Because despite all the laws we do have, all the safeguards that are in place, man’s inhumanity unto man still manages to prevail; people simply find new, more efficient ways to kill each other, swindle each other, take advantage of each other. And someone will always be waiting in the wings to put an end to the great experiment, democracy, so laws evolve and change, are added and subtracted. Why the constitution was written to be a fluid and partially malleable document.
Every year researchers put out something called the human freedom index compiled by the Cato institute ranking countries on a variety of criteria including inflation, international trade tariffs, freedom of people to move about their country, basic rights like assembly, freedom of the press, aspects regarding criminal justice from property rights to domestic issues such as divorce, parental custody dispute handling, security and safety encompassing crime rates, terrorism and female security, religion, one assumes the freedom to practice yours, abstain from espousing a faith at all, among other key factors. In which America made, somewhat predictably the wrong kind of headline, circa 2016 failing to achieve the top 10 and dropping all the way to 20th; where we got docked standing points, size of government, suggesting a bloated bureaucracy, business regulation strongly leaning towards excessive, confiscation of what once was private property through eminent domain. Barely surprising doing worse in 2017 dropping, as the academic article notes from 19th to 23rd the easily concluded reason why, election of president Trump, his willingness to abandon nearly all presidential tradition, flouting the rule of law, one of their criteria; more than in regards to the, many feel, dubious Russia investigation but conflicts of interest, poor divesting of business ties, skirting nepotism laws concerning just what role his children play in the Whitehouse to name only a few. The U.S.’ downgrade to a flawed democracy by The Economist Intelligence Unit citing widening disconnect between political elites and people they serve, low voter turnout; also, pivoting back to the freedom index, public opinion—ongoing police brutality, a criminal injustice system corrupted by private prisons, poor accountability for police officers and a staggering number of civilian deaths. True index calculations have fairly notable problems; for instance, naming Hong Kong number 1 despite crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrators, discounting Hong Kong’s relatively smaller size compared to other counties on the list when weighing key factors such as government size and regulation. In fact examining every nation rounding out the top 10, they are consistently significantly smaller than the United States’ 318 million persons; another fact, this blog has often taken to task American liberal progressive, upend the system types always fawning over the way Europeans do things, think Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next, PBS’ profile of Copenhagen Denmark in 2009 coinciding with that year’s climate summit. How clean cars, electrical energy consumption is going to be decidedly different in a country the size of Minnesota versus America’s entire landmass, the perils of trying to use solar panels in Canada lacking sunny days enough to operate a water heater, installing wind turbines in areas with less wind than what’s coming off their North Sea. No one stateside wants government run daycare beginning at age 3 it smacks too much of China, is the norm in France and either ignites competition too soon in parents eyes, robs them of bonding time with their child, the critical unstructured, natural development during a toddlerhood, identical thoughts on scantly 2 adorable Prince George of England’s preschool pictures going viral around the globe. Free college to all citizens and a small influx of foreigners is definitively achievable when you’re an obscure country the size of a small U.S. state most people can’t find on a map; caution not only exposing the educational oasis, but that if it can’t be found on a map, what employer would accept a degree from there. Intuitive realities Fox news cottoned on to breaking down the Human Freedom Index findings; clip, lock step with usual conservatives, pointed out the supposed political leanings of the Cato institute wondering if they didn’t have a narrow view on what freedom looks like to them being liberal minded, questioning rankings of say Chile vs. America, a widely agreed miscalculation placing it before America. While quickly somewhat reversing course lining up situations where they spontaneously agree seemingly finding unsurprising consensus on overreaching business regulation long seen by their republican leaning hosts, panelists, guests and viewing audience to stagnate our economy; highlighting what then candidate Trump wished to do with Dodd/Frank banking regulations, scaling it back. That same host departing from republican tradition again calling America’s drug laws, policy insane, conceding they (researchers) had a point on invasion of privacy though tying it to search and seizure not specifically to drugs or the other aspect mentioned, war on terror policies; momentarily getting silly bringing up New York city’s soda ban and the barring of cupcakes “or a dingdong” from schools. Except their highest court overruled the soda ban in 2014 ranking talked about, indicated above, for 2016; additionally the cupcake provision, as it was so nicknamed, was a school policy enacted in some areas around the country advocates wanted folded into national school lunch standards reform president Obama only agreed to look at, not implement, and it was never a city, state, federal government regulation. Apparently forgetting how often they themselves shout about bogus food stamp fraud and the idea people on said benefits should never buy junk food even if it’s traditional food for a family memorial day, 4th of July barbeque, cake and ice-cream for a child’s birthday, valentine chocolates for a wife, girlfriend, domestic partner, significant other; speaking of valentines, cards for kids including candy bought with food stamps precisely so they can participate, not be singled out even though their family is poor, they need assistance to eat. Ignoring completely countries like France who banned catsup in schools simultaneously frying the broccoli, imposed soda taxes and has now instituted a ban on restaurant soda refills, interestingly ranking 31 which no one seemed to notice. Japan, who has made it ‘illegal’ to be fat, enforcement consisting of forcing businesses to measure worker waste lines ages 40 to 74 and encourage exercise, coming in at 32; remembering Hong Kong sits at number 1 and Singapore, long known for strict laws, harsh punishments attached to petty crimes sits at a mere 40. Returning to food, other European countries who have currently or previously imposed fat taxes intended for junk foods leaching into standard, wholesome foods used to cook with, moving away from processed foods largely the source of unhealthy consumption, according to these policies’ purveyors; prime meats i.e. select stake, whole butter, cheeses and full fat milk, (Denmark) who revoked it a year later. Proposals that did reduce soda consumption, ‘fatty food’ purchases yet didn’t work in that it had no measurable effect on living longer, the Denmark objective, obesity percentages; thus inferred, no comparable measured effect on health costs, trips to the hospital, medications, doctor visits, things mentioned by Danes supporting implemented taxation. Perhaps using the wrong example upset about “another environmental regulation” when considering the lead contaminated water supplies found throughout the country; an EPA accident contaminating a river, fracking’s quickly solidifying reputation to possibly contaminate water, pattern showing it to exponentially accelerate seismic activity resulting in earthquakes rattling until now unaffected states, regions nationwide where quakes have been hitherto unheard of. Skyrocketing asthma rates linked to air quality, detailing just 2 cases where environmental regulations matter a great deal more than first anticipated. Later bringing up America’s wholly unfriendly business climate, defaulting to a misrepresented talking point about the highest corporate tax rate on the world; conservatives long believing business red tape kills jobs, reduces incentives for businesses to come here, hinders Americans who want to start a business. Dismissing legislation like Dodd/Frank often labeled weak, ‘what we could get’ passed by both houses of congress was designed to prevent things like Enron, Bernie Madoff’s 20 odd year Ponzi scheme, the trading bundles of adjustable rate mortgages on the stock market; full disclosure to the consumer about what an adjustable rate mortgage and other financial investments were and their total risks as opposed to downplaying those risks to sell said mortgages giving us the financial crisis and great recession. Or that those regulations they so love to hate are identical to safeguards put in place after the 1930’s great depression systematically rolled back spanning 8 years of George W. Bush regulation cuts, others snuck in by Reagan, farther back post FDR. Overall human freedom index rankings quite possibly missing the important stuff for lesser annoyances present in any society, or maybe that was just the Fox News spin; at least critical analysis fosters understanding Germany might not deserve its 13th place spot having just reengineered rape law in that country to where a woman doesn’t have to physically fight off her attacker for it to be considered rape, cases where she could be unconscious, and no, not merely from alcohol consumption, even drugs slipped into a drink, but cruder basics, an assailant knocking her over the head, waking up mid-act from having been asleep; serious contemplation about how much it will drop, if it will at all, having discovered wide spread abuse perpetuated by the catholic church and a well-known boys choir/school there headlining allegations of withholding food, beatings and sexual abuse far past the statute of limitations under their legal system? How does Ireland rank 4th ahead of both Canada and the UK after a high profile abortion case there ended in a Hindu woman’s death from blood poisoning because, though her fetus/child was non-viable and they knew nothing could be done to save the child, they refused her what they termed an abortion due to their still being a fetal heartbeat and this took place at a catholic hospital. Never mind, as stated the couple was Hindu not Christian, it is well documented she was having a miscarriage making the procedure to remove the fetus a D&C ((Dilation and Curettage) routinely performed after an aforementioned miscarriage, parallel to delivering the placenta after birth so the woman doesn’t bleed to death, suffer other deadly, devastating consequences. Additionally, while it is true they could do nothing to save her baby, she died needlessly to serve the religious compunctions of an entire nation, most hospitals being catholic there. That was 2012 and their legislature is just slated to hear an abortion referendum this year; keeping in mind we’re talking about the same Ireland who wanted to investigate well known British comedian Stephen Fry for blasphemy in 2017 stemming from his on air insistence there is no god, crude jokes about god, asking how god can be so ego-driven as to allow kids with bone cancer to suffer in horrible pain. It’s not enough to say ban him from future Irish TV appearances, which would be a monumentous blow to progressive freedoms touted in European nations, but the police actually took the call seriously, set out to investigate its validity. Speaking of the U.K., once more one wonders how far their ranking will slip post the Grenfell Tower fire, revelations tenants made a long list of safety complaints over a protracted time period, totally unanswered; had they not used a cheap, flammable exterior material none of it would have happened and 79 people wouldn’t be dead in one of the most horrific ways. Others