Of Riots and Rights

In the aftermath of the Ferguson affair.

Here’s my thing…

I want to try and make one last point with regards to Ferguson and then I want to get away from it as the subject of the rioters is kind of played out; and that point is that is I am by NO means against protesting. It is a Right. We need it in our culture. It’s how change can be effected.

In Ferguson and many other towns we have a large group, many of them protesters exercising their first amendment rights. But we have an unfortunate subgroup, the rioters. Ditto Looters. And another unfortunate subgroup, the zealotry driven protesters who think that they have some twisted right to shove their protest in everyone else’s face, blocking traffic and ruining business owners capacity to do a profitable business by shutting them down through sit-ins.

How does any of that further a needed discussion? The conversation that actually needs to happen is being overshadowed by animals like Brown’s step dad calling to “Burn this m***** f***** down”; by people looting stores and destroying the property of local business leaders; by leaders ::cough cough:: implying that it’s all excusable by saying that they can ‘understand’ the anger, thereby condoning the behavior without actually condoning it.

Then you have ‘news’ outlets that throw opinionated commentary out into the world thinly veiled as news. Their round tables are often one sided and indictments are thrown out onto the table without the benefit of a so-called ‘news’ person moderating ridiculous statements accusing, in this case, Officer Wilson of being a murderer without the benefit of a trial on a national news program (I’m looking at You, Wolf Blitzer).

Additionally, any kind of news that might give perspective is left out. Again, in the case of Ferguson, how many cops have been killed since the year 2000 by ‘unarmed’ suspects? How many White men are shot by cops every year? Those figures are available, and shocking!

But I digress. I am all for everyone being able to express their first amendment rights, I am all for peaceful protest. Regardless of if I agree with the protesters, everyone has a right to speak out, it is a foundation of the greatness of what was once the greatness of America. That is actually what is good about our right to protest. It’s in the crucible of critical attention and debate that pares your point of view down to necessities, where you, if you are able to deal with it, find out what it is you really believe and maybe even why you believe it.

But the sad fact about the entire thing is that the conversation that actually does need to happen never will, because it is overshadowed by the violence and complete ridiculousness of a bunch of people that are acting like children, like feral animals that have no concept or regard for rights, much less the responsibilities that go along with those rights.

As a result we end up talking and endlessly arguing about the validity of the issues because a proportionately small number of people don’t really care about anything except the opportunity to grab a new pair of sneakers through the broken window at their local shoe store and watching the world burn. We end up categorizing the people with a legitimate gripe, pigeon-holing them with the looters and destroyers. Ironic that the people, the individuals, and the groups with legitimate concerns and issues actually seem to see the looters and the destroyers as on their side! It’s astonishing!

We need stop. Then we need to reset. We need to deal with the looters and destroyers the way we have been dealing with that type of person or group for all of living memory. They need to be shut down and put away without fear of political correctness reprisals or that the people with legitimate concerns won’t start pulling out the race card or see a chance to farther divide us by pointing fingers and calling names.

Then maybe the real discussion can begin. When we start to maybe take a good long look at ourselves and our assumptions, when we cease to jump to the defensive immediately and instead try to see where the other side is coming from. We need to take a good long look at the people who have made a living off of pimping poverty and racism and really question all of the ‘information’ that is being fed to us by people who have a vested interest in keeping the pot boiling and roiled up, and I’m talking about both sides.

We are too married to party. We are too married to the preconceptions we carry around like security blankets. People are too afraid to maybe discover that they might have elements to what they have been spoon fed with regards to information or opinion that might be wrong.

We got too lost in the minutia, the side arguments, like that dog in the movie ‘UP’ who kept getting distracted by the squirrels; and both sides, knowing that, use that to their advantage in order to ‘win’ the debate rather than further the conversation or actually accomplish anything meaningful; endlessly scattering shiny little pieces of subject bait all over the pathway of the argument, polluting the conversation beyond any hope of redemption or closure.

Someone has to say ‘to hell with pride’ and be willing to make a genuine effort at having the conversation honestly, without inflated or manipulated statistics, without false preconception and free of adherence to the party line. And it needs to be done in a civil and dignified manner.

Is that possible? I don’t know. I fear we may regressed too far as a culture, that there aren’t enough people willing and able to slog their way through that route. I fear that we have retreated too far into the false comfort of our respective paradigms to consider anything else. But it is said, ‘where there is life, there is hope’.

I would love to be able to believe that.

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