Wed Apr 25, 2012, 06:53 PM
RainDog (28,784 posts)
David Simon (The Wire) on the War on Drugs, Trayvon Martin and...
An unarmed black teenager was shot to death in Florida recently. You probably read about it or caught the controversy on the tube. A lot of people are saying that the kid deserved it, that he attacked the fellow with the gun, that he was a thug, that he’d been suspended from school, that he wasn’t so innocent as people think. Others are saying the gunman is racist, that he’s a self-appointed vigilante, that he had no business trailing the kid, that he’s kind of a nutcase.
If we can manufacture a good guy, we can exalt him. If we can manufacture a bad guy, we can degrade him. If we can’t decide, we can argue and call each other names. But more than anything complicated, the dialectic is always about deciding who is the bigger asshole, in this case, dead kid or his shooter.
Folks slathering that silly shit on the cake weren’t there when the show was struggling to survive, and now, four years later, they’re busy hacking the thing into pop-culture nuggets — which would be cool if anywhere in there an actual idea got discussed or argued or considered. That’s my view anyway, and I let fly.
This ever-expanding drug war and what it’s doing to our society? Boring. The declining American commitment to public education and equality of opportunity? Why talk about that when we can measure Namond against Dookie in the West Baltimore bracket? The notion that an America that uses quarterly profits as its only metric is no longer a utilitarian experiment, that free market capitalism, disconnected from a social compact, has made our country coarse and unjust? Jesus, man, you’re sucking the air out of the room.
2 replies, 1172 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
David Simon (The Wire) on the War on Drugs, Trayvon Martin and... (Original post)
Response to RainDog (Original post)
Wed Apr 25, 2012, 07:14 PM
Skinner (62,783 posts)
1. I actually clicked the link and read the whole thing. This part nails it:
Obviously the details of what happened between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman matter to the adjudication of that singular incident. But regardless of whether Zimmerman is convicted or not, what matters far more – and requires greater attention from the media, from legislators, from the public – is that there is now a sea change in American criminal justice.
Where once it was incumbent on people who take a life to prove that they did so in self-defense, now – in Florida and nineteen other states – hundreds of years of American jurisprudence and English common law are reversed so that the burden of proof is on the state. Now, Florida must prove that someone who takes human life did not have reasonable cause to believe they were in grave jeopardy.
Previously, this was a legal standard that we extended only to sworn and trained law officers. If they had reason to believe that they, or fellow officers or citizens were in jeopardy – even if they were wrong in that assessment – then grand juries were routinely told not to indict. Our legal system has long understood that even good police – those not prone to excess, those fully trained in the use of lethal force – can still give you a bad shoot in a decision that is often made in a short second or two.
And now, quietly, by dint of both cash infusions from the gun lobby to legislators and scant attention from a hollowed-out press corps, this cautious standard is gone in twenty states. Now, anyone — regardless of their role, training or ultimate purpose — can bring a gun to an argument and take a life. And then, if they can manufacture enough of a threat to their person, they can justify the act. Maybe witnesses will be present to contradict their version of events; maybe not. Maybe there will be physical evidence to invalidate their claims; maybe not. But now, the baseline for responsibility lies not with the shooter, but with the state.