Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Punishment Should Fit the Crime

Here in California, there is alot of attention being directed at the issue of child exploitation; specifically, Jessica's Law which would make the laws in California more strict towards those who choose to abuse children sexually. Check out the Current Law vs. Jessica's Law Fact Sheet on the website above for a good synopsis of what the new law will do to change existing laws already in place.

What surprises me is that some legislators are opposed to tougher laws against child molesters for varying reasons, none of which I think are valid:

1. It would cost too much administratively
Can anyone put a price on keeping children safe from sex offenders, most of whom are repeat offenders with a high likelihood of striking again?

2. It would force sex offenders to move, this is deemed "unfair" by some.
If you weigh the potential "inconvenience" of relocating to a neighborhood farther from schools and parks to the lifetime of damage that is inflicted on children by these crimes, I think it is more than reasonable. In my opinion, these people are lucky to be free at all and should be willing to put up with a little hardship in light of what they have done.

3. Combined with California's current "3 strikes" law, would put more "lifers" away, costing California tax payers more over time.
And? I pay taxes for alot of things I do not agree with, so paying to keep these people behind bars wouldn't bother me in the least.

These are just a few of the "reasons" cited by law makers as to why they think stricter legislation is wrong for California.

California law makers have attempted to pass alot of bills that would have made it harder for sex offenders to re-offend; disappointingly, alot of the measures failed by partisan votes of California's Democrat heavy legislature. The fact that our children's safety is being treated as a partisan issue is inexcusable. Californians for stricter laws are scrambling to get enough signatures to put this measure on November's ballot because attempts to pass it legislatively have failed.

It boggles me that this is even a debate. If an adult, male or female, chooses to abuse a minor sexually, they should pay the price. The popular viewpoint is that sex offenders can never be cured, while there are experts that say recidivism among sex offenders is similar or less than that of other types of crimes.

If you ask me, either way makes no difference because this crime is like no other in that it is sexual in nature and involves a child. One California legislator, Mark Leno, has suggested that the possession of child pornography be treated the same as drug possession, only possessing a certain amount should be considered a felony and should otherwise be treated as a misdemeanor. Again, this flies in the face of logic as a child was not directly harmed in the creation of a drug like meth or crack cocaine. In order to produce child pornography a child is damaged so these are not synonymous.

James Manning over at Peace On That will rib me for using this format, but I am interested to know how you all would approach this issue:

1. If your state doesn't already have strict laws against sex offenses, would you use your vote to support stricter legislation, no matter what the cost?

2. Should we be sympathetic to those involved with these types of crimes because they are "sick" and have difficulty controlling their urges?

3. Do crimes involving sex and/or children deserve to be treated differently legislatively than other felonies, like drug possession or assault?

Friday, January 27, 2006

The End of an Era

Last week we lost one of the great ones, Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006), and not ONE blogger (at least the ones I read) mentioned it! I am among those who are moved by his raw vocal style and great songs. Try to find someone who HAS NOT heard "Mustang Sally" or "The Midnight Hour". Not to mention the musicians he has influenced to make more great music, or at least a good cover of one of his hits. He made music from 1959 to 1972 that lives on in the hearts and minds of many.

My personal favorite is "A Man and a Half". Any who own any of Mr. Wilson's cuts, may I suggest you play some of his stuff as a tribute.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Guess What Kind of Car I am!

I'm a Chevrolet Corvette!

You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Cowboys and Girls

Our first child is a girl, Ninah, and she is almost one year old. I have to admit when we found out she was coming I was a little dissappointed; I think every man wants a "little man" around the house that he can teach to play baseball, play army men, etc. Before Ninah was born, a good friend who has a daughter himself told me, "Having a girl will make a man of you." I wasn't sure what he meant, but he is rarely wrong.

The day she came into our world, I think it hit me why a little girl will make you a better man. What us guys are missing, which is also why we love women so much, are traits that are inherent in females. They love with their hearts, not their minds; are more sensitive towards others; tender-hearted and so many other things that I lack. Being raised by a single mother helped me understand women a bit. Getting married and being with my woman 24/7 (we didn't move in together until after marriage, old school style baby!) certainly helped me be more sensitive, but having a little woman to take care of takes the cake!

Every thing I do must be done gently so that she grows up to be a little lady. I am quicker with words to correct her and slower to anger. It has made me softer, more gentle and I think Ninah's little brother who is coming soon will benefit from Daddy having a girl first. I will never know of course, but I think it would be less likely that I would learn these things from a little baby boy. We males have a tendency to assume that making their boys "tough" means being harsh, more rough. What I have discovered through my little baby girl is that the key to raising a child who is ready for the world (remember that group? "Oh Sheila...") is one thing: Confidence. They have to be confident in themselves. Trying to make them "not sissies" by being rough and discouraging behaviors we may think are not manly, like hugging and kissing and being emotional only causes them to miss out on the love and affection they are hard wired to crave from their parents, daddy included.

When kids enter the world missing the affection and love of their fathers they do their darndest to replace that love with sex, drugs, food, and any other thing that gratifies, if only temporarily. Most fathers would not see themselves as nurturers, and indeed it does not come as easily to us as women, but we must try.

So my little boy is getting lots of love and hugs and kisses from me, followed by toy trucks, plastic guns, and little army men.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Hip Pop

This is a rant I have had stored up in my mind for a long time and now I have the perfect forum to let it out!

I can not stand the direction that rap music has taken over the last decade. Way back when, it was all about who was the better MC, who had the best flow. Now, anybody can get a record deal! I would be suprised if 20% of today's most popular MCs could could even hold their own in a freestyle contest!

There was a period of time when rap music was gaining popularity and going from underground to the top 10 and my reaction was, "Good, it's about time people started paying attention!". Little did I know that mainstreaming this music genre would ultimately destroy it.

Way back, rap lyrics were about social issues, politics, and MC battles; now it's all about platinum this, 24" that, big mansion over there, this kind of car... what doesn't make sense to me is even the first-timers who are new to the game are talking this mess; how did you get so rich if you JUST GOT STARTED? I guess I could wager a guess, but that's beside the point.

You could not survive in the 80's and early 90's by acting just like the next guy and having no talent, you would get eaten alive, no one would respect you or buy your album!

I stick to the rap I know and love: Rakim (best MC ever), KRS One, Kurtis Blow, Whoudini (oh, I will blast "Haunted House of Rap" out of my car window), Big Daddy Kane, Tribe Called Quest... you know, REAL MCs who could write lyrics that make you nod your head.

Alot of genres of music have survived the ages and managed not to look stupid in the process: Rock, Jazz, Country, so why do I have to go BACK to listening to underground rap music to be moved?

Tragically Hip

Picture this: A 31 year old white male driving through the neighborhood with rap music blasting from his vehicle. What comes to mind? Apparently what comes to some people's minds is that the situation is comical because I actually get laughed at sometimes just trying to enjoy my music of choice in the privacy of my car.

Mostly it is high school age kids who are more hip to current trends in music, fashion, etc, who think I am some aging white dude holding on to his youth for dear life. Maybe a mid-life crisis?

It is a little embarassing but not enough to make me change what I am listening to, after all, I like it and am not trying to make an impression.

In the early 80's, when rap music was beginning to gain popularity but was still far from mainstream, is when I was indoctrinated into the genre. I grew up in a racially diverse neighborhood so I was exposed to alot of rap like, RUN-DMC, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, The Sugar Hill Gang (you know the cut), which I played over and over again until I had the words committed to memory. In my circle of friends, these were the songs it was "cool" to know.

Most of what you will hear coming out of my car stereo is rap music of the 80's and 90's because as far as I am concerned, rap music has died, save a few exceptions of real MC's that are staying connected and not just trying to buy more stuff so they can rap about it.

I guess it is just my burden to bear that folks will think I am pitiful for listening to what I do. I have also been jabbed for being an "aging hipster" because I wear jeans and sneakers more often than not. Is there some unwritten rule that as you age you HAVE to listen to classical music (maybe country?) and wear Khakis, dress shoes, and polo shirts? This just would not be me.