philosofunk

what if the worlds/were a series of steps/what if the steps/joined back at the margin


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American Police Racketeering

Whenever there is an opportunity to connect a favorite media of mine and real life, I take it with enthusiasm. Today while talking to my beloved father, he enlightened me to the idea that the Ferguson Police should be indicted not on civil rights violations, but on federal racketeering charges. This blew my head open and made my jaw drop, “But of course!” I replied. This then speed my cerebral neurons firing off, making me think of “Breaking Bad” and the descend of Walter White into the criminal underworld. One of my favorite moments of “Breaking Bad” is when Walter White’s brother-in-law, DEA agent Hank Schrader, is describing Mr. White, or rather his alter-ego Heisenberg, “He runs the biggest meth racket in the Southwest”. This is a feat, an accomplishment for sure because the Southwest is absolutely huge, absolutely wild, and meth is incredibly dangerous.  Hank is irate, irritated, and outraged when he says this. Racketeering from his own brother-in-law enrages him and he must put a stop to it. The show “Breaking Bad” is perhaps one of the best examinations into how taking on the identity and persona of a criminal works, the intricacies and delicacies of dominance that must be displayed in everyday life and applied to one’s work, the secrecy, the orgasms of power, the sheer unadulterated selfishness and point of view that everyone else’s life is expendable. Racketeering is defined as “refers to criminal activity that is performed to benefit an organization such as a crime syndicate. Examples of it include extortion, money laundering, loan sharking, obstruction of justice and bribery”. Hank and my reaction were similar when we realized the truth about who is capable of racketeering.

In my time on this Earth, I have known several individuals part of crime syndicates. I have known racketeers and other criminals. These are highly intelligent, skilled, fearless, dominant individuals who are always dangerous. They are cunning, and they always tell the truth even when they lie (Scarface said that about himself). If they reach any level of legitimate racketeering, they have looked the eye directly in the eye and pissed in that eye. These are not individuals who fuck around by any means.

The Ferguson Police Department, however, fucks around an awful lot to not be considered a crime syndicate. In fact, their actions line up more with a crime syndicate, and while clearly incredibly guilty of crimes against American civil rights, they are guilty of federal racketeering as defined by “criminal activity to benefit an organization…such as obstruction of justice and bribery”. This definition could consider “bribery” to be more expansive, a bribe by way of skin perhaps. Consider the introductory paragraph the in the New York Times about Ferguson’s police activity: “Ferguson, Mo., is a third white, but the crime statistics compiled in the city over the past two years seemed to suggest that only black people were breaking the law. They accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of tickets and 93 percent of arrests. In cases like jaywalking, which often hinge on police discretion, blacks accounted for 95 percent of all arrests.”

Perhaps bribery in Ferguson is bribery of skin. Bribery that if a white person is fucking around, it is not as dangerous as a person with black skin fucking around. What harm will be caused by a black person jaywalking, as opposed to a white person? Will a black person’s black skin harm more people while they are jaywalking than a white person’s white skin, while jaywalking? There is literally no logic or reasoning to these statistics, they clearly reflect a bribery of skin color.

There is another significant aspect to police racketeering, which is something called “civil forfeiture”. Civil forfeiture occurs when police find cash on a person and take that cash into custody. The person must prove a legitimate source of where this cash came from within a specified amount of time, otherwise the state claims this money and it goes into the public coffers. Recently, many police departments around the United States have been abusing the authority of civil forfeiture to jam up poor persons, persons of color, and other easily targeted individuals in order to accrue more money for their police departments.

The other part of this is that when civil forfeiture, drug busts (however small or large), and other money generating busts occur, that police department receives more federal money, meaning, that those police officers salaries increase. That is, police are stealing from citizens, legally, under the law. Similiarly, the more rip and runs a drug dealer preforms against his fellow dealers, the more he can expect to make from his theft and subsequent financial transactions from that stolen property. The difference is in how easy it is to get justice from these thefts: it is a lot more dangerous to run up on a cop than a drug dealer.

