Friday, September 21, 2007

Don't Tase America, Bro

This certainly hasn't been a slow news week. While CNN, Fox, and the local news (all of which are shown on the telescreens at my workout facility) are all showing Britney Spears and OJ Simpson news, they do occasionally break away for 10 to 30 seconds at a time to cover (sandwich in) the following REAL news events happening this week:

Civil Rights March in Jena

From Reuters:

Civil rights protesters converge on Jena

JENA, Louisiana (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of black Americans descended on a small town in central Louisiana on Thursday to protest what they say is injustice against six black teen-agers charged over a high school fight.

Protesters arrived in buses and cars from cities as far away and apart as New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New Orleans for a rally in support of the "Jena 6."

The case has become a symbol for many blacks of a wider struggle against racism and perceived discrimination against black males by the criminal justice system.

From Southern Studies blog

Why the 'progressive' blogosphere silence about the Jena 6?

As we reported earlier today, thousands of people -- with African-American youth being the largest contingent, say our sources on the scene -- have descended on Jena, Louisiana for a historic march in support of the Jena 6.

The Jena 6 has become the main topic of discussion on countless black websites, radio stations and street conversations, inspiring countless activists young and old to take action.

But on this historic day for the most high-profile civil rights issue of the moment, where is the progressive blogosphere? I did a quick tour of the major "progressive" sites to see how they were covering it -- and was astounded to find a complete white-out of this historic cause

This is not surprising to me. Everyone from TV to blogs likes taking potshots at Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and it doesn't surprise me that cable TV focuses more on their personalities than the fact that a death threat in the form of a noose isn't punished and a schoolyard fight turns into a 20 year (each) prison sentence for 6 young men.

Confirmed racists like David Duke and Mark Fuhrman are getting on TV as proponents of "family values" while Republican moderates try to counsel me about how all of this is flotsam from the past and why should I dredge it up? Well, thanks to a number of factors, racism against Blacks is back in full force. Way to go, America.

Kerry Tasers Free Speech

Isis at Floating Down Denial pointed this out a couple days ago along with making a very good point (he also has the more common, better quality video of the incident). Why were young Democrats, supposed champions of the Constitution and civil rights, applauding the police for tackling and using a taser on a high-spirited student journalist who asked uncomfortable questions that I would like the answer to? The student was unarmed and was waiting for Kerry to answer his question.

The ensuing silence among candidates and partisans is a telling sign that Democrats appear to be gearing up for a transition of Bush's extraordinary and illegal escalation of executive power so they can take a turn at fascism themselves. Regardless of what Jon Stewart says, this is a case of authoritarian overreaction that should never have happened. The fact that people like Stewart and several liberal bloggers are willing to equate being loud-mouthed with police brutality as essentially cancelling either out shows that this "side" has a problem with moral porportion. I've never been tasered, but I've never heard anyone describe it as "no big deal." It is a form of social sadism that people aren't more outraged about this.

Senate Condemns Free Speech

I remember when it was okay to run an ad in the New York Times without getting condemned by Congress. I could see it if someone denied the holocaust or advocated the death of world leaders (yeah, I am talking to you Robertson) or child pornography, but those kinds of trifles go unpunished. However, accuse the PR leader of the military, General David Petraeus, of deliberately misleading the public about the level of unrest and chaos in Iraq, well then you even get the Democrats breathing down your neck. did just such a thing this last week and the Senate did their part as well.

Why would so many Democrats join Republicans in condemning this fairly innocuous ad? Could it be for Power? For Next Year? Maybe.

By the way, the ad is spot on. It is our government who refuses to live in reality.

Don't tase me, Bro.

This phrase spoken by Andrew Mayer as his right to free speech was tackled to the ground at the Kerry speech has already caught on. Both left and right wing outlets already have products out with this phrase on it. Before the pop culturists turn this into another form of entertainment, maybe we need to stop and think about whether our need to laugh should come at the expense of fighting for equality and our freedom or waiting to see how much more ethnic cleansing, disease, and death we will tolerate in Iraq under the glare of our eagle.


