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Thursday, October 16. 2008
I'm a dual citizen, the product of an English father and American mother, and born in the UK. The British part of me cringes when I read things like this. How does any government get to the point where they believe even setting one foot down the road to despotism is the right thing to do? Similar, equally frightening things could happen in the US, but we do have one bit of advantage, we haven't given up our guns like the citizens of the UK have.
In this country I've seen things like The Patriot Act as a cynical grab for power by a government intent on grabbing as much power as possible. Is this the case in the UK also? Or am I over-reacting and these are really "good" people who simply live in a culture of fear trying their best to alleviate their fears by giving up essential liberties?
How does this play out? Do we go down Orwell or Alan Moore's road? When do people who need to be free men and women start saying enough is enough?
In the USA we have the opportunity to send that message in just about three weeks. Unfortunately we won't do it. We will vote for the lesser of two evils. We will vote for status quo. We will vote for those who will protect us from the terrorists and the pedophiles by limiting essential freedoms.
What will it take for us to become more frightened of our own government, and tell them "We are not afraid and will no longer sacrifice essential liberties for some illusory safety?"
Wednesday, September 26. 2007
Yesterday, along with a hundred or so other citizens of Multnomah County, I spent my day serving as a juror. It's always a fascinating process to me, I've been called three times, but have never served on a Jury. I find that disappointing in some strange way.
I must not be the only one who finds it disappointing. I was one of 36 selected for the jury pool for one trial. The judge actually apologized to those who didn't "make the cut." I was quite impressed with the regard the judges and the court employees show to jurors.
I was in the pool for a civil case, a man who was suing his insurance company. The Voire Dire process was fascinating to me, because it appeared to me that the attorney for the insurance company knew he had a stinker on his hands and was doing his best to make sure any empaneled jury would mitigate the damages his client was facing not find in favour of the defendant.
I would have loved to make the panel just to see if my instinct was correct on that.
Saturday, August 4. 2007
Yes, I know why I was stopped. I was about 15 over in a 55 (he said 19 but there's no way). Did I deserve the ticket? Yep I sure did.
Disclaimer out of the way I have a huge problem with how I saw my tax dollars at work on I-205 South this evening. There were at least four patrol cars and three motor cops sitting on the freeway median there were three other patrol cars with cars stopped in the next half mile. We live in a violent time. We live in a time where property crime is increasing. We live in a time where people walk through my apartment complex with a gun in their waistband and the police cannot be bothered to respond. But they can spend an afternoon writing tickets for people doing no harm other than trying to get somewhere.
I've been stopped before. Once long ago I was stopped twice in 10 minutes. The first one I deserved. Hell I had my car at the side of the road waiting for the State Trooper (who had actually stopped me one time before, and was later killed in the line of duty in Medford) to get his lights on and catch me. I knew I'd done wrong. I knew I was completely and totally, fairly busted by a guy doing his job. This was different. This was the city trying to raise money. This was the city shirking it's responsibility to protect and serve in search of a quick buck.
I think there is something tragically wrong with that.
Wednesday, September 21. 2005
On Saturday the 17th my family and I were driving throught the parking lot at the Gateway Shopping Center. We were on our way to replace some power strips that got blown up when an electrician was working on the power in my house.
As we passed Mervyn's I saw three kids leaving the store, followed by a young man. The kids were moving pretty fast, and when the man shouted that they should stop, one of the kids really rabbitted. As the kid ran, the man who'd followed him out of the store dashed after him. This kid was fast and there was no way he was going to get caught. However, someone going to his car saw what was going on and did a sweep kick, and took the legs right out from under the kid. In moments his pursuer was on top of him pinning him to the ground.
Kids two and three started trying to pull their friend away from the man who'd tackled him, but were unable to. At that point, the pursuer started shouting for someone to call 911. I'm a bit slow, but I finally figured out that the pursuer was probably plain-clothes store security, and that the kids had been up to no good. I placed the call and was told the police were already on their way.
The first kid would not stop trying to get away, and the security guard repeatedly had to shift his grip trying to restrain him. Eventually he ended up with the kid on his stomach, holding him face down on the parking lot. We heard kid number one say he'd give the merchandise back or pay for it, and the security guard say "It's too late for that now."
When the first of three police cars arrived I parked my van and headed back to the scene of the scuffle where there was now quite a little crowd. Then things changed. What was an altercation between store security and some shoplifters became something different: kid number one shouted at the security guard, "You're just treating me like this because I'm black!" All of a sudden what had been a case of kids behaving badly became a racial issue.
The police had cuffed two of the kids and put them in the back of their cruisers. I watched as three women who had not seen the beginning, or middle of the altercation came over and started saying nasty things to the police officers and the security guard. I was stunned, instead of yelling at the kids who were being arrested and telling them they should know better, and should not be stealing, they were yelling at the security guard, the police officers and the other bystanders about how these poor kids were being mistreated because they were black. I don't have a bigoted bone in my body (well ok, I am bigoted against stupid people), but the things I saw and heard clarified some of the racial angst and anger I see and read about.
The issue here was kids caught stealing from Mervyn's. However, those three black women tried to change the issue and make it a matter of race. What do we teach our kids when we make the colour of their skin more important than their behaviour?
We're all people dammit! Stealing is wrong whether you're black stealing from white, white stealing from Asian, Asian stealing from gay, gay stealing from Latino, Latino stealing from Christian, Christian stealing from Muslim. When identity becomes more important than behaviour there is a huge problem, and we don't do anyone in our own demographic or any other demographic any favours when we allow it to happen.
Saturday, January 20. 2001
There has been much that I wanted to write about since Election Day, 2000. I have refrained from writing until today, Inauguration Day, just to see how this whole drama played out. Watching President Clinton, Vice President Gore, President-Elect Bush, Vice President-Elect Cheney has turned into something of a national pastime.
I did not vote for either Vice President Gore or Govenor Bush, however, that did not stop me from getting a little teary eyed while watching President-Elect Bush take the oath of office...
Many people have claimed to be embarrassed by the events of the election. Embarrassed that the one remaining Super Power could not decide who its new President should be. My question for them is "Why?"
There is a missionary at my church who works in Uganda. He was home from the field for this election, and I had opportunity to chat with him about his thoughts on the election. His response, confirmed my thoughts on the subject: in many corners of the globe (including the one in which he ministers) the indecision over the outcome of an election would have resulted in civil war. Tanks and troops would be found in the streets as people tried to take advantage of the indecision. The worst thing we saw here was extremely vocal supporters of the Vice President or the Govenor shouting at each other.
The day after the election no one knew who the President was going to be, yet people all over the country got up, went to work or school, did their jobs and returned home peacefully. Even as doubt over the outcome deepened, there was no unrest, people continued to live their lives in peace and prosperity.
So today's inauguration was not just a great day for President Bush and his family; and Vice President Cheney and his family, it was a great day for the United States and its people as they made the peaceful transition to their 43rd President.
I'm proud of our country. I'm proud of our system of government. I'm proud of our people.
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