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Author Topic: The Case of Trayvon Martin  (Read 3348 times)

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Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #50 on: July 14, 2013, 01:43:07 PM »
My only point is that such sensationalist media depictions and articles do nothing but continue dividing people by race, while achieving very little in mutual acceptance.

And my point is that it's trying to dismiss any mention of racism as "sensationalist" that's divisive. You can't achieve mutual acceptance when you're not willing to put any effort into understanding the underlying realities.

Quote
Zimmerman is sure to receive death-threats very soon, and many of them will be racially-motivated.

He may well do, and they'll be motivated by the fact that he killed someone. Of course that motivation depends on seeing the application and purpose of the Stand Your Ground defense as racially skewed... which, in fact, it is. The death threats will still be wrong, of course, but you won't be able to very effectively argue that while denying the rest of the contextual reality that will motivate them.

If you really aspire to mutual acceptance and want someone to complain about who is an obstacle to that, your real enemy is the denialist, in and out of the media: the sort of person who pretends "color blindness" entitles them to try to shut down any discussion of the factual realities of racism, or the kind of person who pulls the "you're the real racists" routine (an old standby of American bigotry). 

(I will leave you with this piece, which sums up the racial dynamics of the case itself and of the response to it -- particularly the right-wing media response -- very effectively:

Quote from: Laurence Lewis
If Trayvon Martin had been white and George Zimmerman black, this would not have become a national story. If they had reported it at all, the right-wing media would have praised Martin for trying to stand his ground before a dangerous violent thug. It defies credulity to think they would be dismissing the killer's behavior, making despicable excuses such as blaming the kid's clothing, or if— unthinkable in this reversing-the-races scenario—there had been no criminal charges filed against the killer, dismissing the story altogether. The questions here don't even need answers. The questions answer themselves.

Had Trayvon Martin been white and George Zimmerman black, Zimmerman would be headed for death row. Right-wing media would be hailing Martin as a hero. A martyr who had stood his ground against a dangerous predator. They would be saying that it's too bad Martin hadn't somehow fought back against Zimmerman, and that if he had somehow succeeded in fighting a man so much larger than him, it would have been justifiable if he had left Zimmerman dead.

There is no polite way to explain what has happened. There is no polite way to explain the reflexive defensive rationalizations by the right-wing media and their right-wing fans. This was a racist killing with a racist cover-up and the right wing's reaction has been virulently and viciously racist. To understand the depth of the right wing's racist depravity, all it takes is to consider the very different reaction to this horror had the races of the victim and his killer been reversed.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2013, 01:55:56 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #51 on: July 14, 2013, 02:03:06 PM »
I would argue that we are not so much a racially divided society today, but more a wealth/class divided society.  I'm from a family of immigrants (non-white), and one of the things my parents emphasized is that if you want to overcome stereotypes and biases, you need to show people that you are as good, if not better than them at being a citizen - that America isn't about where you start, but in where you reach.   

I agree very much with Bill Cosby's take on why stereotypes and biases exist about the Black population - and how blaming "white" society is not the answer.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/cosby.asp
http://www.examiner.com/article/bill-cosby-speaks-bluntly-about-black-people-and-education

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #52 on: July 14, 2013, 02:12:45 PM »
The infamous Pound Cake speech was one of Bill Cosby's lowest moments, not the least because most of the statistics he quoted in it were made up and totally false; it was moreover a key marker of an ugly dynamic of classism within the Black community. (This dynamic has always been there -- but has grown as the Black middle and very, very tiny salient of what could be called a Black upper class has grown.)

In the larger sense, about the most that can be said of American society today is that it is less racially divided than it was historically. There was once a time when white supremacism was an accepted default: it's progress, believe it or not, that only about 80% of Republicans are explicitly racist and some 32% of Democrats are (it's even progress that only 55% of the latter are implicitly racist), but it's nowhere even remotely near the point of race being irrelevant and it's insane to pretend otherwise. The relevance of race and racism is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #53 on: July 14, 2013, 02:38:39 PM »
I know you are very passionate about this issue, and we are going to disagree no matter.  But this is the US, and with the right role models, the opportunities are everywhere for black youth to enter the middle class and limit the cycle of poverty and racism.  For example, teaching them that it is difficult to get a stable job if you are sagging your pants (which applies to white youths as well).

There was a campaign in Brooklyn which put up billboards advocating this, since looking presentable is so critical in rising out of poverty, and into middle-class jobs.  State senator Eric Adams began this campaign saying, "Let us not be the ones who make our communities seem foolish." 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/02/nyregion/02nyc.html?_r=0

I am not sure why it is controversial to suggest that looking presentable is important for a person's success, and overall image in the public.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #54 on: July 14, 2013, 02:54:41 PM »
I've never been fond of the sagging-pants school of hip-hop fashion myself, truth be told. It comes from prison-yard fashion, a setting where people had to be denied belts lest they be used as weapons; and basing pop culture on prison-yard fashion is part of a hugely expoitative racket of effectively selling gangbanger lifestyles to the poor so they can then be fodder for the prison-industrial complex. It's a cynicism so appalling that no fiction writer could have made it up.

So it's not like every part of Cosby's rant is unsympathetic. However, it's a far cry from that to fictionalizing education stats or brushing aside the question of whether it's okay to shoot somebody for stealing a piece of pound cake. And in general it's a lot easier to bitch about the depravity of the lower classes than it is to analyze the roots of whatever real dysfunctions might be present and work to help fix them. Doing the former is usually the mark of classism. It's all very well to tell people "put on a suit and buy a cell phone." But actually living an environment where a suit gets you targeted and electrical power is a luxury is a whole different kettle of fish.

What's so sad about the Coz is that this is the sort of thing he used to know. I don't hold it against him too badly as a person, because in his case it all seems to stem from embittered grief at his son's death. But I still think he's quite wrong overall.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #55 on: July 14, 2013, 02:57:07 PM »
I read that clause here:
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.041.html

So merely going up to Martin and talking due to suspicion, as his defense claims, is not in violation of the law.  How was Zimmerman to know that Martin posed a threat when he was initially going up to him?  He only knew that Martin was a threat after he started physically assaulting him.  Zimmerman may have been suspicious of Martin, but that doesn't mean he felt he was a threat.
Not against the law, no, but provocation, yes. Failing to exhaust lesser means than lethal force or make a good faith effort to stand down before shooting him, however, should mean (by my understanding of that clause) that you cannot claim self-defense. So... what am I missing here? Zimmerman was the one doing the escalating at every stage except one, even according to his own version of events.

EDIT:
I would argue that we are not so much a racially divided society today, but more a wealth/class divided society.  I'm from a family of immigrants (non-white), and one of the things my parents emphasized is that if you want to overcome stereotypes and biases, you need to show people that you are as good, if not better than them at being a citizen - that America isn't about where you start, but in where you reach.
Minorities are overwhelmingly on the "poor/low" end of the wealth/class division, in a manner that is rather hard to handwave away. So wealth/class division furthers racial division. Even you, in this statement, acknowledge that people of colour are starting from a position of disadvantage, where they will have to work harder than their white neighbours to achieve equal standing.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2013, 03:02:19 PM by Ephiral »

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #56 on: July 14, 2013, 03:03:01 PM »
It's all very well to tell people "put on a suit and buy a cell phone." But actually living an environment where a suit gets you targeted and electrical power is a luxury is a whole different kettle of fish.

But is it so bad to tell them to put on a belt?  Or even just wear pants with the right-sized waistband?  And yes, I'll direct this across the board at 'young people'.  'Whale tails' are not going to get you taken seriously.  Showing off what kind of boxers you wear (or that you don't wear them at all :o ) is not a mark of pride. 

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #57 on: July 14, 2013, 03:06:42 PM »
I don't know, Oniya, I have some pretty sweet boxers.

(Seriously though, cf. first paragraph of my last post...)

Offline Oniya

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #58 on: July 14, 2013, 03:12:35 PM »
I did see your first paragraph - but it seemed to me that you were making a jump from that straight to 'wear a suit and get a cell phone'.  I don't think that it needs to go from 'hip-hop-gangsta' to 'Wall Street exec' in one leap.  In fact I'm pretty sure that's not possible.  However, just a little more care makes it that much easier to be respected.  That much more respect leads to better economic opportunities.  Better economic opportunities means that maybe you can fix the neighborhood so those suits aren't quite so much of a target.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #59 on: July 14, 2013, 03:16:32 PM »
And in general it's a lot easier to bitch about the depravity of the lower classes than it is to analyze the roots of whatever real dysfunctions might be present and work to help fix them. Doing the former is usually the mark of classism. It's all very well to tell people "put on a suit and buy a cell phone." But actually living an environment where a suit gets you targeted and electrical power is a luxury is a whole different kettle of fish.

