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Cops’ first robo-killing is probably the scariest part of a week full of horrors

Corrected below (on Monday, July 11, 2016)

Last night in Dallas, Texas, cops for the first time ever used a robot to kill a perp on American soil, actually claiming that it was the only way. If we let this horrific abuse of police power pass, do we civilians not face routine robo-killings by the thugs of the state in the future? (Above is pictured one of the cops’ killing machines from the original movie “Robocop.”)

What a spectacularly fucked-up week it was, just after the Independence Day holiday on Monday, ironically.

The shooting deaths on Tuesday and on Wednesday of 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and 32-year-old Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minnesota, both of them black men, by white cops sure looked unnecessary.

It’s true that we don’t have every piece of information, and nor do we have full video footage of everything from beginning to end — the Sterling videos that I have seen start just before he is shot to death in a parking lot, and the Castile video starts after he already has been shot in a car (and is dying) — and the officers involved in the shootings deserve to be tried in real courts of law, not in the court of public opinion (which these days is held largely if not mostly on the Internet), but from what we know thus far, the shootings sure appear to have been wholly unnecessary.

My best guess is that these were spooked, adrenalized cops who were too trigger-happy, and, in a society in which black men’s lives are at the bottom of the pecking order where the value of human life is concerned, these cops just weren’t very concerned about not shooting first and asking questions later.

Then came the shooting deaths of five cops last night in Dallas (not far from where JFK was assassinated) by an-as-far-as-we-know-right-now militarily trained lone wolf, 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a black man of the Dallas area who reportedly had claimed that he especially wanted to kill white cops for the wrongful killings of black men by white cops.

On NPR today I heard the head of the nation’s largest cops’ union embarrass himself by stating that the shootings of cops because they are cops need to be treated as hate crimes. 

He further embarrassed himself by actually stating that just as we shouldn’t hate others because of the color of their skin, we shouldn’t hate anyone because of the color of his or her uniform (yes, he actually used those incredibly corny words). He asserted this as though the problem that so many of us have had with our cops actually were the color of their uniforms, or, OK, the fact in and of itself that they are cops — and not, oh, say, their rampant abuse of power and deadly force, such as by blowing away unarmed or otherwise non-threatening black men and by otherwise abusing their power against people of color and other vulnerable minorities.

The cops have had a long history of abusing their power in the United States of America. Many of them have been little more than state-sanctioned thugs, and let’s face it: The cops’ main job is to maintain the socioeconomic status quo, a status quo that isn’t about liberty and justice for all.

That said, don’t get me wrong; I don’t advocate the killing of one member of a group because you’re pissed off at another member of that group, be that group a racial group, a religious group, an occupational group, or any other group of people. I believe that we must deal with individuals, and not with entire groups of people. Micah Johnson’s “logic” that because two white cops in Louisiana and in Minnesota apparently unnecessarily killed — maybe murdered (well, maybe it was manslaughter; it’s all in the intent) — two black men, he should kill cops (especially white cops) in Texas speaks for itself.

And let’s be clear in our thinking and in our words: Blacks didn’t kill those cops in Dallas; one apparently mentally ill, or at the very least seriously unhinged, young black man did. (I don’t assert that Johnson had no legitimate grievances, but murdering random cops because they’re cops isn’t OK.) And all (white) cops did not kill Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (and way too many others); specific (white) cops killed them.

The problem is when we hold an entire group of people guilty for the acts of a relative few. It’s a mistake that often has deadly consequences and that can spiral into something like a civil war.

On the issue of hate crimes, I don’t argue that Micah Johnson didn’t hate cops; he very apparently did. (Again, I don’t argue that he had no grounds for his hatred; I only point out that he apparently had that hatred.)

But let’s be crystal fucking clear on what a hate crime is. Wikipedia defines a hate crime thusly:

A hate crime … is a prejudice-motivated crime, often violent, which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership (or perceived membership) in a certain social group.

Examples of such groups can include but are not limited to: sex, ethnicity, disability, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation. …

“Hate crime” generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against one or more of the types above, or of their derivatives. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, … or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).

Cops aren’t listed among the groups that so often are targeted in hate crimes, and implied but not explicitly spelled out in Wikipedia’s entry on hate crimes is the power differential that we have seen in the vast majority of hate crimes committed in the United States of America.

Whites who have committed hate crimes against blacks, for example, usually have far outnumbered blacks; ditto for “Christians” who have far outnumbered Jews and Muslims; heterosexuals and gender-conforming individuals who have far outnumbered non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals; etc. With the vast majority of hate crimes, it’s the relatively powerful who are targeting the less powerful to even the relatively powerless.

One thing that we can’t say about cops is that they are relatively powerless compared to the general population. Um, they are not. Sure, we commoners far outnumber the cops, but most of us commoners don’t have their arsenals or their training — or their being backed up by the U.S. military if they need such backup. (All of this is made possible with our own tax dollars, but that’s another blog piece.) And, of course, the cops often if not usually have the full cover of the “justice” system should they ever actually be held to account in a court of law. And, of course, they know this fact even before they unnecessarily shoot someone to death, carelessly (manslaughter) or even intentionally (murder).

Therefore, call what Micah Johnson did last night in Dallas an act of terrorism — the use of fear and/or violence to try to achieve a political objective — but let’s not fucking call it a hate crime and by so doing shit and piss on all actual victims of actual hate crimes, past, present and future.

Let’s not buy the cops’ union thugs’ bullshit rhetoric that cops (as a group) now are the poor victims when American history is filled with incidents of cops’ thuggery against the populace, usually the relatively powerless.

Clearly, having had the first black man in the Oval Office hasn’t magically solved our problems. We, the people, have much work to do, primary among which is to devise non-lethal ways of neutralizing individuals whom cops deem need to be neutralized. It’s unfuckingacceptable that shooting someone in the year 2016 still is seen as an acceptable way of neutralizing him or her.

With the technology that we have, we should have solved this problem years ago.

On that note, we, the people, also must NOT allow state-sanctioned killing by robot to become the norm.

