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Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

Sexual Deception and Ignorant Consent


Today I saw a Dr. Phil episode (yes occasionally I watch Dr. Phil and I’m aware it’s sort of trash TV) about people who tricked their significant others into marrying them through pregnancy. I don’t know if it was a rerun or not, but it left an impression on me.

One of the cases was a woman who stopped taking her birth control without telling her boyfriend at the time and lying to him when he would ask if she was taking it so she would get pregnant. She succeeded, and her boyfriend married her. The other case was a man who convinced his girlfriend to let him go without a condom and use the withdrawal method instead. He did not withdraw because he wanted to get her pregnant and sure enough, she did and they got married. They would go on to have a second child. The third pregnancy was a surprise to the wife because as far as she knew they had not had sex in months, but it turned out that her husband had had sex with her while she was asleep unbeknownst to her, an act that many would consider marital rape, but the wife just said that she felt that he had violated her and wouldn’t use the word rape. They also had a fourth child later on.

This should be a crime. It should be a crime to deceive someone in this way. First of all, the second case is just straight-up marital rape.

But the first case is not a crime and the withdrawal incident in the second case isn’t a crime. It is not technically a crime to trick someone into a pregnancy. To me this is a disgusting action, and only a step below rape.

Think about it. In the first case, do you think the man would have given his girlfriend his consent to have sex without a condom if he knew that she was not on birth control? No. He consented to a false situation. He did not give his consent to the real situation because he, to no fault of his own, was ignorant of all the facts. He had been lied to. This is what I call ignorant consent: consenting to something under false pretenses. And I do not believe it is a valid form of consent when it comes to sex.

The same goes for when someone has an STD. If someone has an STD that is not outwardly visible. But you consented to the sex so there’s nothing you can do about it and that person gets off scot-free. If that person had told you they had the virus/syndrome/disease/infection, would you have consented to the sex? Perhaps not. So in a way, isn’t that kind of like rape? I’m not saying it is exactly the same thing or that it’s on the same level, but the parallels are there.

This crime should be called sexual deception. And the basis for a guilty verdict should be whether the victim gave ignorant or fully informed consent. If someone gets someone to consent to sexual acts with them by using deception or by withholding information that may impact their partner’s decision, it should be a crime. Sexual deception should be a crime, and the grounds should be ignorant consent. It is a step below rape. No man or woman should get an STD because someone lies about whether they have one or not. No man or woman should be deceived into a pregnancy that they don’t want. All of these things should be illegal. These things can happen to someone who carelessly sleeps around or someone in a committed relationship with someone they think they can trust. And we know that marital rape can happen. But that is a whole other issue altogether. Or is it? Perhaps sometimes these things overlap. So let’s reserve judgment over each other’s sexual lifestyles and all just agree on the fact that sexual deception by ignorant consent is totally wrong.

And when it comes to getting trapped in pregnancies, let’s not forget about the impact it has on the kids. Any kid that results from a trap pregnancy has the burden of holding a relationship together from the moment it exits the womb. The child is merely a pawn in a game. And there may even be some resentment towards them. And oftentimes the relationship between the parents is strained which leads to further stress for the child.

And whoever the victim is should be allowed more leniency when it comes to child support payments when it comes to trap pregnancies.

Sexual deception by ignorant consent is a horrible act. Let’s fight to make this illegal.

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Ferguson Fiasco


Here is the link to the United States Department of Justice’s Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department report written in its entirety http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/national/department-of-justice-report-on-the-ferguson-mo-police-department/1435/.

Fox News Radio Host John Gibson wrote an article on March 5, 2015 called “‘HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT’ WAS A LIE–FERGUSON MUNICIPAL COURT TAKES THE FALL.” In the article he takes the position that the United States Department of Justice’s Investigative Report on the Ferguson Police Department is Eric Holder settling for revenge on the institution because he couldn’t get revenge on the man he really wanted to: Darren Wilson. Those are his words, not mine.

Here is a link to his article http://nation.foxnews.com/2015/03/06/john-gibson-hands-dont-shoot-was-lie-ferguson-municipal-court-takes-fall.

Gibson writes, “Attorney General Eric Holder was very angry at Ferguson, Missouri, erupting in a near-the-end-of-his-tenure tirade: Ferguson, he said was a ‘community where both policing and municipal court practices were found to disproportionately harm African American residents…where this harm frequently appears to stem…from racial bias…'”

Let’s first start off with the words “angry” and “tirade.” When I watched his press conference, I did not see any anger on Holder’s face or hear any anger in his voice. And I certainly would not describe what he said as a tirade. He stated the findings and conclusions of the report. These words have angry black man stereotype written all over them. Gibson is either race-baiting, had a skewed view of Holder’s emotions due to subconscious prejudices, or watched a different press conference than I did. And to say that he was angry “at Ferguson” is also an incorrect statement. Why would he be angry at the entire city? To say he is angry at Ferguson implies that he is not only angry at Ferguson’s institutions but also at all of its citizens and residents.

Gibson would go on to write, “The Attorney General sent squads of investigators over to Ferguson to turn over every racist rock, and the more they investigated, the angrier he became…he ultimately found that he couldn’t achieve his main goal, an indictment of police officer Darren Wilson, but he could take out a secondary target…the Ferguson Police Department itself, and he came to the conclusion that he could also blame and punish the municipal court system across the entire state of Missouri.”

Once again we have this idea of anger. But Gibson introduces another idea: a witch hunt. I read through most of the Department of Justice’s report on the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) and it certainly is not much of a hunt when there is evidence all over the place of a conspiracy (more on that is coming up).

But Gibson keeps pumping out nonsense: “Holder would have loved to prosecute Wilson, but his investigators found that [Michael] Brown did go after officer Wilson’s gun, and did charge the officer only a few seconds later, and both those actions led to Brown’s death…all those fabulists who told investigators that Brown was an innocent young man who was hunted down and executed by a racist white cop while trying to surrender were willfully and maliciously lying. But the official Department of Justice report does not indicate such perjurious testimony to federal investigators that will lead to charges against those who purposely distorted the truth.”

This idea that these droves of people were maliciously lying is ridiculous. It has been shown time and time again through studies that eyewitnesses can recall events very differently in their respective memories. The part that is unclear is whether Brown was charging or stumbling and falling trying to put his hands up when Wilson fired the fatal shots. Many different forensic pathologists have come out with many different opinions on the issue. We will probably never know what happened in those final seconds. Third, the reason that so many people believe that a police officer would do such a thing as execute a black teenager is because of the distrust of Ferguson police, especially among Ferguson’s black residents, which is made understandable by the findings in the DOJ report (which I will get to in a minute). This idea of perjury is ridiculous.

Gibson then goes on to say, “In other words, the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ mantra was a lie meant to railroad an innocent police officer, but the liars got a pass from the Attorney General.” This is just flat out insane. There is no way that this mantra would have started unless people genuinely believed that he was guilty. And the bigger picture of the “hands up, don’t shoot” movement is that it speaks to the issue of racial disparity between police and black people as a whole around this nation. Need I mention names of people who were for sure unjustifiably killed (Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tanesha Anderson, etc.)?

Gibson’s diarrhea of the mouth continues: “But the Department of Justice investigation did reward the Attorney General with a jackpot prize. His investigators discovered that…city administrators in Ferguson pressured police officers to write tickets in order to pad the coffers of the city, and…since black people break motor vehicle laws of various sorts on a regular basis, Ferguson police were writing many many tickets to black drivers. The first point must have been a stunner to the idealist innocents stationed in the D.C. headquarters of the Department of Justice. ‘Wait….police departments write tickets in order to generate revenue for the city government? Whoa!’ Yes, this naivete is happening. The naifs at the DOJ were shocked to discover traffic tickets were a source of revenue for the City of Ferguson, and even more shocked to discover the city administration was keeping tabs on the police chief to make sure his officers wrote more and more tickets…I should interject I am against any city pressuring cops to write tickets under quotas in order to exact a stealth tax out of its citizens…But please don’t tell me this is news.”

There’s so much to rip apart here. First of all, I doubt that anyone in the Department of Justice, especially the Attorney General, sees injustice as a “prize.” The second is the notion that black people “break motor vehicle laws…on a regular basis.” Is Gibson talking about black people in Ferguson or all black people? If he’s talking about all black people that’s extremely racist, and even if he’s just talking about black people in Ferguson he is wrong. And the Justice Department is not shocked at the fact that Ferguson generates revenue by writing tickets, but at the unbelievable extent to which it does so and how this revenue is made disproportionately off of poor black Ferguson residents.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things black people in Ferguson get ticketed or cited for according to the DOJ report.

In the summer of 2012 a black man was sitting in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a public park. Children also happened to be present at this public park. A police officer thought this was suspicious and that he might be a predator. The officer pulled up behind the man’s car, blocking him in and demanded the man’s Social Security number and identification. The officer then accused him of being a pedophile without any legitimate evidence and ordered the man out of the car for a patdown even though there was no reason to suspect that he had a weapon. When the officer asked to search the man’s car, the man objected and cited his constitutional rights. So the officer arrested the man at gunpoint. The man was charged with eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code. Some of these included Making a False Declaration because when the officer asked for his name he gave his nickname (for example, Mike instead of Michael) and having an address that was different from the one on his driver’s license even though his address was legitimate and for not wearing a seatbelt even though he was in a parked car. Because of the arrest, the man lost his job with the federal government that he had held for a number of years.

Here’s another example. In October 2012, police pulled over a black man claiming his passenger side brake light was broken. The driver had recently replaced the light and knew it was working. But one officer said to him, “Let’s see how many tickets you’re going to get,” while another officer tapped his taser on the top of the man’s car. The officers wrote him a citation for “tail light/reflector/license plate light out” and refused to let the man get out of his car to show them that it was working, saying to him, “Don’t you get out of that car until you get to your house.” He was so upset that he went to the police station that night to show a sergeant that his lights worked.

In February 2012 an officer wrote a Disturbing the Peace ticket for loud music coming from a car even though no one had complained about the music.

Here are some statistics about the disparity between black people, other citizens, and the police in Ferguson provided by the DOJ report.

Black people account for 85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests in Ferguson. Ferguson’s population is 67% black. That means that there is an 18% disparity between blacks and other residents in vehicle stops, a 23% disparity between blacks and other residents in citations, and a 26% disparity between blacks and other residents in arrests. Unless we assume that there is something in the nature or genes of black people that makes them more likely to break the law (which would be racist and wrong), the only explanation for disparities this great can be institutional racism.

Black residents of Ferguson are more than twice as likely as white residents to be searched during vehicle stops even after controlling for non-race based variables such as the reason the vehicle stop was initiated but are found in possession of contraband 26% less often than white drivers.

From 2012 to 2014, FPD issued four or more citations to black residents 73 times. Ferguson police did this to non-black people only twice according to the DOJ.

From 2011-2013, 95% of Manner of Walking in Roadway charges and 94% of all Failure to Comply charges were charged to blacks in Ferguson according to the DOJ.

When it comes to speeding charges, the number of black people in Ferguson that are cited by using a method other than radar or laser is 48% larger than other people charged on the basis of radar or laser.

Gibson notes that ticketing practices similar to the ones in Ferguson for traffic violations happen in New York City. No one is saying they aren’t or that Ferguson is the only place guilty of these things. If anything, I would say that Holder and the DOJ are using Ferguson as an example to show people that things like this happen and is using it as a microcosm for what is true about many municipalities in our country.

Gibson also would go on to say, “But the Attorney General also felt sulfurous and wrathful at the Municipal Court in Ferguson. He found it was also complicit in the revenue scheme that starts with a traffic fine, which graduates to late fees, which then graduates to a bench warrant, which results in an arrest, and jail time, and finally a payment plan that keeps (black) traffic violators in near perpetual indebtedness to the court…There is…punishment for the municipal court itself and new rules imposed on the court. According to the DOJ demands, the municipal court in Ferguson must ‘undertake a review of current fine amounts and ensure that…(they)…are not overly punitive, and take into account the income of Ferguson residents.’ (Emphasis added.) In other words, don’t fine traffic violators more than they say they can pay. And in assessing that individual’s ability to pay, the court should ‘include not only a consideration of the financial resources of an individual, but also consideration of any documented fines owed to other municipal courts.’ (Emphasis mine.) So the violator gets a break (not further punishment) the more violations he or she has committed…This means that in Ferguson…a black driver does not have to concern himself with traffic violations. If he were to get a ticket, he can ignore it. The court will find it nearly impossible to force the payment of a fine.”

Here again we have the stereotype of the angry black man being “sulfurous and wrathful.” It appears Gibson also felt the need to once again emphasize the fact that black people supposedly commit more traffic violations by putting black in parentheses before “traffic violators.” Perhaps Gibson does have an argument about not being lenient about people’s responsibility to pay for traffic violations and court fees just because of their ability to pay. Or he would if so many of the citations weren’t legally invalid in the first place. Think about it. Someone gets illegally cited or ticketed, has to go to court, can’t pay the court fee, has a late payment fee slapped on them, then next time they have to appear in court gets to court late because they don’t have a reliable method of transportation, so they get a penalty for showing up late, they can only partially the court plus late fee, so they have another fee slapped on them, have to go to jail, and so on and so forth, and they get trapped in an endless cycle of payments and late fees and arrests and jailtime that they can’t get out of all because of a citation that they got for committing no crime whatsoever. With the statistics and findings in the DOJ report, I can’t even imagine how many people this happened to. Also, just to illustrate the disparity when it comes to having court cases dismissed in Ferguson, according to the DOJ black people are 68% less likely to have their cases dismissed by a municipal judge. In 2013 black people made up 92% of cases in which an arrest warrant was issued according to the DOJ, which is 25% more than the percentage of the population they make up (67%). Black people also accounted for 96% of known arrests made exclusively due to an outstanding municipal warrant, a 29% disparity between the percentage of the population of Ferguson they make up (67%). Then Gibson insinuates that due to the changes that the DOJ is demanding, black drivers will have it easy, as if black people will ever have it easy, especially in a racist city like Ferguson.

Let’s face it: the city of Ferguson as an institution is not just unintentionally institutionally racist; it’s actively institutionally racist. The institution that is the city of Ferguson actively picks on black people. And that is something that I did not expect the Department of Justice to find. I was not surprised by the fact that Ferguson is institutionally racist, but the fact that it actively preys on its black residents.

EVERYONE was in on it. The court officials and the cops and the city officials of all ranks were all working together to carry out this scheme. Racism was not only present among these individuals, but rampant. Don’t believe me?

Here’s some examples of and excerpts from emails proving the extent of the conspiracy quoted in the DOJ report.

“Unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year, it will be hard to significantly raise collections next year. . . . Given that we are looking at a substantial sales tax shortfall, it’s not an insignificant issue.”

“Court fees are anticipated to rise about 7.5%. I did ask the Chief if he thought the PD could deliver 10% increase. He indicated they could try.”

According to the DOJ, “in June 2010, at the request of the City, the Chief prepared a report comparing court revenues in Ferguson to court revenues for cities of similar sizes. The Chief’s email sending the report to the City Manager notes that, ‘of the 80 St. Louis County Municipal Courts reporting revenue, only 8, including Ferguson, have collections greater than one million dollars.’”

According to the DOJ, “in March 2011, the Chief reported to the City Manager that court revenue in February was $179,862.50, and that the total ‘beat our next biggest month in the last four years by over $17,000,’ to which the City Manager responded: ‘Wonderful!’”

According to the DOJ, “in a January 2013 email from Chief Jackson to the City Manager, the Chief reported: ‘Municipal Court gross revenue for calendar year 2012 passed the $2,000,000 mark for the first time in history, reaching $2,066,050 (not including red light photo enforcement).’ The City Manager responded: ‘Awesome! Thanks!’”

According to the DOJ, “In one March 2012 email…The Captain noted that ‘[t]he [court clerk] girls have been swamped all day with a line of people paying off fines today. Since 9:30 this morning there hasn’t been less than 5 people waiting in line and for the last three hours 10 to 15 people at all times.’ The City Manager enthusiastically reported the Captain’s email to the City Council and congratulated both police department and court staff on their ‘great work.’”

Here is some more evidence found by the DOJ of a money-making conspiracy from excerpts of the DOJ report.

“The City’s emphasis on revenue generation has a profound effect on FPD’s approach to law enforcement. Patrol assignments and schedules are geared toward aggressive enforcement of Ferguson’s municipal code, with insufficient thought given to whether enforcement strategies promote public safety or unnecessarily undermine community trust and cooperation. Officer evaluations and promotions depend to an inordinate degree on ‘productivity,’ meaning the number of citations issued.”

“The court imposes these severe penalties for missed appearances and payments even as several of the court’s practices create unnecessary barriers to resolving a municipal violation. The court often fails to provide clear and accurate information regarding a person’s charges or court obligations…the court’s fine assessment procedures do not adequately provide for a defendant to seek a fine reduction on account of financial incapacity or to seek alternatives to payment such as community service. City and court officials have adhered to these court practices despite acknowledging their needlessly harmful consequences. In August 2013, for example, one City Councilmember wrote to the City Manager, the Mayor, and other City officials lamenting the lack of a community service option and noted the benefits of such a program, including that it would ‘keep…people that simply don’t have the money to pay their fines from constantly being arrested and going to jail, only to be released and do it all over again…these court practices exacerbate the harm of Ferguson’s unconstitutional police practices. They impose a particular hardship upon Ferguson’s most vulnerable residents, especially upon those living in or near poverty. Minor offenses can generate crippling debts, result in jail time because of an inability to pay, and result in the loss of a driver’s license, employment, or housing.”

“Of the $11.07 million in general fund revenue the City collected in fiscal year 2010, $1.38 million came from fines and fees collected by the court; similarly, in fiscal year 2011, the City’s general fund revenue of $11.44 million included $1.41 million from fines and fees. In its budget for fiscal year 2012, however, the City predicted that revenue from municipal fines and fees would increase over 30% from the previous year’s amount to $1.92 million; the court exceeded that target, collecting $2.11 million. In its budget for fiscal year 2013, the City budgeted for fines and fees to yield $2.11 million; the court exceeded that target as well, collecting $2.46 million. For 2014, the City budgeted for the municipal court to generate $2.63 million in revenue. The City has not yet made public the actual revenue collected that year, although budget documents forecasted lower revenue than was budgeted. Nonetheless, for fiscal year 2015, the City’s budget anticipates fine and fee revenues to account for $3.09 million of a projected $13.26 million in general fund revenues.”

“In a February 2011 report requested by the City Council at a Financial Planning Session and drafted by Ferguson’s Finance Director with contributions from Chief Jackson, the Finance Director reported on ‘efforts to increase efficiencies and maximize collection’ by the municipal court. The report included an extensive comparison of Ferguson’s fines to those of surrounding municipalities and noted with approval that Ferguson’s fines are ‘at or near the top of the list.’ The chart noted, for example, that while other municipalities’ parking fines generally range from $5 to $100, Ferguson’s is $102. The chart noted also that the charge for “Weeds/Tall Grass” was as little as $5 in one city but, in Ferguson, it ranged from $77 to $102. The report stated that the acting prosecutor had reviewed the City’s ‘high volume offenses’ and ‘started recommending higher fines on these cases, and recommending probation only infrequently.’ While the report stated that this recommendation was because of a ‘large volume of non-compliance,’ the recommendation was in fact emphasized as one of several ways that the code enforcement system had been honed to produce more revenue.”

“Not all officers within FPD agree with [the revenue generation] approach. Several officers commented on the futility of imposing mounting penalties on people who will never be able to afford them. One member of FPD’s command staff quoted an old adage, asking: ‘How can you get blood from a turnip?’ Another questioned why FPD did not allow residents to use their limited resources to fix equipment violations, such as broken headlights, rather than paying that money to the City, as fixing the equipment violation would more directly benefit public safety.”

“However, enough officers—at all ranks—have internalized this message that a culture of reflexive enforcement action, unconcerned with whether the police action actually promotes public safety, and unconcerned with the impact the decision has on individual lives or community trust as a whole, has taken hold within FPD. One commander told us…that when he admonished an officer for writing too many tickets, the officer challenged the commander, asking if the commander was telling him not to do his job. When another commander tried to discipline an officer for over-ticketing, he got the same response from the Chief of Police: ‘No discipline for doing your job.’”

If you don’t believe me that racism is not just present but rampant among Ferguson’s police, city officials, and court officials, here are some emails and excerpts of emails provided or described by the DOJ report.

“An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’”

According to the DOJ, “A March 2010 email mocked African Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. One line from the email read: ‘I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!’”

According to the DOJ, “An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.”

According to the DOJ, “A June 2011 email described a man seeking to obtain ‘welfare’ for his dogs because they are ‘mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.’”

According to the DOJ, “A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because ‘what black man holds a steady job for four years.’”

According to the DOJ, “An October 2011 email included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, ‘Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.’”

According to the DOJ, “A December 2011 email included jokes that are based on offensive stereotypes about Muslims.”

According to the DOJ, “Our review of documents revealed many additional email communications that exhibited racial or ethnic bias…Our investigation has not revealed any indication that any officer or court clerk engaged in these communications was ever disciplined. Nor did we see a single instance in which a police or court recipient of such an email asked that the sender refrain from sending such emails, or any indication that these emails were reported as inappropriate. Instead, the emails were usually forwarded along to others.”

And if you still don’t believe me that there’s rampant racism throughout the police department here are some examples and statistics of use of force on black people as well as other actions committed by Ferguson police provided by the DOJ.

In July 2014 a group of FPD officers shouted racial epithets at a group of a young black man and his friends as they were walking.

Eighty-eight percent of cases in which FPD used force were against black people in Ferguson. That’s a 21% disparity from the 67% black racial makeup of Ferguson’s population.

In every incident where a Ferguson police dog bit someone, the person was black. Gee, does that bring back memories America?

In August 2014, a black man who was having an argument in his apartment that FPD officers responded to was immediately pulled out of the apartment by force. When he told the officer, “You don’t have a reason to lock me up,” the officer responded, “Nigger, I can find something to lock you up on.” The man responded, “Good luck with that,” and the officer slammed his face into the wall. The man fell to the floor and the officer said, “Don’t pass out motherfucker because I’m not carrying you to my car.”

According to the DOJ, “In a January 2014 incident, officers attempted to arrest a young African-American man for trespassing on his girlfriend’s grandparents’ property, even though the man had been invited into the home by the girlfriend. According to officers, he resisted arrest, requiring several officers to subdue him. Seven officers repeatedly struck and used their ECWs against the subject, who was 5’8” and 170 pounds. The young man suffered head lacerations with significant bleeding.”

According to the DOJ, “In January 2013, a patrol sergeant stopped an African-American man after he saw the man talk to an individual in a truck and then walk away. The sergeant detained the man, although he did not articulate any reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. When the man declined to answer questions or submit to a frisk—which the sergeant sought to execute despite articulating no reason to believe the man was armed—the sergeant grabbed the man by the belt, drew his ECW, and ordered the man to comply. The man…objected that he had not done anything wrong. Video captured by the ECW’s built-in camera shows that the man made no aggressive movement toward…The sergeant fired the ECW…causing the man to fall to the ground. The sergeant almost immediately applied the ECW again, which he later justified in his report by claiming that the man tried to stand up. The video makes clear…that the man never tried to stand—he only writhed in pain on the ground. The video also shows that the sergeant applied the ECW nearly continuously for 20 seconds, longer than represented in his report. The man was charged with Failure to Comply and Resisting Arrest, but no independent criminal violation.”

In cases where it is apparent that a person might have a mental health issue or may be on drugs, Ferguson officers either don’t seem to give a shit about their training to deal with them with more care and understanding or don’t seem to have had any training in this area. According to the DOJ, “In August 2010, an officer responded to a call about an African-American man walking onto the highway and lying down on the pavement. Seeing that the man was sweating, acting jittery, and had dilated pupils, the officer believed he was on drugs. The man was cooperative at first but balked, pushing the officer back when the officer tried to handcuff him for safety reasons. The officer struck the man several times with his Asp® baton—including once in the head, a form of deadly force—causing significant bleeding. Two other officers then deployed their ECWs against the man a total of five times.”

According to the DOJ, “FPD officers respond to misbehavior common among students with arrest and force, rather than reserving arrest for cases involving safety threats. As one SRO told us, the arrests he made during the 2013-14 school year overwhelmingly involved minor offenses—Disorderly Conduct, Peace Disturbance, and Failure to Comply with instructions. In one case, an SRO decided to arrest a 14-year-old African-American student at the Ferguson Middle School for Failure to Comply when the student refused to leave the classroom after getting into a trivial argument with another student. The situation escalated, resulting in the student being drive-stunned with an ECW in the classroom and the school seeking a 180-day suspension for the student. SROs’ propensity for arresting students demonstrates a lack of understanding of the negative consequences associated with such arrests. In fact, SROs told us that they viewed increased arrests in the schools as a positive result of their work. This perspective suggests a failure of training (including training in mental health, counseling, and the development of the teenage brain); a lack of priority given to de-escalation and conflict resolution; and insufficient appreciation for the negative educational and long-term outcomes that can result from treating disciplinary concerns as crimes and using force on students.”

If you still don’t believe me, there’s something wrong with you.

One more statistic. Ferguson’s police department is made up of 50 white officers and 3 black officers. I will remind you once again that Ferguson’s population is 67% black. I wonder if this is on purpose.

There is only one conclusion we can come to with this information: the city/town of Ferguson, as an institution, hates black people and loves to prey on them and see them suffer. They think it’s funny. And they know it’s profitable. And they have intentionally set up their institutions and departments so white people will be at the top and have all the power. What is institutional racism? Institutional racism=prejudice+power. But this is worse. Ferguson is actively institutionally racist. It wants to whip black people while they’re down. And I guarantee you that it’s not the only town in our country like this. Granted, I think this is rare for a town to be actively and intentionally institutionally racist to this extent. But trust me; Ferguson is probably not the only one. However, unintentional institutional racism is rampant throughout our society. And people are totally blind to it. More than half of the “millennial” generation believe that racism against white people is as bad or worse than that against other races today. The light at the end of the tunnel for this new information about Ferguson is that perhaps it will open people’s eyes to the fact that racism still exists. And perhaps in some ways this kind of racism is more dangerous than the kind that used to be more prevalent back in the days of Jim Crow because it is undercover and operating behind the scenes and under the surface. It’s right under our noses and we may not even realize it. And why? Because we don’t talk about it anymore. We like to pretend it’s dead. But it will never go away. All we can hope to do is keep it in check by being aware of our own subconscious prejudices and racism and fighting them. So the question I must ask Mr. Gibson is, how much of the report did you really read? Did we even read the same report?

Slaves to Greatness


We often say in this country that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. As an American, I believe it is too.

But I don’t see this as a fact, but as a matter of opinion. It’s more like the USA is my favorite country.

But when we say it’s the greatest country in the world, what are we measuring its greatness by? Here are some reasons that people say the US is the greatest country.

  • diversity
  • freedom
  • government system
  • opportunity
  • military might
  • power
  • achievements and advancements we’ve made and our contributions to the world in terms of inventions, technology, exploring uncharted territory, and science
  • Some say it’s because we’re the most important or influential country.
  • standard of living and wealth
  • capitalism
  • economy
  • culture
  • natural beauty
  • people
  • principles
  • resilience
  • the nature of our revolution
  • patriotism
  • adherence to religion
  • American dream
  • drive

Out of all these things, most people tend to focus on the idea that we are the world’s “superpower.” And God forbid anyone tells us that we’re not the best, especially if that person is an American. Then they are a traitor. Because in America we don’t just want to be the best, we have to be the best. And to most Americans being the best ties in heavily with being the most powerful or the most important or the most prestigious. And we are terrified of the idea of not being the best. And to many Americans, our country is the greatest as a result of this desire.

But this isn’t just true of our country as a collective whole. The reason that our country as a whole has this attitude is because so many individual people have this attitude. Oftentimes parents’ social status are dependent on what kind of grades their kid is getting in school, or what college their kid is going to, or whether or not their kid even goes to college, or what profession their kid chooses, or if their kid has an internship by their junior year of college or not.

Or people are often defined by what kind of stuff they have. We always have to have the latest technology. Recently in September the iPhone 6 came out. And there are always people who when something like that is released CAMP OUTSIDE THE STORE SO THEY CAN BE ONE OF THE FIRST TO BUY IT. The iPhone 5S came out a year before that around the same time, and iPhones have a pretty good lifespan. The iPhone 5S could certainly last you more than a year. But nope gotta have the iPhone 6 because everyone else is going to have one and you don’t want to be left out. Samsung releases a new phone in their Galaxy S series every year, but for each phone in the series sometimes as soon as one month they will release a new version of that phone and every few months will release a new version of the phone. And of course people can’t have their current phone anymore; they have to have the newest thing. For those who are a bit more well-off, go out and buy a home theater system. I guarantee you within the same year your neighbor buys one too. And it will be a better home theater system than the one you bought.

This attitude even is in the heads of younger children! A kid gets a new toy (or these days maybe even a Kindle or an iPad or a tablet) and if they’re kind of a rotten kid they rub it in the face of all the kids that don’t have it to show how much better they are. It gives the kid a sense of superiority because they has a thing that the others don’t. Some of the kids are just like, oh wow that’s cool, but then move on with their lives. Other kids go home and ask their parents if they can have the thing that the little flaunty Francis has and their parents say no because they either can’t afford it or don’t want to spoil their child; some of these kids will just be like, oh okay, whatever, and move on with their lives, other ones whose view of themselves is dependent on social status will throw tantrums. Some of the parents of the kids that throw tantrums will cave, others won’t. Other kids go home and ask their parents if they can have the toy and the parents realizing that the other kid has something that their child doesn’t have to make their kid equal to this other child so they go out and buy it for him.

When people get ridiculously rich, such as professional athletes, some of them buy like 10 cars. Now maybe I’m wrong, but I can only imagine that they would do this for one of two reasons: either they are a car collecting enthusiast, or they just want to be able to say I’m so rich; look how many cars I have. Somehow to them this makes them better than other people.

When someone is engaged to someone, oftentimes others’ opinion of their choice is judged on what they do for a living or what socioeconomic class their family comes from. Or how big the diamond on the ring is.

We even sometimes judge people’s intelligence by what they do for a living. For whatever reason, it seems that many in our society don’t look at people who have blue collar professions such as mechanics and plumbers as smart, even though those jobs require a lot of problem solving skills. Yet we call them “unskilled laborers.”

With all this in mind, I think we really need to take a look at how we define greatness.

One disturbing fact is that the reason we give Alexander the Great his “Great” epithet is because of how he conquered so many lands. Is that what makes someone great?

We give Peter the Great, one of the czars of Russia, “the Great” because he brought many elements of Western culture to Russia, ignoring the fact that he murdered his oldest son Alexei after brutally torturing him for opposing his policies and also dragged Alexei’s mother from her home on false charges of adultery and tortured. His mistress also suffered a similar fate. Oh yeah he was an adulterer too. He was a horrible human being. But because he brought elements of Western culture to Russia, he’s considered “Great.”

Charlemagne (which is French for Charles the Great) is another revered historical figure in Western culture because he conquered and united lands and became King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans and ruled over most of western Europe. Oftentimes in his conquering of these lands his armies would massacre people and he would order people to become Christian or else face the penalty of death. But yeah, great guy.

Another son of a bitch who is a revered historical figure is none other than American President Andrew Jackson! This guy owned hundreds of slaves, killed a man in a duel over a matter of honor regarding Jackson’s wife, and ordered many indigenous Americans who refused to “assimilate” to be removed from their homes and be relocated to land west of the Mississippi River that would be known as Indian Territory in a supervised, on-foot exodus that resembled a Nazi death march where over 1,000 indigenous Americans died. But he was president and a famous war hero in the War of 1812 for winning many battles against indigenous Americans and against British soldiers and for the Battle of New Orleans, so we decided to put him on the 20!

Sounds like we have a pretty screwed up definition of greatness if these guys are viewed as great men and heroes in our culture. What do all these figures have in common? They were powerful. Both in the sense of being able to best people and being in positions of power. So in this country it seems that more than anything greatness=power. So when we say we are the best, we are saying that we are the most powerful. So as a country, we want to be the most powerful. And as individuals, we want to be of the highest status. Why? Because status=power. So as a collective whole we want our status to be the most powerful country in the world and in turn the best.

We are slaves to this desire, this deep desire to fulfill our self-esteem by achieving the highest status. But is that really greatness? After all, slave is a pretty low status. When you are a slave to a desire, it becomes a need.

In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said that as a nation it is not whether we lead, but how we lead.

A few days ago was Martin Luther King Day, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who truly understood the meaning of greatness. He also understood the existence of this innate American desire to be first. My favorite speech ever delivered by Dr. King isn’t his “I Have a Dream” speech, but a sermon he gave called “The Drum Major Instinct,” which was played at his funeral. In this speech he demonstrates both his understanding of greatness and his understanding of the American ideal of and need for greatness. Here are some excerpts from that sermon.

“If any of you are round when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards, that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his live serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”

“And…Jesus goes on…to say [to James and John], ‘”But so it shall be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your servant: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”‘ The setting is clear. James and John…had dreamed as most of the Hebrews dreamed, of a coming king of Israel who would set Jerusalem free and establish his kingdom on Mount Zion, and in righteousness rule the world. And they thought of Jesus as this kind of king…and they were saying, ‘Now when you establish your kingdom, let one of us sit on the right hand and the other on the left hand of your throne.’ Now very quickly, we would automatically condemn James and John, and…say they were selfish…But before we condemn them too quickly, let us look calmly and honestly at ourselves, and we will discover that we too have those same basic desires for recognition, for importance. That same desire for attention, that same desire to be first…And there is deep down within all of us an instinct…kind of a drum major instinct…a desire to be first. And it is something that runs the whole gamut of life…we all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade.”

“Now the presence of this [drum major] instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers…they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this type of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff.”

“…the drum major instinct is real. And you know what else causes it to happen? It often causes us to live above our means…Do you ever see people buy cars that they can’t even begin to buy in terms of their income? You’ve seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don’t earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. But it feeds a repressed ego.”

“…you see people over and over again with the drum major instinct taking them over. And they just live their lives trying to outdo the Joneses. They’ve got to get this coat because this particular coat is a little better than Mary’s coat. And I’ve got to drive this car because it’s something about this car that makes my car a little better than my neighbor’s car. I know a man who used to live in a $35,000. And other people started building $35,000 houses, so he built a $75,000 house. And then somebody else built a $75,000 house, and he built a $100,000 house. [(Keep in mind that this sermon was given back in 1968, so inflation has increased the dollar amount that houses cost nowadays. Back then houses worth this much were not exactly super cheap.)] And I don’t know where he’s going to end up if he’s going to live his life trying to keep up with the Joneses.”

“There comes a point where the drum major instinct can become destructive…if this instinct is not harnessed, it becomes a very dangerous, pernicious instinct…if it isn’t harnessed, it causes one’s personality to become distorted…you will end up day in and day out trying to deal with your ego problem by boasting…And then it does other things to the personality. It causes you to lie about who you know sometimes…the other thing is that it causes one to engage ultimately in activities that are merely used to get attention. Criminologists tell us that some people are driven to crime because of the drum major instinct. They don’t feel that they are getting enough attention through the normal channels of social behavior…the great final tragedy of the distorted personality is that when one fails to harness this instinct, he ends up trying to push others down in order to push himself up. And whenever you do that, you engage in the most vicious activities…the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct…when you don’t harness the drum major instinct–this uncontrolled aspect of it–is that it leads to snobbish exclusivism…that can happen with the church…I’ve been to churches, you know, and they say, ‘We have so many doctors…teachers…lawyers, and…businessmen in our church.’ And that’s fine, because doctors need to go to church, and lawyers, and businessmen, teachers–they ought to be in church. But they say that…as if the other people don’t count. And the church is the one place where the doctor ought to forget that he’s a doctor…a Ph. D. ought to forget that he’s a Ph. D….the…teacher ought to forget the degree she has behind her name…the lawyer ought to forget he’s a lawyer.”

“…let me rush on to my conclusion, because I want you to see what Jesus was really saying…One would have thought that Jesus would have condemned [James and John]…But that isn’t what Jesus did; he did something altogether different. He said in substance, ‘Oh, I see, you want to be first. You want to be great. You want to be important. You want to be significant. Well, you ought to be. If you’re going to be my disciple, you must be.’ But he reordered his priorities. And he said, ‘Yes, don’t give up this [drum major] instinct. It’s…good…if you use it right…if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important…for being first. But I want you to be first in love. I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity. That is what I want you to do.'”

“And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important–wonderful. If you want to be recognized–wonderful. If you want to be great–wonderful. But recognize that he who is the greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness. And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

“…if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.”

When we ask ourselves what the greatest country in the world is or why America is the greatest country in the world, why are the first thoughts in our head not how happy our people are, or how righteous we are? Why do we not measure our greatness by how much we love each other or how our people treat each other? Why do we not measure our personal success or greatness or status this way?

The true way to be great is not to be slaves to greatness, but to be servants of love. And to make ourselves happy. What’s the point of achievement if we are never satisfied? It seems like in this country our people are insatiable and in turn our country as a whole is insatiable. Yes we should always strive to be first. But why is anything other than first a failure? Why do we have the mindset of Ricky Bobby when it comes to success? Why can’t we ever be satisfied with just doing a good job or with what we have? Why is everything in life a competition for us in America?

We value the wrong things when it comes to greatness. Dr. King showed us what real greatness really is. He showed us the power of service and sacrifice and love. And that’s why we admire him so much. We just don’t realize it. If we put the kind of greatness that he valued on a higher pedestal than the kind of greatness our country currently values, we would be a much happier country. Many wise people through history have taught us that love of others and love of self is the true way to happiness, not love of power and wealth and status, men like King, Jesus, Lao Tzu, the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Confucius, St. Francis, Mother Theresa, etc. Yet we still choose the latter as the one we strive for. Let’s change our definition of greatness. Like the President said, it’s not whether we lead but how we lead. What’s the point of being the world’s leading power if we’re not a nation that the world want to look up to? I’m not saying that other countries around the world are any or much better than we are when it comes to this type of thing, but there are countries out there that seem to value power less and happiness and communitarianism more than we do. But as a country once again in 2014 we failed to crack the top 10 happiest countries in the world list. Maybe we would be happier if we worked together more, were less competitive, and changed our definition of greatness. Maybe this would help us live more fulfilling lives. Instead of being slaves to greatness, let’s be servants of love.

Here is a link to the written form of “The Drum Major Instinct.”

http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_drum_major_instinct/

Here is a link to an audio version of the sermon on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBiFnDuCJIU

Productive Prisons


Around 95% of all prisoners in the United States of America will eventually be released. In a study conducted by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics that tracked over 400,000 offenders in 30 states after their release from prison in 2005, the study found that around 68% of these offenders were arrested again within 3 years of their release and that around 77% of them were arrested again within 5 years of their release. Out of the offenders who were arrested within 5 years after their release, around 57% of them were arrested within 1 year of their release. What does this mean? It means that our prison system is failing. For the most part, our prisoners are not coming out of prison better off or better people. There are two main reasons I care about this issue. One of them is that I always like to see people improve themselves and turn their lives around. Nothing warms my heart more than redemption. The other is that it means our streets aren’t getting any safer.

Why isn’t our prison system working? Because it focuses too much on punishment and not enough on rehabilitation. When Tupac Shakur was interviewed when he was in prison, the interviewer told him how people were speculating how him being in jail was going to give him a lot of inspiration and possibly lead to his best album yet. Tupac replied, “Prison kills your spirit…There is no creativity, there’s none of that.” This is not true for everyone. If you watch the show Lockup on MSNBC you will see many examples inmates’ creativity. But for many inmates, prison does kill their spirit. In fact, there’s a modern saying that prison is “criminal college.” Oftentimes what inmates learn in prison is just how to act like even more of a degenerate.

But should prison be a completely happy and positive experience? Is punishment what is crushing the spirit of many prisoners?

Should prison be a place of punishment? That’s an interesting question. The answer at Bastoy Prison in Norway seems to be a resounding no. In Norway the maximum prison sentence is 21 years. The only possible exception to this is the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks Anders Behring Breivik who killed 77 and injured 319 who was sentenced to 21 years but with the possibility of an extension of his sentence as long as he is deemed a danger to society. The prison is located on Bastoy Island in Norway, and the only punishment for the inmates is their loss of freedom. It holds Norway’s most serious offenders. Some of its inmates include drug smugglers, rapists, and murderers. There are no bars at the prison, the guards don’t carry guns, and the prison resembles a summer camp. The inmates live in extremely humane conditions. They live in houses in what resemble cozy self-sustaining villages rather than cells. The prison is run by Arne Kvernik Nilsen, who calls the prison the “first human ecological prison.” There are many fun activities for the prisoners to do there and they are given responsibilities and jobs to do. The guards act not only as guards but as social workers. The premise behind all of this is that these strategies will help the inmates reenter society as reformed, better people and functioning and perhaps even valuable members of society. The craziest thing about this prison is that the strategies seem to work. The recidivism rate among people released from Bastoy Prison is only 16%, compared with around 70% for prisons across the rest of Europe and the U.S.

I’m not suggesting we adopt the strategy of Bastoy Prison across the United States. But it is clear from the example of Bastoy Prison that rehabilitation is more effective than punishment. But does that mean there should be no punishment?

I think there should be punishment. I think that prisoners need to pay for their actions. But our prison system needs a complete overhaul because it is failing our prisoners and our citizens/taxpayers.

Here are some of my ideas for changes to the prison system.

  • Make only the first half of an inmate’s sentence punishment. Put them in a facility much like the ones that exist now.
  • After they finish the punishment period, transfer them to a facility completely dedicated to rehabilitation. Build facilities or replace existing facilities with or convert existing facilities into facilities that use similar strategies to Bastoy Prison to rehabilitate prisoners and help them prepare for reintegration into society as better people and better citizens. These facilities will not be a place of punishment. Make rehabilitation programs that cater to the needs of different types of offenders. (Although Bastoy Prison is a very big complex and very extravagant so it would be very expensive to build a bunch of facilities like that. So not all of these facilities would have to be nearly as elaborate or extravagant as Bastoy Prison.)
  • Change policies for repeat offenders. People should never get life in prison for burglary or drug charges due to three strikes laws. That is ridiculous.
  • Make drug charges less severe. Drug crimes are based on personal choices that affect no one directly but the people who make those personal choices. The severity of drug laws in this country is ridiculous.
  • Make sentences less harsh for first offenders. First offenders are in a very vulnerable place. They are at a crossroads where they will either learn from their mistake and won’t go back to prison again or will learn bad things in prison have their spirit crushed and become repeat offenders and lifelong criminals.
  • Require every inmate to take courses that help them reintegrate back into society. It can be very hard for a prisoner to reintegrate back into society, especially for those who have served long term sentences. Oftentimes they become institutionalized from living in prison so long and don’t know how to function on the outside world anymore. This may lead them to offend again just so they can go back to prison life which they have actually become more comfortable with.
  • Have every inmate serving a sentence longer than 1 year who do not have their high school diploma be required to take educational courses toward helping them get their GED. Education will save this country. And a high school diploma or GED equivalent will make it much more likely for a prisoner to get a job or even have a shot at higher education down the road.
  • Outlaw private prisons.

There also need to be more ways that we help offenders reintegrate back into society. One idea I have to help them get jobs is for there to be a government program much like the one where companies get tax breaks for hiring people with disabilities only using the same idea with offenders. The employer would be given a full report and background on the potential employee so they could judge if they are too dangerous to hire. Much of the reason that people turn back to crime is because they can’t find an honest living after they get out of prison because no one will hire them.

Unfortunately, prisons are a business, and there are people that make a lot of money off of prisons in the state they are currently in. And some of these changes I have proposed would cost a fair amount of government money. But perhaps spending a little bit of government money now to overhaul our prison system might lead to lower costs for taxpayers down the road due to less people being in prison because of new, more successful policies. So why don’t we make a sacrifice in the short term to lead to lower taxes and safer streets in the long term and also the bettering of troubled people’s lives. Prisoners are people too, and we often forget that. And they are just as much a part of this country as we are. This is an issue we should care about, because it affects everyone across the nation. Let’s make our prisons productive.

Other Sources

James, E. (2013, September 3). Bastoy: The Norwegian prison that works. The Guardian.

Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/04/bastoy-norwegian-prison-works

An Excellent Example


Here is an excellent example of a cop who protects and serves his community, as well as an excellent example of the kind of examination that should take place when a controversial shooting death involving police and a civilian happens. Here are two videos I will post.

