ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I'm disappointed in my country right now. The shooting in Ferguson, Missouri is a disgraceful mess. So I wrote this as a reminder that police are supposed to de-escalate situations, not make them worse.

Remember that you don't have to stay silent when people are behaving badly. You can speak up and act out for the kind of world you want to live in. In this case, you can help by reblogging this poem or linking to it here, so that more people will see it and the resources under it.  You could also write or draw something of your own.

This poem fills the "rape / non-con" square in my 6-10-14 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics; Hefty and Fiddlesticks are characters in the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread.

Warning:  Rude racial language, awkward interactions, police action, references to sexual assault and possible domestic abuse.  Despite the challenges, though, the overall tone is relatively positive as it focuses on damage control.

"Safety Rails"

Fiddlesticks and Hefty stopped
at Frisky Critters for lunch.
"You get us a table, and
I'll grab a couple buckets of
Fried Whatever," said Fiddlesticks.

"And Oreos," Hefty said
as he looked for an empty table
amidst a crush of high school students.
"I want my deep-fried Oreos."

Someone in the crowd
snarked at Fiddlesticks,
"Way to go, Uncle Tom!"
and his friends sniggered.

Hefty gave the offender
a warning tap on the shoulder.
"Actually, I'm the sidekick,"
he said, "and you guys
are acting like jerks."

"Sorry, officers,"
the young man muttered,
staring at the badges
revealed when Hefty and
Fiddlesticks had turned around.

"Hefty is my friend
as well as my partner,"
Fiddlesticks said quietly.
"You're not helping race relations
by picking on folks who get along."

They made an odd couple,
Hefty a solid slab of ruddy muscle
and Fiddlesticks a slim shadow
in comparison, but it was
the smaller man with Super-Speed.

The high school boys
nodded guiltily and slunk away.

Hefty found a table,
and once Fiddlesticks
came back with the food,
it didn't take long for them to
empty the buckets of banana chips,
fried green beans, parsnip fries,
Buffalo wings, pork nuggets,
and various other goodies,
followed by dessert.

Super-Speed made for
a super appetite, and even
Hefty's perfectly ordinary muscles
burned a lot of extra calories.

No sooner did they get back
into their patrol car
than the radio squawked.
The report sounded like
a blend of domestic disturbance
and a traffic hazard.

"Do you want to suit up?"
Fiddlesticks asked.

"Not unless they have heavy weapons,"
Hefty said, shaking his head.
"Otherwise the battlesuit just makes it
harder to connect with people."

"Dispatch says a baseball bat
has traded hands a couple of times,"
Fiddlesticks said.

"Shucks, I've been breaking up fights
like that since I was a kid," Hefty said.
He checked his zatzer, a clunky pistol
that could release a stunning charge,
but hoped he wouldn't need it.

When they arrived on the scene,
they found a battered pickup truck
crosswise in the street, backed into
the safety rails on the far side,
where it had rolled out of the driveway.

A young black couple squabbled
over the truck, the man wearing
a University of Nebraska hoodie,
the woman in a Metropolitan jacket.

At the moment they were tussling
over the baseball bat and
elbowing each other in the face.

"We need to get them apart
before anyone gets seriously hurt,"
Fiddlesticks said to Hefty.

"If you can separate them,
I'll take care of the man," Hefty said.
There was something about his stance
that made Hefty suspect an injury,
although he couldn't pin it down.
"That leaves the girl for you, but
we'll need another car -- I don't want
them riding to the station together."

"Right. You call for backup,"
Fiddlesticks said as he got out.
A swift flicker of motion, and
he had the fight broken up
before Hefty even finished
summoning a second car.

Hefty hustled over to help.
Fiddlesticks had the woman
pinned against the pickup truck,
talking to her in a low firm voice.

The man had the bat.
"The fuck you want?"
he snapped at Hefty.

The bat wasn't aimed to hit,
though, and Hefty didn't see
any other weapons hidden
under the man's clothes.

It might be possible
to defuse the situation
without further fighting.

