Let’s talk about cops (and racism)

*DISCLAIMER: This post does not mean ALL cops. It means SOME cops. But there is no denying that SOME cops have done what I am about to discuss.

Source: politicsrevealed.com

Source: politicsrevealed.com

Racist emails, unnecessary violence, and gunning down unarmed black men. No, I’m not talking about the KKK. I’m talking about some cops in America.

Like many other Americans, the series of widely publicized shootings of unarmed black men has made my blood boil. I don’t believe that these eerily similar shootings have necessarily increased over time, but I think that the advancement of technology has allowed us to document and display the violence to wider audiences.

Keeping this in mind, the events of these horrific shootings involving white cops gunning down unarmed black men proves that not only does blatant racism still exist, but it’s alive and well in many police forces.

The most recent event is the shooting of unarmed black man Walter Scott, aged 50.

Police officer Michael Thomas Slager shot at Scott eight times as Scott was running away from him. Three of Slager’s bullets hit Scott in the back, and after the eight shots were fired, Scott dropped to the ground, and died.

How do we know this? Because a witness caught it on video. The video not only captures Slager shooting Scott in the back as Scott was running away, but it also shows Slager possibly planting evidence by dropping his Taser near Scott’s body. The footage shows that when Slager fired the shots, Scott was far enough away not to be a violent threat to the police officer.

This video is crucial to the case because it led to the arrest of Slager. His original police report suspiciously differs dramatically from the actual events captured on the video. Slager claimed that there was a struggle over his Taser and that there was a struggle before the shots were fired.

Clearly, the video evidence shows otherwise.

This case is different because the cop in question has been arrested and will be tried for first-degree murder.

It’s about time we see this outcome after a cop kills an unarmed black man.

Unlike the cases with the high-profile shootings of Trayon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, there is the possibility that Slager may be imprisoned.

Even though Eric Garner’s death was also captured on video, there was no indictment against Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who choked and killed Eric Garner, despite the fact that chokeholds are banned by the New York Police Department. Many were outraged by the outcome of this case, myself included.

With the case against Slager, the Supreme Court’s ruling proves that the officer’s actions were illegal. According to the Supreme Court, using deadly force is only legal if “the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm.”

Was Scott armed? No. Were the crimes he was suspected of crimes that involved violence or physical harm? No. In the moments before Slager opened fire, was Scott threatening him or anyone else? No.

The evidence against Slager is damaging, and it seems unlikely that he will be found innocent. However, with the history of these cases, police officers somehow manage to walk away free after murdering unarmed black men with not so much as a slap on the wrist.

Technology is crucial in keeping police officers with this track record in line, but it’s depressing to me that even with video evidence, police officers somehow manage to avoid prison time or even an indictment at all. Police officers are in positions of power, and officers accused of crimes can use this power to their advantage. Jury members may have the mentality that most cops are truly abiding by the law.

Yes, there are “good cops” and “bad cops.” But this fact shouldn’t mean that there is no justice for the men who were killed by those “bad cops.” Police officers who disobey the law should be held accountable, just like every other citizen of the United States.

Video cameras should be used more widely among police departments across the nation, and investigators are beginning to crack down on the corruption among police departments across the nation. Hopefully, this means justice. Hopefully, this means that police officers will be held accountable. Going forward, America will hopefully become more united.

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Why I’m no longer reading Thought Catalog

Evidently, I’m not the only one who no longer wants to read Thought Catalog. Even though it’s one of the 50 most-visited sites in America, it has still encountered backlash. So much backlash, in fact, that the Washington Post did an in-depth story investigating the website.

Thought Catalog, which I used to read from time to time, seems to have become a popular outlet for publishing hateful, poorly-written opinions to the masses. The website publishes a variety of articles from numerous authors, and admittedly, not all of them are negative. However, the racist, homophobic, and ignorant opinions have tainted Thought Catalog, and after I read the Washington Post’s article, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who thinks so.

The website has been in hot water over articles it posted in the past, and that I thankfully didn’t read. But there was an article Thought Catalog posted yesterday that provoked this post I’m currently writing, and it’s the one I want to focus on.

The article-in-question is entitled, “Can We Please Stop Pretending Like We Don’t All Have Racist Songs We Sing In Private?” by Nicole Mullen. Her article is a response to the SAE fraternity members at Oklahoma State University who recited a racist chant and were caught on tape.

The title should be reason enough to stop reading Thought Catalog. The title alone is problematic, not just for its ignorance, but also for the simple fact that it’s a crappy title. Thought Catalog is so successful not because it publishes quality content, but because it publishes “click bait.” This term to me gives a negative connotation, meaning that the title is crafted specifically for the number of clicks. Instead of writing quality content, the site is churning out articles with catchy or controversial titles, but the content within the article is questionable at times.

The first problem with the content of the article itself is that she claims that because the fraternity brothers sang the song instead of speaking it, that this alleviates the controversy.

