Florida: Getting Away With Child Murder

Trayvon Martin was murdered in a shocking act of violence clearly motivated by racial bias, yet it looks like he won’t even get a slap on the wrist.

It appears that George Zimmerman drove up to Trayvon when the 17 year old was returning from a shopping trip with an iced tea and some skittles, got out of his car, attacked the youth, and shot him (emphasis mine):

According to 911 recordings released late Friday by Sanford police, Zimmerman said the person was walking slowly, looked drugged and appeared to be looking at people’s houses. Police would later learn that Trayvon had gone to 7-Eleven during the NBA All Star game halftime to get Skittles and Arizona iced tea.

These a–holes always get away,” Zimmerman complained.

What happened next is unclear, and has already reverberated nationwide. Calls to 911 alerted police to a scuffle and someone crying for help. In one, the chilling howl stopped after the clear, crisp blast of a bullet. Trayvon was lying face down on the ground near a pathway that runs through the townhouse community.

One 911 caller sobbed to the dispatcher over not having helped the young man who wailed.

Zimmerman told police that was him crying for help and that Trayvon started the fight. He claimed self-defense and was not charged

The history of consequence free violence against black people in this community suggests a systemic problem (emphasis mine):

n 2010, police waited seven weeks to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was caught on video sucker-punching a homeless black man.

In 2005, two security guards — one the son of a longtime Sanford police officer and the other a department volunteer — killed a black man they said was trying to run them over. Black leaders complained of a lackluster investigation. The guards ultimately were acquitted.

Police Chief Bill Lee is not helping the situation with his comments (emphasis mine):

“We are taking a beating over this,” said Lee, who defends the investigation. “This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too.”

What the hell could Trayvon have done differently?

George Zimmerman has no need of going back in time to do things differently.  He apparently killed a child – and from the looks of things – will get away with it.

Silsbee Texas: Apologists for Rapists

A girl was raped in the Texas town of Silsbee by a student athlete.  Since the rape, she has been ordered to “lay low”, kicked off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer (when ordered by superintendent Richard Bain Jr) for her rapist.  The community turned against her, supporting the rapist (and his accomplice), calling her a slut, and a bitch (one cowardly family even going so far as to put their 2 year old up to the task) and even threatening her life.  The Supreme Court of the US has shown brazen moral bankruptcy in refusing to hear her free speech case (rape victims don’t rate as high on their priority list as corporations seeking to influence elections).  As a result she now owes school district $45,000 in legal fees.  (You can donate directly here, or commission comic art with all proceeds going to help pay the fees here (via)).  Trigger Warning: Full Details Here.

While it is worth calling attention to the heroic actions of the two young men who broke down the door (putting an end to the attack) and even attempted to chase down and confront her attackers (in one case succeeding), on the whole the town of Silsbee and its citizens have shown themselves to be the very worst sort of people.  There is a vile rotting husk of flesh where there ought to be a heart, and their actions epitomize so much of what is deeply wrong with our country.  They need to be taught a lesson in morality.

I’m not sure what form that lesson ought to take, whether a boycott will have any meaning for instance.  Given the campaign of shame and harassment aimed at this young woman, I think it only appropriate to respond – legally – in kind.  Below the fold is contact information.  For the superintendent of schools.  For city hall.  A link to a google search with a list of Churches.  Call the superintendent and let him know what kind of person he is.  Call city hall and let them know their town is no longer the home of “Tiger Pride”, their new public face is “Rapist Pride”.  Call the churches and ask ministers and priests to work their thoughts on rape into their sermons.  Clearly communicate both what you think of the people you call, the community at large, and what it is their moral responsibility to do: Regardless of their court victory, the school district owes the rape survivor and her family an apology – and to absolve them of any responsibility for paying the district’s legal fees.

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Selective and Brutal Enforcement

Some thoughts about my last post…  I’ve been on subways where NYPD officers ignore people breaking the law in a number of ways.  They’ve done nothing.  Which leads to a situation of selective, yet brutal, enforcement of laws.

What does that do to citizens, knowing that the police might beat you and arrest you for something you’ve previously seen an officer walk by like it was no big deal?

NYPD Police Brutalize Musician, Threaten Crowd

NYPD, as part of a recent crackdown against musicians, arrested a man playing music illegally in a park in Chinatown.  The man, forced face down on the pavement with officers holding him down, displayed a bloodied face.  As of this time it appears he did not resist.  The crowd did voice their opposition quite loudly.  They were rewarded with threats of being maced and threatening movements made by one of the officers.

The video on youtube has been flagged inappropriate, making it harder for people to see, and artificially driving down its view count.

Tea Party vs Abortion – The New Fight

The exceptions for the health of the mother, rape, and incest are under attack.  As the anti-abortion movement exposes its true face – a theocratic desire to control women’s reproductive options in all circumstances – they are also removing all pretense at compromise.  The newly invigorated anti-abortion movement is going to oppose contraceptions.  They are going to force children to give birth.  They will fight tooth and claw to not only destroy Roe v Wade, but to go further and actively pass legislation making childbirth mandatory for any woman fertilized during sex.

This is the battle we are facing and to win it we need to pull its arguments entirely out of the shadows.  (We also need a new consistent and memorable name for the anti-abortion crowd.  Potentially “forced-birthers?”).  When Republicans argue against contraception they are really saying “Women do not have the right to prevent themselves from being impregnated”.  When they remove or reduce the rape exception they are saying “Women do not have the right to withhold consent from being impregnated”.  A woman who is raped can go to the doctor and get medication to handle any std’s picked up – but will not be able to prevent pregnancy – even if that was the rapists aim.  When conservatives oppose exceptions for the health of the mother they are saying “Women do not have the right to life saving medicine if they are pregnant”.

The right wing’s vicious new hard line on abortion is an assault on more than a woman’s right to choose to give birth or not.  It is an assault on a woman’s right to live and aiding an abetting rapists at inflicting trauma.  If we are going to win we need to tackle this extremism head on and aggressively.

Fear Leads to Violence

You don’t have to be Yoda to understand that fear leads to hate and ultimately to violence.  This post by Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon is worth reading in its entirety:

I do think there’s value in talking about the use of inciting language, like Sarah Palin is fond of doing, but I have to say that is probably less of a problem than paranoia. The violent rhetoric encourages people to see violence as a solution, but it’s the paranoia that gives them cause to get that wound up, or in the likely case of Loughner, to latch onto right wing paranoia as a delusion.

It isn’t the violent rhetoric, its the eliminationist rhetoric that is the main language side of the problem.  When the right talks about the left as traitors, scum, or in any way attacks their humanity – they are lowering the intrinsic ethical barriers to entry for violent actions against the left.  That is a huge part of the problem.

That said, Amanda (and Jon Stewart) are right on when they not the large place fear has in stimulating political violence.  Let’s get inside the head of a potential right wing terrorist:

You believe the President is a foreign national from Kenya bent on becoming America’s next hitler.  You think liberals are working to help him destroy the economy, establish death panels and concentration camps, and morally corrupt the nation by attacking Christianity and Christian laws.  You think liberals murder babies and have wet dreams about bringing stalin-style communism to the US.

How could those beliefs not lead to violence?

I think that is the interesting question out of all of this.

Gov Chris Christie’s Real Impact

People like Chris Wallace damage whatever credibility they have left when they shill for the likes of Chris Christie:

He loves bullying state and union workers around during town halls while canceling a major tunnel project that would have meant many jobs for NJ. The Teachers Union is in line this time for his authoritarian act. He loved to tell this teacher that if she didn’t like his merit pay idea it she could stop teaching. And the Tea Party loves him because of this.Already the merit pay scheme has been discredited. Education experts say Gov. Christie’s teacher merit pay can do more harm than good for students

Christie and NJ are in crisis and he hasn’t fixed a thing there yet except making job cuts and refusing tunnel projects. He’s also didn’t distinguish himself with his latest showing of arrogance when he stayed on a Florida vacation instead of helping NJ when the snow came. Rudy Giuliani blasted him for it.

It gets better, as his budget policies are about to land one of America’s most crime ridden cities a deadly blow: the loss of a significant chunk of its police force.  They mayor is blaming the unions:

Redd blamed the public safety employee cuts on their unions, saying they have not been willing to make job-saving concessions or accept the reality that the state government will no longer bail out the city as it has for the past two generations.

In Redd’s mind (and the incredibly slanted article by Geoff Mulvihill of the AP) it is the fault of the unions, not the state.  But look at the situation these cuts are going to create.  Who is going to want to work in one of the most dangerous, high stress job environments in the country for a fraction of the pay you could enjoy working as a police officer anywhere else in the state, nevermind the country?

It is Governor Christie’s lack of leadership – his inability to let the citizens of New Jersey pay for the essentials of civilization – that is creating these crisis in his state.  It isn’t that he isn’t experienced enough to lead – his radical right wing policies render him unfit to lead this country.