Freedom with an Asterisk

Those that were convicted of a sex offense in North Carolina and not serving a day in the walls of a prison suddenly became prisoners in their own homes. Instead of the infractions of too many stamps, unauthorized cigarettes, or yelling profanities at staff while incarcerated shifts to being set free but unable to live where you want, unable to secure employment, cannot attend church, and unable to access the internet under the consequence of bring imprisoned for just a hint of being accused.

When people leave prison, the first initial desires are to order a steak, or watch a movie, go on a trip, or finally reach out to family, friends, and other support mechanisms to share the joy of being released. However, registrants experience a much different circumstance. They are not permitted to access the internet, go to Disney or any theme park, make a call on SnapChat, share a joyful event on Facebook, or display a happy face on Instagram. Registrants are also under the threat of being rearrested and feloniously charged with going to a movie, mall, McDonald’s, the beach, or accessing the internet because of state laws and restrictions.

Perhaps those of the registry do not have any luxuries of support by family or friends. The most they can do with their new freedoms are to dream about going to a museum, going back to school, the discovery of workshop therapy to overcome anxiety or stress. Instead, those same registrants that dream of such activities are again prohibited from accessing any of those abilities under the threat of arrest and prison.

Politicians that tout justice reforms and lowering prison populations are the same people that created this fiasco of freedoms. For every two laws that are overturned, it is politicians and community leaders without facts, data, or supportive evidence that create fifteen new laws and provisions restricting more freedoms. Leaders lay claim about teamwork, inclusiveness, and equality for all; however, they use the word “but” to wedge a blanketed liability policy to protect themselves from the scrutiny of appearing weak.

Religious leaders that exclaim the love and joy of God with an all-forgiving sermon of “all are welcome” and “this congregation welcomes sinners” suddenly interjects an asterisk of exclusion of sex offenders. Ministers now have other gods before them by allowing the challenge of the state to dictate how they should seat their congregations. Insurance companies dictate to religious institutions policy provisions that clearly state sex offenders must be excluded because the property has Sunday school or daycare during services. The church is no longer autonomous but a follower of man, not God. Ironic, and institution that is supposed to teach about confronting fear is the very place that fails to address and face its fears and learn or embrace trust and forgiveness.

But I am pleased not to have Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, be a sucker of Disney memorabilia, attend church, listen to politicians, participate in overpriced movies, visit museums or be a part of the fake agenda laced internet. Perhaps I should thank lawmakers for allowing me to see the light on my own rather than the peddling of their darkness. Sure, I would like to have unlimited choices as others. But perhaps this lesson is that not only am I excluded from the adulterated scheme and fraud of religious, economic, and social freedoms. But I am a product that because of the registry, there is no such thing as freedom in America – only the illusion of such qualities with and convenience and hidden asterisk. It is all these collective institutions that promote freedom, all while excluding free choices based upon its intnerally laced liability scheme of fraud and misleading information.

I embrace these restrictions because I can now see the real mission of politics, leadership, and how influential products guide us towards their way of thinking rather than the free will and openness of genuine choice and liberty. Maybe I should begin some self-imposed disconnects to bring clarity around me? I lived without much of these luxuries before either they were invented or available. Perhaps dialing the clock back isn’t such a bad idea after all. Let me take away before “they” take it away, and I have to ween myself off of other pacifiers.

But I would like to have the freedom to walk in any park – which is still against the law in North Carolina. Choices can be a bitch sometimes.

Congress Does Not Forgive

Many tow the party line over redemption or values.

Regardless of your personal political compass watching the congressional appearance of Michael Cohen may present a valuable argument that when it comes to politics and justice there are many that tow the party line over redemption. This isn’t to suggest that Mr. Cohen is a saint or to shift the blame towards anyone else. Instead, the testimony appeared to become an issue to continually beat a person while he was down. Additionally, it provided a change of evidence opporunity towards the opposition. 

I couldn’t help be reminded of how those either found guilty by the courts or exiting the prison system are viewed by either lawmakers or the public eye.  I think we all collectively witnessed how a piece of new evidence or perspective could overturn or change an outcome typically used against the accused. For example, if an individual convicted of a sex crime had new evidence that could turn an issue, there will ultimately be others that habitually lay claim towards absolute guilt rather than trying to understand or apply new evidence. Perhaps people are stubborn enough to still think the earth is flat because they want to exercise methods to go against the grain to prove a political point.

There is plenty of data and evidence suggesting that prosecutors, defendants, investigators, and even juries have tainted viewpoints. These groups attempt to look beyond personal or political issue in discovery between truths or evidence because they have an agenda to tow a particular line. Credibility, while a formidable part of justice has its flawed issues too. But it is when distrusted or those convicted capable of providing facts, data, and a path towards redemption are consistently met with opposition to be silenced and unheard. It begs to question, when is credibility restored or allowed to reenter as a moving forward moment? If we wonder why society won’t become involved in remedy towards complex situations is perhaps because there are those in power to exclude others based on guilt or association. Proof that christians claim to be forgiving, but sometimes have another agenda at hand.

Witnessing the Cohen testimony I felt as if the whole process was a grandstanding moment for everyone involved. Similar to the behaviors of courtrooms across America where distraction, finger pointing, and perhaps the best tears win the sympathy of living room juries. I am afraid that justice as we once knew it has somewhat disappeared and replaced with theatrics, showmanship, outrageous theory, and a politizied pursuit of maintaining a win not for democracy but for a particular side. I would argue that the side we should choose is for the pursuit of honesty, understanding, and compassion so that society can move forward becoming moral and ethical people where mistakes, misdeeds, and forgiveness can be reintroduced in what was once considered a neighborly and virtuous society. 

One thing I did learn from the Cohen testimony is that justice is indeed a politicized moment than an integrity moment with each side representing its base instead of attempts to discover and understand the truth.

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