Realizing that my eyes have been shut and my mouth has been silent

I

When people tell you that it’s “not polite” to discuss something, or that you shouldn’t talk about “X”, they’re trying to control you. It took me a long time to recognize this, but once you see it, you can’t un-see it. Why is it impolite to talk about your salary? Because the people paying your salary don’t want their workers to discuss pay*. You’re not supposed to talk about politics or religion, not so much because they’re controversial, but because silence is a tacit acceptance of the status quo. For goodness’ sake, don’t ever talk about female sexuality because not because it’s rude, but because it’s a way of keeping women under control.

II

Here’s what I’ve been struggling with: It has recently become impossible to deny that, in the United States, the police can and do kill black people without any good reason to do so and those same police are extremely unlikely to be punished for doing so. I’m not going to list out all of the cases which have been captured on video and aired on television, but there are too many of them for me to pretend there isn’t a pattern.

That’s not what makes me sick, though. The thing that makes me sick is that we’re only seeing these things because of the fact that the means for recording these incidents have only recently become ubiquitous. So, I’m forced to ask myself: “Are these incidents a new thing which have only begun to happen at a time that coincides with the technology to record them, or have police always been killing black people and getting away with it because there is no recording of their actions?” It seems exceedingly unlikely to me that this sort of thing has only just started at the same time that people started recording police confrontations. It seems far, far more likely that all of the stories we have been hearing but unable to actally see were correct and that police have been killing black people in the United States with impunity.

It sickens me that I had to see it to “get” it. It sickens me to think that this has been going on for a long time and I never really considered how grave the situation was. It especially sickens me to hear people act as apologists for the police and try to tell people who are saying something about these killings that they are the ones who should shut up.

III

And then there’s good ol’ Rand Paul. The same guy who is concerned that the feds are planning to invade Texas (so, you know, he’s an authority on stuff) doesn’t think we should be discussing the causes of the rioting in Baltimore at this time:

“I think there’s a time and a place for talking about root causes, and I think in the middle of a riot, you’ve got to have safety and security and really that needs to be all that’s discussed in the interim.”

Of course, this didn’t stop Rand Paul from talking about what he felt are the root causes:

“Really, there are so many things we can talk about, not in the immediate aftermath but over time. The breakdown of the family structure, lack of fathers, lack of sort of a moral code in our society.”

Right. He can talk about root causes because he’s placing the blame squarely on the victims, but YOU can’t, because you might say something like “wait, isn’t the root cause something more like ‘police are killing black people and there are no repercussions?'”

As patronizing as Paul is, he really can’t hold a candle to Ted Cruz. Here’s President Obama’s statement:

“We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions. This has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time. This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.”

The President’s statement strikes me as reasonable, measured, and not-especially-controversial. In short, it is true. Cruz’s response was to say that Obama shouldn’t criticize the police (warning-this is a Newsmax link, which seems appropriate for Cruz but it’s odious nonetheless):

“It is not beneficial to minority communities to vilify and target law enforcement.”

Of course not. How could it be possibly be a good thing for the victims of unwarranted killings to make the murderers out to be villains? Oh wait, no. That totally makes sense. Cruz is somehow making even less sense than when he said “Net Neutrality is Obamacare for the internet,” and that, my friends, is saying something.

IV

This is all a very long way of saying that ignoring the fact that police in the U.S. can and do kill black people with frightening regularity is not an option. And, when a couple of real assholes try to tell us not to talk about it and just accept whatever they tell us to accept, we need to keep talking and, if have to, shout, because these dudes are trying to shut us down for a reason.
P.S. It is very, very illegal in the U.S. for employers to try to prevent their employees from discussing their wages. Just sayin’…

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