Friday, September 19, 2014

Single File

Woman Is the N** of the World - John Lennon

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

So the guy with whom I chat at our sons’ football practices disagreed with me again.

This time it was about the Ray Rice controversy that erupted last week. My initial response after seeing the video of the Baltimore Ravens running back knocking then-fiancĂ©e Janay Palmer unconscious and then dragging her body out of an Atlantic City casino elevator like a sack of potatoes was that the guy should fry. (Palmer married Rice the day after he was charged with third degree aggravated assault against her.) He should be beaten until he can’t remember his own name, I thought. When I shared this opinion with “Martin,” he shook his head and told me I was wrong.

For those who aren’t following this, Rice – one of the best running backs in the NFL – was initially suspended for just two games by the league for his dirty deed. After TMZ released the video and spurred a major public outcry, the two-game suspension was increased to an “indefinite suspension” and he was cut by the Ravens in the middle of the five-year, $50 million contract he signed back in 2012.

Janay and Ray Rice
Martin told me that while of course getting physical with women is abhorrent, it was wrong for Rice to be punished again by the NFL for something that occurred back on February 15. Rice has already been indicted; he was allowed to avoid jail time and enrolled in a 12-month treatment program for first-time offenders. Due process and double jeopardy come into play, Martin explained, if Rice is going to be punished again. (Just as he predicted, the NFL Players Association filed a grievance on behalf of Rice earlier this week demanding that the increased discipline – the indefinite suspension – be overturned.)

Martin also pointed out that lots of professional football players are guilty of the same inexcusable behavior and it isn’t fair that Rice is the public’s scapegoat. It turns out that NFL players – including former Denver Bronco wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who now plays for Chicago, and Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer – have been arrested more than 50 times since Roger Goodell became NFL Commissioner in 2006. (And let’s not forget that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was just indicted on child abuse charges for beating his four-year-old with a switch.)

Click here to read, “How the NFL Has Punished Players Arrested for Domestic Violence.” And click here to read, “New Allegations Suggest NFL Ignored Major Domestic Violence Cases Long Before Ray Rice.”

I’m not going to get into what Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome said about Rice. I’m not going to address the fact that people are calling for Commissioner Goodell’s head and pointing out inconsistencies in his version of what happened when. These are distractions. I want to focus instead on these distressing facts:
  • One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
  • Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or other factors.
  • Every year, one in three women who is a homicide victim is murdered by her current or former partner.
  • Every year, more than three million kids witness domestic violence in their homes.
  • A 2005 Michigan study found that kids exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including getting sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches and being more tired and lethargic.
  • Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Domestic violence survivors face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks and other emotional distress.
  • Girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults and boys who witness it are far more likely to grown up to abuse their partners and/or children.
  • There’s a financial cost as well: domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical and mental health treatment and lost productivity.
Interestingly, the Rice mess hit the news just as we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the federal Violence Against Women Act. The bill, drafted by then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden and signed into law by Bubba Clinton on September 13, 1994, provided $1.6 billion toward investigating and prosecuting violent crimes against women, established an Office on Violence Against Women within the U.S. Justice Department, mandated automatic restitution by those convicted, and funded community violence prevention programs, rape crisis centers and hotlines, and legal aid for domestic violence survivors, among other functions.

The bill passed Congress with bipartisan support in 1994 (although the next year House Republicans tried to cut the act’s funding). It was reauthorized by bipartisan majorities in 2000 and 2005 and signed by Dubya. The law’s 2012 renewal was opposed by the GOP (of course) because conservatives didn’t want it to include protections for same-sex couples and illegal immigrants. After a long battle, it was finally reauthorized in March of last year.

Have I mentioned lately how much I despise mean-spirited conservatives?

Click here to read the actual “Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005.’’

Shortly before my first marriage back in 1986, my dad pulled me aside during a visit and said firmly, “Remember this. Always behave in such a way that you can look at yourself in the mirror and not be ashamed.” Truth be told, I’ve been ashamed at what I’ve seen in the mirror before. (Click here to read, “Ray Rice Isn't Alone: 1 in 5 Men Admits Hitting Wives, Girlfriends.”) But I never forgot my dad’s admonishment and I never stop trying to be a better man.

I hope Ray Rice does the same.

And I hope Martin stops changing my mind all the time.

For help or more information, call 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or click here.

Click here to read, “Senators Call for Federal Judge to Resign Over Wife Beating.” Click here to read, “Pro sports teams should adopt 'zero-tolerance' policy for domestic abuse, says Michigan House of Representatives.” Click here to read, Republican Federal Judge Caught Brutally Beating His Wife in Horrifying 911 Call (Audio).” And click here to read, “In All But Six States, You Can Be Fired for Being a Victim of Domestic Assault.”

Sources: TMZ, Baltimore Sun,, Huffington Post,,,,,,

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In Zimbabwe

The Greatest Love of All - George Benson

No Child Should Experience This

Regardless of your view about Israel or Palestine or U.S. foreign policy or politics or the Middle East, you must agree that no child should experience this. No child should know the pain of loss and war and death and injury, should see blood on their little brothers and sisters and blank, unseeing stares on the faces of their dead parents. If you don't agree that children don't deserve this, that we must work for a better world, then you are part of the problem and YOU should be dead.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Things I Hate

All About That (Upright) Bass - Kate Davis (jazz cover)

To My Loyal Readers

A local nonprofit organization hired me earlier this year to serve as its development director. I was interviewed by two women – the executive director and associate director – and received a call later that day asking if I could come back in the next day to discuss salary and start date. After working for myself for a long time – and juggling the need to secure clients with the need to do work for said clients – it was a genuine relief to land a “regular” job. Although I’m experienced and capable, it’s been challenging in recent years to compete with younger, better-educated, willing-to-work-for-less individuals for the finite number of jobs in my area. So Anita and I were very, very happy.

Two days after I started I was summoned into an emergency staff meeting and told along with my new colleagues that our executive director – one of the two who had hired me – was no longer employed by the agency for reasons that I won’t reiterate here but weren’t good.

The next four months were more than a little challenging. The associate director who co-hired me became interim director but didn’t have the time or desire to make major decisions or commitments; she was too busy trying to keep the doors open and keep the place from imploding. The disengaged, dysfunctional board of directors didn’t help much. It wasn’t easy to raise money for an organization that was drifting rather than plowing full speed ahead. I did what I thought I should do, juggling multiple balls in the air and doing what I could to position us for greater efficiency, if not success, once the new leader was identified. I even helped with the search process and helped lure the candidate who ultimately snagged the job.

I was fired shortly after she started. No two weeks notice. No severance. Not even a “thanks anyway” as I recall. Done. Five or six of us were let go unexpectedly that day and I’m told a few others were set adrift in the days that followed.

I knew the organization was financially insolvent. I knew I wasn’t bringing in the kind of cash we needed – yet – and the board probably directed my new boss to make hard decisions and take drastic measures to avoid shuttering the doors. So I tried not to take things personally and immediately fired up the Employment Search Machine again – it had barely cooled – and assured Anita that this was just a small setback. I promised her that we’d be able to keep the new van we had just purchased and that I’d land on my feet somewhere real soon.

Weeks later, I’m still looking – when I’m not taking calls from banks and creditors demanding payment and threatening to make things worse.

I’m lucky Anita’s so loyal. She’s put up with a lot from me over the years, I must admit, and a lesser person would have thrown in the towel long ago. Not my partner. She’s committed to the relationship and she’s probably the most loyal, good-hearted person I’ve met in 52 years on Planet Earth. Even she has her breaking point, though, and she deserves way more than the world, and I, have given her thus far.

I wish my last employer knew about loyalty. I was compensated every two weeks while I was there, of course, but I wish my commitment would have worked in my favor when it came time to decide who would get the axe. (They filled a new position a few weeks later so there must have been a few dollars stashed away somewhere.)

I’ve tried to be loyal to friends, family and employers in the past. My record isn’t spotless but I can sleep at night. (Actually I can’t right now, but you know what I mean.) I stayed at one job for eight years and another for over 10. I enjoy the unwavering loyalty on which we can count from our parents if we’re lucky. And nothing’s more loyal than my two Maltese pups. So I still know what loyalty is.

It seems, however, like loyalty as a concept is going the way of customer service and sense of community these days – that is, it’s disappearing. Too many politicians are betraying their constituents. Too many cops are persecuting and not protecting. Too many men think it’s okay to punch their partner’s lights out when the elevator doors close. In today’s “I don’t like what you posted so I’m unfriending you” culture, too many brands and relationships are discarded like used Kleenex and too many employers are less reliable, more demanding and laser-focused on just the bottom line.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope it’s just cynicism. And I hope there’s someone out there who values loyalty enough to consider my skills and abilities and put me on their payroll. I bet many of the 9.6 million other jobless Americans out there would love to prove their loyalty to an employer too.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.