Monthly Archives: March 2012

Acuvue helps you see your genetically and socially engineered future…

Acuvue is the subject of today’s installment of “Who the Hell Approved This?”

So, the black kid wants to be a professional athlete (probability of this occurring is 24,550 to 1 — aim high, young man). The young woman wants a guy to like her (chances of this occurring are… fairly high, actually, unless you live in Elton John’s house. Aim low, young lady.). The white kid wants to run a business. Seems reasonable. Who hasn’t seen commercials with white men as bosses? Can’t deny reality.

The ad stirred up some controversy online.

A YouTube user posted the following: “What a disgraceful commercial! So, the girl only wants to be ‘pretty’? The white boy, the ‘boss’? The black kid, an ‘athlete’? Racist AND sexist! Buh-bye, Acuvue!”

An Acuvue representative quickly responded:

“Thanks for your comments regarding our 1-Day campaign. We wanted to take a moment to clarify our intentions. The 1-Day campaign is all about encouraging you to be confident, no matter what you do. Obviously, both glasses and contacts can give you good vision. But many people like how contact lenses make them look or how they can let them play sports or do activities where glasses can get in the way. We hope this clarifies our intentions. Thanks again for your feedback.”

Unfortunately, these carefully worded talking points didn’t satisfy everyone.

“Oh look, how creative! The African-American boy wants to be an athlete, the white boy wants to be a CEO, and the girl just wants to be desirable. Sexism AND racism, all in one 30-second shot, I’m impressed….”

The Acuvue representative took the time to address this user’s concerns, as well.

“Thanks for your comments regarding our 1-Day campaign. We wanted to take a moment to clarify our intentions. The 1-Day campaign is all about encouraging you to be confident, no matter what you do. Obviously, both glasses and contacts can give you good vision. But many people like how contact lenses make them look or how they can let them play sports or do activities where glasses can get in the way. We hope this clarifies our intentions. Thanks again for your feedback.”

Oh yeah, the rep just copies and pastes the same statement. This happened at least three times.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to contact that white kid about a job.

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Social Commentary


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George Zimmerman is “living in an NRA World”…

George Zimmerman, who claims he shot and killed the unarmed Trayvon Martin last month in self-defense, is reportedly in hiding.

He has good reason. People have recklessly published his home address, and he’s received death threats.

The New Black Panthers — I think it’s like the New Teen Titans and the new X-Men. I prefer the original Black Panthers with Aqualad — offered a $10,000 bounty for George Zimmerman’s capture. It’s unclear if that includes expenses.

Our society functions best when people trust each other to follow the rule of law. We rest more easily knowing that it’s not the Wild West. You can walk home without an untrained, wannabe cop deeming you suspicious and pursuing you. If you are believed to have killed someone, you can hire lawyers to defend you in court rather than a security team to defend you from angry villagers out of Frankenstein movie.

George Zimmerman might have enjoyed carrying a weapon with him prior to the events of February 26, but I doubt he enjoys doing so now when it might actually be necessary for his protection. No one wants to live in fear, especially when that fear might be real rather than the province of our own neuroses.

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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Social Commentary


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Now time for… “Well, That’s Creepy”…

Employers at some companies are attempting to use Facebook as the ultimate follow-up interview:

It’s become standard practice for employers and schools to peruse potential applicants’ Facebook profiles. But in some cases, they are going even further: Some have demanded applicants hand over their passwords so they can view individual’s restricted profiles.

Justin Basset is just one of those individuals. Basset was finishing up a job interview, according to the Associated Press, when he was asked to hand over his Facebook login information after the interviewer couldn’t locate his profile on the site.

Well, that’s creepy.

It’s been long understood that you have no expectation of privacy on the Internet. The belief is that anything you post online is voluntary and public knowledge. You can’t write an Op-Ed criticizing Walmart and expect that not to impact your ability to get a job at Walmart. People are often terminated for writing about their workplaces in their blogs or on Facebook.

Public perception of the Internet has changed somewhat as usage becomes more widespread. Searching for information about someone online feels less like reading old newspaper articles about someone and more like rifling through someone’s underwear drawer.

