By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — As the rallies for Trayvon Martin grow, as the media coverage surrounding the tragedy deepens and as the calls for justice get louder, we all must remember one thing: Revenge and justice are not the same thing.
The $10,000 bounty issued by the New Black Panther Party for the capture of Trayvon’s shooter, George Zimmerman, might feel justified given what we know of the shooting death. But it is not a call for justice.
It is a call for revenge.
When the group’s leader, Mikhail Muhammad, calls for “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” it is a call for revenge.
Muhammad’s words at a rally — “If the government won’t do the job, we’ll do it” — might feel empowering, might feel good. But that sentiment flies in the face of every call for justice that was made as well at that rally. Anyone who is considering taking Muhammad up on his offer, or even embarking on a solitary journey of revenge should, to quote the Chinese philosopher Confucius, “dig two graves.”
Nothing good can come from a bunch of vigilantes hunting down and possibly harming another vigilante, regardless of how noble the motivation for doing so may appear on the surface. As angry as I am, and as many of you are, what Muhammad is proposing can only make a bad situation worse. He needs to retract the bounty proposal immediately.
Enough violence, and images of violence, surround this tragedy already.
A “war” on stereotypes.
The “fight” against racism.
It feels as if we can’t even discuss the issue of race as it relates to the Martin case without using words that are linked to violence. Nothing about the world “war” connotes healing. Very little about a bounty suggests togetherness.
I’m not just splitting hairs over semantics. It is science that suggests the words we use shape the way we think. And what we think is the precursor to what we do. If we continue to allow words of conflict to define the conversation about race and racial profiling, then I fear we will move on from this tragedy having learned absolutely nothing, like so many times before.
I know many people think of Martin as a modern-day Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black kid from Chicago who was kidnapped and killed by a pair of racist white men in Mississippi in 1955. I tend to see Martin as the new Ryan White, the young man who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 at the age of 13. Before White’s story, the disease was in the public’s peripheral vision, truly discussed only by people who experienced its impact. But once a young, innocent face became associated with AIDS, the country’s attitude changed and we began addressing it more effectively.
Similarly, racial profiling was something only those directly affected would talk about. But the Martin tragedy has the potential to change that — if we let it.
Earlier this week, Will Cain and I were guests of Don Lemon’s on CNN and quickly found ourselves in a heated discussion about whether it was appropriate for President Barack Obama to comment on the tragedy. Over the next eight minutes, we fought and argued over issues of race and racial profiling. We continued the conversation once the TV segment was over. We talked on the way to the CNN makeup room. We talked as we left the building, crossed the street and had a beer.
My point is, we talked — not in an effort to fight but to understand each other. To build something. We’re hardly the perfect example of race relations. In fact, both of us are constantly told via Twitter, Facebook and other social media just how racist we are.
But we try to take each criticism with a grain of salt, understanding that at the end of the day, we’re just a couple of men, a couple of fathers who want the same thing: a better world for our kids.
And I tend to believe we’re not the only ones.
But we don’t get to that place through revenge, because revenge is cyclical and gets us nowhere. No, we get to that better world for our kids by walking the long linear line of justice, side by side, picking each other up when one falls, reaching a hand back when one gets tired, never forgetting that no matter how divergent our opinions might be from time to time, we’re in this thing together.
I agree with this article 100% (err, maybe 99%?). The comments sections on blogs and articles can be insightful, but most of the time they are just ramblings and rants, sprinkled with back-and-forth insults between readers. To be honest, I usually read them if I want some entertainment for the day. Or I read them hoping to find some educated responses, but I wind up leaving the site completed deflated and depressed, as most of the comments are hateful and ridiculous. I’m not sure that I agree with only letting a select few individuals comment on articles, as that really almost defeats the purpose of a ’comments’ section, but I feel that everyone needs to just take the responses with a grain of salt and realize that anonymous commenters are not going to add much value to an article. Thoughts? (Yes, I am allowing all readers to voice their opinions)
By Doug Gross, CNN
Austin, Texas (CNN) — In the early days of the Internet, there was hope that the unprecedented tool for global communication would lead to thoughtful sharing and discussion on its most popular sites.
A decade and a half later, the very idea is laughable, says Gawker Media founder Nick Denton.
“It didn’t happen,” said Denton, whose properties include the blogs Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker. “It’s a promise that has so not happened that people don’t even have that ambition anymore.
“The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership — that’s a joke.”
Denton was speaking at South by Southwest Interactive, the annual festival here devoted to Web and digital culture.
He said that commenting on his own sites (which he’s seen make reporters cry) has gotten so bad that he doesn’t engage.
“I don’t like going into the comments. … For every two comments that are interesting — even if they’re critical, you want to engage with them — there will be eight that are off-topic or just toxic,” he said.
And as sites get more popular, it’s harder to control the comments, which inevitably get nastier.
“What you can manage on a small site … the level of discussion you can have on those is not the level you’re able to have on a newspaper site or one of our sites. Our smaller blogs have 2 million unique (visitors per month). … It’s hard to have that intimacy.”
So, what’s the solution?
When it comes to improving open discussion threads, Denton seemed quicker to shoot down ideas that others are trying than to provide proposals of his own.
Having editors and reporters engage their readers in the comments? “The writer of the piece has to move on to the next piece. They don’t have time to moderate all those comments.”
Require readers to post using their real names? “My own view is that anonymity is at the heart of the Internet.”
Give other commenters more power to “up-vote” or “down-vote” posts? “We don’t really believe in the democratic process of decision-making when it comes to discussion,” Denton said.
For example, he said, Jezebel has made lots of hay off of sexual harassment accusations against American Apparel Chief Executive Officer Dov Charney. Denton said he’d love to see Charney come into the comments section to defend himself.
“If you put it to a vote, 90% would vote to ban him. They hate that guy,” Denton said. “If Dov Charney went into the Jezebel comments, he’d be torn limb from limb; his limbs aren’t all that would be torn off.”
The answer? Denton said his sites are planning to post some stories that allow only a hand-picked, pre-approved group of people to comment on them. That, he said, would make the comment section an extension of the story and allow people, like Charney in the above example, to have their say without fear of being piled onto by others.
“I think it’s part of the answer,” he said. “What I want is, I want the sources — I want the experts to be able to comment in these discussions.”
When he took questions, Denton had to do a little answering about the responsibility the tone of a site itself has in guiding its comments section.
Many of Gawker’s sites aren’t known for being particularly delicate (One of today’s top Gawker headlines: “Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Son Injures Ass Skiing, Tweets Photo”).
“It’s certainly true that nice sites run by nice people … that encourages good behavior,” Denton said. “But it’s not as if it’s entirely the writer setting the tone for the comments. Sometimes, it’s the comments setting the tone for the writer.”
Another great article from LZ Granderson, this time about social security.
FYI, bolding done by me… thought they were interesting comments.
Social Security — Are you kidding me?
By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — I think I stopped trusting the U.S. government right after learning that for 40 years, instead of treating a small group of poor, uneducated people officials had identified as having syphilis, officials not only withheld the diagnosis from them, but the cure as well, just to see what would happen if the disease went untreated.
This was done even if what would happen was eventually death, which is why burial insurance was given to the unsuspecting victims as if the government was doing them a favor.
And this didn’t happen a very long time ago either.
In fact, the first wave of Gen Xers were out of diapers while the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was still going on.
Once you see how hard Uncle Sam sucker punches people he identifies as expendable, you learn to keep your guard up whenever he comes around.
It is for this reason that Social Security is nowhere in my retirement plans.
Call me crazy, but the idea of trusting the government to take care of me, to provide me with “security” when I’m old and frail is far more frightening than the thought of me trying to make it on my own.
I’m not yet 40, so theoretically I still have plenty of time to have my own plan in place. Yes, I’ve paid into Social Security. No, I don’t expect to benefit from it, at least not at the level those who are currently collecting are benefiting. And I don’t know anyone in any line of work my age or younger who does.
We are not as mad about this switcheroo as much as we are mad that the reform can keeps getting kicked down a road that’s getting shorter and shorter by a bunch of politicians who know better but are too afraid of losing voters who won’t be around when the money’s all gone anyway.
Anybody with a high school diploma and a calculator can see how entitlement programs are damaging the economy and that some sort of reform is necessary to ensure their long-term solvency. And yet during budget and debt ceiling talks, Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid responded as if the Republicans wanted to sell voters’ first-born babies into slavery.
