Author Archives: Teri

Please vote NO on Kentucky’s Amendment 2

Me, at 16

Shortly after my 16th birthday, a man sexually abused me. I was starting my junior year of high school. I knew the man. I liked the man. I trusted the man. He was a pillar of my small town, beloved by all. He was handsome, young, married with two little babies. And what he did was criminal.

This is where I am supposed to tell you if I got pregnant and had an abortion, but I am not going to tell you. I am not going to tell you because it is none of your business.

A woman recently published a letter in The Anderson News falsely claiming that women are having abortions “just because,” including up until it is time to give birth. This is a lie, and it is time we start calling it a lie. Please do not tell me you think so little of women that we will nurture a fetus for six, seven, eight, nine months and decide on a whim we are done. This is ludicrous.

The same letter writer claimed there is a state trying to “pass a law that allows the taking of that baby’s life up to 28 DAYS AFTER birth.” That state is Maryland, and this statement is false.

On September 8, the Courier-Journal reported, “In Kentucky, the two youngest patients to receive an abortion over the past two years were age 9. Under Kentucky law, sexual intercourse with a 9-year-old is considered first-degree rape,” and that “34 girls ages 15 or younger received abortions in 2021, according to state statistics.”

New laws would force these children — babies themselves — to carry a fetus to term.

On August 30, the South Carolina House attempted to pass a total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. It failed by only eight votes. A lawmaker argued that if a child was raped by her father, she had choices. All she needed to do, he said, was get her father — her rapist — to give her a ride to Walmart the next day to get the morning-after pill. If he would not take her, she could call an ambulance, he said.

I want you to pause and think about the logistics of this, such an absurd level of insanity I cannot believe I had to write the paragraph.

The other day I ran into a woman at Kroger who asked me a question I had not yet considered. Who, she wanted to know, is going to raise all of the offspring of women addicted to drugs who will be forced to carry a pregnancy to term? And what will it cost taxpayers to pay for their potentially lifelong mental and medical care?

I never told a soul about my sexual abuse when it happened. I was ashamed and somehow thought it was my fault, that I’d asked for it. I finally told my childhood girlfriends 34 years later, the weekend of my 50th birthday. You know what their response was? It was a good thing I’d never told because no one would have believed me. It would have ruined my life, they told me, certain I would have had to leave school, maybe even leave town.

Being a poor kid with a single mom, I wonder how we would have survived.

There seems to be a fantasy today about the number of newborns soon to be available for adoption. This will not happen, and it is childish to think otherwise. People keep babies they do not want for any number of reasons: pressure from family who insist they will help, shame at being seen as someone who would give away a baby, the inability to give away a baby you’ve carried for nine months, and more.

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we talk mostly about the effects on girls and women, but I often wonder if men have considered the impact these strict, new anti-abortion laws will have on their own lives.

What will happen to young boys in high school and college who impregnate the girls they are dating? More babies will mean more child support, for one thing, for the next two decades of their lives. And is our court system prepared for the massive influx of cases to ensure mothers get the support they need from reluctant fathers?

An extensive study published in AARP magazine found that 46 percent of men reported cheating on their partners. Again, reality. What if these men impregnate the women they are having affairs with? How will this affect their wives, their children?

Do you believe men are suddenly going to stop having affairs because there is a new anti-abortion law?

I told you my abuser was young and married with two little babies. Imagine his wife, a young mother herself, having to deal not only with her cheating husband, but the publicity in a small town that he had abused a 16 year old child who might now be pregnant and having his baby. How might this have destroyed her life and her children’s lives?

Now multiply this over and over and over and over again, and think about your own 16 year old daughters, your little girls ages 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 …

Our constitutional rights are on the ballot this November. If passed, Kentucky’s Amendment 2 would block the right to abortion, no matter the reason, including rape, incest, and life of the mother. Do we want judges and politicians making the most difficult, life-changing, sometimes shame-filled medical decisions for us and our loved ones? The answer is no.

You have the right to privacy and the right to make your own choices, which are hard enough without government interference.

Their choices — your choices — are nobody’s business. I beg you to vote NO on Kentucky’s Amendment 2 in November.

Turn off the TV

Grandma Ann and Grandpa Red

When I was little, Grandpa Red got addicted to CBS soaps because CBS was the only channel that came in without static. He would park himself in front of the old Magnavox, with its tin-foiled rabbit ears, and watch The Young and The Restless, As the World Turns and The Guiding Light, scolding the female characters as if they could hear him. “You old witch, having an affair with a married man,” he might say, or “Go on, dress like that and get what’s coming!” and worse. Much, much worse.

Grandpa was a resentful, angry man, which he often took out on grandma in both word and deed, and watching his soaps every day, right on schedule, kept the devil awake in him.

I often hear that, because I am a Democrat, I am evil. I have a “radical left agenda,” someone might say, a “woke” woman focused on “pronouns” who wants to “defund the police” with “cancel culture” while giving away “free money” to people who aren’t “real Americans.”

To which I say please, turn off the TV.

In “The Unwinding: An inner history of the new America,” National Book Award winner George Packer describes how, decades ago, Newt Gingrich realized voters “got their politics on TV, and they were not persuaded by policy descriptions or rational arguments. They responded to symbols and emotions. Thy were growing more partisan, too, living in districts that were increasingly Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative. Donors were more likely to send money if they could be frightened or angered, if the issues were framed as simple choices between good and evil.”

Gingrich was famous for sending memos and cassette tapes to fellow Republicans with lists of words to use in speeches and on TV to indoctrinate the masses: betray, cheat, corrupt, destroy, disgrace, elite, evil, gay, liberal, radical, sick, soft, status, taxes, welfare, to name a few.

It worked. It continues to work.

A few weeks ago, my dad called at 6:30 a.m. to wish me happy birthday and, no joke, it went something like, happy birthday, do you know that monkey pox is another gay thing, drugs are pouring over the border because Biden is soft, China is taking over our country, and the woke liberal elites do nothing but give away free money?

My dad watches Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham. Can you tell? And by God, is he mad.

The same goes for CNN and MSNBC, albeit with better facts. These people are not there to give you news, they are there to entertain you, to keep your eyes on their channel, to make money. As Appalachian writer Skyler Baker-Jordan put it, “Cable news is basically ESPN for politics, but with a fewer ethics and higher stakes.”

Cable news anchors make millions using Gringrich-isms every night to keep their audiences angry and tuned in, groaning of late about the forgiveness of predatory student loan debt. Funny, I do not recall them mentioning men like Oklahoma GOP Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who received more than $1.4 million in forgiven PPP loans. Or Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania who tweeted, “Asking plumbers and carpenters to pay off the loans of Wall Street advisors and lawyers isn’t just unfair. It’s also bad policy,” after he received $987,237 in PPP loans, also forgiven.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said on TV last week, “We will fight the woke in our businesses, we will fight the woke in government agencies, we will fight the woke in our schools, we will never, ever surrender to the woke agenda.” Mr. Gingrich sure would be proud of his boy.

I have been told that, because I am a liberal, I want to “defund the police,” even as I have lunch with the Lawrenceburg Police Department once a month or so. I love those guys. I support them. Ask a local police officer if I want to defund them.

I am often told I am “woke” and “radical,” the irony being I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. I believe all Americans deserve private, affordable, accessible healthcare, that good teachers are like gold, and that all human beings are equal and deserve care and respect. If this is woke and radical, I’ll take it. Jesus was radical. What might some Christians think of him today?

And can someone explain how it is wrong to support those in marginalized communities like LGBTQ who are so often the subject of ridicule and cruelty? I would particularly like an answer to this question from local pastors who preach about the “evil” of being homosexual, that “Disney is coming for your children,” and that we are currently in a “civil war” against the other side.

Is this what Jesus would do? It seems some pastors would do well to turn off their TVs, too.

When I remember Grandpa Red, I see him sitting in his chair, eyes glued to his TV, spitting a stream of epithets like curare darts at female soap opera characters, angry at the world. He kept a giant, heavy roll of white butcher’s paper in the corner, and during the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., as he watched his soaps, he would roll the end of the butcher paper up onto a TV table, open his Bible, and meticulously copy verses in black ballpoint, with the zeal of a student, in the perfect penmanship of the architect he never got to be.

More guns in our schools? Here’s a 12 step program.

Step 9: Make direct amends wherever possible, except when to do so would injure others because they are weak and refuse to arm teachers. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, locked and loaded, amen.

Step 10: Continue to take personal inventory of the weapons in our classrooms and promptly admit when we are falling short on supply and need money. We believe in the God of guns, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, whom we all know would have survived under Pontius Pilate if only he had been carrying an AR-15. Duh!

Click here to read.

Fancy Farm is dead

Kelly Paul, wife of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

In the margins of my homework, next to a line I’d meant to be the big zinger, Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame wrote: Not funny, just mean, you missed the beat.

It was Winter 2006, I was taking a comedy writing class with Professor Keillor at the University of Minnesota, and I remember his red ink feedback because it hurt. Humor requires not only informed, intelligent observation and good writing skills, but profound empathy and masterful timing. Comedy writing, I would learn, is hard.

I thought of Keillor as I watched this year’s Fancy Farm speeches on KET and wondered what he might write in the margins of so many humorless speeches.

Kelly Paul, filling in for husband Rand Paul as he remained in Washington DC to inexplicably vote against a $35 cap on insulin, was downright beaming as she screamed, “Democrats went from a chicken in every pot to a drag queen in every school,” and “Come November, we’re going to say bye bye to the Democrats and their drag queens,” and “Democrats say America is a hateful nation, a racist nation.”

What Ms. Paul delivered from start to finish was a loud, hate-filled, Donald Trump rally speech minus Mr. Trump. Where were the jokes? Is this what masquerades as humor in 2022?

Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles opened his speech with the words, “Kelly Paul, wasn’t she amazing?” seemingly making this choice on the fly, so I wondered if Comm. Quarles heard humor that I’d somehow missed? Was it “amazing,” Comm. Quarles, to hear a senator’s wife punch down on Kentucky’s already-marginalized communities?

Back in class, we were taught that punching down was off limits. This was, in fact, the greatest sin you could commit in Keillor’s class, who taught us by example how to punch up. After a Feb. 2006 incident in which Dick Cheney shot his friend, Harry Whittington, while quail hunting on a Texas ranch, Keillor practiced his own potential zingers on us as if to say, “this way, this is how it’s done.” And we laughed until our cheeks hurt.

By the time we got to State Rep. Savannah Maddox’s Fancy Farm speech, the lack of laughter was deafening. “But let’s not forget what we’re really here to fight for,” she said, mirroring earlier comments by Ms. Paul, “the chance to dethrone Andy Beshear, the governor who shut down our state, closed schools, and harassed church-goers on Easter Sunday. I was standing up to the tyrant from day one.”

Was there a zinger in there somewhere? Did I miss it? Rep. Maddox went for the governor, the powerful, in her speech, but I suspect Keillor would have written on her paper in red ink as he’d written on mine: Not funny, just mean, you missed the beat.

In the end, it was not so much one line or one speech that stood out at Fancy Farm, it was the overall tone on a GOP-crowded stage. Fancy Farm is no longer about clever zingers and good old southern humor. As Western Kentucky native Jayne Waldrop, tweeted, “Wendell Ford was the king of zing. Just like everything else he has touched, McConnell ruined the spirit of the Fancy Farm picnic with his humorless brand of bused-in meanness.”

In the years after our class ended, I would often come across the jokes that Garrison Keillor had worked on in our class, and later perfected. Here is one of many: “Evidently some people were disappointed that Dick Cheney didn’t receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and believe me, I sympathize … face it, Mr. Obama is going to draw a bigger crowd than Mr. Cheney would have. When a man has shot somebody in the face with a shotgun, people are going to be reluctant to line up en masse in his presence lest he get excited again.” 

