Posted: August 29, 2015 Filed under: Crime, Criminal Justice System, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: 5 Seconds of Summer, age of Romeo and Juliet laws, Bernie Sanders, Boston statues, Carrie Mote Craig, DNC meeting, Hannah Brewer, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Morgan Whitmer, nosy neighbors, Owen Labrie, rape trial, sexual assault, St. Paul's School, super delegates
Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston’s South End
Once again, I’ve spent my early morning hours looking at pictures–this time I have a collection of Boston statues to share–there are gazillions of them here! I’ve got news too, of course.
Last week I wrote a post about a rape trial in Concord, New Hampshire. The case highlighted a culture of misogyny and sexual assault at St. Paul’s, an exclusive private boarding school. Well, the verdict is in.
The jury found Owen Labrie not guilty of aggravated rape, but they convicted him of several other charges, which could still result in jail time. NYT:
…after about seven hours of deliberations over two days, the jury appeared to dismiss Mr. Labrie’s insistence that he had not penetrated the girl in any way, but found that the state had not proved that what happened was against the girl’s expressed wishes.
The nine men and three women rejected the more serious accusations of aggravated sexual assault, as well as a misdemeanor assault charge of biting the girl’s chest, but convicted Mr. Labrie of three misdemeanors related to the girl’s age and involving penetration with his penis, mouth and finger. He was also convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and a felony charge involving use of a computer to lure a minor.
It seemed, one expert said, to be a compromise among the jurors.
The conviction on using a computer to abuse a child means Labrie will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common
Boston Globe: As victim in prep-school case feared, the jury didn’t think she did enough.
In the end, the jury believed her. Owen Labrie had sex with her when she was just 15.
But just like she feared, they didn’t think she did enough to stop him.
Over three days of testimony, the now 16-year-old girl described her encounter with one of the more popular seniors on the campus of her elite New Hampshire prep school last year. She described how Labrie, then 18, invited her to a rendezvous in a secluded St. Paul’s School building. She told of kissing him, of taking off her sweatshirt and then her shorts. And then feeling everything go way too far.
His fingers were inside her, then his tongue, then his penis. He wasn’t getting the message when she pulled her bra strap back on, held onto her underpants, pulled his head away from between her legs as she said no repeatedly, she said. She said she winced and stiffened as he penetrated her.
She should have never left her room that night, she thought, as she stared up at the ceiling and waited for it to end.
“If I had just been able to kick or yell at him,” she testified. “If I just had been able to get the point across. To push or do something. I could have stopped it.”
Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza
So they believed Labrie penetrated her when she was under the age of consent, but they still thought it was consensual? I don’t understand that.
At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern explains: The Odd Sexual-Consent Law That Explains the Bizarre Owen Labrie Verdict.
Like many states, New Hampshire has a “Romeo and Juliet” exception to statutory rape. Such exceptions allows individuals to have sex with minors if they are close in age. These laws are designed to allow teens to engage in consensual sex without fear of prosecution. Florida provides a good example: There, the Romeo and Juliet law creates a four-year bubble, so that an 18-year-old can legally have sex with a 14-year-old, but a 19-year-old cannot.
New Hampshire’s law follows this model—with a twist. It sets a hard age of consent at 13: Before then, all sex is illegal. After 13, the rules change. It isn’t illegal to engage in consensual non-penetrative sexual contact with an individual between ages 13 and 16 unless you are at least five years older than the younger person. (Think necking and fondling.) It is always illegal, however, to engage in penetrative sexual contact with any individual between ages 13 and 16. (16 is the universal age of consent in the state.)
Here, the Romeo and Juliet law only affects the severity of the punishment. If you have penetrative consensual sex with an individual between ages 13 and 16 but are within four years of age, you are guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault. If the age difference is more than four years, you’re guilty of felony sexual assault.
Labrie was 18 when he allegedly put his penis, tongue, and finger in a 15-year-old’s vagina. The jury did not find that the girl resisted, so he isn’t guilty of felony rape. But he still had penetrative sex with a girl under 16, the jury believed. Thus, Labrie is guilty on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, one for each form of penetration.
A couple more links:
Boston Globe: Owen Labrie and the ‘nerd defense’
Boston Globe: Prep-school rape trial: Read statements from the victim’s family, St. Paul’s School, and Harvard College.
The Boston Women’s Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston’s rich history – Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.
I thought I’d share a heartwarming story with you for a change. My mom passed this one on to me.
IndyStar: Indianapolis radio contest sparks neighborhood feud in Muncie.
It wasn’t really a feud, just one nasty neighbor with no sense of humor.
High school student Hannah Brewer, with her mother’s permission, painted the garage door of their residence in an attempt to prove she is the biggest fan of the pop/punk band 5 Seconds of Summer, aka 5SOS.
“Get creative and prove you’re the biggest 5SOS fan on your garage door so the whole neighborhood can see it!” the radio station said in announcing the competition. “Color, paint, decorate … whatever you can think of! Just make sure we can see RadioNOW 100.9 … somewhere” on the door.
The winner will receive tickets to the band’s Aug. 22 concert and get to meet the four members backstage at Klipsch Music Center.
Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!”
Hannah and her friend Morgan Whitmer worked on the garage door mural together “painting images of the band members, a message reading, “5SOS is kinda hot!” a skull, an astronaut and other things on the door.” An anonymous neighbor was so scandalized that she wrote the ridiculous letter:
Soon after that, an anonymous letter titled “A NOTE FROM YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD” was left in Brewer’s front door at 3305 W. Oaklyn Ave.
It said, “At first we all thought you had been a victim of vandalism on your garage, seeing how NOTHING like that has ever happened around here before … In case you haven’t noticed this isn’t LA or Chicago or Mexico and it certainly isn’t south Muncie.
“There is discussion of getting up a petition, calling the newspaper and retaining a lawyer in case you don’t do the right thing over the ghetto painting … We are all sorry we have had to do this but nobody has ever treated this neighborhood in a trashy manner!”
The author of the letter left another copy of it in the front door on another day.
Hannah’s mother Carrie Mote Craig, a teacher, called the police and learned there was nothing illegal about the painting. One police officer even came to their house and posed for a picture in front of the garage door. Craig then sent an explanatory letter to all of the neighbors and the girls ended up getting tons of support and lots of people stopping by to look at the painting.
Statue of Mary Dyer, who “challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs,” and was put to death for it.
Well, it turned out that Hannah wasn’t eligible for the radio station contest, because she doesn’t live in Indianapolis. But when the station heard the story, the girls still got tickets and a chance to meet their favorite band. Indy Star:
RadioNOW 100.9’s afternoon drive host Mike Klein and midday host Hunter personally delivered the good news to Brewer, a high school senior, at her place of work (Wendy’s) on Wednesday night.
“She didn’t actually win the contest,” Max Williams, marketing director at Indianapolis-based RadioNOW, said. “The reason why is she lives in Muncie, which is technically not part of our market. She was not even eligible to win according to the contest rules.”
However, “because of everything that happened and the extra exposure she got for us it is definitely worth her getting to meet the band,” Williams said. “The record label thought it was great extra attention to their band. They loved it, so we were able to secure the extra meet and greet and tickets. They won some pretty decent seats and will get to go backstage prior to the show and meet the band.”
It’s just a small story, but it gave me a good feeling, so I thought I’d share it.
How about some politics? I know, ugh. But there is some political news about Democrats today that isn’t about Emailghazi.
National Journal: At DNC Meeting, Hillary Clinton’s Quiet Moves Are the Ones that Matter.
MINNEAPOLIS—Hillary Clinton publicly bashed her Republican presidential rivals in the cavernous hotel ballroom here Friday, but her bigger accomplishment at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting was what her campaign was doing privately.
At a meet-and-greet at a nearby office tower, in small group sessions, and in one-on-ones behind closed doors at the meeting hotel, Clinton and her top staff worked the 700 or so “superdelegates” who will help choose the next Democratic nominee for firm commitments.
“They’re working really hard to solidify their count going in,” said Florida DNC member Alma Gonzalez. “It is a continual and consistent push.”
“This is really about how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination,” Clinton said at a brief news conference. She said the effort springs from one of the lessons learned from her failed run in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign took advantage of party rules to win more delegates even when failing to win the primary vote in a particular state.
“I got lot of votes, but I didn’t get enough delegates, and so I think it’s understandable that my focus is going to be on delegates as well as votes this time,” she said. “I’m very encouraged by the kind of response that I’m getting.”
Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University
Two more links on this:
Bloomberg: Clinton Camp Says One-Fifth of Delegates Secured for Nomination.
Politico: Democratic elite rally around Hillary Clinton.
Naturally, other candidates were not happy.
Washington Post: Democratic challengers launch attacks against Clinton, party leadership.
What began as a routine forum of candidate speeches evolved into a surprisingly dramatic day at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley issued thinly veiled attacks on Clinton and the party leadership.
Speaking from the dais, with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting a few feet away, O’Malley blasted the party’s limited number of sanctioned debates as a process “rigged” in favor of the front-runner. The DNC is holding six debates, only four before February’s first caucuses in Iowa, which O’Malley argued is a disadvantage for all the candidates and a disservice to Democrats generally.
“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” said O’Malley, who has struggled to gain traction in the polls. He added: “We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic party.”
Sanders — who later told reporters he agreed with O’Malley — lamented low Democratic turnout in last year’s midterm elections and said the party must grow beyond “politics as usual” if it hopes to produce the level of voter enthusiasm required to retain the White House in 2016.
“We need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of that establishment,” said Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with Democrats in the Senate.
Asked later whether he was speaking specifically about Clinton, he told reporters, “I’ll let you use your imagination on that.”
Tough shit. Obama was completely ruthless in 2008, and it worked. I’m glad Hillary is following his lead.
Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.
More news, links only:
Did you see Peggy Noonan’s latest word salad? Wall Street Journal: America is So in Play, and commentary from Gawker: Peggy Noonan’s Dominican Friend, Cesar, Works at the Deli Counter. Good for a laugh.
CNN: Church says Donald Trump is not an ‘active member’.
Meteor Blades at DailyKos: Clinton’s support for 50-state strategy the right move for any Democratic candidate.
Washington Post: Texas sheriff’s deputy ambushed in ‘execution-style killing’ at gas station.
LA Times: Manson family member Bruce Davis found eligible for parole.
LA Times: Bison attack: Man ‘played dead’ to escape after being gored.
From Vox, a very good long read: Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics.
The Independent: Study reveals that a lot of psychology research really is just ‘psycho-babble’ (um . . . not quite what the study says)
Washington Post: No, science’s reproducibility problem is not limited to psychology.
So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific weekend!
Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden
Posted: August 13, 2015 Filed under: Crime, Criminal Justice System, education, Media, misogyny, morning reads, Republican politics, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Politics | Tags: abortion, China, elementary school, GOP Clown Car, Hillary Clinton, homework study, Jimmy Carter, Julian Assange, Mike Huckabee, Planned Parenthood, play, Tianjin explosions, Wikileaks
Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer
The images in this post are from the blog, Reading and Art. I don’t have any central theme this morning, just a mixed bag of news stories. beginning with damaging explosions in Tianjin, China.
CNN reports, Tianjin blasts: Dozens dead; areas of Chinese port city devastated.
But what was it that set off the terrifying blasts that ripped through warehouses housing hazardous chemical materials, sending fireballs shooting across the sky and shaking tall buildings more than 2 miles away?
Hours later, amid the destruction in this northern Chinese port city of more than 13 million, the exact cause remained unclear.
A thick chemical odor hung in the air. Fires still burned in the waterfront industrial district where the explosions went off. And the grim toll kept mounting.
At least 44 people are confirmed dead, 12 firefighters among them, officials said Thursday. More than 500 are hospitalized, 52 with severe injuries. Dozens of firefighters are missing.
Local authorities suspended firefighting efforts Thursday because of a lack of information about the “dangerous goods” stored at the warehouse at the heart of the blasts, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
CNN has dramatic photos at the link. A few more stories on the disaster:
Vice News: Video Emerges of Horrific Tianjin Explosion as Death Toll Rises.
USA Today, 12 firefighters among 50 dead in Chinese port city explosions.
This is a developing story, and it sounds like the death toll is likely to rise.
Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer
You’ve probably heard by now that Jimmy Carter has cancer that has spread from his liver to other organs.
Washington Post, Former president Jimmy Carter, 90, announces that he has cancer.
Former president Jimmy Carter announced Wednesday that he has cancer and will be undergoing treatment at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.
Carter, 90, said the disease was discovered during recent liver surgery to remove “a small mass” and that the cancer “is now in other parts of my body.”
“I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter said in a statement on the Carter Center Web site. “A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”
In a statement, President Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama wished Carter “a full and fast recovery.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Rosalynn and the entire Carter family as they face this challenge with the same grace and determination that they have shown so many times before,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Jimmy, you’re as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you.”
The president also spoke with Carter on Wednesday evening to wish him “full and speedy recovery” and extended best wishes on behalf of himself and first lady Michelle Obama, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
According to NBC News, Carter said “a more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”
Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer
Sweden has dropped some of its charges against Julian Assange.
Wall Street Journal, Sweden Runs Out of Time on Parts of Assange Probe.
STOCKHOLM—Swedish prosecutors on Thursday ran out of time to pursue two of four investigations into allegations of sexual assault against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning.
Prosecutors said that probes into suspected unlawful coercion and sexual molestation would be dropped as the five-year limit that Swedish law allows for such charges to be brought has come to an end.
