I’m leaving out responses like “Racism isn’t real.” It’s wrong, but it’s not so easily debunked, so I can’t so easily categorize it as stupid. Yes, there are horrible new stories coming out about Tamir Rice and Eric Garner – and they are horrible, but this needed to be written.
1. Black On Black Crime Is Worse
There are so many ways to respond to this.
1. White on white crime is an equally large problem. In 2012, there were more white-on-white murders than black-on-black murders. This is totally irrelevant.
2. Darren Wilson is a cop. A freaking cop. It absolutely. blows. my. mind. that I have to explain, to anyone with an IQ higher than a potato chip, why police killing unarmed people is worse than bad guys killing unarmed people. If you don’t understand that, I’m not sure how I can make it clearer. But I’ll try.
Police are supposed to be the good guys. They’re supposed to protect and serve. Bad guys are supposed to kill people. Not good guys.
Okay, let’s try it this way: If you’re watching a Lone Ranger episode and the bad guy kills 10 unarmed people, you gasp and go, “Oh my goodness, how awful.” And it is, because anybody killing anybody is a tragedy. But if you’re watching The Lone Ranger and all of a sudden that masked man shoots and kills 10 people, that’s truly terrible for many more reasons, not the least of which are (1) in a move the police departments in the US would be wise to emulate, he vowed to shoot to wound, not to kill, and (2) WHY IS THE LONE RANGER KILLING PEOPLE?! He’s not judge, jury, and executioner, and neither are cops. But we’ll get back to that.
2. Michael Brown Was A Criminal Who Robbed A Store
If I didn’t know how much it hurt, I would be slamming my head into a wall right now. I’m still tempted.
1. According to CNN:
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson — hours after documents came out labeling the 18-year-old Brown as the “primary suspect” in the store theft — told reporters the “robbery does not relate to the initial contact between the officer and Michael Brown.”
Other sources indicate that Brown actually did pay for those cigars.
2. Again, I have no idea why I need to explain this to anybody, but theft is not a capital offense. Theft is not punishable by death. It boggles the mind that Americans need this to be explained.
3. Even if Wilson had stopped Brown over the cigars, which he didn’t, and even if Brown stole those cigars, which seems highly unlikely, and even if theft of a box of cigarillos was a capital offense, which it is not, police are not judge, jury, and executioner rolled up in one! This is a mindless character assassination. Was Wilson acting in self-defense in killing Brown? I think it’s unlikely. Was the possible robbery justification for Wilson gunning down Brown in broad daylight? Hell, no. Why even bring it up?
3. The Grand Jury Found Wilson Innocent, So Justice!
There is so much wrong with this statement.
1. Grand Juries don’t find people innocent or guilty. They decide if there’s enough evidence to bring the case to trial. And, as former Chief Judge Sol Wachtler of New York said, a prosecutor could convince a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich” if he so desired. Essentially, what happens with the grand jury depends on the prosecutor, which leads to (2).
2. Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch worked with the police regularly. It’s what prosecutors do. His father was a police officer killed in the line of duty. If you think that a guy whose job it is to believe what police officers tell him and prosecute other people the police say were misbehaving – if you think there’s not chance this guy has a conflict of interest, may I recommend a brain scan. To see if you have one.
3. McCulloch, the prosecutor, defended Wilson and didn’t ask the grand jury to indict him. This is not the work of a prosecutor. Prosecutors want to make sure the case gets to court so they can win, but for McCulloch, “winning” meant the case not going to court. He didn’t cross-examine Wilson for inconsistencies in his testimony, while he did cross-examine witnesses who indicated Wilson had misbehaved. Judging on actions alone, McCulloch seems more interested in defending Wilson than in prosecuting him, and prosecuting Wilson was his job.
4. Wilson should not have been allowed to testify at his own indictment. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 1992:
It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented. (ThinkProgress)
5. The prosecutors, in their defense of Wilson, included a Missouri state law that was outlawed by a previous U.S. Supreme Court decision that said police could shoot to kill a fleeing felon. If Brown was fleeing and this law was correct, there would have been no cause to indict. But this law was deemed unconstitutional in 1985.
