IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to the urgency of the subject matter, I am rerunning last week’s story to include an update about Eric Garner (Staten Island Man killed by NYC policemen in apparent chokehold for selling loose cigarettes) and Tamir Rice (twelve-year-old murdered by Cleveland police in possession of an airsoft BB-gun). The subject matter of judicial imbalance, racial injustice, and an overall “come to Jesus” meeting needed in America about racism in general is much too important to abandon just yet for the fluff Christmas post that I originally intended for this week. New dialogue and cartoons have been added to the storyline.
Do you know what I discovered this week? While I was away cheating on my vegetarian diet with stuffed turkey and the works, three conspiracy theories from the “man on the street” were texted to me by my roving news hounds who send me blog ideas each week:
#1. Bill Cosby accused of murdering Dr. Cliff Huxtable. A dear, sweet, African-American actor has been set up by “The Man” (a.k.a. white people) who don’t want black folks to be rich and famous.
#2. Ferguson Grand Jury decision purposely delayed from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. to give time for media incitement from both the Left and the Right to ignite bad behavior to fire up dull news cycle (puns intended): (“Ferguson is a powder-keg! Will it blow tonight? Will people manage to stay calm in all their pent-up anger, frustration, and disappointment?), proving once again that “The Man” doesn’t want black folks to have nice things.
#3. Eric Garner Grand Jury refused to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for allegedly using a chokehold on an overweight black man for allegedly selling loose cigarettes because they hate fat people and love cigarette taxation. Also, it is clear that Obama is trying to start a race war.
#4. Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann (white), who shot and killed twelve-year-old Tamir Rice (black), is said to have been a “righteous” policeman who resigned from the Independence, Ohio police department for what CNN cites as a “dangerous loss of composure during live range training.” The Cleveland Po-Po—always a model of law enforcement across America (I know because I was born and raised there)—hired Officer Loehmann without checking his previous employment records. Why? The conspiracy theory is that this is Cleveland’s way of endearing itself to its minority population and maintaining its title of “The Mistake On the Lake,” and once again, Obama is trying to start a race war, people!
#5. Husband of author of Monsters’ Throwdown lodges a complaint with the Homeowners’ Association and his wife that his house is trying to assassinate him. He says his house is no longer a home because it has joined in conspiracy with his car, the appliances, the plumbing, the electricity, and the gas to eat up his retirement funds and rob him of all peace and joy.
Used by permission: Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com
I’ve got to tell you that the conspiracy theories brought to my attention within the past twenty-four hours have really done me in. I’m horrified on all accounts, and I really don’t know what to think or how to deal with them. One would think that the conspiracy theory that is close to home—my husband WW’s agitation with our home and its inanimate objects—would be manageable. I thought so too until my very intelligent but not-so-handy-handyman decided to take matters into his own hands.
I had just settled down at my desk to put together an outline for my blog, and as I sometimes do, had set up a list of four words that randomly popped into my head (three had come to mind, but I was still searching for the fourth) to focus my mind on the subject matter that I wanted to explore:
At that exact moment, I saw my husband (WW) march past my office door replete with a fully-stocked tool belt, workman’s glasses, a workman’s hard hat, and a pneumatic nail gun. Curious, I stopped typing mid-sentence…
ME: Babe, where you going looking like one of the Village People?
WW: Installing a dimming switch for the dining room chandelier for the holidays. I thought we could use more ambience.
ME: Really? Okay. But it looks as if you’re going to singlehandedly build a three-story house with all those tools while simultaneously dancing to “YMCA.” I don’t know much about nail guns, but I never heard of one being used to install a light switch. Don’t you use that particular tool to lay down wooden floors? Are you sure we shouldn’t call an electrician?
WW: Why? Any idiot with half-a-brain can do this simple task. I’m Mensa, I speak four languages, I’m college-educated, and I can read the damn instructions on how to install a dimmer switch. If I call an electrician, he’ll charge me an arm and a leg. I’m tired of being ripped off.
ME: All right, Honey. I need to get back to my blog. But yell if I can lend a hand.
With a great deal of trepidation, I returned to the outline of my blog. As I researched the stories of Bill Cosby and the alleged rape allegations (cried a bit at the betrayal of my trust by an idol) and Ferguson’s Grand Jury decision and subsequent riots (screamed and yelled a great deal on both accounts), I suddenly heard a piercing scream (“AAUUGH”) from my husband followed by a string of swear words in four different languages: “Khayim ba-zevel [Hebrew], yup tvayoo materi [Russian], merde [French], skurwysyn [Polish], goddamnit!” When I ran to see if WW was okay, I could smell the fried hair and see the smoke emanating from his head. He had gotten an electric shock and actually lived to tell about it.
Google Image: Respect Electricity Cartoon Stock
Any wife that has been married as long as I have, knows that watching her husband’s head smolder from his electrical misstep is not the time to say “I told you so.” But as I returned to writing my blog, I suddenly realized I had a fourth word to form the arc of my story: electricity. Integrity, Justice, Humanity, and Electricity. There was a story revolving around those four words with Bill Cosby and Ferguson, but I just couldn’t see it yet. Just as a light bulb flashed within my head with an idea, an actual light bulb in the ceiling fan exploded above my head. This time I was the one who did the screaming!
My resident handyman with blond electrical-spiked hair came running, took out a pair of tweezers-plyers from his tool belt, and began to advance toward the offending light socket with bold determination.
“NOOOOOOOO,” I screamed. “Call an electrician!” (It turned out that the entire fan needed overhauling—not just a socket change—and if I hadn’t spoken up when I did, WW would have destroyed the entire computer board in the fan and the remote with his limited knowledge of electricity and his do-it-yourself plan.)
When my husband came back from scheduling the electrician, I asked him if he’d told on himself about his electrical mishap and what the electrician had said. WW said that he had—with chagrin—told on himself, and all the electrician could say was: “Electricity is not a hobby, Mr. Tomczyk.”
EUREKA! That was the storyline for my blog: Integrity, and justice, are like electricity which equals humanity. These character qualities are not to be engaged in casually—they are not a hobby! It was with that clarity of purpose and mind that I set out to unravel the things that bothered me about two of our most recent American tragedies.
Used by permission: Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle
THE ELECTRICITY HEARING OF THE FERGUSON DEBACLE
INTEGRITY: To the members of the Grand Jury, my fellow prosecutors and I are here to bring clarity to the actions of the players in the recent Ferguson insanity. Why are very few of our blogger’s peeps (African-American and liberal commentators) talking about the thuggish actions of Michael Brown (captured on a security camera) robbing a convenience store in his community of cigars and shoving the store owner who tried to stop Mr. Brown before his encounter with Officer Wilson? The eighteen-year-old was someone’s son, but he was not Trayvon Martin, innocently walking back home after purchasing Skittles and iced tea and gunned down by an overzealous, wannabe cop with a racist mindset. Treating Michael Brown like a hero is a mischaracterization of the truth.
HUMANITY: Hold on Integrity. Brown’s misbehavior didn’t justify him being gunned down in the street and left there for four and a half hours while residents of the community walked by in horror and children burst into tears at the sight of a man lying in a pool of his own blood and policemen sauntered back and forth contaminating the crime scene. Why didn’t Officer Wilson aim for the knees if he felt threatened—why the “kill shot”? Why didn’t other officers get an ambulance to the scene ASAP?
INTEGRITY: True, true. But Humanity, why didn’t the prosecutor recuse himself from this case coming from a home whose father-cop had been murdered by a black man when the prosecutor was twelve years old? That would have been the righteous thing to do because no one could be impartial given those very personal circumstances—no one. Why did it appear that the prosecutor shredded his integrity by acting as Officer Wilson’s defense lawyer rather than a prosecutor guiding the grand jury to take the case to trial? Maybe the outcome would have been the same, but at least it would have appeared to be unbiased.
JUSTICE: Why were protestors burning, looting, and destroying their own community? What does a 70-inch looted TV, a trashed bakery shop, and a torched beauty supply establishment in a place where you live have to do with justice not served? The President called for calm. The grieving parents of Michael Brown called for calm. That was all that needed to be said or done that night. There is a battle of integrity ahead against the realities of a middle-class area that has slipped into poverty and an out-of-control police force (replicated across America), but the integrity of the rule of law must be obeyed or we’re all screwed at some point.
Used by permission: Mike Keefe, Cagle Cartoons
JUSTICE: Most policemen are good peeps, but we have a problem with too many of them who act as judge, juror, and executioner—especially against minorities. Our blogger is a chubby-ass, upper-middle-class, educated, sophisticated black woman married to a white man. But she never leaves home without identification and looking like a million bucks—even to take out the garbage. Why? Because she has been questioned by white policemen more times than she can count for being in the “wrong area” at the “wrong time” in multiple states. During each encounter with a white policeman, she was where she was supposed to be—either checking into a five-star bed and breakfast, or she just lived a few houses away and had gone out to smell the roses. And yet, not one of her white friends or acquaintances (including her husband) has ever, ever suffered these types of indignities—not even once. And yet it is commonplace for her as a black woman. The pain of this degradation runs deep amongst African-Americans, and it is not something that should be ignored or trivialized by their white brothers and sisters. Work still needs to be done for all races in America to feel as if they are treated equally.
HUMANITY: I want to know why did the policeman, Darren Wilson, not show one shred of humanity toward the Brown family for the loss of their child when he was being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos for ABC? I think it would have gone a long way to ease a tiny bit of pain in Ferguson, if when asked by the interviewer if he had any regrets, the officer had conveyed remorse at having killed a child of grieving and devastated parents. Instead, Officer Wilson said matter-of-factly (as if he had simply squished a bug), “no—I did what I was trained to do.” He said his conscience was clear and he would do it again. Really? I speak as the world’s humanity, and I state that the taking of a life should always give humans pause—even if it’s within their purview as a soldier or a policeman. If humans are graced with even a shred of humanity, killing another human should never be matter-of-fact and comfortable.
INTEGRITY: I tell you one thing: This is anything but Martin Luther King’s dream.
Used by permission: John Cole The Scranton Times Tribune
THE ELECTRICITY HEARING OF BILL COSBY’S MURDER OF DR. CLIFF HUXTABLE
INTEGRITY: To the members of the Grand Jury, my fellow prosecutors and I are here to establish clarity surrounding the recent allegations of Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable’s assassination by Mr. Bill Cosby. There must have been agents, managers, producers, other comics, actors, directors, and even Cosby’s wife who knew or suspected Bill Cosby’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde split personality and turned a blind eye. (I know the comedian is innocent until proven guilty, but there is much too much smoke for there not to be a fire here—a reported 19 and counting 21 and counting rape accusations.) Where was the integrity of “good people” who kept this sordid tale so well hidden for so long—somebody besides the victims knew something? Cosby’s integrity seemed to be shoved up in a place where the sun don’t shine when he self-righteously preached to young black males to “pull up your pants,” “read a book,” “fix your grammar,” and “stop having babies out of wedlock” on his big papa lecture tour after writing his infamous book Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors? (As if droopy pants are the equivalent of drugging and raping women.) The Associated Press once credited Cosby with a great line about integrity:
“For me there is a time … when we have to turn the mirror around,” he said. “Because for me it is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in your hole you’re sitting in.”
I say, Mr. Cosby, I think it is time to turn your own goddamn mirror around!
JUSTICE: Integrity—that was a bit much. Cool it, Sista! Remember, the demise of the beloved Dr. Huxtable by the hands of his creator is simply hearsay until proven otherwise. I will say though that justice deferred is definitely justice denied, but in the scope of eternal justice, be sure human sins will find them out. The rape allegations against Bill Cosby may have skirted the Statute of Limitations, but they are not beyond that of public opinion—thus the recent cutting of ties between Cosby and his alma mater (University of Massachusetts Amherst), the halting of lucrative projects with NBC and Netflix, his forced resignation from Temple University’s Board of Trustees, and the Navy’s stripping of Cosby’s honorary title as chief petty officer. I suspect there will be more.
HUMANITY: You think!? (That’s sarcasm in case you didn’t notice!) We all should be furious. Even if those women were misguided or naïve, the at least 19 and counting 21 and counting rape allegations were someone’s daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, or niece. In another place, in another time, these could have been any of Cosby’s four daughters and the alleged rapist some other man who had turned his back on basic humanity.
INTEGRITY: Well, I have to admit that I am pissed and hurt, and it will take a long time for me to get over it. Another one of my torch bearers bites the dust!
Used by permission: Mike Keefe Cagle Cartoons
THE ELECTRICITY HEARING OF A LOOSIE CHOKEHOLD AND A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD TAKE DOWN
JUSTICE: To the members of the Grand Jury in NYC, my fellow prosecutors and I have come before you with broken hearts. You had a tape, you saw and heard an innocent man without a weapon say “I can’t breathe!” eleven times. Yet you failed to indict the police. I ask you Grand Jury of NYC, how much is a man’s life worth in loose cigarettes? I, justice, have come undone.
INTEGRITY: You’re undone? I can’t stop crying over the death of a twelve-year-old who goes outside to play with a toy gun (maybe not the smartest move on the part of his parents to allow him to do this—still, did he deserve to die over a slip in judgment?), and he is shot within minutes of police arriving on the scene after they were warned that the gun might be a toy by the 911 caller. And get this: Twelve-year-old Tamir was shot by Police Officer Timothy Loehmann who had resigned from another force for what CNN cites as a “dangerous loss of composure during live range training” and an “inability to manage personal stress.” Deputy Chief Jim Polak’s review gave this final assessment: “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.” But, hello! Cleveland hired Officer Loehmann anyway without a thorough background check. WTF?!
HUMANITY: Yikes! Looks like America the beautiful has a problem! It is time for all good people in the land to come together and admit there are racial inequities that must be addressed instead of turning a blind eye and allowing the miscarriage of justice to sweep them under the proverbial carpet. The question that must be asked is “if that had been a twelve-year-old white boy with a toy gun, would he still be alive today? If the answer is yes, then America, you do indeed have a major humanity problem!
Used by permission: Milt Priggee, http://www.miltpriggee.com
I am discovering that integrity and justice are like electricity, and electricity equals our humanity. Without the illumination of a clear sense of humanity coursing through our society, there can be no cohesive and compassionate community, and there will never be a post-racial environment in America. Ignoring these righteous qualities will cause us to constantly be at each other’s throats because of inhumane miscarriages of justice and threatening to burn the motherfucker down at every turn.
If we continue to undervalue individual integrity married to humanity, men will continue to rape women with impunity while society and the law turns a blind eye, and justice will be something that we only read about in fairy tales.
I am also discovering that integrity, justice, and humanity are not hobbies—they are the electricity of life.
“Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”—Dennis Prager
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”—Frederick Douglass
“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”—bell hooks
“We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity. A candle, a good candle, provides barely a hundredth of the illumination of a single 100 watt light bulb.”—Bill Bryson
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