Tag Archives: murder

And justice for all…

8 Feb
I wonder how this will fit into the gun violence debate? (It won’t because it’s socially acceptable violence since it’s being perpetrated by the “approved” shooters)

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See all those bullet holes in the back of that truck? The LAPD pulled up behind this car and just started shooting. The victims in the car were two women delivering morning papers. Both have been rushed to the hospital. The police gave no warning and did not identify themselves as police. For all the women knew, assuming they had a second to think when the bullets started ripping through the back of their car and their bodies, this could have well been a gang shooting.

But it wasn’t an underground gang of armed thugs, it was the socially approved kind. The “official” users of violence and guns. These women were not the only victims that day. The LAPD did the same thing to another man driving a similar vehicle. They were hunting people down and opening fire, without warning, without checking first, and endangering neighborhoods. Local news outlets warned people to stay out of blue pickup trucks because the police were shooting first and asking questions later.

Think about that for a moment. People were told to stay off the streets because the police, their “protectors” would summarily execute them on site without notice, cause, or trial.

Before we get to the “why” they did this, I want to make something clear. “Why” is really a secondary issue here. There is no excuse for police to ambush people and start shooting them. It doesn’t matter what the “why” is. The “why” can only be used as an attempt to excuse the inexcusable. Nonetheless, “why” will be used as an excuse by everyone from the police officers to the apologists who can’t comprehend the idea that their police could do anything so horrible. To the apologists, the police will always be given the benefit of the doubt. They are their protectors after all, the “good guys.”

There will be no reasonable consequences for the attempted murders.

When the police officers tried to murder the occupants of this vehicle, and the other one they shot up, they were not acting as police officers. They were acting as vigilante thugs. Despite this, they will not be prosecuted as vigilante thugs. They will be shielded and protected by the powerful institution they belong to.  Their punishment will be administrative leave with pay. Paid vacation.

Why? The law is applied differently to different people.

We are not all equal before the law. That is a naive myth, a comforting lie we like to tell ourselves. People in positions of power and/or fame are treated differently than the average citizen. The worst part? For the most part, people are ok with this. It’s expected that powerful people are treated differently. Bush and Cheney will never be tried for war crimes, lying to the American public, and illegally spying on our own citizens. Obama will never be punished for continuing and expanding upon those exact same crimes. There will be no real punishment for the BP executives responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. Not a single wall-street executive or banker will be prosecuted for crashing the economy and destroying the lives of millions. There will be no punishment for the Catholic church that systematically enabled and protected child rapists. Likewise, there will be no punishment for these police officers.

There is no justice for the powerful, only punishment for the powerless.

Sure you might point out this case or that, but that does not change the overwhelming trend of injustice and corruption in American society. Things have always been this way. Things will always be this way. You can’t change it. You can’t ask the powerful to punish themselves; likewise, you can’t appeal to them to police themselves.

This is the only way the powerful experience justice:

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Sic semper tyrannis. The only time the powerful experience justice for crimes like murder, extortion, torture, corruption, persecution, destroying the economy, etc., is when their citizens fall upon them and lynch them.

No doubt this is probably unsettling to you, but think about it. What is usually the worst that happens to these people entrusted with so much power and privilege?

They lose their job. Whoopie fuckin do.

Could you imagine committing a crime and the worst thing that happens to you is that you lose your job? To an average person, losing their job is pretty terrible because they lose their income. But we’re not talking about average people, we’re talking about the powerful. How many poor powerful people are there? None. So what punishment, what suffering do they endure as a result of losing their job? Only their ego suffers.

How is that fair? How is that justice?

You know what would be fair? What would be justice? If the punishment fit the crime.

Indeed this is (supposedly) the standard to which we hold all other individuals in society, but the powerful get a fee pass. If society entrusts you with extraordinary power, privilege, authority, and responsibility, you should face extraordinary punishment whenever you misuse and abuse that trust. I’m talking life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

I imagine some people might object to having an equal standard for both the powerful and the powerless. I imagine the knee-jerk reaction to the thought of life in prison or the death penalty for our leaders, protectors, priests, and executives might be “no, that’s not fair. That’s not how things work.” Yet if you think about it, it is fair and it is how things should work. I believe this immediate gut instinct against equality and justice is the result of societal conditioning. Things don’t currently work like this and so to consider the opposite is alien and strange.

All I am asking for is equality under the law. If you commit murder, you go to jail. If you rob a bank, you go to jail. If cause the death of thousands, you should go to jail. If you rob a country, you should go to jail.

