Tuesday, June 03, 2008

'Native' Tongue

Now feels like the perfect time to mention that it's my 10-year anniversary in New York City, because I'm feeling decidedly like a New Yorker, smug and vindicated by the jury of my peers that acquitted Christopher Carter yesterday of assault for violently attacking that selfish prick who wouldn't shut the fuck up in a spin class at their gym (aka Stuart Sugarman).

Some readers of my blog expressed outrage at my pro-Carter stance, (and at my tread mill incident) but the news resonated with my fellow New Yorkers far and wide, who saw Sugarman as a symbol for the myriad irritants who are an unfortunate part of the (crowded) New York experience, like "the loud cell phone talker in the elevator, the picture-happy tourist blocking a crowded sidewalk, the testosterone-laced grunter who practically coughs up a parakeet with each biceps curl." For the suffering New Yorkers who have only dreamed of eliminating nuisances like these without having to be polite, Christopher Carter might be a hero.

  • The jurors who heard the case in Manhattan Criminal Court, several of whom were interviewed afterward, certainly did not seem to be on the side of Sugarman: "I was like, 'Why must he be obnoxious and disrespectful to the others?'" said juror Marybeth Roman, a 20-year-old sociology student who lives on the Lower East Side.

  • "Don’t know Chris Carter, but can we give him a medal?" an anonymous commenter wrote to Dealbreaker.com, an attitude-laden blog about Wall Street goings-on. Another commenter described Sugarman as someone who "shoots off his mouth, ignores requests, then tattles like a little girl when he gets thumped."

  • A writer named Curt Schleier made a similar point. "Go to jail?" he said. "I think Carter deserves a medal." Schleier had an interesting angle on this sorry episode, which he called a small part of a much larger issue: "Many Americans have an increasing sense of entitlement," he said. "That is, what they want to do is more important than anyone else." (NYT)

    In the end it was Carter's lawyer, Michael C. Farkas, who summed it up best: "If you’re going to act in a manner that’s going to be completely inconsiderate of others, then great things aren’t going to happen for you." (NYT)

  • Related:
  • Feel the Spin
  • Bike 'Messenger'

    Matthew said...

    I'm completely against you and this jury on this. People are assholes—this much is true. I can list a hundred outrageous things that they do daily that annoy me and others. However, there is never justification for physical violence in these situations. Kenneth, this same guy or someone like him could find two men holding hands to be outrageously disrespectful and disruptive and decide to kick their ass for refusing to stop. And you know what? I bet you'd find quite a few juries out there who'd support him if the hand-holders were in any way unsympathetic in appearance or manner. You can't go around hitting people for being rude and obnoxious or we'd live in a country where everyone had two black eyes—I've got people whistling and singing on the elevator, leaving grocery carts between me and the check-out, blurting out asinine comments as I walk my dogs ("What, are they gonna hump each otha?") and there's no way I'd want to attack them for it, not really. In this case, to me, it seems obvious that the fault lies with the person conducting the class. There's no reason class could not have been suspended and the man ejected, possibly with police assistance if he were as big an asshole as he seems to have been (who says, "Make me!" these days??? Was he a member of The Little Rascals?). Oh, and while I'm ranting, the jury system is MEANINGLESS to me. I've served on them and they are pointless, biased and badly in need of being replaced by...something. :0) All this jury's decision proves is a lot of people are angry (rightfully so) enough to make poor judgments (wrongfully so). Sorry, I'm not with ya on this one! WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT, HUH???

    Steve Reed said...

    As a fellow New Yorker, I am totally with you on this one.

    Sam said...

    I am totally with you on this one. Gym screamers and people who yell into cell phones on elevators - what is wrong with these people? Do they think they're the only people on earth?

    Kenneth M. Walsh said...

    Oh, Matt. You're so Flint!

    Joe said...

    I totally agree with Matt!

    Anonymous said...

    As much as we'd all love to chalk this verdict up to a simple asshole-bashing exercise, the reality is that it came about due to the outright lies that the aforementioned asshole tried to sell to the jury during the trial. If he had just told some of the truth, and not been such an arrogant, conniving con artist, the jury would have convicted Carter despite Sugarman's ridiculous behavior on his spin bike. This was a meticulous jury that really listened. He lied pathologically, and as a result he himself actually created the reasonable doubt that perhaps he had gotten hurt some other way. That's it. Sorry, wannabe asshole bashers.