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« Bras unburned | Main | Party pooped »

May 23, 2010

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liv

Love your last paragraph... totally agree... It's almost as though they want "to start something"... when the moment of silence has always worked in the past....

"Some people, I'll tell ya....they can't leave good enough alone..." ...now I sound like an old hag....

Dr. Mary Johnson

For those of us who do believe in something, silence is NOT golden.

I can see, by this despicable editorial (on what is otherwise a lovely Sunday morning), that the gloves are off and the knives are out in the blogosphere.

Nice work, Mr. Cone.

Dave Ribar

Dr. Mary:

From the Fella that many of us believe in (just before He gave us the Our Father),

Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them...

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

jw

Friends Ed, Liv, and Dave speak my mind.

David Hoggard

It is those who believe in something and have need to make sure others know they believe in something that bugs (and concerns) me. I judge people by their actions, not their professed beliefs.

Generally, when I encounter a business or person who make their beliefs a part of their marketing (in effect: ..."trust me, I am a Christian") I generally run the other way as fast as possible because my experience has been that are usually "Christian" in name only.

Wearing one's beliefs on one's sleeve makes me wary of the motivations for doing so.

I've always adhered to the Advice Ribar quotes above.

Brandon Burgess

Ribar, I'm not sure your advice is relevant to us non-christians and I don't feel like christianity is being forced on me.

"It could be that introducing a potentially divisive issue into local politics serves an agenda."

--Where was this article during the "were sorry for 1979" campaign? It's crazy because I've seen one letter from an atheist who feels offended by this move. Most of the folks who are offended (in the name of protecting atheists like me) are jews and christians! Let's worry about the budget and our alleged police department hit squad seeking to eradicate hispanics and blacks from Greensboro, hmmm?

Brandon Burgess

It's strange how folks who "would find it appealing" simply don't want the mayor's move to stir up any controversy yet those folks are the ones who are the ones making all the noise! And hey, I'm no Knight cheerleader. Ed seems to hold a much more favorable opinion of the man but if you are worried about losing focus on other important issues, than focus on those issues instead of something this silly. It is quite possible that this issue is being drummed up to cover for something else.

Spag

Ed you've done enough of your own "sneering" on religious issues on your blog. I guess we are to believe that you will be changing your ways after denying they existed in the first place of course.

I am no longer stunned by your hypocrisy.

Brandon Burgess

Yeah Ed makes a big deal about what Guarino does while Ed himself tolerates "death to Islam" comments from his regulars. Remember the guy who wished for a plague to wipe out muslims, just a few weeks ago? Ed didn't seem to care (neither did finder-pointing, tolerant Sue P). I wonder why (really, I don't). But oh, let Guarino voice his concern over the collaboration of a powerful political party and an influential church. OUTRAGE!!

Account Deleted

@Hoggard:"Generally, when I encounter a business or person who make their beliefs a part of their marketing (in effect: ..."trust me, I am a Christian") I generally run the other way as fast as possible because my experience has been that are usually "Christian" in name only."

William S. Burroughs had good advice related to this topic.

It's number three on this list. I like number four as well.

Brandon Burgess

From Webster:

Prayer:

1 a (1) : an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought (2) : a set order of words used in praying b : an earnest request or wish.

--Is prayer inherently religious? Maybe someone should have figured that out before stirring the pot.

Brandon Burgess

It's strange how in Greensboro we pay outsiders to tell us how to run things but we are taken aback at the idea of coming together in spirit in order to promote a sense of unity and seriousness, two ideas which are obviously lost on council-members and citizens when it comes to city business.

Brandon Burgess

Who here felt alienated by the prayer at Obama's inauguration? Where was the outrage then? Doesn't council already pledge allegiance under god?

bubba

"It is quite possible that this issue is being drummed up to cover for something else."

Ya think?

Look for the other clues to come, particularly over seemingly unrelated items, and think about how they all fit into place concerning the co-ordinated campaign that's been going on regarding bill Knight since last November.Think about the larger meme in which this element fits, and think about the related issues involved.

Think about how it all fits in nicely with the way things are done in this town by those who relish the string-pulling power they possess over such an innocuous issue. Finally, think about the unwitting and unconscious enablers the string pullers are able to manipulate every time they're needed.

It's an amazingly nasty process to behold, yet it seems to work like a charm every time.

cheripickr

Brandon, in all fairness, Ed once wrote an inspiring, sincere and genuine plea for that very spirit of people working together to find areas of common ground that you express such a yearning for above. It’s well worth a complete re-read today.

