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Your Heros Are The Problem

By now you’ve all heard about the shootings at Jewish community centers in Kansas. The short version is that Frazier Glenn Cross (or Miller, who the fuck knows), a well known and proud anti-semite (he’s actually a racism generalist who hates all races, but seems particularly pissed at the Jews) decided he would do something about the dreaded Jewish scourge in Kansas by shooting up a couple of Jewish centers. Being the genius that he is, he managed to kill three Christians and no Jews before he was arrested. He’s a convicted felon who made the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of extremists to look out for. He was a founder and "grand dragon" of the Klan in Kansas. By the way, what the fuck kind of lame organization has dragons, knights, and wizards? I guess it makes sense, since they’re trying to perpetuate the fantasy of white supremacy. One would think that the fact that Miller couldn’t tell a Christian from a Jew would tell these psychos something about their "supremacy", but I suspect it won’t.

I digress. Peter Bergen and David Sterman wrote a piece for CNN yesterday that is sure to have the right wing up in arms. They found that since 9/11, right wing extremists have murdered 34 Americans while Muslim extremists have killed 21. Left wing extremists do exist, but their death toll remains at zero. Remember when a few years ago when DHS put out a report in which they raised red flags over the growing number of right wing extremists in America and the right wing media lost their shit? DHS has not put out a single report analyzing threats from extremists since. But the numbers here are clear; DHS was right to warn about right wing extremism. And as with climate change, rampant gun ownership and the price we pay, "abstinence only" and the increased number of teen pregnancies it leads to, and a myriad of other topics that the right wing has managed shut out of the discussion, the reality doesn’t change just because you don’t talk about it.

We do have a right wing extremist problem, and it’s getting worse. Notice the emphasis on right wing? That isn’t ideological, it’s empirical. Let’s review the scoreboard again;

Murders by Muslim extremists – 21

Murders by right wing extremists – 34

Murders by left wing extremists – 0

Why is that? Why are there more murders by extremists of the right wing variety, than any other flavor of extremist? It’s the culture, stupid. I’ve spoken to a number of batshit crazy people who call themselves liberals, so why are they not murderous in equal numbers with the batshit on the right? Let’s look at right wing heroes of the recent past. There’s George Zimmerman who murdered an unarmed black kid, Phil Robertson who hates the gays, Sarah Palin of "he pals around with terrorists" fame, Ted Nugent who makes love to his guns every night while regaling in his tales of draft dodging, and now there’s Clive Bundy. These are not far right wing heroes, these are heroes that the mainstream right wing has embraced. Fox news has taken these miscreants into the warm embrace of the mainstream right wing bosom.

What do these heroes all have in common? Hatred. They’re all against something, and exist for the sole purpose of dividing us based on hatred. Remember when Trump was on Fox every hour, demanding to see the birth certificate? Can anyone tell me what Trump is for, and when the last time he did an interview espousing the virtue of what he’s for? How about Palin? What is she for? We know that Nugent is for guns, but that’s for the sole purpose of making the hate more lethal since we know by his draft dodging, pant pooping history, that he’s not for America.

And now we have Clive Bundy. A whacko moocher that doesn’t want to pay for the stuff he uses. He doesn’t own the land he wants to use, never has owned the land he wants to use, and was told in court that he needs to pay for the use of that land. That’s what we do in the first world; we go to court. But this whack job thinks that he can just keep mooching by gathering together an armed militia to help him take what was never his to take. And for this, he’s a right wing hero. I’ve got some news for his insane supporters; I believe there are more than a few native Americans that can come in and seize Bundy’s own ranch by using the same rationale that Bundy is using to mooch from you.

But again, I digress. The heroes of the mainstream right wing embody  and create the culture in the right wing. This is a culture of violence and hatred. And that culture is why their extremists are more dangerous than other extremists. Extremists, by definition are dangerous but right wing extremists are fueled by mainstream right wing culture.

Bill Maher likes to say that there’s something inherently more violent about the Muslim religion, than other religions. He’s dead wrong. It’s the culture, stupid. Muslims in a more violent culture are more violent than Muslims in a less violent culture. Murder is not a socially acceptable remedy in the first world so by and large, Muslims don’t murder in first world countries. Is anyone familiar with the crusades? How about the Spanish Inquisition? Why were Christians so violent back then? Because it was culturally acceptable.

Again, refer to the death toll scoreboard above. Muslim extremists are not extra, super murderous in the first world. If you want to add 9/11 to that scoreboard, that’s totally fair. That puts the Muslim extremist count at 22 because 9/11 was one incident, by one extremist group who got very lucky and racked up a giant death toll. We don’t score differently because Bin Laden was more effective than the anti semitic whacko who couldn’t shoot straight, and killed three Christians.

We have a right wing culture problem and letting the right wing shut us up about it isn’t going to solve the problem. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened, I said that I was hoping that the perpetrator was white. Why? Because we don’t lose our shit when it’s a white guy but when it’s a Muslim, we create a whole new giant government bureaucracy to molest us at the airport. When a Muslim puts a bomb in his shoe, we all have to take off our shoes prior to either having a naked picture taken, or a state sanctioned molestation. But we don’t do anything when a terrorist is white. We don’t even keep score anymore.

Pretending like it doesn’t exist, tacitly fuels the problem. As a nation, we are not outraged by the murder of a physician whose women’s health services happen to include abortion. That lack of outrage is a tacit permission for the anti choice zealots to do it again. When a white guy shoots up a Sikh temple, it’s news for one single day. There’s no national outrage the way there is when a Muslim guy kills no one in Times Square with a sloppily assembled bomb. Moreover, there’s virtually no mention of the fact that the guy who alerted authorities to a potential problem was himself Muslim.

Ignoring the problem is part of the problem. So is creating a false equivalency between the right wing and left wing. They’re not equal, and those of you that want me to call it even can go fuck yourselves. I’m not going to blame both sides equally, just to make you feel better about your shitty choices. You can either make better choices, or embrace your crappy ones but I’m not going to mitigate the hate that your party perpetuates. Left wing heroes include MLK, FDR, Rosa Parks, Che Guevara, Harvey Milk, and Cesar Chavez. These are all people that were for something, and that accomplished something that made the world demonstrably better. It’s true that the left doesn’t have very many recent heroes but not having a hero in the past 30 years is very different than propping up a murderer, a draft dodger, a hater, and a moocher. Both sides are not equal, and the lack of a hero on the left is a function of our broken political system that gives more democracy to those with more money. Elizabeth Warren is my hero because she’s telling the money to go fuck itself every day.

Both sides are not equal, and the mainstream right wing needs to be called out for its murder inspiring culture. When Bill O’Reilly goes on TV and repeats the phrase "Tiller the baby killer", he needs to be called out for fueling the crazy. Hannity needs to be called out for his love of Zimmerman and Bundy because he’s fueling the hate and bubbling the extremists to the surface.

We need to stop being polite or even handed in America. When both sides are equally problematic, I will be even handed. In the meantime, I blame mainstream republicans and the heroes they hold so dear.                     

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What Now?

Everyone is trying to figure out what to do to fix the egregious injustice done to the country (yes, it happened to all of us) in the Zimmerman verdict, myself included. There’s talk of pushing the DOJ into bringing a new case against Zimmerman. I understand that reaction, but I don’t think that’s the way to go.

I don’t think that DOJ has enough to successfully bring a hate crime case against Zimmerman. I know that a lot of people want to see sufficient evidence in his prior overtly racist comments, and his cousin who flat out says he hates black people, but I don’t see enough there to successfully prosecute a case. In my opinion, the worst thing that can happen to the state of racism in America would be for Zimmerman to be acquitted again. He would be seen as a “victim”, being hunted down by a justice system motivated by race. I don’t want to see that happen. Trying Zimmerman is not, in my opinion, the right way to go.

I hope that the Martin family decide to file a wrongful death civil suit against him, just to make sure that he never collects a dime of money from a book deal or speaking engagements, or whatever else he decided to do to earn some cash. But that’s as far as “punishing” Zimmerman can go. As much as I hate it, he got away with murder. We just need to accept that.

That said, don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling hopeless. I do think that there are some things that we, the American people can do, and I have a few ideas. Step 1; donate to Marissa Alexander’s legal defense fund. Marissa Alexander is spending twenty years in jail for firing her gun at the wall next to her abusive ex-husband, who she had an order of protection against. There was a mountain of paperwork to back up her assertion that her husband abused her, and that she legitimately feared for her safety when he was near her. She was not allowed a “stand your ground” hearing, which would have averted the farce of a trial that ended in a jury deliberating for twelve minutes before convicting her. I’ve spent more than twelve minutes choosing which restaurant to eat dinner in. We can’t do anything for Trayvon, but we can get Marissa a rock star attorney to file her appeals. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in America, it’s that money buys you the verdict you want.

My second step is to make sure that all of the Trayvon Martins become national conversations and get their day in court. We need to be vigilant against corrupt police forces that sweep the murders of black men under the rug. Remember, George Zimmerman wasn’t charged for forty-four days. It wasn’t until we all got involved, that the justice system finally took action even though some of the investigators involved wanted to charge Zimmerman that first night. We can’t continue to accept racial disparity in how criminals are treated. Here, for instance, is a case we should all collectively focus in on now.

We need to shine a light on these cases, not just to right the wrongs in our justice system, but also to change our culture.

In listening to juror B37 talk about the trial, it became obvious to me that she could not relate to a black teenager. She thought he was acting suspicious by “walking slowly” “late at night” (unless you’re a fucking farmer 7 pm is not late), “looking into houses” (based on nothing other than Zimmerman’s word, and who the hell doesn’t look into windows when they’re walking?). She seemed to give Zimmerman every benefit of the doubt, buying everything he said (even though his story changed dramatically), and believing everything his friends said. Who doesn’t assume that any defendant in a case like this isn’t highly motivated to twist events around in order to avoid years in prison? She ignored the fact that every single person who identified the calls for help on the 911 calls as being Zimmerman, went on to say preposterous things. For example, his coworker claimed she had no idea why George wasn’t at work after the incident. All she knew was that he was on FMLA. Are you fucking kidding me? You work in the only company in the world that has no rumor mill, and no access to local news? Or Zimmerman’s elderly friends who weren’t following the case at all. Your friend is on trial for murder and you’re not scouring the internet for information every day? Preposterous! She didn’t find Rachel Jeantel credible. Are you shitting me? I’ve never seen a more honest testimony from anyone in a trial, ever. So what accounts for this lack of common sense and disregard for plausibility?

Relatability. She related to all of Zimmerman’s friends so much so, that she didn’t see how preposterous their testimony was. She flat out told you she couldn’t relate to Rachel or Trayvon, referring to “their world”. Is that racist? I don’t know, you decide.

But I think it’s important to bring national attention to as many of these cases as possible. We need to give people enough exposure to “their world” (whatever “their” is for each individual) as possible, until they realize it’s “our world”. We need to change our culture. We need to start exposing even the most sheltered Americans to the reality of our country. We need to make people aware of the fact that their experiences aren’t all of the experiences in America. In short, we need to start busting bubbles all across the country until people like Rachel Jeantel and Trayvon Martin are no longer “others”, but “ours”.

I know that I sound like a sunny optimist, but I firmly believe that you change a culture by proactively changing it. When I say proactive, I mean vigilant. We need to be vigilant about changing things in America. We’re the only ones that can change it. We can tear down age old prejudices and social constructs. We can stop accepting the fact that different races and different classes in America have different justice systems. We can demand equal justice for all races. We can demand equal justice for all classes. It’s time to stop accepting that rich people get away with anything, and that poor people get less justice, and that’s just the way it is.

Enough! It is in our power to level the playing field. It’s time we stop being complacent and use our power.

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Enough With The Riot Talk!

I’m hearing some talk about riots breaking out of Zimmerman is found not guilty. Enough! This is crazy talk, and it’s monumentally racist. How douchey do you have to believe that people are going to riot over a verdict?

The time to riot ended when Zimmerman was charged. The injustice ended with his arrest. People generally don’t riot in the absence of an egregious injustice. When Zimmerman was finally arrested, an egregious injustice was averted.

Americans cope with bad verdicts all the time. There’s no reason to believe we won’t do it again, in the unlikely event that Zimmerman walks. How big of an ass are you, if you believe that black people can’t cope with a bad verdict?

I’m more worried about those who are bracing themselves for riots. They’re the real assholes among us.

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Is It Really All About Who Was Pleading On The Tape?

Today was the first full day for the defense in the Zimmerman trial, and it was all about the audio of the 911 call. The defense called 5 witnesses (all friends of Zimmerman’s) to say that it was definitely him (Zimmerman) pleading for help in the 911 call. They were positive it was Zimmerman, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Remember, when Zimmerman was played the tape, he told the investigator (who insisted it was Zimmerman who was pleading), “That doesn’t even sound like me”. So the defense is telling us that Zimmerman’s friends are more able to recognize Zimmerman’s voice than Zimmerman is. Cause, you know, it’s hard to recognize how your voice sounds on a recording. Okay, that’s plausible.

Additionally, they called two of the investigators to testify that Trayvon’s father said that it was not Trayvon’s voice on the tape. Then they called Trayvon’s father to the stand. He testified that after listening to the tape twenty (or so) times, he became convinced that it was Trayvon pleading for help. The defense then called¬†Bill Ray Lee Jr. (the police chief who resigned). His testimony also centered around the tape, and how it was played for the Martin family for the purpose of identifying the voice pleading on the tape. Apparently, the tape was played for the whole family while they were all in the same room with each other. Lee testified that his recommendation was to play the tape for each family member individually in order to avoid a “group think” situation.

