Tag Archives: tragedy

Remember Your Training

I’m trying to process the verdict in the case of Philando Castile’s death. With the dashcam video now publicly released, I can only shake my head and wonder how anyone can justify or explain away his shooting.

I’m not a trained officer. I’m totally an armchair quarterback. I’m not privy to all the details revealed in court. It’s easy to second-guess and hindsight is 20-20 and all that

I know every situation is different and no two officers might respond the same to a given encounter. I understand that an officer is at risk and is naturally going to be thinking about how to protect themselves. I am deeply grateful for those who are willing to wear a badge and place themselves in harm’s way to maintain law and order in our society. I want police officers going home to their families at the end of their shifts…

…But I want civilians going home to their loved ones too.

Every situation is different and yet there are videos of white dudes walking around waving guns at police officers, and they don’t end up shot… videos of white guys wrestling cops and reaching for their guns, but they don’t end up choked to death or gunned down at close range… instances of white guys shooting up churches or movie theaters and ending up in cuffs to face trial when other people are sitting in their cars complying with an officer’s instructions and that’s a life-threatening situation.

Again, every situation is different, and I’m not privy to all the details. But I would have to be intentionally blind or ignorant to pretend there’s not an obvious trend toward increased use of force against minorities. Studies show higher use of non-lethal force against minorities is a fact. Incidents of lethal force by the statistics may not be higher but the perception certainly exists and it’s causing distrust between police and the communities they serve.

I saw a video marketing a cheap sleeve that holds all one’s identification and vehicle paperwork. Before an officer approaches the car, you can place that over the door so that everything is readily available, and no reaching for anything is necessary, thus preventing any fear or misunderstanding when you comply with the direction to produce paperwork or identification.

It sounds like an unfortunate necessity after what was done to Castile, who seemingly tried to do everything right.

At some point I feel like we need to ask, how much fear is enough when dealing with a police officer? How compliant must one be? How deferential, how cautious, how meticulous in every response, every motion, every action?

Do civilians – particularly civilians of color – have to behave as if professionally trained for encounters with police? It sure seems that way… and it makes me wonder why it’s not the other way around.


“Remember your training and come back safe

to the land of the free and the home of the brave”

It’s a speech that we save for those fully grown

For soldiers deploying into a war zone

For young men and women just over eighteen

Who experience challenges we’ve never seen

But for far too many, that’s not the first time they’ve heard

Someone giving them warning with similar words

We say all lives matter but it’s clear that they don’t

And we say it gets better but it looks like it won’t

And we hush down the voices loud and outspoken

And we tell them relax, let’s not fix what’s not broken

And we say each encounter has some subtle difference

And we remind the protesters to presume others’ innocence

But the man in the car who did all that was asked of him

Got shot with his daughter in the back seat to witness it

Seems to me there’s a pattern anyone can make out

Clear enough to see beyond all reasonable doubt:

Out playing? Get shot.

Obeying? Get shot.

Run away? Get shot.

Wedding day? Get shot.

Ask why? Get shot.

Comply? Get shot.

Justified? It’s not!

It’s a speech that some give to their kids ‘cause they have to

If you want to live through this, better know what to do

Hands in sight, Sir or Ma’am, be polite, watch your tone

And if you can help it don’t get stopped alone

But maybe live-stream everything from your phone

Otherwise your side might never be known

If it’s your word or theirs, you’re going to to lose

But remember, take care with the actions you choose

‘Cause all they need to say is they feared for their life

And then anything that they do’s justified

So remember your training and come back safe

In this land of the “free” and this home of the “brave”

Tragedy at the Polls

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” – Rahm Emanuel.

Any time there’s a tragic event, the news media on both sides go into overdrive, trying to figure out “How could this happen?”

It’s no different with Aurora, Colorado and the terrible news of the massacre at the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises.

As everyone tries to make sense of the story, folks on the Right want to decry the nation’s loss of family values and our distance from God. It’s all either part of an assault on Christian values, or it’s just another sign of what we have brought upon ourselves by previous assaults on Christian values.

It’s certainly not simply a tragedy. That headline doesn’t get hits on the website. 

On the other hand, Leftist media (no, wait, “impartial journalists” I mean) want to paint the shooter as a Tea Party anything. As long as “Jim Holmes, the shooter in the theater” gets connected to “Tea Party” in the same sentence, mission accomplished.

It’s not like there could be anyone else named Jim Holmes. Oh wait, maybe there could be. Oops. Our bad.

But the damage is already done. Jim Holmes is already associated with the Tea Party… enough that people will assume the connection is true, in spite of the retraction.

One comment on the story quoted Twain:

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

Hey, I get it. It’s an election year. We have to maximize every opportunity… and what an opportunity this is!

The Right can talk about how godless and lost America has become, under the evil influence of Hollywood, or video games, or the Internet, or Lord-knows-what. If only we put our faith in Jesus!

Yeah, except for the Catholic church pedophile scandals and the various prominent televangelists and ministers whose falls get worldwide attention…

Maybe claiming faith in Jesus doesn’t magically fix every problem in our society. 

Likewise, the Left can rail against the benighted fools who cling to their guns and their Bibles, chanting about Second Amendment rights. They can demand stricter gun control laws… as if the suspect was concerned about following the existing gun laws! Gun control laws and bans work great on the law-abiding populace…

But the law-abiding populace isn’t really our problem.

Heck, we’ll throw in there that angry parents on both sides can rant about those who might bring a baby to a theater at midnight. It’s all the fault of the parents everywhere! If Jim Holmes’ parents had done a better job, then maybe we’d be better off.

If we can just assign some blame, then we can get past the tragedy and deal with the “real” problem!

But nothing in life is ever so simple.

The facts of the matter are that twelve people were murdered and more than fifty were wounded.


Not surprisingly, someone intent on harming others chose a midnight showing of one of the most anticipated movies of the year.

It (most likely) wasn’t because of a  supposed liberal agenda in the movie where the 99% rise up against the wealthy 1%. It (most likely) wasn’t because OMG Bane sounds just like Bain, and maybe the movie is a dig on Mitt Romney.

(I want to scream every time I hear someone suggest that the name of the villain in a movie that has been in production and planning for quite some time is somehow associated with a recent news story about the 2012 election. Bane’s been around since ’93 in the comics. Stop being ignorant.)

My pure speculation is–shock! It was a good bet that the theater would be crowded, and someone intent on harming others used that to his advantage, for no other reason than because there would be a crowd.

That doesn’t score political points.

But maybe that’s not what this is about.

Maybe that’s not the response we need.