Posts Tagged “connecticut”
It took over two years, but the town of Enfield here in Connecticut finally resolved a lawsuit it brought on itself by holding its high school graduation in churches. The Hartford Courant reports on the settlement (WebCite cached article):
In a 6-3 vote, the school board decided Wednesday night to accept a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over the school system’s practice of holding high school graduation ceremonies in a church.
The American Civil Liberties Union and another group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, filed the suit two years ago after the school board decided to hold graduation ceremonies for both Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School at First Cathedral in Bloomfield.
I’d blogged about this conflict, back when it erupted in spring of 2010. At the time litigation over this began, various Christianist legal outfits had promised the town and its Board of Education that they’d pay the legal fees, thus encouraging them to defend the lawsuit despite having no chance of prevailing. But I note, in the end, these promises proved bogus, because none of those groups are paying a dime:
The school board’s insurance provider, the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, will cover the cost of the settlement up to $470,000, Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann said. The exact dollar amount of the settlement was not revealed.
I wonder if their Jesus taught these guys not to keep their word?
The Courant article includes the expected childish whining and bellyaching on the part of Christianists, both on the Board and in the town, who don’t like the vote and call the ACLU and AU “bullies.” Well … boo fucking hoo, you crybabies! What you were doing was unconstitutional, and you know it. If you had any integrity in the first place, you’d realize that, and would now show the courage to admit having been wrong. But you won’t, because you have no courage; you’re just juvenile religionists who can’t help but stamp and fume when someone dares thwart you.
Photo credit: Hartford Courant.
, american civil liberties union
, bloomfield CT
, enfield board of education
, enfield CT
, enfield public schools
, first cathedral
, graduation ceremony
, high school graduation
, public school
, public schools
, Separation of church and state
Like so many other media outlets, the folks at WTIC-TV in Hartford seem to have run out of material to fill their nightly news, to the point that they ran a story on exorcisms in my home state of Connecticut. I’ll grant the Nutmeg State has some history in that regard. It’s home to the famous ghost-hunters, the Warrens (Lorraine and her late husband Ed). The famous “demon murder trial” took place here in the 1980s. It was the setting of the 2009 movie The Haunting in Connecticut. Famously haunted places in Connecticut include the abandoned hamlet of Dudleytown, the defunct Norwich State Hospital, Union Cemetery in Easton, and Pettibone’s Tavern (now Abigail’s Grill) … just to name a few.
In their effort to pursue the “hauntings as news” motif I’ve blogged about so many times already, the folks at WTIC-TV ran this story on a paranormal-investigation group and one of their recent cases (WebCite cached version). Unfortunately this is a video report only, and there doesn’t seem to be any way for me to embed it here … so you’ll have to click on the link in order to see it.
They report — uncritically — that a “spiritual battle” is underway, and that “in recent years, it has intensified.” The group they follow is called Connecticut Spirit Investigators, and the reporter cites its claimed 40-year history as a way to grant the group credibility. The group’s high-tech equipment is also on display. What is never explained, is precisely how the group “knows” that a stray magnetic field or a cold spot in a room can only be caused by a ghost, spook, spirit, demon or devil, and can’t possibly have any mundane explanation. They also seem to think weird noises coming from their so-called “ghost box” are proof that supernatural entities lurk at a place; I think it’s proof only that these folks have deluded themselves.
The reporter also claims the group’s “investigation” (if one could call what they do “investigating”) led to an exorcism being performed by a “Bishop McKenna” who’d also exorcised demons in the famous Amityille Horror case. The reporter may have considered this impressive, but I don’t. The famous Amityville, NY haunting turned out to have been a hoax (cached)! Also, the “bishop” in question would have to be Robert McKenna, whose consecration as bishop is suspect, and who in any event is a schismatic (he claims the popes after Pius XII have all been illegitimate); it’s extremely unlikely that McKenna has ever received official approval to perform any exorcisms.
The reporter also brings in another evangelist for ghost-hunting, Fr Bob Bailey from Rhode Island (who’s also appeared on the show Paranormal State). Fr Bailey pontificates on the eternal “cosmic struggle” mentioned at the beginning of the piece, as though he’s an authority on the subject, and not a paid hack who makes money making such claims.
