licensed to kill

you could curse a police officer out, kick their car, throw a temper tantrum and throw trash. and that still doesnt mean they get to kill you. what the fuck is wrong with yall? why do you think police get some special license to kill when they get disrespected?

if they cant do their job without murdering unarmed people, they dont deserve their badge, or anyones respect.

6 reasons you should consider being a cat:
- free food
- free rent
- sleep as long as you want to
- look great with no effort
- toes look like beans
- license to kill


So what’s new in a country that routinely lets police get away with killing African-Americans? How many of these grotesque miscarriages of justice do we need to see that no matter how clear or damning the evidence, no matter how visually graphic, police will not be convicted for killing black people? It’s as if being a police officer is a license to kill people of color.

I have several problems with the concept of privilege. I actually surprised some audiences when I say that I don’t actually accept the discourse of white privilege. I actually offer a different discourse, and let me explain why.

Firstly, look at the things that are called privileges. The things that are called privileges are actually rights to things such as healthcare, being treated fairly if you’re pulled over by a police officer, being treated fairly in a criminal justice system, to have access to employment, housing. As you go down the list, you begin to realize, it’s something weird about calling privileges something that every human being would like to have on the planet. Neoliberalism wants to call them privileges exactly because neoliberalism wants to take them away from everybody, Black and white. And so if you can get enough people feeling guilty for what they should actually have, then it’s easier to take things away from everybody and give more to those who are wealthy.

The second reason I have a problem with the privilege discourse, it’s a distortion of the concept of privilege. We’ve often heard the expression, for instance, “it’s an honor and a privilege to work with you.” When you hear something like that, the thing about privileges that people often don’t understand, is that privileges are good. It’s a privilege, for instance, to serve if you’re patriotic. It’s privilege to be in the company of people you respect. Privileges are actually good things, so the idea of telling you that you’re supposed to feel bad about good things is, as Fanon would argue, sick.

The third problem with the white privilege discourse is exactly what we’ve seen play out historically. Then it just gave an opportunity for whites to simply talk about their privilege and still not do a damn thing about the system of injustices that are around them and the rest of us. So it bleeds into a form of narcissism, and of course the thing about narcissism is that it puts whites  back into control because they can control their cathartic emotional life in terms of how they respond to to the charge of privilege. But they go home to a system that remains intact.

What I actually argue is a more constructive way to deal with this issue is the concept of license. Now people may say what do you mean? If you think about the basic thing of what a license is, when you get a license, it means whatever you’re doing is protected by law. So what happens is in mundane examples for instance if you have a license to drive a car, and you’re pulled over, it is established that you have the license to drive a car. Whether you’ve done other things while driving the car is another matter. The thing about license is that a license is legitimate right to use a certain power.

So if we think of the most extreme example of how a license works, try to imagine a license to kill. If a person has a license to kill, and in many contexts, many people when they’re designated soldiers or mercenaries have a license to kill within that context. Now let’s just say that you’re born with a license to kill say, all except other people who have a license to kill. If you’re in a framework like that, so long as you’re killing anybody outside of that category, then you don’t have to give a reason for the killing you’ve done, you just have to show a license. If you think about it historically, and I’m using that because it’s the most extreme example, if you look at the history of white supremacy, it’s a history of large communities of white people who can pack a picnic basket, get together, drag predominantly Black men and women, there are other contexts in which large groups of Native populations were wiped out, but the main thing was that they could drag these people, they could eviscerate them, lynch them, and throughout the entire process pose for pictures that are put in newspapers with them committing those acts. So when you think of that example, it means that the legal authorities will not act upon that precisely because the perpetrators, and the license here becomes the designation white.

Now I give you one more example that’s really crucial because of contemporary debates. One of the ways that there has been a form of fascist attack, particularly on Black people and on women, is this phony defense of free speech in a war against political correctness. But they’re not defending free speech and what they call political correctness. Political correctness is a term developed by the American right. It’s a right wing concept just like white privilege was developed by whites. This was a way in which the right wanted to undermine the efficacy of political institutions. But if you look carefully at what they call political correctness, it’s not actually political, it’s moral. In other words, the examples they would use is if people are going to judge certain people as immoral for the things they say. That is very different than politics.

What’s striking if you look for what they’re fighting for, it’s for an assertion of legal apparatuses and structures that will give them not free speech, but licensed speech. In other words, licensed speech is to be able to hurl your words in an action of harm. The way I usually formulate it, free speech doesn’t mean the right to be a schmuck, it’s an adult responsibility in a world that actually expands the capacity of other people in terms of human flourishing. However, the childlike adolescent licensed speech comes down to a thesis: I just wanna do or say what I want. It’s defended to the point where saying or doing what you want can lead in very real ways not just to harm but to the death of others. As we know in the case of Emmett Till for instance, the words of the woman who gave the testimony were used for the lynching of this 14 year old boy. And there are many other examples. If you look at Trump, Trump is not about free speech, he is the manifestation of the adolescent fantasy of many whites to return to a world in which they had the license for liberty without responsibility.

And this comes back to Fanon, because he understood the distinction between liberty and and freedom. As a therapist, a patient would come to him precisely because although the patient may have liberty, if the patient has insufficient control or understanding and her or his own life, and the relationship that person has with the social world, that person’s freedom will be impaired, although there are no formal shackles over her or his hands and feet. This is the crucial thing that is missing from Anglophone discourses around issues of freedom and around the excursion of racism. There is in freedom always a responsibility and a demand for one to take on the task of bearing the burdens but they’re not burdens in the negative sense. they’re burdens in the elective sense, in the good sense or what’s called election in the Bible. There are certain burdens that are a function of responsibility that make us into better human beings.

Dr. Lewis Gordon (x)

The Truth

A police badge is NOT a license to kill.

A healthy environment goes hand in hand with a healthy economy.

Throwing more people into prison actually increases crime rates.

It’s immoral to lock people up and ruin their lives for becoming addicted to drugs.

monetary donations to politicians are the same as bribes.

Healthcare is not a privilege.

Forcing people to work to survive is slavery.

A free, high quality education is the right of every person.

Waging war only destabilizes the world further, and exacerbates terrorism.

Protecting the civil rights of minorities, and embracing progress is the most ‘American’ thing there is.

We are completely capable of meeting all our needs and wants with clean, renewable energy.

A fraction of our military budget could end global poverty 10 times over, it’s time to act.

Higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy are fair and should be expected.

Immigrants and refugees share new perspectives, enrich our culture and make our country stronger.

forcing women to carry children is a huge violation of their civil rights and personal freedoms.

America/the world will change for the better if, and only if, people can imagine a better future for themselves and their children.