Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Sean Bell Verdict & The Stupid Arguments used to justify it

People who support the cops in this case, almost universally get key facts wrong, AND they make justifications for the shooting that-well, aren't good reasons someone should be killed.

Why do people get so many facts wrong? The media hasn't done a good job of reporting all of the facts of the case clearly, the case is a bit complicated, and people who think this incident is justified are probably more likely to believe most things police do are justified anyway (particularly when those things are only happening to people of color). Not surprisingly, the things that were omitted or under reported in the case lean towards a cop friendly, if murky, view of events and I don't think that is a coincidence.

In my view, most of these stupid arguments are thinly veiled covers for racist beliefs. The racist beliefs I speak of have a line of logic that connects Blackness (or Browness) to criminality. There is the conservative version of this logic: They're all criminals anyway, if one of 'em gets killed by accident, thats what happens when you send in the good guys to tame the savages. Then there is it's liberal cousin: In high crime areas the police simply
have to be more aggressive and these incidents, though unfortunate, are part of the price we (read: People of color) pay for making the city safe for everyone (read: Not People of color).

Just to be clear, I think that for the first time in my life, MOST white people have found a case of police brutality that shocks the senses enough to think excessive force was used in this case. However, because there are black officers in the case, some have expressed the feeling that it simply cannot be about race. This view, a widely held misconception about the nature of racism, has manifested itself often enough that I will have to devote another post (or blog!) to address this properly.

Here are the major stupid arguments.

Stupid argument 1: What were they (Sean Bell & co.) doing at a bad Bar, loaded with criminals, drugs, and prostitutes?

Response: Uh, having fun at a bachelor party, which may have included getting a blowjob or worse *gasp* intercourse? Lets put it like this, if paying for a blowjob were grounds enough to be murdered (by the police no less), Eliot Spitzer would be dead and a sizeable portion of the rethuglican party wouldn't be around either, albeit for blowjobs
given to male prostitutes, but who's counting? The people who make SA1, couldnt possibly believe this, I think these arguments are thrown out to cover for their racist belief in dangerous black men, and the need to tame them at all costs. "They shouldn't have been there in the first place" is not a justifiable reason for people to be shot and murdered and anyone with good sense knows it.

Stupid argument 2: Some variation of "the police have a difficult and dangerous job" and that when they kill people we should accept it because their job is so hard.

Response: If they cannot handle the responsibility that comes with walking around with a gun, stepping
into conflicts, and risking their lives, DONT FUCKING SIGN UP!!!! Its quite simple, there is no draft, and none of these men or women were forced into this profession. The fact that you have a difficult job with tough life-or-death decisions to make, is something you choose when you join the academy. Growing up in a poor community is very tough too. Its tough not to fall victim to the allure of gangs, drugs, or various other criminal lifestyles, YET, the police don't take that into consideration when policing those neighborhoods, and the courts dont take it into consideration when sentencing those who fell victim to the gravitational pull of the streets. Your job is tough, but you chose it, if you dont like it, choose something else; (if only it were so easy for the ghetto child his/her way out). Don't do your job haphazardly and expect sympathy because its difficult. I acknowledge the job is hard, but I dont accept the difficulty of your job as an excuse to take away my life. And lets be clear, I am Sean Bell in so many ways that this shit enrages me and frightens me at the same time.

Stupid Argument 3: But they thought they saw someone reach for a gun thats why they fired.

Response: Funny how that always happens isn't it? Let me tell you a story about fear. When I was 12, I rode the train scared to death because at the time a youth gang called 'the Decepticons' were running wild in the city, and the horror stories were swirling like vultures over the death of my innocence. In my pre-teen mind they were the equivalent of a South American death squad (funded by the USA of course). Against this backdrop a real tough looking dude walks onto the train, I look at his hand go in his bag and come out with a gun. As it turns out, it was a $5 dollar umbrella, not a gun, but I almost died of a heart attack before I realized it. Fear can make you see things that aren't there. I was 12, and I was shook. If you are a cop whose fear causes you to assume that every black man's gesture is a possible move for a weapon, you pose a threat to public safety and have no business walking around with a gun. It is ok to be afraid of people and situations, but it is not ok to kill people because you are afraid and if you are that afraid then policing was a bad career move for you and is downright hazardous for people who look like me.

Respone 2: Now I'm wondering what exactly does a reach for a gun look like? How is it different from a reach for a cell phone, or a wallet? Do the police undergo special reach training where they can interpret the various objects that a person is reaching for before the object is revealed? Obviously there is no way to tell what someone is reaching for, so when the police say they thought someone was reaching for a gun, they are imagining things, they are adding variables into an equation that are not there. You should not be able to kill someone because you think they are reaching for something that is not there. This reaching for a gun argument needs to be put to rest. Unless you can see a gun, or someone tells you they are reaching for a gun, or you KNOW someone has a gun, you have absolutely no way to tell if someone is reaching for a gun or not. More importantly, in this case, I do not believe anyone was reaching for anything. We know there was no gun, not "no gun was found" as all of the papers say, there was NO FUCKING GUN! I believe it was an excuse made up after the fact, to justify the shooting. This reaching for a gun argument is the police version of the favored excuse among homicide defendants 'the gun just went off'.

Bottom line:
The police are supposed to risk their lives to save ours, not risk our lives to save yours. That means that even if he
was reaching for something, you already have a gun drawn and aimed, you have the drop, and that should give you enough time to determine if what said person was reaching for was a gun or not. Dont police train for this type of thing?!?! Yes they do, but as I said, there was no gun and no plausible explanation for why anyone would be reaching for anything .

Stupid Argument 4: All of the victims had prior criminal convictions.

Response: Its difficult for me to address such an asinine argument without getting upset. What exactly does what someone did in the past, have to do with why they were shot? First, the police did not know any of this about the victims unless they were wearing their rap sheets on their heads. Second, the people who make these kinds of arguments seek to blame the victims and lessen the value of their humanity, something that most Americans do automatically when the victims are young black males anyway. This is one of many arguments that stupid people use to blame the victims for being shot. Ironically, these same people are outraged when someone makes the connection between 9/11 and U.S. foreign policy of the last 30 years; and that aint even blaming the victim, thats connecting the dots.

Incorrect Argument 1 (IA1): They were killed for driving the car at a cop using it as a deadly weapon.

Response: This argument isn't stupid it is wrong. The police have explicitly NOT used this defense precisely because they are trained NOT to fire at moving cars. Therefore, IA1 is factually incorrect on 2 levels, shooting at this car in this case would not have been a legal justification and the police never claimed to have fired because the car was moving. Again, they claimed one of the passengers was reaching for a gun that he didn't have.

I'm sure stupid people are thinking of other stupid and factually incorrect arguments to support their indifference to the loss of black life, so I have to stop here; but not before showing the irony of stupid logic:

1. Its OK, for the police to shoot and kill because they think a black guy is reaching for a gun.
2. Its not OK, for some black guys to be afraid and try to drive off when they see another black guy who actually HAS a gun.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, April 25, 2008
Sean Bell Verdict: What 31 shots looks like
I cant begin to describe how this makes me feel. I'm gonna get into the details of this whole incomprehensible situation later, but I wanna put this out there first. Michael Oliver, pictured above, fired 31 shots. That means he emptied his clip, dropped the magazine, loaded another clip and emptied that full clip too!! Is that not enough time to figure out that no one is shooting at you? Heres the reenactment that was used in the trial. A jury would have convicted these cops for something, thats why they opted not to have one. I literally was screaming at my screen when I watched this: "THIS IS FUCKING CRAZY!!!"

Answer one question after watching this.
Between the first shot and the last, was there a chance to realize that NOBODY IS SHOOTING BACK?

