Sunday, November 30, 2014

Those "Good Guys"

Was it just two years ago that a crazy boy massacred 26 people, including 20 grammar school children, in a school in Connecticut. And was it just two years ago that the exalted chief of the exalted National Rifle Association came briefly down from his pedestal in the clouds, wearing his East Bloc suit and sporting his bodyguards, to speak briefly with the listening public, no questions allowed please, at this time. Such a short time ago. And yet this fall we've watched his solution in action, as "good guys" with guns blasted away a young man on a cell phone shopping in Walmart for a toy weapon for his kid, and now most recently two more "good guys" blasted away a 12 year old boy playing with a toy weapon in a park in Cleveland.

Mr. LaPierre has made no comment that I've noticed about these events. We are all left to puzzle by ourselves. At my Walmart here in central NC those plastic toy assault rifles are still displayed in stacks on shelves in the toy section, and can be picked up and hefted and pointed by whatever shopper cares to. I didn't see any 1911A style pellet guns at Walmart, but I didn't really search for them--I was there for half-and-half and some burrito shells and only noticed the assault toy by accident. My guess is I could certainly find such a toy here in my little town, somewhere. Perhaps at Western Auto. Of course if I want a real assault rifle or a real 1911A there are three real gun stores to go to. Mr. LaPierre's real work continues. The country shall be so utterly armed that everyone will be afraid of everyone, and this fear will be the legal justification of any and all slaughters so committed, most particularly if the murdered is black.

Meanwhile, in the comments to news stories on the two deaths, many folks say things like "well, you shouldn't be brandishing a toy weapon in a park or in a store," and "he should have listened to the cops and done what they said." Case closed.

Many cases have been closed this fall. Dr. King's theory, about the long arc of history, may still be correct. Let's ask Senator Inhofe, who pronounces on such theories from his fresh new chairmanship of the Energy Committee. While we wait for Mr. Inhofe to tell us what to think, I have a movie for you to watch. It's called "Manufactured Landscapes."

This is a photo Mr. Burtynsky took of a big ship disassembly "plant," which is located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, Chittagong, Bangladesh. The labor is mostly by hand, dangerous, polluting, awful, possibly necessary in the great scheme of things. In the film we also witness the construction of such ships, in China, as well as the construction of many of the things we use here in the west. Mr. Burtynsky is photographing the long arc of history, a wave upon which we're all riding, mostly unawares. Our news media prefers to show us the unedited and unquestioned murmurings of Mr. LaPierre, which punctuate the river of sports programming and other standard fare which is our "mainstream media."

We wait to hear of the next child murder. Christmas is a'commin' down, lud us sing goddam.

Here's a link to information about the Burtynsky film:

Here's a surprising statistic (from Talking Points Memo):

Hard numbers are hard to come by, but Levenson and others agreed that it is exceedingly rare for a police officer to be indicted for a homicide committed in the line of duty. Convictions are even rarer. The FBI reported 410 justifiable homicides by law enforcement in 2012. The number of indictments appear to be minimal after a TPM review of available press reports. A 1979 study found three convictions out of the 1,500 police killings it studied over a five-year period.” (From a comment in ) Dr. Halbo untangles some of the quandaries in the Ferguson case. He writes from the far perspective of Singapore.

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