Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Bitter rain

As I type this, police officers are beating students in Berkeley. At least one student is lying bleeding on the ground and ambulances are being kept away by the police until the situation is "secured", whatever that means. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania the Penn State students are rioting over the firing of Joe Paterno and the cops are just standing around with their nightsticks stuck up their asses, because hey, it's just kids letting off steam, it's not as if they were threatening the profits of the 1% or anything, right?

To say that I am disgusted beyond belief is an understatement. I cannot blog further on this tonight. So I will give you some bonus music that is all too fitting:

-- Badtux the Sickened Penguin


  1. Song was more comprehensible than RATM, but it would have sounded better if Springsteen sang it.

    As for the police riot in Berkeley vs. the police non-response to the riot IN FAVOUR OF FUCKING CHILD MOLESTATION, I too feel disgust. I've long had the attitude of "Fcuk America. Let it burn." But that's the wrong attitude to have. When the U.S. goes down -- as I'm convinced it will, because NOTHING substantial is being done to correct the evil forces at work -- what emerges is not going to be pretty. Pain, blood and death are coming. I would not be surprised if the population of the current territory covered by the 48 contiguous states is 100 million less in 2100 than it is today. And those 100 million souls are not going down the easy way...

    When Mrs. Bukko and I were making financial arrangements to exit the U.S. in January 2005, we took a side trip to Dachau. Munich isn't too far from Zurich, and I had never been to a concentration camp. My wife had been there several times, and she's convinced she died there in a previous life, but she's spooky that way. Me, I'm all about believing in science, this is the one life we get, etc., but I'm not going to argue with her.

    The entry hall at Dachau, where prisoners were processed as they came in, now has a lot of historical information explaining Hitler's rise to power. (Sorry if I've rattled on about this before on your blog, Tux, don't mean to bore you if this is repetition.) It laid out the "tick-tock" of THIS machination to put Nazis in control of a local legislature, THAT judicial decree oppressing different people's rights, ANOTHER takeover of an industry so that it could be used to manufacture weapons... The bit-by-bit descent into madness.

    We see the rise of barbarity as a smooth thing now, compressed as it is by the hindsight of historical perspective. But to the Germans living through the 1930s, caught in the middle of the details, would they have any ability to sense on the grand scale how things were coming apart?

    I feel that same way now as I see the U.S. doing its slow-motion collapse. Life is getting nastier. It seems to be building to a vicious crescendo. Each little event, every new "Don't taze me, bro" degradation -- it's part of a pattern that's ramping toward monstrosity. A century into the future, is there going to be a historical multi-media display located in some monument to horror, detailing how the days we're living in today were part of the accretion of details that led to the unimagineable? Can we see it, when we're in the midst of it?

  2. Um. Not to defend the kids in Pennsylvania but I don't think they were rioting in favor of child molestation. They were upset because a beloved coach was fired. A coach who was not a child molester, btw and who *did* report what he knew. Obviously he could have and should have done more but he is hardly the monster people are making him out to be. I try to imagine the scene around here if something similar would have have happened to Bo Schembechler.

    I also fail to see what is so disgusting about the Pennsylvania cops handling things a little bit better than the cops in California. Or maybe I am off base and the disgust is for the beatings of the kids in Berkeley because that is something that is disgusting and unnecessary.

  3. Lynne, I didn't see anything about police using batons on the yoofs who were messing things up in State College. In the New York Times story ablout the riot, I read this:

    "One man in gas mask rushed a half dozen police officers in protective gear, blasted one officer with spray underneath his safety mask and then sprinted away. The officer lay on the ground, rubbing his eyes."

    Nothing about beat-downs by cops. If someone had done that in Berkeley, or thrown flares at cops like they did in Pa., would live ammo have been used? I would not be surprised.

    My disgust stems from the stupid overreation to a freaking football coach -- and yes, I'm aware of "JoePa's" rep because he was coaching Penn State back in the late 1970s when the Nittany Lions used to thrash the U of Md. Terps where I went to school. But covering up for years that one of your coaches who buggered 10-year-old boys in the shower is wrong. Any more time than it takes to alert the police on the telephone is too long. I am required by law to report any abuse I suspect that I come across in my job. Does a university employee not have the same legal requirement, to say nothing of the moral duty?

    It also aggravates me that Penn State students wig out over something so insubstantial. If football is such a part of their identity, it's time to join the FBI's witless protection program (sic) and get a new one.

    One of the books I recently finished reading is "Empire of Illusion" by Chris Hedges. Anyone who hasn't read this, ought to. It's not too long, and it's a fast read. It details how the collective mindset of America is eaten up by pseudo-events, while reality gets worse and worse. A more damning indictment of American culture I have yet to read, and I read a lot of stuff along those lines. This Penn State hoo-hah, set against the reality of what the Berkeley kids are protesting against (although Hedges sizzles U.C. as being elitist idiots, too) illustrates the farce.

  4. It just sounded a little bit like you were disgusted that the police in PA did not start beating up the kids. I am glad that they didn't and from what I can tell from accounts of the situation, it sounds like the police handled the situation quite well.

