Monday, November 27, 2017

"Boorish" Behavior Is Now Sexual Harassment

Boorish Behavior Is Now Sexual Harassment Boorish behavior can now be sexual harassment, as well it should be. Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexual assaults. Maybe one is presumed innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law and selectively with Nancy Pelosi, but not in public opinion. Maybe the statute of limitations has run on most of his transgressions, but that is in the court of law, not public opinion. Several celebrities, such as Weinstein, Spacey, Rose et al, were immediately dumped by the entertainment industry – not because one accuser came forward, but because their transgressions were well known within their industries. Many of the cases involves sexual assaults and sometimes “sick” behavior. Senator Al Franken is a little different. He’s been repeatedly accused of groping, albeit not as often as Kevin Spacey. (The PHOTO Would Not Load on This Blog) That photo is damming to him. He had later sent the photo to Leeann Tweeden, who was asleep when he groped her with a smirk. What was he thinking? She was indignant and upset. In an earlier day, not many years ago, the Senator’s conduct would be considered “boorish.” They were just “misguided pranks.” They were then, and are today, batteries. They were, and are, highly offensive to the victims, and that’s what matters. We have the right to decide who, where and when touches our bodies. Hands should not be wandering. A photo op is not a groping session. Taylor Swift recently won her lawsuit against ex-DJ David Mueller for groping her. Once again, a picture is worth a thousand words. He tried, but couldn’t succeed, in explaining the wandering hand to the jury. (This Photo Also Did Not Load Onto This Page) We expect adolescents to occasionally engage in such wrongful, boorish behavior, but not grown men. 50-plus year old men should not be engaged in unconsented groping. It is totally inappropriate for a United States Senator. Similarly, what was Kevin Spacey thinking as he repeatedly grouped the private parts of men? We should also be free from men either flashing themselves or unwanted sexts. I’m not sure many women wanted to see the unsolicited Anthony’s wiener or Brett Favre’s little Brett, I don’t think many women want to see obese or old men coming out of a shower naked! What were people like Charlie Rose or Harvey Weinstein thinking? What sort of vanity or arrogance, power complex, perhaps insecurity, or sickness, caused such behavior? Boorish behavior? or Battery? Assault? Indecent exposure?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Thanks to Western Civilization on Thanksgiving

Western Civilization is the reason we are here today in this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nation. Western Civilization gave us Freedom of Speech, Freedom of religion, Freedom of Press, the right to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. We call it the First Amendment, but it is the product of Western Civilization. The precepts of Western Civilization, going back to Ancient Greece, recognize the rights of the individual rather than a sovereign. Magna Carta in 1216 gave us due process and the beginnings of the common law and constitutional law. Magna Carta began the process of reigning in the absolute power of the King and empowering the individual. Western Civilization pulled the world out of the Dark Ages with the Reformation, Renaissance, and the Age of Enlightenment. The Industrial Revolution increased the standard of living and created a large middle class. Western Civilization has given the world a standard of living unknown in earlier generations. It has allowed billions to escape the yoke of poverty. Western Civilization led the world in ending serfdom and slavery and enfranchising women because Western Civilization has the ability to evolve. A recent rap on Western Civilization is its role in slavery, especially 3½ centuries in the Americas. Western civilization led the way in ending slavery throughout much of the world. England outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and used the British Navy to enforce the ban. The Royal Navy announced it would treat slavers as if they were pirates. The United States followed on January 1, 1808, as soon as the Constitution allowed a ban to be implemented on the Slave Trade. England banned slavery throughout the British Empire in The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which freed the slaves in 1/3 of the world. Sadly, the United States could not peacefully end slavery, but had to fight a brutal Civil War to accomplish the goal. The northern states, which once allowed slavery, had progressively banned slavery between 1777 and 1803 before the Civil War, leaving the United States divided between Free States and Slave States. Western Civilization did not create slavery, which was recognized both in the ancient Code of Hammurabi and the Bible. Every major civilization throughout recorded history had slaves. The Egyptians, Greeks (helots) , Persians, and Romans held slaves. The Aztecs and Mayans both had slaves and practiced human sacrifices. Some Native American tribes in the United States held slaves. African peoples not only had slaves of their own, but traded millions of captured Africans of other tribes to slavers. The Ottomans had millions of slaves. Serfdom was quasi-slavery. Slaves historically were of every skin color. Slavery was abhorrent even to the drafters of the Constitution. They never once in the Constitution used the words, slave, slavery, or slave trade. Yet the 3/5 clause was the compromise needed to bring the 13 colonies together as the United States of America. Western Civilization gave us antibiotics, the airplane, automobile, electricity, the computer, internet and GPS, the clock, printing press, telegraph, telephone, and television, the steam engine, railroads and steamships, and the university. Geniuses, such as Bohr, Copernicus, Crick and Watson, Darwin, Einstein, Fleming, Galileo, Jenner, Lister, Madam Curie, Mendel, Newton, Pasteur, Planck, Tesla, and Turing advanced civilization. Above all, Western Civilization empowered the individual. The writings of political philosophers, such as Hobbes, Hume, Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire led to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, a truly revolutionary document in world history: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” The drafters of the Constitution, learning from their English predecessors and history, added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution to protect the people from the government. The creation of a democracy with open doors to immigrants created a beacon to the world, the beacon of liberty and opportunity. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, became a global symbol of the United States. Peoples of the world, refugees, still come to the United States, looking for a better future for themselves and children. That is the success of Western Civilization. Academic Freedom, a construct of Western Civilization, allows today’s professoriate to profess the tripe they profess as knowledge and learning within the academy. Western Civilization and the British Library also gave us Karl Marx.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

