Category Archives: Perspectives

History, belief systems and more

The Good Fight

The Good Fight

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ governor says he will commute the sentence of a woman convicted more than three decades ago of fatally shooting her husband, who had physically abused her. Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday announced his intent to make Willie Mae Harris immediately eligible for parole. Harris was convicted in 1985 of first-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband. Harris admitted to shooting her husband, but has said it was an accident related to self-defense.

Harris is legally blind, and the state Parole Board has recommended she receive clemency several times over the years. Charged with first-degree murder of her husband and offered a plea deal – 20 years – out in 13 for good behavior, Willie refused to admit to a crime she did not commit – a position she maintains today even after serving 34 years behind bars.

Mike Masterson, an award-winning journalist and friend has been a vocal activist for the release of Willie Mae Harris and his efforts have finally been rewarded. Portions of a recent Masterson column follow:

Undrea “Gem” Jones, a Dance To Be Free program instructor and returning citizen from the women’s McPherson/Hawkins incarceration units, recently wrote on social media that inmate Willie Mae Harris deserves clemency.

Here’s Jones’ poignant message: “I know the beautiful woman personally and I watched her go blind, heard her cries for help from medical officials when she still had sight in both her eyes. This went on for at least 12 years.

“Then it was myself and other inmates who took care of her necessities such as feeding her and guiding her to the bathroom and shower. It was a constant struggle with the Department of Corrections to get her anything to assist her. Yet this woman never lost her hope and she kept pressing on.

“What justice will be gained by letting Miss Willie Harris die in prison?”

The personable Jones asks a valid question. I’ve raised a voice on Miss Willie’s behalf, for one reason: It is clearly the merciful, decent and compassionate thing to do for a 72-year-old grandmother whose conviction (much like that of former inmate Belynda Goff of Green Forest) was riddled with inadequacies and uncalled witnesses. Plus, she has served more than enough time while suffering terrible personal agony behind bars.

This gentle lady insists, even all these years later, that she sincerely loved her late husband despite the enormous abuses he continually inflicted on her, and never intended to kill him during a heated argument in bed at their home in Bradley in 1985.

I can’t imagine life behind bars for years, losing sight, then having to rely on the compassion of other inmates simply to work through every day. I also can’t believe a man with the demonstrated integrity and empathy of our governor would continue to insist she remain in such a place until she dies.

While on the subject, I also wanted to share a copy of a letter to our governor dated Jan. 29. It was written on Willie’s behalf by financier John Logan of Blytheville. His sentiments likely express those of many Arkansas citizens.

“I read the article by Mike Masterson and was compelled to write you. I am appealing to you to grant her mercy and grant her clemency. She is one of the ones that’s fallen through the cracks of our system and needs help.

“The Parole Board has recommended five times that she be released from prison, and five times she was denied by Governor Huckabee and Governor Beebe. After hearing everything about her and the good she has done for others in prison, I feel that it is our duty to help this poor woman.

“Shakespeare wrote:

The quality of mercy is not strain’d

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

“Please have mercy on Willie Mae Harris and grant her clemency. You will be blessed and the people of Arkansas will be too.”

Well said, John Logan, and thanks for reminding us that the Bard realized the divine nature of mercy.

This particular quote was enough to send me on a bit of research to see what other thoughtful folks over time have had to say about the nature of mercy. Here’s a bit of what I discovered that applies to all our lives together.

Abraham Lincoln, during a conversation with former colleague Joseph Gillespie in 1864, is reported to have said: “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

This is not the only cause that Mike has taken on that has yielded positive results. Kudos go out to him, keep on fighting the good fight.

————v————

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master’s journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 02/11/2020

Entitlements & the four Freedoms

Entitlements & the four Freedoms

The following are a few excerpts from FDRs address to the 77th members of Congress. The entire address is well worth the read and I encourage you to view it. You can easily access it via a google search:

“A free nation has the right to expect full cooperation from all groups. A free nation has the right to look to the leaders of business, of labor, and of agriculture to take the lead in stimulating effort, not among other groups but within their own groups.

The best way of dealing with the few slackers of trouble makers in our midst is, first, to shame them by patriotic example, and, if that fails, to use the sovereignty of Government to save Government.

Certainly, this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.

For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
– Jobs for those who can work.
– Security for those who need it.
– The ending of special privilege for the few.
– The preservation of civil liberties for all.
– The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.

As examples:

We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.
We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.
We should plan a better system by which persons deserving of needing gainful employment may obtain it.

I have called for personal sacrifice. I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call……………………………………….

 ………………………The Four Freedoms:
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
    * The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world.
    * The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world.
    * The third is freedom from want – which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a     healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world.
    * The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception – the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change – in a perpetual peaceful revolution – a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions – without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.”

Source: The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940: War and Aid to Democracies.

Psychopathic Traits

Psychopathic Traits

Most of us will display one or more psychopathic traits. This does not mean that we are psychopaths. However, when a person displays half or more then there is a decent chance that the individual is extremely dangerous.

The twenty traits on the Hare Psychopathy checklist are:

  1. pathological lying     *                                        11. glib and superficial charm *
  2. grandiose sense of self    *                               12. need for stimulation *
  3. cunning and manipulative                                13. lack of remorse or guilt *
  4. shallow emotional response    *                   14. callousness and lack of empathy *
  5. parasitic lifestyle                                                  15.  poor behavioral controls *
  6. sexual promiscuity *                                      16. early behavior problems *
  7. lack of realistic long-term goals  *                 17. impulsivity *
  8. irresponsibility                                                     18. failure to accept responsibility *
  9. many short-term marital relationships      19. juvenile delinquency
  10. revocation of conditional release        20. criminal versatility

I have tagged (*) 13 of these traits. I have emphasized a few (7) of these traits in bold type. Does this remind you of anyone? There have been numerous cult leaders that possess a majority of these traits. Their followers were not bad people, just programmed to believe that their leader could do no wrong despite considerable evidence to the contrary. If you are aware of any leader that displays a majority of these traits I would encourage you not to drink the Kool Aid at the end.