The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘murder’

DON’T USE THE ‘P’ WORD

There has been so much news media coverage of the anti-Zimmerman Trayvon Martin rallies that it occurred to me that there has been one group of idiots protesters who have been singular in their silence.  That group, of course, is OWS.   You may remember them from a few years back.

Surely, I thought they cannot possibly have despoiled all of New York City’s parks.  There are just too many of them (parks that is).  So what’s been happening with this group of kooks budding intelligentsia?

Well, the MSM may consider them yesterday’s news but after doing a search I came upon their web page.  And it appears that they are alive and well and still finding causes worthy of their attention.

Now with all the Martin stuff going on, perhaps you, like me, managed to miss the fact that OWS held a rally – according to their web site on Friday, July 19th in 35 cities (it turned out actually to be eight) around the world.

The purpose of these rallies was to protest the deaths of two women, one who was murdered in Turkey and the other in Sweden.  The murders occurred earlier this month and are unrelated other than that both of these women were prostitutes “sex workers.”

The following comes from the OWS website:

“Following the murders of Dora Özer and Petite Jasmine on the 9th and 11 of July 2013, sex workers, their friends, families, and allies are coming together to demand an end to stigma, criminalisation (sic), violence and murders.  In the week since the two tragedies occurred, the feelings of anger, grief, sadness and injustice – for the loss of Dora and Jasmine, but also for the senseless and systemic murders and violence against sex workers worldwide – have brought together people in more than 35 cities from four continents who agreed to organise (sic) demos, vigils, and protests in front of Turkish and Swedish embassies or other symbolic places.  JOIN US on Friday the 19th at 3 pm local time and stand in solidarity with sex workers and their loved ones around the world!  Justice for Dora!  Justice for Jasmine!  Justice for all sex workers who are victims of violence!”

The protests in Dora’s memory (apparently Dora was a man) were scheduled to take place in Paris, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Berlin, Brighton, Canberra and Vancouver.  It isn’t surprising that American news media failed to cover the protests as most Americans have no idea where in Africa any of these places are

As to Petite Jasmine, she apparently was a woman, in fact a mother – but if the searches I did were correct, her name was Jasmine Petite rather than the way OWS had it listed.  It seems the Swedes frown on prostitution “sex work” and took her children from her, awarding custody to her ex-husband who had a reputation for heaping physical abuse on his former wife.  I wouldn’t care to be a judge deciding child custody under those circumstances.

While I was unable to find any specifics as to the exact execution of either murder, suffice it to say that I would expect that most murders could be categorized as “brutal.”  To trivialize any person’s wrongful death because of her “profession” is to demean the memory not only of that individual but to demean ourselves and our own humanity in the process.  In that respect, as I knew neither Dora nor Jasmine, I have no emotional response as I would at the loss of someone who was a part of my life but join with John Donne in his sentiments as he expressed them in “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”

Hopefully, both Dora’s and Jasmine’s murderers will be found, tried, convicted and pay an appropriate penalty.

I was struck by one passage which appeared later in the OWS release about the solidarity demonstrations.  And although I have read and re-read it at least a dozen times, I still am having some difficulty translating it into comprehensible English:

“As the sex trade becomes an ever more important part of how neoliberal economies handle the poorest and most marginalized, violence against sex workers – particularly against transgender and immigrant women – has become a tragic epidemic.”

Frankly, while I don’t know the statistics, I think it would be hard to categorize the number of prostitutes “sex workers” being murdered world-wide as an epidemic.  These were the first two incidents with which I was familiar – and I only happened to learn of them while I was looking for something else.

As I make an attempt at translating the OWS paragraph, I gather that what they are saying is that most governments (probably based on the majority of their citizens’ implied beliefs) simply don’t care much for people engaged in the business of prostitution “sex work” and therefore offer little protection from violence for people in the industry.

That may well be true.  But the reason for that may not be solely the willful disregard of these people’s importance and their lives but a function of fiscal reality.

You see, when you have government needing unexpectedly to divert its resources to doing things like cleaning up the parks in New York because groups such as OWS have totally trashed them; when you have to dispatch the NYPD to those same parks to try to retain some semblance of civilized behavior, those are funds that might otherwise have been used to protect not only NY’s prostitutes “sex workers,” but the general population of the city.

So if OWS wants truly to honor the memories of Dora and Jasmine and protect others in their line of work, perhaps they might consider changing their tactics from disruption and debris to engaging with people in a serious and mature manner in a more conversational way.  They certainly have the right, as do we all, to make their opinions known, given their protection under the 1st Amendment.

In closing, I would like to share with my readers another announcement which OWS offers on its website.  Apparently, Tuesday, November 5, 2013 will be a “day of solidarity” on which OWS is organizing a “worldwide demonstration against corrupt government”.  I can’t say that I completely disagree with their premise.  So if any of you is interested you still have some time to sign up for this event.

As for me, I’m particularly curious to see how, if this worldwide demonstration comes off, it is going to play in Islamabad,Tripoli and Beijing..

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WINNERS/LOSERS

There were no winners in the Zimmerman/Martin trial.  Trayvon Martin is still dead.  George Zimmerman is still living in hell.

If there were anything good that came out of this farce of a well-orchestrated operetta (sans musique) it is that those engaged in the garment industry who manufacture sweatshirts with hoods saw a rise in their sales.  And we had the opportunity to hear from some of America’s brain trust (a number of NFL players and some of their kin) who made direct and indirect threats against Mr. Zimmerman and who spoke of terminating his continued residency on planet Earth.

The DOJ which had been considering bringing charges against Mr. Zimmerman for possible violations of the “Civil Rights Act” prior to the criminal trial, announced today that it is evaluating pursuing those charges.  And I believe that Mr. Zimmerman should be grateful that the DOJ is vigilant in this regard.  I hope that his attorneys request that Atty. General Holder investigate those NFL twits who tweeted their violent responses to the verdict.

But we all know that will not happen.

Falcons receiver Roddy White, who rarely bites his tongue, sounded off loudly on Twitter. ”F–king Zimmerman got away with murder today wow what kind of world do we live in,” White said. ”All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid.”

Marcus Vick, the brother of Eagles quarterback Mike Vick, continued a theme he began during the prosecution’s closing argument. ”Like I said before, a dogs life mean more then a human of color,” Marcus Vick said. ”My people’s did 2 years over some bullshit when this dude took a human life. Y’all MF’s sick. . . . Zimmerman u peace of DOG shit if I ever seen u I would run up n let u beat my ass then I’ll pop u right between the eyes u cricket Bitch.”

Even Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who isn’t known for saying or doing outlandish things, offered up a chilling prediction for George Zimmerman’s future, via Deadspin: ”Zimmerman doesn’t last a year before the hood catches up with him.”

Bengals linebacker James Harrison made a very strong point that gets to the core of the case. ”Think I’ll go pick a fight and get my ass kicked then pull my gun and kill somebody and see if I can get away,” Harrison tweeted.

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, who lost a brother last year under far different but no less tragic circumstances, realizes that eye-for-an-eye revenge shouldn’t happen. ”Also as mad as a lot of people are over the verdict…trying to take out Zimmerman isn’t the answer neither,” Smith said.

Thank you, Mr. Smith for offering a bit of sanity to this conversation.

All humans make statements and decisions based on either logic, emotion or a combination of the two.  At certain moments one side or the other may be dominant.  But the problem is that if we allow our emotions to direct our thinking to the exclusion of logic, our decisions tend to be catastrophic.

Consider that if the Captain of the Titanic, realizing the boat was imperiled ran around yelling, “Oh, no.  The ship is sinking.  The ship is sinking,” rather than ordering the crew to prepare the lifeboats in order to evacuate the passengers.  That might well have resulted in there being no survivors.

And so, perhaps, we can overlook the over-reactive emotional response to a situation that the administration, the media and the self-styled “quasi-intelligentsia” in the black community stirred up and fostered.  After all, making sure that adding kindling to the fire of “race relations” is their agenda of distracting us from the real racial tragedies in this country.

After a few days have passed and emotions have subsided, those within America’s black community who really want to address this important matter in a serious way should start asking some serious and important questions.  And they should look at the facts, not the TV screen.

It is a fact, according to FBI statistics, that when interracial violence and death occurs involving a black and a white person, 81% of the time the victim is the white person.   If the white community has this information, do those in the black community not understand why white people might be legitimately frightened of blacks?

But there is more than this with which the black community in America should be concerned.  And that concern should not arise from their worries about “crackers” or the KKK doing them in.  Over 95% of the murders which befall blacks in America are committed by other blacks.  The “hood” is a very, very dangerous place to live and to raise children.

To my brothers and sisters who reside there, I would say to you that you have settled for enslavement as surely as if “Old Massa” purchased you at an auction.  You have been bought and paid for through that EBT card and your sub-standard healthcare that Medicaid provides and your Obamaphone.  You have sold your souls to the devil – and his name is your congressman or city representative or ward alderman.  And until you wake up and hear that call of truly great leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who had a vision and a plan, you will live out your lives in servitude – and you will condemn your children to the same fate.

In the current culture and climate, there are no winners.

A FELON WHO WASN’T ALLOWED TO POSSESS WEAPONS …

William Spengler will become the next buzz word  as we discuss the most recent mentally disfigured person who went on a killing spree.  This time it was two firefighters in Webster, NY. The police believe that he was also responsible for the death of his older sister, either through shooting her or because of the fire he started in her and other homes in this community.

Mr. Spengler will not achieve the same degree of attention that Adam Lanza is receiving as the number of his victims was small and they were both adults – and people who had signed on to put their lives at risk in the service of others.  That should in no way diminish our sorrow for them or their families or minimize their status among the murdered.  They were both heroes on their jobs and victims in their deaths and they, and all others who place themselves in jeopardy for the welfare of society, deserve both our respect and our gratitude.

In 1980, Mr. Spengler accepted a plea bargain of manslaughter in the death of his grandmother.  He served 17 years in prison for this crime.  Unlike his recent victims, he murdered his grandmother with a hammer.  In some ways, his earlier crime is even more gruesome than the one he just perpetrated.  It was far more personal.

After reading about Mr. Spengler, when I came to the part of the story that briefly addressed his grandmother’s murder, I couldn’t help but think of the late Elizabeth Montgomery in the title role in, “The Legend of Lizzie Borden”.

While most of us remember her best for her portrayal of the lead character in “Bewitched,” Ms. Montgomery showed herself in a very different light as Lizzie.  She was distant, aloof – and frightening.  Much like the man who left the note before he began his shooting spree, which said in part:

“I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down, and do what I like doing best, killing people.”

What kind of mind could not only believe in but admit to that statement?  I think we all know the answer.  And that answer, to which I believe both my conservative and liberal friends would subscribe is “sick.”

This goes beyond argumentation about guns and gun control.  This goes to the question of whether a person has a right to defend himself should he be confronted with one of these “sick” people.  And I believe, that the answer to that question is that we do have that right.  There are, apparently, more than a few of them roaming these United States.

Because Mr. Spengler was a convicted felon, our laws denied him the right to possess any weapons.  But he apparently ignored that law and made himself armed and dangerous and deadly.

So, before I need to get a background check completed so that I may purchase a hammer at my local Ace or Lowe’s or Home Depot, I think I’m going to stock up … just in case.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

Other than having read more than my fair share of Freud, Jung, Skinner and various others in their field, I have no training in psychology or psychiatry.  So it would seem that trying to understand the psychology of what motivates people would be best left to those with greater credentials in the field.

I do have training in other of the social sciences – all of which are inexact in both their methodology as well as their conclusions.  But it is not on this training that I will rely in this post – rather something quite different.  That is my own power of observation.

Perhaps it is a function of genetics, perhaps the environment in which I was raised or both but I am very observant.  I say that with no aim to self-promotion. On the two occasions that I have witnessed a crime the police have commented that, “they wished more witnesses were as descriptive and accurate as I was.”  By the way, the guilty parties were both apprehended.  (One conviction – one plea bargain).

I have been trying to make sense of the seemingly endless stream of impersonal group murders that have been making all too frequent news.  Whether it’s a movie theater or a Sikh temple or a military installation or a high school.  Yesterday’s shooting in a conservative organization’s offices in Washington, D. C. might well have been added to this list had it not been for the brave intervention of a security guard.

Can these all be incidences of copy cats run amok?  Or is there something else going on?  The motivation and the targets seem to be disconnected.  Yet, I believe there is a connection, if not in terms of the victims, but in terms of the perpetrators.

It is difficult to walk up to someone and insult that person to his face, let alone take his life.  Direct confrontation makes things very personal.  But it is not difficult to say something malicious about someone and post it on Facebook so that thousands of people can see it.

Are we becoming disconnected from one another on an interpersonal basis?  Let me offer this example for you to consider.

One of my acquaintances asked for my advice about her relationship with her boy friend.  She told me she wanted to talk with him about where it was going and what their mutual expectations were.  So she called to speak with him, actually wanting to have a sit down face to face conversation.  He chose not to do that – although he was willing to discuss the matter – but only if they did so by texting each other.  After hearing this it took me two days to recover from the shock.  By the way, my advice was, “Move on.”

Our technology has done many wonderful things for us.  We can communicate faster and stay informed under almost any circumstance or location.   That is a good thing.  But the bad thing is the impersonality of how we achieve this as we sit behind our computer screens and our smart phones.

Would it have been as easy for James Holmes to pull the trigger in the Aurora, CO  movie theater if he knew the victims he was about to shoot?  Would the shooter at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin have been able to carry out his plan if some of the worshippers were his neighbors?  Perhaps there is something so twisted about these people that it would have made no difference to them.  But perhaps not.

If we are becoming people who can only express our feelings about our inter-personal relationships through texting; if we view each other merely as out-of-body avatars and gravatars; if we give up our innate need to communicate on a personal level with each other through touch and compassion and feeling, is it any surprise that these sort of events are occurring with greater frequency?

I can’t help but think of the proverbial poor fish who are swimming in the barrel, the hunter poised to strike with his rifle outside their little world, looking in on his victims.  And we are the fish.

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TWO DEAD PRIESTS

This morning after Gracie and I had completed our early morning walk I brought up my home page to see whether the world outside our neighborhood had held together for yet another night. I was pleased that it had. As my coffee was brewing downstairs I briefly glanced over the stories that Yahoo News thought was worthy of inclusion.

As I looked over the items that were listed I saw one about two priests in Colombia who had been shot to death a little more than a year ago. Apparently, they had hired the hit men who killed them because one of the two priests discovered that he had AIDS.

The article was very brief and I could hear my coffee maker beeping that it had done its job and “x’d” out of the article to enjoy the java and give Gracie her morning chicken jerky treats.

As I sat in the backyard sipping my brew I started thinking about how I might craft this story into a post for this blog. I had a few ideas but in order to develop them I wanted to re-read the story and see if there were any others out there which had fleshed out more details about it.

My thinking was that I might write about the theological basis that the Roman Catholic church has on homosexuality – and how the psychology of having to teach their flock a doctrine that undermined themselves might have played into the decisions of these two priests to hire the hit men who killed them.

I pondered talking about how these two men had decided that suicide (even assisted-suicide) which is viewed as a mortal sin, was preferable to dealing with their homosexuality.

I considered discussing how homosexuality is so counter-cultural to the Latin and Hispanic community and the difficulties that the two Hispanic gay men I know experienced in being shunned and cut off from their families.

I wasn’t quite certain where I was going to take this but I wanted to pursue it.

I was surprised that in a half hour, the story had disappeared from the Yahoo News page. Despite my best efforts to retrieve it I couldn’t find a way to do that within Yahoo. So I went to Google and typed in “Gay Colombian Priests’ Deaths.” Google did the effective job that it normally does and brought up a page of listings which directed me to the material I was seeking.

What I found in looking at the three stories really shocked me more than the subject matter and changed my direction and thinking about what I would post. If you’ve ever played that picture puzzle game where two similar, but not identical images are placed side by side – and your job is to find the differences – you will understand my reason for surprise if you visit each of the three links below which covered this story

 

http://news.yahoo.com/colombian-priests-hire-hitmen-alleged-suicide-152936007.html

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2101457/Colombian-priests-hired-hitmen-kill-themselves.html

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/colombia-priests-hitmen-suicide_n_1276289.html

Did you notice as I did that under the guise of presenting “news” three separate sources reported the exact same story – including identical verbiage! Is this reporting? What would the people who wrote these stories have done if the Copy and Paste functions didn’t exist within our world of word processing?

Yes there are some cosmetic differences between the three articles – but these pale in comparison to the similarities – like our little puzzle game. And what should concern all of us is that if we rely on un-thinking writers and un-thinking sources for our news – what is it that we are really getting?

There is no doubt that today more than ever our thoughts and ideas are molded by the media. And when all of those media are saying the same thing it is only natural that if we don’t examine our sources critically we can easily be manipulated into believing that what we read or see is the truth.

One of the early magnates in the media business, William Randolph Hearst understood the power that his newspaper empire had when he said,

“You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

 

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