Monday, July 10, 2006

How far we have not come

A couple of weeks ago, PZ Myers brought to our attention a chilling story of anti-atheism bigotry in Oklahoma. Now, he has posted a first person account by the victim of the ordeal, Chuck Smalkowski. Here's a small excerpt to give you an idea of what his family went through:
The whole family was under constant stress. Police trying to get search warrants to the property by having ex-employees file false statements. Other cops trying to hire ex-cons to beat me up. The whole town knows of it! The Sheriff trying to have my bond pulled by the bail bondsman when there was no legal way to do it. My kids have been out of school since November. Principal's son saying should he get a gun when he sees my daughter and my son. DA has yet to reply to our concerns. The Department of Human Services comes to my place saying they received a complaint that I starve my kids. It was even obvious to them the charge was bogus.

We have become very good at using back roads. The police follow us around. Traffic tickets that when challenged were dropped in court. Not to mention the stares and whispers, the betrayal from employees, one of my healthy dogs dying. Brush fires starting up upwind.

An FBI agent even said, "You aren't kidding". When it was obvious someone followed us and was watching our meeting out in the middle of nowhere. I was told about a few things. All I can say is that some of the crooks out here now charged with crimes wore badges and guns! But he could not help my family and me. Not without witnesses willing to come forward. One scared witness left the state. The last words she spoke to me were, Chuck I don't want to end up dead in a ditch!

Just what you would expect life to be like out here in the Bible belt!

There's more: a corrupt DA, a lawyer having to remind the jury that atheists do not worship the devil, people praying in court for a conviction, whole thing appears to come straight from a Grisham novel. (One set several decades ago...) Just another Salem indeed!