Tag Archives: civil rights

are you scared of underwear?

Over at the Smoking Gun, they have reported on an MTV interview with Barack Obama about the new ordinance in Riviera Beach, FL banning the “sagging” of pants, a style popular amongst the youth, the skate/surf crowd, and of course, the cause of all of the world’s problems: the hip hop culture.

 

The big questions for me: is the law against wearing your pants/shorts below what the government determines is your waist, or is the law against the exposure of underwear? If it’s all about the waist, who gets to decide where a 2008 American waistline should be? What if you were wearing gym shorts under your underwear, and just the shorts were seen or exposed? Are underwear really that offensive? Are seeing exposed, multi-colored boxers any different than seeing someone at the beach in board shorts? Don’t we see advertisements with people in their underwear on tv, magazines, billboards, newspapers, and in the mail everyday?

 

What if you were wearing shorts with extra big and long pockets that could be worn at the waist but are baggy enough they appear you are wearing them 3 inches below the waist? Is seeing underwear worse than seeing someone without a shirt on? What if you were trying to be a good citizen and your belt broke, and you were on your way to the store to purchase a new one? Would you get leniency? I’m not sure of their motives, but I’ve seen women’s attire be far more borderline indecent; I’ve seen people wearing bandanas look far more menacing; and I’ve seen t-shirts with words and sentiments are far more obscene. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t I allowed to wear a shirt that says “F*ck You”?

 

I’m curious how the statute reads. As a rule, all vague laws should be deemed unconstitutional. As a part of our due process in this country derived from the 5th and 14th Amendments:

If a person of ordinary intelligence cannot determine what persons are regulated, what conduct is prohibited, or what punishment may be imposed under a particular law, then the law will be deemed unconstitutionally vague. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that no one may be required at peril of life, liberty, or property to speculate as to the meaning of a penal law. Everyone is entitled to know what the government commands or forbids.

It’s fairly easy to pinpoint laws created to attack particular groups of people whether it’s the youth or black people. I feel everyone has the right to be comfortable in how they dress and choose their own appearance, as long as it isn’t causing harm to another citizen, or violates rules of private businesses or certain places because of the distracting nature (i.e. school, church, etc.) I remember when I was in high school, our administration actually voted and placed a ban on any t-shirts soliciting any association, promotion, or related imagery with Marilyn Manson. At the time, I remember thinking how ridiculous and insane that seemed to me, even as a 16-year old kid who knew very little about life and discrimination – but not caring because it wasn’t an injustice directed towards me. This was also around the same time when my mind started developing realizations that adults were not superheroes – they were just older versions of myself, capable of making the same stupid mistakes, having the same poor judgment, but clouded by preconceived perceptions, outside influences, and how their “neighbors” thought about them.

 

It’s not the president’s responsibility though to enter in and intervene in municipal politics. That’s what local politicians are for. Those people who oppose such gross misuses of power and government resources should be using their local voice to influence local politicians. Politicians that want to stay in office, do what the people nag them for – and if they know that the spectrum of people who decide if they get re-elected has ballooned, and more people are a part of the political process, then they will be more likely to cater to those groups. I hope people of all color and age, take their involvement in getting Barack Obama elected as a sign that we need to be more involved with politics on every level of government across the whole country.

 

Hopefully, people will see that for the most part, the things they did to support the presidential election and candidate, were not all that complicated or time-consuming. I’m glad that this election motivated and inspired people to register and join the political process, no matter what they’re reasons for doing so. More voices = more opinions = more chances of finding solutions. If you feel that strongly about it, the great thing about our country is that you can travel down to Riviera Beach, FL and do something about it.

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american culture vs. john mccain

John McCain caught me off-guard with one statement he made tonite:

It’s time to change the American culture.

Should the president, who is only one man in a nation of millions, have the right to shape American culture how he sees fit? Isn’t he there to serve the people? Shouldn’t Americans shape American culture? The president is merely supposed to be the figurehead guide for the political process. If the American people decide as an overwhelming collective that we want to celebrate and integrate into our American culture that October 16th will be “National Wear-Your-Underwear-on-Your-Head Day” – doesn’t the president have a duty to serve our interests and not his opinion of our interests?

