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Archive for the ‘culture of violence’ Category

Legitimacy.

It is what a government has when it largely represents the will of the majority of its people. Not the will of a small minority. And not imposing tyranny on that small minority either, it respects and protects the rights of that small minority. But we have a word for when a small minority rules the majority — that word is *tyranny* — and tyrannies are always illegitimate.

In the case of courts in English-speaking countries, they maintain their legitimacy via what’s known as “stare decisis”. That is, they based their opinions in court cases based upon a) current law, and b) previous opinions. This is not a new principle. It is one reason, for example, why the Catholic Church moves so slow — they have 1,500 years of precedents for papal opinions, and if a papal opinion doesn’t comply with that 1,500 years of precedent it can make only a tiny move towards a new position at a time, it can’t just throw out the old position altogether.

Stare decisis was the basis for the Supreme Court’s decisions for the past 150 years. Each new decision was couched in the language of previous decisions, or in the plain language of the law itself. This has at times caused issues when the Court recognized rights that were not currently respected, such as the right of black people to attend the same schools as white people, but even there the opinion was couched in Equal Protection language from prior court decisions. The Supreme Court didn’t come roaring out of 1945 intent upon guaranteeing equal rights to black people and simply ruling that black people had equal rights, it built decision after decision upon prior decision. When it decided “separate but equal is inherently unequal” it did not pull the decision out of its butt, it relied on 50 years of data showing that “separate but equal” never was plus language from previous Equal Protection court decisions showing that if the school segregation law was not treating citizens equally, it could not be law.

In this fashion the Supreme Court has typically been an anchor preventing radical change while providing for preservation of rights. The Court has at times gone off into evil territory — Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson come to mind — but eventually through applying the Constitution to court case after court case managed via stare decisis to come back from the dark side. Stare decisis gave legitimacy to the Court’s opinions and thus legitimacy to the notion of rule of law. And rule of law is important, because without rule of law, what you have is rule of gun, and rule of gun always ends up with the most ruthless and most murderous in charge.

Which is why it’s utter disaster for the United States that last week the Supreme Court basically threw stare decisis into the toilet in favor of a radical coup that remade American law from scratch based upon the ideological notions of the judges. By throwing out stare decisis in favor of imposing their ideology upon the nation, the Supreme Court has basically killed any legitimacy that it had. The Supreme Court fundamentally committed a right wing coup of the U.S. government last week, a coup setting five authoritarians in charge of the nation, and killing any respect that the majority of Americans have for the court.

Why is that important? It’s important because the Supreme Court relies upon other branches of government to do its work. The Supreme Court did not enforce the desegregation of Little Rock High School. The 101st Airborne did, via the intervention of the executive branch. So the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s concealed weapon law was illegal. New York’s concealed weapon law is very popular in New York State. What is the Supreme Court going to do when New York says f**k you, we’re going to continue enforcing our concealed weapon law? Joe Biden isn’t going to dispatch the 101st Airborne to free people imprisoned for violating New York’s concealed weapon law.

For those of you who have been in the military, there is an important and fundamental principle taught to every officer: Never issue a command that you know is going to be disobeyed. It destroys your legitimacy as an officer and makes it more likely that future commands are going to be disobeyed. This is what last week’s Supreme Court did — they issued a command that they know is going to be disobeyed. They issued that command because they *know* that it’s going to be disobeyed. The Supreme Court knowingly destroyed its own legitimacy. Why? Simple — the Supreme Court in the past has been a major defender of rights for minorities in America. By deliberately destroying the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, the right wing is betting that they via rule of gun can then take away rights from minorities that were previously granted by the Supreme Court.

In short, last week’s Supreme Court deliberately destroyed its own legitimacy in hopes that rule of gun rather than rule of law will become the norm in the United States. The right wing believes that because they are the most ruthless and most murderous people in America, they will come out on top when rule of law collapses because the judicial system has lost all legitimacy. Last week’s Supreme Court decisions weren’t an accidental destruction of the Court’s legitimacy — they were a deliberate destruction by people who want to burn it all down. And if you are not a white male Christian with conservative beliefs, you should be very, very worried right now.

— Badtux the “Time to get well armed, people” Penguin

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Because if you do, it’s likely to find you. You can get hurt. You can get killed. And if you end up killing someone, accidentally or not, you’re in a world of hurt. You’re going to be in jail (especially if you crossed state lines, where prosecutors will argue you are a flight risk if let out on bail), your family is going to go bankrupt paying for your lawyer and for bail bond fees (if you’re allowed out on bail).

Furthermore, if it’s a controversial shooting because you’re a white kid who crossed state lines to provoke black kids into doing something to justify you shooting them, you’re going to be hounded for years. Your car is going to be egged and its windows smashed. You’ll have trouble getting high paying jobs because businesses don’t want anything to do with the controversy that happens if they hire you. Your only friends will be skinheads and Klansmen who are, let us say, Not Nice People. And forget about going to college at anything other than in-state open enrollment public colleges — any selective institution will look at your name and background, and decide you’re not the kind of person they want in their institution, if only because of the controversy admitting you would bring. Your life will basically be over, for years.

Unfortunately, you get young kids who are impressionable, who’ve watched all these superhero vigilante movies and think it’s cool to be a vigilante and carrying an AR-15 and fighting crime makes them a cool superhero. Uhm, no. There’s nothing cool about it. You’re putting your life at risk and you’re not getting paid for it, and because you’re a private civilian, you don’t have sovereign immunity if you kill someone. Cops are getting paid for it. Cops have sovereign immunity. Let cops handle it. Or if the cops can’t handle it, let the National Guard handle it, they’re being paid to fight crime too. You and me? Oh fuck no. If it’s not one of my close friends or relatives calling for help, my gun stays in my house where it belongs. It’s just not worth the buttload of hurt that will come down on me if I go looking for trouble — and find it.

But that’s the difference between an old dude with common sense, and a young twirp raised by vigilante superhero movies who thinks what he sees in the movies is real. Uhm, no. Unless you’re the Black Panther — the literal king of a kingdom, complete with diplomatic immunity if you manage to kill someone outside your kingdom — being a vigilante is a good way to ruin your life or even get killed. There ain’t shit “cool” about a lack of common sense. Stupidity is not a good look, ever.

– Badtux the Common Sense Penguin

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I get really annoyed with the “thin blue line” copaganda. where cops propagandize that they have to be brutal and do illegal things because they’re the only thing standing between society and anarchy.

The reality is that most people want to do right and want things to operate smoothly. Otherwise we could not have a society — the number of police officers in America (roughly 850,000) could not force 300,000,000 people to “be good”, there just isn’t enough of them. The reality is that there are relatively few people who want to abuse others, who want to kill or brutalize. And at least half of them are cops. We hire thugs in order to make sure that other thugs are taken care of, but the number of thugs on both side of that line is a fairly small percentage of the population as a whole.

In short, cops aren’t holding the “thin blue line” between civilization and anarchy. They’re taking care of a relatively few criminals who want to hurt other people. There could be civilization without cops — in fact, there was civilization for tens of thousands of years without cops, modern police forces don’t arrive in history until the 1830’s, less than 200 years ago — it just had different mechanisms for handling the relatively few thugs, ranging from vigilance committees sometimes directed by town constables or county sheriffs to private security forces hired by merchants, and the outcomes were generally hangings rather than jails or prisons.

In short, modern police forces don’t hold the line between civilization and anarchy. Rather, they provide a less brutal way of prosecuting crimes that has built in checks and balances and additional levels of punishment compared to just hanging suspected cattle rustlers that the vigilance committee catches. Or at least, that’s the intent. The actual practice doesn’t quite match that standard, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clarke, Botham Jean, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, and hundreds of others could attest. If they were still alive, that is.

— Badtux the History Penguin

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By 1939 the Nazis had opened multiple concentration camps and were filling them with political opponents and ethnic minorities such as Jews and Roma. And Republicans were whining that FDR was being mean to those Nazis, that if we only tried to reach out to them and meet them halfway, we could resolve all this unpleasantness between us.

To which I say: Bullshit. Once a party starts putting people into concentration camps, the time for talking is over. The time to remove them from power begins.

As it was then, so it is now. There are those who say we should reach out to the people who are putting innocent kids into concentration camps without trial (remember, in the US system, innocent until proven guilty, and lack of a trial means they’re innocent). Bullshit. Trying to reach out to the kind of people who put kids into concentration camps is pointless. They have already shown that they have no moral compass and that any attempt to appeal to their moral center will fail. At this point the only thing to is the same thing that was done in 1941-1945 with that other group of people who put innocents into concentration camps without trial: Remove them from power.

Luckily, here in the USA we have this thing called the *vote* which hopefully results in less bloodshed than the last time we had to do this….

– Badtux the “Can’t argue morality with immoral people” Penguin

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Officer restrains a girl who had been fighting by slamming her face into a cafeteria table using her hair as a handle. The students had been just generally heckling the officers before then, but this almost started a riot.

