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This isn’t Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, either

Updated below

TK

No one photograph captures the totality of any one human being. Fucking duh.

A Massachusetts state cop has, apparently without authorization, released images that he took of the capture of the accused Boston Marathon bombing participant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in order to make a political point while blasting Rolling Stone for allegedly having tried to make a political point. (The image above is the image that has gone the most viral.)

“As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image [of Tsarnaev] that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty,” Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy huffed and puffed when he gave the images to Boston Magazine, continuing, “The truth is that glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

I get it that Murphy has a personal and political interest in protecting the authoritarian, law-and-order, “good”-guys-vs.-“bad”-guys, violence-loving, white-male patriarchy of which he is part and parcel, but it was unprofessional (and, hell, for all that I know, also illegal) for Murphy, on his own, to release the images to the media out of his own personal and political passions, and BBC News reports that Murphy apparently has been relieved of duty for having released the images without authorization.

Good!

Murphy is allowed his wingnutty opinions, but, when it comes to whether or not D. Tsarnaev’s attorneys can argue whether or not he can get a fair trial, a fucking Rolling Stone cover probably won’t factor into that argument, but a state cop’s having released photos of Tsarnaev and having called Tsarnaev “evil” and “the real Boston bomber” certainly could. So Murphy’s actions seem to me to be reckless at best, especially if he is interested in actual justice, as he apparently claims he is.

Yes, in his right-wing rant that the apparently right-wing Boston Magazine published, the leaker Murphy also proclaimed: “Photography is very simple, it’s very basic. It brings us back to the cave. An image like this on the cover of Rolling Stone, we [who, exactly, is “we”?] see it instantly as being wrong. What Rolling Stone did was wrong. This guy is evil. This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

While I agree that “photography is very simple,” that is the fucking problem. Murphy, apparently without any self-awareness of this, is guilty of the flip side of what he accuses Rolling Stone of having done.

I agree that one emo-looking image of D. Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone certainly doesn’t tell the whole story about the young man, but neither does one image (or even several images) of a sniper’s red-laser dot on Tsarnaev’s forehead tell the whole story about him.

Each of us is a complex human being who cannot be summed up in one fucking photograph.

And neither can even someone like D. Tsarnaev tidily and neatly be summed up in the single word “evil,” as Murphy so helpfully has done for us, and, of course, the difference between people like Murphy — authoritarian, self-righteous, patriarchy-promoting-and-protecting, hypocritically-violent-themselves types — and the rest of us is that while Murphy would deny that he contains any evil within himself at all, the rest of us acknowledge that we do.

And it’s those who deny that they have any evil within themselves at all who, in my book, are the most dangerous of all, which is perhaps why our plutocratic overlords love to have these sociopathic types in the U.S. military and in U.S. law enforcement (and, let’s face it, most of the time “our” laws apply only to us commoners, and not to our plutocratic overlords).

Update: Via Slate.com, this is a clarification of what has happened with Sgt. Sean Murphy:

Though he’s been relieved of duty, Murphy has not been fired. The status of his duty is to be reviewed next week. Two lieutenants in an unmarked cruiser and a sergeant in a marked cruiser arrived at Murphy’s home about 7:40 [last night] and, during about 20 minutes at his home, took the following: his gun, badge, ammunition, handcuffs, baton, bulletproof vest, cameras, police ID, license to fire arms, pepper spray, cellphone and computer. Murphy was also ordered not to speak to the press or discuss the capture of Tsarnaev with anyone else.

My guess is that he’ll get a slap on the wrist. At the bare minimum, in my book, he no longer should be allowed to photograph police activity.

Also, the Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote a good piece defending Rolling Stone. Sure, you might say, of course he’s going to defend his employer, but nonetheless, he makes some good points, such as these:

… I think, on the whole, the people leveling these criticisms must not read the magazine, which is understandable. It would be beyond unreasonable to expect everyone in the country to be regularly familiar with the articles in Rolling Stone. On the other hand, pretty much everyone has heard of Rolling Stone, which is where the problem lay, in this gap between the popular image of the magazine and the reality of its reporting.

If indeed we were just a celebrity/gossip mag that covered nothing but rock stars and pop-culture icons, and we decided to boost sales and dabble in hard news by way of putting a Jim Morrison-esque depiction of a mass murderer on our cover, that really would suck and we would deserve all of this criticism.

But Rolling Stone has actually been in the hard news/investigative reporting business since its inception, from Hunter S. Thompson to Carl Bernstein to Bill Greider back in the day to Tim Dickinson, Michael Hastings, Mark Boal, Janet Reitman and myself in recent years.

