With the jury decision to sentence Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death, I thought I would republish this column I wrote about capital punishment. Will Tsarnaev’s death change anything that he and his brother did? Will the world be a better place? Beyond cheapening life the very same way he and his brother did, what are we accomplishing by killing him? -MG
Originally posted on Tent of Abraham:
If like Senator Orrin Hatch, you too believe that capital punishment is a means by which society sanctifies life, one or more of the following statements probably apply to you:
You are someone who claims to be religious but missed the whole point of God and faith
You are someone who believes that might makes right
You claim to believe in equality but deep down you are quite sure that somepeople (e.g. your kind) are more equal than others.
You are someone who kills animals for sport, not out of necessity
You are someone who probably owns one or more guns and believes that without your guns and ammunition, you and your family are in mortal danger
You cannot distinguish between ‘revenge’ and ‘justice’
You are someone who believes that social harmony and peace in the world will only be achieved by “the good guys” using violence to exterminate…
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What has changed in America in 45 years? The governor of Texas is promising emotionally immature little boys that he will use the state national guard to protect them from the big bad Federal government coming in and taking their guns away. The field of Republican candidates for President grows larger and stranger everyday with people who are either out to protect the rich or preserve White Christian cultural dominance, circa 1950’s America. Black men are manhandled, arrested and shot for walking down the middle of the street or looking at a policeman the wrong way. America’s first African-American President is trying to do some good for Americans in spite of the efforts of Republicans and other assorted neanderthal reactionary bigots who have spent much of the past 6 years trying to block him at every turn and denigrate his character at every opportunity. The battle for to create a just and egalitarian society continues. MG 5/4/2015
Originally posted on Tent of Abraham:
(This commentary is edited and republished annually)
45 years ago this week, the state in which I reside, murdered 4 students at Kent State University and wounded nine others who were guilty of nothing more than practicing their inalienable right to free speech.
We hear all the time about political protesters being cut down in foreign countries by their government. We dare not forget that has happened in own country as well.
Democracy in the United States has withstood the efforts of the social and political right to limit the freedoms of America’s citizens from its earliest days. Is it an exaggeration to compare some reactionary American conservative efforts to stifle human liberty to the more overtly tyrannical leaders of other countries? No. The same fear, hate and cynicism that inspires a dictator to slaughter his own people when they object to the limitations placed on their civil liberties is…
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I was stunned in a most positive way in 1990 when the Supreme Court of the United States over turned a Texas state law banning the burning of the American flag. The 7-3 majority on the Court said the burning the flag was act of free speech.
So here’s my question: If a person wears a t-shirt that is insulting the police, does that give the police the right to pepper-spray that man and haul him off to jail?
Too many Americans unfortunately have no clue, or don’t want to acknowledge that the battle underway between many in the African-American community and law enforcement has more to do with the misdeeds of the people who are supposed to be enforcing the law and protecting the community than the actions of people of color who too often profiled by the police as “the enemy.”
The Baltimore policeman caught of on this video pepper spraying a Black man wearing a “F*ck the police” t-shirt is the problem, not the other way around.
It occurs to me that many people viewing this TED talk might wonder about the chronic cycle of poverty among African-Americans in Western countries like the United States where we would like to believe, we have law and order. Consider if you will this New York Times editorial from April 25, 2015 that calls attention the sad fact that one in six Black men between the ages of 24 and 54 in America are either dead or incarcerated. 1.5 million African-American men are “missing” from society. If those statistics don’t suggest that our society has passively if not willfully denied this segment of our community the same rights, privileges and opportunities that come with living in a society that celebrates law and order, what does?
Is passive bigotry not a form of violence? When a White male American is shot by police, law enforcement better have a good explanation. But for years, we became so used to hearing about Black men being shot by police that until recently, most White Americans didn’t care or notice. The problem is NOT law enforcement. The problem in a democracy like ours is what the majority of citizens will tolerate or the case of prejudice, what are the majority intolerant of? MG
Forcing Black Men Out of Society
In an effort to call attention to the bullying and harassment that LGBT students are often subjected too, many high schools around the nation hosted programs on Friday, April 17 in what was being billed as, A Day of Silence. According to the GLESEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Alliance) web site, Day of Silence is a national day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.
But at McGuffy High School in Washington County, PA, the very idea of showing any kind of support let alone empathy for their LGBT peers was enough to make some students want to do just the opposite: find a way for to express their anti-gay sentiments openly.
Using social media the homophobic crowd at this Western Pennsylvania high school encouraged students to wear flannel on April 17th turn Day of Silence into an “anti-gay day.” Not only did many students wear flannel shirts to school that day (see photo above), many wrote anti-gay messages on their hands, posters and student lockers around the school.
According to social media, the organizers of the anti-gay day program are urging students to continue promoting the message of hate by wearing specific colors of clothing for each day of the week.
How do adolescents turn into screaming homophobes? Maybe hate and intolerance is indicative of how their parents and community understand “religious freedom.”
“Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
– Bryan Fischer Web post, “Homosexuality, Hitler, and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” 2010
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine,” he later added. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.” -Phil Robertson interview with GQ
“Our children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and that perhaps they should try it, and that’ll be very soon in our public schools all across the state, beginning in kindergarten.” — Senator Michele Bachmann, appearing as guest on radio program “Prophetic Views Behind The News”, hosted by Jan Markell, KKMS 980-AM, March 6, 2004.
Still unsure of what the term “homophobia” means? Consider: North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Steve Wiles campaigned heavily on his anti-gay beliefs and his support of the state’s same sex marriage ban. However, in May 2014, news broke that just over a decade ago, he worked as an openly gay drag queen and drag-show emcee at Club Odyssey, a gay-friendly Winston-Salem lounge. In addition to emcee, Wiles also directed the show, and in prior years was a frequent attendee and performed under the stage name “Miss Mona Sinclair.” Wiles also worked as a promoter for the 2011 Miss Gay America pageant.
Thank you Beit Hatfutsot, Museum of the Jewish people for creating this beautiful video!