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So there was a shootout between rival biker gangs at a breastaurant in Waco, TX the other day, and now people are flipping out over the marked difference in police response and media portrayal of the incident as compared to, say, the recent riots in Baltimore.

Someday, in some far away land, I will sail across the sea, to a sun-drenched land without sorrow, where people learn to pick their damned battles with some semblance of intelligence.

No, a shootout between biker gangs in Texas is not the same thing as a riot in Baltimore.  So no, of course the police and the media aren’t treating the two events in the same fashion.

“Nobody is calling the white bikers thugs.”

Of course they’re not.  They’re calling them gang members.  Thuggishness is something of an implied quality in that instance.

“Why aren’t they calling it a riot?!?”

Because it wasn’t a riot?  A shootout, yes.  But there was relatively little of what people tend to associate with rioting; no looting, nothing was set on fire in particular, mostly there was a brawl that turned deadly and ended very quickly.

“Why didn’t the National Guard get called out?”

Because the Guard gets called out when the police can’t contain the situation.  What you’re witnessing here isn’t a difference founded in racial inequality so much as one founded in scale; the police were able to arrest the offending bikers, for the most part, and while they haven’t called in the Guard to deal with any possible repercussions, they have done things like shut down the Harley Davidson dealership in town and put snipers on the rooftops.

Bear in mind that the police were anticipating trouble at this event, and were on scene before it actually happened.  The only reason that they weren’t in the restaurant proper is because the management refused to let them station men on the premises.

“You see pictures of the police sitting around with bikers casually, while the bikers are on their cell phones!”

This one entertains me, because it assumes that all the bikers involved were “thugs”.  Odds are fair to middlin’ that the people in those shots aren’t under arrest, but are simply waiting around to give their statements.

Alternately, you could watch some of the footage from the aftermath, in which you see lines of bikers being processed by police officers.  Scary lookin’ guys sitting calmly in lines and waiting for their turn to be called up and searched.  Which leads to the next issue…

“Look at the contrast between that photo and this photo of a black man being arrested in Ferguson!”

This one gets interesting when you scroll down to the captions of said photos and realize that there’s invariably a key difference there that has nothing to do with skin color.

Compliance.

When you have pictures of two suspects, one of whom is doing exactly what he’s told to do by the police, and one of whom is openly resisting and refusing to comply, you might stop and wonder for a moment whether or not the difference in how they’re being treated has anything to do with the difference in how they are acting.

Anyhoo.

I’m not denying that there is some measure of institutional racism prevalent in the United States justice system, but I do encourage you to realize that this is a particularly stupid hill to make your stand on.

 

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