Saturday, February 15, 2014


Column: Movie, hate-bill timing divine


I wholeheartedly disagree with atheists. There simply must be a God.

What else but divine intervention could explain the accidental, pluperfect timing of the release of “Jayhawkers,” Kevin Willmott’s film centered on the racial climate in Lawrence when Wilt Chamberlain came to town?

In the most powerful scenes in the black-and-white film, Wilt is refused service at a diner and told he had to sit in the balcony at a movie theater.

The film premiered Friday night in the Lied Center, one day after the House branch of the Kansas Legislature approved bill 2453, which enables citing religious beliefs to deny goods and services to same-sex couples.

The House passed the hate bill two days before Valentine’s Day, a holiday manufactured to celebrate love.

I watched a screening of the film, which airs today at Lied Center at 11 a.m., 7 and 9 p.m. and Sunday (1, 4, 7 p.m.). If you’re the type who likes to nitpick historical inaccuracies, have at it, but you’ll miss the point. The point is that KU Chancellor Franklin Murphy was the right person to occupy a chair of influence when such a popular black figure came to town. Murphy used Wilt’s presence to speed up integration in Lawrence.

Kansas reserve center Justin Wesley does an admirable job of portraying Wilt. I feared that being new to the art, he might over-act. Not so. I also feared there would be an attempt to recreate games, as too often is the case in Hollywood. Instead, Willmott borrowed the “Raging Bull” technique of tight shots and liberal use of slow-motion. Nice touch. All the while, the music of Nathan Davis, Wilt’s college buddy, played, jazzing up the movie. Really nice touch.

I was delighted to meet the real Davis, not the actor who portrayed him, Thursday night at 715, where I dined with my Valentine. Wilt used to play the bongo drums with Davis.

“He wasn’t a pro, but he was good,” said Davis, retired from 43 years as director of music at University of Pittsburgh. “He had good rhythm. He could play with you and not mess you up.”

Davis also said, “We didn’t call him Wilt the Stilt. We called him String Bean because he was so skinny. And he wasn’t 7-feet yet. He was probably about 6-9, 6-91⁄2. He grew when he was here.”

In many ways, Lawrence has grown. Being part of the state of Kansas at a time when some politicians outside of Douglas County seem to have lost their minds and hearts, Lawrence is in danger of shrinking, lest the state Senate kill the hate bill, as it appears now that it will.


Jonathan Allison 2 months ago

Come on LJW! This article would have had 400 comments by now if not for the new Facebook link policy. Heck, commenting probably would have had to be disabled days ago!


Billy Gibbons 2 months ago

What the hell? For the first time ever, Missouri stands up on the right side of history while Kansas backslides a few decades onto the wrong side.


Mike Ford 2 months ago

Since I saw this movie today and I grew up in Louisiana in the 1970's with ex relatives in Mississippi who were cut from the "Segregation now and forever" cloth I feel empirically qualified to speak about injustices committed on the basis of race and gender. I watched Jayhawkers today surrounded by a primarily White audience. It's says something when people have to go to see a movie because they didn't know this went on in Lawrence. It's like when White people went up to Indians in the audience at "Dances With Wolves" and asked Native people in the audience, "Did That Really happen?". Ironically a couple of years ago Mr. Wilmott made a movie, "The Good Indian" about the horrors of abuse and cultural genocide at places like Haskell a century ago. Had White people learned and listened from that movie maybe they'd understand why the South Lawrence Trafficway is so offensive to Native peoples. Your culture put Indian children in military schools to drill the Indian out of them and made them build those levees under duress and now it's okay to slander their suffering and build a road through it. So American. To this movie, federal law, and the LGBT discrimination issue. It took federal laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make states behave and respect all people... not just White people. The 14th Amendment provides equal protection and access under the law. The 14th Amendment applies to anyone not allowed access or protection under the law. When I hears states rights mentioned I hear racism. I told that genius Tea Party candidate Terry Lois Gregory this at a debate a couple of years ago. The 14th Amendment is knee capping state gay marriage bans as we speak. Furthermore Gay people were in the Nazi Concentration Camps with the Jewish and Romani (Gypsy) during World War II. I grit my teeth when I hear uninformed people speak of freedoms being denied by government....which government? I wouldn't be publically proud my ignorance. I would change my ways if someone publically chided me for being publically intolerant of minorities.


