To Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, And The Idiots Who Blame Cigarette Taxes For Eric Garner’s Death

Conservative zealots have been in a quandary over what to make of the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death on video. They don’t want to be seen as agreeing with the liberals they so feverishly despise, but they can’t find a reasonable argument to justify the unambiguously brutal killing of a man caught committing a crime on the scale of jaywalking. And unlike the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, there is video evidence of the officer’s brutality.

Rush Limbaugh Tobacco Tax

With the passage of time some of these right-wingers have begun to settle on a debate strategy that absolves the police of any guilt. It was first articulated by Sen. Rand Paul from the tobacco-growing state of Kentucky. Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld joined the fruitcake choir. Shortly thereafter, Rush Limbaugh picked up the baton and ran a bit farther around the track. Here is what they said:

Paul: I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes […] For someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians.

Limbaugh: The police in New York, because they’re so eager for tax collection, what is being done here with regard to taxes and the state’s desire to collect them no matter what […] I think the real outrage here is that an American died while the state is enforcing tax collection on cigarettes.

Let’s get one thing straight here: Eric Garner did not die for anything related to tax collection. He was murdered by a police officer who strangled him while ignoring his repeated cries that he could not breathe.

Furthermore, Garner was never alleged to have violated any tax laws. The fact that the police originally approached him regarding his allegedly selling single cigarettes was incidental to his death. Selling “loosies” is not a violation of any tax code. It is a violation of statutes that prohibit the unlicensed sales of controlled substances. Garner would have been subject to the same legal scrutiny had he been selling single shots of whiskey.

There is only one cause that can be cited for Garner’s death, and that is the excessive force and reckless endangerment by the officer that placed him in a chokehold, a tactic that was explicitly prohibited by the guidelines of the NYPD.

For anyone to shift the blame from the overzealous officer to the legal pretext for the arrest is patently absurd. This is just an opportunity for anti-tax extremists to exploit a tragedy to advance their agenda and simultaneously excuse the behavior of a rogue cop. If Garner had been stopped for allegedly shoplifting a pair of socks from a Wal-Mart, and subsequently died at the hands of the police, would any of these wacko Libertarians be arguing that the laws against shoplifting caused the death and that those laws should be repealed?

It takes a special kind of stupid to advance a theory that a minor legal infraction somehow compelled a police officer to use deadly force against a suspect. That behavior is not supported by any statute or the code of conduct of the police department. It was solely the decision of the officer.

The proponents of this theory, however, may have ulterior motives. First of all, they are desperate to avoid agreeing with their ideological adversaries that the police might be responsible for having overreacted. Secondly, they don’t want to allow legitimate charges of racism to settle in despite the evidence that black men are 21 times more likely to be shot by the police than white men. And finally, both Paul and Limbaugh have personal conflicts of interest. Paul represents the second biggest tobacco producing state in the country. And Limbaugh is an avid consumer, and visible proponent of, tobacco. They would both be very happy, no doubt, if regulations of tobacco were eased or revoked.

It is ironic that Republicans have wrapped themselves in the cloak of personal responsibility, but when it comes to the behavior of police officers who shoot down unarmed teenagers, murder twelve year olds with fake plastic guns in public parks, or fire on patrons in department stores carrying toy guns they intend to purchase, personal responsibility is cast aside. And the fact that in all of these recent incidents the victim was an African-American male speaks to the barely disguised racism that infects our society. Particularly when white men exercising their “right” to openly carry firearms in grocery stores and burger joints never seem to encounter any problem with the local police.

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BY THE WAY, Cigarette taxes save lives. They deter both adults and minors from consuming a product that will eventually make them acutely sick and probably kill them. Tobacco is far more dangerous than terrorism. In fact, if Al Qaeda or ISIL were interested in raising the number of fatalities they cause, they should consider buying Philip Morris. Cigarettes kill more than 400,000 Americans every year. That’s more than 100 times the death toll on 9/11 and far more than any terrorist organization has ever imagined. Plus it’s entirely legal so they could kill more Americans without having to dodge drones or Navy SEALs.

