Tag Archives: Tennessee

Jim Cooper FAIL #2

I’m done with you, buddy. Seriously. You either lied to the Nashville Scene or were utterly clueless about this SAFE Act vote; either way, you don’t belong in Congress anymore.

Okay, Mary Mancini, Chris Moth, Jeff Yarbro … either of you want to move to Washington D.C.? Anyone have any other ideas?



Filed under Congress, Current Events, Housekeeping, immigration, Nashville, Rep. Jim Cooper, Tennessee

“Republican” As A Synonym For Coward


Just as I predicted:

Christian groups break with GOP over Syrian refugees

Faith-based groups, who play a key role in resettling refugees to the United States, say they are dismayed by the wave of anti-refugee fervor set off by the Paris terrorist attacks and are urging supporters to contact elected officials on behalf of victims of the Syrian civil war.

Many of you may not know this but Southern Beale works with refugees. It’s been my job for the past two years. So when I hear Tennessee Republicans like Glen Casada say such repulsive things as,

“We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can. I’m not worried about what a bureaucrat in D.C. or an unelected judge thinks. … We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE center and say, ‘They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.'”

… it really makes me want to punch that guy in the face. Really, the amount of ignorance and hate on display in such comments just boggles the mind. It’s like they’re in a race to see who can be the most despicable human being.

My students have told me stories here and there, so I’ve gained a little perspective  about what it’s like to be a refugee. One thing that’s clear is how hard it is to come to the United States; you don’t just get handed a ticket and land in Nashville. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Some of my students have spent years in refugee camps. When they finally do make it through the arduous process, many of them don’t even know where they’re going. One of my students was first sent to Los Angeles, was immediately redirected to Idaho (Idaho!), was there for just two days (two days!), before then being sent on to Nashville. So  I think stories like this one are not unusual, current events notwithstanding.

Republicans are playing to their fearful, nativist, xenophobic base. I don’t for a second think that they believe the crap that they’re spewing. They’re just trying to gin up a response, and fear is their go-to emotion. Keeping people scared is what they do. Last year it was Ebola, this year it’s refugees. Republicans are the “OMG WE’RE ALL GONNA DIIIIIIE!” party.

What they don’t seem to know is that a large majority of the groups helping refugees navigate these uncertain waters are Christian. Organizations like World Relief, Catholic Charities, and Church World Service are all involved in refugee resettlement. That’s because once upon a time, Christians were interested in more than just abortion and gay marriage. They knew that Leviticus didn’t just have something to say about gay sex, but also about not mistreating foreigners, “for you were foreigners in Egypt.” So as Republicans race to the bottom vilifying people fleeing war in Syria, they’re also pissing off another large contingent of their base.

We’ve seen this all before. It’s an election year, they want to appeal to the lowest common denominator of their base, so they tweak that amygdala,  instead of trying to appeal to the better elements in their party. And come the next post-mortem, Republicans will continue to wonder why they’re perceived as the party that doesn’t care about people. Same as it ever was.

“Republican” is a synonym for coward. Not just because they’re scared shitless of everything — Muslim refugees, Ebola nurses, married gay people, you name it. But because they’re too scared to be anything else.


Filed under conservatives, Current Events, fear, Housekeeping, immigration, rants, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

Congratulations, Unidentified TN Man! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

We have an awful lot of Nervous Nellies running around the state of Tennessee with their pew-pew-pew toys, firing them every time they’re a-skeered. Yesterday it was Sherry McLain of Lacassas, who pulled a gun on a man (some reports say he was African American) who approached her in the parking lot of a Murfreesboro Walmart.

Today we return to Murfreesboro, where a man who is apparently a veteran is inexplicably shot by a terrified driver:

It happened just before noon at the intersection of Middle Tennessee Boulevard and South East Broad Street, and witnesses said the victim was a veteran.

The man witnesses said to be a former Marine, was driving a black infinity and stopped in the road to get out of his car and say something to the 22-year-old driver of a Volvo.

The 22-year-old fired one shot from inside his car, which hit the man in the stomach and exited through his side and hit his elbow.

A witness told NewsChannel 5 that the man asked the shooter, “why did you shoot me?” The driver responded by saying,” you scared the [expletive] out of me.”

Once again, I’m going to go out on a limb and say our veteran was a person of the melanin-enhanced persuasion. Hey, I could be wrong! But I’m probably not!

BTW, happy Veterans Day! Thanks for your service! BAM!

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Filed under gun control, Guns, Tennessee

Tennessee Gun Report

We’ve got some awesome gunfail from across the state this week. Let me tell you, I feel so safe with all of these Second Amendment Heroes on the loose. Really, we must be the safest state in the country! No? Why not?

• November 9, 2015:

If I were placing bets I’d say the man in question was black, but hey, I could be wrong about this:

MURFREESBORO, Tennn. – A 67-year-old woman was arrested for pulling a gun in a Walmart parking lot after she was approached by a stranger in what she called self defense.

The woman said she feared for her life and pulled out a gun, but she was the one facing serious criminal charges.

It has become a controversial case raising questions about how far you can go if you think you are in mortal danger.

“It scared me absolutely to death,” said Sherry McLain. She was loading groceries into her car this past Saturday in the crowded Walmart parking lot on Old Fort Parkway in Murfreesboro.

That’s when a strange man approached, surprising her, and she pulled her revolver. “I have never been so afraid of anything in my whole life I don’t think,” said McLain. “This guy is the bad guy and I’m the one in handcuffs walking away.”

Murfreesboro police said there’s much more to the story. “There was no reason for her to perceive any legitimate threat,” said Sergeant Kyle Evans.

Officers at the scene talked with McLain and the man who approached her. It turned out that he had just bought cigarettes and asked her for a light.

Witnesses confirmed this and security video showed the man, who we could not reach for comment, never got closer than 10 feet to McLane.

Sherry McLain, you are my favorite Second Amendment Hero this week! I love all of these terrified people pulling guns on everyone and everything that spooks them. Drop a jar? BAM! Car backfires? BAM! Dog barking? BAM! BAM! BAM! It makes me feel so safe! Don’t you feel safer knowing there are terrified Sherry McLains out there pulling out their guns at everything in public places? Thank you, Tennessee Republicans for making this possible!

Yes, she had a CCW permit.

By the way, watch the video at the link. It’s priceless.

• November 8, 2015:

A woman driving in Murfreesboro was shot at by a BB gun or pellet gun:

The incident occurred late last week and police wrote that the pellet shattered the victims passenger side window. The gun that fired the shot was evidently powerful enough to cause not only the glass to break, but also hit the victim in the shoulder.

The officer wrote in the report, “I observed a small circular abrasion along with a couple of linear abrasions on her right shoulder blade.”

Probably fired by Sherry McLain who was scared by a bird.

• November 7, 2015:

Tennessee, you have a gun problem: a fisherman was shot at on Percy Priest Lake outside of Nashville. Ironically, the incident occurred during a fundraiser for another fisherman who was shot and killed on the same lake last month.

Bogdal was fishing on his Kayak Saturday morning on Percy Priest Lake near the Smith Springs boat ramp.

He was fishing as part of a fundraiser for Gregg Hawkins who was shot and killed a month ago at the Mona boat ramp.

“As I was fishing I was facing the bank, so the opposite way and I heard three or four shots,” said Bogdal.

He told Channel 4 News when he turned around he saw an orange two door car.

“They saw that I saw them, he moved the position of his car and re-angled it this way, so he could get a clear shot from his passenger window. He made four or five shots across channel you know to try to get them as close as he could and then he left the area,” said Bogdal.

You know, it’s almost as if more guns don’t make us safer! Unless, you know, maybe it was Sherry McLain out for a day on the lake, and she got spooked by a snapping twig. Could happen! She’s very scared, you know.

• November 5, 2015:

I don’t usually post gun violence stories here because there’s just too many of them and they aren’t usually gunfail (gun stupidity), but this story deserves a mention.

