Sheriff Hickman and the Blacks

Sheriff Hickman

I just read a fascinating article about Sheriff Rick Hickman and his response to an emergency call in the neighborhood of Des Arc, Arkansas. Sheriff Hickman responded to the call by asking where the triple-shooting took place. When informed it was a particular apartment complex he responded, “Oh really, black people then.”

The upshot of the response is Sheriff Hickman is being called a racist. Sheriff Hickman claims the apartment in question is largely occupied by black people so his response was not racist, but natural. Now, it turns out the attacker and victims are all white but that is not relevant to the point I’d like to analyze today.

Is Sheriff Hickman a racist?

The Event and Aftermath

The event itself is a horrific example of the gun violence rampant across all sections of the United States, urban and rural, white and black. Three people died in the shooting. It’s horrible and my sympathies to all those who lost loved ones and those who respond to such events and see the horrors.

Sheriff Hickman and his Other Comments

Sheriff Hickman, now accused of being a racist, was asked if he ever used racial slurs before. He responded that he does not use the most egregious racist word often but has in the past and a lot of people around him do. He also thought his response when told about the location of the shooting was natural and not of racist implication. Black people live in that area so that’s what he assumed.

My Analysis

The case seems pretty open and shut but I think there is a great deal more nuance than people who view the world in simplistic, good and evil, terms will admit. Now, I don’t know Sheriff Hickman at all besides his few quotes so I’m merely stating an opinion here.

I found the response to the question of his own usage of racial slurs to be refreshingly honest. In this day and age where the standard law enforcement line generally includes something like: that sort of attitude has no place in our department. We never put up with it. I’ve never known a racist law enforcement officers. Blah blah blah blah blah. Bullshit.

I’ve lived in small towns. I know all about sheriffs, both good and bad. Fire marshals, both good and bad. Good old boys, both good and bad. The fact that Sheriff Hickman answered honestly about his own use of racial slurs when his brethren officers consistently lie in similar situations makes me like the man. It makes me think he’s one of the good guys.

I think if I sat down with Sheriff Hickman and asked: what do you think you’d say if the shootings took place in a predominantly white area? Would you have said, “Oh really, white people then.”? I suspect Sheriff Hickman might pause, look at me, thought about it, and replied, “You know what, Tom. You’re right. I wouldn’t have said that. Maybe I do have some unconscious racial biases and it affects the way I do my job and the way underlings look to my lead. I need to do something about that.”

Now, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he wouldn’t reply that way. Maybe he’d remain in continual denial about a problem that isn’t just overt racism, hatred of all black people. It’s subtle, it has nuance, and it causes problems in many ways, both small and large.


I think it’s important to have conversations with men like Sheriff Hickman. Difficult conversations where I understand his point of view and he understands mine. I think that’s the way forward. This rush to judgement, to cancellation or whatever you want to call it, just widens the divide instead of helping to heal it.

What do you think?

What should be done about Sheriff Hickman

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Tom Liberman

Jon Gruden would have a Job if he was not an Average Coach

Jon Gruden


The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden, resigned after the release of a number of emails in which he makes distasteful comments. There’s a lot of bleating about Cancel Culture but the reality comes down to the fact that Jon Gruden hasn’t been anything better than an average coach throughout his career.

If Jon Gruden had a coaching record significantly better than 122 wins against 116 losses we’d hear all sorts of excuses from his bosses, talk about sensitivity training, how he is a good man who made a mistake, and he’d still have a job.

What Jon Gruden Wrote

I confess that I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Jon Gruden particularly when I hear him lying in order to excuse his behavior. He insulted his ultimate boss, Roger Goodell, calling him a “clueless anti-football pussy”. He and Bruce Allen exchanged pictures of topless Washington Football Team cheerleaders, a scandal we’re not here to talk about today.

