Blog Description and Introduction

Ok, here it is..the unadulterated truth. What I say here will no doubt cause great disagreement by many people. Good. If they disagree, that means they read it. Those are the very people who need to see this information! Education is not necessarily about being comfortable. Learning involves change, and not too many like change. Especially the well-to-do. They have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Police vs. the "Occupy" Movement: Enough is Enough!

This is America.  We have a constitutional democracy.  Well, a republic, if you want to be technical about it.  Semantic technicalities notwithstanding, we still have guaranteed freedoms and rights. 

Two of those most basic rights are the freedom of speech, and to peaceably assemble.  For any purpose.  In this country, we have the right to disagree with our government, or anything else, including but not limited to giant corporations and financial institutions.

When enough people get fed up with the status-quo, they are allowed, by virtue of that constitution and its Bill of Rights, to gather, march, protest, call out slogans, chant, or have a simple "sit-in."  As long as it remains peaceful, it is legal.  A group is not even required;  a single person is allowed to protest by whatever peaceful means they choose.

What has happened?  We have the police cracking down on peaceful protesters, beating people with batons, assaulting them with pepper spray, ripping up their signs and temporary shelters, and in general, behaving exactly like underworld thugs and punks.

All of a sudden the protesters, the "occupiers," are being treated as if they are the punks, and all they are doing is sitting, walking, talking, perhaps shouting chants and slogans.  They are exercising their legal right to protest, object, and in general say, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

The actions of the police (at the direction of city mayors, I might add), is what is illegal.  Both are acting as if we have moved to someplace like Red China or Stalinist Russia. We still have our freedoms, and we need to stand up and protect them; yes, fight for them if necessary.

Should any of the protesters, either alone or in unity with others, jump up and attempt to turn the tables, or resist their treatment at the hands of the police, they are charged with anything from ‘resisting arrest’ to ‘assault.’  Excuse me, but it is the cops who are doing the assaulting!  They deserve a taste of their own medicine!

After the signing of the constitution, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “What do we have?”  His reply?  “A republic—if you can keep it.”  Well, folks, our republic is under attack, and not from external terrorists, but from inside our own government!  It is time to wake up, rise up, and fight to retain our rights!!

The most egregious example is the excuse used for this wave of squelching the rights and freedoms of the individual.  It is called “The Patriot Act.”  It was enacted soon after the 9-11 attacks, and was nothing more than a smoke-and-mirrors falsehood to keep the populace quiet, and try to make them feel safe. 

Well, bullshit!  There is no polite way to put it.  It stripped many of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, and jeopardizes others.  It is the motivation behind the current behavior by police, city mayors, and now, even, apparently college chancellors!  College!!  Of all places, where the right to protest and the lessons about our freedoms should be in the forefront of the curriculum, is now a stage being used to show off the force and might of the bullies in uniforms.  FOR SHAME!

Here’s another surprise:  That so-called “patriot act?”  It is, in and of itself, illegal, unconstitutional, and therefore worthy of being ignored and not enforced.  It is the worst oxymoron, and most un-patriotic edict ever enacted!  What needs to happen is for everyone to demand its repeal, and assert themselves even more.  Do not be bullied and cowed by The Powers That Be (TPTB), or you and your children and your grandchildren for generations forward, will pay the price of having watched this once great nation slide into the darkness of dictatorship, just like the ones we are claiming to battle around the world.

For what business do we have messing about in other countries’ affairs, preaching about “human rights violations,” when our own government is not practicing what it preaches?!  We need to tend to the constitutionally guaranteed rights of our own citizens, and tell TPTB to MYOB and stop harassing their own citizens, and violating our human rights, in the name of some nebulous, imaginary threat. 


Monday, November 14, 2011

As the Holiday Season Approaches...

(Christians, prepare to be both offended and educated.)

This is the time when many people take stock of the year as it comes to a close, make decisions for the following year, and plan all kinds of celebrations with family and friends. 

This is great.  It is all well and good.  However, there is certain misinformation widely distributed at this time of year, and while I have no problem with people observing whatever religious persuasion they choose, I do have a problem with it being incessantly shoved in my face.

