Home » Blog, economics, General, human rights, Obama, politics, Progressives, rants, Secular Humanism, taxation » Eric Garner Protests Will Certainly Miss the Real Issue: Our Impending Enslavement

Eric Garner Protests Will Certainly Miss the Real Issue: Our Impending Enslavement

Has anyone else noticed that between the Garner case and the Ferguson case, the Ferguson case is the one that has generated the most ongoing outrage?  The reason for this, I think, is that the Ferguson case was not caught on video, which allowed race hustlers like Sharpton and Holder to give credibility to the most wildest accusations:  Wilson shot a man with his hands up… Wilson shot a man in the back… Wilson stood over Brown and executed him.  We knew within a week or two the salient facts.  The DA also knew the salient facts, but rather than stand behind them, kicked it off to the grand jury, which told us what reasonable people already knew.  In the Garner case there was video.  It allowed us to witness a tragic scene, but it also precluded baseless accusations about what had happened.  If it had not been on video, we would have heard that the police actually used a garotte on Garner; another witness would have told us that one officer pulled out a chainsaw and attempted to cut off Garner’s head right there on the spot.  Holder and Obama would have lapped this up eagerly.  Liberals would have believed every word of it.

Indeed, the availability of video to set the record straight can only spell doom for agitators and community organizers.  Why, then, would Obama call for cameras to be placed on police officers across the country?  By the end of this essay, you should be able to figure out what I think.

The videos I saw left some points ambiguous as far as the actual headlock goes.  Given only the videos and the coroner’s report, I would have at least indicted the officers (all of them).  However, I believe in a trial it would have been shown that the officers had no intention of actually killing Garner, but, as I said, the video is ambiguous enough (in my estimation) to leave that question open.

To me, the more pressing issue is why Garner was targeted in the first place.  And I don’t mean the fact that he was black.  Here again, the videos are ambiguous.  In one place I hear onlookers saying that Garner had tried to breakup a fight.  In another place, I hear it asserted that Garner is being arrested for selling unlicensed, untaxed, cigarettes.  Both assertions might be true.

A lot of the focus seems to be on the fact that Garner was black, continuing the narrative that there is a nationwide holocaust being perpetually perpetrated on blacks by law enforcement (… by Republicans of course… never mind the fact that both Ferguson and NYC are firmly and thoroughly LIBERAL.  See if you can spot that insinuation in this article, here.)  What about the continuing erosion of all of our freedoms as governments at all levels steadily criminalize even the tiniest behaviors and enforce laws with extreme heavy-handedness?  Ladies and gentlemen, this twofold problem concerns every American, not just the black ones.

  • For example, when a SWAT team descended upon an Ohio farm in a quest to stomp down on the nefarious crime of selling… raw milk, the story hardly made the news.   A SWAT team.  I mean, seriously.  For the illegal selling of… milk?   You can be quite certain that if an accident had happened and one of those officers pulled the trigger and someone died (just like Garner seems to have been accidentally killed), folks like Obama and Holder wouldn’t have batted an eye.  After all, raw milk is a public health issue–just like tobacco use.   This isn’t by any means the only time that this sort of thing has happened.  See here and here, for example.
  • Or, how about the (white) man in Minnesota who was thrown in jail for failing to pay a citation issued for not completing the siding on his house?
  • Let us not forget the fate of Jose Guerena, who was gunned down in his own home, apparently waking up to a chaotic situation and seeking to defend his family?  He would be shot some 20 times;  he himself never managed to fire a shot.  As far as I know, Al Sharpton never offered his services to Guerena.  Obama and Holder said nothing.  Was it because Guerena wasn’t black?  Was Guerena, in fact, a ‘white hispanic‘ and therefore did not provide the necessary fodder for generating national rage?
  • In 2011, acting on a ‘tip’ that a house was ‘messy,’ a social worker enlisted the services of the police to enter the residence of a homeschooling family in Missouri, which led to the tasering of the husband and striking the wife.  Because of a tip… that a house was messy.  Give me a break.  This generated no national controversy.
  • Strangely, Miriam Carey was black, and still didn’t catch the attention of the race hustlers.  (Perhaps it was that it was on video, and couldn’t be inflamed more than the video itself justified.)

There are, of course, many instances of heavy-handed police activity.  It is often over the top and often it results in the death of someone.  The incidents often involve minor ‘crimes.’  The actions are carried out by governments at all levels–state, local, and Federal.  By focusing on the race aspect, the more important truth, that the United States is incrementally moving towards being a full-blown police state where every aspect of our lives fall under the scrutiny and micromanaging of the government, is overlooked.

Many people do not understand the dynamics created by involving the government in affairs, especially in contrast to private initiatives.  For example, in a recent blog post, I called attention to the coercive powers of the government as opposed to whatever influence evil rich people like the Koch brothers might have, and the point had no significance whatsoever with one of the commenters.   No matter how powerful folks like Soros or the Koch brothers have, they will never have the ability to send armed men in to legally enforce their will.  They will never be able to confiscate the property of dissenters, either via direct seizure or through the US tax code.

When you involve the government, you necessarily bring to bear the threat of force.  Force, by the way, that can be legally applied, but except in rare circumstances, cannot be legally resisted.

You can be sure that whatever well-meaning intentions were behind the banning of raw milk, no one suspected that it would lead to SWAT raids.  The elected officials in Burnsville, MN likely didn’t anticipate that their “property maintenance issue” could lead to one of its citizen’s incarceration.  The folks in Missouri who passed laws protecting the welfare of children didn’t consider the possibility that the law could be used as a blunt instrument by whispering neighbors and nosy social workers.

The do-gooders who allegedly wish to limit tobacco  use didn’t think of the arresting powers that came along restricting the distribution of it in New York city.  I say ‘allegedly’ because of course in this case at least the problem was in part that it was untaxed tobacco… Tobacco products provide the state of New York with big dollars–$4.35 a pack, and New York City grabs another $1.60 on top of that.  That’s almost $6 in tax revenue, and by the law of unintended consequences, provides a huge incentive for people to sell unregulated cigarettes on the street.  In other words, Garner would probably still be alive today if this huge ‘sin tax’ wasn’t present, and the money involved (from the perspective of the government) wasn’t so significant.   It is precisely because there is so much tax revenue involved that the government itself has an incentive to use force to enforce the tobacco laws.  And all force is potentially lethal force.

In my recent blog post on Ferguson, I hinted at these concerns, calling the police to task for going to these lengths.  It is worth quoting that section in full:

The instances of police brutality seems to be on the rise, and police officers seem to have taken the adage, “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6?” to heart.  Society has given them a pass in many ways because of the dangerous job that they have.  But part of that job is upholding constitutional rights.  That means that there are certain risks and responsibilities that come with being an officer of the law in our country that other countries don’t have to be concerned about.  That is to say, we certainly could better preserve officer safety more concretely if we disarmed every American and allowed the police to have their complete way with the citizenry.  But that’s not the way of freedom.  If a police officer cannot operate as though the civil liberties of the people he serves are as sacrosanct as his own life, he really ought to get out of the job.

The problem is really quite simple:  you cannot multiply laws and regulations endlessly, no matter how minor and relatively insignificant those laws and regulations may be, without bringing to bear the coercive powers of the state.  Indeed, it is precisely because so many of these issues are ‘minor and relatively insignificant’ that the problem is as acute as it is, for it means that a police presence becomes necessary in ever expanding situations–including ones that are minor and relatively insignificant.   And remember–while they are legally allowed to apply force, the citizen is not legally allowed to resist it.  I have heard it said that the average person commits three felonies a day.  Add to this now the wide range of other ‘crimes’ that come from the vast network of codes, regulations, etc, state, local, and Federal, and it becomes clear that incidents of police brutality must increase in frequency because cases of police involvement are increasing in frequency.

It is inevitable.  It is unstoppable.  No additional laws will help.  Indeed, they would only add more places where coercion may be deemed legally warranted, and you would not be legally allowed to resist it.  It is not because the nation’s police force is filled with crooks or bad men.  It is simply a question of the law of averages, compounded by the anti-personnel vehicles provided to local police agencies and the natural desire of police officers to NOT DIE while enforcing the INFINITELY INCREASING number of laws; and, as I said, society tends to give police officers a pass because of this.  We’ll never be able to eliminate tragedies at the hands of law enforcement.  Accidents will always happen.

The solution is straightforward and simple:  vastly reduce the number of laws and regulations that are on the books, state, local, and Federal.  I mean, really slash their number, so that they really only pertain areas of truly legitimate ‘public’ concern.  For example, murder, theft, extortion.  Not milk or tobacco or unfinished siding on a house.  Only by reducing the number of pretexts that conceivably require police powers can we reduce the number of ‘accidents.’

But even as I say this, it is clear that this ‘solution’ itself implies a greater problem:  the very tendency to create endless laws and regulations in the first place.  In my aforementioned Ferguson piece, I argued that the ultimate solution to their police brutality problems (if indeed they were race related) was for the citizens of Ferguson, who are predominantly black, to take over the political reins in their town, and seek to have a police force that consisted of black officers in proportion to the rest of the populace.  Presumably, since all of their police problems in Ferguson are because of white racism inflicted on black people, and always without justification, a predominantly black police department would end all the problems.  And there was nothing the white citizens could do to stop the black citizens, if they wanted to do this.  But the bottom line is that the solution is ultimately political.

The same is true in this case.

Now, the party of intrusive, over-reaching government in America is the Democrat party.  Truly, there is no intimate area of human conduct that a liberal believes the government shouldn’t be involved in.   Worst of all of them are the Progressives, who are on a quest to perfect society of EVERY.  SINGLE.  THING. that ails it.  Because they often fail to implement their goals locally, they are constantly pushing issues up the chain, from local community to the county, from the county, to the state, from the state to the Federal government.  And of course, from the Federal government to the International community, via the United Nations.  Every layer higher it goes, the harder it gets to engage in self-government, and the harder it is to reverse infantile and perverted intrusions into the nooks and crannies of human behavior.  That these are in fact infantile and perverted intrusions is often only discovered after awhile, when it is much harder to reverse.  (Think:  Prohibition.)   The spirit of perfecting society is often well-meaning and well-intentioned, but since liberals cannot convince enough of their fellow men and women to go along voluntarily with their sincerely intended schemes, they feel compelled to legislate as much of it as possible.

Ironically, liberals themselves are often offended by cases of police brutality and other government abuses.  They are oblivious to the fact that they are actively engaged in creating the conditions for these abuses to occur in the first place.

The first practical steps in reversing the situation, then, is twofold:

  • completely repudiate liberalism
  • resist Progressives and progressive thinking with all of your might.

A third practical step can be offered to the good citizens of New York City:

I mean really.  You kind of deserve whatever you get when you do that as far as I’m concerned.

Unfortunately, the spirit of liberalism (or, ‘perfect-society-ism’) is not at all confined to the Democrat party.  It permeates the Republican party, as well, and can even be seen within conservative thought.  It is precisely for this reason that for many years now I have characterized myself as a “Constitutionalist Libertarian.”  If the goal is to secure our freedoms and liberties, it is not enough to keep the properly Federal issues at the Federal level and the state issues at the state level and the local issues at the local level.  Obviously, that is a huge first step;  if the citizens of Burnsville, MN don’t like the idea that their code requirements can actually have the effect of leading to their incarceration, it is far easier to reverse such a thing if it is implemented and enforced locally, rather than Federally.  One also has to be prepared to live in a society with blemishes and ‘untreated’ issues… like, messy houses, or houses without (God forbid)… siding.

I was an elected official in my own town, and I watched for two years as even the ‘Republican’ members of the board passed innumerable rules and regulations, even going so far on occasion to characterize their action as ‘progressive.’  Obviously, the nanny-state advocates on the board could be expected to think that way, but the Republicans?  Alas, it is so, and not, I’m afraid, only in the town I had been living.  Almost certainly, none of them every considered the possibility that their well-intentioned efforts to perfect our small town could lead someday to the incarceration, or even deaths, of some of the citizens.  There was no ‘blemish’ they were not willing to address, and that attitude can be found throughout America, in communities large and small, in groups liberal and conservative.

