NO FAVORITE EXAMPLE LEFT BEHIND: Charles Blow says what Hannity said!

TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2015

Part 2—While still denouncing Their Tribe:
Last week, some videotape emerged from South Carolina.

On the widely-aired tape, a man is running away from a policeman. He is shot eight times in the back.

Everyone on the face of the earth understands that this police conduct is wrong. Last Thursday night, Sean Hannity stated his reaction to the tape, as noted in yesterday’s post:

“I look at this video and I want to cry for this man and his family because under no circumstances should any cop that's not under a threat be shooting somebody in the back.”

Everybody understands that the conduct is wrong. But yesterday, in the New York Times, Charles Blow enacted an ancient impulse:

Charles Blow was able to see that the whole thing is even wronger!

Is our modern “liberal” world built upon moral vanity? If so, our leaders must find ways to distinguish us from The Others, even on matters where everyone agrees.

Especially on matters where everyone agrees! If the others agree with us on anything, this undermines the prehistoric impulse on which the tribal vision is built:

The pleasing belief that the other side is less than fully human.

A great deal of modern “liberal” posturing is built around that ancient heuristic. This may explain the unhelpful, deeply clueless column for which Blow found instant praise.

As the column started, Blow was disturbed. Below, you find out why. Headline included:
BLOW (4/13/15): Walter Scott Is Not on Trial

I not only watched television pundits discuss the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C., last week, I participated in some of those discussions.

And the most disturbing thread that emerged for me was people who said up front that they saw no justification for Scott being killed, but nevertheless stalked around for a back door that would allow them to surreptitiously blame the victim for his own death. Some formulation of “if only he hadn’t run...” was the way this dark door was eased open.
According to Blow, some TV pundits (apparently plural) had “surreptitiously blamed Walter Scott for his own death.” According to Blow, this was the most disturbing thread he encountered last week, which seems to mean there were others.

Is it true? Did some TV pundits blame Scott for his own death? As he continues, Blow never says who he’s talking about, although people who watched CNN last week may feel they know.

We’ll give two names below.

Before he’s done with his column, Blow accuses such people of reprehensible thinking. He seems to think he knows why they made their vile, unquoted remarks. In line with prehistoric heuristics, he knows they’re less than human:

“It is tragic to somehow try to falsely equate what appear to be bad decisions made by Scott and those made by the officer who killed him. There is no moral equivalency between running and killing, and anyone who argues this obdurate absurdity reveals a deficiency in their own humanity.”

According to Blow, these pundits equated Scott’s act of running away with the officer’s behavior in shooting Scott eight times in the back.

This is an “obdurate absurdity,” Blow bravely declared. He boldly said that this “reveals a deficiency in their own humanity.”

In comments, admirers cheered.

Did anyone actually make that false equation last week? Before we link you to several cable discussions, let’s review more of the moral greatness Blow brought to yesterday’s column, a piece with as many empty calories as you’ll ever find.

As Blow started, he described “the most disturbing thread” from TV. In paragraph 3, he said he finds it “particularly disturbing” that “we try to find excuses for killings,” that we “seek to deprecate a person when they have been killed rather than insisting that they deserved to remain among the living.”

Has anyone actually done that? Rather than name any actual names—rather than provide any quotes—Blow proceeds to offer the world’s most obvious moral musings.

What follows is empty calories—a cosmic waste of time. It’s also a prime example of a moral vanity within our tribe which is dumb and counterproductive:
BLOW: For me, there is only one issue in the Walter Scott case: he is dead, and that cannot be undone. And not only was he killed, but he was killed in a most dishonorable way: shot in the back as he fled. So, for me there is only one question: Should the dead man be dead? Is there anything, under American jurisprudence and universal moral law, that justifies the taking of this man’s life?

All else wanders into the weeds. The judicial system could have easily dealt with any misdeed Scott is accused of—failure to pay child support, failure to present proper documentation for a car he was driving, resisting arrest, fleeing—and none of those offenses, if he were found guilty of any or all, would have carried the death sentence.
Is anyone morally greater than Blow? If we’re reading this passage correctly, Blow says people shouldn’t be shot in the back if they haven’t paid child support.