This is not justice. This is not even a miscarriage of justice. This is a deliberate abortion of justice, and the doctor who did it is Mr. McCulloch.
4. Wilson Was Afraid For His Life
Bullshit. Just bullshit.
The official report states that Brown was killed 153 feet from the police car. A hundred and fifty-three feet and nine inches away from the front wheel of the car. This means that if Wilson shot him because he was afraid, either Brown was seriously far away, or Wilson had chased him. If you chase a guy who just got through slugging you the way Wilson claims Brown did, I submit that when he turns around, you’re probably not afraid for you life, or you were stupid to chase him in the first place.
5. But Rioting!
Fine. Let’s talk about the rioting.
1. White people riot over stupid things. New York Magazine curated some tweets with images of white people rioting over basketball games and baseball games and football games. At least the riot in Ferguson was about justice.
This one is especially stupid:
Vancouver, 2011. Because a hockey team lost. pic.twitter.com/c6JvmMsRts
— @red3blog (@red3blog) November 25, 2014
2. Rioting works. It gets attention. If those protests were peaceful, you wouldn’t hear about it. Riots get attention. In a peaceful protest, you might see a couple seconds of video footage of people walking down the street, but there wouldn’t be TV news coverage of them. “Peaceful protest” doesn’t grab the attention in quite the way “RIOTS!!!” does.
3. Rioting is the language of the unheard. As Martin Luther King, Jr, said,
It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.
Bonus #1: Blacks Kill People Too!
1. All of those black people killing white people? They got arrested and prosecuted. Darren Wilson? Neither. No one is outraged, rioting, or protesting simply because a white cop killed a black kid. Nobody. That on its own is something that sometimes happens and is horrible and tragic. The fury and the outrage is coming from the fact that he got away with it. He faced no charges. There was no trial. He got away with it. That’s why everybody is outraged.
Bonus #2: This Cop and Black Kid Hugging Means Racism Is Dead
1. No it doesn’t.
2. One of Devonte’s two moms (a fact ignored in Fox News’ coverage) described the incident thusly:
“He asked Devonte why he was crying. His response about his concerns regarding the level of police brutality toward young black kids was met with an unexpected and seemingly authentic (to Devonte), ‘Yes. (sigh) I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’ The officer then asked if he could have one of his hugs.”
In Fox News’ coverage, they predictably cut off the quote after “He asked Devonte why he was crying.”
Bonus #3: If you go for a cop’s gun, you deserve to be shot.
When you say this, you only demonstrate your total ignorance of the facts, specifically, that Brown was shot to death 153 feet away from the front tire of the police car.
I’ll break down the claim.
- Brown reached for Wilson’s gun.
- Wilson shot brown dead in self-defense while Brown was reaching for Wilson’s gun.
Ignoring the fact that reaching for a cop’s gun isn’t a capital offense (one for which you can be executed), and ignoring the fact that police officers aren’t judge, jury, and executioner rolled up in one… ignoring those facts…
Brown had reached through the window, grabbed Wilson’s gun, and Wilson shot him dead immediately – 153 feet away from the car’s front tire.
I’m not going to assume that people who make this argument understand basic physics. They very well may, but this argument indicates either ignorance of the distance or ignorance of physics, so I’ll explain the problem: basic physics will show that an object (or a person) cannot be in two places at once.
To wit, a person who measures less than seven feet in any direction cannot be reaching into the front window of a police vehicle and be 153 feet away from the front tire of that vehicle at the same time. It is physically impossible to be shot dead while reaching into a vehicle for a police officer’s gun and fall down and die from that gunshot wound, moving toward the vehicle, 153 feet away from the vehicle.
This is incredible.
This response continues to astound me. That I have to explain the whole two-places-at-once thing, to adults, blows my mind.
EDIT: The only way this explanation could possibly make sense would be if Brown was in possession of a teleportation device, which would probably make him dangerous, and if he had a teleporter, who knows what else he had, so the shooting was justified.
EDIT 2: If Brown had had a teleporter, I think somebody would’ve noticed.