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"Crime. Boy, I dunno."
May 28, 2008 1:54 AM   Subscribe

"Ok, my eyes must be deceiving me. That can't be someone aiming a gun at someone else on Google Maps Street View", says Michael Beck.
posted by nthdegx (99 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Apparently, Google has already pulled the image, but you can see the target in the picture one 'step' to the left. Different position, but obviously the same person.

Shame they pulled it.
posted by Malor at 1:59 AM on May 28, 2008


One can only hope that's an Airsoft gun
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:06 AM on May 28, 2008


This couldn't be a real gun. What are the odds? 20:1?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:08 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kids would always point toy guns at each other and have a terrific time. Had they been white, no one would have even noticed.
posted by 0kjosef at 2:11 AM on May 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


So, did the Google Van call the cops, or play the part of the non-partial observer?
posted by TheCoug at 2:13 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kids would always point toy guns at each other and have a terrific time. Had they been white, no one would have even noticed.

Kids also point real guns at each other and have a terriffic time.

Ay ay Jaycee
Sup Aron?
Ain't that Snoop Dogg over there?
That that nigga with that blue coat on?
Yeah
Yeah oh yeah that's that nigga
Nigga roll up on the side of him man
Roll your window down
Man hand me my motherfuckin Glock man gimme another clip
Cuz I'm gonna smoke this fool
Yeah roll the windows down
Yeah, OK there you go
Ay man, you Snoop Dogg?
Snoop?
Huh?
Snoop Doggy Dogg?
Man he's Snoop Dogg
Man fuck that nigga!!

*gun shots*

posted by three blind mice at 2:18 AM on May 28, 2008


it's probably a squirt gun or something.


oh wait, they're black. HAS TO BE A GUN.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:22 AM on May 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yes, quoting some hip hop lyrics will definitely help this thread go well. Maybe you could link us to pictures of black men carrying food through the water in the Katrina aftermath, too.


There is absolutely no way to tell what's going on in this picture -- except whatever the guy's holding isn't the usual colour that a gun is, no one is particularly panicked in the previous few seconds (6442 S Oakley, south of 6436) or in the following few seconds (6430 S Oakley, north of 6436), where it's clear that there are a few people standing around. You can continue north from that location, look southward, to see how the drama unfolds. (Spoiler: no one is shot.)
posted by Super Hans at 2:29 AM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't assume it was a fake gun even if they were white. I dunno, that's just me. To be honest, I can't tell how old the person holding the gun is. He looks like he could be anywhere from 12 to in his 20s. When I first glanced he looked like an adult, so I think that probably has more to do with people thinking it's a real gun than the race. (Or maybe I'm just being optimistic?) If it looked to be very obviously a kid, I think people would probably think it's a toy gun regardless of the race.

A search on the crime in that zip code makes it sound plenty plausible that it's a real gun. From the linked page:

"Chicago (zip 60636), IL, violent crime, on a scale from 1 (low crime) to 10, is 8. Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The US average is 3."

I think it's a little weird to start calling people racist because they think it's a real gun.
posted by Nattie at 2:32 AM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just to clarify, I'm not saying it's actually a real gun. Obviously there's no way of knowing. I'm just saying the racism stuff is a bit much.
posted by Nattie at 2:34 AM on May 28, 2008


Dont all toy guns have those weird colors and orange tips now?

/also thinks it was a toy, but just speculating.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:34 AM on May 28, 2008


If I saw a google maps vehicle I would definately do something like this but since I am in England it would have to be either stabbing someone or puking.
posted by srboisvert at 2:39 AM on May 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


I guess maybe this is my inexperience with guns, but I attributed the white color to light glaring off the metal; there's even a glare off the railing or whatever in the background of the picture, nearby.

It could be a plastic gun with weird coloring, yeah. Is there an orange tip in the picture? I honestly can't see much since it's so blurry. Most toy guns I've seen have ridiculous colors like bright blue or orange or red, but I have seen white ones, black ones, dark green ones, and lots that just look like regular guns.
posted by Nattie at 2:40 AM on May 28, 2008


photoshopped?
posted by mary8nne at 2:41 AM on May 28, 2008


photoshopped?
posted by mary8nne at 5:41 AM on May 28 [+] [!]

That's what I first thought.
posted by dazed_one at 2:55 AM on May 28, 2008


previous few seconds (6442 S Oakley, south of 6436)

Unless the van is reversing, 6442 is a few seconds after 6436. From this we can see the "gunman's" target (just a kid) walking away from him and in the next two shots, walking towards him. Others walk right by him.

Detective SKSP remains unconvinced of heinous crime.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 3:00 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Water pistol? Toy gun? Three-musketeers bar? Who cares?
posted by telstar at 3:09 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pretty soon we'll be seeing UFO's, aliens, Elvis, and Jesus in bad resolution photos from Google....

