Metal, hate, and hypocrisy

So back in April of last year, Metal Injection posted an article about Inquisition (which was inspired by this post by Jonsan van Johnson) implying that the band members are Nazis, based upon a story told by Daniel Gallant, a driver during one of their early tours. You can click on either link to view it, but I’ll post it here for the sake of simplicity:

“I was a white supremacist for many years. I have been out for twelve years. I drove the bus for an Inquisition tour. When I suspected they were white power, because I was driving for my friends band Gyibaaw, a First Nations band, I decided to prove it.

I pulled off my t shirt and there it was…my giant swastika for them all to see…they clapped and cheered…Inquisition (both Tom and Jason) were thrilled.

They boasted about their admiration for Hitler, how they loved the white power movement, and had many friends from South America and Everett, Washington…turns out we had mutual acquaintances. Tom used to hang out with the World Church of the Creator and still boasts his admiration for the church. Jason boldly stated he loves imagining living in the Nazi era and wished that would happen in America. They ranted until I shut them down.

The band Gyibaaw were grossly offended to the point of backing away from the black metal scene because of it.”

Now, I understand that this is one story from one man with no verification, and while I have my own opinions on the incident, I’m not here to talk about Inquisition specifically (although for those interested, Decibel conducted follow-up  interviews with Dagon of Inquisition and Daniel Gallant), but rather the all-too-common response given by some of those in the metal community.

Metal has always been something that’s existed on the fringes of public acceptance; from Black Sabbath to Judas Priest to Slayer, there’s always been a negative stigma attached to the genre in the mainstream. And to be fair, it’s certainly a reputation that metal bands and their fans have openly courted at times. Over the decades, artists have continued to push moral boundaries, adhering to the old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Any external criticism is met with scorn; the idea being that metal was not created for the masses and does not seek nor require their approval. The more extreme and outlandish, the better.

But there is a line (albeit a blurry one) between singing about “dark” topics such as suicide and satanism, and openly espousing bigoted beliefs. Racism in metal is nothing new, and while there are bands that will openly share such outdated views, most (I hope) don’t subscribe to those ideals. But every once in a while someone will “accidentally” make a controversial statement that gets picked up by the blogosphere, leading to responses that mostly fit into one of two categories. See if you can guess which group I’m taking issue with:

  1. Really? That’s disgusting, to hell with this band
  2. Metal’s supposed to be about hatred, if you don’t like it don’t listen!!!

…Yea. This response, essentially saying “too bad if this offends you, I’m not offended so you’re wrong and I’m right,” is an internet epidemic and can be found anywhere, regardless of topic. And yes, you are completely entitled to your (ignorant) opinion, but it doesn’t make you any less of a mouth-breathing caveman. Especially in metal, where you’ll find some of the most thin-skinned people you’ll ever have the misfortune of coming across. A band changes its sound to something slightly more accessible? False metal! A metalhead admits to liking popular, non-metal music? Poser! But if someone points out that Malevolent Creation (over 248,000 fans on Facebook!) guitarist Phil Fasciana drops a stupid amount of n-bombs in an old interview, including this gem:

“You know I hate niggers. You know that’s the way the band is.  But you know, we got a lot of nigger fans… Even when we do make some racist slurs, we keep them pretty hidden…  I don’t dislike black people.  I’ve got a lot of black friends, but they’re not niggers.  There’s niggers, and then there’s black people.”

(The interview is conveniently explained by whoever edited the band’s Wikipedia page: “However, the context of the interview does leave little doubt that many of the comments in it weren’t meant to be taken seriously.” Oh, ok. In that case, carry on), or that the band end’s the track “They Breed” off of 1995’s Eternal with:

Always wanting, always taking
What was never yours
Someday you will feel the hate
You fucking niggers

then you’ll be told to mellow out, it was just a joke, metal’s all about pushing boundaries, quit being such a pussy, etc. Varg Vikernes, a convicted murderer and blatant white nationalist is revered within the black metal scene, despite using hate speech too blunt for even Donald Trump. Disma will complain about the fact that “Non metal PC bands got a “Death Metal” band kicked off a “Death Metal” fest, while ignoring that this happened because of an interview with their vocalist about his old band Sturmfuhrer (he claims that he no longer has those views, but was still autographing copies of the album as recently as a few years ago). “Metalheads will complain about the fact that society views them as outsiders, but will then turn around and exclude anyone that doesn’t disagree with them. (I shouldn’t have to clarify this, but this is the internet, with no shortage of those that struggle with reading comprehension: I’m not referring to all metalheads. Hell I’m not even referring to a majority; most of the people I’ve met at shows have been awesome, and I’ve never had a negative interaction with a band member). These people are more upset at Celtic Frost for putting out Cold Lake than they are at some brainless moron spouting off views that have no place in the current century.