From that day forward, with his shining example of sneerless post-partisan Obama to guide him, everything pragmatist Ed has written here clearly reflects his fresh “…a lot of us are more interested in solutions to problems than we are in demonizing people who might seek to solve those problems in a different way…” approach to potentially divisive issues. One of my personal favorites is his thoughtful and solution-seeking contribution to the community swim center topic. But other examples abound and are too numerous to count. In fact, I challenge you to find a single thread of his that could argue to the contrary.

One thing you can’t deny is that he practices what he preaches. Sometimes I wonder if you are one of those folks Ed refers to between proposing his solutions to our problems, as “more interested in setting people against each other than in getting something done”. So get over yourself and your surly attitude, Brandon. It just seems reasonable ;)

Andrew Brod

BB's comments are particularly off the mark today.

1. Yes, a prayer that mentions God (as we're told the mayor's will) is inherently religious.

2. BB makes the standard conservative mistake of conflating criticism of a remark with claiming that the remark should be banned or restrained. Regarding Guarino, Ed did the former, not the latter, and regardless of conservatives' inability to understand this, there is a difference. Conversely, deciding not to delete the poisonous and stupid commentary of one AAH is not the same as agreeing with said poison and stupidity.

3. Finally, opposition to the mayor's decision is not intended to "protect" atheists like BB. That's an extremely narrow and misguided view of what a secular public sphere means. The issue is the signal this sends to everyone, not just BB. The fact that religious people are among those who oppose public prayer might just tell us something.

Spag

CP, don't you understand by now that "common ground" and "non-partisanship" means agreeing with Ed and other liberals? You never read about Ed lamenting the lack of common ground because some left winger did something.

As I wrote the other day, you agree with him; he never agrees with you.

Thanks for bringing back up that wonderful conciliatory piece from last year. It was my attempt to hold Ed to the very standards he wrote about that caused him to ban me from his blog.

Now cue Brod and phony tough guy Sean Coon with "you're obsessed with Ed taunts" instead of actually debating the merits. Like I said, if you want a real serious and intellectual discussion of issues, look elsewhere.

Andrew Brod

I guess I wouldn't point to Spag's man-love for Ed (often masked as hate) if it weren't so pathetically apparent, and if it weren't used repeatedly to avoid discussion. If these guys could lift their self-victimization blinders (and apparently they can't), they might notice that there's been an actual discussion going on here.

Instead of complaining, they might consider explaining why public prayer is a good thing. But instead, Spag's very first comment on this thread was to complain about Ed's alleged sneering and hypocrisy. Wah wah wah.

eric

@Jeffrey -- Thanks for linking to the WSB clip. I hadn't seen that one before. I'll have to remember it if I ever have to give a graduation speech!

Brandon Burgess

So no one has a problem with the prayer at Obama's inauguration or pledging allegiance under god at every council meeting? Got it.

Brod, Ed frequently engages commenters he disagrees with. In the thread I mentioned, anti-muslim sentiments proliferated and I even asked Ed how he felt about it. I guess wishing for a plague to kill muslims doesn't bother him enough to speak out against it but prayer at a council meeting (a generally positive notion) is a "potentially divisive issue". Got it.

Meanwhile, it's budget time...we have the race/police issue...dozens of city employees holding the city hostage with lawsuits...if everyone is concerned that the prayer thing will interfere with other business, I have a solution; let's not let it interfere with other business.

Andrew Brod

BB, I didn't realize we were all responsible for stating our support or opposition to random things. But okay, I'll play.

I consider myself a religious person, but if it were up to me, there would be no public prayers at any government events or proceedings, including Congressional sessions and Obama's inauguration. If it were up to me, there would be no images or sculptures of the Ten Commandments on public grounds or in public buildings. If it were up to me, the words "under God," which were inserted in the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s out of fear of Godless communism, would be removed.

But none of these things is on the table. What is on the table is the ending of a simple and generally accepted tradition in the Greensboro City Council, in which a moment of silence was observed instead of someone reciting a public prayer. It was a sensible approach for a diverse city and now it's being changed. I oppose that.

Ed Cone

BB, I think a key difference between the scenarios you offer and this one is change -- Knight is changing something that seemed to be working fine, as opposed to continuing a tradition that might cause an outcry if instituted out of the blue today. Also, his timing seems terrible to me.

If I'd been writing a column when "under God" was inserted in the Pledge, I probably would have objected then. For that matter, I might have objected when the Pledge itself was introduced in the 1890s. I'm just conservative when it comes to government telling people what to say and believe.

I'm not sure what you're looking for from me on Ian's bizarre fantasy about Muslims, which I have now gone back and read. Even as a fantasy, it clearly goes against my own views, stated many ways and many times here. But comments are open -- in the past few days, I've watched without response as Angry as Hell repeated his Obama-is-a-Kenyan-Marxist/borderline threats-of-violence rant, and, after getting some clarification, done the same with Connie Mack's statement that Goldman Sachs is part of a Zionist plot to annex Argentina. That's hardly an endorsement of their views.

