We All Deserve Hell And Anything Better Warrants Profuse Gratitude

This is about the recent Baltimore riots and, more specifically, the reactions to it partly by people I know.  If you’re sick of hearing about this topic, be forewarned.  It is also likely to be long and meandering just like the conversation that sparked it.  I stayed out of the conversation because I did not want to interact with the kind of people which it attracted and I could not think of any constructive way to pithily say what needed to be said.  Plus, this is Facebook we’re talking about here.  Nuff said.

It all started with a friend posting a link to the Baltimore riots with the personal comment, “Looks like a great application for rubber bullets. There’s nothing that protects these people, as they are not “peacefully” protesting.”  Normally, I would let a tone-deaf and completely lacking of a shred of empathy comment go because, again, Facebook.  You have to pick your battles and the rest of the conversation got worse very quickly.  But since I’m here writing about it, rubber bullets kill people.  By making that comment, you’re basically condemning a certain amount of the rioters and likely some innocent bystanders to serious injury or death.  Not to mention, “these people”, seriously?  How you use words matter.  Using “these people”, “those people”, “you people” is using language couched in a very long history of racism.  You may not mean it as racist, but it sure makes you sound the part.  That a person would use language like that shows a profound lack of historical context at the very best.  How difficult would it to have come up with “these rioters”?

I continued to read the comments because I’m stupid.  What followed was, again, many comments that can, at the very best interpretation, be considered as showing a profound lack of historical context.  The one comment that really set my teeth on edge was from a person who apparently gets all her history lessons by reading Bill O’Reilly books because she said the following when commenting about how horrible these rioters are: “What did the black community in America do when Dr. King was shot? Murdered, some say, by the whites in power who didn’t want the blacks to be equal. What did they do? Burn down buildings? Throw bricks at cops? Etc? No. They MADE A DIFFERENT CHOICE.”  Holy fuck me with a sharp stick, Batman.  This comment shows just how completely Martin Luther King Jr.’s message has been usurped by the Right to attack any sort of violent actions by Blacks in America.  I felt sure that someone would have corrected that ahistorical drivel so I continued reading.  Not a single word.  For those of you that may be unaware, some of the worse rioting in American history happened after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  Hundreds of people were killed.  Not to mention, marches by the good Doctor also sometimes turned violent after severe provocation by police.  Police often are the instigators of riots either on purpose, Birmingham for example, or accidentally as some evidence out of Baltimore is now showing where it appears they prevented school children from getting home in a timely manner by cancelling bus and train routes that they use, thus forcing large groups to congregate in small spaces and then came at them with full riot gear.

The same woman also had the nerve to suggest that people would just ignore her opinion because she was white: “I’m not wrong. I’m just white, so my opinion doesn’t count, right?”  Um, no.  You are wrong because your opinions are so obviously based on a severe lack of understanding of the issues at hand that you should be embarrassed to even state an opinion.  This is a fundamental problem with humanity that causes many wrongs.  People feel like they need to have an opinion.  You don’t.  It’s ok to say, “Race relations in America have a complex and vast history and my life is too busy for me to even try to get into it so I’m going to just sit back and soak up the conversation about this topic I know nothing about.”  I don’t exclude myself from that criticism as, I’m sure, I am at times guilty of it.  That’s again why I try to pick my battles on Facebook to topics I know a fair amount about.

