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The World is Awesome (cont’d)

Here’s some sights of some of the commonest things in the world. The commonest things in the world, seen in a new way. These are living insects, resting on plants outside, and becoming covered in the morning dew.

A common house fly and water.

A moth resting on a twig, covered in dew.

This and more from the Daily Mail Online (2010-03-26).

These photographs were taken by Miroslaw Swietek, a physiotherapist and amateur photographer who lives in Jaroszow, Poland. He takes the photos because he loves photography, and he wants to show something wonderful to the world. Sights of miracles and wonders that he can capture, and we can witness, because Technological civilization is awesome. Sights so wonderful that they look like a glimpse of another world — a world that is strange, wonderful, and new. And yet is the very world we all dwell in now. A world where creatures so common that we think of them as nothing more than annoying pests, and a substance so plentiful and ordinary that we use it to flush our toilets, can, when you catch them at the right time and look at them the right way, shine in the darkness, like creatures of light, shimmering in their living skin of diamonds.

Awesome.

(Via John Gruber @ Daring Fireball 2010-03-30.)

See also:

Internet Anarchist Revision Brigade: how Burt Green tried to write about statist anti-imperialism and blocked his sink with tea leaves

Here’s something George Orwell wrote back in 1946 dealing with, among other things, the political writing of his day.

Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous, and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon numbers. The jargon peculiar to Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry, lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc.) consists largely of words translated from Russian, German, or French; but the normal way of coining a new word is to use Latin or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the size formation. It is often easier to make up words of this kind (deregionalize, impermissible, extramarital, non-fragmentary and so forth) than to think up the English words that will cover one’s meaning. The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.

. . . As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to hunt about for the words; you also don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash — as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot — it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. . . . In [the example from a Communist pamphlet], the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink.

Here’s an example of exactly that kind of writing, which I’ve taken from an article in Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed. Unfortunately, the writing in this article is a lot like the writing in a lot of articles that appear in AJODA (right alongside an Anarchist Media Review media review section that constantly complains about jargony or dreary writing in other, less widely distributed anarchist zines). I’ve chosen this passage in particular because the writer clearly seems to know what he wants to say, and what he’s got to say is basically true, but–well, let’s just try to read it.

As long as Anti-Imperialism is presented as the foremost or central contradiction of capitalism, it will have innate limitations which are constitutionally incapable of supercession.

In the first instance, Anti-Imperialism still has to account for the way it was used in the past, and will always for that reason bear the heavy burden of the crimes committed in its name. To those who fought against imperialism in the Philippines and Chile, in South Africa and Vietnam, one must take care to add those in East Germany, Poland, and Hungary, and those who fight today in Tibet.

The uncritical assumption of statist perspectives implicit in the positioning of the organization of the National Liberation Struggle as the revolutionary subject, conceals both the class divisions between the forces that make up this organization — especially those between the bureaucratic class-in-formation on the one hand and the working class, peasantry and those sections of the intelligentsia supporting independence on the other — and the common interest all proletarians have in the elimination of their elites, regardless of nationality. The establishment of sovereign government (that is, a state) as the revolutionary objective, carries with it similarly bourgeois assumptions. It partakes with enthusiasm of the artificial and arbitrary separation in the activities of capitalist national and international political economies created by international law. Anti-Imperialists declare the extra-national colonization of markets, polities, societies, and cultures to be somehow worse or different in essence from the exercise of the same principles of capitalist economy in the country of its origin (a contradiction is not overcome by references to internal colonies). They take the borders of capitalist states more seriously, especially in the present epoch, than capitalists do themselves.

