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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: West Virginia
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 18,670

About Me

Cantankerous by nature, aspires to a genteel misanthropy. Interests include carpentry, organic gardening and sustainable living, history, genealogy, astronomy and paleontology, visual arts, lgbt activism. Caretaker for a brace of Scotties and several ungrateful, rescued cats. Addicted to watching sports and cheers for perennial losers. Education: I suppose, though some might think an MFA doesn\'t really qualify as such. Partnered for 24 years to a saint. Just lucky, I guess.

Journal Archives

ESPN's Outside the Lines report: Victims of Inaction

TRIGGER WARNING: I watched this ESPN segment in its entirety this morning. Some of the material in the video, which consists primarily of interviews with the victims, may be too upsetting for some viewers. Please take that into consideration. Having said that, I would highly recommend watching this report.

Victims Of Inaction
Schools' failure to investigate sexual assault allegations made against athletes likely violated federal law and led to more assaults by the same man.
Video link: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/11381416/missouri-tulsa-southern-idaho-face-allegations-did-not-investigate-title-ix-cases

Accompanying articles:
Athletic Departments Handling Sexual Assault Cases: Never A Good Idea

Sexual Violence on Campus: How Too Many Institutions of Higher Education are Failing to Protect Students
Posted by theHandpuppet | Sun Aug 24, 2014, 11:05 AM (0 replies)

Gift is just the latest victim of "corrective rape"

This is an ongoing horror for lesbians in South Africa. For more on the subject of "corrective rape", follow these links:

The Horror of “Corrective Rape” in South Africa
By David Rosenberg

'Corrective' Rape in South Africa: Targeted Violence Against Homosexual Womyn
by Udoka Okafor

Horror of South Africa's 'corrective rape'
By Nkepile Mabuse, CNN
Posted by theHandpuppet | Mon Aug 18, 2014, 09:54 PM (1 replies)

The tally for July and why I will not back down

Today's news that a 15 year old transgender child in D.C. was stabbed in the back during a disgusting hate crime should serve as a reminder of why we still fight. Why I will not back down. Why I will not play nice. I don't want a pony -- I want basic human rights and dignity for all my LGBTs brothers and sisters. For the LGBT kids who will be be beaten, bullied or left homeless. For the transgender child who will be attacked just for riding the bus. For all the women and men who will be fired from their jobs, denied employment, benefits, marriage. For every LGBT person who's not safe to walk the street, for those who are tortured and imprisoned. For every LGBT living with guilt and shame because they've been told being gay is a sin, an abomination. For every LGBT who will commit suicide because they feel life is hopeless.


NM Woman Allegedly Beat and Sexually Assaulted Teen Daughter for Being Gay
Thursday Jul 17, 2014

A New Mexico woman has been arrested for allegedly physically and sexually abusing her 17-year-old daughter for being gay. Local officials have enhanced the charges because they say the incident qualifies as a hate crime. KVIA 7 reports.

According to the Dona Ana County sheriff's office, the incident began when Magdo Haro became upset upon learning her teenage daughter was gay. Haro allegedly attacked the girl with a shoe and threatened to use a plunger on the teen to make her feel what it's like to have sex.

Investigators report that the girl said that her mother gave her three chances to prove that she wasn't a lesbian. Haro was angered by seeing her daughter in a baseball cap and demanded the attend church with her grandmother and refrain from wearing boys clothing...

...According to investigators, the girl also said she was forced to undress in front of her mother "show her she was a woman, and not a man." Her mother also allegedly demanded she perform sex acts on herself....

Teen convicted of attack on gay Detroit hairdresser at Motor City Pride festival
July 23, 2014
DETROIT, MI -- Christin Howard, a 20-year-old Detroit hairdresser, was beaten by a mob during the 2014 Motor City Pride festival, a gay pride celebration.