I am interested to know what you feel the real dysfunctions are, and how we would work to fix them.  Clearly there is immense poverty in the black community.  I personally feel that the problem is in a lack of positive role-models, and a culture that reinforces the 'coolness' of living in poverty.  I am interested to know what your take is.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #60 on: July 14, 2013, 03:28:37 PM »
But his life is over he will always have to watch his back and stay in seclusion or risk someone shooting him or worse so maybe that is enough justice there seems to be a symmetry to things he did an evil act and is free but is not really free.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #61 on: July 14, 2013, 03:29:28 PM »
But is it so bad to tell them to put on a belt?  Or even just wear pants with the right-sized waistband?  And yes, I'll direct this across the board at 'young people'.  'Whale tails' are not going to get you taken seriously.  Showing off what kind of boxers you wear (or that you don't wear them at all :o ) is not a mark of pride.

It's probably hard to rap your way out of the run-down ghetto to the big bucks without incurring the help of sponsors, sugar daddies - or record companies that turn some of your advances into debts along the way. Debts that will be paid back later if you make it. Sponsors and endorsement deals can help, but at the same time, you don't want those to be part of the picture you project to the media. I mean, both black and white fans of people like 50 Cent want their idol to look, sound and smell authentic gangsta, even if he may be both more sophisticated than that and less of a gangster in his daily life. You don't want to hear that he's being sponsored by a beer brand or by Nike.

Offline Maiz

Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #62 on: July 14, 2013, 03:52:19 PM »
It really sucks when conversations about racism turn into "well just rise above other people's racism!"

Wow, I wish it was that easy but you know it really sucks when the people in charge of the school programs, of the law, of like so many things are being racist as fuck against you. But I mean, if only I had more positive role models right? That would totally stop their racism! And obviously black young people don't get jobs because of their fashion. Not because of systemic racism where a white guy who spent time in jail has more of a chance of getting a call back than a black guy with no record.

But I mean, no, thanks for telling me how to stop racism. Clearly white people have a better understanding of racism works in the US and I mean, lets talk more about how sagging pants and gangster culture and how the black community thinks poverty is so cool. This sounds totally based in reality and not some warped idea of what black cultures/communities are.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #63 on: July 14, 2013, 04:06:44 PM »
It really sucks when conversations about racism turn into "well just rise above other people's racism!"

Wow, I wish it was that easy but you know it really sucks when the people in charge of the school programs, of the law, of like so many things are being racist as fuck against you. But I mean, if only I had more positive role models right? That would totally stop their racism! And obviously black young people don't get jobs because of their fashion. Not because of systemic racism where a white guy who spent time in jail has more of a chance of getting a call back than a black guy with no record.

But I mean, no, thanks for telling me how to stop racism. Clearly white people have a better understanding of racism works in the US and I mean, lets talk more about how sagging pants and gangster culture and how the black community thinks poverty is so cool. This sounds totally based in reality and not some warped idea of what black cultures/communities are.

xiaomei, I am interested to know what you feel the root causes are.  I do believe that if young black students had positive role models, many more of them would graduate high school, and develop the skills they need to find employment.  The reason I brought up sagging pants, is because that is something that is directly within someone's control and conveys a sense of self-respect - it's the same reason why people look nice and tidy for interviews.  For example, I couldn't envision a retail shop hiring someone with sagging pants working the floor.  I am interested to know why you feel this wouldn't be one of the factors.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2013, 04:08:14 PM by ValthazarElite »

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #64 on: July 14, 2013, 04:16:08 PM »
It really sucks when conversations about racism turn into "well just rise above other people's racism!"

(---)

But I mean, no, thanks for telling me how to stop racism. Clearly white people have a better understanding of racism works in the US and I mean, lets talk more about how sagging pants and gangster culture and how the black community thinks poverty is so cool. This sounds totally based in reality and not some warped idea of what black cultures/communities are.

If I'm one of the targets here, well I was clear about how it's both white and black fans of gangsta rappers - or even of guys who have no credible jail or felony record at all, who are just doing an obvious play-act of those kinds of characters - that want their idols to look and talk like real outlaws, offstage too, and to have that kind of personal story.

