Saturday, September 08, 2007

Repetition of a Lie

What's wrong with this picture?

“Repetition does not transform a lie into the truth,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in an October 26, 1939 radio address.

Fellow blogger, the Eye on Albuquerque is still at it, banging the drum of fear along with the local talk radio crowd.

The Eye continues to put forth misinformation that is discredited on its face, e.g.: there is no way to determine the legal status of 86 percent of those wanted on outstanding murder warrants in Albuquerque.

“Seventy-five percent of people on the FBI's Most Wanted List are Illegal Aliens,” 770 KKOB News Radio’s Laura MacCallum said.

Let’s look at the numbers; there are ten individuals on the FBI’s list, you can’t have 75 percent being illegal or anything else for that matter, because you can’t have half a person.

Let’s look at whose on the list. There are four of the current ten listed who are not Americans according to the FBI’s web site:

Usama Bin Laden is a Saudi Arabian and Diego Leon Montoya Sanchez is a Colombian. There is no indication that either Bin Laden or Montoya resided in or committed a crime in the United States, but they did commit a crime(s) against the U.S. So they are not “Illegal Aliens.”

Jorge Alberto Lopez-Orozco is Mexican, while Alex Flores is Honduran. Neither Lopez-Orozco nor Flores’ immigration status is noted and no immigration charges are listed amongst their crimes.

Victor Manuel Gerena is an American of Puerto Rican descent. James J. Bulger is an American born in Boston, Mass. Emigdio Preciado Jr. is an American born in Calif. Glen Stewart Godwin is an American from Miami, Fla. Robert William Fisher is an American born in Brooklyn, N.Y. Rounding off the list as of this posting is Jon Savarino Schillaci who is an American born in Oklahoma.

The Eye can’t come to grips with this issue. Federal officers of the department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement screen all names of individuals booked into the jail. That’s their job. The primary function of street cops is to protect lives and property and maintain peace and good order. It’s that federalist concept that is embodied in the U.S. Constitution. It works pretty well.

However, the Eye and others who wish to beat up on local officials for having to do the federal government’s work, seem to be willing to believe anything that comes across the Internet as fact.

As the Smother Brothers routine went, Dick told Tom to think. On stage, Tom did, and found the experience new and unique, yet a strange feeling.

Stop! Think about what is being put forward. Question the details. Question the motivations of those telling you what’s going on. Yes, it’s OK to even question the hummingbird storyteller.

Roosevelt’s admonition of the “Big Lie Theory,” that the repetition of a lie will be perceived to be the truth, especially if repeated enough, as written in Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, was used and perfected by the Nazi's Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels.

Taking another page from Hitler’s playbook of blaming all problems on an identifiable group that is made to be an enemy, the city council has come up with another ongoing form of punishment. In ancient times, branding was considered an acceptable means of punishment. It was later discarded, but it’s back.

The Nazis called those with whom they disagreed “degenerates” and over time, they wrote laws that distinguished them from the Aryans. Ultimately, they made those who were legally classified as being in disfavor, to wear bright colorful symbols to identify them in public. Eventually and ultimately, the Germans exterminated over 6 million people. Hitler and his henchmen started with those that the community feared, criminals and the insane, then moved on to the disabled, weak and those they simply chose to hate; ultimately they eliminated other political parties and freed themselves in order to kill whomever they wished.

City Councillor Ken Sanchez, right, carried a couple of pieces of legislation for Mayor Martin Chávez, with the full support of Police Chief Ray Schultz, aimed at establishing an Anti-Gang Ordinance so any one convicted of the Anti-Gang Ordinance would have to register with the Albuquerque Police Department.

According to the ordinances, passed Wed. night, any convicted gangsters will have to submit: their legal name or aliases, date of birth, social security number, address, place of employment and “the name and telephone number of a contact person who knows his location at any and all times during employment hours or other times he performs work in the scope of his employment duties, His driver’s license number and the license plate number, vehicle identification number and description by make and model of all vehicles registered to him, owned by him, driven by him during employment or otherwise available to him with regularity by consent from another.”

The ordinances passed 7-0 with Council members Sanchez, Sally Mayer, Craig Loy, Isaac Benton, Martin Heinrich, Don Harris and Brad Winter voting for the measures, while Councillors Michael Cadigan and Debbie O'Malley were absent.

