Ok. I think that I need to clarify and expand on a few things.
After my previous article I received a fair amount of feedback from people around the world via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, 90% of which through messages and DM’s. It’s surprising how many smart people have great opinions but are only willing to share them privately.
The sentiment I was touching on in that article was one that has been vibrating in the community at large and one shared by people of all races and genders. In regards to the actual events that occurred the day that Michael Brown was shot and killed, none of us will ever really know for sure, because Officer Darren Wilson has not been charged, will not go to trial and a thorough analysis of evidence from both sides of the argument will never happen.
However, from what we have seen, and from what was presented in court documents, we can collectively agree that Michael Brown did not deserve to die and given that fact it was only right that Darren Wilson be charged with murder and tried accordingly. Unfortunately, a grand jury thought otherwise.
What has been particularly troubling to me has been the outpouring of hatred from opposing sides of the official narrative, a narrative concocted and perpetuated by the unwavering arms of the independent and mainstream media outlets.
Depending on your political leanings, Michael Brown was either a neighborhood bully of Herculean strength towering over and attacking a well to do police officer who had simply asked him to step onto the sidewalk, or he was a normal everyday kid on his way to his grandmother’s house viciously shot down by a violent predator aggressively seeking conflict with an innocent young black man.
In the aftermath of it all we have a world once again divided by racial and political lines, and safeguarding themselves from argument by hiding behind extreme statements. One shouts, “Fuck the police!” then the other replies with, “Michael Brown was a criminal!” and rather than exchange in any sort of meaningful conversation they move further into hysteria screaming, “Fuck all cops and white people!” and “Black people are all violent criminals!” Everybody has lost focus of the true issues at hand and are now just pushing extreme ideologies as a reaction to the hatred thrust upon them by the opposition.
This is what our world looks like now - a constant abyss of opinion spinning and altered to suit whichever side of the fight you choose to represent. With the slide of a thumb we search and sift through information, looking for the source that most reinforces our own beliefs. We don’t dare to read anything that may oppose our perspective because we refuse to be challenged. So photos of Malcolm X with the obligatory quotes flood our Instagram timelines and videos of Michael Brown bullying a shop owner light up our Facebook feeds. With very little research or knowledge, we attach ourselves to issues and causes because… well, because, “Fuck the system!” and “Fuck that guy!”
It’s amazing what you can find on the internet if you look for it. The flow of opinion disguised as information is dizzying. Everybody is looking for the next trending topic and immediately they chime in because what would the world be without another misinformed opinion! Arm yourselves with “30 reasons why the other guys are stupid” and prepare for battle with an equally illogical foe!
Recently Eminem came under fire for a lyric in his song, “Vegas” with Royce Da 5’9”:
"So what’s it gon’ be? Put that shit away Iggy!
You gon’ blow that rape whistle on me?!"
Seriously. Of all the heinous shit Eminem has said over the course of fifteen years, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back? Let’s rewind the song back five seconds and take a listen:
"I tell a bitch like Bizarre, bitch shut the fuck up and get in my car
And suck my fucking dick while I take a shit and I think with my dick
So come blow my mind and it tastes like humble pie
So swallow my pride."
Nope. No problems there, right? The two bars where Eminem insinuates that Iggy Azalea might have to blow a rape whistle to thwart his advances is where you draw the line? Ok, I see what you’re doing here. It has nothing to do with Eminem punching Lana Del Rey or raping Iggy Azalea and everything to do with reinforcing a narrative that is currently being pushed through your tiny little brains by whatever YouTube videos and Buzzfeed lists you’ve been relying on for information lately. Ray Rice knocks out his wife in an elevator and now for the next six months none of us can say anything about violence against women because the media says it’s wrong and your sensitive little heart seems to agree. But half a year later we can get back to beating and raping women because a new cause will emerge that you can hashtag and be a part of, right? That’s how this thing works, correct? The issue is only an issue as long as its trending.
