Speechless in New England by Karl Stephan

Speechless in New England

Karl Stephan on Breakfasting with Cultural Antagonists

One morning, at a bed-and-breakfast in New England, my wife and I met a well-dressed woman from the West Coast. This woman—I will call her Mrs. B.—proved to be an engaging and intelligent conversationalist. An Episcopalian and a Democrat, she was no fan of President Bush. She feared that conservative and fundamentalist Christians—she used both modifiers—were a serious threat to freedom. She was convinced that the President is issuing little-known executive orders to further restrict Americans’ freedoms beyond what has been done already through such well-publicized measures as the Patriot Act. His ultimate goal, she said, is to take the country back to 1950, or even earlier if possible.

One of her daughters is a lesbian rabbi, who with her lover has adopted two boys (or perhaps given birth to them—she was not clear on that point). They had to go through the legal process of adopting the boys and carefully chose the only judge of those available who typically granted such applications to lesbian couples. Mrs. B. feared that even this relative freedom would soon be swept away in the tidal wave of repression that will come about during the sovereignty of the Republicans, who are in turn controlled by conservative Christians.

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Karl Stephan is an associate professor in the Department of Technology at Texas State University-San Marcos in San Marcos, Texas.

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