Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Friday, May 23, 2003  

Ch- Ch- Changes

America's idols sing

Those of us who hang out in the blogosphere tend to be more politicized than most folks. The recent statistics from American Idol remind me just how much so.

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Alabama powerhouse Ruben Studdard, dubbed the "Velvet Teddy Bear," was crowned the new "American Idol" Wednesday in a cliff-hanging end to a televised search for the nation's next instant pop star.

Studdard beat North Carolina student Clay Aiken, who underwent a transformation from bespectacled geek to lanky heartthrob.

The two faced off in a finale of three songs each Tuesday night that sent 24 million Americans to their phones to vote for the winner.

Organizers said a total of some 250 million votes were received over the past four months, more than double those phoned in last year.

The last presidential election attracted only quadruple that number of voters. Think about it. For every person who voted in the contest, only three additional participated in one of the most hotly contested political races in history.

•Deconstruction: The rescue of Pfc. Lynch

Barry at Bloggy confirms my ongoing suspicions about the 'rescue' of Pfc. Jessica Lynch. You may recall some bloggers' doubts about the incident began early. The Toronto Star was the first news medium to expose the nature of the 'rescue' -- from a hospital where Lynch was being well-treated. Now, The Guardian opens our eyes.

The dramatic rescue of Private Jessica Lynch was just that -- a staged drama. We're not likely to see this story in the American media except for certain outlets like Salon -- see their coverage. I'm getting my information from a story in the Guardian. Note the paragraph I put in bold [italics here]. They used blanks while staging the rescue for their cameras.

"It was like a Hollywood film. They cried, 'Go, go, go', with guns and blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show - an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting, breaking down doors." All the time with the camera rolling. The Americans took no chances, restraining doctors and a patient who was handcuffed to a bed frame."

I am pleased Pfc. Lynch survived being a prisoner-of-war with no injuries except those she received in an automobile accident. It is the effort to convert her into Helen of Troy and the vilification of what may be fine Iraqi medical professionals I object to. Too often, we allow societal agenda setters to invent heroes and villians for us. Let's not let them do so this time.

•From hero to zero?

In other war-related news, Trish Wilson reports the leader of the invasion of Iraq is leaving the Army, though it seems to me that a successful 'war' should be a feather in his cap. Perhaps the difficulty has something to do with the 'war' at issue resembling a boxing match between Stevie Wonder and Mike Tyson.

One reason Franks is retiring could be that he is facing war crimes charges. Claims against [General Tommy] Franks include "a failure of U.S. troops to prevent the looting of hospitals after the Saddam's fall and the alleged U.S. bombing of a crowded market in Baghdad, which Iraqi officials claimed killed more than 60 people."

I don't believe Franks is all that marketable to the general public. As the details of the Iraqi invasion leak out and the occupation goes from bad to worse, the illusion of a heroic war is going to fade. I believe that is already starting to happen.

•Change and Social Security

What are the real reasons the Bush adminstration wants to change Social Security? Gary Denton of the Easter Lemming cites an article in Harper's that chronicles the development of the threshold income maintenance program and why much of the Right opposes it.

. . .Even before September 11 the plan seemed spectacularly divorced from reality: In July, when the President's handpicked Commission to Strengthen Social Security issued its preliminary pro-privatization report, the country had just lived through a catastrophic plunge in one of its two major stock-market indices, its newspaper columnists were calling for the heads of the Wall Street celebrities whose acrobatics they had cheered only a short time before, and practically every day brought word of the failure or bankruptcy or 90 percent decline in revenue of some former "New Economy" favorite. Nonetheless, that was the time the commission chose to clear its throat, raise its solemn bipartisan voice, and declare that what the nation was suffering from was a "crisis of confidence" in its Social Security system, a program it characterized as a relic of a benighted age when people doubted markets . . . and that just might run into problems some thirty-seven years in the future.

