2014 LIEBERMAN AWARD WINNER: BOB McCULLOCH

Posted in Rants on December 31st, 2014 by Ed

(Editor's note: The Lieberman Award is given annually to the worst example of a human being over a twelve month period. Click the tag at the end of the post to review past winners.)

medalGin and Tacos and its parent company, Nordyne Defense Dynamics, hold very high standards with respect to the final product you see published here four or five times per week. When we say someone is an asshole, we want you the reader to know that we have done our homework and vetted the subject thoroughly. We aren't going to give you people who are just kind of an asshole. You can rest assured that when we look back at a year and say "This person was an asshole of such magnitude that he defined 2014 with how rotten he is at being human," the honor is richly deserved and well earned.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is everything wrong with America today, far more so than any cigar stealing Thug or even any trigger happy police officer could ever be. He is old, dying, white America incarnate, struggling mightily to control a country it is no longer capable of understanding and not even willing to try. Bob McCulloch is every gun-hoarding authoritarian personality type who sees a threat in everything and everyone that does not look and behave like himself. Bob McCulloch is the America that is on its way being demographically irrelevant and is attempting to maintain a position of superiority by dominating the institutions of state power to such an extent that their privileges can never be taken away. You know, like white people did in Apartheid-era South Africa.

Bob McCulloch is your uncle who bitches constantly about big government and taxes while every paycheck he has collected in his life has been from the public teat. He is the public's mental caricature of an incompetent, corrupt civil servant, so protected and insulated from the repercussions of his professional actions that he is unwilling even to fake giving a shit if you can see how corrupt he is. Bob McCulloch is the old, bitter white people that dot major cities throughout the Rust Belt; everyone young and financially able has left and now he reigns over a poor, crumbling, crime-ridden corpse of a city and it makes him so bitter and angry, despite his job security and material comfort, that all he can do to make himself feel a little better is lash out at people he considers a rung (or two) beneath him on the social ladder.

McCulloch's press conference on the night that what everyone already knew was announced – that no prosecution of the officer who shot Michael Brown would be forthcoming – was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. It redefined concepts like "brazen" for me and despite watching it at home alone I found myself uttering "Jesus! The balls on this guy!" in sincere wonderment more than once. From his petulant blame-shifting to The Twitters (which, incidentally, I highly doubt he even "gets") and the media to his blatantly dishonest effort to take advantage of the fact that 95% of Americans neither know what a grand jury is nor understand how it works, this was a masterful whitewashing performance by a man who very clearly knows a thing or two about whitewashings. He openly admits that he – actually his underlings, as he never bothered to attend the grand jury proceedings himself – merely threw a sampling of evidence and witness testimony (including testimony he admitted to knowing was false) at the grand jurors and waited until they came to the desired conclusion. That is exactly how the prosecutor's role in no grand jury ever works. But he got up there in front of the cameras as said that anyway because he assumes you don't know that, or if you do he simply doesn't give a shit that you see through the farce. He's untouchable and he knows it, wearing the perpetual smirk of the idiot son put in charge of the family business; everyone knows he's a moron, including him, as surely as everyone knows he's not going anywhere, ever.

The real problem is not Bob McCulloch, at least not beyond the borders of his limited jurisdiction. The problem is that there are hundreds of thousands of Bob McCullochs across this country, each one every bit as incompetent and lousy with prejudices. They have burrowed into every level and every part of the criminal justice system like ticks, from police to the courts to parole offices to administrative departments of every size and color. They probably run your police department, your local district attorney's office, your circuit courts, your state legislature, and anything else that offers a paycheck from the public coffers and a grandfathered-in pension. They all know one thing for certain, that they can tell good people (anyone who looks and thinks like them) from bad people (everyone else). Some part of them understands that this isn't really "Their" country anymore, but they're holding onto the institutions of power until their cold, dead hands are pried off and not a second sooner.

Congratulations to Bob McCulloch and all the Bob McCullochs around the United States. You've earned this award, hiding behind a wall of silence and collusion in homes bought with tax dollars watching a favorite Charles Bronson white revenge fantasy movie on VHS. You wield the instruments of state power like a sculptor does a hammer and chisel, the primary difference being that a sculptor must on occasion be subtle about the application of physical force.

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THE SPECTACULAR 2014 GIN AND TACOS ANNUAL WHEEDLE PRESENTED BY GIN AND TACOS

Posted in Quick Hits on December 29th, 2014 by Ed

Reader,

I make an effort to limit this kind of request or reminder, because nobody wants to read a hundred pleas per year for the kinds of things a dude with a website is supposed to request. I appreciate your patience with the following paragraphs.

1. If you haven't already, follow G&T on the ol' Facebox. There's more to it than a bunch of links to posts. It's a little heavier on humor and lighter on politics compared to this site. And I'm supposed to, like, try to boost traffic and build a base of readers and all that shit. So do it.

Gin and Tacos | Promote Your Page Too

2. Speaking of, even though traffic has increased consistently over the years the site remains and will remain free of advertisements. If you have to ask why, you must be new. In lieu of advertisements you have to put up with the following few paragraphs once per year.

You can do nothing and continue to enjoy the site for free. This is called "free riding", and it's an entirely rational behavior. I have done (for eleven years!!) and will continue to do this every day whether I make a million bucks, nothing at all, or I have to pay out of pocket for the privilege.

You can use this tip jar / donation link to contribute an amount of your choosing to defray the costs of this site. If you happen to be saddled with extra cash and feel like donating fifty bucks, I will be extremely grateful. However, if donating fifty cents is more in line with your current budget, my gratitude will be no less. If zero cents is your preferred option, that's A-OK too. Your tips and contributions are (obviously) voluntary but greatly appreciated. Either way I'm glad you're here and I appreciate you.





3. "Ed you lazy grifter, when I hand over money I expect to get something in return!" you say. Well, there are things to buy if that's your thing. The "Buy Stuff" link on your right has a couple kinds of stickers. There are also a few remaining SOUNDS OF REAL AMERICA prints (here's the first batch, and then we added two more) and a single Buzzfeed dadaism print that I unearthed while cleaning out my office.

4. Oh, 2014 was the year Ed finally got around to getting coffee mugs like everyone always requested. Customize your own here (Zazzle isn't shy about big discounts). There is also the not quite as popular but equally spectacular Gin and Tacos t-shirt with the lovable slogan, "Dopamine's Only Natural Predator", on the reverse. If you're so inclined, knock yourself out.

5. Thank you all for making the site more interesting than it would be otherwise with your comments and contributions. Even though I've progressed from zero to one to fifty-plus comments per post, I still read every single one. If you can take the time to say something, I can make the time to read it.

I don't maintain this site for financial reward, and I hate creating the impression that you're expected to pay for the privilege. You certainly are not. Not even a little. But if you happen to feel the urge to be generous, here are some options. As always, thanks for being here and man did this year blow.

LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE

Posted in Rants on December 28th, 2014 by Ed

This head-to-desk image has made the rounds over the past two weeks. For those of you who slept through art history, that is Rembrandt's The Night Watch.

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In the thousands of places this image has been reblogged and forwarded and shared, I've enjoyed the predictability of the comment sections that follow. As expected, there are plenty of "Woe to us! Weep for the future! These kids these days!" rants. The picture is intended to prompt that reaction – here's a bunch of kids ignoring a painting that has compelled viewers for centuries in favor of staring at their phones. What's missing here is context. I don't know if you remember being 12 years old and going on field trips to museums, but even without fancy cellphones to play with the average pre-teen "back in my day" had a very limited attention span for things like 17th century paintings. Show a middle schooler the greatest painting ever painted and I guarantee they won't care. Or they'll look at it for ten seconds and lose interest. So in defense of these kids, if they've been sitting in that room for anything more than a couple minutes (maybe waiting for the rest of the class to meet up) they are behaving exactly as one would expect them to. The only difference between them and us at their age is that they have better toys to play with.

On the other hand, the "Don't be so hard on these kids!" comments somehow are even more ridiculous than the ones that read this image as the downfall of western civilization. Rather than stating the bleedingly obvious – they're kids being kids – they make the most ridiculous excuses you could imagine. "How do you know they're not looking up more information about the painting!" or "They're probably taking the audio tour of the museum!" reflect the tendency a lot of people have to not only make excuses for kids no matter what, but to go out of their way to assume the very best about other humans. In some ways that is a laudable trait, and obviously it functions as a psychological defense mechanism against the daily barrage of evidence to the contrary. There is a line, though, between optimism and delusion. I understand not wanting to jump on the "We Are So Fucked" bandwagon, but at the same time I don't think it helps to kid ourselves – they're texting each other and watching stupid videos. That's what kids do to kill time with smartphones.

As bothersome as it is to think about a world full of old people telling These Damn Kids to get off the lawn, I almost prefer it to people who stick their heads in the sand and impute only the noblest motives into everyone they see. That level of Pollyanna-ism is so foreign to me that I don't know how to process it; the people who look at this and see young scholars independently studying up on art history must be the same people who think their college-aged children don't drink and really spend that extra spending money they request on books. It might make one feel better to believe that, but in reality it's doing far more harm than the false peace of mind is worth.

PUMP IT UP

Posted in Rants on December 24th, 2014 by Ed

Check out this neat online tool for graphing grade inflation over time at a large selection of US universities. It comes courtesy of fan and reader Steven Ranney. Thanks!

It is naive to suggest that this is entirely a recent phenomenon; the "Gentleman's B" has been a punchline for decades' worth of jokes about Ivy League schools. The academic perspective on this – feel free to chime in if I'm off base here – is that everyone recognizes grade inflation but feels powerless to stop it. In my limited experience, there is external pressure as well as internal pressure to give higher grades than students' work deserves. We are put in a difficult position, yet part of the problem is us.

The external pressure at the college level comes from two sources. One is the grades students received in high school, which are even more wildly inflated. The modal American high school student is so academically indifferent that any student who actually completes the assigned work and masters a few rudimentary aspects of each subject is given A and B grades. In their defense, K-12 educators face constant pressure from parents to give their special special snowflakes the high grades they deserve. College professors have the unbelievable luxury of being able – legally required by FERPA, actually – to refuse to deal with parents. The second source of pressure comes from other professors within our institutions. We all know the faculty who are either Pollyanna-ish or completely checked out mentally and end up giving every student who enrolls in the class an A. When Professor X gives the students an A in English Comp despite the fact that they are completely unable to write a sentence in the English language, how am I going to give them an F, Or even a C, without getting an avalanche of complaints? When the tide keeps rising, it's very difficult to keep the boat anchored to the seafloor.

The internal pressure comes from the fact that when an entire class's performance is comparable in quality – and if that quality happens to not be great – it feels "wrong" to give an entire class a C. The voice in your head starts telling you that you're being a dick and you should give some A's, which you end up doing for whichever students performed a little better than the rest of the pack. And let's not kid ourselves either. Colleagues, Deans, and other people in the university who evaluate us are definitely going to raise eyebrows at entire classes full of C and D grades. Inevitably they are going to ask what I'm doing wrong, why I'm such a bad teacher that all of my students got C's. Personally this has never happened, I've always had normal grade distributions in my courses. But I know other faculty who have had this problem. The assumption is never going to be that none of the students did work that merited an A. It will always be assumed that the person in charge of the class has failed somehow. Sometimes that's a fair point. Sometimes you just get a batch of students who give zero shits.

