Every time Detroit seems ready to lift itself out of the mire it’s been wallowing in for the past half century, it sinks back into the ooze. The latest case of swampiness as usual in Motown came on Jan. 9, when the Detroit school board adopted a new policy that bans the naming of school facilities for living people.

No, the move wasn’t a reaction against erstwhile Congressman-for-life John Conyers, the octogenarian veteran of 52 years in the House who “retired” in December after he was accused of sexually harassing female staffers. Past school boards somehow never got around to naming a building after him. In any case, Conyers’ predicament certainly wouldn’t have forced such a change.

Instead, the target of the policy is that devious, divisive and deranged Detroit native … Ben Carson. Yeah, that guy — the respected neurosurgeon who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and now serves as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

The Dr. Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine opened in 2011 with a good bit of fanfare. It’s not often that a Detroiter who grew up in poverty with a single mom goes on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Yale and a medical degree at the University of Michigan. He then went on John Hopkins University School of Medicine’s  neurosurgery program and an extremely successful career as a practitioner.

The school’s website proclaims: “As a pediatric neurosurgeon formerly on the staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Carson was honored with the 2008 Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions. The school aims to honor the contributions Dr. Carson has made not only to the global medical community, but also as a role model for Detroit students with aspirations and interests in science and medical fields.”

But that’s not good enough for school board member LaMar Lemmons, who pushed the name-change policy. While the board’s resolution didn’t mention Carson, Lemmons was clear that it targeted the HUD secretary. To its credit, the board wasn’t totally sold on the idea; the motion squeezed through on a 4-3 vote.

He said his main reason for sponsoring the policy change is that the school was named when a state-appointed administrator had total control over the school district because its finances were in shambles. But he was clear that Carson’s political beliefs played a big part in the move.

“He is a so-called conservative Republican,” Lemmons told the Detroit News. “A strict constructionist is one that wants to take the Constitution literally. If one takes that as a stance, it would allow the enslavement of those of African descent. When you align yourself with (President) Trump that is a direct affront to the city of Detroit and the students of Detroit.”

Perhaps someone should tell Lemmons that Carson – like the vast majority of Americans – undoubtedly supports the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery.

While last week’s resolution didn’t mention Carson, Lemmons vowed to bring up changing the school’s name at the board’s Feb. 13 meeting.

What’s galling is that another Detroit school, the Bates Academy, really could use a name change. The academy, a magnet school for talented and gifted children, is named after Alonzo Bates, a longtime school board member who became notorious for using racially divisive language.

Bates won election to the Detroit City Council in 2001, but his tenure didn’t last too long. He was indicted for several offenses in 2005 and was convicted in federal court on four of five felony counts a year later. He was found guilty of placing four “phantom” employees on the city payroll: his brother-in-law, the daughter of his girlfriend, the mother of one of his children and a handyman who did work at Bates’ home. Before the trial, he pleaded guilty to not filing federal income tax returns for four years. He ultimately was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Other school board members didn’t tell the Detroit News if they would support a Lemmons resolution to remove Carson’s name from the school. But it will be interesting to see if they go along with the move without changing the name of Bates Academy.

I won’t be surprised if the board takes off the name of the respected neurosurgeon while leaving the name of the felon alone. It’s the Detroit Way, something I’ve seen far too often in the past 50 years.

While driving down Route 55 in Lagrangeville, New York (about 60 miles north of New York City) on the way to a medical appointment yesterday, I spotted a sign outside of Kelly’s Steaks and Spirits that sure lifted mine! The sign announced that they DO NOT air NFL games in that establishment and the sign further went on to say:

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

If I were not driving at the time I would have taken a picture.  I do not have the resources to go out for dinner, but that sign alone (in NEW YORK) is enough reason for me to want to check that place out if the opportunity to dine out should ever present itself to me. Predictably, the Trump Derangement Syndrome afflicting people has caused an outbreak of hatred and poor reviews for this establishment.  At the top of their page, Facebook highlights certain words they think we need to know people are using:

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

In New York’s 19th Congressional District (which I used to be a part of before a recent redrawing put me into the 18th instead), Steven Brisee was running among several other Democrats hoping to oust Republican Congressman John Faso from his seat. But Steven Brisee can’t seem to stop himself from getting arrested!

