censorship, empathy, justice – strange bedfellows in Key West; plus, Aphrodite encore

Jesus with leper

homeless Jesus ministers to leper


no good deed goes unpunished

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psychiatrist interviews

Yesterday from Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry (retired, sort of):

Sloan: the ACLU meeting last night would have
been just up your alley—no censorship, freedom
of expression and lots of aware,informed bright people.
hope you are fine—–Jerry

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 Decrease text sizeIncrease text size Add to Facebook Add to Twitter
Being in the crosshairs of censorship
Blume: Standing up for what’s right is better than doing nothing
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff

It can all start with “The Lorax.”

For years, the Dr. Seuss children’s book has landed on lists of banned books, or it has been challenged as too offensive for public viewing.

“Because it discriminated against the timber industry,” said ReLeah Lent, a veteran educator and chairwoman of the National Teachers of English Anti-Censorship Committee.

Many of the 130 people in the audience at a Key West forum on banned books Tuesday night at the Harvey Government Center, 1200 Truman Ave., laughed at the reason Lent reported.

“I’m going to make you laugh a lot tonight,” Lent said.

“James and the Giant Peach” encourages kids to disobey their parents, Lent said, ticking off a list of targeted books. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein advocates suicide, cults and eating a baby, according to worried critics.

The evening, though, crossed into emotional territory when panelists shared their experience being in the cross-hairs of book banners.

Lent, who lives in Georgia, began her career as a middle school English teacher in Panama City, where she found herself on the front lines of two high-profile censorship battles.

In 1987, Lent and two other teachers received a creepy anonymous death threat after fighting to keep “I Am the Cheese” by Robert Cormier in the classroom.

The Cormier ban ended up on the cover of The Washington Post magazine, and drew Cormier to Panama City to meet with parents.

“It took a lawsuit to get ‘I Am the Cheese’ reinstated,” Lent said.

By 1998, Lent settled a lawsuit against the same school district after the principal tried to take control of the student newspaper’s coverage.

Bestselling author Judy Blume, who lives in Key West, led a panel discussion centered on questions such as, “Is any book safe?”

Blume, who in the 1990s found herself a target of ultraconservative critics claiming her books “Deenie,” “Forever” and “Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret,” were unfit for school libraries due to the inclusion of sexual curiosity among characters struggling through puberty.

“Standing up and speaking up for what you believe in feels a lot better than doing nothing,” Blume told the crowd. “You find out you’re not as alone as you thought. That’s when I found the National Coalition Against Censorship. They saved my life at a time when I needed to be saved,” Blume said, before asking the crowd to support the organization.

Anne Layton Rice, an administrator at the Monroe County library, said in her 16 years she hasn’t seen one book being pulled off the shelves.

“Sometimes, we do have books that go missing,” Rice said.

“That’s their way of getting rid of them,” Blume said.

Not all would-be book banners are whipped up in a censoring frenzy over sex or Harry Potter-style witchcraft, Rice said.

An older gentleman once politely asked Rice for the immediate removal of the entire Encyclopedia Britanica.

“He was very sweet,” Rice said.

His concern was that the books didn’t describe Nazi concentration camps seriously enough. She suggested he contact the editors of the encyclopedia rather than try to get the series yanked off the shelves.

“He’s afraid he’s being forgotten,” Lent said.

“I’m proud of the Key West library,” Blume said, drawing applause.


I wrote back to Jerry:

Hi, Jerry:

I wasn’t at the ACLU censorship presentation for two reason: first, I had mistakenly thought it was next week, and, second, I was in the Waterfront Theater where I apparently was supposed to be, based on my dreams last night and what I wrote about that play in today’s post.

From time to time I get hammered for what I publish, and am told, in various ways, to stop publishing.

People who write into www.bigpinekey.com’s Coconut Telegraph forum have tried to get me banned there, and still complain about me having stuff posted there.

Deer Ed, who owns and operates the Coconut Telegraph, has heavily edited, and even has deleted altogether, replies I make to his readers’ attacks on me.

I have experienced the Citizen refusing to publish letters to the editor I sent to them, which were a bit controversial.

When I read the CITIZEN report today on the ACLU censorship event, I wondered what the censors would try to do with HEAVY WAIT: A Strange Tale, if they read it and knew the county library system has copies in it?

I wonder if Judy Blume is pleased that her books were attacked by the censors; once news of that got out, her books became forbidden fruit, all the more desirable to some people to track down and read.

