Friday, November 28, 2014

The Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

A writer writes!

From Darren Wilson’s public comments, he apparently believes he handled the encounter with Michael Brown perfectly.  According to Wilson he was just doing his job.  That comment in itself is chilling since the result of his “doing his job” was the death of Michael Brown.

In reading Wilson’s description of the initial physical confrontation with Brown, I wondered why didn’t Wilson simply drive his police car several feet away from Brown when the alleged punching began?  Wilson stated that he had called for backup.  If so, why didn’t he wait until backup came before he confronted the two African American men walking in the street?  Why would he initiate a confrontation with two suspects when there was no other physical police presence there with him?  Did Wilson really want to buy time until his back up came?  If so Wilson had the option to use his vehicle to follow the suspects from a safe distance also protecting himself from harm.  Instead after the initial verbal exchange with the two Black males, he backs his car up in reverse to approach two suspects not knowing if they were armed or not.  Was Wilson taught this back up approach maneuver in his “training”?

During his grand jury testimony Wilson was asked wouldn’t he have been more mobile in dealing with the suspects in his car rather than on foot?  Wilson replied he wanted to stay where he could keep Brown in one place while keeping himself safe.  He is also later asked about why he didn’t think about driving away after the confrontation, again until backup came?  His response was he was attempting to deal with the threat.  So, Wilson made a conscious decision to put himself into a situation where he could claim he was fearful which allowed him to use his gun.

Wilson said his training was not to flee.  Was he trained to back up his vehicle in the manner that he did?  Why not turn the car around rather than put it into reverse?  Was he trained to escalate encounters with minorities into a deadly force situation where firing his gun was the best alternative to diffuse the situation?  If you’re afraid of getting beat up in your car, then move the car away from the person while maintaining sight of that person until backup arrives!

Wilson played the “I feared for my life card” and by the grand jury’s decision played it well.  The grand jury apparently believed that a 6’ 4” policeman, driving an SUV police vehicle, and armed with an automatic weapon rightfully felt threatened by and should have been fearful of an unarmed Black male.  A Black male whom Wilson said he feared was going to beat Wilson to death or take his gun away and shoot him.  Hollywood couldn’t write a better science fiction script.  All the protections Wilson had from being harmed and feeling fearful he decided to give up.  Attempting to get out of his vehicle, and not distancing himself from the suspects until help came were decisions made by Wilson.

Did Wilson really believe that someone he already had shot at least 3 times would be able to tackle him?  Did Wilson, a trained policeman, really believe the only option was to shoot Brown?  Did Wilson panic and cover up his panic by claiming he feared for his life from an unarmed person? 

Wilson, why didn’t you distance yourself from Brown in your V6 engine SUV car!  Wilson says he was trying to buy some time until help arrived.  Moving his car away would have bought some time.  Was Wilson afraid that backing off until help arrived would be seen as being cowardly?  After the shots in his car, Wilson inferred that he was fearful that an unarmed Brown would get away and possibly hurt someone else responding to the scene.  How was an unarmed Brown going to hurt others after already having been shot by Wilson?

After the shooting Wilson walked back to his SUV police car and turned the engine off.  Wilson was told to drive back to the station alone in another car.  After killing another human being he was not monitored by the police.  Instead he was given the honor system method to police himself while driving back to the police station.  No one monitored what self inflicted injuries he could have made to himself to prove Michael Brown struck him.  The grand jury transcripts showed that Wilson, a supposedly well trained cop, was on the wrong radio channel when initially reporting “shots fired”.  One witness said that after Brown was shot he staggered toward Wilson.  Another witness said Brown stopped turned around and walked towards Wilson.  That witness wondered why Brown didn’t stop approaching Wilson.  Wilson said he backed away from Brown some but as Brown continued towards him chose to stop his retreat and end the encounter by shooting Brown until he was dead. Wilson made a conscious choice of ending the encounter by killing Michael Brown.  Wilson chose the method of encountering Brown initially.  Wilson chose to approach the two men before backup arrived. Wilson chose to pursue unarmed suspects after they ran away.

So he thinks he did the right thing?  As the civil authority in the situation, his poor judgments are partially why the mother and father of Michael Brown are now without their son. 

The Ferguson community grand jury had their chance to properly address the killing.  Now it’s time to put the case into the category of a civil rights crime and carefully review each decision point of Wilson.

All policemen have the right to fear being injured when you enter an unknown situation.  But you also need to avoid giving away all the protections you have from being harmed.  Wilson gave away his protections and helped to elevate the situation into an execution.  Is that doing your job?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hunger Over the Holidays

 A writer writes!

This week is the annual reminder that despite being the self proclaimed greatest nation in the world, basic problems still exist in these United States of America.  For whatever reason many people in the United States live in poverty and go hungry every day.  That problem is magnified around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  All over the country churches, auditoriums etc. open up to feed people who simply need a meal.  Meals are also delivered to those who don't have transportation to get to a facility.

The generosity of the American people is appreciated to help those in need.  The generosity of people fills the gap where other organizations or governments are unable or unwilling to assist.  Locally I donate to an organization called Gleaners.  One of the features of Gleaners is a food pantry where people who need food can come by to get basics such as canned goods, bread, vegetables, etc. I have volunteered to work at Gleaners and saw people of all races, colors, and ages walk in to obtain food.  It is a humbling experience.  It's also a reminder that WE have a long way to go before we can rid these United States of America of the plague of poverty.

Yes, everyone who is able needs to work at a job that can provide them the means to purchase food.  But, in those instances where willing workers are unable to find a job, a mechanism needs to exist that allows people the opportunity to eat.  So as we enter into Thanksgiving week, as you pass that holiday kettle (that seems to be coming out earlier and earlier each year), drop some change in the bucket, or donate what you can to your local food bank.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bill Cosby Rape Allegations

A writer writes!

The rape allegations against entertainer Bill Cosby are of course surprising.  The thought of Mr. Jello himself drugging and assaulting helpless women is one image you don’t want to dwell on.  Mr. Cosby has responded through a lawyer that he will have no comment on the allegations.  You want to say, “Come on Cliff Huxtable, tell us this isn’t true!  America’s nice sitcom dad a rapist?  Say it’s not so!”

One thing I have learned in my 50 plus years is that people are not perfect.  Who would have imagined that President Kennedy, a Catholic and leader of the United States was having affairs with women in the White House?  The same White House where his wife and children lived with him.  Other U.S. Presidents have also been tied to extra marital affairs, most recently Bill Clinton.

That among other examples is why I have come to not idolize people.  People are not perfect and make mistakes. Many of these mistakes and bad judgments are made out of view of the public eye.  More recently we have seen “public” figures caught in the act of misbehavior due to the prominence of social media capturing and sharing the information.  Remember Ray Rice?

I personally do not have a shrine to Mr. Cosby in our house.  I don’t awake paying homage to any human being.  I know, as you should know, that people do “bad” things.  Hopefully more good than bad!  Instead I put my faith and trust in our Creator.  We should all honor the good things that people accomplish, especially those done to benefit others.  But, always take caution to not put any person on a pedestal as being perfect.  You will be disappointed when negative news comes out.

I am not going to dwell on whether Mr. Cosby is guilty or not.  I have never viewed him as a saint incapable of doing no wrong.  If he assaulted these women, he will be judged when he passes on from this world.  So for the time being applaud the good things he does.  Reject those things that he has done or will do that are not positive.  If he did in fact rape these women, one would hope he would eventually “come clean” offer some type of apology and take some time of action to donate time, money or both to those charities that exist to help rape victims recover.

Lastly, stop being surprised by negative news about your human idols.  You will continually be disappointed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The New Era of Television Shows-Same Sex Relationships

A writer writes!

Over the past ten years I have substantially decreased my television viewing time.  I first cut back on my TV watching because I tired of paying $100 plus to cable TV companies for the honor of constantly flipping through channels in a hopeless attempt to find something to watch.  So I cancelled my cable and resulted to watching commercial free TV with the assistance of antennae devices.  After a 4 year exile period, I finally went back to cable solely for the purpose of being able to watch sports.

Over the past few years I started to watch a few dramatic television shows with my spouse.  In terms of background I grew up in the 1960s where married couples were depicted on television as sleeping in separate beds.  Fast forward to 2014 and now television depicts same sex relationships to include intimate moments that would never have made it to the screen in the 1960's due to censorship rules.

I recall growing up during the 1960's hearing about parents being warned to monitor what their children are watching on television.  After recently coming across four separate television shows depicting same sex relationships, now I understand why those cautions were expressed way back then.  Television now seems to be promoting same sex relationships as being the new normal.  I do wonder if our youth are watching these shows, what impressions these TV shows are making on them?

As was the response back then, parents were told to simply change the channel if you didn't like a television show.  No one is making you watch it. So, that is what I've chosen to do.  I have chosent to not watch television shows that feature and promote same sex intimate relationships.  It's very easy.  I just push a few buttons and watch something else.  I miss all the commercials of the advertisers for those shows also which is another benefit.

Maybe the "different" lifestyles are what some people want to watch on TV.  People do whatever people want to do.  That is something that has become clear to me over the years.  Whether it runs against biblical teachings, is illegal by man made laws, it doesn't matter.  If people want to do something we simply do it and take the punishment for violation of any rules/laws.

So, I've made my choice.  I have no desire to watch television shows which graphically display the intimate details of same sex relationships.  Send me a note if  you come across a network that presents a variety of dramatic shows depicting the everyday lives of African American families or other diverse programming that isn't related to same sex relationships.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

Today we pause to pay respect to the veterans of the past and present.  Veteran's day is a reminder of one of the faults of human beings. Ultimately we don't posess the ability to resolve conflicts without turning to acts of violence and destruction of each other. Our final solution is to annihilate each other in as vicious a manner as our minds can conceive.  We've used all forms of weapons from spears,  axes, arrows, cannonballs,  bullets, bombs of various destructive power, atomic bombs, and biological weapons to terminate the lives of our "enemies". 

Our enemies often are those whom we really are not familiar with on a personal basis. Instead our government's leaders have educated us that we have enemies who pose a threat to us. Sometimes our government uses such terms as "weapons of mass destruction" in that education process.

Those who carry out the protection of our country become our veterans.  Our veterans are the ones who pay the ultimate price for our violent ways of resolving conflict.  Lives are lost,  body parts destroyed,  emotional scars created.  All because human beings have decided that war is the ultimate answer to our disagreements or desires.

I am under the view that wars have ended the lives of men and women who would have contributed to improving our world.  People who could have helped find a cure to cancer.  People who could have helped create alternative forms of energy.  The list goes on.

So, we pause to honor the veterans of the past and present. We're sorry that you had to serve in armed conflicts due to the imperfections of human beings.  We still haven't reached our potential.  Maybe we should also utilize veteran's day as a reminder that we owe future generations actions that will make veterans day only a reminder and testament to the past.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Election Day 2014

A writer writes!

Some 30 years ago in a college Political Science class, the instructor made a profound statement.  He said that it doesn't matter if a Republican or Democrat wins an elective office.  In our instructors view, neither "party" had the answers to the problems of the day.  His opinion at the time seemed an outrageous viewpoint.  For years we had been taught that there was a Democratic way and a Republican way of resolving problems.

Time has shown that political parties by themselves do not have the "answers" to human problems.  Yes, there have been some specific approaches taken by the two major parties, but none of those approaches have solved human based problems.

Currently we have a Congress that has been highly touted as being a "do nothing" Congress.  Stuck in gridlock and playing political games where lack of any progress is the only result.  We pay these Congressmen a salary to basically accomplish nothing that makes our overall lives better.  It sounds like an ideal job for those who want to make $100,000 plus and enjoy the perks of a political office while accomplishing little.  There are those who try to make a difference.  Apparently we need more of those type people.

As you vote, look for that candidate who seems to be "different" in a positive way.  Avoid those candidates who are talking the same political chatter that you've heard time and time again.  If we're lucky, maybe half of those who win their election will actually work to effect positive changes.  If not, we will try it again two years from now.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Aging Is Bad Enough?

A writer writes!

I was typically bypassing all the "human interest" stories in the Comcast news home page when I saw one with the subject title, "Aging is Bad Enough".  I didn't read the article as I've found most of the "news" on Comcast's home page isn't news but what I call "gossip literature".  It normally has no redeeming value except to take up space.  It's human chatter because we as humans can say and do whatever we want to.

But a title of "Aging is Bad Enough"?  The topic itself assumes that getting older is the worst thing that can happen to a human being.  It assumes that somehow the years from birth to age 30 are our only reason for living.  If we somehow make the mistake of living beyond 30 we have doomed ourselves to endure a terrifying existence for the remainder of our desolate years.

If getting older and aging is a terrible thing, where are all the euthanasia companies that can help us end our miserable lives after we pass age 30?

Aging is just another part of the human process.  There is nothing "bad" about aging.  Regardless of the media being dominated by images of "youthful" looking people, if you are past age 40 celebrate the fact that you are still living.  The alternative is daunting to think of.

We all want to have bodies that function well, but like old cars, our bodily mechanisms wear out as they get older.  The warranty runs out and then we are on our own.  Don't let that spoil your life.  Next time you see something that says aging is bad, laugh to yourself, order a glass of wine, and slowly sip it as you celebrate being retired and not having to work every day as the "young" folks do.