But that is not the purpose of civil forfeiture. The intended purpose is to assert control over how money is used. In the United States of America, a person does not own their money. The Federal Reserve owns the money, and the federal government borrows the money and makes it expendable to the citizens. This is not ownership of the money by way of the government or the citizenry. To put it another way, that dollar in your pocket is not really yours because the government can take it if they have reason to believe that you came about that money in an illegal manner. Maybe you’re a weed dealer. Maybe you’re Walter White. Maybe you’re a dude whose car broke down and you had a couple hundred dollars that you didn’t have the bank receipts for and the cop decided that hey, you’re wearing a Grateful Dead shirt, you’re clearly part of the hippie mafia (yes, the hippie mafia exists. Where do you think the LSD comes from in this country?). That is most certainly racketeering by police against citizens and it should be regarded as a federal crime.

Continued harassment of African-Americans citizens by way of disproportionately arresting, detaining, jailing, fining, and “jamming up” those citizens is more than a civil rights crime. That’s basically what the old school Italian mob did when store owners wouldn’t pay their dues, they would jam them up. Bribery against the mob was paying your fines. Bribery against the Ferguson Police force is having white skin.

I am aware that there are legitimate law enforcement agencies and officers. The Ferguson police department is no different than a street gang, and in fact, any given street gang may or may not have better ethics. It is at least a possibility.

In the words of one of my favorite ridiculous rappers, Riff Raff, the Ferguson police department is trappin’ like a fool. Here’s Riff Raff to proclaim the truth about those brothers in blue:

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“The Wire” Was Ahead of It’s Time (Part 1)

Note: I am not finished with the entirety of The Wire. Currently I am on season four, episode seven. Why do I love television so much? Because it’s story telling with words and images that is the same every time, there is no variation, there is no retelling, it is the one time presented, and you can analyze it over and over again. It’s not like oral stories passed on, the story itself remains the same but the significance changes over time. It is filmed in one era but can be viewed in another, making the experience different. The technological and anthropological significance of television is one that is truly intellectually underrated.

The Wire might be one of the most bad-ass, gritty, and provocative television series off all time that was not only revolutionary for it’s time, but the social concepts explored in The Wire continue to be possibly more relevant today than at the time of it’s broadcast during 2002 to 2008. The early millennial had not socially approached it’s next revolutionary epoch in America, the likes of which we are seeing in the next wave of liberation movements (gay rights, the fight for racial equality, a focused discussion on what modern feminism is), most likely because Bush was in office and everyone was really patriotic because of the post 9/11 environment and focused on several international wars we had going on. From a national perspective with white Americans in charge, there wasn’t a lot of time to talk about race. So unfortunately for The Wire, while it was critically acclaimed and an arguable work of television perfection, was praised and watched, but the saturated racial environment explored by The Wire wasn’t raw like it is now.

Flash forward, and under our first black President, a barrage of social changes are accomplished. Gay marriage is legal in 36 states, marijuana is fully recreational under one state and medicinally available in 23 states in some form, and there is a frank national conversation about how rape victims are treated in this country from a non-male solipsistic perspective. Granted, this did not all occur at once under President Obama (gay marriage and medicinal marijuana were “a thing” before his administration though clearly the ability of both those movements to gain momentum forward increased dramatically under Obama), but the more liberalized political and cultural environment and clearly brought changes.

However, as a nation, we are seeing a discussion on race relations that still has the ugly unsettled undercurrents and full swirl tsunamis of white supremacy and hatred against non-whites that pervades in the hearts of some in this country. With all footsteps forward come backlashes, and as everyone knows the scope and breadth of hatred is long-winded. Ferguson was a national tragedy, disaster, and embarrassment to justice. It also caused Chris Rock to make one of the funniest jokes I have ever heard concerning how social relations now function in the new cyber world, “I found a new app to tell which one of your friends is a racist. It’s called Facebook”, referring to the number of pro-Wilson sentiments that many white Americans were exposing, some in the process exposing the ugliness and irrationality of their racist thoughts. Indeed, I defriended at least two people as a result of their hateful racism displayed on my Facebook feed.