Our Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion likewise assures freedom from religion for those who do not believe, or who follow a different path.   Yet, as we shop the stores from almost before Halloween has even arrived, our ears are assaulted by Christmas music in nearly every store we visit until the very day before Christmas itself.  The Christian view and its music is virtually shoved down our throats at every turn.

The Christmas holiday takes on a life of its own that has nothing to do with religion or religious beliefs, and everything to do with corporate greed.  It is the biggest mass-marketing push of the year.  You can shop for a late November birthday gift if you wish, but  know this:  the store will count it into its Christmas sales figures!

A few persons of this particular religious persuasion will grumble about the commercialization of the holiday, trying to remind the rest that, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."  Unfortunately, they are just as wrong.

The day on which Christians celebrate the birth of their "lord" has nothing to do with the birth of an infant many years ago and far away.  That person was not born in winter--the evidence for that is in the very music of the season...shepherds would not be out in the middle of winter in the snow with their flocks..they'd die of exposure, and there would be no grass for the sheep to nibble.  No, winter is barn and hay time.  So, the Christ Child was more likely born in spring or summer.

What really happened, here then?   The early church was struggling desperately for converts.  They used all sorts of nefarious schemes to gain them, including threats of death and seizure of property.  Most fell into line, if begrudgingly.  In those days, people still worshipped a pantheon of older gods and goddesses even pre-dating Roman and Greek traditions.

In December, the Winter Solstice occurs, and was celebrated back then with great feasts, and many fires, candles, torches, and so forth, to drive back the darkness of winter, and make hope for the return of Spring and her light and warmth.  Some of the pagan sects made offerings of food to their gods; others may have made blood sacrifices.  It was a horrific time to try and survive a winter in meager shelters with little in the way of warm clothing.  Many died over winter.  It was a scary time. 
The feasted, they drank, they danced and made merry to chase the fear, the dark, the cold.  Just around the 25th of the month was the Saturnalia celebration. 

Many of the reluctant converts still practiced their old ways in secret, only pretending to believe in this new religion, simply to save their lives and their land, if they had any.  The church noticed this, and took advantage of the fact by simply piggy-backing the celebrations they wanted to emphasize onto the pagan celebrations already happening.  Hence, they decided to assign the birth of Christ onto the same date as the Saturnalia.  Bingo!  Instant (apparent) compliance with the church-mandated celebration!

In fact, the church probably knew, or suspected the real motives behind the celebrants' partying, but they looked the other way at first, satisfying themselves that they had "won" and convinced the popluation to believe as the church directed.

Over time, however, as the elders of the population died off, and new people were born, the people forgot the old ways.   Gradually, stricter rules were put into place by the church, and they began to have an iron fisted will over their subjects.  Enter the crusades and other horrors such as the Spanish Inquisition.

Oh, and by the way, the original meaning of "pagan" back in those days was simply a person of the country, or countryman ... meaning of the land...a simple person.  There was no negative connotation as the church later characterized the word.  "Pagan" does not mean devil-worship.

Nowadays, we hear all kinds of whining from the Christian community about all the things wrong with this "holy" season.  They are offended when people say "Happy Holidays," instead of "Merry Christmas."  Well, excuse you, but not everyone you meet is a Christian!

Why would you expect them to offer you  a greeting pertaining to your particular religious celebration?  There are far more religions than just Christians that have celebrations at this time of year.  So, insistence on "Merry Christmas" as the only appropriate greeting is a very chauvinistic and bigoted  viewpoint. 

Do you Christians put up a tree?  String your house with lights?  Teach your children about Santa?  These are all remnants from the original Pagan traditions.

So I ask, why should you be any more offended than a Jewish person, to whom no one says "Happy Chanukah?"  What about those who celebrate Kwanzaa?  Don't they have an equal right to be offended by your "Merry Christmas?"  I am  pagan, and proud of it.  Shouldn't people greet me with "Happy Yuletide" or "Merry Saturnalia?" No, that should not be expected of them. I don't celebrate the Christian holidays; and I don't expect you to celebrate mine.  I am offended that the focus of the season is exclusively Christian in its basis.   There are many winter celebrations, so, in fact, "Happy Holidays" is the more proper, all-encompassing greeting that leaves out no one! 