One could even go so far as to say that in recent years, when investigative journalism has been so dramatically de-emphasized at the major newspapers and at the big television news networks, Rolling Stone’s role as a source of hard-news reporting has been  magnified. In other words, we’re more than ever a hard news outlet in a business where long-form reporting is becoming more scarce. …

If the Rolling Stone editors had brought Tsarnaev in to its offices near Rockefeller center, wined and dined him, and then posed him for that Jim Morrison shot, then yes, that would be reprehensible.

But that’s not what the magazine did. They used an existing photo, one already used by other organizations. The New York Times, in fact, used exactly the same photo on the cover of their May 5 issue.

But there was no backlash against the Times, because everyone knows the Times is a news organization. Not everyone knows that about Rolling Stone. So that’s your entire controversy right there – it’s OK for the Times, not OK for Rolling Stone, because many people out there understandably do not know that Rolling Stone is also a hard-news publication. …

[Regarding] the idea that the cover photo showed Tsarnaev to be too nice-looking, too much like a sweet  little boy[,] I  can understand why this might upset some  people. But the jarringly non-threatening image of Tsarnaev is exactly the point of the whole story. If any of those who are up in arms about this cover had read Janet’s piece, they would see that the lesson of this story is that there are no warning signs for terrorism, that even nice, polite, sweet-looking young kids can end up packing pressure-cookers full of shrapnel and tossing them into crowds of strangers.

Thus the cover picture is not intended to glamorize Tsarnaev. Just the opposite, I believe it’s supposed to frighten. …

I recommend Taibbi’s piece in its entirety.

It was clear to me immediately that Rolling Stone had repurposed an existing image of Tsarnaev for its cover. I have to wonder if Sean Murphy is so stupid as to not have realized that, or if he realized that but intentionally wanted to mislead others in his personal crusade against Rolling Stone, which his own words — his description of the image of Tsarnaev that RS used as “someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine” — suggest.

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Dumbfuck Nation

The recent “National Tea Party Convention” has inspired me to pick up again Susan Jacoby’s book The Age of American Unreason, which is about the threat that rampant intentional ignorance and anti-intellectualism poses to the continued existence of our democracy and our nation. I started to read Jacoby’s book when it came out in 2008 but then I put it down. I’ve picked it up again, as now it seems timelier than ever.

I liken our national situation to this: A horribly incompetent surgeon seriously botched our surgery. So we pick a new surgeon. However, the damage that the first surgeon caused is so serious that the second surgeon can’t fix it overnight. Impatient and frustrated, we think that it’s a swell idea to return to the first surgeon. After all, a whole year has passed since we last saw him!

That is how bright it is for us to turn the reins of power back to the Repugnican Party, which “Tea Party” Queen Sarah Palin-Quayle tells us we should do. (It’s funny how she states that the “tea party” isn’t about any one person, when clearly she would love to be their leader.)

I understand that people are frustrated, angry and confused. But it is precisely when we are frustrated, angry and confused that we need to think, and to not act stupidly — because acting stupidly in a time of crisis will only worsen our crisis.

This excerpt from a Los Angeles Times article on the recent “tea party” convention in Nashville, Tenn., sums up the “tea party” crowd pretty well, I think:

Ask Gail Hathaway, a warm 61-year-old retired nurse from Vonore, Tenn., what she wants out of the “tea party” movement, and she returns the quizzical look of someone worried she’s been asked a trick question.

“What do I want? Well, I want it all to stop,” she said late Thursday night from the floor of the National Tea Party Convention, an event billed as the first major conference for the conservative movement currently reshaping America’s political landscape. “Our way of life is under attack. I truly believe they are trying to destroy this country. It’s just hard to say who ‘they’ is.”

That is it, in a nutshell: The world is changing rapidly, and the “tea party” crowd wants it to stop. The United States as a whole no longer resembles the cozy little lily-white town of Mayberry, N.C. (if it ever really did), and the “tea party” crowd wants to bring Mayberry back.

Only you can’t bring Mayberry back, even if doing so were a good idea (which it isn’t), and no one is “trying to destroy this country.” Not even the “Islamofascists,” who just want the United States to get the fuck out of the Middle East and who want to be left the fuck alone, which sounds fairly reasonable to me, as we wouldn’t want a Middle Eastern military presence in our nation, would we?

Not even the home-grown wingnuts — with the exception of the rapturous “end-timers,” I suppose, who want World War III to occur because they are “saved” — are “trying to destroy this country.” It is true that the wingnuts’ fucktardation, unchecked, would result in the destruction of the nation — already the wingnuts’ fucktardation has brought the United States to the brink of extinction, when their usurper “war” “president” ran the show for eight endless years — but do I think that they want to destroy the nation?

Probably not, although it seems clear that Sarah Palin-Quayle wants WW III to happen. She suggested today that President Barack Obama could win re-election in 2012 if he were to declare war on Iran. (Hey, she was the running mate of John “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCainosaurus, after all.)

Now, never mind that just yesterday at the Wingnut Super Bowl in Nashville, Palin-Quayle accused the Obama administration of “generational theft” by running the federal budget deficit up even more than the BushCheneyCorp did; today, Palin-Quayle suggests that we launch a war on Iran.

Because that would not be “generational theft,” to launch another major war in the Middle East when you are still reeling from the record federal budget deficit that the previous Repugnican “president” left you and when things have been crumbling here at home for some years now.

As I’ve said before, the wingnuts are fine with running up a deficit as long as we are using that money to kill innocent people in the Middle East in their “Christian” crusade against Islam; but if we want to spend any money on Americans here at home, that is “socialist” “generational theft.”

How would Jesus budget? Would he prioritize things like health care? Education? Food? Shelter? Environmental protection? 

No! He would launch a war on Iran!

“Our way of life is under attack. I truly believe they are trying to destroy this country,” the “tea bagger” told the L.A. Times, admitting that she couldn’t even identify “they.”

No, it’s that things are changing. Rapidly. Science and the Internet, the free flow of information, haven’t been very kind to the ignorant and fear-based “Christianity,” the brand of “Christianity” that the wingnuts follow.

Because the wingnuts feel like they are under attack doesn’t mean that anyone is actually attacking them. It’s what you call “paranoia.”

Millions and millions of other Americans don’t look, believe and act just like the wingnuts do. In their insecurity, if everyone is not on the same page with them, the wingnuts become unhinged and unglued. Rather than examine their own ignorance and their own misguided beliefs, the wingnuts lash out at those others who aren’t carbon copies of themselves. And rather than change with the times, the wingnuts would rather destroy those whose differ from them, and that is a long hit list: non-whites, feminists, non-“Christians,” non-heterosexuals, non-right-wingers, foreigners, et. al., et. al.

If I want to marry my boyfriend of two-plus years here in Northern California, it’s because I want to marry my boyfriend. (I take the American principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and “liberty and justice for all” seriously, you see, and unlike the wingnuts believe, I don’t believe that these things are for only those who look like me and who agree with me.)

If I want to marry my boyfriend, it’s not because I am “attacking” the “way of life” of some “tea-bagging” “Christo”fascist wingnut in Idaho who opposes same-sex marriage. If I want to marry my boyfriend, it has nothing to do with the wingnuts, whom history is leaving behind. (Funny that they should rally around a wingnutty book series called Left Behind when they are the ones who are being left behind, like the dinosaurs that they don’t believe in were left behind.)

The root of fear is ignorance, but the wingnuts embrace their ignorance.

In her rant at the Wingnut Super Bowl yesterday, “Tea Party” Queen Sarah Palin-Quayle said that “we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.”

That “clever” line is to meant to glorify stupidity and brute force and to denigrate intelligence. George W. “Mission Accomplished” Bush was a great commander in chief? Yeah, I want a dumbfuck in charge of the nuclear codes. I want my nation’s leader to be as dumb as humanly possible.

Palin-Quayle panders to the dumbfucks. She assures them that their dumbfuckery is not only OK, but that their dumbfuckery is a sign that they’re great Christians and that they’re great patriots. She has the “tea party” set worshipping a fucktarded golden calf.

We sane Americans underestimate, I believe, how dangerous individuals like Sarah Palin-Quayle and her “tea-partying” ilk are. In the last decade alone, they stole at least one presidential election, oversaw the largest terrorist attack ever on our nation’s soil, launched at least one bogus war, just allowed one of the nation’s worst natural disasters ever to kill thousands of Americans, and in all of this created a record federal budget deficit — but they blame the current state of the nation on Barack Hussein Obama.

The “tea party” “movement’s” Cult of Dumbfuckery appeals to the millions of Americans who never read books (except perhaps for Glenn Beck’s) and who get their “news” from FOX. The “tea party” “movement” tells people that it’s not only OK to be ignorant, but that it’s good to be ignorant.

This is some pretty fucking scary shit, folks.

If anyone bothered to read books anymore, they might recall the ruling totalitarian party’s credo in George Orwell’s chilling novel 1984:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

That is Sarah Palin-Quayle’s and the “tea party” “movement’s” “vision” statement in a nutshell.

If we allow their “vision” to rule the nation again, we won’t have a nation any longer.

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