Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cory Monteith, George Zimmerman, Paula Deen, Asiana Airlines, and the hole in the ceiling...

I was shocked and saddened to hear about the untimely drug related death of Glee star Cory Monteith.  Though I had quit watching Glee some time ago, I thought Monteith was very talented.  It's a pity that he died so young and with so much life ahead of him.  I'm sure he could have done a lot more had he not been involved with drugs.  May he rest in peace.

Last night, the Internet was abuzz with peoples' reactions to George Zimmerman's acquittal.  I'm not sure how I feel about it myself.  I haven't been following the trial.  Though I did hear about Zimmerman's poor decision to shoot and kill 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, I don't know all the details of the case.  There must be a reason the jury acquitted him.  Many people seem to think it was because Zimmerman isn't black and Martin was.  I'd hate to think that was the case; but again, I didn't follow the case very closely and don't know all the facts.  All I can do is speculate... and really, all anyone who wasn't in the courtroom and didn't hear the evidence can do is speculate.

I doubt Zimmerman is going to get much peace, at least not in the near future.  If he thought his life was in danger when he shot Martin, I think he's really going to feel endangered now.  Someone is likely to want to exact revenge.  Whatever his reasons for shooting and killing that young man, I think he will pay for it, even if it's not in a prison cell.

I like to think that our justice system works.  When someone like Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson, or George Zimmerman gets acquitted of a serious crime like murder, a lot of people get very upset and start yelling about travesties of justice.  Some people even take to the streets and riot.  But if the tables were turned and one of these people were themselves being tried for a crime, they would want a fair trial.  They would want everything considered before they were sentenced to prison.  Few people would voluntarily sign up to go to prison just so the public would be more satisfied with unpopular verdicts and there wouldn't be riots.

Zimmerman presumably had a fair trial.  I know a lot of people don't think justice was served because he wasn't convicted.  But that is how our judicial system works.  He was acquitted by a jury of his peers who vowed to consider the evidence only, not what was reported in the media and the court of public opinion.  Anyone else being tried for a crime would hope for the very same thing.

The idea that innocent people can and do go to prison or even get executed for serious crimes makes me think that we should take great care in prosecuting people.  There should be justice for victims, but not at the expense of fairness toward the accused.

As for George Zimmerman, it's true that he did kill Trayvon Martin.  Based on what I've seen, he wrongly took the law into his own hands.  Zimmerman evidently believed Martin was a threat to him.   He misjudged the situation.  If I only listened to media reports and read my friends' opinions, I would probably convict Zimmerman.  But I wasn't privy to what the jury heard in the courtroom.  I didn't examine the evidence like they did and wasn't asked to determine whether or not what he did fell within the parameters of murder or manslaughter.

There must have been a reason they acquitted him when the court of public opinion tried him and found him guilty.  Maybe someday, more of the truth will come out.

Moving on...

I read that Paula Deen's cookware is now in the clearance bin.  It occurred to me that while many people think it's good and just that Paula Deen's empire is crumbling, a lot of other people, many of whom are perfectly innocent, are going to be negatively affected by all this backlash.  Paula Deen provided a lot of jobs for people.  From those who work in her restaurants, to the people who make her cookware, to the truck drivers who brought it to the stores... even the people who sold her stuff... these people are all going to pay for Paula Deen's poor judgment and the fact that she's fallen from public favor.

Reading the comments on that iReport article on CNN, I think there are still a lot of people who think this outcry is a bit of overkill.  I think Deen was wrong to be racist, but the fact is that there are very few people in the world who don't have a racist bone in their bodies.  Most of the people screaming about her use of the n-word are at least somewhat hypocritical.  Everybody judges.  It's a survival technique.

It would be great if we lived in a world where we could all be completely non-judgmental and could trust that we wouldn't later regret not being more discriminatory.  But the fact is, almost all of us pre-judge others based on our perceptions of them.  Most of us know that there are certain words that should never be used in polite company.  And the more money and fame you have, the more you're looked at as a role model and the more careful you have to be about what you say and do.  Paula Deen is no doubt finding that out now.

Continuing on the racism theme... Did you hear about the bogus names supplied to a news outlet about the Asiana Airlines pilots?

I first heard about this from a man I know who is himself a pilot.  He sent me the above YouTube link. I have to admit, my first reaction was laughter and then shock.  I didn't think about the people affected by the tragedies or the fact that the offensive names were racist.  I reacted to the sick humor and the fact that someone with a very dark sense of comedy managed to sneak these names past people who should have been more on the ball.  I mean, didn't anyone read these names aloud and realize that they had to be bogus?  I wonder if the prank was worth it to the perpetrator?  And again, I wonder how many people lost their jobs because someone decided to be funny?

It was a pretty good prank, I guess.  I probably wouldn't feel that way if I had been one of the victims or related to one.  This prank is tasteless, but sometimes black humor helps people make sense of the senseless.  I just hope pulling that prank was worth it, because I think there's going to be a lot of fallout.  

The hole in the ceiling...

The hole in the ceiling was checked out yesterday by a couple of handymen.  They think it was caused by a vent that was aimed in the wrong place.  They supposedly fixed the leak and will patch the hole after we leave.  Every time these guys come over to fix something, they remark that this house is weird.  I quite agree. 
Finally...  have a look at my travel blog if you have a moment.  Today's post might make you go "Hmm..."


