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Maybe Rick Stevenson has a point

By Jim Sack

Fort Wayne Reader

2015-04-07


Before you harshly judge Township Trustee and mayoral candidate Rick Stevenson you might walk in his shoes.

A few years back, I went to neighborhood meeting just south of downtown. It was held in St. Pat’s Catholic Church and was led by a few energetic souls for the purposes of organizing the folk living there to tackle some of their own problems. I was one of the few northern Europeans in the room; most were Hispanics, there were many Blacks and a few Asians. I was invited to serve as a consultant of sorts.

The residents spent time airing concerns about streets, street lights, curbs and the like. Normal stuff. But, when it came to a discussion of crime, the energy level increased significantly. They talked of street crime, of break-ins, of drug dealers and whores working the streets.

When it came to a discussion of solutions, more than a few said they feared our police. Heads nodded. One woman, child in arms, said that when she had called police for help they had all but treated her as the perp, not the victim. Other heads nodded. Residents talked of being intimidated by police, of being harassed, of rudeness. FWPD reps had been invited to the meeting but didn’t show. A former chief commented that he wouldn’t put a liaison in the neighborhood until they formally organized. In short, he expected the paraplegic to jump hurdles. “Your “I” is not dotted!”

A former friend recounted a story of parking his car in front of his central city home only to find a police car had pulled up behind him. A taillight on his car was burned out and a hefty ticket was issued, he said. Anyone remember the FWPD police officer who worked on the quota system?

A former tenant explained how once in the criminal system it was hard to get back to a normal life with the heavy fine upon fine, and fee upon fee. Once in, he said, the system holds on to you with more fines and more referrals to more expensive treatment.

Anyone think that private prisons are a business dependent upon inmates? Privatize them and the pressure is on police and the courts to deliver.

A disproportionate number of Blacks in Allen County are incarcerated. Might we ask why? Rick is.

Certainly, the majority of our police are caring, patient and conscientious, but there are some on our force who excuse inner city violence, as long as “they” are killing “each other.” That is what one patrolman said to me.

So, when my friend Rick Stevenson compares treatment of the Black community locally to Ferguson we should ask questions rather than attacking the messenger.


Freedom of Religion Act

A plaintive voice on the BBC’s World Service tried to explain our legislature is not representative of the people of Indiana. The Indianapolis business leader was reacting to worldwide condemnation of RFRA, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Far and wide RFRA is seen as license to discriminate, based on religious belief, against the LGBT community.

RFRA has its roots in the Hobby Lobby case where a company (not a person) can discriminate against its workers. Christians to the left, heathens to the right! It finds inspiration in the bigot baker who refused to make a wedding cake for Steve and Bill, and in the Defense of Marriage Act or the pharmacist who refuses women prescriptions.

But, it is more, as our local clergy will attest. A Hoosier proponent of the bill on another BBC program said RFRA was to protect churches (perhaps he meant to include mosques, temples, druid mounds and synagogues, too?) from immoral laws. Ladies, don your birkhas. He cited a case of a Fort Wayne teacher who was canned by the Diocese for giving birth through the help of in vitro fertilization. That’s immoral, they chanted! This is the same church leadership that made (probably still is making) millions from the daily laundering of money for the despots and thugs of the world, yep, the Vatican Bank. Remember, too, how the hierarchy covered up priest and bishop sex abuse of children? Morality my ass; it is about money and control. The suit cost them a couple million, which they will extract from parishioners and Vatican Bank laundry fees.

The worldwide backlash, however, focuses on bigotry toward gays.

Our business leaders in a tizzy as conventions cancel and businesses call the movers.

State Senator David Long, a proponent of the bill, and other Republican leaders, have sent out a flurry of emails defending their bigotry.

RFRA is akin to the Nazi’s 1935 Nurnberg Law that made discrimination against Jews legal.

RFRA is brother to the homophobic laws passed in Russia and Uganda; Indiana is now on a par with Somalia, Pakistan, the Congo, Zimbabwe and Tajikistan. It makes cousins of our governor and those guys in Syria who hurl gays out upper story windows.

Who is next, you might ask.

German theologian, Pastor Martin Niemoller, wrote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

It’s relatively easy to create your own church and tenets. The forms are quite simple. Gather a following of narrow-minded bigots, humiliate homosexuals, move on to Blacks, then remember the Jews and socialists, anybody with an accent, or uppity women.

Maybe Rick Stevenson has a point.

Voting

Oregon has just enacted legislation that has a distinctly different philosophy of civic involvement than we do in Indiana: every person in Oregon is presumed registered unless they formally opt out. Here, we believe that no one is credible unless they first register, then show a picture ID at the polling place. Indiana is among seven states, including Mississippi, Georgia and Texas, with the strictest voter ID laws in the country. We should ask ourselves, do we want every Hoosier’s vote to be counted, or by limiting the franchise do we give more voice to some than others.

Maybe Rick Stevenson has a point.

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