Bow Your Head and Weep

harriet tubman“If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If there’s shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
― Harriet Tubman

Today across this nation in Cleveland, Ferguson, St. Louis, New York, Beavercreek, Salt Lake City and countless other cities families will sit down to dinner with less to be thankful for, with an empty chair at their table and it is likely mothers and fathers will weep at the loss of their child to violence. Parents, spouses and children will bow their heads and instead of thanking whatever god they pray to, they will ask “Why”. They will weep as they find themselves bereft of their loved one and struggling to understand why the system they were told to trust did not work, why the life of their husband, father or child did not matter. Today across this nation, families will weep as they mourn the loss of their beloved and lost members to police violence.

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We are a terrible nation, a nation that turns away from entire communities, blaming them for their failure to thrive within a greater society determined to see them as always ‘less than’ and undeserving of the rights and privileges embodied by this nation’s founding documents and ‘moral’ standard. We are a tragic nation, built upon theft of land and resources, blood of innocents, indentured servitude, forced labor, rape and violence; yet we have the unmitigated gall to hold ourselves, as a nation, up as a standard of excellence. We dare to act as police and moral arbitrators, condemning violence and human rights violations across the world while within our own nation we fail to uphold the Rights and even Humanity of our own citizens.

Today, families weep and we should all be weeping with them. Those of us who do not send our children out into the world with fear in our hearts each time they leave our side, we should hang our heads that we do nothing, say nothing and enable this genocide within our borders to continue. Yes, I said it, We Enable. By our silence, through our failure to stand up and say,  ‘no more’, each timescreen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-33-18-pm we fail to demand answers for the depraved acts of murder by those tasked with defending the law and protecting citizens, WE ENABLE and WE AGREE they are in the RIGHT. Each and every time we listen to media pundits, elected officials, journalists, has been’s and never were’s such as Rudy Giuliani disparage entire communities WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE along with them for enabling the horror story of structural and institutionalized racism that has destroyed the soul of this nation and its people. It is us, as much as them that allow and enable Genocide to escalate unencumbered by Law or Justice.

I am saddened there are those in this nation who refuse to face up to the fact there truly are two nations, truly two systems of justice, two systems of opportunity, two systems for damned near everything. It is not about ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ as some would have us to believe. It is not about pulling your pants up, speaking better English, getting a job or any of the other idiotic and ignorant bile that spews forth from the lips of those who have never been at risk a day in their life simply for the skin they were born in.

Any one of us can say all day long, “I personally am not a racist”. However, the problem with that statement, so long as ‘I personally’ do nothing to actively fight against the institutionalization of racism within this country I am passively agreeing to its continuation, I am by my refusal to stand up and speak out, by my refusal to put myself in harm’s way agreeing my life, my way of life matters more.

screen-shot-2014-11-25-at-4-34-05-pmTime and again, the President of this nation has been called divisive by those who hate him for only one reason, who fear him for only one reason. Time and again, the Attorney General has been called divisive for speaking out on issues of race and violence. We have had for nearly six years our first Black President, our first Black Attorney General; this combination scares the hell out of those who see their power base slipping and they are fighting hard, with ugly tactics to convince this nation these two men are the cause for the rise in violence, the rise in racist language and attitudes. Those who see these two men of calm as divisive have deceived their base and even many of us into believing a story, a fable of Black and Brown rage and danger, one that is escalating and must be controlled by occupation forces and murder. The truth is, this President and this AG have spoken infrequently and with cautious language on issues of race, they have used the Bully Pulpit rarely and with great restraint so as not to offend those who would use their words to stir the already boiling caldron of White Rage and Fear.

We are not divisive because we point out racism, whether it is police murdering or the KKK marching with police escorts while peaceful protesters are tear gassed and shot with wooden bullets. We are not divisive because we identify the documented fact a Black Man is 4 times more likely to die in custody than a White Man, a Hispanic Man is 2 times more likely to die in custody than a White Man. We are not divisive because we find it disturbing when mass killers are taken into custody alive if they are White, but Black Men and Black Children with toy guns are killed by cops. We are not divisive when we identify the difference between media coverage of college students rioting during a sporting event or festival for squash and communities rioting in response to police murdering their children without fear of reprisal. We are not divisive when we point out a wealthy White teenager walking out of a courtroom with a new syndrome, Affluenza (he is to wealthy to go to jail it might harm his delicate sensibilities or future) preventing him from going to prison after killing four people in a drunk driving joy ride, but a Black teenager is killed for jaywalking.

We must begin to stand up, to point out what is wrong with this nation and the leadership of this nation that we do not demand better. We are not divisive, what we are is challenging a system that has consistently shown itself to be Racist, unjust and weighted towards one group in this country. Either we are one nation, with one rule of law, one set of values and principles, striving toward the betterment of all citizens … lifting all boats in a rising tide; or we are a Slave State, intent on the debasement of an entire group of our citizens, the death of their next generation.

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Today, families gather to give thanks far too many of those families will instead shed tears of anger even fury at the loss of a loved one to violence at the hands of police.

Where does it end?

We must begin to stand up, to scream our demands for change. We must begin to silence those who turn away and refuse to see what is before them; we must demand those who are tasked with protecting our citizens; we must demand those who are elected to office high or low, perform their tasks to the benefit of all citizens not just those who can pay for their services; we must stand up and demand journalists, pundits and others tasked with delivering information become fair, balanced and perform their tasks with integrity and ethical standards or be taken off the air, a return to the standards of old is necessary to raise this nation out of the mire of ignorance we have fallen into.

It is time to rise up out of our apathy. It is time for us to bow our heads and weep with the families who will gather today with an empty chair at their tables. It is past time for us to demand a change to this failed experiment that is the two-nation system of have and have not, divided by the color of our skin and the privilege those of us born with the fortune circumstance of White skin have not earned.

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It is time to acknowledge we have a problem and it is not the criminality of the Black Community it is the Criminality of a nation built on privilege, brutality, greed, violence and a desire to retain what was never earned but stolen.

It is about fixing what is broken in this nation no matter the cost.

Atrocity, the Rubber Broke

bc-center-condoms-art

Spice is nice but Incest is Best’.

I wish they wore protection, you know put a raincoat on it to prevent conception.

Next up on the hit parade: Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson


 

On 9 August 2014, Darren Wilson murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown this truth is undisputed. Darren Wilson did not need to murder him, his life was not in eminent danger; Michael was not charging him or attacking him. On 9 August 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown, who would have started college in two days, lay on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri dead for four hours while those who loved him, including his mother, were kept away from his young body. In days past, during Jim Crow days, during the days of slavery this type of action was done as a warning to others of what could happen to them if they stepped out of line.  On 9 August 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown’s dead body was covered with a tarp and loaded into the back of an SUV for transport to the Medical Examiners, four (4) hours after he had been shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson.

