I've got a few beefs that have really got me burned lately.
They are: continuing racism in the county, intolerance under the guise of religion and legislators who don't know how to legislate.
It seems like almost every week, there is one reported case of racism here in the county. I wonder how many are not reported out of fear of reprisal. We've got the skinheads still distributing hate newspapers in Columbia because they don't like the fact that Columbia is integrated.
There are also a growing number of racial incidents occurring predominantly in the western part of the county. These are the'90s. I thought the old ways were behind us, but all of a sudden, we're seeing white middle school kids spraying disinfectant on a black student, white elementary school kids using racial epithets toward a 7-year-old black student and a black sixth-grade girl being called racist names daily.
Other racial episodes in western Howard County included the defacing of a black church near Mount Airy with racial epithets and the Ku Klux Klan recruiting members in Lisbon.
Have we forgotten about the bar in the western county that never desegregated? It had separate entrances for blacks and whites with separate areasfor both. This place was allowed to exist well into the '70s, long after laws prohibiting such policies had been enacted.
And I will never forget the time in 1967 when my friend Wendell Munson and I stopped at a small bar on Route 108 for a beer. The bartender informed ushe would sell us the beer, but we couldn't consume it there, becauseMunson was black. I felt like I had been transported to Alabama in the '50s.
So maybe things haven't changed much, and parents are still indoctrinating their children with racial hatred in parts of our county. When will people learn that this is not acceptable and begin to treat others as individuals, not groups?
Then we have those using religion to try to deny an AIDS victim the chance to speak about his illness at Glenwood Middle School as part of the school's disabilities awareness program. The man is not promoting homosexuality, he's just speaking about what it is like to have AIDS.
Those opposing the speaker say the Bible condemns homosexuality. One can find any number of references in the Bible to practices that we no longer believe in, such as the treatment of women as subordinate to men, the use of slavery and the stoning of disobedient children, to mention a few. Scientists believe that homosexuality may not be voluntary, but may have physiological causes.
On to my third beef: We have a lot of problems that need to be addressed in this county and state, most of themof an economic nature. Yet we have elected officials who waste the legislative bodies' and the taxpayers' time with questionable legislation. We have Councilman Darrel Drown, who introduces a voter-insulting bill to limit terms of elected officials and another to stop teachers from smoking in the faculty rooms.
Del. Martin Madden wanted tointroduce a bill that would tax sexually oriented 900 numbers. It was shown that only 3 percent of 900 number calls nationally are to these lines. How much revenue would this collect?
Del. John Morgan doesn't like a bar in North Laurel that features bikini-clad dancers, so he wants a bill that would add Howard to three other jurisdictions prohibiting "obscene" performances. We already have such a law in Howard County, but it doesn't say that bikinis are obscene, I guess.
That's what amazes me about conservatives. They are opposed to big government, and talk about getting government off your back. However, they are the first to want restricting legislation to ban something they don't like personally, instead of allowing others to choose for themselves.
In the same vein, how about some of the folks who have run for the school board on the agenda: "I don't want my child going to another school because they redrew the boundaries." No other platform items, just "I'm mad and I want to get on the board so this can't happen to me again."
By the way, time-wasting legislation crosses all party lines. Democratic Sens. Thomas Yeager and Charles Smelser, who represent parts of Howard County, want the legislature to petition Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit flag-burning. Wasn't this issue put to rest about three years ago? Come on, guys, let's do something about the budget shortfalls and the lack of money for vital services. Time's wasting!