Charita Goshay: Nothing hip about bloodshed at Kent State
Someone at Urban Outfitters thought it would be — cool? Really? — to offer a faux-vintage Kent State University sweatshirt, replete with fake blood stains, an obvious reference to the fatal shootings that occurred there in 1970.
Those who are old enough to remember what happened on May 4, 1970, know there was nothing hip or awesome about it.
The company issued an apology, claiming that no connection was intended — adding insult to the injury.
The shirt is just the latest example of what happens when history gets trampled for the sake of making a buck.
In the spring of 1970, Kent’s campus was in an uproar over Vietnam. In the confusion, which has yet to be resolved, Ohio National Guardsmen fired into a crowd, killing four students and wounding nine others.
Ten days later, two students at the historically black Jackson State University in Mississippi were killed in a clash with police, but it was Kent State that gashed the nation’s sensibilities: the notion that white, middle-class kids could be gunned down, too.
May 4 was the beginning of the end of support for Vietnam among Americans who trusted that the government knew what it was doing and had viewed the protesters as unpatriotic anarchists.
But the Urban Outfitters shirt — priced at a laughable $129 — is being marketed to teens and 20-somethings who have no clue about the turmoil that occurred; the kind who might play video combat games that offer all the excitement but require none of the personal sacrifice, terror and mayhem of being killed in combat.
In its pursuit of coolness, Urban Outfitters inadvertently offers a good argument for the value of having older employees on staff who would have told the company better.
We all understand that art at times must be provocative to make us think. But this latest message — whatever it is — rings hollow.
SCANDAL A DAY
Remember the good old days when people were worried that the NFL’s first openly gay player would be a distraction? The league is on a scandal-a-day pace for problems that have nothing whatever to do with Michael Sam, the latest involving Adrian Peterson, who has been indicted on a felony charge of child abuse. The Minnesota Vikings star has admitted spanking his preschool son with a switch, causing welts and bleeding wounds.
It’s a good bet that some people over 40 may have shrugged at the news and recalled their own experiences of being on the wrong end of a switch, a belt or a hand. That’s because three-fourths of American parents have spanked their child at some point, and because once upon a time, there was no such thing as a timeout.
The “shruggers” include NBA personality Charles Barkley, who’s arguing that spanking is cultural and hardly uncommon within the black community and that if more parents did it, your grandmother wouldn’t have to be afraid of the teenagers walking down the middle of her street.
Barkley’s not an outlier on this one. More than a few people dismiss diagnoses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder as $10 excuses for being bratty.
But is spanking really the panacea some claim it to be? Pro-spankers seem to forget that in their generation, even most of the poorest kids enjoyed more family stability and structure than is demonstrated today.
How much is too much punishment? A bruised and bleeding child means a line has been crossed. If you were clubbed as a kid because your dad got clubbed when he was a kid, that doesn’t always mean it was a good thing.
If not sparing the rod fixes everything, why are there so many broken adults?
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or email@example.com. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP