Archive for December, 2012

Now that Christmas is over, I can finally get down to doing a thorough analysis of the case of the Tulsa police captain I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

In part one, I will provide a timeline of events as they are outlined in the court decision. In part two, I’m going to look at the court’s decision in the case. For part three, I’ll look at the characters involved. Finally, in part four, I’m going to look at who, rather conspicuously, isn’t involved, and try to figure out why.

For a little background, Paul Fields sued the City of Tulsa, and his former bosses, after being suspended. According to the Tulsa World, after Fields declined to attend an event at a local mosque, and refused to order any of his subordinates to attend, Fields was suspended for a week without pay for disobedience, and another week without pay for conduct unbecoming of an officer.

There is a thorough breakdown of the timeline in the Undisputed Facts section of the federal court’s ruling earlier this month:

  • Between 2004 and 2011, the Tulsa Police Department (TPD) accepted requests for police attendance at 327 religious venues from religious organizations, as part of its policy of “engaging in community policing” and “building trust in the community.”
  • In 2010, the Islamic Society of Tulsa (IST) received threats, and the Tulsa Police Department provided security. To show thanks, the Society scheduled a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” for March 4, 2020, inviting the TPD, the Sheriff’s office, the DA’s office, and the FBI to participate.
  • Deputy Chief of Police Alvin Webster contacted the IST to make sure that no officers would be have to tour the mosque or discuss Islam in order to attend. This was confirmed.
  • January 25, 2020 - Webster announced the IST Officer Appreciation Day at a staff meeting.
  • February 16 - Webster emailed the invitation to “All TPD officers” and asked officers to notify him if they were attending.
  • That same day Webster sent an email to three patrol division majors saying:

I have advised Ms. Siddiqui to expect small-group visits at 1100, 1330, and 1630.
Please arrange for 2 officers and a supervisor or commander from each of your
shops to attend at each of those times. They can expect to be at the facility for
approximately 30 minutes but stay longer if they wish. Each Patrol Division will
provide a total of 6 officers and 3 supervisors for the day’s event…

  • February 17 - Major Julie Harris (one of the three patrol division majors) emailed Paul Fields stating ““[w]e are directed by DCOP Webster to have representatives from each shift – 2nd, 3rd, and 4th to attend” and including the above email.
  • Later that day, Paul fields responded with an email to 15 people, including Harris, Webster and Chief of Police Charles Jordan. I believe this is known as trying to go over someone’s head. The email read:

I’m a little confused in reference to DCOP Webster’s directive to send 2 officers and at least 1 supervisor or shift commander from 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, shifts to the Islamic Society of Tulsa Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Initially, this was to be on a voluntary basis, however now it is a directive. What has changed?

I have no problem with officers attending on a voluntary basis; however, I take exception to requiring officers to attend this event. Past invitations to religious/non-religious institutions for similar purposes have always been voluntary. I believe this directive to be an unlawful order, as it is in direct conflict with my personal religious convictions, as well as to be conscience shocking.

This event is not a police “call to service”, which I would readily respond to, as required by my Oath of Office. Instead, it is an invitation to, tour a Mosque, meet
Muslim Leadership, watch a congregational prayer service, and receive “presentations on beliefs, human rights, and women.” It is my opinion and that of
my legal counsel, that forcing me to enter a Mosque when it is not directly related to a police call for service is a violation of my Civil Rights.

Please consider this email my official notification to the Tulsa Police Department and the City of Tulsa that I intend not to follow this directive, nor require any of my subordinates to do so if they share similar religious convictions.

(emphasis in original)

  • February 18 - Webster sent a note to Fields telling him that “voluntary participation is desirable and should an adequate number of personnel volunteer, assignment would not be necessary… Should voluntary response not be up to the task, assignment would be the next alternative.” It also said, “I and other personnel have either been detailed or strongly encouraged to attend community outreach events at the Jewish Community Center, churches in North Tulsa to reach out to African American residents, and churches in East Tulsa to reach out to Hispanic residents.” Webster explained that “[t]here is no distinction between performing our lawful duties in a reactive manner (call response) and doing so in a proactive manner (community outreach).” Webster also agreed that “[w]ere Police Department personnel expected to participate in religious services, I would agree with you… Personnel would not be required [to] participate in religious services on duty that they would not choose to participate in off duty.” Given the Department’s clarification that “you are not required to participate or assist in any religious observance, make any expression of belief, or adopt any belief system,” Webster encouraged Fields to reconsider his refusal to participate or identify others to participate.
  • The subtext of all of that is the Fields should stop being an asshole.
  • After conferring with his counsel, Fields responded that “there is no need to reconsider my decision.”
  • Webster ordered Fields to report to the Chief of Police’s office with his attorney on February 21.
  • February 21 - At the meeting, Webster asked Fields if any of his officers had volunteered. None had. He then ordered Fields to designate two officers and a supervisor, or himself, to attend. Fields refused. Webster presented him with an order to transfer and informed him of an internal investigation for violation of “Duty to be Truthful and Obedient.”
  • Captain Luther Breashears conducted the internal investigation. Deputy Chief Larson recommended six weeks suspension at the hearing. Chief of Police Charles Jordan imposed a week of suspension each for violation of duty to be obedient and conduct unbecoming an officer.
  • February 23 - Fields filed a suit against the City of Tulsa and his superior officers.
  • September 2012 - An arbiter upheld the suspension for conduct unbecoming an officer, but ruled that the TPD had not sufficiently proven that Fields had actually been ordered to either attend or find someone else to attend, so he couldn’t be suspended for violating an order. This ruling was not considered binding by the federal judge in the case.

Come back tomorrow for a discussion of what the federal court considered in its decision against Fields.

Ouch. Why!?

Posted: December 28, 2020 in Uncategorized

It is probably for the best that this group of young men are spending their free time eating insanely hot peppers, videotaping it, and then inexplicably editing out all of the ensuing swear words.

I can think of much worse things they could be doing with their time than entertaining me with their antics.

The chilies they are eating are Trinidad Scorpion Butch T peppers. I can confirm this because I know Levi, the young man in the video who gives up first. He showed me these peppers ahead of time and informed me of his plan to make this video.

According to that repository of all knowledge, Google, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T is the hottest pepper in the world. It has a scoville rating of over 1.4 million. That’s just nuts.

I’m actually impressed with the fortitude of the two guys on our left in the video. They really seemed to be handling it well. The hiccups were hilarious. Since when does hot stuff give you hiccups?

Thanks, Levi, for sending me this video. I’d call you weak for being the first to give in, but you’re a better man than I. You couldn’t have paid me the winnings to eat that thing.

The Danny Marroquin Show

Posted: December 27, 2020 in Uncategorized

Regular readers of Odd Oklahoma will find a lot to like from the Danny Marroquin Show.

While Danny has been on hiatus for a while, he recently posted an interview with Michael Kimble, an Oklahoman reporter who covers local and state government. Kimble outlines his concerns about Governor Mary Fallin’s refusal to release her emails. This is what the Lost Ogle is going after her for as well.

It is nice knowing that someone at the Oklahoman has an adversarial relationship with the governor and the state government. Too bad he is leaving.

You should watch the video, anyway. Shit, he even uses terms like living wage.

I think today I’ll spend a little time highlighting one of the great promoters of conspiracy theories in these parts, the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC).

OCPAC came up before in my posts on the Birchers. They are the folks that hosted the President of the John Birch Society. Like the Birchers, they are a bunch of conspiracy-minded yahoos.

For example, as I write this, on their Facebook page there are posts where members are discussing:

A joint effort by George Soros, the Rothschilds and the Vatican to organize a takeover of the world. This same post accuses the NRA of actually being aligned with the NWO.

The Vatican is rolling out RFID chips to implant in people as the Mark of the Beast discussed in Revelations.

A video claiming global warming is a ‘swindle.’

A blog post that claims that the shootings in Connecticut were organized by the US government to create support for gun control and a UN small arms treaty.

