What’s fascinating to me as somebody without TV

What’s fascinating to me as somebody without TV December 5, 2014

…is how, over the past couple of days, I’ve watched people in St. Blog’s comboxes come to consensus that Uniformed Power Figures killed a weak guy in a dark skin because he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/he resisted arrest/he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/he had priors/he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/this is society’s fault/he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/he was obese/he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/he was bigger than the cop who killed him/he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/this is really about taxing cigarettes/he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/the real culprits are the people protesting this as an injustice/he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/questioning this grand jury is attacking our civilization back to Magna Carta/he had it coming and the cop who killed him is blameless/the real villain is the person who filmed this killing. It was really baffling to me that people could overmaster the evidence of their eyes to repeat this rubbish.

Then, I see the summary of the Right Wing Noise Machine ridiculous memes propagated by FOX and some of the CNN pundits…

…and I realize that the organizing principle here is pseudoknowledge and tribal loyalty to these Manufacturers of Thought. For a brief window of time, there were notes of sanity coming from Krauthammer, Napolitano, and even O’Reilly expressed some discomfort (though he buried it under soft-pedaling). But very quickly the narrative retrenched into the sing-song above and then got dutifully parroted through the conservative blogosphere and is now filling up comboxes across St. Blog’s. It’s remarkable to watch this nonsense get parroted and so many comboxers around St. Blog’s circle the wagons in defense of this grotesque miscarriage of justice. It’s even weirder to see the bizarre disconnect in the mind of a subculture that a few short months ago was cheering loudly as racist weirdo and thief Cliven Bundy was ginning up a shooting war with the state (aided and abetted by his dear good friend Sean Hannity). Now that same subculture is leaping to the defense of Uniformed Power Figures inflicting Sacred Violence on the weak and twisting itself into a pretzel to defend the indefensible.

There’s a reason the Right Wing Noise Machine does not encourage it’s fanboi to listen to level-headed people like Ross Douthat:

At the very least, though, we know that the overall number of homicides has dropped over the last decade, and the (again, problematic) statistics we do have show an increase in policemen killing civilians over the same period.

The purpose of the Noise Machine is not to educate or to teach thinking skills, but to manipulate, to gin up, to silence, to herd. Don’t get played.

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “Tribal loyalty” sums it up. It’s really very, very weird for me to watch news reals of riots, protests, and abusive cops from the 1960s, then turn on the news today and not see much of a difference. God have mercy on us all.

    • KM

      The attitudes of those times are eerily similar to today too. For example, after the National Guard had killed four students at Kent State in 1970, a lot of people supported and defended the National Guard, saying that the students had it coming. http://www.may4archive.org/aftermath.shtml

      • Marthe Lépine

        I guess it’s because human nature has not changed…

        • KM

          “History, with all her volumes vast, hath but one page” ― George Gordon Byron

      • Dave G.

        How many said they had it coming? Any numbers? Stats? Figures? I can’t help but notice the growing trend of a lot of people always something or else. A lot seems to be guilty of just about anything. FWIW, I remember hearing two things about the riots, since I grew up during that time near Kent State: it was horrible, and the college riots essentially stopped after that. That was all I heard here in the surrounding area. Perhaps a lot of people tend to be those farther away from the sources.

        • KM

          Dave why don’t you argue this with Mrs. Louis Schroeder, whose son William had been killed at Kent State. This comes from the link I provided:

          “Mrs. Schroeder offered the following thoughts on the nation’s reaction to the killings:

          ” ‘I think that a lot of people in America, when the kids were shot at Kent it was the same as getting revenge for the bombings at Wisconsin, or damage that was done any place where there have been bombings by any students. They were shooting the Weatherman, they were shooting members of the SDS; our four were symbolic-or the 13, let’s put it that way-were symbolic of all the destruction that had come about. They think now that because of these shootings it has stopped everything and that justifies the killing in their mind. “Well, we’ve killed four but look at all that we’ve saved since then.’”(231)

          Just because the attitudes weren’t quantified doesn’t mean that the attitudes didn’t exist. I grew up during that time, and remember the “anti-hippies” attitude certainly existed especially due to the Vietnam protests, even if people were horrified by this particular event.

