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March 27, 2002

Plaque flak: Folks in Lauderhill, Florida, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, planned a celebration of the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. for Saturday January 19. As part of the event, the townspeople decided to honor the actor James Earl Jones by presenting him with a plaque. Depicting Dr. King and other famous blacks, the plaque was intended to congratulate Jones for his efforts in furthering King’s concerns. Merit Industries of Georgetown, Texas, was engaged by Adpro, a Lauderhill business, to prepare the plaque. But when it arrived, the inscription read: “Thank you James Earl Ray for keeping the dream alive.” Ray, of course, was the man convicted of killing King in Memphis in 1968. A representative of Merit Industries said his company would correct the mistake, but the owner of Adpro declined the offer, preferring to have the damage repaired by local hands.

Satan has been banned from Inglis, Florida, by official decree. Written by the town’s mayor, Carolyn Risher—guided by God’s hand, she says—the proclamation reads in part: “Be it known from this day forward that Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town of Inglis. Satan is hereby declared powerless, no longer ruling over, nor influencing, our citizens.” Along with some prayers, copies of the proclamation, signed by the town clerk and stamped with the town seal, were placed in four hollow posts installed at the entrances to the town. But despite the outlawing of Lucifer, Inglis police lieutenant Steve Morris acknowledged that “there hasn’t been what I would call a mathematical drop in crimes.” In fact, the four original posts were recently stolen. They have been replaced, however—with posts embedded in reinforced concrete.

Officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District have decided to halt distribution of 300 copies of a book about the Qur’an donated by an Islamic foundation. The decision was made because the book’s foreword describes Jews as illiterates who reject knowledge. In announcing the move, school district representative James Konantz said: “We’re going to talk to the foundation members and determine exactly why the commentary is there and whether there is research to support it.”

Margaret Thatcher on the U.S. and Afghanistan: “The United States is right not to allow itself to become bogged down with ambitious nation-building in that treacherous territory. . . . It is best that the U.S. . . . deploy its energies militarily rather than on social work” (New York Times, February 11).

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter on the environment: “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.”

Writes Robert L. Phillips, professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, in a letter in the March issue of First Things: “Vatican II represented the surrender of the Catholic Church to modernism. . . . In suppressing the ideal of a Catholic state, Vatican II has betrayed Catholic teaching and has made the most cruel mockery of thousands of martyrs who died for the faith. Those martyrs did not die for the right to practice their religion in a pluralist setting, but for the truth and exclusivity of the Catholic faith.”