Posts tagged with Vigilante

Is the NBA Above the Law?

The NBA's handling of the Donald Sterling controversy has a definite odor to it and it's not from sweaty socks. In April, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver decided that the NBA was above the law and thus didn't have to obey laws that interfered in the NBA's decisions. In its haste to get rid of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling the NBA violated a California law that prohibits use of statements made in secret private recordings as a basis of punishment for an individual.

On April 25, TMZ released a secretly made illegal recordimng of an argument between Sterling and his girl friend V. Stiviano about her male companions. A controversy developed when some claimed Sterling's comments were racist. Four days later after what was likely only a cursory investigation, Silver imposed a fine, banned Sterling from NBA events and ordered the sale of the team.

California law explicitly bans recording a person's voice without his knowledge. The law further states that such secret recordings cannot be used against a person in a court of law. If government cannot use such evidence to take a person's property, how can a private business do so? Is the NBA more powerful than the State of California? Is the NBA above the law?

Our system of justice is based on the philosophy that it is more important for government to obey the law than to punish lawbreakers. If a police officer fails to advise someone he arrests of the suspect's constitutional rights and the individual confesses to murder, the confession must be thrown out because the law requires that those who are arrested be advised of their rights.

It Sterling had confessed to murder in a secret recording, the state would not have been able to use the recording to convict him. So where does the NBA get the authority to punish him for saying something unpopular during a lovers' quarrel? When people quarrel with people they are emotionally involved with they often say things they don't mean and wouldn't normally say. For example, a little girl arguing with her mother might say "I hate you" under the effect of the emotions involved in an argument.

The fine and lifetime ban imposed on Sterling by NBA commissioner Adam Silver are illegal and should be rescinded. The order to sell the team is also illegal, but the incident created such a negative public attitude to the Sterlings association with the team that Shelley Sterling had no real choice but to sell.

The negative attitude means the new owner should seriously consider moving the team and changing its name. When people develop a negative attitude to an individual or organization the negative attitude may remain long after they have forgotten why they developed the negative attitude. Many people will remember the controversial statements as coming from the "owner of the Clippers" rather than someone named Donald Sterling. These individuals may ignore the change in ownership and think the new owner made the statements.

Some have suggested that Sterling has a "plantation owner's attitude" to the team. I suspect many sports franchise owners have some degree of this attitude and it has nothing to do with the color of the athletes on the team. For example the decision by National Football League owners to ignore a concussion problem among NFL players might indicate a "plantation owner's attitude".

Adam Silver's seems to have a "Godfather's" attitude toward those in his organization. He feels he can ignore the law when dealing with those in his organization. Our system of laws is of little value if private organizations can ignore the laws of evidence and impose whatever punishments they want to impose. The word "vigilante" is used to describe those who convict individuals and impose penalties outside the law,


Obama Wants Vigilante Type Attack on Syria

The important question in Syria isn't whether Syria used chemical weapons on its own people or should be punished for doing so. The important question is whether the established legal procedures should be used or whether the United States will ignore the law and launch a "lynch mob" style vigilante attack on Syria.

America's Imperial President Barack Obama has decided he is the Imperial Wizard of Earth and like other Imperial Wizards believes he can decide what punishment to apply for various infractions. Like other Imperial Wizards, he doesn't believe he needs to seek the approval of the established legal authorities for his actions.

American leaders have long touted the idea of the rule of law in dealing with questionable activities. Law enforcement officials are supposed to act within an established legal framework that regulates how they deal with suspected lawbreakers. For example, they have to present evidence of illegal activity to a judge if they want to search a suspects residence. The courts, rather than law enforcement officers determine what punishment, if any, should be imposed.

Vigilantes don't bother with using the legal system. If they believe someone has done something wrong they just impose whatever punishment they want.' A unilateral attack by the United States against Syria would be a vigilante attack unless it is preapproved by an appropriate international body such as the United Nations or the World Court.

Congressional approval of Obama's vigilante attack would tell the world that the United States is a hypocritical nation. Congress would be saying that the rule of law is good enough for the United States but not the smaller nations of the world. Congress would be saying that the smaller nations have to accept whatever treatment the Imperial United States wants to give them.


“Dodge City” Florida

Those of us who like old tv westerns have watched the scene uncounted times. A gunfighter goads someone into drawing against him and gets away with the subsequent killing by claiming "self defense" because the other guy "drew first".

George Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin sounds very similar except for the fact that Martin jumped Zimmerman instead of drawing on him.

Zimmerman has admitted that he essentially was stalking Martin before Martin apparently attempted to hide from Zimmerman. When Zimmerman got out of his vehicle Martin may have felt Zimmerman was going to attack him and decided to act first.

Martin reminds me of the "young cowboy named Billy Joe" that Johnny Cash sang about. Billy Joe was convinced that it would be safe for him to take his guns to town because he could "shoot as quick and straight as anybody". We can't be sure of what Martin was thinking but he apparently thought he could take on anybody even though he didn't have a weapon and had no way of knowing if his stalker was armed.

I don't know if Zimmerman has watched many cop/private detective shows, but if he has he has watched the wrong shows or didn't pay attention. If I had been watching this scenario on tv knowing that Zimmerman was armed and Martin was not, I would have anticipated what happened. Movie and tv characters being followed at least since the days of Humphrey Bogart have been known to step into the shadows to catch stalkers.

If Martin had been a armed criminal instead of an teenager just interested in getting something to eat and drink, Zimmerman would likely have died from a stab wound or bullet. If Martin had been armed he could have used the Stand Your Ground law to justify killing the man who was stalking him.

The media have focused on Martin's skin color because most of those in the media are obsessed with the issue of skin color. However, Martin's age may have been more important in causing Zimmerman to consider him suspicious. Male teenagers commit a disproportionate number of crimes.

There's one critical difference between what happened in Florida and the gunfights in Matt Dillon's Dodge City. In Dodge City a man who shot an unarmed man would be taken to jail by Marshall Dillon or given a permanent home on Boot Hill. On tv westerns ending a fist fight with a gun was considered murder regardless of who started the fight.

George Zimmerman may not have wanted to push Trayvon Martin into a fight, but he did. Zimmerman's reckless behavior resulted in the death of Martin. If Florida's law allows a man to cause a fight with an unarmed man so he can get away with killing, there is something wrong with the law. If Florida fails to prosecute Zimmerman it will be a signal to bullies that they can get away with murder if they can push their victims into throwing the first punch.

Florida's "Stand your ground" law might be a good thing if it applies to those are trying to defend against a threat from someone else. However, if the law protects those who initiate dangerous situations it may legalize murder.

On the old westerns, when the law was too slow to deal with someone people had decided was guilty, some of them might decide to take the law into their own hands. Some groups are already reportedly threatening some form of vigilante action if Zimmerman isn't prosecuted. In another case, police might be able to wait to see if they could find evidence that would make prosecution easier. They may not have that option in this case. If authorities delay getting the case into the courts too long, they may end up having to prosecute someone else for killing Zimmerman.