Jon Gruden described DeMaurice Smith as having lips the size of Michelin tires and then lies and claims he just meant Smith had rubber lips, which apparently, Gruden wants us to believe is a euphemism for someone who lies. It’s clearly a reference to the large lipped stereotype of black men. You know it, I know it, and Gruden knows it.

I’d have more sympathy for Gruden if he admitted that he used a stereotype. Gruden is also lying when he claims he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. That’s a lie born of Cognitive Dissonance. Of course, he has racist thoughts, misogynistic thoughts, homophobic thoughts, murderous thoughts. We all have such thoughts from time to time. It doesn’t make us racist or murderers, it makes us human.

This constant bleating that no one is more whatever than me, I don’t have a bad bone in my body is utter nonsense. You can still be a good person even if you have bad thoughts, if you make mistakes, if you do bad things, if you say wrong things. If Gruden stood up and owned up, I’d be more sympathetic to his arguments.

That being said, the bottom line is he isn’t a consistently winning football coach and that is why he was forced to resign.


There’s a lot of hand-wringing and complaining about Cancel Culture from one side and condemnation as racist and homophobic from the other. As usual, it’s somewhere in between but that doesn’t play well with those who only see the world as a one-way street.

Jon Gruden doesn’t have a job this morning because he’s an average coach who made some mistakes. When you’re really good at your job you’re allowed a lot of mistakes, that isn’t Jon Gruden.

Ben Shapiro and the Social Divide

Ben Shapiro

There’s a lot of chatter on my social media feeds about Ben Shapiro and his comments regarding a song named WAP. I didn’t know much about it, and frankly didn’t care, but eventually I read the comments and it reminded me of when I first learned about the social divide that encompasses the racial divide.

Let me start by saying Ben Shapiro is a smart guy but in this case, he is letting the social divide of music influence his rational thinking which has turned him into, pardon my frankness, a fool. Ben Shapiro wrote: Fact, rap isn’t music. And if you think it is, you’re stupid.

When I read this moronic statement, a memory came to me from high school. I went to University City High School which was then a racially mixed school. There was a clear racial divide in a number of areas and I largely thought myself immune to this divide. There was Honky Hall where all the white kids had their lockers, I didn’t. There was the debate between Good Times and Happy Days as to which to watch, I liked them both. In other words, I basically thought, yeah, I’m white skinned, sure, but whatever, the color of my skin doesn’t mean I’m fundamentally different than black kids.

One day I was having a discussion with a black girl who was one of the social elites, why she was talking to me, a social outcast, I can’t remember. Anyway, I was waxing poetic about a band I liked, I think it was Journey, and she looked at me strangely and said, Who’s that? I was astonished. Who’s that, I replied. How can you not know Journey? Everyone listens to Journey. They are on the radio all day long.

She looked at me and said, Teddy Pendergrass. I replied, Who’s that? She smiled, as I had fallen neatly into her trap, and replied: How can you not know Teddy Pendergrass? That was probably the first time I realized there was more to the racial problems in this country and this world than simply the color of one’s skin. A little research led me to radio stations I had no idea existed. If only I had the internet back then, I would have been turned on to some of the best music ever made but, sadly, I had to wait years to learn about all that.

This is my point about Ben Shapiro and his comments regarding both the song WAP and rap music in general. This is the cultural divide that fuels the racial divide. Sure, we have different skin color but what keeps racism alive are comments like that of Ben Shapiro. Rap is music. I’m not a huge fan of most rap although I do think it provides valuable lessons about such topics as Funky Cold Medina. Ben Shapiro is, at least to some degree, perpetuating racism and misogyny with his remarks.

The mantra of the Libertarian did not begin to appeal to me until I was in my early thirties. If only had known about it back then in my conversation. People who like rap music should enjoy it. People who like Teddy Pendergrass should enjoy his work. People who like Journey should never stop believing. Some people like them all!

Ben Shapiro, enjoy what you enjoy and allow others to do the same without judgment. WAP never hurt you and it never hurt me either. The hate you spew is driven by fear. Decisions driven by fear are to be avoided. Why all the hate, brother?

