I wanted to stay away from the Terri Schiavo case. Really. But then I read a column in the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel that really ground this proud bastadette’s gears.

“Conservative” syndicated talk radio bloviator Glenn Beck, on a show broadcast March 15, the article claimed, referred to Michael Schiavo’s children by his fiance Jodi Centonze as “bastard children.” Whoa! Nelly!

These are small children. Very small: 2 1/2 years and 1 year old. Does Mr. Beck really believe that it’s OK to call toddlers a name which is traditionally considered a dirty word–especially by rightwingers of his ilk? You bet! When called on his boorish behavior, Beck responded, “I’d feel real terrible about calling them that if I wasn’t so technically correct.”

If you think I’m exaggerating–that the pious ghouls gathered down at the Woodside Hospice would never talk like that about arrows to the future–children, that is– like they belonged in a separate part of town away from good clean-livin’ folks, then think again. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Mr. Schiavo has received dozens of hate letters, some threatening the lives of his “bastards,” no doubt written by the same zealots who never met a fetus they didn’t think should be adopted and are currently running around in front of TV cameras with cups of water and bowls of tinfoil balls.

Now, to tell you the truth, I’m not familiar with Glenn Beck. (Bastardette’s interest in right-wing radio pundits is limited to an unfortunate prolonged crush on G. Gordon Liddy in the 1980s.) It had never occurred to me until a few days ago that verbally beating up small children–or threatening to kill them– is part of the traditional family values party platform. So I wondered if Beck were just an aberration or if it really is considered acceptable nowadays to backhand children over the “sins” of their parents (fundie fondness for wooden spoons and generational demons and curses aside).

Because google is Bastardette’s friend, I did a quick surf on “Schiavo + bastard” and other permutations. I got thousands of hits. Most led to blogs and comments where Michael Schiavo, Randall Terry, Jeb Bush, Patrick Mahoney, George Bush, Tom DeLay, Flip Benham, the Schindlers, the US Supreme Court and assorted other gasbags in this national embarassment were called “#*&%%*#@ bastards” But wedged between those internet “pundits” and big mouths were a small group of Freepers and other malcontents found, especially on “patriotic” lists, gleefully referring to the Centonze-Schiavo children as “bastards.” (Note: I didn’t even attempt to tackle Internet news groups. The task seemed too daunting last night)

Here’s a sample (typos and grammatical errors included):

Free Republic:
Her only crime is having a ghoulish areshole for a “husband.” I use husband in quotes because, according to the marriage vows, the contract became null and void when he entered into a shack job with another woman and sired two bastards.

Right Nation
A promise…. like being a faithful and honest husband in sickness and in healt. Or did your sex drive get in the way of faithfulness because she got sick? Jack hole. Yeah, you’ve been there every step of the way….along with your hoaring mistress and b@st@rd kids out of wedlock.

Liberty Post
Why hasn’t this dirt bag divorced Terri and move on with his life ( a couple of bastards and a common law wife) and let her parents look after her?

Terry’s parents have repeatedly pleaded with Schiavo to divorce their daughter, because it would give them the necessary legal standing to petition the court to become Terry’s permanent guardians, but Michael Schiavo refuses, even though it would free him to live unencumbered with his common-law wife of ten years and their two bastard children.

AKA Mike Horshead
A man can shack up with a honey, sire two bastards, & folks STILL think he is a caring husband.

Media Line Open Line
Her husband Michael benefits financially if she dies. Otherwise, he would have dismissed her into the care of her loving family and married Jodi Centonze, the mother of his bastard child.

Now, Bastard Nation has taken its share of hits over its name, but adult adoptees have the personal autonomy and ability to identify themselves as bastards if they so desire. We use “bastard” to reclaim language and personal histories without shame. We use “bastard” as a term of empowerment. The name Bastard Nation, particularly, implies a cultural and political community rooted in the shared experience of state-sanctioned identity and genealogy erasure, adoption secrecy, stigma, and shame. Children, have no such self-defining options nor any sustaining community in which to act politically. They are subject to the hostile whims and threats of strangers bereft of good manners, much less common decency, who think nothing of using babies as bludgeons in their ideological the-only right-is-the right-to-life skulldruggery currently afoot in Pinellas Park.

It is no coincidence that the self-righteous gang that sickeningly calls the Centonze-Schiavo children bastards are the same ones who flinch when the word bastard is used to empower adult adoptees–or worse yet–demand the state hand-over our identity records. We are all the same to them: the bad seeds of bad people who need to be kept on the wrong side of town, stuffed into locked filing cabinets, and used only to prop up their own amoral egos.

Which brings us back to Glenn Beck for a minute. A year ago, Mr. Beck, a loud opponent of abortion, hoaxed his audience by announcing he would broadcast the audio of an abortion, which riled up the pro-choicers to no end–though one can only wonder what an audio of an abortion would sound like unless being performed with a pair of pliers and a hacksaw on the kitchen table of a Carmelite convent. In the end, the “abortion” turned out to be a clip from Al Franken’s Air America show, Beck calling it “the biggest abortion on the radio.”

Defending his ratings trick Beck says on his webpage that it was all about adoption not abortion. “My wife and I are trying to adopt. I was told it could be two years before I could adopt a baby. For every [available] baby, there are 25 people like me waiting. I didn’t want people to look at this intellectually or spiritually. I wanted them to feel the answer they had come up with. It made no difference whether it was pro-choice or pro-life. When you feel it, it becomes internalized and you really know where you stand.”

One can assume that PAP (potential adoptive parent) Glenn Beck, if he does adopt, will adopt a bastard. Will he rear that child to “internalize” his or her bastardy (if it’s good for the goose….) by using the word as a term of paternal endearment? If some Freeper takes exception to Mr. Beck’s radio show someday and complains about the “Beck bastard” over on the Free Republic page will Beck think it over intellectually and spiritually and welcome the assessment as “technically correct” or might he take umbrage? Afterall, Baby Beck, unlike the Centonze-Schiavo children, would no longer be tainted by its biological parent’s moment of muskrat love; instead it would be relieved of unpleasant labels thrown around by Mr. Beck and his ideological friends.

We have no objection whatsoever to Mr. Beck’s vilification of Mr. Schiavo, but when it comes to children–leave them alone.

5 Replies to “WHAT’S IN A NAME–part 2”

  1. It is questionable whether Beck’s use of the word is technically corrrect in the U.S. today. The primary meaning of the word is “illegitimate”, a term of little legal consequence.

    The concept of legitimacy has its roots at least as far back as Rome, where its principal role was in determining inheritance, and comes to us by way of England, where it may have gained its religious implications.

    Roman law provided for the “cure” of bastardy by the subsequent marriage of the parents. England, however, had other ideas:

    “But to the childe borne out of matrimonye, the lawe of Englande alloweth no succession, affirmynge it to be naturall onely and not lawfull [because] the sinne of the firste carnal accion [premarital coitus] … is not purged by the matrimonie ensuynge … whiche doth not onelye judge the childe so gotten to be illegittimate but also prohibiteth it to succede in the parents inheritance… specially in the roialme of England where the eldest sonne only enjoieth the fathers inheritance. (Fol. 90r, 90v, 93r, 94r)”


    Beck’s use of the word no doubt was intended to convey the latter message to the religously narrow-minded in his audience, as an attack on the sinner Michael Schiavo. In more contemporary terms, the children were merely collateral damage.

  2. Dear Basdardette,
    Found (via technorati) that you had linked to me regarding calling Mike Schivo’s offspring as ‘bastards’. Now I grew up being told that if you were born while your parents weren’t married, you were a bastard until your parents married.

    Now this may be a terrible thing to call a kid, the actual shame is aimed at the parents, the ones who sired out of wedlock. They are the ones who should consider what they are doing to their kids, not the folks that use a correct term.

    Thanks for letting me comment

  3. Dwayne,
    It seems that for a relatively religious guy who does much good in his community, you’re awfully judgemental. It doesn’t seem very Christian to me. I hope you can look inside of yourself and stop feeling so much anger and rage. It’s not very nice.
    Good luck.

  4. Dwayne, you’re a disgusting hypocrite. If the parents were what you took issue with and were “aiming” at, you’d have a name for the parents and not the child, or you’d call the child a “son/daughter of a fornicator (or whatever)” (though even this would be labeling the child). And whatever these kids’ parents “did,” you are also doing something by calling the kids that name. And you don’t call the kids that to their face? Oh, I guess that’s it’s backbiting makes it all better in the eyes of the Lord… O.o

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