Monday, August 10, 2015

What do you hear?

I was reading about the disruption of the Bernie Sanders event in Seattle this weekend by two women who might or might not be part of the official Black Lives Matter movement depending on who you listen to. They are either disgruntled activists who saw an opportunity to reach the mainly white, highly liberal, audience that Sanders draws and point out that just using a hashtag doesn't mean they are doing anything to make things better. Or they could be really misguided people who feel strongly about their cause but are alienating the very group that is doing their best to further those same issues along with a candidate whose civil rights stances are verified and bonafide. Or they could be members of OA 206 who use the phrase black lives matter but aren't really part of the organization Black Lives Matter and are trying for some of the same agenda but in very different ways. Or they might be plants for either the Clinton campaign who is feeling the Bern or secret Republican operatives who are trying to make sure the Democratic party collapses under infighting like it did from the late 60s through well... the male Clinton? Though Carter was in there for a hot second...And then there is the whole idea of where OA 206 actually gets their funding if they are from OA 206 which makes the whole conspiracy theory take another turn... depends on what you are reading on what happened.

I don't know which of these narratives is the right one. I have a hard time believing conspiracy theories. My brain just isn't wired that way. But the people who are talking about that angle make some good points. The fact that a majority of Black Lives Matters activists are distancing themselves from this. The fact that even though there is a really active group in Seattle there were only two women who took the stage. The fact that Bernie Sanders drew almost 30,000 people to a rally in Portland the next day and that has to be worrisome to the Clinton campaign.

I don't know what the truth is. I'm not sure when or if we will know what really led those two women to hijack the event. I'll wait until there is more clear information before I make a judgement.

Another story hitting my radar right now is about Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks. There is a rape investigation against him and so of course there is a 45/45 split of people screaming either that woman is OBVIOUSLY lying because he's a sports star and just won the Stanley Cup for keerist's sake...and the other side screaming that OBVIOUSLY he did it because he's a professional athlete who thinks he can get away with anything he wants to. And then there is a small 10% saying ... ummm... well, we don't know yet what happened. Why don't we do the whole presumed innocent until proven guilty thing we are supposed to do? And I mean that on both sides. Let's not presume she's a (and I quote) "money grabbing whore" or that he is a "rapist bastard" until we get more information. I'm a fan of the Blackhawks. He's a great player for that team. But that doesn't mean I believe he is incapable of raping someone. I don't know that he is capable either. Which is the point. I don't know. Presumed innocent. Both of them.

It's all about what you hear. When you hear a charge against an athlete do you assume they are guilty because they are athletes? Or do you presume they are innocent because you like their team or their talent? When you hear about a rape investigation do you assume the person bringing charges is telling the truth or lying? Do you automatically start discounting the story with the "they shouldn't haves..." shouldn't have had so much to drink, shouldn't have worn that dress, shouldn't have flirted, shouldn't have...whatever. What do you hear?

Which then leads us back to another part of the first story. When the Black Lives Matter hashtag or organization is brought up there are always people who respond ALL LIVES MATTER! Oh holy shit, shut up. That's been my reaction to them. But I read something this weekend that made them make a little more sense to me. See when they read Black Lives Matter their brains fill in an implied "Only" at the front while mine fills in an implied "Too" at the end. I get that when someone says Black Lives Matter they aren't saying that no other life matters, they are saying that black lives matter just as much as all other lives and right now they aren't feeling that. See? There is a difference in what you hear.

Thinking about it I came up with an analogy that works if you had siblings. Not sure the only children would get it but here we go...So you remember when you were a kid and you would be minding your own business and one of your siblings picked a fight? Or you were watching TV and they came in and changed the channel while you were watching something? Or you were in the car riding someplace and they punched you out of the blue? When that happened you yelled and your parent said, "You kids knock it off!" And you were all like...Wait, what?? You KIDS?? I was minding my own business! I didn't do anything wrong!

All Lives Matter is like You Kids Knock it Off. It's a general coverage to a problem that is actually not general. And it's unfair. Of course all lives matter, but right now it's not all lives that we are talking about. Don't be obtuse. Listen for the too at the end of the phrase. Look for the fairness instead of the general. And for goodness sake try to open your eyes to the issues they are bringing up. Just because in your day to day life you don't encounter instances of racism that doesn't mean it's not there. There are people speaking a different language in France, just because I don't hear it doesn't mean it's not happening...

Pay attention to what you are listening to as well as what you hear.

Wait for more information before leaping to conclusions.

Try your hardest to get more than one side to a story.

And realize that sometimes life doesn't come with easy answers.

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