To take one more example, I live in Wisconsin which is presently controlled by Republicans at every level as far as the state government goes.  Yet, there is no call at all to reduce and cut back on the laws and regulations that are inflicted on the citizenry;  presumably, this is because the citizens want those laws and regulations!  For example, consider this list of licenses required by the state.  Here are some excerpts:

  • Christmas Tree Grower
  • Dating Service
  • Ginseng Grower
  • Grease Processor
  • Honey Processor
  • Maple Sap (for syrup) Processor
  • Seed Labeler
  • Mobile Air Conditioners Repair

Uh, Christmas Tree Grower?  Grease processor?  Really?  If I could summarize this list, and perhaps expand the argument to all the lists in Wisconsin and other states, the bottom line is this:  if all you want to do is sit on your couch and watch TV and draw a paycheck from an employer, the government will pay you hardly any mind.  The minute you want to do anything else, great or small, the government is going to make you go through hoops and monitor you.  No one can imagine that a regulation regarding the growing and sale of Christmas trees could lead to someone being arrested and/or killed in the quest to enforce it, but that is precisely the nature of the “perfecting every nook and cranny of human society” beast.

Until this mindset is completely changed, you can expect even more intrusions into the private affairs of citizens, and ever more tragic incidents such as what we saw happen to Garner.  America was founded on the principle of self-government, and at the beginning this fundamentally referred to individual self-government.  We have lost our way, and the consequences are inevitable.  Assuming we continue down this path, you can pretty well count on a near-complete loss of liberties and freedoms.

Whether or not a citizen is white or black is an irrelevant sideshow.  At present, we are all destined for enslavement… and that, by our own hands, and (always) in the name of the ‘common good.’

Share

19 Responses to Eric Garner Protests Will Certainly Miss the Real Issue: Our Impending Enslavement

  1. Sorry, but I have to comment on this:

    Has anyone else noticed that between the Garner case and the Ferguson case, the Ferguson case is the one that has generated the most ongoing outrage?

    You’ve missed the point again. Like the previous thread, you seem very reluctant to acknowledge that the mayhem in Ferguson is due in large part to a number of other factors besides the shooting itself.

    Factors that are very much missing in the Garner case.

  2. Whatever, man.

  3. He did acknowledge other factors.

    Factors such as how in Garner, video evidence existed so that sensationalized “witnesses” couldn’t make the police officer the devil in order to feed into the liberal narrative.

    There’s another ‘factor’ right there.

  4. No. Factors such as Michael Brown’s body being left in the street for so long that his organs couldn’t be donated.

  5. While things like that may indeed contribute, they haven’t been as much of a factor as those already mentioned and addressed. As evidenced by the whole ‘hands-up, don’t shoot’ rhetoric, that’s been used everywhere even after the story was proven false.

  6. Well, since my opening post was framed as applicable regardless of whether or not Wilson was indicted or not, I (continue to) fail to see what bearing these ‘factors’ have on my thesis. You guys were trying to cram my thesis, detailed in that opening post for that blog entry, into the narrative, but my thesis transcends the narrative.

  7. Sorry EB, but when was the suggestion that Michael Brown put his hands up “proven false”? As far as I’m aware, the majority of witness statements support the notion. Not that that would prove it to be true, but by what objective means was it proven false?

    And SJ, as far as I’m concerned “my thesis transcends the narrative” is your new tagline. 🙂

  8. Other thoughts regarding your alleged Impending Enslavement:

    As Tim says, the the two cases of Brown and Garner are not identical, so there are may other plausible reasons for the different (although not all that different) public responses to them.  I feel like you ignore these differences in the service of making the point that you wish to make.

    “…the Ferguson case was not caught on video, which allowed race hustlers like Sharpton and Holder to give credibility to the most wildest accusations”

    Anyone who raises the issues of race in any situation gets accused of being a “race hustler” by conservative media sources.  Can you conjure up any particularly compelling reason to think that you wouldn’t have accused Martin Luther King of being a race hustler if you were writing this 60yrs ago? You would, after all, have been conforming to the mainstream conservative view at the time.

    You raise the issue of the laws that initiated Eric Garner’s fatal encounter with law enforcement.  Of course any legal prohibition has secondary effects associated with it, which is why I am not especially in favour of a prohibitionist public health approach (I realise this will shake your view of liberalism to its foundations, but try to keep up), but what is interesting to me is that Eric Garner has not become a Tea Party hero.  Why is that?

    Cliven Bundy (prior to revealing himself as an unreconstructed racist) WAS adopted as such, for doing pretty much exactly what Garner did (but in this case surviving) – flouting laws which he considered an imposition and then pushing back against the law enforcement officials who attempted to curtail his maverick non-conformist behaviour.  If someone had accidentally shot Bundy in the standoff that ensued he would have been elevated, by Fox News and others, to unimpeachable martyr status.  Eric Garner has not received this posthumous canonisation, despite how well his last words fit into to “Don’t Tread On Me” paradigm.  I believe a glimpse at the ethnic make-up of the conservative base of the Tea Party will furnish a clue as to why this is the case.

    “If it had not been on video, we would have heard that the police actually used a garotte on Garner; another witness would have told us that one officer pulled out a chainsaw and attempted to cut off Garner’s head right there on the spot.”

    Eyewitness testimony is unreliable.  That is just a given.  What seems clear is that you and EB are using this well-known fact exclusively to discredit any eyewitness testimony which goes against the “He deserved it” narrative.  Your sarcasm here obscures the point that there was more than enough ambiguity in the Michael Brown case for a trial to have been indicated, as it should have been in the Eric Garner case (and the Tamir Rice case, and the Victor White case, and the Dante Parker case, and the Ezell Ford case, and the Tyree Woodson case, and the John Crawford case, and the Jordan Baker case, and the Rumain Brisbon case, and on and on and on).

    It doesn’t matter that a trial would probably show that the officers in question “had no intention of actually killing Garner”.  I don’t think anyone is suggesting that it was a deliberate execution.  These protests, which you seem determined to minimise, stigmatise and misrepresent, are more about the level of force that racial stereotypes seem to make white cops think they need to use to take down black suspects – force which tragically often results in their entirely avoidable deaths.

    Did you know that the .357 magnum round was designed because it was thought at the time that a normal bullet wouldn’t stop a black man with cocaine in his system?  Well, whether or not the arms manufacturer in question really thought that I don’t know, maybe they just saw it as a good selling point to flog new merchandise to scared white folks.  Michael Brown seemed to just “run through” the bullets which we now know were mortally wounding him, didn’t he.

