Feeds:
Posts
Comments

After the Revolutionary War, our founding fathers were determined to never allow any form of government to oppress them as a people. With the turmoil of the war, and the shadow of the British’s rule still lingering in the back of their mind’s, they set forth to give themselves and the other people of their new nation, rights that would protect their ideas and their newfound democracy. The 1st amendment on their list was the freedom of speech which stated that:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I wonder though, if our founding fathers understood how weighted those word were. I wonder if they understood that this amendment not only protected their own ideas, but also the ideas of those who were against them. Judging from the numerous supreme court cases involving the freedom of speech that have proceeded over the passed centuries, I strongly doubt it.

Advocates of the 1st amendment often use the argument that democracy cannot exist if the government cannot be challenged. In order for the government to be challenged, however, the people need freedom of speech. The people need the right to protest and disagree with the powers that be.

Most will assume that everyone shares the same ideals as Dr. King because his thoughts seem the most logical to them. This assumption is naive. Many people did not, and still do not agree with King, i.e the KKK. Do they also have a right to speak their minds?

It’s a swell idea, but what many advocates fail to realize, is that the freedom of speech also protects the ideas of everyone, including the racists, bigots, and all other forms of intolerant radical thinkers. The freedom protects the Martin Luthor King’s as well as the William Simmons (2nd founder of the KKK). We would like to believe that most people are good hearted, and know that ideas such as those shared by the KKK and other hate-groups are ridiculous and obscene, but to assume that everyone “knows” this is foolish and naive. It completely disregards the fact that people are subject to have different views on various issues.

If one truly believes in the 1st amendment, they have to accept this fact and allow it to take it’s course. One who is an advocate of free speech, cannot condemn or try to stifle another person’s speech no matter how obscene or indecent their protest may seem to them.

Martin Garbus proves he truly believes in the 1st amendment

Martin Garbus is a true believer in the 1st amendment. The fact that he chose to defend a neo-nazi’s freedom of speech, even though he is a Jewish man, proves this. I strongly doubt that Mr. Garbus agreed with the views of the neo-nazis, but rather that he took the case to prove a point. It is for this point that the nazis must be allowed to march. The freedom of speech cannot be restricted from anyone who wants to express their opinion no matter how indecent the opinion may look to us.

Indecency cannot fully be defined and what is considered indecent is different for everyone, therefor it we cannot put restrictions on things we think are “indecent”, because that will only allow for other opinions that are deemed “indecent” to be censored. The neo-nazi must be allowed to march, because these terms cannot be defined.  Any form of restriction allows for any and everything to be restricted also.

As for taking the case, I doubt I would have done the same. Although I am logical thinker, I am also human, and I don’t think I could get passed my emotional attachment to the subject to defend a neo-nazi. That is why I commend Mr. Garbus for his professionalism, and dedication to his ideals.

What can I say about The Shield that I have not said already? I suppose this question has been the reason why I have waited until today, one day before the final due date of this posting, to complete my season wrap-up. Over the past 13 or so postings, I have given my opinion on everything about this show, leaving me at times to be drained of anything to say. It didn’t help either, that many of the episodes had repeated themes from previous episodes. My relationship with The Shield was something like a very good but predictable relationship with a close friend. Sure we had fun, but if anyone were to ask me what I did with this friend I would probably answer “stuff”. The mere thought of repeating the same activities over and over would be too boring for me to participate in. So, rather than speak on the show itself, I would rather discuss it’s impact. An impact which I feel is still very prominent.

Anyone who has read my previous blog posts will find that I enjoyed the season. The characters were well-developed, and for the most part three dimensional. The series also brought a pride to basic cable television that was lacking in 2002. I don’t think anyone took basic cable originals very seriously before The Shield came in to play. I found it to be challenging, and one of the more edgier shows I’ve seen on television.