I have not heard one good thing about the local ACLU chapter, as far as rolling up their sleeves, taking risks, suing bad people, etc. To the contrary, I have heard they like to meet and talk, and that’s about it. Do you know other stories about them, which put them in a better light?



Jerry replied:

Sloan: Would you believe this—it is true
I heard only complementary words about
Your blog !!!! Honest!!! -it is a good place to make contacts (social)
with people—why we went and my dermatologist is there
and I needed to talk with him. Michael Berman, M.D.
Sloan sleep on those compliments —anyhow I thought
it was inspiring if nothing else –we need that stuff!!!
my best to you Sloan –Donna say Hi also,,
( keep up your GOOD work)

I replied:

Hi, Jerry, Donna – Thanks, Michael Berman took some moles and growths off my hide a few months a back, my first visit to his office, no waiting around, come back later, come back few more times. We had a nice conversation during the procedures. No aftercare needed. Reasonable fee. Was darn glad to meet him.

The ACLU has done really important cases over the years, they remind me in some ways of Ralph Nader, but they focus on US Constitution rights. I had hoped the local chapter would be interested in Hatman’s case, he was charged with living in his vehicle, which under a KW city ordinance is a crime. He went to a couple of their meetings, as I recall his account, there seemed to be no interest. His van was all the home he could afford, and the city made him a criminal for living in it. I told Hatman that seemed to me like a violation of his Constitutional rights. Alas, Hatman did not make that argument to Judge Wayne Miller, after twice telling me he would make that argument.

The ACLU brought the Pottinger case, which stopped Miami from using its police to try to drive homeless people out of the Miami area, by arresting them for sleeping outside, cooking, camping, relieving themselves outside. I suppose people who live in their vehicles being criminalized are not as important as people living outside being criminalized? The Pottinger case is the only thing that holds the KWPD in check, because the same Federal Court which has jurisdiction over Miami has jurisdiction over Key West. But only barely in check, and sometimes not even barely, as Charles Eimers discovered last Thanksgiving Day, after being suspected by KWPD officers of being homeless. [Eimers died shortly thereafter in KWPD’s care.]

I felt Hatman’s case was a great case for the ACLU, because there are people living in their vehicles all over the Keys, Florida and America. It could have been landmark case. I imagine I’d have talked about that at the censorship meeting, which maybe is why I ended up doing something else; sometimes I’m probably better off not being somewhere because of what’s likely to happen if I am there.

I have conflict next Tuesday night, a special city commission on the new city noise ordinance, and Last Stand’s water quality conference at the Harvey Government Center. In some ways, down here in the Keys, Last Stand has behaved like the ACLU in its hey day. Probably back when Elliot Baron was heading up Last Stand, and perhaps with other heads. Al Sullivan struck me as pretty gritty when that was needed.

Alas, Last Stand did not invite Brian LaPointe, PhD, to the water quality conference, which struck me, when I heard of it, as being like a Pentecostal church not inviting Jesus to its weekend revival. Nobody seems to care for Brian’s “theory” that what killed the reef was nitrogen run off from Big Sugar and other south Florida farm combines and lawns and golf courses. That theory is bad for big business. Better theories for big business abound.

So, if I had to hazard a wild ass guess, I’d guess I will be at the special city commission meeting next Tuesday.

Salute 2Salute

The night before is Hometown! PAC’s Call to Candidates filed and thinking about filing, at Salute, happy hour and food nibbles starts at 5:30, the candidate parade starts at 6 p.m. A heap of offices up for grabs this year; it might be a bit long and tiring for candidates and the audience. I don’t yet have any spectacular demonstration in the works; but it’s still a few days off; maybe the angels will come up with something memorable. They’ll have to go some to match Aphrodite showing up at Hometown!’s 2009 Call to Candidates, topless, shouting, “Nude beaches for Key West! Sloan for Mayor!”


Stopped the show, and new to politics candidate Craig Cates in the middle of his remarks. What timing.

When Aphrodite came back around on her bicycle, with her halter top back on, a number of prominent men about town and the Keys made a bee line out to the pathway between Salute and the beach to make her greater acquaintance and slobber and drool. She played them like fiddles, then rode off into the sunset leaving them writhing in various imaginable and unimaginable agonies.

Mark Howell got a photo of her topless, on her bicycle, on the pathway, when she stopped the show. It ran front page in the Citizen the next day. I still have a copy of that Citizen photo somewhere. They blamed me for it. But, believe it or not, it was her idea. I swan, no joke, it was her idea. And, I had thought she had decided not to do it, and then, voila!


Jerry replied:

Sloan: there is a profound lack of empathy
that I have never seen so prevalent
in our society and it does not seem to
be improving. Jerry

I replied:

Hmmm, maybe the angels should consider making every person an empath. What a rich experience. What other people feel, empaths feel, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly; the joy, the pain; the ecstasy, the depression.

I have a woman friend in north Georgia who is an empath. She picks up stuff in other people all the time. She is disabled because of it.

I pick up all sorts of stuff in situations I engage; it goes right into my body, especially into my digestive track and liver; sometimes into my lungs; sometimes it has broken out as MRSA; sometimes it has broken out as sensing madness; sometimes it has come through as raw Evil. It lays me low until it is worked out inside of me. It happens every day, some days are heavier than others. Some days are super heavy.

Put something like what my friend experiences, or what I experience, on all people, and this species would be really different. It would take a while for people to figure out it was a supernatural intervention. They would have to discover that, if it was not straight out told to them by angels, by trying everything under the sun, moon and stars to make it go away, and when it didn’t go away, they would come to know it was imposed on them and it was beyond their control. That’s how I figured it out.

Move that sideways, and they all also feel how Mother Nature and her vegetation and creatures feel. The ancients were in tune with the environment, they felt it. Who evolved, and who devolved?

Perhaps that would be a nice Easter present, a species of empaths – a hell of a Second Coming that would be!

Am reminded of my mother often saying when she was near her wits end with me, “Only a mother could love it!”


Mother Nature enlargedqueen conch

Mother Nature and wild queen conch

Moving laterally,

the beatings will continue

as reported recently at www.goodmorningkeywest.com recently, rummaging into Key West the Newspaper founder Dennis Reeves Cooper’s

Dennis CooperCooper

June 2001 arrest for writing about a KWPD Internal Affairs investigation, which he had initiated by filing a complaint against a KWPD officer, turned up a warrant for Dennis’ arrest had been signed by local Circuit Judge Wayne Miller,

Judge MillerJudge Miller

and while Dennis and other newspapers and media, local and national, had beaten up KWPD Police Chief Gordon “Buz” Dillon for ordering Cooper arrested, which eventually led to Dillon being dismissed by Key West City Manager Julio Avael, Judge Miller was left alone by Cooper and the local and national media.

That struck me as really odd, because, as was previously reported, the arrest warrant presented to Judge Miller was filled out in some detail, and, if he read it before signing it, he knew exactly what was in play: that the defendant was a journalist, whose complaint against a KWPD officer had caused the Internal Affairs investigation. Yet, Judge Miller signed the warrant, which was necessary for Cooper to be arrested.

The other great mystery in the case was WHY Judge Miller got clean away? The anonymous little birdie, who put me onto this situation a few days ago, said Cooper told in a bar what had happened to let Judge Miller skate: to wit, Judge Miller had gone to Cooper and they had come to an agreement that Cooper would not go after Judge Miller.

If true, that does not explain why the Citizen, the Keynoter, US 1 Radio News and the national news media did not go after Judge Miller. Did they not look at the case file and see who had signed the arrest warrant? Perhaps that explains it. Perhaps they figured Chief Dillon had an officer pick up Cooper and take him to jail, where, pursuant to what Judge Miller had written on the warrant, “ROR”, Cooper was released on his own recognizance. However, the warrant called for Cooper to be brought before Judge Miller.

I think both Dennis Reeves Cooper and Judge Wayne Miller have a heap of explaining to do to the people of Key West.

I was not in Key West when that all went down, nor for some time afterward was I there. Perhaps like many people, I had thought KW police had arrested Cooper pursuant to Chief Dillon’s orders. Even so, why did the angels take so long to bring this situation to my attention?

Devil Woman 1

Hmmm, a diabolical thought comes to me: the angels wanted me to break the story because they didn’t figure anyone else would do it. And, the angels wanted me to break the story because I used to practice law and would be open to looking in a court file for the warrant. And, the angels waited until after something not so pretty involving Judge Miller happened, in which I became involved. Judge Miller presided over Hatman’s van-dweller prosecution.

I wrote to the anonymous little birdie yesterday:


“By the way, I sat through two Hatman court hearings before Judge Miller, the second was the trial. I was troubled by some of Judge Miller’s rulings; and I wondered why he himself didn’t ask the two police officers about the bucket in Hatman’s van, which smelled like human feces? Like, where was the bucket, why didn’t they take it into evidence? Why was it not put into evidence during the trial? Why was there no mention of the bucket in their incident reports? Nor in the video they made of the event?