And, no, you don't have to buy the magazine to read this important article. It is online. Harper's has finally gotten with the Web. I remember when it refused to publish any content to the Internet at all.

posted by J. | 9:35 AM

A sunny day

Summer has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Today is expected to be the warmest day this year with a high in the 80s. It is also a sunny day for Silver Rights. For the first time, this blog has reached 100 in The Truth Laid Bear's ecosystem details. Today, it lists 103 details, based on permanent and temporary links. I wish to thank all the blog readers, and the other bloggers, who helped make this sunny day possible.

posted by J. | 8:53 AM

Thursday, May 22, 2003  

Controversial teacher quits

Brian Emanuels, the teacher who imagined himself God's gift to the colored children of Seattle, and proved his wisdom by referring to one of them as a 'nigger,' has resigned.

SEATTLE -- A high school teacher suspended after using a racial slur in a conversation with a black student received a written reprimand from the local school district on Thursday, then announced he would quit his job.

After investigating the matter, Seattle Public Schools officials concluded Brian Emanuels did not mean to convey disrespect or intolerance but called his remarks "inappropriate and unprofessional."

I disagree with the school district officials' claim Emanuels meant well for reasons I've stated before, including in the entry directly below. However, they will likely need a defense if the parents of the two students Emanuels argued with sue them, so I understand their attempt to play the incident down.

Ronn of A Burst of Light believed Emanuels should walk the plank.

Just as Big Mama advises, "Common sense ain't common!" There can be no comparison between "gay" as a mild put down and the use of "nigger" in any instance. The former is barely a slight and is almost never used to demean and/or intimidate. The latter is used to put Blacks in their place. This imbecile's second usage is most definitely a classic example. Even if he wanted to point out the improper usage, he should have done so without calling the student a nigger, and the thought of using it in front of the class was brainless.

Ronn and I are both influenced by the fight Emanuels almost got himself into as well as the double use of the word 'nigger.'

I can't say the man's behavior improved after he was called to account. In his resignation letter, Emanuels again casts himself as the white savior conferring his wisdom upon unenlightened dusky people. Like Trent Lott, he suggests the people he offended are the ones with a problem of comprehension, not himself.

"I hope that we can all learn from this experience about ways to treat one another with greater civility and respect," he went on to say. "That's the point I was trying to make, and I apologize to those who were offended by how I went about it."

I am glad Emanuels resigned. The letter of reprimand would have been removed from his record at the end of the school year. That definitely would not have been sufficient punishment.

I consider it reprehensible that no one in the school system, including the school's principal, took any action in regard to the incident until the NAACP embarassed them into doing so.

I have every confidence that Emanuels can be replaced by someone of equal qualifications who would never make the mistake he did. And, who considers himself or herself just another human being, not Albert Schweitzer among the natives.

posted by J. | 11:07 PM

Wednesday, May 21, 2003  

Brian Emanuels: Not remotely a hero

Before discussing specific responses to the Brian Emanuels controversy, which should be more controversial in my opinion, I want to offer a preface. First, the situation is about more than the use of a word. I have heard people say the controversy over some Southern states insisting on flying the Confederate flags they adopted between 1955 and 1965 is just much ado about nothing because a flag is merely a piece of cloth. If only that were true. Anyone who has studied Southern history, even Southern current affairs, knows the Confederate flag symbolizes a continuing opposition to political, economic and social rights for African-Americans. The word 'nigger' represents the same thing.

Next, some commentators keep referring to Brian Emanuels' "good intentions." They are entitled to their opinion. But, I don't believe for a moment he had purely good intentions in regard to the students. But, they will say, he says he did. 'So?' I respond, 'what makes his words sacrosanct?' Looking at the situation, not taking Emanuels' words to heart because he is a 'nice, white guy' or as Eric Alterman might say, ' a gentleman,' I see a person who became a teacher at a predominantly minority school for his own ego gratification. He wasn't allowed to get into it at length during his press conference, but apparently has what I call an Alfred Schweitzer complex going on. By that, I mean a desire to help the dusky of the Earth, or at least at one high school in Seattle, while considering them his inferiors. Dr. Schweitzer definitely helped his patients in Africa, but he did so while considering them genetically inferior and himself their white savior.

And, third, the effort to shift the blame to the young students in some way is sickening, and on some people's behalf, including Stefan Sharkansky's and Joanne Jacobs,' further evidence of their own racism. But for the students being African-American, and many folks assuming therefore that they must be wrong and Emanuels' right, this would not be occurring.

Frank of I Protest. is direct and succinct in his analysis of the situation.

J. at Silver Rights points out a story about a Seattle high school teacher who repeatedly called one of his students a "nigger." This was in response to that student referring to an assignment as "gay." Can you say "disproportionate response?" Even I, who am not around adolescents at all, know that a teenager calling something "gay" is hardly worth consideration, much less punishment. That this moron thought that using the offensive, racist term "nigger" was an appropriate response just proves beyond any possible doubt that he has no business in a classroom. Any classroom. "

That blogger is like a good criminal lawyer. He cuts through the surrounding issues to get to the one that is most important.

Cue The Duke of Earl. The crafty Prometheus 6 is no more fooled by Brian Emanuels' excuse making than I am, describing the hero to Gene Expressors everywhere as, "that brilliant teacher that called the kid "nigger" twice to teach him not to use "gay" as a synonym for "uncool."

But I digress. Point is, what the teacher did wasn't teaching, it wasn't even justice. It was revenge, and it sets a bad precident. I'm not as hype about it as J. is, but the proper way to handle it would be to create real repercussions for such language. If I were the teacher, I'd have announced that such disparaging language isn't tolerated by the school district and even less by myself. Therefore, we have a new policy in this class. Anyone who uses such terminology (and you little knotheads know what I'm talking about, so don't get funny and ask for a list) you get penalized. One point off your average this grading period the first time you do it. Two points off the second time. Three points off the third, and so on. In MY class, you can fail by being stupid, or by being ignorant.

Knowlege is the key. Justice is the goal. You may quote me on that.

Earl hasn't told me what he has been up to all these years, but it sounds like he might know a thing or two about teaching to me.

One of the few non-liberals on my blogroll, Rick Heller of Smart Genes, is willing to give Emanuels a break I'm not.

From the report, the teacher used the word twice. In the first usage, the teacher was referring to the epithet in quotes so to speak, not actually using it. In the second case, he clearly used it as an epithet, even if sarcastically. He was provoked, but still, he lost control. Some sanction is appropriate.

Were I in class when a teacher said to a disruptive student, "I guess the Jew can come back in," I would be disturbed. My parents would probably want him fired. So, unlike Sharkblog, I don't blame the NAACP for taking that position. Still, I don't care for this atmosphere of zero tolerance, where the ultimate sanction is applied for first offences. A suspension is in order. If he loses it again, then he doesn't have the proper temperment to be a teacher, and should be fired.

You know what Brian Emanuels could do to earn some grudging respect from me? Resign. Then, people would not have to wait around for the other shoe to drop. Which I suspect will happen. The students Emanuels argued with did not set out to provoke him. However, now that his weakness is known, some others will. Why doesn't he save us the headline: "Teacher in fistfight says niggers don't know how to behave"?

Joel a commenter at Alas, A Blog, which tends to attract some of the weirdest people I've encountered on the Internet, says I don't know what I am talking about. And, furthermore, according to him, I'm the bigot.

"Gay" means "effeminate pansy" in the current adolescent sense, not "uncool" in everyone's dictionary except the idiosyncratic one that you invented for the purpose of your post. You're acting the de facto apologist for gay-bashing, because the boy happened to be African American.

I'm not buying the product you're selling. It would help all who fight prejudice more if you wouldn't try to find excuses for people you happen to like.

Where does Barry find nuts like Joel?

Ampersand himself is more reasonable, agreeing that something is awry with Emanuels, not African-Americans who object to the use of the word 'nigger.'

Does it seem unfair that a well-meaning teacher faces punishment, and might even lose his job? Consider this: teachers can - and should - be fired and hired based on many things in addition to their intentions. Let's continue assuming that Emanuels meant well: What does it say about his competence and judgment as a teacher, that he called a black student "nigger"? I'd say that's a demonstration of stunning incompetence; and there's nothing wrong with disciplining incompetent teachers, regardless of their alleged good intentions.

I do agree, of course, that using "gay" in a derogatory way is homophobic, and teachers should speak out against it. So I'll give Emanuels points for that. But I think it's possible to teach that lesson without calling black students "nigger"; if Mr. Emanuels does lose his job, perhaps he'll be replaced by someone who can teach against homophobia more competently.

The blogger who best sums up what has been a week of racism fatigue for me is Fred of Rantavation. Fred understands why the Stefan Sharkanskys and Joanne Jacobs of the blogosphere are defending Brian Emanuels and deeming him heroic.

Now we have, on a national stage, it seems, a perfectly fine argument about what constitutes slurring and/or hate-speech. The hatists/race-mongers (or the 'get over it' crowd) hold up actions like Emanuels' as commendible, because it shows that "everyone [meaning people of color] can be a racist/hatist and we have to show them that they're talking out of both sides of their mouths." A perfect, unwitting, and unfortunate soapbox for them to jump on.

Fred, who is that default identity for the 'Net, a white guy, as far as I know, understands how the incidents of racism relate back to slavery. Give his entry a very thorough read.

I'm particularly tired of racists and their output because of recent occurences on the national, regional and local level. The Right's rush to use plagiarist Jayson Blair as the representative of affirmative action, Brian Emanuels' offensiveness. and the refusal to indict the policeman who shot young Kendra James, all remind me that as much as some of us want to go forward in regard to race relations, there are others who are determined to maintain white supremacy at any cost.

I'm still receiving responses to the Emanuels' incident on blogs and via email, so we may return to it.

On other channels

•Are we, mostly Democrats, suffering from a malady and in need of a cure? Editorial writer E.J. Dionne, thinks so.

•I've read entries at Burningbird's blog in which she says she gets grief whenever she mentions gender discrimination in the internet technology field, including being shut out of male-dominated conversations. CalPundit Kevin Drum reports Bb's observations match his.

•Have you noticed conservatives have difficulty blaming George W. Bush for anything? Brad DeLong chides Virginia Postrel for improper blame allocation in regard to housekeeping aspects of Bush's tax cut. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but he isn't occupying the White House.

Christie Whitman will not be hanging out with Boy George anymore. Yes, she is resigning as head of the Environmental Protection Agency for the Bush administration. The blogger at Sugar, Mr. Poon, gives her props for at least trying to make the agency about environmental protection. I believe Whitman's annoucement raises interesting questions about people who compromise their ethics to get ahead. (Ari Fleischer's resignation didn't because he doesn't have any ethics.) I think I feel a new blog entry coming on.

posted by J. | 8:45 AM

Tuesday, May 20, 2003  

Around the world

•South Africa ahead of U.S.

Jonathan of the Head Heeb (slur pre-approved) makes an interesting observation about legal recognition of homosexuals as a protected class in South Africa.

South Africa has to some extent run counter to the trend. Unlike other southern African countries, its post-apartheid constitution explicitly prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, and the constitutional court has interpreted this clause to provide broad protection against criminalization of homosexual activity. Although social prejudice remains, the South African government has refrained from the sort of public incitement that has characterized the neighboring nations.

The U.S. Constitution offers no protection to homosexuals qua homosexuals. That is unlikely to change in the forseeable future. Even if SCOTUS rules the gay sex in Lawrence v. Texas is protected activity, that will be on privacy grounds, not a recognition of gay folks as a group with a history of discrimination.

•Trouble starts at home

The blogger at 404 -- War-related Stories Not Found makes a good case for linkage between American human rights abuses domestically and internationally.

