Thursday, September 20, 2007

State of Confusion

Alright. I'm all about free speech. Seriously. Protests, pickets, boycotts, you name it. If it's for a proper cause, is handled appropriately, and above all, is done peacefully without a drop of violence, I'm a guaranteed supporter.

Union strikes at the newspaper? I've bought my last paper. (Seriously. I haven't purchased a newspaper in this town for years and years - the one and only exception is the one that comes out at Thanksgiving with all the salepapers in it.)

I've seen plenty of concerted activities where people band together for a common cause or belief, and many of them I've not necessarily agreed with or been much affected by. However, I'm a supporter.

But today's business going on in the south has me perplexed. Exactly why are people marching? Just to show their anger that racial inequality exists? Heck, I'm pissed off about that too, but it seems a vague and broad topic to be organizing thousands to follow around Al Sharpton for the day.

So being perplexed, I watched a bit of it on television. (At my parents' home, of course, as I still do not have a television plugged into an electrical outlet in my home.) Now it seems these people are marching because they perceive a difference in how the "law" was applied to either "side" in this case.

I say that's not true.

Apparently, after a little follow up research, there is an area of the school grounds, at a certain tree, where white kids have been hanging around for some time. Black kids either weren't welcome or chose not to be there or both. We have not really been told in anything published if there were areas where black kids hung out that white kids either weren't welcomed or chose not to be there or both. We only know of this area for the "whites." Apparently a few black kids decided to join the party in this area, and trouble ensued. The following day, some ridiculous excuses for human beings hung nooses in the tree as a sign that the black kids shouldn't come back.

The actions are reprehensible. Sickening. Deplorable. Inexcusable. Enough to make me want to visit each of the white bastards that did it and explain personally how horrible it is, as well as to visit every black person who had to witness these things hanging from a tree where he/she goes to school.

However sickening, inexcusable, etc., the actions are not, in fact, unlawful. The actions are in such bad taste and send such a violent message that perhaps they should be against the law. However, the fact remains that hanging nooses in a tree is not against any law presently.

Just as, at one time, if a person had AIDS or HIV+ and had consensual intercourse with someone who was not informed, there was no crime committed. It was just as heinous an act before the laws made it punishable by the court system as it was after. And yet, because our justice system is designed as it is, the actions had to occur, land situations in court, grow big enough for society to recognize it and implore the lawmakers to move on it, and now we have those laws on the books.

Right now, again, hanging nooses in a tree as a racial sign of hatred and unacceptance is not a violation of any standing law. In fact, although I hate this fact, some would argue it's a demonstration of free speech. I won't really go there. I don't like the argument. But it is, in fact, a valid argument.

Let's look at the facts. The rope wasn't stolen. The tree the nooses were hung in is fine, so no property was defaced. No physical violence of any kind was committed in the presentation of these hatefully constructed eyesores. I could go on and on, searching through every last possibility, just as the school administration apparently did, and come up empty, just as they did.

So the white bastards who have been likely been bred to hate people based on skincolor have not committed a crime, as much as I'd like to see them pay for the hurt they've caused others. In fact, I applaud the school administration, who did everything they could legally do to punish for the actions. The perps were suspended. The administration went on record saying that many people looked into it to see if this action fell under anything that justified a greater penalty. They came up empty. Now, you can bet, that the school in question here will likely develop a policy on racial slurs and signs of hatred, much like schools have developed policies on gang activity and violence. (Remember the stories of the schools who now have a "no touch" policy so strict that children may not exchange "high fives?" Yep. Once the ball gets rolling, sometimes it even goes too far. The point is, a need has to arise for policy, and then policy is born. Not the other way around. Nobody is clairvoyant. If anyone was, school shootings and other terrible occurrences would never happen.

So the white kids were stupid. And they did something heinous, and were punished for it to the maximum level of punishment allowed by the existing rules of the community. We all wish that level could have been a little more severe, because we're all embarrassed for this sorry souls and the pitiful parents who've raised them. If that were the end of the story, we'd be done here.

But it wasn't the end of the story. Multiple black kids beat the daylights out of a single white boy. Just like a scene out of a streetgang movie. It just so happens that physically beating the daylights out of someone and taking that victim inches from death is a crime. A punishable crime. And thus, the kids who committed the crime now owe a debt to society for that crime, and are being charged accordingly.

So first of all, why all the signs that scream white law and black law are different? They look just the same to me. Had the black folks hung something in a neighboring tree to support their position, they would not be guilty of any legal wrongdoing either. And if the white kids had beat the crap out of someone, they would be the ones charged with a crime.

We can argue that there are discrepancies and imbalances in our laws based on how traditional "blue collar" vs. "white collar" crimes are handled, coupled with the statistics on how the instances of those crimes fall racially speaking. This is a valid argument, and one I have lots of interest in. When a CEO embezzles or ruins the retirement funding for hundreds of people and gets a slap and a monetary fine, but a personal friend of mine has a boyfriend in prison for five years because he had an unregistered gun on him for protection, and the first is characteristically white and the second is black, we have something we can talk about.

But if you put emotion aside and examine the facts of the current situation, it's very simple. The white folks did not commit a crime, and the black folks did. This is not an example of any discrepancy in how the law is applied to those who break it. It's a case of one group committing a crime and the other committing a heinous act of expression that deserves a good old fashioned ass whoopin. But not a five or six on one type of ass whoopin that leaves someone nearly dead and is punishable by a court of law.

If you ask me, both the white kids and the black kids did the same thing. They both exherted a belief that there is distinct inequality between the races. Both groups. Same message. Both wrong.

I've been blessed with friends of all colors and walks of life. I love them all. I can tell you about a few, though, that were sincerely in favor of breaking down racial barriers and perceptions. And I can contrast them with others in my life who were so full of contempt and hatred that they did just the opposite.

I was 19 years old, working in an office. I grew up in a neighborhood that was a melting pot, but one that didn't have a huge population of black people. There was every Arabic background present, every last religious conviction present, but only a sprinkling of black people. So, growing up, I didn't have many friends who were black, simply because black children weren't around to be friends with. So here I was in the office one day, and one of my colleagues who I adored brought her wedding pictures in. I looked at them, marveled at the size of her wedding party and her choices in flowers and decor, and came upon pictures of her and her new husband jumping over a broom. So I asked what in the hell they were doing jumping over a broom with silk flowers hot-glued to it. And she giggled and patiently explained, much as I would have explained any custom we have in my family or "culture" that was found to be different than hers. But she was cut off in mid explanation by another colleague who was fuming with anger that this was being discussed, and even more irate that I didn't know about this custom. She thought it was the worst case of racial discrimination ever. Simply that I didn't know the deal with the broom at black weddings. Folks, never forget the power of examining a situation for intent and purpose before casting judgment on a person's position.

Folks, I've got news for the world, I don't know squat about any culture I haven't been exposed to properly. I have no idea how people use prayer rugs, or why Eastern Indians wear wraps on their heads that are a foot above their heads. This does not mean I have disdain for these people. On the contrary, I'd love to know and understand more. Culture is fascinating.

Also fascinating was the irony that a custom was brought forth from days of slavery that is practiced by both families who did and those who did not have slavery in their past heritages. But that's a story for another day. I think black culture in our country has amazing parts to it. But just like every other culture, it also has parts that seem to not make a whole lot of sense. Slavery is a horrible black mark on the history books of humans in this country (and many others!) Do we see Holocaust survivors bringing any part of the memory of what they endured forward into a grandious occasion like a wedding? Of course not. So thus, I don't understand the broom thing. I accept the broom thing, certainly. Folks can do whatever they choose in life provided it doesn't infringe on the rights and privelidges of another.


Post a Comment

<< Home