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Archive for the ‘Gender Issues’ Category

The NFL is still taking heat over domestic abuse problems.  And, they should take heat for it.  As they struggle to get a grip on the problem, basically their perceived problem of bad publicity, they continue to show just how inconsistent their policies on this issue really are.  As you all know by now, Adrian Peterson was charged with negligent injury of a child for using a switch on his 4 year old son to discipline him.  An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday.  He voluntarily turned himself into law enforcement.  The Minnesota Vikings deactivated him for Sunday’s game.  But, they have reactivated him this week.

As usual, the NFL has done nothing yet.  Besides doing nothing, the NFL hasn’t even said a word about it.  They are apparently “investigating” the situation before making any announcement.  Ray Rice is still suspended indefinitely, but he filed an appeal yesterday.  In these two cases, the league is standing behind their “due process” language saying they really can’t do much until due process has been completed.  There is another case in San Francisco against a 49er player for domestic abuse as well who played on Sunday night against the Bears.

Even if we buy into the “due process” argument, how can the NFL use that argument with Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers?  Greg Hardy was accused of choking his then girlfriend and drug her around by the hair and threatened to kill her.  Hardy was “convicted” in a one day bench trail in Charlotte.  He received 18 months of probation and a 60-day suspended sentence for the misdemeanors he was charged with.  He is appealing the decision and asking for a trial by jury.  Yet, the Carolina Panthers waited until the last-minute to deactivate him.  Even though he was deactivated to play Sunday, he was still paid by the team.

The Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, while accepting a civic award last week, began to cry while speaking about domestic violence.  “When it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple,” he told the audience in Charlotte. “To those who would suggest we’ve been too slow to act, I ask that you consider not to be too quick to judge.”  At that time, Hardy was still eligible to play.

What is the major difference in all of these cases?  The Ray Rice incident had video.  The Adrian Peterson incident has pictures and tweets from Peterson.  The Hardy case and the one in San Francisco have neither video or pictures or tweets.  As a result, the NFL can hide behind their “due process” garbage without too much public outrage because there isn’t anything to show what happened.

I was particularly struck watching the pre-game shows on Sunday.  The one I was really interested in was the NBC pre-game show because it had Tony Dungy on it.  Dungy talked about how he “asked his players to be honest with him” when he had situations come up with Colts players.  He bragged about how they let one player go and punished another.  If I had been able to ask a question of him, I would have asked about the “distractions” these cases brought to the team.  Remember, Dungy said he would not draft an openly gay player because he didn’t want to put up with the “distractions” that would bring.

On Monday night football on ESPN, they had the audacity to question Ray Lewis about his thoughts about domestic violence.  I say the audacity because it was Ray Lewis, former player for the Ravens, who was wrapped up in a murder one Super Bowl Sunday.  He only escaped being part of the defense in an agreement to testify against those involved.  I would think that would sort of disqualify his opinion on domestic violence.

When it comes to handling social issues, this conflict shows exactly why the NFL can’t seem to handle these problems.  The NFL is not alone in this problem either.  They have a very willing partner in the NFLPA.  The NFLPA is very willing to negotiate punishments in their contract for things like drug use or performance enhancing drugs, yet they are loathsome to negotiate punishments for Domestic Violence.  The NFLPA is backing Ray Rice in his appeal and have remained silent on the Hardy incident, as well as others.

It has been suggested that any player who is arrested for domestic violence be deactivated, with pay, throughout the “due process”.  That is an idea that I support.  Players should not be allowed to participate in activities until their cases are resolved one way or the other.  By deactivating them they do not lose any money.  That takes away the argument of punishing them before their case is resolved.

But, in the Hardy case, there already has been a conviction.  So why is the NFL dragging its feet?  “If the NFL is saying there hasn’t been disposition (of the case), I think they’re ducking the issue,” Belmont Abbey law professor Steve Ward told Sports Illustrated. Ward, who is a former prosecutor in Charlotte, North Carolina, told SI that fewer than 5% of bench trials are appealed and Hardy is manipulating the system.

