Monday, December 30, 2013
Sunday, December 29, 2013
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Friday, December 27, 2013
After more than 20 years, I've finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning point in popular music, and ultimately American society. I have struggled for a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this story public as I was reluctant to implicate the individuals who were present that day. So I've simply decided to leave out names and all the details that may risk my personal well being and that of those who were, like me, dragged into something they weren't ready for.
Between the late 80's and early 90’s, I was what you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more established company in the music industry. I came from Europe in the early 80’s and quickly established myself in the business. The industry was different back then. Since technology and media weren’t accessible to people like they are today, the industry had more control over the public and had the means to influence them anyway it wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders to discuss rap music’s new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business practice I’ve ever seen.
The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for rap music and failed to see the purpose of being invited to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who stayed to themselves and made no attempt to socialize beyond their circle. Based on their behavior and formal appearances, they didn't seem to be in our industry. Our casual chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during the meeting. Needless to say, this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us. The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the matter and consequences which stated that violating the terms would result in job termination. We asked several people what this meeting was about and the reason for such secrecy but couldn't find anyone who had answers for us. A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them. I was tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me. A man who was part of the “unfamiliar” group collected the agreements from us.
Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small group of “decision makers”. At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn’t know what a private prison was but I wasn't the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be a great situation for us because rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to buy personal stocks in these prisons. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure I wasn't dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we’d want to challenge without risking consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.
A million things were going through my mind as I drove away and I eventually decided to pull over and park on a side street in order to collect my thoughts. I replayed everything in my mind repeatedly and it all seemed very surreal to me. I was angry with myself for not having taken a more active role in questioning what had been presented to us. I'd like to believe the shock of it all is what suspended my better nature. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to calm myself enough to make it home. I didn't talk or call anyone that night. The next day back at the office, I was visibly out of it but blamed it on being under the weather. No one else in my department had been invited to the meeting and I felt a sense of guilt for not being able to share what I had witnessed. I thought about contacting the 3 others who wear kicked out of the house but I didn't remember their names and thought that tracking them down would probably bring unwanted attention. I considered speaking out publicly at the risk of losing my job but I realized I’d probably be jeopardizing more than my job and I wasn't willing to risk anything happening to my family. I thought about those men with guns and wondered who they were? I had been told that this was bigger than the music business and all I could do was let my imagination run free. There were no answers and no one to talk to. I tried to do a little bit of research on private prisons but didn’t uncover anything about the music business’ involvement. However, the information I did find confirmed how dangerous this prison business really was. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Eventually, it was as if the meeting had never taken place. It all seemed surreal. I became more reclusive and stopped going to any industry events unless professionally obligated to do so. On two occasions, I found myself attending the same function as my former colleague. Both times, our eyes met but nothing more was exchanged.
As the months passed, rap music had definitely changed direction. I was never a fan of it but even I could tell the difference. Rap acts that talked about politics or harmless fun were quickly fading away as gangster rap started dominating the airwaves. Only a few months had passed since the meeting but I suspect that the ideas presented that day had been successfully implemented. It was as if the order has been given to all major label executives. The music was climbing the charts and most companies when more than happy to capitalize on it. Each one was churning out their very own gangster rap acts on an assembly line. Everyone bought into it, consumers included. Violence and drug use became a central theme in most rap music. I spoke to a few of my peers in the industry to get their opinions on the new trend but was told repeatedly that it was all about supply and demand. Sadly many of them even expressed that the music reinforced their prejudice of minorities.
I officially quit the music business in 1993 but my heart had already left months before. I broke ties with the majority of my peers and removed myself from this thing I had once loved. I took some time off, returned to Europe for a few years, settled out of state, and lived a “quiet” life away from the world of entertainment. As the years passed, I managed to keep my secret, fearful of sharing it with the wrong person but also a little ashamed of not having had the balls to blow the whistle. But as rap got worse, my guilt grew. Fortunately, in the late 90’s, having the internet as a resource which wasn't at my disposal in the early days made it easier for me to investigate what is now labeled the prison industrial complex. Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalization of rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviors which often lead to incarceration. Twenty years of guilt is a heavy load to carry but the least I can do now is to share my story, hoping that fans of rap music realize how they’ve been used for the past 2 decades. Although I plan on remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, my goal now is to get this information out to as many people as possible. Please help me spread the word. Hopefully, others who attended the meeting back in 1991 will be inspired by this and tell their own stories. Most importantly, if only one life has been touched by my story, I pray it makes the weight of my guilt a little more tolerable.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Bubba Murphy Lake said that someone passing the house in Berkeley Lake with their children thought the display looked so realistic that they called 911. He says fire officials told him to take the display down, at least temporarily. The display also had a ladder toppled over in the front yard.
Murphy says homeowners in his Cobb County neighborhood go all out with their Christmas displays every year.
Police say that Harry Fredrick Suniville, 62, stole a partially-filled gas can from a truck parked next to his own at a Portland gas station. He poured the gas while enjoying a smoke just after 11 a.m. Sunday, when things got a little hot.
The gas caught on fire, burning his socks and pants and singeing his hair and eyebrows, police said. Suniville’s vehicle had to be towed away because it suffered fire damage. Police said the truck Suniville stole the gas from also suffered fire damage.
Portland firefighters extinguished the fire and medical personnel treated Suniville for injuries.
Suniville was charged with second degree criminal mischief, reckless burning and third degree theft, and impersonating burned bacon.
He was booked into the Multnomah County Jail.
On Monday, Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat widely revered for his work during and after the civil-rights movement, appeared at a news conference in Atlanta alongside other House Democrats in a fiery protest of President Obama’s nominees.
Three of the four nominees are white, one, Eleanor Ross, is black but was appointed to her current state court post by a Republican, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. Mr. Lewis and his coalition also have taken issue with the nominations of Mark Howard Cohen and Michael Boggs.
As a state legislator, Mr. Boggs in 2001 voted against changing the Georgia state flag to remove the Confederate battle emblem.
Mr. Cohen, meanwhile, defended Georgia’s controversial voter-identification laws against legal challenges. Such laws are seen by critics as disproportionately affecting minority voters and as part of a larger effort to keep them away from the polls.
Those complaints and others caused Mr. Lewis and other traditional supporters of the president to erupt in anger on Monday, going so far as to suggest that black trailblazers who came before Mr. Obama would condemn the nominations.
“Martin Luther King Jr., if he were here this day, he would tell the president not to make these appointments,” said Rep. David Scott, Georgia Democrat, during the news conference.
To further drive home the point, the event was held inside Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor.
“We recognize that somebody in his administration has done [the president] a disservice in giving him these names and he made a mistake in accepting them,” said Rev. Joseph Lowery, another civil-rights leader and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mr. Lowery made his comments on CNN following the news conference.
I don't believe that the President made a mistake. I think that each and every move that he makes is cool, calculated, and for a reason. Though his reasons may not be known to us, to say that someone has caused the President to make a mistake is tantamount to absolving him of all responsibility. Not a day goes by that President Obama does not know what he's doing.
Mr. Scott, Mr. Lowery and others also object to the fact that the administration appears to have caved to Republican pressure. Only one of the four nominees, Democratic attorney Leigh Martin May, wasn’t personally approved by Republican Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, according to reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and elsewhere.
Analysts say such agreements are commonplace in politics, even as it relates to judicial appointments.
But this particular instance is problematic because of the race factor, and the fact that the WhiteHouse has found itself in the rare spot of coming under fire from civil-rights leaders, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who specializes in federal judicial selections.
“I think there’s always side deals. There are always compromises to be brokered. But this one, I think, is particularly thorny because of the diversity and racial issues involved. The president has been very strong about diversity on the bench. That’s what makes this surprising, this group of nominees.”
Indeed, Mr. Obama previously has been praised for increasing diversity on the federal bench, including his efforts to install more female Supreme Court justices.
The president nominated two women, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, to serve on the high court; with veteran Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg still on the bench, the Supreme Court includes more women than ever before.
Despite a strong record on judicial diversity, Mr. Obama clearly is not immune from criticism from supporters who contend that he should have chosen more minority candidates and shouldn’t have played ball with Republicans.
How great a role politics played in the selections isn’t entirely clear, but the president has work to do with Senate Republicans on the issue of judicial nominations. GOP lawmakers remain angry with both the administration and Senate Democrats over the so-called “nuclear option,” a recently invoked legislative tool that allows prospective judges and other presidential nominees to clear the chamber with just 50 votes.
Moving forward, Mr. Tobias said the uproar could fade away, or it could remain at the forefront if civil-rights leaders such as Mr. Lewis don’t think their voices have been heard loudly enough.
“It would be quite a spectacle if John Lewis shows up at the [Senate] hearings to protest these nominees,” Mr. Tobias said.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
There is no shortage of stories about kids doing the wrong thing. So much so that I find myself having to make a conscious effort not to write about them. So it is extremely important that we take time to acknowledge those who choose to do what is right.
Mayor Jim Fouts of Warren, Michigan honored three young boys who found a box belonging to a church containing $100 while they were playing in a park, according to the local media. The trio was lauded on last week for their exemplary honesty in a town where the crime rate is considerably higher than the national average.
The trusty trio of grade schoolers consisted of Jason Burgess, 10, Malachi Shelton, 10, and LaMont Kirkesy, 7 . When the boys stumbled upon the box, Burgess took it home to his grandmother, Carol Fame. When Fame examined the contents of the box, she discovered a check that had been made out to First Church of Jesus Christ for $10.
How many of you reading this right now would have turned that money in at age 7 or 10? Back in my day, being a chubby little kid in Brooklyn I would have probably bought "Now and Laters", penny candies, and "Garbage Pale Kids" cards for my whole class. But not these boy's.
The donation box and its contents were returned to its rightful owner and according to the church’s grateful pastor, Rev. Charles Locklear, the monies had been earmarked for Christmas services.
Meanwhile Mayor Fouts presented the boys with mayoral resolutions at city hall for their good deed. “What a wonderful Christmas gift you have given to all of the young people in the metro area,” the mayor said. “And that is you serve as models of honesty and integrity.”
The three young men said that they plan to frame their prestigious commendations and place them on a wall in their house for everyone to see.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
The man, Glenn Broadnax, 35, of Brooklyn, created a disturbance on Sept. 14, wading into traffic at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue and throwing himself into the path of oncoming cars.
A curious crowd grew. Police officers arrived and tried to corral Mr. Broadnax, a 250-pound man. When he reached into his pants pocket, two officers, who, the police said, thought he was pulling a gun, opened fire, missing Mr. Broadnax, but hitting two nearby women. Finally, a police sergeant knocked Mr. Broadnax down with a Taser.
The shootings once again raised questions about the police use of firearms in crowded areas and drew comparisons to a shooting a year ago, when officers struck nine bystanders in front of the Empire State Building when they killed an armed murder suspect.
Initially Mr. Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. But the Manhattan district attorney’s office persuaded a grand jury to charge Mr. Broadnax with assault, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years. Specifically, the nine-count indictment unsealed said Mr. Broadnax “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”
“The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders,” said an assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey.
This is a stretch in every sense if the word.
The two police officers, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative duty and their actions are still under investigation by the district attorney’s office, law enforcement officials said. They also face an internal Police Department inquiry.
Mr. Broadnax’s lawyer, Rigodis Appling, said Mr. Broadnax suffered from anxiety and depression and had been disoriented and scared when the police shot at him. He was reaching for his wallet, not a gun, she said. “Mr. Broadnax never imagined his behavior would ever cause the police to shoot at him,” she said.
After his arrest, Mr. Broadnax was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, where he told a detective that “he was talking to dead relatives in his head and that he tried throwing himself in front of cars to kill himself,” according to a court document released on Wednesday.
A judge ordered a mental evaluation, and a psychiatrist later found Mr. Broadnax competent to stand trial, Ms. Appling said.
On Wednesday, Justice Gregory Carro set bail at $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash.
Mariann Wang, a lawyer representing Sahar Khoshakhlagh, one of the women who was wounded, said the district attorney should be pursuing charges against the two officers who fired their weapons in a crowd, not against Mr. Broadnax. “It’s an incredibly unfortunate use of prosecutorial discretion to be prosecuting a man who didn’t even injure my client,” she said. “It’s the police who injured my client.”
Unfortunate is an understatement to say the least.
Friday, December 20, 2013
The revealing picture of the 50-year-old mom and her 14-year-old daughter circulated among two high schools via social media, leading to a charge of child endangerment for the mom. It created an uproar that eventually prompted the police to book the mom on the misdemeanor charge earlier this month.
The woman's son attends one of the high schools where the photo was widely seen and he was roundly mocked by other students, media outlets said.
The women deliberately posed for the picture, according to St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar, because they concealed their nipples with their hands while leaving the rest of their chests exposed.
"It certainly appeared that the picture was posed and it certainly had some sexual overtones".
The mother, whose name has been withheld to protect her daughter, denied that she posed.
"I wasn't posing," she said. "I was getting out of the tub."
So, she got out of the tub and decided to press nipple with her daughter?!
The photo was taken by the 14-year-old's younger sister and eventually was seen by an unknown number of eyes on Snapchat, a smartphone app that deletes a photo after a recipient has had a few seconds to look at it.
The mom claimed that she told her daughter to immediately delete the picture.
This is the 14-year-old's second round of exhibitionist trouble. Last year, she was ordered to take counseling because she distributed naked pictures of herself at school.
The teller initially thought he was just kidding, but soon realized he was legitimately trying to rob the place. She gave him more than $5,000 iin cash before he fled the store, according to the Dallas Observer, but not before he and his "I <3 Texas" shirt we're caught on surveillance camera.
Oh yeah, some neighbors also called 911 because while Poulos was running back to his apartment, dollar bills were spilling out of the bag and trailing behind him.
Neighbors also reported that minutes after Poulous went into his apartment, two large men walked in, then came back out carrying a bag of cash.
When cops showed up at Poulos' apartment, they noted that he was not only wearing the same "I <3 Texas" shirt seen in the surveillance video, but he was also bleeding from his head. Both Poulos and his roommate told cops that Poulos had just been robbed.
The roommate also told cops that a few days earlier, Poulos told him he planned on robbing a bank.
Poulos faces federal robbery charges, while the folks who reportedly robbed him have not been caught.
His roommate was also arrested on an unrelated warrant.
Poulos isn't the only alleged crook to get karma-slapped near-instantly. In May, a man tried to steal a woman's cell phone and was hit by a bus immediately afterwards. He suffered only minor injuries.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The issue gained newfound attention last month, when the Supreme Court of Canada heard the case of a man who was sentenced to jail time for admitting that he poked holes in condoms to get his girlfriend pregnant in an effort to keep her from ending their relationship. She ultimately terminated the resulting pregnancy, and though a judge ordered the boyfriend’s acquittal, a second trial determined he was guilty of sexual assault.
To charge this defendantwith sexual assault is a little extreme in my opinion because the term connotes forced penetration. Given the fact that the woman involved was a willing participant I assault.
According to legal experts in the United States, however, he would not be guilty of any crime south of the border, something those in the domestic violence community would like to see changed.
So what exactly is reproductive coercion? Katie Ray-Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, describes it as “a pattern of acts and behaviors in which one partner exerts control over another over reproduction, birth control, pregnancy that relate to reproduction. We know that domestic violence is a pattern of coercive controls and power, and we know that reproductive coercion fits into that dynamic.”
“Even if some jurisdictions found birth control sabotage to fit into modern sexual assault statutes, the statutory framework is convoluted.”
A 2010 survey of 3,169 women conducted by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found that a quarter of abused women had been ordered not to use birth control by their partners.
Some women told the hotline that their partners would hide their birth control pills or destroy them altogether. In one instance, a woman asked her doctor to replace her pills four times before discovering that her partner was responsible for their disappearance. In that instance the abuser was not only depriving the woman of control over her reproductive choices but making her doubt her own memory and sanity, as even her doctor was convinced she was simply forgetful and irresponsible about her contraception.
But some stories are even darker.
“We had a woman who had seven children,” said Ray-Jones. Her husband “would impregnate her back to back so she wouldn’t be able to get a job, she’d always have an infant to care for and wouldn’t have any financial stability.” Though the husband was physically abusive, Ray-Jones recalled, “It was an extra challenge for us because it was hard to find a shelter that would take seven kids.” Even more harrowing, she said, was “another caller [who] told us [her partner] would get her pregnant, then force her to go get an abortion and began to punch her when she refused to get one.”
But beyond the physical abuse, such behavior is virtually impossible to prosecute in the United States.
Seema Iyer, a former prosecutor turned defense attorney in New York, says that while she “felt passionate about finding some way to address this heinous act,” every statute she could think of to try to criminalize such behavior under current law would be a serious legal stretch.
“It’s wrong, but one of the things you learn in law school is there isn’t a right for every wrong,” said Raoul Felder, an attorney known for representing celebrities in paternity cases and divorces. “This is a wrong, but there is no right for it.”
Felder explained, however, that there are laws against forcing someone to ingest something without their knowledge. In September a Florida man plead guilty to tricking his girlfriend into taking a pill that induced an abortion after she told him she was pregnant. He switched the label on her medication so she thought she was ingesting an antibiotic for an infection, not a pill that would cause an abortion. John Andrew Welden was convicted under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. But while such extreme tampering is a criminal act, other forms are not under current statutes.
An article in the California Law Review outlined precisely why the Canadian conviction would never stand here in the U.S. That case hinged largely on the definition of consent. The victim consented to sexual intercourse, but only intercourse that involved the use of effective contraception. So in sabotaging that birth control, the perpetrator engaged in a sexual act to which the victim did not consent, thus resulting in a lack of consent, deemed an assault. According to the law review analysis, “the prevalence of ‘generalized consent’ in American sexual assault law practically makes the question moot. Given this context, legislatures would be wise to create an independent criminal cause of action for birth control sabotage.”
U.S. courts are less likely to get into the details of what transpired between two consenting adults once general consent to the sexual act has been established and proved. That is problematic, of course, as the choice to become a parent is a separate and independent choice from whether to engage in sex.
The law review article also noted: “Even if some jurisdictions found birth control sabotage to fit into modern sexual assault statutes, the statutory framework is convoluted and fails to distinguish between different types of sexual assault, so it makes little sense to add one more claim to the list. Of those U.S. jurisdictions considering cases of birth control sabotage, the sabotage is often considered as just another supporting fact, and not an independently sufficient offense, in the grander crime of forceful sexual assault.”
Ray-Jones said she would like to see laws in place that allow a woman’s journals or medical records to serve as sufficient proof that she is a victim of reproductive coercion and therefore a victim of abuse. For instance, if a woman tells her doctor on multiple occasions that her partner is hiding her birth control, that would be enough to be viewed as abusive behavior.
Asked about legislative remedies to address reproductive coercion, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said in a statement: “This most recent case of a Canadian man charged with sexual assault is not the first time a woman has been manipulated by a partner through tampering with her method of birth control. Such cases are often linked to domestic violence and unwanted pregnancy. We must do more to protect women from partner violence and ensure our court system prosecutes those who commit such acts.”
Of course, the possibility exists that should laws end up on the books to make reproductive coercion a crime, just as many women could end up in jail as men. Although it’s impossible to determine how widespread the practice is, some women also have misled partners about their birth control or sabotaged birth control in an effort to try to secure the relationship. In September reports surfaced that women were selling positive pregnancy tests on Craigslist. It was widely believed that the buyers of said tests were women looking to mislead romantic partners into believing they were pregnant when they were not.
No one should ever knowingly deceive anyone else into conceiving. A child should never be a tool, a trick, or a pawn. But it must also be understood that each and every time you have intercourse with someone, and there is no permanent physical impediment that would prevent conception, there is a chance that it will result in pregnancy. Each and every sexual encounter must be taken seriously for more than the 2-3 minutes that it takes to make a baby.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Life is unfair. I cannot stress this enough. No matter what your skin color is, something will eventually happen that you did not anticipate, and we will all make a misculculation here and there when in comes to accurately assess the possible consequences of our actions. In this politically correct society where hyper-sensitivity is the order of the day, mole hills are mountains, and what was once perfectly acceptable behavior is now open to dubious interpretation and questionable scrutiny. With that being said, those of us who are African-American must be more cautious than most people because we are statistically more likely to be affected by the sudden urge to dole out extreme punishment to those who have violated a "moral standard". Things that seem innocent like, a hand gesture, a sudden movement or something as common as a hug can be perceived as threatening when left up to the imagination of the authorities.
The simple act of hugging a teacher got one high school student in Duluth, Ga., suspended last month.
A school hearing officer found Sam McNair to be in violation of Gwinnett County Public Schools’ sexual harassment policy. As a result, he received a one-year suspension last week.
Surveillance video shows McNair entering the a classroom at Duluth High School and embracing his teacher from behind, while tucking his neck behind her head.
As per a discipline report, the teacher alleges the teen’s cheeks and lips made contact with the back of her neck and cheek. She also said she’d warned McNair that hugs were not appropriate.
McNair denied the report and that the teacher told him hugs were inappropriate, saying he never kissed her. “Something so innocent can be perceived as something totally opposite,” he said.
McNair’s mother was shocked by the news, saying the district should’ve notified her son if the hugs were banned prior to suspending him. The suspension will also disrupt his college plans.
“He’s a senior. He plays football and was getting ready for lacrosse and you’re stripping him of even getting a full scholarship for athletics for college,” April McNair said.
Sharese Shields Ages, an education lawyer commenting on the case, agreed. “The school district should do a very good job communicating to both parents and students what appropriate contact is between students and teachers and to the extent that they have not done that it was an extreme punishment for the student,” she said.
A spokesperson for Gwinnett County Public Schools said that “hearing officers consider witness testimony, a review of the known facts, and a student’s past disciplinary history…when determining consequences.”
While McNair does have previous suspensions and a discipline record, none of them have involved sexual harassment. He says he was only trying to help the teacher’s day.
“You know what someone’s going through. A hug might help,” he said.
Emmitt Till lost his future for acting "inappropriately" toward a white woman, and so did Sam McNair, and while you may think of this comparison as apples to oranges, it is just an updated version of the same story edited & re-written for 2013.
Monday, December 16, 2013
An anchor from Fox News is always going "off the rails". It is as inevitable as death and taxes. These so called journalists are nothing more than buffoons with a platform for nonsense. The latest insane comment comes just in time for the holidays.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly isn't comfortable with the idea of a black Santa and wants to make a few things clear, especially to kids: Santa Claus is white and so was Jesus.
The anchor, who had an all-white lineup on her news analysis show, cleared up any misgivings that culture blogger Aisha Harris may have created with an article that explained the duality she faced seeing a white Santa as a child and a black Santa in her home.
Harris' position is that as the cultural makeup of society has changed, it is time for an all-inclusive Santa.
Her answer: A St. Nick penguin. She writes:
Why, you ask? For one thing, making Santa Claus an animal rather than an old white male could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame that I remember from childhood. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, Santa is one of the first iconic figures foisted upon you: He exists as an incredibly powerful image in the imaginations of children across the country (and beyond, of course). That this genial, jolly man can only be seen as white—and consequently, that a Santa of any other hue is merely a "joke" or a chance to trudge out racist stereotypes—helps perpetuate the whole "white-as-default" notion endemic to American culture (and, of course, not just American culture).
"That's where she went off the rails," Kelly exclaimed, when one her panelists tried to defend the jolly-white-man makeover.
Kelly had heard enough. "By the way, for you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But you know, Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we're just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids."
But Kelly wasn't done there. Since she was already wound up about Santa's racial identity, she figured she'd add Jesus to the fray.
"Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change. You know, I mean, Jesus was a white man, too. But you know it's like we have—he was a historical figure, I mean that's a verifiable fact. As is Santa. I just want the kids watching to know that."
First of all, to mention Jesus Christ and Santa Clause in the same sentence is blasphemous because it sounds like an attempt to marginalize, contextualize, and compare Jesus to a fictional character created to commerlize, and sell Christmas to the masses. But Jesus is real.
Many people argue fervently about the ethnicity of Jesus Christ and it’s clearly a game changer when it comes to following him. It is true, from a Spiritual perspective it is irrelevant, because what color is light? At the same time it was relevant enough for Jesus to be born into the same line as Abraham. What will happen when Jesus returns and he is darker than most people anticipated? How would White America react to this? Probably the same way they did when Presidential Candidate Romney lost the election. I actually heard some of my former co-workers say that if aliens came to Earth and they were Black, they would kill themselves. True story. Not that I am likening Jesus to an alien. Just putting it into context and perspective. Just imagine the reaction.
We have to take a look at Revelation 1:15 to gain a perspective on what the Holy Spirit was trying to share with us.
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
Were His feet a different color than His entire body? Did Jesus have a white face and black feet and vice versa?
Remember when Joseph fled the wrath of Herod to save the life of baby Jesus he hid in Egypt (and Egypt IS in Africa). He went there to blend in with the population. Herodotus, (the father of Greek history) gave eye-witness testimony Egyptians were African. At best people will argue Jesus was “olive” skinned and this builds a stronger case of the true ethnicity of Jesus. There are two types of olives, green and black. Do you think Jesus was green? The facts speak for themselves.
As far as Santa Claus in concerned, I can only speak from my own personal experience. When I was a child, the man in my house who provided gifts for me and my family every year was Black just like me, and the man who provides gifts for my children every year is Black just like me.
I am not even going to address the possibity of a penguin Santa Claus.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
To a judge, who sentenced Couch to 10 years' probation but no jail time, he's a defendant in need of treatment.
The decision disappointed prosecutors and stunned victims' family members, who say they feel that Couch got off too easy. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum of 20 years behind bars.
"Let's face it. ... There needs to be some justice here," Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter, told the local media.
"For 25 weeks, I've been going through a healing process, and so when the verdict came out, I mean, my immediate reaction is I'm back to week 1. We have accomplished nothing here. My healing process is out the window," he said.
Lawyers for Couch, 16, had argued that the teen's parents should share part of the blame for the crash because they never set limits for the boy and gave him everything he wanted.
A psychologist called by the defense described Couch as a product of "affluenza."
I would call Couch a product prevaledge, and a beneficiary of the American class system.
The psychologist reportedly testified that the teen's family felt wealth bought privilege, and that Couch's life could be turned around with one to two years of treatment and no contact with his parents.
Couch was sentenced by a juvenile court judge Tuesday. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could face up to 10 years of incarceration, according to a statement from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office.
Judge Jean Boyd told the court she would not release Couch to his parents, but would work to find the teen a long-term treatment facility.
"There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day," said Boyles. "The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can't buy justice in this country."
His wife, Hollie Boyles, and daughter, Shelby, left their home to help Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down. Brian Jennings, a youth pastor, was driving past and also stopped to help.
All four were killed when the teen's pickup plowed into the pedestrians on a road in Burleson, south of Fort Worth. Couch's vehicle also struck a parked car, which then slid into another vehicle headed in the opposite direction.
Two people riding in the bed of the teen's pickup were tossed in the crash and severely injured.
One is no longer able to move or talk because of a brain injury, while the other suffered internal injuries and broken bones.
"There is nothing the judge could have done to lessen the suffering for any of those families," said defense attorney Scott Brown.
"(The judge) fashioned a sentence that is going to keep Ethan under the thumb of the justice system for the next 10 years," he said. "And if Ethan doesn't do what he's supposed to do, if he has one misstep at all, then this judge, or an adult judge when he's transferred, can then incarcerate him."
Earlier on the night of the accident, June 15, Couch and some friends had stolen beer from a local Walmart. Three hours after the crash, tests showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit, according to the district attorney's office.
"We are disappointed by the punishment assessed but have no power under the law to change or overturn it," said Assistant District Attorney Richard Alpert. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and we regret that this outcome has added to the pain and suffering they have endured."
It is very rare, but not impossible, for prosecutors to challenge the sentence on the ground that it was too lenient, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin said.
"To give him a pass this time given the egregious nature of his conduct, four deaths, is just incomprehensible," she said.
It is unfair that other young defendants without the same wealth could end up in jail for a lot less, said Hostin, of CNN's "New Day" morning show.
"I think in terms of policy, this really flies in the face of our criminal justice system," she said. "There have to be consequences to actions, and that is what our system is about, even for juveniles."
If Affluenza is a real diagnosis as oppose to a dubious excuse for murder, then allowing this vehicular menace to get away with murder is only going to make his "condition" worse because he not only got away with killing four innocent people and injuring others, he also got away with theft for stealing alcohol. The lesson in all of this if I am Ethan Couch is if I can get away with murder, I can get away with anything. Treatment instead of a prison sentence will do him a grave dis-service. Instead of rehabilitating him it has the potential to cultivate psychopathy.