SYNDICATED COLUMN: Americans Are Stupid

Americans are dumb.

That’s what people say. Especially foreigner non-American people.

But lots of Americans think that Americans are stupid. Not them, of course. They think other Americans are stupid.

It will not, even if you’re an idiot, come as a shock when I admit here that one of the Americans who think Americans are intellectually challenged is me.

Moronitude exists everywhere, of course. What makes stupidity in America stand out is that most Americans — the dumb ones — don’t think it’s bad to be dumb. Far from being ashamed, they’re dumb and proud. To the contrary — the dumb ones make fun of the small-and-constantly-shrinking population of intelligent ones: the “nerds.”

Want to study astrophysics? You’re a geek. No prom date for you!

I haven’t been everywhere, but I’ve traveled a lot, and what historians have documented as the tradition of anti-intellectualism in America seems to be pretty unique. Even Australia, land of our cultural Anglo-Saxon brethren, where dwarf-tossing was a thing (and for all I know may still be), never had an actual political party called the Know Nothings. We did, and not only that, but when historians reference the Know Nothings, no one ever chortles in derision. They nod knowingly. Maybe.

Flat affect. That’s what we do.

From “The Simpsons” to Green Day’s punk rock opera “American Idiot” to the semi-banned Mike Judge movie “Idiocracy,” our cultural commentators have taken repeated stabs at our “dumb and proud” national attitude. Yet it doesn’t change.

This, after all, is a country in which smart people have to pretend, in the words of an old ’80s song by Flipper, to “act stupider than you really are” in order to fit in.

Reality TV and televangelists aside, nothing epitomizes the national cult of stultification more clearly than our electoral politics. On the Republican side, well-read men and women of considerable accomplishment and with impressive educational credentials that belie what I am about to describe find themselves pretending to believe in things they and everyone else with half a brain can’t possibly believe to be true — because so of the voters they need are just that damned stupid. This is how we get Ted Cruz, no dummy he, pretending not to believe that climate change is caused by humans. Not to mention a bunch of governors and senators — senators! — claiming to think the earth is about 6,000 years old because: Bible. And to believe in “God.”

Just last week, a friend who hung out with George W. Bush told me something I’ve heard often enough before to believe: the guy is actually smart.

In a way, this comes as a relief, because: launch codes. Also Yale and Harvard. Even a legacy admit shouldn’t be half as much of the colossal idiot brush-clearing hick Bush pretended to be his entire political life.

There were hints of Bush’s non-stupidity. Every now and then, his aw-shucks cornpone veneer would flake off, the Connecticut Yankee inflection of a grandson of Prescott Bush peeking out like the cobblestones and streetcar tracks of an old paved-over road after a hard winter. That stupid accent — all fake!

Which reminded me of something Bush biographer Kitty Kelly reported: after losing a local election in Texas, Dubya swore, Scarlet-like, to never get out-countrified again. And he didn’t. And it worked.

How depressing.

Given how much I beat up Generalissimo El Busho while he was bombing and Gitmo-ing and bank-bailing, it’s only fair that I point out: he’s one of many. Obama and Hillary both apply a reverse-classist downscaling filter to their locutions, and Jesus H. W. Christ, it’s so over-the-top phony, am I the only one who can tell?

Speaking of which, I attribute all of the Bernie Sanders-Donald Trump surge to the two outsiders’ surprisingly unscripted authenticity, part of which derives from their unspun, startling, old-school New York accents. Platform planks have taken a back seat to reality. Which says something.

Not that the two mavericks of right and left aren’t forced to breathe the sludgy water of stupidism through their previously pure gills.

The Donald and The Bern: both men are smart (despite the former insisting on saying it about himself, it happens to be true). Despite “The Apprentice” and the Ivana mess, Trump has to dumb himself down still further (i.e., the “Make America Great Again” baseball cap). So far, the socialist senator from Vermont has refrained from talking American. But for how long? So many pundits, so few who enjoy a Marx-inflected class analysis, I fear he’ll succumb.

Burying the lede as much as I possibly can — in a nation where the life of the mind is valued, this is not considered a vice — this brings us to: Why?

Why are we dumb and proud?

I blame our schools. We learn facts, but not how to think. Rhetoric, debate, logical reasoning are after-school activities. So we grow up believing that everyone is entitled to their opinion, each as valid as any other, even though this cannot possibly be true.

But I could be wrong.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the new book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2015 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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OVERVIEW: About my firing by the LA Times as a favor to the LAPD

Almost two weeks ago, the LA Times fired me as their editorial cartoonist, where I’d been since 2009.

Editor Nick Goldberg told me it was because I’d lied in a blog post for the LA Times about how an LAPD cop treated me during a 2001 arrest for jaywalking. They based this on an LAPD audiotape of the arrest. You can read my account of the arrest here.

But when I had the tape analyzed – after Goldberg hastily fired me – it showed that it was the LAPD that is lying, not me. (Goldberg didn’t bother to analyze the tape.) Moreover, the LAPD tape was probably tampered with to try to put the cop in a better light than he’d behaved.

The Times knows they were wrong, yet they’re refusing to reverse their decision, apologize, or retract ” A Note to Readers” that calls me a liar and a fabulist, from latimes.com. The LAPD police union posted a gloaty sinister blog post threatening other journalists to toe the line lest they be next but perhaps they’re feeling the heat, so it’s down now.

Here’s an overview of the sordid affair.

  • Start with this Timeline of Events by ANewDomain.net, where most of the breaking news has been and will continue to be released as it comes out. It contains links to most aND’s coverage. (Skip down to the boldface article below if you’re in a hurry and just want to listen to the audiotape.)
  • LISTEN to the full, professionally produced audio enhancement. Click here if you’re in a hurry and to read a detailed transcript that reveals an angry crowd and proof that my blog for the LA Times was accurate. If you’re still having trouble hearing it, and/or have time to wait for a large download, here is the higher-quality WAV file.

Here is my initial response to my firing, before I had the LAPD tape enhanced.

The LA Times told me the LAPD told me the arresting officer never used cuffs, ever. But he did – in the pages of the LA Times: “A Discrepancy In The Cop’s Story”  by Ted Rall (aNewDomain commentary)

Listen to the Tapes:

Listen to a rough version of the audio enhancement where you can hear an angry woman shouting “Take off his handcuffs!”

Media Coverage (in reverse chronological order):

(* = good places to start)

Cartoonist fired by LA Times after LAPD arrest says evidence ‘spliced and edited’ (by Steven W. Thrasher, The Guardian)

Project Censored: “A remarkable case of censorship” (Project Censored/Pacifica Radio – 1 hour radio interview)

Los Angeles Times Defends Firing Ted Rall, Editorial Cartoonist And Fierce LAPD Critic (by Brendan James, International Business Times)

* Rall’s Deal: Controversial cartoonist Ted Rall fights for his professional life after being fired by the LA Times (by Kevin Ulrich, Pasadena Weekly)

Was Ted Rall Wrongfully Fired From LA Times? (Video) (Huffington Post Live)

* Fired Los Angeles Times cartoonist hits back at newspaper for siding with LAPD (by Sam Thielman, The Guardian)

Ted Rall’s Fight With The LAPD Happens To You (by Ken Womble, Mimesis Law)

Ted Rall Matters (Rob Rogers blog)

US Cartoonist Ted Rall Versus the LA Times (Cartoon Movement, Netherlands)

* Cartoonists call for review of tape used as evidence to cut ties with Ted Rall (Poynter.org)

American Association of Editorial Cartoonists Calls for Independent Investigation into LAPD Tape Used to Fire Rall (Daily Cartoonist)

The Strange Case of the LA Times Cartoonist Fired for Being Too-Critical of LA Police (Orange Beach Rag)

Did The LAPD Have A Political Cartoonist Fired? by Ryan Steadman and Guelda Voien (The New York Observer)

‘Cleaned-Up’ Audiotape of Political Cartoonist’s Clash With LAPD Bolsters His Story by Hunter Harris (news story, New York Observer)

In Defense of Ted Rall, A Hard Guy To Defend by Ken Kurson (editorial, New York Observer)

The LA Times fired a journalist after cops told them he lied—but did they investigate? by Rob Beschizza (Boing Boing)

Cops Gun Down Unarmed Journalist’s Career  by investigative reporter Greg Palast (Reader Supported News)

Why Won’t The L.A. Times Admit They Were Wrong About Cartoonist Ted Rall? by Susie Madrak (Crooks and Liars)

LA Times Fires, Publicly Shames Editorial Cartoonist Ted Rall (Mike Lynch Cartoons blog)

Reporting by me and others at aNewDomain.net:

LA Times Responds to Charges That It Fired Me as A Favor to LAPD by Ted Rall

Why The Ted Rall LA Times Scandal Matters So Much (legal analysis by Tom Ewing, aNewDomain.net)

Rall Vindicated, LAPD And LA Times under Fire by Tom Ewing and Gina Smith, aNewDomain.net

The LAPPL applauds L.A. Times firing of cartoonist Ted Rall (LA Police Union Blog gloating, and threatening other journalists)

14 Years Ago, A Woman Vindicated Me Now by Ted Rall (Common Dreams)

Editor: LA Times “Cannot Comment” On Ted Rall. Why? By Gina Smith (aNewDomain)

 

Finally, here’s how you can help.

 

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How You Can Help

People are asking how they can support the fight against the LA Times/LAPD, and police corruption and censorship of the press.

Thank you for asking! I can’t win without you. Here are some ways you can help.

You can sign the petition demanding my reinstatement at the LA Times.

Write a letter to the editor of the LA Times. They haven’t been publishing them, but they do read them.

Keep spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Reddit and other social media. Silence and obscurity are the big enemies; powerful institutions like the LAPD and LA Times count on people’s attention spans being short.

Write to media outlets that ought to be covering this story, but haven’t been. Don’t be like the LAPD. Be polite! Prime suspects include:

Charles M. Blow, NY Times columnist
Democracy Now with Amy Goodman
Associated Press
LA Weekly
KFI Radio Los Angeles
NPR Morning Edition
NPR All Things Considered
PBS NewsHour
NPR – On the Media
Columbia Journalism Review

Don’t feel limited by this list. These are just outlets that seem like obvious candidates.

I’ve just lost my job, and legal battles are time-consuming and expensive. If you’d like to help financially, there are several things you can do:

You can buy my new book about Edward Snowden.
Or buy one of my older books.
Or make a tax-deductible donation via the Palast Fund. (Yes, I really do get the money.)

If you’re an editor or know one, you can commission me to draw something, or write something, or speak about something for money. I do all sorts of things! And I’ll travel anywhere. I’ve designed wedding invitations, tattoos, you name it. I need work.

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In Brief: Ted Rall vs. the LA Times/LAPD

I’ve been asked to lay out the chronological narrative of what happened between me and the LA Times/LAPD. Please excuse my use of the third person; I think it’s easier to follow.

Jaywalking Arrest
October 3, 2001, 8 pm

Cartoonist Ted Rall leaves CBS Television City in the West Hollywood section of L.A. after taping an appearance on “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher.” He plans to meet a group of friends and family on nearby Melrose Boulevard.

As he walks on the north side of Melrose, LAPD Motorcycle Officer Will(ie) Durr, an approximately 5-year veteran of the West Traffic Division, confronts him and accuses Rall of jaywalking across the intersection of N. Spaulding St. Rall had not jaywalked. Nevertheless, he is quiet, polite and compliant. He does not argue with Durr.

Rall volunteers his ID, a California driver’s license. Durr grabs Rall, roughly pushes him against a wall, and handcuffs him. He orders Rall not to move, then steps a short distance, perhaps 10 feet away close to his motorcycle on the curb, where he calls in Rall’s information and writes him a ticket.

