Log inskip to content

Archive for the 'In the News' Category

Dorothy Rabinowitz Blames Deepak

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Reporter and WSJ Editor, Dorothy Rabinowitz, took author and spiritualist Deepak Chopra to task in her piece, Deepak Blames America, in the Wall Street Journal this past week.  Her reasoning for the condemnation was that she simply disagreed with his views - and his offered solutions - on the terrorist problem gripping the Middle East and, in particular, the Mumbai terror assault.

In Rabinowitz's mind, Deepak wasn't contributing peaceful ideas on ending terrorism, but - rather - attacking America.  True though Mr. Chopra's statements may be, any negativity expressed concerning America is seen, by the conservative right, as an "attack" on the country itself.  Perhaps Dorothy Rabinowitz would do well to keep in mind that this great nation was built on the spirit of debate and opposing viewpoints; in fact, it is the heart and soul behind the creation of the First Amendment.  As is often said, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism".

One of the most unfounded and discreditable parts of the article - in my opinion - was this:

How the ebullient Dr. Chopra had come to be chosen as an authority on terror remains something of a mystery...

I fail to see how Mrs. Rabinowitz can so easily question Deepak Chopra's "authority" on terrorism. It takes little fact-checking to learn that Mr. Chopra has had quite personal experience with terrorism and knows, firsthand, the regions in which these conflicts are going on.  Let us not forget that he was, also, born in Pakistan to parents escaping the area now known as Islamabad.

He may not be an "authority", but he certainly has more personal experience with what he is talking about than she does. Mr. Chopra's family grew up surrounded by this very terrorism, and he has lost family members and loved ones to its horrors. He knows the areas in question, the groups responsible, and the people it is affecting. Obviously, we owe some respect to Mr. Chopra's ideology with his being privy to such.

Personally, I would be more inclined to listen to Mr. Chopra's ideas on creating peace out of the hell and havoc that is there now than from someone like Mrs. Rabinowitz, whose only answer to ending the reign of terror is to attack someone who offers an intimately composed solution. Whether she agrees with Mr. Chopra's ideals or not, it is no reason to personally attack him in a public forum with a libelous and ostentatious headline.

For more reading on this, I urge you to read Deepak Chopra's response over at Huffington Post, and the beautifully astute and decorous rebuttal Deepak's son, Gotham Chopra, offered on Intent.com.  A more detailed rejoinder is A Fuller and More Detailed Response to Dorothy Rabinowit'z Attack on Me in the Wall Street Journal; a must-read where Mr. Chopra shares his painful and very personal lifetime experiences with terrorism and being born in Pakistan to refugee parents.

Local Woman Accuses Babydoll of Trying to Convert Kids to Islam

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

When a Zachary, Louisiana woman purchased a "Little Mommy" doll for her five year-old daughter on the morning of October 24 at a local Wal-Mart she had no way of knowing that she would soon be propelled into a self-declared crusade to have the corrupt doll removed from store shelves.

The dolls - made by Mattel - are, no doubt, creepy-sounding.  So much so that I made this short video of them at the Super Target in Baton Rouge back in May of this year.  Other than simply sounding eerie, especially as a chorus, I can't say I found any nefarious intent in their peculiar warbling.

Johnette Dunaway, however, heard something more come out of the battery-operated babies.  A message so evil that this Zachary mother claims it threatens not only our children's Christian souls, but the very country in which we live.

To Johnette's excitable ears, the words "Islam is the light" are heard as the third "phrase" coming out of the Little Mommy's plastic lips.  Possibly because she has nothing better to do with her time, or maybe because she's an oblivious Bible-beating fanatic, Johnette feels it is her duty to not only warn the media about this travesty, but to travel to all local stores and demand an explanation and removal of the dolls from their shelves.

The article at the local WAFB website was disturbing enough, but perhaps worse was the further display of ignorance Johnette gave in the Comments section as some of us more rationally-minded individuals attempted to share our disbelief and alarm at Johnette's ignorant claims.  She had this to remark to we naysayers:

You people are missing the point.do you not care what your kids are being subjected to in LIFE.If you did a little research about ISLAM you would understand their beliefs and what they teach.i dont know about you but thats not how i want my children growing up.And NO most children won't understand the meaning of the phrase "ISALM is the LIGHT" but,they also don't really understand the meaning of most nursery rhymes either.But as they grow up and they remember that doll and the phrase it was saying,they then will remember.people lets all remember 911.Is that not enough to put a stop to this.Or do you really want to bring this kind of behavior to our country.Not me and that is why i stood up to let the people know what is very suddle being brought into the stores for our CHILDREN to have.If you really care about your children then do something.Don't just waste your time arguing about the subject.And to those of you that say it's not a big deal then that just shows how much you really care about your KIDS and COUNTRY.

To which I felt compelled to respond:

Johnette, if you are honestly ignorant enough to equate the entirety of the Islamic religion and all Muslims with 9/11 then there is little hope that any of us here are going to be able to convince you of the ridiculousness of this entire affair.

Mattel denies - as well - that the dolls are saying anything untoward:

The only scripted word the doll says is mama. There is a sound that may resemble something close to the word night, right, or light...Actual sounds may be imprecise or distorted.

And let's be frank - even if the dolls were proclaiming that Islam is the light, what gives this woman the right to cry foul because a doll calls out a religion other than her own?  Oh, that's right, Islam = Muslim = 9/11.  How could I forget?  As one astute commenter said:

Please Johnette, enlighten us as to what Islam stands for. I really doubt an ignorant person such as yourself has any knowledge of the religion other than what your fundamentalist "christian" ministers and popular television have told you.

I would love the chance to ask Johnette Dunaway how she would feel if the dolls proclaimed, "Jesus is the light" or "Christianity is the light" and why - to her mind - that would be any different?  What does she feel about the Islamic mothers that, every day, have to shop through aisles of toys that do say or sing exclusively Christian phrases?

The truth is, had this woman the ability to think for herself (instead of swallowing everything her preacher throws at her as gospel) she wouldn't be starting this big stink in the first place.

I have to admit that I am a bit ashamed of WAFB for promoting this tripe.  Why even give airtime to such blatant, bigoted ignorance?  This woman's racist ideals - fueled by fanatical religion - should not be promulgated by anyone.  As if there isn't already enough hate, racism, and inequality in this world, we certainly don't need anything further igniting such fires!

Sadly, in her heart of hearts, Johnette Dunaway believes what she is carting out here.  She believes it so fervently that she has taken her battlecry to the local media and is doing her part by going store to store to demand answers and - as always - eradication of anything that goes against the reality and religion she has been led to believe in.  That, my friends, is even scarier than creepy dolls.

Racism or Ignorance – Neither Are Worth Getting Paid For

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

When Keith Slater - a 22 year-old black Missouri State University student - got home after returning a pair of shoes to a Journeys store in Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas, he was rather appalled when he happened to take a glance at the receipt issued to him by the store.

Next to the title Cust, for "Customer", was plainly printed "Dumb Nigger."

In Keith's words, from the ABC News article on his experience:

"Then I was like, 'Nah, no way. It can't say that. I was shocked, 'cause I didn't do anything for that to happen."

Not that there is anything Keith could or should have done for such a thing "to happen", it appeared to be - when he and his mother returned to the store the next day and confronted the same cashier - a mistake...sort of.

Apparently a recently-fired employee had keyed the racist term into the computer and accorded it the same keystroke the clerk had to use when issuing his receipt.  That the clerk even knew this raises a few questions...

  1. If the store knew it was in there, why hadn't the epithet been removed?
  2. If the clerk herself knew it was on there, why didn't she either change the keystroke or - if that wasn't possible - black-out the epithet with a black marker?
  3. Hadn't anyone else noticed this before now on their receipt, or had they just decided not to make a national issue out of it?

The latter may be more to the point than the rest, considering Keith's mother - Linda Slater - a self-described "Christian" who "doesn't believe in making a huge scene or going to court" is wondering how (and when) her son may get some type of "compensation" because he was "hurt."  And here we go.

"I could see that my son was hurt," she said. "He just kind of stood there and hung his head down."

If it was an already-programmed keystroke error then I really don't see why he would be so hurt considering the epithet would have printed on anyone's receipt requiring the same keystroke; be they black, white, pink, or purple.  Regardless, Journeys assured the family the employee who had entered the racist remark into the system had been previously fired and they apologized profusely for the very unfortunate mistake.

Still.  Of course.  Mrs. Slater wants to get paid.

I'm not saying what happened is right.  And while I'll readily admit that had I gotten a receipt from a store that had "Dumb Cracker" typed behind Customer, I'd of laughed my ass off before I would have gotten angry much less "hurt", I do realize this term is much more racially-charged and black people a bit more sensitive about it.  Still.  No one - not a single person - deserves to get money because of what someone else - ignorant though they may be - typed into a computer system weeks beforehand.

In all reality, what should have been done already was.  Said ignoramus employee was fired and Journeys apologized to the family.  Why the term had not been previously removed (oh say, around the time the person who entered it was canned) is anyone's guess.  Yet still, the family got an apology and that should be enough.  Hey, I'll be generous; give the kid a store credit.  End of story.

Please let it be the end of the story.  Hopefully, Mrs. Slater - the "Christian who does not believe in going to court" - will not sue for the ever-so-clichéd "pain and suffering" and/or "emotional damages".  Was Keith Slater - who claims never to have been called a "nigger" in his life - so horribly marked by this event that he has suffered irreparable emotional damages that equate actual pain and acute suffering?  I highly doubt so.  Let us hope that Keith's skin isn't as thin as his mother's purse is gapingly open.

Sure - I realize it was an unpleasant experience for the poor kid.  It sucked and he's likely not happy about it and that is understandable.  Being slapped in the face with the realization that racism is still alive and thriving in this country at times can't be a happy day for anyone - regardless of their skin color.  Hell, we down here in the South - black and white - got slapped with that nugget of knowledge almost as soon as we popped out of the womb; by time we're 22 it's pretty much old news.

Yet for an (obviously sheltered) young black man in middle America, I am sure it was a sobering, eye-opening, and depressing day.  Should he get big bucks for said day?  Fuck no!  What he could do is get involved in something positive for change in race relations; there's lots of affirmative ways he could turn this situation around and use his new perspective for good, fuzzy warm feelings in his life.  Seriously.  THAT would be the noble thing to do.  Hanging your head and crying for money is not - I don't give two shits what color your skin is.  At least that's this dumb cracker's two cents on the issue.

<--Addendum-->

After writing this, I stumbled upon another article on the whole issue over at a local Kansas news site, KMBC-TV.  It gave a slightly altered version from the ABC News article (that the clerk who entered the keystroke on the computer might have been the one who created it - not really clear either way) and a secondary piece about a local community activist - Alonzo Washington - who held a news conference encouraging people to "boycott Journeys".  As if this wasn't enough, Mr. Washington and his family intend to, also, return some shirts they purchased from the store a few days earlier.

Way to stick it to The Man, Alonzo.

How is boycotting the store - which fired the employee, eradicated the epithet, and apologized to the family but had nothing at all to actually do with the incident itself - going to solve or prove anything?  The apology, Washington ascertains, was "not enough".

Let me guess what would be?  A fat check?

Money doesn't solve everything, and the company that owns this particular Journeys (there are over 800 stores nationwide) paying out a huge sum for what one backwoods retard of an employee did at one store that one person noticed seems fairly pointless in my eyes.  How is that helping race relations?

If the Washingtons are so upset by what happened, perhaps their news conference should have focused on encouraging the community in positive ways to combat racial tensions when they appear, or rather educating their youth on the tenets of equality regardless of skin color.  Just a couple of thoughts.  Suing or asking for money just seems rather defeatist.

I get so frustrated seeing people take pointless, and often backwards, approaches when they see something wrong or negative that they are opposed to.  Instead of using these instances and opportunities to help and teach others to grow in more positive ways, or in working ever more diligently for equal rights, they whine and and kick their feet; accomplishing nothing for anyone nor for their issue.  Instead of seeing such instances as an opportunity to grow and tackle the problem, they see it as an unjustified personal attack and lash back out with the same sort of vicissitude.

It is, to borrow from Faulkner, "a tale, Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."

Joe the Plumber? Not Really a Licensed Plumber

Friday, October 17th, 2008

From the story...

"Joe the Plumber is not exactly a plumber and he's "not even close" to making the kind of money that would result in higher taxes from Democrat Barack Obama's proposals. Joe said Obama's plans to raise taxes on those making $250,000 a year or more would penalize him in his plans to buy the plumbing business for which he works."

read more | digg story

Rachel Hoffman – Thrown to the Wolves

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

When Rachel Hoffman was busted with a small amount of pot and a few ecstasy pills, the Tallahassee Police Department decided to use her as an informant for a big time bust - a shocking decision that led to the 23 year-old's brutal murder at the hands of two career criminals and drug dealers. Please be sure to watch the 20/20 investigation video and read my thoughts below...

It's sad to think the bastard police chief and the rest who are responsible will get away with this - with not so much as a slap on the wrist, I'm sure.

The police chief is one loathsome monster; not only did he throw that poor girl to the wolves, when they killed her, he turned around and smeared her good name all over the media - labeling her a "drug dealer" with "felony charges pending" - to make themselves look better and stifle sympathy for her. She was never convicted of anything. What happened to innocent before being proven guilty?! He can't stand there at a press conference and call her a "drug dealer" if she was never convicted of being so. Why is nothing being done about what they did and how they handled it afterward?

Not only did the Tallahassee PD essentially kill Rachel Hoffman, they tried to slander her and drag her reputation through the mud - they knew the public would outcry about a non-convicted, small-time pot user (a 23 year-old woman at that) being sent into such an appallingly dangerous situation; the bastards didn't even follow her to ensure her safety. So the police chief spun it that Rachel was a drug dealer dealing with other drug dealers; as if she made such big drug and weapons buys all the time. How can that man look at himself in the mirror every day? One wonders if he has children, and what he would do in Rachel's father's shoes?

It would appear that the Tallahassee PD had no regard for the safety of Rachel Hoffman and that - to them - her life was expendable. In their eyes, she was just another "criminal"; not someone worthy of any respect or protection. They used the charges against her to manipulate and scare her into being an informant and doing a huge drug bust because she refused to narc out her friends and acquaintances. I have no doubt in my mind that she was coerced and intimidated - possibly even lied to - in order to bring down two big time drug dealers. The TPD cared about making a big bust, not about the safety of the young woman they used to try and make it. They also lulled her into a false sense of safety, and then essentially abandoned her; it doesn't take any police training to know that Rachel should have been followed the entire time. Sending her to deal with two hardcore criminals/drug dealers/arms dealers, they never should have let her out of their sight.

I also question the smarts of the TPD in setting up the bust - surely they knew the two men might be tipped off by the setup. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that a young, white woman contacting two black drug dealers that she does not know and who do not know her to make a big buy of drugs and a weapon purchase is a little sketchy. I'd imagine the two men felt something was fishy from the get-go, and planned all along to lead her to a deserted place where cell phones would be a moot point and the cops were not likely to follow. Poor Rachel was sent right into a death trap.

The whole thing just infuriates me - there is NO WAY these police officers or that department should be allowed to get away with this. I truly hope justice is done for Rachel and her family & loved ones, and that some good comes out of her senseless death.

A few posters at Digg commented on Rachel being at fault for what happened to her, by choosing to be a "loser" and smoke pot in the first place. One poster in particular insisted that since it was "illegal" there is no sympathy to be had for Rachel and what was done to her...and that if you don't like the laws, move elsewhere. I took issue with every bit of this rhetoric and responded thus:

I know plenty of professionals and and highly-paid individuals who smoke pot - I certainly wouldn't call them "losers". Lumping every pot smoker into the category of "loser" doesn't seem quite fair...especially since it isn't true and can't be proven. People all over the U.S. smoke or have smoked pot; and the majority of those people live normal, functional, and very productive lives.

In a democracy, the idea is not to move away from the area that has laws you do not like, but to fight to try and reform those laws that you feel are not Constitutional or fair. I'm not alone in my thinking:

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."
- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

"If our democracy is to flourish, it must have criticism; if our government is to function it must have dissent."
- Henry Commager (1902 - 1998)

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it."
- Edward R. Murrow (1908 - 1965)

We have a right to empathize with Rachel Hoffman, and we have a duty to her - as a fellow human being and an American - to rally against the injustices done unto her. Pot smoker or no, this young woman did not deserve to be used in the manner she was nor did she deserve to die for smoking weed. This is about corruption and abuse of power in the police department - a lack of value for human life. Someone must stand up and say "This is not right!", there have to be people that decry, "That is enough!" It is the only way change can or will ever happen - and America, as a democracy, is about change and shaping the future. Had no one stood up and cried out against the injustices of slavery and women's inability to vote, then nothing would have changed and laws that should not have been laws in the first place, would have stayed in place.

The "war on drugs" is wrong and misplaced - and people will (and should) fight against it. Rachel Hoffman is only one of its many victims. To blame her for her own death, to say she "got what she deserved" is simply callous. To imply that her parents failed to raise her properly because she smoked pot is utterly ridiculous. Many professionals and well-adjusted individuals who live perfectly normal lives smoke pot every day - it is not the demon the government has made you to believe it is. Rachel Hoffman could have gone on to live a happy, successful and normal life - even if she had continued to smoke pot for the rest of it. She was not and likely would never have been a "loser". The only "bad decision" on her part was having faith in those sworn to serve and protect her - and all of us.

read more | digg story

Lighter Skin Gets the Guy

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

One of my favorite things to do when I have time to kill is "randomly surf the web".  I start at yahoo.com, usually click on a news story, that might lead me to a website link, which might lead me to someone's interesting blog.  I always find thought-provoking and intriguing content when I do this, and it can kill hours of time.

Sometimes, instead of finding content and information that I enjoy, I find some that bothers me - riles me up, so to speak.  This morning, when I came upon the article Is white skin more "beautiful?" on Shine's Fashion + Beauty section, I felt that discomforting anger rising to the surface.

Whenever I see women being told that to be "this" or be "that" will then make them "beautiful", I get upset.  Where are the ads promoting beauty as is?  Where are the commercials telling young women that their unique "imperfections" and different physical appearance are what make them beautiful and special?

I have heard of the phenomenon in Japan and India of women yearning for lighter skin...to be more "white".  It astounds me, as I believe darkened skin - of any shade - is simply beautiful.  White women spend great amounts of money and time to darken their skin through tanning and products.  I suppose it's the age-old struggle of wanting what you don't have.  Lighter skin people wish they were darker; darker skinned people wish they were lighter.

However, I still am bothered by the Ponds 5-part commercial series that implies the man only went back to his first and true love after she lightened her skin; becoming more light-skinned than the glamorous starlet he was dating.  Ponds obviously has a market for its Flawless White product line, but should they really be playing into women's insecurities this way?

I know that all beauty products, and the media used to promote them, play up a woman's perceived "flaw" with promises to cure and fix it; it's the nature of the beast.  Still, there is just something a little more disturbing here - perhaps its, as the original article stated, ...when it comes to altering the color of one's skin, when does aesthetic become racism?

Aesthetic racism - now there's a term, and I suppose, in a way, that is what you might call it.  It's not that those desiring lighter skin are necessarily racists, but isn't telling them that they will be more desirable and worthy if they change their skin tone so?

Perhaps it's all a big hoax.  I don't know - the whole thing just leaves me feeling uncomfortable - I keep waiting for someone to say, "It's a joke!  Ponds doesn't really have any such product - it's all a big hoax!"  It has that kind of feel about it.

Regardless, though, it draws attention to the fact that people still - to this day - feel inferior because of the pigment of their skin, and that saddens me.

Just How Stupid Can Someone Be?

Friday, July 11th, 2008

I'll preface this newsworthy-bit of stupidty with a quick explanation, for those not in the know...

A Fuelman card is one used by companies that have field personnel, delivery people, fleet drivers, or the like on roadways for gas purchases.  The gas card allows companies to keep up with employees' fueling and gives them a way to pay a set monthly fee for gas usage.

That being said, let me introduce you to a local man by the name of James Cotton.  I'm unaware how long Mr. Cotton, aged forty-three years, has been an employee of Mockler Beverage but what is apparent is that somewhere in the past couple of weeks, he believed he had stumbled upon a sure proof way to garner some extra cash-on-the-side for himself.

Being the resourceful man he obviously is, and realizing the hurt the high gas prices are having on people's pocketbooks, Mr. Cotton realized he was in a position to help ease the locals' gas woes while padding his own pocketbook.

By now, I'd imagine, you do realize where this is going.

Yes, for reasons unknown to the more sensible members of the population, Mr. Cotton seemed unaware that his employer could or would keep tabs on his gas-spending purchases.  Though it seems hard to fathom that even such an astute individual as Mr. Cotton has proven himself to be here could not have had an inkling that the company's accountants might notice $7,000 in charges to his company-issued Fuelman card; even moreso considering those charges were accrued within only a two week period.

Mr. Cotton, it seems, was selling gas to other people - on the company's dollar.  Perhaps he thought the Fuelman card was simply a "free gas" card?  Perhaps he believed it was not monitored?  Perhaps he didn't think at all.

Something tells me the latter may be the correct answer.

Original article: Man arrested for allegedly misuing company fuel card, WAFB Channel 9, Baton Rouge.