Friday, February 24, 2012
This Bea is Bell, wondering if the name Xavier Alvarez is familiar? If not let me enlighten you. He is a defendant in a case before the Supreme Court (US vs. Alvarez). Mr. Alvarez was an elected official of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Pomona, California. While attending one of their meetings he informed its members that he was a wounded veteran and that he had received The Congressional Medal of Honor. Some other medal recipients checked the Internet and found out that what Mr. Alvarez had claimed turned out to be a big lie. He had never even served in the armed forces.
As a result of that falsehood he was convicted of violating the 2006 Stolen Valor Act which prohibits lying about military honors and records. His lawyer appealed the conviction on the grounds of the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech. As a result the California District Court of Appeals struck down the verdict and it eventually reached the United States Supreme Court.
Now here’s the question. Do people have a Constitutional First Amendment right to lie? Lord, I should hope not! I can just see my granddaughter declaring her right of free speech whenever she got caught in a lie. Not that it would save her from any punishment, but I'm sure that she would think that it was well worth the effort.
From what I understand about this whole thing is that the problem the Supreme Court faces in making its decision is this: is a narrow law designed to prosecute specific lies constitutional? If that's the case, I think that "lying laws" should be directed at some of the biggest liars of all—Congress—no, make that politicians in general.
Imagine if the average citizen could "refresh" the memories of Presidents, Senators, Representatives, governors—all politicians—with evidence of their lies and have them convicted for those lies. I admit that everyone lies sometimes, but lies designed to deliberately conceal wrongful acts, immoral behavior and threats to national security all would be violations of the public trust and would therefore deserve convictions.
It seems that not all of the Supreme Court justices agree with the present Stolen Valor Act. Justice Sotomayor stated that just offending others by itself is not enough to justify limiting speech.
"So outside of the emotional reaction where's the harm?” she asked.
She seemed the least willing to accept the Obama administration's defense of the law. The argument is that the value of the highest award or any others is diminished because some people lie about having received them. I have to admit that choosing some lies over others sounds like a slippery slope to me.
So I guess I have to ask, do we make a federal case out of lying? Why make some lies against the law and not others? I don't envy the Supreme Court in deciding this case. I bet all of those lying politicians are glad that there haven’t been any "no-lying laws" directed at them.Too bad, I enjoy musing on that possibility, and that's no lie.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Hattie Collier here. If you’ve been following my friends and myself, you know that I am not the money wizard of our group. That’s not going to stop me from offering you a sound piece of investment advice.
Depending on where in the United States you live, all you need is $5 to $10, and two hours of your time. My investment tip: the movie Red Tails. This George Lucas film directed by Anthony Hemingway is the Word War II story of the first African American fighter pilots. The name Red Tails was the popular name given the pilots because of the bright red markings on their airplanes. These men were actually known as the Tuskegee Airman—Black pilots trained at Tuskegee University as an experiment to see if Blacks were capable of being aviators.
Now, just like I’m not a money wizard, I’m also not a movie critic, so this is not a movie review, yet I’m giving my opinion anyway. The way the characters talk in this movie doesn’t quite ring true and the story just scratches the surface of the true story, but at least the story is out there. So to get the most out of your time and monetary investment, adults should take their children or some other young person to see this movie
They will probably find it hard to believe that at one time in this country these young men had to fight for the right to fight for America. Black Americans had fought in this country’s wars since the Revolution. It borders on the ridiculous that they had to “prove” over and over that Black men possessed pride, bravery, courage and intelligence, but it happened. This movie might seem especially significant during Black History month, but as far as I’m concerned this is American history month.
The best part of the investment that you’ll make in going to see this movie is that it gives movie goers the chance to see that as people we may have different struggles in life but the human connection is the same. Love, hate, pride and fear are all human emotions and no matter the people or the culture, there are lessons to be learned in how obstacles are overcome in life.
Now here’s how to make your investment grow. Take the time to go beyond this movie and learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can learn about a subject from watching a movie. I’m talking about go to your libraries and getting books about these men. Do some research on the internet and if you’re lucky enough, talk to someone with knowledge of the events. After all, movies can’t capture all of the real human drama of a story.
It would be hard to loose on your investment on this one, especially if you take your kids. Not only will you spend time with them, but you may help them understand their place in the world, as well as teach them to value the contributions others have made in shaping it. That’s a lot for a few dollars and 2 hours of your time.
Just muse on that.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Connie Palmer here, and this week I have a rant that I can’t hold back. It’s about church ministers and how some of them have gone too far.
I read last week about one so-called minister—and yes I question his claim to that title—was crowned a “king”. Nobody seems to know what kingdom he is ruling as “king”. It seems to me that the only thing that he has control of are the minds of the members of his mega church, which reportedly number over 20,000 people. So I guess he was crowned king of his church. All I can say about that is the minds that he holds control over in his church need intensive therapy, because the people must be crazy.
