Columns

Last Days

The Week in Review


MONDAY, DECEMBER 2 The week began with some thrillingly good news, as the United States Supreme Court announced it would hear a potentially groundbreaking challenge to Texas' homosexual conduct law, which classifies anal or oral sex between two men or two women as "deviate sexual intercourse." Today's announcement was an important step forward for the stodgy Supremes, who in 1986 rejected a challenge to Georgia's anti-sodomy law, ruling 5-4 that consenting adults have no constitutional right to private homosexual sex. But in the upcoming challenge, lawyers will urge the court to strike down Texas' sodomy law on equal-protection grounds, arguing that Texas' homos-only sodomy ban violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of "equal protection of the laws." The new challenge stems from the 1998 case of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner, two Houston men arrested after sheriff's deputies responded to a false report of an armed intruder in Lawrence's apartment and discovered Lawrence and Garner getting busy in Lawrence's bedroom. As Lambda Legal Defense lawyer Ruth Harlow told the Los Angeles Times, Lawrence and Garner were "punished for engaging in consensual sexual intimacy in the privacy of one of their homes. Texas' homosexual conduct law targets gay and lesbian couples while leaving heterosexual couples free to engage in the very same acts." (It's true--Texas carefully repealed its anti-sodomy law for heterosexuals in 1976.) If the Supreme Court does indeed find Texas' proudly bigoted laws to be unconstitutional, the ruling could end up affecting state laws on everything from adoption and foster care to marriage and employment. As for the challenge's chances of success: While Last Days would like to believe that Texas' discriminatory-by-definition sodomy law is exactly the type of state-sanctioned idiocy that withers the instant a sane, non-Texan ruling body holds it up to the light, two current Supremes--Rehnquist and O'Connor--were among the doofuses who rejected 1986's sodomy-law challenge. We'll keep you posted.

··Also today: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber formally apologized to the thousands of Oregon citizens who were forcibly sterilized in compliance with the state's long-standing eugenics law. Based on the pseudoscientific movement that sought to prevent people considered "unfit" or "defective" from having children, Oregon's eugenics law was on the books from 1917 to 1983, during which time more than 2,500 Oregonians (most of them mentally ill or mentally disabled) received mandatory sterilizations while in residence at state-run facilities. "To those who suffered," said Gov. Kitzhaber, "I say the people of Oregon are sorry."


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3 Just when you thought it was safe to return to the Catholic Church, today brought the public release of thousands of pages from the personnel files of eight priests from the Boston Archdiocese--and the results (reported by Reuters) weren't pretty. To be fair, five of the freshly exposed priests had nothing in their files to be ashamed of, while a sixth--Reverend Thomas Ferry--was guilty of only a garden-variety "double life," with the priest accused of maintaining an 11-year affair with a Massachusetts woman. But the last two priests--Reverend Paul Burns and Reverend Richard Buntel--were revealed to be grade-A sickos who the archdiocese routinely protected and reassigned. In a 1999 memo to the Vatican, the archdiocese revealed that Father Paul Burns had undergone treatment for "incidents of and a proclivity toward sexual activity with boys" after allegedly molesting at least six young men in Boston between 1982 and 1991. Despite Father Burns' well-known proclivities, the Boston Archdiocese assigned him to two more parishes, following Burns' "solemn assurance of his ability to control his impulses." (After leaving the Boston church in 1996, Burns pled guilty to sexually assaulting boys in New Hampshire, and now resides in the slammer.) As for Reverend Richard Buntel: After a decade of complaints from fellow priests about Father Buntel's use and distribution of cocaine, in 1994 the archdiocese was confronted by a young man who claimed Father Buntel gave him a blowjob in exchange for coke. After Father Buntel confessed, the archdiocese placed him on administrative leave, then paid $55,000 to Buntel's victim to avoid a lawsuit. Ultimately, the lawsuits came anyway--current estimates say the Boston Archdiocese may face up to 450 sex-abuse claims, and may declare bankruptcy as a result. As always, God is just.


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4 Readers may recall the saga of the Perfect Girl, the lucky young woman residing in an apartment at the corner of Broadway and James, where she was overheard having very noisy sex, during which she repeatedly hollered the word, "Perfect!" Well, today brought a mysterious Hot Tip from Hot Tipper Annika, who was walking to her car on Thanksgiving night when she found herself waiting at a crosswalk with a loud, hot young woman chatting on her cell phone. "She was obviously drunk," writes Annika. "I heard her say, 'I don't remember that part--I just remember getting filled out like a fucking application in an elevator.' She just kept talking about having sex in an elevator and how she stained her clothes." What's more, as Annika was driving away, she saw the loud, drunken woman walk into the apartment building on the corner of Broadway and James. "I have no proof that my girl and the Perfect Girl are the same girl," confesses Annika, "but I got a gut feeling." So do we, Annika. Thanks for sharing.


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5 Nothing happened today (unless you count Reuters' report of the Berlin arts center where visitors spent several minutes admiring the still-motion performance art of a 24-year-old woman splayed on the pavement before realizing the woman was a suicide who'd leapt from a window above).


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6 This morning, thanks to the miracle of E!, Last Days had the privilege of watching Winona Ryder receive sentencing for her twin convictions of felony theft and vandalism. After being denounced by the judge for failing to show the tiniest remorse or take any responsibility for her criminal actions, Winona was given three years' probation and ordered to perform 480 hours of community service. Among the communities to be serviced by Ms. Ryder are a ward for babies with AIDS and a home for blind children. And while Last Days fully approves of Winona Ryder tending to ailing babies, her placement in a home for blind children is an obvious mistake, as it will be far too easy for her to swipe their stuff.


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7 Tonight at midnight, the Strangercrombie & Felch Holiday Auction came to a close, with the final tally hitting a whopping $8,000, virtually all of which will go directly to Northwest Harvest. Highest closing bid: $2,030 for the design-your-own Stranger cover. Most dramatic bid: $435 for the God of Chop Suey gift pack, purchased by former Seattleite now living in Japan, who'll fly back to Seattle for his one-night gig as a Chop Suey DJ. Biggest surprise: $880 for the made-to-order, one-page Stranger profile; in the past, editorial favors from Stranger staffers have gone for as little as three cigarette butts and some string. Best deals: $265 for the new DVD player and 20 movie rentals from Scarecrow (a $375 value); $333 for the $500 Easy Street Records shopping spree; $61 for the Jackass gift pack featuring a brand-new skateboard from Crescent Down Boards (a $125 value); and $11.08 for the brand-new Pottery Barn menorah (a $60 value). Thanks to all who made Strangercrombie & Felch such a freakish success.


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 Nothing happened today (unless you count the Imaculada Concepción).

Send Hot Tips to lastdays@thestranger.com.

 

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