Last Days


By David Schmader

MONDAY, MAY 2 The week begins with the Vatican blasting Spain's extension of equal marriage, inheritance, and adoption rights to same-sex couples. In an interview with the Vatican news agency, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo blamed Spain's praiseworthy attainment of a civil rights ideal for destroying the institution of marriage, and denounced adoption by same-sex couples as "moral violence" that "destroys the future of children." "People say these children adopted by same-sex couples are very happy," said Cardinal Trujillo. "Maybe, when they are one or two years old. But… what a tragedy when they have to say 'my parents are two men, or two women. ' Their personality, their stability is put at risk." Never mind that the primary threat to gay-raised kids' stability and personalities comes directly from the prejudice instilled by Trujillo's church; self-serving tautologies--from transubstantiation to the decree of papal infallibility--have long been the Catholic Church's stock in trade.

•• Meanwhile, the inherent moral superiority of different-sex parenting will be confirmed tomorrow in Spanaway, Washington, where a 37-year-old mother and her 30-year-old boyfriend will be charged with unlawful imprisonment and assault after the woman's 10- and 11-year-old sons were found bound and gagged with duct tape, socks, and zip ties; then on Thursday in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where 30-year-old mom Michelle Johnson and 25-year-old stepdad Harrell Johnson will be charged with the murder of Michelle's daughter Erica, who was three when deputies discovered her head and body in the woods outside Kansas City, Missouri, in 2001. Authorities determined Erica had been kicked to death then decapitated with hedge clippers. Secret hero of the Erica Johnson tragedy: the unnamed neighbor who tricked Michelle Johnson into giving up a lock of her hair, which the neighbor promised to place in his Bible "for good luck," but instead handed over to police, setting in motion the charges that landed this week. Yay for unnamed neighbors, boo for decapitation by hedge clippers.

TUESDAY, MAY 3 It's a question that's haunted the ages: Do pretty kids get better parental treatment than ugly ones? Today brought not only an answer--yes--but an explanation, courtesy of the New York Times, which reported the findings of a study conducted by the University of Alberta. For the study, researchers observed 400 interactions between children and parents at 14 supermarkets. Ranking each child's physical attractiveness on a 10-point scale, researchers studied differences in treatment of attractive/unattractive kids. The discrepancies were stark, with pretty children far more likely to be belted into grocery cart seats and kept within a parent's view, and homely children far more often left to wander out of sight and engage in potentially dangerous activities, such as standing up in the shopping cart. The reason, according to research leader Dr. W. Andrew Harrell: evolution, with pretty children representing the best genetic legacy and therefore garnering the most care. "Like lots of animals," said Dr. Harrell to the NYT, "we tend to parcel out our resources on the basis of value."

WEDNESDAY, MAY 4 Today brought a ridiculously tragic story from southern Washington, where a dune-buggy ride went terribly awry. Details come from the Associated Press: While traveling yesterday in a seat-beltless dune buggy, 32-year-old driver Jason Ackermann and 27-year-old passenger Jody Ackermann collided with a car at an intersection near Olympia. In a cruel double-whammy, the collision ejected both Ackermanns onto the street and jammed the dune buggy's throttle, causing the driverless buggy to speed in circles and run over both former passengers at least twice. The buggy finally came to rest on top of Jody Ackermann, where its wheels continued spinning until a bystander turned off the engine. In an isolated bit of luck, only one of the Ackermanns died--rest in peace Jason, and condolences and best wishes to Jody, who remains in critical condition at Harborview.

THURSDAY, MAY 5 Nothing happened today, unless you count the reelection of Tony Blair's Labour Party or the bashing-by-tabloid of Katie Holmes, whose week-old revelations of true romance with Tom Cruise were upstaged by today's widespread dissemination of paparzzi photos documenting a a large blemish on her lip. Cruise-induced razor burn some said, tell-tale herpes sore others insisted. Even with the sad, sad sore, Holmes remains so, so adorable.

FRIDAY, MAY 6 The week continues with the most just deployment of karmic retribution since Roy Cohn died powerless and alone in a New York hospital. The culprit: Jim West, the Eastern Washington Republican who spent 20 years distinguishing himself as the anti-gay pit bull of the state legislature before becoming mayor of Spokane in 2003. His retribution: a brilliant sting operation conducted by Spokane's Spokesman-Review, which hired a forensic computer expert to log into gay online forums under the guise of an 17-year-old male, to investigate a pair of allegations made against the mayor by two men who claim West sexually abused them 20 years ago. And while the Spokesman-Review's cybersleuth found nothing to support the original allegations, the faux-teen soon stumbled into thrilling new territory, as 54-year-old West--using the name RightBi-Guy--allegedly wooed the imaginary 17-year-old with offers of prime Seahawks and Mariners seats, assistance getting into college, and an internship at city hall before attempting to arrange a would-be liaison after the virtual teen claimed to have turned 18, at which time the Spokesman-Review went public with West's recorded e-chats. "I'm very closeted," wrote West in a February 26 online conversation. "Openly gay guys are a little over-the-top for me. I don't really like the in-your-face attitude… I say live and let live." If only West had followed his own motto, instead of fighting to ban gays from employment at schools, daycares, and certain state agencies and backing legislation to restrict marriage to the union between a man and a woman. In a statement yesterday, West categorically denied allegations that he molested two boys more than two decades ago. As for reports of cruising and sex with men aged 18 and up: "I don't deny that."

SATURDAY, MAY 7 In lighter news: Today brought another performance from the U District's multitasking hobo, witnessed by Hot Tipper Jake, who reports watching the ambitious homeless man solicit change from a pair of female passersby while simultaneously urinating in a trash can. "They were kind enough to oblige," writes Jake.

SUNDAY, MAY 8 The week ends with a staggering cumulative death toll in Iraq, where insurgent attacks have killed nearly 300 people over the past week and a half.


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