On the other side of the equation, then, Anti-Imperialism has been a means of avoiding recognition of the independent interests and struggles of the working class and peasantry in the imperial dependencies, save from the point of view of distortions created by the advancement of exogenous imperial interests. This lack of proletarian perspective allows Anti-Imperialism to become a weapon to be used against (competing) foreign exploitation without a critique of local inequalities and forms of domination, much less of the political economy as a whole. This kind of Anti-Imperialism is easy for the likes of Vladimir Putin (the pacifier of Chechnya) and the misogynists of Hezbollah to employ without damage to themselves. It also provides useful ammunition to that most perfect of modern princes, Hugo Chavez, in whom are embodied both the Leftist, pseudomodern authoritarianism of his friend and political patron, Fidel Castro, the Maximum Leader of Cuba, and also the right-wing pseudotraditionalism of fascism, as imparted by his mentor, the Argentine anti-semite Norberto Ceresole, author of Caudillo, ejercito, pueblo. La Venezuela del presidente Chavez [Leader, Army, People, the Venezuela of President Chavez.]o

o It is high time that revolutionaries make proper acknowledgement of the complementary parts played by Marxism-Leninism and Fascism, as two wings of the same general movement of reaction against the rising proletarian, peasant, and intellectual insurgency of thel ate 19th and early 20th centuries. The earliest conscious expressions of these twin tendencies, those of Lenin on the one hand and Mussolini on the other, grew from the same source: (Marxian) social-democracy. The use of conspiratorial, quasi-military organization, of fronts and the infiltration of strategic organizations as a means to establishing influence, and then otion of themselves as the general staff of some kind of alleged revolution embodied in their own seizure of state power, unite these post-social-democratic factions. So does their presumption that the working class itself, incapable of more than a trade-union consciousness in Lenin’s infamous words, or unwilling to embark on crusades of national greatness (eg campaigns of forced capital accumulation, war), needs the Party, composed of this or that constellation of petit-bourgeois elements, at its head to lead it. To think that such tendencies, then or now, can be the allies of antiauthoritarian, anti-capitalist revolutionaries, is to ignore not just the overwhelming weight of the historical experience of the world’s proletarian revolutions, but the very material nature of the political economies and quality of life in the regimes created by these hyper-authoritarian Symbionese twins.

–Burt Green, Anti-Imperialism or Anti-Capitalism, in Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed 26.1 (Spring/Summer 2008). pp 41, 43.

How did you feel when you tried to read through this passage and the footnote? It actually makes several important points; I think at least one or two of the points it makes are both new and important. (For example, I think that the footnote at the end is really very sharp.) That’s the sort of thing that ought to be both fun and exciting to read. But in the entire passage I can think of only two places where the writing made me feel anything than a dull pounding on my forehead — They take the borders of capitalist states more seriously, especially in the present epoch, than capitalists do themselves, and that most perfect of modern princes, Hugo Chavez. The second phrase manages to be funny precisely because the pretense is watered by the sarcasm; the rest of the passge gives you the straight stuff and demands you drink it down. If we want to say the things we need to say, then we need to find better ways of saying it than this.

If you were going to try to rewrite a passage like this to try to make it more clear to those who haven’t spent years reading and writing in Marxist jargon, and more enjoyable to read even for those who have — to rewrite a passage like this so that the author’s point about anti-imperialist politics makes more of an impression than the dull, thudding drumbeat of his language — how would you go about it?

There are some obvious easy changes that you can make. Anytime someone writes a phrase like in the present epoch you can just about always cross it out and write in today; worker or working-class can be put anywhere that the author chose to put down proletarian, and you can strike exogenous and write in outside, or replace the whole phrase save from the point of view of distortions created by the advancement of exogenous imperial interests with something like except when the bosses are foreigners. But other stale fixed phrases (This lack of proletarian perspective …, … carries with it similarly bourgeois assumptions, … the working class, peasantry and . . . intelligentsia …) are harder to deal with. You could pretty them up a little by trimming unnecessary verbal filler and by taking out obviously pretentious words and replacing them with simpler ones. You can put lipstick on a pig, too. But the problem is that the dreariness of the writing has a lot to do with the dreariness of the thought itself. It’s not that the points being made are wrong, or even hackneyed, exactly. It’s that the approach to the point is hackneyed, that the writer can find no way of expressing what he wants to say except by leading you through this cut-and-paste collage of phrases from Marxist pamphlets and whitepapers. (As Orwell said, You see, he feels impelled to write — feels, presumably, that he has something new to say — and yet his words, like cavalry horses answering the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary pattern.) That kind of writing needs more than copyediting; it needs to be rearranged or rewritten from the start, with paragraphs either thrown out entirely or transformed into something that you wouldn’t know for a rewriting of the original.

