Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Racism, Still

The Gates story is inflating beyond control. For anyone who doesn't know, it seems that a distinguished Harvard scholar, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested for disorderly conduct during a confrontation with a Cambridge, MA police officer investigating a reported break-in attempt at Gates' home.

From the newspaper account and the police report it would appear that Mr. Gates became outraged that a police officer would question him about the alleged break-in.

On the other hand the police office was indeed called by someone who witnessed two black men on the front porch apparently trying to break into the home on Ware St. in Cambridge.

Mr. Gates allegedly yelled at the police that the only reason he was questioned was that he "was a black man in America". In my view Mr. Gates was overly sensitive to his race as the precipitating factor in the officer's behavior which angered the officer.

On the other hand the police office should have used more common sense, and as soon as Prof. Gates' identity was confirmed he should have simply apologized for the misunderstanding and left the premises.

My take is that they both were guilty of feeling insulted and not accorded the respect to which each felt entitled.

All in all, a petty and provocative reaction by a Harvard professor and an over reaction by the police officer. In any case the latest news is that the charges have been dropped. Good.

There is plenty of real racism against which to fight without diluting and trivializing what in my opinion, is still the biggest problem facing this country, true racism.

The President didn't help either. He should have taken the opportunity to encourage dialogue on this most important issue facing the nation. Instead he took sides after saying he didn't know all the facts in the case. A missed opportunity, in my view.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just Do It

Just how can any thinking person object?

I suggested some time ago that the Secretary of State modify the Voter Handbooks that are distributed prior to elections to include more information about the Proposals that appear on the ballot. Currently the information is expressed in limited terms, too technical and confusing to the average voter and neglects to present any possible negative consequences of the proposal.

I propose that the Handbook shall present explanations of each proposal, pro and con, drafted by supporters and opponents using language that is acceptable to the Secretary of State as being objective representations of each position.

Do we choose to know little or nothing about the matters before us or do we prefer making informed decisions on the matters that concern us?

If we read this and do nothing we have made our choice.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Needs Saying Again

I apologize to readers for bringing this up again but I believe that ethical government is the foundation of democracy without which everything else is window dressing.

Our Supreme Court has shown contempt for both Rhode Islanders and common sense in its recent 3-1 decision (William V. Irons v Rhode Island Ethics Commission).

It seems to me that unethical behavior of a legislator is of the greatest concern precisely where the Court claims it is no one else's business, during "speech and debate".

In 1986 the people passed by a huge majority, ethics legislation which amended the Rhode Island Constitution and the people have been ignored.