Tom Liberman

Why Racists Often think they are not


I just read what many people will find to be a horrific article about a group of racists who happen to be police officers. What struck me about it was that after being caught making virulently racist comments, the three racists claimed they were not racists. It’s a refrain I’ve heard many times from racists over the years.

I wrote about my experience sitting at the table with people who made racist comments right in front of me but I’d like to spend some time today discussing why these clearly racist people think they are not racists. It’s fairly simple, in their minds if they don’t hate every single person of a particular group; black, Muslim, Evangelical Christian, Jewish, Atheist, whatever, they are not racists or bigots.

This is what leads many racists to mention how they are friends with a black person. Being a racist is quite simple. Do you hate someone because of the color of their skin, the religion they practice or don’t practice, the circumstances of their birth? If you do, you’re a racist. If you believe every person is an individual and you cannot hate or have any feelings at all about a person before you know them, then it’s likely you have Libertarian leanings.

Racism is an interesting topic for Libertarians. It is an absolute foreign concept to the ideals of the philosophy. Each person is an individual and must be judged by their words and deeds. You can never make assumptions about a person based on meaningless external factors. However, racists are entitled to their stupid opinions and, if they want to express their idiocy for all to see, that’s their business.

What’s important to understand is the world is filled with people who pat themselves on the back thinking they are not racists, like the three officers in question, when they are quite clearly racist scum who have no business in any position of authority, let alone law enforcement. I’ve known any number of people exactly like this. I had a police chief say to my face that he had never met a racist police officer. Perhaps I should have asked him how he defined racism and pointed out how he was living in a world of self-delusion. I did not, blame me for that.

You might think you aren’t a racist. You might think you’re a good person. Your friends might like you. You might behave in largely kind and decent ways to your friends and family. That doesn’t mean you’re not a racist.

If you choose to acknowledge it or not is your business. I’m not going to tell you to wake up. If you want to face the reality of your beliefs and actions, that’s up to you. However, I do think you’re a piece of garbage and if you die tomorrow, the world will be a better place.

Tom Liberman

The Racist Statements that don’t Happen on Camera

Racist Statements

We’ve all seen apologies for racist statements caught on camera or posted on social media. That doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe is how they mostly start. Well, I don’t believe the apologies. I’m of the opinion the statements represent exactly who you are and what you think.

If you look at my picture you see an average looking white guy, that’s what friends of mine see, acquaintances, and people I don’t know that well. They see a guy just like them. White, racist, angry. Believe me, I’m sitting right next to you when you spew your racism, your anti-Semitism, your hate, your misguided fear. Yes, anti-Semitism, right to my face. I don’t look all that Jewish, I guess.

Believe me, I’ve heard you make racist statements plenty of times when the camera wasn’t on. That’s why I don’t believe you when you claim it was a slip and you don’t really think that. I’m quite certain you say things like that all the time when surrounded by people you imagine have the same opinion. I’m fairly certain you say much worse than what you got caught saying.

I’m not kidding when I tell you people have said, directly to me: Hitler had the right idea. If we’d let Hitler win, he’d have gotten around to the blacks eventually. It won’t take long to kill all the blacks. Interracial marriage is evil. I’ve heard it all because I was sitting right next to you when you said it. I sometimes even speak up, do you believe that? As soon as I start asking questions the mouths start shutting. Uh oh, he’s not like us. Better shut up. This is a conversation we only have surrounded by our friends.

The racist statements you’ve made about people thinking I’m with you. The conversations you’ve had about Libertarians not knowing I was one of them. The conversations you’ve had about Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, women, homosexuals, transgenders, you name it, I’ve heard them and that’s why I don’t believe you when you claim: That’s not me! I’m not like that. I don’t believe the things I just said loudly and clearly.

Now, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt when you say you’ll learn from your mistake. That you’ll try to do better. In reality, I’m sure what most of you will try to do is not to say those things when you’re on video. I doubt most of you will change at all but I’m willing to give you the chance to do so. Take the opportunity while it’s offered.

