Friday, June 10, 2005

Thoughts on a Pryor meeting

William Pryor, who entered the field of law so he could work against the ACLU, graduated from Tulane University Law School in 1987, the same year I graduated from the Tulane School of Social Work. The two programs had the same relationship as the TSSW and the Tulane School of Public Health--you could get a dual master's/juris doctor degree covering both of them. Social work students were also required to know the laws that affected their work, and the field of mediation--new at the time--involved both attorneys and social workers. Some social workers also went on to become attorneys, and vice versa.

For all I know, I may have parked next to Pryor, strolled along the campus next to him, or browsed in the university bookstore in the same aisle as he. At any rate, it was a quick walk from my building to his, but an entire galaxy existed between our worlds.

My training was in clinical social work (i.e., I am a psychotherapist), and clinical social workers are trained a bit differently from psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, and other mental health professionals. It is constantly drummed into our heads that we are not looking at the person, but at "the person within the environment." You get tired of hearing this when you are in school, but once you begin practicing, you see your clients' mental health as influenced by not only their brain chemistry and their childhood experiences (though still the most important factors), but also their workplace, community, church, and ethnic and gender cultures.

On a given week, I see people who are demeaned at their workplace, shamed by their church leaders, abused by their partners or spouses, and betrayed by law enforcement officials. As a civil libertarian and activist, I want them to take action. As a psychotherapist, I can only mention that taking action is one way of handling the problem, and let them decide what is best for them. At the very least, I can validate their feelings of betrayal and rage.

Such different paths we took, William Pryor and I. He opposed the Violence Against Women Act on the grounds that it "violated states' rights." He worked to uphold the Texas sodomy law, (used only as a means to discriminate against gay citizens), tried to have a man with an IQ of 64 executed, and supported Judge Roy Moore in his attempt to display a giant rendering of The Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse. Pryor was also opposed to state workers being able to sue the state for damages over violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

In stating that his goal is to "fight the ACLU," Pryor--like so many Americans who are too ignorant and/or bigoted to know better--is fighting against the freedoms that are supposedly hated by dark foreigners with colorful headpieces. It is the Pryors and the Ashcrofts and the Frists and the DeLays who not only hate us for our freedoms, but who engage in a war against them every day of the year.


Well done. Nicely connected. Personal and political. Love it. You too.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:49 PM  

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By Blogger Sour Duck, at 12:28 AM  

Great post! I loved learning a bit more about you, and reading about Tulane University.

By Blogger Sour Duck, at 12:31 AM  

My thanks to both of you.

By Blogger Diane, at 11:47 AM  

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