          • Dave G.

            Again, my own experience. Given that many student protests were in fact violent, and many riots during that era involved destruction and violence, many may have seen this as just another case where something went horribly wrong. Where we were, the news came rather quickly that it was not the case, hence, many didn’t feel ‘they had it coming.’ Just like liberals who wantonly ignore murdered blacks when it doesn’t help advance their agendas. Often when they are closer to the actual killings, they do care more. In my little corner of the world, most I heard thought it was horrible, but again did note that over the next few years, the riots and protests and destruction that marked the previous half decade suddenly came to a halt. That’s what I remember hearing. Take it as you will.

        • KM

          Here’s more….

          President Nixon had “earlier called student protesters “bums” and in the Whitehouse tapes it was revealed that he had asked the Secret Service to beat up student protesters, and felt that the Kent State victims “had it coming”.

          “Many in America shared this “had it coming” attitude and the incident further divided the country. Incidents erupted around the country. Anti-Vietnam supporters demanded that flags be flown at half mast in respect of the slain at Kent and on the other side pro-government supporters demanding that flag’s be raised from half-mast.”

          http://www.famouspictures.org/kent-state-shooting/

      • There was a discovery of an audio tape at Kent State and a forensics analysis done in 2007. The results at present seems to be that there were several pistol shots a little more than a minute prior to the guard opening fire and there appears to have been an order given to fire.

        The right to peaceably assemble for a redress of grievances depends on the assembly being peaceable. If the guard was returning fire, that would make their use of deadly force justified. The casualties should be morally laid at the feet of whoever fired those first pistol shots.

  • petey

    “the real culprits are the people protesting this as an injustice”

    they’re the real racists

  • D.C.

    Can’t help thinking if mace or a taser were used, this guy might still be alive. John Donne was right. “Any man’s death diminishes me.” And all of us.

    • kenofken

      Those force options are reserved for confused foreign tourists, demented WW II vets, little kids and deaf guys (white ones) who don’t snap to when a cop calls them. If a black guy raises his voice, throws you a funny look, or just happens to pop into your field of vision without advance written notice, that’s cause for lethal force, in the eyes of law enforcement.

      • Dave G.

        I could read things like this all day.

  • Bob Chase

    Sometimes I think that I am passing through alternate realities without knowing it. Here is what I have seen as the main reaction. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/12/05/why-media-unlike-in-ferguson-are-united-over-staten-island-mans-death/
    Short version: pundits left and right are equally disturbed by the death and the failure to get even a manslaughter indictment.

    • Jonk

      Yeah, I’m not seeing that, either. Pretty much everyone I know is still in the realm of raging at people who are trying to excuse this one and pointing out that this is more distopian than fiction.

    • Peggy

      Doesn’t fit Mark’s narrative here.

    • Dave G.

      That’s been what I’ve noticed. At worst most seem curious about why at least it didn’t go to trial. Not that Facebook shouldn’t be the standard by which we judge groups of people or anything. But it is worth noticing the discrepancies.

    • Elaine S.

      Going mainly or only by what you see online is likely to present a very distorted picture of how people really feel.

      That said, from what I have seen online in comments at various news sites (I don’t do Facebook), there seem to be quite a few conservative-leaning people who thought the MO grand jury made the right call who also think the NY grand jury made the WRONG call (I happen to be one of them). Remember, a grand jury doesn’t determine guilt or innocence, only whether there is sufficient cause to even have a trial. The big difference between the two cases, from what I can tell, is that the Ferguson case suffered from inconclusive forensic evidence and conflicting testimony from various witnesses whose stories didn’t agree, while in the NY case the evidence appeared to be more clear cut.

      • HornOrSilk

        That’s because the fix was in with both cases. The Grand Jury is not meant to be a trial, and the prosecutor is not to show everything, but only what is to make his case. When they go and add things against their case, they are setting it up for a fall.

        • kirtking

          Is there a point to going to trial when the amount of counter-evidence is so substantial that there is no reasonable possibility of a finding of guilt? Ferguson went to a grand jury because a prosecutor was too scared/politically astute to press charges without cover.

      • Dave G.

        Yep. Since this post I’ve been looking and listening and that’s what I’ve noticed. I’m sure there are some who think it was right. But most I’ve found think it at least should have gone to trial.

  • Catholic pilgrim

    When the banks in Wall Street crashed in 2007 (causing an economic recession, major job losses, middle class people losing pensions & savings, house market failure, etc.), no police department (not Feds, not NYPD) was sent to aggressively arrest the Wall Street perpetrators. Nah, they got bailed out instead (with our Tax money btw). They were “too big to fail”. In other words, the Law shall not apply to them.
    .
    When a black man sells a couple cigarettes, all of a sudden an aggressive force of NYPD police officers is sent his way. You’ll bring down (& choke/kill) a black man for doing something as relatively insignificant as a parking violation, but you let go Wall Street bankers who EPICLY screwed the whole nation over (by not following financial regulations).
    .
    Yeah, I’d say there’s something broken in our American society & our law system.

  • That’s quite a prose poem there, Mark. You should work it up for separate publication (not being sarcastic, it’s powerful.)

  • Peggy

    I have heard/read plenty of criticism of the NY grand jury outcome in the conservative media. I think I only saw one justification. The policeman used a prohibited hold. He should have faced consequences. All for a damned cigarette tax of the Big Government crowd.

    They want Big Govt, they’ll have to have Big Police to keep the peasants in line. Ask conservatives who started tea party groups. As reporters who’ve homes have been searched by the feds. Thank God they didn’t face physical danger. Wait and see what awaits the Little Sisters if they persist in noncompliance….

    • chezami

      Peggy: I’ve been watch FB all afternoon as conservatives have been falling in line with exactly the narrative I describe here.

      • Peggy

        I don’t do facebook. I follow conservative media.

      • Jonk

        And I’ve been watching conservatives, and have seen no such thing. I’ve seen two defenses: one, by families of cops, who are understandably emotional in dealing with criticism of their loved ones who may one day not come home (I disagree with them, but I give them a pass), and the second, reminding people that prudence is a good idea when dealing with cops, and fighting them in a world where they can kill you and get away with it, is generally a bad idea. A good point, but it tends to downplay the tragedy itself.

        But that doesn’t fit the 15 Minutes of Conservative Hate we’re going for here.

    • Andy

      Here are some quotes form the conservative media that you follow

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/people-who-blame-eric-garner

      • Peggy

        Never read TPM. Guiliani is no conservative. He’s pro-abortion and a “law and order” guy. I don’t know that O’R is blaming Garner. I’ve seen little online media agreement that the decision was right. We have to live w/it. I don’t think either case was about race. Yes, it is true both were criminals and were in the process of being apprehended. No, it’s not good to resist arrest. It can put one in physical danger. But that doesn’t exonerate a cop going over the line. The issue is how far do we want cops to go to enforce the law. What laws are worth strong enforcement?

        As I’ve said on other posts, the Right is where you’ll find a diversity of thought. Some of it morally wrong. I did not say no one on the Right approved of the GJ in the Garner case.

        • Andy

          Never read TPA – only read/follow conservative media is why there is no conversations between those you think of as liberal and those who you identify as conservative. You exist in an echo chamber, like al of us to one degree or another, and that echo chamber reinforces itself with you constantly. Try reading and looking at what other people say and think – you might be surprised. I would add that although you do not identify Guiliana as conservative the conservative media does, and the other folks in the article are equally as identified as conservative.

          • Peggy

            I read lots of mainstream and movement liberal press. No reason to read TPM. Many aggregator sites cull articles from all over that have actual news or offer good and even ridiculous opinions. I read a lot. Just haven’t come across TPM.

            Quit putting people in a box, as Mark is wont to do.

            • Andy

              And please don’t people in bad as you are won’t to do – especially with those you perceive as liberal

              • Peggy

                I have called no one liberal. What are you talking about? Are there some words missing in your comment? The word is “wont” by the way…no apostrophe.

                I will call Mark Shea unfair and incomplete in his reporting. That’s pretty polite. I am not the only reader here who is calling him out on painting the Right with a broad brush time and again. I don’t know what political affiliation he is. I am not engaging in taxonomy.

                • Andy

                  First thank you for the correction – unfortunately auto-correct a does arthritis when using an iPad gets in the way. Let restate – from the discussion of Rick Perry and the death penalty – from you What deviations from pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-birth control mandate, pro-amnesty, etc., pro-budget-busting spending have you heard on the left? There are a variety of views on these issues in the GOP and the right in general. The Dems/left do not permit dissent, particularly on social issues. – Broad brush statement

                  Pretty much putting Dems in a box – from the same discussion: It’s easy to observe the lockstep nature of the Left. Their fealty to their agenda is impressive, except bad for our nation. Again a broad brush statement

                  That is the issue – not that Mark doesn’t do that or that others don’t do that – we all do that,

                  • Peggy

                    I showed there that some leading conservatives asked Perrry to commute the execution. It is documentable that Dems are rare who oppose those matters I’ve raised. The last pro-life Dem was kicked off the stage of the convention, I think 1992. Kane and Casey are faux pro-life. Manchin from WV dared to cross O on a few things. Got back in line. Now, as O’s days are numbered and his damage to the party is becoming clearer, there may be more dissension in the ranks on his agenda, but not on the Left’s agenda. But they go full boar for the left agenda. I stand by my statement. There is no deviation from those positions of the Left by any leading figures of the Left. Any one may remain in play even if they commit unthinkable crimes so long as they support the Left’s agenda. The minute a person is a liability to the Left agenda, he must go. Did you see how quickly Landrieu was abandoned? The moderate Dem party is dead. Our own pro-life Dem Congressoid retired a few years back. A hack won in ’12, and a GOP movement guy (I hope) won this fall. First time a GOP in 70+ years.

                    The Left is a very evil agenda and it’s more than a pol’s self-preservation. The Right consists of the pols who are not in it for an agenda beyond self-preservation. We see that a lot. There are movement pols and movement media/public figures. Even within the movement people you will see a variety of viewpoints. Many are pro-amnesty, pro-increasing legal immigration; and many are not. There are pro-life and pro-abortion people on the Right. Some are pro-gay marriage even, to the dismay of some on the Right. Those issues have standard Left positions that have no acceptable gray areas to the Left.

                • chezami

                  I’ve put nobody in a box here. I’ve pointed out the bleeding obvious fact that there is one and only one demographic you have to look to in order to find those busy making lousy arguments to try to downplay, ignore, deflect, and justify this outrageous grand jury finding. It does not follow that all conservatives are doing it. In fact, I specifically point out that some are protesting it. But the *only* demographic generating these arguments is, as ever, conservatism, or what’s left of it.

                  • Peggy

                    You say it’s St Blogs and Facebook where you see this stuff. Are these Catholics? Do they have “conservative” membership cards? Are they just average guys and gals who for whatever reason have taken such a thoughtless view? There is no leadership or public person who is leading the charge to blame the victim here. You are talking about rank and file people left to their own devices–and they may call themselves whatever they want. The “movement” is not on board with such a position.

                    The NYC left endorsed the use of force by imposing the cigarette tax arguably. They wanted their tax. They wanted increased enforcement just a few weeks before the incident. The left is in denial that they support a strong police force. The situation didn’t go as planned. They’re gonna need it with all the impositions on our freedom they are working on.

