Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Special Hell

From FIREFLY, the Joss Whedon series:

BOOK: If you take advantage of her sexually, you are going to burn in a special level of hell. The level reserved for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.

The Special Hell. The poor actor who played Shepherd Book, Ron Glass, has had to field more "Special Hell" comments than any actor ever should.

But if there is a Special Hell, it should be reserved for self-proclaimed white separatist Frank Weltner, who has allegedly been seeking donations for Katrina victims and diverting the money to white supremacy organizations. Internetdonations.org - do NOT give them your money. He has been sued by the attorney general of Missouri, who is also seeking a court order to shut down the web site.

Sometimes there are no words. I'm a reporter, for heaven's sake - we have seven men on the front page charged with keeping a fifteen-year-old girl stoned and drugged so they could repeatly rape her. When she finally regained sobriety, she escaped. May they rot. But we are used to this kind of venality.

The utter selfishness of those using Katrina to further their political aims or dogma - like the religious group, as yet unnamed, that blamed the destruction on a gay festival as "God's wrath." It boggles the mind.

Jesus called. He wants his religion back.

So how evil do you have to be to trick people into giving to homeless, sick and starving people, and diverting the money to hate groups? Isn't that just asking for a Stephen King novel to happen to you?

If this were a novel, Mr. Weltner would be visited by the ghost of the disabled old lady, who was stiill able to communicate with her police-officer son from her flooded home. He assured her help would be coming on Wednesday. And on Thursday. And on Friday. And on Saturday. And on Sunday, except that's when she drowned.

Then he would be forced by the spectre of a nine-year-old who was raped and murdered to go down to New Orleans. There he would have to apologize to the bereaved survivors of the police officers who committed suicide after days of hell.

Mr. Weltner would be forced to survive by drinking floodwater, contaminated with acres of pesticides, floating excrement and noxious chemicals.

There he would be forced to search the entire state for Snowball, the missing dog forcibly taken from a screaming child's arms when he was evacuated. No sleep for Mr. Weltner. No clean bedsheets, clear water or safe food. He should dogpaddle through the New Orleans soup, carrying containers of water and gasoline on his back to the enclaves of survivors, stopping at every demolished home to apologize to the dim phantoms of the inhabitants.

If he finds Snowball, he will be required to carry the dog across the state of Louisiana and into Texas, all the way to the Astrodome, where the boy was headed. But he will be denied the privilege of actually handing Snowball to his weeping owner. The mother or father who has spent the last week comforting their traumatized child over the loss of his pet, his home, his school, his friends and his entire life will reintroduce Snowball to his owner, and Mr. Weltner will be sent on his way to walk back to Mississippi.

Now he will help clear downed power lines from the streets of Biloxi, and set himself to rebuilding street signs so the refugees will be able to find their way through the streets. He will fetch Port-a-Potties and carry them on his back to the RV camp set up in a newspaper parking lot. The reporters working there are not just the homeless survivors - they are volunteers come from across the country to help the newspaper stay afloat, so to speak. Someone has to keep telling people what's going on, after all.

There's a CNN photo I've seen, a cardboard sign outside a broken building: "Shelter From Hell. Bush Come Live Here in Hell."

It's a Special Hell. One reserved for child molesters and those who trick well-meaning donors into giving their money to hate. Unfortunately, this Special Hell is real - and all the wrong people are swimming in its toxic soup.

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