This is what happens when I get curious

So I decided to look something up. I find the data interesting. Deaths involving vehicles outnumber police deaths by shootings, stabbings, and beatings combined. In fact, if you stack up vehicle related deaths, job-related illnesses (not sure what those are with regards to police work) a cop is nearly twice as likely to die by accident than as a deliberate act of malice. Though one can modify that some by assuming that occasionally when cops are struck by vehicles it’s intentional. It’s just unlikely to be majority of cases.

I can’t think of many other jobs where getting shot is a common hazard. In the US, anyway. Repo operatives, perhaps, might come to expect potential lead flurries. Bodyguards. Certain celebrities. Politicians. Of course, the Secret Service.

But, frankly, there are a lot of jobs that are more dangerous than being a cop. And none of those jobs give people the right to kill others without being held accountable.

So it’s not really that it’s a dangerous job, is it? It’s more some psychological twist that tells us because much of that danger comes from humans, we must automatically assume they need to be able to kill to perform their mission.

We have no chemical agent fast-acting enough to put down a potential threat quickly enough to make a difference. On the other hand, we don’t really have the motivation to develop it either. If you combined something that delivered a set amount of kinetic force and a chemical sedative to stun and then weaken the target, maybe.

It’s interesting that they came up with wonderful non-lethal means of crowd dispersal (pain rays and overt sonic bombardment, as it happpens), but there’s nothing they can do on an individual basis. Because criminals carry guns, all citizens must suffer the possibility of being slain if their interaction with the police doesn’t go well.

They say “Obey and you won’t get hurt.” But that’s not true, is it? What if you can’t obey? What if you don’t hear the command? What if the command is shouted, and confusing, and you don’t know exactly what it was? What if you’re disabled and can’t respond quickly enough? What if the cop mistakes your cane for a gun?

Because they fear for their lives, your life is endangered. Oh, it might not seem like it–especially if you, like me, are a middle-aged white guy. But, then again, I’m a middle-aged white guy with a cane who can’t move very fast, who is as likely to fall out of a vehicle (which could be mistaken for a lunge) as move smoothly, especially if I’m under stress. My muscle don’t obey me as they once did.

So, it might be just my anxiety, but I’d hate to be expected to obey instantly and die because I failed to do so. I’d hate to think my tortured body would become but a toy in a sadist’s hands when my body’s failure to tolerate additional pain became “resistance.”

I worry that my dog, doing her job, might make a cop “fear for his life.” And it doesn’t even matter which dog, since they’ve killed everything from pit bulls to jack russells in defense of their “lives.”

Another thing. Their dogs are police officers. Our dogs are nothing. They’re not family members, they’re not livestock, they’re not worth a moment’s consideration. Need evidence? Search for “dogs shot by cops/police.” Plenty of evidence to be had.

On the other hand, if a cop accidentally kills his partner because he’s a dumbass and leaves the dog in the hot car all day? No worries. THEN it’s a just a dog, right?

One way to give civilians the idea that they’re on a different “side” than the police is to show that the police look out for their own first and foremost, and take their job to “serve and protect” as a second duty. In certain circumstances, that’s understandable. In war one protects one’s fellow soldiers.

Except cops aren’t soldiers, and this isn’t a fucking war.


Everybody Matters

From the tiny child laying in its crib, burbling in happiness, or wailing with hunger, to the arthritic fellow making his way to his mailbox to look for a letter from his grandchildren–from the young woman on the bus taking her from her childhood home to a dream of greatness in the city to the old woman sitting on her porch, cat in her lap, calling cheerfully to the neighbors tending their garden.  From the homeless child sleeping on the school steps to the woman walking down the university steps, diploma in her hand.
From the guy standing in the unemployment line, trying to find another job after his was eliminated or outsourced, to the CEO who gave the order. From the long haired, bearded busker playing guitar at the market, voice raised in a song of hope or despair, to the slick haired concert promoter hob-knobbing with the stars.

Everybody matters.

We are all participants in what was once considered a grand experiment, a society in which we, the people, were all considered equal before the law, that insisted that each of our voices could be heard by those we elected to represent us.

It wasn’t always true, of course, but it was a work in progress. One by one, the barriers were torn down and each segment of society became yet another to join their voices in the song of freedom. We believed that by working hard we could make a better world and a better life for our children.

When we stood and opposed the robber barons, fighting for the right to workplace safety, and the right to see our children to go to school rather than being forced to work alongside us, we did it for everyone. We did it for our children, and the children of our neighbors, and the children that would be born to them as well.

