aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Film 20 seconds, face 1 year jail threat
That’s what I call a spoiler:
A 19-year-old woman is facing up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500 when she goes to trial this month on charges of illegally recording part of a motion picture.
Jhannet Sejas readily admits she used her digital camera last month in an Arlington theater to film about 20 seconds of the climax of the hit movie “Transformers.” She said she wanted to show the clip to her little brother and had no intention of selling it.
But minutes after filming the clip, police showed up in the theater, shining a flashlight in her face. Sejas and her boyfriend were ordered out, and the camera was confiscated.
Via Steve Verdon.
Read Georgia blogs this weekend
Georgia On My Mind’s got the 15th edition of the Georgia Carnival posted for your weekend blog reading pleasure:
Please support these fine Georgia bloggers by letting them know you have visited them with a comment. Your continued support with your links and shout-outs at your site helps to alert others to what we Georgia bloggers have to offer…
You can host the carnival at your site! Just let me know you are interested and I will set up a date for you. It’s a great way to put your own personal spin on the carnival.
Blacks get screwed. It’s time we build a screwdriver.
The WaPo reports on a case in Jena, LA, in which a schoolyard brawl between whites and blacks led the district attorney to charge six black teenagers with attempted murder for beating up a white teenager who suffered no life-threatening injuries:
Mychal Bell, the first of the six to be tried, is scheduled to be sentenced in September. He was convicted in July by an all-white jury on reduced charges of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit it. Like his co-defendants—Robert Bailey, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theodore Shaw and Jesse Beard—Bell had no prior criminal record.
He faces up to 22 years in prison… District Attorney Reed Walters said in December that his decision to prosecute the black teenagers to the full extent of the law had nothing to do with race. He would not comment further on the case while it is pending. But black residents in Jena said issues of race permeate their town, 230 miles northwest of New Orleans.
Civil rights advocates say the issues are much larger than Jena. Zealous prosecutions of black youngsters are multiplying across the nation, they say. They cite three highly visible cases in which white prosecutors won prison sentences of up to 10 years against black teenagers, only to have those sentences voided on appeal.
In Douglas County, Ga., Genarlow Wilson was convicted of molestation and sentenced to 10 years for engaging in consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. He served more than two years before a judge voided the sentence, but Wilson, now 21, remains in prison while the state appeals.
Also in Georgia, the state Supreme Court threw out the conviction of Marcus Dixon, 19, who was serving a 10-year prison sentence for having sex with an underage white girl in 2003.
In Paris, Tex., a special conservator ordered the release of Shaquanda Cotton, 16, who was serving up to seven years for shoving a white teacher’s aide in 2005. Months earlier, the same white judge had given probation to a 14-year-old white girl who burned down her family’s home.
“We are seeing two systems of justice: one system of justice for white folks and one system of justice for black folks,” said Jordan Flaherty, an editor who is following the Louisiana case for Left Turn magazine, an liberal activist publication based in New York.
I believe in subliminal racism. I am persuaded beyond all reasonable doubt that there is malicious prosecution. Toss race into it and who can be surprised at the cases highlighted by the Post? And let’s be clear, Race is not a southern problem. It is an American problem; an American problem that Democrats should take on.
The South gets beat up about the Civil War but some historians argue that the war was begun as a nationalist war for unity and was, not unlike our war in Iraq, recast by Lincoln after it was underway as a moral war on slavery. Recast or no, Harry S. Stout, Professor of History, Religion, and American Studies and the Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Christianity at Yale Divinity School, suggests the Civil War was neither moral nor just [see University Channel podcast Baptized in Blood: Moral Reflections on the American Civil War at 24 minutes].
But the most fascinating piece of his particular argument comes when he moves from moral conduct to religious legacy. Stout says that a “fully functional, truly national, American civic religion” was born then, and Lincoln was its martyred Messiah. The war was ”the defining phenomenon in American history” and “patriotism itself became sacrilized.” And the most tragic consequence of all of it was how, in order for that national civic religion to succeed from north to south and sea to shining sea, the anti-slavery abolitionist goal was abandoned [@ 46 min]:
Tragically, America’s civil religion would not include the very freedman so many thousands died to liberate. And here in the presence of ongoing racism we come to the ultimate moral failure of the [Civil War], South and North. Historian David Blight in his widely acclaimed book Race and Reunion marks this as the central tragedy of the Civil War, “The sectional reunion after so horrible a civil war was a political triumph by the late 19th century as white northerners and southerners reconciled, but it could not have been achieved without the resubjigation of many of those people whom the war had freed from centuries of bondage. This is the tragedy lingering on the margins and infesting the heart of American history.”
