Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Where is the outrage?

An unarmed, White teen in South Carolina is shot dead by police.  Where is the outrage?  In the big scheme of things, that is a trivial question.

Oh, heck, did I say "trivial question?" 

Yes, I did.

You see, these are the types of stories those in power love for us to engage in.  While we are debating whether Black lives matter more than White lives - which inevitably leads to the debate of whether Black lives struggle under institutionalized racism while White lives benefit from White privilege - the police continue killing unarmed citizens, unchecked.

The Pulitzer prize-winning photo that
galvanized the nation forty-five years
Back in the tumultuous '60's and early '70's, nothing set the nation on fire more than the image of a young woman crying over a Kent State student shot dead by the National Guard in 1970.  The student was one of four killed that day.

Ten days later, a protest at Jackson State University, an all Black school in Mississippi, ended tragically.  In thirty seconds, police fired four hundred bullets into Alexander Hall, a dormitory for women.  Two young men lay dead and twelve people were wounded.  While everyone knows of the Kent State incident, few if any, know of the Jackson State incident. 

What did both stories have in common?  Young people protesting; young people throwing things at police; police claiming a sniper was in the area and they had to act quickly to take control of the situation; young unarmed American citizens died; no evidence of a sniper in either situation.

Some of these bullet holes
remain in the bricks today
as testament to the
tragedy at Jackson State
forty-five years ago.
Where do the stories differ?  The White people in Ohio galvanized the nation with the famous Pulitzer prize winning photo.  The Black people in Mississippi have bullet holes in an old building to show that something happened there many decades ago.   

Forty-five years later, police are still killing unarmed American citizens and we - we being the average citizen - still debate which lives matter more, Black or White.  As long as the debate continues, police will kill more unarmed citizens - and, arguably, more citizens of color than White citizens.

Did I say "of color"?

Yes.  You see, I haven't even covered the "other races" like Native Americans, Asian, Hispanics, Middle Eastern...and whatever other color or ethnicity we want to consider.

Now I don't want to sound like a drunk wearing a tin foil hat by claiming some conspiracy among a small group of people - like the Illuminati - have control of our governments and society as if we're all elaborate puppets in a cosmic reality show.  I will, however, claim the complex mess we're in is a product of human nature and our ever developing social complexity as we strive to make heaven on earth.

Wow, what a mouthful, but what does that mean?

Human nature dictates that we all strive to be better than anyone and anything around us.  Back in the days of early man, when we hunted and were hunted, that drive was important to our survival. 

Today, since we are no longer hunted, that drive to be better than anyone and anything around us manifests itself through our social actions in rather peculiar ways.  We measure our success not by how much we contribute to society, but on how much money we make.  We hold sports figures and entertainers as heroes and ignore, if not complain about, teachers, doctors, researchers, and the clergy.  We divide ourselves into races and ethnicities and then we point to the others as we say, "At least we're not like those people."  We tolerate meaningless jobs and console ourselves by thinking that at least we're not burger flippers or ditch diggers.  Burger flippers and ditch diggers, of course, console themselves by thinking that at least they earn an honest day's pay without free loading off hard working tax payers like lazy people, government workers, and politicians sucking off the teat of Big Government do.

Recently, Susan Monday on WXDE 105.9 Talk Radio interviewed professor Dylan Selterman from the University of Maryland.  He's the professor who offered his class a choice of two extra bonus points or six, but if more than ten percent of the class chose six points, no one would get bonus points.  The question illustrated the dilemma of the tragedy of commons, an idea that predicts most people will act selfishly to the detriment of the group despite the fact that they, too, will suffer the detrimental effects.  Professor Selterman has used this question over the last seven years and only one class surprised him and earned their two extra points.

Now maybe it's easier to understand why a retail worker earning ten or eleven bucks an hour vigorously opposes a push by fast food workers to raise the minimum wage to fifteen bucks an hour.  The retail worker feels retail work requires more skill and is more important of a job than flipping burgers so there's no way a fast food worker should earn more - especially since they can't get the retail worker's lunch order right anyway.  Even when it's pointed out that the retail worker would get the same pay raise to fifteen bucks an hour if a rate increase is passed, the concept of the tragedy of commons dictates the retail worker will still oppose the rate increase because that would mean the burger flipper is making the same as the retail worker (fifteen bucks an hour) and the retail worker feels he should be making more, along the lines of seventeen or eighteen an hour if the minimum wage were raised.

If you are inclined to believe that our politicians or the one percent of Americans who control eighty percent of the wealth are inclined to do the right thing and will share their wealth and power by doing simple things like offering a decent living wage, think again.  The tragedy of commons dictates that they, too, will not act in the best interest of the group.  The 80 richest people in the world are poised to control half the global wealth by next year and they aren't about to give any of that up.  Theoretically, they would rather see society collapse rather than help create a healthy, stable society by sharing their wealth and power.

That's why the politicians and corporate moguls stand on the sidelines watching the show of the rest of us quibbling over the few crumbs we are thrown.  We are their reality show, manipulated for their viewing pleasure.

Which brings me back to the opening question of this article: where is the outrage over the unarmed White teen shot by police in SC?

There will be none - partly by design, partly by chance. 

Those in the news entertainment business have long since wandered off the path of reporting news in an effort to gain more readers, listeners, and viewers.  Ad revenue increases as a result and that means a few extra crumbs for the reporters to fight over.  What passes for news today is whatever is trending on the social networks. 

White boys getting killed by the police isn't entertaining and doesn't trend.  Black boys getting that's trending entertainment.  If the media plays the cards correctly, several generations worth of social and economic oppression boils over in the Black community and we are entertained with busted out store fronts, burning cars, and tanks rolling down Main Street to restore order. 

See what I just did?  That style of reporting is what makes money, and the media plays it to the hilt. 

While we quibble amongst ourselves over why police killing a White teen doesn't garner the same attention as the killing of a Black teen, the police cement their police-state powers by pointing out how dangerous our streets are and the politicians cement their powers to rule by pointing to the need for dire measures in dire times.  The one percent controlling the wealth of the country point towards the next city to throw some crumbs to by investing in the rebirth of an ailing White neighborhood (which increases their own wealth in the long run) while surrounding Black neighborhoods grow poorer.  The seeds are sown for the next riot.

We're all too busy pointing fingers at each other to turn our attention to those in power and those controlling the wealth to demand an end to police killing unarmed citizens.
During the Cold War, we took pride in
not being a police state like Russia.
Have our police out done the old KGB?

If you think I made this all up, then answer this one question: why can the government tell us all we want to know about crime in the US - broken down by the race, age, and gender of both the criminal and victim as well as what type of weapons were used in violent crimes - yet the government cannot tell us one thing about how many citizens died at the hands of the police?

If we knew the actual statistics, we all would be outraged over the police state we have become.

TL;DR folks:
The news has been filled with stories of police brutality and deaths of unarmed citizens at the hands of police.  The stories invariably center on Black victims.  White victims die unnoticed.  There are many factors beyond the average person's control at play, but we all should be outraged at every police killing of an unarmed citizen. 

For your listening pleasure:

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

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