When it comes to ROCK, always read the theocratic fine print.


I can’t deny that Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana (ROCK) has been playing its public relations hand rather skillfully of late.

Granted, railing against the sinfulness of a wicked society is a guaranteed crowd pleaser here in the non-ironic wasteland of the Bible Belt, and yet you may have noticed the subtle shift of tactics, in that ROCK’s public position with reference to that most venerable of regional smut-peddling bogey men, Theatair X, has focused not on fire and brimstone, but on demanding that Clarksville’s town council merely enforce its own laws.

Gads — where have you heard that one before?

Just imagine the results if ROCK’s “soldiers” chose to extend their perimeter of code enforcement advocacy beyond largely imaginary and divisive “culture wars,” and instead work toward “building stronger communities and families” by bringing unaccountable slumlords to heel through existing ordinances?

Churches don’t own rental properties, do they? There has to be a catch. But I digress.

Addressing the topic of code enforcement and Theatair X, the Courier’s Dale Moss today extracts a priceless morsel of wisdom from town council president Paul Kraft, who responds to ROCK’s ordinance enforcement gambit by telling the columnist, “We are enforcing our laws as we see fit as a town.”

Ouch – or, as in the case of New Albany, as they don’t see fit, and haven’t seen fit since long before many of us were born … if ever.

Here’s the column: ROCK throws stones in fight for decency, by Dale Moss.

Alas, as Yogi Berra allegedly noted, “It’s déjà vu all over again,” because it’s been almost a year since NAC examined the implications of One Southern Indiana’s befuddled endorsement of a previous ROCK anti-Theatair X publicity set piece, which raised the important question of whether 1SI’s leadership understood that ROCK’s conceptual foundation ranges somewhat beyond its anti-pornography mission, into what 1SI’s Michael Dalby described as “corollary issues” in the statement he eventually released for publication.*

… Our role is business development and we must evaluate impediments to business growth in Clark and Floyd Counties …

… As to any other agenda pursued by ROCK, it is not One Southern Indiana’s role in the community to take stances on social issues. But I agree with your “slippery slope” statement – it is risky to take a step into a portion of an issue and not become immersed in all the corollary issues.

Unfortunately, columnist Moss makes precisely the same mistake as Kerry Stemler, Dalby and 1SI did last year, because he neglect to peer past ROCK’s latest front-page press release into the back pages of what the organization’s fascination with creating “culture wars” straw men and bashing them into kindling with theocratic precepts. As clearly stated at ROCK’s web site:

ROCK is a non-profit organization that exists to defend and sustain the Judeo-Christian principles upon which our country was founded.

Nothing about pornography in that passage, is there? Undeniably, the pervasive threat of sex businesses is a prime source of concern as one further peruses ROCK’s web site, although intriguingly, these multiple areas of concern have been pared by almost half since last year (see list below). Still, a significant leitmotif remains, as in ROCK’s opposition to, “efforts to push expressions of faith out of the public arena,” something that is both spurious and irrelevant to the existence of Theatair X.

As I asked during the ROCK/1SI imbroglio last year:

What does ROCK’s theocratic advocacy have to do with economic development, and why is Stemler giving 1SI’s imprimatur to a very specific and exclusionary Christian advocacy group?

1SI at least made an effort to recognize the existence of the “slippery slope,” and perhaps that is part of the reason for the new, legalistic bent of ROCK’s strategy. But it remains a specific and exclusionary Christian advocacy group, and I will continue to bait the theocrats among us by pointing to the conduciveness of keeping church and state separate. Theatair X has been in business for 40 years and survived all manner of challenges based on wickedness as defined by Christianity, and perhaps there’s a reason for that, one that is of more importance than the store’s intrinsic tastelessness.

In America, tastelessness is in the eye of the credit card holder; more significantly, our freedoms of speech and expression trump the desire of theocrats to escort me to the religious standpoint of their choice.

Neither the media nor government should give theocrats a free pass.


* extensive Dalby/1SI/ROCK bibliography here


In December, 2007, ROCK’s “Areas of Concern” as listed on its website were these:

The moral decline in our culture
Growth of sexually oriented businesses
Pornography and obscenity
Efforts to push expressions of faith out of the public arena
Attacks on marriage
Culture of death (abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, etc.)
Humanism and relativism

As of December, 2008, the last three have been omitted, although the “culture war” reference below remains intact.