Dr. Mary Johnson

Dave, David, et al, knowing something of the huge chasm that often exists between what people say and what they do . . . and also having literally stood to sliently pray a grand-standing adversary off his stage (in a very public forum), I am more-than-familiar with the pitfalls of mixing church and "state" in small (and larger) towns:

http://drjshousecalls.blogspot.com/2008/01/by-their-fruits-ye-shall-know-them.html

But Ed is just flat-out wrong here. Prayer is a form of speech and in this country it is FREE. Moreover, it is amazing to me how those who preach religious tolerance the loudest have no tolerance at all for those who openly profess and practice their Christian faith.

And OBTW, silence is actually not rare at all in this world. Silence is all too common - and has played a huge hand in the corruption that permeates all aspects of North Carolina government . . .

. . . especially in those patches of blue where most of our governing has been done.

Spag

"they might notice that there's been an actual discussion going on here."

Yeah, there is. One about Bill Knight, and another about an attack on Joe Guarino for sins that Ed commits himself. The latter is one you never seem to want to address Brod except to attack the accusers and rush in to Ed's defense. That's the real "man love" that is "pathetically apparent".

Ed Cone

"Prayer is a form of speech and in this country it is FREE. Moreover, it is amazing to me how those who preach religious tolerance the loudest have no tolerance at all for those who openly profess and practice their Christian faith."

Right, people are free to pray. But organized prayer at a government function seems like the government ordaining prayer.

This is not about Christian faith. By law, as the column says, the public prayer has to be non-sectarian. Presumably, and based on the way these things usually go, they'd trot out an all-star roster of Jews and Catholics and Protestants and Muslims and all manner of other folk to lead the invocations.

Sue

Does anyone have a clue as to what this means? Was I complimented or insulted? Someone seems a trifle incoherent today.

"(neither did finder-pointing, tolerant Sue P)"
Terry

If Bill Knight asked a black veteran to say a prayer would everyone be happy?

Andrew Brod

You have a lot of nerve being tolerant, Sue.

Andrew Brod

"Prayer is a form of speech and in this country it is FREE."

One would be hard-pressed to find a more clueless statement than this. No one's saying that Bill Knight can't pray til he's blue in the face. I might even join him, if he doesn't mind his Jesus leavened with a b'racha or two, or if we can alternate between Amazing Grace and Mah Tovu.

But the public utterances of Mayor Bill Knight when he opens a public meeting of the city council are a different matter.

Sue

@ProfBrod - yeah, that 'tolerance' thing, I have to work on that. I'm still curious about that 'finder-pointing' - maybe it means that I'm supposed to find & memorize every comment on Ed's blog. (Some of us work during the day; others, I hope, are looking for similar. It's why I'm always late to the party.)

@Terry, who wrote, "If Bill Knight asked a black veteran to say a prayer would everyone be happy?" Um. No. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Do something more constructive with your time and leadership.

Sue

@ProfBrod: Actually, Amazing Grace is a pretty cool tune; inspiring with and without the words. Mah Tovu isn't my fav (but it's nice); I get the same Amazing Grace feeling with (pardon the translit) Adonai, Adonai, El Rachum v'Chanun [carefully closing my italics tag] and I can't name a Jew who doesn't love the everyone-sings-along Aleinu (in part because it's the closing hymn and if you actually read it, it's really powerful (and, of course, it got a lot of historical Jews murdered because it says we don't bow down to anyone besides G-d).

But none of them belongs at a City Council meeting, no matter how beautiful they are or what percentage of the population likes them.

Terry

"No. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."... and who decides when something is broke?

Brandon Burgess

Sue, I meant finger-pointing. The one's pointing the fingers appear to be the most serious offenders. Of course, it goes both ways.

I'm still trying to understand what religion Knight is imposing on us because as stated here, prayer is inherently religious.

"Right, people are free to pray. But organized prayer at a government function seems like the government ordaining prayer...This is not about Christian faith. By law, as the column says, the public prayer has to be non-sectarian. Presumably, and based on the way these things usually go, they'd trot out an all-star roster of Jews and Catholics and Protestants and Muslims and all manner of other folk to lead the invocations.

--Yet you never spoke out about the prayer at the Presidential inauguration. No column, no blogpost.

Brandon Burgess

"BB, I didn't realize we were all responsible for stating our support or opposition to random things. But okay, I'll play."

--I didn't realize you were either. When Ed responds, on his blog, to every nitpicking comment from Bubba, Spag, DrJ and so on yet tolerates outright hate speech toward a group of people (not from an AAH), I sense that something is up.

