Three Cheers for the Grand Rapids Mayor


Grand Rapids may be known as the epicenter of the religious right — and it is — but the current mayor certainly doesn’t fit that description. Mayor George Heartwell spoke at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser recently and said some things that sparked major controversy in the largely conservative area:

Speaking at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to a crowd of about 470 people – 85 to 90 percent of whom were female – Heartwell credited Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan with giving more than 6,000 Grand Rapids women access to health care and 8,300 coming-of-age teenagers information and tools to prevent pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases last year.

“What’s not to love about that?” said Heartwell, a former Planned Parenthood board chairman. “Yet every year the forces of darkness seek to deprive women” of the health care and reproductive education they get through Planned Parenthood.

“Ultraconservative political forces in league with ultraconservative religious forces have mounted a frontal assault against Planned Parenthood. This is a time like no other to rally behind Planned Parenthood. It’s time for us to fill their treasury.”

Heartwell said the “vulnerable” women and youth served by Planned Parenthood are “demonized by legislators and talk show hosts,” yet “they are our sisters and daughters and mothers and they deserve our best.”

Bravo, Mr. Heartwell. I’m sad to see he’s being criticized for this by Rick Tormala, who I know. Rick used to have a show on the same radio station that my show is on and we had several conversations over the years at the studio. He’s a former city commissioner in Grand Rapids and ran against Heartwell.

Rick Tormala, a former Grand Rapids city commissioner who unsuccessfully challenged Heartwell in a 2007 mayoral campaign, has sent the city clerk a letter that chides Heartwell as “Grand Pooh-Bah of Planned Parenthood” and mayor of “the Municipality of Moral Relativism.” At a Planned Parenthood fundraiser last week, remarks by Heartwell, an ordained minister, communicate that “virtue is a joke and vice is cool,” Tormala wrote.

“Patch potholes instead of crying about the need for condoms,” he wrote. “What kind of minister refers to people and religious institutions with legitimate concerns about contraception and abortion as ‘the forces of darkness?’

“Demonizing people who disagree with you is the kind of divisive and poisonous rhetoric that divides and polarizes a community. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

No Rick, you should. Heartwell is right. The attacks on Planned Parenthood are appalling and dishonest and the mayor is absolutely right to stand up for the organization and for womens’ rights.

Comments

  1. says

    Patch potholes instead of crying about the need for condoms…

    Same admonistion back to Tormala: patch potholes instead of demonizing women.

  2. d cwilson says

    “Demonizing people who disagree with you is the kind of divisive and poisonous rhetoric that divides and polarizes a community. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

    So should the guy who goes around calling people who disagree with him names like “Minister of Moral Relativism” and the “Grand Pooh-Bah of Planned Parenthood”.

    The lack of self-awareness on the right never ceases to amaze me.

  3. d cwilson says

    Patch potholes instead of crying about the need for condoms…

    Is “patch potholes” the new euphemism for abstinence only?

  4. Brownian says

    Demonizing people

    To borrow a sentiment expressed by the right: you don’t want to be demonised? Don’t be a demon.

  5. dan4 says

    A minister demonizes people with whom he has disagreements. In equally surprising and shocking news, vegetarians don’t eat meat and water is wet.

  6. sqlrob says

    “What kind of minister refers to people and religious institutions with legitimate concerns about contraception and abortion as ‘the forces of darkness?’

    I don’t know of anyone who would do that. Can you point to an example of such an organization? Emphasis on the LEGITIMATE.

    Yeah, thought so.

  7. peterh says

    Maybe Grand Rapids potholes are of a very venereal sort wherein one might contract an STD.

  8. twincats says

    “Demonizing people who disagree with you is the kind of divisive and poisonous rhetoric that divides and polarizes a community. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

    I SnOL’d.* Guess it only counts if you’re demonizing men, then.
    Cuz it’s totes okay to demonize those jezebels who want to have teh sexie times without having baybees n’ ess tee dees and stuff.

    *snorted out loud

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    “What kind of minister refers to people and religious institutions with legitimate concerns about contraception and abortion as ‘the forces of darkness?’

    One who recognizes that concern about other people’s contraception and abortions is not legitimate.

  10. says

    tiwncats @8: I SnOL’d.* Guess it only counts if you’re demonizing men, then.

    Ah, I see you picked up on the most important truth of all: “people” = “men.” Women are property with no ability to self-govern, after all.

  11. carolw says

    I offer a round of internet applause to Mayor Hartwell. Is there contact information were we could send him a “well done, sir”?

  12. raven says

    Truly amazing to see a politician with a backbone.

    I can about guarantee that his hate mail just went up a thousandfold or so. Much of it written in the fundie xian dialect of illiterese.

  13. raven says

    “What kind of minister refers to people and religious institutions with legitimate concerns about contraception and abortion as ‘the forces of darkness?’

    One who recognizes that concern about other people’s contraception and abortions is not legitimate.

    QFT.

    Hey Rick Tormala, take your Dark Ages Oogedy Boogedy religion and shove it!!!

    What I/we do with and about family planning is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS KOOK.

    Go lock your wife and daughters in a closet or whatever you do for fun.

  14. says

    Off topic but of interest.

    The US DoJ sent an official letter to the city of Baltimore in support of the right for citizens to record to police in pubic.

    In a surprising letter (PDF) sent on Monday to attorneys for the Baltimore Police Department, the Justice Department also strongly asserted that officers who seize and destroy such recordings without a warrant or without due process are in strict violation of the individual’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

    More here: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/05/justice-dept-defends-publics-constitutional-right-to-record-cops/

  15. Draken says

    Ultraconservative political forces in league with ultraconservative religious forces

    This Venn diagram forms an almost-perfect circle.

    But do I understand that Heartwell does not plan on being re-elected?

  16. leni says

    The attacks on Planned Parenthood are appalling and dishonest and the mayor is absolutely right to stand up for the organization and for womens’ rights.

    Just a reminder- contraception is about men’s rights too. Most of them want access to contraception too, no?

    It’s a women’s issue because we have the children, obviously, but it’s a men’s issue because they are legally and morally responsible too. They might not have the final say, but they still have as much to gain. Or lose.

    Really, it’s a basic human rights issue.

  17. christophburschka says

    people and religious institutions with legitimate concerns about contraception and abortion

    What? Where?

    Nice that someone in authority finally stands up to these clowns. Hope he gets reelected next term.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    Paul Durrant @ # 18 – well, yah, whaddyathink? The real forces of darkness take it poorly when compared to a bunch of undereducated sexually neurotic busybodies.

  19. lofgren says

    Just a reminder- contraception is about men’s rights too. Most of them want access to contraception too, no?

    Nah, because the same people who want to take away our access to contraception are also opposed to this idea:

    it’s a men’s issue because they are legally and morally responsible too

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