The point I’m trying to make is that these headlines and trending topics create an atmosphere that encourages people who have very little invested in the issue to create a mob mentality based on what they should think and not their actual principles. Eminem has been writing about violence against women in his lyrics for years, but now because the trending topics say otherwise, we all now have to pretend that we’re not ok with it.
Sadly, once Michael Brown’s name exits the media the larger discussion will disappear as well. According to some sources, one black male is murdered every 28 hours in the US by police. But that doesn’t work for you, does it? #RIPMIKEBROWN and #Ferguson are much easier to hashtag than #oneblackmanismurderedevery28hoursintheUSbypolice.
The scary part about all of this is that the loudest voices always seem to be the most misinformed and extreme ones. You can’t just think gay marriage should be legal. Heterosexual men and women on the far left have to force the gay marriage issue on everybody and ridicule straight men for every perceived advantage they have at every single turn. It’s not enough to just do what’s right and move on quietly, they have to shout it from the mountaintops and rub it in the faces of all those who aren’t an exact mirror image of it because even if you agree with them you aren’t them because you’re different or normal or whatever, fuck you.
As a gay friend of mine explained years ago (I’m paraphrasing here), “Gay culture as you know it, isn’t gay culture. There really isn’t a gay culture. The effeminate ‘fabulous’ gay character that movies and television have created represents a small minority of us. Most gay men and women are just normal people who live normal lives. We don’t want to be treated special or different, we just want to be treated equally and being able to get married is a part of that.”
Now, when explained in that context it’s astounding how anybody could oppose gay marriage. But what often happens, and what happened with me this time last year when gay marriage was the trending topic, is that self-proclaimed social justice warriors take the issue and push it until reasonable people such as myself are no longer interested in talking about it. I absolutely believe that gay men and women should have the right to be married, but it’s something that I feel needs actual voter’s support and not just a bunch of people screaming about it and forcing us to look at it so much that it becomes more irritating than liberating and loses all meaning.
For example, Joe Rogan was recently attacked by gay, lesbian and transgender groups, feminists and far left wing liberals because he openly spoke out against a transgender (male to female) MMA fighter who was attempting to compete against women professionally. Despite actual scientific proof that the male frame is built wider and stronger than that of a woman’s, and does not change once the testicles are removed or with the introduction of heightened levels of estrogen, these groups took it upon themselves to ignore science and label Rogan a bigot for speaking out.
That’s right, these people were arguing on behalf of a transgender man who wanted to step into a ring and physically fight women. Some of the very same people who seek to label all men as potential rapists and abusers were actually enraged that another man who has chosen to live his life as a woman was not permitted to fight, and severely injure, other women. In the midst of picking a side and as the result of their own bias, these people compromised their core beliefs, and their overall moral compass, in order to prove a point. I think. Fuck, I’ve honestly sat here for five minutes rereading that sentence trying to make sense of it but it’s so confusing I can’t figure out what they were trying to do. But, the irony has not been lost on me at all.
This is a prime example of what we’ve become as a society. We’re so lost in the politics of social injustice that it eventually trumps reason and we end up compromising our core principals as a result of it. We do not make room for discourse, therefore time and time again we lose sight of the justice we were seeking in the first place. Censoring one opinion because it is not in line with yours is the essence of oppression and is not right just because the media you ingest and people around you seem to agree.
The exchange of information is a great thing and I truly believe that a revolution will occur during our lifetime because we have access to it. But we have to be careful of what we choose to consider information, how we use it and who we’re using it against. The bigger picture is always much more important than the smaller issues we tend to focus on and if we’re ever going to get out of this mess we’re in, we are all going to need to do it together.
Or whatever. #rapeculture #alsicebucketchallenge #fuckthesystem
[Jason James is an artist, freelance columnist and writer for DJBooth.net. You can read/download his free eBook, "This Is My Rifle" and listen/download his most recent album, "Pyramids in Stereo". You can also contact him here and here.]