Monthly Archives: July 2012

So, you’re angry about the sanctions against Penn State? Well, tough shit. Deal with it.

The Child Molester

Sanctions against Penn State: 4-year bowl ban, loss of 20 scholarships, $60 million fine, and forfeiting all wins since 1998.

And much of the Penn State community is pissed over this.

Can I remind everyone of the graphic details here?

Between 1994 and 2009, Jerry Sandusky molested at least 8 children between ages 7 and 13. This was not just fondling, which is bad enough. He anally raped these kids and forced them to perform oral sex on him.

Nearly half these incidents occurred on Penn State property, and no less than 3 adults witnessed the abuse.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it was reported to university officials but Joe Paterno, Penn State Pres. Graham Spanier, Senior VP Gary Schultz, and Athletic Director Timothy Curley all knew of the abuse, chose to ignore it and do nothing to stop it, worked to cover it up, and lied about it under oath…

And there’s people who are angry because the football program is going to suffer?

Boo. Fucking. Hoo.

You’re lucky the program didn’t get the death penalty from the NCAA.

At what point did these people, in their minds, decide that preserving the legacy of a football program is more important than protecting children from sexual abuse?

You’re upset about a statue being removed? What about a 10 year-old child being raped in the shower and the man that wonderful statue is based on not doing anything to stop the abuse and then, covering it up?

There are folks claiming that this falls outside the purview of the NCAA’s oversight.

But isn’t the NCAA the governing body meant to regulate and oversee the actions of collegiate teams and their personnel? Aren’t there standards set for a reason? And when we break those standards (in this case, quite egregiously), should they not be punished?

Penn State isn’t being punished for the molestation of children. They’re being punished because their top officials failed to address this problem and worked to cover it up…. all to protect the school’s reputation and it’s football program.

Furthermore, at least one trustee knew of the abuse. How do we know other trustees didn’t know and failed to do anything?

Moreover, some say it isn’t fair that Penn State is being punished for the actions of a few.

You’re right when you say Penn State is being punished for “the criminal acts of a few,” but in this case, “the few” are, literally, the most important people at Penn State: the President of the college, one of the VPs, the athletic director, Joe Paterno (who we both know is highly, highly revered by the Penn State community), and most of the coaching staff… all were complicit in this horrible, disgusting chain of events.

So, what do you do when the very culture and top leadership of a college allows something so horrific and inhumane to happen? You clean house. You *DO* set an example. You make it abundantly clear that this kind of atmosphere will not fly in the future under NCAA regulations.

These children, now young men, will never completely get their lives back. When something like this happens to you as a child, and I speak from personal experience on this, no amount of therapy or drugs or hospitalizations will completely heal you. You’ll learn to live with it enough (with help, of course) to enjoy your life, but it’ll always be there in the back of your mind, an ever-present ghost of irreparable scarring and loss.

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My Unsolicited Thoughts on the Aurora Shooting (Part One)

 

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[Part One in what I hope will be an ongoing series on this subject as it seems far too large and important a topic to cover in one day. Also, I want to thank the users of Reddit.com who made it easier to research for this piece.]

I’ve been debating whether or not to add my two cents on the horrific events of this past Friday. On one hand, I feel like just about everything that could be said about Aurora has been said. On the other hand, I’ve found myself becoming far too angry over the ridiculousness of some of the commentary I’ve seen over the last few days not to say anything.

For those who have been living under a rock, here’s a brief summary of what happened on Friday morning: At 12:38 AM (local time), 24 year-old Ph.D dropout James Eagan Holmes entered theater 9 of the Century 16 cinema in Aurora, CO, dressed in full body armor (complete with gas mask) and armed with several weapons including a 12-gauge Remington Model 870 shotgun, a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle (with 100-round drum magazine), and a .40 S&W Glock handgun as well as tear gas canisters. Over several minutes of carnage, Holmes killed 12 and injured 58 more. Seven minutes after he began, he was apprehended by police in the parking lot, reportedly surrendering without resistance.

