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August 17, 2002

You know how those people are Jeanne D’Arc has a sharp observation about the dustup over Jeb Bush’s pro-child-beating nominee to head Florida’s child welfare agency:
Asked if Governer Bush was aware of his appointee’s eccentric writings on the topic of families and children, an aide responded that he was not, but quickly brushed aside the question with a strange comment, “Many of our nation’s finest public servants past and present have been men and women of faith.”

Buried in the response is an enormous insult hurled at people of faith. What did the aide mean? Yes, his ideas are nuts but he’s religious — you know how religious people are?

The people of faith I know (and that includes some fairly conservative Christians) don’t believe in beating up children and recognize women as human beings equal to men. But they get mad when people equate stupidity, meanness, weak male egos, and temper control problems with religion — a notion shared by some atheists and most politicians trolling for votes on the fringes of the Christian right.

[09:31 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on You know how those people are:

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2002, 12:31 PM:

Nah, he probably meant So he's religious. You got a problem with that? It's an attempt to portray criticism of specific religious views as an attack on religion in general.

Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2002, 02:25 PM:

Given the quality of the rest of the article, it could well be that the quote was just taken out of context or misquoted.

Most of the piece rests on the fact/belief/assumption that Regier wrote or co-wrote the paper in question[1], which he denies[2]. The paper lists him as "Co-chairman", with an implication he was co-author, but it seems believable to me that it was really written by CoR staff, likely Jay Grimstead.

It also assumes Regier agrees with everything in the paper, which surely is rarely the case in committee-written documents.

Then there's the Gene Stipe quote...in one sentence, Regier's work dealing with the patronage scandal in the OK health department is mentioned, and OK senator Gene Stipe is quoted, without mentioning that Stipe was apparently the sponsor of several of the ghost employees in question.

[1] http://www.reformation.net/COR/cordocs/family.pdf
[2] http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2002/08/16/gov_bush/index.html

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2002, 02:36 PM:

I really don't buy all the fog about Regier's connection to the article. Does all this backpedaling really change the obvious fact that Regier is someone who advocates some remarkably nasty views of what's appropriate within families? Obviously not.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2002, 06:09 PM:

Let me see if I've got that straight, Todd: You believe that Regier put his name on an article he didn't write; one which didn't just list him as a contributor, but identified him as "Co-chairman", implying (as you yourself point out) that he was its co-author. You suggest that he was unfamiliar with the article's contents, and may even disagree with them.

You're obviously prepared to believe a lot of strange things, but the idea that this explanation is going to make me think better of Mr. Regier is the strangest of the lot.

Some sticklers would call him a fraud for putting his name on a paper he didn't help write. Others would be more lenient. We'll set that aside for now. But either way, an honorable man doesn't put his name to something, doesn't publicly endorse it, and then lightly disavow it later when it becomes inconvenient. He might as well say his word is worth nothing; it comes to the same thing.

If he's been careless in his endorsements -- and putting your name on an unfamiliar article with whose contents you disagree must surely qualify as carelessness -- he takes the hit. If he genuinely regrets putting his name on it, he needs to make a full public explanation plus apology. Endorsements are a public act; retractions have to be public as well.

If, on the other hand, he was aware of the article's contents, and is lying about it now as a matter of political convenience, he's a slimeball, and not worth your defending.

Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2002, 06:55 PM:

(First, a bug report, I assume: a comment I made, and which was mailed to my subscribed address, is now missing; and I never got email for Teresa's comment)

As I said in the missing comment, the main thing that set my alarm bells ringing in that article was the Stipe quote, without any explanation at all of the background between the two; Stipe is hardly an impartial observer, or even your run-of-the-mill Democratic partison observer.

I didn't mean to imply Regier was unfamiliar with the paper -- if he was, then yes, that's even more disturbing.

I've seen enough blue-ribbon committees work to have little trouble believing a final report could be issued which a co-chairman disagrees with; sometimes they resign rather than allow their name to be used, sometimes they decide for whatever reason not to. In this case, *according to Regier*, he decided not to, but had a change of heart a year later.

And as to public retractions -- you're absolutely right. And hopefully reporters are asking him if he did anything publically in 1990 when he claims to have broken with the CoR, and are trying to verify it.

