Sunday, June 19, 2016

Arkansas Rumblings

UPDATED 6/19: Word is trickling out of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas that the current Grand Master, Billy Joe Holder, Jr., has suspended Deputy Grand Master Patrick Carr on unspecified Masonic charges.  

This is particularly unfortunate as Carr has been widely regarded by many to be a very forward thinking Mason.  

I have also received a message that Arkansas Past Grand Master Jarrod Adkisson has been suspended, as well.

The suspensions also affect these Masons' positions in the leadership of the statewide York Rite and Scottish Rite.

The overwhelming consensus among men who have contacted me today has been that the charges are fabricated. Sadly, some Masonic trials - specifically commissions called by GMs, and not individual lodges - are often dangerous situations to step into, and the charged brethren are frequently denied virtually all rights solely on the whim of a GM and his hand picked commission members. In the hands of some GMs, these types of trials can become kangaroo courts, with the accused denied the most basic rights of proper representation or defense. While Masons are uniformly allowed to have legal counsel who are versed in Masonic law at these commissions, it is not uncommon for the accused to be told that their counsel may not speak during the trial. I hope for the sake of these brethren that this is not the case in Arkansas.

It is my understanding that GMs in Arkansas are empowered by their Constitution to not only suspend, but to expel Masons in these cases. Most states do not permit this, but I have been told that past attempts to change the law in Arkansas have been met with the all too common response that the proposal is "not in proper form" or out of order.

Any Arkansas Masons who wish to correct this story may contact me in confidence via email. 

20 comments:

  1. "This is particularly unfortunate as Carr has been regarded by many to be a very forward thinking Mason."

    Ah, here's your problem, right there.

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  2. My father always said that Masons are their own worst enemies.

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  3. On a tangent note, I would be encouraged if I saw actual leadership occurring, such as holding people accountable. Much of the issues I see in our fraternity are strongly related to automatic progression of people to the master chairs regardless of a lack of actual leadership (or even management) skills.

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  4. It is truly unfortunate when the ignorant are so afraid of the enlightened that they cannot hear or understand the meaning of progress in the craft.

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  5. I've gotten several messages today from Masons who are stuck living in jurisdictions in which they are disgusted with the activities of their grand lodges. I urge them NOT to demit just yet. There are options. See below:

    http://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2016/03/ugles-internet-lodge-no-9659.html

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    1. Chris is right; do not demit. You do more good as an advocate for what is right, but if you walk away, no good can be achieved. As one brother told me; "It is a lot easier being inside the tent pissing out than it is being outside the tent trying to pissing in."

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  6. The natural reaction to the racism, anti semitism and gay bashing is to leave, not to mention the poor management and masonic illiteracy of many grand lodge officers. It really is time to admit that many of them are losers at life who have used masonry as compensation for their lack of success, and start electing younger men of education and intelligence, which a majority of grand officers lack.

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  7. Meanwhile, very few AR members have any idea that their own DGM - the man they expect to be their GM next year - is in danger of expulsion.

    My remarks are perhaps intemperate, but I have both seen and read detailed accounts of trial commissions that completely deprived the accused of any sort of learned counsel during the proceedings. And in the last year there have been at least three high profile situations where a GM demanded that a Mason appear on a date, across the state, on an unchangeable day they could not get off work for (one was a police officer, one was an EMT, and one was a National Guard officer). Every single one of us has seen abuses by GMs if we've been around for any length of time, and if we have paid attention.

    Note that in my post I clearly said, several times, "SOME GMs." I mean very few. But we have all seen them.

    No other organization I can think of anywhere chooses its leadership by an advancing line of officers, who change every year or so, with absolutely zero prerequisite for qualifications, and then gives the guy in charge absolute authority to act virtually any way he sees fit. We can claim that we vote, but we all know how hollow a claim that can be, particularly at the GL level. The reason we do this comes down to one simple word that we invest in the entire enterprise: trust. And when a GM breaks that trust, it can have devastating repercussions.

    It's worth mentioning in public occasionally, if only to remind such men who abuse their brief but trusted positions that Masons are watching, and that "all glory is fleeting."

    "Man, proud man,
    Dress'd in a little brief authority,
    Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd—
    His glassy essence—like an angry ape
    Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
    As makes the angels weep..."


    Shakespeare - Measure For Measure

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    1. I think where ya ran into trouble was when you reported hearsay and then went about taking a side. Even going so far as to making someone out to be the leader of a kangaroo court. You meant to strike a nerve so go ahead and admit it. No one knows what went down and if they do, someone dropped the ball. Remember:"Opinions are like you know what's, everybody has one." That's all fine and good but when someone is being tried for something, it's best (if you don't know what you are talking about or know all the facts) to keep those opinions to one's self. And if ya did know all the facts, ya might want to testify in that person's defense. You don't though and you chose to try and humiliate the GM with your opinions of past cases. As if you knew for fact what went on with those cases. One might say, " I know that brother and I would hope he isn't guilty. There is an old saying in the natural gas business while checking for leaks. It goes like this, "If you don't know, don't guess." Lots of people could get hurt or worse. The gentleman wrote a very nice letter and I think he deserves some respect especially since he's a Mason. He has a following and apparently, you do as well. Who will be right, my brother?

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    2. I said specifically, "In the hands of some GMs, these types of trials can become kangaroo courts, with the accused denied the most basic rights of proper representation or defense... I hope for the sake of these brethren that this is not the case in Arkansas."

      If you do an internal search of this blog for the word 'Arkansas' you will become depressed in the extreme at the history of past actions taken in that state - and I've only been watching since 2006. What is playing out is a battle for the soul of Masonry in Arkansas right now.

      Details of the trials of these brethren will become public, and the Masons in Arkansas will be the ones who must decide their future path.

      The GL of Arkansas has specifically sought to screw down all lids of communication almost since the Internet was invented and Masons started talking to each other.

      These activities have gone on without most of the members there being aware of it over the years, aside from a bland announcement at the annual communication - if that. But it's not 1870 anymore, and people talk instantly to each other now. Questionable actions by Masons can't be so easily hidden from the sight of their brethren anymore. Transparency isn't just a platitude these days - it's been forced on everybody. And a GL can pass all the laws and edicts it likes to try to stop it, but such attempts are doomed to failure.

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    3. To Brother "I think where ya ran into trouble was when you reported "
      I think where ya ran into trouble was at first by posting anonymously (thus contributing to the kangaroo theory) and then secondly posting about not having many facts in hand whilst yourself not providing one fact at all. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

      Where you're going the most wrong is by engaging one single brother on his blog and blithely missing the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands of brothers who are ready for good ol boy networks to fall by the wayside and get on with a fresh, diverse and sincerely brotherly loving approach.

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  8. It's none of my business when I comment on the out of control Grand Lodge of New Jersey, but it's OK for you to speak out about the Grand Lodge of Arkansas which apparently can be your business. Where were you when Derek Gordon was railroaded out of Arkansas and the Grand Master was expelling Masons for displaying a generic license plate designed by Prince Hall Arkansas?

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    1. I was right here, Fred.

      Heck, I even had a link in that story to your own blog entry.

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    2. And I also covered their GL withdrawing from association with the Shrine.

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  9. I quit going to lodge in AR for these very reasons. I even told the GL they were out of control. I had it with their kangaroo court. We were told to bring charges on some of our members and pretty much what the outcome of the trial was going to be. I was on the investigative committee. GL withheld evidence from us and told us we were not moving fast enough. They have us another month to do something. Then a week later they said we hadn't moved fast enough and wanted all of our evidence turned over to them. A year later they expelled some and suspended a 52 year mason on some trumped up charges.
    The last time I say in lodge they read a report from GL saying that they had lost $500k in a land investment. No one blinked a eye. No where have I seen such contempt and arrogance for their subordinates. They think we exist because of them.

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  10. I've been a Massachusetts Mason for 15 years. In all that time I've never had a serious complaint about Grand Lodge (some mild criticisms, including what I consider an inadequate response to the gaybashing witchhunts in the Confederate jurisdictions), but some of my brethren have. I've spoken to some Masons that are highly critical of our Grand Lodge's leadership, quite vocally. I happen to think they're wrong, but they have their reasons for thinking the way they do.

    But y'know what? None of them have been suspended, expelled, or put on trial by the Grand Master for saying they think he's a lousy Grand Master. And y'know why? Because our Grand Masters are not thin-skinned childish little babies that feel the need to silence their critics. Good leaders recognize that not everybody will support their leadership. Good leaders accept that and let the criticism roll off their back and let their actions speak for themselves. I've seen people suspended for using F-bombs to refer to the Grand Master in incendiary posts on Facebook that were made publicly for the world to see, but that's really not the same thing.

    If you're going to elevate a small-minded, petty, immature person who lacks the confidence to let his actions speak for themselves into a position where he wields virtually unlimited authority, it's almost inevitable that he will become a tyrant. Not because he wants to be a tyrant, but because he thinks he has to be in order to prove something to himself.

    Dave Brown
    Garden City Lodge, Newtonville, MA

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  11. Should a Mason feel that his GL actions are intolerable,I suggest that you transfer your membership to another GL. The GL of AL (and I am sure others) do not require you to be a resident to transfer, only to petition for initiation. You could then continue to enjoy the fellowship of local lodges and participate fully in SR, YE, etc.

    Wayne Sirmon,
    Mobile Masonic Lodge, GL of AL

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  12. I need to know more. What are the charges? I've known both Brothers for several years and think highly of them. Rick Nation, PGM KY

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  13. I Arkansas the grand lodge officers have decided, against the bylaws, that they will suspend masons pending trial. By the bylaws a mason can not converse with a suspended or expelled mason; so by suspending brothers before a trial they can not get representation.
    In may case the grand lodge officers approved a vote to no longer recognize the Shrine. The vote required 66% approval to change the bylaws but the grand lodge officers approved it with only a 53% vote. The grand lodge officers then hired a private investigator to take pictures of anyone going into a Shrine.
    I was the first person ever to be expelled without a trial in Arkansas (and I hope anywhere) because the had pictures of me with a fez on. My charge was not expelled for being a Shriner but UN-Masonic Conduct.
    About 40 of my brothers have been able to go do different states, go through all 3 degrees, and become masons again. Unfortunately the Grand Lodge Officers of Arkansas will not allow those men to attend a lodge in Arkansas because they are still Shriners. Anyone allowing a Shriner to attend a lodge from any blue lodge jurisdiction is subject to expulsion.
    The Grand Lodge of Arkansas is nothing like any other masonic jurisdiction that I have ever visited.
    Randall Dixon
    Past Master of Western Star #2 Little Rock, AR
    Current PR Unit President of Scimitar Shrine.
    Shriners, Having fun helping kids!

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  14. I certainly know what it is like to be suspended from an elected grand office for spurious reasons.

    T.S. Akers

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