Gaius Publius: Progressive Democrats Help Enshrine “Blue Lives Matter” Into Law

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By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Hands up, don’t shoot” — this is one form of defiance against police at the Ferguson protests. It’s only in the context of state-sanctioned murder that a symbolic act of surrender can be taken as defiance (source).

The Blue Lives Matter movement is a political counterattack against the Black Lives Matter movement. It doesn’t include the concept that black lives also matter (notice the catch phrase isn’t “blue lives matter too”), but enshrines a defiant, contrary opinion thinly disguised in a superficially innocuous phrase. In the same way, “America First” or “Make America Great Again” is a thinly disguised, pretend-innocuous phrase that delivers a defiant and contrary message, in this case against ideas like “immigrants have human rights.”

“Blue lives matter” conceals its hatred beneath its language — barely conceals — but conceals it cleverly enough that arguments based on words alone lead nowhere. In many respects the “blue lives matter” slogan is like the American Flag when worn by cops but not nurses — an innocent-looking symbol with an angry, defiant, threatening meaning that’s been widely understood since hippie days.

Affirming that “blue lives matter” is tantamount to saying “Yes, cops can kill.” Affirming the Blue Lives Matter movement, or in this case, voting for Blue Lives Matter laws, throws the Black Lives Matter effort to resist and criminalize police murder under the bus.

Raúl Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Beto O’Rourke, Ro Khanna and other noted “progressives” did just that recently by voting yes on the “Protect and Serve Act of 2018” (roll call here). Anthony Rogers-Wright, writing at Medium:

This Wednesday, with little attention, the House of Representative just passed the “Protect and Serve Act of 2018”sponsored by Representative John H. Rutherford (R-FL). The bill would make it a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for “knowingly causing serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer, or attempts to do so.” It joins a host of others deemed “Blue Lives Matter” laws, which have been introduced and passed, in part as a reaction to rising defiance to documented brutality and racism practiced by law enforcement in this county.

This act encapsulates the essence of the “blue lives matter” movement. Why? Because cops lie when they commit their own violence, and resistance of any kind to police violence frequently spurs more police violence. Wright again:

Let us be clear: police departments across the country have justified brutality and murder by accusing their victims of assault, for actions as heinous as dodging a night stick or pushing back on a barricade that is crushing against a crowd. And we don’t need body cameras to know that law enforcement officials are not always honest about their actions that result in arrests and lethal force — assuming the cameras aren’t turned off as was the case with Stephon Clark in Sacramento. Cops in the U.S. already have more of a License to Kill than James Bond, and in many cases enjoy more impunity that he does (Bond at least, at times, faces some scrutiny from M for his actions.)

And now there’s a federal law that can be added to the crimes laid against victims of police violence, thanks to Raúl Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Ro Khanna and others who supposedly, publicly “stand with the people.” Shameful.

By the way, don’t fail to note the irony in the name of the act. Whom does the law “protect and serve”? The police, of course, in a perfect inversion of the phrase’s usual meaning.

The Violence of the State and Non-Violent Protest

It’s not just at Black Lives Matter marches and protests that police violence occurs. And it’s not just people of color who experience it. Police are also front-line enforcers of many types of Establishment control (how often have you seen political protests treated as crimes against the state?), and police and military violence is frequently directed against anyone who opposes state violence.

 Pepper spray directed by police into the eyes of seated non-violent pro-Occupy protesters at UC Davis, punishment for the crime of opposing state-sanctioned rule by bankers

Consider Chelsea Manning and her years of torture for the crime of revealing crimes by the state, including, appropriately, torture and murder.

Or consider the police treatment of ex-CIA officer and Ray McGovernshown in the hard-to-watch video below, a 78-year-old retired national security officer abused for the crime of protesting the confirmation of CIA torturer Gina Haspel as, again appropriately, the next head of the CIA.

This is the direct violence of the state as executed by police and the military. The violence of the state comes from many other people in many other forms as well, including the building of pipelines that carry poisonous liquids and gases across land and water owned by those who oppose it. Those who resist these forms of indirect state violence, even passively and non-violently, are often treated with direct violence in response. This new law affirms the state’s defense of its violence. And it will certainly be broadly applied.

An Interstate Law

Note also, as Rogers-Wright points out, that this creates a federalcrime under interstate law:

For purposes of subsection (a), the circumstances described in this subparagraph are that —

(1) the conduct described in subsection (a) occurs during the course of, or as the result of, the travel of the defendant or the victim —

(A) across a State line or national border; or

(B) using a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce;

(2) the defendant uses a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in connection with the conduct described in subsection (a);

Which means it can and will be applied to protesters who cross state lines — and also applied in defense of victims who cross state lines, i.e., imported police and “deputized” mercenaries, even if the protesters are locals. How useful would this law as a way of further criminalizing water protectors and environmental activists who cross state lines and find themselves subjected to this?

Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters (source)

And this?

Source: NBC News

And dare to resist, as Ray McGovern “resisted” in the video above?

Messrs. Grijalva, Ellison, O’Rourke, Khanna: You will have much to answer for as this unfolds.

A Note About Police Murder and the Gun Lobby

An full examination of the relationship of ideas between these elements — the NRA; public support for whites with guns; and police execution of blacks without guns — would be fascinating and productive.

The segment of society that loves guns and the NRA also loves whites who carry guns, yet fears with a passion blacks and those in the restless underclass who do the same. This is more than reminiscent of the pre-Civil War South and its roving gangs of escaped-slave hunters, aka Second Amendment–protected “state militias,” whose job was to make sure any slave thinking of escape — or worse, of armed rebellion — is quickly reminded that those thoughts lead to death.

My own thoughts: Worshipers of guns and worshipers of violence by the state have much in common. Also, America’s slave-punishing past is still with us, but with a greatly expanded list of victims.

I’ve been saying that the nation is in a pre-revolutionary state and predicting a “rolling civil war.” I’ve called it that, a civil war, for a reason. This piece explains that reason.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    The American Declaration of Independence came out and said that all men are created equal but obviously this “Protect and Serve Act of 2018” law is saying that some people are more equal than others. OK. Let’s take something else from this era to make things simpler.

    I am given to understand that the framers of the Constitution enshrined the three-fifths clause in it so that the census value of a slave was 60 percent of a free person. How about we say that members of the police – and maybe the military & security people – are full 100 percent citizens. That means that the rest of the citizenry are only worth about 60 percent so that should clarify things for all. Everyone cool with that?

  2. Lambert Strether

    That word “progressive” is pretty malleable, I see…. Beto, I would expect. Ellison, though, is very sad. Perhaps the Democrat Estabishment really didn’t need to defenestrate him in favor of Perez (except as a show of force, of course).

    1. Will S.

      I’ve seen Ro Khanna on the Jimmy Dore Show a couple of times, and although I recall thinking he hedged his statements a bit much, overall he seemed trustworthy. Sad to see him and Ellison both vote in favor of this.

  3. Eureka Springs

    Oh yes, I’m feelin’ a wave.

    The Democratic support (162 voting “Yea”) for this bill is revealing, considering it includes “progressive champions” and Bernie Sanders allies Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX), who is currently in a tight race for the U.S Senate against Ted Cruz. Outspoken Sanders supporter, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who resigned from a party leadership seat due to her endorsement, abstained her vote on the bill.

  4. Disturbed Voter

    The people are unruly in ways the Establishment doesn’t like (see Chicago Democrat Convention riots of 1968). The Establishment “establishes” the principle that they get to decide what is right or wrong, and that the hoi polloi need to acknowledge that. The dialectic between anarchism and authoritarianism continues as it always has. The battle between the 1950s and the 1960s resumes.

      1. nervos belli

        This doesn’t mean two forces to choose from but as always a continuum, spektrum, an axis. You are between total anarchy and total authority, somewhere on this line. Why you are there, e.g. what kind of ideology or reasoning or simple thought brought you to your specific place, is a different thing, but you are there.

    1. Adams

      See also Kent State and Jackson State. Internationally the massacre of students and workers in Tlatelolco ((Mexico) and the suppression of student/worker uprisings in France and Czechoslovakia. Many more, it was quite a year. Communist, Socialist or Capitalist, the rulers will do whatever it takes to “maintain order,” i.e. retain power and control. It will be horrible next time, as there is much new technology, many new techniques, and a general popular cheapening of the value of human life.

  5. David

    Most countries have special laws with special penalties for assaults on police officers. The UK sentencing guidelines, for example, are here They are not an authorisation to use violence.

    More generally, we see here the confusion of a progressive who has discovered that memes circulated by his own side can be picked up by the opposition and played back. This should have come as no surprise: a generation ago Robert Hughes, in “The Culture of Complaint” warned what was still called the Left to be careful what they started, because the Right would certainly be capable of imitating them, and kicking into an open goal when they saw one.

    From the moment the “Black Lives Matter” meme started in the US (it has spread to Europe but only very feebly) it was obvious that it was going to arouse opposition and be picked up and used by its enemies. Any formula of the type “X lives matter,” as the author has just discovered to his consternation, implicitly excludes anyone who is not X. So “Black Lives Matter” effectively meant only black lives mattered, and that, even in the very narrow context of excessive police violence, killings of non-blacks by police did not matter. (Killings of of blacks or whites by black policemen, I imagine, are theoretically impossible and so do not happen.) All this is a question of logic and grammar, not of politics.

    As the author has belatedly realised by implication, a slogan such as “Black lives matter too” would have been entirely unexceptionable, and probably more effective. But the self-regarding, self-mirroring nature of identity politics, whether nationalist, religious or ethnic, usually finds it impossible to take account of what other groups actually think, or how they will react. Correctness within the group is all.

