Imagining a Threat Is Not Enough: The Gunning Down of Philando Castile

My view of police officers these days: They’re overly protective of their own safety — in a job that by definition, comes with a certain degree of danger.

If you’re unwilling to take that extra split-second to ascertain a threat — you have no business being in that job. The officer in Castile’s case was clearly out of control. Even if Philando didn’t do something exactly as the officer expected — the slightest misunderstanding is not grounds for shooting someone (not to mention the absurd number of shots).

That aside

We all have a responsibility when dealing with the police. If you cop an attitude (especially in today’s climate) — you are radically increasing your chances of getting gunned down.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they deserved it — but they played a role in what happened. If you really wanna have a conversation on race — you can’t cherry-pick the root causes that work for you.

You’ve gotta take a hard look at the entire problem — ugliness and all.

Back to Castile in a bit

That one’s as clear-cut as it gets — but there’s a bigger story going on here and none of you see it. The entire nation is so busy reacting to everything that you never stop to think about what role you play in creating the conditions for the very problems you’re trying to solve.

Race relations do not exist in a vacuum any more than mass shootings or anything else. The mental health of America is central to the story of all that surrounds us.

And right on cue . . .

Out come the geniuses who couldn’t craft an original thought to save their lives or anyone else’s.

Worse than that — rather than listening to someone who does, you instantly fire off your pearls of wisdom on perception of buzzwords alone. The mindlessness of the reply to my Tweet below is at the core of America’s decline:

Seizing on “mental health” and racing off to educate me on what you wanna say — without an atom of consideration of what I have to say. Who cares that I’m the one thinking things through with rock-solid ideas that could actually make a major impact on this front and many more.

Not to mention that your track record is not what I would call astute — and the Right doesn’t have anything to write home about either:

Unlike most of America . . .

I don’t have situational rules

Never mind the “of America” part

All he needed was “mental health” to satisfiy his insatiable appetite for slinging snippets of certitude in service of “feeling” right about everything he “thinks”

A lot of that goin’ around.

Let’s get something straight

What seems unrelated at first — may in fact be central to the story. Take a breath and let it sink in before you start slinging assumptions on things you don’t understand.

And would it kill ya to consider something in a new light?

Would you browse a textbook then blame the teacher for your failure to understand the material? That the decline of America over the last 30 years doesn’t unfold for standard scrolling with ease — is not a flaw in my argument and array of illustrations:

It’s a flaw in your willingness to work through it — absorbing each building block of information your brain is well-equipped to handle.

Or at least it used to be before information became so funneled in a fashion to your liking — you don’t even know what to do with anything that isn’t.

There are countless people saying the same things in the same old ways — with channels, sites, and substacks that conform to the formula.

No offense to the fine work that many people provide on those platforms: But I find those environments unimaginative, unfulfilling, and of questionable efficacy.

Not to mention this:

But we’re all here because we share some important things in common: a commitment to reason, curiosity, independence, decency, and a hunger for honest conversation. In our upside-down world, holding fast to these ideals can sometimes feel lonely.

More than ever, we crave the company of people who share our core values.

— Bari Weiss: Welcome to Year Two

It’s a nice gesture for Bari to bond with her audience. But what people crave is the company of those who see themselves as they do — never mind their record doesn’t remotely reflect their claims.

Following facts going in the direction you desire doesn’t count:

Anybody can do that

Without “commitment” and “holding fast” — it’s just wishful thinking, and it shows! Decades of delight in the Gutter Games of Government has crippled this country.

By being in bondage to baggage and baseless beliefs — painfully obvious lies become calcified as fact.

We could do something about that:

But you’re busy

People really don’t listen.

People are just either not that interested in what you’re saying, or they are too focused on their own agenda. It’s ridiculous to see two people acting like they can’t really hear each other — by choice.

In “The Significance Principle,” authors Les Carter and Jim Underwood posit that we should listen past where the other person has finished. We should even pause before answering. Let them get their point, their story, their compliment, and even their criticism out. Completely. . . .

The ability to hear is a gift. The willingness to listen is a choice.”

— Mike Greene, ​Why you should first seek to understand — before trying to be understood

In other words

Don’t shake your head. I’m not done yet. Wait till you hear the whole thing so you can . . . understand this now . . .