Related Links: Find out which presidential candidate represents your beliefs the best.

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chris rock is one of my favorite americans, pt. 2

I wonder how strategic (if at all) it is for him to create that aura that he would never worry about being labeled a sell-out or ostracized for pointing out stereotypes of every race, and even pinpointing faults with his own sub-culture of our country’s culture.  He “gets it” when so many don’t. He gets to be himself, but at the same time look at himself from an outside perspective.  From that of the media, from that of the fans.  He gets to unwittingly have insight into perception. and instead of taking advantage – he mocks it, plays it down, and humbles every person listening to him in the room, whether intentionally or not.

On hard work via a monologue for his version of his childhood self: “Many people believe that you can succeed against all odds. And i believe that. I believe that the odds are, if you don’t prepare, you won’t succeed.”

Social commentary on gangster epidemic on the black community: “Why spend the next 20 years in jail…”

On the current road to the White House: “Now in real life, Giuliani is like a pitbull…he’s great when you have a burglar, but if you don’t – he just might eat your kids.”

Chatting with Jon Stewart: “There’s this weird McCarthy-ism going on right now.”

When Keeping It Real Goes Right

I also applaud Chris Rock for not falling trap to the #1 problem that so many celebrities, entertainers, famous people do…focusing on themselves, talking about themselves, shameless promotion of…themselves, to the point where it’s ridiculous really.  He keeps it real.  Can Dave Chappelle give him a “When Keeping It Real Goes Right” award or something?  This is why we should value our comedians. It’s rarely about them. It’s about us. What we do. Why we do it.  How funny it sounds that we do what we do.  I think Chris gets a bad rap when listeners say that he brings too much attention to race in America.

On police propensity to racially profile: “But this is what the cop heard…and he was black, and black black black black black black blackity black-black, and he walked with a black, and black black black…”

On overreactions of white-dominated media: “I always say there’s nothing that comes quicker than white praise or white scorn…and they’re both overreactions.”

Talking About Racism Creates Racism?

I’m glad someone does still reflect on racism in America, rather than everyone floating around on their 2008 high-horse like it wasn’t just a little over 50 years ago that America learned the name, Rosa Parks.  Let’s not act like some of the people who perpetrated grave racial injustices are not still alive.  Let’s not act like all his been diluted and it’s water under the bridge in just a short time frame stretching just from my grandparent’s generation to my own.  Don’t tell me we are an imaginary version of the Wiggles or The Teletubbies where it’s all “I Love You” and “you Love Me.”  I’ve watched with my own eyes the glaring reality when my middle-aged mother married her best friend of 20 years who happened to be black.  I’ve seen, my grandmother, with just one generation between us, who I would describe as the most devout “Christian” (as far as practicing, I suppose?)  I know, go from completely baffled to angry to resentment to uneducated to fearful to distant to intrigued to accepting to once again baffled, but this time about how she could have felt her earlier feelings about someone she has come to love.  Thank you, Chris Rock, for being one of my favorite Americans and saying what everyone else is thinking.

Tonite Chris Rock goes back to what made him so popular, his HBO specials.  Here’s a preview of where Chris’s mind is at in 2008 in our current world climate.  Consider yourself warned:

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read the economic bail-out proposal.

Download the US Government Economic Bail-Out Proprosal (pdf)

With reports that George W. Bush and Ron Paulson’s initial plan was only 3 pages in length, I suppose this 451 page monstrosity is a bit of an upgrade, or maybe just a bunch of legal jargon meant to hide the hidden gems.

Either way, SOMEONE (other than just our congressman’s least favorite assistant) has to read it…I’m not saying it’s going to be me. I say we get 451 people together and each read a page, then we discuss it amongst ourselves.

I call dibs on page 227.

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chris rock is one of my favorite americans, pt. 1

“When you tell a joke and everybody laughs, it’s not cause they disagree with what your saying. They get it.” -Chris Rock

Laughter is something triggered in our subconscious minds as a way of bonding and connecting with other people. It’s almost a universal “I get you” – and who hasn’t chuckled themselves through an embarrassing situation, brow sweating until it was over?

Chris Rock is one of my favorite Americans. As someone who values rebellious voices, Chris Rock is not only one of the loudest, he is one of the most concise and straightforward. No innuendoes, just honest observation. I can imagine him sitting back and marveling at how he has built a career on just “telling it like it is.” Of all the comedians and actors in showbiz, I think Chris Rock would be the most honest in a self-parody of themselves.

Speaking on Politics & Social Issues

On political parties and left and right wing extremists: “No normal decent person is one thing.”

On whatever happened to people just being crazy?: “The trenchcoat mafia…no one would play with us, we had no friends, we’re trenchcoat mafia. Hey, I saw the yearbookpicture, there was six of them. I didn’t have six friends in high school. I don’t have six friends now.”

On Obama: “Is America ready for a regular black guy to be president? Hell [expletive] no. But, is America ready for this extraordinary genius, charismatic guy…”

On the state of race relations between black people and the police in 1988: “So I hate life. Want to know why I hate life? Because I was born a suspect.”

We Can’t Be Just One Thing

I think, even if it’s subconsciously, Chris Rock sets a good example for other Hollywood stars. The reality of fame in our society is that people get famous because their personality exhibits something different. What happens though is that they end up becoming the cartoon version of that trait. There’s no balance – only the presumption that to maintain their status, they must give more of the same, only bigger and badder. I think an underlying theme of Chris Rock’s comedy has been people cannot be just one thing. I appreciate how he handles himself away from the stage, the “real Chris”, as well as how he transforms into his alter ego during routines.

I can see why so many other entertainers admire him. I feel as if he is the “one” that is idolized in the entertainment world by his peers. Certain tappers are always talking about themselves being a “rapper’s rapper” – the one whom those that share their craft are checking for. I think Chris is the comedian’s comedian – the entertainer’s entertainer, the celebrity’s celebrity. They all envy how he can thrive in an industry, with his own brand, and still speak his mind and say what they wish they could see, but don’t – for whatever reason, the fear of losing endorsements, fear of losing fans, fear of losing revenue, fear of losing stock in the celebrity world.

Chris Rock is the middle finger to the preppy, popular kid in school. The coolest is the one’s who don’t need to say their cool. The one’s who don’t even need to entertain the notion, because they know it’s irrelevant.

Satirical miracle? Or…Chris Rock, what’s wrong with his head, Doc?

Raunchy in the nth degree, perhaps just another example in his lifelong statement that he gets it, and he’s going to do his best to tell you about it. For your own good. I love how he deals with the media. I love the satirical tone. Too many people claim sarcasm nowadays, not knowing while satire and sarcasm are both mocking something, only one’s goal is to improve the situation brought up. Chris Rock can be borderline self deprecating, and in fact – it’s almost societal deprecation. But, he includes himself in that grab bag, too. it’s not an elitist commenting, passing judgment, criticizing, patronizing, celebrating societal woes, pointing the finger. He is more like a next door neighbor, talking about his week in our country, on what’s in the headlines, on things that piss him off, and things that make him laugh, just talking about it with his neighbor, standing by their property lines, cold beer in hand, almost reminiscent of the guys from King of the Hill. And he just might happen to say it like you’re running the lawnmower right next to him.

On rap music degrading women: “Women that like rap don’t care what they saying, if the beats all right, she will dance all night.”

On the difference between rich and wealthy: “Rich is something you can lose with a crazy summer and a drug habit.”

Unafraid to host the Oscars and tell the truth: “See at least they make movies for white people to enjoy, real movies with plots, with actors, not rappers. With real names…like, say “Catch Me If You Can”, “Saving Private Ryan”. Black movies don’t have real names. We get names like “Barbershop.” That’s not a name, that’s just a location. “Barbershop”, “The Cookout”, “The Carwash”…they been making the same movie for 40 years.”

On government backing of the pharmaceuticals industry: “They don’t want you to use your drugs, they want you to use their drugs.”

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See Part 2.

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