condescending twatbags, law, Police, politicians, racism, safety, social media

“Let’s start properly shaming these people [for calling the police…]” Really?

Here’s one of my random “deep thoughts” pieces… I know they’re getting rarer lately. Special thanks to Wikipedia user, WanderingMogwai for use of the spotted lanternfly photo, which appears here unaltered.

A few days ago, I read articles in both the Washington Post and The New York Times about 9 year old Bobbi Wilson, a brilliant and community minded Black girl who lives in New Jersey. Last summer, Bobbi had heard about how lanternflies, an invasive species, were threatening the environment. The lanternflies, which came to the United States via China, ruin crops and damage trees.

Bobbi decided she wanted to help. So she mixed a solution of dish soap, apple cider vinegar, and water, then went out into her Caldwell, New Jersey neighborhood, resolved to spray as many of the insects as she could. The goal was to disarm them, so she could collect them in a jar, or with her mother and sister, stomp on them. Scientists and state authorities had launched a campaign, urging people to stomp on the bugs when they see them, and if possible, destroy their eggs.

Bobbi was hard at work when she was confronted by a police officer. Her next door neighbor, reportedly a White, Republican, former local councilman by the name of Gordon Lawshe, had called the non-emergency line at the local police department to report that a “real tiny Black woman” was in the neighborhood, spraying things. He said she was wearing a hood, adding, “I don’t know what the hell she’s doing,” he said. “Scares me though.”

The cop who spoke to Bobbi asked her what she was doing. She showed him her jug of solution and explained her project. The officer quickly realized that she wasn’t a threat. Bobbi’s mother, Monique Joseph, asked the police officer why he had come, and he told her that a neighbor had called about the child. Bobbi asked if she was in trouble, and the officer said, in a kind voice, “No, you’re not in trouble.”

When the officer told Lawshe was Bobbi was doing, Lawshe’s response was “What a weirdo, huh?” Lawshe later reportedly apologized to Bobbi and her mother, but now complains that he’s getting death threats.

Glad this was a relatively positive interaction with the cops…

Bobbi has recently been honored by Yale University for her work. The Yale School of Public Health also thanked Bobbi for donating her personal lanternfly collection to the university’s Peabody Museum. Dr. Ijeomi Opara, an assistant professor at Yale’s School of Public Health invited Bobbi and her family to visit Yale for a campus tour and to see Yale’s laboratories and meet other Black female scientists. Dr. Opara explained that Black children are often described as older than they are.

From The New York Times article:

Ijeoma Opara, an assistant professor of public health at Yale who also directs its Substance Abuse and Sexual Health Lab, said she found Bobbi’s story especially compelling. It closely aligned with her research interests — the impact of racism on Black girls and other children of color. It represented a phenomenon that she and other researchers have called the “adultification” of Black girls, who, they say, are more likely to be seen as more criminal and less innocent than white children.

“Often our society, we don’t view Black children as children,” Dr. Opara said. “We view them as much older than what they are. They end up getting less protected; they end up getting judged more. They end up not being forgiven for mistakes.

Dr. Opara asked her Twitter followers to help her find Bobbi in November after watching a video of her mother and older sister, Hayden, 13, speaking about Bobbi’s experience during a borough council meeting. She offered to give the family a campus tour so she could visit Yale’s labs and meet other Black female scientists — a small group on campus whose members now call themselves Bobbi’s “Yale Aunties.

In addition to the honor from Yale, Princeton, the American Museum of Natural History and a host of other universities and state and local officials have recognized Bobbi for her lanternfly solution. In July, both Wilson sisters will attend a summer research program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology on scholarships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for young scientists.

Although this situation could have turned out tragically, Lawshe’s call to the authorities has turned into something potentially very positive and life changing, not just for Bobbi, but for other kids like her. I was very touched when I read this story. I literally had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I honestly feel very happy and proud of Bobbi, and I know she’ll go far.

But then I read some of the comments from people… I know. I know… big mistake!

The first thing I noticed was the assumption that the person who called the police must have been a “Karen”. If you read this blog regularly, you might already know how much I hate that particular pejorative. People trot it out anytime someone does something they consider overly entitled, and generally speaking, it implies that the person who’s done it is a privileged, White, middle-aged woman.

I find the term “Karen” to be pretty offensive on many levels. I mainly dislike it, though, because there are many fabulous people named Karen– male and female (Karen is a masculine name in Armenia)– who don’t deserve to have their name hijacked and turned into a catch-all synonym for a clueless, racist, entitled asshole. As we all know, people who behave in that way are not necessarily always White women of a certain age. Moreover, because it’s kind of a “quaint” name that has fallen out of fashion, its use as an insult is also kind of ageist.

The second thing I noticed was the attitude that the person who called should be “properly shamed” and harassed for calling the police. Now… don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty obvious, in this case, that Gordon Lawshe had no business calling the cops on Bobbi. She certainly wasn’t a threat to him. She clearly isn’t a “tiny woman”, either. She is a child who was doing a great thing. Moreover, Lawshe’s comments about Bobbi are very offensive. By all rights, Lawshe should be very embarrassed about his actions, but he probably isn’t. He should also be formally reprimanded in some way. I might even support a large fine for him for wasting the police officer’s time and resources.

However… I do think people should be allowed to call the police if they legitimately think they need help. The police are supposed to protect and serve. I know it doesn’t always turn out that way, particularly in situations involving people of color. But when it comes down to it, it is the role of the police to investigate when people feel like they are in danger. There should not be any shame in asking for police assistance. And police officers should not behave in a way that make the public distrust them.

I do understand that regaining the public’s trust is a big problem facing the police today, especially since a lot of them have proven they aren’t worthy. I also understand that policing is a very difficult and dangerous job. We live in a world where even children can threaten people. I noticed many people in the comment section suggesting that Mr. Lawshe should have just come outside and spoken to Bobbi himself. Many people asked, “Who’s afraid of a nine year old?”

I’d like to remind those folks that only a month ago, a six year old child shot his first grade teacher in a classroom in Newport News, Virginia. The sad reality is, we really don’t know who’s packing heat these days. Granted, the vast majority of children don’t have access to weapons, but last month’s incident is a reminder as to why some folks would rather not be confrontational, even when a situation involves a child.

Police officers see violence every day. I don’t personally know a lot of police officers, but I would imagine that repeatedly being exposed to the criminal elements of society might make them less trusting and, perhaps, even hostile toward the public. Cops have a very dangerous job. It seems natural to me that being exposed to that kind of stress on a daily basis might change who a person fundamentally is… or perhaps have a negative psychological effect on them.

I think, instead of shaming citizens for calling the police, we should be doing more to make police work safer, so that fewer police officers feel compelled to react so violently. The goal should be to reduce the number of deaths and injuries suffered by people when they encounter the police, not to stop people from asking for help when they need it. And yes, there’s also a lot of work to be done to dispel racism, too. That is a huge part of the problem.

Finally, it is never justified to send death threats to people, no matter what they’ve done. Gordon Lawshe was absolutely wrong to summon the police over what Bobbi Wilson was doing. The fact that he was an elected public official is very dismaying. Personally, I think we must hold our leaders to a much higher standard than some of us do. Both major political parties have issues with this, but lately it seems like Republican elected officials, overall, behave with less humanity than Democrats do. We should choose better leaders, and not allow people like Lawshe to get in power. His conduct, along with that of people affiliated with Donald Trump, is one reason why I don’t plan to ever cast another vote for Republicans in my lifetime.

I do think that people who feel okay about calling random folks “Karens” when they disagree with them are the worst kinds of hypocrites. Because, as they are on their moral high ground, using a proper name as an insult and encouraging shaming, they are basically stereotyping others. In this specific situation, most of the people condemning the police call by using the term “Karen” are assuming that it was a certain type of White woman “of a certain age” who harassed this child. That turned out to be untrue. So, instead of addressing the behavior, they’re busy trying to come up with a similar pejorative name for a man (some use Ken or Kevin). Since when does name calling serve a real purpose, or do anything to solve a problem?

I am absolutely delighted that Bobbi Wilson’s police encounter turned out to be so positive. She is getting the recognition she richly deserves for wanting to be helpful and caring about her community. And it’s a great thing that she is being encouraged to study science and will be mentored by high achieving Black women who work at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. I hope Bobbi never loses her drive to learn new things and be genuinely helpful to others.

I also want to commend the police officer in this situation for being kind, courteous, and extremely professional… although that should be expected of ALL police officers at all times. The cop who spoke to Bobbi Wilson is clearly a credit to his profession. Based on the huge number of police related videos I’ve been watching on YouTube, I’ve come to learn that some cops aren’t much better than the people they arrest. Cops are human, of course, but we should be striving to make all of them worthy of the trust the public puts in them. Society depends on it.

So, to recap…

People should be allowed to call the police if and when they feel they need help. The police should be expected not to hurt or kill people as they carry out their duties, unless a situation is life threatening. There is no use in having a police force if people don’t feel comfortable calling them because they might go viral.

Recent history has shown that children are not inherently safe to approach, just because they are young and small. Yes, we all should be able to talk to a child who is doing something “strange”, but if someone doesn’t feel safe in doing so, they shouldn’t be shamed for asking for help. There are a lot of guns in the United States, and some children are, sadly, getting their hands on them.

The pejorative term “Karen” is ageist and sexist, and people who use it are usually being very hypocritical, especially when they are complaining about racism. Calling someone a “Karen” is negative stereotyping, which is pretty much the crux of what makes racism such a cancer on society. It’s also lazy, uncreative, rude, and disrespectful.

Sending death threats is NEVER okay. It’s acting as judge, jury, and potentially executioner. People who send death threats should face legal consequences.

People should never use the police to harass their neighbors. Those who do should face legal consequences.

True racists or other offensive “ists” are not going to be “properly shamed” by random people on the Internet. It’s not really up to the public to do that, anyway. They should be handled by the criminal justice system, not private citizen vigilantes.

I’m really happy for Bobbi Wilson and the extraordinary opportunities she’s getting because of this disgraceful incident with her neighbor. She absolutely deserves the recognition and the honors. But I also think that it should be a given that Bobbi, or anyone else, would be basically safe in any encounter with the police. That is a goal we, as society members, should strive to achieve.

Just my opinions, y’all.

Edited to add… forty years ago today, we lost this wonderful Karen… She’d probably be sad to know that her name is now used as an insult.

