Thursday, September 13, 2007

Because we think you might care...

Noteworthy items out there in the ether:
  • Either civics teachers are doing a terrible job or some kids aren't paying attention in class. Sixty-five percent of Americans believe that the nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55% believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation, according to the "State of the First Amendment 2007" national survey released yesterday by the First Amendment Center. USA Today has coverage here. In an unrelated story, 40% of Americans say they will vote for this guy for President in 2008.
Our prison population is number one in the world. We've got more inmates than Russia, more than the known number in China - what a distinction for the Land of the Free.
Americans who prefer to ignore reality don't want to spend money on support programs for "ex-cons." They call it coddling. They ignore that it's more expensive to keep building $150 million prisons and spend millions more in maintenance costs to house them.
Just the words early release scare people who conjure images of some Willie Horton raping and pillaging his way through their communities. But it doesn't have to be that way. It won't if prisons are used to rehabilitate rather than warehouse inmates. It won't if you have effective support programs to help released inmates make a successful return to society. Most important in that transition is helping them to get a job.

  • Speaking of rich, white, male privilege and of further expanding Pennsylvania's already overcrowded jails with more black and brown young men, on Tuesday, the PA House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on House Bill 326, which would increase criminal penalties for gang-related activity. Meanwhile, today's New York Times features a story about the failure of such legislation in other areas of the country. "L.A. has this approach of being tough on crime," said Craig Watkins, the district attorney in Dallas, where some Los Angeles-style tactics are being rolled back. "But the result of that is overflowing prisons, high crime rates and increasing numbers of gang members. Now we want to be smart on crime." Clearly, the planets are aligned when a DA is saying the same thing I've said privately to friends and colleagues.
  • Finally, friend of the ACLU Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr. of the Hip Hop Caucus was assaulted by Capitol Police on Monday while waiting to enter the hearings featuring General David Petraeus. His crime? He was wearing a button that said, "I love the people of Iraq." As Firedoglake notes, this is not what democracy looks like.

Andy in Harrisburg

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first point about the US being a "Christian Nation" is a particularly sore point for me and my family. It seems like people don't understand that secular does NOT mean atheist, and because they equate the two, they think we're trying to "take god away" from them.

They've gotten so used to being able to have their prayers in schools, ten commandments on court property, and other things that really are in violation of the secular nature of our country that they now take us standing up for our right as "persecuting" them. We just want things to be the way they SHOULD have been all along. We're finally strong enough to make our feelings known.

Of course, many of these people believe there IS no "separation of church and state." The Constitution was written to keep the government out of religion, not the other way around. They feel it's their right to interfere with government as much as they want.

I really don't care what people believe as long as they're not passing laws and forcing their beliefs on others.

I have yet to hear a valid non-religious objection to gay marriage.

Of course, a poll last year shows that atheists are the most feared group in the country. Even more than muslims or gays. All because Christians don't believe someone who doesn't have a guidebook can be a good person. Never mind that 7 of the 10 Commandments aren't Christian concepts (Code of Hammurabi anyone? I mean, don't kill? Seems a pretty idea!)

Even my mother-in-law thinks the ACLU only takes on cases that support religious expression so they can claim to be impartial. Your real purpose is to remove god in everything.

Protect us from the tyranny of the majority.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just watched the entire Rev. Yearwood video, and I think I'm going to be sick. Wasn't one of the reasons we invaded Iraq in the first place to free the people from Saddam? Aren't we *supposed* to love the people of Iraq?

It's going to be pretty damning footage when this makes it to court (if they don't realize they're in trouble before then.) All I saw was the Rev. moving forward a little more quickly than he probably should have, and then the mass of officers were on him. Sickening.

Freedom of speech, as long as you agree with the regime.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those officers were probably told to act first and think later. To be on high alert and "use their gut" to diffuse any situation quickly. The problem we face lives exactly there the gut. What people find ugly, beautiful, inappropriate, intelligent, or - in this case - threatening is skewed by racial and ethnic stereotypes, ignorance, media concoctions and misinformation.

We're human. There's always gonna be judgment required in our everyday lives and in our work. We're always gonna have to use our gut to make fast decisions.

So how do we change people's guts?

8:06 AM  

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