Update added on April 29:

This is what the man in the above video testified to in court.
"My finger was getting worn out," said Alexander Jason, who was put on the stand to counter accusations the cops were trigger-happy. "It took a lot of effort to pull that trigger."

Jason, who tested the weapons that killed Bell, said triggers on NYPD weapons are calibrated to make them harder to pull - and thus avoid accidentally spraying dozens of bullets at a target.

"Each time you fired your weapon, you had to do so of your own volition?" prosecutor Peter Reese asked. "You had to squeeze a trigger each time."

"The gun performance doesn't change," Jason answered. "But my finger performance was changing."

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008
If I Ruled the World: Snoop would be 'retired'
In an interview with the guardian Snoop Dogg, once again reminded me why the mere mention of his name upsets my mood. I applaud the reporter, who is a Jewish woman btw, for her presence of mind on a point that the mainstream media often misses:
Taking women dressed in diamond collars and leads down the red carpet at awards shows has been labelled hip-hop behaviour, when it's really just recycled blaxploitation imagery and misogynist buffoonery - to say nothing of Snoop's other confused political views.

What confused politcal views you ask?

The KKK gave Obama money...They was one of his biggest supporters. Why wouldn't they be? The media won't tell you that. They don't want you to know that. They just want you to know that this nigga befriended this other nigga who be threatening your values. But we all know all presidents lie to get into fucking office. That's they job.

I started to say, see THIS is why white people say the racist-and then I caught myself. This is fodder for the racists, but truthfully they didn't need it. White supremacy was clicking on all cylinders well before we had any negro entertainers whoring themselves for corporations that are ostensibly in the business of making music. However, it is no less true that in a racist society, when one negro does or says some incredibly stupid shit, his foolishness serves to tarnish (even in some small way) all of us. It still pains me to hear this negro talk about anything. Why wont he just fade into the fucking sunset? Or into the actual sun? Instead he says this about Clinton:
He was closest we gonna get to the first black president. He related to black needs and black values, black understanding and racism. He from Little Rock, Arkansas. That's a black-dominated world. He was part of us. That's why every day was happy when he was in office. It was just the funnest time in the world. Everything worked.

WTF is he talking about?!?!? Little Rock is a black dominated world? Bill Clinton is in tune with black understanding and racism? Well, actually he's halfway right on that one, Bill is in tune with racism, just not in the way Snoop meant it. I wish I were there to remind this simple ass negro that he was on trial for murder in 1993 during Bill Clinton's first term, which, i remember to not be the funniest time in the world for him; but I suppose it wouldn't matter. I'm speaking in terms of logic and he's speaking his native toungue: coonise. We simply wouldn't be communicating.

If I ruled the world I would have retired this brother a long long time ago, mafia style. I'd make him an offer he couldn't refuse. No more music, no more videos, no more TV shows, and certainly no more interviews, or you'll do no more breathing. At least in the music there is often a layer of protection between the public and Snoop's 'thoughts' on issues, but in interviews, it is raw unadulterated coonousity (couldn't resist one more conjugation of the word coon). The time and resources spent interviewing him could be better spent interviewing me, or any number of my friends/bloggers, OR doing nothing at all!!

To be fair, Snoop does do some positive things in the community, and I for one, recognized his song, Vatos, as an important attempt to heal the often deadly Black-Mexican relations in LA; BUT, its not enough. When Snoop promotes, misogny, debauchery, gang culture and other random acts of coonery on a global stage, it does far more damage than a kiddie footbal league, or 1 song about black-brown unity could ever undo. If I ruled the world, Snoop would be at home with his wife and kids, and not in the public eye influencing youth, or convincing casual racists that they have a point.

Of course I could just finish my own damn album before I'm 60 and irrelevant, and counteract much of this Hip Hop foolishness by showcasing my own brilliance on the mic. As a matter of fact, while I wait for you all to make me ruler of the word, I think I'll do that.

