Can I get a cookie for not being a fucking murderer, too?

Remember that time people were celebrating a video of a cop handing a black woman an ice cream cone instead of a ticket or a bullet?

Did anybody notice how fucking absurdly low our standard of behaviour is for cops? (Royal “Our” here–I largely mean white people who are not habitually profiled by the police).

A few months ago when I was walking to the store with my teenage son, a cop followed us on a busy highway, at a walking pace, all the way to the store. He stared at us coldly the entire time. When we entered the store parking lot he followed us in there too. Driving slowly behind us, all the way to the entrance of the store. He stayed there until we went in.

My son was shaking with fear the entire time. “Don’t say anything,” I said quietly, “Don’t make any sudden moves, don’t look at him. Just walk. We’ll be okay soon.”

“I shouldn’t have to be this afraid, Mom,” my son said, his voice wavering.

“I know, baby,” I said.

We entered the store feeling grateful to be alive and aware that if the police officer had decided otherwise, we would not have been.

Today, when I saw this video which has gone viral these past few days as a “feel-good” cop story, I finally made the connection. The video is of a black woman being pulled over by police. There is terror on her face as the officer walks up to her car. His gun is at her eye level. But the officer doesn’t reach for the gun — instead, he reaches for two ice cream cones to hand over to her and her passenger. Her terror gives way to the almost tearful relief that she is not going to come to harm at the hands of these officers. At least not today.

I haven’t killed anyone today. Does that mean should get heaps of praise?

Is that really our standard now?

Hey, I’ve gone an entire day without shooting someone, somebody give me a pat on the fucking head and a gold fucking star.

Jesus fuck.

-Shiv

 

3,600 life sentences for preaching “don’t be a dick”

Fethullah Gulen was a controversial figure long before the attempted coup in Turkey–he’s an Islamic scholar who interprets the Qu’ran emphasizing altruism and public service (which, believe it or not, was not well received). While I will always be somewhat uneasy with any theology simply by virtue of its epistemological weaknesses, I can at least acknowledge that Gulen’s theology is “more” compatible with my own morality than most theologians. Basically, it boils down to “don’t be a dick,” Gulen’s blind spot for Kurds notwithstanding.

Nonetheless, he’s been living in self-imposed exile in the United States, and his movement of altruistic public servants is being scapegoated as the perpetrators of the attempted coup. Politicians sympathetic to Kurds have been jailed, over 200 journalists who’ve criticized the government are facing a variety of treason charges, academics can’t publish anything remotely critical of their government without getting visits from the secret police, and over 150,000 people have been arrested on evidence as wafer-thin as “used an encrypted messaging app,” with around 50,000 put in pre-trial detention–Oh, and massive portions of the judiciary are in said pre-trial detention, so there’s no infrastructure to actually try the accused. Some have been waiting for their trial since last July.

The hobbled judiciary has announced that it seeks 3,623 “aggravated life sentences” for Fethullah Gulen’s supposed role in the attempted coup, an accusation disputed by British and German intelligence. One wonders how long it’s going to take to try the other 50,000 accused, almost all of whom were not likely involved in the coup at all given that they’re a smattering of public servants, academics, or even just people who Tweeted something mean about Supreme Snowflake Erdogan. Really, that should always be the first barrier to legitimately believing in a conspiracy–you’d have to believe that many people can organize competently.

What I find especially disturbing is that the Supreme Snowflake’s supporters are fine with all of this. They’re fine with Turkey’s ascension to the EU being utterly torpedoed. They’re fine with what few democratic institutions they had being knocked down. They’re fine surrendering the right to a speedy trial. They’re fine with laws structure with absurdly low standards of evidence such that an accusation is functionally equivalent to a conviction. They’re fine with the relatives of accused being arrested and charged and prosecuted to give leverage for forced confessions. They’re fine seeking government approval for speech.

I’d say it’s unreal, but I believe it. I don’t want to, but I do. Until the infrastructure of Erdogan’s dictatorship comes down on them, they’ll be just fine with it. That’s intensely frustrating. It doesn’t occur to them to question whether it is right to seek 3,623 life sentences for a preacher whose message boils down to “help your community,” because the person saying Gulen deserves it is wearing a fancy uniform.

-Shiv

Signal boosting: “The guards were organized criminals”

Concern over the treatment of inmates is generally my litmus test for how thought-out someone is with the concept of social justice. They’re an incredibly easy group to demonize–hell, even being accused is all it takes for some juries to condemn some defendants–and once that work is done, otherwise knowledgeable people can fumble and overlook the human rights abuses. Often the temptation is to immediately think of the unrepentant serial criminals, especially the violent ones, rather than appreciating that a wide range of individuals are imprisoned for a wide range of activities, some of which have relatively low social cost.

Even so, I have objected to the mistreatment of high-profile murderers in my local prisons because I have good reason to believe it doesn’t stop there.

Susan Ashline, on behalf of an inmate named Jon Fontaine, posted Fontaine’s writings on his lawsuit against the prison that housed him. What’s quite remarkable is that Fontaine screencapped his former guards’ public Facebook postings, which actually helps him corroborate some of his accusations.

Over the past four years, I’ve communicated with a few dozen people by mail, most wanting to know what prison is like. I’d tell them if they’ve seen any “reality” shows about prison, New York prisons are nothing like that. There is no professionalism, no respect. I’d write them, “They literally put unconvicted criminals in charge and let them do anything they want. It’s legal organized crime.”

I’d go on and list all the things officers do, from singular assault to gang assault, murder, rape, planting weapons and drugs, selling weapons and drugs, extortion, and more.

Some believe me, some don’t.

