I haven't posted on the Sean Bell shooting verdict, where four cops (two black) were acquitted of murder in a case where they killed an unarmed man and wounded two of his friends. Bell's family demands that those responsible for their son's death be punished. The problem is, if that's what justice is, the problem isn't four cops. The problem is visible in the mirror every morning.
The problem, in essense, is that America has become a nation of cowards. Virtually each and every one of us demands safety at all points in our daily lives. We cower in terror of dusky black people who want to kill us, dusky brown people overseas who want to kill us, we demand ever more and better safety equipment to be imposed on everybody to protect everybody from harm, we have, in essence, become the most pussified nation on the planet. Oh yes, there are exceptions, like random motorcycle-riding desert penguins and folks who volunteer to join the U.S. Army knowing that people are going to shoot at them. But by and large, we have become a nation of spineless invertebrates with all the backbone of a jellyfish.
And so we demand that our police forces punish more and more of those brown people who scare us. Worse yet, we join police forces and are ourselves scared by brown people and do whatever it takes to eliminate even the slightest possibility that we might actually be injured or even killed while doing our job. Even those of us who are brown. And so you get a case where an undercover cop misheard something, thought Bell was going for a gun, and opened fire and his backup thinking Bell was firing themselves opened fire, and a man is dead and four cowards are charged with being cowards for, well, doing what pretty much any of us in Spineless America would have done if we were armed with a gun and a get-out-of-jail-free card entitled "I thought he had a gun". After all, why wait until you're sure he has a gun? Then he might shoot you!
So I view the whole Sean Bell thing as sort of a microcosm of the nation as a whole, shooting the wrong people out of fear that some day, some how, they might shoot us first. Sean Bell died for the same reason that a million Iraqis have died -- because America is, at its very essence, today a nation of cowards. We've been too fat, too complacent, too... bought... for too long, and have let it go to our heads to the point where each and every one of us believes we are the most important person on the planet, much too important to do anything risky like, well, verify that Saddam has no WMD or Sean Bell has no gun. So all I can do is shake my head at the Sean Bell verdict. Those four cops who thought their own safety was more important than Sean Bell's safety should not be police officers, they should be sandwich artists or soda jerks or someplace where being scared all the time isn't a professional liability, but if we are to send everyone to jail who is responsible for the death of Sean Bell, that's gonna be a whole lot of barbed wire... and the streets of America would be strangely quiet, until the day that the forests took them back over and the sound of birds and animals at play reclaimed their ruins.
-- Badtux the Saddened Penguin
Cross-posted at Mockingbird's Medley