Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Take A Stab At This

The pen, we are told, is mightier than the sword. That is one of those life lessons that seem counter-intuitive at first. Would you really rather go into a fight with a Bic round stic or a machete? Upon further reflection, it occurs to me that if you were to anticipate the fight by writing to a letter to someone, or sign a requisition for a grenade launcher. Or maybe you could use that pen to write legislation outlawing the use of machetes in civil disputes. The guys with the pens make the rules, after all. Sometimes that's because they used their machetes to liberate all the pens in the first place, but that's where the whole mess gets into chicken and egg territory, so we'll let that be for a moment.
What about extrapolating that test to include video cameras and handguns? To be more precise, would you rather go into a fight armed with your cell phone camera or a service revolver? Rohnert Park resident Don McComas did just that in a confrontation involving a police officer with his choice of a weapon. The standoff occurred on the mean streets of Rohnert Park, fifty miles north of San Francisco. McComas was in his front yard, putting a trailer on his vehicle. Officer David Rodriguez was on regular patrol, searching for parking violations. There was concern registered by the officer not for the camera, but for the hand in McComas' pocket. What happened in that neighborhood in the middle of the day in Rohnert Park is the kind of thing that happens at all times of night and day all over the country. The pen is left far behind. The sword is out of reach. They all turned into a lawsuit. That's the good news.
The bad news is that all of this tension isn't mediated by cell phone video or lawsuits or guns. If everyone was working with the same set of tools. Machete, revolver, Bic round stic, cell phone camera. We have lost our collective agreements about acing like a society. When you go looking for a confrontation, that's what you find. The good news here is that there were no shots fired. The lawsuit was filed by a survivor of a very tense situation. The officer was suspended pending an investigation, and eventually returned to duty. Mister McComas put his video up on YouTube for the world to decide.
Which is mightier? Who knows? There is another expression: Might does not make right. Let's use that pen to write a love letter.

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