Facebook serves many purposes. There are both professional and personal pages. However, it’s ostensibly an online scrapbook, a place where people share photos of their families and vacations, make engagement announcements, and wish someone happy birthday just under the wire at 11:59 p.m.

The most benign — but still creepy — reason for seeking access to someone’s Facebook account is probably to ensure that the candidate doesn’t badmouth former employers or make devil horns when posing for photos. It’s still pointless — people have badmouthed their bosses for as long as bars have existed. The issue with the devil horns is more understandable. You can’t trust those people.

However, as someone who has interviewed and hired people, I find it astounding that anyone would ask for the password to someone’s Facebook account. Sure, employees hand over their social security cards and driver licenses on their first day at work but that’s after they’ve been hired. Facebook profiles also contain a host of information that is illegal for an interviewer to ask an applicant: age, marital status, whether you have children or plan to do so, national origin, religion, disability, and so on. You can’t conceivably claim you wish to acquire information from Facebook that isn’t by definition personal. The request for access is also direct and can’t be rationalized as a slip of the tongue (i.e. “I see you attended University of Georgia? Where you still there when they were on the quarter system?”). It’s clearly illegal.

“It’s an invasion of privacy for private employers to insist on looking at people’s private Facebook pages as a condition of employment or consideration in an application process,” said Catherine Crump, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, on the ACLU’s website. “People are entitled to their private lives.”

People might seem to live their lives more publicly online but I don’t think how they live those lives have changed all that much. Mildred in accounting performed her duties perfectly well for years before the Internet more easily allowed you to learn she was a weekend dominatrix. Nothing changed but your knowledge of her off-hours life.

“In recent months, we’ve seen a distressing increase in reports of employers or others seeking to gain inappropriate access to people’s Facebook profiles or private information,” Facebook’s (Erin) Egan said.

“This practice undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

What Egan doesn’t say is that this jeopardizes Facebook’s product. Facebook makes a fortune selling your personal information. Sanitized, employer-background-check-proof profiles that don’t list all your “likes” or any relevant demographic details are useless to them. If people don’t feel safe to “overshare” on Facebook, it eventually goes the way of Friendster.

Then employers will have to rely on information relevant to the positions for which they’re interviewing to base their hiring decisions. There’s an Aesop fable in there somewhere.

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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Capitalism, Pop Life


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Rocky Horror Obama Show…

Blogger Tara Servatius lost her job at the John Locke Foundation for this photoshopped image of Barack Obama intended to satirize his opposition to a North Carolina gay marriage ban.

Uncertain how Obama hopes to fit into outfits like this after eating a bucket of fried chicken.

Her explanation:

“I was searching for a picture of the president in drag to illustrate his southern political strategy of courting young voters, 70 percent of whom support gay marriage.”

It’s unclear whether her point is that gays or young people or both like to dress like Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

“It was one of the first photos to come up on Google Images. Regrettably, I didn’t think about the racial implications of the picture when I posted it. I simply don’t think in those terms. Unfortunately some people do.

To me, fried chicken is simply a southern cuisine.”

If Ms. Servatius cracked open a book once in a while, the history of racially charged images in this country wouldn’t be such a shock to her. She might also spare us the insult of applying the phrase “Southern strategy,” which Republicans used to woo racist Southerners from the Democratic party in the late 1960s, to a black president opposing discriminatory legislation.

Asserting a Pollyannaish world view is precious and all but it might result in the sort of cluelessness that ends up with someone working at the John Locke Foundation in the first place.

Also, KFC is theoretically Southern but practically speaking not cuisine.


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All you need to know about John Edwards…

From a 2008 interview:

Like school on Sunday… no class.



Feed Me, Kate….

Feed Me, Kate….

I was sorry to see the following link in my Facebook newsfeed:

Kate’s Joint, vegetarian restaurant and bar, has been a staple in New York City’s East Village since 1996. Solely owned and operated by neighborhood native Kate Halpern, who dreamt to create an affordable restaurant to serve the community she grew up in. Kate’s Joint has grown to become much more than just a business, it is a home for locals and travelers a like, a place to bring family and friends, and to meet new ones.

Unfortunately, with the changing neighborhood and economic recession Kate’s Joint has seen a fall in business and rise in costs. Kate is currently in arrears with the landlord. Eviction notices have been sent, court appearances have been made, and if a substantial amount of money is not raised by April 11th, the next court date, the doors will shut permanently at Kate’s Joint. The East Village will lose another neighborhood landmark.

Kate’s opened the same year I moved to Manhattan, but I didn’t have my first meal there until 1997. At the time, I lived on the outer edges of the Upper West Side with Central Park on my right and a Law & Order crime scene on my left. I ventured downtown on occasion but usually to the West Village and rarely did I cross over into Alphabet City where Kate’s resided on the corner of Fourth Street and Avenue B.

Alphabet City (Avenues A, B, C, and D) was deemed unsafe by whoever made such determinations, but that didn’t factor much into my avoidance of the area. It was a good 45 minutes away from my apartment — a journey that included two trains and an eastward trek across long avenue blocks. I preferred to wander up Broadway to The West End or Tom’s Restaurant (yeah, the place from this and this), where I mingled with the Ivy League students just a year behind me. Like Gatsby, I could claim to having “gone” there while not exactly being a “Columbia” man.

The New York Times, a bottomless cup of coffee, and the view from the front window of Kate's kept me occupied on many Sunday afternoons.

This changed when I met my friend Brooke, a pale but colorful woman from Virginia who had no fear of Alphabet City but instead saw the hipness starting to emerge from the track marks. She was always ahead of the curve. She once mentioned her friend Laurel who threw cocktail parties for New York writers and editors. We went to one of the early ones together and she introduced me to a charming woman wearing a feather boa. I think things turned out well for her.

Brooke and I were vegetarians (Brooke might still be — I am decidedly not anymore). However, neither of us were health nuts. Unfortunately, most vegetarian restaurants served dishes so bland not even the animals they spared would eat them. Kate’s Joint offered your classic comfort diner fare just without meat. The first time Brooke and I went, I ordered the Un-Turkey Club, which effectively mimicked the flavor kick of turkey and the texture of crispy bacon. We shared an order of Buffalo Un-Chicken Wings The sauce would ignite my taste buds and I’d calm them down with an ice tea.

The East Village was still gritty in the late ’90s. Apparently, there were heroin junkies in Kate’s bathroom every day. I never came across any or if I did, I probably mistook them for atmosphere. Beside, the graffiti on the restroom walls was more lucid than you’d expect from someone who was strung out.

When Brooke left New York, I continued to frequent Kate’s. I was there at least twice a week, usually more. I experimented with other items on the menu (the southern fried cutlet, for instance) but would usually return to the Un-Turkey Club. My friend and coworker Debbie (who I think is still a vegetarian) swore by the Fake Steak au Poivre. Kate’s was sometimes the start of an extended post-work evening for us in the East Village. The streets burst with the promise of exciting places to meet and interesting people to see. I put it that way because you always seemed to know the bars and clubs more intimately than you did any of the regulars. The places would always be the same when you returned but the people never were.

That’s perhaps why I remember Kate’s so well — the indie rock soundtrack, the hipster servers and patrons who never aged, the quirky fliers on the wall near the door promoting a concert or just looking for a roommate. It doesn’t take much effort for me to recall the exact wording of the graffiti on the restroom wall. I didn’t look like I belonged. I wore a tie every day, but no one seemed to mind. Maybe I was suitably alternative in my own way.

Kate’s changed somewhat over the years but its core and more importantly its food never did. It expanded to accommodate its growing customer base. My friends Lisa, Mara, and I would meet for brunch at Kate’s. The fresh-squeezed juice, tofu scramble, sweet potato hash, and the vegan french toast were unequaled. The bottomless cups of coffee that Lisa considered the best in the city would extend brunch until late afternoon. If it was winter, we’d leave along with daylight.

For several years running, I had Thanksgiving dinner at Kate’s, feasting on unturkey with stuffing, greens, mashed potatoes and yams. Then I started eating meat again. It was a post-9/11 decision. I left my office for lunch, wandered into South’s in Tribeca and ordered a hamburger. The world seemed harsher then. What had cows ever done for me? And I wasn’t going to Kate’s as much anyway.

