“He Has Been Accused of Growing Authoritarianism…”


I know it’s all the fashion, in some circles, to belittle the “mainstream media” for being hard on Donald Trump – but I think the media ought to be more direct and less cautious in its wording.

One notorious example is the New York Times adopting the Bush administration’s fig-leaf terminology for torture, and calling it “enhanced interrogation.” That unfortunate choice of words helped the administration muddy the waters, and helped the Obama administration white-wash them. It’s like when the media adopted the Clinton administration’s fig-leaf terminology “ethnic cleansing” instead of “genocide” in order to help them avoid triggering the UN Convention on Genocide, which requires signatories to take positive action when genocide is seen to be done. So, the Clinton administration looked at what was happening in Rwanda and called it “ethnic cleansing” – and the media went along with it. It wasn’t the Rwandans who were calling it that; it was the civilized world, who had declared “never again” after the nazis. “Never again” and a couple bucks’ll get you a latte’ at the Starbucks in the lobby of The Times.

I know it’s sad that reporting is going to suffer as the media continues to die, strangled financially by the internet – but, screw them: they had their chance. We are stuck with an incoherent, lying, wind-bag in part thanks to their soft-pedalling what should have been a strong critique all along. They should have been “telling it like it is.”

If there is one thing that authoritarian media should have taught, it’s that the press does not need to avoid editorializing. I happen to think that’s part of why the media are dying: they fail to make a principled stand (and to explain why they have principles) which leaves the unprincipled foe with all the maneuvering-power on the battlefield of ideas.

So, here’s the BBC doing it: (emphasis mine) [bbc]

Turkey LGBT: Police stifle Istanbul Gay Pride rally

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party is rooted in conservative Islam, has denied wanting to impose traditional religious values, saying he is committed to secularism. But he supports Turks’ right to express their religion more openly.

He has been accused of growing authoritarianism in recent years.

This is the third year in a row that Turkey’s largest city has banned the Gay Pride rally.

No, that is bullshit, BBC. He is an authoritarian, and he is setting himself up as a dictator. Soft-pedalling language like The BBCs helps him get away with it. Doubtless there are some saps, somewhere, who read that and thought, “Oh dear, The Beeb seems to think Erdogan may be a problem some day. Oh, my.”

Oh. My.

They did not “ban” the Gay Pride rally: they “suppressed” it. First, yes, they banned it, but then they used rubber bullets to disperse the marchers, and arrested a lot of them.

Police in the Turkish city of Istanbul have thwarted attempts by organisers to hold a banned Gay Pride march.

No, BBC, you authoritarian-enabling mouthpieces for dictatorship – shooting people with rubber bullets is not “thwarting” someone. It’s not even “stifling” them, unless that’s a new euphemism for waterboarding that I haven’t run across yet. For one thing, it’s potentially life-threatening violence: if you get hit in an eye or your throat, rubber bullets can kill, blind, or cripple. The Turkish police used tear gas, high pressure hoses, and plastic bullets fired from some kind of paintball-like gun.

This is not “thwarting” a march. [source]

The pig with the gun (I’m going to switch to 60’s terminology for the police) has a high pressure tank on his back, and the gun looks like it’s using some standard paintball components, like the top-feeder. A little googling around and you can learn a lot more about the kind of plastic bullets the Turks are using to “thwart” the marchers. And it’s nasty stuff, sold by nasty people to nasty people. [source]

“They are also used to break vehicular and structural glass upon impact … and are ideally followed by pepper ball rounds.” Something that can break a car window can blow out your eye, knock out a tooth, choke you. Have you ever been shot with a paintball and been hit on an unarmored area? These are basically paintballs except they are solid. You’ve also got to appreciate the marketing genius of calling them “skull breakers” – that just screams safe and non-lethal doesn’t it?

The site even has helpful pictures of the kind of bruises these things leave:

The guns are made by Tippmann, of Ft Wayne Indiana. USA! Their website says: “Tippmann has a marker for every style of play” but for some reason they mostly seem to be focusing on promoting paintball as a fun sport.