But hey, maybe it’s easy for you to “chill out” and ignore the hate because it doesn’t affect you. To them, racism is simply traffic in the oncoming lane; something viewed in passing, paired with a brief thought of “sucks for them, glad I’m not dealing with that.” But some of us don’t have the good fortune to be able to just ignore it. You’ve never walked by guys at a local show with Totenkopf and SS badges on their vests. You’ve never seen the guy handing out flyers imploring people to save the white race. You’ve never seen the line of skinheads proudly Sieg Heiling at a Slayer show during “War Ensemble” and thought to yourself “Hmm, maybe I should move?” You’ve never heard the guy standing about a foot behind you dropping n-bombs as he tells his friends jokes, while they all laugh along with him. You’ve never known the feeling of always being on guard at a show, because this might be the one where someone does something more than just giving you a dirty look. Unfortunately, that’s a luxury that those of us born with the “wrong” skin color simply don’t have. It’s unfortunate that so many can’t wrap their heads around the simple concept of “just because something doesn’t offend you doesn’t mean it’s offensive.”

I say all of this as someone that loves metal. I’ve spent over half of my life as a fan of the genre, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to take a real hard look at things. Early on I wanted to be a part of this movement so much and feel included, but that feeling has dissipated over the years, due to my own evolving tastes in music, as well as seeing more of the ugliness that’s woven within the fanbase. For all the talk of unity and brotherhood, there’s this overwhelming feeling of exclusivity. Newcomers aren’t always welcomed; at best they’re shunned for whatever entry-level taste in music they have (as if anyone just jumps into the deep end). I wish the genre was more welcoming, because I’m certain that many others have come across the things I’ve written about and just abandoned it completely, which is a shame. If you see the hate within and the casual indifference in response to it, why would you want to be a part of this community?

I’ve struggled in the past with the question of art vs. artist, and I still don’t have a great answer. But there has to be a line somewhere, and everyone that feels otherwise is causing more harm than good to an art form that they claim to love. When it comes to hate, silence is approval and indifference is acceptance. Don’t tolerate it, don’t try to justify it, don’t minimize the impact. Speak the fuck up and hold these people accountable.

And to bring it back to the band that inspired this post, why does it matter if Inquisition is racist or not? What’s the big deal if band x is NS but keeps it out of their music? I don’t want to support that. Making good music doesn’t make up for being a horrible person, and it’s foolish to think otherwise. If you’re gonna go ahead and maintain these views, please, just own it. Don’t try to say that your words were misinterpreted, or that you were just joking (because we all know that you’re doing it for PR, not out of any genuine remorse), just be the asshole that you are. Make it that much easier for me to ignore you.

Posted in Music, Observation, Personal | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back at it

I’ve been meaning to write for so long. I carry around my little notebook, I jot down ideas and topics and questions all the time, telling myself “as soon as I get home…” and other conditional shit with which I never follow through. So I’m just gonna sit here and force myself to write, with no real topic in mind.

What am I listening to? Excellent question:

Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlists have changed my life. Pandora (along with Spotify’s radio stations) always gave me the vibe of “people that like x also like y,” which casts too wide a net for my liking. But these? I have no idea what specific criteria is used, but even beyond the above example with similar artists, this is introducing me to stuff I never woulda listened to otherwise. There was even a k-pop song about two weeks back that had it’s turn on the “repeat: 1” ride. Going against what I’ve been saying for years, I’m curious about sampling music, because I think it’d be a great learning experience (but I’m still not giving up on organic, homegrown beats). I’d never heard this track before, but I’d heard it sampled by Flatbush Zombies, and it’s always been a trip to me hearing a full track after being exposed to some warped version of it. I’ve got a couple of lists scattered around with my ideal sampling targets (ranging from songs to video game sounds to random noises), and hearing the transformation in a song like this kinda helps me sonically visualize what I’d like to do with some of em.

I love soul music, I love this old school sound. Basslines can lead a song, and the word “groove” is given a life it’s barely had since.

I might just have to do more of these random pop-ins to get myself re-accustomed with writing. Lord knows I’ve got a bunch to say on a bunch of stuff. But that can wait; right now, it’s all about the music.

