At TacomaStories I do what I can to not vilify anyone. In the nine years that I’ve been writing about Tacoma and Tacoma crime, I’ve gone increasingly out of my way not to name the killers in Tacoma homicides. Last week when I wrote about an armed man who was shot by the Tacoma Police Department I didn’t mention the police officer’s name and I treated the victim like a human being deserving of respect. Other media outlets and social media weren’t so considerate.
The rule is to treat everyone like another human being even if they do not do the same for you or others. We gain nothing by singling out someone and destroying them. When we tear another man down, we are in fact tearing ourselves down as well. It’s not easy to write this way or behave this way and there are times I fail, but those are the times I’m reminded how important it is to keep trying.
Yesterday, the owner of Dorky’s Arcade in downtown Tacoma had an encounter with Tacoma Stands Up, a Tacoma variation of Black Lives Matter that stages marches on Sundays. The march ended across the street from Dorky’s Arcade on South 9th and Pacific Ave. Annoyed by the march, the owner of Dorky’s did the absolute last thing he should have done. He antagonized the peaceful marchers culminating in him chanting “NIG-GER” in the face of one of the protesters. It was a despicable, hateful, and racist act.
Today, the Court of Social Media meted out its punishment. Dozens of people vowed to boycott Dorky’s forever and encouraged everyone else to do the same. The brewery advertised on the owner’s shirt in the video immediately announced they would no longer be providing their beer for the establishment. Photoshopped images of the owner walking with Hulk Hogan and Klansman showed up online. Some said he should never make another dime in Tacoma.
The owner has publicly apologized and offered to let Black Lives Matter meet at Dorky’s. Both have been refused by Tacoma Stands Up. This is understandable.
Let me be clear that I am not in any way defending the owner’s actions any more than I defend the actions of the actions of those killed in justifiable homicides when I focus on them as human beings.
That said, I do not see how the causes of Tacoma Stands Up, Black Lives Matter, or racial equality in general are helped by destroying a downtown Tacoma business that employs ten people in addition to the business owner. Not one racist mind will be changed by such an action. Racists will point to it as political correctness run amok and say stupid untrue racist things. Are we using the same mentality for social sins as we do for the death penalty? Do we really think such things deter others of a similar bent? Studies have shown that fear of the death penalty has no effect on whether or not a murderer kills someone. Why would anyone think that destroying a man’s business will deter a racist?
The goal shouldn’t be to see how far and how quickly we can tear a bad man down. It should be, how can we go about making him and other bad men better? Instead of putting the man out of business and his employees on the unemployment line, wouldn’t it make more sense to have him sit down with the leaders of Tacoma Stands Up and have a conversation?
It’s become more and more obvious that we need to have a talk about race. We need to have many talks. Talking and getting to know one another and their point of views is the best way to eliminate hate. I do not know the owner of Dorky’s. I do not know the leaders of Tacoma Stands Up. I do know that we aren’t going to change any minds by hating bigots.