Monthly Archives: June 2015

After Further Review…

President Obama discussing the tragedy in Charleston.

Guns.

I have previously posted my position on guns and gun control. I maintain my core belief that firearms are a tool and that the tool is not the source of evil or the inherent problem. This is, in my opinion, a fundamentally logical argument.

It’s also an argument that I am now willing to abandon.

After further review, I believe it is time for comprehensive and aggressive changes to our gun control laws. This is a position that I have, for the majority of my life, been against. However, in light of recent events and in the absence of any other real substantive solutions, I am willing to argue for a constitutional amendment to dramatically alter the Second Amendment.

I don’t do this lightly. Although I have been painfully disappointed with several of President Obama’s decisions during the course of his presidency, I believe at the end of the day, he is a decent man, albeit severely lacking the fortitude to accomplish the many things he promised as candidate Obama. But on gun control and his speech after the massacre in Charleston, he got it right. This is the Obama I voted for.

It’s time. We as a nation must enact sweeping gun control legislation to limit the availability of firearms in our country. It must be done. Eliminating military grade, so-called “assault weapons” is a start, but sweeping legislation must be immediately enacted to control and restrict firearm purchases. Money must be spent to upgrade the background check process. EVERY firearm needs to be accounted for.

I hear the hue and cry from the right already and as a staunch opponent of giving the government any more of my information or usurping any more of my liberties, I have to say that I’m willing to take the proverbial bullet on this one.

It’s the only way.

We need to have the political fortitude to stand up to the N.R.A. and the right-wing fear mongerers and say enough is enough. Too much of our precious human capital has been reduced to so many police blotter statistics.

The killing must stop and I’m willing to compromise my core beliefs in an attempt to make this happen. How about you?


How Us against Them became Them against Us…

b235de65e2bdfccefd3e93121baf7170

I’ve been sitting on this post for the last several months. Not quite sure I could coherently articulate the confusion and rage I’m feeling about the current state of law enforcement in our country.

Here’s my story as it relates to my interaction with law enforcement.

I wanted to be one. As early as I can remember, I wanted to be a cop. I watched “Adam-12” religiously and yearned for the day I would be the one upholding all that is good and decent in our society.

As a young man, I bought a scanner and became immersed in police culture. When I turned 15 I decided I wanted to be an Explorer (Boy Scout program) for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. My dad drove me to the local sheriff’s station, I met with a deputy and learned about the program. I was on fire….

As we drove home, my dad was unusually quiet, but finally said this. “Son, I’ll support whatever you want to do, but I think you are too smart to get into this line of work. Not only that, but cops tend to develop an ‘Us against Them’ mentality that I’d hate to see you become part of.”

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I respected my fathers opinion a great deal and I eventually turned my interest to the Fire Department (goodbye “Adam-12”, hello “Emergency”) and it seemed that dad was reluctantly more accepting of this decision.

LONG story short: I became a Fire Department Explorer with LA County Fire…became a Paramedic in my early 20’s and ultimately served 16 years with a Fire Department, retiring in 2003 at the rank of Fire Captain.

Here’s how this ties into law enforcement. As a firefighter/paramedic…I was one of “Us”.

We, along with law enforcement, were on the front lines of saving lives and property and protecting the public. Those that would hinder our efforts were “Them” and they were to be mistrusted and dealt with as the threat to the fabric of our society we thought they were.

In my 26 years in public safety, I witnessed a great deal of illegal and often abusive behavior towards citizens at the hands of law enforcement. And I did nothing. In fact, I supported it. These were “bad” people and they were deserving of the street justice meted out at the hands of the cops. That’s just how it is when you’re one of “Us”…

Then I left that field. Prior to leaving I sensed a paradigm shift in public safety after 9/11. Suddenly public safety folks…cops and firefighters were “heroes”…and what I saw before I left was an unrealistic change in self-awareness in these fields. Cops and firefighters were becoming caricatures of themselves…they began to buy into the invincible, hero-worship syndrome and became increasingly arrogant and dangerous. Not all, but some…and as an institution, for me, the shift was undeniable.

Here’s the disclaimer before I go further: I’m painting with a broad brush here, and my exit from the fire department was the direct result of a (now resolved) problem with alcohol that, while not directly affecting my job, led to my employer asking me to resign. So take that into consideration as you evaluate my thoughts. Not all cops and not all firefighters are bad, or are anywhere near the way I’m portraying some in my experience. They both do an incredibly difficult, and yes heroic, job under quite difficult and anguishing conditions. Sadly, they have become victims on their respective institutions…

Here’s my beef. It’s the culture…the institution. It’s changed.

