Pharyngula

The cameraman speaks

We’re learning a bit more about the fellow who was maced and arrested in Chicago, thanks to the efforts of the Chicago Ethical Humanist Society; members of that group are busily writing to me to let me know the Whole Truth of the incident, and why they were justified in siccing the police on Sunsara Taylor’s cameraman. It’s weird, though: they keep telling me how bad and awful and wicked this fellow is — his name is Gregory Koger, by the way — but they won’t say what he did that justified the police assault on him. And that is dismaying. The ethical society doesn’t seem to care much about ethics and logic and justice.

So I got this email:

PZ, this is the man – in his own words – whom Taylor recruited to be her cameraman.

What do you think she thought his reaction would be when told by the police to stop/leave?! She knew he would snap, fight, and would get pulverized in the process.

Are you still full of admiration for her?

I followed the link, and the answer to the question is more complicated than a yes or no.

Koger is an admitted jailbird. He committed some very serious crimes and served some very serious jail time. He probably is a little bit scary; maybe a bit frustrated, and definitely angry with the system.

Yet when you go to that link, what you also discover is that he’s ambitious and is trying to improve himself through education. He thinks, he writes, he studies. He’s active in the Communist Party, which, while I don’t care much for the revolutionary agenda, is definitely motivated by a strong sense of social justice, and I can understand why someone who is being judged by the comfortable bourgeoisie as a thug who deserves to be beat up by the police would find it appealing.

What I can’t understand is how someone who identifies themselves as an ethical humanist would decide this fellow human being was nothing but a mad dog brought to the event to provoke a violent incident. What they don’t understand is that I’m not speaking out because I idolize Bob Avakian (I don’t) or think Maoism is the answer (I don’t) or that I think Sunsara Taylor should not be criticized (not at all) — it’s because the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago is betraying what ought to be the basic principles of such a society: tolerance, engagement, argument, discussion.

One of the things I do admire about the Communists is that they do reach out to the poor, the oppressed, the imprisoned, and they try to address the injustices our society commits. It’s a shame that ethical humanists can’t do the same, but instead treat a former criminal as a pariah who has to be put down.

The members of the EHSC should really stop writing me. Every time they do, I’m a little more appalled at their attitude.