Timeline Available Here


 

There are so many people involved in the clusterfuck that is Ferguson, MO. So many that are responsible for just how bad it truly is there. Everyone, from the Governor on down has a hand in the horror show that is St. Louis and Ferguson. Nevertheless, the real sideshow is in the lap of the Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, who simply doesn’t know when to shut up.

the bad players

On 10 August, Police Chief Tom Jackson reneged on his responsibilities and allowed the County Police Chief Joe Belmar to speak for him. Did he know his officer had begun the firestorm that would continue through to today? Personally, I doubt it; I don’t think any of them are that smart. I think simply Chief Jackson, along with all the rest of them simply don’t care enough about the community he is in charge of to get up off his lazy azz. Furthermore, I think he needed to get his ducks in order; he needed to make certain he had the ‘Trayvon Martin’ defense fully in place for his officer before he got in front of the cameras so he allowed others to do what he was too lazy to do.

Our ‘friendly’ community servant, Chief Jackson didn’t show his face on the scene, didn’t open his mouth to the press until 15 August, six (6) days after the murder of Michael Brown. Six days ya’ll. At this point in the timeline of Ferguson, there has been civil unrest, military style policing and more; including Ferguson police showing up without their badges to intimidate peaceful protesters.

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Chief Jackson had shown his true colors with this first public appearance though, first announcing the name of the officer who murdered 18-year-old Michael Brown, then defending his actions. Chief Jackson by this time had all his ducks in a row, Ferguson had lined up their lies. Michael Brown was being painted as a ‘thug’, a dope fiend pothead and a violent criminal who deserved to be gunned down in the street and left in the sun for four hours. Between the questionable video tape from the store that had never called the police, to the highly questionable timeline of events that was never substantiated by any witness other than the officer who gunned down Michael Brown, to the debunked pictures of the beaten Darren Wilson…… Ferguson Police Chief Jackson has been nothing if not gas on the flame that is Ferguson.

When you add the policing of Ferguson since the murder of Michael Brown, I can only assume, with good cause Police Chief Tom Jackson is all of the following:

  1. Racist
  2. Without a single drop of Compassion
  3. Without a single drop of Empathy
  4. Without a single drop of common sense
  5. Ignorant of the community he is in charge of policing

No, I do not mean some of the above I mean all of the above. The make-up of the Ferguson Police Department is not reflective of the community they police, with a 53 person force only 3 are of Black that is .05%. This is however, reflective of the Chief of Police and the standard he sets. Consider this in relation to the overall Ferguson make-up.

Thus, my assessment of him as a human being and a public servant, he is a failure as both. Every single appearance he has made, including the most recent has shown him to be self-serving and without any understanding of the human condition, certainly not the condition of the community he is supposed to serve.

Consider the most recent atrocity.

His officers are attending their duties is a predominately African American community that saw one of their own lie in the street dead for four (4) hours after being gunned down by a cop by the name of Darren Wilson. Those cops, who are predominately White, are now wearing wristbands that read, “I AM DARREN WILSON”. It took the Department of Justice to stop this outrage.

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I could go on and on, forever about this blight on our nation. He is an outrage and an insult. He represents so much of what is wrong with law enforcement today. His picture should be in Merriam Webster next a number of different words starting with a word I am learning has many different meanings but fits; Dumbfuckery!

So Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson wins my second, I wish they wore protection.

Important links to information on DoJ involvement: Mr. Militant Negro

This is the most recent stunningly idiotic comments by Chief Tom Jackson and some of the response, it includes other thoughts on some of the other more recent police violence. Personally? I think he should shut the hell up.

Get Real War on White Folks WTF

OpEdI have tried to take a high road and not speak on some of the true ignorance dripping from the mouths of those elected to high office. In truth, I have been absent lately for the simple reason the world has cracked my heart, I haven’t known whether I was broken hearted or simply damned angry. I am both; truthfully, I am both. It is difficult to sit in my safe enclave and watch from afar the horrifying and tragic events unfolding in this nation without being both. Anyone with a drabble of humanity who is able to watch this nation burn, listen to hate filled rhetoric of those who set the flames and not be furious are in my humble opinion less than human.

I don’t know where to start; I am stunned by the brain dead blathering of Republicans whether they are elected officials, those who desire high office or the talking heads who seem to be held in such esteem. The utter idiocy of their positions, the ignorance of what flies out of their mouths at times causes me to want to lock myself into a closet, never to emerge again. I am embarrassed at times to admit my own heritage as it links me to them at least on the surface through a shared gene pool. Fortunately, I do not dwell on this for too very long, realizing our shared genetic markers do not condemn me to ignorance, greed or a failed moral standard, as these are all choices they have made for themselves.

You will need to forgive me if I descend into less than ladylike language, I have lost my temper and my normal Southern charm and aplomb. 

WAR ON WHITES…WTF

Yes, you read that correctly. This is the position an idiot Congressman, Mo Brooks (R), out of Alabama has taken, the Democratic Party has declared a ‘War on Whites’. Now this truly isn’t new, southern White Folks have genuinely believed they have been disenfranchised and abused since the end of the Civil War when they lost their source of free labor with the emancipation of the slaves. With Civil Rights came new levels of anger and fear, White Folks in America began to band together under a variety of banners, primarily these:

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Until we got to the election of the very first Black American President, Barack Hussein Obama in 2007, suddenly shit hit the fan. Now mind you, our President is in fact a true representative of the American experience being of both African and European lineage. Few recognize this President as having a ‘White’ side, when they look at him they see him as Black and he unsurprisingly self-identifies as a Black Man. What option, in this America would he have when his Melanin saturation is the only thing that identifies him for 99% of Americans.

POTUS & FLOTUS Obama Take it all with grace

POTUS & FLOTUS Obama
Take it all with grace

When things truly begin shifting in our cities and towns was September 11, 2001. If that date rings a bell it should, that was the day we all realized we were vulnerable and said to the government, ‘save us from those evil brown people who want to kill us, who want to change our way of life’. Yes, we said that, we also said without realizing it, tear the stitches off the decades long wound to the White Power Structure of Civil Rights and social courtesy be damned, if it ain’t White, Christian with able to pee standing up, it ain’t right.

All bets off, since 2001 the tone of the argument changed and in the mind of White America the enemy was clear. Politicians latched on and adjusted their rhetoric to suit the mood of the nation, along with the vitriol came the money and the weapons to control the masses. Senators and Congressmen from every state in the union put their hands into the till and came out with new toys for controlling their own constituents. Police forces were militarized, becoming capable of imposing martial law in the blink of an eye. We were at risk, but more importantly our inner cities, were at risk those who were considered ‘outsiders’ and not ‘like me’, were at risk and they didn’t know, yet. The one thing we have to know, there is a distinct difference in how the law is executed, note below and see if you can tell the difference from these pictures.

