Saturday, April 08, 2006

South Dakota Senator Bill Napoli is Looney

As I hope everyone knows by now, South Dakota's government recently passed a law banning all abortion except if the mother's life is threatened. They are hoping that the law will be challenged eventually at the level of the Supreme Court and that Roe V. Wade will be overturned.

My cousin Loy and her partner Bob live in South Dakota, and Bob has created an auction site on E-Bay to raise money for a proposed women's clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation. It's an interesting way to ensure women have access to basic medical services, including abortion, even if the ban takes effect--since Pine Ridge isn't subject to state laws. Even if the ban never takes effect, South Dakota currently only has 1 abortion provider in the entire state located in Sioux Falls, which is on the eastern end of the state and a five hour + drive from the western end of the state. More clinics in South Dakota are desparately needed.

The item being auctioned by Bob to raise money for the clinic is a card with a statement by one of the South Dakota Senators, a truely remarkable character, by the name of Bill Napoli. Napoli on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer justified that there shouldn't be an exception in the bill for rape and incest, because such an exception would naturally occur for a particular type of rape victim:

"A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life."
Bob, who has a mischievious wit, has created a card printed with this bizarre declaration, which Bob has titled the "Sodomized Religious Virgin Exception" that he's auctioning on e-bay to raise money for the Oglala Women's Clinic.

Here's where things get very strange.

Bob mailed a copy of the card he's auctioning to Napoli. Napoli sent him a note back that made my jaw drop. You can see a copy of it, but the text reads as follows:

Newland,

What's with the Bullshit Card? You want to be friends again????

After reading some of your diatribe on a couple of the blog sites, I now understand you much better.

Your apparent self importance isn't near what you think it is. As a matter of fact, for a person who has failed so miserably in his life, I am surprised at your consistent criticisms of people who used to have a modicum of respect for you.

I suppose too many years of seld induced abuse has definitely taken its' [sic] toll.

No Joke Newland! If I could have had you arrested for the threat you made towards me and my family, I would have.

Napoli.
The blog comments and the "threat" that Napoli refers to was a comment Bob wrote on the Rapid City Journal Blog that said
When Napoli's father was growing up here in the wild west, his cafe was burned to the ground. A sign was left nearby, 'Italian nigger go home.' I happen to believe that can happen again. Ah, the good ol days.
The moderator of the blog wrote a note following Bob's comment with this:
I got a backchannel complaint from a reader who said someone could take the above comment as a threat or intended threat. It didn't seem like a threat to me, but I called Newland and asked him to clarify the remark. Bob told me his "ah the good old days" comment was in reference to Bill N's statement that he believe [sic] we could go back to the days when young men were forced to marry the girls they impregnated and live up to their responsibilities.": "I was mocking his comments about shotgun weddings," Bob told me. he said his point was that the "good old days" might not have been so good. Bob also said, "I think Napoli's been a valuable asset to South Dakota."
As a friend of Bob's, I can also say confidently that Bob's comment was not intended in any way to be a threat to Napoli.

Nonetheless, Napoli's pissed at Bob. So, Napoli contacts the South Dakota Criminal Investigation unit and has an agent sent to Bob's house to interrogate him about the supposed threat. Bob wasn't arrested, since there was no threat there, but Napoli certainly was doing his best to threaten Bob.

So much for free speech in this country--especially speech targeted at a looney South Dakota Senator who is so self-important as to think he can treat women like vessels and dissenters as criminals.

1 comment:

Rod Carveth said...

Was South Dakota that nutty when you wer growing up there? When I taught there, I thought it was straight middle of the road politically, with few extremists (though the mother of one of my students, whose first name was Charlotte-- the mom, not the student -- ran for rep against Tim Johnson, and she was a bit out there).

It's getting a rep of being right wing crazy.