If you google ‘Eric Garner’ I guarantee you that almost every article by major media outlets will list some or all of the following: Garner’s height, weight, his (alleged) past criminal history, and that the police supposedly thought he was “illegally” selling cigarettes. And all this information will be in the first few paragraphs.
Here’s what most corporate news outlets won’t make so readily available (you may have to dig for it): precisely how many officers ganged up on Garner, their complete police histories, any crimes they may have committed in their personal lives, and not even the names of all the involved officers are listed. And you may or may not have read that Garner clearly said he couldn’t breathe at least six times, and that multiple witnesses said Garner had just arrived on scene and broken up an altercation.
The media is hardly objective and they begin covering for the police and victimizing the victim very early on. These lopsided “facts” and seemingly minor omissions is only the beginning. Wait until it goes to court. Then you won’t believe how much news outlets, the police and defense attorneys will demonize Mr. Garner.
Unless you’re Black. Then this is an all too familiar pattern.
From Emmett Till to Rodney King to The Central Park Five to Oscar Grant to Amadou Diallo to Sean Bell to Trayvon Martin to Renisha McBride to Jonathan Ferrell to Jordan Davis to Eric Garner and so very many others…even though we’re always unarmed, there is never a shortage of disproportionately White juries eager to conclude that the act of merely existing while Black is always sufficient justification for inflicting brutality, imprisonment or murder onto any unfamiliar Black bodies
Seems like it’s always the same old song and dance whenever Black people seek justice from the system made to imprison us: Criminalizing Blackness — White people may commit crimes, but Black people are always viewed as criminals.
"How large is America’s prison problem? More than 2.4 million people are behind bars in the United States today, either awaiting trial or serving a sentence. That’s more than the combined population of 15 states, all but three U.S. cities, and the U.S. armed forces. They’re scattered throughout a constellation of 102 federal prisons, 1,719 state prisons, 2,259 juvenile facilities, 3,283 local jails, and many more military, immigration, territorial, and Indian Countryfacilities.”
Land of the Free, ya’ll
The federal agency that sets criminal sentencing policies for judges voted on Friday to allow tens of thousands of inmates serving time for drug crimes to apply for reduced sentences, the largest such sentencing reduction in modern U.S. history.
The unanimous vote by the seven members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission will apply to most drug offenders in federal prisons, according to the commission.
Their decision came after the commission studied the results of a similar 2007 vote that affected only those serving time for crack cocaine offenses and found that inmates released early posed no greater risk of committing another crime than those who served their full terms…
Congress has until November 1 to disapprove of the commission’s decision. If lawmakers let the new rules stand, judges across the country can begin considering individual petitions from inmates for sentence reductions, but no prisoners can be released until Nov. 1, 2015, according to a special rule added by the commissioners.
Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Employment Division v. Smith (1990). The Court ruled that the state could deny unemployment benefits to Smith, who had been fired for using peyote as part of his religion.
The ruling led to the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibited laws that posed a “substantial” burden to one’s free exercise of religion.
Let me get this straight.
The closures are not an undue burden, write the judges because “it takes less than three hours on Texas highways” to get to Corpus Christi. (The Corpus Christi clinic is expected to close in September.) “Although some clinics may be required to shut their doors, there is no showing whatsoever that any woman will lack reasonable access to a clinic within Texas,” they add, but only heed evidence from the trial in October, when the law had barely taken effect.
Taking several days off from work and driving 560 miles to the nearest abortion clinic (pdf) is not an undue burden. Filling out paperwork is.
See you godfuckers in November.
John Holbo, “Let Freedom Ring!”
Conservatives honestly seem to think the rest of us are idiots who can’t keep up with their ‘clever’ political and legal maneuvering and dog whistles.
Keep it up, assholes, and you’ll not only kiss the White House goodbye for another eight years, but you may end up losing seats in what should be an easy mid-term election for you this fall.
— Katha Pollitt, “Where Will the Slippery Slope of ‘Hobby Lobby’ End?”
