September 20, 2007

If I had no life, I would drive to Jena, Louisiana today to get a gander at the 50-60,000 expected protesters in a town of 3000. It's got to be absolute bedlam -- the kind of thing you read about, but not the kind of thing you ever see. I'd love to read a real report of it, rather than just get the spin from the news network.

All I know about the Jena thing is through the minute of coverage on national news and word of mouth. I haven't read any of the detailed newspaper accounts. Why let my opinion be tainted by facts?

It sounds to me like some black students found themselves congregating where the white kids usually hang out, white kids went back and hung nooses there, so black kids administered the deserved ass-kickings.

By the way, is it still 1955 in Jena? When I was a student -- 20 years ago -- the black kids and the white kids were allowed to hang together. This was public school in Arkansas.

It doesn't sound like anyone got beat up all that badly, and there were no weapons involved. All that needed to happen was to suspend or expel everyone involved. But I guess the white kids got off scot-free, and the black kids got thrown in the clink.

I don't like that they call the arrested kids, "The Jena 6." It's an obvious attempt to get us to mentally associate them with "The Little Rock 9." While it's possible that they've suffered an injustice, it can not compare to Little Rock in 1957. I don't think it's possible for any student today -- no matter what his race -- to imagine what it must have felt like to have to be escorted to class by National Guardsmen, to be taunted by fellow students and teaches, or to have legitimate concern about being murdered just for the offense of trying to go to school.

If you finish your blog reading at work today and still have some time to goof off, this article is a long, but really good one. I read it in Sports Illustrated when it was published in April. It's only tangentially a sports article, but it's one of the best magazine stories that I've read.