Monday, May 4, 2015

A simple, peaceful plan for Baltimore

I already wrote that I have little trouble caring about what really happens to Baltimore. But now is a good moment to explain exactly why that's the case.

But to understand some of where I'm coming from, I recommend you scroll down to Bob's 5/4/2015 1:38PM comment.

I'll summarize: "It's not their fault. I feel nothing but sympathy for those people who rioted, who robbed stores (destroying them in the process - by the way, these people merit no mention), who looted and set fires. Because it's everyone's fault BUT theirs. It's totally understandable why they terrorize people and cause crime, while it's utterly unthinkable you'd ever call them a bad word!"

Now, I could go to town on this comment. I could point out that in all of Bob's soul-searching, terrorized shop-owners, burning buildings (including places where people lived) and more didn't make any appearance. I could opine about what it means when - to quote Bob - 'the bluest of the blue states' has a situation like this on its hands, STILL.

But I'm not going to bother reasoning with Bob, because really - reasoning with him is not possible. That ended the moment I caught him in yet another contradiction, and his response was simply to produce the quote about he contains multitudes so contradicting himself is okay.

Reasoning is no use.

So this isn't for his edification, or really, anyone else's. I write here simply to explain my view about these things. And my view is as follows.

I don't really care about Baltimore.

See, Baltimore is relatively far away from where I live. I'm sure there are invisible connections between myself and that place - I know Syllabus, who I respect,  lives there to study, I'm sure there are economic and other links. But at the end of the day, it's far away from me. So long as they do not try to pass laws where -I- live, they can decide however they please with how to run their cities. You can say that that's a bad way to think about things, since we're all part of these United States of America, but really, I have my own problems in my own neighborhood. Caring about distant cities is optional.

My concern about Baltimore is purely one of containment. It's like an Ebola outbreak - there hits a point where my primary concern is 'whatever they have, I don't want', so hey.

In fact, I'll go further. I think Baltimore should be extraordinarily lenient when it comes to rioters. I think it's unfortunate that the national guard was activated at any point whatsoever. Really, it's a tremendous disappointment that they had cops out there trying to control things.

See, that's a key thing about these riots. Oh sure, they ruin lives. People are assaulted, businesses are ruined, livelihoods are lost, buildings burn. But the fact is, this is all a bit of show. At any time you can just activate the national guard, send in the men with guns and weapons, and stop it in its tracks. It always stops before the wealthy liberals take too much of a hit. Oh, the rioters can - and will - burn down liquor stores, corner stores, all manner of businesses scraped together by inner city (usually minority) citizens. But those nice, upper class suburbs filled with people who had a collective tingle running up their legs when Obama was elected and re-elected? They're shielded.

I would like that to stop.

In fact, I would like there to be reverse racial profiling in Baltimore. So a poor black man rapes a woman from a nice, cozy suburb. Look at the disadvantages he faces in his life. Look at how The System has let him down. Poor thing, how can we hold him responsible for his bad choices in life?

Let him walk.

So a man breaks into a house with his friends - a nice one, out where the cops used to patrol - and they tear the place apart looking for money. A man - a good man, why he voted for Obama - tries to defend his family, and the end result is he'll be spending the rest of his life walking with a limp and a speech impediment.

Let him walk.

In fact, let them all walk. Three strikes law? I think you should get three crimes that you can be guilty of and walk free from, no questions asked, in Baltimore. But only for eligible minorities. Whites of all classes, and anyone of the upper class - YOU shall be punished to the full extent of the law. And don't say 'self-defense'. Stand Your Ground laws are racist, even within your own homes.

Let us have this for a decade. And on top of it all? Let's have those fine citizens of Baltimore pay their fair share. I think 'half of everything' - a one-time (so we'll say) wealth transfer from everyone owning more than 50k in assets will do the trick. Between that and an appropriately 50% tax level for everyone in the same bracket - along with, of course, waived taxes (including sales) for the eligible minorities - well, it would go a long way towards making things fair.

