Re: Oscar not grouchy

1

Not guilty of murder: potentially still guilty of culpable homicide.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:17 AM
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Shoot through a closed door, save years off your prison term.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:18 AM
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Ok, I actually saw this on CBS this morning.

(1.) Not guilty of premeditated murders (which is a higher standard than) US premeditation required for murder 1.

Legal pundits did not expect him to be convicted of that.

It was a toss up between (2.) intentional killing and (3.) culpable homicide.

He *was* foudn guilty of culpable homicide. Might get no sentence though.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:18 AM
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Okay, ajay is probably right about no decision having been made on culpable homicide.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:20 AM
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3.last: I don't think he was... the verdict on that isn't due until tomorrow. Judge adjourned the court before giving her actual verdict, so far we've just had comments that rule out a guilty murder verdict.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:21 AM
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So the judge is playing Guess Who with verdicts or something?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:23 AM
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People are going to be so pissed when tomorrow they issue a verdict on the charge of remodeling without a permit and postpone the culpable homicide verdict until Monday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:32 AM
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She seems to have walked right up to pronouncing him guilty of culpable homicide, and then adjourned. To give him time to escape! #falseflag! Anyway, I sure am glad the judge is a black woman.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:41 AM
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Is "culpable homicide" the crime we provincials know as "manslaughter"?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:42 AM
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To give him time to escape! run away


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:44 AM
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9: I think so, yes.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:46 AM
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Is "culpable homicide" the crime we provincials know as "manslaughter"?

From what I gather, that's about right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 7:46 AM
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South African law is some weirdo hybrid civil law system with common law stuff thrown in, like Louisiana, I think. It seems like he's going to be convicted of something like what California would call second degree murder (ie either intent to kill without premeditation or reckless murder) but, confusing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:50 AM
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"Culpable homicide" sounds more like what we'd traditionally call "depraved heart murder" in the US (ie, the murder is unintentional but comes about through conduct that's so extremely reckless as to show an indifference to human life), which is not manslaughter. There's also something called "dolus eventualis" which, what?, but sounds more like second degree intentional murder without premeditation, also not manslaughter. But who knows.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 8:59 AM
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reckless murder

Isn't that when you shoot up a whole room instead of just a clean shot to the head?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:07 AM
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15: Example. You drive around like crazy, swerve into a stop sign, continue to drive and swerve into a utility pole, continue to drive and run over a pedestrian.

Your behavior represents a depraved indifference to safety, and therefore the value of human life. That qualifies as intent to kill for purposes of murder.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:13 AM
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I'm pretty sure 16.1 was intended as an imperative.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:14 AM
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Speaking of culpable homicide, is this video going to be the Zapruder film of the Michael Brown shooting?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:32 AM
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Jeez, at this point is there anyone who wasn't there watching?

Also, "The man on the left in the pink shirt says..." Is this some sort of new usage of the word left?


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:49 AM
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18, 19: Tell me about it in words? I can't watch video at work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:52 AM
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Apparently CNN found another witness repeating more or less the same story as the other ones. The interesting bit about it is that there's cellphone video of shortly after the shooting where you can hear him shouting about it, saying that Brown's hands were up when he was shot, which, I guess, gives it a bit more weight as a story since there's less likelihood that he's misremembering things.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:55 AM
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20: Video shows a witness to the shooting, saying, in essence, "WTF, he was going like this [raises arms in the air]. He wasn't a threat to anybody."

The similarity to the Zapruder film is that it's very hard to square with the official account of events, even as it doesn't conclusively show what actually happened.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:57 AM
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19.2: he is on the left. He's on the left of the other guy, in the green shirt. (Though on the right of the picture.)

20: it's cellphone video of two guys standing by a pickup talking about the shooting. You don't actually see shooting, and it doesn't cover the period of the shooting - it's filmed several minutes after the shooting, as the police are starting to close off the crime scene. You can apparently just see the scene in the distance.

It doesn't really add anything at all, as far as I can tell.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:58 AM
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Is there any support at all for the police story, that Brown was 'charging' at the time of the fatal gunshots? I think all the witnesses I've seen stories from are uniform in agreement that he was turned around, hands up, and either motionless or at most staggering a bit forward.

Eyewitness evidence may be unreliable, but at some point it's overwhelming.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:59 AM
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It doesn't really add anything at all, as far as I can tell.

In civil litigation, I'd think of a contemporaneously recorded account as much weightier than an after the fact recollection. I mean, this is a short time frame, so even the after the fact recollections are fairly fresh, but an account from minutes after the events is a big deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:03 AM
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This guy (or one of them they talked to at least) seems to be supporting the "staggering a bit forward" story, but I'm not entirely certain. He also talks about a second cop showing up with gun drawn, but I'm not sure of the timeline on that and "if you show up to a place where there has been shooting it's ok to draw your gun first before you walk around checking things out" seems like a pretty solid rule.

Also, speaking of these sorts of things, they released the surveillance video of the guy's arrest on the skyway.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:04 AM
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Come to think, I'm not sure there is a police story. Is "charging" from something official, or is that all leaking?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:08 AM
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27: Good question. The police are probably smart enough not to go on the record with any specific story until all the evidence is smoked out.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:13 AM
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Nothing I've heard yet has moved me off my initial opinion that if the officer isn't convicted of something, that's a serious miscarriage of justice. If there's something that made this a justified shooting, I haven't seen any evidence in support of it yet.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:16 AM
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I predict that the official story that emerges will be something like, "under the circumstances and in the heat of the moment--just seconds after Brown had viciously assaulted him--a reasonable officer in Wilson's shoes could have believed that Brown was charging him, and that's what Wilson actually believed when he made his split-second decision to shoot."

26.2: Jesus christ that police union statement is foul and disgusting.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:21 AM
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13: South Africa is a common law system. It is a hybrid of Roman-Dutch common law and British common law (substantive law tends to come from the Roman-Dutch system and procedure from the British system, although that's obviously not always clear cut). And I believe that criminal law haw been mostly written into statute but it's possible that's only true of sexual assault and not other categories of criminal law.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:23 AM
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he is on the left. He's on the left of the other guy, in the green shirt

I feel like there's always arguments about who's farther to the left, the pinks or the greens.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:24 AM
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Is "charging" from something official, or is that all leaking?

I though it was a trial balloon. "Hey, maybe the kid was charging. You guys buying that?"


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:24 AM
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30.1: If that prevails in court -- the eyewitnesses were accurate, but under the circumstances staggering a bit justifies deadly force -- that's an outrage.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:25 AM
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25: good point. I hadn't thought of that.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:30 AM
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Roman-Dutch common law

We'd usually call that civil law, here, but I get what you mean, I think, in that there's not a Code, just an accretion of precedent but with the precedent largely based on Roman/continental law, not English law. Louisiana is pretty similar, in that the procedure (with some weird words) is largely identical to other courts in the US, but the substantive private law comes originally from Roman or French law.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:32 AM
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31: Sarabeth, I thought you and I had something special, and now you're going around sharing your knowledge of South African crime with that cad Halford.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:33 AM
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I believe that criminal law haw been mostly written into statute but it's possible that's only true of sexual assault and not other categories of criminal law.

Wasn't there a wave of codification of criminal law in the 1950s to protect the flanks apartheid, so to speak? My memory is hazy.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:38 AM
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In other words, I'm givin' you a chance to come back to me, baby.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:38 AM
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Even California still has some vaguely civil-Roman law tradition in it, mostly in family law (most importantly,Community Property) and probate, but we do formally have "Codes" that are theoretically supposed to be kinda sorta like civil law codes but in practice aren't at all. Lesson: being the first colonizer matters a lot.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:38 AM
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Is "charging" from something official, or is that all leaking?

I think largely from this (go to 6:28 to hear the exchange) where a supposed witness pretty clearly describes Brown has having " he doubled back toward him" (Wilson) and then " but he kept coming toward him" while Wilson is shooting.

I haven't seen any evidence

Me neither, which is why I won't be getting off the fence yet. Just about all we have evidence wise is the autopsy from the family in which qualified ME's are confident that he was shot from the front but say Brown's hands could have been up or in front of him at the time.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:45 AM
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26 is making me think it's $$ time for Lollie. From that bank surveillance it looks like Lollie sits for a few minutes in a chair really godamn close to a public skyway and AFAICT gets up and leaves prior to the cops arrival. Which means it's pretty likely they illegally detained and tased the guy. The city's going to be having to get out their checkbook on this one, and rightfully so.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:52 AM
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" but he kept coming toward him"

This is perfectly ambiguous. "Doubled back" does sound like a claim that Brown did more than stagger forward, but the "kept coming" could equally well be Wilson kept coming toward Brown as the reverse. But you're right that that might be a witness saying Brown was moving toward Wilson. (Relying on transcripts -- not listening to anything at work).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:54 AM
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If there's a witness at trial supporting a story that sounds as if Wilson might have a reasonable self-defense justification, then I'm sure he'll walk regardless of the other witnesses.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 10:56 AM
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26.2: Jesus christ that police union statement is foul and disgusting.

Seconded.

The city's going to be having to get out their checkbook on this one, and rightfully so.

I hope so, and I'm glad to hear you say that. I'd read the story when it was posted on unfogged, but I finally watched the cell phone video, a couple of days ago, and it was appalling.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:02 AM
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41 - In the front, not from the front. (Which doesn't rule out that he was shot from behind, given that some of the shots are in places on the arm that would be facing behind him if he was running/walking away.)

The ambiguity on the 'coming toward him' is probably what's going to keep Wilson from being charged with anything, though. I think it's a fair bit more likely that this means either Wilson was going towards Brown, or that Brown was staggered forwards a step or two with his hands up, but it's close enough to the story that the police (behind a decent shield of plausible deniability) seem to be putting out there.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:07 AM
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that police union statement is foul and disgusting

It really doesn't help the cause of liberal solidarity with the labor movement that the last unions left standing before their ultimate extinction will be the the police, the prison guards, and the NFL Players Association.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:15 AM
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Well, that recording isn't something that would come into court itself, the witness would have to testify, at which point the ambiguity would be resolved. From what's on the transcript, they haven't ruled out a story compatible with some threat to Wilson, but they're certainly not committed to it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:16 AM
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47: the prison guards

In California that is the absolute worst union! And now, my little timer has gone off telling me that my break is done, and I'm off to ....work. Heaven forbid.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:30 AM
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Louisiana is pretty similar, in that the procedure (with some weird words) is largely identical to other courts in the US, but the substantive private law comes originally from Roman or French law

Just to nitpick, this is true in Louisiana for areas of the law like contracts and property, but for criminal law there's a code and case law. If you walked into a criminal courtroom in Louisiana, it would be pretty much like anywhere else in the US, except maybe more seersucker and definitely longer prison sentences (often at hard labor!).


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:33 AM
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knecht, I can't resist you.

There have been a few waves of codification, first in the Native Territories (Transkei) in the 1880s, and again in the 1950s as the apartheid state created massive new categories of criminal activity. Obviously, racialized out the wazoo - for most of the 20th century there's been major differences in criminal law for white and black South Africans. From 1927-1994, most "petty" crimes were governed by customary law for black South Africans (there was a long list of exclusions).