Standard
controversies, Ex, Police, true crime, Twitter

The art of “being real”…

Happy Tuesday, everybody. Bill got online last night and told me that, happily, he expects to be back in Wiesbaden at around noon on Thursday. He won’t be HOME at that time, of course. He has to turn in his rental car and check in at the office. But it does look like he won’t be stuck hanging out in Bavaria all day. I, of course, will be at the vet’s office on Thursday morning, sitting with Arran as he gets chemo infusion number two. Hopefully, it will continue to cause very minimal side effects for him. The difference in him between this week and last week is incredible. Too bad human chemo isn’t like this. He’s getting enough drugs to make him feel better, rather than trying to eradicate the lymphoma. This will make his glide to the Rainbow Bridge much easier, I hope…

Other than doing my usual chores and taking care of the dogs, life continues to plod along for me, here in Germany. I spent yesterday watching some disturbing raw body cam footage taken during arrests. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by the cop videos. I think it’s because they offer a look at real life in America… stuff we don’t usually see ourselves every day, but have seen dramatized on TV. Body cams are a game changer in law enforcement. Watching the videos allows me to see the frailties of people– not just the people being arrested, but the cops as well.

I was raised to respect the police, even though I grew up in a place where the cops weren’t necessarily much better than the people they were arresting. Now that we have technology, though, cops are somewhat more accountable for their behavior than they used to be. And it’s kind of disturbing to see and read about cops who do bad things and get busted because they were on video. Case in point, yesterday I watched a video out of Jacksonville, Florida involving Brittany Williams Moore, a young Black woman who got very angry at a cop who had parked his cruiser in her driveway to check emails. She threw a spoon at him. It had a green substance on it, later determined to be face cream.

This incident went a lot further than it needed to go.

The cop then proceeded to arrest her for assault. The whole thing blew up to the point at which the woman, who weighed maybe 95 pounds soaking wet, was manhandled into handcuffs. Somehow, in the violence of her arrest, she got hit in the mouth and broke some teeth. The May 2020 incident happened during daylight hours, and it was nightfall before she was finally taken to jail. The poor woman was cuffed the whole time. The charges against her were eventually dropped; and now she’s suing the police department. Alejandro Carmona, the cop she originally had the altercation with turned out to be a pretty bad dude, too. He was later arrested for selling sexually explicit pictures of a minor.

Now… I don’t necessarily approve of the way Moore behaved. Instead of speaking calmly to the cops, she screamed at them, threw a spoon, and at one point, kicked one of the officers. However, I can understand why she was frightened, given what happened to George Floyd in 2020, and Ahmaud Arbery, which I believe Carmona even made reference to as he was explaining himself to Brittany’s relatives. I heard the cops call Moore misogynistic names like “bitch”. I get that the cops have stressful jobs, but that kind of language is not acceptable, professional, or necessary.

In another video, I watched a much more professional police officer deal with a young woman who was not very cooperative at all, as she was stopped for riding her bike the wrong way down a road. She was similarly arrested, but as far as I know, she wasn’t injured. I didn’t hear the cop use filthy language, and her teeth survived the situation intact. That situation happened in Oregon, though, and I think there’s a lot less stupidity in the Pacific Northwest than in the Deep South. Not that I don’t love my southern heritage, mind you. I just think a lot of people down there are still living in the early 20th century.

Again… this went way further than it needed to go.

Watching these videos shows me how easy it is to get arrested in the United States, the so-called land of the free. Also, it reminds me that the longer I stay in Europe, the more insufferable Americans seem to me. It just seems like so many people are uncooperative, unpleasant, and just flat out uncivilized. You can see it in any comment section, particularly when they involve politics. It seems like there are two sides of America that hate each other. It’s sad to me, because it wasn’t always like that. Or… maybe I just didn’t notice it because I lived there.

I think the body cams show “real” America, and it ain’t a flattering picture to me. But then, I’m sure that only the most extreme videos wind up on YouTube. On the other hand, there are a whole lot of body cam channels, meaning there are a lot of videos. And they show people at their worst. I don’t envy what cops have to deal with on a daily basis, but I also think that cops can turn into Olympic class assholes after too much time on the job. Check out this dude from Arkansas. Actually, Bill and I had a good laugh at this guy, even though he called the guy he was chasing a “motherfucker”.

This one is straight out of a Police Academy movie. “I’m gonna Tase you, motherfucker!”

I did have a laugh. I admit it. He’s not very professional, but damn, he’s funny! I don’t think I’d feel that way if he was arresting me, though. Another thing these videos do is remind me that the United States is lacking charm in a lot of areas.

Moving on…

I know I vented about Ex yesterday, but she keeps giving me more material to work with, to include today’s featured photo, which she retweeted (and by the way, she ain’t it). I mentioned yesterday that she presents a “false self” to the world, right? And I come to that conclusion, because the shit she puts on Twitter is so opposite to what people who have actually had to deal with her in person have experienced and reported. But she’s always smoothing the edges of her facade with fake bullshit, and today is no exception. Behold:

Bwahahaha… Ex doesn’t like being around “fake people”. She should stay away from mirrors.
I’ve seen this reaction before… it was when a certain “narcissistic type” from Epinions first met my husband in person. Her tongue came out and she started panting, probably because she could smell the empath pheromones. I think Ex is much the same. This dude better stay far away.

