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The Cody Blog: The Theft of Irony

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Theft of Irony

Last night, after a 16 hour day on 3 hours sleep, I had to get some exercise. Obviously, I was in no shape to play hardcore pick up ball at the courts I usually play at, so I went over to the smaller courts by my apartment just to shoot. Some pretty good guys were playing pick up and needed a sixth, so they talked me into playing, despite my exhaustion.

I played a game with them, and my team won pretty handily. After the game, the tall lanky white kid who'd been trying to cover me says something and I pick up a midwest accent from him.

Me: "Where you from, man?"
Him: "Small town in Iowa."
Me: "Ah, how long have you been in NYC?"
Him: "Three weeks. I'm an editor at a Christian magazine," he said, with what I found to be suprising obvious embarrassment and expectation of catching shit for that job.
Me: "Ah, how'd you find this place to play?"
Him: "I live across the street, and I don't want to play over at the other courts," which by the way, he was good enough to play at. "Those guys over there are like future criminals and drug dealers. Some kids wanted to borrow my ball, so I just went home."
Me, realizing of course what this kid is actually talking about is the fact that those hardcore courts are populated with probably 80% black guys: "Whoa. You do realize that 'those guys' are just like everyone you know in Iowa. About the same ratio of bad guys there as there are at the courts you used to play at in Iowa." And to drive my point home, "And wouldn't God say the same?"
Him: "Yeah, I guess."
Me: "Listen, I have asked kids on the side of the court to hold my $1500 Breitling watch while I play. And everytime I've gotten it back."

So we played one more game. Some goof ass on my team tried to block a shot and came flying out of nowhere to hit me in the face, and I now have a fat lip. The goof lands wrong and limps off. I was so pissed. I was already exhuasted and ready to just go home, so I look around for my ball.

You guessed it: Someone had stolen my ball!

I can't decide if the fact that someone stole my ball after me having said that the Iowa kid shouldn't worry about such things is the ironic part.

Or if the fact that my ball was stolen on the non-hardcore courts where this kid felt safer is the ironic part.

I do know that this theft is ironic. And that now I need a new basketball.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crime rates do in fact vary by race. You can argue about why that's the case, not whether it is the case. Asian-Americans have the lowest rates of commision, followed by caucasions and then blacks and hispanics. Here's the FBI/DOJ link: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm

6/16/2005 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger JoeC said...

Anonymous, thanks for the link. It has fascinating data. Cody's point, in this post and elsewhere in his blog (forgive me Cody by speaking for you) is that racial predispositions (usually referring to those against African Americans) are unjust and should not be tolerated. I agree with him (full disclosure I am also a Caucasian male residing in Manhattan).
At the bottom of the link provided is a chart segmenting "acquantaince murders" and "stranger murders" by race. See the site for definitions but they are straightforward. I am not a statistician but the numbers are important. Assuming that the main racist predisposition is that caucasians are more at risk of murder (in the case of this site) perpetrated by blacks than by other whites, consider this. In 2002 (most recent year available on the site) there were 6,876 murders. Of those, only (and of course every murder is one too many) 326 murders were of whites perpetrated by blacks who were strangers to the victim or 4.74% of the total. 864 of the total murders were of whites perpetrated by other whites who were strangers to the victim. So a white, if murdered by a stranger, is 2.65 times more likely to have been killed by another white person than by a black person. Of course, blacks make up a smaller percentage of the population so the incidence rate is greater, but I think the "raw" numbers have some value.

6/16/2005 08:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joec, a couple of quick points. As I made clear to Mr. Willard last night, my point was not that blacks or other minorities are pre-disposed to commit crime. That imply a genetic motivation for crime and would be a racist argument. But the stats are the stats. 12%-13% of the population is responsible for 50% of all violent crime, not just murders. Most of the violent crime is committed by blacks against other blacks. But, the interracial violent crime data is also interesting. Blacks victimize whites at a rate of 8-9x the rate of white on black crime. You can argue about why this is the case, not whether it is the case. I would also challenge you to a thought experiment: your mom's car breaks down in NYC. Would you prefer that it broke down in Harlem or Chelsea? How about Washington Heights vs. a Korean immigrant neighborhood? Now that I think of it, what part of the city do you live in and why? Look, as I said to Mr. Willard, the internet/blogosphere should be about debate, honesy and accountablility. Something in his original post struck me as self righteous and demonstrably incorrect so I fact checked. Much to my surprise, he didn't engage in a cyber food fight, in fact, he welcomed the criticism. If we want to have honest debates we have to start from a foundation of truth. Not wanting uncomfortable facts to be true doesn't make them go away. Thanks for the civilized discourse--have to go to work now.

6/17/2005 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger treytrenchard said...

Anonymous you are right, facts ar facts, however, How can you compare Harlem to Chelsea? Chelsea is a more affluent neighborhood. The risk/reward of commiting a crime if you belong the socio-economic level of the people in chelsea as opposed to those in Harlem is far greater. For example: would your rather break down in rural "squeal like a pig boy" deliverance Arkansas or Harlem?

6/17/2005 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rural squeal like a pig Deliverance Arkansas." Interesting how some stereotypes are acceptable and some aren't, isn't it? Give me rural America, black or white, any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Last post.

6/17/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger treytrenchard said...

