What Can I Say That Can’t Be Said Better

A former student of mine was shot to death yesterday. Read the NY papers. You’ll guess right.

That makes three in the past year, all by gunshot.

In some neighborhoods, there’s terrorism every day.

Archie Shepp -Blase

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10 thoughts on “What Can I Say That Can’t Be Said Better

  1. Mr. Parnell:Sorry to hear about your student.I must challenge your terminology a bit on this. At its core, terrorsim is the specific targeting of civilians. Was your former student involved in dealings that may have contributed to his death? Or was he killed as an innocent who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time?

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  2. Goodness, I am sorry to hear about this. I think I found the story in question, and naturally, that made me think of my experiences in high school with random gang violence. It’s never pretty or pleasant, and generally ignored by anyone comfortably off and out of sight of that kind of thing.Her friends and family are in my thoughts today.

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  3. Anonymous: Why would you suspect my student, or any of my students, was/were not innocent? I have a former student who has bone cancer. Is that because he sold drugs?Your question implies that if my student was involved with violent or illegal (by this country’s standards) activities before or during, his death cannot be the result of terrorism at its root definition (the killing of innocents – I wasn’t aware it had to be specific targeting – but if it is that, than we live in a terrorist state, since we’ve bombed citizens as specific targets). Thus, by the logic of that implication, killing US soldiers in Iraq with IEDs isn’t terrorism, since they’re not innocent. Killing police officers isn’t terrorism. Bombing Cambodians who help the VC isn’t terrorism. Killing Palestinians on a beach isn’t terrorism. Killing Israelis, since they all serve in the military, isn’t terrorism. They’re all asking for it, cause they or their comrades sometimes fill roles in which they hurt people, break their own laws, or international law. Blaming the victim is always faulty.And the neighborhood(s) in question? It’s terrorism. An organization bent on making money illegally takes over said neighborhood and kills people to stay in power or to attain power. Main difference, in this case, is they use glocks instead of explosives. They kill witnesses. They do everything the IRA and Hamas does, but for money rather than political gain (on the surface). Loose gun laws might be considered the specific targeting of civilians. It’s an irresponsible targeting, if anything. And for the record, all three deaths? 1) innocent, victim of random shooting in East NY, was mid-level manager at upscale arts organization in Tribeca 2) shot while sitting on own front steps; was in college, champion of some renown at specific sport, 3)shot sitting in his car. Maybe he was up to something. Maybe not. Was in college. I put him there.

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  4. Mr. Parnell:Again, I am sorry for your loss. While I certainly do not support the Iraqi insurgency or more aptly, the insurgencies, I also do not feel it is terrorism when Amercian soldiers are attacked. I don’t want American soldiers to be attacked, but they are soldiers and some Iraqis are fighting them. Was your former student truly innocent or was he invovled in a lifestyle in which violence is the norm and to be expected? I am certainly not suggesting that his killing was justified, but I doubt very much it was terrorsim under most definitions of terrorism. Perhaps it was an unfortunate accident, perhaps it was part of a greater oppression that many folks continue to face, perhaps he was invovled with things that he should not be invovled with.

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  5. Did he lead a lifestyle that courted death? Not since 2003. Maybe, if he did something that courted violence in 1974 he would have been only beaten up. But nowadays it’s routine to be shot over relationship woes, or less. Your thinking leads to the road of vigilantism or anarchy, you know. One being responsible for their own violent death and all. I’m a pacificst, what can I say? I think our government’s tendency to ignore gun deaths in the inner city, espcially nonwhite, is the specific targeting of civilians. It’s certainly so with hurricane Katrina – that kind fo thing does not happen in Kennebunkport.. Sometimes doing nothing is as violent as any war crime, maybe even collusion (Vichy, Polish, wwII). (It’s funny, for with terrorism’s core definition in mind, I now realize we do live in a terrorist state, one worse than Iran or Syria or old Libya, for one reason alone, that being two specific targetings of civilains: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)

