Posted in Afghanistan, C-Haze, Crime, Current Events, Farkhunda Malikzada, Islam, Justice, New York Times, Quran

New York Times, Quran and Justice

On December 26, 2015, the New York Times posted a lengthy story with disturbing video showing an Afghan woman being beaten to death for allegedly burning a Quran at a local shrine. The story should be required reading for everyone, and should be part of our collective awareness of the world around us.

Farkhunda Malikzada was 27 years old, a victim of mob justice in a country that is known for its deplorable treatment of women.

Following her death, it was determined that the woman did not burn a Quran at all. (Color me Western, but I fail to understand how her violent murder would have been justified even if she had burned a Quran, but I digress.)

Fortune tellers would visit the shrine on certain days. Wednesdays, for example, were only for women, and amulets could be purchased from the fortune tellers to help them get pregnant, conceive male children, get married, etc. The amulets consisted of little more than pieces of paper that had writing on them. The women would pin the paper to themselves.

These practices are not religious in nature, and some people – Farkhunda being one of them – took issue with the use of “superstition” under the veil of religion. She confronted the fortune teller.

Later, it was determined that in addition to amulets, the fortune teller was smuggling Viagra into the shrine, and condoms too. Some even suspected he was a pimp of sorts.

What Farkhunda actually did, was stand up for her religious faith by standing up to this fraudulent man at the shrine. She was protecting her religion. The terrible irony is that she was accused of disrespecting her faith in the most heinous of ways – by burning a Quran – when she was, in fact, doing the opposite. If anything, what Farkhunda actually burned were the amulets. Those useless pieces of paper her fellow sisters were hanging their entire existences on.

She was not given a criminal trial, nor due process. She was beaten to death in the street, her body burned, while police and others stood by.

Women, joined by a few men, marched in the streets, demanding justice for Farkhunda. Candlelight vigils were held, and high profile people took notice.

An investigation was conducted. Some people were charged with crimes relating to Farkhunda’s murder. The man who first accused her of burning the Quran, even received a death sentence.

For a minute, at least, it felt like a victory. Even as she wasn’t alive to see it, perhaps Farkhunda would get justice. Perhaps the women of Afghanistan – all of those who had been abused before Farkhunda – would receive justice.

Then, just as quickly, those wheels of “justice” shifted. While many people were tried and convicted in the case, quite a few had their sentences overturned or drastically reduced upon appeal. The man who accused Farkhunda of burning the Quran had his death sentence commuted to life in prison, a sentence in Afghanistan that equates to 20 years. Another man who was given a death sentence had it reduced on appeal to a mere 10 years imprisonment.

Many of the guilty had their sentences overturned, but it appears many of the innocent were convicted as well.

In short, chaos reigned, and it looks as if actual justice was the last thing on the minds of many. The court system in Afghanistan does not resemble that of its western contemporaries. In fact, the lawyers of one of the accused didn’t even know his client’s trial had begun until the man’s father called and told him so. Defendants are allowed only short statements at trial, to be recited at the very end of the proceedings. The judges rule almost immediately thereafter, rendering it inconceivable that they’re taking the statements of the accused into consideration.

Farkhunda’s family fled Afghanistan, but still seek justice for her, having appealed to the country’s supreme court for assistance. Still today, many think of Farkhunda as the “woman who burned the Quran”, and who was lynched for doing so.

Posted in Arson, Current Events, News, Race, Racism, St. Louis

St. Louis, Arsons and Churches

A suspect has been arrested in the St. Louis church fires.

These fires were long seen as a sign of the racial turmoil in the St. Louis area, as the churches were burned in predominantly black neighborhoods.

With that in mind, I wonder how many are surprised to learn the suspect is a black male.

I have long worried that people against peace in our city will stoop to such lows as to manufacture racial disparity in an effort to spearhead some sort of revolution. Not just black people, either.

The facts are still a long way from being sorted out. Maybe this guy did it, maybe he didn’t. We don’t know much yet, other than he’s been arrested.

Our city needs peace.

Posted in #BlackLivesMatter, Crime, Current Events, Police Brutality, Race, Racism

Thoughts on Ramos Funeral Protest of de Blasio

I’m the first to say the officers at Ralph Ramos’ funeral had every right to turn their backs on de Blasio while he spoke at the service. They have the right to protest just as the rest of us do. That said, however, I hope anyone who supports the rights of those officers (who were in uniform) also supports the rights of NFL players (who were also in uniform) to show solidarity with the “Hands up don’t shoot” movement, or the rights of other protestors at other venues. These officers chose the funeral of one of their fallen comrades to make a statement- I don’t disagree with the method, as it was powerful. We didn’t call for disciplinary action against those officers, nor did we ask for an apology (nor should we!). Yet, the police union did both of those things when 5 Rams players took the field with their hands up. In the end, it’s all the same, and we’re all expressing our rights. We may not be able to agree on the issues at hand, but let’s all acknowledge that we’re all expressing our patriotism by exercising rights granted to us in the Constitution. In the end, we do it for the same reason: because All Lives Matter.

Posted in Crime, Current Events, Dating, Rape

Date Rape, Nail Polish and Empowering Women

Nail-PolishThere’s been a lot of uproar lately about this new nail polish that can detect whether or not date rape drugs are present in one’s drink. After applying the polish, a person can stir the drink with their finger, and the color will change if drugs are detected.

A lot of women are critical of this, saying the responsibility of whether to rape or not falls squarely on the shoulders of the rapist. Still others hail this as a wonderful invention.

I agree with those who say this nail polish is a wonderful thing. While I also agree that only the rapist bears responsibility for committing the crime of rape, I fully support anything that empowers women, and makes them less likely to be victimized.

No one would tell a homeowner not to bother locking their doors at night, because we all understand that doing so makes us less likely to be the victims of a home invasion. Equally true, if someone neglects to lock their doors, no one is going to blame them for getting robbed. The robber is still fully responsible for committing the crime.

We tell women not to leave their drinks unattended in bars, we tell women to use the buddy system when out partying, and to make sure someone is always aware of their plans. We fully support women who choose to take self-defense classes, and constantly remind them to “trust” their guts, don’t be afraid to walk away from a situation that feels funny, even if the reason for that feeling is not easily identified.

How is the idea of the nail polish any different from any of those things? There is nothing wrong with taking action to make us less likely to be victimized. If, despite the actions we have taken (and even if no action was taken at all), the unthinkable happens, it is not the victim’s fault. That’s not what this nail polish symbolizes, nor is that what supporters are claiming.

Predators use ever-evolving technology to accomplish more and more dastardly deeds. It’s high time technology was used to stop them in their tracks.

Posted in Current Events, Florida State University, Football, Jameis Winston, News, Rape, Sexual Assault, Sports

Jameis Winston, Rape and Skeletons in the Closet

I think the state’s attorney got it right in the Jameis Winston case, when deciding against charging him with the rape of his accuser.

It’s not easy for me to say that.

This case touched a nerve with me, and chilled me to my core.

Years ago, while attending a large university, I was raped by a football player. We both lived on campus, and he was known to me as an acquaintance. In fact, I had a little crush on him. One Saturday night, I wasn’t feeling well. Most of the dorm was empty. My fellow classmates were either out at parties, or had gone home to spend the weekend with their families. My roommate was visiting her boyfriend. I had a cold, so I stayed in.

He called me that night, asking if I was interested in trading CDs- I had a massive collection, and so did he. We’d spoken in the dining hall on more than one occasion about swapping albums. I remember being a little mortified at the thought of seeing him, on account of I didn’t look very good, having been sick most of the day.

Reluctantly, I agreed.

I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, I ended my night in the emergency room with several injuries, and a positive rape kit. After my release from the ER, I went to the police station with my parents and pressed charges.

He was picked up in his dorm (after his roommate swore repeatedly he wasn’t there), and was quickly charged with rape.

While not a national story, mine was a sensational scoop among the locals. I was stalked, threatened and harrassed. Once, I even tried to drop the charges, as I was scared, lonely, and caving under the pressure of it all.

My request was denied, and I was threatened with arrest, should I choose to stop cooperating with the prosecuting attorney‘s office.

The trial took place about nine months later, and my rapist was convicted after a jury deliberated for just under three hours. I remember the tears streaming down his face as they took him into custody after the guilty verdict was read.