On Monday, President Barack Obama introduced another plan without touching Social Security. The Democrats won’t even support the modest changes recommended by the president’s own debt commission, including phasing in a two-year increase in the retirement age over the next 65 years and raising the ceiling on payroll taxes. They keep mocking us with talk of protecting the middle class when in reality protecting the middle class would have been passing a budget and introducing entitlement reforms before the extras from “King of the Hill” got into Congress.
But just as GOP presidential candidates are saying whatever they can to appease their base (except for Jon Huntsman, which is why he is in last place), the Democrats are just as guilty of pandering to the home crowd, even if the desires of that crowd aren’t nearly as much to blame for the economic trouble the country finds itself in as the Bush tax cuts and relaxed Wall Street regulations.
It’s all a game, and election after election, we keep getting played.
Remember Obama didn’t say he and the members of Congress might not get paid if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised, but that Social Security and military checks may not go out. And he’s the one being accused of being a socialist. Can you imagine what the rhetoric of a good ol’ fashion free-market capitalist would sound like?
Here’s a hint: Rewatch the video from the CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate last week in which Wolf Blitzer asked if society should let an injured 30-year-old man without health insurance die. Much was made about the cheers that could be heard coming from some of the crowd, but I was far more disturbed by the lack of chastising that came from the stage immediately after the cheers. You mean to tell me the possible next leader of the free world doesn’t have an instant rebuke to people who cheer at the mention of uninsured Americans dying?
And I’m supposed to trust that person to have my best interest at heart when I’m at my most vulnerable?
The Great Depression gave birth to Social Security.
The Greatest Generation fed it and made it strong.
Today the sheer number of the baby boomers is slowly strangling it to death.
And because politicians continue to use Social Security as one of its many chess pieces to manipulate people to vote a certain way, one day we’ll speak of it much in the same way we speak of dial-up Internet access. Only instead of laughing at how long it used to take to log on, we’ll be shaking our heads, reminiscing back to the time when government actually cared.
Except for me.
As I hinted earlier, my faith in government went out the door the moment I found out it was controlled by people.
…so maybe that’s why I still read the ‘Red & Black’ website more than I probably should. But whatev.
So naturally I had to share this Opinions article because it is just full of truths about the Athens cops. Also, being there this past weekend to watch
our football team kinda suck the UGA v. USC game, I remembered how much those cops really irritated me. Standing outside of every bar just waiting for underaged freshmen to get turned down? Good Lord, you have nothing else to do? I’m pretty sure Athens has a lot of problems — the least of which are 20-year-olds drinking downtown during gamedays.
So, young columnist, good job on this editorial. The whole smoking a joint on your way back from GA/FL was not very smart, but I’ll cut you some slack. But I am curious as to why you were drinking an Odwalla smoothie as opposed to a Naked one… hmm.
Nonetheless, people kinda went for the jugular in the comments section, but who cares. They are just pissed that they didn’t have as much fun as you in college.
Money influences how police do their job
By WHITNEY DAVIS on September 9, 2011I’ve had two significant run-ins with the cops.
The first occurred in October 2008, in the Athens area on the way back from Georgia-Florida weekend in St. Simons.
When the police objective was to put me in handcuffs, they found hiding places in our car that I would have never thought of. Paying attention to every detail, the police found a tiny joint butt — enough to convict us all.
The incentive to arrest three students in a nice car on the way back from an affluent part of Georgia was ridiculously high. We were easy money.
The cops even looked through our wallets in search of fake IDs, even though there was no alcohol in the car.
The Wilkes County Police worked very hard to get the fines from my compatriots and me.
Then came the second incident.
On Tuesday, August 16, 2011, I reported my car stolen from my apartment complex parking lot, near campus.
After the thoroughness of police when I was arrested, I expected my car to be returned to me within a few days. But to no avail.
After calling the police station I was told people often stumble upon their cars before police recover them.
On Tuesday, August 23, my boyfriend was craving a McDonald’s milk shake. While in the drive-through, a STS9 sticker on a car in the parking lot caught my eye. I immediately realized the sticker was mine and so was the car.
After looking in the windows and checking to see if my key worked, I called the police.
When police arrived we told them we thought the thief was in the McDonald’s or maybe worked there. Of the four cops that showed up, two of them went into McDonalds and asked the manager how long the car had been in the parking lot.
Of course no one volunteered much information.
