21 July 2013

"George Zimmerman & Trayvon Martin" Rides Again: Looking for My Fair Share of the Sympathy & Grief; And How to Talk So Loud It Looks Like I’m Useful

Good God Almighty, the American press is shaking the Zimmerman/Martin story like a puppy shaking a stuffed animal that lost its stuffing.

Consider this an addendum to the post of 19 July 2013. If you haven’t read it yet, scroll down. I don’t mind waiting.

Okay, are we good go?

The Confuse-igentsia continues to pelt us with sincere yet utterly silly shit.

For the first entrant in the Head-Scratcher-of-the-Day, I ran into this in Bill O'Reilly’s  weekly Sunday newspaper column:

“I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to confront somebody who was doing something wrong in my presence. But I simply can’t. There are legions of sleazy lawyers lined up to attack the affluent in court.”

Okay, hell, Bill, take a few shots at lawyers, this is a free country and I revere that ‘ol First Amendment. But I certainly hope that the fear of getting sued is not what controls your impulse to avoid confrontations with people.

Confrontations, by their nature, are dangerous. Sometimes they’re only a little tiny bit dangerous. Sometimes they are big, bad and hairy dangerous. This is not to say that you should never get into a confrontation. Sometimes, it is necessary, and a moral imperative. But there are far more confrontations in the society than there are necessary confrontations and the real trick is telling the difference.

What marks the Zimmerman/Martin confrontation as unnecessary was the fact that one of the participants (Zimmerman) identified a potential danger several minutes in advance of the confrontation, was carrying the means to make that confrontation lethal (a pistol) and yet continued to seek out the confrontation.

The result? A dead kid.

There have been confrontations with 17-year-olds that ended in their death which were unavoidable. This wasn’t one of them.

O’Reilly’s attitude that he’s not willing to confront anyone because he’s afraid of getting sued is just a variation on the same theme which disconnects citizens from any responsibility for the state of our society. To paraphrase my friend Justice Richard Neely, people are too lazy, too scared and too stupid to confront crime and violence.

Incidentally, from reading lots of other stuff written by O’Reilly, I doubt that this quote in his column today was more than a little popping off.   I sincerely doubt that it represents an absence of los huevos for entering into the fray.

In the wave of massive rallies held on Saturday (and I’m not sure if that is irony or sarcasm) one common theme was the demand to the United States Department of Justice that they bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman. The mouth-in-gear-before-brain-engages voice of my current political party, the Rev. Al Sharpton, made the high-minded plea:

“We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again,” Sharpton said.

What a load of bullshit.

Rev. Al, if you think changing the law is going to make sure “that this never, ever happens again,” you’re out of your ecclesiastical mind. For approximately the entire history of Homo sapiens, the members of this species have been beating, clubbing, stabbing and shooting one another with various projectiles. Various informal and formal legal codes have been in effect for at least the last 2000 years and, if anything, the beating, clubbing, etc., has picked up.

But I think I do understand there is an underlying message we're getting from the Rev. and from lots of other folks – we don’t have the intelligence, the time or a long enough attention span to look at why there is so much violence around the world and why the methods of violence and levels of violence differ. So we declare that something is The Truth, try to change a law to comport with The Truth, and then go home secure in the little fantasy world that we’ve done something useful. There we will stay for a couple of weeks until we have a new epiphany about some New Truth.

Al, Jesus said to turn the other cheek, not to be stupid about it.

And a third class of indulgence being fed by the Zimmerman/Martin frenzy is a desire for a piece of the rock, wanting to feel that the pain and grief of a deceased's family is somehow personable to me, me, me, and I’ve personally been hurt and I personally deserve some sort of compensation or sympathy or attention, attention, attention because it’s personal to ME and now my opinions are worth more.

There are lots of examples of that. One is Rapper MC Lyte.   At one of the rallies, he remarked:
“When the verdict was read, I felt like we lost Trayvon Martin again.”

What is this “we” shit?  Did you know the guy before you read about him on the news?  (Sorry, heard about him on the news.)  Don’t you think there’s a little secondary gain going on if you are spreading your sincere sadness into a microphone?  

Oh, we all like to invest in grief.   It pays dividends a lot sooner than Bank of America. How often do you see on Facebook a post that goes something like “My best friend Joe’s mother died, and I’m just so upset about it.” To which replies roll in, “Oh, you poor dear, we are so sorry for your loss!”

How’s that again? In the overall sense, maybe Joe’s mom should be at the top of our concern list. If you’re looking strictly corporeally, let’s see what we can do for Joe. Why am I reminded of people who think they can get relief by telephone from the California Psychic Hotline?

I do not appreciate rap music.   Nor do I understand it.  There is an almost unvarying formula that when you react to something a rapper says, you go find his/her lyrics and point out that they are full of lots and lots of violent and antisocial stuff.  And they make liberal use of “the F Word.”

Oh, no they don’t, they just say “fuck” a lot.

Okay, I looked up MC Lyte, and he certainly provides a lot of snorting soundbites. On the whole, however, if I’m reading the free verse correctly, his stuff is way on the mild side so I’m not going to cherry pick the really bad stuff to try to make him out to be some sort of bad person.

He’s just another illogical person rolling in a very common human indulgence.

So what to do?

I have long been a friend  and supporter of Sen. Manchin.  (No, I don’t plan to attend any functions hosted by Mayor Bloomberg for the Senator. I’m sure the Mayor's family loves him, that’s about all I’m going to say about the guy.)

At least six months ago, Sen. Manchin proposed responding to the concerns of gun violence with a no-holds-barred examination of violence in America, a “National Commission on Violence.”  He reasoned, correctly, that looking at only the instruments of some violence won’t do a whole lot of good. That proposal seems to have dropped into the black hole of Washington, possibly because it lacks whine-potential and sex, and the results may not be consistent with all of our dearly held preconceptions.

So let me say that it’s time to move off of Zimmerman/Martin. The case is over. Continuing that particular discussion is waving the bloody shirt and crass political opportunism.  It is time to move to an honest discussion of everything that seems to be causing violence in America.

I would start with the only obvious conclusion: We could be doing a better job for each other.

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