Tom Liberman

Zimmerman Trial – Final Conclusions

Good choices and bad choicesThe George Zimmerman trial is finally over and the result has people angry. It’s been a long and tumultuous case that brought out some raw and powerful emotions from people on all sides. There are not simply two sides to this case, guilt and innocence and that’s what I want to focus on today, the nuances, the lessons, but also the final verdict.

For the most part people seem to be divided into the Guilty and Not Guilty camps but I think there is a lot more to this case than just that simple questions. There are lessons for everyone.

I’m not going to recap the entire thing because I think most people are pretty aware of the circumstances at this point. I think there is a lot of blame to go around from Zimmerman, to Trayvon Martin, to the police, to the prosecutor, the voices of black and white, total guilt or complete innocence, and, of course, violent protestors. This is one of those situations where emotions run high and it is difficult to analyze dispassionately. That’s what I’m going to try to do today. I suspect my thoughts will not soothe the anger on either side of the issue but that won’t stop me from trying.

A man of one race killed a teenage boy of another race. That’s a fact. No one is denying it.

The first mistake was made by Zimmerman when he didn’t follow police instructions, followed Martin, and didn’t identify himself as a member of the neighborhood watch. The second mistake was Martin’s when he didn’t calmly explain to Zimmerman who he was and why he had a right to be where he was. If Zimmerman is to be believed, and the evidence supports it, Martin made a second mistake when he physically attacked Zimmerman.

The next mistake was made by the police. Zimmerman was brought in by the police and questioned. One officer wanted to hold him and do a more comprehensive investigation but another, higher up friend of Zimmerman, squashed this idea and let him walk free. The police did not canvas the neighborhood looking for witnesses. They did at best a cursory investigation. This was a huge mistake and quite possibly led to the entirety of the rest of the situation. If the police had immediately held Zimmerman and done a thorough investigation much of what happened later could have been avoided. They didn’t. If the police had brought the evidence to the prosecutor, the grand jury, and either had found there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute, likely true, then I think most people would have accepted it at this point. Things would not have escalated.

The police did not and the community was enraged. They held protests. Zimmerman was arrested again. In order to get a lower bail he lied to the judge. Not a bright move. The judge was rightfully angry, his own lawyer furious. If I can give you any advice; don’t mess around with judges in their courtroom. You think doctors like to play god? It also taints any statement Zimmerman makes at a later date. He is willing to lie to judge? When won’t he lie?

Now the prosecutor was backed into a corner. Even without good evidence he was pressured into bringing the case to court. Still, that’s not an excuse. If there isn’t enough evidence to support a prosecution then it should not be brought to the docket.

Things then proceeded well from the state’s perspective. They held an orderly and fair trial, both prosecutor and defense attorneys vigorously did their job. A verdict was arrived at that seems largely just. Yes, Zimmerman is a known liar, but the evidence largely supports his story. It seems to me he cannot be convicted based on the existing Florida self-defense laws. Laws put in place by a legislature legally elected by voters.

Sadly the mistakes didn’t end there. Many people were upset by the verdict and some of them reacted violently which is both stupid in that it doesn’t further their cause and dangerous to them and others. In my opinion the largest disservice occurring now is the insistence upon making the entire thing racial, from both sides. I see Facebook posts comparing the Zimmerman/Martin case to the murder of white people by black people when the cases couldn’t be more dissimilar. I see people claiming Zimmerman got off because of his racial background, that he was only prosecuted because of his racial background. This case is not about, has never been about, the fact that Zimmerman is one color and Martin was another.

We should focus on the mistakes, understand them, try to learn from them. Martin is dead and nothing will change that.

Neighborhood watch members should learn to listen to police, to identify themselves. Innocent people should explain their actions when accused, particular if the accusation is unjust, rather than becoming belligerent, violent. Police should be thorough in their investigation of any incident that leaves one party dead. People should be less quick to blame one another and fire off angry words.

