Monday, June 28, 2004

Jabber Away If You Must 

Yack, yack, yack.....

Well, enough folks bitched and moaned about it via email messages, so I've added comments to No Nanny State.

So waddaya waiting for?


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Scott Peterson Set Free! 

Lacy's Real Killers Found and Confess to Murders

What would would be the impact if that were tomorrow's newspaper heading?

Lacy's parents and family could go back to normal – as normal as could be expected having brutally lost a family member. Nonetheless, they would be out of the spotlight – no more reporters, and cameras, and microphones invading their lives.

Modesto could once again resume some semblance of normalcy. Scott's parents, too, could return to a fairly normal life, albeit one tarnished by the loss of their daughter-in-law and grandson.

But what could Scott expect?

He's now a pariah in his community. Regardless of the facts, there will be people that just know he did it. Imagine if you were Scott trying to apply for a job. Your name is so well known, across the country, that your chances of landing any job better than the midnight shift at the local Taco Bell, are as likely as the French not smelling like stinky cheese. Not likely at all.

Think about OJ Simpson. Personally, I think he did it, but that's irrelevant. A judge and jury found him not guilty. Why must he carry around the stigma of people believing he murdered his wife?

Because of our press.

His case was so widely broadcast that, regardless of the outcome, he was a marked man.

The first time I ran across something like this, it was much less dramatic, at least on a news-worthy level. The manager of a local pizza joint was accused by one of his female employees. She said that the manager had raped her in back of the restaurant.

It made the front page of our local newspaper. Manager's name. Pizza chain's name. Quotes by the “victim”. Speculation by the writer.

As you can guess, within a few days, the police had determined that she had made up the story because she was angry with the manager, and all charges were dropped. This story was published on page 8.

This guy's reputation in our small town was trashed. The reputation of the pizza chain was tarnished.

Nothing about who she was, or what happened as a result of her claims.

Why is our press able to do this – publish the name and background and “case facts” of an individual that has yet to be judged guilty? Where are our rights of privacy? What happened to the belief of, “innocent until proven guilty”?

I am a strong believer in a free and unfettered press, within certain limits. They don't have the right to simply make up lies about an individual and not be punished. That's called libel. Why do they have the right to publish stories – with input from the police or “victims” - that have yet to be substantiated?

This is going to sound very naive, but where is their decency? They may publish “factual” information that has no bearing on a case. Let's say that in the pizza case, the police found a condom with the DNA of both the manager and the accuser. This proves that the two of them had sex, but it has nothing to say about whether it was consensual sex or not.

If this information is published, the public now presumes the victim was telling the truth. But what if the security camera in the restaurant – whose tape was not reviewed for a few days - could prove that the act was consensual indeed.

If the manager were married, considerably older than the accuser, or had any type of past police record, he's now been found guilty in the court of public opinion. Thanks to the press.

I believe that the only time a non-convicted person should have their name in the paper is when the police have exhausted all other avenues to contact the accused.

Now, some of you constitutional scholars out there will say, “There's nothing at all in the Constitution about privacy. In fact, the word is never used.”

And you'd be wrong. While the Constitution does not specifically speak of privacy, the entire document is dedicated to this. Read the Bill of Rights, then the Constitution. It spells out what the government can and cannot do, and specifically lists a number of privacy related items, such as Unreasonable Search and Seizure, the right of private ownership of guns, the right to deny soldiers to be quartered in your home.

I think the most important is the 9th Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Isn't a right to privacy one of the most basic tenants to be retained, especially in a free country, and possibly for all humans?

I think so. We, as individuals, need to let our government officials and our various broadcast and printed media, know that this egregious abuse of our rights must stop. Consider the impact on your life if you happened to work at that pizza joint....


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Chirp, Chirp Goes The Bird  

Cool To Slam Whites?

In early June, Larry Bird made the following comments on a show on ESPN:

“I think it's good [having more white superstar basketball players] for a fan base, because, as we all know, the majority of the fans are white America," Bird said. "And if you just had a couple of white guys in there, you might get them a little excited. But it is a black man's game, and it will be forever. I mean, the greatest athletes in the world are African-American.”

Bird continued:
"The one thing that always bothered me when I played in the NBA was I really got irritated when they put a white guy on me," Bird said. "I still don't understand why. A white guy would come out (and) I would always ask him: 'What, do you have a problem with your coach? Did your coach do this to you?' And he'd go, 'No,' and I'd say, 'Come on, you got a white guy coming out here to guard me; you got no chance.' For some reason, that always bothered me when I was playing against a white guy."

Nary a peep about “racial stereotyping”, or “race bashing” or anything along those lines. No calls for Bird's removal as the president of the Indiana Pacer's Basketball team. Nuthin'.

In late November 2003, Rush Limbaugh made the following comments, also on ESPN:
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," Limbaugh said on the show. "There is a little hope invested in [Donovan] McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Rush was forced to resign his new commentary position with ESPN. Cries of racism were made by the then-Democratic presidential candidates, Al Sharpton and Wes Clarke. The NAACP cried foul. NFL owners were positively apoplectic in decrying the statement as without merit.

What's similar between these two comments? Both were done on ESPN. Both were made by middle aged white guys. Both were comments from white guys about black guys. Both made assumption – Limbaugh's was that the media wants black QB's to succeed regardless of their skills, and Bird's was that whites are poor basketball players.

What's dissimilar? Limbaugh's comments were from a white guy that was critical of a black guy. Bird's comments were from a white guy that were critical of white guys. As added bonus points, Bird was also complimentary of blacks, in regards to their athletic prowess. But was he?

Let's look at these differences more closely. Clearly, it's PC to make disparaging comments about white athletes, especially if you're white. Apparently it's equally PC, to a certain extent – and with far less of a chance for repercussions – if you're not white.

When Bird made the comments about not wanting the white guys to guard him, Magic Johnson made a comment that Bird was being dis-respected when this happened. Isn't that perpetuating the stereotype that whites aren't as good as blacks? Isn't Magic Johnson black? Why wasn't there outrage that a black man had made such a blatant racist remark? Limbaugh's comments were targeted at a single individual, while Johnson's were targeted at an entire racial class. Can you imaging the outrage if a white person made such a broad-brush statement about blacks?

Rush can. He didn't even come close to slamming an entire race, and his head was handed to him on a silver platter. Hmmmm.

What about Bird saying it was a black man's game? Is he saying that blacks are superior to whites, or as a few have suggested, that blacks have no other options? Why isn't he being hammered for either of those options?

Let's flip a stereotype around. Let's assume a famous black, oh, say Colin Powell, made the comment that, “Military command is a white man's game. Just look at the West Point, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy classes, plus those actually in charge. White guys. Sure, there's the occasional black super star, but by and large, it's white man turf.”

Calls of “Uncle Tom” and “House Boy” would be rolling off the tongues of the race-baiters.

The same tongues that have been strangely silent of late.


Thursday, June 03, 2004

Special Circumstances 

Isn't dead, dead?

It seems as though we've taken the “special” out of Special Circumstances – at least when it comes to punishing those that commit crimes in our society.

It used to be that you could get extra time in jail - or fried in the electric chair - if you killed a police officer or were a serial killer. Anything else was just murder and was punished accordingly.

That last sentence may sound a little cold – just murder. It's not meant that way. Taking the life of another human being is perhaps the most heinous of crimes. It's a crime that can never be righted. Break a window, you can put in another. Rob a bank, the money can be repaid. Even horrific crimes such as rape or molestation can be corrected – at least partially – through years of therapy. You can't “fix” a murder.

That being said, once the act has been committed, how many degrees of dead can you have? Supposed “Hate Crimes”, in particular, irk my sense of justice.

If I run up to a black man screaming, “I'm gonna kill you, nigger!”, and then shoot him in the heart, I'm going to be punished more severely than if I quietly walk up, blow out his brains, and never speak about my motivation. Isn't that man just as dead in either circumstance?

The point of Special Circumstances to dissuade people from committing acts that society finds especially abhorrent. If I'm a member of a radical women's group that wants all men dead, I merely need to keep my mouth shut while I'm bashing in his brains, and if caught, will be spared the enhancements. It appears the law is only for folks that are too stupid to know you will get extra time in the slammer by screaming epithets in public before you “off” your victim.

That's the problem with these “Hate Crime” laws. They hinge on the motivation of the perpetrator. Is that really relevant? Aren't I just as dead if I'm killed for being white or being killed because I have a nice watch on my wrist?

The traditional Special Circumstances – killing an elected official or peace officer – is black and white. Kill a cop, get fried. It doesn't matter if you did it because you hate cops, hate blue clothing, or were just having a bad day. Kill a cop, get fried. Simple.

A Special Circumstances penalty enhancement should not be avoidable by some simple planning by the perpetrator of the crime.


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