Thursday, April 02, 2009

Worse than Oliver Twist

By Chip Tsao | published Apr 02, 2009

Had an African-American man been gunned down by white cops in Los Angeles in this way, it would have sparked protests that could’ve turned worse, with burning cars, looted shops, and prominent figures such as Jesse Jackson condemning the police for racism and calling for the resignations of the police chief and mayor.

In Hong Kong, the death of a Nepali man who confronted a police constable with a table after being reported by his neighbor for “indecent exposure” because he took an innocent leak on a hillside never escalated into a Rodney King-style civil uprising. Only a few thousand Nepali countrymen led a peaceful march demanding an apology from the Hong Kong police and a “fair investigation.” The victim had been living on the hillside for years, jobless and lonely. When he went out for a pee that afternoon on his little piece of grassland, I doubt he thought he would be seen as a “threat” to the public.

Someone wielding a table against a shouting cop should more or less be treated as mentally unstable. Even if a bullet is necessary to calm him, being shot right in the head seems a bit too much for even a spooky Coen Brothers’ movie. Part of political correctness is a more sophisticated and considerate treatment of crimes involving ethnic minorities, who are powerless and marginalized in the community.

The police, in an apparent effort to spin-doctor public opinion, have leaked some information about the victim’s background. It turns out the man had a petty criminal record of shoplifting. But shoplifters are not in the same category as armed bank robbers. Shoplifting is more of a crime that would be committed by Oliver Twist, a poor orphan with no food or shelter. It’s not a very tactful strategy by the police to release this information—it just adds more doubt to the rationale behind the killing.

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