Saturday, November 12, 2011

A yellow card for inappropriate behaviour

A little more serious this week. But we still have the Hodgepodge at the end of this article...on a lighter note.

Man has a tendency to fear the unknown. In reaction to that fear, Man has created many mechanisms to protect himself. One of the modern mechanisms is without a doubt cocooning. With television, the Web, including social media, eBay, on-line shopping, food ordering services, who needs to go out? In the comfort of our living room, we are almost immune (or we pretend we are) against mugging, diseases, rudeness and unpleasantness of other people, accidents, etc.

Furthermore, Man is unable to live with the fact that he can't explain why something happened. And the fact that Man cannot fathom something that occurred will sometimes motivate him to push beyond his limits. In the end, he may even surpass his own expectations. Inspired to conquer the unknown, he may conquer his fears as well.

However, on the darker side, when he is a little lazier (as many of us are), Man may be tempted to invent, imagine or improvise an explanation. That's where it gets messy. That's where it also gets interesting. Our Modern Circus, as we know it now, loves to conceive and produce stories to reassure itself. If the answer is unknown, we'll figure out some plausible explanation, then we'll pretend it's real. We'll repeat it so many times that we'll believe it and then, we'll sell it to the people. And they will buy it too (until they find out the truth...but how long 'til they find out?).

Replace "we" by the media and you get what we see every day on the news. The media will find some wacky, wacko, pseudo-expert to make us swallow the explanation that suits any problem. "Ma! If they said it on the TV, I reckon it must be true!" (to read with your best southern accent).

Someone gets killed in your neighbourhood. Of course it's a tragedy. The media implies that you could be next. "Ma! I reckon we need to find tha killa, ma" (again with your best southern accent).

But if they find only a body...but they are no leads. "We need to find a culprit". No evidence against anyone? Media publishes polls on TV saying that the "man on the street" thinks that the first guy that the police interrogated looks suspicious. He lives alone, doesn't talk much, a little shy and anti-social, doesn't seem too intelligent, doesn't care about his general appearance. In other words, he would have no chance to be selected on American Idol (probably the only thing he would be guilty of). If they had to bet money on it, they would bet against him.

Silently, people think that its not such a bad idea. Police wouldn't mind saying they solved it. A scapegoat would be so convenient. Until we catch a culpable party, people live in fear, in the unknown. Like a magician, the "scapegoat" will transform the unknown into a (pseudo) known. Everyone will finally sleep at night. But we would have to cross our fingers the real killer doesn't start killing again...

This is dangerous stuff. When it comes to condemn a person, it's not a "democracy" in a sense that it should not be determined by a poll. Leave polls to TMZ (where you can vote on whether Kim Kardashian should go through with her divorce...). If a person is innocent until proven guilty, I guess it all has to be based on evidence. It's sort of scientific. There's a method to it. It surely has nothing to do with what the "man on the street" thinks.

Please watch the next video. It's a little long, so please forward it to 6:30:

That was the street reaction to the verdict in the Conrad Murray trial was found guilty on one count of involuntary manslaughter of pop star Michael Jackson. A jury found Murray guilty. I'm pretty sure justice was served.

But in the video, at 6:30, you actually hear a crowd cheering out loud. Folks, this is not American Idol or The X Factor. This is not about cheering for your favorite singer, nor is it about cheering for your favorite sports team. Let's keep this in perspective.

I guess the crowd was composed of Michael Jackson fans. But the verdict won't bring him back. The verdict will have absolutely no direct effect on the fans lives either. What is there to cheer about? A man going to prison. Is that what it all comes down to? Is that what we've become as people? I'm satisfied that Conrad Murray will go to jail for what he's done. Nevertheless, the crowd going wild doesn't seem appropriate in my book. It seemed like they were convinced before the trial, before seeing the evidence. Could they influence the jury before the verdict? This ain't right.

Are we too much accustomed to contests like Dancing with the stars and do we feel we have to react that way to any event? Is it the anonymous factor...the Twitter factor? It's easy to take an anonymous stand, without assuming the responsibility of the choice. Some people are referring to it as an historic moment. Really?

Worst part is that it seems to be a new trend (see the video).

If you didn't know the video was about the reaction to Osama Bin Laden's death confirmation, when you hear the "USA! USA! USA!" chant, you could swear that it was a soundbite taken during the Olympics. A sigh of relief would certainly be in order. But cheers, chants and celebrations? Chauvinism. We are not playing video games here where soldiers that die are fictional. After the thousands of American soldiers that died during that war, out of respect for them, I don't see how we can be in a celebrating mood. The troops are still at war. And even if an evil man was killed, Evil (including terrorism) didn't die with him. People in other countries cheer when something bad happens to USA? Ok. But do we have to lower ourselves to their level?

On that day, I had a sigh of relief, I prayed for all the troops that died and for all the ones that are still out there. I keep my cheers for my beloved New England Patriots, during football games...where cheers belong.

In sports, you get penalties or yellow cards for unsportsmanlike misconduct or unnecessary roughness. We should be able to give those in real life, for every day behaviour. Today, I would give a penalty for inappropriate behaviour to all of the above-mentioned people.

Remember this wonderful quote by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts."


This week’s lucky number: The clue...sept (in French).

Clever song lyrics: "Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came." - Song: Eleanor Rigby - Artist: The Beatles.

Cheesy song lyrics: "Mmm bop, ba duba dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop, Ba du." - Song: MMMBop - Artist: Hanson. (Ah! Goddammit! I'm stuck with that stupid song in my head now!!! Grrr...).

Bad rock group names for Herman Cain:  1-Raising Cain; 2-Herman & the Victims; 3-Grope'n'fondle.

Bad idea for a movie: A young millionaire woman, named Kim, marries her boyfriend, makes money with the marriage itself, then files for divorce after 90 days...then tries to make money with the divorce too (wait a minute...I heard about that before somewhere...).

Good idea for a movie sequel: A girl, named Kim, bumps her head, then realizes she has no talent whatsoever, decides to abandon everything she's got and becomes a nun in Tibet. She brings her talentless friend, named Paris, with her.

Suggestion of a bad musical combination comparable to Metallica and Lou Reed: Willie Nelson and Motörhead.

Appropriate song for the Penn State University scandal soundtrack: "Say it ain't so, Joe" (Re: Joe Paterno)

Love letters, comments, opinions and complaints:


  1. What you are pointing out is something that we all should take a look at closer about ourselves and our humanity - and what direction we want to take from here.
    If you haven't seen the movie "Idiocracy" with Luke Wilson, check it out. It's supposed to be a comedy, but, considering it might be a prophecy - it's more like a psychological thriller.

  2. @Shayna: As always, thanks for your comments.

    To be decent people, we must act decently. We have a tencency to react as if everything was a sports competition. To be relieved or satisfied by someone who is going to prison or who is shot dead, I can somehow understand (although it doesn't have any positive direct consequence on us). But to cheer and celebrate? That is way out of line. If they do it in the middle east, well so be it. We do not need to lower ourselves to that lack of humanity.