Lalo Alcaraz wins in my book for summing up the Charleston shooting case in the most concise terms.
He's not the only cartoonist to address the subject or to extoll the virtues of video as a guarantor of justice; far from it. He's simply the one who put it in the barest and most inarguable terms.
This is what we've come to. And I say that as someone who grew up in a community with the equivalent of Sheriff Andy Taylor and who still believes there are plenty of good cops out there.
But they aren't all Andy Taylor and they aren't all good and so now this is what we've come to and thank God for personal video. (Granted, I'd thank Him even more for a world in which we don't need to distrust and fear each other.)
Nearly a half-century ago, people being beaten by police chanted "The Whole World is Watching," but that moment not only required a massive confrontation but also that network news have the budget to be in the Convention Center and on the streets at the same time, and that news directors agree that beating the crap out of people in the streets is a bad thing.
It was a long time ago.
Anyway, now the whole world is watching, and Alcaraz doesn't declare it a total victory, but he also doesn't look for reasons to feel bad about it.
Darrin Bell seems, on the surface, to declare a victory, but there's a healthy level of sarcasm at work here. As his on-looker states, it helps to have low expectations.
But it also helps to have reasonable and achieveable goals. The famous photo on which he riffs happened on VJ-Day, when the final enemy had fallen, and so, no, it's not time for that party.
However, let's stay in that era and recall a much earlier speech by Churchill, after the rout of Rommel's North African forces in North Egypt, in which he famously declared, "Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
The murder indictment is, to start with, only an indictment, and there's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip.
But not only does this one seem solid, but the usual outpouring of money to support the accused officer was first booted off GoFundMe and has received little support at IndieGoGo. Not getting a lot of love at Facebook, either.
Not that he doesn't deserve competent representation, mind you. But it doesn't appear that anyone wants to hold him up as a victim of the liberal media or Al Sharpton or whatever.
Which is a victory in itself. As Churchill also said in that speech,
There was a time, not long ago, when for a whole year we stood all alone. Those days, thank God, have gone. We now move forward in a great and gallant company. For our record we have nothing to fear, we have no need to make excuses or apologies. Our record pleads for us, and will gain gratitude in the breasts of free men and women in every part of the world.
Still, if the Civil Rights Act was the end of the beginning, this is, at best, the tip of the very early beginning of the end.
As Jack Ohman notes, having all the rules in place has not worked without verification that they are being followed.
I would add, however, that this case appears to be the Jackie Robinson, the Rosa Parks, case, while Ferguson -- though it succeeded in gaining the world's attention -- was not nearly so clean and clear-cut.
This is nothing against Michael Brown, shot in Ferguson. He deserved a better fate.
However, just as the NAACP in Birmingham passed over an earlier case of discrimination on buses because the young woman was pregnant and unmarried, building their protests instead around demure, determined Rosa Parks, and just as Major League Baseball passed up several talented black players and instead brought up the unflappable Jackie Robinson, so, too, Walter Scott appears to be the right example of an innocent victim in this battle for justice.
Yes, it leaves a question: How many people have been victimized because their lives were not blameless and there was no camera present?
Maybe it's only the end of the beginning after all, but, still, it's something.
And here's something else, courtesy of Glenn McCoy.
I don't often agree with McCoy, but this piece is as concise as Alcaraz's, and, while it's troubling, it's provocative in a good way.
I don't equate the clumsy, incompetently targeted surveillance of the NSA with the all-seeing eyes of Big Brother in 1984, simply because the novel posits a much more well-organized government and suggests that every citizen is under similar attention.
But, of course, Orwell was a novelist and overstating things is how you make your point clear in fiction.
I don't like having surveillance cameras on lamp posts. And, if the takeaway from this case is that we need more of them, I'm not happy about that.
However, if we haven't created as well-oiled a machine as Winston Smith dwelt under, we've certainly created a world in which compliance is a virtue.
We began slapping federal flags on local police and fire departments in the Vietnam Era to signal the supremacy of all authority figures, at a time when calls for change and reform were responded to with "Love it or leave it."
But McCoy offers something other than the centralized, organized dystopia that Orwell laid out: This is a vision of a nation in which we are all of us, and each of us, Big Brother.
I'm not sure how either he or I feel about that, but, with all due respect to Father Flanagan and the Hollies, it's heavy.