The greatest American denial is that this racial subjugation has ended. It has not. It has spread north and west as part of that civic religion and is made manifest in the way we fund our public schools, populate our prisons and have failed to successfully address persistent urban poverty. We spend a lot of time in denial. And I tend to pick on conservative denial - they deny global warming, deny that we’ve bungled Iraq, deny that some of us are born gay, and they deny racism - but liberals do it too.
The example I pick on with Democrats is a tendency to pin racism on the South as exemplified by my personal experience when I told NYC friends I’d be moving here and, more recently, by much of the discussion around Thomas Schaller’s Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South. Schaller argues - on page 18 - that we should turn Southern racism into a “burdensome stone to hang around the Republicans’ neck.” How does that help one bit in addressing the serious problem of race in America?
I argue that race here is different in kind, not substance, and urge big “D” Democrats to stop looking South and do something about race in America. I care about war and healthcare and LGBT rights and all the rest, but the central moral failing and the deepest open wound we have in this country is that we have failed to address our racist legacy. I find some hope in Barack Obama who, among his many other achievements, led the effort in Illinois to pass legislation that would require police interrogations and confessions from suspects to be videotaped.
Still, we need a reimagined, reinvigorated civil rights movement, we need it now, and the Democrats should lead it. What it would look like I can’t tell you, but the place I’d begin to frame the issue came in this Bill Moyers’ Journal interview with Melissa Harris-Lacewell. Here she explains that you can’t use a hammer on a screw:
“What I’m suggesting is we are experiencing a new form of racial inequality. We could think of Jim Crow as a nail. And the protest against Jim Crow were a hammer. And a hammer is an extremely effective tool when you’re dealing with a nail. Contemporary racial inequality is structural. It’s undercover. It is connected with also with sort of black achievement which is also going on at the same time. Contemporary racial inequality is a screw, and if you take a hammer and start pounding on a screw, you just end up with a mess which means we have to live with the fact that a new generation is going to have to innovate a screwdriver to deal with the new problem. And that screwdriver might not look anything like the hammer. And we can’t keep yelling at them to use a hammer for a new problem.”
It’s time we build a screwdriver.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Gay Lutherans countdown to Chicago
There they’ll be debating celibacy next week:
Prompted by the sudden dismissal of a popular Atlanta pastor in a committed same-sex relationship, impatient supporters of gay clergy will push an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America assembly in Chicago next week to stop its navel-gazing and lift the celibacy requirement imposed on gay and lesbian pastors.
Almost a third of the church’s synods, or regional governing bodies, have endorsed a proposal that would permit gay and lesbian pastors in committed relationships to serve congregations and would reinstate those who have been removed because of a same-sex relationship.
The resolution before 1,071 voting members at the biennial national assembly convening Monday comes two years before the church is scheduled to release a broader social statement on human sexuality.
Georgia Supreme Court to hear Troy Davis’ appeal
The Georgia Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear the discretionary appeal of convicted cop killer Troy Anthony Davis, whose scheduled execution last month was put on hold by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The court has put it on its November calendar.
Homeless = life sentence for offender in Georgia
A sex offender who was unable to register his address with state officials because he was homeless is facing life in prison for violating a new registry law that politicians in Georgia have hailed as the nation’s toughest.
The offender, Larry W. Moore Jr. of Augusta, was convicted in North Carolina in 1994 of indecent liberty with a child, a felony. This week he was convicted for the second time of violating a requirement that he register. Under the new law, a second violation carries an automatic life sentence.
The law requires offenders to register their address and forbids them to live or work within 1,000 feet of not only schools and day care centers but also churches, swimming pools and school bus stops. It expanded the definition of a sex offender and raised penalties for violating registry requirements.
Homelessness is not an acceptable excuse.
Georgia was quite explicit in its goals when passing the law, send sex offenders somewhere else to be someone else’s problem.
“One of the requirements when you become a sex offender is you have to have an address,Ã¢â‚¬Â� said Sgt. Ray Hardin of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta.
Sergeant Hardin said enforcement of the law required a dedicated investigator, a global positioning system and, each time an offender moves, hours of paperwork. At least 15 sex offenders have been arrested because of homelessness since the law took effect in July 2006, according to documents gathered through pretrial proceedings in a lawsuit brought by the Southern Center for Human Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Via a public defender, “Perhaps the police department can set up tents in their parking lots, where sex offenders can stay. This way, there’s zero cost of monitoring and these folks (some of them are human, too) have a roof over their heads.”
