Saturday, April 26, 2008

My prejudice .. and yes .. I have them

I have to admit that I do have prejudices.

Everyone has them, regardless of how enlightened we think we may be. We are all subject to the pangs of preconception when we are faced by certain elements in individuals. These pangs have nothing to do with the individual, generally, and are based on some notion we have about a characteristic of the person.

Now, to clarify, my prejudice is not based on color, creed, religion, or county of national origin. My prejudice is based on past actions. While that is sometimes a healthy barometer to use, it is not always correct.

That much being said, let me continue my ranting:

Recently, a judge in New York acquitted several police officers in the killing of Sean Bell. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here is a synopsis. Bell and some of his friends went to a strip club on the night before his wedding for an impromptu bachelor outing. The club was under investigation by local police for prostitution.

By the end of the event, Bell was dead (shot 50 times) and his friends were wounded. The officers in question claimed to have overheard one of Bell’s companions say something about “getting his gun “ and tried to stop them when they left the club. According to the story, Bell bumped the officer with his car and hit an undercover police car arriving at the scene. Then one of the occupants of the car appeared to be reaching for something and the shooting began.

The officers relinquished their right to a jury trial, opting to have their case heard by a judge. The judge cited inconsistent testimony, courtroom demeanor and rap sheets of the prosecution witnesses — mainly Bell's friends — "had the effect of eviscerating" their credibility. He stated that the state failed to remove unreasonable doubt in whether or not the officer’s actions were warranted.

Now, my opinion on this matter not withstanding, we approach my prejudice.

Into this fray steps, Al Sharpton. This is where my prejudice hits.

In 1987, Sharpton burst onto the national scene in the Tawana Brawley case. She was a 15-year-old black girl, was found smeared with feces, lying in a garbage bag, her clothing torn and burned and with various slurs and epithets written on her body in charcoal. Brawley claimed she had been assaulted and raped by six white men, some of them police officers, in the village of Wappingers Falls, New York.

A grand jury was convened and after seven months concluded that the Brawley story was fabricated. Sharpton, Maddox (atty), and Mason (atty) accused the Dutchess County prosecutor, Steven Pagones, of racism and of being one of the perpetrators of the alleged abduction and rape. The three were successfully sued for slander and ordered to pay $345,000 in damages, the jury finding Sharpton liable for making seven defamatory statements about Pagones, Maddox for two, and Mason for one.

In 1995, a black Pentecostal Church, the United House of Prayer, which owned a retail property on 125th Street, asked Fred Harari, a Jewish tenant who operated Freddie's Fashion Mart, to evict his longtime subtenant, a black-owned record store called The Record Shack. Sharpton led a protest in Harlem against the planned eviction of The Record Shack. Sharpton told the protesters, "We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business."[ On December 8, 1995, Roland J. Smith Jr., one of the protesters, entered the store with a gun and flammable liquid, shot several customers and set the store on fire. The gunman fatally shot himself, and seven store employees died of smoke inhalation. Fire Department officials discovered that the store's sprinkler had been shut down, in violation of the local fire code. Sharpton claimed that the perpetrator was an open critic of himself and his nonviolent tactics. Sharpton later expressed regret for making the racial remark, "white interloper," and denied responsibility for inflaming or provoking the violence.

On March 11, 2007, Sharpton held a press conference to highlight what he said was unequal treatment of four suspected rapists in a high-profile crime in the Dunbar Village Housing Projects in West Palm Beach, Florida. The suspects, who were young black men, were arrested for allegedly raping and beating a black Haitian woman. The crime also involved forcing the woman to perform oral sex on her 12-year-old son.
At his press conference Sharpton said that any violent act toward a woman is inexcusable but he felt that the accused youths were being treated unfairly because they were black. Sharpton contrasted the treatment of the suspects, who remain in jail, with white suspects involved in a gang rape who were released after posting bond.

Sharpton is just a glory hound parasite on society. He shows up where publicity is high to make sure he gets his name in the paper or his face on TV. He does more to hurt the credibility of any case than he ever does to help it.

