By Mick Dumdell
Wanna see a little White Privilege in action??? I first read this story by AG GANCARSKI within an article at Legal Insurrection. Here it is, and notice how the word, “thugs” does NOT get thrown around, and nobody gets shot, or thrown to the ground:
Lane Pittman and White Skin Privilege
Hundreds of people crowded around. As Pittman told First Coast News, “I was so excited. I had been planning this for months and I never played the National Anthem so well.”
There’s something to be said for that. I reckon. Can you picture this guy practicing, night after night, listening to the Hendrix version from the Woodstock soundtrack? That’s how I see it going down. There is something quintessentially American about that. Specifically, the intersection of white skin privilege and callow self-indulgence.
You know what else is quintessentially American? Small town police reactions. Apple pie, Mark McGwire, Tiger Woods, Union Carbide and Anthony Weiner all rolled up into a sucrose surprise in a fluffy pastry shell. So American, and it got served up to Lane Pittman.
Pittman got a few notes in, and then a peace officer played Name That Tune.
“He said ‘if you want to go to jail then you will keep playing,” said Pittman in that same FCN dispatch. “And, I was, like, are you serious? He said you can’t play in the middle of the street. I said, can I move it back to the sidewalk?”
The art of getting to yes. Pittman, who looks like a cross between Randee of the Redwoods and Don’t Tase Me Bro, somehow thought he could negotiate with a police officer. Ask D’Angelo. Ask Devanta. Ask PINAC. Ask the Jax 19. Clearly, Pittman doesn’t watch the news. Failing that, he clearly doesn’t get that his act isn’t nearly as cute as he thought it was. He finished playing the song. Then? A fan club meeting!
“They walked me over to the patrol car. They told me I could leave my stuff because they just needed to speak with me. I got to the cop car and they told me to spread my legs and put my hands behind my back and I was, like, oh my gosh. I am getting arrested right now,” Pittman said.
Who would have thunk it? In Neptune Beach, suspects get to reenact the Rick James Superfreak album cover.
The cops say that people were spitting on police cars. And hollering. That’s not a good scene at all. They also say the issue isn’t the guitar-playing, but the street obstruction. Now, if you’re looking for Lane Pittman to become Henry David Thoreau, you’re likely gonna be disappointed, if this quotation is any indication.
“People who know me know that I’m not that type of person to defy the law,” Pittman said.
Hold up. The fact is that we all defy the law. 56 in a 55? Defying the law. Gunning it through a yellow? Defying the law. Not having everything that can go wrong actually go wrong? Defying Murphy’s Law. When you get a warning from a cop, and persist in what you’re doing, you take a chance to defy the law. What was this chance for, exactly? Justice for D’Angelo? He wouldn’t know D’Angelo from DiGiorno.
An banal act of bourgeois rebellion, with nothing at stake. No principle of justice is in play here. No higher cause. Just a “Look at me, Ma, I’m shredding.” He wants the charges dropped? So did about 19 people on a local bridge in December. They obstructed a roadway also. And they had an actual reason; they wanted to call attention to what they saw as institutionalized racism. Did they claim they weren’t defying the law? To be sure, they quibbled about how substantially they’d broken the law. But they knew they were making a larger point. One that required drastic action.
Agree with it; disagree with it. Hate it or love it, or take a middle ground. But here’s the reality. Pittman thought he could get away with making a fool of the cops because he was a middle-class white dude who clearly has gotten away with crap like that his entire life.
Isn’t this story just so precious! Don’t you just love stories about the police and rowdy youth that don’t end up with a chalk outline on the ground, and yellow crime-scene tape everywhere? I know I do! If you like this kind of story, just watch for it the next time a white man gets arrested. But if you want something different, consider the other street blockage that the author was talking about. The one that wasn’t so polite, and restrained. From December 2014:
Built in 1967, the Isaiah D. Hart Bridge spans 3,844 feet from end to end, and stands 141 feet above the St. Johns River — a lethal drop, as the past well attests. When a loose collective of activists walked out of their stopped cars on that bridge during rush hour last Monday, Dec. 8, to protest police violence, they were most assuredly putting their lives at risk, and most certainly inconveniencing the hell out of the poor drivers behind them. (One told Folio Weekly that he missed a chemotherapy appointment because of the protest.) For the protesters, however, the cause was worth the risk, worth the roadway enmity, worth the arrests.
Nineteen people were arrested on the bridge that day — 11 men and eight women, 12 black and seven white, ages ranging from 21 to 54. Most were given misdemeanor citations for obstructing a highway; one woman was hit with two felony charges for resisting arrest.
Multiple protesters say Jacksonville Sheriff’s officers confiscated all of their cell phones and recording equipment, after what some describe as possible incidents of police brutality, which they say their recordings may have captured.
There is a lot more at the link. But don’t read that story if you like happy, happy, feel good stories like our National Anthem playing white guy.
Yours very truly,
FootNote 1. Here is the link to the Legal Insurrection story on this:
FootNote 2. The Image is from one of the bizarre movies ever made, Johnny Guitar. I won’t do spoilers on the convoluted plot. Here is a blurb from Wiki:
Johnny Guitar is a 1954 American Republic Pictures western drama film starring Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, and Scott Brady.
The screenplay was based upon a novel by Roy Chanslor. Though credited to Philip Yordan, he was merely a front for the actual screenwriter, blacklistee Ben Maddow. Filmed in Republic’s Trucolor process, the film was directed by Nicholas Ray and produced by Herbert J. Yates.
In 2008, Johnny Guitar was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”
Many critics[who?] have pointed out that the film is a hidden commentary on the McCarthy witch-hunts. The film is more than just a Western – Truffaut, who admired the film, called it “a phony Western”.[this quote needs a citation]
In an interview in the Criterion Collection release of The Killing, Sterling Hayden stated that he did not care for Johnny Guitar. “They put string, like you get at the grocery store, over my guitar in case I accidentally hit them,” he said, acknowledging that “I can’t play guitar, and can’t sing a good-goddamn, either.” “I was at war on that film, during the daytime, with Joan Crawford,” he recalled, “and at night with my second wife.” Despite his reservations about the film, Hayden acknowledged its popularity.
According to Martin Scorsese, contemporary American audiences “didn’t know what to make of it, so they either ignored it or laughed at it.” European audiences, on the other hand, free of conventional biases, saw Johnny Guitar for what it was: “an intense, unconventional, stylized picture, full of ambiguities and subtexts that rendered it extremely modern.”