RNC Commission investigation whitewash


by Grace Kelly • Minnesota Progressive Project
Over $100,000 of St Paul money was spent on an RNC Commission consisting of carefully government-connected people. This had all of us wondering how “investigative” this commission was, or whether it simply paid to paint a better picture to silence people like me. An investigative commission would be the equal or superior of the people being investigated and speak in a command sort of way. An whitewash commission would be subservient and speak in a subservient way.

Minnesota Progressive Project is the result of the merger between Minnesota Campaign Report and MN Blue, with common goals of providing a go-to source for online progressive politics in Minnesota.

One of the most well documented outrages was the very-directed too-close repeated use of pepper spray. Yet this is the language the report uses (highlights are mine):

The Commission has learned that the use of pepper spray is very low on the use of force continuum as applied during the RNC and is preferred over physical contact. This assumes, however, a defensive use of pepper spray to ward off attack, or a general use of the spray to clear a wide area. At times during the RNC, however, law enforcement directed pepper spray at specific individuals, in an offensive fashion. In one particular incidenton September 1 we observed on video, a woman, who was standing still immediately in front of advancing MFF units on Kellogg, was repeatedly doused with pepper spray, rather than arrested. Such apparent uses of pepper spray as an offensive weapon troubled the Commission. One police leader told the Commission that offensive use of pepper spray aimed at a specific individual would not normally be an acceptable use of force. Given this, we believe that what appears to be the apparent excessive use of pepper spray as an offensive weapon against specific individuals may warrant further review.

OK, what has the rest of us speaking in bold no-nonsense terms is something that the RNC commission says “may warrant further review”. (And do read that, dripping with sarcasm!) Does Co-Chair Thomas Heffelfinger and Co-Chair Andrew Luger as prosecutors normally pepper their summations with “at times” this person had done “what appears to be” “unacceptable use of force”, which therefore “may warrant further review?”

This type of “Yes-master” speech is called “mitigated speech” by Malcolm Gladwell, in his book: Outliers. Malcolm Gladwell uses speech analysis in the context of how crews relate to each other in the cockpit of a commercial airliner, during an airplane emergency. Quoting from Wikipedia:

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell, lays out 6 levels of ways that we make suggestions to authority. He calls it, “mitigated speech”.

1. Command – “Strategy X is going to be implemented”

2. Team Obligation Statement – “We need to try strategy X”

3. Team Suggestion – “Why don’t we try strategy X”

4. Query – “Do you think strategy X would help us in this situation?”

5. Preference – “Perhaps we should take a look at one of these Y alternatives”

6. Hint – “I wonder if we could run into any roadblocks on our current course”

In the book, Outliers, describes the mate saying, “Captain, the weather radar has helped us a lot”, when he should have been screaming “Abort!”. Therefore, the plane crashed. In this case, our civil rights are crashing from statements like “may warrant further review!”