Grade inflation has gotten so silly (take a browse through some of the schools on that list with mean grades in the 3.5 range) that it can't continue forever. A common complaint about graduate programs is that they obsess over standardized test scores. This is accurate, and it is a direct result of undergraduate GPAs becoming nearly meaningless. As for what to do about it, your guess is as good (and most likely as unworkable) as mine. All I can control are my own classes, and despite my reputation as a Harsh Grader I'm feeding the problem too.

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A BRIDGE TOO FAR

Posted in Rants on December 22nd, 2014 by Ed

The greatest criminals who ever lived are not famous. The fact that they did the job so well means they never got caught or even noticed. The reality of crime and society's efforts to stop it is that if people are smart when breaking the law, it's comparatively difficult to catch, prosecute, and punish them. Fortunately for law enforcement and the general public, most people make dumb decisions when breaking laws. They act impulsively or fail to make sufficient plans, and most importantly people who commit crimes repeatedly eventually get greedy. As the dice get rolled repeatedly, the probability of being caught eventually approaches 100%. And people who find that they were able to skirt the law in a relatively minor way eventually get grander ambitions.

I wasn't planning on doing any more Ferguson posts – It's certainly getting enough attention and we're not short on information of what a total sham the legal proceedings were. These new revelations about the prosecutor, though, sucked me back in. His strategy was clear if unconvincing, namely to create the impression of a legitimate legal proceeding taking place while hiding behind the "Well, we just handed everything to the grand jury and let them decide!" mantra. Had he limited himself to that he might have, as they used to say on Scooby Doo, gotten away with it.

Here's the thing, though: he's a stupid person. And stupid people get greedy.

In recent interviews he has admitted that he knew that many witnesses, including one who most completely corroborated Wilson's version of events, were lying.

One witness McCulloch believed was lying matches several news outlets' description of Witness 40, who told the grand jury that Brown charged at Wilson before the officer fired the final shots that killed him.

"[T]his lady clearly wasn't present when this occurred," McCulloch said. "She recounted a statement that was right out of the newspaper about Wilson's actions, and right down the line with Wilson's actions. Even though I'm sure she was nowhere near the place."

Earlier this week, the Smoking Gun's William Bastone, Andrew Goldberg, and Joseph Jesselli reported that Witness 40 had a history of racism and likely wasn't at the scene of the shooting.

As usual, the prosecutor justified this with, "Well we just decided to let the grand jury judge the credibility of the witnesses." And he finally may have gone too far gloating about the whitewash. I am not a lawyer nor am I well versed in Missouri criminal codes. As an attorney, though, the prosecutor has at the least an ethical obligation, and likely a legal obligation, to avoid introducing evidence (physical or from testimony) that he knows to be false. Under even the friendliest interpretation of his obligations, he appears to have admitted clearly to all and sundry that he flouted them.

When it seemed impossible for anyone to be held accountable for this trainwreck, the stupidity of one of the architects of this grand jury/circus has created the possibility that Federal prosecutors (or less likely, the Missouri Attorney General) have something to go on. Nothing will result in Wilson being prosecuted and obviously nothing will bring the decedent back to life. However, it could be useful to salvage some shred of dignity for the legal system by prosecuting those who intentionally introduced false testimony.

NPF: RATINGS CREEP

Posted in No Politics Friday on December 18th, 2014 by Ed

Recently I re-watched the delightful Planes, Trains, and Automobiles on Netflix, and two things struck me as interesting in the gaps between things striking me as hilarious. One is the way this movie seemed pretty lame when I saw it as a kid (I think I giggled a few times when Steve Martin made hilarious Steve Martin Faces but otherwise didn't get it). Now it seems brilliant. Sure, it's full of plot holes and it's completely over the top, but it captures the misery of traveling at the worst possible times. Second, it's rated R.

No, really. The delightful John Hughes-directed family comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is rated R. In comparison, the 1984 classic Sixteen Candles, which features teenagers doing drugs, drinking, boning, and swearing in addition to actual frontal nudity and somehow it is rated PG. PTA apparently got the R for dropping one too many F-words in the classic rental car counter scene. And let's be honest, who among us does not want to tell Edie McClurg to go fuck herself.

Movie ratings were a bit random for a while in the 1980s until PG-13 came along to bridge the chasm between PG, which are presumably films suitable for anyone over five years old, and the adult content of R films. The decade featured a lot movies that seem completely tame by today's standards that carry R ratings while there are PG films that now appear borderline R-rated. Meanwhile, since the late 2000s – I blame The Dark Knight entirely for this trend – the big studios are essentially allowed to give their big summer blockbusters a PG-13 rating no matter how high the body count. Once they figured out how much they stand to gain financially from getting the lower rating (There sure are a lot of 14-16 year old kids eager to see these movies) R ratings are rare outside of genres like horror, T & A vehicles, or the crudest comedies.

A lot of people in Hollywood complain about the arbitrariness of the ratings and the capriciousness of the MPAA, and it isn't hard to see why. The Joker can jam a pen into some guy's eye socket and walk away with a PG-13 while an uneventful romance-comedy with some brief nudity or two guys making out gets an R. It may seem like one can get away with quite a bit more today than in the past, but at the same time it is likely that the days of PG movies featuring boobs are gone forever.

HOW TO SPOT AN ASSHOLE

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17th, 2014 by Ed

The best part of teaching, hands down, is reading internet comments in which every jackass on the planet tells you the correct way to do your job. Monday's post provides some really choice examples.

See, the problem is always the teacher to some people; there is no chance it could be – maybe, possibly, in any reality – that an actual problem exists with the modal student. Nope. Teacher's fault. Every time! Isn't that amazing? You'd think that by chance the student population (or their parents, or whatever is under discussion) would be responsible for their own shortcomings once or twice. You'd be wrong.

Everyone thinks they know something about teaching because everyone has been in school. Makes sense. Also, I eat in a lot of restaurants so I am a fucking chef.

Did it ever occur to any of these morons that maybe – maybe – I dump all my frustrations here so that I don't let them show while I'm at work? That I actually do everything but cartwheels in the classroom to try to get them to show any enthusiasm at all for the subject matter? That I leave all of my energy and enthusiasm on the field and when I get home and post here at midnight I'm fucking tired and getting ready to get up and do it all over again?

Did any of these pedantic dipshits consider that if I decided to yield to their expertise and let them do my job that they'd be lucky to get through one day? No, of course not, because the students basically do the job for you as long as you know how to teach. This skill, oddly enough, belongs only to non-teachers.

Did it escape the notice of this brigade of pedagogical superstars that they picked up a habit of blaming teachers from their own academic failures and the need to make every C+ someone else's fault? The system ultimately failed to recognize their brilliance and they're back to set it straight.

In conclusion to the angriest post I've ever written, thanks for your concern but I know how to do my fucking job. I'm actually pretty good at it. The fact that your thought process is so linear and your imaginations and intellects so dull that you conclude that the way someone anonymously blogs about something has given you insight into their personality and habits in the real world would make me even more irritated if I wasn't busy pitying you.

Please describe your profession in the comments and I will get back to you individually telling you how you are doing it wrong.

Eagerly Waiting,
Ed

UNINTERESTED OBSERVERS

Posted in Rants on December 15th, 2014 by Ed

A few weeks ago I had a bad day. This is not unusual; in fact, it would be worth pointing out if I had a good one, which I believe happened last during the Clinton administration. The day in question was specifically a bad day in the classroom, something that in all honesty does not happen terribly often. Having taught at the college level for the better part of a decade, my expectations are so low that it's nearly impossible to end up disappointed. I have come to accept the fact that the students have no interest in the subject matter and no desire to interact with me or their classmates in any meaningful way. I expect that they will sit there and look bored for an hour-plus, and that's usually exactly what I get. Expectations met.

On this particular day, my morning class was presented with a very basic exercise I do with material on public opinion. I put up three pictures: Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, QB/Pizza Salesperson Peyton Manning, and chart-topping knucklehead Lil' Jon, whose megahit "Turn Down for What" has been inescapable for the past six months. I change the celebrities every year or two to ensure that it's someone relevant – I used Simon Cowell when "American Idol" first became a big hit, and so on. The way this has always worked is that the students of course identify the athlete and celebrity but have no idea who the elected official is. I also ask them some other celebrity-related questions, like who is married to Kanye West and what the couple named their recent child. The point I make is that Americans are indeed capable of retaining information; we know gobs of facts about sports, celebrities, and so on. We know almost nothing about politics because we do not pay much attention to it and we don't find it interesting. There is no good reason we can't know who are representatives are the same way we know the starting lineup of our favorite teams or the cast members of Real Housewives of Shreveport. We know the latter because it interests us and ignore the former because it doesn't.

Lately, say for the past few semesters, I've noticed something strange: the students don't seem to know any of the celebrity BS anymore either. Back in the mid 2000s, I would ask who is married to Tom Cruise (everyone immediately knew) and what they named their child (in unision, "Suri!"). Now, even though I update the "material" to be contemporary, they don't really know. They still don't know who the political figures are, of course, and now they don't know the trashy celebrity gossip either.

After having this experience in the morning, I went next to an Honors class in which I had reserved the day for discussion. They had assigned readings and some basic questions they were required to answer so that they might have something to talk about in class (as opposed to showing up having read nothing and having never thought about the issue). I don't even recall the topic, but after about 15 minutes of trying to get blood from a turnip I got exasperated. "OK," I said, "it is painfully clear that you are not interested in the slightest in this topic. So please tell me, what would you like to talk about? We can talk about anything. Just tell me what interests you. I am serious, I really want to know."

I won't recount the entire unfruitful discussion that follows, but I asked dozens of questions that require no knowledge whatsoever to answer. What do you like? What do you do in your free time? Do you watch (sports, movies, TV series, video games, etc)? When you sneak your phones out in class, what are you doing on them? After about an hour I came to the conclusion, based on what this group of about 18 college freshmen and sophomores told me, that their interests are 1) Tumblr, 2) Netflix, and 3) texting each other. As to what they look at on Tumblr, the answer appeared to be random nonsense – memes, cat pictures, collections of pictures of Bad _____, and the like, so it's not even like they're using Tumblr to become acquainted with any topic, even a frivolous one. As for what they text each other about given their apparent lack of definable interests, the answer was that they talk about themselves and one another.

Every generation complains about the ones that follow, and I don't believe that these kids are any dumber than college kids were 20 or 50 years ago. I simply do not understand, however, their complete lack of interest in anything. I get that they are not interested in news and politics; hell, I rely on that fact to make some important points while teaching them about those topics. I am absolutely baffled, though, at the idea that they are not even interested in any of the kinds of fluff that Americans use as alternatives to learning substantive things about the world – sports, Hollywood celebrity crap, pop music, etc. It is alarming to me that in a moment of frustration and total honesty I asked them – begged them – to tell me what does interest them given that my chosen topics so clearly do not and that the answer seems to be…themselves.

I'm trying not to sound like an old, out-of-it man, but this is baffling to me. And I'd be lying if I claimed not to wonder about the future prospects of a cohort of people who may have no interests of any kind outside of their own lives.

THESE DAMN GUNS

Posted in Quick Hits on December 11th, 2014 by Ed

Recently several media outlets noted the anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. This is an annual blip in the news, and every year when reminded of it I want to make the entire world watch this video of longtime, legendary Detroit local TV newsman Bill Bonds offering commentary on it. His commentary beginning at 1:50 may be, without exaggeration, the finest moment of American television journalism. Since I have always been disappointed that a transcript of his commentary is not available anywhere on the internet, I invested the ten minutes necessary to do it myself.

I suppose like you I am depressed and saddened by this mad, senseless act. I don’t think John Lennon ever hurt anyone; he wrote and he sang songs. He brought pleasure and he brought entertainment to hundreds of millions of people all over the world. And at 40 when a man’s or a woman’s life really begins to "Come Together," he is gone forever. Murdered by some insignificant nobody with insanity and a pistol for his companions. It is not fair and it is certainly not right.

I wonder when America will finally control its guns, how many of us will have to be murdered before that will happen. John Kennedy. Bob Kennedy. Martin Luther King Jr. All murdered, all gone. Vernon Jordan, gunned down earlier this year. George Wallace, paralyzed, his life and career ruined. People, critics, newspapers all over the world today are looking at America and Americans and saying, "That is a brutal, barbaric place."

As I say control the guns and ban them, collect them all and melt them down, I know we are not going to do that. We are again left with painful, senseless trauma and the responsibility of feeding and clothing the Sirhan Sirhans, the Charles Mansons, the David Berkowitzes, and now the Mark David Chapmans of the world. How much better the world might be with Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy, John Kennedy, John Lennon, still alive, still with us.

But…no, Americans must have their guns. We know there is no shortage of good, strong, sensitive, talented men and women; we can afford to kill them. Our guns are signs of our freedom. Someday maybe all 220 million of us will own a weapon. Perhaps then we will appear as barbaric to ourselves as we must appear to the rest of the world.

We have so much. Why do we Americans need these damn guns.

Bonds, an alcoholic who once tried to physically assault Detroit mayor Coleman Young during an interview, is a throwback to a time – one long since passed – when one could be a "Man's Man" or a Tough Guy without waving around a gun like a surrogate dick. Such comments would never make it on the air today – especially not on the wasteland local TV news has become – despite the fact that they are as true right now as they were when first spoken.

THE CONVERSATION

Posted in Quick Hits on December 10th, 2014 by Ed

Evening. A nondescript conference room in an equally nondescript office tower somewhere in Real America where right-wing internet memes are created. A WILY VETERAN sits at one end of the cheap, laminate-topped table across from NEW GUY.

WV: "I don't care if we're here all night, we need to come up with some sort of pro-police meme. Something that everyone's friends from grade school will repost. Something that will seem brilliant to people who don't like thinking."

NG: "Should it be hackneyed?"

WV: "Oh good lord yes. Of course. Don't ask me silly questions, kid."

NG: "I'm sorry. Can we do something to imply that police are killed as often – or even more often – than police kill suspects or innocent bystanders?"

WV: "I knew there was a reason we hired you, kid. Whattaya have in mind?"

NG: "Definitely a photo collage so that everyone can see that they're Good People."

WV: "White?"

NG: "Yeah I mean white. Although maybe throw in a "clean" looking Mexican."

WV and NG, simultaneously: "So no one can say they're all white!" (laughter, the slapping of backs)

NG: "It turns out, though, that there aren't that many cops killed by suspects relative to the enormous number of people killed by police every year in the US."

WV: "Well that's a pickle. Ooh, that reminds me: I need to bring home pickles. How about we include cops who die of heart attacks while on duty, or in car accidents that have nothing to do with a suspect?"

NB: "I like where your head is, sir, but we can't just flat out lie and say a black person killed them."

WV: "We could, but let's see if we can't come up with something better." (grimaces in deep thought) "I've got it! Let's label it as officers killed 'In the Line of Duty'! Which is technically true! No matter how or why they die, we can count them as long as they're on the clock!"

NB, beaming: "You're an inspiration, sir. A goddamn inspiration."

WV: "If I wanted my ass kissed I'd be at home with a shelter dog, a jar of Smuckers, and a long-handled spatula. Now make sure to do it in Microsoft Paint so it looks real shitty."

NB: "Come on, sir. I know the drill." (laughter and mutual respect)

FIN