This is Labor Day Weekend and the weekend of the annual Decadence Fest in the French Quarter – when the French Quarter becomes the center of the gay universe.
Do you welcome Decadence Fest to New Orleans? Some people will condemn the city for hosting a festival that attracts gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender visitors because they disapprove of their lifestyles. But shouldn't we welcome all visitors? Officials estimate that Decadence Fest could bring in as much as $100 million to the city's economy.
Opposition to Decadence Fest includes the fear that the decadent fashions and behavior could influence kids and teens. Opposition is also based on condemnation of the growing acceptance of homosexuality in America. But since Decadence Fest takes place in the French Quarter and does not spontaneously appear in neighborhoods around the city – why would there be any concern that those in town for the annual festival could influence kids or teens?
If you think Decadence Fest promotes immoral behavior - then you can easily avoid it by not going to the French Quarter this weekend. Hotels, restaurants, bars and shops love those who come to New Orleans every year for the festival because it's a group that spends money. Research that I have read indicates that homosexuals traditionally have more disposable income than heterosexuals – and any city wants those visitors!
When the issue of gay rights comes up on the show – inevitably I will hear from a few listeners who say, "I don't care if people are gay – but why do they need to throw their lifestyle in our faces?" This concern is based on the news coverage of events, like Decadence Fest. Often discussed on "The Scoot Show" on WWL is the reality that news coverage of any event tends to focus on the most extreme members of any group because that is what attracts the most attention to the news.
News cameras do not highlight the straight-looking homosexual – but rather those that display the most flamboyant outfits and behavior. Embedded in the Decadence Fest crowd are homosexuals who are professionals, blue-collar workers, retailer employees and business owners who could easily be mistaken for any heterosexual.
Noticing the more extreme members of the Decadence Fest crowd while failing to pay attention to the majority of the crowd proves that it is wrong to judge any group or event by the characters that attract the news camera's attention – in the same way that it was unfair to judge the residents of Ferguson, MO based on the protesters who committed acts of violence in the streets that dominated the news coverage.
What ever happened to the concept of "live and let live?" That concept seems to have gotten lost in America. Contrary to the fear that many people wish to instill in the general population – the truth is that Decadence Fest does not influence impressionable young minds or serves as an opportunity to recruit young people into a life of homosexuality.
Not only have we lost respect for the idea of "live and let live" – but too many Americans continue on their crusade to tell others how to lead their personal lives.
Right to privacy is a precious right in America that includes the right to be gay. If you don't want to be exposed to Decadence Fest – don't go to the French Quarter this weekend and let the rest enjoy our city!
Unless you are sitting in First Class on an airline, there isn't much room in and around your seat, and the airlines continue to find ways to squeeze more passengers in more seats. So, it is understandable that someone would invent the Knee Defender. The Knee Defender is a device that a passenger can attach to the seat in front that prevents the passenger from reclining their seat – which tightens the precious space for the passenger behind.
The Knee Defender costs about $22 and the Federal Aviation Administration allows each airline to make the decision on whether the device can be used on flights.
On a recent United Airlines flight from Newark, NJ to Denver, CO, a confrontation erupted in-flight between a male and a female passenger. The male passenger used his Knee Defender on the seat in front of him and the female passenger became angry when she was unable to recline her seat during the flight.
A flight attendant intervened and requested that the male passenger remove the device from the seat. His apparent refusal led to the female passenger standing up and throwing a cup of water on him. That's when the decision was made to divert the flight – which landed in Chicago.
The two passengers were met by Chicago police and TSA officials – but no arrests were made. The flight continued onto Denver without the two passengers. The names of the passengers were not released.
United Airlines has a policy that prohibits the use of the Knee Defender on all flights. Spirit and Allegiant Airlines have removed the option to recline any seat on their flights and all seats remain in an upright position.
Flying on an airline is not the luxurious experience it once was. Years ago, planes had fewer seats, bigger seats, curtains on the windows instead of the plastic slide covers, and many airlines actually had lounging areas for passengers who wanted to take a break from sitting in their seats. As a kid, I remember wearing a coat and tie to board a plane. That's quite a contrast from the dress code that many travelers choose to adhere to today! (Love the sweaty guy next to me who is wearing a tank top!)
Airline travel today is casual and crowded and everyone is trying to protect what little space they are given in a desperate attempt to preserve sanity. But we all know the challenges of flying today and it's comfortable to recline your seat on a flight. But when you recline your seat – you infringe on the space of the passenger in the seat behind you. This is a known reality.
When I fly I do often recline my seat, but I admit that the slight angle of the recline does not add much to any attempts to relax. We all know that seats on airlines recline and purchasing a device that prevents the passenger in front of you from reclining their seat is an act of aggression! Ok – at least it's obnoxiously rude!
No should argue that it is legal to invent and sell a device that enables one person to aggravate another person or anyone's right to buy such a product, but one has the question the mentality of anyone who would buy something that prevents your freedom to recline - while protecting their space on an airline.
The Knee Defender is the perfect product for anyone who enjoys being rude to others – and that means there is a huge market for the product!
