Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Semi-Open Thread: 'Pacific Standard' and the 'Texas Monthly' do Some Great Truth-Telling on the Monster John Russell Houser and the Victim Sandra Bland

Some late night/early morning link sharing for a Sunday. As is our habit do treat this as a semi-open thread to share whatever matters of private or public concern that you feel are appropriate.

Saturday was a hot day here in Chicago. My excitement for the day consisted of trying to perfect my pork katsu, watching UFC, and sitting inside with my shirt off and the air conditioner on. I also got to watch the aftermath of an electric transformer explosion (it looked like lightning and sounded like thunder) that stranded travelers on a nearby Metra Electric train. All of the lights and noise from the many fire engines and rescue personnel must have been great masturbation material for the local pyromaniac.

I found two essays and a comment that I felt would be of interest to you, the kind readers and friends of

[And yes, I have decided on a new name for the site as shared on last week's podcast.]

One of you sent me a link to this essay in the Pacific Standard on the toxic, angry, white, Right-wing gunman John Russell Houser who killed three people and wounded 8 others in a Louisiana-area movie theater on Thursday.

At the Pacific Standard, Ted Scheinman wrote:

In fact, the man described in so many news reports as a “lone gunman” was not precisely alone. He is yet another diseased agent of toxic resentments that constitute the foundation of politics for an alarming number of people in this country. His talking points come directly from the playbooks of conservative talk-radio, the Tea Party movement, and the gun-deregulation crowd. Houser evidently internalized their injunctions in a deep sense—the apocalyptic rhetoric about Obama and white decline, the Trumpian defamations of immigrants, every strange perceived slight that gets aired on Stormfront or the Occidental Observer, every claim that white supremacy is a figment of history rather than a basic element of American society. The aggrieved whites of the right will do everything they can to avoid calling this terrorism, and they will claim that insanity is more important here than politics. What the equivocators will never admit is that Roof and Houser are the logical result of their foul rhetoric—if you keen for long enough about the dangers posed by blacks and Mexicans, someone is going to take you at your word.
This echoes much of what we have been discussing here over the last few years about the Right-wing hate media and how it weaponizes its followers. The Right-wing echo chamber is winding up human bombs and unleashing them on the American people...all the while denying any connection to the dead and broken bodies which are the result.

Yesterday was Sandra Bland's funeral. She was killed by America's Jim and Jane Crow police and legal system. It was not a good death. And most disturbing to my eye and ear, is how Sandra Bland narrated her own death during the dashboard video of her encounter with the living nightmare that is an authoritarian thug cop, and an innocent black American who dares to assert their Constitutional rights and liberties.

The Texas Monthly hits the nail on the head in Dan Solomon's essay 'On Contempt of Cop,' Jailhouse Suicide, and Sandra Bland

On cue, one of the comments (and there are many other examples I could have pulled from) in response to Solomon's excellent intervention provides an ideal typical case of white supremacy and authoritarianism in action.

A Right-wing media sewer dweller urinal cake eater cop fetishist wrote:
What a bunch of uneducated, one-sided crap. I'm extremely disappointed in the level of ignorance shown by this writer and Texas Monthly. I will be canceling my subscription and sharing this article with my network of police families so that you don't profit in any way. Not a dime. This article is what is wrong with society. You paint this picture as if the person was pulled over because of her race. Actually, she was pulled over for breaking the law. During a traffic stop, you are under arrest until released by the officer. Any tactically sound officer would demand someone put out their cigarette. Why? Imagine this scenario. The cigarette could be used to burn the officer. In the second it takes the officer to recover from it, the driver could pull a gun. Game over. End of watch. Another family gets to live out their nightmare. So, you get asked to put out your cigarette, there's a reason. If you choose to react like a childish punk, instead of a respectful citizen, you will escalate a situation that would otherwise end very tamely.

How many traffic stops come and go with no one hanged in a jail cell? Thousands. Every day. For a person to act so ridiculously, an officer is trained to act on suspicious behavior. He asked her to exit the vehicle, most likely as a result of her outrageous behavior. Because why would any normal person act like this. I've been stopped before. I took my ticket and my day went on normally. If you act like you are either on a controlled substance, could be hiding something or are so defensive, there's a good chance you have a warrant or just stole something. This is how an officer thinks.

Once this lady chose to ramp up the situation to the point she wouldn't even get out of the car and had to be dragged out, the officer has no choice but to ensure his and everyone else's safety. So, yeah, "your dime" pays them. Know what? Your dime is a joke. It's not enough to pay these men and women to do what they do, day in and out. They are in an all out war against criminals. They protect victims of domestic violence. And now, they are in the middle of a free-for-all because people with big mouths and no common sense decided they are the bad guys. So, how about this. Put on a vest. Put on a gun belt. Get behind the wheel of a police car. And go out and uphold the law. Fight for your life every shift. Kiss your loved ones goodbye overtime, because you might not come back. The majority of people with this ignorant view have never done the job or loved someone who does the job. So, maybe you can't be faulted for not knowing better. But now you do, and ignorance isn't an excuse anyway. Get educated, Texas Monthly. Shame on you.
Whiteness blinds. It also has a profound lack of impulse control and self-reflection as many of its owners cannot resist any opportunity to embarrass themselves in public through an adherence to a creed that devalues the lives of people of color, cultivates stupidity, and is itinerant in its devotion to disciplining any party--especially a fellow "white" person--who dares to discuss the empirical fact that is White Privilege.

Any good discoveries in print, online, or elsewhere that you would like to share?


MaryLF said...

Here is a blog post by Fred Clarke, a person whose blog I read regularly. (Like yours, a blog I read, but rarely comment on). I thought it might be an interesting addition to your discussion. It focuses on the most recent theater shooting. (How sad/absurd/horrifying is it that we now have to distinguish between theater shootings?).

joe manning said...

Masculine violent culture goes way back to when we were cave men and later morphed into bellicose machismo. The mandatory unprovoked fight among men is a common place. I assume that officer Encenia's touchiness was triggered by this archetypal male fighting animus.

When I was growing up it was considered to be something of a social obligation to never back down from a dare or a fight. As a little boy I knew in detail how me and my fellows rated in comparative fighting silks.

John Wayne westerns taught us that one had to be ready at all times to fight on invitation lest we be called "yellow" or "chicken."

At the risk of getting too far off topic my point is that at the most fundamental level boys and men's culture needs remediation. This is a task for pubic ed. at a time when it is being severely curtailed.

Gable1111 said...

It is that, but a subset of this group, the ones who ultimately act out in shooting incidents, its also about control, or a perceived loss of it.

The "macho credo" that young men and boys get caught up tends to be focused on not backing down or showing fear in the face of threats of other males. This group sees fighting women as a sign of weakness. But the control aspect of it, e.g. the need to control those they see as inferiors, e.g. blacks, women, POC, and any group that is defined as inferior.

I grew up with the macho creed, and I know that a man who would sneak up behind two women and shoot them would be seen as a coward. But those who have control issues beat up women, and anyone they see as weak or feel threatened by because they are not sufficiently subservient.

Char said...

I know you've been following the Hulk Hogan story, Chauncey. Take a peek at the comments coming out of that story if you can stand it. More of the same blindness as the person who wrote that letter.