The cops in Dallas last night killed Micah Johnson by affixing a bomb to a robot, directing the robot to Johnson’s vicinity, and then detonating the bomb. It was the first time that cops anywhere on U.S. soil used a robot to kill someone.*

What the fucking fuck?

A robot that can deliver a bomb can’t deliver a tranquilizer dart or a knock-out gas? Really? Blowing Micah Johnson up via R2-D2 was the cops’ only option?

No, the cops blew Johnson up because he’d killed cops, and they wanted their instant revenge on him. The actual justice (well, “justice”) system might have allowed him to live, so they, the cops, had to be the prosecutors, judges, juries and executioners, you see.

And by so doing, the cops only further demonstrated last night that they have become a serious problem that we, the people, need to solve — lest the cops’ killer robots come for us next.

Correction (Monday, July 11, 2016): My bad: Apparently the cop who shot Philando Castile to death is Mexican American, not white. (In the viral video, only the cop’s forearms are visible, and he is light-skinned, so I’d thought that he was white.)

This is a rather ironic photo of the cop:

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6, 2016, is shown taking part in the Standing of the Memorial Guard event during Law Enforcement Memorial Day and National Peace Officer's Day at the Minnesota Capitol in May 2014. (Courtesy of city of Falcon Heights)

(No, it’s not a Photoshop job. It was taken two years ago and it’s from here.)

The cop, named Jeronimo Yanez, has claimed, via his attorney, “This had nothing to do with race. This had everything to do with the presence of a gun.” (Of course, it’s not like any cop actually would admit it if his [or her] shooting death of someone had been racially motivated…)

Our society’s racial pecking order is fairly ingrained, it seems to me, and we can internalize and act out that pecking order unconsciously, methinks.

I just can’t imagine Philando Castile having been shot to death as he was had he been white (or perhaps Asian or Latino).

*NPR quotes a subject-matter expert as saying that bombs/explosive devices affixed to robotic devices have been used by the U.S. military in Iraq, but that last night’s was the first such use here on American soil.

Indeed, our police are becoming more and more militarized, and we, the people, fail to put a stop to this anti-constitutional bullshit at our own peril.

I vehemently oppose the use of armed/weaponized robots or drones to kill civilians on American soil — and their use in all other nations should be prohibited as well.

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It’s another summer of race-relations hell, but I believe it is getting better

In this undated photo provided by the Bland family, Sandra Bland poses for a photo. The family of Bland, who was found dead in her Texas jail cell, assert that she would not have taken her own life, but authorities are pointing to mounting evidence that they say shows she hanged herself. (Courtesy of Bland family)

Associated Press image

Sandra Bland (shown in a family photo above) very apparently died for having driven while black in Texas. That conclusion is fairly inescapable. That said, Dear Black People: Hulk Hogan (like Donald Sterling and Paula Deen) is not The Spokesperson for White People. Just putting that out there. (Hogan is photographed below with his daughter, whose relationship with a black man induced him to use “the ‘n-’ word” repeatedly eight years ago on, um, a sex tape…)

Brooke Hogan Defends Dad Hulk with a Poem

Maybe I have a short memory — maybe this comes up every summer, when we have hot temperatures and hot tempers — but this summer seems to be a repeat of last summer, in which race relations were at the fore.

I’m not saying that race relations shouldn’t be discussed nationally — clearly, we in the United States of America have many unresolved, ongoing issues and problems surrounding race (and many other things) that we have to solve, as they won’t simply go away by themselves, as much as we might wish that they would — but at the same time, it seems to me that so many people benefit from the continued interracial strife that they have no real interest in resolution.

White supremacists and black supremacists, for instance, derive their senses of identity, meaning and purpose from continued interracial conflict. I don’t expect them to hold hands for a rousing round of “Kumbaya” any time soon. And, of course, as I’ve noted, race relations aren’t only binary, aren’t only black and white or black vs. white or vice-versa; we see from Donald Trump’s brand of politics that attacking Latinos can pay off politically within the right wing, just as attacking Jews paid off politically in right-wing Nazi Germany.

And, of course, race-based reportage does quite well in the media, and the media corporations that profit from it know that fully well.

This is not to downplay or minimize very real injustices, such as the fate of 28-year-old Sandra Bland. I agree with Matt Taibbi’s assessment that however Sandra Bland died while captive in a Texas jail earlier this month, because she very apparently was pulled over in the first place primarily or only because of racial profiling — and therefore apparently was subjected to race-based harassment by the law-enforcement officer who pulled her over — the Texas law-enforcement and criminal/“criminal” justice/“justice” system officials were responsible for everything that happened to her afterward.

When I say “responsible” I mean morally, ethically and karmically responsible, of course; unless it can be proved conclusively that Bland did not die by self-strangulation, of course no one in Texas will be charged with murder, despite the headline of Taibbi’s piece that proclaims that “Sandra Bland Was Murdered.”

Personally, were a law-enforcement officer to stop me, whether I were on foot or in a car or on a bicycle or whatever, and/or give me any directive and/or request that was not blatantly unreasonable, I probably would comply with his or her order or request. I probably would not argue with him or her. An illegal stop or arrest usually can be sorted out later. The time and place of the stop or arrest probably is not the time and place at which the legality or illegality of it is going to be officially, legally established.

That said, Taibbi notes that “Law-and-order types like to lecture black America about how it can avoid getting killed by ‘respecting authority’ and treating arresting cops like dangerous dogs or [swarms of] bees.” 

I don’t want to come off as one of those kinds of white people, and I do view — for years now I have viewed — the primary role of law-enforcement officers and the criminal/“criminal” justice/“justice” system not as maintaining public safety, the safety of us commoners, but as maintaining the socioeconomic status quo; the taxes of we, the people, fund the cops and the court system, but they function primarily not for our benefit, but primarily to keep the rich — a disproportionate number of them right-wing white people — firmly in power.

