Tag Archives: violence

Ununited States

purplemapJaquandor asks:

How do we solve the police brutality problem? To what extent is it a part of a larger problem with our society, indicating a deep and abiding devotion to punitive violence? I see police brutality as another facet of the problem that leads to our awful prisons and our enormous prison population.

First, I need to note the killing of two New York City police officers on December 20. It was correctly described as an assassination, and I mourn their deaths.

At the same time, I believe the remarks of Rudy Guiliani, blaming their deaths on President Obama as amazingly irresponsible, as well as untrue. The problem of excessive force by the police exists in a small, but significant number of cases. And it’s not “anti-police” when New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who is white but married to a black woman, instructs his children, and especially his son with the great ‘fro, in specific ways to cautiously and politely deal with the police.

Others, including former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who had some legal problems of his own a while back, suggested that the shootings were ultimately encouraged by de Blasio and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and that “they have blood on their hands.” He told Newsmax: “The people who encouraged these protests — you had peaceful protesters who were screaming ‘kill the cops’ — the so-called peaceful protesters. Who was encouraging these protesters? De Blasio, Sharpton and other elected officials and community leaders. They encouraged this mentality. They encouraged this behavior.”

Anyone who has ever been to a protest – I have attended more than a few in my time – knows that there are occasionally outliers at these events, people whose positions don’t jibe with the organizers’ intents. So would it be better that such Constitutionally-protected demonstrations be quashed?

That, BTW, was what the Tea Party folks said when a couple people killed two Las Vegas police officers in June 2014, that those cop killers, who had rallied with Cliven Bundy, along with people who POINTED GUNS at law enforcement officials, did not represent the movement.

Jon Stewart got it right when he said one can grieve the loss AND worry about the police overreach; they are NOT mutually exclusive.

To the question: I should note that not all the excessive violence is directed toward young black males. For instance, TX SWAT team beats, deafens nude man in his own home, lies about arrest; judge declines to punish cops or DA. There seems to be a need by some police to quash all possibly illicit behavior. If Eric Garner WERE selling individual cigarettes in Staten Island, it certainly wasn’t a felony.

I’m not sure of the cause of ALL the violence. I once posited on someone’s website the theory that these first person shooter games might have some effect on the cognitive understanding of life for some people, but was told by gaming experts that there’s “no relationship.” Maybe, maybe not. I’ve wondered about this at least since Vietnam, when one could drop the precision bombs without having any discernible understanding. And now war can really tidy, with people in the middle of the US dropping bombs on people half a world away; looks very much like a video game to me.

I AM convinced that the tremendous rise in the prison population, mostly for non-violent drug use, which I wrote about extensively, is a major contributor. Prison is, I’ve been told, a great school for becoming a better criminal.

Surely the militarism of the police, with all that post-9/11 money doled about by the federal government has led to a war zone mentality. But even in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military had a plan of engaging with the communities, whereas in the urban centers of the US, some of the residents feel like the police are an occupying force.

Maybe all the things that keep us disconnected from our surroundings – surburbia, synthetic food, our personal electronic devices, the bile that comes from commenting anonymously on social media – matter. SOMETHING is fueling a general rage – road rage, online rage.

Bottom line, though: the anger in the community is not just that there are excessive uses of force. The problem is that there appears to be lack of accountability for the actions. I’ve heard the body cameras for police will be a solution. But there WAS footage of Eric Garner dying. Police video would have not likely change the “no indictment” outcome. Did you see that the Ferguson prosecutor allowed witnesses that were “clearly not telling the truth” to the grand jury?

It may be that guns make police less safe, their jobs more difficult and communities less trusting. Or maybe it’s just the human condition.

This is a long way of saying, “Makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.”

Uthaclena wonders:

Okay, here’s one of my ponders: can the United States survive as a united entity? SHOULD it be a united entity, or would it be better off broken up so that the racist, theocratic barbarians can abuse themselves and leave the rest of us alone?

There are lots of precedents in the 20th century suggesting that this is a terrible idea. The creation of the state of Israel did not lead to peace in the Middle East. I learned from watching the Sanjay Gupta episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots Continue reading Ununited States

It becomes your issue when it becomes your issue

It really does not matter what the topic is. Inevitably, when someone speaks out on an issue, usually after a terrible human-made event, some trolls will come out and complain that those people ought to have spoken out on the issue sooner. This is absurd.

People often, indeed usually, become aware of an issue, and eventually speak out when it affects them personally. It’s human nature. Think of the founder of MADD:

Candice (Candy) Lightner is the organizer and was the founding president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.lightner On May 3, 1980 Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunken hit-and-run driver at Sunset and New York Avenues in Fair Oaks, California. The 46-year-old driver, who had recently been arrested for another DUI hit-and-run, left her body at the scene.

Should Candy Lightner have been campaigning against drunk driving BEFORE her daughter was killed? Continue reading It becomes your issue when it becomes your issue

Civil War cards


In a discussion on the website of SamuraiFrog, I wrote: “Yeah, just the frickin’ trailer of [the Quentin Tarantino film] Kill Bill 1 put me on edge; I can only imagine how it actually plays out.” To which, somewhere, Mr. Frog asked if it was because of the violence. Well, yeah, but it’s more specific than that.

Of all the forms of fictionalized violence in movies, the type I hate the most involves people getting stabbed or, worse, run through with a bayonet or sword. And I know why.
Continue reading Civil War cards

Equality, rape culture, and the war on women

I’ve been think about the rights of women a LOT lately. There are so many examples of what’s wrong – and to be sure a couple that are right – that it’s overwhelmed me. (And it’s taken at least a couple weeks to write this piece.)

In New York State, “The Women’s Equality Agenda will safeguard women’s health, extend protections against sexual harassment in the workplace, help to achieve pay equity, and increase protections against discrimination in employment, housing, credit and lending.” Sounds wonderful, of course. The big hangup for some is over abortion rights, a huge issue.

But I think the conversation about whether there is a “war on women” had been framed too much on abortion and birth control – sometimes reframed by the talking heads, to be sure.

Though there does seem to be a sexual component in all of this. In his review about Fiona Apple’s song Criminal, MDS writes: “Let’s just admit something up front right now Continue reading Equality, rape culture, and the war on women

A Boston marathon of random thoughts

* I have been to Boston several times in my life, though not in the past five years. I had an ex whose family lived near there. I loved the mass transit in the region.

* My very good friend Karen used to live in Somerville, which is just north of the Cambridge, part of the area where a lot of the activity on Friday took place. Her sister, who I have known for decades, still lives in that section, and I was wondering how much she had directly affected by the shutdown.

* I won $17,600 on JEOPARDY! in Boston in 1998, with friends Karen and Judy, and Judy’s son Max in the audience.

* Some talking head wondered if the bombing in Boston would make Americans more sensitive to the ravages of war that take place in Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere. My guess is no.

* A lot of bad info from CNN, who had reporter a bomber had been captured on April 17, then awkwardly walked back its own story on air later that afternoon.

* Amy’s poem Boston Meltdown reminded me why I stopped watching ABC News; it was the cult of personalty – “Diane Sawyer’s my friend!” – which rankles me.

* Some news analyst referred to the M.I.T. cop who was shot and killed as Continue reading A Boston marathon of random thoughts

Guns in every school?

Tom the Mayor, my old FantaCo and YMCA buddy, asks: How do you feel about the NRA’s idea of having guns in every school, you being a parent. I think they are vile and evil..

I’m not keen the NRA’s idea. I like what Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams had to say: Keep your guns out of my school! Among other things, the armed guards, in schools and elsewhere, are often early targets for would-be mass killers. I worry that having armed guards will accelerate the problem. And the foolish notion of making the teachers into a militia is beyond the scope of the job, when they have been given increasing responsibilities for – ready for it – teaching.

If we have armed guards in every school, where will the money come from? The strains on school budgets NOW are enormous. Now, if the NRA is willing to PAY for all of these people, MAYBE we can talk about it. (Nah, not even then.) Who will these people be, anyway? A police officer, with a level of training in situational behavior, or a rent-a-cop who just knows how to take target practice well ?
Continue reading Guns in every school?

Mocking Religion

The question on Facebook the other day, I’m only mildly paraphrasing: “Should the US government be condemning a movie” – we know which movie, I think – “to improve diplomatic relations?” For me, it’s an unequivocal “yes.” Not that that the audience of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s denunciation really cares. They seem to be of the opinion that the United States should arrest the filmmakers, or worse.

This leads me on all sorts of further questions. Should a government official comment on art at all? I use the term “art” loosely. In 1992, Dan Quayle, then the Vice-President, complained that TV character, Murphy Brown, deliberately had a child out of wedlock. Should he have been allowed to do that? Indeed, there are devotees who believe Continue reading Mocking Religion