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  6. Mr. Parnell: Now you are starting to make some sense. The larger pciture is that war criminals only exist when a country loses a war. People who win wars are never convicted of war crimes. Saddam Hussein is a war criminal sure, but so are many other folks who are treated like royalty at the UN. Koffi Annan is a war criminal – he allowed 300,000 or more folks to be killed in Ruwanda while he was the highest ranking UN official in the country. But Koffi Annan has friends in power, Saddam Hussein does not. But inner city murder (or suburban murder for that matter) is not terrorism, it is murder. What is the use of using words at all if they have no meaning? I will grant you that the word terrorsim can be tricky, but it certianly does not mean simple murder. You might as well say that your former student was killed by rape if you are going to play the terrorsim card.When I read your initial post I was quickly saddened by it and then quickly mad because to be honeset, I felt you immediately attempted to use this sad loss as a way to stick it to the Bush adminsitration. But Mr. Parnell, this sad loss has nothing to do with US policy in Iraq and around the world. A young man was murdered and that is sad. But why make it political?

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  7. So I used this loss to stick it to the Bush administration? Why not? It’s my loss. I’ll usedit as I see fit. I’ll be looking in the casket very soon. I find it rich of you, ‘anonymous,’ to even question the kid’s actions — which you did — behind a pre-emptive but ultimately empty condolence. It’s like the person who congratulates their spouse on cooking a great meal and then begins to tell them how they could have done it better. Which in turn gives me a clue to whom you are, also; I bet that’s been a subject that earns your shrink his/her money, no? Sorry, too personal.Are you aware of the difference between inner city murder, it’s rate in specific neighborhoods, in comparison with the burbs? Two Brooklyn neighborhoods make up %60 of NY state prison populations. Ok, I’ll grant you one victory: it only feels like Jerusalem on Mother Gaston Blvd. Feels. Different intentions, same amount of PTSD. We won’t get into how the IRA was really bank robbing thugs, or how explosives are easier to use in countries with stricter gun control, but there.Of course, why be mad at a president so pre-occupied by the war that he’s allowed the dollar to collapse at such an alarming rate that non-taxed, illegal street money might be the way to go? Or why blame a president who’s stuffed the Dept of Labor with Christian God Squadders who believe inner city crime can’t be solved by real jobs, but by increased personal connection to a higher power? (Which is ridiculous, since most gang bangers already attend church)This is from the mouth of a ranking Dept of Labor employee in 2004. And their guest speaker that night.Or why be mad at a president with one drunk driving conviction, a cocaine arrest, and an unprosecuted instance of going AWOL? It’s all good. It’s fair. Why be mad when my student, because of his criminal, albeit cleaner, criminal background got rejected for financial aid?Why be mad when the president proves his disdain for inner city minorites by caring littel about New Orleans? On tape no less? Why be furious at an NRA-supporting poseur Prez and his dipshit wussy-hunter VP for not giving a shit about inner city gun violence? They really don’t. They stripped the Brady bill, no? That blatant disregard for people they know won’t vote for them, to me, is terrorism. It’s certainly specific targeting. PS – Your perception of war crimes is: 1) Naive: Winners get hit with war crimes also. Pinochet. Which has lead to Kissinger being careful where he travels. Also, Annan, profiteer prick that he was, and I won’t defend him or Clinton on Rwanda, or Bush on Darfur, is a little less culpable than Saddam Hussein or the Hutus. FDR, for initially remaining isolationist despite death camp reports, is not on par with Hitler. But a prick just the same.2) Simplistic: Hussein <>used to<> have friends in power. Don’t forget our friend Rumsfeld verifiably met with him in the 80s as undersecretary of defense, blah blah blah. Hussein was our boy until he used our toys to made our richer, more Saudi boy nervous. War criminals are those whom the winners no longer have use for. We knew where Mengele was long before he was caught, we harbored the Shah because he was useful against the fundy uprising, we funded Noriega, et etc etc. If we still had a use for Hussein, we would leave him in power, like Bush I, because we wouldn’t need to cover for our sham domestic policies, inept leadership, our privacy invasions, our infrasatructure profiteering, and overall corrupt cabinet with a fool’s errand; a ‘mission accomplished.’ This war allows the president to ignore all that he shouldn’t. Katrina brought it back to light. My student’s death does the same for me. The personal is always political. It’s a serviceable cliche, but true right now.

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