $50,000, and the FAIR Congressional Task Force gave them another $50,000 more.
- On May 11, 2004, FAIR gave PAN $25,500, and the FAIR Congressional Task Force gave PAN another $25,000.
- On June 11, 2004, FAIR gave PAN $50,000, and the FAIR Congressional Task Force gave PAN another $55,000.
After Abernathy exploded publicly with her ethno-separatist views, FAIR did denounce Abernathy’s views. and on September 24, FAIR shifted its support to a new group that arose from those ashes, Yes on Proposition 200, with a $60,865 donation. But yes, despite Stein’s claim, FAIR provided Abernathy’s PAN with $255,500 out of $370,000 of reportable donations altogether.
In case you’re counting, that’s 2,555,000 dimes.
We Are All Mexicans, Part 2
This commentary reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
April 28th, 2010
Some more data points to consider in reference to Arizona’s law which is an open invitation for racial profiling and harrassment of its legal citizens in the name of clamping down on undocumented immigrants. From the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant law was written by a lawyer at the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as an anti-immigrant hate group since 2007. The law, a recipe for racial profiling, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.
Want more? How about this:
The principal sponsor of the Arizona law, state Sen. Russell Pearce, has his own history of hate. In 2006, Pearce forwarded an email to his supporters from the neo-Nazi National Alliance titled “Who Rules America?” The article criticized the media for promoting multiculturalism and racial equality, and for presenting the Holocaust as fact. More recently, Pearce has been photographed hugging J.T. Ready, a Phoenix-area resident who is a member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.
Still think race has nothing to do with this? Pima County (Tucson) Sheriff Clarrence Dupnik calls the law “racist,” “digusting,” and “unnecessary”. He announced that while he will not release any illegal immigrants who happens to come into his custody (standard practice is to turn them over to Border Patrol), he won’t enforce the new law.
The sheriff acknowledged that this course of action could get him hauled into court. SB 1070 allows citizens to sue any law enforcement official who doesn’t comply with the law. But Dupnik told Nunez that SB 1070 would force his deputies to adopt racial profiling as an enforcement tactic, which Dupnik says could also get him sued. “So we’re kind of in a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation. It’s just a stupid law.”
Dupnik had harsh words for anyone who thinks SB 1070 will not lead to racial profiling. “If I tell my people to go out and look for A, B, and C, they’re going to do it. They’ll find some flimsy excuse like a tail light that’s not working as a basis for a stop, which is a bunch of baloney.“
Like I said, Oh how I wish Pima County were its own state. (By the way, Pima County was also the only one among Arizona’s 15 counties to vote down Prop 102 in 2008. Viva Tucson!)
We Are All Mexicans
This commentary reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
April 27th, 2010
I’ve always loved Tucson, but I have to say that Arizona is under a veritable reign of terror now that the tea party has taken over state government. Do you think I’m exaggerating? Maybe a little, but where else can you expect to hear police arbitrarily demanding to “see your papers” but in Apartheid-era South Africa, present-day Burma and the Grand Canyon state? I’m proud to be a Tucsonan — if only Pima County could be its own state! — but Arizona is a mess. A vindictive, angry, spiteful, punitive and broken mess.
This is also the same state that banned same-sex marriage and rescinded domestic partnership benefits among state government employees. First they went for the gays, then the brown-skinned…
March 15th, 2010
My beloved Arizona never disappoints when it comes to extreme looniness. Sen. John McCain is facing a primary challenge from former Arizona congressman and Phoenix right-wing radio host J.D. Hayworth, who told an Orlando, Florida radio audience that Massachusetts’ marriage equality law could lead to marriages between man and horse:
“You see, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage — now get this — it defined marriage as simply, ‘the establishment of intimacy,’” Hayworth said. “Now how dangerous is that? I mean, I don’t mean to be absurd about it, but I guess I can make the point of absurdity with an absurd point — I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse. It’s just the wrong way to go, and the only way to protect the institution of marriage is with that federal marriage amendment that I support.”
Sen. McCain opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment because he felt that it violated the principles of federalism, not because he believed in equality for gay people. McCain supported Arizona’s Prop 102, the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage which passed in 2008.
Hayworth, who promoted tea party events on his radio program and gained the endorsement of national tea party leaders, is determined to run an extremely negative campaign. I wonder if the next whisper campaign against McCain will somehow imply that he enjoys ”riding horses.”
AZ Senator Jack Harper discusses the details of a gay soldier’s life (without permission) in order to advance his anti-gay agenda
February 5th, 2010
Arizona’s anti-gay State Senator Jack Harper felt it necessary to go to the floor of the statehouse on an issue over which that body has no say: the open service of gay military personnel. He had to warn everyone of just what would happen if, gasp, gay people were allowed to tell the truth.
They’ll smoke pot, go AWOL and infect their roommates with HIV. Because gay people are individualists and can’t “come together for the good of the unit” (a rather unfortunate choice of words).
The text of Senator Harper’s monologue.
I’d like to tell a story about one of my experiences in the Military and how it um, how it related to the President’s speech last night. I understand the President will be making a um, a push to allow gays to openly serve in the military. And, uh, from my experience this is, uh, this is a mistake.
Back in 1989 when I was in the first infantry division, I got there in 1988, and we were in old barracks and we were moving into new barracks and went from bays to two-man rooms. And, um, sergeant first class of my platoon wanted me to room with a person that we all knew was a homosexual.
And I said, “Sergeant, if I have to room with him I’m going to turn him in.” So he ended up assigning another soldier to serve, um to room with this person.
Specialist Rollins was the individual. Specialist Rollins was quite an individualist. I think that might have been the biggest problem cuz when you’re in the military you’re about, you’re supposed to be about putting your personality aside and coming together as a unit for the good of the unit, for the good of the country. And being an individualist there is not room for in the Military.
Specialist Rollins at the time, one time tested positive for THC which means he was smoking pot. He got an Article 15, lost a stripe, and had to do seven days of extra duty. Another time PFC Rolling went AWOL for a number of days. Our platoon had to go down and inventory his stuff including his personal effects which were very evident that he was openly homosexual.
After PFC Rollins was eventually captured he was court-martialed out, not because he was homosexual but because he had gone AWOL.
Um, being an individualist does not match well with being in the Military. You’re supposed to conform to the standards and come together as a unit for the good of the unit and for the good of the country.
Now, after Rollins had been court-martialed out of the military, his roommate had PCS, Permanent Change of Station, gone on to another thing. About a month later, cuz I was the uh, the battalion sid burse clerk which means I ran the computer that kept the database of the grade changes, positions, things like that, rank. Uh, the uh, medics came to me and said we have a person that tested positive for, uh, for HIV and we only have the last four of his social security number and we need to look him up. It was the person who had roomed with PFC Rollins. Now this was a promiscuous soldier so it might not have been that he had a relationship with Rollins.
But, ah, we had problems from the beginning because we decided that we would not turn in someone who was openly serving in the military that was a homosexual, that we knew to be a homosexual. We tried to be tolerant, but it didn’t work. It didn’t work for our platoon, it didn’t work for the first infantry division, and it will not work for the United States of America.
I can’t even begin to discuss how inappropriate it is for a state senator to go to the floor of the senate and discuss the military career and life of another person. By name.
This is beyond foul, and he should be censured.
Maurice Grossman (1927-2010)
January 22nd, 2010
Maurice Grossman, a former University of Arizona art professor, died this morning following heart valve replacement surgery. He was 82.
Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927, he became an educator and ceramic artist in Arizona. He studied at Wayne State University and earned an MFA at Ohio State University. From 1955 to 1988, he was Professor of Ceramics at the University of Arizona in Tucson after founding their ceramics program. I came to know him during the campaign to try to defeat Arizona’s Prop 102. He was just one of those guys who seemed to know just about everyone, and no one he knew could ever be an enemy.
Last October, he was selected to be the Grand Marshal for Tucson’s Pride parade. (Tucson holds its parade in October as a concession to the typically scorching 105+ degree summer temperatures.) The UofA’s Arizona Daily Wildcat featured Maurice’s honor with a good description of his journey:
Grossman was a UA professor from 1955 to 1989 and started the three-dimensional arts program in the Art Department during that time. “I’m very proud of what I accomplished and am still acknowledged when I’m on campus,” Grossman said. “I loved my students; I love teaching. In a way I’m still teaching.”
Grossman said he lived the first part of his life trying to determine who he was. He got married in his 20s, and had two children with his wife, who died in 1978.
“Like most gay men, I was trying to understand more about myself,” Grossman said. “At that time, in my 20s, I met a very beautiful and lovely woman and we fell in love.”
Though he was married and in love with his wife until she died, Grossman said he knew he was gay before then. In 1978 Grossman became more politically active in the gay community. He volunteered with Wingspan and Stonewall Democrats in Tucson. He waited a few years before he told anyone he was gay.
“When I told (my children), they knew; they said, ‘we’ve known for years,’” Grossman said.
Grossman said there was no real fallout or loss of friendships because of his revelation.
If you had the pleasure of knowing Maurice, you’d understand why.
The thing that impressed me about him is that he didn’t think to bother about slowing down. Age was an occasional nuisance but never a hindrance. And nothing was going to get in the way of his good cheer. He remained very active in the LGBT community and in the local arts scene. The Dinnerware Gallery in 2007 threw a fifty-year retrospective for him to coincide with Maurice’s 80th birthday.
There are a lot of sad people here in Tucson today.
Lambda Legal Sues Arizona To Block Elimination of Domestic Partner Benefits.
November 17th, 2009
During last year’s battle to place a ban on same-sex marriage into Arizona’s constitution, proponents for Proposition 102 argued that their efforts had nothing to do with Domestic Partner Benefits. Nope. Not one bit. Except that the ink was barely dry on the election results when the same lawmakers who put the proposition on the ballot turned right around and moved to strip domestic partner benefits from gay and lesbian state employees.
Today, Lambda Legal has announced a lawsuit in Federal Court in Tucson on behalf of ten state employees seeking to block the elimination of DP benefits. According to a press release from Lambda Legal (no link yet):
“This is an issue of equal pay for equal work,” said Tara Borelli, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. “By stripping away these vital benefits from loyal state employees, the state isn’t just paying them less for the same work than their heterosexual colleagues — it’s pulling away a vital lifeline that all workers need. This is simply cruel and saves the state next to nothing.”
…”This discriminatory elimination of vital health benefits denies equal pay for equal work to a small, politically vulnerable group of dedicated public workers who perform valuable services and pay equal taxes. By stripping gay and lesbian state employees of health coverage for a domestic partner, the new law unfairly and unconstitutionally inflicts severe hardship upon a targeted group of Arizona families,” added Borelli.
Sunday Driver: El Tiradito
September 27th, 2009
Tucked away south of downtown Tucson lie the last remnants of the old Barrio Historico. The Barrio is the original Mexican neighborhood that was established at about the time of the Gadsden Purchase, when the entire area changed hands from Mexico to the United States. Tucson’s original barrio was decimated by the short-sighted urban renewal wave of the 1960s, but what remains is still the largest and best preserved collection of old adobe Sonoran-style building in the U.S.
It is said that the Barrio is inhabited by countless ghosts from its violent past. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but there is one legend from the old Barrio that is worth mentioning. The details of that legend are very sketchy, but it goes like this: sometime before the turn of the twentieth century there was an illicit love affair between a man and a married woman. It was an affair that was kept hidden for a very long time, but at some point the woman’s husband found out about it and murdered the man.
Because the murdered man was a sinner in the eyes of the Church when he died, he was denied a Catholic burial at the church’s cemetery. His body was barred from consecrated ground. So he was instead buried underneath his home somewhere. Today, that legend holds, he lies there still, somewhere within the crumbling walls of that old adobe home.
Whatever happened, one thing we know. The community took pity on the young man and today the brick walls which stand in for his unconsecrated grave have been consecrated by popular acclaim as a makeshift shrine known as El Tiradito (“the little castaway” or “the little discarded one”). Over the years, people have come from all over to pray at the shrine, both for the murdered lover and for others who have become lost to them. They leave small photographs, milagros, and other small tokens representing their prayer requests around the old fireplace which is now a revered nicho, and sometimes they’ll write their prayers down on small scraps of paper and leave them in the cracks of the crumbling adobe walls. And always they leave behind lit candles, typically those candles that you’ll find in Mexican grocery stores in South Tucson with images of saints printed on the sides. It is said that if you leave a lit candle at nightfall and the candle is still burning in the morning, then your prayers will be answered.
Legends have a way of growing out of small kernels of facts while ignoring other facts. My friend Homer, an archeologist and local historian tells me that he remembers reading newspaper accounts from around the 1920s in which the shrine was moved a short distance to its present location. He also says that nobody has been able to uncover historical records to verify the legend. But he also says that territorial newspaper accounts from the 1800s are full of stories about husbands murdering the paramours of their wives. Arizona was especially violent in those days and living was hard. As many as a quarter of the people who died in the 1870s met a violent end. And even today, the remains of dead bodies turn up every few years or so in unexpected places underneath streets and sidewalks whenever a reconstruction project is taking place.
But whatever the actual facts may be, legends and myths have a way of speaking to greater truths that register in the hearts of those who hold them as true. Legends lift us from the world of the mundane and carry us to the plane of aspirations and ideals. And it’s those greater ideals embodied by El Tiradito which fascinates me. This shrine, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is reputed to be the only known shrine in America dedicated to a sinner buried in unconsecrated ground. Whether that is true or not, a shrine dedicated to the memory of a sinner is a very odd thing. Shrines are the sorts of thing we’re more erect for reserve to heroes.
By all traditional understandings of morality of the day, the husband should be seen as the victim. He was the one who was wronged by his wife and her lover. And according to the frontier mores of the day, he was entirely within his rights to shoot the interloper. In fact, frontier justice demanded such an honor killing. By all rights, the man commemorated by this site would be looked upon as the villain. He’s the one who messed around with another man’s wife. But here, it’s the wife’s husband who is reviled. Why is that?
Clearly those who first carried the memory of the murdered lover knew more than we do today. What was it about the love between the murdered man and the married woman that touched their hearts? Was the woman’s husband cruel to her? Malicious to others? Was he a drunk all the time? Did he beat her? Cheat on her?
And what of the poor soul who was murdered? We can safely say he was a poor soul, otherwise his memory wouldn’t have been so lovingly tended. He clearly is the sympathetic one in the story. Why is that? Was he particularly kind? Generous of spirit? More to the point, was he the one she was meant to love and be loved by in return?
Who knows? All that we do know is that this man, the one who was reviled by the proper authorities of the day — he is now the folk hero, the one who is the beneficiary of generations of prayers and tender thoughts.
We are all familiar with the “love that dares not speak its name,” but here we have a man whose name is no longer spoken and is therefore unknown to us. And so we arrive at the greater thing which, I think, this legend represents and which no factual historical record can touch. In his anonymity, an unknown man is remembered, and he is loved because he dared to pursue a love that was prohibited to him. Yet in his pursuit of a forbidden love, his love achieved a sort of immortality that has long outlived him.
Many times love cannot be constrained by the rigid boundaries of what is considered proper, nor by the limits of a premature death. This love broke through all of those boundaries and its effects have endured beyond death and memory. It has pushed forward through the centuries and burns still today, flickering tentatively like the candles at El Tiradito, precisely because others have carefully tended it through the night so that it may greet the dawn once more.
Arizona Cancels Health Care For Thousands
September 8th, 2009
It was just last year when proponents of Prop 102, Arizona’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage promised — pretty please promised — that unlike their earlier unsuccessful effort in 2006, this time they learned their lesson and have no intention of going after domestic partnership benefits in order to get the gays fully discriminated in the state constitution. Crossed their heart and hoped to die, in fact.
Well Arizona’s new budget is in, and it proves the lie. Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has signed the budget bill that strips health insurance from the families of approximately 800 Arizona state employees, along with other domestic partnership benefits. Now how’s that for pro-family politics?