"That's a heck of a way
to treat a good baseball bat,"
Hefty said to him.

The man startled and
looked down at his hands.
"Yeah, it's probably broke too,"
he said. "Reniece let my truck loose
and then beat it with the bat."

"You seem upset," Hefty said,
assessing the smashed headlights.
"I'd be pretty sore if somebody
trashed my truck like that."

"She just did that to get at me,"
the man said, his face crumpling.
"Said I cheated on her with her sister,
but I never wanted it, Coleen jumped me."

"Jumped you, that doesn't sound good,"
Hefty said, making a mental note
to follow up on the accusation.
"Reniece and Coleen, huh?
My name's Hefty. What's yours?"

"Brayton." Fingers tapped
nervously against the bat.

Hefty mirrored the gesture,
drumming his fingers on his thigh,
a slower one-two-three-four beat.

Brayton relaxed just a little bit,
shifting from one foot to the other --
and there it was again, a faint hitch
in the way his hips moved.

Hefty eased himself between
Brayton and Reniece.
It helped that Fiddlesticks was
escorting Reniece up the street.
"Think you could hand me that bat?"
Hefty asked. "We can put it away safely."

Brayton hesitated,
then slowly offered the bat.
"Yeah, I guess."

Hefty took it and locked it in the truck.
"You look kind of beat up yourself.
Did you catch the wrong end of the bat?"

"Maybe once or twice," Brayton said.
He stared down at his shoes.
"Reniece and I fought over it while
I was trying to get her away from my truck.
But mostly it's just from Coleen, she likes it rough."

"Looks like you could use
some medical attention," Hefty said.
He could see a bruise rising on Brayton's cheek.

"No, I'm fine," Brayton said,
his voice quick and high.
"I don't want to get anyone in trouble.
It's just a family thing."

Hefty bent his knees a bit,
trying not to loom over the guy.

"Well, it's a family thing that
put a big old dent in the safety rails.
That's not something I can ignore."
Hefty lowered his voice.
"Besides, if somebody hurt you,
then you really need to come
see a doctor about that."

"Who's even gonna believe me?"
Brayton said, his voice cracking.
"Hot girl jumps a guy in the shower,
he's supposed to want it."

"I believe you when you say
that something bad happened,"
Hefty assured him. "I know a guy,
he's a counselor who specializes
in helping with cases of rape and abuse.
You want me to call him for you?"

"What's a counselor even know
about it," Brayton said bitterly.

"Hank is a survivor himself;
his uncle molested him,"
Hefty explained.

"And he just admits it?"
Brayton said, finally looking up.

"Yeah, it's on his business cards,
so people know where he's coming from,"
Hefty said. "Sorry I don't have one on me, but
we got a whole box of referral cards in the car."

"Reniece busted up my truck,"
Brayton mourned.
"How'm I supposed to get to work?"

"If she broke your truck, then
she'll have to pay for it," Hefty said.
"Meanwhile, you can ride the bus.
They'll have route maps at the station."

Brayton sighed.
"We're getting arrested, aren't we."

"You hit each other and broke stuff,
so yeah," Hefty said. "That is not how
responsible people solve problems.
But everyone's calmed down now,
so we can sort out the rest of it
like rational folks.  Next time,
get help before it gets this bad."

Hefty glanced up the street and saw
Fiddlesticks loading Reniece
into the backup squad car.
"Time to go, Brayton," he said.
"Give me your hands."

Brayton obeyed, and Hefty
took care with the wide cuffs,
making sure they locked
tight enough for security
but loose enough for safety.

Hefty read off his rights,
then guided Brayton into the car,
keeping a hand over his head
to make sure that he didn't
hit the frame on the way in.

Next Hefty fished out
a few suitable referral cards
and passed them back through
the slot in the solid barrier that
separated the front and back of the car.

Fiddlesticks flitted back to the driver's seat,
startling a quiet yeep! from the passenger.

"This is my partner Fiddlesticks,"
Hefty said. "He's a speedster,
so you got a real safe ride to the station.
Fiddlesticks, this is Brayton."

