Thursday, May 13, 2010

Idiocracy's Finest at Work

High caliber weaponry, small-bore intellects: Stormtroopers assemble in Philadelphia, 2010 (above); their 26th Century descendants, as depicted in the film Idiocracy (below, right).

Imagine, if you can stand to, a world in which the entire population has succumbed to Hannitization, and you'll capture the dystopian future depicted in the 2006 cult film Idiocracy

The fictional future America (written and pronounced "Uhhmerica") of the year 2505 is inhabited by torpid, barely ambulatory imbeciles, in large measure because of a quasi-Malthusian population imbalance: Smart people, according to the film, reproduce arithmetically, but dimwits multiply like tribbles. The result is what Huxley's Brave New World would have been had it been populated exclusively by Epsilon-minus Semi-Morons.

Uhhmericans spend most of their time in consumption -- glutting their bellies on nutrition-free junk food (Carl's Jr. fare washed down by a "sports drink" called Brawndo), and clotting their minds with sub-puerile entertainment.

The minimal interpersonal communications that occur are transacted in a patois that is equal parts hillbilly dialect, urban slang, casual profanity, and gibberish.

Each Uhhmerican is tattooed at birth with a laser-readable UPC code that serves as a commercial interface and tracking device. As long as a particular Uhhmerican is content to be a dutiful consumer and displays no troublesome individuality, he will be left unmolested. Otherwise, his UPC tattoo will attract the immediate attention of the police, who -- in addition to packing heavy artillery and wearing body armor -- are even stupider than the common herd.

As a result of a failed human hibernation experiment, 21st-century Army clerk Joe Bauers -- the very embodiment of the term "dull normal" -- is deposited in this moronic milieu. Without a UPC tattoo, Bauers is "unscannable," and thus he quickly finds himself in prison.

Joe uses his robustly unexceptional mental skills to escape (remember, this is a society in which even Sean Hannity would be seen as marginally bright) and is pursued by the police. After the car he's in is remotely disabled, Joe and two associates flee on foot. 

Seconds later, the empty car is besieged by roughly a dozen police, who without warning simply open up on the vehicle with automatic weapons. One particularly zealous hero deploys a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, which he is holding backwards. When the trooper pulls the trigger he sends the projectile skyward. Scant seconds later, a flaming passenger jet tumbles to the ground. Nobody -- least of all the police -- notices when the airliner crashes and explodes in the distance. 

 Brawndo: It's got what plants crave.

As with any successful satire, Idiocracy uses cultural caricature to diagnose disturbing trends. 

Writer-director Mike Judge doesn't flinch from 
extravagant exaggeration,  as when he makes the U.S. President a no-holds-barred fighting champion and porn star named Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho and turns the entire population into marginally sentient bags of protoplasm. 

By way of contrast, Judge displays creative austerity in his depiction of gratuitous police violence, since -- in this particular, at least -- there is little difference between the world created in his film and the one in which we're presently living.

The 2006 death of 20-year-old Tualatin, Oregon resident Jordan Case, who was gunned down by police while unarmed and blitzed on hallucinogenic mushrooms, offers a splendid example of Idiocracy-style police overkill. On May 4, a federal jury hearing an excessive force lawsuit brought by Case's parents and stepmother deadlocked; a second civil trial will take place this fall. 

When the second trial begins, I earnestly hope that it will focus on this question: Since an unarmed, terrified 120-pound woman was able to restrain the intoxicated, 128-pound Case, why was it "necessary" for three much larger police officers (each weighing well over 200 pounds) to electrocute the young man 12 times with a Taser, and pummel him with nine beanbag rounds, before he was perforated with several gunshots fired in two separate volleys? 

A life needlessly cut short: Jordan Case (holding infant) made some terrible mistakes, and he shouldn't have barged into his neighbor's home uninvited. But he did nothing to justify his violent, avoidable death at the hands of the police. 

Just before midnight on October 21, 2006, Case -- who had consumed a large quantity of hallucinogenic mushrooms -- barged into the home of neighbor Sally Arellano, a single mother who lived with her 8-year-old daughter. 