Steven Brisee was most recently arrested for Grand Larceny, a felony, after he was caught trying to steal $1500 worth of merchandise, some 50 items of clothing and housewares, from a Kohl’s department store in Newburgh, NY. Brisee has decided to drop out of the race after this arrest, but he blames autism and his lack of people skills for fundraising as the reason, not his criminal history. Although he did admit to a local paper that he had been arrested for shoplifting in the past, he claims his latest arrest was for criminal trespass during a pipeline protest. Via Times Herald Union:

Newburgh Town Police said on Wednesday that Brisee is facing a felony grand larceny charge for allegedly trying to steal about $1,500 worth of merchandise from a Kohl’s in Orange County.

Newburgh Police Lt. James Nenni told the Times Union that Brisee was arrested Sept. 11 on charges accusing him of attempting to take about 50 items from the department store. Nenni said a petit larceny charge was bumped up to a felony because of the value of the goods, which included men’s clothing and other household items.

But in an interview Wednesday evening, the candidate disputed the charge.

“Why would I be trying to steal something while running for Congress?” Brisee said.

The charges were reported by the Kingston Daily Freeman on Tuesday. Brisee disputed the charge in that newspaper’s report as well.

Brisee told the Times Union on Wednesday evening that while he had been arrested in 2010 for stealing from the Kohl’s store — Brisee was homeless at the time — he was arrested for criminal trespass on Sept. 11 for protesting construction of the Pilgrim Pipeline.

“Either they’re looking up an old arrest or I don’t know,” he said.

Brisee said his previous grand larceny arrest was dropped to a violation.

What isn’t in dispute is that Brisee was sent to the Orange County Jail following the Sept. 11 arrest.

Brisee said he was in custody until his bail was posted Saturday night by his step father. He initially was sent to Orange County Jail but transferred to Ulster County Jail to be held on a separate trespass charge stemming from an incident in Ulster County.

Brisee said he was staying at a friend’s house, but the friend had not told his father Brisee was given permission to stay. Two days before his protest arrest, the father had called the police.

With Brisee in Orange County Jail and police in Ulster County unable to contact him, a warrant was issued for his arrest in that county. He was then transferred to Ulster County Jail on Sept. 15.

Wait, what? Didn’t he say the trespass arrest was for a pipeline protest? Now we see a trespass arrest for illegally occupying somebody else’s home. But wait, there’s more! Via Daily Freeman News:

Brisee said he and some friends were in Newburgh protesting a pipeline, but he could not recall the name of the road he was on or what company was constructing the pipeline. He said he believes people waiting to work at the construction site called police, leading to his arrest.

“I was protesting a pipeline,” Brisee said.

A clerk at the Newburgh Justice Court confirmed the felony grand larceny charge against Brisee. The matter is before Judge Jude Martini and Brisee is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 6.

Brisee is being represented by attorney Brad White of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County who could not be reached for comment.

In regards to the criminal trespass charge in Ulster County, Brisee said that matter is in Rochester Town Court and was a misunderstanding. He said he had permission to be at a friend’s house, but the friend did not tell their father. The father called police, Brisee said.

Details about that charge were not immediately available from the court. The criminal trespass matter is scheduled to return to the court on Oct. 4, according to a clerk.

Brisee also said a 2015 misdemeanor drunken driving charge against him had been reduced to a violation driving while ability impaired charge.

