Context

Context

I’m going to explore this a little more fully when I have some time to go find references, which I don’t have time to do this morning, but you better pay attention to this because it may explain some things about the posts I’m making here and why I’m so very, very appalled not just at what’s happening to people across the country but why I can’t believe what some of the people I’ve known for decades are saying.

I attended the School Without Walls (SWW) from 1977 to 1981. The school, part of a movement that came about in 1968, was very different from traditional high schools. Some of the people reading this note attended the school with me, and I’m shocked to hear what some of them are saying. Shocked because they clearly did NOT understand why SWW existed in the first place, and I’m frustrated because they’re not listening now.

Teachers, students and parents from Monroe High School founded SWW because they needed a place to learn, in an environment that was exploding after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. That core group came from a mix of backgrounds and the student population was diverse, too. It was an intense four-year journey for me, that launched a career of writing, even if I haven’t been paid for much of it.

I’m not going to pretend or idealize the experience I had while I was there, but I can count at least 40 people on my Facebook Flist who attended or graduated from SWW. So here’s the thing. Check it out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_Rochester_race_riot

And you thought Rochester wasn’t part of that?

You want to know where SWW derived? Look up the Free School Movement.

I’m not saying folks aren’t paying attention. I’m saying they’re not applying an empathy filter. Put your own kids in the place where Michael Brown was, and imagine what this would be like for you. If you can’t put yourself in that place, examine WHY you can’t do that. Is it because you don’t get it, or because you simply can’t imagine your kid being shot just for being big and belligerent? Not your kid’s style? So what? USE YOUR IMAGINATION! Put yourself or your son or daughter or their friends in that place.

The core problem with today’s world, with all the arguments about money, guns, race, equality, sexuality? They are happening because people (some of them on my own Flist) canNOT imagine what this is like and because they don’t get it, they think it’s okay, what’s going on with the cops today.

I’m telling you, that’s wrong.

If you still want to know what’s wrong with this country, maybe it’s because you can’t imagine what it’s like to be Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Tamir Rice or their siblings or their parents or their friends. And you can’t imagine that cops could possibly be corrupt or that the system does fail.

And to those of you who find yourselves wondering how this could possibly be happening, I say it’s time you woke UP!

You’re being set up. Educate yourself.

The court case I got called for over the summer? It had eerie overtones and I’m glad I wasn’t on the jury because I don’t think in hindsight that I could be impartial. Here’s how it shook out:

Ex-cop Johnnie Riley sentenced for shooting handcuffed suspect

Now the thing is, would he have gotten jail time if the cop had been white? Would he even have been indicted? We will never, never know.

No, not all cops, not all lawyers, not all courts, but if there’s even one that’s practicing the law as if some people aren’t worth the same as others, that cop or lawyer needs to GO!

And if we don’t try these people in a court of law, we will never know what happened.

Where’s the justice in that?

Race is fiction. Racism is very, very real.

#blacklivesmatter #justiceisbroken

Gutenberg in reverse?

Gutenberg in reverse?

So sorry it’s been so long, but I’ve been busy in a combination of studying for my two college courses and fulfilling my civic duty to file tax forms so I can continue to receive student aid.

Classes started just three weeks ago. The two courses are 2-Dimensional Design and Western Civilization to Modern Times.

I’m finding the former class is challenging my views of space and the latter my perspective on current events. Of the two, I think the latter’s also more useful in the context of this blog.

Interestingly, we started class by reviewing the changes in Europe during the Renaissance. In at least one class, Gutenberg’s bible was a subject of brief discussion, lumped in with other luminaries and quickly overcome by the importance of Martin Luther, John Calvin and the Holy Roman Empire.

Gutenberg’s contribution to society, the printing press, brought reading down to the more pedestrian classes, spreading literacy and driving the Renaissance forward in many unexpected ways.

That, in part, is why I am shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you) to find that libraries are among the current budget cuts being proposed to government in the upcoming Sequestration.

Let me try to tackle this briefly, because sooner or later I need to go to sleep, but this topic is on my mind and I’ll keep stewing about it until I get it out of my system.

