What Did Donald Trump Imply? (Guest post!)

I’m not a lawyer. I’m a mom. More specifically, I’m Amy’s mom. She’s swamped with work, so I’m pinch-hitting.  [Thanks, Mom! – ed.]

Like many people I was appalled by Donald Trump’s apparent incitement to violence as part of the speech he gave in Wilmington, N.C. on August 9. On August 10, both the Washington Post and the New York Times led with reports on the implications of this speech, and both papers editorialized about it.

With a hat tip to linguists professor Geoffrey Pullum for the context, here’s what Mr. Trump said:

Hillary wants to abolish
— essentially abolish —
the Second Amendment.
By the way,
if she gets to pick her judges… [long pause]
Nothing you can do, folks. [long pause]
Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.

Many people, myself included, felt that this was a call to assassinate Hillary Clinton. In political speeches, as in stand-up comedy, timing is everything, and Professor Pullum’s insertion of the pauses is important. After Mr. Trump says, “Nothing you can do folks,” he pauses, as if he were thinking about what he had just said. As if he were saying to himself that possibly there is something that can be done [about his ridiculous claim that a president can single-handedly abolish part of the U.S. Constitution]. He then says, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is [something you can do], I don’t know.”

The Trump campaign says that interpreting this as incitement to violence is nonsense. He was merely saying that people who value their Second Amendment privileges should be sure to vote in November. But if you watch the video of this passage of the speech (there are dozens on YouTube), you will see someone (red t-shirt or polo shirt) sitting behind and to the left of Mr. Trump whose jaw drops. He can’t believe Trump just said that. If you keep watching, you’ll see that this same guy breaks into a big smile and turns, laughing, to the woman sitting next to him. What’s Mr. Red Shirt thinking? “Wow! Did Trump just give us permission to go out and shoot Hillary?” Or is he thinking, “Yeah, he’s right. We gotta remember to vote on November 8.” As the sportscasters sometimes say, “You make the call.”

The Washington Post editorialized as follows:  “If Mr. Trump were not a major-party presidential candidate, his comment Tuesday might have earned him a stern visit from the Secret Service.”  The New York Times’s editorial reminds us of the New Hampshire delegate to the Republican Convention, Al Baldasaro, who said that Ms. Clinton should “be put in the firing line and shot for treason.” “That comment,” says the Times,” wound up on the Secret Service’s radar. Mr. Trump’s comment should as well.”

What does the law say about these kinds of remarks? Check out 18 U.S.C. § 879, which says

(a)Whoever knowingly and willfully threatens to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm upon-  [(1), (2) and (4) a former President, member of the former President’s immediate family; President, Vice-President, President-elect and immediate families; a person protected by the Secret Service…]

And then there’s subsection (3):

(3) a major candidate for the office of President or Vice President, or a member of the immediate family of such candidate

Ms. Clinton qualifies under three of the four subsections: immediate family of a former president, major candidate for president, and a person under the protection of the Secret Service.

So what’s going to happen to a person who “knowingly and willfully” threatens to kill, etc. someone listed in sections 1 through 4?

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

Two things are pretty clear to me and to many other people: Donald Trump threatened the life of Hillary Clinton, and such threats are illegal and subject to fines, imprisonment, or both. Two major newspapers have said or implied that Mr. Trump should be at least investigated under 18 U.S.C § 879, but, somehow, I doubt that he will be. I would be investigated if I said that. You would, too. But probably not Donald Trump.

Flossing and the dental hygiene paradigm of race discourse | Nonprofit With Balls

As always, Vu Le, at Nonprofit with Balls, says it best:

Flossing and the Dental Hygiene Paradigm of Race Discourse

[Quoting Jay Smooth:] “We don’t assume, I’m a clean person therefore I do not need to clean my teeth. Being a clean person is something you maintain and work on every day […] And when someone suggests to us that we’ve got something stuck in our teeth, we don’t say, ‘I have something stuck in my teeth?! But I’m a clean person!’”

Undoing racism and other forms of injustice is a practice we must do every day, like brushing our teeth, according to Jay Smooth. We must look in the mirror constantly. And like brushing, on some days, we’re better at it than on others. On occasion, we don’t spend enough time, and we still have bits of gross stuff stuck in our chompers even though we feel minty fresh. Sometimes we’re lazy and just gargle with some bourbon and call it a night.

With all the injustice out there that we are trying to fight, let’s give each other some grace. Let’s admit we don’t know everything and we can’t be perfect. Let’s all lower our defenses and see each other as imperfect human beings trying hard to do some good in a complex world. And when someone says, “Hey, you got a little bit of racism (or sexism, or ableism, or ageism, etc.) stuck in your teeth,” we thank them, do some looking in the mirror to remove it, and continue forward to make our world better.

Source: Flossing and the dental hygiene paradigm of race discourse | Nonprofit With Balls

If people stopped throwing things away, this would lead to less anxiety for garbage collectors, who are only trying to do their job.