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WAR ON WHITES….WTF

Since September 11, 2001 a war was on but it wasn’t against White Folks, we have not lost our privilege we haven’t lost our ground. In fact, we have fought through our elected officials and our corrupt courts all the way up to the highest court in the land to take back what we perceive lost previously. If I say so myself we have done a damned fine job of putting our heel on all those who we think of as ‘less than’ and ‘not like’ and crushing the life out of them. This includes the following:

  • American born Black Men and Women, those who came here in servitude and somewhat freed by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, but have yet to achieve true enfranchisement within this nation. Men and women who have for centuries contributed their labor, served in the military, paid taxes, contributed to our arts and sciences yet whom we have failed miserably to welcome into society as equals.
  • American born Hispanic Men and Women, those who immigrated or were born here and have every right to claim citizenship, who live and work alongside their White neighbors every single day, who serve in the military, pay their taxes and contribute to our arts and sciences, yet who we continue to see as outsiders and ‘illegals’.
  • Immigrants from all nations, some who have come here through legal means and others who have not. Some who have come seeking political asylum and some who have come seeking a better life for their families, seeking the promise of opportunity, democracy and freedom. Many who come from the ‘darker’ nations, those nations that create the diversity of faith and color within this ‘United’ States of America.
  • The original owners of this once abundant land, the People, the Tribes, the Native and Indigenous of all the lands including Alaska and Hawaii, we can never forget those who once roamed freely and called this home. Remembering they have also been disenfranchised and left with dross after the European Anglo Saxon landed and following a policy of Manifest Destiny subsequently proceeded to enslave, commit genocide and steal out from under them this very land now referred to as the United States of America.
  • Let us not for a minute forget women, this war has been ongoing and insidious for a while now and it is ratcheting up every year. Women are the target of a strategy to remove them from the workforce, remove them as an economic force and remove once again their authority over their own body. This war cuts across all race lines and leaves only one line uncrossed, that of the very wealthy who will always have access to what is needed to remain free and unencumbered.

WAR ON WHITES…WTF

What is this fabled war I ask and how is it being waged? Have people of European descent somehow been prevented from access to any of the things they were formally use to accessing?  Are their families broken apart by unfair sentencing laws and the men of their communities targeted for more frequent police stops, despite White folks are far more likely to have contraband (e.g. drugs, guns) in their cars. Are their communities and neighborhoods targets of stop and frisk tactics, swat team home invasions and military policing? Are their schools locked down and falling down? Is the poverty rate, the unemployment rate and the dropout rate higher by double digits, in their communities than anywhere else in the nation. Are their sons bleeding out in the streets of the cities, shot down or chocked out by cops while unarmed with their hands in the air, begging for their lives?

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No? I didn’t think so.

With coded language and sometimes not so coded language there is indeed a war being fought it is not though a war against those of my heritage, it is not against White Folks. Those of us who are wandering through life thinking we are not privileged or that we are somehow losing our privileges need to think again, we need to get a grip on ourselves. We need to remind ourselves when we speak to our children about the facts of life we aren’t telling them about how to conduct themselves during a police stop to save their lives, rather we are telling them where babies come from.

WAR on WHITES…WTF INDEED.

I am heartbroken by what is happening in this nation. Only we can stop it, only those of us with a conscious can stop what is happening in this nation. Only those of us who are sentient and willing to put ourselves on the line can stand up and say enough. Stand Up, Hands Up, Enough. All men and women are my brothers and sisters. All men and women deserve the same rights and privileges. The victim is the one lying dead on the ground, not the white cop who shot him eight times despite the barrage of media trying to turn him into a thug, as someone I love has named it using the Trayvon Defense.

 

Mike Brown lay on the street for more than 4 hours.

Mike Brown lay on the street for more than 4 hours.

 

Time to stand up, no time left to sit back and rest on our laurels, no time for apathy, no time for apathy, no time to turn away from what is uncomfortable. Stand up and say enough, no more children bleeding in our streets.

 

Some things to consider as part of this story:

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/06/ann_coulter_rips_apart_american_ebola_patient_for_going_to_disease_ridden_cesspool/

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/07/joan_rivers_has_more_terrible_things_to_say_about_palestinians_you_deserve_to_be_dead/

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/changing_lanes/2014/08/07/reince_priebus_responds_to_war_on_whites.html

http://crooksandliars.com/cltv/2014/08/white-guy-spews-racist-taunts

Heartbreak at START

my.operaLast Thursday was Victim Impact with young people in the START (Short Term Residential Treatment) program. This where juveniles land when all else fails, when probation conditions have been broken and less intensive interventions are not working. START is the last stop before full on detention in one of Texas’ lock-down facilities is ordered. The program is 90 days, includes peer-to-peer counseling, one-on-one counseling, group counseling, educational resources, parent inclusion and of course Victim Impact.

I have been doing Victim Impact for years now; you would think it would get easier to tell the story, it doesn’t. You would think it wouldn’t hurt so much; you would be wrong. Some days it is worse than others, there are days when my calendar pops up to remind, ready myself to make the drive to whatever facility I am speaking and my heart clenches, my eyes tear up and I think to myself, “what if I just call and cancel, say I am ill or have had a fatal accident.” I never do though, not once in all these years, no matter how much I didn’t want to stand up and tell the story.

Last week, was one of those days. I didn’t want to stand up and talk. I didn’t want to talk about what happened to my family. I didn’t want to talk about the three young men who ruined their own lives. Last week, I simply didn’t want to do any of it. Last week I found myself hard pressed to find compassion in my soul, the one thing I need when I look into the faces of these young people and tell my story.

Sixteen young men and one young woman marched single file into the room and took their seats. If I had to guess their ages, they were between fourteen and sixteen. None older than sixteen, none younger than thirteen, I have seen them younger but I have never seen them older. These are hard young people; they have seen the world through the prism of indifference, anger, hunger, bad schools, racism, drugs, violence, the foster care system and a host of other things most of us can never imagine, not in our wildest and worst nightmares. This program, it is their last shot before they are permanently marked as unsalvageable and outside of societies care.

Image Tradenewswire.net

Image Tradenewswire.net

Despite the admonishment to sit up straight, they slouched down in their seats staring at their own or my feet. There was a rumble through the introductions; my audience clearly did not want to be in this small cramped room to hear what I had to say. Well, honestly, the feeling was mutual but nevertheless here we all were and we were going to get through this together.

When you look at me what do you see?

