Daily Archives: June 11, 2007

Genarlow Wilson Ordered Freed

Back in January, I wrote a post called “Southern Justice: Travesty Squared in Georgia” about a black teenager named Genarlow Wilson who was given an incredibly harsh sentence for a technical infraction of the law because a prosecutor got pissy when Wilson wouldn’t accept a plea bargain arrangement and forced him to go to trial. Voices were raised in Genarlow’s defense, including ESPN’s (Wilson was a well-known high school athlete). One commenter wrote:

It’s disgusting. I can not see any way, shape or form that the interests of the state of Georgia are served by throwing away Genarlow’s youth and opportunity to become a vibrant contributor to the state. All his situation does is reinforce some unfortunate stereotypes that the state is backward and misgoverned. No one with a conscience can look at this case and conclude that justice has been served.

Well, today a judge ordered Genarlow Wilson be freed.

A judge today ordered that Genarlow Wilson be freed from prison, where he has spent more than two years for receiving consensual oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson also amended Wilson’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor without the requirement that he register as a sex offender.

Wilson’s lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, appealed to a judge Wednesday to free him from prison, arguing that his 10-year prison sentence and inclusion on the state’s sex offender registry is grossly disproportionate and violates the Constitution.

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Bush in Albania

Moved by the crowds of admirers, no doubt (the NYT says he “was treated like a rock star”), Bush got so confused he sounded like one – a drug-addled, not too bright rock star. Keith Richards, say.

The future of Kosovo is of paramount interest here; some Kosovo residents traveled to Tirana to join the crowd. The United Nations Security Council is considering a plan for independence, but Russia objects. On Saturday in Rome, the president agreed that there should be a deadline to end the United Nations talks, saying: “In terms of a deadline, there needs to be one. It needs to happen.”

But on Sunday, Mr. Bush tried to backtrack when asked when that deadline might be. “First of all, I don’t think I called for a deadline,” Mr. Bush said, during a press appearance with Mr. Berisha in the courtyard of a government ministry building. He was reminded that he had.

“I did?” he asked, sounding surprised. “What exactly did I say? I said deadline? O.K., yes, then I meant what I said.”

Uh, how can you mean what you say when you don’t even remember what it was?

The reporters laughed.

Yeah. Funny.

Our press. You like ’em, you keep ’em.

County Poet Rejected for Writing Anti-War Poems

From the Boston Globe:

MAXWELL CORYDON Wheat Jr. was on his way to becoming the first poet laureate of New York’s Nassau County when county legislators realized he wrote not just about marshes and natural beauty, but also about war. The first verse of his poem “Iraq” reads:

“Males and one woman
sip coffee mornings in the White House,
talk of desires about Iraq.
For ten years
Less-than-Elected-Vice-President Cheney
evolves The Plan,
the Empire of the United States of America.”

The hearing on Wheat’s appointment erupted into an argument about supporting the troops. Nuance was lost. Tossing out this unruly poet, the unanimous choice of the nominating panel, came to seem like an act of valor.

Voted down by county legislators 6 to 1, Wheat nonetheless stands in the proud tradition of poets who write about war, an unflinching group who dip their pens into the worst of battle.

***

[C]ommunities in search of laureates should stop fooling themselves: Poets are largely not to be trusted with the work of comforting the comfortable.

Perhaps what some towns want instead is a publicist laureate or a cheerleader-in-chief, someone who puts out good news that rhymes or lights up a metaphor.

Poets won’t do for that job. Because poets, like Langston Hughes, won’t just let rivers be rivers; they freight them with sorrow and hope. Poets may hunt beauty, speculating as Walt Whitman does that maybe grass “is the handkerchief of the Lord,” or writing as Mary Oliver does that lilies are “like pale poles / with their wrapped beaks of lace,” but they almost never stop there. Poets also turn readers’ eyes to the rest of life, to jealousy, frustration, fear, loneliness, despair, and death.

It’s their job.

A Hero’s Welcome

According to the BBC, the Emperor “received a hero’s welcome in Albania”.

Albania.

Reminds me of a story.

Once upon a time a man came to a NY nightclub for dinner and a show. He was arrogant, pompous, loud, and abusive. He threw his meal on the floor because he claimed it was undercooked, he yelled at the waiters and called them names, he spit out his wine, and he told the people at the next table they were low-class morons.

The manager, in an apparent attempt to mollify the man, sent a bottle of his best champagne to the table. When the man continued to be disruptive, the manager sent a maitre d’ over with a cheesecake – which the club was famous for – on the house. Still the man wouldn’t stop being offensive to everyone around him. Finally, the manager took off his own Rolex and sent it over to the man.

A waiter asked, “How can you give such an obnoxious jerk all those expensive gifts?”

The manager answered, “Well, he must be somebody’s father and I’m so glad he’s not mine, he can have anything I’ve got.”