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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,574

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What is NOT particularly helpful with regard to Ferguson

In another thread, the question was asked, how is burning of black owned businesses helpful. It probably isn;t, but that isn't really the point of rioting anyway -- more on that in a moment. But if there is one thing that can definitely be said to be unhelpful with respect to Ferguson, I believe it is this: the sympathy of white liberals with the folks of Ferguson that comes couched in smug, glib moralizing about the indefensibility of rioting.

Riots of the type unfolding in Ferguson are not, first and foremost, attempts to be 'helpful. Riots like these are expressions of pent up frustration and rage, undertaken by people who have lost all faith in any of the normal, purportedly "helpful" channels or processes. They do not function according to carefully calculated strategies of what is likely or not likely to help a given cause. They are expressions of raw emotion on the part of people who are desperate, and who feel that their grievances have not been heard . . . by design. Instead of asking whether the actions of the rioters is 'helpful,' maybe a better question to ask is, "Is their rage justified." I believe it is.

Some will argue that while the rage in Ferguson may be justified, violence and looting never are. Well, perhaps, but when it gets to the point that people feel they must riot in order to be heard, then they are already way past a point where they see any value in recognizing a society's norms for what is considered to be "justified." This is a community that feels it has been denied justice, not just in the case of Michael Brown, but in case after case across this country over many, many years. Thus for anyone to preach to this community about behaving in a manner that is "justified" is clueless, as well as being smug and condescending in the extreme. This is not to suggest that rioting is 'right,' but rather that for the folks involved in these riots, categories of "right" and "wrong" seem to be little more than cruel illusions, rendering these terms largely irrelevant and useless in engaging the issues in any kind of constructive way.

What I believe the people of Ferguson need right now is a lot less sympathy, and a lot more empathy. Try to imagine the depth of the rage you would feel it were your children, or your community's children, whom society had decided could be summarily executed by police, their killers facing virtually no accountability whatsoever. How many times would it have to happen before you were overtaken by cynicism towards terms like "justice" and "the rule of law."

A friend of mine tonight put it like this:

Is the violence and chaos upsetting, regrettable, and unfortunate? Certainly. Is it occurring because nobody's taken the time to calmly and rationally explain to the rioters why rioting is bad? Fuck you."


Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 25, 2014, 05:11 AM (72 replies)

A Lutheran pastor's eloquent response to Ferguson

I had to share this deeply moving reflection on Ferguson posted on Facebook by my friend, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman, former Lutheran bishop of Metro NY, and a pastor under whom I worked as organist/choir master for eight years in Bogota, NJ. Steve has deep roots in St. Louis, as an alumnus of Concordia Seminary there, and as one whose grandfather was president of the same institution.

Stephen Bouman

I am listening to the Q and A of the prosecutor in Missouri who has just shared that there will be no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown with profound sadness and memories which still haunt me. The rhetoric is flying, with one mass email from an organization saying that black lives do not matter in St. Louis, Missouri. I don't believe that, but I am sad that it can look that way, especially in our society where racism is still embedded in overt and subtle ways across our communities and institutions. I am sad that this process did not allow the evidence to go forward and leaves people wondering about its fairness, and certainly does not indict or exonerate anyone.

But mostly I am sad that Michael Brown is dead, that his family is grieving, and that the death of young black males by police still happens too often in our communities. And I am sad that a rite of passage in young black lives is to learn survival skills as they learn how to negotiate being out and about in the world and encounters with law enforcement.

I am sad that police will be painted by the same broad brush. And I am sad that Ferguson will continue be a beleaguered community, where nothing changes in the laws and habits which contributed to Michael's death, and also as a place for demonstration of rage from far beyond its borders.

The memories are about Philip Panell, a young black male killed by police in Teaneck, New Jersey during my years as a pastor there. Amadou Diallo, an African immigrant in the Bronx killed by thirty six police bullets reaching for his wallet, in the wake of which some of our pastors were arrested for taking part in demonstrations at the police headquarters.

Do we as a church have anything to say in a world which refuses to truthfully admit that we have a problem of race and poverty in our communities? Will our leaders in church and society have the resolve to face it with courage and hope? I'm sad, because tonight I am not sure.

My deepest sadness is for Michael's parents and family. May their child rest in the arms of our Good Shepherd.

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 25, 2014, 01:22 AM (0 replies)

The real danger of Ferguson . . .

[blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"][p]The fundamental danger of a non-indictment is not more riots, it is more Darren Wilsons.

— jay smooth (@jsmooth995) [a href="https://twitter.com/jsmooth995/status/537029716746960897"]November 24, 2014[/a]
[script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"][/script]
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 25, 2014, 12:38 AM (9 replies)

The Onion rings uncomfortably true for Ferguson

[font size=5]Heavy Police Presence In Ferguson To Ensure Residents Adequately Provoked[/font]
FERGUSON, MO—Ahead of a grand jury’s decision over whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, police in the city of Ferguson have reportedly heavily increased their presence this week to ensure residents are adequately provoked. “We’ve deployed additional officers throughout Ferguson in order to make absolutely certain that residents feel sufficiently harassed and intimidated,” said St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, assuring locals that officers in full riot gear will be on hand to inflame members of the community for as long as is necessary. “It’s absolutely essential that the people of Ferguson have full confidence that law enforcement is committed to antagonizing them every step of the way.” At press time, the Missouri National Guard was on standby with tanks and urban assault vehicles in case Ferguson residents required additional incitement.
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Nov 24, 2014, 06:09 PM (23 replies)

The Obama administration is pushing for redactions in the Senate's torture report . . .

