Last week former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter was sentenced to two years in prison for the manslaughter conviction of the 2021 accidental shooting of Duante Wright. The shooting occurred on April 11th of last year when Potter pulled over 20-year old Wright and his girlfriend for expired tabs (not for having “air fresheners” hanging from his rear view mirror, that was a distortion of the incident that the media ran with). After his license was run, it was found that Wright had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for “first-degree aggravated robbery, fleeing from police, and possession of a handgun without a permit” when he tried to rob a woman in 2019. When the police attempted to handcuff Wright, he resisted, jumped back into his vehicle and tried to escape. During the ensuing struggle, Potter shouted “Taser, taser, taser!” but instead mistakenly drew her pistol and shot Wright, who managed to drive away before he succumbed to his wounds and died at the scene.
With the memories of the death of George Floyd still fresh in people’s minds, the Wright shooting prompted what now seems to be the requisite reaction when a white officer shoots a black suspect- rioting, looting and massive protests. Furthermore, as is also standard with these kind of shootings, racial-rousing carpetbaggers like Maxine Waters and Benjamin Crump show up to lend then support and incitement to the protests. Eventually Governor Tim Walz called in the National Guard to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.
The trial took place in late December of 2021 and lasted for three days, where it was clear when Potter broke down on the stand, that the shooting was a tragic but fatal mistake. When she was eventually found guilty of 1st and 2nd degree manslaughter, the reactions to her conviction were mix of the sort of acrimonious and menacing glee that we’ve all become accustomed to on social media. Members of Wright’s family expressed their happiness with the outcome and hoped to "let that b**** rot in hell." When the time came for Potter’s sentencing though, that happiness turned to rage. Judge Regina Chu said that, “this is one of the saddest cases I’ve had on my 20 years on the bench...this is a cop who made a tragic mistake” and sentenced Potter to two years in prison, which was less than the 7 year maximum allowed under Minnesota law.
Wright’s family and other activists felt cheated, as everyone from Benjamin Crump to law professors to anyone with an opinion dragged everything but the facts of the case and the laws of Minnesota into their reaction to the two year sentence. The comments revolved around the standard Black Lives Matter narrative about systematic racism in America, as Duante’s mother Katie Wright said, “Kim Potter murdered my son on April 11th, today the justice system murdered him all over again.” While his father, Aubrey Wright, talked about how they thought they were gonna “were gonna get a little justice...knowing this lady was gonna pay [for Duante’s death]” but “now I walk outta this courtroom thinking that people are laughing at us because this lady got a slap on the wrist, and we still every night sitting around crying, waiting on my son to come home.”
The first thing that needs to be said is that we should give a fare amount of leeway to the words of Duante’s parents, since they are obviously still grieving their son’s death. Some have even personally expressed to me that Duante’s parents are really being manipulated into saying the things they have. In reality, it is probably accurate to say that both are true in this case, the Wright’s are still broken over their son’s death and it is clear that activists are weaponizing the Wright’s grief to push a preexisting “narrative.” Furthermore, given the contentious tenor of our times, we should not dismiss the idea that the beliefs espoused by BLM are fully believed and supported by the Wrights, thus requiring no manipulation.
If this is the case, the Potter sentencing is yet another examples of how Americans are living in two different worlds. For a mother to feel that her son was “murdered all over again” and a father to thinking that people are “laughing at him” because they didn’t get the verdict they wanted, demonstrates how these differing worlds we now live in have their own distinct legal, moral, and cultural milieu which rarely converge and are drifting further and further apart.
Finally, considering the actions and rhetoric of BLM and the Wrights, it is clear that their cry for “justice” is really a demand for the established laws and legal traditions of the state of Minnesota to take a backseat to feelings and ideologies of the aggrieved. To turn away from our nation’s Judeo-Christian and English Common Law roots, and replacing it with a revolutionary ethics that seeks to engage in Oxbow Incident-style mob incited violence and intimidation by one group to cow and control another. Interestingly enough, this is precisely what the formulation of an “eye for an eye” was meant to address in the ancient world where barbarism was the norm and unending reprisals against whole populaces was the action taken to avenge personal offenses. Is this really where we want to be progressing to?
