Before Republicans do it for them.
When Hollywood started making movies, directors and producers soon hit an inexorable, immutable question as old as the Lascaux Cave paintingsthemselves, and probably much older.
In art, where is the line between expression and indecency?
As Hollywood geared up for its gilded age, Congressional hearings on the subject, and subjectivity, of what constitutes as pornography in film were almost intentionally vague.
“We can’t define it,” elected officials at the highest level declared before dealing the fledgling movie industry a coup de gras; “but we’ll know it when we see it.”
Is it any wonder movie producers immediately looked for a way out from under such an all-encompassing and enduring edict? That kind of guideline might be wielded by anyone in the fullness of time. Political parties come and go; politicians and elected officials with varying degrees of squeamishness and/or prudishness come and go. In art as in life, one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
There was only one thing to do, and the movie industry did it post-haste.
The genius move, as counterintuitive as it might seem, was for Hollywood to censor itself before the U.S. Federal Government, in all its manifest glory, could do it for them.
And the movie-rating system was born.
By giving their movies ratings- setting pre-determined acceptable levels for sex, violence, profanity, and every other scandalous device directors wanted to use- the movie industry was able to preemptively satisfy government regulators itching to meddle with success. Movie executives were able to control the whole process and prosper.
As any student of warfare, sports, or politics can tell you, the best defense is a good offense.
With this principle in mind, Democrats digging out from the Afghanistan situation have a clear course of action: Conduct a thorough, transparent investigation so that Republicans, and many Democratic allies, will not feel the need to do so, thereby dragging out the process.
There is another subject about which Democrats are anxious to turn a blind eye, and about which no one is talking- yet.
We still have no idea how much the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests cost, but Republicans, if they manage to take the House back, will be anxious to find out. It won’t be hard, either.
Determining the total dollar amount of insurance claims filed during that time as a result of social unrest is something to which any conservative investigative journalist could turn their attention at any moment.
One report by Axios is the only hard-hitting reporting which has been done thus far on this subject, which is bound to be unpopular- on the left. The report by Axios found that the riots which accompanied many of the 2020 protests were the most expensive in history, estimating the damage between $1 and $2 billion dollars.
Astute observers might note the oddly ballpark nature of the estimation. There is, after all, quite a distance between $1 and $2 billion dollars.
Even more astute observers might note that the Axios report covered only a two-week period- from late May to mid-June- and that violent protests and riots continued in many places long after June 15, 2020.
How can Democrats get out ahead of this?
Easy. Beat Republicans to the punch on the Summer of Love.
There is an overall sense, on the right and left, that the perpetrators of the worst of the violence and property destruction during the protests aren’t facing justice and are skating on all charges.
Some of the worst perpetrators, and certainly those who posted their crimes to social media or live-streamed them, are in the process of facing justice at this very moment.
St. Paul man sentenced, fined $12 million in Minneapolis Third Precinct fire
Branden Michael Wolfe, 23, was sentenced to 41 months in prison and was ordered to pay $12 million in restitution…
Accross the country, district attorneys, federal prosecutors, et al are dilligently sorting through the wreckage for the culprits.
The vast majority of people attending protests in 2020 were law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutional rights in their own communities. Some were criminals who drove from states away to take advantage of the general unrest to commit crimes.
These crimes, whether Democrats admit it or not, badly hurt the BLM movement- if polls are to be believed. At the end of May 2020, with the public still reeling from the horrifying murder of George Floyd, BLM enjoyed very favorable ratings. Those ratings fell precipitously in the months which followed as crime, destruction and blight settled in the wake of the widespread protests.
Ignoring this reality will not make it go away. Facing it head on means prosecuting those responsible for the worst of the destruction.
Democrats should have no reservations about the optics of this. Legitimate BLM activists, allies, and ordinary protestors will not be gobbled up by the U.S. justice system. On the contrary. Peaceful protestors will not suffer any consequences whatsoever.
The people being arrested and charged with the worst acts of destruction and excess during the protests already have lengthy police records. They are already well known to law enforcement and have little affinity, if any at all, to the Black Lives Matter movement, other than their opportunistic, mercenary, and criminal ride on its coattails.
When it comes to criminal justice reform, kicking these individuals off the BLM coattail is as important as redirecting police budgets away from unnecessary military equipment and into community services. As a wise man once said: “There is a reason baloney rejects the grinder.”
Of course a band of criminals would want to defund and dismantle police departments. And communities, full of voting Republicans, moderate Democrats, and Independents, will reject that plan 10 times out of 10.
Criminals who used the protests as cover for criminal activity cannot be associated with efforts to reform policing for this reason.
The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but they do turn. And justice is one of those things which must be done, and be seen to be done. By confronting the excesses of the Summer of Love before anyone else has a chance, Democrats can control the narrative.
If Republicans and conservative media are allowed to run roughshod over the process, it won’t benefit Democrats running in 2022, or 2024.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)