What is happening in this country? Why are we allowing ourselves to devolve into craven, feckless idiots with no eyes turned toward the future?
1. Look at Baltimore, and the tragic, though in my opinion the rage is totally understandable, reaction to yet another killing by the police.
Freddie Gray, a young, asthmatic black man chased by the police for as yet unknown reasons, is said to have been having trouble breathing when first pinned down. He also had a leg injury or sustained one during the pursuit. Yet he was put in leg irons, placed in a police van, not buckled into his seat, and by the time he arrived at the station, he had a severe spinal cord injury, a crushed voice box and was unable to talk, walk or breathe. No, it does not appear that any one police officer used excessive force, but the police van in which Gray rode was driven by officers familiar with the "rough ride" concept, a way of driving that results in passenger injury.
The Baltimore police department has acknowledged that Gray was not given medical attention in a timely manner "multiple times" during the course of his time with them. It is clear that Gray died from the spinal injury he suffered while in the van. So, do the math. Either he was beaten or driven to death and the police are culpable.
We just watched, literally, Walter Scott be gunned down. He was unarmed and running away.
We've buried Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old, shot to death in a park while playing with a toy gun.
We've buried Eric Garner, the Staten Island man choked to death for selling cigarettes on a street corner.
We've had to watch as a 73-year-old insurance executive moonlighting as a reserve deputy shoots a man, Eric Harris, to death when he mistakes his gun for his Taser. As Harris lay dying, the other cops cuffed him anyway; when Harris said "I'm losing my breath," a cop replied, "*(&(^ your breath."
This egregious, dismissive violence is almost too much to bear. Except bearing it as a stunned observer is easy when you consider the families and communities and senses of self and identity torn apart by these killings. Imagine what they are going through. How they must feel.
Not all those killed were law-abiding citizens, but none deserved to be murdered at the hands of rabid, ill-trained gun-slingers.
We have got to deal with racism, police misconduct and utterly wrong-headed gun laws.
2. Look at Kansas, as it pushes ever backwards in time and civilization. Women's rights to decide what THEY do with and within their OWN bodies are being taken from them at an increasingly vociferous rate and using a disgusting, dramatic marketing campaign. Stupid Brownback, already a titan of failed tax policy, has renamed Dilation & Curettage, dismemberment abortion. And, because he's so keen on celebrating his ban against it, he's taken to a publicity tour of Kansas, reenacting the bill's signing in three different high schools with giant posters of fetuses behind him. Terrifically appropriate, yes?
I happen to be pro-choice, and though I wish everyone were, I'm certainly not into taking away your right to not be. That's what pisses me off about these stringent, ideological bills; they take away the rights of many on behalf of the beliefs of not as many.
*See also, terrible inaction on behalf of climate change because of lobbyists and their ilk.
3. Let me also issue a brief statement against the recent spate of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who believe they cannot sit next to a woman who is not their wife on airplanes; men who have refused to sit down unless the women are assigned new seats.
Men, this is YOUR issue, your very narrow and strictly-defined religious prohibition. YOU go find a new seat.
We're not hearing each other, seeing each other, sitting next to each other for pete's sakes. We're running pell-mell into partisan, one-dimensional silos; we're moving further and further apart, away from science and fact and modernity, and the outcomes aren't looking good.
4. Nepal. I am just stunned by what a tragic disaster the earthquake and its many aftershocks continue to be. Send prayers and vibes and money, whatever you can.