Posted in Music, Observation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Thoughts of Thinking.

This is just gonna be some freeform shit, so if there are a bunch of errors or it gets too rambly, my bad.

  • I read the story that the relatives of the Charleston shooting victims have forgiven the killer. And I know that’s a religious thing, and more power to them (it takes a lot to reach that point), but he doesn’t deserve forgiveness. He doesn’t deserve pity, he doesn’t deserve to be humanized. If he ever gets to a point where he realizes the full impact of his actions, I don’t want him to be able to think “well…the families forgave me, so that helps.” Dude doesn’t deserve any help. He needs to wear that shame and guilt for the rest of his fucking life.
  • I don’t get racism. I mean, I know it exists, I know it continues to exist for no good reason, but I don’t get it. I’m reading a book by Daryl Davis called Klan-destine Relations, in which he becomes acquainted with several members of the KKK and essentially researches the organization. He continues to meet with members of higher and higher status, gaining access to people and places that most would spent an insane amount of effort to avoid. Why does he do it? He states that since he first experienced racism as a child, he was driven by the question “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” And that’s where I am, that’s the part that I don’t get. There’s no logic in having these preconceptions about a group of people based on things like race, gender, sexuality, etc. A person is a person; we’re all capable of amazing things as well as horrible acts. And the path we chose is based on the decisions we make in our lives…not where we came from, not what we look like, none of that irrelevant shit. Yet there are these massive clusters of people that believe otherwise.
  • You can lay out all the facts, arguments to every point a racist makes, and they may as well be written in hieroglyphics. They don’t see the hypocrisy in their words or actions, they don’t see the flaws in their lines of thinking, they only see the one truth that they believe with such devotion. It’s like a fucking cult, the way you can just have this insane level of selective hearing.
  • Trayvon Martin dying was a reflection of black culture and hoodies. That’s what he gets for looking suspicious to this jack-off on the neighborhood watch. Mike Brown dying was a reflection of black culture and crime. Stealing cigarillos? Sentenced to death. He shouldn’t have broken the law. Eric Garner, the nerve of that guy. Selling loose cigarettes is against the law and he got what was coming to him. It’s so typical of black people, always breaking the law and then complaining when the law strikes back. Walter Scott shouldn’t have run. Freddie Gray shouldn’t have run. Tamir Rice should’ve stayed home and played indoors. John Crawford shouldn’t have picked up the air rifle. But this douche in Charleston was misguided. He simply lost his way. He was a quiet kid, misunderstood. Etc. Etc. Etc. A mass murderer gets a more sympathetic portrayal in the media than victims do.
  • I used to say “don’t read the comments” because that stuff is trash. An internet comment section is literally a cesspool of alphabet soup, letters just floating around in sewage and mutating into disgustingly hateful compounds. But I’ve changed my tune. Everyone needs to know that these opinions exist; those comments belong to real people with real voting power that have the collective ability to influence the direction of this nation. We can’t underestimate this. Don’t be passive and ignore the very real threat that’s out there.
  • One thing I’ve learned reading this book is the power of conversation. Daryl Davis, solely through the act of holding a conversation with various Klansmen, is able to get some of them to reconsider their beliefs, or at least give the idea some thought. In an open and honest conversation, we can break the hate down to its source and then destroy it. All arguments can be toppled, all legends can be put to rest. We strip away the flesh, the hate, the love, the everything, and we’re all people. That’s all that remains, one and the same.
