Thomas Galvin
Purveyor of Fine Pulp Fiction

Triquetra
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One of the justifications for the tanks, armored personnel carriers, riot gear, and assault weapons currently employed by our police departments is the fact that being a police officer is so dangerous. Every time you pin on the badge, they say, you’re risking your life.

That is, to an extent, true. Let’s set aside the fact that this could largely be eliminated by ending the drug war, and focus on just how dangerous being an officer of the law is.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15 out of every 100,000 police officers die on the job every year. That’s 0.015%, annually, or about equal to the number of maintenance and repair workers who die on the job every year.

Yes, the maytag man also takes his life into his own hands every time he slips into his coveralls.

It’s even worse for garbage men, who die at more than twice the rate of police officers, with 32.3 out of every 100,000 dying on the job each year.

Fishing, apparently, is an unrelenting horror of death and tuna. 120.8 fishers out of every 100,000 die on th ejob each year. Deadliest catch, indeed.

But the “winner,” if you can call it that, is the logging industry. Almost 130 out of every 100,000 loggers die on the job annually. I think it’s high time we arm our brave loggers and lumberjacks, time we gave them the tools they need to protect themselves from the scourge of old growth forests.

I don’t know what happened the night Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown.

Some witnesses say Brown was executed while trying to surrender. Others claim he was shot while trying to grab Wilson’s firearm. I don’t know which version, if either, is true. A family friend has claimed that Wilson suffered a fractured orbital bone while struggling with Brown. I don’t know if that’s true, either.

I do know that Michael Brown was eighteen. I know that he was unarmed. I know that he was black.

And I know that I’m glad that I’m white.

That isn’t a racist statement. I’m glad that I’m white because it means this will almost certainly never be my story. I’m not going to be shot by a police officer. I’m not going to be shot by a drug dealer. I’m not going to go to prison.

But the story is different if you’re black. If you’re a black male, there’s a one in three chance that you’ll be incarcerated at some point in your life. Black people also recieve harsher punishments for the same crimes. You can read more about that here. If a white person shoots a black man, it is more likely to be ruled justifiable homicide than any other kind of shooting.

I also know that the police frighten me.

That, I believe, is intentional. You don’t walk around like this:

Because you want to appear friendly. You don’t drive around like this:

Because you want to inspire confidence. You do it to intimidate. You do it to dominate. You do it to instill fear.

You don’t do it to serve and protect.

American police departments are being given surplus military equipment; during the Obama administration alone, tens of thousands of guns. They’ve also received armored personnel carriers, aircraft, and grenade launchers.

Ostensibly, these weapons of war were meant to fight drug cartels. Now, they are intended to fight terrorists. But in reality, they’re toys.

Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer had this to say about our beloved nation: “The United States of America has become a war zone.” Speaking of his military surplus, mine-proof war wagon, he said, “It’s a lot more intimidating than a Dodge.”

Michael Gayer lives in a different country that you and I do. He lives in an America that is beset with violence, on the bleeding edge of chaos. He lives in an America where the only thing between good, decent people and violent anarchy is a thin blue line of police officers … in tanks.

Michael Gayer’s America does not exist. Violent crime in America had been trending downward for years. Legalization of marijuana has actually decreased crime wherever it has been tried.

America is not a war zone, but Michael Gayer is working to make it one. In his mind, he’s fighting a war, and there is only one available enemy: us.

In conservative areas, it’s all the rage to build a monument to the Ten Commandments on government property. This doesn’t violate the separation of church and state, they lie, because it’s funded with private donations, and any other religion would toooootally be welcome to set up their own monument.

Ahem.

And anyway, America is a Christian nation! The Ten Commandments are the foundation of our democracy!

Or are they? Let’s take a look and see just how well the Commandments underly our American legal system.

1: I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have no other gods before me

Well, we’re already off to a bad start. The First Amendment explicitly prohibits this from being codified into American law. Not only is this not a foundational idea of our nation, it’s expressly illegal.

