aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, September 17, 2005
I’ve been especially tuned in to Judge Roy Moore and his Ten Commandment monument since Nightline did a fascinating program about it (the monument, not the judge) last year.
For those who might not know, the monument’s been on tour, hauled around by a guy from American Veterans in Domestic Defense (!) on the back of a flatbed truck. The truck pulls into town, they push a staircase up to the back of it, and folks clamber up top to marvel at the monument.
Or at least they did. The website for the tour, standingforgod.org, sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t, but has no reported tour activity since spring. I’ve been visiting regularly to see if the monument might be coming to my town.
The townsfolk sure would like it if it did. Around here, Ten Commandment signs are the lawn ornament of choice; there’s no other issue that has such resonance for local people.
So I read with interest Joshua Green’s Atlantic Monthly feature story, Roy and His Rock. Green rode with the monument ("like riding in the Rolling Stones’ tour bus") through Georgia and Alabama:
When the Rock attends a convention, it is the first thing to arrive and the last thing to leave. The process of moving it is orchestrated by Chris Scoggins, the stocky, bespectacled, and deeply sunburned driver of the International flatbed, who, with his assistant Mike Hill, works for Clark Memorials Incorporated, which carved the monument and now sees to its safe passage.
Typically, an image of the Rock is beamed onto a giant screen before Moore takes the stage. Most of his speeches, and even his idle conversations, obsessively return to it. He has even copyrighted the monument. Today the Rock plays a role weirdly analogous to that of a retired Kentucky Derby winner gone to stud: with Moore’s blessing, it is being cloned for a Baptist group in Atlanta.
Anyone who’s ever presented at a conference or a workshop recognizes the importance of props. Judge Moore, who deeded the monument to the state of Alabama but included a clause that returned ownership to him in the event of its removal from the courthouse, sure got himself one great prop…
It was good to see John Stossel take up the copyfight last night on 20/20. Well kind of:
C’mon ! All over the Internet are photos of things like furniture made out of beer cans, gladiator costumes made of Coors labels, and toy planes made of Pepsi cans. Sports Illustrated did a spread with models in bikinis made from Mexican beer bottle caps. Designer Lizzy Gardiner made an evening gown out of American Express Gold Cards and wore it to the Oscars.
He’s talking about Jose Avilla, who made furniture from FedEx boxes then set up a website to document it. FedEx, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, demanded it be taken down. I thought I had posted on Avilla before, when Wired News ran a story about him. Maybe I just commented somewhere else.
Wal-Mart’s another copyfighter I should have noted:
Seriously. In a federal hearing that could help determine the future availability of art and literature to the public, a Wal-Mart rep named Joe Lisuzzo called on Congress to rewrite copyright law so that more creative works can enter the public domain.
Specifically, Lisuzzo and Wal-Mart are pushing the government to change the way it deals with “orphan works,” which are described by the US Copyright Office as “copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate.” Orphan works can be literally anything from an old film clip to a line of computer code to a haiku scribbled on the back of a napkin. As the law stands, anyone who wants to reproduce an orphan work or tweak it into some novel creation (ÃƒÂ la sound collagists Negativland) has to hunt down the copyright holder for permission or risk getting sued… Talk about strange bedfellows: In this particular battle Wal-Mart is on the same side as librarians, intellectuals, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an activist group that spends much of its time wrangling with big corporations.
Larry Lessig, who’s quoted well in the article, should be proud.
From Joshua Green’s Atlantic profile of Judge Roy Moore:
These words [from his address to the Southern Baptist Pastors’ conference in Nashville] belong not to Moore but to Samuel Adams, who used them to address the members of Congress on August 1, 1776. But they neatly fit Moore’s view that his Ten Commandments battle is a critical part of the larger American epic, and that he himself is an American revolutionary like Adams. In Moore’s way of seeing things, the Founding Fathers intended the United States to be a Christian nation. He attributes the fact that many do not share this view to the malign influence of power-hungry federal judges and unprincipled lawmakers. Moore’s installation of the Rock was an effort to force the issue, and its intended effect was as much legal as political. Put simply, Moore believes that the law vindicates him, and he has plundered texts from the Bible to Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England to build an elaborate case that God is the basis of American government. Where Moore parts company with others who share this historical view is in his assertion that the government therefore falls under the sovereignty of God. His position goes beyond the notion of a civil religion and beyond even the views of most conservative judicial scholars. It amounts to theocracy. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers,” he declared in Nashville, citing Romans 13:1. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Much of his standard speech is devoted to a complex textual analysis in support of this argument, complete with a PowerPoint slide show citing key quotations.
Lest we think Roy Moore’s rise is a contained rural and southern phenomenon:
For years Moore’s has been a story that everybody in Alabama and almost nobody outside it knows. But the likelihood that he will challenge the state’s incumbent governor, Bob Riley, a fellow Republican, is bringing him back to national attention. The race between Riley, the darling of the business community, and Moore, the religious conservative in excelsis, is shaping up as a showdown between the two pillars of the Republican Party, with implications that reach far beyond Alabama. In the local parlance Moore appears poised to “ride the Rock” to the governorship and re-establish himself in the spotlight. Only this time, if the Lord delivers him there, he will have an eye toward reshaping not just his courtroom but also his country in the image of God.
Upon arrival by the State Dept. of Health yesterday, the folks at LIA/R claimed they had just received the notification that day and would need the 7 days granted in the letter to determine how they will proceed. After reading the information that EJ posted last night, I’m surprised they were granted the seven day extension. It seems as though, in addition to the possible insurance fraud issue, LIA/R may have been prescribing medications without a license as well.
UPDATE: LIA has 2 house manager positions listed under ”new employment opportunity posted”
Roy and Rove
Joshua Green’s Atlantic profile of Judge Roy Moore has this nugget on Moore’s encounter with Karl Christian Rove:
[T]he spotlight shifted to the contest to replace the retiring chief justice of the [Alabama] state supreme court. Three experienced candidates had already declared when, in November of 1999, the Christian Family Association began an effort to draft Moore. It seemed like a long shot. The favorite to win the primary was a sitting supreme-court justice named Harold See, who was backed by the state’s Republican establishment and the business community. And See had another advantage: his campaign was being run by Karl Rove.
Undaunted, Moore entered the race in December, making the announcement in his courtroom, with the Ten Commandments plaque prominently displayed behind him. Even after all the attention Moore was still viewed as a gadfly rather than a serious contender for the state’s highest judicial office. Underfunded, and the target of a vicious Rove attack campaign, Moore stayed focused on the Ten Commandments and his contention that religious laxity “corresponded directly with school violence, homosexuality, and crime.” His message was identical to the one in his previous race: “We must return God to our public life and restore the moral foundation of our law.”
On the day of the primary Moore delivered one of the most surprising defeats of Rove’s career, and later sailed to victory in the general election. This time the whole state witnessed it: Moore had defeated a black belt.