  • The Confederate Flag is a perfect example of what’s going on now. Defenders of the flag will fight so fervently to keep it flying, stating that it’s all about heritage and not racism. And most of us, what do we do? We sigh, roll our eyes, and move on. We know it’s not okay, but we just accept it as it is, which may as well be confirming the delusional beliefs of these flag-bearers. It’s a win for the “Ha! I told you it’s not racist!” crowd, and gives them the misguided notion that they might actually be right, as if we’ve forgotten what the flag represented and stood for (as well as the meaning it carries today). Racism doesn’t go away if we get tired of fighting it and look the other way. That’s only going to bolster the other side and give them the validation they’re so desperately seeking. If you see it, call it out. Let them know that there is opposition, let them know that they’re in the minority, let them feel unwelcome and know that they’re going to be ostracized often because of who they are. Let them feel that for a change.
  • Guns. I don’t even know how to reach the militant second amendmenters. If Columbine and Sandy Hook and Charleston and every other life taken by a bullet doesn’t convince you that we have a problem in this country, I don’t know what will. I honestly don’t know if they’re capable of seeing a tragedy as anything but a call for more guns. Every time there’s a shooting, we just go back into the archives and pull the same headlines out: “Politician decries tragedy, calls for strict gun laws” and “Guns-rights activists blast politician, declare that with more guns perpetrator could have been stopped sooner.” Then they start arguing back and forth, something else takes over the news cycle, and it’s all forgotten until next time. But those next times are increasing in frequency.
  • The most depressing thing about politics in this country is how little we actually matter. Come election season they’ll all sing songs of promise and optimism that only we can provide by choosing the right candidate. And once they’re in office, we get to watch the world’s longest running bitchfight commence as both parties combine their efforts to ensure that not a single productive thing is accomplished. Bills aren’t meant to get passed; they give them something to argue about, more ammunition for the next round of elections. And then oddly enough those promised changes will come up in the following cycle as well, still unsigned and teetering on the edge. If you asked Americans to list what they believe to be the biggest issues in the country today, the top results would likely relate to the economy, poverty, criminal justice, etc. But if you listen to what we’re being sold, you would think that we all cared about getting some religious freedom bills and preventing gay marriage. Remember; a politician is never concerned with old voters, but only seeks to attract new ones.
  • Republicans. Re:your presidential candidates…are you serious? That’s all you got?
  • #BlackLivesMatter because Fox News kept insisting that Charleston was a religiously-motivated attack on Christians, refusing to the acknowledge the racial aspect that the network so subtly encourages in its viewers.
  • Why do people welcome negativity into their lives? If it’s something internal, you gotta ask yourself why this thing, whatever it is, has such a grip on you. If it’s within your control to change it, then change it. If it’s something that you can’t change, then let it be. That’s an unnecessary emotional drain that accomplishes nothing positive. Focus on what you can change, and change it all for the better. Spread positivity like a contagious pathogen. If you’re negative, you will only see your negativity reflected in the world. Change your mindset and your life will change along with you.
  • I don’t support the death penalty. But there are times when I waver.
  • Racism is dead, but a Judge said “there are four kinds of people in this world: black people, white people, rednecks, and n******” in 2003 and was “reprimanded.” Then someone decided he should be assigned to the Charleston case. Then someone remembered “Oh yea, wasn’t he the guy that…” Yes, he was. The fact that a man subscribing to that line of thinking still serves as a judge 12 years after uttering that comment, and was allowed to rule on some ungodly number of cases with that lack of intellect should offend everyone.
  • I think that’s enough. Stay positive, remove negative people from your life, do what you love and have fun with it.
  • #FreeTomBrady #NoBradyNoBanner
Posted in Life, Observation | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why You Should Care About Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the Criminal (In)justice System