The reporter ends the piece by stating that none of the region’s diocesan offices would discuss the matter, and referred the station directly to the Vatican. That also didn’t go anywhere, apparently. And that’s no surprise … the Catholic Church doesn’t really talk about exorcism — at least, not officially.
At no time during this piece was there even the slightest hint that the interviewees’ claims were anything less than 100% true. At no time does the reporter point out that there is not one iota of objective evidence of the existence of ghosts, demons, poltergeists, devils, souls, Satan, haunted houses, possessions, or the slightest veracity for any of the “paranormal investigators’” antics. At no time does the viewer hear that there’s no objective evidence that any “spiritual battle” is going on at all, much less any evidence offered that it has “intensified in recent years.” At no time did the reporter ask any probing questions, such as “How does any of your equipment prove there’s a ghost or demon here?” There’s nothing about this story that suggests it’s anything other than a puff-piece on CT Spirit Investigators.
I guess this is what passes for 21st century journalism. Unfortunately.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: amityville hoax
, amityville horror
, amityville horror hoax
, bishop robert mckenna
, connecticut spirit investigators
, ct spirit investigators
, demonic possession
, diabolical possession
, fox 61
, fr bob bailey
, fr robert bailey
, hartford ct
, haunted house
, haunted journalism
, journalism fail
, lazy journalism
, paranormal state
, robert mckenna
6 Comments »
Although I mostly focus on religious issues in this blog, I try to think critically about lots of things, all the time. Human beings are incredibly irrational and overemotional over a lot of things, not just religion. One of the things that doesn’t take too much “critical thinking” to realize is a fucking joke, is the absurd “security theater” debacles that crop up all over the country, from time to time. I have blogged about the joke that is TSA, but the full-blown ten-alarm freak-outs that happen go beyond the Homeland Security Dept. or even the federal authorities more generally.
In the last few days, Connecticut has been host to a rash of ridiculous overreactions. A week ago a white powder was reported found at a Meriden courthouse (WebCite cached article). A few days later, a white powder was found at a school in Enfield, and a lockdown ensued (cached). And a white powder arrived at schools in Newington and Madison, today (cached).
I honestly question the official reactions to all of these events. Sure, these things all “might have” turned out to be serious. Those mysterious “white powders” certainly could have been pathogenic or toxic agents that “might” have sickened or killed people.
But in all of these cases — and in many others that I could have listed here, but didn’t bother to — they weren’t. Officials were right to test the powders to find out if they were dangerous … but it turns out, they were harmless. (Curiously, even after testing, we seem never to be told what these things actually turned out to have been. Hmm.)
I seriously question the wisdom of “locking down” a school where a “white powder” has been found. Is it really that great of an idea to lock children into the very same building in which a substance one initially assumes to be dangerous was found? Really!? Somehow I don’t think so. Call me crazy, but I would think you’d want them outside that building, and as far from it as you could get them — if, that is, you truly believed that the mysterious white powder had the potential to kill them.
Also I seriously question the wisdom of closing a courthouse for a day … after it was found that a mysterious white powder was determined not to have been dangerous. What is the point of that? There was never any danger, hence, there’s no reason to continue acting as though there had been one. Grown adults are capable of pulling on their “big boy pants” (or “big girl pants,” as the case may be) and getting back to fucking work, once they realized they’d been hoaxed.
And that, of course, is what this is about. Officials can’t — or won’t — admit they’ve been fooled by things like this. They want us to know they’re “protecting” us; the only way to do that is for them to act as though everything weird that happens is an apocalypse-in-the-making. When they end up with egg on their faces, they can’t just admit they were swindled; they have to behave as though the danger remained — even though they (and we!) damned well know there never had been one in the first place.
I know the old mantra of the “security theater” perpetrators is, “But when something like this happens, we don’t know it’s not serious, so we have to act as though it is!” To that I say, bull-fucking-shit. It takes minutes for someone to come in and test a mysterious white powder to see if it’s dangerous. If it’s inert, the problem is over; vacuum up the shit and let everyone get back to their lives. Why lock down an entire building, over a little bit of white powder inside one room? Why close a building for a full day, after you realize you’ve been swindled? Why the overreaction? Why the tantrum? Why the absurd dance of bullshit that goes on around these things?