                    I don’t know what expertise you can claim to make assertions about conservatism and the like. I think you’re out of your area of expertise, frankly. I don’t claim such expertise myself, frankly.

  • Jassuz8

    I believe that that officer should have loosened his grip and that something clearly went wrong in the NY case. I don’t know why the grand jury made the decision it did, but a lot of people disagreed with it, both on the left and right. As you said, Bill O’Reilly did express his concerns about it. Although, I do not always agree with him on other issues. I am also not a fan of Sean Hannity or Megan Kelly. But, on Fox, I’m a huge fan of Greta VanSusteren. She is fair. Not that any of that matters…just wanted to present a glimpse of where my belief-system fits in what you describe as the “noise machine.”

    Ironically, I believe that Cliven Bundy deserves a defense as well. If people had listened to all of what he said, maybe…just maybe some on the right would have come together on comprehensive immigration reform. He started a discussion, and he seemed to have been pushing for reform in the full context of his comments, which were written off as racist. Unfortunately, because he presented his thoughts with such extreme non-politically-correct terms (some would say ignorant terms), people missed out on the things he said which offered actual wisdom. He was trying to get through to the “right-wing” that the minority groups should be on their side…he felt that we’d failed to offer them their actual freedom.

    You have to read all of it to understand what he actually said:

    I was in the WATTS riot, I seen the beginning fire and I
    seen the last fire. What I seen is civil disturbance. People are not happy,
    people is thinking they did not have their freedom; they didn’t have these
    things, and they didn’t have them.”

    “We’ve progressed quite a bit from that day until now, and
    sure don’t want to go back; we sure don’t want the colored people to go back to
    that point; we sure don’t want the Mexican people to go back to that point; and
    we can make a difference right now by taking care of some of these
    bureaucracies, and do it in a peaceful way.”

    “And I’ve often wondered are they were better off as slaves,
    picking cotton and having a family life and doing things? Or are they better
    off under government subsidy?”

    “You know they didn’t get more freedom, uh they got less
    freedom – they got less family life, and their happiness -you could see it in
    their faces- they were not happy sitting on that concrete sidewalk. Down there they was probably growing their turnips – so that’s all government, that’s not freedom.”

    “Now, let me talk about the Spanish people. You know I
    understand that they come over here against our constitution and cross our
    borders. But they’re here and they’re people – and I’ve worked side-by-side a
    lot of them.”

    “Don’t tell me they don’t work, and don’t tell me they don’t
    pay taxes. And don’t tell me they don’t have better family structure than most
    of us white people. When you see those Mexican families, they’re together, they
    picnic together, they’re spending their time together, and I’ll tell you in my
    way of thinking they’re awful nice people.”

    “And we need to have those people join us and be with us….
    not, not come to our party.”

    Regarding “the spanish people,” I agree with Cliven Bundy 100%. I hope that we will pull together for comprehensive immigration reform. We need the kind of dialogue that Cliven Bundy was trying to offer – even though it was done imperfectly. That doesn’t mean that he was right about the fines he failed to pay. But, he was mischaracterized in the media.

  • Elmwood

    sean hannity represents everything wrong with catholic conservatives.

  • virago

    I have no idea where you get your conservative news from but if it is Facebook then that is unfortunate. You do paint with a broad brush when it comes to conservatism and it seems prejudicial at times. When I first started reading you I didn’t see the liberal bias that I do now. This is just in your blogging, your books don’t reveal that, well, not the ones I’ve read so far.

  • LFM

    Most of the conservative reports I’ve seen on this issue do nothing of the kind you describe, and in fact insist that this tragedy was different from the one in Ferguson.

  • Rob B.

    I say a plague on both conservative and liberal media and prayers for the dead, those that killed them, and the communities who suffer the consequences of both.