The Week in Review
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21 The week kicks off with a long-awaited boot to the belly of the Mormon church, delivered right in our own backyard. The instigator: Peter Taylor, a lay officer in the Federal Way stake (a geographic unit of the Mormon church, composed of all faithful families within the designated region). In 2001, Taylor was ordered to serve three years in prison after a King County jury found him guilty of sexually molesting his two stepdaughters. His shocking accomplice: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which a new King County jury has determined did nothing to prevent Taylor from molesting his stepdaughters, despite knowing about the abuse. Details come from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: During the trial that concluded last Friday, police testified how the church had thwarted their attempts to investigate the sexual-abuse charges by shielding clergy and insisting that any information they might have was secret under priest-penitent privilege. Lucky for all, the jury saw the church's creepy circle-the-wagons defense for what it was—criminal negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress worthy of $4.2 million in damages.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22 Speaking of criminal religious organizations: Today the Vatican made fresh headlines with the posting of a ridiculous new church document officially rejecting non-closeted homosexuals from the priesthood. "The church, while deeply respecting the people in question, cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies, and or support so-called gay culture," reads the document, posted on the internet by an Italian Catholic news agency, verified for authenticity by a church official, and scheduled to be officially released by the Vatican on November 29. "One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," the statement continues, handily ignoring the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply rooted heterosexual tendencies, opting instead to pin blame for the whole of the clergy sex-abuse scandal on gay priests. It gets worse: "If instead it is a case of homosexual tendencies that are merely the expression of a transitory problem, they must however have been clearly overcome for at least three years before ordination." Never mind the ludicrousness of the three-years-in-the-closet stipulation; according to Jesuit scholar Father Tom Reese, the whole of the Vatican's logic is faulty. "The Vatican is making decisions about the appropriateness of ordaining homosexuals in total ignorance of how many current priests are homosexuals, how well they observe celibacy, and how well they do ministry," said Father Reese to the Associated Press. "If someone is called to the priesthood by God but denied it by church officials, then it is not a violation of a human right, it is a violation of a divine right—the right of God to call whomever he chooses to the priesthood."
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23 After two days of pseudo-Godly crap, today brings the sweet and musky waft of good news, courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which today offered an update on the high life in Seattle since voters approved I-75, the 2003 ballot measure that directed Seattle police to make personal-use pot busts their lowest priority. Bottom line: I-75 is working, with personal-use busts plummeting from 500 in 1995 to a mere 59 in 2004. As beloved City Councilman Nick Licata told the P-I, the initiative "really put police on notice that we would like their time spent on more serious crimes." Even better, police seem to be heeding citizens' wishes, as evidenced by a heartwarming anecdote recounted to the P-I by Seattle resident Mike McDonald: A couple weeks ago, a "buddy" of McDonald's was smoking a joint in his car near the Pike Place Market when he was approached by two cops—who told him to put it out and move along. Hurrah for social evolution, in whatever passive-aggressive form it assumes, and here's looking forward to the next fascinating twist in the I-75 saga, which will come after December 8, when citizens will learn whom police prosecute more: smokers of pot or smokers of tobacco. Stay tuned.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24 Today was Thanksgiving, the U.S. holiday devoted to gratitude and gorging for sport. Meanwhile in Iraq, at least 36 people were killed by bombs (including one strapped to a suicide bomber who targeted a group of Iraqi children lining up to receive toys from U.S. soldiers), officials announced the death of six U.S. troops, and not a single American dignitary made the trip to Iraq to dine with U.S. soldiers. (Instead of visiting, Dubya sent his regards by phone from his Crawford ranch.) Which brings us to a question raised yesterday by Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat: Are we tired of caring? His answer in a nutshell: It certainly seems like it, with Westneat collecting damning evidence from Steve Reynolds of WorldVision, the Christian relief organization that's raised $9.5 million worldwide for relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Pakistan—which seems fine until you learn that's less than 3 percent of what the organization raised to help victims of last year's Indonesian tsunami. Westneat answers his subsidiary question—"Why?"—with a rueful nod toward racism: "[C]an anyone doubt that if a million blond, blue-eyed children were homeless or living in tents, we'd be moving heaven and earth to help them?" But as Westneat suggests with his recounting of the cynical old saying "One dead fireman in Brooklyn is worth five English bobbies who are worth 50 Arabs who are worth 500 Africans," the current restriction of empathy is a distinctly human phenomenon that defies easy explanation. The way we see it, when people are scared for their own well being, their circles of compassion restrict accordingly: Our world becomes our nation becomes our city becomes our friends and family becomes ourselves. When we're scared, such restrictions feel justified—and after witnessing the response to Hurricane Katrina, every American has the right to feel scared.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25 In much lighter news: Today brings the Last Days debut of our beloved Borat, the ridiculously racist and sexist Kazakhstanian alter ego of gifted British/Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. However, not every-one loves Borat, as evidenced by the legal threat issued by the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, who took grave exception to Borat's hosting of the annual MTV Europe Music Awards, suggesting Borat/Cohen might be serving political orders to tarnish Kazakhstan's reputation. True to character, Borat came out swinging: "Since 2003... Kazakhstan is as civilized as any other country in the world," wrote Borat on his website, www.borat.kz. "Women can now travel on inside of bus, homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hat, and age of consent has been raised to 8 years old." As for the legal threats against Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat couldn't be happier: "I like to state, I have no connection with Mr. Cohen and fully support my government's position to sue this Jew."
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26 Nothing happened today (unless you count the crashing and subsequent closing of the Seattle monorail).
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27 Nothing happened today.
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