It doesn’t.

She then goes on to say, “Can we all just stop pretending like we don’t have racist songs that we sing when no one is looking?”

Source: imgarcade.com

Source: imgarcade.com

Okay, so there are two problems with the question she’s asking:

1. The fraternity members weren’t singing this “when no one was looking.” There was a whole crew of them singing the racist song. So it wasn’t one person alone in his shower singing the “Racist Slur Anthem for Ignorant Fraternity Members.”

2. Who sings racist songs like that in the first place? Like ever? I don’t know about you, but when I sing in the shower, it’s not usually a racist-filled chant that sounds as if it was written in the 1860’s. Usually I stick to singing Adele.

If you think the author’s problems stopped there, think again my friend. After I read this next paragraph, I was THISCLOSE to losing my faith in humanity:

“It’s human nature to express things through art, and sorry guys, but music is art. Racism is natural, and while it’s something that we should correct, if we suppress it in our regular behavior it has to come out through artistic endeavors. Think about all the idle swastikas you’ve doodled in your downtime. Think about how many times you’ve made up silly little parody songs in your head that use racial slurs.”

I will agree with the author that music is art. Yes, she’s got one thing right in her article so far.

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

However, her accuracies within the article stop there.

She claims that when someone draws swastikas and writes songs with racial slurs, it’s “art”?

Source: makeameme.org

Source: makeameme.org

The only people I know who actually did that were, in fact, racists.

For the record: no, just because you doodle anti-Semitic symbols on your notebook or sing songs containing the n-word doesn’t mean you’re a tortured artist. It means you’re a racist.

Guess what? Directly after the author states that swastikas and racial slurs in songs are examples of “art,” she then regales us with stories proving that she’s a racist. Do I dare put her horrific examples in block quotes? Just for illustrative purposes, I’ll let her direct quotes speak for themselves:

“There’s four Chinese people that work at the grocery store near my house, and whenever I see them, in my head I play a different little theme song for each one. And yeah, all of their songs are incredibly racist. One of them is just that song from the old Chips Ahoy commercials – the ones where the melody is Sing, Sing, Sing and the lyrics are all about Chips Ahoy cookies, but I’ve replaced “Chips” with a racial slur. Sometimes I’ll just hum the melody in their face. They don’t know the lyrics so they don’t know its offensive. They just think I like jazz. It feels good and it makes me laugh.

And when I see Muslims? Hell, if I’m not terrified and scanning the area for the nearest police officer, I’m playing a little tune in my head that I imagine would lure a snake out of a basket. Either that or one of the songs from Aladdin.”

Source: memeaddicts.com

Source: memeaddicts.com

This author is claiming that humming a song in people’s faces (when the tune has racial slurs against the people she’s targeting) is acceptable. Why does she claim that it makes her feel good and make her laugh? My theory is that it’s because she’s insecure and angry, and so she’s taking out her anger on others. Humming a racist tune in front of people makes her feel superior somehow.

Her racism even extends to Muslims, when she claims that whenever she sees a Muslim, she looks for a police officer (which connotes that she’s making an assumption that the Muslim is a criminal, maybe a terrorist).

I have no words. I just. Guys. I can’t even.

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

Thank God her article is short. She concludes that she’s disgusted that we condemn these fraternity boys for singing a racist song, and something about how she thinks most of us want to live in an America where we are free to sing our racist songs. Racial slurs is free speech, y’all! It’s my country and I’ll slur if I want to, slur if I want to…

Source: errantdiner.com

Source: errantdiner.com

Thought Catalog has posted several other articles like this, and it’s evident that they’re continuing to publish only for the clicks. The Washington Post article was published in October, and after the backlash the website endured, one would think the employees would be striving to avoid further trouble. Clearly, as long as they’re achieving the numbers, that’s all that matters.

I’m done reading Thought Catalog, and I’m hoping that either they improve their content or others stop reading. Articles like this only allow hate and racism to continue and remain socially acceptable.

What’s with all the hate?

Source: eryica.org

Source: eryica.org

America, the land of the free (kind of), is a country that is founded on the freedom of speech in all forms. This includes the internet (yay, WordPress!).

Because of this freedom we have to speak our minds when citizens of other countries sometimes aren’t allowed internet access, we sometimes don’t think before we speak (or type).

Sometimes, people say stupid things. Violent things. Offensive things. No matter how vile their words, what can we do? Not much. No matter how horrific the person’s words are, he or she is exercising his or her free speech.

In some cases, people can be penalized for cyber bullying or making terrorist threats. But with these situations, there has to be plenty of proof. On the internet, there are millions of nutcases spouting hatred, so not all of them can be penalized for their speech unless they’re making obvious threats and there is evidence they are planning to follow through with those threats.

I see stupidity on WordPress every day. The theory I’ve come up with? The stupid ones spouting hatred do so because:

1. They feel threatened, and are lashing out against a perceived (but not real) threat,

or

2. They allow isolated incidents from their lives to influence their opinions about groups of people.

Recently, I’ve noticed the most hateful rants on WordPress are from anti-feminists and racists. Surprise, surprise.

Yes, these people are exercising their freedom of speech (however narrow-minded their speech may be). However, the problem is that these vicious attacks I’ve seen while perusing WordPress is that they are generalizing hatred towards entire groups of people. When this happens, and numerous people join in, there is a higher likelihood of violence. This is just how it’s worked throughout history.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other kinds of hatred towards groups of people still exist today. With the internet and the popularity of blogging, the world is at our fingertips. So for people whose mission it is to spread hatred, it’s as easy as clicking “Publish” on a vile post of their innermost thoughts.

Unfortunately, I have noticed that the amount of particularly sexist and racists blog posts have been increasing in the last week. My theories as to why?

1. International Women’s Day–The anti-feminists are absolutely livid that many people around the world are voicing the truth that women are still not equal to men, and that this must change. It’s clearly pissed them off.

The anti-feminists’ posts vary in their anger and sexism. But some that I have stumbled upon are simply disgusting. They write how much they hate all women, and some even state that women deserve violence.

Some anti-feminists disguise themselves as saintly Christians. One blogger left some insulting comments on my blog post, My Response to the NYC Pastor. I don’t mind the occasional debate, but this wasn’t a debate. She commented only to attack all feminists.

Her claim? That because I identify as a feminist, I am a “nasty bitch,” and that all feminists are “radical, second-wave lesbians.”

She sounds like the life of a party.

Source: memegenerator.net

Source: memegenerator.net

After I did my research, I realized that her entire blog was devoted to the evils of feminism. She claimed that every feminist is a nasty bitch. Every feminist is a radical lesbian. Every woman who works outside the home is a radical, second-wave feminist. Every woman who doesn’t set her sights on marriage is a slut who will wind up old and abandoned.

Those are her words, not mine. Don’t worry, she makes sure to widen her horizons and discuss her hatred of homosexuality, abortion, birth control, Democrats, and anyone who isn’t an American.

Thankfully, my new blogger friend, roughseasinthemed, came to my aid. She also wrote a response to the drama with our opinions being attacked out of nowhere.

Now onto my second theory of why there’s more hate on WordPress as of late:

2. The University of Oklahoma fraternity racist chant scandal–Two days ago, a video surfaced of fraternity members chanting a horrific racist chant. Racist blog posts have surfaced in light of this event, and one post I encountered claimed that the chant was “harmless.”

On the dreaded comments section of some articles about the event were just as misguided. The statement, “Does this mean that any comedian who makes fun of white people will be in trouble, too?” was the favorite comment among the racist commenters.

Here’s the problem with that statement: If a comedian tells “racist” jokes in his or her act, they are only jokes. The racist chant the fraternity members were chanting? Not funny, and not a joke to be taken lightly.

The second problem with that statement: This incident is evidently not the only time racism this severe has been witnessed by students of the University of Oklahoma campus. Again, not a joke, and not to be taken lightly.

While some may say to just ignore the stupid people, ignore the racists, ignore the sexists, I don’t know if that’s always the best tactic. Sure, we shouldn’t feed into their attention-seeking tendencies. However, the problem with online hate speech is that it’s easy to spread. The more people it reaches, the more of a threat these people are to others.

Take, for example, the Men’s Rights Movement. On the surface, some people think, “They’re harmless. Just a bunch of whiny guys who feel rejected by women. Don’t pay them any attention.” Most of their “movement” is confined to Reddit forums where they pat each other on the back and vent about evil women. Harmless, right?

When one of those men writes a 141-page manifesto and goes on a shooting rampage, the idea of “men’s rights” isn’t so harmless anymore. When this man kills himself after he murders six people, wounds 14 others, and his fellow “men’s rights activists” call him a hero? That’s dangerous.

The concern with racists online is obvious because of America’s history. In a country with a variety of cultures among our population, it’s disturbing that today, in 2015, there are so many people stuck in their racist perspectives. That fraternities spout this hate and blindly follow it. What’s more disturbing is that some people are upset that these idiotic students were rightfully punished. Racism should not be tolerated on a college campus, and especially not in a fraternity, a supposed “brotherhood” of like-minded members.

While many of us simply ignore these racists and sexists, brushing them off as “harmless nutcases,” we have to keep in mind that not all of them are harmless. Some are dangerous, and have made that evident. It’s unfortunate that the internet allows these people to publish their hate speech to wide audiences, but the entire world doesn’t hate. These people are misguided, misinformed, and angry.

Source: memeburn.com

Source: memeburn.com

Just like Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Hate cannot drive out hate.” Speaking up to the hate and helping to drive it out is the only way to attempt to erase some of the remaining hate in the world.