Titus Canby 2 months ago

Several issues here:

  1. What ever happened to unbiased journalism? "Hate bill?" Tom, I'm disappointed to see that you've joined the rest of lemmings who are boiling this bill down to something it's not.

  2. Let's do our research. Read the bill. It doesn't say that a business like McDonalds' can refuse to sell a hamburger to someone. It's written very narrowly, and applies solely to privately owned professional services such as photographers, bakeries, and inns being able to refuse to provide those professional services to gay marriages without being sued. Please, let's get our facts straight.

  3. The Tea Party is not a religious or anti-gay organization. On the contrary. It's been criticized by these organizations for not being on their side.

  4. My opinion? I seriously believe that if people did their research instead of believing and spouting hate-mongering rhetoric - on both sides of many issues such as this - this world would be a better place.


Danny Hernandez 2 months ago

IF you serve the public as a business, THEN you serve all of the public. IF you want to be a private club, then you can serve whom you want.


Eric Mitchell 2 months ago

Priests/pastors/rabbis/ etc. have the right to deny same sex couples if they are following their religious beliefs. Likewise, same-sex couples have the right to marry in some form (government- separation of church and state). As a catholic, I believe my priest has the right to respectfully deny marriage. A homosexual can go to church and receive all but two sacraments. If a couple can legally marry in some capacity than that's a good compromise.


John Pritchett 2 months ago

If a doctor is morally opposed to abortion, should he or she be compelled to provide that service to a patient? It's the exact same situation. It has nothing to do with discrimination, it has to do with right of conscience. And discrimination against religious belief is just as bad as discrimination against race or sex. We have enjoyed a complete freedom to act according to our personally formed conscience, and now people like Rodney and others on this site are quick to trample that right, mostly, it would seem, out of a desire to feel superior for having been "on the right side of history". Just be careful not to trample the rights of some in an effort to protect the rights of others. It is always a balancing act in a society. It doesn't make me an evil person for believing that religious freedom and rights of conscience are at least as important as a person's consumer rights.

A significant difference between the discrimination of the civil rights era and the "discrimination" by some business owners against homosexual couples is the fact that serving food to a black person was not against anyone's moral beliefs. Is it too much to ask for a homosexual couple to go to another place of business to get what they need, rather than force a person to act against his or her conscience? What purpose is there in forcing a person to do your will against his or her conscience accept to punish that person for his or her beliefs?

This has nothing to do with whether or not you or I personally agree with these beliefs. They are religious beliefs and they aught to be protected. If we evolve into a country where such is not the case, even if we do evolve into a country where homosexuality is openly accepted, we have a net loss. We can achieve both the protection of religious belief and personal rights to choose one's own lifestyle. That should be our goal.

Oh, and btw, heck of a game by the boys today! RCJH!

  • Phogdog

Rodney Crain 2 months ago

Pot calling the kettle back Matt, reread your own posts. Wrong again Matt!


Eric Baker 2 months ago

Great article, Tom!

For everyone else trying to defend the bill, replace the word "gay" with "black" and if it now seems like what you're saying is racist, then your original comment was homophobic.

It really makes me sad seeing so much hate from people claiming to be fans, or even graduates, of KU. Kansas was once a progressive state, and the name "jayhawk" has long been a symbol of defending the rights of minorities. Although over the last 100 years our state has turned into an entity that promotes discrimination rather than fights it, I always thought Lawrence and the University of Kansas was the region's last bastion of progressive attitude, a place where "Free State" was more than just a title you stick in front of you business's name. It's disgraceful how the University is being represented my many.


Kyle Sybesma 2 months ago

Tom - If you voice your opinion I'll voice mine. This law is in favor of freedom. The U.S. is a place for all to make choices of our own. Good or bad. Those choices should not be legislated based on others opinion of what is right or wrong. We in America get the freedom to be stupid. And that's a good thing.

