I can end your lives with the stroke of a pen

With everything else being said about the Jena 6, this one quote from the district attorney in the case really hit me (bloggernista):

Black students protested the light sentence given to the white students and were promptly threatened by the county’s district attorney who said “See this pen? I can end your lives with the stroke of a pen.”

That’s a powerful statement.  Its a frightening one.  It stands for so much of what can go wrong with our justice system.  The widely acknowledged racial biases in sentencing.  The fact that lives are literally flushed down the toilet needlessly out of some misguided sense of judicial revenge.  The power gap between the accused and the system that can crush them completely.

Black students attempted to speak before the school about the rising level of racial tension at the school, but were dismissed.

It represents the ability of our society to silence.  The power players, the politicians, executives, media moguls, and government officials, all have this uncanny ability to shut you up.  Whether you are removed from an event for wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt, ignored or downplayed by the press, or hit with a SLAPP, power is regularly used to prevent the powerless from standing up for themselves.

This social violence extends beyond the power players to those who sympathize with them.  As Pam notes:

* No surprise — The Southern Poverty Law Center Warns of Expected White Supremacist Activity at Jena Rally.

One particular web posting, on the white supremacist message board Stormfront.org, came from former Baton Rouge neo-Nazi leader Robert Moore. In the posting, Moore wrote about police security arrangements in Jena and whether weapons would be allowed in certain areas. “Remember, Louisiana is an open-carry state, and your vehicle is an extention [sic] of your home,” he wrote. “We also have the right to defend ourselves if attacked.”

This threat of violence is in line with the actions of the county in the case of the Jena 6.  Its not agbout these students, its about pushing  a whole group of people down, and holding them down.

The key to fighting this is unity.  Which is one of many reasons I am proud to see the Gay community taking such a strong public stand in support of the Jena 6:

D.C. residents including members and staff of the Human Rights Campaign will also be gathering tomorrow in solidarity with the Jena 6

Other groups familiar with fighting hate are taking a stand.  JSpot, JBlog, UCC, Feministing.  United we are stronger than the hate estate could ever hope to be.  That DA may be able to end lives with the stroke of a pen, but we can save those lives with our keyboards and our voices.

We can attack the vicious worldview that lurks behind those words.  And we can win.

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