• Rejection letters and other wallpaper

    Rejection is an odd adversary in the literary world. Odd because, at times, it can be more friend than foe. A writer can use the motivation that comes from being rejected—that which does not kill us, makes us stronger. Although, I can’t remember who said it, but it’s also been said that not everyone makes it out of that first category. For a writer, the metaphor would apply to surrendering to the death of one’s literary aspirations.

    Having published three books, so far, would seem a bona fide literary success, and it truly is. I’m extremely grateful and fortunate to have had my hard work pay off. However, and again, this is where rejection is odd; my first book publishing success came riding in on the coattails of a huge rejection.

    I had submitted a novel to an agent for consideration. In my cover letter I happened to mention some other projects I was working on, including a non-fiction book. Well, you guessed it; the agent rejected my novel but was interested in the non-fiction project, which she sold in short time as, Is There a Problem, Officer? A Cop’s Inside Scoop on Avoiding Traffic Tickets. (Globe-Pequot Press, 2007).

    To make it even more odd, this was a book based on my first published national magazine article (in American Iron Magazine), which I got a year after submitting a query. The point is, one never knows from where success or for that matter failure will come. The key is to stay true to what you write and keep at it.

    Another key to handling rejection is to understand that the agents, editors or publishers rejecting you may have their heads firmly implanted up their posteriors. In other words: They could very well be wrong. There are too many literary luminaries who have received rejection notices for that not to be the case. Of course, sometimes they’re right, but that’s another issue for another day.

    There is a great article in the current issue of Poets & Writers by Louise DeSalvo that truly puts the rejection issue into perspective. There are many stories of authors who wallpaper their offices, or, perhaps more appropriately, their bathrooms with rejection notices. According to DeSalvo, Stephen King used to impale rejection letters on a nail in his wall. Aside from some great advice about not considering agents, editors and publishers too authoritative, DeSalvo relates a rejection letter received by no less a literary luminary than F. Scott Fitzgerald after submitting The Great Gatsby. The editor wrote, “You’d have decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”

    Keep on writing.

  • SPD Officer DOJ lawsuit

    Once again, as the proverbial broken record, or frustrated town crier, clarification must be made after a recent Seattle Times editorial failed to put the SPD officer DOJ lawsuit, brought for legitimate officer safety concerns, into an honest context. The Seattle Times editorial attempts to reduce the “complaining” officers to pathetic whiners simply resisting “reforms.” Well, what if there were no need for reforms? What if the people making the contentions of systemic and widespread police abuse were lying? What if people don’t know about these lies because the city’s only major newspaper refuses to provide its readers with a sustained, balanced perspective?

    Not one place in this editorial is it mentioned that the DOJ’s initial studies were, to be generous, flawed—to be accurate, fraudulent. The inception of what led to a federal consent decree was tense, contentious and controversial. Here’s the federal formula, also used in many other cites: The DOJ comes to town, insults and lies about Seattle’s police officers’ “patter and practice” of using excessive force, issues a fraudulent report, which is debunked by an eminently credible source, and then the Seattle Times acts surprised, even indignant, when some officers express legitimate resistance to policies that may very well send them to their final assignment in that police precinct in the sky.

    The Times, exhibiting its perpetual and profound bias, lack of accuracy, and lack of proper context toward issues supporting Seattle’s police officers, not only failed to mention anything about the initial controversy, it doesn’t mention that a Seattle University Professor’s more thorough studies debunked the DOJ’s findings. The professor’s results were published in an article titled, “Department of Justice owes the Seattle Police Department an apology.” The sub-heading tells the true story: “The U.S. Department of Justice’s probe of the Seattle Police Department stretches credulity with an analysis of questionable quality, says a Seattle University professor, Matthew J. Hickman.” Though this article was originally published as a, Special to the Times, the Seattle Times has since exhibited an odd aversion to evidence that would provide balance to this controversy and show support for the city’s police officers.

    The Times, in cheerfully expressing how relatively “few” SPD officers are a part of the lawsuit, also fails to mention that, while the Seattle Police Guild leadership may oppose the specific tactic of bringing a lawsuit, they support the important contentions made within it, which alleges valid public safety concerns regarding the city’s new Use-of-Force policy. Further, they fail to inform their readership that the officers bringing the suit are being led by a highly educated officer who is a use-of-force expert, extraordinarily skilled in law enforcement defensive tactics, and having served as a leader in formally training Seattle police officers and others in the proper use of force for well over a decade. This is not the frivolous lawsuit the Seattle Times would have its readers believe.

    The Seattle Times also fails to put into context what preceded the officers’ bringing the lawsuit. They don’t mention the intimidation tactics used by the department, and sadly the Guild, to keep more police officers from learning about or signing the lawsuit. Why don’t they provide the true context? Because it would undermine its mission of bias against police officers as brutal thugs, which, thankfully, most of the good citizens of Seattle know is a ridiculous fiction.

    As mentioned on this blog several months ago, I wrote an article, as one of the signatories to the lawsuit, for the Seattle Times. I worked with one of their editors for over a month. During that month she said the Times was very interested in printing the perspective of the officers bringing the lawsuit. However, after more than a month of submissions, re-submissions, complying for requests for revisions, and having complied with formally citing the information I was using (yes, even though it was an opinion piece), the Times suddenly “declined” (read: refused) to print the article—after a month of jumping through their hoops! To date, I am not aware of any articles appearing in the Times that have presented the personal view of the police officers involved in the suit. The site, Crosscut.com , unlike the Seattle Times, and obviously interested in a story’s varied perspectives, printed a shorter version of the article intended for the Seattle Times.

    It’s not surprising to read something in the Times that belittles or embarrasses this city’s police officers. Happens all the time. However, it is surprising that it happens with such consistency and that they are rarely called on it to any significant degree. But, then again, in a one-newspaper city, the opposition opinions become diluted across the myriad websites that do publish honest debate.

    I suppose, in the end, this may be a self-correcting problem as the dwindling readership will eventually cause the few readers that are left to find alternatives for wrapping their salmon and lining their cockatoo cages.

     

  • Social Justice Brainwashing in Academia

    As some of you may know, I have been pursuing my bachelor’s degree in English language and literature for almost three years to enhance my writing skills. I’m nearly there. I recently took a Criminal Justice 101 class. Now, why would a cop who’s just retired after twenty-two years want to take a beginners level criminal justice class? I wanted to see what is being taught since I went to the police academy back in 1992. While I had a great professor and serious and intelligent classmates, I was flabbergasted (a word that truly captures my feelings) by one thing in particular: a politically liberal version of social justice is being taught as an integral part of the criminal justice system. Students are either, being brainwashed or browbeaten toward a belief in the universal “good” of social justice as defined by political liberal bullies. In fact, check out this definition: Criminal Justice is the aspect of social justice that deals with criminal law.” So, social justice isn’t even taught as a part of criminal justice, the concept has taken over as an umbrella concept for an entire discipline. What follows is based upon a paper I wrote for this class, in response to the liberal brainwashing, which, shamefully, continues in American higher education.

    Disagreements and misconceptions abound regarding the term and concept of social justice, especially as to how it relates and applies to the criminal justice system. This is important because before one can properly implement any concept, especially such a controversial concept as social justice, into the criminal justice system, there should be agreement as to the concept’s definition. If there are inconsistencies, they should be addressed, and, if opposing factions cannot agree, the concept must be discarded. For example, how does one reconcile government social justice’ focus on a separate justice for racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, with constitutionally guaranteed equal justice for all individuals? This is a serious question because it affects the very foundation as well as the founding principles of the American justice system.

    Social justice may be laudable when defined and practiced by a private entity, such as a church. Private organizations can favor any person or group they wish to in pursuit of their private agendas. In fact, it was a 19th Century Catholic priest, Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio (1793–1862), who is credited with coining the term social justice. However, over the years, liberal politicians along with progressive and socialist activist groups have appropriated—some say, misappropriated, the term social justice. Consider this perspective at the website catholicvote.org:

    According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation.’ Social justice rightly understood is not a code word for communism, as Glenn Beck once proclaimed. Although he was right to demonstrate how the phrase itself has been hijacked by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, social justice within the Catholic faith actually means something entirely different –Stephen Kokx, 2012.

    Those who paint social justice with a liberal political brush, emphasize a focus on the rights of groups of people rather than of individuals. How does one reconcile government favoring one group of people over another, contrary to equal justice? Equal justice is most famously guaranteed in the 14th Amendment’s, “Equal Protection Clause:” “No state shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The clause specifically denotes, “… any person,” not any group or group of persons. Seattle is currently enforcing a law according to a stated social justice criteria, which stands in stark opposition to equal justice. Regarding this law, Daniel Greenfield writes in David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine:

    As Officer Pomper has pointed out, ‘Don’t you love the irony? After many years of the City and community activist groups unsuccessfully attempting to prove that Seattle police officers are guilty of racially profiling its citizens (and non-citizens), the City offers proof that it’s the one racially profiling, and further, it even wants to pass laws and implement policies to support it [social justice]. Amazing!

    To elaborate on the above quote, this Seattle law provides an apt example of how government-implemented social justice differs from that employed by private entities. Private entities do not have the authority to force any citizen to do anything against their will; however, the government, by definition, is force. Herein lies the crux of the difference. Seattle has a policy by which officers must enforce a criminal traffic law according to social justice criteria, i.e., race, ethnicity and socioeconomics, rather than by constitutional equal justice criteria. Normally, a police officer will stop a driver for a traffic infraction or crime and simply issue any violator a citation. In the case of Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree (DWLS3), a traffic crime, the officer must, instead, first submit the citation to the city attorney’s office. Why? According to assistant city attorney Darby Ducomb, “The Law disproportionately targets poor people-“ and “… city attorneys would decide which cases merited punishment.” How does one know that social justice is the clear intent here? In a video interview, City Attorney Pete Holmes said, explicitly, that he advanced, “DWLS3 change in pursuit of social justice.” This explicit statement serves as evidence of the partisan definition of social justice adopted by some in government and, apparently, also by some in academia. Adding to the corruption of equal justice, if the city attorney decides that an offender does not “merit” punishment, other citations issued in conjunction with the DWLS3 citation, other traffic infractions, are often dismissed as well. To put the social and legal ramifications more bluntly: A (non-indigent) white driver may “merit” punishment, while a black, Hispanic or poor white driver may not.

    When any academic institution’s textbook cites, with authority, “[Social] justice is a concept that embraces all aspects of civilized society.” This seems an opportune “catch all” definition, which ordains a partisan political perspective as the preferred definition of social justice, especially when there exists valid alternate and opposing definitions. One Justice 101 course quiz question, queries: “Which element of social justice refers to those aspects that concern violations of criminal law? Answer: Criminal Justice.” (2014). This makes it seem as if a universal definition of social justice is a settled issue, but it is far from it. There are many examples of how social justice is viewed from an alternate and even negative perspective. Consider this quote by eminent scholar, Shelby Steele, “… if you were black and thus, a victim of racial oppression, this new morality of social justice meantyou could not be expected to carry the same responsibilities as others.” Another intellectual luminary, author and Stanford professor, Thomas Sowell, provides the following viewpoint:

    Traditional concepts of justice or fairness, at least within the American tradition, boil down to applying the same rules and standards to everyone.  This is what is meant by a “level playing field”– at least within that tradition, though the very same words mean something radically different within a framework that calls itself ‘social justice.’  Words like ‘fairness,’ ‘advantage’ and ‘disadvantage’ likewise have radically different meanings within the very different frameworks of traditional justice and ‘social justice’.

    Another quote by, yet, another eminent scholar, Dr. Walter Williams, rounds out examples of the fact that marked disagreements, even in academia, exist with regard to social justice perspectives and definitions, “… let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you – and why?”

    These alternate perspectives on social justice, in this case offered by black American scholars, demonstrate the simple and inescapable fact that, even people who should ostensibly benefit from governmental social justice, do not agree on the liberal definition, which some of America’s colleges are attempting to implant into their students’ core knowledge. This sets up two scenarios: One, that students who have already adopted an alternate social justice perspective, will be distracted—and diminished—by a definition that is contrary to their valid political views, or, two, that politically uninitiated students will have a partisan, controversial perspective of social justice imposed on them in contravention of the professed educational goal of promoting intellectual honesty and the inclusion of disparate thoughts and ideas. Instead, they offer Brainwashing 101.

    In the end, it is clear that social justice means different things to different people. However, the gold nugget of difference is more than mere semantics. It is between an emphasis on a liberal social justice perspective, which focuses on groups: ethnic, racial and socioeconomic and a traditionally American emphasis on equal justice, which focuses on the individual. If the Constitution truly guarantees rights to individuals, then the government bestowing special rights on particular groups must be antithetical to equal justice. The two concepts cannot logically coexist when practiced by a government committed to individual liberty. The liberal definition, which is currently being taught in some college courses, and which liberal politicians are attempting to weld onto the criminal justice system, corrupts the guarantees of equal justice under the law. For liberal politicians and social scientists, the ostensible goal seems to be to make reparations, pay restitution or, perhaps, exact revenge in the name of historically mistreated groups. However, even if one were to agree that social justice as liberals define it should be employed, which group would receive what benefit and in what quantity in comparison to another group? Also, one would have to ask, who is to be appointed the grand arbiter of social justice to make these decisions? Finally, and perhaps most important of all, how can government reconcile social justice with equal justice? It cannot.

     

  • NYPD Police Officer: Why would anyone do this job today?

    I just read a great article in the N.Y. Post written by author and police supporter, Thomas A. Reppetto. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I rarely post other people’s articles, but again I must make an exception for this exceptional column written in support of the NYPD. I’ve posted a link to the article below.

    Reppetto details the attitudes of many police critics, including politicians, and puts into context the situation facing those who dare to pin on a NYPD (or many other) police badge these days. Cops have a lot going against them. One of those things is the fact that, by necessity, cops, at times, must be authoritarians. It’s a part of the job description. In essence, we hire cops to tell us what to do when we are doing wrong and to give us tickets or take us to jail when we don’t listen.

    Police officers need a greater level of understanding from the public, and the public needs to accept more responsibility for its actions. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard from people in social situations about the time some cop stopped them for a driving infraction that they, of course, did not commit. I’ve had people say to me that I’m not like most cops; I’m nice. Well, sure, calmly talking while watching our kids at the park or something. I imagine they probably wouldn’t think me so nice if they had been on the other end of my ticket book after I stopped them for a traffic infraction. After all, no one likes to get a ticket.

    Often, cops look at the cop-haters and police critics and comment on how unfair they are to law enforcement. However, we tend to neglect, or pay short shrift to those “good” citizens (some of them friends and family) who can cause just as much damage to the public perception of cops as those others when they refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

    Of course, this is not to let off the hook those badge-heavy, petty tyrants out there who treat law enforcement like it is a game. Stopping people for dangerous infractions is important and necessary. However, stopping people and interrupting their pursuit of happiness simply because you are trying to set another record for issuing tickets may do as much damage to police public relations as the cop-haters.

    As Reppetto points out in his article, cops make mistakes on the job. But so does every other person on the face of the Earth. Still, most other people conduct their business in relative calm and safety. Not so with police officers. Today, under pressure from cop-haters and politicians stricken with the do-something disease, more and more cops are getting disciplined or fired for unintentional errors, often made in the heat of a very scary moment.

    Open season on cops & no end in sight, by Thomas A. Reppeto-N.Y. Post

  • New Jersey’s Gun-Derangement Syndrome: Shaneen Allen

    How much does one have to support a particular, partisan political issue that would allow one to throw a normally, law abiding citizen, the mother of two young children, guilty of, primarily, being honest, into jail? I’d say, the answer to that is, an awful lot—with an emphasis on, awful. Many New Jersey politicians are victims of a syndrome: Gun Derangement.

    The October edition of America’s 1st Freedom magazine, published by the NRA, features Shaneen Allen: Is Shaneen Allen the Victim of State-Sponsored Persecution? In order to protect her family, after being robbed twice in a month, Allen purchased a firearm for self-defense. She completed a handgun safety course and then obtained a Pennsylvania license to carry a concealed weapon. During the handgun safety course, Allen had been instructed that if stopped by law enforcement, notify the officer of the permit and gun in your possession.

    About a week after obtaining the permit, Allen, an honest woman trying to be a responsible gun owner, was stopped by the police for a minor traffic infraction. Unfortunately, she wasn’t stopped in Pennsylvania, or in one of thirty other states with reciprocity concealed carry laws—she was stopped in the gun-hating state of New Jersey.

    Rather than recognize this as the honest error it was, a New Jersey state trooper chose to arrest the Pennsylvania mother of two young children, essentially, for being honest. Had she not mentioned the gun, the trooper would never have known, and after receiving a ticket, Allen would have been on her way. As a police officer, I always appreciated when CCW holders informed me they were armed. And though this courtesy is a safety issue for both the officer and the citizen, I’m not sure honesty, at least about guns in states like New Jersey, is the best policy.

    Had Allen been dishonest, or at least less responsible and not told the trooper, she wouldn’t be suffering this persecution. Police officers acting in contravention of America’s traditions, such as contained in the Second Amendment is a story in itself. I wrote long ago in my police guild newspaper that I, as a police officer, would never violate any law-abiding citizen’s Second Amendment rights. I would have resigned first. I’d like to see every police officer in America make a similar promise.

    So, for being honest, and having made an honest mistake, Allen has already spent 46 days in jail and could get forty-two months in prison if convicted. I’ve dealt with real criminals who hadn’t spent nearly that amount of time in jail for doing much, much worse.

    Adding insult to injury, New Jersey prosecutors have not allowed Allen to take advantage of a program seemingly devised exactly for those making mistakes or errors in judgment, as in her case. As the NRA article by Ginny Simone makes clear, “… the state’s Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) designed for first-time offenders who make non-violent mistakes, like Allen.” And, adding injury to insult, New Jersey prosecutors allowed Baltimore Ravens’ player Ray Rice to take advantage of this program, despite the fact that his crime, savagely assaulting his (now) wife, which was caught on a now infamous video, was undeniably violent. No violence, nor intent to commit any criminal act, was apparently involved in Allen’s actions.

    It seems a trite commentary to wonder how the New Jersey prosecutors working on this case can sleep at night, but I truly have to wonder. For a responsible American citizen, who has a Second Amendment, constitutional right to keep and bear arms, no different than her First, Fourth or any other right, to be slammed into jail and then be persecuted, simply for attempting to exercise that right, should embarrass New Jersey’s gun-derangement crowd right down to their freedom-usurping souls.