I’m not going to do a full-blown analysis of this tragedy. I just want to add a few things of particular importance to me.

First, I believe in having a sense of decency when it comes to talking about events like this one. I honestly don’t know what the appropriate amount of time is to wait before debating the causes of, and solutions to, such a tragedy, but deep down, I feel like it’s pretty damn insensitive to start pointing fingers within 24 hours of a massacre. I admit that I have trouble defining why it’s insensitive, but here’s the closest I feel I’ll get to an adequate explanation: As much as I’d love to believe that the media (any and all sources) only intended to report the tragedy for its value in the ongoing debate on gun control, I can’t help but feel that it was largely done for entertainment value.

Yes, you read that right: “Entertainment value.”

Whenever a shooting like this happens, the media (regardless of the source, but for the sake of argument, let’s say pretty much all the major television and radio networks, newspapers, and political commentators) seems to extract the juiciest information they can find (much of it false) and put it out to the public to increase viewership.

I mean, think about it… In 2010, firearms accounted for 8,775 murders[1] in the United States. On average, that’s about 24 gun-related murders per day.

So, why is this news? Why doesn’t the media spend any other day covering gun-related deaths?

Because if it’s 24 average joes or janes getting shot around the country, that’s hardly news. Actually, that’s hardly surprising. It might be easier for Americans to assume that 24 unrelated murders by firearms scattered across the United States can be chalked up to the victims getting caught up with the wrong crowd or doing something stupid or just an unfortunate anomaly.

But with mass shootings, there’s a far greater element of fear involved. It would be more than a significant stretch to assume that Holmes knew every person he shot inside that theater. More than likely, he didn’t know anyone he killed or injured. The act seems so random and gruesome and, well, oddly and nearly-repulsively fascinating that the media isn’t going to ignore the opportunity to drive viewership up by exploiting people’s interest-by-fear in the wake of such a tragedy.

There’s almost 8,800 gun-related deaths a year, and the media always waits for a mass shooting to start discussing why they happen and what should be done about it.

It’s my belief that they don’t care. It makes for good television, radio, and print (but mostly good television), and that’s all that really matters to the vast majority of the media.

Otherwise, you’d think this would be an ongoing conversation in our country, but allow me to break it to you if you don’t already know: In a month (tops), the gun conversation will go away. We’ll probably hear more about Holmes and his trial, but the debacle over why this happened and how it can be prevented will be old news.

That is… until the next mass shooting.

But let’s take a second to look at all the wonderful commentary out there on what happened. Chances are that you have an opinion on whether or not the United States needs stricter gun control policies to prevent tragedies like one from happening, and you wouldn’t be alone; more than 90% of Americans do.[2]

And that makes for great debate. In the aftermath of these tragedies, regardless of opinion, everyone seems to emerge as experts on the Constitution, gun-related homicide, etc.

Okay, that might be unfair, not everyone but it sure as hell seems like everyone.

For now, let’s not dive into the statistics. Let’s talk about the sheer amount of bullshit and outrageous stupidity circulating on the airwaves from both sides of the political aisle.

But first, two disclaimers from me: 1) I am a proud liberal on most issues and, yet, 2) For most of my life, I have been an ardent supporter of the 2nd Amendment, complete with gun ownership and oft-membership of the National Rifle Association. Obviously, this is an odd mix, but I believe it gives me a sense of objectivity. Sort of.

Let me start off with Jason Alexander (you know, George Constanza from “Seinfeld”) and his truly beautiful, eloquent, and largely inaccurate note he released through Twitter, which you can see here.