    “A lot of the focus seems to be on the fact that Garner was black, continuing the narrative that there is a nationwide holocaust being perpetually perpetrated on blacks by law enforcement”

    It seems very odd for someone so fond of invoking alleged nazi precursors in modern society, and enjoining us all to act now to stop their further development, to imply that black people would only be justified in protesting the way they are currently if an ACTUAL holocaust was taking place.  A holocaust is neither necessary (nor at all suggested by those who are protesting) in order to take a stand against systematic racial discrimination.  This is a strawman, and quite a revealing one at that.

    I have no objection to the idea of reducing the number of laws on the books.  Seems like there are too many.  And yet, you yourself are a proponent of imposing literal “sin tax” laws in the US which would have much more reliably fatal consequences for a larger number of people (i.e. abortion).  All force is potentially lethal force, right?  It’s just a matter of what you see as a legitimate cause to utilise that potentially-lethal force in defence of.  You are also on record as believing that same-sex marriage should remain illegal and have been eerily quiet on the subject of conservative efforts to criminalise consensual anal sex.  Get off your high-horse dude.

  9. Danny,

    “Sorry EB, but when was the suggestion that Michael Brown put his hands up “proven false”? As far as I’m aware, the majority of witness statements support the notion.”

    With all the moving to another state and starting a new job and getting ready for Sasquatch Spawn #4 and whatnot, I’ve not had the opportunity to follow the facts as closely as I would have liked. But if you look online, there’s a narrative (coming primarily from the right) that says many of the grand jury Witnesses (most of whom are black, allegedly) claim Michael Brown did not have his hands up, and that he charged the police officer. The Grand Jury apparently also looked at forensic evidence that made the #handsupdontshoot thing impossible. … I’m reading all of this second and third hand, mind you.

    Another Thing™ I’m hearing is the initial CNN video shows Brown’s body being covered with a body bag mere minutes after he was killed, not several hours as the standard narrative says.

    It’s hard to find similar attestations that aren’t on Fox, NRO, or other conservative outlets, but it’s worth a look-see, I think. If Brown charged the officer … if the forensic evidence negates the possibility of him having submitted and raised his hands, then the popular narrative fails.

    Could also be spin. I don’t know. I have too many boxes to unpack.

    “Can you conjure up any particularly compelling reason to think that you wouldn’t have accused Martin Luther King of being a race hustler if you were writing this 60yrs ago?”

    Sixty years ago, in 1954, Dr. King was still in school and was still Mr. King. I probably wouldn’t have written about him until at least 1955, following the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

    …Not your point, I know, but I feel like being contentious.

    “You would, after all, have been conforming to the mainstream conservative view at the time.”

    My parents were hippies. My grandma was the lone Civil Rights supporter in a snowy town of rednecks. I probably would not have conformed. I’ve never been fond of conforming.

    “Eric Garner has not become a Tea Party hero. Why is that?”

    Both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh spoke out against the lack of indictment the day it happened. Not sure if that means anything about the Tea Party, but it was nice to see.

    “there was more than enough ambiguity in the Michael Brown case for a trial to have been indicated, as it should have been in the Eric Garner case (and the Tamir Rice case, and the Victor White case, and the Dante Parker case, and the Ezell Ford case, and the Tyree Woodson case, and the John Crawford case, and the Jordan Baker case, and the Rumain Brisbon case, and on and on and on).”

    Yep.

    “I don’t think anyone is suggesting that it was a deliberate execution. “

    Many people are. It’s not the predominant narrative but, taken in concert with the other cases you mentioned, there is a new narrative coming out that cops, specifically, and white people, in general, want to gun down blacks. It’s usually the younger crowd that says it, but its more than just fleeting in my limited experience.

  10. “It seems very odd for someone so fond of invoking”

    That’s because you willfully choose to exclude my many explanatory remarks concerning these things. I have constantly and consistently called on Americans to return to the rule of law, forthwith, while it is still possible to do so. When, for example, I pointed out how amazingly simple it would be for blacks in Ferguson to end the institutionalized ‘race’ problem, if it really was a product of a disproportionate number of white people, by simply electing black people into positions of elected authority, I was only doing what I have called on whites to do: solve the problem through the ballot box and the rule of law.

    There are numerous examples, but a recent one (which you yourself commented on, indicating you had read it) is especially relevant, where I blamed the (white?) Christians in Houston for being the ones who helped vote in a homosexual activist in the first place, and challenged them to do EXACTLY the same thing I have put to the good folks of Ferguson.

    http://sntjohnny.com/front/frog-cries-out-hmmm-maybe-this-water-is-a-tad-hot-gays-houston-sermons-hero-and-the-death-of-marriage/2484.html

    Your comments are unjustifiable and are disingenuous, because YOU know full well that I have been consistent on these points.

    “And yet, you yourself are a proponent of imposing literal “sin tax” laws in the US which would have much more reliably fatal consequences for a larger number of people (i.e. abortion).”

    Speaking of ‘quite revealing.’

    This is a real problem you liberals have, but something that (if you will forgive me for being so direct in this public space) is inexcusable for YOU to say, and something YOU should be ashamed of saying. As in the above case, there are numerous places where I have spoken to this, and YOU have made comments, proving that you are aware of them.

    So the lurker doesn’t have to search hard to find my position, I’ll lay it out: You KNOW very well that even a constitutional libertarian like myself has no qualms whatsoever in having laws against, say… MURDER. You KNOW very well, that in the case of abortion, we do not see the ‘fetus’ as disposable human tissue, but rather genuine human beings, and therefore are acting entirely consistently when trying to protect them, especially since they are powerless to protect themselves.

    It is a matter of RECORD that you understand that this is a consistent application, since in fact you have tried to skewer it by saying in prior remarks that if we hold this position, then we should be out there gunning down abortionists and incarcerating women who get abortions.

    Since you KNOW this, YOU of all people should not recapitulate such drivel.

    “All force is potentially lethal force, right? It’s just a matter of what you see as a legitimate cause to utilise that potentially-lethal force in defence of.”

    Right; and no one would dispute that defending innocent human life is sensibly within that category. The dispute, in the case of abortion, is whether or not what we are talking about is really an ‘innocent human life.’

