Blacks, bigots, gays and gals!

When I first met Lyle Foster in 2008, I knew right away I would like the guy. A small business owner, very intelligent, and funny in his approach – three pros right off the bat. Plus, when we met we were sitting along side each other as candidates for a city council election. We weren’t running for the same seat, so that made it all the easier to like him.

Since that time, I have grown more and more respect for the man. He was one of the few who wrote me when I was incarcerated; he has believed in me when others didn’t; he has brought a lot of development on the north side of Springfield with little government help. Above all that, he is a good man.

One of the things he regularly does these days (aside from running two businesses, tending to tenants of his rental lofts, and being involved in several community organizations) is contribute to the News-Leader on a regular basis (I don’t think the guy sleeps… no, really).

His articles are ones I read with dedication, and rarely miss. Not because I always agree with him; I do not. Regardless of my position or his, he makes me think. A few times we have gone back and forth with our thoughts. In short, I enjoy the guy.

The reason I bring him up is this: he recently wrote an article in the News-Leader, Talking about race issues should not be taboo. In it, he asserts an overall belief that because race is a taboo issue to discuss, our best, brightest, and most educated young adults are making choices in life that are – well, in my words – ignorant. Whether its a college frat chanting racist songs about lynchings, or the “splash” made by Starbucks wanting to discuss the race issue over the counter, we seem to think the topic of race is either a joke or one that should be discussed in passing.

Why is this? Well, this is where I agree with Lyle Foster 100%: the issue of race is taboo – one we are almost afraid to talk about – and in not talking about it we leave our nation in a world of ignorance, especially the younger generations. We don’t talk about race, history, and things we as a nation have overcome. We don’t talk about things we could be doing to improve society. We don’t act like a civilized, enlightened and capable nation.

Now, here is where Lyle and I may disagree – and that’s the “why”.

Why is it we don’t talk about it? The same reason we can’t talk about gender or sexuality: yes, it’s taboo. Why is it taboo? Because it has become nothing more than a political issue, and the issue is completely monopolized by a group of people who, if you have any sort of difference of opinion, you are racist, sexist, or a bigot.

If you disagreed with Obama, it wasn’t because he is so far out in left field that Cubans find him more palatable than they do their own Socialist leaders. It can’t be because his policies on economics, foreign relations, and social issues are not in keeping with what your positions are. Nope – it’s solely because you are racist. That’s all.

Same thing goes with Ferguson: forget the forensics, forget the investigation, forget the truth – if you aren’t on the black guy’s side, you’re racist.

But this is not only limited to race. There are other taboo topics.

For instance, did you know that if you use terms like “polarizing, calculating, disingenuous, insincere, ambitious, inevitable, entitled, over confident, out of touch, secretive, will do anything to win”, you are sexist… well, if it’s in reference to Hillary Clinton. You read that right, all the terms used daily in today’s political arena are now code words for “I’m sexist” when used in unison with Hillary. There is a group dedicated to telling you just that, and spending their time finding these references against the Democrat Presidential Candidate.

Let’s do one more category (yes, category – because we can’t be individuals, we have to be in groups). The LGBT community – well, not the community as a whole. The activists. The LGBT activists will tell you they want to promote tolerance, yet the blogs and social media posts by the same crowd are filled with terms like evil, ignorant, intolerant, backwoods, bigot, anti-Christ. That’s just the few I found in one article’s comments section, looking only at the first nine comments out of the 247 made. I personally know a MSU college professor – a doctor in Sociology – who uses very similar terms on his Facebook page.

That, in lowly Springfield, MO.

So, where Lyle and I agree is that when the issue of pretty much anything that creates groups or sub-categories of Americans comes up(race, gender, sexual orientation), we can’t talk about it. It is taboo.

I don’t know why he personally thinks that is, but it is pretty clear that the same group that has a monopoly on those groups as a voting bloc will destroy you socially if you disagree.

Talk bad about female democrats, you are sexist.

Disagree with Gay Right’s Activists, you will be threatened.

Disagree with forensic evidence and side with a white police officer, your town will burn.

