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Indiana Mayor Throws Out Sikh Pamphlets

This story is so staggeringly idiotic that it makes you wonder how anyone in their right mind, much less an elected official, could possibly have not realized at the time just how asinine it is. Just wait till you read what one Indiana mayor did recently:

Less than one month after of the massacre of Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Mayor Tonya Hoeffel of Garrett, Indiana has further offended the Sikh community. Mayor Hoeffel walked into a local convenience store, observed pamphlets about the Sikh religion on the store counter, and picked them up before throwing them in the trash bin.

When manager and part-owner of the store Kulwinder Singh Nagra asked Mayor Hoeffel why she threw out the informational pamphlets, she replied, “It’s against my beliefs. This is against Christianity.”

Although Mayor Tonya Hoeffel has since apologized, her behavior demands more thoughtful analysis and response.

No, I’m afraid it doesn’t. This one is very, very simple. Hoeffel is a moron and a bigot and she should be thrown out of office immediately. That’s far too inane to merely apologize for.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    Whoa, whoa, whoa!

    Those pamphlets were on display in a privately owned establishment? With permission by the owner?

    And the mayor took it on herself to unilaterally discard them just because she was offended?

    This sort of like the limit of stupidity as insanity approaches infinity.

  2. Captain Mike says

    So, if I walked into Mayor Hoeffel’s office and saw a Bible sitting on her desk and decided to chuck it in the trash, can we assume that she would be fine with that?

    Not that the Bible is actually against my beliefs. I totally believe in books.

  3. imrryr says

    According to surveillance video, Hoeffel went into the store at approximately 12:55 p.m. Aug. 28. She purchased a soft drink, then walked away from the counter. She returned, grabbed the small stack of pamphlets at the counter, carried the pamphlets outside and threw them into the trash.

    The manager of Quickway, Kulwinder Nagra, 38, said he went outside to ask why Hoeffel took all four of the pamphlets that had been in front of the register.

    “She said, ‘It’s against my beliefs,’” Nagra said. “She said, ‘This is against Christianity.’”

    [snip]

    “I read it before,” Hoeffel said of the literature at the store. “I just grabbed what was there. I just decided I didn’t want it.”

    Yeah, when I see a something in a store that I don’t want, I always just throw it away, even though it doesn’t belong to me. That’s why I’m banned from every store on the planet now.

    She sounds like a colossal idiot and a liar.

  4. d cwilson says

    So, she decided that because she didn’t want it, no one else should be allowed to read it either?

    Wow.

  5. says

    Wow, I thought you had to be from IndiTucky to have that virulent a case of the KKKristianist burnin’ stoopit.

    This happened almost three weeks ago. The Mittmoroni/Paulie Wingnuts machine must be REALLLLLLY busy to have not weighed in on this. I mean, I know that if he says it was heinous and that the mayor’s an idiot who has no understanding of what this country is about, well, yes, he’d lose some votes. Otoh, it’s the TOTALLY right thing to do and…oh, wait, I see my error in logic. Nevermind.

  6. ArtK says

    The only ‘thoughtful analysis’ needed here is whether to add a charge of willful destruction of property along with being tossed out of office.



    Ok, I’ve thought about it. Book ‘er, Dano!

    According to this it’s a Class B misdemeanor, but 180 days in the county lockup would be nice.

  7. raven says

    “She said, ‘It’s against my beliefs,’” Nagra said. “She said, ‘This is against Christianity.’”

    Most of the planet is against xianity by her defintion. Xians only make up 28% of the world’s population.

    Most of the USA is against her brand of xianity, which seems to be fundie death cult moron, including all those other Fake xians.

    If mayor Hoeffel is going to toss out all religious literature against her wingnut brand of xianity, it’s going to take millennia.

  8. dingojack says

    Now wait one second gworroll.
    These were pamphlets that were on public display in a convenience store.
    There was a clear expectation that they could be taken gratis and libre.
    So how is it ‘destruction of private property’?
    Dingo
    —–
    PS: the correct response would be to tell the owner ‘I find this offensive as a Christian’ and leave at that.

  9. Michael Heath says

    I googled for a local news site covering this issue to read the comments: http://goo.gl/BlzcT . Not much activity where this is the primary news source in town (according to Wikipedia) and this is their most commented-on article at the present time. An earlier article had only a handful of comments as well, none which supported this mayor.

    Here’s another source with more comments: http://goo.gl/XwwiY . One yahoo is trying to change the subject by claiming Sikhs are by definition bad people.

  10. grumpyoldfart says

    She can’t lose on this one. If she gets away with it she scores a free trip to heaven for protecting baby Jesus, and if she doesn’t get away with it, she can play the martyr for all it’s worth. When you’re a Christian there is no way you can ever be wrong.

  11. timberwoof says

    dingojack, it’s restraint of free press.

    In the late 1908s a San Francisco free newspaper published an edition that featured a photomontage of the chief of police wielding a baton in a sexually suggestive way. The Chief of police and some policemen went all around the city and gathered up as many issues of that [i]free[/i] newspaper as they could and stashed them in his garage, with the intent to prevent this exercise of freedom of the press. Federal marshals investigated; the chief of police got in some hot water over that.

    The intent of the mayor was to infringe on a citizen’s federally guaranteed freedoms of press and religion.

  12. amenhotepstein says

    dingojack@10

    Actually, DJ, she can still be charged with theft, despite the fact that it’s a free pamphlet. There’s a bunch of precedent regarding the theft of free student newspapers. Basically, you can’t take a stack of pamphlets and throw them in the trash because you don’t like their message, even if they’re freely available.

  13. M Groesbeck says

    Michael Heath @ 11–

    You mean turning the whole discussion into whether it’s theologically legitimate for Christians to destroy Sikh pamphlets isn’t A-OK?

    Sounds like a liberal position…

  14. lorn says

    Hey, it could have been worse. Throwing pamphlets in the trash is a minor, nearly insignificant, reaction by a bigot and religious fanatic. In some communities, so far it has mainly been overseas, fundamentalists have been known to fire bomb stores showing magazines with depictions of women’s faces on their cover. Often with the proprietor and patrons still inside.

    Given the volatility and potential for murder and mayhem within the potentially murderous community of religious fundamentalists I think the store got off lightly.

    If only there were some legal means to exclude religious fanatics. Perhaps we are looking at all this from the wrong end. The religious seem immune to philosophical control. And legal persuasion doesn’t seem to phase them. Perhaps what we need here is an engineering solution.

    Just brainstorming here, perhaps if businesses placed depictions of holy figures at the entrance so the patrons would be forced to walk on them. Would a devout Muslim step on Mohammed to get the brace of 40s he needs to get through the day? Would a evangelical Christin step on Jesus to buy soft porn? Would a Catholic step on Mother Mary to buy condoms? It would work as a talisman. Like the thing about vampires not being able to cross water or enter a home without being invited in; there may be some way to keep them out with a purpose-built cattle-crossing that excludes fanatics while allowing traffic by reality-bases people.

    Perhaps penis or vulva shaped door pulls would work.

    Y’all are smart people. I’m sure there are good ideas out there about what form a entrance way designed to exclude religious fanatics might look like.

    The Korean, and other Asian communities, commonly place sculpture and symbols designed to ward off evil spirits at entrances of buildings and community areas. The Jewish community strings ceremonial wires across roads to declare them part of the neighborhood. Why shouldn’t the reality-based and atheist community have to same right.

  15. maddog1129 says

    Once somebody does something like this, is it ever possible to redeem oneself? What could possibly be said or done to express a true change of heart and contrition? IOW, what would an acceptable amends consist of?

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    About 10 years ago, I was doing my laundry in a laundromat when a Jehovah’s Witness came in. She piddled around by the shelf that holds the stray literature, so after she left I went over to see if she had left any copies of The Watchtower. I was incensed to find she had thrown the science-themed magazines I had left there (Discover, Scientific American) in the trash.

  17. rickk says

    There’s something good about this. When some political figure does something that demonstrates the depth of their crazy, they remove themselves from anything resembling mainstream. This is such an extreme act that hopefully it will mean the end for this person’s political career.

  18. brocasbrian says

    I was recently in a facebook discussion about whether strong critiques of religion constituted bigotry. I was arguing that hating someone’s ideas wasn’t the same as hating who they are. It isn’t the same as racism and sexism. I think being against gay marriage is bigotry because I’m convinced that’s who they are.

    I don’t think it’s fair to call what this mayor did bigotry. There are a lot of other pejorative available. Ignorant and hypocritical both come to mind.

  19. coffeehound says

    Undoubtedly this idiot mayor would have been one of the righteously indignant at the government for making oral contraceptives available because, you know the repression of religion by government officials is, like, bad…..and stuff….

  20. pipenta says

    It’s asshattery no matter how you slice it but,

    That might fly if she took one, read it and crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. It was offered for consideration and she had her reaction to it and all and as an anxious Christian, it might have freaked her out. It’s not nice seeing somebody else’s make believe up there, it’s UNNERVING. It might make you stop for a minute and wonder how ridiculous your mythology looks to other people. So I have sympathy for her emotional distress, even if her reasoning has no traction.