Labels: , ,

If I Ruled the World: A License to Parent

[This is a part 1 of what is going to be an ongoing series called: If I ruled the world. I write this in hopes that I will inspire you, to join me, in helping me, rule the world. Thanks. ;) ]

In this country, it seems like you need a license to do virtually anything. Plumbers, Barbers, Nail technicians, Drivers, Doctors, Teachers, and many other professions need licenses to do what they do. In a civilized society (whatever that is) one of the most important purposes for licensing is to protect the public from unskilled, untrained and perhaps unethical individuals who can harm or kill people through their incompetence. Ironically, of all of these jobs, the hardest job you’ll probably ever get doesn’t require a license or an education, and you can even get this job completely by accident: Parenting.

Licenses are largely about public safety, so If I ruled the world, anyone who has a child would have to get a license in order to raise that child. Yes, a parenting license. I mean, is parenting not a public safety issue? Don't bad parents pose a threat to the well being of their children? Isn't a poorly raised child more likely to pose a threat to our well-being? I think we are mostly in denial about how widespread bad parenting is, which is part of a larger denial of how much harm is done to kids in this society.

I think a license to parent is in order. The hospital won’t let you take your baby home without a car seat, but if you think cheese doodles, 2nd hand smoke and the sight of periodic violence are a healthy child environment, then you hurry up and take that baby home; just make sure he's buckled in!! If I ruled the world: No license, no takey home baby from hospital, umkay? The ability to ejaculate or the possession of a pair of functioning ovaries, does not give you the right to ruin the life of a human baby, and ruin the lives of us all once your poorly raised child becomes a menace II society. Bad parenting is a form of child abuse.

Just to be clear, I want to say that this idea is as much about the ghetto mother yelling at her 4 year old son like he’s a grown man, as it is also about the middle class parent who tries to be a friend instead of a parent. This is also about the rich parent who provides all of the material things but never learned the value of a hug, or learned that time spent with your child can actually help you and the child become better people. And fathers need to know about the affects of their absence before it happens, so that they can make an informed decision when they are considering leaving a child's life. These are just a handful of the scenarios I'd try address through the Parent Licensing Bureau

The Licensing process
Once you arrive at the Parent Licensing Bureau (PLB) you will take classes that cover:
1. What to expect as a new parent
2. What items you will need and/or find useful (give them some of these items)
3. Survey of documented approaches to parenting that work.

Number 3 is the most controversial, because we have to establish the difference between 'good' and 'bad' parenting and that could be difficult to do in a multiethnic society like the U.S.A. By 'bad' parenting I mean, things that negatively impact a child's, physical, mental and emotional well-being. By 'good' parenting I mean things that help a child become a fully developed human being with a chance to succeed (insofar as society will let her/him).

Like most any human activity, we can establish some ‘best practices’ for parenting too. Put the money and resources into dealing with how children are treated in society. Let people know, neglect, verbal abuse, poor diet, and many other things are forms of child abuse. I know there is research out there that speaks to methods of parenting that have proven effective most of the time and I know it makes sense for everyone who has a baby to be exposed to this information. They don't necessarily have to choose any of the methods offered to them, they just ought to be made aware of what traditionally has worked.

Well, as it turns out, I wasn’t the first person to think of this, Dr. Westman actually wrote a book about this, here are some notes on it, its quite interesting.