Can I buy this picture on eBay yet?
posted by HuronBob at 3:52 AM on May 28, 2008


It can't be for real. He's not holding it sideways.
posted by Flashman at 3:58 AM on May 28, 2008 [17 favorites]


So is there an internets equivalent of "Direct-to-video"? Cuz "Direct-to-Fark" is the vibe that I'm getting from this "OMG BLAK KIDZ WIF GUNS IN TEH GETTOS LULZ" experience.
posted by Avenger at 4:09 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The running kid has got something in his right hand the same light color as the object held in the standing kid's hand. I wonder if there was a stream of water in the original.
posted by hojoki at 4:24 AM on May 28, 2008


So, did the Google Van call the cops, or play the part of the non-partial observer?
why would you assume they noticed?

this could be a silver gun that just happens to look white on a crap camera because of the sunlight angle. this could be a plastic gun as well. no way to know.

chicagocrime.org, which is the place to check on crime for the city, suggests that zip code 60636 has not more than the usual crime for south side chicago. simple battery mostly. possible but I feel not inclined to make a call on whether it's likely.
posted by krautland at 4:24 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


OMG I'm moving to Chicago.


Nice title, btw.
posted by awesomebrad at 4:32 AM on May 28, 2008


What is truly shocking: Why is Google Streetview so goddamn boring?

I've seen this stupid toy gun image forever now. When I try and Google for exciting things on Streetview I get links to 100 websites with the same lame 10 images from 2007 (OMG the Google van was speeding... slightly).

I mean when you photograph every yard of every big city in America from every angle... don't you think there should be some AMAZING finds? Like blowjob orgy on the sidewalk amazing. A celebrity murder in some window? Half-naked cheer leaders dressed like Super Mario Brothers? Shit, I don't know... a tornado? Escaped giraffe on the highway?

Where are the awesome Streetview images??
posted by dgaicun at 5:06 AM on May 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


[shrugs] Looks like a hair dryer to me. You know black people... always gettin' crazy with the Conair!
posted by not_on_display at 5:10 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Could someone smarter than me put Micahel Beck in context for this? From what I briefly clicked about he is a writer with a miniblog.
posted by cavalier at 5:17 AM on May 28, 2008


Anyway to put a time and date to those photos? Gas was at $3.29 a couple blocks away.
posted by jwells at 5:39 AM on May 28, 2008


I think we should just ban kids, that way we are sure to not end up with kids WITH guns.
posted by Vindaloo at 5:42 AM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


This post and thread shows how much race is still the elephant in the room, at least in America, and I think it is sad. The skin color or ethnic origin of the people in the picture is really irrelevant as to whether the gun looks real or the scene looks real. Whether one feels it is or isn't real should not be used as a litmus test on whether or not they may have racist tendencies. Beck is clearly recognizing the tendency of people to yell "RACIST" by the way he words his Twitter comment: "Ok, my eyes must be deceiving me. That can't be someone aiming a gun at someone else on Google Maps Street View." I wonder how many edits he went through until he could wash anything that could even be construed as possibly racist out of his comments.

The picture appears to show what it appears to show. The reality of the scene is beyond our ability to ascertain, but the likelihood is that it was what it appears (alternative interpretations not withstanding). The picture would be every bit as jarring if it contained people with white or yellow or red skin. Deal with it.

I'm an idealist, but I think that people who see racism everywhere are only-slightly-less evil twins of the racists.
posted by spock at 5:51 AM on May 28, 2008 [9 favorites]


Come on you racists, there is no gun. He's clearly trying to give the kid a sack of drugs.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:52 AM on May 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Where are the awesome Streetview images??

Pulled by Google pending updated (as in boring) imagery?
posted by public at 5:56 AM on May 28, 2008


Where are the awesome Streetview images??
posted by dgaicun at 8:06 AM on May 28 [1 favorite +] [!]


Heh. To quote poet John Berryman, "Life, friends, is boring." I mean, do you think the world is a huge reality tv show or something?
posted by aught at 6:04 AM on May 28, 2008


Sadly, that picture would be enough to get him thrown in an American "Freedom Camp" for 5 years without any outside contact anywhere else in the world, and billed as a terrorist by the US govt'.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:06 AM on May 28, 2008


This post and thread shows how much race is still the elephant in the room, at least in America, and I think it is sad. The skin color or ethnic origin of the people in the picture is really irrelevant as to whether the gun looks real or the scene looks real.

What looks real is what is real. We are bombarded by images, music, and popular culture that more often than not puts a black man behind the trigger.

But it can't be racism if Snoop Dogg says it, right?

I'm an idealist, but I think that people who see racism everywhere are only-slightly-less evil twins of the racists.

No, you're white. The fact of the matter is that race is an elephant in white living rooms, but blacks live with it everyday. People who do not see racism everywhere are not looking.
posted by three blind mice at 6:10 AM on May 28, 2008 [11 favorites]


It looks like two kids messing around to me. I'm inclined to agree with some of the comments about racism--make the pair blonde and dressed more "white" and I think people would find the picture a lot less threatening.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:23 AM on May 28, 2008


The fact of the matter is that race is an elephant in white living rooms, but blacks live with it everyday.

I have to admit, it's kind of odd having an elephant that sits in my living room. Most of the time I'm just trying to play Super Paper Mario or watch Sportscenter or something on TV, and that damn thing is always lumbering around in the way. I try to ignore it, I swear! But it stinks like hell, man, you have no idea. I'm watching some commercial or a music video and here it comes, crapping dancing, grinning folks and hypermasculine musclebound mean mugging guys on my coffee table yet again. It always cracks me up when people say it's not really a big deal anymore. Well you try walking through a department store with this thing. Guess who gets followed?