On Roy Moore. Al Franken, Bill Clinton, et al

Roy Moore would not have been my first choice for the Senate from any state. He would usually be my last choice, except if someone even worse were running. Roy Moore joins the ranks of Congressman Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, Christine (“I am not a witch”) O’Donnell, and Ken Buck, who cost the Republicans winnable Senate seats. The problem for the Republicans is that these candidates, including Roy Moore, were nominated by a Republican base that is frustrated by the Republican inaction in Congress. Alabama voters viewed Senator Luther Strange as an insider. The Hollywood disclosures followed by the political revelations opened the doors for victims to come forward and receive justice, even if it is justice delayed. Politicians attempting to take political advantage of these scandals are playing with fire. Once unleashed, they will become uncontrollable. Sexual assaults and harassment are bi-partisan, non-partisan, equal opportunity offenders. Sleaze is sleaze. Rape is rape. Statutory rape is rape. Power, political power, is an aphrodisiac for many. Power though is not an excuse, justification or explanation for sexual assaults or harassment. Basic rules of law and morality have been cast aside by the assailants, seduced or blinded by power. The accusations have spread from Hollywood to London and Washington, D.C. and now statehouses in Florida, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Sadly, the settlements are often shrouded in secrecy. The California legislature, meaning taxpayers, has paid out at least $850,000 over the past five years in settlements for sexual harassment. About 200 women have come forward with complaints about legislators and staffers, but only 30 investigations have ensued since 2007. The legislature does not keep track of the settlements. Congress over the past 20 years has entered in 260 settlements totaling $15 million in taxpayer funds. Yet even today very few women have publicly come forward with specific accusations. Maybe Leann Tweeden will serve as an incentive. Accusations though are not necessarily politically fatal. Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Clinton survived a series of accusations about sexual assaults and harassment. Indeed, the mainstream media downplayed the accusations against President Clinton. Victims, such as Paula Jones, were alluded to as “trailer park trash.” Roy Moore was having difficulty solidifying the vote in conservative Alabama. He was twice kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court for defying the United States Constitution on the ban between Church and State. Then came the disclosures of his fondness for teenage girls, including apparently under-age girls. He thus was portrayed in the media as a pervert. The media tracked down every lead and encouraged every woman with knowledge to come forward. They were salivating as they poured it on Roy Moore and the GOP. Then came Leann Tweeden, Al Franken and the photo. The presumption of innocence works in a court of law, but not in the court of public opinion. Denials mean little against these accusations, particularly when many accusers come forward. The broadcaster Leann Tweeden accused then comedian, now Senator Al Franken, of harassment and groping during a USO tour. The damming charge is not so much the accusation as the photo. He looks like a lecher in the photo. The Democrats may throw Senator Franken under the bus or let him ride it out. They are turning on President Clinton, now asserting they should have taken action against President Clinton 20 years ago. Hillary twice lost races for the Presidency. The Democratic Party no longer has blind loyalty to the Clintons. They owe them nothing and don’t need them anymore. Now they believe Juanita Broderick, or so they say. The media is trying to use the Franken incident to segue to President Trump with the history of accusations against him. Of course, those same accusations were unsuccessfully raised during the Presidential campaign against President Trump, but the media cannot restrain itself. Critics of the harassment accusations, which span decades of claims, assert they may not always be believable because of the passage of time. Several considerations apply to these delayed claims. First, every major incident, such as a disaster, will bring out false claims. Thus, fraudulent claims may be made, but that does not detract from the validity of legitimate claims. Second, memories fade or reshape over time. However, these women appear credible. The Franken photo is worth a thousand words. It speaks loud and clear. The Senator cannot and does not deny it. He simply claims he was trying to be funny. We also know that some victims complained to authorities or others immediately after the incidents, giving rise to the validity of their present claims. Many women realized after the occurrence that any complaint would be futile under the prevailing circumstances as well as costing them their careers. Some women also understood that blowing up in the heat of anger would accomplish little, but instead waited for the right time to come forward. Always remember the old adage: “Revenge is best served cold.” For example, the then sleeping Leann was highly distressed by the two incidents. She held onto the photo and just now released it. Senator Franken could no more deny it than President Clinton the semen on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress. One question is if Senator Al Franken will be hoisted on his own petard? The Senator posted on Facebook October 10: “The women who have shared their stories about Harvey Weinstein over the last few days are incredibly brave. It takes a lot of courage to come forward, and we owe them our thanks. And as we hear more and more about Mr. Weinstein, it’s important to remember that while his behavior was appalling, it’s far too common.” The Senator also tweeted “We must address sexual harassment.” He also wrote “I encourage victims to stand up and tell their stories.” Leann Tweeden took him at his word. Senator Franken said in a statement after Leann Tweeden’s accusation: “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.” Al Franken is undoubtedly not the only member of Congress with sexual harassment; the history of Congress tells us that. Judge them not by what they say, but by what they do.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Rhetorical Conundrum: How Does Society Fight Hate Crimes When So Many Are Fake?