If anyone shoots me or mine with something like that, I will respond with 7.62x51mm HPBT or worse. When I was in basic training, I had to take a couple deep breaths of CS gas; the same applies. I think the only way a cop can spray someone in the face with CS gas and survive is if the recipient is unarmed, or doesn’t know what’s coming at them. Because anyone who knows what’s about to happen is going to “stifle” a hole right through that pig, if they’re geared for it. Remember, it takes good guys with guns to ‘thwart’ bad guys with guns.

The Turkey situation, however, is just fucked up. How is the media continuing to report about Erdogan like he’s a semi-normal politician who’s just maybe a bit authoritarian? I remember the soft meepings from the press when Putin made himself dictator of Russia – same thing, “Oh, my. He’s getting a bit authoritarian…” and then some buildings were blown up using Russian military hexanitro explosive, and Putin suddenly was there to clamp down, thwart, and suppress terrorists. [wikipedia] And the media didn’t complain a whole lot because he “thwarted” some of them into morgues.

$7b buys a nice house

That is Erdogan’s $7b residential palace, paid for by the taxpayers of Turkey. Saddam Hussein would be envious. Saddam Hussein would also envy the nuclear weapons the US has proliferated to Turkey. There’s some kind of horrible, black irony there, but I don’t even want to decant it and sniff at it: you know it’s deeply rotten.

The US isn’t going to stop supporting Erdogan, because he’s a useful dictator, and the US has always preferred a useful dictator to a messy democracy; they have a tendency to do things like vote to ask you to leave.

This is not going to end well.

It seems like everyone’s got a “cop problem” these days.

------ divider ------

LGBT rights for Turkey!

Don’t forget, the US still apparently has 50 or so MK-61 variable-yield H bombs stored at Incirlik air force base. I have heard unsubstantiated stories that in situations similar to the attempted coup d’etat in Turkey, the custodians of the bombs can render them inert by cutting the trigger-harness off at the physics package. But that’s only temporary. The US is hopping up and down about Iran’s alleged and North Korea’s modest nuclear ambitions, and they forward-deployed 50 pick-of-the-litter H bombs to Turkey. Thank god they’re not muslims there, or there would be hell to pay!

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had an idiot savant-like ability to recognize weapons. Seriously, I can tell a sword by Assad Ullah from across the room. It makes it painful to go to something like Star Wars and go “why are they shooting laser bolts out of a WWII German MG-34?” or ALIENS and “Hey, that’s an MG-42!” Or worse, the scene in one of those wretched Indiana Jones movies where he points a Lanchester/Sterling 9mm at the Ark of the Covenant, when Sterlings hadn’t been invented, yet. I just hate that crap. So, of course, I google image-searched “Tippman paint ball gun” and in about 3 seconds I recognized the “Tippmann A5 Response Trigger Paintball” gun that the Turkish pig is using on the unarmed civilians. You can get direct from Tippmann for $249.95, [tippmann] if you want to play paintball with a pig. But I recommend you go with a high-powered rifle if you’re going to do that.

The Brits have really been gearing up with the rubber bullets, too. [independent] The Independent points out that the Brits were fond of the rubber bullets and baton rounds in Ireland, neglecting to mention that they also shot 28 unarmed civilians with 7.62NATO ball on bloody sunday in 1972 [sunday]

I’m not gonna ask anyone for a retweet, but…

PS – yes, I know in Star Wars that Leia’s pistol is a broomhandle Mauser. And Chewie has a Barnett Commando Crossbow. And blasters are built around a Sterling 9mm submachine gun. George Lucas sucks. At least they could have made up some weapons that outright wouldn’t work like the weird mannlicher-style bolt action semiautomatic blaster in Blade Runner. It’s parts from the junk-box but at least it’s not a WWII weapon with some nurnies stuck on it!  (OK, now, see what I did there? I didn’t look up that it was a mannlicher bolt on the Blade Runner gun, I just knew that off the top of my head. And the bottom’s a Walker Bulldog – that gun is a victorian British military piece with a victorian German hunting rifle glued on top of it. C’mon, Hollywood!)  I appreciate games like Halo and Mass Effect where they at least try to devise plausible looking and operating weapons.