Of course, I don't believe any of this would be fair at all. Nor do I think it would help. In fact, I am describing as close to hell on earth as can be had right now - in this brief window of time - for the West.

But I am describing what many in Baltimore would apparently regard as radical progressivism, fairness and tolerance, and a number of other things.

And by God, I think that's exactly what they should get. All that I ask - my only request - is that we have a good number of cameras in the cities and suburbs, broadcasted online.

It will be a learning experience, don't you think?

28 comments:

B. Prokop said...

"I don't really care about Baltimore."

Then you have nothing to say on this subject. Call me when you care.

Crude said...

Then you have nothing to say on this subject.

Clearly, I do.

I'm more than happy to promote the most progressive of policies - limited to Baltimore. What I do not care about is the harm my policies cause to the people who live there.

And really, isn't that what being a progressive is all about?

Come now, Bob. I outlined policies that should thrill you. Why aren't you cheering? Why aren't you saying 'Finally! A brilliant plan - justice for everyone! We'll have a beautiful city in a decade!'?

Do you object to some part of my plan?

malcolmthecynic said...

I think you'd really like John Wright's story "Idle Thoughts" (free): http://www.abyssapexzine.com/2014/09/idle-thoughts/

I think it's one of his most clever.

Graham Esposito said...

I don't get it. Sincere question for Bob: are you only able to "condemn" actions when their motives are either incomprehensible or plainly sadistic? I "understand" why a single black mother would get into using hard drugs, I don't think she's actively thinking "I need to REALLY screw this kid up." or anything other than needing to mentally escape a bad situation. All that means is I don't have cause to proverbially "kick the doors down" and talk about her like I would talk about Medusa, but I have zero problem saying "this is wrong and has to stop." Likewise, I too understand that SOME rioters are motivated by despair and rage that's not difficult to imagine. I don't know what you mean by "condemning" them, but I see absolutely no reason to not say "these actions were morally wrong and unjust." other than it might make you feel bad for saying it.

B. Prokop said...

but I see absolutely no reason to not say "these actions were morally wrong and unjust."

Can you say that also about the actions that created whole neighborhoods of people apt to do such things? You see, I am a firm believer in Free Will, so when I see one neighborhood almost unanimously acting in one way, and another in an entirely different manner, then a blind person ought to be able see that there's something besides just individual choice going on here.

Do you honestly believe that, one at a time, nearly every individual in a depressed neighborhood just happened to make the same bad choice, while at the same time, nearly every individual in an affluent neighborhood made a good choice? Ridiculous! How could that even be possible in the absence of factors larger than individual choice?

So don't be so quick to condemn.

And I meant what I said to Crude. If he really doesn't care about Baltimore, then I care equally about his opinions on what happens here. I live here, which makes me responsible for what occurs here. If rioters burn down a drug store, I bear as much guilt for that crime (and it is a crime) as the people who smashed its windows and looted it. Maybe what I should have said in my previous posting is, if I am going to condemn anyone, then I need to include myself.

Syllabus said...

The main problem with this entire set of circumstances is that I see a great deal of going on about how the police are violating the civil rights of a lot of people, being overly-brutal, and so on. And this is, unfortunately, largely accurate. And so some people are lumping this entire thing in with the Garner situation, and so forth.

The obvious problem with this is that it obscures another extremely relevant part of the story - namely, that crime in Baltimore is pretty fucking bad. Granted, a lot of it is concentrated in Inner Harbor, the areas around Camden Yards, and so forth. But even where I'm living, in a pretty secure part of the city, I regularly walk by cars that have had their windows smashed in. Hell, there are on average like 3 or 4 crime reports from Hopkins per week; Charles Village, and the area around the university, is pretty damned safe most of the time. Relatively speaking, anyway.

So to just take the police brutality in a completely uncontextualized manner and winge on about how it's so, so terrible and needs to be curbed, while something of a valid complaint, is making law enforcement take all the blame for things that are very often a reaction to the criminal activity going on.

