Thursday, June 18, 2015

Police Violence in America

The Guardian has a fascinating piece today on the reality that none of the 50 states currently meet the global use of force standard for police. It is a troubling finding, particularly given the high profile shooting of so many unarmed black men and the continued prevalence of mass shootings, as with the one by a young white man in a Charleston, South Carolina church yesterday (CNN). That shooter killed 9 black congregants, walking into the church and screaming that he was there "to shoot black people." The data on gun deaths in America is well documented (see here for a nice roundup) but the general celebration of violence and the jingoistic, bellicose and racist discourse of the right are too often left unmentioned when yet another tragedy is added to the growing list.

The Guardian article included a graphic with each of the 519 people killed by police in 2015 alone, available here, which I suggest looking at if you are a strong advocate for the absurd "war on police" Fox is currently shilling to the public. When we combine that racist discourse with the NRA's relentless pursuit of an increasingly risible "freedom" and Hollywood's love affair with violence, a troubling question begins to emerge: are we a country on the brink of chaos and anarchy, where leaving your house might be more dangerous than going to an Israeli nightclub in the late 90s? I think to avoid that fate it is time for a serious conversation on the blood lust of both popular culture and our law enforcement agencies and personnel. Freedom is a tenuous promise that can fall away in the face of intolerance and hatred as quickly as it arose. 

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