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)


  1. I think the Rodney King and Michael Brown cases are very different. Rodney King didn't punch a cop riding alone in the face multiple times and try to grab his gun. Sure, the cop could have (should have) waited for backup before pursuing his assailant (which led to the shooting when the cop allegedly defended himself against another attack), but I'm am not so sure I would have done things any differently in the heat of the moment had I been in that situation. Love your blog but I'm not with you on this one, Bill. Yeah, it's true there's a lot of hatred and injustice out there, but sometimes shit just happens. I'm not with the idea of making someone (in this case the cop) a sacrificial victim to show our societal commitment to anti-racism when the facts in the case suggest it might be a bit more complicated.

    1. You may be right, anon, but since there will never be a fair trial (which is for the victim as much as it is the shooter) most people will be convinced one way or another without the totality of the facts ever being tested in court.

  2. So, Anonymous, you were there? You duly witnessed the deceased man "punch a cop riding alone in the face multiple times and try to grab his gun"? If you didn't see it with your own eyes, hush your mouth and demand a trial of the facts. If you did see it, ask to be a witness for the defense. Either way, the now defunct US justice system is criminally negligent in not holding a trial.

    1. Exactly, Oliver. It is my contention that there should be a full trial EVERY time a police office kills an unarmed civilian, even if the person IS in the process of committing a crime. Not saying they should automatically be convicted, but there should at least be a trial.

    2. It's my understanding that's the scenario that was presented to the grand jury and they apparently found sufficient evidence existed to corroborate it. To extend your logic: Did you "duly witness" the jury proceedings? Did you hear the testimony and see whatever evidence was presented? No? Then maybe you should hush your mouth about the decision not to go to trial. To be clear, I don't like cops and, having seen it up close and personal, I know firsthand that the American legal system often has nothing to do with justice. But just because cops and the system generally suck doesn't mean the grand jury made a bad decision in this instance. I think Bill's idea that cops have a trial whenever they kill an unarmed civilian is a good one. Maybe we should extend that idea to non-cops as well, because the current system works the same way if you kill somebody and you're not wearing a badge.

  3. Can't resist. And right on Oliver.


  4. The simple solution to all the hullaballoo is to let Eric Frein take care of Darren Wilson, Timothy Loehman and Frank Garmback.

  5. Kunstler's blog is worth a look on this subject.

    1. You'll notice that JHK's blog is no longer on my links list. His recent turn towards typically bitter, old, somewhat racist white man is a big part of the reason for that. The Long Emergency awakened me to the issues of Peak Oil and resource depletion, so I do not abandon him lightly. But I'm through with him.

    2. I agree that he's taken a hard turn to the right . He lost me with his bizarre one-sided defenses of Israel's most recent series of terror attacks on the Palestinians. However. I do think his assertion that there is a lunatic left (I'm not sure "left" is the right term...it's less about the class system and more about social issues) that's as closed minded and easily manipulated as their far right counterparts is thought provoking. For example, if you bring up the subject of population growth, you'll eventually be shouted down a "racist" because in the US most growth is coming from the birth rate of non-White segments of the population together with immigration. I think his critique in this case is valid, at least in principle.