Current Events: This Has to Stop

Inside: The politics of the status quo; Dying in the line of duty; Fear and loathing; The worst of us are defining the debate/reality

Be careful out there, everyone. Tensions are running high.

What the hell is wrong with people? This is a tragedy all the way round.

It’s bad enough when some unhinged nutcase kills people. Threatened suicide, shot his ex-girlfriend twice in the abdomen, drove from Baltimore to New York and gunned down two police officers and then shot himself in the head when he was confronted in the subway. Eff him.

Then people spout off nonsense for political points.


The police union guys aren’t helping. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt

and assume that they’re very emotional. I admit that I don’t understand their role or official standing because public statements that inflammatory seem unprofessional and designed to raise tensions and yet … that’s kind of what these guys do. Maybe police officers feel under siege at all times. They’re out on the streets interacting with the most dangerous and despicable among us.

When stuff goes down they’re the ones running towards screams, panic, gunshots, fires, explosions, etc. They get up and go to work every day knowing there’s a distinct possibility that they may not come home.

Whenever we’re in danger that’s who we call and expect to be there as quickly as possible.

They often have only a split second to make life death decisions. They’ve seen people do incomprehensible things so all of our Monday morning quarterbacking often doesn’t add up.

I’ve never been in that situation myself but intellectually I get it. I empathize as much as I can.

But come on. Like I often say, if you love something you want it to be its best. You want it to reach its potential for goodness and greatness and effectiveness. You can respect the police and gallantry of the NYPD, especially in times of crisis, and still acknowledge and want to rid it of corruption and abuse. You can want the police force to be present and effective and still see stop and frisk policies as unconstitutional.

What we’re witnessing and hearing is not constructive loyalty. It’s a reactionary, defensive circling of the wagons. They refuse to be criticized.

Let me quote Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s not an authority on law enforcement as far as I know but his editorial hit the nail on the head:

“In a Dec. 21, 2014 article about the shooting, the Los Angeles Times referred to the New York City protests as “anti-police marches,” which is grossly inaccurate and illustrates the problem of perception the protestors are battling. The marches are meant to raise awareness of double standards, lack of adequate police candidate screening, and insufficient training that have resulted in unnecessary killings. Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is. Trying to remove sexually abusive priests is not an attack on Catholicism, nor is removing ineffective teachers an attack on education. Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them, are the enemy. And any institution worth saving should want to eliminate them, too.”

All of these conservative pundits who refuse to distinguish between protesters and rioters, between calls for justice and equality and a few unhinged individuals are either being willfully deceptive for cynical political manipulation of your emotions, or do not have the ability to see the humanity massing in front of their eyes. What’s the word for that?

They’re trying to blame this on Mayor de Blasio, Al Sharpton, President Obama, and anyone else who has every publicly said that there’s room for improvement. It’s disgusting. Any organization that claims to be beyond reproach and is so vehemently defensive is symptomatic of corruption, in my opinion.

Having said that — again — please do be careful out there all of you in law enforcement. When these unhinged people go they fixate their homicidal intent on whatever their hang ups are. Often it’s women, bosses, co-workers, in-laws, law enforcement, the military, another race, another gender, another sexual orientation.

Also be careful all of you who are in the streets protesting and peacefully but firmly confronting law enforcement. Look out for each other. Don’t escalate into violence or even violent rhetoric, please.


I was appalled this morning to hear a host on a black radio show this morning say that he had no sympathy for the police officers who were killed. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I’m interpreting that as resenting the media’s humanizing and sympathizing for the officers who were murdered while erasing the humanity of young black and brown men who represent America’s underclass. Also resenting the outpouring of emotion for the slain officers, Liu and Ramos, while pretty much ignoring the woman, Shaneka Thompson, who the guy shot a few hours earlier.

A lot of these conservative mouthpieces aren’t mentioning Thompson at all. It’s almost like her life doesn’t matter. (She’s expected to survive and recover, last I heard.)

It reminds me of the official — a white man in law enforcement — who did an interview about Tamir Rice and refused to refer to the twelve year old boy who was shot by the police while playing with an air soft rifle in a park as anything but “the male”. That’s how young black guys are treated in the news even when they’re the victims (of police or each other).

If my benefit-of-the-doubt interpretation of the radio host I mentioned above is incorrect then that’s an asshole thing to say.

There was a recent article about graffiti in Philadelphia(?) that says: “Cops lives don’t matter.”

Make no mistake. There are some very angry and disaffected black people out there. The same way that there are some very angry and disaffected white people out there. They tend to have those ubiquitous, nebulously defined “mental issues”.

The difference is that when those very angry and disaffected white people carry their guns around and even point them at law enforcement they’re seen as standing up for their rights. When they do cross the line and kill people, including police officers, they somehow manage to be taken alive. If they manage to avoid capture long enough they become legends and romantic, in a literary sense, outlaws. That’s the way it seems, at least. Prove me wrong.

My point is that these agitated individuals are going to act out. Seeing other people act out will trigger them to act out.

I don’t — and the vast majority of people don’t — want to see any lives lost. The whole point of the protests is to stop people from being killed. It’s to stop the needless violence. It’s to stop the escalation of minor infractions and encounters into life and death situations.

If you can not see the humanity of another individual because other people belonging to the same group have done wrong — if you choose to refuse to see it for the sake of rhetoric — you’ve got issues. You may be in danger of overdosing on toxic amounts of irony. Plus you’re not helping.

You can’t claim to want justice if you choose to be a bigot.

Eric Garner’s daughter gets it. She visited the memorial for Liu and Ramos. While some cops are faux counter-protesting and mocking her father’s death by wearing “I can breathe” shirts, she’s displaying some actual humanity and compassion.



The assholes and lunatics are a small percentage of us all. We’re allowing them to shape the debate and our reality because they appeal to our emotions — prejudices, fears — and confirm our narrow, self-reinforced world views.

This has to stop.

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