I’ll tell you why: Because otherwise, people won’t be aware of our “security officials,” and they won’t have any way to exercise the power they possess. They do this sort of thing, in short, because they can, and because none of us can say boo to them about it while it’s going on. Really, it’s all very juvenile — but no one in authority will ever admit it.
Update: The rocket scientists in charge of these white powder freak-outs, are still freaking out — even after any danger has been ruled out. Some of the schools affected will remain closed for the rest of the week — even though the powder has proven harmless (cached). Why? I have no idea. I can only assume it’s in order to maximize hysteria and inconvenience in those communities.
Photo credit: PsiCop original.
, anthrax hoax
, anthrax prank
, anthrax scare
, enfield CT
, freak out
, freak outs
, freaking out
, homeland security
, madison CT
, meriden CT
, mysterious white powder
, newington CT
, security theater
, white powder
1 Comment »
The sorry outfit known as the Roman Catholic Church continues to reveal itself as a morally bankrupt monstrosity, but that’s no surprise to those of us who’ve watched it closely over the years. Just over a week ago, I posted a recap of all the evasive, sniveling, paranoiac excuses for the worldwide child-abuse scandal that’s rocked the Church for over a decade. Since then, the archdiocese of Hartford has defended its (non-existent) handling of child sexual abuse by its priests, by claiming — in open court — that the victims “liked it,” so it was no big deal … and have persisted with this bone-chilling defense.
In that same time, too, another former Connecticut hierarch has weighed in on the scandal, demonstrating that he’s gone off the deep end. Retired Cardinal Edward Egan, who’d served as bishop of Bridgeport (CT), offered some demented and dishonest comments in a recent interview with Connecticut Magazine (WebCite cached article):
You know, I never had one of these sex abuse cases, either in Bridgeport or here (New York). Not one. …
I’m not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about. …
There really wasn’t much in the way of hidden. I don’t think even now you’re obligated to report them [the abuse cases] in CT. …
Well, the media everywhere made that the whole thing. I never had a case. And I believe that the cases I had were each handled just exactly as they should have been.
The retired Cardinal lied, in all of these remarks. It is not true that he “never had a case” involving sexual abuse of a child by a priest in his service. Connecticut Magazine itself had reported on some of them back in 1999 (cached). That he shuffled abusive priests around has been documented. I’ve even blogged about the case of Fr Raymond Pcolka, and about Egan’s dismissive, snarky attitude toward child-abuse reports.
Also, even more demonstrably, Egan is dead wrong about the diocese of Bridgeport having no legal duty to report child abuse. In Connecticut, all clergy are mandatory reporters of child abuse, and this has been the case since the early 1970s, prior to his tenure as bishop. Of course Egan knew this was the case. He absolutely knew it. But like any good “prince of the Church,” he chose not to accept that; in his mind, the Church is above Connecticut law.
But beyond Egan’s lies about his own record on the matter and the nature of Connecticut law, Egan proceeded to dig himself even deeper during the interview:
CT Magazine: In 2002, you wrote a letter to parishioners in which you said, “If in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”
EGAN: First of all, I should never have said that. I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong.
So, here we have a man who, 10 years ago, had issued a non-apology apology; but now, he’s taking back even that sorry, cowardly measure.
Way to go, Cardinal. Well done. I am so fucking goddamn impressed with you! Why, of course the worldwide Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal was woven out of whole cloth by reporters who gleefully fabricated all its details. Why, of course, it’s all a horrid fiction, cooked up by the media because it was so “easy” for them to do. Why, you’re absolutely right, Cardinal; and the media are, of course, completely wrong to have so maligned you over nothing.
And congratulations to all the Catholics out there who remain steadfastly loyal to this reprehensible, Mafia-like crew who are shepherding you through life. I admire the tenacity with which you actively defend these cretins and monsters. I’m sure it’s hard work trying to justify and rationalize their evil behavior and their lies about it. You must be so proud!
