Everyday Erinyes #93

 Posted by at 12:10 am  Politics
Sep 232017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

 

Before I start on this first story, I want to rant a bit.  In our judicial systems, which mostly are hand-me-downs from British common law (Louisiana, I think has some Napoleonic influence), we generally do not consider fully acceptable witnesses, because “children lie.”  Well, yes, children do lie; some more than others; but why do they lie?  Well, we don’t let them handle guns on their own (mostly), we don’t let them have sharp objects (mostly), we may let them have boxing or self defense or martial arts lessons, but they are pretty well vastly outweighed by and less strong than adults.  We don’t let them handle large sums of money (such as one might need to hire an attorney).  What defensive weapon do they have, except lying?

However, by and large, and particularly if they are under the age of seven or eight, they tell some kinds of lies, and they don’t tell other kinds of lies.  They may tell fantasy lies (“There’s a fairy in the garden.”)  They may tell very simple lies (“I didn’t do it.” “I don’t know.” “Not me.”)  They do NOT make up possible but elaborate stories, in which cause and effect and adult motives hold together.  They may be sharp as tacks, but they do not have the experience to do that.

And that is why, in this case in Tacoma, WA, I absolutely believe the child who was burned by a firework gun in the hands of his father.  Dad says he was trying to teach the child a gun safety lesson, and there was an accident.  Son says Dad was grilling him about the whereabouts of his mother, he (son) was refusing to answer, and “He (Dad) shooted me.”

Though the story says nothing about the parents being separated or divorced and Mom having a restraining order or being in a DV shelter, why else would Dad be demanding to know where she was?  And, if not that, how could a six-year-old come up with such a circumstantial lie?  Well, at least someone on the spot believed the child.  Dad has been charged with third degree child assault.  Megaera, I hope you can keep track of this case and make sure justice is done.

 

On another news item, we probably could all rant.  In fact, we frequently do when we comment that someone, usually a Republican, seems not to grasp the Constitution.  Actually, that is throwing roses at it.  Here’s the title:

New survey shows a disturbing trend: Most Americans have no clue what is in the Constitution

The survey in question is from the Annenberg Public Policy Center.  It was conducted between August 9th to the 13th of this year.  The sample size was 1,013 adults.in the U.S.  Probably the most frightening single result was that

53 percent think that people who are here illegally do not have any rights under the Constitution. That incorrect belief is especially strong among self-identified political conservatives – 67 percent think it is accurate, compared with 48 percent of moderates and 46 percent of liberals.

Forty-six per cent of liberals?  Good heavens!

The three branches of government?  Only 26% could name all three (in 2011, 38% could).  But 33% could not identify ANY branch of government.

Well, it’s no wonder so many Americans don’t seem to grasp the Constitution.  They don’t know anything about what is in it.  It’s not really reasonable to expect people to grasp something they know nothing about.

There’s been some discussion about making voting in the U.S. compulsory, and some nations do have compulsory voting.  How do those nations handle the issue of civics education?  I think maybe we had better find out.  But we don’t need to find out every detail to realize we need to do better.  Annenberg has joined with 30 other groups to form the Civics Renewal Network to offer free, high-quaity educational materials on line.  Which is great.  But all the materials in the world cannot help if they don’t get used.

Alecto, here’s a project for you.  Come up with a coordinated, national civics education program (that’s the easy part), and then get every Federal and State legislator behind it so it can get passed and put into effect.  Oh, and don’t forget the territories.

 

In this final incident for today, the mills of justice sseem to be grinding.  At least, the perpetrators have pled no contest and been sentenced to 20 years in prison.  Probably not enough, but closer than many sentences we have been hearing about lately, especially when the victim was a child.

Rachel Jean Stevens, 29, and Kayla Ann Jones, 26, were each sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for beating the boy so severely that he suffered two strokes….

Investigators found the boy had been locked in a room and bound with duct tape over his eyes, and he told police that Stevens, his mother, and her girlfriend, Jones, had beaten him with a belt.

Police also said Stevens hit her son’s hand with a hammer and that Jones kicked him in the genitals until he bled.

