If so, then that might be a small silver lining on the tragedy in Missouri this week. I was worried that it was just my social media feeds — which admittedly skew lefty and political — but a wide range of major news outlets and various politicians from liberal to libertarian are chiming in as well. There’s been a sharp reaction against the police equipment deployed, the tactics used, and the general approach taken by law enforcement. While the first one is the most photogenic, the other two are the most appalling.

There are promising signs that the situation in Missouri is improving. Even if it does, I suspect that “Ferguson” will become a byword for police overreaction in coming years. It’s not like we didn’t know this was an issue before, and there have been plenty of tragedies in recent years. But as is so often the case, the issue doesn’t spur a general reaction until the right (wrong?) mix hits.

I know I’m going off on a tangent, but I can’t help wondering what would be enough to put a similar media/public focus on the penal system and the privatization of prisons. It’s a simmering issue that’s eating away at our country, and especially minority communities. In a political system that only responds to crisis and tragedy, what would it take?

While you’re pondering that, I was also curious what the NRA had to say about recent events. After all, this is exactly the kind of situation for which they claim the Second Amendment must be vigorously defended. I thought maybe they’d be encouraging the residents of Ferguson to take up arms against their authoritarian government. As of this writing, there’s nothing on their website, and the NRA twitter account has not deigned to even retweet any news about the events.

  1. On your first tangent: the whole point of prisons in the US is that they remove people from society; it’s really hard to draw attention to something (especially a single incident or spark) that is happening ‘outside of society’. While there is certainly some talk about prison reform in mainstream media (usually attached to drug law reform), there are really few voices from people who are or have recently been incarcerated being raised. The only one I can remember recently was…from an Occupy Wall Street protester who did a short bid in Rikers Island and wrote a NYT Op-Ed piece about it once out. Not exactly representative of the US’s prison population.


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