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Scoot's Blog

Tune in to "The Scoot Show" for lively, candid discussions about news, politics and culture with WWL's "Radical Moderate!"

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Email: scoot@wwl.com
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Scoot: Caitlyn Jenner - circus or courageous?

Even to the most tolerant and non-judgmental people, the photo of the new Bruce Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair is shocking! Describing the picture as shocking is not meant to imply that it is shocking in a bad way – just shocking!

The Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner and appears on the cover of an iconic magazine wearing a white retro one-piece swimsuit. The cover story is titled, "Call me Caitlyn." This was planned like it was the roll out of a new product – and it was. Caitlyn Jenner is the new product.

Why are so many people shocked or, in some cases, "freaked out?" Is it because they cannot mentally grasp a man becoming a woman? Or is the transformation from Bruce to Caitlyn shocking because many people are extremely uncomfortable with the fact that a top athlete who represented the epitome of masculinity is now telling us that even then he always knew he was a woman?

I think it's the latter. We all view life from our personal perspective and judge the actions of others from that perspective. We - that is, most of us - cannot imagine why anyone would not be happy in the body they were born with, but this is an exercise in learning why it is wrong to judge others from our myopic personal perspective of life.

It's okay to admit that you don't understand what Bruce Jenner is telling us about who he is and what led him to this dramatic change, but Bruce Jenner doesn't understand why you feel so comfortable in your body.

When I first saw the picture of Caitlyn Jenner on a TV monitor in the studio while I was on the air – I was stunned! I wasn't judgmental – I was just stunned. While many people are compassionate and understanding, many are also appalled by what they now see. But why?

Why are so many people harshly condemning Bruce, now Caitlyn, for the decision to follow a deep inner sense that he should have been a woman? Those who have been critical are, in no way, personally affected by the transformation and no one could logically argue that this will somehow open the door for young people to decide they want to defy their biology and become a man or a woman.

I cannot speak from first-hand experience and admit that my observations come from a straight male perspective. There is much I don't understand, and much of this is confusing. We can confess to confusion without being critical. It is human nature to consider why people make certain decisions and this is a dramatic decision that inspires questions.

Bruce said that he is not sure whether he is sexually interested in men or women. Stereotypes suggest that if you are a man who dresses like a woman, then you are gay. But that is not true. Perhaps the transgender community shares common feelings with men who are cross-dressers.

Cross-dressers are often powerful, successful and intelligent men who have an instinctive desire to dress like women. And many of these cross-dressing men are straight with wives or girlfriends or dress in women's clothes and go out with the goal of attracting the attention of heterosexual females. I don't understand that, but perhaps cross-dressing men don't understand why you, or me, would not have the desire to dress in women's clothes. It is only speculation, but when Bruce has talked about this powerful instinct that has always lived inside of him, it seems to parallel the instinct in many cross-dressers – he has just taken it to another level.

The gender, or genders, that Caitlyn Jenner is attracted to is really none of our business – anymore than the genders heterosexuals or homosexuals are attracted too.

The dramatic metamorphosis of Bruce to Caitlyn has opened a national discussion about the transgender community. That community only makes up a very small percentage of the population. This is not about the number of people who feel they were born in the wrong body. This is really about why so many are quick to judge and condemn these individuals.

If we don't understand why some people dress the way they dress or what drives them to wear their hair a certain way, then why would we be expected to know why people do what they do.

The key message in this very public transformation from Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner is we should not be quick to judge and condemn others if their actions and decisions do not hurt others. I realize many will argue that when someone's father becomes a woman there will be people who are hurt. And I understand that, but there is also room for love to bond the individuals of a family regardless of the decision to live by the hidden instinct that defines them.

The world is full of people who live sad lives because they know who they are inside – they hear that inner voice that tells them who they are – but they do not have the courage to live as that person.

I am one of the lucky ones because I am happy with who I am and I feel like I have always followed that inner voice that tells me who I am, even when that has led to harsh criticism.

I hope you hear your inner voice - and have the courage to follow it! This is your life – live it!

Comments: Scoot@WWL.com
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People : Bruce JennerCaitlyn Jenner




 

Scoot: Did media suppress coverage of peaceful anti-Islam rally?

The anti-Muslim protest in front of a mosque and Islamic center in the Phoenix area Friday became a controversial topic because the organizer of the protest encouraged all participants to bring guns.

