Who Should Get Out of Jail Free?

The triple convictions of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd prompted a variety of reactions including relief, joy, renewed hope, satisfaction, release and more. There was a palpable and stated sense of rightness that justice had been done. And there was another verse to this song.

Tucker Carlson went on a fresh, yet customary extremist rant, this time declaring that public support for George Floyd is “an attack on civilization.” There’s more to his hateful outburst, but I can’t bring myself to put it here. You’ll have to link through if you want to experience his full lunacy and cruelty. And do bear in mind that this hate monger is considered a leading candidate to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

Click the pic for the story

Of course, it isn’t just Carlson saying hateful things. You can cruise the righty outposts and find lots of sticking up for the police, for example, even if they’re murderers. And no, I don’t mean the “one bad apple” defense. It’s more an absolutist devotion to turf protection, much like George W. Bush’s absolutist, “You’re either with us or you’re against us” polarization and evilization (yes, I made up that word). They are staunch supporters of “qualified immunity” for cops who violate people, giving them carte blanche to do inhumanity as they please without fear of consequences.

Perhaps America has always been this way. I’m reading Kurt Andersen’s Fantasyland to find out more. For now, just take it on faith (odd to use that phrase in this age of unreason*) that we have always had such highly opinionated absolutists who believe that whatever thought comes into their heads is a fact – the true reality – just because they believe it.

CAUTION: Don’t believe everything you think.

I heartily recommend that you look at lawfareblog.com for a thorough, even-handed and interesting description of qualified immunity. An argument offered there in favor of qualified immunity is,

” .  .  .  it would be unfair to hold government officials to constitutional rules they were not aware of at the time of the violation.”

I find that monstrously odd, in that if I violate a constitutional rule I didn’t know about, well, you know the deal: ignorance of the law is no excuse. How come it shouldn’t work that way for cops?

Lawfareblog.com also reported,

“The court wrote that ‘there is the danger that fear of being sued will dampen the ardor of all but the most resolute, or the most irresponsible [public officials], in the unflinching discharge of their duties.’”

Aren’t we all supposed to fear being sued for our malfeasance? You know, the accountability thing?

Here’s my favorite:

“When government officials are sued, qualified immunity functions as an affirmative defense they can raise, barring damages even if they committed unlawful acts”

At least that one makes sense, because every one of us has a Get Out Of Jail Free card, right? Check your wallet for yours.


April 27, 2021

Related to bad cop defenders and to Tucker Carlson in their absolutism are those who refuse to wear a mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19 because wearing a mask is such an awful infringement on their rights and their freedom.

There are tens of thousands of new cases of Covid in this country every day, but, hey, we’re only killing a few hundred of those people. After seeing the number of Covid deaths in the thousands every day for so long, perhaps we’re immune to the grim reality of the deaths of a few hundred. That’s understandable, unless you are one of them.

So, for our mask-less, I have a new offering. Please pass it along to your favorite mask refuser.

A Question For Our Mask-less

It is your right, of course, to mask or not to mask.

There’s just one curiosity, and so I’ll dare to ask.

We know that 81% of deaths are of the aged,

The old folks who succumb by going past the bad end stages.

But you aren’t in that old folks group, you’re young and strong and healthy,

And maybe you’re well-health insured, with no need to be wealthy.

And if you catch the Covid bug it’s likely that it’s true,

That you won’t get much sicker than if you had caught the flu.

All that is true, there is no doubt, and this is also true,

That Covid threat is bigger and it’s not just all ‘bout you.

Because your mask-less face is like a vacuum to the bug,

Thanks go to JA for the cartoon.

Your mouth and nose can suck it in, and you become a thug.

A thug infected even if you haven’t symptom one,

You’ll pass it on, infecting more, a virus shooting gun.

And maybe when you visit Gramps and kiss him on the cheek,

It all seems quite so normal, but that changes when you speak.

Because the bug will slip your lips and entered Grandpa’s nose,

And now he’s been infected and you know where that tale goes.

Which leads us to the question now, so here’s my single ask:

What the hell is that about when you refuse to mask?


* Nerd readers may enjoy a short book review of Our Age of Unreason; A Study of the Irrational Forces in Social Life, by Franz Alexander. In it the reviewer relates how philosophers through the ages, “.  .  .  were unable to formulate a political psychology which would enable man to bring his repressed destructive and rivalrous impulses under control for more than a brief period.” That was in 1942. Here we are now with our destructive and rivalrous impulses blazing throughout our culture in a war of irrationality.


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3 Responses to Who Should Get Out of Jail Free?
  1. Jay Becker Reply

    I recommend the work of Dr. Ruth Ben-Ghiat if people would like to learn more about just how authoritarian propaganda works. She’s a professor at NYU and author of “Strong Men: Mussolini to the Present.” She’s the guest on the latest episode of the Refuse Fascism podcast talking about “The GOP is now the Party of Autocracy.” https://anchor.fm/refuse-fascism/episodes/Ruth-Ben-Ghiat-The-GOP-is-Now-the-Party-of-Autocracy-evku35

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Thanks for your recommendation, Jay.

      Three other books are extremely valuable. One is How Propaganda Works and the other is How Fascism Works, both by Jason Stanley. You and I attended his talk a few years ago and he is extremely and frighteningly clear.

      Another book is On Tyrany by Timothy Snyder. It’s a small volume of powerful clarity about what is at our doorstep.

      Bear in mind that if 3/4 of the state legislatures – that’s 38 states – vote for it, we could have a Constitutional convention that skews our entire country into the authoritarianism that extremist Republicans now favor. As of this writing there are 30.

  2. David Lindgren Reply

    Jack, it might be helpful to pursue the need for “qualifications” for public office. If one is interviewed for a high up position, you need a resume’ that makes you qualified for the job.
    Running for President without a position of elected public service is a joke. Donald Trump was Nonqualified. Tucker Carlson? Anyone who would vote for Tucker Carlson is an anarchist.
    Let’s do some public posturing for the definition of qualifications for public office.