Category Archives: Police

1000 Words: Homeless and Helpless

Here’s a little story about what a weird town Bloomington is. In fact, we may take this to another level and count it as an indictment of liberals in generals. Loyal Pencillistas, natch, know I’m about as liberal as liberal gets. By that, I’m referring to the old 1960s definition of the term, not the newish-slash-retro def. that equates liberalism with the excesses of late-day American capitalism. I don’t know much about that; I leave it to economics majors, philosophy buffs, and other navel gazers to champion that particular usage.

When I say I’m liberal, it means:

  1. I stand four-square against the military-industrial complex (which, BTW, is the real, honest-to-gosh incarnation of today’s American economy, with Hollywood, fossil fuels, and the gun industry playing slightly smaller roles in the scheme of things);
  2. I long for the day when the wealth gap is dramatically narrowed. I believe billionaires are not to be revered but, instead, seen as they really are: ruthless, soulless, aggressive, likely borderline sociopathic acquisitors of more dough and things than they or their descendants will ever, ever, ever, ever need;
  3. We, the richest society in the history of the human species, should care for the weakest, least fortunate of our brethren and sisteren;
  4. Health care is a right and should be paid for by our tax dollars;
  5. Abortion, too, is a right;
  6. As are education, housing, food, water, and mobility;
  7. Gun ownership should be highly regulated, as called for in the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution;
  8. White America must make amends, proportionally, to black Americans and all people of color for the benefits of empire we enjoy, an empire built on their backs;
  9. Public schools, a free and vibrant press, literacy, scientific awareness, rational and critical thinking, and political engagement are the pillars upon which a thriving democracy stands;
  10. Rights and responsibilities are equally essential in a free society;
  11. We, both individuals and effective government regulators, must watch corporations like hawks;
  12. We must embrace The Other, all Others, and keep our doors open to the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse, the homeless, and the tempest-tossed, as Emma Lazarus so eloquently put it.

I’m sure there are more identifiers for What A Good Liberal Should Be but these dozen ought to do for now.

That all said, I realize even those who buy into these bullet points can be as dopey as many of the Republican, conservative, obsessive free marketeers who’ve somehow wormed their way into federal and state power around the country despite the general electorate being, according to a lot of polls, attuned to the liberal, progressive agenda. How that happened would take six volumes to explain, but it did.

Anyway, dopey liberals. We have ’em here in Bloomington in excess, as this tale will illustrate.

A business owner I know, a downtown retailer, found himself in a pickle the other day. A clearly deranged man stood outside the retailer’s establishment, verbally harassing passing women, threatening them with rape, going into excruciating details about what he’d do to them in the process of raping them, spitting, cursing, and otherwise scaring the crap out of pedestrians and shoppers.

The man might have been dangerous so, rather than confront him, the retailer called the cops, figuring they’d tell the man to take a hike at the very least.

Instead, the retailer was told by the police dispatcher that there was nothing the cops could do about the situation. Which, by the way, had gotten so bad that customers in the store had to be allowed to exit in the rear so as to avoid the threatening man.

The retailer couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Here was a clearly deranged soul causing a disturbance on the street, interfering with commerce and free access to the sidewalks, and actually vowing to visit violence upon the citizenry. Certainly something in the law covered that.

But no, the retailer, was told, the city’s and the police department’s hands were tied. As long as the man wasn’t actually whacking a woman on the head or grabbing her pussy or whatever sick misogynists wish to do, he was violating no laws.

Not even disturbing the peace? the retailer asked. Sorry, no.

The retailer told the dispatcher he didn’t believe it. So the dispatcher promised some functionary from city hall would call him to explain further. Twenty minutes later, the phone rang. It was the functionary who sang a tale of helplessness. The law says…, the functionary explained, our hands are tied, the city council, lawyers, the homeless situation, and so many other rationalizations for inaction that the phone call lasted a good 25 minutes.

To which the retailer commented, bullshit.

The city of Bloomington, indeed, has been grappling with the problem of homelessness, mainly by doing everything it can to make sure the homeless stay out of sight. And the shouting man in front of the store exhibited all the signs of being, himself, homeless.

College students and activist (read: liberals) have screamed bloody murder about the homeless in Bloomington for years now. The city has responded, when not coming up with ways to make the homeless invisible, by granting the homeless extraordinary leeway in their behavior on the streets. The college students and activists see this as a victory, albeit small, despite the fact that nothing, really, has been done to find the homeless homes, to get them health care, to remedy the mentally ill among them.

An aside: the other day I saw an obviously homeless man laying on the sidewalk, blocking the crosswalk at College and 1st streets. I called 911 to report a man being down. The dispatcher told me nothing could be done. I wasn’t surprised.

Anyway, the upshot to all the screaming bloody murder by college students and activists has been the homeless of Bloomington are now able to plop down in the middle of the sidewalk, unmolested by the authorities, or can promise female passersby the worst methods of sexual assault. Yet, the homeless remain without homes, health care, mental health treatment, dignity, security, and safety.

But the screaming bloody murder college students and activists have got the cops to leave them alone.

Very alone.

1000 Words: Heroes? Villains? Or Just People.

I learned this morning that May is Teacher Appreciation Month. This makes me think about the weird polarization that afflicts our holy land. Every single issue, every idea, every political stance, every societal question, every goddamned thing that exists, it seems, demands that we take an intransigent position and view everybody who takes a contrary position as a horrible human being.

Now, how does Teacher Appreciation Month play into this? I’ve been getting the sense that there are now two poles in this country regarding those who do two different jobs — teachers and the police.

Drive down any country road in South Central Indiana and you’ll see countless blue American flags signifying undying support for the police. Some homes even display a blue light outside their front doors at night for the same reason. Then, when you get into more populated areas, you’ll see red yard signs trumpeting the homeowner’s support for public education and school teachers.

You’ll never, ever, see the same home displaying both signs.

A hell of a lot of people see the police and teachers not as two indispensable professions that, together, help make society run, but as enemies of our side.

Dig this meme I recall seeing recently: It read, Raise your sons to be men before his teachers raise them to be women. This from a Facebook ad, the likes of which I’ve been swamped with of late. I have no idea why but every scroll down my preferred social medium brings me ads from something called MAGAmerica or some similar staunchly Republican, right wing, crypto-fascist, the-nation’s-going-to-hell-before-our-very-eyes outfit. I must have inadvertently clicked on the wrong site at some time in the last couple of weeks and now I suffer. Clearly, these people see teachers as commie rats who are dead set on de-masculating our boys, transforming our girls into dykes, opening our borders to terrorists and Muslims and Mexicans, in favor of providing monthly checks for idlers to sit at home and do drugs and have more welfare babies.

That’s what we do in this third decade of the 21st Century. We put people into one of two boxes: those who are good and those who are evil. Teachers today, for a large swath of the American populace, are evil.

And if you buy into that, guaranteed, you believe with your whole heart and soul that the police are always right and good and just. They are heroes valiantly standing between us and unspeakable terror. They protect us at risk of life and limb from commie rats, de-masculated boys, dykes, terrorists, Muslims, Mexicans, doped up constantly copulating idlers, and, of course, teachers.

There was a time, in the memory of our oldest citizens, when police officers were simply people who lived down the block, mowed their lawns, read the papers, paid their bills, and complained about their taxes. Just like everybody else. Now they’re superheroes, mythic figures fending off evil, titans battling archvillains.

Funny thing is, a lot of people see teachers in a similar archetypal light. Teachers are Christ-like, selfless, infinitely loving souls who’d sever their own arms and legs just to get your kid to pass her third grade math quiz.

The pressure’s on all of us to pick a side, to sanctify, to canonize, for chrissakes. We can’t just admire teachers for their good works; we must elevate them to divinities. Same with those who aggrandize cops. That way, the world’ll know where we stand and if the world doesn’t get it the first time, why then we’ll have to raise the stakes, to resort to hyperbole.

And, believe me, I know all about hyperbole; I’m the world’s foremost authority on it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I admire teachers. I respect them. Their work is vital. Their sacrifices commendable beyond words.

That’s the truth for the majority of teachers, to be sure, but not all of them. I went to school on occasion many decades ago so I know there are good, even superlative teachers but there are also lousy teachers, teachers who phone it in, teachers who hate kids, teachers who do the minimum for their paychecks, teachers who have no business being teachers.

Teachers are human beings. That means there are great ones, there are awful ones, and there are countless ones in between. In reality, teachers live down the block, mow their lawns, read the papers, pay their bills, and complain about their taxes. Just like everybody else. Okay, they get their news online now, not from the papers, but you get the point.

Another yard sign I see a lot when The Loved One and I take our weekly Sunday drives reads, A Hero Lives Here. Sometimes the sign is for a teacher and other times for a nurse. In either case, it’s all so unseemly. You’re not supposed to call yourself a hero; somebody else is supposed to bestow the honor upon you. But in today’s America, there are heroes and villains, not just plain people trying to do a good job, often succeeding, sometimes failing. We put people on pedestals — even if we have to climb up on them ourselves — and consign others to the fires of hell.

It’s one way or the other and if you don’t agree with me then you’re a horrible human being.

 

Hot Air

The Police Are A Leftist Tool — Who Knew?

[Just a reminder: The Pencil is on hiatus right now as Big Mike — me — devotes time and energy to a fabulous book project, the details of which will be forthcoming as publishers are sufficiently fawned over and contracts are signed. Stay tuned for news on that front.

Meanwhile, I’ll be putting up little tidbits on occasion, just to keep the circuitry of this communications colossus in working order. I expect to be back telling the world what it ought to do full time within weeks or a couple of months at the most. Try your best to survive without my inerrant pontifications until then, okay? Okay.]

Sometimes I don’t even know what the stereotypes are that we liberals and progressives are supposed to live up to. So, I couldn’t let this pass without comment.

I was enjoying a heated verbal fistfight on social media yesterday, the gist of which was Isn’t it crazy that certain voices on the Right are blaming President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and Mayor De Blasio for the assassination of those two police officers in New York Saturday? Natch, Right Wing commenters got all huffy and doubled down on the canard, going so far as to suggest Obama et al secretly want to destroy America, etc. You know, the usual boilerplate demonizations and mad pronouncements.

Anyway, the TKO came when one Conservative guy who’d already seemed ready to pop a vein decided to set everybody straight. Look, he said, we wouldn’t even need the police if it wasn’t for you soft-assed, dependent Lefties! Yeah, because if everybody had a gun there’d be no need for police. But you Libs have to have big daddy government do everything for you, up to and including protect your home and family.

Big Gun

Who Needs The Cops?

So, there it is. Now we’re responsible for the police. Who, BTW, seem to be shooting up everybody and everything on our side of the fence of late. I guess we love punishment.

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