Photo credit: Archdiocese of New York Web site.
Tags: bridgeport CT
, cardinal edward egan
, cardinal egan
, catholic church
, catholic clerical abuse scandal
, catholic clerical child abuse
, child abuse
, clerical child abuse
, diocese of bridgeport
, edward cardinal egan
, edward egan
, priestly pedophilia
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
3 Comments »
The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Hartford has a number of problems on its hands. It has several misbehaving priests to deal with, in addition to its campaign to control the state of Connecticut. One would think that Archbishop Mansell would be working to address these and other issues — such as the continuing lawsuits and controversy over a deceased pedophile doctor at St Francis Hospital in Hartford (cached). But if one thinks that, one would be wrong. It turns out that the archdiocese has a much larger agenda, which includes an effort to promote abstinence among gays in Connecticut, as the Hartford Courant reports (WebCite cached article):
The Hartford Archdiocese wants gays and lesbians to practice abstinence in the new year.
On Tuesday, the archdiocese announced it was launching a local chapter of a national ministry called Courage “to support men and women who struggle with homosexual tendencies and to motivate them to live chaste and fruitful lives in accordance with Catholic Church teachings.”
This effort is ironic; on the one hand the archdiocese is putting forth a specific effort to reach out to gays; on the other hand, it’s telling them they’re disordered and need to curb themselves:
Linda Estabrook, executive director of the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective, took offense.
Thousands in the state receive services each year from the health organization, whose motto is “Be well. Be yourself.” The ministry implies that many of them “are not moral and are not leading fulfulling lives, and that is not true,” Estabrook said.
Those of us with brains can see how insulting and backhanded this ministry is, but I’ll concede that the folks who came up with it don’t see any problem with what they’re doing. The Catholic Church is run by a bunch of celibate men; they probably don’t consider it unreasonable to order gays to be celibate, too. They’re celibate themselves, so — in their eyes — there’s nothing wrong with it.
This idiocy serves as further evidence of how out-of-touch with reality the leadership of the Catholic Church is … as though we needed any more such evidence. I think the archdiocese of Hartford should work on putting its own house in order before it runs around telling other people how to live. And this shouldn’t be too much to ask of a Christian organization. After all, Jesus Christ himself is reported to have said:
Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the great log in your own? And how dare you say to your brother, “Let me take that splinter out of your eye,” when, look, there is a great log in your own? Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye. (Mt 7:3-5)
How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out that splinter in your eye,” when you cannot see the great log in your own? Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter in your brother’s eyes. (Lk 6:42)
Time for the archdiocese to put Jesus’ own teachings into effect, and straighten out their own act before ordering other people around.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
, archdiocese of hartford
, catholic church
, roman catholic
, roman catholic church
Halloween seems to bring out the ridiculous in a lot of Americans. And the mass media have more than a little to do with it. A common mantra every year is that children are sickened and sometimes killed by trick-or-treat candy, every year, because they ingested a “treat” that had been poisoned. Unfortunately for this all-too-common myth, it simply is not true (WebCite cached article). This year, the concern voiced by local media here in Connecticut is not toxic treats, but sex offenders. For instance, WTIC-AM 1080 in Hartford offers this proud announcement that the state plans to head off this danger (cached):
Connecticut Department of Correction parole officers will be conducting unannounced home visits and surveillance of the roughly 250 sex offenders under their supervision, for Halloween.
Offenders have been advised to have no contact with minors, keep their outside lights off, and not answer the door for trick or treaters.
And the venerable Hartford Courant dutifully carries a virtually-identical story (cached):
Trick-or-treaters may not be the only ones showing up on Connecticut doorsteps this Halloween.
Parole officers will make unannounced visits to sex offenders’ homes, although the offenders may not know it, the Department of Correction announced Thursday.
They’ll be watching to make sure offenders are not having contact with minors — even those who show up at their homes. The sex offenders have been told to keep their outside lights off and refrain from answering their doors, the agency stated in a press release.
Right at the start, let me state that there is clearly a potential danger here, that some child might unknowingly knock on the door of a sex offender. Clearly that’s possible. I don’t deny it, not in the slightest.
