Cybersattva SPECIAL: A Matter of Faith, Hair and Education

l. - Vanessa VanDyke. Photo courtesy of Jezebel Magazine online. r. - An example of 1980's hairstyles.

l. – Vanessa VanDyke. Photo courtesy of Jezebel Magazine online. r. – An example of 1980’s hairstyles.

     The 1980’s was the decade of “big hair.” Young girls and women were in a constant competition, it seemed, to see who could come up with the biggest, best hairstyles. Various products, including hairsprays and mousses, were used in this signature 80’s endeavor. My wife, beginning in 1984, attended school at First Assembly Christian School. She recalled to me just this morning, that there were a few girls who attended there, with hair styles that were typical of the era. My wife doesn’t recall that this was ever an issue with the school administration.

     I tell you this, my fine young readers, to lead in to the following developing news item, coming out of Orlando, Florida. On Monday, a story surfaced in the news regarding young Vanessa VanDyke, a 12-year-old student at Faith Christian Academy, a private Christian school in Orlando. It seems that young Vanessa has been the target of some ridicule from other students, regarding of all things, the natural hairstyle she wears. Concerns over the teasing were brought to the school’s administrators, who then informed Vanessa, according to the family, that she needed to either straighten and tone down her hair style, or face expulsion. When questioned on Monday evening by the media, school staff at FCA Orlando would not answer any questions regarding the matter. (1) (2) (3)

     Now, the fact that Vanessa is African-American, coupled with the school being a religious organisation, has made for some very interesting conversation on the subject since this story broke. The piece has been picked up by not only the local stations, but also national news outlets including CNN, the Huffington Post, Jezebel Online and the International Business Times. Once there, it made the jump into the global awareness, via sites such as Australia’s “News.com.au.” As a result, the school’s Facebook page began to be inundated with comments from concerned people from all over the world, the overwhelming majority of which were highly critical of the school’s actions. Late Tuesday evening, the administrators of the FCA Orlando page commenced a campaign of “page scrubbing,” and have since removed most of the comments from their page threads.

     Enter The Cybersattva. Following last night’s “sanitation” efforts by FCA Orlando page admins, I sent an email blast to several of the school and church’s pastors and administrators, questioning their actions in light of their status as a faith-based institution. This morning, I received a reply from none other than the senior pastor of the church, one Carl Stephens. The following is a screen capture of the actual email exchange, from Outlook:

email_exchange

     Additionally, school administrators informed WKMG-CBS on Tuesday, that they are “…not asking her to put products in her hair or cut her hair. We’re asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook.”

Faith Christian Academy Handbook (2012-2013)

Faith Christian Academy Handbook (2012-2013)

     (After giving this a second glance, there are two “linchpin” questions that need asked; “Okay, how exactly is she supposed to “style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook,” and if that involves shortening or straightening it, how is she supposed to accomplish this without cutting it or using chemical products!?” Quick FCA, claim ignorance!)

     In other words, pastor Stephens now asserts that the media did not get its story straight, and that Miss VanDyke was never in danger of being expelled. (The media is always the easiest one to scapegoat in situations like these, it seems.) Pastor Stephens did note in his reply, that Vanessa is an outstanding student, has “excelled and hopefully will continue to do so.” Having viewed the video footage of Vanessa’s interview on WKMG-CBS, however, something about pastor Stephens’ reply just doesn’t ring true. It wasn’t the media that asserted that Vanessa was facing expulsion over her hair style, it was Vanessa and her family, stating that they were informed of this by the staff of Faith Christian Academy of Orlando.

     Damage control is a tricky piece of business. Every word, every assertion and every insinuation gets parsed, examined and interpreted. In this case, it has become apparent that the “powers-that-be” at Faith Christian Academy are all but tripping over themselves in their efforts to re-spin this in their favor. Of course, they have no desire to either outright, or by nuance, call Vanessa or her mother liars, nor do they wish to admit any wrongdoing themselves. Their story keeps changing, though. On Tuesday, they attempted to clarify their request for Vanessa to change her hairstyle, placing it against the framework of their school handbook, while at the same time making no mention of the consequences that Vanessa would face for not complying with the request. Today, they deny that Vanessa was ever threatened with expulsion to begin with.