 Arellano, who had been sleeping on the couch, awoke to see the uninvited guest in her living room. Case, who was intermittently lucid, told Arellano that he was under the influence of an hallucinogen. 

After making this admission, Case curled up on the floor, giving Arellano time to call 911 -- and then flee to her daughter's room. After Case forced the door open, Arellano and her daughter both grappled with the intoxicated man. When Officer John Jayne of the Tualatin Police Department arrived, Arellano had pinned the intruder face-down on the floor. 

At this point, Jayne said "Thanks -- I've got it now," slapping Arellano's hand like a tag-team partner and taking physical custody of the smaller man. 

One would expect that's how it happened. One would be wrong. 

For some reason, "Jayne began his own stand-off with Case, who alternated between sitting calmly on a bed and lunging at the officer," recounts Willamette Week. At one point, Case reportedly obtained an item described as "similar to a kitchen knife," something that wouldn't have happened if Jayne had taken control of him immediately. Case discarded the knife and Jayne -- along with a man identified as his "friend," Grant Collins -- "struggled" with the intruder. 

Bear in mind that we're discussing a skinny, 128-pound 20-year-old who had just lost a pinfall to a 5'2", 120-pound single mother. An adult man in decent shape -- or even a typical police officer, for that matter -- should have been able to bulldog the kid to the floor and drag him out of a home he had invaded without permission. Yet for some reason, rather than subduing the suspect, "Jayne backed out of the apartment and Case followed, leaping a fence in a single bound," continues the WW account.  

Jayne called for backup, and shortly thereafter two other officers -- Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Glenn Howard, and Sherwood Police Officer Adam Keesee -- arrived at the scene. By this time, Jayne had already used his Taser on Case, to no effect. Howard and Keesee pelted Case with several beanbag rounds, which likewise did little to slow him down. 

Case then approached Deputy Howard, who had left his car running with the door open. Howard fired his Taser at Case "for seven separate cycles," narrates the Oregonian. When that failed to subdue Case, Howard -- who at one point managed to shock himself while reloading his Taser cartridge -- drew his firearm. 

According to eyewitness testimony, Case (who, recall, had been shocked more than a half-dozen times) was staggering in the direction of Howard's patrol car -- as if he were "just trying to hold on to something" -- when the Deputy unloaded on him. Howard testified that he was concerned Case might be reaching for an MP-5 assault rifle, which was stored in a locked rack accessible through the open driver's side door. Howard also admits that he "didn't think" of closing the door to prevent Case from reaching the rifle.  

Apparently it also didn't occur to Howard -- or either of the other uniformed heroes on the scene -- to secure the rifle and move the injured suspect from the car after he had been shot and immobilized. 

One of the rounds fired by Howard had found its way into Case's chest. For two minutes the 20-year-old sat slumped against the patrol car, motionless and bleeding, while the three police on the scene conferred with each other. Although he didn't move to restrain Case or render medical aid, Howard took the opportunity to re-load his Glock.

According to the official police account, after breathing heavily for a couple of minutes Case suddenly "sprung off the ground" and reached into the still-open vehicle. Howard, who later testified that he was worried that Case might grab the still-unsecured rifle, fired several more shots. One of them penetrated Case's skull, killing him instantly. 

Given that he apparently couldn't handle the effects of consuming psychotropic fungi, Jordan Case shouldn't have done so. More importantly, he shouldn't have been trespassing, and most likely wouldn't had he been in control of his faculties. His behavior created a serious problem for his neighbor. It was the intervention by the police that turned that problem into an eminently avoidable tragedy. 

It is not a sterile exercise in second-guessing to say that four large men (three police officers and a tag-along) should have been able to restrain Case without resorting to weapons of any kind: Remember, when Deputy Jayne arrived, a 120-pound woman had Case pinned to the floor. Yet for some reason -- most likely years of indoctrination regarding ubiquitous threats to "officer safety" -- the three Paladins of Public Order were terrified of the skinny 20-year-old kid, whom they later described as displaying "almost superhuman strength and endurance."