As so often happens, though it beggars the imagination of normal people, there were two other children in the home who were completely physically unharmed. All three chidren are in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.  Tisiphone, maybe you could put on your Eumenides hat and give them some love and strength.

 

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 here.

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Everyday Erinyes #91

 Posted by at 9:16 am  Politics
Sep 092017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

Well, I thought I had my lead on Tuesday, when I read about a cop in Georgia who ran over a black man he thought was a suspect (he wasn’t), and then arrested him.  But Wednesday, that story got beat.  Point by point:

1.  Cop thought black man was a suspect.  Okie Jeremy Thacker knew his victims (plural) were homeless; that’s why he ran over them.

2.  Victims plural.  Three from the runover, plus another hit in the head with a pipe outside a coonvenience store.

3.  One victimm died (the cop’s victim was alive enough to arrest.)  The other three were injured.

Do I even need to say this – deplorable – is a Trump supporter?  I would say a Trump voter – but, you know, to be a voter you have to actually vote, and I don’t see any evidence that he is smart enough for that.

But it doesn’t take much in the way of brains to kill.  It dies, however, take a special kind of malice to target people who are at the lowest points in their lives to kill.

You don’t suppose his lawyer will try to pass this off as a “mercy killing”?

Tisiphone, go.  Go get him.  I can’t discuss him any more.  Thanks.

Everyone probably saw the story about a police detective in Utah who assaulted a nurse – for obeying the law instead of his illegal order.

To recap, Detective Jeff Payne violently and illegally arrested [Alex] Wubbels after she refused his demands to draw blood from a patient. With her supervisor on speakerphone backing her up, Wubbels read the hospital policy aloud and correctly did her job. An increasingly angry Payne snapped and dragged her outside, aggressively handcuffing her, all with the alleged blessing of his own supervisor.

But wait, there’s more.

The officer is now under prosecutorial investigation.  Or, I guess technically, it’s still an internal investigation, but it was at the behest of screaming prosecutors.

The University of Utah hospital where this happened has tightened up their policies.  No more officers entering through the emergency room.

“Law enforcement who come to the hospital for any reason involving patients will be required to check in to the front desk of the hospital,” said chief nursing officer Margaret Pearce of the University of Utah Hospital. “There, a hospital house supervisor will meet the officers to work through each request.”

The detective in question also ha a part time job as a paramedic.  He has been fired from that.

Now, let’s take a moment to examine why there might be more to this story. The reason nurse Alex Wubbels was refusing to allow Detective Payne to draw blood from a patient is because the patient was a victim in a fatal accident. The patient was not accused of any crimes, had not been arrested, was not conscious to give consent—but he was a victim of a deadly accident resulting from a high speed police chase.

Trying to cover the Department’s ass?  Hoping to find some reason to blame the victim?  Of course they had no way of knowing – then – that this victim was himself a police officer (off duty) from Rigby, ID.  The Rigby Police Department thanked Nurse Wubbels for protecting the rights of their officer.  “Protecting the rights of others is truly a heroic act,” the letter said.

Alecto, I hope you can get to the bottom of this, and I hope it is widely made public when determined.  There is definitely deliberate concealment involved.

[UPDATE on above story]

Child Welfare arms of government take a lot of flak, and, unfortunately, much of it is deserved.  This situation is just such a perfect storm, it is worth noting.

Carl Brewer (D) is running in Kansas to replace Governor Sam Brownback, who has been offered a post in the Trump administration (but would be term-limited in 2018 in any case.)  Brewer, a former mayor of Wichita, is one of four Democrats eyeing the Governorship.

Brewer’s son Carlo is – was – the father of Evan Brewer, who had been allowed by the Kansas Department of Children and Family Service (DCF) to live with his mother and her “boy friend,” despite four complaints.  Carlo Brewer recently contacted state officials and local police about the welfare of his son.

While the DNA evidence is still out, officials are pretty sure the body found encased in concrete in the home they were renting is that of Evan.

If you click through – if you can stand it – the diarist gives two other stories of the deaths of children who should not have had to die.