I won’t even dignify this stupidity by providing the name of this so-called minister. Those of you who follow the news might know about it already. To those who aren’t familiar with the story it’s not worth going into detail, but I’ve just got to have my say about this.
I go to church most Sundays and I would call myself a woman of faith. I believe in a Higher Power, but I do not believe that power is given exclusively to any one individual here on earth. Having read and seen stories about the influence of religious institutions on all societies over time, it’s not hard to understand how we as Christians have come to the point where we adore ministers (and I include the pope, priests, bishops, cardinals and anyone else in this category). The result of putting these religious leaders on pedestals has caused some foolishness that is hard to understand.
This particular so-called minister is not only a hypocrite, but it’s obvious that he’s stupid as well. In making an apology to the Jewish community because the “king” had been wrapped in a Torah scroll while he was lifted up in a chair, he stated that “The ceremony was not my suggestion, nor was it my intent, to participate in any ritual that is offensive in any manner to the Jewish community or any group… Furthermore, I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord."
Oh really? He figured that one out after the ceremony huh? If I’m not mistaken, it was his butt that sat down in the chair, let the scroll be wrapped around him and offered no resistance as four men lifted him up on their shoulders.
I can’t help but wonder why people follow idiots like these? Remember the good Reverend Jim Jones and how more than 900 of his followers swallowed poison and gave it to their children because he told them to do so?
What is it, some sort of undiagnosed insanity in this nation that makes some people tolerate the excesses of some of these men of the cloth? I guess any one of them would feel like a king flying from place to place in a private airplane, living in palatial mansions and driving around in expensive automobiles, especially if these necessities are paid for by their churches. Mind you, I don’t have any objection to any minister owning these extravagances if they pay for them with funds they have earned from their salaries, royalties from book sales, speaking engagements, etc. My problem is when the church pays for these things. This sort of idiocy really angers me when these same religious leaders and their congregations have not been about the business of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and taking care of the real necessities in the community that too many religious institutions ignore.
I’m disgusted by what has happened among too many so called religious leaders, and even more so regarding their followers. I refuse to support any of these charlatans, and if that means that I’m headed to hell for taking such a stance, then so be it. I have no doubt that I’ll have plenty of clerical company among those flames. So muse on that!
Friday, February 3, 2012
I’ve been on this earth a long time and one of the advantages of having lived for eighty something years has been that I’ve lived through a part of the American history that my great-grandchildren are reading about these days. Nobody can put their spin on my reality. I’ve been there, done that and seen it.
As a member of a minority race in this country, I’ve come face to face with the "Colored Only" signs that are seen on TV in grainy black and white newsreels. Not only were they present in the South, where I come from, but in the North where I moved to later. I’ve seen them in restaurants, in hotels, in bathrooms, in public parks and in movie theaters. Shoot! I’ve seen them in hospitals and even in grave yards. During my lifetime, minorities have been discriminated against from birth to death. Now that’s hard-core when folks continue that segregation mess after you're dead.
It’s been something knowing that I’ve done my small part in helping make some of the changes for the better that eventually came about in this country. When my cousin, Susie, was walking ten miles round trip to and from work during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, I saved up and bought her two pairs of the most comfortable pair of shoes that I could afford and sent them to her with a note that read: Keep on Walking!
I was at the church, right here in my adopted hometown in the north, when in victory black folks held up the “White Only” sign that used to hang in the local amusement park. Before it was forced to integrate, black folks could only enter the park gates once a year.
Whenever he came to our city, I went to see Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak. Nearly every time he was here there was some sort of bomb threat, but I never let that stop me from going. When buses were organized to go to the March on Washington, my late husband and me were the first couple in our church to sign up. I was there when the “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered. I was also in Atlanta when they buried Dr. King. We drove all night to get there and arrived in time to stand with thousands of others outside of the church where his service was held. We also followed the mule-drawn wagon to his burial site.
Yes, I’ve lived a lot of the history and when I’m gone, and others like me are gone, there won’t be any more firsthand accounts about what really happened. That’s why Black History Month is so important. Any chance to discuss the contributions of all of this country’s citizens should always be encouraged. If things like Black History Month didn't exist, I’m sure that the history that I have lived and lived through would get lost due to lack of interest, or it might get distorted because people don’t like to hear the truth about what happened “way back then”. America doesn't like to talk about race. Too many folks think that if you talk about it then people will get upset.
There’s a saying that goes ‘the truth will set you free’. I say, let that truth shine, and learn as much as you can about the history that helped shape this nation—all of the history, good and bad. Now muse on that.