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Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 04:30 AM PDT

Coloring the Symbol of a Man

by Satyrblade

A leader - especially an elected leader - is a symbol of whatever that person leads. And some people, whether they consider themselves racists or not, just cannot bring themselves to see President Obama as a symbol of "their" country.

Colors, too, are symbolic. The spectrum of illusions in our heads play out in grand dramas far beyond the brain-processed reflection of light upon surfaces. Black becomes Evil; white becomes Good... and the reverse becomes true in lands and cultures where paleness or darkness of complexion denote either health or decay. In many African cultures, for example, white becomes the color of death - not only because of slave-trades and conquerors, but because dark skin, drained of blood, becomes pale. In similar fashion, pale skin grows dark when it rots. And so, our cultures play out strange dramas of the Other based on nothing more than an illusion of light upon skin cells.

And yet, those dramas become pervasive. Pervasive enough to send the wold's most powerful nation into spasms of self-destruction.

There's lots of talk these days about revolution - not mere changes of direction, but of gunfire and fratricide unseen since the Civil War. [1] A judge in Texas and Republican leaders in Virginia have threatened violent uprisings if the vote does not go their way. Shootings have raddled the nation on both ends of the political divide, and fading rock and country  stars prop up the last vestiges of their popularity by inciting die-hard crowds to cheer for the death of the man they feel has usurped "their" country:  

The dark-skinned man in the white-painted house.  

This situation is so pervasively absurd that the challenger to that Oval Office can refer to Obama's "un-American"-ness and then make bald-faced denials that he was sounding a dog whistle for racist votes.

It would be humorous if it wasn't so tragic.

The idea that the most powerful nation in human history could be ripped apart by the racist heritage that built it is Shakespearian in its gross poetry. The idea that the appeals to the raging white "patriots" would be marshaled by foreign tycoons - one of them a blood relation to the mastermind of 9/11 - should be comical in its irony. It could be argued that we had this coming to us, that the nation forged on the genocide of its native people and the forced labor of dark-skinned imports deserves to have its tombstone carved by racial strife.

But under all our colors, we are simply human beings - fallen angels in the skins of apes, torn between the demons we conjure and dismiss at will. And at the center of all this furor is a man and his family striving to symbolize a better future than that end.

It's been said by critics on both sides of the political divide that President Obama is a disappointment. Of course he is. How could he possibly be anything else? Simply by existing, he carries the symbolic weight of 500 years on his shoulders. He is, in many ways, a sacrifice to the future of America. It can't be easy being in his shoes... much less as easy as he often makes it look. He is, for better and worse, perhaps the finest example of grace under pressure ever to inhabit the Oval Office. It's easy to misjudge that grace for callousness, but the man's history - before and after his election - points out that misjudgment for what it truly is.

All this nonsense - and it IS nonsense - about birth certificates and Manchurian candidates and "taking back my country" and "restoring the promise of America" and Evil Left-Wing Muslim Nazi Socialist Maoist Marxist Antichrist [2] conspiracies and every other idiotic thing that even ostensibly intelligent people are accepting as gospel reveals the truth: The idea of a dark-skinned man as the symbol of our country scares a lot of people literally out of their senses.

It goes both ways, too. I've seen a lot of liberals/ progressives/ whatevers frothing at the mouth because Obama is somehow "not really black," that he's a traitor to the change and hope he most certainly embodies because he's not liberal in the way they THINK he should be liberal. Some folks think he must be a demon because he's dark-skinned, while others expect him to be a saint.

He is neither. He's a president.

And meanwhile, he stands at the center of the greatest propaganda war in American history - perhaps the largest in world history outside of the grand dramas of World War II. A mass media machine that draws its profits from fear and division has fixated on the man since before he reached the Oval Office. Charges so ridiculous they defy description are blasted and twisted across TV screens and computer monitors at all hours of the day and night. These charges bear no connection to reality at all. Like colors or symbols, they are figments of the human imagination, lacking any form of reality outside a person's head.

To be sure, the man has done some terrible things. Like any national leader, he lives each moment with the awful arithmetic of moral consequence. It's his job to hold the nation together - to do what appears to be the best thing for the largest number of people given the data and materials available to make that choice. No one, of any creed or ethnicity, can be right all the time in such a position. Indeed, history often remembers best the leaders who did the worst things for the best reasons.

And yes - I believe that President Barack Obama will be one of those leaders... and, I hope, for the better reasons, not the worse ones.

His critics see, in his dark yet multicultural complexion, the face of their fears. He cannot really be an American because, by his own admission, he "doesn't look like those other guys on the dollar bills." The future always looks scary when it's happening... and when a potent narrative has been spun around an Apocalypse that never came, that fear seems all the more pervasive. [3] Given a literal change of face, the nation must be either on its last legs or ready to leap into a new and glorious era.

But maybe he's just a man.

We silly humans spin vast mythologies to make sense of the images in our heads. Some of us (like me) even make our livings sharing those images with other people. Sometimes, though, it's vital to step back from the Passion Play and see what's really going on. Because when you put aside the asinine conspiracy theories and expectations of sainthood, the President of the United States has some very serious shit on his plate: climate change, economic crises, a dizzying network of international diplomacy... oh, yeah, and a war his predecessor started roughly ten years ago. [4]  

We might want to, as Franklin said, hang together before we strangle ourselves with the rope. Because our future will not be determined by one human leader; it may, however, be determined by who we choose to acknowledge in that leader's place.

So let's be real. President Obama neither demon nor angel. He's a human being, a politician no less, and one whose very existence is defined by being a symbol even as he strives to be a good man in an impossible situation. He does bad things, good things, and things that we will never even see because that's what ALL leaders must do if they are to lead, especially in times of distress. President Obama has inherited not only one of the biggest economic and diplomatic shitstorms in U.S. history but also the unflagging 24/7/365 hate campaign from people whose very livelihood depends upon division and strife.

And if he did not have dark-colored skin and a funny name, we wouldn't be having three quarters of the arguments we're having about anything other than real-life problems.

Simply by being the man/ symbol that he is, President Obama embodies a monumental change - and yes, a hope for the future - in the cultural history of the United States.

Some people refuse to accept that the future no longer looks like them.

And that's their loss. Because the future's here whether you like it or not, and it never looks the way you think it should.

