Monday, July 18, 2016

Term of the Day: FADING REPUBLIC

What the hell is becoming of my country?! 

Shooting after shooting after shooting after shooting ...
news report after news report after news report ...
senseless killing after senseless killing after senseless killing ...
heinous killing of citizens by police after heinous killing of citizens by police ...
heinous killing of police by citizens after heinous killing of police by citizens ...

Seriously, what the hell are we doing??!!!!!

Does anybody know, or want to be bothered to know, about the event that tore apart this nation over 150 years ago?  That was the Civil War.  It was about states' rights AND slavery, not one or the other, and it ripped us apart by having us fight each other.  We were not fighting a foreign enemy ... we were fighting each other!  What are we doing now ... we are fighting each other again!

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Does that quote sound familiar?  It should; it's been around a while, although there are several variations of it throughout history.  Let's be honest though, something that happened over a century-and-a-half ago means nothing to most citizens in the first quarter of the twenty-first century.  Historical relevance has become irrelevant to the masses.  Things here-and-now and how they relate to here-and-now have become relevant, if not almost paramount.

I am consistently gobsmacked at how people do not want to learn from history. They want to learn how to work the latest gadget coming down the pike.  Gotta learn how to operate the latest smartphone, or iPad, or app, or else I'll be left behind, out of the loop.  Not learning from history and repeating behaviors, or ignoring those behaviors because you would rather be distracted, already puts you out of the loop. 

Is there anything inherently wrong with gadgetry itself?  Not that I can see.  Is enjoying technology to have some fun a bad thing?  With all of the negative things going on in the world, we all need something to take our minds away from them now and then.  The one big bad element to that is how it makes us less social creatures.

Why aren't there more people in this country who can see the distractions we create as facilitators for deceptions? 

Usually, the first argument I hear about technology as a distraction is that I must be anti-technology.  Absolutely not.  It is not just technology, though.  Sports and entertainment come under the distraction umbrella as well.  In and of itself, there is nothing wrong, nothing, with having those things as distractions.  You certainly can be a movie fanatic and a huge sports fan and still be aware of what is happening in your country.  However, when they become primary pursuits of information, the doors are left wide open for all kinds of turmoil to happen. 

Last, but not least, the news itself  -- yes, the news -- can be used as a distraction.  Here is one example: over the course of days while the murder of Alton Sterling in Louisiana, the murder of Philando Castille in Minnesota, and the ambush on police in Dallas were all happening, President Obama.okayed sending over 500 more troops to Iraq, bringing our total number of troops there to over 4,600.  (The numbers vary, depending on what source you use, with the military's public estimates being the lowest.)  You can look to
our history to any time we were engaged in a war and the phrase: "The first casualty of war is the truth".

Can anyone tell me when replacing our minds and voices (and maybe our fists, if things got that serious) with firearms was accepted as normal?!

The worst things I had to worry about in school, or even around the neighborhood, was a fist fight or someone insulting my mother.  That was it!  Now, kids are bringing weapons to school!  Schools have police patrolling hallways and metal detectors at their doors!  What's next, metal detectors at our front doors?!

Having an argument with somebody now automatically means you might be killed.  Aside from unsafe driving, road rage used to be expressed by shouting and flipping the bird ... now, you might get shot.  Going out-and-about in public is now a greater-than-before health risk, with mass shootings, high-speed car chases, and other activities being more frequent.  Being on your front porch isn't even safe.  You do not even have to be running around or out in the street to get shot by a drive-by shooting.  Even people sitting INSIDE THEIR OWN HOMES (i.e. in bed, on couch in living room) has become dicey.  All because some hooligans think violence is as necessary as breathing air and collateral damage is an unfortunate side effect.  (Sounds like the military.) 

If the media is supposed to be the "watchdog of our democracy", why do far too many of us ignore the fact that the watchdog has one blind eye?!

A lot of towns, larger sized towns and cities, had more than one newspaper.  Now, they're down to one, maybe two.  The major news companies in this country have been whittled down to two or three news conglomerates.  Television is no different...

Is this really what me mean by "civilized society"?

