Murder City

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Firefighters union prez Billy Shields was too tied up to comment. (Inquiring owls want to know: Was he tending to the sweetheart deal he got from Governor Janet Napolitano overseeing student loans? See "Bonds. Big Bonds," November 16.) However, this crafty cardinal was able to gab with Jake Jacobson, PLEA's prez, about the proposed placarding. He said PLEA hopes to nail 'em up this May in conjunction with Police Memorial Week. There would be about 30 of the orange dials for cops killed while serving the public. These include 12 who died by gunshot, 15 from traffic accidents and three from "fights with suspect."

Jacobson defended the plan, telling this fiendish falcon, "These are officers who lost life while protecting our city, and that's a historical thing."

Well, first off, the death of a cop is rarely historic, because it's a police officer's job to put his or her life on the line aiding others. That's an admirable, sometimes heroic, thing, but it's not historic. The Pueblo Grande ruins are historic. The spot where an officer was gunned down back in 1925? Uh, not so much.

Plus, people are shot and run over every day in the PHX. Does the fact they weren't wearing police blue make their deaths less significant? After all, they may have even died heroically, and the heroism of someone not getting paid to be heroic seems more worthy of recognition.

Wally Olsen, the police detective who came up with the concept, disagreed that risks to life and limb are just part of a cop's job.

"When I signed on to be a policeman, I didn't sign on to die," screeched Olsen. "My job is to uphold the law and protect people." He added: "We want to go home every day."

Sure ya do, Wally. But then so do we all in the 59th most dangerous city in the nation. It ain't like you signed up to work in the post office, pallie.

Is the shooting of a police officer less sad than some poor schmuck killed in some senseless drive-by? And what about the 196 people who died in PHX auto fatalities last year? Hey, whether a drunken driver hits a cop or a regular citizen, the grief of that person's family is the same.

Then there are those killed under questionable circumstances by cops over the years. They especially deserve markers!

Basically, this warbler thinks this proposal's dumber than Gila Bend dirt. When a member of Five-O buys it, they receive a big funeral, a 21-gun salute, a presentation of flag to the surviving family member — all totally covered by the department and the donations that come pouring in from the public (such deaths normally garner major media play). So don't come whining to this winged wordsmith demanding even more just for doing your effin' job. Not until, at least, the Phoenix PD drives that murder rate down to a livable level.

White Stepin Fetchit

Everyone's seen Michael Richards' N-word explosion at L.A.'s Laugh Factory last month, but what amazes this blackbird is the way Cosmo Kramer, Seinfeld's lovable "hipster doofus," has morphed into the white Stepin Fetchit, cowering before cameras with the Reverend Jesse Jackson behind him as if Jackson had the dood on a leash.

Not only has Richards apologized ad nauseam, first on David Letterman, then on Jackson's radio program. He's promised to sit down with ambulance chaser extraordinaire Gloria Allred, along with the two men Richards screamed epithets at while onstage (whom lawyer Allred represents) and a retired judge, to determine what financial reward the, um, "victims" will receive for their "injury." Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada told this nosy nightingale from L.A. that Richards is forbidden from performing in his club, and that he believes Richards should dole out half a million simoleons to charity for each time he said the N-word that night.

The Laugh Factory has since banned the N-word from all comedic performances, and will fine comedians $20 each time they use it onstage. Damon Wayans, who ironically tried to trademark the variant "nigga" in 2005 for merchandising purposes, was just fined $320 by the Laugh Factory for using the term 16 times during a performance, and declared persona non grata for three months.

Pardon this birdbrain, but has everyone lost their friggin' minds?

Richards' sin was not that he was a white guy who used the N-word during his act, it was that he wasn't funny while doing so. To be honest, it'd take a masterful comedian of the Caucasian persuasion to pull that one off, and Richards is no George Carlin or Lenny Bruce. He's not even to the level of ofay comics like Yucko the Clown, Lisa Lampanelli or Sarah Silverman, each of whom does edgy race humor with relative impunity.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons