Archive for the ‘violence’ Category

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Innocence Lost: The Travails of a US Citizen

23-Jul-2008

The war in Iraq has left me with muddled thoughts: I originally supported the war, now I oppose the reasons for entering it, but support completing what we started. The war has left me feeling betrayed, exhausted, vulnerable. In other words, politics as usual.

I feel America’s leaders have lied to us; either through gross incompetence or sheer deceit. I am leaning towards the latter. I thought President Bush spoke the truth when he said Saddam Hussein represented a real threat to the Middle East and Western civilization. I believed Colin Powell’s remarks to the UN about the strong evidence of weapons of mass destruction (and I think Powell believed them when he said them). I believed it was a necessary evil to use military force in Iraq – even if it would distract from the on-going efforts in Afghanistan. How idiotic of me.

Had Israel not destroyed the nuclear reactor in Iraq in the 1980s, then history may have been different. However, they did. We did not invade Iraq for humanitarian reasons, as politicians today try to re-write the reasons for the invasion. We nominally did it for security reasons. I now believe it was for a single reason: Oil. How could I have been duped so?

We squandered the good will of our citizens, the international community, and the resources in fighting the real battle against terrorism. All for what gain? Could I have been any more stupid?

I cringed at the so-called “Patriot Act”, because of how it impinged civil liberties – yet I did not actively oppose it. I thought it necessary in the wake of September 11 and our need for counter-terrorism. What I fool I have been.

The words of The Who resonate with me: “I get on my knees and I pray, we won’t get fooled again“.

I watched the Watergate hearings on television when I was young. Then, there was an aura of innocence lost. If the president could be so deceitful, what hope was there for integrity in any political process?

The feeling I have today is strangely reminiscent of that era.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right

14-Jul-2008

Extremism is alive and well.

Especially when it comes to racial extremists. We are all aware of the white supremacists and the idiots who march around in sheets. But there exist extremists on the other side of the aisle too. First, let’s talk about the anti-everyone-who-does-not-share-my-inbred-genes groups.

Many people do not realize that white extremists still exist. They still march, still shout, still spew hatred, still try to intimidate. This news story tells of these bigots trying to stage a “rally” in Athens, Alabama last year. According to this news account, the people of the city made a stand against them. I hope that is accurate.

Most of these groups have been rightfully marginalized, and no longer have political clout or the grass roots sympathies they once did. That does not mean we can drop our vigilance of them – it just means that their effectiveness has been muted.

Which brings us to our second group – the black extremist.

In my area, the “International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement”, or Uhurus, has a significant presence. You may never have heard of them. However, they are often quoted in news stories relating to race issues in my area. The politicians here try to appease them, although such efforts are generally rebuffed. And this is why I consider the black extremists more dangerous than the white extremists: these groups are not marginalized, and have the ear of the media and politicians.

In the Uhuru’s own words, they believe every black person in prison is a “prisoner of war” and must be freed. They call the police an “occupying army”, who are stealing resources from African Americans. They state public education amounts to “criminalization of African children” and call for an “end to the white nationalists anti-African curriculum that is being used.” They also call special education “a system of mind control, tracking African children into failure and prisons.” They accuse the public health care system of genocide against African Americans. They call Barack Obama “WHITE POWER IN BLACK FACE“. The list goes on.

The Uhuru followers have been implicated in two riots in the City of St. Petersburg, Florida. And yet, instead of being treated like the terrorists they are, they are quoted by the media, and coddled by politicians who have no spine. In fact, my own work site restricts access to the white supremacist sites, yet allows access to the Uhuru sites.

You will gain nothing trying to appease terrorists.

We need to get past worrying about being called a “racist”, when in fact we are pointing out terrorists. Whether those terrorists are white, black or brown does not matter. Whether they call themselves Ku Klux Klan, Uhuru or Al Queda does not matter. We need to treat them all the same.

How’s that for equality for you?

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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Death Wish: A Korean Dog’s Last Gasps

10-Jul-2008

WARNING: This article contains descriptions and videos of animal brutality that some may find disturbing.

South Korea and China (as well as other countries) have a tradition of eating cat and dog. While I personally find such an idea repulsive, I can respect that different cultures have traditions that outsiders find reprehensible. Many citizens of India for example, find American habits of eating cow unfathomable.

I am a dog person, and love canines (my beagle is sitting next to me as I type this). However, I will not take issue with these peoples’ habit of eating dog meat itself. It is the manner of keeping, and especially of butchering, of some of these animals that I take offense at.

Some people who eat dog believe that the more adrenaline the animal has in its system when it dies, the more tasty the meat, and the more health benefits one gets by ingesting the meat. To accomplish this, the dog (or cat) is brutally tortured before its death.

I was not aware of the practice of hanging a dog until it died, and just how brutal and drawn-out these deaths are. The following video shows examples of these practices. WARNING: This video is very graphic. I, personally, have only been able to watch about half of it, before I can take no more.

I am writing this article, not just to raise awareness, but also to encourage readers to petition South Korean diplomatic missions. The butchering and eating of dogs is illegal in South Korea – but these laws are commonly ignored. International pressure and rising internal protests are starting to have an effect. This next video, if you ignore the goofy play-acting, shows this rising effect.