And true, of course we shouldn’t have to regard our cops like dangerous animals that might go off on us at any moment, but when the reality, at least for the time being, is that often we do, the safest thing to do then is to regard them as such, it seems to me. You might call that cowardice or caving; I consider it to be survival. You will be less able to celebrate your victory of being right and the cop being wrong when you are in a hospital bed, and you won’t be able to celebrate your victory at all if you’re dead.

The mouthiest that I got with a law-enforcement officer that I can remember is when I was at a pro-labor-union protest at the California state Capitol in late February 2011 and the state police (officers of the California Highway Patrol, especially one of them) were enforcing supposed rules, regulations and ordinances on those of us of the pro-labor crowd while they allowed the anti-labor “tea-party” traitors who were there only to heckle and try to provoke us from across the street to do the same things that we were doing, with complete impunity. I pointed this out to Officer Friendly (and reported his actions later to the CHP).

My sense of that situation is that cops, most of them being right-wing themselves, tend to crack down much harder on left-leaning groups of people than on right-wing groups of people, since they usually agree with the latter.

However, on that day in February 2011 there were many people around, and many if not even most had their “smart”phone or other video-recording devices out, so it’s not like this cop was going to do anything to me for simply having complained to him about his and his cohorts’ unfair treatment.

What happened in the Sandra Bland case, from what I can tell, was that two stubborn people clashed, which often is a recipe for disaster. Sandra Bland probably felt that she had been racially profiled because she probably had been. I’m guessing that her mindset was that she wasn’t going to take it. The cop, conversely, wanted her complete compliance with his commands, which he did not get. Again: It was a recipe for disaster.

While the cop had the right to ask her to step out of her vehicle — the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that it is not a violation of one’s constitutional rights (in and of itself) to be told to get out of a vehicle when stopped by a law-enforcement officer — whether or not the cop who stopped Bland had the right to ask her to put out her cigarette is much grayer.

One retired law-enforcement official interviewed by the Los Angeles Times stated, “No one, including a police officer, wants to get a burning cigarette jammed into their face or eye; it’s basic procedure. The officer asked politely if she would mind putting out her cigarette. The violator then raised her voice, actively resisted multiple lawful directions to get out of the car. The officer requested a backup officer to respond. The officer raised his voice several times in what turned out to be a futile effort to overcome that resistance.” (Consider the source of that loaded quote, of course.)

Why, exactly, the cop asked Bland to put out her cigarette I’m not sure. While a still-burning cigarette could be used as a weapon, it seems to me that most likely the cop just wanted to abuse his authority and control, and perhaps to test his control over Bland.

Of course, he might be someone who is bothered significantly by cigarette smoke that is close by; I am one of those people, and I hate it when people smoke in public and I have to deal with their smoke.

But while Bland was non-compliant, the cop, who, because he had a lot more power in the interaction than did Bland (he had not only a lethal weapon but also the full force of the Texas “justice” system, which he knew always is going to give him the benefit of any doubt, behind him), had that much more responsibility than did Bland to keep the interaction from escalating.

Yet the cop threatened to “light” Bland “up” with his Taser — Tasers are supposed to be used defensively, not threatened to be used as a bargaining chip, as far as I understand — and when Bland, who at this point had been grabbed by the cop by the wrist, proclaimed that she had epilepsy, the cop replied, “Good.”

Only because there was video and audio of this did the cop’s Texan superiors Orwellianly understate that the cop had violated the department’s “courtesy policy.” Otherwise, the cop probably would have lied about the entire interaction (including how wholly professional and polite he had been), and his lies would have been taken as gospel.

As I do, another police expert who was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times correctly puts the onus on the cop:

Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor and former Florida police officer, said Enicinia [the cop’s name is Brian T. Encinia; he is Latino] missed several opportunities to deescalate tension and should have explained in calmer tones what he was doing and why.

“He certainly has the legal authority to get her to step out of the car,” Stoughton said. “But in this case, if he is exercising his authority because she defying his direction to put out the cigarette, then that is more based on his ego than public safety…. Just because it is legal to order her out of the car doesn’t make it a professional approach in modern policing.

“This is a systemic problem with policing,” Stoughton said. “There is emphasis on compliance over cooperation.”

There are no laws that require an officer to order alleged violators to extinguish a cigarette in their car during a traffic stop, he said.

“It was a request, not an order,” he said. “If a person was out of the car, then an officer could determine it poses a safety threat and order it be put out. But it is hard to argue that inside the car.”

Again, Encinia might have a hard time breathing around cigarette smoke, as I do, but again, he had significantly more responsibility than did Bland to prevent the interaction from spinning out of control, but he fairly clearly had little to no interest in doing that, and perhaps he even wanted an ego-boosting fight with her. (I don’t know, since I wasn’t there, and since even if I had been there, I’m pretty intuitive but I am not telepathic.)

In a nutshell, I suspect that being a black woman with, presumably, an Illinois license plate on her car, Bland was profiled as being a certain type of individual who is not welcome in the deep-red state of Texas and therefore was pulled over — and had that not happened, she very most likely still would be alive.

While what happened to Bland (if she indeed did take her own life) does not match the legal definition of murder, of course, it is difficult to impossible for me not to conclude that she was killed by systemic injustice. She was, in effect, killed for being black (and perhaps also for being from out of state, and from a blue state) in Texas. She was killed by the actions and the inaction of many, many people. And of course black lives matter.

And then there is Hulk Hogan, who this past week was in the news, Donald-Sterling style, for having been recorded repeatedly using the word “nigger” in a sex tape that was made eight years ago and later was leaked. (Apparently Hogan was not pleased that his daughter was in a relationship with a black man. [Donald Sterling, recall, similarly didn’t like his girl-toy associating with black men.])

“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise,” the Hulkster has proclaimed.

That’s not very credible. It’s not absolutely impossible that Hogan truly has had a change of heart in the past eight years, but as most people develop their belief systems early in life and tend to keep them intact until death, it seems quite unlikely.

That said, Hogan is 61 years old and was born in Georgia and raised in Florida. (His fellow racist Paula Deen is 68 years old and also was born in Georgia, where she has remained.

