Sunday, July 24, 2005

Rebels, Rights, and Revenge

I meant to write about the recent stoning and kicking of a car adorned with a Confederate flag. This happened in Rochester, Minnesota. Although the assailants threatened violence against the car occupants, only the car was damaged.

Michael Westerman did not fare so well. In 1995, Westerman was chased and shot to death while driving his red pickup truck with a Confederate flag flying in the back. It turns out that some of the accomplices of the shooter had played basketball with Westerman. The nearby Kentucky high school, from which Westerman had recently graduated, had a team nickname of the "Rebels."

I found out about the Westerman case while watching the MTV program, "Fight for Your Rights." MTV reported on the aftermath of the shooting, where the community had chosen to de-emphasize the Confederate flag on school grounds. All of this was a subtle way of blaming the victim. The fix for the problem, according to MTV, was to get rid of the flag. Exactly what "rights" were they fighting for? The right to kill someone?

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