Depending upon your political bent, you either saw justice served or justice denied tonight when the St. Louis County Grand Jury returned their no-bill tonight. You’d like to think it’s more complicated than that, but really, sadly, it isn’t. The RWNJ© are all calling Mike Brown a thug and a rabid animal. The Libtards© are all screaming about lawless lawmen. Who’s right? Who knows, we will never know for sure what happened on that street corner. Well…we DO know that an unarmed young black man was shot by a white police officer. Again. We DO know that police officer fired twelve shots. Beyond that, eyewitness testimony is conflicting, as eyewitnesses are wont to do.

Yes, Mike Brown was walking down the middle of the street after having committed a crime (caught on tape) when confronted by Officer Wilson. Does that mean that he deserved to be shot to death? Not according to the laws of our land. It is an oft-quoted statement that a good attorney can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if they really want to. But apparently they can’t get an indictment on a cop. There are laws that protect the work that cops do. These are necessary laws. It’s ugly work that they do. I don’t think I could do it, could you? However, that does not mean that peace officers should be above the law. In listening to DA Robert P. McCulloch, describe the evidence, one is struck by how all of those contradictory statements were only on the side of those people who thought Officer Wilson should be indicted. Seemingly all those who felt he acted in a justified manner were in lockstep. Odd that, isn’t it? McCulloch abdicated his duties by not presenting the case, but rather doing a data dump and letting the twelve citizens figure it out. We need to stop right now and write laws, at the federal level if need be, that state that anytime a police officer shoots a citizen there will be a jury trial. With a judge. And Prosecuting Attorneys who are trying to prosecute a crime and Defense Attorneys who are trying to defend their client. No more DAs who just dump and tell a grand jury to sift. Don’t like that idea? Too expensive? Fine. Put body cameras on every single police officer every single time they step out of the station house. If the NSA can watch what the citizens are doing, then the citizens have the right to watch what are police are doing.

Funny title that, “Peace Officers.” How many of them are really committed to keeping the peace? Well, I’d say a lot of them, otherwise our streets would run with blood. And it would be the kind of blood that some people would actually care about. You know,white blood. There is no denying that crime is endemic in the inner cities. The system is set up that way. Youth (of all colors) are warehoused in “schools” until they are old enough to leave, and then what? Even if they stay long enough to graduate, the “education” they receive is for shit. There are no jobs for which they are prepared that pay more than minimum wage. There is no family that can survive on minimum wage. One in three black men in this country will end up doing time in the pen. Are you seriously going to tell me that means that a third of all black men are criminals?This is the system we set up in 1619 when the first black slaves stepped off the boat in Virginia. It’s the system that we set up in 1877, when we, as a country, threw up our hands and decided to let the losers of the Civil War win Reconstruction. It’s the system that we set up in 1896 with Plessy v Ferguson. It’s the system that we DIDN’T fix in 1954. Or 1964. Or 1968. It’s the system that we gave up on trying to fix after 1968. We have allowed those who shout hatred to win. We have allowed those who would destroy this country to preserve white supremacy to win. Again.

What is it that the NRA and overcompensating gun-owners like to say? When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns? That would be your police forces, Fellow Americans©. Welcome to Amerikka.

Moving Violations

I had an unusual experience on the road recently. Was driving along minding my own, when a large SUV flew out of a parking lot and cut me off, causing me to slam on my brakes, etc. Sadly, this is not the unusual part. As the SUV turned into the lane, they had to slam on THEIR brakes as there was a truck stopped in the lane to turn left. Not in the turn lane mind you, but the lane lane. Again, not the unusual part. The SUV driver, of course, availed themself of their horn. Once all was clear, we got to the next intersection, which has two left turn lanes, which allowed me to pull alongside the SUV. Rather than pull all the way forward, I stopped to express my displeasure with the driver. Again, sadly not unusual. I did not use hand gestures (ok, that IS unusual, but not my point), but simply mouthed the now-ubiquitous “REALLY?!?” Get this. The driver rolled down their window. And APOLOGIZED. No. Seriously. It happened. She made some gesticulations which translated that she was late getting back to work from her lunch and…APOLOGIZED again. I made gestures indicating acceptance of the apology and then…WE. BOTH. MOVED. ON. Crazy, huh?!?

There’s a lot to be said for an apology. If sincere, and I do believe the other driver was sincere, as was my acceptance, it does a lot to diffuse a situation. It also allows for that moving on process. Something that no one in Washington seems willing to do. Of course, it’s not just Washington, better scribes than I have described the me-first-gimme-gimmes in which an entire society is now entrenched. In the immortal words of Louise Sawyer, “you get what you settle for.” The chicanery in Washington is no more and no less than a reflection of the people who produce it. Uneducated voters produce uncouth representatives. And just to be clear, by uneducated, I mean about the candidates and the issues, not unschooled. Most voters FEEL so rushed that they will vote for the loudest ad or, worse yet, straight party line. I say FEEL rather than ARE, because it’s just that. We all still get twenty-four hours in each and everyday, but our choices in how we spend that time impose (sometimes) great restrictions.

This rushing has helped to create a society in which everyone feels that their time is more valuable than anyone else’s. We’ve all seen the results: whether it’s the person who cuts you off in traffic or the one who cuts in front of a long line with “I just have a question,” as though that is not the reason everyone else is in line. I’m not sure, but I almost feel as this may be some kind of competitive impulse. It seemed to arise around the same time that NASCAR became more than just a pastime for under-toothed, over-sauced rural enthusiasts. I’m not ready just yet, however, to blame Jeff Gordon for the downfall of American society as we know it. Kyle Busch, perhaps, but that’s another story…

So, regardless of how we got here, the question remains: how do we get back to civility? How do we culturally get back to a situation in which a heartfelt apology is a sign of strength, rather than weakness? Our friends from the East might have something to say about this (no, not NYC, THE East). There is a lot to be said for slowing down and living in the moment. Such as when one does receive an apology, don’t blow it off with a flippant “no problem” or worse yet, “whatevs”. Take the time to listen to the apology and actually accept it sincerely. In simplest terms, that’s called positive reinforcement. If we start sincerely accepting the apologies given, and actually allow the healing of egos that comes along with that acceptance, we may start to see more apologies. If one takes the time and effort to sincerely apologize, they become more mindful of their actions. One who is more mindful of their actions, is less likely to do something for which they need to apologize.

So try it. If someone gets mad at you for something you did, apologize. And mean it. See where that gets you. Perhaps it will get you to a conversation in which anger is diffused and true communication can occur. Something not possible with a middle finger or four letter words, no matter how good that might feel at the time…

“We are all human. God created us from one dirt. Why can we not marry each other, or love each other?”

HALIMA MOHAMMEDI, an Afghan teenager whose love for another teenager, Rafi Mohammed, set off a riot by flouting their village’s tradition of arranged marriages.

“What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them.”

KHER MOHAMMED, her father.

From The New York Times, Sunday, 31 July 2011

Family Ties