A small crowd of bystanders, about two dozen people gather around Rall and Durr. Some just watch. Others discuss among themselves. Several confront the officer. A woman demands: “Take off his handcuffs!” Durr replies: “No no no no, I’m giving him a ticket first.” Several other people insult the officer, implying that he wants to sodomize Rall and offering to sate his sexual urges. Someone complains that there are bigger problems going on in L.A. As people talk to him, Durr whistles loudly.

Durr finishes writing the summons, which later turns out to be for misdemeanor jaywalking, a charge that would go on a permanent criminal record. He explains to Rall that he should call the number on the ticket. Rall asks Durr about the cost of the fine; Durr claims he doesn’t know (probably untrue; it’s currently a flat $197). Durr tells Rall he wants to remove Rall’s handcuffs so he can sign the ticket. Durr removes Rall’s cuffs.

Durr says that he’s returning Rall’s license, but instead tosses it in the gutter. (In one of a few recountings of the incident over the years, mistakenly remembers it as tossing his wallet, which contains his license. Rall correctly states it’s just the license in the relevant May 11th blog. Also, Rall sometimes calls it the “gutter,” at other times, the “sewer.” Though “gutter” is preferred, the two words are interchangeable.)

Rall, now late to find a restaurant to tell his friends and family about, asks Durr if he knows any place to eat. (Psychologists call Rall’s unusual question “normalizing” behavior — an attempt to de-escalate a high-tension confrontation.) At about this time, a white LAPD motorcycle policeman (Durr is black) pulls up. He urges Durr to stop what he’s doing. The two leave together.

Rall goes to dinner, where he describes what just happened to his friends and family, some of whom urge him to file a formal complaint. One, a local Angeleno, offers to contact City Hall to find out how to handle the ticket. She later tells Rall she managed to have the misdemeanor charge dropped but that he nevertheless has to pay the fine, which he does. (This is a standard disposition of jaywalking violations in L.A.)

October 13, 2001

Rall writes a letter to the LAPD to complain about Durr for false arrest and rude behavior. Acting on advice from the aforementioned friend not to mention the handcuffing (because it was legal, he wasn’t injured and might provoke retaliation from LAPD), Rall omits the handcuffs and rough treatment from his complaint.

May 11, 2015

The Los Angeles Times publishes Rall’s blog/column to accompany his weekly editorial cartoon. Since the cartoon is about an LAPD jaywalking crackdown, Rall opens his blog with a few paragraphs recounting his 2001 arrest.

Thursday, July 23, 2015
Afternoon

Rall receives a phone call from Paul Pringle, an LA Times investigative reporter. Rall replies quickly answers all of Pringle’s questions thoroughly.

In a recorded phone interview, Pringle tells him LAPD is disputing his May 11th blog on the basis of an audiotape secretly made by Durr of the 2001 stop. Rall has drawn at least 17 cartoons for The Los Angeles Times criticizing the police for being violent, unprofessional and inept.

Pringle says LAPD says Rall’s depiction of an unprofessional Durr “never happened”: no angry crowd, no handcuffs, no toss of the license. Pringle grills him about “discrepancies” between the apparently “polite encounter” on the tape and Rall’s description of an unprofessional policeman. (No mention is made of the false arrest.) He even asks why the sound of the license striking the ground cannot be heard.

Pringle tells Rall that Officer Durr has never handcuffed anyone throughout his long career with LAPD.

Rall is being treated as “guilty until proven innocent,” based upon the LAPD tape.

Asked what Pringle is working on — a story? — Pringle replies that he doesn’t know, that “they asked me to look into this.” This indicates that he probably was not the recipient of the tape.

Though tight-lipped about other matters, Pringle curiously volunteers that he knows the LAPD-supplied tape is legit and has not been tampered with, because the LAPD itself has assured the Times of this. The Times does not send the recording to an outside audio expert to have it analyzed for signs of manipulation such as splicing or editing. The Times also does not have the tape “enhanced” to see if more voices or sounds can be heard on it. (According to the paper in a statement issued August 19th, it still had not tried to have it enhanced, a common procedure.)

