The Difference Between a Victim and a Villain

Tamir Rice: Armed and dangerous playing with a toy gun. Had to die.

I read a lot of stuff online.  Some of it is smart and most of it is not.  I read something on a website after last week’s FBI shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the militia militants who have taken over and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, now dragging into 33 days with no end in sight.

Finicum’s death has given his fellow extremists the martyr for their anti-government rebellion and one of Finicum’s fellow fanatics, Jason Patrick made a totally insane comparison when he likened Finicum’s death to the killing of Tamir Rice, an unarmed 12-year-old African American boy fatally shot by police outside a Cleveland recreation center in 2014.

“The government can kill who they want for whatever reason they want with impunity,” Patrick said.

An anti-government, gun-toting, wannabee revolutionary crazy man is comparable to what happened to Rice? BULLSHIT!  Finicum was armed with a rife with real shells. Rice had a toy pistol. Rice was blown away by the Cleveland cops within three seconds. Finicum wandered around federal property for 27 days before he was shot while toting a weapon.

I forgot how much Americans love their outlaws and there will always be those who take the side of the outlaws even when they bring their fate down on their own head as one poster did in a forum post.

“And now one of them’s dead. Poor dumb bastard. I get the impression he didn’t want to live, and I wonder how his life went so wrong. Was he reaching for a gun? Damned if I know. I’ve watched the slowed-down aerial shots, and maybe he was just flapping his arms around trying to keep his balance in deep snow. People do that. I’ve done that within the last week, my muscles still remember what it feels like. Maybe at that moment he didn’t mean any more harm than Tamir Rice did. Or maybe he did. But he’d created a situation, blustering and posing, where the guy who shot him had no other choice. I hope the guy who shot him comes to understand that.”

It shouldn’t be necessary to explain Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was a 55-year-old White man armed with a rifle who declared he would rather die than surrender who illegally occupied the refuge for nearly a month while Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old Black boy armed with a toy gun who never had a chance to surrender as he died on a Cleveland playground with three seconds of the police arriving.

Like flies to cow pies, this sort of lawlessness contempt and disdain for any authority whatsoever only encourages more contempt and disdain for the law and authority. Wannabees have been emboldened by the Oregon stand-off and some of them are ready to kill for their twisted beliefs.

The cops and the FBI didn’t start this, but they have guns too and if these snack-swallowing “patriots” want to go out in a blaze of glory, that’s their call.

Finicum abandoned his home and family to sit in the snow and give bullshit press conferences railing against the government. Rice was being a boy doing what boys do in playing with a toy gun. Finicum was an armed militia extremist. Rice was a kid. Finicum proclaimed he was a law-abiding citizen who loved, God, family, and freedom. Rice didn’t hold any press conferences to proclaim what he loved. Pizza, maybe?

Rice was a boy who never had a chance to grow any older. Finicum was a grown man who threw away his chance and there’s one less gun-toting nut in the world.

If someone wanted to compare the fate of Mr. Finicum with that of other anti-government radicals like Gordon Kahl, Randy Weaver, and Timothy McVeigh, that would be a valid comparison. Tamir Rice’s killing has nothing to do with what happened to Finicum. One was murdered where he stood while the other reportedly yelled, “Just shoot me!” and the authorities complied.

Agitating to die is not the same thing as being gunned down without so much as a warning.

No matter how many how many of his fellow armed militia extremists or simple-minded sympathizers try to dig up and co-opt Rice’s corpse and try to compare the death of an innocent boy with the death of a radical extremist, there is zero truth to it. It only cheaply devalues the life of an innocent who was murdered before he ever had a chance to live to make a misanthropic hater who chose suicide-by-cop look a little less crazy.

There’s a world of difference between a victim and a villain. Robert Finicum thought he was a hero. Thought he was a patriot. Thought he could overthrow a government with a rifle. He thought wrong and now he’s dead.

Robert Finicum. Sedition. Armed with a rifle. Giving press conferences for nearly a month.

Robert Finicum. Sedition. Armed with a rifle. Giving press conferences for nearly a month.

Tamir was just a kid in the park who crossed the path of a trigger-happy killer cop who had no business whatsoever with a gun and a badge. They aren’t remotely the same sort of death. They aren’t even remotely on the same planet.

It shouldn’t be necessary to explain this but I’m not surprised it is.