Bohemian Grove back in spotlight

The Bohemian Grove, the annual encampment of elite and powerful men that begins in three weeks here along the Russian River, came back into the national spotlight this week in connection with the confirmation process of judge and U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

News stories have reported that Sotomayor is a member of an all-female networking club known as the Belizean Grove, said to be founded as an alternative to the all-male Bohemian’s encampment each summer near Monte Rio. Senate Republicans have recently raised questions about Sotomayor being a member of a group that "discriminates on the basis of sex."

Her affiliation with the women's organization has also drawn the attention of Comedy Central television commentator Stephen Colbert on his popular “Colbert Report” show.

“There’s only one way for Sotomayor to be a member of a single-sex club and still be confirmed for the Supreme Court,” Colbert said Wednesday. The answer was for her to belong to the Bohemian Club, which he described as “an all-male, 130-year-old secret society of captains of industry, international power brokers and every Republican president since 1923,” he said in his satire. It also, historically, has not included women members, though in 1981 was required to allow women to work at the Grove.

Colbert noted caustically that Sotomayor had contended her group didn’t discriminate against men and that, “to the best of my knowledge,” a man has never asked to be considered for membership.

“Until now,” Colbert announced, his voice rising above the whoops of approval, “because I hereby demand to be admitted to this ladies’ shadowy cabal.” Sam Singer, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based Bohemian Club, found the episode “interesting and humorous.”

“Mr. Colbert has a fabulous sense of humor,” he said.

When asked, Singer said he wasn’t made uncomfortable with Colbert’s characterization of the Bohemian Club or its encampment.

“I think anyone with a sense of humor would have enjoyed the episode,” he said.

No word yet on whether or not Colbert will be asked to join the Belizean club. (Press Democrat, 6.18.2009, Robert Digitale)

America the Beautiful

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