Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, December 31, 2010

Bread and Circuses

by digby

I was struggling with a worthwhile year-end post when my favorite correspondent Bill sent me this piece by Will Bunch from last May. I couldn't have said it better myself (and Lord knows, I've tried):

People forget that the whole justification for police to get Tasers in the first place was to subdue potentially violent suspects in cases in the past in which they might have been tempted to use lethal force. But the notion that the cops would have pulled a gun and shot 17-year-old field jumper Steve Consalvi is absurd, which means the rationale for tasing him is...what? There's something oddly funny about zapping a fellow human for some reason, but Tasers are no joke to the loved ones of the estimated 50 people who died because of their use.

Consalvi didn't have the risk factors of most of those killed or injured -- he is young, health, and wasn't drunk or on drugs. But he still -- while committing a misdemeanor, let's remember -- was subjected to the brief, intense pain of 50,000 volts of electricty. There was a simpler, quainter time when causing pain to another person was called...violence.

I guess that quaint time was America before 9/11 -- after which for some reason we lost all sense of proportionality on how to respond to various levels of wrongdoing. After my low-key blog suggestion that Tasering a mildly lawbreaking fan wasn't a great idea, I got an email from a reader. He said, in part: "Were you there last night? I was. Idiots like that are unpredictable at best! The days of “Morgana (sic) the kissing bandit” are gone. We live in a post 911 world." I don't mean to be harsh to the emailer -- he actually made some decent points about security entering Citizens Bank Park.

But I also had to wonder: Must we see every single act of wrongdoing, even minor ones, through the prism of 9/11? Is a fan running on a field in the same ballpark with killing nearly 3,000 people? What has happened to us in this country. Did anyone call for stun-gunning "Morganna the kissing bandit" in the 1970s because we lived in "a post-JFK assassination world" and that maybe she had a concealed weapon inside of those, um. concealed weapons. Of course not. Americans have changed..and not for the better.

Make no mistake -- the 9/11 attacks were the most cowardly acts of pure evil ever committed on U.S. soil -- but the American ideals of civil liberties should be so sacrosanct they should not have been unduly violated even for the people who planned and executed 9/11, but of course they were at Guantanamo and with the John Yoo-justified torture regime that was expanded to many people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and eventually to people who were innocent of any crime altogether.

But even more damaging is the way that attitude -- that any kind of lawbreaking or even potential lawbreaking requires the harshest possible response, with no regard to more than 200 years of momentum toward basic civil liberties and human rights -- is filtering down to other aspects of American life.

read on ...

Bunch hit on one of the main reasons why I find tasering to be such an important issue. It's not just the use of the device itself which is awful enough. It's what it symbolizes --- the unraveling of 200 years of accumulated progress toward civil liberties and human rights. This instrument of pain is being used on everything from kids to bed-ridden grandmothers without regard to guilt or innocence or danger to the populace and the police. And many of our fellow Americans see it as a form of entertainment.

There have always been pendulum swings, but this last ten years with the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the economic downturn seem to have precipitated a wilder swing than usual --- and a hardening of our culture in ways that I think may be going past the usual boundaries. The recent legalization of torture and indefinite detention normalizes behaviors that our leaders would have been much too afraid to admit to doing in the past. The president's startling assertion that he has a right to order the assassination of American citizens --- and the recent calls from public figures for the same against a variety of suspected miscreants isn't something I've seen before in my lifetime. While they insist that they must be allowed to hide all manner of secrets from the people, they seem to be willing to proclaim to the world that they have previously unenumerated powers to kill and imprison without due process.

And now we are seeing this ugly attitude spill over to the unemployed and the sick and the poor as they struggle to maintain some sort of footing in this rapidly shifting economy. The rich are complaining that they aren't properly worshiped, with demands that the rest of us contribute more to keep them in their splendor even as they blithely demand tax cuts and insist that their wealth alone proves their superiority to the rest of us.

Meanwhile, hate radio is calling for the death of liberalism, the tea partiers are screaming about death panels, and their standard bearer has a TV show in which she is seen giggling as she clubs a fish and shoots caribou on camera to prove her macho bonafides to people who are convinced that progressives and Islamic fundamentalists are allies in the War Against Everything They Care About. When you add it all up, the infliction of the terrible pain of the taser on a teen aged prankster to the great amusement of people in a stadium seems much closer to ancient Roman circuses than anything resembling justice. It would appear that the American Empire isn't so exceptional after all.