The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 29, 1998 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, May 29, 1998
Page 12
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B2 FRIDAY. MAY 29, 1998 THE SAUNA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions -:-. expressed on *--• this page are '£•-•:. those of the • ! identified ; writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to . the Journal at: : P.O. Box740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® Quote of the day '•'•We have young children who have spunk, excitement and -pizzazz, as you '. have seen here today." Maurice Thompson i\of the Jamaican •I. stationery i c company that .:••• sponsored the , entry ot the INational Spelling Bee winner, 12-year-old Jody-Ann Maxwell. OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal State of denial THE ISSUE The war between the states THEARGUMBUT Kansas is right to sue Nebraska T echnically, Nebraska's water use policies violate only the terms of an arcane 1943 deal with Kansas. Really, Nebraska's water use policies violate the laws of nature, and of logic. Both give Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall all the cause she needs to drag Nebraska into court — the U.S. Supreme Court — to enforce both the contract and common sense. In order to find a legal way into the Supreme Court — where, according to the Constitution, suits by one state against another go first — Stovall dusted off a compact signed by Franklin Roosevelt. It specified how much water was supposed to flow down the Republican River as it crossed the border somewhere between Superior, Neb., and Republic, Kan. Stovall, backed by water experts at the state's Agriculture Department, claims Nebraska is shorting Kansas some 10 billion gallons of water every year. That is water that should be available to irrigate more than 100,000 acres of farmland in north-central Kansas as well as providing the bulk of city water supplies in Concordia, Clay Center, Junction City, Manhattan, Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City. The real crux of the matter, though, is less the old compact than the ongoing failure of Nebraska to regulate the amount and capacity of irrigation wells drilled in the Republican basin. In Kansas, such wells are regulated because we know that all underground water is just the unseen portion of the rivers that run through our state. Nebraska, a state of denial, pretends that the wells that draw billions of gallons of water from the basin have nothing to do with the amount of water remaining above ground in the river. The last time someone ignored that much going on below the surface, the Titanic sank. Nebraska politicians are probably not stupid so much as weak. Head Husker Gov. Ben Nelson and his legislators must know that wells draw water from the nearby river. But it is not politically correct for them to acknowledge that, because their farm lobby resists any attempt at regulating their wells. By this practice, Nebraska farmers do far more than steal water from Kansas. They steal water from each other, and from the very Earth that gives them life. But even the farmers must know the truth won't be hidden forever. Stovall notes that hundreds of new wells are being drilled there by farmers who hope that any well in place before the jig is up will be grandfathered in. Stovall is right to file this suit. Nebraska would be right to end the whole thing by exhibiting the same self- control Kansas has shown for years. But, now, it will have taken the threat of a very expensive lawsuit to get them to do the right thing. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL Topeka disavows Mr. Phelps' mission Today and Saturday, Fred Phelps, a Baptist minister and defrocked lawyer from Topeka, is scheduled to picket the Kansas Methodist Annual West Conference and the Salina Journal. He will be accompanied by approximately 20 family/church members. His signs are offensive, with messages such as "God Hates Gays" and "Fags Deserve to Die." As mayor of Topeka, the Capital City of Kansas, I want to state unequivocally that the views of the Westboro Baptist Church and its followers are not shared by the overwhelming majority of Topeka residents. While we decry the message of hate and the linking of that hate message to Christian beliefs, Kansans are a tolerant people and also respect the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitu- tipn and the Bill of Rights. We know we can't stop the Phelps pickets, but we feel we must do something. We are embarrassed by the Phelps cult and have sought peaceful ways to counter their message of hate. Concerned citizens of Topeka want the people of Salina to know that Mr. Phelps does not speak for the Kansas Capital City or its residents. Our views are better captured by the expression, "Peace on Earth and Good Will toward All People." — JOAN WAGNON Mayor of Topeka P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 Who put all this love stuff here? Rev. Phelps is absolutely right to be so concerned about equal rights for gays. After all, if you give gays civil rights, pretty soon everybody will want them. He's right about God hating mankind, too, unless we repent. It says so right here in my Bible in John 3:16-17. Hey, wait. Who put all this love stuff here? Man! Seriously, I don't know why Rev. Phelps and his congregation are so worked up about what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms. I have other things to do with my time than poking my nose into other people's sex lives. But, then, I have a life. If you don't approve of homosexuality, then don't do your fellow man. If this attitude condemns me to hell, so be it. An eternity with Rev. Phelps' God would be indistinguishable from hell, so what's the difference? Fortunately, I know that he doesn't speak for God, in spite of his delusions of grandeur, so I'm not overly concerned. I wish the ladies and gentlemen of the Methodist conference well. You have much to ponder and pray about. May God bless and guide your discussions and decisions. I wish Rev. Phelps and his people well, too. You all need a little love and light in your lives, and I pray that you will receive them. — DONNA ROWE Salina AKE SUPPING OP, IT T LIBERTIES Gerry Adams is Ireland's chic radical Sinn Fein leader still risks his own life in working for peace in Northern Ireland W ASHINGTON — If only Leonard Bernstein could see it: Gerry Adams in Armani from Macy's, with all the New York society babes chasing after him. The late conductor would truly appreciate the Radical Chic transformation of the Sinn Fein leader as he makes his U.S. victory lap this week. Adams, considered a miraculous hero by some and a cold stone murderer by others, was dubbed "Ireland's Black Panther" by Vanity Fair. In his essay "Radical Chic," Tom Wolfe skewered the New York elite in the '60s who were feting Black Panthers, feeding them little Roquefort cheese morsels off silver trays held by uniformed maids. Now Washington, New York and Hollywood are caught up in Irish terrorist chic. "Gerry has got that revolutionary aura, that whiff of cordite," says one friend. "Bianca Jagger calls him. All the rich American society hostesses throw themselves at him. He's amused by it." Thursday the revolutionary Socialist will stroll through the New York Stock Exchange with its chairman, Richard Grasso. The 49- year-old, who is likely to be elected next month to help run the new Northern Ireland govern- T NONE OF THE ABOVE MAUREEN DOWD The New York Times ment, has meetings with top financiers and fund-raisers with celebrities in New York, before coming to the White House on Friday to see the national security adviser, Sandy Berger — with a probable Clinton drop-by. Anjelica Huston, Donald Trump, and Martin Sheen have all partied with Gerry. Adams groupies include young Clintonites who worked on the Irish issue. "He's their Ho Chi Minh," dryly notes Mike Barnacle, the Boston Globe columnist. It was not long ago that Adams was so isolated that his voice was not allowed to be broadcast on British or Irish TV or radio. (Actors spoke his words.) The Unionist leader David Trimble did not speak to, or shake hands with, Adams during the Stormont talks or during their "Yes" campaign, though the two ended up side by side in the men's room. One top Irish official praised Adams, saying "He took his horse to the highest fence." Because the Sinn Fein leader is so smooth and carefully calculating, the official said, it is easy to underestimate the difficulty — and danger, in an organization known to kill its own — of keeping the cease-fire largely intact while renegotiating Sinn Fein's traditional position of unity or nothing. The man who bears the scars of bullet wounds from one assassination attempt and the memories of more recent ones, the man who can never sleep two nights in the same place faces more high fences on the sticky issue of decommissioning. "What this man is trying to do is unparalleled in Irish history, trying to take an armed revolutionary movement and put it on the po- litical path," said Niall O'Dowd, publisher of The Irish Voice. "It didn't work for Michael Collins. There are enormous risks." O'Dowd spurred peace by playing m&tc'h- maker between Sinn Fein and the White House. I talked to Adams at Sinn Fein headquarters in Belfast last week. Sitting outside the heavily fortified stucco building, he took off his sandals and green socks to put balm on a wasp bite he got while hill walking. Besides hiking, he relaxes by listening to music. "I'm increasingly taken by Ry Cooder," he said. '• ";' "That's a chopper you hear," he said, about a hovering British surveillance helicopter. Pointing to the window grates, he adds: "There were bomb attacks, rocket attacks. See those marks in the wall?" He knows Ian Paisley wants to sabotage-the new government; he knows prejudice dies hard. "My home was bombed, my wife and son were at home when a hand grenade was'ex- ploded at the house," he said. "So if I'm prepared to reach out the hand of friendship tp the people who did that, and shot me, I think that gives me some moral right to say to others, hey, let's get real here. OK, people got killed. We all lost friends." . ••/• Will there ever be Irish unity? "I certainly think, if God spares me, it will be reunited in my lifetime." Does he dream of being the Taoiseach of a united Ireland? "No, I will have retired gracefully by then." And which ministry does he want in the new government? "Minister of Funny Walks, ~. he replied, as the helicopter whirred above. ..