Let’s please not presume that all (or even most) white people routinely throw around the word “nigger” in private. White racism (as is all racism) is largely a function of one’s age and one’s upbringing, including the region where he or she was raised and the region where he or she has been living for a while now (and how much racism has been prevalent and how much it has been tolerated — or even encouraged — in that region).

Donald Sterling is 81 years old; he was born in Chicago but apparently has lived in the Los Angeles area for the vast majority of his life. I chalk up his racism more as a function of his age than of his geography.

Socioeconomics, including one’s highest level of education and one’s income, also affect one’s level of racism, regardless of his or her race.

The likes of Hulk Hogan, Donald Sterling and Paula Deen are not spokespeople for the entire white race.

Thankfully, younger whites tend to be significantly less racist than older whites — as with homophobia, racism’s eradication probably depends mostly upon older people finally kicking off and taking their bigotry with them to their graves and urns — and again, with racism there are regional differences. There is no region of the U.S. that is entirely free of racism, of course, but some regions inarguably are much worse with racism than are others. (Fuck, I’m a white [albeit gay] guy and truly I would be afraid to drive through Texas. Perhaps especially with California plates.)

And where lovely white people like Donald Sterling and Hulk Hogan are concerned, I do have a problem with violations of privacy, which would include being recorded secretly or having one’s consensual recording (such as a sex tape) taken from his or her possession and then leaked to others.

All of us have a constitutional right to privacy, whether we’re racist or not. Yes, that constitutional right to privacy would include being able to say even the vilest things within the privacy of our own fucking homes, much how the constitutional right to free speech enables us to say even the vilest things. It is at our own peril that we allow the constitutional right to privacy to fall to the wayside by not defending others when their right to privacy is violated. Defending their right to privacy is not the same thing as agreeing with their words.

And I don’t believe for a nanosecond that non-whites, in private, never make any racist or negative, race-based comments about members of other races or similar comments that they wouldn’t want leaked to the public. Again, all of us have the constitutional right to privacy, and it’s quite easy for us to be hypocrites and burn the likes of Donald Sterling and Hulk Hogan at the stake when we certainly wouldn’t want certain utterances of our own to be secretly recorded and publicized (or to be recorded for our own use but then publicized against our wishes).

Finally, it can come as no surprise that, the New York Times reports, Americans right now hold a dim view of race relations. The Times reported this past week:

Seven years ago, in the gauzy afterglow of a stirring election night in Chicago, commentators dared ask whether the United States had finally begun to heal its divisions over race and atone for the original sin of slavery by electing its first black president. It has not. Not even close.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President [Barack] Obama took office said they believed that race relations were generally good.

The swings in attitude have been particularly striking among African-Americans. During Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, nearly 60 percent of blacks said race relations were generally bad, but that number was cut in half shortly after he won. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.

Only a fifth of those surveyed said they thought race relations were improving, while about 40 percent of both blacks and whites said they were staying essentially the same.

Respondents tended to have much sunnier views of race relations in their own communities.

For instance, while only 37 percent said they thought race relations were generally good in the United States, more than twice that share, 77 percent, thought they were good in their communities, a number that has changed little over the past 20 years. …

That 77 percent of the poll’s respondents believe that race relations are pretty good in their own communities but that only 37 percent of the respondents believe that race relations are generally good in the nation as a whole demonstrates two things, I suspect: One, that a lot of Americans probably live in neighborhoods that aren’t very diverse — Americans tend to self-segregate by race (and by other demographics, such as income and age) — and so, surrounded mostly by people like themselves, there isn’t a lot of race-based conflict in the typical American’s daily routine.

And two, having a journalism degree and valuing the First Amendment, I’m not a knee-jerk blame-the-media type, but race-based news/“news” stories, because they get viewers and readers hot and bothered and so they get the media outlets viewers and readers (and thus more money), I surmise would lead us to believe that interracial relations are significantly worse than they actually are.

I don’t at all mean to downplay what happened to Sandra Bland or to Eric Garner or to Walter Scott or to way too many others. Their deaths/murders of course needed to be reported within the news/“news” media. I mean only to point out the simple fact that when interracial relations go smoothly, very rarely is it ever considered to be “newsworthy.” When interracial relations go significantly badly, especially if death or violence or property destruction is involved, all of us hear about it.

And in today’s instantaneous media environment, we hear about it instantaneously. And no media outlet wants to be seen as being outdone by the others, so we have wolf-pack journalism/“journalism,” and so when something is in the news/“news,” we see incessant, relentless coverage of it until it’s taken over by a new outrage or tragedy or debacle.

That we hear primarily only of the bad gives us a skewed view of how horrible things actually are. Your chance of dying in an airplane crash is 1 in 11 million. Your chance of dying in a vehicular crash, however, is 1 in 5,000. But horrific plane crashes that the media cover relentlessly make flying in airplanes seem to be much more dangerous than it really is.

Not too dissimilarly, I believe, the vast majority of interactions between cops and civilians end without injury or death. Most cops actually are not out to harm or to kill anyone (most — of course, no one wants to experience, or should have to experience, the exceptions to that rule).

And Hulk Hogan and his ilk are not representative of all or even of most white people. A sweepingly generalizing sentence that begins with “(All) white people…” is as likely to be as bullshit and as racist as is a sweepingly generalizing sentence that begins with “(All) black people…” And to me it’s just as offensive and just as racist to paint all white people with the same broad brush as it is to paint all members of another racial group with the same broad brush. Respect needs to work both ways for it to work at all.

Of course electing Barack Obama as president in 2008 wasn’t the magic bullet that was going to slay racism in the United States of America once and for all. As the New York Times’ reportage indicates, however, many if not most of us apparently to some degree thought that it was, at least in the “gauzy afterglow” of his initial election.

But since Obama’s arrival in the White House didn’t magically wipe out racism — since racism is much bigger than is any one person, even the president of the United States of America — nor does Obama’s departure from the White House a year and a half from now mean that racism inevitably is going to get even worse than it is now.