Besides it's not limited to black music that you might not become rich and independently wealthy just because you've come up with a couple hit singles and gotten a lot of coverage in the papers and on tv. A band such as The Clash didn't really make big money for itself - into the chests of its members - until the final years of their career, though they had awesome publicity, huge impact on the punk rock scene in the UK and beyond and a string of potent hit singles. Up till around 1982 they were still mostly in the red vs their record company and the people who produced their tours. As a commercial undertaking they were half a no-go, but of course that wasn't a major problem for their fans who were DIY anyway.

Many bands have a similar story. The difference to ghetto rappers is just that to them being in a crew, getting into crime or boxing can sometimes be the only ready paths out of poverty.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2013, 04:34:48 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Maiz

Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #65 on: July 14, 2013, 04:52:06 PM »
xiaomei, I am interested to know what you feel the root causes are.  I do believe that if young black students had positive role models, many more of them would graduate high school, and develop the skills they need to find employment.  The reason I brought up sagging pants, is because that is something that is directly within someone's control and conveys a sense of self-respect - it's the same reason why people look nice and tidy for interviews.  For example, I couldn't envision a retail shop hiring someone with sagging pants working the floor.  I am interested to know why you feel this wouldn't be one of the factors.

The root cause is a society that has created/upheld racism. Just having positive role models doesn't mean anything if the people in charge of whatever are racist. It doesn't stop the fact that white people unjustly receive more scholarships. It doesn't stop the fact that if your high school counselors have already 'given up' on you, then they will push not furthering your education (and note the relationship between being not white and being given up on. It doesn't stop the terrible discipline system in schools and how they affect children of color unevenly. It doesn't stop the school to prison pipeline.

Sure, some kids don't know how to dress for an interview, regardless of race, but to blame a lack of employment entirely on sagging pants, just what. Do you really think people are that stupid?

You can blame a lack of positive role models and sagging pants but then you fail to analyze the larger issue of racism.

Offline Slywyn

Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #66 on: July 14, 2013, 04:59:43 PM »
I believe this is where I step out. Getting kinda hostile.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #67 on: July 14, 2013, 05:03:52 PM »
I guess what I'm asking is, what's the solution?  We continue to hear about how racist society is, but how can we get things moving in the right direction for the black community?

Offline Maiz

Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #68 on: July 14, 2013, 05:15:16 PM »
Change the ways school works, get rid of zero tolerance, get restorative justice, stop this culture where if a child of color is a handful in first grade then obviously they wont amount to anything, teach a non-whitewashed version of history, stop police from targeting black and latino people unfairly, reform prisons and drug offenses, reform welfare so it helps more people for longer, raise minimum wage,  don't let racist people get positions of power, media shouldn't continue offensive stereotypes (like the implication that all black people sag their pants and thats why they are unemployed), stop discriminatory bank practices, restore the voting rights act to its fullest, etc etc etc. Try listening to people of color and what they say about racism and you'll find a million different solutions.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2013, 05:27:42 PM by xiaomei »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #69 on: July 14, 2013, 05:27:05 PM »
Too bad Slywyn was offended, because I thought xiaomei's comment was quite funny and very true.

I am interested to know what your take is.

Honestly, I don't think the remedies are all that mysterious. Most of it comes down to addressing poverty in general through the kinds of "socialist" programs that the right wing tends to hate -- a livable minimum wage, limitations to the offshoring of labor and a protected right to unionize, and accessible good-quality education and health care for all members of society -- in combination with a few specific measures to prevent racist bias from skewing those attempts to address poverty (specific forms of affirmative action, for instance, which of course is a popular right-wing "this is the Real Racism" target precisely because it in fact works; it might also be nice to see some real measures in place to monitor attempts to physically ghettoize minority communities, "redlining" and other such).

We pretty much already know what works, and what needs to be applied. There's no small amount of research available to back it up. The trick is getting the rational solutions implemented in a setting where a certain stripe of politicians opposed to those solutions can use the irrational lever of racism as a means to build support around their own agendas. This basically is a large part of the story of the conservative movement; when the long-suffering black ghettoes finally started to explode in the Sixties, it impelled both the Great Society agenda on the "left" and the rise of the Southern Strategy-based GOP on the right. It was a case of building with one hand and destroying with the other, which is why so much of the black community is still stuck where it is today.

So the real question is: how do you beat back racism far enough for the old right-wing scare strategies to stop working and solutions to become politically possible? As far as I can tell there is no easy answer to that except to keep confronting it, and wearing away at it, until its power is broken. We are approaching that watershed, I think -- the election of Obama was a major early indicator -- but there's a long way to go yet.

