Weekend Open Thread: Flying Shoes and Jailed Marijuana Activists

Here’s a “cute story” that isn’t cute at all:

Hillary Clinton and Flying Shoe

“Hillary Ducks Flying Shoe”? That’s not what you see when you watch the video!

Slate as an article up right now entitled “Hillary Clinton Ducks Flying Shoe Thrown During Las Vegas Speech” that shows the former Senator and Secretary of State hunched over with her hand clenched spasticly — the sort of shot that will inevitably show up with “cute” captions from now until she leaves the office of the Presidency in January 2025.  Click the link if you want to see it; I’m not going to reproduce it here.

Instead, I’m showing you a still from the accompanying video.  That blur you see behind her head is one frame — I think that it’s probably 1/24 of a second, but someone here can correct me — showing the path of the shoe behind her head.  As you’ll see, she’s not ducking at all.  Her immediate reaction, when she hunkered down, was to ask “was that a bat?”  That suggests that she didn’t see it well, even though she was facing in that direction.

She didn’t see it well not only because it was coming almost straight at her face, but because it was going pretty fast.  We can make a “wild-ass guess” — a technique that I used to teach students on the first day of my Statistics class, when I could be pretty confident that they hadn’t done the reading — of an estimate of its speed.

The blur is about 2.5 times the width of her head.  (The further it was behind her in this image, the larger it actually way, but let’s use 2.5 here.)  Let’s estimate that her head (including her hair) is 10 inches front to back.  So, that would mean that the blur in the image covers a span of 25 inches.  Subtract a little for the width of the shoe, adjust for it being further away from the camera, and that makes it about two feet.  If it is 24 frames per second, that would mean that it was traveling about 48 feet per second.

From there, we can do a little basic math.  That’s 2,880 feet per minute, or 172,800 feet per hour.  Divide by 5,280 feet per mine, and that’s about 33 miles per hour.  Had the woman throwing it aimed just a little better, it would have hit her square in the front of the face.  Do we estimate that the shoe weight about a pound?  At that speed, the force would easily be enough to break her nose.

Most of you know me as a critic of the right, but I’m also often a critic of the left.  That would routinely get me into hot water on Daily Kos.  One of the worst such examples occurred back when a Middle Eastern reporter — with what I expect was a much better grievance than the woman had here — threw a shoe at President George W. Bush while he stood at a press conference.  Many people, including those who should have known better, reveled in it, just like I expect you’ll see detractors of Hillary doing today.

I was horrified, partly by the event itself, but more so by the reaction.  I spent what seemed like days arguing with people who thought they were enlightening me on the cultural significance of throwing a shoe in Muslim cultures and justifying it as an act of resistance to what I agreed was the vicious, unjustified, and criminal war of choice in Iraq.  That may justify choice to act in violence to that reporter and those around him, I responded, but it doesn’t justify our choice to cheer at it.  I got (metaphorically) pummeled there, with very few allies, but I continued and continue to hold that position.  (Current political critics of mine, take note.)

Whether I respect the politician doesn’t enter into my calculations.  I probably won’t support Hillary in the primary if she runs, but if she wins I will support her in the general election — and that doesn’t matter.  If you’re opposed to violence against political candidates, you should stick with the principle.  If you don’t, then the political competition turns from who has the best ideas (which is good) and who has the most money and best campaign team (not so good, though people act as if it were) to whose supporters has the most willingness to do violence.  That may not be “Anti-American” in practice, but it sure is “Anti-American” in principle.

I held this view long before I ever considered being a candidate for office.  Some candidates for office, those who cultivate a persona of pleasant innocuousness, are probably relatively secure from attack.  For candidates who take positions that seriously threaten others’ interests — and I’m proud to be one of them — the prospect of campaign violence is sobering.  (It is becoming more so with the introduction of mandatory concealed carry into Orange County.  That’s not me opposing Second Amendment rights there, just me speaking the truth.)

Using the threat of violence to suppress candidates from running for office, or from taking strong stands that challenge people on the left or right or in between, is an assault on our society.  An attack on a police officer, outside of the rare case of legitimate imminent self-defense, cuts at the rule of law and order — but we have a strong social immune system to fight back against anyone who does so.

Attacks on a candidate serve only to ensure that candidates — most of whom do not run for office accepting risk of death or injury as a reasonably likely consequence of their choices — are as inoffensive and deferential to people who might consider violence as possible.  “Who is more likely to commit violence against me if I take a position?” is not the question that we want candidates considering as they form their views — and it is certainly not the area in which we want political factions to compete.

So I condemn this attack — and I don’t care whether I’d agree with the attacker 100% on a long list of issues.  I do so not only as a political observer, but as someone volunteering this year to be in firing range.  It should go without saying that I’d take such matters with utmost gravity as District Attorney, even if the target of attack is my worst enemy.

Orange Juice Blog Contest: WRITE PAUL LUCAS!

Paul Lucas, targeted by police for running a medical marijuana dispensary but ultimately convicted only for the possession of a small amount of meth left in his house without his approval by his girlfriend, is currently in Theo Lacy jail — and it sucks.  Partly it sucks because being in jail sucks; partly it sucks because he has multiple medical problems and is being forced off of his drug regimen, instead using drugs with nasty side effects.  (He’s an example of someone who, were I DA, would likely have been kept under house arrest, where he could use his own medications.  Why we’re spending public money to torture him eludes me.)

Anyway — Paul is bored and he wants mail.  You can write him — and note the first name you’ll use for him! — at this address:

John P. Lucas
Booking # 2815941
501 City Drive South
Orange, CA  92868
Theo Lacy Facility 

He’d like people to send reading material — anything from paperbacks to story clippings, anything from the Register to the Christian Science Monitor to the New Yorker to printed-off stories from local blogs — as well.  (Don’t expect to get it back; for all we know, it will be confiscated.  But one never knows until one tries.)  I’ll be visiting him sometime next week, so if you can get them to me, I’ll deliver them.  (I’m contributing some John Le Carre paperbacks.)  DO NOT SEND CONTRABAND.  DO NOT SEND PORN.  DON’T BE AN IDIOT.

Paul is also welcoming contributions that will allow him to buy things like envelopes and stamps — and if anyone there is willing to accept his collect calls, let me know.  Write Vern at his e-mail address to get information about how you give him some money.

Send OJB a copy of what you send Paul and you’ll be entered into the “Write Paul Lucas contest” — enter as many times as you’d like! — the winner of which, as judged by Paul Lucas, will receive a prize to be determined by Vern, which probably means something like a discount on a CD of his, but could be something even better.

This is your Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about that, or anything else you’d like, within reasonable bounds of decency and decorum.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)