Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Opinion

Joe Henderson: Stand-your-ground shooting shows how anger, entitlement permeate daily life

I have this recurring thought about the death of Markeis McGlockton, who was shot and killed after an argument over a parking space spiraled out of control.

But it isnít about the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law being invoked in this case, as reckless as that misbegotten piece of legislation may be. Itís about basic civility, or lack of it.

Intimidation and bullying used to be something civilized people didnít do, but now those traits have been legitimized, celebrated, and even institutionalized.

RELATED COVERAGE Pinellas stand-your-ground case now in prosecutorsí hands

We saw what that looked like during President Trumpís rally at the state fairgrounds. Incited by the insulter-in-chief, part of the crowd ó more like a small mob, really ó screamed invectives at CNN reporter Jim Acosta as he was trying to do his job.

It went beyond simple jeering. This was pure hate on display.

Some of the photos from that rally showed people so filled with rage, it makes you wonder if the nation can recover from this if upcoming elections donít go the way those people like. But rage over what? Iím not sure anyone knows, but itís there.

The president won the Oval Office on a campaign of division and by appealing to peopleís worst instincts, and it hasnít gotten better.

That anger and the sense of personal entitlement have permeated more than our politics, though. They have become interwoven in daily life. That brings us back to McGlockton.

Rewind the tape past where he was shot by Michael Drejka. Keep rewinding past the intimidating shove McGlockton applied to Drejka for arguing with his girlfriend and the mother of his children.

No, go all the way back to the start, when the van with McGlockton pulled into a clearly marked handicap space in front of a local drug store.

No one in the van was handicapped.

Thatís not OK.

A lot of people donít seem to get that point.

No, no, a thousand times no ó that was not an offense that should have led to anyoneís death, being shoved to the ground, or even an argument. But it did show a complete lack of empathy for someone who might actually need that space. It showed selfishness.

It showed complete disrespect.

And the offense certainly isnít unique to this case.

Outside my local gym recently, a guy ripped enough to look like he was coming off the set of Muscle Beach Party strolled to his car. It was parked in a handicap spot.

This guy had an air about him that said the rules donít apply to him.

School is starting soon. People who work in public high schools are already facing parents who feel entitled to scream at the front office staff for basically any little thing that happened to upset them that day. It goes on all the time.

Once classes start, it wonít be unusual for fights to break out among students over, well, it could be anything ó a sideways glance that is taken as a show of disrespect, a careless word, or just because they feel like fighting.

I think kids are modeling what they see at home, and those parents feel empowered because the president has legitimized lies and insults as long as they suit his purpose. And lawmakers passed something that has been interpreted as a license to kill as long as the shooter feels threatened.

It all goes together.

Get a grip, people.

Slow down. Look around. Be aware that you are not the all-knowing, all-powerful ruler of this planet. Use your brain. Things go better when we at least try to get along.

If that doesnít work, at least consider this: You might be that person one day who really needs a handicapped parking space. Karma has a way of leveling the playing field.

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