Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Racial Penalty Flag

Someone in my Twitter timeline who doesn't follow me back asked in reference to the latest news break out of the NFL 
"Why isn’t the NFL trying to ban all curse words and slurs? Why only ‘nigga’ or ‘nigger’?"

I'll assume it wasn't a rhetorical question and will answer him and anybody else who may be wondering the same thing here.

The #NFL has no problem with profanity so long as microphones fail to pick it up. They get that grown men hitting each other will often curse while doing so.

The #NFL is strictly addressing racism with this move. You recall being mad at Riley Cooper, right? If ugly remarks like his infamous ones are said in a game rather than a rodeo or wherever the heck he was, that's now a penalty. Simple enough.

Think of it this way. Murder is a crime. But lawmakers also saw fit to make an extra category of racial based murder called a hate crime.

Murder is murder.  Dead is dead. But there is a greater penalty to pay for a hate crime killing than a “standard, garden variety” killing, just as killing a cop is treated harsher than civilian murder.

Just as there's murder & then there's hate crime murder, you can say (the NFL certainly is) that there's profanity and then there's hate crime level profanity.  We all know the words that are meant to insult someone’s race.  The n-word gets the most attention these days, even has TV specials dedicated to it.  Frankly, I think I said all that needs to be said on the subject here 

But the n-word slur certainly doesn’t stand alone.  If you think it does, ask someone who is Hispanic or Jewish or Asian or Native American or pretty much anything.  We don’t even bother being discreet when it comes to Native Americans.  We use ethnic slurs against them as team names!!!  That’s why I wrote this 

The NFL is trying to bear down on "hate crime" variety profanity. Hence, the n-word is being treated harsher than the f-word, b-word, c-word, etc.  It isn’t a generic insult.  It is specifically based on race and many laws have had to be passed in this country to reinforce that racial discrimination/abuse is a no-no.

That's the answer to the question. But the extra wrinkle is that most n-word usage in NFL (per my guess) is not "White on Black" but “Black on Black”.  The majority of n-word use in #NFL isn't said by the Riley Coopers or our society. It's being said by one black guy to another.

Therefore you can say that the NFL isn't so much trying to curb racial hate as putting a pause on racial self hate.

You can reasonably see this as condescending IF you view the NFL as a white institution primarily policing their black employees in this matter.  After all, 70% of the players are black and 100% of the owners (or if not, then damn close to it) are white. So a rule change primarily targeting African Americans is targeting the majority of the league. I wonder what percentage of the other 30% is Samoan.  But I digress.

The #NFL can rightfully reply that they are a private organization. Nobody has to work for them. Be a garbage man and say the n-word all day long if you wish.  No slight intended to sanitation workers, by the way.  It’s simply the first profession that sprang to mind to use as an example.

The #NFL is stepping into some choppy waters here. Some have been angered, some nod in agreement, all should agree it's a bold statement.

I will repeat that I believe most use of the n-word on #NFL fields, even when used angrily, is said without offensive intent. Racism is society's problem, not necessarily the NFL's.  So why should the #NFL bother to play with this landmine?

Societal change often starts in sports. That's one of the coolest things about sports, why I've so often written about the far reaching impact of games we watch grown men play.

Branch Rickey once insisted that his Dodgers be better than baseball so Major League Baseball would be better than society so society would become better.  Even if his true motivation was considerably more selfish ("bringing in some black guys will get us to the World Series and make me more money"), the end result still turned out to be a better world.

Blacks parrot white racism against selves with n-word usage. No getting around this no matter what spin you put on it.  It does not matter if a foul mouthed parrot does not mean anything mean spirited by the words it learned from the pirate who owns him. It’s still cussing.

Would significantly reducing black on black simulated verbal abuse improve society? The debate rages on. Positions remain entrenched.

Even if non bigoted n-word usage isn't harmful, it also isn't beneficial to anybody other than guy in need of a word rhyming with trigger.

Or malt liquor. Not the most compelling reasons so perhaps it’s worth at least considering letting the n-word go quietly into the night.

The other day my 7 year old daughter told me her white classmate said there is a bad word in a Jay Z song that starts with N. His dad told him it's bad.

I'm guessing it came up because the kid was rapping along with the song so his dad had to say "hold up there, sonny, not cool to say that".

My daughter wanted to know if I knew what the word was, and if so, could I tell her. She's real interested these days in curse words.

Topic of bigotry hasn't even entered picture on anyone's end at this point. My daughter just wants to learn a new cuss word for her collection.  I'm sloppy with Spotify and YouTube. Every so often I'll let a song with curses play and when she catches one my daughter acts like it’s a prize.

I tell her that I do know what n-word is in the song, that I won't be telling her what it is, and that her friend's dad is right.

I also tell her that she will eventually find out what the word is, at which point we'll have the discussion on why I feel it's a bad word to say.

She's no doubt heard the n-word several times, pretty much exclusively by blacks, but she doesn't know to have an opinion on it yet.

Even if you're cool with n-word usage (by African Americans) perhaps you at least agree that it shouldn't come from the mouths of babes. But what we say, they will surely repeat.  Kids are able to repeat many more words than a parrot can.  Eventually they learn all of the meanings, come to understand all of the outward hate intended by them, and have to decide for themselves if some of it is being directed inward.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Response to the death of Jordan Davis & resulting trial of Michael Dunn

I had plenty to say on Twitter about the trial of Michael Dunn for killing Jordan Davis.  Many others were vocal on the topic as well.  Below is a series of tweets, most but not all by me, written as the verdict drew near and then after Dunn was found guilty on 4 of the 5 charges levied against him.  As we all know now, there was a hung jury on the 5th and most damning of the charges.  No verdict was rendered for the murder of Jordan Davis.  Nine jurors voted GUILTY but three felt there was reasonable room for doubt, or rather, for belief that Michael Dunn was acting in self defense rather than indignation and rage and bigotry.  There may be a second trial and eventually full closure.  For now, knowledge that Michael Dunn resides in a prison cell where he will likely be for the remainder of his days serves as cold comfort.

R.I.P. Jordan Davis

RT  @lucymcbath  Day 11. Verdict comes today. I am at peace in knowing the truth has been told no matter what the outcome. In the end God will judge.

If Dunn is acquitted it will demonstrate that many fixes to our criminal justice system are needed. But IMHO, even more than changes to Stand Your Ground laws or gun regulations, in greatest need of reform is our jury selection process. Yet I have no answer for how we can omit those who base decisions on preconceived notions and lifelong prejudices rather than the facts of the case.

Comparing Dunn to Zimmerman is easy. Both needlessly instigated. But the cases 
are very different. No evidence AT ALL that Dunn feared for his life.

Zimmerman, in addition to eliminating the one person who could provide testimony that contradicted him, earned do gooder props by being a neighborhood watchman. What was Dunn protecting? His eardrums from "thug music"?

In the
#DunnTrial only one side has made a cogent argument. Dunn contradicts himself from one minute to the next. Only consistency is his sweaters.

If the jury screws this up I say that at the very least, all trials for murders committed 
in Florida should be tried in another state.

Since it doesn't seem to already be a law, I feel there should be one in place that 
penalizes for instigating fights while carrying concealed weapons. You can't claim 
self defense if you aren't being attacked. If you went out of your way to bring about a fight, 
WHILE ARMED, that should be a crime.

If you're carrying a gun, shouldn't you be extra cautions to AVOID confrontation? 
Unless you desire a confrontation because you WANT TO FIRE IT.

#JordanDavis &/or other kids in car having a long rap sheet of violent priors would be only reason to maybe consider Dunn's story to possibly be non-fiction.

Responsible gun ownership/carrying is legal. But if you don't call 911 immediately after firing 10 times at 4 kids, how are you a law abiding citizen?

RT @tjholmes  Compared to other "famous" trials, this jury has already deliberated longer than the Casey Anthony, Conrad Murray, & OJ juries. #DunnTrial

RT @BelleVie73  self defense cases should have a legal requirement that you notify police or you can't claim it way after the fact or at trial #onthecase

RT @EdHull8  There's Probably a Battle Waging Right Now In the #DunnTrial Jury Room Between the Voices of Fear & Racism & Those of Decency & Common Sense

RT @AmeshiaCross  It always baffles me how someone with no criminal history can be criminalized by the color of his skin alone #WhatIsAThug #DunnTrial

#DunnTrial is not all about race though. Has the #NRA chirped in on Dunn's right to 
shoot at will yet? It's bigots WITH GUNS who worry me.

