As has becoming depressingly standard these days, Republicans understand implicitly that their role is to find any reason, any reason whatsoever, to justify the de facto legalization of senseless, random murder of black men at the hands of police. So it was in the aftermath of the non-indictment of Daniel Pantaleo for his vicious—and taped!—murder of Eric Garner, who Pantaleo was taped holding in a chokehold while Garner begged for his life. Garner was guilty of nothing more than selling loose cigarettes on the street, something to keep in mind for white people next time you bum a cigarette off someone. Bet you had no idea that being allowed to live while doing so is yet another white privilege, but now you know. Republicans aren’t about to venture into the scary territory of suggesting the police should lose their apparent right to summarily execute random black men for the hell of it, and so the bullshit excuses are coming fast and furious.
As protesters hit the streets in New York City and around the country Wednesday night, Congressman Peter King (R-NY) appeared on CNN and delivered an extended defense of the police killing of Eric Garner. King said that the officer, who employed an illegal chokehold to bring Garner down, was just doing his job. Ultimately, King pins says Garner was actually responsible for his own death: “If he had not had asthma, and a heart condition, and was so obese, he would not have died from this.”
As a side note, I grew up with fairly severe asthma—the kind that thankfully fades into nothing with adulthood—and so I can tell you that panic causes your bronchial tubes to shut down more, neatly proving there is no intelligent designer/god that loves us. The feeling like your body is betraying you and closing down your ability to breathe feels like drowning. It is terrifying.
Setting aside the idea that Garner somehow brought asthma onto himself—when the rise in adult asthma seems to be an environmental phenomenon—what King is implying here is that police standards and protocols should start from the assumption that everyone is a healthy 25-year-old who is of “normal” weight. A standard King can stand behind because while he also couldn’t survive being held to that standard, he also knows no cop will ever put him in a chokehold like that. I don’t even really see the point in arguing this, but for fuck’s sake, being obese or having chronic illnesses is not a crime and it sure as shit shouldn’t be an excuse to summarily execute someone.
In 2010, the New York State Legislature passed a law raising taxes on cigarettes purchased in New York City to $5.85 per pack of 20 cigarettes.
Fast-forward four years: A U.S. senator is blaming the politician that created that law for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in New York City in July 2014.
“I do blame the politician,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, explained on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” “We put our police in a dangerous situation with bad laws.”
Or we could just ban police murdering people for misdemeanor criminal violations. I mean, for real, instead of just saying we do and then being like, nah, when it comes to enforcing that law.
“I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes,” Paul said. “So they’ve driven cigarettes underground so as not to make them so expensive.”
The notion that ending cigarette taxes will somehow cure overly aggressive policing is so idiotic that it takes about two seconds to disprove. After all, it’s legal to have toy guns in parks. It’s legal to buy toy guns at Walmart. It’s legal to cosplay with toy swords. But in the past few months, two young black men and one boy have been murdered for these totally legal behaviors. What tax repeal would have saved them, asshole? I guess Paul is giving up his quest to win over black voters by invoking his supposed opposition to the police state. Instead, he’s making excuses for it and blaming fucking taxes instead.