Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sukkot 5774

As one who observes the Jewish Festivals and Sabbath by, inter alia, not doing any of the labors used to build the Temple (except for carrying and using fire, which are permitted on the holiday but not on the Sabbath), I have been incommunicado for the past 3 days except for face-to-face conversations, in observance of Sukkot. 

Note that the Festivals are two days outside the Holy Land of Israel, a practice harkening back to the times when communications options did not include any of those using electric or electronic technologies, in order to ensure that observance of the Festivals did in fact include the same full day time period as observed in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

This year, the holy days of the Festival were Thursday and Friday, followed by the Sabbath, thereby keeping me incommunicado for three days.  And next week will come another Thursday-Friday-Saturday stretch.

Which means that my wife and I are now playing catch-up with our respective professional correspondence and obligations.

Notwithstanding the doubletiming it causes, I do enjoy the holiday, and the weather was great Sukkah weather this year.

I had intended to post my holiday wishes on this blog, but a few hours before sunset on Wednesday some grassfires broke out in the case I am now litigating, and I had to put them out.  By the time I got the solar system back into balance, it was time to shut off the computer, take my shower and get ready for the holiday.

And so, I wish everyone a Chag Sameach Sukkot for what remains of the holiday.

And now, on to the big pile of e-mails to be answered, papers to be graded, a PowerPoint to be completed for a presentation, and a little legal research for the brief I will likely have to write in the ongoing litigation.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Nondiscriminatory Standard for Using a Discriminatory Word?

There is a difference between saying (or writing) a word and using that word; specifically, the former does not always entail the latter.

By setting forth on this blog posting the word "nigger" I am certainly writing it, but not necessarily "using" it to characterize or insult or demean anyone.  There are many, myself included, who truly consider the use of that particular word to be offensive; accordingly, in what may well be an overabundance of care and caution, terms such as "the word" or "that word" will be written in lieu of the aforescribed hexagrammaton for the remainder of this posting.

The jury has spoken.  Brandi Johnson has been awarded some punitive damages in her employment discrimination suit against her former employer, STRIVE East Harlem, and her former boss (and STRIVE founder) Rob Carmona.  Seems that Carmona, himself of the Black race, used (and not just said) the word in an excessively strident manner when asserting his position in the organizational hierarchy in his interactions with his former subordinate.  Carmona had claimed that the word has both derogatory and affectionate use in Black and Latino societies (English translation:  Black people are privileged to use that word, but white people are not).

The jury wasn't buying any of it.  Carmona and STRIVE were hit with punitive damages in addition to the compensatory damages.

My take on it all:

Firstly, neither Johnson nor Carmona are the cream of the crop.  It must be understood that STRIVE's intended target has never been the rightward reaches of the bell curve; to the contrary, STRIVE has used a "tough love" approach to get its clients to conform to the standards of the workplace and thereby obtain and maintain gainful employment.  Carmona himself managed to break free of the cycle, and, to his credit, now strives (pun absolutely intentional) to help others break free and become contributing and productive members of society.  Johnson, an employee of STRIVE (but apparently never a client) has a criminal record, which Judge Harold Baer found to be irrelevant to the case and therefore not for consumption by the jury panel.

Secondly, according to Johnson, "I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed."  Notwithstanding the tendencies of purported employment discrimination victims and other types of plaintiffs to overexaggerate their injuries, I basically credit Johnson's testimony at its full face value.  I myself have been the object of discriminatory bigotry, including but not limited to workplace venues, and can fully appreciate the damages such experiences can wreak.

Most notable, however, is that Johnson's attorney, Marjorie M. Sharpe, herself African-American, has publicly come out squarely and emphatically against the double standard which permits Black people to use that word while subjecting others who use it to loss of employment and steep jury verdicts.  Marjorie is squarely on target.  Too, too many in the African-American community have acquiesced in if not proactively championed the double standard, which, among other things, contributes in no small way to the violent culture of rap music.

And on a more personal level, I am far less likely to be convinced of the nefariousness of the word when those who insist that it is so ultraoffensive take license themselves to use it.

This case will likely set precedent, and not only in employment discrimination matters.

It is time for the Black community to take some affirmative action against their own double standard.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Yom Kippur 5774

It is still before noon, but my schedule for the day may well leave me little if any wiggle room to come back to the computer to make my usual posting before the sun sets and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us; so I shall take this opportunity before booting off to post it now.

The Jewish people are now being tested.  We all need to come together and, notwithstanding our diverse differences, show some unity as we face our enemies.  History has shown that G-d protects us when we behave honorably and valiantly.  G-d is watching us, and He wants us to do far better than we did this year past (you all know what I am referring to).

Historically, even the slightest little matters have tilted the balance to our favor.  In such regard, I have this morning written just one more little check to help the needy, even after having all but depleted our special tzedakah account for Rosh Hashanah.  I hope to also do some non-monetary good deeds before the sun sets tonight.

I forgive all who may approach me in earnest to forgive them for whatever affronts or injuries they may have inflicted or perpetuated upon me, and ask forgiveness of all those I may have wronged.

I beseech G-d to expiate my sins, and to inscribe all of us in the Book of Life for a good and prosperous and honorable year.

To all who will be fasting, have an easy fast!  And to all of the friends of the Jewish people who have backed us this past year, please accept my sincere gratitude.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Rosh HaShanah 5774

The sun will soon set, closing out the year 5773 on the Hebrew calendar, and ushering in the new year, 5774.

I am busily prepping for the holiday, and taking care of some loose ends before the old year closes.

This time, Rosh HaShanah is Thursday and Friday, and the next day is my religious Sabbath.  This makes three days where I will be incommunicado except in person, inasmuch as we do not turn lights on or off, or use the telephone or internet, et cetera.

Wishing all a happy and a healthy new year, L'Shana Tova Tikatevu, to you and yours from me and mine!