wow. i'm feeling a little of the trauma just from watching it on MSNBC, which has been covering ferguson intensively since the beginning. (bad dreams--the other night i dreamed i was at a football game or some other big group assembly, and a guy was pointing a rifle at me.) i can't imagine the dreams/nightmares undergone by people who are actually there or who have strong aka connections to the place.
it's encouraging to see that the police chief and the mayor of st. louis are apparently learning from the ferguson authorities' stupidity, not to do the same thing. this may only be clever politicking, but it's at least a bit more thoughtful than the apparent knee-jerk reactions of the locals and the county. it's almost as if the ferguson chief set out deliberately to make the situation as bad as possible. i do believe it's true that when you outfit police like soldiers they begin to think of waging war on the citizenry rather than being public servants and protector. yet more horrible harvest of the wars on drugs and on terror, which only serve to cause more terror. this militarization of police has got to stop. the USA is occupied territory now, and i don't know what it will take to get our freedoms back.
and i'm speaking from a bastion of white privilege. can't imagine what it's like to be black and have to deal with this shit all one's life. it doesn't take a whole lot of soul-searching to realize that i have been privileged as an immigrant from the UK as immigrants from many other countries have not. the quota system was still in effect in 1947 when i came to this country. and there was an agreement between the US and the UK that immigrants could retain dual nationality, so i could still travel on a british passport if i wanted to. and thus i have been privileged in ways that many native-born americans can never hope to be. (not to mention native americans!)
still, the turmoil in ferguson, as well as the shit that is happening worldwide, is deeply disturbing to me. all i can think to do is to burn the occasional candle and dedicate the merit of daily practice to ferguson, and express a hope for peace to all beings. not very practical, but better than ignoring the whole thing, as some are able to do. hands up, don't shoot...
In the end, this all comes down to the advent of 24/7 media and the need to have something, ANYTHING, to film, expound upon, repeat, interpret and generally escalate, until how could anybody not believe that all cops are thugs and jackboots? We're fed a constant stream of things that go wrong in the world, even though the vast, VAST majority of things that happen in the world are not the way they're being trumpeted and portrayed. If it bleeds, it leads, right? Nobody wants to hear the good parts. Who can blame people for becoming somewhat paranoid, when all they hear about are the single incidents of violence or improper actions.
I'm not for a moment condoning the actions of the Ferguson police. However, I think people forget about the existence of a branch of law enforcement called Internal Affairs. Their job is to monitor and police the activities and behavior of enforcement personnel under their jurisdiction. IA in Ferguson has its hands full, right now. Do not for a moment believe that these escalations will go un-investigated and/or punished. People live in fear? Well, so do cops. I've been hearing talk shows, where police officers have been expressing their frustration at the image people want to have of them. Many have said they are considering turning in their badges, because this kind of disrespect and abuse isn't worth it. Maybe if the media were willing to provide some statistics on the number of cops who do get disciplined or fired for inappropriate reactions, then some of this would cool down. But that wouldn't be "newsworthy," would it.
Huh. That wasn't my experience when I was a law enforcement officer. We all lived in fear of Internal Affairs investigations. They were quick, thorough and ready to mete out punishment as needed. What they didn't do was blab their business all over the media. So, often, the public isn't aware of the final disposition of a particular case.
I've noticed that, when I read or hear about a spectacular case in the news, I almost never hear about how it came out. Seems like that part isn't newsworthy. All the roaring and screaming is over, and I guess nobody really cares, after that. Say there's a story about a hit and run driver flattening a bicycle rider. First-page above the fold news. Outrage over bike riders in traffic, as well as over careless drivers who hit bikers. Then poof. It's old news. Did they ever catch the driver? Who knows? Moving right along to the next sensational story. People are responsible for this phenomenon, not cops. But it's circular, because it riles up the public sensibilities, who demand more of the same, etc. Once in a while you'll come across a little weekly newspaper devoted to positive, uplifting news stories, but the paper doesn't last long. Nobody wants to read the good stuff. Somebody like CNN actually gets criticized for day after day coverage of the plane crash.
Panic, or a need to assert dominance? I'm not so certain. I don't know him. But there's a growing rift between the two solitudes of the police and everyone else which needs to be addressed.
