Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sheen Quacks Up - Home for Christmas: DeAndre Howard Freed After 11 Years

Charlie Sheen (Photo courtesy of Posh24)
The blow-back over the controversial quotes from Drew Magary's recent GQ interview with 'Duck Dynasty' reality star Phil Roberts certainly offers an interesting gauge on where the country stands on issues like same-sex relationships, race and conservative Christian values.

But when polar opposites like Sarah Palin and Clay Aiken both weigh in on the same issue publicly, it's clear the matter has morphed beyond the initial controversy into more of a national cultural imprint serving as a trigger mechanism for public debate and commentary over issues many Americans still find it hard to talk about.

Take Charlie Sheen. I'm a huge fan of some of his film work, but based on some of his own public floggings from his anti-Semitic comments about Hollywood execs, his lengthy (and apparently unedited) public admonishment of Phil Robert's views on homosexuality and race are a bit puzzling.

Of all people, Sheen is laying out someone for publicly stating views that are controversial?

If he was honestly sticking up for friends of his who were offended by Robert's comments as he claims, fine- he can use his celebrity how he sees fit (and boy has he in the past...).

But I can say without reservation that I genuinely have NO desire to know what a "MaSheen style media beat down" is but let's be honest; if it DID come down to Charlie Sheen taking on a cagey ole' outdoorsman from the back woods of Louisiana who rakes in millions helping people kill water fowl and knows a lot about shotguns - who are you picking in a fight? My money is on Phil.

Does Phil Roberts deserve to be crucified for his personal beliefs? Or does he actually deserve a measure of credit for opening up and saying what he really thinks on some sensitive subjects?

I might not personally agree with his views (or his rather rosy interpretation of life for black Americans in the south during Jim Crow) but he's got a right to them; and Lord knows the Tea Party has taught us that there a whole LOT of Americans who think exactly like him.

Like Justine Sacco the former PR exec from IAC Media who's remarkably dimwitted racist Tweet about Africans and AIDS posted before her flight back to South Africa of all places got her fired. Seriously, did she simply miss the past few weeks of nonstop media coverage of Mandela's death and funeral, or is she just that stupid?

Phil Roberts is the exact same guy he was before his show debuted on A&E. What did people think they were getting when they put him on reality TV anyway?

In deference to the unusually warm weather for the first day of winter, here's a quick heartwarming story from Los Angeles worth mentioning. On a positive note for the appeals process and the ability of US courts to redress wrongs in this nation, there's a story in yesterdays LA Times by Ruben Vives and Marisa Gerber that demonstrates that the wheels of justice in this country might turn slowly, but if you're patient, believe in yourself and persevere even seemingly impenetrable obstacles can be overcome.

Photo courtesy of LA Times
DeAndre Howard (pictured at left with his 7 year-old niece Briana) is home in Torrance, California for the holidays for the first time in 11 years after being found innocent of a 2002 murder for which he was wrongly convicted.

Rather than accept a plea deal from prosecutors to plead guilty to manslaughter and take an early release, Howard, who has maintained his innocence all along, opted to stay in prison and fight to be cleared of the charges.

Which he was when a Federal judge agreed the eye-witness testimony (which the witness themselves recanted years ago) should be struck and that his defense attorney failed to question a crucial witness in the original trial.

It takes guts to risk a life sentence and stand by your own convictions, and must be incredibly rewarding to be vindicated.

Great news for Howard but I can't help but wonder how many people around the nation will be incarcerated over the holidays who simply decided to take the deal.

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