A Metro Nashville Councilman was shot three times outside a gas station in West Nashville. The shooters are still at large.

It is truly startling how gun violence now dominates the morning news. I’ve watched our CBS affiliate every morning for about 10 years now; it’s part of our morning ritual at the Beale household. Used to be there might be one gun violence story; now, they’re all shootings or gun related. Clearly moar gunz! has had a deleterious affect on the quality of life in Middle Tennessee.

2- The Metro Nashville Fair Board is considering changing its policy about gun shows at the Fairgrounds. The NRA is not amused.

• November 3, 2015:

A Clarksville woman was accidentally shot in the head and is believed to have died.

• November 1, 2015:

Two Memphis teens were accidentally shot:

The 15-year-old victim of that shooting told police he was with his 16-year-old friend at the time. He said the friend had his hands in his pockets, and the gun “just went off,” shooting him in the foot and the 16-year-old in the hand.

The 15-year-old was transported to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in noncritical condition, and the 16-year-old fled the scene on foot, police said.

• October 30, 2015:

A rumored school shooting in Lebanon kept kids out of school the day before Halloween.


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

Let’s Not And Say We Did

I’m glad State Rep. David Hawk likes his job and all but I think this is a spectacularly bad idea:

The Tennessee legislature has been quite efficient in recent years, according to State Rep. David Hawk.

Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, said for the past three years, legislators, who convene each year in January to begin their legislative session, have completed budgetary duties by the end of April. But lawmakers’ quick work in hashing out the state’s finances has “inadvertently weakened” the state’s legislative branch of government for the remaining seven to eight months of the year, Hawk said.

“While the legislature is in session from January through April, I feel that we are an equal third branch of government,” he said. “But for the other eight months of the calendar year, I feel like all we can do or say is, ‘Wait until we get back into session in January.’ We’re living in such a fast-paced world now where issues can arise quickly, or when we leave issues hanging over from a prior session, I feel our constituents deserve better from the body that is supposed to be the people’s voice in Tennessee.”

To alleviate this concern and allow lawmakers to address issues that may arise after the legislative session has ended in April, Hawk said he intends to introduce legislation that would create a September legislative session.

No. Nooooooooo. Let me repeat: NOOOOOO.

What a crock. If the Legislature is so efficient, why do you need an extra session? Hawk says the regular legislative session is focused primarily on the state budget;

[…] a September session would allow lawmakers to focus more on creating new state policies.

Oh. So apparently there isn’t enough time for gay bashing, ‘bortion hating, and Planned Parenthood defunding? So maybe you aren’t as efficient as you think? Even better, Hawk only wants to do this in odd-numbered years so the extra session doesn’t interfere with legislative members’ campaigning. Priorities!

But here’s the best part:

“My hope is that there is no financial obligation associated with this,” he said.

Hilarious! So everyone will work for free. No per diems, no costs, no nothing. Dream on!

Personally, I think you guys have more than enough time to inflict your damage on the state. There is absolutely nothing that comes up over the summer and fall that is so urgent it requires immediate state legislative action.

I’m sure Hawk and the others were unhappy they couldn’t grandstand over the Kim Davis affair, the bogus Planned Parenthood videos, the mass shootings on college campuses. So hard to sit on the sidelines while these hot-button issues flare up on social media and then disappear, and our legislature never got to say a word about it! Aww. Too bad.


Filed under Tennessee, Tennessee politics

Tennessee Gun Report

I got behind schedule again, folks. Sorry! Lots of gunfail across Tennessee, though. And I’m sure I missed a few, as well. Tennessee gunfail, smells like freedumb. Enjoy!

• October 29, 2015:

Someone left a loaded handgun in a Goodwill donation box in Murfreesboro.

• October 28, 2015:

A Chattanooga-area 13-year-old was accidentally shot in the face, but is recovering:

The department says that the preliminary investigation found that the young teen was accidentally shot by a family member while posing for photos with firearms.

Ta da.

• October 27, 2015:

How’s that “I need a gun to protect myself” stuff working for everyone? From Chattanooga:

A Shreveport, La., man said he was shot with his own gun after taking a man he barely knew out on a late-night run for beer.


The victim said he and two associates were staying at the King’s Lodge on the side of Missionary Ridge while in town repairing dumpsters.

He said Taylor, who was also staying at the King’s Lodge, began coming by bumming cigarettes and beer.

He said on the night of the shooting on Sept. 17 that Taylor asked him to take him to get beer. He said they went to two different stores without getting any. One was closing and another would not sell him any because Taylor did not have an ID. He did get beer at a third store.

He said Taylor asked him to take him to a residence in order to get his wallet. He said he was not familiar with Chattanooga streets so he followed the directions of Taylor to a residential area that turned out to be near Willow Street.

The witness said he carries a pistol and had it by him because he cannot wear it and have his seatbelt on. He said after he had stopped at a stop sign that Taylor suddenly grabbed the pistol and jumped out of the vehicle.

Mr. Shaw said he got out and yelled at Taylor, who turned and fired at him.

Well, that gun sure did him a helluva lot of good.

• October 22, 2015:

A Nashville man told police he’d been shot by a stray bullet but it turns out it he’d accidentally shot himself. Oops.

• October 21, 2015:

A Memphis 15-year-old brought a gun to school.

Awful lot of this going on. Read on.

• October 16, 2015:

• A Shelbyville high school student was arrested for bringing a loaded gun and knife to school.

• October 15, 2015:

1- Predictably, Tennessee Republicans think more guns is the answer to school shootings. Because hey, that solution is working so wonderfully right now!

2- A drunken Rogersville man started shooting at people on a hayride.

• October 14, 2015:

A high school student in Shelbyville has been suspended for bringing a loaded gun to school.

• October 13, 2015:

1- A Jackson man forgot that guns are not toys, paid with his life:

A 22-year-old Atwood man died Friday after he accidentally shot himself while playing with a handgun, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department told The McKenzie Banner.

The McKenzie newspaper reported that according to David Bunn of the Sheriff’s Department, Colton Tilley, 22, of 1830 E. Main St., and four other young men were in a garage early Friday morning when Tilley was fatally shot. The garage is behind Tilley’s mother’s house, Bunn said.

Tilley had “dry fired” the 9 mm handgun several times as the loaded magazine hung loose from the weapon, the Sheriff’s Department said. He aimed it at the wall and his knee and the weapon did not fire. He then pointed it at his head and the weapon fired, the Sheriff’s Department said.

2- In Chattanooga, a gunman opened fire on a school bus stop full of elementary, middle and high school kids. Just ordinary, every day American terror in our poorest neighborhoods.

• October 5, 2015:

Concerns have been raised about the gun shows they hold regularly at the Tennessee State Fairgounds in Nashville:

Members of the Nashville Fair Board have expressed safety concerns over a new gun show and questioned background checks.

The concern is whether private sellers at the event are required to perform background checks on the people purchasing guns.


Fair Board Commissioner Kenneth Byrd said he is concerned. He released the following statement to Channel 4:

“As I have said for quite some time, I am skeptical about supporting gun shows at the fairgrounds. Moreover, no dealer should be using our facility to take advantage of so-called ‘loopholes’ in outdated, careless and toothless laws. We should not wait for a school shooting in Nashville before having this discussion and asking, ‘Why are we supporting these sales at a taxpayer owned and subsidized facility?”

Frankly, I’ve been concerned for quite some time, and I’m just shocked that someone on the Fair Board shared my concerns. For one thing, I’m trying to think what the reaction would be if Planned Parenthood held a women’s health fair at the state fairgrounds. I’m guessing there’d be a lot of outrage. Gun control people really need to stop being so nice. Who was it that said gun control needs its own Operation Rescue? With trucks displaying scenes of mass shootings circling outside the NRA convention, and protestors showing up outside gun shows begging people not to go inside? That would be fun.