We all know that football is a violent sport.  But, that does not mean that it needs to be filled with men who abuse their family members.  The type of violence on the football field is not comparative to domestic violence.  Beating someone up is hardly the same as tackling a running back.  The league has a long roster of players who are what some would call “model citizens.”  It is this majority of players that are being disrespected by the NFL and the NFLPA.

The NFL and the NFLPA are going to keep their heads in the sand on this issue simply because deactivating these players, some of whom are vital pieces of their teams success, will only hurt the bottom line of their product.  And, until sponsors start saying enough is enough, the league will continue it pathetic path of inconsistent policy in these matters.

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I am going to not talk about Roger Goodell and his decisions concerning Ray Rice.  As you probably know, the Commissioner has given Ray Rice an indefinite suspension and the Baltimore Ravens have cut Ray Rice from the team.  All of this comes after the release of a second video, one inside the elevator showing Rice punching Janay Palmer, now Janay Rice.

Who saw what video and when is the question that everyone is asking.  The original two game suspension raised enough questions about how the NFL handles cases of domestic violence.  This new “evidence” only raises new questions.  On top of all of this, there are those who either reject Ray Rice for the violent domestic abuser he is, to those who defend him.  I honestly cannot believe that anyone in their right minds can defend Rice, but there are those who do.

What everyone is totally missing in this case is the fact that the video actually shows just how vicious domestic violence really is.  It further shows that when domestic violence happens, it is the victim who is questioned most by authorities, not the offender.  Questions usually begin with “what did you do to provoke the attack?”  That is not made up.  I have heard police ask that question myself.  I wanted to punch the officer who asked it, if truth be told.

There are other consequences that no one seems to be talking about.  When a woman is trapped in a domestic violence relationship, it is more than just the physical battering, which is undefendable in itself.  It is also a mental battering that the woman must endure.  Women face depression.  They face fear all of the time.  They fear not only for themselves, but for their children, if any.  It is a vicious cycle that never ends for the victim.

A lot of people who have never been exposed to such violence, or don’t know anyone who is victimized don’t understand why a woman will continue in a relationship with the batterer.  If you really want to see things as they are, go to the twitter feed #whyistayed to discover the reasons women give for staying in the relationship.  If you think the video was sickening, you really need to read these comments.

One of the most sickening reasons I read was a woman who said she stayed in her abusive relationship because the pastor of her church told her “god hates divorce.”  If I had been around, I would have asked that jerk if god loves beating the shit out of women?

There are many reasons women stay in these relationships.  Some experts call it “battered wife syndrome.”  The fact is that for whatever reason, the woman believes they have no alternative but to stay in the relationship.  You can usually tell just by looking at their faces when you get them to talk about the abuse they are suffering.

Yesterday after everything went down, Janay Rice tweeted the following:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend,” Palmer wrote. “If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels.  Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!”

Now, I am not going to question Janay Rice or her comments.  But, I have seen and heard this type of reaction before.  Here is a woman who is the victim of a vicious attack by her then fiancé, and she is putting the blame somewhere else.  That is typical behavior in these cases.

At “mensrights” idiots are saying that Rice was simply defending himself from an attack from Janay.  Of course, that is ridiculous.  When Janay Rice was punched, her head hit the rail in the elevator.  She could have died from this attack.  But, the part that really shows just how unaffected Rice was, was how he casually dragged her body from the elevator when the door opened.  If Rice had any real concern for her welfare, he would have pushed the emergency button in the elevator and asked for an ambulance to assist her.  He didn’t!

Or, you could look at the press conference the Baltimore Ravens held for Rice after his initial two-game suspension was handed out.  The Ravens were brazen enough to have Janay Rice sitting next to her husband.  She even said “I want to apologize for my part in this incident.”  I often wondered exactly who wrote those words for her.

I don’t know if Rice owns a gun.  But all too often, these domestic violence cases turn to murder if a gun is present in the home.  You don’t have to take my word for it either, there are plenty of statistics that prove this point.  Yet, the problem of domestic violence is all too often simply swept under the carpet by law enforcement and the courts.