From a conservative who sorely wishes to discuss race, gender, and sexuality in a rational manner, I am here to tell you it seems impossible. It seems that if I personally want to talk about these topics, my opinion (regardless of how grounded, educated, and well thought out) will lead me to be called a racist and misogynistic homophobe.

How do you “talk” when you are cornered? How do you have a rational discussion with somebody who promotes tolerance and hypocritically happens to be the most intolerant person you know? How do you say “I disagree” when you know that as soon as you say that you are a backwoods, ignorant bigot?

Maybe it’s not impossible. However, until those very same people who are saying they want unity stop dividing the debate in to “good and bad” or “right and wrong”, we will get nowhere.

So, in conclusion, when the other side is ready to stop being the adjectives they are using against me, I don’t really know how to talk to them. Not that I’m better than any other human being, but I am better than to act like a fifth grader crying on the playground because not everybody agrees with my point of view. And I’m not for sure, but I would venture to say I’m not alone in my position.

When the individuals who are acting like children are ready to put their big boy (or girl (watch it now!!) britches on, maybe race and other said topics will stop being so “taboo”.

Maybe when we can do all that, we can give a little more hope to American posterity and how their society will interact and behave.

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Trial by Media: Ibarra, Zimmerman, and Wilson

Note: This is a long one – so hang on. And I hope it’s worth your time.

It wasn’t long ago I was a regular headline in the local news. A city councilman hitting rock bottom in two instances that led to his resignation from office and eventually 120 days of incarceration. Since that time, two major events have occurred that I watched with a heightened sense of understanding and frustration. After all, I had been through the media ringer and I was watching the same thing happen with two other individuals: George Zimmerman and as of late Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson.

To back up a little I want to briefly discuss what I mean with the title “trial by media”. When a shocking and exciting event happens and news agencies cover the story, the news reporters are in a position to have to report the story – often times without all the information. What becomes frustrating is when more information does become available and the media ignores it because they have already set up their narrative and they typically don’t sway from it.

For instance, the first of the two instances I was involved in (Thanksgiving Day 2011) was a situation where I followed a radically driving teenager home to talk to his father. When I arrived I was confronted with hostility and after an escalation of tempers and being assaulted, I tried to retreat without success until after somebody was severely injured.

What the news reported was that it was a “road rage incident” in which I ended up running a man in to a brick mailbox after dragging him and one other individual more than 600 feet, in reverse, with my car. “Nick Ibarra, city councilman, raging bad guy!”

What never did happen was media asking why there were two men climbing on and in my car while I was trying to retreat. Neither was it asked why the statement of the involved men conflicted with a witness who was with the victims at their residence when asked if I was assaulted. The victims stated there was no physical altercation whereas both the witness and myself stated there was. There was never follow up, either, as to what happened to one of the main individuals involved who left the scene because he had a felony warrant for his arrest. Or, lastly, the “victims” were never asked why they said I was intoxicated then later stated I was not slurring, my eyes weren’t red, and I didn’t smell of alcohol. Like I said, the media already had their narrative set and they weren’t going to sway.

I fully recognize I was in the wrong for my part on the road and for following the young man home in general. I started the whole situation and I take full responsibility for my actions.

The issue for me is that the media never really investigated what happened – and that is what this post is about. The media and their often irresponsible approach to reporting.

Fast forward just a few months to February 2012. In a small Florida town, Sanford, 28-year-old George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The media quickly ran with the story that Zimmerman, a white man, shot and killed a black teenager. This news quickly spread and the regular accusations of race driven violence spread throughout the nation as fast as a wildfire in California.

Before long there were hints that it wasn’t a white-on-black crime after all. Once the family of Zimmerman began making statements, we realized that George was referred to as Jorge, with the “J” being a “H” sound… or, in short, Jorge wasn’t so white after all. He was Hispanic. This is when the truth began to sprout and didn’t stop until after the trial was over and Zimmerman was acquitted of murder.

There was much more to the story than this being a random white neighborhood watch citizen shooting a black teen for the fact he was black. But then again, the media has to rush to judgement and get the story out as quick as possible – facts be negotiable. This was their story and they tried with all their might to stick to it!

