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03/09/2015

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Raul Duke

Madison's Young Gifted & Black is on Facebook at "Ferguson to Madison" ....the link posted in paragraph four is not the Madison group.

DSW

Thank you, got that fixed.

Puddnhead2

How can you call Matt Kenny a "immoral murderer" (paragraph 2) then insist your are not "demonizing him" (point 3)? Furthermore, "murder" by every definition of the word, implies intent. By using this word you are saying, unambiguously, that Kenny *wanted* Robinson to die. You're making this most extreme interpretation of what happened, without any basis for it whatsoever than 1) Kenny is white and 2) he wears a badge.

No, calling Officer Kenny something other than a murderer does *not* deny Tony Robinson's humanity. When a car crash happens because of inattentive driving happens, for example, charging "negligent homicide by use of motor vehicle" neither implies murder nor denies the humanity of the victims. Or an example more to the point, I strongly feel that the shooting death of Paul Heenan by Madison police, only blocks and 28 months apart from where Tony Robinson was killed by them, was even less ambiguously a tragedy than Robinson's death. But I don't think of Officer Heimiss as a murderer (an immoral person who actively, consciously wanted Heenan to die). I think of him as a crappy cop who should not be carrying both a gun and badge. because he was incompetent at using them effectively (thankfully, he no longer is). *None* of this is based on the fact that Heenan's (or Heimmis') skin was white.

By the way, please don't tell me I'm being picky about your word choice and interpreting your meaning based on them. At least not while still describing yourself as a "writer" on your "About" page, and after an entire paragraph declaring how important it is that this specific word be used to describe the event.

Your point 5 is well taken, I agree with it. But may I suggest that refusal to discuss -- or even acknowledge -- that what put Kenny and Robinson in that doorway a week ago could be anything other than some murderous racist impulse on Kenny's part -- to not even mention that one of the two calls made to police about Robinson was from inside that apartment, asking for help because Robinson was trying to strangle someone -- is, in the big picture, going to be at least as big an enemy of achieving any progress from this situation, as all the things you complain about. Reason #1: There are many people who see the racism and inequality you describe and want to help to end it, but as long as they perceive the agenda of people like you and others to draw this un-nuanced conclusion -- that Kenny not only bears 100% responsibility for this tragedy, but in addition he actually wanted this to happen -- you are pushing them away. Reason #2: By putting all the blame on the actions of Kenny in that moment, you are putting off the table all discussion about all the racism that Robinson undoubtedly was subjected to in the preceding 19 years, that helped put him in that place (physical and mental) at that moment,. A place where Tony apparently saw the only response to Kenny entering the apartment after that call from someone inside was to hit him.

To believe Robinson's tragic end was in part a consequence of racism does *not* require that Matt Kenny bears 100% responsibility for it, and to deny this frankly closes off opportunity to look for the impact of racism in any part of his life except the final minutes of it. To the extent that your post demands that, it is not helpful. Not at all.

Karma

I think it is important not to take the discussion of murder in this post out of context. Never once is Kenny as an individual called a "murderer" let alone an "immoral murder." The act of murder is described as immoral, but Kenny is not named as an individual actor. The reason being is that the kind of murder we are talking about here is state murder, the worst form of state violence, and while Kenny is the actor in the sense that he pulled the trigger five times on an unarmed young black person, he is quite literally the arm of the state. Whether Kenny will ever be found guilty of murder as an individual (and of course he will not regardless of what actually happened if history is at all instructive) is actually irrelevant to the fact that we understand this as a murder.

Despite your claim, murder does not imply intent. In fact, this is a very limited, legal understanding of a term with usages that far extend legal contexts. The Oxford English Dictionary's first definition of murder is as follows: "To kill (a person) unlawfully." It says this especially though not exclusively refers to instances where there is forethought (not intent), this is not the only definition. It goes on to define murder as "to kill (a person) wickedly, inhumanly, or barbarously." If you look at subsequent definitions, discussion of "forethought" is notably absent. In other words, while the legal definition of murder in the US context might insist on proving intent, this is but one definition, and it is very limited. It participates in, one might even say colludes in normalizing state violence as something other than violence because we can't prove an "intent."

Karma

That should say "immoral murderER" in the first paragraph.

Puddnhead2

Karma, thanks for the reply, and the reasonable tone of it, but I think you are trying to create a nuance here that can't be sustained. The term murder is actually defined by the author, in a parenthetical insert: "an active, immoral act." Your post suggest that the author might have intended the passive definition, that there was no "forethought" or "intent" implied. I can allow that if you just look at the first sentence perhaps, "Tony Robinson was murdered." But the explicit definition with the key word "active" makes it clear that the author did not intend his/her words to be interpreted in the passive (what does "active" mean then, if not some statement of conscious intent?) It then goes on to explicitly say in the very next sentence "white police officers are seldom charged with or convicted of any crime much less murder when they kill unarmed black people." I'm sorry, given this context, I don't buy your contention that the author was not invoking "the legal definition of murder in the US."

The argument that because the word "murderer" never appears in this post, Kenny isn't being labeled one is the one part of your reply I can't respect however. It is pure sophism. "Tony Robinson was murdered" it says, his murder was "perpetrated by state power" it says, complaints are made how media reports "remove the shooter from the position of actor." What sense does this complaint make unless the author feels the shooter *should* be depicted in the position of the "actor?" Following on that, when the "act" is murder, how can you say the term for the "actor" is not "murderer?"

I'm not saying this merely as some linguistic exercise. Kenny has been called a murderer rather explicitly by some who hold bullhorns at the protests, and also on numerous facebook pages. Even if were to allow this author based on your reasoning, I hope you would still agree that a very strong implication of Kenny as a murderer will be taken away from it by some. The events yesterday in Ferguson (two cops shot by a sniper, seemingly at random) should be a flashing red warning light, that casual uses of such loaded language creates the impression of a solid green light to extremists who think there is some "score" that must be "evened." Or it might drive some impressionable youth to decide that they should "fight back" if & when they are apprehended by the MPD -- thus perhaps creating a tragic self-fulfilling prophecy. As I closed my first post: this is not helpful.

Hawi Moore

Thank you

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