Thursday, August 02, 2007
danah responds to the response
You may recall that danah boyd’s Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace caused quite a ruckus. If you haven’t read it, do.
Last week she responded to the responses. That, too, should be read in full (though she asks that you please read the original first). A snippet:
The reaction to my article has been extremely variable. One reaction often makes me giggle: “duh.” To me, that is the reaction that it should’ve evoked. Duh. It makes sense. Of course. What I’m marking in this essay should’ve been obvious to everyone. What amazes me is that so many folks are shocked by it and so many others refuse to acknowledge it. It plays out online just like it plays out offline. Physical hangout spaces like bars are split by class, even though they theoretically welcome anyone. Public spaces get split by class.
The “conclusion” of my article should not have been a big deal, but I had to put it out there because so many folks weren’t acknowledging it and the press kept perpetuating the view that MySpace was dead because Facebook was taking over. We used to have this utopian view that the Internet would solve all of our societal divisions. On the Internet, no one would know you’re a dog, right? The reality is that all of society’s issues are simply perpetuated online. And that’s frustrating. I liked the utopian dream better, even if it’s not real. But if we accept the reality - that the Internet mirrors and magnifies offline values and views - we must start to think of what the implications of this are. Society is in a dangerous position when people who are different do not interact. This is how intolerance breeds and we definitely have enough of that in this country.
20% of Georgia’s bridges are deficient or obsolete
According to the USDOT Federal Highway Administration bridge inventory, 7.7% of Georgia’s bridges are “structurally deficient;” 12.4% are “functionally obsolete.”
What’s surprising is that’s better than the national average. Facing South:
Overall, 153,990 bridges (25.8%) of the nation’s 596,842 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. 12.4% are rated as structurally deficient, and 13.4% are rated as functionally obsolete, according to the latest USDOT report.
Statistically, Southern states mirror almost exactly the overall national ratings, with 25.7% of its bridges rated as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. We have slightly lower percentage of structurally deficient bridges (11%) and a slightly higher percentage of functionally obsolete bridges (14.7%) [...]
The state with the lowest percentage of structurally deficient of functionally obsolete bridges is Florida, with 17.6%.
Mississippi has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges (18.7%), and West Virginia has the highest percentage of functionally obsolete bridges (21.8%).
These numbers are somewhat disturbing, and reflect ongoing neglect of our nation’s infrastructure over the years. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, it will cost $9.4 billion per year for the next twenty years to eliminate all bridge deficiencies, noting that “Long-term underinvestment is compounded by the lack of a federal transportation program.” Ironically, we are able to find plenty of money to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure.
A vitally important point made by Richard Moran, a professor of sociology and criminology at Mount Holyoke College, in a NYTimes OpEd today:
My recently completed study of the 124 exonerations of death row inmates in America from 1973 to 2007 indicated that 80, or about two-thirds, of their so-called wrongful convictions resulted not from good-faith mistakes or errors but from intentional, willful, malicious prosecutions by criminal justice personnel. (There were four cases in which a determination could not be made one way or another.)
Yet too often this behavior is not singled out and identified for what it is. When a prosecutor puts a witness on the stand whom he knows to be lying, or fails to turn over evidence favorable to the defense, or when a police officer manufactures or destroys evidence to further the likelihood of a conviction, then it is deceptive to term these conscious violations of the law - all of which I found in my research - as merely mistakes or errors.
Mistakes are good-faith errors Ã¢â‚¬” like taking the wrong exit off the highway, or dialing the wrong telephone number. There is no malice behind them. However, when officers of the court conspire to convict a defendant of first-degree murder and send him to death row, they are doing much more than making an innocent mistake or error. They are breaking the law. [...]
Even if we limit death sentences to cases in which there is “conclusive scientific evidence” of guilt, as Mitt Romney, the presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts has proposed, we will still not eliminate the problem of wrongful convictions. The best trained and most honest forensic scientists can only examine the evidence presented to them; they cannot be expected to determine if that evidence has been planted, switched or withheld from the defense.
The cause of malicious unlawful convictions doesn’t rest solely in the imperfect workings of our criminal justice system - if it did we might be able to remedy most of it. A crucial part of the problem rests in the hearts and souls of those whose job it is to uphold the law. That’s why even the most careful strictures on death penalty cases could fail to prevent the execution of innocent people - and why we would do well to be more vigilant and specific in articulating the causes for overturning an unlawful conviction.