 I have put up with this in silence for decades.  The silence has ended.  I am tired of hearing Christmas Carols in every store for 2 solid months; so the next time someone says "Jesus is the Reason for the Season,"  they need not expect a polite answer.  There are many 'reasons for the season,' and the Jesus one was trumped up centuries ago.  So--


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unjust Treatment in the Name of Justice

Foreword:  This is a copy, by permission, of a letter this author received following a discussion of a TV news report.  The report had reduced her to tears, and she followed up with this write-up, explaining her outburst.
All names (including the name of the author of this letter), have been changed, and specifics have been omitted or altered to protect the innocent and those associated with them.

By  S.W. Garletta

        I want to see Megan’s Law repealed.  Shocked?  Don’t be.  If you consider yourself a fair, open-minded person, you will keep reading.  If you refuse to read further, you are one of those who are part of the problem.

            The majority of this piece simply points out the facts and fictions about this law, and uses imaginary examples, or those culled from news broadcasts.  However, there is a part of this essay that involves a personal and true story.  As with many such true stories, in which there are living persons whose privacy needs to remain protected, the names, locations, and exact circumstances have been altered.  The central facts, however, are absolutely true.  I know them to be true, because my own husband is one of the unfortunates caught up in this web of lies and fear mongering woven by our government!!  I have read the files, and know I am right.
            On the surface of it, the so-called Megan’s Law seems to be a good idea:  warn those with children when a sexual offender lives in or moves into their neighborhood.   In practice, the law is horribly flawed.  It simply does not work as intended.   However, it is important to keep in mind that what happened to poor little Megan was not  a sexual assault alone—she was murdered!  Therefore, to place sexual-only attacks in the same category is just plain wrong. 
           Do not misunderstand:  I make no excuses or justifications for those who have inappropriate sexual encounters with young children, and I do not deny that such events are horribly traumatic for the child and the family.  However, with therapy, recovery is possible. There is no therapy or recovery from murder, however, and that is why  Megan’s case should not be the basis for these unjust laws.

            The first and most terrible flaw is that it has been ruled unconstitutional in just about every single state or jurisdiction, which has such laws.  The government does not care.  The politicians push these laws to gain votes in election years in order to appear “tough on crime.”  They do not give a rat’s ass about either the victims or the perpetrators.  All they care about is gaining votes to keep them in office.  Personal gain is their sole motivation.

           (Personally, I’d be more concerned if a convicted murderer moved into the area;  and this does happen.)  Murderers, however, are not required to report their locations or register with a state or county agency on a yearly basis.  Where are they?  No one knows.

            This is not to suggest that I want a database established for these, or any other person who has duly served their time and been released back into society.  I do not.  Such laws, in addition to being unconstitutional, are highly discriminatory and counter-productive. 

            Part of the reason "Megan's Law" is unconstitutional is because the people required to register on these lists are in fact, continuing to be punished, and ‘serve time’ despite the fact that they have served their time and have been released from prison.  Even after they have completed their parole period with no infractions, still they must register.  It is, in effect, a life sentence. 
           For this reason, it can also be seen as double jeopardy, remaining accused for a lifetime for the same ‘crime’ for which they already served, and in the majority of cases, been "rehabilitated." I put that word in quotes because in many, many cases, the law was incorrectly applied, and they were not, in fact, guilty of the charges putting them into this category, so "rehabilitation" was not even needed!!
           For example, if something happens within a family setting, while it is certainly not "the right thing to do," there is a different set of laws to be applied, and the person is not supposed to be classified as  'stranger-predator.'  No one cares!  People in such circumstances still get caught in the same trap, all because some D.A. wants to "look tough on crime."

