I got distracted this time. I wanted to talk about news stories such as “out-of-control zombie sea urchins are destroying kelp forests in our oceans” and “someone in Canada found 890 million year old fossil sponges.”
You can’t go wrong talking about zombies. Zombies never get old.
Sponges, on the other hand: The paleontologist who dug up the ancient sponges in Canada should check out the old sponges and scouring pads I’ve been saving for eons next to the kitchen sink. I never throw them away. The old ones get better when they turn crusty. There’s a message there for all the young kids, afraid to age.
I’d have gone on like that for another 600 words, but I decided to save it for a slow news week. So I checked out what was in The Seattle Times.
One thing that amazes me about the controversy over whether the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol was an insurrection is that the same people who say it wasn’t are the ones who thought CHAZ, later CHOP, was a full-blown antifa/communist “takeover of Seattle.” People who have never been to Seattle and have no idea how large the city is and how miniscule the occupied zone was in comparison (three or four blocks of side streets and two city blocks worth of park space) nevertheless thought the Marines should be sent in to “take Seattle back” with a day or two of airstrikes, to soften up the rebel encampments.
But the people who stormed the Capitol building? They were all peaceful, except for the ones who weren’t. Those were antifa infiltrators.
The Seattle police — half of whom seem to be Trump supporters, while the other half are trying hard to appear not to be thinking about it — have been arguing over the police reactions to the protesters during CHOP.
This recent, related Seattle Times headline tickled me pink: “Seattle police commander files $5.48 million claim, alleging Chief Diaz falsely blamed him for ‘pink umbrella incident.’”
The pink umbrella incident involved a protester, his pink umbrella (they almost all had umbrellas that day to deflect pepper spray and mace; this one was pink) and a police officer. There was some sort of tug of war over the pink umbrella.
So, I read the article. I have to say I’m getting old, and I don’t read as well as I should. I may be missing something, but it seems like there is absolutely no doubt that the officer involved in the tug of war was not the one now suing for being blamed for it.
Well, anyway, what matters is that the police are arguing about who should’ve been blamed for wrestling over a pink umbrella, while the civilian protesters who were there are still angry that they had to use umbrellas to fend off tear gas and pepper spray during a peaceful protest.
The police: “Who tugged on that guy’s umbrella?
The crowd: “There they come again with the flashbangs, the pepper spray and the tear gas.”
The police: “Oh, for shame, look at that one bad apple. He must be demoted.”
The crowd: “Here comes two gross of bad apples rolling at us from the east! Everyone, run west!”
I’m always learning new facts. It turns out we have a Seattle Office of the Inspector General for Public Safety. I have no idea who or what that is, but it’s abbreviated OIG and, a couple of weeks ago, it released a report that says the police might have done a better job of dealing with the protesters if they were allowed to express sympathy to them. Like, if they could have said to them, “You’re right, George Floyd should not have been murdered.”
They didn’t say such things, because police department policies strongly discouraged that kind of behavior. The OIG thinks it would help if those policies were eased.
I don’t know. I now have an image of a police officer advancing toward me in full riot gear, holding a baton in one hand and pepper spray in the other, shouting, “I totally sympathize with the cause that brought you here to protest! I am entirely on your side!” And then he pepper sprays me and moves on to sympathize with someone else.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more of the Aug. 4-10, 2021 issue.