New research has confirmed what sociologists and internet users have suspected for years, that political discussion threads are dominated by pigheaded, simple-minded assholes.
The study, conducted by the Center for Research Studies, took a look at discussion boards and comment threads across a variety of media outlets and forums, including popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The conclusion was that approximately 97% of all comments posted were asinine fallacies with no basis in reality whatsoever. The study also found that the most prolific posters were overwhelmingly dickheads and fuckwads, at approximately 93% of all users.
The causal relationship between being a self-righteous asshole and internet discussion forums remains unclear, however. Researchers are not sure if participating in comment threads makes a person shortsighted and idiotic, or if comment boards just happen to attract douchebags and dickheads.
“The only thing we can conclude for certain is that if a person is seeking intelligent and knowledgeable political discourse, it most likely will not be found on the internet,” said Liam Schilling, who spearheaded the study. “However, if a person is a stubborn, uninformed moron, they will most likely feel right at home,” he added.
I have noticed a lot of situations lately which indicate that people’s adherence to the law depends on their own biases and whether they personally agree with it.
When it suits their ends, or when it aligns with something they believe in, many people will be gung-ho about the importance of respecting the law as an absolute. Take, for example, illegal immigration. Many people who want illegal immigrants deported under any and all circumstances will point to the fact that “they broke the law!” It doesn’t matter to them whether the law is just, or if there is any grey area.
Another example is the Eric Garner killing. While many people decry the fact that he was murdered because of a somewhat minor infraction such as selling untaxed cigarettes, there are still others who will say things like “just obey the law, and you won’t have these kinds of problems.”
Now, move on to torture. Even though it is illegal domestically and internationally, many of those same people who cry about the law when it comes to things like illegal immigration or people like Eric Garner, will point to the atrocity of 9/11 as the reason they don’t care if we torture people. Some will deny that rectal feeding or being waterboarded 183 times constitutes torture, and some will admit that the law was broken, but that it’s okay because of the extenuating circumstances.
I think on a certain level, yes, laws were made to be broken or changed. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it the right thing to do, and on the flipside, just because something is illegal doesn’t make it necessarily wrong. But I think there needs to be some consistency involved, and not just an arbitrary, fickle decision to take note of the importance of law only when it does or does not fit in with your personal goals or beliefs.
A few days ago, the Obama administration announced $263 million to go towards purchasing 50,000 body cameras for police officers across the country, as well as training in the responsible use of military-grade weaponry. This, coupled with the burgeoning trend of police departments across the nation to begin using body cameras, seemed to be one positive beacon of hope to arise from the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, Missouri.
In theory, body-cameras would be a good thing, and possibly prevent the kind of doubt and confusion that leads to cases like the Darren Wilson/Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, in which different narratives are told and there are conflicting eyewitness accounts. After all, the camera doesn’t lie. A video eyewitness would serve to protect not only citizens from excessive uses of force, but also officers from possible false accusations of such behavior. If there had been video footage of Darren Wilson’s encounter with Michael Brown, perhaps a great deal of the confusion and anger that sprung forth from that incident would have been quelled.
Flash forward to a couple days ago, and a New York grand jury’s decision to not charge officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choke hold death of Eric Garner, which was captured on cell phone video by a bystander. Painful to watch, Garner’s last moments alive are captured in full view in the video, including the choke hold (which is against NYPD policy) that lead to his death, and his pleas about not being able to breathe.
Yet, inexplicably, no charges are being filed against Pantaleo. It’s like the Rodney King case verdicts all over again, in which there was extensive video footage of the incident in question, except that this time, there will not even be a trial, which is perhaps more of a slap in the face. But it brings to mind not just the Rodney King video, but also lesser-known (but just as disturbing) recordings such as the surveillance video and audio that was captured while homeless schizophrenic Kelly Thomas was being murdered by two former Fullerton police officers in Southern California. In that case, while there was a trial, again inexplicably there were no convictions, on any of the possible charges.
So, it’s hard not to think, what good do cameras do, when despite their recording of an entire event, the evidence they bring forth still does not matter? What does it take for a cop to be charged with a crime, and going further, convicted? What more does a grand jury or a trial jury have to see that will convince them a crime (even one lesser than murder) has taken place?
Unfortunately, while new body cameras will surely bring about some good reality television highlight reels, they don’t seem to have the potential to matter in terms of helping America’s justice system work fairly when it comes to indicting and convicting police officers. Sadly, we can expect many more deaths at the hands of overzealous officers that are not called to answer for their actions. How many of these deaths need to occur before change happens remains to be known. And what will bring about that change remains to be seen.