Tuesday, January 16

I Fell Out of Bed

Each day I wake around noon, start some coffee, see Rachel off to work, and stare at the empty white space where I should type blog entries. Sometimes I fill the space with pictures- which always feels like cheating- sometimes I fill it with depressing thoughts on the horrible state of the world. The pictures are always published, the depressing thoughts always end up deleted.

Why is this? I feel as if I have something valuable to add. None of it is new, but much of it is certainly worthwhile: "Stop killing each other" and "When is wealthy wealthy-enough". I guess I don't want to sound like Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along?" Is it right, though, to ignore his sentiment just because a cynical America laughed at him? King's beating by L.A.P.D. officers was a terrible crime and abuse of power. How did America react? We made him the butt of late night talk show jokes. We took another step down a bad road, deeper into cynicism, and cynicism has become part of our national character.

I suppose it doesn't help that we feel so helpless in the face of a justice system that acquits the officers involved in the beating. That was fifteen years ago and the Los Angeles riots sparked by the incident are still very much a part of popular culture: America is still digesting the rage and ineffectual violence of April 1992. Unfortunately, the process is carried out by sitcoms (The Office) and Arnold Schwarzenegger comedies (Jingle All the Way). Are we laughing so as not to cry?

A more recent example of flawed justice: Rachel and I had to appear in West Columbia's Municipal Court to pay a ticket for driving with a burned out headlight. We fixed the thing before our court date, brought the receipt, and paid a $20 fee. While we were waiting for our turn, though, we watched a parade of petty criminals (bad-check writers, video-rental scofflaws, etc.) pass by the bench. One case was a couple of young kids who were busted in their own home for simple possession of marijuana. They were each fined $500 and had to spend 30 days in jail. They broke the law and paid the price, I understand how that works. What I don't understand is this: five minutes later a guy stood before the judge on a charge of spousal abuse. It was his second offense and he was fined $75 plus the same $20 fee we had to pay for court costs. WTF? Two kids (around 19 years old) smoking a joint in their own home pay ten times the fine of a wife beater and get 30 days? It was the wife-beater's second offense! Why is he still walking the streets?

Rachel and I left the court room in disgust. We could talk of nothing else for days afterward. A year and half later and I am still pissed about that, but I also have to think, "No wonder I am a cynic." I only have to extend that feeling to a nation that has seen so many similar cases of injustice and no wonder we are an America that laughs at Rodney King, that laughs at AIDS jokes, and cries too seldom when terrible things happen to decent people.

So, no South Korea pictures today... just my naive, bleeding heart.

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