How do you fight hate crimes when so many turn out to be fake? Remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s great “I Have A Dream Speech”, especially “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”? Remember Nina Simone’s great song “To be Young, Gifted, and Black”? Remember the post-racial Presidency of President Barack Hussein Obama? Sadly, race relations today are highly divisive, one year after the post-racial Presidency of President Obama. Race relations are so divisive that a single spark can ignite demonstrations, protests, riots, and vandalism. The spark can range from a police shooting to the posting of graffiti. One racist message is one too many. Yet many of these racist messages now turn out to be fake. One fake racist message is not only one too many, but further fans the flames of racism. Some recent examples sadly show the power of fake racism. Five black cadet candidates last September at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School reported racist messages outside their dorm room. The message said “Go home” with the “N” word. Lt. General Jay Silveria, Superintendent of the Air Force Academy, mustered the entire cadet corps and delivered a strong anti-racism message to the cadets - that racist behavior is unacceptable at the school. One of the five cadets was arrested a week ago for writing the racist remarks. Three incidents rocked the Eastern Michigan University community last spring and this fall. “KKK” was sprayed last September in red, white, and blue on a dormitory wall, coupled with a racial threat that blacks should leave the campus. The “N” word was posted Halloween on a building next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument. The message again ordered blacks to leave the campus. A racist message was left in a men’s restroom stall last spring. EMU erupted after these message. 1080 hours of campus police investigations coupled with local police and FBI led to the arrest of a 29 year old former student three weeks ago. The suspect is Eddie Curlin, an African American. St. Olaf College in Minnesota was wracked with a series of racist messages last spring. A message left on a car on April 29 said “I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less [N ] that this school has to deal with. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.” Demonstrators ensued. Classes were cancelled “so that we may have time for faculty, students, and staff to continue their discussions about racism and diversity on our campus.” The message was fake. Kansas has witnessed several “hate’ messages, two of which at least have been fake. An African American maintenance worker on crack splay painted KKK and a swastika on the wall of the Concord Fortress of Hope Church in Kansas City and set a fire in the building to hide his theft. A car at Kansas State was painted with a racist message. The “N” word was on the rear windshield. Words painted include “White’s only,” “Die”, and “date your own kind.” Dauntarius Williams, the African American owner of the car, later admitted to painting he car. He said it was meant as a Halloween prank. The Bart System in the San Francisco Bay Area has been repeatedly vandalized with racist messages with racist slurs and swastikas. Videos show the perpetrator to be African American. The problem is how do you respond and react to hate crimes when so many turn out to be a hoax?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

George Orwell Finally Gets a Statue in England!!

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) unveiled on November 7 an 8’ tall statue of George Orwell, the first public statue of the great political commentator. It is in the piazza of the BBC’s New Broadcasting House, where George Orwell worked for two years during World War II. Eric Blair, best known by his pen name, George Orwell was born in India. The Indian state of Bihar opened a George Orwell Museum in his birthplace in Motihari. (See my January 2, 2010 blog). George Orwell is most famous for his anti-Communist, pro-freedom books, Animal Farm and 1984, which are required reading in England, banned in other countries, and provocative to my generation in high school. Animal Farm gives us the classic “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” People who have never read 1984 will recognize some of these words and phrases: Big Brother, Doublethink, GroupThink, Thought Police, Newspeak, and Unperson. The Thought Police are a problem today, especially on our campuses. Orwell’s perspective was formed in the Spanish Civil War. He was wounded fighting for the Republicans. He quickly became disillusioned with Stalin and the dictatorial Soviet Union. George Orwell viewed himself as an antiauthoritarian, democratic socialist. He witnessed the disappearance during the Spanish Civil War of objective truth, what we now call “fake news.” He wrote: “In Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relationship to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories.” He continued: “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history … If the leader says of such and such event, ‘it never happened. If he says that two and two are five - well two and two are five.” His description of fake news prophesizes today’s news. 1984 presages the omnipresent CCTV today. The Orwell Statue is an act of Orwellian Irony. George Orwell abhorred statues, monuments, and even the BBC. He once said: “That seems to be a fixed rule in London. Whenever you do by chance have a distant vista, block it up with the ugliest statue you can find.” He also called the BBC’s atmosphere in his diary as “something halfway between a girl’s boarding school and a lunatic asylum.” He resigned from the BBC in 1943. He wrote in his letter of resignation: “For some time past I have been conscious that I was wasting my time and the public money on doing work that produces no result …. I feel that by going back to my normal work of writing and journalism that I could be more useful than I am at present.” His more productive work was Animal Farm in 1945 and 1984 in 1949. George Orwell stood a gangly 6”2”. The statue has him leaning forward with his hands sticking out, one of which contained his ever-present cigarette. He refused to quit smoking despite the tuberculosis that was killing him. A famous Orwell quote from Animal Farm is the inscription on the wall behind the Orwell statue: “If liberty means anything at all’ it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hollywood Orthodoxy: Sexual Assaults, and Conservatives

