Archive for Violence

Pile on the Shame

[Quick note of apology. I haven’t been commenting. The rest of the world has. So there.]

Al Franken…MeToo…sex monsters (almost entirely men in power). Just maybe a major flip has occurred. We’ll agree on that when self-identified conservatives/Republicans and then Europeans get with the program.

Meanwhile, I’ll note that I was one of the many who feared bandwagon joiners would muddle the vast good with false accusations. Instead, I find the bad so far comes in the form of schadenfreude. For some abused or harassed women, Dems and lefties taking the blame for their crassness and crimes, and then the GOP supporting the likes of the despicable Donald Trump and Roy Moore types is not enough. They want to inflict maximum damage and disgrace.

How much is too much?

I found myself in dolor about of my recurring raps about convicted criminals. I’ve long held and written about serving your time and clearing the blackboard. Those who want to perpetually punish convicts by not letting the vote and keeping them from getting jobs are just awful people who seem to lack an understanding of humanitarian and religious values.

Regardless, this came to mind again when one of Sen. Al Franken’s maybe victims, Stephanie Kemplin, made the talk-show circuit saying his apology and pending loss of Senate seat (and likely permanently ruined career, political and otherwise) were nowhere near enough to satisfy her.

She holds convincingly that she remembers his cupping one of her breasts (through multiple layers) at a photo-op. She is particularly irritated that he claims not to recall that and thus has not abjectly apologized.

In the unlikely case that Franken is not guilty of this exact charge. we cam pretty much be sure he has been a real ass around women and mildly sexually transgressed repeatedly. So we can then turn to ask whether is loss of face, loss of positions, and much dimmed future is adequate punishment. At least one accuser holds that it is not.

Walks of shame

I am bad on TV and watch little. However, I did not pass on any Game of Thrones episodes. The current news and opinion brings me back to Queen Cersei Lannister’s parade of shame, during which she walked naked through the capital as citizens chanted, “Shame!” and “Guilty!” while pelting her with spit, feces and garbage.

Clearly in her case and time and place, too much was not enough.

That I dread for the MeToo movement. We have plenty to atone for as a society and male gender. Not knowing when to modulate or stop won’t advance the movement.

I thought back to decades ago and one of the sermons I preached at the Arlington Street Church. It was on resilience. I spoke of the different reactions we have to the sundry misfortunes that are thrust or fall upon us. How in my volunteering at veterans hospitals in high school I’d met WWI vets still shell shocked (now PTST) and others missing limbs still incapacitated from wars long years later. Other vets made it their duties and hallmarks to forge on to careers, marriages, parenting and more in the same circumstances.

After the sermon, a couple of women and one man who never really recovered from sex crimes said how much they were insulted and how they felt disrespected. Many others told similar tales of their own survivals that those of relatives and friends. One elderly woman I had been in a UU sexuality course with pulled me aside with the definitive comment. I knew she had been raped and had to heal from the traumas; she said it was important to discuss how we deal with such; she said it was important to tell the personal story, but “don’t make a career out of it.”




Oh-oh-I-was-so-scared defense

Excuse me, boys and girls, how do we stop this horrifying carnival ride? Just today, a jury acquitted a murderous police officer of a cold-blooded slaying. Stopping black motorist Philando Castile for an alleged damaged tail light, Jeronimo Yanez claimed he feared for his life, even though Castile was passively obeying and told him he had a licensed gun.

Not only is the norm for murders by LEOs, it parallels exactly those atavistic states with stand-your-ground laws.

Basically, the first clown who whips out a gun and shoots to kill gets a free pass. Oh, oh, I felt threatened. The jury says, “You did the right thing.”

Like hell.

Whether it’s a cop or a citizen at home or a plain folk guy who imagines himself a vigilante, No it isn’t OK.

In particular, if you are a police officer, you have been trained at length on defusing interactions and on, well, being brave. If ordinary interactions in your job make you want to pee your trousers and compel you to murder citizens, you need to lose your badge and likely go to jail.

Go a pair — balls or tits, depending. Do not kill someone on a whim and claim irrational, emotional fear.



United’s Bloody Peasant

United/Republic’s tarmac mugging of an aged passenger puts me back on a familiar horse. The bifurcated reactions of viewers and readers say way too much about current Americans.

