There’s a great clamoring for police to wear body cameras at all times. I completely understand this desire. Even if, as some people claim, abuse of power incidents are not increasing, public awareness of them is certainly on the rise. If you are guilty of Driving While Black or have the bad luck to run into a demented power freak who wants to use his badge to kill you or fuck you up, then it would be nice to know the camera was rolling.
Why not? I can think of two reasons. The first, and most important, is that it increases the number of surveillance cameras spying on us by hundreds of thousands, or probably millions, eventually. I don’t like living in the surveillance state and I certainly don’t want to give editorial power to bad cops who can point their cameras wherever they want. They can film you without cause, they can use images in their video to inspect you and your surroundings. They can point their cameras away from any wrongdoing by fellow officers to undermine claims of abuse. It’s a very imperfect solution.
The second reason is that most cops are not abusive. They protect communities and risk their lives. They should not have to be burdened with the stress of recording every move they make during a shift if they are not doing anything wrong. Would you like to wear a camera all day at work and have the public inspect your every move. Every conversation you had, every off hand comment, every stop for a cup of coffee? It seems we are presuming guilt in a large population of workers in order to stop the horrific abuses of some of them.
I don’t have the perfect answer to this, I’m just raising the question. It seems that the prevalence of cell phone cameras addresses a lot of the problem, but that’s cold comfort if you are alone and under threat by an abusive cop. But if you are in that situation, what compels the police officer to accurately record his abuse? Is the penalty for turning off your recorder worse than the penalty for murder?
It’s all very crazy. Very crazy. And an outcome of the increasingly polarized society we live in where brutality and bullying became acceptable behavior when George W. Bush began his tinhorn cowboy phase after 9/11. After two terms of completely off the rails behavior, Barack Obama was elected and it became acceptable in many places to let your inner-racist roam free. We have seen a precipitous decline in civilized behavior, cheered on by unregulated media conglomerates and we now find ourselves begging to be spied on to protect us from our abusers. That isn’t freedom.
There was a time when a person as obviously crude, ill-mannered, misogynistic , dishonest, racist and obnoxious as Donald Trump would be relegated to walking around the street with a sandwich board proclaiming his wingnut theories. But not now. In this world, he’s the king of the news. The more outrageous, the better. Hate? Racism? Ridiculous, unfounded claims used to spread obviously false information? Hell yes!
It has been decades since anything resembling journalism was involved in Presidential politics. For the Right Wing, it’s all about the most extreme nutjobs battling each other to see who can be the most hateful to the poor and disenfranchised, the most hostile to women, the most obsequious to the rich and the least credible with facts. Donald Trump fires on all these cylinders and more. The pathetic press corps is so completely addicted to this storyline that they can report on almost nothing else but Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The scrum of GOP wannabes spend all their limited press coverage on trying to make Planned Parenthood an issue, as they did ACORN in 2008, in the vain hope that they’ll tap into the seething hatred of evangelicals and anti-choice zealots. Trump will beat them to the punch there as well. He’ll make shit up. He’ll scream insults. He’ll pout his lips and squint. He’ll utter hollow pronouncements and vague clichės. Trump has eaten the other candidate’s lunch on immigration and brought back popular use of “illegals” as a pejorative term for Latinos. Don’t fool yourself that they are talking about anyone but Latin Americans. They don’t even give a shit about Islamic terrorists except to the extent that they can tie them to sneaking across the US/Mexico border.
Trump is speaking to the racists who have been seething for seven years as an African American sat in the Oval Office. He sounds the clarion call to men who are fed up with being criticized for calling women sluts, bitches and bimbos. He’s putting it all out there in the vernacular of the American Idiot, bestowing the legitimacy that boys in the barroom see as their due in a Christian God Fearing Nation.
It has been popular for years now to compare politicians one doesn’t like to Hitler. The Right has done this repeatedly and viciously with President Obama. They undercut their argument and betray their utter ignorance by using the terms “fascist” and “socialist” interchangeably. They put caricatures of Obama as Hitler on the crudely lettered and illiterate signs.
But Donald Trump is the real deal in the race to fascism. He has the rhetorical style and he is purposefully tapping into the deep, ugly reservoir of American Hate to fuel his campaign. No one plays the media for such utter fools like Trump. He gives aid and comfort to those who, like himself, see him as a brave Messiah who speaks the truth about all those ugly people who are Not Like Us. The people from other places, the liberals, the feminists, the goddamned, self righteous intellectuals who need to learn a thing or two about political correctness. He is giving voice to the Great American Asshole.
Without media worship, Trump is nothing. He is a failed, serial bankrupted, amoral son of a bitch who is trying to make the fantasies of every ignorant jackass come true. Film at 11.