Pandabonium said...

Disturbing times. 156 Taser deaths in the last 5 years - it's no longer an "alternative to lethal force" but the easy way to get someone to do as you want. The corporate media cover it up with a smear campaign that the kid in Florida was a "prankster" as if that would excuse violating his 1st, 4th, and 8th amendment rights. And perhaps the coverage of the march in Jena (when there is zero coverage of 100,000 people marching against the war) was because the media were hoping there would be a clash - that some KKK or neo-nazi loonies would start a fight that could pump up the ratings when shown over and over on the "news".
And maybe the Democrats in Congress are cynically waiting out the war - letting Bush run with his surge thinking that the longer it goes and the worse it gets in Iraq the better the election 2008 results will be for them - even as people die and soldiers are crippled for life in the mean time. It's enough to make one scream. But better not. We know what happens if you do that...

My generation thought they won the major race battles, won the peace, and at least started down the road to social justice across the board. Yet here we are 40 years later. Was it all just temporarily swept under the rug? It makes me feel very tired.

ladybug said...

I remember thinking something's wrong when Lifeson (from the band RUSH) & his son were tazered at the Ritz Carleton in Florida - they were basically attacked by the rent-a-cops the hotel uses as "security. In Neil Peart's book "Roadshow" (which I recommend as one of his best), Lifeson basically says that even with his connections, his money and supposed "status", he and his son were convicted (to probation) for "reacting with violence" while being tazered more than 6 times and beaten, kicked and nightsticked out of the range of the hotel cameras. He also says if he can be convicted, how much worse is it for someone who doesn't have his resources?

This whole infotainment news thing is also why more and more Americans are reading the BBC news online...

Last but not least, I find some American Express ads aimed at Baby Boomers quite ironic. They're obviously marketing to aging hippies, who STRANGLY seem to have alot of financial independence and are "free to do what [they] want, any old time" (the Stones sold out again...)

Somebody's makin' money at Burning Man, and it ain't the folks paying more than $100 a head to bring their RV to a god-forsaken Nevada desert rave...

The Moody Minstrel said...

I remember after the Lifeson debacle happened lots of people were saying, "What do you expect? Those are Florida cops !" Here they are showing their true colors once the state that was responsible for Bush getting elected in the first place.

Honestly, though, I could easily imagine the cops we had at Oregon State University doing the same thing. They were notorious for ignoring actual crimes and emergencies (such as a friend who hauled herself and her broken leg to a pay phone and called them for help and was told, "We have better things to do") while being veritable jackbooted stormtroopers with people that rode their bicycles a few mph over the speed limit, held up protest signs on campus without a "permit", or talked too loudly on the sidewalk at 7 a.m.. I'm just thankful no one I knew wound up getting tasered. Roughed up, yes, tasered, no.

The badge can go to one's head so easily...

Anonymous said...

Some police chiefs reckon that the use of nonlethal force affects the officer's thinking in a way that they would use a taser in a situation where they would normally negotiate before using a firearm. The point being, the taser is too easy to abuse.

I think if Pandabonium's statistics are correct, the taser is not a nonlethal weapon, and should be classified as a deadly weapon. However, that won't happen until the manufacturers get sued sufficiently to go out of business.

Pandabonium said...

The figure I gave for Taser deaths came from Amnesty International. Taser manufacturers say the correct figure is zero.

Overdroid said...

That's funny. Booze related deaths is probably also zero. Did anyone notice that Brown vs. the Board of Education was quietly overturned not too long ago?

Swinebread said...

Wow, he actually had very good questions

They never show what really said on the news...

“My generation thought they won the major race battles, won the peace, and at least started down the road to social justice across the board. Yet here we are 40 years later. Was it all just temporarily swept under the rug? It makes me feel very tired.”

Sorry panda, but have to point out that the boomers who fought for social justice are now the generation that is in control and are overturning all the good they did and overturning rights that were thought safe long ago.

Dean Wormer said...

I'm as mad at John Kerry for letting that happen as I am at the rent-a-cops for doing it.

He's a friggin' war hero and he just stood there.