_________
FOOTNOTES
_________

1. Personally, I feel there have been four "American revolutions"; the famous one in 1776; the upheavals shortly afterward that replaced the founding ideals of confederation with the unified Federal Constitution; the War Between the States; and the Civil Rights revolution that began shortly after World War II and continues even today.

2. This may be the single stupidest list of self-contradicting accusations in the history of propaganda. Why aren't more people laughing at it?

3. It's also being promoted by lots of people who are still scoring vast financial and social profits off the idea that - from Apocalyptic Christians to Maya-obsessed New Agers - the world is coming to an immanent end.  

4. Remember when conservative pundits and politicians declared it treasonous to attack the president during a time of war? Man, that idea sure went out the window fast...

Discuss

As several people - including my father and a few friends - have asked me, "Why do gays want to MARRY? Why not have civil domestic partnerships and let things go at that?"

Because a domestic partnership is not legally or socially respected as a marriage.

Domestic partnerships are recognized or withdrawn at the convenience of whomever chooses to recognize or withdraw them... a fact evidenced by North Carolina's Amendment One, which technically invalidates all domestic partnerships, regardless of the orientations of the people involved.

As I said yesterday [1] with regards to Amendment One, once again - as in California and elsewhere - one group of people decided to withdraw rights from another group of people through popular vote.

And that is an abomination to the entire ideal behind the United States.

Period.

END. OF. STORY.

Now, I understand why some people may find the idea of gay sex challenging. I have sympathy for people who feel the world is changing in strange and sometimes unsettling ways. Those feelings make sense. Nevertheless, it is not reasonable to deny essential civil rights to your fellow human beings just because the idea might feel challenging to you. Personal disgust may once have been considered a reasonable criteria for denying rights to people or different religions, genders or skin colors, but it no longer is. Not here. Not in 21st century America. And thank everything holy for that fact.

The various generalized assumptions about "what homosexuals want" or "what gays do" make perfect illustrations for why such accusations destroy the fabric of a civil society. And if the reason why is not immediately obvious, here's a demonstration:

Suppose I argued that "all Catholics want" to molest children. I mean, there's unquestionable and overwhelming proof that Catholic priests have molested kids, and that Catholic authorities have covered it up, and so therefore the exact same argument can be made about Catholic pederasty as can be made about gay marriage.

If you're Catholic, do YOU want to molest children? Of course not (I hope...). Do all Catholics want to molest children? What an absurd, offensive idea.

And yet, THE EXACT SAME LOGIC - complete with accusations of pederasty - is being used to define "what homosexuals want"... and being used to deny rights and even humanity to a group of citizens as a result. If I were to convince a majority of my fellow citizens that all Catholics want to molest children, and we put it to a vote, and the result of that vote was to have all Catholic children taken away from their parents by force of law, would that be legally, morally or factually right? Would it be good for society as a whole?

Of course not.

Nor is it right to deny gay people similar rights because of the same kind of factually incorrect slander.

And yet, that is exactly what happens if and when someone in authority is confronted with a "domestic partnership" he or she does not agree with: Whatever rights may be involved are immediately revoked. Children are taken from their parents. Partners are refused hospital visitation. Wills are invalidated. Benefits are denied. Inheritances are confiscated. People are banned from funerals. It happens EVERY SINGLE DAY, and it is wrong. Corrosive to our society, and from the simple human perspective, unspeakably WRONG.

Ideally, laws exist because someone or something is being abused, and that abuse needs to end because such abuse harms society. When one group of citizens, taxpayers, contributors to the society - be they blacks, gays, Latinos, women, Catholics, whatever - may have their lives curtailed, their freedom revoked [2], their property seized, their humanity crushed by legal fiat for no reason other than another group's distaste for their existence, SOCIETY IS HARMED AND THE ABUSE MUST END.

And thus, laws to end such discrimination are passed.

These are not "special laws." They are not "privileges." They are necessary methods to protect a society's citizens from one another.

In a nation like ours, laws exist to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority... and although they were rather bad at real-life applications of that principle when it pertained to blacks, women, Native Americans, and - yes - even Catholics, that ideal goes back to the Founding Fathers themselves. It has taken us over two centuries to gain the promises of the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence for ALL American citizens, but the promises are there. [3]

And honestly, I give not one flying fuck if one group of people's 4000-year-old law code can be interpreted as an eternal condemnation of another group of people's humanity. The faithful can believe such things if they like (picking and choosing, of course, which of those law codes to take as gospel and which to discard), but I refuse to have my nation bound by those beliefs. Period. Point-blank. No.

We are not talking about prohibitions against theft or murder within the society - prohibitions found in any society's codes of law. [4] We're talking about the laws in which a group of people is demonized simply for existing.

Meanwhile, as a society, we're clearly not passing laws that make us stone rape victims to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24), kill children who talk back to their parents (Exodus 21:17, Mark 7:10, etc.), let us take foreign women as sex-slaves (Deuteronomy 20: 10-14), or invalidate debts every seven years (Deuteronomy 15:1). Why, then, do we have such maniacal - and yes, they are delusional, irrational and often violent... and thus by definition maniacal - obsessions about the humanity of gay people?

Saying "Well, my holy book says so" is not a valid argument in this society.

If you want to make laws that way, move to Iran.

As the song says, "This land is your land, this land is my land." Whether certain people wish to accept it or not, gay and lesbian citizens are "you" and "me" as well. It is their land, too. Gay people work for it, pay for it, fight for it and often die for it. To say that gays can't then share in it is an affront to the very meaning of a civil society.

-------------------
Beholdest Thou the Inevitable Footnotes
-------------------

1. This issue isn't about Teh Gayzz(tmOMG). It's about whether or not one group of citizens can deny or revoke the rights of others. It's about whether hate for The Other can be allowed as a tool of civil government. It's about how human beings are denied vital things - things like hospital visitation, medical coverage, child-rearing and far more - on no basis except selected verses from a Bronze Age law code. It's about whether or not Americans can and should decide, through force of law, to reduce the freedoms of their fellow citizens. And to all of those things and more, I say NO. (https://www.facebook.com/phil.brucato, 5/10/2012)

2. When you can be arrested and charged with a crime because a group of voters in your home state said that you can't have the right to request a marriage certificate, then your rights are subject to arbitrary fiat.

