Posts Tagged “baltimore MD”

Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers kneels on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)This might seem a bit off-topic for my blog, but it’s a sterling example of a common form of irrationality, and as such, is quite relevant. So here goes!

By now most of my readers have heard the controversy about NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who last year aroused the sanctimonious ire of football fans around the country by first sitting, and then kneeling, through the national anthem as it was played prior to the start of games (Archive.Is cached article). It’s not for me to say whether he ought to have done this or not — he said it was to protest the killings of blacks by white cops — but many fans were outraged that he would do something so horribly anti-American. He became a free agent at the end of the year, and now arguably has been blackballed by the NFL because of his protests (cached).

Even so, the guy is an experienced (if far from stellar) quarterback, and since this is such a crucial position, naturally some teams may have to consider signing him.

One of those, at the moment, is the Baltimore Ravens. The team faces a little uncertainty where their “franchise” quarterback, Joe Flacco, is concerned (cached). Thus, the Ravens’ coach and G.M. have considered hiring the “undesirable” Kaepernick (cached); but the team’s owner reportedly doesn’t want him signed (cached).

The Ravens have denied this report, as might be expected (cached).

But let’s be honest: If owner Steve Bisciotti has, in fact, expressed disapproval for Kaepernick’s hire, there’s good reason for it: As CBS Sports reports, the team’s fans are fiercely opposed to the unemployed quarterback (cached):

If the Ravens decide to sign Colin Kaepernick, it’s a decision that might not sit well with their fan base.

According to NFL.com’s Mike Silver, Ravens fans have spent the past 24 hours letting the team know that they don’t want Kaepernick in Baltimore….

If teams are afraid of fan backlash, the the reaction in Baltimore isn’t going to help things. Fans also had a similar reaction in New York. Back in May, Giants co-owner John Mara said that fans in New York threatened to boycott his team if they decided to sign Kaepernick [cached].

The irrationality of Baltimore Ravens fans getting their panties in bunches over the (possible) hiring of Kaepernick becomes obvious, when one considers this is the team that was home to linebacker Ray Lewis for over a decade and a half … much of that time after he’d been present for a double homicide in 2000 (cached). Yes, that’s right: A double homicide! Although he was never convicted of murder or manslaughter, he did plead guilty to obstruction of justice (since he’d lied to investigators), and he settled with survivors of the deceased (cached). Yet, the Ravens and their fans were saddened by his retirement following the 2012 season, and the team sold Ray Lewis tribute shirts at the time (cached). These folk, then, are the ones who can’t tolerate Colin Kaepernick being on their team after his protests. Wonderful people, no? I’d call them “raging hypocrites,” but that might give actual “raging hypocrites” a bad name.

By comparison with Lewis’s involvement in a double homicide, which doesn’t appear to have cost him the adoration of Ravens fans, their anger against the prospect of hiring Kaepernick makes no sense. In fact, the national outrage he kicked up is virtually incomprehensible. Whether or not one agrees with Kaepernick, makes no difference: This is the United States, for fuck’s sake, and he has a right to protest things if he wants to. Protests are not “anti-American.” They are, instead, “pro-American,” because in America, protests are permissible. The US has a very old tradition of protest, which goes back prior to the country’s founding. There’s nothing wrong with any protest in which no one is hurt and nothing is damaged. The same can’t be said of what Ray Lewis had been up to on the night of January 30, 2000 (cached).

Please note, I only mentioned Lewis here because he was a dearly-beloved Raven. The list of other well-loved NFL players who’ve engaged in all sorts of wrongdoing — including criminal offenses — is legion. Few of them stir up the kind of vicious rage that, to date, has prevented Kaepernick from being hired. The best example I can think of is Michael Vick, who appeared unhireable after serving a prison sentence for animal cruelty, and who also faced the nation’s ire … but even he wound up returning to the NFL (cached).

The kind of militant nationalism that has kept Colin Kaepernick from playing football merely because he sat and kneeled through the national anthem is simply bizarre, when compared with the fact that even convicted felons have been embraced by the league. It’s just that simple.

P.S. I’m aware that Kaepernick’s ability is disputable. He had a couple good seasons, but is certainly no star quarterback. Many teams will pass on him simply because they have no place for him, or because they don’t think he will succeed with them. Sometimes a player is just not good enough to stay in the NFL (Tim Tebow, anyone?) I get that. What’s less comprehensible is why the NFL could take back people like Vick — or Baltimore fans could embrace Lewis — when both were guilty of crimes; yet the NFL has virtually blackballed Kaepernick, and Ravens fans are nearly in revolt over him, when all he did was to sit and kneel through the national anthem.

Photo credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images, via CBS Boston.

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President Obama greeted families in an overflow room after speaking at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque. / Drew Angerer for the New York TimesFor years now I’ve blogged about what I call “the Great Neocrusade.” In the wake of Islamist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the Neocrusade has gone from a rhetorical effort to a physical and violent one.

President Obama took note of this, it seems. Taking a page from his predecessor, as the New York Times reports, he knocked the Neocrusade when he visited a Baltimore mosque (WebCite cached article):

President Obama on Wednesday embraced Muslims in the United States as part of “one American family” and implicitly criticized the Republican presidential candidates in a warning to citizens to not be “bystanders to bigotry.”

In a visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore, his first to a mosque in the United States as president, Mr. Obama recited phrases from the Quran and praised American Muslims as a crucial part of America’s history and vital to the nation’s future.

“And so if we’re serious about freedom of religion — and I’m speaking now to my fellow Christians who remain the majority in this country — we have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths,” Mr. Obama said.

The Right is, as one would expect, outraged over this. A lot of them still think he’s a “secret Muslim” (cached), and this visit will — for them — only confirm that delusion.

Look, I get it. These folk are angry. They hear about Islamist attacks and want all Muslims to be gone. The problem is, not all Muslims are terrorists. Being violent right back at Muslims who aren’t, themselves, violent Islamists is a form of “two wrongs make a right” thinking, and is fallacious.

Another problem is, Islamists aren’t the only terrorists who prey on Americans. Something else I’ve blogged about is the phenomenon of domestic Right-wing terror, which — despite our aversion to admitting it — exists, is real, and is at least as dangerous for Americans as Islamist terror.

Photo credit: Drew Angerer / New York Times.

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Spinello Aretino Exorcism of St BenedictFor most of the 20th century, the Roman Catholic Church downplayed the practice of exorcism. As an institution, it tended to shy away from the idea that people’s problems — particularly mental or neurological illnesses — were caused by demonic possession, and instead left it up to the practice of medicine. This was a positive development, and lent credence to the idea that these illnesses are not of metaphysical origin, but physiological in nature.

But the Church wants desperately to divert the attention of both Catholics and non-Catholics from the clerical child-abuse scandal which has plagued it around the world, for the last several years. Many of their tactics have been rhetorical and in direct response to the scandal, such as the claim that the scandal is merely a demonic attack upon God’s holy Church, in which the true victims are the abusive clergy, not the children they abused. Other, more indirect responses have been the Pope’s claims that “secularism” is the greatest evil in the world, the equivalent of Nazism … and worse, that the Nazis themselves had been wicked secularists.

Still other responses have been less rhetorical and more active, and even more indirect. The latest is a reversal of the Church’s former de-emphasis on exorcism, and a renewed embrace of that medieval practice, as reported by the UPI (WebCite cached article):

More than 100 Roman Catholic priests and bishops have gathered in Baltimore for a conference on exorcism.

The two-day conference, which is not open to the public or news media, was organized by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., The New York Times reported Friday. Paprocki said the main goal of the conference is to help priests and bishops decide when exorcism is appropriate. …

R. Scott Appleby, a professor of church history at the University of Notre Dame, said reviving exorcism restores a sense of the church as an institution dealing with the supernatural: “It’s a strategy for saying: ‘We are not the Federal Reserve, and we are not the World Council of Churches. We deal with angels and demons.'”

That this is being done in the increasingly-religionistic United States cannot be a coincidence. It will inevitably appeal to a nation which tends toward metaphysical solutions to problems.

However, it’s not the only old Catholic practice which the Church is reviving. A couple of years ago, the Pope himself proposed that issuance of indulgences — in the form of paper documents — ought to be resumed, and bishops began following this suggestion, beginning early last year (cached article). Reforms begun early in the 20th century, culminating at the Second Vatican Council, had rendered indulgences-on-paper moot, since Catholicism now holds that, once someone has done something to earn an indulgence*, s/he has earned it; the document itself is unnecessary and superfluous (although there is no reason a Catholic could not still ask for one). This remains the case even now, however, the Church is pushing indulgences-on-paper, as a way of “connecting” Catholics back to the Church … or something.

My guess is that the Catholic Church might ingratiate itself to its laity more efficiently, by confessing its crimes and its sins directly and without excuse or caveat, and by handing over for prosecution all abusive clergy and the hierarchs who aided them. Of course, they will never do that, at least not voluntarily … so they keep looking for other ways to “connect” with the laity.

At any rate, the Church is rolling back the clock, as it were, to an older time when exorcisms were more frequent, in an effort to appear to be actively involved in the supernatural again. And they’re doing it in order to divert attention from the criminality of abusive clergy within its ranks and of the hierarchy that aided and protected them for decades. Nice.

While the sale of indulgences has been outlawed by the Church since the Council of Trent in the 6th century, their issuance never ended; Catholic doctrine holds that they can still be earned by certain activities, such as devotional prayers, saying of the Rosary, fasting, etc.

Photo credit: Spinello Aretino [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Concerning the starved toddler case I referred to just a few days ago, and I’ve blogged about previously: Verdicts are in. The AP reports via MSNBC (WebCite cached article):

The leader of a household that authorities described as a religious cult was convicted Tuesday along with two other people of starving a 1-year-old boy to death because he did not say “Amen” during a mealtime prayer.

Jurors convicted the leader, Queen Antoinette, 41, of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of Javon Thompson, who was 15 or 16 months old when he died in December 2006 or January 2007.

Antoinette’s daughter, Trevia Williams, 22, and another follower, Marcus A. Cobbs, 23, were also found guilty of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. Cobbs was also convicted of accessory after the fact.

This result was not improbable, given the defendants represented themselves:

Antoinette, Williams and Cobbs represented themselves at trial. They did not testify or call any witnesses. Antoinette introduced a single piece of evidence: a copy of a handwritten application for nonprofit status for her organization, 1 Mind Ministries. In that document, she described herself “as a chosen daughter of the most high God and a queen of Jesus Christ.”

In their closing arguments, Antoinette and Cobbs accused prosecutors and the media of conspiring to condemn them.

“We’ve been like pariahs,” Antoinette said. “These people want to blame someone for this child’s death, so they’ve chosen us.”

So little Javon Thompson dropped dead all by himself after wasting away for days … but not because you wanted him starved and because he was never fed? Got it. Makes no sense to me, but I got it.

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I blogged a couple times previously on the death of Javon Thompson, a 1-year-old boy who was starved to death by a hyperreligious mother and group in Baltimore, because he would not say “Amen” after meals. The trial of the groups leader, someone named “Queen Antoinette,” is underway. The AP reports via the New York Times (WebCite cached article):

For more than a week, Ria Ramkissoon watched passively as her 1-year-old son wasted away, denied food and water because the older woman she lived with said it was God’s will.

Javon Thompson was possessed by an evil spirit, Ramkissoon was told, because he didn’t say ”Amen” during a mealtime prayer. Javon didn’t talk much, given his age, but he had said ”Amen” before, Ramkissoon testified.

So I guess that, in their religious minds, this was sufficient reason to starve him to death. The group thought nothing of the boy’s death:

Ramkissoon and several other people knelt down and prayed that he would rise from the dead. For weeks afterward, Ramkissoon spent much of her time in a room with her son’s emaciated body — talking to him, dancing, even giving him water. She thought she could bring him back.

Ramkissoon told the tale of her son’s excruciating death from the witness stand Wednesday, at the trial of the woman she says told her not to feed the boy. Queen Antoinette was the leader of a small religious cult, according to police and prosecutors, and she faces murder charges alongside her daughter, Trevia Williams, and another follower, Marcus A. Cobbs.

The three are acting as their own attorneys.

The courts to date have indulged these people — including agreeing to a plea deal with Ramkissoon which will have her released if Javon is somehow resurrected. So I suppose allowing these wingnuts to represent themselves is yet another judicial indulgence, which is to be expected. Ramkissoon is still defiant about her beliefs, especially that her son will magically rise from the dead:

”I still believe that my son is coming back,” Ramkissoon said. ”I have no problem saying what really happened because I believe he’s coming back.

”Queen said God told her he would come back. I believe it. I choose to believe it,” she said. ”Even now, despite everything, I choose to believe it for my reasons.” …

Ramkissoon detailed how the group relocated to Philadelphia and brought Javon’s body in a suitcase. She described how Javon was packed with sheets and blankets and how she sprayed his body with disinfectant and stuffed the suitcase with fabric softener sheets to mask the odor.

The suitcase was hidden in a shed in Philadelphia for more than a year before it was discovered by police, according to testimony.

I guess the powerful odor of a dead body wasn’t quite enough to clue these wingnuts in to the idea that he wasn’t going to rise from the dead, after all.

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