injured by the dozens, sparking evacuations of similarly constructed buildings, most public housing, national testing done on all possible structures containing, constructed using the dangerous material, leaving hundreds suddenly homeless; the recognized, too late, folly of England’s Brexit, reverberations to be felt for decades to come. Canada ties with the UK, Australia crowding 6th place despite holding a rape victim to ensure her testimony, echoing an American judge who berated domestic violence victims, sex assault/rape victims too fearful to appear in court; decision leading to public reprimand by the Florida (state where it happened), bar, continued offences will ultimately cost her, her judgeship. Australia has as much of a problem with the Anglican church in their country as catholic churches beleaguered other countries, nearly 1,100 complaints lodges against almost 600 clergy spanning 35 years; sneaky suspicious say 2017 or 2018’s rankings, whichever applies to fiscal year data filing, will drop it a couple of numbers no more, preserving its implied stellar ranking remaining in the top 10. Several European countries rankings perplexing cataloging things banned in these nations that are every day, ordinary on American soil; chemicals, to food dyes and preservatives outlawed in the UK to the removal of baby walkers in Canada, legal trouble following purchases at garage sales, thrift markets penalty up to $100,00 or 6 months in jail. Alleged to cause serious harm to infants plus delay motor and mental development; many parents will testify is wrong as it built their child’s motor skills not stunted them, allowed mobility to an already diagnosed disabled child, one who would be a short time in the future-oh. Sure we all shook our heads at celebrity baby names apple Blithe Alison Martin, North and Saint West, the charged NSA leaker named Reality Leigh Winner, but to hand people a list of 7,000 pre-approved names and say choose one inevitably leads to another problem, so many people sharing the same name they get confused in criminal cases, identity fraud, exc., yet Denmark who instated this ‘rule’ incorporated an added caveat, if you want to name your child something else it must be approved by a church. And here we thought Europe was secular, almost identical laws in neighboring nations Switzerland and New Zealand sit at numbers 2 and 3 respectively. Begging an important question both be asked and asserted here, are they correct in naming less litigious, less regulated societies more free, implication something to aspire to or do top westernized entities the United States, Canada who bristled at their own drop in ranking, catch on to a bigger picture laws, a lot of laws aren’t necessarily a bad thing, protect people from the negatives of not having a law or regulation against something, for something else? An answer ringing as a resounding no, laws are good, laws regulating the right thing at the right time mean more of them are a good thing providing they fit the situations and societies they are instituted in.
America, and Canada too on distinct levels, have so many laws, regulate so many things, seem to get so far into the public’s business chiefly because they are managing much larger populations, experiencing the problems and difficulties that come with those citizen numbers. Further America specifically, as most western democracies, possesses a constitution, the government structure it does, a democratic republic where of age citizens elect representatives to speak for us in the political sphere, go to our political capitol Washington, craft laws on our behalf to avoid exactly what is observed in other counties ruled by active monarchies, theocracies, fractured governments, whatever warlord rose to power this week, solidified dictatorships. Core freedoms of religion, either to practice one or abstain altogether, press, free dissemination of information, newspapers, news programs, blogs and online content, freedom of speech, to say what you want, where you want, about whom you want, even when it’s negative, unflattering, confrontational holding few exceptions; phrases that would cause mass panic and injury, crossing the line to actual threats/intimidation. Assembly to peacefully gather making your voice heard usually on political, social justice issues and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances meaning; you have the right to both make a complaint against your government using proper process, or seek government assistance in resolving a complaint once it reaches a certain level sans fear or punishment, retaliation. Bill of rights surpassing those fundamentals housed in what’s known as the first amendment going on to outline gun ownership, prohibition of excessive fines or bail, illegal search and seizure of property, cruel, unusual, excessive punishment disproportionate to the crime; establishing the right to a swift and speedy trial, during said trial you will not be forced to incriminate yourself nor can you be tried for the same crime twice, aptly named double jeopardy. Regardless what ranking we achieve or don’t on a scale many will justifiably liken to national, international educational test scores holding no bearing on future employment, monetary success and really only amounts to bragging rights, you won’t see a pro-democracy protester face beheading in America, let alone at the tender age of 17 about to start college; major world leaders besieged to intervene for a Saudi Arabian by facing just that after 5 years in prison and exhausted appeals. Teens are likewise not arrested for online flirting particularly if the boy proposes to the girl and she says yes, no one is arrested for atheism; neither do we arrest people for what they’re wearing, not wearing unless it crosses the line to indecent exposure, revealing the genitals or breasts on women, definitely not a mini-skirt, documented instances all coming from aforementioned Saudi Arabia. In the small town pocket exceptions run by old fuddy-duddies unimpressed, appalled by modern fashion who’ve morphed that into a city ordinance, A- they were called out as overreacting and absolutely crazy, unfortunately achieved via democratic process of the citizens residing in the area, it only resulted in a fine; the one resulting death from an improper arrest born out of such an ordinance was duly condemned and fell more under police brutality because they tased, arrested then beat him in jail, a phenomenon fully acknowledged and understood when dissecting America’s ranking. Equally you cannot be arrested here for insults to any religion, religious figure or government official; never mind be sentenced to death over social media posts disparaging of Islam, ala Pakistan, forget be sentenced to prison, hard labor spanning decades what happened to a citizen who criticize the Thailand monarchy. No one is going to arrest you for playing Pokémon go in a church, what happened in Russia, just ask you to leave; there are no religious police in this country, why when a church wanted to establish its own police force to enforce ‘morality,’ protect its on-site school and seminary it grabbed the attention of national news, dido when it passed state legislature, no word on implementation yet. Another dark religious aspect you won’t find here, honor killings attempted honor killings; we don’t kill people for violating religious laws based on any religious texts, engrained cultural mores stemming from religion i.e. wearing westernized clothes, having a boyfriend, as a mother did to her daughter, setting her on fire for eloping with a man she’d loved since their school days. Actions not even tolerated in their native Pakistan; still too common an occurrence, their variation on our domestic violence. There are no religious tests to hold public office, so states article 6 of the constitution, why once presidential candidate now operator of the department for housing and urban development Ben Carson’s comments he didn’t think a Muslim should/could become president were so scandalous; similarly no religious tests is applied to persons entering the country either to become a citizen, petition for citizenship, while traveling here on a tourist, student visa, to visit relatives, conduct business. We don’t target religions, ban people from targeted religions from coming here, steps Russia took against Jehovah’s witnesses and why president Trump’s Muslim travel ban was so foul; it goes against the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, easily applied to faith, when the supreme court renders it’s final decision, more applicable to current existing law since he banned persons from 7 majority Muslim countries directly conflicting with the law expressly spelling out you can’t discriminate against people based on their country of origin, abolishing previously used quota systems slanted in favor of European nationalities. Patriotism is a tradition openly defined but no one can legally compel you to demonstrate that patriotism, you can even burn the flag here without repercussions lest they be related to the fire started and subsequent hazard posed carrying a much lesser penalty unless someone is grievously injured or dies, a phenomenon not taking place to date; contrasted to the Philippines where enthusiastic singing of the national anthem is now a matter of law. For all the silly, unnecessary bans/stupid laws touted, listed dangerous, asinine maneuvers taken by police we’ve never arrested a 9 month old for murder let alone to the point of bringing him up on charges, why because his family protested high gas prices fighting back with rocks against police with guns in Pakistan. Approaching a bit of the lighter side, we don’t ban popular movies, movie theaters, music concerts parroting Saudi religious leaders, certainly not because of an actors ethnic, racial background what Lebanon did barring Wonder Woman apparently owing to one star being Israeli; we don’t ban dating TV shows, Wikipedia, our constitution is structured exactly so that can’t happen, we don’t get bogged down in the petty, silly or stupid at the national level without a filter. We don’t launch serious hate campaigns against cartoons, Winnie The Pooh because people are crafting social media memes likening the present to him for his bulbous weight, photo similarities to cartoon stills. We don’t bar social media or censor things on it that don’t correspond with state run media or propaganda, contradict the presence of say the LGBT community; only seeking to block hate speech, violence, institute mandatory reporting when content is clear evidence of a serious crime, former aspects sites like Facebook have been abysmal at anyway. We don’t ban basic scientific content to be taught in school, though not for a lack of trying in some pockets across the country, still much less effective than Turkey’s blanket ban because of tight, whole country control on institutions like schools. You won’t find laws mandating you visit your parents in the old folks home or be subject to—fines; punishment decidedly unclear, especially not adjusting expectations to Asian countries and how far you have to travel to be employed, how expensive travel is, headaches compounded by the laws ill-defined parameters constituting ‘sending regards’ or how often is often enough based on your individual, family situation. Readers may say wait a minute, now who’s being unfair, you’re comparing America to sometimes 3rd world/developing nations, sections of the middle east, communist Asia, places that have never known freedom, democracy on a westernized scale, frankly don’t want it. But is it unfair, skewed held up against New Zealand’s utopic number 3 ranking when they just lifted the ban on popular 90’s TV show Power Rangers circa 2011 original, excuse violence; at least when Singapore did it they were concerned about the word morphin sounding too much like the drug morphine after a decades, generations long opioid and drug trafficking epidemic, new Power Rangers 2017 movie to air in Malaysia uncut despite lesbian character concerns. Going back to Denmark’s baby naming rules and adjacent law in culturally congruent countries, not only is it the