Thursday, September 20, 2007

Free to be ignorant...

If you read my previous blog about freedom, then it served as a good portal to this one. However, if you missed out, I would recommend reading it or merely read this one with the understanding that freedom is something most American’s either can’t explain or don’t exercise correctly. If you’ve bothered to glance at a news broadcast, newspaper, or this blog, you’ve heard of what is now being called the ‘Jena 6.’ In response to racial tension and no doubt agitation, 6 black teenagers, brutally beat a fellow white student.

There is no doubt in my mind, that this attack was provoked by ignorant and unnecessary mocking from the white student. However, is that ever an excuse to brutally, nearly kill your aggressor? It troubles me that thousands upon thousands of individuals, as well as social figures around the nation are flocking to Jena, Louisiana to fight for the freedom of 6 teenagers who snapped and made the decision to nearly kill an ignorant Redneck. This is not a defense for the victim’s actions that caused the attack. But on that same note, I don’t believe for a second the Jena 6 deserve any sort of defense either.

Yes, the person was probably provoking them and was quite racist. Yes, prejudice and racism are travesties this day in age. Yes, if and when I am faced with prejudice in my life I think (and I do stress think) about physically harming the ignorant. But the absolute, hard-lined no of this situation is responding the aggressors with violence. That is why the Jena 6 are on trial. Whether or not the legal practices of Jena, Louisiana are in fact racist, is an issue of locale that should be rectified, however, these 6 young men did break the law, they did attack someone, and therefore should be prosecuted to the maximum amount.

Having said all that, I now will talk about freedom. This is America. We have a constitution that outlines what rights are granted to us and protected for us by Federal law. One of which is freedom of speech. Throughout the years and numerous Supreme Court cases, this has gone to encompass quite a number of things. One of which, if you really look at the fine print, is the freedom to have opinions. Whether if its on who you’re voting for or what church you pray at, you are entitled to think for yourself and form your own opinions. This even encompasses who you choose to hate.

Personally, I hate people who stand in the express lane with a cart that totals way over 20. This list includes people who stay in a merging lane until the very last foot and swerve in front of me causing me to gasp, slam on my breaks, and grab my heart. People who smack their food also make the cut. I also, probably more than anyone else, hate people who are close-minded, prejudice, and ignorant (these things tend to be a package deal.). I always have a few choice words I wish I could utter and wish for bodily harm to come to these people, but the point is I don’t. I restrain myself from doing these things, while reserving the right to inwardly hate them and complain about these people at a later time.

Unlike the Jena 6, I don’t brutally attack every individual that happens to make a snide remark directed at me. That is why these individuals are sitting in jail right now and await trial. Whether or not they receive a harsher sentence for being black is irrelevant. The point is they broke the law in a severe way, the victim did not. So, Mr. Sharpton, go home! Jesse Jackson, shut up!  This isn't a race issue.  It is a matter of a law clearly being broken.

This may have started with racial tension. But at the time, that’s all it was and well-grounded, calm individuals could have made strides to diffuse the situation, not jump on this guy’s head. When it comes to living in this world, we cannot help how we are perceived. We lack the power to control others’ opinions of us. We are helpless to directly influence what comes out of strangers’ mouths. We lack this power of control because of the power of freedom that has been entrusted to those around us. On the other hand, we have the power to control ourselves, how we respond and how we handle such situations. The Jena 6 are in jail now because they made a bad decision in response to an even worse situation, not because they are black.

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