My Cousin Vinny is maybe the most hilariously educational movie ever — and this scene is at the core of our culture’s communication divide:

What I have illustrated throughout this site is not the mark of a healthy nation:

It’s the mentality of a mob

If an entire nation of “normal” people refuse to work together to solve problems — and delight in rapid-fire ridicule against any challenge to their beliefs (baseless or otherwise):

How do you think that impacts those who are already inclined to gun people down?

And with keyboard commandos on edge across the country: What makes you think that people who live their lives in danger every day — aren’t overreacting partly as a reflection of a country that overreacts on everything?

Like this . . .

There is no measure how spineless and stupid it is to shoot someone because you feel threatened by them pulling into your driveway.

And right on cue

Out comes the outrage — as if this time your one-dimensional ways will magically make a dent when they miserably failed every time before.

The problems that plague America are interrelated — and anything short of addressing that is pure folly. Just picking the “root cause” that works for you doesn’t get it done.

You’ve gotta look at interconnected causes across the board.

How you handle one issue can do colossal damage to all the rest.

It amazes me that some of the most brilliant minds in the world seem incapable of correlating how “unrelated” issues impact one another. The most harmful pollution on the planet is noise — narrative that drowns out sensible discussion.

You could blame those who amplify that deafening noise with delight — or be smart by not doing dumb things that drive the narrative in the first place.

The Right didn’t write this — I did:

I don’t see what the problem is

— Typical Tweeter tapping earth-shattering insight

You don’t see — a lot!

Debunking the WMD delusion & Trayvon tale is a conduit for showing how this nation systematically derails debate.

“Everybody believed Iraq had WMD” is not a valid argument any more than “armed only with Skittles.” By the way — how many of you know what Trayvon actually looked like?

It’s not the kid on People magazine I assure you.

I’m not interested in defending Zimmerman — my aim is to expose the irrational behavior of blindly defending Martin and the damage you did by doing so.

And to claim that Iraq WMD wasn’t a lie should be like saying we didn’t land on the moon. In denying that reality, half the country helped create a culture where denying reality is now the norm.

The Right wants the Left and the black community to get its act together on matters deeply woven into the fabric of America’s long history of brutality and disgrace:

Slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, murder, decades of civil rights violations, questionable shootings, and so on.

While the Right won’t even look at the material properties of a tube. What’s wrong with that picture — and this one?

Hmm, so the dimensions exactly match the tubes used in Iraq’s history of manufacturing the Nasser-81mm artillery rocket (a reverse-engineered version of the Italian Medusa)

That sounds worthy of consideration — don’t ya think?

Then there’s this . . .

I’m not qualified to discuss climate change, but I can say with certainty that no number of Legacy docs would put a pinprick in the atmosphere of absurdity that’s suffocating our country.

It’s easy to blame climate deniers — but you’ve done plenty of damage by denying reality of your own.

And don’t even get me started on how homelessness is a problem perpetuated by those most sensitive in their approach to solving it.

If you wanna start solving problems instead of perpetuating them: It’s gotta get ugly — or as ol’ Bill perfectly put it:

Like many alternatives, however, it was psychologically impossible. Character is fate, as the Greeks believed. Germans were schooled in winning objectives by force, unschooled in adjustment. They could not bring themselves to forgo aggrandizement even at the risk of defeat.

— Barbara Tuchman

Unschooled in Adjustment

You wanna put trigger-happy cops in prison (and rightly so when warranted). I’m interested in how they became trigger-happy. Just because behavior often factors into it does not necessarily mean that race wasn’t involved as well.

But you don’t allow for anything outside of what you instantly perceive: If race is part of the story — you make it the entire story. My aim isn’t to absolve the police, it’s to paint the possibility that race may not be as much of a factor as you think it is.

And that through your indiscriminate approach you do catastrophic damage to your own interests — not to mention the nation and the world as well.

Look around!

[W]e must accept responsibility for a problem before we can solve it . . .

— M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

About that overreacting

The Right delights in ridiculing the Left for burning buildings to further the cause. Yet they went batshit crazy after 9/11: Setting the world ablaze — and browbeating anybody out of line in their March of Folly.

Preach responsibility and take none

When your camp came up empty on WMD — you just bought more bullshit from the same people who sold you the first batch:


The Left institutionalizes weakness — and the Democratic Party is notorious for lacking backbone. You weaken the very people you’re trying to strengthen — branding weakness to boot.

And right on cue, the Right is ready to pounce.

I don’t blame ’em — except for the part about them being weak while branding strength.