South Africa does have similarities with European civil law countries - lack of juries is a big one. I am actually not 100% sure when those disappeared; they were around into the early 20th century.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:42 AM
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It really doesn't help the cause of liberal solidarity with the labor movement that the last unions left standing before their ultimate extinction will be the the police, the prison guards, and the NFL Players Association.

Then the NFL draft will be compulsory, and NFL employment will be at-will (that is, you play when they will you to).

Imagine a real-life Breaking Madden series. Bet it'd sell lots of commercials.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:49 AM
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I believe the actual real world governing principle of Louisiana law is "did your lawyer and the judge go to high school together/recently have lunch together at Galatoire's.". This may be unfair, I've never actually had a case there, just heard stories.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:54 AM
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A colleague of mine is very proud of his participation in a hearing in Louisiana, where the local adversary referred to him and other out of town lawyers, according to the official transcript, as carpet boogers.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:03 PM
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You guys are insufficiently cynical. The massive difference between the latest two witnesses and the prior four (!) is that the two new ones are white.

I was appalled that several mainstream news articles on the new witnesses actually used the framing, "Unlike the other four witnesses, all of whom either knew Mike Brown, lived in the apartment building, or worked in the neighborhood, these two are contractors from outside." Yeah, those people who also lived in the apartment complex! Definitely not reliable witnesses! Bad crime witnesses, to live nearby a crime. Bad!


Posted by: ttiW | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:08 PM
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Why isn't the Walmart shooting getting any traction? I barely see anything about it, and it keeps sounding more and more ludicrous.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:09 PM
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56: The family is pressuring Walmart to release the security footage. Color of Change has a petition going around it.

It's a huge topic among the black Twitter activists I follow and activists I know in person, but it has definitely not broken through into the mainstream. Vox even had his name wrong in their article (it's John Crawford).


Posted by: ttiW | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:15 PM
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Here's the petition:

http://colorofchange.org/campaign/tell-walmart-release-tapes/original_email/


Posted by: ttiW | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:21 PM
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lack of juries is a big one. I am actually not 100% sure when those disappeared; they were around into the early 20th century.

As I recall, juries are mentioned in Cry, the Beloved Country (published 1948, right at the end of the pre-Apartheid era). The defense counsel tells Stephen Kumalo he will request the case be heard by a judge without a jury, because he thinks a judge is more likely to show mercy.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:21 PM
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Nothing's happening with Victor White's killers either right? He's the LA guy so desperate to kill himslef that being unarmed in handcuffs in the back of a police car wasn't enough to stop him.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:23 PM
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60: Yeah. NBC got hold of the coroner's report, which contradicts the police claims (says he was shot in the front, not the back) but still concludes that he shot himself. Despite the fact that police had searched him twice before putting him in the car, and presumably would have found the gun.


Posted by: ttiW | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:27 PM
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Is "charging" from something official, or is that all leaking?

According to Vox, "an unverified source purporting to be a friend of Wilson's told a conservative radio show that Wilson said Brown was charging at him."

So, you know, that sounds credible.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:33 PM
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Ok, I looked it up - juries were abolished in 1969. They were never used as often as in the US. Magistrates' jurisdiction kept getting expanded in the colonial period, and I think the request by a black defendant not to have a jury trial was pretty common in the first half of the 20th century.

The article I read on abolition was interesting; it was done partly to deal with racist white juries, which is notable since this was the apartheid state. I guess the racism of white juries undermined the efforts of even the apartheid state to maintain order?


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:33 PM
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Mystery lady, you have a chirality problem-- t isn't symmetric in this typeface, so maybe you were looking for "ʇʇıM"


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:33 PM
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Every time someone cites "charging" I want to quip "take away his credit card!" but I know it wouldn't be funny.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:35 PM
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It really has been a horrible month or two, unjustified-appearing-shootings-wise.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:38 PM
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Despite the fact that police had searched him twice before putting him in the car, and presumably would have found the gun.

God, I wish. Off the top of my head I can think of at least two incidents of this in the last 18 months in my department alone. And we're not talking a derringer crammed up in someones ass (that happened as well, it fell out at jail) but full size automatics like you see in a cop's holster.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:46 PM
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66: Best available estimate says 83 people killed by police between Michael Brown's death and Sept 1. Obviously the circumstances of those shootings differ.

But data is horribly inadequate because there's no national mandate to collect it.


Posted by: ttiW | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:47 PM
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How do you miss a gun during a search? Once the guy is cuffed and subdued-ish?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:48 PM
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Probably depends on how big the guy is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:52 PM
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Actually, I'm curious. My outsider perspective is that police are sometimes cursory about searching because of a discomfort with searching people's intimate areas. Is that ever true in your experience, gswift?


Posted by: ttiW | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:54 PM
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It would be great if there were some mitigating circumstance but I'm talking about a couple normal sized skinny tweakers with full sized handguns in the waistband. Just straight up shitty/lazy searches that are emptying the pockets of the guy and not much else.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:57 PM
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71: Totally. Sometimes guys aren't real keen on feeling around the area of a low riding waistband and getting near a dude's package.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:58 PM
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Who keeps their gun in their pockets?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:59 PM
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We used to sneak whiskey into games by shoving the bottle down the front of our waistband. Then somebody started a policy where they now pat you right above your genitals. So I stopped going to games.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 12:59 PM
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74: People who don't like their testicles or pants.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:01 PM
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And it would totally be possible for a flexible guy in cuffs to get a gun out and shoot himself in the side. You can't leave things like cell phones on their person because the younger and/or flexible people can totally get it out and be making phone calls from the back of a cruiser, with the phone surpisingly close to their ear. I've seen it firsthand on several occasions.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:06 PM
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I have a special fondness for Plaxico Burress.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:06 PM
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Breaking Madden is the funniest thing ever.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:10 PM
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I can slip cuffs down past my waist and feet until my hands are in front of me. But I'd probably just play Tetris on my phone.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:11 PM
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I can get out of breath just trying to pick something up off the floor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:12 PM
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At this point, heebie, I'm sure even the worst search would reveal you are pregnant.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:14 PM
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The worst search would probably get anyone pregnant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:15 PM
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What about a post-menopausal dude?


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:18 PM
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Breaking Madden is the funniest thing ever.

I like the one where he broke the game, literally. Weird.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:20 PM
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84: If it happened to him, wouldn't that be an awful search?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:22 PM
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I suppose I would also refresh Unfogged. I don't know who I'd want to call, is what I'm saying.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:23 PM
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And it would totally be possible for a flexible guy in cuffs to get a gun out and shoot himself in the side.

But (according to ttiW's link in 61) the coroner says he was shot in the chest, not the side; and the police said he was shot in the back, not the side, and that his hands were cuffed behind his back at the time. Shooting yourself in the chest with your hands cuffed behind your back seems like it would be pretty difficult no matter how flexible the guy is.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:29 PM
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Well, see 80.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:30 PM
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Eggplant can play jumprope with his arms in cuffs.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:30 PM
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88: The quote in that link is "The bullet entered his right chest and exited under his left armpit." Which is consistent with the kind of things I've seen people do with cell phones while cuffed behind their back.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:36 PM
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Wait - Eggplant aside - was he shot on the same side as his hands were cuffed, or not? If his hands were cuffed in back and he was shot in front, how is that something people do with their cell phones? (And were they shooting...selfies?)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:43 PM
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I'm not denying that someone with their hands cuffed behind their back can, if sufficiently flexible, get their hands in front of them. But the police police statement said "White had his hands cuffed behind his back when he shot himself in the back."


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:47 PM
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That seems plausible to me, if the gun is in the back of his pants. The problem I see is if his hands are in back and he's shot in the chest.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:49 PM
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Right, I'm totally prepared to believe that he could still have gotten at an undiscovered gun. But surely the police statement reflects where White's hands were post-mortem. So we're talking about a guy so flexible he slips his hands under his feet, shoots himself in the chest, and then before bleeding out or whatever slips his hands back behind his back? Impressive flexibility.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:51 PM
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I think gswift is saying he's seen people with their hands cuffed behind their back get cell phones forward to a position kind of under one arm. If you had a gun in that position -- a bit forward of your right armpit, facing left and back -- you could shoot yourself as described. This still sounds way less likely to me than that someone else shot him, but not impossible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:52 PM
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What LB said. It sounds like his hands were cuffed behind and the bullet went sideways through his chest. Try it, put your hands behind your back like their cuffed and try and pull your hands up and put your index finger on the side of your ribs or chest. I can do it and I'm not particularly flexible. I've see people get their cell phones pretty far up towards their ear in the same manner. Those same people could easily get a handgun up to the right side of their chest.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:53 PM
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Jesus christ I'm inflexible. Especially right now.

(Although I discovered that Hokey Pokey, age 3, cannot touch his toes. Hawaii kept explaining to him that he had to keep his knees straight, and he'd argue "It hurts the back of my legs and I can't reach my toes if my knees are straight. Age 3! I think I could touch my toes until fourth grade or so.)

(I remember in middle school, during the sit-n-reach, that I couldn't reach the lip of the box that extends 6 or 7 inches towards you, past your feet.)

(I'm realizing I've told this story, because last time someone linked to a picture of a sit-and-reach box.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 1:59 PM
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It really depends what they meant by "the bullet entered his right chest".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:00 PM
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I'm not particularly loose in the shoulders either but I've seen people scratch their ear with their hands cuffed behind. And there's the Eggplant types who have arms like orangutans and just slip their hands under their feet like nothing.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:02 PM
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87 is another cry for help with an OkCupid profile, right? Maybe the orangutan-arms thing will help.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:04 PM
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97: OK, thanks, I see what you mean now. Still seems very far fetched, if not quite physically impossible (still not sure I buy getting it at the kind of angle that would be necessary to go in the right chest and out the left armpit, but obviously I have no idea what I'm talking about so I'll leave the forensics to the experts). But it's still completely implausible as something that would actually happen--surely if they guy was trying to kill himself from that position that would be the least obvious way of doing it. If a suicidal guy this flexible can get a cellphone to his ear, wouldn't he point the gun at his head? Again, not impossible, people do weird shit, but come on. And no test for GSR, I guess because who on earth would question that this was a suicide so why bother?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:05 PM
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98.(1): I was and am Hokey-Pokey. I've never in my life been able to touch my toes, and it's always hurt the same ligament/tendon in back of my knees.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:10 PM
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surely if they guy was trying to kill himself

I wonder how confident they are that it was intentional. You often start getting an inkling the dude has something that was missed in the search because he's squirming around like crazy in the back of the cruiser trying to get it out and ditch it under the seat or something. I think we can assume that's not a safe way to manipulate a loaded handgun.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:11 PM
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I just checked and I can also do the hands around and under the feet thing, and I'm a fat man stocky a gentleman of substance. So I suspect many people here could manage it as well (though it doesn't seem to be what this guy supposedly did).


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:12 PM
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So he's trying to ditch it under the seat (or something) by lifting it up to his right chest and pointing it toward himself, with a finger on the trigger? Also strikes me as highly implausible, if not physically impossible. Plus the cops (according to the article) told the coroner that White had "intimated" that he was going to kill himself before going ahead and doing so, so I guess they didn't think it was an accident.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:18 PM
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If you are messing around with a gun, with handcuffs on, trying to bring it around to your front, I don't think an accidental discharge is entirely unlikely.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:18 PM
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I don't think an accidental discharge is unlikely under those circumstances. I'm just having trouble imagining the part where you put the gun up to your chest on the way to ditching it under the seat. But that may be just a failure of imagination on my part.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:21 PM
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104: Boy, I'd believe that someone flexible might shoot themselves that way on purpose, but that seems like right at the limits of possibility, and doing it accidentally even less likely. To get the barrel pointed at your chest, you'd need your hands the length of the gun forward/to the side of your chest, and the gun pointed back towards you.

An accidental discharge, sure. But one that hit you at that angle?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:26 PM
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I just watched the CNN video knecht linked. It sure seems like game over for Wilson. Outraged white guy puts his hands up and yells "He had his fuckin hands up!" And he repeats the same story we've heard: Brown says "ok ok ok" and turns with his hands up, and then Wilson kills him. The part that puts it all together is that the guy then told a reporter that Brown "staggered dead after the second shot 20-25 feet. He was like a walking dead guy." The other white guy in the video corroborated to a reporter that Wilson fired at Brown while Brown was running away.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:30 PM
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But I really don't know, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:30 PM
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I should have just read the entire article. It was a .25 cal, which are often tiny (example) A .25 is the kind of thing you can feasibly conceal so that it's not easy to find in a search and also manipulate in a way to shoot yourself.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:33 PM
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The whole Ferguson situation just seems to get worse and worse. Protests (and arrests) still on-going, no obvious détente between cops & the community, no gestures of goodwill from the city or the cops, officer Wilson still on paid administrative leave... it's like an experiment in how to foment revolution.

I wonder if this will actually be a turning point in American racial issues.

The Walmart shooting is just incredible, and doubly so in light of the (crazy) white open-carry advocates who walk into stores with actual guns and expect respect if not admiration.


Posted by: parodie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:38 PM
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Re: 103

Have you tried PNF stretching or tensing the quads while doing it?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:44 PM
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The person who seems most responsible for the Walmart shooting is the white doofus who called it in. Apparently his account is contradicted by the (unreleased) surveillance video, and he claimed to be an "ex-Marine" but was thrown out after 7 weeks. He basically SWATted Crawford, and got him killed.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:45 PM
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What a cute little gun! I bet those things are everywhere around me and I'm just so blissfully unaware. Argh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:45 PM
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What's PNF stretching? When not pregnant, I can't get far past my knees.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:46 PM
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115: He's a terrible person, and I hope he develops a drinking problem. But the man who fired the shots that killed the guy isn't excused because someone lied to him, when he had eyes to see the situation for himself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:46 PM
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Oh, I agree. The cops fucked up, but if you have a call that a guy is waving a gun around and seems to have just loaded it, you're primed to fuck up.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:49 PM
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And I hope he gets prosecuted.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:49 PM
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I can't get far past my knees

This is amazing. I'm tempted to text my wife and have her come back with some horrible diagnosis, but probably you're just freakishly inflexible.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:50 PM
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Re: 117

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/PNF_stretching

You need to be careful about overdoing it or doing it cold, but it can really help increase range of movement if used carefully.

Scroll down to the Contract Relax stuff for a description of a typical method.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:51 PM
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A lot of the time it's psychological. Tensing the muscle unconsciousl. Or just very short hamstrings (which can be stretched).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:53 PM
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Just bend over and enjoy it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:55 PM
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I haven't stretched in months, but just now cold was able to almost put my palms flat on the floor. Partly this is due to orangutan arms, but partly, I feel certain, due to a kind of superior virtue philosophers have not yet identified.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:57 PM
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Wait, Victor White was shot at the police precinct? This murder talk is nuts. People, if you're a cop and going to murder a guy and you have a little throwdown midnight special piece and everything you're sure as hell not driving him to the station and shooting him, cuffed, in the back of the cruiser, with your throwdown gun.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 2:58 PM
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Something else I learned a while back is that if you just hold a stretch long enough (like, minutes), you can often extend quite a bit farther than your original limit. After a light warmup, I can generally stand and touch about an inch above my angle. But if I simply hold the stretch and go a bit lower every 20 seconds or so, I can generally get to knuckles flat on the ground.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:00 PM
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Having short, inflexible muscles allows you to sprint faster. Or that's my theory and I'm sticking with it. So all you stretchy gum types can lope along at your one speed all day long, but I can (could) zoom past (some of) you and then get the ball and then be huffing and puffing for about five minutes while I catch my breath.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:04 PM
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I, on the other hand, am both inflexible and slow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:07 PM
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Same here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:11 PM
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Re: 127

Yeah. That's part of a usual stretching regime for, say, martial arts. Long slow gentle stretches. Mixed up with PNF stretches, and dynamic stretches (not in the same part of a workout).

Right now, cold, I can stretch a couple of inches past my toes. I don't stretch much though, just enough to maintain basic range of motion (which is a bit less than I'd currently like).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:11 PM
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126: Cops shot him either impulsively or accidentally, and had to deal with where they were at the time? It doesn't have to be terribly unlikely to still be more likely than contortionist suicide.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:11 PM
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126 - I don't think there's any story in this case that doesn't look insane. I mean, either the police executed him in the most inexplicable way possible and told everyone a very strange story, or something very strange happened. I lean towards the (probably accidental) suicide story, but only because it's a bit less insane than the one where police officers decide to shoot him with a drop gun. I mean, at the least you'd think they'd do something to make the handcuffed thing less glaringly weird, or tell a story that doesn't sound quite as farcical on the face of it (why even have a drop gun at that point). The one they went with sounds close enough to "shot himself twice in the back of the head, from a distance" that they had to know there was going to be a pretty strong public reaction and they went with it anyway.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:14 PM
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133: as has been pointed out many times (often here!), criminals are not necessarily the sharpest tools in the shed.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:16 PM
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129, 130: Think how much slower you'd be if you were loosey-goosey!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:19 PM
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Yeah, and it's certainly a possibility that that is exactly what happened. And if he was at the station (or very close by it, or whatever) when it happened that would make doing anything to cover up evidence a lot trickier. This is just a situation where I'm (very slightly) more willing to believe "gruesome tragic accident" than "really dumb murder", that's all.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:21 PM
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My self-congratulating fairytale is that the limited range of motion makes me injury-proof. I bruise, I abrade, I sunburn like crazy, but I don't get joint injuries.

There's probably no basis for this in reality. On the other hand, I don't get joint injuries. (Well, I had a sore foot once that took a month or two to heal completely. And I fell on some ice last winter and the wrist I landed on wasn't right until the spring. But that's the worst ever lifetime.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:23 PM
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I have a similar theory - that when your muscles are short and thick, it's harder to pull them. If they stretch easily, they pull easily.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:32 PM
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135, 137: I know I'd be faster if I could get my ankle back to full range of motion after I injury.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:33 PM
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I generally think that each of us has a range of motion, and that what is unhealthy is when you start to lose your personal healthy range of motion - say, what you could naturally do at age 17. But I don't think there's anything to be gained by trying to achieve someone else's range of motion.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:33 PM
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after I injury.

Much less popular than the iWatch.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:34 PM
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But I don't think there's anything to be gained by trying to achieve someone else's range of motion.

But I really want to be able to kick people in the face.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:38 PM
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138: what if you have a knot in them?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:38 PM
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143: Or a fairy gremlin? Mmhmm.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:39 PM
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142: You can. You just have to wait until they sit down.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:40 PM
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I guess I could confine myself to kicking children in the face.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:41 PM
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I was going to say that "Black Twitter" sounds vaguely 70s to me, like a Dolemite movie, but on thinking about it the only 70s movie I can remember that actually uses the formulation was "Black Emanuelle".


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:42 PM
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129 -- preach it. I am so fucking inflexible it is almost insane. I dunno what the fuck happened.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:43 PM
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I just started taking taekwondo as a form of exercise and to share it with my daughters. I have many opportunities to kick children in the face since our instructor lets kids join the adult classes.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:43 PM
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I am totally a stretchy gum type with a tendency toward joint injuries, but at the moment, my SI joint has managed to lock up my hamstring, so I have a theoretically bendy hamstring that refuses to bend. This seems unfair.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:48 PM
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I don't think of myself as flexible but I do have orangutan arms. I've never experimented with handcuffs, though. (Laydeez?)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:53 PM
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Re: 142

If you can touch your toes you should be able to kick someone in the face. It only needs about that amount of hamstring stretch, and reasonable hip flexibility. Dynamic stretching, more than passive for heid-kicking.

My flexibility is not perfect at the moment. so I can only comfortably hit a same-height adult in the face with about 4 of the 6 or 7 core kicks we do.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 3:57 PM
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Right now I could kick a same-size adult in the shoulder with a front kick, the stomach with a round kick, and the crotch with a side kick. I presume things will get better as I progress.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:00 PM
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Apparently they showed the footage of the planes flying into the towers to the first graders! That seems intense. Especially without a heads up to the parents.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:04 PM
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154 is seriously deranged.

On the flex front, turns out 9 years of ballet training gave the kid a (literal!) leg up on all the jump things in the track & field unit at school sport. A bit of a pricey, time consuming method but effective.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:09 PM
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154: WTF?


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:10 PM
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Re: 153

Oddly, I could do (warmed up) round kick, side kick, inside crescent kick, and turning reverse kick, and if well warmed up, non turning reverse or hook kick all at head height. But not the front kick, where chest or maybe chin would be best I could do, and not with much power.*

It should only take a few (6?) months to reach head height on round kicks.

* frenchy kick names and techniques slightly different, but close enough.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:11 PM
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Yeah, that seems to track with my daughters. The older one tests for black belt in 6 weeks and can kick 6 inches over her own head. The younger one is a green belt (about a third of the way to black in this school) and just recently her kicks have gotten way higher.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:16 PM
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Re: 158

Do you do leg swings/dynamic stretching in your warm-up? That and foot placement (and knee/hip alignment) on the standing leg seem to be the key things.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:18 PM
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On the flex front, turns out 9 years of ballet training gave the kid a (literal!) leg up on all the jump things in the track & field unit at school sport.

Obligatory link: Nine Years Of Ballet


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:20 PM
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Depends on the instructor, but frequently. I'm just really tight. (Gentlemunz.)


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:21 PM
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160: that is hilarious! Thanks!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:30 PM
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154 is nuts, although I guess first graders might be a little young to grasp the horror. I probably wouldn't have really understood what was happening when I was that age.

I took tumbling as a kid, and I remember the instructor telling my mother I was like a string of spaghetti: thin and flexible with no strength. I'm not really either of the first two anymore, but I haven't magically become strong to compensate. Grr.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:34 PM
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Cycling every day stretches my spine a lot: just now I palmed the floor.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:45 PM
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||
Noser had quite a bit of inflammation of the foreskin, so we had a couple of days where we had to qtip+ointment the thing up. Today, wanting to update me on the healing, he said "Daddy, I want to tell you about how great my penis feels!"
|>


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:51 PM
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I find 164 surprising; do you have an ill-fitting bike or something?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 4:59 PM
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147: Black Samson, Black Caesar, Black Gunn ( with Jim Brown as a guy named Gunn).


Posted by: cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 5:10 PM
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Fits fine; I ride in an aero position a lot though, stretched out


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 5:16 PM
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My personal stretching goal is to give my hips as much range of motion as my shoulders. It's the same kind of joint, right?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 5:18 PM
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Oh, 165. xoxox


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 5:25 PM
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168 to 165?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 5:43 PM
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167: and my personal favorite, Blackula.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 5:56 PM
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169 just reminded me that my arms are only attached to my body by a couple of pieces of meat. Ugh, I hate being aware of that.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:13 PM
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It's pretty tough meat. If you don't want to try cannibalism, the shoulder of a pig will give you a close analog.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:18 PM
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If you do want to try cannibalism, it will soon be too dark to read.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 6:19 PM
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154: First graders must never forget what they're too young to ever be able to remember.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:10 PM
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||

And the Palins are back in the news.

|>


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:28 PM
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I guess that's sort of on-topic because of the police involvement.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:28 PM
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The next inexorable step on the path to V. Putin / S. Putina 2016!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 9:50 PM
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For what offices?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:21 PM
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All of them.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:26 PM
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Even Insurance Commissioner?!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-11-14 11:48 PM
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No, because insurance commissioner is an appointed office in Alaska.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 4:32 AM
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Oh, like they wouldn't abolish the office of insurance commissioner. These people are monsters who are capable of anything.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 4:34 AM
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Culpable homicide it is.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:06 AM
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He's still on bail for another month before sentencing. That seems remarkably trusting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:35 AM
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186: That, or the judge is thinking she's not going to sentence him to any time.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:40 AM
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The article I read on abolition was interesting; it was done partly to deal with racist white juries, which is notable since this was the apartheid state. I guess the racism of white juries undermined the efforts of even the apartheid state to maintain order?

Another take is that it was part of the transition to a fascist state - juries might refuse to convict, might object to this or that particularly outrageous injustice, and if one or two did it, who knows where it would end?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:44 AM
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Or she figures it would be impossible for him to escape detection if he goes on the lam.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:44 AM
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All white guys with no lower extremities look alike.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 5:49 AM
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||

Just out of curiosity: If I'm almost halfway through The Book Thief and it's not doing it for me, do I need to hang in there any longer? A very good friend went to unusual lengths to convince me to read it, and I'm rooting for her credibility, but not enjoying the book that much. I mean, it's fine, but I'm bored.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:08 AM
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I wouldn't bother. But then I'm not on a sabbatical or in a position where I can't binge drink.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:13 AM
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As in, you've read the book and I've gotten the point? Or you just believe in bailing and drinking?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:20 AM
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The latter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:21 AM
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Bin it. I've finished it but it doesn't get much better. Don't bother starting "The Goldfinch" either, while you're at it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:29 AM
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Thanks!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:30 AM
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After the shooting, Mr. Pistorius had been prompt in calling for help, the judge said. He prayed to God and sought to resuscitate Ms. Steenkamp, a model and law-school graduate, and his behavior, the judge said, "was inconsistent" with that of someone who wanted to commit murder.

What?! His behavior was totally consistent with that of someone who had just killed his girlfriend in a fit of rage. Bizarre verdict.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:30 AM
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Whether to binge drink or not is entirely up to you, but, given you're already seeing improbable tree-climbing chickens, you may well have already made a decision on that question.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:31 AM
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He prayed to God and sought to resuscitate Ms. Steenkamp, a model and law-school graduate,

Bizarre parenthetical clause there. "He must be innocent of malice towards Ms Steenkamp; he tried to save her life even though she graduated from law school."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:32 AM
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Re: Black And the 70's. I have noticed myself talking about "black" people more. I feel like this is wrong, because I was always taught to say African American. The problem is that we have so many Haitians and recent immigrants from Africa who do not consider themselves African-American. There are also Jamaicans and people from other Caribbean nations, and I don't know which ones in advance. A lot of these people say "black" themselves, but there's the whole "a member of a group can say things that outsiders can't". There are some people of color to whom I'm very close and around whom I do say "black."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 6:42 AM
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I'm sad that my prediction of a resurgence in the use of the word Negro to refer to the ethnic group of Black people descended from southern slaves so far seems not to be panning out.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:28 AM
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200: leading to the occasional incident where Nelson Mandela is described as "an inspirational African-American leader".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:42 AM
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200: I've been confused by that. I was lead to believe that "black" is okay as an adjective (although using it as a noun, and particularly in a definite plural noun phrase, are right out), and see it as such in impartial statistical sources, etc. I had the perspective that "African-American" was more formal, more precise when precision is required, and more obviously political, but I sometimes get a vibe that "black" is wrong. But sometimes not; prominent African-Americans use "black" all the time. So, uh, it's generally okay unless somebody's offended by it, right? Maybe there are regional/age differences in acceptability?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:48 AM
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202 Didn't something like that happen to a black British Olympian? I think he was asked how it felt to be an representing his country as an African-American or something equally stupid.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:49 AM
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ugh, 204 s/b -an


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 7:51 AM
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Another peeve of mine: the gratuitous addition of the word "community" when refering the ethnic groups. Apparently it sounds too harsh to say "Blacks and Jews", so it always comes out as "The Black community and the Jewish community".

German has a lovely word meaning "fellow citizen" (Mitbürger) that serves the same function of telegraphing that the speaker is endeavoring to be politically correct ("unsere jüdischen Mitbürger"). This leads to frequent use of the absurd formulation "unsere ausländischen Mitbürger"


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:08 AM
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Another peeve of mine: the gratuitous addition of the word "community" when refering the ethnic groups. Apparently it sounds too harsh to say "Blacks and Jews", so it always comes out as "The Black community and the Jewish community".

My grandmother, OTOH, is forever offended by using words to describe disabilities in other contexts: "a blind curve", I can't remember the other examples at the moment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:11 AM
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207.last: getting legless?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:12 AM
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A golf handicap?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:14 AM
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I think "black" is inoffensive in itself, and only turns into a problem if you start saying things like "the blacks". Usage-wise, I tend to use "African-American" on a first usage, and then use "black" later on, sort of the way you use long-form and then short-form citations in a legal brief.

Specifically to 200, though, I think best practice would be to say "Haitians" if you're specifically talking about Haitians or "African immigrants" (or name a country if you're talking about people from one country).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:15 AM
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De-livering a baby?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:15 AM
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I always liked to argue that when she rephrased "a blind curve" to "a curve with poor visibility" or whatever, that it was hurtful to people with poor visibility. I'm a jerk.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:16 AM
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I do have to remind myself occasionally that "a Jewish person" doesn't mean a person who's only kind-of a Jew.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:17 AM
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Beyond the Fringe:
Peter Cook: Now, I suppose I should point out, for those of you who haven't noticed - and God knows it's obvious enough - that Jonathan and I are middle-class, while Alan and Dudley are working class. But we've been working together despite this, for some time now, and I may say it has been a very interesting experience.
Alan Bennett: Well, I suppose we are working-class. But, I wonder how many of these people have realised that Jonathan Miller's a Jew?
Dudley Moore: I suppose he gets away with it because of his ginger hair, actually.
Alan Bennett: I'd rather be working-class than be a Jew.
Dudley Moore: Oh, anyday. But think of the awful situation if you were working-class, and a Jew?
Alan Bennett: There's always somebody worse off than yourself.
Jonathan Miller: In fact, I'm not really a Jew. Just Jew-ish. Not the whole hog, you know.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:25 AM
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The way I learned it, "African-American" or "Afro-American" was created by... Jesse Jackson? to refer specifically to the descendants of slaves, who didn't know if they were Ghanaian-American, Senegalese-American, Congolese-American or whatnot. But it quickly became the polite version of "black".

Didn't something like that happen to a black British Olympian? I think he was asked how it felt to be an representing his country as an African-American or something equally stupid.

There was a story like that about Anson Carter, the Caribbean-Canadian ice hockey star. He asked to stop being referred to as "African-American" because he was neither African nor American.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:32 AM
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Did Canadians stop with the whole "We're American also" thing? That was annoying.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:34 AM
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203: Right. Once I said, "African-American hair" when asking a question of somebody who seemed pretty American, and she said she wasn't African-American, but Haitian. So then I said, "Okay, foot in mouth. Black, I guess or people who came from Africa not much more than 300 years ago."

I had an old client who used to talk about black people, and I'd always say black around her, but I'd always joke about how white I was ("might white"). We were very close, though.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:43 AM
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But it quickly became the polite version of "black".

It was Jesse Jackson, and he was explicit in wanting it to replace "black" in conversation, on the theory that every other ethnic group (Italians, Irish, etc.) enjoyed the dignity of being recognized by their national origin rather than their skin color. It's probably significant that Jackson started pushing this cause right around the time that "Oriental" ceased being acceptable usage in polite company, having been supplanted by "Asian American".


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:44 AM
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210: I do say Haitian, if I know that. And I try to find out what African country people are from. It's usually Nigeria.

But see 217. I didn't realize that the woman was Haitian.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:45 AM
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Did Canadians stop with the whole "We're American also" thing? That was annoying.

You're thinking of the Mexicans, norteamericano.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:46 AM
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217 s/b "Mighty white"


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:47 AM
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Yeah, "black" is pretty strongly supplanting "African-American" because it's a more inclusive category term for "descendants of the African diaspora," which is another term that would probably upset heebie's grandmother. I very rarely say "African-American" unless I'm talking specifically about demographics. Lee apologized to a student the other day for having called her an African-American woman and wanted to make sure that was all right, which the student said it was.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 8:49 AM
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A few weeks back Aisha Harris had an interesting account of how traveling to Africa affected her attitude about the terms "African American" and "black American," and led her to prefer the latter as a self-identification.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:08 PM
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Strangely, "Asian-American" hasn't given way to "yellow", despite continued immigration.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:15 PM
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And let's not even start on the failure of Native Americans to reclaim "Redskin."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-12-14 10:17 PM
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Whereas Selah, who calls all colors yellow at the moment, pointed to her skin and said "lellow!" and we just said "brown" but then once she was in bed joked about how we'll have to work on her retrograde colorist terminology.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-13-14 4:22 AM
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There is a self labelled American-African civic organization in my city, created specifically by and for for the more recent immigrants who don't identify as African-American. I would like to see an ethnic pride parade, or perhaps a soccer tournament, where the American-African, African-American, Indian-American, and American Indian groups all participated separately.


Posted by: Unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09-13-14 5:52 AM
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a more inclusive category term for "descendants of the African diaspora," which is another term that would probably upset heebie's grandmother.

Nope, she's strictly an activist about disability-rights. (Not entirely true - she could stake out a nonsensical position about how one must rigidly demonstrate any generally liberal position, and then defend it exhaustively, but her favorite hobby-horse was disability rights activism, for mostly legitimate career reasons.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-13-14 6:01 AM
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It's like the internet failed her by not existing back then.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-13-14 6:06 AM
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