The Shield is a different kind of beast, and for 2002 it was groundbreaking. Today, there are many copies, but it was the originator. The series aimed to bring to living rooms a truth that many cop dramas tried to deny. The truth of course, was corruption in the police force. The series aimed to show us that do-gooder cops like the ones in Law & Order seldom do exist. According to show creator Shawn Ryan, these cops are a fantasy, and most police officers, if given the opportunity are like Vic Mackey. The series also brought up controversial issues such as the tight lipped nature of police officers, whom, even when they are aware of corruption, rarely blow the whistle on their fellow officers in fear of being blacklisted by the rest of the bunch. In this day and age, viewers are constantly confronted with unorthodox and less morally appealing protagonists, but 8 years ago Vic Mackey was one of a kind.

This was FX's logo in 1994. Like most people, I had no idea what the FX channel was before 2002. The Shield, however, made FX a household name.

It was a bold move by FX to air such a show, and in the end it was a wise decision. The series helped to established the FX series, which at the time, was still trying to find it’s niche.

The Shield served as the springboard for later FX shows such as Nip/Tuck, Damages, and Rescue Me. The Shield’s legacy has become somewhat like the Mankind Vs. Undertaker hell in a cell.

For those who aren’t familiar with wrestling, the Mankind/Undertaker match is usually criticized as setting the bar too high for other matches to compete with. To this day, over a decade later, fans often compare the match to current main event matches.

The success of The Shield, allowed for other gritty series with unorthodox protagonists, such as Son's of Anarchy, to be made.

Given the gritty and edgy nature of The Shield, FX felt forced to find shows that upped the ante of violence and edge with their lineup, none of which (that is until the carnation of Justified) were able to duplicate or surpass the ratings of the series premiere of The Shield. You can thank the overwhelming success of The Shield, for allowing shows like Sons Of Anarchy to even get green-lit on a basic cable station. Kudos to The Shield for paving the way, but like most things worth fighting for, it didn’t come easy.

Ever since it’s first season, The Shield has been a target of much controversy. The series has been targeted by PTC ( The Parent Television Council) and http://www.onemillionmoms.com. The PTC argued that The Shield was “arguably the most violent, foul-mouthed and sexually graphic on basic cable”. Taking a look back at the other shows that premiered in 2002, I’d have to agree somewhat. The only other show worthy of that title at that time was on a premium cable channel:  The Wire. I have commented in many previous blogs how shocked I was that a basic cable television show was able to get away with such things (violence, vulgar language, and partial female nudity). Still the graphic nature of the show cannot be taken out of context. Given the subject matter, I would argue that the graphic nature of The Shield is justified. FX took a chance with this show, and after watching the first season, I will have to agree with the acclaim The Shield got while it was on television. Two thumbs up.

The Shield has been good to me. But it is now time to say goodbye

Dear The Shield I apologize for not watching you religiously when you were on television. I guess it’s true what they say, you don’t know what you’ve till it’s on DVD. I am grateful that this assignment has given me an excuse to watch an entire season of you without looking like a couch potato.

The Shield and I have had some good times together, but it’s time to say goodbye. There are only two episodes left in the season, but they are so explosive that I couldn’t help but watch them back-to-back. The episodes Two Days of Blood and Circles play like a two part episode, and I felt that it only be right to post them in one blog. I have decided to break this blog up in to key elements in these episodes that link the two together.

AN UNLIKELY VILLIAN:

Two Days of Blood throws a curve ball that seems to be out of place. For most of the season the show has been foreshadowing a riff between Aceveda and Mackie, and a possible scandal, involving Mackie’s murder of a fellow cop, being uncovered. These two episodes ignore these plot points and completely change gears for the show. Did I enjoy the episodes? Yes. But did the writers of the show somewhat cheat the laws of storytelling? Yes.

GILROY BECOMES THE FINAL VILLAIN OF THE SHOW

These two episodes brings back Assistant Chief Gilroy, as the villain. I was kind of upset with this, not because of The Shield but because I felt like this plot line was copied by Dexter season three. Chief Gilroy and Dexter season 3 villain Miguel Prado are all too alike. They both are men of power n the justice system that manipulate those that are crooked for their own gain. In The Shield Gilroy comes to Mackie for help with a hit and run case. Gilroy comes to him as a humbled man, begging Mackie to help him cover up the crime he has committed. Feeling some attachment to Gilroy, Mackie agrees to help him. As the show progresses, Mackie uncovers the real truth. Gilroy is using Mackie to frame him so that Mackie will feel more obligated to cover up his crime. The whole plot seems strange, because we haven’t seen Gilroy for quite some time, and when we do it is brief moments in the office. To have him as the final villain of the show seems quite strange. Though having him in the show forces Aceveda and Mackie to work together to bring him down. Together they uncover that Gilroy has cut police in a poor town in order to make the property price go down so that he can buy the land up cheap. The plan works for television, because a plot so intricate takes time to uncover, which allows for the characters to uncover clues as the show progresses. Still, it is quite convoluted.

