Archive for the ‘law’ Category

I spent much of the week following the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial and the not guilty verdict online trying to reason with Zimmerman supporters.

Now, being a trained journalist and a fairly astute judge of people, particularly based on what I have seen and heard following the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black youth by an armed, shall we say, non-Black adult, many Zimmerman supporters will already take umbrage with what little I have written above. But I tend to choose (at least most of) my words carefully and I chose the words “reason with” on purpose, knowing that they might offend some.

I do not use this terminology to impart some sense of superiority or to be purposely divisive but to point out that if you say something as (what I think is) innocuous as “Trayvon Martin was just a kid walking home minding his own business” before he was killed, you unleash a stream of passion that no amount of argument seems able to penetrate.

Another way of saying this is, although I expressed no opinion one way or another as to the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman, people made assumptions about my opinions  as to the outcome of the trial based on that one statement and my race, which, I might point out, was apparent in my postings. One thing is clear in the online “conversations”; if race was not a part of the trial, it is the driving force behind all of the discussions about Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s resultant trial.

What many — not all —White people can’t understand or admit is that it is not just Black people who see all of this as a race issue. They do too. Not only do Black people see this case as having social ramifications beyond one case. White people do too. They are just loath to admit it honestly and openly. They couch their race discussions as presentations of “facts” while accusing Black people of being overcome by “passion”, racial paranoia or worse.

Let me be clear. When I say, “if race was not a part of the trial” I am not saying race did not enter that courtroom or that race did not color that encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin on that February evening in 2012 when Zimmerman followed and ultimately killed the 17-year-old. I am not saying that race did not enter the jury room as deliberations unfolded. I am saying that just because you don’t speak the word doesn’t

Al Sharpton lynching

This Investor’s Business Daily cartoon by Michael Ramirez, leveled at the Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist and MSNBC host, after the Zimmerman trial verdict, uses racially charged imagery to make its point. Lynchings were used well into the 1900s to oppress African Americans, a fact that remains close to the consciousness of many Black people.

mean it isn’t there. I am merely acknowledging those who state that race played no part in this case. I hear you, but you’re wrong.

So, on the one hand you have people — White and Black — saying this trial outcome offers an opportunity for an honest conversation about race and on the other hand you have White people saying “What are you talking about? This case wasn’t about race, why should we talk about race?”

This is how you know this case and its aftermath was and is about race for the White people who say it is not about race or those who have charged Black people with making a racial issue where none existed. They dredge up every racial grievance against Black people they can think of even though those grievances have absolutely nothing to do with Trayvon Martin, the Zimmerman case or themselves! They rant about O.J. Simpson, President Obama (he’s not only racially divisive, he’s a socialist), the Duke lacrosse team, Tawana Bradley, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rodney King  and any other story they have ever heard or read that even remotely involves a Black person in a negative light. They cite “facts” promulgated from every White nationalist blog on the Internet by rote as proof that Blacks as a whole are bad people and just don’t want to admit it.

Interestingly, those posting these “facts” about African-Americans are either unaware or uncaring that what they are writing (or in the case of television or radio saying) might be perceived by African Americans as insulting, hurtful or untrue. There seems little recognition that Black people are people. That we are, well, humans, just like White people. We have some unique challenges, yes, but we breathe air, we eat food, we bleed red blood and we have thoughts, feelings and problems just as they do. There seems to be an overwhelming attitude that Black people are not entitled to any kind of feelings — whether it is fear of being stopped by police or of being followed by strangers or of being insulted by those emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet or by those earning the millions of dollars they earn from the racist idiocy they spew about us in print and on the airways.

Trayvon Martin

This photo of 33-year-old Jayceon Terrell Taylor aka rapper, “The Game”, is being circulated as a recent photo of Trayvon Martin, the photo the mainstream media won’t show you. Zimmerman supporters are using the photo to support their argument that Martin was actually 6’2″ and 175 pounds and could easily have crushed George Zimmerman in a fight.

So many White people have taken this tragedy to chastise the President as being racially divisive just for saying “if I had a son he would look like Trayvon” when if we truly lived in the post-racial, color blind society they claim we live in they could envision their own son standing in Trayvon’s shoes. Can you ask yourself, what is it that makes you unable to accept that Trayvon Martin was a child, a human being, who could have been your child, your brother, your nephew, who was confronted by a full-grown adult? In a situation involving a child, a teenager, a young adult, who has the ultimate responsibility to act in an adult manner? Those of you who want to proclaim that the President is not Black because his mother is White, pretend he was speaking of his “White half.” Could you then find some empathy toward a family that has been nothing but classy through this whole ordeal?

White people seem extremely comfortable telling African Americans how we should think, feel and act when they would never accept the same from us. Many of them have taken this as an opportunity to do so. Can you imagine the backlash were Black commentators to fill the airwaves every night lamenting the 38.8 % of White people on welfare as obviously only wanting to suck on the government teat rather than work or if they lamented the disintegration of the White family because of those 9.5 million White kids living in single-parent households, and that all of those children (under age 18 who live with their own single parent either in a family or subfamily) were certain to grow up to be thugs? And what about that staggering 84 percent White on White murder rate? Pretty horrifying. Why aren’t White people doing something about that?

To be sure, many White people are aware of their Whiteness and the privilege that attaches to it. Unfortunately these people are often dismissed by other White people as victims of “political correctness” gone amok, as blinded by White guilt or attacked as what used to be called “race traitors”. People like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and many of their viewers and listeners would do well to listen and learn from them. Here’s a newsflash: not all of those who see a problem are President Obama supporters or left-wing radicals. Even if they were, that would not disqualify them from understanding what it means to be a White person in America today or from exhibiting compassion or empathy toward people who do not look like them (as far as color goes), traits the exhibition of which have been severely lacking in the aftermath of the death of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman.

Those who are seeking a conversation about race are not trying to take your Whiteness away from you. You are welcome to keep it. You are welcome to talk about it with us. That is not a bad thing to do. We are not willing to accept it as a badge of superiority where you get to use it as your birthright to tell us how we should feel or live. The last thing we need is White people lecturing to us about race and racial issues when they themselves have not come to grips with them. African Americans are forced to live with the consequences every day.

So, my White sisters and brothers, if you’re still not convinced, let me try one more line of argument to try to persuade you that we should talk about race. We should have this talk because you are angry, you’re hurting and you’re afraid. We should talk about it because you have some legitimate grievances but you’re taking out your hurt, anger, fear and grievances on the wrong people. Despite the fact a lot of people are trying to convince you otherwise, Black people are not your enemies. We should talk about race because there are some very important people who don’t want us to talk because they are afraid that if we do we might discover that we like each other and then we will focus our anger in the right places. We should talk about race because we have more in common than you might recognize because we don’t talk. We should talk about race because you don’t seem to know that it is okay to notice or even talk about your own or another person’s race. To notice that a Black person is Black is not in and of itself racist. It is what one does with this knowledge that determines whether one is “racist,” a term which is really of limited value in a conversation about race.

This case could provide an opportunity, but it won’t unless something drastic happens — and it hasn’t yet. At least it hasn’t for a lot of White people. You can’t have a telephone conversation if the person on the other end won’t pick up the phone. And too many White people aren’t ready to accept the call for an honest racial conversation. They believe the call for such a conversation all by itself is racially divisive. They fear that to accept the call is to accept the label “racist.” Once again, they would be wrong and that is precisely why we need to talk.

So as I see it, we are at a crossroads, one of many we will approach. White people can stick their fingers in their ears and say, “Lalalalalala, I can’t hear you,” or you can be willing to listen before you talk, and learn.

Please read “A Race is a Nice Thing to Have: A Guide to Being A White Person or Understanding the White Persons In Your Life” by Janet E. Helms, Phd

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Independent thinking isn’t encouraged in the military. Marines don’t all have those same haircuts because they want them. They don’t run through those obstacle courses, dress alike or even go to live in Iraq or Afghanistan for years just because they want to do so. You don’t question your superiors in the military because you can’t. Lives depend on unquestioned authority. Once you take the oath, you don’t get to pick and choose what you will and won’t do.

As a Marine, I’m sure that if U.S. Marine Sgt. Gary Stein gave an enlisted man or woman an order he would not expect him or her to ask why? He would expect immediate compliance.  He should expect no less of himself.

Gary Stein chose the Tea Party over the Marines, his President and his Country and so he has no right to whine when his Country demands he turn in his uniform.

