Saturday, September 01, 2007

La Cage aux Folles Riles Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida

I found this to be particularly outrageous. It's censorship of the arts for one thing. But I think Bishop Howe's biggest beef is that it's about a subject near and dear to his's about tolerance and respect for those who are G/L/B/T. Simply because the plot dealt with cross dressing, they had to give it a PB-13 rating. Not good enough for the Episcopoevangelical bishop. For those non-Episcopalians reading this, let me tell you a little bit of history about Bishop Howe. He was disappointed years ago when Pat Robertson ran for president and lost. When Robertson decided to return to ministry, Bishop Howe, along with other Robertson groupies 'laid hands upon him' to return him to ministry, which now consists of peddling his health food drink, bellyaching about homosexuals taking over the United States and denying dealing in blood diamonds with the former butcher of Liberia. What a fine model of the episcopate he is! The Episcopal church has many loving, accepting bishops, priests and members. But it also has its share of bigots, including the episcopate. Gordon ************************************************************************** From the Orlando Sentinel - Bishop nixes Trinity Prep playThe move to cancel 'La Cage aux Folles' riles students and parents. ** The school theater production aimed to "push the limits," and it did -- way too far for its conservative Episcopal bishop. ** Trinity Preparatory School canceled its opening-night performance of La Cage aux Folles on Friday at the request of Bishop John Howe, head of the Diocese of Central Florida."His request was not to stage the production, and we decided to honor his request," said Headmaster Craig Maughan, who called off Friday's and tonight's planned performances. "I met with the cast and all the people involved in the production and announced the decision and explained it to them." ** "There was disappointment among students, but I would say they understood."The award-winning musical comedy, which opened on Broadway in 1983, features a middle-aged gay couple and actors dressed in drag. ** Howe learned about the performance when he read a story about it in Thursday's Orlando Sentinel. Howe said in an e-mail response to questions that he recognized it was difficult to cancel a show hours before the curtain went up but said he was grateful for Maughan's decision. ** The bishop was surprised "that any high school would sponsor this particular production," he wrote. "Having to put a 'PG-13' warning label on a dramatic production certainly seems an unusual decision for a Christian preparatory school." ** Howe, a leader of conservative bishops in the Episcopal Church, USA, has been vocal on issues of sexual orientation and in 2003 strongly opposed the election of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire. That election, and the issue of blessing same-sex unions, has created a rift in the Episcopal Church. ** Trinity Prep, which is on the border of Orange and Seminole counties, is one of four high schools in the Central Florida diocese.Maughan said he would meet with the school's administrative council and board of directors early next week and decide whether to hold performances at the school next week."I'm very sad," said Janine Papin, chairwoman of Trinity Prep's fine- arts program and director of the show. ** But she also hoped for "a happy outcome" -- perhaps off-campus performances -- and had "faith in some very strong leaders" at the school where she has worked for eight years. ** Mostly, she said she was sorry misconceptions about the musical had brought problems to Trinity."La Cage really isn't about a gay couple. It's about family," Papin said. "It's funny and endearing, and there's a wonderful message about being comfortable with who we are. And it really doesn't have to deal with sexuality." ** In the show, one partner runs a French nightclub and the other performs there as a drag queen. Their life is upended when one man's son brings home his fiancee and her ultraconservative parents. ** The musical, which won several Tony Awards, was also made into an American movie, The Birdcage, staring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. ** Last week, Papin told the Sentinel she picked the show because she wants "to push the limits so that there are very few shows that are off-limits for the kids because of sexual orientation or because of religious differences or whatever it is. ** "The performances were to be the culmination of Trinity Prep's intensive summer musical-theater class. ** Papin had told Trinity Prep administrators of her selection and was asked to put a PG-13 label on promotional posters. Her news release explained the show involved a gay couple and said "the audience should be age appropriate for the content."No one seemed concerned, she said. Earlier Friday, posters for the show dotted the campus, and a number of Trinity Prep students wore T- shirts touting the show. ** "I had no idea that this sort of nonsense would come up at the last minute," she added.The student cast members were told of the decision late Friday, some as they arrived on campus to get ready for what they thought was a 7:30 p.m. performance -- the first of six planned shows. ** One mother said her child was "absolutely furious" about the cancellation.The mother asked not to be identified after the headmaster asked parents and students not to comment to the press."I would like the show to go on. It has absolutely nothing to do with the bishop," the mother said. "I don't think it has anything to do with the church."The mother noted the musical ran on Broadway for many years and preaches a message of tolerance, a message that many students take to heart. ** The cast was mostly students from the prep school, though it included a few from public high schools and 20-year-old Benjamin Rush. He stepped in to play one of the leading men when the student actor was injured."I understand this is a private school, a religious school," Rush said, but that didn't make the decision easier for the cast. "I'm upset because of the censorship of the arts." ** Headmaster Maughan said the school would continue to produce "challenging productions," but added, "It is important to evaluate the importance of musicals or plays and consider them in light of our position as an Episcopal school." ** Correspondent Jill Duff-Hoppes contributed to this report. Leslie Postal can be reached at 407-420-5273 or Dave Weber can be reached at 407-320-0915 or © 2007, Orlando Sentinel


Moral Values

Millions of Americans have been watching with great interest the arrest of Senator Larry Craig for playing footsie with an undercover cop and the strong call for his resignation from the U.S. senate. Pundits and politicians decry that it’s not the same thing as Senator David Vitters tryst with a prostitute. Why not? Well, they say, Senator Craig plead guilty and Senator Vitters never got arrested.


So there you have it. Ethics don’t matter. You can be a U.S. senator who visits prostitutes and it’s okay as long as you don’t get arrested. That’s not seen as a moral issue to the right wing because it was heterosexual wrongdoing as opposed to homosexual.


How America views morality is distressing in the grand scheme of things. Issues like poverty, lack of health care and homelessness, corruption and corporate fraud aren’t considered moral issues “to worry my pretty head over,” as Barbara Bush put it when asked about the high death rate of our soldiers in Iraq.


These are some of the things that I few as moral issues that bug the heck out of me:


The economy is great if you’re lucky enough to be in the top 5% of wealthiest people in the U.S. A year ago, a Wall Street Journal poll reflected that 2/3 of the American people believed that America is in a recession. President Bush says that our economy is strong. So who is right, Bush or the American people?


The disconnect is that President Bush view’s economic success by how well the corporations are doing financially. If you’re a CEO of a giant corporation the economy is going great. When you outsource American jobs to foreign countries who utilize slave labor to manufacture the cheap goods Americans want, yeah, you get rich. CEO’s of big corporations who keep their employees in America, they keep their corporate profits high by hiring employees part time so they don’t have to pay benefits like health insurance.


Teddy Roosevelt recognized this problem. And he was a Republican. He fought the corporate idea of getting wealthy by working employees for so many hours and so hard for very long hours that it was near slave labor. He saw this as immoral, corporate greed.

- President Wilson on the other hand believed that liberty is allowing corporations to get rich by keeping wages low, the work hours long and not spending money on benefits for their employees. Under the policies of the Bush administration, the U.S. finds itself in debt to China up to our eyeballs. We borrowed billions of dollars from China to pay for the war in Iraq. Manufacturing plants in America continue to close as our jobs are outsourced, throwing more Americans into unemployment and loss of health insurance.


Under the Bush administration, the corporations have continued to get wealthier and wealthier. And not through entirely honest means. The lack of oversight of the billions of dollars wasted due to fraud, kickbacks and pure greed during the reconstruction of Iraq, is not by accident. The move of the Halliburton headquarters from the U.S. to off shore isn’t an accident. It was a deliberately planned way of stealing billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars outside of the reach of American laws. And we all already know that electricity, sewage, water, hospitals and schools in Iraq are being destroyed as fast as they get repaired or built. And the CEO’s are slapping each other on the back with their obscene earnings, all the way to the bank. With the stroke of a pen, President Bush signs his signing statements that these things aren’t to be investigated as he gives a proud wink to his corporate friends.


Now comes the NAFTA Mexican trucker situation. Before going on their August recess, our congress voted that Mexican truck drivers will be held to the same standards as American and Canadian truckers are subject to. But after congress left town, Bush got out his handy signing statement pen (signing statements are a mechanism that the president can change himself from President to King), stating that this law is null and void.