That was Part I…Part II is me trying to address the most common questions/statements made in response to what’s going on. Obviously these words don’t represent anything but my own opinions and I welcome any and all viewpoints (but if you come at me with dumb shit, you’ll get a reaction worthy of your response).

  1. Why are people protesting?

Because they have to. Despite the recent explosion in coverage, police violence against civilians is nothing new. Prosecutors declining to charge officers when these crimes are committed are nothing new (and yes, I’m aware that it was the grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, but prosecutors/district attorneys could easily guide a grand jury towards pressing charges if they saw fit). What’s happened is that after years (decades, and even longer if you want to cast a wide net) of no accountability, people got fed up. As big as Ferguson is today, as much as everyone knows the name Michael Brown, there was very little media coverage when this first happened. I only knew about it because I was on twitter (likely during college football games), and started to see more and more mentions. However, it didn’t even make CNN or any other national news outlets until at least two days later, and that’s only because of the protests organized by Ferguson residents. If the media wasn’t going to care on their own, then actions would be taken to draw attention to the latest chapter in the ongoing epidemic of police brutality. Often, if something like this makes the news, they’ll run the story that’s given to them by the police department. History has shown us that what we’ve been told is often not the truth.

  1. What’s the big deal? Brown robbed a convenience store, struggled with a cop, smoked weed, and went for his gun.

Stealing cigarillos and smoking weed, while illegal in Ferguson, do not carry a death penalty. To say that either of those justifies his death is completely asinine. Regarding the actual interactions with Brown and Wilson, two people knew the full story and one of them is dead. The fact that there was so much conflicting information and testimony should absolutely result in a trial. Remove the badge and think of this scenario: Person A kills person B. Person A tells one story, witnesses tell another story. How often will a prosecutor believe Person A, the one who pulled the trigger, when there are multiple inconsistencies? I understand the difficult when there is no video evidence, and it led to the push to require all officers to wear body cameras. However…

  1. What about Garner?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I’ll say right now that Eric Garner’s death happened when I was in Portugal. I read about it, but I didn’t watch the video and I’ve only seen it up until the cop starts to apply the hold. I have no intention of watching that man die. Without getting into the NYPD’s history (which I admittedly don’t know much about, having spent a total of 3 days in NYC) and their “broken windows” policing style, all I know is that Garner was selling loose cigarettes on the street (which is a crime, but again, one that doesn’t carry a death penalty). Officers approached/surrounded him, and they considered the act of him pulling his hand away to be resisting arrest, so in the effort to take him down, one cop applied a chokehold (which the NYPD banned in 1993, but you wouldn’t know it from the countless chokehold complaints they receive every year). Said chokehold lead to his death, and the coroner backed that up and ruled his death a homicide. Despite that, and despite the entire thing being caught on video, a grand jury decided not to indict the officer.

  1. Why would the officer not be charged?

There isn’t nearly enough time or space here to explain the current state of the criminal justice system, but as mentioned in the article I linked a few days ago, it works exactly as it’s supposed to. You will rarely, rarely see a police officer charged with a crime, and if you want to know more, I recommend two books: Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko, and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. My theories (based on those books and other sources)? A DA will not charge a cop because that puts his or her job in jeopardy. Come election time, if the police union decides to back another candidate, the existing DA is more or less finished. We’ve all seen the power that (all) unions hold when it comes to elections.

  1. What do unions have to do with this?

All I’ll say on unions is that like the police force, it’s a well intentioned idea that’s been perverted and used for unsavory purposes. I understand why we need unions, but I’ve also seen plenty of instances that make me despise them.

  1. Why is it always about race? Why did no one care when [white guy] was killed a cop?

People did care, and people do care. The effort to reform the criminal justice system is not a new fad and does not pick and choose based upon race. Now, the question you’re really asking is why the media doesn’t cover any of those stores. The short answer is to ask the media. We know what their agendas are, and we also know that they cover what they want to cover. The longer answer, my longer answer, is to go back up and read question 1 about the initial protests in Ferguson and how they essentially forced the media to pay attention; they made it too big to be ignored. After that, I’ll ask you (or anyone asking this question) what did you do in that manner to draw attention to that cause? Do you personally care about the police brutality victims that aren’t being mentioned in the media? Then be active and do something about it. But if you don’t care, then are you just saying that you’re tired of constantly hearing about black victims? I’m not finishing that thought, but you should be able to put 2 and 2 together and see what that line of questioning implies. My philosophy is the following: If you aren’t doing anything to fix a problem, you don’t get to complain about it; obviously you’ve accepted the state of things as they are.

  1. What does blocking traffic and lying down in the street accomplish? If they want to change things they should be less disruptive.

Hanging back and waiting for the media or politicians or anyone else to give a shit didn’t work, as decades of murdered civilians will show you. The protests, whether you like them or not, are effective, and have brought attention to this ongoing issue that many people are trying so hard to ignore. The protests in Ferguson started in a small town of about 20,000 people and managed to raise awareness all across the globe. So whether you like them or not, they are affective. And as long as officers are brutalizing and killing civilians and getting away with it, they’re not going to stop, and they’re not going to go away. The die-ins (when the massive groups all simultaneously lay down in a town square or intersection or store) are forcing people to view what they’ve tried to avoid: all the dead bodies. Don’t expect sympathy because your commute was affected when people have lost their lives and loved ones have lost their family members.

The fact that there’s more outrage over a blocked intersection than over an unpunished murder caught on tape says it all about the current state of our society.

  1. What’s with all the “black lives matter” if this is something that happens to everyone? Don’t all lives matter?

Yes they do, but there’s a good portion of the population that thinks black lives don’t matter. I’m aware it’s an incredibly low hanging fruit, but a quick glance across twitter or any internet comment section or facebook group will show you that these ugly, unevolved opinions are still far more common than they should be in 2014.

  1. So what can be done?

I don’t know. At this point, I think we have to start small by just educating people and letting them know why they should care and why all of this matters. Maybe with enough support, pressure can be put on politicians to actually take this seriously and enact some changes, but outside of that, I’m clueless. This machine has been running since before I was born, and it’s going to take a Herculean effort to get past all the roadblocks and make any sort of change. But awareness is without a doubt the first step. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have been going so deep into this. My mind was in other places with other concerns, the familiar refrain of “it’s not affecting me” blocking out most of the world’s travesties. To see where I am from where I was? I’m convinced that everyone has this potential within themselves; they just need to have their eyes opened.

