Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Thought For Today

"For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love." - Carl Sagan

The Hard Truth From Orlando

According to an article in ABC news today, there are currently 79 people in the United States serving life without parole for homicides they committed at ages 13 or 14. The article discusses whether there should be parole for juvenile offenders receiving life sentences, because the death penalty for juveniles has been ruled unconstitutional but life without parole has not.
The question currently pending is, should these criminals be permitted parole just because they were juveniles when they murdered? And what about justice for those victimized by young thugs?
I am an advocate of the death penalty. I don't think it's equably awarded. I do think the appeals system is completely out of control; 20 or more years on Death Row pending appeals and case review is beyond ridiculous. In almost all death penalty cases today, once convicted and sentenced to death, it should be entirely possible to march the defendant out behind the courthouse and execute the sentence immediately and rest easy that justice was served.
I believe that we do more damage by hoping that these young nightmares might magically evolve into worthwhile, contributing citizens, instead of recognizing we've got a poisonous viper in our midst and crushing the life out of it expeditiously. We keep playing the "catch and release" judicial system with youthful offenders, with the result that more and more people are victimized and all the kids get is the improved criminal skills to perpetrate wider swathes of destruction.
The current argument is that juveniles' brains aren't sufficiently developed to allow them to understand the consequences of their actions. They aren't able to truly control their impulsive behaviors. Allowances should be made for their mistakes due to their immaturity -- and treatment, not punishment or incarceration is the best option.
And they're partially right. Kids are impulsive. They are inclined to act first and think later. That's why they're supposed to have parental supervision. That's why they're supposed to be taught discipline and what is and is not socially acceptable behavior. Most kids learn this. Most kids have parents who care about them and make them comply with rules. The ones who don't -- well, my question is, how hard should we try to retrain them when parents fail and where's our limit? What are we willing to lose as a society in order to preserve a problematic potential for positive return on our investment? How much and who are we willing to sacrifice if we're wrong not locking them away when we have the chance?
There's a case currently in the media we should look at in terms of these very issues. A pair of juveniles deliberately, maliciously threw a shopping cart off of a walkway in a busy mall, striking a woman below and causing life-threatening head injuries from which she is unlikely to ever fully recover.
"Charged as juveniles, the boy and a now 13-year-old friend pleaded guilty to assault in the Oct. 30 prank. It seriously hurt a woman who was shopping for Halloween candy to give away.
"The younger boy was the one who came up with the idea of tossing the cart off the walkway for kicks, and he gave the cart the final shove, city Law Department attorney Leah S. Schmelzer said.
"He arrived at that moment freighted with years of familial and emotional turmoil.
"His home life has been chaotic, punctuated with frequent moves, parental neglect and violence, including an episode in which the boy saw his father attack his mother, Manhattan Family Court Judge Susan Larabee said. The judge noted that the boy has been suspended at times from school, once after he started choking a girl, and she told the boy he has serious anger and mental health problems and a lot of catching up to do in school."
You see the problem. Advocates on behalf of the unsupervised, pre-teen juveniles want you to believe that these little monsters didn't fully understand that tossing a cart off a walkway in a busy mall might hurt people down below. They label a demonstrated intent to kill or cripple someone as a "prank." They want you to believe that this kid, with a pronounced history of violence, aggression and murderous intent, isn't exactly the kind of nasty little animal who should be locked up or put to sleep. They want you to believe that it's possible to remold this kid into a facsimile of a functional, trustworthy human being who might actually learn not to hurt anyone else -- if we throw enough social programs at him and spend enough taxpayer money for therapy.
Meantime, a conscientious, hardworking good citizen is facing years of disability and medical treatment and crippling financial hardship for herself and her family. Her injury and decreased contributions are a painful loss to society as a whole. Her attacker's continued presence in any community is a bleeding wound of resources, and a physical danger to others.
But we're going to inundate this little freak and his friend with special programs and therapy. We're going to funnel ridiculous amounts of money and resources into assistance and counseling for him and his family in the hope of somehow miraculously converting him into something other than fodder for the adult criminal justice system. But we're not going to take him away from the pee-poor excuse for parents and family that created him. We're not going to remove him from the neighborhood and demographical sewer that produced him or his parents.
Nope. We're going to leave him in right there in the familial/community toilet, pouring resources on him and pretending like there's something that can be salvaged, while all our efforts at redemption get flushed. And when he and his family finally run through everything the system has to get his life in order, when he's finally damaged or hurt enough people, when he's finally aged out and can no longer camouflage murderous intent behind a facade of juvenile incomprehension, then we can ship him off to the adult prison system, leaving a wake of waste and destruction behind him like a bloody EF5 tornado.
Do I think that these 79 murderers should be paroled? Sure. Do we still have Alcatraz ? Can we send them to a Siberian Gulag for rehabilitation? In short, can we lessen the negative impact of them on the community if we let them out? And how many people damaged, injured, killed before we say "Enough" and do a little trigger-pulling of our own?
It's not the age of the perpetrator that determines punishment. It's the crime. Age alone is not an excuse for murder -- and it should NEVER be the only criterion for opening the cage and letting a murderer out. Some crimes are beyond forgiveness. Some children are beyond repair and need to be locked away for everyone's safety. You don't keep risk the lives of good productive citizens for a proven murderer's improbable redemption. You just don't do it.

   Florida Cracker

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hard Truth From Orlando

The Rutger's Verdict
By now, anyone who reads the news even occasionally knows that Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his Rutger's roommate Dharan Ravi decided to post Tyler 's sexual encounter online for the amusement of Ravi 's friends. Fewer folks have followed the case to find out that Ravi was found guilty of a "hate" crime and other charges for his actions. Jurors apparently didn't believe Ravi's claim that this was a one-time action and he wasn't targeting Tyler for further invasions of privacy or that he wasn't targeting Tyler because Tyler was gay.
One news item also indicated that jurors weren't told that Ravi's action led Tyler to kill himself (although everyone knew the case probably wouldn't have come to anyone's attention if Tyler hadn't taken his own life) and Ravi wasn't charged for Tyler's death, but the implication is that Ravi was convicted for causing Tyler to take his own life anyway. Defense attorneys are reportedly now attacking the bias law that Ravi was charged under as being too vague, poorly written and that the jury selection was rushed so the proper impartiality of a juror couldn't be established.
I believe Ravi was convicted for causing Tyler Clementi to commit suicide. I also think Dharan Ravi and his nasty little friend Molly Wei didn't target Tyler just for being gay. I think they targeted Tyler for being white, blue-eyed, fair-haired, awkward and a scholarship kid -- and assigned to Ravi 's room, which made him fair game. The fact that Tyler was gay was just the angle Ravi used to break a little geek and webcams, Twitter and the Internet were the tools Ravi employed to crush him.
I don't think the real issue in this case was about gay-bashing. I think the real issue in this case is the loss of privacy and respect for others. I think it's a clear message that we've armed youngsters of all ages with some of the most emotionally and socially destructive weapons ever devised and we've sent them out sans armor to combat armies of like-weaponed, conscienceless contemporaries.
We wring our hands about the damage done by kids, impulsive and with no concept of real consequences, when handling guns, knives, bats -- weapons of all kinds -- but we don't seem to see the bloodless but vicious warfare being waged between kids on social media with technological gizmos. They slice each other's reputations and self-esteem to ribbons with words, images. They destroy futures, their own and others, with sexting, the electronic equivalent of "poison pen" letters, defamation and out-right criminal threats.
If parents had to pay as much in civil and criminal damages for the harm their children do for slander, assault, defamation of character, voyeurism, pornographic or implicit imagery as they routinely shell-out for their children’s IPads, cell phones, laptops and Internet access, they’d be a whole lot more motivated to supervise their child’s online activities, and if necessary, to shut it down entirely.
If anything comes of this verdict, it’s that Ravi and Wei are reaping what they sowed with humiliation, loss of prospects, reputation and self-respect. And hopefully the message is getting out to the rest of the cyber-bullies that it’s not a joke, it’s not a game, it’s not funny to harass and deride others online. It’s destructive, mean-spirited, cruel and criminal –and you won’t think it’s still funny when your every move is being scrutinized by that same merciless public armed with appropriate legal authority to put everything you thought was private, secure and personal up for the most casual of onlookers. Ravi ’s getting the message. Are you?

