Saturday, May 28, 2022


I have written -- I don't care to go back and look how -- many blogs over the years in the wake of American gun atrocities. This will be the final blog on this topic. Not for the reason I'd have wished -- that America finally woke up and started valuing non-fetuses -- but for, sadly and infuriatingly, a much darker reason. They didn't care when a bunch of white kids died, they sure as hell won't care when it's only a bunch of brown kids! The trend is accelerating. Before too much longer America will be facing multiple high profile mass shootings every week. Then every day. And it all comes back to the single word that is the title of this blog.  


My dad was an Ontario Provincial Police constable from 1968 to 2006. He could have made staff sergeant at a minimum through his career, but always declined promotions because he strongly preferred the road life and the interactions with the community that came with it. A fact I will proudly reference every time I mention my father's profession is that he never once fired his service weapon. He received a commendation for that. 

Dad spent three quarters of his career patrolling the King's Highway 69 from Parry Sound to the French River. In that time he saw more carnage than any ten people should ever see in their lifetimes. He also saved lives. Many of them. He did and does the same as a volunteer fire captain to this day.

My father is a good man who happens to have been a cop. I've said as much on Reddit in the past and had my eyes opened. "Nothing against your father," the mildest of the replies went, "but as the son of a cop you are absolutely the LEAST qualified person to make that assessment."

I bristled at that. My relationship with my father is irrelevant. I would surely never exploit it, by name dropping to get of out of reduce trouble, but then...I've only been in "cop trouble" twice in my life. And the first time, THE COP ran ME over. In London, this happened. Story here for the curious.

I said as much to the person, also mentioning a distinguished career as a volunteer firefighter, in which he has saved even more lives and property. "Good for him," my impromptu debate partner said. "Ask him if he's aware of any song anywhere called "Fuck Tha Firefighters."

"Well of course there's a song called Fuck Tha Police," I said. "I wouldn't expect criminal scum to write love songs to the cops that arrest them for breaking the law, would you?"

And he said something then that struck me dumb.

"Who writes the laws? And for what purpose?"

That conversation has recurred to me at intervals for years. I have thought very deeply on it, and researched, and what I found, again and again, upended my view of the world. I was forcibly reminded of it this week as yet another horrific mass shooting was generating lots of thoughts and a plethora of prayers and fuck all else. 

The cartoon is missing a second panel in which the officer arrests the civilian for "disrespect" and bodyslams her to the ground

You go into any place Republicans lurk and Texas (and Buffalo, and every one of the 245 other mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year (!!!!) are strictly verboten topics. They live in the same blind terror they have for at least 40 years, because that's how long I have been hearing that the Democrats are coming to take their guns.

If only that were true. It's not, of course, because -- hello? -- children are still being massacred and ho-hum, nothing to see here. Three hundred and twenty one people are shot each and every day in America, and nobody cares. The ammosexuals held a celebration scant days after 19 children and two teachers were killed. Yes, the NRA rally had been planned for months...and if that benighted organization had the slightest scintilla of shame, they'd have cancelled it before the echoes of the last gunshot had died away. 

They are dancing on the graves of children, they know it, and if you call them out on it you might get shot yourself. 

The Republicans do have some ideas to combat school shootings. Nothing to do with guns, of course -- what, are you one of those commie demonkkkrat liberals? As Lauren Boebert, Queen Murderstick herself, said recently, "When 9/11 happened, we didn't ban planes." (True, but when you buy a plane ticket in the U.S., there's a (horror of horrors) background check. AND security screening. This woman was elected to high office.)

No, sensible solutions, like arming teachers (gift WaPo article accessible for the next six weeks). Like "hardening" schools. Or, and this would satisfy so many Republican wet dreams at once, getting rid of those stupid schools altogether.

That last link is not some random whackjob. It comes straight from the Federalist Society, the same shadowy  (whackjob) organization that ran a lot of the legwork on the January 6, 2020 coup attempt. They are the brains behind what an e-friend unfailingly calls the AFP -- the Actual Fascist Party, while groups like the Oath Keepers and various self-styled "militias" make up the Republican brawn. The Federalist Society's end goal is to return America to a time only straight, cis, white males had power. You see them here blaming the SCHOOLS for not keeping children safe, but of course they would do that since the schools are also the ones "indoctrinating" students in so-called "woke" ideologies. Like that Black people are people. Like that women deserve more rights than dead males currently have. Like that trans and nonbinary people are people. You know, things we thought we settled long ago. Apparently not. 