The five-year deadline for a second count of sexual molestation will be reached Aug. 18, prosecutors said. If the statute of limitation on that allegation also comes into effect, Mr. Assange would be left facing a single, more serious accusation of rape, over which prosecutors have until 2020 to question him….
Mr. Assange was accused of the crimes by two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. Prosecutors requested Mr. Assange return to Sweden from the U.K to face questioning.
The WikiLeaks founder, who denies the crimes, refused to return to Sweden, saying he feared he would extradited from Sweden to the U.S. where he could face trial over the publication by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents.
Assange says he is disappointed, according to BBC News.
The Wikileaks founder said he was “extremely disappointed” and said the Swedish prosecutor had avoided hearing his side of the story….
He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing he would then be sent to the US for questioning about the activities of Wikileaks.
Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.
Mr Assange said he was innocent and claimed prosecutors had refused to visit him at the embassy.
They also refused to promise not to send him to the US if he were to go to Sweden, he said.
Mr Assange said: “I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable.”
The new novel, by Winslow Homer
In clown car news, Mike Huckabee said some more insane things about Planned Parenthood and abortion.
Talking Points Memo, Huckabee: DOJ Should ‘Criminally Prosecute Planned Parenthood.’
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Wednesday laid out how he would tackle Planned Parenthood without the support of Congress if he were elected president.
When asked on about Iowa radio host Simon Conway about Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood after an anti-abortion group released numerous edited videos about the women’s health organization, Huckabee said he would use the Justice Department.
“I would have a Justice Department that would begin to criminally prosecute Planned Parenthood for violating federal law and selling body parts,” Huckabee told Conway….
“I would also invoke the 15th and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said on Wednesday. “This is the power that we have to stop this incredible, barbaric scourge of abortion. Not just stop funding Planned Parenthood, but we need to invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment. The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process for every person. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for every person.”
Huckabee said that he believes that unborn children are people, guaranteeing them Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.
“I would take that position. I would act on behalf of those unborn children, and I would let those who want to slaughter babies, those who want to sell their body parts, let them sue me,” he said.
In response, Melissa McEwan writes:
Again, this is less like chipping away at Roe and more like taking a bulldozer to it.
I have said many times (for instance) that fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them, that the potential life of every fetus is more important than the actual life of a pregnant person. Never has this been more clear.
If Mike Huckabee, or any of his fellow Republican candidates, had their way, fetuses would have not equivalent rights, but more rights than any pregnant person.
Protip, Huckabee: “Slaughtering babies” is already against the law.
The country school, by Winslow Homer
CNN reports on a study showing that kids in elementary school are getting crushing amounts of homework.
Kids have three times too much homework, study finds; what’s the cost?
The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.
The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the so-called “10-minute rule” — 10 minutes per grade level per night. That translates into 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. The NEA and the National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten….
Parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes. For second-graders, the homework time was nearly 29 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes recommended.
And kindergartners, their parents said, spent 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments, according to the study carried out by researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children’s National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.
That is ridiculous and harmful. Children at younger ages learn far more from play and interacting with other kids than from regimented school assignments.
“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.
“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like. I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”
The Pope is coming to the U.S., and one of his stops will be at a jail in Philadelphia.
Reuters: At drab Philadelphia jail, anxious times precede papal visit.
One of 17 stops on the pope’s first U.S. tour, the visit to the inner-city jail is a reminder of the emphasis the Argentine pontiff has placed on social justice issues since being named head of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013.
The pope’s stop at the Philadelphia facility will be the latest in a series of prison visits by Francis, an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and lengthy prison terms. He has counseled teenagers in juvenile detention in Brazil. In Bolivia, he kissed inmates in the country’s most violent prison.
His visit also comes at a time when a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are questioning tough criminal sentencing policies that have left the United States with the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. Barack Obama, who last month became the first sitting U.S. president to tour a federal penitentiary, has called for legislation overhauling sentencing rules.
Advocates for prisoner rights say they are pleased the pope has decided to put the issue on his agenda during the U.S. tour, which will include attending a conference on family life in Philadelphia, plus stops in Washington and New York.
Morning glories, by Winslow Homer
I was going to write about Hillary and the media’s obsession with her emails, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, here’s an inspirational piece from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at #HillaryMen.
Hillary’s Path to History Will Get Much Rougher and She’s Ready.
There is a manic urge among the media, the GOP and the elite commentariat to Stop Hillary – to block a woman from reaching the pinnacle of American political leadership.
Each poll, news story or issue that appears to harm her is seized upon with a strange combination of desperation and glee. It’s an unsavory process but Hillary knew what she was in for when she decided to seek the presidency a second time.
As #HillaryMen, we’re undaunted by the negative stories, unwavering in our support for Hillary and unyielding in our commitment to help smash the ultimate gender barrier.
Ending a 44-0 shutout that has lasted nearly a quarter millennium was never going to be easy. There is no cakewalk to the White House. And certainly not for a woman.
We’ve worked in politics and media for nearly two decades. Peter is a veteran of two presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s 2008 run. We’ve seen every permutation of every attack, every rise and fall in the polls, every gaffe and every zinger, every debate moment and debate aftermath, every nervous election night and every election surprise.
We know what lies ahead for Hillary’s campaign and we realize there will be times when the obstacles seem insurmountable. They are not.
For all practical purposes, the 2016 race is just getting underway. As the first summer of the campaign winds down, the rhetoric heats up and political prognostications start climbing in pitch. The fall frenzy begins in a matter of weeks.
I plan to head over to #HillaryMen every time I get angry and/or anxious about something written or said about her in the media. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to “The Facts about Hillary Clinton’s Emails” at her campaign website.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and enjoy your Thursday.
Posted: August 11, 2015 Filed under: Criminal Justice System, Democratic Politics, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: #BlackLivesMatter, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Obamabots, Racism
There has been quite a bit of discussion the past couple of days about the protesters who have been disrupting speeches by Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Why aren’t they doing this to Republicans? Why are they being so rude to Bernie Sanders, who many years ago marched for civil rights? There are people responding to these questions. Will the white people doing the questioning listen to the answers?
Here’s one response from Jamil Smith at The New Republic: #BlackLivesMatter Protesters Are Not the Problem. One year after Michael Brown’s death, both liberals and conservatives are still getting it wrong.
The activist group #BlackLivesMatter emerged out of the rage and mourning that accompanied George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin more than three years ago. However, the first time that the hashtag—and its accompanying message—entered the American lexicon to stay was one year ago this past Sunday, when Michael Brown, another unarmed black teenager, was gunned down by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, less than one month after an NYPD chokehold took Eric Garner’s life. On Sunday night, Ferguson reverted to its younger, violent self again, complete with a commemorative protest on West Florissant Avenue being met with police and things turning tragically violent in short order. And two days before the anniversary of Brown’s death, Christian Taylor became the 24th unarmed black man killed by police in 2015.
We might not have heard about Taylor in previous years because attention on black men, women, and children suffering violence and death at the hands of police, in particular, is now at a level unseen perhaps since the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo. That’s backed up by a new Gallup pollindicating that Americans describing themselves as “satisfied with the way blacks are treated in U.S. society” is lower than it’s been since before the turn of the millennium. Ever since Ferguson, it’s evident that #BlackLivesMatter, in many respects, has worked.
In the last year, #BlackLivesMatter has—much like Occupy years beforehand—fundamentally changed the national conversation about a major societal ill. The movement has made millions of people aware of the white supremacy they either perpetuate themselves or support with their silence. With the emergence of the 2016 presidential campaign, #BlackLivesMatter’s demands have become more acutely focused on the candidates, pushing for policy platforms that address structural racism. Yet, as we mark one year since Brown’s death, we’ve seen both liberals and conservatives—from Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters to Dr. Ben Carson’s—painting #BlackLivesMatter as a divisive force in U.S. racial relations. That someone might consider those fighting racism to be more divisive than racist people or structures would be laughable if black men in America weren’t seven times more likely to die by cop than white men.
Yes, supporters of Bernie Sanders are upset that his events have been disrupted by black women protesting the killing of black men and women by police officers. Supposedly Sanders wants radical changes in the system, buit what are his proposals for changing structural racism in law enforcement?
More from Jamil Smith:
Sanders, given to touting his record of working for civil rights and uttering names like Sandra Bland since the Netroots incident, experienced a second interruption during a planned event in Seattle on Saturday. Two women and one man claiming affiliation with #BlackLivesMatter disrupted the event before the Vermont senator could speak. Some Sanders backers in the crowd booed when they were told that one of the women, Marissa Johnson, would get her say before the candidate. “Bernie, you were confronted at Netroots at by black women,” Johnson said before adding, “you have yet to put out a criminal justice reform package like O’Malley did.”
Having already responded to the crowd’s boos by telling them that they proved how “racist” the reputably liberal Seattle is, Johnson also called for a four-and-one-half minute-long moment of silence for Brown. Instead, more shouting from the crowd followed, including, per reports, shouts of “arrest her.” Sanders, rather than letting the protesters have their say and responding, left the stage. The event concluded without him speaking. A chorus of his supporters took to social media to question Johnson’s tactics—as if that’s what mattered most—and to tell anyone who dared question why Sanders didn’t have a set of racial-justice proposals that they somehow already existed. They were wrong.
A page entitled “Racial Justice” only appeared on his site early Sunday morning, containing a long list of proposals. A campaign representative reached out to me to say that those proposals, in the works for the three weeks since Netroots, were derived from a speech that’s been on the site since July 25. Given the pressure being put on them and the urgency they showed in creating the platform, it’s odd that the campaign put it online, essentially, under the cover of darkness.
The policies on Sanders’s racial justice page, while surely more welcome than none at all, are undeniably blurrier than those O’Malley put forth, and need considerably more specificity and clarity. There’s a lot of the typically forcefully liberal language Sanders likes to employ in order to inspire, but it seems even more fanciful than the O’Malley plan. But those ideas are certainly signs that he is hearing #BlackLivesMatter’s message. The problem isn’t so much him as it is his supporters, cursing protesters and later, on social media, touting their guy’s record whenever they are challenged on his (heretofore) lack of a platform regarding structural racism.
Please go read the whole article if you want to understand the anger of the #BlackLivesMatter protesters. Personally, I didn’t know that the movement began long before the killing of Michael Brown. Here’s some background from one of the founders in a piece at The Feminist Wire dated October 7, 2014: A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza.
I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.
Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
We were humbled when cultural workers, artists, designers and techies offered their labor and love to expand #BlackLivesMatter beyond a social media hashtag. Opal, Patrisse, and I created the infrastructure for this movement project—moving the hashtag from social media to the streets. Our team grew through a very successful Black Lives Matter ride, led and designed by Patrisse Cullors and Darnell L. Moore, organized to support the movement that is growing in St. Louis, MO, after 18-year old Mike Brown was killed at the hands of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. We’ve hosted national conference calls focused on issues of critical importance to Black people working hard for the liberation of our people. We’ve connected people across the country working to end the various forms of injustice impacting our people. We’ve created space for the celebration and humanization of Black lives.
As their slogan spread to the mainstream, the creaters of the #BlackLivesMatter movement saw others trying to change the meaning of their words:
The Theft of Black Queer Women’s Work
Suddenly, we began to come across varied adaptations of our work–all lives matter, brown lives matter, migrant lives matter, women’s lives matter, and on and on. While imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, I was surprised when an organization called to ask if they could use “Black Lives Matter” in one of their campaigns. We agreed to it, with the caveat that a) as a team, we preferred that we not use the meme to celebrate the imprisonment of any individual and b) that it was important to us they acknowledged the genesis of #BlackLivesMatter. I was surprised when they did exactly the opposite and then justified their actions by saying they hadn’t used the “exact” slogan and, therefore, they deemed it okay to take our work, use it as their own, fail to credit where it came from, and then use it to applaud incarceration.
I was surprised when a community institution wrote asking us to provide materials and action steps for an art show they were curating, entitled “Our Lives Matter.” When questioned about who was involved and why they felt the need to change the very specific call and demand around Black lives to “our lives,” I was told the artists decided it needed to be more inclusive of all people of color. I was even more surprised when, in the promotion of their event, one of the artists conducted an interview that completely erased the origins of their work–rooted in the labor and love of queer Black women.
Read more at the link.
Has Bernie Sanders responded to the prosecution of African American journalist Wesley Lowery yet? From yesterday’s Washington Post:
A Washington Post reporter who was arrested at a restaurant last year while reporting on protests in Ferguson, Mo., has been charged in St. Louis County with trespassing and interfering with a police officer and ordered to appear in court.
Wesley Lowery, a reporter on The Post’s national desk, was detained in a McDonald’s while he was in Missouri covering demonstrations sparked by a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old.
A court summons dated Aug. 6 — just under a year after Lowery’s arrest — was sent to Lowery, 25, ordering him to appear in a St. Louis County municipal court on Aug. 24. The summons notes that he could be arrested if he does not appear.
“Charging a reporter with trespassing and interfering with a police officer when he was just doing his job is outrageous,” Martin Baron, executive editor of The Post, said in a statement Monday. “You’d have thought law enforcement authorities would have come to their senses about this incident. Wes Lowery should never have been arrested in the first place. That was an abuse of police authority.
“This latest action represents contemptible overreaching by prosecutors who seem to have no regard for the role of journalists seeking to cover a major story and following normal practice,” Baron continued.
It seems the powers that be in Ferguson have learned very little. Democratic candidates should address this issue and so should Bernie Sanders, independent socialist.
I’ll end with this post by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville: Sanders and #BlackLivesMatter, Again.
I can understand why Sanders was aggravated that his event was disrupted, and I can understand why people who had been waiting for an hour and a half to hear him speak were aggravated that his event was disrupted. But here’s the thing: If you are positioning yourself as a candidate who advocates for radical change, or you are supporting a candidate on the basis that he advocates for radical change, then surely you should be able to get on board with providing space to people who are involved with a campaign that advocates radical change.
If disrupting a rally is too radical for you, I don’t know how you expect to disrupt systems of institutional oppression, which will take way the hell more than an unexpected change in a campaign event schedule.
Don’t pretend you’re supporting revolution when you’re really just supporting a change in management.
Sanders then released a “Statement on Seattle Protesters,” reading in total: “I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.”
I’m going to go ahead and say: Maybe that’s true! Maybe there really is no other candidate currently running for president who will fight harder for dismantling racism than Bernie Sanders! Maybe it’s also true that each of the candidates currently running will take different approaches, and, because the activists involved with #BlackLivesMatter aren’t a monolith, there will be disagreement on whose approach is best. And maybe, no matter how good any of the white Democratic presidential candidates are on racial issues, it won’t be good enough. Maybe the inescapable fact is that white people must let black people speak on the large platforms created by and for white candidates.
Again, please go read the whole thing, especially if you are supporting Sanders. Personally, I support Hillary Clinton. I like Bernie, but I think it’s time for a woman President of the U.S. Sanders has no chance to win the Democratic nomination–he’s not even a Democrat! But he isn’t the problem. The problem is his supporters, who remind me of the Obamabots of 2008. Let Bernie handle this situation. My guess is he’ll respond to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, because he’s an intelligent man. He’ll probably get it right in the long run. I think Hillary Clinton will too.
This is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments to this post, and have a great day.
Posted: July 27, 2015 Filed under: Crime, Criminal Justice System, Media, morning reads, The Media SUCKS, Violence against women, War on Women | Tags: Amy Schumer, Bill Cosby, Camille Cosby, Heather, John Russell Houser, misogyny, Neil Falls, New York Magazine, Sandra Bland, Trainwreck
New York Magazine’s latest cover features 35 women who say they were drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. At the moment the link to the “13-page photo essay” is unavailable–apparently the site has crashed.
From The Guardian: Bill Cosby accusers detail trauma and betrayal in magazine.
Thirty-five women who have accused Bill Cosby of raping them have spoken out in an explosive photo essay for New York magazine. More than 40 women have so far accused the comedian of sexual assault, but the cover story represents a sea change in how the comedian’s alleged victims have been publicly perceived.
On Sunday, the magazine published excerpts of interviews with each woman for a 13-page photo essay, covering accusations they have made against the comedian and the backlash they have faced.
“Listen, he was America’s favorite dad,” saidBarbara Bowman, who says she was raped as a 17-year-old actress. She made her case public in 2004, when testifying on behalf of Andrea Constand, who said she was also one of Cosby’s victims.
“I went into this thinking he was going to be my dad,” Bowman told the magazine. “To wake up half-dressed and raped by the man that said he was going to love me like a father? That’s pretty sick.
“It was hard for America to digest when this came out. And a lot of backlash and a lot denial and a lot of anger.”
Inside Higher Ed reports: Spelman Discontinues Cosby Professorship.
Spelman College announced Friday that it is discontinuing an endowed professorship named for Bill Cosby and his wife. “The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship at Spelman College has been discontinued and related funds have been returned to the Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation,” said a statement from the college. A spokeswoman declined to comment further. Bill and Camille Cosby are major donors to Spelman and an academic building is named for Camille Cosby. The Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation was created by Bill Cosby to provide grants to historically black colleges.
The hardest thing for many people to understand about this is the way Camille Cosby has stood by her husband through the many years it has taken for this entire ugly business to play out. Was she simply in denial? Was she reluctant to give up the money and fame that came with being the wife of a powerful man? We may never know, but she was apparently an active force in her husband’s defense.
Bill and Camille Cosby
From the July 12 New York Post: Bill Cosby’s wife says accusers ‘consented’ to drugs and sex.
Bill Cosby’s wife knows her husband is a serial philanderer, but believes his scores of accusers consented to drugs and sex, two confidants of the couple say.
Last week’s revelation that Cosby admitted during a deposition that he intended to ply women with Quaaludes before bedding them barely fazed Camille Cosby, the insiders told The Post.
“Camille still doesn’t believe that Bill provided drugs and had sex with women without their consent,” said a source employed by the Cosby family. “She’s well aware of his cheating, but she doesn’t believe that her husband is a rapist.”
Mrs. Cosby is “a proud, dignified but stubborn woman. You can say that she’s standing by her husband, but really, the more people stand against him, the more she perceives it as an affront to her and all that she’s done to make him a star,” said another source who’s done business with the Cosbys and remains close to them.
Camille Cosby, 71, who is also her 78-year-old husband’s business manager, demanded last week at a crisis meeting with advisers that their lawyers and p.r. specialists “get back out in front of this,” the business source said.
“I created him, I knew what I was getting and we’ll fix this,” she told the gathering at a meeting at the couple’s Shelburne Falls, Mass., home Tuesday night.
There’s more disgusting stuff at the link. According to the Post’s sources, Camille was also angered that longtime Cosby defenders have been changing their positions in light of recent revelations.
At Refinery 29, Kelsey Miller argues that women like Dottie Sandusky (wife of convicted child rapist Jerry Sandusky) and Camille Cosby can be simultaneoursly enablers and victims.
The Complicated Case Of Camille Cosby.
It is easy and tempting to make assumptions about Camille Cosby. “That poor woman,” some say. “That idiot,” say others. And, to some, she is “that monster.” Pity or vilification are the textbook responses to spouses in these cases. Watching and waiting for Camille’s next move, I’m reminded of last year’s TODAYinterview with Dottie Sandusky (wife of Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who in 2012 was found guilty of sexually abusing 10 boys)….
Last week, The New York Post shared a widely reported story that Camille (also her husband’s business manager) had held a crisis meeting with Bill’s team to discuss damage control. “I created him. I knew what I was getting, and we’ll fix this,” she was quoted by a source as having said. It was also alleged that she referred to the “infidelities” as an embarrassment she’d long since reconciled herself with, and emphasized them as just that — affairs, and not assaults.
Of course, reports like this should be taken with a hefty handful of salt, but it’s worth noting that Camille’s supposed remarks are certainly in keeping with Cosby’s own in the deposition. Both reveal the kind of psychological gymnastics that allow someone to leap over the evidence at hand — to find acceptable, ordinary dalliances where many would see something much more sinister….
To believe that Camille Cosby is an evil, calculating accomplice to the crimes her husband’s been accused of would be to ignore the possibility that she’s just another victim of those same alleged crimes.
Conversely, to believe that Dottie Sandusky is merely a naive grandma would be to ignore the magnificent power of deliberate denial. We know nothing of the internal lives of these women, nor can we speak to the dynamic of their marriages. Is it likely they knew of their husbands’ actions? Certainly. It is just as likely that they were subject to manipulation and abuse themselves.
The point being: One does not cancel out the other. It’s a cognitive dissonance that neither mainstream media nor its consumers can seem to resolve. We want clear answers and archetypes, and instead we’re stuck with real people, none of whom are entirely good or entirely monstrous.
I suppose Miller has a point, but it’s difficult for me to have much sympathy with either of these enabling wives. Each of these women appear to have actively covered up their husbands’ criminal behavior and allowed these men to damage the lives of so many young men and women.
Also in the news . . .
CBS Local 11: History Of Racial Tension Where Bland Died.
Waller County was named for Edwin Waller, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836, who four years later became the first elected mayor of Austin. Whites make up 44 percent of the 47,000 residents, Hispanics 29 percent and blacks 25 percent.
First settled in the early 1820s, the area became home to slave-labor cotton plantations. Hempstead was incorporated in 1858 thanks to a railroad terminus.
The plantations were dismantled with the end of the Civil War in 1865. Three years later, historical records report a race riot, followed by unrest in the 1880s, when a White Man’s Party was established to blunt active black political participation in the county where blacks outnumbered whites.
That’s when violence blamed on the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist groups gave it the “Six Shooter” sobriquet.
More recently, voter intimidation and voting-rights complaints have arisen from students at Prairie View A&M University, a college established in 1876 specifically to train black teachers.
The complaints led to a federal lawsuit. The district attorney at the time, in 2004, reached a settlement and apologized. But the issue resurfaced only two years later and again in 2008, when additional early voting sites in the county were established only after federal pressure.
“There’s a lot of prejudice going on,” said Eugene Hood, citing a history of police harassment as he cut hair at Chad’s Barber Shop on University Drive, just south of where Bland was arrested outside the main entrance to the university.
Marie Armstrong of Dallas, a Prairie View senior, remembers being pulled over and ticketed for a broken brake light and being forced to go court. She wished police would exercise some judgment.
More at the link.
A courageous woman who killed a man who was beating and trying to strangle her may have rid the world of a dangerous serial killer. David Lohr at Huffington Post: Neal Falls, Man Killed By Escort, Had Cache Of Weapons And List Of Prostitutes, Police Say.
Neal Falls, the man shot to death by a prostitute after he attacked her on Saturday, had a cache of weapons and a list of online escorts inside his vehicle, police said Wednesday.
The items, as well as statements the woman said Falls made to her, led police to suspect he may have been involved in other unsolved crimes.
“He had a machete, shovel, two axes, a bunch of knives, a double-headed ax, a bulletproof vest, numerous sets of handcuffs, as well as the firearm used to kill him,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post.
Police also found a list containing the names of an unspecified number of women inside the man’s vehicle.
Photo of Neil Falls surrounded by photos of the “murder kit” police found in his car. (Source: Huffington Post)
More details from a previous report by Lohr:
The man…was shot and killed in Charleston, West Virginia, on Saturday, according to WCHS-TV. The incident reportedly occurred after he met a female escort through Backpage.com, an online classified ad portal that is often used by men seeking prostitutes.
“The details that we’re able to release right now are that there was a struggle … that the man had beaten and strangled the woman and gotten her onto the ground, laid the gun down as he was dragging her back through the house, and she was able to pick the gun up and fire over her shoulder blindly, and the bullet did strike the man, killing him,” Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper told the Charleston Gazette on Saturday.
Police in nearby Chillicothe, OH, are looking into the possibility that Falls could be responsible for the disappearances of 6 Ohio women.
“We are in communication with Charleston regarding that situation,” Bud Lytle, a spokesman and crime prevention officer for the Chillicothe Police Department, told The Huffington Post. “Obviously, it’s not a great distance from us and it involved a prostitute and an individual known to pick up prostitutes.”
Falls, who was originally from Oregon, is also be investigated by authorities in Nevada, according to Lohr: Neal Falls Investigation Expands To Las Vegas-Area Dismemberments: EXCLUSIVE
“We received information that caused a conversation to take place between us and law enforcement in Henderson, Nevada,” Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police department, told The Huffington Post on Thursday.
Cooper said he couldn’t discuss specific cases Nevada authorities are now looking into because the investigation “is ongoing and we don’t want to risk comprising [sic] it.”
The FBI also is investigating, a law enforcement source told The Huffington Post on Friday. A spokesman didn’t immediately answer a request for comment.
CBS News: Woman who killed alleged serial killer recounts final fight.
Falls was answering an online ad for an escort, police said, when he showed up to a Charleston, West Virginia, home.
The woman, who wants only to be known as “Heather,” answered the door.
She said Falls, armed with a gun, asked her: “live or die?” Then he started choking her.
“When he strangled me, I grabbed my rake, and when he laid the gun down to get the rake out of my hands, I shot him,” Heather said. “I grabbed the gun and shot behind me.”
Heather ran out of the house and flagged down a neighbor, who called 911. The neighbor said she “had to defend herself,” and she had “cuts and stuff all over her.” ….
Police are not charging Heather for the shooting, which they say was in self-defense. “I knew he was there to kill me,” Heather said.
See a video of Heather describing her ordeal at WCHS ABC Local 8.
This turned into a post about crime, but–as I have written previously–for me rape and sexual assault are political issues. Crimes against women and children are often ignored and covered up in our society, with the media as enabler.
Movie shooter John Russell Houser
Just take a look at Dakinikat’s post from yesterday. She points out that the media are largely ignoring the fact that Louisiana mass shooter John Russell Houser specifically targeted women who were watching a movie created by a feminist.
So, let me address the mainstream media and police confusion about Houser’s “choices” of victim. These are the same groups of people that rarely address the daily violence against and murder of women by the men in their lives. This is from a blog that tracks and monitors male misogyny called “We Hunted the Mammoth”. The author is David Futrelle.
Police in Lafayette, Louisiana are evidently struggling to understand why the outspokenly misogynistic, racist and anti-Semitic John Russell “Rusty” Houser murdered two women and wounded 9 other moviegoers at a showing of “Trainwreck,” a film written by and starring Amy Schumer, a feminist comedian with a Jewish father, known for joking frankly about sex.
Please check out Dak’s post if you haven’t read it yet.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Monday.
Posted: July 4, 2015 Filed under: Crime, Criminal Justice System, Democratic Politics, morning reads, U.S. Politics
Good Morning and Happy 4th of July!!
The media is continuing to breathlessly report that 73-year-old registered Independent Bernie Sanders is threatening Hillary Clinton’s chances for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Can you get the Democratic nomination if you are not registered as a Democrat? Earth to media: it’s not even 2016 yet–not even close. Sigh . . .
CNN: Sanders snags key endorsement in New Hampshire. Wow! Some woman with a strange name that no one has ever heard of before is rooting for Sanders. Bernie-Mentum!!!
Longtime New Hampshire Democratic activist Dudley Dudley told CNN Friday that she has decided to endorse Bernie Sanders for the Democratic 2016 nomination. Her decision comes less than two months after she hosted O’Malley at both her Durham, New Hampshire homes.
Since then, according to a recent CNN/WMUR New Hampshire primary poll, frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s lead over Sanders has shrunk from 38 percentage points to 8, with O’Malley trailing both. Likely Democratic primary voters are now more apt to see Sanders as the candidate who “best represents the values of Democrats like yourself,” the poll found.
Sanders recently finished a two-day swing through the state that saw 500-person crowds and high attendance at more intimate house parties.
Dudley told CNN she was won over by Sanders focus on money in politics, but was particularly impressed by his style of delivering his message.
How nice for Bernie and Dudley Dudley. Meanwhile Hillary “the fighter” Clinton is defending her liberal record, according to Politico.
Hillary Clinton: ‘I take a backseat to no one’ on liberal record.
Hanover, N.H. — Hillary Clinton arrived in this liberal New England enclave with a message for anyone thinking about voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders of next-door Vermont: “I take a backseat to no one when you look at my record in standing up and fighting for progressive values.” ….
“We have to take on the gun lobby one more time,” said Clinton, speaking without notes or a teleprompter in front of a crowd of about 850 Dartmouth students and native Granite Staters. “The majority of gun owners support universal background checks, and we have to work very hard to muster the public opinion to convince Congress that’s what they should vote for.”
She said it was the “height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.” Sanders, who represents a pro-gun constituency, has voted against the Brady Bill, which required federal background checks for gun purchasers, as well as other major bills supported by gun-control advocates.
She also signaled that she would have no problem defending President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda.
“If the country elects a Republican president, then they will repeal the Affordable Care Act,” she warned. “Let’s elect a Democratic president who is committed to quality affordable health care.”
She praised Obama’s moves to help the country recover from the economic crisis and said Republicans who say the recovery is too slow “just don’t know the theory of original sin,” blaming “the kind of poor management and bad economic policies that put us into the ditch in the first place.”
Go to the link to read some ignorant negative comments about Hillary that CNN was able to dig up.
If I sound irritable, it’s because I am. I read JJ’s Friday night post before I started this one and got really angry about the woman who was denied life-saving care at a Catholic hospital. That and the constant burning and itching that is still spreading all over my body are making me so agitated that I’d like to find the nearest low-information voter and strangle him or her.
ABC News on Hillary: Hillary Clinton Not Fazed by Bernie Sanders’ Crowds.
During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday, the Democratic presidential front-runner responded to a question from a reporter about the massive crowds her challenger, Vermont Sen.Bernie Sanders, has seen at his own campaign events this week.
“We each run our own campaigns and I always knew this was going to be competitive,” Clinton said at Dairy Twirl ice cream shop in Lebanon, New Hampshire, when asked about the growing support behind Sanders and how he’s seeing crowds even bigger than she is.
“I want to have a great debate in the primary and caucus around the country and that is what I am looking forward to,” she added.
Not that anyone in the not-so-liberal media will take her words at face value. They will continue to insist that she is in danger of losing to someone who isn’t a Democrat and that she’s worried sick about it.
George Talei had the temerity to speak the truth about Clarence Thomas a couple of days ago, and now he has been pressured into apologizing.
Huffington Post: George Takei Calls Justice Clarence Thomas A ‘Clown In Blackface’ Over Marriage Equality Dissent.
George Takei has come under fire this week for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in blackface” over the judge’s stance on marriage equality. However, the “Star Trek” actor insists that his comment was not racially motivated.
During an interview with Fox 10 Phoenix, Takei, who is gay, discussed the Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Takei said he was “angry” at Thomas, who dissented to the decision, for his position on the issue.
“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court,” said Takei. “He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there.”
What did Thomas say that made Takei so angry? Some pretty awful stuff.
In his dissent, Thomas, who is black, wrote that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government,” adding: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”
Takei, whose family was held inside a Japanese internment camp during World War II, took issue with this logic.
“For him to say slaves have dignity, I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back?” Takei said. “My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified?… This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”
I think Takei was absolutely right about Thomas. But the pressure was too much for him, I guess.
CNN reports: George Takei walks back ‘blackface’ remark about Clarence Thomas.
Takei said on Friday that his words “were not carefully considered.”
“When asked by a reporter about the opinion, I was still seething, and I referred to him as a ‘clown in blackface’ to suggest that he had abdicated and abandoned his heritage,” Takei said in a Facebook post. “This was not intended to be racist, but rather to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts. While I continue to disagree with Justice Thomas, the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered.”
The full apology is on Takei’s Facebook page.
A few follow-ups to previous big stories:
WBAL TV11: Sign inside Baltimore police van under investigation. Sign posted inside van: ‘Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!’
The Baltimore City Police Department has launched an internal investigation after a WBAL-TV 11 News viewer shared four photographs of a sign inside a city police wagon.
The photos show the doors of the parked police van left open. On the inside of the back door is a sign, attached or possibly stenciled on, that reads: “Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!”
The pictures were taken Tuesday near the Central District Police Station on Baltimore Street.
The sign’s placement makes it clear that this is a message for people who are arrested to see after they’re put in the back of the van and the doors are shut.
Police Department officials told 11 News the photos are real and they triggered an internal investigation.
Nice, after the BPD killed Freddie Gray with a rough ride in a police van.
Now deceased prison escapee Richard Matt sent a letter to his daughter before he and David Sweat broke out of a “maximum security” prison in Dannamora, NY.
From the Buffalo News: ‘See you on the outside,’ Matt said in letter delivered to daughter in Buffalo suburb.
“I always promised you I would see you on the outside. I’m a man of my word,” a portion of the letter stated, according to information obtained by The Buffalo News from law enforcement officials.
The letter was postmarked prior to the June 6 escape and arrived June 9.
Matt had maintained a correspondence with his daughter while serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life for murder, acquaintances of the daughter confirmed.
But authorities say the daughter had no idea in advance that her father was planning an escape from Clinton Correctional Facility. Once he and David P. Sweat broke out, she fully cooperated with investigators. In fact, she requested round-the-clock protection, fearing that Matt would attempt to see her while he was on the run. That never happened.
The State.com: EXCLUSIVE: Charges possible against church shooter’s associates.
COLUMBIA, SC. A joint state and federal investigation into the activities of accused Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof has widened to include other persons of interest, according to multiple sources familiar with the ongoing investigation.
The expanded scope of the investigation now includes people with whom Roof associated in the weeks before the June 17 shootings of nine African-Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the sources said. Roof, 21, of Columbia, is white.
Although it appears Roof traveled alone to and from Charleston on the day of the killings, it is possible others had some knowledge of what he planned to carry out, said the sources, who are not being identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
Investigators began to explore how much Roof’s associates knew, and when they knew it, after reviewing his cellphone and computer records, the sources said.
Prosecutors are still studying exactly what charges, if any, some of those associates might face, the sources said.
The New York Times Friday, citing sources with knowledge of the investigation, also said federal and state authorities have found Roof had been in contact with white supremacists online, though it does not appear they encouraged him to carry out the massacre.
More details at the link.
Do you have blue eyes?
If so, you might find this story from Pioneer News interesting and/or alarming: New Study Suggests Potential Link Between Alcoholism and Eye Color.
Alcoholism is a major problem in the United States. Previous studies have identified that genetics may play a factor in dependency but a new study suggests that blue eyes might also encourage the eventual development of alcoholism.
Study co-author Dawei Li is an assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. He says, “These are complex disorders. There are many genes, and there are many environmental triggers.”
Additionally, lead study co-author Aris Sulovari is a doctoral student in cellular, molecular, and biological sciences at the university. He adds, “This suggests an intriguing possibility – that eye color can be useful in the clinic for alcohol dependence diagnosis.”
The researchers looked at data from 10,000 people—mostly those of African or European America descent—who had been diagnosed with more than one psychiatric disorder which might include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, in addition to alcohol or drug dependence.
So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a fabulous holiday weekend.
Posted: June 18, 2015 Filed under: Crime, Criminal Justice System, morning reads | Tags: Charleston SC mass shooting, Cincinnati, domestic terrorism, hate crimes, Racism
Split Sadness, Nicki Sands
A Sorrowful Good Morning.
The top story this morning is the shocking mass murder of 9 people in a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday. Authorities are calling it a hate crime. The shooter has not yet been caught, but surveillance photos of him and his care have been released.
Reuters reports: Manhunt follows attack on historic black South Carolina church.
Police in Charleston, South Carolina, were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city’s mayor described as a hate crime.
The shooter, a 21-year-old white man with sandy blond hair, sat with churchgoers inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for about an hour on Wednesday before opening fire, Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.
The victims included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a Democratic member of the state Senate, his cousin and fellow state senator, Kent Williams, told CNN.
The gunman is extremely dangerous, Mullen said, and police did not have a sense of where he might be.
“This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporters.
Six females and three males died in the attack, Mullen said.
AP photo: Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.
More from The Washington Post: 9 dead in ‘hate crime’ shooting at historic African American church in Charleston.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Police widened the search Thursday for a gunman who opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer service at a historic African American church in downtown Charleston, in one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the United States in recent memory.
At least one other person was injured in the Wednesday night assault, which began about an hour after the assailant entered the church and observed the service, authorities said.
“We believe this is a hate crime; that is how we are investigating it,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said at a dawn news conference.
What a horrible crime. I hope they catch this dangerous young man soon.
Officers in fatigues, some with dogs, said they were searching “near and far” for the gunman, described as a clean-shaven white male in his early 20s with sandy blond hair and a slight build. Police said he was wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. He is believed to be the only shooter.
At a nearby Embassy Suites, which was serving as an informal headquarters for church members, people began sobbing and screaming as they learned details about what had happened.
“We just left speaking to members of the families,” Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley (D) told reporters overnight. “It was a heartbreaking scene I have never witnessed in my life before.” ….
Though authorities did not release the names of the victims, the church’s pastor, Clementa Pinckney, who is also a South Carolina state senator, was missing after the shooting, and some members of the congregation feared the worst. Indeed, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said Pinckney was among the dead, and friends started posting “RIP” condolences on social media.
Suspect police are searching for in connection with the shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Charleston Police Department
From ABC News: Police Release Photos of Charleston, South Carolina, Church Shooting Suspect.
The suspect was described as approximately 5-foot-9, wearing a sweatshirt with distinctive markings and Timberland boots, police said. Joining the search were the FBI and state law enforcement.
Police also said the car he was driving had a “very distinctive” license plate. Officials would not elaborate on the make and model of the car.
“This is an all-hands-on deck effort with the community and law enforcement,” Mullen said.
Police said they had set up a tip line — 1-800-CALL-FBI — advised the public to be alert and said to call 911 and not approach.
How many more of these mass shootings do we need to have before we do something to control access to guns in this country? This time it’s a hate crime too. If this isn’t terrorism, what is?
Rev. Clementa Pinckney
According to The Chicago Tribune, Rev. Clementa Pinckney had sponsored a bill to have police officers wear body cameras.
Pinckney 41, was a married father of two who was elected to the state House at age 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.
“He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should,” Rutherford, D-Columbia, said. “He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody.”
The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area. The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras. Pinckney was a major sponsor of that bill.
I’m feeling incredibly sad. I don’t know what else to say.
And now this from Raw Story: Shooter opens fire on church in Memphis hours after terrorist kills nine in Charleston.
During choir practice in Memphis, a gunman opened fire. A bullet remains lodged in the wall of the church, CBS reports.
As of press time, police are at the St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church on Pendleton Street making inquiries and collecting information. WREG reports officers were called to the scene at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday.
No one was injured during the shooting.
News of the Memphis shooting spread quickly on social media this morning, in a country grappling with this Wednesday’s shooting by a white man in Charleston, South Carolina whoopened fire in a black church and killed nine people.
Read some of the tweets at the link. And please be careful in Memphis, JJ.
I’m going to give you the rest of the news in a link dump. I have to rush around today, because I’m getting ready to leave for Indiana tomorrow to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. Her birthday was June 10, but we’re having a big party on the 27th. I have to get out there early to help get things organized.
Hollywood Reporter: Donald Trump Campaign Offered Actors $50 to Cheer for Him at Presidential Announcement.
The New York Daily News: Five-decade study links pesticide DDT to breast cancer.
The Washington Post: The $10 bill will soon feature a woman. But the debate is only beginning.
A racial incident involving police and black teenagers in Cincinnati: What really happened at Fairfield pool?
The New York Times: Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change.
The Guardian: Pope’s climate change encyclical tells rich nations: pay your debt to the poor.
The New Republic: The Last Time Conservatives Dismissed a Major Encyclical, It Ended Terribly for Them.
Salon: Fox News as we know it may be screwed: Roger Ailes’ stunning rebuke could spell the end. With Rupert Murdoch stepping aside, Roger Ailes will now report to Murdoch’s Fox-hating sons.
New York Magazine: Roger Ailes’s Demotion Signals Power Shift Within Murdoch Empire.
CNN: Brian Williams expected to stay at NBC (but he won’t be a news anchor).
WPTZ Channel 5: No evidence escaped prisoners have left area, police say. 600 officers still searching for David Sweat, Richard Matt.
The Washington Post: Why Roger Goodell might be in tough spot on Tom Brady suspension.
CBS News: American Enterprise Institute finds Wells Report ‘deeply flawed.’ They found no evidence that the Patriots’ footballs were even deflated.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.