To begin, Martin was 17, sure – but he was 5ft 11in tall and almost 160 lbs. That is the size of many grown men. He was in a neighborhood that had recently experienced burglaries. Martin was suspended from school for having drug paraphernalia and also for graffiti. He was also caught with tools used for burglaries and women’s jewelry. But he’s just a kid, right?

The story that Martin went to the store and bought a bottled iced tea and Skittles made him sound like a lowly teenager simply trying to enjoy his youth. With a few tries at Google, you can find limitless sites that discuss the drug “Lean”. Some of the ingredients? Flavored iced tea and skittles. There have been numerous references to Martin’s Facebook page and posts about “lean”, however there are as many claims the posts are false; I am sharing what I have found and allowing you to make your own decision. There is more to Martin’s electronic useage as well. The defense tried to introduce Martin’s texts during the murder trial of Zimmerman to display the violent nature of Martin. These facts should all play in to the character of Martin and should be known as much as the things that help us understand the character of Zimmerman.

Lastly, and above all else, the lowly teenager who was trying to simply get a snack down the street was beating Zimmerman while Zimmerman was on the ground before he shot Martin (click here and here for pictures). Fact.

In short, I’m not in any way trying to smear the name of Martin; but in order to understand what really happened, we must be willing to look at all facts regardless of how uncomfortable they make us. When we consider the whole picture of what happened in Sanford, Florida in 2012, we see the media was negligent in reporting the truth in a fair and impartial way – that’s another fact. It’s also a fact that this was much different a situation than the white-on-black crime the media portrayed.

Fast forward one more time to August 9, 2014; the location is Ferguson, Missouri. If you listened to the mainstream media, you would be led to believe a police officer decides to randomly shoot a black teenager for walking in the middle of the street.

With this media narrative, everyone from residents of Ferguson to Communists, Chicago Revolutionaries, and the regular race-baiting groups and individuals such as the Black Panthers and Al Sharpton have rained down protests, looting, and violence to “show their disapproval” of white cops killing black teens. The media? Same story as before with Zimmerman – whitey is killing the minority who is just minding his business. It’s a shame these concerned citizens and media outlets don’t have the same concern for issues concerning shootings when the roles are reversed.

None the less, the media – from national sources to local – has created a race related issue out of something when the facts show that there may be no need for such small-mindedness. You see, once a little time had passed, we found a very different story.

From what we know, here are the facts: a convenient store was robbed by a black man wearing a red hat, white shirt and shorts. Soon after, Police Officer Darren Wilson came in contact with 18 year old Michael Brown. Brown matched the description of the convenient store perpetrator (while reading this linked article which has valuable information, note the picture of the deceased on the ground). According to an eyewitness who was unaware he was being recorded (here and here), not only did the 6ft 4in, 280 pound Mike Brown assault the police officer, but after he started to walk away instead decided to turn back around and charg Officer Wilson. It is at this point the police officer discharged his firearm.

Since the shooting the media has gone full bore in promoting the “white cop killing the black teen” narrative. Further, Ferguson is on fire and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has had no problem rushing the justice system by stating “a vigorous prosecution is needed”. Nevermind the prudence and patience needed to allow true, blind justice to work. The same government that is supposed to uphold those values now sees them as useless. The same media that is supposed to offer non-bias reporting seems to enjoy the thought of racial contentions continuing in America – heck, it’s a good story.

When we watch and read the news, we need to be ever mindful that even non-political issues can quickly become political when the narrators of our information begin reporting. It is a fact. What needs to also be a fact is we as citizens need to practice patience, prudence, and objectivity when trying to understand what is really going on. Give truth the time to rear it’s head and understand the media has a job to do, and that is to keep readers and viewers.

May we read the news and be informed citizens, but may we also read the news as closely and critically as we listen to our politicians. May we scrutinize the media in the same way we would like the media to scrutinize people and events. And may we be forever mindful that the media is made up of human beings – flawed, imperfect creatures of nature that are subject to as many mistakes as anybody else.