Thursday, October 17, 2013

I got assaulted by the police, and all I got was this big bag of money.

In our latest installment of Some Cops Behaving Badly we have the story of Dana Holmes, a white woman that was recently arrested for DUI just outside of Chicago. I will post the video, but it's 6 minutes long. For me, that is pushing it when it comes to attention span for videos on the internet. Here is a recap of the important parts: Three cops are there, and she is being patted down by one female officer. She lifts up her foot, the way someone might when being asked to show the bottom of their foot to someone else. All of a sudden, the cops grab her and throw her into a cell. They then proceed to strip her clothes off. She just lays there in the cell face down crying. Then a few minutes later they throw in a blanket for her to cover herself with.

Feel free to watch for yourself:

[ETA: here is a link to a shorter video that actually shows her clothes being removed.]

A couple things: In the police report, the officers claimed that she "kicked" one of them. Anyone with functioning eyes can see that is not what happened. To me, it looked like she was following instructions to show them her feet and then all of a sudden they got pissed and went cray. Also, they claimed they removed her clothes because they were performing a "strip search." I'm no cop, but I've watched plenty of cop shows. That is not how you do a strip search. For one thing, when you're searching someone with no clothes on you have them bend over so you can look up their butt to make sure they haven't hidden anything there. That didn't happen.


Because they weren't strip searching her, they were taking all her clothes off because they could, and she had clearly done something that they didn't like. They were trying to humiliate her and teach her a lesson. That lesson being: Don't F with the police.

I'm guessing she got the message.

This example shows us, that we live in a nation where regardless of race, color, creed or national origin--if you give cops attitude they all can (and some will,) make your life a living nightmare.

So let me tell you what is most likely going to happen next. First, I have to point out if this video didn't exist, absolutely nothing would happen. This would be a disturbing story that Dana Holmes told her friends and family, and that would be the end of it.

But since we have moving picture proof of the encounter, here's what's going to go down: Dana Holmes is going to sue the police department, and the officers involved are going to be put on paid administrative leave while they investigate. Ms. Holmes and the police are going to reach a settlement, where she receives a lump sum cash payment. It'll be anywhere between 50,000 and 500,000 dollars, depending on how good her lawyer is. The cops may or may not be reprimanded, but most likely all the cops involved will be allowed to keep their jobs. On the off chance they do get fired, they will go to their police union and challenge their firing(s). Then they'll get re-hired once all the media attention dies down. Ms. Holmes might spend her money to buy a house, or she might blow it all on meth to deal with the PTSD she got from being treated so callously by the police. Since it's her money now, she is free to do with it what she wishes.

Here are just some of the problems I have with the likely outcome to this situation.

1) I am a bit uneasy with the idea that people that go through traumatizing things get money for it. Obviously, no one is going to turn down money. But it seems like if you were the recipient of a bunch of cash from a lawsuit like this, the money would seem like blood money. How would you enjoy it? It seems like whatever you bought with it would just be a constant reminder of your horrible ordeal.

2) Paying money as punishment for doing something wrong makes a little more sense when you are talking about suing corporations, because corporations are motivated by money. But what about when you are talking about the government? The government doesn't have a profit motive. I'm not sure what the government is supposed to be motivated by. If I had to guess, I would say something like the common good . How is it in the interest of the common good to pay one person a large sum of taxpayers' money, and let the so-called public servants that caused the money to be paid to continue to work and receive more of the taxpayers' money? It's not.

3) I am not necessarily opposed to the idea of any victim of police brutality getting money. But the problem is that when we just pay off victims, and do nothing to change the system that caused the incidents in the first place. We are just inviting more incidents to happen. A better outcome in this situation would be for Ms. Holmes to get her check (or not,) AND have all the police involved in this incident fired and banned from working in law enforcement at any point in the future. The PD where this happened could put out a strongly worded statement saying how those officers were wrong, and they have no tolerance for such behavior. They would show this by retraining their officers and continuing to fire cops that decided to engage in such behavior in the future.

If I can turn this into a follow up friday for a moment, I want to go back to the last time I wrote about an incident of some police behaving badly. Except this was an unarmed black man who got shot 10 times by a cop. Yeah, he died.

My white friend Paula (whose late father was a cop,) said this:

I can assure you that no one dislikes bad cops more than good cops do.

Well Paula, they sure have a funny way of showing it. I have never heard a cop that is currently employed by a police department speak out publicly against another cop when they do something wrong. People who know me in real life, know that I don't use absolute language often. So when I say never, I mean never...not even one time.

It would be so great if these good cops would come together and create and organization called Police Against Police Brutality. Or maybe Police for Positive Policing. I said here that I don't like it when people always define themselves as against something.

I googled the first term I mentioned, and you know what I came up with? A group called something like Black Cops Against Police Brutality. And it looked like their website hadn't been updated since 1988.

Don't get me wrong, I am happy to see such a group exists. But it doesn't surprise me that black cops are against police brutality, since black people are disproportionately the victims of police brutality. Since cops are disproportionately white, I think it would be nice to see a group that encompassed police officers of all races that were committed to ending abuses in departments across the nation.

I'm gonna wrap it up here, because I've been writing for awhile. Once again, I have to give my disclaimer that I am in no way attempting to disparage all cops. I know from personal experience that some cops are quite cool. My general impression of the number of fleeting experiences that I've had with them is that if you're neutral or nice to them, they will be neutral or nice to you.

I am talking about the minority of cops that do damage to the reputation of cops as a whole. Some other examples of positive policing that could occur would be:

--Making videotapes like the one that recorded Ms. Holmes standard in all police departments, big and small. I also think that all cops on patrol should wear cameras on their person. There should also be serious penalties for departments that "lose" footage, because that seems to be an unusually common occurrence when said footage is subpoenaed in court cases.

--Removing the Internal Affairs department and having incidents of cop misbehavior be investigated by a panel that has nothing to do with the police. It would be awesome if the panel was just made up of randomly selected residents of the area that the department served.

--Making it easier to fire bad cops. This goes for teachers too. And anyone else that is protected by a union. If you're pro-union, you should not be pro-union so incompetent people can keep their jobs. There are many benefits that unions bring about, but keeping substandard employees employed shouldn't be one of them.

So, we'll see how the situation with Dana Holmes plays out. I am interested to hear what you think about what I've written, or about any of the topics I've discussed more generally. Click below all those colorful boxes at the end of this post where it says, " _some number_ comments" and leave me a comment.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Baboons in a hot spring.

Now, I rarely ever blog about specific things just because people ask me to. Normally, I just like to wait until I feel like if I don't write about something, I'm gonna bust.

But when my OG weezermonkey asked me on Twitter to blog about this commercial, I just knew I had to. She's been with me since (almost) the very beginning, so who am I to say no? So without further ado, check out this commercial for the Samsung Smart TV:

Shout out to Samsung for reppin' the Asian and white interracial marriages. As the Asian half of such a couple I know says, Once you go brown, you don't turn around. According to weezermonkey, half white and half Asian kids are called hapa. I think I might have known that, but I also thought it might be kind of a derogatory term. If it is--take it up with her. I also know that it is the name of my favorite sushi spot, but that's neither here nor there.

I have a lot of the same feelings that I had about the infamous interracial family Cheerios commercial. I don't want to repeat myself, so if you'd like to read my thoughts on that one, you can click here.

After I saw the Samsung commercial, a word that came to my mind to describe this family was respectable.

Now, what does it mean to be respectable? What does it mean to show someone respect? I think to respect someone can mean to look up to them as someone to emulate. But I also think you can show respect to someone that you have no desire to be like. Because you respect all people and/or try to treat all people with respect.

So like when I talked about people looking nice, it's interesting how this family of well dressed people, in a large house, that just bought a very large (and probably very expensive,) tv immediately brings up the idea that they are people that are worthy of respect, or that they most likely behave in ways that I would like to behave.

So what do you think? What do you think it means to respect someone? Do you think that everyone deserves to be treated with respect, or that everyone automatically deserves respect? How you determine who gets respect and who doesn't? What does respectful behavior look like to you? Does someone have to show you respect to get respect back?

Just for the record, I don't like it when people say that not everyone deserves respect, and I also don't like it when people say they have to get respect before they give it. To me, that is like moving towards the lowest common denominator. But if you feel differently, that's fine. We can disagree--respectfully.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The best music monday song ever in the history of everything.

