Tamir Rice, the Power of the State, and What We Think is Reasonable

Shorter John Kasich: At least we’re no longer using fire hoses on you people.


So there he is, John Kasich, the moderate Republican, the sane one in the race, the one I’ve heard many not openly insane acquaintances lament is too “reasonable” to win next year’s primaries. There he is, saying basically look, we are only tacitly approving of giving the state the power to execute people on the street, and only some people anyway, so what is everybody so pissed off about?

I mean, we let you drink from our water fountains now!

I really don’t know what to do now that this is what we’re defining as the sensible center. This is the “reasonable” position, that if they shoot your 12-year-old kid who has taken his COMPLETELY LEGAL toy gun to the park to COMPLETELY LEGALLY PLAY WITH IT, you should be grateful America has moved past lynchings and Jim Crow. And you should not get riled up. Because all they did was shoot your 12-year-old. In the park. With a toy.

If this is reasonable in our politics, then reasonable is the enemy. If “reasonable” is now defined as kicking back because we’ve mostly eliminated WHITES ONLY signs, then reasonable can get fucked. This is why I have no patience for the civility argument, for the idea that if everyone just sat down and took it … I don’t know when we decided that peace was passivity, that stability was acquiescence, and that nothing in the world was so bad as some comfortably situated people being inconvenienced. Nothing in the world is so bad as that, not even a 12-year-old. Being shot in the park. BY THE STATE.

Because you can jaw on all you want about black-on-black crime and “why don’t those people protest when INSERT NAME OF CAUSE” and “this one time a black guy cut me off in traffic and he was a piece of shit.” You can dig up dirt on every young man killed by the cops, on everybody who was on drugs or had a baseball bat or lived in That Neighborhood or deserved it somehow. What you can’t get past, what I can’t believe we’re not talking about, is that giving cops carte blanche to shoot black people is giving the state a license to kill.

Which it already has, in the forms of economics, capital punishment, environmental degradation and not-so-benign neglect, I suppose, but stay with me here.

This is not about who wasn’t an angel and who shouldn’t have been there and who thought they saw something they didn’t see. This is about what you empower the state to do. Full stop. These men wear our uniforms and they act in our name and if they do this without any consequences then they do this with our sanction.

None of these Republicans who like to jaw on about the overreaching power of the government seem to mind it executing minors without trial. Even that asshole Rand Paul, who gets awfully shirty about drone-bombing wedding parties overseas and spying on American citizens, is fundraising and making fun of Marco Rubio and saying absolutely nothing about state-sponsored killings in this case.


If your cause, if your concern, if the fundamental operating principle of your entire approach to governing is the limit of state power, and you don’t care about police killings, you’re a fool and a fraud and I don’t even want to hear it anymore.

If your response, your genuinely reasonable and moderate and centrist and God-Almighty-am-I-sick-of-hearing-this SANE response to the state-sanctioned execution of a 12-year-old boy in a park with a toy is that hey, things are not as bad as they used to be, you do not get to stand on a debate stage and talk about the way your party used to stand for something.


2 thoughts on “Tamir Rice, the Power of the State, and What We Think is Reasonable

  1. Well said. And well combined with other article immediately after this one, pointing out an extreme use of the passive voice.

    Should I assume it was preferable for the kid to be executed over being sprayed with a firehose ?

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