Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Mr. Peabody and the Case of Rodney King
Mr. Peabody: Sherman, let's set the Wayback Machine to the year 1991.
Sherman: What are we going to study today, Mr. Peabody?
Mr. Peabody: Well, Sherman, we're going to examine an instance of police officers using appalling excessive force in a case that captured the whole country's attention.
Sherman: You mean like in Ferguson, Missouri?
Mr. Peabody: Actually, Sherman, this particular case happened in Los Angeles, and instead of shooting a black man the white officers involved just kept bootstomping him long after he was helpless on the ground. Let's take a look:
(video of Rodney King being beaten to a pulp)
Sherman: Yikes! Mr. Peabody, that is horrible!
Mr. Peabody: Right you are Sherman. What made this case more shocking was that it represented the first time a blatant example of police abuse was caught by a bystander on video tape and shown on national television. Would you like to guess what happened next?
Sherman: The police officers were not convicted of any crime, just like in Ferguson?
Mr. Peabody: Good boy. That's exactly right--and then this happened:
(video of LA riots)
Sherman: Gee Whiz, Mr. Peabody, that looks like what we saw on teevee last night--only worse.
Mr. Peabody: Indeed, Sherman.
Sherman: But, but, but, is that the end of the story? Surely, SOMEBODY could have done SOMETHING.
Mr. Peabody: Well, Sherman, in those days America had an old white Republican man as president instead of a young black Democratic man. What do you suppose he did?
Sherman: Oh, ha, ha. You're funny, Mr. Peabody. He did nothing, of course.
Mr. Peabody: Ahhh...that's where you are wrong Sherman. Let's take a look, shall we:
(video of federal jury finding Rodney King beating police officers guilty)
Mr. Peabody: So you see, Sherman, the old white Republican man president launched what is called a federal civil rights investigation against those cops. And in federal court, which is not as susceptible to prejudice and corruption as state and local courts, those cops got what they deserved--years in prison.
Sherman: Wow, Mr. Peabody, that's great! So, do you suppose that our young black Democratic man president is going to do the same thing in Ferguson?
Mr. Peabody: (Sighs) Not bloody likely, Sherman.
Sherman: But why?
Mr. Peabody: Because sadly, Sherman, America is irreparably broken.
Bonus: Bill does Rodney King (except in retrospect he got Bush's response wrong)