This is not just and NFL problem.  It is a societal problem.  When victims are accused of “instigating” their own beatings, how can there be any justice?  How can the District Attorney who prosecuted this case in Atlantic City claim that no jail time was the proper justice for an aggravated felony assault?  We know that he had the video in the elevator.  Plus, he also was aware that Rice admitted punching Janay Rice in the face.  Yet he let him slide.

The scars the victims of domestic abuse carry last for years.  Sometimes, they never get over them.  Women don’t trust another partner.  I can hardly blame them for their distrust.  The real problem, and one that never seems to be talked about, is the fact that children who grow up in an abusive environment tend to become abusers themselves.

Domestic violence is a barbaric act that cannot be defended.  In real terms, it is the true definition of “domestic terrorism” that can be found.  I know what this does to women.  My wife was married before me.  She was a victim of domestic abuse.  It took me over twenty years to help heal most of the scars from that experience.  There are some scars that I know will never heal.

It is this vicious cycle that forces the government to pass legislation like the Violence Against Women Act.  Even then, there are those who opposed a simple bill like that.  The real sad part is that many women in Congress voted against it.  How can they justify their belief that it is unnecessary?  Especially, after seeing this sickening video.

This horrible situation is caused by the insistence that “men act like men.”  That phrase turns my stomach because it is saying that men are entitled to behave like the proverbial caveman.  All of this stupid machismo that is portrayed as “being a real man” is total bullshit!  It is also caused by the sick belief of many in the conservative Christian cult that women are subordinate to men.  That too is bullshit!

The real shame is that as long as society, especially men, condone this barbaric attitude about men, this problem will not go away.  And, that is the fault of any man who defends such behavior!

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There has been a lot of talk lately about Libertarianism in the Republican Party.  Everyone seems to think that Rand Paul is a Libertarian like his father, Ron Paul is.  However, most people who refer to Libertarianism don’t really know what that really means.  First off, if one is a true Libertarian, then one has to decide if he is a Capitalist Libertarian or a Socialist Libertarian.  There are wide differences between the two.  For example, the Capitalist Libertarians advocate for laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights such as land, water, infrastructure and others.  While Socialist Libertarians seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of means of production in favor of their common or cooperative ownership and management.  Then of course there is the minarchists who seek to abolish the state as an illegitimate political system.

I think it would be safe to say that those who claim to be Libertarians in the Republican Party wouldn’t consider themselves as Socialist Libertarians.  Nor, do I suppose they would be minarchists either.  I believe we can safely say that they are firmly entrenched in the Capitalist Libertarian wing.  Or, are they?

Libertarianism is based on the philosophy that individual liberty trumps government control.  There are a lot of ideas that Libertarianism have that fall in line with the current batch in the Republican Party.  There are also a lot of other items that fly in the face of true Libertarianism.  True Libertarianism believes that individuals and corporations are best suited to handle all of the economic problems in the world.  They believe that the government should play no role in business regulations.  After all, the people who are running the businesses know best.

This includes banking regulations.  Libertarians believe that all banks should be allowed to compete in anything they want.  Even though they were the main cause of the 2008 meltdown.  They believe that, although the ecology of the planet must be protected, they believe that the “owners” of the land are the best people to tend to it.  They believe that the government cannot and should not regulate pollution emissions or energy production.

Of course they also believe in “free trade” uninhibited by government regulations.  Oddly enough, they believe that people should be able to cross borders just like commodities.  They do call for some regulation at the borders to keep out criminals or others who would do the country harm, but they don’t seem to believe that immigration for the sake of work should be restricted.  Sounds like an open border to me.

Libertarians also believe that income taxes are illegal.  They advocate for the elimination of income and corporate taxes and they want the IRS abolished.  They don’t say how they plan to pay for their “limited” government, but definitely won’t be through income taxes.

