Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Death of Whitey Bulger

I never thought I would be upset to see Whitey Bulger die. But somehow that happened. Because Bulger's death, like Bulger's life, promoted organized crime.

I'm seeing a lot of the usual nonsense about the man, filled with praise he never deserved, from people who should know better. I blogged about the Whitey myth, and the way he the press builds him up into a folk hero, back when he was first arrested:
Bulger is the last Irish-American mob leader who's likely to control even a slice of the underworld in a major American city. He is ethnically similar to many of the journalists and editors covering him, and they obviously love writing about him. He's the last gangster who looks like Jimmy Cagney, so even very good coverage of him gets tinged with sympathy and sentimentality that Bulger has never come close to deserving. It's a nostalgia trip. Reporters call Bulger "colorful," but it's only because he's so very pale.
But I'm also seeing various tough-guy iterations of "he had it coming." But Whitey Bulger died because the Mafia (the Italian-American Mafia, which still persists in the Northeast) orchestrated a revenge killing inside a high-security federal prison.

The Mafia being able to murder snitches in a federal prison is a very, very bad thing. Don't celebrate that because you didn't like that particular snitch. I loathed and despised Bulger, but I'm not happy about La Cosa Nostra having an 89-year-old man beaten to death in his cell.

Bulger was killed because he crossed the Patriarca crime family, the New England mob, and therefore by extension their godless Genovese-Family patrons in New York. And to hell with Whitey, but to hell with those guys even more.

Those of who've still bought into the whole colorful-gangster bullshit about Whitey are invited to check out my post here. Those of you whooping it up over his brutal death (some of whom are the same people), just remember: Whitey Bulger died to make other criminals safer from punishment. Safer to rob you and safer to kill you. Pardon me if I don't applaud.

cross-posted from, and all comments welcome at Dagblog

Friday, October 26, 2018

Talk Like Crazy People Are Listening

Dear politicians: talk like crazy people are listening to you. Because they are. We're a big country, with hundreds of millions of people and no guaranteed health care. That means there are a lot of Americans who are mentally ill, and a lot of those people can't get proper treatment. Every time you speak in public, remember that there are some disturbed people who will take what you say, whatever you say, seriously, and that they might act on it.

We've been having a lot of public debates about "responsibility," 'unity," "civility," and other complicated, nuanced words that are easy to twist around to mean different things. So I'm going to keep it simple. Every public figure speaking in public has got to remember that some crazy people are listening. Don't say anything that those people will understand as a call to violence.

But won't mentally ill people misunderstand things, and hear calls to violence that weren't intended that way? Yes. Exactly. They may well hear you calling for blood when you thought you were carefully staying on the right side of the line. That's why you should get nowhere near the line, at all, ever.

This rule is not hard. Don't act like it's not simple.

There are troubled people watching TV and listening to the radio and reading the internet all day, and they have trouble sorting out what's real. Don't scare those people into using bombs or guns.

But what if the talk-like-crazy-people-are-listening rule cramps my style? What if it takes away my big rally lines that excite the crowd, or the new spike in my ratings? What then?

Then you're risking people's lives for personal gain. What good do you think is going to come of that?

cross-posted from Dagblog; all comments welcome there, rather than here