And let no one even start with the "She wasn't arrested for trying to get married - she was arrested for trespassing" argument. The irony of people howling about their First and Second Amendment rights before turning around and denying those same rights to their fellow citizens infuriates me to near-violence. It's a very old double-standard, and I am sick to death of it.

3. Various people argue that the historical precedent of cultural taboos against homosexuality support the invalidation of gay rights. But yet, cultural standards of history, law and so forth are changeable. Slavery, genocide, human sacrifice and other things we now consider abhorrent were (and in some places still are) considered perfectly valid by the cultural and often religious standards of their time. And yet, we as a species have changed those standards with regards to those institutions... often because science or experience had shown us that they are damaging to the human animal, society and spirit.

It's time to change this standard, too... and for exactly the same reason.

4. - Don't even get me started about how every society ignores those prohibitions when they apply to other societies; I may start quoting Samuel and Deuteronomy, and that'll get ugly...

Discuss

Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 07:25 AM PST

Congress: No Means NO

by Satyrblade

The words NO LAW are as simple as they are unequivocal. They do not tolerate exceptions. They do not include phrases like "except around federal buildings" or "€œunless someone important might be nearby." The words NO LAW are stark and uncompromising. So when both parties and both houses of congress take it upon themselves to ignore these stark words in the first provision of our Constitution, it falls to us to remind them that NO means NO.

The word "œunconstitutional"€ is thrown around all too freely. However, in the case of
H.R. 347, the "Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,"€
 that word applies.

This bill, sponsored by Florida congressmen Thomas Rooney (R ) and Ted Deutch (D ), was  "held under a suspension of the rules to cut debate short and pass the bill, needing a two-thirds majority. This usually occurs for non-controversial legislation."

Non-controversial? Really?

The bill'€™s establishing paragraph, Section 1, reads as follows:

Section 1752 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
-`Sec. 1752. Restricted building or grounds
`(a) Whoever:
`(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so;
`(2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;`
(3) knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or
(4) knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds;or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
(b) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) is:
`(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if:
`(A) the person, during and in relation to the offense, uses or carries a deadly or dangerous weapon or firearm; or
`(B) the offense results in significant bodily injury as defined by section 2118(e)(3); and
`(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, in any other case.
`(c) In this section:
`(1) the term `restricted buildings or grounds’ means any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area:
`(A) of the White House or its grounds, or the Vice President'™s official residence or its grounds;
`(B) of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or
`(C) of a building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance; and
`(2) the term `other person protected by the Secret Service'€™ means any person whom the United States Secret Service is authorized to protect under section 3056 of this title or by Presidential memorandum, when such person has not declined such protection.

In short, "€œAny person who shows up to protest or petition government officials, or even aspiring government officials, is guilty of committing a felony."

This was passed by unanimous consent of both parties, in both houses. The total of dissenting votes, between both houses, was six representatives, with 72 representatives abstaining.

So now it stands to We The People to demand of our congressional representatives the following question:

HOW THE HELL DOES THIS NOT VIOLATE THE WORDS "NO LAW"?!?!

The First Amendment reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Please note again the words NO LAW. This does not brook exceptions. The only possible ambiguity here is the definition of "€œpeaceably,"€ and any glance at history - especially this past year - shows that the word means whatever people in power choose to let it mean. How do you address that subject? However they want you to. Or else.

No.

This needs to be our line in the sand.

This is not about Democrats or Republicans, Tea Party or Occupy, Rush Limbaugh or Sandra Fluke. [1] This is about one simple question:

Can Congress break the Bill of Rights or not?

Fellow Americans, whomever you are, whatever you do, whatever other lines divide us at this time, we need to make a stand here, or else lose everything our Constitution assures.

Contract your representative. Contact the president. At this time, the bill is not yet law.

If it passes into law, then the Constitution means nothing.

Whatever else you may do today, take time to demand that H.R. 347 be withdrawn, vetoed, or both.

Here’s the president’s information:

202-456-1111
202-456-1414
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

And here'€™s Congress.
http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Speak now, or forever lose your rights.

--------------------------------------
1 - And now we know what that particular dog-and-pony show was meant to distract us from.  

Discuss

The people excusing Rush Limbaugh as a satirist are missing two crucial differences between true satire and playground-bully mockery: irony and justice.

Irony provides the essential distance that marks comedy from cruelty. It's been said that comedy is tragedy sped up and exaggerated to the scope of farce, but if Limbaugh truly is a comedian, his jokes fall flat from lack of irony and justice in scope. Satire mocks the powerful from below; if a powerful person mocks someone less powerful, he's simply being an asshole.

Making fun of physical handicaps (as Limbaugh has done) is the lowest form of comedy unless there's ironic inversion and justice involved. Otherwise, it's like pulling wings off flies to get a laugh. Stephen Hawking can make a cripple joke because he's clearly handicapped himself. When Jewish satirist Sasha Barton Cohen gets a roomful of people to sing "Throw the Jew Down the Well," he's employing satirical irony; Limbaugh would not get the same kind of license to make an identical "joke" unless he was singing about killing fat pill-popping bigots. Now, if Rush was a liberal assuming an exaggerated right-wing persona (like Stephen Colbert), he'd be using satirical irony.  If Limbaugh is anything other than what he pretends to be, however, he's been hiding that fact for over 20 years.

Meanwhile, the principle of justice marks another line between satire and cruelty. Female satirist Sarah Silverman can get away with making rape jokes (barely...) because she's clearly not a rapist. When overtly masculine Andrew Dice Clay made them, even through his exaggerated persona, such "jokes" became a career-limiting move. People can laugh when a mouse gives an eagle the finger; if the eagle gives the finger to the mouse, there might be a brief laugh of pure shock (like when George Carlin made rape jokes about Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd... yet another ironic inversion). If the eagle continues to eat the mouse afterward, however, it takes a hard-hearted person to continue laughing.

At the beginning of his career,  Rush did have some valid targets, and he applied a bit of wit to them. His "feminazi" rants held some justifiable sting in the early '90s, when college campuses were imposing "speech codes" and N.O.W. was staging book-burnings for American Psycho. (A book whose incredibly dark satire became more obvious when it was adapted by female filmmakers.) Using the "Born Free" theme to counteract the spotted owl controversy was sort of amusing at the time... provided you didn't think too hard about how that controversy revolved around the idea of wiping out a whole species for profit. Thing is, Rush has since become the eagle [1], and yet can't still can't resist the impulse to give a mouse the finger as he eats her. And when the powerful mock the powerless, that's not satire - it's just cruelty.

While it's true that straightforward mockery CAN be an element of satire, that's a clumsy, short-lived approach. (cf. Andrew Dice Clay) Obviously, the schoolyard bully has an audience who laughs when he pulls down an honor student's pants... but really, how many of them are still laughing when they've grown to adulthood, and how "adult" do we find such people once high school ends?

Limbaugh has since presented a half-hearted apology [2], claiming the satirist's cloak of protection. "For over 20 years," he stated, "I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity." The target of his absurdity, however, reveals the truth of Rush's position: rather than comment on the absurdity of a lone female finally being "allowed" to testify before an all-male congressional committee regarding female contraception [3], he chose to slut-shame women who use contraception. But when even the eagle - most ironically, one who's been caught having his own issues with drugs and legalities - makes such admissions, it's worth asking where the true absurdities within the social issues lie.

As for a career defined by pulling the wings off of flies to get a laugh, it's a poor comedian who does so just to show why insects shouldn't aspire to fly.

--------------------
1 - As a prosperous straight American white male of supposedly Christian convictions, Rush has really ALWAYS been the eagle; it's easy to understand, though, how his audience felt persecuted by the likes of Molly Yard and Andrea Dworkin, regardless of who really held the power in society as a whole.  

2 - ...part of which is belied by the actual transcripts of his show.

3 - At a time of staggering economic woes and severe international strife, Congress has nothing better to do?

Discuss

Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 10:31 AM PST

Are We All Our Own Terrorists?

by Satyrblade

“You know,” my partner told me tonight, “we probably qualify as terrorists now.”

Apparently, the floor debate over the just-passed National Defense Authorization Act included, as criteria for terrorist potential, the stockpiling of more than seven days worth of food. And since my partner and I just got done spending some year-end paychecks on holiday-sale foodstuffs, we have possibly more than seven days’ worth of food in our cabinets.

Such surplus used to be considered wealth. Now it’s supposed to be considered a threat.

What the fuck is WRONG with us? Not with my partner and me, but with our nation, with our world, as a whole?

How in every hell imaginable did the “land of the free, home of the brave” allow itself to become so shackled to absurdity?

As we careen full-force into the second year of the second decade of our brave new millennium, we technocratic pioneers seem more like scared servants to our luxuries. In Europe, governments teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, slashing the salaries of their working classes in frantic efforts to keep their richest people smiling. In the Middle East, governments rape, torture and kill en mass the citizens who are fed up with dictatorial oil sheiks. In Asia, children grow up making goodies for distant consumocracies. And in the States, we have two parties tearing our nation to shreds at the behest of corporate empires who won’t be happy until they not only own the government but command its every move.

What. The. HELL?!?!

How are we BUYING this bullshit, folks? How do We The People – of whatever nation we happen to people – accept such insanity? Why is it that we are fighting one another in the streets over whether or not men should be allowed to fuck other men up the ass when our respective governments are fucking us ALL up the ass... without the love or consent implied by actual gay relationships? Why is it that this holiday season (and every holiday season for the past ten years or so) has featured people literally declaring “wars” upon one another over our methods of celebrating (or not celebrating) the holiday in question, while meanwhile the law enforcement agencies tasked with keeping us safe are gassing us, shooting us, beating our bones broken? When the hell are we going to WAKE UP, PEOPLE, and see that the real enemy is the one taking our paychecks with one hand and buying our governments with the other?

A common definition of terrorism includes "the use of force to coerce and intimidate, especially for political purposes" and "the state of fear produced by terrorism." If we accept this definition, then we have become our own terrorists, so afraid of terrorism that we perpetrate the continual act of terrorism upon ourselves and others.

Oh, Mr. Bin Ladin, how well you have succeeded.

And damn you to every conceivable hell for showing us how damned we can become.

Terrorism is alive and well, folks – not in the secluded corners of radical madrassas (although it’s certainly alive there too), but in the halls of governments and corporations who make slaves of us and let us buy the chains. Those “corporate citizens” who shit in our lands and piss in our waters and then have the audacity to act as though they are the wronged parties; the ones who sell us propaganda in the guise of news; the ones who bribe our judges, cops and lawmakers to trash OUR rights and properties in order to preserve their own – THESE are the true terrorists in our midst. They don’t need swords to cut out pay, guns to shoot our legs out from under us, bombs to blow our futures to bits. All they need is what we give them: MONEY, and the power that it brings.  

And we just can’t seem to stop giving it to them.

Hell, we’ll even tear gas one another in our haste to do it.

The late (?) Mr. Bin Ladin succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Because we LET him show us how fragile the illusions and institutions of our “freedoms” are. We choose to live in a fear we ourselves perpetrate.

Just over ten years ago, the world’s economy was surging through one of its greatest periods of prosperity. Two mortal enemies had dropped their world-endangering 50-year feud. Aside from a strange fascination with 2000-year-old prophecies, the majority of our species was enjoying the closest thing to what we rabid angel-apes accept as peace.

And then, in September 2001, "terrorist" became the Pavlovian buzzword through which any extremity is justified.

Now our own governments make preemptive prisoners of every one of us. Our politicians manage to cross party lines just long enough to make every man, woman or child on earth a potential victim of military tribunals. It used to be that only “evil empires” made people disappear into the night without trials or recourse. Now, our global entire political system is run by people who speak of “freedom” while tearing it apart right before our eyes.

And when we “Occupy”? When we assert our rights under the very documents that frame our nations? When Greeks refuse to take yet another pay cut, when Britons rebel against murderous cops, when Americans take up the rights assured to them by the Bill of Rights that all U.S. politicians must swear to uphold… well then, out come the batons and the tear gas and the plastic cuffs manufactured by the same companies that own the jails and “hire” the inmates as free labor.

But don’t worry, folks – those people are all just “terrorists.” Really. Go out and buy more shit and hope you won’t be the next one to lose your job or watch your paycheck shrink.  

Did it really take just one day to change all that, or were we always so fragile all along?  

This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans, Communists or Capitalists. They’re ALL doing this. China is no less exploitative of its workers than the fiercest robber baron, and the most generous corporation inflicts more misery than the greediest medieval warlord.

And yet we LET them. We SUPPORT them. All around the world, we’re gleefully stomping “witches” and “faggots” and “hippies” and “infidels” – sometimes figuratively, often literally – in an effort to show how strong we are.

But if we’re all potential terrorists in the eyes of our governments, how, really, must those governments regard us?

What kind of threat must we present to one another, that we’ll give away everything we have in order to buy thicker chains while somehow seeing them as walls instead?

How do we discard the words of our saviors to embrace the tactics of their enemies? How long will we refuse to see that ugly image in our mirrors?

And when the hell will we wake ourselves out of this nightmare where everyone’s a terrorist and no one is free?

Discuss

Wed Nov 23, 2011 at 06:00 AM PST

History is Messy

by Satyrblade

After some arguments I've had the last few days, this really needs to be said:

I am both amazed and exasperated by the people who discount the Occupy movement because it didn't spring full-formed from Athena's forehead. History doesn't work that way. Revolutions don't work that way. The first American Revolution took almost a decade to achieve the form we regard it with today, and even then it failed in many of its originally intended goals.

The Constitution we consider to be the bedrock of our nation was first begun in 1787 - over a decade after the Declaration of Independence (which itself took months to draft) was released, and three years after the fighting with England ended. That Constitution was ratified over a year later, and amended with the original Bill of Rights in 1791.

If you want vague, try reading the Declaration of Independence. It doesn't lay out a plan for change, create a workable government, or do much of anything except lay out a point-by-point list of general grievances that boil down to "Fuck you, King George." It certainly wasn't accepted as gospel by the majority of colonial citizens, many of whom put up exactly the same arguments against that rebellion that American conservatives put up against Occupy now.

We talk now about the Founders as if they were a bunch of saints all gathered together in the same room who crafted " a more perfect union" within a few hours, then went out to kick British butt with nothing more than blue tricorns and Minutemen. In reality, the various American Revolutions (the original Colonial insurrection, the War Between the States, and the Civil Rights/ Vietnam/ culture war battles of 1960-1990) have all involved long, messy, disorganized and contentious shifts. In all cases, there was intervention from other nations, too; we would have lost the war of 1776 before it even began had we not been supported by France, Spain, and various Native American groups, all of whom were later screwed by the United States in return. Various other nations played roles in the so-called Civil War, while the Civil Rights revolt occurred (and is still occurring) all over the world. This revolution is worldwide, too, and while we can hope it never escalates to the shooting-war stage, that decision depends on how we handle things when we have the chance to avoid that outcome.

My point is, change looks clean only in hindsight. And regardless of how you feel about OWS, we ARE in a period of change. It would be helpful, then, to understand our history, realize that future generations will remember us someday, and act accordingly.

As I posted on my Facebook wall yesterday, it's especially galling when folks identify their personal grievances with the current situation by using the name of a mob of vandals who protested the collusion between the English Crown and the British East India Company by inflicting millions of dollars in damage upon its stock... and then turn around today and attack the Occupy movement for being anti-corporate malcontents! The level of historical ignorance surrounding the Tea Party is enough to make me want go all Moses on certain people, force-feeding texts of actual HISTORICAL FACTS to them until they get the point. [1]

My point here is this: The facts are out there, the Occupy movement DOES have a sort of Declaration of Independence, and Rome is neither built, destroyed or turned around in a day.

Real life is messy, and glib responses just make a bigger mess.

------------------
1. In Exodus 32:19-20, Moses reacts to Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf by smashing the original 10 Commandments, destroying the Calf, mixing water into the resulting mess, and then forcing the children of Israel to drink the results. Compared to THAT, a bunch of people yelling in the streets looks downright peaceful.

Discuss

Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 02:46 PM PST

Torture University

by Satyrblade

Call it what it is:

TORTURE: The deliberate act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty. (Latin: tortura, a twisting) - from Webster's Universal Unabridged English Dictionary

On November 18, 2011, Officer Lt. John Pike and other members of the University of California Campus Police Department, in affiliation with city police, committed what can clearly be seen as deliberate acts of torture on unresisting students of that University, and possibly on other California citizens as well.

In an act well-documented by cameras, videos, and other reports, these officers held demonstrators in place, sprayed crowd-control-level pepper sprays directly into their faces, and in some cases forced people who tried to shield themselves from the excruciating chemicals to take those chemicals into their eyes, noses, throats and lungs. Some reports claim that officers also forced people’s mouths open and then sprayed the chemicals – which project from the canisters at high pressure – directly into their faces or even down their throats.

In fairness to the officers, the protesters were warned that they would be sprayed; that said, this form of punishment for "failure to heed an officer" has already been declared to be excessive force by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: "...we held that police officers employ excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they use pepper spray upon an individual who is engaged in the commission of a non-violent misdemeanor and who is disobeying a police officer’s order but otherwise poses no threat to the officer or others."

Based upon both this court decision and related police policies, the severity of this resolution fits U.S. Legal's legal definition of police brutality. By the terms of Title 18 of the United States Code, it violates Federal law as well - a law that defines torture as  "an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control."

The spray in question is classified by both the U.S. Armed Forces and California State law as a chemical weapon: "...law enforcement grade pepper spray has a Scoville heat unit of 5-5.3 million. The Pimento, Peperoncini and Banana pepper peppers have a Scoville heat unit of 100-900. Tabasco and Cayenne peppers are 30,000-50,000; Tabasco sauce (original) is 2,500-5,000 heat units."  The United States Office of Special Counsel declared that "...there is a distinct possibility that this kind of CS exposure can significantly contribute to or even cause lethal effects." Given the toxicity and velocity of the spray alone, these officers inflicted injuries that might have (and still might) result in permanent injury or even death. As of this writing, several of the protesters remain hospitalized.

Whether or not "legal sanctions" include an officer's ability to punish citizens who refuse an order to move is a matter of debate. As for the deliberate infliction of pain, however, that is beyond question.

The officers' actions fit the legal, moral and dictionary definitions of torture.

As the videos clearly show, this was no self-defense situation. The demonstrators are sitting still, refusing to move. They are not fighting, not attacking, not resisting the officers with anything except inertia and resolve. According to eyewitness reports, Lt. Pike had been talking freely and in a friendly manner with some of the students he later gassed; they even offered him food and coffee.

It takes a special, even sociopathic, level of disassociation to share drinks and conversation with someone one day, and then torture them the next. Although a certain degree of emotional reserve is essential in law enforcement work, is this what we want from our police officers... especially ones hired by university campuses to guard our children?

Until now, the various acts of violence committed by police officers against Occupy demonstrators have been excused or justified by heated confrontations, hectic crowds, or the possibility of violent resistance. This is something different. On U.C. campus, we see police officers methodically inflicting pain as a tool of authority against people who present no threat to their safety.

And worst of all, some people are defending them. The Chancellor’s office initially justified the action by claiming - rather ironically - that the protesters presented a threat to U.C. students. Other defenders claim that the protesters were breaking the law, and thus were “asking for it.”

This is the slide of the Abu Garaib slope – the idea that cops are perfectly justified in using public torture as a tool of control, even when no threat to safety is present.

That thought should chill any thinking human being.

This must be punished. Apparently, an investigation into the incident has been ordered, and the university chancellor may well resign. These measures, however, are not nearly enough.  

The officers responsible must be relieved of duty, arrested, and charged… with the school officials who ordered the attacks – and the officers who allowed them – charged as accomplices to the crime.

This is no longer a civil-rights issue or a matter of political debate. It is a matter of law, and of national survival.  

Regardless of how you feel about the Occupy movement, the choice is clear:

Either we live in a society where police officers may publically torture citizens in our streets, or we do not.  

Discuss

Sat Nov 19, 2011 at 12:54 PM PST

Pepper Spray is the New Fire Hose

by Satyrblade

The fire hose is back in style.

During the early Civil Rights struggle the fire hose became the symbol of police oppression. Employed against anti-segregation activists, the "peace officers" of Birmingham, Selma, and other Southern cities turned high-pressure instruments of fire prevention against non-resisting civilians who were determined to oppose racial segregation. Although ostensibly "non-lethal," this misuse of technology became one of the symbols of brutal authoritative oppression.

These days, that instrument of intimidation has been replaced by pepper-spray. And yesterday, at U.C. Davis campus, the pepper-spray can may have just enjoyed its Birmingham moment.

If this image had come from a foreign country, any good American would be appalled. As it is, we increasingly find ourselves within a foreign country - a nation in which a wealthy and entitled minority considers itself above any form of law or decency.

This attack - a painful, deliberate, concerted mass assault upon unresisting people, many (if not all) of whom are paying students at this university - goes so far beyond "reasonable force" that all officers involved, as well as any and all school administrators who ordered or condoned their actions, should be immediately arrested and charged. Resignations should be tendered, and lawsuits filed.

Considering especially that this happened at a state-run, tax-supported college, U.C. Davis should be shut down until all responsible parties are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

The fact that this action was committed largely by UNIVERSITY police - not state or city police - oversteps any and all bounds. These officers are, in theory, held to much more stringent standards of force and behavior than their fellow officers. Their training is presumably lower, and their accountability is higher. Had a university police officer (or most other police officers, for that matter) held down a rape suspect and sprayed his crotch point-blank with pepper spray, that officer would be facing disciplinary action. In this case, the "crime" was far less severe, and the force - which involved holding people's mouths open and spraying pepper down their throats - far more so.

If this is what America has become - a nation in which anyone with a badge and uniform holds an open mandate for brutal and prolonged force - then we should ask ourselves what we have that's worth saving.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an appeal to police officers to consider the effects of such actions upon their own work, image and morality, and then to resist such brutality or the orders that proceed it. If anything, this incident adds urgency to the need to resist such orders and check such violence while there's still a chance to save lives and keep what little remains of the peace.

It is essential for the sake of any stable society that its officers of law remain bound by that law. We The People, regardless of our thoughts about the Occupy protests, MUST oppose such abuses of police power.

For if police and other authorities continue to ignore our laws, then there is no true law or stability at all.

Contact the California Governor's office at:

http://govnews.ca.gov/...

Discuss

Wed Nov 16, 2011 at 10:43 AM PST

Blades, Blood, and Gravity

by Satyrblade

Revolutions look glorious in hindsight, when the battlefields become shopping malls and the corpses make way for monuments. When the harsh words of revolt become TV jingles for another shopping day, the pain of sacrifice becomes the glut of institution. Rough-hewn human beings become plaster saints, their imperfections glossed over to commemorate a victory long past.

We celebrate the blood spilled two centuries ago by running ourselves toward tomorrow’s debt. But when living beings shed one another’s blood, that moment’s not some Hallmark card – it's just the blade of history.

History is implacable. Its currents wash over the chaos of a moment, freezing bloody faces into pretty portraits. But when that current has been raised by fury and atrocity, no dam holds it back for long.  

Righteous anger does not go away.

You cannot sell a lie of freedom to a shackled man forever. Sooner or later, he, and others like him, will rise up. And at that time, their mercy, reason and forgiveness will be based on the restraint of their oppressors. History shows that fury multiplies, and the final sum of the ensuing revolution will be counted in either compromise or blood.

Trouble is, once blood starts flowing, it’s damn near impossible to stop. And when the same government that praises and supports revolt on foreign soil turns gas and truncheons and rubber bullets against its own dissent, it plants the seeds of its own downfall, too. Just look at France, who helped us win a war against England, only to fall beneath Madame Guillotine less than a decade later for exactly the same reasons being protected in the streets today: the unbridled greed of an insulated upper class, and its suppression of the people paying their way.

Time institutionalizes hard-won victories. The atrocities of Selma and Bunker Hill become sale-price holidays when the blood’s long dried and victory has been secured. But to the people in those moments, those Valley Forge soldiers and Deep South Freedom Riders, to the people who face down tyranny, their righteous passions and the surety of their cause are the blades that shape tomorrow. As any student of history sees, the hand that opposes them eventually falls beneath them – maybe a year later, maybe decades later, but it always fucking falls. Maybe history’s not required reading in the Mayor’s Office or the F.B.I., but if not, it should damn well join the curriculum while there’s still time to avoid the worst.

To you who oppose the Occupy movements – you smug Me-Firsters, deluded bootstrappers, Randian supremacists, and just-plain-folks who believe, as Mayor Bloomberg says, that the rights assured to us in our highest law are conditional upon government consent, I ask you this:

Do you think this will all just go away?