kind of intrusiveness usually only associated with stupid laws stateside, it also demeans distinct names given native populations, indigenous peoples; maybe naming your black child a distinctive name is exclusively an American thing, yet can be ostracizing if not discriminatory to immigrants whether black, Asian, or considering the Syrian crisis, Arab/carrying a middle eastern name, stands to prevent passing on a family name. And that’s what we want, no, but America is the only enduring western civilization to have a race problem in the modern era, to grapple with religion’s influence on policy, voting choices, public attitudes; hardly, noting a man right there in Denmark was charged with blasphemy for burring a Koran and posting it on Facebook, confronting 4 months in jail, Denmark holding a respectable number 5 according to human Freedom index scores. Australia’s 6th ranking making even less sense, hit negatively again watching news footage/reporting depicting horrific abuse in a juvenile detention facility that entailed a half-naked, hooded boy strapped to a chair; sickening nature of the images multiplied exponentially when it’s reported this was disproportionally done to the aboriginal youth population occupying the center, but America is the last remaining western democracy with a race problem, is the singularly worst nation on its indigenous populations past, present and fast barreling toward the future. Completely unrelated but important discussing when good laws could go bad, Australia was lauded when they banned citizen gun ownership to the positive result drastically reducing suicides; however, viewing the rural nature of their existence across many areas on the large island nation and fostered co-existence with wildlife, that might not be particularly wise looking at video of a huge Huntsman spider literally up to a foot long leg span crawling up the side door of these videographers’ home, if there was ever an understandable, if not appropriate, use for a 12 gage double barrel shotgun… The UK got rid of most of its citizen owned fire arms only for someone with a hunting style rifle to gun down parliament member Jo Cox in favor of remaining affiliated with the European Union; further dispelling utopian society fantasies of what can be achieved absent guns, lessons for America, Americans UK knife crime statistics began to equal former gun crime numbers killing a Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie extra. Moving toward more present day tragedies terrorists, extremists, the mentally unwell have begun using either acid attacks devastatingly disfiguring victims or using vehicles to mow down pedestrians, latter loss of life also transpiring in Sweden. The Netherlands known for the district Amsterdam, where everything is legal drugs, the things here falling under the term ‘red light district’ are patently normal in their country, and there remains a dark side sex trafficking problem where pimps run crime monopolies, women are abused, rescue missions have to be enacted, holding coveted ranking space in the top 10 at number 10. Germany’s again 13th ranking having debated banning the full veil discriminating against Muslims, France ranking lower than the U.S. yes, at 31 regardless very much considered part of the civilized world with a long history of culture, art, refinement and their dustup over the burkini, bikini-wear for Muslims and their subsequent ban; French police forcing a woman wearing the attire to disrobe there on the public beach, having to walk back the ban when such offending footage went across the globe. A French teen filming sexual abuse by her father before authorities could/would take action. Countries, cultures perceived by America, the world over to be better than rankings or reality suggest they are; case in point, Belgium known internationally for chocolates and enjoying the reputation of European refinement possessing language textbooks stereotyping refugees as terrorists, worse disseminating these texts to incoming refuges to learn the language. Part of a broader theme across Europe denoting immigrant fear; impetus behind the veil bans, burkini dustups and the false premise they have replaced religion encompassing public life, when what they’ve actually done is named a passive, muted Christianity secularism. Japan and how exactly they got their legendary low crime rate coercing confessions out of innocent people, promising leniency if you confess except by leniency they mean a year or so of a decades long sentence and only less shame for your family. Yet confusingly here are supposedly the freest nations on the globe, cultural hubs people want to visit, customs they can’t stop raving about, governments to be applauded for how they’ve aided their citizens, societies to be emulated, seriously.
A huge section of laws here in the land of the free are aimed at protecting the most vulnerable citizens, children, the elderly, the disabled, developmentally delayed, establishing rules, guidelines and boundaries for their care and treatment, monitoring their wellbeing. Laws, rules and regulations that ensure what happened to the Japanese boy, links below, doesn’t A- become common practice and B- parents aren’t let go sans an investigation via local agencies meant to stop the abuse, neglect and cruelty to children, what appears to have happened in Japan after parents told their 7 year old to get out of the car next to an extremely wooded area known for bears, because he was allegedly throwing rocks at cars passing. They proceeded to drive away, coming back minutes later when they believed he had been thoroughly frightened, perhaps learned his lesson only to find him gone, reluctant to contact authorities and reveal their actions, initially lying to police saying he was lost while the family picked vegetables; lone potential saving grace for the child, Japan’s cultural history of honor and public shaming deterring his parents from like behavior in the future. Laws set up to prosecute parents vis-à-vis the mother and her boyfriend who elected to punish 3 young children leaving them in the desert no shoes or water, authorities who looked in on the boy forced into backyard tent for bad grades, damaging his sisters i-pad. Systems are in place to remove abused and neglected kids from unsafe homes and when the foster care system subsequently breaks down, they too are subject to the law; how Missouri found itself on the business end of a lawsuit, for using medications as a Band-Aid fix for stable, consistent parenting it failed to provide. So called scared straight, wilderness boot camps have been systematically shut down not because of perceived wussification, social justice warriors preventing parents parenting their kids but because of deaths, heat strokes, side effects tied to exposure, caught on tape beatings. Counterbalancing religious freedom spanning the United States, religion will not protect you from criminal law; Homestead Heritage, like Warren Jeffs’ cult was exposed people arrested and charged with the child sex abuse they committed. We know about Pastor Robert Wyatt and his Thornton, Colorado church because he was arrested for the rape of a 12 year old parishioner, court documents showing church officials and her adoptive parents’ attempts to cover it up; dido the homeschoolers who attempted to 1- sell their daughter and 2- at a discount because she had been molested, thankfully she escaped. We know about the Christian CEO arranging sex with a dog on Craigslist due to his arrest, several arrests of religious leaders, anti-gay pastors caught with child porn because of their subsequent arrest; we know about the slave immigrant labor used by one church, like issues with president Trump through investigative reporting by prominent news agencies. Tennessee police shut down a church of scientology facility hidden deep in the woods, comprised of small cabins and a doublewide trailer after a man’s 9-1-1 call directed them to ‘patients’ being held against their will. Molestation transpiring in elite boarding schools, much like the catholic churches has been exposed, college professors’ relationships with underage students, possession of child porn; it made headlines when a predatory Arkansas judge was found to have traded sexual favors for lenient sentences, 100’s of sexually explicit pictures found on his computer forcing his resignation, indicted on 21 counts including witness tampering. People regularly attempt to use religious defenses in court to little avail, January this year a father and son who planned to use the bible as their defense for chaining up and raping the older man’s 13 year old step daughter were both sentenced to essentially life in prison; following an Indiana mother who claimed the religious freedom restoration act singed by now vice president Mike Pence, while governor of Indiana, gave her he right to beat her son using a wire coat hanger leaving behind vivid red marks, digesting 2016 court filings, who got a year in jail served through probation and was ordered to parenting classes to learn alternative forms of discipline. 2015 saw a New York couple facing first degree manslaughter for the death of their 19 year old son beaten for his ‘sins’ along with his 17 year old brother, and in 2012 a mother and her boyfriend were charged in the murder of 7 year old RJ Arrington after the boyfriend beat him employing various objects, violently shaking him for lying about reading the bible, failing to do homework; the latter receiving decades behind bars that will incarcerate them for the remainder of their natural lives. Switching gears slightly, absent statutes like the Americans with disabilities act, headways made on all disability rights unto that point and after children/persons with disabilities might be kept in cages, conditions ABC World News Tonight’s David Muir found in Mexico City for want of proper staff training. They absolutely wouldn’t be able to reach their full potential, or if they did achieve that benchmark, would be able to go almost nowhere from then on as an adult for want of accessible public buildings, employment, accessible restrooms, agencies to coordinate within the community; thanks to laws on the books every child, even those with the most profound physical, developmental, intellectual and emotional disabilities are required to be educated to the maximum of their ability until age 21, have access to appropriate asstistive technologies and individual education plans where appropriate. Progress on disability rights to remove the antiquated word retarded, when describing people with intellectual disabilities, in federal documents to be replaced with the more accurate developmentally delayed. Unfortunately you continue to encounter stories where seeing eye and service dogs are barred from stores, as service dogs branch out to helping more and more individuals combat a widening rage of ailments schools and other facilities are pushing back against animals seen as pets, a distraction or a potential hazard to bite, cause allergy; a school took away a blind student’s cane due to his swinging it at people on the bus refusing to give it back as it was school property forcing him to use a pool noodle. While in another part of the country there was a 13 year old girl who won at the Supreme Court level to keep her service dog at school helping her with independence and navigating her environment amidst combatting cerebral palsy, made possible by the ADA. To that end as well, elderly, disabled parties residing in institutions, group homes, nursing homes, dedicated care facilities benefit from laws governing their operation, yes we’ve all heard nursing/ care home horror stories, but we hear about them because there is a free press, families cannot be effectively bribed or threatened into silence; regulatory bodies do firstly exist and secondly shut down repeatedly deficient facilities. Women, for all the struggles they do face, for all the work needed to be done securing their place in society, in America you won’t be charged with adultery for reporting rape, what a Dutch tourist faced in Qatar; draconian though abortion laws are fast becoming, you won’t be charged under criminal codes for a stillbirth circa El Salvador. The singular case here under arcane religious freedom/anti-abortion bills reasonably found the charges dropped and advocates sounding alarms; probably only ever considered because the woman it centered around’s name was Purvi Patel, neither name nor nationality anyone in Indiana could pronounce. Should you clash with a Christian doctor over getting your 10 year old rape victim daughter an abortion, you’d be able to seek help from a different doctor or hospital sans a trip through the court system; what India put their young victim through, an identical country who also charges women for premarital sex, adultery when they dare report rape. Harassment here ranges from annoying to dangerous sadly, but no one is on talk shows showing women how to cover their bruises, a segment of a Moroccan TV program; no one has decriminalized domestic violence with a so called slapping bill and national newspapers aren’t telling woman to be proud of their bruises, ‘consoling’ them they are more likely to have boys citing a dubious scientific study. 180 degree converse, a Milwaukee sheriff is being sued for forcing a woman to give birth while shackled with chains around her chest and abdomen, showcasing rules about how we treat prisoners, the lowly among us; mirroring a Michigan woman’s story who was forced to give birth on a dirty cell floor when jail personnel refused to believe she was in labor transporting her to the hospital. Another famous sheriff was unelected to office finally after his long history of questionable treatment regarding prisoners, leaving them in extreme heat/cold with minimal shelter, refusal to follow federal law in no more papers please arrests; costing the state of Arizona thousands via legal fees battling advocacy group lawsuits only to reach a settlement permanently disbanding the practice and for Arpaio to be convicted on contempt of court charges, unfortunately facing just a measly 6 month jail sentence. Admittedly late to get on the right side of the gay marriage issue though we were, LGBTQ persons are not subjected to horrific instances paralleling tragedies at an Australian nightclub where someone replaced offered bottles of lube with acid, fully consistent injuries happened before detectors where placed on potentially tampered bottles; the Pulse nightclub shooting was dubbed a terror attack and about both the deranged gunman’s thoughts on U.S. involvement in ‘his country,’ because he wanted America to ‘stop bombing his country,’ one African American survivor recalling how he stated he had no problem with black persons this (the shooting) was his attempt to send a messages to the government to ‘stop bombing his people in Iraq’ and trying to reconcile his homosexual tendencies, apparent activity with a lover and his view of god, perhaps to be redeemed in the eyes of Allah. Mathew Sheppard, Brandon Tina represent the past and spurred hate crimes legislation so tougher punishments could be handed down to perpetrators who commit such crimes motivated by dangerous distain not limited to race, creed or religion already encompassed in foundational civil rights law, but LGBT status as well. The man who poured boiling water on 2 gay men merely sleeping in bed was justifiably sentenced to 40 years precisely because a law existed, though not applied, jurors’ understanding events taking place, awareness of federal hate crimes statutes generally nationwide led to his imprisonment for arguably the rest of his natural life 48 years of age at time of conviction. Gay conversion therapy is undeniably horrendous for the, mainly teens, forced into it; sadly it only parallels concentration camps allegedly run out of Chechnya, foreshadowing beatings, electroshock out of a cold war spy movie, starvation, humiliation, risk of death for fully grown adults, versus minors still in parental/guardian care, snatched off the street whose only crime is being gay, scant suspicion of being gay. Key difference is ‘Christian camps’ promising to ‘cure’ homosexuality, engaging in the things above sans death, forcing LGBT youth, sometimes only sexually curious, openly sexually confused or exploring youth to view porn, perform sex acts on members of the opposite sex, endure beatings with a belt to rid them of their undesirable sexual orientation are again being exposed by journalist. Thanks to that investigative reporting (linked below) and brave testimony of 6 traumatized youth, the pastor operating featured Alabama facilities was convicted on child abuse charges, sentenced to 20 years in prison, judge hoping it sends a message to other such persons across the country; positive here unlike Chechnya, Russia, gay conversion is popular and desired only in decreasing pockets of the country. Total 9 states have banned the practice’s use on individuals under 18 including California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Vermont, Oregon and Illinois; latest 2 Nevada and Connecticut, New York’s governor signing an executive order earlier this year select cities seeing fit to ban the barbaric ‘therapy,’ Seattle, Cincinnati and Miami Beach, Washington D.C., pending bills in up to a dozen more states. Following president Obama’s 2015 use of the bully pulpit calling to end the ‘treatment’ and the popular psychologist who published a ‘gay cure’ study then apologized for it as far back as 2012. Twistedly, it pales in comparison alongside invasive medical procedures to confirm or dispute possible homosexual activity where countries have banned the practice including painful anal probes causing bleeding, upheld in African courts driven by religious motivations believing homosexuality, homosexual sex an abomination against god; South African teens in 2013 seen as gay or deemed effeminate sent to a camp where 3 starved and died due to harsh treatment. Reaction to North Carolina’s bathroom bill forcing people to use the restrooms, fitting rooms and locker rooms corresponding with the gender listed on your birth certificated allegedly to protect vulnerable women and girls against everything from predators to unnatural things was swift, decisive and overwhelmingly negative; bleeding revenue from the state, removing prominent sports, music concerts and upcoming business plans to expand to the state, culminating in the un-election of governor Pat McCrory who then lamented his ability to get any subsequent job. Juxtaposed to a plethora of bathroom bills proposed since Donald Trump’s election, the majority of Americans aren’t happy about them up to 60% polled also separating themselves from conservatives, religious persons and like-minded lawmakers saying businesses should not be able to deny services to LGBT persons based on religious grounds. Again readers will accuse material of comparing apples to oranges, comparing America to what the newspaper linked after paragraph 1 called bottom feeders i.e. the worst ranking nations: Russia and surrounding areas have been mentioned once more, African nations who don’t yet know democracy, for other aspects detailed in the paragraph, not exclusively gay rights, they don’t possess the governmental structures or means to implement a disabilities act for instance. But, redundant though it may be to ask, is that what’s being done when LGBT activists are worried about laws passed in France making it illegal to call someone a homophobe; France whose major hurdle to legalizing gay marriage there was the ability for LGBT couples to adopt children and oh what a horror, a ‘revolution’ that would cause in French society, yes heaven forbid they learn tolerance, gay parents are just parents. Or that Jordan, nearest national neighbor to Qatar, just revoked a controversial law allowing rapists to avoid prosecution by marrying the victim; if they can do that, Qatar can at least not find rape victims guilty of adultery because they deigned to report it.
Consumer protections, despite political rhetoric to the contrary, do more than stymie business, they protect it, permitting it to operate, especially when that business is medical advancements, improved medical treatments; establishing rules, guidelines and boundaries governing things like human medical trials, medical trials prior to that point directly minimizing risk to the person when undergoing an experimental procedure, trying an untested, limitedly tested medication. Laws, rules and regulations that didn’t stop a stem cell treatment from leaving participants blind; didn’t stop need for refined legislation, new legislation in exactly what Salon link 2 states managing safety concerns at California dialysis clinics. Laws, guidelines and parameters not yet making it to sperm banks independent infertility spikes, women having children later, women choosing to have children with stated help not having found Mr. right, sperm banks going hand in hand with surrogacy services for same LGBT persons; crudely nicknamed test-tube babies around since the somewhere between 1981and 85 stateside, our counterparts across the pond achieving the first test-tube baby from IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) in 1978. Nevertheless when Sarah Robertson wanted to preserve her husband’s sperm post suddenly having a stroke, until she was ready to have the child they’d always planned to, the bank she chose lost the samples; investigating journalism finding zero regulation, voluntary screening for all but 8 diseases not encompassing the most devastating, haphazard attempts to verify the claims asserted on donor applications including one profile describing the donor as holding a PhD in neuroscience, actually a schizophrenic convicted felon who never earned a college degree. Plaguing Robertson’s thoughts they gave her husband’s sperm to someone else, strangers sans key medical information about his Marfan syndrome, what cause his stroke and early death, a genetic disorder they always planned to test for before getting pregnant. Problems easily echoed for women wanting to store their eggs for later use, critical for girls, young women battling childhood, pediatric cancer able to store their undamaged eggs and perhaps have their own, biological children once grown and healthy. Existing consumer protections that don’t stop television viewers from seeing law firm commercials alerting them to suits against previously FDA, food and drug administration (an administration/regulatory body charged with screening medical products, devices and medications to treat diseases and ailments who sifts through volumes of medical data taking sometimes years to render a decision) approved drugs, medical devices breaking, leaving behind catastrophic complications, faulty hip replacements, blood clot prevention devices, hernia mesh malfunctions; devastating lives, racking up thousands in medical costs, preventing people from working, forcing them onto disability rolls, gawked at because of notable disfigurement, think gaping holes were joints were and replacements failed horrendously. Contemplate link 9 consumer complaints regarding cosmetics, morning talk shows sounding public alarm letting consumers know this industry of make-up, moisturizer and adjacent products is essentially self-regulating and self-reporting when confronting quality control issues hinting at steeper regulations forthcoming to prevent specific cancers, hormonal disruptions linked to diseases and other health problems. Achieving better regulation, doling out tips to help buyers protect themselves translates into people continuing to buy cosmetics rather than swearing them off for fear of medical repercussions they could be being exposed to, could draw customers to you if your product has few and pronounceable ingredients. Dovetailing into supplements largely unregulated by the FDA spelling problems when they interact with prescription medications, cause organ damage, natural body process interruption; facing far less scrutiny then over the counter things like aspirin meaning potential contamination, loophole being since it’s not considered a drug it doesn’t need the same intense scrutiny. Identical happenings when entities sell unregulated drugs/products on the internet, curatives are