    Except that even here the depths of liberal depravity are not exhausted, since many liberals don’t even care about that. Eg, http://www.salon.com/2013/01/23/so_what_if_abortion_ends_life/

    Which is why I have stated that the rock bottom truth underneath liberal ideology is sex, always sex; as much sex as possible, at any cost, with as few (visible) consequences as possible. http://sntjohnny.com/front/the-crux-it-is-about-sex-at-any-price/2435.html

    There again, you will note that you yourself commented on that post; it is another case where we might say YOU know full well what my positions are.

    “You are also on record as believing that same-sex marriage should remain illegal”

    So? I also said, and have repeatedly said, that if the government is going to be involved in marriage at all, it should be primarily for the protection of defenseless human lives–the children (see the operative principle?)

    I’m sure EB can produce some examples, and you could too, if you weren’t so hell-bent on dismissing everything I say.

    It’s one thing to disagree with me, it is quite another to disregard everything I’ve actually said about my positions as though I never said them.

    “and have been eerily quiet on the subject of conservative efforts to criminalise consensual anal sex.”

    lol you’re hilarious.

    “Get off your high-horse dude.”

    If you come away from this post thinking that I consider this latest comment one of your most disreputable, ever, you’ll know what I think of that sentiment.

    Peace out, DH.

  11. DB: SJ’s link to the hearing testimony sufficiently shows how reliable the so-called eye-witnesses are.

    As for “being proven false,” it was noted that the forensic evidence supported Wilson’s account more than the protester’s, and indicated that it’s unlikely Brown had his hands raised when shot. But what does the truth matter in the face of inflaming racial rhetoric?

  12. Hi Joe,

    Sasquatch Spawn #4?  Congratulations dude, I can understand how that might be keeping you a little busy.

    On the “hands up” issue, eye witness testimony – as we all know – is often unreliable and can’t be considered definitive proof of anything.  The fact that a majority of witnesses (in the summary of statements that I read, at least) mentioned raised hands is suggestive, but not conclusive.  On the forensic side, all that has shown as far as I am aware is that his hands could not have been raised when certain bullets hit him. That is a very long way from disproving the notion that he had his hands up at any point, and crucially it has no bearing on the situation when the fatal head shot was fired.

    As I said, I’m not really commenting on who was more to blame during the shooting, although I think that there was reason enough for a trial to be held.  I don’t support the demonisation of either protagonist because the truth of the matter is most likely to be that both had opportunities to de-escalate the situation.  Those calling for the police officer’s head on a pike are being just as irresponsibly partisan as those who brand the young man a demonic thug who got exactly what he deserved.  But make no mistake, the first narrative originates from the grievances of a community which has endured a great deal of brutal injustice from the police over the years, while the second is a manifestation of the racist stereotypes of violent animalistic Black men which have been first the cause, and later the justification, for much of that injustice.  We saw the same revealing pattern of victim-demonisation by conservative media figures when Trayvon Martin was killed.

    “Another Thing™ I’m hearing is the initial CNN video shows Brown’s body being covered with a body bag mere minutes after he was killed, not several hours as the standard narrative says.”

    Ok.  I haven’t looked into that enough to know either way.  It is quite possible.

    I was thinking about OJ Simpson yesterday, and remembering seeing Black guys on news reports celebrating his not guilty verdict with triumphant shouts of “The Juice is free!”.  Were they wrong to do so?  I’d say so.  Was OJ actually guilty of the crime of which he was accused?  Almost certainly.  But can a motive beyond the most blindly partisan racial solidarity be understood for why those people celebrated?  Yup.  It symbolised something for them, just as the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner do for many people, in a much more negative way, today.

    Seems like we’re hard wired to have a simplistic good vs evil view of the world.  Is it too complex to suggest that the police being racist frame-up artists is not incompatible with OJ also being guilty?  Or that Brown having been “no angel” does not preclude the possibility that the officer would not have used such deadly force if he had been White?

    “Sixty years ago, in 1954, Dr. King was still in school and was still Mr. King. I probably wouldn’t have written about him until at least 1955, following the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

    …Not your point, I know, but I feel like being contentious.”

    Hmm, not a strong math moment for me there.  Thank you (and I say that only semi-ironically) for pointing it out.

    “Both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh spoke out against the lack of indictment the day it happened. Not sure if that means anything about the Tea Party, but it was nice to see.”

    I believe what you tell me, but neither statement would do much to balance out the frequent use of both coded and explicit appeals to White racial anxieties and resentments which both those “gentlemen” employ in the service of keeping their almost exclusively White audiences self-righteous and fearful.  In either case it’s a drop of honey into a bucket of poison in my opinion.

    “It’s not the predominant narrative but, taken in concert with the other cases you mentioned, there is a new narrative coming out that cops, specifically, and white people, in general, want to gun down blacks. It’s usually the younger crowd that says it, but its more than just fleeting in my limited experience.”

    Again, ok.  That’s not at all helpful.  Rather like the Black Power movement was a toxic response to the overwhelming White privilege of the 1950s and ’60s.  Ironically, then as now, the more aggressive a protestor is the more attention they are likely to get, especially from conservative media sources who wish to portray the entire protest movement in a manner which allows their more reasonable complaints to be delegitimised.

    Some protestors being looters is not mutually exclusive with the suggestion that the movement may also represent some valid and important truths.  In this case I think that the lack of nuance and complexity is a deliberate tactic by some (not you).

    The Sasquatch cannot be accused of lacking nuance and complexity.

    Take care buddy, and my regards to Mrs Joe.

  13. Tony,

    I’m sorry that you consider my views as expressed here to be so inexcusable, shameful, unjustifiable, disingenuous and disreputable.  You are my friend and your good opinion really matters to me.  Doing my best to objectively assess your criticisms therefore:

    You interpret much of what I said above as a product of my “wilfully ignoring” your previous statements on certain issues.  In the spirit of full transparency I should point out that if I seem to be operating as if certain historical conversations of ours have not occurred then I may have sometimes just forgotten.  Nonetheless, I’ll accept that I sometimes respond to you in a way which does not fully take into account your worldview.  My apologies.

    “I have constantly and consistently called on Americans to return to the rule of law, forthwith, while it is still possible to do so.”

    Granted, but that wasn’t the point of what I said.  You misrepresented (in my opinion) the narrative of these protests as suggesting that there is a “nationwide holocaust being perpetually perpetrated on blacks by law enforcement”.  I felt that was a characature designed to undermine the legitimacy of the grievances felt by the Black community in places like Ferguson, and the protests they have generated, and suggested that you have advocated “taking a stand” against much less holocaust-level offences by the state against White Christians.  I didn’t comment on what KIND of stand you advocate taking compared to them.  No doubt they are very different, and that is perhaps a consequence of the starkly contrasting relationships that White and Black people have historically had with government authority.

    Perhaps that contrast also explains your (I maintain, complacent) assumption that it would be “amazingly simple” for Black people in Ferguson to end institutional racism through democratic/electoral means merely because they are in a majority.  Peaceful protests are another sort of democratic means, of course, often employed by the civil rights movement because of the barriers which many ethnic minorities face in attaining elected office (barriers which may still exist in areas where they constitute a local majority, by the way).  Your characterisation of the entire Ferguson protest movement as violent and criminal seems like a preemptive dismissal of the peaceful and democratic routes for expressing their views which many of them have taken.

    “I was only doing what I have called on whites to do: solve the problem through the ballot box and the rule of law.”

    I understand that.  Two questions – 1) how is that effort going for White Christians?  Has it been as “amazingly simple” as you predicted for them to get their views and concerns fully represented?  And 2) is it possible that the strategy you suggest might be more difficult for an economically and socially deprived Black community to implement than for a relatively prosperous and already politically well-represented White one?

    These are the points on which I feel the credibility of your “advice” to the Ferguson protestors rests.

    On the abortion issue:

    Of course I am aware of your position on the equal human value of a one-day foetus.  In the light of that belief, an IUD or a morning-after pill is an unequivocal murder weapon, and the person who uses it is theoretically just as guilty as someone who deliberately kills an adult or child.  However, you cannot deny that the practicalities and consequences of enforcing laws against murder would be very different if those laws were extended, as you would wish, to include embryos and foetuses.

    We know this from looking at countries where abortion is illegal.  The collateral damage of infertility, critical illness and death from unregulated and therefore often unsafe abortions is a consideration which does not apply to the criminalisation of post-birth murder, so even assuming the strictly pro-life position, this kind of criminalisation is a significantly greyer area than the homicide laws we are all familiar with.

    That, in my view, opens the debate about the wisdom of a Prohibitionist approach in very much the same way as it does when it comes to other behaviours (for example, smoking or gun ownership) which have a well-established associated death toll, but whose legal prohibition would also have the potential to do significant harm.  It is a public health/philosophical debate that I am interested in having, but am not convinced that dogmatic restatements of your core beliefs and invocations of “liberal depravity” add very much to it.

    This is EVEN more clearly the case when it comes to same-sex marriage, where you are practically embodying the worst kind of Progressive Big Government Prohibitionist stance – advocating for something to be illegal on the basis of entirely unsupported assertions of harm.  The government IS involved in marriage (although I agree with you that it has no particular business being so), and given that reality there is no argument beyond the most antediluvian or speculative for excluding same-sex couples from that institution.

    Also, I’m sorry if you have told me this in the past and I have forgotten, but could you clarify for me your position on what the legality of consensual sodomy ought to be?  Thank you.

    Hasta Luega amigo

  14. EB,

    “SJ’s link to the hearing testimony sufficiently shows how reliable the so-called eye-witnesses are.”

    Eye witnesses can often be unreliable, although I can’t help feeling that you are exercising somewhat selective credulity here given your absolute faith in implausible and contradictory secondhand eye-witness accounts from the first century CE.  🙂

    “As for being proven false,…”

    The funny thing here is that you quietly back away from “proven false” to “shown to be unlikely” (in a judicial process widely regarded as having been biased towards that conclusion, incidentally) in the course of a single sentence, and then say:

    “But what does the truth matter in the face of inflaming racial rhetoric?”

    Or indeed when trying to dismiss and discredit protests against a long-running history of police brutality as mere “rhetoric” for the purposes of propping-up the self-serving notion that racism is pretty much over.  The fact that, in the effort to do so, people tend to invoke the old stereotypes of Black people, both individually and collectively, as thuggish, animalistic and uncivilised indicates the unpleasant ideological origins of such efforts.

    Anyway, you appear to concede that the “hands up” narrative has not been “proven false” at all, which was my point.  Doesn’t mean it’s true either, but maybe you could see your way to applying the same level of skepticism to the claims of people who you otherwise disagree with as you do to those of your own.  Actually, scratch that suggestion – it would make you hopelessly gullible.  Maybe aim for a mid-spectrum level in both cases.

    Later

  15. “Eye witnesses can often be unreliable, although I can’t help feeling that you are exercising somewhat selective credulity here given your absolute faith in implausible and contradictory secondhand eye-witness accounts from the first century CE. :-)”

    Probably because like most people in the 21st century, you just believe people’s ability to recollect what they witness is the same throughout time, while those who actually take the time to study and keep cultures in perspective can recognize the difference between societies that rely totally on computers and videos to recall info, and societies that ONLY had eye-witnesses to record events and was thus more focused on developing that ability.

    It’s akin to comparing a witness driving by 90mph, and a court stenographer who stayed for hours.

    “The funny thing here is that you quietly back away from “proven false” to “shown to be unlikely””

    And the funny thing, is given your (and atheists in general) penchant for believing science is the only reliable form of investigation, I can’t help feeling that you are exercising somewhat selective credulity here. 😉

    “Or indeed when trying to dismiss and discredit protests against a long-running history of police brutality as mere “rhetoric” for the purposes of propping-up the self-serving notion that racism is pretty much over.”

    More like pointing out that regardless of how justified the protests may be generally (though the current methods may not be), the particular incidents that have ignited them are not such examples, and their fixation on continuing to use them as such instead of more legitimate ones, hurts their legitimacy.

    “The fact that, in the effort to do so, people tend to invoke the old stereotypes of Black people, both individually and collectively, as thuggish, animalistic and uncivilised indicates the unpleasant ideological origins of such efforts.”

    That minority owned businesses get’s burned during protests, and we hear chants of killing cops, doesn’t help them either. Which again just goes back to mine and SJ’s earlier stance that the black community has more responsibility for their situation these days than they did a hundred years ago.

    “Anyway, you appear to concede that the “hands up” narrative has not been “proven false” at all, which was my point.”