So Steven Brisee already had an arrest history, but he thought running for public office was a good idea to do while he continued with his lawbreaking ways, and when it finally catches up to him to the point that he feels compelled to drop out of the congressional race, he blames an autistic lack of social skills, not his own criminality and an inability to keep his stories straight, as the reason why he could not garner voter support and fundraise effectively. Criminal behavior, lying, and blame gaming – kind of reminds me of another democrat (who even once held a political office here in New York).

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I’ve done a fair amount of blogging in this space about our Caddo Parish Confederate monument and the anti-monument hysteria that is sweeping the country, so if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to bring you up to date on our local monument controversy.

Ours is not like any other in the country and ours will be one for those who watch legal precedent. In most cases the monuments have been on public lands.  Our is not.  Ours is on privately owned land.

Our parish governing body, the Caddo Commission, voted last week, reaching a 7-5 decision, to remove the Caddo Confederate monument from in front of the courthouse after years of discussion and wrangling over the issue.

What makes our situation unique from other cities, at least as far as I know, is that while the United Daughters of the Confederacy owns the monument, and while the UDC also contends they own the 400 square foot parcel of land upon which the monument sits, there is no deed to that effect.  There is only a statement in the 1903 minutes book of the Police Jury in which they “give to the United Daughters of the Confederacy” use of the land and a large cash donation for the monument.

By the same token, there is also no deed on record for ownership of the land on which the courthouse sits.

The plot thickens.

The land was owned initially by the Caddo Indians but in 1835, President Andrew Jackson sent an agent to negotiate with the Caddo Indians for their land.  Larkin Edwards was the interpreter for the Caddo and was the husband of a Caddo Princess.  The eventual treaty included 645 acres of land reserved for Edwards but their other land was transferred to the United States.  According to local historian Eric Brock:

This included land from the line of the Arkansas Territory south along the Red River to Pascagoula Bayou, west along the Bayou to Wallace Lake, across the lake to Cypress Bayou, and up to the United States-Mexico border as defined by the two governments, then northward along that border to Arkansas again.  This area encompassed roughly the whole of modern Caddo Parish and a part of DeSoto [Parish] as well.

The provenance of the land has been in and out of litigation ever since. Supposedly, Larkin Edwards sold his land to the developers of the eventual city of Shreveport, specifically to a man named Angus McNeill; later McNeill transferred the title of his purchase to the Shreve Town Company but later said he had been tricked.  The matter was in the courts until basically everyone died and was never resolved.

Bottom line – no deed for Block 23 where the Caddo Parish courthouse now stands.

This will be a tangled web for the courts and certainly will be appealed no matter who wins the first round.

As soon as the Caddo Commission voted to remove the Confederate monument last week, the United Daughters of the Confederacy filed, within hours, for an injunction to stop them.  Also pending is a lawsuit by a third-party local citizen for a judgment by the courts to determine who owns the land. That case is expected to be dismissed as the citizen has no standing to file such an action.

It will all be fought in the federal courts and will go on for years.  The only winners here will be the lawyers.

The UDC is raising money for their legal defense fund and the Caddo taxpayer will be footing the bill for the Caddo Commission.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  In the wake of last week’s flooding in New Orleans and the epic fallout of blame that has deluged us in the media, it is worth noting that the mayor of the city, Mitch Landrieu, has taken no blame whatsoever for the disaster that left many city residents and businesses all wet.

Saturday, August 5, New Orleans took on large amounts of rainfall in a short period – in some areas up to nine inches of rain – more than city pumps could keep up with:

New Orleans is prone to large rainfall events during the spring and throughout hurricane season. The city sits below sea level and is protected by a complex system of drainage pumps operated by the Sewerage and Water Board. After Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans in 2005, the federal government sent billions of dollars to New Orleans for improved flood protection, better drainage systems and enhanced levees. In the aftermath of the flood Saturday, there needs to be an accounting of how all of those dollars have been spent.

After the disaster, through the week, the blame game heated up. Heads rolled. People were fired or resigned.  Landrieu tried to stay unscathed.

It’s important to note that Mitch wasn’t even in the city. He was at a conference in Aspen, CO for the purpose of beefing up his presidential credentials.   He didn’t address the people of the city for two days:

[When the flooding began], Landrieu was attending a “security conference” at the Aspen Institute and did not bother to address the people of New Orleans until two days after the storm.

In effect, Landrieu placed his Aspen Institute conference above the citizens of New Orleans. Any true leader would have taken the next flight back to New Orleans to direct the city government’s response to the flood. Instead, Mitch Landrieu hid behind his administration officials and when they failed to meet expectations, he blamed them, fired them and tried to convey to the citizens a false image of engaged leadership.

As it turns out, after a series of false numbers, 16 of the city’s pumps were offline or undergoing maintenance when the storm hit.  Sixteen pumps not working during hurricane season.

As of Saturday, seven days after the storm, Landrieu has still not reviewed Water & Sewerage Board log to assess the problem:

“I have not looked at the logs personally,” Landrieu said during a Saturday morning press conference called to give an update on the status of a turbine that generates electricity for many of the city’s pumps.

The Times-Picayune is calling for Landrieu’s head:

Landrieu must carry a lion’s share of responsibility here. He appointed public works director Mark Jernigan, who apparently never got around to using $3 million earmarked for catch basin repair and maintenance. The mayor also maneuvered Cedric Grant into his role of executive director of the Sewerage & Water Board as a way to overhaul an agency that has been described “as a den for contract-peddling and sweetheart deals for those with the right connections.”

And while Landrieu claims he had no idea things were this bad, his own people cry foul:

But the mayor’s version took a hit late Thursday (Aug. 10) when Sewerage & Water Board president pro-tem Scott Jacobs announced his resignation and criticized Landrieu for blaming employees when the mayor was well aware of all the problems before the storms hit.

If the public is angry with anyone, Jacobs said it should be at the Landrieu administration “for not saying years ago, ‘You are at risk.’ This is not the first time we’ve had turbines down. This time, we got caught.”

Perhaps this will be the event that finally forces Landrieu’s supporters to see him for the career politician that he is and shut down Landrieu’s presidential aspirations.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  New Orleans flooded this weekend.  Again.

A heavy deluge of eight to ten inches fell on the city in a short time Saturday flooding homes, cars, businesses and creating havoc throughout the city.  People in New Orleans realize that their city is basically a below-sea-level bowl and flooding is always an issue, but there is also an extensive system of pumps, drainage, and catch basins that work to keep what happened this weekend from happening.

Last year the New Orleans City Council approved $3 million to work on drainage infrastructure and repairs, however the Landrieu administration has not yet started repairs because they’ve been waiting on an environmental review…for over a year.

The Department of Public Works contends that just because the $3 million hasn’t been tapped, they have not been ignoring daily repairs and cleaning of catch basins.

Obviously drainage was not a Landrieu priority last year; Mitch was much more focused on monuments and equity circles.

In a press conference Saturday, Cedric Grant, head of the Sewerage and Water Board attributed much of the problem to climate change, saying this type of flooding will happen more often.

As their city flooded once again, many residents took to social media to deride Landrieu for spending money on monument removal rather than drainage.

For his part, Landrieu suggested citizens clean out their own catch basins:

“These no-notice rain and flooding events can be very dangerous, but luckily, there was no loss of life,” Landrieu said. “Today, we begin the hard work of assisting those who flooded and getting our streets passable for regular traffic. With additional rain expected today and the rest of this week, I would encourage all of our residents to clean in front of their catch basins.”

It’s admirable and expected that citizens to take responsibility for their own safety of course. There are over 68,000 catch basins in the city:

The Department of Public Works’ maintenance department is responsible for cleaning and clearing catch basins of debris. There are 68,092 catch basins in the City. Each year the City budgets resources to clean approximately 3,500 catch basins.