Who's with me?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 20, 2008
Father Pfleger ethers a random Faux News 'Reporter'

Father Pfleger gave this Faux News reporter all that he could handle. This video is for Rev. Wright, what this video was for Obama. But its still so much more. He makes so many thoughtful, well reasoned points, about Rev. Wright, Farrakhan, Martin Luther King, and racist media hypocrisy that I dont even need to write about them, you just have to see this. Faux News has this tagged as 'web exclusive', which is a really clever way of saying, we wont be airing this shit, EVER. This is a must see!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Uncle Killa

This short film is an adaptation of a feature length sceenplay I'm still working on. It was adapted by my fellow Hampton University Alum, and Columbia film school student, William T. Sutphin. Google Video link here, please rate and post comments.
This 15 minute film, follows 'Kai' who comes home from prison and tries to get his nephews life on the right track, while struggling with his own.
Based on a story written by Kai Pettaway.
Adapted by William Sutphin and Kai Pettaway.
Produced & Directed by William Sutphin
BTW, yes my name is Kai, no I am not in the film, and no this is not a film about my life. Enjoy.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Racism & Smoking Guns

Catherine Donnelly, recently recounted how she and her mother were horrified that she was placed in a room with a black woman, in her first day as a freshman in Princeton University. In the article she explains that her mom ran to the school office demanding her daughter be moved out of the room with that black girl because they "weren’t used to living with black people." That black girl was Michelle Obama (then Michelle Robinson). The article goes on to say that a friendship never developed [surprise] in spite of how funny and smart she thought Michelle was, and that after the room (that her mom requested) became available she left and the two never had a meaningful conversation again. Why is this important you ask?

I think the revelations in this article are important because Michelle Obama has been painted as some kind of anti-American, Black revolutionary because of her thesis and some other remarks that she’s made. The notion that her experiences with racism may have shaped her perception of America as something less than glowing, hasn’t seemed to enter into the popular dialogue at all. I believe that is so because many white people do not think racism exists in this country. I have come to find that many (thought not all) whites seem to need a smoking gun when it comes to accepting claims of racism (this phenomena is decades old it is called white denial). It seems that absent proof that someone used the N-word or committed some other overt act of personal bigotry, many whites have a hard time believing that racism still exists.

Well, here it is folks, Michelle Obama’s first college roommate came from a long line of racists, and Catherine Donnelly admits that her mom and grandmother filled her head with “with racist stereotypes, portraying African-Americans as prone to crime, uneducated and, at times, people to be feared” Here is the smoking gun.

I was excited when I read the article because rare is it that a person comes forward and admits so candidly their family history of racism and bigotry. I really appreciated their honesty and respected their courage.; and wish them well on their desire to evolve into better human beings. But more importantly, I hoped that the media discussion of this would prove that Michelle Obama's views on racism in this country were vindicated, that is, I hoped the confessions of a racist bigot, might serve to put the black perspective on race, into a context that made sense. After all, isn't perfectly reasonable to feel anger, resentment, and frustration when you've been mistreated solely because of the color of your skin? Well that media discussion hasn't happened, and many of my friends think I'm crazy for expecting it to. Maybe I am crazy?

Maybe not. Catherine Donnelly’s mother has already said this with regards to Rev. Wrights remarks:

"If I had been treated the same way blacks have been treated," she says, "I'd be resentful, too."

I’d say that most conscious black folks aren’t the super patriotic, god bless America types, because it simply doesn’t jibe with our experiences in a society that is often racist, and always in denial of it. I was hoping to see this unfold in the national media, because with material like this, we could well be on our way to a real dialogue about racism in this country. However, thus far, I get the feeling that this story is going to be blacked out. Pun intended. Instead, like Catherine Donnelly as a freshman, America will have missed out on yet another great oppurtunity to begin moving foward.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 12, 2008
Fuck the Pope!!

I dont mean that literally, I do not want to fuck the pope. Not that I think he'd mind. I say 'fuck the pope' as in I have zero respect for this dude. What this guy did when he was the cardinal, was write a letter to parishes saying that they should hide any evidence of sexual abuse for up to 10 years after the victims turned 18 and that the "church can claim jurisdiction in cases where abuse has been perpetrated with a minor by a cleric." Thats basically the papal equivalent of "stop snitching" and "fuck tha police!" This would all be a lot more humorous if we weren't talking about little boys being raped.

This man aided and abetted child rapists (catholic priests) who were responsible for committing sex crimes against hundreds of defenseless children. I mean, there is crime, and then there is the raping of little kids, the absolute lowest most egregious crime there is, bar none. In prison, do you know what happens to child rapists? Yeah, we all know what happens, and it aint pretty, but what does this tell you? It tells you that murderers, drug dealers and rapists (of adults), who obviously have very little value for human life themselves, are offended and appalled at a crime as heinous as the sexual exploitation of little kids. What I'm trying to say is that, when you have offended these people's sensibilities, you've really accomplished something.

As a result of the pope's efforts, nearly none of these scum were brought to justice and instead the church spent 615 million dollars to deal with the 'problem' of priests touching boys. Oh, and the criminal mastermind behind it all, becomes your new pope. Bill Maher made a dope point about this which I will put into my own words: If Obama should've left his church for remarks that offended [white] people, certainly the Catholic church ought to have empty pews for using the church like a NAMBLA dating service.

In the New York Times' article on the pope entitled "Hard liner with a soft touch reaches out," its interesting that in spite of the unintentional comedy of the title, there is little mention of the sex abuse scandal and no mention of the Pope's, quite serious involvement in a cover up. As a young radical, I was trained to see the media as an idealogical tool of the ruling class, so their lies to to protect the powerful are no surprise to me, its what they do. I just wanted to pile on to the list of reasons why they are full of shit, as some of my favorite bloggers have.

The fact that people are bound to hate me for writing this, and are bound to never utter a critical word about 'his holiness,' is one more reason why I hate religion. Fuck your religion, fuck your pope and fuck you! And try to make sure your priest doesn't fuck your children.

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 4, 2008
John McCain, Friend of the Negro since 1990.

On the anniversy of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assasination, John McCain was in Memphis (at the site where MLK was assasinated) to to explain that he voted against a federal holiday for MLK in 1983 because he didn't know what a great man MLK was. [In Lil Jon voice] HuuuuWHAAATTTTT?!?!?!?

As a congressperson, isn't it your obligation to find out exactly what the issue is you are asked to vote on? You like, dont have a real job because people voted you into congress, expecting you to make informed decisions on issues and this is what you do? At age 47 when he voted no in 1983, he was plenty old enough, freshman congressman or not, to either know who Dr. King was or to know that he ought to find out. We're not talking about some obscure historical figure here. If this man wasn't doing his due diligence on congressional matters at 47, should we expect that he will on presidential matters at 71? Ok, I know people who are likely reading this are not even considering voting for him, but I still thougth that was an argument worth putting out into the blogosphere, anyway.

McCain, you need more people.
He claims to have evolved, but not knowing who someone is, and then knowing who they are isn't really evolving. He makes it seem as though, had he known about MLK in '83, he would have voted for the holiday. Thats not evolution. Going from bigot to something less than a bigot is evolving, but thats not what he's claiming, and in my estimation, it should be. And even that assumes that he's something less than a bigot now, which according to his voting record isn't quite accurate. Heres what he could have said to earn my respect:
At the time, I was a middle-aged white man, who didn't have much contact with black people and as a result, wasn't really in tune with civil rights issues (read: I was a racist). So when the country was making an attempt to move foward, I was still a step behind and I was wrong for that, but I have changed. Blah, blah, blah.
Maybe he would have said something like that if his campaign were based on riding around the country on a bus called the 'straight talk express.' Oops. I have to also consider his 'vigorous fight' for the MLK holiday in 1990 dubious at best, considering the fact the he knew the state would (and did) lose millions in tourism dollars through a subsequent boycott if the holiday did not come into existence. Eventually, in 1991, after 2 years of boycotts and over 500 million dollars in lost tourism dollars, the politicians and citizen's of Arizona 'evolved' in unison to make the holiday a reality. Isn't it amazing how people's consciousness evolves when it costs them half billion dollars?

Labels: , , ,