Conservatives have put on a masterclass of complaining for 30 years — but because the intelligentsia on the Left perennially pumps candy into that piñata: They beat the hell out of you — while unconscionably ignoring the debauchery of their own behavior.

Sailing away on Scot-Free . . .

Then there’s this

America obsessively concerns itself with symbols — fixating over a missing flag pin on a politician’s lapel, for instance.

So — these people can:

  • Incessantly lie
  • Manipulate the hell out of you
  • Start dumb wars and never finish them
  • Drag their feet forever
  • Obstruct as if not doing your job were a virtue
  • Take off all kinds of time after accomplishing nothing

  • Waste mountains of money while touting concerns about spending
  • Spend enormous amounts of time & energy assailing the opposition while absolving their own at every turn
  • Broadcast beliefs that have no bearing on their record or yours
  • Rile you up with red meat to savagely scorn the other side — as you sail Scot-Free on an ocean of bottomless lies and hypocrisy . . .

Never in doubt — while you fret over flair:

Conservatives control the narrative about responsibility and think that magically translates to taking responsibility. Republicans pounce on the Left day in and day out — as if the Right’s record vanished off the face of the earth.

It’s all about framing the narrative — and the Left institutionalizing weakness is a gimme for the Right to rail on ’em.

That the Left brings it on themselves is another matter . . .

And the icing on the cake

Sincere intellectuals justifiably calling out universities, woke ways, racially rigged incidents and such: Providing endless fodder for the Right to rip people for behavior that pales in comparison to what they’ve done for decades.

Ripping on woke is all the rage

And outrage industries of dish it but can’t take it — would talk about race and responsibility till the end of time. But heaven forbid we have a single conversation about war and responsibility.

“That’s so 2004”

Except we never had that conversation in 2004 — or ever.

You were busy . . .

And I thought to myself, what have we come to at the university — that the first reaction to grave matters — and the rioting in the street after George Floyd died is a grave matter.

That the reaction is not to think it through, not to question, not to assemble facts, not to make arguments — but instead to wave banners and spout slogans such that you could hardly distinguish what they were doing from a manifesto that would come out of Black Lives Matter

— Glenn Loury

Remove the references around George Floyd — and that behavior rings a bell.

Now I Remember . . .

As the patriots Never Forget

The aftermath of this

That the reaction is not to think it through, not to question, not to assemble facts, not to make arguments — but instead to wave banners and spout slogans such that you could hardly distinguish what they were doing from a manifesto that would come out of . . .

Tuchman alighted on a root cause of folly that she called “wooden-headedness” — defined in part as “assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting contrary information.”

— Russ Hoyle, Going to War

If you’re not gonna do your part and accept responsibility for the damage you’ve done and dishonesty baked into your beliefs — why should the Left?

Why should anyone?

We should be above whatever the fad or the fashion is of any given day. We should be looking at the deep questions. We should be analytical. We should be emphasizing reason.

— Glenn Loury

Only for problems that are popular and easy to perceive? Whatever’s in your wheelhouse? Is that as deep as your questions go, Glenn?

Never mind this . . .

The surgical specificity of this clip puts this lie in its place in 5 minutes alone.

Trillion Dollar Tube 

Imagine what I did with 160

“There is no skimming over the surface of a subject with [Hamilton]. He must sink to the bottom to see what foundation it rests on.”

— Major William Pierce (Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton)

Wouldn’t it be absurd to share that quote if my clip contained nothing but trite talking points? Some circles are not burdened by squaring their walk with their talk. They seem to think that advertising virtue equates to embodying it.

Case in point

People who talk glibly about “intelligence failure” act as if intelligence agencies that are doing their job right would know everything.

— Professional Know-It-All (PKIA for short)

D.O.E’s standard is to spin a tube at 20% above 90,000 RPM before failure — so 48,000 short is a pretty loose definition of “rough indication.”

And since the entire point of testing should be to replicate the conditions of centrifuges, one would think that the full-blown testing would be performed before the N.I.E. was completed.

— Richard W. Memmer: Act II

Between PKIA’s words and mine

Which ones strike you as glib?

If I came into this cold — I’d know on the doc image alone that PKIA has no chance. If you don’t know that by now, I don’t know what to tell ya.

You think that poppycock of PKIA’s gets better from here? Trust me, I’m just warming up. And by the way — I suggest you start putting some faith in people who have integrity instead of buying it from those who sell it.

Blind loyalty would bore the hell out of me — I don’t know how you stand it. Not to mention the fact that you do a cosmic disservice to the very things you’re defending.

Who is PKIA?

That is the story I’m out to tell — and how it’s all connected to almost everything you see today. We can use that folly from the past for the benefit of the future — and all ya gotta do to realize it?

Do what you say you do.

PKIA is worshipped as some kind of saint-like Sherlock Holmes — never mind he peddled partisan hackery on the biggest and most costly lie in modern history. And lo and behold, he has a habit of toeing the party line:

All of which flies in the face of the principles he peddles.

What does it to say to you that I had to come up with an alias for the figure in question — just so his crowd will consider his claims in isolation from his immaculate image?

Just as this cartoon captures what words cannot — so too does the implication behind the alias. What would you call someone who shoots their mouth off without addressing the evidence — but banks on their fabricated reputation to create the impression that they did?

Imagining a threat is not enough

By that standard, you could justify anything — like invading a Middle Eastern country because you feel like it.

And it’s all the more outrageous given that the guy acknowledged he had a weapon. This person’s comment nailed it:

If someone is trying to get the drop on you, I don’t think they would calmly say, “I just want to let you know that I have a gun”

Yanez stated that his justification for the shooting was based on fear for his own life because he believed that Castile’s behavior was abusive toward a young girl passenger (Reynolds’ daughter) in the car.[43] 

Yanez said: “I thought, I was gonna die, and I thought if he’s, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing, then what, what care does he give about me?”[43]

That’s an awful lot of analysis for something that happened so fast.

I don’t buy it for a second.

You cannot make sweeping assumptions like that in ascertaining a threat. And it’s absurd that an officer would fear for his life over the perception of a person’s character regarding secondhand smoke.

I’d rather go to prison than come up with such a stupid excuse.

Speaking of excuses

This notion that compliance and respectability can save someone’s life in an encounter with police is not the reality for black men in this country

— Charles Coleman, Jr.

Worked out well for this guy . . .

To be sure, “compliance and respectability” doesn’t always pan out — but it’s the smart move, the right thing to do, and it gives you the best shot of walking away unharmed.

I ask a different question . . .

I do that a lot:

What if Kaepernick kneeled and acknowledged that they need to do their part while asking the police to do theirs?

Hold the phone — you want us to share some responsibility?

You wanna solve the problem or protest about it?

Chris Rock didn’t come up with this sketch out of thin air. But for me to suggest this is the entire problem — would be as preposterous as you denying it’s part of it.

But no, you wanna debate that too

Even a multi-millionaire like Don Lemon’s got a chip on his shoulder.

I am one who always says that you should comply with police officers — especially as a man of color. When I’m stopped by a police officer: “Officer, why are you stopping me?” Yes, officer or whatever. Now, I’m an American — I shouldn’t have to do that.

I shouldn’t have to be “Yes, sir” to anybody. I’m a grown, ‘you know what’ man.” But I do it because I want to stay alive. That’s why I do it. I shouldn’t have to.

How about just doing it out of courtesy and respect?

How hard is it to just put yourself in their shoes — and consider the crap that cops deal with day in and day out? Yeah, they signed up for it — but you can do your part to make the situation go as smoothly as possible.

And Don — your audience blew right by that bit about complying and seized on “I shouldn’t have to.” Nice work!

When you act like the one on the right below, you’re not only endangering yourself — you’re helping to create the atmosphere of confrontation for others by putting the police on edge.

The attitude on the left would do no such thing. Charles Coleman, Jr. is dead wrong — as the importance of attitude cannot be overstated.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Nothing in the atmosphere of America is improving on any front:

But hey . . .

We’ve got 24 million visitors to our website, an email list of 2 million & growing, fundraising on the rise, and a million actions taken.

Kneel, but couple your message with Kobe’s — and you change the dynamic of the debate.

I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American. That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American, we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American.

The Right would still fuss over it — but they might cut ya some slack if you’re kneeling with a shared purpose.

Protesting in a wholesale manner shows you’re not serious about recognizing the realities of a problem. It says you want to see it only from your perspective.

That — will never work

And lo and behold — neither will this:

You wanna solve problems or protest about ’em?

Repeatedly rehashing issues is not the mark of problem solving — it’s the mark of a market.

Like Black Lives Matter — they’re just pounding away at problems without any examination of the efficacy of their efforts.

Blunt instruments

These communities operate under umbrellas of interests that don’t account for complexities outside of them. 

And this — is where my Clear the Clutter framework comes in:

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