Posted by panchmaster from host-148-244-221-58.block.alestra.net.mx (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 at 6:25PM :
As Good As A Real Christian
Back in the 70's when I was in Seattle working with the Public Defender's Office, Juvenile Division, as an investigator and later as the director of the Group Home, fearles leader of Island Expeditions with a tribe of Jubilant Delinquents in tow...I must have presented the Establishment with a strange spectacle and in many ways their worst nightmare.
First off I was a volunteer which means I didn't get paid by any of them, not even the Defenders so I was beholden to no one. I was there because I wanted to be and I'd stay as long as I felt like it and leave on my own terms. There was no paycheck, no promotions or other devices used to control our better judgements. There weren't many people willing to do it and they needed the help because they were usually swamped so with all the problems I might create for the Defenders by not being servile enough at the Juvenile Court, they needed me more than I needed them.
Through the Defenders I had unlimited access to the jail cells where the kids were kept, Solitary as well. I was allowed to eat in the cafeteria with the kids and they couldn't stop me from having a daily orientation for new kids, telling them their rights and what the Defeners could do for them. I was roundly hated by the prison staff and most of the Social Workers...though I met one of my dearest friends ever at the court...and a few lusted after my shiny arse.
In the 70's social conciousness was all the rage. The Vietnam War had been secretly extended to Cambodia and Laos...there were still riots in ghettos and demonstrations and confrontations everywhere. Ms magazine was turning people upside down. Television even took a hand with a few shows about strorefront lawyers with great hair taking on the "System". Even down at the King County Detention Center and Juvenile Court there used to be demonstrations every so often of irate parents, kids, social activists, church groups etc. And there I was, with my own "show" only it was real.
I was an endless source of gossip, suspicion, speculation. I found out later that I was suspected of liking young boys and girls "too much". How else explain a drop dead gorgeous bearded Assyrian working the hours I did for free while holding down a part time job at a gas station in the University District. I had the requisite Levi outfit, jeans and jacket... black Wellingtons and a mint condition '48 Chevy five-window pick up truck with a hopped up engine. I lived with two beautiful people, both aspiring actors, one gorgeously blonde, gifted and female I later married and one delightful Gay friend who owns a successful business in Seattle today and is even more outrageous than he was then. they're the same gang that went with me when I kidnapped my son later and moved to New York. We lived in a college kid house done in "Early Marijuanna" right from central castng where I sometimes stashed kids on the run who needed a warm meal and a bus ticket. Luckily for me the head Defender, John Darrah, later a judge in Seattle, was supportive trusting I would keep from him only what he didn't need to know.
I went to the Court each day determined to end all oppression. I never did of course but it got the wheels moving a lot faster than they would have otherwise...and that allowed me to try new things...things the old system wasn't ready for, couldn't conceive of, let alone pull off.
I bring all this up to mention a comment made to me by an executive with the United Way I got to know personally...whose adopted only son had been in some trouble himself and came to live me at the Group Home for a time as a counsellor and all around Heavy...the guy was strong and scary...but a kitten to those approaching him with cream. One day as his father and I were at lunch and I was expounding on my idea for a survival camp on an island...he sat back and gave me that squint he had, like a bemused fish. Milton Karr was a Quaker, as was his wife Helen. They were extremely decent and mild people...a bit too restrained I suspect because once Milton asked me in a most endearing manner if dope really was an aphrodisiac...bless them both. We managed to leave a joint where he could find it and I always suspected Helen walked with more of a bounce after that.
Anyway, Milton sat back and eyed me for a moment, then said, "you know, you're quite a Christian after all". I was immediately offended because he was claiming whatever positive qualities he thought he saw belonged to folowers of Christ. He could have said I was behaving as any decent person would when faced with an appalling injustice most people are content to ignore...instead he claimed the credit for that kind of behavior as belonging to his religion in particular.
Had I not been running like mad from the kind of Turlock/Assyria filled with Aprims and BetJizzoos until then, I would have corrected him by saying I was behaving as any Assyrian would.
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