My beloved McKate with the tastiest fries west of the East River.

You make a restaurant so much a part of your life, this is bound to happen: A woman I met a few months prior to 9/11 lived on Fifth Street and Second Avenue — strolling distance from Kate’s even in her high-heeled boots. She was not a vegetarian but enjoyed the atmosphere, the french fries, and the Karin’s Burger (sauteed spinach, portobello mushrooms, “fakin bacon” and cheese), which she always paired with a Guinness. She never strayed from the Karin’s Burger, but I would usually scan the specials for the occasional reappearance of the McKate, which was two-unbeef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese on a whole wheat sesame seed bun. I like to credit myself with persuading them to make it a permanent addition to the menu.

We stopped seeing each other two days prior to the first anniversary of 9/11. I wandered into Kate’s alone a few days later. The waiter, spotting me as I sat down, came around with an ice tea and a Guinness. “McKate and Karin’s Burger, right?”

“Just the McKate.”

I kept the Guinness. It had been a tough week.

Flea Market, a French bistro on Avenue A, began to replace Kate’s as my neighborhood hangout. True, my ex and I took advantage of the unlimited mussels and fries more than once, including on my 28th birthday that summer, but overall it offered more steak and less sentiment. It also seemed a more mature choice as I entered my 30s, a more sophisticated place to meet someone for a first date.

I dropped in at Kate’s for a handful of brunches over the next few years. One of my last Sundays in New York, I felt the urge to stop in to read the paper over a plate of Buffalo Un-Chicken Wings, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and Ms. Halpern’s incomparable coffee.

That might have been the last time. With nine days left to go, Kate’s has raised less than $2,000 of the $30,000 it needs to continue. It will be a great blow to the neighborhood if Kate’s closes. I guess our youth ends eventually but at Kate’s, I could at least still taste it.

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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Social Commentary


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As more information comes out about the Trayvon Martin case, it just gets more depressing.

(Police Chief Bill Lee Jr.), Investigator Chris Serino — the case’s lead detective — and other department managers sat down for an exclusive interview with the Orlando Sentinel today.

Lee said he is frustrated that Trayvon’s family, its lawyers and others have ripped his department for its handling of the case. He is not a racist, he said, and his officers conducted a thorough and fair investigation and did nothing underhanded or untruthful.

“The hysteria, the media circus, it’s just crazy,” Lee said. “It’s the craziest damn thing I’ve ever seen, and it’s sad. It’s sad for the city of Sanford, the police department, because I know in my heart we did a good job.”


It is unfortunate that Martin’s family can’t see past their own shock and pain over his sudden death to consider the impact on the city of Sanford and the police department.

Lee does not seem capable of expressing an iota of sympathy for Martin’s family. This is very different from the reaction from authorities in the Sean Bell incident in New York. Yes, the officers responsible were ultimately acquitted but they were put on administrative leave and the police conceded that the turn of events was regrettable.

Lee is having none of that. He’s too busy being annoyed at having his actions questioned.

The best account of what happened came from Zimmerman, Serino said. Other witnesses who saw or heard parts of what happened corroborate his version of events, the investigator said.

Zimmerman told police he got out of his SUV to follow Trayvon on foot, and the 17-year-old came toward him.

The two got into a fight, and Zimmerman wound up on the ground, he told police. Trayvon hit him in the face, and Zimmerman yelled for help.

Yes, the guy who killed a 17-year-old unarmed kid is usually capable of providing the best account of the events because he’s, you know, still alive.

Some obvious questions remain unanswered:

Zimmerman admits that he was following Martin. Isn’t it possible that Martin approached him out of concern for his own safety?

If the two got into a fight, what provoked it? Did Serino — as lead detective — speak to the victim’s family? Did he determine that Martin had a history of violence? Did he learn that Martin was easily provoked? If his family insists otherwise, doesn’t that raise questions regarding Zimmerman’s story? What did Zimmerman say to Martin? Did Martin have reason to believe Zimmerman was threatening him?