Visit any online news source and check the comments on the old physician being being bloodied and abused by the Chicago constabulary under Republic’s orders. Moreover, go to one of the sites reporting on United’s CEO on how they had no choice and the victim is solely to blame.

Speaking well of most readers, the vast majority were opposed to and even aghast at the arbitrary brutality. Once they found that the root cause was that United decided it wanted to move four employees, the reactions were stronger. Anyone with the sense God gave lettuce would instead have booked the airline employees on a different flight or chartered a plane for them or even had them driven the four hours to the destination.

Instead United CEO Oscar Munoz publicly and repeatedly said and wrote his lackeys had no choice. This terrible doctor did not obey, did not get out of his assigned, paid-for, settled into seat on demand. Hence, it was his fault he was bloodied and maybe knocked unconscious.

To the point of comments, a small minority agrees:

  • Rules are rules, not matter
  • The fault was the doc’s. He did not do as he was told.

That is so anti-American, anti-liberty, and irrational.

Short-term United’s share price inched up. Long-term, this is most like a multi-million dollar or more PR problem. Whether flyers do organize a boycott, the per-person private boycotts are certain to follow. United and Delta are infamous for poor load management and overbooking, for bumping the highest percentage of passengers.

This may quickly lead to federal legislation protecting flyers. That’s long overdue. Meanwhile, rules-are-rules people, CEOs and commenters alike, live on islands of obeisance, unaware that most of us prefer freedom and rationality.



Mass Murder Tipping Points

About a third the way in, a caller interrupted my gun portion of the rant. He was a a registered firearms dealer, and coincidentally Black. He opposes any additional gun laws or regulations. He was of the it’s-not-the-specific-gun side. We each got out our views. I’m glad he called.

Otherwise, I asked whether the Dallas deaths of five police officers by sniper would be a tipping point. Sandy Hook, to many of our surprise, was not. Will Dallas be? Will the many deaths of young Black men this year and last be?

I hold that we need both legal and cultural shifts. Obviously to me the cultural part is much harder. Take policing. Cops are no better than other professionals at prosecuting or judging their peers’ actions. No matter how plain the audio, video and witness testimony, cops almost invariably skate away from what the rest of the world sees as murder.

Likewise, with guns, they should be tools not toys. No what politicians now term common-sense restrictions should be a problem, but they are. Will the assassination of five officers in Dallas be a tipping point for legislation?


icon for podpress  Tipping Points [31:00m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Boston Council President Podcast

smurphy.pngSteve Murphy, president of Boston’s City Council, joined us for an update on key issues. He’s a pivot for many heady problems (a.k.a. opportunities, to optimists).

We touched on the interlocking casino in Boston/hole in the ground at Downtown Crossing, where the city’s money will come from and go in these tight times, the PILOT moneys from universities and other non-profits, and the roles of the Council and Mayor Menino in the big issues.

Listen in as the ever ebullient Murphy describes the row of huge issues before him as “real exciting.” Where others might turn and run, he’s eager to engage in the battles and policy.

He describes what I termed as a tag team with Menino and him on pressuring the developer who left the huge hole where Filene’s used to be. He also goes to the heart of whether the East Boston ward or whole city will be in on the casino-siting vote (hearings first; evaluation of role of public money second; vote decision after the process advances).

We didn’t cover everything, but did have a wide-ranging check-in on Boston.


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Political Thanks Podcast

If snide lefties bother you, this is not your podcast. Ryan and Mike chatted up almost entirely political folk, events and trends they are thankful for this season and year.

We didn’t like casinos and slots passing into law. On the other hand or hands, we’re still delighted with the GOP Presidential band of buffoons. We talked up the good competition on the Dem side for U.S. Senate, the Occupy movement and much more. We had a good time.

icon for podpress  Political Thanks Due [29:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Pressley Aiming to Stay Rooted

Boston’s City Councilor championing women, girls and families means to get re-elected on November 8th. Ayanna Pressley is more than the first woman of color to sit on the body, she had brought up issues and problems/solutions previously ignored or poorly addressed, such as teen pregnancy and violence against women.