Following the beheading of an American journalist by the Islamic militant group ISIS in retaliation for U.S. air strikes against the group, Americans are being warned that there is a growing threat by ISIS to the United States.
ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – is a well-organized and well-funded group of militants intent on gaining power and attacking Americans and everything America stands for.
U.S. air strikes against ISIS in Iraq appear to have been effective, but many experts are warning that ISIS has the ability – especially through Americans and Westerners now in its ranks – to execute acts of terrorism within the United States.
What I fear most is that we are not united as a nation. President Obama has ordered drone surveillance flights over Syria in an apparent effort to select ripe ISIS targets in that country, but even if the current Commander-in-Chief is making all the right decisions to stop ISIS and protect this country – there will been many voices that will condemn any actions because the orders came from President Obama.
The debate over what to do about ISIS or any other threat to America will include condemnation - even in the face of no viable alternative plans. Terrorist threats are relatively new in the military history of this country.
Our military was designed to protect our borders and the borders of our allies. As we have learned in more recent times – finding and fighting militant terrorist groups presents new challenges. Further complicating efforts to fight ISIS lies in the fact that Americans and Westerners have joined the militants and their crusade.
It has been made public that an American from San Diego - Douglas McAuthur McCain - was killed over the weekend fighting for ISIS in Syria. The concern is that Americans and Westerners who have joined ISIS could easily come back into the United States and commit an act of terrorism.
The fact that American citizens have joined a militant group with the intent to attack other Americans is a further indication of the deep divide in this country. I can't imagine U.S. citizens joining the Japanese or German militaries at the outset of World War II to fight against the U.S. and all this country stands for. This phenomenon shows that a few Americans feel so disconnected with the course and values of our nation that they have become part of a brutal militant group with a goal of destroying the West.
How - and exactly where - do we fight ISIS? Terrorist organizations present problems beyond trying to keep a military force from crossing a border and I do not envy any modern Commander-in-Chief who faces such a challenge.
The American people expect and demand the President of the United States to keep this country safe and secure, but the rules of engagement have changed. As the current Commander-in-Chief and Congress make decisions about how to effectively fight another threat from an organized militant terrorists – let us not be so quick to criticize the decisions – especially considering that no one embraces the idea of putting boots on the ground.
In reality, we can destroy the soldiers that fight against us. America struck back and hurt al Qaeda and the Taliban – but the spirit of those types of militants lives on in groups like ISIS.
The question is – if we kill the militants – have we killed the passion of the crusade against America?
The first time I saw it during a Saints preseason game, I turned to the person I was watching the game with and said "That's going to be controversial!" And sure enough, it has become a controversy!
The NFL informed Cox Communications that placing the logo for "Slap Your Mama" Cajun hot sauces and seasonings into the TV broadcast will no longer be allowed. The NFL stated that "in light of domestic violence issues" the company's name electronically placed on the field was inappropriate. It is also fair to point out that the NFL is interested in promoting broadcasts of games that include less distracting elements for the viewing fans.
I have to admit that even though I was born and raised in New Orleans, my family never used the phrase "slap your mama" to describe something very tasty. I'm not opposed to the phrase – I'm just saying that we never used it. So, with no real-life reference to the phrase, it stood out to me when I saw it splashed on the field when the Saints entered the red zone.
Most of the domestic violence cases with professional athletes and the general population involve a man physically abusing his wife or girlfriend – not his mother, but to a general audience, the phrase "slap your mama" may be close enough to be offensive.
Colloquialisms rarely translate outside of the regions in which they became popular. I may not have used the phrase "slap your mama" – but I understand the intent is not malicious or a promotion of domestic violence. I do applaud the NFL for stepping in and trying to control gratuitous advertising like a large logo planted on the field as the Saints are close to the goal.
I found the "Slap Ya Mama" logo to be very distracting. I support the sale of advertising as an integral aspect of our free enterprise system, but I would never underestimate the need to control the desire to overuse the right to advertise.
If large company logos are allowed when a team reaches the red zone – where will it end? Logos on the field for every 1st down – every 3rd and long? Every punt or kick-off? Logos placed on the derrieres of linemen who are down in a three-point stance? Or a quarterback who is sacked often – logos on the bottom of his shoes!
We are bombarded with enough advertising and I support the NFL's attempt to keep the field clean of huge logos on the field for viewing fans.
Furthermore, If I owned Slap Your Mama hot sauces and seasonings – I would thank the NFL for the great publicity! Amazing how a negative can turn into a positive!
This week I have an opportunity to experience a group that is part of rock music royalty, and also a newer young band that could be on their way to achieving that same status. Saturday night, I will see the legendary Crosby, Stills and Nash at the Saenger. CS&N are rock icons who represent the music of the 60's and 70's that has stood the test of time. The CS&N concert at the Saenger sold out in one day – a tribute to their talent and what their music meant to a young generation that has now grown into the Establishment.
Thursday night, I was at the OneRepublic concert at the UNO Lakefront Arena and while I appreciate and respect the music of my generation – I am highly impressed by the talent of many younger performers today.
I have talked about how the music trends that define every decade do not become obvious until the 3rd and 4th year of each decade. The early rock and roll that defined the 1950s was becoming popular in 1954. The 1960s were defined by the music of the British Invasion with The Beatles taking off in America in 1964. The end of the Vietnam War in 1973 and the subsequent political atmosphere of the country inspired much of the music that defined that decade. The re-election of Ronald Reagan in 1984 solidified a positive tone in America and the music of the 80s had young generations dancing to uplifting music. And the sound of the 1990s was defined by the grunge-alternative movement that was accepted by mainstream youth in 1993-94. In 2000, boy bands and performers like Britney Spears were popular, but it was the "emo" sound that became prominent by 2004 that defined that decade.
It is now 2014, and the popular new music you are hearing today is the music that will define this decade, and bands like OneRepublic are setting the trend. Younger generations have embraced 80's music to the point where new bands are writing and producing music that is reminiscent of the sound of the 1980's. There is a younger generation writing and producing songs with positive messages and the popular music today reflects the idea that a young generation wants to dance, escape and seems to have a positive view of the future.
OneRepublic is a group of extremely talented musicians:
I had a chance to briefly talk to the band before their show at the Lakefront Arena, and I told them that I have been featuring their music on my talk show and talking about how I think they are among the groups defining music today.
Music is the soundtrack of our lives and I realize that many people find comfort and security in the music that reminds them of their past. Today, the music of bands like OneRepublic will be the music that today's younger generations find comfort and security in as they mature.
For those who dismiss "today's music" as being superficial pop that will not stand the test of time – I suggest listening to bands like OneRepublic with the open mind that you listened to the music that defined your past.
And remember – I'm writing about OneRepublic – NOT One Direction!
There is something special about having the opportunity to experience a group defining music today and a legendary group that defined music in the past in the same week in New Orleans!
Today, I accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge! Jammer from our sister station B97 - a station that I have a great history with – challenged me and I accepted.
I gave considerable thought to who I would challenge. People are challenging important people or people important in their lives – so I challenged YOU – the listeners. My challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS is to anyone who listens to "The Scoot Show" at night on WWL, or when I'm on during the day.
You are among the most important people in my life and I want you to accept the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS. And if it's in your means to do so, make a donation to Team Gleason.
Take the challenge – make a video of it and post it on our Facebook page – WWL Radio – and we'll promote it and watch it! Let's see how many we get!
The national media has never reflected an accurate picture of society, and the coverage of the events in Ferguson, MO prove this point.
While I do channel surf between all of the cable news channels, I generally spend most of my time watching CNN, which generally offers more news and fewer programs advancing political agendas, like FOX News and MSNBC. This is not criticism of FOX News or MSNBC for airing politically slanted programming; and though I do watch all of the networks – I just find myself spending more time watching CNN.
All of the cable news channels submit to the temptation to present the sensational side of news. When the cable news channels recap the events in Ferguson or have a guest discussing the shooting of Michael Brown and the protests, I notice that the "B-roll" – the video that covers the conversation – is of the height of the violent protests, even when the discussion is about the more peaceful demonstrations.
Why would the networks not want to match the video with the content of the discussion? The video of the violent protest is more visually compelling to viewers than video of a peaceful demonstration. The network's decision to air the more violent video is a response to what they believe the viewers want to see. As I have often argued, the audience is ultimately responsible for the programming decisions made by the networks.
The 24/7 news networks face the challenge of filling a vast and continuous amount of airtime. As the networks cover any breaking story, they show the same video loops over and over, and for those who watch longer than a few minutes, it is easy to get the impression that the crisis or tragedy is more widespread than it really is.
Human nature causes us to be intrigued by violence. That does not mean that we want or encourage violence – it is just an acknowledgement of human nature. Since the goal of the news networks is to attract ratings, they will instinctively select the news stories and the videos that are most likely to attract the attention of the largest possible audience.
It is unlikely that this relationship between the media and the audience will change any time soon – that's why it is important for the audience to recognize that what they see through the prism of the news media is NOT a true reflection of the full story, or of society in general.
The stories of the African-American and white community in Ferguson working together become a mere footnote to the violent unrest. The visuals of blacks and white police officers in a tense standoff in the streets of an American city resurrect images of the past battles over integration and that is a familiar story line that invokes great emotions on both sides.
But as much as the news media thrives on showing violence in society, there is a line beyond which the news media will not cross. Coverage of the beheading of an American journalist included only stills from the graphic video of the actual beheading, which was initially available on YouTube. But the networks were definite about censoring the actual video, which we can all image how graphically violent it must be to anyone who views it.
I often talk about the responsibility of the audience that consumes the news media. It is our responsibility to understand the motives that drive the news media and watch the news with that in mind.
The bottom line is, the news media reflects the more sensational aspect of any news story and should not be considered a true barometer of the attitude and the actions of American society.
We all watch as the protesting and violence continue in Ferguson, MO, amid growing questions about what really happened when a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed young black male.
Did a white officer feel that his life was threatened when a young black male charged at him and was, therefore, justified in shooting and killing him? Or did a white police officer profile a young black male as a criminal and become aggressive in handling the encounter?
The police officer says that he was attacked, and that Michael Brown was attempting to grab the officer's gun and he shot him in self-defense. There are eyewitnesses who support the assumption that the white officer treated a young black male differently than he would have treated a young white male.
There is a great temptation to believe what you want to believe based on your perception of the world – but we don't really know exactly what happened. The family-ordered autopsy report showing that Michael Brown was shot 6 times – 2 in the head and 4 in the arm – does not tell us what really happened. So, why are many people on both sides of this debate so sure they know what happened and why does it seem what they want to believe is more important than the truth?
Most of us never heard of Ferguson, MO – a suburb of St. Louis – which has always been a racially charged city. We have learned that racial tension has been festering in Ferguson for years and the nearly 70% African-American community does not feel represented by a police department that is about 95% white and a city council that is disproportionately white as well. The reasons and the remedies for those disparities are a completely different topic – but the perception of misrepresentation yields a sense of injustice.
What is happening in Ferguson is a made-for-media drama. There is the racial issue, there are innocent people who want to protest peacefully, and there is the violence which has erupted live on television. The cable TV news networks have special theme music introducing their coverage of the shooting and the events that have followed, and a title is usually given to the coverage. One cable news network has titled the coverage, "The Shooting of Michael Brown." It is presented as a live drama – which it is – and millions are glued to their television sets watching the drama unfold without knowing what will happen or how it will end.
If wonder what would happen if the TV media stopped covering every development? Certainly, the TV coverage would not be as extensive if the protest was guaranteed to be peaceful.
But before you criticize the media – remember that the media makes decisions based on what it believes will capture our attention. The shooting and the subsequent events in Ferguson tap into America's racially-divided past and present – which touches us emotionally. No matter what you think caused the shooting death of a young black male – you are driven by passionate emotion.
I am not suggesting that the media not cover this event or any events that can lead to heated debates – but I am suggesting that the media coverage is based on the fact that the issues of race and justice already exist and those who follow the media should do more to analyze their emotional response, rather than quickly choose a side.
We should expect police officers to respect everyone – even young black males -- and we should also expect everyone to be respectful to police officers, even if we know they are wrong at the moment of a verbal encounter.
I have heard an attorney who is in Ferguson supporting the protesters and pleading for peace say that justice needs to be served by indicting the police officer. At this point, we are not certain that an indictment would be justice. It seems logical from what we know, but we do not yet know for certain.
The Ferguson Police Department appears to have mishandled the release of information, which leads citizens to understandably questioning if the police department is hiding something to protect one of their own.
Many African-Americans see our system of justice as unfairly arresting and trying young black males. If you are not black – then is it fair to think you know what it's like to be black in America? If I were a young black male or raising a young black male – I would be more afraid than I am as a white male. No American should feel that they are immediately judged when they are anywhere in public – and yet many are judged.
But – in spite of perceived injustices – young black males should show respect for law enforcement because anything less is a no-win situation on the street.
The sad truth is that if both the white police officer and the young black male are to blame for a situation that escalated out-of-control – only the young black male is dead. The officer can say he's sorry – but the young male has no voice. And unfortunately, that has been the reality in too many situations across America.
We should "listen" to each other rather than "shout" at each other. President Obama made that comment when addressing the shooting and unrest in Ferguson, MO – but as we know – there will be those who will dismiss whatever the President says, even when he is right.
At this point – we don't really know what happened that Saturday afternoon in Ferguson. So why are so many sure they know exactly what happened?
Highly touted as the savior of NOPD, Ronal Serpas is retiring as the police chief of New Orleans.
Questions about Serpas' leadership of the New Orleans Police Department have continued, and while the murder rate is down, Chief Serpas did not appear to have the confidence of his police department or the confidence of the public. Even if he was doing to best job under difficult circumstances – a police chief cannot be effective in an environment of distrust.
Chief Serpas took over a police department that had issues of trust and honesty, and in recent months citizens have witnessed too many officers arrested and suspended for violating laws they were sworn to uphold.
NOPD Chief Serpas out - talking about it this afternoon 1-4pm - in for Angela on WWL
The growing perception was that the overall strategy of the NOPD was not working, and combined with the loss of officers to retirement and the failure to attract an adequate number of new officers – the police chief appeared to be an ineffective leader and to many – an incompetent leader.
Many of the problems with the NOPD were the outcome of a culture of corruption that had been festering for decades, and any expectations for a police chief to instantly turn the department around were simply unrealistic.
However, when a chief has had time to effect change and change is not realized – then a change in leadership is inevitable. I respected the position Serpas was in as NOPD's Police Chief – but I was not naïve to the ongoing concerns about his strategy.
New Orleans is not an easy city to police. The French Quarter/Mardi Gras mentality that is a deep-rooted part of our culture presents law enforcement with challenges not faced by law enforcement in other cities. There is an allowance for partying and a degree of debauchery that has always been an acceptable aspect of our culture. In most cases, the partying and debauchery are innocent enough, but it sometimes clouds a thin line between what is and is not acceptable for citizens, as well as for the police.