Finally, they firmly believe that the government has no role in regulating wages or bargaining rights.  They say that corporations have the right to bargain with unions or not.  There should be no minimum wage law because it is the responsibility of each person to “negotiate” wages with the owners of corporations.

With all of this in mind, some current Republicans can call themselves Capitalist Libertarians.  But, there is a whole lot more to Libertarian philosophy than simply economic issues.  There are social issues as well.  This is where the current crop of Republican Libertarians depart from the Libertarian philosophy.

For example, true libertarians believe that if a person wants to use what is now defined as illegal drugs, they should be allowed to do so.  They want the “war on drugs” ended and all drug use made legal.  They also firmly believe that what a person does with his or her body is nobody’s business but the person.  This includes abortion.  Libertarians believe it is up to the individual to determine if abortion is right for them.  The government should have no role in allowing or disallowing abortion rights.

Libertarians also believe that consenting adults have the right to engage in sex or marriage with whomever they wish.  They are for same-sex marriage and say that the government has no right to deny civil liberties to same-sex couples.  All they want the government to do is recognize a marriage as a marriage regardless of who the parties are.

They are also against interventionist wars.  They only want a military of sufficient size to defend the country against aggression.  They are totally against intervening in foreign wars or troubles.  Basically, when it comes to military intervention, they are isolationists.  Let the world burn as long as it doesn’t affect us.

These are just some of the things that true Libertarians stand for.  Problem is, that there are very few real Libertarians in this country.  Like other groups, they like to cherry-pick the items they like and throw out the ones they don’t like.  But, since Libertarianism seems to be a hot button in the Republican Party, more and more are trying to align themselves with Libertarian philosophies.

The number one person in the party that is acclaimed to be a Libertarian is Rand Paul.  The only reason he is considered to be a Libertarian is because he is the son of Ron Paul.  Ron Paul was probably as close to a real Libertarian as anyone I know.  He even ran for president as the Libertarian Party candidate.  But, lineage is as close to a comparison as Rand can get to Ron in terms of Libertarianism.  Rand Paul is simply a right-wing conservative who is trying his best to masquerade as a Libertarian.

All you need to do is look at his speeches.  He waffles back and forth on issues like a wind-blown leaf.  First he is for immigration reform, then he is against it, then he is for it, and then he is against it.  It is the same on every issue he talks about.  Remember the “run and hide” gambit he did in Iowa?  When a “dreamer” wanted to talk to him and Rep. King, Paul almost choked on his hamburger and ran away.

I actually feel sorry for the Libertarian Party.  They have to stand on the sidelines and watch these con artists act like they are Libertarians when everyone who knows anything about Libertarianism realizes they are not.  When it comes to economic issues like abolishing government regulations, privatizing public schools, eliminating departments like the EPA, OSHA, and the Department of Education, right-wing Republicans are similar to Libertarians.  When it comes to social issues, the right-wing Republicans are totally opposite.

I think that whenever we hear about a Libertarian movement in the Republican Party, we only need to know that it is nothing more than a publicity stunt to gain ink.  There is no Libertarian movement in the Republican Party.  Like everything else, they are merely cherry-picking things they like and pretending to be something they are not.  Maybe the acronym GOP should stand for “Grand Old Pretenders.”

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School is beginning.  As we know, there have been a lot of pieces about college rape.  Unfortunately, there have been too many fluff pieces that actually make the victim out to be the guilty party.  This phenomenon has made talking about rape even harder than it has always been.  Now Bloomberg has joined the chorus of men being taken advantage of by the rape issue.

Their headline declared that the hookup culture was waning “amid assault alarm.”  They seem to think that there is a massive hookup culture that is the root cause of these rape allegations.  But, Last year, a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association found that less than 30 percent of college students had more than one partner in the previous year. Which about equals data from surveys taken over the last twenty years. This means, as Time’s Maia Szalavits noted at the time, college students “aren’t hooking up more than they ever were, or even more than their parents did.”

Not to be swayed by these facts, the Bloomberg piece says:

Sex and relationships are always tricky terrain for college students. Those arriving this year are finding schools awash in complaints and headlines about sexual assault and responding with programs aimed at changing campus culture that has been blamed for glorifying dorm-bed conquests, excusing rape and providing a safe haven for assailants. For many young men, it’s an added dimension in a campus scene that already appears daunting, said William Pollack, a Harvard Medical School psychologist.

Pollack said a patient recently told him about making out with a girl at a party. Things were going fine, the student said, when suddenly a vision of his school’s disciplinary board flew into his head.

“‘I want to go to law school or medical school after this,’” Pollack said, recounting the student’s comments. “‘I said to her, it’s been nice seeing you.’”

And here again is the trouble with how we talk about sex, consent and sexual violence in the United States. There are so many ways to flirt and have really enjoyable casual sex without being predatory, but we never talk about them. Part of the problem is that the importance of listening to the person you are interested in having sex with isn’t being taught in schools.  Nor is being alert to non-verbal cues.  So we get a vacuum about relationships and healthy sexuality.  That vacuum gets filled by wackos like George Will, Caitlin Flanagan and the people on Fox News who can scream the loudest saying that much of what is called sexual assault is actually just “regretted sex,” a product of the ambiguities of the hookup culture.

But it is more than just a lack of proper education in schools.  It is down to pop culture as well.  It is also down to the antiquated religious beliefs of man’s entitlement!  The very idea that a man is entitled to whatever he wants, and a woman’s place is to be subordinate to a man, is at the heart of this problem.  How can we expect men to behave properly when they are subjected to years of this “a woman is subject” to a man theory?  It has been proven that men who objectify women are more likely to coerce a woman into having sex and/or raping them if they don’t submit.

During my life I have heard all kinds of “definitions” of what it is to be a man.  It is rare that any of these definitions include the phrase that a “woman is an equal” in life.  I have been married for a long time.  Yes, I do sometimes say “my wife.”  But, I never mean that she “belongs” to me or that she is “property” of mine.  She has been a partner in life.

Women are not objects.  They are not property.  They are people who deserve the same consideration that men deserve.  It is stupid pieces like Bloomberg that have men basically viewing their female peers as rape bombs just waiting to explode and ruin their lives. “Some men feel that too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault has been put on their shoulders,” according to one of the men interviewed for the piece.

The Bloomberg piece is mostly framed to support the idea that women cry rape and that asking men to assume any responsibility to prevent sexual assault is asking too much.  Of course, the Bloomberg piece also doesn’t mention that rape in committed by men.  Rape is a violent crime against a person.  It is not something that is an entitlement because a woman is supposed to be subordinate to a man.

I wrote once before that if you asked a man what he would do if his daughter or wife was raped, you would probably hear something like “I would kill the bastard!”  But, if ask you the same man what he thinks about his son being charged with rape, you would probably hear something like  “She asked for it”, or “The bitch probably had it coming!”

This is the attitude that needs to be changed before rape is treated as the violent crime it is.  This is the attitude that makes the victim the guilty party in a rape case.  This is what it looks like when women are treated as objects and not as people!

 

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We are getting close to the end of the August recess for Congress.  The mid-term elections are just a few months away.  The Republicans are fighting hard to win control of the Senate.  They need 5 seats to win the majority in the upper chamber.  In the next couple of months, the election season will begin anew and the fight will get real nasty.

Most of us have already come to the conclusion that a Republican controlled congress would not be good for the government.  With President Obama still in office, we can be sure that the veto pen will be in heavy use.  We also figure that the Republicans will continue their assault on personal liberties in the name of “liberty”.

But, Mitch McConnell has come out and laid the groundwork for a Republican controlled Senate.  I guess he wanted to make sure the Tea Party was fully aware of his plan to run the Senate and destroy the country.  I don’t say that lightly either.  The plan he laid out will definitely destroy the country.

Interviewed by Politico aboard his campaign bus, the Senate minority leader offered his vision for the Senate should he be promoted to majority leader: confrontation, manufactured crises, and the ever-present threat of a government shutdown:

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

“Move to the center” is a real nice catch phrase.  But, what it really entails is that the President and the country will be held hostage again and again under a Republican controlled Senate.  The tactic is quite simple.  Add bogus riders to legislation so the President has no option but veto the bill.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the “line item veto” the Republicans thought was so wonderful as unconstitutional, there is no longer any other measure to stop their radical agenda.  If moving to the center is such a great idea, why doesn’t Mitch McConnell “move to the center?”

According to Mr. McConnell’s plan, seniors, the poor, vets, and anyone who depends upon the government will be held hostage by the Republican Senate in order to get what they want.  You know, like the last government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act.  There are going to be a whole lot of ugly legislation proposed by a Republican Senate.  They will attack Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, WIP, Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance, Woman’s Rights, Welfare, Same Sex Marriage, etc.  You can bet that under a Republican controlled congress, the debt ceiling will be blocked and we will default on our debt.  That alone will destroy our currency since it is based on the full faith and promise of the U.S. Government.

Other things will also be under attack.  They will go after the Department of Education.  They will try to eliminate the EPA.  They will make sure all “free trade agreements” are passed quickly without debate, meaning thousands more jobs will be exported.  They will push for their donor’s tax cuts they promise all of the time.  They will try to open up drilling in all of the national parks.  They will do everything they can to eliminate any subsidies for clean energy while increasing them for the oil companies.  They will try to pass legislation eliminating the Federal Minim Wage Law.

These are just a handful of their pet projects, and you can be sure there will be flurry of activity by a Republican Senate to make them real.  Of course, the Immigration Reform Bill will die completely.  The Transportation and Infrastructure Bill will die completely.  And, a Personhood Amendment will surely be introduced.  They will also push for another war in Iraq and one in Syria.  Don’t be surprised if they even pass a formal declaration of war against both countries in an attempt to force the President into war again.

Well, there you have it.  Mitch McConnell is planning to take hostages, shut down the government, and basically destroy the country.  That is his plan if the Republicans win control of the Senate.  And, he said so himself!  If you think that the gridlock in Washington is bad now, wait until McConnell gets control of the Senate.

If the Democrats don’t use this as a fighting point and make hay out of it, then it is possible for it to happen.  They need to make sure all of the states who are holding Senate elections understand just what they are in for if the Republicans win control of the Senate.  If the Republicans win, it just might turn out that Mitch McConnell and his cronies will be able to do what the Russians were unable to do.  Bury us!

 

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I think it is fair to say that all too often, justice is not blind.  At least it isn’t blind in terms of race, sexual orientation, or other factors.  Too often, the color of the people involved in an incident helps determine who is guilty and who is not.  There are exceptions of course, but I think that race plays a big role in determining who is to be arrested and who is not.  Who is allowed to “fear for his life” and who is not.

Wednesday, Matt Zoller Seitz shared a story to illustrate how white privilege kept him from getting arrested or otherwise harmed by the police after he started a fight on the street.  The piece is worth reading.  But, it is really interesting the conversation he had with the police when they arrived.  Matt Seitz admits in his story that he instigated the fight with an Hispanic man outside a deli.

After telling the two white officers that he had confronted the guy and punched him in the face after the stranger jabbed him in the chest with his fingers, the cops asked Zoller Seitz if he wanted to press charges for assault:

“I don’t think he actually meant to touch me, though,” I said, while a voice deep inside me said, Stupid white boy, he’s making it plain and you’re not getting it.

“It doesn’t matter if he meant to touch you, he hit you first,” he said. He was talking to me warmly and patiently, as you might explain things to a child. Wisdom was being imparted.

“You were in fear of your life,” he added.

By now the adrenaline fog seemed to be lifting. I was seeing things in a more clinical way. The violence I had inflicted on this man was disproportionate to the “assault,” and the tone of this exchange with the cop felt conspiratorial.

And then it dawned on me, Mr. Slow-on-the-Uptake, what was really happening: this officer was helping me Get My Story Straight.

Understanding, at long last.

Zoller Seitz even admitted that when the police arrived, he had the stranger on the ground in a chokehold.  Which most reasonable people might conclude that he was the attacker.  But, while Zoller Seitz was speaking with the police, the stranger was being held face down on the sidewalk and handcuffed.  In the end, Zoller Seitz was allowed to go home.  He does not know what happened to the stranger he admittedly attacked.

This is important to remember.  There is a grand jury being seated in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Wilson.  If this case does go to trial, it would be apparent that at some point the notion that Wilson could have reasonably feared for his life during his confrontation with Brown.  Witnesses at the scene have said that Brown had his hands in their air to surrender.  Others, mostly other police officers, hint that Brown charged Wilson so the resulting shooting was a result of physical confrontation.

I wrote in an earlier piece this year that the called “stand your ground” laws would cause more trouble than they were worth.  Remember the case of George Zimmerman, who is white and Latino, after he killed Trayvon Martin?  His lawyers got him off by using the “afraid for his life” argument.  In the case of Theodore Warfare, the jury came back with a different result.  In that case, Renisha McBride, who had arrived on his porch seeking help after a car accident was shot and killed through a locked screen door.  The defense in that case claimed that the loud knocking so alarmed their client that he felt he had no other choice but to shoot her.  Fortunately, this jury didn’t buy the “afraid for his life” argument.

Then there is the case of Marissa Alexander, a black mother in Florida.  A man with a documented history of physical violence, a man who told Alexander that he was going to kill her, did not present a credible threat. Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray, broke down the door of the bathroom where she was hiding during a domestic violence incident. He grabbed her by the throat, and choked her as he held her against the floor. Alexander then tried to escape through the garage, but found herself trapped when the door wouldn’t open. She returned to the house having retrieved her handgun from her car and fired at a wall near where Gray stood. No one was harmed. But when Alexander tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law in her defense, she was denied. Twice. According to State Attorney Angela Corey, Alexander was “not in fear” but “angry” when she fired the warning shot. She now faces up to 60 years in prison.

It isn’t just color that defines who is allowed the “fear for his life” argument.  Luke O’Donovan, a white queer activist in Georgia, was last week sentenced to two years in prison and eight years of probation after he used his pocket knife to stab five men who had confronted him in an alleged anti-LGTBQ hate crime in 2012. Donovan was stabbed three times.  Apparently if you are gay in Georgia, being stabbed three times is not a sufficient “fear for his life” argument.

These are just a few examples of how our justice system is not as blind as people would have us believe.  Color, sexual orientation, race, even religious beliefs are all factors in determining who is being blamed and who gets off.  Zoller Seitz’s story is very telling.  Especially when compared to these other incidents.  The straight white guy got a break.  The others did not.  It makes us wonder just how the case in Ferguson will turn out.  But, one thing is for certain.  As long as white privilege is a reality, more Fergusons will happen.

Until we, as a society, come to terms with this phenomenon nothing will change.  If we do come to terms with it, then maybe we will have a society where justice was truly blind!

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Maybe we should give half props to FOX News.  For a long time now, they have been crying that there is a war on religion in America.  They are half right.  Of course, they claim it is a war on Christianity.  That is the part they have wrong.  The real war on religion is being waged by the Conservative Christian Cult against everyone else.

The Cult is truly amazing in cherry-picking the parts of religious beliefs that they will accept.  They then denounce everyone else as heretics because their religious beliefs don’t jive with the Cult’s.  There are lots of examples which we will discuss.  The main point is that in their zeal to “convert” the world to their way of thinking, they are willing to shred the right to practice your religious beliefs as guaranteed in the First Amendment.  Some have even gone so far as to say the First Amendment only applies to Christian beliefs.  Even if that were true, which it is not, they are still violating the First Amendment because they continue to persecute other Christians.

This year the Supreme Court ruled that “buffer zones” established by states in front of abortion clinics were not legal.  They believe that if a woman wants to get an abortion, the Cult has the right to attempt to interfere with that process, even going so far as to accost women and employees of the clinic to even get inside in peace.  I suppose that means that if a group of people show up in front of a Cult church and started accosting those attending services, that would also be legal.  I would love to see a group try that angle.

Imagine a group of protesters standing in front of a Cult church screaming to the attendees that they are devil worshipers, or other such nonsense.  Even going so far as to trying to block their entrance into the church “for their own good”.  I don’t think it would be too long before the police were summoned to get rid of the protesters.  The Cult believe they can do whatever they want, but no one else can use their tactics.

The fight over abortion is purely a religious fight.  Whether you believe abortion is “right or wrong” is totally down to religious belief.  The Cult says life begins and therefore the fetus is a person upon fertilization.  Other people with religious beliefs don’t think that way.  That is what the abortion fight is all about.  One narrow view of life against other views of life.

The Cult doesn’t want you to know this.  They try to make it out to be “protecting the unborn person”.  That is what all of these “personhood amendments” they keep trying to get passed is all about.  They are trying to force their religious belief on everyone else.  That in a word is “religious persecution”.

There are a lot of people who consider themselves to be good Christians who favor the right to have an abortion.  But the Cult has labeled them as Christians in Name only.  A favorite catch phrase of theirs.  If a woman’s religious beliefs tells her it is okay to have an abortion, denying her that right is religious persecution.  There is simply no other way to look at it.

There are several states with laws and/or State Constitutional Amendments banning same-sex marriage.  Yet, many churches and religions recognize same-sex marriage.  The Cult says “NO, that is the same as bestiality”.  What nonsense.  The whole premise of the Cult’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage, is again wrapped up in their narrow view of what is in their beloved bible.  Other Christians and other faiths, don’t subscribe to that narrow view.

Therefore, if two people of the same-sex decide they want to get married, and their religious beliefs say that is okay, denying them the right to be married is religious persecution.  Sorry, but the Cult’s argument that the others are “simply wrong” doesn’t cut it.  They are persecuting other beliefs only because they differ from theirs.  The Cult even tried to get legislation passed that would allow them to discriminate against gay couples in normal business affairs.  Again, religious persecution.

Not only that, the Cult is famous for its hypocrisy.  Take the case of  Tennessee. Rep. Scott DesJarlais who is running for his third term for Congress as a “family values” guy.  He recently won his primary for reelection despite the fact that DesJarlais has a long history showing that while he firmly believes women should have to lose their basic human rights in the name of family values, he, as a man, has never shown any interest in making even the tiniest sacrifice for those same values.

It seems that he believes women who are facing an unwanted pregnancy that could derail their lives should suck it up and be made to suffer in the name of “life.” But when faced with the prospect of an unintended pregnancy that could hurt him, he suddenly became a big fan of abortion. It has been reported that DesJarlais encouraged, some would even say badgered his mistress to get an abortion during his first marriage. He also supported his first wife’s abortions.  Yet, he believes that he can run on a pro-life platform.  Apparently the Cult members in Tennessee agree with him.

The Hobby Lobby case proves this point even further.  The Cult member owners of the company claim to have “deeply held religious” beliefs about certain forms of contraception.  They argued in court that they shouldn’t be required to provide those forms of contraception in their health plans for employees.  SCOTUS said absolutely right.

Yet, there are many women who work at Hobby Lobby who believe all forms of contraception are perfectly fine.  Their religious beliefs do not forbid them from using them.  As a result, these woman are being persecuted for their religious beliefs by a company that claims to have deeply held religious beliefs.  Problem is their religious beliefs trump those of their employees.  What else can you call it but religious persecution?

These are just a few examples of religious persecution that is ongoing in America.  FOX was correct in pointing out that it exists.  They were just wrong in who is actually perpetrating this persecution.  In my view, the fanaticism of the Cult’s persecution of the “non-believers” is very similar to other fanatical groups.  So, the next time you hear the Cult scream about religious persecution, remember it is them waging war against your religious beliefs, not the other way around.

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