Once upon a time there was a country that was searching for a new emperor.
The media in this land used giant horns called “viators” that they would blow into to spread the news. These “blow viators” decided that since they were smarter than everyone else they would choose the new emperor.
They picked a young man famous for two things: running races and never wearing clothes. He had won several races only because his opponents had mysteriously tripped and fallen. Everyone called him Butt Naked.
The blow viators spent many months telling everyone how wonderful the young man was, and how terrible his opponents were. They ignored or disputed anything bad that was said about the young man, and made up bad stuff about everyone who opposed or disagreed with him.
Not surprisingly, the young man won. They held a very expensive victory parade so everyone could clap and cheer for the new emperor, and all the wealthy blow viators were puffing on their horns. As usual, the young man wore only his birthday suit.
Now in this land there were some dirty foul-mouthed people who lived on logs in a nearby bog. These “bog loggers” were poor and not too popular but they were outspoken and inordinately proud of their ability to tell the difference between shit and shinola.
Some of the bog loggers watched the parade, and one of them, a young boy named Creek, yelled “The emperor has no clothes!” When people tried to shush the boy he yelled even louder “THE NEW EMPEROR IS BUTT NAKED!”
Everyone stopped in shock. Then Creek’s sister pointed and asked “Is it supposed to be that small?”
The new emperor screamed “SHRINKAGE!” and ran to the castle with both hands covering his stimulus package.
The blow viators whispered among themselves and decided to pretend like nothing had happened, and they continued to tell people how great the new emperor was. The bog loggers ignored the blow viators and kept telling people that the new emperor was Butt Naked.
Eventually most of the people and even some of the blow viators realized that the bog loggers were right (although some of them claimed they had known all along that the new emperor was Butt Naked.) There was one group however (whose brains were severely damaged by the artificial flavorings and colors in a powder they mixed with sugar and water to obtain enlightenment) that forever kept insisting that Butt Naked was really a sharp dressed man.
Then it was time to choose a new emperor, and they did it all over again.
George Bush today commuted the sentences of Jose Compeán and Ignacio Ramos, two former Border Patrol agents who shot an unarmed fleeing marijuana smuggler and then tried to cover up the incident.
The two officers were arrested after the drug smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete Dávila, filed a complaint against them. After a two-week jury trial, Compeán was found guilty on 11 counts, including discharging a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, which by itself carries a federally mandated 10-year minimum sentence. Without that charge, both agents involved would have received far shorter sentences. Instead, Compeán was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and his partner, Ignacio Ramos, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Our laws don’t permit the police to shoot unarmed suspects just because they are fleeing or uncooperative. We don’t recognize the “ley de fuga” or “law of flight” in this country. Dávila was only wounded in the buttocks, but not for lack of trying by Compeán and Ramos. Had he died, they would have been murderers.
In the above video* you can see BART police officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer place an unarmed man named Oscar Grant III face down on a Oakland train platform. There are several other officers in the area as well. For unexplained reasons (he refused to make a statement) Mehserle stands up, draws his pistol and shoots Grant in the back, killing him.
Mehserle has been charged with murder, which is highly unusual in police shootings. Even when charges are filed, convictions are rare. One can’t help but wonder if the charges would have been filed had their not been numerous videos of the incident.
I have to take issue with the idea that cops and soldiers should be held to a lower standard of behavior because they are “good guys” or because they have tough jobs. If we are going to give anyone the power of life or death over others, they should be held to a very strict standard.
If they abuse the power and trust that is given to them by lying or using excessive force there should be zero tolerance. Jose Compeán and Ignacio Ramos should remain in prison to serve their full sentences, and Johannes Mehserle should be joining them there.
*Here is another video from a different angle