I wish I could get rid of it. Lord knows I've learned to live with it even though I never asked for it, but come the hell on. Who wants to wake up to trumpeting sirens or hear about people in New York or Philadelphia who got trampled by theirs? Who wants to try to browse the internet a few minutes before work and have that big sweaty mess rear its head yet again? I mean I try to look past it, but it really stinks and it is cumbersome as hell. I wish somebody would please come get this thing. I didn't ask for it, and I don't want it.

Anyway, that looks like a weapon to me and may very well be. But it's hard to focus on it much when you go to sit on your couch and there's a tusk up your ass. When this thing is out of my life, then maybe we can have a nice civil discussion about this whole situation.
posted by cashman at 6:37 AM on May 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


That's obviously a young Omar relieving the other kid of his bag of rocks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:45 AM on May 28, 2008


Why did you post this? It's a word-for-word copy of your twitter link, which served only to point to the same photo you posted. Who the hell is Michael Beck? Would this be more worthwhile if I knew who he was? Pretty thin post, overall.
posted by boo_radley at 6:55 AM on May 28, 2008


This post and thread shows how much race is still the elephant in the room

bullshit. those are two kids and a gun. OP made no reference to their race and I didn't think anything of it either. the point here is a gun, not the race of the individuals. you made it about race only to have a chance to profess your sadness about it. that's white guilt.
posted by krautland at 6:55 AM on May 28, 2008


Im sick of the knee-jerk "racism" call-outs. Chicago has a crime problem and the amount of people shot this spring should make us worry, not bury our heads. Its not so far fetched that google did manage to catch someone pointing a gun at someone on Chicago's south side. Guns get pulled pretty often, people get shot less often. Seems likely.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:07 AM on May 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


If the man in the picture was white, would there be calls of racism?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:08 AM on May 28, 2008


This image was originally reported May 18 on StreetViewFun. Lots of other amusing StreetView finds there.
posted by Nelson at 7:11 AM on May 28, 2008


Also: last weekend.

At a better board the conversation would be about guns, crime, and safety. Here is all racist call outs. Shame really.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:11 AM on May 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


I wish I could get rid of it. Lord knows I've learned to live with it even though I never asked for it, but come the hell on.

You know this is what Obama was touching on in his speech on race. White people don't get it. They think that because the 1964 Civil Rights Act and some years of Affirmative Action and two negros on the Supreme Court that racism doesn't exist anymore and black
people should just get over it.

Problem is, cashman, the worst part about it, is that us white folk don't get it and we don't want to get it. We don't want to get rid of our elephant. Deep down, we love our elephant because he makes us feel better about ourselves.
posted by three blind mice at 7:11 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also: memorial day.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:12 AM on May 28, 2008


@krautland:

"White guilt"! Ooo, good one!

Y'see, if you are white and/or male and you are aware of the historical and systemic racial and/or gender inequities that persist in our culture, and understand that they are problems that our society has not yet fully worked through, this is a handy phrase to have on hand if you want trivialize those problems and pretend that they are not real.

Nevermind that no guilt is actually involved.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:14 AM on May 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


What ShawnStuck said. In spades.
posted by three blind mice at 7:16 AM on May 28, 2008


I don't know if it makes someone racist or not to think otherwise (maybe you could argue it makes them biased, but that's a different problem), but to me it just looks like a couple of kids playing with water pistols or playing cops and robbers with toy guns. It's hard for me to imagine seeing it any other way. But then, people just see things how they're gonna see 'em, I suppose. If you could get a Google street view of the white-bread neighborhood I mostly grew up in (Bayou George, Florida) you'd see scenes just like this playing out pretty much every day of the week (only the kids would have been white and, in a couple of cases, obviously inbred). Oh, and the gun would have looked a lot more real. Kids in the deep south don't settle for fake-looking guns, and they're are still plenty of flea markets and other sources where you can get the kind without the orange tips (and even if you're stuck with one of those, it's not that hard to ply off the orange tip).
posted by saulgoodman at 7:25 AM on May 28, 2008


Pretty thin post, overall.

I disagree.
posted by caddis at 7:45 AM on May 28, 2008


Maybe this picture is like that spinning woman optical illusion: If you stare at it just right for long enough, your visual perspective undergoes a realignment and the menacing ghetto thug caught in the act of committing a violent crime turns into a harmless adolescent child playing an innocent game. Or vice versa.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:53 AM on May 28, 2008


^dgaicun : Where are the awesome Streetview images??

Here and here sometimes have good'uns.
posted by not_on_display at 7:54 AM on May 28, 2008


At 6400 S Oakley, it most definitely could be one kid pointing a gun at another. Whether it was a threat, or posturing, or two kids who actually like each other and are goofing off, there is no way to know from this image.