The broken and clogged catch basins have been a source of conflict for over a year as some members of the City Council question the lack of maintenance from the Department of Public Works. In April, a dead body was found in one catch basin and workers had to dig out clogs and termites to get to the body of Joseph Consonery who had been murdered.

New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, supposedly put drainage and the pump system as top priority:

Sewerage & Water Board officials have said city’s drainage pumping system is designed to handle an inch of rainfall during the first hour of an event and a half-inch each hour thereafter. Officials said all 24 pumping stations were on and working on Saturday. The temporary pumping stations at the ends of the 17th Street, London Avenue and Orleans Avenue canals only operate when the floodgates blocking water from Lake Pontchartrain are closed, and thus are not operated during a rainfall event. The three permanent pumping stations under construction at the ends of those canals are not yet complete, but will operate in the same way.

Officials said the city’s public safety agencies, including police, fire and emergency medical services, responded to more than 200 emergency calls related to flooding.

City residents are not satisfied with their capacity, however, as the social media outrage reflects. Even the French Quarter, and Bourbon Street, which seldom floods, was inundated and several beloved restaurants took in up to three inches of water.

Once again it seems that Mayor Landrieu’s priorities are askew. We can’t fault him for a significant rain event (can we?) but certainly it is under his leadership and responsibility that the pumps and drainage system are properly maintained.  And to send his minions out to blame the mess simply on climate change and tell people to clean out their own drains is, well, just typical of him.

If what’s in my catch basins are termites and dead bodies, I’m probably not going to be too excited about that project.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  I’ve done a lot of ranting and raving in this space over the past months about the rising crime rate in New Orleans.  I don’t live in New Orleans, but the city is one of our top tourist spots in the state and is known for many wonderful things like music, a diverse and fascinating culture and history, beignets, Mardi Gras, the best food in the world, and on it goes.  The city (and our state for that matter) has certainly had its share of corrupt and/or inept leaders through the years, and Mitch Landrieu certainly falls into the inept category in my opinion.

Landrieu’s focus has been on things like removing Confederate monuments and building Equity Circles instead of fighting the rising crime rate in his city.  Infrastructure crumbles, citizens grumble, but Landrieu continues with his own agenda.

The Advocate reported last week that as of this point, 400 people have been shot in New Orleans.  And I’ve often pointed you to the murder map, which as of this morning tells us that 103 murders have occurred in the city this year.  This makes New Orleans one of the most dangerous places in the country.  Simply unacceptable.

All that being said, there is no shortage of crime in my part of the state, either. The City of Shreveport, also led by a Democrat mayor, for what that’s worth, is in a spiral of crime and daily shootings; there is much senseless violence in this town.

Not a day goes by when we don’t wake up or turn on the news to hear of another shooting or murder. And what’s our mayor working on?  She’s lobbying to build a new arena (we already have two, by the way) in hope of recruiting a D-league basketball team to town (a couple of which have come and gone for lack of support).

The latest act of senseless violence in Shreveport occurred Saturday night at a Mexican restaurant. The family is known and much loved by loyal customers. The parents are immigrants, they and the kids are hard-working.  The children have assimilated beautifully: one attends Baylor Law School and another Louisiana Tech University.  The father died tragically last year so they’ve struggled onward, the boy left school to help run the restaurant with his family.  They are a beautiful example of the American Dream and what you can attain through hard work and dedication.

Saturday night, the boy’s mother was leaving the restaurant around 11 p.m.  Two thugs were waiting for her outside and demanded her purse. She screamed and her son, Juan, ran to her defense.  The armed robbers shot him two times in the chest.  He’s now in critical condition and has had his right lung removed.  It’s a horrible tragedy.

Two GoFundMe accounts have been set up for the family which have raised almost $40,000 in about 24 hours. One is here and the other is here.

But what are we worried about?  A basketball arena.  Our city is working under a huge shortage in the police department, much like New Orleans.