She’ll join us at an unusual day and time for us, Thursday, 10/27, at 9:30 AM. If you can listen live, go here then. Afterward, her show will be available on demand there, back here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.

The first-term Councilor though is in a crowded field. Seven candidates each want one of the four at-large seats…and all four incumbents are running. We spoke with the acknowledged greatest threat to their re-election, Michael Flaherty, most recently last week. Many news stories and columns and one of my blogs, muse on whether he can return after a couple years out of office and whether zip-code voting in a low-turnout poll will favor him.

Even in this off-year election with no state-wide, Boston mayoral, Congressional or Presidential races on ballot, this at-large contest has some interest. Because at-large is for the whole city, the candidates have to cover a lot of geography, many meetings and seemingly all-day/all-evening forums and other public appearances. For one example, I did an up-close one with Pressley when she was in my Hyde Park neighborhood, with the likes of District Counselor Rob Consalvo, Council President Steve Murphy, and Mayor Tom Menino. We’ll be asking her whether that kind of support and her joining campaigns with top fund-raiser at-large incumbent John Connolly will make the difference this time. Listen in at 9:30 on Thursday.



Illegal Guns Off the Street Podcast

Boston doesn’t have a gun problem so much as a gun-trafficking problem, said our guest today. Nancy Robinson heads Citizens for Safety.

Listen in as she describes efforts coordinated with law enforcement and others aiming to get illegal guns out of the hands and pockets of criminals and youth. She describes the small set of gun dealers who supply most of the guns used in crimes, and how large numbers of handguns move from lax-gun-law states to places like Boston.

She speaks of the how tracking a single gun used in a crime to its middlemen and dealer may get one or two such illegal weapons off the street. Then cracking down on a dealer who sold 20 or 40 at a time can be more important, up to holding the source of a criminal enterprise of illicit gun transfers responsible could potentially take a thousand or more out of criminal’s hands.

She and her organization are not anti-gun. She speaks favorably of Second-Amendment rights and responsible gun owners. Instead, she favors such bills as the one recently introduced by MA Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (S.1195) that would limit gun purchases to one a month, track the resale/secondary markets, and otherwise act to prevent illegal sales.

The model Robinson favors is a combination. In additional to involving criminal justice, she looks to the public-health model. Think peanut butter; when a toxin is found in a batch, that model tracks the source, say a large farm or processing plant and then requires cleaning it up or shutting it down. She said that locking up the shooters is not the whole solution. “We can’t arrest our way out of the problem.”

icon for podpress  Nancy Robinson [31:44m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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No to Illegal Handguns

The founder and coordinator of a coalition fighting illegal handguns joins us this week. The head of the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center pointed us the Nancy Robinson of Citizens for Safety (a.k.a. Where Did the Gun Come From?), saying the coalition’s effort could offer the best ROI right here, right now.

Robinson’s will discuss efforts to get illegal handguns out of the hands of youth and criminals. They work to identify where the guns original, who the straw purchasers are and how the weapons get here. They aim to hold dealers accountable as well as tweaking related laws.

If you can catch the show live, listen in here at 2:30 PM Eastern Tuesday, July 5th. After the show, you can get it on demand at that URL, here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.


Outspoken Councilor Pressley Podcast

apressley.jpgAyanna Pressley still does not mince words. On today’s podcast, she opened by saying she was in a hospital with her mother nearby in an ICU. She is likewise plain about her goals, motivations and role as Boston City Councilor.

Those who want background on the first woman of color to sit on Council can start with her profile on the city site. As useful may be a profile by Bianca Vasquez Toness that aired on WBUR. Note that Mike was a minor source for the latter.

This first-term Councilor arrived with an aggressive agenda, which she has only expanded as she tackles issues close to her heart and mind. Listen in as she speaks of advancing youth and women, protecting them from violence, and seeing that all have access to meaningful sex information. She even chairs her new standing Committee on Women & Healthy Communities to address a number of those related concerns.

We spoke of how she’ll approach this year’s suddenly exciting at-large Councilor race, what she sees as the role and duty of Council, and where she is seeking funds in these tight times for her goals. She described how she doesn’t mind making people feel uncomfortable, so long as that leads to good results.

icon for podpress  Ayanna Pressley [30:54m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download