After serving the bulk of his sentence, my rapist had his conviction overturned. The appellate judge said he hadn’t received a fair trial. He was ordered re-tried or released. The choice was mine, and I chose to let it go, and walk away. In my mind, by making this decision, I was finally putting a period on the end of this horrible run-on sentence. I was moving on.

If I thought it was over, I was sorely mistaken.

He subsequently sued the state for wrongful imprisonment.

He won.

Seems I couldn’t put a period on it afterall, and all these years later, I’m still trying to move on.

Now comes Jameis Winston, and the state attorney’s decision not to press charges against him in the sexual assault of his accuser. I purposely avoided the media coverage as much as I could, but when word got out that all 86 pages of the investigative material had been released to the public, I couldn’t help myself.

Anxiously, I read every single page.

I’m jaded. I’m nothing close to unbiased, and don’t pretend to be. Yet after reading all of it, I was devastated. I’ve been accused by too many people to count as being someone who wrongfully accused an innocent man of rape. My name is on websites as a person who purposely, knowingly lied about being sexually assaulted. I’ve been listed among the names of people who have falsified rape allegations.

I know my journey, I know the truth about what I went through. That’s why it never once dawned on me that people actually do fake these things. Because of my experience, because of how terrible every single second of it was, and because of the pain and trauma I carry with me to this day, I never paused long enough to consider that sometimes women lie.

I don’t know what happened between Jameis and his accuser. I do know her story changed multiple times. I know she told two of her friends he hit her on the head, causing her to black out, and therefore remembers nothing of the assault. I know she told investigators something altogether different.

I don’t know who is lying, and if it’s her, I don’t know why she pursued this.

I do know that had this case gone to trial, there would not have been a conviction. I also know about women, and how vengeful people can be when they think they’ve been treated badly.

I know the risk males- especially black males- take when they put themselves in positions of weakness, when they treat women badly, and then expect those women to stand up and act honorably on behalf of them.

Sometimes women lie, and men go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit. Many times, though, women are telling the truth, and the men that assaulted them go free.

No one but Jameis Winston and his accuser truly know what happened that night. Just as no one but my rapist and me truly know what happened the night he assaulted me.

If his accuser was not telling the truth, I hope she gets help, and comes to understand the gravity of what she tried to do. I hope she comes to appreciate the life she has forever changed, and I hope she comes to terms with why she made the choices she made that night.

I hope Jameis sees this for the close call it was. As with all things, there’s a lesson to be learned from this experience. I hope he comes to realize how close he came to the fire, and how he almost got himself burned.

Posted in Amber Wright, Charlie Kay Ely, Current Events, Hate, Murder, News, Relationships, Seath Jackson, True Crime

Seath Jackson, Facebook and the Farmhouse

So much can change in what seems like the blink of an eye.

In March of 2011, Seath Jackson was a happy guy. Just 15, he was in love, had lots of friends, and had dreams of becoming a UFC Champion.

Seath’s girlfriend, Amber Wright, was also 15 years old. The two were close that spring, as evidenced by Seath’s regular Facebook status updates. Many were just like this one, in March, that reads, “I love you Amber”.

Quickly- perhaps in the blink of an eye, even- the tenor changed.

Less than a month later, in the first week April, Seath is observed switching from love-speak, and suddenly begins referring to Amber as a slut, accusing her of cheating on him.

The drama, of course, teen love gone awry- one party moving on, losing interest, meeting someone else- is nothing new.

The terrifying twist in this story does not lie in the fact that Seath and Amber’s relationship, at 15 years old, did not last. It does not rest in the ugliness of the allegations Seath made against Amber; Nor does it have to do with Amber’s returned accusations, her allegations of suffering both verbal and physical abuse at Seath’s hands .

What was so horrifying, what put an extra-ugly edge to an already-ugly dance of angsty teenage-drama, was the public way in which it all played out. An added layer of humiliation was served cold by both Seath and Amber, and they dished all of it on Facebook. This is where they aired their dirty laundry, their relational dysfunction, their anger and heartache. Their large circle of friends began to take notice, and before long, they were chiming in too.

The more others began weighing in, the more bitter the battle of words became between Amber and Seath, until finally, they both declared themselves…

… DONE.

On April 8, 2011, after railing on Facebook (with the help of his friends) about Amber for almost 24 hours, Seath announced that he was ready to move on. He was finished with the “dumb shit”, and had decided it was time to let it go. Amber, for her part, seemed to have a difficult time believing Seth was really “done”, and told him so.

How are yuu done with it. When you continuously write shit about me. Talk shit about me. Hate on me. Fucking say shit to me? Huh tell me bc I really wanna fucking know! Exactly yuur not done with it if yuu keep bringing my name into shit! So learn the definition on DONE!

And with that public exchange, it seems there was finally…

… Silence.

The silence, however, was misleading.

Amber turned to her new boyfriend, 19 year old Michael Bargo, who already hated Seath, and began to share. Michael’s jealously raged, and with Amber’s help, began hatching a plan.

A chilling, deadly, horrible plan.

The kind of plan that causes everything to change, in the blink of an eye.

On Monday, April 18, 2011, police began looking for Seath. It didn’t take long for them to learn what had happened to the teenager, and by Tuesday afternoon, the truth began to unfold in gruesome, chilling detail.

Seath had last been seen Sunday afternoon, April 17, by friends. He had seemed fine, in an upbeat mood, until later in the day, when he began receiving phone calls and text messages.

The calls were coming from Amber and a friend of hers, Charlie Kay Ely.

Amber, it seemed, wanted Seath to come see her at Charlie’s house. Charlie, 18, had a home of her own, and it was isolated- a farmhouse, of sorts. Amber wanted Seath to meet her there so the two of them could patch things up.

She wanted to get back together, she said.

Seath, initially, declined. Amber, with the help of her friend, was able to change his mind, convincing him to meet the two at Charlie’s place.

When Seath arrived at the home, he realized- too late- that this was not to be a happy reunion. Immediately he was ambushed by Michael Bargo, who had help from Amber’s 16 year old step-brother Kyle Hooper, and 20 year old Justin Soto, a mutual friend of theirs.

The three men began beating Seath in the head with wooden objects. Later, Soto and Hooper held Seath down while Michael Bargo shot the teen several times with .22-caliber gun.

Next, the boys placed Seath in a bathtub, where they proceeded to break his knees in an attempt to fit him inside of a sleeping bag.

Bargo, realizing Seath was still alive, shot him again.

Jackson was placed inside the waiting sleeping bag, and his body was taken to the backyard of the home.

They lit a bonfire and burned him.

Seath’s remains were scooped into empty paint cans, and the step-father of Amber Wright and Kyle Hooper, 37 year old James Young Havens III, helped them clean up by bleaching the premises. Law Enforcement believes he knew about the plan in advance, and did nothing to stop it.

It was Kyle Hooper who, on that Tuesday afternoon, one day after they began looking for Seath Jackson, confessed to police the details of what had happened. Tracey Wright, Amanda and Kyle’s mother, had learned of the role her children had played in the death of their peer, and forced Hooper to tell the authorities.

Amber Wright had lured her one-time love to his death.

Michael Bargo, 19, has been charged with first degree-murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Justin Soto, 20, is also charged with first-degree murder, and faces the possibility of a death sentence as well.

Amanda Wright, 15, Kyle Hooper, 16, and Charlie Kay Ely, 18, were all charged with first-degree murder, though prosecutors have declined to seek the death penalty in each of the three cases.

James Young Havens III, 37, has been charged as an accessory after the fact.

Charlie Kay Ely is the only one of the five defendants who refused to waive her right to a speedy trial, and was convicted of first-degree murder. The jury voted to convict after deliberating for barely more than an hour. She will automatically receive a sentence of life in prison.

The others are still awaiting trial.

Posted in C-Haze, Current Events, Dating, News, Off The Wall, Porn, Pornography, Relationships, True Crime

The Stalker, the Student and the Stud

A woman was being stalked.

For three and a half years, Ruth Jeffery lived in fear. Someone, somehow, knew every detail of her intimate life. He knew her schedule, and even had access to her e-mail accounts.

Once, he posted “intimate” pictures of her on an adult website, prompting a stranger to show up, announced, at her home.

Ruth was at her wits’ end, and counted heavily on the support of her boyfriend, who she’d been dating for more than three years; a man she’d known for more than a decade.

In fact, her boyfriend, Shane Webber, was the one person she could lean on during the ordeal. “We did everything together. I would tell him everything”. She believed he was telling her everything in return.