Now, even before 1980, and even in more enlightened states, it has always been difficult for child protective services to get the funding they needed to do their job.  Prennially understaffed, perennially undertrained, perennially having their hands tied, it has never been easy to work for the protection of children.  But how much more difficult would it be in Kansas, where for over six years no taxes have been collected, where the government has resorted to selling confiscated sex toys on the internet to pay the bills, and where, under Republican governance, children don’t count anyway? I think, until I find out different, I’ll reserve my anger for the mother of this poor baby, and for her boy friend.

And my deepest grief for Carl Brewer, and for Carlo Brewer.

Megaera, I have confidence that you can be a Fury to the murderers while putting on your Eumenides hat for the bereaved.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 here.

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Everyday Erinyes #80

 Posted by at 12:27 pm  Politics
Jun 242017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

I am running late today, and short-handed, since I really needed to ask Tisiphone to do a favor for a friend (who has an ex-spouse who needs to be – explained – the meaning of “restraining order.”)  But – as I point out every week – no one knows the true total number of the Furies, and I need to ask them if any of them are children.  Because what is really needed for the first situation this week is about 400 baby Eumenides, primed to comfort children who need it.

We probably all cringed this week when the murderer of Philando Castile was acquitted of all charges (He is no longer a police officer, but now, what’s to prevent him from becoming one again?), and many of us re-lived that horrible night, particularly since, with the trial over, the dashcam video was now available and shocking.  Castile’s death, happening as it did in front of his girl friend and right before the eyes of her little girl, was devastating even to those of us who follow such killings, and was covered here at Politics Plus as well in all the mainstream media.

What went under the radar then, and which I only realized this week, was that Philando Castile had in life worked as the nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill, “a small bastion of diversity, a Montessori school that draws from surrounding progressive neighborhoods.”

It was a few weeks after his death in July 2016 when Sakki Selznick learned that her daughter had been giving imaginary high-fives to Philando Castile.

Castile ― or Mr. Phil, as students at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School would call him ― often greeted students with high-fives while they waited on line to get breakfast in the cafeteria. Now that Mr. Phil was gone, Selznick’s young daughter worried she’d never get one of his famous high-fives again. One evening, she explained, she was thinking about it and she’d started high-fiving the air, hoping Mr. Phil would respond somehow.

A magical high-five didn’t arrive. Through tears, Selznick explained to her daughter that she would not be getting one. 

Ten-year old Miss Selznick is far from alone.  “395 adoring students … have spent the past year mourning Castile, a loss that was felt anew last week with the news that Yanez had been acquitted of any wrongdoing.

When the students returned to school last fall, they had been visibly changed.  The school has been doing its best to deal with the grief head on.  Teachers got special training, counselors had extended availabilty, visible memorials were created.  But  when adults cannot work through and make sense of a catastrophe. children really cannot be expected to do so.  400 or so baby Eumenides probably cannot resolve this either, but it couldn’t hurt, could it?

As one parent said, “It has been a hard year.  I don’t imagine the next year will be easier.”

Grief like this is immobilizing.  But the right is not immobilized right now.  It is invigorated.  And, while I would hesitate to call anyone on the right “intelligent,” you don’t gain as much power as they have without having something.  Call it low cunning if you will.  Shrewdness works for me.  And I am seeing a trend.  Some one, or some group, possibly not even organized, on the right, is is combining our grief and their projection to use against us.  They don’t need to immobilize us forever.  They just need to immobilize us long enough to destroy us.  From AlterNet

 You may have mocked claims about the existence of paid protesters as just another lie from the right. As it turns out, at least on this one issue, they’re actually telling the truth. The problem is, the right neglected to mention those paid protesters are part of the right-wing apparatus….  If it seemed incongruous that the “new right”—whose members have declared themselves the defenders of free speech and conservationists of Western culture—claimed to be so outraged by the recent staging of a Shakespeare play, this might explain why. And when the right talks about “paid protesters,” just assume they personally know whence they speak. 

If sending out paid protestors isn’t enough, consider how the right is complaining about left-wing violence – and using that as an excuse to knock a few heads themselves.  From Mother Jones:

“Did anybody get to bash a commie yet?” [Kyle] Chapman asked, addressing a group of “Western chauvinist” street brawlers known as the Proud Boys, who flashed “OK” hand signs as a videographer livestreamed the event for Chapman’s 34,000 Facebook followers. “Well, let me know when the time is right because I’m not going to miss out on any fun.”

