Thursday, July 22, 2010

What If It Were You?

Last week, the Internet was buzzing about the capture of infamous Barefoot Bandit.

Y'all may remember the young man from this post I wrote back in March. This kid became a bit of a celebrity in some circles from stealing cars, boats and planes, among other things, from the wealthy and jet-setting around the world. His arrest has broken some people's hearts because they feel like "The Man" has finally captured their hero.

Um, that is a lot of crap.

America loves its bad boys, particularly the white ones. I'm not saying that black ones don't get love, hell the entire rap industry is built on the premise that white kids want to live the black thug life without actually having to worry about getting shot, but white bad boys are really king. Nothing gets white folks talking about freedom and the American way like a white bad boy giving "The Man" the business. They eat that stuff up.

The arrest of the Barefoot Bandit has been lamented by certain folks because they believe he lived life the way it should be lived. He wasn't tied down by mortgages, or jobs, or morals. He took from those who had excess, and dared to make his own rules. At least I'm sure that's how the book deal and movie deal about his life will be sold.

The reality is a little different.

Yeah, this cat stole from rich folks who probably amassed their wealth through nefarious means. It almost sounds like a modern tale of Robin Hood, or successful socialism.  But, in actuality, he was just stealing. He wasn't doing it for justice or to right a wrong, he was doing it for the thrill and to sate his desires. There was nothing noble about it.

See, when you steal from rich folks, it doesn't just affect rich folks. Investment banks and Wall Street should have taught all of us that lesson. There is a ripple effect when rich folks suffer, and unlike in nature, the effects of the ripple are actually much worse the further you get away from Ground Zero. Angry rich folks are vindictive. Angry rich folks fire their workers and abuse their staffs. They cause problems.

But, more than that, stealing from people who have more than you only sounds cool when you feel like one of the have nots. It looks much different when you're a have. And what most Americans celebrating the Barefoot Bandit don't realize is that there are many folks in the world who see them as a "have."

You think the folks who commit petty burglaries or thefts do it just for kicks? Nah, theys see things they want, that they can't afford and they decide that the rules about ownership shouldn't apply to them. They decide that they don't care about the ripple effect of their actions, they just care about living the life they want to live. And that's how your nice new car disappears from your driveway overnight, or how that shiny Ipod gets snatched from your gym locker. Somebody decided they wanted to be a "have" at your expense.

It doesn't sound so cool when that's the scenario. I would bet that most of the folks cheering the Barefoot Bandit wouldn't like for the regular, fully-clothed bandits in their neighborhoods to start living the "free life." They probably get insulted when somebody steals from them because they work for their nice things, or they really don't have that much.

Well the rich folks vicitimized by the Barefoot Bandit to satisfy his lusts felt the same way about their things. They didn't think that just because they have a lot, it's ok for others to take it from them. After all, if you're an American, there is ALWAYS somebody who has less than you do, it's just about whether you encounter them today or not.

See, people don't like to see the obvious because it ruins their little fantasies. In real life, stealing just for the sake of stealing is a problem, but in the myth of the Barefoot Bandit it's striking a blow for the little guy.

But what happens when you're not the little guy?



Jihad Punk 77 said...

very nice post. I've argued with people about how stealing from the rich (the rich, as in families who have worked hard to amass their wealth or whether they were born rich) does nothing for society.

if people really want to fuck up the system, become a social activist. join the Anarchist Black Cross and educate prisoners. Join a soup kitchen and help the poor. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister and encourage a child. or better yet, join politics and push for CHANGE.

Thats way more radical than stealing from a rich family in the Hamptons or the Bahamas.

macon d said...

Yeah, I can't think of a black "bandit" who's been celebrated by white people in general for "sticking it to the Man" like this guy and so many others have. If the bandit were black, "the Man" would suddenly be perceived by most white people as themselves.

Raving Black Lunatic