THE RIOTS:

George Bush doesn’t care about black people, and neither does the police. But more specifically the police don’t care about poor people. Poor people are often disenfranchised and unfortunately we cannot count on television to show this truth. Television often just makes it a black and white problem, when it’s much bigger than that. The Shield’s final two episodes deal with a murder of a black family, which could have been prevented if the 911 call was responded to promptly. Instead the 911 call was not responded to for an hour, which allowed the murderer to kill two women and partially dispose of their bodies in the trash compactor. The reason for the late response has to do with Gilroy’s plot to make the property price go down by making the crime increase with less cops. The show is trying to convince us that more police equals less crime, but in reality more cops, especially in towns like this one, only equals more arrest not less crime. Statistic will take these arrest, which hardly turn to convictions, and use them in their statistics polls to say that crime has decreased. Still, this is just a television show, and we cannot expect it to show the complexities of reality.

When word gets out about the 911 call, the blacks are infuriated and start a riot. Kudos to The Shield for paying homage to Los Angeles police’s shady past with the black community. The riot scene, which begins at the end of Two Days of Blood, is eerily similar to the LA Riots, which begun after the Rodney King beating. The end of Two Days of Blood also plants the seeds for the next episodes villain, which involves a fake 911 caller killing officers when they reach the scene of the crime. The quest for the shooters is more exciting than the pay off in Circles. The killers, three teenagers, don’t seem like the type to do such a crime, and I didn’t feel the show did a good job of explaining why they did it. The only explanation given is that the kids are fed up with the lack of police support in their community. I’m sorry, but this kind of reasoning would only make sense in a comic book.

OFFICER LOWE

Officer Lowe’s struggle with his homosexuality comes to a very bitter end, when he is convinced by his reverend to seek sexual re-orientation. Officer Sopher, his partner, shows in her body language that she does not approve of the treatment, but decides to stand by her fellow officer. In Circles Lowe looks excited about his treatment, but in his voice you can still hear the pain. I look forward to seeing his progression in season 2.

Mackie’s Family

Mackie’s family has been a problem for the entire season. He is detached from his family, we hardly see them, and he cheats on his wife on occasion. He definitely does love them though, and will do anything to protect them, as he proves in these episodes when he puts them in hiding away from Gilroy’s reach. Still, protection is not enough for his wife. She wants in on his life, and more than just being protected, she wants to know why she needs to be protected. Mackie wont let her in, and it costs him in the end. She leaves him and take the kids with her. Mackie is clearly upset by this, but I think Michael Chiklis could use a crying coach for the next season. His crying looked more like a heat attack than actual tears.

COLDPLAY

I’m seriously tired of Coldplays Trouble. It’s like this is the only song every show wants to use to end a season. Granted the piano is heartwrenching, but come one people. Are there no other songs out there? I recommend Radiohead’s Videotape for the new song to be run in to the ground by television shows. Coldplay’s Trouble seems out of place in Mackie’s awkward  crying scene at the end of Circles.

Overall I enjoyed this episode. It was exciting, gutwrenching, and had my girlfriend and I at the edge of our seats. It was actually her idea to watch them back to back, as she just couldn’t wait to find out what happened in the next episode.

EPISODE RATING: 4

VIEWING: 1:00 AM. LAPTOP. W/  GRLFRIEND.

In any episode of any show, the “previously” clip is a hint at to what the episode your viewing is about. I cant say I was very thrilled with this episode as the clip showed a scene with rapper Sticky Fingaz. As I’ve said before in a previous post, television never gets hip-hop right. It’s always extremely overblown as a murder infested business. Within 4 minutes of this episode, Rondell and Kern’s (played by Sticky Fingaz) vehicle is shot up by a rival drug dealer. Let me also mention that the drive by shooting (do people still do those?) was committed in broad daylight. As I watch this, I’m shaking my head, but The Shield has been good to me, so I will let it slide. As the episode progresses it is revealed that Rondell and his overzealous ways has caused a riff between the dealers and The Nation of Islam. The Nation of Islam want the dealers off the street, and they don’t care if they have to stake out in the precinct to get them off the streets. The whole scene between the Nation and the police is all too reminiscent of a very famous scene in Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X. I have to bring up the fact that I watched this episode with my girlfriend, and without me even mentioning the movie Malcom X she said “Who are theses guys trying to be, Malcom X?” I rest my case.

In other news, Dutch and Wyms are on a race against time to find a group of family thieves that have been hitting Korean families for their fortune. This was the main plot of the episode, and is the only plot point we are given on the back of the cd case from the DVD collection. The real drama, however, involves Officer Lowe and his inner-struggle.

OFFICER LOWE’S STRUGGLE:

Lowe has went from just another supporting character to the heart and soul of the show

Lowe is beginning to reach his breaking point. Apparently the blanket party from the episode prior to this one only provided temporary relief. He cannot live with himself and has become somewhat suicidal. While trying to track down a potential shooter, Lowe dares the shooter to kill him. He repeatedly tells the man to shoot him. In this powerful scene his eyes are teary, and his voice is cracking, and if you’ve got a heart you cant help but feel for this guy.  He cannot live with himself, and as a man of God, he believes that the man upstairs is disgusted with him. I am not as religious a Lowe, but I can understand and sympathize with his plight. I could not imagine going through life thinking that God hated me, though watching Lowe in recent episodes gives me an idea of how that guilt would look on a man. I am very impressed with the progression of this character, and I am surprised that one of the iffiest characters in the show has now become the most sympathetic. Given that Mackie is such a hard boiled character, having Lowe in the show gives The Shield a much-needed dose of heart and soul.

ACEVEDA’S POLITICAL RUN:

The spotlight: No one loves it more than Aceveda

Aceveda’s political campaign looks to still be in good standing by the end of this episode. When he visits his so-called rape victim, he gets her to admit that he did not rape her, however she was raped by two of Aceveda’s college acquaintances after they got the idea that she liked being tied up and gagged. Where did they get the idea? From Aceveda himself, proving that even at 21 years old Aceveda loved the spotlight and couldn’t keep his mouth shut, even if it meant hurting others.

EPISODE RATING: 4

VIEWING: W/ GIRLFRIEND. 10 PM. LAPTOP

So I’m currently on disc 3 of The Shield season one package, and I’m starting to notice a trend with the episodes on this disc. They seem to focus more on the supporting characters than Vic Mackie. I suppose this is a wise decision because Vic’s psyche and complex character isn’t such a hot topic now in episode 10. We get it, and if the show chosed to beat it in to our heads anymore we’d be over it. This episode was quite noticeable for its detachment to Mackie and focus on its supporting characters. For this, I have decided to break up this post in to separate section all with an analysis on the characters that were put under the spotlight with in the episode.

COUNCILMAN ACEVEDA

We get a look in to Aceveda’s shady past in this episode, when a reporter comes to “the barn” and asks him a few questions about the unorthodox tactics of his police force.  The reporter reveals that Aceveda was once accused of rape from an ex-girlfriend. From the look on his face when the reporter reveals this, we think it could very well be true. On the contrary of what we may believe, Aceveda tells his wife that he did not rape the woman. I don’t see this escalating passed two episodes, and the way he explains this to his wife I believe him. What I am less sure about is the relationship between Aceveda and his wife. I cant help thinking it is all an act and that they are using each other for social and political gain. In the end, nothing Aceveda does seems to be for the right reason or for a genuine reason at that. If he shows any emotion it is most likely from a false place. I wonder how much of this rings true to a real person though. I have yet to see Aceveda show a true emotion, other than those that are politically fueled.