Anyway, they have quite a few gun shows at the State Fairgrounds — there’s one coming up in early November — and they’re commonly held at the same time as other events. Once I went to the fairgrounds for a plant sale and saw they were also having both a gun show and exotic animal show, as well. Put those two together and bring that guy who killed Cecil the Lion. Gun

I appreciate Commissioner Byrd’s concerns but I think we all know what would happen if gun shows were banned from the state fairgrounds: some wingnut in the Tennessee State Legislature would file a bill making it illegal for the state fair board to do that. Because, you know, it’s the state fair. They might even pull the state fair from Nashville, which in retrospect I think would make a lot of people very happy. Our state fair is pretty crappy, especially compared to some of the really awesome state fairs around the country. But that’s another discussion.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

Tennessee Gun Report

So much gun fail this week I can’t even believe it myself. It’s almost as if more guns don’t make us safer, y’know?

• October 9, 2015:

1- In Murfreesboro, a Responsible Gun Owner™ brandished a gun in an argument with a neighbor over dog poop, got arrested.

2- People in Spring Hill ran for cover when someone opened fire on them for unknown reasons. Wild Wild West time! Clearly more guns is the answer!

• October 8, 2015:

An armed Whites Creek woman chased her ex in her car, firing shots at him, and eventually flipped her car — all with her 9-mos-old baby in the vehicle.

• October 7, 2015:

1- The pro-gun National Shooting Sports Foundation is buying billboards in Nashville to remind people that straw purchases are illegal. They really, really care.

2- A drunken Elizabethton man “threw a fit” when his wife refused to give him his gun because he was drunk. He eventually punched her in the mouth, got his gun, and fired it outside. He showed her.

3- A Kingston gun store is offering discounts to Christians, because they are stupid, probably. How do you know someone is a Christian? Do they show their Bible? Recite a Bible verse or something? Spout the empty platitudes we’ve come to associate with “Christians” (“I have a personal relationship with Jesus,” “I’ve been saved,” and “Obama is a Moooooslim”)? Not even!

“I don’t think its a matter or proving or disapproving. Its a matter of saying the words I’m a Christian and you get the discount,” Williams said.

Oh, well, fine then. Any ol’ empty gesture will work, which seems to be about par for the course in the Fundiegelical wing of Christianity.

Here’s the best part of this whole bullshit “Christians are being targeted” story:

Some accounts of the shooting in Oregon have claimed the suspect targeted Christians. That claim has not been proven.

There is zero evidence that Christians were specifically targeted. It’s a story the news media ran with because the shooter had anti-organized religion views, but he was also a hard-right winger. Funny how the focus shifted away from his political views and toward the “poor pitiful Christians we’re so persecuted” storyline. The Christian persecution complex is getting incredibly tiresome, especially when it’s based on absolutely zero evidence, but I’m glad someone is able to monetize it. Carry on, gun store owners.

• October 6, 2015:

1- A Cookeville man “in an excited state” accidentally shot off his thumb during an argument. The bullet then traveled into the torso of a woman at the scene. Brilliant.

2- A loaded firearm was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag at McGhee Tyson Airport.

• October 4, 2015:

An 11-year-old Jefferson County child shot his 8-year-old neighbor because she wouldn’t show him her new puppy:

WHITE PINE (WATE) — A shooting Sunday morning in White Pine left an 8-year-old girl dead and an 11-year-old boy arrested on first-degree murder charges.

Jefferson County Sheriff G.W “Bud” McCoig said the boy shot the girl in the chest with a 12-gauge shotgun, from inside his home along Robin Road. Sheriff McCoig said the gun belonged to the boy’s father. The boy’s name is not being released at this time.

According to her mother, McKayla Dyer, 8, was found lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to her chest. She was taken to Morristown-Hamblen hospital, where she later died.

Apparently the family had had problems with the boy before. So yeah, let’s leave a fucking 12-guage lying around the house where the child can get his hands on it. Respect the culture, etc. etc.

• October 2, 2015:

A gun hoarder in Greeneville just contributed 14 guns to the blackmarket, after a theft at his home. Thanks a lot, asshole. What do you need 14 guns for anyway? I think anyone wanting to hoard that many guns should be required to have a collector’s license.

