“Support our Murdering Troops!”

Sundays are usually the days when I tackle a larger issue that encompasses a lot of smaller incidents.  I usually like to title my blogs in such a way that I know they’ll grab everyone’s attention.  Since you’re here, I’m sure you’re interested in what I have to say.

I’ve long been a fan of P.O.D.  I was a fan before anyone else knew who they were.  Snuff the Punk was the first Christian rap/metal/thrash album I ever bought, and from there I bought every single piece of everything they sold.  StP came out so long ago that I bought it on casette tape.  It’s even autographed.  Now, however, it’s in the trash.  The band that I’ve followed and supported since I was in 7th grade has done something that has made me so angry that I will never, ever buy into anything they are involved with ever again.  I’ve even removed all of the songs I had on my iPod.  Why?  Check out these lyrics, from their song “Tell Me Why” on the new album:

The hate in your eyes
The lies on your tongue
A hand that kills the innocence who quit to do wrong
your belly is full
While we fight for what remains
The rich getting richer
While the poor become slaves

 

 We kill our own brothers
The truth is never told
If victory is freedome
Then the truth is untold
Surrender your soldiers
Like everyone else
If love is my religion
Don’t speak for myself

Tell me why
And why must we fight
And why must we kill in the name of what we think is right
And no more
No war
Is how do you know

In case you can’t tell, they’re singing about the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I guess I shouldn’t expect anything better from a band that emulates Bob Marley (they played a Marley song on the MTV “New Year’s Cover Song” several years ago).  But what astounds me is that they’re singing so openly against both the troops AND the mission.  It’s a trend that’s becoming more and more chic with musicians and moviemakers as times goes on. 

P.O.D. are certainly not the first guys to ever put a piece of “art” out there that is anti-war and anti-military.  Recently, a lot of movies have been released as well that espouse the notion that the military is evil and our troops are murderers.  Redacted, Lions for Lambs and In the Valley of Elah paint an incomplete picture, as does Stop Loss.  Some of you may have never heard of these films–reason being, they’re not getting much popularity.  In part it gives me hope that the entertainment industry hasn’t completely hijacked reality the way they did back in the ’60’s over Vietnam.

War is unpopular.  Who in their right mind wants to go to war?  It doesn’t just cost money, it costs lives.  Those who come back alive are never the same.  The surviving relatives both at home and in the other affected countries are left with holes in their lives that will never be filled again.  War truly is hell, and nobody can honestly say that they enjoy it.

My favorite bands and artists aren’t politically involved.  They may support the troops, but they don’t make comments on the politics involved in the wars that our troops are fighting.  They don’t come out in support of one candidate or the other–they make their music and sell albums without the courtesy political involvement you see from Bon Jovi, P. Diddy (or whatever he’s calling himself now), Green Day and U2.  I have a very hard time enjoying music put out by someone who has actively campaigned for any political candidate.

My favorite movies have been written and filmed so that they reach the denouement without offering a guilt trip for not believing in some moral that the filmmaker wishes to foist on me.  We Were Soldiers tells the story of the battle at LZ X-Ray and ends without giving commentary on whether Vietnam was right or wrong.  Black Hawk Down does the same with the battle of Mogadishu in 1993.  The Brave One was even able to do it, much to my surprise, even though the filmmaker has the opportunity to push the anti-gun argument. 

We do have the freedom to speak, the freedom to express how we feel and what we believe.  But the freedom to do a thing does not mean you should, wherein lies the question: should fame be used to popularize a political ideal?  I’m not suggesting we make it illegal, just to answer those who may accuse me of such nonsense. 

I’m suggesting that we stop going to the movies, stop buying the albums or single songs on iTunes, and stop caring about those people in the entertainment industry who use their considerable clout to push their politics on the rest of us.  P.O.D. asks, “how do you know you’re right?”  I’d ask you the same question.  How do you know that you’re right and everyone else is wrong?  Are you really asking a question, or are you making an accusation?  How do you know that with your limited view of what’s going on that we’re not doing the right thing?  Have you talked to the people who are directly affected by this?  Did they tell you to beg us to stop killing them?

More importantly, are you acting out what you know intelligently to be right, or are you merely doing something to make yourself feel better?

I can say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that America is NOT the cause of all the world’s ills.  That’s not what Code Pink, World Can’t Wait, and other such groups would have you believe, though.  They display pictures of dead bodies and call our troops murderers–then they turn around and say, “support our troops, bring them home!”  Hysterical politicians like Jack Murtha condemn our troops before the whole story is known, then refuse to retract their remarks when the truth is revealed.  And the entertainers who make more money than Allah latch onto these attitues, spewing them back at us in an effort to make us follow them.

Tell me why we should follow you.  How can you tell us to be individual when you’re demanding that we be like you?  You’re no better than those you’re pointing the finger at.

The Spectre of Rodney King

By now, I think we’ve all seen these videos.  Just for good measure, watch them again.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUkiyBVytRQ]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azBvWWYTBa8]

They look pretty straightforward, right?  Simple.  Police officers abusing their authority and assaulting innocent people.  We’ve seen it before.  It needs to stop, doesn’t it?

If that’s what you think, you need to dig deeper.  The media would love to have you believe that’s the truth about these two incidents, and they’ve played it that way (particularly the New York Post).  What you don’t see could change everything about what you think of both incidents.

What about this one?  It came out some time ago:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KUhsU_89gA&feature=related]

Seems just as straightforward as the other two.  This one was the LAPD, the same organization involved in the Rodney King beating.  But what really happened with Rodney King?

In 1992, I was living in Houston and I remember to this day watching the news of the LA riots on TV.  I didn’t know much at first, but pretty soon Rodney King became the name that rolled off the tongue of every black kid in my school that made trouble.  Rodney King became a social icon, and if you’d asked him before it happened if he wanted it, he’d likely have been too keyed up on crack to give an intelligent response.

LAPD officers tried to pull King over for speeding one night and King refused to pull over.  After some time, several cruisers finally got him pulled over; the man was so high on different drugs that he was behaving erratically.  Nearby, a man named George Holliday–who’d never used a camcorder and was playing with a brand new one–was watching everything go down, trying to get the thing working.  He caught 81 seconds of footage.  We only saw 68 seconds: the part where King was being beaten.  The shortenend video galvanized a nation into believing that the LAPD was staffed entirely by thugs bent on strongarming the public into submission.

What you didn’t see, though, could have changed your perception.  And the media knew it.

Holliday called the LAPD, and they blew him off.  So instead he took it to local news station KTLA; they showed it to police and the police said it was authentic.  So, doing what reporters do (because they’re sooooo un-biased, right?), they clipped the first 13 and final few seconds of the video and played the part that they knew would earn the ratings.  They knew it would create an outrage, and it was something they were quite well-versed in.  They got their wish.

But before the tape rolled, King fought the officers at the scene.  He charged and tackled several and was tazed twice.  At first, LAPD officers (along with the CHP officers who originally tried to pull him over) asked him to submit, but he wagged his ass at a female officer.  Four officers ended up trying to put handcuffs on him, but he effortlessly threw them off.  He was well over six feet tall–he was a big dude.  Then he was tazed, and that did nothing.  Finally, while he charged Officer Powell, Holliday turns the camera on.  But you didn’t see the part where King attacked Powell.  That would’ve cast doubt on the rest of the video.  And yes, the original video did catch that sequence, but you’re hard-pressed to find the whole thing now.  And you never see the beginning when King shook off everything else they threw at him in a concerted effort to take him into custody without harming him.

The problem is that everyone saw it with their emotions rather than their intellect.  So many people saw this short video clip and saw what the editors wanted them to see; they saw something that angered them, a gang of police officers beating a man for no reason.  They never saw what lead up to it, and never thought there might be more to it than what they were given. 