Every time I start the same, it breaks the ice and helps me understand how far in the process each group is. Their answers rarely differ much, though sometimes we have some fun. This group, they were more observant than most:

  • Scars, you have had a hard life.
  • Tattoos, a few were showing despite being mostly covered by sleeves and pants.
    • ‘You’re OG aren’t you?’
  • Lots of piercings.
  • You thick (said quietly until I made him speak up) then there was lots of laughter.
  • You dress good.
    • I said well and got blank stares, so I explained.
  • You white.
  • You hard but you smile.
  • You seem like you smart.

That was the list. There were a few more, mostly about my clothes, my hair, my eye color. The list is so they can think about it as I talk and so I can reference it when I am done, so I can make my own list.

The story is always the same; it doesn’t change how could it? Slowly their attention begins to shift from the floor to me. This also isn’t unusual; I am a good storyteller able to speak to them in a language they understand with characters they might have known. The protagonists could be them, the victim not a hero but someone they can see. I don’t hold them for ransom keeping the spotlight all to myself instead I allow discussion throughout.

We talk, I answer their questions; some are silly. Yes, it does hurt to be shot. Some are not silly and I have answered this one more than once, No, I do not regret offering to help a young man I thought was in trouble, though the outcome was something terrible. Some questions are hard though I am asked every single time I speak; No, I do not hate Black people, no I am not afraid of Black men young or old, no I do not even hate my offenders.

Then I was asked a question that broke my heart.

“Do you ever wish you hadn’t lived, with all the pain you have suffered since then; do you ever wish you hadn’t survived?”

The question stunned me. I looked into the eyes of this young man, he couldn’t have been more than fifteen, his eyes held such pain. My heart cracked a little bit as I tried to draw air into my lungs and search for the right answer to give. The real answer was, ‘yes, in the early days sometimes I did wish that.’ This though was my answer.

‘No, I don’t regret living. I don’t even regret the pain; it reminds me I am alive. If I hadn’t lived, I would have missed all the joys in my life. Like seeing, my sons marry and holding my grandchildren, like falling in love, more than once. If I hadn’t lived, I wouldn’t have known what it meant to be stronger than I ever knew was possible, overcoming more than I thought possible, learning to walk again and the great joy of going dancing again for the very first time. No, I don’t regret living.’

In that moment, I felt my compassion finally bloom.

I stared at that young man, but at all the young people in the room. I told them again, they had great worth; they were worth more than they believed and they could choose to be more. I told them again I believed and that was why, even when I didn’t want to, I got there and I stood up and talked to them. They asked how I climbed out of where I started from; I told them I read books. They asked what books, I gave them reading lists. I don’t lie to them, I tell them truth about my life, where I came from and what I did that I was really one of them at one time, ‘A real OG.’

Two hours and some change later, I gave them my list:

  • Mother
  • Grandmother
  • Sister
  • Aunt
  • Friend

When they can see a stranger on the street, see instead of ‘other’ they are the same, then they will begin to understand empathy and compassion. By the end though, that is what they saw in me. They didn’t care I wouldn’t tell them my race or ethnic heritage, only that I told them it wasn’t important. They didn’t care that I wouldn’t tell them my religion, only that it informed me.

In my hour-long drive home, I couldn’t stop thinking of some of these young people, the ones who might make it and those who likely wouldn’t. The ones who fronted to look hard but asked questions that told a different story. I weep, for them and for us. We fail them, each time we cut back on education and services, when a young person says to me his only option is to commit crimes if he and his siblings are going to eat that day, I weep. When a young man hangs his head and repeats my story of delinquency, foster care and running away, holding his head in his hands; I know it is his story. I weep. When a young man begs for a reading list because his school isn’t serving him, hungry for knowledge and way out, I weep.

Argicles.businessinsider Image

Argicles.businessinsider Image

 

So should we all weep. But when a young man asks if I sometimes wish I hadn’t survived, then my heart breaks because no fifteen year old child should know that much pain. Ever.

 

Victim Impact the Series: https://valentinelogar.com/category/series-victim-impact/

The Story: https://valentinelogar.com/category/series-crime-and-punishment/

Standing By

soapboxpileThere are times when the world seems to be a terrible place doesn’t it? For those of us who have soapboxes we climb on, sometimes those ladders get a bit shaky we fall on our asses more often than we would like. Those of us who follow the world of dreadful and ghastly, from the halls of the Hill to the streets of any city USA, sometimes we grow weary of the sheer volume of ugly. I know I do, it is my suspicion others do as well.

This morning as I was perusing the wise words of others, three wonderful bloggers poked my soul, my conscious and my self-respect. I am reminded constantly why I am grateful for all the friends I have made in the blogosphere these women are brilliant!

http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2013/09/19/whoah-what-happened/

http://mommasmoneymatters.com/clyde-try-dammit/

http://deborah-bryan.com/2013/09/19/i-am-greater-than-my-fear/

For very different reasons these three entries into my morning touched off my thinking about what I have been doing lately. Why I have been remiss in talking about what bothers me about the world we live in. It isn’t I haven’t had time, I have had more than enough time; truthfully I have had more time than I would like. It isn’t that I can’t, I of course can if I choose to do so; my problem is I have become unwilling to face the storm. This leads to fear, I have become afraid of what others think and of conflict, my ability to withstand the conflict is much lower these days than it has been in the past.

This feeling of dispiritedness, it doesn’t bode well for our nation. So many of us feel this way as we stare into the future and consider our options and the world our children will inherit if we do not move our asses. What do I mean by this? I don’t know that I can fully answer my own question, what I do know is I will not give in to fear or apathy, that road leads to dead ends, obstructionist governments and failures. This is what I believe; I have been failing myself lately. I have, as my friend Red pointed out so well been saying, “I can’t” not because “I can’t” but because I was afraid, maybe I will explore this one with you all in a later post.

This is what I know, I have to stop being afraid, apathetic and foolish. With this thinking in mind, I am going to pick my mantle back up, drape it around my shoulders and start to talk about the things that matter. Maybe some of these things won’t matter to you, they matter to me though and so I am going to talk about them. I am going to stomp my feet and raise my fist and stop being afraid I might offend you or others, I hope I don’t offend you, I hope you will talk back, tell me why you disagree or spread the word if you do agree. Either way, I am going to put my boots back on and return to my roots as a wonk, an activist and someone who actually gives two shits about what happens in the world.

