Tuesday, August 20, 2013

* The Gospel of Pussyfooting According to Scott Jackson, Mayor of Hamden, Connecticut

Hamden Mayor, the Hon. Scott Jackson

Was I the Object


An Unlikely 


Both the Mayor of Hamden, Mr. Scott Jackson,  and the Dean of Yale Divinity School  disagreed with my use of the media in the Tsarnaev burial plot offer.

The Mayor had the audacity to lecture me on Christian behavior: 

I certainly hope if this offer is legitimate, and is legitimately being offered in the spirit of whom it claims to be, then I would guess it would actually be done in a different way --- in a quiet way, in a Christian way, that represented or required no additional comment."

 (Original article, New Haven Register)

The Dean of the the Divinity School said he did not wish to be involved in brokering the offer to the Tsarnaev family or to Islamic  clergy because “you went to the media.”

This aversion to the media  in deference to a pussyfooting Christianity goes against every lesson I have learned in social change in the last four decades. 

It also goes against an ancient Palestinian Carpenter's  behavior toward the money-changers in the Temple: No pussyfooting ("quiet way") there, Mayor Jackson.  I susbcribe to the  "spectacle" branch of Christianity; the ride-a-white-ass-into-Jerusalem-in-broad-daylight side of the religion, not the sedate, hushed,  country-club Christianity of suburbia.

Or what about the media manipulation ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr., 50 years ago?

Was that a "quiet way, a Christian way", Mayor Jackson?

I doubt that Mayor Jackson and the Divinity Dean would object to Dr. King's use of the media, his loud not "quiet,  Christian way."

Or perhaps they both feel that such 'loud', media manipulation is inappropriate for a privileged, 'propah', Yale educated white man?
Especially a white man without a social movement behind him?

Is this a racism of a different color----or an absence of color? 

Or is it just garden variety country-club-Christianity classism? 
(God forbid the middle class should  start using radical, guerilla-theatre tactics too. We must stay in our place.)


Sometimes hatred has to be outfoxed, no matter the race of the out-foxer.

I should know.

In 1972, being a Kent State student or having a Kent State degree was like handing a pirate a piece of paper with a black spot on it: the kiss of death

On Christmas Eve 1972, a project I created and pitched to the media at Kent State called “Pop’s Snow Squad"  changed the perception of Kent State students nationally when it  became the Christmas story on the Walter Cronkite CBS Evening News as a Charles Kuralt “On the Road” piece

 Jim Bruss,  Director of  the Kent State News Service   called it “the best piece of publicity ever to come out of Kent State  It challenged the national bigotry toward Kent State students and the fatal Kent State protests which had been burgeoning in the country.

In 1984 at Yale, the national bigotry went something like this “AIDS is a fag disease. Quarantine all those fags.”

A project I created in New Haven while at Yale Divinity School -------AIDS Information Dissemination Service ----- identified the heterosexual transmission of AIDS,  a fact previously unrecognized in America  but well known in Africa, however, a fact which had been ignored by American  journalists who allowed the homophobic hatred of "those fags who spread  AIDS," to persist unchallenged. 

Until 1983/4.

My public disclosure of the existence of a New Haven prostitute who had transmitted AIDS to her infant created a media  and law enforcement firestorm. http://aidsatyale.blogspot.com

The subsequent 60 Minutes piece called “Helen” revealed to Americans for the first time, that AIDS could be transmitted by women. See video above.

After that disclosure to 20 million viewers, the  hateful national gossip that AIDS was a “fag disease” lost its poisonous punch.

Suddenly everyone was vulnerable.  Safe sex, previously a taboo topic, became a household word once transmission was seen as a potential household problem.

At this point I took 25-years off  as an activist for a career as a public school English teacher in Vermont. I thought I was done with preaching any gospel beyond Grammar. 

Fast forward thirty years to 2013, a year into my retirement. At an April gathering of colleagues at a Hanover haunt called Everything But Anchovies (EBA's) for pizza, I told the group  who inquired  how I was surviving retirement, "I have always regretted that I never 'used' my divinity degree."

Be careful what you regret.

Suddenly, public  hatred toward the alleged Boston bombers prevented burial of the Tsarnaev brother killed by police in a Boston shoot-out. The media-besieged undertaken in Massachusetts was running out of options and his plight was reported daily in the news, as a kind of circus sideshow:

  • I knew instantly  from my previous experiences with CBS News re: Kent State and AIDS, that the way to heal this festering societal infection was to use the media to cauterize it. 

I was "Called" to act as surely as intuition exists in the world. 

Why me? 

I have no idea.

The Mayor of Hamden and perhaps even the Dean of Yale Divinity School apparently saw that use of media as un-Christian. 

The proof is in the pudding: 

  • Within 48-hours of its erupting in the national media (video above; editorials, article  links  here) the Hamden burial plot controversy based on the Christian scripture  (LINK) “Love thine enemy" resolved itself when religious citizens in Virginia -- ordinary folk like myself --  banded together using the same scriptural reference as I had used to arrange a burial for the killed Tsarnaev brother in a rural Islamic cemetery. 

Even my Vermont/New Hampshire newspaper noted the parallel 

A white man, using Martin Luther King tactics of manipulating the national media to focus on the injustice of national bigotry, had ----- for the third time in forty years --- out-foxed the haters, including his own cousins whose  reaction, unamended to this day,  was to disown him.

It's all a mystery to me.

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