While we don’t expect our politicians to be professional humorists, this is the tone of the humor we expect from Fancy Farm. The gentle, obvious jab. The easy laugh. We did not get it, and I suspect Ms. Waldrop is right, that those days are over.

The Fancy Farm we knew is dead, and it is the mean-spiritedness of our GOP officeholders and candidates — the men and women who represent us — that killed it.

For Grady

For my birthday next wk, I will be matching donations up to $5,000 to help Camp Jean, a 501c3 rescue specializing in very needy dogs like Grady, who arrived yesterday with a gunshot wound to the face.

Please donate if you can by clicking HERE.

You might recall that Camp Jean is where we found our senior rescue, Abigail. They plucked her out of an overflowing shelter where she was scared, skinny, shy and deaf, with heart worms and hookworms. Today, Abigail is the happiest, sweetest dog in our house (don’t tell our other dogs ;).

And here is Grady last night post-surgery, all tucked in and loved.

Thank you thank you thank you for your support of this incredible organization here in my little Kentucky town. It takes all of us.

Letter to The Anderson News — Agritourism, Facts and Questions

In his June 13 opinion column, Editor Ben Carlson of The Anderson News opined on agritourism and Chris and Melissa Hanks’s wedding venue.

These are the facts:

The Hanks’s Conditional Use Permit, dated 6/15/17, describes their business as: Event & Wedding Barn, Agri-Tourism Building in an I-1 (Light Industrial) Zoning District.

The permit reads, during discussion, “Chairman Olszowy recommended that the application be amended to a request for agri-tourism use in an I-1 zoning district. He stated that agri-tourism encompassed many uses,” and then “a motion was made by Jeff Sauer, seconded by Jim Doss, to grant the conditional use permit to allow an agri-tourism use in an I-1 zoning district.”

Fast forward to April 21, 2022. The Fiscal Court’s Agritourism Committee held a meeting. I attended this public meeting and recall a lengthy discussion about agritourism in general and committee members drafting suggested parking language.

The official minutes bear this out, reading, in part: “under Agritourism Parking we want to add 1) For purposes permitted by right under the agricultural district, parking facilities may be located on a grass or gravel lot. 2) For uses permitted under special use permit parking may be either gravel or paved as determined by the Planning Commission.”

Based on these facts, there are obvious questions.

For The Anderson News editor: What was the purpose of your June 13 column? What was newsworthy?

For the Fiscal Court: Has official language been prepared by an attorney? When will this be on the court’s agenda for a vote?

For our citizens: If this were your business, would you be inclined to spend thousands of dollars to pave your parking lot — after years of having it be a non-issue — knowing the rule could change, literally, any day?

Colonels of Truth

Last night I talked to Progress Kentucky about running for local office, this country’s addiction to guns, the January 6 committee, and what happens when small town churches insert themselves into politics.

You can listen by clicking here or on the image below. Conversation starts at the 33 min mark.

What the end of Roe v. Wade means for your daughters

**** My column for Sunday, July 10, print edition ***

The day before Roe v. Wade was overturned, I opened the door to a funeral home in Missouri and locked eyes with the man who molested me when I was a teenager. He was holding court by the guest book, so I slipped around back and spent the next hour, until he left, hugging and comforting friends, skirting the funeral parlor like an animal avoiding a known predator.

In recent days, a ten year-old rape victim in Ohio had to be sent out-of-state for an abortion because Ohio law would force her to give birth. Is this what parents dream of for their daughters? In Mississippi, House Speaker Philip Gunn declared that abortion is unacceptable, even if the victim is twelve and impregnated by her father or uncle, citing his “personal beliefs.”

Click here to continue reading.

I wake up thinking about guns

Our country is broken.

After the 4th of July mass shooting, I wrote about what it’s like to live regular, normal, everyday life in a place rooted in 2022 Trumpian gun culture. Click here to read.

Thanks, as always, for reading.