Saturday, April 07, 2001

Militia guests are 2 officials

The Associated Press

        MILLERSTOWN, Ky. — State Rep. Perry Clark and state Sen. Virgil Moore have agreed to appear at a militia meeting in Grayson County this weekend, drawing criticism from several religious groups and lawmakers.

        Also on the program is a “communications seminar” by a broadcaster who has espoused virulent anti-Semitic views.

        The militia group's Web site likens former President Clinton to Adolf Hitler, and it recently urged members to “track down” the General Assembly's lone Jewish member, state Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, and “bring plenty of ammo.” (A militia leader said the Stein threat was intended as a parody.)

        “We should not be going to talk to groups like that,” said Senate Democratic floor leader David Karem of Louisville.

        Spokesmen for the Kentucky Council of Churches and the Anti-Defamation League said that while the lawmakers have a right to appear before any group, speaking to an organizations like the Kentucky State Militia is inappropriate.

        “I am uncomfortable with the idea of lawmakers addressing extremist groups,” said Mark Pitcavage, who tracks militias nationally for the Anti-Defamation League. “It gives these groups legitimacy and encourages them to think they have support, and it sends the wrong message to the community.”

        Mr. Clark said Thursday that he will appear before virtually any group that invites him because “I think it's good to talk.” And he said his decision to speak at the militia rally Saturday is no different from appearing before the Young Democrats or other groups.

        “I am not going there to talk about their views; I am going to talk about the system and how it works,” he said. “I will bring the same message I bring to any group — that we have a wonderful system but you have to know how it functions, and who your legislators are.”

        Mr. Moore did not return several phone calls to his home.

        House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said that if Mr. Clark and Mr. Moore believe that “these are their constituents and they want to ask questions about working with legislators ... I think it's fine.”

        The Kentucky State Police said the Kentucky State Militia has not been linked to any crimes.

        State militia leader Charlie Puckett said: “Most militia members are law-abiding citizens. We are not about overthrowing government. If we were anti-government, we wouldn't invite legislators to speak to us.”

        Both Mr. Clark and Mr. Moore have espoused conservative views and are strong defenders of the rights of gun owners. Mr. Clark, who represents Louisville's South End and the Fairdale area, has said he fights for “Christianity and individual freedom,” as well as protecting the Bill of Rights and property rights.

        As an honorary member of a group called Friends of Liberty, he unsuccessfully sought to ban police roadblocks, saying they violate the constitutional rights of drivers. He also opposed legislation that would have required parents to place trigger locks on guns, on the grounds that the state has “no business legislating what goes on inside the home.”

        According to the state militia Web site, Mr. Clark and Mr. Moore are scheduled to speak during an “all-day political class.” Mr. Clark's topic is, “Why you have to work with state legislators.” Mr. Moore will talk about how to do that. Other scheduled speakers are former gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith and Ronald D. Ray, an Oldham County lawyer who has been active in conservative causes.

        The four-day rally is being held on a farm south of Millerstown owned by Norman Davis, who is moderator of Take Back America, a political group that he described as separate from the Kentucky militia.

        Mr. Davis is leading the seminars on politics and legislation, and an aide to Mr. Ray said he didn't know that they were part of a broader militia rally.

        Mr. Clark said he was invited by Mr. Davis, who Mr. Clark said is respected in Frankfort and has testified before the legislature as president of Kentucky Right to Bear Arms. Mr. Clark said he knew that the session was part of a militia rally.

        Ms. Stein said she e-mailed Messrs. Clark and Moore several weeks ago asking them about the propriety of appearing before the militia; she said neither responded.

        Mr. Clark said he didn't bother because “the lady won't even say hello to you in the hall, and she is not going to agree with you no matter what you say.”

        The Kentucky State Militia is one of the most active in the nation, Mr. Pitcavage said.

        A session on communications will be offered by Steve Anderson of Somerset, who on a short-wave radio program called “The Militia Hour” has identified himself as a follower of the Christian Identity movement, which holds that Jews are the offspring of the devil, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors the broadcasts.

        On March 12, Mr. Anderson said that those who worship “idols and Gods” other than Jesus should leave the United States.

        In an interview, Mr. Anderson said his comments and beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, and that there is nothing wrong with legislators being exposed to them. “They attend anti-Christian events, don't they?” he asked.


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