Friday, February 01, 2008

Canton, Ohio: Assault Victim Assaulted by Police

From Canton, Ohio, comes today’s example of fine police work, the sort of thing that makes you proud.

For no apparent reason, Stark County sheriff’s deputies arrested an assault victim for disorderly conduct and—

But, before I go further, I should stop right here and pass along some information you might find useful some day. Here it is …

These days in Police State America, when the cops respond to a call, they are liable to arrest anyone. Culprit, victim, bystanders, anyone is subject to be thrown into jail. It's a fact. I kid you not.

The reason cops do this is because they are stupid. I am sorry to have to phrase it so bluntly, and I realize it may not apply to each and every cop, but unfortunately it's true of so many cops that it must be stated plainly and succinctly, with no beating about the bush. They are stupid, abysmally stupid, therefore do not have the cognitive skills to assess a crisis situation and determine who is the victim, who is the culprit, or who is merely a witness. So, they arrest everyone and let some corrupt judge sort it out.

There is another reason they do this, which is equally important. In fact, it may even be more important. You see, a great many of today’s cops are sadists, as well as stupid. Any excuse at all to torment someone is always welcome. And, as most people are agitated, or hysterical, or angry, or something, in a crisis situation, "disorderly conduct" provides the perfect pretext for arrest. (Another one they use is "public intoxication," whether alcohol is actually involved or not.)

Now, to continue with the story …

The assault victim, Hope Steffey, the 125-pound wife of a high school teacher, was arrested for “disorderly conduct.” You and I would call her behavior hysteria, but then, you and I are rational human beings, we are not cops. The cops interpreted her behavior as uncooperative or disrespectful, so she was arrested for disorderly conduct and taken to jail. On the way, one cop assured her she had nothing to fear from them, because she was the victim. They were only taking care of her.

Oh, they took care of her all right. At the jail, male and female cops and jail workers stripped her naked while she kicked and screamed. She was injured in the process, and was left lying there in the jail cell, naked and injured and cold, with nothing to cover herself but a roll of toilet paper. Several hours later, they came back and put some rag on her that barely covered her body and took her half-naked to booking. See the video here.

But there's good news. A lawsuit is pending, one that Stark County will surely lose. And justice will be served. Stark County will have to pay a great deal of taxpayer’s money to the victim, and the cops and jail workers who were involved in this sordid episode will be severely slapped on the wrists. Yes, justice will be served, as it always is, here in Police State America.

This Strange Land

I feel as if I have been set down in a strange land where there are no trails, no roads, no one to ask directions, and I have neither map nor compass. It is wide-open country, vast and limitless, virginal and wild, full of danger, yet also full of possibility. There are no rules here, no laws, and no structure to my days except that I must eat and sleep and somehow make my way across this land.

I have retired from a job I held for 25 years, almost half my life. This job did not define my identity. It was a way to make a living while I pursued my creative career on the side, always with the dream that some day I might leave that job and pursue my sideline full time. And now here I am, the day has arrived, and I find myself in a strange land.

As I said, the job did not define my identity, but it did define my days. Day in, day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, I would drive to the campus, park my car, walk to my office, unlock the office, turn on the light, turn on the computer, and do what I had always done. Even on days off, I still felt a connection to my workplace. On weekends, sick days, vacation days, holidays, I always knew that I would shortly return. But today, that structure, that dependable schedule, is no more. Today, I will not return.

It feels like a death, and as I sit here in my studio in the pre-dawn darkness, I realize that I was wrong earlier when I said the job did not define me. It certain ways, it did. I took pride in doing a good job, being dependable, going the extra mile once in a while, and, even though I did not always succeed, always at least trying to be a positive presence in the office, not negative, to make friends, not enemies, and to deal with problems with good grace and patience, and save my cussing for when I got home.

The goodbyes were more wrenching than I expected. They gave me a retirement party, and the kindness and appreciation they showed me was overwhelming. All three deans I worked for over the years were there and presented me with a group reference letter each had signed. There were other gifts, too. My supervisor, for instance, gave me a business card holder with the UT longhorn symbol on it. It fits right in my shirt pocket, right over my heart, the orange longhorn, symbol of the place that has been my home-away-from-home all these years—25 as an employee, five as a student, 30 years total. Three decades, and today I will not return.

Yes, it feels like a death. But as I write these words, I notice the sun is coming up. It shines on this strange land, and fills the room with golden light, and as the day begins, it feels like birth.

But I have no illusions about birth. I know it is not easy, and that’s okay. Birth leads to life, and life is good.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

LIVE TONIGHT: PsiOp Radio 1/29/08 Edition

Tonight, SMiles Lewis and I will be back with an all-new live edition of of PsiOp Radio tonight. The show begins at 8 pm EST / 7 pm CST / 6 MST / 5 PST/ 0100 UTC, and can be heard on Revere Radio or Anomaly Radio. I hope you'll join us ...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

America, the Cruel ... America, the Stupid

One of the distinguishing marks of a police state is its cruelty—its cruelty to other nations, as well as to its own citizens.

We see this cruelty more and more every day in America. We see it every time a cop Tasers someone in a wheelchair, or handcuffs a child for misbehaving in kindergarten, or kicks in the wrong door and shoots an old lady to death, or pepper-sprays a crowd of men, women, and children who have assembled peaceably to exercise their first amendment rights. And we see it abroad, too, every time an American soldier or Blackwater mercenary rapes or murders an innocent Iraqi civilian and every time someone is tortured in one of America's many concentration camps around the world.

We see this a lot. The evidence is all around us. America has become a cruel, cruel nation—cruel and stupid.

That is the other distinguishing mark of a police state: stupidity.

A police state, you see, must create stupid laws to justify its cruelties and a stupid bureaucracy staffed with stupid people to run such a cruel and stupid system. And oh, how very stupid America has become. Examples abound. They cannot all be listed here. If I tried, it would take all night, and all day tomorrow, and all next week. Therefore, I must confine myself to two examples from the today's news …

Headline: Immigration officials detaining, deporting American citizens

Apparently this is no joke. American citizens really are being detained as illegal immigrants and deported. Wrap your mind around that one, if you can. We do not know how many people this is happening to, because our government does not track these cases, but it is indeed happening.

Consider the case of Thomas Warziniack, a 40-year-old man born in Minnesota and raised in Georgia, whose troubles began when he was arrested on a minor drug charge in Colorado. After his arrest, he went into heroin withdrawal and began babbling a wild tale about being a Russian colonel and escaping from a Russian submarine. The police stupidly believed him, of course, even though he spoke no Russian and had a Southern accent. Thus, he was identified as Russian. A Colorado court did clear up the matter eventually, but somehow the initial misidentification followed him to prison, where he was turned over to immigration authorities. They, in turn, placed him in a detention facility, stupidly ignoring his protests that he was a US citizen. Had they not ignored him, had they obtained his birth certificate to verify his citizenship—a process that would have taken all of five minutes—the entire matter would have been cleared up. Fortunately, by some quirk of fate, someone who was not stupid heard about the situation and brought it to the attention of a US senator, who intervened and had the man released before he could be sent to Russia.

Headline: Two British girls sent to an orphanage and strip searched after mothers becomes ill during a holiday in US

A great many Europeans are visiting the US these days to take advantage of the current exchange rate and have what they think will be a good time. That is what Yvonne Bray, of the UK, thought would happen when she got the idea to take her teenage daughters on a dream trip to New York City. Oh, how very wrong she was.

Shortly after she and her daughters arrived, Ms. Bray became ill with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. There was no one to look after the girls, therefore New York’s Administration for Children Services (ACS) \stepped in to take care of them by placing them an orphanage where they were strip-searched, examined for signs of rape, made to shower in front of strangers, made to wear some kind of uniform, denied any contact with their mother or any news of her condition—in short, to quote their mother,”subjected to the kind of treatment you wouldn't even expect criminals to go through.”

She is wrong, of course. She came here thinking this is the old America, but it is not. This is the new America, Police State America, where the simplest thing, the most innocent thing, can land you in a Kafkaesque nightmare, where you will be subjected to every degrading and horrible thing a police state bureaucracy in all its stupidity and cruelty can devise.

America, the Cruel. America, the Stupid. God help us all …