Today, the thing I want to talk about is one of the things that troubles me the most about this country, this is not the only thing that deeply troubles me, there are many more. Nevertheless, this is one close to my heart that plunders my spirit, so let’s talk about Guns –

Yes, I could talk about the Constitution and how most people stomping around waving it as their justification for their personal arsenals have it wrong. I am not going to do that today; I have been down that road and it isn’t necessary to repeat myself I hope. What I am going to do is talk about just one aspect of our deep love affair with violence and guns, the increase in mass murder and spree shooting. What this means for us, how we are becoming increasingly unsafe, how our children are becoming increasingly less safe:

Thirty-one years of killing. Mass murders and spree killing.

Thirty-one years of killing. Mass murders and spree killing.

Look at those numbers in the past thirty-one years. What does that mean? I don’t know, beyond the idea the more easily accessible high-powered guns are, the greater capacity of rounds the more damage and the more likely the body count.

Some of the leading pro-gun lobbyists’ and spokespeople say it is just crazy people doing all this damage, committing all these terrible crimes. Look at this next graph though, it tells a very different story.

MentalHealth_gunpurchase

The known mental health of individual, whether their weapons were purchased legally and how many weapons were used during the commission of their mass / spree killing. This graph is telling, here are a couple of important facts to take away:

• Out of the 149 guns used in the mass murders and spree killings of the past thirty-one years, 23% were obtained illegally.

• Out of the 149 guns used in the mass murders and spree killings of the past thirty-one years, 52% were purchased legally by persons with known mental health disorders.

Finally, there is an issue of gender and race; yes, this is important because we should understand who is committing these crimes so we can begin build an accurate profile of the mass murder and spree killer. Maybe with this profile we can identify them before they kill rather than after.

MassKillers_Gender

We have to stop turning away from the issue of violence on our streets. We must stop pretending it isn’t real, isn’t dangerous and isn’t affecting our quality of life. Every single bullet has a dollar sign engraved in it. Every single American citizen buried due to gun violence is money in the pockets of the NRA, munitions manufacturers and legislatures with their hands out for more. We are as guilty as they are if we continue to passively stand by and accept the excuse, “nothing can be done”.

Something can be done, we can do something; we can refuse to stand by a watch more of our citizens die.

ValentineBullet

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Other interesting sources, including the source of the data for the graphes.

http://www.motherjones.com/special-reports/2012/12/guns-in-america-mass-shootings

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/mass-shootings-investigation

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-victims-2012

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/nra-board-members-selleck-nugent

Guest Post: The Machine

tom1One of my bud’s Tom Nardone of I Am Tom Nardone sent me something he wrote and said he thought of me when he was writing it. I read it a couple of times; I understand why he thought of me so asked if he would like me to publish on my site.

Tom is a funny guy with ambitions to be Awesome, I think he already is. He writes mostly very funny stuff. He also writes about growing up with undiagnosed ADD and how this affected him and his family. He is a great advocate for the ADD community, thought I think he hides his light all too often.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to Tom Nardone and his thoughts on society, crime and punishment.

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Welcome to the Machine

Some people think it is our value of Human life that defines us as a nation. I don’t hear about the Capital punishment debate so much anymore because I do not watch the news, or discuss the issues with those that do. What if we took some lessons from the American manufacturing community concerning the merits of this issue? What would that be like?

A part is born. It is a wonderful day. It makes its first trip down the assembly line. It is treated with care, just the same as all the other parts, of its kind. It goes through the various cycles, processes, and changes, and then onto the next phase in its development. This part will find other parts on its journey that are different than it is. Shortly after this union, they will now head down the assembly line being cared for again at yet another stage of their growth. All of these parts will make up the end product. All of these parts will have a function. It is this end product that the part was built for. This end product is the purpose for which all the parts exist.

Now! The end product is here. It has been a long journey for them all, they have changed so much, and been exposed to different parts and on this glorious day, they are sent out into the world to do what they were born to do.

But now there is an end product, there are expectations. All of the parts will have to work together and get along. There is no room for a part that doesn’t work. They are all expected to function, and while there is some degree of tolerance for errors, in the end it is about the whole machine. This is something that every part knows.

I suspect some of you made the comparison to a child growing up and entering the world as I told this story of parts. While I am pleased with myself for having written this beautiful analogy, I won’t say it is perfect, but for our purposes, it will do.

So this machine (earth) is going along fine and then one of its parts (you) decide to rob a liquor store. Well that is certainly not the function of that part. This cannot be tolerated by the machine because it effects too many other parts and hurts the machines ability to function.

Earth has been having a short period of error free operation, and then one of its parts decide to damage or rob the resources of another random part so that its job will be less strenuous. This is also not within the tolerance level of the machine. The machine needs all its parts to function properly.

Earth is rotating as usual without incident for a few days and then one of its parts decide to sabotage itself while still in the process of doing its job, and endangers the performance of any or all of the parts in the whole machine. This is not within the machines operating tolerance either. This is unacceptable behavior from a working part.

Let’s explore what the American manufacturing community does with the defective parts in their machine

Well there is really no need to explore this. It’s simple. All of their defective units get “SHIT-CANNED!” Let me tell you what they don’t do with their defective units. They do not put them back in the system to rework them for admittance to the assembly line where they can try again. They don’t lock them in a warehouse for a specific period of time with other bad parts. They “SHITCAN” them. They disregard their presence and never consider them again.

Is that what we should do?

In my examples we had represented by “The Machine”, three people who committed three separate crimes; armed robbery, breaking and entering and a DUI were introduced. In this country, we currently do not execute people for these crimes, but we are only aware of what they did from our narrow point of view.

If we look at the armed robbery guy, that person caused a man to be afraid for the rest of his life. Nightmares could possibly render him unable to sleep for who knows how long.

If we look at the people who had their home broken into, they have lost the comfort of peace of mind. They will worry for the rest of their life if someone is in their home while they are away.
In these two examples something was taken that can never be restored not ever.

The worst of the bunch, the DUI guy; Drinking and driving. Well what form of justice would you give to man who took a revolver and put four bullets into it, and then spun the wheel and fired into a daycare center where children were playing? Are their crimes not the same?

I hold human life as dear and as precious as the next guy. It is truly a tragedy when people die at a young age, or when people have to have a life of fear placed upon them. It is hard on the families, and friends.

In our current system, the good guys have more to fear than the bad guys.

Calm Waters

Does the world ever cause you to shake your head in dismay? It does me. There are times it seems we fail to remember our humanity in favor, some lower form, some mockery of all forms we have aspired to through the ages of our span here as humans. We are granted only a short time on earth, in the grand scheme of things just a few short decades to make our mark. Yet for so many of us it seems, our time is spent kicking those who most need a hand up or kicking sand over the footprints that might lead to the path out of the darkness rather than reaching out with a light to show the way.