This first video is a video of Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn giving a press conference in which he announces the firing of an officer involved in the shooting death of an unarmed man named Dontre Hamilton. He goes through the examination process that took place to come to the decision. Whether you agree with the decision or not, this is an excellent example of the type of examination that takes place when a situation like the shooting of Michael Brown, Dontre Hamilton, Tamir Rice, etc. happens. It is also an excellent example of public honesty and transparency rather than attempting to conceal facts and deceive the public.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_glIUTSwd6k

This second video is a video of Ed Flynn after the press conference being asked about criticism he faced for looking down at his phone during the press conference and his response to the question. This is an example of how we really don’t understand the type of things that many cops go through to protect and serve our communities. There’s so much we don’t know.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7MAO7McNKE

I just saw these videos the other day and I wanted to share them. I wanted to add them to my most recent post as an update, but I was worried people wouldn’t notice them. I want people to see this and be reminded that in the midst of all this cop controversy the majority of our police are brave men and women who are willing to make sacrifices to loyally protect and serve us. Thank God for our cops.

Humanity’s Funny Relationship With Itself


Beating or hitting or assaulting a woman in any way is a horrible and despicable act for a man to commit. It shows a lack of respect and a lack of care. Whoever does so needs to get help to resolve their issues. It is an unacceptable action.

In February a video surfaced on TMZ of Baltimore Ravens halfback Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiance (now wife) Janay out of an elevator in Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It would be revealed that Rice had physically assaulted Janay. Rice would give an account to the Ravens of what happened in the elevator. In March, Rice would be indicted on third degree aggravated assault. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell in July suspended Ray Rice for the first two games of the upcoming NFL season. Rice and his wife would hold a press conference where they apologized for the incident. Rice stated that he had been receiving help with his issues and he and his wife were both receiving help to work on their marriage. The Baltimore Ravens organization said they would support Ray Rice in his efforts and stand behind him.

Meanwhile, Roger Goodell was receiving much criticism for only suspending Rice for two games, so he decided to change the league’s domestic violence policy where being found guilty one time would earn a six game suspension and the second offense where a player was found guilty would be an indefinite suspension. He did not change Rice’s punishment.

Also, meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was accused of beating his pregnant wife. Jim Harbaugh, the brother of Ravens coach John Harbaugh, said if anyone was found guilty of domestic violence on his team, they would be kicked off the team.

Also, meanwhile, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was a repeat offender on violating the NFL’s drug policy by using marijuana, tested positive for a trace amount of marijuana that may only have been enough to have given him a contact high, meaning he may not have even used it but could have tested positive just because he was around it, and was suspended for the entire season. This prompted my brother, Matthew, a.k.a. StatMatt, to say that the NFL is a league “where you can hit Mary but not Mary Jane.” (Check out my brother’s blog http://statmattsports.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2015-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=2.)

Let me preface everything I’m about to say by saying that unless Ray Rice has some sort of mental health issue or is making a real effort to fix himself I DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR RAY RICE. I don’t feel like he got a whole lot more than he deserved. I am merely using him as an example. I do feel sorry for his family, however.

Then, Monday, TMZ came out with a video from inside the elevator of Ray Rice assaulting Janay. All of a sudden everything changes. The Ravens decide, you know what? You know how we said we supported you? Well, yeah…about that…even though the account you gave us is consistent with what happened in the new video (confirmed by Ed Werder of ESPN) and we knew what happened in the first place, we’re going to decide to cut you. And Goodell decided, yeah you know how I made that policy where I suspend you for 6 games for the first offense and then suspend you indefinitely? Well I’m just going to suspend you indefinitely and skip over that first step to make up for the bad PR i got for the 2 game suspension I gave you. And even though it’s against NFL Players Association rules to go back on a punishment and re-punish I know they won’t support you.

I’m not mad that Ray Rice was punished for his actions. I agree that the initial 2-game suspension was not severe enough. What I have a problem with is this phony bullshit attempt the NFL and the Ravens have made to act like they care about morality. If the Ravens really cared about morality, they would have either taken a greater action or cut Ray Rice before this video came out. They already knew what happened. This shouldn’t have changed anything. They said they supported him. Okay, well if you say you want to support him and his family and if you really want to help them, make him inactive for the rest of the season and force him to take the season off to focus on getting counseling and work on himself and his family issues. They didn’t get rid of him because they couldn’t tolerate what he did. They got rid of him because it was good for business. To the Ravens organization Ray Rice is not worthy of being treated like a human being. Even before this he wasn’t. And neither is his wife or his kid. The big wigs in the Ravens organization don’t give a damn about Ray Rice’s family. They could care less how many times Janay Rice gets the crap beaten out of her as long as Ray Rice racks up yards and scores touchdowns and their fans can look past it. They could care less about how many tears their infant daughter may have shed from the fights Mommy and Daddy have had if this was not an isolated incident (which in my personal opinion, judging by Rice’s lack of shock coming out of the elevator, I don’t think it was). And as soon as Ray Rice, their gladiator and pawn and commodity becomes bad for business, they discard him. Because the NFL and many of its team organizations think that it’s okay to not treat players like human beings as long as they throw millions of dollars at them.

I’m not saying this because I feel really sorry for Ray Rice though. I don’t feel all that sorry for him. I’m saying it to make a point: the NFL doesn’t care about its players. When the NFL started getting lawsuits from former players for concussion issues they were having, they put new rules and policies in place that would attempt to prevent concussions from happening in games. Concussions are inevitable in football. They are going to happen. The policies that need to be put in place are ones that focus on the treatment of concussions. But they let players who have concussions play the next week because they’re cleared by their team doctors. Yeah they’re not biased at all. Also, these rules to prevent concussions just so happen to make the game harder for defensive players, making NFL football a more offensive game. Gee, I wonder if that’s on purpose. Players are always going to want to play, so they are not always good judges on whether or not they should play when they get concussions, or even whether they should retire. There need to be rules in place that perhaps limit the amount of severe concussions you are allowed to have and be allowed to play in the NFL (there would be financial compensation, kind of like worker’s compensation), or maybe players shouldn’t be allowed to play the next game after they have a concussion no matter what. The NFL has not created an initiative to teach players and kids to tackle without leading with their heads. The only team that has adjusted their tackling this way is the Seattle Seahawks. The point is, the NFL is trying to avoid a lawsuit when it comes to its concussion policies, not protect its players. Wes Welker should not still be playing in the NFL. The NFL and its organizations do not care about their players. They don’t care about them as human beings.

Also, Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of rape twice, and one time he was not found guilty because when he went into the ladies room two security guards blocked people from entering and locked the door. Because there was no video footage though, he wasn’t found guilty. The NFL never mentioned this and doesn’t care. The NFL doesn’t care about morality.

This is the case with many big organizations and corporations. There is a terrible subculture in our society that just does not care about others. In this country we have lost all sense of communitarianism. We don’t recognize others’ humanity nor do we care about each other as human beings. We are selfish.

Thirteen years ago on this day terrorists attacked our country. In the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, many died and many survived. Many of the survivors will tell you stories of heroism that either they witnessed or they participated in that were perpetrated by both emergency services people and civilians alike. I have the utmost respect for the emergency services people such as firemen, medics, EMT’s, paramedics, and the police. But since they were doing their jobs and are brave every day, I’m going to focus on the people that did things that in our society are out of character: the civilians. There were stories of civilians going back up into the smoke and flames to help save people, many of them losing their lives in the process. People would stop and help people instead of just caring for their own lives and running out of the building. For these moments, people recognized each other’s humanity. They cared. They performed selfless acts. Why is it, then that it takes a time of crisis, tragedy, and danger for us to band together?

On that day, our country became totally united; we felt empathy for our fellow man. Why can’t we be this way more often? In one of my textbooks for one of my social work classes for school, it states that “Unless socialized out of us, most humans possess an ability to transcend our selfish tendencies and recognize that we are part of a larger community…and connect empathically with other members.” But it also concludes that “individually and collectively, many of us are becoming so self-oriented and self-centered that our empathic abilities are beginning to atrophy.” The book also states that “Considerable scholarship suggests that a key foundation for human morality involves this extraordinary capacity for empathy.” So why don’t we value it more? Why don’t we value caring for our fellow human beings? Why does it take the worst of times for us to do this? Because we worship the dollar. Money is our god. There’s a reason why children often seem to be more empathetic than adults. My textbook states, “Perhaps especially in social contexts that place great importance on the individual…empathic interest in the experiences of others is likely to diminish as children grow into adulthood…Indeed, greed and the accumulation and display of material wealth may be equated with goodness. The Latin phrase caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) captures an ethos in which benefitting oneself at the expense of another is viewed as legitimate and, indeed, desirable.” Children aren’t trying to earn money. Adults are. And understandably so; as an adult you have to support a family (if you choose to have one). There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to earn money. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be rich. But it’s when you start getting overly materialistic that you trade your recognition of humanity for money.

Humanity has a funny relationship with ourselves. We band together when we need to most, but otherwise we really don’t care for one another. Let’s not pretend to be moral; let’s actually be moral. Let’s not just recognize each other’s humanity in times of crisis, but at every moment of our lives.

The Truth About the Trouble in Ferguson


First off, I would like to state that I have great admiration and respect for our men and women in blue who serve on our police forces and protect our communities.

