Monday, October 27, 2008

Is a corrupt hero still a hero?

Larry Davis was an African American South Bronx resident and drug dealer who was made famous 1) for his shootout with and unharmed escape from New York City detectives and the Emergency Service Unit (like S.W.A.T. but with more much abilities), 2) for his acquittal of charges in court afterwards. Was he a hero?

The year 1986: He had been suspected of dealing drugs for years and the killing 7 people, 4 of which were other drug dealers. On the night of November 19th, the cops listed above had busted into some adjoining project apartments where Larry was present with two of his sisters, a sister's husband, two of his children and two others. At this point, the truth becomes fuzzy. Davis' daughter, his lawyer Williams Kunstler, and a few other accounts say that the police busted into Davis' sister's apartment without a warrant and started firing heavy artillery first after Davis had screamed out "Don't shoot! My babies are back there!". In defense and retaliation, he fired back at them. According to the cops who were there as well as some alternative accounts, Larry Davis peeked a sawed-off shotgun and a semi-automatic pistol around the corner he was hiding behind and opened up fire on the cops first, who were performing this raid with a signed warrant from the judge. In the midst of this firefight, he used a child as a shield against the oncoming hail of bullets.

Either way, he shot six cops: one in the mouth, another in the throat, another in the forehead. In the midst of the firefight, he proceeded into the adjoining apartment and made his way out of the window, where he landed into a backyard and escaped.

For a week or so, the police held a manhunt for Larry Davis, until a tip finally led them to his real location in some project apartment building in the Bronx where his sister lived. After taking a random family hostage and making sure that live reporters were there to witness the event so that the police wouldn't murder him in cold-blood, Davis' surrendered his firearm, let the family go and turned himself into the police. As cops handcuffed him and led him to the squad car, people leaned out of their windows and stood on nearby sidewalks chanting "Lar-ry! Lar-ry! Lar-ry!", proud of his rebellious acts.

Why would I question if he was a hero? Why would the police murder him in cold blood? Why were the onlookers proud?

You see, I had mentioned Larry Davis was selling drugs.........but at some point, he was recruited by the cops to sell for them. He admitted in the following trials that, at some point, he was going to go public with his connections to the cops. This puts a new spin on the context of the first raid: perhaps they were really in bursting in there to kill him and shut him up. So, perhaps they did fire first. Other cops say that these the alleged officers were not involved in any illegal activity. But it is a well-circulated belief that there is a tight-knit "brotherhood" amongst policemen. They will often clean up after each other's horrific and immoral acts. Especially in the atmosphere of 1980's New York City, South Bronx, a place known for it's poverty, gang activity, and sharp racial tension poor minorities and a majority-white police force. A restlessness had grown in the people who were oppressed by racial prejudices, and Larry Davis' acts seemed to symbolize rebellion.

In court, Davis' was defended by Williams Kunstler, a civil rights attorney and socialist who was known for defending controversial clients such as Qubilah Shabazz (Malcolm X's daughter), Assata Shakur (Tupac Shakur's aunt) and the Chicago Seven. The prosecution charged him with all kinds of accounts from weapons possession to attempted murder. They presented many witness testimonies and pieces of evidence, but this all failed to push conviction. Kunstler, without a single piece of evidence, proved that the cops were trying to kill Davis' because of his drug dealings with them, and during the raid, he fired back at them in self-defense. The jury believed it, and he was acquitted.

Later on, however, he was found guilty on the charges of the murder of one of the drug dealers and was sentenced 25 to life. In February of this year, Larry Davis was stabbed to death in prison by fellow inmate Luis Rosado. The two had no connection prior to the fight, and it is believed that policemen paid Rosado to kill him.

So, Larry Davis is held as a hero in his neighborhood because he defeated the policemen's criminal trickery with his own criminal trickery. The hero context is that policemen in those times (and still some today) have committed ferocious, racist, criminal atrocities while "law-abiding" officials higher up turned a blind eye to it. Larry Davis committed atrocities against the cops and, with the wit of his lawyer, got the same blind eye turned on him.