(Xiamoei's post above again is excellent.)
« Last Edit: July 14, 2013, 05:29:24 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Skynet

Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #70 on: July 14, 2013, 05:37:39 PM »
Change the ways school works, get rid of zero tolerance, get restorative justice, stop this culture where if a child of color is a handful in first grade then obviously they wont amount to anything, teach a non-whitewashed version of history, stop police from targeting black and latino people unfairly, reform prisons and drug offenses, reform welfare so it helps more people for longer, raise minimum wage,  don't let racist people get positions of power, media shouldn't continue offensive stereotypes (like the implication that all black people sag their pants and thats why they are unemployed), stop discriminatory bank practices, restore the voting rights act to its fullest, etc etc etc. Try listening to people of color and what they say about racism and you'll find a million different solutions.

I'd like to mention that a lot of privately run for-profit prisons (which are not government-run) are responsible for jailing a lot of innocent people (many of who are people of color).  Several infamous "Cash for kids" programs involved such prison officials bribing judges to sentence teenagers for virtual non-crimes (mouthing off to a teacher on Facebook).

There are other problems with such prisons: they cut costs, resulting in low-quality stuff and poorly-trained staff, and in some cases of evangelical Christian wardens refusing to respect the rights of religious minorities.

This is particularly endemic in Louisiana, where it's an entire industry down there.

Hell, a large portion of the US incarceration rate is due to this.  Along with the "War On Drugs," where citizens with no criminal record can face up to 20 years for smoking marijuana in the privacy of their own home.

Sorry if this was a derail, but I thought that it was pertinent.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2013, 05:40:53 PM by Skynet »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #71 on: July 14, 2013, 05:40:29 PM »
The root cause is a society that has created/upheld racism. Just having positive role models doesn't mean anything if the people in charge of whatever are racist. It doesn't stop the fact that white people unjustly receive more scholarships. It doesn't stop the fact that if your high school counselors have already 'given up' on you, then they will push not furthering your education (and note the relationship between being not white and being given up on. It doesn't stop the terrible discipline system in schools and how they affect children of color unevenly. It doesn't stop the school to prison pipeline.
Related to the education issue: This video was already linked elsewhere on E, but there's an incredibly revealing bit that it basically glosses over near the end: Being part of the underclass had immediate and drastic impact on their school performance. I leave it as an exercise to extrapolate this to the larger issues.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #72 on: July 14, 2013, 05:42:11 PM »
I'd like to mention that a lot of privately run for-profit prisons (which are not government-run) are responsible for putting a lot of innocent people in prison, many of who are people of color.  Several infamous "Cash for kids" programs involved such prison officials bribing judges to sentence innocent people.

(NB: Not America's first for-profit prison system. Convict leasing, essentially a thinly-disguised form of slavery fed by periodic use of the justice system for press-ganging, was practised in the South until the 1950s. Combined with debt peonage, this system effectively re-enslaved most of the Southern blacks who had been freed after the Civil War but had not left the South. Today's system is less brutal but broader-ranging.)

Offline Ellipsis

Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #73 on: July 14, 2013, 05:44:17 PM »
I know I'm a little late to the party, but a couple previous posters had brought up that they didn't think race had anything to do with the trial.

Whether or not race played a large or small part is something I'm not going to get into, but I do believe Zimmerman's actions were partially motivated by race, i.e. profiling. There had been a string of robberies in the area apparently perpetrated by black males. Zimmerman even reached out to one of the women that had her home invaded, helping her change her locks and suggesting she stay with his wife if she had any problems.

So if your neighborhood has been a victim of said crimes and the only reported suspects were of a particular race, there's a logical connection as to why Zimmerman was suspicious of Trayvon. Now, I am not condoning his actions in the slightest. Personally, I believe he should have been convicted of manslaughter, but I do agree race played a role in what sort of events transpired. If it was a white teenager walking alone at night, Zimmerman may not have given the guy another glance, though I'm just speculating.

Offline Slywyn

Re: The Case of Trayvon Martin
« Reply #74 on: July 14, 2013, 05:48:48 PM »
Quote
Too bad Slywyn was offended, because I thought xiaomei's comment was quite funny and very true.

I'm not offended in the slightest. The tone has shifted from an actual discussion to "Let's blame everyone and everything but ourselves" and I refuse to be a part of that.