“But GP! what if doing these things are part of their jobs?” I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about doing illegal things. If a police officer pulls over a car and the occupant starts shooting and the cop shoots back in self defense, that’s one thing. These cops ambush two women in a truck and shot them up. If you believe someone is a terrorist and plans to kill innocent people, so you gather evidence, go through due process, have a trial, and convict them based on that strong evidence, then you kill them, that’s one thing. If you just decide, with little or no evidence, no due process, no trial, and no transparency that you’re just going to drone strike someone, that’s another.

These police officers should be tried for attempted murder, but they won’t. They should get the same sentence you or I would get if we shot up two people in a truck, but they won’t.  Equality and justice for the powerful and those protected by the powerful are myths. Punishment and consequences are for us peasants.

PS. I never got to the irrelevant reason “why” the police attempted to murder the people in that car. It’s because they’re on a manhunt for an ex-military, ex-cop who’s hunting them down after being fired for fighting, of all things, police violence and corruption.

Children dead, media eager for misery, society’s double standard.

15 Dec

So unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard of the new school shooting that happened in America yesterday morning; this time in an elementary school by yet another deranged individual. Every time there is some horrific tragedy like this the American media collectively orgasm in their pants with excitement. They love it when this type of thing happens and they’re fucking sick human beings for it. They need tragedy, they need grief, fear, and human misery to keep you glued to their “coverage.” Clinical psychiatrists have come out time and time again pleading with the media not to cover these stories because they inevitably inspire copy-cat killers and just fuel the ego of the sick individuals who perpetrate these acts. Does the media care what the clinical psychiatrists say? Fuck no. It’s not about stopping these acts, it’s about ratings. Ratings, and consequently the money the earn from those ratings, is more important that human lives and suffering. Fucked up and disgusting, but that’s the truth. The “news anchors’ these pampered, dolled up husks of human beings will describe to you the misery of others with a twinkle in their soulless eyes.

In the rush to be “first” to cover a heartbreaking story, facts don’t matter. The media named the killer Ryan Lanza when it was his older brother Adam. Not only was Ryan suddenly confronted with the horror that his brother just murdered his mother and a bunch of children, but now he was quite possibly in danger for his life as well. Within minutes  there were multiple Facebook groups condemning Ryan to hell.

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The mindless mob then went on the witch hunt for anything remotely connected with the person wrongly accused of the committing the massacre. For example: Ryan “Liked” the video game series Mass Effect, a series I, myself, am very fond of. Well the public, whipped into a frenzy by the media, started to decry the evils of this video game they knew nothing about. (click to enlarge)

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In a nutshell, Mass Effect is a science fiction roleplaying game about saving the galaxy from a race of alien robots. It has nothing to do with anything remotely connected to a school shooting (but since when have facts mattered?).  Before all the information was available, the governor of Connecticut pleaded with the media not to speculate on the number of dead. Wolf Blitzer, of CNN, reported this and then immediately started to speculate about the rumored death toll, all with a straight face and without skipping a beat. FOX news, not to be outdone, even went so far as to try and interview a child about the trauma she just witnessed, a trauma she’s most likely unable to even comprehend.

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How much you want to bet FOX news got a parental release formed signed by Sofia’s parents so they could interview an 8-year old about her classmates being butchered? The victims are not human beings to these people, they are tragedies to be exploited for profit. It’s fucking sick. While reading over a discussion of the media’s reaction to the shooting on Reddit.com, I came across an insightful comment a user made quoting Robert Ebert (a movie critic) talking about his review of the movie “Elephant.”

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

The main focus of this post is on the tragedy that unfolded yesterday in Connecticut  but I would like to point out something else I find interesting, something that is likely to upset a lot of people in a very particular way. I imagine many will react with ‘now is not the time!”, however it is precisely at times like this that the contrast I’m trying to elucidate is so clear. We have a refined sense of selective outrage in this country. There’s a quote from the Joker in the movie “The Dark Knight” that encapsulates this very succinctly. In this scene the Joker is talking to Harvey Dent about plans, chaos, and society:

You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

Even if the plan is horrifying.

We, as a nation, routinely murder innocent civilians, including children like those murdered yesterday in Connecticut. However, when we murder civilians, we do it with flying drones and laser guided missiles in far away lands. We watch them die on little CCTV monitors and go about our day. 98% of the people we murder are not the people we intended to murder, rather, they are collateral damage. Perhaps I was wrong in saying “children like those murdered yesterday in Connecticut.” There are some glaring differences between the children in Connecticut and the children overseas. The children overseas are of a different skin tone, religion, country, and speak a different language. I guess that’s enough to make their lives not matter. Never mind everything they have in common, most importantly of which is being human.

Amelia, over at Imaginary Playgrounds, has a section in a post that I believe sums up why such selective outrage exists.