Some accounts say that Davis was a reckless figure who tried to destroy anything that got in the way of his pecuniary path. So, he also committed atrocities against his own neighborhood citizens. Others, like his family and friends, say that he was a kind, caring person who did what he had to do in a suffering urban jungle in order to survive. This particular case stuck out to me because I know other people who would say that I, as a black person, am supposed to jump behind and support Davis' acts because he assaulted policemen and got away with it. Because in the minds of people who have experienced terrible, unjustified things from policemen and some who just like to talk and act like they did: all cops are corrupt.

Obviously, this isn't true. But it does still stand that corrupt cops exist. But the question here is: is corruption against the corrupt ok? Am I suppose to support someone who tried to stop immorality by endorsing heavy immorality in his own acts?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Different beginnings, same endings

Interesting conversation a couple of days back with [Stacy], a waitress and cook at a Soul Food restaurant I go to for lunch sometimes. When I come there and choose between fish, macaroni and cheese and potato salad, or pancakes, eggs and the rest of what goes in a breakfast, we discuss things such as the ethics of drinking on the job, differences in Christian beliefs, ill-fated sexual adventures and other miscellaneous topics. Of course, recently the cloud of the current political climate has invaded the atmosphere and our discourse.

Somehow, we had gotten to talking about religious beliefs determining who can and can't be a country leader. [Stacy] could not vote for someone who was a Muslim or Atheist, her being a Christian herself. She couldn't really give me a reason why, other than telling me that it says "In God We Trust" on the dollar bill. The Muslims and Atheists aren't about what this country is about, the Muslims don't like us, and to quote her "I mean, where do Atheists think we come from anyway?" (when I told her the Big Bang theory, she sucked her teeth and walked away).

I don't think she's close-minded though. She was aware that this is her perspective and she was open to other kinds of reasoning. I think, when the word Muslim comes up, she thinks of the Hamas, Hezbollahs, Al-Qaedas and things of those sort. She can't help herself (as a result of fear and conservative media warp), and she acknowledges that there are also peaceful, conscious Muslims to be spoken for. I mean, there could be a million reasons why she has these beliefs.

As for me, these discussions make me see how loose I am with these sort of things, if only to counteract this rampant sharp judgement of people's character instead of sharp judgement of their adherence to morals. I could care less if a talking bottle of orange juice was running for presidential nomination. If its priorities were:

-cleaner air and doing what we can about climate change
-putting a stop to corporations outsourcing jobs
-improving education (as well as making it more accessible. Education is a moral obligation, not a privilege.)
-paying leading infrastructural leaders more (teachers, construction, social services, scientists, police, etc.) [of course, within reason on each individual case]
-a foreign policy of less nuclear weapons and a more co-habitual world instead of a barberic, completely competitive one

then it will be alright with me. What I was trying to say to her is that people of different cultures and beliefs can very well share the same values. It comes from first realizing that there is a world outside of yourself. Then realizing that you must take care of this world and help it thrive if you want it to help you...........................

I think it was pancakes, sausages and eggs that day. I was also drinking orange juice, which would probably explain why I thought about not minding it running for president.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Look at this crap

Just take a gander at this quick 47 second clip. This is why many Repubs should be punched in the face.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Anxiety of your child's Death

I was watching an episode of Law and Order the other day where they investigated a corpse/murder victim and found that an angst-filled high school bully named John Telford slammed a sickle blade into this kid's neck.

In the high school, most of the students were separated into social groups: geeks, jocks, freaks, and some other generic terms. In order to investigate and frame this boy, they had to interview other kids John has bullied, one in particular who he's repeatedly called a "faggot" and threatened by putting a knife to his neck.

This kind of element in the next generation makes it very difficult for communications between youths. Between everybody. I was thinking that I'd be pretty pissed, to say the least, if that was my son murdered.

The bully had a bunch of weapons in his house, including knives (throwing and combat), nunchucks, a machete, and the sickle. Upon further investigation, it was found that John's father, Robert, bought him the sickle. The boy then used his father's credit card, acknowledged by Robert but not reprimanded, to buy a whole bunch of other weapons. Robert said that he thought John was using them to practice his martial arts, as he used to take classes.