    All that is very sad, because, at least as seen from abroad, there does seem to be a real problem with the militarisation and violence of parts, at least, of the police in your country. That’s a problem that the US needs to deal with in its totality, and on the basis of a universalist conception of rights, which the old Left actually stood for. But limiting one’s outrage to victims of a particular skin colour is creating precisely the open goal to which Hughes referred. Oh look, somebody’s kicked the ball into it.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Perhaps the Left are still the controlled opposition that they were in the 60s.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I have to take strong issue with you on “Black Lives Matter”. It was so effective as a meme and a nascent organization that the Dems saw fit to highjack it, which they did to a considerable degree. Lambert can provide details. One of the results is that the most effective of Black Lives Matter protests, the die-ins, stopped.

      I don’t agree at all with your claim that “Blacks Lives Matter” implies other lives do not matter. That’s equivalent to saying “I like pork” means “I do not like” fill in the blank or “I like pork better than pumpkin”. “I like pork” merely means “I like pork”.

      It’s logically bogus but a claim opponents have nevertheless made to try to legitimate continued bigotry. Blacks are treated badly to a degree that non-blacks cannot comprehend, particularly in interactions with the police. There is such a well-documented history of police shooting blacks on an almost routine basis on pretexts on which they rarely shoot whites. That is what “Black Lives Matter” signifies, the casualness of police brutality towards blacks.

      1. David

        I’m not surprised you take issue with me – I’m not competent to talk about the effectiveness or otherwise of the campaign, but I wanted to make two points.
        The first is the danger of exclusive statements. Your pork example misses the point. A better example would be “I am a vegetarian” or “I follow Halal/Kosher principles”, which, without explicitly saying so, means that you don’t eat pork. Thus a statement like “every school should offer a vegetarian/halal/kosher option” is emphatically not the same as saying “every school should offer pork as well.” The reason this is important is that the Left has moved progressively from universalist statements of rights and protection for all, towards competing demands for rights or protection for some. In doing so, it has fallen into the exclusive logic trap of nationalists and ethnic/religious extremists: “the historical rights of Serbs/Croats/ Albanians/Hindus/White settlers must be respected etc.” even if this, almost by definition, ignores the rights of others. This is such a simple and obvious point that it has to be assumed that the organisers were well aware of it, and deliberately adopted an exclusive rather than an inclusive slogan. To have said “Black lives matter too” would have been just as accurate and much more generally acceptable. To have said “there is a problem with police violence and to the extent that it is directed disproportionately against blacks we should deal with that first” is also entirely reasonable. But they chose not to say that.
        But as I said, it’s the tactics, rather than the merits of the argument which disturb me, as a sign of a growing trend. If you use a slogan like “Black Lives Matter” there is no way that you can reasonably object to anyone using a similar formula for X or Y group. No matter how justified you think you are, once you start a meme running, history suggests that you are likely to lose control of it.

        1. marym

          Black Lives Matter is a demand for “rights and protection for all.” The blues, already broadly allowed to murder people with impunity, are the ones asking for special privileges.

        2. Fraibert

          Interestingly enough, as I recall, the tweet from which the phrase “Black Lives Matter” originated included a “too.”

          I have also sometimes wondered if retaining the “too” would have nullified a lot of the counter slogans (“All Lives Matter”, for example).

          1. marym

            The BLM concept isn’t exclusionary at all, unless one sees equal rights and equal protection of the law as a threat. White people shouting and tweeting about “all lives” were objecting to the concept, not the slogan, imo. Pretty much the same reaction to every tactic and slogan black people have been trying for centuries, most of which have been non-violent and non-exclusionary.

            The blue lives slogan is a defense of extraordinary privileges. The blues and their defenders, as in the topic of this post, don’t even pretend otherwise.

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          Your argument is a wild misconstruction. It is you who falsely assert, with no proof, that Black Lives Matter is exclusionary. It is not at all like your lengthy argument about vegetarians.

          Black Lives Matter is a short way of highlighting the fact that blacks are more at risk of losing their lives in encounters with law enforcement than any other demographic group. It is a demand for equal treatment.

          Extended exercises to try to say black is white, which is what your argument amounts to, don’t cut it.

      2. johnnygl

        In addition to the effectiveness of the die-in as a tactic, it’s worth pointing out that a number of groups organized to block highways sporatically. That’s a move that had to be shut down PRONTO! It revealed just how vulnerable American cities are to Civil Disobedience moves that attempt to stop normal functions.

        In most cities, if you block maybe 3 highways in both directions, you can rapidly bring a city to its knees with barely 50-100 people involved.

        This was also the point where the so-called ‘white moderate’ from the 1960s in the MLK remarks reappeared. A large portion of the public turned against BLM at that point. The media started talking about how some were ‘going too far’. Public opinion seemed to be that ‘protest is fine, but don’t cause me any inconvenience’.

        For a minute, we had a look at power being democratized and most didn’t like it one bit. Many state/local governing bodies rapidly passed legislation increasingly penalties for blocking the highways.

        1. Arizona Slim

          I was fully expecting a highway shutdown to happen during the 2016 Democratic Convention.

          Take, for example, I-95. It goes right through the historically poor and African American city of Chester, PA. Chester is, oh, about 10 miles southwest of Philadelphia.

          If a BLM protest had shut down I-95, the city of Philadelphia and much of the East Coast would have been brought to a halt within hours.

