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9:08 pm EDT 65°F (18°C) in Van Buren, OH
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Somebody remind me why I even bother to eat at the full-service restaurant chains located inside Flying J truck stops. Last night, I stopped for the night at the Flying J location in Walton, KY, about 20 miles south of Cincinnati. After parking, I went inside and took a seat, as the sign instructed me to do. From there, it was all downhill: it took 10 minutes for the waitress to get my Coca-Cola; when the food came out, one of the items was served cold (when it should have been warmed); my main course was not made as I had requested (I had asked for chicken instead of shrimp atop the pasta, and got shrimp); and it took another 15 minutes after I had explicitly said I was finished and requested my check to receive said check. Another five minutes and I would have just left a $10 bill on the table and walked out.
(And that doesn't even get into the shit the waitress pulled. Several minutes after my order had already been taken, a family of three entered and took the booth next to me. The waitress saw to it that they had their beverages before I had mine — even though I had been waiting quite a while! Even better yet, it wasn't until after I had told the waitress I was done, and requested my check, that this family's orders came up; yet for some reason, she left their check with them at the moment she brought their food! Needless to say, I was quite displeased, and that dumb bitch didn't get a penny from me.)
While that situation merely made me somewhat irate, a news story I picked up on Saturday truly infuriated me — as in, made me mad enough to go murder the "fundamentalist 'Christians'" responsible for, in my opinion, the most heinous and unforgivable crimes against their child. Recently, a 16-year-old Bartlett, TN boy named Zach Stark came out to his parents, saying that he had known he was gay since he was 13. Not long thereafter, his parents responded by forcing him to attend a so-called "ex-gay" program which falsely calls itself "Love in Action/Refuge." (Notice that the acronym for this program is LIAR — that tells you everything you need to know.)
The LIARs, from what I have been able to gather, run two different versions of their "straight camp": one of these, the one that Zach was entered into, is a residential program in which children are imprisoned 24/7 on LIAR grounds (the grounds appear to contain dormitories in addition to the "church" facility). The other one, from which the name "Refuge" comes, only forces children to attend 9am-5pm Monday-Friday, but they are required to be in the presence of their parents (in either their home, or if they're from outside Memphis, hotel room) at all other times.
Until the beginning of his imprisonment on June 6, Zach maintained a blog on MySpace. One of the entries on his blog contains a list of rules the LIARs enforce on their victims. Among these rules are some things that are merely strange (a ban on Calvin Klein or Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, even undergarments); some things that cause discomfort (long pants must be worn Monday-Thursday, with no regard for Memphis' extreme summer heat); some things that are invasions of privacy (the so-called "clients" must report any and all sexual thoughts or fantasies to LIAR staff, and are not allowed to use a public restroom without a parent present); some things that make no sense at all (even the many religiously-oriented works of Ludwig von Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach are considered "secular music" and are prohibited); some things that aren't surprising considering that this group is a cult ("what is seen here, what is heard here, remains here!" and a prohibition against discussing anything the LIARs do, even with parents); some things that may be violations of the law ("no continuing education while in the program," which is interpreted so broadly as to include any school); and finally, some things that are absolutely dehumanizing and satanic ("Refuge" victims are not allowed to communicate verbally, or with hand gestures or even EYE CONTACT, with their parents, other victims, or LIARs, during the first few days of their "program" — period).
This story has been in the Memphis media; WMC-TV (Channel 5, NBC affiliate) has run at least two stories that I am aware of. However, both of these have been heavily biased in favor of the LIARs, with only minimal coverage given to the daily protests across the street from the LIARs' campus — notwithstanding the crowds well in excess of 100. One paragraph of Zach's blog was transcribed in one of these stories: "[My parents] tell me that there is something psychologically wrong with me, and they 'raised me wrong.' I'm a big screw up to them, who isn't on the path God wants me to be on. So I'm sitting here in tears, joing the rest of those kids who complain about their parents on blogs - and I can't help it." Given that this paragraph is now known throughout Memphis, Zach's parents are now widely known to be the ignorant shits they are.
I might be a little bit more forgiving toward the Starks if, after seeing the media reports, they had realized the error of their hateful, abusive ways and pulled Zach out of the program. However, this past Saturday, a new twist came to light: the head LIAR, John Smid, has announced that he will be holding Zach in the program for another six weeks beyond his originally scheduled release date of tomorrow — with the total complicity of the Starks! These people have inconceivably decided to agree with a man (Smid) who has been quoted as saying, "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave 'Love' [Ed.: substitute Hate] In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery."
Now I'm not currently a father, though I'm not ruling out the possibility at some later point in my life (via either adoption, surrogacy, or artificial insemination) — but I do know that the number-one rule of parenting is to nurture your child's emotional, psychological, and physical well-being to the best of your ability. You can't always control everything, because your child is a distinct individual with his/her own independent mind and spirit, but you try to lead them (by your example) on the path to their happiness and health. You don't do what the Starks have done here: abandon their own flesh and blood for the better part of an entire summer, simply because they cannot wrap their small, narrow minds around their son's God-given nature — and furthermore, leave him to fend for himself against the rhetoric of a man who actively encourages him to kill himself!
To me, this goes beyond the level of "these people don't deserve to have a child." I mean, there has got to be some statute on the books in Tennessee under which the Starks' dumb asses can be thrown in prison — something like neglect of a minor child or child endangerment. Honestly, if I ruled the world, I wouldn't even stop there; this story has me angry enough to seriously consider procuring a .38 shotgun, heading to Memphis, and tracking down the Starks — and by the time I got done with them, their skulls would look like fucking Swiss cheese. As far as I'm concerned, anybody who would consider their prejudices to be more important than their own child doesn't deserve to live.
It's time to start firing some shots already in this country's Second Civil War, also called the War to Save America. How many beautiful, innocent, loving children must we allow the enemy to kill before we take action? How many Zach Starks will we allow them to subject to psychological torture before we put a forceful and final stop to their evil? It is high time for the 21st-century equivalent of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. It's going to take utter humiliation, like that of the burning of Atlanta on Sherman's march to the sea, to stop these people.
Don't give me this "Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. preached non-violence" crap either. We are dealing with an enemy that has shown that it will resort to violence and even terroristic methods to achieve its goals, and they will only redouble their efforts if we don't start striking back at them. It's ironic that I might sound like a "fundamentalist 'Christian'" wacko talking about al-Qaeda by saying that, but people like the Starks and John Smid are the Mullah Omars of the American Taliban.
"Fundamentalist 'Christianity'" is perhaps even more dangerous to America than fundamentalist Islam; at least you know what the Islamic terrorists are going to do — blow your buildings up, or fly planes into them. The "Christian" terrorists in this country, on the other hand, use stealth, incrementalism, a weakened educational system, and a particularly virulent, insidious form of psychological terrorism — all of which very effectively combine to conceal their true destructive agenda. That is to say, if you see it coming (the planes headed for your skyscrapers), you can protect yourself; but if it sneaks up on you (the hidden true agenda of world domination, couched in innocuous-sounding rhetoric), it may be too late by the time you can react.
Honestly, I can't say enough about people like these assholes, at least not until they are stopped — but there comes a point where I can no longer keep pecking away at a keyboard, and must get some sleep. I think I'm getting to that point tonight.