I’m not being sarcastic when I say it was beautifully-written, but to anyone who spends more than ten minutes doing a bit of online research from government agencies that track this sort of thing, there are several obvious mistakes:

1.       He states that 100,000 Americans die every year due to domestic gun violence. This is false. The actual figure (8,775, as you can see in my first footnote, according to the FBI) isn’t anywhere close to a quarter of that. He later Tweeted that he actually meant 100,000 deaths and injuries per year, which is also false. He counted suicides among the deaths. I do not. I believe guns make it a lot easier, but in that moment, if people want to die, the vast majority of them are going to figure out a way to make it happen. On the other hand, I’m going to make an educated guess that gun murders are largely out of the control of the vast majority of victims.This is debatable, but regardless of where you stand on that, Mr. Alexander has not removed the original note with that first glaring error. It’s still proudly on display.

2.       He implies that the AR-15 (and I’m assuming other assault rifles) accounts for a large chunk (if not a majority) of gun deaths. This also false. Most studies put it at making up just 2% of firearm-related murders.[3]

3.       His comparison of the AR-15 and the “standard hunting rifle” is also inaccurate. The AR-15 does not necessarily (and most often, does not) have a longer range, greater accuracy, “greater payload” as he put it, or fire more rounds without reload.

And that’s before we get into a debate on what exactly the framers intended with the 2nd Amendment.

However, it’s far easier for me to stomach being sloppy with statistics and knowledge on guns than it is to watch conservative commentators make complete asses of themselves when it comes to playing the blame game. Here are a few notable examples:

1.       There was Jerry Newcombe, who blamed the shootings on Americans’ growing lack of respect for the idea of a heaven and hell and the “ongoing crusade of those who want to remove any vestige of the Judeo-Christian in the public arena.”[4]

2.       Fred Jackson, Director of the American Family Association, said “I have to think that all of this, whether it’s the Hollywood movies, whether it’s what we see on the internets, whether it’s liberal bias in the media, whether it’s our politicians changing public policy, I think all of those somehow have fit together—and I have to say also churches who are leaving the authority of Scripture and losing their fear of God—all of those things have seem to have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.”

3.       Pastor Rick Warren allegedly blamed the shootings on teaching our children evolution, stating “When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.”[5] I say “allegedly” since he is now claiming the Tweet was in response to a letter from a father about his daughter’s teacher claiming “there’s nothing wrong with sex with multiple partners… single partner is a man-made construct.” So, yes, this could very well be true, but I’m just not buying it as he did remove the Tweet although he kept it on his Facebook page as a status update.

4.       Former AZ State Senator Russell Pearce wondered on Facebook why no man had the balls to stop the shooting.[6] When newspapers reprinted the full text of his commentary, he claimed they were “mischaracterizing” him.

 I don’t care who you are… that’s classy right there. Get ‘er done, amirite?!

Of course, there were also liberal morons pointing their fingers, but as they’re all what you could call “ordinary citizens,” they don’t exactly have as large of microphones as the idiots above. If you do find evidence of a liberal celebrity, politician, or commentator saying otherwise, please send it to me, and I’ll post it here.

This is already getting pretty long, so I’ll post a “Part II,” tomorrow. In the meantime, be part of the conversation. I welcome all opinions on this blog, even if I may disagree with them.

 

 

 

You know what I really don’t like? Outspoken Republicans who never served in the military.

 

Actually, I’m sorry. That’s not fair. Or accurate.

Many of my closest friends are Republican, and they’re wonderful people who are able to articulate their views in a manner that promotes understanding between differing political ideologies.

Some of you reading this are that kind of conservative: intelligent, articulate, and understanding. This diatribe is not intended for you.

I’m talking to the conservatives–and conservatives who pose as libertarians or independents (seriously, you’re not fooling anyone)–who, literally, wave a flag with every opinion they spout and God forbid a liberal questions what they say, and if they do, they *must* be a traitor.

These are people who haven’t read the Constitution since they were in high school (and seem to gloss over the parts that are inconvenient to their opinion), who demand the government have less power while simultaneously calling for the government to control women’s healthcare choices and prevent gays from marrying, and who seem to perpetually have their fingers shoved in their ears whenever a dissenting opinion is told in their presence.

It’s these people who wave a flag and call liberals and Democrats “traitors” (or “socialists/commies,” which are just other words for “traitor”).