        2. UserFriendly

          Bingo. That is what I was going to point out. There has been about 3 times over the last few year that BLM protests have marched onto highways in Minneapolis, making it that much more troubling that Ellison voted for it.

      3. James McFadden

        Yves Thanks — well said
        David has blind spots and is one of those guys who can’t step back and see them.

      4. Jim

        I recall a firm rejection of “Black Lives Matter, too” by assorted KPFK hosts, to my complete surprise. Please consider spending more time with ex-military if you want to find whites who are not bothered by Blacks with guns.

    3. EoH

      I think you’ll find American policing methods coming to a theater near you. It seems to be part and parcel of the neoliberal package.

      “Identity politics” is not the issue. It is a smokescreen, most recently picked up by the American DOJ to justify its determination to stop monitoring racial discrimination and racially-based violence among local law enforcement agencies, several of whom have long and bloody histories of doing that. They will now be unmonitored.

      “Identity politics” is redundant. Identity is politics, in education, neighborhood, business or government. Individual and group identity matters as much to those who attend Bohemian Grove as it does to those who think it’s a brand of cannabis. The membership of the American Chamber or the Business Round Table express that as readily as do the African Americans and others who rally around the Black Lives Matter theme.

      As Yves says with more pith, if “Black Lives Matter” didn’t have the impact and inclusiveness it does, “blue lives matter” would have never left the focus group.

    4. diptherio

      So if I say “save the rainforest,” you take that to mean “only rainforests matter?” If I say “stop violence against women,” you take that to mean I don’t care about violence against men? Really?

      1. sharonsj

        Unfortunately it does mean that. I was all for the Black Lives Matter movement until I read their policy statement and was surprised to see them single out Palestinians for support. Do they think only black and brown Palestinians matter? Do black and brown Jews not matter? In fact, do Jewish lives matter at all?

        Once you single out one group over another, it does mean their lives matter more. Maybe we do need an “All Lives Matter” movement.

        1. pretzelattack

          they were already being singled out, for attack, by cops who are attempting to drape themselves in victimhood.

        2. Lord Koos

          BLM declares solidarity with opressed Palestinians, I don’t see the problem there. Was there something about race in their policy statement? I doubt it.

      2. Dirk77

        Since we are talking about strategy and not right and wrong, I side with David here. I actually go further and say it should have been Poor Lives Matter Too. I say this speaking as a non-black person who deep down is no less an a*hole than everyone else in this Century of the A*hole. Because as the last decades have made abundantly clear, the eternal struggle is always about class, rich against poor. I don’t recall any middle class or rich black person being beaten up or killed by the police. Which is why you can have Obama in the White House and happenings like Ferguson. I realize that Yves is right: blacks in the US have been like Jews 100 years ago in the Pogroms – people the proles can beat up on safely to make them forget they suffer because of their class. Yet the way out is to realize that fundamentally it’s about class. To me, BLM was doomed at the start because it was never clear to me statistics-wise if they were really singled out disproportionately. And I will never be black, but I can be poor.

  6. Fred1

    This law, as described in the article, misses the main issue underlying criminal sentencing in a federal system: sentence arbitrage. The best example of this is the interplay between federal and state sentencing schemes for drug delivery crimes. Some states punish drug delivery crimes less harshly than federal prosecutions. Some more harshly. Some states have procedural and evidentiary rules that make it harder to obtain a conviction in any criminal case than the federal rules. Some easier.

    In the states with more defendant favorable laws and procedures, the local police will market their drug cases to the federal police. The state Court prosecutors don’t care, because it’s less work for them. The federal prosecutors are then forced to screen these cases, or otherwise their dockets will be swamped with cases of no particular merit. This isn’t a problem in states with pro-prosecution laws and procedures. The vast majority of these cases stay in state court.

    According to the article, the maximum punishment is 10 years for causing serious bodily injury. The two states I practice in punish serious bodily injury crimes committed against anyone far more severally than this law.

    The real use of this law, as the author notes, will be in its application within a federal conspiracy prosecution. Obviously this makes sense in cases where there is an agreement among two or more people to attack police. The problem is that federal conspiracy law can be used to charge people whose connection to the underlying crime is very attenuated if not virtually non-existent.

    For instance, proof of the conspiracy (agreement) and consent to the agreement can be implied. There is no requirement that every conspirator know every other conspirator or that every conspirator know what every other conspirator intends to do or actually does.

    Yes, this law can be used to prosecute civil disobedience similarly to the J20 prosecutions. But IMHO it is a remedy looking for a problem. That being said, the so-called progressives should not have voted for it.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      This law fashions one more blunt weapon for control. Next we need a law to pull down any statues of Justice for defiling the American system of control.

  7. EoH

    Police never engage in “violence”. Their actions are always reasonable and in response to provocation from someone whose cell phone or cupie doll looks like a gun, regardless of how bright the midday sun. It is not excessive to empty a full clip into a target. The whole point is to make that person undangerous, and that works faster than anything else. None of this Canadian crap about wounding the guy or talking him down without the use of force.