Within a sick, violent society, all people are taught violence. We are told to look at those who commit violence as role models, so long as that violence takes place within certain relationships where violence is culturally sanctioned. Violence is socially acceptable when authorized by a legitimized authority, and considered unacceptable when performed outside of an authority’s approval. To give an example, a police officer shooting an unarmed person of color is often overlooked, and when it is brought up, excuses are made, and the blame is placed on the victim. Yet, when a person of color defends themselves against police violence and injures a cop in the process, it is viewed as a heinous, irredeemable act of violence. Violence is socially acceptable when performed in service of dominant social ideologies, and unacceptable when it disrupts or subverts dominant social ideologies. A straight, cis man can kill a trans sex worker and get away with it, often being able to use her trans status as a justification, but when a trans woman of color defends herself against a racist, transphobic attacker, she is charged with murder and sentenced to 3 years in prison.

In this case it’s a man killing a group of school children with a gun versus a man killing a group of school children with a rocket fired from a remote controlled plane. In our society, as long as the violence is directed in a direction we’ve been taught is acceptable, irregardless that the end result of the violence is just as horrifying independent of who’s doing it to whom, we have no problem with said violence. It is only when such a heinous act is committed against a group of people we haven’t sanctioned for suffering and death do we cry foul.

Holy texts condone everything

25 Mar

Have you ever seen some extremely hateful people using religious texts to justify their actions? Have you seen some very loving people using the same religious texts to combat the hateful ones? Well they can’t both be right, right? Well no, actually they’re both correct about what they say their books condone.

Language is dependent on us using the same words to describe the same thing; when everything is open to “interpretation” then anyone can be correct about what a holy books means, even if someone is else is correct about a diametrically opposing view.

So does god hate fags? Yes, yes he does. Does god love everybody (including gays?) Yes, yes he does. It all depends on how to “interperate” the words in the bible. In effect the bible can be used to support whatever view you already have decided upon, and this is why so many people love the bible!

The higher the body count, the less we comprehend.

18 Nov

Tonight I’ve watched “John Rabe” about the Nanking massacre and “Hiroshima”, about the use of the first atomic bomb in war.  No surprise, I’ve been thinking about mass death. I heard there was a study done on how people perceive large numbers of needy, but I can’t for the life of me find it. The study concluded that people’s empathy for a person in need goes down the more people there are. This is easy to see in the media. A lone white college girl is kidnapped on spring break in the Caribbean and everyone is captivated; 400,000 people die in Darfur genocide and people turn to the sports page.

I think psychologically we are unable to grasp horror in large numbers. If you see someone murdered in front of your eyes, that would be traumatic; yet we don’t multiply this feeling by the number of people killed. The comedian Eddie Izzard touches on this:

He’s being comical there, but I really believe he is onto something. I think our brains really do shut down at some point. We simply cannot comprehend large numbers of dead. Even our language fails to convey the horror of what we are describing. At that point those adjectives become numb, ineffective.

Horror. Pure horror. Does that word mean anything? Does it evoke in you the feeling it names? Does it have any impact at all when talking about such levels of mass death? I don’t think language is able to convey the soul destroying evil it attempts to describe. I think you can only see it, and unless you witness it first hand you’ll never fully feel the impact.

A doctor who was on the outskirts of Hiroshima and survived described a sight that has haunted him his entire life: The bomb had just exploded, and he was quickly making his way through the woods to town when about 3 kilometers out he came across this creature. The creature was unlike anything he had ever seen before. Pure black from top to bottom, with grotesque limbs, with something that appeared to be a face, but there were no eyes or mouth, staggering through the woods blindly. When he carefully approached this…thing… he realized that it was not a strange demon, but a man. The fireball had burned his flesh off his body and fused the limbs together. It was chard skeleton walking towards him. The man, what was left of him, died right there in front of the doctor. When the doctor  got to town he saw thousands of these chard husks.

You can listen to what these people saw, and see pictures of the burned bodies, but you can’t fully grasp what it feels like. It is literally incomprehensible.

I’ve heard stories about the allied soldiers who first discovered that Nazi death camps. Many of them were haunted for the rest of their lives. Seeing something like that has to tear the humanity from you. I had a friend who’s grandfather liberated a camp, he said that he could never forget the smell, that it gave him nightmares every night.

Sure you can go to museums, see the pictures, watch films, even visit the camps (I’ve personally been to Dachau), but you can never fully taste the horror.

I remember standing there among the row of prisoner barracks in Dachau. It was a quiet, peaceful place. It was no different from a park, except that everyone was very quiet. Today Hiroshima is a bustling city of one million. The streets are full of people happily going about their day. If you didn’t know your history, you would have no idea that just a few decades ago these sites were places of mass death and suffering. Even with knowing your history it is hard for the gravity of the atrocities to sink in.

