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.

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Why is Tradition Ever a Defense?

This article exposing the cruel mass murders of dolphin by Japanese fisherman brings a question to mind:

The Japanese government defends the killings for meat as traditional.

Why do we give even a moment’s thought to “tradition” as a defense for such horrific acts?  Many cultures – our own definitely included – have truly evil acts in our traditions.  Ought we allow such evils to continue on the basis of so flimsy a defense as “this happened in our past”?

The Attack on Giffords Was NOT Senseless

To be clear, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her staff was not senseless* nor unspeakable. We MUST speak about it. It was not meaningless. It was the act of yet another crazed and violent far right conservative – and targeted a conservative Democrat.  That is the political atmosphere we live in, and if we are going to stop this violence we need to see it as it truly is – political violence aimed at repressing anyone to the left of Sarah Palin and Rand Paul.

The gunman has been identified as coward Jared Laughner.  His youtube channel favorites one video: America: Your Last Memory in a Terrorist Country – in which a flag is burned to “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor”.  His potential Facebook page indicates an interest in Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.  In addition to staff and the Congresswoman, he shot others who were at the scene, including a young child who died from the wounds.

UPDATE: The Facebook page appears to be a fake.

Via American Politics Journal, it looks like Gifford’s opponent Jesse Kelly held an event to learn to shoot a fully automatic M16 and Remove Gabrielle Giffords.

This is the face of the Tea Party and the Extreme Right Wing politics of the modern Republican Party.  This is what we face as we approach 2012.

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When Religious Insanity Maims and Kills Children

Religion – throughout history – has on occasion stoked the fires of ignorance, hate, and violence.  The attacks on witchcraft – often a cover for overt misogyny or the elimination of competing religions – are a particularly brazen example.  Witch hunts continue to this day in NigeriaSpecifically targeting children (nytimes – may prompt you for registration – if so visit bugmenot.com):

Those disturbed by the needless immiseration of innocent children should beware. “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” follows Gary Foxcroft, founder of the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, as he travels the rural state of Akwa Ibom, rescuing children abused during horrific “exorcisms” — splashed with acid, buried alive, dipped in fire — or abandoned roadside, cast out of their villages because some itinerant preacher called them possessed.

some have read her book “Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft,” where she confidently writes that “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.”

in her sermons, Ms. Ukpabio is emphatic that children can be possessed, and that with her God-given “powers of discernment,” she can spot such a child. Belief in possession is especially common among Pentecostals in Nigeria, where it reinforces native traditions that spirits are real and intervene in human affairs.

Since “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” was first shown in Britain, in 2008, Mr. Itauma’s home state has adopted a law against accusing children of witchcraft. But Ms. Ukpabio went on the offensive by suing the state government, Mr. Foxcroft, Mr. Itauma and Leo Igwe, a Nigerian antisuperstition activist.

In the lawsuit, Ms. Ukpabio alleges that the state law infringes on her freedom of religion. She seeks 2 billion naira (about $13 million) in damages, as well as “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents” from interfering with or otherwise denouncing her church’s “right to practice their religion and the Christian religious belief in the existence of God, Jesus Christ, Satan, sin, witchcraft, heaven and hellfire.”

In other words, in the name of religious freedom, Ms. Ukpabio seeks a gag order on anyone who disagrees with her.

This is Christianity at its very worst.  The strategies employed by Ms. Ukpabio mirror those we see in the US from conservative Christians – claim persecution and vigorously defend their “right” to persecute and vilify others – often with violent results.

In general one wants to say people have a right to preach and spread ignorance.  One’s will to defend this right begins to erode when that ignorance clearly leads to violence.  What is absolutely clear is that we do have a right to criticize that ignorance and do our best to counter it.  That means everything from explaining the difference between autism and witchcraft to tackling a belief system that was founded on bronze age fears of the unknown – and fears of competing belief systems.

What Police Murder Says About Us

The Police Officer who murdered an innocent man on San Francisco’s public transit system gets a lenient verdict – essentially concluding that the fear of black people is legally defensible.  As Digby notes:

He was just trying to teach the little bastard a lesson by swearing at him and then shooting him full of electricity while he was already on the ground. People have to learn to obey transit police officers unquestioningly and when they curse you out and threaten you out of the blue you have an obligation as a citizen to take whatever they mete out — including death if they accidentally pick up their torture device instead of their killing device. Shit happens.

Its not enough that we live in a police state.  We live in a racist, sadistic police state.  What does that say about us as a country?

Health Care Reform in a Nutshell

The Republicans are engaging in fascist tactics to repress town hall Democracy while spitting out the most vicious and fearful lies they can think up.

The misnamed center straight up wants to kill health care reform.

The Democrats are working to ensure whatever reform exists will have as little meaning as possible, keeping the control with a handful of private for profit companies that literally get away with murder. (Which boils down to the essential question, what do we do to stop the systematic betrayal by people we fundraise, organize and vote for?)

The President is on a promise breaking spree, trying to see how firmly he can fasten the phrase “have politics as usual” onto the end of “yes we can”.

Privileged members of the press
with access to influence public opinion fundamentally do not understand health care as a basic human right.

Health Care in this country managed by companies that exist to make money, not to ensure Americans get health care. Health Care costs are such that individual Americans cannot hope to afford their care without outside assistance. Thus even covered Americans have no protection against the whims of insurance executives. What they do directly amounts to murder.

Yet our reform process is being led by Democrats willing to make concessions on vital points, and then give those up at even the appearance of opposition. It is being opposed by Republicans, the health care industry and a media willing to go to any length to prevent meaningful change, including lying and inciting violence. What little hope we have in government is in the timid Progressive Caucus. Health Care is a human right, and absolutely every power player in this game is working to ensure we change nothing of substance.

Funny that, in a country where 72% of the nation wants health care reform. Makes you wonder why WE aren’t on the streets protesting. Makes you wonder a lot of things.

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Against Institutionalized Child Abuse

We live in a sick, twisted world. Sometimes it is too much. This is one of those times (via Jesus’ General).

These places need to be shut the fuck down.

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