Here’s the funny thing. Maybe I’m unusual, but I don’t have crushes anymore. I don’t want to be with anyone but my husband. I’m not comparing other men to Bill. He gives me all I need and then some. I mean, yes, I notice when someone is attractive, but I’m not interested in them sexually… not even for a hug and a dance. But, that’s just me… I may just be very lucky. Again, as much as I despise Ex, I am glad she dumped Bill. He’s just the right guy for me. She did me a huge favor. I think “real people” should stay away from Ex. She damages them with her lies.

And finally…

Last night, I was about to post a comment on Facebook, when I got an automated message from a bot warning me that my comment looked like ones that had been removed for violating their community standards. It was a comment directed at Marjorie Taylor (Greene), who is a highly divisive, obnoxious, and polarizing political candidate and public figure who would never deign to read the comments about her on Facebook. Meanwhile, they have no problem allowing people to offend the rank and file with all manner of insults. Once again, I am shocked that I’m at a point in my life at which I allow myself to be “disciplined by bots”. I really do need to find another outlet for my angst. But that’s why I blog, right?

Well, it’s time to strip the bed and do another household chore. Have a nice Tuesday. I’ll probably see y’all tomorrow.

Standard
controversies, lessons learned, Police, true crime, YouTube

Maryland cops mimic kindergartner’s temper tantrum with one of their own…

A few days ago, The Washington Post shared an article about two cops in Montgomery County, Maryland, who have just been part of a lawsuit stemming from their actions on January 14, 2020. A five year old boy at East Silver Spring Elementary School had a meltdown shortly after lunch. He became upset and threw a clipboard at a teacher and a fellow student. Then he ran out of the classroom, outside of the school, and toward a congested section of Silver Spring, Maryland. Having been to Silver Spring myself, I know that this is basically a suburb of Washington, DC, and there’s a lot of traffic.

School officials called the police, and officers Kevin Christmon and Dionne Holliday arrived on the scene. They quickly located the boy, who was hiding nearby. At first, the cops were pleasant toward the boy, but when he refused to cooperate with him, the police officers became very controlling and, many would say, abusive. Christmon’s voice turns stern as he demands that the boy look at him, then asks why he’s out of school. When the boy doesn’t willingly emerge from his hiding spot, Christmon grabs him by the arm and yanks him toward the other officer. The boy starts screaming “No, no, no, no…” as the police order him into the back of their squad car. By that point, an assistant principal had arrived, and managed to get the boy to calm down enough to get into the car.

Bodycam footage was released on Friday, hence the news article I read. I watched the raw footage, and I was pretty shocked by the way those “peace officers” were berating that child. According to the Washington Post, the following exchange occurred:

“I don’t wanna to go,” [the boy] said, his voice shaking and coughing.

“I don’t care!” the officer replied. “You don’t make that decision for yourself!”

Holliday spoke to the child through an open door. “Does your momma spank you?” she asked, adding, “I’m going to ask her if I can do it.”

Naturally, the harsh words and threats served to upset the boy even more. He screamed and cried. The officers described his behavior as “headstrong” and “defiant”. Christmon said that he felt his actions were justified, because the boy was being “non-compliant.” Holliday said that she threatened him to “get him to shut up.” Both officers screamed at the boy, trying to overpower his screams with their voices. At one point, Holliday “primal screams” a couple of inches from the boy’s face, which only served to cause him to scream louder.

This is a news report from March 2021 from NBC news. It was aired before the outcome of the lawsuit was revealed.

At one point, Officer Christman holds the boy down in the chair for 80 seconds. Later, Christmon puts a handcuff on the boy’s wrist and tells him that handcuffs are what people who don’t want to listen end up wearing. The cops call the boy’s mother, who later comes to the school and complains that she has trouble disciplining the child. She says she fears using corporal punishment, because she doesn’t want child protection services to take him away. Officer Holliday then advises the boy’s mother on the level of corporal punishment that will not result in his being removed from her custody. She tells the mom, “We want you to beat him… All I can tell you is to beat that ass.” At one point, Holliday also made a comment about how “animals should be crated”, adding that that’s what should happen to boys who want to “act like a little beast.” And she referred to the child as “a shepherd for the devil.”

I wasn’t originally planning to write about this case, as I’ve found that a lot of times, people involved in these situations go looking for opinions and then get angry or upset when they disagree with mine. Regular readers might recall that I recently disabled my official Facebook page for this blog because someone contacted me through Facebook with abuse, threats, and insults because they didn’t like an old blog entry I reposted. I have a feeling that this case could inspire similar attempts to berate me, simply for having and sharing an opinion.

However… against my better judgment, I’m going to write about this. My heart broke for that poor kid, even as I have empathy for the adults who were trying to deal with him. I was never as out of control as that boy was, but I do remember being very small and emotionally immature, crying and screaming, and being threatened, bullied, and hit by some of the adults in my life– particularly, my father. I don’t remember anyone ever speaking to me calmly and trying to redirect the tantrum– which is a pretty normal thing for kids to have, by the way. I remember hyperventilating and being terrified. And when I saw and heard that boy’s screams, it took me back to that place, many years in the past.

Not surprisingly, the boy in this story had nightmares in the wee hours of the next morning. He woke up at 3:00am and cried to his mother, saying that he was afraid the police were going to shoot him. The mother filed a complaint with the police department and later sued. Her suit was settled out of court for $275,000, which according to Dr. Todd Grande, who also analyzed this case, the boy will get when he’s an adult.

I liked what Dr. Grande had to say about this case. He’s very astute.

Dr. Grande notes that the police, who are trained to “take control” of a crime situation, lost control in dealing with this child. Cops, as I have observed from watching many Bodycam videos on YouTube, are used to being able to get as physical as they need to with non-compliant adults. But this is a five year old child, so obviously, it would not have been appropriate for them to wrestle him to the ground, put him in handcuffs, and Taser the shit out of him. Instead, they tried to act like “stern adults” and browbeat the child into submission with screaming, yelling, threats, and insults. But, as we can all see, that technique only made things a lot worse.

Christmon later said, having watched the video footage, “Honestly, after looking at this, we should have dropped him off and left,”

I agree. Because it’s clear that these two officers don’t have much expertise in talking to children, and their methods were abusive and inappropriate for a young child. I believe that, even though I have worked with children myself, and I know that dealing with them can be frustrating. Kids don’t have the same situational awareness that adults have, and they often lack self-control. This child, who apparently has a record of acting out in school and at home, needed someone with more experience dealing with troubled children. From what I saw in the video footage, it appeared that the cops weren’t behaving much better than the boy was. However, the boy has his age and maturity level as an excuse.

The two officers did face discipline for the way they handled this case. Officer Christmon was suspended for almost two weeks. Officer Holliday got four weeks’ suspension. Both suspensions occurred without pay. The officers were also administratively charged with a number of infractions, including neglect of duty and failure to be courteous.  The police officers agreed with the punishments, did their penance, and the matter was closed. Both remain employed as police officers today.

Many people seemed to think that these two cops should be fired for their bad conduct, especially since it’s cost the county $275,000. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. It does sound to me like the officers recognize that they did wrong, and handled the situation poorly. They seem amenable to learning from the incident and doing a better job in the future. I’m not a big fan of canceling people’s livelihoods for one mistake, even when it’s a whopper like this one. In this case, the boy suffered significant mental distress that he’ll probably remember from now on. But no one was physically injured or killed, and it does sound like some learning happened.

I am not a fan of “beating children”, as most of my regular readers probably know. I had a teacher in the 80s who employed corporal punishment. He once carried it out on me, in front of my entire class of peers. Forty plus years later, I still haven’t forgotten it, and it still really pisses me off to think about it. That punishment was inappropriate. I also had a father whose methods of discipline involved force, yelling, insults, and physical abuse. He’s been dead for eight years, and I still have bad feelings toward him. That kind of “discipline” doesn’t teach anything but fear, and tends to make things much worse. Sadly, some school districts in the United States still use corporal punishment. At this writing, 19 states still allow corporal punishment in schools, although happily, my home state of Virginia no longer does. The state of Missouri has just now brought the method back to schools, reportedly at the request of some parents. 

I understand that inflicting physical pain on someone who is out of control with emotion can sometimes “shock” them into compliance, especially when they are young children. However, in my experience, relying on that method of discipline leads to laziness on the part of the adult, and is ultimately disrespectful to the child, who is a human being and worthy of basic respect. We would never advocate for a husband slapping or spanking his wife when he became angry with or frustrated by her behavior. Many people would consider that “domestic violence.” And yet, a lot of people think it’s perfectly fine for a much larger human being to terrorize a child with threats of being hit or beaten, personal insults and comparisons to animals, and screaming and yelling. I promise, yelling and screaming at children doesn’t tend to inspire them to calm down and be quiet.

Police officers have a very difficult job, dealing with dangerous people who carry weapons. This was a case of a small child, obviously unarmed, and clearly much smaller and weaker than the cops were. The level of control the officers tried to inflict on the child was inappropriate, and clearly, very abusive. The boy wasn’t a threat to them. He was simply having a tantrum, which young kids often do. It seems to me the appropriate thing for the cops to do in this case was simply to see that the boy got back to school safely. And then, they should have allowed a professional who has much more experience working with children handle the boy’s meltdown. I don’t know if either of these cops have children, but their conduct offers a glimpse at how their children could be disciplined. It’s disturbing that one of the officers advocated for “beating” the child, even if she meant it in the vernacular. It’s really not a good look.

Standard
law, Police, Reality TV, TV, YouTube

My evening with crusty, stinky feet, and “stinking drunk driving” cops…

Bill left for Stuttgart yesterday, so I spent last night on the proverbial wagon, catching up on episodes of My Feet Are Killing Me, which is a pretty gross, but oddly compelling, TLC show about podiatry. TLC isn’t exactly the best channel for highbrow television, but watching that show has given me new respect for foot and ankle surgeons. I remember how Dorothy on The Golden Girls was unimpressed when her daughter married a podiatrist. There were gags aplenty about what an uneventful, boring, unsexy speciality it is. But watching just one episode of My Feet Are Killing Me can prove just how challenging the field can be for the right people. I can see that they really do make a big difference in improving the quality of their patients’ lives.

I watched four action-packed episodes of My Feet Are Killing Me, all of which featured people with various tumors, swelling, crusts, warts, and oozing lesions that were embarrassing and horrifying. Then I went back to YouTube, looking for something short to pass the last minutes before it was time to turn out the light.