If the public isn’t convinced by the criminal prosecutions now that the Office of Special Investigations was formed to replace the Inspector General’s Office (which was made up of former corrections officers);

If they’re not convinced by the federal charges brought by the US Attorney General’s Office, which stated brutality in New York’s prisons has reached critical levels;

If they’re not convinced by the tens of millions of dollars New York pays out each year to settle lawsuits brought by inmates;

Just look at the corrections officers’ own public statements. They’re playing their positions.

Many thanks to those officers for contributing to my credibility.

Read more about it here.

Don’t get *too* optimistic, there

Abby Brockman strikes me is a bit too optimistic despite catching a critical detail in this scoop: The United States’ border patrol agencies are bleeding out employees faster than they can hire. However, it’s not because the employees in question are having crises of conscience--it’s because the conditions in which they work are shitty.

Trump has ordered the agency to add 5,000 agents to beef up patrols and surveillance in advance of his proposed border wall. But its current 19,000-strong force is already 2,000 shy of a target set during the Obama administration.

Officials said tough screening, especially a lie-detector test, rejected many qualified candidates, and that tough conditions such as living in remote, rugged areas prompted more than 1,000 agents to quit every year.

“Some people just don’t want to live there,” said Randolph “Tex” Alles, acting deputy commissioner of CBP, a 60,000-strong agency that includes Border Patrol. “Hiring challenges are not new. Attracting and recruiting high quality individuals is a challenge for us.”

I wish I could claim optimism and say more people are becoming aware of the imperialist functions required by a state like the USA and consider said functions morally unconscionable, but those functions typically attract the bullies and sociopaths anyways. Boredom definitely strikes me as a much likelier culprit than the sudden discovery of a moral compass.

As ever, authoritarians give us a glimpse into their mindset with delightful(?) Freudian slips: (emphasis mine)

Tony Crowder, the executive director of Air and Marine Operations, told the Guardian his agency was struggling to retain and recruit enough pilots.

Commercial airlines were luring pilots who in some cases were expected to work in remote areas and participate in arrests. “They pay more and it’s a different type of work.”

Another problem is the attitude of young people, especially those for whom 9/11 is distant history. “They have a different view of public service. I don’t want to indict an entire generation but it’s harder to sell self-sacrifice for the common good.

I would argue the reverse, Mr. Crowder. Millenials are more likely to accept that the brown people you’re abusing count as part of the “common good.” To say nothing of how the Mexicans and South Americans brutalized by your practices had sweet fuck all to do with 9/11. That my generation is less willing to blindly accept authority is in my estimate a virtue we must desperately cling to. By the time we’re your age, the coastal cities will be flooded and we’ll need to start electing politicians governments who can think farther ahead than 4 years.

-Shiv

The subjugation of women performers is certainly compatible with the Trump ethos

David over on We Hunted the Mammoth has signal boosted the plight of the Rockettes, a troupe of dancers who are being strong-armed by their union to perform at Trump’s inauguration despite their objections. The dancers have expressed that they “oppose everything Trump stands for” and that they are understandably upset their employer is threatening to terminate them if they don’t dance for Trumpenfurher.

David echoes Amanda Duarte’s call to contact the troupe’s producers and their union to express support for the Rockettes who do not wish to appear at Trumpenfurher’s inauguration.

Duarte is encouraging people to contact the show’s producers as well as the American Guild of Variety Artists and the Madison Square Garden Company to express their support for all of the Rockettes who want to boycott Trump’s big party.

Email the producers directly:
Jill.DeForte@msg.com
larry.sedwick@msg.com

feedbackradiocity@MSG.com

Call AGVA (American Guild of Variety Artists)
as well
212-675-1003
make sure you express that if a Rock does not wish to perform, she shouldn’t have to and there should not be a repercussion.

Be firm, but polite. Help the boycotting Rockettes to just say no to Trump.

This is symbolic of the incoming administration’s attitude towards the autonomy of women–to them, it doesn’t exist at all.

Please support the Rockettes’ choice to perform or not perform.

I am writing in to express support for the Radio City Rockettes who have indicated strong disagreements with their employer’s contract to perform at the President-Elect’s inauguration.

Donald Trump ran on a campaign of unprecedented division, demonizing countless demographics in the United States and scapegoating them for the perceived grievances of more privileged Americans.

Trump is an unusual President, which calls for unusual politics. He holds nothing but contempt for the very democratic process which foisted him into power. And it is chillingly symbolic for the AGVA to coerce Rockettes into performing against their will for a President whose platform routinely advocates the elimination of women’s bodily autonomy.

Individual performers must be given the choice, free of coercion, whether to perform for the President-Elect. Anything less is tacit support for Trump’s authoritarian disposition.

Siobhan

Writer at FreeThoughtBlogs

-Shiv

Trump is slated to purge Energy Department employees who worked on climate change

Although it is entirely ordinary for the management positions of government administration to rotate when new governments are elected, over here in sane Canuckistan, most low- to mid-level administrators keep their positions. This is in part because they are hired to follow orders rather than issue them, so the logic there is that an administrator whose job is to spellcheck a report will still need to spellcheck reports regardless of who they come from.

Apparently that’s not good enough in Trumpland, because the transition team is asking the Energy Department to “provide a list of employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings and worked on key Obama administration climate policies, including the social cost of carbon.”

Which is a pretty fucked up request. It’s one thing to turf the reality-based management of the EPA and the Energy Department, because the new administration is allergic to reality and a government is well within its rights to do so (regardless of how regrettable said action is). But for fuck sake, the employees who attended? The god damn minute-takers and personal assistants gotta go too?

I guess I just haven’t fully comprehended how much reality the incoming Trump administration is prepared to pretend doesn’t exist.

-Shiv