In the case of Sean Bell:
Sharpton lambasted the judge who acquitted the detectives in the killing of Bell and wounding of his two friends, saying a jury should been seated to decide guilt or innocence.

"If people are on the public payroll, doing their public duty, they should be required to face a public jury," Sharpton said. The officers had opted to have the judge instead of a jury decide the case.
It is my constitutional right to decide if I want a jury trial or a judge trial. That right is determined by me, not by my job, not by my lawyer, not by the public, and least of all not by some parasitical glory hound. Al Sharpton, stay off of my constitution.

Sharpton later promised to "shut the city down" with organized civil disobedience. "Shut it down! Shut it down!" supporters chanted.

Oh yeah, here is a righteous act of a Godly man. Make threats to shut down one of the busiest cities in the world. Fortunately, he has about as much chance of shutting down New York City as he does of stopping a tornado by standing in front of it.

I am sympathetic to the Bell family. I hope they find that measure of justice and peace they deserve; I hope they all find happiness. Al Sharpton is not the path to those things.
There ya go. That is my prejudice. It boils my blood. I just can’t stand those that propagate there living on the backs of people steeped in misery. They build their reputation on the pain of others.

Peace to the Bell Family. You are in our prayers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

once more into the abyss ..

There are two things I want to share today.

1st .. I have just returned from my book signing at the local public library. It was a blast. We live in a very small community, so I did not expect much. While we were small in number, however, it gave us more time to talk one on one with people. That was amazing. People, strangers to us, sharing their lives with us. Each ones story becoming part of us and ours becoming part of them. One of the librarians told me that she checked out my book from the library (which is way cool in and of itself) to scan it before we were there so she would have some idea of what it and we were about. When she got to the half way point in the book, reading instead of scanning, she realized it was not a book that could be just scanned. She told me in the first few pages the story grabbed her. She is dealing with similarities with her own mother.

Then I come home from this heart wrenching reprisal and begin reading the news online. I come across this story about certain comments made by Obama about people and frustrations and holding to their religion and guns, yadda yadda yadda, It seems that his opponents grabbed hold of this to say that he was aloof and considered himself to be ‘superior’ to the common man. (like any of them have their finger on the pulse of the common man in America)

It is amazing to me the double standard to which we expect our leaders to adhere. While leading the greatest nation in the world, we expect our president to be down to earth like us. While I feel a connection to America and American citizens is vital, it is irrational to expect our elected leader to be ‘one of the boys’.

I am fairly intelligent, and yet, I don’t have the first clue what to do about the war in Iraq. I don’t have the foggiest notion of how to balance the nations budget or right our failing economy. It is all I can do to control the spending in my own house and adhere to some semblance of a budget.

I hope to be considered for the volume of my work in my life, rather than a random statement made on a bad day at the wrong time. Everyday, I deal with my problems, my wife’s problems, my children’s problems, and then the problems of my sixty-five students. It is unfathomable to me to consider dealing with the pressures of the problems of this nation. I do not want my president to be ‘one of my boys’. I want my president to be one of the nations elites surrounded by the rest of the nations elites.

I want my president to display greater wisdom than I can. I expect greater clarity. I demand a level of intelligence that could well be considered superior. I am where I am because of who I am. I expect my president to be a president, capable of making one decision that will affect the six billion residents of this planet and to do so without worrying if some opponent or newspaper is going to try to rake him over the coals for it.

Yes, I expect my president to be in touch with me as much as we are both human beings living on the same planet. I will not agree with every word. I will not accept every statement. I will not support every idea. I will, however, support my president. I will give the benefit of the doubt. I will accept that, while I may not always agree with policy, the decision was made in the best interest of the nation as a whole.

Please deliver me from petty minded individuals that cannot see past the end of their noses. Deliver me from those who cannot accept the ramifications of daily decisions but want to make worldly decisions based on their own bias.
It seems these days, in politics, getting the job is harder than doing it.