Rall then gets a call from Times editorial page editor Nick Goldberg. Goldberg, evidently not in the loop, asks: “What’s going on?” Rall fills him in, explaining his side of the story. Goldberg’s call implies that he did not order Pringle to investigate Rall.

Rall receives more calls from Pringle, who asks Rall to download a digitized version of the audio file via Dropbox. As Pringle listens on the phone, Rall listens to the tape, which contains 20 seconds of barely audible chatter by Durr followed by 6 minutes of inaudible noise. “This is a joke!” Rall tells Pringle it’s a “he said/he said” situation, arguing that it doesn’t prove or disprove anything in dispute: him being handcuffed, his driver’s license getting tossed, or the presence of the angry crowd. Without video, audio tells little, Rall says. Furthermore, the quality of the recording is atrocious.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Rall files his usual cartoon and blog for the Times because the Opinion Pages go to bed Friday afternoons. Goldberg emails Rall that the paper will make its decision after the weekend. However, Rall’s work does not appear Monday. This means the paper has decided to fire him less than 24 hours after talking to him, without having the tape analyzed or authenticated, without allowing him to tell his side of the story to members of the Editorial Board, the usual arbiter of decisions about an editorial cartoonist.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rall calls deputy editorial page editor Susan Brenneman, who fills in for his usual editor, deputy editorial page editor Cherry Gee when she is on away. (Gee is on vacation to Japan for three weeks.) Brenneman tells Rall she is out of the loop on this issue, and has not attended any meetings about it. This means the Editorial Board was probably not involved.

At 3 pm PDT, Goldberg calls to inform him that the paper will run an Editor’s Note the next morning telling Times readers that due to discrepancies between Rall’s blog and the LAPD-supplied audiotape, the paper will no longer use his work. In journalism, this is the “nuclear option” normally reserved for extreme cases of malfeasance, such as repeated plagiarism.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Goldberg’s Editorial Note is published.

Tom Ewing of ANewDomain.net publishes an article that points out numerous YouTube videos of Angelenos standing in handcuffs while receiving tickets for jaywalking. Rall sends this to Goldberg, who does not reply.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rall posts a short snippet of cleaned-up audiotape processed from the LAPD WAV file in which the woman shouting “Take off his handcuffs!” can be heard. Rall writes Goldberg and the Editorial Board to inform them that this shows that, in fact, he was handcuffed and that there was at least one angry passerby, as he’d originally claimed on May 11th. Rall receives no reply.

Rall also posts an article to ANewDomain.net pointing out that Durr has indeed cuffed at least one suspect — and made fun of him as he stood waiting, for a lesser offense than jaywalking. He’s quoted and photographed in, of all places, the LA Times. Rall sends this to Goldberg. There is no reply.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Rall posts a full-length “enhanced” audiotape cleaned up by a professional L.A. post-production company, Post Haste Digital. The 6:20 enhanced version reveals many new voices not audible on the original audiotape, including 3-4 people giving Officer Durr a hard time as described above. Comparing the two audiofiles, it becomes clear that Durr’s whistles were a deliberate attempt to drown out the mic so that the sounds of the angry members of the crowd are not audible. Rall emails Goldberg and the Editorial Board again, asking them to reconsider their decision in light of the new facts. The Times does not react.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nearly three weeks after Rall supplied the first enhanced audiotape, the Times posts a 2500-word screed reaffirming its belief that the May 11th blog shouldn’t have run (but, weirdly, not mentioning the paper’s decision to fire him in a humiliating and defamatory way). For the most part, the second statement repeats Goldberg’s July 28th Editor’s Note, adding in quotations that reflect Rall’s dislike of the police.

 

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I like what cartoonist Mack White wrote on Facebook

JE SUIS TED

I have not been surprised that the mainstream media has ignored the Ted Rall story. That was to be expected.

But I have been greatly surprised, and disappointed, by the tepid (at best) response from the so-called “Comics Community.”

No less than Greg Palast and other heavyweights in the Real Media (i.e. Alternative) have weighed in on this issue. But mostly the “Comics Community” has remained silent.