Did we fully grasp his insights? As he continued, Blow spelled them out:
BLOW (continuing directly): Unfortunately, police officers encounter lawbreakers on a regular basis. Unfortunately, some resist arrest. Some flee. These are simply occupational conditions of being an officer—an admittedly tough job that few of us would sign up to do. But none of those offenses grant a license to gun a man down.

A life is the most precious, most valuable thing in creation. It cannot be casually ended. It cannot be callously taken.
It must always be honored and protected, and the person living it needn’t be perfect; he or she is human.

The bar of justification for extrajudicial killings is high, and necessarily so, even among suspects accused of crimes. Killing sanctioned by courts in the form of executions are problematic enough, as evidenced by recent exonerations of men who spent decades on death row. How much more problematic could killings be of people who don’t live to get a trial?
Interesting! If we’re able to follow Blow here, he is saying that a life shouldn’t be ended callously. He says police officers don’t have the right “to gun a man down.”

He even asserts that “the bar of justification for extrajudicial killings” is, and should be, high.

These are among the world’s emptiest observations. Blow is stating moral precepts on which everyone agrees. Hannity had provided the proof on TV four nights earlier.

It’s also true that these empty calories represent a waste of a valuable platform. From his very high perch at the Times, Blow could be telling us something of value—something we don’t all know.

Instead, he chose to posture. Before he was done, he was issuing manifest nonsense like this:
BLOW: Social justice, equal treatment and violence exerted by structures of power against a vulnerable population shouldn’t become a sprocket in our political machines. This is about right and wrong, not right and left.

Neither should we have such widely differing racial perceptions about whether use of force is appropriate and to what degree. For instance, as The Associated Press reported last week: “Seven of 10 whites polled, or 70 percent, said they can imagine a situation in which they would approve of a police officer striking a man. Most blacks and Hispanics did not agree.”
Really? Most blacks and Hispanics can’t imagine a situation in which they would approve of a police officer striking a man? They’re joined by 30 percent of whites?

In fairness, Blow presents an actual quote from the AP's latest hapless report. On its face, though, that assertion doesn’t seem to make sense.

Sure enough! This also appears in the hapless report by the AP’s Jesse Holland:
HOLLAND (4/4/15): Almost everyone seemed to approve of police officers hitting suspects back when attacked with fists, but whites again outpaced blacks and Hispanics with their approval. Nine in 10 whites approved of police hitting a person when attacked by fists, with 74 percent of blacks and Hispanics agreeing.
In this passage, large majorities of all three groups reveal that they can “imagine a situation in which they would approve of a police officer striking a man.” (For reasons only he can explain, Holland calls this “almost everyone.”)

Why did Blow offer that ridiculous quote from that hapless AP report? Beyond that, what did liberal readers think about that ridiculous quote? We often wonder how fellow liberals manage to choke such pabulum down. That said, we get giant amounts of this lumpy porridge from moral posers like Blow, and we seem eager to swallow.

Blow’s column was full of empty posturing. He made high-minded moral declarations, boldly stating points on which the whole country agrees.

This brings us back to the miscreants around whom Blow built his column. Here’s the full passage in which he describes the very bad people he met on TV:
BLOW: It is tragic to somehow try to falsely equate what appear to be bad decisions made by Scott and those made by the officer who killed him. There is no moral equivalency between running and killing, and anyone who argues this obdurate absurdity reveals a deficiency in their own humanity. Death is not the appropriate punishment for disobedience. Being entrusted with power does not shield imprudent use of power. And one of the saddest and most frustrating features of our current debate about police use of force, in communities of color in particular, is the degree to which justice itself has been absorbed into the ideological struggle in this country.
“Death is not the appropriate punishment for disobedience,” Blow insightfully said.

Did someone say different on TV? Blow never named or quoted these people. But his claim lets our tribe believe that we are much better than The Others, that we are much better by far.

To whom was Blow referring? For one example, he was presumably referring to Harry Houck, a former NYPD detective who appeared with Blow on last Thursday night’s Anderson Cooper 360. Mark Geragos was also present, staging a second straight night of cable attacks straight outta the Nancy Grace playbook.

