So you think it's cute to poke fun at the moral dilemmas of God-fearing, Bible-toting Christians? Aren't you concerned about your eternal soul? And I don't mean to sound judgmental, but rotting in hell for an eternity is no picnic.
Hell, no picnic? Try swimming around in total darkness with your larval lungs filled up with protoplasm all day. As much as I appreciate getting my first actual letter from the fine community of Stilwell, I can't pass up this opportunity to correct some common misconceptions in your missive. Biblical scholars readily acknowledge that the English word hell is a misleading translation of Hebrew and Greek words for pit, which referred to a deep hole in the ground east of Jerusalem used for mob-related body dumpings and fraternity hazings. Threatening to send children to the pit was a favorite tool of Judean parents. Unfortunately, over the centuries, the fevered imaginations of sex-deprived clerics magnified this concept to reflect their own fire-and-brimstone perversions. Archaeologists, meanwhile, were miffed when "hell" was filled in during an ambitious 1970s Israeli highway beautification project, spoiling its historical value. So you see, S, I'm far less concerned about your mythical lake of fire than the modern manifestation of eternal damnation: child-rearing in suburbia.
Got a moral quandary? E-mail Jimmy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Renters at the Royal Ridge Apartments in Kansas City, Kansas, were freaked out when they discovered fliers taped to their doors ordering them to lock up their pets, hand over their security codes and open their doors for police officers who would soon stop by.
"In an effort to strive to make this community a crime-free environment, the KCK Police Department along with Management at Royal Ridge Apartments, will be conducting random inspections on Tuesday, June 7, 2005," the notice read, giving residents one day's warning. "Your cooperation will help assist in making this community crime-free. Please note that your apartment may or may not be picked, but just in case please be prepared."
It doesn't take an expert in constitutional law to know that that ain't right.
"I'm all for a safe place to live, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the police just coming into my apartment whenever they want to," one resident told us. "I just don't even see how they can do that."
Neither did we. We dialed up Royal Ridge, where an assistant manager (who declined to give her name) said it was the police who had arranged the searches -- and who later canceled them.
It turns out the KCK police did want to inspect apartments -- but only the vacant ones. Royal Ridge is a set of fairly well-kept buildings near Kansas City, Kansas, Community College, and it's among several complexes that are part of a national program in which police inspect unoccupied units for standard security measures: deadbolts, peepholes, window locks, stuff like that. The manager was "clearly mistaken" about the searches, Capt. Vince Davenport told us when we asked about the scary flier. "We are keenly aware of Fourth Amendment issues and would not allow any of our officers to engage in random or unauthorized searches of any structure."
But we suspect that residents had reason to be frightened anyway. When we paid a visit ourselves, a couple of guys were waiting impatiently outside the office. They were locked out of their apartment, and the manager was nowhere to be found. They claimed they'd seen her sneak into the building and that she wouldn't answer their knocks. Five minutes later, though, a luxury SUV rolled up, and out stepped the contentious manager. She breezed past the guys, unlocked the office door, flipped the "will return" sign and asked, "Can I help you?"
We detected a snarl as she told the men that they would have to pay for the extra set of keys.
Leaders of the eight richest nations in the world were meeting in Scotland last week, so naturally that called for a protest in Westport.
After initially setting up in Penn Valley Park, about 50 union representatives, aging hippies and young anarchists came down to the island at Broadway and Westport Road last Wednesday to rebel against the G8 conference. But after a rousing speech about workers' rights in a global economy, things got silly fast.
A man who identified himself as an independent journalist took a megaphone and urged the crowd to stand with revolutionaries in Iraq and Palestine and fight American imperialism.
This made a lot of sense, urging support for jihadists the day before trains were bombed in London. We need more protesters with this sense of timing.
Anyway, after a few more speeches, the small crowd took to the street, heading down Broadway and blocking traffic.
But did Kansas City's finest have to validate our angry revolutionaries by arresting them?
We asked KCPD Capt. Rich Lockhart why a group of 50 sign toters wasn't too small to bother with. Fifty is actually quite a sizable group that can cause a lot of trouble, he replied. We figure that's a fairly sad statement about the level of political activism in our sleepy town.
Maybe if Kansas Citians gathered in larger numbers (and behaved a little less ridiculously), such small groups wouldn't be worth policing.
But Lockhart says numerous warnings were given to the protesters to stop blocking traffic and get on the sidewalk before three were arrested. Others were maced when, Lockhart says, the crowd made a threatening advance against officers.
At least the protest was partly successful: Later, walking away from the uproar, we noticed two middle-aged women jogging in Mill Creek Park who had noticed all the political action. What were they discussing? American fair-trade policy.
Capitalism may suck, but midtown's live theater sure doesn't.