Tag Archives: Tennessee

TN School District Gets Tutorial In How Fox News Operates

I have yet to fully understand why conservatives decided attacking public education was a winning message (beyond Union Thugs and shiny-sparkly Privatization Thingie), but this incident out of Elizabethton, Tennessee is a classic example of how the conservative media will take a simple incident and manipulate it into the service of their message wars. Now, Elizabethton’s superintendent of schools is questioning the accuracy of Fox stories, accusing the broadcaster of sensationalism. Gee, ya think?

So here’s what happened: Fox News personality Todd Starnes ran a story saying third-graders received a Nation of Islam handout in class that called the presidents on Mt. Rushmore racists. What actually happened, of course, is a little … um, well, different from that.

ELIZABETHTON — Elizabethton Superintendent of Schools Ed Alexander said Thursday afternoon that no parent has come forward to substantiate the Fox News story that two additional Harold McCormick third-graders had received a handout from their teacher that was produced by the Nation of Islam claiming the four presidents on Mount Rushmore were racists.

[...]

Alexander said his initial Monday investigation uncovered that a teacher had downloaded a Nation of Islam document that criticized the four presidents as racists. He said the teacher had been searching the Internet for Mount Rushmore and found the document at that time because it asked “What does it take to be on Mount Rushmore.” He said she quickly discarded it after finding out its content.

Alexander called Starnes with his findings, but he said Fox ran the story, calling the document a “handout.”

Alexander said that while the Fox News story on Monday was accurate in reporting the boy had been in possession of a document he had taken from school, he went on to say on Tuesday that “what was reported (which had been rebutted prior to the airing) was misleading and totally incorrect. I can only think it was shown for its sensational effect. Sadly, regardless of any follow-up report, our system has been defamed.”

While the document the boy turned over to his mother was evidence for the initial Fox story, Alexander said when he called the network to get evidence of the handouts from the other two children, he said Fox told him they did not have any more documents to substantiate the later stories. He questioned the accuracy of the later Fox stories.

Alexander said he has received more than a hundred emails from Fox listeners who criticized him, often using profanity. He said many have called for his firing, while one letter said he should not be fired, he should be “eliminated.”

So the only accurate part of the story is that a child somehow got into possession of a Nation of Islam document calling the Mt. Rushmore presidents racists. How he got the document, and whether it was in fact used in the classroom, were all complete BS fabricated by Fox to stoke fears and anger at the public school system. Worse, Fox News knew before even airing the piece that this was utter BS. But they ran with what they had anyway. Even worse, they embellished the story, saying other parents had come forward — when they hadn’t. This is supposed to be a news organization?

As a teacher, let me say: I know exactly how this happened. You’re Googling, you’re downloading a ton of stuff, printing it out to go through later to see what fits the lesson plan and what you’re going to toss. And then you read one document heavy on the cray and woopsies, this one goes in the discard pile. But somehow Little Johnny Patriot got his hands on it and took it home to Mommy. (By the way: I find the how of this quite suspicious. I’m guessing Little Johnny Patriot did not, in fact, deliver this “handout” to Mommy. I’m thinking some right-wing Gladys Kravitz-type was going through the teacher’s trash and found it, then passed it on to their friend in the Tea Party Muslimophobia knitting circle who has contacts at Fox News. So yes, I’m questioning the one supposedly accurate part of this story. But whatever.)

And by the way, the Nation of Islam URL is noi.org — not, you know, scaryblackpeople-DOT-islamofascismZOMG. It’s not like you can tell from the URL that what you’re downloading is probably not going to be appropriate.

Regardless, the good people of Elizabethton, Tennessee just got an upclose look inside the dirty engine of the Fox Noise machine. Their takeaway? It’s probably a really good idea to question the accuracy of Fox News stories.

5 Comments

Filed under FOX NEWS, media, Tennessee

Tennessee Gun Report

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.

• October 22, 2014:

You know how we’re always told that criminals will stay away from places where they know there are guns? Not so much: in South Nashville, burglars used a stolen pickup truck to break into a gun shop, making off with $14,000 worth of guns. The shop had an alarm which, amazingly, did not go off (no doubt the “responsible” gun shop owners didn’t bother to set it), but a Metro police patrol happened to be passing by and saw the suspects pulling away.

Would be nice if we could have some kind of regulations on these places — how hard is it to set an alarm? — but, sadly, in gun crazy Tennessee, that’s asking too much.

• October 21, 2014:

In Memphis, a middle school student accidentally shot himself in the leg showing his gun to other students:

A 13-year-old boy is recovering after he brought a loaded gun to school Tuesday and was hit in the leg when the gun fired.

The boy, who has not been identified, was taken to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in noncritical condition after the incident at A. Maceo Walker Middle School, 1900 E. Raines Road. It happened about 7:45 a.m.

“Apparently while trying to change classes, he had stopped and was going to show the pistol to some other children when he dropped his backpack and the gun fired,” said Memphis police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph.

• October 20, 2014:

1- In Paris, a 4-year-old got her hands on the family handgun and shot herself. She died.

2-Four shootings in Clarksville in the span of one hour. It just gets worse and worse. It’s almost as if the more guns there are, the more people abuse them.

• October 17, 2014:

A 23-year-old woman fired her handgun during a traffic altercation in East Ridge, just outside of Chattanooga. She fired the gun into the air, and was arrested.

These wannabe Yosemite Sams and Samanthas are gonna kill us all.

• October 16, 2014:

A 7-year-old Winchester girl was accidentally shot in the lower abdomen when her dad was showing her two brothers how to load a high-powered rifle:

John was showing his two sons how to load a rifle in the basement of the family’s 45 Living Oak Lane residence, located between Winchester and Cowan, when the gun misfired, sending a .233 caliber bullet through a bedroom wall and an air hockey table before hitting 7-year-old Liberty Miller in the lower stomach.

The tree of patriots must be watered with the blood of Liberties, I guess.

Also, to whomever wrote this story: nice use of the passive voice gun dodge there. “The gun misfired” all by itsownself. Guns don’t shoot people, except when some lame reporter doesn’t want to state the obvious.

• October 15, 2014:

1- Proving yet again the poor judgment of so many of our gun owners, this happened in Clarksville:

Gregory Wayne Brown allegedly discharged a handgun during a domestic altercation with a 38-year-old man. He did not fire in the direction of Knight, but the bullet went through the wall, through a baby’s crib and stopped at the next wall, according to a police report.

The wall where the bullet stopped was the wall where his 10-month-old child was sleeping in his bed. Brown later changed his story and said the child was asleep in a different room, the report said.

2- This story comes out of Pennsylvania but it concerns a Tennessee man who the family says accidentally shot his cousin:

Soumpholphakdy, 22, was sleeping when Chanthara began jumping on his bed to wake him up around noon, police said.

That’s when, police said, Soumpholphakdy grabbed a gun to try and scare Chanthara. The two men began wrestling and the gun went off, police said.

Friends and family members said the two men are cousins, and it must have been an accident.

“We don’t think there was any foul play or anything like that. If anything, it was accidental,” said Shaggy Phon, a friend.

3- Four guns were stolen from a Memphis police officer’s truck this week. This is not a repeat of the last 12 times this happened. Memphis, get your shit together.

• October 10, 2014:

A Memphis police officer had his gun stolen when he left it in a shopping mall bathroom.

• October 8, 2014:

Guns-in-cars fail: a Chattanooga woman got angry at another driver, started tailgating her, and when that driver pulled over to let her pass, pulled out a gun and pointed it at her.

Seems to me that the vast majority of people simply do not have the emotional maturity to responsibly carry firearms with them.

• September 26, 2014:

• A security guard at a Nashville Walmart shot a man who stole a 6-pack of beer. He’s in serious condition.

I think that is a use of force way out of proportion for the crime.

• September 25, 2014:

• A responsible gun owner responsibly forgot about their loaded Sig Sauer pistol they’d left in their carry-on bag when they tried to board a plane in Nashville. And it’s the 31st such incident this year.

2 Comments

Filed under gun control, Tennessee

Republicans, Make Up Your Damn Minds, Already

[UPDATE]:

HA HA HA HA HA:

Sen. Rand Paul’s letter to Harry Reid about blocking Surgeon General nominee Dr. Murthy over gun control:

RandPaul

Full text at the link. My trolls who keep trying to blame Democrats for the stuff Republicans are doing can go fuck themselves.