Posted in Life, Observation, Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opposing Viewpoints and What We Can Learn From Them

Bill Clinton gave a speech last month at a gala for The New Republic. I think the entire thing is worth a read (click here), but I want to highlight a specific section of the transcript below, because I think Bill makes some excellent points that people are ignoring or dismissing (if they’re even aware of them):

  “You know, Americans have come so far since, let’s say, the era of Joe McCarthy. I mean, think about it. We’re less racist. We’re less sexist. We’re less homophobic than we used to be. We only have one remaining bigotry. We don’t want to be around anybody who disagrees with us. And if you look, actually residential patterns in America are changing. I mean, not just on by Congressional Districts. I mean fixed-line borders, like counties, the internal, social and political complexion of them are changing, and we also are siloing our information sources.

I read the other day that 47 percent of self-identified conservatives will only watch Fox News on television. That’s good for Fox News. I mean, it’s a good business model. My mother-in-law, who died a couple years ago at 91, and whom I love dearly and who lived with Hillary in our Washington home while she was secretary of state and senator, was the most liberal member of our family. She watched Fox News every day. I asked her if she was trying to give herself a heart attack. She said, “No, I’m just trying to keep my blood pumping.”

But then my—but then she seriously said—she said, first of all, Bill, I need to know what they’re saying so I have an answer and I need to know what they’re saying in case they’re right. She said, nobody’s wrong all the time. It’s like almost biologically impossible.”

That first comment, about how we avoid people with differing opinions is probably the biggest roadblock we’re facing today. I’m sure that if we all took a look at our social circles (myself included), we would find that a majority of people agree with us on issues that we consider important, whatever they might be. And that’s a very bad thing, because if you’re constantly having your opinions reinforced and rarely facing criticism or any opposing viewpoints, you’re going to be less likely to actually consider the possibility that you’re wrong and some dissenting voice on the other side has made a good point. I can sit here and rant and rave all day about injustice in the world, but if everyone in my audience already agrees with me and sees things the way I do, am I really accomplishing anything? I haven’t changed any opinions, I haven’t made any progress or done anything to change the current conditions; all I’ve done is pat myself on the back because no one called me out or found flaws in my arguments. That’s a false sense of accomplishment; it feels like I’ve done something, but that isn’t the case. It’s akin to running in place for 30 minutes. Sure, I’m exhausted and it seems like I’ve gone far, but I’m exactly where I was when I began.

This ties into the second point about Fox News. And I’m not trying to attack them right now, but the fact that almost half of conservatives get their news from one source and one source only should be troubling to everyone (and I’m aware that the same probably goes for the left and CNN/MSNBC/etc). It’s a dangerous decision to trust one source and never question the information you’ve been given, especially when the media (on all sides) is notorious for chasing controversy and ratings and appealing to their target audience instead of actually delivering honest news. When I’m posting on here about political or social topics, I’m not specifically talking to the people that agree with me. My hope is to initiate some sort of conversation with a person on the other side that feels differently, but is at least willing to engage in some sort of healthy dialogue. I welcome opposing viewpoints, because the best thing that we can do is learn from each other. I know for a fact that I’m not right all the time and I welcome anyone that wants to correct me, because no one person knows everything. There is always more knowledge out there, and these situations, never as black and white(no pun intended) as they seem, are constantly changing and evolving. It’s important to know what the opposing arguments are to a) disprove them with facts, or b) modify your own opinions based on new evidence.

This is my goal, and I hope that everyone reading this massive wall of text makes a commitment to do the same: Have as many (mature) conversations as you can with (reasonable) people that don’t agree with you. Even if neither side wavers, at least there’s an open path for the future. Maybe in a discussion weeks (or months or years) down the road, one of you will be more willing to listen to what the other has to say, and then we’ll actually be on the same page for a change, instead of just yelling at each other from across the aisle. Oh, and of course, take everying you see/read/hear in the news with a grain of salt. If someone says something, do your own research before you prop it up or shoot it down.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Michael Brown and Public Reactions: Part II

Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. Only three people witnessed the events from start to finish; one is dead, one is a cop, and one is Michael’s friend. So we have two wildly differing accounts of what transpired that afternoon. There are certainties in the story (there was some sort of incident in the car because Michael’s DNA was found in the vehicle), as well as inconsistencies (such as the 35-foot distance between the vehicle and where Michael died, which is actually 140 feet). I don’t know what really happened any more than you do. What I do know is that I’m more inclined to believe that Michael Brown’s murder was unjust and unnecessary.