The protest was also promoted as a cartoon-drawing contest of the Prophet Mohammed - a similar contest led to the killing of 2 radicals when they opened fire at a facility hosting a Mohammed cartoon-drawing contest recently in Garland, Texas.

The anti-Muslim protest organizer in Phoenix, Jon Ritzheimer, requested that those coming to the anti-Muslim rally bring guns and that seemed to suggest that violence was anticipated. A local motorcycle group was also promising to participate.

But the anti-Muslim rally was generally peaceful, therefore it was not a major news story. This is another excellent opportunity to draw attention to what makes the news and why. News coverage of the protest over the weekend would have been extensive if violence had erupted. The fact that it was a peaceful protest made it much less newsworthy.

Here's my take: The fact that the organizer encouraged participants to bring guns to the rally and the fact that "F*** Islam" T-shirts were sold and worn by many in attendance makes the reality that the protest was peaceful very newsworthy! The business of delivering the news everyday should also emphasize the times when tense anticipation of possible violence yields a peaceful demonstration of the First Amendment.

Approximately 250 anti-Muslim protesters, most armed and many wearing the "F*** Islam" T-shirts showed up to voice the opinion that the Muslim faith is inherently evil and an actual threat to America. And there were about 250 counter-protesters defending the Muslim faith. The violence that many anticipated never erupted and the protest illustrated how free speech should be used and respected in America.

The Washington Post reported that Phoenix resident, Paul Griffin, who attended the protest to alert everyone that Islam is contrary to American rights, said, "They want us to cower in fear because of a cartoon that somebody drew? What the hell happened to this country? I don't care if I offend anyone. This is America."

However, later Griffin told a small group of Muslims in the crowd, "I promise, the next time you see me, I won't be wearing this shirt." He shook hands with one Muslim man and said, "I won't wear it again."

Usama Shami, president of the Islamic center where the protest took place, invited everyone in to join him and the members of the mosque for prayer. Shami said, "Many had never met a Muslim" and many were "filled with hate and rage." His goal was to show that Muslim people are humans like anyone else.

Ya Ali Yoseph, 26, said that drawing Muhammed as a cartoon character is offensive and he hoped that people would gain a better understanding of the Muslim faith. Yoseph told the Washington Post, "We don't draw pictures of our prophets. Jesus was a prophet. We don't draw pictures of Jesus. In the Koran, there's a quote that says, Allah made you different groups, different tribes, different races, so you can go and learn from each other, so we can come closer to each other. This is a test to see how you treat people of different color, different ethnicity."

But the story about Jason Leger, a resident of Phoenix who showed up to condemn Muslims and wore one of the "F*** Islam" T-shirts, accepted the invitation to enter the mosque and join the evening prayer. He said that experience changed his attitude. "It was something I've never seen before. I took my shoes off. I kneeled. I saw a bunch of peaceful people. We all got along," Jason commented. He continued, "They made me feel welcome, you know. I just think everybody's points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don't believe."

How was this not big news over the weekend? I think this country is begging for more attention to be paid by the news media to the many moments when we all get along, especially the moments when an experience reveals a truth the brings people together.
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Scoot: Another test to "stand your ground" laws

Another stand your ground law is being tested in a high-profile trial in Nevada.
 
Wayne Burgarello, 74, is on trial for fatally shooting an unarmed trespasser and seriously wounding another after confronting them in an abandoned rental property he owned.  Burgarello claims one of the trespassers pulled out what he thought was a gun and that was a threat to his life.
 
According to the prosecution, Burgarello, a former schoolteacher, entered the property and opened fire on a man and a woman who were underneath a comforter on the floor.  The prosecution also argued that Burgarello was upset because of past burglaries and shooting the two people was an act of revenge. 
 
Police did not find a weapon at the scene, but the defense argued that Burgarello might have mistaken a flashlight for a gun.
 
This case puts those who support and those who oppose stand your ground laws on an ideological collusion course.  Supporters of the laws will argue that the trespassers broke the law by entering the man’s vacant property and a citizen has a right to defend his property.  Those who generally oppose stand your ground laws will argue that the penalty should not have been death.
 
There seems to be questions about the motive behind stand your ground laws.  Do the laws promote and protect a vigilante mentality?
 
Two recent stand your ground cases that generated passionate reaction demonstrate how easily these laws are misunderstood.
 
Last October, a Florida jury found Michael Dunn guilty of first-degree murder for shooting and killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis following an argument about loud music in the parking lot of a Jacksonville gas station/convenience store.  Dunn’s defense was based on his testimony that his life was threatened and the shooting was protected by Florida’s stand your ground law.  Dunn was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
 
In the other recent case, Raul Rodrigues was sentenced to 40 years in prison for shooting and killing 36-year-old Kelly Danaher after he complained about loud noise at a birthday party.  Two other men were also injured in the shooting. 
 
Rodrigues, a retired firefighter from the Houston area, video recorded the confrontation and can be heard saying, “my life is in danger now” and “I’m standing my ground” in what was an apparent attempt to set up his defense.  A neighbor testified that Rodrigues bragged about his gun collection and how the law protects shooting and killing someone if your life is threatened.
 
Long before the more recent passage of stand your ground laws, there were established laws on the books that give citizens to use lethal force to protect their lives.  In 1895, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that if a property owner does not provoke a confrontation and has reasonable grounds to believe force is necessary to protect life, then he or she is not obligated to retreat.  However, there have been laws on the books that require citizens to retreat is a safe retreat is possible.  The stand your ground laws attempt to clarify that a retreat is not required before shooing – IF life is threatened.
 
Michael Dunn tried, unsuccessfully, to argue that his life was threatened, but the fact that following the argument with teens in a car over loud music, he left, went to his car and retrieved his gun before opening fire.
 
Raul Rodrigues argued that his life was threatened, but he actually made the effort to go to his neighbor’s house with a gun to complain about loud noise.
 
It’s hard to argue that your life is threatened if you make an effort to physically place yourself in a confrontation. 
 
I have always supported gun rights and the 2nd Amendment, but with the right to own and use a firearm for protection come great responsibility and there have been a number of cases where citizens appeared too eager to shoot when maybe there were other options.  And, obviously, juries agree with that.
 
Almost every day there are stories in the news dealing with rage and the inability to cope with even the slightest inconvenience or disagreement.  We also see how quickly rage manifests itself on the road while driving.
 
For all gun owners in America who have issues with rage and anger, please remember that the right to own a gun does not grant you the right to us a gun to vent your rage and anger.
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Scoot: Shouldn't #BlackLivesMatter all the time?

If black lives matter, as the popular phrase promotes, then one has to wonder if black lives matter when an African-American dies and a white police officer is not involved?
 
Over the Memorial Day Weekend in Baltimore, there were at least 29 shootings and 9 people killed, including a 9-year-old boy.  In the last month, there have been 35 murders in Baltimore.  Is it a coincidence that this increase in shootings and killings follows the riots in response to the death of an unarmed black male in police custody?
 
There have been “whispers” that some officers on the Baltimore police force are making an effort to stand down whenever possible in retaliation for the indictment of the 6 police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Grey.  On Tuesday, a reverend that was a prominent voice during the rioting in Baltimore said on CNN that the Baltimore police were responsible for the increase in shootings and murders.
 
If police officers are indeed approaching their jobs with a passive attitude to show their disapproval of the indictment of 6 of their own, I will not defend that, but it seems that blaming the police department for the shootings and the murders fits a pattern of finding fault with everyone except those who are actually doing the killing in the neighborhoods where good people live. 
 
Even if the Baltimore police are not participating in any kind of active protest, it seems the blame for the shootings and the killings falls on those lawless souls in the communities where the killings are taking place. There should not be a consistent tendency to focus blame away from those who are actually responsible.
 
The news media rush to focus on those blaming white police officers, or in the case of the 6 Baltimore police officers, white and black officers when a black suspect dies while in custody or during a confrontation. 
 
It is unrealistic to expect police officers to be everywhere before a crime is committed.  Realistically, law enforcement responds when crimes have been committed and then investigates the crimes.  There will never be enough officers in any neighborhood in America to expect them to be in position to prevent crimes from occurring.  Police presence is certainly a deterrent to crime, but criminals will always find places to commit their crimes.
 
If we are to be the “United” States of America and if we are to live together without race always becoming an issue, then we must be bold enough to recognize and talk about the problem of shifting blame from those who are responsible. 
 
We should always understand the role our past, as a nation, plays in countless issues, but to protest and march under the banner that “Black Lives Matter” only under certain circumstances is an injustice that frees the true violent perpetrators of accountability.
 
All lives matter and black lives must matter even when the lives lost belong to a community that has been conditioned to place blame outside of the community.

Photo courtesy Annette Bernhardt, Flickr
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Topics : Law_CrimeSocial Issues
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Locations : Baltimore
People : Annette BernhardtFreddie Grey




 

Scoot: The new America, where kids can't be kids

Welcome to the new America, where kids are no longer allowed to be kids!  In this new America, kids are being robbed of what has always been perceived as a right to just be a kid.
 
The Boy Scouts of America have responded to growing fears about bombs and guns in society by declaring that water balloon bombs and squirt gun fights are “dangerous” and will not be allowed in battles with other scouts.
 
An Eagle Scout, who is a senior editor of Boy’s Life was asked about the rule and he remembered what a scout leader once told him: “A Scout is kind.  What part of pointing a firearm [even simulated] at someone is kind?”
 
Did he really use the word “firearm?”  Merriam-Webster defines “firearm” as a weapon from which a shot is discharged by gunpowder.  Exactly what is it about a squirt gun that classifies it as a “firearm?” 
 
It’s time to rally ALL common sense Americans to protest this kind of lunacy! 
 
Gun violence is a major problem in America, especially in cities like New Orleans, where almost daily there are reports of senseless gun deaths.  But any suggestion of a link between kids pointing squirt guns at each other and real gun violence in society only further confirms that this new America is built on irrational fears and is certainly void of common sense.
 
Apparently, this new information about the Boy Scouts’ position that water balloon bombs and squirt guns are “dangerous” is not a new rule.  Deep in the official BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting, young scouts are permitted to use water guns and even rubber band guns as long as they never point them at each other.  Water guns and rubber band guns can only be used for target practice.  And eye protection is required!  I hate to think of what would happen if a scout got water in his eye!  And what about those stray rubber bands? 
 
Water balloons are allowed, but only with certain restrictions.  Water balloons must be “biodegradable balloons” and can be no larger than a ping pong ball.  Do you remember the traumatic experience of being hit with a full-sized water balloon?  Well, neither do I!
 
The recent revelation that the Boy Scouts’ ban on water balloons bombs and squirt gun fights is only one of many examples of zero-tolerance thinking and how it has contributed to creating the new America, where kids can no longer just be kids. 
 
Acting like a kid is instinctive in children and the suppression of the childlike instincts of children could lead to children seeking unacceptable ways to follow their natural instincts.
 
But, maybe the Boy Scouts are setting a good example for America’s youth.  How do we know that banning water gun fights in the Scouts won’t prevent renegade young people from taking up their squirt guns and one day participating in a drive-by soaking!
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Locations : New Orleans




 

Scoot: Don't dishonor Memorial Day with hate and intolerance

This weekend is the emotional beginning of the summer of 2015.  Memorial Day Weekend still inspires a “summertime” mentality, even though we are adults and not celebrating the end of our school year.  For 12 impressionable years of our lives, we were conditioned to think of this time of year as the end of school and the beginning of 3 months of summer vacation!  And as an adult, I still sense a different attitude when Memorial Day Weekend arrives!

During the years we celebrated this weekend as the beginning of our summer, all we thought about was 3 months of not having to go to school, and that was the only meaning to Memorial Day for young students. But as adults living in the real world, I wonder how many people make an effort to actually think about the significance of Memorial Day Weekend.

This weekend, there will be BBQs, crawfish boils, picnics, road trips to the beach or to visit family and the marketplace is cluttered with special sales, but the real meaning of Memorial Day was not to remember and honor those who gave their lives serving in our military by having a party or getting a great deal on merchandise.  Yet, that is the only way many Americans will celebrate this weekend.

Memorial Day is a national holiday to honor those men and women who lost their lives serving in our military.  The most appropriate to honor those who gave their lives in service to our country is to understand our rights and live by them. Many rights are misunderstood and there is always some confusion between “rights” and “privileges.”

It is ironic that the rights set forth in the First Amendment of our Constitution are often the most misused and misunderstood.  I consistently hear the argument that “political correctness” has taken away our First Amendment rights.  That argument is based on a failure to understand that society has always evolved.  

Throughout history there were times when certain words and forms of expression were acceptable, but over the course of civilization and an evolving society those same words and forms of expression were no longer tolerated.  Changes in the way we communicate and express ourselves are not new to the era of “political correctness.”

