Thoughtful, Considered Schadenfreude

« January 2016 »

Memo to Wingnut Revolutionaries: I THINK I'M SUPPOSED TO BE NICE OR SOMETHING?

The sudden developments in the last 36 hours or so in the Oregon were probably inevitable, probably justified, probably insufficient, and probably inflammatory. Since the feds failed to catch 'em all, the ones left holed up in the wildlife refuge are the angrieest and craziest of the angry and crazy. Their siege mentality is not, finally, based on fact, so if this does not end well, I will not be shocked.

But that's for later. Let's talk about the Wingnut Revolution's newest martyr. Robert Finicum, age 55, father of 11, shot and killed presumably by police in the shootout that led to the arrest of Ammon Bundy and a half-dozen of the other militants. There are conflicting reports over whether or not Finicum was cooperating or resisting arrest when he was killed.

Which causes a bit of a problem. Because historically, I tend to question police shootings. I tend to believe witnesses who claim the victim was cooperating. I tend to like being cosistent in my positions, but I also tend to enjoy bad things happening to people I think are awful. But I also hate people who claim that people deserved to die because they did bad things in the past.

So, if I'm going to truly enjoy the cosmic irony of a man saying he'd rather die than go to jail, then dying instead of going to jail, and then all his friends being really mad that he got what he wanted, I'm going to have to find clear, consistent differences between the kind of police shootings I disapprove of and the kind I don't disapprove of.

First difference - there was in fact a shootout. An exchange of rire. Which means the group that Finicum was a part of was actively trying to kill police officers. Not "threatening", not "walking toward", not even "lunging". Shooting bullets at them. That's the kind of thing that will get you shot.

And to shoot at someone, you have to be armed. I know this is obvious, but it's also important. There's a difference between "thought he had a gun", "thought the gun he had was real", and "had a gun". The latter is an actual thing, the rest are the perception of a thing, and perception is the kind of thing that can be warped by bad training, bad culture, or just general badness.

And, of course, the "long history" of governmental animosity against self-described "patriot" assholes is maybe half a dozen serious data points over the course of a few decades. So even if every grievance they think they have is justified, it still doesn't hold a candle to the history of racism in policing.

So, yeah. Shame the guy died, but if we get to go around saying that fuckers were asking for it, and the recent history of media and punditry and comment threads certainly seem to indicate that we do, then yes, Finicum asked for it, and Finicum got it. Rationalization? Maybe. But you can't spell "rationalization" without "rational". And while I may strive for perfection, I don't get too hung up about falling short.