General Question

Ponderer983's avatar

What do you think about this comparison floating around on Facebook?

Asked by Ponderer983 (6406points) July 30th, 2012

I can’t link to the photo, but it is explained very easily. It’s a picture of Trayvon Martin and James Homes. The caption reads, “They were so busy looking for the kid in the hoodie that they missed the clown in the red hair with the machine gun.” What do you think of the whole thing? I am reserving my opinion on it for now, and have not commented to my friend yet how I feel about it. I want to know the collective’s reaction and see the ways you guys take it to mean.

If it matters, this was posted by a black friend of mine.

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27 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I think that it is an easy comparison to make, but it doesn’t make any sense.

zenvelo's avatar

It’s a visceral reaction to the way many people feel persecuted for the way they look. An innocent kid is considered suspicious, while a young man armed to the teeth isn’t questioned, and both assumptions are based on race.

DrBill's avatar

It sounds to me like another case of a black person trying to make a race issue where one does not exist.

TexasDude's avatar

Dumb and doesn’t make any sense, just like most easily digested images that circulate widely on Facebook and attempt to make some kind of profound statement.

It’s an apples to oranges comparison about two unrelated events that happened with a considerable amount of temporal distance between them. Also, Holmes didn’t have a “machine gun.” (Words have meanings and incorrect terminology makes you sound stupid or uninformed).

Buttonstc's avatar

Most of the stuff posted on Facebook is nonsense so I pay little attention to most of it.

Obviously when he (Holmes) FIRST entered the theater he was not armed to the teeth. And when he came back in it was totally dark.

There are PLENTY of people of all races with weird hair so that’s appropos of nothing.

What? You’ve never seen black people with bleach blond hair as well as other colors.

In this day and age all kinds of people have all sorts of weirdo hairstyles and most of us don’t bat an eyelash.

The whole statement is ridiculous to begin with. The two cases have nothing in common.

If one wants to make a statement on the injustice of Trayvon Martins death, then by all means do so. But facile comparisons to this recent incident cheapens the intent.

But, that’s Facebook for ya. Typically banal and moronic.

Buttonstc's avatar


Obviously I was typing while you posted. You made my point more succinctly.

Well you know what they say about great minds…...


TexasDude's avatar

@Buttonstc I actually think you said it a lot better than I did. These two events are not comparable. Not even to make some kind of point, and the soundbite comparison that @Ponderer983 is asking us about just doesn’t make any sense.

Buttonstc's avatar

Plus, I imagine that Trayvons parents wouldnt exactly be thrilled at their sons name being dragged into this either.

But I guess there will be plenty of people reflexively hitting the Like button (for all that means). So maybe that’s what the guy posting it was looking for anyhow.

God forbid, the situation should spark a thoughtful conversation about the mental health care system in the US and/or the lapse of the assault weapon prohibition.

That would actually require some effort other than merely mouse clicking a button.

Trillian's avatar

Sounds like your typical mindless facebook crap.

SavoirFaire's avatar

It makes about as much sense as blaming the Chinese for allowing Jeffrey Dahmer to go on murdering people for 13 years because they were too busy violating people’s human rights. They’re both terrible things, but neither caused the other.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I’ve also seen this floating around facebook about the difference between how James Holmes looks.

TexasDude's avatar

@athenasgriffin people looking for damn conspiracies everywhere.

Ponderer983's avatar

So I am glad that everyone, unanimously, has essentially agreed with my reaction. I was really appalled when I saw it because there was such a disconnect between the 2 that it made no sense to me. Also that black people will still look for a way to spin things towards racism. Now my issue is how do I go about telling the person who posted it that it’s such a ridiculous thing to perpetuate? I don’t want to come across as a white supremacist to my friend, but this has really gotten under my skin for some reason.

TexasDude's avatar

@Ponderer983 one thing I’ve learned about facebook is you’ll be a lot happier if you just let shit go. It’s really not worth it.

Trillian's avatar

@Ponderer983 Don’t waste your time. People choose how they look at things, and if they lack the capacity for critical thought, nothing you can say will make a dent. I believe the phrase is; “Deliberately obtuse.”
I could be wrong.

Ponderer983's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard and @Trillian I totally understand what you are saying, and most of the time I do let this kind of stuff go. I think what is bothering me is that this is a guy who usually has something knowledgeable to say about many social issues today, so for him to endorse this was way out of left field for him. But yeah, maybe not worth it. I’ll sleep on it and see how my mood is tomorrow.

Buttonstc's avatar


You aren’t really required to say anything at all.

For this situation and all other future nonsense you encounter on FB, just repeat the following at least three times and more as necessary until the impulse to reply passes.

“It’s only Facebook…It’s only…”

Well, you get the idea. Pretty soon it will become second nature and you’ll be much happier for it.

Then come join the rest of us in the real world who live full and happy lives in which FB is an occasional afterthought floating around the periphery.

Just because almost everybody thinks FB is the best thing since sliced bread doesn’t mean you have to treat it likewise.

This too shall pass.

Ponderer983's avatar

@Buttonstc Haha! Well said my friend.

Response moderated (Spam)
SavoirFaire's avatar

@Ponderer983 Admittedly, I only have the details given in the OP to go on. From what you’ve said so far, however, you are the one interpreting the image as having something to do with race. The text does not mention the race of either Martin or Holmes. Indeed, my interpretation of the image is that it is a rather garbled and confused critique of law enforcement priorities and/or American gun politics. So when you say that your’re appalled “black people will still look for a way to spin things towards racism,” at least two things come to my mind.

First, it seems quite the sweeping generalization to say that “black people” are the ones who “spin things towards racism.” The people who play race politics are an incredibly diverse lot, and I would not take any of them as representative of their race. Just as we cannot generalize to all (or most) white people on the grounds of a single Klansman making disparaging comments about Martin Luther King, Jr. or to all (or most) Asians on the grounds of a single Chinese person saying something hateful about the Japanese, we cannot generalize to all (or most) black people on the grounds of a single black person posting an image on Facebook (and that’s if there was any racial motivation to do so in the first place).

Second, it seems to me that you are the one imposing a racial reading onto the image. You are assuming that one of the people in the image being black and the person who you saw post the image onto Facebook being black are sufficient evidence that this is about race. In other words, you are the one who has based your interpretation on race. It is unlikely that your friend is the one who created the image, however, so reading his race into the image’s intent is premature. Nor do we know that your friend is thinking about the image in terms of race. As far as we know, then, you are the one reacting on racial preconceptions here.

Unless your friend makes a comment saying that race is a key difference in the two cases without being prompted by someone else starting a conversation about race, I don’t think we can say with any confidence that this is a case of your friend “spinning things towards racism.” Everyone’s skin has some color or another. It was inevitable, then, that everyone in the image would have a skin color and that your friend would as well. Whether or not it is a coincidence that your friend’s skin color happens to match the skin color of one of the people in the image is yet to be seen. I imagine plenty of white people have posted this image, however, and we’re not accusing them of race politics nor are we making statements that “white people will still look for a way to spin things towards racism.”

Ponderer983's avatar

@SavoirFaire He did mention it being about race when he reposted the picture.

Patton's avatar

@Ponderer983 So you say now. Lucky that @SavoirFaire gave you a way out. But I think you wouldn’t have downplayed race in the OP if you really had that kind of detail to give. It’s only now that you’ve been called out on it that you bring it up. Even if you’re telling the truth, maybe it’s worth thinking about why a black person sees racial implications everywhere. You want to be appalled, but it’s easy to be appalled when you don’t have to be constantly aware of race the way that someone in a racial minority does. Maybe there is something to the fact that a black kid’s clothes make him “suspicious,” but a white kid arming himself to the teeth doesn’t. It’s a stupid comparison the way you tell the story of the image, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a point underneath it. I’ve seen a similar image that has a picture of Holmes and the text “if I were a Muslim, what I did would be considered terrorism.” Like the image you describe, the comparison isn’t great. What Homes did is terrorism, and a lot of people realize it. But there is a good point underneath it about how different the reactions would be if a Muslim had shot up a theater. We’d jump to conclusions that it had something to do with his religion even before we knew if it really did influence him, which is something we don’t do with Christians (who commit the majority of crimes in America).

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Patton I am happy to take @Ponderer983‘s word that the friend mentioned race when posting the picture. If I gave anyone a way out, it was myself. Without knowing the full context, there was only so much that I could assert. Besides, most of what I said still stands regardless of the friend. It is still a sweeping generalization to judge a group based on a single individual, and it is still the case that the image itself does not mention race (regardless of how it might resonate with the friend in question).

This is not to say that the friend does not have a good reason to bring race into the picture. Perhaps something like what you suggested is behind it. And even if the friend brought up race first, it could still be the case that further racial interpretations are being imposed on the picture-plus-comment. But just as I do not think it is useful to be accusatory towards the friend, I do not think it is useful to be accusatory towards @Ponderer983.

The fact is that racism cannot be solved by a change in laws, the election of an individual, or any other purely formal or symbolic action. It will be the result of a lot of awkward conversations in which people honestly discuss and work through their preconceptions. People need to be free to say “hey, I have this impression” and others need to be free to say “hey, here’s why I think that’s messed up” without it becoming a case of “no, we will not discuss that because it’s racist.”

Ponderer983's avatar

@Patton I never mentioned it because, like I said, I wanted to know what people thought of the comparison without my influence, or the influence of what my friend had said about it. And, after I posted this question originally, my friend has re-posted the photo because, and I quote, “so today he will be in the news again….sorry but had to re-post this cause it’s so true.”

Patton's avatar

@SavoirFaire @Ponderer983 Assuming the racial context really did exist on Facebook, I still find it telling that people on Fluther imposed race on the picture without the comment. And that makes me think that @Ponderer983 could still be imposing a lot on it. He says his friend is spinning it into a race issue, but maybe it is a race issue and there is no spinning. Maybe we should be appalled that people will jump to the conclusion that all talk of race is spin and not getting at something genuine. A black kid gets shot and people ask “what did he do that led someone to shoot him?” a white kid gets shot and people ask “what did someone do that led him to shoot people?” Maybe instead of being upset at black people mentioning racism we should open our eyes to the possibility that there’s still a lot of racism around to be mentioned.

Ponderer983's avatar

@Patton I respect your response. As you mentioned, maybe there is something to it being a race issue. But you are the first person I think to come at this from that point of view, that it is a legitimate racial issue. I was trying to see if someone could justify that angle or at least make a good case for the validity of the racial undertones of the photo.

BTW – Me = She

Patton's avatar

@Ponderer983 I actually agree with @SavoirFaire that the photo itself doesn’t have racial undertones and that your friend imposed them as much as a few Flutherites did. And I already said that I think the photo is kind of stupid. But I do think that there is a legitimate underlying issue, and I think that’s what your friend was picking up on even if the photo did not provide the best occasion for it.

P.S. Sorry for the gender confusion!

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