Review: For Such a Time

For Such a Time
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Recommended for: Anne Rice; anyone who thinks that the dislike of this book is unfounded; bigots

I’ve read many books that I could classify as “bad books” over the years, but this one is quite special in how awful it truly was. There was nothing enjoyable about Kate Breslin’s debut novel For Such a Time.

First, let’s tackle something that was brought up repeatedly in the book and in its official descriptions. The lead female character Hadassah Benjamin (known through most of the novel as Stella Muller) has blonde hair and blue eyes. On the back of the copy I checked out of the local library, it is specifically described as, “her Aryan-like looks allow her to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller.” According to the official description on Amazon’s app, the description starts, “In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy.” On page 14 of the story, she is described this way, “Morty once told her that her beauty would save her–a “changeling,” he’d called his young niece, Stella’s blond hair and blue eyes a rarity among their people.” Early in the war, this might have protected her, but it wouldn’t have been guaranteed. When you consider that Werner Goldberg, the man who was literally the poster boy for the Aryan ideal, was expelled from the army in 1940 when it was discovered he was a “1st degree Mischilinge” and had to help his father escape a hospital in 1943 so that he wouldn’t be deported to Auschwitz, you can be sure that appearance wouldn’t guarantee the safety of a non-influential light-haired, light-eyed Jewish girl. And the supposed rarity of the trait is questionable due to the fact that now 32% of German-Jewish children also have blond hair. Brown (light and dark) and black hair each have slightly percentages than that. One would assume that the dark hair stereotype is just that, a stereotype. By focusing so much attention on the appearance of this woman who is also described as a savior, it is promoting a white supremacist ideal of beauty and moral value, while simultaneously justifying that ideal’s belief of punishing those who don’t fit their narrow standards of beauty.

Somehow her beauty is able to trick Aric into believing that she isn’t really Jewish and that the papers that have been stamped saying that she is must have been wrong. Aric will eventually blame her for not telling him that she is Jewish and for not telling him that she did not support the Nazi’s cause. This is after he has seen her traumatized at the brutal killing of Anna while in a camp. He saw that this broke her spirit, but he believes she still might be willing to support Hitler and his group of bigoted, sociopathic thugs.

Her beauty and position as Aric’s secretary also seem to convince every Nazi officer that she must be a prostitute. She even calls herself a “brazen hussy” when she is forced to kis Hermann in order to save the life of Joseph, Aric’s houseboy. And Hermann muses that she is a sorceress using her beauty to bewitch the Commandant into sympathizing with the prisoners. (Of course, Hermann also calls women weak-minded and mere vessels for man’s use, so he’s not exactly a great example of non-sexist thinking.)

Another serious issue is the repeated use of rape and assault as a way to threaten Hadassah/Stella into doing things & the underlying Stockholm Syndrome-esque quality of the relationship between her and Aric. When she first meets Aric von Schmidt, she tells him that the Gestapo assaulted her in some way and suggests that it may have been a sexual assault attempt. He classifies their behavior as a prank. Twenty five pages into the book, he threatens her with being returned to Dachau while he tries to seduce her. She is reminded over and over that she is essentially his prisoner, that she has no true sense of free will or personhood, but that she should be thankful for his saving her and for his attraction to her. When she has a traumatic flashback in a nightmare around page 47, Aric expects her to be thankful that he’s moved her to Czechoslovakia with him, but he’s threatening her with being sent back. He even uses sexual innuendo in these conversations, while having no regard for the suffering that she has been through. All that he cares about is that attraction he has. And he tries to make that attraction seem more important than what he knows, as he witnessed some of it, she’s been through. He threatens her when she doesn’t want to do as he has told her, tells her he will send her to Dachau for not eating, forces her to eat food pork, forces her to type of the lists sending prisoners to Auschwitz, forces her to sit through meals as Aric and other SS officers talk about the benefits of slave labor in the camps and ghettos, threatens to kill people unless she kisses him, and forces her to agree to marry him. As I read the story, I saw his behavior as similar to Christian Grey’s behavior in the Fifty Shades series, only Aric was so much more vile.

When the book started, Hadassah saw Aric as a “Jew Killer” and a potential threat to her safety. By page 82, she has begun to trust him, while knowing that he could turn on her at any moment if he found out who/what she really is. This is so reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome. She is living in the home of an SS-Commandant and sees him as a good person who doesn’t really want to hurt Jews. She doesn’t recognize that he continuously fails to show real compassion for the prisoners in his camp–only trying to help the people who he knows and likes. It horrifies her when the General dismisses the life of Joseph, but it doesn’t horrify her that Aric is dismissive over any life other than Joseph in Theresienstadt. He doesn’t feel guilt over the absue of Morty or the sending of Sophie to Auschwitz for having rotten teeth. She doesn’t recognize that he has never truly shown her real compassion. He’s just treated her as a possession. One that he could rid himself of at any time. And he is continually pushed upon the reader as a hero? I don’t think so.

Throughout the book, there are moments of antisemitism that made me cringe. When Aric gives Hadassah a red wig to wear to cover her nearly bald head, it is a potential use of red hair as a symbol of Judaism. While not explained in the book, red hair and antisemitism have been linked for around two thousand years. Judas Iscariot was portrayed as a redhead. Lilith, the first wife of Adam, was portrayed with red hair. Liars, thieves, murderers, etc. would be described as having red hair. Any time there was racist propaganda, including art for nobles, Jews would be given red hair. Red hair was a symbol of a person who couldn’t be trusted. Even though Hitler didn’t believe redheads to automatically be Jews, he did believe that red hair was indicative of a person who could not be trusted. The red wig being used in the book until her identity was discovered was clearly an example of this continued stereotype.

The magical Bible that always seems to show up when Hadassah is losing hope is a different symbol of antisemitism. Instead of solely focusing on the books within it that are shared between the Jewish and Christian faiths, Hadassah ends up focusing on ones in the New Testament, including John 3:16. The author manages to, by page 311, convert a Jewish woman to Christianity, turning her into a Christian saving the poor Jews in the camp rather than an empowered Jewish woman helping her fellow Jews escape their oppressor. It is almost like the author could not allow Hadassah to be herself while executing the escape. She had to become someone different. She even says that she believes that God had abandoned her, Marty, and other Jews, while staying with Aric and Marta, her Christian friend. Considering that part of her conversion is inspired by her relationship with Aric, Marta’s past attempts to convert her, the atrocities taking place around her, this could be considered a forcible conversion. forcible conversions are an atrocity Jews were made to endure for two thousand years that promised them safety, but was often used to further segregate them within society. (They would not be trusted by Christians or by Jews after their conversion.) During the Holocaust, these conversions were simultaneously supported and condemned by the Catholic church.

Conversions like this are considered religious cleansing, which like ethnic cleansing, is a type of persecution and is not something that one should find “inspirational” as this novel seems to suggest. This is a type of violence being perpetrated on a person based upon their religion. Why is it being celebrated? Coerced and forced conversions and “inspirational” propaganda that promotes them like this have been condemned by groups like the Anti-Defamation League, “The history of the Jewish people is filled with tragic incidents of forced conversions, resulting in the death of untold numbers of Jews throughout the centuries…More recently, there has been an increase in the use of deceptive tactics by so-called ‘Messianic Jews’ targeting Jews for conversion. This new document makes clear that Christians using deception and aggression to missionize non-Christians is not only inappropriate, but a betrayal of Christian values.”

The suffering of Aric over being injured is also representative of antisemitism. He was in the hospital for a year, which lead to his offer of a position within the SS as Commandant at the camp. Hadassah has more sympathy for his year in the hospital than she has for her friends, her neighbors, and her relatives who have been taken from their homes, stripped of their citizenship, and treated like vermin for years. He’s in pain, so she feels sorrow for him. She feels less sorrow for the torture and murder of many lives she knew before the war. His suffering is portrayed as more important than theirs. Hadassah is told by Grossman that the only place a disabled Wehrmacht soldier like Aric or like Grossman could find work was within the SS; that the Wehrmacht wouldn’t want them after they were injured and that employers within Germany would not employ a soldier injured in the war. (Apparently the author has never heard of Claus von Stauffenberg, who was injured in the war and was still allowed to work for the Wehrmacht. He also was part of Operation Valkyrie, an attempt by people within the Wehrmacht to kill Hitler.) He admits that he joined the Wehrmacht willingly a decade before and believed for the next ten years that Hitler was doing the right thing, and she still supports him. Hadassah even pities that Aric is “far from the excitement of battle”, knowing that he would be fighting to continue to abuse the rights and the bodies of so many. She is more concerned with getting him away from Hitler’s reach than helping persecuted individuals get away.

There’s also a portrayal of Jews as being less educated than the Nazis. Jewish characters have poor grammar, while the SS officers have proper grammar. They are portrayed by the author as being less trustworthy, less loyal, and more prone to bad behavior/mischief than the Nazi characters. Morty’s acts as the Judenrat, acts which are grossly distorted, are seen as more vile than the beatings inflicted by the officers, the attempts to murder Hadassah and Aric by the officers, sending people to Auschwitz for bad teeth, etc. His failure to be perfect morally is seen as more grotesque than the atrocities that are being committed right in front of the characters. And Hadassah is actually shocked when she finds out that SS officers have no regard for the lives of Jews. This seems completely unrealistic.

What alarmed me most was that this book seemed to lift certain elements from the lives of real individuals. For example, the alias of Stella Muller. There was a Holocaust survivor by the name of Stella Müller who was “saved” by a Nazi along with other Holocaust prisoners. She was one of the real individuals saved by Oskar Schindler by being sent by train to Czechoslovakia. Various other elements from Schindler’s story (including the theatrical version of it) were also present in this novel, including the use of red apparel (a hat instead of a coat) to distinguish an innocent individual and ash and soot being used to symbolize a life having no value to outsiders. Then there was the lack of value placed upon the lives and stories of the real prisoners of Theresienstadt when the author took real events, like the Red Cross investigation and the subsequent closing of the camp, and moved it to another date so that it would coincide with Purim? Was it so necessary to retell the story of Esther that the author needed to change real events and erase real suffering to do so?

Aside from the many issues with racism, religious violence, sexism, the abusive nature of Aric and Hadassah’s relationship, the historical inaccuracies, the potential appropriation of identities and stories of others, and the general grossness that was promoted throughout this book, the book was also poorly written. Even if all the other issues were changed, the book would still be full of purple prose. I am flummoxed by how this book managed to attract any fans, positive reviews, or awards, or how any person who has seen the recent criticism of the year-old book can see that criticism as censorship.1 If a person writes a truly awful book and people point that out to them, that isn’t censorship. This book deserves all of the criticism that it is receiving. The author may not have meant to write a book that is so offensive as this one is, but she accomplished that anyway.

I’m not always a fan of “inspirational” stories, but I have never seen one so callously written, with so much disdain for the suffering that was endured by so many. I cannot imagine anyone feeling truly inspired by this book. How does a book “inspire” when it romanticizes mass murder, racism, and abuse? How could any person see that as a way to inspire people of faith?

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Continue reading Review: For Such a Time

  1. Anne Rice’s claim. She doesn’t believe in people writing negative reviews if they haven’t read a book. Her lack of reading the book didn’t stop her from defending it from people who had. 

IDGI: Christina Hoff Sommers Fans

Anyone who likes Christina Hoff Sommers should probably leave this blog.

I see people talking about her debunking of the wage gap and her “equity feminism” beliefs without mentioning that she isn’t exactly the best source of what is good/bad economics- and equality-wise. Why? Well, her current job, for one. (Her previous job of ethics professor doesn’t really mesh with it.)

