(Caveat: I am in a wedding this week, one that requires interstate travel. First of all, congratulations to commenter Scott – who would have thought that purchasing a Chechen mail order bride would work out this well? Second, I don't anticipate any interruption in posting but I might be a little…curt.)

Oh boy. Call your stockbroker and see if you can go short on pants, because there is about to be a whole new torrent of right wing pant-soiling and race-driven hysteria.

The DOJ is prosecuting post-Katrina vigilante shootings, apparently believing the craaaaazy idea that heavily armed white southerners with itchy trigger fingers operating on no sleep in a lawless environment might just start plugging every black guy they saw, with or without cause. I mean, that would never happen, would it?

Spike Lee's excellent When the Levees Broke films surprisingly skirted this issue, although Douglas Brinkley's even more excellent book The Great Deluge discussed it in some depth: many survivors told of experiences with vigilante/survivalist types who were really excited to shoot someone. Like, "Finally law and order have collapsed. I've always wanted to shoot a black guy!" excited. That attitude, combined with the degradation of judgment that accompanies a few hungry and sleepless days in a disaster zone, no doubt produced a number of shootings of…dubious legality.

As disturbing as citizen-on-citizen violence is – whether it's one person looting or another person shooting everyone he thinks is about to loot him – the mindset bothers me even more. We are all justifiably disgusted when someone looks at a natural disaster as an opportunity to burglarize a liquor store. We didn't hear nearly as much indignation at the number of Louisiana and Mississippi residents who looked at the same disaster as the long-awaited chance to enact their Mad Max fantasies. The media vent tons of hot air about thieves stealing Plasma TVs and none whatsoever over home- or business owners who think it gives them carte blanche to use their hoarded weapons however they please. Especially when what they please is to plug "anyone darker than a paper bag" to quote one of the charming indicted Louisianans.


  • Crazy for Urban Planning says:

    Hurricane Katrina was the most remarkable thing I've ever seen on cable news. I was in Bulgaria watching CNN – so when America slept overnight it was daytime tv for me to watch. Their was a reporter dipshit who would run in the streets with 100 mile an hour wind blowing him over, another guy on a roof top could hear shots being fired all night, other cool things happening that I don't remember anymore. In any case, you all probably slept through that first night of Katrina, but for me it was just riveting daytime news. Total chaos.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    One of the many, MANY abiding ironies from that time is that the National Guard was not available to help in NO, or in Kansas after the devastating tornadoes, because they were stuck in Iraq…protecting national security.

  • Seriously? "Darker than a paper bag"? SERIOUSLY?!

    If I thought too much about stuff like this, I'd be scared all the time. We really are just kidding ourselves that we're a safe and stable society. If all it takes is a hurricane to give people permission to declare war on their neighbors, we're pretty much done for, aren't we?

  • Prosecute all serious crimes, especially those involving the misuse of firearms. However, most of these crimes are local and State matters. The Federales get involved IMO on tenuous grounds for often political reasons.

    Yeah, if you don't have your FFL and you're in possession of a fully automatic weapon, much less shooting it at someone for no good reason, that's a slam dunk BATFE issue. Otherwise, it's a local affair.

    With this bunch in power, they will strain every gnat to make it a civil rights case so they can bigfoot their way in, shoot 'em all, and let God sort 'em out.

    I am sure they will prosecute way beyond the easy lay ups deep into the marginal cases in order to "send a message."

    Yes, sadly, it's very late in the day for the USA.


  • I'm embarrassed to say that I had not heard that this had happened. That it did is simply terrifying.

  • truth=freedom says:


    Can you please provide a link to that "paper bag" quote? Combine that w/Katrina and this post is already second on the Google hit parade. I'd like to point certain disbelieving friends to the source….


  • Great post, Ed, but I think it's a mistake to elide looting with "citizen-on-citizen violence." This perpetuates the idea that property crimes are equivalent to an assault on one's person, which in terms perpetuates the idea that lethal force is an appropriate response to crimes like looting and theft. I'm sorry, but my car stereo is not worth someone else's life.

  • Thanks for this, I hadn't heard about it yet.

    Wasn't there some, er, controversy around Louisiana's failure to investigate or prosecute white vigilantes who basically shot every black person they saw?

    IANAL and all, but I could see that being a good time for the feds to step in and file some charges, since the state didn't seem to be doing it's job.

  • Ok, so apparently it's acceptable for the government to investigate and prosecute individual private citizens when their actions resulted in a handful of deaths, but when it comes to investigating and prosecuting politicians whose actions led directly to the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands (many of them "darker than a paper bag"), that's "looking backward when we should be moving forward". Got it. Thanks DOJ.

  • @ truth=freedom

    The quote is in the article that Ed linked to. (I know I'm not Ed, but he's off doing wedding-related cavorting.)

  • However, most of these crimes are local and State matters.

    bb: The Justice Department is stepping in precisely because local and state law enforcement WON'T do so. I am sure you probably remember how effective local and state law enforcement were in investigating lynchings down in that neck of the woods. Same kind of thing.

    You got a problem when local and state law enforcement don't see anything wrong with vigilantes grabbing their guns and shooting up folks just 'cause they wanna and there ain't no one there to stop it.

  • With this bunch in power,

    You know? I am going to get medieval on this bullshit. WTF has "this bunch" done that is so Godawful. No, seriously, NAME ONE FUCKING THING that "this bunch" has done that isn't tailored to our fucking corporate overlords and their Republican lap dogs. Name one thing. Just one.

    Yeah. I didn't think you could.

  • @mothra-
    Don't waste your bandwidth. bb is our resident FOX News drone. He started as a fairly articulate glibertarian, but now suffers from full-on Obama Derangement Syndrome. SOCIALISM! HUSSEIN! The best response is pity.

  • @ts-
    Hush your mouth! If one Berkeley prof gets mad when I get loaded and call someone a "beaner," it's truly worse than the holocaust.

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    Acer's got it right. At the end of the day, all this whining about "political correctness" is coming from those who have a longing for the days when they could throw out words like "spic" and "nigger" as they pleased. But god forbid anyone ever call them "cracker" or "honkey"(both words, incidentally, were coined by white people, not African Americans).

  • I felt the straw in my mid section disintegrate into millions of tiny pieces as the head of the baseball bat struck me and I crumpled forward as my whole straw body moved backwards with the bat.

    Dorothy looked down at me and said "Someday you WILL have a brain. I just know it. It will be when you get rid of that desire to say those awful words. I just know it. Right Toto?"

    Yeah, right Dorothy.


  • The sting of a word depends on what you perceive its use to be when directed towards you, not its origin.


  • bb –

    With this bunch in power, they will strain every gnat to make it a civil rights case so they can bigfoot their way in, shoot 'em all, and let God sort 'em out.

    I am sure they will prosecute way beyond the easy lay ups deep into the marginal cases in order to "send a message."

    There are no straw men involved. Your statement was a mindless regurgitation of regressive right wing ass-hattery.

    I know you can do better. Really.


  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    The "sting" of a word is nothing compared to the power that can back it up. That's why the occasional black guy calling someone a honkey cannot compare to some executives telling "nigger jokes" at an office party.

  • Scarecrow,
    I wasn't addressing you specifically, but the obnoxious of the "rampant political correctness is strangling the nation" argument in general. I think it's ripe for mockery, but as far as enforcing politeness, I agree with the ACLU that racist frat morons deserve legal protection. Your argument, on the other hand, seems to be "Shooting random negroes on sight isn't really a hate crime, and Herr Obama will use Civil Rights as an excuse to indiscriminately slaughter every god-fearin', chaw-dippin' hillbilly on the Gulf Coast," which is too monumentally idiotic to rebut. Hope that clears things up.

  • You can say what you want about bb but he has the courage of his convictions. He hangs out on this obviously left leaning site and might even be changing his mind on a few topics.

    bb, I don't see eye to eye with you on much but you're consistent and, as far as I can tell, willing to listen to the other side.

