Native American

Native American

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Anniversary

I am still surprised by my own reaction to footage of the WTC being hit by the planes.  Of course I can remember where I was when it happened and how surreal it was watching the towers, pouring smoke and flame, collapse one, then the other.  The images are still brutal to my psyche.  I can barely stand to watch them, and I usually avoid it.

This past Saturday, I made myself watch the replay of actual footage that day.  I don't know why.  Something else went off and the "tribute" came on, and it seemed ... disrespectful ... to turn it off.  So I literally forced myself to watch.  Maybe it's that feeling of powerlessness that I find so overwhelming.  I don't do powerlessness well, though I acknowledge I am not all powerful - just for the record.  But now, every time I see footage of the events leading up to the plane crashes, or the towers crumbling, it's that sense of powerlessness that squeezes my chest.  I know what's coming and I can't stop it.  Can't save anyone.  The towers are already down, the people are already dead; the second Gulf War is already underway.  It's done.  Why relive it? 

Really, why?  What constructive comes out of watching those planes disappear into those buildings, or the smoke billowing out of the Pentagon?  They are just more examples of just how completely, and utterly destructive human hatred can be.  And they're not the only ones - we've got thousands and thousands of examples caught on tape before and since 9/11.  They don't seem to be helping us get the message. 

Ironically, the message seems to constantly lead to more examples.  We love the idea of peace; of love conquering all - isn't that the fundamental premise of Christianity and just about every other religion ever conceived?  But in actuality, it's apparently much easier to just kill each other. Thousands die in the name of Allah on  September 11, 2001, and our response is to kill even more. Apparently, in the name of God.

Really, do any of these decisions get made out of love?  So how is it that so many decisions that have to do with hatred get laid at the feet of "our" god, and we buy it?  I mean, I can see the logic of the spindoctors in saying that GOD is on "our" side and wants us to KILL (and DIE) in HIS NAME, but why do so many people accept it as plausible?

Well, that probably leads to a whole other discussion that Bill Maher would jump all over. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We've got to BE

As "Americans", particularly right now, at this moment in hisotry, we need to get our heads around the FACT that it's not enough to just SAY we're great - we actually have to BE great.  Sitting on our increasingly fat asses, espousing ideals that we don't really understand ain't workin'.  And for (fill in your higher-power-of-choice here)'s sake, we MUST start THINKING FOR OURSELVES. 

Video may have killed the Radio Star (am I dating myself?) but for sure, it killed critical thinking.  Where are the Smother's Brothers when you need them?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Are you kidding me?

So the primary law in this state with regard to domestic violence opens with a preamble that says, among other things: 

"It is the intent of the legislature to provide a civil remedy for domestic violence which will afford the victim immediate and easily accessible protection. Furthermore, it is the intent of the legislature that the official response of law enforcement agencies to cases of domestic violence shall stress the enforcement of laws to protect the victim and shall communicate the attitude that violent behavior is not excused or tolerated."

SOUNDS good, doesn't it?  I'm sure the people who drafted that language continue to feel proud of their work toward eradicating domestic violence.  As they should.  But what do those words really mean?  Forget the semantic, philosophical discussion ... ask a victim how the law helped him/her.  Or ask someone who was unjustly accused how the law DIDN'T help him/her.  It's not enough to capture a lofty goal in words -I don't deny it's an important start - but if that's where it ends, then it accomplishes nothing.

For instance, what does FREEDOM mean to most Americans?  The word singularly defines the U.S.,means?  Anybody want to weigh in?   Because I have to tell you - I'm of the opinion that most of us wouldn't - and don't - recognize freedom, even as we consider it our defining characteristic among other nations and governments.  But I digress ...but do we know what it

In spite of the well written legislation, the reality of many victims of domestic violence in this state is "more of the same", but kinda worse since, much like the Miranda Warning (you have the right to remain silent ... yada yada yada), which was heralded as a huge step toward protecting an individual's constitutional rights (because the written decision by the US Supreme Court which essentially created the warning said it was) in fact eroded protections against coerced confessions and brutal - or at least dubious - interrogation tactics by law enforcement personnel.  I grew up learning, through my community and as depicted on TV, that Miranda was a "trick" used by crafty defense attorneys and criminals to get off "scot free" (what does that mean, anyway?).  If you study the history leading up to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966),  however, you start to realize that the joke is on all of us, and by "us" I mean those of us who really do want to continue to live in "the Land of the Free".  Or maybe I'm the victim of too narrow a perspective on the issue.  Life has taught me however, that talkin' isn't walkin' and just 'cause you say it's so, don't make it so, contrary to popular belief.   But, once again, I digress. 

As for the domestic violence law in this state, those lofty ideals embodied in the preamble create an illusion of zero tolerance to DV, but the reality still tends to blame the victims, and make " immediate and easily accessible protection" nothing more than a taunt. 

Remember the mom from my last blog - the one that went to the courthouse "too late" to get a protective order and was told to come back the next day?  Well, she did go back the next day.  Got there just as the courthouse opened, and filled out all the paperwork.  She was then told that, in a courthouse with more than 10 divisions, there was not a single judge available to sign her TRO (the order that would provide - on paper anyway - the relief she was seeking), could she please come back later?  Maybe around noon? 
Well, does she have a choice?  And chalk the "please" up to poetic license ... please.

So she goes back home, and waits, though she's exhausted and still in pain from the beating she took when the father of her children beat her and stole her kids from her a week ago, and she can't really rest. 

Nearly 8 hours later, the court calls to tell her the judge has signed her order, granting all the relief she's requested, including an order directing law enforcement assist her in getting her children.  Guess what time it is? 3: 20 PM.  Can you see where this is going? 

By the time she gets back to the courthouse, which is about 25 to 30 miles from her home, it's 4:00 PM.  On a Friday afternoon.  But, she thinks, this time, all she has to do is pick up the paperwork and walk right over to the sheriff's office in the same building.  5 minutes - tops, and done! Right?  Did I mention it was Friday afternoon? 

Yeah, so, even though she gets there before 4:30PM, and the Sheriff's Dept. is still "open" (?!??) there are no deputies available, so could she please come back Monday morning?  Except without the "please." 

Are you kidding me?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rough Day

Okay, so this is my first ever blog and I'm suffering somewhat from performance anxiety, but I had a really tough day at work today and need someplace to vent my frustration where there is at least an illusion that someone is listening.  Which is somewhat ironic, since a big part of my frustration arises from way too much talking and head nodding, but little or no action.

So, case in point: California Gov. Schwarzenager signed "Chelsea's Law" yesterday which is intended to protect children from violent sex offenders.  Yay, yippee, krunkitola, whatever.  I mean, it's kids and who doesn't want to support a law that protects kids, right? So, fast forward to this morning and I read this article in ESPN mag about an NFL-hopeful who is a registered sex offender and can't get picked up by any NFL teams.  Yay, yippee, serves the scumbag right?  Right?  So, fast forward to 4 this afternoon and a deputy clerk at the local courthouse is informing a woman, who has come in to apply for an order of protection from the father of her children, who has kidnapped them and beaten her noticeably black and blue in the process, that the sheriff's office closes at 4:30 and so she has to come back in the morning to get any help.   !?! (Delete the next three paragraphs of rant about just how idiotic this statement is).

Let me just say that it's not that there isn't already a law in place that would protect this woman and her children.  The problem is that it is apparently okey dokey to treat domestic violence like it's 9 to 5 problem.  Like it's something that is NOT important enough to require public servants to work past 4:30 to ensure that kids are not terrorized indefinitely or, very likely, taken never to be seen again.  WTH!

So, all I have to say is, WTF good is another law on the books?  We've got lots of good laws on the books.  What we don't seem to have is common sense or the ability or willingness to break free of the herd to think beyond the convenient rhetoric and enforce the damn things in a compassionate and meaningful way.

So battered mom goes another night not knowing where her kids are or if they're okay.  The NFL hopeful/registered sex offender may be a victim himself - a victim of the law that was intended to protect kids but, at least in his case, was applied to him when he was just a kid himself - and rapists and pedophiles continue to be released after serving a few years on one excuse or another, only to rape and kill again, (think Chelsea, Jaycee, literally thousands of others) regardless of any number of excellent laws on the books.

I can't make any sense of this.  I just know that I'm sick of people talking about caring, but not actually caring