            The law is applied illegally most of the time.  People such as my husband, (I’ll call him "Timothy"), are placed on this list in direct violation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) rules when the circumstances in their situation are spelled out in the DOJ rules as being exempt from registration and internet publication. This is the case, (and there are a couple of other situations as well)  if whatever it was happened within a family unit, rather than a so-called ‘stranger predetation.’)  The DOJ does not care.  Everyone even charged with anything remotely and ridiculously classified as a ‘sexual offense’ gets caught in this web.

 Do not scoff!  It can happen to you!  Have you ever been on a long drive, and “had to go” but there were no rest stops, small towns, big cities, or any other stopping place with any ‘facilities’ anywhere near?  What do most folks do in this situation?  Correct!  Pull off the side of the road, hunker down as best as possible beside the car, and relieve themselves.  Ooops!  Get caught, and get slapped with a ‘sexual offender’ charge.  Ridiculous?  Unjust? Incorrect?  You bet!  But it happens, and more often than you would think.

            Equally scary is the devastation of the lives of young people by this kind of unfair, unconstitutional laws.  Regardless of anyone’s opinion about whether or not teenagers should simply ‘abstain’ from sexual activity, the fact is, they do not.  We humans are sexual animals, (yes, animals—look up the dictionary definition of ‘mammal’ -- we are among them), and face it--sex feels good. Despite the wishful-thinking of the extreme right-wing "moralists," We are not designed for abstinence.  Need proof?  Just look at all the scandals involving priests! 

            Now, if the teenagers involved are both under 18, there is no real problem with the law.  There may be plenty of other problems, but I will not go into that here.  This article is strictly about the Megan’s Law snafus. 
            Let’s take an imaginary couple of kids, I’ll call them  “Grace” and “Billy.”  Suppose they have known each other all their lives, and actually have a deep and caring relationship.  We’ll put "Grace" at just a month shy of her 18th birthday, and "Billy" at having just turned 18.  Grace will be graduating from high school, and the two plan to get married. 

            Now, let’s examine how Megan’s Law will come into play to totally foul up their plans for the rest of their lives.  We’ll say they had relations, and somehow, someone else found out.  Technically, under the law, "Grace" is still a ‘minor child,’ and "Billy" is technically now an adult.  Guess what happens?  "Billy" gets slapped with a sexual offender charge, and there is no allowable defense as the law currently stands.  He may go to jail for several years.  So much for their impending marriage!  The law simply dumps every single case into the same basket, and refuses to take individual circumstances, or non-predatory situations  into consideration. 

Once "Billy" gets out of jail, he’ll now have to register as a “sex offender” for the rest of his life!!!   Guess what that does to his chances to find work?  It’s going to show up on background checks, and he will be denied any kind of reasonable job, even though he did not hurt anyone, was not a predator, and was simply with the girl he loved and planned to marry. 
Regardless of laws prohibiting discrimination; regardless of laws encouraging employers to hire ex-cons to give them a fresh start, this unfair denial of employment still happens.  Naturally, the employer will cover their backside by giving some other bogus reason, but the truth is, they are ‘spooked’ by the ‘sex offender’ stigma, and will deny employment in far too many cases.

            Maybe he is lucky, and "Grace" waited for him and stuck by him.  Maybe they do finally get to marry.  Now, given that his name is on the offender registry for any member of the public to find, not only will he have trouble finding a decent job to support any family they may have, but by association, "Grace" will also be judged and ostracized. 
           They will have trouble finding friends.  People will talk about them behind their backs and point fingers.  All for no good reason.  Neither of them hurt anyone, but the both of them have been irreparably hurt for the rest of their lives, simply because they loved each other, and the government saw fit to stick its nose into someone’s private bedroom!

            A very recent story on the news, in fact, involved a 17-year-old male who became involved with, and had relations with a 20-year-old school employee.  Anyone with a head on their shoulders and two brain cells inside knows very well the interests and hormonal levels of a 17-year-old male!  There is not a single doubt in my mind that this was a consensual affair, and not a “molestation” by the female school employee.   I will not disagree that it was inappropriate, but it can in no way be classified as a molestation or rape.

