Culture: July 2009 Archives

If you follow BatesLine on Twitter (and you should), you'll have seen my tweet yesterday about Americans United for Life live-blogging the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. AUL has a legal focus, researching state and federal legislation, court cases, and court nominations that affect issues like abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.

As soon as the nomination was announced AUL launched Sotomayor411, which provides the paper trail to show that, as bad as Justice David Souter has been on life issues, Sotomayor would be far worse. Another site,, listed AUL's top ten questions for senators to ask the nominee and asked readers to vote for their favorite.

Veteran pro-life blogger Dawn Eden, AUL's Senior Fellow for Publications and New Media Outreach, is providing the Judiciary Committee play-by-play, with commentary from AUL president Charmaine Yoest. Eden is well-known for her thorough research on pro-life issues and for her knack for brevity, honed by years of headline writing for New York tabloids.

Here are a couple of updates from Okla. Sen. Tom Coburn's questioning of Sotomayor:

12:24 p.m. - Coburn continues critiquing Sotomayor's past statements. "You've taken the oath already twice, and if confirmed, will take it again." Reminds her of what the oath says -- "I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties ..." Notes that it doesn't reference foreign law, whereas Sotomayor has said we should take foreign law into consideration.

12:23 p.m. - Coburn says concerns over Sotomayor's past statements will guide his questioning. Is "deeply concerned" by Sotomayor's saying the law is "uncertain" and her praise for an "unpredictable" system of justice. We want justice to be predictable, he says.

Even if you aren't concerned about the sanctity of human life, a Supreme Court nominee who looks beyond the written Constitution and laws to "empathy" and foreign precedents as a basis for her rulings is a threat to the life, liberty, and property of every American, whether born or unborn.

Beyond the life-and-death issues at stake in these hearings, what AUL is doing should be of interest to organizations looking for social media best practices. Just as food needs to digested down into nutrients to get into circulation and reach all parts of the body, a complex news story needs to be digested into pieces that can easily be circulated via blogs and Twitter. There are sympathetic bloggers and Twitter users willing to spread the word, but they don't have time to do the digesting themselves.

Many organizations blast out detailed press releases to bloggers by e-mail (too often accompanied by unsolicited high-res publicity photos). These releases often sit unread and unblogged because they require too much time and effort to digest and turn into a blog post. They can't be turned into a tweet because the press releases exist only in e-mail and so can't be linked. Brief highlights that can be passed along with a couple of mouse-clicks, accompanied by pointers to more detailed analysis and documentation, are far more useful to a blogger/tweeter and more likely to circulate widely.

As James Lileks tweeted, "You want to be quoted? Speak in Lego pieces, not bolts of cloth."

I have only one suggestion for AUL: Post some of the live-blog updates to Twitter (@AUL) in real-time, with appropriate hashtags (#sotomayor and #sotoshow seem to be the most popular) with a shortened link back to the AUL's Sotomayor hearing live-blog.

This morning an off-duty Tulsa city planner tweeted a link to a "memorial" -- a petition seeking the impeachment of State Rep. Sally Kern. A number of the 150 or so signers commented that they consider Kern, who is, like Pres. Obama, Gov. Henry, and nearly every member of Congress and the State Legislature, an avowed opponent of same-sex marriage, an embarrassment to the state of Oklahoma.

Here's the text of the petition, which is intended to reverse the damage that the petition alleges has been caused by Kern to the state's image and reputation (emphasis added, but spelling and punctuation left as is -- consider the whole thing [sic]):

To the Honorable House of Representatives of the great State of Oklahoma

The petition of _____________________, a citizen of the State of Oklahoma, and of the United States, respectfully showeth:

That, Article III, Section 1, of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, sets forth the article for impeachment and that in such article it states "The Governor and other elective state officers, including the
Justices of the Supreme Court, shall be liable and subject to
impeachment for wilful neglect of duty, corruption in office,
habitual drunkenness, incompetency, or any offense involving
moral turpitude committed while in office."

That, Jefferson's Manual section LIII, 603, states that impeachment may be set in motion by charges preferred by a memorial, which is usually referred to a committee for examination; and

The memorial goes on to set forth that, Sally Kern has displayed to the citizens of her district and of the great State of Oklahoma incompetency while holding the office of State Representative; and

The memorial goes on to set forth that, the actions, public address, legislation, views of Sally Kern have had a negative impact on recruiting and retaining businesses to the State of Oklahoma; and

The memorial goes on to set forth that, Sally Kern has committed acts of moral turpitude while in office; and

The memorial goes on to set forth that, Sally Kern's primary agenda is insight hate and rage towards the citizens of the State of Oklahoma; and

The memorial goes on to set forth that, Sally Kern has violated the convent of the seperation between Church and State; and

The memorial goes on to set forth that, Sally Kern has wasted taxpayer dollars pening legilsation that has added no value to the great State of Oklahoma; and

The memorial goes on to set forth that, Sally Kern has shown support to repress the freedoms, rights, and privliges afforded to the citizens of the great State of Oklahoma by states constitution and the constitution of the Unites States of America.; and

The memorial goes on to set forth that, In all of this Sally Kern has acted in a manner contrary to her trust as State Representative, subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury and oppresion of the people of the State of Oklahoma.

