Monday, March 21, 2011


Can a criminal act that inflicts extreme and emotional anguish on a person or persons based on their race or ethnicity, be considered a hate crime? Should it?

Apparently the Manhattan DA's office, charged with adjudicating the case of former New York weatherperson, Heidi Jones, for filing a false police report does not believe so. It has recently been reported that her attorney and the District Attorney's office is working out a "no jail" resolution for her crime.

Ms. Jones' creation of a fictitious "Hispanic" assailant was a conscious, deliberate choice which has serious implications that should not be ignored. We may not know how many NYPD man-hours were spent investigating her false accusation. And we may not know how many innocent Latino males were stopped, frisked, harassed or interrogated by the police before Ms. Jones' story began to fall apart. But we do know those numbers should have been zero. According to statistics, we also know that tens of thousands of innocent black and Latino males, young and old, are routinely stopped and frisked because they allegedly "fit the description," or is a "person of interest" in an ongoing police investigation. And this fictional attack against Ms. Jones in Central Park by this phantom "Hispanic male" feeds an ugly, neverending, convenient stereotype.

Hopefully we are over the days of white mobs burning down black communities and killing innocent black families over false allegations of white women accusing black men of rape. However, when white South Carolina mother, Susan Smith, murdered her two children and white Massachusetts husband, Charles Stuart murdered his wife, they both reported being carjacked - Smith claiming a black man drove off with her two children, Stuart claiming he and his wife were shot by a black man. When the news media inundated the airwaves with these stories, lost in their coverage was the havoc rained down upon innocent black men, as law enforcement searched for non-existent suspects, before the claims of the murderers began to unravel.

In New York, black Hip-Hop artists have been jailed, or are awaiting jail terms for illegal gun possession. Former NY Giant Wide Receiver, Plaxico Burress, currently in jail for gun possession drew high profile calls for his incarceration - one by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to show that celebrities do not get special treatment. However, the wife of television anchorman, Lou Dobbs, and entertainer Harry Connick Jr. did not receive similar public disdain, or jail time, for their New York gun possession charge. Apparently, it is black celebrities that do not get special treatment in New York.

Now the New York justice system is poised to continue its very long tradition of race-based special treatment. Heidi Jones' crime has a long and storied American history. It has spawned hatred and violence against innocent victims. It has cost lives and reputations - and it is a crime that needs to be more appropriately and severely punished. This heralded young woman was a news personality for a major market television affiliate of a major American communications corporation. This Heidi is not some curly-topped, orphaned Shirley Temple that should be sent home to live with her grandfather. She should be sent to jail.

Friday, March 4, 2011


As the world watches events unfold in much of northern Africa, AKA the Middle East, cries of revolution and democracy flood every worldwide vehicle of communication. The pontificating politicos and the prognosticating punditry are virtually manic in their assessment of what America should do and/or what our President should say. And they are disturbed by the violence and bloodshed perpetrated against the otherwise peaceful protestors seeking independence from tyranny.

Blinded by the extremely cantankerous, but bloodless, spectacle of the 2000 Bush v. Gore election, we shine a self-congratulatory light on the greatness of our democracy. But it wasn't always that way. We conveniently ignore all the blood shed to get us to those 36 days after that infamous November 2000 Election Day. Those 56 signers of a very specific, accusatory 1776 document would have certainly been pleased had King George simply packed up the British military and said, "Fine. It's yours!" But, having pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, it was clear that there was no expectation of a regal capitulation.

In fact, they specifically fashioned a 2nd Amendment to their founding document in the sincere belief that bloodshed will often be a necessary defense against tyranny. And they were right. Their new nation has involved itself in several wars since its independence - including a major domestic conflict less than 100 years after its founding, lasting 4 years and costing over 500,000 lives and untold gallons of blood. We have also expended blood and lives abroad battling tyranny against others. Why should we expect countries steeped in centuries of oligarchies be any different! Why the outrage when tyrants and despots kill and maim the protesting lovers of freedom in order to protect their fiefdoms! Such outrage is a sign of our abject ignorance of history.

Our own recent history has seen blood spilled at the teeth of police dogs and fire hoses, baseball bats and arson, firebombs and via the end of a hangman's noose - all in defiance of freedom and democracy and all in the name of state's rights. And, all under the watchful eyes of American dictators. Only our tyrants were titled Director J. Edgar Hoover, Gov. George Wallace, Gov. Orval Faubus, and Sheriff Bull Conner just to name a few. More than 20 years after the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, American children and their parents were attacked and beaten simply for taking their offspring to school. And in 1968, after a relatively peaceful protest march in Memphis, Tennessee, a single gunshot aimed at the balcony of the Lorraine Motel set off a violent, nationwide, chain of events that would have lasting repercussions.

We are watching today's events of some of our own American history being played out worldwide. It is folly to believe that despotism will just walk away and die a quiet death. Freedom is never free. To quote abolitionist, and former slave, Frederick Douglass, "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will." And one of the universal certainties in escaping the iron fist of British kings or Libyan Colonels is that there will be blood.