And moving even more off-topic (wait, are there topics?), for a non-political example of the chair vs. author thing: the ISO/IEC 9899-1999 document, updating the standard C language, lists Jim Brodie and Rex Jaeschke as chairs and Thomas Plum and Tom MacDonald as vice-chairs; I don't think anyone would assume that those four agree with every decision that went into the standard, though, nor necessarily actually wrote any of it.

A political document for an individual candidate is an opposite extreme; a religious document for a supposedly ecumenical organization looks to me to be somewhere between those two.

Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2002, 06:57 PM:

Yes, a bug report -- trying to post a comment without an email address fails, but does send mail to subscribers, so if you don't actually *read* the browser screen, it looks like it succeeded. That doesn't explain not getting Teresa's comment in mail, though.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2002, 10:06 PM:

I'll also say I've had trouble getting things in email. If I subscribe to comments, I see some of the ones posted later but not all of them.


Vicki Rosenzweig ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2002, 03:01 PM:

Or it's another example of "we're the good guys, therefore above criticism": rather than defend or criticize the person's stance, Bush is saying "he's religious, he's a good person" (which is of course not necessarily true--being religious and being a good person are orthogonal) and implying "he's a good person in general, therefore he hasn't done anything wrong in this case" (which is pernicious nonsense).

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2002, 09:47 PM:

Regier, he claims, later split with the fundamentalist group that published the article about how it's okay to beat your kids so hard you raise bruises and welts.

That's not how the group remembers it, reports the Miami Herald:

A fundamentalist Christian theologian who headed the group that issued a radical Christian essay now linked to Jerry Regier, the new chief of Florida's child-welfare agency, said Saturday that he does not recall Regier cutting ties with his organization because of its "extreme views," as Regier said in a statement issued Friday.

Jay Grimstead, president of the Coalition on Revival, which funded and issued the document called The Christian World View of the Family, said that it was sometime around 1994 or 1995 -- about eight years after the original paper was issued -- that Regier left the group, politely declining to take part in another related project because he had taken a high-level government job in Oklahoma.

"He told me in a friendly letter that he was now working for the government, and from my recollection, that it was best for him to disassociate himself from the group. He expressed concern as to how others would view his involvement in such a group," Grimstead said from his home in Murphys, Calif.

Further comment would be superfluous.

Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2002, 01:01 AM:

Thanks for the followup, Patrick. And since, as Teresa said, retractions should be as public as claims are -- I retract everything I said, except as regards to the Stipe quote. I still think the story should have given more background on that relationship.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2002, 10:33 AM:

I agree; they could have given more background. And I apologize if I left any toothmarks on you.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2002, 10:51 AM:

Todd: I wouldn't worry overmuch about accusing Stipe of anything falsely. He's been in politics in Oklahoma for a long time now. If he hasn't done it, he will. Oklahoma politics, feh.

MKK--native Okie now living Elsewhere

Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2002, 01:21 PM:

Teresa: nope, no teeth

Mary Kay: hey, me too! Where in OK were you, and when did you escape?

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2002, 08:23 PM:

Todd: sorry for the delay in answering, I've been on the road. I was born and grew up in northeastern Oklahoma. Have undergrad and grad degrees from OU, so I lived in that area for about 9years too. At various times I've lived in Texas, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan and am now living in both California and Seattle. Around the first of the year it'll be only Seattle.

What's your story?


Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 01:18 AM:

I grew up in Oklahoma City, and lived in Norman for a few years too. I've been in Portland, OR for about 5 years now.

If you were involved in democratic politics in Muskogee or Norman, we probably know people in common. Laura Boyd's running for Lt. Governor this year, and from what I hear she's got a pretty good shot at it.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2002, 11:04 AM:

Nope, not involved in politics, just watching with disgust. I grew up in Muskogee and my parents stil llive there so I make twice yearly visits. Once they're gone I'll never go back. Ick. I still miss Norman on occasion though. When I was in grad school I spent way too much time hanging out with theatre students and bar bands. Lots of fun.


Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2002, 06:29 AM:

Another article, not *quite* as extreme as the CoR one (it apparently doesn't explicitely condone spanking that produces welts) has surfaced, this one undeniably written by Regier.