For example, let’s look at paragraph 3 and think about what you might do about a paragraph like this.

The uncritical assumption of statist perspectives implicit in the positioning of the organization of the National Liberation Struggle as the revolutionary subject, conceals both the class divisions between the forces that make up this organization — especially those between the bureaucratic class-in-formation on the one hand and the working class, peasantry and those sections of the intelligentsia supporting independence on the other — and the common interest all proletarians have in the elimination of their elites, regardless of nationality. The establishment of sovereign government (that is, a state) as the revolutionary objective, carries with it similarly bourgeois assumptions. It partakes with enthusiasm of the artificial and arbitrary separation in the activities of capitalist national and international political economies created by international law. Anti-Imperialists declare the extra-national colonization of markets, polities, societies, and cultures to be somehow worse or different in essence from the exercise of the same principles of capitalist economy in the country of its origin (a contradiction is not overcome by references to internal colonies). They take the borders of capitalist states more seriously, especially in the present epoch, than capitalists do themselves.

Instead of that, you might write something like this:

The picture of the world that anti-imperialist rhetoric paints is a picture seen through the eyes of warring states. If you want to know who will make the revolution, it forces you to look for a national fighting force, organized by geographical or ethnic borders. If you want to know what kind of revolution they will make, it forces you to look for a new government — a government run by locals, after the foreign governments have been forced back over the border.

The only way that anti-imperialist has to talk about revolution is to stand at made-up borders and yell Stop! — as if it made any difference whether it happens to be foreign bosses or local bosses who take control over workers’ jobs, culture, and living arrangements. Anti-imperialism takes the borders of capitalist states more seriously than the capitalists do themselves. This kind of revolution has nothing to say about what powerful people within the nation do to their victims — and particularly not what aspiring bureaucrats do to workers and intellectuals. It’s a distraction from workers’ real interest in getting out from under bosses, no matter where the bosses come from.

As far as I can tell, this would convey almost exactly the same meaning. There are some losses — for example, (a contradiction is not overcome by references to internal colonies). But I threw out the parenthetical because someone who was making the point clearly would not think that you could just stick that point where Green tried to stick it. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but if it did, it’s only because the rest of the paragraph consists of so many stock phrases strung together that just stringing another one in may have seemed like logic. But the comment in between the parentheses has to do with a particular way that some anti-imperialist writers have tried to adapt their rhetoric in order to avoid glossing over the internal forms of oppression that Green says anti-imperialist rhetoric glosses over. For example, people who used this line often said that the white man’s government treats black people inside the borders of the U.S.A. the same way that it treats foreign people in the Phillippines or Vietnam; and you might say the same thing about groups of people who are oppressed within a post-colonial country when a more powerful group takes over power from the old colonial government. But the parenthetical mentions this position without explaining any of that, or making any of it clear to anybody who isn’t already familiar with a lot of anti-imperialist jargon. And it just states that this adaptation of anti-imperialist rhetoric doesn’t actually solve the problem, without saying why it fails. If talking about internal colonies doesn’t help, then you need to say something about why it doesn’t help, and it would probably take long enough that it belongs in a new paragraph or a footnote. If you can’t do that much, then you’d be better off not mentioning it at all.

And there are also some additions — a couple of attempts at shifting the emphasis or making use of some imagery. Because if I just stopped at cutting out the parts that had gone bad, then the leftovers would be wholesome enough, but not enough to be filling — a single paragraph that’s short and clear, but also a paragraph with nothing to really drive the point home. That would be fine if this passage was a brief stop along the way to some other conclusion. But it’s actually supposed to be about half of the essay’s conclusion.

And now that I mention it, that brings up another problem. If the simple statement of the point is as simple and boring as the simple statement of this point is (so–it’s a mistake for radicals to use an approach that doesn’t deal with oppression inside national boundaries, because it’s the bossing that really matters, not where the boss comes from) then maybe the essay needs to say more than what it does, insead of just leaving off on such an obvious point. (For example, why spend so long making a point like this, when you could use that space to make a genuinely novel point, like the point about the similarities between conspiratorial Leninism and conspiratorial Fascism, instead of hiding that point away in a footnote?) So even this kind of rewriting, paragraph by paragraph, can only do so much. What a passage like this needs, in the end, is rethinking. What do you think? How would you do it? Given what he wants to say, how would you say it well?

Neighborhood Safety Ghettoes in D.C.

So, there’s this poster that’s been circulating around anarchist, civil libertarian, and lefty blogs for a few months now. It’s become popular because it’s funny (in a nerdy way), and also because it makes an important point:

It has a photo of a column of people dressed as Imperial Storm Troopers from Star Wars is marching down a city street. Caption: Fascism: You really think it'll be this obvious?

But, well, the awful truth is that, as with so many other things in American politics, the answer to that rhetorical question can’t really be taken for granted, because it really depends on what kind of neighborhood you live in. The poster makes an important point addressed to, and about the daily lives of, people of a particular socioeconomic class (specifically, the people who most often spend their time reading blogs). For many if not most people in other social classes, the answer really is just, You bet it will. Or, It already is. Has been for decades. Where you been?

For example, consider the cops plans for improving neighborhood safety in the D.C. Ghetto. No, I’m not using that last word as a careless synonym for slum. I am using it in the most literal sense.


D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.

Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate Neighborhood Safety Zones. At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have legitimate reason to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.

— Michael Neibauer and Bill Myers, The Examiner (2008-06-04): Lanier plans to seal off rough ’hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence

Guess who decides what counts as a legitimate reason for being in the neighborhood — the people who live and work in that neighborhood, or the government’s goon squad?

Lanier has been struggling to reverse D.C.’s spiraling crime rate but has been forced by public outcry to scale back several initiatives including her All Hands on Deck weekends and plans for warrantless, door-to-door searches for drugs and guns.

Under today’s proposal, the no-go zones will last up to 10 days, according to internal police documents. Front-line officers are already being signed up for training on running the blue curtains.

Peter Nickles, the city’s interim attorney general, said the quarantine would have a narrow focus.

This is a very targeted program that has been used in other cities, Nickles told The Examiner. I’m not worried about the constitutionality of it.

— Michael Neibauer and Bill Myers, The Examiner (2008-06-04): Lanier plans to seal off rough ’hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence

Just so we’re clear, neither am I. I couldn’t possibly care less whether surrounding poor neighborhoods with cops, giving everyone the Ihre Papiere, bitte treatment, and chopping a community up into police-occupied strategic hamlets for the purpose of a government quarantine without any probable cause whatsoever for believing that any of the individual people you will be surrounding, stopping, hassling, and threatening with jail have ever committed any crime against any identifiable victim, is or is not countenanced by the United States Constitution. Who cares? The basic problem with terrorizing and brutalizing entire neighborhoods is that it is evil and incredibly dangerous, whether or not the Constitution allows for it.

Others are. Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the D.C. police union and a former lawyer, called the checkpoint proposal breathtaking.

Shelley Broderick, president of the D.C.-area American Civil Liberties Union and the dean of the University of the District of Columbia’s law school, said the plan was cockamamie.

I think they tried this in Russia and it failed, she said. It’s just our experience in this city that we always end up targeting poor people and people of color, and we treat the kids coming home from choir practice the same as we treat those kids who are selling drugs.

The proposal has the provisional support of D.C. Councilman Harry Tommy Thomas, D-Ward 5, whose ward has become a war zone.

They’re really going to crack down on what we believe to be a systemic problem with open-air drug markets, Thomas told The Examiner.

Thomas said, though, that he worried about D.C. moving towards a police state.

— Michael Neibauer and Bill Myers, The Examiner (2008-06-04): Lanier plans to seal off rough ’hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence

But what the hell did D.C. Councilman Harry Tommy Thomas expect, anyway? You can’t go around pushing your paramilitary crack downs with rhetoric about war zones and then act all surprised when you get a police state. If you plan for an occupation, you can expect that you are going to get lock-downs and de facto martial law.

Radley Balko writes:

Last week, I received the following email:

I live in Eckington, a transitional neighborhood in northeast DC. I got a knock on the door this morning from a guy with ACORN (looks like a lefty community group that I’d never heard of) saying that DC police would be coming around shortly asking to search homes in the neighborhood for guns, and explaining we had the constitutional right to refuse, etc. He added that anything the police find they can use against you because you never know what a friend of a friend might have left in your house Not sure if he told me this because I had just gotten out of bed and had answered the door in my bathrobe looking disoriented, but I digress. He was handing out a packet of info from the ACLU including a nifty doorhanger you can put out that says NO CONSENT TO SEARCH OUR HOME. One of my neighbors told me the guy told them they were only doing this in poor black neighborhoods, and this notice from the ACLU that I found online seems to bear this out.

I know it’s not exactly a wrong-door no-knock raid, but I am concerned because while I certainly don’t want the police (or any other strangers) rummaging through my junk, I’m kind of afraid of what would happen if I refuse the search. I already live on one of those streets with the surveillance cams installed. Does my address get marked for being uncooperative or suspicious? I should mention of course that I don’t own any guns and have never touched anything more powerful than a bb gun.

You are free to refuse the searches. But if a regular reader of this site feels uncomfortable asserting that right, you can imagine how other people subject to these searches might feel.

— Radley Balko, The Agitator (2008-06-04): Police State D.C.

Please also keep in mind that this is the same metro police force which will toting around AR-15 assault rifles as they surround and cordon off and do door-to-door searches and raids in these inner-city neighborhoods.

Do you feel safer now?

See also:

Tribal feud body counts: help me out here

Dear LazyWeb,

Jared Diamond makes the following claim in [his recent article on tribal blood feuds in New Guinea:

Without state government, war between local groups is chronic; coöperation between local groups on projects bringing benefits to everyone—such as large-scale irrigation systems, free rights of travel, and long-distance trade—becomes much more difficult; and even the frequency of murder within a local group is higher. It’s true, of course, that twentieth-century state societies, having developed potent technologies of mass killing, have broken all historical records for violent deaths. But this is because they enjoy the advantage of having by far the largest populations of potential victims in human history; the actual percentage of the population that died violently was on the average higher in traditional pre-state societies than it was even in Poland during the Second World War or Cambodia under Pol Pot.

— Jared Diamond, The New Yorker (2008-04-21): Vengeance is Ours

I don’t think that anything interesting about anarchism turns on where this factoid comes from or whether it’s true. (It’s not as if I’m suggesting personal vendetta or communal blood feud as the anarchistic replacement for state court systems. Anarchy as I understand it is an achievement for the future, not a recovery of the past.) But it is a very strong claim, which Diamond asserts without providing a citation to the source for these figures or an explanation of how they were calculated. Presumably he has a particular source, but I’m curious as to what it is.

Anyone know a likely anthropological source for this factoid, or for factoids in the general neighborhood? Help me out here.

Taser first, ask questions at the autopsy.

Here is what I said a few days ago about the widespread use of tasers by American cops, in response to a recent case in Alabama:

Tasers were originally introduced for police use as an alternative to using lethal force; the hope was that, in many situations where cops might otherwise feel forced to go for their guns, they might be able to use the taser instead, to immobilize a person who posed a threat to them or to others, without killing anybody in the process.

In practice, of course, cops and police culture being what they are, any notion of limiting tasers to those situations very quickly went out the window. Cops armed with tasers now freely use them to end arguments by intimidation or actual violence, to coerce people who pose no real threat to anyone into complying with their bellowed orders, and to hurt uppity civilians who dare to give them lip. They often do so even when the supposed offense that they’re responding to is completely trivial; they often start tasering, or keep on tasering, after their victims have already been rendered helpless by the circumstances or by an earlier use of force. Since any complaints of excessive force are always handled by their fellow cops, the investigations almost always end up concluding that Official Procedures were followed, as if that made everything O.K., and throwing the complaint into the rubbish bin without doing anything at all. So shock-happy Peace Officers can now go around using their tasers as 50,000-volt human prods in just about any situation, with more or less complete impunity.

