Who killed Davey Moore?: We saw two instructive interviews on "cable news" programs last night.
We especially recommend the appearance by Buffalo's mayor, the honorable and very bright Byron Brown, on the Rachel Maddow Show. On some bright non-weekend day, a transcript will likely appear.
During an 11-minute interview, Brown showed an unusual ability to speak to a wide array of competing concerns and interests. We only wished that the multimillionaire with whom he spoke, who he had to challenge on at least one occasion, had been able to display a similar range of awareness.
Two hours later, Detroit police chief James Craig spoke for five minutes with Brian Williams. We'd seen Craig interviewed earlier in the week, perhaps on MTP Daily, though MSNBC stopped producing transcripts for that program in February 2018.
Speaking from Buffalo, Mayor Brown savaged the local police union, saying its leadership had been "on the wrong side of history for a long time." Amazingly, he also asserted the right to due process for individual police officers who have charged with misconduct.
Speaking from Detroit, Chief Craig said that "the vast majority" of Detroit police officers had conducted themselves with great professionalism in the past week. He also said that "the vast majority" of protesters in Detroit had been completely peaceful.
We were glad to hear these two men, along with Williams himself, as they made a basic point. Police officers have been under tremendous stress in the past week or so, all three of these people noted.
Chief Craig noted the fact that some Detroit officers have been attacked with "railroad spikes," and that they've been spat upon. Williams noted the stress which comes with pulling 12-hour shifts, sometimes in the midst of considerable chaos.
In the course of addressing a wide range of concerns, Mayor Brown made a similar point.
We were glad to see that point expressed amid an array of other points. Here's why we say that:
Unlike everyone else on the planet, we've never been a police officer. We've never been placed in the difficult situations such people have been placed in this past week.
We've been surprised to learn, though only by inference, that everyone else has successfully served on such battle lines. Everyone else has made the heroic, split-second decision two rookie officers in Minneapolis egregiously failed to make.
Everyone else has displayed such heroics! We ourselves have not.
We've never arrived at the scene of an alleged crime, only to have an apparently crazy "training officer" arrive on the scene to take control and engage in vicious, insane behavior. Because we were never in such a strange situation, we've never had to do what everyone else has apparently done:
On our fourth or fifth day on the job, we've never forcibly pushed our superior officer off a man he continued to mistreat even after we suggested, several times, that he ought stop. (For Kevin Drum's treatment of this matter, click here.)
Everyone else has done that! Because we ourselves have never been placed in any such situation; and because we've never been a police officer at all; we tend to be slower to judge the conduct of police officers.
We don't know how we would have reacted in a wide array of circumstances this past week. Everyone else pretty much does, or at least so it seems.
Concerning the heinous killing of George Floyd, it doesn't seem especially hard to see who actually did it. That said, the crowd, including the "cable news" crowd, began to shout for three additional heads.
Everyone knew what they would have done as a rookie cop, in their fourth day on the job, in that insane situation. Everyone knows what they would have done.
Here on this campus, we don't.
Should two rookie cops in their fourth day of service be criminally charged with aiding and abetting a murder? Not being legal experts, we can't necessarily answer your question. We evaluate journalists here, not cops on the beat.
That said, as various pundits howled for their heads—we aren't allowed to know how much they're paid to pleasure us in so pleasing a way—our thoughts drifted back, again and again, to a song by the early Bob Dylan.
"Who killed Davey Moore?" the young Dylan once asked. He then rattled off a list of stakeholders and elites who swore that it hadn't been them.
Who the heck was Davey Moore? The leading authority fills us in on the basics:
Davey Moore was an American boxer whose career spanned 1953 to 1963...On March 18, 1959, Moore won the World Featherweight Title from Hogan Bassey. Moore held the title for four years and three days, defending it five times before losing it to Cuban Sugar Ramos on March 21, 1963.In a title bout in Madison Square Garden, reigning welterweight champion Benny "Kid" Paret had died in the ring one year earlier. It was the subsequent death of Moore which produced the Dylan song we've thought about all this week:
During the fight with Ramos in Dodger Stadium, Moore was knocked down into the ropes during the 10th round. Moore lost by technical knockout at the end of the 10th round and Ramos took the title. Moore walked back to his dressing room and conducted post-fight interviews, stating his desire to fight Ramos again and regain the title. After reporters left he complained of headaches and fell unconscious. He was taken to White Memorial Hospital where he was diagnosed with inoperable brain damage. Moore never regained consciousness and died as a result of the affliction on March 25, 1963.
"Who Killed Davey Moore" is a topical song written in 1963 by American folk singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. Though the song was not commercially released on Dylan's several studio albums in the 1960s, it was popular in his repertoire for live shows during that era.In Dylan's song, an array of stakeholders all explain that they weren't the ones who killed Davey Moore. One more time, the basics:
Following Moore's death, the morality of boxing was debated by politicians and religious leaders alike. Folksinger Phil Ochs' song "Davey Moore" offered a harsh criticism of the sport and those affiliated with it. However, Dylan's song delivered a more indirect message and a message that transcended the arena of boxing to include the enveloping society.
Dylan's song borrows the structure of the children's rhyme Cock Robin. As Dylan takes the perspective of the referee, the crowd, the manager, the gambling man, the boxing writer, and Sugar Ramos, he ends each line in the first person with the refrain:To hear the song, click here.
"It wasn't me that made him fall.
No, you can't blame me at all."
As it turns out, no one killed, or helped to kill, Davey Moore. We thought of those stakeholders this past week as a succession of office-holders all said it wasn't them who killed the late George Floyd, and that we should lock others up.
It wasn't me, the police chief said. He said we should lock up the rookies.
It wasn't me, the attorney general said, having arranged to take over the case. He charged the rookies with abetting a murder.
(He even told us that we could easily eliminate the achievement gap! He forgot to say why he was telling us this only now.)
It wasn't me, the governor said. Also, it wasn't the mayor. It wasn't Senator Klobuchar, who was first to leak the crowd-pleasing news that the rookies would get locked up.
We lost all measure of respect for several of these officials. We also lost a lot of respect for the stars of "cable news."
They didn't remember to ask the chief ask why a person like Chauvin was still out there working the streets. (Maybe there'sa food answer!) They didn't remember to ask him if those rookie cops had ever received any training for an incident as crazy as the one they encountered their fourth day on the job.
They didn't ask the governor, the mayor, the chief or the general why the chokehold was still being used in Minneapolis during their tenures. Instead, they did what such people will always do:
They called for the heads of the lessers among us. They howled for the heads of two working-class rookie cops, and they made the police chief a god.
What else did our journalists fail to do? As the crowd howled for blood, they didn't report the basic facts about the two officers' rookie status. They didn't report the fact that one of the rookies had tried to get Chauvin to stop.
The self-impressed heroes of cable news labor all knew what they would have done that day. We aren't allowed to know what they're paid to behave in such crowd-pleasing ways.
In theory, Derek Chauvin will be afforded due process. If he chooses to go to trial, he'll get to make a case.
Does the status of those novice cops create a bit of moral complexity? In our view, yes—it does.
We offer one final perspective:
There has long existed a childish "thought experiment in ethics" known as The Trolley Problem. With other-worldly dimwittedness, "it is generally considered to represent a classic clash between two schools of moral thought, utilitarianism and deontological ethics."
Dearest readers, as if! The childish experiment creates a hypothetical situation in which no good moral choice exists. People are then asked which of two horrible choices they would decide to make. The occasional professor may then pretend that two "schools of thought" are thereby implicated.
Sometimes, no good choice exists; this is a bone-simple fact. William Styron created a real-world version of this tragic fact in his book, Sophie's Choice. The Trolley Problem involves a simple-minded refusal to recognize this obvious fact.
What would the unwatchable Cooper and Lemon have done if they had suddenly been confronted with Chauvin's insane behavior? If they'd been forced to make the rookie cops' choice?
Have they ever bucked their bosses and their guild when life and death issues were at stake? For the record, people are dead all over the world because our journalists have fallen in line with mandated gong-shows over the past thirty years.
No one speaks up less than our "journalists" do! This helps explain how Donald Trump reached the White House.
As we noted in real time, Anderson Cooper kissed his ass on several major occasions during the 2016 campaign. Why didn't Cooper push back then? Why would he hang them high now?
In the current situation, the crowd was crying for the two rookies' heads. In fairness to the crowd, no one had the decency, the courage or the professionalism to report the most basic facts about the two officers' rookie status, or about what they actually did as Chauvin was killing Floyd.
So it went, long ago, when the crowd directed Pilate who to take and who to spare. So it goes, even today, with our horrible "cable news" stars.
In our view, it's obvious who killed the late George Floyd. That said, we'd like to know why that person was still on the job within the Minneapolis police force. We'd like to know why the chokehold was still approved for use on the streets of that self-impressed town.
We'd like to see someone ask the chief. We'd like to see someone ask the heroic Ellison. Sagaciously, though, the chief took a knee, and CNN made him a god, as with Jim Comey before him.
Our press corps died a long time ago! Disconsolate experts keep telling us that this is the way our brains are wired, that this is the best we can do.