"My level of fear is skyrocketing, 'cause he's not responding to anything," Deputy Howard later recalled, explaining his decision to unload two separate volleys with his sidearm. "You don't understand what that feels like until you actually fear for your life."

Note this well: This armed, trained Sheriff's Deputy feared for his life because he and two other law enforcement officers couldn't subdue a 128-pound kid who -- his "superhuman strength" notwithstanding -- had just finished second in a grappling match with a frightened 120-pound woman. 

The single mother who had pinned Case to the floor of her daughter's bedroom had the sand to take the boy down and hold him there, yet we're supposed to believe that a similar feat was simply beyond the capacity of three tax-fed badasses with badges. 

"Though there were ... three officers on the scene and Jordan was only 128 pounds, unarmed, outnumbered and did not make any threatening gestures toward the officers, at no point did any officer attempt to restrain Jordan without the use of the taser or other weapons," summarizes the civil complaint filed on behalf of the victim's family. "Instead, the officers elected to tase him and shoot him.... At no point did any officer attempt to calm Jordan or to communicate with Jordan in any way other than shouting threats and commands to get down on the ground."

In describing what went through his mind as he gunned down Jordan Case, Deputy Howard expresses himself in terms suitable to the world depicted in Idiocracy: "I remember thinking, unplug him, unplug him, we're f*****g done with this sh*t."

Though substantially more vulgar, Howard's internal monologue was similar in substance and intent to the words that fell from the lips of Officer Troy Meade as he executed the intoxicated Niles Meservey in an Everett, Washington parking lot June 2009: "Time to end this -- enough is enough." 

Meade was acquitted of criminal homicide by the same Idiocracy-caliber jury that rejected his self-defense claim. The Washington County, Oregon DA declined to file criminal charges against Deputy Howard, insisting that his conduct comported with the "reasonable officer" standard governing lethal force cases.  

This is to say that the combination of timidity, ineptitude, and impulsive violence displayed by Howard and his comrades in this episode is what the public should expect when they seek "help" from the police. Under the "reasonable officer" standard, summary execution is a proportionate punishment for overtaxing a police officer's patience. And things will only get worse from here because most people prefer to take refuge in comforting illusions, rather than confronting grim and potentially lethal realities.

"People have a huge emotional investment in believing  the police are on our side," explains attorney Greg Kafoury, who has represented plaintiffs in law enforcement-related wrongful death lawsuits. "If somebody sits on a jury that concludes that the police have used unlawful violence against a citizen, that's a declaration that the world is a lot scarier place than they want it to be." 

Unfortunately, reality isn't optional -- something too many residents of our proto-Idiocracy come to understand only when they find themselves on the receiving end of officially sanctioned criminal violence.


(Note: This essay has been slightly modified from the original version to clarify my views regarding Jordan Case's consumption of psilocybin.) 

Tune in each Saturday at 8:00 PM Mountain Time (9:00 Central) for Pro Libertate Radio on the Liberty News Radio Network.

Dum spiro, pugno!


JdL said...

"Jordan Case obviously shouldn't have been consuming psychotropic fungi"

Why not? Drug use should of course be done responsibly, something Mr. Case clearly did not adhere to when he invaded another's domicile. However, had he remained in his own home until the effects of the psychotropic fungi had passed, on what basis do you assert that he had crossed a "shouldn't have" line?

William N. Grigg said...

JdL, Jordan Case's conduct indicates that he clearly couldn't handle what he had chosen to ingest. Given that his consumption contributed to his needless death,
I think he would have been better off if he hadn't partaken in the first place.

Although this isn't mentioned in my article, Jordan's friends point out that he was a "veteran" when it came to consuming 'shrooms -- and yet he still couldn't, or didn't, calibrate his consumption responsibly.

The Deflation Times said...

Sad. :(

The Omega Man said...

Coming up next on The Violence Channel--all new episode of "Ow! My balls!"

This and Office Space are two of the best movies ever. Humor through uncomfortable, insightful truths.

zach said...

It's got electrolytes!!!

Something about wearing a uniform just makes most people fall down and worship. People want to think that they are on the winning team with the cops. They're not. That's why cops hate people exercising "open carry" so much. It makes the police less special.

Reid said...

I would also add that you are correct in your assessment on Biblical grounds, Mr. Grigg, when you said Case "shouldn't" have been doing mushrooms, regardless of the outcome or his prior non-lethal uses.

Anonymous said...

There may come a time when prevailing socioeconomic conditions will leave these parasites dependant upon the goodwill of the people in order to survive. Hopefully, the collective memory of the people will be long enough to cause these tax fed petty tyrants to reap what they have sown.


Militant Libertarian said...

JdL is clearly one of those "too sensitive about my only issue" types with the drugs. Sheesh. If you can't handle the dope, liquor, etc. then you SHOULDN'T be doing them. Grigg is right.

Anyway, having experienced 'shrooms before, all I can say is that they don't make you "superhuman" except in one way: they disconnect you from reality (your body) so well that you generally don't feel much of anything.

This means that mentally, he's not feeling the tasers, bean bags, etc.

On the other hand, the trade off is that it makes you unable to perform most physical activity beyond muscle-memory bare functions. So if the cops had bothered to try to grab him, as the 120# lady obviously did, he would have been easy to get in cuffs.

Idiocracy is right.

MoT said...

So around 600 pounds of Pork couldn't, or wouldn't, take physical control of this skinny dude?

Idiocracy is something of a painful film to watch. On one hand it pokes fun at the utter stupidity of America (notice they don't mention any other countries). On the other hand the world these idjits inhabit simply couldn't exist. If everyone is devolving then nothing, and I mean NOTHING, would function. Not one thing. It takes smart people acting stupidly to get what we have.

JdL said...

Reid said, "I would also add that you are correct in your assessment on Biblical grounds, Mr. Grigg, when you said Case 'shouldn't' have been doing mushrooms." Is that somewhere near the place in the Bible that says that God is mortally offended whenever someone wears wool and linen at the same time (Leviticus 19:19, Deuteronomy 22:9-11)? Apparently God is not offended by (moderate use of) alcohol, as Jesus commanded his followers to drink it in memory of Him. Is there some place in the Bible that singles out particular drugs for condemnation?

Militant Libertarian was moved to opine that "JdL is clearly one of those 'too sensitive about my only issue' types with the drugs." I'll plead guilty to believing that the drug war is at the heart of the malaise the U.S. is experiencing today. The notion that adults are not capable of determining for themselves what to put into their own bodies is central to the infantilization of Americans. Once that notion is accepted, pretty much anything, no matter how obscene, follows. As part of this malaise, there is a tendency to "blame the drugs" both from those who oppose them and those who use them ("I got drunk and don't remember a thing"). In fact, saying that "drugs" are responsible for anything is like saying that guns are responsible for murder. It is the human being who is responsible.

If, as apparently is the case (made clear by Will's response), Mr. Case knew from prior experience that he tended to act irresponsibly when high on mushrooms, then it is correct to say that he was irresponsible to continue to use them. I actually made that point in my original post, ML; perhaps you missed seeing it?

idahobob said...

Why is it, in our country, that the beastie boys, otherwise known as cops, LEO's, pigs and/or jack booted thugs, get a pass whenever they torture, maim, or murder a defenseless "civilian"?

Why are they not treated as the common criminals that they are, and not prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law, just like you and I would be, if we suffered an individual the atrocities that they do on a daily basis, somewhere in our nation?

Since the "criminal justice system" refuses to treat them like they would treat anyone else, it is high time that we bring these savage dogs to justice ourselves.

'nuff said,


Anonymous said...

It didn't take very much imagination to make that movie.

Don't police carry handcuffs anymore? I was arrested for trespassing once and I was handcuffed first thing. Not that that would have stopped them from shooting him anyway.

MoT said...

Idahobob... I was just thinking about what you said, "criminal justice system". That old cynical self of mine pondered on those words, which I've heard countless times, and a bulb went off. Ya, know sumpthin! You're right! It IS the criminal justice system because it protects criminals (the cops, lawyers and judges) "from" justice seeing as they control the "system". Woo boy! Sometimes the answers are staring us right in the face.

jdogg said...

For anyone who hasn't connected the dots, all you need to do is view the video over at of the Apache gunship mowing down more than a dozen peaceful Iraqis and then shooting up a van with kids in it.

What is blatantly evident about that video is the military, siege mentality of the crew of the Apache helicopter; who were looking for any reason at all to kill anyone at all.

This military, siege mentality is prevalent in our militarized police staffed ever more often by basket case armed forces veterans.

I wouldn't give two cents for the hides of this kind of scumbag cop when the SHTF.

Tim Lebsack said...

The police - the only group in America not required to accept responsibility when they discharge a firearm.

Anonymous said...

To MoT: Nothing IS functioning!

Anonymous said...

This clearly was more than just a case of bored cops on a sudden testosterone trip. This was a deliberate game of cat and mouse. If Will accurately portrayed the whole story (and I have great confidence that Will does not cherry-pick information to make slanted stories as the MSM does), then those cops were consciously, and by conspiracy, engaging in a set-up to justify their conscious desire to murder that stupid kid.

Yes, the kid was stupid, but then, at 20, so was I. But neither of us deserved to be hunters' game. And that is what the stupid kid appears to have been. The cops played with the kid and the truth as cats play with mice before they bite them in half.

Good Lord, we're a lot closer to the Day than I had hoped.

99 said...

This is FASCISM.

It's beyond the pale. We should be in the streets in our millions.

WHEN do we switch from rhetorically flipping out to ACTUALLY flipping out?

Tom Bionic said...

not anytime soon 99...

As flouride and toxic food wasnt bad enough, there are plans to start putting lithium in the water around the USA.

If the american public was not made so stupid by what they chose to consume, then perhaps there might be a furor over this kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

Lithium is toxic and mind altering when taken internally, but I do not see why you worry so much. It finds its way into groundwater (where it is not already present) in much the same way sodium fluorides do... as industrial byproducts/contaminants.

Think about every truck that travels the road. Lithium bearing grease, lithium 5th wheel grease, lithium (likely) transmission grease (or graphite of some sort) so one way or another, any of that grease that makes its way onto the roadway, is as good as in your drinking water and local foodstuffs. And yes, much of that grease falls to the road mixed in as grime and washes off in the rain, sooner or later into the water table and it *will* find its way into your water or veggies or meats.

Most lithium is removed directly from the body, some forms all sorts of nifty compounds. Read up on it. That stuff is everywhere and part of everything. That the government people want to put it in your drinking water is not the problem.

That you keep sanctioning those people's existence and ABILITY to do it to you, is YOUR fault for wanting government, rather than freedom. Maybe instead of voting you should have been busy thinking, living and inventing means to not depend on centralized tyrannies to "facilitate" trade.

I'm with L. Neil Smith on this one.

99 said...

I drink distilled water. I use it to make my coffee. Anything I consume requiring water. Maybe that's why I'm so appalled....

Anonymous said...

IdahoBob - no, not quite "'nuff said". If those common thugs you mention rampaged as the pigs do, there would ultimately be justice (or at least a somewhat closer approximation of that commodity than seems to presently be available) delivered at another level, from another source. Like it or not (and I do not, particularly) that is what must inevitably come next.

99: This is certainly authoritarianism. Whether or not it is fascism (which does have a specific definition) is not clear from this account.

JdL: The War on (some) Drugs was certainly a convenient vector for government to expand control by oppression. But that is what government (all government) by nature does. In fact, that is what government is *for*. If it wasn't the WoD, some other effective spectre would have materialized (or been conjured).

Anonymous said...

Actually you are probably best off filtering your water. When distilled, water loses most of its other beneficial components (sands, salts, etc). That's the problem with the government deciding what goes into your water for you, its just like drinking it straight from the source without knowing what the source IS, and what it contains. Giving up your control to nature or government results in similar outcomes... similar in that they are no longer yours to dictate or influence.

Sound familiar?