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Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff

November 15, 2015 Leave a comment

I’m currently reading some of the works of Harvey Pekar, writer of American Splendor, whose words are the title of this post. One passage in particular struck a cord – although written 4 decades ago it still has more relevance than ever. Pekar wrote a piece on his being called to perform jury service and how his criticisms of the justice system saw that he wasn’t called to serve, and the consternation they caused among the judiciary and prosecution lawyers.

That night I thought about the so called justice system in this country and got madder and MADDER. Rich people like Nixon and Agnew go free while some poor people get years in the slammer for committing far less serious crimes.

These right wingers bitch about all the crime in this country. But they don’t have any idea about how much some of their values have t’do with causin’ it. America is a country where competition rather than co-operation is praised, where it’s thought that society will benefit from people being set against each other.  America is a violence loving country where people like John Wayne.. are considered heroes and heroines. America is a country where the successful man is thought to be the rich man, where honesty, diligence, outstanding scholarship and artistic achievements that bring no financial reward are looked upon with indifference.

America is a country where it’s considered OK and even clever to break the law as long as you can get away with it. Richard Nixon wasn’t disgraced because he was dishonest. People had known he was crooked for a long time, he was disgraced because he got caught.

Add these factors up and it’s no wonder you got people who want money and material luxuries and are willing to use illegal means, including violence, t’get them. If they’re caught, they’re considered losers, but if they get away with it there’ll be plenty of people in this country that’ll praise ’em.

What I like about Pekar is that he is a man of strong principles because they are right – he doesn’t do things to be seen to be doing right or as a better person. The piece that follows the jury service story tells of a colleague who sometimes gives Pekar a lift home. The colleague is praised for her selflessness and how much she cares for other but Pekar’s main theme is how he sometimes has to wait for his lift because she is helping out someone else. This pisses him off. It’s a consistent theme in his work, his petty annoyances and near solipsism when dealing with other people.  In being so honest about himself he indeed exposes the complexity of life and of those who live it. Who knows, the selfless co-worker may have gone home, kicked the cat and shouted at the telly about immigration. Or maybe not.

Anyway, I really just wanted to post his words on justice. So, erm, yeah.

Read some Pekar, and fuck the justice system.

Harvey Pekar-9

Categories: comics, Harvey Pekar Tags: , ,