"Is, is this a zoom wagon?"
Brayton squeaked.
In the rearview mirror,
his eyes were wide.

"Naw, I don't even have
my Class Z license yet,"
Fiddlesticks said easily.
"Super-Speed just means that
I can react faster to what happens,
like if someone swerves in front of me."

Brayton uncurled from where
he'd wedged himself into the corner.
"Okay," he said.

Hefty kept talking to Brayton
all the way to the station,
trying to keep him calm.
Meanwhile Hefty keyed in
information on his vidwatch
so the station would know
what services to have ready.

Hefty thought about the safety rails
that had wrapped around Brayton's truck.
Being a cop was a lot like that:
you couldn't always keep people
from getting a bit beat up, but
you could usually keep them
from running entirely off the road.

* * *


Fiddlesticks (Fred Anderson) -- He has short wavy black hair, brown eyes, and milk chocolate skin. He is about six feet tall with good muscle definition. He is ambidextrous. His wife Diamond is petite, around 4'9" tall, with a straight body but nice muscles. They have two children: Libbia, a girl of six; and Kenya, a girl of four.
Omaha does not have a soup team, so Fiddlesticks and Hefty get sent on calls involving superpowers or mad science. They excel at de-escalating problems before anyone can get hurt. Fiddlesticks has managed to disarm a number of gizmotronic bombs or other devices. He wants to take real bombsquad training but his chief doesn't want him off work that long. He carries a pair of batons for eskrima on duty, preferring those to the zatzer he also has.
Origin: Superpowers run in his family. He thought that he didn't have any, but turned out to be a late bloomer instead. His powers manifested at the police academy. They wanted to kick him out; the Omaha Chief of Police, Andromeda Todd, stuck up for him because she wanted a more diverse force. Consequently he is extremely loyal to the department and the city, despite a lot of local prejudice.
Uniform: Omaha police uniform with solid black short-sleeved shirt and pants.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Cop, Good (+2) Eskrima, Good (+2) Family Man, Good (+2) Gizmology, Good (+2) Sidekick: Hefty
Poor (-2) Public Speaking
Powers: Expert (+4) Super-Speed, Good (+2) Super-Dexterity
Motivation: To fight prejudice.

Hefty (Gary Braddock) -- He has ruddy skin, light brown eyes, and brown hair in a buzz cut. His body is large and powerful. He is 6'7" tall, about 2' wide at the shoulders, weighing 395 pounds. His maximum deadlift weight is 980 pounds. Hefty is homosexual, active in Bear culture. Therefore he dislikes discriminaton of any kind, often sticking up for other minorities. He also resents police brutality because if another cop mishandles civilians, it makes everyone's job harder.
Origin: His mother comes from a military family and his father from an activist family. Hefty decided to split the difference and become a policeman. He volunteered to take on the rookie Fiddlesticks when nobody else wanted to, and they are steadfast partners now.
Uniform: Omaha police uniform with solid black short-sleeved shirt and pants.
Qualities: Master (+6) Strength, Expert (+4) Cop, Expert (+4) Big and Tall, Good (+2) Battlesuit Pilot, Good (+2) Cornhusker, Good (+2) Nice Guy, Good (+2) Smarter Than He Looks
Poor (-2) Swimmer
Expert (+4) Battlesuit with Expert (+4) Armor, Good (+2) Zatzer Field, Average (0) Extraction Equipment, Average (0) Search & Rescue Sensors
Motivation: To protect and serve.
Model: Terry Hollands, strong man

* * *

Beginning with the inspiration for this poem ...

Here's a timeline of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. That led to protests and chaos, tear gas used on crowds, reporters arrested, reporters gassed and their equipment dismantled, and other mayhem. Subsequently local police have been removed from duty and state police have taken responsibility for the area, which seems to be helping.