It’s quite trite, but it’s quite true: racism’s eradication or its persistence is up to us, to each and to every one of us.

Had I been asked to take the New York Times’ poll, I’d have responded, truthfully, that I believe that race relations in the United States actually are getting better, not worse.

That probably strikes most as counter-intuitive, given what’s in the news/“news” these days, but I say that because although racial relations in the U.S. continue to be quite messy, we’re talking about them.

Not talking about racism perpetuates it. All of us, regardless of our race, need to continue to talk about racism and we need to continue to act to eradicate it.

It’s incredibly messy. It’s awfully ugly. But we must do it nonetheless.

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Time to turn our backs to the cops

Some police officers turn their backs in sign of disrespect as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Liu and his partner, officer Rafael Ramos, were killed Dec. 20 as they sat in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street. The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, later killed himself. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Associated Press news photos

Apparently right-wing, mostly white-male New York City cops have taken to turning their backs to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in public — even after New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton has directed them to cease and desist, proclaiming, “I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor and decency that go with it.” (The mostly white male, classy cops shown turning their backs to the mayor in the news photos above did so today at the occasion of the funeral of one of two New York City police officers who were murdered on December 20. Hey, what’s a funeral for if not to use it for your own political purposes?) These rogue, neo-Nazi cops who believe that they are not required to follow orders have no honor or decency and need to be relieved of their uniforms. They are not irreplaceable.

At the time that our cops — most of them white men who are steeped in woefully outdated white-male privilege — whine that we stupid civilians don’t respect and support them enough, they repeatedly are demonstrating exactly why they don’t deserve our respect and support.

At least this is true of New York City cops. I hope that they’re not representative of all of the nation’s cops, but too many of the nation’s cops, being disproportionately white, share the same white-privilege mentality, along with the authoritarian personality and the right-wing, patriarchal, white-supremacist worldview.

Yet once again, today, New York City’s “finest” have turned their backs to democratically elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — a.k.a. their boss — this time at the funeral of Wenjian Liu, one of two New York City police officers who were gunned down by an apparently mentally ill young man last month. Classy to use a funeral to stage your little political protest!

(And, as I have written, it’s ironic, because the shooter of the two cops was not inspired by anything that Bill de Blasio said or did, but was inspired by white cops who had killed unarmed black men. [We have this motivation in the young, now-deceased black man’s own words.] The actions of cops very apparently got these two New York City police officers murdered last month, but these cops very conveniently blame someone else.)

Moreover, the cops had been instructed by New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton not to protest at today’s funeral. As Yahoo! News reports:

“A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance,” Bratton wrote in a memo to officers on Friday, less than a week after officers turned their backs on de Blasio at the funeral of Rafael Ramos, the other NYPD slain officer. “I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor, and decency that go with it.”

When police officers will not obey even the directives of their indisputable supervisors, it’s time for them to be fired. These punk-ass fascist/neo-Nazi bitches who denigrate the badges that they wear can be replaced — and they should be replaced.

Neo-Nazi cops — white, white-supremacist, right-wing cops who believe that if they disagree with the politics of our democratically elected officials, they may openly defy our democratically elected officials (and even their police-department supervisors) — are much worse than are the criminals/“criminals” from whom they (supposedly) protect us (in-their-eyes) stupid, clueless civvies.

Our police forces need to be reworked from the ground up as it is. In most parts of the nation, our police forces do not represent the demographics of the people whom they purport to serve and protect. We need to purge our police forces nationwide of the criminals in uniform — most of whom are stupid, thuggish white men who abuse their white-male privilege to the point that they are the lawless ones — and replace these bad cops with younger, much more diverse individuals who know how to humble themselves — and who respect and thus follow law and order, which includes following the chain of command, including their democratically elected leaders.

In the meantime, if our cops want our respect and support, they will have to earn it. Far too many of them have not. They have forgotten, or they simply ignore, the fact that we, the people, ultimately are their bosses — and not the other way around.

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News flash: Thug-cops (and those who love them) get other cops killed

Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, speaks during a news conference after the bodies of two fallen NYPD police officers were transported from Woodhull Medical Center, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in New York. An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, killing one and critically wounding a second before running into a nearby subway station and committing suicide, police said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Associated Press photo

Ironically, the likes of New York City cops’ union president Patrick Lynch, who, steeped in his big-mouthed white-male privilege, probably would defend every and any murder by cop, is much more likely to get cops killed than are anti-thug-cop demonstrators or progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Lynch is shown above braying at a news conference in New York City yesterday after two city cops were shot to death by an apparently mentally ill young black man, who beforehand had posted online, “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.”)

That two New York police officers were ambushed and shot to death yesterday by a young black man apparently claiming that it was retribution for the deaths of the unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of white cops is deeply unfortunate. But the politicization of the murders by the staunch, shameless defenders of white-male privilege and abuse of power, such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Patrick Lynch, the aptly-surnamed president of the city’s Patrolmen’s “Benevolent” Association, compounds the misfortune.

To be clear, first and foremost, when one human being kills another by gun, unless the killing is in actual self-defense and/or in actual defense of another, the person who pulled the trigger is to blame. And in a case like the ambush of the two New York cops (whose names were Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40), we must assume, I think, that the trigger man, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who went on to shoot himself to death after he murdered the two cops, was mentally ill (duh). (It’s not being widely reported, from what I can tell, but before Brinsley shot the two police officers yesterday, he had shot and injured his ex-girlfriend, so his state of mind yesterday went beyond anti-cop sentiment, apparently.)

But in this case, if we must blame someone other than the apparently mentally ill trigger man, as Lynch and Giuiliani have blamed anti-thug-cop demonstrators, progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, then I pick Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City thug-cop who killed Eric Garner — on video. There is some amount of blood, methinks, on his choke-holding hands.

Given that Pantaleo’s murder of Eric Garner happened in New York City, I assume that that murder by cop had more of an immediate influence on Ismaaiyl Brinsley than did the more distant killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (which, as I have written, I cannot conclude was a murder by cop, but the Garner case is pretty fucking clear-cut).