The police believing this story on its face implies to me that they believe that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — a kid who went to the store for Skittles — was capable of such violence that shooting him was the only way for Zimmerman to save his life.

I should also repeat that Zimmerman is not a police officer. Police officers have a duty to initiate contact with potential offenders. If there was a fight, it would not have occurred if Zimmerman had not followed Martin, who all evidence indicates was not engaged in any illegal activity.

Lee said he is dumbstruck by critics who demand that police simply arrest Zimmerman then let a judge and jury decide whether he acted in self-defense.

“You’re violating their civil rights if you do that,” he said.

And Zimmerman, despite all the criticism he’s faced, does have civil rights, police said.

What about the civil rights of anyone else in the community Zimmerman might later find “suspicious”? Zimmerman also has a history of stalking suspects and of police envy.

Zimmerman contacted the Sanford Police Department 46 times in the past 15 months, the agency reported today. The most frequent reason for his call – eight times – was to report a suspicious person, the agency said.

“I hold law enforcement officers in the highest regard and I hope to one day become one,” Zimmerman wrote in an application to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office citizen’s law enforcement academy. That’s a class in which citizens learn about policing and how the sheriff’s office works.

He went through that program in 2009.

… In 2003 he saw a 24-year-old Lake Mary man shoplift a 24-inch TV from an Albertson’s Supermarket, called the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and followed the suspect’s car for several blocks, allowing a deputy to make an arrest.

The next year, he followed a man in his vehicle for several blocks after accusing him of spitting at him, according to an incident report. The other driver accused Zimmerman of tailgating him, and was not arrested.

Yes, the good people of Sanford should rest easy with Zimmerman roaming the streets. I presume the police took his gun for testing, but what’s to stop him from buying another?

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Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Social Commentary


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Black Kids and Skittles: A Deadly Combination…

A life cut short.

The murder — and I’ve seen no evidence to classify it otherwise — of Trayvon Martin reinforces the very real dangers that black Americans still face.

Around 7 p.m. on February 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin walked out of the gated community near Orlando where he was visiting his father to go get some Skittles at a neighborhood convenience store. On his way home, Martin somehow aroused the suspicions of neighborhood watch leader, George Zimmerman, who called 911 to report the boy.

When police arrived, Martin was dead, shot by a bullet from Zimmerman’s 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

Zimmerman had been advised by 911 to not approach Martin and wait for the police. Zimmerman ignored this advice so what could have just been embarrassing for Martin — explaining his sinister Skittles addiction to the authorities — turned lethal.

There is no evidence of “suspicious” activity. I’m admittedly weird but I consider it more suspicious to stalk an unarmed teenager with a 9mm than to shop at a convenience store in your father’s neighborhood.

Zimmerman approached Martin without provocation or legal grounds. Martin was not in the process of committing a crime other than “arousing Zimmerman’s suspicions.” Any concern should have been abated by the 911 call. The police were on their way. Zimmerman chose to escalate the situation. Zimmerman chose to initiate the confrontation. And now Martin is dead.

Zimmerman, 28, who was bleeding from the nose and back of his head when police found him, claimed the two got in a scuffle and that he shot the boy in self-defense.

Can you really claim self-defense in a fight you started? That makes no sense. I also usually hold adults responsible for any “scuffles” they get into with teenagers. When I was 17, I was still under orders from my mother not to talk to strangers (she actually never rescinded those instructions). Doesn’t Martin have the right to be left alone? He is under no obligation to explain himself to someone who is not a police officer. If this were a 17-year-old woman Zimmerman approached, we certainly wouldn’t have expected her to stop and chat with a strange man against her wishes.

Zimmerman’s hardly life-threatening injuries could be the result of Martin’s attempts to flee. It’s also possible an altercation arose because Martin was just pissed that Zimmerman treated him like a suspect (it does get old). It bears repeating that Martin was 17 years old. Even Morgan Freeman was rash at 17. Shouldn’t we expect an adult to defuse a situation with a possibly frightened and upset kid? Or does he just become a potential threat to be neutralized once he hits puberty?

Don’t expect immediate answers to these questions because Zimmerman hasn’t been charged with anything.

