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5/19/2010

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

As Florida’s frightfully conservative battleground gets bloodier and bloodier – see last week’s announcement that Tampa will be hosting the pasty-white belly bump known as the Republican National Convention in 2012, and then sigh audibly – the limbo/fallout produced by the last Hail Mary of this year’s state legislative session requiring first-trimester ultrasounds for those seeking abortions continues to fog up the air with hope, anger and uncertainty. HB 1143, an otherwise innocuous health care proposition, was impregnated at the last minute by Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, with demon twin anti-abortion amendments undoubtedly to curry favor with a right-shifting Republican base. But then governor Charlie Crist went rogue before he could sign the knocked-up bill into law, leaving a glint of political possibility that the man-with-the-tan might do the right thing and veto the legislation. That hasn’t happened yet.

What has happened is a noticeable bit of anthill kicking coming from the left; Crist’s office has reportedly received more than 7,000 calls and even more e-mails requesting that the madness be stopped. Last Thursday, May 13, Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando upped the ante with a rally outside the offices of state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando. Participants – many with babies, some from as far away as Melbourne – held up signs exclaiming “Stand up for choice!” and “Protect women’s health!” while the downtown traffic honked or ignored. It was, at best, a start.

PPGO president Sue Idtensohn, while proud of the turnout that included about 40 sign-waivers, hinted at something a little more unsettling. Calling the women of the state “vulnerable” to “men [who] don’t have uteruses,” she lamented that because of their vulnerability, many women wouldn’t speak out on the issue, even if one in three women nationally have had an abortion. “We need to get pissed off,” she said. “Conservative and anti-choice groups haven’t had a real beacon to rally around and this is it.” 

Randolph, for his part, warned of a Florida Senate that is “no longer a place of reason,” though he remained hopeful that Crist would – even if by political calculation – come through with the veto. He blamed the sad state of affairs in Tallahassee on a combination of weak legislative voices falling in line with increasingly conservative leadership and, gulp, the fact that the former chorus of media coverage has dwindled into the monotone of wire service pick-ups due to bureau closures. Because of this, we’re being dumbed down to after-school-special-sized generalizations about kids getting abortions for fun.

“The biggest failing is the assumption that this is an easy decision,” he said. 

“I think I’ll have an abortion this afternoon!” Idtensohn added, facetiously. 

Better hide that 50-year-old pill. They’ll be coming after that next, Nancy.

We don’t typically like to open e-mails that come with scripture verses attached, but toss the words “boycott” and “The Holy Land Experience” onto those oddly-coloned digits, and we’re halfway to speaking in tongues with snakes around our throats! Somebody going by the electric handle of “wolflover69” – saucy! – dropped us a line last week that he had already “sent to over 100 people, most of the government senators and representatives … .” What was in the letter? Well, let’s just say that it involves dogs and Jesus, appropriately enough.

Our sexually reciprocal (maybe?) “wolflover69” recently took a $5,000 trip to Touristan with his family, including his disabled mother-in-law. He did not have fun! Moreover, while attempting to bathe in the divine recreation of The Greatest Story Ever Told at The Holy Land Experience, he came across the most un-Christian of policies. “They refused to let us in with our service animal, they told us to leave the dog in the car (90 degrees outside) or put him in a kennel (not an option for me),” he writes. “The person in charge, hiding behind the makeup of ‘Mary,’ told us they did not allow animals of any kind in the ‘private property’ of their venue.” 

Oh, Mary! Wolfie snapped back that he was going to call the American Disability Association, and Mary was all, “go ahead!” He did, and they told him that it was a separation of church and state issue: meaning that tax-break-Christ-on-a-theme-park-cracker doesn’t have to adhere to regular people laws allowing service animals to assist the handicapped. The receptionist we reached at The Holy Land Experience says that the park does in fact allow dogs in for “the blind and stuff” but wasn’t sure if there were individual attractions that forbid canine intrusion. Guest services did not call us back.

Our favorite canine – and the one we believe – Wolfie dusted off his Bible in his defense. Here come the colons! “Genesis 1:24,” he writes. “And God said ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to his kind.’” Oh, “And God saw that it was good.” Take that, Holy Land! 

Poor George “Rentboy” Rekers. The anti-gay crusader’s European vacation with an oiled-up luggage lifter has bespattered his fundamentalist credentials. The Family Research Council, of which the 61-year-old psychologist was a founding member, is running away from his baggage. In damage-control mode, Rekers told Christianity Today that he’s getting “Christian counseling” from a three-member tag team to “fully understand my weaknesses” – which, according to his 20-year-old masseur, include a sensual “long stroke” – and is waving threats of defamation lawsuits in his critics’ faces to quash intimations of epic hypocrisy.

But Mat Staver’s Maitland-based Liberty Counsel wants to help George turn that frown upside down. While most other gay-bashers are hefting their clubs as they eye Rekers suspiciously, Liberty Counsel has come out in his support. So to speak.

Staver’s bunch announced that they’ll be “standing with” Rekers if he wants to file any defamation suits, dubious as those suits’ prospects might be.

We have to wonder about the spatial relationship involved in Liberty Counsel’s position vis-à-vis Rekers. Will they stand before him or is that just too risky? Maybe Staver would rather stand behind him, in case Rekers again stoops to demagoguery.

This week in geek: It turns out UCF boasts some wicked smart profs, and 2010 is proving to be the school’s coming-out year. Back in January, the journal Plant Biotechnology, which we totally subscribe to, published the findings of a UCF nerd’s double vaccine for both malaria and cholera. A month later, our other must-read monthly, Nature, said a team from UCF may have figured out where Earth’s water came from – an asteroid! (Hey, wake up. We’re not done with you yet.) 

Now, the New York Times reports the husband-wife duo Arlen and Diane Chase figured out how to map underground ancient cities … from the air! (Seriously, we see your lids drooping, and we don’t appreciate it.) Using lasers – oh, now you’re awake – the archaeologists, who we imagine look like Harrison Ford and Karen Allen, flew twin-engine aircraft over the jungles of Belize and mapped 3-D images of ancient Caracol, which was like the Manhattan of 1,500 years ago but is now underground. The Chases aren’t exactly modest, either. Says Dr. Diane Chase: “We believe that lidar [light detection and ranging] will help transform Maya archeology much in the same way that radiocarbon dating did in the 1950s and interpretations of … “ Zzzz – what? What happened?   

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