The Lost Cause(s) open line: Confederate flags and Jason Rapert into the breach for the bigots | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Lost Cause(s) open line: Confederate flags and Jason Rapert into the breach for the bigots

Posted By on Sun, Jun 28, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Here's Sunday's open line, with reports from the Lost Causes department — one continuing now for 150 years, the other just beginning after the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling.

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* FORGET, HELL: An Independence County reader reports that a Confederate flag continues to outside the Independence County Courthouse in Batesville. We've reported on this flag display before and the ill-will it engenders among at least a few local residents. It flies beside one of the state's many monuments to Confederate soldiers. Reader comments:

As you know, a Confederate flag has been flown on the lawn of Independence County court house. For the past several years, it has been a Hardee's Corps battle flag. Right now, the easily recognizable "third national" flag of the Confederacy is being flown at the court house. It would be great to see you guys do a story about it. On July 1, local citizens are meeting at a community planning meeting called Impact Independence County ( The governor will be there. I think it would look ridiculous for the community to try to move forward while allowing confederate flag to be flown from the county courthouse.

It may be wholly coincidental that I received a separate correspondence today with a detailed complaint about autocratic actions by County Judge Robert Griffin. More on that in due time.

UPDATE: A local resident says the Confederate flag came down following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Texas could resist a Confederate license plate and after the killings in South Carolina. By this account, the county judge removed the flag from the pole after someone tried to run it up again June 27.

* THE BULLY OF BIGELOW TO THE BATTLEMENTS: Sen. Jason Rapert, the Bully of Bigelow, is about to co catatonic with rage over the marriage equality ruling. But you knew that. New is his Twitter torrents repeating something I'd heard from another Republican political figure (who happens to have no patience with same-sex marriage foes). Some county clerks have been talking about quitting rather than participate in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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Some words about that. 1) A government actor has no ground, religious or otherwise, to refuse to comply with an order of the federal court. Religion was cited by man to resist court desegregation orders. The U.S. Supreme Court, backed by airborne troops, demonstrated the folly of that point of view. 2) The legislature, anticipating same-sex marriage's approval, has exempted county clerks from the required signing of marriage licenses. 3) People elected to perform tasks by a government prohibited by court order from demonstrating are free — and welcome — to pack their bags and leave public employment. I wish them good luck at avoiding a doorknob jabbing them in the butt on the way out the door.

Rapert's rabble rousing for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is so much empty demagoguery. It would take approval by 38 states. Even before the Supreme Court ruling, 37 states allowed same-sex marriage, 12 of them by vote or legislative action. They aren't going backwards. Many more will resist efforts to turn back the clock. Let him yammer.

I should note that the Attorney General of Texas agrees with Rapert that a clerk who refuses to issue a license can be defended. I don't. Can a Catholic clerk refuse to issue a license to a a couple of divorcees. And what of drinkers and dancers? Can hard-shell Baptists refuse them? And what about mixed-race couples? And mixed-religion couples. These, too, are looked on without favor by many religionists. The single-minded bigotry toward gays in time will come to cause harm to Rapert and fellow travelers like the attorney general of Texas. It will illustrate the kind of special bigotry being directed at them, the sort of thing that has qualified them for court protection against criminal prosecution, in adoption and, most recently, in marriage.

* NATIONAL NOTICE: Speaking of same-sex marriage: The Baxter Bulletin's front page on the marriage decision was used as a lead art element for the nationally televised Meet the Press today. It must have given Mountain Home Circuit Judge Shawn Womack heartburn. He's running for Arkansas Supreme Court. He also as a state senator proposed to RE-criminalize sodomy and tried to pass legislation to prevent gay people from adopting children. Perhaps the hometown newspaper could interview the political candidate on his views of equality those days.

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