One of his attackers, a 16-year-old, on Wednesday pleaded guilty in Wayne County's juvenile court to assault with intent to commit great bodily harm Wednesday, according to a statement from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

Video of the incident taken by a witness showed Howard being attacked by, and attempting to fend off, up to at least five attackers -- he says there were eight -- along the Detroit Riverwalk during the annual Motor City Pride festival on June 8.

Howard said the teens and young men made homophobic slurs, threats of violence and derogatory comments about his long hair he turned around and was attacked.

Howard endured multiple injuries, including bruises and a fractured finger....

Police: Attack on 2 women after S.F. gay pride rally was hate crime
July 1, 2014, 2:31 PM

San Francisco police say two women who were attacked by five men after attending gay pride festivities were victims of a hate crime..

The group of men approached them about 5:25 p.m. near Mission and 9th streets in the south-of-Market neighborhood, he said.

"These two women were just minding their own business, walking home, when they were singled out by these suspects and attacked," he said.

The men yelled gay slurs at the women and then began kicking and punching them, he said....

Rob Ford Supporters Attack LGBT Demonstrators At Ford Fest: VIDEO

About six demonstrators protesting what they called Ford's homophobia turned up at Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough, holding signs that called for the mayor's departure from office.

"He needs to be held accountable," said Poe Liberado, who faced loud jeers from Ford fans. "His buffoonery is dangerous, his positions are dangerous and he needs to be taken seriously."

The mayor's supporters, however, weren't pleased with the anti-Ford sentiment, with a number of individuals getting into verbal confrontations with the protesters.

At one point, a few Ford fans grabbed the signs being held by the protesters, tore them up, and threw them on the ground, stamping on them in the process. One man claims to have been assaulted. Toronto police said they are investigating the matter....

Gay Man Attacked with Glass Bottle in Oslo After Being Asked if He is Gay

Keith Brooks-Bekkestrom was attacked in a park in Oslo, Norway by two men who approached him on a bench and asked if he was gay. Brooks-Bekkestrom sais he was confused about why they asked him but replied 'yes' when they did.

The two men then proceeded to attack him and when he fought back to defend himself a third man approached and struck him in the head with a bottle. Another man who was in the park with his family came to help and the attackers fled, according to media reports.

The man helped Brooks-Bekkestrom wash his wounds in a fountain and call police.

Said Brooks-Bekkestrom to Norwegian media: "They had to sew a deep wound, so I have a pain in my head. They had to sew over my eye, and I have a wound on his arm. I do not feel safe here anymore, it will take some time."....

Video: Ukrainian gay club attacked in violent neo-Nazi attack
8th July 2014

A video has emerged of the moment 20 neo-Nazis burst into a gay club in Kyiv.

The attack took place two nights ago at the Pomada club, and follows the cancellation of the city’s pride event.

In the video, clubbers are hurried into the building by a bouncer as the thugs approach from out of sight...

...The attackers punch and kick their way through the door before being beaten back and fleeing for reasons that are unclear.

Athens' police officers attack gay couple for holding hands
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Written by Sabine Brix

Two men in Athens have reportedly been attacked by up to ten police officers for holding hands.

George Kounanis and Harry Vassilakis objected to verbal abuse from the officers which reportedly led to the attack, with claims one of the policeman grabbed Mr Kounanis' hand before shoving him against a wall. He was told "this is what real violence is," according to the publication Lifo.

After calling an emergency helpline, the men were then referred to Athens' police headquarters...

..."We feel as if we're in a psychological maze. We feel totally helpless. We feel harassed by those who are supposed to protect us."

Police arrests following vicious transphobic attack on Soho drag queens
Elliot Herman
10 Jul 2014

Police in London’s Soho have arrested two men following a vicious homo/transphobic attack on Old Compton Street last night.

Drag artists and members of the performance collective Familyyy Fierce, Maxi More, Ruby Wednesday and Pretty Miss Cairo were walking home when they witnessed two men verbally abusing a young drag queen on the street.

‘There were quite a lot of drag queens out in London,’ More told So So Gay, ‘because it was famous London drag queen Dusty O’s birthday. We saw a guy being very loud and obviously drunk, hurling aggression at a young queen...