"Do something more constructive with your time and leadership."

--Maybe Knight can force Greensboro to apologize for what the klan did in 1979. That isn't a divisive issue that will generate critical blogposts and newspaper columns is it?

cheripickr

...nor does anyone currently seem terribly inclined to discuss any analogy between traditional inaugural prayer (which is forced upon the entire nation in broad daylight--horrors!)and this "radical change" being foisted upon us by our (take-your-pick) either A.clueless or B.uncaring mayor, which fortunately, only a handful of people would be forced to endure.

Sue

Let's all take a deep breath and imagine what our already-noisy world would sound like if President Obama had decided to go against a century or so (I suppose) of inaugural prayer. But on a more personal note, I was terribly disappointed in the President's choice of prayer deliverer precisely because he was unarguably sectarian, promotes a particular brand of religion (although at the inaugural, we found it amusing which Jewish prayer he tried to invoke), and works against the full rights of all Americans (and calls some of them names). One actual question: I don't know if the incoming President sets the inauguration agenda; I thought Congress-critters did that, but am not sure.

The distinction: national inauguration, long history of prayer. GSO City Council meeting, no prayer and alluvasudden, prayer, er... invocation. It wasn't broken. It didn't need fixing. It's got another motive and I'm uneasy with what that might be.

Marshall

Amen...to an unknown motive.

Account Deleted

Eric: Have you heard the version on the Bill Laswell project Material?

That album is a must have. WSB does another track called The Western Lands on another album. Check out the guitar work from the 2:05 mark on.

Brandon Burgess

Damn Jeff, a Laswell fan and an electric Miles fan? I thought I was the only one in NC. They used a Laswell/Burroughs piece during a montage on the Sopranos once. Did you ever hear Burroughs and Cobain?

Sue, Ed, I'm sorry for insinuating what I was yesterday. It is unfair to expect you both to jump on every vile asshole in the blogosphere. My comments were off topic and incoherent. I'm working on it.

While the prayer just doesn't bother me (in fact, I feel that it can do more good than harm), I have to concur that this issue should have been left alone by Knight.

Bubba

"I have to concur that this issue should have been left alone by Knight."

But it did give Cone a chance to cheap shot Joe Guarino, didn't it?

Ed Cone

BB: I responded to your questions here.

Bob, I think Joe's attack on Kay Hagan for attending the wrong church is a bad and ugly thing. You are welcome to agree with the religious test Joe wishes to impose on politicians, and/or to disagree with my analysis of it, but just whinging that I dared voice a contrary opinion doesn't say much.

beelzebubba

He couldn't quite explain it

They'd always just gone there.

Bubba

"Bob, I think Joe's attack on Kay Hagan for attending the wrong church is a bad and ugly thing."

Think whatever you want. It doesn't magically excuse you from being a cheap shot artist.

Ed Cone

Bob, this comes down to the actual point of the column CP referenced -- rather than just reacting to the fact that an idea floated by someone you perceive as an ally drew criticism from someone you've designated an enemy, why not engage on the substance of the idea and the criticism instead?

We all agree that I suck, and that I write a sucky column, and a worse blog. But even a blind squirrel can find a nut.

Maybe questioning a person's fitness for public office based on his or her place of worship is a terrible idea, with highly negative potential for local politics. That's what I think, and that's what I said. What do you think?

Spag

"You are welcome to agree with the religious test Joe wishes to impose on politicians..."

And yet by implication, Ed does the same thing. Too much religion, and you won't pass HIS test.

Ed Cone

Untrue, Sam, no matter how often you repeat it.

I do hold to the Constitutional principles of secular government, but that does not mean that religious people cannot or should not hold office, and I don't think I've said any different.

Danny Thompson

Ed, friends came up to me after church asking "Why are you taking Ed's side on the prayer issue?" So after all this and Google, I was chagrined to read that you're not my closest ally in the blogosphere! LOL

Bubba

"Bob, this comes down to the actual point of the column CP referenced...."

No, the point is that you took advantage of your newspaper column to take a cheap shot. It's a venue that Joe doesn't have, and it arguably reaches a wider audience who have only the supposed "facts" you provide. This of course assumes N&R readers actually READ what you write.

Even if he lowered himself to your standards, Joe still doesn't have a newspaper column to put the lie to what you wrote about him.

It doesn't matter that you suck professionally. It DOES matter that you have no personal integrity.

Ed Cone

Thanks for dropping by, Councilman, and for your good humor, not to mention your leadership on Google.

I think in politics one can have BF, but not BFF, or at least not on every issue.

Roch101

Er, let's see, Ed reaches a wider audience by publishing a column nobody reads.

"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." -- Ayn Rand

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