His death was a tragedy; there’s no way to spin that. Even if he “intimidated” a store owner, even if he stole some cigarillos, even if he was walking in the street and refued to move, even if he attacked a cop, he did not deserve to die. Did he deserve to be arrested and charged? Sure, no one’s going to argue that. But the common sentiment amongst some of the morons is that any one of those things justifies what happened. “If he didn’t want to die, then he shouldn’t have been stealing and smoking weed.” I mean shit, can you even see from up on your high horse? I don’t understand how or why Michael Brown would run 140 feet from the car after having been shot in the hand, and then decide to turn around and charge the armed cop that was chasing him. Logically it makes no sense, but file that with the other questions that will remain unanswered.  What I do know is that there’s a clearly established precedent for protecting officers that have been accused of misconduct or excessive force. Prosecutors are notoriously reluctant to file charges against members of law enforcement; and even if charges are filed, you can expect the courts to rule in favor of the police (even with video evidence).

But here’s what so many people don’t understand: this isn’t about Mike Brown. As sad as it is to say, he’s just another page in the long, long, looooong list of murder victims that will receive scorn instead of justice, solely because they were unlucky enough to be on the wrong end of a cop that felt “threatened.” This isn’t a 2014 issue; this goes back, way back, before a fair amount of us were born. If I told you that an unarmed black man was shot and killed by a cop, and that a grand jury refused to indict the officer, you would (unfortunately) not be surprised. If I told you that it happened in 1965, you’d probably chalk it up to the high tension of the Civil Rights era, especially in Alabama. And if I asked you why the same thing happened almost 50 years later, would you have an answer? Is there anyone that can explain and/or justify why police officers seemingly have a free pass to beat and rape and kill with almost no consequences (except in the most egregious cases)?

But no one wants to have that conversation. It’s easier to rationalize it, to say that a kid who stole some cigarillos was a thug that got what was coming to him. It’s easier to look at Ferguson, ignore the 90% of people protesting peacefully, and focus on the small minority rioting and causing havoc (strangely, these voices are nowhere to be found when people are rioting over sports games). It’s easier to look down on people, throwing out MLK quotes and pretending to be some sort of moral authority while simultaneously ignoring the despicable behavior of your own children (I’m sorry, did I just accuse an entire group of something with no supporting evidence? Shit, my bad…).

The high and mighty types love to criticize and tell people that disobedience and reckless behavior is no way to get a message spread. So what do you suggest? We tried it the peaceful way. We tried it the legal way. We tried everything just so people would pay attention and realize what’s going on, yet the problems are ignored and continue to be repeated. I’m an advocate of peace. I’m not a militant person, and my (completely ridiculous) dream is for everyone to just wake up and realize that we’re in this together. Hate accomplishes nothing, and as long as we’re all sharing the planet, we should learn to get along. However, peace isn’t going to get it done. If you have something to say and it’s not being heard, speak louder. If they still can’t hear you, then get their attention, one way or another. The message is important, the movement is important, and it’s not going to go away.

There’s a somewhat popular t-shirt stating “Not Your Respectable Negro.” I choose to interpret it as such: No more patiently waiting for a seat at the table. No more giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming that the problems will be resolved on their own. You don’t give a fuck about us, and if you think you can ignore us, then you are sorely mistaken. Do you think that this is the end? Do you think that the refusal to indict this murderer will be taken as a defeat? We’re just getting started. Keep shielding your eyes, keep trying to ignore the problems in front of you. Either this movement will grow to the point where you’ll be unable to ignore it, or the police will start targeting white people. And then, you’ll see what the fuck what we’ve been talking about this whole time.

No Justice, No Peace.

**13 months ago, I wrote an article entitled Let’s play a game of madlibs, presented here without comment:

Citizens are up in arms over another case of police brutality, after an unarmed _______[city] resident was shot and killed. Officers claim that the victim was acting erratically and came at them with a _______[weapon], but witnesses dispute the facts provided, stating that the victim was not charging or rushing. The victim’s _______[relative] claims that “_________[Victim’s name] ain’t have no weapon, he ain’t had nothin on him. Cops showed up, started yellin at him, and then just shot him. He didn’t charge, he wasn’t aggressive, and the only thing in his hand was ___________[harmless item].”

