Trying desperately to overlook the obvious

The Daily Show looks at the extraordinary effort by those on the right to find something, anything, other than excessive and unreasonable use of force by the police to blame for the recent deaths of black people.

Incidentally, some are arguing that the fact that despite the clear video of the Garner killing no indictments were brought suggests that having police wear body cams will not help. I disagree. The existence of the video has created much greater consensus on the appalling nature of the killing which is why the excuses proffered on behalf of the police in this case are so absurd.

Without the video, we would have been regaled with stories similar to those given by the police in the Ferguson shooting, of how Garner reached into his pocket and police mistook his action as reaching for a gun or that he tried to attack the police by charging them or he tried to run away. The eyewitness testimony of spectators would have been dismissed as biased or contradictory, as they often are about details.

The more and more video that exists that show what truly happens, the harder it will be to maintain the façade that race has nothing to do with this kind of action. Having video evidence of the events cannot help but be a good thing. Change will not happen overnight. But it will come.

(This clip aired on December 4, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. Mobius says

    Yes, Stewart has been raking Fox News over the coals for the vile things they have been saying.

  2. smrnda says

    A benefit of body cameras is that it makes the police aware that they are under surveillance. It’s a reminder that as an institution, they have been proven to be untrustworthy, and that the public has a right to demand more oversight. Though it will provide actual evidence, it will also possibly check some egos.

  3. hyphenman says


    Here’s an angle that I’ve only heard mentioned in one news report (I was in my car listening to NPR so I don’t have the exact source) but which I think sheds light on the the killing of Eric Garner.

    The fact that Garner could speak, no matter how slightly, indicates that he was not in a choke hold and not killed by the officer who had his arm around Garner’s neck; so the grand jury may have gotten that part right.

    However, the other officers, who were granted immunity for their testimony, were likely the reason Garner died. When they piled on top of him their weight prevented Garner from inhaling in the same way constrictor snakes asphyxiate their prey . Each time he said, “I can’t breathe,” a little more air was pushed from his lungs and he came that much closer to dieing and that is where the prosecutor (intentionally?) and the grand jury went off the rails.

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  4. khms says

    I’m not claiming anything about Garner, but as for the pile-on, wasn’t there an ancient way of killing people by laying heavy stones on them, for exactly this kind of result? I don’t remember where I got that from …

  5. Holms says

    a) The coroner disagrees, and
    b) all that really suggest is that they were all culpable to some degree. Which is true. And it is also true of the medics who didn’t even offer any medical intervention, but simply asked him to breathe.

  6. doublereed says


    You can speak for a bit while being choked. And being he was obviously “in a chokehold.” What was in then? A neck massage? Just because it was poorly performed or something doesn’t mean it isn’t a chokehold. Not to mention that it was nonetheless illegal.

    Also, it’s not a trial. It’s an indictment.

  7. hyphenman says

    Good morning all,

    Before I address particular concerns, allow me to say this. A man is dead because police—fueled by hubris, zealousness, ignorance and racially inflamed animosity—allowed what should have been the equivalent of a jaywalking stop to escalate out of control. That no one involved in taking this man’s life is held responsible is a travesty and unacceptable on so many levels I cannot begin to create the list.

    Having said that, I believe that justice will not be brought about by allowing rage to overwhelm reason. Any error on the part of those incensed by this, and the plethora of similar injustices, will be seized upon by those who benefit by maintaining the status quo and used in disingenuous theatre to misdirect the conversation. I, for one, do not wish to allow these people any latitude to change the topic.

    We must be clear and precise.

    @Holmse, No. 5: I have not read the entire Coroner’s report, but Stewart’s video notes at time mark 2:32 that Eric Garner’s death was the result of:

    1. Compression of neck (choke hold);
    2. Compression of chest, and;
    3. Prone positioning during physical restraint by police.

    Of course we want to focus on the choke hold, but note that the coroner, at least in the document Stewart shows us, makes no judgement as to what degree each of these three factors contributed to Garner’s death. Was No. 1 the primary cause? The evidence I have in hand—that he could still speak—strongly suggest to me that the compression of neck was not the primary cause of death and that No. 2 is more likely the principle reason Garner died with No. 3 strongly contributing.

    Why then, I have to ask, did the prosecutor choose to grant immunity to the police officers sitting on Garner and go after only the officer compressing Garner’s neck?

    Tangentially, I would point you to the writing of one of Cleveland’s treasures, Roldo Bartimole, on the roll of the Grand Jury system in all this.

    Grand juries have a way of telling the history desired by those who hold power. Same as history is most often told.

    The Ferguson grand jury of Prosecutor Robert McCulloch—who was described by the New York Times as “widely viewed in the minority community as being in the pockets of the police”—seemed to fit the majority’s need to avoid a real exam of the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.

    And Justice denied breeds Justice decried.

    At a bare minimum, any grand jury convened to hear testimony involving police actions must involve a special prosecutor with no ties of any kind to the police force under scrutiny.

    @doublereed, No. 6: This is precisely why we have to not overreach. The coroner said neck compression. Does that mean airway compression? Blood flow compression (see EnlightenmentLibera No. 7)? Semantics matter because we don’t want to allow any escape avenues for those who agree with the grand jury. (Also, who said anything about a trial?)

    Do all you can to make today a more just day,

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

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