To his credit, Chief Serpas and his department did track down and arrest many perpetrators, and the revolving door of the justice system at large should not reflect in a negative way on the police department.
It is also important to point out that there are countless police officers who are following the rules and risking their lives daily to protect and serve the citizens and visitors of New Orleans, and any loss of confidence in the police chief should not be visited on those dedicated men and women of the NOPD.
Morale was low within the department, and only time will tell us whether that was the fault of the police chief or changes in what society will no longer tolerate.
The faith and trust in a police chief is crucial to every city. We have all witnessed what appears to be ineffective leadership from the police chief in Ferguson, MO.
As I have written recently, the community can do more than police in terms of reducing crime by turning over vital information about crimes and criminals in their neighborhoods. It is impossible to expect police officers to be everywhere a violent altercation erupts. But the important trusting relationship between law enforcement and the community starts and ends with the chief of police.
Let us hope that our new police chief understands New Orleans, and understands what needs to be done to instill a more trusting relationship with law enforcement, and that our new chief wins the confidence of the officers on the force and creates a new desire to become part of the NOPD.
Many of the problems within the NOPD have been part of the department's culture and all of our hopes must be accompanied by the reality that long-term problems will not be solved overnight.
A new police chief will not solve the problems that lead to senseless crime. Those problems can only be solved by demanding responsible behavior of the citizens of the community – from responsible parenting to understanding the consequences of negative behavior.
If we expect the police department to do its job – then we have to do our job.
It was a moment that defined the youth rebellion of the 1960s! It was Woodstock and it began 45 years ago today on a large farm in upstate New York.
Woodstock was billed as "3 days of peace and music" and personified the attitude of the original anti-Establishment generation. Considering the estimated 400,000 people who gathered for the festival, it was relatively peaceful, but drugs and alcohol were consumed openly and those who had sex in public view were reflecting the "free love" mentality of that generation.
The love, music and mind-altering substances that defined Woodstock 45 years ago – completely contradict the attitude of that generation that is now the new Establishment.
Imagine the reaction from today's Establishment to a massive gathering of young people who acted like the young crowd at Woodstock! I imagine condemnation of a young generation for their lack of morals and their use of drugs and alcohol and the interpretation that this was a sign of the collapse of civilized American society. Well, that's exactly what the Establishment then thought of that young generation that created the phenomenon of the rock music festival.
Today, that young, rebellious generation is the Establishment that is judging today's young generation in many of the ways their generation was judged. Of course, every generation learns from its past, but it is the judgment of today's young generations and the lack of acceptance of the past that makes me a "hostile witness to the Baby Boomer generation!"
This 45th anniversary of Woodstock reminds us that the failure to acknowledge our past as we critique new young generations leads to a loss of credibility.
I have been criticized for suggesting that today's young generations, in many ways, are no more rebellious than Baby Boomers were in the 60s and 70s. Times have changed, but it is wrong to judge and compare the past based on the world today. Each generation can only be judged in the context of the times in which they were young.
Relative to the world in 1969, Woodstock and the music festivals that followed – including two big ones in Louisiana – created panic among the law-abiding citizens who made up the Establishment. There was widespread fear of what this signaled about the future of this country.
I have a few memories of the New Orleans Pop Festival that took place Labor Day Weekend in 1969 – just a couple of weeks after Woodstock – at a speedway on Airline Hwy. in Prairieville, LA. Those memories include teenagers camping out for several days – drinking – some doing drugs – and promoting an appreciation for love, peace and the celebration of music that was void in the establishment of American society at the time. Yes, we were different and making a strong statement about what our generation stood for.
In 1971, the Celebration of Life festival took place on the banks of the Atchafalaya River in Pointe Coupee Parish, where many young people took of their clothes and openly frolicked naked in the river. Louisiana Governor John McKeithen promised citizens of the state that he would personally throw out any "long-haired, dope-group anarchists" who attempted to put on the festival.
The festival did take place, but was cut short. A journalist for Rolling Stone magazine wrote that there were areas, like, Cocaine Row and Smack Street, where 30 different mind-altering drugs were openly on sale and plastic syringes were sold at $1 each. What would that generation say if a young generation did that today?
Woodstock and festivals, like the New Orleans Pop Festival and the Celebration of Life in Louisiana, promoted and brought to life the slogan of that generation – "sex, drugs and rock & roll!"
As we reach this milestone of the 45th anniversary of Woodstock – let us not forget how rebellious today's Establishment was when they were young. That doesn't mean we should encourage young generations to make the mistakes we made in our youth – but it is wrong to judge today's young generations from a pious perspective when we essentially did the same things we are critical of today.
More community involvement is more important than more police on the street.
NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas announced today that two arrests have been made in the shooting Sunday that left 2 dead and 5 injured – including a 2 and a 4-year-old.
Blair Taylor, 21, the alleged killer and 25-year-old Jeffery Rivers, the alleged driver of the car in the drive-by shooting were both arrested for shooting onto a front porch full of people.
Within a matter of days NOPD made the arrests and more are expected. Chief Serpas credits numerous tips from the community for the arrests.
Since the number of NOPD officers on the street is down, the instinct of the public is to blame the fact that there are not enough police to protect our communities. But police officers cannot be everywhere and while it may be easy to point the finger at too few officers on the street – it is simply unrealistic to expect police officers to stop shootings like the drive-by last Sunday.
Feuds, drug turf wars, guns and retaliation are not going to be stopped by more police on the street. Every community's first line of defense against the crime occurring in their neighborhood is the people that live there.
Though attitudes in New Orleans seem to be changing, criminals and common thugs have sought safe haven in the communities in which they live – and often commit their crimes there.
It is understandable that many people have been reluctant to reveal information about the individuals they know are involved in criminal activity and even specific crimes beacause they fear retaliation. But it is the community that ultimately protects the individuals that are posing a threat to the community.
As a society, we seek simple answers to big problems and the idea of more police on the street – at a time when the ranks of the NOPD have dwindled – seems to be a logical and tangible solution. But it is not realistic to expect police officers to be everywhere there are violent disputes between individuals or groups.
The individuals that are part of any community can do a better job than police at reducing crime. The members of the communities that have come forward with information that has led to the arrests of suspects should be proud of what they have done in and effort to reduce crime and, hopefully, they will set an example for others.
If communities continue to turn over vital information about crimes and criminals – eventually – the criminals will have no where to hide.
The violence that has erupted in Ferguson, Missouri following a police officer shooting and killing a black teenager proves that many people are living on top of a racial powder keg. Michael Brown was walking with friends Saturday in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, when police made contact with him. There are two starkly different accounts of what happened next.
Police say that Michael Brown made physical contact with a 6-year-veteran of the local police force and attempted to grab the officer's gun. But Brown's friend, who was with him at the time, said that the police were the aggressors. Another witness said that Michael Brown had his hands in the air as if he was surrendering when police shot him.
The FBI has joined the investigation into what actually happened, but in the meantime, tension is high. Ferguson police are withholding the name and race of the officer because of death threats.
The death rate of young black males at the hands of police officers has led to an understandable assumption that many officers are prejudiced. However, there should be no justification for young black males – or anyone – allowing contempt and disrespect for law enforcement to encourage them to physically challenge the police.
What I find most discouraging about this racial conflict in Missouri is that it reflects the volatile racial tension in America. There is too little tolerance for the truth. Tragedies are used as campaign messages to promote the racial unrest that feeds the appetite of leaders and the media. We should all stop and recognize how often we make assumptions based on our perceived images of stereotypes.
For one group – young black males are responsible for a disproportionate percentage of crime and murder, therefore, police have no choice except to profile and assume every young black male is a criminal. For the other group – the police are prejudiced and wrongly assume all black males are criminals.
In the case of the shooting death of Michael Brown, we do not yet know which – if either – group is right, and sadly, there are too many people who are willing to use their assumption and stereotyping to pass judgment. Even Michael Brown's parents are denouncing the violence that is a reaction to what many believe is another police murder of a young black male.
A young black male was killed by a police officer and most speculate the officer is white, but we don't know if his race is really a factor in the tragedy. We should all hope that the truth is revealed following an objective investigation – though the truth does not serve those who are not interested in the truth.
If a police officer was overanxious in dealing with a young black male on the streets of America – then he must be identified and punished for taking a life. However, if a young black male allowed contempt for the police to become physical – then that truth must be acknowledged.
What I am about to suggest is not fair – but much in life isn't fair. The unfortunate reality is that if you are a young black male in America, you will be stereotyped by many, including some police officers. While that is not fair on any level, it is a reality that young black males should expect. At least until everyone comes to accept the idea that no individual should be judged by the group they are associated with.
When my son was a teenager, I knew his appearance and style would lead to police profiling him – and they did. I told him that he must always be respectful of law enforcement – even if he knew they were wrong for profiling him. I am not making a direct comparison between a white teenager and a black teenager when it comes to perception – but it does serve to remind us that many police officers profile and act on their feelings about stereotypes.
If a white teenager's appearance might lead him or her to be stereotyped as a trouble-maker, then they must understand that, and rather than react with an attitude, they must put their pride aside and be respectful – even if the police officer has not earned respect.
Stereotyping is NOT fair – but if it is reality - then it's important to understand that reality.
An interesting phenomenon attracted my attention Sunday afternoon. I had just finished a meeting at a popular coffee shop when I drove by a McDonald's at the beginning of an upscale neighborhood in a popular suburb of New Orleans. I was shocked to see 11 cars in the drive-thru line.
Curious about how crowded it was inside, I pulled in and parked and walked inside. There were 2 registers open, but only one customer inside! It would have been much quicker to get out of the car and get your order to-go than to sit in the long drive-thru line. And yet – many people made the decision to wait in the long line.
I always thought that "time" was such a precious and valuable asset in our lives that anyone would make the effort to get out of their car to get their order rather than to wait in a long line of cars.
There were occasional light sprinkles that afternoon, but they were so light and sparse that you wouldn't even need an umbrella to walk into the restaurant. So, why were so many people sitting in their cars, vans and SUVs?
Without intending this sounding like criticism – I can't image choosing the option the sit in the long line at drive-thru. Would you have gone inside or waited in a line of 11 cars?
Obviously, no consideration was given to the wear-and-tear on the car's engine or the wasted gas – not to mention the auto emissions bellowing into the air we breathe! Sacrificing time for the convenience of never getting out of the car to get a fast food order astounded me.
What is it that is so compelling about the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant? Is it really that convenient? Waiting in line doesn't always save time and yet, people choose to. If you are in the drive-thru line and your order is not correct – you have to pull into the parking lot – get out of the car with the order – then stand in line (if there is one) to get your order corrected. Does this make sense?
The fact that there were 11 cars in the drive-thru line and an open register inside may a microcosmic vision of inactivity that contributes to the growing obesity problem in America. If the option in life is to choose convenience over making an effort to save time – is it any wonder that we have an obesity problem in this country?
Have we become so sedate that we will waste valuable time waiting if waiting means less physical exertion?
I don't want to be naïve – there are situations when choosing the drive-thru over walking in a fast food restaurant is justified. For example: If a person is handicapped in some way – or if a parent has their infant in the car seat and waiting in the drive-thru would mean enduring the process of unstrapping the child – bundling the child up – walking in and then navigating the course back to the car with child AND fast food order in hand and then repeating the strapping-in process. I can understand why the decision would be made to sit in the car rather than walk in the restaurant. But I doubt that there were 11 cases in line at the drive-thru when I passed it that had a special reason for remaining in the car.
The conveniences of our world today – including the drive-thru windows at fast food restaurants – invite laziness and laziness contributes to obesity. Whether at work or at home - how many times are you making the decision to favor convenience over exerting effort?
Maybe we should not be so quick to submit to all of the conveniences that are available and look for opportunities to get up and move!
Two golfers got into an argument over the rules at a golf course in Pennsylvania, and one golfer allegedly hit the other in the head with a 3-wood! Punches were exchanged and both men face charges.
Police in Uniontown, PA filed charges against Roger Harris, 63, and Bryan Bandes, 42, who were golfing with a group at the Springdale Golf Course when an argument started over rules about "casual water" – or puddles – following a brief rain shower.
The argument began on the 5th hole and the two men began arguing again on the 7th hole. A police complaint reports that Harris hit Bandes with a 3-wood and both men began trading punches!
When the fight ended, Harris had a swollen jaw and lip and a scratched eye. Bandes was taken to a nearby hospital and was treated for a mild concussion and an injury to his forearm – which he used in an attempt to block the swinging golf club.
Harris was charged with aggravated assault and simple assault because he used a weapon – his golf club – and Bandes was charged with simple assault.
Grown men getting into a physical fight over the rules at a golf club! And we criticize a young generation for losing their temper!
There is a problem with any man who would use his 3-wood as an assault weapon against another golfer over an argument about course rules. And let's not blame the golf club – it's what people do with golf clubs that pose a threat to our safety!
It is difficult for adults to criticize a young generation for acting on an impulse of rage when adults are doing the same thing.
Apparently, another argument erupted after the fight when Bandes demanded that Harris count the swing of his 3-wood as a stroke. Police did say that lesser charges would have been filed if Harris had just used his putter instead.
As courts across the country – even in red states – continue to rule that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, those still fighting the battle to ban marriage equality are growing desperate.
Sixty-three conservative Texas Republicans have signed a court brief saying that marriage equality could lead to legal incest, pedophilia and polygamy. Since the group of Republicans admits that their fears are not necessarily a "logical next step" in marriage equality, one can only conclude that this is another scare tactic being used to instill panic in America over same-sex marriage.
It is truly amazing that so many people make the argument that legal same-sex marriage could lead to incest and pedophilia. Same-sex marriage is a decision made by two consenting adults – incest and pedophilia are actions with young innocent victims. Since polygamy is a decision made by consenting adults, it is hard to argue that it should not be an option. But to link incest, pedophilia or the even more sophomoric concern about people marrying their dogs to same-sex is beyond common sense logic.
When animals are wounded they will often become more vicious. The crusade to stop the legal recognition of same-sex marriage is essentially now a wounded animal that is becoming more and more desperate and vicious.
Recent attempts across the country to invoke religious freedom as a reason to refuse service to gays and lesbians is another example of desperation by those still clinging to the idea that they have a right to control the decisions of others.
The day will come – and I will still be on the radio talking about it – when America will look back and wonder why there was such a controversy over same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage will be legal in America - and those who are predicting the demise of our society as a result will be proven completely wrong.
During the late 1950s and into the 1960s, America's self-proclaimed Moral Majority led a crusade to ban birth control pills fearing that legalizing a birth control pill would cause promiscuity to rage out of control. The Supreme Court ruled that a ban on birth control pills was unconstitutional. Most Americans find it hard to believe that the attempt to ban birth control pills reached the Supreme Court. It is also hard to believe that the races were segregated and that whites and blacks could not marry.
This country has evolved and will continue to evolve driven by the growing awareness of being human. "The-sky-is-falling" predictions are rarely fulfilled and yet – those who so boldly make the ridiculous predictions never seem to admit they were wrong.
Last month's 45th anniversary of our moon landing rekindled the patriotic spirit that Americans felt when two men planted an American flag there. For years during the Cold War, Russia was ahead of the U.S. in the space race, but America caught up and passed the Russians; landing on the moon was a final score of sorts. America won.
Recalling the incredible pride in that moment – some Americans have begun talking about the feelings of patriotism that would be inspired by sending Americans to Mars.
ULL Professor Dr. Ray Boudreaux attracted national news when he proposed a possible solution to the bone loss suffered by humans in space. Bone mass is reduced by 1% to 2% for each month spent in space. The trip to Mars would take 3 years, so the loss of all that bone mass would be a significant problem. Dr. Boudreaux has proposed a bone-loss treatment drug along with resistance exercise by using pneumatic-powered equipment in space.
During the 2012 presidential election, candidate Newt Gingrich described himself as a visionary with plans for a massive new space program that included establishing a permanent colony on the moon – declaring part of the moon as U.S. territory – with colonists petitioning for statehood status. The Gingrich space plan also included sending Americans to Mars. (And he wonders why he didn't win the nomination!)
It has been determined that there is no life on the moon – but the possibility of life on Mars has not been ruled out. The idea of colonizing the moon and then going onto Mars got me to thinking about the parallels between space exploration and our current border controversy.
Mars might be a peaceful place that offers better opportunities for Americans and their children and a place to go to get away from crime and violence on our planet. Traveling the long distance to Mars might be considered worth the risk for a better life.
If there is intelligent life on Mars and if we did land on the red planet – would that make Americans "illegals?" If there is a population on Mars we would be entering their atmosphere – their border – with Martians viewing us as a species that is illegally entering their planet?
If there is talk radio on Mars, I can imagine many of the Martian hosts condemning Americans for crossing into their atmosphere for hopes of a better life. There might be talk about the burden that we would place on the Martian government – from abusing their health care system to enrolling our children in their schools.
The leader of Mars would be pressured to secure the Martian atmosphere, and to stop Americans from illegally entering their planet with no visible means of support. Desperate for work and willing to work for less, the newcomers would send Martians into a rage over lost jobs. Martian political candidates would campaign on the theme of securing the atmosphere and stopping Americans from taking advantage of a better life on Mars.
Americans might make the difficult and dangerous voyage to Mars seeking to escape the battles over religious beliefs and attempts to force everyone to agree on certain moral values. We would not be going to Mars to establish as religion – rather to escape religious controversy.
There was a time when the New World – America – was a distant and unknown as Mars is to us today. But if Americans went to another planet in search of a better life, greater opportunities and freedom from violence and today's most heated controversies – would that make us any different from those who are criticized for doing the same thing when they come to America?
If a video goes viral – are those who watch it partly responsible for inspiring its content?
An Internet video of a man apparently kicking a squirrel off the edge into the Grand Canyon has gone viral. Grand Canyon Park officials are investigating to determine if the video is real or a hoax.
In the video – a shirtless man wearing a cowboy hat leaves a trail of food with the final piece of food on his shoe. When the squirrel gets on his shoe to get to the food – the man kicks the squirrel over the edge and into the Grand Canyon. Park officials are also looking for the man responsible – but say the chances of finding him a very slim.
If you haven't heard about this video, will you try to find it to watch it? Will you share it with your friends with the caption, "You gotta see this!" Maybe you have already heard about the video – did you watch it and share it?
People continue to video outrageous – and sometimes dangerous – behavior to post with the hope of the video going viral. If we watch those videos – are we supporting the outrageous and dangerous behavior featured in the videos?
If the video of a man kicking a squirrel into the Grand Canyon is true – then the video was made and the squirrel kicked to his/her death with the expectation of an audience. By viewing the video and sharing it – is the audience actually participating?
Entertainment and even the news reflect the audiences. A video – as a medium – reflects its audience. Movies are made because of the expectation that people will watch movies – bizarre videos are made because people will watch and share and if the video goes viral the "actors" and "producers" gain their own form of celebrity status.
The viral video of a man kicking a squirrel into the Grand Canyon is a perfect way to explain the relationship between the medium and the audience.
There is condemnation of the news for presenting certain news stories – there is criticism of Hollywood for making certain movies – but in both cases isn't it the audience that determines the content of news and entertainment? If viewers responded to hard news in the way they respond to sensational news – then there would be more hard news.
It is easy for the audience to blame the news, movies or any medium for the content that features violence – but if the medium reflects the audience then the individuals who make up the audience should recognize their contribution to the actual content.
Humans are innately fascinated with violence. That doesn't mean all humans want bad things to happen – but it is in our nature to be intrigued by violence. If a violent act occurs – human nature will lead many to watch. But if a violent act is planned and carried out for the sake of attracting an audience – does not the audience bear some responsibility for the act?
If it was not expected to draw a mass audience – would the man have kicked the squirrel?