Do you think that when hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people rally all across the nation because we are sick and tired of supporting a handful of aristocrats, that a few riot cops and mocking newscasters will make our anger vanish?

Do you think that beating women, gassing kids, shooting veterans of the wars you helped support will somehow be forgotten once the smoke clears?

Do you think that by dodging or buying mass media coverage of a story, you can change the facts and make that story disappear?

Because, if so, you are very, very wrong.

You are raising the blade of history, and then sticking your own head – along with ours – into the spot where that blade descends.

That never goes well. Never.

Am I preaching violent revolt? No – very much the opposite. But then, I’m not the one siccing cops on peaceful protests. I’m just a student of history, and I see where it leads.

History, like anger, follows gravity. And the higher you raise a blade, the heavier the trajectory of its fall.


Discuss

Wed Nov 02, 2011 at 06:00 AM PDT

What Virtue is Selfishness?

by Satyrblade

You get what you pay for. Nice things cost money, but quality is worth it.

Rich people understand this – better, perhaps, than anyone. And most of them are willing to pay well for quality.

Why, then, are so many people – rich and poor alike – convinced that spending money on our nation is wrong?

Where’s the disconnect between the ideas of buying quality shoes, and funding quality schools?

Is it because things you buy for yourself are yours alone, while things you buy with taxes are part of your community as a whole?

And really - if it is, when and how did such selfishness become a virtue?

It’s certainly not a virtue in the Bible, most especially not in the words of Christ. Jesus and the prophets have stern things to say about folks who hoard wealth for themselves at the expense of their souls, society, and fellow human beings.

It’s not in the writings or actions of our Founders, either – many of whom invested their fortunes, risked their lives, and in several cases lost everything for the sake of the nation they built for us.

Selfishness is not a virtue in any creed save LaVeyan Satanism, nor in any philosophy save the rantings of third-rate authors who did not even live the things they preached.  [1]

It’s not ever truly a virtue in untamed Nature, where “survival of the fittest” does not mean “those which kill everything off,” but “those which ADAPT TO THE BALANCE OF THEIR SURROUNDINGS.”

Despite the lessons and legacies of history, science and culture, there’s a popular idea out there right now that investing in our society, buying quality for our nation and its people, is wrong. Immoral. Even illegal. A concept that somehow it’s better to cut funding for schools, for cops, for firefighters, for clean air and safe roads and a future for our children, than it is to tax a millionaire.

Where did we GET this idea?

Did you ever think that maybe it was being sold to us?

That people with something to gain from it had a vested interest in impoverishing the rest of us so that they could continue buying more nice things for themselves?

And then, if you DO consider that possibility, why would you still think it was a good idea to live in a shoddy nation so that a handful of people could continue to buy nice things at the expense of your present and your children’s future?

Let’s be real: Taxes are necessary. They are investments in a society. They keep the bills paid.

No human society has existed without some form of required contribution from its members: money, labor, inspiration, guidance, military service, very often all of those and more. [2]

Anyone who has shared a household knows that you need to keep the bills paid, the food stocked, the garbage cleared away. People have to do chores, chip in, keep the place in order. It’s not something you do when and if you feel like it – it’s something you regularly if you want to keep that home intact. Otherwise, everything falls apart. The lights go out, the water goes off, the trash piles up and everyone goes hungry. This was even truer of the households of “rugged individualists on the wild frontier” than it is today; back then, if you didn’t do those things – and do them OFTEN – you’d just simply die. [3]

That’s what taxes do. They keep the power on, the water clean and flowing, the kitchen stocked, the house clean and safe.

They pay for you to live in a nice country.

They provide for your home.

And like I said, you get what you pay for.

Want a nice country? It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. [4]

If you want a shoddy, selfish, cheap-ass country, then go find another one... and then go live THERE.

I don’t want to be stuck in one with you. I’m willing to do my share.


------------------
NOTES
------------------

[1] Nietzsche was a demented mooch from a monied family; Ayn Rand had no problem accepting welfare and tax-funded medical treatments; Ragnar Redbeard was a bad pen-name invented to shield someone without the courage of his convictions; and LaVey was a childish pseudointellectual leech who bilked money from losers before dying bankrupt in a Catholic charity hospital. None of them provided shining examples of the philosophies they proclaimed.

[2] Another popular myth insists that 53% of the population pays the taxes that the other 47% life off of. Nonsense. Even if 47% of the U.S. population actually WAS exempt from income taxes (which we’re not), we all – even homeless people on the streets – pay sales taxes, licensing fees, permit fees and so forth… all of which are forms of tax. Even people without money contribute work, caretaking, education and the like, often in all-but-invisible ways. The handful of people who contribute nothing whatsoever to our society is proportionately microscopic… and most of them are too mentally or physically sick to make reliable contributions, anyway.

[3] The archetypal Mountain Man still needed to buy the gear we couldn’t make himself; trade with people for supplies; hunt for himself and… if he had one… his family; deal reasonably with his neighbors; obey local customs – or at least not violate them; and work out some equilibrium with his natural environment. A man or woman who lived only for self-interest became an outlaw – hated, hunted, and eventually killed by Man, Beast, or Nature.

[4] As history tells us, a country where everyone that isn’t not rich is starving, ignorant, living in poverty, dying of disease, and supporting the rich minority is NOT a nice country. Nor does it survive for long without collapsing in a bloody heap under the weight of its own misery. The French Revolution, in large part, ignited because the wealthiest nobles and clergy were all but immune from taxation - which left the rest of the burden of national support on the working and lower-merchant classes. We saw how well that turned out. Why are so many Americans eager to employ the same idea?

Discuss

Mon Oct 31, 2011 at 05:00 AM PDT

Officer - Be The Hero, Not the Thug

by Satyrblade

Hello, Officer.

I try to respect you. And generally, I do.

I’ve needed you, been glad to see you, still have a few friends and family among your ranks here and there. Even when I don’t agree with the laws you represent, I realize that enforcing those laws, day after day, is one of the shittiest jobs on earth.

I get that.

It’s hard to be a cop. To see the worst of humanity day by day. To have so much fear and hate and misery directed your way that it seems as though your fellow cops are the only ones who might understand.

I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be a cop.

But I do know this.