A Marine Corps administrative board has recommended that U.S. Marine Sgt. Stein be given an other-than-honorable discharge because it says he violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Department of Defense policy on political speech when he posted anti-Obama comments.

Sgt. Stein claims he was exercising his First Amendment rights on his Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page when he posted pictures of the President superimposed on posters of the movies “Jackass” and the “Impossibles” (which he re-titled the “Horribles”) and also posted that he would not obey an order from President Barack Obama.

In creating and administering a public Facebook page and in posting comments which his superiors say “were prejudicial to good order and discipline, and (which) could have influenced junior Marines” on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists Stein chose to walk a not-so-fine line. He made a deliberate choice to continue to walk that line when the Marines suggested his Tea Party page might reflect poorly on the Marines. Stein took down the page, and made the decision on his own to repost the page after adding a disclaimer saying that it was not a product of the United States Armed Services and modifying his stance on the President to read that he would not obey an “unlawful” order.

Department of Defense Directives 1344.10 limits permissible political activity while one is in active service. That is as it was when Sgt. Stein enlisted and that is how it continues to this day. The Directive states that a member of the Armed Forces on active duty “may express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces.”

Stein maintained in a lawsuit filed in Federal Court that he was exercising his First Amendment rights and was not in violation of military policies when he criticized President Barack Obama on his Facebook page. He argued that even if he had violated the policy then the policy was itself unlawful as it violated his right of free speech. He sought to stop the administrative separation hearing that ultimately recommended his dismissal. The Court on April 13 refused to intercede in the military proceedings.
All protestations aside, Stein pretty much gave up his First Amendment rights when he joined the Marines, at least as far as criticizing his Commander in Chief goes and he knew it. The military has had a policy since the Civil War limiting the free speech of service members, including criticism of the Commander in Chief.

The argument that he wasn’t identifying himself as a Marine on his page doesn’t fly. The argument that he was on his own time or not on duty doesn’t work either. Marines, soldiers, sailors, are kind of like police officers, fire fighters or parents; they are never off duty, even when they take off their uniforms.

Then there’s that pesky oath he took when he enlisted. The one that goes like this:

      “I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

 See, on day one he promised to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me” both of which he flouted in suggesting he would decide what was an unlawful order. The Marine Corps cannot risk keeping a Marine who may decide to lay down his arms if he decides he disagrees with the cause.

Stein cited a 1999 District Court case, Rigdon v. Perry, as support for his argument that he maintained free speech rights but that argument fails for a couple of reasons. First, it is a Memorandum Decision and therefore cannot be relied upon as precedent and second, that case dealt with military chaplains and the right to free speech in the context of religious freedom.

In that case the Court said:

The “speech” that the plaintiffs intend to employ to inform their congregants of their religious obligations has nothing to do with their role in the military. They are neither being disrespectful to the Armed Forces nor in any way urging their congregants to defy military orders. The chaplains in this case seek to preach only what they would tell their non-military congregants. There is no need for heavy-handed censorship, and any attempt to impinge on the plaintiffs’ constitutional and legal rights is not acceptable.”

This case applies to military chaplains, which Stein is not, and their religious messages even when those messages have political overtones.

It is important to note that the Court said:

“Again, there is no evidence that military readiness or efficiency would be jeopardized(emphasis added) by permitting chaplains to preach in accordance with their religious beliefs.”

You see, when you talk about a chaplain preaching you’re not talking about someone giving a life and death order. The Court noted that military chaplains don’t affect the military part of the military. In Stein’s part of the military, military readiness or efficiency is the very reason for its existence.

So Sgt. Stein was warned and he deliberately chose to pursue his political activity. The administrative board did not buy his argument that the rules were not clear regarding criticism of the Commander in Chief specifically by “social media.” The board’s recommendations of an other-than-honorable discharge go to a general who will either accept or deny them within the next three weeks. If the general disagrees with the board, the case could go to the secretary of the Navy.

 Sgt. Stein was clever enough to make fun of the President. He needs to be man enough to face the consequences.
– Photo PatriotIcon.org

What Shall We Do, Just Die?

Posted: July 6, 2011 in 50s, law

They call it “the New Ageism.”

You see it’s not that ageism itself is new; it’s the fact that it’s being experienced by people at a much younger age that’s a new phenomena.

We baby boomers are finding that every day in every way people are finding new ways to discriminate against us, whether it is in employment, healthcare or entertainment. Everyone (the universal everyone) begins to over look us and treat us as second-class citizens as soon as we turn 50.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We’re much too young for this to be happening to us. We’re much too young to be unable to find jobs and we’re way too young to retire.  We worked all of those years paying into Social Security and Medicare with the expectation that they’d be there waiting for us. We didn’t expect them to be yanked away from us.

First of all, we don’t feel as old as everyone is treating us and we certainly aren’t ready to “act our age.” As I’m sure you’ve no doubt heard already, we’re much younger and healthier than our parents were when they were our age and we’re more savvy and capable than they were too. In many cases we’re much healthier, capable and savvy – and certainly more reliable – than many of the 30-somethings companies seem to prefer to hire instead of us. Although many of us (I’m not one of them) expected to be wealthy enough to retire at an early age, we didn’t expect to be forced to retire this early – in our 50s – when we should be adding to our retirement investments rather than drawing on them just to live another day because no one will hire us.

And here’s the magic question. If we spend our retirement savings today, penalties for early withdrawal and all, what will we have to live on when we really get old? Fear?

We expected to be living the high life, locking our parents away in nursing homes where we’d only have to visit old age every once in a while and here we find ourselves being treated as if we are our parents. After a certain age we believed our parents to be useless members of society who needed to be hidden away from the rest of society – only they were in their 80s. We’re only 50 or 60, and we feel 30 dammit. We’re not old yet. So why is the world treating us as if our useful days are over?

I suppose there are a couple of ways you could answer that question, one being that the world isn’t treating the over 50s any differently from anyone else. That’s a popular argument these days.

Unemployment is high. Everyone is looking for a job and companies are either hiring the best qualified or at least those with the best looking resume. Another argument is that the over 50s are under qualified for the jobs that are open. They lack the experience and training to fill the positions or they are unwilling to pick up the skills today’s jobs demand.

We’re not trying hard enough. We’re not trying the right tactics. We’re all wrong in every way.

Whatever the case, more and more over 50s are getting the idea that employers just want us to go away and no one wants to admit it.

Don’t just take my word for it.

There’s JPS from Park Slope who wrote in after a radio show in May wherein the topic was “the New Ageism.” JPS said:

 “Age Discrimination Employment Act is currently one of the elephants in the room. I was explicitly told by the CEO of a firm I was with not to hire older workers. I told him about the legal issues and he was not aware of the Discrimination act. He was 30 at the time and I was 35. Now I see it all the time. The trend is here. I went to Google and I saw rows and rows of 20 somethings. But all of the senior execs were 35 – 40 + who actually did the decision making. The top research people happen to be older. Tells you something don’t it?

What are older workers who aren’t wealthy to do? Kill themselves? Didn’t the Nazis engage in that that with the infirmed and the people they thought couldn’t contribute?” …

Mike from NYC related:

“…Since I was laid off I have not been able to find another job. On at least one occasion, at my former work place, my application was passed over for a younger, less experienced person. For another job I was asked my previous salary had been and since it was 10% over what the job was offering, I was told I was not eligible. In other words, I was denied a position because of the years of successful experience I had had at a nearly identical job. What is that other than age discrimination by another tactic? My unemployment insurance has run out. I have had to take early social security, but now the Republican politicians and some conservative Democrats are claiming that the retirement age must be increased. What are people laid off in middle age, like me, supposed to do? Just go away and die?”

There are hundreds (likely thousands) of people over 50 who are feeling the sting of discrimination in hiring who are telling their stories but is anyone listening? More and more they are questioning how they are to live in a society that seems dedicated to pushing them aside.

It might sound a little melodramatic but is it such a far stretch from we want to deny you a way of sustenance to why don’t you just go away and die? If you haven’t been able to find a job for three or four years, you have no unemployment insurance, you have no healthcare coverage and you have no retirement income to rely upon, what is a reasonable person to think?

You draw the conclusions. Then if you are in a position to do something about it, do something.

To read more about the New Ageism follow the links below. To do something about the ageism in hiring, contact me at jlmindell@gmail.com.