  • Wait a minute, why would you go short on pants if you are anticipating a torrent of pants soiling? The demand for a fresh pair should go up as the magnitude of soilage increases, culminating in a "pants bubble" that bursts as savvy stockbrokers realize that the market will not bear current levels of "pants speculation".

  • @Nunya:
    I liked him, too, up until his last "Obama is roundin' up the Christians and takin' this country to hell, I tell ya!" nonsense. For now, I'll assume he's a fairly intelligent right-winger who turns into a Beckbot after a few Jack Daniels coolers.

  • @acer,

    I excuse his rantings only because I have been known to spew some outrageous pinko theories after an evening of adult beverages.

  • You know I am whip sawed between two extremes – y'all seem to be an intelligent (if rather foul mouthed) bunch – but you constantly put words in my mush mouth and paint conclusions I have never even thought of…

    Generally I am stupefied by how prescient y'all are by telling me things I hadn't really even thought or said, but just damn, there they are..

    "Paragons of Left Wing Prophecy and Genius or Paranoid Slandering Pea Brains" – he muttered as he walked away from the keyboard….


  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    Ok BB, since we all seem to be putting words in your mouth, I request that you explain to us a little more about your un-PC society in detail. What would it be like? No more diversity training of every kind? What should be done with discrimination complaints? Tell us how it should be.

  • bb-
    Reread what you wrote about "this bunch." And next time you write, try to be less of an overwrought Glenn Beck cartoon character. You're quite lucid when you're not loaded on Red Bull and Pucker.

  • Some of the blow back at me is that I am a bitter old White guy.

    I first saw this PC BS when I was in my 20s and rode with it my whole career. As far as the sensitivity training, like a lot of Liberal projects, the heart intentions may have been noble, but the execution sucked.

    In the technology and manufacturing company where I worked (for 32 years) as an engineer there were many occasions when detailed training was required. This training was driven by changes to applicable Laws, Safety, or new and different equipment/procedures.

    For instance, safety training was an important, ongoing pursuit. Every year we would spend several hours (perhaps a day) going over the basics of fire fighting. Class A, Class B, etc., what kind of fire extinguishers for what kind of fire, etc. etc. We would use the equipment to fight fires, put on the Scott packs, the whole routine.

    There was no psycho-babble involved.

    In my un-PC world, the Equality trainer would explain the applicable Federal and State Laws as it applied to my job and work place. Yeah, you need to have demonstrations/role playing of proper and improper ways to handle different situations.

    It would be more Engineering Department and way less Psych/Sociology Department.

    Complaints? We don’t want to hear no stinkin’ complaints, SUCK IT UP!!

    Nah, just kidding

    Complaint registration and handling would be part of the same deal. You would learn what channels and options are open to you as an employee both inside and outside of the company if you think you have been discriminated against.

    I think the way the process was handled in my world made it clear to me (and many others – not all of them White) that part of this whole deal was in some small way, pay back.

    Insult and humiliation were part and parcel of the training. You might say,

    “T.S. Whitey, YOU suck it up!”

    Leaving my little hurt feelings aside (pooor baby), I think it is just plain stupid and counter-productive from a training and project management standpoint.

    Remember that I am an engineer and part Vulcan. Projects that involve change have been an important part of my work life. I have found that when you actively work for buy-in in a positive manner from those who are your associates in the project, your success rate is higher.

    What are our Goals? What are the milestones? What will success look like? What do I need to accomplish? What skill sets do I need to acquire?

    Part of project management IS failure analysis. What have we been doing wrong so far? But in the successful projects of which I have been part, this process is pretty objective with little thrashing and flogging of the guilty.

    Touchy feely, blame game, psycho-babble doesn’t advance the ball and in the end is counter productive to project success.


  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    Ok, I gave you a chance to be coherent, you apparently decided to waive that chance. You lose, you get nothing! GOOD-DAY SIR!!

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