The facts are still always wrong: Yesterday morning. we shared a highly important though somewhat surprising fact:
The facts are always wrong! We refer to the standard sets of facts which emerge as our own tribe's sachems describe emotional incidents involving race and gender.
Yesterday, it was Chris Wallace whose factual statement seemed to be wrong. In fairness to Wallace, he was simply repeating a claim which had been widely stated all over "cable news" during the preceding week.
Wallace's highly familiar statement may well have been wrong. In fairness, the facts always are! Consider what happened next:
After we finished yesterday morning's report, we proceeded to read this post at New York magazine. Below, you see the very first paragraph of the very first post we read after noting that the facts are always wrong:
LEVITZ (6/1/20): A white police officer pinned a handcuffed black citizen to the ground by the neck. The black citizen said that he could not breathe. Some bystanders asked the officer to cease obstructing the man’s breath; the three uniformed bystanders made no such suggestion. The officer kept kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds—long enough to take the life out of George Floyd’s body and George Floyd out of the lives of his friends and family.The three uniformed bystanders made no such suggestion? Wearily, we turned to the analysts, and they were crying:
The facts are always wrong, we told them again, with aplomb.
In the videotape of the incident in question, the behavior of Officer Derek Chauvin looks remarkably heinous. We remind you that, according to a pair of authoritative professional studies, 3-5 percent of adult males could be diagnosed as sociopaths.
Chauvin's behavior that day would have been astonishing in the dark of night, at 2 A.M., behind some abandoned warehouse. It's astounding to think that he did the things he did right there, in broad daylight, with bystanders taping his actions.
In this morning's Washington Post, Kathleen Parker calls Chauvin a "monster." To our ear, she seems to say that the other three officers are monsters too.
After all, "the three uniformed bystanders made no such suggestion." By now, the whole nation knows that!
That said, who are the monsters—is it them, or could it be us? We ask because we've read the official "Statement of probable cause"—the criminal complaint which charged Office Chauvin with murder and manslaughter.
In places, that document is very murkily written. But along the way, as you can see, the document says this:
STATEMENT OF PROBABLE CAUSE (5/29/20):"Lane" is former officer David Lane, one of Parker's apparent monsters. At the time of the awful events in question, he was a rookie policeman in his probationary period.
The defendant pulled Mr. Floyd out of the passenger side of the squad car at 8:19:38 and Mr. Floyd went to the ground face down and still handcuffed. Kueng held Mr. Floyd's back and Lane held his legs. The defendant placed his left knee in the area of Mr. Floyd's head and neck. Mr. Floyd said, “I can't breathe” multiple times and repeatedly said, “Mama” and “please" as well. The defendant and the other two officers stayed in their positions.
The officers said, “You are talking fine" to Mr. Floyd as he continued to move back and forth. Lane asked, "Should we roll him on his side?" and the defendant said, “No, staying put where we got him ." Officer Lane said, “I am worried about excited delirium or whatever." The defendant said, “ That's why we have him on his stomach." None of the three officers moved from their positions.
[Body camera] video shows Mr. Floyd continue to move and breathe. At 8:24:24, Mr. Floyd stopped moving. At 8:25:31 the video appears to show Mr. Floyd ceasing to breathe or speak. Lane said, “want to roll him onto his side.” Kueng checked Mr. Floyd's right wrist for a pulse and said, “I couldn't find one." None of the officers moved from their positions.
Chauvin, who had his knee on the neck of the late George Floyd, was am 18-year veteran of the force.
Because we ourselves aren't monsters yet, we think what follows should perhaps and possibly matter:
Readers of New York magazine now know, or think they know, that none of the uniformed monsters suggested that Chauvin should stop. According to the document which charged Chauvin with murder, that seems to be another one of those familiar facts, the ones which are always wrong.
The fact that the document makes an assertion doesn't prove that the assertion true. But according to that official document, Lane seems to have made that suggestion at two or three different points.
As noted above, Lane was a rookie officer in his probationary period. Chauvin was an 18-year veteran.
What else should the rookie cop have done? To date, we've seen no such discussion.
What kind of training do police cadets receive to prepare them for such situations? We haven't seen that discussion either.
We mention these points for one main reason. We mention them to help establish our basic award-winning point:
The facts are always wrong.
The facts are always wrong, at least in these types of cases. The facts are always part of a novelized tribal account, a moralized rendering of some situation which may even start to resemble a fairy tale.
In these moralized renderings, we are the very good people; targeted others are vile. If facts must be changed to establish such narratives, the facts will just have to be wrong.
Once again, we recommend our basic finding—the facts are always wrong. As we do, we look ahead to tomorrow, when we'll ask the following question about this appalling event:
Did Officer Lane try to do the right thing on that terrible day? If we don't want to be monsters ourselves, it's a question we maybe should ask.
Tomorrow, we're going to broaden that question, skillfully asking this:
Has Kathleen Parker ever done the right thing during her journalistic career? Beyond that, how many people in the upper-end press corps have ever done the right thing in a similar situation?
Go ahead! Can you name even one? (We can think of a few.)
What should Officer Lane have done that day? We've seen few discussions of that question. Are rookie cops trained for such situations? If not, why not? Have you seen a discussion of that?
We've seen no such discussions. Instead, we've seen attorney Crump spreading a claim which is probably false, trying to get Lane arrested too. We the people want to see the very bad others locked up!
Crump has spread misinformation before. Has Kathleen Parker ever done the right thing when it comes to matters like this?
Tomorrow: Parker is a good decent person. Her column is highly instructive.
Expected on Saturday: "Who killed Willie Moore?" (Way back when, Bob Dylan asked.) Featuring major Minnesotans of the present day!