When we went off to fight the tyrant who tried to consume Europe, we did it for those who were dying, and those who were not yet born, because the hope of the future deserved it.

When we stood up against the war in southeast Asia, it wasn’t just for ourselves, but for the children of all Americans, and the people there who also deserved to live in peace, to try to determine their own fate. We didn’t do it because we don’t believe in America, and what it’s supposed to represent, but because we do.

When we protested the dumping of toxic wastes into the earth, the rivers, and the sea, it wasn’t just to protect ourselves, or our own children, but to protect ALL of us, and all our children. When we fought for clean air, it wasn’t to ensure our own breaths, but to ensure that all of us could continue to breathe air that didn’t make us sick. When we stood up against the decimation of forest land, it was so all our children could enjoy the wonders of nature as we had. As our ancestors had.

America is more than a land mass, more than a nation of people. America is an idea. The idea that everybody matters, from the lowest to the highest, that everyone has a right to a decent life, and has a right to watch their children grow up in a world better yet than the one that they themselves remember.

Isn’t that what everyone wants? That their children inherit a world in which more things are possible, in which they have every chance to succeed no matter where they were born and into which walk of life?

That’s the one thing we liberals have been trying to say all along. That the farmer’s daughter in Ohio, or Kentucky, is just as deserving of a chance to succeed in life as the CEO’s son in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. That’s why we stand and fight against those practices and policies that make it that much harder for them. Because if we didn’t, who would?

We believe everybody matters.

Don’t you?

Check your (Face) Privilege

I just encountered someone referring to the oft-mentioned “friend zone” as the expectation that “kindness coins” will get you laid. To be honest, I’ve heard the term from both men and women over the years, and many of them are not what we’d call conventionally attractive.

Now there’s the ultimate privilege, the most insidious, invisible privilege someone might possess. Physical attractiveness. I don’t think there’s any way to gauge how much it can ease a person’s life, if used correctly. It can become a bane in certain circumstances–I’ve known women who claimed it was downright annoying. Like big breasts can lead to a backache, greater than average attractiveness can lead to other kinds of pain.

But people who aren’t attractive who feel relegated to the “friend zone” because they aren’t boyfriend or girlfriend material aren’t just whining. Not all of them, anyhow. They’re not complaining because being nice isn’t getting them laid. They’re complaining because no matter what they do, they’re not going to be good enough. That only the strongest person would choose them with no thought of how others will respond.

I get that all of this seems wrapped up in the overarching misogyny of our society, but let’s admit that this too requires a recognition of nuance, and that being quick to dismiss another’s experience is what we’re fighting against, not on behalf of.

Glibness may be amusing, but it’s rarely helpful.

The Blame Game

Now… Basic Batman lore says the Batman arose in Gotham because the police were too corrupt to do their jobs, so Batman had to do it for them. More or less.

Should I point out that New York City is Gotham and the NYPD is the Gotham City PD? That the model for Gotham came from somewhere? Do I have to?

Is it me, or are the cops acting like bullies–pointing their finger at anyone they think is overly critical of them? The Minneapolis PD tried to railroad their own mayor because she wants to put cameras on them. Cops are pissed at a sports team in their town for daring to wear a tee-shirt that was critical of cops IN ANOTHER PLACE ALTOGETHER. The NYPD disrespected De Blasio for daring to mention aloud what he has to tell his biracial son. Which happens to be the same thing that the police themselves tell people to do to keep from being accidentally killed. “Keep your hands AWAY from your waistband, son.”

Do these people really believe that their best bet here is belligerence? Do they think that hanging an accusation against protesters and critics on such a flimsy arrow as this lone jackass’s supposed reasoning will do them any good in the long run?

I’ve been saying it since it happened. If you’re going to blame Sharpton, Obama, Holder, etc… for this shooting, then we’d best roll back the clock and re-examine what we had to say in the aftermath of the Las Vegas spree killing after two anti-government types left the Bundy Ranch and cruised on up to Sin City, where they ALSO killed two cops, as well as an armed bystander who tried to intercede.

At this point, FOX News and everyone else on their side of the Titanic was shouting how justified everyone was in pointing guns at law enforcement officers. Oh, Bundy and supporters were just exercising his constitutional right to cop an attitude and make threatening gestures at government officials. Oh, wait. That’s not a constitutional right? Could have fooled me.

They were arguing that people could be justified using deadly force against legitimate agents of the law. And two people listened. Went off and tried to start their glorious revolution.