The larger issue of Google taking, posting and storing pictures of people and our lives everywhere is one I wish people would think about more critically. It distresses me in ways I find very difficult to articulate. I am reminded of pictures of graffiti proclaiming "One Nation Under CCTV" which a friend of mine took recently on a visit to the UK. I hate this idea that just because you happen to be in public when Google rolls by taking pictures, there's nothing wrong with you being the person whom everyone sees always when they look up that block on the internet. It's disturbing.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:57 AM on May 28, 2008


shawnstuck: and pretend that they are not real.

bullshit. you tried to make something that's just not about race out to be about race. you tried to force the issue. the problem here is your attitude towards race, not the race of the people in that picture. the OP did not bring that up, the author did not bring that up. you just came out and accused everyone else of being latent racists. the person who seems to have race issues on his mind is you.

Nevermind that no guilt is actually involved.
yeah, riiiiiiiiight.
posted by krautland at 7:58 AM on May 28, 2008


crush-onastick:

On that note...
posted by the other side at 8:02 AM on May 28, 2008


At 6400 S Oakley, it most definitely could be one kid pointing a gun at another. Whether it was a threat, or posturing, or two kids who actually like each other and are goofing off, there is no way to know from this image.

Just so it's clear, it most definitely could be two kids playing cops and robbers, too. Or a kid playfully harassing his pal/little brother with a water pistol. If what crush-onastick said doesn't need to go without saying, as they say, then neither does this second, equally likely possibility (in my opinion, the second possibility is far more likely, especially given the casual way the 'targeted' kid is retreating from the other kid with the 'gun'--but then we love our high-drama, don't we?).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:05 AM on May 28, 2008


It looks pretty gunny to me.
posted by cashman at 8:06 AM on May 28, 2008


Well, since I have no idea what else you point at someone that way, and since it really does look like a gun, I feel very safe in saying...it's a gun. It may be a squirt gun; the image may be photoshopped. My guess is it's the second one.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:09 AM on May 28, 2008


It looks to me like he's simply offering to loan the child a combination square for a woodworking project. The child is raising his hand as if to say, "No thanks, I've already got one. It's here in my tool belt, which you can't see because of my long shirt." This sort of exchange, from what I understand, is common in this part of Chicago. However, I don't think it's more common in this particular neighborhood than in other South Side neighborhoods. Anyhow, there are lots of woodworking projects around here--mostly boarding up windows at crack houses, I believe.

Also, this thread is ridiculous. If I were to flip a coin and poll everyone here on what each thought was the result of the flip, I bet half would say, "Well, it was likely heads," while the other half would protest, "You're just saying that because George Washington was white!"
posted by dsword at 8:12 AM on May 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


the likelihood is that it was what it appears (alternative interpretations not withstanding).

That doesn't even make sense. I completely agree with saulgoodman: "it just looks like a couple of kids playing with water pistols or playing cops and robbers with toy guns." I guess if you watch enough violent TV and movies and play enough Grand Theft Auto you lose your perspective on real life. I've been in actual "ghettos" and guess what? There aren't people pulling guns on every street corner! Life goes on pretty much like everywhere else! An increased rate of violence does not translate into shootouts everywhere.
posted by languagehat at 8:13 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


+2 west wing reference.
posted by jeversol at 8:15 AM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's no cache for google maps? I want to zoom in.
posted by cashman at 8:16 AM on May 28, 2008


Few notes on this thread:

Either it's two kids playing or one has a gun and is pointing it at the other one for shits and giggles. From the crime reports from the neighborhood I would say it is most than likely (over60%) it was the latter. There is no racism in that statement. It is fact. Crime stats back it up. Then again (40%) says it's just two kids playing around, I heard they still do that. Secondly, all out aggressive racism does not exist in the majority of the population. Pseudo racism does however. Everyone has let the N-bomb slip every now and then. Does it make them the worst thing ever? No... It should be taken on a case by case basis before the fists come flying. If a black youth is terrorizing local kids with a gun then maybe the name fits. However if it's just two kids playing then go wash your mouth out, now. Thirdly, Black elephant in a white living room???? Come on, comments like this is why nothing ever changes. These reverse racism statements just lead to more confusion. Here it is... I am going to bridge the gap..... MOST WHITE PEOPLE ARE NOT RACIST! They are only confused and do not understand the cultural differences. In my experiences, when I have tried to understand and learn I have gotten some nasty looks like I was an outsider and that I have NO RIGHT to try and learn. Lastly, here is a tidbit of helpful information for all of you, I have noticed in forums, and games that it is cool to say the n-word whenever and wherever when no one can identify who you are. For that all I have to say is think of a black person who you know and admire. Now think about someone called them that name. Yeah kinda hits closer to home. Also if you don't know a black person who you admire look up Dr. MLK. And finally (I promise) this rant is almost over, if one ignorant person says something to you, shake it off. They obviously are stupid and not worth the effort.

God Bless
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:17 AM on May 28, 2008


saulgoodman: by "two kids who actually like each other and are goofing off," I did not mean "two kids and a water pistol". I meant at "6400 S Oakley, two kids goofing off with an actual firearm is certainly a possibility." Anyone who insists it's unlikely that children on the south side of Chicago have that casual a relationship with firearms is completely out of touch.