Christina Hoff Sommers works for The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is a “think tank” for rich white people who don’t like to think. On AEI’s Board of Trustees, there is the totally equal ratio of 24:1 (men to women). That sure sounds like equity has already been achieved there. AEI’s interests aren’t in actual equality, but in fighting America’s “culture war” and reforming education, affirmative action, and welfare. They have also been advancing their causes of making sure all voters have photo ID (potential poll tax), doubting the reality that is climate change, opposing regulation of the financial system, opposing increases in minimum wage, and defending big tobacco. “Scholars” of AEI have written articles in favor of government censorship of art.

I can almost hear the goose stepping now. When he was in office, George W. Bush appointed over a dozen people from AEI to senior positions within his administration and they helped promote his war machine. Reportedly, they offered money to scientists who would dispute a climate change study. They’re big on the whole “anti-lobbying” thing and I’m guessing that that’s because you don’t need to lobby when you’ve already got people in positions of influence within the actual government. Once upon a time, Kenneth Lay (of Enron fame) and Dick Cheney were on the board of trustees; Dinesh D’Souza is a fellow there. And its current incarnation has ties to both ALEC and the Koch brothers. AEI’s affiliate, Charles Murray, published The Bell Curve in the 1990s; it established IQ was a determinant of socio-economic status.

But that’s not the only issue.

  Continue reading IDGI: Christina Hoff Sommers Fans

Different Types of Courage

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.

The easiest thing to do when you disagree with ideas promoted by LDS Church members and by the church itself is to leave. It’s what I did. There were a lot of reasons that I went inactive within the church, but one was that I found myself feeling more and more uncomfortable with what was being promoted. I admire Kate Kelly and John Dehlin for feeling able to stand up to the church and continue to go there while being threatened with disciplinary actions, including excommunication.

I don’t think I will be going back any time soon. There are certain things that happened while I was active that I never felt comfortable with, as well as things that happened before I was a member that made me feel funny.

  • Right after my mom joined, some members tried to pressure her into getting me to join. Because she didn’t, she faced some ostracism.
  • When Stephanie was baptized, I wore a dress that may have been a little low-cut. I was 16 and a non-member. It didn’t show anything off, but there were comments about it.
  • When I was doing my interview with a missionary and had to answer questions to determine my readiness, some of the questions included my chastity and if I’d had an abortion or helped someone else to get one. I hadn’t had sex and I decided that being adamantly pro-choice didn’t count toward helping someone get an abortion, but the questions made me feel funny.
  • I was told within weeks of joining that I was basically bastard-born because my parents weren’t sealed in the temple. They were married. My mom converted to the church when I was about 10. My dad never did. According to the church, my birth is illegitimate.
  • At an Institute lesson, within weeks of my joining, we were taught that any person who questions the church’s teachings in any way is like gangrene. They’re a gangrenous limb that can be cut off. It made me feel like I had no way of learning about the church. This man also said people who watch horror films are more touched by “the Adversary”, aka Satan; he also said that women’s positions as mothers made them equal to men in their roles as Priesthood holders.
  • Another of his fun teachings, that is actually church doctrine, is that if you have to choose between paying for your medicine or groceries and paying your monthly tithing, you should always pick tithing because Heavenly Father will always provide for you if you do this. Technically, if you pay the tithing, the Church is supposed to help you get by with aid programs. They don’t always do that. And if they do help, it isn’t without even more strings.
  • On the way to a regional (though not our region) YSA conference, shortly after crossing into Tennessee, the co-rep for the Stake’s YSA started calling Barack Obama “Korihor”–aka a Mormon anti-christ.1 The other people in the car agreed with her. Because of her position of power and my tendency in non-internet social situations to be extremely quiet, I just sat and listened to them.
  • I was told that if I really believed in God and in the Church that my mental and physical health problems would be miraculously cured.
  • When friends were talking about homosexuality being unnatural, I said that they were wrong. I brought up that I had 1 guinea pig that had been gay and 1 that had been bisexual, so I knew that homosexual behavior was a natural thing. I was told that was inappropriate to talk about. It seemed odd that it was okay to talk about it being unnatural, but it was horrifying for me to say it was normal.
  • At that same conversation, these two friends were talking about the upcoming election. This was at Halloween 2008. They were talking about how one’s sister had told her class that she supported McCain and had heard little support for Obama. They were talking about how it was nice that so many people in the area were Republicans. They didn’t even know any Democrats. This was when I told them that I was actually a Democrat. They said that wasn’t popular in the church and I should consider changing parties.
  • At the dance, the same member2 who had called Obama “Korihor” was in a costume that seemed to include blackface. She said it wasn’t, but it was pretty clear that she had blackened her face and taken on a costume of an underprivileged person so she could promote some pretty anti-black feelings. I contemplated talking to someone about her doing this at a church dance, but I knew that with the conservative leanings of local Mormons that I might be the one who would be disciplined for not respecting the leader of the group I was under.3
  • At 2 Break the Fast meals for the Ward’s YSA, there was some political discussion going on. Yet again when I just mentioned supporting another party, the discussion was shifted without any acknowledgement that I said anything.
  • At a combined session of Relief Society and Priesthood, which rarely happens, the wife of the then First Counselor of the Church went on a little rant about how we needed to be especially good about building up our Food Storage because Obama had been elected.
  • After giving a lesson on tolerance during FHE for the group’s YSA, I was unfriended by blackface girl. I also saw that she (and other YSA people) had “Facebook flair” that said gingers had no souls. Though I knew the reference was a South Park one, it felt a little personal.
  • On Internet postings by Ward and Stake members in 2008 and 2012, people threatened to leave the country or suggested that the world was going to end because Obama was elected. Anytime he’s said something they don’t agree with, which is pretty regularly, they say this again.
  • On the way home from the Valentine’s Dance in 2009, some of the male YSA members were talking about how people who believe in Evolution are stupid. Since this was another social situation and since I was at least an hour from home, I kept my mouth shut. It was one of the last times I did anything with YSA.

And then there’s been the guilting of my mom, dad, and I to come to church so that we could get aid. The bishop wasn’t amused once when my non-member father and I came without my mom one day when she was too sick to come. He also won’t even call back or answer the phone most times when my mom has tried to call him. We have visiting teachers that don’t come visit, but contact us through the mail, and we don’t even know the names of our home teachers because they haven’t bothered to let us know who they are in years.4

The attitudes of the people I was around are part of what made me feel more agnostic in terms of spirituality. When you are constantly faced with people claiming to be “of God” participating in behavior that condemns or mocks minorities and that doesn’t allow for dissent or for questions, it makes the idea of a God existing seem kind of ridiculous. Before this, I could think of every scientific thing (The Big Bang, Evolution) as God-like actions and would combine religion with science. Now, I have a hard time accepting religion as something good at all. I try to stand up for religions still, but when it comes to being a part of one, I don’t want to ever again. And that’s something that I really think is a result of what I encountered in the Church.

  1. Comparing him to an anti-christ figure was especially hard for me because it triggered some of the Schizoaffective thinking. 

  2. Whose personal hero that year was Sarah Palin. 

  3. Basically, I knew that in the eyes of some in the church, I would be an apostate for suggesting a leader was racist. 

  4. Even when I was active. 

Silencing Dissent


To me, that seems like a way to silence any dissent, which can lead those with questions to be too afraid to voice those questions. Basically, it’s spiritual peer pressure. Is that really the best thing for the church?

via Tumblr

Don’t Give Us Too Much Credit

I have seen a lot of posts, not just the ones I mentioned yesterday, blaming the death of Christian Adamek on feminism. Why? Well, because the mistaken claims that he would have been charged with a sex crime were the result of “Chris was born with two strikes against him: (1) He was a boy, and (2) his battery was too big for his body. Too much energy, too much masculinity, the perfect feminist scapegoat”. OMFG, people. This is Alabama.

If you think that feminism is a prevalent thing here in this state, then you are sadly mistaken. If you think that we have any sort of liberalized views on sexuality or rape or anything, then you are again sadly mistaken. Don’t believe me on any of this? Let me introduce you to Section 13A-12-200.2, aka the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1998, which oddly enough was started by the State Senator for Madison County, where Christian was from.

Section 13A-12-200.2 – Distribution, possession with intent to distribute, production, etc., of obscene material prohibited; penalties; distribution of fines.

(a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly distribute, possess with intent to distribute, or offer or agree to distribute any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value. Material not otherwise obscene may be obscene under this section if the distribution of the material, the offer to do so, or the possession with the intent to do so is a commercial exploitation of erotica solely for the sake of prurient appeal. Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) and may also be imprisoned in the county jail or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than one year. A second or subsequent violation of this subdivision is a Class C felony if the second or subsequent violation occurs after a conviction has been obtained for a previous violation. Upon a second violation, a corporation or business entity shall be fined not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) nor more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person, being a wholesaler, to knowingly distribute, possess with intent to distribute, or offer or agree to distribute, for the purpose of resale or commercial distribution at retail, any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value. Material not otherwise obscene may be obscene under this section if the distribution of the material, the offer to do so, or the possession with the intent to do so is a commercial exploitation of erotica solely for the sake of their prurient appeal. Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) and may also be imprisoned in the county jail or sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than one year. A second or subsequent violation of this subdivision is a Class C felony if the second or subsequent violation occurs after a conviction has been obtained for a previous violation. Upon a second violation, a corporation or business entity shall be fined not less than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) nor more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(3) It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly produce, or offer or agree to produce, any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value. Material not otherwise obscene may be obscene under this section if the distribution of the material, the offer to do so, or the possession with the intent to do so is a commercial exploitation of erotica solely for the sake of prurient appeal. Any person who violates this subsection shall be guilty of a Class C felony.

(4) If a person is held under this section in the county jail, one-half of any fines collected and due to be deposited to the State General Fund for violations of this section shall be paid by the Comptroller to the general fund of the county where the person is held for the operation of the county jail.

(Acts 1989, No. 89-402, p. 791, §4; Act 98-467, p. 893, §6.)

This law is backed by Conservative Christians. It has been challenged by the ACLU and the owner of an “adult novelty” store called Pleasures. Adult clothing ends up being marketed as costumes. And you pretty much have to have a prescription in order to buy a toy legally in this tate. And guess what happens in strip clubs? Strippers have to keep their clothing on until they strip, and then they can only take them off if they have liquid latex covering their nipples.

If feminists really had the upper=hand in state politics here, it would probably be legal for the citizens in this state to have vibrators. The state also might not try to pass draconian abortion laws that force trans-vaginal ultrasounds. (The lawmaker who was behind that was from North Alabama, too.)

Feminism wouldn’t be to blame for this kid’s death anyway. I’ve never talked to a feminist who thought that a person who streaked at an athletic event needed to be charged with a sex crime. The only time I’ve heard indecent exposure referred to as a sex crime is when an adult man used to expose himself to small children as they would walk home from school. As far as I know, he did get charged with a sex crime.

And feminism isn’t about oppressing men. I know a lot of people like to say that it is, but it really isn’t. Feminism is about equality. And I know there are people who say, “If it were really about equality, we would call it humanism.” Humanism is already a thing. It’s not a political movement. It’s philosophical movement from the renaissance that continues to this day. Some humanists are politically and socially active, others aren’t. Feminism, on the other hand, is a social and political movement. And feminism is called feminism because it is devoted to expanding the rights of women so that they are equal to those of men. It is the same as LGBTQ advocates who are advocating for equality between the LGBTQ community and the heterosexual community. Feminism also helps to make sure that men are not forced into gender roles that they don’t feel fit them as an individual. Gender roles that we’re raised to believe don’t just hurt women. If a guys likes something that is considered to be a “girly” thing, he gets shamed. Feminism is against that. Feminism is a belief that we are all equal.

Are there people who claim to be feminists who male bash? Sure. There are also Christians who believe in oppressing non-Christians, whites who believe in oppressing blacks, etc. There are always bad apples within a group, but that doesn’t mean that we should always classify the group as being bad or wrong or anything like that.

Now, of course, with his death, there are things we should be focusing on.

  1. Like his father said, there needs to be a focus on mental illness. There are not enough resources for the mentally ill, especially in this area. The ones that do exist are often run by people who are over-worked, under-paid, and under-funded. That needs to change.
  2. His father also admitted that Christian had a history of depression. Maybe the streaking story being aired on the news inspired his suicide, but maybe it didn’t. Maybe he was just so depressed and wasn’t receiving the treatment he needed and it eventually led to his death. That does happen to a lot of people who go untreated.
  3. We should hold the school’s principal responsible for discussing the story with the media. All students have a right to privacy, even after such a public act. I’ve seen kids who committed actual crimes get less coverage than this case got.
  4. We should also hold the station responsible for running the story. What they did was sloppy. And, as an ardent news fan and a lifetime watcher of that particular station, I can honestly say that their stories have seemed more and more biased over the last few years. It seems like there are more stories on religion and that feature the most extreme right-wing politicians in the area than there have ever been. Admittedly, it’s always been difficult to get a left-wing perspective or non-Judeo Christian religion talked about on there. (I once had to send a feedback form in to ask them to clarify that a murderer who had books on Wicca wasn’t actually adhering to the religion’s belief system when he killed someone.) Their Facebook page seems to exist mainly to rile people against their own neighbors…and, if that is the true purpose of it, then it is definitely succeeding.

Place the blame where it belongs. But, for the love of everything good in this world, don’t blame people, groups, organizations, or movements who aren’t actually responsible. That helps no one. And definitely, don’t try to hold my state up as examples of liberals run amok. As a liberal, I can promise you that that is never the case here. You would have a better chance finding someone to openly admit to belonging to a group like the Klan than you would finding someone to openly admit to supporting any left-wing ideas. Besides, we already get blamed for everything that happens in this state, even though we have  exactly none of the power.

The White House doesn’t have to release the dead Bin Laden photos

“New Rule: The White House doesn’t have to release the dead Bin Laden photos, but don’t pretend we can’t take it. We’ve seen pictures of Britney Spears’s vagina getting out of a car. Television has desensitizes us to violence, and porn has desensitized us to people getting shot in the eye.”

Bill Maher, The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass

Dear Media

If you run a Facebook page, there is a way to delete individual items without deleting a whole thread of comments.  If someone is violating TOS, then you have an obligation to get rid of these posts.  This obligation does not mean that you have the right to delete benign comments.  In fact, when you delete all comments, it gives off the appearance that you are trying to censor the public.

Much the same way that an individual can delete individual comments on their profile, pages also give you the option to only remove posts that you find to be offensive.  Instead of clicking the gear-shaped symbol on the page, you would just have to go to the comment that is believed to be in violation and click the “x”  that appears when you hold your cursor over that post.  See, it isn’t difficult.  It isn’t something that is impossible for you to do.

If you continue to delete all posts when you should only be deleting a few, then you are going to inflame the public.  It is bad enough when people feel that the government isn’t listening to them, but when the “free press” is asking for their opinions and then deleting any opinion posted, people will begin to feel that they do not live in a land where they can vocalize their complaints.  It is odd when you participate in a mass deletion of posts, which could violate the right to free speech that many people cherish, but you complain about your own rights being violated when someone’s court files (including mental health records) are sealed.  If you’re really for the First Amendment, shouldn’t you be interested in protecting everyone’s rights?