Human rights: OK, it's not directly war-related, but (a) the US has been violating the Geneva Conventions, both during the Iraq war and at Guantanamo, (b) the US's accusations that Saddam was a human rights abuser would have been taken far more seriously if the US applied that criticism equally around the world and (c) the US will continue to create enemies by supporting regimes that abuse human rights like Uzbekistan and Indonesia.

There is going to be more of this hypocrisy as the trials of accused terrorists, American and foreign, get underway. Fortunately, the recent terrorism inside Saudi Arabia has more Americans asking why the U.S. is so blind to the records of some regimes that support terrorism while taking a zero tolerance position in regard to lesser threats such as Iraq and Iran. 404 has an insightful entry. Read the whole thing.

•Benito dials in

Benito of Bulletproof Vest (not to be confused with Benito of the Wily Filipino) is back in Manila. Says he is adapting to the differences between that city and Philadelphia, but not without some whining.

I've been back only 5 days, and I'm already whining about several things repeatedly.

1. The heat: oppressive. You feel like a lasagna noodle.

2. My DSL connection. Well, I did have it disconnected, and now, it's to be reconnected. They're waiving my reconnection fee (nice) and giving me a month free (nicer), but they say it will take them 2 to 3 weeks to have the service up. I thought that all it would take was to throw the switch back on again, but it seems that, like every other company here in Manila, they have their own versions of red tape. So, now, I'm on dialup from home.

3. The water: I know you can't drink the tap, but even the Brita-ed water is thicker and harder tasting than the water I got used to drinking in Philadelphia. I'm sure the Philly water is worse, but it sure tasted better.

Read the rest of Benito's entry to find out what other adjustments he is making. Read his brother's entry to find out why they are both named Benito.

posted by J. | 5:58 PM

Racist teacher praised and rebuked

My entry about Stefan Sharkansky's hero worship of Brian Emanuels elicited interest and several emails very quickly. One blogger has already expressed her opinion about the conflict.

Vanessa at Plucky Punk's Happy Land, who is young enough to have a better memory of high school than I do, says I am not all wet when it comes to analyzing the situation of Emanuels, the teacher who calls children 'nigger,' but should have given more thought to the current usage of 'gay.' She asserts the teacher could have corrected the student about his use of the word 'gay' without behaving much worse than the student himself.

Personally, I disagree with [J's] assesment that in this situation the word "gay" is not a slur. I detest the fact that the word "gay" has become a slang term that means "sucks". Every time I catch my little sister saying it, I call her on it, and she now calls her friends on it, too. In that context I think that term is actually an epithet. If I were a teacher, and I heard one of my students say that, I would call them on it, too.

However, I would definitely not use that "n-word" in doing so. And I feel the teacher's motives were especially revealed when he said "I guess the n--- can come in now". "How would you like it if someone called you a n-----" might be explainable (but still stupid) given what the student was saying, but the second time the teacher uses "the word" he showed nothing but contempt for the student in front of the entire class. This teacher, I feel, is stupid and bad with teenagers at best and racist at worst. Either way he shouldn't be a teacher.

Three letter writers have agreed with Vanessa that the use of the word 'gay' was a slur. I understand that. As I told them, I agree it is meant as uncomplimentary, but don't know if any group has a right to not be called uncool. I had to take issue with a couple of young gay men who actually approved of the teacher calling the student a 'nigger,' I think on the grounds of oneupmanship. One does not improve the status of one's own minority group by putting other minority groups down. Instead, one unwittingly gives bigotry the stamp of approval. The major impact those letters had was to remind me that racism is reported to be a major problem in the gay community. Another letter writer analyzed the matter in a way I agree with. Steven wrote:

Your post on the revolting incident in Seattle was, as always, wonderfully intelligent and snappy. But I strongly object to your paragraph beginning "Obviously to anyone other than a racist simpleton..." Obviously the high-school usage of "gay" to mean uncool isn't even in the same universe as using "n-----" in any context at all, but it is a slur.

The *reason* "gay" has come to mean uncool is its designation of homosexuality. You're absolutely right that "gay" is the preferred term for most queer-identified people--or at least queer-identified men--in this country. That doesn't alter the fact that high school students' using "gay" as a pejorative term continues to assault the self esteem of gay teenagers, who continue to commit suicide at much higher rates than straight teens. I absolutely agree with you that Emanuels must be dealt with and that firing him would be appropriate. And I agree that using "n-----" is infinitely worse than using "gay" to mean uncool. In this incident the racism trumps the homophobia, but it doesn't make the latter go away. Surely anti-racist commitment doesn't require covering up or denying homophobia as well?

Thanks for your terrific blog.

I believe I did give insufficient weight to the usage of 'gay' as a slam by teenagers.

However, I have not changed my mind about Emanuels. He is not a person who should be teaching children of any color, gender or sexual preference. I believe his presence will likely to do more harm than good if he is allowed to remain. Surely there are many people from the high tech sector in Seattle who could take his place and don't have the problem with racism he does.

Another aspect of Emanuels' attitude I find offensive is very clear in the follow-up article in the Seattle Times. He is totally dismissive of the opinions of people of color in the interview he imagines is an apology. What the children and their parents' think, as well as the NAACP's opinion, is just brushed away, as if it isn't worth considering. Only what he wants as a white, middle-class male, matters. I would be hard put to come up with a better example of someone who believes in white privilege. Stefan Sharkansky, the conservative blogger who deems Emanuels a hero, is equally indifferent to African-Americans as people. (Though, considering he is a Gene Expression participant, he way consider those of African descent a non-human species, in keeping with the views of J. Phillip Rushton and other 'scientific' racists Gene Expressors worship.)

An additional revelation in the Times story is that the incident was much more disruptive than first reported. Emanuels came close to exchanging blows with another one of the students in the class after calling the first boy a 'nigger' the second time. It is beyond me why his dismissal is even being debated.

I have sought the opinions of some people more familiar with gay issues than I am in regard to this episode. We will revisit it after I hear from them.

posted by J. | 1:24 AM

Monday, May 19, 2003  

Threat from gun industry growing:

Part III: Legal mmunity for the gun industry

Bill Press at the Nashville City Paper has been thinking about a business we've discussed before, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply. Bull's Eye is the gun dealer with a long history of 'lost' weapons that provided the alleged D.C.-area snipers with their murder weapon.

Everybody agrees that the gun dealer, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Wash., should be held responsible. The owners of Bull's Eye admit they didn't realize the Bushmaster assault rifle used by the snipers was missing from their inventory until after police arrested the suspects and traced the gun to their store.

But Bushmaster, the gun manufacturer, is also in the wrong. It certainly bears responsibility for failing to require its dealers, like Bull's Eye, to keep track of their inventory. It's also responsible for putting a killer weapon into the hands of criminals.

Press is thinking about the topic anew after interviewing a survivor of a victim of the snipers. She is joining at least two other survivors in suing Bull's Eye.

(CNN) -- Relatives of two men killed during the series of sniper killings in the Washington, D.C. area filed suit Thursday against the gun dealer and manufacturer of the rifle used in the attacks.

The plaintiffs are the relatives of James Buchanan, Jr. -- a 39-year-old landscaper killed October 3, 2002 -- and Conrad Johnson, a 35-year-old bus driver and father of two killed October 22, 2002. Both men were killed in Montgomery County, Maryland, during the string of shootings that left 10 people dead and three wounded.

...The suit states that "Bull's Eye ran its gun store in such a grossly negligent manner that dozens of its guns routinely 'disappeared' from its store, and it kept such shoddy records that it could not even account for the Bushmaster assault rifle when asked by federal agents for records of sale for the weapon. At least 238 guns 'disappeared' from Bull's Eye in the last three years alone."

