89-year-old Wintrop White Winthrop, Esq., whose vast inherited wealth and numerous globe-trekking adventures have afforded him unique insight into controversial social issues, walks you through these potential minefields with the sensitivity and aplomb consistent with his pedigree.
From my expansive overhead vantage point (dirigible-suspended mansion) of this steaming, heady multicultural consommé of humanity we call The United States Of America, I have beheld yet another troublesome gnat, alighting upon and causing ripples in said national broth, this time in the form of civil unrest in regard to what is perceived as police running roughshod over citizens’ inalienable constitutional rights—particularly of those from minority backgrounds.
I speak not just of the ongoing unrest at that flashpoint of racial-based foofarah that is Ferguson, Missouri, or, of the seemingly weekly instances of excessive force by officers of the law coming to light; no, I refer to the deeper undercurrent of the sustained culture of power-abuse at the hands of law enforcement from which these latest examples have bubbled to the surface. And to parry your collective brain-thrust amounting to, “but sir, how can you, an alabaster-complected man fortunate enough to live in a floating manse from which no fewer than 9 pet serval cats have fallen to their deaths, possibly understand the first thing about violent and repressive police behavior?” let me simply say this, my dear interlocutors:
Spanning six decades, I have personally been shot over 700 times by officers representing nearly 200 U.S. jurisdictions. So, to those brave souls attempting to face down the beginnings of what can not but otherwise amount to the beginnings of a sinister police state that wishes to hold them under its thumb and rob them of their personhood—I know your pain. Many, many dozens of times over, I know your pain.
And my own experiences, I believe, speak to the fundamental questions at the center of this issue. Namely, what sort of nation can purport to be based on “justice for all” when a “free” man cannot walk his pack of serval cats into a Costco without being lain prostrate by a hail of state-sanctioned gunfire upon returning to the parking lot? And what does our notion of liberty truly mean when a stripped-to-the-waist, pig’s-blood-covered citizen-hunter tracks a pain-mad javelina he has wounded onto the grounds of a grammar school in order to deal the deathblow by plunging his jade dagger into the thrashing beast’s throat as terrified children scatter, only to be gut-shot by some trigger-happy, fuzz-lipped whelp of a deputy from the Flagstaff sheriff’s department?
Is there nowhere one can feel safe from the men and women meant to protect the very right to life and liberty that they so often attempt to unilaterally take from us? Even during the rare times I have made use of commercial air travel, the setting off of all metal detectors within a 100-yard-radius of my person due to the many spent rounds still lodged in my body from previous encounters with police—and also the several formal dress-swords hidden about my person (the state in which people travel now is appalling. No dress swords? No knife-tipped peacock-feather capes? Disgusting)—has often prompted my having been gunned down yet again at the hands of federal agents!
And what better example of poetic injustice than this reflects the situation of those trapped in similar vicious cycles, where the circumstance of their ethnic heritage and the cage of poverty into which they have been born has already made them guilty parties in the eyes of the law? It is this—and the fact that even now I cannot set foot in most Rhode Island municipalities without being immediately gunned down, despite my many handwritten apologies—that almost makes me ashamed to float above this country in my palatial zeppelin estate.
Still, we must take heart, my friends. For I must believe in my heart that one day, you and I will be able to freely walk down the middle of any American street, dragging in our wake as many vicious exotic pets as we please, playfully sparring with our decorative swords, a healthy dose of absinthe-soaked peyote coursing through our veins, and finally, at long last, reaping the benefits of those lofty promises made to us by the U.S. Constitution.