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The hoodie rallies

by Greg Krehbiel on 23 March 2012

One persistent problem in our culture is the inability to deal with stereotypes honestly.

Some people are offended that others make judgments based on stereotypes, so they react against it.

I had a neighbor who used to park in a train station lot next to a university. Her car sat there all day with nobody around — except the occasional college kid.

She always bought very expensive car stereos, and (surprise!) they were regularly stolen. When a cop suggested that maybe she shouldn’t buy such expensive stereos if she’s going to be leaving her car in a place like that, she was indignant.

“Why should I have to change my behavior because they’re breaking the law?”

Well … maybe you should change your behavior if you don’t want your stereo stolen.

Rather than thinking practically, some people insist on thinking about these things like they’re some kind of Grand Moral Crusade. They’re more worried about “rights” than reality.

Remember the “slut walks”? These women were saying “we should be able to dress like sluts if we want to.”

These are people who don’t want to admit that ideas and actions have consequences.

Maybe in somebody’s concept of an ideal world, a woman should be able to dress however she wants and never get hit on, or spoken to in a way she doesn’t like, or leered at, or raped, or whatever.

Sure. But if you don’t want to be leered at, don’t dress that way. (Obviously women shouldn’t be mistreated no matter how they’re dressed. But shouldn’t isn’t the only question.)

So now we have that horrible story of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Geraldo Rivera has suggested that the hoodie might bear some of the blame.

I think it’s a dumb thing to say, especially so soon after the tragedy, but Geraldo’s point is that if you dress in a way that associates you with troublemakers, people might treat you like a troublemaker. (I am not in any way justifying the shooting, BTW.)

So given the way people seem to react to this kind of stuff, I predict we’re going to see “hoodie rallies.”

“We have a right to dress like gangsters and not be treated any differently.”

Again …. Maybe so, but there’s also this thing called reality. Maybe people shouldn’t judge you by what you wear, or by whether you’re attractive, or by how tall you are, or by whether you’ve colored your hair orange. That doesn’t change the fact that they will.

-- 2012-03-23  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 15

  1. pentamom pentamom
    23 March 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    Similar arguments are made about tax policies: “If you tax economic activity X at a high rate, economic activity X is going to cease/go offshore, leaving us worse off than before.”

    “Well, the people who do that are just unpatriotic and selfish!”

    Yes, well, maybe. So?

  2. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    23 March 2012 @ 3:31 pm

    Reality has a well-known reality bias. :-)

    Apparently my prediction came a little too late. It’s already started.

    I wrote my post before I saw that. I just can’t prove it. :-)

  3. RootCzar
    23 March 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    I feel like I shouldn’t agree with you … But I kinda do. :-D

    LOL! Have a good weekend, Greg!

  4. smitemouth
    23 March 2012 @ 5:29 pm

    Both my kids have hoodies. All of their friends have hoodies. These are white kids who don’t listen to rap. They buy them at the mall at Aeropostale. Never thought of them as criminal wear. Have owned a hoodie or two myself back in the day. I bet the bastard was wearing jeans and sneakers as well–obvious criminal.

  5. pentamom pentamom
    23 March 2012 @ 8:50 pm

    If you wear the hoodie up around your face in Florida and it’s not a rainstorm, you look like a gangster. I can see the divide pretty clearly when I’m out and about; I’m surprised it eludes smitemouth. The people who wear their hoods up everywhere in public regardless of weather (regardless of race) are *also* the people who present as gangsta-style. The other people who wear hoodies (self and my kids included) don’t do that. “Hoodie” is short-hand for that way of wearing it and otherwise bearing oneself; it’s not the garment itself.

  6. pentamom pentamom
    23 March 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    Obviously the guy doesn’t “deserve” to get shot because of how he wears his hoodie — it’s like Greg said. If you don’t want to be assumed to be criminal, don’t assume the distinguishing outward marks of someone who identifies with criminals. It’s not fair; life isn’t.

  7. RootCzar
    23 March 2012 @ 11:26 pm

    does anyone know how Trayvon was wearing his hoodie?

  8. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    24 March 2012 @ 8:51 am

    Aren’t we missing the more important point? More than 20 states have these so-called Stand Your Ground laws. They are an invitation for some idiot who believes his or her fears are reality to shoot an innocent person.

    As an example, I was walking across campus returning to my car at U of Md. There was a young woman walking ahead of me. I tend to walk a lot faster than most, so I was catching up with her, of course. She kept looking over her shoulder and speeding up just enough to stay ahead of me.

    So what if she got it into her head that I was a rapist stalking her? Of course the law wouldn’t support such action, but I could easily get shot for walking faster than average.

    There was a TV show (crime drama type) where a woman was walking down the street, and a man was walking behind her. Out of the blue, she turned around and beat the crap out of the guy. In the real world, it most likely would have turned out that he was just out to buy a Slurpee or something, but of course in the world of feed-the-paranoia, he had a criminal record as long as your arm, and she was lucky she took that self defense class.

    What I’m really saying is that people make unwarranted assumptions all the time. But concealed carry laws along with stand your ground laws can make those stupid assumptions deadly.

    (And I agree with the original point– there is a reality we have to deal with.)

  9. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    24 March 2012 @ 9:06 am

    I’m not sure of all the implications of the “stand your ground” laws. They sound like a reaction to the laws in other states. Not sure if they have a name, but they’re sorta “obligation to retreat” laws.

    In some states, or so I’ve heard, you have to retreat even within your own house.

    In the Florida case, I don’t think the “stand your ground” defense will hold because I think he pursued the kid.

  10. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    24 March 2012 @ 9:10 am

    clearly this was a tragedy. it is obvious there are many better ways things could have worked out.

    But some things are not so obvious. We can count the number of violent incidents involving handguns with reasonable accuracy… but is much more difficult to estimate what the overall level of crime and violence would be if “only criminals have guns.”

    Potential thieves and rapists are discouraged from breaking into your home at night, because they might just get shot.

  11. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    24 March 2012 @ 9:24 am

    There are certainly a lot of unknowns. Consider this one — how justified is a person A to feel threatened by person B if person B is doing [fill in the blank].

    We all have opinions on various things that would seem threatening to us, but how can you quantify it? Can somebody actually study the likelihood that such and so behavior will lead to violence, or that somebody who is doing X is more or less likely to be a threat?

  12. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    24 March 2012 @ 10:16 am

    Generally you have the obligation to retreat if it is possible except in your own home. The Castle Doctrine is a general principal in the law based on English common law, but applies differently in each state.

    But sometimes the issue is not what the law says, but what they guy with the gun thinks he can get away with based on what he thinks the law says.

    I certainly don’t trust the police unconditionally, but at least they have been trained.

  13. pentamom pentamom
    24 March 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    RootCzar — good point, we don’t know. O’Reilly doesn’t know, so he was probably being O’Reilly, which means logically leaping all over the place and as you so aptly said earlier, acting like a cranky old man.

    I was just reacting to Smitemouth’s implication that the criticism of hoodie-wearing was intended to be taken in its barest, most literal meaning of “anyone wearing a knit garment with a hood.” I’m fairly sure that O’Reilly, whatever the weaknesses of his assumptions, had something more, and something not-all-that-hard-to-fathom in his mind.

    It might be stupid to criticize “those kids wearing their baseball caps backwards,” but no reasonable person is going to protest that the person shouldn’t be so mean to actively playing baseball catchers. Nobody really thinks that’s what’s meant. by it.

  14. Kelly
    27 March 2012 @ 9:42 am

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-march-26-2012/c-n-i—cable-news-investigators—hoodie-threat?xrs=share_copy

  15. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    27 March 2012 @ 9:51 am

    That was pretty funny.