If you want a glimpse into what the most extreme and paranoid people involved in Oklahoma politics are up to, keep an eye on that Facebook page.

Book Review: Deconverted

Posted: December 25, 2020 in Book Review, religion

Merry Christmas! In the spirit of the holiday season, and because I appreciate irony, I bring you the following.

I’ve been meaning to review some books by Oklahoma authors for a while, and finally got the chance when I came across Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason.

In Oklahoma, there isn’t anyone much odder than an atheist. Oklahoma is one of the more religious states in the country, so when someone comes out publicly as an atheist, and writes a book about his experiences, it is noticeable. It is all the more interesting when that person is a former Christian radio personality from Tulsa, the location of Oral Roberts University and the heart of evangelical Christianity in Oklahoma.

Deconverted is essentially a religious memoir. Seth Andrews tells the story of growing up in a highly religious household, his experiences in radio and video publishing, and how he used those skills to work for the other side once he deconverted. The book also includes explanations for why he no longer believes, and responses to common questions he gets from Christians.

After leaving his faith, Andrews adopted the online moniker, The Thinking Atheist, and set up a website that featured anti-religious videos and forums for atheists to congregate. Here is an example of one of his videos.

He has also started a live weekly call-in internet radio show that is put out as a podcast. You can find it on Itunes or at his website.

Deconverted is not for everyone. If you don’t want to hear what an atheist thinks about modern Christianity in Oklahoma, this isn’t the book for you. If you are looking for an examination of the main arguments presented by atheists for why they don’t think God exists, this isn’t the book for you. If you are interested in hearing a person’s personal story about how he moved from Christianity to atheism, while navigating the family and workplace implications, you’ll find this book very interesting.

As an aside, Andrews has an entire section discussing how much A Thief in the Night affected him. Regular readers will remember that film from the post on Carlton Pearson. I really do need to watch that movie with some of my friends.

You can find Deconverted on Amazon, and there is a Kindle version available.

The atheist community is fairly active in Oklahoma, with organizations is a number of places around the state. I’ll try to have stories on all of these groups eventually.

If you know of a book by an Oklahoma author, or about Oklahoma, that would be worthy of an Odd Oklahoma review (or pan), let me know and I’ll see about getting it.

The most recent episode of Science…sort of, a podcast about ‘things that are science, things that are sort of science, and things that wish they were science’ covered the story on the Oklahoma Wildlife Department denying evidence of the existence of Bigfoot.

I’ve been listening to this podcast for years, and I’m a huge fan of all of the shows put out by the Brachiolope Media Network, so it made my day when this episode popped up on my iTunes feed.

According to the Tulsa World, Paul Fields, a Tulsa police captain suspended for refusing to attend an outreach event, or to order officers under him to attend said event, lost his lawsuit against the city last week.

I just found out about this, and it is early Friday morning. I’ll try to write up some posts looking at the details of this case over the next few days. There are a lot of interesting church-state issues surrounding this case, and I’ll try to detail them. It is unusual that you get a case like this, where it is (presumably) a Christian suing for discrimination in favor of an Islamic group. This may be a first in Oklahoma history.

This story has been going on for over a year, and the case went to an arbiter before it made it into the courts. That is common practice these days. Companies often require employees to sign contracts agreeing to go to third party arbitration before taking a case to court. Halliburton notoriously split with KBR when (among other things) it got so much bad press when it tried to require a reputed rape victim go through arbitration instead of suing in the courts.

The arbiter in the Fields case split the decision, siding partially in favor of Fields and partially in favor of the city. The judge did not abide by the findings of the arbiter, and seems to have sided entirely with the city. This case will almost certainly be appealed.

I have some contacts with people in the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. I’ll be contacting them for comments on this story as well. I honestly don’t know where they would fall on this one. I’ll also try to see if I can get a comment from the local ACLU people, but that will take some more time. This is a weird case for both parties, which is why they are probably leaving it up to one of the right wing organizations to prosecute.