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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

September 27, 2007

how we treat “those people”

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 1:53 pm

QkeyNs sKeyNs A number of recent news items are simply too important to ignore. Our quickie treatment is related to the f/k/a Gang’s energy level, and not the importance of the issues, which include the treatment of immigrants, sex offenders, Iraqi war refugees, and the Jena Six:

  • The New York Times reported that “Towns Rethink Laws Against Illegal Immigrants” (Sept. 26, 2007), in an article that focuses on Riverside, NJ, which enacted legislation a year ago “penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant.” As a result, “Within months, hundreds, if not thousands, of recent immigrants from Brazil and other Latin American countries had fled,” but

    “With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.

    “Meanwhile, the town was hit with two lawsuits challenging the law. Legal bills began to pile up, straining the town’s already tight budget. Suddenly, many people — including some who originally favored the law — started having second thoughts.”

  • In what Robert Ambrogi calls a “blawgosphere coup,” the ImmigrationProf Blog has posted an “Exclusive Interview with Sen. Barack Obama” on the issue of immigration (Sept. 25, 2007). There are some interesting, mostly partisan, comments at the weblog. As part of his response (5 pp, pdf) to the proffered questions,
    Obama had this to say about Local Immigration Ordinances:

    I understand the frustration at the local level with the federal government’s failure to manage immigration. But managing immigration is a federal responsibility. These laws tend to lead to unintentional discrimination against Latinos and turn regular people into immigration enforcement officials. This is a national problem and it requires a national solution.

    The anti-immigrant law passed by Mayor Barletta [in Hazelton, PA] was unconstitutional and unworkable [and struck down last July by a federal district court in Lozano v. Hazelton] – and it underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform so local communities do not continue to take matters into their own hands. We cannot put this off any longer. The ongoing problems with our immigration system are dividing our country, and distracting us from the work we need to do in other important areas such as health care, education, and jobs. We need to act urgently to create an immigration system that secures our borders and enforces our laws, reflects our best traditions as a nation of immigrants, and upholds the values and ideals that all Americans cherish. I have been fighting for that kind of system for several years now, and I will continue fighting for that kind of system until we pass comprehensive immigration reform once and for all.

a day without a mexican,” 2004 (discussed ad agitam in this post)

small town
my accent starts
a conversation

…………………. by Yu Changfrogpond XXIX: 1 (2006)

  • Roger Cohen’s op/ed column at NYT asks “Refugees? What Refugees?” (Sept. 27, 2007) and tells of Sweden’s efforts to help Iraqi War refugees. Cohen notes “Of all the Iraq war scandals, America’s failure to do more for refugees, including thousands who put their lives at risk for the U.S., stands out for its moral bankruptcy. Last time I checked, Sweden did not invade Iraq. Its generosity shames President Bush’s fear-infused nation.”

a long trip
the final flip
of the map

behind barbed wire
the banter of baseball
in two languages

………………………………. by jim kacian
“a long trip” – frogpond XXIX: 2 (2006)

  • The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine handed down a decision this week relating to Sex Offender Registries that could have a major impact on sex offender laws, with its focus on their potentially significant punitive effects. See John Doe v. District Attorney (2007 ME 139, decided Sept. 25, 2007, 39-pp, pdf.). In “Registry for sex crimes on trial” (Sept. 26, 2007), the Bangor Daily News has a good summary of the facts and issues raised. Here are some major excerpts:

    Maine’s sex offender law could be unconstitutional because it retroactively increases criminal punishments for people who already have completed their sentences for sex crimes, the state supreme court said Tuesday.

    The decision, a setback for the sex offender registry, comes less than two years after a 20-year-old Canadian man killed two sex offenders in Maine after randomly getting their names from the state’s online sex offender registry.

    But in a 39-page ruling, supreme court justices ordered that the complaint be sent back to the lower court for further proceedings.

      The majority opinion, agreed to by seven of the nine justices, stated that Doe should be given a chance to prove that the sex offender law is punitive. . . .

    “Doe should be given the opportunity to develop the record and to prove, if he can, the excessiveness of [the law] in relationship to its stated goal of protecting the public from potentially dangerous registrants,” they wrote.

    A concurring opinion, written by Justices Donald Alexander and Warren Silver, was stronger in its wording.

    Alexander and Silver wrote that amendments to the law over the years have retroactively enhanced criminal punishments by changing a 15-year registration requirement to lifetime state supervision and removing the opportunity for waiving the registration requirement upon a showing of rehabilitation or other good cause.

    They further wrote that the law exposes registrants to punishments “similar to the shaming and ridicule penalties of colonial times by identifying and targeting them on the Internet, subjecting them to the documented risk of retribution and vigilante violence.”