Back to The Wire, the first season is pure gold. I am a cinema and television junkie, and The Wire proved so masterful in it’s story telling, character building, and plot development, that the next seasons unfortunately haven’t captured the same gold shine, though they do gleam as works of the most advanced and rich television series to date. However, the rest of the seasons are not without merit. The first season is a work of drugs, sex, money, power, politics, and what lays beyond the veil of civilized and polite company. The rest of the seasons tell the tale of how it gets to be that way, and unfortunately some of the sexiness wears off. Season Four is spent examining the broken lives of Baltimore’s children, hardly a “sexy” topic and nor should it be, but one of incredible seriousness that shows the generational impact of times that came before a person was born.

John Rawls is considered a father of “liberal contractionalism”, or the philosophical concept that all human beings have an inherent obligation to one another by virtue of being human. On your first day in Philosophy 101 class in college, you are taught Rawl’s “Veil of Ignorance”, a mind exercise that asks the person to erase any and all concepts of identity. Pretend that there is no civilization, you have no identity, and you don’t know the significance of any identity characteristics behind “the veil”. Now, while you’re behind this veil, you create what you want society to look like.

Is it based on your identity characteristics, and which ones, and why, and for what reason, and how?

Most likely you would say something along the lines of an equal society, because human beings are by virtue, of merit in and of themselves.

What this equal society looks like, is up to your imagination. But remember, when the veil is lifted and you are in a wheelchair, without physical beauty, of the ethnic group out of favor, and of a limited economic status, do you want to be considered of less value than a physically beautiful able bodied person who is part of the majority ethnic group with a lot of disposable income? Remember now, you didn’t know your identity and what it meant under the veil. You were just asked what equal treatment of human beings looks like.

After The Wire runs us into the underworld, introduces us to where political contributions come from in inner city urban areas, what people do when they are put in potentially deadly environments, and a healthy swig of cop culture, it brings us to what happens to the children when they grow up in this environment. And this is what America was not ready for ten years ago, an examination of what police violence, racial tension, economic degradation, illegal drug markets and poor understanding and treatment of people living with addiction can psychologically wreck on children.

Ol Dirty Bastard of the Wu Tang Clan, one of the greatest hip-hop groups to help tell the struggle of the African-American identity and experience in inner city America, once said “Wu Tang is for the Children!”. Most people rarely understood the extreme wisdom of this rambling man, and what he meant was, us, the Wu Tang, we tell the truth. The truth, what you let children know and how you let them know it, is how they know the world. Wu Tang wasn’t about lying to the children, it was about enlightening them to the harsh reality with their story-telling.

In Part II, I hope to offer an analysis of why America needs to rewatch The Wire in order to pull away our veil of ignorance. 


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My “Serial” Obsession- Political versus Philosophical Justice

before

I have a tumblr, gzeu.tumblr.com, and it is one of my favorite past times, to scroll through the endless series of images people decide to reblog. It is a wonderful source of bizarre fun, “from porn to puppies in seconds” is one of the jokes of  the site (though the Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to do away with all the sex, in the spirit of corporate America) and so when I saw this wonderful image of one of my favorite television characters, Rust Cohle from True Detective, I knew I had to delve into Serial.

I listened to the entirety of Serial in nearly one day. I saved the last episode for the next day because the night was fading into morning, and I wanted to save it. I did the exact same thing with True Detective.

Then I did that weird thing that makes me an eccentric person. I really love cinema, and will often re-watch movies countless times until I can watch them in my head.  I did this with Serial. I fell asleep to Serial,  I ate breakfast to Serial, and I even did yoga while listening to the disturbing tale of this sad murder. Hae Min Lee became a person I thought about while I walked down the street to buy milk. Her mothers testimony at Adnan’s sentencing, about a Korean proverb that observes that when parents die they are buried in the ground, but when a child dies they are buried in the parents heart, made me think about my mother while I cooked macaroni and cheese one night. Clearly, it was very important that we know what happened to Hae. She sounded like the very definition of a good person, a true young lady who had a promising future and was well liked by peers and adults.

So, the thing that makes this story that Sarah Koenig narrates for us compelling is that essentially the entire state’s case rests on the credibility of the state’s witness, Jay. There is something significant; Jay knows where Hae’s car is. But that does not mean that Adnan killed Hae. That is a logical leap of epic proportions. And here is why.

Jay is a noted liar. Jen, the girl Jay was most likely cheating on his girlfriend with, says “Well, Jay lies. Everyone knows Jay lies”. Jay lies about all kinds of things, things that are both benign, and then things that are more shady. When The Intercept interviews Jay, he comes out with this absolutely incredible story that he had never told before.

One thing that everyone agrees is that Jay and Adnan were not “friends”. Adnan says “we didn’t exactly kick it per se” which as Koenig awkwardly seems to translate for seriously suburban white people as “yes we smoked weed together, but we were acquaintances and not friends”. So, in The Intercept interview, Jay now essentially says “so this dude who is not really my friend shows up at my grandma’s house with a dead body in the trunk and says hey you big drug dealer I’m going to rat on you unless you help me bury this body”. The entire trial Jay has this entire story built around seeing Hae’s body at Best Buy, the words “Best Buy” are used about fifty times every episode.

But now, this is not true. And Adnan is sitting in prison.

Or was something else going on entirely? Here’s where I am going to get wildly speculative. Throughout all the interviews with Jay, the detectives are clear to say that Jay was dealing marijuana, only marijuana, and no additional drugs. Jay, who appears to be egocentric to say the least, claims that he was the “criminal element” of Woodlawn. This makes me inclined to believe that Jay was dealing dimebags and thinking that he was a badass, but just because a liar does not mean a true statement cannot be made by that person. Jay gets a sweetheart deal with accomplice to murder after the fact with no prison time, and he gets a lawyer who was hand picked by the prosecution. What we know from watching The Wire, which I am completely aware is a work of fiction but has been critically acclaimed for its realistic storytelling, is that Baltimore is a narcotics town. Any and all towns that are heavy sources of narcotics are corrupt. Was Jay up to something else, and all this knowledge that he had was a thing about protecting a greater source? Everyone agrees that Jay and Adnan were not friends. But were they business associates? In the last episode, Josh, who was a coworker of Jay’s, attested to the fact that “he was scared” after the murder. He also says that he was afraid “people” were after him, “people” connected to the murderer. Did something go wrong while Jay was borrowing Adnan’s car and she got strangled?

It’s a complete theory. But its a question posed in philosophical justice that recognizes the corrupt relationship between government and organized crime.

Getting away from speculation, it is clear that Adnan’s Muslim identity was used against him. The prosecutor arguing against bail for Adnan tells a wild tale of all these “jilted” “Muslim” and “Pakistani” men who kill their lovers who reject them (because come on, all men of Pakistani descent who are Muslim have fantastic terrorist like connections who can get them out of one of the most policed nations on the planet) and then are never brought to justice.

Throughout Serial, Koenig does a good job of making the point that the American justice system has a clear distinction between the idea of what justice is and what justice actually looks like when enacted properly, what could be called the distinction between political justice and philosophical justice. Justice, to prosecutors, is winning the case. The state having absolute power over its citizenry is justice. This is the political definition of justice. As Koenig points out, the detectives were not incompetent. They followed procedure, and a detective on the podcast says that he probably would have followed the same course of action as the detectives did. Philosophical justice is what Koenig was looking for, who did this and why, and why should we believe this person who constantly lies and by all accounts is a shady character? I don’t like to judge people for how they make their living, but Jay was a criminal because he was a marijuana dealer, but to what extent is unclear. His claim is that Adnan threatened him with going to the police because of what he knew about his drug dealing activity.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that murdering someone is worse than dealing some weed. Even a lot of weed. Jay got a sweetheart of a motherfucking deal, and his lawyer was found for him by the prosecutor. That, as Koenig puts it, “is not a thing”. That is insane, and it is corrupt. I believe that the judge made the wrong call by asserting that Jay didn’t know he was getting a benefit. Jay was not stupid, a liar yes but stupid no. He was “street smart”, as described by one juror. He knew that lawyers are worth money.

But why are we getting political justice instead of philosophical justice? Because political justice is easier. This is so cliche, but anyone who has seen The Wire knows that Baltimore is a gritty city. The murder police there must encounter some truly gruesome things. This murder case looked good from a police perspective looking for political justice, to build the best case possible. The lawyers were going to take care of character assassinating Adnan, and everyone else was going to cover their ass on Jay’s case. Why go through extra steps when the suspect’s case was going to go through successfully.

If Jay is now telling the truth that Adnan showed him the body at his grandmother’s house and not at Best Buy, was this Best Buy story a cover for Jay’s marijuana operation? How big of a dealer was Jay anyway? Why is Jay talking about this grandma trunk pop business now, after the podcast, after all the Reddit.com speculation? Why did the prosecutor give him such an enormously good deal? Was Jay only a marijuana dealer, or was he connected in some way to some important person? Were these kids who were smoking weed, in 1999, maybe getting a little high on heroin in a place where that is somewhat normal? Intelligent people, intelligent adults and teenagers use drugs. This is completely speculative of me. But I’m just sayin’, I wonder these things.

Philosophical justice means exposing some things. Something that always bothered me was that Hae’s body was by all accounts well hidden. On the last episode, Koenig reveals that there is reason to believe that there was a serial killer operating within the Baltimore area at that time targeting Asian women. This would take massive amounts of time, coordination, detail oriented effort, creativity, and man hours to uncover a serial killer. Former chief of the FBI’s Crime Unit John Douglas states that a “conservative estimate” puts the number of active serial killers operating in the United States between 35 and 50. The FBI also cites that strangulation is the most common form of murder for serial killers, with 42.5% of victims strangled. Hae was strangled.

It is possible that Adnan killed Hae. Strangulation is also a very personal way to kill someone, and random lethal domestic violent attacks do happen. But the Kafkaesque maze of analyzing who Adnan is, evaluating which part of what Jay says is the truth or a lie, the entire bizarre situation with the prosecutor and Jay’s lawyer, and this strange observation that according to Koenig, the body was really well hidden, and according to Jay, it doesn’t sound like they put a lot of physical effort into disposing Hae’s body makes me feel like this was a case where political justice won. But an experienced killer would know how to dispose a body so that it would be hard to find and know that Baltimore is a place where many people are murdered.

The only two people who know who killed Hae are Hae and her murderer. And what is so absolutely tragic is when murders get away with murder, like George Zimmerman. But what might be more tragic, is when a man’s life is taken away based upon a narrative about his identity and a story told by an identified liar.

That to me is reasonable doubt.


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The Sight Is Dismal

I’m a white lady who historically has been passionate about coming to a non-white solipsist movement toward giving racial identity the respectful integrity it deserves. People are diverse, and diversity is part of what makes the Earth beautiful. Whiteness dominance degrades the diversity of humanity.

For some white people, it is difficult to understand why I would be willing to give up privileges of whiteness, an objective I honestly do not always know how to preform.

But the sight is dismal. The systematic use of murder against black people in this country is well documented. For example the government of the United States of America murdered Fred Hampton in his bed. Eric Garner was murdered by the New York Police Department, forty odd years later. These people both, in varying capacities, asserted that they had civil rights and the right to not be harassed by the police force. They were both murdered in cold blood

I don’t know what to do about the blood in the street.

I can breathe, unlike Eric Garner. I can confront white men about their racism without fear of getting violently assaulted, although that is always a possibility of male rage when living female. I know that there are other people who want to end this, who are also white, but I do not know what massive action we can take. I feel so helpless, sitting at my computer typing this feels silly, because it feels so small and unimportant. But I can’t shut up, because I get to breathe, and all these people who have darker skin than I do can’t breath because there is something seriously sick with the authority in this country.

What I do know is this: silence on this issue is violence against every black person in this country who has died at the hands of psychopathic white genocidal violence. Silence is violence when there is blood in the street. 

What do we do with this information?


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Murder is An American Value

If a person is declared murdered by a medical examiner, then they have been murdered.

Eric Garner was declared murdered by a New York medical examiner.

The people who are videotaped murdering Eric Garner, a video that is accessible on the internet, have not been indicted by a Staten Island grand jury. These people happen to be police officers.

If a person is declared murdered in the state of New York and that person is black,and that murderer is a white police officer, then there is a likely chance that the murderers will not be indicted.

This is what this decision means. We are not in Mississippi in the 1800s where black men’s mutilated bodies sway from trees, and for all intents and purposes, those murders were legal. The United States of America has a long standing history of instituting legal murder against black men and women through the use of people granted the manifestation of it’s monopoly on state power.

This is the definition of genocide.

Genocide against black people in Mississippi was a domestic terrorist experience for black men, women, children, and families. Genocide against black people in New York now is the same domestic terrorist experience, with absolute submission required in order to walk away with one’s life. And as Eric Garner shows, who was not in any way shape or form acting threatening to officers, even being completely non-violent can still result in your murder.

Murderers are walking free, with liberty, able to pursuit their happiness, in New York City. In New York, my home state, we wonder how one of the most policed states in America (stop and frisk, NYPD being a standing army, the absolute submission we give to police, the total and complete disregard of black men and women as human beings with civil rights) has actually let several people walk free after they murdered, on camera, a human being.

This is not my country. This is not my country. If this is what it is like to live in America I will do everything I can to make sure your horrific version of reality fails.

Bernadine Dohrn, the mother of the Weathermen Underground, once stated, “We live in the most violent society history has ever created. I am not committed to non-violence in any way.”

I cannot, in good standing as a person of morals and ethics, call for the people of the United States to not resist in every way we can possibly to this genocide being perpetrated against our fellow citizens. We do not have to act violently, but we cannot continue to allow the genocide of people of color by the police force to continue. I cannot state any endorsement of violence on this public forum because it could be used against me in theory, because I have also lost my right to freedom of speech within the cyber sphere due to militant surveillance by the American spy apparatus.

Perhaps no one will ever read this. Perhaps no will will ever care about my words or ideas, or my absolute fear that we are about to tear our society apart and participate in our own destruction because we are too afraid to let love and tolerance prevail.

But what I know, is murder is an American value, and I will not be a part of it.


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His Name Was Michael Brown

He was a man and he was our brother. He was not perfect. He liked to smoke marijuana, he may have committed a crime that day, he may have not always been perfect. That is why he is one of us. None of us are perfect.

I have smoked marijuana, and I may or may not have committed crimes. With all the legislation that binds us in this police state of America, it is doubtful to find very many American adults who have not committed crime in one capacity or another. It is certainly none of your business, as I am innocent of all crime I may or may not have committed until the state can provide a solid case against me to commit me to jail or prison, and it most definitely is not a reason for me to be shot. The difference between me and Michael is that I am white and assumed to not be dangerous.

Michael Brown may or may not have argued with a police officer, and may or may not have acted in the less than perfect manner. But I have acted out around police, and I have not only lived to tell the tale but was helped by the police officers I was difficult toward. I am not the only white person who has been helped by police whereas my black peer counterparts are afraid of the sight of a police vehicle. I am not a perfect human being. Michael Brown was not a perfect human being. Neither of us deserve death over our mistakes.

The only perfect people are Darren Wilson. The only perfect people are Robert McCulloch. The only perfect people are the people who say that this is not about race. The only perfect people are those who believe that it is reasonable for Wilson to have feared for his life due to a demon wearing a black man as a suit.

His name was Michael Brown and he was a human fucking being.