Just got back from a beautiful week in Maine. Aside from the weather (it was never above 80 degrees while I was there) Maine offers other amenities.
The internal combustion engine is not the heart of New England civilization. As a result, streets and roads are largely free of litter; boom cars and loud, Magnaflow exhausts are rarely heard.
Automobiles are generally smaller there than what we see here. SUVs are far fewer in number. If people have kids and groceries to haul around, they go for the station wagon. I have not seen so many station wagons since the 1960s!
Volvos are the car of choice for the eco-friendly Yankee and the Volvo station wagon is ubiquitous. One of them carried the bumper sticker, "I'm a sushi-eating, wine-sipping, Volvo-driving Liberal." I saluted as it drove by.
For a glorious week I did not see a Confederate flag or a license plate proclaiming "In God We Trust." In days of day-tripping around Massachusetts and Maine, I saw exactly three bumper stickers supporting George W. Bush ... and one of them was from South Carolina!
Ah, but it's good to be home again. I've spent the last days reading the back issues of that inestimable voice of truth and reason, The Post and Courier. And it seems the old P&C has had a good deal to report: the first armadillo confirmed in Charleston County, an epic rainstorm and flooding downtown, a mysterious murder on the Battery.
But some things never change and one of them is the Post and Courier itself. Yes, Pierre Manigault's family rag continues to bash liberals, Democrats, and the ACLU for criticizing the way George Bush conducts his Iraq adventure. Manigault and his editorial stooges still do not understand what the First Amendment is all about. Fortunately, George H. Steele of Johns Island does.
In a letter to the editors of the P&C — a letter which the good editors bravely published — Steele responded to a particularly vicious syndicated cartoon, which accused the ACLU of undermining national security: "From my admittedly somewhat liberal perspective, I can only view this hateful and divisive piece of drivel as yet another piece of the 'big lie.' It's the one, which if told often enough, finally becomes accepted as truth.
"And that lie is, of course, that liberals are not only lacking in proper patriotism but are indeed disloyal. Not only is that a lie, it is a damned lie....
"When I have to surrender my freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for the sake of your perception of safety and security, our enemies have already won."
Hear! Hear! That was worth coming home for.
An update on the Wallace Scarborough/Katherine Ceips affair: Three weeks ago, City Paper broke the story that Scarborough, a Republican representing James Island in the General Assembly, and Ceips, a Republican representing Beaufort, were having a rather open affair in Columbia, away from the eyes of their pesky constituents. Both of them have a family-values voting record and both of them were married. (Ceips' husband died July 27, following a long illness.) Indeed, the story was based on court papers filed by Scarborough's wife in her divorce claim.
Now a couple of fresh details have emerged: It seems that Ceips was on the House Ethics Committee and Scarborough was on record as opposing an increase in the fee for a marriage license on the grounds that it would discourage this "sacred institution."
At issue was a bill in the 2001-2002 session of the General Assembly that would increase the marriage license fee by $20, with the additional charge going to a domestic violence fund, administered by the Department of Social Services.
In explaining why he voted against H.3695, Scarborough wrote, "Domestic violence is a problem that is to be taken seriously and we should do everything we can to prevent it. To tax the sacred institution of marriage, however, is to discourage it. Society should be encouraging marriage as much as possible."
This is my 201st column for the Charleston City Paper and marks the beginning of my fifth year speaking up for the underdog and pissing on the shoes of the powerful. For that I thank my editor, Stephanie Barna, who offered me this opportunity four years ago. And I also thank the readers of City Paper, who write in with their comments. Complimentary opinions are always welcome, but nothing fuels a columnist's tank like a nasty letter accusing him of treachery, villainy, calumny, and betrayal. That's when I know I've earned my check.
So keep those letters and e-mails coming in and let's have another great year at City Paper. And thank you.