The World’s Most Interesting Bridges
We’ll be hearing lots about bridges now. Here’s one man’s take on The Weird and Wonderful World of Bridges:
I will endeavor to hold your attention by showing you through some of the most interesting bridges that have come across my monitor. And no, they won’t all be the heights of technological engineering, but simply those that have captured the imagination in various ways throughout time.
Of course, then I go and pick a technological triumph to picture, the recently completed Hangzhou Bay Bridge in China is the world’s longest trans-oceanic bridge:
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Rudy & Judy
Vanity Fair’s piece on Judith Giuliani, which doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t read in New York a couple of weeks ago, still stimulates the following thought: she’s twice-divorced, she lived with a man for four years, sharing his one-bedroom apartment with him and her adopted daughter, she basically propositioned Giuliani while he was still married to his second wife, and then conducted an adulterous affair with him. I’m guessing, all of these are firsts for a Republican first lady (Bill & Hillary were shacked up for awhile before marriage, one assumes).
Comments Andrew, “Well: DOMA wasn’t actually about marriage, was it?”
Oh, and I did see all the news today about Rudy offering up a health care plan. It’s voluntary, with vouchers and tax credits and no mandates and includes no details about how he would pay for it. (Media Matters chides the Times for not asking how much?)
It’s a sop going nowhere so I thought I wouldn’t even bother commenting. In the end, I just couldn’t help myself.
LATER: Gail Collins on the disappearance of Judith Giuliani from the campaign, “There are three possible roles for the modern political wife/husband: Partner, Decorative Accessory or AWOL. We’re knee-deep in partners these days, with Bill and Hillary and Elizabeth and John. But there’s nothing to suggest Judith Giuliani can play in those leagues. In fact, although the campaign has tried to launch her several times, she’s showed absolutely no aptitude even for the role of admiring spouse.”
Rudy & Roger & Fox
Roger Ailes and Rudolph W. Giuliani have been pulling for each other for nearly two decades.
Mr. Ailes was the media consultant to Mr. Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, officiated at Mr. Ailes’s wedding and intervened on his behalf when Mr. Ailes’s company, Fox News Channel, was blocked from securing a cable station in the city. [...]
[T]he relationship between Mr. Ailes and Mr. Giuliani is of the sort that led Mr. Ailes to grouse about CNN during the Clinton administration. Rick Kaplan, the president of CNN at the time, and President Clinton were established friends. Mr. Ailes, asserting the cable channel’s coverage of the president was altogether too warm, called it the “Clinton News Network.” [...]
This year through July 15, Mr. Giuliani appeared for 115 minutes in interviews on Fox, according to The Hotline, the political journal. More than half of those minutes, 78, were spent with Mr. Hannity, co-host of the “Hannity & Colmes” talk show. Mr. Hannity, a conservative who has spoken of his admiration for Mr. Giuliani, makes his own decisions about bookings, a spokeswoman said.
Mr. Giuliani’s on-air time on Fox was 25 percent greater than that of his Republican competitor Mitt Romney, and nearly double that of Senator John McCain of Arizona. Fred D. Thompson, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy, came in second to Mr. Giuliani with 101 minutes of Fox interviews.
Rudy, the firefighters and Michael Moore
The International Association of Firefighters is eager to tell the whole story about Rudy Giuliani’s 9/11 performance. Their 13 minute YouTube video has been viewed a couple hundred thousand times in the past three weeks. It’s been featured and debated in the blogosphere and on cable news.
Now the firefighters have a new ally. Michael Moore has joined the fray:
Moore has now released a new video directly taking on Rudy on behalf of the firefighters, pointing to their complaints of faulty radios, the placement of a command center in the World Trade Center after the 1993 bombing, and inadequate health care for 9/11 related illnesses.
“Hello, Mr. Giuliani, it’s Michael Moore. Remember me?” the filmmaker begins in the video. Visibly angry, he concludes with a direct plea to Giuliani to meet with the firefighters and address their complaints: “Those 9/11 heroes, a lot of them are suffering right now, a lot of them need medical care and you have refused to help them, in fact you have refused to even talk to them.”
The vid is significant because Moore’s notoriety could succeed in drawing more attention to the firefighters, who have been trying to take on Rudy mainly through free media. If Moore keeps this up, he could get them lots more of it.
More at MichaelMoore.com.
