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On Peters and Principles
On Friday, September 29th, Congressman Mark Foley (R, Florida,) resigned in sordid shame. Years from now, he may be immortalized as nothing more than a name on a political trivia game card as the Janus-faced congressional crusader who, as Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, cultivated a type of political advantage usually reserved for those who smugly remind us, I know better than you about everything and therefore, should be elected President. In a perfect world, Foley and others before him – including President Bill Clinton -would be remembered, not for their peters and where they tried to put them, but rather for their over-the-top hypocrisy and for the gaping holes in their souls where principle once dwelled.
"Fellatio is not sex."
"Boyish prostitutes aren’t really whores, but sensitive young fellows who simply need a safe place to crash."
Surely, voters would accept, embrace and re-elect a Congressmen who ran a brothel out of his apartment? Is there anything really wrong with pimping out barely legal boys?
Their reasoning is anything but.
They take hedonistic Mulligans … "gimmies" to justify their "peter first" mentality with slippery self-serving semantics like "What is the true definition of ‘sex’?" or "I was so drunk that I drove off the bridge as Mary Jane Kopeckne slept in the back seat and drowned."
Fast forward to September 29th, 2006.
Congressman Foley, AKA Congressman Folly, took a page from the celebrity play book when he blamed his problems on everything and everyone but himself. "I have a drinking problem," he announced on his way to rehab. "I was molested by a Catholic priest," he confessed. "I am very sorry," he apologized.
There. All better. Case closed except for the Dems who are struggling to shore-up the scandal’s legs until Election Day so they can capitalize on the "I’m sick of sex scandals" backlash vote.
These politician’s peter problems are just a symptom of a much more dangerous disease that is ravaging our country. This is a systemic disorder, insidious in it’s subtly very difficult to recognize unless you really focus but it is there. It’s the abandonment of Principle, not only by "me first" politicians but also by their little lap dogs; our nation’s compromised newspaper and television journalists.
Read that which they write.
Listen to the talking heads who parrot away the truth on the orchestrated "news" talk shows.
All are obsessed with peters and those who wield them. They care nothing about principle. Journalists with intellectual integrity are going the way of true public servants and will soon fade away into extinction. The American Dream is turning into a nightmare, thanks to those who have sold their souls and abandoned their posts. Soon, there will be no more watch dogs to sound the alarm. Instead, the news business is just that, where the truth is nothing more than a commodity traded for ratings. The fourth estate now resembles an oligarchy ruled by media monarchs who decide what is best for us as they determine what we do and do not need to know. The royal court includes the pretty Princes and Princesses of Propaganda, the true lords of the American Press. And, like politics, everything is local. If you don’t hear it on the news at five, nobody else will. If we are spoon fed like brainwashed babies, how can we get the data needed to make informed decisions?
Case in Point: On Monday, September 25th 2006 my wife and I, both veteran talk radio co-hosts from Birmingham, Alabama (yes, the epicenter of the Civil Rights movement) were abruptly fired 10 minutes before the end of the 4th hour of our popular, five hour morning drive show. The broadcasting company failed to provide a formal explanation but the truth is that we were fired for exposing and continuing to talk about a dirty little Southern secret. Prior to being fired, we continued to expose that which should have been splashed on the front page of Alabama’s largest and "most influential" newspaper. Instead, the editorial page editor and the paper’s nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist looked the other way. Alabama’s most trusted television news journalist-anchor was a few steps behind them as they all ran away from the story as if their very paychecks depended on it. Apparently, they did.
The facts are that we weren’t dismissed for lack of listeners or low ad revenue or basement ratings.
We were fired because we did our jobs; we did that which no one else would do. We chose to expose something that was egregiously wrong, in the same state, Alabama, where four little girls died 43 years ago at the bloody hands of a gang of KKKers.
Here’s the bottom line:
The governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, is a good old boy who is running for re-election. We exposed Riley’s status as a long time member of the Alabama Grand Lodge of Freemasons.
So far, so good.
In the South, it’s common for politicians to be Masons. They are able to support the groups’ charitable causes by raising money as well as network.
