Honest, I do NOT want to keep writing about this ‘stand your ground’ stuff. But I declare, it seems like every twenty minutes something completely predictable and completely stupid happens–and what’s the point of having a blog if you can’t take a moment out of the day to point out the effect stupidity has on the world around us?
You might have heard about the series of shootings in Tulsa Oklahoma over the weekend. A couple of white guys drove through a predominantly black neighborhood the night before Easter and shot five random black guys, killing three of them. Two men–Alvin Watts and Jake England–have been arrested and charged with the crimes. The motive appears to be generally racist and generically vengeful. The shootings took place on the second anniversary of the killing of England’s father. The man who shot and killed England’s father was black; he wasn’t charged with murder because Oklahoma is another ‘stand your ground’ state and he claimed self-defense.
But stupid appears to be in unlimited supply. There are people who see all these unrelated shootings as engagements in some undeclared race war being implemented by President Obama. I’m not kidding–there are folks actually claiming that. Here are four examples taken directly from four different members of freerepublic.com:
“Much like the ‘War on Terror’, there won’t be any actual declaration that the race war has begun. Just a series of incidents like this. The number of incidents will grow and then a spark will set off a riot in a city or a number of cities.”
“This race riot that Obama and Holder started is sickening. I feel so sorry for all my friends in America that remember what our country used to be.”
“It’s just what Obama wanted too. Another way to divide the country, and this is all part of his grand re-election scheme. Think about it, if he loses he’ll blame all the racist whites and spark the final wave of a giant race war in this country.”
“It’s a been a small scale guerrilla war for now. The shootings in Tulsa show that the whites have begun to engage. Look out this summer. A hot summer, high gas and food prices, possible government shutdown over the debt ceiling, war in the mid east, financial meltdown in Europe. Throw in a presidential campaign where the incumbent seems perfectly comfortable orchestrating a racial Götterdämmerung. They’ll be lucky to keep the trucks rolling and the interstates open.”
These folks are as unhinged as the people who keep declaring the world is going to end on a specific date. They’ve been predicting race wars and religious wars and communist invasions across the Mexican border and other lunatic apocalyptic crises for half a century. It’s always on the verge of happening–and even though it never does happen, these folks are waiting for it. They’re armed and prepared and waiting.
And the really truly stupid thing about all this–the stupid conspiracy theories, the stupid laws, the stupid shootings–is that they’re all grounded in nothing but free-floating fear. It’s a volatile feedback loop: stupidity leads to fear, fear leads to a desire for protection, that desire leads to stupid laws based on fear and the stupid belief that guns are a solution, easy access to guns makes lethal violence more likely, lethal violence leads to more fear, and the green grass grows all around, all around.
Stupid. Stupid piled on stupid, piled on still more stupid. Stupid is George Zimmerman following Trayvon Martin because he ‘looks suspicious.’ Stupid is a law that allows Zimmerman to legally shoot that young man. Stupid is a pair of guys ‘avenging’ a death by randomly shooting people who are the same general color of a person who committed an earlier stupid act of violence.
It’s so easy to be stupid. And stupid is so hard to root out.