"I'll just get my gear."

The news today

I feel like I can’t just post more of my usual dumb movie reviews without first acknowledging the huge cloud of bummer hanging over the country today. But also I have no words, and I don’t even really want to discuss it. We all know it sucks, and if you don’t know it sucks please don’t come here and tell me about it because nobody deserves to hear from your dumb ass today. Show some respect.

I want to say something like “Let’s all just pledge to do what we can to make things better,” but I have no idea how we would do that. I think back to 20 years ago and the Rodney King verdict. Seems like the only thing that’s changed is that it happens so often that we saw this one coming. And also those guys didn’t kill him and at least had to go on trial.

But I’m not going to get into it. Instead I will turn, as I often do, to Stevie. He knows how to turn anger into something beautiful.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 at 2:04 am and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

28 Responses to “The news today”

  1. I know what you mean Vern, I feel really depressed right now too, it’s just a sad state of affairs America find itself in right now, I wish things weren’t this way.

  2. What’s most frustrating about the whole affair is that the verdict was (arguably) right insofar as it correctly interpreted a set of imperfect laws and boundary conditions. As long as these laws stay unchanged, such incidents are bound to happen again.

    We would have gotten absolutely nowhere by making an example out of the police officer. If he were punished with a harsh sentence, then it would have given the impression to many people that justice has been served. There would be less reason for outrage — which, given the circumstances, would be a bad thing.

    The correct response to this tragedy is to campaign for reform — for instance, for the enforcement of body cameras. Only a change in the legal framework can prevent such incidents from happening in the future. If the exoneration of Darren Wilson caused people to be angrier and more outspoken about the Ferguson tragedy, then the same people should put these emotions to good use and channel them towards a plausible solution, and not towards senseless rioting. If Americans fail to do that, then Michael Brown will have died for nothing.

  3. Body cameras are a massive infringement on citizen’s privacy and a terrible idea.

    I’m sorry, but people, the physical evidence AND the eyewitnesses seem to all agree pretty conclusively on what happened. A cop and a teenager got into a fight and the cop shot and killed the kid. It wasn’t cold blooded, deliberate, pre-meditated murder. Wilson was stripped of his weapon, put on leave, and his conduct rigorously examined by multiple boards of inquiry.

    Darren Wilson hasn’t been “exonerated”. He’s going to be remembered for the rest American history as Mike Brown’s murderer. What if he HAD gone on trial, and the trial jury came to the same conclusion and declared him not guilty by reason of self-defense? What if the Justice Department’s inquiry comes back with the same conclusions as the grand jury? Then what?

  4. Who are these animals they find to do jury duty?

    Nation of rednecks. Stay in Seattle, Vern. It’s not safe out there in DumbFuckistan, Middle USA.

    I wonder if the “prosecutor” intentionally slow-played this process (one of the longest grand jury ordeals in history for this kind of incident) to make the result come after the midterm elections. The governors’ mansions, state houses & senates, and most of the local elected offices around my beloved nation are filled with right wingers and fundamentalist nutjobs who adore & make it their life’s work to implement the kind of gun-friendly, establishment-friendly, authority-friendly laws & fear-based belief systems that contribute to a culture where dipshit pussy cops (and wannabe neighborhood patrol vigilantes) can do whatever the fuck they want with zero repercussion, so long as it means the NRA gets another talking point and Smith & Wesson’s stock goes up.

    Don’t loot. Vote.

  5. Coincidentally:

  6. It’s really hard to put into words how rage inducing it is that justice wasn’t served. It’s sad that America in the 21st century has had to deal with the return of the poll tax and a string of racially charged murders of African-Americans. It does feel as if on certain fronts the country has regressed in the last fifteen years. Here’s a Washington Post op-ed that I think puts the events of Ferguson into a larger context. I found it insightful.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ferguson-wasnt-black-rage-against-copsit-was-white-rage-against-progress/2014/08/29/3055e3f4-2d75-11e4-bb9b-997ae96fad33_story.html

  7. “Don’t loot. Vote.”

    That’s frustratingly simplistic. We recently overturned key parts of the voting rights act. We have many states trying their best to institute voter ID laws that function, essentially, as poll taxes, which have always disproportionately hurt minority citizens. We have aggressive redistricting to dilute minority voter strength. We bar most of our convicts and ex-convicts from voting, which disproportionately hurts minorities because of course we disproportionately convict minorities. And even if all that weren’t the case, and the vote was freely accessible to everyone, we still have a messed up two-party system where both parties are essentially racist in their commitment to preserving the white power structure.

    So vote, yeah, if you can, but that’s not how things are going to change. What we really need is to organize a real leftist movement/party that can be a viable alternative to the current system.

  8. Body cameras are an invasion of privacy if they record interactions on private property but I’d rather have to file a request to have my private video destroyed if I felt it was filmed improperly then the current situation of having a cop feel that they could shoot/kill black people and say “oh he was bulking up to charge at me” and have dumb idiots believe it (something cop Darren Wilson literally said during his grand jury testimony, as though Michael Wilson was the Black Hulk)

    The reality is that there are 4 basic problems here:

    1) Cop culture has changed for the worse. Cops have militartized heavily, you can read about this in “Rise of the Warrior Cop” by Radley Balko. They now overuse SWAT teams, have a military mindset, and think of themselves as soldiers. They are itching to use this military equipment at any opportunity. They shoot first and ask questions never. Tremendous pressure is put on good cops to hold the line and stay silent about the bad stuff they see in the department.
    2) Prosecutors don’t prosecute cops because they have to work with them and also usually see themselves as “on the same team”. The prosecutor in this case, for instance, wanted to be a cop, and spiked the Grand Jury with “it’s up to you to determine charges” bullshit in the EXACT SAME WAY the last time a cop was arraigned (p.s. he never does this with his ‘normal’ cases) Also, here’s something interesting: most lawyers will tell you that prosecutors are the dumbest most power-hungry lawyers of them all. That’s the kind of people who are attracted to a job where you get to sweat a black teenager by holding years in jail over his/her head until they plead. (prosecutors disproportionally pursue charges against African Americans)
    3) A racist society that basically thinks that black people should be incarcerated, shot, or killed for any reason because they are innately brutish animals with criminal superpowers. This is the thing that enables folks in positions of power to continue doing this consequence free.
    4) Hero worship of cops. They are portrayed as courageous members of the community doing dangerous work, but being a cop is not even a top 10 dangerous job. They are allowed to get away with behaviors and benefits that the rest of us are not. And that’s fine, if misuse of these privileges carried a penalty. Unfortunately, all too frequently any attempt to regulate misuse of cop powers gets a “these guys are heroes” or “I’m sure their intentions were good” or “officer safety” rubber stamp from the community.

    We’re making progress in this country but it’s not a straight line. There’s going to be backlash, and we’re not going to make this country’s baked-in racism vanish overnight. So yes, today is a defeat for people who at least wanted a cop to go to trial for pumping bullets into an unarmed man who most witnesses said was surrendering. So be it. Use this as motivation to try to make the world a better place.

  9. Mouth – the prosecutor absolutely sandbagged it, no doubt in my mind. He may or may not have gotten a conviction at trial, but to not even get an indictment is absurd. The old adage that “a grand jury would vote to indict a ham sandwich” is largely true, because the evidentiary standard is pretty low.

    Just as an aside here, the more I read of Ta-Nehishi Coates, and the more I see of shit like this, the more I agree with him.

  10. Hey “Crushinator Jones”:

    Your post is four paragraphs of misspelled bullshit.

    We’ll start with the most flagrant example of your ignorance. Please go back to posting on some libertarian facebook page, because anyone who cites that warrior cop and it’s Cato-Institute mouthpiece propagandist author? Immediately loses all credibility with the grownups and intelligent people.

    Good christ.

  11. “It does feel as if on certain fronts the country has regressed in the last fifteen years.”

    This is what I’ve been wondering about, I’ve been thinking back around ten years ago, say 2002, 2003, 2004 and I just don’t remember stuff like this going on, obviously I’m not saying it never happened, but it seems to happen constantly now (most recently with Darrien Hunt) and stuff like rioting and looting? with the exception of the unrest caused by Hurricane Katrina I certainly don’t remember anything like what happened yesterday.

    I suspect that times have changed for the worse and I think what’s changed is what Crushinator Jones says, that the whole culture in the police force has become more militaristic, they think and behave more like a pseudo military nowadays than public servants and the insane thing is modern crime rates do not support this kind of change, we are not living in some kind of Robocop esque crime ridden future, crime rates have gone drastically down over the years, more than anyone predicted, so why are police acting like it’s the opposite?

    And what’s the deal with cops going for lethal force at the drop of a hat? shouldn’t lethal force be a last resort? Say I’m Darren Wilson and an unarmed black guy comes up to me and starts punching me, shouldn’t my first response be to start hitting back? Maybe whip out my nightstick, starting hitting him with it, tell him to knock it the fuck off or even go for pepper spray or a taser? (do they still carry those?) my first response should not be to get out my gun and shoot the guy to death six times right? I mean certainly there’s got to be something wrong with this picture?

    If you’re a cop and you can’t take a punch and give a punch then maybe you’re in the wrong line of profession and shouldn’t rely on lethal force as a crutch.

  12. Griff – Obviously a lot of the problems we are dealing with today have pretty extensive roots. The shrinking of America’s middle class and income inequality go back to Thatcher and Reagan, for instance. And race in America has been a problem since its inception. It’s no coincidence that the theory of race as complete and separate biological difference came about around the same time that slavery became an important economic force in America. So in some ways these aren’t new. But I just feel as if the surprising number of unarmed African-Americans killed by police officers recently is stunning. But the callous reaction to these deaths is even worse. Not only do you have Rudy Giuliani using the phrase “you people” and treating African-Americans as a problem to be solved, but you also have plenty of people cheering him on. At best, this is no better than the reaction to the Rodney King beatings of the 90s. It’s like we’ve made zero progress on race in that time.

    There are signs of some progress. Gay marriage is quickly becoming an inevitability and, while not perfect, Obamacare is a step in the right direction. Too bad everything else appears to be falling apart.

  13. Crushinator Jones

    November 25th, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Griff:

    The country is getting worse because the economy is getting worse. This makes the cracks widen, the stresses increase, and the bads get worse. And it’s only going to continue until the general public wakes up (as they did during the Great Depression) and realizes that funneling money into rich people’s pockets doesn’t create jobs or prosperity. One of the biggest jokes in the world is how the rich have convinced people that they are “job creators” when in fact they hate hiring people and only do so when absolutely necessary. Demand is what creates jobs, and demand is driven by spending money on things, which rich people don’t do at the same level that regular middle class/poor people do (note to insane people: rich people save more, a lot more, a ton more, than a regular person. This is well-researched fact so please don’t pretend that they invest all their money in stocks or in their business or whatever excuse Fox News told you. They save a ton and they pass it on to their kids and grandkids mostly tax-free.)

    JD:

    Really great counter-argument there. For the record: I disagree with Radley Balko on just about everything politically, but the book Rise of the Warrior Cop is good reporting as it uses actual statistics, FBI and congressional reporting, and interviews with police (former and current) to support the argument that the police in this country are increasingly militarized. Now I’ve mentioned this before under a different alias (which I had to switch away from because I acquired an online stalker) that this militarization is very obvious and supported by non-partisan statistics and back then you immediately started frothing and screaming invective at me same as now and Vern had to tell you to knock it off (and thanks, Vern). So do everyone a favor and just skip over my stuff because it clearly enrages you. You’re not going to convince me, and you’re not going to convince the people here by calling me a bilge-spewing idiot or whatever insult of choice you spit out, and if it really bothers you that much don’t read it. You’re a typical conservative boot-licker and I don’t care what you have to say or care that it bothers you, I’m writing to people who can still be convinced. Thanks bud.

  14. Crushinator Jones

    November 25th, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    BTW the reason that gay marriage is doing so well, I’m sorry to say, is that it ultimately doesn’t threaten rich people’s profits.

  15. “It’s like we’ve made zero progress on race in that time.”

    I know man, it’s so fucking depressing to think that in almost my entire lifespan we’ve made so little progress.

  16. I guess it’s my own damn fault for posting this and not closing the comments. But after our previous debates here about whether or not it’s okay to murder a child on the streets and receive no legal consequences but be paid money and praised as a hero by insane racist dirtbags, I have found that seeing people I otherwise respect make these despicable arguments makes me want to shut down the websight and jump off a bridge. So I’m gonna stay out of this entirely, but please respect outlawvern.com by not calling each other names like a bunch of silly weinerheads.

    the end

  17. p.s. Not that JD has gone pro-Zimmerman on this thread, I should be careful not to imply that. But I can’t take another second of the “police literally using equipment given to them by the military doesn’t count as militarization” argument.

  18. Okay, Vern. I’ll sit this one out. And I promise to not get drunk and change my mind.

  19. Vern – yeah at times I keep thinking how American cops increasingly remind me more of the future cops depicted in ROBOCOP and Jude Dredd comics…and that’s a scary thought.

