Thursday, August 07, 2003

Illegal Walking
by Skald

While living in Greenville, SC I would often go for late -night walks... just out for a stroll. I was stopped SEVERAL times by police... for walking on the sidewalk! They questioned me, demanded ID, and ran a check each time. They were rude and belligerent. The thing is, I look like a clean cut Aryan. Just imagine the treatment I'd have gotten if I'd had long hair, or dark skin, or ratty clothes, or a beard,.. or looked Arab or Seikh or Gypsy or Latino. This sort of thing happens all the time, but is never reported. Instead, the news is filled with scary black men & Latinos to keep the suburbanites afraid and docile! And just watch prime-time TV sometime... look at the overwhelming number of Cop shows: Law & Order (with multiple versions), CSI, NYPD Blue, etc.... all
filled with scary poor people, helpless victims, and, of course, the tough, noble police-- the only force protecting us all from the Barbarian hordes of homeless, drug dealers, gangsters, cultist, serial killers,.....

I thought Micheal Moore captured that sense of American paranoia quite well in "Bowling for Columbine".

There is an optimistic flip side to all this-- all this paranoia and fear is artificially created. For most folks there is a natural fear of the unknown and the strange... but it takes vast amounts of propaganda (aka American TV, Nazi disinformation,..) to amplify this normal suspicion and truly terrify/enrage large numbers of people. Which is to say, I still think most folks are basically decent (though willfully ignorant and gullible). Truthfully, most suburbanites have never met a homeless person (or poor black person,....) and have never been a victim of violent crime. Their fears have NOTHING to do with actual experience-- they are a media phenomenon. Insulated in their suburbs, they are living in a TV world of spooks and psychopaths and have no idea what the world is really like.

I'm always amused when I see a homeless person approach some suit & tie couple. The poor guy shuffles up, head low, looking pitiful.... spouting out some bullshit story about his car being broken. Annoying? Maybe. But what's so funny (and tragic) is the look of startled terror on the rich folks faces.... looks of panic... looks of fear. They practically run from the guy! I'm sure they're thinking he'll pull out a shotgun any minute!

I've noticed they react similiarly to people with tatoos, black or Latino males, and anyone who looks scruffy. So while these folks may imagine themselves as corporate masters of the universe,... they are some of the most terrified and emasculated souls ever to walk the earth.

For this reason, I think Thoreau was right-- you don't really own your money-- it owns you,.. and in the process corrupts you into a petty, ignorant, fearful husk of a human.

So, despite our lack of power & money, I'd say we have the better end of the deal .

No comments: