Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Damn Skippy

Sketchy beige dudes...

When news came of two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, America spent a prim hour hoping it was a gas leak or some other ill-timed infrastructure failure, and then dove straight into speculation. Who would do such a thing, and why? Was this the act of a random psychotic, or an organized one? People were rumored to be "hoping" it was a certain kind of person. And then came the recriminations. It is not proper to hope the perpetrators fit a certain stereotype. We were told this, even though the scolders, without a doubt, had their preferences too.

It's human nature. We pore through the murder stories for clues that will permit us to carry on as usual. Oh, that happened in that part of town where the different people live, so I'm not going to die.  Or, that was a domestic violence situation, and nobody in my family is crazy in that particular way, so I'm not going to die. In that same vein, we might wish that our Boston terrorist is a fatty who has it in for runners. But we know that's unlikely.

...with a backpack
I'm imagining that there are people who watched the plumes rise over Boston, and wished it was a Muslim trying to promote chaos for reasons we do not feel compelled to understand, beyond that they are evil, and we are not. Some people are comforted by being able to assign other people to a slot of some sort, one they've already set up in their heads: the nickels go here, the dimes go over there. And then there are the people who were heard admitting "I hope it's a white guy with a grudge against the government." This also was considered a deplorable statement.

So deplore this. I totally hoped it was a white guy, ideally Donald Trump, but if not him, a good ole American white guy named Joe or Skippy. Looked like I was going to get my wish there, at first, but it emerged it was a pair of guys who were at best whitish, and their names were all wrong, and damned if they didn't turn out to be Muslims too.

Why would I hope it was Skippy? All nuts are the same to me. No one has a good reason to blow
people up. There are parts of the world where people are being blown up routinely, but we tend to think they must be sort of used to it--they're not like us; it's the sort of thing that happens in that other neighborhood, far away from ours. And even if they're being blown up by bombs we're paying for, it doesn't count against us, because we don't mean it: our hearts are pure.

So I thought that if we could pin this on Skippy, we might be able to contain the carnage. There are too many of us who do not feel complete without vengeance, and some of us are well satisfied with anyone's blood. We are majorly put out. We will knock over our own citizens if they're dark enough, or if they dress funny. Or we'll mob up and sanction a war against an entire country. There might be one all ready to go, on the drawing boards, a war motivated by greed or profit or vainglory or a combination, and all it takes is a righteous mob of us to go along with it and it's a done deal. People will die. Ours, and theirs too, whatever that distinction is supposed to mean on this tiny planet.

But if it turns out to be Skippy and his arsenal and his feud with the Department of Motor Vehicles and his itch for power, it will die down. We liberals will mock him over our microbrews, and we'll rig up a scathing, grammatically perfect poster and pass it around on facebook, and we'll shake our heads over him at parties Skippy's friends aren't invited to.

But we won't bomb Idaho.

43 comments:

  1. I can't say that I was hoping it would be any stereotype but I thought it would turn out to be another skin head nut. It's interesting that none of the bombing stereotypes are black people, at least not African black. I can see the perpetrator being a black woman who says, "Fuck this! I'm tired of being at the bottom end of the crapper."

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    1. It always strikes me as being akin to an elaborate tantrum, no matter who does it.

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    2. Akin to an elaborate tantrum - that's a good analogy. Mummy/ daddy/ the government/ the bigshots won't let me do such and such. Bomb the bastards!

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    3. Don'tcha think? Really? It can't be much different. It's a little kid throwing his bowl of oatmeal across the room to see how much of a mess he can make, all by himself.

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  2. Whomever it ends up being, such an act is the part of deeply demented person who may or may not be helped with drugs. You are so correct in pointing out this kind of thing happens with extreme regularity in other parts of the world. Are homo sapiens becoming more violent. Some fight just broke out in the Venezuelan parliament for cripes sake!

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    1. Believe it or not, humans are getting less violent. The global per capita death rates from war and murder have been decreasing fairly steadily for thousands of years, even when phenomena like World War II are taken into account. Hunter-gatherer societies live with death rates from violence that we could barely imagine. Don't despair just because we haven't totally eliminated it yet.

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    2. Well poo, now how are we going to get the population down?

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  3. How did you figure out it was Skippy? He kept a low profile, didn't he? It's all those dang camera everywhere. They musta seen him in the crowd.

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    1. All I know is I do have a pretty good alibi for the sketchy dudes in the photos.

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  4. Are you absolutely sure we shouldn't bomb Idaho, or at least all those white-supremacist encampments? I mean, it's worth a try.

    The Tsarnaev brothers came from Chechnya which we can't bomb because it's part of Russia, although the Russians have also had some problems with Chechen terrorists blowing things up, when they let their control slip for a few years.

    These guys seem to have been perfectly OK until Tamerlan decided he really believed in Islam. All these kinds of problems come from people believing in things. Maybe we should deport Dzhokar to Pakistan, where there are so many believers blowing up so many things all the time that he would pretty much pass unnoticed.

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    1. Just heard a piece on NPR where a reporter familiar with certain jihadists said they weren't at all observant; didn't fast during Ramadan, etc. There are probably all kinds of reasons to blow things up, and I suspect some perpetrators have as much in common with the local dude who shoots up the DMV as they do with holy warriors.

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  5. Would that there were more folks like the Tsarnaev brothers' uncle who loudly denounced his nephews' actions and said they were a disgrace to Chechnya and a disgrace to Islam. Had it been some random Presbyterians who had done this, I don't think other Presbyterians would hesitate to condemn the perpetrator as having completely misinterpreted the tenets of Presbyterianism.

    Damn, Skippy.

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    1. AR AR AR! And now I have "anytwo five elevenis" going through my head.

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  6. It really IS a tiny planet, isn't it - have you seen any of Canadian Chris Hadfield's clips from the space station in the past couple of months? He really knows how to get this across, as well as just generally make science fun. (search for: Chris Hadfield in space, and you'll find him)

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    1. I will look tomorrow. When I wake up. Thanks.

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  7. My hubby and I immediately guessed it was disaffected white guys who happened to be college students. We got that last detail right, but drat, this plays into the hands of the anti-Muslim crowd again.

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    1. I know, and they's scary. But people seem to be a little calmer this time around. Lindsey Graham excepted.

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  8. We had a terrible explosion in West Texas, that killed 14 innocent people, by an all American chemical plant.. On premise they had 1350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that was allowed by law... Although it was big new, it did not get the coverage of Boston... Does this count as White Man Terrorism? Most of the broken laws are not being talked about.. It will result I'm sure in lawsuits but you won't see anyone go to prison for it. Where is the justice.

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    1. You get the justice you can afford. Texas ain't big on regulation, as I recall. Did they get everyone accounted for?

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  9. Yes, and in the same week I believe that there were carbombs which killed and maimed several hundred people, an earthquake and, of course, the West, TX explosion. Not to make light of those killed or injured in the Marathon incident, but so many are hurt and killed in other places that we just are so dang ho-hum about. It takes a kettle of bolts to raise our ire. Sad all around.

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    1. I love my country but I hate patriotism. Squinty-eyed, weird view of the world.

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  10. Well said.. as always. Homegrown craziness is just as deadly as any other.

    Nick's "Anyone for tenets?" cracked me up.

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    1. Aw. If you come to me and sing "Did I ever tell you you're my hero," I'll know just what to say.

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  12. When I heard about the bombings my first thought was "ah geez! Why?", then "I hope no one is hurt".
    I didn't much care who had done it apart from thinking they'd better get punished somehow.

    I really love those cute little sketchy beige dudes, they're adorable.

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    1. They truly are. They like to think of themselves as having more of an edge, but people can see right through them.

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  13. Thanks for your thoughts and I loved reading the comments. I work in Boston and had friends running that day. My son alerted me to what happened when he called to tell me he wasn't in the area (he lives/works there). I proud of the city and the way it reacted, but I'm saddened that a few kids had so much anger and hate in them that they destroyed lives, including their own. Even sadder, I got so caught up in what was happening (seeing armed police/soldiers on every corner, getting locked into my office on Friday) that I almost missed what was happening everywhere else. My heart breaks for the people in West, Texas and the victims of the earthquake ... and the bombings in other parts of the world.
    I've recently found your blog and it's pure enjoyment. thank you for sharing your thoughts

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    1. I'm glad you tripped on over here. Say hi to Boston for me. I lived there from '74 to '76.

      You do wonder where all the hate comes from. A lot of times, I have the feeling it comes from something in their own childhoods, and they're just a step up and a few years away from drowning cats and things; and that goes for the bigwig warmongers, too.

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  14. Dear Murr, you speak so articulately and passionately the words that I feel but do not utter. Thank you. And thank you, also, for helping me sort my own frayed thoughts about all this. The fear of being different, the need to be us and not them, the insularity of it all are threaded through the fabric of culture. Slowly, every so slowly, change comes--generations are born and die and change comes. Seldom do we really get to see the realization of that change and its consequences and we need people like you--seers--to detail the implications of change so that we might choose to embrace wholeness. One of the changes taking place now in the United States is the acceptance of gay marriage. It's time has come. But,oh, the journey has been long and arduous for gay men and lesbian women. Peace.

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    1. We are seeing a lot of good changes, socially. Sometimes I can't really tell, though. I'm in a bit of a bubble here in Portland. I don't know how much it translates to the rest of the country/world.

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  15. Thank you for writing a piece I wished, but was unable, to write myself. Maybe we should declare you a national treasure.

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    1. You get plaque all the time. It's what you floss to prevent.

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  16. These days, I always hope it's a white guy. Preferably a fundamentalist Christian white guy.

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    1. Better the crazy you know, than the crazy you don't know.

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  17. Damn skippy, sister. However, not too sure about the "grammatically perfect" posters, which as an editor, I am constantly cringing over. But anyway, back to vengeance. It's not mine.

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  18. I recognize Pootie, and he is decidedly a sketchy beige dude. Who's his chum?

    I wish there were some sort of answer to get all the cookoos out of the nest at one time. Unfortunately, we have to deal with them bird by bird. And be careful not to hatch more crazies while we're at it.

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    1. Pootie's best friend is Hajerle, who used to live with my sister Margaret.

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