peddled there too by religious organizations catching the attention of both federal government officials and investigative reporters after the death of a former NASA scientist’s wife; 20/20’s Brian Ross ordering then sending out to a respected medical lab this so called miracle cure said to reverse everything from breast cancer to autism, analyzed only to discover it was bleach and actually poison. Who recalls the Johnson & Johnson $70 million settlement award given to a woman contracting ovarian cancer after years and years of use on the intimate body parts reducing odor, sweat linked to the talc in their iconic baby powder. Oxymoronic as it may seem to outsiders taking stock of all the antibiotics, pesticides, food dyes and other chemicals found in our food supply, left in our food supply, deliberately put in our food supplied, for many believe dubious or ineffective reasons, as opposed to protecting people from undue, harmful chemical exposure, removing food dyes, preservatives linked to childhood behavioral problems or other biological disorders, protein configuration of milk United States versus the UK where they don’t use a protein known to make people sick, because of the type of cow we’re getting out milk from; hey maybe everyone isn’t lactose intolerant, maybe all the diabetes, heart disease, asthma and eczema isn’t fast food, high calories, ‘genetic flaws common to only white people,’ but proteins that don’t react well with the human body. Yet we do have food standards, we do have inspection of food processing areas, and when the word processing is used it means all the way down to boxing produce for shipping to stores nationwide. Procedures that inevitably don’t stop recalls for bacteria outbreaks, that don’t prevent industry leaders from cutting corners, deceiving the public for profits or just to stay afloat in a competitive market; who remembers the pink slime filler exposé possibly making red meat as deadly as it is, or Monsanto’s Round Up weed killer scandal and cheating on data reports mandated to assess the safety of a product for public use. Pointing to more consumer protections desperately needed, urgently required, but more laws are to be shunned and we need to model ourselves after Europe who doesn’t need antibiotics fed to cows, chickens precisely because they feed a smaller section of the globe than we do, hints pesticides on fruits and vegetables; they don’t face the hunger for European products globally that is associated with the prestige of almost American anything. Housed in naturally much smaller land masses their beginning capability to farm large quantities of fruit, vegetables is scaled back greatly; we are the world’s bread basket because corn, wheat, rye, barley grow here in the heartland best. America has strict regulations for cars both upkeep persons must do to their vehicle making it safe on the road and equal if not more strictures on car, truck and other motor vehicle manufacturers to ensure consumers are as safe as technologically, legislatively possible. Failing to stop the GM ignition switch malfunction and the lives it took, GM’s hiding of the problem for nearly a decade, the 3 million additional cars recalled for sudden power steering cutouts. Or the Toyota stuck accelerator crashes in certain cases putting innocent people behind bars for something the automaker refused to acknowledge far too long; the Taketa airbag nightmare going on at least 8 years recalling millions upon millions of vehicles, 2.7 million more in 2017, alone caught paralleling Monsanto in manipulating data accomplishing desired outcomes, not to the public benefit. Well known up and coming Star Trek reboot actor Anton Yelchin crushed to death by his own Jeep Grand Cherokee under recall for a gear shifting problem, BMW’s following the trail of Samsung phone and other brand laptop batteries randomly catching fire; an entire department’s fleet of SUV police vehicles taken off the road because of accidents caused by carbon monoxide leaks now happening on opposite sides of the country. Equally we have standards for roads and shoulders, medians, barriers designed to mitigate damage, loss of life in accidents; setting aside perpetually poor infrastructure grades, enter another component of supposed safety, guardrails, guardrails known to possess a faulty design still on miles of American road after makers used cheaper materials and a slightly different design than the one initially approved by the government, leading to grizzly impailings, amputations and deaths that unequivocally didn’t have to happen. Lawsuits hitting Tennessee currently, Texas company makers in 2014 found guilty of defrauding the government; and, that’s just cars not the fair and carnival rides, an 18 year old having enlisted in the military merely a week before the latest victim to lose their life, suffer injury or be lucky to be alive. Before him there was the 10 year old girl who took a 40 foot drop from a Farris wheel fortunate to only break her arm; her friend not so lucky battling traumatic brain injury. The also 10 year old young man who died flying off a waterslide, a 6 year old saved by his father when a roller-coaster seatbelt broke, infuriating was the operator’s reaction saying oh that happens sometimes or equivalent; he fared better than the 11year old scalped by a roller-coaster when her hair got caught. Such park rides regulated by states, meaning vast discrepancies and varying standards; dido day camps run all summer long while kids are out of school, one unlicensed camp where a 5 year old boy died as children sat by a waterfall to eat lunch, him at some point wandering off. Speaking of camp, community activities, summer fun venues, who’s driving your children there if you’re not, you might want to think twice about provided bus services and double check drivers when your kids start school in a few short weeks considering the eye popping lack of oversight of school, recreational venue bus drivers. Weekly arrests for drunk driving even child pornography, child sex abuse, drivers transporting kids with pertinent allegations on their criminal record, e.g. selling drugs, carrying weapons in a school zone, and since they don’t cross state lines federal safety regulations routinely don’t apply permitting persons with disqualifying medical conditions to drive city busses, entities like Greyhound free to drive school/camp busses; subject only to the patchwork of state and industry regulations echoing carnival ride instances above. Contrastingly look at proactive steps, potential legislation being debated in European countries concerning robots, evolving artificial intelligence (AI); important since recent technology expos featured the first robot programed to hurt individuals built a discussion piece, contrast the car horrors to break override systems in Europe. With consumer protections also come other provisions built into a majority of westernized societies, worker protections first and foremost centered around physical safety, functional, safe working conditions, rules on work hours being the most recognized; OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) coordinates on the job regulation, violation of safety protocols. Still didn’t prevent the Upper Big Branch mining disaster where for want of basic safety practices 29 people wouldn’t have lost their lives, exposing 122 violations over a single year alone and a long history of same years prior, exposing a business culture where it’s cheaper, more convenient to pay the fines than it is to fix the problems, keep employees safe. Owners/operators, CEO’s lining their pockets while not paying their workers near enough to compensate for hazardous conditions, not funneling that money into mitigating said hazardous conditions shielding workers; CEO found guilty of a misdemeanor charge receiving 1 year in prison and 250,000 in fines. BP’s deep water horizon oil rig, where 15 people died, countless workers were injured, legally/legitimately got waivers for disaster plans, permission to forgo environmental impact studies; had no idea how to respond in the event of a spill resulting in untold environmental damage. Cintas professional laundry had huge industrial dryers that would clog daily people forced to climb inside to dislodging stuck fabric items causing one man’s death when he fell in, workers regularly discouraged from reporting injuries to OSHA, requested to come in and watch videos while injured so no missed days of work have to be reported; showing a history of ineffectual oversight management. Fast-forward closer present day, the iconic New Jersey boardwalk fire, a Wisconsin corn mill explosion injuring up to 16 workers and a prior history of safety issues just the most up to date smattering of workplace hazards employed Americans have to navigate. Worker protections also expanded to freedom from physical and sexual harassment as well, prevention of things like leaked Chinese video showing workers humiliatingly being spanked for perceived bad work performance the public there didn’t even agree should have been handled that way, bank president suspended; if you are a student in most schools globally, attending college abroad you won’t be subjected to a virginity test to finalize admission, what an Egyptian official suggested predictably exclusively for female applicants. You have legal recourse if you feel you were fired unjustly or for arbitrary reasons and never underestimate the power of social media; people hear about it when you are fired for the sports tie you wore to work, fired for doing your job, fired for preventing robberies, ordered to pay back money stolen or be fired because the manager allegedly broke policy on putting register amounts over X dollars in the safe; problem, she was too busy serving customers, let go when she refused to pay up. Prompting the following intelligent citizen comment, “I wonder to what degree, if any this is result of the franchise holder not hiring enough staff to serve customers so the manager at the time doesn’t have to serve customers as well. I would think the process of taking excess cash out of the registers to drop into the safe is as fast as characterized. Surely its required that the amount of cash being removed is counted. That takes time to do accurately, time that the register can’t be used to serve customers.” [Sic] Teens told to go home/change shorts bought from their own employer’s website in the career and work category, a teacher axed for participating in a bikini contest, worker fired via text in transport to the hospital after having a life threatening allergic reaction. All offered other jobs or reluctant employer compensation when their stories went viral. Countering the narrative we are the only ones, repetitive to ask again questions about is this piece trying to compare dissimilar, incongruent countries ranks for removed from each other, in light of the top 2 foreign examples; arcane sexist work rules went viral in Canada and the UK (tied for 6th on the index) when someone posted a picture on social media of their friend working at a popular Canadian bar told to remain in her work required heals even though her toenail had come off and her foot was bleeding, representing a sanitary issues for an establishment serving food, prevision in that bar’s footwear rules allowing for medical conditions, emergencies. As if a bleeding food somehow doesn’t qualify as an emergency; makes you wonder what does. UK instance comprising a woman reporting to her first day on a new jab where she was told she would be given a uniform but she could not wear her dress flat shoes laughed at mercilessly when question why by asking why a fellow male co-worker wasn’t wearing heals either, flats worn precisely due to a 9 hour shift at reception being up and down escorting clients to meeting rooms; global attention prompting officials to review the policy igniting a national debate. Workplace rules making it harder for persons with disabilities to get employed, sending them through another hoop obtaining a medical waiver to wear the shoes they can with orthotic braces, work place rules creating headaches for people with age related, birth defect or simply common foot problems to don the footwear recommended by their doctors, make it that much harder for older workers to work unto retirement, well after if they chose. 