25.11.11

Woman uses pepper spray on other shoppers in L.A. - 20 injured.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/police-10-injured-at-wal-mart-as-woman-pepper-sprays-customers-seeking-black-friday-deals/2011/11/25/gIQAiqjcuN_story.html?tid=pm_pop
Police said the suspect shot the pepper spray when the coverings over the items she wanted were removed.
“Somehow she was trying to use it to gain an upper hand,” police Lt. Abel Parga told The Associated Press early Friday. He said she was apparently after some electronics and used the pepper spray to keep other shoppers at bay.
Parga said police were still looking for the woman. The store remained open and those not affected by the pepper spray continued shopping.
So, other than throwing our hands up in the air and saying "R.I.P. society," what is there to say? Here's a few hints:

The increasing saturation of very small, easily concealable and multi-purpose video cameras. The last part is key, as people don't really think about the fact that their cellphone or smartphone has video capability until all of a sudden "OMG I have to get this on film!"

Increasing reliance on non-lethal use of force by various police and military forces is caught on tape.

Our society becomes used to, and more or less apathetic to the use of non-lethal crowd control measures and irritants. That are widely available in stores and online and even commonly carried by people worried about getting raped or kidnapped or harassed.

So what's going to happen now?

Pepper spraying will become more prevalent, more people will know about it, think about it and buy the devices. More cities and states will call for its regulation. Cops will continue to use it. The public will get used to seeing cops using it - and the excuse will be, "Well, they didn't have a permit, we have to clean them out somehow, and it's better than hitting them with potentially lethal force like clubs - and using force and dragging/carrying them away is too risky."

How do we deal with this? John Q. Public is going to have to watch out, and keep some situational awareness. Crowds and unruly behaviour are the danger-signs. Cops will face increasing regulation on the use of pepper spray, and for good reason. Protesters will learn to expect it, bring masks and cover their faces.

17.11.11

Freedom of Speech. Controlling other people. Respect. Laws.

Benetton is at it again.
Worldwide clothing chain Benetton, old hands at generating cash, controversy and name-recognition with their advertising campaigns, is at it again. This time it's religious and political leaders in same-sex kisses. People are understandably upset. Religious people see this as a massive affront to their religions. People who don't really care much about politics or religion shrug and move on. It's obviously not real.


Far left we have the Pope in Rome, who feels comfortable telling people in Africa and elsewhere not to use condoms. Who presides over an organization that has a long and storied track record of launching murderous crusades to kill as many Arabs and Muslims as possible in the name of holy war. Oh, and something about sexually assaulting little boys. Here he's kissing a well-known Egyptian imam. I'd love to hear that Imam's opinion on all this. I'm guessing he'd laugh and say "oh, be nice to each other." Assuming he's the kind of smart muslim who's not really into killing people left, right and center for things like being homosexual, lesbian, Jewish, Israeli or having the temerity to say they don't want to be Muslims anymore - the latter still punishable by death in some places.


Next we have China's Hu Jintao and the current US President Barack Obama, but not many really care there, that poster would be taken down in China but no-one bats an eye anywhere else, both are stock-in-trade for political cartoonists and caricature artists the world over.


So what's the deal here?


The deal is that you can't take your notions of what someone else can and cannot do with an image, and force your ideas on the other 7 BILLION people on the planet. Or how about I eventually take a holiday to the Moon or Mars and draw a giant picture of this or that person you happen to hold sacred. What are you gonna do - start killing people? Nuts. In societies where you have a clear majority of a certain religion, say Israel, Spain, many South American countries, Indonesia (?) and the Arab Muslim Middle East and North Africa - it's perfectly reasonable to expect some laws about what you can and can't do with images of this or that. That's just cultural differences, that will eventually go away as people realize that what you do in the privacy of your own home or newsletter or newspaper is your business, as long as you're not directly advocating violence and hate crime.

Hat's off to Benetton and Charlie Hébdo previously in France (they got fire bombed, the old Muhammad cartoons again). This is just the beginning of the painful realization on the part of many backward societies still stuck in the pre-internet Dark Ages - that you simply can't control 7 billion other people. Good luck trying.

15.11.11

Samuel L. Jackson "Blame" [short video]



Man's got a point. Then again, this guy has a point, too: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/shop-owners-gun-apparently-will-land-him-back-in-prison/2011/11/14/gIQA4x0XMN_story.html

The problem can't be reduced to simple rhetoric. It needs cooperation from the kind of people who say "From my cold, dead hands" and vote for NRA-supporters - with people like police chiefs who just want as many guns off the street as possible.