It has now been one month since the shooting death of Michael Brown. There has been a lot of controversy, new information, misinformation, character assassination, politicization, side-taking, anger, pain, hurt, frustration, and finger pointing. But most importantly there is one teenager whose future is gone and life is lost, a broken family, a divided community, and a man who has become a social pariah. There’s damage everywhere you look. There has been so much controversy and conflicting information and reports surrounding this topic that it’s hard to know what the truth is. But there are certain societal truths that can be drawn from this incident that we can learn from and that we should be aware of.

The first truth that we must face is that in our society there is a fear of black people, especially black men. There have been too many deaths of unarmed black people in recent years for it to just be a coincidence. I don’t know whether the Michael Brown shooting was justified or not, all I’m saying is that it’s part of a trend.

This is evident in the famous case of the death of Trayvon Martin. He was profiled because he was black, and even though the police told George Zimmerman to wait in the car until they arrived at the scene, Zimmerman decided that Martin was too suspicious of a character for him to wait for the police to take action. The jury seemed to agree with this and subsequently acquitted Zimmerman because they believed that it was justified due to the fact that they could empathize with his belief that his life was in danger.

This is also evident in other somewhat well-known cases such as the case of Eric Garner in July of this year. Garner, a 6’3″ 350 pound black man was arguing with a group of plainclothes police officers after they approached him due to a call by a convenience store owner that he was selling cigarettes illegally and untaxed outside his store. Here is a video of what happened next: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1ka4oKu1jo. Garner would go into cardiac arrest and die.

And there’s the case of Jordan Davis, which happened just months after Trayvon Martin died. The 17-year-old Davis was stopped at a gas station in a car with his friends. They were blasting hip-hop music from the car. A 45-year-old man named Michael Dunn and his girlfriend pulled up to the adjacent spot. Michael Dunn said to his girlfriend, “I hate that thug music.” Here the perception that hip-hop, a genre of music that originated from black urban culture, is the music of thugs is perpetuated by Dunn and one stereotype is already in his head about these teenagers. Dunn asked them to turn the music down. Davis’s friend Tevin Thompson in the front seat complied and turned it down, but Davis told Thompson to turn it back up and Thompson did what Davis told him to do. Davis and Dunn began arguing and Dunn would claim that Davis threatened to kill him and pointed what looked like a shotgun from the window at him. Dunn grabbed his firearm and fired it at Davis, killing him, and would continue shooting at the car as it drove away. Police searched the vehicle for weapons and found nothing. Dunn’s girlfriend, however, during the trial also mentioned that that night he never mentioned anything about a shotgun. So there’s a good chance that Dunn may not have been afraid at all and just was a racist who decided that he needed to put these black kids in their place. If you want your modern day Emmett Till, this is it.

There are even still a few lesser known cases that show examples of how our society is afraid of black people.

Here’s a case that happened just days before the Michael Brown shooting. John Crawford was in a Wal-Mart in Ohio, an open-carry gun law state, which means that you can bring basically any kind of gun you want into a public place as long as you are the owner of it, whether you have a license or not. Crawford decided he wanted to buy an Airsoft gun. He also decided to be a moron and take it out of the packaging and start playing around with it in the store, waving it around, pointing it at people, and clicking the trigger. A man named Ronald Ritchie called the police saying there was a man with a gun in the store. Police arrived on the scene and shot Crawford. Crawford would die from his injuries and it would later be found out that the gun he was carrying was not a real firearm. Oops. Do you think he got a chance to explain himself? Or that he tried to and the police didn’t believe him? Who knows? (UPDATE: There is some new information and corrections I have to make about the John Crawford III case. First, he did not take the Airsoft gun out of its packaging but instead found it out of its packaging on a shelf in the store. Second, it turns out either Ritchie was flat out lying on the 911 call or his subconscious prejudices and fears and stereotypes were making him delusional. Ritchie basically described Crawford’s actions how I stated them above, including saying that he loaded the gun and was pointing it at children. This surveillance tape shows what actually happened: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9FtNOV6Qhk. As you can see, he wasn’t threatening anyone or menacing anyone with it or pointing it at people. He certainly did not load it. He was talking on his freaking cell phone and just happened to be fiddling around with the fake gun while talking. Despite how it may appear, he actually was fired upon before he dropped the toy, seconds after police saw him. Again, I’ll remind you, he died. And also remember that Ohio has an open carry gun law.)

About 2 weeks ago, Chris Lollie was sitting in a skyway when someone called 911 to report a man loitering in the area. Lollie was waiting to pick up his kids from the New Horizon Academy school. Officers approached him and questioned him. Lollie assured them that there was no problem. Here’s what happened next: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWH578nAasM. Lollie would be tasered and arrested for disorderly conduct, trespassing, and obstructing legal process.

The point I am trying to make here is that because we as a society have a fear of black people, it makes us more likely to pull the proverbial trigger. I don’t know whether Michael Brown was charging at Officer Darren Wilson, whether he was stumbling forward from being shot, whether he was shot as soon as he turned around, or whether his hands were up. I don’t know whether Wilson’s life was in danger or not or whether or not this was a justified shooting. But I do think that if Michael Brown were white or at least not black, there’s a chance Wilson may have been less likely or less quick to pull the trigger.

Some examples can even be found in the Michael Brown case where people have tried to capitalize on American society’s fear of black people.

The first would be when the police released the video that showed Brown robbing the convenience store a week after the shooting. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson claimed he was forced to release the video due to numerous requests to release the video that met the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, but later it would be found out that little to no direct specific requests for the release of the robbery tape were made. So this was clearly an attempt to paint Brown as a dangerous thug and make the shooting look justified.

Another attempt to paint Brown as a dangerous thug and assassinate his character and perpetuate this stereotype was perpetrated by “journalist” Charles C. Johnson. Charles C. Johnson claimed that he had two law enforcement sources that said Brown had a juvenile record. He said this record included a charge of second degree murder. He claimed Brown was a member of the Crips and that his death had actually brought the Bloods and the Crips together. However a judge would review Brown’s juvenile record and find that he was never even convicted of a felony.

Another attempt to make sure Brown looks like a violent dangerous character came out in reports by Fox News and ABC News. Whoever the source was was trying to make Brown look like a dangerous thug and perpetuate this stereotype. Fox News described the source as close to Ferguson Police Department’s “top brass” and ABC News described it as someone close to Darren Wilson. The source claimed that Wilson was beaten nearly unconscious and suffered a fractured eye socket. Time out. First of all, we should be able to tell that this is complete and utter bullshit right from the start. There is no way that someone could be beaten nearly unconscious and suffer a fractured eye socket and be able to fire a gun accurately and effectively. Second of all, it would later be reported by CNN from a source within the Ferguson Police Department that x-rays of Wilson’s eye socket came back negative. There is also currently a picture circulating around the internet that people claim is of Officer Darren Wilson in the hospital with his facial injuries. This photo is actually of a motocross rider named Jim McNeil who died in a crash in 2011. The photo is of an injury he suffered in 2006. This article shows the false picture and a picture of the real Wilson: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/04/darren-wilson-injury-photo-ferguson_n_5768510.html.

All of these are attempts to make the shooting look more justified or at least more understandable when the only thing that might justify the shooting is if Brown was on the offensive and was a serious danger to Wilson’s life while Wilson fired at him. We as a society need to admit our prejudices to ourselves and recognize them. The only way we can prevent ourselves from falling victim to our prejudices is if we are aware of them. Many of these prejudices are subconscious and we may not even realize we have them. But by being aware of what happens in our society we can stop and think about whether we have them or not. If you don’t believe me that these subconscious prejudices exist, check out the difference between how we write about black victims of crimes and white crime suspects, criminals, and killers in this article that provides numerous examples: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/media-black-victims_n_5673291.html. We need to get out of this state of denial we are in that these prejudices don’t exist anymore. They do.

The second truth we need to face is that many of our police have the wrong mentality about what it means to be a police officer. A cop’s duty is to protect and to serve their citizens. They are public servants. The police should work with their citizens as best as they can to make their community a better and safer place. They should not view their job as a duty to wage war on criminals, but to rather to protect people from crime; there is a difference between the two mentalities.

Also, a cop’s first duty is not to their fellow officers. While being part of a police force is a brotherhood, that duty is a lower priority to their duty to society and their duty to the truth. Too often officers after committing serious transgressions are given very minor or no consequences, such as being put on desk duty. Also, too often officers cover for each other’s mistakes. This happened in the case of Eric Garner.

Perhaps the best illustration of the militaristic, war-like mentality many officers have towards their citizens comes from Ferguson, Missouri. In a protest about the Michael Brown shooting, one of the officers who is there to keep things in order shouts to the protesters, “Bring it, all you fucking animals! Bring it!” Is this not a war cry? Aren’t these the citizens you are supposed to be protecting? Why do you want to fight them?

