Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Point of View vs. Video Views

Is the world more insane than it ever has been or is the vomit-like dissemination of images, text and information just showing the insanity in more clarity than ever? (Makes me think of Spenser's dragon vomiting paper and books for some reason.)

The chicken-or-egg factor is that it may well be that the world was always insane and that the vomit-like dissemination is showing it more vividly but that this dissemination is simply encouraging more insanity. 

Police, for example. Do I always like them? No -- but do I always like any group in any profession? No. The sad fact is, though, that, when a waiter is unlikable it ruins your meal. When a police officer is unlikable, it could -- conceivably -- ruin your life. Being a police officer is being in a position in which one could easily choose to abuse his power. No doubt. Sadly, it is also a profession in which not using one's power at the right time an lead to injury or death for the officer. Every decision balances on the proverbial blade.

Again, it could lead to an abuse of power. Sure, there a few evil eggs in the law-enforcement fridge, but the majority of people, while certainly not perfect, are not evil. This carries over to the majority of cops. They are, after all, humans. 

Let's face fact: we need law-enforcement. Most of us have, at some point, been glad of the police, too. 

That said, I am a firm believer in the importance of questioning authority. It is essential in a free society. Somehow, though, "questioning authority" has turned into "baiting authority" in the modern do-it-yourself media age. 

One can find copious videos of amateur lawyers acting like three-year-olds during routine traffic stops, just to anger the cops into making them famous. You can watch this one, if you want, but if you don't want to, let me summarize: the "straw man, " clickbait title is "Cops arrest for asking for a pen to sign a ticket." This young man gets pulled over for a missing front license plate. A citation is in the works, but he baits the officer with the obviousness of an attention-seeking grade-schooler: why are you talking to me in that tone of voice; I can read the citation sideways if I want; I told you my licence plate fell off; "I'm pretty sure you guys are supposed to give a warning for something like that;" "You're still holding my citation, so I can't stop talking..."  (!!??) It goes on. And on. 

What happens is that the kid gets arrested. No, I won't pretend to know if that is procedurally okay, but the fact remains that he baited this cop into anger by refusing to sign a citation he could have (though, unjustly) gone to court to fight later. (The video-maker also alleges that dashboard tapes were erased and paperwork was fudged. This is all bad stuff, if true, and no official should be allowed to get away with it. But that's not the point here.) 

Still... I don't want to simplify this into "if you do what you are told, everything will be okay." There is a time to fight and to argue. But the truth is, I have never seen one of these videos in which the "protagonist" didn't do everything he could to make the cop as angry as he could. (We are not talking, here, to be clear, about things like the Eric Garner video -- that's a whole different ball of wax, way beyond this.) 

Some situations are simple: If you have no front license plate in a state that requires one, you are guilty. Pay the stinking fine. If you have something to really say or if you have been truly mistreated, tell the world through whatever means you have available. But stop trying to "go viral" in the guise of trying to expose's embarrassing and it is bad for us all. It stokes the flames of insanity and instability even higher.

Of course, the masses are willing to jump on board with anything that attacks the police. So, as usual, the big issues -- the Garners and Michael Browns -- are robbed of their importance and impact by the ubiquitous and numbing injection of bee-essers like this white kid who has never been subject to the kind of injustices and prejudices and profiling that many young black men have seen during their entire lives. 

...too many voices to drown out the important ones. That's the danger of the availability of a forum for everyone. 

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