Comments

  1. John Morales says

    It’s pedalling, not peddling.

    (cf. soft-pedalling and back-pedalling)

    But yes, I too think such euphemisms and vague truths are pernicious.

  2. says

    John Morales@#1:
    You’re right. I can’t believe I made that mistake; I hope my brain isn’t breaking down. I plead fatigue.

    I’ve fixed it in the article but I’ll leave the comment stand. Thanks.

    (edit: /facepalm)

  3. says

    On the flight back from London I wound up tipsily falling asleep to Rogue One and noticed that it’s still Star Wars – why was whatshername packing a Luger 9mm with an aluminum tube over it? And why was whatsisface waving around a shortened AR-15 with a sawed-down clip? That’s without getting into the deeper questions like “why is Ip Man in the future?”

  4. chigau (違う) says

    If I stuck my crochet hook in his exposed ear and pushed really hard, would I be able to get a bit of his “brain”?
    I’m fairly sure I could get there through his nose…

  5. says

    chigau@#4:
    I’m fairly sure I could get there through his nose…

    They used to do frontal lobotomies with a wire through the eye-socket. I’m pretty sure a crochet hook up the nose would have some kind of beneficial effect. Although I think just getting shot with a few of those rock-hard paintballs and getting sprayed with pepper spray would probably give him some perspective.

  6. says

    chigau

    That’s how they took the brains out of bodies-to-be-mummified in ancient Egypt. Hook thru the nose, wiggle it around a bit to scramble the brain, and pull it out in bits and pieces.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    WMDKitty
    Yup.
    They told me that in about the fourth grade.
    It made an impression.
    I grew up to be an Archaeologist.

  8. Dunc says

    Is @Tippmann proud to see their A-5 ‘with response trigger’ being used to shoot unarmed protesters in Turkey?

    The money’s the right colour, so I’m guessing they’re fine with it.

    The business of arms sales to authoritarian regimes is one of those grubby little not-exactly-secrets that only hippies seem to care about. For example, the British government allows the export of “out-size handcuffs” to Saudi Arabia, while the export of leg irons is prohibited on the grounds that they facilitate torture. Apparently, Saudi Arabia has the worlds largest number of morbidly obese inmates…

    There’s a fascinating, funny, and horrifying book on the subject by British comedian and arms-trade activist Mark Thomas, called “As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela”. The title is apparently taken from a genuine catalogue of “security equipment” produced by a British manufacturer of restraints and electro-shock batons.

  9. sillybill says

    Dunc @8,
    There used to be a report floating around the web called ‘The Technology of Social Control’ or some such. It listed the many companies that were selling such things as shock batons, shock shields, thumbscrews, manacles, hi voltage/hi frequency charging systems for razor wire barriers, ‘less than lethal’ weaponry, etc. They got lots of their info from examing export license forms and the small print in State Department ‘Aid to foreign Law Enforcement’ contracts. I tried googling it for a link but can’t find it. I may be misremembering the exact title.

    I was shot in the kneecap with a 12 ga. bean bag round at the FTAA protests in Miami eons ago, it hurt like hell and I was out of action for a couple days till the swelling went down. The next day one of my affinity group members was shot in the eye with a pepper ball round that was shot out of a similar weapon as the Tippman A5. The ball contained pepper powder and was weighted with very fine lead shot that was about as small as insect eggs, it took the doctors a couple days to get all the shot and plastic fragments out of his eye socket. He lost about 60% of the vision in that eye. ‘Less than Lethal’ weaponry just encourages the cops to shoot more often and without discrimination.

  10. says

    sillybill@#9:
    There used to be a report floating around the web called ‘The Technology of Social Control’ or some such.

    I remember that. I don’t think it was a book, though you could get print-on-demand. Interesting stuff, reminiscent of Tom Gervasi’s Arsenal of Democracy. I should find it and do a review.

