Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that. Even though there are many more which I can't include. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."
I want to start with this article about governmental responses to protesting. Now, I certainly do not want to dissuade anyone from protesting. I suspect that anyone who reads this blog would be only to happy to spend a day or two in a jail in connection with a protest, if it would do any good. In fact, the owner of this blog HAS done so during his lifetime, and I expect there are others. But that is different from what is happening to 214 people who took part in the insuguration day protest in Washington, DC.
More than 214, of course, were picked up in the mass arrest, which seems to have been oddly timed, by the way. But the handful who have established themselves as professional journalists, medics, and legal observers have mostly had charges against them dropped. Also, of the 214, there is "a handful" against who there is some evidence that they smashed windows or threw a rpck at a police officer, and I'm sure no one here approves of that. But the nature of the evidence of identification is a little foggy, and no one believes all 214 people smashed or threw anything at all – in fact, there must be at least 200 whose only "crime" was being there.
Nonetheless, every one of the 214 is being charged with "rioting and inciting," a charge associated with up to a $25,000.00 fine and up to ten years behind bars. A felony charge. A hefty charge for just being present.
"In my over thirty years of practicing law, I've never seen anything like this," said veteran D.C. attorney Mark Goldstone, of the charges. Goldstone, who has defended dozens of activist cases and is representing six of the J20 defendants, called the charges "unprecedented territory."
Peaceful protesting has been for quite some time a First Amendment protected activity. Washington, DC, appears to be doing its best to change that. I don't think one has to be a legal expert to foresee long-term negative consequences. Alecto, can you help out?
Now for a small diversion, a little light humor, to gove us a chance to catch our breath here.
In Missouri, restrictions on abortion providers are so strict that only one clinic in the state can perform abortions: a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. But on the State Senate floor Wednesday, two Republican lawmakers joked that women seeking abortions should go to the St. Louis Zoo because it’s “safer” and more regulated than abortion clinics.
“The St. Louis Zoo gets inspected once a year,” said State Senator Bob Onder to his colleague, State Senator Wayne Wallingford, who added, “Maybe we should send the people that want an abortion to the St. Louis Zoo, because we know it’ll be safer.”
OH. Joke. Ha. Ha.
We are not amused.
The Senator took to Twitter to "explain" his remarks. I am not on Twitter, but I almost wished I were when I came to a comment that said "Could you possibly be more offensive?" I surely wanted to say, "Don't make it sound like a challenge!"
I want to be very clear that this Senator in no way reflects on SoINeedAName. The Senator's district, Saint Charles County, is all the way across the state. Unfortunately, that also means there is not much he could possibly do about him. So, Megaera, perhaps you could put a minion out there to follow him up amd make sure he loses his next election.
Before moving on to one piece of good news, I want to mention a piece of very old news indeed. A hundred and forty-four years old. Have you ever heard of the Colfax Massacre? No? Neither have I – or I hadn't until now.
In Colfax, La., on Easter Sunday 1873, a mob of white insurgents, including ex-Confederate and Union soldiers, led an assault on the Grant Parish Courthouse, the center of civic life in the community, which was occupied and surrounded — and defended — by black citizens determined to safeguard the results of the state's most recent election. They, too, were armed, but they did not have the ammunition to outlast their foes, who, outflanking them, proceeded to mow down dozens of the courthouse's black defenders, even when they surrendered their weapons. The legal ramifications were as horrifying as the violence — and certainly more enduring; in an altogether different kind of massacre, United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the U.S. Supreme Court tossed prosecutors' charges against the killers in favor of severely limiting the federal government's role in protecting the emancipated from racial targeting, especially at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. (emphasis mine)
How in God's name, and I don't say that lightly, are we ever supposed to overcome racism if we keep denying our past, never speaking of it, except, occasionally to blame the victims by calling it the "Colfax Riot"? Tisiphone – this needs to be in history books, in schools, all over the nation. Yes, I realize that in a nation where some refer to abducted and transported slaves as "immigrants" that may take some doing. Good luck.
Now, one story with – well, I can't say a happy ending, but at least a bending in the direction of justice. Even so, it comes almost four years later than it should, and certainly too late for some.
In what may be the single largest dismissal of wrongful convictions in US history, Massachusetts prosecutors announced Tuesday they would throw out 21,587 criminal drug cases. The cases were all prosecuted based on evidence or testimony supplied by a former state chemist who admitted to faking tests and identifying evidence as illegal narcotics without even testing it. The chemist, Annie Dookhan, pleaded guilty in 2013 to tampering with evidence during her nine years working at a state crime lab in Boston. During that time, thousands of people were convicted based on her false statements.
You ladies can flip a coin (if you have a three sided one) on this if you like. But I do ask that someone follow up on this. For one thing, our nation has a long and dishonorable history of keeping exonerated people locked up because the authorities cannot be bothered with the paperwork to let them go. For another, those who are already free, having served their time, need their records cleansed. Even for a state with 6.475 million people, 21,587 cases is a lot of paperwork.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4048688