Part 1—About an important topic: Out of general curiosity, there's a certain survey we'd like to see.
Actually, there are at least two. Out of general curiosity, we'd also like to see a survey in which respondents get asked how much they think cable news hosts get paid.
Let's set that survey aside for now. Let's turn to a different survey.
For this week, the survey we would like to see concerns a different important topic. It concerns the question of police shootings—more specifically, the questions of police shootings in terms of so-called race.
Sometimes, people get shot and killed by police. For the record, a clear majority of police officers won't shoot anyone today.
Sometimes, though, such events do occur. Such events are of course important.
It can also be argued that such events have perhaps become grist for the occasional mill. This is especially true with respect to the topic C-Span recently explored, "Police Shootings and Race."
Right away, let it be said that "race" can be seen as a murky concept.
The belief that we have several "races" of people in this country comes to us, live and direct, from "the world the slaveholders made." The concept, as these intellectual giants devised it, generally turns on questions of "skin color" and ancestry.
We liberals all know we should generally say that there's no such thing as "race." We also tend to cling to the wisdom of the slaveholders in much the same way that lichens may cling to a favorite rock.
In our current state of awareness, we may tend to make little distinction between two distinct concepts. We know that people get treated as if they belong to a race. We know that people have been so treated all through the annals of American history.
We're less likely to be clear on a second question. Do we ourselves believe that a person belongs to a "race?" And if so, in what does that membership consist?
In the modern liberal world, these questions generally get swept aside. We insist that everyone belongs to a race; that we get to say what that race is; and that this membership defines their "identity," which we bestow on their heads.
We cling to the concept the slaveholders made. No one seems to admire Ole Massa's wisdom quite the way we do!
Having offered these apologies, we return to the survey we'd like to see. That survey would involve police shootings and so-called race.
Essentially, police shootings have been in the news since the death of Trayvon Martin, who of course wasn't shot by police. But in the wake of Martin's death, other shooting deaths occurred:
Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. So was Tamir Rice. Such incidents have played a large role in the news in recent years, thought one apparent rule obtains:
When it comes to high-profile shootings by police, no others need apply!
What do we mean by that award-winning nostrum? Only this:
When "blacks" are shot and killed by police, a great deal of attention is paid. When "whites" and Hispanics are shot by police, even in plainly ridiculous ways, it may seem that nobody cares.
Attention is paid to the one type of incident, as of course should be the case. The other incidents are ignored. No other "race" need apply!
(Your lizard is saying that 1) our claims are crazily wrong, and/or 2) that we're ignoring the obvious reasons for this selective attention. In this case, as in several others, we'll suggest the possibility that your lizard is wrong.)
Back to the survey we seek! As a possible starting point, we wonder how respondents would react to a question like this:
Possible survey question:No, seriously! For starters, we wonder how many people would be inclined to think that no so-called "whites" were shot and killed by police last year.
According to the Washington Post, police officers shot and killed 223 African-Americans in the year 2017.
As far as you know, did police officers shoot and kill any "whites" during that year? If so, can you give an estimate as to a possible number?
We offer a bit of background:
Presumably, most people have never examined the numbers compiled by the Washington Post or by any other org. They're unlikely to have seen any such data at any of their favorite news orgs, even on cable news.
(Dearest darlings, use your heads! Presentation of data on cable news? Such things simply aren't done!)
Presumably, most people have never stopped to think about the questions we've posted above. Still and all, we'll guess that a certain number of people would be inclined to say that no "white" people were shot and killed by police last year.
Would some people be so inclined? If that is true, the following survey question might be better equipped to elicit that fact:
Possible survey question:If we don't put our thumb on the scale by including a number in our question, we might find that people are more likely to say that there were so such incidents—to show that's what they tend to believe.
In a number of high-profile incidents, police officers have shot and killed African-Americans in recent years, including last year.
As far as you know, did police officers shoot and kill any "whites" last year? If so, can you give an estimate as to a possible number?
While we're at it, let's imagine a third way of asking our question. It night go exactly like this:
Possible survey question:Police shootings which involve unarmed victims have gained special attention. We'd be curious to see how respondents would answer a question about those particular cases.
In a number of high-profile incidents, police officers have shot and killed unarmed African-Americans in recent years, including last year.
As far as you know, did police officers shoot and kill any unarmed "whites" last year? If so, can you give an estimate as to a possible number?
Your lizard is saying that it's misleading to focus on the numbers alone with respect to this fraught topic. That may well be true. We'll consider that question before the week is done.
That said, we'll suggest, once again, that you should consider ignoring your lizard just this once. For today, we're simply wondering what people think about the frequency of these types of occurrence—about the frequency of police shootings in terms of so-called race.
Long ago and far away, many different types of groups were told, in various ways, that they need not apply for the fruits of citizenship. No one was treated more brutally than Americans of African descent.
Is it possible that this historical fact may perhaps sometimes lead to a type of "over-correction?" Has it possibly led to a world in which we liberals think your identity is determined by your "race," and that it only matters if people of certain "identities" get shot and killed by police?
Is it possible that we've come to think that others need not apply?
Is it possible that that's what we have come to think? Your lizard is bouncing off walls inside his cave as we pose this thoughtful question. On just this one occasion, is it possible that your lizard is wrong?
Is it even dimly possible? That when it comes to shooting deaths by police, no others need apply—not even Hispanics and Muslims?
Tomorrow: Did this recent headline possibly come from the world the slaveholders made?