Despite my recent rant, I have been paying attention to something other than my own desires. I have also been thinking about my recent visits to prisons and juvenile centers. For some reason these have been particularly difficult for me this season, especially the juvenile center and the young men I met there. I have been doing the Victim Impact groups for years now, nine to be exact. Some years are harder than others; I change year to year. My emotional response to what happened to me changes and thus the story changes. The facts don’t change, just how I feel about it. This year of course the real change was all my offenders have been released after twenty years, telling this part of the story was new for me.

Three of the groups were new for me also. Smaller groups, more personal somehow more in my face and perhaps me more in theirs. I don’t think I realized the small ball of anger I had in my heart at the release of my offenders. That anger was why I didn’t want to speak this season, I didn’t want to take my anger into that audience, that anger defeated my reason for speaking and defeated me.

41510_prison-gatesThere is always one, in every group there is always one and the first group of this season was no different. One who thinks I should be sorry for demanding they remain in prison despite their age. One who thinks I somehow ‘victimized’ my offenders despite their offenses against me and their lack of remorse. One who thinks I am somehow the one who should be sorry. Yes, there is always one. This time though I wasn’t my usual pragmatic and willing to discuss his point of view self. No, this time I pulled up a chair and faced him down, I explained what they did was unforgiveable and my loss was unrecoverable. I explained his use of the race card didn’t carry weight since their reason was racial hatred, they didn’t get a pass for historical offenses to which I had no part of. I explained their youth didn’t get them a pass since at their age I was an emancipated adult earning my own way, living on the streets and finding a way to survive.

No, they didn’t get a pass. No matter my instinct as a mother, I wept for them and for their lost youth. No matter my instinct as a human being, I wept for their lost opportunity. No, they didn’t get a pass because they felt no remorse for their terrible acts.

Interestingly, his fellows shut him down. Nearly shouted him down after I was done, I have to wonder if their discussions continued after I left.

Kutnews Image

The juvenile group was different though. I still ache for these young men. I look in their faces and know they are not lost yet, know at least some of them can be saved. Some of them are so young, no older than twelve or thirteen. So eager to talk once they realize I am not going to lecture them but instead going to engage them in discussion and open forum. That I will allow for questions and will answer them as honestly as possible. They think I am funny, they realize I don’t hate them and am not scared of them despite what has happened to me. I tell them, I was once just like them a juvenile delinquent someone the courts held no hope for. When I tell them this, at first they don’t believe me then a light shines in their eyes and they begin to open up.

There was one this time, at first he made clear he didn’t want to be there. He sat with arms crossed in front of him and glared. He was a leader, it was clear. He thought he was all that and so did all the young men around him. If these young men were going to learn anything he was going to have to be won over, he was my target. He was so smart, so full of life and so lost. I won him within ten minutes just by talking to him.

I made him laugh. He asked me if I was afraid of him, if I was afraid of black men, or young black men. I asked him why I would be. He explained to me, because young black men had shot me. Well of course, that makes sense I said. I asked him should I be afraid of all teenagers. He asked why I would be afraid of all teenagers. I explained teenagers shot me, that made as much sense. He stared at me for a few seconds and started laughing, told me that was stupid and I said so was his premise. He asked what a premise was, I explained it to him. From then on the entire group talked, asked questions.

His friend made me want to cry. When we talked about how to change directions, who they had to apologize to and how to start on a new path one of the key components to success was family. Support structures, their need to be strong support for their younger siblings and begin to show their families positive changes to build trust. His friend quietly asked, “What if you don’t have a family?”

Some of these young men don’t have families to return to. It is why they are there, in ‘jail’. They have nowhere to go, no place to call home. This is it. Home is a place with bars on the windows, shackles on their ankles and a future that is bleak, at best.

I left that day feeling glad I hadn’t begged off despite not wanting to be there. I was reminded why I do Victim Impact, touching one life it is worth it. It has taken me a few weeks to write about this season, it was a hard one. I can’t say I don’t know why, I do. Each season is different, this one was hard but taught me lessons I needed to learn. Lessons about anger and letting go, lessons about humility.

Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained you shall live. Marcus Aurelius

Hard Stop Sanity

If I haven’t visited you lately I apologize, I had a very difficult time processing my feelings after the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary this past Friday. I have watched social media for the week, watched friends and family make their personal stands on the issues of gun control, mental health and a host of other surrounding issues. This is a disclaimer, I am not a mental health expert, I am not an expert on the Constitution nor am I an expert on all the issues surrounding firearms, murder rates or suicide. I am a parent and a grandparent, I am a victim of violent crime, I am a survivor of domestic violence and I am a citizen of the United States. I care about living in a civil and sane society in the future and I care about the future of my children and grandchildren.

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At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln, Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois January 27, 1838

We are complicit through our inaction, through our fear and our refusal to acknowledge the issues we create through greed, ignorance and ideology. Yes, I said it we created the Hell that sees our children dying in their classrooms, in the streets, in the mall. We are responsible for this mayhem, this chaos this vicious cycle.

We are a nation of paranoids, a nation of victims wrapped in flags with Bibles in one hand and high capacity military grade weapons in the other. What are we afraid of? Oh sure, the government is tyrannical and somehow we must protect ourselves (hint: even with the weapons you have they have better ones). Of course, you need these high capacity clips and assault weapons to defend your home (hint: if you have fired 100 rounds in 30 seconds Bible&Gunsyou have likely killed your own family along with the bad guys and if they aren’t down you aren’t getting out alive).

We should not be quick to jump to conclusions, we should not be quick to slap that ‘insanity’ label on giving us the excuse to wipe our hands and carry on with our mundane lives. The truth is, most spree murderers are not clinically ‘insane’, do not have long-term psychiatric problems and are not psychotic. The make-up of the mass murder is changing, what isn’t changing is access to high-capacity magazines and military guns making the death toll higher.

The meme of those who demand their Second Amendment rights remain sacrosanct:

  • Guns don’t kill people Kill
  • 64,999,987 legal gun owners killed no one yesterday
  • Know guns, know peace and safety. No guns, no peace nor safety.
  • Gun control is hitting what you aim at.
  • The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.

Don’t you just love some of those? Yeah, me too they make me all warm and fuzzy; not.

In light of the tragedies of recent years, does the above stupidity hold weight? Can we honestly stand aside and allow our nation to continue to hold the record for death by gun violence among other high income nations, is this what we should be proud of?

Just a small slice

Just a small slice

I am pragmatic; the monster is already out of the box. We cannot fix what is already so tragically broken. We cannot change the minds or hearts of those who believe the only way to a Civil society is by arming themselves, arming school teachers, arming college students in their classrooms and dorms. We cannot change a society convinced they must be armed to the teeth, in their homes, their cars and walking the streets to protect themselves from the government, those violent ‘others’ they heard about or the zombie apocalypse.

Let’s start with some facts; I think it is important to make this a non-partisan issue:

  • Gun owners are both ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’
  • When the Constitution was written, guns were breach load muskets single shot
  • Slave and Land holders wrote the Constitution; in fact, within the first ten amendments slavery is ratified. We do occasionally see the error of our ways and correct them, the Constitution was not written on stone tables by a lightning bolt shot from on high.
  • Anyone is able to purchase any type of firearm, including military grade semi-automatic rifles and handguns without a background check or waiting period in the secondary market (gun shows and private sales, including the internet). Forty percent (40%) of all legally purchased firearms are purchased this way.
  • Anyone can purchase as much ammunition in any clip size as they want without any tracking, registration or license on the internet.
  • Approximately 10,000 people are murdered every year in gun violence, many of them teenagers.

There are those who say their right to bear arms, their right to conceal carry, their right to own any weapon and any clip size is inviolate. They say armed rebellion would be the result of any attempt at Gun Control, they say SCOTUS has confirmed their right in District of Columbia v Heller to be armed and dangerous under any and all circumstances and without restraint.

This is what I say; I say there must be some middle ground that satisfies all of us. There must be some middle ground that stops the senseless deaths of our children and the murderous rampages in our public places.

This is what I believe must happen if we are ever to begin to heal this nation:

  • Require national registration
  • Demand Conceal Carry permits only in the following circumstance and make this a federal mandate:
    • Show true need (e.g. over the road truck drivers, certain security personnel, off duty police)
    • Attend regular training
  • Require same background check and waiting period in secondary market as in gun stores
  • Create national mental health registry
  • Update criminal background check registry to include domestic violence
  • Do not allow restoration of civil rights after time-served to allow gun purchase for violent criminals
  • Update background check to include Terrorist Watch List
  • Limit Clip Size to 10 rounds
  • Do not allow private purchase without background checks, make private sales illegal even between family members
  • Shut down internet sales of ammunition
  • Require gun safes in the home of all gun owners with children under 18
  • Raise the age limit to 25 for legal purchase and gun ownership
  • Require gun safety class before purchase
  • Change Stand your Ground laws to apply only to personal property / personal homes make this federal rather than state by state
  • Create a federal buy-back program to get illegal guns off the streets of our cities, give it two (2) years. Within the scope of the buy-back program, strengthen the laws and penalties for owning an illegal gun, selling a gun illegally and for using an illegal gun in the commission of a crime.

I don’t want to take your guns. I want sanity and safety. I would rather not call it gun control, I would rather call it Gun Sanity. These days I am afraid to go to the theater, the mall or anywhere else. If you are a gun owner, frankly I am afraid of you. Is this really the world any of us want?

http://www.academia.edu/1199492/Hegemonic_Masculinity_and_Mass_Murderers_in_the_United_States

http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunviolence?s=1

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/in-gun-ownership-statistics-partisan-divide-is-sharp/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

Hunting Goodwill

560px-DespondentAngelMetCemHeadWander the malls festooned with fake glitter and false boughs of pine, blasting Christmas carols of peace on earth and goodwill towards all men. Peace and goodwill, one has to wonder how we accomplish this wondrous peace and goodwill when one of our nation’s most dominate and viciously protected rights is the ‘right’ to bear arms.

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Goodwill indeed, twenty children under 10 years of age dead, twenty-eight people in all but TWENTY CHILDREN shot to death in their classroom. Twenty mothers and fathers, who will never again kiss their children goodnight, never again tuck them in at night. Twenty parents, who will not see their children grow to adulthood, who will not watch with pride as their children graduate, marry and have children of their own. All their dreams lay wasted at the end of a gun wielded by a twenty year old with access to the legal guns of his mother. LEGALLY OBTAINED GUNS.

The Second Amendment is ensconced in our national psyche, come hell or high water we will hang on to our effing guns. No matter the innocent lives laid in the cold ground, the families in mourning, by God and all his Angels we will keep our guns and our ammunition and our rights to bear it all without interference of any kind. No one will touch those rights, no matter what. My and other people’s personal right to safety on the streets, in the mall, in theaters or in the classroom will sgen577hnever be considered, we do not count in the grand scheme and neither do any other gun violence victims. So long as the Neanderthals in the NRA can convince enough people it is viable they might someday need to protect themselves from the government, or save a life during a mass shooting, or battle a zombie horde by keeping a well-stocked arsenal in their basement and a side-arm concealed, just in case.

Without Registration and without Limitations, we will by all that is holy and by Hell and the Damned, protect our Right to Own our Arsenal, to Conceal Carry and there is not a damned thing anyone can do or say to limit this right. If anyone suggests otherwise they will be demonized, they will be called fanatics; they will be debrided, sometimes painfully so. They will certainly be taken to hard task for their unpopular position; friends and family will drive them into corners with meme that are not defensible in the face of the innocent lives lost.

I have been lashed with it all before and those who have lashed me both friends and family forget sometimes I was left on a dark road with three bullets in me bleeding out and dying but they by God thought it important for me to know I was an effing idiot for my position. So be my guest in the future, call me a fanatic. I am sick in my soul of hearing about gun rights and the Second Amendment. Call me a fanatic, those of you who believe your rights outweigh my rights or the rights of the following:

  • the twenty children and six adults dead today at Sandy Hook elementary school
  • those wounded in the mall last week in Oregon
  • the twelve dead Aurora victims
  • the two teenagers victims of Stand your Ground killings in Florida in this past year (Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis)
  • or tell Nick Rainey the 30 year-old salesman also killed in Florida, with a defendant also using the nefarious Stand your Ground defense
  • Gabby Gifford and the six dead in the same shooting victims of the Arizona shooting
  • the victims at the Sihk Temple in Wisconsin
  • the Chardon victims, Daniel Parmertor, 16; Demetrius Hewlin, 16; and Russell King Jr., 17

These are just 24 months’ worth of random killings or attempts at them. We thought Aurora was terrible, we mourned for a brief moment social media blew up for a minute, apparently not hard enough or long enough. We demanded justice for Trayvon, but barely blinked for Nick or Jordan. The Chardon victims barely made the news, and the Ohio mall was not even a blip on our radar likely because there was no massacre, no random death to titillate us or incite the media for hour upon hour, day upon day.

There are more, there are always more aren’t there? The children lying in the streets of our cities mowed down by illegal guns. The women and sometimes their children, lying in pools of their own blood murdered by their partners by legal guns in fits of rage.  Yes, please call me a fanatic, call me a zealot, call me anything at all I simply do not give a damn what you call me because I am all those things. I will become all those things, I will stop here and now trying to strike a balance between politically correct and my honest belief guns are no longer needful things in the hands of private citizens without limitations, regulation or oversight.