So again, the defense is telling us that Tracy Martin (Trayvon’s father) was correct when he initially said that it wasn’t his son pleading for help on the tape. I don’t believe they can reasonably get the jury to believe all of these things;

  • Tracy Martin was correct when he initially heard the tape and said that it wasn’t Trayvon pleading for help on the tape.
  • Tracy Martin was wrong, after hearing the tape several more times, and claimed that it was Trayvon on the tape.
  • Zimmerman was wrong when he heard the tape and said, “That doesn’t even sound like me”.
  • Zimmerman’s friends were all correct when they testified that it’s definitely Zimmerman pleading for help on the tape.

I just don’t think that an objective jury can believe all of these things, especially since all of the “certainty” about who that was on the tape, happened over time.

In my opinion, the defense just made the tape irrelevant. There are simply too many conflicting opinions around whose voice that is on the tape. I don’t believe that they can get a jury to believe that Zimmerman’s friends know his voice better than he himself does. And I don’t believe they can get the jury to settle on which of Tracy Martin’s opinions on the tape is correct. The opinion you believe is more indicative of what you want to believe, than it is of what’s plausible.

In short, I think they succeeded in negating the focal point of their defense.

 

 

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The Biggest Loser

That’s basically George Zimmerman’s defense. His defense team is telling you that he got the shit beaten out of him by a kid who he outweighed by almost sixty pounds. They’re of course, trying to downplay the fact that he was studying mixed martial arts, and that his gun always has a bullet in the chamber. But what they’re telling you is that the armed martial arts expert got beat by the kid he was hunting down, so he had to shoot the kid because all of the advantages he had weren’t enough to overcome the fact that he’s a giant loser.

I don’t know what the main stream media is watching, but I’m watching a pretty effective prosecution of a murderer. I see the prosecution tearing Zimmerman’s lies apart one by one.

-Trayvon did not jump out at him from out of the nonexistent bushes.

-The medical examiner testified that Zimmerman’s injuries are not consistent with his story.

-Trayvon did not have any of Zimmerman’s DNA under his fingernails, so if he was pounding Zimmerman’s head against the pavement, he was very tidy about it.

-It was not George Zimmerman crying for help on the 911 tape. The jury heard a recording of Chris Serino (the lead investigator) questioning Zimmerman. In that tape, Serino played the 911 recording with the screaming in the background. Serino tells Zimmerman that it’s him(Zimmerman) pleading on the tape. Zimmerman says, “That doesn’t even sound like me”. The investigator is trying to help the loser to set up a self defense story, and Zimmerman was too big a loser to understand what was happening.

-George Zimmerman was intimately familiar with how stand ground defenses work, despite his lies on the Hannity show. The prosecution had his teacher testify that Zimmerman not only knew about how a stand your ground defense would work, but he got an A in the class.

And then there’s Rachel Gentile. Say what you want about her, you can’t say that she’s a liar. “Creepy ass cracker” tells you that she’s not a liar and that she wasn’t coached. For all the mocking and finger pointing of racism, I think those three words actually helped the prosecution. They showed that she didn’t have an agenda, and that she wasn’t revising history to help Trayvon. She proved that Trayvon was not following Zimmerman. He was ambushed by a loser who wanted to feel like a winner for once in his life.

As an aside, I want to say something about the way the public is treating Rachel Gentile. I don’t believe she’s being mocked because she’s black. I believe she’s being mocked because she’s uneducated. We have a popular reality show based on mocking poor, uneducated white people. This isn’t racism. It’s classism. We are a society that loves to shit on the poor. And instead of discussing how it’s possible for someone to go into their senior year of high school without being able to read cursive, we mock.

I don’t believe that the “I’m the biggest loser” defense is going to work. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it happening.

I get the sense that the prosecution is close to wrapping up its case. I can’t imagine that the defense lawyers are going to allow their loser of a client to take the stand. Without Zimmerman taking the stand, the defense is going to wrap up their case in a matter of days.

Don’t let the media tell you that Zimmerman’s team is winning. They’re not. I absolutely believe that the prosecution has effectively dismantled Zimmerman’s story piece by piece.

In my opinion, the only truthful thing coming out of Zimmerman or his defense team, is that Zimmerman is the biggest of losers.

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NOT Divided

Or at least we shouldn’t be.

As I’ve been pouring through right wing and left wing media for the past few weeks, it occurs to me that something strange (stranger than usual) is happening. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to limit my observations of strangeness to the issue of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. I’m stunned by how divergent the coverage has been between the two party ideologies.

