Monday, July 21, 2008

As ye sow, so shall ye reap

Yesterday, Katie continued her patrol of the ugly depths of her sociopathic soul in a column titled Monsters who beat dad come straight out of today's culture. Spot will leave it to others to discuss more fully the not-so-subtle racism of Katie and some of her, well, followers. From the column:

The savage attack at Valleyfair on the night of July 4 horrified Minnesotans. A father was beaten and kicked unconscious as he tried to protect his 12-year-old daughter from being sexually groped by two men.

After the father intervened, the men used a cell phone to summon six others to "get these bitches," according to a complaint filed in Scott County District Court. Eight males assaulted the father as his wife and daughters strove frantically to help him.

"We see assaults, but that's brutal," one police officer said.

Did these monsters descend out of nowhere on Valleyfair, a place we associate with wholesome family fun? Hardly. The attitudes they acted out in extreme fashion are part of a culture that is all around us and flourishes with our blessing.

Katie goes on to blame hip-hop culture for the assault. Let's be clear: these were  vicious, cowardly, and loathsome acts by these men. Acts that need to be punished.

Katie cannot resist mentioning one rapper in particular:

[Pharrell] Williams is lionized by our tastemakers, opinion leaders, media and entertainment moguls. In 2005, Esquire magazine named him "best-dressed man in the world." Louis Vuitton has signed a deal with him for a jewelry line. In August, Williams' band, N*E*R*D, will appear in connection with the Democratic National Convention in Denver, according to

The Democratic National Convention, can you imagine!

But it's not Katie's bigotry that Spot wants to talk about today. Rather, he wants to visit Katie's assumptions about culture. Katie thinks that culture creates the people - the society - who do stuff like this.

Spot thinks that is more or less backwards. It is society that creates culture. Sure, the two are mutually reinforcing, but for the most part, culture is the consequence, not the cause.

In Katie's World, all you have to do is eliminate hip-hop culture to make the world a safer place. Parenthetically, weren't Elvis Presley, rock 'n roll, and jazz all decried as degenerate in their own time?

Young men who commit acts like the assault at Valley Fair come from some place deeper than superficial, popular culture. They, or at least many of them, come out of a society that failed to provide any nuturance or realistic promise of reward to an entire - and growing -  segment of that society. Young men who were raised in homelessness, poverty, and illiteracy. The Wal-Mart society that Katie loves so much.

They come out of a national society that rewards throwing your weight around in just about every way possible: economically and militarily, to cite just a couple of examples. The social Darwinism that has held sway all of Spot's adult life has more to do with the assault at Valley Fair than hip-hop culture does.

But Spot, what about personal responsibility? Isn't that important?

Of course it is, grasshopper. But you know, human nature is pretty immutable. You can take any group you want and marginalize them, and a certain percentage of them will become violent, vengeful, nihilistic. The more people you marginalize, the more nihilists you get. It really is about that simple. And believe Spot when he says it is true of Katie's crowd, too.

To take one simple example of the lack of nuturance and promise that Spot is talking about. Last week, Katie had a column extolling the virtues of a new school coming to town:

Six years ago, Mike Spangenberg was just a typical college kid who wanted to change the world. "I was big on social justice issues," he says. "I wanted to go to law school, because I thought that was the way to gain access to power."

Social inequality was what fired him most. "It seemed so clearly wrong to me that your ZIP code has such a profound impact on your chances in life," he says.

Then one day, during his senior year at the University of Connecticut, Spangenberg was paging through the campus newspaper while waiting for an English class to begin. An ad for Teach for America caught his eye. In a moment, his law school plans evaporated. "I thought, 'Here's my chance -- here's how I can do all the things I care about," he says. A few months later, he began what became four years of teaching in gritty, inner-city Philadelphia.

Now Spangenberg, who grew up in Maple Grove, is back in the Twin Cities. At age 27, he's continuing his crusade for educational equality as director of Stand Academy, a new charter school in downtown Minneapolis.

Mike sounds like a admirable kid, but the key word is kid. Mike would undoubtedly get carded at the 331 Club where Drinking Liberally meets, yet he is apparently going to be put in charge of public resources coming right out of public school budgets. And people like Katie think this is good. And all the while, as we build more big box retailers and chip away at our social institutions like the public schools, the ranks of the feral children, the nihilists, grow.

Mike's got one thing right: your zip code shouldn't determine your chances in life. But charter schools aren't the answer; they are admission of defeat. Or maybe an incitement to defeat in Katie's case.

There was a plaintive letter from Harry Davis, Jr. in the Strib last Friday. Spot reproduces it in full:

The increase in the number of charter schools and the opportunity for students to have alternative choices for education is a great development for parents and students.

However, let us not forget that 77 percent of all U.S. students are educated in school districts. We cannot let our school district schools fail. There is not a backup plan to educate our masses.

Public schools have challenges and can improve -- and they will.

Spot will put it even stronger, Harry; they must improve, because that's where most kids go to school. The alternative is to slide into the Latin American model, where the wealthy live in gated enclaves, guarded by private security guards with shotguns. That's a pattern that's beginning to emerge already.

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