Wading into crowds while employing mace and billy-clubs – this does not help you.  

Taking massive corporate “donations,” and then pepper-spraying people who protest those corporations - this does not serve you.

Herding people onto bridges, and then rounding them up for blocking said bridges – this does not honor you.

Breaking the skulls of veterans, then tossing flash-bombs at the folks who try to help them get them to safety. Arresting customers who want to quit giving business to their banks. Running over people with motorbikes, tear-gassing kids, tossing the property of private citizens into waiting garbage trucks.

These are not acts worthy of police officers.

They do not serve or protect the citizens. They do not keep the peace. In fact, they seem designed to provoke violence.

These acts, and so many more captured on camera and in words these past few weeks, are the actions of corporate minions.

The actions of mercenaries. Oppressors. Thugs.  

They are unworthy of the badge.

They are unworthy of respect.

Dear Officer, they are unworthy of YOU.

Every shot fired, every tent smashed, every human being pounded into the pavement because he or she dared to believe that the 1st Amendment applies to people other than corporations... every such incident is a disgrace to your badge.

Each person you push face-first into a wall or sidewalk because that person decided that enough is enough with regards to the rape of our paychecks, our families, our jobs, our future, is a person who learns to hate your guts and the guts of every other cop that person ever meets.

Each incident of this sort is another indictment of your honor as a police officer.

Such acts put you on the wrong side of history.

And they make your job harder, not easier.

Not just now, but for the foreseeable future.

They wreck police morale. They weaken community bonds. They undo, in seconds, every GOOD thing a police officer does for his or her community.

They waste the sacrifices you make.

You see – and Officer, I hope you DO see this – such acts make people hate you. Fear you. Despise you.

Even people like me, who want to trust you.  

In one more of the many sad ironies of 9/11, in the shadow of its tenth anniversary, the New York cops who became heroes on that day have became villains out there now. “Bribe one cop,” people say these days, “and it’s a crime. Bribe the department, and it’s a donation.”

Officer, are you a line on someone’s balance-sheet? Or are you a human being trying to do the toughest job on earth?

And if the latter, why make it harder for yourself?

That’s what this DOES, you know. It makes life harder for every cop on earth.

Like the dog-wielding cops of Selma and the skull-cracking cops of Chicago, police officers who do the things we have seen this month wind up on the wrong side of history, relics who defended something old and ugly that needed to be swept away.

Is that the man or woman you want to see in the mirror?

Is this the job you want to do?

Is this the image you want to suffer for, even when it’s not your hand holding clubs or pepper spray?

If not, then please KNOCK IT THE HELL OFF!!!

Don't be that person. Don't do those things. Prove those who hate you wrong, not right.

STOP “just following orders.”

To hell with the mayor, the chief, the banks that "donate" to your foundations.

Do they own your soul? your honor? Your future?

If not, stand against them.

Be the hero, not the thug.

Don’t assume that you win when you do such things. You DON’T. YOU LOSE.

And in losing, you destroy everything you strive to uphold.

Any history book can tell you that.

So Officer, you have a choice:

Do you want to be today’s hero, or yesterday’s pig?

Your call, Officer.

But if you choose the latter option, don’t expect my continuing respect.

Or, perhaps when you look in the mirror, your own forgiveness for the things you chose to do.

Discuss

Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:55 PM PDT

Officer, Be the Hero

by Satyrblade

Hello, Officer.

I try to respect you. And generally, I do.

I’ve needed you, been glad to see you, still have a few friends and family among your ranks here and there. Even when I don’t agree with the laws you represent, I realize that enforcing those laws, day after day, is one of the shittiest jobs on earth.

I get that.

It’s hard to be a cop. To see the worst of humanity day by day. To have so much fear and hate and misery directed your way that it seems as though your fellow cops are the only ones who might understand.

I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be a cop.

But I do know this.

Wading into crowds while employing mace and billy-clubs – this does not help you.  

Taking massive corporate “donations,” and then pepper-spraying people who protest those corporations - this does not serve you.

Herding people onto bridges, and then rounding them up for blocking said bridges – this does not honor you.

Breaking the skulls of veterans, then tossing flash-bombs at the folks who try to help them get them to safety. Arresting customers who want to quit giving business to their banks. Running over people with motorbikes, tear-gassing kids, tossing the property of private citizens into waiting garbage trucks.

These are not acts worthy of police officers.

They do not serve or protect the citizens. They do not keep the peace. In fact, they seem designed to provoke violence.

These acts, and so many more captured on camera and in words these past few weeks, are the actions of corporate minions.

The actions of mercenaries. Oppressors. Thugs.  

They are unworthy of the badge.

They are unworthy of respect.

Dear Officer, they are unworthy of YOU.

They put you on the wrong side of history.

And they make your job harder, not easier.

Not just now, but for the foreseeable future, they burden you.

You see – and Officer, I hope you DO see this – such acts make people hate you. Fear you. Despise you.

Even people like me, who want to trust you.  

In one more of the many sad ironies of 9/11, in the shadow of its tenth anniversary, the New York cops who became heroes on that day have became villains out there now. “Bribe one cop,” people say these days, “and it’s a crime. Bribe the department, and it’s a donation.”

Officer, are you a line on someone’s balance-sheet? Or are you a human being trying to do the toughest job on earth?

And if the latter, why make it harder for yourself?

That’s what this DOES, you know. It makes life harder for every cop on earth.

Like the dog-wielding cops of Selma and the skull-cracking cops of Chicago, police officers who do the things we have seen this month wind up on the wrong side of history, relics who defended something old and ugly that needed to be swept away.

Is that the man or woman you want to see in the mirror?

Is this the job you want to do?

Is this the image you want to suffer for, even when it’s not your hand holding clubs or pepper spray?

If not, then please KNOCK IT OFF.

Don't be that person. Don't do those things. Prove those who hate you wrong, not right.

STOP “just following orders.”

Be the hero, not the thug.

Don’t assume that you win when you do such things. You DON’T. YOU LOSE.

And in losing, you destroy everything you strive to uphold.

Any history book can tell you that.

So Officer, you have a choice:

Do you want to be today’s hero, or tomorrow’s pig?

Your call, Officer.

But if you choose the latter option, don’t expect my continuing respect.

Or, perhaps when you look in the mirror, your own forgiveness for the things you chose to do.

Discuss
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