Friday, April 22, 2016

A Prince Lived

Prince definitely wasn't a member of the gun culture. He was a progressive whenever anything remotely political came up. So most readers here may not have liked him that much.

I was a musician. I played a lot of Prince's stuff over the years, from his more popular tunes like Purple Rain or When Doves Cry to more obscure pieces, such as Starfish and Coffee to Sometimes It Snows In April (generally regarded by many as the saddest song in the world). In my professional opinion he was one of the most talented songwriters to date. Genius in fact would not be an exaggeration of his ability. Not all of his songs were likeable; some were better than others, but his ability to craft sounds into emotions was incredible.

I usually try to keep the writing here PG-13'ish, but there's simply no way to talk about Prince without some cussing, so you've been warned.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Remembering Things Right

Freddie Gray died a year ago today. All last night on the radio I kept hearing an interview which made me think the interviewee just didn't know the meaning of the word he was using, or was deliberately misusing it. Just to double check I did some searching and found the same word being used to describe the same event in multiple sources, sometimes by the reporters themselves.

That word is uprising.

For example, from this article (which isn't a bad summation of what's occurred in Baltimore since last year):

"Alston, of Kids Safe Zone, said the unrest galvanized organizations to do more for their communities instead of waiting for the city to help. 'What the uprising did? I wouldn't be in a position to offer the services that I do had that not happened,' she said." (emphasis mine)

There are several other places, in both professional and social media where I see that word used to describe the reaction by some in Baltimore to Gray's death.

From Merriam-Webster:  
Uprising: an act or instance of rising up; especially :  a usually localized act of popular violence in defiance usually of an established government

Again, from Merriam-Webster
Riot:  2 a :  public violence, tumult, or disorder b :  a violent public disorder; specifically :  a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent

The Seventeen was an uprising. The Forty-Five was an uprising.
What started on this day in 1943 in the Warsaw Ghetto was an uprising.
What happened in Baltimore after Freddie Gray's death was a riot.

When the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto started killing the Nazi's that were seeking to murder them, that seems to me to fall under the category of uprising. 

When a mob burns down a CVS store I'm just straining to see a connection with government, unless they're really ticked about the FDA (and we all should be) and think that CVS is in cahoots with them. 

Here's the Wikipedia page on the 2015 Baltimore protests (their title) which will give you an overview of what all happened and when.

Now let me remind y'all of something which I think gets overlooked too often: Gray was arrested ostensibly because he carried a switchblade (though it's been said that Gray's knife was not actually a switchblade, but an assisted opening knife.) Here's a CNN piece discussing whether the knife was legal or not. The difference is semantic because the city of Baltimore declares it a crime to possess either. But even trying to figure out what type of knife (that to my knowledge no one has seen since the Baltimore PD took custody of it) is unnecessary.

Let me quote y'all a lil' sum'fin sum'fin with which you should all be familiar by now:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  (emphasis mine)

That good ol' 2nd Amendment. It doesn't say "guns". It doesn't say "hand cannons". It doesn't say "hoglegs" It doesn't even say "firearms". It just says "arms". I would argue, and in fact I am arguing, that "arms" would include knives of all sorts and sizes, including that Ken Onion that some of y'all reading this may have in your pocket right now. That little palm sized tool you might own and possess is the reason a man was arrested and as a consequence killed by the police in his own city. Not for threatening them with it, just for having it.

Freddie Gray was chased down because he ran when some cops saw him. After they detained him they saw a clip outside his pocket, searched him and charged him with illegal possession of a knife. If we assume that it's hunky dory for the cops to run a person down with no other suspicion than "he must've done something cause he ran from us" we still have the very damn sticky wicket of him being arrested for enjoying a constitutionally enumerated Right. 

His treatment and ultimately his death were tragic and criminal on the part of the Baltimore PD. If there would have been an uprising last year because of that - a man dying from at best criminally negligent treatment after being arrested for exercising a basic, fundamental Right - then I would have been proud of them. That's not what happened. 

What happened is that some of the people in Baltimore took the Underwear Gnome approach to redress their grievances:

1: Loot, damage and burn privately owned businesses
2: ?
3: Governmental reform

That's so not uprising. 

It's important to remember Gray's death and the circumstances leading up to it. It's important to remember the evil that was done to him and to reflect on why it was done to him. But the riots that took place allegedly in his name shouldn't be recalled with any sort of reverence or sentiment, and upgrading them to the status of uprising diminishes not only the victims of those riots, but the participants in actual uprisings, such as those folks in Warsaw 73 years ago today.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Putting The J In SW

If you haven't seen The Force Awakens yet there will be spoilers in this post.

I mentioned previously that I was concerned about how Disney would handle Star Wars. I finally watched it last week and I'm not thrilled with it at all. I'll explore why below the fold, and part of it does have to do with the culture war. It'll be lengthy and there will be hard core geekery involved, so you've been warned. With any luck I'll get back to my irregularly scheduled posting on more familiar topics, but for now here are my thoughts on this new Star Wars: