MONDAY, MAY 7 Hello! Let us begin with thanks to the starry-eyed Ann Romano for filling this column during our two weeks away. Now we're back and ready to share this awful story from Minnesota, where a girl's subpar school performance inspired her mother to punish her in such a bizarre and severe manner that the mom is now facing a possible year in prison. Details come from the Pioneer Press, which reports the allegedly criminal punishment went down just after 7 p.m. this evening in the town of Fridley, where a crowd of more than 50 people gathered to watch a 12-year-old girl with a shaved head jog around the block dressed in a tank top and a diaper, sobbing. After a half hour of the girl's diapered sob jogging, police were summoned and confronted the girl's mother, 38-year-old Stephanie Broten, and Broten's live-in boyfriend, 34-year-old Darnell Landrum. "The couple admitted to forcing the girl to 'diaper duty' because she got an 'F' on her report card," reports the Pioneer Press. "The 12-year-old told police the incident was the third time the couple had placed her on 'diaper duty' for her actions." For their alleged actions, which reportedly included shaving the girl's head, both Mom and Uncle Dad were arrested on suspicion of malicious punishment of a child. "Even on the way to jail, they were laughing and thinking it was ridiculous that police would get involved in what they said was their parental decision," said Fridley police lieutenant Mike Monsrud to the Pioneer Press. The girl and three other kids found in Broten's apartment have been placed in foster care.
TUESDAY, MAY 8 Nothing happened, unless you count all the sane and progressive people in North Carolina who today were overwhelmed and humiliated by the state's majority of God-fearing, knob-headed bigots who voted to approve a constitutional amendment restricting the state's definition of marriage to the union of one man and one woman. As history buffs will recall, North Carolina outlawed marriage between blacks and whites until the 1970s, and it remains steadfast in its belief that every citizen has a legal right to marry his or her first cousin (of the opposite sex). But don't let history alone convince you of North Carolina's insistent suckiness. Consider this personal story from Last Days, who has an aunt who lives in Winston-Salem, a town named after two cigarettes, where the air smells of toasted tobacco, always. Not only did Last Days' aunt give tens of thousands of dollars to the ministry of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker in the late '80s/early '90s, she also believes the Walt Disney Company inserted backward messages praising Satan into such films as Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. This aunt's workplace is literally a prison (where she's a nurse on death row). The moral: Being a backward bigot in North Carolina is its own punishment. Onward.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 9 In better news, the week continues with President Obama's long-awaited evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage, for which he today declared his unequivocal support on network television. "Obama said he had long supported civil unions, but his position on same-sex marriages had been evolving because of the powerful traditions and religious beliefs attached to the word marriage," reports the Guardian. But today Obama made it official: The president of the United States supports equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. (Dear everyone who thought they had a better chance of seeing the pope do porn than ever reading such a sentence in a newspaper: We understand. Dear sensible cynics: Sure, today's announcement is just politics, but LGBT rights have never been a part of such high-level mainstream politicking before, so forgive our deep amazement and gratitude.)
THURSDAY, MAY 10 Speaking of impressive politicking: The week continues with the US Justice Department, which today filed suit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, alleging the police force "discriminates against Latinos, uses excessive force, runs its jail unconstitutionally, and has taken illegal action to silence critics," as ABC News reports. At issue: the sheriff's office's alleged violation of the constitutional amendments protecting free speech, unlawful searches, and the right to due process. "The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio have engaged and continue to engage in a pattern or practice of unlawful discriminatory police conduct directed at Latinos in Maricopa County and jail practices that unlawfully discriminate against Latino prisoners with limited English language skills," the Justice Department alleges in its lawsuit, obtained by ABC. "Latinos in Maricopa County are frequently stopped, detained, and arrested on the basis of race, color, or national origin, and Latino prisoners with limited English language skills are denied important constitutional protections. In addition, defendants MCSO and Arpaio pursue a pattern or practice of illegal retaliation against their perceived critics by subjecting them to baseless criminal actions, unfounded civil lawsuits, or meritless administrative actions." For his part, Sheriff Arpaio, the self-proclaimed "Toughest Sheriff in America," has vowed that he "will not surrender [his] office to the federal government." Stay tuned, this could get Ruby Ridgey.
FRIDAY, MAY 11 Speaking of the alleged abuse of authority: The week continues in Denver, where two moms who served as chaperones at last month's Manitou Springs High School prom are being accused of punishing "dirty dancers" at the prom by spraying them with Lysol disinfectant and calling female participants "whores" and "sluts." "Some kids say the spray got in their eyes and mouths and that they had to leave the prom," reports Denver's 7NEWS. "The parents, Jennifer Farmer and Hannah Rockey, were cited for harassment for allegedly 'directing obscene language to another in a public place.'" Also: "The women deny the allegations." As for the alleged disinfectant: Ms. Rockey's attorney told 7NEWS "there was no Lysol" but left open the possibility that perhaps air freshener was used to separate the prom's dirty dancers. "As an outcome of this incident, the district is taking steps to instruct parent volunteers on the proper protocol for chaperoning events," reports 7NEWS.
SATURDAY, MAY 12 Nothing happened today, unless you count the suspected drunk driver who pulled a U-turn in the middle of Interstate 5 and sped the wrong way along the freeway near Everett, causing six cars to crash and sending three people to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries (thank God).
SUNDAY, MAY 13 The week ends with Mother's Day, the "Hallmark holiday" that invariably accrues weird emotional weight for those of us lucky enough to have moms worth celebrating.
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