Monday, May 11, 2015

A Riotous Spring

The death of _minority individual_ in the _medium to large urban center_ by the _local law enforcement agency_ is becoming the simplest article to write. Since everything is on the internet these days, they usually include a viral video that generally proves that the story given by the police is at odds with reality.

When will the police realized that almost everyone is watching, almost all the time?

In the following days, the article about riots in _medium to large urban center_, sparked by the relative inaction by the DA's office, is also becoming easy to write. Very telegenic to boot - all that lovely fire, the sparkles of splintered glass in the street, the occasional spectacle of the police arresting someone for watching - something for everyone. It's all a big wet dream for CNN, Fox, local news, etc.

The worst aspect of this is that eventually it all begins to smush together, like roadkill that has been run over by one too many semi trucks. It becomes part of the noise of daily life, and when something becomes noise, it becomes something we can ignore. It no longer looks like a dead deer (which is sad); it more closely resembles reddish oatmeal, and we no longer recognize anything worthy of concern. Just like watching Detroit crumble from afar, the death of innocent minorities is something that (generally) happens far away from the rest of us. It's becoming too late to do anything.

All of the laudable goals within the Obama administration, such as buying every cop a body camera, are worth doing, but only if they're done everywhere. As a technology geek, I can tell you that technology works only as well as the end-user wants it to work. If they don't want it to work, they will kludge it up so it doesn't. As someone once said, making something idiot proof is difficult, because we're really good at making idiots. You can force them to wear body cameras, you can force the body camera to turn on when certain other pieces of hardware are activated (such as sirens or lights or stepping out of the car), but that can always be overridden by someone determined to do so. Even if the cop on the line doesn't know how to do it, the internet is full of guys who will help them figure out how to disable it, even to the point of making it a one-time glitch (or whatever "easy out" they need it to be). This is not to say we shouldn't do it. I would never argue against preventative measures, because there will be honest cops who might be saved from lynching with body cam footage, as well as the bad cops who will be caught by it. But no one should expect this to work perfectly. And it needs to be deployed in every precinct, on every cop, deputy, statie, etc.

Black homelessness, joblessness, and hopelessness are the final stages of the initial drive to destroy their culture through slavery, and the institutional racism that followed continues to overburden that part of our society. We have been systematically ripping up the avenues that the lower and middle classes had for gainful employment and/or advancement within society, and the African-American population of this nation is always last in line when things do get fixed. While we might bring back manufacturing and infrastructure jobs to the nation, should the unthinkable happen and Bernie Sanders becomes President, even that won't be enough for permanent, gainful employment for everyone. So many systems are being automated, eventually we will be hard-pressed to employ everyone full time. But instead of primarily hitting minority communities hard, it will hit everyone.

Everyone who isn't rich, that is.

Seems these days everyone in the dystopian future is young and attractive. Hunger Games, Divergent, The Seeker, etc., all young people, breaking out of the repressive shell that society has deemed appropriate for them. I suspect they will actually look more like me - middle aged, a bit portly, wandering into the grey haze of afternoon with no job, no money, no prospects, and believing that this wasn't what was meant to happen, that all those votes for the Democrats somehow still didn't manifest a good outcome, because nothing that has to happen in four or even eight years is worth doing well, and nothing that has to last for a hundred years is worth starting. Only science and the arts take the long view, and who takes those longhairs seriously anyway? Sure they can do their multi-decade experiments in outer space, because once it's out of the atmosphere, it hardly costs anything to maintain it or monitor it, and no one down here gets hurt. But something that has to last for a long time on Earth? Costs too much and requires too much maintenance. Who's going to pay for that?

If middle-class white folks truly had to worry about whether or not their children had a future that wasn't The Hunger Games. would they act? Are we all frogs in the great pot of cold water, waiting for the heat to be turned up under us? The African-American community has started noticing the temperature, and they're not putting up with it, but then they've been shat on forever, they know they're the first frogs in the pot. The real middle class in America has only just begun to notice that we're all in the same pot.

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