Sunday, October 18, 2009

There's Crazy and There's Damn Crazy

I was listening to my favorite country music station this morning when I heard a tune by Billy Currington, People Are Crazy. I like the simplicity of the chorus: "God is great; beer is good; and people are crazy." The crazy people have definitely been highly visible this week; it makes me wish that I drank beer.

Another Reason Not to Shop at Walmart
Three years ago, Heather Ellis and her cousin went shopping at a Walmart in Kennett, Missouri. Among the reasons I vowed to never set foot in another Walmart was that even when a store was packed, only two or three of the 20 checkout lanes would be open. Heather, an enterprising college student, and her cousin found themselves facing long lines, so each of them got in a separate line. Her cousin's line moved faster and Heather joined him. The checkout person accused Heather of cutting in line. The manager was called, Heather exchanged words with the manager and refused to leave the store. The police were called and things went from bad to worse. Heather was eventually charged with disturbing the peace, resisting arrest and two counts of assaulting a police officer. If convicted, she faces 15 years in prison.

Since the incident, Heather has been public in her protest that the charges against her are unwarranted, but I'm not interested in arguing the merit of the charges. What caught my eye is that it appears that the KKK does not approve of Ms. Ellis' public protest against the charges against her and have offered her a friendly warning to cease and desist via cards delivered by a helpful local police officer stating, "You've just been paid a social visit by the Ku Klux Klan; the next visit will not be social." It seems to me that "social visit" and "KKK" just don't belong in the same sentence. Personally, I'm boycotting Walmart and although Walmart has not acknowledged the impact of the loss of my patronage, I'm certain that I am missed. People are crazy.

Up, Up, and Away in My Beautiful Balloon
My sister suspected that it was a hoax from the start. She thought that the likelihood of six-year-old Falcon Heene being in that balloon was a variation on the boy who cried wolf. I had my doubts when it was revealed that the only confirmation of Falcon's being the balloon boy came from his slightly older brother. Why is it that adults don't recognize that more than half of the eight and under set still believe in bunnies carrying eggs in baskets and at least one out of five has seen Santa Claus come down and go back up the chimney? They are not reliable witnesses to anything.

Nonetheless, the entire nation, courtesy of the omnipresent media, was caught up in watching the frantic pursuit by land and by air of a helium filled, saucer shaped balloon, covered in aluminum foil, and allegedly carrying little Falcon off to Oz. The sigh of relief breathed when Falcon was discovered in the attic over the garage hiding in a box was quickly followed up by mutterings about it all being a hoax.

The hoax theory gained momentum when the Heene family was interviewed on CNN. Papa Heene asked Falcon why he hid for so long. Falcon responded, "You said we did this for a show." Kids do say the darnedest things. The headlines on Saturday proclaimed that the local sheriff plans to charge Papa and/or Mama Heene with something; he's consulting with the DA to see what's the strongest charge that is likely to stick. So far it appears that any applicable charges would be misdemeanors.

Maybe it's just me, but if you're going to perpetrate a hoax, you really should get a better partner in crime than a six-year -old. People are crazy.

But What About the Children?
I respect people who represent the interest of children, and it really pains me to question the sincerity of Keith Bardwell, a white Louisiana justice of the peace in his efforts to protect the future progeny of interracial couples. For the last 2 1/2 years, Mr. Bardwell has refused to marry any interracial couples that request that he perform the ceremony. By his count, there have only been four couples who he has had to turn down. I can't help but wonder if perhaps no more have approached him because they are familiar with his policy.

According to Justice Bardwell, whenever a couple contacts his office seeking marriage, he inquires if they are an interracial couple. If they answer affirmatively, then he explains that he can't marry them. Bardwell is acting out of humanitarian concerns for the children that such marriages may produce.

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," Bardwell said. "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

Bardwell is not a racist. How do I know this? Because he stated in an interview, "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way, I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

I don't know where Bardwell stores his piles of black friends, but perhaps he should ask some of them to explain that a rather significant element of racism is a belief that the races shouldn't mix. If there is anyone who is reading this who is tempted to leave me a comment favoring Bardwell's concern for the children produced from mixed race marriages, don't. If you do, I won't be nice; I will hurt your feelings and you won't be happy.

Now that Bardwell's manipulation of the law to suit his own world view has been revealed, the ACLU and other civil rights organizations are calling for his dismissal. Quite a few of the commenters on the news boards appear to believe that Bardwell is within his rights because he is entitled to his opinion. Bull, he's an officer of the court and his opinion isn't worth crap; his job is to uphold the law. The 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. the State of Virginia specifically prohibits imposing any restrictions on marriage based on the race of the parties. As officers of the court, judges, justices, magistrates, and lawyers do not get to choose which laws we enforce and which ones we don't. We certainly don't get to act contrary to the law and substitute our personal judgment.

Mr. Bardwell's own words identify him as a bigot and his position of power over people's lives certainly elevates him to the status of racist. Some people aren't just crazy; they're damn crazy.


Mark said...

I'm sorry, I think "crazy" is like "weird" - overused to describe other things. The Walmart incident reflects a bureaucratic insecurity where people follow rules at all cost and are afraid of backing down, what the ballon people (may) have done is publicity-seeking probably born of a taste of fame on wife-swap, what the Judge and the KKK did is pure unbridled racism. The folks aren't crazy-they're idotic, venal, ambitious, or hate-filled. They may come to different conclusions than you or I, but calling them crazy is too dismissive. Some of them need to be taken very seriously. I'm not afraid of crazy people, I am afraid of the KKK and racists.

Ms. Moon said...

I hate Walmart and rarely set foot in it. I remember once when I was sixteen, back in the dark ages and working at McDonald's I found a card when a customer left which said, "You have been patronized by the Grand Dragon of the KKK." Freaked me the hell out.
Kid in balloon- right. You said it exactly.
Judge in Louisiana- Racists like that should really just shut up or admit the truth of the matter because the more they rationalize or defend their actions, the stupider and more racist they look.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

That ordeal with Heather Ellis is shameful. I read the article and watched the video, I hope it gets thrown out of court soon.

As for balloon boy, I feel bad for him. He got sick during two interviews, and it makes me wonder if it is stress from lying.

As for Bardwell, as you said, the law is the law and he needs to uphold it.

Beth said...

You left out a word before "crazy": "batshit."

I've heard that Jindal is calling for this guy's ouster. Not sure the chain of command there, but if the Governor says he's gone, I'm guessing he's gone. You know, the really sad thing is that this guy probably really doesn't think he's a racist. Just being the benevolent overseer watching out for his folks, I guess. Ugh.

As for the Balloon Boy crap, I missed the whole thing and I'm glad of it. I cannot believe this was treated as such a major news story. Hugs, Beth

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

Though you clearly have the artistic license to write catchy posts such as this; I have to agree with Mark: 'crazy' these folks are not. Not even: 'crazy as a pet raccoon' - my personal favorite.

(1) insensitive, clumsy and counter-productive. If the KKK threat is because Heather was not white, then I'll throw in bigoted
(2) greedy and stupid; and I'll double down in the stupid
(3)racist, either compounded by stupidity or blurred by gentility, but racist regardless

But unlike Mark. I prefer this to crazy. Because I can see where these folks are coming from and going to, but true crazy scares me.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

That guy is not just crazy. He's a rascist crazy bigotted motherfucking asshole.

Love you,


Alan said...

I always assume people are stupid (at least until they prove otherwise, which they rarely do.) Perhaps we should just let Global Warming, H1N1, Sarrs, etc run their course and eliminate the scourge of humanity from the planet. This far into our attempt at being "civilized" perhaps we should just admit failure and let the species dwindle.