A Tale Of Two Manslaughters


On the same day last week Tulsa showed us the day. A day when one man was convicted of first degree manslaughter and another walked out of prison after serving less than half of his 2nd degree manslaughter sentence.

Both men were convicted of killing unarmed black men and both with law enforcement backgrounds. A former Tulsa Policeman, Shannon Kepler, was convicted after his forth trial, and Robert Bates, a former Tulsa County Reserve Sheriff Deputy showed where Tulsa is at in terms of policemen who kill black men.

On one level there are two convictions and it could be argued there may have been a time when the two shootings might have never gone to trial. The Thin Blue Line, as practiced by law enforcement, served as an invisible veil of steely protection from evil by a unified force of policemen pledged to protect civilized society. But, that same Blue Line did not allow for one of their own to suffer from prosecution in doing their job no matter how they did it. More and more pressure has come to bear to make sure those sworn to protect society were also subject to the same laws. That includes murder. In this case, we have two white law enforcers convicted of shooting unarmed black men. Progress? One could say yes, one could also say we are not at equal justice yet.

Bates only served 37 percent of his sentence. One might wonder if a black deputy convicted of shooting a white citizen would receive similar consideration. Kepler, it could be argued, should have been convicted of first degree murder. The word from a juror is that there was no appetite for convicting a white policeman of murdering a young black man dating his daughter. First degree manslaughter was easier to digest. That is where we’re at and while some measure of justice has been meted out, it’s clear Tulsa has a way to go before claiming progress in justice for all.


OKC School Board Removes Confederate Leaders Names


Voting unanimously, the Oklahoma City School Board voted to remove the names of Confederate leaders with little opposition. Voting 7-0 the names of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Isaac Stand Watie elementary schools will no longer bear their names. They are pretty courageous down in the City.

The Civil War has left a scar on America, and its continuing effect on race relations is undeniable. As symbols they are reminders of a painful and dark time in this nation when an entire race of people was enslaved. The military leaders who fought to continue the evil practice of human enslavement should not be celebrated and certainly not at a school. But, in the spirit of education and tolerance, the school reached out to the community to get feedback before voting. That is a lot more than those stolen from Africa received in the way of consideration.

Changing the names of schools will not heal the wounds of the civil war, but, it’s one more step toward putting the war behind us and not in front of us.


White Nationalist Sue Ohio State Over Refusal To Let Them Speak


After Ohio State University (OSU) refused to rent space to  Georgia State University graduate student Cameron Padgett, who is an organizer of campus tours for Richard Spencer, Padgett sued OSU. According to OSU’s attorney who said in a letter that while the school “values freedom of speech” Padgett’s request to rent space for Spencer represented a “substantial risk to public safety.”

Richard Spencer loves chaos and anger from everyone. He wants angry followers of his hateful message, he wants angry protesters of his hateful message, he wants the police angry and stressed, and he wants the media to be angry and self-righteous. So, when OSU refused to rent space to them for his white nationalist message they were so angry they sued the education institution. All that works for them.

OSU was certainly right to be concerned, because the last few times Spencer’s supporters got together, a woman was murdered with a car by one of his followers, and a group of his followers fired a weapon at protesters. The additional security needed at the Florida speech cost an additional $600,000. But, free speech is not cheap. It was paid for by brave men and women who believe our freedoms is worth dying for.

You don’t want to hear another man speak? Any reason will do. But the restriction of speech is too high a price to pay. The same law that tells them to “shut up” can be used to tell everyone asking for peace and tolerance to shut up. This country now more than ever needs more free speech, not less.