Martin’s family, not surprisingly, is outraged, and calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.

“What gave him the right to think he was judge, jury and executioner?” asks Martin’s uncle, Ronald Fulton.

The answer to his question may be simple: the state of Florida, which in 2005 enacted one of the nation’s strongest so-called “stand your ground” self-defense laws. According to the statute, a person in Florida is justified in using deadly force against another if he or she “reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

I would think that the bar rises on what is a “reasonable” threat to your life when you have a gun and the best the other guy can do is make you “taste the rainbow.”

This is idiotic — so much so you’d think the NRA was involved. Oh wait.

According to the National Rifle Association – which has lobbied for and in some cases assisted in writing laws expanding self-defense statutes – since 2006, at least 29 states have passed amended self-defense laws that the gun rights advocacy group supports, including four last year. Although each state’s statute is slightly different, generally, this new crop of laws allows citizens to use deadly force on someone they reasonably believe is a threat to their life. Instead of having a so-called “duty to retreat” from perceived danger, a citizen can “stand their ground” and meet force with force. Some laws also create immunity from civil lawsuits for those found to have reasonably used deadly force.

So instead of retreating from danger like a sissy, you are legally allowed to confront danger head on like a deranged Dirty Harry or, more simply, Dirty Harry. Who needs the police or even police training as long as you have a gun and think someone is “suspicious”?  Even better — Florida is a concealed carry state. Zimmerman himself has a permit. If someone looks “suspicious” to you, the possibility that they’re packing heat can also crank your paranoia up a notch.

How is this helpful? Doesn’t enabling irrational fear promote an environment where there’s a very real fear that someone might kill you if you look at them the wrong way? Or if you just happen to look the wrong way.

…Allen County, Indiana prosecutor Karen Richards, who has prosecuted cases involving claims of self-defense, says that the new laws simply “solidify what juries were feeling anyway. If you’re in a place where you have a right to be and you have a reasonable belief you need to use deadly force, juries don’t think you need to retreat.”

Wasn’t Martin in a place “where he (had) a right to be”? If he saw that Zimmerman had a gun, wouldn’t he also have a “reasonable belief” that he had to protect himself? What if Zimmerman made it clear that retreat was not an option? We only have Zimmerman’s word for what transpired.

“In this case Mr. Zimmerman has made the statement of self-defense,” (Sanford Police Chief Bill) Lee said. “Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don’t have the grounds to arrest him.”

Probable cause? Zimmerman’s own story and actions are probable cause. He’s not a police officer. Martin didn’t fit the description of some baby-faced serial killer. That’s the problem with Urban Cowboy justice. Zimmerman had no authority to stop and hold Martin against his will. Even if a police officer had arrested Martin for no good reason, he would have recourse after the fact. He could also reasonably believe that they weren’t going to mug him or kill him.

Thus far, there is no indication that Trayvon Martin was in the commission of any sort of crime when he was approached by Zimmerman, who was reportedly driving an SUV. Still, judging by the fact that he has not been arrested and the case has been referred to the state’s attorney, law enforcement seems to be struggling to determine whether Zimmerman’s actions fall within the scope of the Florida law.

Remember 20 years ago when we got all mad because the cops who beat Rodney King like a chocolate-stuffed pinata were acquitted? Or back in 2000, when the cops who mowed down an unarmed Amadou Diallo walked? Or Sean Bell in 2006 … well, you get the idea. But those cases had trials. Lawyers. Changes of venue. If a white guy’s going to kill me, all I ask is that he has to put on a suit and take a few days off of work. After Selma and the March on Washington, I thought black men had reached a point where our deaths would at least be a mild inconvenience.

It reminds me of what Richard Wright wrote in his memoir, Black Boy. He recalled young friends of his who simply vanished. He referred to this as “the white death, the threat of which hung over every male black in the South.”

George Zimmerman shot an unarmed child. And then he went home. That bothers me more than rising gas prices.


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Alas, poor Mr. Caldwell…

When Robert J. Caldwell, Editorial Page Director at the Oregonian, died Saturday, the paper published the following article the next day:

Robert J. Caldwell, editorial page editor of The Oregonian since November 1995, died Saturday of a heart attack.

