Time for another round of “Other News from Around the Deep South,” my periodic look at recent news stories from the region that didn’t get as much attention.
First, from Georgia, we have an article that ran in the New York Times online on October 5 – about two months ago – during the government shutdown that we all enjoyed so very much. But the folks described in “Conservative Georgia District Urges G.O.P. To Keep Up The Fight” didn’t want it to end. They wanted ultra-conservatives to mount an ultra-standoff until the rest of the nation had to submit to the ideals of an ultra-sparse few people. The news story is mainly about the northwest Georgia constituents of Republican congressman Tom Graves, whose proposed bill, the Defund Obamacare Act, basically started the whole thing.
The first thing we get to see under the article’s title is a tall, clean-cut, resolved-looking white guy who is totally surrounded by guns. Below that, we find out that the district has been affected by the shutdown, because of the diminished tourist trade to the nearby Chickamauga Battlefield, which was closed, but the main voices cited in the story wanted the deadlock to continue! And if Graves didn’t stand firm, voters in the majority-white district were willing to elect someone even more conservative than he is.
I had wondered during all that shutdown business who was supporting it, and after reading this article I knew: white people in rural Deep Southern districts who elected the most radically conservative representatives they could find. Thanks, guys— from all of us!
Staying in Georgia and shifting to an even more bizarre story than the other one from Georgia, the case of murdered teenager Kendrick Johnson was strange enough when he was found dead, rolled up in a gym mat in his high school’s locker room. There have been no arrests. No cause of death has been determined. One explanation given for his death was that it was accidental, that he had suffocated in the rolled-up mat when he crawled in there to retrieve a lost shoe. At a later point, his parents received his body, but the internal organs were missing and he was stuffed with newspaper. Then, in late November, accusations began to fly that the gymnasium surveillance camera recording, which shows Kendrick Johnson walk through the gym going to the locker room, had been altered. That story is ongoing . . .
Headed west over to Mississippi, the AP had a story (via al.com on November 23) about Mississippi’s only clinic that still performs abortions. The clinic is owned by a steadfast Alabama woman who also owns clinics in Georgia and Virginia, and did own a clinic in Birmingham that was bombed by Eric Rudolph in 1998. Despite constant legal and social challenges, she plans to keep the Mississippi clinic open. The article explains:
“I feel like God wants me to do this job,” said Derzis, who has a raspy smoker’s voice and a penchant for brightly painted fingernails and chunky jewelry.
She started working as an abortion clinic counselor shortly after the first clinic opened in Alabama in the 1970s.
Finally, also from Mississippi, the LA Times online offered this little nugget about one you may have forgotten already: James Everett Dutschke, the Tupelo martial arts instructor who (allegedly) mailed ricin letters to the president, a US senator and a local judge, then (allegedly) tried to frame a local Elvis impersonator. Well, he’s back in the headlines because – the FBI says – last summer he was trying (from jail) to convince someone else to send some more ricin-tainted letters in another attempt (allegedly) to frame the Elvis impersonator (again).
Short and sweet this time!