Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 44

It’s a Wednesday, and I’m angry.  You know what that means.


Sorry about the lack of posting lately; I really should have seen it coming.  Over the past few months I’d slipped into a habit of ranting about particulars rather than developing theory to go along with them.  That constant stream of things that pissed me off, combined with an unpleasant amount of political upgefuckery in another favourite topic* and a generous helping of more personal drama**, just wore me down.  It’s not like there’s been nothing to rant about.


However, there’s been nothing like this to rant about.  Our lead story combines broad policy fallout (my “favourite” kind, too — the horrifying consequences of the best of intentions) with an intensely personal story.  It makes me so angry I can’t see straight.

(Hat tip: Hecate’s Crossroad)

Here’s how it goes: you start out with well-intentioned grass-eaters who, horrified by films like Tombstone and Falling Down, insist that the ownership, carry, and use of self-defence tools should be confined to agents of the state.  (These folks keep neglecting to tell the criminals that they should refrain from going armed — at least, I presume that’s why this shit only manages to disarm the good guys.)  In parallel, other well-intentioned grass-eaters look at incidents like the 1970 Newhall shooting and the 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery***, and they conclude that law enforcement is a horrifically deadly job and insist that cops and peace officers alike approach violent situations only with the utmost circumspection.

Then shit like this happens.

Two Marin County sheriff’s deputies watched from 50 feet away while a man killed two people with a shotgun on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge last week.

I guess one of the victims should’ve called 911.  That’s the magic spell that makes violence go away, isn’t it?

I mean, it’s vanishingly unlikely that any law-enforcement agent will be in a position to protect you from immediate violence.  This is a one-in-a-million shot: there were two of them.  Both armed and presumably well-trained, operating well outside the murderer’s field of awareness.

And they took action!  Bold, swift, decisive action!

One of the deputies alerted her dispatch center in Marin County during the shooting, and the other used her car to block traffic so other drivers would not blunder into the gunman’s sights, Richmond police said. They then checked on workers in the toll booths and the adjoining Caltrans building. A third deputy, who arrived after the shooting, assisted them and found Everette’s body, Doyle said.

Meanwhile the suspect, later identified as 46-year-old Nathan Burris, drove away.


But wait a minute; let’s not forget that the real villain here is our boy Nathan Burris, who in addition to being a murderous subhuman shit is also a coward:

“I’m guilty. I did it,” Burris told a Contra Costa Superior Court judge during his arraignment last week. “All I need is the penalty phase. Kill me.”

It’s odd to think of the death penalty as a “get out of your guilty conscience free” card, but I think I’ll side with Amnesty International on this one and plead for the man’s life.


Next on the docket is this mighty fine example of police work:

(Just as an aside: can we please stop verbing proper nouns, bro?)

The cop says he tased and arrested her because when she got out of her car, she was blocking traffic and creating a dangerous situation. But when she gets back into the car, he then pulls her back out and throws her down in the middle of the street.

That’s how Tasers work, isn’t it?  They’re magic wands that make your problems go away.  Angry (see below) motorist blocking traffic?  Hit her with some electrically-generated muscle lockup.  It looks like she’s twitching on the centre line, but in actual fact the magical Taser teleported her into fairy-land!

(Note also from the video that our brave agent of justice Sean Andrews spent far more time blocking traffic than did his victim.)

Now, why might this woman have been angry?  Surely it’s unforgivable for her to argue a just and well-deserved traffic ticket for driving whilst chatting on a cellular telephone.  She might’ve killed someone!****

Note too that the though the cop pulled her over for using a cell phone, she was able to prove she didn’t have one. So he wrote her a ticket for going 5 MPH over the speed limit—a figure he calculated without use of radar.

Now what is it that the victim-disarmament proponents tell us to do when confronted with an aggressively violent threat?  “Just do as he says, don’t provoke him.”  I’ve heard a lot of that from police department PR flacks; I wonder why.

Remember, Canadians: Sean Andrews is a pinnacle of well-trained professionalism.  That’s why he gets to carry a gun, a Taser, a baton, and pepper spray — and you don’t, you hair-trigger goof-offs.


Now that I’ve ranted about cops, I feel obliged to present a much more intelligent, pragmatic, and grounded opinion on violence and the tools thereof.  See, this one’s written by an honest-to-balls peace officer, and one of the finest human beings on the internet:

Why the sudden shift in tone?  Well, y’see, I don’t want to poison any minds.  Bloggers can do that, you know: we poison minds.  It’s the same kind of magic that Tasers use.

A Canadian model has won a landmark case against Google Inc. that could strip away some of the anonymity provided by the Web, making people who post offensive blogs, videos or tweets more responsible for their defamatory statements.

Liskula Cohen, who once graced the covers of such high-fashion magazines as Vogue and Flare, won a court order in New York that has forced Google to unmask the identity of a blogger who posted photos and derogatory comments about her.

Now, should I use the bedwetting furry image to mock this shining little wit?


Or perhaps the infinite stick-figures to express sarcastic incredulity at the notion that people are writing nasty things on the series of tubes?

omg_onozWhat the hell; I’ll use both.  She’s worth it!


Still on the Globe and Mail’s web feed, we discover that the Canadian government is feeling rather smug about turning away immigrants:

This isn’t precisely the MS St. Louis, here, but it’s still rather offensive: small-minded nationalistic protectionism turning away people who want to be Canadians at the behest of those who were lucky enough to be born here.


Let’s end on a high note.  First (for the commenters interested in my position on government entering private markets) a story of regulatory capture:

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission last week provisionally approved Bell’s request to require independent companies such as TekSavvy and Acanac, which rent parts of its network to supply their own services, to charge customers by how much they download.

Independent providers typically offer customers hundreds of gigabytes of usage where Bell’s most popular service allows only 50 gigabytes a month.

Smaller providers now say they have two months to migrate their customers onto similar usage models. Once those plans are implemented, they say their services will be indistinguishable from Bell’s.

You might have two complaints.  First, this isn’t a high note! Second, where the fuck did that come from?

I can answer both with a single link title:

What’s this, now?  A petition to dissolve the CRTC?


As any Canadian with a cellphone can tell you, the CRTC is an enormous (and enormously unproductive) regulatory burden that garners most of its praise when it does nothing at all.  I have no hope that this will work — “shut up, vox populi” being the usual attitude of government towards the desire for its reduction — but signing that petition sure made me feel better.  I encourage my Canadian readers to do so as well.


* That is, motorsports.  I’m referring to the FIA sagas in Formula One and the tenuous nature of the ALMS

** Including at least two separate episodes, each entirely out of my control, which brought into question the availability of my rent for October

*** This is the Principle of Charity at work; I suspect that these folks are instead influenced by movies like Reservoir Dogs and Hard Boiled, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have some glancing interaction with reality

**** Of course, if she had killed someone, occifer Andrews probably would’ve blocked traffic to make sure no-one else was injured, as the first story makes clear that it’s a perfectly reasonable option.  Zing!

9 Responses to “Mid-week misanthropy, vol. 44”

  1. 1 aczarnowski
    August 20, 2009 at 07:17

    Nice to see you back!

  2. 2 aczarnowski
    August 20, 2009 at 07:28

    And now that well wishes are sent, WTF is wrong with people? I continue to come back to a quote from MiB:

    “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it.” –Agent K

    Apparently SF cops on a bridge, and a single cop with a taser, constitutes people instead of persons. Why does this kind of thing continue to amaze me?

  3. 3 Lucinda
    August 22, 2009 at 08:41

    I just found your blog through Better and Better–very interesting. I have some thoughts about the Marin deputies and their apparent lack of initiative. I live in the area. The Richmond-San Rafael bridge connects two of the most anti-law enforcement pieces of geography in the world. Richmond is a ghetto sinkhole; San Rafael is in Marin County, one of the wealthiest locations in the country. These two disparate communities are united by their almost universal hatred (Richmond because they are so used to being arrested) and contempt (Marin because they look down on any blue collar people, especially those who might [gasp!] be conservative policemen). In that environment, law enforcement personnel quickly learn that if they are proactive, they will be Monday morning quarterbacked, sued, and probably fired or jailed if they get into it with a member of the public. The brass will never back them up. Recently a transit policeman accidentally used his gun when he meant to use his taser. A dumb accident, but an accident. Should he be punished? Yes. However, the DA is going for MURDER charges although he obviously did not mean to kill the guy and there have been no less than FOUR street demonstrations against him, closing down the city of Oakland.

    • August 22, 2009 at 09:15

      Interesting comments on the local attitudes. From the article’s fawning tone and the responses of some of the commenters, I would have guessed the opposite. Maybe that’s an attempt to balance out the local cop-hate that comes across as obsequious to the rest of the continent.

      I remember reading about the Oakland transit-police shooting, but didn’t make the connection to this one. Thanks for pointing that out.

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