Roy Exum: How Do We Handle This?

Thursday, September 12, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

As we solemnly remembered the anniversary of 9/11 on Wednesday, it was fitting and proper that President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and wife Jill Biden walked together out of the White House at 8:46 a.m., the precise minute the first plane commandeered by terrorists hit the World Trade Center tower. They bowed their heads in a moment of silence before a bugler played Taps.

It began a day of remembrance and reflection, or what is now known as our National Day of Service where kind acts are done randomly by Americans all across the United States. Lord knows we need more kindness, as a stroll through my morning reading revealed one obstacle after another in the path of who we yearn to be. Here’s what I found on our Day of Service:

* * *

Marshall Lee Gore, a killer who has been on Florida’s death row for 20 years, was scheduled to be executed last Tuesday night but Gov. Rick Scott stayed the execution until Oct. 1 at the request of the state’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi. Oddly, it wasn’t because of a court order or last-minute pardon effort.

It seems the execution was postponed because Bondi was attending a plush fundraiser for her re-election at a waterfront mansion in Tampa and, because so much time and effort had gone into staging the gala, she decided to postpone the execution. Are you kidding me? An execution is much more than a “save the date” cocktail party.

Governor Scott, through a statement, said he did not know the reason the execution had been postponed and now Atty. General Bondi is remorseful. “The planned execution of Marshall Lee Gore had already been stayed twice by the courts, and we should not have requested that the date of the execution be moved,” Bondi said. But it was.

* * *

A truck decal company in Dallas that specializes in making vehicles into rolling billboards has just come out with a “must have” accessory for pickup truck owners. A huge tailgate-sized decal shows a young woman bound by her hands and feet and looks for all the world like the driver has just kidnapped a pretty blonde.

“I wasn’t expecting the reactions we would get,” said Hornet Signs owner Brad Kolb in Waco, Tex. “This is certainly not an act we condone or anything else. But it was something … we had to put out there to see who notices.”

Police report that several motorists have already called 9-1-1 due to the gruesome image and critics say the hog-tied woman “contributes to a culture of violence against women.”

* * *

Vince Gill and his wife, Amy Grant, are two of my favorite singers and if there are finer people in show business than either one of them I’ll be amazed. Last Sunday the popular Gill was doing a concert in Kansas City when members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church showed up to picket the performance because Gill and Grant married after each was divorced from a previous spouse.

So Vince walked outside to where the protesters were marching and told the group, “I came to see what hate looked like.”

“What are you doing with another man’s wife?” one of the protesters fired back. “Don’t you know that divorce plus remarriage equals adultery? Jesus said that.”

Gill replied, “He also said a lot of stuff about forgiveness, about grace. You guys don’t have any of that.”

Gill also asked if pastor Fred Phelps was present, the leader who has led his followers in controversial protests at military funerals, gay weddings and other events. “Are any of you guys Phelpses?” he asked, adding, “Or are you guys like the C team?”

* * *

Kelt Cooper, the superintendent of the New Britain, Conn., school system, armed his teachers with an age-old deterrent at the start of the year when he passed out bars of soap so teachers could give them to troublemakers. No, the kids aren’t dirty; their mouths are, and the “no cussing” policy is in effect for students who use vile language when they talk back to teachers.

Students in the New Britain system are also forbidden to wear baggy pants to school, facing 10-day suspensions if they violate the new “Don’t talk smack and don’t show crack” policy. It is still too early to tell if “washing cussing” out of a student’s mouth will be as effective as it was 50 years ago.

* * *

The obituary of Marianne Johnson-Reddick that appeared in the Reno, Nev., Gazette-Journal this week was far from typical. This is what the first two paragraphs read:

“Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.

“On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.” Whew!

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