{Image: Clip from facebook. Post says, "Shaun King: Introducing a 25-part series on reducing police brutality. Solutions. Solutions. Solutions. Solutions. Solutions." A comment below the post, by "Robert McGrath," reads "how about people stop breaking the law. this might in turn lead to less anxiety for the police who are only trying to do their job. but then again its easier being the victim than it is admitting more could be done from the american people themselves..."

how about people stop breaking the law. this might in turn lead to less anxiety for the police who are only trying to do their job.

If people stopped breaking the law, there would be no job for the police to do.

It is their job to deal with law-breakers.  Preferably non-lethally.  The problem arises when they (demonstrably) deal with similarly-situated law-breakers breaking similar laws (CD/cigarette sales; traffic violations) or similarly-situated citizens not breaking any damn laws at all (driving with a legal concealed-carry permit; being a behavioral therapist trying to prevent harm to a client) based (demonstrably) on the color of their skin or their disability.

“They were breaking the law” is not an excuse for the unequal application of lethal or even non-lethal force by the police.  “Do your damn job,” is the appropriate response to this excuse.

I get that it is a hard and dangerous job, and I deeply respect the good people who have stepped up to do it.  But it is a job in which we as a society trust you and give you  — yes, give you; it’s not yours without the badge that we give you — the right to use force when appropriate.  If you’re not up for doing that fairly — regardless of how brave or heroic you may be — it is not the job for you.  Take your biases to a job where they are less likely to cause physical harm and death.

Hostile Environment; or Stained Glass What the Fuck?

For generations, African-American employees and students have had to eat in the dining hall of a residential college — named, then and (stubbornly) now, for slavery advocate John C. Calhoun — and stare up at this stained glass window:

{Image: stained glass window showing a man and woman, both with dark skin, in 19th century clothing, standing in a cotton field, each with a basket of cotton on their head.}

It simply defies comprehension that this was allowed to remain.   The thought of trying to work, learn, teach, or even eat in the presence of this rights-erasing, humanity-denying decor makes me disgusted beyond words.  It would be like having a stained glass window of a gas chamber, torture device, or sanitarium.

I have previously blogged about Things That Are Inexplicably OK, like tenured Princeton professors advocating infanticide of disabled kids or a sports team in our nation’s capital named after a racist epithet.  This is way up there with all that.  Another respected institution of higher learning, this one decorated with a depiction of slavery.

Until today!  Yale dishwasher and civil rights action hero Corey Manafee stuck a broomstick through it.  Window smashed; problem (at least the decor problem) solved.

“I took a broomstick, and it was kind of high, and I climbed up and reached up and broke it,” he said. “It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that.”

“I just said, ‘That thing’s coming down today. I’m tired of it,’” he added. “I put myself in a position to do it, and did it.”

Damn right you shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that.  My view is: every African-American who has had to work or study in that space has a hostile environment claim.

But Corey Menafee enters my personal Civil Rights Getting Shit Done Hall of Fame, along with Bree Newsome, who climbed up a flagpole and took down the Confederate flag, and the mayor of New Paltz, New York, who started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples (for a brief time until he was ordered to stop) in 2004.

Don’t wait for permission to do the right thing; just get shit done.

#googlemapsprivilege

All of my anger today is for cops who murder Black people and evil fucks who murder cops. In the wake of this, as every, police shooting, we remember the others.  Michael Brown. Tamir Rice.  Eric Garner. Sandra Bland.  #blacklivesmatter

But some of the stories and posts I’m seeing brought to mind a different hashtag:

#googlemapsprivilege

The ability to take a simple drive and get to your destination at about the time Google Maps says you will, that is, without being randomly stopped, suspected, delayed, and generally fucked with simply because you are (1) Black and (2) in a car.

Last night, a professional woman who sits on the board of our non-profit recounted this story in a Facebook comment:

I was pulled over right outside Denver Botanic Gardens by a cop who said I “looked like I was trying too hard to get away from him” after leaving the drive-thru at Wendy’s. I had on a really menacing business suit.

Ed Garnes — who I don’t know but whose post was shared enough times that I got to read it — recounts this incident:

Black Death is a sport. This is a fact with history on it’s side. When the police are involved my “fancy” education, two parent household upbringing, and clean criminal record will not save me. This year alone I have been followed by police over 10 times. I have paid over 400 dollars in tickets that were not warranted. This past weekend I was followed for 5 miles by an officer in Douglasville. Luckily, I was able to find a “safe area” with people as the officer pulled up beside my car and stared me down. I called a friend who then escorted me back to the highway so I could return to the south side. A few months ago, someone called the police on me for merely retrieving items from my vehicle at the univ of Tennessee, a campus where I work and attend school. My 4.0 gpa meant nothing. In Knoxville the past 3 weeks, someone has spit in my food at a local eatery and spit on my car leaving tangible evidence of hate. This is my reality as a Black man dodging death like some super hero who never knows if this minute is my last. If I die today, y’all better fight for me. Fuck a hashtag.

Same with this astonishing list from John Fleming:

Have you ever:

1) Been accused of being a drug dealer in a neighborhood b/c you’re driving a nice car and get racial profiled?

2) Been stopped and detained in a parking garage in downtown Austin by EIGHT state troopers and be accused of being an alleged rapist (who they then said was a white red head male after they finally let me go) from Georgetown, TX?

3)Had a gun drawn on you b/c you went to reach for your WALLET for a traffic stop?

4) Lived your entire life wondering how from when I was a little boy until this very post how your cousin, who was a State Marshall in Texas, (whom you looked up to and admired) was found dead in his East Texas home and his death was never solved?

5) Been WALKING from your office after a day’s work to the parking garage and get stopped by a UTPD Police officer and asked for your ID without cause at the Blanton Parking Garage b/c someone reported that an African American male was seen strung out on drugs selling drugs in the garage? I was held and detained for approximately 30 mins while they ran my license with UTPD, APD, State and Nation.

6) Been pulled over traveling south on I-35 in Oklahoma just a few miles before crossing back into Texas and have a Oklahoma State Trooper pull you over for TRAVELING 60 in a 70mph area for speeding, get asked to step out of your car while your sister and her 3 daughters are in the car and be escorted back to the front seat of the Troopers K-9 Ford Expedition with a barking vigilant German Shepard in the back seat as you are interrogated and then released for a warning when he learns that your cousin is STATE SENATOR FOR THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA?

All of the above are true and they HAPPENED TO ME!

It’s a privilege to stay alive and it’s another privilege to get to your fucking destination without having to pull over and have a discussion about the way you drove out of the Wendy’s drive thru, or what sort of car you’re driving, or the fact that no, except for skin color, you do not look like the robber/rapist/drug dealer they are looking for, or your broken tail-light, or your expired plates.  I’ve been driving on expired plates since February, it was recently pointed out to me BY A FRIEND, NOT BY A COP.

I have been pulled over approximately five times in my life.  All but one of them were for my admitted habit of driving 10-25 mph over the speed limit.  In other words: righteous stops, for which I got tickets and points.   The other was for making a right turn without signaling.  Suburban Minnesota.  Late at night.  Officer shined the flashlight in my eyes.  I kept my hands on the wheel.  I got a warning not to do that again and was sent on my way.

I think this is some of what Justice Sotomayor was talking about when she use the term “civil death.”

We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. See L. Guinier & G. Torres, The Miner’s Canary 274–283 (2002). They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.

Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373, 2016 WL 3369419, at *16 (U.S. June 20, 2016) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting).

#whiteprivilegeisreal.  So is #googlemapsprivilege.

I’llRideWithYou?

After North Carolina made the brilliant decision to police its citizens’ bathroom habits, a movement arose urging cis folks to be available to accompany trans or genderqueer folks to the restroom or other gendered spaces.  It’s called “I’ll Go With You.”   It has a website … and buttons!

This week, two more Black men were assassinated by the police under circumstances that defy rational understanding, but that share with so many other similar murders this feature:  they would not have happened to a white person.

What can a random middle age white lady do about all this killing?  I can march, shout, post . . . all things that announce my horror, anger, and sadness.  But I can’t force grand juries to indict murderous cops or juries to convict them.  And worst of all, I can’t stop the shooting from happening in the first place.

Or can I?   What if I were there?  Could enough of us be there for our Black friends, allies, and fellow citizens to stop some of the random killing?  If we’re willing to go to the bathroom as a show of solidarity with our trans and genderqueer friends, is there a way we ride along with our Black friends to show solidarity or, y’know, be a human shield?  Call it the White-People Ride-Along program*, placing random white people in the cars of random African-Americans while they drive to work, run errands, go out to dinner, stay up late, joy ride, and other things white people can do in cars without risking death at the hands of law enforcement.  It would work like a sort of reverse Uber. When the Black driver is ready to go somewhere, he or she enters the information in the WPRA app and connects with an available white passenger.  Voila!  Instant, if unfounded, respectability and potential survival.

Wild-ass idea, right?  Or maybe not.  Anyone with the balls & tech skills to get this rolling:  I’m in.

***************

*Yes, I’m intending to copy the police “Ride-Along” label.

45 C.F.R. § 92.4; or yes, there is a difference between the parties.

For any Bernieite or other lefty grumbling that there’s really no difference between the parties, I hereby present section 92.4 of the implementing regulations of section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

On the basis of sex includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, sex stereotyping, and gender identity.

Sex stereotypes means stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, including expectations of how individuals represent or communicate their gender to others, such as behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, mannerisms, or body characteristics. These stereotypes can include the expectation that individuals will consistently identify with only one gender and that they will act in conformity with the gender-related expressions stereotypically associated with that gender. Sex stereotypes also include gendered expectations related to the appropriate roles of a certain sex.

Boom.  Now go forth and proudly vote for Democrats, up and down the ticket.  Because there is a difference.  A real difference.