Mike Cernovich, who has a lot of monty to spend on paid protesting, made it into this story too –

“These [left/right] labels are changing,” insists internet troll, vlogger, and self-proclaimed “national security reporter” Mike Cernovich, who is among the most prominent pro-Trump voices online and now works for Infowars. “Whether the liberals agree with us or not, we view the left as being the establishment now. The counterculture, the dissident thinking is now coming from the right.”

Of course where there are right wingers there will be money, and money pervades all of this activity.  Chapman is now looking to publish comic books.  Partly because:

“Marvel, DC have really let their readership down because they’ve moved so far to the left,” he told me. “They’ve gone and changed white characters to black characters. They’ve taken straight characters and made ’em gay. It’s not what people wanted. They want superheroes.”

May I digress a little bit here?  I am straight, and so white that I can’t spend more than five minutes in the sun without sunscreen.  But I can recognize a superhero when I see one – and it mostly ain’t white guys.  Anyone who is black or brown or gay or Muslim or any one of a thousand pther things these guys just can’t stand, IS a superhero.  They HAVE to be super heroes just to survive.  To not only survive but to stay positive, to stay away from hate (like the survivors at Mother Emanuel in Charleston) – these are the superest of superheroes.  Anyone who can’t see that is blind.  The blindness may or may not be deliberate.

The Nation also has an article on why political violence is necessarily on the right and of the right.  The Nation has a pretty fierce paywall, and when I see something there I might want to refer to again not in the same month, I “print” it to a pdf or an xps file to save on my computer, so as not to keep spending that same “view” over and over.  I did that with this one.

In the wake of the mass shooting in suburban Virginia last week that left House majority whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and three others wounded, conservatives have been furiously waving the bloody shirt. With LEFT-WINGHATE filling half the screen, Sean Hannity blamed Democrats, saying they “dehumanize Republicans and paint them as monsters.” Tucker Carlson claimed that “some on the hard left” support political violence because it “could lead to the dissolution of a country they despise.” Others have blamed seemingly anything even vaguely identified with liberalism for inciting the violence—from Madonna to MSNBC to Shakespeare in the Park.

This is all a truly remarkable example of projection. In the wake of the shooting, Erick Erickson wrote a piece titled, “The Violence is Only Getting Started,” as if three innocent people hadn’t been brutally murdered by white supremacists in two separate incidents in just the past month.

All of these articles are strong on what the right is in fact doing.  Unfortunately, they are weak on ideas about how to combat what the right is doing.  Because, unfortunately, just saying “Oh, they’re projecting,” is not going to work.  One either sees that or one doesn’t.  And they don’t.

But maybe Megaera and Alecto can come up with something. And, when she gets back, Tisiphone.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4059167

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Everyday Erinyes #77

 Posted by at 10:04 am  Politics
Jun 032017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

If you can stand one more thing about the Bradley Foundation, this should at least make you smile.  As you know if you have been reading for the last three weeks, the Center for Media and Democracy has been working for years to expose the (Lynde and Harry) Bradley Foundation, and this year finally released a comprehensive exposé of this shadow entity.  The site to bookmark to find the complete exposure and also specific parts of the exposure is called SourceWatch.  And this is not just for the Bradley Foundation.  The column on the left of that page will show you many other evildoers upon whom CMD has been working.

It goes without saying that the Bradley Foundation DOES NOT LOVE SourceWatch, and, if you believe that, you are half right.  In one way, the Bradley fundation does not love SourceWatch.  In another way, however, the Bradley Foundation loves SourceWatch SO MUCH that they are working on getting a website of their own up which will be modeled after SourceWatch.  To quote CMD's Lisa Graves,

Oh boy, we can [hardly] wait to see what this group of flaks, hacks, and climate change deniers will come up with, but we will be sure to let you know!  (bolding by Lisa)

While we are waiting for that site, I want to call the attention of my readers and of the Furies to an article in Truthout called "Expect More Murders: Why the Radical Right Kills."  Written by Spencer Sunshine. it draws heavily on a scholarly paper by one Chip Berlet, a long time scholar on right-wing populist movements.  The paper is called "Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence," and if that title doesn't send a chill down your spine, you may not be paying attention.  It's worth a read – yes, it's 33 pages, but 11 of those are footnoes, and the body is fairly widely spaced.

