Posted by Jay Livingston
Yesterday, I posted about the conservatives’ tendency to celebrate killing – so long as the killing is, in their view, justifiable. When the moderator at a Republican primary debate cited the record number of people executed in Texas under Governor Perry, the audience cheered.
We don’t know how long the applause would have continued if Brian Williams hadn’t interrupted.
I’m now reminded of a similar audience reaction – the inmates at Folsom Prison listening to Johnny Cash and cheering at this line in “Folsom Prison Blues”
To paraphrase the journalist I quoted asking about the people lining up for George Zimmeman’s autograph: Who are these people cheering when Cash sings “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”?” The answer is simple. They’re criminals; some of them are killers. That’s why they’re in prison.
And to quote Richard Pryor, “Thank God we got penitentiaries.”
(The line comes early in the clip from “Live on the Sunset Strip” (1982) . (If it doesn't load, go here). But if you have forgotten, as I had, just how good Pryor was, watch the whole thing.)
I imagine how Pryor might react these days:
Y’know, but there’s a difference. Them motherfuckers yelling about shootin’ a man in Reno – they was in the joint. They get out, they can’t even vote. Motherfuckers cheering for killing more people with executions and stand your ground and shit – they run half the states in the country.