Because of a certain page determining that they had the right to delete any post that mentioned illegal immigration or cussed, I am now more annoyed that this post still exists.  The page went through and deleted comments made within a 24-hour time period, including ones that violated no Facebook rule and no laws concerning harassment, issuing threats toward another person, advocating discrimination, etc.  The page went further by threatening to ban anyone who they viewed to be violating their (non-Facebook endorsed) standards.

The page did not delete his comments calling for a state-sponsored hunting party in every county which would be given “unlimited hunting rights to hunt them down and get rid od [sic] them.”  This is the equivalent of asking for the state to sponsor a lynch mob or a special police force that could legally kill someone here illegally from another country.  This would violate Alabama Code 13A-5-13, the actual violation has been bolded:

(1) It is the right of every person, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability, to be secure and protected from threats of reasonable fear, intimidation, harassment, and physical harm caused by activities of groups and individuals.

(2) It is not the intent, by enactment of this section, to interfere with the exercise of rights protected by the Constitution of the State of Alabama or the United States.

(3) The intentional advocacy of unlawful acts by groups or individuals against other persons or groups and bodily injury or death to persons is not constitutionally protected when violence or civil disorder is imminent, and poses a threat to public order and safety, and such conduct should be subjected to criminal sanctions.

(b) The purpose of this section is to impose additional penalties where it is shown that a perpetrator committing the underlying offense was motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability.

Violating this law in Alabama, which Mr. Hardin, a resident of the state of Alabama, is advocating is illegal.  If he actually were to go through with the crime he suggested (or someone else decided to go through with it after his advocacy of it), then he could be found guilty of committing a hate crime.  This crime could range from being considered a misdemeanor to a Class A felony, meaning he could receive a minimum of three months (misdemeanor) to no less than fifteen years (Class A felony).

His call for a “hunting party” (lynch mob/riot) would also violate Alabama Codes 13A-11-3 (riot) & 13A-11-4 (incite to riot), which state:

13A-11-3: A person commits the crime of riot if, with five or more other persons, he wrongfully engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly causes or creates a grave risk of public terror or alarm.

13A-11-4: A person commits the crime of inciting to riot if he commands, solicits, incites or urges another person to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct of a kind likely to cause or create a grave risk of public terror or alarm.

What was said by him was bad enough, but the fact that the news station refuses to remove it from the Facebook page, in spite of it violating state laws, is completely disturbing.  It is more disturbing that less volatile statements have be deleted left and right, including one that encouraged the station to look into the increasing racist sentiment in the area.

Despite the fact that the comments made by Mr. Hardin violate Facebook’s Terms of Service, with specific violations of rules 3.7. 3.12, and 5.1, that page has not deleted the comments that are in violation.  These three violations are significant enough that they would fall under violations that can result in the loss of his account.  Not only is his comment violating the site’s TOS, but by leaving it up the Facebook page that it is on violates the rights of the persons who were included in Hardin’s diatribe.  That would be a violation the TOS rule 9.5 and 3.12.  The page also violates rules 8 and 9 of the Pages Terms.  Rule number 8 is violated by Mr. Hardin’s call for a lynch mob.  Rule number 9 is violated by that media outlet setting up rules that go beyond the rules established by the Terms of Service of Facebook, which includes the deletion of comments solely for using curse words.  (Cussing on Facebook is not considered to be a violation of the TOS.)

I would like to ask media outlets to please take into consideration that you have to follow the same rules that the rest of us must follow.  I would also like for them to take into consideration that their viewers, readers, listeners, etc. have the same rights as human beings that the outlets claim that they want to champion.  Having our opinions asked for and then discarded for violating a media outlet’s standard while viewers can still read the commentary by people promoting lawlessness and violence is extremely frustrating.  It is almost as if people are only respected when they want to commit some kind of heinous act.