Jun 12, 2023·edited Jun 12, 2023Liked by Steve QJ

I read an article on Afro.com recently that attributed Penny’s actions to “subliminal” or “subconscious” racism. So yes, Sigmund Freud has gotten into the act!

How this writer who is just sitting in a room somewhere knows about what is in Penny’s consciousness mind, nobody knows--much less in his “subconscious” mind.

I fully accept the possibility that Penny may have been a conscious racist, not to mention a “subconscious” one. But that is only one possibility among many possible explanations, and a possibility for which there is, as of now, no evidence that I know of.

The only explanation I can come up with for this type of projection is that there is a subset of people who WANT racist explanations for every misfortune that befalls some one of a particular race because it cuts off discussion of other, possibly more uncomfortable explanations.

What’s sad about this is there is PLENTY of real racism going around, and calling everything racist cheapens the impact of the genuine article. The boy who called wolf syndrome. So, it actually detracts from efforts to hold demonstrated racism to account.

But this type of thing--“subliminal” racism--will continue to be the norm as long as it has the intended effect. My only hope is that this type of thinking not infect our system of justice. So far as I know, “subconscious” racism has yet to be found the basis for a hate crime. But there’s always a first time.

PS. Nasty personal attacks have almost completely replaced argument on issues of race and gender. I don’t know how you keep your cool.

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“ The only explanation I can come up with for this type of projection is that there is a subset of people who WANT racist explanations for every misfortune that befalls some one of a particular race ”

I’m currently working on an article on this topic.

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Jun 12, 2023Liked by Steve QJ

I am very eager to read it, Steve. We share a deep interest in the neglected topic of the psychological impact of racism in the United States--both on “whites” and “blacks.” It’s unique in many ways.

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You might be interested in this article, which discusses heightened perception of racism caused by the focus on microagressions: https://freeblackthought.substack.com/p/the-best-microaggression-training-7e8

What jumped out at me and is tangentially related to your comment was this:

/begin quote/ “there is abundant research demonstrating that heightened perceptions of racism, discrimination, racialized violence and inequality have highly adverse effects on the psychological (and even physical) well-being of people of color. That is, the more people perceive themselves to be surrounded by others who harbor bias or hostility against them, and the more they view their life prospects as hostage to a system that is fundamentally rigged against them, the more likely they become to experience anxiety, depression, psychogenic and psychosomatic health problems, and to behave in antisocial ways.” (Emphasis in the original)

So, if you are trained to see more bias and racism, and if you therefore come to see more of it, this actually has well-established adverse impacts on the psychological and even physical well-being of people of color. /end quote/

One of the tenets that guides my choices in life is "you create what you focus on" or "you get more of what you focus on". It's just how it works on this planet for whatever reasons - the gods or evolution - take your pick. Our minds literally create reality in a certain way.

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Really interesting. The idea that micro aggressions are real, but cause little harm if you don’t let them get under your skin. But if everyone tells you they are delivered with hostile intent or gross insensitivity, then the harm is greatly magnified and much more difficult to rectify. Social relations among diverse groups crumble as a result.

Reminds me of Jonathan Haidt’s book The Coddling of the American Mind.

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Haidt’s 3 Great Untruths:

1. What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker

2. Always trust your feelings

3.Life is a battle between good people and evil people.

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Jun 15, 2023·edited Jun 15, 2023

Good stuff. I just listened to several of his Youtube videos last week. He has an original mind and is insightful thinker - quite eloquent as well. I have his book "The Righteous Mind" on my shortlist.

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The Righteous Mind is his best book. Worth reading very slowly as it is just packed with original and deeply insightful content, when you finish, put it down for a while and read it again. It’s that good.

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Jun 12, 2023·edited Jun 12, 2023Liked by Steve QJ

I already had a fair amount of sympathy for *all* concerned in the Jordan Neely case, but I have even more sympathy for the passengers, including Penny, after an event this weekend.

Was on the bus for a short trip to the mall when, before the bus was even out of the lot, some older guy took umbrage with a stranger in the back - a woman. He was in her face, threatening her, telling her 'this was her last warning' - about what, I'm not sure, but I was reminded of the whack job who accosted me and my friend last fall and accused my friend of stalking him all over Toronto - then strode to the front of the bus and continued hurling invectives at her. He never directly threatened to kill her but he made it sound like he might - "I will take you down! I will destroy you!" and I quietly put my book away and checked for my hair spray (wait, he's wearing sunglasses) and my formidable keychain (I have a cheap alligator-shaped bottle opener on there you do NOT want to fuck with!)

I took note of his vital stats and the number of the bus I was on and when a whack of us got off at the mall (including Travis Bickle) I called the police - got put on hold - hung up - talked to the security guards there since I saw where he went - the liquor store, oh yay - and then finally sat on a bench and filed a report via a mobile app available to us for such occasions.

I don't know what might have happened had he gotten violent on this woman but this was the *same station* where a woman was set fire to - and died - by a stranger last year, and I am NOT going down without a fight if someone ever accosts me.

I would have totally supported anyone who caught that guy in an armlock and restrained him. I totally support what Penny did and I'm sorry it went as far as it did, but sorry, in these insane times with so many clearly insane people wandering around, we have to be able to protect ourselves, and others. So no, I don't think it was 'white supremacy', and I deny that WS is even as pervasive as many believe it is - because it's an ideology based on the idea that white people are the superior race who should lord over all the darker 'inferiors', tangentially including women of all colours. WSs are racists but not all racists are WS.

There will be more stories like this, I'm afraid, before things get better, and in fact I wonder if there are more than we know, but they don't get media attention because the formula isn't right: White person takes down black person via Karenism, Penny, or what have you. Seeing as even more white men get taken down by the police than black men, including unarmed ones, and we never hear about *that*.

Hope I never have to fight back against an attacker but I'm not going to get shot, stabbed, slashed, or burned alive as has happened not just to Torontonians on the street, but on the transportation system, including to many TTC workers.

I asked someone at the station what I should do in a similar situation (me not being the victim) and they said if you think it's really critical, call 911 (hope I don't get put on hold, that happens too here) and he also told me what the bus drivers are trained to do in a hairy situation - they've got an alert on the dashboard they can push, one for 'dangerous situation on board' and another for 'need immediate help'.

P.S. This dude was white.

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Yeah, I think the people acting as if it’s totally unreasonable to be afraid around a strange man acting erratically in a confined space have either never been in that situation or are lying.

No sane person thinks that fear justifies killing Neely. But as I wrote in the article, tragedies are enormously more likely to happen when people are afraid. And if we can’t have a serious a conversation about *why* they were afraid, if we’re determined to pretend there’s nothing wrong with people in crisis from acting out in public, these things will keep happening.

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With apologies to Syndrome of The Incredibles, “If everything is White Supremacist, nothing is.”

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Jun 12, 2023Liked by Steve QJ

What surprises and truly frustrates is to notice someone I actually agree with suddenly become rude without provocation. It accomplishes nothing except advance our society’s accelerating tendency to dehumanize each other.

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Haha, sadly it doesn’t surprise me at all anymore. As I said, I don’t think she cares about Penny or Neely at all. They’re just a convenient topic to vent about.

But please let me know where you disagree.

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I don’t disagree with you on this one. It was more of a general comment on how frustrating it is to sometimes see the rudeness come from the people on “my side.” It feels like they’re undoing the progress made through the reasonable good faith work of someone like you.

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The narrative is god. Must feed the narrative.

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I had a similar interaction with a writer on Medium @martinaspeaks. She could only view the world through the lens of everything had a racist tinge and thought I was disrespecting writers because I suggested by attributing everything to racism and "white" people they are wallowing in victimhood.

They are being controlled by the vocal communities that focus on them being victims of the system racism in the divided states. Instead of focusing on the problem, I suggest they focus on creating a community that would represent the ideals of what they want to achieve. Is there a single community in the divided states that is even close to what the vocal Black community would view as not systematically racists. If they can't point to a single community or how that community would happen, they are just wallowing in victimhood. That view set marnitaspeaks to rail on my with many degrading judgements and epitaths.

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"𝘐 𝘴𝘢𝘺, 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘭𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘕𝘦𝘦𝘭𝘺'𝘴 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘤, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘗𝘦𝘯𝘯𝘺 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝒄𝒓𝒊𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒆𝒙𝒄𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒄𝒆 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘬𝘦𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝙛𝙖𝙧 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨."

I'm going to grumble a bit about this.

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I'm curious how Steve supports that assertion as well.

From the accounts, people were trapped in a moving metal box with Neely until the next station, and they did now know whether Neely had any weapons on him (like a knife or razor, much less a gun).

Neely continued to actively struggle for most of the way to the next station, and it took three people's combined efforts (one with a headlock) to restrain him.

Only towards the end did Neely stop struggling, at which point he was put in a recovery position.

So, put yourself in the place of the person (Penny) barely able to hold Neely using a headlock, with the help of two others.

(1) How would you have confidently restrained him without a headlock? What if you failed?

(2) In that context, what other restraint which was "legal" force would have successfully restrained Neely?

(3) At what point during the active struggle would you have released the headlock and decided to take your chances?

This will all be up to a jury to decide now, given a lot more evidence than we have. But I think it's premature to anybody to decide for the jury, and without that fuller evidence, that the force used was indeed "criminal", or that they should have known that the headlock needed to be release while Neely was still actively struggling.

In an ideal world, we would all carry phasers with a 100% reliable and safe "stun" setting for such cases (or be able to use Spock's pinch). But in practice, it's very hard to both *reliably and safely* incapacitate people using your bare hands, and there is always going to be some risk of failing to restrain or of harming the restrainer or restrained.

And Marines are not trained in that balance of reliable restraint with near zero possibility of harm. Very, very few people are. Should that mean that nobody else should ever intervene?

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This one is pretty easy to support; Penny has been charged with second degree manslaughter, a criminal offence, for the force he used on Neely.

Penny didn’t use a headlock. He used what is known as a rear naked choke. It’s a blood choke, illegal for people like the police to use, precisely because it’s very dangerous. As a former marine, he almost certainly new this.

As for “far too long,” a well applied rear naked choke will render somebody unconscious in around 10 seconds (here’s a video demonstration - https://youtube.com/shorts/2PnYfDWzO74?feature=share). We see Penny holding onto the choke for far longer than this in just the portion that was recorded. He’s also holding it *extremely* tightly.

To be very clear, I don’t think for a second that Penny intended to kill Neely. I think he was caught up in the adrenaline and fear of the moment and made a tragic mistake. I think the urge to restrain Neely was reasonable but the *way* he did it was excessive.

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1. Let's be more cautious about assertions.

> 𝘐 𝘴𝘢𝘺, 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘭𝘦,... 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘗𝘦𝘯𝘯𝘺 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝒄𝒓𝒊𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒆𝒙𝒄𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒄𝒆

> Penny has been charged with second degree manslaughter, a criminal offence

The first is an assertion that he is guilty of a crime, the second that he has been charged but not yet convicted of a crime. I'm sure we all know the difference, and you often use your words more carefully.

2. There is not yet a uniform ban on police using carotid holds, although many departments and governments have instituted such bans in the past three years because of the dangers. But why do you think his past marine combat training would have taught him what civilian police holds will be banned in the future?

Or do you just mean that he should know that it's dangerous if strongly and continually applied? I will assume the latter until you clarify otherwise.

3. Let's look more deeply at:

> As for “far too long,” a well applied rear naked choke will render somebody unconscious in around 10 seconds.

> We see Penny holding onto the choke for far longer than this in just the portion that was recorded. He’s also holding it *extremely* tightly.

Yet the testimony is that Neely continued to struggle for several minutes as they waited for the next station, and that it required two additional people to restrain him, despite what you consider an "extremely tight" hold which should have rendered him unconscious in seconds. How can this substantial discrepancy be accounted for?

Well, in Penny's words:

> In the video statements, Penny also defended how he restrained Neely. He said that he adjusted his grip on Neely “based on the force that he’s exerting” and that Neely was breathing in the video.

That would be more consistent with the facts of Neely's prolonged resistance, and with your assertion that Penny should know that it's potentially dangerous, than your account. We'll see how the jury decides.

But the truth is that WE DO NOT KNOW enough yet.

You are basically present the prosecution's case as the truth, but the jury will hear that case in great detail - alongside the case from the defense - before rendering a verdict.

You are essentially maintaining that you already know that the prosecution is correct and that Penny is a criminal. I on the other hand am NOT saying that the force used was reasonable, I am asserting that we have not heard from all the experts and witnesses - for both sides - to the degree which would be necessary to so confidently determine Penny's guilt or innocence of a crime, as a jury will eventually do.

I think that the case is still more ambiguous than you do (from what we know so far), and neither of us knows for sure.

Meanwhile, there stands the question of what unquestionably legal and safe restraints would have worked instead. Take a crack at that, please, if you will.

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1. True. I still think the excessive part of that sentence is beyond doubt. But criminally is to be decided.

2. As far as I’m aware there is a ban on police officers using carotid golds. But regardless, as a marine, Penny’s training in unarmed combat would have included RNCs. It’s part of standard training.

3. I’m not sure I’ve seen testimony regarding the duration of the hold. And yes, Penny obviously didn’t have the hold well applied for the entire duration. But the spawning we see in the video, similar to the spawning in the video I linked, occurs after the person being held is unconscious.

I’m maintaining that I understand the technicalities of the hold and the effect on the body. Which I do.

So yeah, happy to retract the “criminally” part of that sentence. But the rest is not in dispute for anybody with blood choke training.

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What can look like a rear naked choke might not actually be one. He was restrained for quite a long time and was struggling to where others piled on. He positively didn't have him in a blood choke the whole time. Was it because he failed to get it in place during the struggle or because he was just trying to restrain him? I don't know the answer to that. I've been restrained with that where my instructor's forearm was along my jaw, not on the carotid. If you were watching, you would swear it was a carotid choke. It wasn't, but it was damned uncomfortable, and I was restrained.

I just watched the video for the first time. For the first part he struggled long enough to think he was in a chin lock. It even looked like that during the part of the video where that was viewable. The restraint lasted too long after he quit struggling, but could Penney properly feel Neely go limp with the others involved? Did he feel them moving? We don't know.

A man died so it lasted too long, but it was probably not a properly applied choke for the length of the incident. Unfortunately, the jury won't be able to properly assess that either, but they will form a verdict.

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That’s exactly how the NYC DAs office likely saw it. You have a good prosecutor’s sense of proportionality. I grew up in that world.

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