I overheard two regulars talking in the library today. They are both white men over 50. To be honest, only one was talking – the other was listening.
He was talking about the police officer who pulled a gun on unarmed teenagers at the pool party. He was sympathizing with the police officer, saying that he had attended two suicides that morning – and went into graphic detail about one of them. I was considering telling him to be mindful of where he was at that point alone. Small children do not need to hear brutal details like this. Heck – I don’t need to hear them.
But what made me speak up was that he kept going on about the officer, and the kids, saying that they were wild and unparented.
I leaned in and said “That still does not give him the right to pull a gun on unarmed teenagers.”
He agreed – but as I was walking away he then said to his companion that he would have shot them.
I continued to walk away. There are only so many battles to be had.
A few minutes later he caught up with me at the front desk. So many people think of us as a sympathetic ear there. We have to listen – right? Public servant, and all. We are trapped behind the desk. We can’t defend ourselves.
He said that so many of these kids weren’t being raised by parents, but by their grandparents. He is generalizing, and stereotyping. He doesn’t know these kids or what their home life is like.
I repeated – that still does not give him the right to pull a gun on them.
He said “You know what I would have done? I would have pulled a billy club on them!”
I said “That is unfortunate.” and walked away from the desk. He is unreasonable and it isn’t worth continuing the discussion with someone who speaks like this.
Note that in front of me he changed what he would have done from shooting them to striking them with a billy club.
As I was walking away, he again repeated that the officer had attended two suicides that morning. I did not respond.
Whether that is true or not – does seeing someone kill himself give another person a right to kill?
To be silent to injustice is to condone it. Will he change because of what I said? Doubtful. But that wasn’t the point. It would be great if he changed, but if I didn’t speak up I would have been part of the problem. I don’t feel qualified to have long debates on any hot topics. I do better with writing than speaking. But I had to – because to me, his words were the same as hitting someone in the face. I have to speak up, or the violence will continue. The poison that he was spewing would spread. I cannot allow this to happen in front of me.