@shaddack has already responded to this very succinctly.
I want to pare it down further and remove even the verdict from the issue to make this statement: the fact a given person got a trial (or took a plea bargain) carries with it the implicit fact they survived the arrest.
Also, your presumption that I have faith in the criminal justice system is simply incorrect.
Have you watched the video I linked above? It’s 5 minutes and 12 seconds. Do you think you might find time in the next few days?
But isn’t adoration (and most human affection) highly subjective? And couldn’t he have used it more when he was alive?
I find it hard to belive that the worth of a person can be judged when he is dead. So I don’t think that people building a memorial is an honor to Mike Brown, The memorial says more of the living than of the dead.
If Mike Brown was worth the “adoration” you claim he is getting, he probably wouldn’t be dead. The worth of a person is seen when he is alive. When a good or a bad person dies, they still get pretty words spoken as their eulogy. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Some people will quietly speak amongst themselves and remind themselves that the dead may not have been so deserving, but they would still be shocked if someone would dare to speak ill at the moment of mourning.
Don’t confuse what people make of dead Mike Brown with what they would do to Mike Brown if he were alive. Probably spit in his face if he tried to bum a quarter for a cigarrette (Or shoot him because he’s fat (Sorry I meant “big”) and black).
Unless the dead person is a young black man killed by the police, in which case no one is shocked when people speak ill of them.
That’s just one amazing facet of this whole thing. Here you are, explaining to someone our cultural norm of not saying nasty things about people who are currently being memorialized. As if they don’t know. As if we don’t all know. But somehow it needs to be explicitly stated when it’s a young black man because it’s like half of our culture forgets.
If I went into a thread about Robin Williams’ suicide and posted, “Enh, he was just a junkie, who cares?” I’d be rightly and roundly criticized for being an insensitive moron. But when it’s another young black man who is dead the “no angel” comments come a-flyin’.
It’s almost like people don’t think young black men are people to begin with.
The irony when the police make the case that they are the victims, targeted by a violent, armed, and unfriendly public bent on escalating them and murdering them for no cause also seems to escape them.
It pains me to say it; but if you derive their job descriptions empirically, rather than ideally, there is a strong argument to be made that the PR guy got fired because he screwed up a great deal harder.
Being a PR flack is about public relations(when times are good, something closer to marketing, when times are…less good…something closer to emitting a smoothing coating of bullshit over anything potentially awkward). Calling an informal memorial a ‘pile of trash’ is exactly the opposite of good PR flackery: it serves no institutional objective, it is pointlessly inflammatory, there is really no upside, all downside. Even if it is accurate(most handmade memorial piles do tend to look pretty bedraggled after a week or two, especially if it rains), PR flacks don’t get any points for telling the truth, much less doing so in a way that doesn’t serve the organization’s narrative.
Being a cop, by contrast, (aside from likely having a much better union than the PR guy), is at least sometimes about applying the violence that the constituents who matter want against the ones who don’t. Getting caught doing it especially egregiously is bad, civil settlements are bad; but it is not, in itself, particularly contrary to the job.
In an ideal world, obviously, the cops would be in much, much, more trouble(or, even if exonerated, facing something resembling an actual trial, rather than a shameless whitewash); but it’s hard to argue that the PR flack would be keeping his job under any circumstances. I can think of a few things he could have said that would have been even more pointlessly inflammatory; but He. Really. Screwed. Up. and did about as bad a job as one can reasonably imagine a PR flack doing. The fact that the cops are getting away with murder is a problem; but the fact that this guy is getting fired hard is totally in line with the expectations of the job.
I’d be curious to know(but would need a much, much, larger sample to work with; does the venerable “Clippings service” still exist?) how much of it is pure racism (ie. 'black guy = thug, comment on this basis) and how much of it is the venerable 'Just World hypothesis, and associated need to rationalize, operating in an environment where(since it would be Unjust, and therefore unthinkable, that cops just kill people in the street because they can) the victim must be smeared and racism is the approved mode for the black ones, something about ‘failure to obey lawful orders/erratic behavior/came at me with a knife’ is the one for mentally ill homeless guys, and so on.
I ask not because I doubt the role of racism(some notably racist constructions are certainly what you use if you wish to smear a black guy in order to minimize the injustice of his death); but because there seems to be a different purpose behind smearing a person shot by police vs. smearing a dead celebrity. I do suspect that, say, calling Michael Jackson ‘just a junkie’ when his death was news would have played a bit better than doing the same for Williams; but in both cases there is no real public interest in smearing the subject; because the narrative is ‘tragic loss of celebrity!’, which doesn’t require(and, indeed, works less well with, a villain. The demand is usually to smooth over any minor little flaws that get in the way of hagiography). In the case of a police shooting, on the other hand, either the victim needs to be made as unsympathetic as possible(whether through overtly racist application of whatever picture you can find that a Fox anchor would think is the victim throwing a gang sign, a dredging up of every bit of criminal record, neighborhood hearsay, and similar, or dramatic accounts of the apparent dangerousness in the period before their death.)
I agree to a point. Like you say, the reason they are being smeared is to protect the police and racism is the mode of the smearing. Of course racism also had a big hand in the fact that the death happened at all.
I guess it’s tough for me to say. The examples that jump to mind of non-black men being killed by police and then getting a bunch of news coverage are both Canadian, and the whole dynamic is different here (I’m thinking of Robert Dziekanski and Sammy Yatim). Also, both cases had damning video evidence (not that Eric Garner didn’t).
The thing is that at some point the cop has to get thrown under the bus. If a cop pulled out his gun in broad daylight and shot a pretty blond eight-year-old girl in the head in front of a hundred witnesses, that cop would be going down. The authority will still be defended, but the defense becomes, “Well, that guy was just one bad apple.” (and probably he will be portrayed as mentally ill). So I would say another way that racism functions is by moving that line.
Maybe if Eric Garner was white then that video would have been sufficient to lay charges against that officer - to move that officer out of “Doing his job” and into “One crazy guy who doesn’t reflect the force at large”. Maybe not, I don’t know enough about how things are there. But every available mode of smearing the victim makes everyone who fits that mode more vulnerable to violence because it is one more way that the cops can keep themselves in the “doing their job” category. Also, I think every time a victim is smeared because they are black, that makes it easier to do the same thing again, and it has a toxic effect on the culture in general.
But all of that is talking about how the system functions, not how people actually think. There are bound to be a few Machiavellian psychopaths out there who are genuinely not racist but are perfectly willing to use racism to serve their ends, but literally that’s probably like just a couple of people.Using racism to smear works because people are racist, and as long as police continue to operate in racist ways, it will continue to suit them that racism persists. That’s a shitty self-reinforcing cycle.