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Some thoughts on Rayshard Brooks and force

Thursday 6/18/20

I just watched the Rayshard Brooks footage. I don't normally watch things like this. I never do. People post videos all the time of violence, fights, and I don't think that does me any good to sit there and watch it, like a viewing experience. I think it's a quick way to lose respect for life. Certain things, I believe, need to retain their shock value.


I see this country heading towards a real race war. I think people who are constantly being accused of things they don't do, and they don't stand for, by a lot of opportunists, a lot of people riddled with hate and self-hate and ignorance, are eventually going to say, "enough." Especially as they lose their homes, their ability to provide for their family. We've moved past 1984-territory in my view. We don't debate, we don't try to bring about change through any other means than a kind of mob-based digital terrorism and what's tantamount to a form of rhetoric-based (and cliche-laden) rape. Subjugation. When you only coerce by fear, you're not going to have change. You might have lip-service, and things might look a certain way--for a bit. (And people and companies wanting to hold on to what they have, regardless of what they believe or view as right. They know what to say here in the age of what I call banner-ism; simple people who go in wanting to see a certain thing are going to assume that what is expressed is what is believed, and it often doesn't work like that.) But you're really building up greater reserves of tension and anger that are going to burst out later. Not long later--soon enough later. And there are scores of people hustling a buck right now and using morality as their smoke screen. People can't go after them or call them out, because of the mob. If you are a hypocritical opportunist, never have you had a time so ripe for fiscal profit than here in our time. Or political profit. Or cheap, lazy clicks. You know the side of the street to be on, regardless of what you believe or think is right (which is neither here nor there), you know the bromides to say, and you work it and them.


As for Brooks and his outcome? What he did as a person--and he was clearly a horrible person, who physically abused his own children--doesn't play into what happened that night at that Wendy's in terms of it should have happened or not. It's not a, "well, he was a career criminal" thing any more than it is a "he was the best ever person" thing. I don't believe we kill people unless we have to and it is in a line of duty, when another line has been crossed within that context of duty. So, one kills in war, for example. (Though I would not--I would have left the country during Vietnam; I will not kill another human being. But if you do try to trip me in the Monument when I am coming down, and you are an adult male, I will lay you out with my shoulder as I am coming back up. These are very different things. I miss the Monument.) I don't believe in the death penalty. I don't think we decide, when someone is isolated away from the community, where they can hurt no one else, that we have the right to end human life. I don't think that is a human's call. I think making that call takes some of your humanity from you. I believe the purpose of life is to discover, retain, and grow your humanity and help others do the same. I think that is why art is as important as it is. I think that's why what the publishing system has become is a true crime against humanity as I view the entire point of human life.


People will say that the media doesn't try to manipulate you. It's most of what the media does. I've been doing what I do for almost a quarter of a century. I live this. I see how it works. It's my day in, day out life. So of course I'm not surprised when the media presents this story as dedicated and decent family man shot just because he pulled over at a fast food joint on account of being incapacitated (like he was doing the right thing for his fellow man). They make it sound like he was off to the side, not in the drive-through lane. The cops had to come. What else could have happened? Then you see some independent bloggers pull up the truth about this man. You can do this on your own, if you're interested. I'm not doing it here. But this was a bad guy. He violated probation, and when he realized the cops were about to learn that, meaning he was going back to jail, he went into attack and flee mode. The media didn't present any of this that way. What this comes down to is where you believe the line is for using deadly force. It's that simple. Let's say you're a cop, someone attacks you with a baseball bat, hits you in the head, the bat breaks on your skull, they drop it, they start to run, you're somehow still conscious, you shoot them. Is that murder? At what point do you stop being their protector? Their shepherd? When they physically attack you? What can they do to you before you say, "enough"? How much of a physical attack do you need to be tolerant of? At what point do you decide that they could hurt someone else who is not you?


There was a time in this country where if you attacked a cop, you got shot. There wasn't a lot of wiggle room. Watch any mid-century crime film. Note how quickly cops shoot people when attacked. This was permissible in film because that's how society at the time knew these things to be. It was not incongruous. When you're at a theater now and one of those old films is playing, the audience is audibly shocked when cops start firing; they don't understand the context of that time and what changes there have been. One solution, at earlier points, was not to attack cops. Do I think many cops are horrible? Yes, of course. Many people are horrible. I think many cops are prone to violence and use violence when they can--a head bouncing off a wall, a stick to the gut. Off-stage. Where no one can see. Give many people power and a gun and they'll be more horrible. That's human nature, more than ever. As we devolve. And make no mistake of it, we are devolving.


But what about the cop two years ago--Michael Chesna--who hesitated, had a violent criminal throw a rock at him, cracking in his skull and rendering him unconscious? The criminal then took Chesna's gun and shot him with it multiple times while he was prone and out cold. You don't think that that cop was thinking about what might happen to him and his family if he used deadly force on this guy? You don't think he was thinking about the mob? That cost him his life. And he did not seem to be a horrible person. Maybe he was. Who knows. You hardly ever know.


I'm watching angry people seething in hate pull down statues of Winston Churchill and they have no idea who he is. People like to destroy. Make destruction allowable, and they like that even more. Make destruction make them into heroes, and that's better yet. Make destruction make them into heroes and great people? Why, there you go. That is how many of us are now. That is human nature, and it's especially 21st century human nature, and it's especially social media age human nature. That's what you are seeing. If you were an alien race watching us from afar, you'd think we were insane, you'd think you could send down the JV squad to conquer us with our rage and our tiny, ignorant minds. Our simple, manufactured, base, seething passions that come one week, go another, depending upon what is in fashion in terms of Twitter-morality.


As for the cops at the Wendy's, the fact that they guy was shot in the back is going to be a big part of this. Guns have been a huge part of this country's history, and right from the get-go, back-shooting has been viewed as the ultimate no-no. It never looks justified. Or almost never.


It also troubles me how people gloss over the drunk driving thing. Obviously you should not be shot for drunk driving, but so many people die because of drunk drivers every year. A car is a gun--it's worse than a gun--if you're drunk. You potentially wipe out sweet, innocent people. Kids just starting their lives. And people talk about drunk driving like it's no big deal. You are a selfish, dangerous, potentially deadly person if you are someone who drinks and drives. There is no excuse for it.


Everything is very ugly and twisted and sad right now, isn't it? And this is just what we're talking about. There is so much that is ugly and twisted and sad that we are not talking about, which is hidden and greenlit by aspects of our culture, by apathy, by not enough people knowing yet.