Thursday, July 06, 2006

Something rotten in the state of Delaware

The progressive world-o-blogs is on fire over the "religious cleansing" story out of Delaware. It's an appalling story. Here are a few articles about it:

I don't have a lot to add about the incident itself, other than to chime in and register my disgust at what the fundies are up to now.

It occurs to me that the way the story's being covered does point out a serious weakness in our land-o-blogs, in that nearly all of the blog stories out there simply quote other blog stories as sources, which to me seems sort of insufficient. Once one blog has the story, it takes on a life of its own and every blog (including this one) has the story. But the latest action in the Dobrich case happened back in March and now suddenly everyone's wringing their hands about it in July. I know I hadn't heard about the case until now. What was that again about blogs being able to respond so much faster than the Old Media?

The first Bartholomew article and the post at I Speak of Dreams are the only ones to point at any "MSM" news stories outside of blogtopia. I'd like to try to remedy that a little, so here are some news stories I've come across. Simple matter of googling.

  • A story from this March, and an earlier 2004 story, both from a local newspaper covering southern Delaware (i.e. Sussex County), coastal Maryland, and the eastern shore of Virginia.
  • The same paper also covered the 2005 filing of the Dobrich lawsuit here, and also carried a letter from four of the area's state legislators supporting the school district.
  • Here are another two stories, this time from the Wilmington (DE) News Journal,
  • ...which also editorializes about the controversy here.
  • The Coastal Point newspaper has also run at least two stories about the case.
  • Two articles from the Sussex Countian paper.
  • The school district's own insurance company is suing them for not settling the case. Ha, ha!
  • The News Journals also has a pair of recent stories from June 16th and June 23rd about the IRSD vs. insurance co. case.

The articles tend to focus on the school prayer issue, not the intimidation angle, although I'd say the latter is the bigger deal here. Not so much the actions of a couple hotheaded internet bullies. That's just par for the course for how we do political debates in this country anymore. Guys like this "Nedd Kareiva" schmoe always talk a big talk, but that's all they ever do. The pitchfork-wielding locals and their tent revival-style school board meetings are what's really alarming.

We can speculate all we want about why there isn't more coverage in the traditional media outside of Delaware. I'd imagine it's being chalked up as yet another church vs. state battle in some rural backwater. And it's probably true that if the national media covered every last one of these, there'd be no room in the paper for anything else. Just by way of an example, we've had a couple of recent cases right here in uber-bleu-state Oregon, one over a statue of the Greek goddess Hebe down in Roseburg, and another in Clatskanie over a Buddhist monastery. In both cases, the wingnuts came out of the woodwork and said spewed all sorts of jaw-dropping bigoted stuff, but the world didn't end, the badi guys didn't win in the end, and we didn't devolve into a podunk red state because of the actions of a few crazies. Of course, our crazies didn't resort to threats of violence to get their way.

In the absence of media stories, here are a few takes by local Delaware blogs and other websites:

I didn't realize Delaware was full of vicious medieval fundies, but apparently the state has its own miniature red divide, with liberal blue counties to the north of the canal that cuts across the state, and everything to the south is banjo-pickin' Deliverance country. The state was a slave state in 1860 but chose not to secede, it hosts a couple of NASCAR races, and I have it on good authority that there's excellent Southern-style barbecue to be had there. Outsiders (like me) tend not to be aware of this. Quite honestly, we tend not to think about the place much at all, period. The last time I did, I'm sure it was in connnection with either a.) one of SCO's court cases, which is happening there due to Delaware's status as a corporate tax haven, or b.) Dogfish Head beer (which is really excellent, btw, if you can find it.)

It's hard to come up with good, shallow, glib putdowns of the place, and in the age of the Internet this means it's nearly impossible to say anything about the place, period. Insults about the state's puny size are stale and not very funny. Bob Hope probably turned up his nose at "Delaware is small" jokes 60+ years ago. So that's out. Although I do remember hearing somewhere that Alaska has a glacier bigger than Delaware, and undoubtedly more interesting as well. Back when I lived in South Carolina some years ago, there was a saying attributed to various historical figures saying that the place had to be a state, because it was too small to be a country, and too big to be an insane asylum. If that's true, Delaware is far too small to be a country, and maybe just about the right size for an insane asylum.

At one time in the 1600s the place was the colony of New Sweden, so maybe we can joke about giving it back, but that's not exactly a laugh riot either. If we're going to split hairs, the Swedish part was in the northern, blue-state end of the state, so maybe the knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers downstate can joke about giving northern Delaware back to Sweden or something, I mean, not to give them ideas or anything. Besides, if we're going to talk about giving anything back to anyone, the Delaware Indians have a prior claim.

I've been to Delaware exactly twice. Travelling south to north 20 years ago, I remember seeing strip malls, getting bored, and falling asleep. Travelling east to west across the northern tip of the state, I remember being angry at the exorbitant bridge and turnpike tolls. (As of last year, it's $3 to drive the full 11-mile length of the Delaware Turnpike, and another $3 for the bridge from New Jersey.) That's all I remember of the place. If I lived there and the restless natives started threatening me, packing up and leaving would be the easiest thing in the world to do. Although I'd still do like the Dobriches and sue 'em, purely on of the principle of the thing.

Updated: Somehow I just knew we hadn't heard the last from the good Monsieur Nedd Kareiva. Two updates at Jesus' General -- seems like the ol' Neddinator would like to sort things out with a round of fisticuffs. He's also having words, no, repeatedly refusing to have words, with "meatbrain" over at ThinkingMeat. Wow.... just... wow.... You can't make this stuff up.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Liz here from I Speak of Dreams.

Thanks for the compliments.

I agree -- the school prayer part isn't that significant, but the intimidation and abuse is more important.

I'm more interested in private education issues, and special education/learning disabilities in public schools, in my blog life. I keep up with out-of-state stuff (I live in California) through Google News Alerts. Somehow this case didn't even come up on the Googlometer.