“All lives matter,” fragile white people say when they see a Black Lives Matter protest. But some lives matter more…. (More)

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us”

So declared Speaker Paul Ryan after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-TX) and four others were wounded at the GOP congressional baseball practice shooting:

My colleagues: There are strong emotions throughout this House today. We are all horrified by this dreadful attack on our friends and colleagues, and those who serve and protect this Capitol. We are all praying for those who were attacked and their families:

-Steve Scalise
-Zachary Barth
-Matt Mika
-Special Agent David Bailey
-Special Agent Crystal Griner

“We are all giving our thoughts to those currently being treated for their injuries AT THIS MOMENT. And we are united. We are united in our shock and anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

Their lives matter … a lot.

As for the three UPS workers killed in San Francisco on that very same day … excuse us, but we’re busy having a collective hissy over five people wounded at a baseball practice, because “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us” … if the people attacked are … us.

If they’re just UPS workers, gunned down at work….

“None of that actually means anything or matters”

Or let’s say you’re a 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, stopped because you match the description of a robbery suspect. Which is to say, because you’re black and male. You tell the cop you’re licensed to carry a gun. He demands ID, so you reach for your wallet … and he shoots you seven times. Does your life matter?

Not to a jury:

The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop was acquitted on all charges by a jury Friday, a decision that came nearly a year after the encounter was partially streamed online to a rapt nation in the midst of a painful reckoning over shootings by law enforcement.
Police officers are seldom charged for fatal on-duty shootings and convictions are even less common. Castile’s death came at a time of intense scrutiny of fatal police-involved shootings, and the viral video of his final moments spurred heated demonstrations that continued for weeks.
One protester, local activist Vanessa Taylor, said the verdict confirmed her worst fears about the legal system.
“Philando was everything that people say you’re supposed to be,” Taylor said. “He had a job, he was in a relationship, he helped take care of a child, he worked with kids – but none of that actually means anything or matters.”

Exactly, because cops are brave heroes, the “thin blue line between civilization and chaos.” Even if the cop panics when a black man reaches for his wallet as ordered, and the cop starts shooting because “I thought I was going to die.”

So Blue Lives Matter, and “next time you see a cop on the beat, take a moment to say two wonderful words which they so readily deserve: Thank you.”

And if the badge-wearing snowflake panics and shoots you … hey … you’re “no angel.”

“We can’t move so far in the other direction that we race to find who’s ‘really’ to blame”

Or let’s say you’re an 18-year-old boy, in love with a 17-year-old girl. But you’re also severely depressed and apparently she likes the idea of you killing yourself. So she goads you, sending text after text, saying “You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die.” And when you get out of the truck that you’ve rigged with a hose from the exhaust to the window, she texts “Get back in.” Does your life matter?

A Massachusetts judge said yes:

In a landmark case, a Massachusetts judge has ruled that Michelle Carter, who urged her boyfriend through phone calls and text messages to kill himself, is responsible for his death.

Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz announced Friday that Carter, 20, is guilty of involuntary manslaughter after placing Conrad Roy III in a situation that led to his suicide in 2014.

Legal experts say the decision could have national implications as courts grapple with how to apply long-standing laws as technological changes have taken interactions online. In Carter’s case, the ruling suggests that in effect, she was whispering in Roy’s ear, “kill yourself, kill yourself,” said Laurie Levenson, a criminal law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. And it essentially says that those words can lead someone to suicide.


I see two serious problems with this verdict – one moral, the other legal. First, Conrad Roy is responsible for his death. To argue that Carter committed manslaughter is to diminish Roy’s moral agency. It denies his free will. It’s wrong to deny compassion to someone so troubled that they’d attempt suicide, but we can’t move so far in the other direction that we race to find who’s “really” to blame when a person voluntarily takes their own life. It’s still an act of self-murder, and while Carter undoubtedly played a persuasive role, I can’t imagine where we will draw the line. Will we prosecute mean people for manslaughter when troubled teens kill themselves?

Second, there are real First Amendment implications with this verdict. Carter’s actions were reprehensible, but she was sharing with him thoughts and opinions that he may have found persuasive but had the capacity to reject. A legal argument that renders otherwise-protected speech unlawful because it actually persuades would blast a hole in First Amendment jurisprudence.

So manipulating and taunting a depressed person into committing suicide is free speech. But if you’re Vanessa Taylor, the woman I quoted above who has protested the murder of Philando Castile, you’re one reason five people were shot at that baseball practice. Because when it’s “an attack on one of us,” then yes, speech can kill.

“It may sound heartless to discuss life-saving measures as a calculation. But….”

And if you’re a poor person, maybe a Syrian refugee, living in public housing without adequate fire protection … we need to tote up the shillings and pence before we can decide whether your life matters:

People who died in the Grenfell fire might be alive today if regulators had required sprinkler systems. This does not play well for the Tories.

But before we start hanging them in effigy, there are a couple of things we should consider. The first is that, even if the regulation had passed, and required existing developers to retrofit sprinklers into older buildings, Grenfell Tower might not have gotten a sprinkler system before the fire occurred. Regulations are not implemented like instant coffee; they take time to formulate, and further time for businesses to comply. All the political will in the world cannot conjure up enough sprinkler systems, and sprinkler-system installers, to instantly transform a nation’s housing stock.

This, however, is only a quibble; even if Grenfell Tower could not have been saved, there are surely other buildings where fires will soon occur that would benefit from sprinklers. Must we wait for those deaths before we can say that his was a bad calculation?

Well, no. But we should wait until we can establish that it was actually a bad calculation.

It may sound heartless to discuss life-saving measures as a calculation. But the fact is that we all make these sorts of calculations every day, about ourselves and others. We just don’t like to admit that we’re doing it.

The way it works is, lots of people die in car accidents and fewer would die if the speed limit were 25mph, but that would cost us time and money and everything has costs, including fire safety, and “we will never know the name of the guy who was killed in a car accident because he had to live far from work because rents rose because regulators required sprinkler systems.” Got that?

So “All lives matter.” It’s just a matter of how much.

Some lives – members of Congress, their staffs, cops, people who bully people into committing suicide, and hypothetical commuters – matter a lot.

Other lives – UPS workers, black men who work in school cafeterias, depressed people, and poor people in public housing – don’t matter much at all.

It depends on if you’re “one of us.”


Photo Credit: Associated Press


Good day and good nuts