But here’s what really chaps my ass… the vast majority of these people have never served a day in their life in our Armed Forces.

These are the same people who criticize liberal politicians (many of whom actually did serve) for expressing disagreement with conservative policies by branding them “socialists” who are out to destroy so-called “American values.”

And more flag-waving, of course. And that makes me sad because I love our flag. It really is beautiful.

But seeing some ignorant asshole make ridiculous claims about people who happen to disagree with him or her and, literally, standing in front of, or beside, or while holding, an American flag really does make me want to vomit. It’s a disgusting display.

Here’s a prime example. My hometown’s Congressman is Rep. John Carter (R-TX). Congressman Carter has served in the U.S. House since 2003. My problem with Rep. Carter is not that he’s a Republican or conservative. Again, I have close friends who are conservative, and we get along fine. What pisses me off about John Carter is that the man has the gall to say the most ignorant things while simultaneously displaying an American flag beside his opinions as if the Stars-and-Stripes somehow makes what he says any smarter. His Facebook page is chock-full of this.

And here’s what makes this all so funny: The man has never served in the United States Armed Forces. Not one day. Not reserve duty. Not even JROTC.

This guy feels the need to call the President a socialist commie when even he didn’t make a decision to wear the uniform.

But you know what makes this all the more troubling? Rep. Carter chose not to serve his country during a time of war. Instead, he went to college (graduated in 1964 from Texas Tech) and then, to law school (graduated in 1969). He chose to attend these schools at the height of the Vietnam War, when his country needed young men and women to serve in uniform.

Let me make it even more clear: While young men and women were being sent to die for their country in Vietnam, Congressman Carter chose to avoid the draft and attend college, and then, law school.

And don’t get me wrong: There are probably liberals who do this, too, but honestly, I can’t think of one. If you can, please post their name in the comment section. I’d love to know… because to the best of my knowledge, this is a behavior that is entirely dominated by conservatives and Republicans.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind. If you don’t want to go to war, that’s your choice. But don’t then stand up with a flag in your hand and accuse others of being traitors. You look foolish.

By the way, I did point this out on the Congressman’s Facebook page and was promptly blocked. You gotta love “Freedom of Speech.”

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Where are all the women?

(Photo Courtesy: www.abovethelaw.com)

This is a question I’ve been asking myself, lately… where are all the women? Observing any indicator of influence or power in our world, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that women are getting the short end of the stick:

Percentage of women in the U.S. Congress? 16.8%

Percentage of women in the Fortune 500? 3.6%

Percentage of Judiciary Branch that’s female? 31%

Percentage of senior military officers who are women? 5.3%

Percentage of U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents who are/have been women? 0%

Number of women who have been a major party’s candidate for president or vice president? 2.

But what really puts this all into perspective is the fact that women make up more than half (50.8%) of the population of our country.

More than half.

So, how is it that women still constitute so little of the power hubs in the United States? I’m not sure I can answer that adequately, but I can say there are clear consequences to women having negligible representation in these hierarchies:

– Women, on average, still make 19% less than men.

– Women are still restricted from 20% of all U.S. military active-duty jobs, despite expert opinion from retired senior military officers supporting changes that would allow women to serve in combat arms.

– There were an estimated 19,000 sexual assaults (95% against women) in the U.S. military, last year, a number that continues to climb and seems aggravated by a culture that fails to support victims when they come forward.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

How can we tell our young girls that all under the law are equal when it’s clear that women don’t enjoy equal rights in this country?

If you feel as strongly as I do about this, here are some organizations working to ensure that women have just as great a shot at success as men do in the United States:

National Organization for Women – Since 1966, NOW’s mission has been “to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.” The organization currently has over 500,000 members and 550 chapters across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Service Women’s Action Network – SWAN supports, defends, and empowers today’s servicewomen and women veterans of all eras, through groundbreaking advocacy initiatives and innovative, healing community programs.

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