I ended up on yet another police action channel. This must be the latest YouTube trend– people getting bodycam videos from police stations around the United States and uploading them to YouTube. I found myself on a channel called Real World Police. I’ve watched several videos on this channel and ended up subscribing to it last night, when I happened to catch the bodycam documentation of former Lower Township, New Jersey police lieutenant John Chew, when he was caught driving while under the influence of lots and lots of alcohol.

Below you can see the three videos that lay out this astonishing incident in detail. The first two pretty much detail everything, while the third is a short soundless synopsis of Chew’s booking. His arrest happened on the lovely spring evening of April 27, 2018. Chew, then 48 years old and off duty, was driving his black Chevy truck erratically enough that several people called the police to complain. One caller had said that Chew was driving at a high rate of speed, had run a red light, and crashed several times. Fellow cops quickly found Chew, and noticed that he wasn’t able to stay in his lane. After a couple of miles, Chew was finally pulled over, and he was clearly inebriated. He was so impaired that he needed to lean on his truck to remain upright.

After he failed the field sobriety tests, Chew was advised that he was being arrested for DWI. Chew then tried to sit in the front seat of the police cruiser, but was told he had to sit in the back. He was not handcuffed. Although his cop brethren were treating him with great respect, Chew behaved like he was enraged at getting caught while driving so obviously loaded with booze. Chew was a 23 year veteran of the force, and had even been promoted a few months before he was pulled over for DWI.

The officers who arrested Mr. Chew were put in a pretty awkward situation, as Chew had trained at least one of them.

Once they got to the police station, Chew was confronted by another colleague, also a lieutenant, who asked him questions. To each “yes or no” question, Chew raised his hand and extended his middle finger, to which the sober officer said, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’.”

The lieutenant who is handling Chew’s case tries so hard to preserve Chew’s dignity, telling Chew that he requested that his mug shot and other details not be uploaded to the agency’s Facebook page or Web site. News of the former cop’s arrest didn’t surface until a year after the incident happened, and only because the good people at Real World Police requested the public records regarding Chew’s case and reported on it. When officials at the agency were asked why the incident wasn’t publicized, Executive Officer Capt. Martin Biersbach explained “I requested it not be published at that time because an Internal Affairs complaint against Lt. Chew had been initiated and we are required by the Attorney General Guidelines to maintain confidentiality.”

As Chew is processed, his former colleague, the lieutenant, tries to reason with him, as Chew bellows that he intends to retire the following day. He is repeatedly told that he must go to the hospital. The lieutenant on duty repeatedly asks Chew to cooperate, warning him that if he doesn’t go quietly, they will have to “tie him down” and take him to the hospital. I assume that’s because they needed a blood sample, after several Breathalyzer tests indicated that Chew had a blood alcohol content of .36, which is EXTREMELY drunk. I also heard the lieutenant remind Chew of the police department’s policies, and then he said, “Frankly, I’m worried about your health.” Evidently, when suspects arrive at the police station with a BAC that high, they automatically go to the hospital for treatment.

In spite of being so wasted, Chew is able to stand up, walk, carry on a conversation… and sort of drive. That, my friends, is a professional level drunk. Chew obviously has an astonishing tolerance for alcohol. And believe me, I know of what I write. Most normal people who have that much booze on board are not coherent at all. According to the chart I linked, Chew must have had over a dozen drinks, and should have been about to drop into a coma. But, as you can see below, he was nowhere near losing consciousness. I was really thinking they were going to have to break out the restraints at some point. Chew kept insisting that he would NOT be voluntarily going to the hospital in an ambulance. He wanted the lieutenant to drive him, which was, of course, against policy.

Chew is handled with a lot of dignity and compassion… but he’s very belligerent, pathetic, and uncooperative. This second video is remarkable.
A shorter video with no sound.

On September 13, 2018, Chew pleaded guilty to a first offense of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was fined about $700, and required to use an ignition interlock for six months after losing his license to drive for seven months. He had to spend twelve hours per week at an intoxicated driver resource center. Mr. Chew was also suspended administratively from his job as police lieutenant, and later filed for retirement, as he was evidently unwilling to cooperate with the police department’s efforts to help him with his obvious problem with alcoholism.

Upon further investigation, I’ve found evidence that the incident from April 2018 was not Chew’s last experience with DWI. According to this link, he also got busted on December 28, 2020, this time while driving a 2015 white Nissan Altima. In that case, he was found sitting behind the wheel, slurring his speech, and stinking of booze. He was not wearing any shoes, but did have on a pair of socks. The police officer who approached him knew him, and Chew apparently felt he was owed a favor, as he asked the cop to either take him home, or follow him home. He repeatedly asked the officer to close his door, but the officer refused. When Chew exited the vehicle, he wasn’t able to stand upright. The officer arrested him, and handcuffed him in front, as Chew said he was in total pain all over.

After Chew was placed in a police car for transport to the station, officers noticed two bottles of Svedka Vodka in the front seat. One bottle was completely empty, and the other was partially empty. A third bottle was in the car’s console, with some vodka missing. At the police station, Chew initially refused to exit the vehicle, but was later convinced to cooperate. His breath was again tested, and that time, he blew a .33. Again– he should have been near comatose, and was very obviously impaired. And once again, he was taken to the hospital by ambulance for medical attention. I’m not sure if he protested as strongly the second time as he did the first time, back in 2018.