Us against Them had become Them against Us…

We, as taxpayers in a civil society, create law enforcement institutions to protect our communities. They are our employees and they work for us. At some point, the institution of law enforcement has forgotten this basic fact…

When two NYPD officers were killed, the rank-and-file openly showed their disgust for their boss, Mayor DeBlasio at the funeral services of these officers. They can disagree with the Mayor’s policies all day long, but the level of disrespect they showed the mayor is equal to the level of disrespect they show the taxpayer…their employers.

They’ve become entitled with an Us against Them attitude that literally leads to a “shoot first and ask questions later” mentality. We, as their employers, have allowed it to happen.

To be clear, this is not a 9/11 response syndrome. Police brutality and misconduct has been widespread for generations. The paradigm shift in recognition has been the direct result of technology…specifically cell phone cameras.

The officer that shot and killed an unarmed black man is the sentinel example. Here’s a case where a white officer shoots a black motorist after a traffic stop. The official story, a story that has been repeated countless times for decades in this country, is that the “suspect”…the black man, reached for the officer’s gun/taser. The reality, as caught on video, is quite different. We see the officer shooting a fleeing man in the back, then planting his taser on the man. If not for the video, the officer is back on patrol instead of facing murder charges.

If not for the video…

Law enforcement personnel have for years been allowed to cross the line, break the rules, stretch the truth. They have collectively lost all credibility. They have been allowed to be the alpha dog and escalate otherwise non-violent encounters into fatal and tragic events. A man is killed for selling cigarettes in New York. A 12 year old boy is shot for having a pellet gun in a park in Ohio.

And now this. Feras Morad…an honor student from one of my local high schools and community colleges, decided to try mushrooms one night in Long Beach. A dumb decision for sure, but one which was punished by the death penalty in Long Beach.

The African American community has dealt with this racial genocide for years. And we didn’t listen.

If the cold blooded murder of Mr. Morad doesn’t provoke outrage, then we deserve the fascist law enforcement that we have allowed to exist for far too long.

RIP Mr. Morad. I’m so so sorry, you became one of Us…


Skool Daze….

I’ve ruefully neglected this blog for the last several months.

I just finished 2.5 years at a community college (no really, I took my last final less than an hour ago) while in pursuit of a transfer to UCLA and the ever popular Bachelor of Arts in English.

To date (today), I’ve managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Um…pretty sure that ends this week when grades are released.

I’m 54 years young, work full-time and have been carrying just under a full-time schedule in school. This year, in order to satisfy the requirements of the Honors Transfer Program I’m in, I needed to take Elementary and Intermediate Algebra (all the basic Algebra leading into Stats, Calc, etc.) as well as Spanish I and II.

Two distinct languages to learn. Two VERY hard classes for me. Although I’m an English major, I triaged my time and concentrated primarily on Algebra. I’ve always suffered from major math anxiety, but through a ton of hard work, have actually learned to enjoy math this year.

Well right up until last Saturday when I had to take my final that would release me to UC level math (I need to take Honors Stats next Fall)…

Thank God I walked into that exam with a 96% because after the first problem, all the formulas in my head magically disappeared behind a veil of clinical panic.

I simply couldn’t remember simple formulas after I saw a problem I specifically decided NOT to study for…certain it wouldn’t be on the final.

I could go on and on about my anxiety and depression after the test, but suffice it to say I pulled my head out of my ass and put things in perspective.

What I did learn is my ego has carried my through this 4.0 journey and as with all things pride, I needed a knock upside the head. Time to quit relying on my ability to “see” the answer during these tests and actually put in more hard work than I have been willing to exert.

At the end of the day, if I do that, I will excel. If I don’t, I’ll continue to ride this tenuous GPA right into the ground.

So hello blog world. I’m back for at least the summer on a semi-regular basis to hone my writing and try desperately to forget logarithms and rational equations…

Goodbye 4.0…hello humility.


Jonathan latt

All the things you don't care about in one place!

theunravelingonion

learning life's lessons with an awkward giggle

L7 Bike Adventures

A couple's traveling adventures by bicycle

LADOT BIKE BLOG

Have fun while traveling, ride a bike!

Fisticuffs and Shenanigans

It was all fun and games, until the fisticuffs and shenanigans... -Deutschmarc

KingMidget's Ramblings

Pull up a chair. Let's talk.

Gino Michael Pellegrini

Education, Race, Mixed Race, and Multiculturalism

giorge thomas

Think it. Write it. Love it.

Biking in LA

Your best source for bike news around the corner. And around the world.

Cycling in NY

A blog from an average guy, cycling in NY

The Conejo Valley in the 70's & 80's

Sharing Photos And Stories About The Conejo Valley In The Good Old Days

Embedded in America

Adventures in Reason, Reality and Politics

eryn b good

trying to behave

All Seasons Cyclist

Real World Product Reviews For Avid Cyclists

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

The Playground

Presented by The Average Jim

Los Angeles Boudoir Photography

Documenting the human condition with sensuality and complexity