I'm shocked -- SHOCKED, I tell you!

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Nov 19, 2014, 10:23 PM (5 replies)

The notion that Landrieu would have retained her seat if Keystone XL had been approved is absurd

The suggestion that Senator Landrieu's electoral fate is tied to the outcome of the Keystone XL vote is preposterous. She is in a runoff in which, prior to the pipeline vote, she was slated to most likely lose. That remains the case afterwards. Her gambit in forcing a vote on the issue has never been anything more than a last-ditch effort -- a "hail Mary pass" if you will -- and the suggestion that she would have retained her seat had the pipeline been approved amounts to groundless speculation. Surely, even the pipeline's most ardent supporters would have to credit her for giving it her best shot. And if they weren't willing to so credit her, then there remains serious doubt as to whether there is anything she could have done to gain their support.
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 18, 2014, 09:02 PM (43 replies)

Both the Congressional vote on Keystone XL, and the President's promised veto may be moot

From Bloomberg:

[font size=5]Keystone Be Darned: Canada Finds Oil Route Around Obama[/font]

So you’re the Canadian oil industry and you do what you think is a great thing by developing a mother lode of heavy crude beneath the forests and muskeg of northern Alberta. The plan is to send it clear to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast via a pipeline called Keystone XL. Just a few years back, America desperately wanted that oil.

Then one day the politics get sticky. In Nebraska, farmers don’t want the pipeline running through their fields or over their water source. U.S. environmentalists invoke global warming in protesting the project. President Barack Obama keeps siding with them, delaying and delaying approval. From the Canadian perspective, Keystone has become a tractor mired in an interminably muddy field.

In this period of national gloom comes an idea -- a crazy-sounding notion, or maybe, actually, an epiphany. How about an all-Canadian route to liberate that oil sands crude from Alberta’s isolation and America’s fickleness? Canada’s own environmental and aboriginal politics are holding up a shorter and cheaper pipeline to the Pacific that would supply a shipping portal to oil-thirsty Asia.

Instead, go east, all the way to the Atlantic.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Nov 16, 2014, 12:57 AM (1 replies)

NYT: Joan Rivers’s Treatment Had Numerous Violations, U.S. Inquiry Finds

If the medical errors in Ms. Rivers' treatment weren't bad enough, the then-medical director of the clinic, Dr. Lawrence Cohen, stopped by the operating room to snap unauthorized cell phone photos of her on the operating table and under anesthesia. A doctor at (what was supposed to be) a reputable clinic taking trophy photos of a celebrity patient -- just . . . .wow.

The article says Dr. Cohen no longer practices at the clinic, but I think the bigger question is, does he still have a license to practice medicine at all, and if so, why.

[font size=5]Joan Rivers’s Treatment Had Numerous Violations, U.S. Inquiry Finds[/font]

A Manhattan clinic treating Joan Rivers in August did not notice that her vital signs were deteriorating for at least 15 minutes before she went into cardiac arrest, leading to her death several days later, a federal investigation has found.

Released on Monday, a report said that Ms. Rivers’s blood pressure and pulse decreased precipitously while she was on the operating table on Aug. 28 between 9:12 and 9:26 a.m., yet cardiopulmonary resuscitation began at 9:28 at the earliest.

< . . . . >

Investigators also reported that Dr. Lawrence Cohen, then medical director of the clinic, took cellphone pictures of Ms. Rivers and Gwen Korovin, her ear, nose and throat doctor, while Ms. Rivers was lying on the operating table unconscious from anesthesia. Dr. Cohen told the others in the room that Ms. Rivers might want to see the pictures in the recovery room.

< . . . . >

As for the photographs, the report said, “There was no documentation of prior consent by Patient No. 1 authorizing her photographs to be obtained by the facility’s staff members during the procedure.”
Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Nov 16, 2014, 12:45 AM (1 replies)

A Party that loses an election and blames voters for not showing up at the polls . . .

. . . is rather like a widget manufacturer who blames consumers when his product doesn't sell. Just sayin'.

(On edit, and as stated in #38 below: I don't mean to suggest that voter turnout isn't crucial to winning elections. Of course it is. But low voter turnout is a symptom; it is not the disease itself. And so long as we remain focused on the symptom instead of addressing the condition that caused the symptom, that symptom will recur time and time again.)
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Nov 7, 2014, 06:09 PM (181 replies)

Got a lovely surprise today!

An old friend called to say he had an extra ticket to Tuesday night's performance of the opera, "Death of Klinghoffer" at the Met -- the controversial work by composer John Adams the performance of which has been met with protests -- and asking if I would be interesting in joining him. You bet I would! Very much looking forward to this!
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Nov 6, 2014, 11:34 PM (2 replies)
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