NO FAVORITE EXAMPLE LEFT BEHIND: Astounding conversaton on Fox!

MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2015

Part 1—Hannity, Smiley agree:
For our money, Charles Blow’s new column in the New York Times reflects an unhelpful desire within our own tribe—the desire to be fed empty calories concerning great moral issues.

Perhaps for that reason, Blow is being hailed as a moral giant in comments, with Rima Regas leading the way. But first, consider what Tavis Smiley said.

Last Thursday night, Smiley appeared as a guest on Sean Hannity’s cable show. Smiley has often argued that President Obama hasn’t been sufficiently left. Hannity is a well-known, influential talker from the pseudo-right.

Smiley and Hannity come from different points on the political spectrum. Last Thursday night, they discussed the shooting of Walter Scott, concerning which the two men largely agreed.

The pair seemed to disagree, in a largely unexplained way, about the earlier killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Concerning last week’s killing of Scott, they voiced several points of agreement.

It’s rare to hear points of agreement like these in the current political climate:
HANNITY (4/9/15): Let me ask you this—we have these incidents. We have Trayvon Martin, then you have Ferguson, Missouri. Now we've got this one on video. There's big differences, though, between them.

I look at Trayvon and you have an eyewitness, Trayvon on top of George Zimmerman, ground and pound, George screaming, we hear the audio.

We've got multiple eyewitnesses, many of them black Americans, saying Darren Wilson's story is 100 percent accurate about Michael Brown's behavior.

In this case you have a video. 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. And people are trying to sort of conflate the issues. And I see no area of conflating them. Your reaction?

SMILEY: I hear your point about the differences in every case. And obviously you’re right. All these cases are different. There are no two cases that are alike.

I think the point that people are trying to impress upon you, Sean, is that every time one of these cases happens and another young black man is killed and someone then says that this is an isolated incident, what happens first is we hear it's an isolated incident. It doesn't mean that all cops are bad. I agree it doesn't mean that all cops are bad. But the question, I guess, is how many isolated incidents equal a pattern? And I think black folks and others who care about the humanity and dignity of all fellow citizens being respected are tired of hearing that these are isolated incidents when nobody wants to acknowledge a pattern here.

HANNITY: There is violence in society. For example, I'll roll this video that was released, just released of a Boston police officer being shot right in the face. We're going to lose 100-plus officers every single year. Then you and I discussed on this program black-on-black crime. That's an issue where the numbers are extraordinarily high, unnecessarily high I would argue.

And you know, there is a lot of violence and a lot of evil in this world and society. So—

SMILEY: Again, again, we don’t want to conflate these issues. The truth of the matter is that more white folk are killed by cops every year in this country than black folk. And so what we have to consider if we don’t do something about these police shootings, oftentimes police shootings that cannot be justified, in this case police officers or a police officer in South Carolina who apparently lied, if we don't do something about that, Sean, all of us are in danger, maybe your child, maybe your daughter one day.

HANNITY: Tavis, it could be you. It could me. It could be our kids.

SMILEY: I agree. Exactly, it could be me.
The two men seemed to disagree, in some way which wasn’t made clear, about the earlier shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Hannity said there are “big differences” between these earlier cases and the recent case involving Scott. While agreeing that each case is different, Smiley said these killings constitute a “pattern,” a pattern he didn’t define.

That would be a discussion for another day. Regarding the killing of Scott, Hannity and Smiley seemed to agree on several major points.

Along with everyone else on the planet, each man seemed to say that, barring some miraculous new point of evidence, this shooting cannot be justified in any way. Along the way, Smiley introduced a statement which broadened the discussion.

“The truth of the matter is that more white folk are killed by cops every year in this country than black folk,” he said, leading us into the murky realm of statistics on police shootings. On this basis, the two men said that everyone, of every so-called race, has a potential personal stake in the question of good police practice.

The two men agreed that the shooting of Scott seems to have been a crime. Beyond that, the men seemed to agree that questions of improper police practice extend beyond the realm of policing in the black community.

To what extent is improper policing disproportionately directed at blacks? In our view, it’s hard to say, in large part due to the lack of even the most basic statistics in this general area.

That said, we think it makes extremely good sense to stress another point Smiley raised:

“It doesn't mean that all cops are bad. I agree it doesn't mean that all cops are bad.” If we want to produce societal change based on broad-based points of agreement, it makes extremely good sense to keep repeating variants of this obvious point.