However, there is something darkly different about the Alabama Grand Lodge that makes it stand out from the other Grand Lodges; the Alabama Grand Lodge stands on governing documents from 1876 that prohibit Black membership.
Plain and simple: they discriminate on the basis of race.
They are segregated private clubs.
No Black folks wanted / needed / allowed.
For the record, we declared, time and again, that while we personally disapprove of segregation; we believe that private groups (such as the Masons or the Boy Scouts) should not be subject to mandatory, government-imposed membership mandates. But, we drew the line when it came to a sitting Governor seeking re-election being a member of such a group. Yes, we did the unthinkable: we exposed and publicized the Alabama Grand Lodge’s "dirty little secret":
"No N——s Allowed In the Alabama Grand Lodge."
With apologies to The Tin Man, Dorothy and Toto, we had exposed the real "man behind the curtain."
There is an interesting historic footnote to all this. On November, 17th, 1999 at an Alabama Grand Lodge Meeting described as "an unruly event," one courageous member, Alex Harris, was shouted down by his fellow Masons when he rose and spoke out against their institutionalized racism.
Was Governor Bob Riley at that meeting?
No reporters or editors we have spoken to have the gumption to ask him. Now, almost seven years have passed since that "unruly" event, and the Alabama Grand Lodge still discriminates against African Americans.
Today, Alabama Governor Bob Riley is still a member, and so far has failed to denounce the racist resolution and do the right thing: resign from the Alabama Grand Lodge.
Exposing the egregious ‘wrongness’ of the Governor’s membership in an organization that discriminates against Black Alabamians got us fired. Those behind the firing were aided and abetted by the local press. The Birmingham News and the local Fox television affiliate remain silent, though they were briefed, by us, on the breaking news. The cowardly local press is made up of nothing more than intellectually dishonest journalists who gave Riley and the Masons and rest of the new Jim Crows a mulligan.
Was it a coincidence that we were fired on the Monday before the President of the United States came to Birmingham to campaign and raise funds for Riley? Washington-based insiders and advance men knew of the Masonic issue. Was it was political pay-back time for Riley’s delayed support of W’s bungled Dubai Ports deal?
The scene was set. The stakes are high, so those with overflowing campaign coffers and ties to the incestuous influence and power of the Alabama Grand Lodge pulled the trigger. How effective when the message is bullet proof; kill the messengers. Or at least get us off the air.
It appears that the President approves of or is indifferent to Riley’s membership in the racist Alabama Grand Lodge. Did the President encourage the Governor to resign and denounce the racist and discriminatory Alabama Grand Lodge? Did the President ignore the Lodge’s policy of discrimination against potential voters?
Shame, shame, shame on W for yet another monumental error in judgment.
There is only one logical conclusion: Bob Riley and the Alabama Grand Lodge did not hesitate to use Klan-ish tactics; they simply traded in their sheets for suits.
Like the Klan of old, the newspapers, TV news and other media in this state are cravenly hiding their eyes and biting their tongues, lest the new Jim Crow, which is of course the same old Jim Crow, becomes cross with them and withdraws advertising revenue.
We have yet to decide if we will return to the air waves, even if given the opportunity. The New Jim Crow mob, made up of the Governor and his minions, may flex their muscles again and make it impossible for us to ever find work again.
Jim Crow silenced us; two, outspoken talk show hosts who knew the difference between right and wrong and fearlessly shared our findings with the public. The September 25th, 2006 firing passed, nearly unnoticed, as the headlines were high-jacked by Congressman Folly’s dalliances. It should be now and forever known as a red letter day to mark the death of both free speech and American journalism. That which was once a bastion of truth has become nothing more than a well oiled propaganda machine that runs on influence and is clearly obsessed with peters, not principles.
Dr. Russ Fine is a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, specializing in biostatistics and epidemiology. He is also the founding Director of the UAB-Injury Control Research Center.
Dee Fine founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Alabama and eventually served as national vice president of MADD. She later became the first executive director Office of Victim’s Assistance in the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.