RT @Sttbs73  So #TrayvonMartin had an entire sidewalk as a weapon and #JordanDavis 
had an imaginary gun? #DunnTrial

Sidewalk possession is not protected by law. Neither is imaginary gun possession. 
Real gun possession and usage IS protected.

In our legal system, perception trumps reality. If you fear a large black man who 
happens to be a pacifist Reverend, only your fear matters.

You can shoot because you were frightened, provided you claim he made a 
menacing move. No penalty for being unfortunately mistaken. Only the fear matters.

That's why I want an unarmed populace. Fear is too easily manufactured. Requires 
no effort. Erased by pull of a trigger, until next time.

RT @illiam_william  Trayvon is dead. RT @NYDailyNews: George Zimmerman says 
he’s homeless and suffering from PTSD: report 

RT @MattBinder  i am surprised the #DunnTrial jury did not ask which specific songs 
bothered Michael Dunn in deciding if he was justified in murdering a boy

RT @FrenchieGlobal  FL court strikes down law that banned loud music from cars  in case u need more reason to find Dunn guilty #Dunntrial

Clearly all people in Florida need to be given a special dictionary with only 2 words 
defined in it. "Self" and "Defense".

RT @QuadCityPat  Sadly, this is exactly why Stand Your Ground has to be 
overturned. A jury can never know how a defendant "felt" #DunnTrial

RT @CheckAndMate  One day @donlemon is gonna hop out that chair and scream "WU-TANG!"

Black folk in timeline are surprised that Don Lemon passionately feels Dunn should be convicted. Tweeps, even Ann friggin Coulter thinks Dunn is guilty as hell. There's a difference between not having a militant "black is always right, 
white is always wrong" mindset and being a major league sell out. So it's not especially surprising (at least not to me) that Don Lemon has a pull yourself up by own bootstraps philosophy and ALSO THINKS Dunn is guilty.

Had Dunn shot just the first 3 or 4 bullets into car & held off on continuing fire as 
the boys fled, he would have walked free.  The result we got is much more just, but still, 
the verdict in the #DunnTrial shows that laws in FL are set up in favor of killers who claim fear as motive. He will serve time in jail because of his excess, not his initial evil.

RT @dreamhampton  We need to come for Angela Corey's job, no matter the outcome #DunnTrial

RT @KBDPHD  Everytime I see Angela Corey smile after a bad verdict I feel she's more concerned w/ getting a network analyst gig than justice #DunnTrial

RT @publiusterrance  What stuns me about #DunnTrial is the silence from my 
white neighbors, friends and allies.

I wouldn't mind seeing more of a mixed racial bag of reaction to Dunn verdict. You can 
stop leisure tweeting for a tweet or two to express dismay. I know many don't like to 
leave their topic comfort zones. I call them 1-note tweeters. But injustice should matter to everybody.

RT @TheREAL_MBrooks  #JordanDavis' family is remarkable...

Certainly hard to figure out how these murdered boys in Florida could have been 
such thugs when alive supposedly after seeing classiness of their families. Unless to you brown skin automatically = thug.

RT @goldietaylor  Jordan's mother Lucy and Trayvon's mother Sybrina come together... 

RT  @chrisrock  If he's scared of black kids listening to music he's gonna be really 
scared in jail.

What exactly must one do to be convicted of murder by a jury in Florida? Is eyewitness testimony from a priest, being caught on video, and a confession by the killer sufficient? 

@JoyceCarolOates  Have there been contributions to a "defense fund" for Dunn as there had been for Zimmerman? If not, this is an encouraging sign of change.

Three of the juror's believed Michael Dunn, presumably able to see Dunn's humanity 
while perhaps not able to see Jordan Davis as being one of them.

Were the jurors who refused to vote "guilty as charged" racist? I don't know. I do 
know that most acts of racism today aren't dramatic like a lynching. It transpires 
quietly in who a person chooses to include/exclude.

I often implore folks on Twitter to stop calling EVERYTHING racist. Otherwise it lessens impact of outrage when a complaint is legitimate.

In order for Michael Dunn to evade a guilty verdict for the murder of Jordan Davis, 
there needed to be jurors who saw Jordan as the guilty one.  They had to believe 
this without any evidence.  Jordan did not have a criminal record, had no history of 
violence, was not the one who had been drinking.  No eyewitnesses corroborated 
Dunn's wildly inconsistent self defense, phantom gun story, not even his fiancee.  
And yet to not be convicted on ALL CHARGES, the man who was clearly lying to 
save his life needed to be found more credible than an unarmed kid who was shot down 
because he was playing loud music and it never occurred to his killer to simply park 
a little farther away.

Why did Dunn's inconsistently made claim that he was under attack outweigh what 
Jordan's friends said to the contrary? This is what is known as a rhetorical question, 
but it also needs to be addressed for the sake of future Stand Your Ground tainted trials.

Based on the testimony I heard, the only menace to society that day was Michael Dunn. 
I breathe easier knowing he's in jail where he belongs.

If the parents of Jordan Davis are at peace with the result of the #DunnTrial - that matters a great deal. Such sad satisfaction has not always been guaranteed. Yet it's understandable
that more was desired - total justice.

Trayvon could have been Obama's son. Ditto for heartless kid killing other brown kids on bloody streets of Chicago. There but for the grace of God...

RT  @atticalocke  Juror a reminder that we can't judge all white folks any more than they can judge all of us.  After the verdict there were many people, myself included, making blanket statements about how white people view black life. #dunntrial #michaeldunn

Of all Twitter reactions to highly publicized court cases, response to Casey Anthony's acquittal was most baffling Talk about your blanket statements and judgments.

If/when Michael Dunn is retried I believe he'll be convicted on murder charge. 
Evidence like letters/calls from jail will come into play.

In the meantime Dunn will already be in prison and not leaving any time soon, so not 
an especially loud roar of outrage to come from me. Nevertheless, IMHO 3 of the 
jurors were boneheaded to put it kindly.

The hung jury may even be ultimately for the best because it's more ammunition in fight 
against dangerous Stand Your Ground laws dotting this nation.

I suspect at least 1 of the 3 jurors who bought Dunn's self defense story will say 
upon learning more about the killer after the trial - "if I had known that I'd have 
voted differently". What they did already know should have been enough though.

As for those who persist in saying our focus needs to remain on Black On Black 
crime rather than zeroing in on the untimely deaths of young black men such as 
Trayvon Martin and Michael Dunn, I respond that comparing apples to oranges 
is a waste of time...and fruit.  

I do agree that rampant, violent crime in our inner cities should be a top priority, 
though I call it Poor On Poor crime as I feel poverty is the determining factor, 
not race. I believe guns need to taken out of more hands period. Poor, middle 
class & rich hands. Black and White. Gang bangers and freelance vigilantes.

RT @elonjames  I'm not amused by some folks constant attempts to defuse 
righteous anger, hurt and frustration. Our humanity is ignored yet we should chill?

There are many monsters out there. Some seem easier to spot than others. 
Some look hideous to you. Some look like reflection in mirror.

Black on Black / Poor on Poor crime is awful. Injustice in our courtrooms is awful. The Holocaust was awful. American slavery was awful. SEPARATELY

Connections are there to be made of course. Slavery's impact continues to be felt on 
race relations & exclusively within the African American community.

But different forms of tragedy deserve to be examined individually, independently. 
One tree drops many seeds that each take on lives of their own.

I know people who own guns and this knowledge doesn't bother me at all. The odds 
of it leading to tragic results are pretty low. I also know some people for whom I am 
grateful of their decision not to be gun owners because the very last thing they need 
is a gun. A good person can still have a fast temper or be prone to panicking under 
pressure. Such a person will needlessly ruin lives with immediate access to a trigger. 
Let them yell that road rage out instead. Irresponsible gun owners make responsible ones look bad and weaken 'right to bear arms' argument.

How can you tell the differences in temperament & purpose between the responsible and irresponsible people who apply for gun licences? I don't know, but somebody smarter than me needs to figure it out. Better case by case evaluation needs to take place, followed by stricter regulations in cases where gun ownership is allowed.

RT @goldietaylor  HLN's Resident Zimmerman and Dunn Defender Once

Below is an image for you to contemplate. It shows a police office protecting a member of the KKK from angry protesters
because regardless of our beliefs (but not regardless of our actions) all Americans deserve
equal protection and equal justice courtesy of our laws.