Thursday, November 17, 2011

The story of the lesbian couple who were denied a wedding cake by a mid-western baker has been reported in many places.  This version is from the Huffington Post:

Iowa Baker Denies Wedding Cake To Lesbian Couple

First Posted: 11/14/11 12:48 PM ET   Updated: 11/15/11 08:40 AM ET

An Iowa lesbian couple might have hoped to find a wedding cake that was both delicate and sweet, but they say their experience with a Des Moines-based baker left behind a sour taste.  As KCCI-TV is reporting, the owner of Victoria's Cake Cottage refused to bake a cake for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers, who are planning a June wedding, because she is Christian.

Victoria Childress, who runs her bakery from home, says it's her right as a business owner to turn away customers."I said, 'I'll tell you I'm a Christian, and I do have convictions.' And I said, 'I'm sorry to tell you, but I'm not going to be able to do your cake," Childress, who met the couple during a taste-testing appointment, said. "I didn't do the cake because of my convictions for their lifestyle. It is my right, and it's not to discriminate against them. It's not so much to do with them, it's to do with me and my walk with God and what I will answer [to] Him for."

Though Childress said no condescending remarks were made, the couple says they were nonetheless left feeling humiliated by the experience. "It was degrading," Vodraska said. It was like she chastised us for wanting to do business with her."


Do people like this woman ever stop to think of everything in their lives that is done for them, manufactured for them, performed for them, served to them -- by gays and lesbians? Many of their doctors and nurses, their children's teachers, their flight attendants when they fly, TV anchors who report their news, singers, actors and musicians who entertain them, their police and fire fighters, senators, representatives, mayors and city councilors are gay. They're perfectly willing to TAKE from gays and lesbians, their faith apparently isn't challenged or defiled by having their wants and needs provided for by gays and lesbians -- but this person refuses to GIVE even one simple cake? 


Dorli Rainey is suddenly known nation-wide as the 84 year old lady who was pepper-sprayed by Seattle police (along with a pregnant 19 year old and a priest):

Ms Rainey is no stranger to violent police or military bearing down on innocent citizens -- she is a holocaust survivor who came to the United States and established herself as an activist in support of progressive causes.

From The Atlantic Wire on the Web:
"Born in Austria, Rainey came to the U.S. in 1956 following her work as a technical translator in the U.S. Army in Europe, she explained last year on the Talking Stick, a weekly show on public-access television. Describing why she left Austria she said "it's a great country but it's a really bureaucratic country." She is an activist across a range of issues including non-violence in foreign affairs, feminism and local transportation. In the interview, a sort of celebration of her life's work, she voiced disapproval for the "car takeover" in Seattle and how parking lots are detrimental to the general welfare of the city, among other things.

"The tech-savvy activist also has her own blog called Old Lady in Combat Boots where she describes herself as an "all-around troublemaker." "I believe change begins in the streets, and all citizens have the power to make a difference," she writes in the blog's about section. "Together we can make our voices heard in the ivory towers of government, so lace up your combat boots, log in and turn on!" She hasn't quite kept the blog running: the last post is from 2009. Past posts include articles on feminism and tunnel projects. Other activities include being a member of the Seattle chapter of Women in the Black. According to its website, it's an international network of women who "stand in silent vigil, calling for peace, justice and non-violent solutions to conflict.The Toronto Star exchanged e-mails with Mike McCormick, the producer of the Talking Stick, who said Rainey is "a role model among activists that walks the walk." He added, “She's passionate, thoughtful, well informed, dogged, fearless, in-your-face but not in an intimidating way, warm, caring, humorous, doesn't pull her punches kinda activist you want right next to you when the s--t hits the fan.” " 

The police response to the Occupy protests nationwide has been progressively more violent and I fear that eventually, someone is going to be critically or even fatally injured.  But one thing hasn't changed -- the seemingly invincible ignorance of the Republicans, major corporations, Big Banking, the usual conservative commentators and the Fox "news" channel.  They still maintain they've not been able to discern what the Occupy demonstrators want, what they object to, or if there's any meaning to their protest beyond a kind of infantile snit at the 1% that my generation used to call "The Establishment."

Now, I may be weird — it’s certainly a possibility — but from Day One I have never had the slightest doubt or uncertainty about the issues the Occupy Wall Street protesters wanted to bring to public attention.  The radical, inconceivable, precedent-shattering thing I did was to read their signs and listen to their comments to the media. OMG, I looked, I listened! How bizarre of me. I did nothing any closed-minded, billionaire-protecting, corporate-owned Republican couldn't have done, and I learned what the protesters wanted.

Of course, I was interested in learning.