    Furthermore, they wrote, the Maine Constitution’s Declaration of Rights protects the right of “pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”

    “For lifetime registrants, the [sex offender law] takes away that possibility and the prospect of redemption,” they wrote.

    • At his Sex Crimes weblog, Prof. Corey Rayburn Yung, “Registration Decision in Maine,” explains the potential significance of the case, noting that it “forces lower courts to confront the real-world effects of registration and notification. This has often been the poorest portion of previous rulings about registration laws as judges have tried to separate secondary effects from their opinions.”

an old song
in our second language
starry night

cemetery road
the chain gang
breaks for lunch

……………………….. by Peggy Lyles
“an old song” To Hear the Rain (Brooks Books, 2002)
“cemetery road” – Modern Haiku 37:3 (Autumn 2006)

  • Justice in Jena? I found yesterday NYT op/ed piece by Reed Walters, the district attorney of LaSalle Parish, to be thoughtful, respectful of those who disagree, and quite persuasive.
    It deserves to be read in full. Walters states, among other things:

    “I cannot overemphasize how abhorrent and stupid I find the placing of the nooses on the schoolyard tree in late August 2006. If those who committed that act considered it a prank, their sense of humor is seriously distorted. It was mean-spirited and deserves the condemnation of all decent people.

    “But it broke no law. I searched the Louisiana criminal code for a crime that I could prosecute. There is none.

    “Similarly, the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, who is African-American, found no federal law against what was done.”

    There is far too much racism in the United States, and it often shows up in our criminal justice system. But, I am not convinced that the Jena Six have been the victims of racial bias. Some have pointed to the fact that the teen who had been attacked by the Six went to a prom the same night, suggesting that it could not have been a serious attack. [Of course, you don’t have to seriously injure someone to be guilty of attempted murder (shooting a gun and missing is a prime example) — using force that is likely to be deadly suffices. Although, I agree that “attempted murder” may have been overcharging, I believe it was done to bring the 16-year-old ringleader into adult court, not because he was black.] Here’s Walters’ description of the attack, which he says was no “schoolboy fight:”

    “The victim in this crime, who has been all but forgotten amid the focus on the defendants, was a young man named Justin Barker, who was not involved in the nooses incident three months earlier. According to all the credible evidence I am aware of, after lunch, he walked to his next class. As he passed through the gymnasium door to the outside, he was blindsided and knocked unconscious by a vicious blow to the head thrown by Mychal Bell. While lying on the ground unaware of what was happening to him, he was brutally kicked by at least six people.

    “. . . Only the intervention of an uninvolved student protected Mr. Barker from severe injury or death. There was serious bodily harm inflicted with a dangerous weapon — the definition of aggravated second-degree battery. Mr. Bell’s conviction on that charge as an adult has been overturned, but I considered adult status appropriate because of his role as the instigator of the attack, the seriousness of the charge and his prior criminal record.”

  • For an interesting article on racial bigotry, see “Why Few People Are Devoid Of Racial Bias” (Science Daily, Sept. 26, 2007, from a report Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science) In it, “The authors investigate how some individuals are able to avoid prejudicial biases despite the pervasive human tendency to favor one’s own group.” The articles says: What is remarkable about the findings is that only seven percent did not show any racial bias (as measured by implicit and explicit psychological tests), and that nonbiased individuals differed from biased individuals in a psychologically fundamental way — they were less likely to form negative affective associations in general.

mops and pails–
the wren goes on singing
with straw in its beak

grey Atlantic
a pelican crosses
the rainbow

in the dream
they called me “brother”–
pounding rain

………………………………………………… by Peggy Lyles
“mops and pails–” – Frogpond XXVIII:2 (Spring/Summer 2005)
“grey Atlantic” – Mainichi Daily News (July 2007)
“in the dream” –The Poetic Image, Birmingham Words Pamplet #1 (May 2006)

Must be Magic: Finally, like other members of the Clear Channel chain, the Albany NY talk-news radio station,, is offering a sneak preview of Bruce Springsteen’s “Magic” album, which is scheduled to be released on October 2, 2007, as he launches the US/Europe Magic Tour. (pre-order “Magic” here)

missing in action
she dusts off his guitar,
returns it to the shelf

……………………… by Randy Brooks

old rocker —
gray ponytail
keeps the beat

…………………. by dagosan

missing in action
she dusts off his guitar,
returns it to the shelf

……………………… by Randy Brooks

turning off the music
a few miles before
getting there

on the way
to hear the music…

…………………. by Tom Clausen
from being there (Swamp Press, 2005)

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