Caldwell — simply “Bob” to everyone at The Oregonian — was known all over the building for his big smile and a bigger laugh. But those close to him also knew him to have a keen mind, excellent news judgment and a heart full of compassion.

Nice, typical obituary you’d expect.

Monday, however, the paper published this update regarding the circumstances of Caldwell’s death:

Bob Caldwell, editor of The Oregonian’s editorial pages, was in the Tigard apartment of a 23-year-old woman when he went into cardiac arrest Saturday afternoon.

The woman called 9-1-1 at 4:43 p.m. to report that Caldwell, 63, was coughing and then unresponsive after a sex act. Washington County sheriff’s officers and medical personnel responded and transported him to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, where he later was pronounced dead.

I don’t understand what public interest is served by broadcasting the prurient details of Caldwell’s death — a man who Sunday’s article pointed out is survived by his wife, his three daughters, and his mother. If she’s anything like my mother, she probably saved every clipping related to him. This is a great one to put on the final page of the scrapbook.

Perhaps the Oregonian wanted to avoid the appearance of bias by only printing the uplifting obit. However, that one focused on his actual role within the company and the community. If he’d died while stealing petty cash in the newsroom, that would justify the follow-up article. But, no, he died in a private situation that had no bearing on his performance as a journalist. He wasn’t a sex columnist, and he never once wrote an editorial endorsing the cardiovascular benefits of sex with 23-year-old women.

It was necessary to correct the erroneously reported information that Caldwell “had been found in his parked car on Saturday, based on information from a family friend,” but it would’ve been sufficient to just state he died in a private residence.

The woman told deputies she met Caldwell about a year ago at Portland Community College. Caldwell, she said, knew she didn’t have much money, so he provided her cash for books and other things for school in exchange for sex acts at her apartment.

Caldwell had not given her money Saturday, she told deputies. They decided against pursuing prostitution charges. Deputies notified Caldwell’s family of his death Saturday evening.

I question the phrasing here. It makes an already shady situation (respected older man having an affair with a much younger woman) more salacious than what might actually be reality. They appear to have had a sexual relationship for about a year. They had sex. He bought her things. Was he more inclined to support her scholastic pursuits because she had sex with him? Probably. Was she more likely to have sex with a 63 year old because he was generous financially? Maybe. The line between “dirty old man” and “john” is admittedly thin, but is this even close to prostitution?

Caldwell’s widow, Lora Cuykendall, said he “would have understood why The Oregonian needed to print the story” about the circumstances of his death.

She added that he would have ‘regretted the anguish that it caused to those he loves – both outside and inside of the newspaper’.

The Oregonian had shown restraint previously when Caldwell was arrested on a DUI charge outside a Portland strip club in 2010. Although local media ran with it, the newspaper didn’t touch the story. Guess it followed Voltaire’s advice.

“The living deserve our respect. The dead deserve only the truth.”

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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Pop Life, Social Commentary


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If she’s stupid, we’re stupider…

HBO’s Game Change appears to have resuscitated the narrative of Sarah Palin as political “useful idiot” who represents John McCain’s biggest political mistake — his Faustian bargain with the right wing in order to rally a conservative base distrustful of him.

Andrew Sullivan links to a video response to her recent ludicrous accusations regarding Barack Obama. She claims that Obama wishes to take the United States back to a time when we were in “different classes based on income” and “color of skin.” She claims this dark time was “before the Civil War.” Most of us realize it was actually before breakfast.

Sullivan states that “reminding reasonable people that the current GOP actually proposed this know-nothing, delusional maniac as a potential president is essential in an amnesiac country.”

Is Palin truly insane? No, although she fits all the traits for the classic narcissist, she is rational enough to understand the impact of her words. Her continued presence is the mainstream is because she represents what is at the core of the American heart.

There are countless middle-aged white people out there who are “afraid” of Obama. And not because of anything he has or hasn’t done but because of what is feared he might do. Palin’s comments are code in the most simplistic Pig Latin for the looming threat of payback. Obama is the first step toward vengeful reparations.

It’s not true but try explaining to a small child that there’s no monster under his bed.


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