Aug 202017

Well, I suppose it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’m going to step into the debate about Confederate statues. It has obviously become something of a lightening rod after the incidents in Charlottesville, VA last weekend. I am seeing what too often happens, and it started with Trump’s tweets. There is this effort to try to claim there are two-sides to this, and that everyone is at fault, so the White Supremacists are not at fault…or something like that.

False Equivalency of “Two Sides”
Let me be right up front. To compare the two sides in this debate is a false equivalency of the highest order. The counter protestors in Charlottesville did not show up carrying clubs, armed to the teeth with high-powered firearms, and wearing body armor. They didn’t beat anyone, let alone any black people, as some of the racists protestors did, and they most certainly did not deliberately drive a car into the crowd…something that would be an act of terrorism if the driver had not been a white male. Continue reading »

This Is How It Starts – The Trump Campaign

 Crack Pots, Election, Featured, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on This Is How It Starts – The Trump Campaign
Mar 012016
This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series 2016 Elections

donald-trump-july-10-2015I’ve written pretty extensively about Cruz’s beliefs and his campaign. He remains my biggest fear as President because of his deep-seated religious beliefs, but Trump is already making the U.S. a terrible place. His campaign has given permission to the racists and xenophobes in this country to take off the masks of civility, and revel in their hate. And so far, candidate Trump has done nothing to dissuade them.

This is how it starts, we know how it ends. History has taught us, but as too often the case, we have decided to forego the lessons of history. Oh yes, a bare few Republican party leaders are timidly calling Trump out, but Rubio and Cruz are aiding and abetting by trying to out Trump Trump. Continue reading »

The Zimmerman Trial

 Crime, Featured, Legislature, Media, Politics, Society  Comments Off on The Zimmerman Trial
Jul 152013

I couldn’t let the George Zimmerman case go by without commenting. I think the main issues in the case are being overrun by our desire to make the main issue one of race. The case certainly has two points of race running through it, but the primary issues here are Florida’s draconian self-defense laws, and our concealed-carry law.

Let’s get the racial issues out-of-the-way first. I certainly believe race played a role in this case. Zimmerman clearly, based on the 911 call, profiled Trayvon Martin because he was a young black man. Now there certainly had been some crimes in his neighborhood involving young black men, but you go profiling, this is what happens. Despite Zimmerman’s impression, Martin “belonged” in the neighborhood. It was his neighborhood, and he was merely walking through. Would Zimmerman have called in a report of white teenager walking through the neighborhood? I don’t know, but suspect it would be unlikely.

The other racial undertone has to do with the actions of the response of the Sanford police officers. They were going to accept, unchallenged, Zimmerman’s invoking of Florida’s stand your ground law (more on that in a minute). I have to wonder if the tables had been turned. George Zimmerman had pursued and confronted this young man who was doing nothing wrong or illegal. He was carrying a gun. I would consider him a threat in that situation, and under Florida’s stand your ground law, I would have a right to use deadly force, as did Trayvon Martin. Let’s say that Martin had managed to wrestle Zimmerman’s gun away from him, and had, fearing for his life (he would have had a gun drawn on him after all), shot George Zimmerman? It’s only speculation, but I suspect the Sanford police would have used a higher standard for a stand your ground defense if proffered by Martin. I suspect he would have arrested and charged on the spot.

Did Zimmerman set out to find a black person to shoot that day? I seriously doubt it. Did he take the opportunity to shoot a black person when he came across one? I doubt that too. For that reason I’m hard pressed to consider this a crime of bias, but, as I said, there are certainly racial overtones to this situation.

I think they are overshadowed by a number of other issues which point directly to the absolutely insane Republicans running state government here in Florida. Let’s look at those issues in more detail.

First is the concept of “concealed carry.” If the idea of being able to carry one’s gun is for protection, then the concept of concealed carry is silly on its face, and in the case, deadly. What do I mean by this. My preference would be to avoid being involved in a crime at all. So if I carried a gun, it would be for the purpose of convincing you that I’m not your best choice as a potential target for a mugging. That means I need you to see my gun. I don’t want it concealed…I’d want to carry it loud proud. It is again speculation, but if Martin had seen a gun on Zimmerman as he approached, he might have turned tail and ran. I’d like to think Zimmerman wouldn’t have shot a fleeing person in the back. I believe concealed carry contributed to this situation.

Then we come to silly statutes in Florida that allow one to defend themselves. People who legitimately find themselves in life threatening situations have an absolute right to defend themselves. However, these are the kinds of situation that will happen in states with such broad self-defense and stand your ground laws. First, there was nearly never any accountability whatsoever because of stand your ground. While the outcome of the trial was not what many people believe served justice, at least there was a trial. Had it not been for the public pressure, Zimmerman’s invoking of stand your ground would have eliminated even a reasoned examination of the facts of the case, and the law in deliberately crafted to subvert such an airing of facts.

The self-defense law is so broad here in Florida that I would walk up to someone on the street, punch them in the face, and once they start kicking the shit out of me, I could pull out my concealed weapon to shoot and kill the person I originally attacked. Silly you’d think, but not so with our illustrious Florida Republicans, and this case is the result. I think that once you either instigate or pursue, you forfeit any claim to self-defense. At that point, you’re no longer defending yourself, you just got yourself into a fight.

The jury is getting a lot of flack, but I think it is undeserved. The jury is required to be finders of fact, and appliers of the law, and in this case, as unfortunate as it is, they did just that. There is really no significant forensic evidence, no complete and significant eyewitness testimony…there seems to only be a case of “he said / he said.” The only problem, there’s only one of the he’s available. I do not want juries to try to make law, or find violations of law where there is none. That’s not for juries to do. I want us to preserve the presumption of innocence, and I want the prosecution to have a very high bar to prove their case. In this situation, they were unable to hurdle the bar, but that’s largely because the Florida Legislature stacked the supports unreasonably high.

I think the jury decided the case before them rightly based on the law and the evidence. Now, does that bring any justice for Trayvon Martin and his family. No it certainly does not. The largest part of the blame is on George Zimmerman. This is a situation of his creation, and I hope the Martin sues his pants off, and I hope they win. They deserve nothing less. However, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and THE main reason justice could not be found in a criminal courtroom is because the Florida legislature has essentially legalized vigilantism. Direct your complaints and protests towards the Capital Building in Tallahassee.

As I said, I hope the Martin family brings a civil suit. There is no doubt about the basic facts of the case. George Zimmerman created a hostile situation in which Trayvon Martin exercised his right to stand his ground. Unfortunately, he lost because he brought only a pack of skittles to an unplanned gun fight.

As for a federal prosecution under civil rights laws, I’m not much of a fan. Those have their place, but again, I think that must be a high bar. Do I think Zimmerman committed a hate crime? I really don’t. I think he committed a crime of stupidity. The best place for the rest of this case is a civil courtroom. Let Trayvon and his family now have their day in court.That will be best found there. For the rest of us, we need to demand sanity from our legislators.

Red State Update Addresses Racism

 Humor  Comments Off on Red State Update Addresses Racism
Oct 102009

Our buddies at Red State Update are at it again. Jackie feels a little racist hating Obama so much. Dunlap helps him work through his feelings. Carter and Jews get a little ribbing this time too. These guys are funny. Dunlap explains the need some non-specific racism fears in case they fall behind in the polls. Jackie talks doing some burning…burning Kayne West albums.

Jun 242008

I have prepared a resolution on social justice to be introduced at the next meeting of the Administrative Board of Palma Ceia United Methodist Church here in Tampa. It will create an inclusive statement of non-discrimination. However, it goes a bit further. In an on-line conversation I had with a new acquaintance, he made a statement that caught my interest. He said, “People don’t have to pay a price for discrimination against gay people.” I believe this is a true statement. You can’t really change how people feel, but you can change how they behave in public through laws and through action. People who make racists statements pay a price. If they are business owner, they may be boycotted by people who don’t beleive in racism. At work, they may be ostricized, and it can affect their potential opportunities. But for the most part, people don’t pay a price for discriminating against homosexuals. My resolution requires the church to put its money where its mouth is.

I decided that a statement saying we won’t discriminate would be a nice feel good thing, but this resolution goes further and requires that we provide support of time, resources, money and facilities, only to other organizations that have a comparable statement of non-discrimination. I think this makes it a stronger resolution because it calls for a form of direct action on our part.

TITLE: A Statement of Commitment to Justice for All People and a Call to Action for Palma Ceia United Methodist Church

SUBJECT: Equal Opportunity for all persons

REFERENCES: United Methodist Church Book of Discipline ¶161 and ¶162


FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS: There are no direct financial implications arising to Palma Ceia United Methodist Church associated with this resolution.

Inasmuch as Palma Ceia United Methodist Church has always been a church providing open hearts, open minds and open doors, it is appropriate that Palma Ceia United Methodist Church adopt a public statement of that commitment consistent with Biblical teaching and the Discipline of the United Methodist Church. This includes a call to action to put into practice our belief that people are free and secure only when all of society creates a social climate which believes in equal protection of and equal opportunity for all people. Especially as Methodists, “We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential in individuals…” ((United Methodist Church Book of Discipline ¶161)) As Plato said, “Justice will only exist where those not affected by injustice are filled with the same amount of indignation as those affected.”

Whereas, Christians have been called from the earliest days of Old Testament teaching to be Just to all, as in Micah 6:8 when the Prophet tells the people, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?,” and;

Whereas, the Father of Methodism, John Wesley, wrote in his, “Explanatory Notes on The Bible,” for this verse, “He – God hath already told you in his word, with what you ought to come before him. To do justly – To render to every one their due, superiors, equals, inferiors, to be equal to all, and oppress none, in body, goods or name; in all your dealings with men carry a chancery in your own breasts, and do according to equity. To love mercy – To be kind, merciful and compassionate to all, not using severity towards any. Walk humbly with thy God – Keep up a constant fellowship with God, by humble, holy faith,” and;

Whereas, as described in John Gill’s Exposition of The Entire Bible, “to do justice” or “judgment”; means to exercise public judgment and justice, as a king, among his subjects; to do private and personal justice between man and man; to hurt no man’s person, property, and character, and;

Whereas, Justice is doing what is right. It is living by the Golden Rule and making decisions that are good for everyone. It is building relationships in the marketplace, the neighborhood or the family upon goodness, truth, mercy and compassion. It is living above the culture’s values. Justice is the recognition, according to Tom Ehrich, that life matters, how we treat others matters and the choices we make here and now matter. Our decisions reveal our character and make the world better or worse. Pursuing justice makes it better, and;

Whereas, Justice is also making sure that everyone has a seat at the table, a tenant of Methodism from its earliest roots as the first item of the 1908 Social Creed of the Methodist Episcopal Church says, “For equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life,” and;      Continue reading »

Jena 6

 Crime, Places, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Jena 6
Nov 072007

OK, I’ve been meaning to post on this topic for a while. I realize it’s a touchy subject, especially given that my position (as is often the case) is not the most politically correct decision.

So here’s a quick review of what little I know about this situation:

  • A group of six black high school students beat a white student to point that he was hospitalized for a short time.
  • The fight appeared to be the result of heightened racial tensions that stem from nooses being hung in a tree near the school.
  • This tree appears to be a place where a largely white group tends to congregate, but some black students gathered at a tree at some point sparking consternation. (The tree has since been cut down.)
  • The six black students were charged with serious crimes of attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy.
  • I do not believe any white students were charged for putting up the nooses.

There is some more to the story, as is so often the case. As racial tensions were escalating after the “noose” incident, I’m given to understand that the local District Attorney (also the school system attorney) addressed the student body, and warned them that he held their future in his hands if they continued escalating the situation at the school.

Now, I am of the opinion that the DA probably over-reacted somewhat, and I think the original charges might have been excessive. I can’t look into the man’s heart and know what he was really thinking, but it appears he gave the students at the school a very stern warning. They should should have taken that warning to heart. This may not be racially motivated, and could just be that the DA felt he had given the students fair warning, they elected to ignore that warning, and he wanted to set an example so as to get a lid on the growing racial tension. He might have brought such serious charges hoping to have room to negotiate plea agreements to lesser charges. Certainly that’s a common tactic in criminal cases.

I’ve done some Googling, and it appears that plenty of black leaders have shown up, and are calling for all charges to be dropped, and for the black students to get off scott free. Let me just get it right out there…I do not agree. Maybe there should be some reduction in the charges, but they don’t get to walk from this with no punishment. Why aren’t these very same black leaders calling for marches in front of Fox News headquarters after Bill O’Reilley’s recent racially insensitive comments? (I’ll tell you why, they want to get to keep coming on TV.)

Let’s not forget that a single student was beaten to the point of requiring hospitalization by a group / gang of six other students. It really doesn’t matter anyone’s ethnicity here, what matters is that an individual got beaten by a gang. This does require serious charges, and certainly demands a firm punishment.  Continue reading »