This image compares police use of force in America and Germany.  Here's an article on Californian police beating and killing mentally disabled people.  This video mentions that German police fired 85 bullets all year in 2011 (involving humans, not counting the 9000 they evidently fired at animals), while American police used 90 on one person.  I feel that you should only be carrying a gun if you can hit what you aim at.  Double-tap center mass, follow with a shot to the head, is perfectly acceptable if someone is trying to kill you.  If you are unloading 12 or 90 bullets at anything less than an army, that is not good enough aim.  If you are unloading them into someone who does not have a weapon threatening to kill someone, that is excessive force.

The militarization of police in America has many negative effects. Sign a petition to protest this. You don't have to tolerate communities being turned into warzones.  Police brutality has serious consequences that affect everyone, including things like delaying citizens from helping in an emergency.  Read what a black policevet has to say about this.  Consider how to tell good cops from bad cops.

Now on to the poem ...

Frisky Critters is a fryhouse chain. They fry an enormous variety of meats and vegetables, a few fruits, and desserts. Among the favorites is their "Fried Whatever" available in basket or bucket sizes. It is, literally, whatever random menu items are coming up extra that day based on what people are not ordering, sold on the cheap so they don't go to waste. The menu varies somewhat by region because the restaurants buy as many local ingredients as feasible. Frisky Critters is ubiquitous in the south and well-represented in the midwest and plains, but not on the coasts.

Fried desserts come in many styles. Read a recipe for deep-fried oreos and learn how to fry oreos. Deep-fried apple pie bites are another option. Frisky Critters also has fried ice cream on weekends and holidays. Learn how to fry ice cream.

Uncle Tom was originally the titular character in the abolitionist novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. The term has since gone from compliment to insult, but it's really a lot more complicated than most people realize. In this case, the teenagers just didn't register that Fiddlesticks was making the suggestions; they assumed that any black guy in the company of a white guy must necessarily be in the subservient role.

The role of sidekick is a classic entertainment trope. In the movie Sky High it's called "hero support." Some people look down on sidekicks, but if you consider examples like Robin, you can see they have an important role. Technically, Hefty is a supernary; but in a team with a superpowered and an ordinary person, the ordinary person tends to be considered the sidekick. Hefty is proud of being the sidekick. The relationship between Hefty and Fiddlesticks is actually more nuanced, though, because Hefty has seniority to counterbalance the power differential. They look up to each other, in different ways, and they make a terrific team.

Interracial friendships are a challenge for some people, less so for others, and convey plenty of benefits. There are tips for making friends across racial boundaries.

Frisky Critters offers many options including fried vegetables, Buffalo wings, and pork nuggets. In Terramagne, Super-Speed and Super-Strength rank among the talents with the highest metabolic burden; even ordinary muscles burn a lot of fuel. So that's why these guys are cramming calories.

The University of Nebraska in Omaha is a state school. This is a typical hoodie from there.

Metropolitan Community College is a community school. Here is a school jacket.

De-escalation is a crucial set of skills for lowering the level of tension in a conflict. Read a complex exploration of de-escalation in law enforcement. These conflict resolution skills make for safer, more effective police work. Learn how to de-escalate conflicts. Fiddlesticks and Hefty are experts at this. Terramagne in general is more serious about teaching these skills, because the risk is higher when superpowers are in play.

The use-of-force continuum describes what actions are justified under what circumstances. Here's one illustration of that, and here's a much more detailed discussion. Among the relevant considerations here are that Terramagne-America has fewer guns, and that both Fiddlesticks and Hefty are highly trained professionals capable of competing on a super scale. Two ordinary college kids with a baseball bat are just not a credible threat to them. That means firing even a zatzer would be excessive force, so they use words and bare hands. A cop's job is to get out-of-control people back in control, preferably without anyone getting hurt.

Mirroring is a psychological technique for speech and body language to establish rapport. If you're good enough, you can lead someone from a state of high agitation back to calm.

Domestic abuse can include such things as possessive behavior and destroying property.  Reniece and Brayton show signs of an unhealthy relationship.

Male rape is a serious issue, and more men are raped than most people recognize. There is a very destructive misconception that "males always want sex." No, they don't, they want to be asked just like females. There are resources for male rape survivors, and tips for healing from the aftermath of sexual assault.