My final conclusion? My actions have consequences. The decisions I make are important to my life and to others. I try to make good ones. So should we all. Bad decisions can have tragic consequences. Let’s try to avoid them. Not much ground breaking there I suppose.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Paula Deen and the word Nigger

paula deenYes, you see correctly. I don’t use the euphemism “n-word” when I mean to say nigger. Am I worse than every newscaster, magazine writer, blogger, and general person who says “n-word” when they mean nigger? Read this blog and then tell me what you think.

Paula Deen admits to using the word nigger when referencing black men. Nigger is a vile word with a vile meaning. Because she has used the word in conversation she is paying a significant price. Today I want to examine her use and understanding of the word, the public reaction to said use, and the lawsuit that brought it all to the public’s attention.

Paula runs a very successful restaurant that grew into a Food Network television show which spawned a number of food related books, magazines, and other endeavors. She has made a lot of money because of her hard work and apparently tasty food. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten any of her recipes. We can be certain that people like it.

I’m sure you know the story by now but to recap for those of you who, like me, were largely ignoring it up to now, she is being sued by a woman who was offended by the fact that Paula used the word nigger in her restaurant. This employee has bi-racial nieces and nephews and is filing suit against Paula and the restaurant because the employee was personally offended. During the trial it was brought up that Paula planned a “plantation themed” wedding for her brother that would include black servers.

Because of these revelations Paula has lost her television show, her book deals, and many of her sponsors.

I think the word nigger is horrible. When Paula used it in front of the employee the person should have told Paula that it was offensive. Maybe she did, I don’t know the details of the case. Paula says the word was used commonly as she was growing up and I don’t doubt her for a moment. I’ve heard the word used in all its ugly connotations a number of times over the years and I always tell people I don’t like it, please don’t use it in my presence. If they continue, they continue, I can’t control them. I can stop being around them, an employee doesn’t have this luxury.

Is Paula an evil person for saying nigger? It certainly doesn’t reflect well on her. Does she discriminate against black people? Apparently not. Does she hate black people, the evidence seems to be no. Does the idea of a plantation themed wedding including all black servers seem in poor taste, you bet.

What bothers me most about the entire story is the prevalence of the “n-word”. If people didn’t say the “n-word” when they mean nigger then maybe Paula, and a lot of other people would have gotten the message.

Nigger is a nasty term meant to convey laziness, lack of trustworthiness, thieving character, and a no good lay about. It’s applied to black people because that is the stereotype associated with them, used to explain why they could be kept as slaves against all human decency. Paula, when you say nigger, that’s what you are saying. If someone had told Paula that twenty years ago I bet she would have stopped using it right at that moment. She seems like a pretty decent sort who just didn’t know the ugliness of the word she was using.

I know it seems strange to suggest that she didn’t understand the meaning but I think that’s often the case. When we say the “f-word” and the “c-word” and the “n-word” instead of “fuck”, “cunt”, and “nigger” we hide the ugliness of the word. We hide its true meaning. People say nigger who don’t mean nigger. Not to excuse Paula, she said it, she should have known what it meant.

If people want to remove themselves from Paula’s life; be they advertisers, networks, publishers, or just an average person, that’s their right. I don’t begrudge them for a moment.

However, from what I can make of this entire episode, Paula just didn’t understand how awful the word nigger truly is, and she’s not alone. If we in society would stop saying the “n-word” and start saying nigger, I think people like Paula would understand. When we say the “n-word” we are hiding behind semantics. We are saying nigger without saying it and it truly causes confusion.

What I would respect the most from Paula was if she stood up in her next interview and said nigger. Tell us she said nigger. Tell us she knows the meaning of the word nigger. Tell us she’s sorry for using the word nigger not only for the word itself but the meaning behind it. That she knows nigger is an awful word. That she understands why it’s a terrible thing to say.

And I would respect her advertisers, sponsors, and friends if they then all forgave her.