It also disappoints me that many liberals have left Ted (who is a liberal) hanging in the wind.

Yesterday, Ted posted on Facebook that most of his support over the past three weeks has come from Libertarians such as myself, not his fellow Liberals.

Some have attributed this silence from the Left to Ted’s irreverent attitude towards Obama. I don’t know if that is so, but I will let the idea hang there for you to consider …

There are those on the Right, of course, who also resent Ted’s evisceration of the Right. The fascist Breitbart article about the Rall/LAPD/LA Times affair was particularly stupid, I thought, and fascist. But I will let that hang there, too, for your consideration.

So … how do we account for the silence from the so-called “Comics Community”?

I get that a lot of people in the “Comics Community” don’t like Ted. I’m not sure why exactly, but I will speculate. Correct me if I’m wrong …

First let me say, I have never met Ted. We exchanged a few emails ten years ago when he contributed a piece to “The Bush Junta” (a book I co-edited with Gary Groth), and that is the extent of my communication with him.

Later, Ted wrote an article in a New York magazine that was critical of cartoonist Art Spiegelman. This angered a lot of comics people and led to Ted filing a lawsuit against another cartoonist (one Danny Hellman, whom I have not met) who responded to Ted’s article by impersonating him in a mass email sent out to persons in the comics industry.

Now, I didn’t have a dog in that fight and don’t now. And I don’t give a God Damn what happens in the New York City Art Scene or anywhere else. I live in Texas where New York don’t count for shit, and I am an unrepentant Libertarian. Therefore, I can say this, without fear of retribution from either side of either fucking controversy …

I can say this: If you, my fellow artists, are ignoring this matter that has come up between Ted Rall and the LAPD & LA Times, then you need to do some serious fucking soul searching right now. You need to lay aside your idiot cowardly partisanship and gossipy Cartoonist Catfight shit, and stop being part of the fucking problem.

And as for this fucking Left vs Right Bullshit, man, let it go …

In the following piece, published today, the editor of “Pasadena Weekly” describes how he was pressured by the Los Angeles Police Department to drop Ted’s comic strip.

Read this.

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Three Weeks Later (!), the LA Times Responds to Charges They Fired Me as a Favor to the LAPD

It only took a couple zillion tweets, emails, demand letters and calls from investigative reporters to get someone from The Los Angeles “No One at the Times Will Talk About This” Times to answer the many questions raised by the paper’s firing me as its political cartoonist on July 28th.

In a “Readers’ Representative Journal” post, “readers representative” Deirdre Edgar throws down a blizzard of misdirection, trivialities and distractions meant to convince us, somehow, that (a) there’s nothing weird about the police still having a secret audiotape of a jaywalking arrest from 14 years ago, (b) it’s totally normal for the police to walk said tape over to a newspaper in an attempt to get a cartoonist known for not liking cops fired, (c) said newspaper has no reason to question the veracity or motivation of the cops against said cop-disliking cartoonist, and (d) said newspaper shouldn’t get said tape checked out by audio experts.

Fortunately, readers are smarter than the people who came up with the Times’ statement.

Actual slogan! “A conversation on newsroom ethics and standards.” At the LA Times, evidently, a “conversation” is where they talk and you listen. Or when they turn off the comments. Or delete them.

Seriously, Ms. Edgar? How the heck did you graduate from ombudsman school? You didn’t even call me for comment. I know that’s the Times’ way, but as an ombudsman, you’re supposed to sort of pretend to be kind of independent.

I’ll spare you the line-by-line dissection of this ridiculous exercise in corporate media bluster. But it would be a shame, after waiting three weeks (!) for the newspaper to finally explain themselves, not to respond to a few — well, 15 — things:

I’d like to thank the Times for finally hiring a pair of “forensic audio experts” to analyze the recording. Better late — after firing someone — than never, I always say.

  1. Unfortunately, the Times still hasn’t offered the independent investigation demanded by journalistic ethics and by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. This? Just more spin.
  2. Sadly, Ms. Edgar writes: “The experts engaged by The Times, in separate assessments, said they could not hear any mention of handcuffs.” Why couldn’t Ed Primeau, a media guy who does audio forensics on the side, hear the woman demanding that Officer Will Durr “Take off his handcuffs!”? Catalin Grigoras has some impressive credentials, but having a PhD doesn’t make you correct. The Times is asking everyone who heard that woman on the enhanced tape to believe them — not your lying ears.
  3. Notice something? Neither of the Times’ experts disputes the presence of other people at the scene — only that they can’t hear the word “handcuffs.”
  4. The burden of proof in this he said/he said story ought to be on the LA Times/LAPD (gotta love that they’re on the same team!) to prove that my account was a lie. After all, they accused me, and they provided a tape, and that tape is garbage. But this is the LA Times/LAPD, where you’re guilty until proven innocent. Whatever, I’m having my own audio forensics expert analyze it…not someone who does this work on the side, either.
  5. Edgar writes: “Rall has written repeatedly that the LAPD ignored his original complaint. Department records show that investigators looked into his allegations, questioned the officer who ticketed Rall, listened to the recording and tried repeatedly to reach Rall. Then-Police Chief Bernard C. Parks sent Rall a letter informing him that an investigation had determined his allegations were unfounded.” How could they “look into the allegations” without talking to me? I never got a message from them. When I called, they told me nothing. No communications, followed by a rejection letter? That’s called ignoring your complaint. Which, as most Angelenos who complain to the cops know, is almost always what they do.
  6. Edgar cites numerous examples of me talking about my bad experiences with police, with the unsurprising result that I don’t much care for them. So? As I wrote, I have my reasons.
  7. Edgar: “A conversation between Durr and Rall is audible, and it is civil. Durr is not heard being rude, ‘belligerent,’ ‘hostile’ or ‘ill-tempered,’ as Rall has asserted. The officer is heard calmly answering Rall’s questions.” True…sort of. You do hear him whistling into the mic when the angry crowd appeared, in what is apparently his attempt to drown out their complaints and taunts. (Compare the LAPD-provided WAV file to the one I had professionally enhanced here, which reveals the angry shouts and the “take off his handcuffs” line, and others.) But as you know if you’ve watched Alex singing “Singing in the Rain” in “A Clockwork Orange,” audio doesn’t even tell half the story…especially not audio that’s 95% static.
  8. The cop knew he was being taped. He acted accordingly. Sarcastically polite on audio, pushing me around and handcuffing me in the nonexistent video we’ll never see. How can you work at a newspaper and not understand this simple playing-to-the-tape idea?
  9. The Times still hasn’t tried to have the tape enhanced. Or they did, and they’re not sharing the results. How come? Because all that stuff — the angry crowd, the handcuffs, etc. ­— is on that tape. All you have to do is clean up the static.
  10. Nor does Rall express any complaints about how is he being treated.” I just love this part. I wrote that I was compliant and polite. If I had been heard complaining about my treatment on tape, then I would have been lying. Pretzel logic!
  11. In a 2009 essay for another publication, I misremembered the cop as chucking my wallet (in which I carry my license), not just the license. Got me! I suppose I’m lucky Nick Goldberg didn’t have me executed…even though I got this very important right in the piece I wrote for, you know, him.
  12. Officer Will Durr “in his entire career, he said, he had never handcuffed anyone for jaywalking.” But he has handcuffed someone for a less serious offense than jaywalking, in an article in the Times!
  13. “Durr’s then-supervisor, Sgt. Russell Kilby, who investigated the allegations” — does the Times even know how that sounds? — “described Durr as ‘a non-problem officer,’ ‘a nice guy’ and ‘a hard worker.’” Well, he would say that. Nice, except for snottily making fun of the suspect in that Times piece about “aggressive driving.”
  14. The LAPD, Edgar says, “analyzed the tape.” Their own tape. Shockingly, it checked out!

As before, this latest communiqué raises more questions.

Who gave my file and audiotape to the Times: the LAPD, or the LAPPL police union?

Who received it at the Times?

Is the version Dropboxed to me a dub of something the LAPD gave the Times, or the same?

We know that the editorial board, typically the decision-makers in the firing of a cartoonist, was left out of the loop. So who decided to fire me in such a public, humiliating way?

What did the LAPD or LAPPL tell their contact at The Times that they wanted — what was their purpose in providing this information?

What will a highly-qualified independent audio forensics expert say about those suspicious clicks?

Why is the required ID information missing from the recording (location, ID of suspect, time, day)? Why is the tape so short?

What does the Times have to say about the angry people on the enhanced version?

Why didn’t the Times investigate the provenance of the tape before it fired me?

Why do they still refuse to let me tell my side of the story to the editorial board — and to allow an independent investigation?

Cut the crap, Timesmen. Do the right thing.

Retract your defamatory “A Note to Readers” from July 28, 2015.

Issue an apology.

Be transparent. Tell your readers exactly how this tape made its way to you, from whom and to whom, and why.

And put my drawings back in the paper. Especially the ones that give the cops a hard time for beating and killing people.

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Why the Ted Rall LA Times Scandal Matters So Much

Over at ANewDomain.net, which you should support because I would never have had a forum with which to try to clear my name post-LA Times smear without them, and also because they post interesting stuff, and because they pay me, and support SkewedNews.net, Tom Ewing has published legal analysis on my case.

It’s titled “Why the Ted Rall LA Times Scandal Matters So Much.” Some outtakes:

But the bottom line is this: If any of this could happen to Rall — and it did — it could happen to you.

Whether you’re a fan of Rall’s controversial political cartoons and essays is irrelevant.

Even if you believe, as many of his detractors do, that Rall is little more than a caustic, leftist/libertarian asshole, what happened to him at the hands of the Times is still alarming. And wrong.

So, the Times decided to trash this journalist’s reputation on the basis on a nearly inaudible tape — rather than opt for a quieter response.

We now know that an enhanced version of the audio recording fully supports Ted’s version of events. Listen to it here.

Now, what message does this episode send other journalists?

The message: If you write critical articles about the police and the police don’t care for the criticism, you will lose your job.

Do we really not want the media to ask no questions about the deaths of Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Samuel DuBose and Sandra Bland?

You see, in the absence of any real evidence whatsoever and by the Times own description of what happened, here’s the only possible conclusion: The LAPD simply asked the Times to fire Ted.

If Rall and aNewDomain had not enhanced the faulty LAPD evidence theTimes said it relied on to (so publicly) fire him, Rall’s future as a journalist, commentator or political cartoonist would’ve been destroyed. It actually still looks pretty much destroyed.

This is because neither the Times nor the LAPD have acknowledged the new evidence in their public denouncements of Rall, nor have they moved to independently investigate or authenticate the new evidence.

 

No one but the police or the involved officers could have known the police tape that recorded Rall’s 2001 jaywalking stop even existed. What other tapes does it or other police agencies have that Americans don’t know about and could use to defend themselves?

How many other recordings does the LAPD have in its files who revelation might cause a revision of long-settled court cases?

This sounds like the makings for an interesting class action lawsuit, does it not?

 

 

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PC Magazine Book Review: “Snowden”

Just received my first copies of my graphic novel-format biography of Edward Snowden. Full color!

SnowdenCoverBookSnowdenBookInside

AND I just saw the first book review. It’s in PC Magazine:

…darkly funny look at our ongoing surveillance nightmare.

…for every sobering, dystopic example of privacy invasion, there’s an absurd comic punchline like NSA workers gawking at naked couples through hacked web cameras. It’s in moments like that where Rall’s unflattering, political cartoon art style shines.

With its succinct prose and pictures on every page, Rall’s Snowden reads like a children’s book for adults. But it’s also an entertaining, exhaustive, and approachable look at an incredibly important and relevant topic, because information security affects everyone whether you like it or not. Snowden by Ted Rall hits bookshelves on August 25.

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