With 79 homicides in Cincinnati last year and a police officer wounded by gunfire last week, one might expect the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to want fewer firearms on the streets. But instead the union representing Cincinnati cops, Queen City FOP Lodge 69, and its affiliate, Fraternal Order of Police Associates (FOPA) Lodge 4, are promoting a gun raffle. The details are in the December 2005 FOP newsletter (visit www.fop69.org/fop26.html).
"We will be raffling off a brand spanking new 9mm Beretta Cx4 Storm," the newsletter says. "This beauty can be yours for only a dollar! All you have to do is complete the tickets that will be inserted into your membership renewal. Additional tickets will be available for purchase at the monthly FOPA/FOP meetings. Ticket donations will be $1 each."
The notion of cops winning such a raffle might not be unsettling. But membership in the FOPA is open to persons living or working in Ohio who don't have a felony record "and never have been a member of any subversive or un-American organization."
Meanwhile City Councilwoman Laketa Cole has come up with an innovative idea for reducing the number of guns in private hands — she wants people to leave them at their churches.
"Church leaders, in their roles as influential members of their neighborhoods, may be able to sway some citizens, who have not turned in their guns to the police department or the Cincinnati Recreation Centers, to put down their weapons and stop the violence," Cole says. "Opening up churches as gun drop-off points offers yet another avenue to help stop the violence in our neighborhoods."
Torture as Art and Newspaper Policy
We should also look to the churches — or rather the religious art displayed within them — for insight on the use of torture by the Bush administration, according to Gary Wright of Equality Cincinnati. In an essay titled "The Good Torturer at Christmas," Wright says Christian iconography frequently portrays torture but that the implications don't speak well of what U.S. soldiers have been doing to prisoners of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.
"Our nation is engaged in a debate as Christmas approaches this year about whether we should torture people in pursuit of national security or some other higher good. ... If you have been to any European cathedral or gallery of late medieval and early Renaissance art, you know that Christian art of the last seven or eight centuries is filled with images of torture," Wright says. "In these images, torture sanctifies the victims, not the torturers. The victims are known by name: Sebastian, the most commonly portrayed victim; Margaret of Antioch; Catherine of Alexandria; Cecilia and others. The torturers are unknowns and are always less important in the images than the sufferer. The torturers are nameless men shooting arrows at the bound and helpless but living man's body, or bland cruel men slicing a feminine throat.
"If you knew nothing of Christianity and could strip yourself of the preconceptions provided by religion, what would you see? Simply men and women suffering mortal agony. Would you think that the people inflicting this pain were good? There are no Good Torturers here, only centuries of unjustly suffering victims. ... We should reflect on those images of sanctified victims and anonymous pain-givers as we consider ourselves whether torture can be moral and good today."
A slow, painful death seems to have overtaken The Cincinnati Post. Editor Mike Philipps welcomed his staff back from the New Year holiday by announcing yet another round of employee buy-outs — with the last round having just been completed Sept. 1.
"As with the plan offered last summer, virtually every employee will be eligible," Philipps' Jan. 3 memo says. "We must reduce our remaining staff by another five full-time employees."
The memo comes just after the E.W. Scripps Co., owner of The Post, announced a 3.9 percent increase in total monthly revenue for its newspaper division. For November 2005, Scripps newspapers brought in $65 million in total revenue.
All but condemned to die at the end of 2007, when its joint operating agreement with The Cincinnati Enquirer expires, The Post has so severely cut its newsroom staff that its viability as a competitor to the larger Cincinnati daily is all but gone. Post reporters still offer stories that are often substantially better than The Enquirer, especially in coverage of Cincinnati City Hall and the Hamilton County Courthouse. But The Post has increasingly come to rely on wire service reports from the Associated Press and even The Journal-News in Hamilton for stories to which, in its heyday, The Post would have assigned its own reporters.
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