Here are the lines of Sean Penn, playing convicted murderer in Helen Pejean’s film “Dead Man Walking”. With some of his last words he addresses the parents of the victim:
“…l hope my death gives you some relief.
l just want to say…
…l think killing is wrong…
…no matter who does it.
Whether it’s me, or y’all, or your government.”
I’m thinking about pinning a medal on a soldier who killed “a bad guy” in the Middle-East. I’m thinking of Ferguson and what distinguishes good killing from bad killing. It seems the way the system works that depends on who is doing the killing and who is “deserving to die.”
The way authority has dealt with racism is to consider the color of the skin as a signal that they are the “OTHER”. As such, they can be possible threats to the status quo. In fact the courts and law enforcement deal with it that way. This is equally true with the military, who by labeling the enemy Muslim or the “OTHER”, they automatically become a threat to the system.
Built into this perverse psychology is the idea of pre-emption, if they’re bad why wait until they do something bad to you? In Ferguson, the violence, as seen in the burning of some buildings is good for television and bad for a legitimate objection to a system that is not working for many, many people. Much of this violence can only be maintained by a government which keeps you in fear:
Muslims in the Middle-East threaten our security. So for a good cause we war on them. If boots on the ground is unpopular, we do have drones and trained and armed mercenaries.
Designated ‘bad guys’ say how they want to do bad things to us, so why wait?
The big story at Ferguson is that protesters are violent and will, if not controlled by militarized police, threaten the state. There is no question that this is a relationship of forces when you see National Guard, when you see police outfitted with full military gear. When Homeland Security is involved. The system now is over sensitive.
We better start dealing with some of the basic problems of our society. As for the voice of the people, it has to be expressed non-violently.
Killing is bad. Whether I do it, or you do it, or the government does it.