There’s a lot of video taken by people who find themselves, or observe from a close distance, things they believe could turn out to be a problem. Few go viral. Most ultimately fall flat. Some don’t show what the person taking the video believes they show, an outrageous situation that could prove disastrous. But some catch fire.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
Before getting to the “lessons,” consider that the origin of this video was that a woman was walking her dog off the leash. Leashes are required in Central Park and hard as it may be for some dog people to appreciate, not everyone is good with violating leash laws. But then, it’s also not the same as mugging old ladies. In the scheme of bad things that must be regulated, this barely registers. So the dog walker doesn’t come into this quite innocent, but hardly a mass murderer.
But her request that the guy taking the video stop isn’t within her “rights.” She can ask. He can say no. When you’re in public, people can record you. Contrary to the belief of many that their permission is required, whether legally or under some twisted grasp of “morality,” it’s not. You don’t have to like it but there is nothing, legally, you can do to stop someone from recording.
Whether this starts out as the new “Karen” meme, the entitled white woman who demands the world acquiesce to her will is debatable. Within the same construct of magical moral rights is the empowerment of women to decide, based on nothing more than their idiosyncratic feelings, whether a situation is threatening. If it feels threatening, then it is because that is “their truth.”
This is where people’s belief system runs head first into the wall of reason, even if they wriggle as hard as they can to pretend it doesn’t. Had the person taking the video not been black, would this have produced the same sense of “Karen”? Would she have been entirely justified in feeling threatened by a white man, or at least her dubious sense of threat not have raised hackles because the man wasn’t of an identity more oppressed than Karen?
What basis exists to distinguish an irrational feeling of threat that the white woman is entitled to feel and others will embrace, or at least not attack? Why are feelings all that matters when it comes to inventing reality under some circumstances but not others? Why does “her truth” prevail except when it doesn’t? If she has a right to feel safe, as so many vehemently claim she does, why not here?
When she calls 911, alleging that her life is being threatened by an African American man, she crosses the Karen Rubicon. At that point, her assertions to 911 are false. But this raises a different set of concerns that, a decade ago, would very likely have produced a different outcome than the cops come, ascertain that there was nothing to see here, and everybody went home for dinner.
Christian Cooper took the video. It was posted by his sister, Melody. It went viral and, had he not taken the video, had she not posted it, it’s quite likely that no one would know it happened and the outcome could have been very different. This was the rare video that was worth recording and publishing. Without it, the 911 operating would have known nothing beyond a woman calling 911 alleging that her life was being threatened by an African-American man.
There were no other witnesses. Her accusation was “credible,” as much as that misbegotten word carries any significance beyond those who grasp onto anything smacking of rational sounding words to justify their irrational beliefs. No, it was not an accusation of rape or sexual assault, but it could just as well have been. Woman accusing man. No witnesses. She said, he said.
But it’s not done yet. As Eliza Orlins, a public defender running for Manhattan District Attorney, explained, without the video this could have been any one of a thousand routine busts in the City.
What happens: White lady calls the cops on Black man. Cops believe her. He gets arrested and then arraigned. Outrageous bail gets set. His family cannot afford to buy his freedom. He gets sent to Rikers Island, where he sits for any number of days, months, or years.
Eventually the case resolves in some way–gets dismissed or he takes a plea to the charge or a lesser offense to get out because he’s threatened with doing serious time. Meanwhile, he’s potentially lost his job, his home, his children. Right now, it is even worse.
The only “hard” evidence in the case is an hysterical 911 call. From the video, we realize that the woman going hysterical wasn’t a reflection of increasingly threatening things happening around her to justify her hysteria, but just her hysteria. When the 911 tape is played in court, wrapped up in routine narrative, it sounds as if the situation has gone from inchoate threat to a perp about to plunge a knife into her chest.
While Eliza’s explanation is the more common scenario, it isn’t the only one. Cops, responding to the 911 call, approach with the understanding that the woman’s life is in danger and that the black guy is violent. The First Rule of Policing thus kicks in, and they approach a violent situation with trepidation, ready to see violence in any gesture, any resistance, and act upon it.
Of course, we know this was all wrong, an irrational threat felt by a Karen, a false report to 911, and an outcome where no one was beaten or killed, although the dog could well have been the victim given her choking the critter in her panic and fear. The cops didn’t arrest her for falsely reporting because that’s not done when a woman’s “truth” fails to match objective truth as that might dissuade women from complaining when threatened, and that’s not allowed either.
We know all this because there was video. Had there not been video, the “answers” might be very different, even though the facts are the facts regardless of whether we were able to watch them or not. But for video, all the insipid ideological mantras kick in and we believe with as much fervor as if we actually saw it happen, except we didn’t and have no clue. But for video.