About half the students who attend the Jewish primary school King David, in Birmingham, England, are Muslims, and in fact, their parents work hard to get them in because they so respect the school’s ethos and its halal-like diet. All students learn Hebrew, recite Jewish prayers, and celebrate Israeli independence, but there is a Muslim prayer room, also, and Muslim teachers are hired for Ramadan. However, confided one parent, the school tries to keep a low profile so as not to inflame the religious rabble-rousers.
Robert “Drew” Stephenson, on trial in Fort Worth, Texas, in January for “torturing” an ex-girlfriend, acknowledged her severe burns but said it wasn’t his fault. He said the two were having sex in a house that had no heat, and to warm himself, he ran the flames of a lantern up and down his arm. According to him, his girlfriend said she wanted to be warmed up with flames, too. He was convicted, and in February, after four other women testified that he had beaten them, was sentenced to life in prison.
THE LAWS OF IRONY
In February, two anti-whaling activists (one from Australia, one from Los Angeles), intending to attack a Japanese whaling ship near Antarctica with a bottle of acid and a smoke bomb, got lost in the fog in their small dinghy and were rescued with the help of several boats, including the whaler. However, as soon as the activists were safe, one thanked the Japanese crew but said, “I guess we’re back on schedule, and we’ll be pursuing you again.” Shortly after that, the activists approached the whaler and tossed the acid onto the deck, injuring two crewmembers.
In January in Austin, Texas, a 45-minute delay occurred between when a nighttime 911 call was made to report a building on fire and the time firefighters arrived. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the delay could have been due to uncertainty about the seriousness of the “fire,” in that the building in question, with smoke spewing from it, was Bert’s Bar B-Q, which has smoke spewing from it frequently. The building was destroyed.
A group of so-called “gifted” eighth-grade students filed a lawsuit in 2003 against the Beaubien School in Chicago because officials denied them their “right” to wear a “Gifties” T-shirt. The school, with similar numbers of “gifteds” and regular students (who, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, are referred to as “tards”), works to tamp down divisiveness and controversy between the two groups. However, said one giftie, “There’s a certain point when you have to stick up for your rights,” and not only was a lawsuit filed, but when it was tossed out by the first judge to hear it, the students appealed, and argument was heard in January at the U.S. Court of Appeals.
CIVILIZATION IN DECLINE
The Netherlands broadcaster SBS 6 was scheduled to launch a reality TV show in February, Love at Second Sight, which has been described as a dating show for the “visibly disfigured.” An SBS 6 spokesman said the show’s goal is to fight prejudice (which is why the producers changed the name from its original name, Monster Love). MTW