—————————————————————————-

Proving yet again that there is literally nothing President Obama can do to please Republicans, Sen. Lamar Alexander is not happy with President Obama’s pick for “Ebola Czar.” (Keep in mind, the hissy fits/impeachment threats conservatives had over Obama’s so-called “Czars” in the first place make their current call for an Ebola Czar especially hypocritical):

“I had in mind a cabinet-level official with the skills of a four-star general or admiral who had a broad public health background and would be accountable to Congress. That kind of action would give Americans confidence about our government’s response to Ebola.”

Hmm … someone like, maybe, the Surgeon General we don’t have because the Republicans are too scared of the gun lobby to approve Dr. Vivek H. Murthy?

Honestly, I truly believe that President Obama could personally develop a cure for Ebola, cancer, and stupidity all in one tasty, affordable treat — but the GOP would complain that it’s gluten-free.

28 Comments

Filed under healthcare, Republican Party, Sen. Lamar Alexander

No, Random Mt. Juliet TN Woman, You Do Not Have Ebola

[UPDATE AD NAUSEUM]:

Let the games begin:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An American Airlines flight from Dallas was quarantined in Nashville after medical scare. Health officials said there was no risk for Ebola.

[...]

The Metro Public Health Department said the passenger with the medical issue had no history of contact with anyone with Ebola in Dallas and had no travel history to Africa. Officials added there was no concern the passenger had Ebola and there was no risk to other passengers on the plane.

This was the second Ebola scare in the mid-state in the last 48 hours. First responders in Hazmat suits quarantined a Mt. Juliet gas station late Saturday night.

————————————-

Oh fer crissakes. With the arrival of cold and flu season, expect to see more stories like this one:

MT. JULIET, Tenn. – A Mt. Juliet gas station was closed for several hours after a woman called emergency dispatchers with what they described as Ebola-like symptoms.

Wilson County officials said the woman was complaining of chest pains just after midnight Sunday. After dispatchers began questioning the woman for additional information, they determined she could have symptoms of the Ebola virus.

EMTs responded to the Mapco gas station at the intersection of Lebanon Road and Mt. Juliet Road wearing full protective gear. The gas station was closed while crews worked.

The woman was transported to TriStar Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, were medical crews had already been alerted to the possible Ebloa threat. Nurses met the patient at the front door wearing masks, gloves and protective masks.

After evaluating the woman, the situation was “cleared,” according to officials. No Ebloa protocol was activated.

A spokesperson for Summit Medical Center said doctors have cleared the woman, and she does not have the Ebola virus. No threat remained at the hospital.

Here’s a quick meme to determine if you might have ebola:

ebola-quiz-you-dont-have-ebola

There is a rampant, overriding, highly politicized culture of fear in America. It’s been with us for about the past 30 years, maybe more. It used to thrive on the fringes of American society, where people afraid of the coming zombie apocalypse would stockpile their canned goods, guns and ammo. Hell, I remember in the mid-70s my mom kept a stash of canned food and 50-gallon bottles of water in our garage “for the revolution,” and we were not a nutso survivalist family.

But since 9/11 this culture of fear has been mainstreamed. It’s been aided and abetted by talk radio — mostly right-wing radio, but I’ve heard my share of fear porn on left-wing radio, too. The news media has fear as its default position (Missing white women! Shark attacks! Immigrants! Terrorism!) and political entities exploit it for profit.

I have this theory that fear sells so easily here because we are such a prosperous country. People who have a lot, have a lot to lose, and thus tend to be more fearful. Fear is an easy sell, but it’s also incredibly damaging. It’s turning America into a ridiculous parody of modern civilization.

When I read stuff about random people thinking they have Ebola all I can do is laugh at them.

[UPDATE]: And another one, in Birmingham, Alabama. This one was at an airport so the “abundance of caution” makes slightly more sense.

[UPDATE] 2:

The only thing more depressing than this story are the search engine terms WordPress tells me has brought folks here today: “ebola scare in mt. juliet, tennessee,: “mt juliet ebola,” and this one: “is it true that a woman has ebola in mt juilet.” Seems like the full-court fear has begun.

I am slightly encouraged by “george zimmerman is an asshole,” however.

