Tuesday, November 22

Right On Cue

DOWN goes the UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza; and OUT comes Linda Katehi to "accept full responsibility".

So, in case you're keeping score, the pace of fact-finding has apparently accelerated dramatically between Friday and Monday--must be technology--and "accepting full responsibility" remains the method of choice for public officials to suffer no consequences of note, unless cellphone pictures of their underwear were involved.

Why, and for how much longer, is the BP response to the greatest ecological disaster the Gulf has ever seen the template for this sort of thing? (Okay, sure, it was the Nixon White House's response to Watergate, the Johnson administration's response to Vietnam, and the Army's response to pretty much everything. All the more reason for it to stop; all the more reason for it to be recognized immediately someone tries it; all the more reason for someone who does try it to cut his own throat that same afternoon.) Spicuzza is the public source of the risible bedtime story that officers were surrounded and looking for a way out; she had no reason to lie about the circumstances before they were known, which is to say, she had one reason, and she got caught.

Similarly, Katehi had one reason to order police to confront demonstrators, and it was outside the bounds of decent human behavior. And the most she'll ever suffer for it is having to personally label boxes of her possessions as the U C system picks up her moving fees to whatever sinecure she inhabits next. Meanwhile, the rest of us were intended to witness Episode Twelve in "Those Occupiers are so lawless it takes police in full riot gear to keep them contained."

Because this happened at Davis--and at Berkley--these should be the pinholes that eventually bust the dam. This is not the sort of policing the majority of Americans believe they purchase (though it ought to be acknowledged that the majority of Americans are not black, or poor). Maybe Katehi was unaware of the police violence that took place in Oakland, and New York. If so then she's incompetent. It's far more likely that this is just another instance of Excessive Force is Okay on the Young and Left (however vaguely) Because Someone at a G-20 Protest Overturned a Kiosk. Katehi may be small potatoes, but she was no less trying to stifle dissent at the end of a baton than was Bloomberg or the Oakland PD. If she does so with impunity in a college setting there's little hope of bringing bigger criminals to justice, or of bringing law enforcement in line with public service, not service to the powerful.

Let's remember that last Friday at Davis ten people were arrested, and none of them had committed an act of violence on fellow human beings, or failed to stop one despite having the power and the sworn responsibility to do so. I'm not Mr. Fuck da Police, nor was I Mr. Off the Pigs forty years ago. But there's an undeniable, and extra-legal, current of social control in law enforcement, and it's one which we've exacerbated in recent decades by allowing the authoritarian right to make its arguments while fearing only a faux-balanced response. And we've added to that with the saccharin portrayal of everyone who picks up an assault weapon in our names
(supposedly) as a Hero, and a Good Guy, and a Cosmic Avenger. It's not the case. It clearly isn't the case. It's nothing more than the Nixonian right's attempt to get out from under the state-sponsored violence of the Civil Rights era, and the ugly, deceitful military violence around the globe that came to a head with Vietnam, in order to keep itself in the good graces of the "Silent Majority". Of course, the Right suddenly went all civil libertarian after the Murrah Building was blown apart, but that's another story.

It's the sort of problem we can solve--meaning minimize--by being reasonable adults and acting as though we realize what history is. Or it's the sort of problem we can solve with advanced crowd dispersal techniques. I have my own ideas about which one has been the Real America for most of our history. But which is the one going forward?


Anonymous said...

'"accepting full responsibility" remains the method of choice for public officials to suffer no consequences of note' ... it's not just public officials, it also works for corporate leaders. We didn't see any BP executives scrubbing seagulls clean!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Doghouse, Mandos has a post I highly recommend reading.

The politicizing of universities – and in particular, of students – represents participation in the political process that exceeds the bounds of logic.

- Linda Katehi (one of the co-authors)


Degghr said...

Rich Little imitating Nixon on Watergate: "I accept full responsibility but none of the blame."

James Stripes said...

Chevron accepts full responsibility for the spill that is still pouring oil into the waters off Brasil. They even apologized. The WSJ did not see fit to mention their plans for clean up.

In 1864, after the unspeakable horrors of the Sand Creek Massacre, the Reverend Colonel Chivington not only accepted full responsibility, he demanded it. He thought that he deserved a battlefield promotion for killing women and children, and leading men who mutilated their victims.

Perhaps Linda Katehi deserves praise for not asking for a raise.

Anonymous said...

Here's an FDL link that casts Ms. Katehi in an rather unflattering light..