I’m not sure what the answer is: if it’s the mismanagement of city resources, the lack of jobs and a struggling economy, or maybe we are just more aware of these things these days.  Maybe it’s a combination of all of this and more.  We still have our Confederate monument – maybe that’s what it is.

What I do know is that the wide open spaces of neighboring Texas is looking better to me every day. Give me five acres of land in the middle of nowhere, a few cows, a couple of goats, some dogs, and I’ll be perfectly happy.

I don’t want to live in a city where young, bright kids with a fine work ethic is shot down for defending his mother.

I don’t want any part of it.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

by baldilocks

A real environmental crisis: it’s Raining Needles. Alternate title: Why I Stopped Wearing Flip-flops in Public.

They hide in weeds along hiking trails and in playground grass. They wash into rivers and float downstream to land on beaches. They pepper baseball dugouts, sidewalks and streets. Syringes left by drug users amid the heroin crisis are turning up everywhere.

In Portland, Maine, officials have collected more than 700 needles so far this year, putting them on track to handily exceed the nearly 900 gathered in all of 2016. In March alone, San Francisco collected more than 13,000 syringes, compared with only about 2,900 in the same month in 2016.

People, often children, risk getting stuck by discarded needles, raising the prospect they could contract blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis or HIV or be exposed to remnants of heroin or other drugs.

(…)

Needles turn up in places like parks, baseball diamonds, trails and beaches — isolated spots where drug users can gather and attract little attention, and often the same spots used by the public for recreation. The needles are tossed out of carelessness or the fear of being prosecuted for possessing them.

One child was poked by a needle left on the grounds of a Utah elementary school. Another youngster stepped on one while playing on a beach in New Hampshire.

Even if adults or children don’t get sick, they still must endure an unsettling battery of tests to make sure they didn’t catch anything. The girl who put a syringe in her mouth was not poked but had to be tested for hepatitis B and C, her mother said.

Some community advocates are trying to sweep up the pollution.

Rocky Morrison leads a cleanup effort along the Merrimack River, which winds through the old milling city of Lowell, and has recovered hundreds of needles in abandoned homeless camps that dot the banks, as well as in piles of debris that collect in floating booms he recently started setting.

In truth, this is merely a physical manifestation of the inner crises of all too many. These people want to escape from reality, become trapped by their escape route, then become heedless of all things — except for the next time they get a ride along the escape route. There are many means of being set free from this trap. One of them is death. In the meantime, more escape, more death and more discarded needles.

The most sinister spiritual component to heroin and many other drugs does not inhabit the users, however, but the providers. Even if all drugs were to become legal tomorrow, that would not change.

The question is this: what can be done for those who are caught up in this web? I think most solutions of the earthly variety are already available. These people need the Great Healer. Their inner environment needs to be made clean.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

Things are nutty in the Nutmeg State.

One of the bluest of blue states, Connecticut has more than its share of problems. According to Carol Platt Liebau, president of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, the state is mired in an economic swamp and has the highest bonded debt per capita in America.

Mark J. Warshawsky of RealClear Policy notes Connecticut owns “one of the worst-funded state employee pension plans in the country,” whose assets cover less than a third of its liability — leaving a shortfall of nearly $22 billion.

And let’s not forget the capital city of Hartford, which could face bankruptcy now that insurance giant Aetna — a corporate denizen for more than 150 years — announced plans last month to move its headquarters out of Connecticut for a more tax-friendly home.

With all these problems on its plate, the state legislature had no choice but to recently approve the nation’s toughest hate crime law. The silly bill, which supersedes an earlier law,  passed the House and Senate unanimously, so Republicans share the blame with their Democrat comrades.

Now the very idea of hate crime laws is stupid. Laws are laws, and people who break them should pay the price. Imposing extra penalties on the perpetrators based on their biases conjures up images of Orwellian thought police. There’s little doubt the rise of hate crime legislation has promoted the fracturing of society, as alienated individuals join together to form “protected groups” so they can claim victim status.