The maliciousness and violence in John's heart also came from his father, as Robert claims to have been teaching and encouraging his son to be this violent so that John would be able to protect himself. He, instead, has turned his son into an up-and-coming serial killer. How any parent, even the chauvinist, thick-headed pig fathers can find this even remotely feasible is beyond me.

The evidence presented in court was not enough to prosecute John with: he cleaned up the crime scene pretty good, there was no blood on the sickle nor on John's clothes or John himself, other victims of John's were too terrified to testify against him. Cleaning up after himself threw the insanity defense out of the window, since he clearly knew he was wrong. Not to mention the fact that when the two detectives investigated his house garage, Robert was reluctant to show them the target dummy and throwing knives John used for practice. However, no dice on throwing John in jail. So, they prosecuted the father, saying that they will imprison him for murder in the first degree for turning his son into a walking killing machine.

Yes, the charge is tenuous, charging someone for their being a malicious and destructive parent (for their character), but I don't think the charge would have stood in (the fictional) court if the connection wasn't direct. I mean, Robert let his teenage son have all of these weapons and encouraged him to fight against people in school. If you were the parent of the dead boy, I'm sure you'd want justice by locking one of these two culprits up. With the fictional jury, the charge worked and the father was arrested. Yes, now parents have to be afraid of being arrested for being bad parents. Perhaps it set a loose and even illogical precedent. But examine the context. Put yourself in the victim's parents' shoes.

The deadly irony is, after an episode like this, one would be terrified of sending their child out into the world......unless they were teaching their child the same things John was being taught. How does anything get solved then? Let me answer that with this: how else is a parent and child to let go of their anxiety otherwise? There's a difference between defense and aggression. It's called wisdom.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Vice Presidential Debate [Amended]

Ok, so Sarah Palin was a bit more polished and 'with-intelligence', but she still made the case, for me, that she is in no way at all fit to run the country.

She tried the small businesses taxes crap, saying that tax cuts for the rich will hurt small businesses who have to be able to pay their employees. But Biden swept that right up, saying that 95% of small businesses make less than $250,000 which means that they will not be touched by the taxes.

Of course, she stumbled on the same-sex marriage question, her being a conservative Christian and all, saying that (I think) she'd be ok with civil law marriages, not "changing the definition of a marriage". Biden complied with this, although he spoke much more about not going against people's civil rights. I believe Obama is ok with same-sex marriages.

Biden made it clear that Bush has economically ruined this nation and that McCain will do the same, eliminating his title as a "Maverick". McCain put tons of votes against alternative energy and also voted, along with Obama, against the funding of the Iraq surge because he didn't like the timeline. Doesn't he want the war to go on for 100 years (what, he was being sarcastic?) Speaking of which, both candidates were asked "What do you think are the causes of climate change?" She made it obvious that she knew nothing about it, tiptoeing around blaming the public for this and bumbling about how she didn't want to debate the causes, but rather "clean up the planet". Biden killed that nonsense, explaining that he believed it was manmade and that you cannot solve problems without knowing their causes. He talked about the large amount of gases coal in the U.S. and China emitted, killing our atmosphere. He talked about investing in clean coal and renewable resources.

[When questioned about McCain's terrible health care plans, Biden addressed it, breaking the $12,000-for-you to $5,000-for-the-insurance-company difference. Gwen Ifyll then questioned Palin about it, and she chose to drone on about some taxes Obama proposed to raise, the same taxes McCain himself voted for. Ifyll questioned her about the health care plan again directly. Palin once again ignored it directly.]

On the question of "how will you lead the country differently if you were to become president", Biden said that agrees wholeheartedly with Obama's campaign and would continue it. Palin said that, of course, the party has conflicts with each other so she would do other things with the Commander-In-Chief position. And..........I can't really tell you if she actually said anything. To be honest, I don't remember. I think I was commenting on CNN's political ticker

I mean, Palin impressed me by not talking about war as "God's War", and being a little bit more prepared in her arguments. But they were still weak, and she still knows nothing about what's going on in this country. [Also, please note that Palin made sure that, at the end of the debate, she showed her baby and the rest of the family to the public, completing her little infomercial on trying to sell the American public a cheating, greedy president.]