„ . Thank the Lord for Fred Phelps Make no mistake about it, the gay-bashing minister is doing God's work W hat can one say to, or about, Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers? Nothing. Those who've cultivated compassion, who've found true religious faith, who understand history and the rules of a constitutional republic, who * can reason well — they don't need to be told anything about Phelps. They already know he's dangerous and wrong, and that his life's work is, by every definition, evil. People outside the above categories are probably gathered with Phelps right now here in Salina. For them, no rational argument, no appeal to constitutional history or decency or compassion, no religious ministry or scriptural citations — not even a word from God above — would make so much as a dent. The last time Phelps visited, it was to protest the late Rev. Bob Lay. Two counter-demonstrators also showed. I'm married to one and dear friends with the other. Does a counter-demonstration work? Not if persuading the Phelp- sians is the goal. So should we ignore them entirely, denying Phelps the PR he so craves? If so, this column has already played into his hands. You can't debate him. He's irrational and unscriptural. He never doubts, never admits the validity of reason into his thinking. He JAMES TALLEY for the Salina Journal shouts. He harasses. He slanders and vilifies. His rhetoric encourages people to hate and despise, feeding hate crimes. You can't stop him in court, thanks to his admittedly slick knowledge of the law. And his Web site had 197,000 hits last time I checked. Some have dreamed of killing him, and the appeal isn't really so different from assassinating Hitler, Saddam Hussein, or Khomeini. Which only shows how insanity is contagious. Myself, I'm glad Phelps is alive. Because he has rejected 90 percent of what makes a man human — God, country, reason, learning, love, respect — I have to regard him as a means, not quite an end. He's useful. He calls us to remember that we live in a democracy, not a theocracy — that no matter how Christian this nation, it remembers the gift of free will and protects beliefs divergent from the norm. This, ironically, allows Phelps to operate, despite his desire to subject all of us to his twisted view of God's will. He makes folks uncomfortable, especially Christians. Stealing their name, he shoves before all eyes a hellish montage of a hateful God. He musters a handful of verses, claiming scriptural support. He never permits dissent from those selections, not even from questioning believers who wish to discern their deeper meanings. His answers are pat and obvious, when nothing in life and little in the Bible is that moronically simple. He forces Christians to question and probe deeper into their faiths, asking them whether they will follow Christ or a madman. Since no right-winger wants to be associated with him, he serves as a brake on extremism and keeps liberal-conservative debates reined in. DOONESBURY Those who share his disapproval of homosexuality — but not his extremism — he calls to question and draw lines between their views and his evil, principled borders beyond which they will not travel. (Kurt Vonnegut would call him a "wrang-wrang," somgp'he who so embodies a set of beliefs that he serves as a walking scarecrow warning others away from his views.) For those who know he is wrong, every .day he draws breath confirms in us our convictions and illustrates the destination of a currently popular series of slippery slopes. • He reminds the complacent that people like him still exist, even in America. I, He tests our love of humanity by playing the lead in violent fantasies. ,., His efforts reminds us to never rest in seeking justice and laying rest to lies. He illustrates both religion's ironic dangers and its eternal enemies: self-righteousness, idolatry, false witness, inhospitality, pride, fear, despair, judgmentalism, simple-mindedness, hypocrisy and hate. : He makes us thankful that our own homes and minds and communities are relatively free of his poison. He shames us as Kansans, as Christians, as Americans, as people, and so inspires us to rise above him, set a better example, and set the record straight. I'm glad he's come to my hometown.-We should be thankful for him. No one else-c^n compare. He's unique and precious, and 1 do believe — thanks to the enlightening power; of comparison and contrast — that as a living example and as a teacher, Phelps does God's mysterious work. Just not as directly as, or in quite the way, he might think. '"•••••, By G.B. TRUDEAU AU, Tm 17MBf THATSA LOTOF SIR, j^OUT M&fHW : ~ THecuR- rrooMee COOL.,. ftwoc- turn 30 CUFWTS,.

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