Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Miracle? Is the Belle Meade Country Club Changing Its Tune?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 5:19 AM

It has always amazed me that so many prominent Nashvillians could belong to the Belle Meade Country Club, knowing it has no voting black or female members, knowing they needed to quit if they wanted to run for higher office (e.g. Bill Frist), and yet still acting like they are surprised by — and somehow powerless to stop — the discrimination at the club. (Though, sweet Jesus, with so many Belle Meade Country Club members who claim to have been working to diversify the club, we have to assume that either some prominent folks are stretching the definition of "working," or that these members — supposedly the crème de la crème of Nashville — are surprisingly ineffectual. Y'all want us to trust you with running the whole city when you can't run your own club any better than that?)

People, the tens of thousands of dollars you give the club for the privilege of belonging? If y'all moved that money elsewhere, you'd see real change, almost instantly.

And lo and behold, three years after Matt Pulle wrote his article for the Scene in which one Allison Halsell read this —

“If you have a choice of something that’s more expensive or less expensive, I think that you’d have to say that a woman, who generally has better sense than a man, would take the lesser price,” says U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge George Paine, who is one of three federal judges who belong to club. “There is a lady’s membership that I wish I could have, quite frankly.”

— Halsell decided that was some huge bullshit for a guy who has to preside over cases involving women to be spouting. Paine has been publicly embarrassed by the Federal Courts' Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability, which found that "a judge gives the appearance of impropriety and therefore violates the (Code of Conduct for United States Judges) simply by being a member of an organization that invidiously discriminates." That organization being the Belle Meade Country Club.

And, as a result, a bunch of judges and lawyers are standing around nervously, wondering if they can still be members. And, as a result of that? The Tennessean reports:

Gilbert S. Merritt, a Nashville-based senior judge on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a Belle Meade club member, said he has received indications from confidential sources that “people who are associated with the Belle Meade Country Club who have significant influence in rectifying the situation” plan to do so in the coming weeks.

If you don't feel a strong moral urgency to do the right thing and you can't be shamed into it, I guess it's good that you can be frightened into changing. Ha, in that regard, I guess it is a little like Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with the Belle Meade Country Club playing Scrooge and the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability playing the Ghost of Christmas Future. I wonder who will play Tiny Tim? Perhaps David Ewing?

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