When I found an Odwalla juice bottle in the passenger seat, I asked the police if they wanted to fingerprint it. I thought perhaps they could use it to find the crook. The policeman told my boyfriend and I that unfortunately in a stolen property case, there just isn’t enough priority to take evidence such as the bottle into account. That got me frustrated.
I was tempted to ask what the priority of downtown was, since it seems like half the police force goes there every night, but I resisted.
Now the investigation has gone cold. I blame having no monetary incentive.
Recovering stolen property more than likely would not have resulted in a fine. Someone desperate enough to steal a car more than likely wouldn’t have extra cash lying around to pay the penalty.
So, catching this criminal would probably result in the county having to pay money to hold them in jail, and then the state having to pay money for them to be kept in our overcrowded Georgian prisons.
If the police had helped me to the best of their ability, they would have lost resources — not gained them. When I was arrested, they could only gain.
All of the recent budget cutting, has obviously put government employees on edge.
Especially in a town where the education budget cuts are so publicized, is it really surprising that police are obsessed with dollars and cents?
The slogan of the police should change from “protect and serve” to “collect and earn.”
— Whitney Davis is a senior from Atlanta majoring in public relations and accounting
Thank you Lorraine Devon Wilke for the best opinion article everrr. Reminds me of my post a while back about restaurants that ban kids.
Good article from LZ Granderson on CNN.com, yet again…
Huntsman, best candidate for a third party
Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — As a voter, aren’t you tired of feeling as if you don’t really have a choice?
Primaries have an assortment of personalities to sort through early on, but at the end of the day, the general election often forces us into a this-or-that, the lesser-of-two-evils scenario.
Technically that scenario is still a choice, but I bet if you went to an all-you-can-eat buffet and they only served mashed potatoes and mashed potatoes with gravy, you would want your money back.
And when I look at some of the decisions President Obama has made, that’s exactly what I want, my money back.
But then I look at the field of Republican candidates and I just feel trapped, as our election process has become less about which candidate you prefer and more like which limb you want to cut off.
The only GOP candidate I find myself wanting to hear more from is Jon Huntsman, who, when I last checked, finished a hair below Lady Gaga and a handful of rocks in the latest Gallup poll.
“He’s a nice guy, but he’s out of his league,” said Bob List, a former Nevada governor and GOP strategist.
Is Huntsman a charismatic politician?
But wow — a former governor who oversaw the biggest tax cut in his state’s history, maintained a surplus in the budget, speaks fluent Chinese and is a talented enough musician to play on stage with REO Speedwagon is deemed “out of his league.” But Rick Perry, the dude who got a “D” in economics and brags about creating more minimum wage jobs, many without benefits, than any other governor is not?
I don’t know what kind of league List is talking about, but it sounds nuts to me.
It’s those kinds of insider statements that have me reminiscing about the free-wheeling Ross Perot.
True, the 1992 independent candidate didn’t win. He finished third behind winner Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. But man was he fun. He didn’t have to deal with the Lists in his party, and because of that, the nearly 20 million people who voted for him didn’t feel as trapped.
Think about it: Perot captured nearly 19% of the popular vote, more than 50% of them independents. This was at a time in which no one really paid attention to independent voters. But in 2008, independent voters were credited with being the difference makers, and today the big GOP question is whether a social conservative in the primary can appeal to moderates and independents in the general.
Huntsman’s showing a bit more personality now, and he is unveiling a jobs package ahead of Obama and Mitt Romney. But the reality is, it doesn’t matter. He effectively eliminated his chances of making conservatives swoon, and thus winning the GOP nomination, when he tweeted that he believes in evolution and global warming.
But in closing the GOP door, he opened the independent window. It would seem that if Huntsman is still serious about being the next president of the United States, then instead of trying to win over the social conservatives who never liked him anyway, he should reboot his campaign and run as an independent.
Let the Romneys and Perrys and Bachmanns slug it out and spend the next 16 months addressing voters who are not happy with Democrats or Republicans — which is likely to be a fairly high number considering only 39% of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing and just 13% of them like Congress.
One of the reasons why Obama continues to be in a virtual tie in the polls with Perry and Romney isn’t because his economic policies are stellar, but because a lot of voters are concerned about the theocracy and overall influence of the tea party Republicans who have proven to be a group of folks not very interested in compromise.
So even though independent voters may have questions about Obama’s ability to help the economy, and they may agree with some of the fiscal talking points of his opponents, when given the choice between him and, say, a candidate who wants to make abortions illegal, or discriminates against gays or Muslims, well he becomes a lot more appealing.
And that my friend, is the reason why the elections are technically a choice, but don’t feel like one.
When voters are forced between what they believe is right for the country and their civil rights or the civil rights of others they’re not really weighing legislative options, they’re deciding which limb to cut off.
At least for a moment Perot brought another option. Even if you felt he wouldn’t win, at least he didn’t spend his entire campaign regurgitating partisan talking points or trying to prove himself to be the most conservative or progressive option. I’m not saying he was the best person for the job — and as I recall, he said some crazy stuff too — but he was there.
Like Perot I don’t know if Huntsman is the best person for the job, but what I do know is compare his on-the-job performance with the rest of field, and you will see he is not out of his league.
He’s just playing for the wrong team.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.
I love this opinion article by Imam Khalid Latif, which was posted on CNN.com yesterday. It is very interesting and brings up a lot of great points. I definitely think it is worth reading. I’ve copied it below:
My Take: Norway attacks show why you can’t #blamethemuslims
Editor’s Note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and Executive Director of the school’s Islamic Center.
By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN
In the immediate aftermath of 1995’s Oklahoma City bombing, much of the news media rushed to suggest that a Muslim, or at least a Middle Eastern connection, was behind the attack.
News reports on television and in print featured Middle East terrorism experts claiming the Oklahoma City attack echoed a World Trade Center bombing two years earlier and that it contained parallels to recent Mideast attacks.
The FBI picked up Ibrahim Ahmad, a Jordanian American, for questioning in an initial dragnet.
Of course, it turned out that the attacker was homegrown and named Timothy McVeigh, not a Muslim.
Sixteen years later, not much has changed.
The tragic events that took place in Norway on Friday provoked initial accusations against Muslims worldwide. Of course, that proved to be the farthest thing from the truth.
Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed bomber and shooter in this horrendous act, was not motivated by the teachings of Islam, but by the teachings of those who oppose Islam.
A 1,500-page manifesto that appears to be written by Breivik is an anti-Islamic tirade.
“Since the creation of Islam in the 7th century and to up to this day, the Islamic Jihad has systematically killed more than 300 million non Muslims and tortured and enslaved more than 500 million individuals,” it says.
“Since 9/11 2001, more than 12, 000 Jihadi terrorist attacks have occurred,” it continues. “… This trend will continue as long as there are non-Muslim targets available and as long as Islam continues to exist.”
An inappropriate response to Norway’s acts of violence would be the condemnation of Christianity, or a claim that religion itself breeds violence and hatred, though the manifesto repeatedly invokes the defense of Christianity as a primary reason for violently defeating multiculturalism and combating the “Islamic colonization” of Europe.
The expectation shouldn’t be that white Christian males should now be scrutinized at airports or profiled by TSA workers. It’s wrong when it happens to Muslims and it would be just as wrong if it happened to anyone else.
A more appropriate response would be to expand the conversation around terrorism and violent extremism beyond Islam and the Muslim community. The Norway attacks highlight why congressional hearings should not be held on solely on radicalization in the Muslim community, but should focus on radicalization more broadly.
It’s also imperative that training for law enforcement and other governmental offices on Islamic doctrine and law not to be conducted by those who present the normative understanding of Islam to be something that is radical. Our focus should be the safety of all citizens in any country from every act of violence or terrorism.
By cultivating a narrative that says Islam is the problem, we keep ourselves from maintaining that focus. All terrorist acts stem from an idea that it’s OK to resort to violence in order to get what you want; that it’s OK to kill to get the kind of world that you would like; that if we disagree, we cannot co-exist peacefully.
Over the weekend, #blamethemuslims became a trending topic on Twitter. The purpose of the hashtag was not to blame Muslims for the Norway attack, but show how Muslims are unfairly blamed and singled out regularly these days. The tragic events in Norway remind us that not all terrorists are Muslim and there is no reason that all Muslims should be treated like they are.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Norway. May God make things easy for them and grant us all the strength and courage to stand up against those who preach intolerance and hatred, even if they look like us, align politically with us, or practice the same religion we practice.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Khalid Latif.