“I’m not sure if this is going to work,” O'Malley, left, said in an interview after a candidate forum held Thursday evening at the South Broadway community center, about how she might have voted if she had not left the council meeting early on Wednesday. “I guess I would have supported it. We’ll see if it works.”

The other candidates at the forum, all said that they did not support the anti gang initiatives.

“As we learned in Psychology – 101, behavior modification happens through positive reinforcement, not punitive action," Rey Garduño, left, one of three, council district 6 candidates, who appeared at the forum. Blair Kauffman, center, and Kevin Wilson, right, spoke against using the Internet to post pictures of gangsters. A fourth, District 6 Candidate Joanie Griffin sent a letter of regret for not attending. Her ex-husband died Wed.

District 4 Candidate Paulette de Pascal, left, also spoke against the measure citing her child advocacy role.

District 4's incumbent Councillor Brad Winter was not present.

District 2 Candidate Katherine Martinez, who is running against District 2 incumbent O'Malley and District 8 Candidate Trudy Jones, who is unopposed, were also not present.

So what's Wrong With This Picture?

There are numerous things wrong with these new laws. Unlike the sex offenders or driving while intoxicated registries where a particular crime will get a person on the list, gang activity is not a specific crime and one is not convicted of being a member of a criminal organization.

Though the ordinance lays out a definition of a criminal street gang and gang related crimes, they are not normally elements of the 27 listed “predicate gang crimes.” Instead, convictions are for other particular crimes, such as murder, drive by shootings, narcotics, and a long list of offenses that might have some connection to gangs, but not proven as part of their conviction. Trying to determine that such a crime is gang related is at best a subjective process. Some of the information rightfully belongs in a criminal information system and already does.

Making the information public is not necessarily a good idea on several levels.

Gangs work because of their intimidation factor. Sex offenders or DWI registries allegedly work, yet there is no quantifiable evidence that they do work, because those on the lists are ashamed by being exposed to political ridicule. Gangsters, like politicians, are not so inclined. They follow the axiom that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Making the list in the gangster community will just be another badge of honor, right along with the tattoos and tagging of their geographic territories.

In fighting gangs, one of the primary means of doing so is stripping them of any publicity upon which they may build their public persona.

Posting their mugs on the Internet plays into their own propaganda tactics.

When fighting gangs, it should be done forcefully, yet quietly, minimizing the association to a particular gang while maximizing the legal charges brought against offenders.

To that end we have obtained the first set of photos of the leaders of the biggest gang in town…

Council President District 2 Debbie O'Malley, Council Vice President District 5 Sally Mayer and Council District 1 Ken Sanchez.

Council District 3 Isaac Benton, Council District 4 Brad Winter and Council District 5 Michael Cadigan.

Council District 6 Martin Heinrich, Council District 8 Craig Loy and Council District 9 Don Harris.

Police Chief Ray Schultz and Mayor Martin Chávez.

Lets see, you might think this unfair, but they meet their own definition. When the council writes legislation that is later overturned by a court; that’s considered an illegal act. I guess there might be that problem of a lack of an underlying predicate felony conviction. Maybe you can see where this is going.

Being a gang might not necessarily be a bad thing; the reality is that police departments may also fit the definition of being a gang. Hopefully their collective use of force is always being put to the good. Maybe totalitarian governments aren’t all that bad. Then again maybe they are.


michelle meaders said...

Thanks for writing so sensibly about these issues. I know you come from Law Enforcement, so you have a lot of knowledge and experience with them.

I have a problem with another part of the gang registry ordinance. Apparently people can get taken off it if they attend workshops to get out of the gang (Section 7). Will they also have to tell on other gang members, like the prison programs I've heard of? Wouldn't that bring the wrath and violence of other gang members down on them?

By the way, if you enter the ordinance number into Google, the first entry is a link to the text of the bill: O-07-91

schmedlap said...

Legal definitioin of a gang:
three or more persons acting in concert under a common symbol/name and engaging in ILLEGAL acts. So no Mark, a police dept. can NOT be a gang as it lacks the whole third act - i.e. criminal enterprise.