    That’s the perspective one would get from reading, watching or listening to the MSM, to a police chief’s report, or to a DA’s press release. It’s what the president says when he tells police not to be “too polite” when banging a prisoner’s head when putting him into the police car.

    This “blue lives matter” counter-attack appeals to the usual mom and apple pie and it’s a dangerous world out there. (It is especially if one walks, drives, shops or coffees while black.) It seems designed to maintain police immunity for violence. Lack of accountability sells for banks and corporations in general, why not the police. It is flexing of muscles for DAs and mayors whom the police seem convinced would not have jobs but for them.

    It also appears to be an expression, as Alfred McCoy describes about America in the Philippines, of bringing home to the metropolis imperial control methods practiced abroad.

    Different people, personalities, training methods and evaluation standards are available. The world is full of them. We seem to have chosen these. We can unchoose them.

  8. Karen

    I came up with a new slogan that might reconcile the current confusion regarding honor and responsibility:

    It is a White Privilege to Stand Up For Black People

  9. Norb

    The struggles of the 60’s have come home to roost. In the struggle for black integration, Martin King tried to appeal to whites moral values to bring about justice and to remind whites to live up to the principles of the founding documents of the American Nation- namely that all men are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights- given by God, not the State.

    As the civil rights movement started to grind to a halt due to stonewalling and obfuscation, the emphasis of the movement started to shift to economic justice as a means to achieve success. This shift in thought brought the peace loving/ nonviolent protesters closer to the militant isolationist represented by Malcom X and the Black Panthers. Though worlds apart in action, economic equality and opportunity would form a bridge to span the gap between these opposed factions, resulting in an extremely powerful movement. A nonviolent/ violent coalition. Assassinations followed, and a direct line of causality can be drawn to the present day struggles.

    Integration was achieved, but the underlying cause of social tension, economic inequality, remains intact. Compromises centered around personal identity can be granted as long the the essential economic principles remain intact, namely the right of certain individuals to amass personal fortunes.

    The real divisiveness in America continues to be class based, not race. For survival, the trend in America is to form ethic communities that remove the troublesome race element from the economic equation for survival, allowing the focus to be on creating and maintaining strong local economic networks.

    As long as the Federal government strives to reinforce economic divisions among the citizenry, the country will increasingly diverge into rich and poor. The broader society breaking down into smaller and smaller entities.

    This black lives matter episode is just the latest example of this process. Moral movements for justice are easily hijacked and compromised by immoral people.

    The lesson should be to focus on economic freedom and let the rest fall where it may. Economic freedom understood as community building, not exploitation.

    1. Chris

      I agree with your thought that our problems are about class and not race. Here in Oklahoma people live in certain neighborhoods based on income, not race. Families in a given neighborhood look different but everyone makes about the same amount of money.

      Keeping everyone focused on race prevents them from rising up as a united underclass to truly challenge the elites.

    2. Lord Koos

      Integration was achieved only in a superficial manner — the current trend is economic segregation, which has rolled back much of the impetus of the 1960sa. In the case of many black people, things aren’t much different than before — crappy, underfunded schools, banks and realtors drawing lines between neighborhoods, etc etc.

  10. Chris

    Well that’s typical. A great article goes to crap in the last section as Gaius’ big “L” Liberal agenda comes flying through. As all big “L” Liberals, Gaius completely misses the point of the 2nd Amendment.

    It has nothing to do with white people with guns, it has to do with all citizens being armed in order to be able to stop an out of control state.

    It’s shocking to me that throughout an entire article about police brutality (ie an out of control state) Gaius then decries the ONLY thing that can possibly stop said brutality. Does Gaius actually think that politicians will stop this? They are part of the state. Things have steadily gotten worse regardless of who has been in power. The whole article is about how the politicians are aiding and abetting the very behavior.

    Gaius is exactly correct that we are headed towards a civil war, but it will be we “worshipers of guns” that are going to save his Liberal arse from the state’s jack-booted thugs.

    1. Synoia

      The purpose of the Second Amendment is to have a citizenry trained in the use of arms, instead of a standing Army.

      It has nothing to do with a Citizenry having the ability to revolt and overthrow an elected Government, aka “out of control state.”

      I would suggest a close reading of Cromwell and the English Civil War as a potential impetus behind much of the US constitution. I’m sure the founding fathers were familiar with that part of history.

      1. Chris

        Without an armed citizenry there would be no United States.

        How can you say that it has nothing to do with revolting when that’s exactly what we did? After exhausting all diplomatic means we revolted and overthrew the legitimate government through force of arms. The only way that could have happened was by having arms owned by common citizens and trained in their use.

        1. pretzelattack

          what diplomatic means? we weren’t a country, then, and the boston tea party wasn’t an example of exhausting all diplomatic means. you didn’t address the point about why the second amendment was added, you just asserted that, because it was subsequent to the revolution, that means the founders wanted to use the revolution as a template for how civil society should be conducted.

    2. EoH

      The Second Amendment was designed to deal with a common abuse: governments using their standing army not as a police force but to abuse its citizenry. The English were fond of doing it, as they were of requiring the locals to house and feed “visiting” armed forces.

      State militia are not standing armies. They exist as a fighting force only occasionally and for short periods of time. The men comprising them were civilians before and after their short service. Training in arms promoted that end. Other uses of weapons, huntin’ and shootin’, the Second Amendment did not address.

      The Second Amendment affirmatively encouraged that arrangement, just as the requirement that Congress routinely re-approve expenditure on federal armed forces affirmatively discouraged them. Requiring a vote required debate and created the possibility the executive would not get what he wanted.

      Alexander Hamilton, strong authoritarian he, advocated a standing army. He wanted its officer corps to form the core of an American aristocracy, removed from both citizens and the men they commanded. He succeeded only in part, the Society of Cincinnati is a remnant, which is why we still have a partially functioning First Amendment.

      1. Chris

        Seeing Cops driving around in MRAPS and pepper spraying kids that are exercising their rights of non-violent protest looks to me exactly like an “army” that is “abusing is citizenry.”

        1. bob

          Then do something about it. Get out there and start fulfilling your obligations to the Founding Fathers. You have the means, and apparently have the time. GO DO IT!

    3. Synoia

      On second thought the American Civil War is an example of the power of an Armed Citizenry. The example is how well the South won its immediate objectives.

      However, the South has risen again, as evidenced by the current generosity of the Government to its le$$ privileged citizens.

      People of Flint, how’s that lead abatement going?

      1. EoH

        Arguably not a rebellion but a protest, one that Hamilton elicited with his carefully crafted tax legislation. It was designed, in part, to monetize for the benefit of the federal government, a subsistence, credit frontier economy that used whiskey as a cash equivalent. Cash markets were on the eastern seaboard. Until the Erie Canal was completed, it cost more to send goods by wagon across the Appalachians than it did to send them by water down the Ohio and Mississippi, and then by steamer from the Gulf to NYC. Hamilton knew he was asking the impossible and resistance would follow.

        It was not about whiskey, or even taxation, as much as it was about what kind of tax, how fairly it was assessed, and to whose benefit tax revenues were put. Hamilton favored government subsidies for large private monopolies – large whiskey distillers over small farmers, large land developers over owner occupier improvers.

        Hamilton the anti-democrat – he called democracy the Great Beast – got his armed protest. His army put it down, helped along the way by detention without trial, enhanced interrogation and other methods of state persuasion that we perceive as modern. Washington, defending his extensive congressional land grants in SW Pennsylvania – land worked and improved by settlers – led it, thought better of it, and returned to VA before the forces arrived in Pittsburgh.

        As you say, the “Whiskey Rebellion” was put down, as was Shays’ rebellion before it and Fries’s rebellion after it. Fortunately for us, Mr. Hamilton was only partly successful in his aims. But that’s politics. The use of weaponry by the militia, federalized for Hamilton’s purposes, was consistent with the Second Amendment.

      2. Chris

        My point is that without an armed citizenry there would be no United States. The ONLY check on government is an armed citizenry, period.

        The fact that some groups seek the denial of arms to other groups only strengthens my point. Those who wish to dominate, be it due to race, class, gender, whatever, always seek to disarm the group they wish to dominate. It has happened time and again throughout history.

        The fact that you’re worried about the militant redneck fringe (and that they’re worried about the militant urban fringe) plays right into the hands of the elites who wish to pit us against each other lest we see the horrible crimes they have and continue to perpetrate on us daily.

        No person is free unless they have the means to defend themselves.

        1. bob

          “The ONLY check on government is an armed citizenry, period. ”

          If you are armed why are you lollygagging around this blog, wasting your very acute righteousness on a blog?

          Get out there and make a difference! Lead by example.

          If you think your time here is well spent, trying to change the minds of others, it seems you don’t agree with your “period”.

        2. EoH

          You might exaggerate. Second Amendment issues do not focus on removal of all guns or handguns. For comparison, though, consider that the UK banned all handguns nearly twenty years ago. It seems to have worked out well, despite the number of criminals in the City.

          The America debate is about regulating gun sales and ownership, not banning them. Every other constitutional right has regulations attached. Forms of free speech and assembly are routinely regulated, the Fourth Amendment has so many holes in it, it’s listing almost to the gunwales.

          In the past several years, the US has had nearly 300 school killing events. It’s enough to invent a new vocabulary and it’s ten times the number in the rest of the world combined. That kind of American exceptionalism many people think we can do without.

    4. Lord Koos

      Good luck taking on the system with your small arms. The vast majority of Americans do not own firearms, and a tiny minority, 3% own 50% of the 265,000,000 guns.

      1. bob

        Another big time talker. If only 2% of those 3% took their BS to action, it could make a difference. Who knows? It’s never happened.

        So far, not enough have the balls to follow though on their tough talk. Plenty of gunz, no balls. They just jump behind their keyboard and abuse people who think differently than they do. It’s a real education on how to make friends and influence people, sans balls.

      2. Chris

        From my reading it was ~3% of the citizenry that took up arms against the British. That was clearly enough to make a difference.

        @bob, I’m not trying to abuse anyone. I’m not at a point where I would take up arms. My person and family are doing just fine. If one of my family members was being affected by the system then my view would be different.

        You make fun of me for my inaction, what are you or Gaius proposing to stop these abuses?

        1. bob

          “You make fun of me for my inaction, what are you or Gaius proposing to stop these abuses?”

          ” If one of my family members was being affected by the system then my view would be different.”

          “Seeing Cops driving around in MRAPS and pepper spraying kids that are exercising their rights of non-violent protest looks to me exactly like an “army” that is “abusing is citizenry.””

          Which Chris am I talking to now? The one who is being abused? Or the one who’s person and family are just fine?

          More libertarian BS and hypocrisy. As well as lying. Why do you lie? Do you think no one else but you and your infinite knowledge and wisdom can read?

          “You make fun of me for my inaction, what are you or Gaius proposing to stop these abuses?’

          That’s rich. The universal victim that espouses action, and yet doesn’t take it, because He’s just fine. You are the one proposing action. Then you say you are just fine, and won’t act.

          This is the very definition of hypocrisy. And whining. Get your gun and start shooting, or shut up.

        2. bob

          “You make fun of me for my inaction, what are you or Gaius proposing to stop these abuses?”

          I’m not making fun of your inaction, I’m making fun of YOU and your obvious hypocrisy. Now you are adding victimhood to your resume? Which is it? Are you ‘just fine’ or are you ready to start shooting?

          Those are the only two options, as prescribed by your founding fathers.

  11. Oguk

    (B) using a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce;

    (2) the defendant uses a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in connection with the conduct described in subsection (a);

    Sounds right to me to be alarmed about this part of the law. I wouldn’t be surprised if this could be made to refer to interstate highways, not just interstate pipelines. If you (or the cop “defendant”) used an interstate highway to get to the protest site, the law could theoretically apply, right? – even if you travelled exclusively within the state. I’m not a lawyer though, would appreciate clarifications.

    1. jawbone

      Would the internet or even phone calls fall under “instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce”?

      Not a lawyer, so add this to Oguk’s question, please.

  12. Anon

    Overwrought dialog about blue versus black contributed to the 2016 election results. Recall when Obama was at the televised town hall meeting and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas asked him about acknowledgement for the Dallas cops that were murdered. When Obama would not even address that issue it came off to many viewers and subsequent news, paper and other media consumers as callous at best and hostile in a way that guaranteed more opposition votes. That likely made more people resist whatever other messages he may have tried to communicate, given his prior remark about bitter clingers.

    Polarization continued with Hillary’s Deplorables comment, to make many voters on the margin tip away. People often default to hearing what they want to hear, so a commonsense approach would be to recognize that and try to expand the communication to be more productive when so many other Dem methods have failed.

    1. pretzelattack

      the dems message is “we support the cops and turn a blind eye to the abuses”. it is not the terms that are polarizing people, it is actions and facts on the ground.

  13. Jeremy Grimm

    When I see the slogan “Blue Lives Matter” I am tempted to suggest it makes a nice slogan for a campaign to use radios more and high speed car chase less. Then I imagine we need a campaign for “Truck Drivers Lives Matter” and “Deep Sea Fishermen’s Lives Matter” and a list of other occupations more dangerous than work as a police officer.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And how about “Loggers Lives Matter.” Or “Late-Night Convenience Store Workers Matter.”

  14. David(1)

    FWIW, the Washington Post maintains a database of people shot and killed by police. The database is based on news reports, public records, social media and other sources.

    In 2018 (so far); 408 people have been shot and killed by police, including 169 whites, 85 blacks, and 46 hispanics.

    The unarmed among the shot and killed were; 11 whites, 8 blacks, and 1 hispanic.

  15. Anarcissie

    My own thoughts: Worshipers of guns and worshipers of violence by the state have much in common.

    I disagree. There are many who worship violence by the state (for example, H. R. Clinton) who seem to be at odds with those who worship their individually owned and operated guns. At least they favor more restrictive gun laws for the native proles, while they push for ever-greater exercises of military death and destruction abroad and militarization of the police at home.

    As for Black Lives Matter, I think they made their point in the context in which the slogan arose, which was that for the police and the state in general Black lives didn’t matter. Let’s remember that context. Sometimes Identity politics, with all its downsides and vulnerabilities, is forced upon people of a certain identity.

  16. lyman alpha blob

    Great. Just what we need – creating more identity-related crimes.

    How exactly does “knowingly causing serious bodily injury” differ from assault, which is already a crime?

    This makes about as much sense as “hate crime” laws doling out extra punishment for crimes against certain groups of people. Still trying to figure out why murdering some people is more hateful than others. Murderers generally don’t murder while filled with loving kindness.