I am sick and tired beyond measure or description with all of these police shootings!  I am fed up!  I'm fed up with being fed up!  Let me add right off that, yes, the media is manipulative in what it reports -- "if it bleeds, it leads" -- but shooting after shooting after shooting, followed by no trial or conviction after no trial or conviction after no trial or conviction is nothing short of a disgrace!  Being held accountable and no one is above the law have been moved to the back of the class ... they are second-class citizens ... they are the "undesirables" that are shunned ... "liberty and justice for all" has exceptions. 

Civilized society is being redefined as a society that is just the opposite, which just happens to have buildings, jobs, infrastructures, etc.  It is far more than those things and its importance is not just being ignored; it is being discarded.

Does anyone see what's wrong with the following list?

So, let me get this straight ...
> People who have been on FBI watch lists can get a firearm.
> People who have any mental instability can get a firearm.
> If a background check just happens to not be completed in three days time, the default is that person can get the weapon anyway.
> Law enforcement officers can lawfully shoot whenever they damn well feel like it, even shooting to kill, instead of shooting to slow down or stop a suspect from getting away.
> Suppression of peaceful protests, and I do mean peaceful protests, is just fine sometimes.
> The U.S. Constitution is now "Void Where Prohibited".
> Shooting anyone unnecessarily (i.e. cop shooting a civilian, civilian shooting a cop) is "just another day in America".
> Someone who is walking away from you or is restrained, or even who happens to have a weapon in a pocket and not in their hand, is the same level of threat as if they had their gun in their and shooting at you.
> The right to own a firearm in this country supersedes anyone else's right to safety.
> The FBI, state and local police departments, the Department of Homeland Security -- all supposed to be involved in protecting us -- just don't seem like they want to communicate with each other.

In the twenty-first century, racism is still a huge issue .. and now it's being exploited!

Some say racism can be stopped; others say it cannot be fully eradicated.  I'm of the latter thought, and I see it as something that should be a far more minor issue than it is.  Now, it is being used to divide us even further.  White cops killing black people unnecessarily over and over again, with no repercussions for the officers doing the killing.  There are killings of white people by black cops.  There are killings of white people by white cops.  Why don't they get the same national attention?  Manipulation. 

Here's a video of Dylan Noble, a nineteen-year-old white California youth who was shot just over three weeks ago...

While you can argue Noble should have put both hands out of his truck window, and should not have walked toward the officers with one hand behind his back, and you would be correct to do so, what about the third and fourth shots fired?  Were those shots justified?  I cannot see how they were.  If, however, you say yes, then you must also think the police were justified in the murder of Alton Sterling ... with not one, but two big cops on top of him on the ground ... with the gun he had in his pocket ... with three shots at point-blank range into his chest, then told to get on the ground after he already was, and then shot three more times in the chest at point-blank range. 

The cops are white and Noble was white, so what's the racism argument all about?  It's about the prevalence of police killing black persons to chip away at the racial divide to make it wider and deeper.

Now, that chipped-away gap has retaliations against police on the cusp of becoming normal, too!  Just over a year-and-a-half ago, a man killed two Brooklyn officers as retaliation for the murder of Eric Garner.  In case you forgot, Eric Garner was committing a misdemeanor, selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island, N.Y., and was killed by police ... and the cops got off, even with the whole event being filmed!  (Yeah, body cams are a joke.)  Then, we have the murder of five officers in Dallas, even after a peaceful anti-police shooting protest!  Just yesterday, three officers were murdered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the same town where Alton Sterling was murdered, as retaliation.

Hey, let's all just shoot each other up!  The NRA's argument of the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun got shattered in Dallas -- dozens of good guys with guns, trained how to use them, didn't stop the sniper. 

The NRA is a sham and far too many cannot see that!

I have been hearing this argument in favor of getting rid of the NRA for years.  Get rid of the NRA? Are you kidding me?  The NRA, for all of its rhetoric and bluster about the right to firearms and gun safety, is nothing more than a lobbyist group, plain and simple.  An individual can't get rid of the NRA.  Local or state officials can't get rid of the NRA.  Local or state police can't get rid of the NRA.  In fact, not even federal law enforcement can get rid of the NRA.  You know who can?  Congress and the President can.  Do you seriously think that, when so many politicians are bought by the NRA, they have ANY interest in simply not agreeing with or supporting it, let alone get rid of it?  Of course not!  Good luck with that.

Now, "good cop" and "bad cop" have to be tweaked.

"Good cops" and "bad cops" are no longer as cut-and-dry of descriptives as they seem.  For the record, I am NOT a supporter of the "kill the police" movement, but I am part of the police-cannot-always-be-trusted movement.

A "good cop" may be an officer who never engaged in shady behavior or criminal activity under the guise of power, whereas a "bad cop" is an officer who has engaged in those activities.  Fair enough.  However, the idea of responsibility and collective culpability has become buried even deeper in the sand.  The idea of a "code" officers live by (don't drop the dime on your fellow officers) is improper.  It is a house built on sand.

When you enforce that upon your officers, you force good cops to bear some of the responsibility for illegal and improper behavior.  The improper or illegal actions of their fellow brothers and sisters in blue must be held in their confidence as well.  It is an abuse of power. It is forced complicity, and that never strengthens a collective; it makes that collective look suspicious.  It is no different that the Catholic Church child abuse epidemic.  It stains "good" cops and that is unacceptable.  That is no way to treat your people and no way to tell them to treat other people.  What, if someone kills another person, they should be prosecuted, but if the killer happens to be a police officer, there are no conditions where being reckless makes any difference whatsoever?  The phrase "to protect and to serve" means to protect and to serve the people, not to protect and to serve the police force.

We can't teach kids about the police anymore like we used to!

Growing up, we were taught to respect the police.  We were taught to feel safe around the police.  The police were all good.  If you had a problem, you could go to a policeman, and he would try to help.  That was a hard fact, BUT now, if your skin color is the "wrong" one, you might get killed?  No crime committed?  No real probable cause?  Are you kidding me?!  In addition, if you're the "wrong" color, you may have to see this kind of garbage going on and you might feel so compelled to shoot police officers?

All this amounts to is officers who never killed anyone unnecessarily are mistrusted from the get-go and skin color dictates whether or not you have a target on your back.  This is not to say these things only started happening recently, but they are happening far too frequently.

I'm not anti-police and I'm not black ... and I'm still saying all this!

I'm anti-abuse of power and I'm white, so shouldn't I just "move along" because "there's nothing to see here"?  Hell no!  Wrong is still wrong, unfair is still unfair, heinous is still heinous (no matter who shoots), and unfounded is still unfounded in my book!  After all that has been happening, I will not condone unlawful murder of citizens or of officers.  Period!

What the hell do you expect?!

We are in a downward spiral.  It is a cycle of unwarranted, illegal actions of some police officers and acts of retribution.  Do you mean to tell me that it is solely because of the police or citizens?  They're both part and parcel in this cycle.  Sir Isaac Newton's third law of physics states for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  While being equal can be argued, the opposite reaction is happening.  When you push a group of people, you are misguided to expect no push-back.  The problem is that those pushing and those pushing back are killing people.

So ... ???!!!!

I am reminded of two things in the midst of all this... One, what my parents always told me about what happens when you have a cold: It gets worse before it gets better.  Two, a passage from the book of Galatians in the Christian Bible (chapter 6, verse 7, to be specific) that has been reworded as: You reap what you sow.  Persecution and retribution are equally reprehensible.

My position is not wishing for all kinds of crap to come raining down on the country.  However, if some major shifts do not occur in this country (i.e. millions upon millions of citizens demanding better, simultaneous police ceasing unwarranted murder and retribution murder immediately), people will be holding their collective breath for something better at their own peril.

I will always want a better society and a better country, but my feeling is that things will get worse before they get better.  How worse?  I don't know.  Is another civil war likely?  Likely, no.  Is it possible?  Oh, yes.  Mine is not the only voice or the loudest voice in wanting peace, but I feel my calls, along with others' calls, are not enough and are not being heard or heeded.  

The republic is fading.  Hope for the best, but expect the worst.