Georgia Peaches


that if you use the word “thug”, you are in fact hurling a racial epithet.

Surprised? I sure was, when I first read about this in Saturday’s AJC article entitled: “What is a Thug?”.

All of this suddenly appears to have come up with the wide reactions to Michael Vick’s latest escapade… being forced to surrender his marijuana transportation container (aka Aquafina Water Bottle Diversion Safe) at the Miami Airport as he passed through TSA security checkpoint on his way to meet his new coach for the first time. Now he wasn’t arrested, because he apparently didn’t have his bottle full of contraband at the time, but certainly did not show very sound judgement for someone who is the “face of the franchise”.

Economic reality means that there’s no way that the Atlanta Falcons would ever cut or trade Vick… even if owner Arthur Blank isn’t happy with him. That’s the fact. But it must be some disappointment to know that your franchise’s star player is a pothead who can’t be trusted off the field. (But in fairness… at least he’s not as bad as his brother Marcus).

Anyway, many fans in Atlanta, very much disappointed in the continued regression in the performance of the Falcons on the field, found Vick’s latest move to be very stupid. And so the article informs… criticizing Vick by calling him a thug is practicing racism:

Considering that the Atlanta Falcons quarterback is not a hardened criminal or known to be a gang member, has the use of the word “thug” about him, and other young black men, started to sound like a racial epithet?

“I’ve been astonished at the blanket bigotry in some cases,” said Jamie Dukes, the 680 the Fan radio talk host and former Florida State offensive guard. “Thuggery denotes a criminal element.”

Now, I really like Jamie Dukes and he usually has some good insight about the game of football. I would have loved to have heard a lot more from him than just the sentance fragment that they quoted in the story… but let’s assume for the moment that he does find it offensive.

Vick’s hip-hop fashion sense, cornrows and jewelry drew as much condemnation in these arenas of public discourse as his string of unrelated personal problems. The incident last week at the Miami airport was the latest to draw attention, with an accusation that Vick tried to take marijuana through the Miami airport dismissed Tuesday. (Earlier this year Vick made an obscene gesture to game spectators and settled a lawsuit alleging he knowingly infected a woman with herpes.)

“It’s become a very racially sensitive discussion,” observes Steak Shapiro, host of 790 The Zone’s “Mayhem in the A.M.” radio talk radio program, with some callers basically saying, “If a white athlete screws up, he’s made a poor decision; if a black athlete screws up, he’s a thug.”

Now I don’t want to nitpick, but Vick was not charged with taking marijuana through the airport security checkpoint. They just noted that he acted suspicious when they took his water bottle and upon further investigation, noted that it had a secret compartment. This was further investigated, but no charges were filed… presumably because there was nothing (or too little) there in the concealed space.

And I can’t discount the fact that there are probably some idiots who might not feel that a black man should be quarterbacking a team in the NFL. But I don’t think that these are the people that are leading the discussion.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think there would have been the same reaction if he were white, black, yellow, or blue.

Towards the end of the story, they note that linguistics people are not quite so fast to confirm this trend, but then immediately refute it:

For the record, [Oxford English Dictionary Editor Jesse] Sheidlower has not noted “thug” used as a pejorative term by whites to describe young black men.

Johnson of the Hawks disagrees. “I do think it’s definitely a race-based stereotype. And I think it’s one that, in our culture today, too many people are willing to accept and tolerate, even when they know it’s wrong.”

Then again on Sunday, the ‘thug’ discussion was reinforced in an AJC opinon piece by Angela Tuck:

With his braids, casual style of dress and “doo-rags,” Vick rubs some people the wrong way.

But, explains Wyche, that’s more a generational thing than a race thing.

In no way has Vick earned the “thug” label some bloggers have given him. It bothers me that people are so quick to brand someone they don’t even know. Even more troubling is the fact that “thug” now seems to be a code word for young black men.

“Most people don’t know the definition of a thug,” said Frank Walker, a cornerback for the New York Giants who lives in Atlanta in the off-season. “Thugs rape and murder people. When they run up against a thug, they’ll know [Vick] is not a thug. He’s an individual.”

From flipping off home fans to engaging in self-destructive behavior, Mike Vick is not acting very smart. Whether it’s fair to call him a ‘thug’, or simply a ‘fool’… I guess you can debate the point. But I really don’t think it’s just because he is black. Or a quarterback.

Randall Cunningham is not a thug. He may run his mouth sometimes when he should keep quiet, but so does Rex Grossman, who can barely pass the ball and is white. White NASCAR driver Tony Stewart was acting like a thug two years ago, when he decided to punch out any reporter asking him difficult questions. But he was forced to get his temper under control or risk losing a chance to participate in his profession. And he went on to win the championship.