“And, I later was troubled by Judge Miller saying Hatman was not indigent, because he owned several vehicles, so he could not get an attorney appointed for an appeal de novo to the Circuit Court where Hatman could get a jury trial. Hatman told me that those were vehicles Hatman had owned but had disposed of some time past, but the records had not been changed with vehicle registration department. Hatman said he jumped though lots hoops to get that straightened out, and still Miller would not adjudicate him indigent. Hatman told me that Judge Miller agreed with Assistant City Attorney Ronald Ramisgh, that since Hatman had not been given jail time, that was good enough and he didn’t deserve an appeal, or a court-appointed lawyer. In several posts I have written that I think Ronald Ramsingh should be disbarred and put in prison over stuff he did as the Tree Commission’s lawyer.

“The way Ramsingh tried Hatman’s case left me wondering if Ramsingh had even graduated from law school? He didn’t seem to know how to examine witnesses on direct examination, get them to say what happened within the rules of direct examination. It was Ramsingh telling his witnesses what happened, and then asking them if it had happened – leading questions, and even worse. Hatman called Ramsingh on it a few times, but Ramsingh kept doing it. I am not convinced it was not Ramsingh who put the two officers up to testifying there was a bucket which smelled like feces. That was important: the anti-vehicle lodging ordinance was passed because people living in vehicles were a health threat and a tourist threat – that’s in the ordinance’s legislative history and also in the ordinance.

“Feces in a bucket was devastating testimony. Devastating. And it took Hatman totally by surprise. He never challenged it. Did not testify. He put on no defense. I was beside myself. After Hatman rested his case, Judge Miller did not render a decision at trial, said he would do so later in written order. As I recall, Judge Miller ran with feces in a bucket in his written order, finding Hatman guilty. In today’s post at www.morningkeywest.com is an email from Hatman saying he filed a formal complaint against Judge Miller with the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission. Also an email from Hatman about the Dillon-Cooper case. Hatman said he was the person about whom Cooper had filed the complaint against a KW police officer, Al Flowers, which ended up getting Cooper arrested. It’s all laced together in bizarre ways perhaps typical of Key West.”


Maybe at Hometown! PAC’s Call to Candidates next Monday evening, I will be shot dead while explaining to an expectant audience that I don’t have an Aphrodite encore up my sleeve. Given what all kind of fun stuff the angels have me engage and write about it, that really ain’t an all that far-fetched Key West possibility. Maybe Dennis Reeves Cooper could write the obit and Judge Miller could preside over the prosecution of the shooter, if the KWPD managed to catch him, or her. But then, maybe it would be ruled justifiable homicide: he used to be homeless and said angels told him what to do and got what was coming to him.

Sloan at HH 2

moi having breakfast at campaign headquarters, Harpoon Harry’s

Harpoon Harry's

Harpoon Harry's 2

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West



psychiatrist interviews

By the time I saw this reply from Jerry Weinstock to my last email to him, this post was published and emailed to about 200 email contacts:

Sloan: to be explicit, and succinctly detailed -not any
excoriated empathy –the compassionate,
sensitive, caring, perceptive brand of empathic
emotion—–helping people when one is able.
getting rare –campaign on something
resembling that –some trace—Jerry

past tense: excoriated; past participle: excoriated
censure or criticize severely.
“the papers that had been excoriating him were now lauding him”

I agree, helping people when one is able is a good thing; doing no harm to others also is a good thing; more of both are needed. Taking Jerry’s cue, maybe the angels want me to be kinder, gentler, nicer. Lots of people know that side of me. Lots of people know the other side of me. For many years now, I have tried to persuade Key West to be kinder, gentler, nicer to homeless people, and also to Mother Nature. I have tried many ways of persuasion. So far, it looks to me like all my efforts went for naught. A change like that I think is not possible without a fundamental change in society. That was the change Jesus was after in his day. Not meaning to be a spoil sport, but if he did not bring off that change, how can it happen without a supernatural intervention into this species, which leaves them feeling everything they do and say to another person and to Mother Nature?


About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com. Hatched and raised there, eventually I ran away from home. Here's a short list: Born 1942; male; spoken for; accused of all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable things, perhaps some true. Live on Key West of Weird asteroid. Publish something most days at goodmorningkeywest.com, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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