  20. John McClaude Van Damme

    November 25th, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    As a law enforcement officer, this saddens me. I agree with many of the points made here. We are NOT heroes. We are people, no better than anyone else. Unfortunately, not every law enforcement officer chooses the career for the right reasons. Even more unfortunately, due to the nature of the job, the poor decisions and actions of those people lead to awful consequences such as this. That being said, please don’t lump all law enforcement personnel into the same group as people like this man. There are still many of us who chose the career to try to have a positive impact on our communities and the people in it, and strive to do that every day.

  21. Reblogging you elsewhere Crushinator Jones, just wanted you to know here that you will be credited there. Great post.

  22. I stopped being shocked or surprised by anything people have to say a long, long time ago. But it still puzzles me that in this information age we live in some still think that there are more than one side to racism, violence, male chauvinism and homophobia. There aren’t. And deep down I think they know that. No, I know so. No one is born a racist or homophobe. It have to be taught. A bit like religion. We all know that there’s no such thing as a god. Still, some of us choose to believe so. Why some people choose to make life miserable for others, that’s the big question. And one we won’t get to the bottom of as long as they choose to give us assholish answers when we ask them.

  23. Hey, sorry if I flew off the handle there you guys. This stuff obviously gets to me. Thank you Christof and thank you John McClaude Van Damme for your post and your screen name.

  24. It’s hard if you’re sure you’re correct, but people are rarely as correct as they are sure about these things. You kinda have to let people just go “This sucks, and I’m really sad” and let people process. I do think it’d have been a good idea for Vern to close the comments instead of only inviting one side in, but it’s his tent and can be as small or big as he wants it to be at any given moment. We don’t need to make any of this any worse by attacking each other.

    @Vern

    I’ve struggled with the black and white issue thing too, and still do. I think you get this, but I’d submit that few things are black and white, especially people, and it’s rarely worth throwing out the whole person or only seeing them as their opinions. This is way easier to pass on than to actually do, but I’ve heard it at the right time before and it helped.

  25. Ah yes. Make sure to vote for either of the people pre-chosen specifically for their ability to support moneyed interests and the status quo. Then change will come somehow.

  26. Crushinator Jones

    November 26th, 2014 at 9:16 am

    John McClaude Van Damme:

    As a critic of cops, I just want to put this on the table: I don’t think cops are innately bad people. In fact a lot of them are supremely excellent. The problem is police culture: the militarization, the support for clearly bad cops from the brass, the reluctance of prosecutors to take action and reliance on jury-stacking, the fact that a good percentage of citizens will reflexively support cops even when they beat a schizophrenic man to death as he shrieks for his father to save him. This increasingly aggressive, militarized, unaccountable culture makes good cops scared and bad cops into monsters. And that’s a real problem, but please don’t read it as an indictment of you personally.

    Phillip:

    This is not entirely true. There’s certainly a lot of blame to be put at the feet of Blue Dog Democrats but the reality is that the non-status quo guys run, but simply don’t win enough. Look at Bernie Sanders. Nobody can accuse him of being a status quo money guy. Nobody can accuse the Progressive Caucus in the House of being status quo money guys. Yet the other 99 Senators/rest of the House essentially make them irrelevant. You need numbers to make change happen, and that’s a slow grind year after year of getting aggressive about presenting your ideas and that’s not something that the Left is particularly good at.

  27. Crushinator Jones

    November 26th, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Vern:

    One last thing, thank you for leaving the comments open. It was a bad day and letting me post a bit about it made me, at least, feel better.

  28. What pisses me off the most is that people really seem to think that Wilson was found innocent. I’m not saying I know what happened (I got a pretty good fuckin’ idea but that’s not important), but a grand jury is not a trial. There was no verdict. A grand jury just decides whether there’s enough question about what transpired to justify a trial, which would endeavor to answer that question. Instead, the question is deemed not worth asking. It gets swept under the rug, and yet so many think that means Wilson has been exonerated.

    I just can’t even talk about this shit or I’m gonna ruin Thanksgiving, which is all anybody cares about anyway. Not the systemic abuse of power, not the instinctual hatred and fear of black men that makes it so easy for so many whites to assume that Brown had to be put down in the street like a rabid dog, not the sizable portion of the populace whose very real frustration and pain is hand-waved away with a “Get over it. I don’t want to think about how fucked up the system that benefits me is so please just die quietly and don’t fuck up my parade.”

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