But let’s put this in perspective. It’s exceedingly rare for any child to go trick-or-treating alone, not to mention unsupervised. (We used to go out by ourselves when I was a kid, but that never happens these days. More’s the pity.) The chances that any given sex offender might answer the door and be faced with a lone trick-or-treater he might be able to molest, are extremely remote.
Making this an even more improbable scenario, please note that we’re talking about 250 sex offenders. Yes, that’s 250 … in a state with a population in excess of 3.5 million! The average child in Connecticut will not even go near a sex offender’s home in the first place. A child trick-or-treating at 25 homes (for instance) has a 0.179% chance of encountering a sex offender. That’s right, not even .2 percent of a chance.
(Updated to add: My figures here are wrong. CT has an average household size of 2.52. This means the odds of a trick-or-treater encountering a sex offender while visiting 25 homes, is actually 0.45%. Higher than I cited, but still certainly not significant.)
Talk about a ridiculous non-story. Give me a fucking break!
P.S. In the world of Christian religionism, it turns out that some of them are more than a bit miffed that Halloween is too non-Christian a holiday. So they’ve launched a campaign to celebrate Jesus Ween instead (cached). Yes, you read that right: Jesus Ween (cached). The less said about that, the better, I think … !
Photo credit: De’Nick’nise.
, connecticut department of corrections
, correction department
, jesus ween
, journalism fail
, lazy journalism
, moral panic
, sex offenders
, trick or treat
, trick or treating
, urban legend
3 Comments »
My home state of Connecticut, known as “the Land of Steady Habits,” has a reputation for being a state full of people who don’t like rocking the boat. And it is. But oddly enough, in spite of that, the Nutmeg State has more than its share of annoying gadlfies and cranks who love nothing more than to make pests of themselves and make demands of everyone else. Perhaps the most famous of these is Ralph Nader, a native of Winsted, CT, but there are plenty of other such folks — and thankfully most of them are not anywhere near as well known.
Among these is community organizer-turned-hyperreligious wingnut Ned Coll. The Greenwich Time reports Coll is now waging a crusade to get prayer back into public schools (WebCite cached article):
The divorced father of two from the tiny Litchfield County hamlet of Barkhamsted is adopting the cause of reinstating prayer in public schools.
In the beating July sun and wearing wooden prayer beads from the religious shrine of Fatima in Portugal, Coll waved a sign calling for a spiritual renewal to passing motorists on West Putnam Avenue at the state line.
“Our children are not getting guidance in this nation,” Coll said. “We better start trying to get vocal prayer in all public schools and private homes.”
Coll is consciously repeating his own past activism:
It’s a reprisal of sorts of Coll’s famous hike along the Connecticut coast, where he championed open beach access during the 1970s and 1980s.
I have no idea how he plans to get prayer into public schools, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court has forbidden it — in Engel v. Vitale (1962), which was subsequently backed up by later decisions Wallace v. Jaffree (1985) and Lee v. Weisman (1992). Does Coll really think he’s somehow bigger than the Supreme Court? (My guess is, he does!)
For all his righteousness and professed love of God, Coll curiously has trouble obeying the law. He’s been arrested more than once over the last couple of years, on various minor charges (cached). Also note that this paragon and champion of piety is “twice divorced,” according to the G.T. article. I really love it when brazen fucking hypocrites speak up for Jesus! Don’t you?
One last item of note about Ned Coll: As I said, he was once a community organizer. A professional community organizer. The founder of a Hartford group called the Revitalization Corps. Here’s a short Time magazine profile of him from the early ’70s. That’s right, folks. This militant Christian and staunch advocate for the Religious Right, started out as an urban community organizer … just like someone else whom the R.R. despises for having once been an urban community organizer. Can you guess who that is?
If Coll wants all Americans to pray to his God, then I suggest he starts with me. Come here, Mr Coll, and make me pray. Go ahead. Give it a shot.
Photo credit: Helen Neafsey / Greenwich Time.
Tags: community organizer
, greenwich CT
, ned coll
, prayer in public schools
, public school prayer
, public school prayers
4 Comments »