I guess this is what happens when you give those damn right-wing anarchists who slash government programs in favour of less intervention and who support school choice control of a city for 50+ years. Shows that if we let those small-government nutjobs actually run the government, we descend into Somalia.

Oh wait.

malcolmthecynic said...

And I meant what I said to Crude. If he really doesn't care about Baltimore, then I care equally about his opinions on what happens here. I live here, which makes me responsible for what occurs here. If rioters burn down a drug store, I bear as much guilt for that crime (and it is a crime) as the people who smashed its windows and looted it.

See, comments like this are why I can't take you seriously.

That is completely insane.

Crude said...

That is completely insane.

Well, it is. But you're not reading the subtext.

Bob's claim of guilt is largely for show here. He doesn't feel any amount of personal responsibility, which is why he's not selling his possessions and handing it over to the looted stores' owners. What's key there - and it's subtle - isn't that Bob blames himself.

It's that he blames everyone else.

That's the subtle key here. Bob's crawling up onto the metaphorical cross here, and yes, "progressives" love that kind of show. But the point is - he doesn't think he should be up there alone. By metaphorically criticizing himself, he's also metaphorically criticizing everyone else. That way, the blame can be assigned as he sees fit. Which will ultimately mean, 'It's no one's fault, because it's everyone's fault. So now let's add another social program to the mix.'

By the way - note how if you and your friends smash through the windows of a 7-11, and beat the shopowner bloody and threaten to kill him if he causes trouble, loot the place, then set it on fire... Bob can't condemn you. You're a victim, and Bob is here to help you, and force other people to help you too.

But man, he sure can blame just about anyone else in any other context.

And, notice this:

You see, I am a firm denier of Free Will, so when I see one neighborhood almost unanimously acting in one way, and another in an entirely different manner, then a blind person ought to be able see that there's something besides just individual choice going on here.

Isn't it weird how this makes vastly more sense than the original version, all with a change of a couple words?

B. Prokop said...

"which is why he's not selling his possessions"

How little you know, Crude. Like St. Paul, I must now make a fool of myself and "boast" just to set the record straight.

Last year I did exactly that. I gave away 99% of everything I own, that I had accumulated over the decades. The Salvation Army needed two truck to carry off the household furnishings I gave them gratis. It took me 28 trips (I counted) to Goodwill to deliver all the smaller items I gave to them. My piano I donated to my church, and even paid to have it delivered to them. I sold my house, made 120,000 dollars on the deal... and kept not one penny of that. I gave it all away.

All. Of. It.

I kept (most of) my books. Even of those, I took 4 or 5 boxloads down to the "take a book; leave a book" shelves at the Daily Grind coffee shop down the street.

Now criticize me for not walking the walk. Please.

Mr. Green said...

B. Prokop: If rioters burn down a drug store, I bear as much guilt for that crime (and it is a crime) as the people who smashed its windows and looted it.

Um, I consider you a decent chap and all, Bob, but you do realise that that sentence is literally insane, don't you?

If you truly consider yourself guilty, then I'd like you to tell us what reparations you are making to your victims. Have you been round to the shops with some cash in hand, broom in the other hand, asking what you can do to help fix up the trashed windows, etc.? Because if you haven't, if you're guilty and you've just been sitting at your computer bragging about your crimes, then I'm going to have to revise my opinion of you.

(P.S. While I was wrestling with login errors, I see Malcolm made a similar comment. Clearly, it's not just me.)

Crude said...

Now criticize me for not walking the walk. Please.

A grand gesture, Bob, but there's a problem.

It's a non-sequitur.

I didn't accuse you of not being generous, or of hoarding your goods. I accused you of being utterly insincere in your claim of guilt - equivalent with that of the rioters - in looting, burning, and destroying those shops.

Let's repeat what I said:

Bob's claim of guilt is largely for show here. He doesn't feel any amount of personal responsibility, which is why he's not selling his possessions and handing it over to the looted stores' owners. What's key there - and it's subtle - isn't that Bob blames himself.

It's that he blames everyone else.

