For more than a week, we’ve all been outraged, or pretended to be, by racist comments made by the 80-year-old owner of a professional basketball team in Los Angeles. We’ve been earnestly discussing this as though it were the biggest problem afflicting mankind.
Almost nobody seems to be bothered that these remarks came in a private argument that may have been secretly recorded by a woman Donald Sterling evidently had a relationship with. So far as I can tell, she seems to have taped what he said and then released it to an Internet site devoted to celebrity gossip.
Well, once upon a time this would have been seen as a violation of privacy, not journalism. In any event, I think that we shouldn’t be stunned that an angry old billionaire says nasty old things in private.
However, here’s something that should stun and outrage all of us, but evidently doesn’t.
Every year, the growing Hispanic community in Detroit has a popular and colorful Cinco De Mayo parade through the streets of southwest Detroit.
This year, however, the parade was ruined. Soon after it started, one man in his twenties apparently walked up to a 19-year-old and shot him to death.
They stopped the parade. Police took the body and the alleged shooter away. The fire department came and hosed the blood off the street. We don’t know many details yet. Some say it was a family argument. Some say this was about gangs. What we know is that it involved a gun, and another corpse.
I read all the stories I could find about that incident this morning. Lots of people are upset that the parade was ruined. One said, with no apparent irony, that it’s been five years since a Cinco de Mayo parade was ruined by someone being shot to death.
But what really stood out for me was that nobody said anything like, “this means we should do something about guns.”
Nobody did, for one big reason.
We automatically assume we can’t do anything, that the Second Amendment fanatics and the gun lobby will stymie any gun control efforts, no matter how reasonable.
There is reason to believe this.
President Obama vowed to do something about guns after a madman splattered twenty first-graders all over their classrooms in an elementary school in Connecticut.
He failed miserably.
We’ve had 15,000 gun deaths since then, and we’ve all pretty much stopped trying to do anything about them.
Well, to steal an old bumper sticker slogan, nobody died when Donald Sterling lied. Nothing we do about him is going to matter. Nasty old men will still say nasty old things.
Yet when it comes to gun violence, we are like medieval peasants were about the plague. We accept there is nothing we can do about it except pray.
Well, eventually back in the day, someone dared to clean up the filth and drive away the rats and the fleas.
People began washing their hands, and soon, the plague was a thing of the past. I wonder if there’s a lesson to be learned from this.
And I wonder how many deaths it will take before we learn it.