Seven initial reactions

Seven initial reactions November 15, 2011

1. When your actions are lawful, honorable and just, you perform them in the light of day. You have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide. You don’t need to seek out publicity and the camera’s eye, but you have no cause to avoid them because you can be proud of your actions, knowing them to be lawful, honorable and just.

2. If your actions are such that you perform them in the dark of night, avoiding cameras and witnesses or even employing the threat of force to ensure secrecy, then it is obvious to all — to you and to everyone else — that your actions are not lawful, not honorable and not just.

3. The only exception I can think of to the previous statement is the tactical secrecy sometimes necessary for a military assault against a powerful enemy.

4. Police are not soldiers and citizens are not their enemy. When police come to imagine otherwise, they become, by their own declaration, the enemies of the public they were commissioned to serve. This is the opposite of what police are supposed to be, the opposite of why police are commissioned as police. Police who regard the public they are commissioned to serve as “the enemy” have forfeited any legitimate claim to their arms and badges.

5. The police officer in this photograph was commissioned “to serve and protect” the public. In this photograph, he is doing neither of those things.

6. One might argue that the police officer in this photograph is “serving,” but that who or what he is serving is something other than the public and the public interest. Charlie Pierce offers such an argument:

Your right to peaceably assemble for the redress of grievances, and how you may do it, and what you may say, will be defined by the police power of the state, backed by its political establishment and the business elite. They will define “acceptable” forms of public protest, even (and especially) public protest against them. …

Late last night, the New York Police Department, apparently decked out for a confrontation with the Decepticons, cleared Zuccotti Park of the campers who had occupied it for nearly three months. It was, as all of these things have been, a fully militarized operation, launched with a maximum of surprise by armored tactical police who even brought a helicopter, in case they needed air support.

7. The police officer in the photograph above is very angry. I believe he is angry because he was ordered to do what he is doing in the dark of night, hidden from the press or other witnesses, and thus he knows that what he was ordered to do is something other than lawful, honorable and just. And I believe that he is angry because, realizing that, he chose to skulk about in the dark following those orders anyway, and thus he has just learned something unpleasant about himself.


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  • Typical liberal softy.

  • Maybe every poster in these threads is a machine programmed to make comments consisting of a random string of characters that keep coincidentally resembling actual human thought.

    I would own up to that.  I do get confused by some captchas on occasion, leading me to wonder if I am a machine programmed to think itself human.  Not likely, but certainly possible.  

    It would explain a lot about me though.  

  • Anonymous

    Regarding productivity, I’m more interested in efficiency. Not doing more with fewer people, but doing more with fewer resources. Too often, it seems “standard of living” is looked at directly in terms of how much income you can spend, rather than what actually gets done with any amount of money (armor against wind/heat/chill, warding off disease, peace of mind, etc.). While I can understand going after luxuries because they genuinely make you feel better, buying something just to trumpet how powerful/rich you are is a different story. Can the latter sort of luxury, the luxury that acts not to further buffer one’s mental well-being but merely to evoke awe, really be said to be in support of the possessor’s standard of living? Or at least, an objective standard of living? The awe seems only to serve to push down others, both the less wealthy and one’s peers, with a mix of envy, fatalism, and worry. A “greater” standard of living, but only if the lowered-by-worry floor is your main comparative point.

  • Anonymous

    Your luxuries of awe ties into the somebody’s got to lose mentality I’ve seen from conservatives (and MMO players).  There’s something deeply wrong (I think) with the idea that something is valuable only because other people don’t have it.  It’s one thing to want an original Picasso (for example) because you absolutely love Picasso and you want to feel close to your favorite artist and something else entirely to want an original Picasso because most people don’t have one and only you will have that one.  When people – as a disturbing number of conservatives have – start applying that mentality to things like health care, you enter into a whole new realm of deeply wrong.

  • konrad_arflane

    I realize the discussion has moved on a bit, but I think the reason Frank Miller is “thought highly of in comic book circles” is that he’s very good at making comic books. Even when the content of those comic books is pretty nasty, the technical quality of the execution is top-notch. It’s a lot like Wagner is “thought highly of in opera circles”, even though he was by most accounts a fairly nasty piece of work (and, I suspect, could give Miller a run for his money in the misogyny department).

  • I can’t offer any intelligent commentary about the post itself unfortunately, or OWS in general. It’s sort of like when I kept seeing stories about Bradley Manning; the realization that the United States of America, now, is like this is a crushing blow to the hope I hold for this country and its people. It is the very death of hope I see when I look at American policemen beating the shit out of Occupiers because they can. The knowledge that a sizable portion of the country are cheering that on when it happens is even worse. I’ll get better, but I offer nothing but shock, horror, and despair for the moment.

    About the thread, though, I do have something to add.We’ve got yet more proof that engaging with traitors like drhowarddrfine is pointless. This specific conservative showed a very common tactic; deliver his one big torpedo and then break off his attack run as quickly as possible. He did stick around to get kicked around by his betters for a while, though, instead of fucking off immediately. I’m not sure which I would prefer. It’s annoying when they leave one post then vanish, but it’s obvious that trying to engage them like human beings accomplishes nothing.

    Here’s where other liberals, better and more charitable people than I, might try and prove the libertarian dipshit wrong and help him see more clearly. Fuck that.

    Ahem.

    To drhowarddrfine directly, then, my message is fairly simple: You’re lying and you know you’re lying. Everybody else does, as well. Your opinion is monstrous, even though, or perhaps especially because, it’s utterly hollow. I hope one day that your libertarian ass is on the wrong side of authoritarian violence in a deeply personal and bodily way. I hope, more directly, you have your face smashed in by a police baton. You’re probably shielded from that possibility to some degree or another by some levels of privilege, wealth or status you enjoy, like almost all libertarians, unfortunately, but I guess I’ve found something to hope for from this thread.

  • Anonymous

    Last semester, I had an Economics class– the professor was a former bank CEO. We clashed frequently, but generally without ire; he was more than happy to allow a dissenting opinion to be heard, as long as it wasn’t just babbling nonsense, and I respected him for that. The part that stuck in my mind was when he was at one point baffled by everyone raising an eyebrow at the idea of corporations controlling the market (or something– context was not the sticking point). “I don’t understand where the popular opinion of corporate executives as soulless monsters has come from,” he said. “We’re not spawned without hearts. Nobody wants to see their fellow man starve to death in the street. Nobody wants to see people lose their homes, or get sick and die.” It just threw me, completely. I remember thinking “Does he not realize that the abstract numbers execs play with represent real people?” and then, later, wondering if it was blissful ignorance or some cruel naivete that kept him from realizing that just because he cared about his fellow human beings really, really did not mean that all, or even a significant majority, of corporate executives did. In fact, if memory serves, psychologists have determined that the opposite is provably true.

    Iunno. I think a significant portion of the 1% are sociopaths who just don’t care about the rabble on the street, their lives, their homes, their children. Then I think there are some who do– and they’ve stepped up, a la Bruce Springsteen. Then there are a handful who are… I don’t know how to put it, because it has to be willful ignorance. I cannot imagine really never connecting the dots to realize the consequences of your actions like that.

    Now I don’t remember what comment sparked this, nor the point it was making. But it’s… interesting.

  • Iunno. I think a significant portion of the 1% are sociopaths who just don’t care about the rabble on the street, their lives, their homes, their children. Then I think there are some who do– and they’ve stepped up, a la Bruce Springsteen. Then there are a handful who are… I don’t know how to put it, because it has to be willful ignorance. I cannot imagine really never connecting the dots to realize the consequences of your actions like that.

    I think that many of them do have hearts, many of them do want to see the economic situation improved for everyone’s sake… but I think that they are also afraid.  They are afraid that they are culpable, complicit in the situation that caused all this suffering to begin with.  This is not just out of a sense of guilt, a sense of “I’m sorry,” but because actually owning up to that and doing something to change it would be an admission that they were part of a class of income earners who screw up.  They were wrong, and the money they have been pulling in might not be justified by their own efforts.  

    That tends to hamstring a lot of them from actually stepping up, opening their figurative vaults, and getting things running again.  

  • Anonymous

    Ron Paul. I also have a supportive web site. So I’ve already done more than 99% of the occupiers.

    So you’re politically involved. That don’t impress me much. What have you done towards creating a more economically and socially just world? Me, I constantly make sure the folk who’re supposed to represent my interests in Congress know what my interests are, I contribute to the local food bank and I’ll be volunteering there Saturday, I contribute to the local volunteer legal fund for people who can’t afford a lawyer, I contribute to EMILY’s List which helps elect candidates aligned with my interests, and I’m not stupid enough to support a candidate who’s openly in favor of wealth concentrating at the top. See also, Ron Paul and his brilliant plan to replace the income tax with a national sales tax.

    I’m not an occupier, but only because I can’t afford to miss work to go hold up a “Honk if you’re the 99%” sign with my Occupy Hometown group. I do identify with the movement.

  • Tonio

    I think a significant portion of the 1% are sociopaths who just don’t
    care about the rabble on the street, their lives, their homes, their
    children.

    I suspect it’s the “too many years, too many limousines” phenomenon as described by Molly Ivins. What impressed me about Versailles was not just the monstrous excess, but also the monstrous feeding of the royal egos. When the gate to your home depicts you as a child, in gold, of course you’re going to think of yourself as more than human. Louis XIV may have admired himself in the Hall of Mirrors and said, “Mmmm, I feel especially kingly today.” Not difficult to imagine the 1% in the US having a similar sense of isolation from people far less wealthy than themselves.

  • P J Evans

     As a Libertarian, you shouldn’t ask for help. You should be able to do everything your own self. Including surgery.

  • Lori
  • Anonymous

    See what I mean about all the assumptions occupiers make. Occupiers can’t see beyond their own nose and proof is all over this thread.

  • I think perhaps drhowarddrfine is actually having a conversation with the Bizarro-world analog of Slacktivist, while everyone else is responding to him here. That’s the most charitable explanation I can come up with for his/her post’s total logical disconnect from the rest of the thread.

    The bit about “Occupiers can’t see beyond their own nose and proof is all over this thread” only makes sense if drhowarddrfine defines “Occupiers” as everyone who isn’t drhowarddrfine; if “beyond their own nose” is defined as “the space between drhowarddrfine’s ears”; and if “proof” is defined as… ok, there I give up.

    Also I have no idea what “assumptions” means in Bizarro-dictionary. I mean, I know what it means here, where the sky is by turns blue and black, but it must mean something utterly different under the strange skies upon the planet drhowarddrfine occupies for the word to make any sort of sense in the post he/she just posted. Because for drhowardrfine to make any statement about how far-sighted the Occupiers (whom we define as those participating in Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and vigils) are, drhowarddrfine would have to make a lot of assumptions about what they can see and what they can’t. And yet drhowarddrfine is accusing the rest of the thread of making assumptions?

    Two conversations in two separate languages that happen to utilize a lot of false cognates. They obtain the illusion of a single conversation only by the chance of their meeting at a rift in space and time. That’s my theory.

  • Lori

    My guess is that we’ve been deemed horrible for assuming that a person working in support of R*n P*aul is a Libertarian. Because it’s ridiculous to think that a person working to elect a self-described Libertarian is himself a Libertarian. Which brings us back to my comment about the confusion demonstrated by P*ul supporters. A comment which drhowarddrfine didn’t address at all. 

    Another picture that I guess we’re not supposed to use to form opinions about the behavior of the NYPD:

    http://twitpic.com/7fdq9r

    The NYPD has deployed a L-RAD or Long-Range Acoustic Device against the Wall Street protesters. There are also reports and video coming out that police are basically arresting people indiscriminately, and that they don’t seem to be making much distinction between protesters and the press. Several reporters with press credentials displayed have been struck by police and others have been arrested. The NYPD seems to be going fully militarized for this action. I guess that’s because they feel really threatened and afraid. There must be a major epidemic of brick throwers hovering just outside the frame. Truly amazing how they’re so easily able to stay out of pictures. 

    Labor unions are planning to join OWS this evening at 5, which will substantially increase the already large protest. I suspect that this is going to get very ugly. My thoughts are with everyone facing the NYPD today. 

