Could the monsters be something like us?: We've noted the fact that, in cases like this, the facts are always wrong.
The logic is often cockeyed too! Consider what happened yesterday when CNN anchor Brianna Keiler interviewed CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez.
Excitement was running high in this, the 2 P.M. Eastern hour. It had been announced that Minnesota's attorney general had reached a decision concerning possible charges against all four officers on the scene at the time of George Floyd's death.
Keilar began the hour with an exchange in which she and correspondent Josg Campbell pretended that they didn't know what the decision would be. They also pretended that the community had so much confidence in Ellison that they would accept his decision whatever it might turn out to be.
Surely, everyone already knew what the decision would be—what it would have to be. But Keilar was now engaged in the active play-acting which passes for journalism among such creatures as we.
Campbell played his assigned role well. Then, Keillor turned to Jimenez and she offered this:
KEILAR (6/3/20): And Omar, you've spoken with so many people there in Minneapolis. And we've heard from them over and over again, right?Say what? In fact, various people who weren't police officers had done exactly that! As they "stood by, feet away," they witnessed Officer Chauvin choking the life from Floyd.
They say, if these were three people who were not police officers and they witnessed someone, they just stood by, feet away, doing nothing for minutes and minutes, and they witnessed third-degree murder, they would be held accountable. So why aren't these police officers being held accountable?
None of them intervened, though several of them had videotaped the events. But to say what is blindingly obvious, none of those people are going to be "held accountable" for failing to intervene, and no one has ever suggested that they should be.
Except as an example of outrage- and narrative-formation, Keilar's statement made no earthly sense. In fairness, she seemed to have conflated a few mandated talking points, creating a ludicrous muddle.
Keilar's statement made no earthy sense. That said, Jimenez, a good decent person who's also quite sharp, knew how he had to respond:
JIMENEZ (continuing directly): Well, that's right, Brianna...At one time, the customer was always right. Today, the anchor is.
Meanwhile, because the facts are always wrong, Jeffrey Toobin soon pitched in with a statement "based on the video I've seen," a statement which plainly seems to be wrong.
We don't know what video he has been seeing. But you can search that one out for yourselves.
At any rate, so it goes on cable where, along with everything else, the facts are always wrong. We expect to explore the wrongness of facts in the week or so to come. For today, we ask two important questions:
In the course of human events, how do monsters get invented? Also, did Parker do the right thing?
We have no doubt that Kathleen Parker is a good, decent person. Long before these current events, before she was hired by the Washington Post, we reviewed her syndicated columns with respect to a certain topic.
We were surprised to see that Parker hadn't demonized Naomi Wolf during Campaign 2000 in anything resembling the way other columnists had. This was back in the days when the mainstream journalists we're trained to respect were sliming Wolf in ways which were often openly misogynistic and were absurdly misleading or bogus.
The "liberal" persons and groups we're trained to respect made no attempt to challenge this horrible conduct. A war against Candidate Gore was on—he was a stand-in for President Clinton—and the people we're trained to respect were almost all complicit in the wildings which occurred.
We were surprised to see that Parker hadn't played that game with respect to Wolf in the way others had done. We refer to the game which sent George W. Bush to the White and the army into Iraq.
Parker had played it much more straight with respect to Wolf and Gore. We had a different reaction to yesterday's column in the Washington Post.
In that column, Parker discussed the presence of monsters in our lives. Along the way, she also showcased the manner on their invention.
We all have nightmares involving monsters, Parker wrote at the start of her column. When we startle awake, we realize that monsters aren't real.
Now, though, we see that monsters are real. Today, these monsters even have names. In this passage, Parker named one:
PARKER (6/3/20): Now we wake, if we sleep at all, and the nightmare is real—and the monsters have names.Former officer Derek Chauvin is one such monster, Parker said. Indeed, Chauvin's videotaped behavior last week does indeed seem monstrous.
Chauvin, charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, is surely the loneliest man on the planet. How does he sleep at night? I try to imagine what he thinks about in those dark hours when the wolf closes in, sniffing the hollowness at the threshold of his cell. Does he replay those nine minutes trying to understand why he did what he did? Does he even care?
"Does he even care?" Parker asked. We'd offer this provisional answer:
According to a pair of high-profile studies, 3-5 percent of adult males could be diagnosed as sociopaths—and it's commonly said that sociopaths have no ability to care. If we substitute that slightly more grown-up term, it may be that Chauvin doesn't care—though we'd rather see a medical specialist discuss this matter as opposed to ourselves or to Parker.