I wonder what caused Chew to imbibe so much. I know police work is very stressful. It’s hard on all levels, to include life at home, as well as on the job. Chew was a family man– a husband and father of two. I’m sure his work was hard on his family, especially his wife, who probably worried about him constantly. I hear him say, in the second video, that “life sucks” and to “fuckin’ take care of your fuckin’ marriage.” Chew’s wife probably had to deal with Chew in this state many times, along with the stress of his work. Maybe they were on the brink of divorce? It wouldn’t surprise me. As the daughter of an alcoholic, I also feel sorry for Chew’s kids.

Chew was a member of the SWAT team, which is definitely high stress, very dangerous work. Aside from that, I’ve been watching a lot of cop videos lately, and I’m astonished by what they have to put up with from members of the public. There’s a lot of disrespect and mistrust, which isn’t always unwarranted. But it is a dangerous and necessary job, and there is definitely a lot of danger and stress. I can understand why many cops drink. I also know, having been raised by an alcoholic, how devastating alcoholism is– for the alcoholic, and for all of the people who have to be around them. Then there’s the fact that alcoholism tends to run in families. It definitely does in mine. Maybe Chew has a family history of alcoholism, too.

I’m just glad Chew hasn’t killed anyone… yet.

I’ll probably watch more of the same kind of stuff tonight, as Bill will be gone until Friday. I also plan to keep trying to get through my latest book, so I can review it and move on to something a bit lighter. I could use a break from the doom and gloom that dominates the airwaves these days.

Incidentally, former TLC star Jill Duggar Dillard, has given birth to her third son, Frederick Michael Dillard. He was born July 7th, which is also Bill’s birthday. Looks like he was a little bit early, but otherwise basically healthy. Congratulations to Jill and Derick.

Standard
law, Police, slut shamers

Woman takes pill on live television to de-stigmatize abortion…

Things continue to get weirder and weirder in the United States. A few months ago, Texas lawmakers passed a draconian bill that practically bans all abortions after six weeks’ gestation. Others states have jumped on the anti-abortion bandwagon, doing their best to outlaw what many women consider an important and fundamental right to have dominion over their own bodies. And yet, 49 years after Roe v. Wade allowed pregnant women to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction, some people are still trying so very hard to rescind that right.

I have never made it a secret that I am pro-choice. I’m grateful that I’ve never been in a situation in which I’ve needed to consider having an abortion. At this point in my life, my need to be concerned about abortion on a personal level is pretty much over. I won’t ever be pregnant. I doubt I would have chosen to have an abortion, but I can’t say for certain that I wouldn’t have. I know women who are wonderful, loving mothers who have made that choice. I don’t think any less of them for choosing abortion. It’s none of my business. And as someone who has often felt unwanted and unwelcome, I might even say that given a choice, I might have even preferred it if my mom had made that decision when she was pregnant with me. I do know for a fact that I wouldn’t have been any the wiser. I simply would not have existed.

This morning over breakfast, Bill and I were talking about a news story that made national headlines yesterday— it was about a woman who took an abortion pill as she was debating abortion on Fox News. I suddenly realized that not only am I “pro-choice”… I could say that I’m actually rabidly pro-choice. I feel like it’s a personal decision that should always and only be made by the one “already born” person who will be directly affected by the pregnancy in question.

Pro-choice activist, Jex Blackmore, stuns when she takes a mail order abortion pill during a debate.

Detroit area pro-choice activist and former Satanic Temple spokesperson, Jex Blackmore, was squaring off with pro-life activist and attorney, Rebecca Kiessling, on Fox News 2’s segment, Let it Rip, when she took the little white pill that she said would “end a pregnancy.” Blackmore said, as she was arguing for the safety of mail order abortion pills, “I want to show you how easy it is, how safe it is, by taking it myself.” She held up the small white pill– mifepristone– which, when combined with a second pill– misoprostol– is used to end pregnancies before ten weeks’ gestation.

Blackmore stammered a little bit as she explained the pill to the host of the show, Charlie Langton, telling him that the pill is very safe and allows people to end their pregnancies in private. Then, Blackmore casually took the pill on live television, swallowing it with water.

Langton looked shocked and bewildered as he asked, “You’re not pregnant, are you?”

To that, Blackmore said, “I would say that this is going to end a pregnancy. This would be my third abortion.”

Take that, Rebecca.

The camera then panned to lawyer and pro-life activist, Rebecca Kiessling, whose eyebrows raised and face registered shock and disgust. Then, Rebecca started talking… her part of the video is not very clear, like she didn’t have a good Internet connection. It’s funny to me that Kiessling’s part of the debate was muddled, while Jex Blackmore’s part came through clear as a bell. It’s almost as if there was a divine intervention. Then, at the end of the debate on Fox News, Blackmore shared a Web site where viewers can access the abortion pills, which were recently and permanently approved for mail order by the Food and Drug Administration.

Blackmore later said that she decided to take the pill on television to help de-stigmatize abortion. Frankly, given that this was her third abortion, it’s clear that she doesn’t want to be a mother right now. I think that forcing someone like Blackmore to give birth would be ill advised. She is very nonchalant about taking the pill on television, which tells me that if she got pregnant, and was forced to remain pregnant, she would likely be just as cavalier about safeguarding the health of the developing fetus. And what would pro-lifers choose to do about that? Is it humane to a developing fetus to force it to grow in the womb of an unwilling person? Especially since the personal choices pregnant people make have a direct and potentially disastrous effect on the development of the fetus?