...Describing her attacker as ‘ginger haired’, More, who was not wearing drag clothes but still in make up, described how the man instead set upon her: ‘I have long hair which was tied in a top knot; he grabbed my hair, dragging me around for around three minutes while punching me in the head before police arrived and pulled him off. All the time, his friend was standing nearby, pulling him away but without much conviction....

Gatineau riverfront robbery gay bashing: Cops
By Danielle Bell, Ottawa Sun
Monday, July 14, 2014

A 51-year-old Orleans man, and another man who was thrown into the river in a violent robbery in Gatineau last week, are believed to be the victims of a "gay-bashing."

"He kept screaming, 'I know what you're doing here,'" recalled the man, who did not want his name used.

"He's attacking me, punching me, he's pushing me down. When he attacked me he was in this rage.'"

Gatineau police confirmed Monday that investigators do believe it was a hate-motivated crime, targeted against their homosexuality....

Canterbury thugs Landon Bruce and Jonathon Proctor jailed for assault after random attacks on innocent people in city centre

Two yobs who carried out “random and unprovoked” attacks on innocent people have been branded an "unacceptable blight on Canterbury".

Drunken jobless railway worker Landon Bruce and shop manager Jonathon Proctor, both 21, were jailed after leaving three people nursing injuries – including one victim losing his front teeth.

The pair – who were out in the city centre with a gang of youths in September last year– also attacked a man who was with a group handing out leaflets ”because they looked gay”....

And that, my friends, is just a sampling.

Posted by theHandpuppet | Thu Jul 31, 2014, 12:19 AM (9 replies)

What’s the Matter With Eastern Kentucky?

There are any number of DU groups to which this article could have been posted but because the conditions outlined in this article could apply to many areas of Appalachia, I decided to post it here. If you feel this article would be appropriate for another group please cross post because this is a discussion that needs a wider audience.

The New York Times Magazine
What’s the Matter With Eastern Kentucky?
JUNE 26, 2014

There are many tough places in this country: the ghost cities of Detroit, Camden and Gary, the sunbaked misery of inland California and the isolated reservations where Native American communities were left to struggle. But in its persistent poverty, Eastern Kentucky — land of storybook hills and drawls ­ — just might be the hardest place to live in the United States. Statistically speaking...

...Despite this, rural poverty is largely shunted aside in the conversation about inequality, much in the way rural areas have been left behind by broader shifts in the economy. The sheer intractability of rural poverty raises uncomfortable questions about how to fix it, or to what extent it is even fixable.

The desperation in coal country is hard to square with the beauty of the place — the densely flocked hills peppered with tiny towns. It’s magical. But it is also poor, even if economic growth and the federal safety-net programs have drastically improved what that poverty looks like.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his “war on poverty” from a doorstep in the tiny Kentucky town of Inez, and since then, Washington has directed trillions of dollars to such communities in the form of cash assistance, food stamps, Medicaid and tax incentives for development. (In some places, these transfer payments make up half of all income.) Still, after adjusting for inflation, median income was higher in Clay County in 1979 than it is now, even though the American economy has more than doubled in size....

MORE at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/magazine/whats-the-matter-with-eastern-kentucky.html?_r=0
Posted by theHandpuppet | Sat Jun 28, 2014, 01:21 AM (21 replies)

For over a century this country has been all too willing to participate...

... in the rape of Appalachia. As long as the factories were humming, the homes were warm, there was plenty of timber to contribute towards the housing boom, folks didn't really seem to pay much attention to what was going on with the people of those hills whose toil and sweat was making that happen. The law and the government were on the side of the mine owners. They hid the truth about black lung from the men and boys, who have died slowly and horribly by the thousands. They let owners skirt flimsy safety regulations or paid off inspectors, resulting in the deaths of thousands more from preventable, tragic "accidents". They poisoned the land and the water, leaving its people and their children to suffer from chronic illness. When the miners finally rebelled, the gov't brought in troops who shot them down like dogs.

It was never in the interests of Big Coal and its cohorts, both in government and business, to reinvest the mountains of money they were making back into the mountains of Appalachia. An educated people are dangerous to an economic system that relies on backbreaking labor. A people making a good wage, able to feed their families and with dreams of sending their kids to college, does not provide the labor force necessary to keep that kind of money machine humming. It is poverty that breeds the very kind of desperation they need. It is that cry of desperation you are hearing now. It is the cry of desperation and fear that what little they still have will, too, be taken away.

So let's not be quick to blame the victims of this national disgrace for their own victimization. As I wrote here many years ago, "The poor are not our enemies, the powerless are not our enemies, the hungry or uneducated are not our enemies. The ones pulling the strings in this country can be found among the uber rich and their corporate allies." So the question we should be asking is where were the leaders of government and business who took and took and took from these people and gave nothing in return? And where were we?

Posted by theHandpuppet | Mon Jun 2, 2014, 07:27 PM (1 replies)

From Hawai'i to western Iowa

Talk about a culture shock! That must be a story unto itself.

About eight years ago I posted a thread about the origins of the term "redneck" and tucked it away in my journal:

There are others who contend that the term "redneck" came about as an identifier of the rural working classes, whose necks were burned from working out in the sun. I think both definitions are plausible and could have arisen independently of one another but either way, it was a derogatory term to define a person of coarse ways, backward, ignorant, of the working classes.

Now where the two pejoratives "hillbilly" and "redneck" differ in usage depends on who you ask; these days folks seem to use them interchangeably (which they are not) though to me there are recognizable applications. For instance, a farm boy from western Iowa might be taunted with calls of "redneck" but he's no hillbilly, which is yet another rung down on the ladder of insults. Redneck is of class origins, whereas hillbilly found its origins in both region and class. It's the American version of a caste system. Am I making any sense here?

It's my hope that by discussing the topic of class-based language on DU we can rethink just how freely we sprinkle our posts with insults that denigrate by class. The irony is that the easy use of these terms as insults seems in direct contradiction to how we as progressives and Democrats define ourselves. I don't understand how folks can claim to be a champion of the poor, the working class, the union worker with one breath and insult someone as a hillbilly or redneck with the next. Is Sarah Palin really "the Wasilla Hillbilly"? Are the wealthy, Connecticut-born Bushes truly the "Texas hillbillies"? Is that really the best we can do?

I'm of a mind that one the best ways to combat this class war is to reclaim those terms in a positive way, thereby stripping those words of the power to hurt the very people we claim to champion. As I wrote in yet another thread those eight years ago, "The poor are not our enemies, the powerless are not our enemies, the hungry or uneducated are not our enemies. The ones pulling the strings in this country can be found among the uber rich and their corporate allies. They can have Ivy-League educations. They live in the best homes. They're still scumbags. I'll proudly take my poor hillbilly neighbors any day over their kind of trash." And until we fully embrace that concept, even mindful of the language we use and why, we'll never truly appreciate how we progressives and Democrats have been manipulated to point an accusing finger at the already disenfranchised. Neat trick, that -- and it seems to have worked.

Posted by theHandpuppet | Sun Jun 1, 2014, 09:59 AM (2 replies)

A matter of shoes

Odd timing, that. Right after I posted about the barefoot taboo I had responded to the thread about "A Connecticut Yankee in Appalachia" with a link to an old Life Magazine article that featured an impoverished family from Portsmouth. It had been years since I read that article but perusing it afresh, I was reminded once again how the issue of shoes became one of such importance and identification with class.

