Heavy Hearted

Yesterday as I was coming home from work I heard news briefs about five topics in the matter a few minutes that really made me heavy hearted for the rest of the trip home. We are living in a very interesting time in history right now.

Botched Execution in Oklahoma


I don’t believe in using the death penalty. I do not believe it is a deterrent for crime, nor do I believe that it balances out any injustices committed by a criminal. America is split down the middle about it. 50% of Americans support the death penalty. (Obviously, 50% therefore are not in support of it). In states that practice capital punishment, however, it makes a lot of sense to have transparency on the drugs being used to kill someone. If we are desiring to use lethal injection as a means to be as civil and humane as possible when killing someone (something that is not civil, nor humane IMO), then you’d think that we’d also want to make sure that the drugs (poison) being used should be administered in a way that reflects that supposed desire. It has not been that simple.

Ironically, the same groups of people who are incredibly (and rightfully) angry about this situation are the same groups that have made it hard for state’s to have access to the drugs (poison) that are used for lethal injections. States have been having to figure out other ways of getting access to drugs to use, leading to highly secretive sources and basically experimental death cocktails. In this case, the drugs didn’t have their intended impact. What has happened in Oklahoma is exactly what the anti-death penalty groups have been saying could happen if states decided to use drugs (poison) in ways that have not been confirmed as actually being able ot be  “humanely” administered and successfully lethal.

The guy was even talking before he died of an alleged heart attack. Yikes.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/30/308278139/botched-oklahoma-execution-prompts-questions-about-procedure

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/opinion/state-sponsored-horror-in-oklahoma.html?ref=opinion

Donald Sterling


I don’t have much to add to anything anyone else has, but I’ll right just a few thoughts down about this whole fiasco. Did Donald Sterling deserve to be booted for life from the NBA? Yes. Should it have happened years ago? Yes. Is it right that he got fined the league maximum $2.5 million, and banned for life because some horrible comments made in private to his girlfriend/mistriss? Maybe – but I’m pretty actually leaning towards the direction of ‘no.’

Having Donald Sterling out of the NBA is a good thing, I wholeheartedly believe that. I just find it very strange that in our day of promoting freedom of speech to the grave I don’t hear much being discussed about the fact that this all blew up because of some pretty dumb, bigoted comments spoken to his girlfriend in the privacy of his own home. It wasn’t in public. It wasn’t during a press conference.

There has been practically unequivocal support of the NBA’s decision and bold statement. Ultimately though, I think those who have been the most outspoken in their support of this situation have done it to make themselves look good. What he said was so obviously stupid that practically everyone agrees that it was a bad thing to say, not to mention weirdly inconsistent.

I think it would have been a much stronger statement for the NBA to go deeper and specifically mention his history of actual racist actions over some kind of stupid argument with his girlfriend. He’s had lawsuits against him with clear evidence of housing discrimination. For some reason that gets primarily overlooked, especially by the NBA. (Many people who write about racism, classism, and even some sports columnists have brought this issue up before now – and they are the ones that seem the most frustrated by this whole ordeal). That is where the real issues of racism have actually hurt people. That kind of racism is the structural racism that contributes to the communities we constantly hear about being violent gang-ridden.

We are seemingly getting more and more reactionary as a culture. The CEO of Mozilla recently was pressured to resign because he had donated substantially to support Prop-8 in California. Now we are fining someone $2.5 million and banning him from life because of something he said in private. The New York Times and countless other companies quickly voice their overwhelming support. I hate the “slippery slope” argument – because it usually is a fallacy – but boy, this feels to me like a slippery slope. Isn’t he free to believe what he wants, even if it is hateful and ignorant? Isn’t he allowed to say dumb, inconsistent things to his mistress? Let’s react to the actions that stem from those beliefs and words – not his private conversations. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I think we’re going to look back in a few years on this time of high social pressure in America and realize just how reactionary we were about things like this.

Chic-fil-a, Duck Dynasty, Mozilla, World Vision, Donald Sterling – is this how things are going to continue to be or is this just a result of the high pressure society that’s been created due to the nature of our media, social media, and desire to be politically correct and to never look intolerant in any way? Are we ever going to slow down enough to have meaningful conversations that lead to real change rather than immediately jumping at opportunities to point fingers, condemn, and make ourselves look good?

This!!! –http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/opinion/blow-deep-in-the-heart-of-don.html?ref=opinion

No More Plastic Bags in Chicago


Chicago voted yesterday to ban plastic bags from grocery stores starting next year. It makes a lot of sense. Plastic is horrible. It really is. I like that my city is trying to take meaningful steps to be “greener.” (Again, this could be more about making us feel good about ourselves, rather than really attempting to make real changes, but who knows?) It makes a lot of sense, right? Well, the city council’s decision was not unanimous. Why? The south side of Chicago struggles to have very many grocery stores. I heard an Alder(wo)man say that she voted no because it doesn’t matter what bags they use where she’s from in the city. There’s no grocery stores to use them in. Stores will be expected to provide alternatives to plastic bags, but paper bags cost three times more than plastic bags. It’s argued that this would be just one more hurtle that keeps grocery stores from being built in the south side neighborhoods. Interesting thoughts to consider, for sure.

I’ll be happy to stop using plastic bags. But what’s to stop me from using thing now?

http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-aldermen-crack-down-plastic-bags-pedicabs-110113

Oil Spill in Lynchburg


I was very sad to hear about another crude oil spill – this time in Virginia. And it’s polluting the local water. Not much to say about it, other than it seems like these types of occurrences seem to be happening more often.

http://wtvr.com/2014/04/30/lynchburg-train-derailment/

Minimum Wage Vote Blocked


Democrats (and some Republicans) want to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 over the course of two years – but the bill was blocked from going to a vote by the GOP in the Senate. Obama wasn’t happy about it being blocked, and it seems that this topic is starting to become a central issue for the Democrats. I’m totally okay with that!

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/30/politics/senate-wage/


It’s hard to listen to the news sometimes. I didn’t even mention anything about Ukraine, or about the near 200 girls that have been kidnapped in Nigeria, many who have probably been sold or forced into marriage by their captors. There’s so much going on out there sometimes that it makes me just want to never listen to the radio or read any headlines. But that’s not helpful. I’m an optimist – and I believe that things can change for the better. We just need to take the time to listen to each other, work together, and not focus so much about making ourselves look good.

 

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