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Friday, October 12, 2007

Noose Nuisance

So apparently the new "fad" for the news world and idiots around the country is the noose. The incident in Jena apparently was the spark that ignited the moronic cavalcade of noose-related stories popping up, even though the Jena 6 incident really had nothing to do with a noose.

Yes, earlier that year, three white kids hung nooses from trees and were unfairly let off with a warning.

Nothing to do with the fact that six black kids beat up a white kid and jailarity ensued and then Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton got in the mix. And whenever those two start speaking out, they fan the flames of hatred as well. I don't like to think of myself as a bigot or a racist - but when those two start with their claptrap and outcries and demands, I have to admit that my personal view of their race diminishes proportionately with the size of the ruckus they're creating.

Not surprisingly, others must feel the same way I do (well, maybe a hundredfold worse, since I'd never do anything that a jury would consider a "hate crime" against a race) - because nooses are popping up all over the news stories now. Let's take a quick look:

Yes, you probably heard about the professor who had a noose put on her door.

Get a bunch of college liberals riled up, and the media won't be too far behind. Hilariously enough (if you can find humor in the situation, and I apparently can) - the professor, Madonna Constantine, wasn't even around that day. Another professor found it on Constantine's door, and went to find Constantine's research partner. They went and found security, and eventually called the professor so she wouldn't be startled the next time she went to work.

The uproar caused a march from Teachers College (the education grad school branch of Columbia University) down to the main Columbia campus, and a quote from one of the marchers just kind of made me angry and laugh at the same time.

"Teachers College student Nicole Woodard told them she wasn't surprised by the noose incident because she believes the college lacks racial diversity. "When I walk into a class of 100 students and can count on my fingers how many look like me, that's a problem," said Woodard, who is black. Teachers College, which was founded in 1887 and is the nation's largest grad school for education, has a student body that is 12% black, 11% Asian-American and 7% Hispanic."

Putting those sentences together makes it look like Woodard has twelve fingers. And if the statistics are trying to suggest that the school is indeed not diverse (or "racially homogenized"), I hope that people take into account the fact that it's a grad school for education majors. There are fewer minority teachers than ever, both in the major while trying to get their teaching certification, and in the profession - since there's a higher rate of minorities failing the teaching exams than white students.

They're actually considering "affirmative action" to get TEACHERS rather than STUDENTS into the schools.

But I digress, let's move on to a lesser-known news story involving a noose:

While working on the completion of a new Home Depot store in Illinois, a construction worker saw a noose made of a foam packaging material hanging in the garden center area.

He decided not to return to work at the store, for safety reasons, and nobody reported the incident until the following Monday, since during the weekend a racial slur had been spraypainted inside the store by vandals.

And let's not forget the student who has since apologized for his actions:

The high-schooler drove around the parking lot of his high school with a noose hanging from his rear-view mirror and a Confederate flag hanging inside his vehicle.

It's still not known if he was suspended or expelled from his school - he hasn't been there since his arrest for disorderly conduct. He has since made a public apology and asked for forgiveness, which has currently been widely accepted by those he offended.

So what does all this mean?

Frankly, I think it means that too many people are giving this symbol way too much power over their lives and emotions.

It's just another example of words and symbols and ideas being STOLEN by racial groups. They get to claim it as their own, it belongs to nobody else. They're the only ones who can use it in a non-threatening manner, and they're the only ones who get to feel threatened by it. Anything else is "racism" to them.

Back in the day, my fraternity was the victim of this "stolen symbol syndrome" - we hosted a party and the flier had the word "ghetto" on it. The party was a costume party and you can undoubtedly guess the theme. While I had little problem with the fact that a few select individuals felt offended by the nature or theme of the party, I was dismayed and offended to hear that a few black females were offended by our use of the word "ghetto" and wrote a formal complaint to the college administration. They claimed it was THEIR WORD and we weren't allowed to use it, especially in such a manner, because it offended them.

I won't go into the many many logical arguments of how the word itself is NOT something entirely owned by African-Americans - I'm pretty sure I've done that before. What I will go into is how it relates to black people and nooses. Just like the whole "ghetto" story, I will admit that for a period of time, nooses were used in lynchings directed at black people, predominantly in the South. However, practically in the same breath, people should be reminded that it wasn't JUST black people who were the victims of lynchings. And then in the NEXT breath, people should be reminded that the noose is a symbol of death - of unbiased and impartial death.

Unless every suicide in the history of mankind that involved a noose was committed by a black person - which it certainly wasn't - there should not be this immediate decision that any noose you view is an attack on that race. Are you seriously going to try and convince me that the hanging of Saddam Hussein was offensive to black people because "that's THEIR terrible death symbol"?

A noose hanging on someone's door shouldn't be seen as anything other than "I want you dead." Just because it was hanging on a black professor's door, why does that automatically mean that it was saying "I want you dead, [n-word]"?

Is it right to hang a symbol of death on someone's property to symbolically state that you wish they were dead? Not really.

Does that automatically make it a racial issue? Not really.

Does that automatically make it a hate crime? Sure, but only in the sense that you probably hate someone if you wish they were dead - not necessarily hating them because of race or religion or something.

All I'm really trying to say is that we spend too much time attributing extra emotions to things that already HAVE emotions attributed to them. There's a lot of hate involved when you display a death implement to someone in hopes that they will get the message and die already. But that hate doesn't need EXTRA emotions like racial bias and sex discrimination and ethnic cleansing or anything tacked on to make it WORSE. It's already BAD. We KNOW that.

Maybe instead of trying to find extra hatred in the world by digging deeper into open wounds, we can try and find more love and compassion and forgiveness to alleviate some of the tension and create LESS hatred in the world that needs to be overanalyzed by the media.

And to avoid ending on a sappy-made-for-TV notion, I'll end by saying that "no noose is good noose."

(The Columbia teacher noose)
(The Home Depot noose)
(The high school noose)

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