There's a lot to unpack from
You know the news. Four African-Americans were charged last week with hate crimes in the alleged kidnapping and torture of a bound, white and mentally disabled young man.
Police said they beat him, forced him to drink toilet water, jabbed at him with a knife and cut his scalp, shouting "F---white people!" and "F--- [
I watched some, not all of that video, the way they brutalized that young man, the terror in his eyes, hearing their laughter. And I realized these were human beings, amusing themselves with the pain of a mentally disabled man. There are many words for this, but irredeemable is the one that comes to mind.
"It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that," said
Johnson's been a cop in
Because cops work in that world where people do such things to each other. Where criminals laugh and inflict pain, on babies, old people, anyone. Most of the rest of us haven't been to that place and we'd be psychologically damaged if we did.
There are other elements of this heater case that should be acknowledged, like the politics of this thing. It's crawling with politics now.
It's partly a racial thing so let's talk race. If the races were reversed, and a mentally disabled black kid were tortured by white barbarians, the political left would be screaming that over-the-top political rhetoric from the right had trickled down and encouraged the brutes. You can argue with me about this, but that won't change it.
Yet it's the other way now, isn't it? And the political right is arguing that anti-Trump rants from the left -- including casting white males as the political enemy -- have given license to this kind of thing. The two sides will slap-fight each other over this on social media, in anonymous and hateful comments under online news stories, and they'll slap each other in the journals.
And this is how we craft political weapons from human misery.
But there is another kind of politics at work here as well, the politics of
You weren't in the meetings and neither was I, but you can envision them huddling in three distinct groups: One group with
Foxx seemed to never miss a camera during the Laquan McDonald controversy. When that video finally surfaced after the mayoral election, showing the white cop shooting a black kid 16 times, Foxx won her election.
She was all over the news then, but for this case, she was rather reserved, though her office pressed the charges.
And Emanuel, hoping to rehabilitate himself with black voters after the way he handled the McDonald fiasco, waited until the water was warm.
Most of it was left to Johnson, and he made sure to hit his main political talking point early in his news conference last week, as the charges were read and national news was made.
"There was never a question whether this incident qualified to be investigated as a hate crime," Johnson said.
The "F--- white people!" and "F--- Trump!" commentary on the video left no other options. So hate crime it was.
But what is a hate crime if not thought crime? I don't like the idea of hate crimes, because people's thoughts should belong only to them, not the government. What's important is action.
And binding and gagging a disabled man, poking at him with a knife as he cowers in a corner, carving a chunk out of his scalp as he whimpers while the kidnappers laugh, all that brutality is certainly hateful enough.
We're sickened and shocked because we watched it all on video.
But I wonder how we'd feel if we had access to those police body cam recordings, to see what cops see when they walk up and look into a victim's eyes.