  • That’s completely impossible, Nicole. What are the odds that this would happen here several times?

  • Anonymous

    Of course, I don’t think we need the omni-benevolent AIs.

    Omni-benevolent up to the point anyone might possibly challenge their supremacy :)

    If we were willing to expend the effort to get it we would have basically no shortage of raw materials or energy.

    Unfortunately, we are *not* willing to spend the effort.  We can’t generate sufficient power without using nuclear power, turning the atlantic ocean into a solar panel/wind farm, or starting a dyson array.  Fortunately, material resources are largely adequate, especially with judicious use of recycling. The difference between Star Trek and our world is that they have FTL.

    Sure, they may be a society of techno-anarchic free-love space hippies, but they are techno-anarchic free-love space hippies with really big sticks. the pets of godlike AIs with really big sticks.

    *Why five? Is that the magic number that justifies a cop going Full Metal Rager on unarmed civilians? I didn’t get that memo.

    I think it’s roughly number of protesters easily visible in the photo.  But in any case, one person can be serious threat, even to someone who’s armed (especially if you (quite reasonably) don’t want to kill anyone, and it’s not exactly reasonable to call on people to excercise judicious control of their facial expressions in a fight.  I don’t know if that’s actually what happened (and it probably isn’t), but responding to an attack violently is not unreasonable.

    And that police officer is *mad*.  He is *enraged*.  So sorry, I don’t give a flying fuck if he was attacked. That’s the deal we made as a civilization: he puts on the uniform, and we grant him certain extraordinary powers. And in return, part of the deal is that he does not get to react out of rage while he’s wearing that uniform.  No matter what. I don’t give a fuck if he was provoked. I don’t give a fuck if he was in FEAR FOR HIS LIFE. He wears the uniform. He gave up being allowed to beat the shit out of someone because he’s scared and angry when he put that uniform on.

    Wearing a police uniform does not mean you have to be a punching bag for anyone, nor that you are required to be some kind of a monk-esque emotionless warrior when you do fight.  ‘Beat people down like a madman’ is rarely an effective strategy, but I don’t think it’s fair to judge someone for *looking angry*.Which all, of course, has nothing to do with the exact context of the picture, which more than likely *was* ‘a cop beating a guy down for no legitimate reason’.

    I would own up to that.  I do get confused by some captchas on occasion, leading me to wonder if I am a machine programmed to think itself human.  Not likely, but certainly possible. 
    It would explain a lot about me though.

    It might.  But hey, at least you can almost pass the Turing test.  : P

  • Kukulkan

    BaseDeltaZero wrote:

    I think it’s roughly number of protesters easily visible in the photo.  But in any case, one person can be serious threat, even to someone who’s armed (especially if you (quite reasonably) don’t want to kill anyone, and it’s not exactly reasonable to call on people to excercise judicious control of their facial expressions in a fight.  I don’t know if that’s actually what happened (and it probably isn’t), but responding to an attack violently is not unreasonable.

    Getting dressed up in riot gear and storming into an area where people are living and sleeping is not “responding” to an attack. It’s “initiating” an attack. Claiming self-defense in such circumstances is disingenuous at best.

    Wearing a police uniform does not mean you have to be a punching bag for anyone, nor that you are required to be some kind of a monk-esque emotionless warrior when you do fight.

    How was he being “a punching bag” for anyone? Other than drhowarddrfine’s fantasy about thrown bricks, there’s been nothing to suggest that.

    To quote EllieMurasaki:

          [citation needed]
     

  • another pic of the retired police chief at OWS:

    http://imgur.com/gallery/RJOQV

  • Then there’s the video of the Iraq war vet getting beat up by the Oakland police on the 2nd of this month. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/nov/18/occupy-oakland-veteran-beaten-police-video

    At around 1:14 you’ll notice one of the riot cops pointing a weapon at the camera man. 

  • Anonymous

    As I said (or at least tried to) I suspect the actual situation was a clear-cut case of police brutality (I can’t say for sure, because I don’t know anything about the incident).  I was responding to hypothetical raised by other comments: One unarmed person is a danger, even to an armed officer, and I don’t believe that the police have an obligation to act as perfect examples of stoicism at all times. 