It is a truism that hurting people hurt other people. This happens for many reasons. Hurting someone does damage to the perpetrator as well as the victim. One thing that can occur is a cascade where the first offense triggers more, because the original victim is in a state of hyperarousal and unable to think rationally. It's important to stop that cascade before it gets even worse. Know how to help people while protecting yourself. It helps a lot that T-America's social services are more integrated, so they can not just take a violent person off the street but summon whatever problem-solving support seems necessary to address the situation. That not only reduces problems, it makes it easier for cops to corral people in the first place if they can offer solutions instead of just threats. It's safer for everyone.

Narrow handcuffs are hazardous and can cause temporary or permanent injury. Zip ties can be even worse. Wide handcuffs, like the turbo style, are much safer and more comfortable. T-America uses handcuffs which are broad and solid. They do ratchet down, but have a second lock to prevent accidentally going tighter once they are set. They are extremely difficult to break or pick open, so they're also more secure. The main drawbacks are that they're heavier and more expensive.

Situational awareness entails observing what is going on around you and analyzing what it means, through several levels of alertness. This is how Hefty assessed the original threat level, kept tabs on what his partner was doing, and also managed to respond when Fiddlesticks inadvertently spooked Brayton. Ordinary people aren't used to seeing superpowers right in front of them, and it can be very startling, especially for someone already stressed. Take steps to improve your situational awareness.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-15 01:26 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I have linked this everywhere. I hope it helps someone.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-15 01:55 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
With a name like Fiddlesticks and with super speed and dexterity, I'd expect to find him playing fiddle on his nights off. Bluegrass, Celtic, or country?

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-15 02:21 pm (UTC)
thnidu: a G-clef crossed with a lightning bolt (clef)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I wasn't sure either when I saw the name, but the clue is in Y.'s notes: "He carries a pair of batons for eskrima on duty". But it would be neat if he did that too. Or drumming!
Many systems begin training with two weapons, either a pair of sticks or a stick and a wooden knife. These styles emphasise keeping both hands full and never moving them in the same direction, and trains practitioners to become ambidextrous. For example, one stick may strike the head while the other hits the arm. Such training develops the ability to use both limbs independently, a skill which is valuable even when working with one weapon.
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith, it would help if you linked the first use of "eskrima", as I did up there. Also a more-specific link, to § Sticks, which features a photo of a pair of rattan sticks.

• Univerisity of Nebraska
→ University


Date: 2014-08-15 05:27 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
First, my doctor just emailed me a warning letter telling me to avoid this restaurant like the PLAGUE.

Isn't this the restaurant you had in mind to compare with Chick-fil-a? I grew up with that restaurant as a rare treat... and now I won't patronize it, despite it having MORE items on the menu that I can /have/. The high school kids were "calling out" what they saw as a negative behavior, but the fact that ONLY Hefty spoke up says a lot to me about the management's indifference.

I've spoken up twice this week- and am rethinking that decision as a result of the verbal abuse hurled at me by the very person I thought needed help. I can somewhat understand how people can hear a shouted argument half a BLOCK away... and decide to ignore it.

But if everybody passes the buck, there's no society at all, is there?

Re: Sigh

Date: 2014-08-17 05:54 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Total agreement with the Chick-Fil-A boycott... Truett Cathy (thankfully) hasn't deigned to poke his head into Northwest Blue-state Nirvana up here, only being brave enough to come as far as Boise....

If I had been management there... these guys are regulars, with badges on. If Hefty *hadn't* turned around, I would've said something, but as it was, the kids learnt a lesson, *and* management-I wouldn't have to lose them as customers, who would tell their friends.

If no one else did handle something like that, *then* management-I would say something. One of my favourite stories is "Different Cultural Levels Eat Here"... in which the management *does* say something.... funny the stuff you read in grade school but don't grok until many, many years later.... but you *remember*.