Extremists are infiltrating school boards throughout the United States and quite frankly, if I was a teacher, I'd be getting the hell out while the getting's good. I will continue making the same assertion to American citizens in general -- get out, you're running out of breathing room, and I'm not sure a nice blue state is safe enough -- until it's too late, but friends? IT IS ALMOST TOO LATE. Laugh at me if you wish. I am terribly afraid you will come to regret it.

I do hope that I don't have to explain to you why arming teachers is a bad, bad idea. Because wouldn't it be great if everybody had a gun? Besides, parents don't even trust teachers to pick out books

But I would like to spend some time on the notion of "hardening".  That's a very apt word for what is going on right now. The difficulty of addressing interrelated collapse cascades is hardening. Positions are hardening. Hearts are hardening. And it's all related, it all feeds off each other. 


I've mentioned before that the hatred of police officers is so potent even here in Canada that the cops themselves have a word for it: FIDO. Stands for "Fuck It, Drive On". They know that whatever they do, they'll be crucified in the press for it. Killed someone, no matter if that person was about to kill someone else? Should have deescalated the situation. Don't kill someone and they go on to injure or kill another and that will be YOUR fault, not theirs. 

But, well, to put this delicately. 

The police officers in Uvalde, Texas, did not enter the room where the 18 year old gunman was methodically murdering children FOR SEVENTY EIGHT MINUTES. Why not? Because they were afraid they might be shot.

"The house burned to the ground, killing everyone inside. When the brigade of firefighters on the scene was asked why nobody had attempted to save a life, a spokesman said, "we could have been burned."

Said no firefighter ever.

There is deep outrage in the community over that remark. It's the kind of outrage that only results from a sudden realization that things are not as they seem, that the people you pay to serve and protect you and your children didn't do either, that perhaps, contrary to everything you have ever believed, this is not their function.

And here I must tread exceedingly carefully, because for MANY, MANY individual police officers, including the many in my family, IT ABSOLUTELY IS. There is an absolutely CRITICAL distinction to be made here between police and policing. 

Police are mostly good people. There are jerks in policing just as there are everywhere else. There should be fewer, for two reasons: one, we trust these people to enforce the law, so abiding by the law in all instances should be an absolute baseline; two, the jerks are surrounded by good officers who ought to hold them to account.

And far, far too often don't, because while police are good people, policing is a rotten system. Particularly in America, but the founding philosophy of policing is the same everywhere.

How it started (U.S. version): 

"I [patroller's name], do swear, that I will as searcher for guns, swords, and other weapons among the slaves in my district, faithfully, and as privately as I can, discharge the trust reposed in me as the law directs, to the best of my power. So help me, God."

-North Carolina Slave Patrol Oath, early 1700s

How it started, Canadian version:

The myth of the RCMP is that they came to protect us from the whisky traders and bad guys. They came to protect the conqueror’s property and they still protect the conqueror’s property.” — Maria Campbell, 1989

I can go around the world, to anywhere colonial, and the police were formed and founded to keep the indigenous population subservient, and rigidly enforce the class structure.  Every time. If the location is NOT colonial, then the police were founded simply to rigidly enforce the class structure. Every time. 

Has that changed,  Ask any member of the Sipekne'katik First Nation. "I am not putting employees under my direction in harm’s way in a reactionary and careless manner,” said Todd Somerville, a senior law enforcement official, in an email to his subordinates. (Does that sound familiar?)

Ask the Wet'suwet'en.

Ask any person of colour how many times they've been pulled over for no reason, or stopped and carded outside their own homes because "you look suspicious". (Black drivers are 20% more likely to be pulled over except after dark, when you can't easily tell a driver's ethnicity. They're also nearly twice as likely to be searched despite LESS incidence of contraband being found. Source here.) 

Ask the victims of the Saskatoon force's cutely named "Starlight Tours". Oh, wait, you can't they're dead, never mind. 

Ask anyone lower class, especially homeless, about their interactions with police. For every compassionate story you'll hear, there will be ten or a hundred stories of being forcibly evicted from someplace, of your belongings being confiscated, of being completely ignored. The compassion comes from police. The rest comes from policing. 

I SAY THIS THREE TIMES I SAY THIS THREE TIMES I SAY THIS THREE TIMES: the issue is not police. The issue is the entire philosophy of policing, which is "a deliberate undertaking to enforce common standards within a community." Sounds laudable. We all need common standards. 

Whose standards? To what ends? Cui bono

The existing social order and class structure, that's who stands to gain. George Floyd, like all of them filthy racial slurs, was a fuckin' criminal. I have heard this over and over and over again, from people who really seem to believe courts of law are for pussy liberals. And it's true: George Floyd had a record. A substantial one. 

Here's the thing: I don't care. I don't care if George Floyd shoplifted, burgled, punched people, whatever the fuck. I DON'T CARE. The police do NOT get to be judge, jury and executioner. As much as they seem to relish the opportunity.

"Enforce common, by which I mean WHITE, standards within a community." White standards tell us that the world's a better place with one less filthy racial slur in it, right, Derek Chauvin?

There is one kind of theft that utterly dwarfs all other forms of theft combined: wage theft. There is more wage theft in dollars than every other sort of thievery put together, and by a HUGE margin. Yet police will never intervene on your behalf with your boss, and if you can even get a government body to do it, the most you will ever get is what's owing to you. You'll have to pay out the ass for it, too, most likely. Your boss will never be punished for withholding your wages, because doing so is not a crime.

"Who makes the laws? To what purpose?"


Hardened hearts. Hardened "targets". Hardened, entrenched positions. This is the philosophy of conservatism laid bare for all to see. And it's winning. That means we're losing.

I've tried talking to some people who plan to vote for Doug Ford in the Ontario election. I expected to be flamed to a crisp, threatened with death like our Prime Minister is on a weekly basis lately. To my surprise, I got very little of that. But what I heard was sobering in a different way. 

"Do you really think anyone else would have done any better with covid?" Well, yes, yes I do, our health care system is barely functional and Ford stole money Trudeau GAVE him for covid to use for his own political ends instead.

I was told that I was lying. So I provided sources. And was told, predictably, that my sources were also lying. This is the usual response to any claim nowadays: a calcified layer of denial that serves as a thoughtstopper. Hardening.

But Ford doesn't have a platform and PC candidates are refusing to engage in debates or with the media at all. The Beaverton, Canada's answer to the Onion, says "Doug Ford to quarantine in response to journalist question"

"Look at this innocent yammering about PLATFORMS. Who gives a fuck, it's all lies. You don't actually believe any of that crap, do you? Politicians exist for themselves and nobody else."

"Trust the media? Why? It's all owned by like six billionaires, they report what they're told to report and bury the rest."

"Trust the police? Are you out of your mind? Why would I even pretend to trust someone who hates anyone who looks like me and  can take the law into his own hands at any moment, kill me, and get six months of paid vacation and nothing else for doing so?"

Nobody trusts anything anymore if it doesn't already fit with how they see the world. 


I wish I had better answers. For now what I would suggest is a hardening ourselves, coupled with a softening.

I've written off America at this point. It's dead to me. I won't say never...a lot can happen between now and never...but as of right now I don't anticipate feeling even remotely comfortable visiting a country that is rapidly, and I do mean rapidly, disintegrating. I fully believe I won't be welcome in that jurisdiction by about 2027, anyway. But I have hardened in my view on this.

I am trying to walk a tightrope. Nec noceatis nec iniuriam toleretis: Neither should you do harm nor tolerate abuse. In the vernacular, do no harm but take no shit. It's a slippery tightrope sometimes calling for hardening, often for softening. 

When you are confronted with someone who seems to be living in a different reality, you have choices. You can refuse to engage at all, and I will do that with the abusive ones. You can search for shared foundations, and I try to do that with everyone else.  Research has shown that the policies that would best help conservatives are VERY popular, so long as you don't describe them using any of the third-rail words that have been politicized. That tells me forces are hard at work poisoning thought-wells. Never forget, the culture wars exist so a class war can't. 

It's important, very important to remember that underneath every bit of anger you see is fear, the same fear we all feel, expressed the way that person was raised to express fear. Many people, especially many men, never got a full grounding in emotions: which ones are healthy, which ones aren't, and how to turn one into the other. Anger and fear together give you rage, and that's what we're seeing. Per Dylan Thomas, 

Do not go gentle into that good night...Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. 

We all interpret the dying light differently. Me, I've laid a bonfire. 

Harden where you must, but don't harden everything. Because if you harden everything, eventually we all die. 

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