aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, March 28, 2008
Dinner @ NOLA
Like a whirlwind, Emeril Lagasse has taken New Orleans dining to new levels ......... with his fresh adaptations of classic Creole cuisine.
Nola established its identity as a funky, informal restaurant whose menu features the fresh adaptations of New Orleans Creole and Acadian Cajun for which Lagasse is renowned.
A relaxed atmosphere and the signature personal attention of Lagasse’s staff lure his local following in the French Quarter. Nola’s location, innovative menu and personable service make visitors and locals alike feel at home.
Our hosts are apparently regulars so we were treated like royalty. Wine, appetizers, and dessert just appeared—and kept coming. A heavenly treat!
ex-gay camp leader John Smid leaves Love In Action
The rumors are true. I spoke with Josh Morgan, communications manager at Love In Action. He has confirmed that John Smid has resigned from the Memphis-based residential ex-gay program. A quiet announcement was made to staff and supporters, and an official announcement will be made in their April 1st newsletter to subscribers. Josh had no further details or statement about the announcement.
Love In Action gained worldwide attention in 2006 when a gay 16-year-old by the name of Zach posted on MySpace blog that he was about to be involuntarily committed to Love In Action’s youth live-in program “Refuge.” Thanks to Zach’s myspace post, the world was able to learn about the complicated and bizarre rules that all house residents are expected to follow. When he was committed to a two-month stay in the residential program, his plight spawned international outrage along with unprecedented protests in Memphis. It also inspired filmmaker Morgan Fox to begin filming the documentary, “This Is What Love In Action Looks Like,” which is currently in post-production. Last July, it was announced that the controversial youth program was shut down.
More recently, we examined just a little bit about what goes on in Love In Action. I talked about my reaction to hearing him talk at last summer’s Exodus conference on the evils of masturbation. Particularly disturbing: Smid’s bragging to an audience of mostly celibate men that “my wife’s vagina is enough for me!”
Challenging the candidates on the death penalty
Lawyers in the Troy Anthony Davis case filed a motion with the Georgia State Supreme Court yeserday to reconsider its refusal to grant their client a new trial. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer headline suggests public opinion is not on their side, Convicted cop killer wants court to reconsider its denial of new trial:
Their motion asks the high court to order a lower court to hold a hearing on evidence they say proves Troy Davis’ innocence.
A decision on the motion to reconsider could come by mid-April, the state Supreme Court said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the court, in a 4-3 decision, denied a new trial for Davis, even though several witnesses against him recanted their testimony.
Meanwhile Ben Jones, a first-year political-science graduate student and a member of the Amnesty International club at Yale writing in the Yale Daily News, notices the presidential candidates aren’t much interested in speaking to the death penalty issue:
Such lack of concern is troubling given the persistent problems plaguing the death penalty in this country. Firstly, time and again studies show that race influences the likelihood that an individual convicted of murder will receive a death sentence. There is also evidence suggesting that the number of wrongfully convicted individuals on death row is alarmingly high. Since 1973, 125 death row inmates have been released on account of evidence overturning their convictions. [...]
Legislation in recent decades has had the effect of only exacerbating the injustices of the death penalty. Particularly troubling has been the impact of the Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), a law deemed by some as a more egregious assault on civil liberties than the Patriot Act. This legislation, signed into law by President Clinton, had, as one of its principal goals, shortening the time between conviction and execution for those sentenced to death. In order to accomplished this goal, the habeas corpus rights of death row inmates was severely limited.
To be sure, the law has expedited the executions of a number of rapists and murderers. But it has also had the effect of cutting short the appeals process for possibly innocent individuals - individuals such as Troy Anthony Davis. [...]
To say that the situation faced by Davis is common would be an exaggeration. But with the AEDPA in place, it occurs more often than one may think. The Davis case should have sparked - and perhaps still can - a national debate about the unwanted consequences of federal and state death penalty laws.
Unfortunately, the candidates have failed thus far to lead the debate. McCain has never wavered in his support of the AEDPA, and Clinton has made no indication that she disagrees with her husband’s support for the law. Obama, though more ready to admit problems in the administration of capital punishment, has offered little in the way of substantive measures for remedying these problems on a national scale.
A case currently before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of lethal injection holds the possibility of bringing the death penalty back into the public consciousness. It would be naive to believe, however, that the candidates, on their own initiative, will draw attention to a potentially explosive issue like the death penalty. Presently, there is no electoral incentive to do so.
It is therefore important that during this campaign season we force the candidates to refocus on the dismal reality of the death penalty. To challenge the view that, as Obama puts it, a community needs to be able to express “the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment.” Is not the true audacity of hope rather believing in - and fighting for - a community that does not have to validate itself through revenge?
Beautifully put Ben!