Cops and Protests and People, Oh My.

   When I was growing up, we didn’t necessarily expect law enforcement to be happy with all the hell we raised. Technically, TPing someone’s house or tipping over their outhouse was vandalism but no one would have expected or condoned an officer pulling his gun under such circumstances. Putting a condom on the tailpipe of the cop’s car or plugging it with a potato were frowned upon by the victims, laughed at by the kids and smiled tolerantly at by most grownups, including the cops (once their blood pressure got back to normal).

   It was common for us kids to stay out well after dark, often ‘camping out’ on someone’s lawn for all-night bull-sessions. We sometimes raided a garden – our own or others’ – for spuds and veggies to roast in a campfire. One gent in the neighborhood tried to grow corn: at 7700+ elevation & a 3-month growing season it got about 31/2 feet tall and the cob about 3 inches. Nevertheless, he was extremely proud and possessive of it. When a couple of us grabbed a few of the mini-cobs, he discovered us and let loose with a shotgun. Fortunately, we were too far away for buckshot to be very effective. But we were justifiably offended at his over-reaction.

   Word got out (it’s hard to explain away gunshots in a small town) and the sheriff rounded us up next day and scolded us. We both realized he was obligated to do so, but neither he nor we took it too seriously. However, he also paid the gardener a visit and told him that if he ever shot at kids again, he’d be locked up.

   Today the gardener would have an AR15 and someone might be dead – and he would be applauded for ‘standing his ground’. Today’s cop would deal with us heavy-handedly – maybe tasers for white kids and 9mm for the hispanics.

   I and most of my generation who grew up outside the ‘big city’ used guns with some frequency, in my case regularly after age seven. We also played ‘cowboys-and-indians’ or ‘cops-and-robbers’ as soon as we learned to point a finger and say “Pow! Gotcha!” (and argue “Gotcha first!”). Today, guns are not recognized as simply a tool – they have significance beyond that of a pair of pliers or a hammer.
Kinda gives new new meaning to the term ‘Power Tool’.

   There are those who blame the violence of video games or TV/movies – and they have a point, albeit a misunderstood and rather shallow understanding. People are not being desensitized by video games and media violence per se. What is being lost is a connection to the real world in broader terms. People grow up in an environment where the link between the milk on their cereal and a cow; between their McNuggets and a live bird; their iPhone and the slave-labor it takes to produce it – all the connectivity has no reality in their mind. They know it in theory but not in fact.

   Part of our environment consists of people and the the reality of our fellow humans is just as distorted and misrepresented as the rest of reality. X is black instead of ‘a kid’; Y is Mexican instead of a neighbor. When the presentations of the world have become the message, is it any wonder we do not see others as people unless they are part or our own particular narrowly-defined personal world? It’s me-and-mine versus Everyone/Everything else – and it’s the media which defines the nature of the Not-Me. And it does so for marketing reasons – the resulting disconnect is just an unfortunate side effect. It’s an unintended consequence but one which has been capitalized on politically. If Madison Avenue can sell soap, why not a presidency? And the mechanism is the same – sever peoples’ connection to reality and they will accept whatever you tell them is real.
The motto of Faux Noose.

   I sometimes play an online game which involves avoiding or killing insects. Sometimes when I have completed a screen and could go to the next screen, I deliberately go about gratuitously killing the insects when I don’t really need to. Does this bespeak some submerged homicidal urges on my part? Perhaps – but the difference is that I’m zapping virtual objects with a keyboard and I recognize it’s different from being armed to the teeth, killing real, helpless people.

Pointy-finger-pistols are a threat.
Pictures are a threat.
Pictures of pointy-finger-pistols are a threat.
Everything is a threat.

   Hey – what’s not to like?
It sells military hardware, makes the rich richer, keeps the politicians getting elected, distracts the hoi polloi and leaves them scared into control (or dead) and definitely not functioning in the real world where they might contest for power.

   I suspect a lot of the protests in this country today are pointless because they are targeting a ‘virtual reality’ over which a ‘victory’ will be meaningless. The bread and circuses of the 21s century.
The last group of protesters who picked the right targets were the Wobblies, and we all know how that turned out.

4 Replies to “Cops and Protests and People, Oh My.”

  1. Thoughtful and appropriate reflective piece by Steeleweed. The incidents of, say, the last year involving police violence toward people of color (or not) might not number more than a few hundred. One would be too many if unjustified. But there are tens of thousands of law enforcement personnel and 312 million ‘merikins. Right now, the display & use of robo-cop armor and U.S. Army equipment is something out of Blade Runner & it could get out-of-hand. Maybe “they” want the cops to be ready for Baghdad and Kabul-like attacks on U.S. streets. In that case, the police are just practicing and most ‘merikins will be grateful to have cops up-armored against a terrorist cell that picks, say, Des Moines as an appropriate spot for an incident. You doubt that? Remember how within 48 hours of 9/11, George Bush for whom a majority of citizenry were expressing buyer’s remorse (in summer of 2001 polls), managed to up his popularity to 92% for his rubble-heap speech next to the NYC Fire Department chief. Intelligent people (the remaining 8% ?) thought: “handle it as a police action” not another damned “war”, for chrissakes. How did that display of America’s vengeful mightiness turn out?

    It hurts to read Steeleweed’s reverie because it is so true; so precisely an evolution that even though examples such as Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and the Cleveland 12-year-old may not be vast, they are signs of over-reaction that point out how far away are common sense scenes from our youthful indiscretions and what passes for civility today. Or, rather, the lack of it. I grew up in Lindenhurst, Long Island age 6-to-14, and then Jamaica, New York age 14-16, and like Steeleweed, there were a few encounters that stopped sort of juvenile detention, but in 2014 would likely have been a recipe for escalation. The whole idea of excessive force witnessed over the past few years and which has ramped up in the last several months tragedies has a ring to it that is ominous. All it would take would be a Reagan (stomping on the U.C. Berkeley free-speechers) or a Daly (as in 1968) or Kent State in 1970. Yes, our economic “recovery” from the 2008-09 financial crisis had better pick up some speed and get the ‘merikin consumer back on their merry way of self-gratification and self-occupation and tone down the reactionary emotions because the emperor is indeed naked but his armament is all neatly laid-out on the table ready to rock ‘n roll.

  2. People grow up in an environment where the link between the milk on their cereal and a cow; between their McNuggets and a live bird; their iPhone and the slave-labor it takes to produce it

    Was ever thus in London. And is not a cause or a symptom.

    The US is just flat out racist. I’ve lived in 8 counties and visited about 50, including over 25 years in Africa, including South Africa under apartheid.

    The US is worse. It has institutionalized racism to its core.

    What do you believe the H1 visas are about? Cheap brown skilled labor or a shortage of Tech skills (when there’s an unemployment problem)?

  3. We must be very close to the same age. I grew up out on Long Island; free as a bird.
    Paradise lost and concur with your closing paragraph.

    1. We grew up in a real world. Yes, there was bullshit – particularly political and advertising – but everyone recognized it as BS and didn’t take it seriously. Now many people have no way to judge. They live in the Matrix.

      My guess is that when it Hits The Fan, the illusions can no longer be maintained no matter what MSM does. The emperor’s nakedness will be indisputable and reality will come as quite a shock to a lot of people.

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