Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Death By Accident

In her recent book Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing, Megan Smolenyak-Smolenyak writes about a young African-American man in Texas who was killed during the Civil Rights movement. He was shot in the head three times and his death was determined to be accidental.

Ms. Smolenyak writes of being shocked at these conclusions. “How could firing several rounds into a local hangout be accidental?” she asks.

All of this reminds me of a story during my graduate studies in Georgia. I was attending class with a fellow student, a justice of the Georgia courts. At the time there were multiple news reports about a young man who had been shot several times and his death ruled a suicide. At the beginning of class one evening I wondered, aloud, how could anyone be shot several times and still be ruled a suicide. The justice, my colleague, simply commented, “You obviously haven’t lived in the South very long.”

In addition to racism, these stories indicate significant regionalism. Police in the South are, to this day, more inclined to draw a mental line between two points and come up with the most straight forward conclusion. If someone is shot and there are no witnesses, it must be suicide. Any incongruities that might hinder this conclusion are best ignored. And life goes on.

I guess I have lived in the South long enough because a man shot through a window, several times, ruled an accident in really not shocking, nor surprising.

I suppose I am way too cynical.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Idle Thought

Some of you may have noticed that I am writing a weekly column for the Sherburne County Citizen and the West Sherburne Tribune. The column doesn’t always appear, but that is the chance you take when writing for a newspaper. The point of all of this is that because I am writing more, it is becoming a bit more difficult to write exclusively for this blog. I will try to put together some interesting writing, but it may be a bit less often.

Anyway, while surfing the columns of historic newspapers in Sherburne County I came across an interesting, brief comment that says a great deal about life and family duties in Sherburne County around 1900. Published in the Sherburne County Times, 21 April 1898, it reads: “Mrs. J. H. Sherpardson’s nurse has gone to the city, and J. H. has to do the household work now.”

This is interesting that the fact the newspaper takes note of J.H Shepardson having to “do the household work” implies he hasn’t done it for some time. The poor man has to suddenly take care of himself while his wife recovers from some unknown illness.

Am I reading too much “between the lines” of this report? I don’t think so.

Finally, sympathy for J. H. Shepardson is 114 years too late, but I think we should all express some (sarcastic) pity for this man. And recognize the hard work of his wife and all women of that time.

This is all just idle thinking while I have a moment.