The fraternity boys were at the Laketown Wharf Resort at Panama City Beach, Fla., at the same time as a group of disabled veterans. The boys pissed and puked off the balconies and spit on the veterans and made taunting comments about them screwing their service pooches. A week earlier, three college boys were arrested for gang raping an out-of-it woman on the beach while a hundred onlookers stood by and watched. The woman did not remember the rape, but she was shown a video of the proceedings and recognized that the tatoos on the victim were hers.
In the same town, during spring break, a party resulted in the shooting of seven celebrating students. Across the country in Santa Barbara, Calif., six police officers were injured, dozens were hospitalized, and a hundred were arrested when a college party turned into a "civil disturbance."
The U.S. and many other "advanced" nations have an extensive history of college student celebrations turning into riots complete with pillaging, looting, rape, and murder. Black students are included in some of these incidents. However, when black kids get involved, conservative publications print stories entitled:
The demonstrations in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody has produced the same kind of journalistic response. When the peaceful demonstrations turned violent, the media, with CNN leading the yammer charge, turned to examinations of why demonstrations involving African Americans turn violent. Of course, they ignore the fact that many gatherings for ostensibly peaceful purposes, as during spring breaks, turn violent no matter what races are involved. In response to the use of the word "thugs" in characterizing those who went violent, a Baltimore councilman told a CNN host that you might as well use the word niggers. He was noting that "thugs" is synonym for the terms to which people of claimed delicacy take offense. Gov. Scott Walker and his minions used the term "union thugs: when he took away the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other government employees. The Baltimore councilman is linguistically more sophisticated than the CNN hosts, whose major qualification for their jobs is that their brain be firmly and irretrievably located well up the lower colon.
Certainly, when demonstrations in behalf of justice and human rights turn violent, the demonstrations are compromised. Violence subverts the purpose of the demonstrations and closes off any opportunities to communicate intelligently and effectively about the issues that need resolution. Rage quickly displaces good intentions. On the other hand, in the history of America, people do not understand issues under protest unless they are expressed in violent terms. Nothing cracks the lid of oppression like rioting, destruction, and killing. While some Americans may make a great issue of the choice of words, words are used to evade the reality of issues at hand. Violence is the language Americans understand. Words are useless, except when a word like "nigger" cuts through the obfuscation;
The demonstrations in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., are in response to something that is endemic in African American communities: black people, and other people of color or some stigmatized status are very frequently killed, beaten, and otherwise violated by the police. Many, if not most, of the incidents are excused as the police doing their jobs.
When the police use violence, they are "serving and protecting," but when the oppressed and disparaged turn to violence they are threatening all of civilization. The huge and devastating irony comes from NRA and those who see the right to bear arms as the means to keep a predatory government at bay and quell it, if necessary. Black communities and Indian reservations have experienced the arm of predatory and repressive government reaching into their lives through police departments and other law enforcement agencies. They have histories which can be used to justify their violent reactions on the basis that they are resisting an intrusive and oppressive government. Gun violence is a main concern in black communities, but one must wonder what can happen if they are armed with semi-automatic assault weapons with large capacity magazines, such as those used in the mass shootings at Aurora, Colo., and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
No one advocates violence. But when young people gather for reasons both benign and malicious, it breaks out. And it does get attention in ways that words and peaceful demonstrations do not. America has lost its ability to make words count. It has lost the critical ability to distinguish language of manipulation from language that names and designates reality. The news media has given up the recording and reporting of situations and events for the constant exchange of opinions which generally have little basis in reality.
No one advocates violence, but our culture has left little option to redress grievances in any other way. Verbal registering of complaints is typified as whining.
So, America, here come the thugs.