The left wing is, for the most party, crying out for justice. Let me speak for my personally; I want justice, not to be confused with wanting a guilty verdict. I want justice in the form of a trial, which looked like it wasn’t going to happen, were it not for the public demand for justice. The right wing seems to think that the public outcry is for a conviction. The right is incensed that the court of public opinion has already convicted Zimmerman.

What the fuck do you expect, right wing? George Zimmerman hasn’t presented his side of the story. After the shooting, he ran like a scared little girl, leaving everybody else to compile bits and pieces of information surrounding the circumstances of the shooting. There is no defense of George Zimmerman at this stage of the story because he hasn’t presented one.

Anyone that defends George Zimmerman at this point, does so from a purely visceral perspective. They want for him not to be a murder.¬† I won’t speculate as to what the motivations of Zimmerman’s supporters are because I’m trying to stick to the facts. And the fact is that George Zimmerman hasn’t given his defenders a reason to defend him, which is why they should be on my side. They should be elated that there is going to be a trial.

A trial will force Zimmerman to do what the has so far been unwilling to do voluntarily; present a defense. Why aren’t the right and left on the same side on this one? Don’t we all want for the facts to come out? Don’t his defenders want to be able to defend him based on actual facts, rather than being accused of being racist? Don’t they want tangible reasons that they can point to in order to justify the homicide of a 17 year old boy? Don’t we all want to know every single fucking detail that leads to something like this happening?

I literally can’t understand why there are “sides” to be taken here. I’m totally open to hearing Zimmerman’s side of the story when he finally presents it. If you’re on Zimmerman’s side, you shouldn’t be afraid of the facts coming out. You should be eager to be proven right. And that’s simply not going to happen without a trial. Can’t we all just fucking agree that a trial needs to happen? Are we so fractured that we can’t agree that when a teenager is shot we, as a society, must demand all the facts?

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Stand Your Ground

Everybody is talking about the the murder of Trayvon Martin. I for one, am overjoyed that the public is paying attention. But as with most things, there’s an aspect of the way this story is being reported that is escalating my already overactive bitchiness.

The reporting on this story suggests that George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested because of the heinous “stand your ground” law that was passed in Florida in 2005. That’s just flatly not true. George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested because the police department in charge of the investigation, didn’t care to investigate. Whether their incompetence was racially motivated or not, is something that will eventually come out (I hope).

Here’s the deal with “stand your ground”. It applies to situations where a person is confronted with mortal danger from another person. Normally, when you’re confronted with a mortal threat, it is your duty to do everything you can before using mortal force yourself. This includes running away. The “stand your ground” law removes that obligation to flee, but it doesn’t remove the requirement that you be confronted with mortal danger. In other words, if someone is waving a butcher knife in your face, and you happen to be armed with a gun, you can shoot them without first trying to get away. It does not give you the right to shoot someone who is waving a bag of fucking skittles in your face. Skittles are not a mortal threat so this law doesn’t apply to such a situation. At this stage in this story, “stand your ground” does not apply.

I bring up that it doesn’t apply yet because I’m concerned that focusing on it now will have two potentially adverse affects on the eventual outcome if this situation. The first thing I’m concerned with, is that talking about the law deflects from the inaction on the part of the police force. We need to stay focused on their actions and the motivations behind those actions. If their actions were a product of inherent racism, we need to make sure to expose that. Secondly, I’m worried that going after “stand your ground” now leaves advocates for it’s repeal open to criticism from the NRA and the politicians they’ve bought. The criticism will be framed by accusing liberals of wanting to repeal a law that we never wanted in the first place. As I said, this law doesn’t play into this story yet. The time will inevitably come to scrutinize this law, but it’s too soon.

“Stand your ground” was cited by the Sanford police department as being the reason why for why they just accepted Zimmerman’s claim of self defense. They’re lying to deflect. We need to keep advocating for an investigation of the police force instead of focusing in on the law. If you’re running around talking to your friends about how this law led to Trayvon Martin’s death, you would be wrong. And you would be wrong in a way that allows for proponents of this law to accuse you of pushing this agenda.

Don’t worry, you will have the chance to shine a light on this law. That opportunity will come if the police stick to their initial excuse of using this law not to do their job, or when the defense will invariably use this law as part of their strategy. I’m not sure the police will stick to their story. The backers of these laws (yes, they’re trying to pass them all across the country) must by now, see that letting the police use it as their excuse jeopardizes their precious neanderthal law. I don’t believe they will allow that to happen. But I do believe that Zimmerman’s defense attorney will use it.

My point here is that you should stick to the facts when discussing this case. Making false claims about how this law played into what happened opens you up for legitimate criticism. We can win this debate by focusing in on the facts at hand. We risk losing it when we distort the facts.

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