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JOP Keith Bardwell Denies Racism Claim, His Black Friends Use His Potty

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Just when you start to believe this country has made a major victory and positive steps forward against racism, some backwoods Louisiana idiot has to drag us three steps back.

The backward steps occurred when Justice of the Peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward, Keith Bardwell, refused to marry interracial couple, Beth Humphrey, 30, and Terence McKay, 32, of Hammond, Louisiana because he is against mixing his crayons; especially when doing so produces those imperfect Blue-Greens and Orange-Reds.  Solid colors only, please, in JOP Bardwell's color box.

When Beth Humphrey placed the call to setup the marriage, on October 6, Bardwell's wife inquired as to whether the couple was interracial (apparently this is asked of all prospective couples who call for Bardwell's services).  When Beth confirmed that they were, Bardwell's wife informed Ms. Humphrey that her husband did not officiate interracial marriages.  She suggested, instead, that the couple contact JOP Terri Crosby of Tickfaw, Louisiana, who apparently has no problem letting two people in love practice their legal right as Americans to join in holy matrimony.  Humphrey did, but - thankfully - has decided not to let the matter end there.

Bardwell insists he is not a racist, he just doesn't "believe in mixing the races that way".  Right.

In his tenure as JOP, Bardwell has turned down at least four other interracial couples, according to his own statements and his own skewed view that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  He reports that he asks all couples that call for his services if they are mixed.  If they are, he refuses to marry them.

"If I did an interracial marriage for one couple, I must do the same for all.  I try to treat everyone equally."

His concern, he says, is for the children that may come from such a coupling.  He explains that neither white or black society readily accepts mixed children.  He feels the children are "innocent" and should not suffer for the decision of their parents to procreate.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage.  I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

Yet, Bardwell continues to press that he is "not racist".  In attempting to distance himself from that association he counters:

"I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

Unfortunately, Mr. Bardwell does not understand that his actions are racist, regardless of whether his "piles of black friends" are allowed to go doody in his personal potty.

Beth Humphrey was, naturally, appalled at Mr. Bardwell's decision to not officiate their marriage.

I was just really shocked, because he's an elected official.  We would like him to resign.  He doesn't believe he's being racist, but it is racist."

Humphrey is right, and others agree with her.  She and her soon-to-be husband intend to consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.  They have plenty of folks on their side, including Louisiana ACLU Executive Director, Marjorie R. Esman, who called Bardwell's decision "tragic and illegal", as well as American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann, who called the act "astonishing and disappointing".  Both want to see Bardwell taken to task for his decision, and each refer to the 1963 Supreme Court case in Loving vs. Virginia that ruled that the "government cannot prohibit marriages simply because of the race of the spouses."

The non-racist label Bardwell clings to reveals even more cracks as he digs himself deeper by trying to further explain his decision.  He obviously has misgivings about interracial couples, beyond his stated concerns for the children of said couple.  He claims to find it "rather confusing" that - from his experience and "99% of the time" - interracial couples consist of a black man and white woman.  Beth Humphreys is white and her fiance is black.  What that has to do with anything, and why Bardwell finds it to be "confusing" are just further proof of his inherent, and perhaps even subconscious, racism.

He goes on to claim that interracial marriages, more often than not, "do not last long".  Usually, in such cases and according to Bardwell (based on, he says, conversations with blacks and whites and seeing interracial couples himself), the grandparents or another relative end up being the ones to raise the children.

"Yet, the children are innocent. They had nothing to do with that.  I don't do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves.  In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer."

I don't have any handy statistics to prove there is or is not any merit to Bardwell's statements, but I would believe that divorcing couples or children that end up being raised by a relative other than their parents is just as common - if not more - in same-race marriages as in mixed-race ones.  Bardwell claims his "experience" comes from talks with both blacks and whites and his own observations.  Neither, however, gives him legal or moral grounds to deny couples of mixed race the right to be wed.

He feels he is safe because he is not telling Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay they cannot marry; he is just saying he won't be the one to do it.  However, does he, as a Justice of the Peace, have such power?  Just as pharmacists have gotten in hot water for refusing to fill birth control prescriptions based on their religious convictions, does a JOP have the right to arbitrarily choose who he doles out the powers of his job to?

The ACLU, naturally, says "no".  They have forwarded a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee - who oversees the state justice of the peace - to investigate Bardwell.  Their recommendation was "the most severe sanctions available" as they believe that "such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice."

Patricia Morris, chapter president of the Tangipahoa NAACP, said,

"He's an elected public official and one of his duties is to marry people. He doesn't have the right to say he doesn't believe in it."

Bardwell seems unruffled.  He claims that, as a JOP, he is "not required to conduct a marriage ceremony and is at liberty to recuse myself from a marriage or anything else."  However, he adds that the state attorney general warned him that he would "eventually" be taken to task for his position on interracial marriages and refusal to perform them.

"I told him if I do, I’ll resign.  I have rights too. I’m not obligated to do that just because I'm a justice of the peace.

However, Schwartzmann countered his assumption.

"He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it."

With all the heat now coming down on him, he may have no choice but to resign, or be nixed from his post.  Currently, his appointment comes to an end on Dec. 31, 2014 and this is supposed to be his last term.

The mind-boggling aspect of the whole thing is Bardwell's continued assertion that he is "not racist" and "treats everyone equally", despite the obvious fact that he does not.  Based on his "piles and piles of black friends" who are allowed to use his bathroom, he feels he is somehow absolved from being labeled a racist even if he thinks you shouldn't be "mixing the races that way" and clings to some ridiculous and unsubstantiated view that interracial couples often divorce and leave relatives to care for their offspring.  He obviously has a prejudice against mixed couples and mixed children.  He seems to forget that our current President is of mixed heritage, and it certainly doesn't seem to have caused any problems for him as a child or, later, as an adult.

I believe I could swallow and digest the entire thing more easily if Bardwell just admitted he was, indeed, racist or, at least, held some racist viewpoints.  It's not as if, sadly, here in the South that isn't common enough.  Yet he clings to the idea that he is not at all, not one bit, racist - yet feels justified denying a couple in love the right to be married because of his own asserted prejudices.  The hypocrisy is enough to make your head spin!

Somehow, such racism is even more insidious than the out-and-out obvious kind.  Bardwell feels he treats everyone "equally" - yet turns right around and refuses to marry couples that are mixed.  What is "equal" about that, I ask you?  Just because he allows his gaggle of black pals to poop in his house, he feels no one can label him a "racist".  Yet denying rights to people based on their color of skin, is racist.  There are no in-betweens here; bathroom use or not.

It is sad to know such things are still going on in 2009, but not surprising - not if you live here in southern Louisiana, to be sure.  I am very happy that Beth and Terence are pursing this and bringing light to Bardwell's unfair treatment of them and the other mixed couples he has denied to perform marriage for.  Someone must take a stand; someone must stand up and say, "This is not right!" and move forward to fix it.  With the local chapters of NAACP and ACLU behind them, I believe that positive change will come about here.  Also on their side is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has also called for an investigation and sanctions against JOP Bardwell:

"This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law. ... Disciplinary action should be taken immediately -- including the revoking of his license."

Personally, I intend to write a letter to JOP Bardwell myself, expressing my concerns and dismay over his poor choices and attempting to point out - politely, I promise! - his blatant hypocrisy and unfair treatment of mixed couples.  It saddens me to think such ignorance is still so prevalent in those that are appointed or elected to work for the people and represent the basic foundation of this country - freedom and equality for all.

For more on this, and credit to the articles I referenced when writing this piece, you may check out the following:

Racism or Ignorance – Neither Are Worth Getting Paid For

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

When Keith Slater - a 22 year-old black Missouri State University student - got home after returning a pair of shoes to a Journeys store in Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas, he was rather appalled when he happened to take a glance at the receipt issued to him by the store.

Next to the title Cust, for "Customer", was plainly printed "Dumb Nigger."

In Keith's words, from the ABC News article on his experience:

"Then I was like, 'Nah, no way. It can't say that. I was shocked, 'cause I didn't do anything for that to happen."

Not that there is anything Keith could or should have done for such a thing "to happen", it appeared to be - when he and his mother returned to the store the next day and confronted the same cashier - a mistake...sort of.

Apparently a recently-fired employee had keyed the racist term into the computer and accorded it the same keystroke the clerk had to use when issuing his receipt.  That the clerk even knew this raises a few questions...

  1. If the store knew it was in there, why hadn't the epithet been removed?
  2. If the clerk herself knew it was on there, why didn't she either change the keystroke or - if that wasn't possible - black-out the epithet with a black marker?
  3. Hadn't anyone else noticed this before now on their receipt, or had they just decided not to make a national issue out of it?

The latter may be more to the point than the rest, considering Keith's mother - Linda Slater - a self-described "Christian" who "doesn't believe in making a huge scene or going to court" is wondering how (and when) her son may get some type of "compensation" because he was "hurt."  And here we go.

"I could see that my son was hurt," she said. "He just kind of stood there and hung his head down."

If it was an already-programmed keystroke error then I really don't see why he would be so hurt considering the epithet would have printed on anyone's receipt requiring the same keystroke; be they black, white, pink, or purple.  Regardless, Journeys assured the family the employee who had entered the racist remark into the system had been previously fired and they apologized profusely for the very unfortunate mistake.

Still.  Of course.  Mrs. Slater wants to get paid.

I'm not saying what happened is right.  And while I'll readily admit that had I gotten a receipt from a store that had "Dumb Cracker" typed behind Customer, I'd of laughed my ass off before I would have gotten angry much less "hurt", I do realize this term is much more racially-charged and black people a bit more sensitive about it.  Still.  No one - not a single person - deserves to get money because of what someone else - ignorant though they may be - typed into a computer system weeks beforehand.

In all reality, what should have been done already was.  Said ignoramus employee was fired and Journeys apologized to the family.  Why the term had not been previously removed (oh say, around the time the person who entered it was canned) is anyone's guess.  Yet still, the family got an apology and that should be enough.  Hey, I'll be generous; give the kid a store credit.  End of story.

Please let it be the end of the story.  Hopefully, Mrs. Slater - the "Christian who does not believe in going to court" - will not sue for the ever-so-clichéd "pain and suffering" and/or "emotional damages".  Was Keith Slater - who claims never to have been called a "nigger" in his life - so horribly marked by this event that he has suffered irreparable emotional damages that equate actual pain and acute suffering?  I highly doubt so.  Let us hope that Keith's skin isn't as thin as his mother's purse is gapingly open.

Sure - I realize it was an unpleasant experience for the poor kid.  It sucked and he's likely not happy about it and that is understandable.  Being slapped in the face with the realization that racism is still alive and thriving in this country at times can't be a happy day for anyone - regardless of their skin color.  Hell, we down here in the South - black and white - got slapped with that nugget of knowledge almost as soon as we popped out of the womb; by time we're 22 it's pretty much old news.

Yet for an (obviously sheltered) young black man in middle America, I am sure it was a sobering, eye-opening, and depressing day.  Should he get big bucks for said day?  Fuck no!  What he could do is get involved in something positive for change in race relations; there's lots of affirmative ways he could turn this situation around and use his new perspective for good, fuzzy warm feelings in his life.  Seriously.  THAT would be the noble thing to do.  Hanging your head and crying for money is not - I don't give two shits what color your skin is.  At least that's this dumb cracker's two cents on the issue.

<--Addendum-->

After writing this, I stumbled upon another article on the whole issue over at a local Kansas news site, KMBC-TV.  It gave a slightly altered version from the ABC News article (that the clerk who entered the keystroke on the computer might have been the one who created it - not really clear either way) and a secondary piece about a local community activist - Alonzo Washington - who held a news conference encouraging people to "boycott Journeys".  As if this wasn't enough, Mr. Washington and his family intend to, also, return some shirts they purchased from the store a few days earlier.

Way to stick it to The Man, Alonzo.

How is boycotting the store - which fired the employee, eradicated the epithet, and apologized to the family but had nothing at all to actually do with the incident itself - going to solve or prove anything?  The apology, Washington ascertains, was "not enough".

Let me guess what would be?  A fat check?

Money doesn't solve everything, and the company that owns this particular Journeys (there are over 800 stores nationwide) paying out a huge sum for what one backwoods retard of an employee did at one store that one person noticed seems fairly pointless in my eyes.  How is that helping race relations?

If the Washingtons are so upset by what happened, perhaps their news conference should have focused on encouraging the community in positive ways to combat racial tensions when they appear, or rather educating their youth on the tenets of equality regardless of skin color.  Just a couple of thoughts.  Suing or asking for money just seems rather defeatist.

I get so frustrated seeing people take pointless, and often backwards, approaches when they see something wrong or negative that they are opposed to.  Instead of using these instances and opportunities to help and teach others to grow in more positive ways, or in working ever more diligently for equal rights, they whine and and kick their feet; accomplishing nothing for anyone nor for their issue.  Instead of seeing such instances as an opportunity to grow and tackle the problem, they see it as an unjustified personal attack and lash back out with the same sort of vicissitude.

It is, to borrow from Faulkner, "a tale, Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."

There Is No “Freedom To Not Get Your Feelings Hurt”

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

Duane "Dog" Chapman, star of Dog the Bounty Hunter, is the latest person to have their lives ruined in the over-sensitive, over-blown mayhem of political correctness that has been sweeping this nation in the past few years. It's a problem that is becoming, in my personal opinion, one that threatens the very foundations of American ideals.

Is it right to insult or put down others' based on race or religion? No, of course not. Yet, is it, then, permissible to have a person's entire career shattered and their lives ruined because they made a p.c. faux pas? According to our great Constitution - no.

Freedom of Speech means just that - the freedom to say what you like - regardless of whether it's insulting, stupid, ignorant, or even a huge blunder on your part - without the fear or threat of persecution. The infamous quote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" sums up the idea of freedom of speech rather efficiently.

There is not a clause anywhere in our first amendment, that I'm aware of, that adds the right to not be offended. In fact, the very idea of freedom of speech is that you are protected from those who are offended by your words - with the indelible authority of the Constitution of the United States of America; which, last I checked, is the rule of this land in which we live.

These days, however, anyone who utters a word or phrase that hurts any person, group, or organization's wittle feelings is - metaphorically - tied to the stake and burned; their lives, careers, and/or public persona's forever tarnished and essentially annihilated. Regardless of their past or any good works, noble deeds, or contributions to mankind the person has previously performed they are shunned and demonized by society - to the point of being nearly, and sometimes definitely, forever ruined.

How anyone can state this is a nation that believes in freedom of speech, in light of this, is a wonder to me.

Was Duane Chapman wrong with the statements he made? Yes. Has he sincerely apologized and - in light of his past work and help of others of all skin colors - proven his innocence and admitted his ignorance? Yes. Should his show be canceled and his life ruined because he made ignorant and angry statements for which he is truthfully sorry and repentant? No. Hell no. Whether we (or even he, at this point) agrees with what he said, the truth of the matter is, he had a RIGHT to say it as an American. He also has a right to apologize and make amends for his mistake. No one, however, has the right to persecute him for words he has spoken; however ignorant, hurtful, or wrong they were to speak. The man made a mistake, which we all do and which he has owned up to in a very mature, dignified, and respectful way. Now let it go.

James Watson was a world-renowned scientist and a Nobel Peace prize winner for his work in helping solve the riddles of DNA. This man has made contributions to our world and humanity that are countless, and has lived his life exploring science to make ours better. Yet, James Watson will now not be remembered for his years of dedication to science, his Nobel Peace prize, or for his advancements in the field of DNA. He will be remembered for being forced to retire - in shame - because he made statements that people found "racist" and "offensive". Whether what he said was wrong or right - whether you agree or disagree - he had a right to say it and a right to not be persecuted for it. Do I agree with Dr. Watson's assessment about the intelligence of black people? No. Do I care that he said it? No, I do not; it's his opinion and his business and I do not have to agree with it - nor does anyone else. If he had said that white people were the less intelligent race, would I have cared? No, I would not. Someone else's opinion is not going to sway me from what I know to be true, and I'm not going to let someone else's ignorant opinion affect me. Do I think that Dr. Watson's entire career should have come to a grinding, shameful halt because of his statements? Absolutely not. A man's life and good works are now in tatters because some people got their panties in a wad over statements he made. That is absolutely ridiculous and childish and if things continue on this way for much longer, no one is going to be able to say anything without fear or serious persecution and repercussion.

No one on this Earth is above being talked about, laughed at, discussed, or even made fun of. Not black people, not white people, not yellow or red people. Is it wrong that some talk about others based upon the color of their skin? I don't agree with it, but I also don't think it's such a horrible travesty that it should ruin lives and destroy careers. We are creating a society that condemns and silences individual thought and persecutes those that do not live up to, or go by, the status quo. Everyone treads so lightly afraid to hurt someone's feelings or step on any toes. It's patently ridiculous.

The entire world needs to lighten up and just let others' be. Do what you do, do what you like, and ignore the rest. If something someone says hurts your feelings, by all means, speak out about it, get your voice heard - but don't ruin the other person in the process. How can lively debate exist in this atmosphere? How can anyone say anything and not fear the repercussions of their thoughts or words? The thin skin covering America - and indeed the world - needs to thicken and the entire political correctness bull needs to go right back out the window; it has served nothing and no one.

In other words, people, get over it and move on. There are much bigger issues in the world to be worried about than a careless word being thrown around that hurts individuals' feelings.