I am tired of all of it, the senseless death, the random violence the terrible and horrifying loss of life. I am tired of children losing their life before they reach adulthood. I am sick of the politics of money taking the front seat to the lives of people. I am tired and worn out, heartsick as I watch news of the shooting of Sandy Hook Elementary and the 26 deaths at the school, plus the shooters mother in her own home and by one of her own legal guns. I am sick to death of those who wrap themselves in sanctity and patriotism, scared to say no more, it is time to change the rules and be damned the NRA and the love affair with violence and guns.

I am bored with the idiotic motto of fools with guns and a love of random and unnecessary violence, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people’.

Well, I guess Sandy Hook Elementary School just goes to show what happens when a Human is wielded by a Gun doesn’t it?

I am effin’ tired of the idiots who suggest a car is an equally dangerous weapon. Or murder would still happen with a knife if a person wanted murder, yes you azzhats that is true however, a lunatic with a knife could not kill TWENTY CHILDREN in less than 5 minutes.

This morning the bodies of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims have not been moved from where they fell. The children remain on the floor of the school, unreleased to their families, as the school remains a Crime Scene under investigation.

I weep for the families, all of them. I know what my family went through when I was shot and left for dead. I know what I go through even now twenty years later. These survivors, the children will need enormous support systems for years to come. The families who lost children will never fully recover, their loss is unspeakable what they have lost will never be recovered.

I tire of hearing ‘now is not the time, each and every time a tragedy happens and we see terrible loss’, I must ask if not now then when?

Sandpaper on Silk

This has been a rough year, I mentioned that in a previous post and I mentioned some of the reasons why. This year I celebrated (I use this word tongue in cheek) my twenty year anniversary, February 7, 1992 was the day myrubyslippers life changed though at the time I wouldn’t know this single event would be life changing. All year I have been exploring my inner world and the events of my life that created that inner world. Some days I feel caught, as if I am Dorothy but the tornado didn’t drop my house in Oz and I do not have Ruby Slippers.

Nearly a year ago I told the story of February 7th, for those who have never read it feel free to jump over to Crime, Punishment and Victims. As part of that story, I provided this simple table, which I have changed to provide release dates:

Charge Sentence Date Release Date First Eligible Release Parole Date Birth Date Actual Release Date
Att Cap Murder w/ Deadly 8/12/92 3/13/12 3/31/97 12/14/75 3/12
2 counts Att Cap Murder w/Deadly 4/13/93 3/9/27 7/12/00 6/18/76 10/12
2 counts Att Cap Murder w/Deadly Agg Robbery w/Deadly 3/8/93 3/5/27 3/12/00 3/5/76 11/12

Yes, you read the above right, all of my personal offenders are now free. When I wrote On My Knees in October, only one had received his parole approval. Since that writing, something else happened, in November the final blow to my already shattered spirit, shortly before Thanksgiving the last of the three walked free with his parole. I simply could not write then, I couldn’t put fingers to keyboard, it has taken me weeks till now in truth to say they are all free.

Yesterday morning I was in my doctor’s office, we were discussing the weakness in my arm. Why during the course of the day my right arm will suddenly become weak, I suddenly can’t type, why the escalation in pain over the past several months. I adore my Neurologist, for several reasons but mostly because he is patient with me, patient with my complaints. We both know what is wrong, I suspect we both know I cannot continue to ignore the obvious, but he has not pushed me to surgery earlier than I was ready to accept the inevitable, I am not going to miraculously leap up healed. He is also not a pill pusher, which I appreciate even more than anyone could possibly imagine. We now have a plan, I don’t love the plan; I have been avoiding major surgery for a few years, it is likely I will not be able to avoid any longer.

When the first of the three walked out the prison gates, he had served his sentence. It was a mixed set of emotions I felt, but he had served his entire sentence he was done and free. When I received the first notice of parole in October, I was as the title of my post says on my knees. I couldn’t breathe for days; my fury was so hot I lashed out at everyone around me. Then November came, the third letter came. Honestly, I thought this one would be a notification of denial, surely they wouldn’t grant another parole, would they?

Parole

Really? Parole?

  • I can’t sleep through an entire night, because of pain.
  • I can’t sit for more than two hours without tears of pain.
  • I can’t walk for more than fifteen minutes without my right leg going entirely numb.
  • There are times during the day, I can’t feel my right arm, my hand goes numb, my entire right side goes numb. There are times I am in so much pain I want to scream.

Parole?

What have they done to deserve parole?

I have to have more surgery. I have to risk my life under anesthesia for the possibility of life with less pain.

They get parole seventeen years early.

Parole? I am trying to find my compassion button.

compassionbutton

I am trying to find the place in me that agrees this is fair and just. I am trying hard to say this is not about me but simply part of the system. Victims are truly not part of the equation, though we are notified and we are invited to say our piece to courts and parole boards, it isn’t truly about us. We are not part of the criminal justice system; it is not about us in any real sense. I know this, intellectually I know this; my heart doesn’t follow my mind.

When an offender is arrested and goes to trial it becomes THE STATE vs THE OFFENDER

That is the truth; it isn’t really about the true victim any longer. The victim is simply a witness to the crime. No matter how horrific the crime, no matter the terror, no matter the injury, no matter anything at all the victim is simply a witness for the State, the State is in fact the Victim. I always have to remind myself of that simple and ugly truth.

What I really felt that day was what I felt twenty years ago after they were arrested and I sat in the DA’s office talking about their sentencing, I knew someday this day would come. I didn’t know then I would evolve or change, I only knew I was furious and wanted revenge. I told him I didn’t want them in prison I wanted them on their knees in front of me, on a dark street, I wanted the gun they had used to shoot me and I wanted to shoot them in exactly the same way. If they survived as I had, under the very same circumstances they could remain free, if not Que Sera. I was primitive that day. I was primitive twenty years later, it was as if I hadn’t evolved at all and I was a little bit ashamed.

So, back to this has been a rough year. As I line up those dominoes so I can hopefully knock them down. The second letter of parole, yeah that was one, that one knocked me over. That one hurt. Honestly, I don’t often call myself a Victim, I don’t like the word and I certainly don’t like it applied to me. But that day, when I opened that letter Victim was aptly applied to how I felt.

I am struggling to breathe through all these different issues and find my footing. I refuse to allow this year a stranglehold, yes it has been rough, sandpaper would have been gentler. There is light though and it is not a train, my soul takes flight even through these difficult patches of pain, anger and frustration. One by one, I am going to let them go, the dominoes will fall and I am eternally grateful for the wonderful friends in my corner who keep shouting at me…….

JUST BREATH

From Megaphotos, as always dance is my idea of breathing

From Megaphotos, as always dance is my idea of breathing

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