• October 1, 2015:

1- In Grundy County, a hunter was accidentally shot. He died.

2- A Mt. Juliet felon methed it up before heading out to the Publix with a handgun. I’m just wondering: in this fabulous word the gun loons imagine where we’re all walking around armed, how can you tell the good guys with guns from the bad guys?

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Filed under gun control, Tennessee

Straight & Narrow Minded

Blount County, Tennessee, punted on its “please, God, go smite someone else” resolution: after crowds showed up to protest the item, the commission did the cowardly thing by not approving the meeting’s agenda and adjourning. That’s a principled action!

This is the part I love:

The resolution, sponsored by County Commissioner Karen Miller, has gained national attention. The resolution focuses on recognizing and protecting ‘natural marriage,’ or marriage between a man and woman.

‘I had no idea this was going to take place. I was totally in the dark. It’s a total surprise,’ said Miller.

Nobody could have anticipated. Nobody could have seen this coming. Nobody could have foreseen that a resolution that is…

…petitioning for God’s mercy and asks God ‘not to destroy our county as he did Sodom and Gomorrah’ …

… would turn tiny Blount County, Tennessee into a national laughingstock. Truly it’s a mystery to Commissioner Miller that this has generated any attention at all, forcing the commission to pull the plug on the entire meeting and scurry into their holes. Hoocodanode?

This is what I love about fundiegelicals. Putting aside for a moment the whole church/state thing, and the fact that not every person is a believer, and not every believer is a Christian, I think one of the most annoying things about the fundiegelical wing of Christianity is that they always think they’re the only Christians in the room.

They always think they speak for everyone else. In a religion with literally hundreds of different denominations and splinter groups, why do they always assume that their version of Christianity is the “agreed-upon” version?

Or maybe they aren’t assuming that, maybe they’re just asserting it. “Our version is the right version and everyone else has to live by our rules!” I mean, how rude is that? To just barge into the faith and tell dozens of other denominations that they’re wrong, we’re right, and shut up.

Look, there are plenty of Christian denominations out there which don’t buy into any of that anti-gay bullshit. And I’m not even talking about “fringe” wings of Christianity like the New Thought churches (Unity, Christian Science, Religious Science) or even those pesky Unitarian Universalists. Mainstream denominations (Presbyterian Church-USA, United Church of Christ, Anglican, Lutheran, Christian Church-DoC) not to mention splinters within the more conservative denominations (there is, believe it or not, a Baptist church down the street from me with an openly lesbian pastor).

So, you know, the fundiegelicals don’t speak for everybody, yet here they come marching in, acting as if they own the joint. No, you don’t own the joint. Shut up. Go away. Practice your faith your way and let others practice their faith their way, and let those who don’t subscribe to any faith also be allowed to live as they please. You’re not the boss of PCUSA or Disciples of Christ or anybody else. So rude. So ignorant.

And that goes for those people wanting to post the 10 Commandments everywhere, blithely unaware that there isn’t just one version. Or teaching Creationism in school: which Biblical version of the Creation are you wanting to teach? There are three in the Old and New Testaments. What arrogance to assume that your version is the one everyone else will agree with!

Get thee behind me, you useless idiots.


Filed under Christianity, gay equality, GLBT, religion, religious right, Tennessee

WTF Ron Ramsey

Tennesee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey just posted this on his Facebook page. It’s positively chilling:


Holy holy war, Batman! What the hell is wrong with this man? “It’s time to prepare”? “Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise”? Are you fucking insane? How’s that been working for us, buddy? Everyone is already armed to the teeth! Amazingly, we’ve had more mass shootings! More, not fewer! What’s that they say about insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

This is some irresponsible BS. Shame. On. You. SHAME. ON. YOU.


Oregon is one of 7 states allowing CCW holders to carry on campus. And apparently there were at least two CCW holders on campus when the shooting happened. They opted not to intervene, out of fear they’d become targets themselves. This was, by the way, absolutely the right call: most of the time, the “good guy with a gun” ends up either getting in the way of law enforcement, getting shot, or hurting an innocent bystander. I just point it out by way of illustrating to Ron Ramsey and the rest of the gun loons that arming all the “good guys” clearly isn’t working. We’ve been doing that for over a decade now and all we have to show for it is more gun violence, more shootings, and a rise in the murder rate.

Watch the interview:


Filed under Guns, religion, Tennessee

Someone ALWAYS Pays, Governor!

Gov. Haslam, still hot for privatization, might want to check out what’s happening in our privatized prison industrial complex, which has apparently found a wonderful new revenue source:

A private probation company in Tennessee is violating racketeering laws by jailing impoverished people who fail to pay court fines for traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses, and by refusing to waive fees for the indigent, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

In the lawsuit, seven probationers, many of them sick or disabled and living on as little as $129 a month in food stamps, say they lost housing, jobs and cars, sold their blood plasma and went without food after repeated threats by the company that they would be jailed if they could not pay.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Nashville, alleges that the county and the company, Providence Community Corrections in Rutherford County, southeast of Nashville, are violating racketeering laws by extorting money through “the wrongful use of fear.”

Ah, terrific! Literally profiting off the plasma of the poorest of the poor. You know, I didn’t think it was possible to get blood from a stone but Tennessee Republicans have certainly managed to find some. I guess I didn’t think about the selling plasma part.

This is how privatization works, Gov. Haslam! I mean, when your only concern is whether a private company can do something cheaper, privatization looks pretty awesome, right? But the savings have to come from somewhere, right? This is how capitalism works, right?! Someone, somewhere along the line, pays. So let’s unpack this story and see who that person is:

The lawsuit in Tennessee, filed by Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights group, and the pro bono arm of the law firm Baker Donelson, describes a financial arrangement between the county and Providence Community Corrections that is typical in many respects: The county pays nothing to the company, which earns money instead by charging monthly fees to probationers as well as surcharges for drug tests, warrants and other services.

Oh, that’s nice. So the county pays nothing, and the company charges the indigent. Somehow the good Christian people of Rutherford County thought this dirty piece of business was gonna end up being clean? Seriously? You thought you could get something for nothing? Are you people idiots?

And let’s look at these surcharges for drug tests. Were they, maybe, performed by Aegis Sciences, the drug testing company owned by the husband of prominent Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black? Maybe! Love how the Republican Welfare Gravy Train works, don’t you?

But wait, there’s more:

The company even refused to let destitute probationers complete their required community service hours without first paying a community service fee, the plaintiffs say.

The arrangement gives the company a direct financial interest in the length of probationary periods. It also gives it broad powers to set the conditions of probation, including such requirements as forbidding alcohol consumption regardless of the nature of the offense, and to “revoke” probation and have the offender jailed, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs say that once they were sent to county jail, they were manhandled or ridiculed by jail officials. Paula Pullum, a 48-year-old plaintiff with severe medical problems — including a heart ailment — claims that when she submitted a letter detailing her health issues and required medications, a jailer tore it up.

Plaintiffs say that even when the company was aware of their indigence, they were not told they could apply to have their court costs waived. When they asked for a waiver, they said, they were denied or told they would first have to make payments for several months, pay for the form, pass a $20 drug test and pay a $25 fee to get a court hearing.

Yes, someone always pays! And when it’s the poor — or the poorest of the poor — who cares, amiright? That’s what they get for being poor. Stupid poors! Why can’t you be rich like the rest of us! Meanwhile, let’s continue to tell ourselves that the poor are lazy, that the playing field is even, that everyone has the same opportunities as everyone else, etc. Then we can grandstand about tight budgets and small government and the super awesome private sector and the need to privatize because cheaper, better, shinier, sparklier, etc. etc. etc. It’s super awesome, you guys — as long as you don’t look to closely.

And by the way, the lawsuit has been filed by the D.C.-based civil rights non-profit Equal Justice Under The Law. This is the kind of stuff ACORN used to do. I expect this group to be targeted by some James O’Keefe acolyte in 5 … 4… 3….


Filed under corporations, Tennessee