Wednesday, April 29, 2015


There seems to be a lot of outrage going around.

Cops are shooting people—mostly Black people—and getting away with it, which leads to outraged folks—mostly Black people, too—pouring into the streets and sometimes rioting and putting police cars, liquor stores and your local CVS to the torch. This is reported in full color by outraged CNN correspondents intent on getting the most dramatic story for their outraged viewers. Since stories are generally slow to develop—as are simmering riots—the correspondents replay the most powerful scenes repeatedly, in effect fanning the flames and ensuring that the outrage spread.

None of this serves any cause.

Cops shouldn’t shoot people. That they do is tragic and inevitable because cops carry guns for the very purpose of shooting people. Admittedly, they should fire their guns only in situations where lives—theirs or others—are in jeopardy. The problem there is what you consider a life-threatening situation will probably be very different from what I consider a life-threatening situation. We will react differently, you and I. I might be more frightened than you are, or you might be angrier than me, and the end results of our behaviors will vary. One of us may shoot and the other not.

There’s good reason to be outraged by the actions of one Charles Bates, a wealthy 73-year-old insurance executive who likes to play cops and robbers. Mr. Bates accidentally shot Eric Harris, an unarmed man, with his gun, thinking it was his Taser. This is not the sort of a mistake you want to make in a tussle.

According to the Los Angeles Times, another deputy berated the dying man who was on the ground and shouting, “Oh God, he shot me; I didn’t do sh--!”

An officer responds, “You didn’t do sh---? You didn’t do sh---?”

Harris then says, “I’m losing my breath.”

The officer responds, “F--- your breath!”

Harris died an hour later.

The sheriff’s office concluded that Bates’ shooting of Harris was excusable homicide, and not a crime.

Okay. Now that’s outrageous.

I’m still a little confused whether it’s outrageous to destroy the stores in your own neighborhood as a sign of your outrage.

That’s anybody’s call.


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