Thursday, April 19, 2007

Violence against college students ***UPDATE*** Race is the story.

Apparently race is the story in both stories. The VT killer was racially disciminated against when he was in high school, mocked for his Korean accent, among other things.

Oh, he's still responsible for his actions, but he is not responsible for the world around him that he was required to respond to.

Here is a little something from Langston Hughes:
A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-- l
ike a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Apparently there are times when it does explode.

The two main stories (unless you are mourning the downfall of Sanjaya) have to do with violence against college students.

The first story is the Imus story. The second is Virginia Tech. Both involve violence against college students.

I think it would appropriate to say that the phsyical violence at Virginia Tech is worse. I really think that few people would argue with that. However, setting the kinds of violence done in each situation into a hierarchy would tempt people to dismiss the importance of the Imus story.

At Tech, the killer is dead and will not kill again. No one debates what he did as being wrong. It's a terrible story with no advocates for the killer. People are united.

The problem with the Imus story is that the person who did the violence is still on the loose. People are not united against him. There are actually people going to bat for this guy. The extent to which he is seen as getting away with the kinds of things he says is the extent to which dehumanizing behavior is acceptable.

The difference between the violence Imus did against the Rutgers women's basketball team and the violence done against Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff is only in degree.

This might sound overly dramatic, but I am afraid the VT story will drown out the attention given to the the racism problem in America. I fear that we will start to believe that the main problem in America and college campuses is people gunning other people down. It's not.

Although the VT story is more intense, it is extremely isolated and rare. Imus kinds of stuff happens every single day.

We should mourn and grieve the deaths at VT and we should take our time doing it. But we should have some tears for the state of race and rhetoric in America as well.


DallasFan said...

I could not disagree with you more, Faj. The viloence that took place on the campus of VT was awful. However, you deminished the viloence at VT by lumping it with the "violence" of Imus. First, the spoken words of Imus were not violent. While I do not condone the heart behind the words, they still remain simply words. These words cannot/do not carry a violent action with them at all. Don Imus, love him or hate him, is a shock jock and has been saying things like this for decades. Why is it just now that the sponsers, networks and Black community "leaders" are calling him on the carpet for the trash that he speaks. I have long since grown tired of the sophmoric banter that goes on with his guests. So, I do not listen to him anymore. This is not the first time that something derogatory has spewed forth from his microphone. So why all the outrage now, I ask? It is fair to discuss Imus, but please do not deminish the violence at VT comparing it with the words of Imus.

Fajita said...

Imus leads to VT. Without Imus events, without Imus culture, without Imus devalueing people with words, you don't get VT.

Please do not think that it is a direct connection. Things seldom work that simply.

A cultural tolerance for hate will produce line crossers.

DallasFan said...

I just do not see where you get a "culture of hate" from Imus' words. IMHO, he did not hate these girls. He didn't even know these girls. He was simply being shocking (again, I am not defending the word selection). He realized that he had hurt these girls. He humbled himself and apologized to the group of student atheletes. You can be sarcastic and say he was doing it to save his job, but the reports of the interaction say that the team thought his apology to be sincere and heartfelt. There was no evidence of hate that I could tell. Am I wrong??

Fajita said...

Yes, Imus did apologize, but when you lose millions of dollars, you're going to apologize because you want your dollars back.
Hat, as I am talking about it is the kind of action taken that makes a person less human. Perhaps hate is not the right word, but it approximats the meaning of what I want. "Disregard" is not strong enough. "Belittle" seems a petty thing almost. "Animalize" is weird sounding.

I am at a loss for words to describe accurately what Imus did and has been doing for a long time.

The extent to which people value other people in disproportionate ways, using their power to increase their own position while decreasing another position, the extent to which someone with more power crushes one with less in order to preserve or increase their own power, the extent to which a person imposes or exerts himself or herself on to a person with less power is hate - or something like it.

At some point, the party with less power will accept the view of the more powerful party, will be crushed by the more powerful party, or will strike back at the more powerful party.

The VT killer and the Rutgers women's basketball team struck back. Thanksfully the Rutgers women's basketball team had the class and self-respect to strike back in kindness.

In a strange sort of way, they are a certain kind of salvation for Imus. We'll see how saved he wants to be, though.