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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

What Happened to My Blog Pics?

It looks as if this morning both the pics -- the thumbnail of my house and the photo of me when I was four years old -- that all the while have been running in the upper LH corner of the first page of this weblog have, for some reason unknown to me, been summarily dumped.

And I wonder if I'm really up to going through all that's necessary to get them -- or others -- back up there.   It was no picnic when I was presumably eight or nine years smarter.

--Oops!   Now they're back up.   Just another one of Blogger's occasional blips?

Oh, well.   Maybe I've been spared from having to mess with something like that for a while longer.

Courtrooms and the Truth

To me, though not to most others, when you consider what the contending parties push for, it seems odd and even laughable that when one is asked to testify in a trial, first he is required to swear that while on the stand he will always speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  And he must absolutely keep to this oath, lest he be accused later and convicted of committing that great crime of perjury.  Witnesses are taken through that even though it must've been obvious ever since trials first came into use that they are not about arriving at the truth of the matter.  Instead they're about selling juries -- or whoever has the power of forming the verdict -- on the theories of the contending parties.  And what's worse, attorneys and judges insist on holding witnesses' feet close to the fire, though they may consider themselves to be in no way under the same constraints.

In a courtroom, so distant in time, location, and intentions from the incident under discussion, there can be no hope of ever finding out for sure what really happened anyway, unless somehow the whole thing was irrefutably recorded beforehand by some modern technology.  And in those settings, few if any -- whether participants or spectators -- ever think of how, quite often, the only person in the courtroom that has any shot at being in full possession of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is not at all one of the high-flying attorneys, the even higher-flying judge, a witness, or even one of the arresting cops waiting outside to put in his two cents.   Instead it's the person sitting with all appropriate humility in the defendant's chair.  Yet seldom is that person asked to testify.  

Aside from the fears of what might then be revealed about a client that the defense counsel has come to know all too well, the reasons for this avoidance  probably center around recognition of another inconvenient fact about trials and getting at the truth: there's no way to know how much the defendant might color his version of things in such a way as to support his plea of Not Guilty.  And that in turn is linked to the certainty that even if the defendant and all the witnesses called themselves being truthful to a fault, not much time has to pass before their own biases and their views of how things ought to be permanently distort their versions of how things really transpired.

So what happens is that, no matter how much it is set up to look like an exhaustive search for the truth, the trial instead actually becomes an elaborate ballet dance or a gymnastic competition, orchestrated with numerous moves consisting of arcane precedents protected by the dust of thousands of law libraries filled with tomes of the most deadly kind of reading.   And the lawyers and the judges do their well-practiced pirouettes, leaps, and flips while always watching to see which way their performances are swaying the ultimate judges -- the juries -- even if at the start those groups have been carefully selected by them, the performers.

Still there are times when injecting the defendant into the exercise might have its uses.   There might be something about the person that might make a good impression, even through the appearance of having been totally crushed by a prosecutor's intimidations.  And I would also think that, by being the most important person in the courtroom, the defendant would have collected the largest amount of gazes by far, throughout the proceedings, as everyone wondered what could be revealed there, if only probes of some kind could be inserted into his head.  Generally the audience, if not all of the contending advocates, would like to hear from him, no matter what.

But in the recently concluded Sanford, Florida trial, as in so many others, the star of the show was carefully kept off the stage.

Near the end of the testimony the judge did try hard to break that pattern, or at least seemed to, by ordering G. Zimmerman, the defendant, to take the stand.   But she was savagely rebuffed by the main defense attorney.

Despite the many thoughtless views that it was an option, a possibility, there was never the slightest chance that George Zimmerman would testify, and the judge backed down.   So the one person who was the closest by far to being in a position to know, and hopefully relate, exactly what happened that rainy night that left a teenager named Trayvon Martin lying shot dead on a sidewalk in Sanford was spared from being revealed, through his testimony, as being the mush-brained person that he so clearly is.

"--What?  Him, George Zimmerman, testify?   Not on your life, and certainly not on Trayvon Martin's life!"

It turned out that Zimmerman wasn't the only one that got away with murder during that trial.   So did that defense attorney, when somehow he escaped being punished severely for what appeared to be highly blatant contempt of court in vetoing the judge's order.  And so also did more than one of the defense witnesses in that badly off-kilter trial, when, after having contributed several thousand dollars each to Zimmerman's cause, they then were allowed to testify, too, as if to protect their "investment," in the course of which they said things that had all the appearance of touching on perjury for sure.

Despite all that Zimmerman and no one else had so clearly contributed to making that night the last one that Trayvon Martin would ever see, Zimmerman soon enough was let off scot-free, with many good wishes for the future heaped on him by the usual scoundrels of our society. 

Meanwhile no justice whatsoever was rendered to the murdered child, Trayvon Martin -- except in the clearest parts of the Public Eye.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Three Cubed

Today it's been exactly 82 years since I drew my first breath in this life.