    (pain)

    Owwww!! I guess we’re supposed to be glad it wasn’t military ball, or something.

    I’m amazed that, when cops repress protests, there aren’t waves of cop-shootings for months afterward. Eventually it’ll come to that, it’s just a matter of when.

  11. says

    Dunc@#8:
    The business of arms sales to authoritarian regimes is one of those grubby little not-exactly-secrets that only hippies seem to care about. For example, the British government allows the export of “out-size handcuffs” to Saudi Arabia, while the export of leg irons is prohibited on the grounds that they facilitate torture.

    It’s definitely problematic. I recall reading (probably in the articles sillybill references @#8) about the US preventing the shipment of “shock sticks” for interrogators in Egypt, who were perfectly happy with “cattle prods” that did the same thing.

  12. sillybill says

    Marcus,
    It wasn’t a book, it was a long essay with loads of footnotes. I think it was made by a British or Canadian think tank, I remember seeing it before 911.
    And yes, I was thankful it wasn’t military ball.
    As for ‘waves of cop-shootings’ – we’re trying to avoid that sort of thing. Non-violence trainings and all that. Staying away from felonies. Non-violent can be rowdy.

  13. sillybill says

    Yay!! Thanks Marcus, I’ll read it again. It will obviously need to be updated to include the Retroscope. If you post it I’ll add comments for an upgrade.

  14. komarov says

    Damn, I rather like the BBC, but confess hadn’t thought too much about those very headlines about Erdogan. That said, any ostensibly elected leader who gets re-elected that often deserves scrutiny, no matter the circumstances. The referendum didn’t surprise me either, but that was partly due to it being common-place for awful stuff to be voted in by the narrowest of margins. If I ever run for office, my slogan will be “Vote misery.” It’s both honest and a guarantee for victory.

    Regarding the picture, I noticed two things:
    1) Those coppers seem lightly armed compared to US coppers at protests. Maybe those are my low expectations, or maybe it’s just the camera angle. For all I know there are ten legions of paintballing cops with air support and tanks just outside the frame.
    2) The professionalism, especially of the copper in background who’s holding his gun high up. Those smegheads really enjoy their work, don’t they?

    These non-lethal weapons are clearly anything but.* If I had to train people with them, I’d stick to the same rules as with regular firearms. No doubt cops everywhere already know them by heart and follow them instinctively, so it’ll be easy, right?
    I’d also have people aim at the feet.** Not knees, not legs, feet. Hopefully everyone wears sensible shoes to a protest and hopefully this would be a suitable deterrent while also staying well clear of any important bits that could get permanently injured. (Feet aren’t invincible but are bound to be better than the face, joints or torso that might get hit otherwise)

    I’d also institute some policies that a) people like the background clown get fired*** and b) these gung-ho idiots are held responsible for the permanent injuries they cause (along with their superiors and department). It’s that kind of pressure that usually gets people to come up with better ways of dealing with problems. I shan’t be getting my hopes up for a promotion to president of the police, though. I’d be terrible at dealing with protests anyway. Partly because I’d never allow those weapons to be used, and partly because I’d lack the motivation to act on protests, barring any violent, skip-burning mobs that might roam the city.
    “So they’ve taken the main road, have they? We have others. Besides, they might have a point. Yes, maybe we should send an officer to find out. Get me a full report by, oh, next week.”

    *My definition of an actual non-lethal weapon would be something that is uncomfortable (not quite painful) to the point where peole just give up out of frustration. At least that’s what I’d go for with long-lasting events where general discouragement might be needed. It would probably involve water and balloons, and if the cops brought enough for everybody, everyone might end up having fun.
    Come to think of it, that’s probably the best way to disperse a protest: Just turn it into a huge waterballoon fight. At the end everybody wants to go home and there’s no bad press, quite the opposite. (Winter might also require plenty of hot tea, but I’m sure some APCs could be retrofitted into kettles.)

    **This brings me to option two for rendering a protest harmless: Instead of firing thousands high-velocity rubber balls at everyone, just pour them onto the street and wait. If cartoons are any guide, the opposition should be falling all over themselves very quickly and – possibly – humorously. For this strategy it is critical you hold the high ground. If you try this in an uphill battle hilarity is practically guaranteed.

    ***Possibly out of a cannon

  15. says

    It seems like everyone’s got a “cop problem” these days.

    Yep. In USA they just shoot people of color. In Russia they just throw random people in jail (for example, Andrei Bubeyev who landed in jail for sharing on a social media site a picture of a toothpaste tube with the words: “Squeeze Russia out of yourself!”). Cops must be having lots of fun destroying random lives. Plus they also get to intimidate everybody who watches news and realizes that they may be randomly assaulted for no reason whatsoever.

    But what I admire most is the ingenuity of cops who want to terrorize people but just cannot do it legally. In Latvia our “cop problem” is very different. Here cops don’t shoot people. They couldn’t get away with it. Police experience the pain of dealing with media outcries even for injuring people. They can’t throw random people in jail either. Judges just don’t cooperate and refuse to throw innocent people in jail. Our poor cops can’t even get away with some sweet and profitable civil forfeiture in USA style (something like that doesn’t even exist here).

    That’s why our police must get creative and invent more subtle ways how to terrorize people. This one is a story from few years ago. A cop purchased a custom made gold coin from a jeweler. He didn’t know a thing about gold alloys, but he did some weird “test”, which made him believe that the coin isn’t made from gold. He felt cheated, so he ganged up with some colleagues and simply arrested the jeweler. During the interrogation the jeweler was given an ultimatum, she could 1) sign a confession and be released to go home until the day of trial; 2) refuse to sign a confession and stay behind bars for a while. The jeweler was a mother of a small child. She was threatened that if she refuses to sign the confession, her kid will be sent to an orphanage while she stays in prison. Needless to say she signed the damned thing and confessed in selling a counterfeit product. And the cops didn’t even keep their promise to release her. She stayed in prison for 48 hours (that’s the max time period cops can legally keep people behind bars). Only after all this nonsense was done, somebody in the police finally got the genial idea that they could just send the coin to a laboratory and find out what it’s made out of. The results revealed that the coin was made from gold exactly as it was supposed to be. Whoops! They should have just dropped the charges and apologized. Except that our dear cops never admit mistakes and never apologize. They already had the confession, so the case went to the trial. The judge concluded that the jeweler was innocent. The cop appealed. Once again another judge concluded that the jeweler was innocent. The cop appealed again… The jeweler was forced to attend trial numerous times. The trial process dragged several years. Oh, and did I mention that she needed to pay a lawyer from her own pocket? Whenever there are no loopholes for blatantly abusing power, that’s how you subtly terrorize people in Latvian style. The result: a completely innocent person had to stay in jail for 48 hours, she had to waste money to pay a lawyer, she attended trial numerous times for the duration of several years (lots of wasted time) and not to mention all the stress it caused for both her and her child.

  16. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Yep. In USA they just shoot people of color.

    They shoot everyone. People of color have a much higher chance of being shot, but they also shoot people too and get off all the time.

    Also, regarding your Latvia story: Well, the fix there seems obvious to me at least, who’s done a lot of American and British historical research on this for my own amusement.

    Step 1: A- Allow arrest for persons wanted on felonies. B- Allow arrest for failure to appear but only with a warrant,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failure_to_appear
    C- Allow arrest for ongoing non-felony violent offenses and ongoing refusals to stop ongoing non-felony offenses, but arrest is allowed only during the commission of the offense (the historical term is “breach of the peace”). By default, disallow arrest for other offenses and circumstances. In other words, when the matter can be settled by setting a date for trial and issuing a summons to attend trial, arrest shall be unlawful.

    Step 2: When arrested, there is a duty and obligation to see a judge for a hearing as soon as reasonably possible. At this hearing, bail must be determined and offered, formal charges must be pressed, and the arrested person must be allowed to make preliminary challenges to the charges and the ongoing detention. In addition to the legally enforceable but soft requirement “as soon as reasonably possible”, add a hard requirement that the hearing must be held within 6 hours for daytime arrest and 16 hours for nighttime arrest, weekends and holidays not exempt, otherwise the person shall be immediately released without bail conditions of any kind.

