Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Cities of God and Man," March 27, 2010

Targeted community

There are 80 billboards dotting Georgia with the message, "Black children are an endangered species." The billboards direct drivers to toomanyaborted.com, where viewers learn that although blacks comprise only 30 percent of Georgia's population, a disproportionate number (58 percent) of Georgia's 35,000 abortions are performed on black women. Although blacks make up 13 percent of the population nationwide, they account for 39 percent of the abortions.

Catherine Davis, minority outreach director for Georgia Right to Life, says the abortion industry deliberately locates its centers in urban populations where many blacks reside, marketing them to reach blacks. Davis said as a black woman herself, her purpose is not to "degrade or belittle or dehumanize black women. . . . It's about the industry and how they have chosen to target certain populations."

Freedom & folly

Four years ago Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq, and his parents held a private funeral service for him at St. John's Catholic Church in Westminster, Md. The notorious pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps Sr., appeared outside the funeral with some of his family members to protest, holding up signs that read "Matt in hell," and "Thank God for dead soldiers." The group's adherents picket all over the country, believing that soldiers are being punished for the United States' tolerance of homosexuality. The Marine's father sued Phelps and won a $5 million award, but a federal appeals court turned back that ruling because it argued that Phelps' speech was protected under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court agreed on March 8 to review the case in its next term, which begins in October.

Hitting the books

Tis the season of political memoirs. Karl Rove, a top adviser to former President George W. Bush, just released his memoir titled Courage and Consequence, defending the Bush administration and denying that it purposefully misled the country about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Mitt Romney also released his book, No Apology, which is perhaps more forward-looking than reflective. The book release tour ran through Iowa and New Hampshire, suggesting Romney's presidential aspirations. Former President George W. Bush announced he will be publishing a book this fall, tentatively titled Decision Points, reflecting on his presidency. Upon announcing his plan, he joked, "This is going to come as quite a shock to people up here that I can write a book, much less read one." His wife Laura Bush is writing her own memoir, Spoken from the Heart, which is due out in May.

Together and apart

Living together before marriage will give your marriage less chance of survival, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics. Cohabiting is becoming the "first co-residential union" for more and more couples, the study said: Half of women and 48 percent of men ages 15-44 have cohabited with someone. In just 15 years, the number of women ages 35-39 who have cohabited with someone has doubled. The study suggests cohabitation has negative consequences, though. If a couple cohabited before getting married (and 28 percent of couples do), the likelihood of their marriage lasting 10 years decreased by 6 percentage points. Cohabiting couples also report lower levels of relationship quality, lower income levels, and don't experience the same health benefits that marriage gives. The 2.9 million children living in cohabiting households also don't fare as well academically or behaviorally, but an estimated two-fifths of children will live in a cohabiting household sometime before age 16. The study found that marriages were more likely to survive if the couple was 26 or older when they married and if they had a child eight months or more after marriage.

Spring awakening

As spring training games began this month (see "Spring in their step"), Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was giving former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine the state's "Sachem" award for helping to break racial barriers in baseball and bring the handicapped into the mainstream of life. (Sachem is an Algonquin Indian term for wisdom, judgment, and grace.)

Erskine, now 84, was a star Dodgers pitcher who retired from baseball in 1959 and became a banker, baseball coach, and civic leader in Anderson, Ind. He was one of the Dodgers who welcomed Jackie Robinson's breaking of major league baseball's color barrier, and he also joined a quieter civil-rights movement for the handicapped: The same year Erskine retired, his son Jimmy was born with Down syndrome.

Erskine still recalls the ominous words he heard at the hospital: "The Erskine baby is mongoloid." He reflected, "When Jimmy was born, the world was no more ready to accept him than it was ready to accept Jackie Robinson in baseball. . . . We didn't accept people who were different in those days."

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