Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Thoughts with Abe (9.17.09)

Back again with some more random thoughts.


Back in 2005, I made a proclamation. Having watched the courthouse shooting incident unfold on television, I stated that the case would not last very long. It was clear to me, as it should have been to everybody, that Brian Nichols was guilty of killing 4 people in the courtroom. There was, to put it mildly, a plethora of evidence against him. That was 4 years ago. Guess what? Nothing happened with that case. The prosecutors couldn't somehow connect the dots. I've seen people go to prison for life on hearsay and a dumb jury. It was then that I realized that no matter how obvious a person's guilt may be, the justice system is so ineffective and corrupt, that it would be impossible to predict any outcome. So, I haven't made any other proclamation about any crimes in the news since then. Until now. With limited facts currently known, I can conclude that this Yale murder suspect is clearly guilty. It is so painfully obvious. There is no other person who is remotely linked to this murder. There is a ton of evidence that indicates he was at least somehow involved in the murder. I can't imagine how this story can end in any other way. That is my criminal lock of the year. This guy is guilty.

Speaking of crime on campus, this Hofstra gang rape story is rather amusing. This woman claimed she was raped by 5 guys (one named Jesus, and another named Stalin) after a party on campus. The guys were arrested and their names and photos were published in the papers. They were held in jail for 3 days. Then, the woman recanted her story and admitted that she was in fact not gang raped, but instead had consensual sex, with 5 guys, at once. The judge downgraded the gang rape to merely a gang bang, which is not even a misdemeanor. Now, these guys were accused of a serious offense, and for the most part, their names will be linked to this rape case. Sometimes, that's all it takes to sully a good name (though one of the guy's name is Stalin, but you know). I bet you a couple of them will be fired from their jobs simply for taking part in this whole incident. I mean, they were, after all, involved in a 5-on-1 sex encounter, known as the ultimate 'power play' up north (hey, an insensitive hockey reference!). So, what recourse do these guys have in the eyes of public opinion? I guess they can sue in civil court for defamation of character or something, but how far is that going to go. This woman is clearly troubled, and if I can play psychologist for a minute, she probably has had some sexual trauma in her childhood. But that still doesn't mean you can go around accusing guys with a healthy appetite for a gang bang with such a heinous crime as rape. That would be like being accused as a racist whenever you object to or disagree with somebody outside of your race.

Speaking of which, former President Jimmy Carter decided to chime in on the whole health care debate earlier this week. The conclusion he reached was simple: the main reason why there are so many people who disagree with the president on issues such as health care, has all to do with the president's race. That's right, the same country that elected the first black man as president, by a 200 electoral vote margin over a white man, has now turned on the president. It somehow slipped their mind that he was after all, black. Those sneaky blacks. Even Bill Cosby, who conservatives often applaud for his stance against some elements of the black culture, agreed with President Carter's assessment. I was actually surprised by that. Now, don't get me wrong. There are plenty of bigots and xenophobes and even racists out there. And some of them are in those tea-party events and marches down Washington, DC. But to say that the primary reason why there is a significant uprising from the opposition is based on the president's race is not only wrong, it's also very dismissive and counterproductive. It's good to see that the White House is staying away from this land mine of an issue.

I will fault the conservative movement in one respect. It's the same issue I have with Muslims. Why isn't there a stronger push by conservatives to distance themselves from those within their camp that are bigoted, xenophobic, and oftentimes outright racist? Muslims always stated that they are a moderate and peaceful people. That extremists are but a small fringe group that do not represent the whole. Yet, whenever some crazy shit happened by Muslim extremists, you never heard any "not in our name" kind of statements from the Muslim communities. And the few times they did come out against it, they would throw in a bunch of caveats that offset the denouncement (e.g. it sucks, but those Jews deserved it). The same thing is happening with the tea party protests and other conservative gatherings. There's always a bunch of racially motivated banners among the masses, but nobody calls them out on it. Nobody says "hey, that's not what we're about. you don't represent us". They accept them like they do the rest. They implicitly give them credibility, and the end result is the liberal side lumping all of them together, mostly for political gain. They all become 'those racists'. It's not right, but it's like that expression goes, it's the company you keep. And if you have no problem with tea partying with blatant bigots, then what does that say about you? Is all I’m saying.