Hollywood proclaims strong belief in the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. It is a powerful proponent of Free Speech. Rank hypocrisy. Not historically for complainants of Hollywood’s fabled casting couch or conservatives. Some actors and actresses were reputed to have slept themselves to stardom. If so, that was probably consensual. However, sex under physical force or coercion is not consensual. It is rape. Consent while drugged or intoxicated is not consent; it is rape. Bill Cosby may still get convicted. Sexual relations with underage boys or girls is statutory rape, commonly referred to as pedophilia. Roman Polanski is not the only Hollywood luminary who is a pedophile. Kevin Spacey is now seeking counseling. Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards has collapsed. The serial groper is now seeking counseling’ just like Harvey Weinstein, the serial rapist. And just like Harvey Weinstein, he was emboldened by getting away with It in the past. 7-9 days of counseling, as with Harvey Weinstein, is not going to cure 3-4 decades of sexual assaults. The consistent pattern by several Hollywood notables does more than reflect an assertion of power over the powerless. It is a reflection of a psychologically sick person who is so emboldened by their success that they can no control their rampaging libido. Boorish behavior can legally constitute sexual harassment, but the Hollywood complainants assert more than boorish behavior. They claim a wide variety of physical attacks: rape, exhibitionism, forced oral sex, and groping. They are claiming rape, sexual assaults, batteries, and emotional distress. Only after several brave actresses and models were willing to talk to the New York Times and Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker was the conspiracy of silence breached. A tsunami of Hollywood victims came forward. Many of the perpetrators were sadly well known in Hollywood for their transgressions; Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, et al. The growing list of includes agents, actors, directors, executives, and producers, including Brett Ratner, Bill Shine, and Tyler Grasham, head an ever expanding list. Some have accused the victims of being accomplices because of their failure to come forward until now. The victims understood that their careers would fail as they would be ostracized in the industry. They also understood that they would be engaged in an exercise of futility; nothing would happen to the perpetrators. They knew that the accused sexual harasser Casey Affleck recently won an OSCAR as best supporting actor. They know the pedophile Roman Polanski received a standing ovation when he won an Oscar in 2003 for directing The Pianist. They also know that Hollywood started a petition seeking a pardon for the pedophile. Not an expression of sympathy for his victim(s)! They know President Bill Clinton got away with rape and "beloved" Senator Ted Kennedy survived the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Artistic, but especially commercial success, can bring you forgiveness, tolerance and even enablers in Hollywood. The victims also understand the orthodoxy of Hollywood. Prop 8 was the contentious anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendment in California. Courts subsequently struck it down. Several prominent creative voiced were either fired or forced to resign for supporting Prop 8. Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla, was forced out for supporting Prop 8. Hs crime was donating $1,000 to the Yes on 8 Campaign. The same fate awaited Richard Raddon, Director of the Los Angeles Film Festival for donating $1,500 to the Yes on 8 Campaign. Hollywood also does not believe in Freedom of Religion. Scott Eckern, Artistic Director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento paid the price for following his Mormon beliefs in contributing $1,000 to the campaign. So did Marjorie Christoffersen, manager of the El Coyote restaurant in Los Angeles. Her donation was only $100. The same Hollywood culture that prevented victims from speaking out also silences conservatives in Hollywood. Conservatives get the message. Unless they are a superstar in Hollywood, they are to remain in the conservative closet. The problem transcends Hollywood. It extends to D.C. and Sacramento, and now London, The California Legislature has now spent over a half million dollars in recent years settling sexual harassment claims; that is, California taxpayers have wasted $580,000 satisfying illegal conduct by legislators and staffers. One final thought; A few actors were ridiculed in the past for getting caught paying for sex, notably Hugh Grant and Eddie Murphy. Paying is far different from forcing!!!!!!