I don’t hear Obama, Sharpton, or anyone else worthy of an ear arguing for killing cops. Or even pointing weapons at them. Obama wants to point cameras at them, which are known to be far less fatal than guns.

It’s not like it’s their first hypocrisy, or even their greatest. It’s a pattern with them and I’m sick of it. These people were associated with a specific right-wing anti-government mindset, the very mindset propagated by FOX News, and yet no one of consequence tried to blame the shootings on THEM.

Enough is enough.

The Ending of Things

The Colbert Report ends this week.  When it started up, no one could ever have imagined how much of a cultural icon the character of Stephen Colbert–as opposed to the actual person of Stephen Colbert–would become.  This is the guy who stood within a few meters of the American President, a deeply unpopular, divisive figure, and mocked him mercilessly, earning a unequivocally cold and angry response from that unworthy, as well as his slavering sycophants.

He became a hero to liberals in that moment, regardless of how they felt about him before.  He did what none of us could do, what none of us would ever have the chance to do, and did it with such aplomb that even the recipient of his razor wit seemed unsure of what was happening, as it was happening.

To think that this character, this persona, could have fooled those who devised the entertainment for the event, tells us everything about Washington DC in a single encapsulated moment in time.  They see little beyond their bubble.  It never occurred to anyone in charge to look beyond the seemingly obvious.  They thought Stephen was an anomaly, a right-winger with an actual sense of humor.  They did not realize the very character itself was satirical.

I’d call it a perfect character assassination, but the fact is that George W. Bush doesn’t have any character to assassinate.  Nor more than does his President of Vice, the un-esteemable Richard “Dick” Cheney, a name that will forever be held to up to the names of Oliver Cromwell, Goebbels, and Rasputin.

Dick the Dick is living on borrowed time, having had another person’s heart stuffed inside his chest because the one he had was defective.  Of course, one is left wondering, was the heart defective, or did the man’s inherent defects harm the heart?

Speaking of ends, that’s one I’m sure people will celebrate.  When Darth Cheney, that evil cyborg, finally shuffles off this mortal coil, the only ones who will mourn are those who knew him personally, who fit in that seemingly small group of people who “should not be tortured.”

I don’t believe Stephen Colbert’s contribution to our political dialogue is over, but I imagine it will change.  I look forward to seeing what this new incarnation of the man–the actual human being–gives us to consider.

Endings are so often beginnings.

Bats in the Belfry

Is it me, or does fandom have a serious anti-kid bias?  I ran across someone bitching about Bruce Wayne on Gotham.  He’s a kid who makes decisions, which tends to make a certain kind of person a bit squirrelly.  Their responses remind me a bit of men back when women were supposed to be dumb and obedient.  The notion of one who wasn’t just offended them.  Therefore the representation of a child who is somehow older than his years is offensive to a certain type of fan.

Personally I’m finding it an interesting departure from our standard “Batman” mythos.  It’s interesting to see Bruce’s education, and it’s clear that this Alfred has a bare-knuckle side to him.  It actually explains a few things about Bruce’s upbringing that didn’t make sense.  But the fact that he’s being PRIMED to become the man he will be by the things we’re seeing in the show is intriguing to me.

I’ve seen it before.  A lot of fans don’t like seeing representations of children that are overly mature.  Maybe it’s because the notion of a child half their age being more emotionally mature than they are at 20 is just plain unsettling.

Yeah, I know.  I’m tweaking their noses.  On purpose.  Why?  Because it annoys me.  I’m tired of listening to people gripe about everything.  If you’re looking for perfection, you’re in the WRONG goddamn universe.  And if you expect YOUR particular perspective to be treated as being more important than anyone else’s, you’ve got an over-inflated notion of your own importance.

People bitch about the stupidest things.  Some jackass was whining that Benedict Cumberbatch has been officially named as Doctor Strange.  Seriously?  What the FUCK is wrong with that choice?  He included a hashtab.  “Notmysorcerersupreme.”

For fuck’s sake, dude, get the fuck over yourself.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  One of the reasons we can’t have a decent Wonder Woman is because the fanboys won’t let anyone update her wardrobe, much less anything else.  You DO understand that one of the great things about all of this is that there are so many different possible interpretations, just as there’s been in the comic books.  Calm the fuck down.

Seeing the woman they’d chosen to play WW the last time playing Mockingbird on Agents of Shield tells me what I need to know.  She could have pull it off.  She’s a handsome woman rather than being simply pretty.  WW doesn’t have to be classically beautiful.  In fact, it might be a good thing if she weren’t.  She should be an icon for all the girls, not just the pretty ones.