  1. I didn't follow the Trayvon Martin case closely, but I did listen to some of the pundits at the end of most days. Other than Nancy Grace, who believes anyone ever charged with a crime is automatically guilty, there seemed to be a fairly heavy collective sentiment that the state lacked evidence to convict if the jury was really catching everything that was presented. The state didn't really want to pursue the case in the first place but was forced into it by public pressure. A sequestered jury (and ideally a non-sequestered jury) isn't hearing the opinions of pundits and is only as smart as the smartest juror can convince the dumbest juror to be. (It reminds me of Vinnie Politano, one of the TV pundits, discussing how, in a trial in which he prosecuted, a note came back from the jury to the judge. The note read "What does 'unamous' (sic) mean?". You get some really conscientious citizens on juries, but you can end up with very ignorant jurors as well.

    My mom has served on seven panels, and she said on every one, she was impressed with the seriousness with which everyone on every panel took the job and how hard they tried to do their very best. Some jurors were brighter than others, she said, and had greater ability to process the evidence as presented and to come to logical conclusions, but everyone was committed to seeing that justice was served.

    I understand that such probably isn't the case with every jury panel. Sometimes what you have is the proverbial six (or twelve in California; in Florida there are only twelve if it's a potential capital case) people who were not smart enough to get out of jury duty.

    My Aunt Jillian is an attorney. She's a rookie and hasn't tried anything more serious than DUIs and a domestic violence case, although she sat second chair for the prosecution in a manslaughter case, but she has more perspectve than I. She said the OJ case came up several times in law school lectures, and it was a simple case of jury nullification, with Mark Fuhrmann's perjury being part of their justification, and with it also being in retaliation for the acquittal of police officers who beat Rodney King (who were later found guilty in federal court). She said her professors' consensus was that the defense had far more resources and were able to pack the jury with people favorable to the defense, and then to systematically eliminate jurors who might have been advantageous to the prosecution. The state made a huge error in having OJ try on the glove, as you NEVER ask a witness a question to which you don't already know the answer(you hear that on Law & Order all the time), and having OJ try on the glove for the first time in court was the equivalent of that. Then Johnnie Cochran's, "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit" slogan, reminiscent of a line from an African-American preacher's sermon, resonated heavily with the eventual 12-member panel that acquitted O.J. It was largely, she said her professors concluded, a case of a defendant getting as much justice as he or she could pay for.


  2. My aunt said in the Casey Anthony case, it was likely the result of a not-terribly-intelligent jury. She said the state did its job and the evidence was there, and all the red herrings the defense threw out for consideration were just that, and that an intelligent jury would have seen through them and dismissed them as such.

    My aunt said in jury instructions in criminal cases in California, usually the judge quotes the statistic that it's better that nine guilty defendants go free that that one innocent defendant be convicted. That's nine to one, not 999 to 1, but still, the point is that justice should be weighted in favor of the accused. Jillian said the jury got it right this time in her opinion. She said it will be interesting when a civil case is filed. The verdict may be the opposite, as the burden of proof in civil cases is "preponderence of evidence" vs. "beyond reasonable doubt."

    I'm on the fence where the right to bear arms is concerned, but clearly none of this would have happened if either A) George Zimmerman did not have a gun or B) he didn't have the right to conceal his weapon, and Trayvon Martin knew he had a gun. George Zimmerman's brother made the comment that George "just wants his old life back." I don't want to be the one to tell him, but that's not likely to happen.

    I'll check out your travel blog.

    P.S. With all due respect to the deceased and their relatives, I found Channel 2's error too funny for words, as did my dad. (We must have dark senses of humor.) Didn't SOMEONE in that newsroom with at least half a brain read through the copy? Furthermore, that's also what happens when a news organization doesn't confirm a source in its quest to be the first to break a story.

    My mom has several Mary Tyler Moore show DVDs. In one episode, it was Mary's task to update the local celebrity obituary file, which wassomething they kept on hand so that when a local celbrity died, they were ready with the info and didn't have to start at ground zero in composing an obit. Mary took the file home with her. Rhoda came over and decided to "help." They ended up wirting ridiculously silly things about ever local celeb who came up. Then Rhoda went home, and Mary did the actual job, but somehow the bogus ones made it into the file as well. The next day, some local clown died. Ted Baxter grabbed the bogus obit out of the file, and even as he was reading it, didn't pick up on any of the humor, and continued in his deadpan voice, while everyone on the newsroom floor was practically going into cardiac arrest. Mary almost got fired over that.

    1. I thought Channel 2's error was funny too. Like I said, I laughed when I first saw it. I have a very dark sense of humor. But then I started thinking about it and saw the other side of it. I didn't see it so much as racist as I did as tasteless... but then, I would be a terrible hypocrite if I said I didn't often find tasteless humor very funny. The truth is, I do. I guess I just felt a little ashamed of it. Maybe I shouldn't be ashamed by the things I think are funny...

      And I totally agree that in their rush to out scoop the competition, they royally fucked up. It wasn't just the prankster's fault that this happened... which is why I think there could be more people losing their jobs. This was way funnier than that guy who accidentally said "fucking shit" live on the air as he was about to deliver his first newscast.


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