Thursday, March 29, 2012

3/28/12 - Trayvon Martin and Obamacare

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford
Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford (Photo credit: werthmedia)
All of a sudden I'm entering 2011 as the current date instead of 2012. Something deep within my subconscious is suddenly attempting to turn back the clock. This can't be a good sign.


The Trayvon Martin tragedy has becoming the newest thing to get pissed about, and rightfully so. However, as usual, passionate indignation mixed with media exploitation has created an echo chamber that threatens to drown out what the real issue is here.

The politicians and talking heads aren't making anything easier, either (As if they ever do). In the latest little back and forth, you've got Obama coming out and empathizing with Trayvon Martin's family and remarking how close to home this kind of thing strikes when you're a black father. This turned out to be a bad move, as Imaginary Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich and John "I'm more religiously alien than the Mormon I'm running against" Santorum immediately jumped to the defense of the increasingly marginalized and persecuted White America by claiming that Obama was trying to divide the nation by injecting race into the situation. Of course, these guys are probably too busy running presidential campaigns (or in Gingrich's case, book signing tours disguised as presidential campaigns) to notice that the country is already divided by the Trayvon Martin tragedy: on one side are all of the people outraged at the lack of justice (once again) involving and innocent black teenager being gunned down, and on the other side are all of the white people attempting to defend the man who shot a kid armed with a bag of Skittles without sounding racist.

The joke, of course, is that race is a major issue in the Trayvon Martin case, but it isn't what we should all be focusing on. Sending Skittles to police stations and wearing hoodies in solidarity is the kind of feel-good media-friendly activism that Michael Moore built his career on, but all that does is distract from the more long-reaching tragedy that took place. We can spend all of our time digging into Zimmerman's past and replaying 911 calls to figure out whether he said "Coon" or "Goon", but rallying against one idiot as an effigy of racial prejudice does little more than stoke the flames of outrage and give everyone a chance to shout, but all of the Hoodie Activism in the world is going to decrease the amount of racism in the world. Racists actually tend to dig their heels in on incidents like this, in case you haven't noticed.

The real issue, and the problem that should be dominating our dialogue instead of Zimmerman's student status, is the institutionalized bias that resulted in a man found standing over a dead teenager with a smoking gun essentially being taken at his word by police to such an extent that witnesses who contradicted his story were told they were wrong, and not even being taken into custody despite having a previous criminal record. Whether this bias was due to the fact that Zimmerman was white and Martin was black, or that Zimmerman's father is a former judge, is a minor point over the greater issue that the actions of the police department in this case have obviously been guided by some internal ideology, and not a concern for protecting public safety or serving justice.

Add to this the existence of pro-gun lobby laws like macho-sounding "Stand Your Ground" law, which begs to ask whether public safety legislation that sounds like an NRA slogan or a 70's Vigilante Film Title should ever be passed into law, and you have government and law enforcement creating an environment in which violence is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged. I'm not what you would call a pacifist. I'm a long-standing fan of Dirty Harry and Death wish. But I also know how to separate testosterone-fueled fantasy from reality. Unlike Zimmerman, apparently, whose paranoid world view sees a black teen in a hoodie with his hand in his pocket as an outlaw that needs to be chased down and brought to "Final Justice." There will always be people like Zimmerman, but if law enforcement officials respond to this kind of overreaction with a pat on the back and a knowing wink, a lot more of them might feel justified in acting out. That, oh outraged citizens, is the real issue at hand.


So, "Obamacare" finally gets it's day in court, and the crazies crawl out of the woodwork to dance in front of the cameras and put on a paranoid schizoid show for the media. I'm not talking about the "Borthers" or "Teabaggers" either; these are elected officials showing off their crazy as they suck up the free attention by spouting crackpot ideology that would sound just as authentic being muttered by a derelict wrapped in tin foil rubbing against you in a crowded subway car.

Take Michele "I have more kids than you!" Bachmann (R-Minn.), for example. Standing among the media circus, happy yet again to be the center of attention (and much like a child, completely unaware of the difference between Good Attention and Bad Attention), Bachmann warned the gathering crowd of anti-health care fanatics that “In the future, you see, we will not be electing a president. We will be electing a health care dictator!"

That's right, people! We'll be electing Health Care Dictators before you know it! Of course, most dictators aren't really elected, at least not fairly, nor do they often bother to defend their policies through a lengthy legal process. Also, most dictators have secret police forces that run around slipping radioactive pellets into the breakfast oatmeal of people who stand around calling them names in front of their palaces while on television.

Even better, however, is the insanely myopic and unflinchingly disconnected question asked by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.): “If government can tell you what to buy in terms of health insurance, what’s next?"

I have to agree with the senator from the great state of Wisconsin (and how proud they must be). If we allow our government to demand that everyone have affordable health care, what could possibly be next? I mean, before you know it, they could start trying to exert control over who we can or can't marry, whether or not we can use contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, force us to have unnecessary medical procedures, or even try to dictate which of us should be allowed to raise children. Senator Johnson is right, any party espousing this kind of madness needs to be stopped in its tracks.

You've got thousands of protesters assembling to warn about Obama's "Death Panels" and "Health Care Rationing" if Obama's plan is put into effect because they are afraid of the government getting between them and their doctors, and they are being led by politicians openly and actively attempting to pass legislation that would allow employers and religious organizations to do the exact thing they fear.

You see? This is what happens when you have a political party run by people with no sense of irony.


Response to my question about what kind of nails a particular nail gun uses: "It should have a fat head, a thick shaft, and be roughly three and a half inches long."

I'm probably getting to old to be giggling, but it sure ain't stopping me.
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