If you do contact Korean representatives on this issue, remember: be respectful! MOST Koreans do not practice or approve of this brutality, and it is already illegal to do this in Korea. Enforcement is the key.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

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Rap, Gangsta’ and a dead teen

11-Jun-2008

There is a sad and serious item in my local area: a young man of 17 was shot and killed by a St. Petersburg, Fl, police officer on Saturday, June 7th. Whenever lethal use of force must be employed, it is sad; but it is doubly so when the person who died is still a minor.

I must qualify right now that, for a short time, I was a sworn officer in the St. Petersburg police department. At the very least, I can testify to how serious any officer in that department takes using lethal force. The training and department culture lend itself to officers never wanting to draw their weapons – and *never* wanting to shoot another human being.

This young boy, Javon Dawson, who never had a criminal record before, died because he made a seriously bad choice. He was in a large crowd of people, shooting a revolver, apparently shooting both vertically and horizontally. Police came out to clear out the crowds of people, and Javon refused to put his gun down when ordered to by an officer. By accounts in the news, Dawson turned away from the officer, and then pointed his gun behind him. The officer shot Javon twice, killing him.

Javon is black. The officer who shot him white. A group of extremists in St. Petersburg, the Uhurus, are attempting to portray this as police murder. Javon’s father is quoted as saying “They took my son’s, … took his life. The St. Petersburg Police Department took my son’s life.” A witness to Dawson’s death said “I was screaming and crying. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is somebody’s child.’ ” Finally, a neighbor of Javon’s said “I don’t think he deserved to die. I never seen him fight. Never seen him get mad. All you saw was him trying to flirt with girls.”

Why would this teen, who “never[got] mad”, shoot a gun in a crowded street? Why would he *ever* consider disobeying an officer’s order to put the gun down, let alone point it at the officer? For me, I think the answer lies in his MySpace page.

Like many young people, Javon was a fan of so-called “gangsta” rap. His MySpace page has a video of Dawson with blaring rap in the background, while he punches the air telling the n*****s to “back down”, to shut the f*** up, and “I’d better not get my hands on you”. At the end of the video, he picks up what appears to be a gun, and points it at the camera. Other pictures on his page show him in various fighting stances. Mostly outside. I guess his neighbor missed these action scenes.

In the comments section of this news story, many people have remarked on his violent MySpace page. One commenter though, had this to say: “SO WHAT! I’d guess half the teenage males on my space, certainly half the black male teens on my space take on that persona. Part of its interest to teens is the fact that its a place to put on airs where you don’t have to be yourself. Its a teen thing, and it means absolutly nothing as far as this case is concerned.

Frankly, I think that comment sums up the problem. So called “gangsta'” has permeated young minds, and affected their thinking. With such wholesome thoughts such as “F*** B******, Get money”, our children are being led down a path of self-destruction, careless attitudes towards our fellow human beings, and the celebration of narcissism.

Yes, similar things have been said about other music, television, movies and video games before. Studies have shown only a mild affect, if at all, from exposure to violence on these mediums. However, two points must be made before dismissing attacks on “gangsta” rap as just another witch hunt: 1) It is true that media HAS affected our views on sex and our attitudes towards our neighbors, and more importantly 2) “gangsta” is a full immersion medium. It is not just a musical medium – it is a philosophy of its own. This is unlike all of the others.

Rap started as an outlet for artists in low income and crime ridden areas to express themselves. It evolved. The cruder, the harsher, the more violent, the more selfish, the better. The way youth, particularly black youth, are trying to emulate these artists is, in my mind, unprecedented. To some extent, this did happen in the ’60s. Timothy Leary told a generation to “tune in, turn on, drop out”. Many did, to their own destruction. However, in the ’60s, we took exception to these messages, and many pushed back. Those who fully immersed in the Leary like attitudes were relatively few, and were harmed for it.

Not so rap. It has been reluctantly accepted. Our children are emulating these lifestyles while we believe “it means absolutly nothing”. Instead of the community banding together and try to make sure the “gangsta” philosophical attitudes do not kill another young person, we blame the police; society; whites; government. It can’t be the rap songs which encourage the brandishing of guns, and celebrate the killing of cops – no, it is the cops fault that he shot when a gun was pointed at him. After all, rap is just music, right?

We are concerned that sports figures use drugs or get arrested. Why? Because we know that these public persons are role models for our youth. So, why do we believe that “gangsta” rap is different? Immersion into sports can have consequences, but immersion into “gangsta” life styles can’t?

It is time the community, and especially the black community, came together, and start guiding our youth. Get our children away from music that does nothing but tear down, and show them how to be constructive. Teach them that attitudes make or break them – and the adoption of “gangsta” attitudes CAN get you killed. Show them that being dead is not glorious; you are just dead. It is time that we, the people, put an end to the evils “gangtsa” rap would instill in a generation.

How many more Javons will it take? When will we say “enough!”? Will Javon be the last? I hope so; but it is unlikely – until you AND I do something.

I hope Javon has found his peace. My sincere condolences go out to his family. I would give this advice to them though: if you have any other minor age children, get them away from “gangsta” rap, and teach them what it means to be a productive member of our society.