The survivor Press interviewed is Denise Johnson, the widow of Conrad Johnson, a bus driver and the last of the victims killed.

Victor at Balasubramania's Mania has kept the sorry record of Bull's Eye in the spotlight. It is a problem-plagued business that has 'lost' hundreds of weapons for years under its current name and a previous one. Victor brings our attention to an article in the Seattle Times that chronicles Bull's Eye's record of incompetence.

The article catalogues Bull's Eye and its proprietor Brian Borglet's dismal record of record keeping and compliance with regulations (some staggering facts):

1. guns sold by Bull's Eye (b/w 97-2001) were involved in 52 crimes;

2. Bull's Eye could not account for 238 guns or confirm whether the purchasers (if there were any) underwent background checks; and

3. between 1997 and 200, it sold 663 guns to 265 buyers.

In addition, Borglet is a longterm tax cheat.

Will Bull's Eye and other gun dealers like it be stopped? The answer is 'no' if the gun industry and its allies get their way.

Now, I admit, whether or not Mrs. Johnson has a valid case is debatable. But that issue is best decided by the courts, and not by some special act of Congress. Yet that's exactly what's about to happen. Congress is poised to enact legislation, S. 659, giving gun makers immunity from all civil law suits.

If this legislation passes and is signed by George W. Bush, Denise Johnson and other victims of gun violence will be unable to hold Brian Borgelt and other gun dealers responsible for their malfeasance. That outcome is clearly unfair, so why are Congress members listening to those who support it?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, sponsor of the gun-immunity legislation, is nothing but a public relations front for gun makers. Over the last five years, the nation's biggest gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson and Remington, have chipped in $100 million to sponsor ads pressuring members of Congress to vote their way. Gun groups have also lined members' pockets with millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

So there you have it: the latest example of your tax dollars at work. Federal law will soon strip Denise Johnson and other gun widows from their constitutional right to sue ? because the gun lobby has bought the U.S. Congress ? lock, stock and barrel.

The Right Wing blogger at Little Tiny Lies is clueless. In an entry titled "Greedy Sniper Victim Families Eager to Cash In; Filing Suit Against Bushmaster Manufacturer," he proves himself a fool.

But what about Bushmaster? The families of the victims expect them to monitor the professionalism of every retailer that buys their products. Is this really a duty we want to create? RETROACTIVELY?

Look at it this way. Cars kill WAY more people than guns. And I promise you, a huge percentage of car buyers are identifiable as dangerous idiots who have no business driving anything bigger than a tricycle. The insurance companies have records. The courts have records. The departments of transportation have records. There's no reason we couldn't have background checks for car buyers, and keeping bad drivers from owning cars would unquestionably push fatality statistics downward.

The difference between cars and guns is obvious to anyone but an imbecile. Cars serve a legitimate, usually safe purpose -- transportation. Guns are inherently dangerous mechanisms used to maim or kill. They should be distributed with caution.

Press' analysis is accurate. The only way to stop this impending doom for the thousands of Americans impacted by gun violence every year is to let our legislators know we favor Denise Johnson over Brian Borgelt. I've written my Congressmen. I urge you to write yours.

posted by J. | 6:55 PM

Sunday, May 18, 2003  

A bigot's opinion:
Okay for teacher to call student a 'nigger'

Bigot and Gene Expression participant Stefan Sharkansky has further confirmed his reputation, applauding a teacher who called an African-American student a 'nigger.' Twice.

A teacher at Cleveland High School in Seattle was suspended with pay after reportedly referring to an African American student as a "n- - - - -" in front of his classmates.

The incident happened during a computer class May 2. Several sources say the teacher became upset when a sophomore called an assignment "gay," sometimes used as a general derogatory term. The teacher, a white male, reportedly called the teen out into the hall and asked him how he'd like to be called a "n- - - - -."

Brenda Little, deputy general counsel for Seattle Public Schools, said the teacher then walked back into the classroom with the boy, saying to the class, " 'Well, I guess the n- - - - - can come back in.'