Google, Others Contest Copyright Warnings
Today, the Computer and Communications Industry Association—a group representing companies including Google Inc., Microsoft Inc. and other technology heavyweights—plans to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that several content companies, ranging from sports leagues to movie studios to book publishers, are overstepping bounds with their warnings. The group wants the FTC to investigate and order copyright holders to stop wording warnings in what it sees as a misrepresentative way.
“We look forward to receiving their complaint and reviewing it,” said an FTC spokeswoman. [...]
During every baseball game, a voice intones that “this copyrighted telecast is presented by authority of the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. It may not be reproduced or retransmitted in any form, and the accounts and descriptions of this game may not be disseminated without express written consent.” A Major League Baseball spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment without seeing the filing. Similar claims run ahead of National Football League games. An NFL spokesman declined to comment.
Studios typically display similar warnings ahead of movies and on DVDs, and publishers include them in their books.
The CCIA said copyright holders should let audiences know they may have a right to reproduce some of the work. They even provide examples of how it can be done, as in this warning in the John Wiley & Son’s 2007 book “Hotel California.” The warning says, “No part of this publication may be reproduced...except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the United States Copyright Act,” referring to the sections that deal with fair use and reproduction by libraries and archives.
If you harbor even the slightest notion that the FTC will actually do anything about this, I urge you to watch FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras interviewed on C-SPAN’s The Communicators as “she discusses the federal government’s role in preserving the concept of net neutrality.”
That woman is a corporate shill if ever there was one. Just one little example… a favorite line she uses again and again is that we have to be very cautious and take no regulatory action because we have to guard against “unintended consequences.” As if there couldn’t possibly be unintended consequences from not taking action.
RELATED: Hopeful… F.C.C. Hands Google a Partial Victory, “The agency approved rules for an auction of broadcast spectrum that...will let customers use any phone and software they want on networks using about one-third of the spectrum to be auctioned.”
MSNBC’s better. But just barely…
An entire span of the I-35 bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed about 90 minutes ago.
There are still people walking around the parts of the collapsed bridge not submerged in the river.
I turned on CNN Headline News to see what’s happening and there’s Nancy Grace, nostrils-a-flarin’, discussing how the people on the bridge and their families are going to be able to sue.
Can we get them off the rubble first, Nancy?
REMEMBER: Nancy Grace and that Georgia murder.
Praise for tap water
From the NYTimes editorial board:
On the streets of New York or Denver or San Mateo this summer, it seems the telltale cap of a water bottle is sticking out of every other satchel. Americans are increasingly thirsty for what is billed as the healthiest, and often most expensive, water on the grocery shelf. But this country has some of the best public water supplies in the world. Instead of consuming four billion gallons of water a year in individual-sized bottles, we need to start thinking about what all those bottles are doing to the planet’s health.
Bottled water is expensive, bad for the environment, and could undermine political support for investing in maintaining public water supplies.
RELATED: Last week Talk of the Nation had a good segment on The Water Debate: Bottled vs. Tap.
USA Today reports that Philadelphia is refining its pitch to gay tourists:
When the city rolled out a national ad campaign aimed at gay tourists four years ago, some of the commercials featured same-sex couples in Colonial costumes.
“Come to Philadelphia,” the ads said. “Get your history straight and your nightlife gay.”
Since then, the city has become more sophisticated in its effort to attract part of the annual $55 billion gay tourism market, targeting subgroups within the gay and lesbian community. [...]
The tourism agency partnered with R Family Vacations, a cruise company founded by entertainer Rosie O’Donnell and her partner Kelli that caters to gay and lesbian families. The city is also reaching out to gay athletes by meeting with gay softball, bowling and soccer leagues to accommodate their competitions, and it recently hosted the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
This past weekend, as I watched the Central PA Pride event protesters wield their megaphones to harass those of us standing in line to enter the event, I recalled that Philly anti-gay protesters recently lost a civil rights suit. The judge wrote, “There is no constitutional right to drown out the speech of another person.”
From the Philadelphia Inquirer (now behind a paywall):
Jan. 20 --A federal judge yesterday issued a ruling in favor of the city of Philadelphia and a gay-pride group in a civil-rights lawsuit filed by a group of anti-gay Christians who were arrested during a 2004 OutFest celebration in Center City.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel granted summary judgment for the city and Philly Pride Presents Inc., the nonprofit group that organized the OutFest event in a 15-block area between Walnut and Pine, 11th and Juniper streets.