The school district and police department whine, “but you didn’t see the whole incident”. Well. The students who were there and did see the entire incident appear to believe that the officer used excessive force to the point where some were ready to push the officer off the student. It takes a lot to get students to go that far. I’ve been in that situation of having to use force against a student before, and it’s a touchy situation, but I never — ever — had other students attempt to interfere with breaking up a fight. We moved in and restrained the students, turned them around so they couldn’t see each other anymore, and started walking them in opposite directions using the force required and no more while asking them what the heck they were trying to do, major verbal judo to daze ‘n’ confuse them and get them thinking about something other than fighting until we could get them out of the cafeteria and into (separate) offices. At most the other students heckled us about how the fight was just getting good when we broke it up, but they never tried to interfere with what we were doing. But then, none of us slammed a girl’s face into a table while using her hair as a handle either, because that’s not what our training told us to do. These officers almost incited a riot. I’ve never seen anything like that in any school I ever taught at, including the behavior center for “bad” kids where most of the kids had probation officers. None of them even got *close* to rioting when we broke up fights, they mostly seemed to view it as entertainment. This implies that whatever happened before this footage was *bad*.

And BTW, yes, there was one incident I was involved in where students stepped in — but to *help*, not to lynch us. A kid came last day of school with a knife to stab a kid he blamed for getting him suspended earlier in the school year, and it took three teachers and two students piling on him to keep him from killing someone. And one of those students who helped us had a probation officer, I know because I’d met the probation officer earlier in the school year during my planning period when he came by to ask about the student’s behavior and academics. Students can be rude and disrespectful but they know right from wrong (even if they’re not always doing the right thing) and if you’re in the right, they’re not trying to attack you, they’re trying to help you if you need help, even the “bad” students. If you just wade in and start slamming people around using far more force than required, on the other hand… that’s a good way to start a riot. Just sayin’.

The sad thing is all the (white) people defending what happened by saying “but this video isn’t the whole story!” Well, the kids who were there have the whole story. They obviously think excessive force happened. Who should I believe — some random white people who weren’t there, or, like, the kids who were actually there? Hmm….

– Badtux the Former Teacher Penguin

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So we had:

  • The MAGAbomber, sending letter bombs to prominent Democrats,
  • A shooting at Kroger where a white supremacist apparently decided to start shooting black people,
  • and a shooting at a Jewish synagogue where a white supremacist killed eleven people.

All within a week.

So I’ll drop this quote here:

“[These deaths] say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 18 September 1963
Birmingham, Ala.

What is the commonality between them all? All three murderers (or wanna be in the case of the MAGAbomber) subscribed to various right-wing conspiracy theories about Jews, Democrats, and black people.

Who is spreading these conspiracy theories? Is it a few nuts and cranks on the Internet? No, it is prominent Republicans, including top cabinet members and officers in our Federal government — including, of course, the President himself.

At which point we’re back to MLK Jr., who was responding to a church bombing that killed four little girls. The bombers were prominent KKK members who were also top officials in local law enforcement. MLK’s point was that if it was not these particular people, it would have been someone else who murdered civil rights workers, because the whole system of white supremacy was based upon violence against black people and their supporters.

At this point, I think we can say that the whole system of Republican supremacy is based upon violence against black people, Hispanic people, Democrats, Jews, and their supporters.

That is all.

– Badtux the Waiting-for-Kristallnacht Penguin

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Stalin’s Soviet Union was a vicious place, where at any moment the secret police could arrest you and send you off to the gulag concentration camps. Children under the age of 2 got sent with their families, while children above the age of 2 went to relatives or state-run orphanages. One thing that was *not* done was to rip children away from their families and send them to separate concentration camps just for children. Granted, the orphanages weren’t exactly cushy places. But they weren’t concentration camps. Unlike this:

This is a detention center for unaccompanied children. It is set up in an abandoned Walmart store. But this is a cushy detention center. Why, they’re given mattresses to sleep on, instead of being required to sleep on the raw concrete! That at least makes it better than the detention cages on the border:

The cages on the border are where the children are kept for one to three days before they can be shipped off to the “cushy” detention center. They’re not given food during that time, and are not given a mattress or blankets. Because it is a “temporary” holding facility, Homeland Security claims they don’t need to provide any of that.

Note that this photograph dates to 2014, during the Obama regime. Which shows that the Republican lie of Obama not being “tough on immigration” was utterly false. Obama was no friend of immigrants, just as the black community, as a whole, is no friend of immigrants, who they view as having come into America and taken “their” jobs. And so the cycle of viciousness towards our fellow man goes on, despite everything that God says:

Hell, even the Southern Baptists, who are as regressive as you can get without being a total Bircher, are rather queasy about the whole be-mean-to-immigrants thing:

God commands His people to treat immigrants with the same respect and dignity as those native born … we desire to see immigration reform include an emphasis on securing our borders and providing a pathway to legal status with appropriate restitutionary measures, maintaining the priority of family unity, resulting in an efficient immigration system that honors the value and dignity of those seeking a better life for themselves and their families … any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is especially hypocritical is people like Vice President Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions who claim to be Christian advocating treating immigrants badly, even to the point of wanting to send migrant kids to tent cities in the fierce Texas summer heat, something would have made Stalin chortle with delight since he did the same thing with adults when he sent them to the frozen Siberian north. But Stalin never claimed to be Christian. I mean, if you claim to be Christian, shouldn’t you, like, obey the word of Christ? Isn’t that, like, the whole point of being Christian? But I guess their Christianity stops when they exit the churchyard door.

And so we continue treating children in ways that would make Stalin envious in their utter cruelty….

– Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

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I have to laugh at the ammosexual boobs who think the Viet Cong guerrillas won the Vietnam War and thus this proves that unorganized peasants with AK-47’s can defeat the US Army. They didn’t. They were totally destroyed as an effective fighting force in 1968 when the North Vietnamese deliberately sent them all into battle as a distraction against regular U.S. Army units.

All fighting after that was by regular units of the North Vietnamese Army vs regular units of the U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The NVA were armed with artillery and tanks and surface to air missiles but had trouble moving these into South Vietnam when they infiltrated units into South Vietnam, thus the illusion that the US was fighting a bunch of peasants armed with light weapons. But they weren’t. It was just that U.S. bombing made it hard to move the heavy weaponry into South Vietnam. Once the U.S. left the war and quit bombing, it turned into conventional warfare between conventional army units of the North Vietnamese Army and the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam. It was regular units of the North Vietnamese Army backed by Soviet-provided tanks and Soviet-provided artillery, surface-to-air missiles, and other such heavy weapons who conquered South Vietnam, not some random civilians with AK-47’s.

The myth that the Viet Kong won the Vietnam War is an old one and a deep one, fed by stupid newspapermen and stupid movies and racism on the part of Army grunts over the course of decades. But in the end, it took tanks and artillery and other heavy weaponry to win the war for North Vietnam — not a buncha peasants armed with AK-47’s. All that the peasants ever managed to do was become dead bodies. Which is all that would happen if the ammosexuals decided to take on the U.S. Army, too.

– Badtux the Military Penguin

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Again.

Spree shooter armed with an AR-15 style rifle shoots up a Waffle House.

Most murders are pretty easy to solve because they’re either before a lot of witnesses or they’re between people known to each other. Most murders are an abusive husband killing a wife, a gang banger killing a rival gang member, a drunken man outside a bar lying in wait for another drunken man that he feels wronged him, a neighbor shooting another neighbor who he feels wronged him. Those kinds of murders, which are spur of the moment murders for the most part, are on the decline as the population ages and the new generation of young men isn’t so touchy about their masculinity that they’ll just gun down anybody they think threatens their masculinity. Thus the overall murder rate is going down.

These spree shooting murders, however, are on the rise. The frightening thing about these is that they’re not avoidable. You can avoid being shot by your neighbor if you just ignore your neighbor’s meth lab rather than call the cops on it every other day. You can avoid being shot by your abusive husband by, well, just not going for the “bad boys” like so many women do (even women who should know better seem to go for the “bad boys” when they’re young, and find out that, well, living with those boys is dangerous). You can avoid being shot by a drunken bar-goer by not going to bars where that kind of thing happens. But if someone decides to shoot random strangers at the Waffle House where you’re eating breakfast, there’s no way to avoid that.

That’s why these spree shootings scare the bleep out of people despite the decrease in the murder rate — sure, murders are declining, but this *specific* class of murder, where a stranger just murders strangers for no reason at all, just keep going up and up and up. And scared people demand action. Sooner or later, the NRA’s ability to head off those demands is going to fail, and you’re going to see draconian gun laws that basically outlaw everything but single-shot shotguns and bolt action rifles. You’d think that, given this, the NRA would be floating some realistic proposals to do something about this increase of spree shooters. Instead, they just keep whining about mental health — even though it’d be unconstitutional to force people to accept mental health treatment (the Supreme Court has ruled that people have a right to be as crazy as they want to be) and so their whining about mental health isn’t a solution to anything at all.

— Badtux the Murder Penguin

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Donations to the NRA tripled after the Parkland shooting.

I know someone who claims that the NRA deliberately obstructs any attempts to stop these school shootings and maybe even engineers them because each one results in a rush of donations to the NRA. That is, they profit over our dead childrens’ bodies.

I considered him to be just a flake because have trouble believing that even the NRA board is that cynically venal. But then I remember Woodward and Bernstein: Follow the money. Every one of these shootings results in a flood of donations to the NRA. Every single one. At some point the image of profiting from the dead bodies of our children becomes the reality of profiting from the dead bodies of our children. And the image of the NRA blocking efforts to stop piles of dead children becomes the reality of the NRA assisting the creation of piles of dead children.

Ghouls. That is the best I can say about the modern NRA.

– Badtux the Grim Penguin

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