Monthly Archives: July 2012

Rush to Judgement

The beating death of Kelly Thomas at the hands of the Fullerton, CA, police has made national headlines.  I am generally skeptical about abuse of force claims made against law enforcement, but I judged that, in this case, the police had overstepped their bounds and murdered this man.

Then I saw a report on the local Los Angeles news about how the dad of one of the policemen charged in the death of Kelly Thomas is fighting for justice for HIS son, just as Kelly Thomas’ dad fights for justice.  This struck me: two dads, one on either side, each with something to lose, and each without anything to gain.  I believe that the policemen involved should and will be punished; even if they acted wholly within the law, they still contributed to a man’s death.  But should the policemen bear 100% of the responsibility simply because of the horrific and irreversible outcome: the death of Kelly Thomas?

Why do people rush to judgement in cases like the above?  Is it because of the contrast in the groups of people involved?  Kelly Thomas was a mentally disturbed homeless man against professional law enforcement personnel.  The fact that there is video of the beating has fueled the mob.  People have called for the heads of everyone from the mayor of Fullerton to the policemen involved in this case.  But the above report showed that there are two credible sides to this case.  Justice will be decided in this case, as in all cases, by the facts, by a jury, and by a judge, and not by the emotional outpouring of a mob.

The death of Trayvon Martin is a similar case because of the contrast in groups of people involved and the rush to judgement by many people.  This case pits the light-skinned,  Neighborhood Watch Leader George Zimmerman against the black, hoodie-wearing Trayvon Martin; everyone from the president to the district attorney has rushed to judge George Zimmerman as a reckless vigilante.  George Zimmerman has given his side of the story in an hour-long interview with Sean Hannity.  However, most who have rushed to judgement will continue to believe misleading and inaccurate secondhand reports about the case, rather than Zimmerman’s own words.

If I put my hope in any of this country’s institutions, it is the justice system.  I’m comforted by the fact that justice is carried out even-handedly, rather than quickly but punitively and mercilessly.

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A Starting Point for the Gay Rights Debate

The gay rights debate, and in particular the gay marriage debate, is irritating.  The reason is that the two sides have no common starting point for their debate.

I believe that God created Adam and Eve, man and woman,  and that this is the basis for intimate relationships in society.  God created Eve specifically for Adam: this relationship was unique.  Marriage is the unique relationship between a man and a woman and between them and God.  Marriage is modeled upon the relationship between Adam and Eve and between them and God.   I do not believe that a society, under God, should condone and legitimize intimate, sexual relationships between two men or two women in the context of marriage.

Choice is a popular argument: that homosexuality is not a choice.  I accept the words of my gay friends when they say that they feel attracted to others of the same sex.  I believe the science that shows people have proclivities toward certain behaviors.  Genetics, in part, determines who we are, or maybe who we can become.  But this is a slippery argument.  Genetic science has shown that humans are prone to all sorts of behaviors, and those behaviors manifest who we are.

Those of us against gay marriage are frequently portrayed as bigots and likened to racists.  When I interact with a person, I cannot see his sexuality.  In fact, I couldn’t care less about that.  I am concerned about how I will treat him, how he will treat me, what we can learn from each other or enjoy together, etc…  In fact, often a pro-gay marriage person will point out how gay another is based upon the way he speaks or carries himself.   This IS prejudiced.

Finally, I ask why our government regulates, and sometimes encourages, marriage.  In my opinion, it is because We the People recognized that marriage as defined above, and family which derives from marriage, is a cornerstone of a thriving society.  Perhaps our government should not regulate such a thing.  But please do not tell me that my beliefs as described above are hateful, or that I do not have a right to express these beliefs through our democratic process.

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Solving the World’s Problems on Facebook

My friend posted the following cartoon on her Facebook wall:

 

It elicited 20-something politically-tinged comments.  There are several examples of this on Facebook, but this type of thing is not confined to Facebook.  It seems to me that debate on important issues in this society is steered by cute, made-for-Facebook cartoons rather than by facts and reason.  This drags everyone down.

 The comments to the above post went as follows:

 I read some statistics a few weeks ago, Trying to remember where! That only 2% of illegals take farm related jobs, the rest take construction, hospitality and restaurant type jobs. Hate it when I can’t remember where I read stuff, haha. I think thats a very small percentage, compared to everyone saying that only illegals do the jobs no one else wants here in the US.  I also think the argument that illegal aliens do jobs that no one else wants is fallacious: it does not support the pro-illegal immigration position.  In fact, in some ways, it undermines it.  Trying to disprove this argument is a fool’s errand.