    She crossed the line when she discarded the whole blinkin’ stack.

    On the flip side, if I saw pamphlets advertising homeopathy or some such con job in a laundromat or elsewhere, I’d have to struggle with myself to not discard them. And I don’t know if that is right or not. Does my concern for people’s health trump my reservations against censorship? The ideal solution would be to have a stack of my own pamphlets about the quackery. And really, that is what Hoeffel should have done, just plopped down a big old stack of creepy fundy comics beside the Sikh stuff and let the mythologies duke it out on the convenience store countertop marketplace of ideas. You’d think this would have occurred to her. She is, after all, a politician.

    Are there ever contexts in which it is ethical to do this sort of street-corner censorship? A leaflet promoting Prop 8? If you see a poster on a telephone pole advertising a service that you think is a scam, is it okay to take it down? If yes, why? If no, why? I don’t have a rock solid sense of the appropriate broad spectrum response.

    But I am clear on the fact that Hoeffel blundered. Here’s hoping she learns from her mistake and doesn’t simply shore up her ego defense mechanisms. This could be a teaching moment, if only she can open up to it. That gets tricky if she has a lot of defenders drawing the wagons in a circle.

    Even the brightest of lights can fail to learn in situations where their perfectly normal human egos put them on the defensive, when they are subsequently isolated by proponents in an emotional cone of silence.

  21. pipenta says

    shit, I failed to format that correctly and I lost the quote I wanted.

    It’s asshattery no matter how you slice it but,

    “I read it before, Hoeffel said of the literature at the store. I just grabbed what was there. I just decided I didn’t want it.”

    That might fly if she took one, read it and crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. It was offered for consideration and she had her reaction to it and all and as an anxious Christian, it might have freaked her out. It’s not nice seeing somebody else’s make believe up there, it’s UNNERVING. It might make you stop for a minute and wonder how ridiculous your mythology looks to other people. So I have sympathy for her emotional distress, even if her reasoning has no traction.

    She crossed the line when she discarded the whole blinkin’ stack.

    On the flip side, if I saw pamphlets advertising homeopathy or some such con job in a laundromat or elsewhere, I’d have to struggle with myself to not discard them. And I don’t know if that is right or not. Does my concern for people’s health trump my reservations against censorship? The ideal solution would be to have a stack of my own pamphlets about the quackery. And really, that is what Hoeffel should have done, just plopped down a big old stack of creepy fundy comics beside the Sikh stuff and let the mythologies duke it out on the convenience store countertop marketplace of ideas. You’d think this would have occurred to her. She is, after all, a politician.

    Are there ever contexts in which it is ethical to do this sort of street-corner censorship? A leaflet promoting Prop 8? If you see a poster on a telephone pole advertising a service that you think is a scam, is it okay to take it down? If yes, why? If no, why? I don’t have a rock solid sense of the appropriate broad spectrum response.

    But I am clear on the fact that Hoeffel blundered. Here’s hoping she learns from her mistake and doesn’t simply shore up her ego defense mechanisms. This could be a teaching moment, if only she can open up to it. That gets tricky if she has a lot of defenders drawing the wagons in a circle.

    Even the brightest of lights can fail to learn in situations where their perfectly normal human egos put them on the defensive, when they are subsequently isolated by proponents in an emotional cone of silence.

  22. Michael Heath says

    pipenta,

    I think it’s prudent to put yourself in the mayor’s shoes when it comes to your personal moral quandary if the situation was changed a bit and as you describe: from pamphlets put out by an owner/operator to instead and as you describe, pamphlets distributed by who knows who – perhaps the owner/operator, perhaps some group.

    However I don’t find your comparison of you versus the mayor sufficiently analogous for one simple reason. This lady is the mayor of the jurisdiction where she acted, i.e, she is the government. So while you claim she should know better because she’s a politician, I argue that is still too low a bar for her while also somewhat irrelevant given the standard she must instead meet. She shouldn’t restrict speech she finds repugnant in her mayoral jurisdiction because she has a constitutional duty to instead protect speech. We on the other hand have a different set of criteria we should use to determine the morally correct response to freely available material we find objectionable.

  23. brocasbrian says

    It may well fit the dictionary definition. However I still think hating ideas and beliefs is different than hating who someone is. Beliefs, unlike being gay, are actual choices irregardless of social pressure.

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