You can read the Thursday night transcript yourself. But Houck is so deficient in his humanity that at one point he even said this:

“This officer should not have shot that man in the back. I hope he goes to jail for the rest of his life for what he did. It was totally wrong.”

Moments later, Blow said this: “There are ways to deal with fleeing suspects that is not to shoot them.” Houck responded by saying this:

“I agree with that 100 percent.”

You can read the full exchange to see why Blow emerged so “disturbed.” For ourselves, we watched that segment in real time. We were struck by several things Houck said. That includes the comment which has the morally exquisite Blow so upset.

That said, we didn’t feel the need to crawl off and declare that Houck had “revealed a deficiency in his own humanity.” Or to say, even more absurdly, that he had declared that “death is the appropriate punishment for disobedience.”

Bowing to the tribal impulse, Blow imagined the vilest possible motives for the things Houck said. The prehistoric tribal impulse permits him to do nothing else.

We had a different reaction. Watching Geragos misbehave for two straight nights on Cooper’s show, we could see why former policemen might take offense at some of the things being said.

It also happened on Cooper’s Wednesday night show. Blow and Geragos appeared with former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who actually dared to say this:

“The rules are pretty clear on fleeing felons. Unless they present the danger of a serious personal injury or death to someone else, there is no shooting someone trying to escape. You know, Anderson, it doesn't seem to me to be any legal, ethical, or moral reason from looking at that video for those shots to have been fired at all. It should have been a foot pursuit. But, you know, can I just address something that Mark said? Mark is engaging some really dangerous hyperbole here. And this is doing nothing to advance any kind of dialogue between police/community relations…”

Presumably, Bongino is the second person who has Blow so disturbed.

We could see why Bongino and Houck may have disliked some things Geragos was saying. But the prehistoric tribal impulse says we must never do that.

We must always interpret The Other in the most negative possible way. We must then slither off to the Times and make vile accusations against them.

Can we talk? Out in the country, other people see this sort of thing for the sheer stupidity it is. This drives political wedges all over the land.

On the bright side, we liberals get to imagine a moral greatness we actually don’t possess. Caught up in our tribal vanity, we can’t even imagine a situation in which a policeman might need to strike someone!

When voters see us saying such things, they think we're strange and stupid.

Four nights earlier, Hannity proved it—everyone agrees about the death of Walter Scott. But the tribal imperative forbids agreement.

In the process, the plutocrats win.

Tomorrow: What the New York Times said last week about a favorite example

The way our tribals respond: In comments, “first responder” Rima Regas rushed to affirm Blow’s vision.

She posted two “replies” to her own comment, as she routinely does. Along the way, Regas said this:

“No one should die because of a broken headlight. No one should die because of non-payment of child support. Everyone should survive a police encounter, no matter the reason.”

“Everyone should survive a police encounter, no matter the reason?” In principle, this is a pretty idea. In the real world, where people sometimes shoot guns at police, this is a crowning example of our tribe’s moral obtuseness—of the silly self-regard which leads to silly statements.

Hannity agrees with Regas. In the world of tribal self-defeat, such things simply can't be allowed!

57 comments:

  1. Blow is just getting out in front of this. When the cop goes to trial, then he'll have the opportunity to question why Scott is the one on trial.
    ----
    OTOH, if your complaint is that the Blows of the world can't put 2+2 together, (people sometimes shoot guns at the police, because we live in a violent culture where anyone who wants a s many guns as they would like should have them) then you might have a point.

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  2. From U. of Texas EDH, circa 1990:

    In the August 19, 1989 issue of the weekly magazine, Science News, there appeared an article summarizing a research project on lead poisoning that was first reported in the American Journal of Public Health. This research documented the significant risk of lead poisoning in indoor range users. The study followed 17 members of a law enforcement trainee class through a three month period of firearms training on a state-owned indoor range. During the peak training period, the trainees spent an hour on the shooting range every four days. This isn't much range time compared to the amount put in by most firearms instructors. Nonetheless, in this class, all but two people developed elevated lead levels, and several developed levels considered to be lead poisoning.

    The author of this article is a firearms instructor and an avid shooter, and was aware of the potential of lead poisoning with indoor range use, but like most, he hadn't worried much about it. However, encountering this report caused him to have his blood lead level tested. It turned out that he had serious lead poisoning which explained the reason for a host of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms that had been developing for months, but which his physician had been unable to diagnose. It also motivated the author to do some serious research into lead poisoning, and to write this article.

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  3. Cont'd:

    The difficulty in recognizing or diagnosing lead poisoning is that the most common symptoms are also the symptoms of acute stress or clinical depression. Victims of lead poisoning often feel like they are having a nervous breakdown, and they frequently attribute this to stress from their job. They feel as though their job is killing them. Few jobs are more stressful than police work and this makes it very easy for an officer to ignore the symptoms of lead poisoning until things are quite advanced. Few jobs demand more sharpness, attention, judgement, or a cooler head than police work, yet lead poisoning directly diminishes these very qualities. A moment of bad judgement can get an officer killed, or ruin his career.

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    1. You need to close the loop on this and tell us how much time the average police officer spends on any shooting range once they are past their initial training. I doubt it is much unless an individual officer is a gun enthusiast. Further, your report is from 1990. What kinds of protective gear might be used these days to prevent lead poisoning at indoor firing ranges? An instructor is there all day but the average cop spends much less time at such a range. You would need to show a greater rate of depressive symptoms among instructors than among rank and file officers to make this case.

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    2. http://projects.seattletimes.com/2014/loaded-with-lead/1/

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    3. Sparky, as much time as Bob has spent covering police shootings lately, you would think he would have researched this important topic. He is fond of the work of Kevin Drum, who has brought the nation's attention to the benefits of removing lead from gasoline.

      Now that it has been mentioned on his blog, I expect he will do a full report. Unless he is committing an act of blogger fraud or despises gun owners.

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    1. Gerhardt FrochsteinApril 14, 2015 at 1:15 PM

      Kate's alternative to ACA.

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  5. Blow's purple prose about how death is a tragedy is useless verbiage. Each year three and a half million Americans die. Most of these deaths are tragedies. Blow really needs to address the cause of the problem, the magnitude of the problem and suggest solutions. But, that would require actual research and knowledge.

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    1. As an expert purveyor of partisan useless verbiage, that's the pot calling the kettle black (pun intended). Your actual research and knowledge begins and ends with right-wing talking points. Whether Charles Blow discusses the problem or solutions to it would likely draw the same jingoistic bullshit from you and your ilk.

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    2. David in Cal's contributions here are usually well considered and logical. "Talking points" is a meaningless phrase designed to replace argument, employed by those who cannot figure out an argument but would like to.

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    3. Ahh, no they're not, but nice sockpuppetry nonetheless.

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    4. "Sockpuppetry" and "Talking points" are just more meaningless phrases, and "no they're not" isn't much of an argument.

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    5. David is an idiot but he is consistently civil and thus more tolerable than the other trolls, IMHO.

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    6. DinC is the David Brooks of TDH.

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  6. Eight shots fired. Five strike their target. But let's not be picky. Whom do we think we are, the author of this blog? The target is moving away, and yet is struck 2 our of three times? That's right up there with Lee Harvey Oswald. What was Darren Wilson's hit/miss ratio? Accounts differ.

    When the Zapru -- I mean -- the Santana video begins, the two men are face to face. Did the younger man catch up so quickly with the older, paunchier man? Slager did not seem to be in the mood for any of what Untouchable Sean Connery called "this running shit." Or did Scott halt when ordered to? Or did he turn and charge Slager Michael Brown-style? Did Scott see that, despite surrendering, he was about to be tazed and bolted afresh, knocking the Taser out of Slager's hand?

    Slager went for his gun while bending over to pick up the dropped. Did he really put up that much of a resistance to Scott's efforts at not being tazed? Wilson admits his frame of mind was not, "How can I resolve this situation without violence?" but "Can I legally shoot this guy?" Was Slager asking himself the same thing?

    Did Michael Brown go for Wilson's gun because he saw Wilson go for it first and feared being shot? Is there nothing to be learned from the parallels between the unrecorded Brown and recorded Scott cases?

    Will the Justice Department conclude Scott's civil rights were violated? Will the Santana video enable Justice to see what couldn't be seen in the Brown case?

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  7. This particular case seems to have gone over the line, so that no conservatives are willing to try to justify the officer's conduct on TV (but look at blog comments, for example). The video evidence is indisputable. But from past experience we know what happens if there is no video evidence. We know, for example, that police are never held to account if there is any possibility of covering up the evidence against them. We know that it is the one shot who has some kind of evidence produced against him by police. There is little fair treatment by police of anyone who has a disagreement with police, unless the person has enough money or influence to make trouble (assuming he is still alive or has influential relatives).

    This case among many others shows that police conduct and handling of these cases has to be changed. This is not "driving a wedge", this is trying to introduce some fairness into the system.

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    1. Police body cams will soon be widely implemented, usually to the detriment of defendants who would attempt to claim excessive use of force.

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    2. And perhaps, @ 5:04, to the "rare" but rather large benefit of people who might otherwise be improperly beaten, tazed, or shot.

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    3. Couldn't agree more, 5:10. We should all want to eliminate excessive use of force against citizens by police as well as bogus claims of it by criminals that cause police officers unnecessary grief.

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  8. Folks, blogger is steadily slouching towards a defense - of the killer cop !

    Th execrable Geraldo has already come out with - "this is at the most a manslaughter" - blogger is itching to call for an acquittal, excoriating "liberals" all the way.

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    1. "Everyone on the face of the earth understands that this police conduct is wrong."

      Ooopsie!

      I meant to say, "Everyone on this comment page knows that 3:54 PM Anonymous is a douchebag troll."

      All better.

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    2. The blogger is a liberal, so naturally would be concerned about a defendant receiving a sound defense. What blogger usually does not do although you do, is decide this question based on skin color, with a hope that white defendants will be inadequately represented.

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    3. Right. As a liberal, the blogger only uses skin color to decide whom journalists despise.

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  9. Nice to see Somerby agree with Sean Hannity that 8 shots from behind is a little overboard. Whereas if Charles Blow says essentially the same thing, he is preaching to the choir. and his words are worthless.
    If the video had not emerged both Somerby & Hannity would be busy justifying the killing.
    Goddamn liberals.

    LG

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    1. skeptonomist and LG -- Resorting to hypotheticals in order to maintain hate is the kind of thing that Bob's post was about.

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    2. I thought Bob's imagining who Blow was talking about was pretty good. It allows him to continue two favorite themes: attacking the press for not naming names, then attacking Blow for imputing tribal motives to Blow's reactions to things said by persons unnamed.

      Of course I speak hypothetically.

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    3. Hate? My oldest son's godfather is (retired) NYPD. I hate no man.
      I have 2 sons and 2 grandsons. All black.
      I worry about them everyday.
      I hate no man.

      LG

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  10. The thinking behind the disparity between groups on the subject of whether and when an officer may strike someone depends on whether one can ever see himself in a circumstance in which he "needs striking" such as after having struck the officer himself. Those who can envision themselves needing striking should not be taken as seriously as opinions of those who cannot easily envision themselves in that situaiton. Those who say they cannot imagine anyone ever needing striking by a police officer need not be taken seriously at all and in fact should be laughed at.

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  11. To the retard who took issue with my prediction - just watch and wait folks - this officer will get the best representation money can buy (enough Klansmen out there to send him donations) and may very well walk or draw a couple of years.

    Blogger would then swoop in - flames issuing from his nose- "was the verdict right? we have no way of knowing" - followed by "librul,librul,librul".

    And uber slimeball Hannity - just read what he said

    “I look at this video and I want to cry for this man and his family because under no circumstances should any cop that's not under a threat be shooting somebody in the back.”

    CRYING ONLY FOR THE VICTIM AND HIS FAMILY - notice how systematic lethal racism against black males (including by black police officers) has been disappeared.