In conclusion the memoralist says:
Having thus submitted to your honorable body the facts of his case, your petitioner begs leave to observe that it appears from those facts:

First. That said Sally Kern is no longer viewed as a representative of the people of the great State of Oklahoma.

Second. That said Sally Kern has in the view of these people displayed incompetency in her ability to perform, enact, and carry out the duties of a Representative for the State of Oklahoma.

Third. That said Sally Kern has displayed poor judgement and moral turptitude in the her actions thus far as a Representative for the State of Oklahoma.

Wherefore, and inasmuch as the said Sally Kern has violated the most sacred and undoubted rights of the inhabitants of the State of Oklahoma, your petitioner prays that the conduct and proceedings in this behalf, of said Sally Kern, may be inquired into by your honorable body, and such decision made therein to impeach, to appoint managers to conduct the impeachment trial in the Senate, and to inform the Senate of these facts by resolution (Manual Sec. 607; Deschler Ch 14 Sec. 9) for trial and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the State of Oklahoma;

And your petitioner, as in duty bound, will pray.

Sincerely, We The Undersigned;

As serious as the allegations against Kern are -- violating "convents," moral "turptitude," "insights" of hate and rage, and "pening legilsation" (an act that looks awfully turptitudinous) -- someone needs to hold the authors and signers of this petition accountable for an assault on the English language. All y'all are making us look like a bunch of ignorant hicks.


Alisa Harris posted a clip from the movie On the Waterfront on the World Magazine Blog in memory of Karl Malden. It's a powerful speech in which Malden, as Father Barry, gives last rites to a longshoreman who was ready to testify against the Mob and paid for his courage with his life. Father Barry finds in Christ the courage to take his own stand in the face of a hostile crowd. It had me in tears.

I came down here to keep a promise. I gave Kayo my word that if he stood up to the mob I'd stand up with him -- all the way. And now Kayo Dugan is dead. He was one of those fellows who had the gift of standing up....

Now what does Christ think of the easy money boys who do none of the work and take all of the gravy? And how does He feel about the fellas who wear $150 suits -- and diamond rings! -- on your union dues and your kickback money? And how does He, who spoke up without fear against every evil, feel about your silence?

You want to know what's wrong with our waterfront? It's the love of a lousy buck. It's making the love of the lousy buck - the cushy job - more important than the love of man. It's forgetting that every fellow down here is your brother in Christ. But remember, Christ is always with you - Christ is in the shape up. He's in the hatch. He's in the union hall. He's kneeling right here beside Dugan. And He's saying with all of you, if you do it to the least of mine, you do it to me!

And what they did to Joey and what they did to Dugan, they're doing to you -- and you -- you -- all of you! And only you -- only you with God's help have the power to knock 'em out for good!

(If you're reading this on the home page, you can watch the clip in the extended entry. Otherwise, scroll down.)

Less eloquently, I tried to make a similar point in my November 2, 2005, column in Urban Tulsa Weekly on faith and political courage:

But faith is more than reciting a creed or performing certain rituals. Faith involves confidence and trust. During a worship service you profess certain things to be true about God's nature and character. During the rest of the week, your true faith--what you really believe about God and his dealings with you and the rest of the humanity--becomes apparent in the way you live your life, and particularly in the way you deal with adversity.

For that reason, what an elected official really believes about God's nature and character affects how he conducts himself in office. Someone who has genuine confidence and trust in God as He is revealed in the Bible will have courage and persistence in the face of discouragement, danger, hostility, oppression, and injustice....

The usual pressure tactics won't succeed with the politician who reads and believes the Epistle to the Philippians. He turns his anxieties into prayers to his all-sufficient Father. You can threaten his job or his wife's job, but he reads that God will supply all his needs. You can threaten him with removal from office, but he is learning, with Paul, to be content in any situation.

You can threaten his reputation and position, but he is a follower and servant of Christ, who forsook his heavenly throne, "made himself of no reputation, and took upon [himself] the form of a servant." You can threaten his life, but he knows that "to die is gain"--the worst you can do is send him on to his heavenly home earlier than he expected. He expects to share in the sufferings of his Lord, but also in his Lord's resurrection.

If you're a Councilor steeped in Scripture you aren't going to be deterred when a big donor threatens to fund your opponent; when someone from the Chamber or the Home Builders corners you to cuss you out over a vote, or when the morning paper does another front-page hatchet job on you....

If we want elected officials who are fearless to do what is right, we ought to look for men and women whose character has been shaped by confidence in a God who is bigger than any adversary they may face.


From 2005, some reactions to that column, including this from Councilor Rick Westcott, then a first-time candidate:

I also think that a person's faith gives them a sense of identity which helps ground them in times of trouble. Because I know who I am in Christ, who God made me, because I know He has a plan for me, it gives me a sense of identity that isn't shaken by those who might attack me. I don't need the external validation that some seek from others.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from July 2009.

Culture: June 2009 is the previous archive.

Culture: October 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]