By R. D. Flavin


Pfc. Manning, Lady Gaga, and Pres. Obama.

     Well, yabba dabba do, US Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning (aka “bradass87”) was found not guilty of aiding the enemy (10 USC § 904 - Art. 104).  Poor guy still faces impossible time (136 years) for erasing a CD by Lady Gaga (aka “@ladygaga”) and copying government videos and files.  Manning was convicted of twenty other charges resulting from his 2010 WikiLeaks whistle-blowing.  To some, he's a hero for erasing the Lady Gaga CD.  Our dearest Commander-in-Chief, Pres. Barack H. Obama II (aka "@BarackObama"), didn't have anything to say about the ruling, but then again he's getting quite proficient at Flintstoning.  Apparently having “a gay old time” comes with restrictions.

     Now, to be fair, several weeks ago Pres. Obama was in Sénégal, Africa on the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage and he thought it was a good time to ask Africans to treat people equally regardless of sexual orientation.  Macky Sall (“@macky_sall“), the President of the Republic of Sénégal, quickly responded for his country and said, “we are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality.”  There was something else, perhaps with “étrange,” but the translation from the French wasn't transpicuous.  What was clear, however, is that the bedrock of American values has shifted from intolerance to equality, reciprocity, and casual compassion.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas still have (illegal and unenforceable) anti-sodomy laws on the books...

His Holiness Pope Francis, Cardinal O'Malley, and Fr. Helmut Schüller.

     Last week's trip to Brazil by His Holiness Pope Francis (aka “@Pontifex”) was supposed to be a general shout-out to all Catholics with a message to ...carry one's own luggage, kiss street-babies, and “Do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it.”  However, another “message” was imparted by the Holy Father in the comfort of his chartered Alitalia-Linee Aeree Italiane jet ("Shepherd One") on the journey back to Rome when asked about homosexual priests, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”  On the surface Pope Francis seems to be exercising tolerance, but as priests are under a vow of celibacy, it's a moot point as they aren't supposed to be dipping their wicks anytime or where.  Yet, there's a sub-basement intolerance in the "love the sinner but hate the sin" approach (taking a page right out of history with St. Augustine's slogan, "Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum" or "With love for mankind and hatred of sins"), as in the active day-to-day of the Faithful, such equivocation results in a bigoted repudiation for both sin and sinner.  Just ask Ken Bencomo, a teacher for seventeen years at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, California.   He just got fired for marrying his same-sex partner.  Bencomo is not a priest, hasn't taken a vow of celibacy, but the anti-gay Church didn't like the publicity.  Yup, another example of Catholics being bad and mean.

     Intolerance has become a regularly recurring sacrament in Boston with the Archbishop of Boston, Seán Cardinal O'Malley (aka “@CardinalSean”), refusing to attend this year's Boston College graduation because the commencement speaker was Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny (aka “@EndaKennyTD”), who backed an amendment to the Irish Constitution allowing for an abortion if a woman's life was at risk.  My people, my people!  Some eat cake, others have crumbs, and Catholics are expected ...to go without.  It's been signed into law, though everyone expects a lán of legal challenges to be forthcoming.  Yeah, I'm thinking Cardinal O'Malley as a Capuchin might begrudge the Jesuits at BC a ride with the family down the street, or be poopy-diaper conflicted about his Irish-American heritage, but ...we need to remember that he got his archdiocese by being tough with legal settlements involving the Catholic sexual abuse scandal.  And, sadly, he's continuing to be a prick among princes...

     A couple of weeks ago, His Eminence O'Malley cancelled a speaking-engagement by the Austrian priest and reformer, Father Helmut Schüller, at the Saint Susanna Parish in Dedham, MA because Schüller is an outspoken leader for change within the Church (promoting a “Call to Disobedience“) regarding married priests and the ordination of women.  The talk was subsequently held across town at the First Church and Parish in Dedham, a Unitarian Universalist meeting house, and attended by hundreds of curious Catholics.  To turn base lead into the Golden Rule takes more than alchemical blessings and dialog can only begin when someone listens.  It appears that the doctrinal Catholic position is Janian with faces that resemble comedy and tragedy.  I guess “comedy” might be subjective, 'cause there's actually nothing funny about positive change.

     As we wish the best to Edward Snowden (aka "Bamm-Bamm23"), the NSA surveillance whistle-blower, with his newly granted asylum in Mother Russia (psst...; watch your back, dude), the sentencing hearings continue for Pfc. Manning with lots of testimony ahead from both the prosecution and the defense.  Affecting change from within a strict and guarded system like the Catholic Church and the US Army is usually futile and often fatalistically doomed.  Ya' can change your socks and drawers, but ya' can't change...  Wait!  No, change is possible, indeed it's inevitable.  It's just that evolution isn't always steady and gradual, but (as advanced by the late Stephen J. Gould), punctuated with sudden bursts of “Hey, let's try it this way!”  In the early '60s Vatican II got rid of Purgatory and allowed unbaptized babies into Heaven, and after years of the muddled “Don't ask, don't tell” policy, the law was repealed in 2011.  With, however, the caveat that “This is my rifle.  This is my gun.  This is for fighting and this is for fun” be upheld, ...as sex and guns don't mix.  Well, much like there's continued outrage and pending criminal prosecutions involving Church cover-ups in the sexual abuse scandals, if a problem exists it should be recognized and dealt with.  Pfc. Manning had a big problem in Iraq as he thought he was Pebbles, he sought help, and didn't get it.  He's had the rebel rubble (confused and sad) Gey and now he's ...in a feces-fest of trouble and he's still psychologically and emotionally compromised.

Pfc. Manning with unidentified male and Pres. Obama changing his t-shirt.

     Quite simply, Pfc. Bradley Manning is the son of a former US Army intelligence analyist and a flaming twink with a proficiency in computers.  Because of his openly gay nature, Manning was extremely frightened of the “Don't ask, don't tell” policy.  As part of his analysis duties in Iraq, Manning happened upon such horrible events and information as the 2007 killings of a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists, by US Army Apache helicopters.  And, he decided to share the horrible truth through WikiLeaks.  For Manning, there was an immediate slide into mental (and emotional) instability. He took leave and attended a Boston University hacker meeting (“BUILDS”).  It's said he tried living as a woman for a few days by appearing in public dressed in women's clothes and wearing a wig.  Back in Iraq, he got into a fight with a service-woman (perhaps being demoted), and contacted his immediate superior, Master Sergeant Paul Watkins, complaining that he suffered from gender identity disorder and was impaired by his emotional problems.  He attached a photograph of himself dressed as a woman to the e-mail.  No action was taken by Watkins.  A soldier asked for assistance and didn't get it.  After his arrest, he was "forced to stand naked at parade rest where he was in view of multiple guards" and was "required to wear a heavy and restrictive suicide smock which irritated his skin and, on one occasion, almost choked him.”  As an Army brat and a former member of the US Army Massachusetts National Guard, I don't believe cries of “Go Army!” and "Hooah" would be appropriate.

     IMO, Manning shouldn't have served and his supervisors should have recognized his distress.  In a civilian court a lawyer could argue something like diminished capacity, but the US Army plays by their own rules.  If Newsweek is correct about Pres. Obama being the first (sympathetic to) gay(s) president, then maybe our dear Commander-in-Chief can stop Flinstoning and yabba dabba do one of those pardon thingies.  The kid needs care and not correction.

A modern stoned-age guy using his two feet.

Missing Wilma (and Betty, too),

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