Sometimes, the Pulp likes to do its civic and professional duties. FIU prof Neil Reisner asked that I share this with you. It actually looks interesting, like something upstanding and professional journalists ought to consider attending. I don't know about the boot camp schtick though. They've been getting a bad rap in Florida ever since that kid in Bay County got, you know, killed and all.
BEACHES & BYTES Computer-Assisted Reporting Bootcamp Comes to Miami, April 23-28 Register today - spots will fill quickly.
Please join IRE, NICAR and Florida International University on April 23-28 for this unique computer-assisted reporting seminar that will show you how to acquire electronic information, use spreadsheets and databases to analyze the information and translate that information into high-impact stories. In addition, NICAR will provide follow-up help when participants return to their news organizations. This six-day session is modeled on the Boot Camps we offer at the Missouri School of Journalism. The session will be led by IRE Training Director David Donald and Neil Reisner, associate professor at FIU, and will take place at FIU's Biscayne Bay campus.
For more information and to register, please see: http://www.ire.org/training/floridabc05.html
To access a PDF of a flyer for the session to print out and help spread the word, please see: http://www.ire.org/training/Beaches&Bytes.pdf
The Bible Made Him Do It
I was profoundly affected by the stories about the father who beat his daughter in the name of God. As Teresa Lane tells us in the Palm Beach Post, Michael Bilodeau regularly belted his 12-year-old daughter for such things as "using slang and not accepting Jesus in her heart." When he sent her to like-minded Christians in Port St. Lucie, he would listen on speaker phone while they spanked the girl.
You probably know by now that the Pulp champions the children. So I felt compelled to investigate this case further. My first stop was in Coral Springs at the Bilodeau household. Lane reported that the girl's mother was an "Internet addict." I wanted to interview the woman to see what exactly was going wrong.
So I drove out to Coral Springs and, when I came to the house, knew this was going to get weird. It was a very old and very small clapboard number with a white picket fence around it. It looked flat-out eerie out there in the middle of the cookie-cutter spraburbs. I knocked on the door and it opened on its own. Calling out to anyone inside, I peered into the home, which was dimly lit. The windows were all covered. Suddenly a middle-aged woman with big red frizzy hair appeared. She was wearing a large white house dress. I told her who I was and she invited me inside as if she expected me. I asked about her daughter.
"Witch," she said. "Got Satan's power."
Then she started to ramble.
"He took me with the stink of filthy roadhouse whiskey on his breath," she said. "We slept in the same bed, but we never did it. And then, that night, I saw him looking down at me that way. We got down on our knees to pray for strength. I smelled the whiskey on his breath. Then he took me. He took me. And I liked it. I liked it! With all that dirty touching of his hands all over me. I was weak and backsliding, and now the devil has come home. We'll pray."
Before I knew it I was on my knees and she was preaching about Christ's blood and salvation. Needless to say, this was becoming one of the strangest interviews of my life. I didn't really know what she was talking about. I tried to ask her about her husband, but she interrupted me and looked dead in my eyes.
"Pimples are the Lord's way of chastising you," she said almost matter-of-factly.
Of course they are, but what was strange was that I hadn't had a pimple in many years. Then she started mumbling something about being able to see my "dirty pillows." By this time, I was just trying to fight a primitive impulse to run from that house.
"Take off that dress," she said. "We'll burn it together."
Good readers, I wasn't wearing a dress. It was more a kilt-type thing. Anyway, I started toward to the door.
"Go to the closet and pray!" she ordered.
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I quickened my pace. Did she have a ... was that a knife?
"They're all gonna laugh at you!" she screamed as I bolted out the door.
When I got back to the safety of my own home, I realized that I had managed to shoot this black-and-white grainy photograph just before I got away. It's the only proof I have that that nightmare ever happened.