I live in Colorado. A place we all know we are free to partake in marijuana. I voted for it but I don't participate in it. I'm in favor of freedom of choice. We also had a bakery FORCED to provide a cake to a gay wedding. Government force is a bad thing. A business should be free to operate in any manor they see fit. If you don't like it don't do business with them. If they don't get business because of it they'll go out of business or they'll change. No government necessary.

Just because your religion does not agree with homosexuality does not equate to hatred.


Doug Merrill 2 months ago

Tom, well done! There are some tremendous posters by religious and secular readers here in remarkable agreement about the error of bigotry. There also some very sad opinions that explain why this world's people continue to kill and impoverish others based entirely on the fear borne of tribal mentality. What we can draw from this discussion is the lesson that no matter how wonderful the education offered to all, some remain rooted in fear and phobia. We can take hope from the others and from columns like this - change will happen!


Scott Bonnet 2 months ago

Matt, I have a very hard time imagining you graduated Yale. What the bill attempts to do is allow discrimination in public services and accommodations. Bigotry is bigotry no matter its basis.


Matt Glassman 2 months ago

Truly one of the worst columns of the year. The distinction between what the bill attempts to do (did you read it Keegan…?) and the unequal treatment of African Americans is plain to see for anyone willing to think. No one chooses the color of skin they are born with, but having a same-sex wedding IS a choice (notice I did not say having a same-sex attraction is a choice). No business owner should be forced against his religious convictions to participate in any way in any such ceremony he or shed considers immoral. The aim of the bill is not to give carte blanche to refuse service to people because they are gay (in most cases how would one even know?!?!?), but rather to protect business owners who do not want to participate in events which overtly contradict their conscience (primarily same sex weddings). Hopefully language is introduced into the bill as it passes through the Senate to clarify this.

Also, the bill was not introduced in a vacuum- cases in other states have resulted in business owners being fined and threatened with litigation and imprisonment, usually because they are targeted by gay activists. Feel free to google the cases of bakers in Oregon and Colorado, and a bed and breakfast in Vermont.

Keegan is about 50/50 on writing a decent sports column, I don't think I like his odds on social commentary based on this piece (...of hot garbage).


Joe Joseph 2 months ago

Spot on, Tom. Well said.


Shawn Otrimble 2 months ago

Hey, It's Kansas, where we party like it's 1899!!!!!


Fortesque Beagleton 2 months ago

If you believe being gay is a sin, then don't be gay. If you are anit-abortion then don't have an abortion. If you love guns, have some. If you hate taxes, don't pay them. If you want to speak out, then speak out.

This is America. Your freedoms are protected. Congratulations.

If you want to be gay, be gay. If you want to have an abortion, have one. If you hate guns, don't own any. If you feel it's your civic duty to pay taxes, pay them. If you want to speak out, then speak out.

This is America. Your freedoms are protected. Congratulations.


Jeff Schartz 2 months ago

I secretly get to discriminate against anyone I want to. That is my right. Nobody on this planet can tell me what to do or think, that is also my God given right. Now, with that being said, I must also suffer the consequences of those beliefs. If I openly hate teenagers because they are wreckless and loud, then I may get beaten up by those same teenagers that I might profess to be angered by. That is called consequential justice. Every action has it's reaction. That is the nature of our world. Political correctness is merely a system of "checks-and-balances", nothing more. So, if people are openly against something, who has the right to tell them they can't be? You? No. Me? Absolutely not. If somebody hates me for no reason, that is their right. BUT, we (you and I), do NOT have the right to commit violence against one another.
Now that I have said that, I just want to say that each and every one of us should look inside our own hearts, and always try to better ourselves, so that we can make the world a wonderful place for future generations. But, hate comes from all sides. And those that profess to others to "tone down" the hate, should act accordingly. The prejudices here are ironic.


Josh Galler 2 months ago

I have a cousin who is the Gay Lifestyle and they have twins. They are alike for any other traditional family. They would like the same benefits, it is the American way. They are also very religious in their Jewish faith, and their Synagogue accepts them. Mine would too, and my Synagogue is a conservative religious beliefs, while theirs is reform beliefs. There are many in our two places of worship does not believe in their lifestyle, but we treat them respect, friends with them, goto games with them, goto kids events with them, and so forth, Many may not agree what they do in their private life which that is fine. I do not agree with it, but I do agree they should have the same rights. Some help with technology you may be using, some may playing sports that you love to follow and help that team win a championship. Some may save your lives in the Hostpital or give you CPR to save your life. if you know your nurse that save your life and found out somehow that she is Gay and then you sudden say I want someone else, give me a break, Int he Jewish faith, G-D judge you by Mitzvahs or Good deeds not by lifestyle


Terran Woolley 2 months ago

All I know is thank god that Bill died in the senate.


Steve Gantz 2 months ago

Comparing homosexuality to race is such a slap in the face to the millions of African Americans who suffered horribly in this country. I know a few gays have been killed and that is horrible, but discrimination or violence against them is practically non-existent in this country. But the gay lobby wants to be compared to African Americans for their own benefit.


Brett McCabe 2 months, 1 week ago

Politics, world events, social policy and sports do, at times, intersect. But it's not when the state of the union happens to be on the same night as a basketball game.

Michael Sam, Richie Incognito, Sochi and the anti-gay fervor in Russia, the Munich Olympics, Jesse Owens and many other examples all prove this. Keegan's point is an important one and for those of us who can't agree on right-wing vs. left-wing, one thing many of us could agree on is this: Keegan is dead-on in stating that this state is shrinking and that it is bringing down our beloved university in the process.

Most of you know that a hardcore Tea-Party vote denied funding for the new athletic dorms on campus. The state is intent on becoming a laughing-stock nationally and it can't be long before recruits take notice. Forget about basketball for a minute - Bill generally gets who Bill wants - think of every other sport at KU and the importance of positioning our university in the minds of potential recruits. We aren't South Carolina, we don't have a bevy of recruits in-state or nearby to rely on. Perception means something when you are trying to bring bright young minds and bodies to campus.

Lawrence was founded by progressive free-thinking, free-staters from New England. The university was founded by many of these same people. KU is now surrounded by a swamp of simple-minded legislators who will surely continue to do damage to our university and our Jayhawks.

For those of us who are in-state, maybe it's time to stop voting red or blue but to start voting Crimson and Blue. For those of you elsewhere, perhaps some well-worded communications with our legislators on behalf of Old KU would help.


Scott Bonnet 2 months, 1 week ago

Jesse, unless you think we should discriminate against all "sinners" I find your comments hypocritical. Should I be able to deny service to bankers? They charge usury after. What about pork or shellfish eaters? People who don't honor their parents? People that covet? This insistence about focusing on one so-called "sin" is ridiculous. Unless you can show me that you apply this same standard of discrimination across the board, you are a bigot.


Joe Ross 2 months, 1 week ago

For those who think sports and social commentary should never intersect, I ask you to consider Jackie Robinson's breaking the color barrier and other such stories. Sometimes, perhaps more often than we think we know, politics and athletics do convolve themselves. As a matter of personal faith, I take my lead from the Bible. Following your faith in good conscience is NOT the same as hate. However, I would hasten to add several things. First, that I'm troubled at how Christians often cherry-pick issues. If you see homosexuality as a sin, then be equally as revolted by adultery, premarital sex, and the like. Secondly, I detest discrimination in any form. Personal belief is a private matter. Denying access is quite a public one. And finally, I have no doubt that most gays and lesbians have genetic, hormonal predispositions toward their lifestyle. People may argue, "God wouldn't create someone as gay if it were against His commandments to be so." But they fail to remember that there are genetic predispositions to alcoholism, angry temper, and a host of pathologic disorders of the body. The point is that if you believe the Bible, man is fallen and we are all tainted with a nature that now struggles against God's original design, and each one of us bears the marks of that fallen condition in our flesh. Point being, if you are against homosexuality, at the very least you should consider that scientific evidence shows most are born that way (I happen to believe that genetic predispositions do not lock you in to a pattern of behavior, but it is certainly much more difficult to overcome vs. someone who is not predisposed). And for me, Christian charity means NOT discriminating. On the other hand, I wouldn't be too quick to paint everyone opposed to gay rights as full of "hate". Just because someone disagrees with a lifestyle choice does not mean they harbor ill-will towards an individual.


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