Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Bluffton Today Column
January 20, 2010

I woke up last Friday morning to a Google Alert notifying me of the Naughton v. Naughton final divorce hearing in Beaufort County Family Court. As if I didn’t have enough stress surrounding the day’s proceedings, now even my Blackberry has to taunt me?

I spent my drive to the courthouse mumbling under my breath, crying on the phone to an extraordinary friend, and cursing technology. Of course, I was also simultaneously thanking the technology gods for allowing me to listen to my favorite radio personality via satellite during my drive. I was a little out of sorts, to say the least.

I realize that I am a technology addict. I can’t imagine life without the internet, my laptop, my Blackberry or my iPod. Seriously, how did I exist without them? Over Christmas break when the track ball on my beloved b-berry broke I had a momentary panic attack and addressed a series of questions in rapid succession. Do I call IT? Are they in the office? How quickly can I get a new Blackberry? Is it under warranty? Should I go to the Verizon store?

I am over-exposed to technology. We all are. But, I do believe it makes me more efficient and a little smarter in that I know where to go for information and I don’t have to battle the Dewey Decimal system to find it. But, it also makes me - all of us - less personal. We can easily lose our personal connections by hiding behind an email or a Facebook status update.

So, in an ironic twist … while my wake- up call was like something out of “2010: A Space Odyssey,” my divorce hearing was like an episode of Little House on the Prairie. (Well, if Ma and Pa had indeed decided to divorce.) The role of the court – in their not so humble opinion – is to reconcile the husband and wife. Two strangers to the court whom the judge knows nothing about. Smart, right?

I do give them some credit. I mean, if you embarrass easily, the line of questioning may be enough for you to run right back into the arms of your betrothed. In my case, even though I knew the question was coming (special thanks for the heads up from my attorney), I was still taken aback.

“When was the last time that you and your spouse had sexual relations or last co-habitated together?”

Apparently the court system is all about getting personal.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that I had to answer the question. I also had to provide a witness who could swear to the same. So, there sat my brother-in-law – selected as my witness because of the close proximity of his office to the court house – answering whether or not my ex and I had rendezvoused at any point over the last twelve months.

Suffice it to say, my face was as red as a Jersey tomato in July when I marched back down the courthouse steps, a little worse for wear.

I’m thinking it may be time that we update the ol’ South Carolina law books and maybe bring things into the twenty-first century? And, while we are making the bold move to not care about who people live with and/or have sex with we may also want to address why dance halls may not operate on Sundays; why horses may not be kept in bathtubs; why merchandise may not be sold within a half mile of a church unless fruit is being sold; why every adult male must bring a rifle to church on Sunday in order to ward off Indian attacks.

And why, if a man promises to marry an unmarried woman, the marriage must take place.

Um, I’m pretty sure that’s how I got into this mess to begin with.

This column is in no way meant to disparage the wonderful state of South Carolina. Check out for more state law hilarity, even New Jersey.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Victory, Valentine, Vagina

Bluffton Today Column
January 6, 2010


Does that make you uncomfortable? The word vagina? Is that inappropriate? The word vagina? Is this bothering you?

It shouldn’t.

What should bother you is that a woman is beaten by her boyfriend or husband every 12 seconds in the United States. Not convinced yet? In 2008, 32,889 victims received services from a domestic violence program or shelter in South Carolina. A 2006 SLED report indicates that Beaufort ranks 9th of the 46 counties in the state for domestic assaults.

Need more? Statistics show that one in every three women will be a victim of abuse – physical, sexual, financial or emotional. Look around you right now – your neighbor, your colleague, your teacher, your student, your mother, your sister, your daughter. Are the odds with you or against you?

I understand that we don’t like to talk about taboo subjects, or things that make us uncomfortable. Like violence against women. But, what is more uncomfortable, talking about it openly and honestly or being a victim, or knowing a victim, or ignoring a victim?

I speak from experience. Right out of college I was with a guy who liked to control me, to intimidate me, to accuse me, to call me every four-letter word in the book, to push me … All in an effort to keep me down when, in fact, he was so down on himself. And I was in a committed relationship with him, wearing the love blinders.

Eventually I had to escape. I ran back to my parents with all of my belongings in tow - including two cats and those two damn oversized sofas that haunted me for years.

I was lucky. Sadly, I’m not alone. Fortunately, there are people in Beaufort County who find this issue as disturbing and important as I do.

Enter Megan Roberts, University of South Carolina Beaufort junior, student life intern, and orchestrator of USCB’s “Stop the Violence Week” slated for March 22 – 27. “Stop the Violence Week” is a part of the global V-Day movement created to call attention to and stop violence against women and girls.

The “V” in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina. No coincidence since we are talking about overcoming the fear and the stigma, loving ourselves, and well I think we all know what the latter represents.

Roberts is bringing her A-game. And she has brought her passion for women’s issues to the USCB campus. This makes us – as a community – lucky. Lucky that a young woman is willing to voice her opinion and rally the community around an important cause. Lucky that she is not afraid to have her voice heard. And lucky that she is providing a venue for women to have their voices heard as well.

V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls. Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues and screen the V-Day documentary Until the Violence Stops, to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups within their own communities.

Roberts’ efforts at USCB will include educational forums, self-defense training courses, creative outlets for participants to express their feelings, and yes, a three-day performance of The Vagina Monologues.

The Vagina Monologues (the inspiration for the V-Day movement) from playwright Eve Ensler has been performed in cities all across America and at hundreds of college campuses. The Monologues give voice to women's deepest fantasies and fears.

Roberts is excited about the diversity of the fifteen cast members for the USCB performance who range from 17 to 60 years of age, and include both students and community members.

The first performance is scheduled for Thursday, March 25 at the USCB Performing Arts Center in Beaufort. Two additional performances are planned for March 26 and 27 in Bluffton and Hilton Head. However, there is one hiccup. They need a venue.

Now, I don’t want to speak for Hilton Head, but I think we – Bluffton – can come up with a venue to offer? Town Hall has an auditorium. An auditorium that seats a couple hundred people. An auditorium that is empty most nights of the week. An auditorium that our open-minded and ever-loving (yes, I am kissing ass) Town Council would be willing to donate for the one-night performance to support USCB and the women in our community who are silently suffering?

What say you Town Council? What say you?

Let’s do it for our neighbors, our colleagues, our family, our friends. And, let’s do it to support Megan Roberts a passionate student leader who is working with her community and her fellow students to bring awareness, health and balance to us all.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

Let’s not be silent. Let’s speak up.

Writer’s Note: Women are not the only victims of domestic violence and/or assault. If you or someone you know is in need of help, Citizens Opposed to Domestic Abuse (CODA) is a Lowcountry resource. Visit or call 843.770.1070 or 800.868.2632.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Man on a Mission

CH2, January 2010

“Strive for Success”; “Chamber Recognizes Year’s Best”; “Just One of the Guys”; “Intriguing Islanders”; “Good Men”; “Fruits of His Labor”…These are just a handful of the headlines that decorate the walls in Tim Singleton’s office at Hilton Head Island High School. After spending time getting to know Singleton, his colleagues, his students and his supporters, you realize that no headline is an exaggeration.


Roger Pinckey and His Reefer Moon

CH2, January 2010

He lives his life by the tide, the sunrise, and the sunset. His way of life is the Daufuskie Island way. Laid back. Sand and sea soaked. Preservation focused.

With a gruff exterior and a questioning eye, Roger Pinckney may not endear you at the outset. However, I warmed to him almost immediately the first time I met him three years ago. When he calls you “dear” in his sweet Southern twang it’s hard not to.

But, I think it’s fair to say that some folks may be put off by his pointed commentary regarding those who have invaded his beloved Lowcountry, where he was born and raised.