This conversation occurred last Thursday night. We were impressed by the points of agreement between these two men, who come from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

This conversation pointed to the rare possibility in our current, highly tribal political climate—the possibility that there are basic judgments on which we can all agree.

Hannity and Smiley agreed—we don’t want police officers behaving the way we see on that videotape from South Carolina. They also agreed that, however prevalent the practice may be, bad policing seems to extend beyond the black community.

We were struck by the points of agreement. That very morning, we’d been struck in a different way by this editorial in the New York Times.

In our view, the editorial betrayed an instinct within our own tribe which makes it harder for the society to reach the most basic agreements. We’d have to say that Blow’s new column drifts in that same direction.

In our view, Blow is playing the hero today on the most obvious points. In that editorial, the editors seemed to do something worse.

“Keep narrative alive,” the editors seemed to be saying. They revived one of our tribe’s favorite examples of police misconduct. They revived this favorite example in a way which doesn’t make a lot of sense, in a way which serves to drive major political wedges where no wedge need appear.

“Long live our favorite examples,” the editors seemed to be saying. This morning, Blow seemed to be heading toward a similar place.

No favorite example left behind! When we bow to unhelpfully partisan instincts, this slogan will often prevail.

Tomorrow: What Blow (and the editors) said

79 comments:

  1. While we wait for Somerby's interpretation of what Blow said, let us consider something he said which we can all read for ourselves:

    "I find it particularly disturbing the way that we try to find excuses for killings, the way that we seek to deprecate a person when they have been killed rather than insisting that they deserved to remain among the living."

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    1. There is a human tendency to examine misfortunes that happen to others in order to find causes so that we can prevent them from happening to us. One way to reassure ourselves that this will not befall us is to find the points of difference between ourselves and the victim. Another is to figure out how the victim contributed to his own misfortune so that we can then say, "Well, we won't do what he did." The point of this exercise is to allay anxiety about our own vulnerability. The more an explanation tends to assert that a misfortune was random and could happen to unsuspecting innocent individuals despite their best efforts, the more upsetting that explanation will be. That is why we wish to reject such explanations.

      Fear of death varies in individuals. Some people are more motivated to avoid that fear by mentally constructing a safer world. Sometimes it spills over into physically doing things to increase personal safety, even irrational things. I think our society with its freedoms feels fundamentally less safe to its citizens, so I think the large gun ownership reflects attempts to cope with those existential fears.

      When we are made aware of every rare shooting and tragic event by our media, no matter where it happens in our country (or even worldwide), without any context that tells us how rare such events are or how likely to occur again, that heightens our fears. There is no perspective on these killings but they seem to be more frequent and more widespread than in the past. Actually they are less so, but the media presentation of them is increasing, as is the graphic nature of that presentation. We are being misled and we are being given nothing to put these events into any manageable framework. Of course people are protesting and marching. Everyone wants to be safe. I think it is a crime that our citizens are being subjected to this in the name of infotainment and making money. This isn't about racism or cops -- it is about a media with no restraint and no conscience.

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    2. Warning to casual readers of this blog: This comment seeks to find excuses for those who find excuses, then tells us the crime is the media making us aware of a death rather than the fact someone is no longer living who probably should be.

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    3. We should all still be living, even loved ones who reached the ends of their natural lifespans, even people who had diseases or were in accidents. No one deserves to die, ever. Beyond that, what is the point? That somehow police should be using force to stop crimes against others but should be magical beings who never make mistakes in that use of force?

      No one should ever do anything bad to another person. But they do. Should others let them do that? How should it be prevented? Grapple with those questions. Don't stamp your feet and demand that life and death be different than they are.

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    4. I am still living. Sorry to hear about you.

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    5. Ha ha ha, so funny.

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    6. What would Mahala think?

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    7. King size thoughts.

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    8. People either depreciate the person who is killed or they elevate them, based on what they know of that person's conduct in life. Most people are not glad when anyone is killed, even an enemy in war. Blow's comment is rather stupid, but he seems to be suggesting we flip the switch on our brains that enables us to make judgments about events, and causes us to be more or less sympathetic to those who end up dead by violent means. "Deserve" doesn't belong in the discussion because a person who causes his own death in a moment might have lived an exemplary life and a person who has the presence of mind not to escalate a situation in a moment and lives might be more "deserving" of the same outcome.

