Crimes of Survival

George Floyd Jr., Eric Garner and Jean Valjean, the main character from Les Miserables, were all punished for committing crimes of survival, the first two with their lives at the hands of police. Floyd was killed for trying to use a single counterfeit twenty dollar bill at a convenience store, Garner was killed for selling loose cigarettes outside a store and Valjean was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his dying relative. All three lived in a society that made it impossible for everyone to live securely.

Les Miserables is a story about a victim of society set in the late 18th early 19th centuries revealing a lack of human compassion for a man committing a minor crime out of desperation. Now, in the 21st century human compassion is still lacking for the marginalized.

Lack of opportunity, hopelessness and just trying to get by are solvable societal problems through education, affordable childcare and healthcare, and livable wages for essential workers. Misdemeanor crimes should not be punishable by death on the street at the hands of police.

Crimes of survival must be met with compassion, accountability and opportunity. We can, collectively, do better!

Tabloid Political Party

When I was growing up I always noticed the supermarket tabloids at the checkout. The outrageous pictures and headlines defied reason. I always believed that these were only consumed by bored housewives who were entertained by the titillating stories based on gossip, half truths and sensationalism without the annoying guardrails of journalistic standards. The stories were fun to read and share with friends, but any reasonable person would know the stories were not based in irrefutable fact. These tabloids were not reliable sources of news. They were solely created for entertainment purposes.

Sadly, for the last twenty years, this tabloid formula of gossip, half truths and sensationalism has been adopted by right wing media. This kind of misinformation has always been with us, but due to the takeover of AM radio by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, the expansion of cable news and the creation of the internet into a giant propaganda machine, misinformation has come to dominate the minds of at least a third to nearly half of our population resulting in a level of division in our country not seen since the Civil War. This soup of misinformation created the space for the election of the “tabloid” president who led with, perpetuated and expanded the big lies to fit his selfish purposes taking the majority of Republicans with him.

For those outside the “tabloid” universe, the lies are obvious and ridiculous just like the covers and headlines of the supermarket tabloids displayed at the checkout counters. We must be our own fact checkers. We need to ask ourselves who wrote or spoke the information, for what audience, for what purpose, who are their sources and who paid for it? Often money and power rather than truth are the motivations underlying these communications.

Don’t fall victim to the lies and conspiracy theories that make others wealthy and powerful at your expense. Don’t be duped! Question!

Temporary Stability?

I feel a sense of relief that government is rebuilding and functioning better for the majority of people. However, I fear that it is just temporary. Democrats only hold a slim majority in the House and Senate and Republicans are working tirelessly to suppress voting.

Misinformation in right wing media is still rampant, and misleading Republican voters. Most Republican politicians are playing along with the lies to get re-elected and they have no other legislative plans. They are mired in ridiculous culture wars and the deconstruction of our government and democracy. They use the false claim that Democrats are all evil far left socialists to instill unreasonable fear in their constituents.

We can’t relax! Democracy is hanging by a thread and we must work tirelessly to preserve it!

A Culture of Callousness…

Former Police Officer Derek Chauvin demonstrated a callous disregard for the life of George Floyd Jr. when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes, even as Floyd was dying and then dead. The fact that this heinous act was not hidden or done in secret and that it was carried out in a nonchalant, hands in pockets, vacant expression manner, suggests that these inhumane actions were nothing out of the ordinary for these officers. The circumstances of these actions are a sad statement for our society. Have we created a culture of callousness that is easily able to devalue the life of some?