2 women’s bid for functional footwear and sane policies hardly the first time workplace rules stood to embarrass held up as better than us European countries; in 2010 word got out Norwegian bosses overseeing various offices across the country were monitoring and putting red wristbands on women during their period to explain ‘extended time’ allegedly spent in the bathroom, about 66% micromanaging female employees this way were doling out pass keys to restrooms to track time spent in the toilet but only 1 went that far; Norway sharing a cozy respectable spot with Germany listed 13th. The very next year 2011 UBS bank out of Switzerland quickly became the butt of global jokes when it’s 44 page style guide became known covering tips from what perfume to wear, how to apply makeup and extending the life of your knee socks, suggesting skin tone colored underwear and admonishing people to avoid onion and garlic breath, “Men are told to choose ties with patterns that ‘match the bone structure of the face’…told how to knot a tie as well as to get a haircut every month and avoid unruly beards and earrings.” If you need a 44 page dress code on a job not handling dangerous, volatile chemicals, explosives, nuclear waste, infectious diseases, other bio or industrial hazards you plainly need to think again; if you really must tell your employees to button their suit jacket upon standing and unbutton upon sitting, tell women to avoid black nail polish, you either need to get a better applicant pool or take a solid look at who comes into your bank and how they react to the supposedly offensive grooming habits, you may find it endears them to younger customers. Important, these aren’t places that cane women for wearing pants, forbid them to drive cars, wear makeup (ever) and arrest them for exposing head hair in public, they are fully westernized, most would say actualized nations holding at less than the top 10 while America sits between 19th and 23rd; putting a further black eye on their stellar reputation, these countries rankings have held with little fluctuation for several years inconsistent with continuous stories revealed.
Gaping holes in legislation marring the America we all thought we had; repeatedly Americans in recent decades are waking up to the cold, hard cognitive dissonance of the America they believed they lived in and the one that actually exists where situations, natural disasters, mass shootings, other major violent acts, show us we don’t live in the perfection, at least for us, once believed. Superstorm Sandy readily exposed the stupidity of disbanding an agency like FEMA responsible for disaster relief; hurricane Katrina before that underscoring importance of updated disaster evacuation plans to accommodate number of city residents, importance tied to unsung parts of infrastructure i.e. levies, chiefly maintaining them. Nevertheless less presidential candidates Rand Paul and Mitt Romney ran on privatizing such services, Paul telling debate listeners not to build their house on a beach, it get washed away expecting the government to furnish funds for replacement; Sandy partially ensuring neither got elected. Accessing rightful compensation for damages in either major disaster event another maze of papers, headache and limbo complicated further when FEMA trailers used as temporary housing became toxic. Who could forget the endless uproar over former president Obama’s birth certificate, news coverage largely devoted to debunking unrealistic claims, commentary calling floated conspiracy theories absurd, racist and discriminatory, which they were no doubt, but they missed then business tycoon Donald Trump was able to say a certificate of live birth and a birth certificate weren’t the same thing because of variations in common documents differing slightly by city, county and state, the double digit number of types long form, short form, certified, heirloom, informational exc. Critical when paring identification issues with voting laws aimed to prevent fraud that end up defrauding thousands of their right to vote, when you don’t have a birth certificate because you’re at least 70 years of age and don’t remember where it is if you ever had it, don’t recall your birthplace to attempt to track it down, the sheer number of potential fires, floods, building renovations that could have destroyed your birth certificate during those years. Everyone from Jim Crow era south persons who don’t possess birth certificates to off the grid lifestyles, home births of today; the process when dealing with an error on your original birth certificate, obtaining documents if you move from the state where you were born. Take Eddie Lee Holloway Jr. unable to vote in Wisconsin’s 2016 primary for want of an I.D., a driver’s license the Badger state wouldn’t give him when he moved from Illinois despite already being a licensed driver there because his birth certificate read “Eddie Junior Holloway,” despite him also having with him his Illinois photo ID and social security card. Seeking to fix the original problem he bummed a ride to vital records to be told it would be 400-600 dollars to fix the problem, unemployed and disabled at 58 that’s impossible; also informed he would have to go to Illinois state capitol in person to amend his birth certificate. “So Holloway bought a $180 round-trip bus ticket and traveled four hours back to his home state. Once in Springfield, the division said it needed a copy of his high-school and vaccination records. Holloway went to his hometown of Decatur to get his school records, paying $20 to his friend for gas money, but after returning to Springfield, Vital Records said it needed his full Social Security statement, which he didn’t have. He also visited the Illinois DMV, but had no luck there either. He left Illinois without getting the documents he needed to vote in Wisconsin.” Upon returning home he obtained the required social security documents only to find he was not permitted to fax, e-mail them and would have to appear in person again unable to afford it; cases like his prompting an ACLU challenge and subsequent judicial review that never should have been needed. Reminds me of my friend and her quest to replace her driver’s license and social security card after her wallet was stolen, social security office and the DMV not wanting to issue replacement documents without the other item despite her ability to answer standard security questions; thankfully resolved requesting a supervisor get involved. 2016’s elections shocked multitudes of people on multiple levels none so much so as the closed primary rules in select states shutting out favorite Bernie Sanders and feeding into notions the system was rigged, the DNC (democratic national committee’s inside baseball, prompting the very public resignation of chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, cost him the nomination; however, electoral mathematical fact demonstrates more people turned up to vote for dreaded Hillary than did for Bernie along the segregated party lines in states like Arizona, New York and 26 other states closing one or both parties primary choosing. Now we can argue the fairness of closed primaries, whether they facilitate or hinder democracy, if we should keep them intact going forward, yet that was the law in 2016 when citizens cast their ballot; didn’t stop the chair throwing and damn near riots at the Nevada convention center, one of a litany of holes in our bastion in a hill democracy. Few would believe child marriage is legal in all 50 states of our union unless they saw the documentaries on the lost girls of Nepal, belonging instead to far away regions like Turkey, part of the Muslim middle east explaining it all to American minds, a place whose leader called for beheadings there after an attempted change in government; largely based on antiquated laws and legislators who have no idea it does indeed remain legal, equally based on archaic attitudes if a teen girl gets pregnant she should, has to marry the father. Female genital mutilation sounds like something only possible in the backwoods of Africa where westerners first heard of it, rampant in the Arab world next to honor killings on a barbarism scale no one would think it had come to America; unfortunately cultural blending isn’t always positive or complete meaning families initially from other countries, immigrant parents adhering to old traditions find cultural leaders in their neighborhoods willing to perform the procedure, take their child out of the country guise to visit relatives, vacation, have it done, no one the wiser. Doctors here, in the UK feeling increasingly pressured to do like procedures, at minimum in medically sterile conditions, using medical instruments as opposed to knives, razor blades find an acceptable, ‘less harmful’ compromise to appease families they know will take the child back to their ‘home country’ to have it done. Not long after it was discovered to happen on a widespread basis the UK banned the ‘ritual nick’ as it was called and banned people from going out of the country solely to have it done; unfortunately falling short as families committed to their variation on values would pool resources to bring a ‘cutter’ there to do said mutilation. Many here were horrified when the Obamacare mandates came out stating all employers must provide insurance encompassing full reproductive care for woman amazed insurance companies had been able to get away with doing anything else all these years. Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student deemed a slut by radio shock jock rush Limbaugh in actuality gave powerful testimony to a congressional panel on women’s issues about the hurdles for students seeking birth control, less for pregnancy prevention and to rather treat female reproductive organ diseases/disorders. Chronicling the humiliation faced by students at pharmacies when they discover the medicine’s not covered, humiliating questioning by school officials that do carry a medical exemption, few have such stipulations, including interrogating a lesbian student with zero interest in the original function of birth control; other women coming forward thanks to national attention highlighting life with underlying genetic disorders making it impossible for them to take the ‘$9 Wal-Mart, Costco variety paying thousands out of pocket to treat conditions or simply not get pregnant. The Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby in their religious freedom case essentially stating corporations are people under the law and therefore can deny persons portions of insurance based on the corporation’s religious beliefs. Belying progress achieved since the women’s movement, breakouts into careers happening in the 90’s early 2000’s, women still face tremendous bias in the workplace when seeking management positions illustrated in a makeup ad going viral, separate entirely from the gender pay gap and imposed workplace secrecy regarding pay, sexual harassment is still seen far too much the price for going to work, the norm on the job for women; beyond the deplorable behind the scenes acts at Fox News there was the exposure of Uber’s rampant sexual harassment a woman propositioned for sex on her first day by a male manager, other managers and upper level staff complicit even HR, told she would be ignored, suffer job consequences if she didn’t stop complaining, Kay Jewelers management trading sex for a location transfer, new opportunities. Mass shootings taught us how misapplication of privacy laws kept Seung Cho on camps terrorizing his teachers, classmates until he killed 32, how even with a civilian hotline and expanded police powers to remit persons to a standard 72 hour psych hold Jared Loughner slipped through the fingers of all the people who could have kept him from permanently maiming Gabrielle Giffords, namely because most Arizonians didn’t know about the hotline. James Holmes was permitted to quit school and no warning was given to his community despite his