Saturday, January 28, 2023


Yesterday, audiovisual evidence of two well-publicized crimes was released to public. In the afternoon we saw and heard evidence from David DePape's attack on Paul Pelosi: security-camera video of DePape breaking a window at the Pelosi house; audio of Pelosi's 911 call, which he made while trying not to arouse the ire of his intruder; and police bodycam video of the assault, which shows DePape brutally swinging a hammer at Pelosi's head. Here's the bodycam video:

And while there's still plenty of snickering in right-wing comment sections about a "lovers' quarrel" and hammers used as sex toys, there's recognition of reality from some surprising sources:

Far-right radio host Glenn Beck, who himself has promoted conspiracy theories, knocked down all the “crazy rumors” and conspiracy theories surrounding the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi after watching the newly released video of the incident.

“... He is not standing there holding the guy’s hand because they’re having a lover’s twist. That’s not what’s going on. He’s clearly being held hostage,” Beck said after playing the video on his show.
... He looks like a guy who was woken up in the middle of the night. This again dissolves all of the crazy rumors that, you know, they were having a, you know, sex fest or whatever it was. This obviously appears to be exactly what they said it was.
Then, in the evening, we saw video from the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis:

And while the right-wing media is still eagerly anticipating riots (or insisting that riots have already begun when they clearly haven't), they're generally describing the police violence as extreme and unjustified. A headline at the Daily Mail: "Tennessee sheriff suspends two deputies and orders new investigation after officers are seen FIST-BUMPING in sickening bodycam as Tyre Nichols lies on the ground in agony." At Fox News: "Reaction swift after Tyre Nichols police footage released; 'These men were street fighting,' former cop says."

We'll retreat to our corners soon enough, but the fact that some on the right acknowledge basic facts about these attacks suggests that there's some benefit in allowing the public to see the nature of the violence we argue about ideologically. The visual facts of these cases do not have a right-wing bias.

When Mamie Till held an open-casket funeral for her murdered and disfigured son, Emmett, then allowed photos of his body to be published in Jet magazine, she did the right thing. I wonder whether we now need to see graphic images of mass shootings, or even ordinary firearm murders or suicides. There's widespread agreement in our culture that these images are taboo, but technology, from television to TikTok, has made us visual rather than verbal -- we may never grasp the horror of gun violence without seeing that horror unexpurgated. I think someday there'll be a gun-violence Mamie Till. That person will be vilified, but we'll realize after a while that we needed to see what was exposed.

We've known since the time of Rodney King that many of us don't understand brutality even when we see it. But some of us can grasp the truth when it's presented that way. So we need the images.

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