May 29, 2016

Black Masses

An email exchange with an upcoming roommate for my trip to Cali in June got me thinking about Holly Golightly, which naturally led to me rewatching Breakfast at Tiffany's. I had "rented" the film from Google Play and after the film was done, came across the offer for a discounted second movie -- 75% off my next rental! I got $50 in Play Store credits a few years ago as part of some Google promotion that I don't know remember, so none of my movie rentals cost me anything, for now, but 75% off is hard to argue with, though it does miff me a bit that it costs Google almost nothing to provide the film. What am I paying for, exactly? At least no one's paying anything.

Anyway, I ended up watching Black Mass, a recent film telling the story of Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger, a Boston mobman from the 60-70-80's.  He fled Boston when the feds came for him and spent decades on the FBI's most wanted list. He was arrested in Santa Monica in 2011.

Bulger got a name for his ruthlessness in tracking down and killing anyone that talked to the police. Which was ironic because he himself was on the rolls as an informant for the FBI.

He took out witnesses and leaks ruthlessly because witnesses were the lynchpin of the justice system. Freedom depended on your ability to keep the number of people willing to testify about you to zero.

But we're moving away from this sort of a thing. From relying on witnesses to make a case. Now we catch criminals at the moment of action -- the witness was not your friends, colleagues, or passers-by but the space itself -- the landscape watched you and heard you and stands as a witness to your deeds. Computer records are the proof that we have and need.  People putting people away will end, soon.

Now I wonder if Bulger would be able to amass such power, if he would have murdered so many people, if certain kinds of criminals have been largely irradicated -- the bloody, outwardly violent type.

And whether what will replace them is any less sinister.

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