MA Attorney General’s Comment in Running for Stupidest Comment Possible About George Floyd Riots
By Ken K. Gourdin
In what, surely, will vie for the title of stupidest comment since this whole drama/fiasco—this senseless orgy of rioting, looting, vandalism, arson, assault and battery, and, yes, murder—began, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey likened the senseless violence to a forest fire, implying that the destruction begotten by that senseless violence is a necessary and beneficial step in a regenerative process that, ultimately, will prove beneficial. Ms. Healey’s comment is so stupid on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin my criticism.
According to Commonwealth Magazine, Attorney General Healey implied that the nation will see long-term benefits from the rioting: “Yes, America is burning,” she said, “but that’s how forests grow.” No, you don’t understand. The lawlessness is necessary and good! And this, from a state’s chief law enforcement officer? See Commonwealth’s coverage of Attorney General Healey’s comment here (this and any other links last accessed June 3, 2020): https://commonwealthmagazine.org/uncategorized/healey-america-is-burning-but-thats-how-forests-grow/.
Yes, the loss of George Floyd’s life truly is a tragedy, but the unrest, the destruction, and the mayhem and the murder that has followed has made his death simply the tip of the iceberg. Real lives are being lost; real, serious injuries are being inflicted; real businesses are being destroyed; real livelihoods are being ripped away from, and are being obliterated for, people who need them desperately, even more so since mayors and governors imposed lockdowns months ago in response to COVID-19.
I am, at my core, an optimist. In many cases, I’m all for attempting to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty, and for trying to accentuate the positive and eliminate—as much as possible—the negative. But there’s a difference between genuine, well-founded (or even, perhaps, less well-founded, longshot) optimism, on the one hand, and its cockeyed, counterfeit counterpart, on the other. The Attorney General seems oblivious to that rather crucial distinction.
As the chief law enforcement officer in your jurisdiction, Ma’am, you seem to have an awfully cavalier attitude about the lives and welfare of the law enforcement officers who serve under you. While, to the best of my knowledge, I do not know any of those officers, I am the son and brother, respectively, of career law enforcement officers in other jurisdictions, and I find such a cavalier attitude offensive.
“People are being murdered!” “Meh, that’s how forests grow.”
“People are being assaulted, battered, and maimed!” “Meh, that’s how forests grow.”
“People are losing their livelihoods.” “Meh, that’s how forests grow.”
“Businesses are being looted and destroyed!” “Meh, that’s how forests grow.”
And so on, ad nauseam.
I think her analogy, given the consequences that have resulted before the “forest” can be “regenerated” (my words), is in a class of its own for stupidity. It does remind me, though, of other stupid analogies, e.g., “Meh, if you want to make an omelet, you’ve got to break a few eggs!” Got that? Ken’s Proven, Two-Step Process for Crafting Bad Analogies: (1) Minimize, discount, or ignore entirely real pain being generated by a real event; (2) Analogize the real, painful consequences of the event to something trivial, such as an omelet being made or a forest growing.
In a compilation of aphorisms, they should put Attorney General Healey’s picture next to the one that says, “It is better to stay silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”