SHANE “THE JERK”

I have a lot of love for Shane. He always comes through for me and makes a boneheaded move that makes me laugh. In this episode, Shane allows himself to be manipulated by a stripper, which jeopardizes an entire strip club robbery case. He ends up sleeping with a stripper in, now try to wrap your head around this, an interrogation room. Because of his poor decision-making, the strike team is unable to make an arrest on the girl without jeopardizing Shane’s career. In all honesty though, what else is new? Shane always finds a way to screw something up, and though it is entertaining to see this happen, I wonder how much this is bending reality. Could an officer this idiotic even make it to a team as prestigious as this one? Mackie seems to be a very street smart and tactical officer; able to outsmart any criminal he comes in contact with, so why would he pick such an idiot to be on his squad? At this point, I don’t buy Shane as a Strike Team officer. He doesn’t seem to have one redeeming quality about him.

OFFICER LOWE:

In the beginning I was skeptical about Lowe’s character. My suspicions about him though turned out to be true. His homosexuality issues ended up taking up more time than his issues as a black officer. Just as I suspected, the show just isn’t long enough to develop both of these issues, so one of them had to take a back seat. In all honesty the black cop issue has been brought up in many shows and movies, and at this point is a dead horse. The homosexual cop issue, however, is something I have never seen before. Lowe’s struggle as a homosexual god-fearing officer is beginning to become heartbreaking. He hates himself and we need not look further than this episode to confirm that hatred. In this episode, Lowe agrees to have a blanket party (an act in which officers tie an arrested person in a blanket and beat them senseless) for an HIV positive man after he bites Sopher on the arm in an attempt to give her AIDs. Lowe looks at the gay man and is disgusted with him, possibly because he sees himself in him. I have to give credit to writer Scot Rosenbaum for really fleshing out this character in this episode. The way in which Lowe looks and beats the gay man shows us how Lowe beats and looks at himself in the mirror.

DUTCH

Dutch is a super cop, and one of the most entertaining characters to watch in the show. He can crack any case breakdown any suspect, and he knows it, which is why he wears such a smug look on his face. In this episode Dutch finally finds his serial killer suspect, and after hours of letting the killer verbally abuse and psychoanalyze him, he finally reveals to the killer that he has him right where he wants him. In one of the rooms in “the barn” the officers watch Dutch crack the case in the interrogation room, which prompts them to call him a hero. Mackie even gives him credit. Though Dutch is a hero, the case obviously takes a toll on him as he breaks down in to tears while alone in his vehicle. I don’t know if I buy the tears so much, but I do like that the show is slowly revealing the story of Dutch. He is a troubled character, dealing with many insecurities and uncertainties about himself. It has been hinted that Dutch hides behind his badge in order to not show his true self of being weak and vulnerable in earlier episodes, but this one really brings it to a head.

Episode Rating: 4.5

Viewing Time: 4pm. Laptop. Alone

In 1991 it was Rodney King. In ’99 it was Diallo, and most recently is was Sean Bell. These were the stories that

The media often fuels our hatred and distrust of police officers, without trying to give a valid reason for why these crimes really happen. It isn't just about race.

made the headlines, but in reality police brutality has been going on for much longer, but most stories are swept under the rug before the media can get a hold of them. When they do see the light of day, the papers tend to push towards the angle of police being monsters, racist, and having too much power. The papers often reinforce and encourage the outrage and or potential outrage of the black community for such crimes. What most papers don’t touch on, is the fact that these crimes happen because officers are often paranoid and afraid of the environments they are placed in while on duty. I found this episode of The Shield interesting because it touches on this fear.

The Shield will never come out and tell you what it is right or wrong. It would rather show you. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just your hard-headed friend that doesn’t listen to your lectures and only learns when they see an example. In reality we are all like this. We need to see it to believe it. With that said, The Shield’s method is the most effective to make a point.

In this episode Throwaway, one of Mackie’s good ol’ boys  Det. Curtis Lemansky accidentally shoots a Mexican when he thinks he’s a gang member. In all the confusion, you understand why Lemansky shot the guy, and you even think to yourself that you might of shot him too. Given the circumstances, the guy was running, and reached for his belt, one could argue that Lemansky had every reason to shoot. It was a mistake yes, but it is also an understandable mistake. In 1999 when word got out about Diallo’s shooting, we rolled our eyes when the officers gave the excuse that they thought Diallo’s wallet was a gun, but after watching this episode of The Shield perhaps one could understand where the officers were coming from. Granted, officers ought to be less paranoid and afraid of their environments in order to make rational decisions, but at least we as Americans can understand that the fear is real and it isn’t just blind racism that is fueling these shootings.

Det. Lemansky proves he's got a heart.

For the rest of the episode Lemansky tries to make things right with the mistake he’s made (Mackie, in a panic, decides to plant a gun on the wrongfully shot man in order to get Lemansky off the hook, a move that Lemansky doesn’t approve of), proving that he has a heart and is nothing like Shane the Jerk.

By the end of the episode, Mackie shows us why everyone gives him a call when they’re in a pickle. He is by far the best problem solver in the state of Los Angeles—hell maybe even the whole west coast. Mackie and his boys concoct a plan to get the wrongfully planted gun out of evidence by dressing up like Mexican gang members and robbing the evidence van. The act not only gets the wrongfully shot man off the hook, but also frames the real bad guys and gives Mackie and his boys enough reason to arrest them.

I enjoyed this episode because it allowed Mackie to take a back seat and shed some light on one of the more quiet supporting characters. I was impressed with actor Kenny Johnson’s ability to carry the episode. Many shows cannot afford to take their attention off their main character for more than 30 seconds, while The Shield feels comfortable with taking the camera off Mackie for an entire episode. Kudos to this show for continuing to take risk in every way possible.

Episode Rating: 4

Viewing Time: 2:00 pm. Alone. Laptop. School Library

Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. It allows for opposing views to come face to face with each other, and the challenges it creates is what allows for the passing of new laws and policies that better our society. The freedom of speech has also been abused

Neo nazis often abuse the freedom of speech by spreading hatred and bigotry.

over the course of history. Whether it be the protest of right winged fanatics or neo-nazi’s with their picket signs, there always seems to be someone using their freedom of speech to hurt others. Granted we cannot limit the freedom of speech because this will only allow for other laws to be passed that can limit the speech that is needed in our society. In a nutshell, the bad cannot be banned without sacrificing a bit of the good.

Those who abuse the freedom of speech, however, need to understand the limits of the right. It does not mean that you can go anywhere and say whatever you want. The freedom of speech will never overpower the rights of private property. In other words, what you say can be held against you if you’re saying it on someone elses property. A diner has the right to not serve you food or ask you to leave if they do not care for the language you are spewing in their establishment. Whatever freedom of speech you think you have pretty much goes out the window when your on someone else’s property. With that said, the story of Chase Harper and his extremely inappropriate and hateful t shirt is pretty cut and dry.

Chase Harper was in public school, which is owned by the state, and in that arena Chase Harper has no freedom of speech. In some cases the high school scenario may be a market place for ideas, but for the most part the school setting is a preparation for the job world. In school, like a job, we must follow rules and regulations in order to stay within in good standing.

More than it is a market place for ideas, the school setting is a place to condition children to respect and obey and authoritative force

The teacher is the first form of authority most of us face outside of our parents. It is the first foreign person we meet out in the world that we are subject to obey. Having this teacher/student relationship prepares us for the employer/employee relationship we will have in our adulthood. Allowing students to say anything they want gives them a false idea about how the world works. In the world you will most likely be fired for defying your employer.

Keeping all this mind, we can understand that in a school a student cannot be allowed to wear what they want, say what they want, or do whatever they want. I am not saying that a school should be militant in it’s approach, but it needs to teach the student the importance of authority in our society and how that authority will play a major role in their lives.

Although Chase’s shirt was tasteless and offensive, he could have easily been dealt with a warning and perhaps even one afternoon of detention if he refused to remove his shirt. After that, the situation should have been left alone. Chase is, and lets not forget, a teenager and teenagers are allowed to make mistakes. Often teenagers will become engulfed in their own beliefs and not see how the things they put out in the universe effects others around them. Teenagers are often selfish in this regard, and Chase definitely showed his age when he wore his shirt to school, thinking that he was somehow telling the world a truth that needed to be said. In my opinion he only made him self look like a fool, and potentially hurt many of his closeted homosexual classmates.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.