Self-Talk in the Midst of a Mess
Winning an Argument Is Not Always All That

Revisiting the Matter of Philando Castile

On July 6, 2016,, a 32-year-old African American man, was shot to death during a traffic stop by a 28-year-old police officer from St. Anthony, Minnesota as he was cooperating with the officer's orders. The officer was exonerated criminally, though fired. A lawsuit in the matter was settled for 3.8 million dollars.

This brought together two issues that are hot button items in our culture and strangely, created cognitive dissonance:

  • The Second Amendment right to bear arms and
  • The disproportionate danger that black men seem to face from police.

I will never tell you that you do not have the right to carry a gun though I do not and will not - ever do so myself.

I will never say that most police officers are corrupt or that they should be disrespected (or anything less than appreciated), nor that all of my friends who disagree with me are consciously and overtly racist.

That is not my point or anyone's point.

Racism is not just about your personal attitudes, morality, or conscious choices.

I have long been confused after following Mr. Castile's story.

My friends who advocate carrying firearms because it makes them and other's safer seem to be missing some fine points -  or I am.

Mr. Castile had a gun and a permit and seemed to be complying with what he heard (and what his girlfriend heard) the officer say. He was not safer with a gun. So, maybe you are safer if the following things are true:

1. The officer speaks slowly and clearly.

2. You hear the officer perfectly.

3. It is not late at night.

4. The officer is not nervous.

5. You don't have something wrong with your car or anything that prompts officers to pull you over.

6. You don't look like someone who ... (fill in the blanks)...

7. The officer does not "fear for his/her life," (ie .. perceive a threat). Now, I perceive a threat from anyone carrying a gun, but that is a different story and my problem.

8. You are not non-white.

That is the way it looks anyway. So, the moral is ... I don't know. Take your pick.

  • You are not safer with a gun.
  • You are not safer with a gun if you are black.
  • There must be more to the story and some dirt to dig up on this guy in order to devalue his life or justify whatever.
  • I am just another soft-headed, idiot who doesn't understand how things really are and how calling authority figures on abuse of their authority endangers all authority figures, diminishes the rules of law, creates disrespect and danger for good and decent authority figures, and creates racism against white people.

OK, that rant is over.

I remain really confused.

I do not think the African American men that I serve or who are my friends are as safe on the streets as I am. I do not see how more guns in their hands would help that either.

In fact, it could prove to be a real disadvantage.

But that is not a subject that I am qualified to debate.