United States v. Lee (1982), a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court found requiring an Amish employer to withhold and pay Social Security taxes for his workers was constitutional even though “the Amish faith prohibited participation in governmental support programs.”
Justice Samuel Alito brushed the precedent of Lee aside by dismissing it as a case that did not concern the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but only the Free Exercise clause, so therefore the Court need not consider it. The implication is that pre-RFRA precedent doesn’t matter. And that’s a frightening departure from precedent.
A cogent discussion of how the Hobby Lobby decision fits into the larger conservative effort to chip away at women’s rights and restrict women’s liberty (emphasis added):
This idea — that women can always find another way to get the coverage or care they need — underpins just about every recent restriction on women’s health. What’s another 24-hour mandatory abortion waiting period? To a woman who lives 25 miles from the nearest provider, it’s everything. What’s one more tweak to a law about the width of clinic doors? To a clinic that can’t afford to remodel, it’s everything. What’s a minor policy change that means you have to pay full price for that IUD? To a woman who makes $14 an hour, it’s everything.
A choice isn’t really a choice when you can’t find another job, or when it’s the end of the month and the checking account is empty and the morning-after pill costs $50 without insurance, or when the only approved birth control methods won’t work for you. For decades, activists have invoked a woman’s “right to choose”… In theory, women are still allowed to make these choices in America. In practice, though, to choose you must have options. Health insurance is one of the things that guarantees options and access. Freedom, as the conservatives say, isn’t free. For a choice to be a true choice and not a default, sometimes we have to subsidize it.
This is at the heart of the Hobby Lobby case: Needing a blood transfusion or a vaccine, as the Court sees it, isn’t the consequence of a “choice” you make. It is necessary medical care for you to live your life. You don’t choose to need protection from an infectious disease. You don’t choose to need a liter of new blood. You do, however, choose to have sex — if you’re a woman. And so contraception, the majority of justices say, is different. The implication is that women can freely choose to either abstain from sex or have lots of children, which most of us understand is not a choice at all.
The Supreme Court’s decision…expresses the view that women make their choice when they choose sex, and it’s up to them to figure it out after that. That there is no social or moral or governmental obligation to make it easier for them to make choices that follow from a perfectly human impulse to want sex but not babies. For women, sex is an option, an inessential luxury like LASIK eye surgery. Hey, the Court is saying, we’re not telling you not to have sex! We’re just telling you that if you do, you’ll find it difficult to maintain a career, gain financial footing, or live a healthy life. You’ll just have to work a little harder, it says. Find the loopholes. Drive a little farther. Pay a little more. You’ll find a way — you women are resourceful.
Equating contraception with abortion is a feint that the religious right is using to confuse people. What they’re really after is ALL contraception, as the Supreme Court’s clarification on the Hobby Lobby ruling today makes clear:
The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.
While today’s pair of horrible decisions might seem like distinct issues, in fact they are both part of a larger war on women and workers.
The absurdity of the Hobby Lobby decision…is obviously part of the Republican war on women, but it is also very much a war on the poor. An IUD costs about a month’s worth of wages at the minimum wage. If an executive can’t get birth control because her employer gets too hot and bothered thinking of her having sexy time, she can afford it on her own. A Hobby Lobby floor worker? Probably not. For women workers at closely held corporations, this decision will be devastating.
The Harris case is specifically about home care workers in Illinois. Who are home care workers? Women. Poor women. Lots of African-Americans, lots of Latinos, lots of undocumented workers. Home care workers are a major emphasis for SEIU right now…But moreover, it shows how little Alito and the boys care about rights for women wherever they are. It’s hardly coincidental that this case comes down the same day as the contraception mandate. The Court evidently believes that the home is not a workplace, but of course it is a workplace, especially if someone is getting paid to do work. That it is women working in the home, as it has always been, just makes it easier for conservatives to devalue that work.
— The SCOTUS War on Women and Workers, Erik Loomis