The First Amendment still gives anyone the “right” to say anything, but there have always been and there will always be consequences for what we say and to suggest that we are losing our right to freedom of speech is absurd.

The right to free speech is also misunderstood when Americans respond with pure hate when there is speech they disagree with.  Freedom of speech guarantees the right to the free flow of ideas.  

Disagreement over what is said, by a liberal or a conservative, that leads to hate or the feeling that the person should not have expressed their thoughts is a dishonor to all of those who have served and are serving in our military, and particularly to those who lost their lives fighting for that right.

Over time, our society and our species is supposed to become more civilized, but in recent years, the hate-filled retorts to opposing ideas and opinions prove that in many ways we are regressing in our civility.

As you celebrate this Memorial Day Weekend, remember that the precious and fundamental right of freedom of speech gives us the protected right to disagree.  That is the foundation for America and the lack of tolerance and hate that dominate so many political conversations today is an unpatriotic insult to this great country – and those we remember this Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy Memorial Day!

Comment:  Scoot@WWL.com
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Scoot: Gov. Jindal signs his confession of hypocrisy

When Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed an executive order to trump the will of the Legislature on the “Marriage and Conscience Act,” he essentially signed a confession of hypocrisy.
 
Jindal has been one of many Republican politicians who have seized every opportunity to condemn President Obama’s use of executive orders.  Not only does Jindal confirm that he is a political hypocrite, but he also confirms the sad position honesty plays in today’s political system.
 
The justification Jindal and others will use to for their arrogant actions is that their beliefs about an issue are so crucial to the well-being of America that they had no choice but to use the power of executive order. 
 
This selective use of executive orders will always be justified because of the importance a politician places on the issue, but in the same way that the Constitution and the Bible should not be selectively used to support certain issues, executive orders are either an acceptable use of power or they are not.  In the case of Jindal, how can he condemn President Obama’s use of executive order for bypassing the legislative process, thus disrupting the American political system?
 
Governor Jindal issued a statement explaining that his executive order was issued “to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entitles with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
 
The deep hypocrisy that politicians subscribe to is the same hypocrisy that lives in the hearts and minds of the citizens that support the politicians and their causes.  Unfortunately, the acceptance of and the failure to recognize the hypocrisy are eroding our political system.
 
A precious few Americans are willing to apply the standards they expect others to maintain to themselves.  Another classic case of political hypocrisy in Louisiana involves Senator David Vitter, currently the leading gubernatorial candidate.  Vitter condemned President Clinton’s sexual contact with Monica Lewinsky and demanded that Clinton resign, but Vitter refused to resign after he was busted for having sex with a prostitute.  I am not one who has continued to condemn Vitter, but it is fair to use the case to demonstrate how blatant hypocrisy is in politics today.
 
Before any citizens criticize politicians for their hypocrisy, they must recognize how they are contributing to this flawed system.  Citizens who support and vote for the hypocrites in politics are an active part of the process.
 
This is not about criticizing a Republican and defending a Democrat, this is about the hypocrisy that contributes of the great divide in America.  If you condemned Obama’s use of executive orders to enforce his will, then you must condemn Jindal for taking the exact same action with his recent executive order.  If not – you must at least admit that you are a hypocrite and part of the problem.  I doubt many will.
 
Much of the support for politicians and political parties is based on hysteria.  Through social media, many mistruths are spread to the point where they are accepted as fact.  President Obama has a reputation for abusing his power to use executive orders to bypass the will of the legislative branch of government.  So far, Obama has signed about 194 executive orders.  George W. Bush signed 291 and Ronald Reagan signed 381. 

This is a painful truth to all of those who want to believe what better fits their political beliefs, but this is fact compared to the convenient myths that often become fact.
 
So – what kind of citizen will you be?  An uninformed hypocrite – or one who is willing to reject hypocrisy, even if it means criticizing the actions of the politicians you support?
 
You have a choice!
 
Comments:
 
Scoot@WWL.com
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Scoot: Is rap music to blame for the decline of Christianity?

When today’s Establishment was young, rock music considered the root of all-evil!  Today, that generation is the new Establishment and many in that generation are quick to point a finger at rap music, including Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly.
 
After a new Pew Research report was released showing that the number of Americans who identify as Christians had decreased from 78.4% to 70.6% between 2007 and 2014, O’Reilly said, “The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behavior, and that sinks into the minds of some young people – the group that is most likely to reject religion.”  The Fox host also said that “people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media.”
 
How could anyone from the Baby Boomer generation condemn a genre of music for a decline in Americans identifying with the Christian faith? 
 
Baby Boomers were a generation that defended the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which in 1970 shocked many Christians as blasphemous simply because rock music was used to convey the message of Christ.  So misguided was the condemnation of “Jesus Christ Superstar” that one criticism of the story focused on the singing of the song “I Don’t Know How To Love Him,” by the actress portraying Mary Magdalene.  The song was interpreted to mean that Mary Magdalene was singing about how to “make love” to Christ, when the song reflected the common challenge of seeking the most proper ways to show one’s love for Christ.
 
And here we are in 2015 and members of the Baby Boomer Establishment are blaming rap music for a decline in Christianity!  Oh the irony! 
 
I often wonder if pundits, like Bill O’Reilly, really believe what they say or if they are just attempting the feed the appetites of a specifically targeted audience?  This is not criticism of the Fox News Channel, or Bill O’Reilly, as much as it is a perspective on how ridiculous it is to blame a genre of music for a decline in Christianity.
 
Disliking a particular genre of music should not lead to an open season of attacks against that music.  Lecrae, a mainstream Christian hip-hop artist says, “For me, my faith dictates everything I do, so no matter what I’m saying in my art, my faith is the driver for that.”
 
If Jesus used stories – parables – that were meaningful to people, including young people, at the time to convey His messages, who is to say that if Christ were here today that he might not use rap music to tell his stories! 
 
The suggestion that Christ may have been a rapper will infuriate some, but there is no reason to believe that Christ would not use a popular vehicle for relating his messages to the masses.  Furthermore, for O’Reilly and all of those who want to blame rap music for a decline in Christianity or for violent behavior, Jesus plainly states that evil cannot be blamed on outside influences because evil comes from within.
 
The reason I believe that blaming rap music for a decrease in the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christians is motivated by the urge to satisfy an audience rather than apply logic is because the decline in Christianity may very well be the result of the negative publicity some Christians bring to our faith. 
 
Attempts to harshly judge anyone who does not subscribe to the specific moral code of those who have anointed themselves as the moral police have certainly caused considerable damage to the Christian faith in the hearts and minds of many Americans.  If one of the foundations of Christianity is not judging others, then the frequency of judging others exposes a blatant hypocrisy.
 
As candidates line up in the race for the White House in 2016, those who promote the concept of a new moral police force in America will be the losers.
 
No one should be suggesting that society has become so permissive that literally “everything goes” because that is not the case, regardless of those who would convince you otherwise.  But there are sensible Americans across demographic lines that are speaking out to denounce the wholesale judgment of others by those who fail to see themselves as the “hypocrites.”
 
It is actually some within the Christian faith who have caused the recent decline in Americans identifying as Christians – not rap music!  But blaming rap music excites an audience that is not willing to look themselves in the mirror! 
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Scoot: When would you run from police?

Under what circumstances would you run from the police?
 
A billboard campaign in Atlanta promoting residents to “Stay Calm, Don’t Run” during encounters with law enforcement has led to criticism from some members of the Atlanta City Council.
 
A city-funded public safety agency created the campaign in response to the recent high-profile cases in which unarmed black males were either shot or mistreated by law enforcement.  Twenty billboards featured a stick figure of a man running with a crossed-out red circle over it.
 
Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms said the “Don’t Run” campaign sends the wrong message by telling people they are doing something wrong by running from police.  Members of the city council said the campaign is telling residents not to exercise their Constitutional rights prohibiting unreasonable stops and searches.
 
Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean explained to a committee that this problem “is not about people running,” she said, “This is about the people who are shooting at the people who are running.”
 
Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall said the running from the police is standard procedure in many disenfranchised communities across America.  Hall recalled his past saying, “Whenever we saw the police coming, the rule was to run, especially if you might have been in the right, because more than likely you still might get in trouble.”
 
The president of the Atlanta police union, Ken Allen, also asked that the billboards be taken down.  Allen said, “The signs are telling me that the police are coming to slaughter you if you run.”
 
Some will say that I am not qualified to support a campaign that tells people not to run from the police because I’m white and I grew up in the suburbs.  However, beyond skin color, I was taught to be respectful of the police if stopped or questioned and that’s the advice I gave my son when he started driving and would be on his own when we were living in Portland, OR.  Several times that advice was valuable.
 
I have always tried to study situations and issues with the understanding that we all have an instinctive perception, but I have always challenged myself to see the other perspective.  The first step toward understanding another perspective is to admit that you may approach the issue from a different viewpoint.  Before I form an opinion about something like criticism of the “Don’t Run” campaign in Atlanta, I do the best I can to take myself out of what I know and strive to envision how someone without my view of life would see the problem.
 
That exercise brings me to the conclusion that the issue of running when you encounter the police should not be about skin color – it should be about the best course of action for anyone encountering law enforcement.  If parents and communities are not going to teach their sons and daughters the proper way to handle any encounter with law enforcement, then perhaps the burden falls on the city.
 
Executive Director Lee Reid, who led the creation of the campaign with the Atlanta Citizens Review Board says the campaign was based on a “common sense” message that running from police will only make the situation worse.  Reid also explained that if there is any harassment during a stop or questioning by police, then it is best to cooperate with the police and file a complaint later – but not run from the police.
 
Anyone who supports the message of the “Don’t Run” from the police campaign should also support the idea that law enforcement officers must show respect of anyone they stop and question and never take advantage of their position of power in the community.  There should be shared burden of respect with citizens and police, but the criticism that telling people not to run from police because it violates their Constitutional rights is dangerous advice.
 
We all remember the times when we got in trouble in the classroom because of what other students were doing and we were not part of the bad behavior, but in the end, defying the school authority was not an option or the correct way to handle the injustice.  Ultimately, we learned who the troublemakers were and we did our best to stay away from them, which diminished our chances of getting in trouble.  And so it is with life.
 
The best way to prevent encounters with the police is to always act appropriately and to distance yourself from those who are the troublemakers.
 
The changes that need to occur to ease tension in many American communities are for the police to treat everyone fairly – and for citizens to be respectful of police during any stop. 
 
In other words – don’t run!
 
When is it appropriate to run from the police?
 
Scoot@WWL.com
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Scoot: Saints, other NFL teams paid to salute the troops

If the headline read:  “Cash-strapped NFL grateful for being paid to support the troops” – that would be different from the story that many NFL fans find appalling. 
 
The Defense Department paid 14 NFL teams more than $5 million over a four-year period as payment for the teams to honor the troops.  And the New Orleans Saints were among the teams accepting money from the DOD.  From 2011 to 2014 the Saints were paid $572,875 by the Defense Department to honor the troops.
 
What makes this so disturbing is that when the stadium announcers said something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, please turn your attention to our Hometown Hero” and on the field and on the giant video screens in the stadium, fans applauded and waved and gave their hometown team credit for saluting the troops.  What fans didn’t know is that the team was paid to allow that salute to happen at one of their games.
 
An all-volunteer military means that recruiting young men and women is a constant challenge and marketing through an NFL team is an effective way to attract the attention of potential recruits.  But the façade that the teams are graciously using their power and influence to honor and salute our troops turns this practice into something many fans consider despicable.
 
During the “What’s Trending” hour of Angela Hill’s show Thursday, Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic wondered what made the other 18 NFL teams not accept money to salute the troops?  Were the teams not offered the same deal from the DOD, or did those 18 teams realize that it was dishonest to accept money for saluting our troops while giving the fans the impression that the team was making a benevolent gesture?
 
Angela Hill had a great suggestion – every NFL team that accepted money from the DOD to salute the troops could have been heroes if they would have donated the money they received to a veteran-oriented charity or organization.
 
Though the damage is done, the best thing all of the 14 NFL teams can do now is to return the money to the Department of Justice or donate the money to a veterans group.
 
Reaching new peaks in its revenue-generating juggernaut, the NFL is proving to be so driven by money that fans could become disenchanted and that could taint the NFL’s image in the minds of the very fans that make the NFL teams so rich.
 
The perception of greed on the part of the players and the NFL has the potential to erode the unconditional support from die-hard fans.
 
The NFL had gone to great lengths to embrace October as National Breast Cancer Month.  Players, coaches and even referees display “pink” during all October games and the fans give the NFL credit for its strong support in the fight against breast cancer.  But in light of the willingness of 14 NFL teams to accept money from our military under the guise of honoring our troops, one has to wonder what other false impressions NFL teams may be presenting.
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