COMING SOON TO A PANT NEAR YOU

Posted in Rants on July 21st, 2010 by Ed

(Caveat: I am in a wedding this week, one that requires interstate travel. First of all, congratulations to commenter Scott – who would have thought that purchasing a Chechen mail order bride would work out this well? Second, I don't anticipate any interruption in posting but I might be a little…curt.)

Oh boy. Call your stockbroker and see if you can go short on pants, because there is about to be a whole new torrent of right wing pant-soiling and race-driven hysteria.

The DOJ is prosecuting post-Katrina vigilante shootings, apparently believing the craaaaazy idea that heavily armed white southerners with itchy trigger fingers operating on no sleep in a lawless environment might just start plugging every black guy they saw, with or without cause. I mean, that would never happen, would it?

Spike Lee's excellent When the Levees Broke films surprisingly skirted this issue, although Douglas Brinkley's even more excellent book The Great Deluge discussed it in some depth: many survivors told of experiences with vigilante/survivalist types who were really excited to shoot someone. Like, "Finally law and order have collapsed. I've always wanted to shoot a black guy!" excited. That attitude, combined with the degradation of judgment that accompanies a few hungry and sleepless days in a disaster zone, no doubt produced a number of shootings of…dubious legality.

As disturbing as citizen-on-citizen violence is – whether it's one person looting or another person shooting everyone he thinks is about to loot him – the mindset bothers me even more. We are all justifiably disgusted when someone looks at a natural disaster as an opportunity to burglarize a liquor store. We didn't hear nearly as much indignation at the number of Louisiana and Mississippi residents who looked at the same disaster as the long-awaited chance to enact their Mad Max fantasies. The media vent tons of hot air about thieves stealing Plasma TVs and none whatsoever over home- or business owners who think it gives them carte blanche to use their hoarded weapons however they please. Especially when what they please is to plug "anyone darker than a paper bag" to quote one of the charming indicted Louisianans.