Is Derek Chauvin a sociopath? We have no way of saying. But as she continued, Parker seemed to spot three additional monsters.
In the course of making her accusation, did Parker do the right thing?
PARKER (continuing directly): We don’t have to second-guess what happened to George Floyd. We saw the video and recoiled in horror. Nor do we have to deploy euphemisms or dodgy words like “apparently” or “allegedly” to recount how Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, cutting off blood and oxygen as the prone and cuffed man begged for air and his life.Monsters "aren't like us," Parker writes. We're not sure we agree with that.
From the video, it’s easy to see that Chauvin not only kept his knee in place despite outraged pleas from onlookers; he pressed his full body weight into Floyd’s neck. Why didn’t the other three officers stop this horror? What fear or evil allowed them to look away? Why didn’t the people taking video compel Chauvin or his brethren to stop? That’s impunity, incarnate.
The minds of monsters are hard to read. They are not like us. Monsters are without qualms, hesitations, empathy or remorse. Certitude animates the beast; power feeds its lust for more.
You'll note a remarkable point. Parker almost seems to include those civilian bystanders among her list of monsters. They didn't compel Chauvin or his brethren to stop, the way we would have done.
The people who were taping the incident didn't force Chauvin to stop! If one of them had done such a thing—if one of them had pushed Chauvin off his handcuffed victim—then George Floyd might be alive today, but the person who behaved that way would likely be in jail.
Do we really expect people to do things like that? Apparently, that's what we would have done. Do we really call them monsters when they don't do that?
As emotion runs off with her wisdom, Parker seems to say that. But she certainly says that the other three officers are monsters. As her column ends, there's no Little about that:
"The monsters in this nightmare are real, sure enough. But we know their names," Parker writes.
According to Parker, the other three officers "were without qualms, hesitations, empathy or remorse." She says that those monsters weren't like us.
We're not sure we agree with that. Consider a few of the things you weren't told in Parker's column. These are things you haven't been told pretty much anywhere else:
Chauvin, an 18-year veteran, was the senior officer in the group. His partner, Tou Thau, was also an experienced officer.
The other two officers—Richard Lane and J. Alexander Keung—were rookies. They were new to the force.
As we noted yesterday, one of the rookies, Thomas Lane, suggested to Chauvin on several occasions that he ought to stop. According to Parker, good people "like us" would have gone even further. We would have shoved our superior officer off the neck of Floyd.
Really? How often does anyone actually do something like that? We will guess that the examples are few and far between.
Are Minneapolis police cadets trained to do that when confronted with such crazy behavior? We've seen no such discussion.
Back in the days of the war against Gore, Parker certainly didn't do something like that. She didn't oppose what her higher-ranking colleagues were doing when they conducted their long, ugly war. But dearest darlings, use your heads! That might have harmed her career!
Is former officer Lane a monster? Parker tells us that he is. As she does, she withholds elementary facts about his rookie status and about his statements to Chauvin, the superior officer.
In doing so, she is creating the kind of fairy tale which has often been built around cases of this type in the past eight years. She is creating the fairy tale in which the wolf drops down on the little girls's back, or the one in which an innocent party is shot dead as he tries to surrender, hands over head, for the crime of walking down the street.
In withholding complexity from her readers, is Parker herself a monster? Should she be locked up in jail? Should she be hauled off next?
That way lies perdition, but such is the way of our modern-day upper-end "press."
Every such situation must be dumbed down. All complexity must disappear. We must give consumers heroes and demons. We must feed them childish fairy tales in a version of adulthood's end.
Should former officer Lane have been charged with a crime? We have no idea.
We have no legal expertise around here. Instead, we write about the press corps, and concerning the press, we'll say this:
Concerning the press corps, there Parker goes again. Our journalists have created monsters in many of these high-profile, high-emotion cases over the past eight years. They've done so by inventing false facts; by disappearing actual facts; and by stressing completely irrelevant facts.
This is the life style they have chosen. According to major anthropologists, it's also the way we're all wired.
People are dead all over the world because they've done these things. Because we've been trained to respect these people, it may not occur to us that we're being misled as they do this.
When in her life did Kathleen Parker ever do the right thing? When did she ever behave in the way she says those rookie officers—even those civilian bystanders!—should have behaved that day?
We assume we all know the answer to that. But our pundits and our anchors keep feeding us monsters. This lets us pretend that we're better than them, better than them by far.
Sad! In our view, the monsters of Parker's imagination may be a great deal like the people who steal our discernment from us.
Tomorrow: Snapshots of modern-day Minnesota. "Who killed Davey Moore?"