    Hannity is nober than blogger - with him one knows where he stands.

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    1. 7:13, you said it! Like you, I hope he can't afford the best representation and ends up with an inexperienced public defender who is unable to give him a proper defense. We're progressive that way, you and I!

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    2. So now being liberal means you must ignore black crime?

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    3. No. You can't ignore black crime if there is no such thing. There are only white criminals and black victims.

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    4. Anon: 8:50:
      That jails are overwhelmingly inhabited by minorities proves to me that there are "only white criminals and black victims".

      You may not be dumb; but you sure are stupid.

      LG

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  12. Apparently, even after Trayvon, even after Mike Brown, we just never learn. So once again, we're falling under the collective media spin and rushing to judgment based on a very selectively edited video. Even Bob is falling in line (for now, until the problems with the case become apparent at a later date ...)

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    1. document "very selectively edited video" asshole.

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    2. c'mon asshole.

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    3. Without disagreeing with the idea that a cop has committed a violent crime and should go to jail for it, I would add to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown the University of Virginia and Duke lacrosse rape hoaxes. Liberals keep passionately, at times viciously, endorsing tales of women and minorities suoposedly being victimized, which then blow up in their faces. Then they treat others as stupid for not supporting them. As a liberal, mere words cannot describe how much I hate these fatheads. They are their own Republican fifth columnists.

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    4. Yes, no matter how many cops are videoed killing and/or beating however many unarmed people, you'll always have Duke lacrosse to remind you how "right" you always are.

      Thinking person: "Gee whiz, did you see those 11 cops beating up that guy in the desert?"

      Heironymus: "Oh yeah? Duke lacrosse."

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    5. majneb,
      Yup. There is ALWAYS an excuse for whitey.

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    6. You know that guy in the desert has been arrested before for animal abuse? Not a sympathetic victim. Also, he is white.

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    7. "Sympathetic victim" or not, I don't want 11 cops wailing on a guy whose already on the ground trying to surrender.

      Others like majneb, Duke lacrosse still fresh in his mind, will probably say he had it coming.

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    8. For every example of an unjust white on black violence there are hundreds of Trayvons, Mike Browns, and Duke LaCrosses.

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    9. Apparently some assholes never heard of the story of the boy who cried wolf.

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  13. Replies
    1. Its funny how doggedly determined some folks are to keep swallowing the newest script from the same corporate media that keeps hoaxing them again and again and again. Really, have some self respect and learn to think for yourself rather than lashing out at random blog commenters.

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    2. Agreed.
      The sooner we stop listening to the propaganda arm of global corporations, the better.

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    3. majneb,
      Too bad Bob doesn't read the comments here.
      He'll still listen to, and defend, Hannity.

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  14. Shakespeare said "let's kill all the lawyers".
    Bob's afficianados sez: "let's kill all the niggers".
    Rational as needed.
    J-O-B Bob.
    J-O-B.

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  15. An ugly new troll seems to be added to the mix.

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  16. Bob at his apology for racism worst. "Everybody" he tritely bullies, knowing full well that there are plenty of people who will make excuses for this public execution no matter if embarrasses Fox New into one of it's occasional flings with the rational. Has the State of South Carolina ever apologized for it's agonizing history of racism? For all but shoving slavery down the throat of the U.S.? Nope, and don't suppose that much bothers Somerby. Poor, misunderstood Sean.

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    1. You are way off the deep end with this. Now white bloggers have to apologize for slavery and civil war in states they don't even live in or they cannot discuss current events without being called racist?

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    2. Your hope is that you find someone approving of the shooting in SC. You want more racism and the more vile the better. You thrive on it. You're scouring the internet looking for it because you want it to exist. When you can't find it, you post comments insisting there are "plenty" of people approving. You're the worst breed of racist.

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    3. You don't know anything about me, but it sure looks like your the worst breed of racist yourself, prejudging my motives and take on the subject, which makes you the sleaziest sort of Bigot, too stupid or scared to even put a handle on your post!! My take on Bob is not prejudged, but rather based on years of poor reasoning on the subject.
      "Everybody agrees", what nonsense.

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