George Floyd was a felonious black junkie with a white girlfriend. He was mountainous to see, and criminally inclined. He was the thick-lipped nightmare that drags your wife into the stairwell of the parking garage when she leaves work late. Shaved head, blocky through the shoulders, high and mumbling in some inner city dialect you don't hear on your block.
And look at the cop who killed him. Buzzed hair, clean shave, creases stitched into his uniform, hung with black leather and tasers and guns, a solid, thin-lipped brick in the blue wall, equally at home standing at attention to receive a commendation or busting through the door of a crack house with a cartoon balloon over his saying "KA-POW!" He is your very protector, a man whose iron-eyed stoic courage causes men and women to want him in some unified scrambled ball of lust and admiration.
Yes, it's the battle of the stereotypes, and all stereotypes have some basis in what people are, or want to be, or are made to be because we need them to be that thing.
We drape ourselves in electronics, in computers, and Alexa, in Roku, and war games where the blood stays on the screen, in computers, in dots and coms. My mother, a native-born American of Scotch-Irish descent, was 19 before she ever tasted pizza. On the day she died, the supermarket two miles from her glaringly florescent nursing home offered 13 varieties of frozen pizza for sale including two with crusts made from broccoli.
We progress. You don't put your hands on other people. You're a Realtor. You don't struggle. You sell insurance. You don't wrestle. You're a "facilitator." You don't roll on the ground with your front teeth sunk in someone's earlobe. You don't "flee the scene." You're a "coordinator." My wife walks into the air-conditioned, teal-walled comfort of the protein shake place with the small, quick steps of confidence.
"I wrestle maniacs," a cop once said to me at the scene of a crime. "My wife is a dental assistant, and that's what we do."
He took the toothpick out of his mouth and dropped it on the ground as the lieutenant walked toward him because being without a toothpick in his mouth was part of his job, at least when management was around.
While we choose from the dozen kinds of frozen pizza available, some men and women take up the older trades of blood and danger for reasons of pensions and quick money, early retirement or one hell of a good time right now. The military. The police force. Street prostitution. Drug dealing. Theft.
All of those are old, old businesses, and every one of them carries a great opportunity of early death, and the possibility of wrestling maniacs or teeth sunk into your earlobe.
In those trades, everything is centuries old, everything is hands on bodies, everything is blood. Alexa is back at the house where it's safe. Alexa doesn't work in the rain. Out here, it rains on people fighting, and it's sometimes still a blade slicing skin, a fist crushing a nose, hands around a throat.
It took me nearly two weeks to see it, but Derek Chauvin isn't so much killing George Floyd as he is posing with George Floyd, the way I've seen prideful hunters pose with a dead deer. I've had that look holding a pair of dead geese up by the neck after a day of hunting.
The technology gets better. We don't.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a collection of his best columns, is entitled "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, GooglePlay and iBooks.
Photo credit: ArtisticOperations at Pixabay