When it rains, it pours as the saying goes. Maxims tend to become maxims when they prove true over time and holy mother of Zoroaster are we experiencing that right now. The Cruel Summer of 2014 (Trademark pending) continues to chug unabated like a locomotive train of senseless tragedy with Robin Williams’ childhood-decimating suicide combined with the absolutely surreal series of events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri.
One of the unfortunate side effects of Robin Williams’ suicide is that it gives the mucho media conglomerate of America a fairly convenient subject to focus on instead of what is rapidly turning into the biggest racial conflict in America since the LA Riots in 1992. When I was watching the daytime news (after my morning cartoons), I saw approximately 50% of the program devoted to Robin Williams and about fifteen seconds devoted to Ferguson.
ENTIRE SEGMENT DEVOTED TO FERGUSON
BRIEF CLIP OF POLICE THROWING TEAR BOMB
“Well, things are still really hard to make out in Ferguson. Here’s Tom with the weather.”
It’s always annoying to watch the chance for a national dialogue about actual issues get subverted by America’s constant “OOOH, SHINY!” mentality but for something this blatant and outrageous to be underreported makes me want to break thousands of pencils at Office Depot and not pay for them. The fact that this is one of the less-infuriating aspects of this entire debacle is just one more fucked-up detail in a textbook example of fucking up that will someday go into the Great Fuck-up Textbook used in the teaching of Fucking Shit Up 101 taught at the University of Fucking Up in New Jersey.
Let me start by making my position on the police perfectly clear: I am not anti-cop. I have worked with the New Mexico PD numerous times as a scenario training actor (which deserves its own entry altogether) and in my experience 90% of cops (like most humans) are genuinely nice people that just want to protect and help their community. In contrast to that 90% is the 10% (statistic not actually accurate) population of the police that, for whatever reason, have extreme issues with possessing and using authority and are prone to use it to their advantage when it’s convenient to their prejudices or deep-seated violent tendencies. The problem begins with giving these borderline sociopaths access to handguns, pepper spray, and big heavy sticks that they can swing whenever they want. The problem gets even worse when we decide it’s okay to arm these same assholes with military grade equipment that is more suited for the sands of Baghdad than the mean streets of Sleepyville, Indiana.
You might be able to understand the discrepancy in opponents, yes? Add this kind of ridiculous over militarization of the police with an overall racial tension that has already existed for years in Ferguson and then throw in yet another controversial killing in a post-Trayvon culture and you have the perfect recipe for a fuckbasket in the breadbasket of America.
I am going to state my opinion and say that I believe that Michael Brown was murdered in an unprovoked and un-premeditated killing that has been covered up by the Ferguson Police Department in such a heavy handed and ass-backward fashion that there is no way for them to come out of this looking okay. Between covering up the identity of the officer, refusing to release details related to the killing, and releasing information contrary to eyewitness accounts, they have given themselves the overall credibility of your crackhead friend that needs ten bucks “for batteries”.
Things were bound to get ugly as soon as the rioting and looting started. This was the point where I began to play a fun game of “Find The Racist” in my Facebook mini-feeds and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of my old chums from the Midwest began talking about these “animals” who were looting that “needed to be put down”. Curious vocabulary, no? That aside, it unfortunately brought the moral argument down to an equal level (in their eyes) since this is America and setting fire to some businesses is seen as some sort of fair trade for human life, at least as far as minorities are concerned. I’m sure there’s an exchange conversion chart that they have to consult located somewhere next to their grandfather’s old Klan robes.
This began a cycle of fear from both the police and the citizens in Ferguson that has fed off one another to create our current situation. Fear and ignorance is often mistaken for evil, and such is the case here. The primarily minority population is scared of the primarily white cops who possess enough weaponry to turn them into tear-gas infused lasagna. Meanwhile, the cops are entertaining the Great White Man Fear of all the minorities rising up as one and overwhelming and devouring them like Dawn of the Dead.
All of this has shed an even more harsh light on our as-yet-unresolved race and police problems in America. I can’t say I was surprised or, honestly, put off when I heard about the infamous torching of the Quik Trip during the Sunday Riots. Racism and race riots have been a recurring theme throughout our nation’s history to anyone that has actually done their research. Racism did not end when MLK gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Racism didn’t end when Jackie Robinson started playing major league baseball. Racism didn’t end when Barack Obama became President.
After that incident last week when that man died from a chokehold received from an NYPD Officer that was met with practically no response from the NYPD, I wondered how many more people would have to die in senseless violence before the inevitable happened and the nonviolence sprang into violence. You can only be ignored for so long before you have to start kicking over furniture to get noticed. I think we reached that point last week. We cannot keep running away from these problems. Our culture has an “Until it happens to me” mentality that stymies any chance of sociocultural growth. The media didn’t even become involved really in the Ferguson protests until the police started attacking their own. Until we do something as a people and government to do something about these absolute basic problems with our citizenry and police force, there are going to be a lot more dead bodies and it’ll be more than just a Quik Trip destroyed.
I dedicate this post to the memory of Robin Williams. In death, you join the holy pantheon of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and all the others who have used comedy as a weapon of truth. With every dick joke I make on this website, I feel like I keep you alive in some way inside me. Not like that. You’ll never know how much the world has felt your loss. We need clowns now more than ever.