I try to stay away from social issues (as well as politics and religion) because those are things that I'm passionate about that DO NOT sell books. Yet sometimes I feel the need to speak out, and the recent events in Baltimore and much of the social commentary I've seen regarding such events makes this one of those times. Keep in mind, I'm just some guy who writes books and makes movies, so I could be wrong about any or all of this. Regardless, for those who are interested, these are a few things kicking around in my brain as I watch Baltimore burn:
I think that there is a need for protest. I do believe that America has a serious issue in regards to how the police is treating civilians in 2015, and no group is more at risk than members of the black community.
I also think that officers of the law have one of the hardest jobs on the planet and for every three scumbags in blue, there's at least one worthy soul. Maybe the scales are balanced, maybe the lousy cops are even outnumbered by the good guys, but I'm not sure.
I think that a dignified protest sends a powerful message--particularly when the amount of people participating is a massive figure. A multitude of wronged people respectfully expressing their frustration is a driving force for reflection and change.
I also think that it doesn't take many idiots who prefer a good old-fashioned riot to totally change the narrative. Willful destruction and violence, as well as theft and brutality, serve no real purpose in such a scenario, unless that purpose is to degrade the efforts of those engaged in a peaceful protest. While a peaceful protest can change minds, I believe that riots and rampant mayhem only reinforce the various prejudices that cause some members of our society to feel that the mistreatment of other members of our society (be they black, poor, or anyone who isn't wearing a badge) is warranted.
I think that many of those fools who are turning to violence and petty crime think they are cranking up the volume on the message being delivered when in fact they are simply drowning it out.
I believe the media sucks. I hate the media. I blame the media for many of our problems. Yet I don't necessarily blame the media for focusing on rioters as opposed to protesters. Generally speaking, no matter how large a group is, and no matter what the group has gathered for, if a small contingent of that group engages in bad behavior, that will always be the story. It makes the actions of those selfish souls that much more disappointing. I can't believe I'm going to bat for the media here, but a dignified display of unity will never generate more headlines than some asshole setting something on fire or smashing something. That's not the world we live in--and maybe the media deserves a lot of the blame for that, but I digress.
I don't believe in taking shit. As a society, I believe that we should stand up to bullies. Yet I don't think that it makes much sense to bully someone else if we are bullied. Punch the bully in the eye and I applaud you. Punch some random soul in the eye and you just became another bully.
I believe that this shit is very complex and there are no easy answers to many of the problems we currently face as a society. I don't believe that destruction is going to provide any meaningful answers at all.
I believe that I would rather be blogging about a horror movie, yet I don't believe that ignoring situations such as the chaos unfolding in Baltimore is worthwhile. We need more people trying to have rational discussions about the issues that led to this dismay and looking for legitimate solutions.
To sum this up, I believe that police reform is necessary and I applaud anyone engaging in a respectful demonstration toward that end. I do respect many officers of the law (who are already doing a fantastic job) as much as I am disgusted by those cowardly public servants who would tarnish their office. I am also every bit as proud of those peaceful protesters as I am disgusted by those selfish individuals who would use an occasion like this to wreak havoc and distract from their peers who are going about this the right way.