RANGER AGAINST WAR: Death of the Week <

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Death of the Week


 --We could make a series of it. "Suicide of the Week." 
Aw, hell, why limit ourselves? "Execution of the Week."
-- "Terrorist of the Week." 
--I love it. Suicides, assassinations, mad bombers,
Mafia hitmen, automobile smash-ups: "The Death Hour."
A great Sunday night show for the whole family.
It'd wipe that fuckin' Disney right off the air
--Network (1982) 

I'm robbin' people with a six-gun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won 
--I Fought the Law, 
Bobby Fuller Four

The thief cometh not, but for to steal,
and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly
--John 10:10

 Really Doctor, you must learn to govern your passions.
They will be your undoing 
--Star Trek, Spock to Dr. McCoy 

"So whaddya think about the latest shooting outside of Ferguson?" I was asked on Christmas Day.

"Stupid." The policeman was responding to theft in the vicinity of a Jiffy Mart, and he approaches two men in the area, one of whom turns on the cop pointing a weapon at him. Forgetting uncivil, illegal and criminal for the moment; just stupid. Are we at the "jump the shark" moment re. the racist cop meme?

The victim of this latest shooting to reach the news is Berkely, MO's Antonio Martin:

"In the 15 months since turning 17, Martin has faced several criminal charges. According to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, they include three assaults, an armed robbery, unlawful use of a weapon, armed criminal action and stealing." 

Why amidst the hue and cry over how "Antonio did not need to die" is no one asking the question: "Who taught Mr. Martin how to behave in his society?" It does not sound like he was starting out the gate as anyone's paragon of virtue.

I think of my experience vis-a-vis a FAMU cop who accused me of an offense I did not commit. I could have been confrontational, and maybe his itchy trigger finger might have flinched, or I might have been strong-armed and knocked to the tarmac, a victim of a cracked skull after hitting the pavement like this poor woman. I certainly wouldn't have pulled a gun (even if I'd had one.) Yes, the officer was aggressive and out of line, but alone in the parking lot was not the place to seek justice.

My experience was not even close to that of Mr. Martin's criminal aggression, but a socialized human being knows the correct way to respond to a police officer. Such a person understands that the policeman is often functioning under pressure of a developing crime-in-progress. Especially a person like Mr. Martin, for whom it seems dealing with the po-po was a fairly routine experience.

As we mentioned in yesterday's piece (To the Point), the precipitating incident in this latest racial brouhaha (the police shooting of Mr. Brown) is irrespective of any other preceding or following police action in or around Ferguson, MO, or in any other town. To use one incident (which a grand jury declined to prosecute) as indicative of some larger cabal on the part of police is disingenuous at best.

Many Southern blacks commemorate their dead young relatives by wearing their image on a T-shirt with the birth and death date. The person is often the victim of gang violence, and he or she may have been alternately an innocent victim or a perpetrator, but they are memorialized on the shirts as if martyrs. Do we now have citizens so desperate that they are willing to goad a policeman into shooting them, just to drive up the numbers and amp up hatred and dissent in the populace? If we do, then our problems far outstrip any questionable police action.

In this season it easy to be mindful of the Christian perspective. Christ was supposed to be the last martyr. Don't tell me how bad or unfair things are today; they were much worse and less fair then.

But crying "racism" is so easy. One may feel righteous and expend some lingering angst, but the cry fixes nothing, nor does it address the actual problems which we dare not speak about lest they pull a Bill Cosby on us. Inconvenient and uncomfortable truths remain just that. We have closets for such things.

Perhaps Andy Warhol was right, and we all seek our 15 minutes of fame by any means necessary. Social networking certainly makes that possible today. More likely, certain areas are simply bastions of violence, and once one incident gains the national spotlight, all future criminal incidents in which blacks come up against police are then exploited, 'til knocked off the front page by the next outrageous non-event.

Living in civilized society requires that the members be disciplined and buy into that covenant that opposes the law of the jungle. Police, who are entrusted with maintaining the law and order we often take for granted, cannot be on every corner, in every potentially-robbed Zippy Mart, therefore as citizens we must be self-policing, functioning to protect both our own interests as well as those of our neighbors. We must all be good stewards of the society, and if most of us are not on board, then that society begins to unravel.

What keeps any of us from walking off with the contents of the supply room at work or worse? There would be no Post-it Notes or pens if we all took what we wanted. Fear -- fear of loss, or ridicule, are a couple of constraints. Out in society, the presence of CCTV's on street corners is another possible deterrent. Of course, many criminals do not think they will get caught. They have a sense of entitlement and lack a sense of responsibility.

Ask most criminals about their crime and they will tell you: "I didn't do it -- I was framed." Perhaps this is why for many, the deterrent value of punishment does not work. Also, some are so far down on the social ladder that there is nothing for them to lose in the commission of their crime.

The Christmas season is a good time to reflect upon what makes a society and allows for "goodwill among men". "Santa knows when you've been naughty or nice" pretty much sums up the whole shooting match. Don't do it -- don't take your sister's toys, kill the bird, steal the cookies -- because someone will know and you will be punished, or at least, you will not receive an even greater bounty, and you will suffer the censure of your fellows. Goodwill to you serves my better interests, but it is good behavior, in any event.

What do I think of people who draw a gun on a cop or anyone? If you want to be a pirate, go to Somalia. You can be a criminal every day of what will probably be a short and pathetic life.

Or you can enjoin the project of becoming a productive and kind citizen. Be a part of the solution, and not the problem, like the slogan says. You get to choose. Nobody said it was going to be fair, but we all arrive with basically the same set of tools. 

Unfortunately, we live in the time of the Death du Jour, and the copywriters have their bigotry meme to flesh out. Every killing that involves a racial disparity will now be magnetized to the meme. Everyone so inclined may hop on the feeding frenzy at the media's trough. Of course, in reality this is nothing but petty, unexceptional criminality, often ending in meaningless death, and the cries of protest land on fallow ground because few really want to speak the truth.

Common sense need not apply.

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