I'm slightly obsessed with this song. Though technically, you can't be slightly obsessed with anything. But I've been listening to it much of the weekend on repeat, and I think you need to experience it. Make sure you actually watch the video and not just listen to the song while you do other stuff on the computer. And you should either watch it full screen, or click through to watch it on youtube to get the complete experience.

Damn. If that doesn't want to make you go have sexytime with your partner, I think you need to check your pulse. But this isn't, it's This means I have to write some stuff about race and inequality. Luckily for all of us, I did notice some things. In a particular order:

--This song continues the tradition of white guys who sound black that I wrote about here. What's interesting is that Sam Smith is from England and Sam Sparro is from Australia. I wonder if there is something about those two accents that makes it easier for white people to get that kind of sound? Or maybe they're just more in touch with their soulful sides. Can you think of any white male singers from the U.S. that sound black? Jon B. is the only one that comes to mind for me.

--We've got the two chicks kissing, which is kind of a big deal. What I think is interesting is that I didn't have the same reaction to that that I probably would have 20 years ago. It's definitely the first time I've seen two people of the same sex kiss in a music video, but it wasn't shocking. I think in large part because of seeing Britney and Madonna kiss at the VMA's in 2003 and then having the news media show it repeatedly for weeks afterward. It's like when you say a word over and over and it starts to lose its meaning. You show two women kiss, and the first time it's like "Whoa!" and then the 75th time it's like "meh."

--You'll notice that they didn't show the two guys that lock eyes kissing. It's like Slow your roll, folks. The only time I've seen two guys kiss in a sexual way was Brokeback Mountain. And maybe an indie film I saw a long time ago that I can't remember the name of. Men kissing does happen in pop culture, but it's always played for laughs, like Will Ferrell and some other dude. Perhaps that will change in the future.

--I think that if they hadn't had the same sex couple featured, they would have had a couple of color. Remember the rule of threes? It's just that nowadays gay people are the we're open minded indicator. This brings up some of the issues around intersectionality that I posted about Friday on's facebook page.

--We've got the interracial (maybe?) couple also featured. I say maybe because the woman is racially ambiguous. She looks to me like she could be half white and half black, or half white and half latina or a light-skinned black person or or any number of other combinations. What's interesting about her is that she is the most scantily clad and obviously sexual of all of the characters in the story. Reinforcing the exotic non-white temptress narrative.

--Another thing about the interracial couple: when's the last time you saw a black guy hooking up with a white woman on screen? But nowadays it is becoming increasingly common to see black and Asian women getting it on with white men. Oooooh weeee, what's up with that? what's up with that?

--Finally, if you check the youtube comments, you'll see they fall into three general categories: 1) This song is awesome 2) some positive comment about the light-eyed, blonde-ish couple in the elevator 3) some statement of disgust about the inclusion of the gay couples. So even though the second couple is supposed to be the most relateable and common, they are largely ignored and the blondies get the favor. Is that because they are in an elevator, and many people have fantasies about getting it on in an elevator? Quite possibly. But maybe it's because that couple most closely represents the white ideal.

That's all. Truly, I originally wanted to post this because I just like the song so much. But then they added the visuals, which clearly gave me a lot more to say. If you have something to say, you should leave me a comment.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Fewer words than usual Wednesdays.

First off, I can see that my last post didn't get many views (damn you, no longer existing google reader!) So if you missed that one, click here. Ok, moving on.

This is a picture that I took recently during family meal out night. Long time readers know why I took a picture of it. If you're new, you can click here or here.

Not only is she in the middle, she's dark-skinned to boot. Sweet.

We won't get into the fact that black people probably invented barbecue and that most places you go that sell barbecue (including Dickey's) are owned by white people. Sigh. We really need to step up our "opening our own businesses" game.

Ok, a little googling showed me that black people didn't invent barbecue, but we can all agree that we worked on it and worked on it for many years during slavery, and aren't reaping our share of what I am assuming is a multi-million dollar bbq industry today.

And new reader, before you think it's all our fault that we didn't start opening rib joints en masse as soon as we were freed by proclamation, click here.

Myself, I do plan on opening my own business here in a few years, a psychotherapy practice. I wrote it on this blog, so now I have to make it come true. Tell your friends.

And after you're done, leave me a comment (: