Tag Archives: violence

About today in Charlottesville…

When I was a “younger lad”… 14 or 15, maybe? The cops picked me up one night when they found me spray-painting anti-Nazi graffiti on the back of a building. I don’t remember much about the political climate of those days because I don’t even remember specifically when those days were, just that I was a younger, less risk-averse version of my current self – but I do remember that there weren’t any Nazis marching through the streets of Virginia at the time.

And now, there are.

As an adult who used to be a kid who used to tag anti-Nazi graffiti on the back of buildings (when I didn’t even have Nazis around to show it to) what’s the law abiding, responsibility-having version of myself supposed to do about the current state of affairs?

The most saddening and immediate thing that I feel obliged to do… since some of my newer friends didn’t know that teenager that I was, and maybe all they know about me is that I’m a white, 30-something male who lives in Virginia… is to state publicly: unlike those other white, 30-something males, who marched through Virginia today spewing Nazi hatred & violence – I think racism, xenophobia, white supremacy and Nazism are disgusting and have no lawful place in our society.

Now that I’ve gotten out in front of the ambiguity surrounding who these dipshits are, and hopefully distanced myself adequately, the next step, I think, is to acknowledge what’s going on – no easy feat. How is this happening? What world am I living in, where in 2017 Nazis are marching through the streets of Charlottesville? Where I feel the need to digitally wave an “I’m Not a Nazi” flag? I don’t know, I can’t explain. But it’s happening, and letting that sink in is the first step.

So with acknowledgment and denunciation accomplished… how can I help stop these ideas from spreading? My first instinct (resting dormant since I was that 14 or 15-year-old kid) is to grab a baseball bat, hop in the car, drive to Charlottesville, and swing until it lands on the face of the first pig-fucking racist I see… but over the years I’ve developed a passable capacity for restraint, along with a few critical thinking skills that lead me to believe turning that feeling into action isn’t an appropriate long-term solution.

I’m not sure what the collective response to today should be. But I know that part of it should be to speak out, to let everyone that I’m capable of communicating with know what I think:

Nazis are bad. The fact that I have to remind anyone of that, something definitively established half a century ago, is embarrassing and sad. That they are marching through local communities is also bad, embarrassing, and sad. The hateful and racist ideology promoted by these people does not represent real American values. They hide behind a warped sense of patriotism.

I guess, for now, fellow Virginians… be aware that this is, unfortunately, a thing that is happening, and it needs your attention.

Please be resolute in denouncing it at any and all opportunities to do so.

on Violence

A few weeks ago I was trying to rationalize my desire to see the new Batman film in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado tragedy.

Why entertain myself with violence, when it’s so sad in reality?

I have always been a fan of Batman. Comics anchored me during the storms of adolescence, and I took from them the idea that whatever life’s circumstances, I should have faith in justice. I spent many 5th grade afternoons soaking in the stories of greatness, honor, and beauty.

Last weekend, I was out with a friend and we were involved in a very minor car accident – a taxi stopped abruptly in front of us, and we rear-ended it. As we paused to exchange information with the driver, a passenger got out of the taxi and instigated an argument with us, and then hit me. A fight broke out, and when the police arrived, the taxi driver gave a statement that his passenger had initiated the conflict, and he was put in handcuffs and arrested.

This is not the kind of thing that happens to me on a regular basis – but it reminded me, after wondering earlier about the purpose of violent stories like Batman, that violence is real. It really happens to people, even when they aren’t looking for it.  Stories like Batman remind us that there are people who will use violence as a tool for self-validation (criminals) and there are people who use it (correctly) in defense of the rest of us.

When the Colorado shooter’s infatuation with Batman was reported, I worried about potential blame being placed on the film for the unfathomably ugly crime.

I was relieved that most of the discourse taking place after the tragedy shared my sentiment – that Batman is an expression of hope and good, and can not be held responsible for murder and despair.