More on the hate culture in Grand Junction: “If you don’t like it, leave”

Anyone who has pointed out bigotry, unequal treatment, constitutional or civil rights violations on the western slope has heard the phrase over and over: “If you don’t like what’s going on here, you can leave.”

That is what many western slope residents say to people who aren’t like them, who moved here from somewhere else or who disagree with their positions on issues.

Here is the “If you don’t like it, you can git out” sentiment expressed by a Grand Junction resident to another on social media, along with a personal insult (“idiots like you”), which helps the writer dehumanize her target:

So what’s so bad about saying “If you don’t like it, then leave”?

Bobbye Horton-Huddleston’s “If you don’t like it, leave” sentiment is based on an immoral principle: It tells people who are actively being oppressed or persecuted by others that it’s their duty to leave, not the persecutor’s duty to recognize or take action to stop the hurtful behavior.

The statement doesn’t refute any of the arguments being made. In fact, it is a tacit admission of guilt. The phrase also serves several helpful rhetorical functions for the speaker: 1) It shuts down the discussion so the person who says it doesn’t have to admit they are being immoral and hurting others; 2) It’s a form of victim-blaming because it prevents the speaker from having to acknowledge the actions of perpetrators or the victims’ hurtful experience; 3) Telling someone to “get out” because they don’t agree with you also indicates a fundamental failure to recognize the real problem at the heart of the discussion: Where we live isn’t the problem. The problem is the people here who seek to violate others’ rights.

Immorality on parade

This particular show of immorality has become so pervasive in our area that it is accepted as normal behavior, even among people who to put themselves forth as religious role models. Here is the same “if you don’t like it, leave” sentiment expressed by none other than the “Reverend Robert Babcox,” senior pastor of the Orchard Mesa Baptist Church:

Saying “if you don’t like it, git out” is the equivalent of telling the other person “Everything you told me is factually correct, but instead of acknowledge it, I’m going to distract from the real issues by shifting the burden of fixing the problem onto YOUR shoulders instead of mine.”

In using the phrase, the speaker admits cruelty and injustice are being done, but feel this is acceptable and disavow any responsibility for correcting the shameful behavior. It’s a line someone typically says when they are losing a debate. 

Saying “if you don’t like it, get out” in a discussion does more to point out the brash, immoral shamelessness of the speaker than it does to move our area towards a more nuanced understanding what civil rights are, and what America is really about.

Grand jury report details sexual abuse by over 300 priests in PA Catholic Church alone

President Trump and wife Melania shown with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who in July, 2013, requested permission from the Vatican to move $57 million in church funds to protect the the church’s assets from victims of priest sexual abuse. The Vatican approved Dolan’s request in five weeks.

It’s an unfathomably bad day for religion, but a better day to be an atheist, if you already are one. If you’re not already, the news coming out about the Catholic church (again) this week may be enough to flip you, if not just grip you.

A Pennsylvania grand jury has dropped a devastating 1,356 page report (pdf) that describes in excruciating detail the child sexual abuse that has occurred within the Pennsylvania Catholic church, perpetrated by over 300 “predator priests” in that state alone. The grand jury names each priest and has identified over a thousand credible child victims who endured abuse at the hands of the Church over a period of 70 years. Some of the victims are in their 80s now.

The Grand Jury concluded the actual number of victims is probably far greater, since they could only rely on the accounts of victims who were wiling to come forward and report it and on records that still exist. Other records were likely lost, some accounts of abuse were probably never written down, many of the predator priests were rotated to stations outside Pennsylvania and likely additional incidents were never reported because the children and their families were too afraid to report them.

In compiling their report, the grand jury heard testimony from dozens of witnesses and examined a half-million pages of documents obtained directly from six dioceses covering 54 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

Formulaic cover up of the crimes by the Church

The Church used several tactics to cover up the crimes. Those writing the reports were told not to use words like “rape” and instead to substitute phrases like “inappropriate conduct” or “boundary issues.” The Church did not conduct genuine investigations using property trained personnel, and instead used fellow clergy members who asked inadequate questions. Abusive priests were sent to church-run psychiatric facilities for “evaluation” and “diagnoses.” When an abusive priest was removed from his position, his parishioners were lied to and told the absence was due to the priest’s “exhaustion” or that he was on “sick leave.”

St. Peter Square, the Vatican

Because the Church worked so hard to cover up these crimes, most of the incidents the grand jury found exceeded the statute of limitations, so only a small fraction of them can still be prosecuted. The grand jury felt helpless, and said their only remaining recourse to bring the  extent of these injustices to public attention was to issue this report.

And they were extraordinarily emphatic about it.

Excerpts of the grand jury’s introduction:

We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this. We know some of you have heard some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere…Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were prepubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants, or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.

…Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted. Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal…

…Grand jurors are just regular people who are randomly selected for service. We don’t get paid much, the hours are bad, and the work can be heartbreaking. What makes it worthwhile is knowing we can do some kind of justice. We spent 24 months dredging up the most depraved behavior, only to find that the laws protect most of its perpetrators, and leave its victims with nothing. We say laws that do that need to change.

A “#MeToo” sign outside the Gustavus Adolphus Church in New York City.

The grand jury recommended making changes in the law that would make it easier for victims to come forward and for law enforcement to prosecute these crimes no matter when information about them emerges.

The worst stories stood out:

The grand jury also wrote (on Page 10 of the report):

Even out of these hundreds of odious stories, some stood out. There was the priest, for example, who raped a seven-yea -old girl — while he was visiting her in the hospital after she’d had her tonsils out. Or the priest who made a nine-year-old give him oral sex, then rinsed out the boy’s mouth with holy water to purify him. Or the boy who drank some juice at his priest’s house, and woke up the next morning bleeding from his rectum, unable to remember anything from the night before. Or the priest, a registered psychologist, who “treated” a young parishioner with depression by attempting to hypnotize her and directing her to take off her clothes, piece by piece. One priest was willing to admit to molesting boys, but denied reports from two girls who had been abused; “They don’t have a penis,” he explained. Another priest, asked about abusing his parishioners, refused to commit “with my history,” he said, “anything is possible.” Yet another priest finally decided to quit after years of child abuse complaints, but asked for, and received, a letter of reference for his next job – at Walt Disney World.

The report is astonishing, even for jaded people who think they’ve already heard everything they need to know about priests abusing kids. Everyone should at least take the time to read the introduction and page through the rest. Do it before you go back — or take your kids back — to church.

Senator Ray Scott’s absurd efforts to block progress in the energy industry

Colorado State Senator Ray Scott, die hard promoter of fossil fuels

State Senator Ray Scott (R-Mesa County) isn’t just your average fossil fuel cheerleader. He goes far beyond defending the oil and gas industry by working to hobble and block advancements in clean, renewable energy, including solar energy, electric cars and even by finding creative ways to attack bicycle transportation. Even worse, Scott ignores inevitable injuries and deaths caused in pursuit of fossil fuel development, like the deadly explosion of a home in Firestone, Colorado on May 4, 2017 that killed two people and the July 27, 2018 explosion at a gas collection facility just over the state line in Cisco, Utah that badly burned two workers. 

Club 20 screams like a spoiled toddler while Polis attends events that are free and open to everyone

Rep. Jared Polis

At the end of July, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis announced he was going to have to miss Club 20’s September 8 candidate debate. In response Club 20 took on the persona of a spoiled, whiny toddler, quickly issuing a nasty press release (pdf) that screamed Polis had — *gasp!* — snubbed it and was slapping the collective face of the entire western slope because he wouldn’t attend it’s exclusive, must-do event.

Come on, Club 20. Grow up. Polis has something else to do. Check it out:

Election hacking? No biggie. Sen. Cory Gardner votes against funding election security

Chart: The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction

Russia’s campaign to influence U.S. elections and help Donald Trump get elected must not be any big deal to Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who joined Senate Republicans in blocking an attempt by Democrats to include $250 million in the appropriations bill to help states upgrade their election security. The measure would have paid for states to replace their outdated, insecure voting machines, offer security training to election workers, upgrade voter registration software and fund other election security initiatives. All of the Democrats in the Senate voted for the measure, but Senate Republicans, including Cory Gardner, voted it down.

