This was a busy week for news, and there were several stories that I’d planned to touch upon this week, but after yesterday, I’ve decided to cut back a bit to just a couple of the bigger stories.
First, one story has forced me back to a recurrent theme – we are losing our sense of balance. Our citizenry is moving from one media-driven frenzy of outrage to another without waiting for the facts to come in. The known facts of what happened yesterday in Brooklyn are painfully simple. Ismaaiyl Brinsley walked up to a marked squad car yesterday afternoon & shot the two police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, seated inside. Since Mr Brinsley shot himself shortly afterwards, the real motivation may never be known, but that never seems to stop the shouting. NYC Police Commission Bratton indicated last night that the motive was unknown, and yet, there seems to be an awful lot of pundits out there blaming NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio – because of Eric Gardner, obviously. Sane, rational, people rarely commit murder, let alone multiple shootings across two states, and yet we all spend a great deal of time looking for logical reasons because murder is so horrible to contemplate. But there are no rational reasons. Yes, he apparently used his ex-girlfriend’s social network to post threatening anti-police statements – after he shot her yesterday morning. So, it would seem that something in his brain chemistry has gone very far amiss yesterday, in a violence filled day punctuated by suicide. And yet, since the news first broke yesterday, it seems that all I keep hearing is how this was all about retaliation for Gardner and Michael Brown. And I’ve heard way too much stating that you are either with the dead black criminals, or with the police. This is not only a false choice, it fosters hate and a furthering of the divisions separating us. A promotion of the ‘us against them’ thinking that is so incredibly unhealthy to what’s left of our democracy. To repeat what I’ve said before – we are being led to believe that we are far more divided than we really are, because as long as we fight amongst ourselves, we will not focus on the things that should matter to us as a nation. As far as I’ve seen, most of the prominent groups that have been protesting the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, and others, have also condemned this murder, but this does not seem to stop those that are promoting the idea that criticizing bad police behavior is tantamount to applauding criminal behavior.
That’s a very hard story for me leave for another, but this week was a very busy, very unhealthy week for news. And one very tragic event should not completely overshadow everything else.
So, onto the Sony hacking, and subsequent decision to pull “The Interview”‘s theatrical release. Now let me start by saying that “the Interview” looked to be a stupid, not particularly entertaining, movie, that I have no interest in seeing. My assumption is that it would have died of its own accord once it went into general release. Instead, it will live on forever in mythic proportions, and once Sony figures out how it will get the movie shown – and it surely will since wasting $44 million is unlikely – then it will probably have a bigger audience that it deserves. Crap is crap – and hopefully potential viewers will remember that when the film finally makes its way to the public. But extortion is extortion, and threats of violence to stop a film should not be tolerated. Did the hack originate in North Korea? The FBI has concluded that it did. Was the threat to the theaters credible? We may never know. And therein lies the heart of the matter. Sony caved, incorrectly, I think, but many others disagree. If the threats were credible – is any movie worth bloodshed? Certainly not. But if North Korea was behind the hack, that actually makes the threat less credible in my personal opinion – since any physical attack could have been interpreted, easily, as an act of war. And posturing aside, I doubt North Korea really wants a war. I’ve seen much criticism of our government’s response – or lack thereof – but I’m not entirely sure what an appropriate governmental response to a threat made to a private corporation should have been. More posturing? Calling a threat against Sony Pictures an act of war? Perhaps Japan could take on that mantle, instead. Ah, but yes, I forget, corporate profits are more important than the regular people since the contribute more (money) to our political process – so we should focus on that instead of on any of the other things are going wrong in Washington.
And on a related side-note – all politics aside, Sony has proven itself to be far too vulnerable to hackers in the last couple of years. Are they not capable of learning from their own mistakes? Perhaps we should all consider that before by a newer Playstation for Christmas.
On the good new side this week:
New York state did not grant a casino license to Orange County, who really did not need one and should not have been included for consideration in the first place. Sullivan County, who badly needs the economic boost did get one of the licenses. The glory days of the Catskills may be long over, but hopefully, this will bring some much needed income to a an economically depressed region.
The Ohio House has approved a plan to make the drawing of the voting districts less partisan. Does it go far enough, probably not, but any move away from the party controlled process that dominates districting in most states is a good move. The extent of damage done by gerrymandered districts is now evident in a US Congress that seems perpetually out of tune with its constituencies. A less partisan approach would be a welcome change.
I’m having some captioning issues, so here is the image caption for those of us that can’t see it with the post:
The Winter Solstice – one of my favorite days because it marks the end of decreasing daylight – has finally arrived. And with a small amount of optimism for more daylight (even as the dreaded Winter officially begins). Meme courtesy of the Progressive Secular Humanist Examiner’s Facebook page
“There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.”
— Charles Dickens