So, let’s see. We’re seeing a huge surge in sales of the Kindle, Nook and other E-readers. Many cell phones and other hand-held devices carry with them the ability to read books and web sites, not just answer calls or surf the web.

Many books are being locked up by the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. And with books going out of print every day, libraries running out of space for storage and fewer and fewer archivists hired to preserve volumes, more books are becoming obsolete. No big deal, right? Except for all those people who don’t have computers because they can barely feed themselves or their families.

It’s like the digital revolution for television signals. We assume a digital converter that costs just a few dollars will justify changing to an all digital format, but have resulted in discarded analog televisions. People who can no longer receive television signals unless they have the proper equipment because their old tvs can’t handle digital without modification or replacement. No books, no newspapers, because all the media has become electronic.

And we wonder why the literacy rate isn’t where we think it ought to be. There’s a colossal disconnect, funded by special interest groups who want to sell more televisions and found the market flat. What better way to increase sales than to discard an entire format? The same is happening with books. Movies, too, thanks to Netflix, Hulu and other companies that make it easy for those with the right equipment to watch what they want, when they want it.

But hold up. Wait a sec.

Have you looked at the cost of an internet connection lately? Or the availability of computers in libraries? When the library is open at all, that is. What’s a poor person to do? Subscribe to the newspaper, of course. Right.

Except that print media in general is suffering historically low sales. The big guys are turning increasingly to online delivery and subscription, the poor be damned.

No problem. Kids can get this stuff at school. Right?

Wrong.

Public education is so underfunded, we can’t guarantee all our kids will have access to the text books they need. And that’s just elementary and secondary education. College textbooks have become ridiculously expensive, and they were already overpriced the first time I attended college, back in the mid-80’s.

We are working harder and harder toward a permanent poor. Let the uneducated or hopeless commit crimes because they can’t get ahead any other way, and these people become indentured servants, free or extremely cheap labor. Pretty soon, the only ones who’ll be able to read are the ones who can afford the books.

But isn’t that what Gutenberg was fighting by creating a printing press in the first place? So we step centuries back in enlightenment while the current bourgeoisie keep raising prices in the interest of “Free Market Expansion” and we’re supposed to thank them for the privilege.

Something is rotten. It’s the smell of hypocrisy. And the revolution everyone is so worried about that they all need their precious semi-automatic multi-round magazines isn’t the government coming to get them. It’s that permanent underclass. Folks are remembering the race riots of the 1960’s.  That’s why they’re so afraid.

How do we fix the problem?

By following our own Constitution and avoiding a country split by the haves and have-nots.

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

If we do these things in the spirit for which the Constitution was intended, I think we will discover ourselves to be fulfilling the dream Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about, and we can be proud of our accomplishments. We’ll race back to the top of the pile in education, forward-thinking progress, fundamental liberty and the pursuit of happiness that our forefathers wanted when they broke from Mother England. We’re not going to get there by supporting Free Market Thugs who think only of their own bottom line, and to hell with anyone else.

This I believe.

Won’t they ever learn???

Won’t they ever learn???

DH just gave me this lovely little tidbit for my own blog post. Can’t help sharing with other folks.

The More Things Change… A Review by Doug Brown (Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime: From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism)

Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism by Geoffrey R. Stone

Debating Polk’s declaration of war on Mexico in 1848, Abraham Lincoln’s law partner argued the president should have the right to declare war on another country to repel invasion. In an amazingly prescient bit of writing, Lincoln disagreed: “Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purposes, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, ‘I see no probability of the British invading us’; but he will say to you, ‘Be silent; I see it, if you don’t.'”

Interesting, huh…?

Have I ever mentioned that there was a book in the library at my elementary school, which I always sought out and which (if such records still existed) would probably prove to be the only book I checked out more than once? It contained the lyrics to a whole bunch of songs, including the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I could listen to that song all day – even though the lord she wrote about isn’t mine.

Here are the lyrics, just so I can find them again, without digging through my lyric books. BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC

And finally, in honor of the man whose name has become synonymous with the word freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream

Speech delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. (70 days before my birth, 86 days before the death of JFK).

How far we have come, and yet…

Theme: Elation by Kaira.