Next time your Republican elected officials boast that they are patriotic and love their country, remember this shameful vote.





Documenting hate in Grand Junction

Here are additional recently-spotted signs that bring the hate and racism lurking in Grand Junction right out into the open:

This horrific sticker was spotted on a white Ford pickup truck in northwest Grand Junction on 8/4/18

A “Haji” is a slur for a Muslim, specifically one who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca. The “ZF” stands for “Zero Foxtrot,” the “U.S. Marine veteran owned and operated company” that sells these shameful stickers.

Sure enough, a wider shot of the back of this truck shows it has U.S. Marine Corps license plates, effectively linking racism and xenophobia with the U.S. Military, specifically Marine Corps veterans:

Billboard raises awareness of Republicans’ dangerous dalliance with Putin

A billboard on I-70 B takes aim at the Republican Party (also known as the  “Grand Old Party” or GOP) which is quickly becoming “the party of Trump.”

The billboard is in front of Rimrock Marketplace on I-70 B and draws attention to Republicans’ alarming acceptance of President Trump cozying up to authoritarian dictators who disregard human rights.

The billboard will soon be moving to an even higher spot where it will be displayed to passers-by 100 percent of the time, instead of in 8-second increments rotating with 5-6 other ads. Stay tuned!

Grand Valley Business Times repels Democratic business owners

Placard proposed to be displayed by businesses that advertise in the Business Times.

The Grand Valley Business Times (GVBT) has long been a source of business news in Mesa County, usually focusing on helpful items like what new businesses are moving in, the newest  soups at Zoup, and which authors will be appearing at the downtown bookstores. In his latest issue, though, the paper’s owner, Craig Hall, used his editorial column to denigrate and insult Democratic and progressive business owners in the valley, and criticize women who seek to control their own reproductive destiny.

More case for gun reform, and fast: Firearms cause massive blaze in Basalt

The Lake Christine fire in Basalt last night, with Whole Foods Market in the foreground. Photo credit: Colorado State Patrol/CBS.

As if firearm massacres occurring regularly throughout the U.S. isn’t enough of a red flag that we need enact gun reform and fast, investigators have found that the massive wildland fire currently raging in Basalt was caused by the illegal use of “tracer bullets” at a firing range.

Tracer bullets have a small pyrotechnic charge  in the base that cause the bullets to leave a bright, burning track of smoke along their trajectory so that when fired, the path of the bullet is visible to the naked eye. The pyrotechnic charge is basically a firework.

Two people shooting tracer rounds at the Basalt SWA firing range caused the Lake Christine fire that is now wreaking havoc in Basalt. It is illegal to use tracer rounds during the current fire ban. The shooters were cited, but that does little to stop the damage their irresponsible use of firearms is causing.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has closed the Basalt shooting range indefinitely.

Massive damage

As of an hour ago, the Lake Christine fire had burned over 2,000 acres, three homes have been destroyed, 500 people have had to evacuate their homes and the fire remains completely uncontained.

Tracer fire at night on Finnish-Soviet border in 1939. (Source: Book Suomi Sodassa, Valitut Palat Oy 1973)

The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun illegally shooting pyrotechnic bullets at a firing range during a fire ban is tens of millions of dollars and thousands of firefighters putting their lives on the line to fight the massive fires they cause.

No further proof is needed that gun ownership rights are misused in a multitude of irresponsible ways on a massive scale in this country. It’s long past time we  did something about it.

To fight efforts to roll back the widespread irresponsible use of firearms in this country and the horrific damage it causes is to be a fake patriot and say you don’t care about America at all.

Western Slope pastor and Mesa County “Patriots” display stunning callousness towards refugees, children

Reverend Babcox, Orchard Mesa Baptist Church

Amid the massive “Keep Families Together” protests in over 750 cities across the country including in Grand Junction last weekend against the Trump administration’s harsh “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated thousands of refugee children from their parents, some Mesa County citizens are publicly denying that any children of refugees have been taken away from their parents, while also denying there is anything wrong with doing it. Others show utter disdain towards immigrant parents for taking desperate measures to get their families out of harm’s way.

Of all people, Robert Babcox, the pastor of the Orchard Mesa Baptist Church, is one of those people.