My father was forthright. He hated baseball because it was boring, and basketball because it was dominated by “the Blacks”. Not surprisingly he loved hockey; overwhelmingly White and punctuated by out and out fisticuffs! While watching a brawl at a recent game, one of three fights in the game lost by Falcons players as convincingly as the game, I wondered how differently the fighting and the crowd’s response to it would be taken if this were a sport dominated by minorities both on and off the playing surface?
“And they cheer when they fight?”
“Why yes, yes they do!”
That whole passage of thought crept into my mind as I contemplated Chris Martenson’s cautionary tale about Black men so fearsome in Oakland that police dare not approach them. If only there were some well publicized example of a group of White men behaving criminally while armed to the teeth in such a fashion that local, state, and federal officials were afraid to intervene for weeks and weeks! Oh, right, there was one, but not involving people living in an oppressive circumstance where over half of individuals of their race and gender can expect to serve time in the criminal justice system mostly due to their involvement in a “drug war” which involves just as many end users of the dominant race as those of color but who are incarcerated at many times the rate of the former.
No, this involved incredibly well off White men who were claiming oppression because they were being obligated to play by the rules, but Chris Martenson doesn’t see fit to mention places where those lawless types live as worthy of abandonment. No, he just uses it as an example which is the geographical equivalent of Willie Horton.
And that brings me around, finally, to a tragedy a few weeks back in which a 15 year old girl in Massachusetts died at the hands of a fellow teenager. It has been acknowledged as an accident, an accident in which the perpetrator might just as easily have been a victim and in which other children were put at risk as well. The problem with addressing the fundamental cause of this on going crisis, in which thousands of young people die every year at their own hands and at the hands of other children, is that at issue here is a way of life many people view as quintessentially American.
Some people point to the fact that the instrument of death, in this particular case, was being operated illegally. Even at that safety features absolutely standard and available were not engaged regardless of the illegal nature of the operation. Of course, people point to this because they cannot bring themselves to admit that we might be better off deferring on this right as individuals and instead further empower the state to provide the service which this most dangerous machine provides. To those of us on that side of the argument I would go even further and say that the proliferation of these “weapons of mass destruction” endanger so many people on this planet that giving them up may be necessary in order to protect the species.
The incident I’m referring to is a car crash in Weymouth, and the weapon of mass destruction is the automobile. Many more teens die behind the wheel than from firearms. The automobile and auto induced sprawl leave us paralyzed before the evidence of climate change as, for many, the automobile centered “American way of life” is as non-negotiable as our right to bear arms. In the long run global warming may kill many more people than even American made weaponry.
There was a 15 year old girl accidentally killed the same week in the same state with a handgun and not an automobile. The operator of the handgun was doing so illegally, just as the 16 year old driving the car was doing so illegally. The firearm was loaded and the safety was off; the car was speeding and the victim was not wearing a seat belt. Other children who were not shot were witness to the shooting; two other teens who were passengers in the car did not die.
I have to admit I am surprised that the teen in the Weymouth case is being charged with negligent homicide, while the Springfield teen is not, at least as of yet, being charged with the same crime. If you are looking to kill someone and not be charged with a crime the best way to do it is by car. Having said that, once again the difference in the public view has been predictable. (Read this story in the Globe on the car crash and this story in the Republican on the shooting.)
The incident involving the gun, minorities and an urban environment is evidence that the city is an unlivable cesspool of human filth that we should all flee, whereas the auto-centric suburbs are the perfect place to raise our children, despite the occasional car crash because…well, just because. The same reason White Canadians beating each other up isn’t savage and White terrorists taking over government land isn’t lawlessness.