From the facts presented by both, I admit that it concerns me a bit that right-wing "heroes" actually DON'T know which villains to kill, though they sure think they do.  For instance, one target group is "Muslims," yet in real life this translates into "people they think look like Muslims," and it's obvious that two groups need not be the same.  Another target group is transgender persons.  Since most of us dress to cover our primary and sexual characteristics, and to reveal basically the secondary sexual characteristics which are consistent with our inner gender identity, I wonder.  I wonder if the 26 transgerdered people murdered in 2016 were the only people in 2016 murdered for "liiking transgender."  That's not the kind of thing that can be easily known.

Now, of course, as evidenced by the Portland killer (name not used deliberately) yelling in court, "Death to antifa!" by which he meant you and me, and anyone who is opposed to fascism, in other words every decent person, how are we ever going to know whether a killing is a right wing hate crime?  And some of us may be interested in, how are we going to defend outselves from being killed by the far right?

Let me give an example from Teen Vogue (don't laugh; Teen Vogue is developing a reputation for serious, real journalism, and I for one am grateful).  On April 30, 2017, in La Jolla, CA, a community within the city of San Diego, CA, a white male opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol at a pool party within an apartment complex.  Eight people ended up being taken to a nearby hospital, seven shot, and one who broke an arm while fleeing.  Only one was white.  One woman of color, a mother of three, died.  Witness testimony clearly stated that the witnesses perceved the shooting as racially motivated.  Yet, "San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said just one day after the shooting that there was "zero information" that race contributed to the attack."  Apparently testimony isn't "information" now.

(Unusually, the gunman did not survive the crime.  When police arrived, he was re-loading.  Apparently he pointed the gun at the police, who fired first and killed him.)

But the point of my example is, if law enforcement has difficulty seeing racial motivation in this situation, despite the colors of the victims and the testimony of the witnesses, how is law enforcement – how is anyone – ever going to determine, if a white activist is killed by one of these right-wing "heroes", that it was a hate crime?  Lincoln Blades, the author of the Teen Vogue article, ends with

In America, citizens must grapple with reality. Not only is white male terrorism as dangerous as Islamic extremism, but our collective safety rests in rooting out the source of their radicalization.

Sunshine ends his Truthout op-ed thus:

With Trump and his appointees openly circulating demonizing narratives, the genie is out of the American bottle. US presidents have limited political power, but they have an incredible ability to set the mood of the country. And the mood is ugly. We can expect more murders from hate-steeped men like [Portland killer name redacted].

Alecto and Tisiphone, I can hear you now.  "Sheesh!  It isn't enough just to go after evildoers any more?  Now you want us to be detectives too?"  Well, yes.  There really isn't anyone else.  No law enforcement under the present administration is going to do it.  Please.

Megaera, I didn't include you in that; I want you to take a little trip to Texas and have a – discussion – with a Junior High teacher there.

Lizeth Villanueva is a thirteen year old kinda brown Salvadorean American Honor Student with zero history of disciplinary problems at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Texas, near Houston.

Sure, she’s a cute kid, an honors student who’s never been anything other than a credit to her school, but still there’s still that troublesome slight excess of brownness she insists on displaying – so what could be more natural than her teachers practicing their comedic stylings by honoring her with a vicious, stupidly racist and imminently tenure endangering award?

”On Tuesday, her teacher gave her a “most likely to become a terrorist” award. It was supposed to be a joke, part of a mock end-of-the-year awards ceremony at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Tex., near Houston, where a group of teachers hand certificates to students. Lizeth, 13, said her teacher “just laughed” when she signed and handed her the certificate, just one day after the Manchester arena terrorist attack in Britain.” 

The story gets even worse from there.  The Administration is not happy – but it really isn't clear whether the unhappiness stems from the offense or from the publicity.  Just a comment from me on the stupidity here – if it isn't obvious to everyone that the most likely student to become a terrorist in any classroom in America would have to be both male and white – then when will it be?