Effective today, Mexican truckers can not drive all over America without any mandatory rest requirements. The safety of American drivers is now at risk because there WILL be an increase in accidents on the freeways and roads in America. Their pay is low which American corporations like because now they can outsource our union truck driving jobs to Mexico.


We have no idea the number of illegal aliens who will be transported on these trucks into the U.S. Illegal drug smuggling and transporting terrorists into the U.S. will increase.


The U.S. needs to get out of this NAFTA crap. It’s destroying our country, destroying our workforce and making American unsafe. - I’m praying that our congress will grow a backbone and get America out of Nafta and start putting safeguards in place to protect our country and our jobs. I hope that America will one day wake up and say “NO!” to the continued immorality of greed that is destroying our country.


Before I get into statistics about the sorry state of health care in the U.S., let me tell you about my own situation. In February of 2005, when I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease after undergoing MRI’s, Pet scans, neurological and neuropsychological testing, and multiple lab work. My neurologist prescribed Aricept. My dad was on Aricept for the last two years of his life and it worked just fine. Coincidentally, that is also the length of time Aricept works for. After that, it’s effectiveness decreases.
My neurologist gave me the packet of a months supply. I never dreamed that my Blue Cross/Blue Shield would deny me the medication. Therefore, I innocently enough took the prescription to the pharmacy to be filled a few days before I took the last dose from the packet.


BC/BS denied me the medication. Not once, but twice. I went for about two weeks without the medication. While waiting for the denial on the second attempt, I drafted my letter to my senator, Bill Nelson (great guy by the way). Finally, I won my appeal and I had a year of freedom from fighting with the insurance company. Thank God, I won the appeal. Like my dad, I am one of the lucky folks whom Aricept not only stopped the deterioration of the brain cells by the tangles and plaques choking my brain cells, but actually improved my memory. After three months on it, I wasn’t dropping words due to forgetting what the word was I was grasping for. -

But then my neurologist, knowing that Aricept was only good temporarily, decided to ad Namenda. Blue Cross/Blue Shield went nuts! They totally would not allow me to have both. However, this also happened at a time when I was very busy and didn’t want to take the time to fight with them. -

As a federal employee, I have the same choices in health insurance that all federal employees have, including our elected officials in the house and senate. Like most of them, I chose Blue Cross/Blue Shield. It’s not so great, but it’s better in many ways than the other choices. Please believe me when I say that yes, I’m grateful for my health insurance but the state of health care in the United States is such that even if you have good health insurance, a person still has to fight for their coverage. -

Besides doing crosswords, political activism and researching issues helps keep my mind sharp. Mental masturbation is one of the best things to stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Anyway, like many, I’ve heard numbers thrown around by our presidential candidates and the news media about 8 million more Americans being without health insurance. I wondered exactly what they based this information on and over how long a period of time this 8 million joined the ranks of the uninsured. -

I went looking on the Internet and found this wonderful site: the National Coalition on Health Care, and found the information I was looking for. -

I learned that 47 million Americans, or 16% of the population were without health insurance in 2005, the latest government data available. -

The number of uninsured rose1.3 million between 2004 and 2005 and increased by almost 7 million since 2000. That’s how we come up with the 8 million number. -

82 million people, about 1/3 of our population under the age of 65 spent a portion of either 2002 or 2003 without any health insurance coverage. -

More than 8 in 10 uninsured are working families. -

In 2005 nearly 15% of employees had no employer sponsored health coverage. _

This shouldn’t be happening in America. This IS a moral issue. The death rate in New Orleans from the chronic illnesses (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc…) and mental illness is 45%! I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but if a government won’t help get doctors and nurse’s into the city which is greatly depleted of health care professionals, what does this reflect about the United States as a country? -

The U.S. now ranks number 46 in worldwide mortality rates. Still births and infant mortality is rising at an alarming rate while the state presidents and vice presidents of Blue Cross/Blue shield and the HMO’s are taking home millions of dollars in bonuses. The more claims denied, the more bonuses awarded. -

Please get active if you‘re not already. Call your elected officials and demand that health care be provided for all Americans. A country of a sick citizenry is a sick country that cannot grow and prosper.