Richard Carnes: What’s an atheist look like?
Given my personal stance on anything involving archaic beliefs in the supernatural (ghosts, miracles, virgin births, flooding the entire planet to kill everyone except a few incestuous couples out of pure everlasting love, etc.), I nominate myself to put the secular spin on our latest Happy Valley end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it issue.
After reading last week’s press release from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office about the alleged “Jewish-looking” burglar (my words, people, my words, just calm down … ), my first thought was, “Whoa, Sammy Davis Jr. is robbing houses in Miller Ranch?”
And I thought the Candyman kicked the bucket years ago.
Seriously, it’s like someone insensitively stereotyping me by saying, “Man, you don’t look like a nontheist.”
So let’s narrow this matter down to its lowest common denominator, that way we can find the true source of all the commotion and handle it accordingly.
A human being (the alleged victim), confronts a would-be burglar inside their home and chases the alleged perpetrator out the door.
Victim calls the Sheriff’s Office, which sends an officer to do his or her job.
Victim, who has every right to be a tad agitated over the entire ordeal, describes the culprit the best way they can remember, most likely using the very first words that popped into their overstimulated head, which were not the brightest. This is just an assumption, as I have never been is such a situation, but my guess is that it’s relatively hard to pick and choose one’s words too damn carefully right after chasing some piece of human trash with legs out of one’s home.
The officer writes down – verbatim – the exact description and transmits the report to someone at the main office, who in turn sends the same description (after hopefully editing out improper adjectives and perhaps a few inappropriate verbs) in a press release – which was not the brightest move in their career.
Their purpose is not to win a Pulitzer but completely singular: Catch the scumbag.
Both local daily papers publish the press release (yes, both published the exact same words) in order to inform the public of scumbag’s presence and maybe, just maybe, to help catch this fool. Again, not the brightest editing either could have managed.
As of Sunday, they have not caught the man, but local law enforcement has eliminated the girl in the car with Nebraska plates, so those of you stereotyping female Cornhuskers need to find another brush with which to paint your outrage.
This leaves us, of course, with the obvious major evildoer – the victim. None of this would be happening if the victim had been better schooled in the proper etiquette of emergency expression, so let’s give him (or her) the traditional verbal tar and feather treatment.
That’ll teach ’em.
The ironic twist here is that the actual victim is of Asian descent, so hey, now we can really run wild with nasty stereotypes.
But I truly wonder, what if the burglar had been described by the Asian victim as “he was one of those Jesus-looking type guys, you know, long scraggly hair, uneven beard, used his own name in vain when I confronted him … “
Would we even be having this discussion?
Either way, I think we should just catch this jackass, be happy that everyone along the way had a chance to learn (or re-learn) a lesson about sensitivity and move on to the next issue.
Life’s short enough as it is.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.