Pedophiles in Big Tech
Last week Jeren Miles, a manager of community development at Meta (Facebook’s parent company) and who served on the board of Equality California (an LGBTQ advocacy group), was caught up in an amateur pedophile sting operation. According to reporter Andy Ngo, Miles was sending explicit messages to someone he thought was a 13-year old boy and had even suggested meeting at a hotel when Miles (who lives in Palm Springs, California) was going to be in Columbus, Ohio on business. Posing as the underage boy, was an online group called Predator Catchers Indianapolis, whose co-founder Eric Schmutte tracked down Miles at the hotel he had mentioned in his texts and interviewed him for over two hours.
Miles admitted to “flirting” and“giving information” and a “location” in his texts to someone who told Miles that he was a minor. Schmutte told Ngo that they had sent screen shots “to the Columbus, Ohio and Palm Springs, California Police Departments" and will let them decide how to proceed with the case from there. Needless to say Miles was fired from Meta, who’s spokesman actually tried to pressure a reporter at Tech Crunch named Ingrid Lunden to drop the story. He “resigned” from the Equality California board, and all of his social media presence, both personal and at the places he worked or volunteered at, was scrubbed to remove as many online traces of him as possible.
This case passed under the radar of the legacy media, but people like Miles are far from uncommon in the world of Big Tech and the media. In December of 2021, CNN producer John Griffin was charged with three counts of attempting to “entice minors to engage in unlawful sexual activity”, as well as sending graphic and salacious texts to his fiancé about his fantasies about her own teenage daughter. Around the same time Sony fired one of their PlayStation executives George Cacioppo after he too was caught on video by an amateur online watchdog group called People vs. Preds trying to meet up with what he thought was a 15 year old boy for sex.
It is regrettable that these kind of stories have, as the result of both the breakdown of traditional social/sexual mores and the increase in tolerating dysfunction and deviance in our culture, become more commonplace. In the past most of us agreed that even if our society was lax about protecting the moral innocence of our kids, at least we agreed that their physical innocence and security should be protected. In fact some may remember Dateline NBC’s hugely popular and influential series To Catch a Predator that ran between 2004-07, and shed a light on the lecherous and predatory elements found in internet chat rooms and on social media. If anything, it certainly inspired the creation of the two kinds of online watchdog groups mentioned above.
And yet, within less than a decade after the To Catch a Predator series Salon ran its infamous “I’m a Pedophile but Not a Monster” article which attempted to paint a sympathetic picture of a man who called himself a “minor-attracted person.” Then there was the bizarre and prattling TED talk given by Mirjam Heine in 2018 where she was unclear about whether pedophilia was just another “sexual orientation” or a “mindset” all the while eliding over any talk about the morality of it. And as recently as this month a State University of New York professor, Stephan Kershnar, was put on administrative leave after he made a Tik-Tok video defending pedophilia as not being “obviously” right or wrong.
The long “slouching towards Gomorrah” that Judge Robert Bork warned my generation about so many years ago, has turned into a full blow slide, as our culture has in many ways given up on defending children. There was a time when people whose morals and interests hovered around the fringes of acceptable society, were through a combination of social pressure and ostracization “encouraged” to changed their ways- which to be fair were not always done in the most gentle or just manner. But it was done for the sake of social cohesion and the security of communities, especially its most vulnerable members.
All that changed with the advent of the internet. The same technology that allowed us to communicate with people all over the world, also allowed sexual deviants and predators to find and communicate with others like themselves. Not only did they no longer feel isolated and alone, but the unbridled tolerance in our society led them to believe that their desires were normal and commonplace. From that perspective, the Salon article and Heine’s TED Talk make much more sense, in that if you belong to a larger worldwide community that shares your prurient proclivities, it’s not hard to see how these people felt justified in asking to be treated like anyone else.
With that in mind, it seems that the connection between Big Tech or online media and the presence sexual predators there, is a fitting one. Unlike the toxic alphas like the Cuomo brothers or Jeffrey Zucker who are outright sexual harassers, sexual predators are more at comfortable working (grooming) in the background and out of the lime light. These kinds of tech jobs are the perfect environment for such predators, and while it is convenient to pick on CNN the sad truth is that anywhere there is internet access these predators will be stalking their prey. Let us hope then, that there are intrepid souls either in law enforcement or private citizens that are out in cyberspace finding and exposing these predators.
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