One last thing. Maureen Dowd. Really? When Joe Wilson, the now infamous congressman from South Carolina, shouted "you lie" to the president, you instead heard "you lie, boy"? That's what we in the business like to call a stretch. I know the argument you were trying to drive home - that there was some racist undertone behind the heckle – but come on. Any statement ending with ‘boy’ towards an adult black male, as history has shown us, has some racial implications. So to suggest Joe Wilson meant to add ‘boy’ to his statement suggests that he is being dismissive of the president because of his race. Unless it can be proven, that sort of salacious accusation should be beneath the New York Times editorial page. Or so I thought. But I digress.

If you can control the news cycle, you can control the debate. With the rising popularity in aggregate news sites, what stories get plucked from the obscurity of the AP wire and local newspapers often shapes the national debate. There is an article on Huffington Post that makes the claim that the conservative-leaning news aggregate Drudgereport.com, especially recently, selects news stories that drive a singular point home: Obama is a failing president, who is black. The author of the article draws this conclusion because of the stories that are in heavy rotation on the website - the firing of Obama’s black adviser, an op-ed article about how bad the president is doing, and the ACORN controversy, just to name a few. Even seemingly non-related stories, such as the video of the school bus fight that shows a white student being beaten by a couple of black students, is a featured story on the website. The reason for all of these story selections, according to the author, is to paint a negative picture of the president as well as to de-legitimize his efforts. Now, I don't necessarily agree with the author's point on this. I frequent the web site, and though I've seen those aforementioned stories featured, I have also seen many other stories featured that do not fit that characterization. But I will say this, I do agree with the general theme of his message. News aggregate website and the stories they feature more often than not align with the ideology of those who make the decisions. But as long as people know that going into, I have no real problem with it.

On a related side-note, once people accept the fact that they seek news stories that reinforce their beliefs, I can finally go ahead with my news website that caters to that type of readership. It'll either be called echochamber.com or filter.com. The main page will have a blue pill (liberal slant) and a red pill (conservative slant). Depending on which pill you take, the news stories will be suited for that ideology. At the bottom right, where it will be hard to see, I will have a black helicopter icon, for those wacky conspiracy theory types. And to top it all, I will have one main forum for everybody to debate/argue the stories of the day. I think it could work.

Earlier this week, Bob sent me a link to a story about this guy who was severely beaten by 10-15 guys. The reason for the attack had all to do with the victim’s race, and that of his girlfriend. He was a white guy. His girlfriend was black. Not an ordinary pairing, but it happens. The 10-15 guys were black and I guess they disapproved of the interracial couple. They felt that this white guy was taking one of their precious black women from them, which puzzled me. I mean, what’s it to them? It’s not like any of those 10-15 guys were going to marry her, or at least stick around for any length of time. The rate for single-mothers in the black community is what, 70%? That figure is especially staggering when you compare it to any other group. So why would a bunch of teenaged black kids, who as the stats show are notoriously against committed relationships, want to break up a seemingly happy couple? I would be okay with this sort of degenerate behavior if, after they beat the poor guy to a bloody pulp, one of the guys asked her hand in marriage, or at least out on a date. But that wasn’t their objective. They were just looking for a reason to beat up on someone. And we cannot stand for that. The other great thing about this story is how it didn’t gain any traction with the community or the media as far as outrage goes. The father of the victim made that obnoxious “if it were the other way around, if a bunch of white guys beat up a black kid” argument. Still, many people didn’t care.


And lastly, I cannot wait until this whole Ramadan thing ends. I have had to eat out for breakfast and lunch for the past 3 and a half weeks. This is due to the fact that I cannot prepare any food to take to work, which I ordinarily do. This, in turn, is due to the fact that nobody in the house can eat because of the 'holy' month of fasting during the daylight hours. I usually budget for eating out each month, and so far I have gone $100 over my usual monthly spending. That would pay for a paramore concert and two week's worth of gas. Thankfully, the 'holy' month comes to an end this weekend, so I can resume my modest eating habits at work. I sure as hell hope that come Ramadan next year, I am out on my own somewhere in the city of Atlanta and not have to abide by these silly rules.

And that my friends, is all

-Abe

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