A racist rejected and what the Q in Qwest really stands for 

The language of law, like that of the natural sciences, is one of the last great refuges of Latin in modern times: habeas corpus, amicus curiae, a priori, a posteriori, absolvo and so forth. Or et cetera, if you prefer, literally “and the rest.”

But speaking of refuge and the law, you’re probably aware by now that the State Bar of Montana’s Commission on Character and Fitness last week decided not to grant Matt Hale, avowed racist and anti-Semite and leader of the white supremacist group World Church of the Creator, a license to practice law in Montana. In doing so, the state has become the second to deny Hale a license since his graduation from Southern Illinois University’s law school in 1998.

The thwarted Hale wasted no time last Wednesday in describing the decision as “clearly unconstitutional, illegal and a violation of the oath to the United States Constitution,” and promising to appeal. Although the Bar’s decision was handed without comment or explanation, Hale’s statement seems to impute that the Bar denied him his license based, at least in part, on his religious and philosophical beliefs. But his seems like an odd argument, coming as it does from someone who makes no secret of his beliefs that certain people(s) are less equal than others. The Bar subcommittee apparently just reached the conclusion that counting on Hale to uphold and enforce the part about equal protection of the laws was like trying to get blood from a stone. Or, to express the same sentiment in Latin, ab asino lanam—wool from an ass.

Cheer up, Hale. You’ve still got 48 states left to try.

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U.S. West is now Qwest, and lately we’ve been wondering whether the new Q stands for ¿Que? Last month the telecommunications giant revealed that it wants out of the community debate over what to do with one of Missoula’s most cherished (albeit unofficial) landmarks, the peace sign, and in the interest of impartiality, will settle this matter once an for all—with a wrecking ball this spring. Worse, fearing some anti-WTO-like protest (or bad publicity), a Qwest spokesperson says they will keep the date of the demolition a secret due to “liability concerns.” (As if we won’t notice.) Qwest has promised to donate the reflector’s “skin” (upon which the peace sign is painted) to the community group, a gesture about as generous as eating all the soft innards out of the brie and leaving your guests the hard, outer membrane.

Days later, the Independent staff discovered upon arrival of the new Qwest phone books that despite our 10-year presence in the Garden City—ask about our huge birthday party coming April 14—the Independent phone number is no longer listed, either in the yellow or white pages. A different Qwest spokesman claims falsely that we asked not to be listed anymore, a rather odd request for a community newspaper, don’t you think? Must be all those extra phone lines we’re paying for that confused them.

Speaking of debris piles, anyone else interested in seeing the wind-damaged Thunderbird Motel billboard on I-90 finally torn down? Here’s one solution: Paint a new peace sign on it, then call Qwest at (406) 441-7300. You can still call us, however, at 543-6609.

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