Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Two Things That Tick Me Off--

There've been two things in the news lately that really upset me--one nationally, and one locally.

Nationally, it's the revelation that, under pressure from the Administration, the EPA changed air-quality warnings about the ground Zero site to make them reassurances that there was nothing to worry about--which was a flat lie! Even if there are no overtly toxic substances in concrete dust, you don't want to breathe it! Microscopically, a particle of shattered concrete is a little bundle of sharp edges. Many of the rescue and repair workers that helped clear the site now are suffering the permanent debilitating effects of lung damage, and all because their country lied to them! For no discernible reason! For the life of me, I can't think why the government shold have done this terrible thing. There is some misguided idea here about calming fears and putting a good faith on things, but in the end it boils down to a despicable betrayal of people who worked their hearts out, often as volunteers, to clear the attack site. This stinks! If the government would lie to us about this, it would lie about anything. There is no doubt in my mind that we were lied to about the presence of 'weapons of mass destruction' as a pretext for the war on Iraq, too, and I shudder to think what OTHER falsehoods we have been given that we haven't yet discovered.

It seems about once a year we see news of some child dying as a result of religious abuse. Either the child is denied simple medical care due to religious beliefs, or, as just happened locally, dies as a result of being "exorcised." Terrance Cottrell, Jr., age 8, was an autistic child. He died this weekend as a result of being held down for two hours, while members of the "Church of the Apostolic Faith" tried to pray "evil spirits" out of him. These evil spirits were blamed for the boy's autism and frequent violent behavior. According to the coroner's report in the paper today, one of the Church "Elders" sat on the boy's chest to restrain him, resulting in suffocation. The death has been ruled a homicide, although charges have not yet been issued. Of course, the leader of Church claims that nothing wrong was done and that the child's death was an act of God.

One expects outrages like this to occur in third-world countries, not Milwaukee. Where were these people's common sense? No matter what your faith in God, wouldn't any idiot realize you're hurting the kid? Yet this entire congregation tolerated this behavior, apparently not just once, but through nightly prayer services for almost three weeks!

This is a difficult area of law. Wisconsin statutes protect religious freedom, and specifically provide that choosing "treatment through prayer" (as in Christian Science) is not child abuse, although in this case the physical abuse may be a crime. Frankly, I disagree with even the statute--I don't believe children should be endangered by their guardians' religious excesses, no matter how doctrinally grounded. The mental state that brought about this poor child's needless death just baffles me. If God's going to grant you a miracle cure, God can grant it with one prayer,and whereever the child is. Trying to coerce God by marathon prayer sessions is blasphemous according to most sects, and certainly the physical constraint of the prayer subject pretty much went out with the Inquisition. How does this mumbo-jumbo keep coming back?

The district attorney's office indicates that only Ray Hemphill, the 'elder' who sat on the boy and was in charge of the prayer process, might be charged. If it were up to me, I'd have the whole lot of them in jail as parties to the crime.

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