So before you pass judgement on the videos above, ask a few questions.

In the first video, all you see is an officer and a bicyclist–who, by the way, was part of Critical Mass, which was carrying out a protest and causing massive headaches for NYPD–colliding.  What happened before that?  Did another officer up the road radio down to fellow officers to arrest him for assaulting someone?  Who is the bicyclist, and was he wanted for something?  Did he flash a weapon at someone? 

In the second video, you can’t claim racism; both the offender and the baton-wielding officer are black.  So what other motivation would the officer have for doing what he did?  If he’s not a racist, why is he beating the guy?  Take a very close look: the officer’s partner is trying to handcuff the man, and the offender refuses to put his hands behind his back.  He might not be fighting violently, but he’s struggling against arrest.  The officers are trained to protect their weapons, so they have to get this man in handcuffs.  They are both repeatedly ordering the man to stop fighting, and the man is refusing.  And while the bystanders are shouting, “take pictures of his legs!”  The guy is moaning about his ARM.  That wasn’t what was hit. 

And in the LAPD video, it’s the same type of thing.  They’re trying to take a criminal into custody, and he’s fighting them.  He’s refusing their repeated orders to stop struggling and give them his hands. 

What is an officer supposed to do in these situations?  Are they supposed to just say please, as if the bad guy is gonna give up to someone who’s being nice?  Should they simply allow the bad guy to beat and/or kill them, so we can spend millions of dollars later on to cry about it and say it should never happen and give the scumbag more rights than we have in a farce of a trial where he can get off on a technicality and continue to commit crimes?  Maybe kill someone else?

People don’t think clearly when they see these things.  There’s always two or three sides to a story.  One person might describe a situation as calm, and another might say it was chaotic.  I see things like that happen in my daily life, and it has taught me to approach these things very cautiously, reserving judgment for the whole picture.  And we all know the media will never give us that.

So before you allow these snippets to paint a picture for you, think carefully about what else might answer the questions you have.  You may very well cause more problems than you solve by allowing your emotional gut response to rule your reaction.

Arizona DPS Officer Puts a Little Chlorine in the Gene Pool

First of all, thanks be to Steve and Phil for inviting me to join them…I’ve been reading the blog for a while, and I always enjoy the entries.  What’s different here is that even when folks don’t agree I rarely see the same type of name-calling that comes with a lot of other blogs.  I see more people here who are capable of agreeing to disagree than I see anywhere.  Who knew that a couple of politically-conservative gay men could really live out the openmindedness that the gay community can’t serve?

Sundays I usually post something philosophical, something that doesn’t have much to do with any one news story or incident in particular.  The rest of the week I’ll post as I see something that grabs my attention.  Without further ado, here’s my first offering.  I will get deeper into politics in the next few days.

News buzzed across the wires today of a crime that is deserving of entry for an honorable mention in the Darwin Awards.  Everyone, and I do mean everyone, does something stupid once in a while.  There is a certain sect of society, however, that is so stupid that one can only hope that when they do something dangerous, nobody else is around to be affected by consequences of said stupidity. 

At an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS, or state troopers) office in Phoenix, 12 police officers were getting ready for a training session when a civilian walked in and announced that the liquor store across the street was being robbed.  No kidding.  Azcentral has the initial report:

http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2008/07/31/20080731officerinvolvedshooting-CR.html

The officers went to see about it and the perp turned the gun on the cops.  Of course, the cops shot him.  There’s no word yet on the guy’s condition other than his wounds are life-threatening.

That DPS office is a little conspicuous.  There are signs outside proclaiming exactly what it is, and there are cop cars all over the place.  There can only be two reasons for somebody to be unforgivably dumb enough to rob any business near a police station: 1) he has an IQ of two (when it requires at least a rating of 3 to grunt), or 2) he has a death wish.

Armed robbery across the street from a police station.  Classic.