At the start, and in all the years since then, no fireworks were ever set off, no brass band ever came marching down the street, no whistles were ever blown, no crowd ever roared in wild rejoicing of that occasion.

The best I can say is that I have taken due note of that fact.

Yesterday an unusual number of large, pretty butterflies of various races kept swooping about, down in my garden where I was working.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

It's Always Racism, Stupid

The prevailing denial of the prevailing fact in the U.S. -- racism -- mainly on the part of a much too large segment of the controlling so-called "white" population, but also smaller but still noticeable slices of other ethnic groups, even including some among the very people who have had to bear the lion's share of all that long-running, kneejerk hatred -- so-called "black people" -- causes me to awaken each morning with extreme discomfort.   This is because, despite all the nitwit statements to the contrary, no end to the racism is anywhere in sight, and though I don't like to predict anything, absolutely nothing exists to suggest that any end or even a light amelioration of it is even possible.  Instead it seems there is a better chance of being able to journey to Mars on an escalator tomorrow than there is for any "black" person (other than the completely deluded and also unscrupulous ones) to see a day when their presence in this land, more than that of any other group, will not be resented, deeply and completely.  And somehow, some way, they will keep hearing about it forever and anon, now that the continuous resentment of "white" conservatives to the double elections of B. Obama has made open expressions of racism so fashionable, 

One reason the Trayvon Martin case is so important, is that it bears out this contention so starkly.

The killing of Trayvon Martin was clearly a racially motivated capital crime, and yet the judge seemed to be collaborating with the defense in trying to prevent any mention of racial motives from being considered.  At the very beginning she decreed that the prosecution could not even use the term "racial profiling."

Still the fact remains that George Zimmerman, the self-appointed and clearly mentally challenged spotter, stalker, and eventual executioner of Trayvon Martin, would not have been the least bit interested in the youth if Martin had not been clearly identifiable as being of the despised hue, and Zimmerman indicated that by using "black" as one of the identifying characteristics of his quarry during one of the calls he made to the police.  And the state of Florida, one of the least enlightened of the states, would not have downgraded this essentially premeditated murder to the status of a non-capital crime if Martin had been the color of Zimmerman's father.

But Zimmerman did stalk and eventually kill the unarmed teenager in cold blood, confident that the consequences would be light to non-existent because his father is not only a so-called “white” person but also is, or was, some kind of a judge, and in that arm of the crime industry called "the Law," all -- or nearly all -- of its participants stick together.

Zimmerman had reason to feel especially connected with the police because, as came out in trial testimony, he was encouraged to appoint himself watchman over the community by a policewoman, even though the local neighborhood association kept itself clear of that.   No  matter.   It’s still well-known that the police pretty much have carte blanche to kill young, "black," males, and that after varying periods of inconvenience they will eventually be let completely off the hook under the aegis of that traditional and infamous police alibi:"justifiable homicide."

And that state of Florida did downgrade the charge against Zimmerman to second-degree murder, and so, because that is not considered to be a capital crime, the case is being tried not even with a jury consisting of the regular 12 members that one would expect but only half that number.   And furthermore all six are of the same gender, female, and only one is not "white," being Hispanic instead, like the defendant's mother.   And none, not even any of the four alternates, is "black."  In this day and time this sort of jury cherry-picking would seem to be improper and even illegal.   Can the lack of an outcry be as good a sign as any that no one really expects justice to be done in this case?   Not, at least, in Florida.

 All in all, going by the standards prevalent in most of the rest of the U.S., this is a miniature jury, filled with women who professed to have no prior knowledge of the case, and so it has been dubbed by some as "the Incurious Jury."

Nevertheless one wonders how could they not have known about the Trayvon Martin case?  At the time of the shooting, it was all over the national news, and for a while, too.   And as women, as mothers or potential mothers, wouldn't they have been interested in the central fact of some mother's child having been killed on his way home after having invested at a convenience store in nothing more than some tea and a bag of Skittles, even if that mother wasn't the preferred color?

This leads one to wonder next why hopefully uninformed people like this are considered by attorneys, whether on the defense or on the attack, to be the most desirable jurors?   The excuse in this case is something notably weak, notably that women have many other concerns to take care of, and so they have no time to be up on current events.  But, unless I am badly mistaken, being well informed is still considered to be a sign of real intelligence, and in all trials of any importance, especially those involving the death of a human being (and Trayvon Martin WAS a human being), wouldn't it be best to have people of real intelligence deciding the outcome, instead of a collection of pleasant and nice-looking know-nothings (if that is how these ladies were thought to be)?

But no.  The law, or the Constitution, or the Magna Carta, or somebody has decreed that juries must consist of one's peers, which I assume means people in the defendant's general situation in life.   And so it must have been decided by both the defense and the prosecution that these six ladies approximate George Zimmerman's peers.   The news didn't say so, and it may be malicious, but, looking at the defendant, I can't help wondering if they asked all the potential jurors how much experience they had had in riding to school in the short buses?