      Blow insists we censor discussion about the criminal aspect of both the shoplifter and serial killer who cause their own deaths during an arrest, in identical circumstances with the relative gravity of the crimes only known after the fact.

      Don't resist arrest is the talk Blow should tell his readers to have with their sons, but that would only happen if he were concerned about the "undeserving" getting killed.

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    9. If you're going to be break the law, go big: crash the world's economy through financial fraud, is the talk Blow should tell his readers to have with their sons, but that would only happen if he were concerned with keeping the kids out of prison.

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  2. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

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  3. All else wanders into the weeds.

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  4. Here's a weed to wander into. How many of these shootings result from confusions over the use of tasers? Sometimes the officer outright claims he meant to reach for the taser instead of the gun. Even when that isn't the claim, can an officer exercise meaningful restraint if he is allowed to tase someone in the back while running away, but not shoot? The actions involved in tasing and shooting seem to be pretty identical. Are we asking for trouble when we equip officers with both types of weapons and then never expect them to confuse the gas pedal with the brake in real-life situations involving split-second decisions?

    It also bothers me that quite a few of the uses of tasers seem to be ineffective. Why use a weapon that doesn't work when officers need to stop someone? What are officers feeling when their means of stopping a resisting person fails -- is there a kind of panic that precludes more logical thought in such situations because officers feel disarmed in the face of threat when the taser doesn't work?

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    1. NY Daily News:

      "It's a mistake."

      That’s the blasé explanation Oklahoma officials gave after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white deputy who accidentally pulled his gun when he meant to use his Taser.

      The botched encounter was captured on a disturbing video released by police on Friday — nine days after the fatal Tulsa shooting.

      “He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I’m losing my breath,” Eric Harris says as he struggles on the ground following the April 2 shooting, which flew under the radar until video emerged a week later.

      “F--- your breath,” a callous officer can be heard saying. “Shut the f--- up!”


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    2. What is blasé about admitting a mistake?

      The deputy was a 72-year old "reserve" deputy who got confused, but all you care about is that he was white.

      Are officers callous. Probably, but it isn't their job to be warm and fuzzy to criminals. Nor is it their job to administer CPR or first-aid. They called paramedics and the man died in the hospital.

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    3. What is a 72-year-old "reserve" deputy doing with a taser and a gun?

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    4. 1:29 PM apparently can't read when the quote was from the New York Daily News and he/she/it wrote "all you care about is that he was white."

      Take it up with the Daily News.

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    5. Mistakes happen, but they should be overlooked only when the victims of them are white.

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    6. One amazing claim by the police chief (excusing the "F**k your breath" by the cop after the victim was shot) was that the officers could not hear the gunshot 2 to 3 feet from their ears!

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    7. 1:37 - he's the Sheriff's insurance agent and long-time friend who has contributed fairly substantially to the Sheriff's Dept. in the past.

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  5. Bobreaders suck. I'll bet nobody takes Somerby's clue and praises Hannity and Smiley for the moral giant-hood they demonstrated.

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    1. He doesn't want us to praise them. He wants us to emulate them.

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    2. This reminds me of the time Bill Burton and Megyn Kelly made nice.

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    3. Never mind that sh*t! Liberal have "unpartisan instincts."

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  6. This discussion is all well and good. I am ready for the promised further examination of the insider excuses Columbia School of Journalism issued on behalf of that horrible guild member.

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  7. One can only speculate about the nature of the conversation between Hannity and Smiley over this case without the video.

    One could also speculate that, without the video, Somerby himself would be devoting the next several months to excusing the shooting death of yet another unarmed black man.

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    1. You keep forgetting that there were at least three witnesses, one of which was the passenger in the stopped car. You seem to think the video changes something. It would have been obvious that the man was shot in the back from the autopsy. Whether he grabbed the taser or not could be addressed by the two eyewitnesses besides the cop's partner. Why do you think this situation is something special or different than others? Because YOU could see it? That's the problem -- people everywhere think they now know everything that happened because they watched a video.

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    2. How many times has he forgotten? Is this unfortunate behavior confined to this incident, or does he keep forgetting other things he seems to think about? If he forgets a lot, why ask him something he probably can't remember anyway?

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    3. ". . . people everywhere think they now know everything that happened because they watched a video."

      Absolutely right! Don't believe your lyin' eyes!

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    4. Actually without the video forensics evidence would likely reveal the facts of this case nearly as well. Police should wear body cams, so that reactions to these incidents can be brought to a more sane level. It would have been very helpful in quickly and publicly acquitting Officer Wilson in the Brown case even if it deprived the SJW's of an opportunity to feel good about themselves.

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    5. Interesting how right wing nut cases have already conflated, with Bob's help, the DOJ findings that they couldn't find enough evidence to dispute Wilson's tall tale of Super Negro with "He was completely exonerated and told the absolute truth."

      No, without the video, forensic evidence wouldn't have proven that Slager was lying through his teeth. All he would have had to do was come up with any story even approaching Planet Earth, and you would have bought it.

      Super Negro worked for both Zimmerman and Wilson. It would have worked with Slager.

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    6. Anon 4:34 believes no "negro" ever is killed in self-defense. If a cracker kills a "negro" it is always murder and no amount of evidence ever convinces 4:34 otherwise, even after it has convinced everyone else with any level of intelligence and judgment. What happens if a "negro" kills another "negro" as is the case in the overwhelming majority of killings, and the killer claims self defense? Does 4:34's brain explode?

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    7. 5:04,
      You don't trust negros?
      Great, now you know how the sentient feel about the police.

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    8. Nah, 5:04, all I am saying is that the myth of the Super Negro makes it easy for white pussies to cry self-defense when they gun them down, even for nothing more than walking down the street.

      Other white pussies like yourself will believe it in a heartbeat.

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    9. It helps those who don't clear the constitutional bar (of not being a pussy before one's self-defense rights kick in), when there are eyewitnesses who report the brutal attack by the teen who did nothing more than buy skittles and walk down the street, other than brutally attacking someone.

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    10. Nobody reported a brutal attack, pinhead. One guy, who got a view of part of the fight in the dark well after the fight began, indicated Martin was on top and throwing punches when he saw something.

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    11. Interesting how the rights to self-defense only applies to the guy with the gun who was stalking the unarmed kid.

      It is also possible that instead of Martin "brutally attacking" Zimmerman, Zimmerman succeeded in his pursuit of the kid, cornered him, and the kid fought for his life, and beat the shit out of the pussy.

      But let's not entertain that possibility. Let's believe what we want to believe and say the jury exonerated Zimmerman in the same way the jury exonerated O.J.

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  8. Blacks commit crime more often. You can't force white people to hit cops on SUVs in order to even things out.

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    1. Couldn't have said it any better.

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    2. How are things at Duke & Duke?

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    3. More blacks commit crimes. Even though the majority don't commit crimes, anyone with the same color skin should understand that he or she will be held responsible for what someone else with the same color skin does.

      Of course, this principle applies only to black people. That's why we haven't yet seen police killings of any white person whose offense was walking through a mostly white neighborhood wearing a hoodie, possibly selling cigarettes without paying the tax on them, probably lifting a few cigarillos and walking down the middle of the street, running away from the police after being stopped for a broken taillight or, at the age of 12, waving a toy gun in the middle of an empty park.

      Maybe it's black parents who have a compelling interest in keeping this narrative alive.

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    4. There have been and will always be justified killings of people of any color or jacket style and most ages who attack other people at night in mostly white or black neighborhoods, killings of shoplifters who then attack police in their cars, and killings of people who wave guns that look real.

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    5. Wilson went for his gun first. Brown tried to fight him off to stay alive. Pity Brown failed.

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  9. I agree there are probably some good cops. But it's hard to make a case for that if they don't speak out against these shootings.

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    1. In what other profession are employees expected to "speak out" when a colleague makes a mistake?

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    2. So if they are silent, that makes them not a good cop or just hard for you to make the case?

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    3. You mean like when Al Sharpton (or you) speaks out against the hugely disproportionate violent crime committed by blacks, making it harder to make a case against broad-brush racism?

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    4. That, or why Sean Hannity doesn't expose fraud against wounded warriors.

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    5. 1:46 PM - I couldn't top that observation.

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    6. David Duke, if you were David Duke the point would be just as solid. See that's the thing about logical argument. It isn't ideological and it doesn't rely on R bombs like your 75-IQ argument does.

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    7. Apparently your version of an logical argument relies on name-calling, insults, and clairvoyance.

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  10. Since this is a media site, how about this question: Why no check into the background of police officers shot in the line of duty, like they do a victim of a police shooting?

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    1. Since this is a media site I wonder why Columbia School of Journalism hasn't responded to TDH's excellent and important critique of their insidious insider cover up of Rolling Stone & Erdely.

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    2. They did check Wilson's background and found nothing.

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    3. 8:38 PM, try to read a little more closely. Darren Wilson wasn't shot in the line of duty.

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    4. When a police officer is shot in the line of duty it has nothing to do with his or her background. When a suspect is shot the public has to weigh how much he might have contributed to what happened. That means it matters if he was a criminal, mentally ill, involved with a gang, etc. This should be obvious.

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    5. Officer Wilson was a gang member.
      Read the DOJ Report.

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    6. He was doing his job. Brown wasn't.

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    7. His job was assuring the black people of Ferguson were second-class citizens.
      Gang-member.

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  11. Actually, TDH is a meta media site.

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    1. As Bob himself said when one of his analysts threw a bucket of water that splashed him, "I'm musing, I'm musing."

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    2. Didn't he used to play for the Lakers?

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  12. Once again everyone is rushing to judgment about another police shooting without knowing all of the relevant and potentially exculpatory facts in existence. I'm glad that the officer is being represented by one of the top criminal defense attorneys in South Carolina, because with the weight of the entire establishment against him he's going to need a smart and zealous advocate in his corner.

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    1. Yeah, when even Sean Hannity thinks the guy is guilty, he'll need a damned good lawyer.

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    2. Everyone ought to have a good lawyer. Things are rarely as simple as the simpleminded Hannity and O'Donnell or the rubes they run assume.

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    3. "Once again everyone is rushing to judgment ...without knowing all of the relevant and potentially exculpatory facts in existence."

      That would include you, of course.

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    4. majneb,
      Exactly how I feel about incidents of shootings of police.
      Until we have investigated the police officer's background, interviewed anyone who may have had some differences with them, and (while we're at it) looked into the backgrounds of their families, I'm saving my sympathy for them.
      I'm sure, as someone who must have all the facts before judgement, you would agree.

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    5. I hear those two Brooklyn cops shot last December reached for their waistbands.

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    6. Oh, I'm with you 100 percent. Don't care if the guy is guilty as sin. He deserves the best defense possible. I'm glad I live in a country where the state has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

      Too bad that also doesn't apply to jaywalking kids, and guys who drive with their tailights busted out. They can be shot on sight, as long as the cop comes up with a story.

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    7. Anon 5:38 wins this year's most asinine comment trophy. Your sarcastic comment fails because it assumes police officers are not permitted to do things those they are attempting to legally arrest are not permitted to do. They are granted what is known as "authority" under the law. The depths of stupidity some achieve are astonishing, sometimes impressive.

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    8. 7:48 PM,
      There"authority" under the law grants them the right to do anything, as long as they say they felt endangered.

      BTW, did you see the reaction of the second cop in SC, after the shooter drops the taser by the dead body? He didn't flinch because it's standard operating procedure for the cops to plant evidence after killing suspects.

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    9. 7:48,
      You missed the real sarcasm; "he was going for his waistband" is a lie told in pretty much every police shooting.

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    10. So, you think fleeing suspects never go for the gun in their waist band?

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    11. Only when they are unarmed. LOL.

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    12. The only reason Hannity is agreeing with Smiley is because of the video. When Abner Louima had a police baton shoved into his rectum Hannity was defending the Police Officers right up until the day of the confession. He had the cop's father on every week and repeated the nickname 'Lying Louima' over and over on almost every broadcast.

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    13. And even in the transcript above Hannity attempts to obfuscate the issue by bringing up 'black on black crime' and officers killed in the line of duty. What does that have to do with Trayvon Martin? Or this incident? Or the black man shot in the stomach by an officer a few months ago while exiting his car? Or the black man choked to death in Staten Island? You will always make a BIG mistake when you afford Hannity the position of a reasonable, fact based partner in debate. And believe me, I KNOW that from many personal experiences. Its not his ideology...its his character (or lack thereof).

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