Nevertheless, the right is obsessed with permitting this wholesale slaughter to continue. And it goes back decades to the seeds of the Tea Party. That’s part of the reason that the AstroTurfed, Koch brothers funded Tea-bacco lobby launched their mission with attacks on public health care.

So not only did cigarette taxes not cause Garner’s death, they have prevented sickness and death for millions of Americans. It gives a whole new and meaning to the hashtag #ICantBreathe.


6 thoughts on “To Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, And The Idiots Who Blame Cigarette Taxes For Eric Garner’s Death

  1. Weirdly enough though, when Michael Brown was shot to death, the right wingers pinned the blame for him for having “robbed a convenience store”. Why was it that they didn’t use a similar approach as they did with Garner and their ludicrous “blame the tax laws” approach and ask to repeal laws against stealing from convenience stores?

    Just as they say that Garner would not have died if there hadn’t been cigarette tax laws, the same sort of argument can also be used to argue that if there were no laws against robbing a store, Brown would not have been killed. Yet they didn’t take this approach with Brown while taking the approach with Garner even though there was nothing restricting them from doing so. They preferred instead to say that Brown deserved to die for his crimes (yes some right wingers are ACTUALLY saying that).

    I’d presume that if they can say that the same right wingers would be going against what Rand Paul et el have said and be claiming that Garner too, deserved his death for “breaking the law”.

    • I thought the tape showed that Brown didn’t rob the store – but it’s probably hard to go after someone who slanders a dead person. >_>

      • (I mean the windbags on reich wing radio of course)

  2. Just when you think they’ve stooped as low as they can go – they find a way to take it down a notch.

    But this is to be expected from the sociopaths who’ve devoted their lives to the Ideology of Hate. The so-called “conservative movement” has pushed itself beyond the point of no return. They’re like the spoiled children of the very rich – they scream and wail because they need attention, so they are given every damned thing they want… but it can never be enough. If you reward a child for having tantrums the tantrums only get worse and more frequent.

    We fed the right-wing pathology by giving in to Reagan, Gingrich, DeLay, Dick ‘n Dubya, etc. They demanded massive tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of banking & industry, a blank check for the Pentagon, a blind eye to corruption, a deaf ear to lying in the media, never-ending war for profit, undoing social programs for the needy, de-clawing environmental protections, and so much more… We gave it to them, and now we have a bunch of self-righteous, spoiled, hateful nihilists who have put a new face on fascism… but we’re not allowed to say so in polite company!

    How much longer, people? Liberals are so dedicated to “tolerance” that they are tolerating the destruction of civilization, rather than taking a “radical” stance. Revolution is a real option. You don’t have to fight in the streets, but you should at least prepare for it.

    • Boy, that last paragraph was a bunch of bullshit. Dedicated to “tolerance” – what lie. Whenever anyone speaks anything not approved by you leftist kooks – they are branded with all kinds of ignorant names. When you respect people’s right to say and think what they want – even if it’s not very nice – you may make that ridiculous “tolerance” comment. Until then – get a clue. That exchange on Bill Maher between Sam Harris and that idiot Ben Affleck should be enough evidence of the lack of tolerance for those opinions that just don’t fit in the politically correct box. And why don’t you go the extra step and take a radical stance???? Bullshit artist.

      • You need to brush up on your reading comprehension. I did not say I am a liberal, or that I am tolerant. I was being critical of liberals (like Ben Affleck) and political correctness. If you weren’t so full of hate you would know that there are more points of view in this world than simplistic “conservative” and “liberal” rhetoric… in fact, those two words have been so twisted by dumbed-down partisan politics that they don’t mean anything substantial at all anymore.

        Just because I called out those horrible Rethuglicans doesn’t make me a Democrat, or a mindless “Obamabot” or whatever… I just hate fascism. And I did say “Revolution is a real option” which is not just another way of saying “vote for Hillary”… or a call for old white bigots to put on Revolutionary War costumes and spout ignorant bullshit on FoxNewz. I’m radical enough for now, and when the shit hits the fan, then I’ll be as radical as the situation requires.

        Now you get a clue… if your feeble brain can handle it.

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