That's the subtle key here. Bob's crawling up onto the metaphorical cross here, and yes, "progressives" love that kind of show. But the point is - he doesn't think he should be up there alone. By metaphorically criticizing himself, he's also metaphorically criticizing everyone else. That way, the blame can be assigned as he sees fit. Which will ultimately mean, 'It's no one's fault, because it's everyone's fault. So now let's add another social program to the mix.'


Which of that is untrue? What part of it will you deny?

You handed nothing over to the store owners - your charity, while grand and laudable, is unconnected to this event.

And just to make this more interesting...

Do you consider the shopowners to share equal guilt with you?

Syllabus said...

I live here, which makes me responsible for what occurs here. If rioters burn down a drug store, I bear as much guilt for that crime (and it is a crime) as the people who smashed its windows and looted it.

Even if your first sentence is accurate, the second does not remotely follow from it.

B. Prokop said...

Corporate guilt is orthodox Catholic doctrine. Ever heard of original sin? How about Jesus referring to "a wicked and faithless generation" - a whole generation, mind you, something far larger than a mere city. And the Old Testament is full of reference to the "crimes of Israel" or other countries.

If what I wrote is insane, then you have to consider Holy Scripture insane.

And excuse me for not sweeping up the streets. Totally unrelated to the riots, I slipped and fell on a sidewalk on the way to Mass the Sunday before the disturbances. I have been essentially a chair-bound cripple since then, scarcely able to walk even 10 steps without shooting pains all up and down my left side. I'm beginning to suspect I have a hernia. (I've had one before, so I know what they feel like.) At my age (63) all falls are bad, and this one was a doozy.

Crude said...

If what I wrote is insane, then you have to consider Holy Scripture insane.

No, I have to interpret your interpretation of it insane, not to mention desperate. Are you now going to retroactively say you are equally blameworthy with Stalin and Mao for -their- sins?

Bob, why do you do things like this? I have seen you assign blame and angrily criticize person after person for one failing, sin or crime after another (even alleged) - you know you have. Everyone else has likely seen it too. So why play this game?

This is exactly why I say it's pointless to reason with you. You will say whatever you please, you'll contradict yourself, you'll scream 'Scripture Says!' with the wackiest interpretations (and then say 'But everyone can disagree about scripture' in other contexts, to forgive your political favorites of accusations against them), and you'll generally work overtime to dismiss any problems with your claims. Not address, not answer - dismiss, treat them as not even worth responding to.

Maybe you think your politics are so precious and important that it's worth any contradiction, misrepresentation or otherwise to maintain them. Well, consider this: you live, by your own reckoning, in a state where that kind of attitude is on display in spectacular fashion. It has been for decades.

The result is a decaying inner city with a sizable population of angry people who consider themselves utterly blameless (they reject your 'equally blameworthy' logic, which I suppose by your measure-of-the-moment makes them bad Christians too) of their situation, and entirely justified in looting stores, threatening shopkeepers, and burning buildings to the ground.

You know, come to think of it - I suppose you do bear some of the blame for what's gone on in Baltimore. But whatever blame you have is due to the idol you put on the altar alongside the cross.

B. Prokop said...

"Maybe you think your politics are so precious"

I've explained this to you before. I have no politics.

Yes, you can point to quotes from me out of the distant past (the internet is immortal), but you'll note that ever since the day (quite some time ago now) that I swore off partisanship (I'm sure you can find the posting - I'm too lazy to search for it) that I have been as good as my word. Yes.. I "saw the light". People can change. St. Paul changed. Heck, even Khrushchev changed. And I changed. I once said and wrote things I now repudiate without reserve or hesitation.

So if I really need to do so again, here goes: I renounce every political statement I ever made prior to my realization that political partisanship is a Mortal Sin, putting one in extreme danger of eternal damnation.

Crude said...

I've explained this to you before. I have no politics.

You'll pardon me if I'm skeptical.

B. Prokop said...

You mean... im-skeptical?!?!?!

Crude said...

I said skeptical, not a damn idiot.

B. Prokop said...

Indeed.

malcolmthecynic said...

Bluntly - renouncing politics completely is impossible.

This would mean that you have absolutely no opinion on how anything should be run, and if people do it's a mortal sin. That's absurd.

Also, yes, I consider the idea that I am responsible for what other people do, when I haven't so much as looked at them funny, completely insane.

God condemned Israel as a whole. I am not God, and anyway, he also called several people within Israel righteous. I think that's cherry-picking biblical quotes to make an absurd point.

Crude said...

I think Bob would fall back here to his having renounced partisanship, not 'anything political'. That said? I'm still skeptical. Bob also denied up and down that he was ever partisan once, and also that he was serious about being so happy at living in a blue state.

So yeah. I'm skeptical. And I can leave it at that for now.

Syllabus said...

Corporate guilt is orthodox Catholic doctrine. Ever heard of original sin?

This is plainly incorrect:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.


CCC, P3 S1 Chp 1 Art. 8 V

I see none of those conditions argued for or met in your statement, so I conclude that you are mistaken on your own grounds.

Moreover, original sin means that we are all corporately guilty of Adam's sin, not of each other's sins. So your argument fails on that count as well.

malcolmthecynic said...

I think Bob would fall back here to his having renounced partisanship, not 'anything political'.

That's not a very useful thing to say, especially if your ideas tend to fall on one side or another of the partisan divide.

Crude said...

In spite of all this, I like Bob. But I want to point this out.

We're at this point because Bob can't even just plain call out rioters and looters as criminals. That is the level of mental shielding that's in play here.

Graham Esposito said...

Bob,
You're presenting me with a false dichotomy of choosing between people as *complete* psychological products of a bad environment or a set of radically free agents equipped with the same exact emotional training as everyone else.

If you cannot say to anyone who is in a state of despair (despair being a sin) "What you are doing is wrong, let me help you do what is right." then you are effectively leaving them for dead. I still have no idea what you mean when you say "condemn" but it sounds like you think the only way to point out a wrong is through detached righteous indignation. If I'm wrong about that, please clarify. But if you deny people their moral agency, their capacity to even comprehend what is good, you become a psychological slum lord. If you indulge the fatalism of poverty, people will remain fatalistic. I've seen this in my work in Africa: the great white liberal machine rolls in, makes no attempt to address the moral chaos in an area, and that same moral chaos undermines the efforts made to improve any material circumstance. Address both, or have the courage to recognize the damage done by only addressing one and not the other.

B. Prokop said...

"Bob can't even just plain call out rioters and looters as criminals.

Boy, at the risk of sounding like Candy Crowley at the Obama-Romney debate, allow me to quote myself (from May 5, 9:00 AM):

" I bear as much guilt for that crime (and it is a crime) as the people..." (emphasis added)

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

'"I bear as much guilt for that crime (and it is a crime) as the people..." (emphasis added)'

If you really do think this, then it means you are accessory to these crimes -- and you acknowledge they are crimes, and that you are *as* guilty as the direct perpetrators. Being accessory in the committing of a crime is a crime punishable by law, so why don't you present yourself at the nearest Police station to be indicted and judged accordingly? What do you think is the sentence you deserve? What reparations are you prepared to pay?

I am not trying to be too hard on you, as I do agree that there is a legitimate sense of communal guilt. It simply does not entail what you seem to think it entails (assuming I understand you); in particular it does not do away with private, or personal, responsability and guilt. There may be attenuating circumstances (I am not an American and I do not know the particulars of the Baltimore happenings), but it serves no good purpose, in fact it is counterproductive, not to call things by their names.

B. Prokop said...

"why don't you present yourself at the nearest Police station to be indicted and judged accordingly?"

It would be more appropriate to go to the confessional. If you wish to quibble, it's more of a sin (in my case) than a crime. As the Confiteor says, "I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do" (emphasis added) I freely confess that I have not paid sufficient attention to the systemic problems in the Sandtown/Winchester neighborhoods of my city. As a citizen of a participatory democracy, that makes me personally culpable - if not before a Judge, then most certainly before my creator.