Ironically, with all of this talk of unfair thuggery labels, there was also an interesting story elsewhere in the AJC this Sunday. It was about Quincy Carter, the former UGA standout who went on to the NFL to start for the Dallas Cowboys. You may remember him. He was another black quarterback drafted at the same time as Vick. Now he’s out of football after a couple run-ins with drugs (failed drug tests and an arrest).

Asked if he is an addict, Carter struggles with the term before slowly finding the words:

“That’s a hard one to answer. I don’t need to smoke weed. I don’t have to. I shouldn’t. I do realize that it’s not good. … You know, I’ll go ahead and humble myself and say that I do think it’s a problem. I am smart enough to know that failing a test, getting arrested — I do have a problem. I just don’t like the word addict.”

People have to have responsibility for their actions. I hope that Quincy gets his life together, now that the glare of the lights of the football field are in the past for him. He doesn’t seem quite there yet. But when we are disappointed in the behavior of our sports starts, let’s never sugarcoat the bad and ignore it, because then it’s never corrected, much to the detriment of athlete as a man.

And let’s stop insinuating that criticism of Vick, or the use of the word ‘thug’, is meant to be racist.

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GA Senator Johnny Isakson has again introduced a bill for consideration in the US Senate which would tie border enforcement as the top priority before considering other changes to immigration law. Isakson was part of the earlier efforts to do this in the last Congress, but as we know, we ended up with border security authorization (as as with the construction of the border wall), but without any real confirmed guarantee of funding for the project.

I’m sure that both funding for existing initiatives as well as this new measure will face a tough road in the Democrat-controlled Congress, especially since the existing nearly toothless measure barely came out of the Republican-controlled Congress, but I think it is a good attempt to frame the problem as a multi-dimensional one.

As the AJC reported from Isakson speech on the Senate floor:

The hope and opportunity of reforming legal immigration in this country can become a reality.

And I am not an obstructionist to doing it. In fact if anything needs to be done, it’s that we need to reform the legal system because we almost promote, through the rigidity and difficulty of legal immigration, coming here illegally because we’re looking the other way on the border.

And we have a historical precedent. In 1986, we reformed immigration with the Simpson Act. We granted three million people amnesty, said we were going to secure the border and didn’t. Today we have 12 million because we did not secure that border.

That can never happen again.

Providing ad hoc amnesty will not nothing more than to encourage more people to continue to violate the laws unless we are prepared to really draw the line. And contrary to the biased opposition, measures like that proposed by Senator Isakson are not an attempt to “keep foreigners out of America”. There’s no question that reforming the process of legal immigration is not also essential. As long as that does not just substitute as a code-word for amnesty alone and continued non-enforcement of the borders.

There’s more at Sen. Isakson’s website as well, including this summary:

“There is no way you can reform legal immigration unless you first stop the porous borders and the flow of illegal immigrants,” Isakson said on the Senate floor. “I come to the floor of the Senate today to introduce a major immigration reform bill that I think is the bridge from where we are to where we must go. I stand ready to work with any senator on comprehensive immigration reform as long as securing the borders is the foundation of that reform.”

Isakson’s legislation would prohibit implementation of its guest worker program until the Department of Homeland Security certifies to the President and to the Congress that the border security provisions in the immigration legislation are fully funded and operational.

Those border security provisions that must be in place before a guest worker program can begin are spelled out in Isakson’s bill and they include five main items:

* Manpower – authorizing 14,000 new full-time Border Patrol Agents as well as 2,500 new Port of Entry Inspectors and 250 new Deputy U.S. Marshals.
* Detention beds – authorizing detention facilities with an additional 20,000 detention beds to end the practice of “catch and release.”
* Barriers – authorize additional barriers such as fences, roads or underground sensors where appropriate.
* Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — authorize more than $450 million to acquire and maintain a squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles with high-tech sensors and satellite communication to allow coverage on the border by an unmanned vehicle 24 hours a day.
* Biometric ID – establish a biometric secure identification card program so employers can verify an immigrants’ status.

“The reason we have this problem is we have the greatest nation on the face of this Earth. You don’t find anybody trying to break out of the United States of America. They’re all trying to break in,” Isakson said. “And they are for a very special reason: the promise of hope and opportunity and jobs. But we must make the only way to come to America be the legal way to come to America.”

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Something I missed mentioning last week, but despite recent news that Indiana’s Voter ID laws withstood the latest legal challenge, the outlook is not as good for the Georgia version. Thursday the AJC reported that new Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle believes that a proposal to amend the Georgia State Consitution to clear any objections to Voter ID rules will not even come to a vote in the Georgia State Senate.

Senate Resolution 4, sponsored by Sen. Cecil Staton (R-Macon), was assigned to a Senate committee Thursday. If approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate and House, and then by Georgia voters in a statewide referendum, SR 4 would allow the General Assembly to enact regulations over voting, including a future photo ID requirement.

Past attempts by the Legislature to enact photo ID at the polls have been struck down by state and federal courts. A Fulton superior court judge last year ruled that the Legislature lacked the authority in the state Constitution to pass laws restricting the right to vote to only those who hold picture ID.

On Thursday, Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) predicted that another bitter, divisive fight over photo ID in the General Assembly would harm the newly-inaugurated lieutenant governor’s efforts at bi-partisanship.

In a question-and-answer session in his office today with reporters, Cagle said he supports the voter ID requirement, but he said he doesn’t believe SR 4 can gain the required two-thirds majority in the Senate.

“If you don’t have the votes, it’s not worth the fight,” said Cagle, who has appointed three Democrats to chair Senate committees. “I’m not pushing it. I’m not interested in bringing bills to the floor … if there’s no possibility of it passing.”

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The AJC is reporting that Alvin Lorenzo Murdock of Norcross, GA was indicted on bigamy charges. As I detailed back in October, Murdock was one of three people arrested in Gwinnett County for multiple marriages to illegal immigrants, including multiple marriages at the same County Courthouse. The cases did prompt Gwinnett County to at least search its own database for matches when someone applies for a marriage license, although fraud is still possible because there is no system today that coordinates between counties in Georgia, let alone with those in other states.

Murdock, 38, married five other women after marrying his first wife. All the alleged illegal marriages occurred in a 5 month span in late 2005 and early 2006, according to the indictments.

In a separate indictment, Murdock was also charged in connection with the stabbing of his daughter.

In that case Murdock is accused of stabbing his daughter and another male while two young children watched. He was arrested on that case in July.

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I’m really surprised, but it appears that Buford, GA’s own Darius Walker is skipping his senior season at Notre Dame and decalring for the NFL draft.

The AJC predicts he might go in the bottom of the third round or the fourth round.

A surprise.

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It took Newsbusters to highlight that a Federal Appeals Court actually *upheld* Indiana’s voter ID law. Of course, I had to read about it there, because there has been almost no coverage elsewhere in the media outside of Indiana.

Georgia’s long-standing struggle over enforcement of enhanced Voter ID rules received significantly more play in the press… and it seems that the last step we were left with was possibly needing to go as far as to amend the state constitution in order to address some of the objections.

It would be interesting to understand how the Indiana law was crafted differently that made it “not too burdensome”. We know that providing state ID’s at no cost and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on education programs was not enough. I’m sure that there are some very interested lawmakers in Atlanta right now.

UPDATE: This is exactly the same scenario that I can see with various communities trying to create ordinances regarding illegal immigrants. Whether it’s Cherokee County, GA or Hazleton, PA or Valley Park, MO, or Escondido, CA, or somewhere new… eventually one of these communities will bear the financial and time burden of navigating the myriad of lawsuits. And when one of these ordinances is eventually judged as sound law, then it will have a cascading effect as it is copied by communities across the country.

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Back in September, I wrote about the case of Nohe Gomez Hernandez (aka Nohe Gomes Hernandez), an illegal immigrant from Mexico who stole the identity of a US citizen, Jason Smith, for use when filling out his I-9 employement verification. Not only did Mr. Hernandez submit the false name and social security number, he even had the guts to have the name “Jason” on his work uniform. The real Mr. Smith found out his identity had been purloined when the IRS indicated that he had additional unreported income (that earned by Mr. Hernandez at the Harrison Poultry plant) which he had not claimed on his tax return.

After the plot unraveled, Mr. Hernandez was charged with identity theft. His lawyers argued that this was not the case, because he did not use the information in a very narrow way to make fradulent purchases using Mr. Smith’s credit.

However, the Georgia Supreme Court disagreed, saying in a unanimous decision that it is indeed proper to charge him with identity theft, and leaving the two-year prison sentance in tact.

In a unanimous decision released Monday, the justices said Georgia’s identity theft law is not unconstitutionally vague, nor is it pre-empted by federal law.

The high court found that Nohe Gomes Hernandez “misappropriated the Social Security number of Jason Smith,” and that he “then used this misappropriated number to obtain a Social Security card and a California driver’s license in Smith’s name” so he could get a job at a northeast Georgia poultry plant.

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How many times have you ever filled out one of those slips to enter a contest somewhere, and ever actually read all of the fine print that’s attached? I’m sure that most people don’t bother. As a rule, I avoid those contests like the plague, because I assume that I have a lot better chance of having my long distance service changed or a flood of sales calls during dinner than I would ever have of winning one of their ‘wonderful’ prizes.

But buried somewhere in that fine print are usually some eligibility rules. You have to be over 21 to win that Budweiser beer mug. You. Whatever. And so it was with a contest that Toys-R-Us ran to reward the first baby of the New Year. But the winner of the contest was upset for being disqualified because she didn’t meet the eligibility requirement of being a legal US resident!:

Toys “R” Us Inc. is facing some heat after the company denied a Chinese-American infant a $25,000 savings bond prize in a contest for the New Year’s first baby because the girl’s mother is not a legal U.S. resident.

Yuki Lin was born at the stroke of midnight at New York Downtown Hospital, according to hospital officials. She won a random drawing held to break a tie with two other babies entered in the contest, Toys “R” Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh said.

The Wayne, N.J.-based company had said the prize would go to the first American baby born in 2007.

Although promotional materials called for “all expectant New Year’s mothers” to apply for the contest, Waugh said eligibility rules required babies’ mothers to be legal residents. Many sweepstakes have such requirements, Waugh said.

The prize went instead to runner-up Jayden Swain, born 19 seconds after midnight at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, Ga.

The company’s decision — which came less than a month after it opened its first mainland China store, in Shanghai — has infuriated some Chinese-American advocates, who say the decision smacks of second-class citizenship.

“People are just pretty much outraged,” said John Wang, president of the New York-based Asian American Business Development Center.

Second-hand citizenship? Not exactly… being an illegal immigrant is not “citizenship” at all!

None of the initial reports indicated that there was any mistakes in determining the immigration status of Yuki Lin’s mother.

Ultimately Toys R Us reversed their initial decison and gave identical prizes to three children including Yuki… just to quiet the flap. And they are a retail chain who sponsored the contest in order to get some good publicity. It’s their decision entirely if it’s worth it to them to spend an additional $50,000 in order to make bad publicity disappear.

But it’s indicative of society today that we even end up in this situation.
(1) Toys R Us may have given in and decided not to enforce one of their contest rules… but it’s pretty amazing that many feel that if someone breaks one of the rules or doesn’t meet one of the stated criterion, that the first action is to moan and complain instead of taking personal responsibility.
(2) The fact that the person who didn’t read rules was Chinese, somehow meant that Toys R Us was inherently ‘racist’ in enforcing their rules. They didn’t disqualify the winner because of her ethnicity, but because of her immigration status.
(3) Illegal immigrants are not ’second-class citizens’, they are not citizens at all. And because they have chosen to break the law in this way, they also lose the protections that legal residents are entitled to. This is the one point that advocates continue to make blurry. They are forced into an underclass without workplace protections and other legal considerations because they first broke the law and are unable to truely integrate properly into society.

I hope that the prize was worth it!

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It’s official… Cherokee County, Georgia has lost its backbone and “has agreed to temporarily block a new ordinance that bans landlords from renting to illegal immigrants, after activists launched a legal attack against it“.

The other day there was word that they might not start to enforce the ordinances, set to take effect on January 1, because it seems that the impending lawsuits did the trick for opponents of the measures, making the County too afraid to actually enforce them.

UPDATE: The first legal challenge was reportedly filed by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Interesting, since apparently no one has actually been questioned yet under the ordinance.

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Last month, almost immediately after the gavel fell closing the meeting where new regulations were placed requiring landlords not to rent to illegal immigrants, the county was threatened with costly lawsuits. Of course, their actions were also accused of being ‘immigrant bashing’ and anti-Christian by pro-illegal groups.

But it seems that the costs of legal challenges (whether they are sound or not) may be causing the county to reconsider their actions. According to the Associated Press, they are delaying enforcement of the new ordinances while they consider things further.

The ordinance, which county commissioners unanimously approved last month, was scheduled to take effect today.

But county workers are not trained to enforce it. And the possibility of having to spend money to defend it from legal challenges has also prompted second thoughts.

Officials in Escondido, California, recently abandoned a similar law after agreeing to pay 90-thousand dollars to lawyers representing civil rights groups who sued the city.

Cherokee County Commissioner Jim Hubbard says that development means their ordinance may need another discussion.

The Cherokee County ordinance would require landlords to collect information about renters’ immigration status. Landlords would have to provide that information to the county on demand.

Hubbard says he supported the ordinance after an acting county attorney told commissioners the legal fees probably would NOT be high, and that the ordinance seemed on solid legal ground.

But now Hubbard says Cherokee County should consider delaying enforcement of the landlord ordinance until a judge rules on a legal challenge to a similar law in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.

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