I don’t think it will happen. I think everyone will continue to say the “n-word” and I think that’s too bad. No one knows more than me that words have power. Do we not tell German children about the holocaust because it’s so awful? Just the opposite. Here is what happened. This is what a word means. We, as a nation, enslaved another group of people. We made them seem sub-human. We applied words like nigger to them. It was awful and terrible. We should be ashamed.

When you call someone a nigger you are saying you don’t think slavery and everything associated with it was a terrible thing. If you mean that, then go ahead and call a black person a nigger. If you know what it means and hate everything associated with it, then explain to other people what the word really means. Don’t hide the word. Bring it out into the bright sunshine. Expose it to the world for what it truly is.

Evil grows in hidden corners, away from plain sight. It shrinks when exposed, when ridiculed, when attacked by good people who are not afraid. Other people are encouraged to be good themselves, to not use vile words with terrible meanings. The world becomes a better place. I’m all for that.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (it’s honestly a fun and easy read, just ask my mother! $2.99)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Affirmative Action

Affirmative ActionYesterday I talked about how playing chess against a wide variety of players in the internet age improved my game at a much faster rate than when I played against the same opponent again and again. This led me to the conclusion that variety of experience leads to a better life and improved skill. I want to take this argument and apply it to the idea of affirmative action.

As usual, I think it is a good idea to actually define what we are talking about in order to fully understand it and come to accurate conclusions with our critical thinking skills.

Affirmative action is a relatively simple idea. A particular group of people is underrepresented in a situation and laws are created so that this group must be given an equal opportunity to participate. For example; a study reveals that while Martians represent 8% of the total population of Utopia City they account for 1% of students at Utopia University. A law is passed that forces Utopia U. to make certain 8% of its incoming class is of Martian descent.

It seems a quite reasonable solution to the problem and becomes even more reasonable when the problem is related to active discrimination against the party in question.

In the United States the original affirmative action laws, signed by John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961, were created to counteract racial bias against black U.S. citizens. It originally prohibited discrimination against people based on race, creed, color, or national origin.

The advantage to creating such laws is that the Martians get a fair chance to participate at Utopia U. Another advantage is that we expose all our students to a wider array of cultural ideas and this makes them a more rounded and essentially better people.

The disadvantages are that such laws work against institutions that are not practicing discrimination. If I run Utopia U. and my only criteria for admission is the students with the best grades then I’m forced to enroll Martians with lower scores at the expense of a potential students who have a better chance to succeed. This is, in itself, discrimination.

So, what’s the solution?

To my way of thinking there should simply be laws against discrimination but everyone should be able to hire, enroll, or otherwise deal with people as they see fit. If a case of discrimination can be proven then the violator should face whatever punishment the law suggests, fine or prison. The idea that we must have 8% Martians at Utopia U. as a way of trying to monitor discrimination is fine but it is not actual proof. We might have only 1% Martians because only 1% are qualified to get in.

The advantage of experiencing life more fully is not one the government can solve. We must actively try to experience life more fully and meet different types of people as I discussed yesterday. If we do this we become better and our friends and relatives will copy the behavior. I just don’t think the government can legislate this solution as well-intentioned as the idea might be. 

It’s fine to use statistical analysis to look for anomalies and then investigate potential discrimination but I think it’s a mistake to insist upon particular numerical values. The Supreme Court of the U.S. largely agrees with this point of view.

I’m of the opinion that affirmative action should largely be phased out although discrimination laws should certainly be kept in place. I see the racism problem as largely, although certainly not completely, solved in the United States. If we can instill a Meritocracy based system then all such nonsense can finally be put to rest.

One of the ways to do this is to always critically analyze a situation and make the best decision. The best decision is blind, like justice, of things like race, creed, sex, handicap, or other potential discriminations. Keep in mind that what is best for you and your future involves making good decisions. You want to surround yourself with people who are best equipped to handle the job regardless of any other factor.

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist