Okay, so there’s this guy. He’s an asshole, but he’s just some guy, y’know?
No, his name is not Zaphod Beeblebrox.
His name is Michael John Frederick, Jr. Despite being just a guy – excuse me, just a white guy – he’s managed to make it into the news cycle for some of his recent accomplishments. What accomplishments, you wonder? Oh just this and that:
A detective told the court that Frederick confessed to firing several shots at Eddie Hall’s truck Sept. 7 and another shooting at the residence Sept. 10. He said Frederick also confessed to writing on Hall’s pickup truck, slashing the tires and damaging a window Sept. 9.
A rock was thrown through the front window of the Halls’ home Sept. 9, when the words “terrorist,” “black lives matter,” “get the f— out” and “not welcome” with a swastika were written on the truck.
As it turns out, drywall has rights. We learned that when the three police officers who discharged their weapons in the incident during which Breonna Taylor was murdered were investigated by a grand jury and none of them, none of them, were charged with any crime related to injuring or killing Taylor, but one of the three was charged with “Wanton Endangerment” when bullets that he fired passed out of Taylor’s apartment and penetrated the walls of an innocent apartment next door.
And so, Frederick Junior is actually being charged with a crime or two, including three counts of ethnic intimidation, since, as it happens, his victims were Black, he was white, and there was the little bit where he thought “Black Lives Matter” was a slur when he wrote it on their truck. Now, as we know, Junior does not dispute firing bullets into a building where people were living which many people would conclude showed a disregard as to whether or not he ended up literally murdering people. But this ethnic intimidation charge was a bridge too far for Mr. Junior (It’s strange, but who am I to judge), and it appears his lawyer might have reached out a little wee tiny bit to the Detroit Free Press to make sure Junior had the chance to get out the core of his message:
“I am extremely regretful of what I did,” said the white Warren man of attacks he
is accused ofhas confessed to making against the Halls, who are Black. “I can say it’s not like me. I acted way out of character. This wasn’t about the color of anyone’s skin.”
Yes, our Archangel Michael admits to shooting bullets, throwing rocks, and generally committing terrorism, but this wasn’t about the color of anyone’s skin. Don’t you dare call him racist.
Little Michael Frederick instead insists that this was all about retaliating against the family for their political speech:
[A]ccording to a police detective who testified in court, Frederick “claimed he targeted [the Halls] due to a Black Lives matter sign that had been displayed in the front window of the house.”
Yes, the Hall family had a Black Lives Matter sign in the front window of their home. But Junior just wants you to know he’d wantonly endanger anyone of any race who said something as offensive as Black Lives Matter. The judge took that contention entirely too seriously:
[Judge] Chupa said it’s of “great concern to me if, in fact, these things do bear out to be true. People should reasonably be able to disagree about politics without it resorting to violence.”
… “If you have a disagreement with someone about facts, engage them in conversation, try to figure things out. That’s what America is about. But using violence, whether motivated by race or politics or hatred or acrimony, I don’t care. That is not what America is about. …”
Of course, this raises additional questions. First, there’s the little problem of the definition of an “act of terrorism” under Michigan law:
(a) “Act of terrorism” means a willful and deliberate act that is all of the following:
(i) An act that would be a violent felony under the laws of this state, whether or not committed in this state.
(ii) An act that the person knows or has reason to know is dangerous to human life.
(iii) An act that is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence or affect the conduct of government or a unit of government through intimidation or coercion.
It bothers me that the judge is more concerned with painting a rosy picture of US politics than he is in painting a picture of just how close to getting a life sentence in a Michigan prison:
750.543f Terrorism; action; felony; penalty.
(1) A person is guilty of terrorism when that person knowingly and with premeditation commits an act of terrorism.
(2) Terrorism is a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years or a fine of not more than $100,000.00, or both.
I should move on, though. Of course a white guy who was born in the USA can’t be guilty of terrorism. Right?
That certainly does not end the criticism, however, because even more than the judges general priorities as portrayed in the news articles about the case, I am bothered by the fact that the judge is of the opinion that telling this guy, this particular guy, to go start a conversation with neighbors who believe Black lives actually do matter is a good idea and not in any way judicial recklessness when that advice is given to someone willing to shoot up homes where children are living. What the fuck could the judge have possibly been thinking during that moment?
I’m supposed to have a snappy, definitive conclusion here about how people should do this or that in this moment, but honestly, as appalled as I am by so much of this case (not only by the underlying criminal behavior), I am befuddled by the fact that the USA is a country where this schmuck admits to facts that could easily have amounted to manslaughter (should someone have been struck by one of his bullets), admits to intending to punish people for expressions of political speech in a manner that would require precious few other things to be true (if he was doing this to more than one family, or hoped that his behavior would “teach a lesson” to all persons with BLM signs, or did anything else to intimidate others communicating BLM messages) to become an admission to terrorism, and admits that the speech by which he was so infuriated that he decided to discharge lethal weapons and stalk and terrorize a family over a period of weeks was merely the phrase “Black Lives Matter”, and yet he wants everyone to know that he is not a racist.
Should we be happy that even this asshat knows racism is bad? Or should we cry that anyone, no matter how stupid & violent, could believe for a moment that shooting a gun at a Black family’s home for the crime of saying something as anodyne as “Black lives matter” has the least, most microscopic, fucking Planck-probability of being non-racist?
I don’t know. I can’t tell you to be more happy about some specific piece of this mess than you are sad about any other piece of this. I don’t know if you should be more relieved this fucker was caught or more outraged that he was doing this racist shit in the first place. The only thing I’m certain of right now is that if you found your way to this blog not because you agree with my views that this is violent, racist behavior is amongst the worst expressions of US society and that we will never have healthy communities until we have loving, connected, poly-racial communities, but instead found your way to this blog to hate read the opinions of someone who opposes your view that Black Lives Matter is a message that must be met with violence, then I want you to hear me say,
BLACK LIVES MATTER, YOU FUCKING RACIST