Sunday, January 26, 2014

Justin Bieber Vs. Richard Sherman

Of course nobody who has any sense uses the N-word any more. At least not in public. Except rich rappers who know better but refuse to do better. It is an ugly, oppressive word that now has the power to ruin careers, destroy lives, and make political aspirations disappear like magic.
So now a subtle code has been created. Verbal inroads carefully crafted to circumvent accusations of racism, and bad taste while effectively communicating a message. There are phrases like " Inner city youths", and "the underprevaledged", then there are words like "monster", "animal", and "thug". These words may not have the same bite, or represent the same pain but they are just as effective in replicating the same feelings, stirring the same emotions, and validating the same fear in society at large.

Robert Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, caused quite a stir last week when his animated comments became the subject of conversation on virtually overy media outlet. After making the game saving play that would take Seattle to the Super Bowl Sherman was interviewed by a reporter, and went on an adrenaline filled rant. In which he hollered like a nut taunting his on field rivals. 

Yes, he was loud, wild, and crazy. But there was no profanity, and no disrespect toward the interviewer, who happened to be a blond white woman. There was, however, an aire of high self esteem, confidence, bravado, and certainty when he spoke. Attributes that have been discouraged in African-American men for centuries, especially in the face a white women. This may not have been an intentional part of the backlash. But there is a distinct possibility that the imagery invoked a kind of visceral animosity toward Sherman rooted in cultural conditioning. Almost as if he had broken some unwritten social law. Almost immediately after the interview Sherman was called a fool, a thug, and a classless jerk. But he didn't do anything foolish, or thuggish, and his being a classless jerk is highly subjective. Actually he is as far from being a fool or a thug as humanly possible.

Sherman graduated second in his class in high school and also graduated from Stanford. So not only is he not a fool, odds are he’s smarter than most of the people who call him a fool. 
His degree from Stanford was in communications … which might explain why, while he seemed to be hollering like a crazy person, he didn’t curse and looked into the camera the whole time.
Most thugs, and fools never finish high school much less get a degree in communications from an Ivy League university like Standford. 

With that being said, I believe that it is important both for the sake of clarity, and in the interest full disclosure that we know what a thug is. A thug is basically anyone who continually runs afoul of the law. They think nothing of breaking the rules, and laws that have been created to insure that we, for the most part, have a civilized society. They generally have no regard for those around them, and they play by their own rules.
They do things like drive drunk, putting everyone else's lives in danger. They possess and consume illegal substances with wreckless abandon and show disdain for the authorities. They may even drag race and destroy someone else property.
This sounds a lot like......I don't know......maybe Justin Bieber!

Bieber is the epitome of an overnight sensation who was able to rise from trailor park obscurity in Canada to become the biggest teen idol in decades. He earns about $55 million a year, and has an ever growing list of both criminal and social infractions including, drug possession, vandalism, spitting on and it his neighbors faces, showing a blatant disregard for law enforcement, and going off on profanity laced rants towards those who disagree with him. Yet he has never been referred to as a thug, a fool, or a classless jerk even though he undoubtedly is. An imported thuggish, foolishish, classless jerk who despite being arrested on an almost a daily basis has not been criticized nearly as much as Robert Sherman for being excited about taking the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl. Why are these words not applied to Justin Bieber? Because for those who use the code they are not meant to be.


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