First of all, obviously you have never lived in the rural South. Second, maybe I should have made my point that one would prefer to be a white guy in Harlem than a black guy in in the rural south. It's a difference of the motivation of the crime. My point was that areas like Harlem have high crime rates because low socio-economic status results in crime out of desperation. The types of crime in the rural south against blacks is purely of the violent, hate type. If you break down in a 1975 AMC Gremlin in Harlem you have nothing to worry about. However, no matter what your social status, if you are black and stranded in the rural south you have a good reason to be afraid. I have never heard of blacks commiting genocide against whites (refering to the KKK) or blacks dragging whites behind cars (refering to Jackson, TX). So the conclusion is either whites are more prone to cause crime if you control for crime caused by poverty or white people are simply more violent. It's either one or the other; you choose. Can't argue with facts right?

6/17/2005 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous maya said...

For what it is worth, I would like to offer a woman's perspective. I lived in NYC for over 17 years, on the upper East side. It so happens that when I was new in NYC, I got off at the wrong stop on the subway and ended up in Harlem. Disclosure I am Asian-American. Having heard all the horrible stories, I was afraid. On top of that I was naturally shy and timid. But all my fears turned out to be unfounded. A bunch of guys, African- American, hanging out in the street gave me the right directions and I got back home safely. On the other hand, I was physically groped in broad daylight on the upper east side by a Caucasian male hanging out with his Caucasian male friends. One of my Caucasian girl friend had her purse ripped out of her hand, again in broad daylight, on Madison Avenue by a Caucasian male as well. On many a late nights when I walked home, I encountered groups of African-American kids but not once was I ever hurt in any way.

6/17/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger JoeC said...

Anonymous,

I'll answer your questions and add some comments. First, where would I prefer my wife's car to break down. Well, would clerly prefer Chelsea to Harlem but that is more an issue of my sense of the relative safety of the area than racial demographic. I don't think Chinatown is preferable to Harlem for a car breakdown, and frankly all are preferable to where her car did break down a few months ago: on a bridge on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Where do I live? Tribeca. Why? Beautiful loft apartments, easy commute to Midtown, good local public elementary school. Yes it is a relatively high income area but that is where our income level is, fortunately.
One thing that may be interesting. Compare the precinct crime stat pages on http://www.nypd.com for the 5th precinct (Chinatown) and the 28th precinct (central Harlem). The stats are almost identical (and with similar populations).

6/18/2005 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Wes said...

I've said it before; I have friends who are African American, Asian, gay, amongst many other varieties of humans. I just happen to be white. I treat people in the way that they treat me. However, one can never be too careful given a pre-exisiting good reason for cautiousness. Call them racist, or call them well-informed.

People stereotype themselves. Harsh, or true?

6/19/2005 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read Mr. Willard's post and wanted to make some final comments. I agree with his sentiments re treating people as individuals and not "extrapolating guilt" as he puts it. I also want to make clear, again, that I am not implying a genetic component to higher crime rates. However, I cannot agree with his statement that there is only a "slight" difference in crime rates. It's disproportional representation that I'm talking about. Blacks make up 12% of the population and commit 50% of all violent crime. That's not a "slight" variance. As far as interracial crime goes, blacks victimize whites at 8-9X the rate of white on black crime. Think aobut that the next time you hear some sanctimonious journalist or politician lecture you about "hate crimes." Does this mean that the black guy you play ball with or sit next to at the office is a criminal? Of course it doesn't. Should I be worried that my white neighbor is a serial killer because the overwhelming majority of serial killers are white men age 25-55? How about my Harley-riding uncle? Should I suspect he's involved in crystal Meth because that portion of the drug trade is controlled by white biker gangs? Umm, no.

We are always being told that we have to have a "frank discussion" about race in this country. OK, fine, let's talk about it. But that conversation can't just consist of lectures about the evils of white racism. That is an essential part of the debate, but only half of it. There is a cultural breakdown taking place within the black community that is independent of white racism. Welfare dependency, 70% illegitamacy rates and a hostility to intellectualism ("acting white") are essential topics that have to be open for discussion. Some will still dismiss this as racist. Allright, but is Bill Cosby prejudiced against black people too? How about Thomas Sowell or John McWhorter or countless other black scholars who point to the same uncomfortable facts and voice the same thoughts? When Jesse Jackson says, "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery--then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved", is he operating under the influence of a racist stereotype? Some people, like treytrenchard, think that poverty, caused by white racism, is in fact to blame. Ok, that's at least an argument (that I obviously disagree with) that we can have as long as we kick off that debate from a truthful starting point. Happy-talk, white guilt and good intentions will not change facts or make these problems go away. Thanks all. Last post.

6/21/2005 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger treytrenchard said...

I never said anything about white racism causing poverty. I'm definately not saying it doesn't, but it is irrelevent to my point. My point is that perhaps one day some scientist will come up with a study that proves some ethnic groups are prediposed to violence or crime more than others. Even if that happens it doesn't change the fact that poverty predisposes people to violence and crime far more than genetics (if genetics even factors in). For example upper-class black neighborhoods like Ladera Heights in LA are virtually devoid of crime just like all the numerous white neighborhoods all over the country. The keyword is numerous. Thats the vast majority of the reason for your statistics being significant.
When you make reckless, unfounded, non-fact based statements stating that the the difference in crime in Chelsea vs. Harlem is based the color of a person's skin not their socio-economic standing it totally goes against what you claim your arguement was originally about: basing arguements on facts.
When you refer to a white vs. black neighborhood and then refer to a Korean vs. Black neighborhood and then say you are "not implying a genetic component to higher crime rates" do you expect me to believe your argument was indeed unbiased and not the ends justfying the means. If you want to make an unbiased point based on facts, have it be valid, and have it change peoples minds you should probably think before you get creative because your true motive might show.

6/21/2005 02:46:00 PM  

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