Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Imaginary Conversations - Murder

When was the first time you saw someone being murdered?  

Huh?  Like in a movie?  Probably Bambi’s mom does that count?  

No I mean an actual person being murdered

Not an animal, huh.  Um… Gosh I dunno, Star Wars?  The charred bodies of Uncle Ben and Aunt Beru were kind of upsetting, but I guess they were already dead. I didn’t see them get killed.  Though, the people on Alderaan I guess I saw murdered if I think about it hard enough.  Or any of the people shot down in TIE fighters.  Yeah I guess that would be it.  I think I was probably 6.

No, I’m not talking about a movie.  I mean like an actual person, a real person.  When was the first time you saw a real person being murdered not just their body after they were dead but like actually saw somebody getting killed.  

Oh…  Fuck, I’m not sure.  Are you talking about the guy that was killed by police yesterday?

Well yes, tangentially that is what I am talking about.  When I started thinking about that guy that was murdered by police yesterday I realized that I have seen so many people murdered I can’t remember.


Yeah, so anyway I’m asking you:  when was the first time you saw somebody killed?

I dunno... I mean... Maybe the Gulf War?  Like on the news?  I would have been maybe 9?  

Did they actually show people being killed on TV during the Gulf War?

I mean I don’t… I can’t really remember.  Wolf Blitzer wore a lot of pocketed vests, that’s about the extent of my memory from 1991.  

Yes, you are correct, Wolf Blitzer did wear a lot of pocketed vests, but I am pretty sure that they never actually showed any bodies on TV like they did during the Vietnam War.  I don’t think they showed anybody being killed.  

Oh ok.  Ok I think I sort of remember. Your mention of Vietnam got me thinking that when I was in Hebrew School and we were studying the Holocaust, they showed us Nazis shooting people and then their bodies falling in ditches.  It was like a documentary.  Actually, I watched a lot of World War 2 documentaries when I was in middle school and high school and they definitely showed Nazis murdering people.   

I think it was probably same for me too.  The first person I saw being murdered was in black and white.  Happened long before I was born.  Happened in a documentary.  

If I am discerning your meaning correctly, though, you are asking me when was the first time I saw somebody being murdered recently, I mean a contemporary person that was murdered that day or the day before or what have you.  


That I can’t really answer.  I remember one time I was in college some guy was kidnapped by terrorists and he was beheaded and somebody posted the beheading online and I watched it for some reason.  It was super, super upsetting but even that I don’t think was the first time.  I feel like I HAD to have seen somebody murdered before then.  

It is weird to think of.  It is kind of upsetting to think of that here is somebody’s life leaving their body and you can’t remember it.

So what was your first time

No that’s the point, I can’t remember either.  I mean it must have happened.  There must have been a first time I saw somebody die, somebody whose family was still alive, somebody who was killed on video, but I don’t remember it.  I don’t know.  I remember seeing the Rodney King beating but Rodney King wasn’t killed.  I know there has to have been a first time between the 90s and a year or 2 ago but I don’t remember.  

Does it bother you?  

How can’t it bother me, it is somebody dying!  It is somebody being murdered, of course it bothers me.

I mean does it bother you that you can’t remember?

Yeah, it does.  It bothers me.  It bothers me because I can’t even remember all the recent ones.  It bothers me that there is a hashtag every other day and I can’t remember them.  It bothers me that we are supposed to say their names and I can’t remember all of them.  

Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland..

Yeah those are like 2.  Just 2.  Trying to remember all of them reminds me of when I was trying to memorize the names of all the presidents in order.  I still can sort of do that, remember the names of the presidents, though I sometimes get stuck around Polk and Franklin Pierce.  But I can’t remember the names of the people I have seen murdered in the past year even.  Those two I didn’t actually see die.  There was no video of Sandra Bland, there was no video of Trayvon Martin.  There was a video of the guy yesterday, of Terence Crutcher.  But I know there have been more that I have seen and I can’t remember them!  Why can’t I remember them?  When did it become so common to see people being murdered that they all blend into each other?

I… I dunno.  I don’t have an answer to that question.  We were talking the other day about the people killed in mass shootings, how it has become commonplace, how we have become inured to violence.  

When did that happen though?  Can you remember?  When did it start happening that there were so many shootings, so many murders, so many acts of terrorism that you can’t even remember them all?  Like I dunno… Rodney King was SUCH a big thing.  I mean there have been so many people killed or beaten by police, but that was SUCH a big thing.  The riots… I remember that and it was 20 years ago.  I remember that, I remember Rodney King’s name more clearly than I can remember the more recent ones.  Why do I remember his name and not Freddie Gray’s?  I mean I remember Freddie Gray’s name I just mean like… I dunno it took me a minute to remember his name for a second.  

Memory is weird.  What we remember is weird.  Do you want to be able to remember the name of every person that has died?  I mean we talked about this before… There are so many people who die each day, can you really mourn them all?  Is is possible for you to mourn them all?  Plus you gotta remember that when Rodney King was beaten, to catch something on video was super rare.  Now everything is on video, we see everything, it isn’t new.  

Is that it?  Is that all it is?  People have phones so we know about more things?  

I mean I’m pretty sure that is what it is.  There are dash cam videos, there have been since Cops in the 90s.  Did Cops ever show suspects being shot on the show?  I don’t remember.  That show kind of idolized the police.  But anyway, yeah now there is a video of everything.  Now there is just… more of everything.  

I can’t remember it all, there is too much to remember.  There are too many things.

There are a lot of things.  I thought we talked about this a few weeks ago how there are a lot of things to keep track of, a lot of memes.  Did you ever take that break from Twitter?


Maybe you should.  You are tired.  There is a lot of input and you aren’t able to handle it, and that is ok.  It is ok to say you can’t handle it.  Self care is ok

I just feel so helpless and useless and sad and I feel gross about myself that I can’t remember the names of people I have seen literally murdered on videos that I have seen but I can remember the names of Star Wars characters and quotes from the Simpsons.  I am mad at myself that my brain has decided that that shit is more important than the names of people I have seen die.  

You can’t be mad at yourself for not being able to remember everything.  You can’t be mad at yourself for remembering certain things and not other things, you can’t be mad at yourself that you aren’t holding a vigil to every person killed in your home all hours of the day.  It is ok.  It is ok to be upset about people being killed by police, about people killed by terrorism, about people killed by negligence, about things that happen in the world, without having to remember the names of every single one.  It is ok.  

Terence Crutcher, Terence Crutcher, Terence Crutcher.  I’d almost forgotten his name in the 10 minutes I have been talking to you.  I don’t want to forget him.

But it’s ok if you do, you know that.  It is ok. Our culture… you were right about what you said about our culture the last time we chatted.  We are very fickle, we are very in the moment and then it’s gone.  Everything is very ephemeral.  It used to be there was one thing and we fixated on that one thing for a really long time.  When Diana died it was everything, when JonBenet Ramsey was kidnapped and murdered it was every day, when the OJ Simpson trial was on TV it was all anybody talked about, when 9/11 happened it was just 9/11 and Iraq and Afghanistan on the news all day every day.  Now there are more “things,”  our media is more democratic, Twitter and facebook have allowed more sharing, more “things” going viral.  Nobody needs you to remember everything, it is impossible to remember everything.  You can try, and I’m glad that you are trying, but it is ok to forget too.  Forgetting pain helps us move on too, you know.  If we remembered every pain we felt we would go mad.

I’m tired.

I know, you said before.  

I am, though.  I’m just so tired.  

Don’t allow yourself to be controlled by things around you.  You are doing a good job.  You are doing the best you can.  

Am I?

I don’t know.  Only you can answer that question, but I think so.  I think you are trying to be a good person, you are trying to be conscious in your actions and your words, you are trying to remember if not the specific names the ideas, the feeling.  



I guess

That seems like an odd way to end a conversation

I am just too tired to talk anymore



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