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The Court of Public Opinion

Some re-linking from friends' blogs: Laura brought to my attention the nasty story of Darla Wynne, a Wiccan in Great Falls, South Carolina. Wynne, who so far successfully has challenged her town's use of sectarian prayers at official functions, has paid for it in the form of intimidation and violence (directed to her pets) from unknown members of her community. Regardless of where you stand on prayer at town council meetings (I like what Lutheran pastor Allen Brill has to say on the subject, though I don't have a big problem with nonsectarian invocations or moments of silence), you'd think that -- in the 21st century -- mutilating a pet parrot for whatever reason would be considered, you know, evil?

Well, backyard religious conflicts don't corner the market on community intimidation. Just ask Specialist Joseph Darby and his wife, (hat tip: Lex Alexander's Blog on the Run, August 18), who blew the whistle on the Abu Ghraib atrocities:

Each day, she would catch another snippet of the hostility brewing around her. There was the candlelight vigil in Cumberland, Maryland, to show support for the disgraced soldiers, including the ones who did the torturing, about a hundred supporters standing in the pounding rain, as if beating and sodomizing prisoners were some kind of patriotic duty. Or the 200 people who gathered one night in Hyndman, Pennsylvania, waving American flags to honor Sivits, the first soldier tried in the scandal. They posted a sign in Hyndman. It said JEREMY SIVITS, OUR HOMETOWN HERO. And the mayor told reporters that even though Sivits would sometimes do "a little devilish thing," on the whole he was "a wonderful kid."

Where were the signs for Joe? Bernadette had to wonder. Where was his vigil? Where was his happy mayor? Where were his calls of support? Down at the gas station, Clay overheard some guys say that Joe was "walking around with a bull's-eye on his head," just casually, just like, oh, everybody knows Joe's dead. Some of Bernadette's family even let her know that other members of the family were against her now, that they couldn't support a traitor.


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Thanks for mentioning the Darla Wynne situation. I hope with all the negative publicity surrounding the town, that the perpetrators will finally be caught and brought to justice.