Welcome to another edition of the Internet Meme Demolition Derby, where we help you figure out which of your relatives or co-workers you should unfriend on Facebook or block on Twitter.
There is so much wrong with our entry this week that I’m not quite sure where to begin. So let’s start with the general and work our way to the specific. Here’s the text for our meme this week, on a tan background accompanied by a Minion that has for some strange reason been photoshopped into a Boy Scouts of America uniform.
The real problem isn’t police “brutality”.
The real problem is we now have an entire generation of spoiled entitled brats, who believe rules and laws don’t apply to them and parents who refuse to be parents and hold their “little kiddos” accountable for their behavior.
To be blunt, there’s not a ton here that we haven’t encountered before in our journey through bad parenting meme land (the most depressing land of all!). The common complaint, “kids these days”, forms the backbone of a depressing amount of the material we have slogged through these past two years. Of course it’s not just the kids that have failed us, lets save some ire for the parents who refuse to hold their kids accountable, like maybe spanking the little reprobates.
It’s all very tiring to tell the truth.
So if there’s nothing new in general with this meme, what can we learn from digging into the specifics?
Let’s start with the absurdity of putting “brutality” in scare quotes (or sneer quotes if you will.) It’s September of 2015 as I write this, the last year has seen a number of highly publicized incidents, from the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th 2014; to the April deaths of Walter Scott in South Carolina and the death of Freddie Grey while being transported in a Baltimore police van.
Context matters. Creating and sharing a meme like this in the age of #blacklivesmatter, at a time when grand juries are finally handing down indictments in police misconduct cases, at a time when the nation is finally beginning to grapple with the reality of police violence towards citizens, especially African American citizens, is particularly obtuse. It’s a gross disregard for the lives of people impacted by police violence, denying them the dignity of being considered as victims. Instead their fate at the hands of the police is justified.
And justified in truly bizarre language. The fault isn’t laid specifically at black culture or black youth, even though anyone with half an ounce of sense knows what they are talking about. Instead the fault is laid onto an “entire generation of spoiled entitled brats”. Who the fuck are they talking about? I’m used to “spoiled and entitled brats” to be flung at kids these days but it’s usually in the context of white youth and white cultural degradation. I’ve heard a lot of insults I won’t repeat here thrown at the high profile victims of police misconduct, but “spoiled” seems really off key to me. And entitled? That’s the oddest form of “uppity” I’ve seen in awhile.
As for the parents who refuse to “hold their little kiddos accountable for their behavior”, well victim blaming is something that can be visited upon the survivors as well. In fact the media has often had a particular disdain for the parents of police brutality victims. After 12 year old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police officers for the heinous crime of playing with a toy gun in the park, Cleveland.com decided that his parents criminal records and domestic situation were somehow relevant. In any case, why focus on generational politics and parents at all? Michael Brown was 19 years old. Walter Scott was 50. Freddie Grey was 25. Men from completely different generations, they had one thing in common really, they were black and they were killed by the police.
I’m coming down pretty hard on the cops in this piece, I’ll admit to being angry. My hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio is no stranger to police violence, from the death of Timothy Thomas in 2001 that sparked riots in my beloved Over the Rhine, to the recent shooting of Samuel DuBose, I’ve seen how these incidents can rip a city apart and rub souls raw with anguish. The kind of pig headed denial represented by this meme is just pathetic. Please, push back against this kind of crap wherever you find it.
Featured Image Credit Joan Concilio on Flickr