A stack of circumstances forced our Sunday man Paul to miss a week. But he’s back, as powerful as ever, as I gather his email, edit his copy and post his guest column while sitting at the airport in Orlando, Fla., waiting to jet back home to Syracuse, N.Y. Take it away, Paul Curran.

Your Barrista – Paul Curran

Your Barrista – Paul Curran

Welcome to the weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today and I’m happy to be here at Mark Bialczak’s Little Bitty in Syracuse, New York. Please come in and go through to the living room. Mark, his wife Karen and their pooch Ellie B, have prepared a nice, comfy place for us so I can tend to your needs for a cuppa, and sweets. There is a high in the low 60’s with a fall sun. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our worldwide readership and adult beverages for those who wish something stronger. We can relax with a cuppa while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. Ellie likes to be patted, so please indulge her when she greets you. Have an electronic – all are all calorie free. How has your week been? Are you enjoying the weekend? Any special activities?

Tea and Sweets Anyone?

Website: http://afternoonteaonline.co.uk/london/harrods/

So, last week, I had to make some unscheduled visits to the hospital – nothing serious but time-consuming. As a result, I was unable to make my deadline for filing the post so it could be up on Sunday. My apologies.

In the wake of the Tulsa shooting of yet another unarmed black man, I would like to discuss power and the exercise thereof. This has always fascinated me as a topic, as it truly typifies what is great about humans and what is most evil about humans.

Shoot a Man with Hands Up
If We Were Having Coffee
Website: http://globalnews.ca/news/2957899/terence-crutcher-shooting-tulsa-police-officer-charged-in-mans-death/

To my mind power should always be used for the greater good and not for selfish good. The female police officer who shot the black man in Tulsa had the authority to shoot under very specific and non-negotiable circumstances. We have established laws over millennia by which we govern our society and our society is overseen by elected representatives of the people. Police keep the peace and enforce the laws but are limited in how they can themselves break the laws in the pursuit of justice. So, the police derive their power from the laws which are overseen and established by the elected representatives placed in power by the people. Ultimately police power comes from the citizens they patrol. To the best of my knowledge a police officer can only use deadly force if there is imminent danger to the officer or to protect others. There are no extenuating circumstances. The black man in Tulsa did not meet either of those criteria. Power abused.


Website: https://aixoemsona.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/star-trek-un-petit-resum-ii/

I’m a Star Trek fan and whenever I watch – especially Next Generation – it always strikes me how much power the captain and crew have and where that power comes from. A ship that would require the resources of a planet to just build – and all the implications that come with that – physical protection, protection of way of life that built the ship, the replacement of the value with trade opportunities generated or aid or goods returned, the stabilization of a regulatory system that brings peace and security to the planet, etc.

And the power of the Enterprise flowed down invisible but very strong lines to a starship that was often as far away as any human had ever been. That power was also held in check by a set of rules and principles like the Prime Directive which forbade the crew to interfere in other less developed civilizations. A whole organization created and backed Star Fleet and that organization was responsible to the representatives of the people. The captain and crew were directed by Star Fleet. So at first glance the Enterprise and crew projected huge power but that power came from and was controlled by concepts thousands of light years away. To abuse that power would result in it being removed or the Enterprise destroyed. Not only did the power have to be directed as ordered, the wielders of that power were held to higher standards than all others — failing to live up to that higher standard would result in discipline or termination.

And so it should be with police officers – they should be held to a higher standard than citizens – and failure to meet those standards should be punishable by law and/or termination. The Tulsa officer should be charged with murder.

B Train Fuel Tanker

Website: http://picssr.com/tags/fueltanker

When I drove tractor-trailer, the power was expensive –$100+ per hour – and it was controlled by owners, customers, a huge regulatory regime, safety, licensing, training, mechanical inspections and maintenance, dispatch, computer and GPS tracking, etc, etc. Every one of those criteria and more had to be satisfied before the wheels turned. Like the pins on a lock tumbler falling into place, every criterion had to be met before I could drive the truck out the yard gate to load. And if at any time any one of the criterion ceased to be met, the truck had to stop. When I drove the truck I could feel the power of the vehicle surging through my veins with the constant knowledge that it had to be used as each criterion required and for the greater good. Again, the Tulsa officer did not meet the criteria for discharge of a weapon and she should be charged with murder.

Little Bitty
Backyard, Syracuse, N.Y.
Website: https://markbialczak.com/2015/05/05/first-cut-of-the-season-and-alls-well-in-syracuse/

Please join me in thanking Mark, Karen and Ellie B for their invitation to tea on this weekend. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Mark’s other posts while you’re here. Oh and roughseasinthemed, your bottle of chilled Muscadet will be on the table on ice every week now. Have a great week all.

Ellie B at Tea Time

Not moving, Da.

Not moving, Da.

39 thoughts on “Power

  1. Great post, Paul! There for a while, I had to tune out a lot of the media . . . I didn’t hear much about this one. PMOTH made some great points & I found the other comments interesting, as well AND I learned even more. America is definitely known for their love of guns, the 2nd Amendment, and the power the NRA yields. I’m a gun owner, but I also believe people should use common sense regarding gun ownership.

    Hope this finds you doing well 🙂


  2. Oh, good the party is still going on although I’m late. Move over Ellie. I brought you a Greenie from Molly.
    The world is really chaotic right now. You do know that officer has been charged with murder? We’ll see what her explanation is…I’m guessing being afraid he was going to get a gun and shoot her. But while the fear might have been real, the shoot doesn’t look justified.
    While part of what is a critical issue is that police pay is so low while the risk is high and it seems in order to fill the jobs places are making requirements lower and lower.
    Used to be police work required a college degree, but now only a year or two of community college is required in some places ( all state/municipalities have differeing requirements). Perhaps a bit of more maturity and some time/education to create skill in reasoning/judgement necessary for quick life and death decisions is needed.
    I can tell you that no matter the race or gender of the person of interest to the police – right now all the police are so scared of being sued/killed and touchy, thus trigger happy – that any contact by anyone with police is highly dangerous.
    I worry that if I was stopped Molly would be so protective that she would be shot and me injured as I tried to stop it/assure them she is only doing her job. Very dangerous times for all citizens – no matter who they are.
    Dad made sure we cleary understood as very young kids, that if a cop stopped us, to obey and say nothing, but just get to a safe place and call. The reason is never argue with anyone with a gun.
    It’s been scary this way for all for a very long time – especially in rural areas and in the Deep South. (You probably know that from driving routes so much) There are plenty of old movies – even an old Simpsons episode – about bad cops and dangerous interactions with police.
    Here where we’ve had diversity for a loooong time, our police force is mainly black – some Hispanic, vietnamese and Asian – even Muslim officers (uniform regulations accept religious clothing/facial hair). The controversal shooting in N Carolina involved a black officer. The media rarely mentions that.
    I’m really proud of the Dallas Police Chief and how he handled the crisis there.
    Everyone needs to calm down and take a deep breath…(and maybe those bums running in from out of town when there’s a problem to only burn, rob, and loot should also stay home.) Let the community do what it needs to do. Given a chance, people generally do what is right.
    Glad you’re back – no worries – after being puncutal and meeting schedules for year, you are free and clear to be flexible.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you, Paul. For a very thoughtful and well thought out perspective on explaining a situation that,along with occurring at rates that defies explanation, is also far too often lacking plain and simple common sense all around it. In short, I agree with your conclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Paul
    I’m not up on American shootings overall, just that there seem to be rather a lot of them, and when police are concerned, the victims are usually black. That one where three (?) of them shoved the bloke to the pavement and shot him was horrific. I’m another one who would suggest manslaughter not murder in this case though. Police are in a difficult position in a trigger-happy society, protecting the public, apprehending villains: praised one minute, vilified the next.
    When I was in the UK we had similar racist accusations about the Met (London police) and there was an inquiry held. Lots of recommendations made to reduce racism. Don’t know how much, if at all, racism has reduced from the perspective of the black person on the street though.
    I’m wondering, do all police who kill non-threatening blacks get charged with murder?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi roughseas. Great to have you visit. No, all police who kill non-threatening blacks are not charged with murder. the racism is so ingrained in some, that even the investigators don’t see it. personally I believe that anyone given he power to kill, has to be held accountable. part of the job. Here’s a similar situation with a very different outcome: https://donofalltrades.com/2016/09/21/big-black-and-crazy-but-alive/
      So there are options
      thanks again for the visit roughseas.


      • Thanks for the interesting link. Must have taken some courage, and I agree with the OP that having black people around to speak to him must have defused the situation somewhat. Tribalism huh? I asked about all police officers being charged with murder/manslaughter because it struck me that a lot of this publicity focuses on a woman police officer killing a black man. Is it relevant that she’s a woman? Seems to be. Not only do we have ingrained racism, we have ingrained sexism. Woman officer = incompetent.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Here in Aotearoa New Zealand we frequently see news items on American violence and especially American police violence. From my perspective and most of those people I know, the gender of the officer is irrelevant as is their competence. The issue is intrinsic racism in the society which allows (a) an officer to think that race is a significant factor in the potential danger a person might present, and (b) the consequences of acting on those beliefs are such that they actually reinforce ethnic stereotypes.

        One fascination in all of this is that in America the term race is dicussed, which to us refers to one’s physical appearance only, whereas here we’re more likely to discuss (and have prejudices involving) culture and ethnicity.

        Liked by 1 person

      • If the sex of the officer is irrelevant, why is it being pointed out that she’s a woman police officer, and not just a police officer?

        I think NZ is a very different kettle of fish. While I haven’t been to the US (too many guns), I have spent time in NZ, although it was last century. Maybe it’s changed although when I was last there I thought a lot of effort was being made to level the playing field for Maoris while still respecting their cultural traditions. I probably agree, in America race seems to = white/non-white.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Hello Paul, I think she should be charged for murder. What was going on in her mind when she pulled the trigger??? She had not only murdered a black man but she had robbed his wife and children of a husband and father. (っ- ‸ – ς) BTW, I like the picture of the Fuel Tanker. Good catching up with you, Paul. The e-cakes are delish! Here’s a cupcake for you, Ellie B! {pat!pat!).~(=^‥^)_旦~

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Here in Aotearoa New Zealand the police are not routinely armed, and it’s difficult to comprehend the American situation.

    Especially difficult to understand is the per capita rate of police shootings, which is higher than the rate of ALL shootings in NZ.

    As to whether the shooting was murder or manslaughter, I feel the appropriate charge would be murder. Murder does not require premeditation. I’m not sure what the situation is in the U.S. but here a jury can find someone guilty of manslaughter instead of murder if the evidence presented shows that is a more appropriate conviction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Barry. Here in Canada some jurisdictions will allow a manslaughter finding for a murder charge but some won’t. If the officer entered the situation with a bias that caused her to shoot and kill and unarmed man who was not threatening her, then that is premeditation. Expecting to use deadly force in a non-threatening situation, is definitely premeditation – and a smart lawyer could easily prove. I personally think that officers should be held to a higher level of responsibility than citizens as they have the power and the training and the support network, etc. There is a policeman in St. Louis that I follow and he described a similar situation that turned out very differently recently; https://donofalltrades.com/2016/09/21/big-black-and-crazy-but-alive/

      It certainly is worth a read and ponder.

      Thanks so much Barry for the visit and comment – thoughtful and interesting as always.


      • One other consideration, is that here police shootings are always investigated as a possible homicide, internally by the police and separately by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

        I liked that officers statement “at the end of the day, we as police officers fail when we kill somebody, even when it’s justified”. Surely all police should get training to this level, even if at times, being human, they trip up.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Paul, first of all, your post was a joy. I relished reading it.

    As for the Tulsa situation, the officer apparently assumed the man she shot was on PCP, largely because she is trained in that. The saying goes, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That may have been the case here.

    I don’t think anyone outside of the military should have a gun. I have been in every kind of circumstance, slums, favelas, jungle, wilderness, boondocks, and never ever needed a gun. They lead to mistakes and when law enforcement assume people are packing, they shoot first and ask questions later. Tazers would do the same thing.

    Further, the commentary from the helicopter was “he looks like a bad dude”. Why, because he was big and black? Disgraceful. You are right, racism is rampant in this country and the racists just don’t see themselves as such. They have the nerve to blame it on the President, of all people. A very disturbing situation all around.

    I hope I didn’t overstep my bounds here on your special space Paul. If you think I did, feel free to delete it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome Beth! Thanks so much for dropping by for a read and comment. Your words were perfect – no issue at all. I like people with strong opinions who have thought them through – which you obviously have. The cops forget where their power comes from and as soon as they do that disaster ensues. It would be like the Enterprise blowing up a ship they met simply because the ship didn’t respond. There could be a thousand reasons why that was so and it does not fall into any if the criteria which allow engaging with violence. To me it is as if the police have come to think of themselves as privileged to use deadly force when they choose – which is bull.

      Anyway, great that you came for a visit Beth. I am honored.


  8. I’m a big fan of regulations like those you described for trucking, and a similar concept should be revisited with the police. The majority are fair and decent and do their jobs. But there have always been those who don’t. I agree with CM, it seems more like manslaughter than murder. Then again, none of us was there, and the video can’t show us what’s in anyone’s head or heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good post, Paul. As a newly licensed pistol-packin’ mama, I’ll reserve opining about the NRA and other legal gun owners. However, I do agree that some police officers today have become drunk on power. I don’t know if it’s poor training or failure to properly vet new officers – I offer my pscyho wannabe cop neighbor as a prime example of someone whose job requires a gun but who should never have been permitted to hold one in the first place. Fortunately, the majority of United States police officers take their jobs and responsibilities very seriously – 99% of them would not have shot an unarmed man for any reason. I agree that the Tulsa officer should be charged at least with manslaughter, although murder (which requires premeditation) might be a stretch. There might have been something else going on in the moment that we’re not aware of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi CM! ultimately the power used by the officer who shot comes from the citizens. If she was not threatened or protecting another citizen — she just murdered the black man. I’m not sure what attenuating circumstances there could be – it is pretty clear. You are right, there are officers who do not grasp the fact that the power is for protection and unless it is used that way it is not authorized.

      Thanks so much for dropping by CM — I am honored as always. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Paul, I agree with you completely. She has been charged with first degree manslaughter; I think she should have been charged with murder. It’s appalling to me the United States doesn’t have a federal exam police officers must pass – and retake yearly – in order to become and continue to be officers. This country is unfortunately and tragically ensconced in gun culture and violence. Too many mass shootings, too many racial killings, and nothing has been done. Our citizens pray for change, desire change, yet the NRA gun lobby seems to have too much money, is too powerful and has too much sway over our politicians to make necessary changes. It is truly sad.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not a lawyer or a police officer, but I do think that as the law is written, manslaughter is the correct charge. Murder takes premeditation, as in if she pulled him over with the intention of killing him, then it’s Murder. Shooting him was wrong, but unless they can prove she planned to kill him prior to the moment of pulling the trigger and didn’t act “in the heat of the moment,” then manslaughter fits.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Paul, you may be surprised to hear that the controveries over the US shootings are being very much debated here in Ireland.
    We have trouble getting our heads around them as we don’t have an armed police force ( except for some special units). It all seems to be very sad, tragic and out of control.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much fro dropping by Jean. We have armed police in Canada but accidental or questionable shootings are very rare. I can only recall one in Toronto. The officer in Tulsa said that the black man would not obey orders. She was not alone and one of the other officers tasered the man at the same time she shot him. He was easy 40 feet from the officers when the action happened and had his back to them. The police chief was immediately on TV and said that there was no gun in the man’s possession and none in the car. It does not bode well for the officer who shot.

      You’d have to travel the US and speak with folks from different sub-cultures to understand. Racism is such a part of their beliefs and society that it is mind blowing and they don’t even recognize it. Mind you the US is a big country and there are folks who don’t have any racism in them, but until push comes to shove there is no way to know.

      Thanks so much for dropping by Jean. I hope your and Stan’s week goes well.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you so much Mark for allowing me to guest post and going out of your way to post it after the challenging week we both have had wrt posting. I am honored.


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