Monday, July 11, 2016

Some thoughts on Tragedy

This is a political post. 

I'm going to first suggest a simple step, a change of policy.  How about....all media outlets NOT use mugshots to discuss any victims AND stop using Facebook glamour photos to describe any alleged murderers. Let's start there. 

I drove down to visit the folks the the country this week. My father has started wearing shorts, which is monumental if you know him, and my mother is still putting together food for me to take so I don't have to cook when I get back. My younger brother looks good. I bring this up because it on those trips that I try to escape my bubble and see what the rest of the world is thinking. I find those who only want to work in echo chambers unpalatable, no matter what the views are, so I strive not to be one of them whenever possible. So, between my house and my parents, I listen to a variety of local media to see where my thoughts are on the social spectrum. 

I was somewhat taken aback.

On the final leg of the journey back from parents on Sunday, I tuned into a a right wing pundit's radio show.  What at first seemed funny, then a lot less funny, quickly transformed into a defensive screed. Listening to him I got the impression that Libertarians are apparently trying to join Crossfitters and Vegans, in that every one in those groups can't wait to share that fact with you. This radio pundit mentioned he was a Libertarian before nearly every statement he made, as though the term signified his thoughts held more gravity due to his association. After listening for almost a half hour, him working through his always self centered rationalizations as a way of explanations, contradicting himself and failing to see it, and ignoring basic concepts of empathy I'm surprised he's still on the radio. Ah, but it was conservative radio, so my bad.  

He first indicated that he was sure white male privilege was a fraudulent concept. Apparently just designed to annoy him. Then he explained how there was no relationship between the Dallas police department and what happened in Baton Rouge and Minnesota. As though this was a news flash, and we aren't all aware that the irrational people don't think logically. There was a long piece about how terrible hate crime laws are, because people should only be judged on the actions. But he kept repeating the term "in cold blood" to describe the events in Dallas as though simply killing someone wouldn't qualify as heinous enough. He followed that up with the Black Lives Matter Movement conspiracy concept, in the protests that continued despite the shooting were designed to push the events in Dallas off the front page. As though the BLM movement is a vast well organized machine. He finished by to educating his listeners to the dangers of thought police, how he was an enlightened man who knew he was and needed no validation, while carefully treading over some past professional transgressions he was obviously still very bothered about. It would have been funny if he wasn't dead serious.

That he has a radio show, which means people listen to him, is a frightening concept.

It is my opinion that what happened in Dallas was outrageous, there is no reason to shoot police officers at all. Even now, prominent activists have been calling for peaceful protests all weekend, not pushing out calls for a repeat performance. Before this act of senseless violence we saw a model demonstration, where the police and protesters were even taking photos together. Afterwards, we found ourselves again in the cycle of finger pointing, confirmation bias derived anger and the usual conspiracy theories. What could and should have been a starting point for reasonable conversation concerning the deaths of Sterling and Castile, has once again devolved into social and political gamesmanship. Despite what my new favorite radio personality would have you believe, it is possible to both a believer in the ideals of Black Lives Matter and pro-Police. The two are not mutually exclusive.

I'm not sure where we're headed. We live interesting times.

Changes in thinking an attitudes move slowly, but we live in an instant digital world, where we expect change and satisfaction quickly. Where relationships can blossom in 500 words or less. This problem isn't from a digital world, and so we're going to have to go a time of thoughtful conversation and address it. I hope we're up to it.

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