[CONTENT NOTE: murders and gruesome violence discussed; no violent images.]
[CONTENT NOTE: discussion of violence, violent and bigoted slurs and “jokes”.]
Via my amazing friend Niki at The Orbit comes this news: George Zimmerman punched in face for bragging about killing Trayvon Martin, witnesses allege.
SANFORD, Fla. — The man who said he shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense said he was punched in the face while he was talking to people at a restaurant in Sanford over the weekend.
George Zimmerman and a friend called 911 after a man accusing him of bragging about the fatal shooting punched him in the face, authorities said.
Zimmerman is considered the victim in this case, but witnesses inside Gators Riverside restaurant told authorities that the problem started because Zimmerman was bragging about killing the unarmed teen in 2012.
Witnesses said they overheard Zimmerman say to someone, “I love your tattoos. My name is George Zimmerman, you know, that guy who killed Trayvon Martin?” Witness said Zimmerman also showed his identification card.
I commented at Niki’s (awaiting moderation at the time of this posting), but I wanted to expand on that and clarify a little bit here.
I admit to feeling a certain amount of righteous satisfaction from this incident. If there is anyone who deserves a punch in the face, it’s George fucking Zimmerman. Taking a step back though, I wish it was the rhetorical equivalent of violence, and not actual violence. Neither Trayvon’s murder nor Zimmerman’s acquittal happened in a vacuum; they happened in a culture where violence is normalized, expected, and in the case of “stand your ground” laws, practically encouraged.
For example, I’d love to see bros getting right in Zimmerman’s face and telling him to STFU or GTFO of every. single. place. he ever enters, making it perfectly clear that he is an unwelcome pariah there, and that there are unpleasant consequences for him, in the real world, as a result of his (right-wing) views and violent actions.
The problem is that this almost never happens. And not just with Zimmerman, but with all conservative douches. They feel perfectly entitled to occupy and dominate any and all public spaces, freely spouting barbaric and counterfactual nonsense, with nary a peep to counter them. Ever. And why wouldn’t they? Sure, there may be a few eyerolls and whispers, but never any real, unpleasant consequences. Quite the opposite, actually: HIGH FIVE, BRO. And like every bully and oppressor, they will always interpret the silence of bystanders as agreement, thereby reinforcing the legitimacy of their unconscionable views in a perpetual bubble of support and encouragement. It’s what I call “conservative privilege.”
I want a world where every time some douchebro (or douchesis?) spews something racist, sexist, homophobic, transantagonistic, ableist, rapey, deadly, dehumanizing, etc. etc., some other coolbro (ideally coolbros and coolsisses) shuts that shit down immediately with CBF (Cat Butt Face) and “STFU or GTFO.” And since I’m fantasizing, with a heavy dose of scathing mockery.
DOUCHEBRO: Look at that fucking n*gger.
COOLBRO(S): WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. You sound like a racist piece of shit. Don’t ever say that word around here.
DOUCHEBRO: Look at that fucking d*ke/f*ggot.
COOLBRO(S): WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. You sound like a homophobic piece of shit. Don’t ever say that word around here.
DOUCHEBRO: Look at that fucking r*tard.
COOLBRO(S): WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. You sound like an ableist piece of shit. Don’t ever say that word around here.
DOUCHEBRO: That hot chick looks totally wasted. I’ma drive that home and hit that. Heh.
COOLBRO(S): WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. That’s rape, you disgusting piece of shit. If I see you go anywhere near her I will have you thrown out of here. [BONUS: alerts bartender and checks on woman to ensure she has safe way home.]
That is how culture shifts.
We will probably always have violent bigots of every stripe among us. We cannot afford to legitimize them. That is precisely what makes the Trump candidacy so dangerous. [<- TW for every goddamn thing at that link.]
The following is a post by my friend and Freethought Blogs colleague Nathan Hevenstone. Nate requested that it be reposted far and wide. I am happy to oblige.
Just when I thought I could start posting lighter stuff…
Cops shoot, kill woman barricaded with little boy wounded in Baltimore standoff (I don’t know if the video in the link shows the shooting… I can’t get it to play. I’m sorry. Be wary just in case.)
In a fit of road rage, Anthony Vigilotti pointed a handgun directly at a police officer, but was arrested later that day without incident. From his mugshot, it doesn’t even look like he received a scratch in the process.
Jed Frazier pointed his handgun directly at police, but “officers and medics took shelter and continued to make contact with Frazier. Shortly before 3 a.m. Police say they broke the windows in the truck and extricated Frazier. Frazier was treated for minor injuries before being taken to the Lawrence County Jail.”
In a quick search, I found a dozen similar stories from July alone. White men, be they mass shooters like Dylann Roof (Charleston), James Holmes (Aurora), or Jared Lee Loughner (Tucson) — or men like William Bruce Ray, Anthony Vigilotti, or Jed Frazier — all live to face a jury of their peers.
Korryn Gaines doesn’t have a violent history. She was a cosmetologist and, according to her friends and family, a doting mother. She should’ve received the treatment that all of those armed white men received. Somehow, in each of those cases, police found in their hearts to overcome their fears without unloading their guns on those men.
That’s white privilege.
It should be noted that at least 682 people have been murdered by the police this year.
I first started giving more thought to the phenomenon of erasure in 2013, after hearing talks from Susan Jacoby and Jennifer Michael Hecht at CFI’s Women in Secularism 2 conference (yes, that one). Both presentations touched on the stories and accomplishments of women being written out of narratives in favor of men’s, a well-documented and observable manifestation of male privilege. A woman’s erasure turns out to be even more likely when she is a nonbeliever or otherwise unorthodox (Christian/conservative privilege); similarly, atheist men also tend to be erased from historical narratives in favor of believers (same).
Erasure of racial, sexual and other minorities should be too obvious to need mentioning, but I will mention a few off of the top of my head*:
As with all modes of privilege, for those with intersectional identities the likelihood of erasure is compounded. And as with all modes of privilege, erasure is self-perpetuating.
Image via The Love Life Of An Asian Guy.
I am ashamed to admit that in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Alva Braziel and the police shootings in Dallas I have felt so overwhelmed, angry, sad, helpless and unable to concentrate long enough to write coherently about them or the larger context surrounding them. I say “ashamed,” because I am aware that my reaction is a speck of dust compared to the universe of pain, rage, injustice and fear in which black people are forced to dwell in this country 24/7/365. No matter how much I may be reeling, I can always check out, post goofy shit for sale on the Internet, cry into my cocktail and generally go along on my merry way. There is no fucking escape for them.
I felt some measure of relief when I read this post by my friend Dana Hunter. It’s a compilation of practical actions that all of us can take to help turn this sorry state of affairs around—and turn it around we must. I don’t know about you, but it helps me to process grief by doing something specific that is asked of me by those more directly affected, even the smallest action, even if I am pessimistic about it making any difference at all. The fact is, it’s worth doing not only because it makes me feel productive and useful, but because all great movements for change require countless small actions by countless people, most of them unseen and unsung. These things add up. Mere drops in the ocean form the great wave.
With Dana’s kind permission, I am sharing her post here in its entirety.
Some of you may know Tony as a frequent and frequently excellent commenter at various sites on FtB. He now blogs ferociously at The Orbit. As a gay black atheist living in Florida, Tony is subject to multiple intersectional marginalizations that many of us will never experience, and of course the crap economy only amplifies these effects. He has been struggling off and on with joblessness (although there is a bright spot of hope on that front in the not-too-distant future), and is a few hundred dollars short on his rent this month. If I can help it, I would not like to see “homeless” added to his burdens.
I know that times are tough for many of us, and no one should feel obligated to give what they do not have. But if you can spare just a few dollars, they really do add up. Despite the ugliness that plagues our movement on a regular basis, there is also goodness and strength in this community. I think it’s important to put our social justice talk into action when it really counts, such as when one of our own finds himself in need.
Please donate whatever you can to Tony via PayPal here.
And Tony has another problem you can help with: he likes squirrels. I KNOW RIGHT. I have been trying desperately to enlighten him on this urgent matter before the coming Squirrelpocalypse, but he remains under the spell of the enemy rodent menace and has so far proven resistant to my pleas.
So when you donate via PayPal, there is a space below the amount that says “Write a note (Optional).”
Make it good. :D
[CONTENT NOTE: suicide.]
I woke up this lovely morning to a news alert from The Washington Post about soaring suicide rates in the U.S.:
The U.S. suicide rate has increased sharply since the turn of the century, led by an even greater rise among middle-aged white people, particularly women, according to federal data released Friday.
Well, not exactly. Ten paragraphs later, we learn that Native Americans and Alaska Natives have seen an even greater rate of increased suicides than whites. There’s even a colorful graphic and everything:
One of the things I love most about this city is that it is constantly recycling itself. If you’re a fan of urban hiking, you can walk the same streets day after day and almost always discover something new. Sometimes you notice something old that somehow escaped your attention. And sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you get yelled at by the police for taking pictures with your iPhone in a public fucking building.
On Friday I had some business at the New York County court house at 60 Centre Street. The subways on the West side don’t get you very close, so when you come up from the station on Chambers Street you have to zig and zag your way North and East for several blocks. I guess I had never taken this particular path before, or at least not for a long time, because I stumbled on something striking: the African Burial Ground National Monument.