"I like winters more than summers, because you can shovel snow in the winter," says Mike Copas. "And I'm the best snow shoveler in town." Mike hides his money under his mattress so little Jamie won't find it. "But I don't like to," he says. "Mice get under it. I hate them things. They get in your food. Poop in it. I 'bout puke when that happens. They got in one of my old shoes once and had babies in it." Chuck makes $8.64 a week on his newspaper route, but quickly points out that "thirty cents of that is for insurance. In case I break a leg or die. It'll pay half my funeral costs." Last year Chuck won a $100 gift certificate from the Daily Times for signing up the most new subscriptions. He shared his prize with his sister Jenifer. They used all the money to buy clothes. On a recent can-collecting mission, Carrie earned enough to buy a pair of purple jellies at the Dollar Store. "Guess how much they cost?" she asks Jake. "Three ninety-nine."

"Jellies" were rather hideous, colorful and cheap shoes with the consistency of... um... what folks jokingly call "booger glue". At the time they were particularly popular among little girls.

During recess, although she is athletic and loves to skip rope and ride the swings, Carrie stands by herself against the schoolhouse wall while her classmates play. "The rich children won't let Carrie play with them because she's poor," says her mother, Dorothy, who dropped out of school after eighth grade. "Not real dirt-poor, but poor. They just make fun of her. I don't know why. Jeff and Mike, they're having problems too. The other kids have better shoes on and all this. And they make fun of 'em."

Shoes... no shoes... better shoes... it's certainly not a subject foreign to anyone but to the poor (and especially to any hillbilly poor) it holds a special significance. The irony is that Portsmouth used to be a center for American shoe manufacturing, an industry that went the way of the steel mills, the railroad, the industries that made bricks and furniture and scores of other goods. When my beloved grandmother, who was herself quite poor, passed away, there was little in the way of worldly goods by which to remember her. The old leather-bound bible with its handwritten record of births and deaths and yellowed newspaper clippings tucked into the margins, is now mine. An old composition doll in a homemade wedding dress, carried by the little girl who was my grandmother when she came over on the boat from Germany, found a home with my elder sister, who didn't mind that a missing hand had been replaced with one cut from cardboard. But the last treasure that symbolizes more than any other our funny and sad ways is now in the loving possession of my eldest sister: a pair of shoes. The tiny, buttoned, high-top shoes of nearly a century ago, the leather still supple from her ceaseless care. The shoes that told everyone that she, too, was a person of dignity and worth. Such a small thing, isn't it.
Posted by theHandpuppet | Wed May 28, 2014, 06:06 PM (1 replies)

It's the barefoot thing that pricks a particular nerve

Many of my friends used to kid me mercilessly about my "barefoot hang up". Now, I can only speak for the idiosyncrasies of my particular area but back in the day, going around barefoot was tantamount to a scandal. Folks were very sensitive about being considered hillbillies and to go out in public with bare feet was considered especially low -- it made you a "white trash" hillbilly, the kind mocked in the funny papers and cartoons. So no matter how raggedy folks' clothes might have been, they all wore decent shoes because it at least identified you as a better class of hillbilly. Didn't matter if it was 95 degrees outside, socks and shoes. And no sandals. Any exposure of the bare feet was considered a no-no. Hell, if you were going to run around barefoot, why not completely shame yourself and go all out by stripping down buck naked!

About 20 years ago a group of my friends from NYC and DC came down to visit with me in my hometown and the subject of the barefoot taboo came up. They laughingly dared me to prove that the locals, even on this blistering summer day, would all being wearing socks and shoes when they should be found in flip flops, sandals, or (horrors!) barefoot. I took that dare and offered 20 bucks to any one of them who could find a single person, man woman or child, who had broken the rule. I even sweetened the pot by including sandals of any kind in my bet. We hopped in the car and drove to town -- they, joking and confident that within seconds they'd dispel that barefoot taboo and me, confident that I'd never have to pay that 20 dollars. I had to be pretty darn confident because I didn't have 20 dollars, anyway!

So we drove. And we drove. Up and down the streets of the town, down 'round the park and playground then to the municipal pool, where even kids dressed in nothing but ill-fitting trunks and hand-me-down swimsuits wore their socks and shoes until the very last moment when they made a dash for the water. At that I got a collective "Uncle!" from my gaggle of friends and they never again teased me about the veracity of the barefoot taboo.

Even in Appalachia things have changed so much over the years that the rules by which we once lived might as well be remembered as mere fables. Flip flops and sandals are everywhere, though to this day I wouldn't be caught dead exposing my feet like that. The old taboos die hard.

I can look back on that barefoot adventure now and chuckle, though it bespeaks a sad truth about class. Even when folks know -- or perhaps because they do -- that they're part of negative cultural stereotype, an "ignorant hillbilly", they will determine ways to separate themselves as a higher class of the commonly ridiculed and despised. In most of our society folks display their means by living in McMansions or driving expensive cars. In my little corner of Appalachia and in my time, it required only one thing. A pair of shoes.

Now this is certainly not the dissertation on or analysis of the cultural stereotypes you might be looking for, just a personal anecdote. Take it as you will. There are just some things that are hard to explain unless you've lived it.

Posted by theHandpuppet | Wed May 28, 2014, 08:22 AM (2 replies)

Not just daily political life but daily religious life

In countries around the globe the two often overlap. The fundamentalist influence on politics with regard to women's lives becomes more and more evident every day. When powerful religious leaders preach that women don't even have the right to the autonomy of their own bodies we witness its political effectiveness in the rollback of reproduction rights and the shutting of clinics. These are legislators who use God to justify outrageous levels of misogyny and fashion it into law. These same men who think women have no place in the leadership of the church also believe women have no place as equal partners in the home, the workplace, the country. They know this because the Bible tells them so, at least in their version of it. They've got to preach it in the schools, implement it in the workplace, enforce it in the bedroom, legislate it in the halls of Congress. The following example is just one of the most outrageous examples of how this works: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/02/16/426850/democratic-women-boycott-issas-contraception-hearing-for-preventing-women-from-testifying/

Some might say I'm straying from the topic here but I disagree. What frustrates me is that there seems to exist either a lack of recognition of or an unwillingness to confront the unholy alliance of church and state in creating a misogynic society. We tiptoe around the subject as to not hurt someone's feelings. Well that's just bullcrap my friends and it's exactly what the purveyors of misogyny count on -- that we'll react well, like "women", not wanting to bruise anyone's delicate ego especially if it involves religion, even to the point of silencing ourselves. Right here on DU there are those who would contend that we have a choice -- we can support the war on poverty OR women's rights. We can fight for environmental protections OR women's rights. Etc, etc, etc. But not both. So women are asked to choose either the planet or their rights, or between the poor and their rights, or between income inequality and their rights. The arguments are posited as a choice for which women must make the sacrifice and too often, some do just that. Anything else is called selfish. I see it all the time on what is touted as a progressive forum. The fact that it should be a choice at all is a ridiculous, manipulative fallacy. It's apparently an effective one because once again I find myself embroiled in just such a debate on DU, watching way too many women fall into that same old trap, rushing to the defense of an avowed and powerful misogynist and homophobe because we must sublimate the cause of our basic human rights to whatever causes supersede them... and that list seems endless. I've got news for some of those folks --as long as we are so willing to make the sacrifice there are those who are more than willing to take it. Our turn will never come if we validate and empower the very people whose aim is to oppress us. Those in power will not grant us respect for being acquiescent; they will only despise us the more for it.

If we want to formulate strategies for how to reform a society shaped by misogynic dogmas that are in turn enforced by legislated policies, we simply must face the fact that patriarchal religions have way too much influence in the political sphere. (That holds true no matter where you go or what you believe.) We can't afford to ignore this elephant in the room, hoping that if we don't make eye contact it will miraculously disappear. The more we hint at any trepidation in confronting this issue the more WOMEN WILL DIE. Not at some point in the distant future -- TODAY, tomorrow, and every tomorrow after that. They will die because too many boys and men are indoctrinated from birth that women are lesser human beings, that women's lives and bodies were created to service their needs, that a woman's value can only be measured by the degree to which she is willing to sacrifice herself on the altar of what we are told is "the greater good".

Posted by theHandpuppet | Sun May 25, 2014, 08:58 AM (1 replies)

Okay, I need some feedback from this group regarding an article

First of all, let me get this out of the way: Alice Ely Chapman is a remarkable philanthropist for her Appalachian community and the world certainly could use a few more people of such resource and dedication. The programs she has initiated and supported in Washington County, Ohio will undoubtedly return their investment an hundredfold.

The article to which I'm referring is:
A Connecticut Yankee in Appalachia
by Howard Husock
Alice Ely Chapman wages a one-woman war on poverty.
Spring 2014

The struggle I'm having with the article is the tone in which I perceive it is written. Perhaps it's just me. I went to bed last night really bothered by the nagging feeling that as Appalachians we had just received a good dose of condescension. I had hoped that if I gave it a fresh look this morning my hackles would smooth. Unfortunately, after several readings I'm still bothered by the slant of this article. Perhaps what I really need is some feedback from others here because I now question my objectivity.

Those of us who've posted here have pretty freely discussed some dire issues facing Appalachia: poverty, unemployment, drugs, lack of educational opportunities et al. It's when those problems are presented in the manner I have illustrated by the excerpts below I have to ask, "Who the hell do you think you're talking to?"

All this dysfunctional behavior—the disordered families, the aversion to work, the welfare dependency, the drugs and violence—is what Marietta leaders mean when they use the euphemistic phrase “Appalachian values.” Social thinker Edward Banfield, in his classic book The Unheavenly City, described something similar when he wrote of chaotic lives marked by “present orientation”—that is, unable to plan rationally for the future and addicted to immediate gratification. Sociologist Joseph Howell called the conduct “hard living.” Economist Thomas Sowell has gone so far as to suggest that the values of the poor, antebellum Scotch-Irish Southern whites who settled the region became the cultural norms into which poor African-Americans eventually assimilated. Appalachian values, he believes, were imprinted on black culture, with the urban underclass its cultural product. City treasurer Harper links the drug and alcohol abuse among the young to what she calls “community disorganization.” Around here, bad choices are so common that people just accept them as normal.

To me, the paragraph above seems to smack of the worst kind of stereotyping. To add further insult to injury, the author then proceeds to fold these descriptors into what is described as "black culture" (and here we must assume the author is referring to the litany of our moral failings, such as "the disordered families, the aversion to work, the welfare dependency, the drugs and violence"). I'm sorry, but to me that's racist, plain and simple. It's also a theme parroted more than once in the article.

The moral judgments seeded throughout this piece -- But school officials say that they are battling powerful and destructive forces in the community, with many students living in disorganized households with multiple children from multiple fathers. -- is the same lexicon employed against poor folks everywhere, not just Appalachia. Painting Mrs. Chapman as some genteel, cultured New England lady of breeding who stepped from the drawing room into a hillbilly pigsty rubs me the wrong way and I'm sure Mrs. Chapman doesn't view herself in that manner, either.

The efforts of Mrs. Chapman to uplift the youth of her Appalachian community is a noble legacy. For some it will provide a hand up but for many others a ticket out, further propelling the "brain drain" of the best and brightest from rural Appalachia. Therein lies the conundrum, because the underlying problems facing not only much of Appalachia but our society as a whole, remain. Income inequity and unemployment are the economic cancers of a people without hope. The people of whom Mr. Husock writes have been undone not by their own moral failings but by a plutocracy that has abandoned them and then as if to assuage the guilt, created a alternate reality wherein the victims themselves are to blame for being victimized.

Well, I've had my rant for this morning. Just had to get this out of my system. As I suggested, perhaps I'm just a bit too thin-skinned regarding this topic or perhaps I've misinterpreted the tone of the article. I'd appreciate some feedback.
Posted by theHandpuppet | Tue May 20, 2014, 09:20 AM (16 replies)
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