"He's not denying he said that," Little said.

What a great way for an instructor to let his students know he holds many of them in contempt because of the color of their skin. (Anyone who thinks the slur was directed at a single student is clueless. The entire environment is impacted by such behavior.) The teacher, identified as Brian Emanuels, should be fired without further ado. In addition, the child's parents should take legal action against the school district for having hired such an unqualified person in the first place. And, the teachers' union should thoroughly repudiate Emanuels.

Sharkansky's efforts to turn slobber into sugar are pathetic. Observe him try to transform his fellow racist into a hero and the NAACP into villians.

The full story is that the student in question was using the word "gay" in a derogatory context and the teacher was trying to make the point that using "gay" as a slur is as offensive as using the N-word as a slur. The teacher, Brian Emanuels, is a former Microsoft technology manager who recently made a career change to teach computer skills in a public high school with a population of disadvantaged minority students.

By all indications, Emanuels' use of the N-word was not meant to harass anybody, but was merely a clumsy attempt to teach a lesson in tolerance. He has expressed regret for making the remark. Still, the local NAACP has demanded that Emanuels be fired for violating the school district's anti-harassment policy.

Obvously, to anyone other than a racist simpleton like Sharkansky, 'gay' is not a slur. In fact, it is the preferred usage for referring to homosexuals at this time in history. Furthermore, in teen lingo, 'gay' means unhip or uncool. The use of the word 'nigger' is altogether indefensible -- except to Sharkansky and his wee circle of misfits.

Fellow traveler Joanne Jacobs effusively supports Sharkansky's racism.

Black students suffer greatly when their teachers let them get away with bad language, bad behavior and second-rate academic work. That's the real racism. A teacher who tells a kid to think before he uses an epithet is not the problem; he's the solution. I don't believe the NAACP folks are too stupid to know this. But they seemed trapped in the past, unable to focus on the real issues that are crippling black students' progress. It's not about the n-word. It's about low standards for black students.

Posted by: Joanne Jacobs on May 16, 2003 12:29 PM

Notice the complete absence of any criticism of Emanuels in Jacobs' response. And, it seems to me it was Emanuels revealing the low standards of some white people by showing his arse here. Amazing how that completely escapes her notice, isn't it?

NAACP spokeswoman Phyllis Beaumonte explains the degree of harm behavior like Emanuels' causes.

"That not only affects the student's self-esteem, it affects how they function in a classroom," she said. "It also affects the whole atmosphere in the school when teachers are allowed to use that term in front of other students. It gives them the feeling that if the teacher can use it, then anybody can."

I suspect Sharkansky is an 'anybody' who calls people 'niggers.'

The Seattle Times reports the teacher is not apt to be terminated.

It's unlikely that a Cleveland High School teacher accused of using a racial slur in a classroom two weeks ago will be fired for his comments. Instead, first-year teacher Brian Emanuels will likely receive a verbal warning or another lower-level disciplinary action because it is his first offense, said the Seattle School District's deputy general counsel, Brenda Little-Latham.

That is not sufficient punishment for the offense. I hope Seattle activists will bring their weight to bear in this episode. Nothing is more important than creating school environments in which students, including minority students, can learn. Keeping Emanuels on will signal the Seattle school system is not serious about eliminating racism.

Welcome Ed Sebesta to the blogroll

One of the most prolific bigotry patrollers online is Edward Sebesta of the Temple of Democracy. I have added Ed's blog, Neo, to the blogroll. Visit him for information about the neo-Confederate movement and other hate groups. He is an invaluable resource.

Pusillanimous Pickering returns

Bigot Judge Charles Pickering was gone from our attention for a while, but the Bush administration will not let us forget him. It plans to renominate Pickering for a higher judicial appointment. There are glaring reasons why this man should not become a judge for the Fifth Circuit, which hears many cases involving discrimination. Read them at Mac-a-ro-nies.

posted by J. | 9:17 PM