own psychiatrist contacting his mother, then both campus security and developed school threat assessment teams designed to head off school shootings, mass shootings, intervene with the mentally ill before they can harm themselves or the public. Dylan Roof shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun according to South Carolina law because he admitted drugs found on his person during a prior arrest were actually his; thanks to a clerical error misidentifying the arresting police precinct he was able to get the gun responsible for killing 9 people. Lax though the gun laws may be, most agree children shouldn’t have access to them before a certain age even then confined to sport shooting of something other than bullets, hunting which includes safety training, so how was a parent able to take her 9 year old girl to a shooting range complete with pink pigtails and everyone involved agree to let her shoot an automatic Uzi? Make no mistake that’s exactly what happened resulting in the death of her shooting instructor when she just couldn’t handle the powerful kickback; yet no one charged her obviously negligent parents with neglect, abuse, child endangerment, states regulate gun ranges on an all too familiar haphazard, patchwork basis and parents do this far too much. An 8 year old on the east coast dying because of his dad bringing him to a gun show, placing a similar Uzi in his hand, that case prosecuted; belying the zero credibility NRA who either remain silent or make fools of themselves when speaking saying it rarely happens, calling them freak accidents. Legislation for this mirroring female genital mutilation and child marriage; lawmakers just aren’t aware how much it does happen. On the other hand, Montel Williams years go said on his show, when he was still hosting a talk program concluding in 2008, we don’t have a process for dealing with the innocent; telling the story of a woman arrested on the side of the road, shoved into the dirt, shirt immodestly nearly yanked off of her possibly in front of her family, for them to get her to the police station performing a mandatory strip search for processing, only then did they begin asking where are your tattoos, where’s your mole finally realizing what she’d been trying to tell them, they had the wrong person. She would still spend at minimum the weekend in jail as there was no one available to process her out, no procedure to handle an innocent wrongful arrest. And things haven’t changed in the 8 years since he went off the air, in fact getting worse; adding to the number of people shot mistaken for a criminal, police barging into the wrong home to serve arrest warrants the New York Times did an eye-popping piece last year entitled ‘How a $2 Roadside Drug Test Sends Innocent People to Jail’ revealing problems not just with the testing, barely updated since 1973, prone to producing positives not merely for drugs but for common household cleaners, color tests long ago determined starkly unreliable by the scientific testing bodies responsible for final substance analysis, rendered falsely one way or the other because of heat or cold, effects of weather, warnings going as far back as 1978 about them being used as sole evidence, justice department demanding warnings be place on packages about false positives by test kit makers as of 2000 to spotty compliance. Officer training on using those tests, in an effort to reduce horrendous backlogs training seminars often replace laboratory tests in probable cause scenarios, situations plagued by officers who couldn’t understand the instructions, officers who misunderstood which color indicated a positive, those that included breaking plastic covered vials/pouches in a specific order breaking them in the wrong order, misreading them or guessing thanks to poor lighting, testing crumbs and specs of would be drugs; now we all know from science, forensic shows like CSI and it’s several spin-offs it can be done, but not in a field scenario using a test that costs less than a latte. Next one woman who was stopped by local Texas patrol with her boyfriend was processed into jail, on felony possession of what was thought to be cocaine, called an acquaintance to check on her disabled son, explain things to her job, next morning meets with an ambivalent, apathetic public defender who didn’t seem to care if she was guilty or innocent having already met with the prosecutor willing to offer her a deal 45 days for what could have been a 2 year sentence. Scared, thinking of who would care for her disabled son, seeing little or no option agreed; after which she was escorted before a judge for an exchange that went like this: “The judge, Vanessa Velasquez, walked her through the recitation, Albritton recalls, but never asked why she couldn’t stop crying long enough to speak in sentences. She had managed to say the one word that mattered: “guilty.” No one prosecutor, public defender or judge would ask for the mandatory lab report since field tests are inadmissible in court as if it didn’t matter because she was pleading guilty. Severing 21 of 45 days she came out to find her boyfriend long gone, her job and subsequent apartment too gone, unable to get anything above minimum wage work from formerly managing apartments, even denied a promotion at her waitressing job because of her conviction. Meanwhile the lab in Texas had been discredited, put under new management who was determined to process everything even on closed cases, guilty pleas, no matter if it took years; leading to a mass of exonerations where not only were weights of drugs off, the wrong drug ‘detected’ but literally hundreds that turned out not to be drugs at all, including Amy Albritton, information coming too late a full 5 months after serving her sentence and being permanently branded a felon. The crumb of ‘drugs’ weren’t in fact drugs at all, rather speculated food particles; powder found on other ‘evidence’ collected from her car came back something called BC powder aspirin and caffeine mixed, perfectly legal and available over the counter. Officials finally cottoning on to the mess hired managers, privative investigators to process paperwork and to find the wrongly convicted, send them letters notifying them of their changed status, finalize their exoneration; Albritton’s sent to an old address and, if it wasn’t for investigative reporters at the New York Times, she still wouldn’t know her case had been overturned. It was then readers found out about more misconduct from her, arguably not worth his law license, public defender best summed up; “In fact, Richardson, Albritton’s original court-appointed lawyer, says the prosecutor offered her a deferred adjudication, in which she may have been able to wait for the results of a lab test outside the walls of a jail cell. Richardson, who first said he had no memory of their conversations, says he told her about the offer but she refused it. Albritton says she has never heard of anything called deferred adjudication. Neither could explain what actually happened. Perhaps they simply accepted that the field test, with its promise of scientific inevitability, would eventually convict her.” Her new representation still waits for the trip before a judge to finalize her exoneration, as of the 2016 story date, and weighing options to a lawsuit, including the test manufacturers; Albritton poster woman for thousands wrongly arrested and languishing in jails for mistakes. Readers will remember the man arrested for meth that turned out to be doughnut icing result of another field test nightmare, another man arrested on DUI who tested positive for caffeine AKA drinking coffee or an energy drink; prosecutors blaming it on too narrow a blood test that doesn’t test for synthetic marijuana, bath salts or performance enhancing drugs. Drugs a chief cause of wrongful arrest and conviction like the woman in 2016 arrested for felony drug possession who was incarcerated 96 days sans access to a lawyer, going before a judge; when she finally did, secretly recorded video initially submitted by police/prosecutors saw her commit no crime whatsoever. Worse, when she sued for violation of her rights to legal counsel, bail, a speedy trial among other things she was told because she was indicted by a grand jury on the drug charge no rights were violated; baffling civil liberties advocates long going to war with Mississippi state’s justice system who nearly refuses to hire any public defenders, allocate any state, county budgetary funds to public defenders. A man languished 6 months in New York’s notorious Riker’s Island because no one told him judges had reduced his bail from 50,000 to $1; New Mexico arrested a man on DWI, put him in a cell alone because of a history of mental illness forgotten in virtually solitary confinement for 2 years unable to shower, toenails growing around his feet, had to pull his own tooth, never given a trial, never saw a judge, had 3 days of evaluations and 7 days of rec time at the beginning, otherwise confined to his cell, eventually winning a $15 million dollar settlement from the state. In Florida, the man spending 3 months behind bars awaiting test results proved negative suspects drywall dust from his job is what cops mistook for crack, incidentally the identical state of the icing case. A woman rousted out of bed by police asked if she was Maria Hernandez, when she says yes she is roughly thrown into handcuffs, her repeated questions why ignored; over 2 months later they would discover they indeed had the wrong Maria Hernandez, that this one was not guilty of insurance fraud and though she shared the same name, had done nothing wrong. Problem, it was California and Maria Hernandez is a common name, as common to the Hispanic, Mexican America, Latino community as Jane Doe or John Smith; California known for its Latino variants and population. Try another one, man suffering the same police name confusion compounded by a identical birthday was still arrested and spent 3 days in jail independent being 9 inches taller, 40 pounds heavier than the wanted man, possessing a different middle name. Justice system easily nicknamed the injustice system.
It’s as if in our insatiable and detrimental drive to compete, to compare ourselves to others, argue over who’s society is freest, who’s social framework is better, who’s education system turns out what kind of student, person, employee, arguably too much emphasis placed on end labor market values upon completion of educational pursuits, we’ve forgotten what laws are for, why they exist, why having many of them or few of them matters less than do they serve the people effected by them. In our rush to call out American society as being too litigious, see lawsuits by prison inmates over peanut butter and caricatures of parents who fed their kids too much candy causing them to puke on the carpet to then sue the candy maker, perception helped along by no shortage of ‘common sense,’ evangelical and identical effect preachers, we failed to see lawsuits as the only recourse for horribly wronged persons, injured persons whose lives were quite possibly torn apart by something that happened as the result of grievous error, negligence, criminal activity by those in authority, stemmed from faulty products with lengthy safety record problems. We failed to question whether ‘fast food made me fat cases’ were really about non-disclosure of fat content/calorie counts, health risk, were they employing marketing tactics ala big tobacco to sell their product; we failed to properly acknowledge the emerging food desert neighborhoods housing only convenience stores and fast food chains selling $1 menu items. Dynamic complicated by manual laborers whose joints would ache were they as buff as fitness gurus hired for The Biggest Loser, forget the average person; impacting their ability to spend 45 minutes to an hour cooking a ‘nutritious/ healthy’ meal for them, their family post working 8,10, 12 or 16 hour days, simultaneously screaming personal responsibility mantras. Comprehension beverage lawsuits were never about coming too late to the conclusion coffee is hot and trying to make a quick buck rather about McDonald’s