     At this point in the tale of “hair and all that is holy,” I have to give pastor Stephens et al. some credit for at least trying to learn how to pedal a bicycle in reverse. It’s not enough, though. In my own, not-so-humble opinion, the school needs to just come clean. They need to admit that they told the VanDyke’s what they did, and that by doing so, they sided with those who were picking on Vanessa in the first place. They need to admit that this unfortunate series of missteps sent the wrong message, and that they will (honestly and sincerely!) do their level best to change the way in which they address these situations, so that this will never happen again within the halls of Faith Christian Academy.

UPDATE – 02 December 2013: THE SCHOOL HAS RELENTED! Apparently, the “powers-that-be” at Faith Christian Academy have come to their senses, welcomed Vanessa back from the Thanksgiving break with open arms, and will not be requiring her to cut or straighten her lovely locks! Vive le coiffure!

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Life and Living: All That Glitters…Is Perhaps NOT All That Exists!

brane_world     Ghosts, the soul, paranormal phenomena, such as precognition and auras. Photons, electrons and neutrinos. How could they be related?

     In the course of discussing things like religion and faith versus proof and evidence, I started thinking about existence. What is it? How do we observe and measure it? What are some of the weird, unexplainable phenomena that have been borne out of those observations and measurements? Then, my fine young readers, I started connecting the dots between these questions, and the fledgeling field of “String / M Theory.” It was when I did this, that I came to the realisation that we may exist and interact as part of a universe that is far more amazing, filled with much more “awesome-sauce” than we ever imagined!

     For ages now, we as a species have been attempting to explain our world, and the things that we can observe. We’ve looked into the night sky with ever more accurate devices, in an attempt to decipher the secrets of the very large. Conversely, we’ve dug deeper and deeper into the very small, with ever more powerful devices, in our attempts to unlock the mysteries of what we’re made of…and our efforts have yielded some very strange, counter-intuitive results!

     Take for instance, the “Double Slit Experiment.” In this apparatus, a beam of photons (light) is generated from a coherent light source, passed through two narrow slits, then projected onto a screen. Now, based on what we see in the everyday world, we would assume that what we would see on the screen would be two vertical shafts of light…and we’d be wrong. What we in fact have observed, time and time again, is what is known as an “interference pattern.” or multiple shafts of light! This would seem to indicate not only that these photons are behaving like waves instead of particles, but also that each photon is capable of going through both slits at the same time! (My fine young readers, you can call bullshit on this if you wish, but it’s true! This experiment has been performed several times, in several ways…each time with the same results!) The same experiment can be done with a single slit apparatus, capable of being narrowed manually. As the slit is narrowed, the light beam, instead of narrowing and being eventually cut off, actually spreads out horizontally! Ah, but this is not the only instance of “quantum weirdness” that has been seen.

     In other experiments, we’ve observed such things as neutrinos passing through solid matter, and electrons (and other point particles) that seem to pop in and out of existence. BUT! Are they actually doing so, or are they in fact just passing in and out of our three observable dimensions, from and to other “planes of existence”? This idea might sound pretty “Ghost Hunter-ish” at first blush, but there are in fact, mathematical equations and scientific theorems that back this up. String Theory, and its offspring “M” Theory, postulate the existence of no less than seven other spatial dimensions in addition to our own. If the equations of string theory are an accurate description of our universe, then the behavior of things like electrons and neutrinos becomes like text on a page, coming into focus once we put a pair of glasses on. (See where I’m going with that? Foster Grants…for quantum mechanics!)

     That’s not all, though! Once we begin to consider that the world we live in is far bigger, and contains far more dimensions than what we experience with our five senses, then things like paranormal phenomena might also be explainable, scientifically! Everything from auras, spirits and other things that we have wondered over, scientifically measurable and known.

STTNG_Q_100pxw

“Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. *That* is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities…of existence.”
(“Q”, Star Trek TNG, episode “All Good Things.”)

Domestic Politics, Faith and Religion: Is Militant Christianity Placing Christ in The Crosshairs?

christ_chrosshairs     Once again, it’s Sunday, and a fitting day for another “Dies Solis” post with regards to topics concerning religion and faith. In addition, it has been two days since the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, and I find myself troubled at what I’m seeing in places like Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and even on the news. Please allow me to elaborate, my fine young readers…

     On Friday, an article came across my newsfeed on Facebook, pertaining to the statements of one Everest Wilhelmsen, administrator of the group “Christian American Patriots Militia.” It seems that the head of this group, consisting of over 1,400 members, posted a status update on his Facebook account, (which has since been removed,) advocating for the assassination of our current president, Barack Obama. The following is a screen shot of that post:

Clear and Present Danger - 18 USC § 871 – Threats against President and successors to the Presidency

Clear and Present Danger – 18 USC § 871 – Threats against President and successors to the Presidency

     In addition, in the days surrounding the 50th anniversary of the tragic events at Dealey Plaza, there have been at least two other incidences of threats to the president which have also made headlines. (1) (2) I find myself aghast at the sheer audacity of these and others, who would blatantly flout the law in the process of their IRL and online shenanigans.

Palin takes aim.

Palin takes aim.

     Even more so, however, I stand dismayed at evangelical Christendom’s seeming acquiescence to this type of message. Speaking specifically with regard to the Wilhelmsen / CAPM post, I fail to see how Christendom’s embrace of such notables as the gun-toting, former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, the torture-endorsing, former 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, or anyone like them, can be doing the mission or the message of Christ and Christianity any favors. I don’t see anyone from that camp taking a definitive stand against Wilhelmsen et al., or their brand of evangelistic hatred and vitriol. On the contrary, all of this seems to indeed be placing the revered “Son of Man,” the faith’s savior, right in the crosshairs of the very same guns that these people hold nearer and dearer. In short, these things are killing Biblical Christianity.

     When I was a child, I was told that the “mission directives” that Christ handed to the disciples, consisted of things like rendering love, even to those who you would consider your enemy, and spreading the Gospel message. Contrary to the appending of the word, “Christian” on Mr. Wilhelmsen’s group title, it appears that he hasn’t exactly taken the time to examine and digest what that word is actually supposed to entail. Oh, but Everest Wilhelmsen’s vitriol isn’t limited to just Facebook; I’m ashamed to say that he also hosts a weblog on the very same venue as my own, WordPress. (Mr. Wilhelmsen’s blog features a decidedly “Germany-centric” amount of imagery and content.)

     What gives Mr. Wilhelmsen, or anyone else, the right to threaten the very life of Barack Obama, the man? This is a man with a wife and two growing daughters, who love him dearly. What, may I ask, if anything at all, is “Christian” about wanting to see him killed? It is high time that the church leadership in America, and the rest of the world, takes a more active stance against rhetoric and threats of this kind. Pastors need to stop “politicking” from the pulpit. Christians need to start distancing themselves from those like Palin, Bachmann, Cruz and others, who only reinforce these hateful ends.

     Fifty years ago, Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed president Kennedy. Now, militant Christians are calling for the same thing for president Obama. Around 2000 years ago, Christ was crucified by his people. Now, 2k years later, it’s happening all over again.

Life and Living: Existential Epiphanies and Dreamscapes – Reflections of An Only Child

Ripperdan_300pxw“Tuesday’s child is full of grace…”

     I can never go back. I can never relive those days so long ago, when life was much sweeter and simpler, viewed through the prism of the present. Life, such as it is, will press me ever onward, into the uncertain future. I can do nothing else, but try to be the best me that I can be, for myself and those I hold nearer and dearer.

     There were golden, wrapped individual roses, and copies of our eighth-grade yearbook embossed with gold seals. Everyone was there; talking, dancing and reminiscing about days long since passed. It was a reunion. Faces I hadn’t lain eyes on since 1984 appeared vividly in my mind’s eye as I lay in the dark, silently dreaming. I dreamt of dancing with a former girlfriend, I dreamt of the possibility of stealing a kiss from a girl I had longed to steal one from decades ago. Then, in mere seconds, the images faded as I awoke from the dream. Feeling bittersweet, I rose from my bed to greet Tuesday morning.

     What has my life been, up to this point? Have I lived my life honestly, openly to its fullest, while making a positive impact on the world around me? Have I kept the friends I had long ago, as close as I possibly could? These and other questions washed over my mind like waves on the shore as I poured my morning coffee. What is my life? What is my present, when compared with my past, and what does my future hold?

     Sitting at my computer screen, I catch myself looking through my list of friends on Facebook. Social networking, it seems, has become all but a staple of 21st-century life for some. I see the faces and read the names of those I have come to know over the years; few if any, from my childhood days, but conversely more from my adulthood. It occurs to me that many of us have grown to become quite different people than we were in our childhood, and perhaps that’s why there are so few names in my list from those days.

     I too, have changed over the years. As a child, and through my teen years, I often felt that I never quite fit in with the majority. I was the type who kept largely to myself, only interacting with others when pried from my shell through activities such as drama, band and my middle-school’s “GATE” program. Otherwise, I was in school as I was in the home; an only child.

     I am far from alone in my adult life. I have a loving and talented wife, who I have been wedded to for a quarter of a century. I have three wonderful children of my own, two of whom have grown to adulthood and one entering her pre-teen years. These are the prime movers of my existence, my motivation to live and to love.

     So I press on, into whatever the future may hold. Regrets will never do, so I do my best to make my peace with the past…and move gracefully forward.

The Chaser: Edible America – Did You Order a Side of Ridicule With Your Panera Baguette?

Judgmental_bread_300pxw     Wow. I really need to start paying a lot more attention to Buzzfeed! Today, I stumbled across an article on the site, entitled “31 Ways To Be The Worst Person At Panera Bread.” The article relies largely on screen captures of various tweets from the Twitter page, “PaneraProblems.” As I scrolled down through the Twitter postings, one thing stood out from everything else; the people posting these tweets are some pretty judgmental arse hats! The majority of the posts appear to be from people who are employed by the restaurant chain, which is based in the Sunset Hills suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. While some of them do express frustration at seemingly inane requests and behaviors, the larger part come off as nothing short of persnickety, stuck up and judgmental. Here is a choice selection of these “Panera Posts” (No, I will not be masking anything, since the posts have already been made public.):

The Pronunciation Police

The Pronunciation Police

Intelligencia?

Intelligencia?

No friend of Foster's...

No friend of Foster’s…

Another PP Officer...

Another PP Officer…

     The page admin at Panera Problems is even joining in the fun;

Nice.

Nice.

     I’d love to know exactly what the folks at Panera’s corporate HQ think of all of this negative publicity. As for me, if I ever have want of being judged for what I order, how I pronounce it or when I order it, I’ll try placing an order at a church. Otherwise, Panera Bread won’t be receiving one penny of my money…well, I might be inclined to toss a few pennies into the parking lot as I drive past, while uttering the following in Latin, with perfect pronunciation: Potes meos suaviari clunes.

[POST-SCRIPT:] If Panera Bread corporate is at all serious about respect for their customer base, they’ll climb all over this. If that happens, I might be inclined to try Panera once their shop opens locally.

Domestic Politics: Not All Is As It Appears To Be – Expanding on Glenn Mollette

U.S. House chamber. Inset: Glenn Mollette.

U.S. House chamber. Inset: Glenn Mollette.

     Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist. That sounds like a simple, six-word statement, doesn’t it? For the most part, it is. Glenn Mollette is syndicated, his opinion and editorial pieces appearing in newspapers and websites across the nation. At this point though, maybe I should explain why I’m talking about Mr. Mollette, and how that pertains to the title of this article.

     Glenn’s column was picked up a while ago by Big Valley News, a small, local news site in Madera, California. I pop over to BVN on occasion, to get a different take on the goings on in my hometown, than what the mainstream news stations can provide. Jack Porter, the man who runs BVN, is quite an “odd duck,” however his perspectives on things are, at times, far more intuitive than I think even he realises. But, I digress…

     Today’s editorial, written by Mr. Mollette, is entitled, “What Do Republicans and Democrats Look Like?” It’s a short piece, less than 500 words, most of which describe Glenn’s parents; his Republican father and his Democrat mother, both honest, hard-working Christian folks. Mollette reflects on his parents’ jobs, their activities around the home and their later years. He goes on to muse about how lovely it would be, if people from both parties could live in such harmony and the state of affairs in today’s America. He ends the piece with a quotation from Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided Speech.”

     Glenn Mollette is a Theologian. Yes, that’s right. Dr. Mollette is also the President of Newburgh Theological Seminary and College of The Bible, in Newburgh, Indiana. Now, I’m not at all certain of what Mr. Mollette’s personal belief set involves exactly, but regardless, I tend to get edgy whenever religion and politics start becoming intertwined within the same setting. Granted, theologians and politicians share a lot in common; one politics for their faith, the other for their political party. Both often tend to do so more for their own aggrandisement than the common good, I’m afraid!

     Ah, if only it t’were that simple. Imagine the “warm fuzzies” those looking on might get, seeing Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, sitting around the campfire, agreeing on every piece of legislation and singing, “Kumbaya.” Yeah. Never…gonna…happen. (At this point, my fine young readers might be asking, “Why not, J.P.?”) Well, some of it has to do with that aggrandisement thing I mentioned in the last paragraph. Aside from that, those elected to represent us, do so for a diverse population with often differing views on the issues. Glenn Mollette knows this to be true. (If he doesn’t, if he’s that willfully ignorant of the political process and climate in this country, I dare say that he shouldn’t be commenting on it.)

     No, the political landscape in this country is just as divided over issues as the church is. Like denominations within Christendom, we have different political parties, with different worldviews and opinions on things like how the money gets got, what it gets spent on and how much. (Perhaps the realm of politics is a bit less dysfunctional than that of the church, though; there seem to be far less political parties than religious denominations!) In addition, where the church starts getting involved in the business of the state, the “dramarama” will ensue.  The bleed over is inevitable, and happens all too often, as evinced by the Catholic church’s meddling in health care issues, and the Mormon church’s meddling in the debate over Marriage Equality.

     So, is there any way to solve this problem? Is there any possibility that Glenn Mollette’s utopian dream of a Kumbaya-singing, 100% efficient government will come to pass? (I heave a heavy sigh.) Not with the current form of government that we have, I fear. In short, the answer to Glenn Mollette’s simple question…is simply not that simple.

Life and Living: Remembering And Honoring Our Veterans’ Sacrifices – Musing On a Poppy

WWI_flanders_banner_600pxw

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

poppy_field_300pxw

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

     These words were penned in the spring of 1915, by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, after burying his friend and fellow soldier, Alexis Helmer. The century that has passed since these words were penned has witnessed another world war, while also being punctuated by several regional conflicts between nations. Here in the U.S., we have borne the pain of not one, but two attacks on our own soil. We have been embroiled in overseas conflicts, including a few which were not at all viewed favorably by those back here at home. Through both peacetime and war, however, there have been brave men and women who have sacrificed much, including their very lives, to ensure the freedom of others.

     Veteran’s Day. It can’t be mere coincidence that this day falls within the same month as Thanksgiving, and I would hope that the implications of this arrangement of days aren’t lost on my fellow life travelers. I for one, am thankful for the many sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make, on a daily basis. In contrast to the days of WWI, our military is now a completely voluntary endeavor. This means that the sacrifices start when a man or woman makes the conscious decision to sign their name on the dotted line, raise their right hand, and swear an oath to “support and defend.” Since September 11th, 2001, men and women have done this while our nation has been on a wartime footing, knowing full well what the ramifications are, which makes the sacrifice that much more meaningful.

     A cursory Google search of the words “Veteran’s Day,” will return page results that make mention of various discounts, sales and freebies that our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can avail themselves of, which is all well and good as long as we don’t lose sight of the true purpose of the day…which brings me back to Lieutenant Colonel McCrae and his rondeau, “In Flanders Fields.”

“Earn this.”
(Captain Miller’s last words to Private Ryan, from “Saving Private Ryan,” ©1998 Dreamworks / Paramount.)

     As not only a veteran myself, but also as a civilian whose freedoms are currently being watched over by those in uniform, I honestly feel that the question we should all be asking ourselves, is this: “How can I “take up the quarrel with the foe”? How can I “hold the torch high and keep the faith”?” How do we honor their sacrifices, not only on this day, but every day that follows?

     If we’re truly thankful and appreciative in our hearts for the many sacrifices made by our veterans, the question becomes easier to answer. It can start with something as simple as (sincerely) thanking a veteran for their service, but it cannot stop there. We need to press our government to take better care of our veterans, especially our disabled and wounded veterans, than they have done so far. We need to encourage our elected officials to seek peaceful solutions to geopolitical differences. We need to act more favorably and magnanimously toward our fellow life travelers…and ourselves. In short, we need to strive to make the world a place where war is what it should have always been, the last resort of last resorts.

Faith and Religion: Answers Beyond Genesis – Unapologetic Ministries

AiG_masthead

Apologetics (apol·o·get·ics \-tiks\, n.)
1. systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine).
2. a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.

ken_ham_masthead

Defend (de·fend \di-ˈfend\, v.)
1. to fight in order to keep (someone or something) safe : to not allow a person or thing to hurt, damage, or destroy (someone or something).
2. to fight or work hard in order to keep (something, such as a right, interest, cause, etc.) from being taken away.
3. to speak or write in support of (someone or something that is being challenged or criticized).

     Regardless of my personal proclivities regarding young-Earth creationism, I now have a gigundous issue with the folks at Answers In Genesis. Actually, I have a problem with any religious endeavor that claims something in the name of any deity, then acts in direct contravention of their claims…but we’ll stick to the issue at hand. It seems that AiG, despite their claims of being an “apologetics ministry,” doesn’t necessarily like it when their beliefs are questioned, no matter how politely.

     Case in point: Earlier today, I was commenting on one of AiG’s post threads, when I noticed another of their posts, having to do with some resource on young-Earth creationism. (But of course!) One gentleman made the following comment:

“I’m amazed when I hear pastors and evangelists talk about the earth being billions of years old. Forget all the facts to the contrary, if they’re going to pick and choose which parts of the bible to believe, then what business do they have asking anyone to believe the gospel?”

     I posted a short reply to the comment, which read as follows:

“Pardon…what facts to the contrary?”

     Now, keep in mind that I had previously commented elsewhere on the page, in defense of Atheists and their possessing just as much of a “sense of purpose” as believers, with no hint of an issue from page admins. My simple six-word quandry with regards to YEC, however, didn’t garner quite the same response; I was immediately banned from further commentary, and all of my comments were scrubbed from their page.

     I have no problems with censorship, when judiciously balanced against things such as the “harm” and “offense” principles. When someone’s commentary or behavior transgresses established rules and mores, there does need to be some measure of control. This, on the other hand, was nothing of the sort. It was an unabashed, blatant silencing of a simple interrogative. In other words, the folks at AiG do not like having their beliefs and positions questioned. Anyone that does, will be silenced. This is their definition of “apologetics.” (A friend of mine subsequently posted the same question, with the same respect. Her posts were also scrubbed.)

     This isn’t the only problem with AiG, though. For a 501-c that’s supposed to be dedicated to Christian Apologetics and the defense of their young-Earth creationist, literal take on the Bible, lately they’ve sure devoted a lot of time to going on the offensive against Atheists. In the past year, Answers in Genesis has spent almost 200k dollars on billboard advertisements, pointing their judgmental finger at non-believers. (1) (I don’t recall this being part of either the Genesis, or any other part of the Bible’s narrative.)

     Ken Ham and AiG are not interested in engaging in any honest dialogue with regards to their beliefs. Their sole mission seems to be a one-sided, monologuing approach. They’re out to pontificate. That being the case, the statements that they have made to the contrary on both the AiG and Ken Ham pages on sites such as Facebook…are lies. Like the inept nefario from a super-hero television show, they’ve been caught monologuing. Perhaps we should be looking at some other “Webster-words” with regards to Answers in Genesis, such as:

Hypocrisy (hy·poc·ri·sy \hi-ˈpä-krə-sē also hī-\, n.)
1. the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel.
2. a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.

Poltroonery (pol·troon·ery \-ˈtrü-nə-rē, -ˈtrün-rē\, n.)
1. mean pusillanimity : cowardice

Crime and Justice: Conundrums in Columbia – SC Interim Police Chief Forgets First Amendment

Interim Columbia PD Chief Ruben Santiago. Photo Credit - The State

Interim Columbia PD Chief Ruben Santiago. Photo Credit – The State

     I remember Columbia. I was stationed at Fort Jackson in 2000, and had a few opportunities to drive around that fine city. The mall was huge, the weather was nice, and the people I met were gracious. All in all, my impression of the “Palmetto State” capital was a good one. That being said, these fine people don’t deserve to have to suffer someone like their current Interim Police Chief, Ruben Santiago. Issues are swirling around Santiago and the department, like moths around a street light on a sultry South Carolina night.

     Back in July of this year, a recently-dismissed CPD captain openly accused chief Santiago of corruption, in an alleged scheme to frame Senior Assistant City Manager Alison Baker, Santiago’s supervisor at City Hall, on drug and weapons charges. (1) According to South Carolina news website “The State,” City Manager Teresa Wilson has dismissed the former captain’s allegations as false, questioning their timeliness. Flash forward four months, and enter Brandon Whitmer.

     On Friday, the Columbia PD posted news of a sizable marijuana seizure and subsequent arrest on its Facebook page. (2) Among the comments in response to this “semi-official” press release, one Brandon Whitmer posted the following comment:

whitmer_comment_400pxw

     In response to Mr. Whitmer, Interim Chief Santiago posted back:

Santiago_comment01_400pxw

     According to news sources, (3) (4) the chief’s comment was deleted shortly thereafter, by department spokesperson Jennifer Timmons, who administers the department’s Facebook page along with Santiago. Oh, but the chief couldn’t leave it at that;

Santiago_comment02_400pxw

     In the ensuing “fit hitting the shan,” Timmons stated that she had in fact, deleted Santiago’s first comment, because she “…thought it was best to do that until I got a better understanding of what he was trying to say and to set the record straight.” Indeed, Santiago’s second post was made after he and Timmons had spoken on the phone. Santiago further stated to media that the comments were posted late at night, while he was watching television and accessing Facebook on his computer.

[SOAPBOX=ON]

     I can’t even begin to tell you, my fine young readers, the myriad of problems that I have with this one…but I’ll do my level best to try. First, I have a problem with anyone in a position of authority, who would use their position to even suggest that they would seek to oppress (“We will work on finding you.”) the citizenry simply due to their views on something. Second, and this is in my own, not-so-humble opinion, Interim Chief Santiago is a blithering idiot. Just because someone advocates for the legalisation of marijuana, does not mean that they also imbibe, contrary to his “putting everyone on notice.” Evidently, this guy has no idea what the meaning of “reasonable suspicion” actually entails. Who put this flake in charge? (For the record, I’ve supported the legalisation of marijuana, ever since Proposition 215 came along in the mid-90’s. I personally feel that it should be completely de-criminalised, taxed and regulated, using the profits to help balance the stupid budget. Do I smoke pot? No. I drink alcohol once in a blue moon and I smoke cigarettes, 1/2 pack-a-day habit, but no. I don’t use marijuana. It’s not a personal choice that’s right for me at this time in my life. Oh, and I have no wants, warrants, misdemeanors, felonies, tickets or accidents. My record is whiter than the driven snow.)

     This whole business of Timmons having to follow Santiago and his verbal incontinence around the Facebook page with her finger on the “delete” button, reminds me of a half-blind person chasing a pet (pick your pedigree) around with a pooper scoop. Maybe we should set this entire episode to music, something fitting, like the theme to “Benny Hill.”

     I have another problem with this, in that Santiago used his position with the department and the department’s presence on Facebook to do this…from home while off-duty. It would have been one thing if he had done this on his own time, on his own page. No, this was an act within the scope of his place as a community leader / servant, and he needs to be held accountable for it. The department’s Facebook page is a community outreach portal, and any post that Santiago makes is tantamount to an official statement. Interim Chief Santiago has pulled out the proverbial shovel, and dug himself a very big hole.

     One thing is for sure, and that’s that Teresa Wilson and the folks up at City Hall have a problem, one which they need to divest themselves of with all due haste.

The Chaser: Who Put The Di** in Dixon?

     Well folks, Christmas is a little less than two months away now. Time for wearing red and green, putting the tree up, spending time with friends and family. It’s a time for ornaments, egg nog, exchanging presents and bringing good cheer. To that end, some of the more “twisted” among us will even be digging out the Red Peters and Rodney Carrington “Twisted Christmas” tunes. Before we let Rodney ask, “Who Put The Di** on The Snowman” however, some of us, including the folks at Gawker (1) and the Huffington Post, (2) find ourselves wondering; who exactly put the di** in Dixon, Illinois?

     It seems that the Christian Science Society in Dixon, Illinois, has commissioned the building of a new meeting hall at the corner of West 2nd Street and Highland Avenue. The building, a new addition to the neighborhood, is almost complete. From the ground, it appears to be a rather nicely designed building; modern and airy in appearance, with plenty of windows to allow light to flood the interiors;

Christian Science Society, Dixon, IL new building front.

Christian Science Society, Dixon, IL new building front.

     Now, before I go any farther, one should notice the second line of the motto in the picture, and keep that in mind when considering the following view…on a south-north map orientation…of the same building…from space:

Viewed from Google Earth. Imagery date 09/10/2013

Viewed from Google Earth. Imagery date 09/10/2013

     Um, I’m not sure if the folks in the Christian Science Society of Dixon knew that their brand new edifice looked, shall we say, phallic from the “God’s eye view,” but hopefully, they do now. I don’t know, maybe the construction company got -stiffed- on the job, so they decided to have a little fun with the blueprints. Qui sait?