Saturday, September 15, 2007
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
I drank, I drove, I got busted. You already know this. Among the numerous brainwashing sessions incumbent upon me, the victim impact panel has been the worst.
Deep in the churning bowels of the Cook County Courthouse at Rolling Meadows (across the street from the horse racing track) lies a horrible subterranean room with an impossibly low ceiling and tiny little bucket chairs arranged in tightly compacted rows. Buzzing florescent lights flicker, poorly amplified microphones buzz and pop, clogged outdated ventilation wheezes and clanks but fails to circulate oxygen in any meaningful way. Guilty folk such as myself are squeezed into the dirty rows of old cracked chairs, elbow to elbow, to breathe upon one another, to jostle, to squirm, and to wallow in collective guilt.
The municipality, in conjunction with the local Alliance Against Drunk Driving, conducts two hour seminars twice monthly. Damaged people stand before us, offering tearful heartfelt testimonials, recounting the deaths of loved ones, the permanent paralyzing of children, the infinite tragedy brought about by the thoughtlessness and negligence of alcohol addled motorists. Like me.
I arrived with my heart cast in stone, my mind sheathed in cynicism, utterly and totally cold to the plight of these pious fucks who wished to baptize me in fear and regret.
They drew their arrows of tragedy and let fly.
I was spared the guy whose mother, aunt, and stepfather were killed by a drunk. He would've been wheeled in, neck leaning, drooling, pathetically quadriplegic in his wheelchair, for the lot of us to ogle in horror and disgust. He was absent due to the fact that he was away at law school, simultaneously studying for the bar exam while having a nurse insert a catheter into his numb dick to allow for clean urination.
Instead, they played a slideshow of his family photo album, before and after the crash, set to a multiple copyright violation soundtrack of the Beatles' "Help" and several current horrible pop punk songs by bands like Good Charlotte. I got the point, but it was belabored and tastelessly done, inducing exasperation and even hatred on my part.
I didn't give a blue fuck that his life was destroyed. Sue me. I'm a suburbanite, and I don't give a shit about anybody but myself. I'm an American.
The next guy I liked a bit better. His daughter and three of her friends were killed one morning in Naperville in October 1997. His speech was eloquent and heartfelt, but most importantly to me, skillfully told, with foreshadowing and suspense, despite the inevitable outcome, given the topic at hand.
That is, for the first half. The story portion. After that, he spent another half hour recounting the girl's social activity, academic activity, and utter specialness. I wondered: why is everyone whose story is shared here middle to upper class, white, and shining examples of suburban bliss?
How come I haven't seen such outpourings of sympathy and grief for victims of gang violence, poverty? Blacks, Hispanics? Where's the outrage over the War in Iraq, the injustices and violence perpetrated upon both American soldiers and the little brown people we're vaporizing daily? Because it didn't hit us at home. It doesn't matter until it happens to us, personally. We're selfish people. All humans are. As I realized this, the little tentacles of compassion worming their way up my gut evaporated.
Hear no evil, see no evil, everything is fine until the blood spills on OUR porches. The American Way. I'm not so cruel, I'm only typical.
The outrage and tragedy I'm presented with here is myopic. This man's daughter died ten years ago. He's manipulating me, yanking at my heartstrings like a low budget soap opera. He may be trying to do a good thing, and maybe he is, but he's wallowing in a horror from a decade past, refusing to move on, and enjoying his sadness in public atop his weeping soapbox. He loves jerking at tear ducts.
This is perverse, I realize. This is sickening, and not for the reasons he presents.
Maybe I'm a shit. A bastard. However, I learned a long time ago that life ain't fair. I'm not going to have a guilt orgy to satiate these speakers' appetites.
I'm sorry, but tough shit. Shit happens, too bad. People die all the time. Fact. One day something ugly and evil will happen to me, and I won't expect the world to drop to its' knees and weep for me. I'm a stoic.
Stow that utopian "it didn't have to happen" bullshit away. Keep it private. Have some dignity.
Call me an asshole. Fine. The reason I won't drink and drive anymore is because I don't want to die. And because it's financially expensive. I'm pragmatic. I don't care about your well being or your misfortunes. That's mutual, even if your little baby girl is gone now. You still don't care about me at all. Not a bit.
Buy some body armor for troops. Buy some books for poor schools. Your tunnel vision focusing on this statistically minor problem is perverted and self indulgent. Keep your slimy hands off my emotions.
I know you wouldn't give a shit if I got hit by a bus tomorrow. Your sincerity is so insincere, you fucking filthy victims. 1:12 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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