A Rainbow Flag in Meade Kansas & the Good People That Suffered
by John Doll
Tue Sep 05, 2006 at 06:58:13 PM PDT
As candidate for US Congress traveling my district, I had an opportunity to visit Meade Kansas this past week and & hope many others will also. The owners of the historic Lakeway Hotel in Meade Kansas, a town in my district of about 2,000, started flying a rainbow flag on the pole outside their restaurant and bed and breakfast. The rainbow flag flew just below their proud American flag. As a result, they have been the recipients of vandalism, terrorism, intolerance and bigotry.
The couple that owns this lovely hotel explain that the flag was a gift to his parents from their 12-year old son. The young son gave the flag to his Mom and Dad because it reminded him of Kansas and "The Wizard of Oz."
This loving and sentimental gesture by a heterosexual family created a flap about gay rights in this Kansas town. Now their story has spread beyond the home of the Dalton Gang Museum, with mentions in national gay and lesbian magazines and spots on CNN and radio talk shows. People who had never heard of Meade, Kansas, now are blogging about it on the Internet.
* John Doll's diary :: ::
Evidently it all started after the Meade newspaper took a picture of the flag and identified it as a symbol of gay pride in a photo caption. That identification was mistaken, in this case. Nonetheless, many people quit coming to the restaurant the Knights run inside the 10-room inn they've owned for almost two years. Then, someone cut the flag down and this happily married couple put another one up. Last month, a terrorist flung two bricks - with certain words written on them - through a front window, destroying two neon signs along the way.
I visited with JR and Robin Knight, the proprietors, this past week and thoroughly enjoyed my visit with them. We were delighted to learn that the local boys that cut down the flag did acknowledge their vandalism and apologized.
Days before we arrived, members of Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church came to this southwestern Kansas town about 170 miles outside Wichita to criticize JR and Robin Knight for flying a rainbow flag at their inn and to chastise area churches for not doing enough to keep something like that away from their town. Armed with signs saying "God hates you," "Priests rape boys" and "Hell is Real -- Ask Matt (Matthew Shepard)," members of Fred Phelps' family became the newest characters in the flag story. To the Knights, Phelps-Roper said: "Why didn't they teach (their son) about the judgment of God about sexuality?"
(Remember, the Knight's 12-year old son is a fan of the Wizard of Oz, not of sexuality of any type)
Despite the their trials of recent, Mr. and Ms. Knight say they will not leave the town of Meade or the state of Kansas, if this is what is intended by their terrorists.
I feel bad for this couple and what they have endured. Yet, I am proud of their strength and willingness to stick it out. If anyone reading this diary ever has the chance to visit Meade, I hope you will you get a chance stop by the The Lakeway Hotel and visit JR and Robin. They are very nice people with an incredible story to tell.
I am proud of the local boys who apologized to the Knights - and the father that encouraged the boys to do so.
I am encouraged by the citizens of Meade who know that these acts of vandalism and intolerance are not representative of Meade, Kansas, or America. I know that the majority of citizens of Meade do not approve of the way the Knights have been treated.
I have confidence that the citizens of Meade will rise up and re-establish a community environment that is inclusive, welcoming and tolerant of differences among its population. If citizens determine that any governmental or commercial entities in Meade have been responsible for inciting this terrible series of events there, I have confidence that the good people of Meade will demand an accounting. If fault is found, I trust that the citizens will make the changes necessary to ensure that citizens are never subject to this type of terrorism again in Kansas.
Nonetheless, this entire incident in Meade recalls for me the atmosphere of "division" and intolerance that has grown in our country in the last six years. I don't like it and I don't think most Americans recognize this as the America they know. It seems that we have more hate and callousness bubbling up here and there in our country than we have had in years past.
We need leadership in our communities and throughout our government that brings out the best in citizenship. The America we have been before - and the America we will be again - is an America so much better than that which the Knights have endured in Meade.
Campaign Trail Update
This last week on Monday, we attend the Smith County Democratic Fundraiser with Governor Sebelius and Senator Janis Lee at Senator Lee's farm. It was a really great event. On Saturday, we attended the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation of Central Kansas AFL-CIO 2006 Labor Day Picnic in Wichita. We had a wonderful time meeting fine folks from this organization. I have been very fortunate and honored to have received the endorsement of the Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation of Central Kansas AFL-CIO.
This week, we were in the Hoisington for their 110th Annual Labor Day Parade. We had tremendous help with our entry in the parade. Melissa Robb, of Ellis, drove our vehicle, Jennifer Andrews and friend, Brock from Garden City, and Tyler Hughes from Hays also helped out. This Tuesday, I will be in Lyons, Kansas for the day to attend the Rotary Club Meeting at the Schrirer Restaurant at 11:45 AM and then Chris Snyder has volunteered to graciously take me around to meet the fine folks of Lyons. Later in the evening at 7:00 PM at the Schrirer Restaurant, I will attend the Rice County Democratic Meeting.
Starting this Friday, September 8th, the John Doll for Congress Committee will have a booth at the Kansas State Fair. The booth is located in the Meadowlark Building, East End. I will be at the booth each day throughout the fair. If you have the opportunity to stop by the booth, we would very much enjoy visiting with you. If anyone, would like to assist in manning the booth with me during this fair, please call us or e-mail the campaign at the listings above. It should be a really enjoyable time. The only evening, I won't be at the fair will be September 9, as Don and Lynne Koehn of Dodge City are graciously hosting a fund raising event for the campaign at their home at 2013 Circle Lake Drive from 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM. If you are in the area and would like to attend the Wine Tasting and Light Snacks Event please feel free to stop in. Don and Lynne would love to have you there.
Beginning the last Saturday in September, we will be having our weekly "Doorbelling Events" throughout the 69 counties of the Big First District of Kansas. We invite everyone to join in. We really need help on the ground. Please join us. To learn more about our Doorbelling - please come to our website to learn more - to www.dollforcongress.org/action-doorbelling.html.
Folks, we need volunteers! Give us a call or drop me an e-mail - go to www.dollforcongress.org/contact.html - We are and will be in need of many volunteers especially as the election date grows nearer.
Thank you for taking the time to read my diary. If we can be of any assistance please contact us.
More information about How Our Current Congress is Harming Families here and more details about my 10-Point Plan to Restore America here.
Please contribute to help us give our government back to its rightful owners, the people, where it belongs.
Friends, I look forward to hearing from you.
John Doll, Democrat for Congress (Kansas First District)