— GT 2007-11-11: Taser first, ask questions later

Meanwhile, in Canada, a gang of four cops in the RCMP has killed a man by electrocution. The victim was Polish immigrant named Robert Dziekanski, who had been detained in a secure area in the Vancouver International Airport. He became agitated and could not communicate with the employees, since he did not speak English. When the cops showed up to try to talk to him, he was is standing with his back to a counter and with his arms lowered by his sides. That didn’t stop them from whipping out their tasers and shooting him within 25 seconds of arriving on the scene. They shot him at least three, and possibly four times, including at least once while he was convulsing on the ground while offiicers were kneeling on him and handcuffing him:

An eyewitness’s video recording of a man dying after being stunned with a Taser by police on Oct. 14 at Vancouver International Airport has been released to the public.

The 10-minute video recording clearly shows four RCMP officers talking to Robert Dziekanski while he is standing with his back to a counter and with his arms lowered by his sides, but his hands are not visible.

About 25 seconds after police enter the secure area where he is, there is a loud crack that sounds like a Taser shot, followed by Dziekanski screaming and convulsing as he stumbles and falls to the floor.

Another loud crack can be heard as an officer appears to fire one more Taser shot into Dziekanski.

As the officers kneel on top of Dziekanski and handcuff him, he continues to scream and convulse on the floor.

One officer is heard to say, Hit him again. Hit him again, and there is another loud cracking sound.

Police have said only two Taser shots were fired, but a witness said she heard up to four Taser shots.

Robert Dziekanski falls to the floor as an RCMP officer looks on.Robert Dziekanski falls to the floor as an RCMP officer looks on.

A minute and half after the first Taser shot was fired Dziekanski stops moaning and convulsing and becomes still and silent.

Shortly after, the officers appear to be checking his condition and one officer is heard to say, code red.

[R]etired superintendent Ron Foyle, a 33-year veteran of the Vancouver police who saw the video tape, said he didn’t know why it ever became a police incident.

It didn’t seem that he made any threatening gestures towards them, Foyle said.

The video was recorded in three segments. The first segment shows Dziekanski before police arrive.

He is clearly agitated, yelling in Polish, and appears to be sweating. He can be seen taking office chairs and putting them in front of the security doors. He then picks up a small table, which he holds, while a woman in the arrivals lounge calmly speaks to him in apparent effort to calm him down.

… In the second segment, Dziekanski picks up a computer and throws it to the ground. Three airport personnel arrive and block the exit from the secure area, but Dziekanski retreats inside and does not threaten them.

Then four RCMP officers arrive in the lounge. Someone can be heard mentioning the word Tasers.

Someone replies, Yes, as the officers approach the security doors.

… People in the lounge can be heard clearly telling the police Dziekanski speaks no English, only Russian. His mother later said he only spoke Polish.

Police enter the secure area with no problems and can be seen with Dziekanski standing calmly talking with officers. They appear to direct him to stand against a wall, which he does.

As he is standing there, one of the officers shoots him with a Taser.

— CBC News (2007-11-15): Taser video shows RCMP shocked immigrant within 25 seconds of their arrival

Meanwhile, the cops responded by confiscating the eyewitness’s digital camera, refusing to return it as they’d promised, and then issuing blatant lies about the number of officers on the scene, the number of times they tasered their victim, and whether or not there were bystanders nearby at the time of the attack. The video, which directly contradicts police statements, has only been released to the public since the eyewitness, Paul Pritchard, retained a lawyer and threatened to sue.

Since they have been forced to release the video of the killing, the Mounties have promised that The Matter Will Be Investigated, of course. But the official excuses are already being manufactured as we speak.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dale Carr said no one can judge what happened to Dziekanski by just watching the video.

It’s just one piece of evidence, one person’s view. There are many people that we have spoken to, RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dale Carr said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

What I urge is that those watching the video, take note of that. Put what they’ve seen aside for the time being. And wait to hear the totality of the evidence at the time of the inquest, Carr said.

— CBC News (2007-11-15): Taser video shows RCMP shocked immigrant within 25 seconds of their arrival

What ought to happen after the inquest is that these four Mounties end up in the dock on a charge of murder, in light of their reckless use of violence and their depraved indifference to human life. What will probably happen, instead, is a collective shrug of the shoulders from the Federalis and some sanctimonious official lectures on how important it is to cooperate with airport security.

(Story thanks to Elinor, in comments.)

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