The conversation then turned Religulous.  The true source of these riots is lack of morals and loss of faith.  That sort of nonsense.  Things are bad now because of lack of faith in God, but things are better than they were then because of God.  My view is that things are as they always have been and very little has changed.  (*sarcasm* But Obama!)  Again, I tend to ignore stuff like this unless I have something useful to say and I would have this time too except that the original poster then said what you see in the subject line.  Here’s the entire context: “Most Americans believe that the world owes them something. Regardless of race, college students indicate that they deserve a job, those without means believe that they’re entitled to welfare, those without health insurance believe they’re entitled to health care, etc. Wealthy people and those in power feel they deserve the lifestyle they want, even at the expense of others. Most young people believe they deserve 15 minutes of fame. The fact is, people aught to care for one another and one another’s needs, but in the grand scheme of things, we all deserve hell and anything better warrants profuse gratitude.”  I am not sure I have ever heard a sentence more filled with poison than that last sentence.  That it is also couched in the context of a religion of supposed peace makes it all the more vile.  Anything better than hell warrants profuse gratitude.  Profusely grateful to whom?  I am poor and have cancer and my governor refused Medicaid expansion which means there’s no money to pay for my treatment and I’m going to die, but thank you government!  Profusely!  I lost my job because of the at best immoral and at worse illegal actions of a few people and the government rewards those people by bailing them out and not prosecuting them, but at least I get food stamps so I don’t die of starvation for a limited time dictated by a group of people who can not even begin to imagine the situation I am in, but thank you government!  Profusely!

There is an idiotic attack against Atheists that asks, If Atheists don’t believe in God how can they believe in right and wrong?  It’s idiotic because there are plenty of examples of Atheists being just as moral and upstanding as any Theists.  Not high praise, I know, but the point is Atheists are subject to the same mutually agreed upon morality as the rest of the world but just disagree with the source of said morality.  If religion in America is going to continue on the “we all deserve hell and anything better warrants profuse gratitude” track that it seems to be on, Atheists are going to win this morality battle just as surely as same-sex marriage proponents will win theirs.

I should also mention that I don’t mean to sound like the entire conversation was horrible.  There are some very intelligent and well thought out responses to a lot of what was talked about.  There are people, both black and white, that seem to get it.  We’re still a long way from the end of this particular conversation, though.

5 thoughts on “We All Deserve Hell And Anything Better Warrants Profuse Gratitude

  1. Babette

    “There is an idiotic attack against Atheists that asks, If Atheists don’t believe in God how can they believe in right and wrong? It’s idiotic because there are plenty of examples of Atheists being just as moral and upstanding as any Theists. Not high praise, I know, but the point is Atheists are subject to the same mutually agreed upon morality as the rest of the world but just disagree with the source of said morality.”

    Thank you for that big-time. I’ve actually had silly people mention that I’m probably immoral because I’m an atheist. ummm what?

    I’m of the silly opinion that human beings should treat all humans like they’re human beings. Meaning treat people well and not like crap. Don’t be cruel or hurtful. Just treat them how you expect to be treated (which I hope is with kindness or at the very least with some nice thoughtful consideration. {I didn’t want to log-in to your other page cause then I’d probably have to learn another password}

  2. Steven Scott

    Ok, before I begin I want to start by saying that I’m having a bit of a bad day and am sleep deprived so I may be more acerbic and scatterbrained than usual and I feel like I should apologize in advance for that. Also, this is really long its feels a little weird to be agreeing with you here JP since I usually just come on here to argue with you. (Side note: You are the best person I’ve ever argued with online. It’s always a pleasure to get into a discussion with you since your thoughts are wholly your own and not from some list of talking points.) Anyway, lets get to it.

    I am sick of the outrage. No wait, scratch that. I am sick of the outrage *to* the outrage. I am sick of these people, most of which you outlined above, These often white, often religious, almost always privileged individuals with a whitewashed view of history and the world sitting back and saying “Serves them right. They aren’t helping anything. They are just destroying their own neighborhood. Violence never solves anything.”

    Violence never solves anything? Really? I know this is an oversimplification of events, but didn’t a bunch of rich white dudes get mad because they didn’t want to pay their taxes so they dumped a bunch of privately owned tea into Boston Harbor? But hey, those were just some radicals. It must have been an amazing feeling when King George, in the face of orderly and peaceful protests, decided to just let America go and form their own government. Just like when the northern states got the southern states to just give up on slavery by winning elections and peaceful negotiation. Or when Dr Martin Luther King marched on Washington and racism went away….

    After all, it was Dr King who said “I have a dream!” Of course, 3 years later he also said “I contend that the cry of “black power” is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.” So, the great MLK says that riots are a result of lack of justice for and the harsh economics of being an African American. So, how are the people of Baltimore doing?

    “The unemployment rate for black men in Baltimore between the ages of 20 and 24 was 37 percent in 2013, the latest data available; for white men of the same age range, the rate was 10 percent…. Just 59 percent of black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are working, compared with 79 percent of white men. Just 1 in 10 black men in Baltimore has a college degree, compared with half of whites (for ages 25 and up). And the median income for black households, at about $33,000, is little more than half that of whites.”

    (source: http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/how-baltimores-young-black-men-are-boxed-in/ )

    That seems bad, how about the justice side of the equation?

    “$5.7 million is the amount the city paid to victims of brutality between 2011 and 2014. And as huge as that figure is, the more staggering number in the article is this one: “Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil-rights violations.” What tiny percentage of the unjustly beaten win formal legal judgments?… Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson. Those cases detail a frightful human toll. Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.”

    (source: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-brutality-of-police-culture-in-baltimore/391158/ )

    Still, that is something they could have fixed if they were more involved with the community and if the would just get out and vote right?

    “Although much was rightly made of Ferguson’s racially unrepresentative local leadership, the presence of a black mayor and a diverse city council has not solved Baltimore’s police problem, partly because the DOJ responded to revelations of epidemic brutality with less than the full-scale civil rights probe that some residents requested and because Maryland pols have thwarted reform bills urged by city leaders.”

    (same source: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-brutality-of-police-culture-in-baltimore/391158/ )

    Now wait before I sum everything up, I want to ask you a question. What was the name of the kid who got shot in Cleveland? What State was Akai Gurley shot and killed in? You must have heard of him, he was the guy whom the police commissioner called a complete innocent and nobody knows what happened. Not the partner to the cop who shot him, not the guy’s girlfriend. Nobody has an explanation. Or hey, what about that guy who was shot and killed for holding a pellet gun in a Walmart. What ever happened with that anyway? Do you remember any of this?

    My point is that you probably don’t. I sure didn’t. And who could blame any of us? With 24 hour news cycles, reality TV, sports engorgement, and free speech zones important things get shuffled along and forgotten all the time. So how is a citizen of Baltimore supposed to improve their situation? Economy sucks, has sucked, will more than likely continue to suck. You have a police force that routinely uses you as a punching bag with often catastrophic results (seriously, 11 years ago two different men won $39 million and $7.4 million each in separate incidents of getting paralyzing spinal cord injuries while in the back of a police van. Sound familiar? Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-rough-ride-and-police-culture/391538/) They have political leaders who are either unable to or unwilling to change the culture, that have failed to help the young black men and women of their community. How are they to get us to notice that everything is fucked?

    “a riot is the language of the unheard”

    Really, the travesty isn’t that the people of Baltimore and Ferguson MO. are rioting. It isn’t the police brutality and injustice and death of those innocent and non violent people. The real travesty here is that we allowed this to get so bad in the first place.

    1. Jean-Paul Post author

      I actually remembered all the incidents you listed. Names are not my strong suit so I had to look up Akai Gurley, but I remember the infamous ricochet death. I’ve been closely paying attention to the issue for some time, though, and read way more than is healthy for me on the subject.

      1. Steven Scott

        Ah, sorry. My point was poorly construed. I think I was going for more “at what point do these tragedy become just another statistic on its way to being swept under the rug again? ‘Hear about that woman who was shot in the back of a police cruiser while handcuffed? That sucks, can you pass the salt’.

        Maybe you can remember every instance I mention, but do you know what was done to stop it from happening again? Do you trust our government officials to look out for the poor minorities of this country? If and when they fall short, how do you see the necessary changes coming about?

Comments are closed.