Tag Archives: privilege

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.

Christian Privilege

4 Feb

First let me define privilege.

Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf. (Source)

This is usually (and rightly so) used when talking about Male Privilege or White Privilege.  These types of privilege are everywhere, but most evident in the media. My white male readers, stop and think about how many movie/books/video games are told either through the perspective of white male like yourself, or made with you in mind as the target audience? For many things in life, white male is the default.

I would like to argue that there is another type of privilege, at least in the United States; Christian Privilege.

America is an extremely religious country. 78.5% of the country alone is Christian. (source)  (The country’s constitution is secular, it’s people are not) Christian is the default. This is most evident at Christmas, the old pagan holiday adopted by early Christians and lately turned into a shopping orgy by corporations. Christmas Christmas Christmas! It’s EVERYWHERE! Everyone says “Merry Christmas!” as if everyone celebrated it. Nobody goes around on other holy days of the year saying “Merry _____”, just Christmas, because everyone assumes everyone else is Christian.

It’s common to just ask people if they go to church, assuming they’re Christian. Church is the norm. Our government starts meetings of congress with an opening prayer. The White House puts up a Christmas tree every year. People want to put religious monuments on public property. (What’s the problem? Everybody’s Christian right?) Anti-government tea-party conservatives want to force Christian music on children in California. The Christian god is on our money, in our pledge! Bibles are put in every hotel room and doctor’s office! Walk into a grocery store or Walmart, all the “Choice books” displayed are Christian books!

Atheists can’t get elected to office in this country. (One was, but he came out afterwards) 7 states have specific legislation banning Atheists from holding office. Political candidates where their religion like it’s a ticket to an exclusive event, or a flag. They always have to go on and on about their religious credentials. (If they don’t they won’t get elected) The US military is very Christian. Fundamentalists have been proselytizing for ages in the military. Just recently they were forced to remove bible inscriptions from sniper scopes being used to shoot Muslims in Iraq. Christian ministers are always the president’s “spiritual adviser”, they also give opening prayers at elections.

There are at least 335,000 churches in America. America is 3.79 Million square miles. That’s about 1 church every 11 square miles. (And this doesn’t count newly opening churches)

All these facts make Christians feel they are normal, and anyone who is not a Christian is not normal. I remember when I was a Christian I didn’t even learn that there was such a thing as “not Christian” until 5th grade. Even then I was only dimly aware of Jews and Muslims, but that was it. There was the Christian god and nothing else. Everybody knew that. I remember reading about Atheists in the news in highschool and thinking “Those people don’t believe in god? What the? How can you NOT believe in god!?!? Everybody knows there’s a god. They’re just crazy and luckily small in number…” For the longest time, I cringed when people said “I’m not Christian.” That was like the worst thing you could say. It shocked me when my college professor came out and said it. “That’s awful, you should keep it to yourself” I thought in my head.

Now that I’m one of those “crazy and few in number” people, I feel distinctly not normal. When you’re not a believer in an extremely religious country, you start to feel like it isn’t your country, like you’re a second class citizen. I put signs in my car window to try and remind Christians that they’re not the only ones here, but Christian Privilege is just so massive I don’t know how to fight it. Women have feminism to fight male privilege. Blacks have the NAACP to fight white privilege, what about Atheists? Trying to get us to work together is like herding cats. We have nothing in common except a lack of a belief in magical beings.