Right-wing hate groups on the rise in US

31 Mar

This past week right wing hate groups were brought to the forefront of media attention when 9 members of the christian militia, Hutaree, were arrested and indicted of plotting to kill a Michigan police officer, and then bomb the funeral procession in an attempt to kill as many police officers as possible.

To them the federal government is the embodiment of the anti-christ, any and all government officials the foot-soldiers of the new evil world order. These guys are grade A crazy, but unfortunately they are not alone.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of right-wing “patriot” groups have surged from 149 in 2008, to 512 in 2009, an increase of 244%. (A list of these groups can be found here)

The SPLC is careful to make this distinction about “patriot” groups:

“Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the “New World Order,” engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines. Listing here does not imply that the groups themselves advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities, or are racist.”

I also want to make the distinction that these groups, these militias, are perfectly legal under the 2nd amendment to the constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

So we have some data here. Right wing groups have grown drastically since 2008. The SPLC has also kept track of 73 instances of violent crimes, often including murder, committed by people connected to such right-wing groups since 1995 when Timothy McVeigh slaughtered 168 people in the Oklahoma City Federal building.

What could be the reason for the jump from 2008 to 2009? The SPLC believes that it might be linked to the election of a liberal black man. I’m inclined to agree since they point out that the number of active groups declined during the presidency of conservative George W. Bush; but this is not proof of cause and effect.

Secondly, why right wing hate groups? Where are the left wing hate groups? I did some looking around, and they are much harder to find than right wing hate groups. The nearest I could find was the Weather Underground, but they fell apart after 1973. Some might also claim that organizations like Greenpeace and PETA are left wing hate groups, but I would argue that they are not the same thing. Sure they have members that sometimes commit crimes like vandalism and destruction of property, but we don’t see Greenpeace or PETA creating organization wide plans to murder people that we find in right-wing groups.

I would think that the reason right-wing groups tend to be more violent is because they are often made up of angry white men with extreme religious and political views, whereas left wing groups are made up of angry tree-hugging hippies.

Atheists have killed millions!

23 Mar

One of the most often used attacks against Atheists is to try and associate them with the French revolution and Communism. The “argument” goes something like this:

“The French revolution and Communism were run by Atheists and they killed millions of people! Therefore Atheism is evil and morally bankrupt.”

This claim is ridiculous on so many levels, yet this does not stop people from hurling it at Atheists. So, where many leaders of the French revolution Atheists? Yes. Were some leaders of communism Atheist? Yes. So that’s checkmate for the Atheists right? No.

There is a very important point that people repeatable fail to recognize: Killing is one thing, killing in the name of something else is another.

This is very important because although the French revolution and communism killed a lot of people, they did not do it in the name of Atheism. Religious fanatics on the other hand have been killing people for thousands of years in the name of their religion, because of their religion.

This is not to say that the killing done by the French revolution and communism should be dismissed, but that you’re comparing apples to oranges. People who killed other people and happened to be Atheists vs people who killed other people because of their religion. In fact, this is an extremely slippery slope for religious people to go down. If they want to claim that Atheism is bad because some people who happened to be Atheists committed crimes, then they are completely damning themselves for this simple reason:

There has always been more religious people than Atheists. Because of Atheism’s smaller population, inevitably more people have been killed throughout history by those who happened to be religious. This includes all murders done by religious people for religious AND non-religious motives. Comparatively murders committed by Atheists are fewer in number, and murders done by Atheists for religious reasons fewer still.

“Well, ok, so there are more theists than Atheists, I bet proportionally the numbers are still equal.” Wrong. When you average out the data to see the ratio of murders done by Atheists per population of Atheists to murders done by theists per population of theists, Atheists commit fewer crimes than theists.

No, you can’t kill your children

10 Oct

Two parents just let their 11 year old daughter die of diabetes. The judge gave them 6 months in jail and 10 years probation….. I don’t know about you, but this makes me furious. What did these parents do to help their child? They prayed. Prayed to their non existent god and the child died because instead of getting her medical treatment, they did nothing.

Parents should not be allowed to withhold life saving medical treatment from their children. I don’t care what your religion is, the child is below the age of making rational judgments, and therefore should not be put to death because of the parent’s beliefs. “Oh, but they’re good people!” No! They are not! They murdered their daughter in the name of cave man myths!

This girl had her entire life before her, she had so much potential, but all that will never be realized because her parents made the decision to let her die rather than go to a hospital where doctors could have saved her life. And the girl had no choice in this….