  17. JBird

    There are other databases that cover homicides by police using all means. Guns, tasers, dogs (yes it has happen) batons, etc. Using those lists, if the pace remains the same, deaths will be over 1,200. Murders using guns are an average of ~9,000 with the police being responsible for an average of ~950. Each database is slightly different as is each year. So, roughly 10% of the gun homicides in this country is by the police with hundreds being unarmed. Completely. Unarmed. No weapons nearby. Many of the rest are “armed”’ with items golf clubs, or sticks or the gun is still holstered, or in a drawer or compartment.

    Please note that this does not cover injuries. The people who die are merely the smaller subset of the total casualties.

    There was a recent shooting of a naked man by police recently, and just being curious, I did a quick search. A fatal shooting of a naked person seems to be a yearly occurrence. Male, almost always black, and somehow always a terrible threat whose death is always justified.

  18. Tobin Paz

    I give examples of police brutality and disregard of the rule of law to people outside the United States and they think I’m crazy. Even people here don’t believe me. This is very troubling… police abuse is up and officer deaths are down. This law has an ulterior motive.

    Dramatic Drop in Police Officer Deaths in 2017

    There was a dramatic decrease in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2017, with the second lowest number of officer fatalities in more than 50 years, USA Today reported.

    1. JBird

      The ulterior motive is gaining more power and the use of it to control and suppress the people. There is a chance that a reform moment might come into power and we can’t have that, can we? It’s not quite 1984‘s O’Brien’s “… a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” just for the its own sake, but there is some of that, as well as fear of having to face legal consequences, or losing whatever sweet gig that they might have.

    2. Lord Koos

      People from other western countries are stunned when the get a chance to see American security forces in action. Back in the 90s I attended an educational seminar in the bay area, one of the other attendees, a German psychiatrist, was driving along I-80 near Berkeley when he saw by the side of the road a couple of cops with someone pulled over. One of the policemen had a black man on the ground with his foot on the guy’s head. The Dr. couldn’t believe it, he said “In Germany they would say ‘Nazi, Nazi!’ if they saw that”.

  19. John Buell

    Does anyone think it curious that police–who are clearly working class– are often in conflict with state and municipal governments over such issues as salaries and especially pensions. I would also like to know more about their work and educational experiences and relations to authority figures in those institutions. When police go beat up Occupy Wall Street they are aiding and abetting the very vulture funds and economic ideology etc that squeezes their benefits and economic futures. Police violence is unacceptable, but efforts to build alliances on quality of life and economic issues might facilitate progress on this.

    1. JBird

      My post wanders about, but I am trying to tie this together. And I am speaking very, very broadly, perhaps over-broadly.

      Police are often propagandized into thinking, and more importantly feeling, that they are soldiers in a war against Bad People. They don’t protect and serve the people, they fight bad people, scum by any means necessary.

      Police and prison guards, through their unions, have immense political power, often using the narrative that they are soldiers fighting a dangerous war. Even in California the prison union fought successfully sometimes to block legal reforms that might reduce the prison population, which would reduce their power, to get more pay, benefits, and guards.

      There is also the political tactic of linking people and ideas to demonize them. Terrorists, Murderers, rapists, robbers, gangs, poor, working class people, blacks, immigrants, protestors, civil rights activists, reformers, the (wrong) political, social, religious groups, and politicians, defense attorneys, and so on. If you can link even the mildest protest or a decent defense attorney to terrorism, you can more effectively neutralize them.

      Add the fact that even in the relatively rare times funds for police are cut, not raised, police can supplement it by stealing it from people via asset forfeiture, not charges, or arrests, required, just the police say so. More money is taken from people by the police than burglary. I can also point out that since the 2,996 deaths and over 6,000 injuries of 9/11 happened, probably more than 18,000 deaths, more than 60,000 injuries (going by the fact that most shootings, taserings, beatings, etc are not fatal – using war as a template, depending on circumstances it’s a ration of 1:2 historically to 1:8 in the current American wars.) Also going by the last four years of data, very roughly 10% plus are completely unarmed and that doesn’t count those who did not have the weapon in their hand, merely in their possession somewhere. So that’s 1,800 plus unarmed people who have been killed in the past 17 years. So they are acting as if they believe that they are in a very dangerous war and fighting for their lives.

      There is also immense amount of corruption in the justice system at all levels, which seems to be increasing despite the fact that a majority of the police, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges are trying to do a good job.

      Politicians want to win, the police help them, the politicians return the favor, the police have been festishizied, are convinced that they are above the law and are not really working class, and all the incentives are they for them to keep thinking that way. If they were convinced otherwise, they might have to look at their often brutal and illegal actions, and the gravy train would end.

      1. Lord Koos

        I’ve heard at least one policeman say that he was disturbed by his academy training, as he felt they were teaching cops to view the citizenry as the enemy.

        You are correct about the political power of the police, and I’d guess that had something to do with these so-called progressives voting for this wretched law, they were probably under some kind of pressure. At least, that’s the kindly explanation.

        1. EoH

          Might well have just changed the cover sheet on the outsourced training manual for Iraq war occupiers. We’ve already brought home some of the weapons – a tracked vehicle for every village green – and surveillance techniques – facial recognition. Policing methods will follow. The US has a tradition of that, starting with the Philippines.

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