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4056023

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Everyday Erinyes #66

 Posted by at 2:15 pm  Politics
Mar 182017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

One of the detainees released from Guantánamo by President Obama before leaving office was Abdul Zahir.  It's not clear how long he was held after the government conceded that he was not the man they had intended to arrest, another Abdul (not Zahir) who shared a nickname ("Abdul Bari") with him.  This is as if white supremacist terrorists had bombed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), not on account of public lands, but because they were under the impression that it was Black Lives Matter (BLM).

I don't want to go into everything that Zahir suffered while in Guantánamo, though it would make a column by itself – possibly two.  Rather, I want to emphasize, with the author of the linked column, that release after fourteen years of being unlawfully detained (and tortured) may be a step in the right direction – but it does not by any means constitute justice.

Moving on could be difficult for Zahir. Many former Guantánamo and CIA black site detainees continue to face mental health problems even after being released, such as depression and post-traumatic stress. That makes it difficult for them to readjust into normal society. This means true justice for Guantánamo detainees entails more than just releasing them to another country. It also must include redress for the torture inflicted upon them and the physical, mental and emotional problems resulting from that abuse.

However, true justice does not currently seem within reach for current and former Guantánamo detainees. There arecurrently 41 detainees in Guantánamo, including 26 held in indefinite detention — people whom the government does not have enough untainted evidence to prosecute but claims are too dangerous to release.

I think that the details of Abdul Zahir's suffering (though I didn't share them), as well as the sufferings of those still detained (though I don't have those details) make this a case for you, Tisiphone.  I should note also that the photo here shows protestors, NOT actual current or former detainees.

Next, I'd like to share a story from California (but which I'm sure has its counterparts all over the US and likely the world). 

In what is commonly called “pay-to-stay” or “private jail,” a constellation of small city jails — at least 26 of them in Los Angeles and Orange counties — open their doors to defendants who can afford the option. But what started out as an antidote to overcrowding has evolved into a two-tiered justice system that allows people convicted of serious crimes to buy their way into safer and more comfortable jail stays.

An analysis by the Marshall Project and the Los Angeles Times of the more than 3,500 people who served time in Southern California’s pay-to-stay programs from 2011 through 2015 found more than 160 participants who had been convicted of serious crimes including assault, robbery, domestic violence, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children and possession of child pornography.

California law allows someone convicted of a misdemeanor to serve his/her time in the county jail of the county in which convicted, with judicial discretion.  But judges are allowing the privilege to felons, and extending it past county lines, neither of which is an option specified in the law.  Perhaps what shocked me most in this story, though, is that there are cities with jails which actually ADVERTISE their services on their websites"The Pay to Stay Program assists persons interested in serving their commitments over a series of weekends, who need a program that permits them to attend work daily or who are simply searching for a less intimidating environment.  Options such as these provide the opportunity to preserve career standing, maintain family support obligations and the ability to serve a commitment in safety and with dignity."

Some people are saying, like John Eum, a detective with the LAPD, that "The whole criminal justice system is becoming more and more about: How much money do you have? Can you afford better attorneys? Can you afford to pay for a nicer place to stay?”  Others, like be, believe that this has always been the system, but it is certainly coming more and more out into the open.  Alecto, is there anything you can do?

With 65 prior Erinyes columns under my belt, plus one special edition, you may wonder just what it would take to render me speechless.  Well, wonder no more.  It is not a huge atrocity with blood and guts and explosions.  It it just so darned petty that I can't find words for it.

A ban on crayons. That’s what it came to at the visitors’ center at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas, one of three immigration detention centers that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently uses to house mothers and children who’ve been stopped seeking asylum in the United States. Six volunteer lawyers who work with detained families wrote a letter to ICE explaining why they liked to bring crayons when they met with clients: “Having children color and draw provides a distraction for children while their mothers relate incidents of trauma, violence and abuse. Other children sit outside the interview rooms and draw at the tables, so they are not forced to listen to their mothers’ harrowing narratives nor witness their mothers’ fragile emotional states during these interviews.” But ICE determined some of the children were doing “damage” to tables and walls in the visitors’ center while coloring. The crayon ban was just another blow to children already essentially being housed as prisoners by the federal government. The latest memos from the Department of Homeland Security outlining plans for enforcing the executive orders on immigration issued by President Donald Trump mean the numbers of children and mothers being detained this way (in America) will only swell.

