Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Old Home Page

This is what used to greet visitors to .


What's a writog?

A writer-photographer. DIY (Do It Yourself) citizen journalism.

Email: luketbush[at]yahoo[dot]com .

The Fred Phelps Lovefest

There's always a lot of excitement when the circus comes to town. In this case, the homophobic hate-mongers of Fred Phelps who visited Plattsburgh back in July 2005. Fred's little eristic empire, the Westboro Baptist Church, is based in Topeka, Kansas. When not bashing gays on their website, the crew likes to go on the road and spread their Christian message of love.

Apparently a cult member read a disturbing quote by Dan Stewart, the openly gay mayor of Plattsburgh at the time. In December 2004 there was debate at a city council meeting over letting various organizations set up booths during next year's Mayor's Cup festival. Stewart made the observation: "The last thing I want is Fred Phelps showing up in Plattsburgh."

Fred took that as an invitation: his clowns brought their colorful roadshow here during Mayor's Cup. Any debates about limiting what organizations could have booths during the festivities faded into the background, lost in the sound and the fury.

What follows are my observations in words and pictures.

= = =

Can't you feel the love -- from both sides?

I can't put my finger on the problem...

What we seem to have here is a failure to communicate.

Don't forget -- children represent our future.

Don't tread on me -- or my flag.

This woman couldn't drop either one of her sacred picket signs to pick up the flags.

Instead, she dragged them across the dirty lawn with her feet.

Just takin' a couple of pics for the folks back home.

Yup, I wanna dokument how I brot luv to Plattsburgh.

David Kaczynski: Why The Death Penalty Is Wrong

Image & Text By Luke T. Bush (C) 2006

Originally Published 2/16/06

Last week David Kaczynski, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, spoke at Plattsburgh University. It was an important lecture, one I almost missed, thanks to my “open mind.”

I wasn’t planning on attending, but as a favor for a friend I took some photos. I tried to be unobtrusive, cautiously moving around the auditorium for different perspectives on the event.

While I was concentrating on my photography, I found myself being drawn into David Kaczynski’s story. He explained how one’s POV in regards to the death penalty could change when a close relative is facing capital punishment. He talked about his brother Ted, how he turned Ted in to the FBI before someone else was hurt or killed. David Kaczynski thought he had an understanding with the FBI: the government wouldn’t recommend the death penalty. The FBI also promised David Kaczynski confidentiality, but that obviously was out the window when the press set up shop on his front steps. And when his brother Ted was on trial, the government pushed for the death penalty, another broken promise.

The lecture was personal, heartfelt. David Kaczynski talked about the good side of his brother, how Ted was a victim of mental illness. But it wasn’t an insanity defense that saved Ted Kaczynski; it was that he had top flight lawyers.

And that, said David Kaczynski, is one reason why he’s against the death penalty. Sometimes innocent people are executed because they can’t afford the best lawyers. Also, thanks to the relatively new innovation of DNA testing, it’s been proven that convicted people have been wrongly imprisoned. Life imprisonment without parole is the better alternative.

This lecture created a lasting impression. When I was taking pictures from various spots, I took a few of the audience, about 250 people. I could see they were also drawn into Kaczynski’s story. And while I probably wouldn’t agree with all of his viewpoints (I only heard a few during the lecture), I do think that David Kaczynski is someone I could discuss issues with in a calm, respectful manner – unlike some people who only want to argue and browbeat. His message should be heard.

So fortunately I did attend his lecture. Why didn’t I want to go in the first place? Looking back on it, I really don’t know – but I suspect that part of it was I had a pre-conceived idea of what the speaker was going to say, how he was going to say it. While I would agree with some of his viewpoints, I felt I would have to sit through some ultra-liberal nonsense, the type of stuff I had heard at other lectures. I don’t like nonsense, whether it’s left or right wing.

But this time I was wrong. I’m glad I went and listened. And also learned that my mind isn’t as open as it should be…

(For more information about David Kaczynski’s organization, go to