White cops’ reactions to the push-back for the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, et. al., and their reaction to the murder yesterday of two of their own starkly reveals their dangerous, fascistic mentality for all of us to plainly see. (Indeed, they’re too fucking stupid and too over-privileged to even try to sugarcoat their not-so-crypto-Nazi-like mentality.)

As Salon.com’s Joan Walsh accurately put it recently, Patrick Lynch and others like him very apparently believe that cops, especially white cops, are apart from and above the rest of us (as well as apart from and above the law), and that they should be fairly wholly immune from civilian oversight, since we stupid civilians who pay their paychecks couldn’t possibly know anything about policing, but should leave every micro-detail of every matter to the mostly-white cops. We clueless civvies should shut the fuck up, keep our tax dollars flowing to the cops, and not worry our pretty, stupid little heads about anything that the cops, who are wholly beyond reproach, do (or fail to do).

The bottom line is this: Cops who refuse to obey democratically elected civilian rule (unless they are given patently unlawful orders) should be removed from duty. Immediately.

The New York cops who have taken to turning their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio in his presence are not simply exercising any First-Amendment rights that they might possess in their capacity as police officers. They are announcing that they, in their estimation, reserve the right to refuse to submit to civilian authority when they deem such authority is a threat to their out-sized white-male privilege.

To me, it is little different for New York thug-cops (most of whom are steeped in white-male privilege) to turn their backs to their democratically elected mayor because they disagree with his political viewpoints than it would be for members of the U.S. military to turn their backs to the democratically elected president of the United States of America because they disagree with his or her political viewpoints.

Given cops’ training and resources (that, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the tax dollars of us stupid civvies) — and given cops’ veneer of probable innocence in every killing that they commit — rogue cops are much more dangerous than is the typical street criminal, and we stupid civvies allow rogue cops to proliferate at our own peril.

This is a growing cancer that we need to cut out right now.

Patrick Lynch, who advocates the insurrection of New York City’s police officers against their democratically elected civilian oversight, should step down or be removed from his position of authority that he abuses. How Lynch apparently has the support of his fellow cops when his words and actions only inflame tensions between cops and the public — thus putting cops at even further risk — eludes me, other than that an awful lot of cops must just be so fucking stupid as to participate in a deeply dysfunctional dynamic that increases the likelihood of even their own deaths at the hands of an enraged public.

(Yes, indeed, in addition to the likes of Daniel Pantaleo, I blame the likes of Patrick Lynch also for the deaths of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, since Lynch so steadfastly publicly has stood behind the indefensible Pantaleo. Liu and Ramos, unfortunately, very apparently paid the price for the likes of the thuggish Pantaleo and Lynch.)

In the meantime, we, the people, must not shrink, and must never shrink, in the face of the abuses of power by our mostly-white-male cops. It is unfortunate that two New York City cops were gunned down yesterday by an apparently mentally ill young man. But the lives of cops are not more valuable than are the lives of civilians, as the thug-cops believe and wish all of us simple-minded civvies to believe.

The murders of Ramos and Liu yesterday are no excuse to stop the work that has begun to ensure that our law-enforcement officers nationwide, most of them steeped in their white-male over-privilege, do not abuse their power.

Indeed, the thug-cops’ public reaction to all that has been taking place over the past several months demonstrates that we, the people, cannot stop now.

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Cop in Garner death should be tried for homicide

This is a grab from a video showing thuggish New York cop Daniel Pantaleo putting a forbidden chokehold on Eric Garner in New York City in July, causing Garner’s death, according to both a medical examiner and a forensic pathologist. Yet Pantaelo’s “punishment” thus far has been only desk duty.

While there isn’t enough evidence — just conflicting testimony — in the August death by cop of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to ascertain whether the state grand jury got it right or not, a New York grand jury’s failure to indict New York police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July death of Eric Garner is fucking mind-blowing.

On July 17, Pantaleo put the 43-year-old Garner in a chokehold, reportedly for Garner’s resistance to being arrested for having illegally sold cigarettes. However, Garner’s resistance to being arrested, if there was such resistance, apparently was only verbal, not physical, and nor did he try to flee the scene.

Therefore, Pantaleo’s chokehold appears to be a textbook case of police brutality.

A bystander’s video of the interaction between Garner and cops that went viral shows several cops holding Garner down on the ground (including Pantaleo, holding Garner’s head down to the pavement), while Garner repeatedly pleads, “I can’t breathe!”

Garner, who reportedly had asthma, died — perhaps of asphyxia from status asthmaticus, which could be caused not only from a chokehold, but from the physical and emotional shock of suddenly being manhandled and dog-piled upon like he was.

In any event, while Pantaleo’s shameless fucking defenders blame Garner’s pre-existing health condition for his death — a textbook example of blaming the victim — a medical examiner and a forensic pathologist both concluded that Garner’s cause of death was homicide (death caused by another human being, in this case, by Pantaleo).

Video of Garner’s chokehold takedown went viral, and, as The Associated Press notes, “A second video surfaced that showed police and paramedics appearing to make no effort to revive Garner while he lay motionless on the ground. He later died at a hospital.”

“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Pantaleo reportedly stated in a written statement. “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner.”

Regardless of what Pantaleo’s intention was, his unnecessary, thuggish chokehold predictably could have caused harm or even death, and therefore, in my book, he at least is guilty of negligent homicide or manslaughter. Chokeholds, after all, are banned by New York police policy. Pantaleo clearly violated the establish standards and norms for his job –– we have the video proof of that fact — and because of that, someone died.

Pantaleo should have to pay the price for that, and his merely being put on desk duty is nowhere near justice in this case. Those paramedics and police who also failed to do their duty to Garner also should be punished. Minimally, their fitness to remain in their jobs should be ascertained.

I hope that Garner’s survivors sue the holy living shit out of Pantaleo, and I hope that the feds bring about the justice that the New York grand jury did not.

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Notes on the mess in Ferguson

robberystrongarmedrobbery2.jpg

A screen grab (above) from a video apparently showing Michael Brown roughing up a convenience store clerk on the date of Brown’s shooting death by a white police officer apparently belies the idea of Brown having been a gentle giant, at least on the day of his death, but of course the unarmed Brown didn’t deserve to die for allegedly having stolen cigarillos. And law enforcement officers need to adopt non-lethal means of subduing subjects they deem dangerous or possibly dangerous, and of course we have way too many white cops shooting unarmed black men. All of that said, though, shit like torching police cars, as was done in Ferguson, Mo., last night (see news photo below), accomplishes exactly nothing.

A man runs from a police car that is set on fire after a group of protesters vandalize the vehicle after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Associated Press photo

I’ve yet to write about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., for several reasons, including the fact that I wanted to wait for things to play out and the fact, to be honest, that I’ve been Fergusoned out, much like I’ve been Benghazi’d out. Not to compare the two (one is an event that is a symptom of our broad and deep societal ills, and the other a comparative non-event drummed up by the right wing), but because the sensationalist media have beaten both into the ground.

First: Let’s acknowledge, as taboo as it is to do so (on the left, anyway), that Michael Brown apparently was no angel. There very apparently is surveillance video, for fuck’s sake, of the 6-foot-4-inch, almost 300-pound 18-year-old (whose nickname apparently was “Big Mike”) very apparently roughing up a convenience store clerk on the day that he later was shot and killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson (that day was August 9), and Wilson has claimed that when he encountered Brown, Brown had a handful of cigarillos that he’d apparently stolen from the convenience store.

(Whether this is true or whether Wilson was lying in an attempt to retroactively “justify” his shooting of Brown by trying to link Brown to a crime that Wilson has claimed he had been aware of is quite in dispute. [It seems to me that it’s quite possible that Wilson had had no knowledge of the convenience-store robbery before he encountered Brown on that fateful day in August, and if memory serves, early news reports [such as this one] indeed were that Wilson had not known about the convenience-store robbery when he encountered Brown.])

I’m no angel myself, but the exact number of times that I’ve roughed up a convenience store clerk while stealing from him is, um, zero. As there not only is surveillance video, but as Michael Brown’s companion on that fateful day, Dorian Johnson, apparently also has testified that Brown committed the convenience-store robbery (to Johnson’s surprise), that Brown committed the crime is, methinks, fairly indisputable, and it is not “character assassination” to divulge unflattering facts about Brown’s unflattering actions on that day, as Brown’s defenders have alleged. Brown’s character, at least as it was on that particular day, it seems to me, rather speaks for itself. On that day, anyway, very apparently, Brown was no gentle giant.

But: Did Michael Brown deserve to get capped, even if he had committed a crime? Brown was unarmed, and photos of Darren Wilson’s “injuries” allegedly caused by Brown show only some red marks (maybe one light facial bruise) that appear as though they even could have been pre-existing. (Wilson, by the way, is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighs around 210 pounds and is 28 years old.)

The fact that it’s verging on the year 2015 and despite all of our technological advances we still have no widely used non-lethal way of effectively subduing those whom law enforcement officers deem need to be subdued is testament to what degree life (especially non-white life) is considered to be cheap here in the United States of America.

Sure, we have Tasers, but those are good for only a limited range, and whenever cops claim, correctly or incorrectly, truthfully or untruthfully, that they feared for their lives, they don’t use Tasers or the like, but they use live rounds. With all of our technological advances, why do we allow this beyond-sorry state of affairs to continue? Why don’t we care enough to force the cops to change their tactics?

And, of course, it’s inarguable that black men are treated as automatically guilty by many if not even most white cops, who often act as judge, jury and even executioner, and that cops disproportionately are white males, like Darren Wilson.

It’s also inarguable that Ferguson is just the tip of the iceberg. The main function of cops is to protect the socioeconomic interests of the plutocrats, the ruling elite. Cops serve and protect, all right, but whom do they serve and protect? Cops are tools of the elite, whether the cops know this or not, and whether the cops even care if they do know this.

So there is that dynamic that’s baked into the socioeconomic dynamics of the United States, as well as is the dynamic of institutionalized racism.

That said, while institutionalized racism rages on, we still must view every incident as an incident, with its unique details and factors and with its unique, individual actors, and we have to be careful not to allow individuals to become standard-bearers or stand-ins for our own views on race.

Just as Michael Brown apparently was no angel, I’m sure that Darren Wilson is no angel, either, and so to see black Americans portray Brown as what he apparently wasn’t (an innocent angel) and to see white Americans portray Wilson as what he probably isn’t (a “hero” who was just doing his job and protecting himself from a dangerous thug) has been disappointing, to put it mildly, because this is much more about sticking up for one’s own race than it is about any respect for the truth.

Indeed, the Ferguson case has been turned into a race war, in which Brown has been the proxy for black Americans and Wilson the proxy for white Americans – to the point that the grand jury’s decision, to many if not most Americans, apparently was supposed to go far, far beyond the very specific events surrounding Wilson’s shooting of Brown on August 9 in Ferguson, and was supposed to be a decision, a judgment, on whether or not American cops (most of them white) on the whole treat black American males unjustly, or even, more broadly, on whether or not the United States still has problems with racism.

That’s an understandable misunderstanding, I suppose, but it is a huge misunderstanding of the purpose of the grand jury nonetheless.

There was or there was not enough evidence to show that Wilson, in his capacity as a law enforcement officer, probably illegally shot Brown. (If the laws governing this question are fucked, that’s something else, and if the laws are fucked [and they are], then we need to change the laws.) That, however, was what the grand jury was to have decided: whether or not Wilson probably violated the letter of the law. That was the only job of the grand jury, and it was a narrow job.

And neither you nor I was there when Wilson shot Brown, which is another reason that I’ve yet to write about Ferguson until now: Most of us have an opinion on an event that we didn’t even witness, and for which we have only significantly different claims from different parties as to what did (and did not) transpire. Lacking that specific information, we fill the vacuum with our own opinions and prejudices and our biases that stem primarily from our own racial-group identity. Which is a sort of mob mentality.

Speaking of which, lobbing rocks and bricks and bottles and Molotov cocktails and smashing store-front windows and setting cars and buildings ablaze, while perhaps loads of fun for the participants, doesn’t do anything, that I can tell, to even begin to change the entrenched socioeconomic ills that plague the nation, the socioeconomic ills that are behind Michael Brown’s death.

I’m not staunchly against the use of violence as a political tactic – the plutocrats, our overlords, certainly never rule out the use of violence against us commoners, so we commoners never should rule out the use of violence against our plutocratic overlords, either – but violence, if used, should be strategic and it should get results. I don’t see that vandalizing store fronts and blocking roads and even setting businesses and other buildings and cars, including cop cars, ablaze do anything to even begin to change our corrupt system.

While the sources of the rage that induce individuals to take it to the streets are entirely understandable – those sources include institutionalized racism, ridiculous socioeconomic inequality from an economic system (capitalism) that is all about screwing others over for one’s own selfish gain, and the police state that we live under that protects and preserves this ridiculous socioeconomic inequality and institutionalized racism – again, I don’t see that the tactics that most of the enraged use on the streets actually are effective in bringing about real change.

Our fascistic, plutocratic overlords don’t exactly quake in their jackboots at the specter of small businesses having their front windows smashed out, and of course if a police car is torched, it is we, the taxpayers (which doesn’t include the tax-evading plutocrats), who will pay to replace that police car, of course. What do the plutocrats lose in these cases?

The plutocrats are perfectly willing to sacrifice a small, token amount in periodic property damage in order to perpetuate their ongoing socioeconomic rape, pillage and plunder of the masses and of the planet itself. (And it goes without saying, of course, that our plutocratic overlords are entirely untroubled by the periodic shootings of black men by white cops. After all, thus far the responses to these shootings, while they gain plenty of media coverage, haven’t threatened in any serious way the plutocrats’ iron grip on wealth and power.)

Finally, we Americans need to recognize that it wasn’t only Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown. Almost all of us killed Michael Brown. (Ditto for Trayvon Martin, as I have stated, and for many others.) Because we have continued to allow the inexcusable bullshit to continue, and as long as we continue to do so, as long as we continue to refuse to dive more deeply than the surface (such as by looking primarily or even solely at race and not nearly enough at class, and by failing to effectively hold accountable the plutocratic puppet masters who always are hiding behind the scenes and thus always get away scot-free), and as long as we continue to refuse to do the long, hard, sustained work of making – of forcing, if necessary – significant systemic changes (yes, including up to true revolution [“reform” always leaves the power structure intact, doesn’t it?]), there will be plenty of more Michael Browns and Darren Wilsons.

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Let us give thanks to God for pepper spray

I celebrated Buy Nothing Day today by buying nothing today. Not only did I do my part to refuse to contribute to mindless, runaway consumerism, but I avoided being pepper-sprayed, too.

Yes, apparently taking a cue from our wonderful law enforcement officers, some woman at a Southern California Walmart reportedly pepper-sprayed her shopping competitors in order to get to an Xbox. Reports The Associated Press:

Ten people were slightly injured by the pepper spray and 10 others suffered minor bumps and bruises in the chaos, [police Sgt. Jose] Valle said. They were treated at the scene.

“People could have gotten trampled,” he said. “Good thing there were no small kids.”

The woman got away in the confusion, but it was not immediately clear whether she got an Xbox, Valle said. …

The store remained open and those not affected by the pepper spray kept shopping. [Of course.] 

The woman could face felony battery charges if she is found, Valle said.

The AP story also calls the pepper-spray incident “the only major violence reported at a Southern California store involving Black Friday Thanksgiving holiday sales.”

So the pepper-spraying shopper committed “major violence” and “could face felony battery charges,” according to the AP, but according to Faux “News,” pepper spray is a “food product.”

Indeed, “Let them eat pepper spray!” is the attitude of the treasonous 1 percent, the 1 percent’s treasonous thugs (a.k.a. “law enforcement officers”), and the treasonous supporters of the 1 percent and the 1 percent’s thugs, but is this how it’s going to be — pepper spray is just a “food product” if the pigs use it against peaceful protesters, but if anyone else aggressively and not in self-defense sprays someone else with pepper spray, it’s felony battery?

I can’t imagine that the pepper-spraying Black Friday shopper was not inspired by our pigs’ recent abuse of pepper spray. Aren’t the pigs supposed to stop crime — and not inspire it?

Pepper spray is going to become so popular, I predict, that next Black Friday, shoppers will be pepper-spraying each other in order to be the first to get to the cheap fire-extinguisher-sized canisters of pepper spray.

In other Thanksgiving-related news, President Hopey-Changey has taken flak from the “Christo”fascists because he didn’t explicitly thank God in his Internet Thanksgiving address, even though Hopey-Changey did say “God bless you” in his address.

President Hopey-Changey didn’t thank Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, either — because they’re mythical, too.

But seriously, I give thanks for living in such a nation of intellects that they are butt-hurt that Barack Obama neglected to explicitly thank a non-existent Zeus-like deity for whatever. (Actually, in a written Thanksgiving proclamation that he’d issued earlier, Obama did explicitly thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster. In that written proclamation, he proclaimed, “As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives” — like pepper spray, which our cops find very comforting, and which must be a kindness, since it’s a food product.)

No, really — I give thanks for living in a nation in which others don’t try to shove their stupid religious beliefs down others’ throats. Because that would be just like living under Sharia law.

P.S. Here’s an alternate graphic for this piece:

And while looking for a graphic for this piece, I saw this one —

— which is only tangentially related to this piece, but which is pretty fucking funny, since some of the green, villainous pigs in the videogame Angry Birds indeed, just like UC Davis Police Lt. John Pig — er Pike — have mustaches and wear helmets…

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