2: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image


A graven image of President Lincoln

A graven image of some old, dead white guys

A graven image of the anthropomorphic realization of lLiberty

Uh huh.

3: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain

The First Amendment also prohibits this from becoming law. You can say “God,” “YHWH,” “Jehova,” “Allah,” or “Xenu” all you want.

4: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy

We actually used to have Blue Laws, which first prohibited all work, and later the sale of alcohol, on Sunday (which is not the Sabbath, by the way; that’s Saturday), but these have fallen out of favor as of late.

5: Honour thy father and thy mother

A nice sentiment, but still not codified into law.

6: Thou shalt not kill

We finally have a winner! We had to go more than halfway through the Ten Commandments before we found one that actually applies to modern-day America, but Thou Shalt Not Kill is a pretty reasonable rule. Of course, this isn’t unique to Judeo-Christian law, but yes, this one counts.

7: Thou shalt not commit adultery

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), and a bevy of other moral crusaders, who just happen to be serial adulterers, are living proof that this commandment had no place in American government.

8: Thou shalt not steal

Another winner! So far, we are two for ten.

9: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour

And the hits just keep on coming! Perjury is expressly prohibited by law. Three for ten.

10: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s

This is so laughable it almost hurts. Coveting thy neighbor’s stuff is what capitalism is built on. If we followed this commandment, the US economy would collapse.

So there you have it, folks! Proof positive that the Ten Three Commandments are the cornerstone of American law! All hail Baphomet!

As I’m writing this, missiles are falling from the sky onto a place called Gaza, and about one thousand people have been killed.

Sadly, it almost seems like it’s not worth talking about. What, another armed conflict? What, more innocent civilians dying? Must be Friday.

But I don’t want to just look the other way on this, because what’s happening is terrible, and at least some of it is our fault.

Palestine is controlled by Hamas, a radical Muslim group. These people are evil, and they have murdered innocent people.

Here’s the problem. Israel? They’re kind of evil, too, and they have also murdered innocent people. It’s just that when they do it, it’s called “civilian casualties,” instead of “victims of terrorism.”

Israel has a right to defend itself, just like any other country. But I have a hard time believing that that’s what’s happening right now. The thing that started this whole conflict, the kidnapping and murder of three Isralie teenagers by Hamas? Well, it wasn’t really Hamas. This “war” is being fought on false pretenses.

Also, it isn’t really a war. This is a completely one-sided conflict. Israel destroys whatever they want, and the people of Palestine are almost completely unable to retaliate. As I’m writing this, more than one thousand Palestinians have died, and about fifty Israeli Defence Force soldiers have died. That’s twenty-to-one.

Most of the Palestinians who have died are civilians, too. Twenty-three civilians were killed by a stray shell. Israel bombed a UN-run school, killing at least fifteen. Some people are calling Isarel’s actions war crimes. Experts wonder is this is a matter of poor training, or if Israel just doesn’t care.

Hamas is evil, but the kids in that school? I doubt they were a threat. Their loved ones, though, are probably thinking about taking up arms. I mean, after your whole family is killed, what do you have left to lose? This is how terrorists are minted.

And on top of all this, America supports Israel’s actions, pretty much unquestioningly. Part of it is because of The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, who spend about $70 million every year lobbying for pro-Israeli policies.

But a lot of it is also due to this country’s weird religious fetish. In America, we have a small, but very vocal, minority of apocalyptic Christians, people who take the Bible literally, and believe that we are a few years away from living through the Revelation. In order for their Messiah to return, they believe, Israel must exist. Because of this, and because they believe the Jews to be “God’s chosen,” they will support Israel with a terrible fury. This sect of Christianity has a powerful degree of control over the Republican party, and over US politics in general.

And that disgusts me. The fact that we give bombs to people because some barely literate Bible thumpers think it will speed up the end of the goddamn world is the stuff of nightmares. For me, figuratively. But for the people terrified that they will die tonight, quite literally.