    Again, this probably doesn’t apply to the specific situation at hand – I can’t say for certain that the officer in the image was acting inappropriately, but I strongly suspect he was. And as for riot gear… I kind of agree – riot supression tactics are… well, not good, really, but servicable for surpressing riots. When dealing with a peaceable protest, it’s both a gross overreaction and ineffective at actually policing the situation. (although keeping riot forces on hand wouldn’t be ill-advised). 

  • Lori

    One unarmed person is a danger, even to an armed officer, and I don’t
    believe that the police have an obligation to act as perfect examples of
    stoicism at all times. 

    You are “responding” to things that no one said. No one has said
    anything remotely like “police have an obligation to act as perfect
    examples of
    stoicism at all times”. There is a huge amount of very critical ground
    between perfect stoicism and out of control rage.

    Yes, a single person can be a threat. However, if an armed police officer considers one unarmed person to be such a danger that s/he is so fearful that s/he flies into a rage, s/he is in the wrong damned line of work.

    More to the point, there is zero evidence that the officer in the picture we’ve been discussion had any reason to feel threatened. I don’t know if he did feel threatened, because I’m not a mind reader. What I do know is that if he did, it says more about him and his attitudes than it does about the situation.

    And before someone climbs on the “you don’t know what you’d do” excuse train, I have a fairly good idea. Because of my previous job doing social work with juveniles I have actually been in situations where I was outnumbered by angry young people who were acting in a threatening manner and who might have wanted to hurt me. The difference between me and that cop is that I was totally unarmed. I still never found it necessary to hit any of them, not did I wish to do so.

    And speaking of claims, against all evidence and logic, about police feeling threatened by unarmed protesters that they were forced to resort to violence: meet the David, California police force.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/pepper-spray-brutality-at-uc-davis/248764/?&utm_content=Google+Reader

    Note the officer in full riot gear noncelantly pepper spraying college kids in the face. Note his fellow officers standing behind him. Do they look frightened beyond the ability to respond without violence? Because that’s what they’re claiming. Those unarmed kids sitting calmly on the ground were supposedly pepper sprayed in the face because the cops felt so threatened by the unarmed crowd watching them.

    As Fallows notes, there’s a legitimate discussion to be had about the right of peaceful protest vs the right of other people to use a public space and the right of institutions to control their property. That has nothing to do with what the Davis PD did.
     

  • BaseDeltaZero:

    Police forces with full riot gear and enough weaponry to outfit a private army.

    Unarmed civilian protesters.

    Force multipliers, do you fucking understand them?

  • P J Evans

     Another picture of police being attacked:
    http://yfrog.com/kkazxzhj

  • P J Evans

     Here’s another picture of police being attacked.
    http://www.tumblr.com/photo/1280/13004183064/1/tumblr_luwdnp4plT1qzlfum
    Notice what they’re defending.

  • P J Evans

    Doesn’t look like it.
    (The picture of the single officer walking down the line of seated, unarmed, unresisting demonstrators, shooting them in the face with pepper spray, ought to be enough.)

  • They’re handling Occupy much better in Scotland. In both Glasgow and Edinburgh the reaction seems to have been “Huh we have protestors camping out and they’re in the way of x event. What should we do? I know let’s ask them politely to move their camp.”

    http://occupyedinburgh.org/news/protesters-agree-to-move-tents-and-seek-council-support/

    http://www.occupyglasgow.org/news/23-occupy-glasgow-spreading-awareness-now-in-kelvingrove-park.html

    Meanwhile in England OccupyLSX has repossessed a bank… http://www.bankofideas.org.uk/ while for the Saint Paul’s Encampment loves the sound of deadlines as they zoom past (with apologies to douglas adams) http://occupylsx.org/?p=1205 and there has been a meeting of all UK occupations http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/nov/19/occupy-london-protesters-ideas-bank but things definitely seem tenser down here.

    And in Wales … well http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/11/488403.html?c=on but also http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8899083/Archbishop-of-Wales-invites-protestors-to-camp-at-his-catherdral.html