Ferguson... I am hoping that the backlash from this, from what the governor imposed to the inevitable lawsuits to the calls for Federal investigation to what will probably, hopefully, happen at the ballot box in a few months, will be a tipping point, that we can get back from this slippery slope. I have to hope, and jump at chances to do what I can to support that hope; the alternative doesn't bear contemplating.

Re: Sigh

Date: 2014-08-17 06:52 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Maybe I should have mentioned that my favorite fryhouses tend to be run by brown people. Places I can get fried catfish and fried okra and my partner Doug can get red beans & rice and onion rings.

Oh, yeah. Now you makin' me HUNGRY. There's a BBQ joint in White Center you'd be comfortable with.. Mike and his staff are definitely of the dark chocolate persuasion.

And my favourite breakfast place (sadly, not 24x7) is festooned with rainbow culture, and Astro, one of the servers there, trips *two* tropes; he's got (or at least had when I met him) a boyfriend, and looks like about 56% cacao... :) *chuckles* I met him the night he got his job. The interview was right in front of all of us, and took about 30 seconds. :)

I've got friends who have done things like this, speaking up at work and not tolerating racism or homophobia or whatever. That shit is not okay.

No it's not I have to figure out a way to make sure it's Not Okay in the workplace, too. It's *hard* when the culprit is two pay grades above you.

it's possible to communicate much better and faster now, so maybe that will enable enough people to anticipate the problem and actually fix it before the fucking engine falls out.

In *both directions*, too... as I posted elsebook, people in Turkey and Egypt were tweeting hints on dealing with tear gas and rubber bullets to the folks in Ferguson. As the OP said, there is both shame and solidarity in that....

true colors

Date: 2016-10-11 04:10 am (UTC)
callibr8: (diversity)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
>> I don't feel compelled to associate with people just because our meat looks similar. <<

Well said! I've never cared what color anybody's "meat suit" is; I'm always much more interested in the sapience inside it. 'Tis only when that's lacking that I'll ease back slowly and look around for somebody else who looks *interesting*, or who has just said something interesting, to talk to.

Re: Sigh

Date: 2014-08-17 06:32 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
If hubby weren't so attached to his job, and I weren't allergic to snow (LOL, no, I have enough trouble with arthritis in a zone which dips below freezing a dozen times a year)....

The pocket of California I live in is so "red" on the maps that it might as well be burgundy. It's depressing, feeling as if anything I do in the ballot box is countermanded by any of the ten neighbors on my block. And that's just in the voting booth; I don't get hassled by cops for random reasons.

The FBI have already announced that they're running a parallel investigation. The press is still /heavily/ focused on the area, and sitting in the park half a continent away yesterday, I could hear people discussing the events, the possible truth versus the PR... No one is giving up without answers, and I think you're right about the upcoming effects in politics.

Re: Sigh

Date: 2014-08-17 07:02 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Am so sorry about the necessities of your location... and getting hassled by the *cops*? That shit is VERY not okay.

I think it's good that even in your neighbourhood they're discussing it, and questioning the PR. Make that *especially* in *your* neighbourhood. Even more encouraging.

Re: Sigh

Date: 2014-08-17 07:15 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
OH, no, I /don't/ get hassled by the cops. Middle-aged pinkish woman with a visible disability? I'm pretty much the dictionary definition of harmless.

Though the last time I was approached by an officer, I was outside the police station parking lot, waiting for hubby to get out of work,so I was standing near the gate and knitting. Apparently, only mad dogs and Englishwomen knit in 102F weather. The officer approached me as he was leaving the lot, asking if I needed assistance. Quite the old-fashioned community peace officer, even though he's probably of an age with my oldest son.


(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-17 05:57 pm (UTC)
odanu: b&w pic of a toddler in a wide brimmed hat in front of a camper looking fierce (Default)
From: [personal profile] odanu
I would like very much to include an excerpt and link in a post about this. Is that okay? (Maureen O'Danu)

Re: Yes, please!

Date: 2014-08-17 06:29 pm (UTC)
odanu: b&w pic of a toddler in a wide brimmed hat in front of a camper looking fierce (Default)
From: [personal profile] odanu
will do.


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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