Free your mind, bring the kids

Facing mounting criticism over the Salem Witch Trials, William Phips, then colonial governor of Massachusetts, ordered on October 8, 1692, that spectral and intangible evidence be barred from admission in public trials. Fast-forward exactly 314 years to the corner of Front and L streets in Sacramento, and you will find a commemorative event celebrating this decision and the general principle of church and state separation otherwise known as the fifth annual Freedom of Thought Day.

This year’s event, which is operating under the theme “embrace reality,” runs from noon to 5 p.m. in Waterfront Park and is aimed at increasing the public profile of the area’s naturalist and secular communities. The event will feature musical performances, concessions and fun activities for the kids.

“The more events like this we do, and we are able to reach folks who can view secular individuals as reasonable folks and not with a horn and tail and pitchfork, it can be enlightening for a lot of people,” said Beverly Church, vice president of the Sacramento chapter for the American Humanist Association.

Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo has recognized October 8 as “Free Thought Day” for the last three years to the delight of its participants and to the uneasiness of some Sacramento faith-based organizations.

“[This country] was founded on Christian morals and values found in the Bible,” said Rodney Barlow, assistant superintendent of the Calvary Christian School in Sacramento. “More problems have come up because of a lack of religion in schools. So, we continue to say it needs to be separate, but having it ‘separate’ has actually been a true problem for society today, especially our young people.”

Static shock and awe

Amy Goodman, award-winning host of the national radio newsmagazine Democracy Now!, is coming to the Sacramento City College auditorium on October 7 as part of a national tour to promote her latest book, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, And the People Who Fight Back, which she co-authored with her brother. Goodman has made a career as an alternative source to a mainstream media that she insists are providing a dangerously narrow breadth of information to the public. “It’s absolutely critical we support media that is bringing us grassroots global information, [and] not that small circle of pundits in Washington who know so little about so much, explaining the world to us,” Goodman said.

“The drumbeat for war in the corporate media, the radio, television and the newspapers was such a disservice to a democratic society,” Goodman added. “It’s not acceptable because the lies take lives.”

The event begins at 3 p.m., and tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for KVMR-FM (89.5) radio-station members. Tickets are available online at www.kvmr.org or by phone at (530) 265-9073.

Dissin’ for tuition

Governor Schwarzenegger is facing a new front in his battle to retain office. “Flunk Arnold,” a new public campaign funded by the California Faculty Association, invites California State University students to make a 30-second video critical of the governor and his management of the CSU system. The latest video entered in the contest, which features a guy with a Schwarzenegger mask, a stolen bag of money and a questionable Austrian accent, is one of many the CFA hopes to receive before the contest’s October 18 deadline.

The winner of the contest will receive a year’s tuition at his or her CSU school as well as having his or her video featured as an ad during The Daily Show with Jon Stewart days before the November 7 election. “[The purpose of the campaign is] to call attention to Arnold’s mistreatment of the CSU system, to involve CSU students in the political process and to have a little fun,” said Nathan Ballard, spokesman for the campaign.

According to Schwarzenegger’s campaign office, the CFA misstates the governor’s record on higher education. “This year, the governor held the line on all tuition increases at the CSUs and UCs and decreased community-college fees by 23 percent,” said Amanda Fulkerson, regional press secretary for Californians for Schwarzenegger.

For more information, go to www.flunkarnold.com.

—Luke Gianni