When her stalker created an online profile that was similar to her own, and started reaching out to her friends, pretending to be her, she got scared. This person simply knew too much about her. Was it a friend? A classmate from school?

Who could do such a thing?

Ruth stopped eating, fell into a deep depression, and was filled with fear and paranoia. She began taking anti-depressants. At one point, her studies were impacted, she was so drastically affected, she had to retake her final exams.

She was suicidal, and told those closest to her, she wanted to die.

“I don’t want to be alive anymore”

 Finally, in desperation, Ruth turned to police. By this time, her harasser had pretended to be various classmates of hers, and had even hacked into her computer, sending intimate photos of her to all of her contacts from her own e-mail address. Ms. Jeffery found herself bombarded with sexually explicit photos and videos.

The desperation, depression and fear continued to spiral, Ruth was terrified, humiliated and ashamed.

Police diligently tracked the  stalker, meticulously documenting incident after incident of harassment.

At one point, authorities thought they were closing in on their perp. They arrested and interrogated a close friend of Ruth’s boyfriend. Police, briefly, believed they’d found their stalker.

They were wrong.

Undeterred, police refused to give up.

Finally, they got their break, and after nearly four years of constant harassment, arrested Ruth’s long-time boyfriend, Shane Webber.

Webber is charged with causing Harassment, Alarm or Distress.

He had been harassing, stalking and intimidating his own girlfriend for the entire time they had been dating.

He has pled guilty.

Upon hearing the news, Ruth issued a statement proclaiming, “I want him to be put in prison because he has wrecked the past three-and-a-half years of my life… I’ve known him for 10 years, so in a way it feels like the past 10 years have been wasted.”

Webber is due to be sentenced on October 6, 2011.

Posted in Andrew Breitbart, Anthony Weiner, C-Haze, Congress, Current Events, Government, News, Politics, Twitter

Weiner Needs to Resign

When I posted previously about Representative Anthony Weiner’s colossal dick move-tweeting penis pics of himself to schoolgirls  co-eds, I wasn’t ready to say whether or not he should resign.

I was pretty clear, right away, on the point that the man is a jerk, but hell, if lying and cheating on our spouses kept us out of politics, we wouldn’t have any politicians left, would we?

Now, however, with multiple women coming out of the woodwork… all telling similar stories of how Weiner pursued them relentlessly…

… Alongside the fact that we’re learning Weiner’s wife is pregnant with their first child…

This, in conjunction with all the allegations of his using congressional resources to communicate with this women…

But wait! There’s more.

We learned of Anthony Weiner’s callous willingness to lie to the nation, attempting to convince his constituents, the press and the nation that Arch Nemesis Conservative Blogger Andrew Breitbart hacked into his Twitter account and posted false photos in an effort to embarrass the Congressman.

Once caught, he tells us that “to the best of his knowledge, all the women were over the age of consent”.

We’re beginning to hear stories with lurid details, finding out that Anthony Weiner, via text, was making plans to meet with a woman in person– in Vegas- that he had been sexting almost daily.

As the truth about his secret cyber-life began leaking to the press, and it became increasing obvious he wasn’t getting out of this one unscathed, he coached at least one woman to lie for him.

According to Politico, Weiner gives instructions to his lust interest in a June 1 e-mail:

Have a couple of iterations of: ‘This is silly. Like so many others, I follow Rep. Weiner on Twitter. I don’t know him and have never met him. He briefly followed me and sent me a dm (direct message) saying thank you for the follow. That’s it.’

Next, he goes on to offer to have a member of his PR team contact her, should she need some additional pointers on how to B.S. the press. This, of course, raises the question of whether or not he used Congressional resources (i.e. staff) in an effort to cover up his shenanigans.

Ugh.

I’ve heard enough.

There are a lot of cute twists and turns to this story, and had it been a fictional parity of Washington, DC, it might have been humorous.

A congressman named Weiner gets caught posting pictures of his weiner on the internet, spawning a sex scandal; Weiner’s wife, aide to perhaps the most famous woman scorned in the world, the woman who is married to none other than Slick Willy himself… is pregnant with their child.

Unfortunately, Hollywood screenplay this is not, and real people put real trust in this man.

It’s time for Weiner to resign.