selling beverages at too high a temperature to be safe, fully aware their competitors kept them 10 and 20 degrees lower, or that if you invested in a 10 cent cup versus a 5 cent one and a 4 cent lid instead of a 2 cent lid there never would have been a suit because no one would have gotten seriously hurt sans drastic human error, thanks to lids that stay on cups that don’t collapse, resulting spill not taking place. Failing to glean the purpose of such lawsuits to effect change, whether that’s changing laws, business practices, product designs, the process by which products are deemed safe for public consumption, to make fellow citizens and lawmakers aware of significant problems. Imagine if one thing, just one thing changed in those drug cases from the previous paragraph, setting aside police training, poor public defender performances, judges who probably assumed those pleading guilty were indeed guilty, even separating why traffic violations for failure to signal, broken taillights, nonfunctioning break or headlights turned into searches for drugs; what if the tests were better, what if they cost $20 not 2 and only popped positives for illegal drugs, active (get high components of illegal drugs), what if it came with a failsafe telling you you’d broken vials in the wrong order, misunderstood instructions, what if all the old tests were replaced with the new ones free of charge to every police department across the country? Putting it bluntly, we have so many laws in this country, in America, known as the free world directly because we have so many laws in this country and still—the cases depicted piece-wide happened; regular readers know how this writer advocates not just throwing another law at something, pinpointing how much easier it would be legislatively to tweak laws already existing to accommodate new situations surrounding issue X, the importance of enforcing laws previously created. Preventing things like the Kermit Gosnell house of horrors abortion clinic not by further restricting legal abortion, by forcing doctors to have admitting privileges at the nearest hospital, sometimes hundreds of miles away, demanding clinic rooms be operating room theaters effectively shutting down thousands of facilities nationwide, fitting your religion driven moral compass while you’re at it. But by conducting the simple, mandatory yearly inspections that hadn’t been done in over a decade; reprimanding if not shutting down the other legal facilities failing to report ill patients knowing where they were coming from, fire nurses, legal facility personnel handing desperate women his name address and number, just one example. And when new legislation is what’s called for, when it’s the only thing that will serve us well and functionally draft it; the UK is mulling over exactly that in light of the devastatingly cruel acid attacks, making it so civilians cannot get such corrosive materials only licensed entities to stop what’s happening. We’ve come to a place of having so many laws in this country because, despite our constitution built to ward off the petty ego stroking of would be dictators, built with 3 co-equal branches of government one meant to check the others and vice versa a man died because local municipalities saw fit, by majority vote, virtue of the democratic process to ban baggy pants then allow cops to improperly enforce it. Lock step with other clothing bans on pajamas in public, almost indistinguishable from yoga and workout gear, see through clothing worn in public though see through items are worn over solid color full thickness garments preventing exposure and making the law redundant, thong underwear not seen precisely because it is underwear; we have separation of church and state and a first amendment saying the government shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, translation favoring or disparaging one religion over another, yet a prominent creationist was able to build a tax payer subsidized Noah’s Ark theme park now blaming atheists for dwindling attendance and monetary returns. Never mind he shouldn’t have been able to build it without private investment or donations substituting state tax dollars because that is a violation of federal and state constitutions; Kentucky the same state who passed legislation all government documents must include the phrase ‘in the year of our lord,’ how 1660’s of them. Again have they read the constitution, can they pass a test the appropriate grade school-child could pass with flying colors; whether they meant lord as in another word for god or lord as in king/master, it isn’t wording that has any place in a democracy, democratic republic and certainly not on government documents. Locally too, schools teach creationism, intelligent design and schoolboards fight tooth and nail over the educational instruction of evolution because it doesn’t line up with their supposed Christian values, biology and anatomy and physiology in bible belt, industrial pockets of America scaled back. Scared to death teens will learn about their own bodies, understand how sex works, where babies come from or that the birth control on market isn’t as abortifacient as preachers preach on Sunday; why they also insist on abstinence only sex education, religious minded speakers ala Pam Stenzel going against every study saying the more information kids have about sex, sexual health the later they start having sex. And because of puritanical values on sex and romantic relationships Maplewood Missouri tried to evict a woman from her home for ‘excessive’ reports to police about her abusive boyfriend (calling a total of 4 times) anything more than 2 on the specific topic of domestic can cost you’re your city occupancy permit mandated to live there; area seeming to blame the problem on everyone but the perpetrator, be more concerned about the community nuisance of her calls, the safety of officers than a disabled woman being hit, shoved and choked by a man who won’t leave her alone. Religion’s prominence in society has, as demonstrated, led to injured and dead kids, assaulted, burned individuals, a shunning of fact, reason and science to little consequence when actions turn negligently criminal; one woman only convicted in the death of her child choosing faith healing over standard medicine for her daughter’s diagnosed cancer because she wasn’t affiliated with a religious denomination that espoused the practice. Several states holding no such stipulation, forgetting entirely it shouldn’t be legal to shun medical care for the minor, person of diminished capacity in your care. The Indiana mom citing religious freedom in the beating of her son only received a deferred year in jail substituted for probation and parenting classes continuing to have access to if not custody of her kid. We have endless laws meant to protect children then go after parents for a common toddler fall because they dutifully took her to the emergency room vomiting after said fall, doctors finding retinal (eye) bleeding they immediately went to shaken baby syndrome; weeks later in court a medical expert testifies, bolstering attending physicians claims there was nothing to support abuse, that based on their daughter’s head size her injury was constant with a minor fall, her head was ideal for such bleeding with little to no trauma. After which they were still placed on a registry of scrutinized possibly abusive parents, nearly a year and $75,000 in legal fees before they could legally get it removed. Unscrupulous psychiatrists fabricating unfounded claims of abuse, parental alienation, oddly without interviewing the child, parent only once, victims unable to convince regulatory bodies to do their regulatory duties, investigate complaints; why illuminated in a ProPublica article reprinted on Salon.com, “Due to our inability to access records or discuss the services rendered with this psychologist, we are unable to investigate this matter or to initiate disciplinary action based upon your complaint,” a letter from the office, from the spring of 2012, explained. “I am sorry we cannot be of more assistance to you.” Vert next paragraph reading “The office’s response was typical, a ProPublica examination shows. Though psychologists who appear in New York’s Family and Matrimonial Courts help shape decisions of grave consequence — from custody to child protection to juvenile delinquency — their work is subject to little or no professional oversight, purportedly because the confidentiality of such proceedings makes them hard to penetrate even for regulators;” epic fail. Laws likewise exist to safeguard the public from bad doctors, unscrupulous medical professionals finding it goes way beyond dubious plastic surgeons using spatulas as surgical tool; dentists are now abusing kids by removing perfectly healthy teeth to bill Medicaid. 2 Ohio doctors and one wife were arrested for performing female genital mutilation, but that can’t change what was done to them; religious freedom cited in court. Adults aren’t safe either regularly molested by pervert doctors performing in office procedures with anesthetics similar to the dentist office, rubbing patients breasts, manipulating a patients hand to fondle the doctor while semi-conscious; relatedly there was the lawyer who literally hypnotized his clients to perform sexual favors on him or on them. Prevalence of cellphones housing video capabilities and increasing societal video surveillance has finally moved the needle on police violence against black and brown people of color, charges were brought against the officers and police van personnel/driver surrounding the Freddie Gray case only to have a judge bewilderingly ask in open court if a crime had been committed; let’s see officers lacking probable cause to arrest a man do so anyway for seeing cops and deciding to be elsewhere, avoid confrontation, hand cuff him loading him into a van sans standard operating procedure of putting on his seatbelt since he can’t do it himself, ignore pleas for his inhaler since police have confiscated the contents of his pockets, respond to further pleas for medical help by stopping to shackle his legs not just his hands, still forgetting that all important seatbelt, delaying even more when they discover he is unresponsive. And the clincher, abrasions in the back of Gray’s head match van bolt configuration, cause of death severed spinal cord at the neck from a violent forward or backward motion; what do you mean was there a crime committed, at minimum you have manslaughter, negligent homicide, noting the judge’s comment wasn’t you filed the wrong charges for events that transpired, but consisted of was there a crime here, strongly implying an accident. Negligence is no accident especially with the city’s reputation for doling out so called rough rides, roughing up ‘criminals’ to scare them straight. Both legislation and public attitude had done a positive near compete 180 regarding LGBT issues, bathroom bills aside, and still parents freak-out over a soup ad featuring 2 dads, an Alabama movie theater decided not to air a widely acclaimed new film because of LGBT characters and a girl was thrown out of a soccer match for her too short hair, presumed to be a boy due to her hairstyle independent parent provided insurance forms confirming her gender, she was so good at soccer at age 8 she and her team were playing against 11 year olds. Now some of this is obviously cultural and the change needs to be in the hearts and minds of the people, not in laws, rules, guidelines and regulations, but that doesn’t mitigate the 3rd degree burns suffered by the gay men doused with hot water because their mother’s boyfriend ‘didn’t want that gay shit’ in what turned out wasn’t even his home, and no one bought his ‘I’m from the old school’ defense argument true, though no one knows when ‘being old school’ meant inflicting permanent, grievous assault; however, there was a time when those charges and many others depicted here wouldn’t have been filed at all, seen fit to file, been a law to begin with, aren’t in other countries even the westernized bastions America is always told to look to. Why we have so many laws in this country.