Via the Daily Caller, I cannot believe that not only is this moronic issue a minor media preoccupation as an American city burns but that the first black president is actually being concern-trolled about racial insensitivity for daring to use the word “thugs” to describe people throwing bricks at cops’ heads. I get the basic point — the word “thug” did seem to bubble up curiously quickly on social media, I remember, when black, dreadlocked Stanford grad Richard Sherman gave his famous post-game interview after the NFC Championship a few years ago. “Thug” is an awfully strong word to choose as a synonym for “unsportsmanlike,” especially in the context of mere rhetoric. As a synonym for people who light cars on fire and loot the local CVS, though? Not so much.

Or is it?

Via Gabe Malor, among the less reported acts of “misguidedness” on Monday night was someone sneaking into a local fire station while the firefighters were out answering alarms and slashing the tires of their cars, an obvious act of protest against … firefighter brutality, I guess? Just don’t use the T-word to describe something like that; watch the second clip below to see what might happen if you do.

There are three things driving the stupidity over “thug” this week, I think. One, obviously, is that it’s a useful bludgeon against people who’ve criticized the riots vehemently. It’s fine to disapprove, but disapproval to the point where you’re calling people tearing apart a police car “thuggish”? That’s just close enough to racist to put critics on the defensive. Another is that it’s a simple angle in a complex story with plenty of more complicated elements to it. How did Freddie Gray die? Just how brutal is Baltimore PD? Are the feds doing enough to help poor black neighborhoods in the city? What about social-conservative criticism that black impoverishment is due mainly to the breakdown of the family? Only one thing is clear, my friends: The word “thug” is bad. And finally, and most depressingly, I think there’s a tacit understanding on all sides that nothing much will change after all this apart from the DOJ appointing a blue-ribbon commission to issue a report or whatever. There’s no reform coming — but if we can get politicians and media types to stop using the word “thug,” well, that’s a little something at least. Surprised O didn’t want to concede even that much. But good for him for not backing down.