Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Ferguson”

The Arrogance of Immaturity

A young man was shot and killed as he broke into a store after hours when the owner was there because he feared looting during a night of protesting/rioting.  The next day, 600 students at a high school walked out.  You are probably assuming that the dead burglar was a student at the school.  He was not. None of those who walked out told me that they knew him, yet walking out seemed to them to be somehow a noble tribute to a sad end, ignoring the criminal endeavor.

Sounds like the situation in Ferguson last year but it was decades ago (I won’t say how many) at my school.  It was before the Make My Day laws.  It was purported to be about race too.  Even then, I did not see the connection with race because the more obvious reason for the burglar’s death, however sad, was his attempted burglary.  I am pretty sure the store owner would have shot anyone who broke into his store that night regardless of color.

A few years later, when I was in college, student organizers promoted a Student Bill of Rights.  I only remember one “right” that was part of a package of rights needed by us oppressed students.  That was the right to have girls visit the boys dorm without the rule at the time which required the dorm room door remain open.  It was a rule that was difficult to enforce because if a door was closed, how would a passerby know it contained a female visitor?  Oh, I seem to recall the girls had to sign in.  It was very oppressive to our right to privacy while entertaining in the location of our beds.  I was 18.  Before attending college, when I lived at home with my parents, as you might imagine, I could bring girls to my room in the attic whenever I wanted without checking in any of the long line of girls who desired to visit me behind closed doors.  If you buy that, I have ocean front property in Arizona.  Not.

Nevertheless, I was persuaded by the campus leaders to be outraged that the college would try to play the role of my repressive parents. “In loco parentis” it was called.  That was something up with which we could not put.   We demonstrated as an orderly mob at the home of the college president.  He did not resign.  He did not even come out to greet us.  Our demands were discussed later but never granted.  I did not complain to my parents, who were 300 miles away, about the unreasonable dorm rules.  I did not expect them to understand.  They would not understand why I and the other college protesters were offended by rules that implied we were not yet adults.

Several years later, the guy who was student body president and led the demonstrations for the Student Bill of Rights, was shot and killed at an armed standoff outside some textile factory fighting for the rights of workers.  I do not know enough about the cause to judge its righteousness, but I do not believe armed conflict was the solution for the textile workers.  Knowing the fellow who died leading the “movement,”  I realize that he was following his long-felt need to rouse the oppressed.  On one hand it is admirable.  On the other, it was tragic because he died unnecessarily due to his choice.

The students at the University of Missouri were successful in recently forcing the resignation of the university president.  I do not understand why that was necessary.  I am not smart enough to grasp why the university president is responsible for all offensive language on and off campus, nor was he obligated to endorse the Ferguson riots.  I certainly am not smart enough to follow the logic of the Yale students in their concerns about Halloween costumes at fraternity parties.  I have, I suppose, become less sensitive over the years.

When my father was 18-22, he was in the Army, in England, France and Belgium during WWII.  He had better things to do than stand up for a Student Bill of Rights concerning dorm rules.  He was defending the actual Bill of Rights, the ones written by our American forefathers.  The contrast between him and the college students fighting for (ironically) rules about Halloween costumes (seems anti-free speech), is immense.  IMMENSE!!!

I have heard or read that college extends adolescence.  I was certainly less mature during college than was my father at the same age.  Now I view this crop of college student protesters as ultra-demanding about things their college need not provide.  My own cause, those many years ago, was vastly more important — the right to bring girls to one’s dorm room!

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Ferguson Aftermath

The rioting and destruction of property by those “disappointed” by the Grand Jury’s decision to not indict Officer Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown during a confrontation that included a struggle over the officer’s gun, do not seem aimed at anyone responsible for the incident itself, nor at those who made the decision the rioters find so disappointing. As far as I know, the buildings burned did not belong to Officer Brown, nor members of the Grand Jury, nor the police department, nor the prosecution. (I do not believe violence directed at those folks would be appropriate, but the businesses being attacked were not involved).

It is analogous to me burning down my neighbor’s garage because my wife got a speeding ticket and I really love my wife and am upset that a stinkin’ cop gave her a ticket. My innocent neighbor would be punished for my “disappointment” about the cop giving a ticket to my wife. It would be unlikely that the neighbor would get the connection and respond by somehow fixing the world so that my wife gets no more tickets because, after all, I am sick of tickets being issued to people I care about. While we are on the subject, my cousin Bob has gotten tickets too. I wonder if my family is being targeted. No garage is safe as long as members of my family are being ticketed. And, don’t try to persuade me by telling me that eye witnesses saw my wife and cousin speeding. I don’t want the evidence. I just want to be angry and my neighbor’s garage is in the world that has disappointed me so.

I hope this teaching moment has clarified the lesson which rioting teaches as a method of making the world a better place. The logical connection between rioting and justice is very subtle. Some of us don’t see it at all. I am in that group.

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