The two are not necessarily incompatible. When my dog is scared, she is aggressive and tries to be dominant.
Your dog hates black people, too!
My dog *is* black!
Amusingly, though, the one dog in the neighborhood that she *hates* is a big white Samoyed. His owner jokes that my dog is a racist.
I'd just like to point out that "the police" is hardly one, unanimous body. There are many law enforcement agencies and each region is very different. This means not only is each LEO a human, but they are dealing with different attitudes as well as different general experiences. This influences how they deal with a situation. I think this fact is being forgotten by a lot of people when discussing this. Any time you generalize "the police" you are grouping all the good and bad together, and generalizations are never fair.
? ok, Andy Summers is a great guy, but Stewart Copeland and Sting are dicks.
My comment is about how there is a growing difference between LEOs and citizenry. We're seeing police officers can't distinguish demonstrators from rioters from reporters. But these LEOs have tanks. Unchecked power scares me.
But LEO doesn't equal "police". There are several agencies that don't lways work together. Police, sheriff, FBI, State BI, border patrol, highway patrol. They all have their own chain of command, beaucracies, and for lack of a better word, cultures. It's not meant to be unchecked power.
2014-08-21 10:20 pm (UTC)
I'm actually using your posts and Ferrett's to try to teach myself to think. After a lifetime of being told "authority knows best, don't question" it's difficult without an example.
2014-08-22 02:03 am (UTC)
Gosh, thank you!
2014-08-22 10:24 am (UTC)
Don't forget about the Satanists that were supposed to be everywhere, conducting human sacrifices. That was a "nice" one as well.
Whatever you think, however you feel about the man, Micheal Moore hits the nail right on the head when he contrasts the US and Canada at the end of Bowling for Columbine and blames a lot of the problems with gun culture on the culture of fear that seems to be part of the American psyche. This just another piece of that particularly nasty puzzle.
The disconnect between actual statistics and public perception is another thing that needs a lot of attention. It's not just crime, it's also about things like income disparity, immigration, it's just about anything. This is why populism, and all forms of pandering to public opinion, are so problematic. Specially when they're systemic. Most of the time it leads to decisions that have no basis in reality.
In other words: what you said. And more so.
Concluding: I'm quite surprised we managed to make it this far without ending up blowing ourselves up.
Some days I sort of wish we'd just get on with it so the planet would be rid of our stupidity.
We pay attention to life-threatening danger. It's a deep, deep survival instinct from the time where those who didn't notice the tiger quickly enough got eaten by it.
There's no benefit to playing the odds, here. Better to assume the stick is a snake and run (no harm, no foul) than to assume the snake is a stick (fatal snakebite), so this instinct has nothing to do with odds.
So if someone wants to get our attention, say perhaps because they want us to watch the commercial that comes on next? Well, the best way is to pretend you're a tiger. "The five items in your kitchen right now that could kill you! Film at 11."
So we watch because we nearly have to, and we don't absorb the odds, and why does anyone wonder why we think the world is much, much more dangerous than it is?
Interesting. You got to the same conclusion I did, but you gave the sheeple way more credit than I do. If it bleeds, it leads, to me, indicates a mass craving for sensationalism. The idea of instinct never entered my mind. Huh.
But yeah, either way, it comes down to 24/7 news reporting of anything awful. The soft stuff is ignored. The inevitable conclusion is that the world is going to hell. Every man for himself.
Well, I don't know that I'm giving anyone more or less credit than you are. It seems to me that I'm just looking at the next question: why does sensationalistic journalism succeed? And I am not claiming that I've come to an original conclusion on that point.
On the other hand, this interpretation at least allows for the good spin conclusion that things are in fact much better than they seem. The bad spin conclusions will be left as an exercise for the reader. :-)
A good point, but something counterproductive at this point since it is getting people killed.
I'm a bit puzzled by your response, which makes me think I wasn't expressing my point well. Because I agree that this is a problematic feature of people's psychology, yet you introduced that idea with "but," which makes me think you think I disagree.
Anyway, I don't. Disagree, that is.
I think the razor blade stories were invented so people would buy candy rather than make it.
Excellent post, one I agree with completely.