We can’t even offer affordable and accessible healthcare to people who have already been born. How can we force people like Jex Blackmore to take care of themselves in support of a developing baby? The answer is, we can’t… at least not without depriving them of their civil rights. I truly hope the United States doesn’t go down that dark, dystopian, Handmaid’s Tale road. What would stop Jex Blackmore from doing things that would harm the developing fetus? And do we really want to live in a country where people who are pregnant have different civil rights than everybody else does?

I’ll be honest. It does disturb me a little bit to hear that this was Blackmore’s third abortion. Personally, I would be trying not to get pregnant in the first place. Obviously, she doesn’t see pregnancy the way I might see it. Given that she is so relaxed about the process of taking the abortion pill, I think it’s best that she doesn’t gestate against her will. I also want to make it very clear that I’m not judging her, either. I don’t know anything about her or what her life is like. This absolutely should be her choice, and it should not be anyone else’s business. When I look at the outrage and disgust on Rebecca Kiessling’s face as another woman makes a personal choice with which she disagrees, I wonder if she even cares about Jex Blackmore as a person, rather than just a vessel for a developing fetus. Below is a screenshot of Kiessling’s public Facebook post:

Except it wasn’t yet a “baby”, Rebecca. At under ten weeks gestation, it was still an embryo… and it was not at a stage where it looked like a baby. And given your clear distaste for Jex’s “satanic” proclivities, why would you want to force her to bring a baby into the world? You obviously find her disgusting.

Let’s be real. The “abortion pill” is a hell of a lot safer than a coat hanger is in ending pregnancies. If people are really “pro-life”, they should absolutely care about the health, safety, and well-being of already born people ahead of potentially born people. And they should consider the potential consequences of trying to force someone who doesn’t want to be pregnant to gestate that fetus that they pretend to care so much about. I think it’s much more humane for everyone involved to allow safe and early pregnancy terminations, than deny abortions to those who want them and will stop at nothing to get them.

I care more about people who have already been born and are living outside of the womb. Of course, I would prefer it if people who don’t want to get pregnant could just avoid getting pregnant. But that’s not always possible. Sometimes people get pregnant against their wills. Sometimes people want to be pregnant, but need to have an abortion for medical reasons. Sometimes the developing fetus has a condition that would make being born cruel. There are so many life situations that people find themselves in that would make them consider terminating a pregnancy. None of those situations are my business, since I am not directly affected by them. I don’t think it’s right to judge people for making such a personal decision.

So, while I don’t think I’m like Jex Blackmore, and I don’t think I would make the choices she’s made, I stand for her to be able to safely end her pregnancies if she chooses. And while taking the “abortion” pill on live television may seem callous and cavalier to many people, when it comes right down to it, all she did was take a pill. She might as well have been taking aspirin. It’s a non-issue. I’d much rather see her do that, than throw herself down a flight of stairs, or see some back alley butcher, or have someone punch her in the stomach a few times… or use a coat hanger.

I do think it’s interesting, though, that so many people who are against abortion are Republicans. Do they not realize that Romania, a notoriously communist country banned abortions during the Ceausescu era? The end result of that campaign was a lot of sick babies, horribly neglected in orphanages, tragically some of whom could not bond with other people because they were not properly cared for when they were infants. The babies grew up to be adults who, if they were lucky, simply couldn’t love others. If they weren’t lucky, they ended up criminals. It also resulted in very high maternal mortality rates, and people facing prison sentences if they dared to even try to get an abortion or aided and abetted in someone getting one.

So many Republicans are totally against paying for social welfare safety nets. Do they not realize that forcing people to give birth will contribute to poverty? Would they really like to see more people needing government assistance? Or are they thinking that a woman who is poor should be forced to give up her baby to a more affluent, cisgender adoptive couple, again, a la Handmaid’s Tale? Who gets to decide that for them? I thought Republicans were for smaller government and more personal freedom. Apparently they don’t necessarily like less government interference if the person wanting freedom is a woman in her childbearing years.

Also… what should we do with pregnant people who either can’t or refuse to properly take care of themselves? Arrest them and put them in jail? Have Republicans considered how jail and prison affect the health and welfare of pregnant women and their developing fetuses? For those who wonder what it’s like to be pregnant while locked up– in the South, no less– have a look at Jessica Kent’s video below.

Prison is not a safe place to be pregnant.

Or this shorter video about a woman in Minnesota who had to give birth while incarcerated…

Jeez… this is so sad. But at least she got out of jail sixteen days later.

Granted, these two women were not incarcerated because they were wanting abortions. But if we criminalize abortion, their stories could become a lot more common.

So… count me among those who is in favor of the abortion pill, and allowing people to make these choices safely and uninhibited by “big brother” governments run by anti-women politicians. And while I might not necessarily agree with someone’s choice to have an abortion, I also realize that it should be the pregnant individual’s decision alone, since it’s their body, and they will be the one who is most affected by the choice they make. I think Jex Blackmore showed tremendous chutzpah, taking that pill on live television… especially given that it was Fox News. And the savage part of me delights in watching Rebecca Kiessling figuratively clutching her pearls over that decision, as she asks people to “pray”. Obviously, her opinions are mostly formed by religion, which is yet another thing that not everyone embraces. And thank God for that. 😉

Standard