Monday, April 20, 2015
do not fold...
Today's N.Y. Times has an article:
"Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat."
The story reports on the situation of Walter Scott, the man who was shot dead by the policeman in North Charleston, South Carolina.
The article describes problems in the family law and family court systems and child support issues, and how apparently in some places, they put someone in jail for being behind on child support, and then the person obviously cannot make money to pay the child support while in jail...a lot of the Reader Comments liken the practice to England's "debtors' prisons" which were reformed, and then abolished, 200 years ago.
I mean, what kind of progress is that?
Listen to Reader Comments -- or rather, read them -- and you just think, Why cannot anyone get along, anymore?
Why is the government (local government, courts, CSE, etc.) in people's private business, bothering them? And bothering the police about it? Why can't an ex-husband and ex-wife just agree to financial obligations and care-taking obligations between themselves? Why should gov't. have anything to do with that, at taxpayers' expense?
How are the police supposed to focus on keeping the peace, patrolling the neighborhood, and protecting the public, and respond if there's a bank robbery or something, if they're being directed by government agencies to go stalk some hapless person who barely has a job, and push him around...?
A Reader Commenting from
"It's sad that it takes the police killings of unarmed African Americans for the media to focus on long-standing injustices caused by corrupt traffic law enforcement (Ferguson); criminalizing trivial transgressions of the law (NYC/Garner), and now this article on the mass incarceration of child support scofflaws."
"Scofflaw" - ? Have seen that word, don't know exactly what it means and I'm not looking it up because it sounds like an insult, and that brings me to another idea I had:
Something we can take immediate control of is our language, and how we refer to each other.
We don't need to say "scofflaw" whatever that is...
And the phrase "deadbeat dads" is wrong,
And even the word "cop" is not particularly respectful.
I think we should say "policeman," or "policemen." (Or policewomen blah blah blah...)
We can stop calling everybody these names that are slangy, and range from borderline not-respectful, to outright contempt.
I don't agree with a system which encourages people to look around and see who they might think they might be better than and start referring to them by some snotty term which makes the speaker feel "better than" only for a moment and then there's that sad uneasy undertow in the head and heart as the speaker feels, and knows, that he isn't "better" and also that he just lowered himself a little by saying that because it wasn't nice, generous, or dignified.
A glance at Reader Comments leads one to think that the system needs an overhaul -- while it is sometimes, apparently, abusive toward people, there are also people that manage to abuse and misuse the system in an ongoing guerilla war against their ex-spouse; it's appalling...
And that policeman in South Carolina, Mr. Slager -- last week I thought, "What an awful person" but then the thought kept coming back to me, This person -- lived in a society, and was trained in a system; he's not just all proactive, thinking up his ideas all on his own -- he's also a product of a system. A system which countenances or even teaches attitudes which
ended with -- a video sequence where he goes over, picks something up off the ground, and goes back over to the dying man and plants the item -- ("taser"? "evidence"?) next to him.
Talk about man's inhumanity to man.
And the capper is how calm, slow, and casual -- how automatic, is the cover-up -- the laying-out of the story, the design of the future lie which will apply to what he has just done.
"The way we're going to now say it was."
This preparation of a lie appeared to be as natural and automatic, to him, as rinsing out a coffee mug at the kitchen sink.
----------------------------- (Brrrrr.) That is a bigger problem than just one guy.
In the (near) future when we change the laws and policemen routinely and quietly keep the peace and protect the public, weapon-free (no guns, no tasers, no pepper spray) then the policeman is better off, too. Because look at it -- this South Carolina policeman, Mr. Slager, has ruined his own whole life now, as well.
In America, we can do better than this. And we have to do better, because with the global economy, we have to "set an example," as it were, to emerging nations and cultures. We don't have a choice; we have to set a good example, and we can rise to the occasion.
The people in ISIS, for example -- they have the task of learning to live successfully in the modern world. They have to learn how to do two things:
1. Live, not die, and
2. Work at something productive instead of killing people.
A big part of learning to do things right instead of wrong, is having an example to look to. And the whole world looks to America. That's why they love us. (And hate us. And love us....)
To set a good example, of authority exercised in a mature, peaceful manner in our democracy is a
a Christian imperative,
and -- for those who may not have time for Christianity or -- morals -- there's also a purely practical and self-serving imperative: we have to set a good example so that terrorists and other benighted people around the globe can see how to live, do it themselves and start to feel good instead of bad, and then they won't keep trying to kill us, or others...