Saying that people in those neighborhoods of Chicago routinely encounter guns, crime, violence, drugs et cetera does not mean that two (black) boys with a gun are "OHMYGOD dangerous GANG MEMBERS like everyone else in their neighborhood". It simply points out a depressing brutal reality of particular neighborhoods in the city I love with every beat of my heart. In the very brief four years I worked with juvenile offenders in the Cook County criminal courts, I never met a kid south of 51st street (whether a defendant, a witness, a neighbor, or a kid just doing a tour of the courthouse) who hadn't heard gunfire, seen another kid with a gun, picked up a shell casing, seen a shooting or known someone who got shot. It's horrifying.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:19 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thirdly, Black elephant in a white living room???? Come on, comments like this is why nothing ever changes. These reverse racism statements just lead to more confusion.

Shh! You're making the elephant mad. I have no idea what you're rambling on about, but please read the jokey tone I made my comment in. It looks like a guy pointing a gun in the direction of a kid, for whatever reason.

I think the OMG, CAN IT BE?! presentation is what set this in the wrong direction in the first place. It's modern day life - crime exists. There are shows on your television set every single day that have crimes "caught on tape". This one was caught on film. Whoopie.

It's not racist to point it out. But it's kind of suspect to point it out like it's some kind of aberrant situation, like we were all just dancing around the garden in peace and omgwtfbbq, a guy has a gun out.

"oh my eyes must be deceiving me" - what is that shit? Who are you, Beaudelaire?
posted by cashman at 8:28 AM on May 28, 2008


Man, I hated it when we weren't allowed to play with toy guns anymore after some black kid with a Lasertag pistol got shot by the cops a couple blocks down.
posted by klangklangston at 8:29 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"reverse racism"?

What does that even mean?
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:39 AM on May 28, 2008


Near as I can tell, I think its when you hate yourself because you are/aren't of a certain race. Damnit, why can't I be (insert race here) like all the cool kids?!?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:56 AM on May 28, 2008


Sorry to keep disagreeing, but I just have to disagree that this looks anything at all like a kid with a real gun. Cite neighborhood crime statistics and the brutal realities all you want (which, btw, makes you come off as someone with very little first-hand experience with real brutal realities), but I can't argue with my own eyes and my eyes very clearly tell me these are just two kids playing with toy guns. That's what kids playing with toy guns look like, if you've ever seen them. It happens. Even in rough neighborhoods, kids still play. And for obvious reasons, cops and robbers is likely to be a neighborhood favorite.

It might come as a shock to you to learn that Native American kids have also been known to play Cowboys and Indians (my step-cousins and I played it once at a family reunion. It was so cool--I got to be the "Indian"!).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:59 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Why did you post this? It's a word-for-word copy of your twitter link, which served only to point to the same photo you posted. Who the hell is Michael Beck? Would this be more worthwhile if I knew who he was? Pretty thin post, overall."

Against my better judgement...

Why did you post this?
Because it's the first unusual thing I've come out of Google Street View. Turns out there are others, as has emerged from the comments. Sometimes I like to post small, simple things.

It's a word-for-word copy of your twitter link, which served only to point to the same photo you posted
No. I quoted the Twitter link, and linked to it by way of attribution. A via without the "via" if you like. I borrowed the text because I wished to post the link without adding any comment or slant of my own, since that usually influences the direction of the subsequent discussion for better or worse. Usually the latter. The text conveys the content of the picture, and its unusualness. It fits.

Who the hell is Michael Beck?
Why, he's Web2.0's Average Joe! (I have no idea).

Would this be more worthwhile if I knew who he was?
Almost certainly not.

Pretty thin post, overall.
Agreed. Thin. Quick. Simple. Or so I thought until I saw the resulting conversation, which I've found very interesting. Certainly not a great post, I agree. I hate to bring out the tedious "if you don't like it..." argument, but others have a view to add, or have responded positively. Unless feedback is overwhelmingly negative: meh. There is a tradition of linking to quite simple, light posts related to web-tech, that I'm sure I'm absolutely failing to conform to here, but it probably won't stop me trying.
posted by nthdegx at 8:59 AM on May 28, 2008


Everyone has let the N-bomb slip every now and then.

Not true, and sweeping generalities are part of the problem. I have never used that word, and I doubt that I am the only person in the world. But then again, I never heard it said in my house growing up. The only relative I ever heard use it was course in other ways and not exactly looked up to as a role model. My kids have never heard the word in my home either, unless it was in their "entertainment/music" and I've never heard one of them use it. That doesn't (by itself) prove that my household is Racism Free, of course, but I tend to believe that if a word isn't in your heart it is probably less likely to come out of your mouth.
posted by spock at 9:13 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyway to put a time and date to those photos?

I was able to roughly date the Street View photos of my neighborhood with stuff like:

"The fence a couple blocks away is still intact"
"The guy down the block had not run his van into his garage doors and knocked all the bricks off the facade"
"The house down the street still appears to have some Christmas decorations up"

It ended up being a late December evening judging by the sun and shadows.
posted by mrbill at 9:20 AM on May 28, 2008


I can't say that race has nothing to do with my perception, but look at the posture and position of the kids.

* The kid on the right isn't just pointing a gun, he's looking down the sight.
* A squirt pistol is accurate to about 2 feet. These kids are probably 15 feet apart.
* The kid on the right isn't ducked behind the car, or in any way "mimicking" cops and robbers. His posture is "person with gun threatening person without gun."

Not that it isn't a fake gun and/or playacting, but some of the explanations floated here don't pass even the most cursory scrutiny.
posted by bjrubble at 9:26 AM on May 28, 2008


I wish I were more articulate.

I have absolutely no difficulty believing that that a boy in that neighborhood would be casually holding a real firearm on a street corner in broad daylight.

This is what I do not know:
--that the firearm is loaded
--that the firearm is functional
--that the firearm belongs to either boy
--that the Armed Boy is aiming at the Unarmed Boy
--that the Armed Boy intends to harm the Unarmed Boy
--that the Armed Boy intends to harm someone other than the Unarmed Boy
--that the Armed Boy intends to harm anyone at all
--that the boys are not playing a game
--that the Armed Boy is not engaging in adolescent swagger and posturing
--that the Armed Boy is not reacting to something out of frame (either in time or space)

Or many many other things about the split-second of time captured in this photograph.

If the boys were in an apple grove, and the boy were biting something red and vaguely round, we would assume it was an apple, not a plastic apple-facsimile. Chicago--particularly those neighborhoods--has a serious problem with firearms. I believe that is a real firearm.

I do not believe that boy is about to murder the other, or even shoot at him. This image--and my experience--does not lead me to that assumption. It leads me only as far as the thought that that is a firearm. I hope it's a game. I hope it's adolescent stupidity. There are--I think--many plausible answers to the question "what is going on here?", some of which are not criminal[fn1]. Those conclusions require much more information than this picture gives us. My experience tells me that several stories which have nothing to do with Armed Boy perpetrating Heinous Crime against Unarmed Boy are quite likely. Still, I believe that in those likely stories, the firearm is real, not a plastic firearm-facsimile. Were this a shot of my neighborhood, at 3600 North, I would still think it a real firearm. That it's 6400 South makes me surprised that people would think it's not.

I still think the larger issue is one nation under surveillance. I don't happen to think that just because it's the cool silicon valley company surveying that it is any less chilling. But that is my soapbox.

==========
[fn1] Actually, I can't think of any explanations that aren't criminal because it's highly unlikely the kid in question is not breaking one of our myriad firearms laws. For one thing, he's very near an elementary school. But I don't assume this is a crime against the person of Unarmed Boy perpetrated by Armed Boy. I need more information to reach that conclusions.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:42 AM on May 28, 2008


when I say "larger issue" I do not mean with society in general, I mean with Google Street View. Clearly, gun violence is worse. See what I said above about lacking in the articulate department.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:45 AM on May 28, 2008


bjrubble: Have you ever played with toy guns of any variety yourself (bb guns, plastic pellet guns, high-powered water pistols, plain-old-fashioned cap guns, non-functional replicas)? Your comment strongly suggests you haven't, but I'm curious.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:46 AM on May 28, 2008


i just hope none of the people commenting in this thread ever decide to become cops, that's the last thing i'll say about it.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:48 AM on May 28, 2008


ShawnStruck,

Reverse racism is where instead of hating a person based on their color you love them based on their color. Therefore, if I, as a white man love another white person based on their color, I am practicing reverse racism. If, however, I hate a black person based on their color, I am practicing racism.
posted by robtf3 at 10:18 AM on May 28, 2008


Reverse Racism is discrimination against Revers. Duh. Anybody in the Gorram verse coulda told you that.
posted by cashman at 10:20 AM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


"In the very brief four years I worked with juvenile offenders in the Cook County criminal courts, I never met a kid south of 51st street (whether a defendant, a witness, a neighbor, or a kid just doing a tour of the courthouse) who hadn't heard gunfire, seen another kid with a gun, picked up a shell casing, seen a shooting or known someone who got shot. It's horrifying."

Horrifying it may be, but it doesn't support your point. You're starting with a biased population by involving the criminal justice system in most of the sample, and you're including a broad range of questions that overly-predict a "Yes" answer. I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood that, despite being low-income, had a pretty low crime rate. I've heard gunfire—it was a regular occurrence on New Years Eve and July 4. That doesn't mean that I played with guns. Likewise, I knew a kid who got shot (and there's a funny story there), but that doesn't mean that he had guns in public. Further, if you took a survey of rural kids, you could say the same thing—most have heard gunfire, seen a kid with a gun, picked up a shell casing or known someone involved with a shooting.

Finally, I can guarantee that every single kid you dealt with had also either used a squirt gun or seen a squirt gun or heard a squirt gun used. Noting that squirt guns are a dollar and guns are at least $50 (and more, generally, for a decent pistol), the assumption should start at a squirt gun or toy gun and need evidence to disprove that.

So, no, you're making a foolish argument.

"If the boys were in an apple grove, and the boy were biting something red and vaguely round, we would assume it was an apple, not a plastic apple-facsimile. Chicago--particularly those neighborhoods--has a serious problem with firearms. I believe that is a real firearm."

All cats die. Socrates is dead. Socrates was a cat. QED.

C'mon—your earlier statements indicated that you had at least some law school. Don't they teach you to recognize syllogisms? That you have no problem believing something is not proof of it, especially after you've proven yourself unable to parse probability.

"Not that it isn't a fake gun and/or playacting, but some of the explanations floated here don't pass even the most cursory scrutiny."

Bullshit for two reasons—first off, you hold a pistol-shaped squirt gun the same way that you hold a regular gun (or rather, the way that you've seen regular guns held in movies and television). Second, you obviously have no experience with squirt guns.

At least you admitted that you were likely biased by race right off the bat.
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 AM on May 28, 2008


with a photograph that poorly exposed, what's in his hand could be almost anything. that he is pointing it like a gun implies it's rather a gun-like thing, but who knows. what I do know is this, the people saying "they're probably just playing with water guns" are probably pretty old. have you guys tried buying a water pistol recently? they don't look like that, anymore - even in a photo that poorly exposed.

according to wikipedia:

In the U.S. and Canada, for several years, import regulations and domestic laws have required squirt guns to be made of clear or tinted transparent plastic.[citation needed] This is to make them harder to mistake for actual firearms.

note the "citation needed" though. for what it's worth (admittedly not much), I remember realistic toy guns of any kind disappearing from store shelves some time during my adolescence, and being told that it's not legal to sell them any more.
posted by shmegegge at 11:05 AM on May 28, 2008


In the U.S. and Canada, for several years, import regulations and domestic laws have required squirt guns to be made of clear or tinted transparent plastic.[citation needed] This is to make them harder to mistake for actual firearms.

Clear plastic could easily look like that if the sun were reflecting off its surface.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:29 AM on May 28, 2008


Clear plastic could easily look like that if the sun were reflecting off its surface.

I'm inclined to disagree, but it's not like I could prove it. Frankly, I'm not inclined to believe it's a gun. something about the way it bends in his hand seems wrong to me. further, anything shiny that would gleam white because of sun glare in the photo would have some kind of fuzzed out distortion a la the metal fence post immediately behind the boy in the photo. again, who know for sure, but if someone were to tell me it was a conveniently shaped rock (which my own memories tell me kids are likely to find and pick up simply because of the convenient shape), tree branch, folded paper or something like that I'd be far more likely to believe it over either a gun OR a water gun. something with a dull sheen to it rather than a gloss or reflective quality.

but I'm no forensic specialist. also, if someone would let me know who I can accuse of racism I'd appreciate it.
posted by shmegegge at 11:48 AM on May 28, 2008


"note the "citation needed" though. for what it's worth (admittedly not much), I remember realistic toy guns of any kind disappearing from store shelves some time during my adolescence, and being told that it's not legal to sell them any more."

I can buy silver or black cap pistols, as well as a wide variety of water pistols, at my local dollar store. The "realistic" toy guns disappeared from the better toy stores (especially dedicated toy stores), but are still widely available.

Further, as kids, we'd often wrap our squirt guns in masking tape or electrical tape (especially if they leaked), so that they'd look more like real guns.
posted by klangklangston at 11:55 AM on May 28, 2008


that's fascinating, but I'm really here to accuse someone of racism, so let's stay on topic.
posted by shmegegge at 12:03 PM on May 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Slightly different view, and i'm not as sure that it's a gun, though that would still be my guess.

Surely somebody zoomed in, in one of these pictures, somewhere.
posted by cashman at 12:14 PM on May 28, 2008


Pretty much.
posted by cavalier at 12:17 PM on May 28, 2008


There's no cache for google maps? I want to zoom in.

Who will cache the cachers?
posted by enn at 12:24 PM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


For my part, I don't know if I see any racism, shmegegge, but there definitely seems to be a tendency toward assuming the worst about kids on display in this thread (not to mention, I'm surprised by the staggeringly high percentage of commenters who apparently only liked playing with dolls when they were little)...
posted by saulgoodman at 12:29 PM on May 28, 2008


I call viral.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:41 PM on May 28, 2008


bjrubble: Have you ever played with toy guns of any variety yourself

I played with guns (cap guns, those machine guns that make the rattle sound, squirt guns, etc.) all through my childhood, though my parents would only allow "non-realistic" toy guns (a wise choice, considering cops and kids with toy guns). I loved 'em. Disc guns too.

I must agree with bjrubble. It looks like a real gun and that the owner of it is using it to scare the little kid away (which obviously worked, as the kid is jogging away).

It was mostly the things that bjrubble noted that made me think that it was real. If I were the one shooting the squirt/toy gun, I wouldn't be standing square holding it out like that. I'd be crouched down behind the car (sneak attack) or running after him.

And there's just something odd about the way the other kid is moving away--not running full-speed with his back to the other guy, as if he wants to keep an eye on him. Also, of course, the little kid has no visible weapon, toy or not.

However, times have changed and certainly cops and robbers has too. Sure, it most certainly could be a toy gun. It's probably just as likely. However, if I were *forced* to bet my life savings one way or another, I'd bet real. I dunno. It's a tough call.

Another factor is the apparent age difference between the two. The kid moving away is pretty short. Sure, it could be a midget/dwarf, but I'm guessing 9-10 years old. The guy with the gun is much older, I'd guess 16-18. Would kids those ages be playing cops and robbers together? Maybe, if siblings...

The big argument for toy gun is the color. It looks awfully white, but the whole pic is pretty blown out, so I still vote real. Also, the age of the kid holding it. He seems too young to have a real gun.

What does it matter anyway? I swear to Satan that you'll never have to worry about me being a cop.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:38 PM on May 28, 2008


Slightly different view, and i'm not as sure that it's a gun, though that would still be my guess.

After zooming in, noting the vase like shape of the barrel and the longish translucent stem extending through the bottom of his hand at a 90 degree angle from the barrel, I'm pretty certain that that's a crack pipe being held like a gun, which may make it the coolest thing a kid has ever done or the saddest.
posted by bunnytricks at 1:44 PM on May 28, 2008


I think there's a substantial chance that the kids in this picture saw the van coming, and staged the scene as a joke.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:31 PM on May 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


The color really doesn't seem to mean anything. The black railing the background is shining white. The dark parts of the car are shining white.

I grew up in the suburbs and I had enough real guns pulled on me. One of my best friends started selling drugs in the 5th grade and my other best friend lost his virginity by going to a teenage prostitute. We were all white. Thinking that the gun in that picture is real doesn't have to just be shaped by experiences with race. That the fourth post in this thread jumps straight to that is a bit weird.

Yeah, could have been an Airsoft gun, a loaded gun, an unloaded gun, or a drug store toy. It does look like he's trying to scare the other kid off though.
posted by False Jesii Inc. at 2:47 PM on May 28, 2008


I think there's a substantial chance that the kids in this picture saw the van coming, and staged the scene as a joke.

I don't think so. The one with the [gun] has his back to the van as it drives up in every photo. The two remain engaged once the van has passed. I think they would look at the van after it went by if they had been staging the scene.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:53 PM on May 28, 2008


Just today I heard someone suggest a campaign to flash the google street van with large banners of goatse.
posted by mubba at 6:48 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


not_on_display said "^dgaicun : Where are the awesome Streetview images??

Here and here sometimes have good'uns."


Also here.

So F.U.
posted by loiseau at 8:50 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


FWIW:

About 15 years ago, a man tried to hold me up with a blowdryer in downtown Ottawa. He appeared to be a shell-shocked survivor of an African war or genocide, so I cut him some slack and just kept walking. (That seems stupid now, but I was pretty young and new to city life. And I was scared to death and just wanted to get away from that corner.)

Last month, an 18-month-old boy walked into my local urban park and went "bang, bang, bang!" at the other kids with his totally black "toy" handgun. It didn't have an orange tip. We've had orange tips in Canada for so long that I never even knew you could buy any other kind. A parental altercation ensued.
posted by acoutu at 9:32 PM on May 28, 2008


I normally steer from the plate o' bean threads, but really this is fucking insane. My first thought when I saw that picture was "Man, I hope that's not a real gun." If it would have been two white kids, or any other ethnicity, my first thought would have been... "Man, I hope that's not a real gun." I don't care if Jesus himself was holding it, it would still look like a gun.

Frankly, the shrill cries of racism hurled at the drop of a hat by privileged whites against other privileged whites is kind of creepy. As if all the other races are defenseless children that need your protection. It's condescending. It's bad theater.

Yes, racism is still a very real problem in America. Yes, nonwhites still face challenges brought about by systematic racism. These are very real problems. No, you shrieking "racist" at the top of your lungs for completely unsubstantial reasons doesn't magically abscond you of blame. It doesn't even further discourse- hell, if it did that, it'd at least be doing something.
posted by kryptondog at 9:33 AM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I normally steer from the plate o' bean threads, but really this is fucking insane. My first thought when I saw that picture was "Man, I hope that's not a real gun." If it would have been two white kids, or any other ethnicity, my first thought would have been... "Man, I hope that's not a real gun." I don't care if Jesus himself was holding it, it would still look like a gun.

This comment prompted me to go back and do a little fact checking on the direction this thread has taken on the race issue--a little MetaFilter, meta-analysis, if you will. (If we're going to over-think this plate of beans, we might as well do a good and thorough job of over-thinking our own over-thinking about it too, right?)

Here's what I found:

• By my count, roughly 5 comments prior to this one unequivocally attributed some form of racism or racial bias to the reactions of those photo viewers who were alarmed by the photo and who felt highly-confident that a real gun of some kind was involved in the events captured in the photo.*

• By my further count, roughly 14 comments prior to this one offer complaints about the tone of comments in this thread that attribute some form of racism or racial bias to the reactions of those same photo viewers.

That's a ratio of almost 3:1. So if you consider the whole issue of race just so much noise in this discussion, that means those commenters reacting to specific charges of racism and racial bias have actually generated three times as much noise on the subject as those who originally raised the matter of racial bias in this thread.

*Note: I didn't include ambiguous, snarky comments that seemed to address the race issue primarily to score points for cleverness in my tally. I also excluded one candidate comment from klangklangston, in which he acknowledges bjrubble's admission of possibly having a racially biased reaction to the photo, since klang didn't originally make any specific charge of racism or racial bias himself. I also didn't include comments like this one, that may have been construed as insinuating racism, but which were too inscrutably ironic to parse. I also didn't include comments like this one from Avenger, because it seemed to be more generally concerned with the low-quality of the original FPP than with the question of racial bias' role in people's reactions.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:09 PM on May 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


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