    Step 3: I don’t know how it is in Latvia, but in America we have a problem with excessive bails. In America, we need to drastically reduce bail in nearly all cases. In many cases, “released on one’s own recognizance” should suffice.

    I think that these fixes would do wonders for the problems of that particular story.

    Of course, creative people can find creative ways to abuse someone. To that, I simply say that we should fix new abuses as soon as they become known.

    Let me plug some of my own further ideas, some of which are unusual, extreme, and radical.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EJRrzrZAuWv2tU4wz6GZLATBphmx72D__kV-5rdS2Ro/edit

  17. Dunc says

    komarov, @15:

    Those coppers seem lightly armed compared to US coppers at protests.

    While the attitude of the police seems to be more-or-less the same across much of the world, the US is almost unique in routinely having them cosplay as Space Marines.

  18. says

    Damn, I rather like the BBC, but confess hadn’t thought too much about those very headlines about Erdogan. That said, any ostensibly elected leader who gets re-elected that often deserves scrutiny, no matter the circumstances. The referendum didn’t surprise me either, but that was partly due to it being common-place for awful stuff to be voted in by the narrowest of margins. If I ever run for office, my slogan will be “Vote misery.” It’s both honest and a guarantee for victory.
    Regarding the picture, I noticed two things:
    1) Those coppers seem lightly armed compared to US coppers at protests. Maybe those are my low expectations, or maybe it’s just the camera angle. For all I know there are ten legions of paintballing cops with air support and tanks just outside the frame.
    2) The professionalism, especially of the copper in background who’s holding his gun high up. Those smegheads really enjoy their work, don’t they?
    These non-lethal weapons are clearly anything but.* If I had to train people with them, I’d stick to the same rules as with regular firearms. No doubt cops everywhere already know them by heart and follow them instinctively, so it’ll be easy, right?
    I’d also have people aim at the feet.** Not knees, not legs, feet. Hopefully everyone wears sensible shoes to a protest and hopefully this would be a suitable deterrent while also staying well clear of any important bits that could get permanently injured. (Feet aren’t invincible but are bound to be better than the face, joints or torso that might get hit otherwise)
    I’d also institute some policies that a) people like the background clown get fired*** and b) these gung-ho idiots are held responsible for the permanent injuries they cause (along with their superiors and department). It’s that kind of pressure that usually gets people to come up with better ways of dealing with problems. I shan’t be getting my hopes up for a promotion to president of the police, though. I’d be terrible at dealing with protests anyway. Partly because I’d never allow those weapons to be used, and partly because I’d lack the motivation to act on protests, barring any violent, skip-burning mobs that might roam the city.
    “So they’ve taken the main road, have they? We have others. Besides, they might have a point. Yes, maybe we should send an officer to find out. Get me a full report by, oh, next week.”
    *My definition of an actual non-lethal weapon would be something that is uncomfortable (not quite painful) to the point where peole just give up out of frustration. At least that’s what I’d go for with long-lasting events where general discouragement might be needed. It would probably involve water and balloons, and if the cops brought enough for everybody, everyone might end up having fun.
    Come to think of it, that’s probably the best way to disperse a protest: Just turn it into a huge waterballoon fight. At the end everybody wants to go home and there’s no bad press, quite the opposite. (Winter might also require plenty of hot tea, but I’m sure some APCs could be retrofitted into kettles.)
    **This brings me to option two for rendering a protest harmless: Instead of firing thousands high-velocity rubber balls at everyone, just pour them onto the street and wait. If cartoons are any guide, the opposition should be falling all over themselves very quickly and – possibly – humorously. For this strategy it is critical you hold the high ground. If you try this in an uphill battle hilarity is practically guaranteed.
    You can visit for paintball facts here: https://goo.gl/RRuCgp

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