A. ban. on. crayons.

My. God.

Megaera, could this possibly be the definition of "grudging"?

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4042940

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Everyday Erinyes #57

 Posted by at 8:08 am  Politics
Dec 312016
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

You may be familiar with the classic definition of chutzpah (insolence, impudence, gall) penned by Leo Rosten: "that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan."  I don't know whether that ever actually happened.  But I think we have a new definition, based on something which actually did happen: "that quality enshrined in a rapist who sues his victim, and the school which expelled him, for discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972."

Aaron Farrer, a 21-year-old from Lafayette, was accused of rape in September 2015 after a female student said Farrer took advantage of her drunken state. The woman showed police a text message she received from Farrer the next day apologizing for the incident. Farrer told police the woman consented to sex, and initiated the act.

So, he has just filed a Federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.  He says he was defamed.  He says he was a victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress.He says his constitutional rights were violated, and that he was not afforded due process.  He says the defendants "creat[ed] a gender biased, hostile environment against males."  Ah, me.  To the privileged, equality feels like persecution.

He says "the rape allegations against him were taken as truth from the outset."  Well, yes, when you admit and apologize to your victim in writing, and she is able to submit that as evidence, this is certainly a possibility.  It doesn't deprive you of due process.  Please explain that to him, Megaera, as only you can.

Question:  what would you do if you had adopted a dog or a cat and then decided you just didn't want it any more?  Trick question, right?  No on here would "just decide" they didn't want an animal any more after adopting it in the first place.  Or what if you just decided you didn't want your kid any more?  Really?  Would anyone do that?  Any human person?

In Halifax, PA, parents are facing multiple charges after police say three children were locked in a room, beaten and starved for three months because "they did not want them anymore."  I am not making this up.

Investigators found:

◦The six-year-old had a severe abrasion on his right eye; he said his father had thrown him across the floor as punishment, causing a severe facial injury
◦Victims told investigators that they would be locked in their bedroom at night and they could not leave the room
◦The four-year-old and five-year-old had visible signs of physical abuse; confessing to having been punched in the face
◦Victims said they would pound on the wall to get someone to take them to the bathroom, and they would urinate on themselves, on the bedroom floor, and no one would come
◦Victims said they didn't have a functioning heat source
◦Victims said the rooms were without furniture, and they would often peel paint off the walls
◦Victims said the last thing they could remember that they ate was an apple

"These were healthy kids, and while they were in their custody, these parents neglected them, starved them to such an extent they ended up the way they did," {Dauphin County District Attorney Ed] Marsico said. "We're prepared to prove they neglected these kids to such a point that they were near death."

There are things in the story which make me unsure to what extent the mother was a perp and to what extent she was a victim herself.  I cannot in conscience come down on one side or the other without more knowledge, so that's one thing I'm asking you to look into, Tisiphone.  Good luck.

So.  We've see two crimes of violence – sins of commission, as it were – and heaven knows there are more.  The guy in Las Vegas who was like, "How dare you object to me calling you a racial epithet, I'm going to beat you to death with this sign – oh, wait, my food's ready – OK, finished eating, I'll just beat you some more."  The woman who stabbed a black man in the New York subway because he offered her his seat – and he turned out to be transgender also – so she got a "twofer."  And, no, that isn't all.

But I want to turn to a sin of omission now.  WTF was this judge thinking?

TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas – An elderly Ranger man was sentenced to probation and community service after pleading guilty to multiple child sex crimes that happened at a church in Taylor County….  Wright was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

Well, sex offender registration is at least something.  But community service?  Is there anything in there that keeps him away from children? Or is he just being sent to a new happy hunting ground?

Okay, maybe prison is not the right place, but dammit, kids need to be protected, and if the church won't do it – and apparently it won't – the state needs to do it.  As one person commenting said"I can't belive, that we don't put child molesters in jail, they harm children, but we put drug addicts in jail for harming themselves. Just don't make sense to me."  Me neither, honey.  Alecto, I hope you'll keep an eye on him.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4028948

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