Does the Sun-Sentinel Hate Atheists? | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Does the Sun-Sentinel Hate Atheists?

Could the Sun-Sentinel's corporate overlords at Tribune Co. please explain why Barbara Hijek has a job? Could they please explain why a paper at which honest-to-goodness investigative reporters and serious editorialists were not long ago pressured into accepting a series of increasingly crappy buyouts is still ceding valuable front-page real estate to Hijek's odious blog, "FloriDUH," which exists to trivialize and make unfunny punch lines about serious and/or tragic news stories?

And why the hell is Hijek making snide comments about atheists? To my knowledge, atheists haven't made any snide comments about overemployed, undertalented bloggers. It seems unfair.

Today, the title of Hijek's blog was "Atheist woman charged with simulating sex act." Its target was Lakelander Ellenbeth Wachs. Wachs is legal coordinator of Atheists of Florida, and she was arrested Sunday for, ahem, "simulating sex acts in the presence of a 10-year-old boy." Which sounds bad, right?

Actually: Ellenbeth Wachs was inside her house. The kid was outside. He was playing basketball -- noisily, I assume -- and she wanted him to stop. So she made sex noises.

This is a weird tactic and not the one I'd employ. (I subscribe to the "Keep it down out there or I'll thump you" school of noisy basketball management.) But what if Ellenbeth had been having actual sex and just happened to be a screamer? Have you, dear reader, ever been with a screamer? Before consummating, did you scan the area around your home for errant 10-year-olds?

Probably not. (Most partners are scared off when a prospective lover initiates a precoital scan for prepubescents. It's a mood killer.) And since nobody does so, I assume this charge is almost certain to be dropped, just like the charge on which Wachs was arrested in March.

This twist in the story is one that Barbara Hijek elides -- she's just after a quick larf -- but let's go into it anyway. Ellenbeth Wachs is an attorney. As legal coordinator of Atheists of Florida, she has to write lots of letters. She is apparently in the habit of signing these letters "Esq.," as attorneys are wont to do.

Still, that "Esq." led to Wachs' arrest for impersonating an attorney. Why? Because she's retired.

Now Wachs has been arrested twice in three months -- the first time for appending her correspondence with three particular letters, the second time for having what sounded like sex in her own home. Which would be merely tragic and weird if it weren't for this complicating factor: For over a year, Wachs has been spearheading Atheists of Florida's efforts to moderate the overly cozy relationship between the churches and the governments of Polk County. (You can read about these battles here.) Suffice it to say: Wachs is profoundly unpopular in Lakeland and even less popular with the local fuzz.

So: Presented with a fair amount of circumstantial evidence that a Floridian is being targeted because of her civic activism and lack of religion and presented with a very clear case of law enforcement rudely violating a woman's right to sexual privacy, what does Barbara Hijek write?

FloriDUH's Headquarter's [sic] burning question: Do atheists ever gasp 'Oh God!' during sex?

Yes, Barbara Hijek, we do. Thanks for asking! Since we're on the subject, what do you gasp during sex?
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