In 2011 in Fullerton, California an unarmed 37-year-old schizophrenic homeless man named Kelly Thomas was fatally beaten by members of the Fullerton Police Department. Six officers shocked him with tasers and clubbed him with flashlights. Officers had received a call that someone was vandalizing cars. They found Thomas, who was shirtless and disheveled and they attempted to search him. According to the officers Thomas was not cooperative and resisting their efforts. Backup was called. Officer Manny Ramos slipped on a pair of latex gloves and said to Thomas, “Now you see my fists?” Thomas replied, “Yeah, what about them?” Ramos said, “They are getting ready to fuck you up.” A video of the incident was recorded in which Thomas could be heard screaming in pain while officers told him to put his arms behind his back. He responded, “Okay I’m sorry!” He can also be heard saying “I’m trying!” as the officers stretch his arms back. The police claimed that since they were unable to get Thomas to comply they used a taser on him. They tased him as many as five times. Here is a picture of what Thomas looked like before the beating: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Kelly_Thomas#mediaviewer/File:Kelly_Thomas_2009_booking_photo_released_by_Fullerton_PD.jpg. Here is a picture of what he looked like after (WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Kelly_Thomas#mediaviewer/File:Kelly-Thomas-Police-Beating.jpg. You cannot tell me that beating him to the point where he would eventually die from his injuries was necessarily. They decided to view the suspect of an enemy who needed to be punished immediately for his crime instead of a criminal who needed to be arrested and punished through the legal system. They waged war on a citizen. Once again, wrong mentality.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2010, Shawn Merritt was waiting for his food outside a Chinese takeout restaurant. His fiance and daughter were waiting inside. His cousin, community activist Askia Sabur, was riding by on his bicycle and decided to stop and chat. As they were talking, two police officers, Danyul Williams and Jimmy Leocal, pulled over in their car. The officers ordered them to “Get the fuck off our corner.” Merritt told the police he was waiting for his food and wouldn’t leave, and the officers demanded that both of them show identification. As Sabur reached for his ID, Officer Williams handcuffed his wrist. Sabur asked repeatedly why he was being arrested (sound familiar?) and pulled away from the officer when the officer jerked his other arm behind his back. Here’s what happened next: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQXh-v3IZ4c. The officers would claim that they were in fear for their life because there was a hostile crowd of around 300 people surrounding them. They would also claim that Sabur repeatedly bit one of them and reached for one of their guns and even grabbed one of their batons. The video evidence proved this all to be false. This sounds very much like a war scenario, almost like a gang war scenario. Sabur was on what was apparently these officers’ territory, and they had to fight for their land, so they waged war on a citizen. Not only that, but the officers lied to protect each other’s asses instead of fulfilling their duty to their community, their citizens, and the truth.

In 2010, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Martin was racing to provide backup on a call. He was upset by the fact that an ambulance in front of him was refusing to yield to him. He thought he saw the ambulance driver flip him an obscene gesture. He decided to stop the ambulance. The ambulance did not have its sirens or lights on because the patient inside was in a certain condition where bright lights and loud sounds would exacerbate that condition. Martin did not know initially that a patient was inside. Maurice White Jr., the EMT in charge of the ambulance (not the driver), came out to deal with the police officer. Here are two different videos that give two different angles of what happened. This one gives a view from the police car’s dashboard camera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SMpAHJkhm0. This one gives a view from the camera phone of one of the family members of the patient and gives a good angle of the physical altercation that goes on, in which the officer puts his hand around White’s neck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KluItc365hU. Instead of Martin focusing on the more important issue at hand, which was looking out for one of the citizens he is supposed to protect and to serve by making sure the patient gets to the hospital as quickly and safely as possible, he focuses on arresting people who work for emergency medical services who have annoyed him by giving him obscene gestures and not yielding to him. He chose to wage war on his citizens instead of protecting them. Once again we see this. It seems that many of our officers view the need to punish their citizens as more important than to serve and protect their citizens. These cases of unnecessary roughness are just that: unnecessary. Use the necessary means you need to to arrest someone and take them into custody. And know what the priorities of your job are. We need to make sure we hire police officers who are in the force for the right reasons and understand what their duty is.

A third truth that has been brought to light (once again) is that there is a certain level of distrust and divide between many black people in this country and the police. In the Ferguson Police Department there is a large history of racism. To find out more, watch this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2014/08/13/rachel-maddow-on-the-record-of-racial-disparity-in-ferguson/. I’m not saying that all police are racist. But there certainly seems to be more than just a few bad apples, even though I don’t think it’s the majority. However, police departments are often institutionally racist. Now Ferguson’s Police Department along with being institutionally racist is just straight up racist. But here is how it is institutionally racist. Ferguson’s population is about 67% black. The Ferguson Police Department has 50 white officers and 3 black officers. This is not even close to representative of the population. And many police departments around the country have this kind of misrepresentation of the population. This creates an institutionally racist system; whoever is in the minority does not benefit from this misrepresentation and it actually hurts them. I’m not suggesting that we make racial quotas in our police departments, or that we fire all the white people and replace them with minorities; those things would obviously be wrong. But we need to be conscious of the fact that white people are more likely to get hired in this country due to subconscious prejudices. It is a statistical fact that white people have a better chance of getting employed than minorites. When a public institution is so misrepresentative of its community, it is not by coincidence, whether it is intentional or not (something can be a unintentional and still not be a coincidence). Something more is happening than meets the eye. We need to be aware of this so we can prevent institutionally racist police forces. I would be saying the same thing if an area was 67% white and had 50 black cops and 3 white cops.

Another truth that has been revealed by the problems in Ferguson is that in this country we can politicize anything. Somehow, there are now “conservative” and “liberal” stances on the Michael Brown shooting. This is despicable. There is no left or right when it comes to a person’s death. There are only facts. When I hear things like, “This video may support those who have a more conservative stance on the Michael Brown shooting’s view,” or that someone has taken a “liberal” stance on the issue I find it absolutely sickening. We need to stop taking sides, digging our feet in about what we think happened, and wait till we have more information. We need to have malleable, working opinions that may be subject to change. My view on how someone may have died does not make me any more liberal or conservative. So let’s please stop with this stupid partisan, divisive BS.

Another truth that has been revealed by the trouble in Ferguson is that we jump to conclusions too quickly. People have decided what happened on that day and in that moment that Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. There are still many things we do not know for certain. We don’t know if Michael Brown’s hands were up or not when he turned around. We don’t know whether or not he charged at Darren Wilson. We don’t know whether or not he was stumbling forward when Wilson delivered the final shots. We don’t know whether Wilson actually believed his life was in danger. We don’t know what kind of person Michael Brown was. We don’t know what kind of person Darren Wilson is. We are so quick to assassinate people’s character, and I think it’s because we want to feel better about ourselves and our own views. I think a lot of the reason many people are so quick to assassinate Michael Brown’s character is because it either validates the comfortable subconscious stereotypes they have of black people in their minds or it gives them an alternative to facing the prejudices they have that they so vehemently deny. I think people are quick to assassinate Wilson’s character for a few reasons. One of these reasons may be that it’s easier to be self-righteous and point the finger at someone else and accuse them of and condemn them for prejudice when things like this happen instead of taking a look at ourselves and facing what prejudices we may have. Another reason may be to validate the belief that certain injustices go on in our society (and I’m not saying that they don’t). When incidents like the shooting in Ferguson happen, instead of using it primarily as an opportunity to point blame, condemn people, and assassinate people’s character, let’s instead take a look at ourselves. In the words of Michael Jackson, “If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change.” Instead of spending our energy talking about what a horrible racist pig of a human being Darren Wilson supposedly is, why don’t we spend a little time looking at our own prejudices, whether conscious or subconscious, and being honest with ourselves that we all have them to some extent. Maybe Darren Wilson is a horrible racist pig who decided he wanted to go out and kill a black teenager. Maybe Wilson is a good cop who thought his life was in danger. Maybe Wilson’s life was actually in danger. Maybe Wilson is a good guy who just panicked in a pressure situation and made a horrible mistake. Maybe Wilson is just a guy who had a moment of weakness where he fell victim to subconscious prejudices at the absolute worst moment. I don’t know. But it is only by making ourselves aware of our prejudices that we can prevent ourselves from falling victim to them. Because we are all always at risk of falling victim to our prejudices. Depending on what we believe happened after the moment that Michael Brown turned around and faced Officer Wilson, we can all hope we would have done the right thing (whatever it may have been) and speculate all we want on what Wilson should have done. But if we are completely honest with ourselves, in any of the scenarios that might have happened, how many of us say with absolute certainty what, in reality, we actually would have done?

Sources

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178370/jury-fails-reach-verdict-murder-charge-trial-michael-dunn

http://www.christianpost.com/news/lawsuit-claims-michael-brown-was-charged-with-murder-while-he-was-a-juvenile-125611/

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/20/missouri-cop-was-badly-beaten-before-shooting-michael-brown-says-source/

http://abcnews.go.com/US/ferguson-shooting-grand-jury-decide-october-charge-cop/story?id=25047905

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2014/08/21/nr-lemon-grace-officers-broken-eye-socket-claim-false.cnn&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FShooting_of_Michael_Brown

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/aug/02/local/la-me-0803-fullerton-death-20110803

http://www.workers.org/articles/2013/02/22/philadelphia-community-activist-askia-sabur-acquitted-on-all-charges/

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