 No way! I wanna see that! I mean not every hispanic in the field must be an illegal, but that is all I ever see out there, so I would assume a good percentage would be immigrants.  Yes, that 2% figure is probably wrong, but why does it matter?

 I still think this is “cute”.  Yes, it is a cute cartoon.

 I did find online that 60% of illegals are farm workers, but that was from the NYTimes, and I don’t consider them a fair and balanced reporting tool for many reasons!… My main pet peeve is… they are mainly paid illegally, in cash, and that money mostly goes back to Mexico. And thats after they have used their debit cards, received their housing allowances, and had medical paid for. It doesn’t support the US economy like it should, and now we are collapsing from the strain. Just makes me mad and sad…  It’s good that the commenter went back and corrected the earlier-quoted 2% figure; 60% is probably closer to the truth – even if it is in the NYT.  After that, some legitimate points are made, mixed in with other stuff that really doesn’t add to the illegal immigration debate.

 i work at a homeless shelter about half of them are immigrants and about 80% of those work in the feilds they are hard workers and good people.  Yes, I’m sure all illegal immigrants are good people.

 I don’t know my stuff…but I know they are our brothers and sisters and I wish this world would work together as a whole and not separate nations! we should all take care of each other. … On a separate note…the picture is funny!  Half the world’s population is governed by tyrants and real religious intolerance.  Furthermore, there is an amazing amount of cultural and ethnic diversity among the peoples of the world.  This (separate nations) is just the way the world is.  The picture is funny, though.

 I would gladly accept any race as my brother or sister, but it seems that no matter how hard we try, we are always the bad people, the racists. I just don’t get it! Until other races stop blaming the ‘whites’ for all their problems, and accept that we are all brothers and sisters, it will continue to be this way.  I don’t get it either. How has this thread turned into a commentary on race relations?

 That is exactly how I feel. I have an issue with any group of people getting special benefits because of their skin color, etc. We should all have the same rights and benefits as one another.  We all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  No one can guarantee the same benefits.

 Yes! no one is better than the other!  It depends on what is meant by “better”.  David Beckham is better than me at soccer.

 If you want more people to come here the legal way, we need to vastly revise our immigration system. Right now it is taking several years to get citizenship, and partially based on a LOTTERY system! In my opinion, if someone wants citizenship – they should be allowed to have it. Give them X months to find a job/prove productivity, make them ineligible to receive state aid until after their probationary period of (Say..1 year?? to make sure they are contributing to society and not leaching from it) Sign them up, get them a SSN card, and put them to work legally ASAP.  Everyone thinks they have a solution.  Except that there hasn’t been one offered by Congress.  The current immigration law resulted from our democratic process and should be enforced.

 I dont have time to read this whole thing but I can trace my family tree and I’m pretty shure we were imigrant potato farmers.  Great, but what does this have to do with current immigration law?

 Then there is this gem from Elizabeth Warren, a candidate to represent Massachusetts in the US Senate in 2012. 

 

 President Obama recently voiced similar sentiments on the campaign trail.  Here’s the reaction to Obama from the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.  This is apparently the “Occupy Wall Street, Tax the Rich, Pay Your Fair Share” argument.  I don’t know the precise contribution of the public sector (road construction, law enforcement, etc…) to the successes of businesses.  What the above cartoon fails to mention, though, is that every American has the opportunity to benefit from the public sector in the same way that successful businessmen and women have done. 

Finally, there is this commentary from Jon Stewart on gay rights and, presumably, gay marriage. 

In my opinion, Jon Stewart is a clown who traded his job as a comedian for a career in political punditry.  He has never been good at either job.  I attempted to point out the fallacies in the cartoon, but I ended up using some heated rhetoric and offending some of my friends.  The biggest fallacy in the cartoon, the one that I was too timid to point out, is that of course Religion and one’s relationship with his Creator is more innate than one’s sexuality.  Sexuality is not paramount to Religion.

 It is evident that debates driven by made-for-Facebook cartoons are characterized by false information and arguments, a lack of structure and focus, and sometimes anger and frustration.  The problem comes when we substitute cute cartoons and campaign comments for reason and civil discourse.  This problem drags down everyone in society, as well as the society itself.

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