    Uh, no. More like you’re trying to inflate a degree of uncertainty (in a judicial process just indicates you being biased to a certain conclusion incidentally 😉 ). The narrative that Brown had his hands up surrendering when he was shot has been indeed proven uncredible in the face of both more reliable eye witness testimony and forensics backing the officer’s statement of the incident. In the face of no other reliable evidence indicating otherwise, it has indeed been PROVEN FALSE.

    So to reiterate, the entire string of recent protests for police misconduct to blacks are indeed more fueled by race baiters inflaming certain elements of incidents than the facts, since said incidents have proven to be more justifiable than not once you take race out as a factor. And the black community’s continued fixation on such elements that have later been proven false, damages their credibility.

    But I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I feel blacks are the only ones who don’t care about the facts for the sake of a narrative of constant victimhood. AS DB has proven (especially in regards to his comments to SJ), it’s more a trait of liberalism of any color to be biased towards a certain narrative, regardless of facts.

  16. EB,

    “Probably because like most people in the 21st century, you just believe people’s ability to recollect what they witness is the same throughout time, while those who actually take the time to study and keep cultures in perspective can recognize the difference between societies that rely totally on computers and videos to recall info, and societies that ONLY had eye-witnesses to record events and was thus more focused on developing that ability.”

    Do you have any evidence to back up that assertion? I don’t know of anything that supports the idea that eye-witness testimony is more reliable in pre-technological societies.

    Let’s take a pre-20th century American example – the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Can you tell me what John Wilkes Booth shouted as he ran across the stage (in full view and earshot of literally hundreds of attentive theatregoers) after shooting the president? Or perhaps you know what Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, said after Lincoln finally died in the house across the street, in a room full of educated and literate men who were all no doubt conscious of the historical importance of the occasion?

    Obviously since you have “taken the time to study and keep cultures in perspective” you’ll know about the multiple available answers to both these historically important questions. Seems odd that there should be so much disagreement about the basic facts of an event witnessed by numerous non-computer-dependent people, and which occurred in a time and place (unlike 1st century Judea) where individual testimony COULD be quickly recorded and reproduced in print.

    Maybe I should track down a remote Kalahari Bushman, tell him “EB is inventing post hoc rationalisations to explain away the problems in his broken-down belief system”, and then go back in a couple of generations to see how faithfully the message has been preserved. You know, for science.

    “More like pointing out that regardless of how justified the protests may be generally (though the current methods may not be), the particular incidents that have ignited them are not such examples, and their fixation on continuing to use them as such instead of more legitimate ones, hurts their legitimacy.”

    The straw that breaks the camel’s back doesn’t have to be very heavy. It doesn’t even have to be a straw, actually. It could be a feather, but if it FEELS like another straw then it’ll do the job all the same. Focusing on the exact classification and weight of that final straw as if it was the solitary cause of the camel’s spinal fractures is missing the point I’d say.

    It’s a brilliant metaphor.

    “Which again just goes back to mine and SJ’s earlier stance that the black community has more responsibility for their situation these days than they did a hundred years ago.”

    Problem is, that’s been the white conservative position all throughout and even before that hundred year period. Black people only have themselves to blame for their enslavement, imprisonment, indenture, economic and social deprivation, massively poorer health outcomes, etc. Looking back 50 or 100yrs, we can all agree that narrative was obviously inaccurate and self-exonerating privileged piffle. The idea that NOW it has suddenly become the objective and reasonable response is what seems rather unlikely to me.

    And on the “hands up” issue, from a forensic point of view you can only prove a negative (such as “Michael Brown never put his hands up”) by definitively proving a mutually exclusive positive claim (for example, “Michael Brown kept his hands down at all times during the encounter”). A significant number of independent witnesses claim to have seen him raise his hands, which is not proof that it happened, but it certainly cannot be proven NOT to have happened by forensics which only pertain to the moments when SOME of the shots were fired and the conflicting testimony of other witnesses, who you (totally objectively) categorise as more reliable.* But have you checked on whether or not they use computers? Because only Amish witnesses are truly credible these days y’know.

    So, for a variety of reasons, you are demonstrably factually incorrect to say that the “hands up” protest meme has been “proven false”. You can certainly question the likelihood of its having occurred, although that again seems like quibbling over the exact weight of a single straw whilst standing next to a camel lying flattened under a massive haystack. Perhaps if you were less of an instinctive literalist you would be able to look upon it as an allegory. 🙂

    * – and at least one of whom is now admitted by the prosecutor to have been lying, something he knew to be a strong probability when he allowed her to testify before the Grand Jury. That seems bad to me, but perhaps I’m just biased towards a certain conclusion.

  17. “Maybe I should track down a remote Kalahari Bushman, tell him “EB is inventing post hoc rationalisations to explain away the problems in his broken-down belief system”, and then go back in a couple of generations to see how faithfully the message has been preserved. You know, for science.”

    And maybe Lincoln was never carried to the Peterson house. Maybe he was never shot by Boothe to begin with. Maybe Lincoln never died at all! He’s still alive today!

    Because according to DB (and modern day philosophical naturalists in general) nothing recorded as witnessed before 1888 can possibly be confirmed as true, but must be taken as a either a product of ideologically driven propaganda or a giant game of telephone.

    Except that we evolved by unguided processes over millions of years. That just HAS to be true. 😉

    “The straw that breaks the camel’s back doesn’t have to be very heavy.”

    How about the straw needing to exist in the first place? You know, instead of having other people with an obvious agenda tell you it’s there and playing on one’s prejudices to drive one towards a frenzy.

    Frankly, if that were to occur the camel may find there was less weight than it imagined the whole time.

    “Problem is, that’s been the white conservative position all throughout and even before that hundred year period.”

    Which doesn’t mean it’s not true at this moment in history. You know, with a black president being an obvious example of how opportunities for African Americans do indeed exist today, or how much power there is of fear of being labeled a racist over revealed private emails.

    But again, as pointed out there is indeed a type of victimhood where the ‘victim’ may indeed not deserve the offense(s) given, but where he/she not entirely innocent of their own circumstance either. These days, I find this to be the case for most Americans facing differing degrees and methods of discrimination. For both African Americans, conservatives, Christians, etc.

    “A significant number of independent witnesses claim to have seen him raise his hands…”

    Usually ones who changed their testimony* or proved to not had witnessed the event at all. And others who said he didn’t (at least not in a surrendering gesture). So again, as it stands WITHOUT any other evidence. The narrative that Brown was shot raising his hands surrendering is proven false.

    * That people have lied or proven unreliable for both narratives of the event is not a disclaimer for other witnesses. Which is why one tests reliability in the first place, since I’m not closed minded enough to dismiss entire avenues of investigation entirely, but that’s just me.

  18. EB,

    Happy New Year.

    “Because according to DB (and modern day philosophical naturalists in general) nothing recorded as witnessed before 1888 can possibly be confirmed as true, but must be taken as a either a product of ideologically driven propaganda or a giant game of telephone.”

    This response bears little relation to what I wrote. You have still not supported your extremely shaky assertion that eyewitness testimony in the pre-internet age was significantly more reliable. I provided an 1800s example of an important historical event where witness statements differ in quite significant ways and in retaliation you rush to heap ridicule on a heavily manured field-full of poorly-stuffed strawmen. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    Eyewitness testimony is always a questionable sort of evidence (more so when recorded second or third-hand and conforming to the ideological/partisan interests of the re-teller), but a preponderance of independent testimony pointing in the same direction can be compelling. You, as usual, only know how to be appropriately skeptical of such testimony when it conflicts with your beliefs.

    You seem to implicitly acknowledge that the “Blacks only have themselves to blame for their situation” narrative has been the white conservative position for at least a hundred years. That makes it almost impressive that you can bring yourself to argue that this “doesn’t mean it’s not true at this moment in history”. Lol, right. Basically, we’ve been wrong for the whole of the last century, but that’s no reason to think that we’re not right now! You prop up this stellar example of reactionary chutzpah with the sort of tokenism (which we have already discussed) that can be just as clearly used to “prove” that there has been no discrimination or oppression directed against women in Pakistan since 1988.

    Come to that, if the election of an African-American as US President is evidence that Black people have nothing to complain about in modern America then what are we to make of YOUR persistent grievances about the treatment of Christians in the US given that the last 40-something presidents have ALL been Christians? And if you are allowed to insert caveats about how Clinton or Obama aren’t “true” Christians, or that some Christian presidents haven’t properly represented your interests, then why aren’t African-Americans allowed to make the same caveats?

    “So again, as it stands WITHOUT any other evidence. The narrative that Brown was shot raising his hands surrendering is proven false.”

    Holy smokes EB, learn how to back down when you mis-speak. It is much less discrediting to admit that you were wrong about something than it is to cling to that obvious wrongness for fear of appearing weak. I wouldn’t even say that the Virgin Birth – something that I am 99% sure did not happen – could be “proven false”, despite the utter lack of serious evidence in its favour and plenty of reasons to think that it was the invention of gospel writers determined to make Jesus’ life-story fit with misunderstood and mistranslated Jewish prophecies. By all means say that the evidence for Brown having raised his hands and/or surrendered is not strong, and that there are some forensic reasons to doubt that it happened. I would completely agree with that. But by first overstating, and then refusing to back down from your case you make your bias on this issue clear to see.

  19. “This response bears little relation to what I wrote. You have still not supported your extremely shaky assertion that eyewitness testimony in the pre-internet age was significantly more reliable.”

    Uh, pretty much because every example of eyewitness testimony being reliable is in the history book as I satirically noted – Lincoln being shot by Boothe and taken to the Petersen house where he died.

    My statement was about the context of civilizations that YOUR statement about double-standards failed to take into account. Little more evidence is needed than simply looking at the self-evident contexts of societies, and seeing how technology has shaped things when compared to those that didn’t have our conveniences. Ours is the age of the Internet. The age of TV. The age of social media. Ours is an age of being able to record things down near instantaneously because we are the age of the attention deficit disorder.

    But just because we’re like this now doesn’t mean people were in the 18th century America, or even 1st century Palestine. It’s comparing apples to oranges. Even comparing 18th century isn’t really an accurate comparison to the 1st considering back in the 18th it was easier to jot things down on paper, while in the 1st century people primarily passed info on orally (Jews especially).

    To clarify I’m not saying eye-witness accounts in 1st century should immediately be believed without verification. On the contrary – all claims need to be checked out (hence why a large part of my view on Ferguson is shaped by the forensic results, before I was actually leaning more towards the protesters). But your accusation of me applying some kind of double standard is as naïve as saying there’s a double-standard for taking the eye-witness accounts of police detectives as more reliable than the accounts of grade schoolers, DB.

    “You seem to implicitly acknowledge that the “Blacks only have themselves to blame for their situation” narrative has been the white conservative position for at least a hundred years.”

    *snort* More like I acknowledge that reasoning has been around some circles. Though it’s telling how you paint white conservatives with such a wide absolutist brush. Just as I note the reasoning that people (of all ethnicities) can’t take care of themselves and need to be managed has been an underlying view of tyrants and dictators throughout history, but am sure you’d hedge at how this seems to align with the liberal tendency of using government oversight as the solution to problems.

    But again, I note how your (and the black community’s) views stem so much from a focus on how society was 100+ years ago, and far, far less on how the situation is different NOW. Which just goes back to one of my earlier observations about there being a type of ‘victim’ who’s more interested in wallowing in their victimization, than in taking truly meaningful steps to improve their situation. Steps like the ones SJ has called people to take.

    “Come to that, if the election of an African-American as US President is evidence that Black people have nothing to complain about in modern America then what are we to make of YOUR persistent grievances about the treatment of Christians in the US given that the last 40-something presidents have ALL been Christians?”

    Automatic rampant denial and dismissal? Wait, that’s pretty much what YOU have done in the ten odd years I’ve been at this site. What then are we to think when you turn around and so casually brush a clear example of how much improved (I invite you to reference where I ever say blacks “have nothing to complain about”) the African community’s situation is compared to how it was a century ago? A clear indication of YOUR bias and perhaps a bit or racism, no?

    “I wouldn’t even say that the Virgin Birth – something that I am 99% sure did not happen – could be “proven false”,”

    This would be far more meaningful if the whole “millions of years of evolution” touted by atheists wasn’t so clearly used as an indication that at least the Genesis account was “proven false.” Or if that wasn’t the atheists attitude for the Biblical account of things in general.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*