    It is wrong to cover up sexual abuse but failing to report is not the same as covering it up. And, he *did* report it although not to the police. But fwiw, I guess I am guilty of that too. Because when I was a teenager, I moved during high school and at the new school, I fell into a clique of girls who sort of got together in junior high school because they had been sexually abused by fathers and/or step fathers. Some of their fathers had jobs that put them in contact with children but I never notified the police or the schools where they worked. Mostly because I had no evidence other than the testimony of the victim but also for a lot of other reasons. I don't know. I don't consider myself to be a bad person because of this although perhaps knowing what I know now, I might have done things differently. But I guess my proximity to this issue and the families involved has allowed me to see how easily people can get into denial about this kind of thing. In this case, I can easily see a scenario where Paterno was told by someone that someone else (whom he trusted) was engaging in a sex act. Maybe he didn't really believe it? Maybe when he reported it to his boss, he assumed it was investigated and found not to have merit. I don't know. I do think it was very appropriate for Penn State to fire him and from what I can tell, Peterno himself seems to understand why.

    I also, btw, tend to find the worship at the alter of football to be about as stupid as any other thing. Sometimes innocent people get sucked up into it too? My sister had her couch taken out of her apartment and set on fire in the street because Michigan State won a football game and she wasn't too happy about that. Nevertheless, let's remember that we are talking about stupid 18-22 y/o kids who do really dumb things like riot because they think that football is the beginning and end of all that is good in the world.

    Well, it isn't just the kids who think like that. I mean, I am sitting here in a town of 100,000 people that has a the largest stadium in the whole country where the crowds can top 114,000 and it is all for football. That always cracks me up. The entire population of the city can fit into the stadium! So while I agree with you that maybe football shouldn't be this important to people, it is very real to me that football *is* really important to people.

  5. I'm always up for The Nightwatchman.

    And yeah, the police find it unacceptable for folks to riot for real democratic process, but not when they are ticked off that a man had to face the consequences of his own non-action.

    There is a lot of "Omelas" to walk away from in this country!

  6. Bukko, Tom's rumbling voice adds its own character. Sort of a mixture of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and of course Bruce. And while I hope your apocalyptic vision does not come to pass, I fear it will, because the only people who could stop it are either too apathetic to care or are too busy fiddling crazy dance tunes to do anything about Rome burning.

    Lynne: Teachers and school administrators have an affirmative duty to report child molestation under both state laws and every moral and ethical code on the planet. It is repulsive for anybody to be aware of child molestation and not report it, but it is especially repulsive (as well as likely a violation of the law) when it is a teacher or school administrator who does this. To riot because an educator is fired for violating the first principle of his profession, which is to help children, is reprehensible. And yes, I feel that the treatment given to the peaceful UCB protesters and the treatment given to the rioting Penn State hooligans should have been reversed -- i.e., no beat-downs for the students protesting for better education (they were protesting the budget cuts that have gutted the university), plentiful beat-downs or at least mass arrests for the hooligans busting shit up just because. It's called *justice*, and we ain't got a whole lot of it left in this country, apparently.

    Labrys, we are all the child in the basement in Omelas, unless you are one of the 1%. All of us are being treated with various degrees of horror in order that the 1% can live their peaceful paradise. It is major horror if you are one of the 60% who have no assets, barely enough income to survive, no hope of your life ever being better. It is lesser horror if you are one of the lucky ones like me who find ourselves making that horrific bargain ourselves, to allow the suffering in exchange for not ourselves being thrown into that dungeon. And then there are the ones that walk away, like Bukko. So it goes.

    - Badtux the Sombre Penguin

  7. Yes, teachers and administrators do have a duty to report this kind of thing to the police. Both the graduate assistant and Paterno should have reported this incident to the police in addition to reporting it to their supervisors. I've read the grand jury report and it seems to me that Paterno's boss seriously erred and then tried to lie about it. I don't know if Paterno knew that they were doing that or not. Still, the real villain here is Sandusky. And yeek, that grand jury report is very disturbing.

    As far as the Penn State students. Yes, they're dumbasses wasting their energy on an issue that shouldn't even be an issue. But one of the things about rights is that they apply to everyone and people have a constitutional right to assemble even for really stupid things. The police do NOT have the right to cause unnecessary physical harm. Mass arrests for property damage or violence? I am totally on board with that. Using tear gas to disperse an unruly crowd? I am on board with that too. I believe that is exactly what the Pennsylvania cops did and I give them a lot of credit for handling things well.

    The Berkeley cops on the other hand. Man, what is wrong with the cops out there? So far the Occupy Detroit camp has had no problems at all. I took a picture last Sunday while I was taking a ride on the People Mover. No problems at all. And we're talking *Detroit* cops.

  8. "the cops are just standing around with their nightsticks stuck up their asses"

    ---Maybe they're doing that in solidarity with the 10-year-olds Sandusky f*cked up the ass?

  9. Bukko,

    I disagree with you, and yet I am flummoxed @ the situation, as well.

    It also aggravates me that Penn State students wig out over something so insubstantial. If football is such a part of their identity, it's time to join the FBI's witless protection program (sic) and get a new one.

    To be a part of Big Sports, like college football, IS to be a part of a witness protection program. Apparently this Sandusky had a pattern of violating children over decades, and yet all was swept under the carpet. He even formed a charity to provide him access to sate his paedophilia. His keys to the Penn State locker room were even revoked, yet he was seen working out there recently.

    I am glad to see students protesting about human violations.

  10. @Lisa I don't think those students were protesting about the sex abuse. They were upset that a beloved coach was fired. Maybe they *should* have been protesting the cover up because that is really going to hurt their school, both in reputation and financially. But I think most of them were out there because of football.

  11. Thanks, Lynne. I didn't follow the protests, only the cause of the firing (20 yrs. in the making).

    Well -- now I AM with Bukko.


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