Matt Taibbi mouths off in the wake of the Shirley Sherrod affair, at Rolling Stone:
“You don’t get control of the White House and two governors and the Justice Department, and then start arguing with people carrying signs.” – Al Sharpton
Years ago a friend of mine in the media told me a story about an experience he had covering the execution of John Wayne Gacy in Joliet, Illinois. You won’t find anyone in the world who’d have been sad to see serial child murderer in a clown suit like Gacy die, but this reporter friend of mine said the crowd outside the prison on execution night freaked him out almost as much as Gacy had. There were something like 400 people outside the gates at Joliet and there were people selling commemorative t-shirts and pounding beers and chanting (“Kill the Clown!” was a popular one) all night.
At the moment of truth the crowd cheered and my friend turned to interview a scraggly-looking twenty-something with thinning long hair whom he described as looking like a too-old version of the Todd Ianuzzi mean-teenager character in Beavis and Butthead. The guy was into his second six-pack and smiling goofily like he’d just gotten a half-price rub-n-tug from a Thai massage parlor. He says to my friend: “You’re not against capital punishment, are you?”
“I’m not against capital punishment,” my friend says. “I’m against enjoying capital punishment.”
I’m with my friend on this one. As far as I see it, there are three positions on capital punishment. There’s being against it. There’s being for it. Then there’s putting six-packs of beer in a cooler and driving to a hideous prison complex in the middle of the night with four hundred strangers to cheer like fans at a baseball game for the execution of some fat old child killer. Dude, if that’s what you call recreation, you’re either dangerously bored or seriously fucked up.
Which brings me to the Shirley Sherrod business. Following this surreal episode involving a heretofore obscure black female USDA official – an episode in which almost everyone involved acted like a complete and utter buffoon, from Tom Vilsack to Ben Jealous to Bill O’Reilly – there’s really only one thing we can say with absolute certainty. And that’s this: there are a hell of a lot of people in this country who enjoy talking about racism way, way too much…
[continues at Rolling Stone]