After conducting an internal investigation, the __________[city] police department has determined that the use of force was justified and stated that the officers responsible will not be charged for the ___________[illogically high number]th case of an unarmed citizen killed by law enforcement’s use of excessive force.

Posted in Life, Observation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Michael Brown and Public Reactions

In lieu of commenting on the countless uninformed social media posts I’ve seen, I’m just going to reply to them all at once. First off, get informed. Don’t read an article on CNN, or watch some segment on the news. If you’re going to talk about Ferguson or make assumptions on Ferguson, get informed. Get on twitter, follow the reporters and residents and politicians that are down there every night, posting pictures and videos and constant updates about everything that’s going on.

Secondly, regarding the looters and rioting. Contrary to popular belief, the protesters are not rioting. When there have been riots, they have been initiated by others, and in almost all instances the protesters have attempted to self-police and have been blocking entry to the stores and businesses that were broken into. Don’t for a second thing that this entire crowd just up and decided to break shit and burn shit as a protest. The people that actually give a fuck about this issue are against looting; against attacking cops; and against chaos. The people looting saw a golden opportunity to steal some shit while the cops were occupied. If you’re trying to claim that these crowds are one and the same, go get fucking educated. Or find some videos from Wednesday night when the people were protesting peacefully, sans looting, and the cops decided to fire tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd…not at all an excessive show of force. There’s a reason that the St Louis County PD was relieved by Highway Patrol the following day.

Third point, why is everyone pissed? Seven days ago a teenager was killed by a policeman. It took six days for the name to be released, and thus far that’s the only information that was provided. They’re pissed because there’s a rush to supply information about the kid, answering unasked questions like “did he have a criminal record?” and “was he in a gang?” and “is there anything he did to potentially deserve this?” Why else go out of your way to mention that this dead teenager was a suspect in a robbery when the officer in question didn’t know about it and stopped him for a completely unrelated reason? Oh, he stole some cigarillos? Yea that totally justifies his execution. Even though we don’t know the full details, it’s troubling that the version we’re hearing from police has a huge gap…it goes from a struggle in the car and a shot fired inside the vehicle to “A few moments later, Chief Belmar said, the officer allegedly fired multiple shots outside the vehicle that killed the suspect, about 35 feet from the cruiser.” Seven days later, and we’ve been given more irrelevant information about Michael Brown and still don’t have the officer’s account of what happened between the struggle in the vehicle and the actual shooting…it almost feels like the trigger-man is being sheltered, as if the full account might paint him in a negative light somehow.

Fourth point, those of you against protests in general. There isn’t much to say on this, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. But realize that this crime goes beyond race; this is about cops vs. civilians, and it’s not an isolated issue. When the people that are supposed to protect you are killing you instead, that’s a problem. When it’s happening with increasing regularity, that’s a problem. The whole criminal justice system is fucked, top to bottom, but that’s a much longer discussion for another day and another time. Though I highly suggest you do some research to learn more about law enforcement in this country, as well as excessive force and questionable shootings by police officers.

Fifth point…the crime might not be about race, but the reactions are. There’s a reason the media kept running the picture of Michael Brown throwing up a gang sign (unless it was a peace sign…but we can’t expect any sort of responsible reporting). There’s a reason that people have seized on the fact that he had just stolen a pack of cigarillos. There’s a reason that idiots are claiming that these protests are just an excuse for everyone to loot. What that reason is (if it’s not racism, whether blatant or subtle), I don’t know. But none of those things can be used to justify the shooting. Posing for a picture doesn’t excuse getting shot 8-10 times. Neither does petty theft. Neither does any looting (and I feel bad that I have to spell this out for some of y’all, but that happened AFTER THE FUCKING SHOOTING).

So why do people cling to it? Why are there folks frustrated with all of this, who can’t understand why anyone would bother getting this angry? Imagine that someone kills your child, or your friend…people witnessed it, everyone knows who did it, yet six days later, all they’re doing is talking about your kid. “Well when he was 15 he was charged for tagging a wall, and in the 6th grade he pushed a kid to the ground and stole his lunch money.” There’s absolutely no reason to get into any of that because it’s not relevant to the central fucking issue. A kid was killed. The man that pulled the trigger is being protected. Whether you think Michael Brown was a saint or a thug, at the end of the day he didn’t deserve what happened to him. Maybe if you give the people (including his parents) the answers that they’re seeking, instead of trying to shield the cop while you dish out any negative info you can find on Michael Brown, they won’t be so aggravated.

And once again, get informed.

Posted in Life, Observation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment