Cute, Sweet, Easily Digestible

Kids are cute. So are puppies. Stories about kids and puppies warm our hearts. Except when the stories are about  kids arrested or puppies killed.

There is a constant struggle in writing about the never-ending stream of seemingly inexplicable things that happen in the law. Should the story be funny or absurd? Should it be outrageous and angry? Many in the blawgosphere have chosen to write short blurbs rather than analysis, both because it’s a lot easier than the unnecessary effort of thinking and people enjoy reading short blurbs more than lengthier posts.  Bites of information are enough. Small bites are even better.

There are times when the posts here leave me feeling rather morose.  That a kid was arrested or a puppy killed almost always carries a message or lesson, and the failure to discuss it reduces a writing to an amusement.  I’m not here for your amusement.  There are plenty of others who can entertain you, appeal to your bias, feed your insanity or provide easily digestible bits of information without requiring you to expend any effort in thinking. Not me. Not here.

But then, humor and brevity are virtues as well.  Many points are best made using humor, and the point, well, is to make the point.  If humor is the most effective delivery method, why not?

And what purpose is served by boring a reader with labored rhetoric when ten words will do?  If the point can be made in fewer words, then only a crappy writer would use more.

These are issues I’ve been struggling with lately. A lot of blogs have strayed from thoughtfulness into the easy realm of aggregator, listing a string of stories of interest with no value added.  Others relate stories that are funny or ironic, though the subject isn’t always well-suited to humor.  Some have become soapboxes of self-indulgence, intellectually dishonest in their analysis and serving only to promote the writer’s point of view to those stupid enough to blindly accept it.  And others are just crap.

When  Kevin Underhill wrote about a 6 year old Georgia girl who was taken from school in handcuffs, he found the humor in the fact that this was how the cops dealt with a little girl. 

  • Police in Milledgeville, Georgia, said they don’t discriminate when it comes to detainees, all of whom get handcuffed and taken to the station in the back of a squad car. That includes “age discrimination,” the chief said, explaining why his officers  cuffed a six-year-old girl who was throwing a tantrum in her kindergarten class. The girl was charged with assault and damage to property, “but will not have to go to court because of her age.” That’s because SHE IS SIX.

Does it really require any more analysis? Apparently it does, as Kevin felt compelled to update his post:

  • Update: Some think cuffing the six-year-old might have been a reasonable response under the circumstances, and I guess I should defer to those who have children or have been attacked by some. It isn’t the cuffing that really bothers me, to be honest — personally, I think children should be kept in a pit until they turn 18 — but rather what seems (at least at first glance) like an overreaction by police and administrators. But maybe in this case there was truly no other choice. Well, there’s always the pit, or a quick tranquilizer dart and then the pit, but maybe no other reasonable choice.

It kinda sucks some of the fun out of the post, and as soon as that happens, the message sent via humor is not merely lost, but subsumed by the mirthless.

In his ongoing series on Puppycide, Radley Balko does the dirty deed of not letting the needless shooting of a puppy go unnotice.  At first, there was some discussion of how and why this happens.  Now, that it happens is enough, with barely a dozen words needed to amplify the message.

In audio captured on Officer Griffin’s dashboard camera, you can hear the officer give Paxton commands to put his hands up and to control his dog. Austin police removed a few seconds of the tape where Griffin fatally shoots the dog.

“Why didn’t you get your dog when I told you to get your dog?” questioned Officer Griffin.

Is it really necessary to parse the details so that readers understand that the guy can either put up his hands or control his dog, but not both?  The dog was doomed, and Paxton couldn’t be sure he wasn’t next.

On the bright side, the issue of how to present stories that need airing, issues that people ought to think about, can at least be considered because guys like Kevin and Radley do the cooking so you can easily digest their feast. 

So many others are feeding you spam, hoping you’re too stupid to realize that it tastes awful. The blawgosphere is becoming a fast food strip mall, and that seems to be good enough for most people.  If so, what’s the point of serving up anything that takes some effort to digest?

9 comments on “Cute, Sweet, Easily Digestible

  1. Burgers Allday

    On the bright side, the pet owner and the 6 y. o. will be accorded the full benefits of the Exclusionary Rule, Hudson notwithstanding. Snarkiness aside, the focus in the case of the six year old should be on getting the video out. If there were no cameras in the principal’s office (which I would be reluctant to believe), then the focus should be on getting a working camera system in the school. One that never goes off, even during k9 sweeps. A camera system that streams to the Net so that parents can sit around allday (no pun intended) and allnight if they so desire.

    No. I am not kidding about that.

  2. Frank

    I normally despise people who say “there outta be a law” but in this case I’m gonna say it.

    There should be a national law to require a mandatory blood draw on any law enforcement officer involved in use of force or threat thereof. The blood will be drawn under chain-of-custody rules and sent to two labs to test for BAC, toxicology screen, and steroids. All to protect the officer from specious claims, of course.

    Failure in the chain-of-custody will be treated as a presumptive positive result.

    That should make these thugs think twice about shooting things that don’t need to be shot.

  3. Burgers Allday

    I’ll bite:

    The police and principal are alleging facts that, if true, would justify the cuffing.

    the facts they are alleging are nothing I have ever seen a six year old do.

    It sounds like they are describing a six year old having a completely psychotic episode.

    I don’t think what they say happened really happened. But, if what they say happened really happened, then I imagine that the response was appropriate.

    BOTTOM LINE: it is 2012. when something as crazy as this happens in a school there needs to be video. If they need to pay the kid, then they need to pay the kid. If they don’t need to pay the kid then they need to proactively use the vid to nip the coming civil suit “in the bud.”

    Wouldn’t have said that 5 years ago even (when your blog was a month old!), but that is where things stand circa now.

    On the crim law side, prisons need cameras, too, and they need to work.

  4. JMS

    As I take your point, it’s not so much about these tragic stories, but how can one blog about them in a meaningful way, which is to say, “add value” to the story in a way that’s rhetorically effective.

    Part of the problem might be that certain stories are (for want of a better term) richer material than others. “Cop shoots dog” is a moral outrage; after many such stories, “cops are often needlessly destructive” is a valid inference; “we need to re-think policing so cops aren’t as destructive as often” is a pretty sensible policy to advocate. But by that point you’re close to exhausting the material. Past a certain body count, you’re in res ipsa territory.

    On the other hand, the on-going theme of excessive policing is difficult to exhaust, and that’s why Balko’s site is so good. What forms does this take? What are the ramifications? How did we get here and why? What are the prospects for change? If you engage with that stuff seriously and thoughtfully, taking on the best arguments of those who disagree with you, it’s going to be worth reading.

    At the same time: if you feel you have little to say, there’s no harm in keeping quiet. If a story must be brought to readers’ attention but you don’t feel confident about adding your own views, a link is fine.

  5. Albert Nygren

    Regarding the 6 y/o who was cuffed by the police, I saw a video of how the girl was acting and it was no tantrum.This girl was hitting and kicking other children and her teachers and was so violent that the Police had to be called.

    When the police arrived the girl started hitting and kicking the police and she was so violent that the police could not keep themselves or others safe until they put handcuffs on the girl. Then they were able to control her enough to keep people safe.

    I used to work as a Registered Nurse on psychiatric units in hospitals for 20 years. During that time I was the team leader while we had to control a violent patient hundreds of times. Our goal was always to do this in a way that no harm came to the patient or the staff. It is obvious to me that that is the same thing that the police did. By using handcuffs they kept everyone safe.

    People who criticize the police for doing this have let their emotions control their decisions instead of reasoned, rational thinking. There is a lot of that going on in the world.

    Please don’t get me wrong. There are times when the police are out of line and or arrest people who have not committed a crime. If I was an attorney I would have to be a defense attorney because of that. But in this case, I think the police did a good job and did what was necessary to control the situation to prevent anyone getting hurt after they arrived. There were plenty of people who got hurt by this girl before the police arrived.

  6. Albert Nygren

    I have to clarify what I previously said. I’m afraid I let my emotions get in the way of my thinking just as I criticized others for. What I could do has no bearing on the fine job that attorneys do in many different areas of the legal profession. Just as an example: If every lawyer was a defense lawyer no criminal would ever be found guilty as there would be no Prosecuting Attorneys and criminals would take over the country.

    If there were no attorneys who sued doctors for malpractice, there would be a lot more malpractice. If there were no attorneys to defend the innocent doctors who only help others and save lives, there would be no doctors!

    Please excuse my brief loss of reason in my previous post.

  7. Burgers Allday

    I saw a video of how the girl was acting

    Linkee? (I know you can’t post the think here due to SHG’s house rules, but is there a link?)

    If you need help getting the vid on YouTube or the Vimeo I can help. As I said the other day over at Radley Balko’s Adge Blog, I think if we, as a society, could all watch the video together then the current disputatious state of afffairs that now exists in regard of this case file would be transmogrified into concensus and relative harmony.

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