11 Comments

Filed under fear, media, Tennessee

The Craziest Story Out Of Tennessee You Will Read All Year

I poke fun at Williamson County a lot over here, and with good reason. On the plus side it has a lovely landscape of rolling hills and historic Antebellum farms. On the downside, it’s the center of hypocritical, uptight, phony Christian, “free market fairies will save us all” political wingnuttery. There’s a reason Victoria Jackson, anti-Muslim extremist Laurie Cardoza Moore, and Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips all call Williamson County home.

Also, the people down there can’t drive for shit. If you’re stuck behind a ginormous SUV creeping along at 20 miles under the speed limit or doing something stupid like trying to turn left out of the right-hand lane, there’s a 90% chance that it has Williamson County plates. Usually it’s driven by a soccer mom texting while driving, let me add.

So let me just say, I am finding it absolutely hilarious that the brand-new chair of the Williamson County School Board — the same school board recently in the news for a textbook flap ginned up by anti-Muslim groups — has been forced to resign over a novelty product.

In particular, this novelty product:

buttleopener-800x430

Apparently the “Buttle Opener” was invented by Mark Gregory’s brother. Gregory helped get it on the market. The product had already caused the school board’s vice chairman to resign. And now Gregory has resigned as chairman (he says he will stay on the school board, however).

Just hilarious.

7 Comments

Filed under Tennessee

Tennessee Gun Report

I’ve been way too busy this week to do my usual perusal of local news reports. Still, we have one accidental shooting this week — this one a fatality.

• September 22, 2014:

The only thing that can stop a bad guy with stolen guns is a woman with a couple of vases, apparently:

Authorities said a woman in East Brainerd slugged a man with two vases after he had walked in their house and attacked her husband.

The sheriff’s office said Joshua Aaron Mills had a short time earlier in the Wednesday incident walked into another house on the same street. They said he walked upstairs and stole $5,700 worth of guns.

Mills, 22, of 2421 Quail Nest Circle, is charged with two counts of aggravated burglary, theft and assault.

Walter Pryor Jr., another resident of Quail Nest Circle, said he had two construction workers inside his residence when a man wearing a gray shirt and brown shirts walked in and asked them about a job. They said the man, who identified himself as Josh Mills, proceeded to walk upstairs.

The workers a few minutes later saw the man jump down with several plastic gun cases and begin running toward some woods.

The guy proceeded to walk into another house in the street where a woman conked him on the head with a vase.

By the way, who leaves gun cases lying around when you’re having construction done on your house? Also, doesn’t the fact that guns are so often stolen from private residences negate the right-wing belief that criminals stay away from homes with guns? So much fail.

• September 20, 2014:

A 20-year-old Cordova man playing with a gun accidentally shot himself in the eye. UPDATE: he died.

• September 19, 2014:

Today in armed society/polite society: An argument between a man and his girlfriend led to the girlfriend’s sister being shot:

Investigators say the man, who lived at the home, got into an argument with his girlfriend. The girlfriend called her sister who came to the house.

When she arrived, police say Cook and the man got into an argument. Cook pulled a gun, the man armed himself and both of them fired shots.

The man was injured, the girlfriend’s sister was killed. Brilliant.

Comments Off

Filed under gun control, Tennessee

Lamar Advertising: Hate Profiteers

Notoriously despicable billboard company Lamar Advertising is profiting from homophobia by accepting this billboard north of Nashville. It was apparently paid for and purchased by “concerned Christians.”

Yeah, this is why people are leaving the church in droves. Just stop the crap, already, religious people. Apparently the tone and message has prompted complaints:

Mayor Wilber said he’s well-aware of the discussions surrounding the sign; one resident called him to complain.

“Thought it was not fit for the time that we’re in, just thought it was out of place, just sent a bad message,” he explained.

Good for the people of Portland, Tennessee. And really, Lamar Advertising is profiting from this? What a horrible company. I’m reminded of this story from just a few years ago in which they refused to run ads from Georgia Equality, saying,

…”We just didn’t feel the copy was right for those markets” …

The offending copy?

The billboards proposed by Georgia Equality feature images of professionals, such as a male firefighter and a female doctor, and include tag lines that read, “I protect you. And … I am gay. We Are Your Neighbors.”

Yeah, so not right.

What a bunch of assholes. Profiting from hate never works, Lamar Advertising.

4 Comments

Filed under GLBT, religious right, Tennessee