Among the reasons lawmakers gave for beefing up the state hate crime law was the supposed wave of such offenses that washed across the country late last year and in early 2017. Left unsaid was that the increase coincided with the candidacy and subsequent election of President Donald Trump.

If you follow only the mainstream media, you might believe that thuggish bigots emboldened by Trump’s campaign ran amuck and terrorized racial minorities, Muslims and gays for the past year. But folks who pay attention to real news know that almost all of the headline-grabbing hate crimes were hoaxes designed to smear Trump supporters.

So common and widespread are the fake hate crimes that it’s impossible to list them here. (Fortunately, there’s a website, www.hatecrimehoaxes.com, that has a fairly complete rundown of falsely reported incidents.)

What’s especially egregious in Connecticut is that legislators cited threatening phone calls to Jewish community centers as one of the main reasons for stiffening the law. As news accounts revealed nearly three months ago, two men — neither of them conservative — were responsible for the vast bulk of the hate calls.

Juan Thompson, a former reporter and dedicated Trump foe, pleaded guilty June 13 to making more than a dozen phoned bomb threats that he tried to blame on an ex-girlfriend. The other suspect is a 19-year-old Israeli computer whiz accused of making more than 100 calls, whose motives are still unknown.

The new Connecticut law toughens the penalties for hate crimes. Offenses that once were misdemeanors become felonies, and what already were felonies carry enhanced fines and prison terms.

But one key point seems to be left out of the law: There doesn’t appear to be any penalty for miscreants who report fake hate crimes.

Legislators can cling to their fantasies that hate crime laws will bring peace and joy to the populace. But until hoaxers are punished as severely as haters, the laws themselves will be perpetrating injustice.

 

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

Humpty Dumpty, Through the Looking Glass

Our Constitution is meant to provide the framework within which a government that “derives its just powers from the consent of the governed” can function to “ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Of course, our society is ordered to provide another institution apart from government to protect our posterity: the family. As society has recognized for millennia, the family unit serves the invaluable purpose (one of many) of providing parents to protect children from, among other things, making bad decisions that could have lifelong consequences.

In Massachusetts, we do not allow a child to drive until he or she is at least 16, to vote or serve in the military until 18, or to drink alcohol until 21. We all agree that children are not able to make important decisions for themselves until their brains and bodies have matured enough and they have experienced enough in life to have the proper context in which to evaluate consequences. So how is it possible that the Legislature is debating a bill that would give prepubescent children the legal ability to decide that they are the “wrong” gender?

There are actually two identical bills being debated by the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, Senate Bill 62 and House Bill 1190, both titled “An Act relative to abusive practices to change sexual orientation and gender identity in minors.” Now, of course, no one is in favor of “abusive practices” used on children, no matter what the circumstances, but the bills’ supporters, based on their testimony from last week, seem to think that any counseling aimed at helping children who suffer from gender dysphoria or homosexual attraction is, by definition, abusive.

As Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, has correctly pointed out, if the proponents are concerned about the use of electroshock therapy or other clearly abusive practices, then the bill should outlaw those therapies explicitly. But to claim that counseling a child to feel comfortable in his own body is abusive, while prescribing hormones that could lead to permanent sterilization or physically mutilating a healthy body is not, is just Mad-Hatter-crazy. This bill is set up to do the exact opposite of what its sponsors falsely claim it is intended to do.

So we find ourselves facing the very real possibility that the legislature will pass a bill that severely limits the rights of parents to decide what is best for their children, and the Free Speech and Religious Liberty rights of counselors and pastors who would seek to help children escape from these misguided feelings, even if the feelings are unwanted. I have a source in the State House who tells me that the committee chair is disinclined to attach a criminal penalty to the legislation, as if that would somehow make it okay. It would not.

We must oppose this misguided bill. If you are a Massachusetts citizen, I urge you to contact your State Representative and Senator to make your voice heard. At least they haven’t yet tried to take that right away from us.