Ms Rainey was interested in more than just learning because she already knew; she was determined to make her voice heard and to inspire others to maintain the exercise of their Constitutionally-protected right to gather peacefully and express dissent, something I was taught in school was one of our greatest rights, a right that set us apart from and above other nations.  And for this, a aged woman who had survived the Third Reich and had come to the U.S. because of its promised freedoms, got noxious chemicals shot into her face.


Quite by coincidence, an opera on the theme of dissent by young people has just opened in New York City.  Here are a few excerpts from the review in the NY Times:

Preoccupying Opera: Youthful Acts of Dissent
by Anthony Tomassini

There are many impressive things about “Kommilitonen!,” the new opera by Peter Maxwell Davies, with a libretto by David Pountney, which had its American premiere at the Juilliard School on Wednesday night.  “Kommilitonen!,” which loosely translates from the German as “fellow students,” is an exploration of political activism and protest movements that entwines three stories based on real people. One concerns the black student James Meredith, who in 1962, in the face of violent opposition, compelled the segregated University of Mississippi to enroll him. Another focuses on two Chinese students caught up in the Cultural Revolution, who were forced to denounce their parents, dedicated schoolteachers. The final story involves a brother and sister in Nazi Germany who joined the White Rose resistance movement but were caught and executed.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Mr. Pountney said that “Kommilitonen!” was conceived in 2008, when “there wasn’t any” student activism. By the time of the premiere earlier this year, protests had broken out worldwide.

On Wednesday about two dozen protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement stood outside the Juilliard building. I spoke with a couple, who said they were not protesting Juilliard, though there were denunciations of David H. Koch, the billionaire supporter of right-wing causes and of arts institutions. They were there, they said, to continue their campaign on behalf of the 99 percent and show that activism is alive. One protester invoked the last line of the opera: “There is no quota on freedom.”

The final performances of “Kommilitonen!” are on Friday night and Sunday afternoon at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater of the Juilliard School, 155 West 65th Street, Lincoln Center; (212) 721-6500,

On the subject of the cake lady, you hit the nail on the head. Sounds like she has enough to answer to her god for besides refusing to "give" (read: sell) this service to a gay couple. Yes, she has her convictions. So does a serial criminal.
Again, that detail about one courageous woman is all we needed. Somehow it didn't reach the news here, which from its tone one might have thought sympathetic to the police (they didn't find a single eloquent spokesperson from Occupy).

I only wish that opera had been written by someone who really communicates, like Adams, not - zzzzz - Max.
Is the David H Koch philanthropy strictly a tax-benefit based affair, or more a 'pass' for his otherwise right wing nefariousness? How are cultural institutions supposed to abide this bargain with the devil? My skin crawls each and every time the credits roll at the end of a PBS presentation and his name appears.
Dave, you bring up a topic that was hashed out (not without some blood-letting) on an opera forum to which I contribute.

In giving to the New York City Opera or other arts organizations, the Koch brothers are supporting producers who are predominantly liberal; who present works that are often progressive, even revolutionary in content; and that are directed, sung, acted, designed, constructed, advertised and managed by an enormous number of gay men and lesbians, a great many of whom are out and activists for GLBT rights.

To the best of my knowledge, Koch money does not come with strings attached as to what can be presented or how it can be presented -- a serious subject in discussing today's directors who tend to drop the old performance traditions in favor of digging into the material for a political, generally socially liberal subtext. In fact, giving to the performing arts would seem to be something you could consider totally in opposition to the Koch brothers' right-wing interests and associations.
Seems this suggests that my (and others') question just amounts to 'looking a gift horse in the mouth', but I don't know. Still doesn't answer 'why?'. Guess I'll just ring up the Koch's and ask them;-) Thanks!
Dave, the fact is that a large number of very vocal NYC opera lovers denounced the Koch donations, and were particularly incensed that they bought their name onto the NY State Theater. Countering this valid point was the dire financial predicament of the City Opera, self-inflicted by the Board of Directors' inept management to be sure, and the company's desperate need for cash.

The question in your first comment can be answered by saying that from the Roman emperors through the Medici to the great robber barons of the Industrial Revolution, philanthropy has always been seen as a way to paper over the misdeeds that frequently accompany the amassing of great wealth. As to whether they see giving as gaining them redemption, I doubt strongly people like the Koch brothers consider they've done anything they need to be redeemed from.
I hope Victoria's Cake Cottage loses a lot of business. Ignorant, self-righteous idiot (Victoria Childress, that is).

Thanks for sharing Dorli Rainey's story here. There's so much good going in our communities, but it's hard to see it for all the "awful" that's out there right now.
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