I did my best to try to subject David Brooks' latest to a proper FJM Treatment, but I couldn't. I've done Brooks too many times (phrasing) and his column is too mean, condescending, and deceptive to be a source of any real humor. This kind of shit just isn't funny anymore. If you're interested you can read up on how every number he cites in his piece is either distorted or flat-out fabricated, but I just couldn't get past this paragraph. It killed all the funny. I don't like to be Brooks' favorite creature – the Very Serious Person – but I did a serious face and it ruined any attempt to make this enjoyable.
Despite all these efforts, there are too many young men leading lives like the one Gray led. He was apparently a kind-hearted, respectful, popular man, but he was not on the path to upward mobility. He won a settlement for lead paint poisoning. According to The Washington Post, his mother was a heroin addict who, in a deposition, said she couldn’t read. In one court filing, it was reported that Gray was four grade levels behind in reading. He was arrested more than a dozen times.
Here is where we introduce David Brooks to the novel idea that even people who are not on the path to upward mobility deserve to not be killed by the police.
Look, this is how poverty works. That's why anyone who knows their ass from the Grand Canyon calls it a "cycle." Freddie Gray, like 9 out of 10 males growing up in a shit neighborhood have, had a criminal record. Petty drug stuff for the most part, which is to be expected once young men realize that selling weed / making meth / etc is about 1000% more lucrative than any other financial opportunity available to them. It's not, as an old white person like David Brooks might say, like Freddie Gray was slitting old ladies' throats in alleys for thrills. There is nothing to suggest that he was a Bad Person, just another person who had to raise himself predictably taking to a life in the gray market economy.
But here's the thing: none of that matters. Poverty – and say this part as Tim Curry's character in Clue talking about Communism – is just David Brooks' red herring. It doesn't matter if Freddie Gray was an altar boy who spent his spare time saving endangered owls or the second coming of the Boston Strangler. There is no excuse for him dying in police custody. Wonderful, rich, upwardly mobile people don't deserve that. Poor, evil people wallowing in the underclass don't deserve it either. That's what someone like Brooks can't grasp, the idea that a person's social status and life experience should not dictate the kind of treatment afforded them by a system that is supposedly blind, impartial, and fair.