 There had to be mutual consent.  How do I know?  A young man of that age has plenty of strength to fend off any female not armed with a weapon.  No weapons were involved in the case.  The next thing that most people are aware of about males of that age, is an irresistible urge to boast about ‘conquests.’  No doubt it came to light and they got caught because the kid could not keep his mouth shut.  If the school employee has to register as a ‘sex offender’ for the balance of her life, it will be a grave injustice for having a single lapse in good judgment.

            Most people are cowards of the first water.  Upon seeing someone’s name on this list, especially that of a neighbor, they will immediately assume  that the person is a horrible monster, and will have nothing to do with that person. 
(Remember what ASSUME spells: it makes an Ass out of U and Me!)
Worse, they will probably blab their “findings” all over the place to anyone who will listen.  It is the rare person who will actually approach the listed individual themselves and ask for their side of the story.  That has happened only once with my "Timothy."

            The Megan’s Law list is so full of inaccuracies and illegal listings as to be worse than useless.  There are duplicate listings, making it appear as if there are far more so-called ‘predators’ on the loose than is the case.  There are countless inclusions of people placed on the list illegally, as with "Timothy," whose personal circumstances specifically exempt him from being on that list as spelled out in the DOJ’s own rules.  Those rules are routinely ignored.  Once someone is on that list, it is next to impossible to be removed, even if they are listed illegally.  Why?  Well, the ‘simple form’ that a person can fill out to verify their circumstances and ask for removal will come back with a denial, based on some obscure excuse not even listed on the original form.

            There are entire law firms basing their business around getting people off this list if they have been unjustly placed there.  However, this costs a lot of money, and as we have seen, people caught in this web are very likely to be in dead-end low-paying jobs without the resources to hire legal help.  In this country, you get all the justice you can afford to buy!  (Remember O.J. Simpson?)

What happened with my "Timothy" was especially unjust, because when he began serving time, there was no such law.  It was implemented after he had been incarcerated for a few years.  He should not have been jailed in the first place.  Why was he?  Because he is an ethical, chivalrous person, and took the rap to protect the person actually responsible for what happened, that being his ex-wife.  It is not a made-up excuse or lie he tells.  He believes in the truth.  As I said, I have seen the files, and know the facts of the matter.

            The media is in large part to blame for this widespread injustice.  They just love to sensationalize and blow things way out of proportion to the truth.  “If it bleeds, it leads” is a guiding principle in modern journalism.  Never mind the facts—those are boring.  Another thing to keep in mind:  it is possible to report facts and still cast a false light on any subject with the lie of omission.  By simply neglecting to include other important points, the news reports put a spin that will sell advertising time for them.  They are not too concerned with the full facts.

            Rarely, an in-depth news show will offer more balanced coverage.  This was the case with a 20/20 episode, which aired a few years back, exposing the problems with the Megan’s Law registry and all the errors.  Unfortunately, 20/20 is not a news show watched by ‘the mainstream audience’ to which regular network news is targeted, so there is not a wide base of people aware of the problems.

            Another problem with these statistics, as was pointed out in the 20/20 segment:  The vast majority of so-called ‘child abduction’ cases are actually family custody disputes of one sort or another, yet they are lumped in with the ‘stranger predation’ cases just the same.  The mainstream media and politicians would have their viewers and constituents quaking in fear of a predator waiting behind every bush.  This is simply not the case—far from it!! 
            The main factor which people seem to be totally blind to is this:  the people on that registry are not the ones to be afraid of!!!  They are doing as required by this foolish law, in spite of how horribly it affects their personal lives and the lives of those close to them.  No, indeed.  The people the public should be concerned about do not appear on any of these lists.  Why?  Because the lists only account for those who actually go through with the registration! This law is nothing more than a "feel-good" prescription for the public, and does nothing at all to deter the actual dangerous true predators, (who are very rare anyhow).  Why?  Because:
 The truly dangerous ones are not in compliance, do not register, and no one knows where they are at any given time!  
  A far better strategy than having these cumbersome, illegal, unconstitutional and problem-causing registries is to simply use some common sense.  Do not fall for the fear mongering tactics.  It is with laws such as these that our freedoms become eroded.  If the powers-that-be can get away with revoking constitutionally guaranteed rights from one group of people on some trumped-up excuse, they will gradually take more and more rights away from everyone. 

            We may not like that there are some rotten, evil people out there in the world, but ‘twas ever thus: they have always existed.  To try and live in some kind of bubble, or put people in lifetime classifications and cages simply does not work.   Making use of our own inner strengths, learning self-defense, and teaching our youngsters self-defense as well is more useful and far less expensive and less draining on limited resources, especially in an ailing economy.  If physical education classes in school incorporated self-defense techniques, it would serve a two-fold purpose.  First, kids would be far less vulnerable to the (very rare) predators that exist; the secondary benefit is that it would end bullying by other kids, because the bully types would know that everyone knows how to defend against an attack, thereby rendering the bullies powerless.

            Let’s stop the madness, stop the injustice, stop the fear mongering, stop the erosion of our freedoms, and get these registry laws repealed!  They do far more harm than good.

            The denial of anyone’s rights is the denial of all our rights. 


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Right Wing Miscalculations

The right-wing side of the current arguments now happening between Republicans and Democrats on the subject of such already-decided issues as Roe v. Wade and other related topics surrounding "the family," including not only a woman's right to choose, but the new hot-button topic of whether or not "gays" should be allowed to adopt children are flawed from the inside-out!

The Republican right-wingers want us to go back to the dark ages and the bad old days, when women and children were thought of as property, and the fathers, husbands and society at large (meaning male persons in a position of authority) could order them around as they saw fit.  The typical Republican view of what they so ironically refer to as "the family," or "family values" centers around only their own selfish interests and desires.  They do not respect women, but regard them only as breeding machines and housecleaners.  I would not be at all surprised if their next move was to try to overturn women's right to vote!

 The problem with their so-called "family-centered" arguments about fertility, childbearing, abortion,  gays and gay rights, is that these ideas are based solely upon thier own personal religious beliefs.

Excuse me, but according to the Constitution, we do have freedom of religion in this country!  By extension, that also includes freedom from religion for anyone who may feel no need to subscribe to any church.  Just like the rest of the population of the country, these extra-conservative folks have every right go believe in whatever religion or religious value system they wish--in privateWhat they do not have, is the right to cram their beliefs down everyone else's throat by means of making laws to favor their own view.

They will, for example, use an argument along the lines of, "...not wanting their tax dollares spent on abortions."  That is all well and good, but maybe I don't want my tax dollars spent of bombs! So there!  We're even!  Not everyone gets their way. But that still does not give them the right to override our Constitutional guarantees with bigotry and predjudicial laws.  We have come a long way, and the right-wing conservatives want to take us backwards in time.  This group of loudmouthed selfish-interest people are so clueless and out of touch with reality that it is scary!

While it is true that the Constitution's wording only says that the government shall not provide for or endorse any specific religion, (1st amendment to the constitution; click link for exact wording), the fact of the matter is that what these ultra-conservative sharpies are trying to do is make an end-run around that wording, and create laws which reflect their own personal religious agendas, thereby violating both the letter and the spirit of the Constitutional 1st amendment rights.  If allowed to have things their way, it will amount to the creation of what might as well be 'state religion' despite the 1st amendment law against doing so.

What is worse, is that these right-wingers are in no way the majority of the population!!  They are simply the noisiest and most visible. (The squeaky wheel gets the grease.)   If they are not stopped, we will end up under a dictatorship with all of our constitutional rights revoked!

We must not allow this to happen.  The rest of us have to stop 'laying down and taking it' in the shorts, and stand up for our rights, and become an even squeakier wheel and demand an end to this attempted overthrow of the Constitution of these United States!! 

We must all become activists against the right wing. Yes, it's work.  Yes, it can be risky.  How much do you value your freedoms?

Blog Description and Introduction

Ok, here it is..the unadulterated truth.  What I say here will no doubt cause great disagreement by many people.  Good.   If they disagree, that means they read it. Those are the very people who need to see this information!

Education in not necessarily about being comfortable.  Learning involves change, and not too many like change.  Especially the well-to-do.  They have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are.