   Florida Cracker

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Amazing Sand Art!

I missed this when it came out originally, which is too bad because I would have sent it out to a few people. However, I get to offer it to you guys. Although I appreciate looking at completed art, it's never quite so much fun, or quite so amazing, as watching artists create their works. Herewith an example, animation sand artist Ilana Yahov, with Love 2008. This is simply super, super cool!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Thought For Today

“You can dress a pig up and call it a pony, but it’s still a pig.” - Circuit Court Judge Anthony H. Johnson

The Hard Truth From Orlando

Should Limbaugh's show be cancelled? I guess I don't care one way or the other if Limbaugh keeps his show. I don't listen to him and never did. Rush Limbaugh is the sterling example of what I dislike about the extreme Republicans. Like Santorum, he wants to go back to the good old days, when men were men and women were supposed to shut the hell up and stay in the kitchen or the bedroom, depending on where their man wanted them. Women were wives or mothers in that world; they weren't people with the power to make decisions outside of the house.

And guys can argue it anyway they like -- there is no going back to that mythical world of stereotypical norm. We don't have the financial resources to allow one partner to stay at home full-time anymore. Almost every household (including single folks) now have to have two incomes just to survive. And the single biggest denominator in a woman's earning potential over her lifetime is whether or not she has a child. The average woman loses over $500,000 in income if she has a child, married or not, because of the disruption to her career, time off for child-care matters, paying for child care...

Guys don't face the same loss; child support notwithstanding. But married guys with children face some real hardships nowadays if they do pull their fair share of the financial burden.

Limbaugh represents that old stereotype of blaming women for wanting intimacy and guys aren't responsible for the consequences. Like sex even between the most ideal of married couples isn't sometimes a matter of letting him do what he wants just so he'll quit whining, and then it's her fault if she gets pregnant.

And all of this contraceptive business is just Republican smokescreen for the real issues. We are frankly facing a 25 year gutting of the American middle-class for the profit of the few at the top, looking down the barrel of the end of easy energy and suffering the early stages of a potentially catastrophic environmental change on a planet overburdened with human population.

The illegal immigration flood was allowed because big business made money out of the cheap labor and it kept legal workers' salaries depressed because of the competition. Big business doesn't pay the same taxes as the legal workers so they didn't feel the pinch of the drain of social services to "undocumented" laborers and their families. And so long as they don't feel the pinch, they don't care if we're overrun. None of this mattered until the terrorists rode in on the tide. Now we're trying to play catch-up.

Fuel alternatives weren't explored because petrol is the biggest business out there and anything that challenged the oil monopoly on energy was quashed by lobbyists, paid for by big business.

Environmental factors are discounted, always in the name of jobs. Like the Northwest lumber business having a fit because of spotted owls, etc. The real truth was, the lumber in one of the last American rain forests was acquired by miles of devastation to a non-replenished eco-system -- and the lumber was going overseas to Japan, not for the U.S. And once the forests are gone, the jobs would be gone anyway.

The Republicans need to quit jamming their heads in the Bible and rhetoric and start looking long-term at their decisions. All of the politicians need to quit telling people what they want to hear and tell them what they need to know to stay alive. And fat-bellied hypocritical bigots like Limbaugh and Gingrich should be ignored like the loud-mouthed embarrassments that they are.
   Florida Cracker

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Thought For Today

"I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum

Read. Those Stupid Assholes are at it again.