Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Day In History

Rodney King resisting arrest on his hands and knees.

Some interesting stuff happened on this day in history.

- In 1992, a Los Angeles jury acquitted four police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King. The verdict triggered four days of rioting, resulting in 53 deaths and millions of dollars in damage to buildings and property. Despite the fact that there was videotape evidence that King was laying on the ground being beaten by the officers, the "jury of his peers" (not a single African American) decided that the officers were justified in using excessive force. Bravo, jury. Two of the officers were later convicted of civil right violations in a federal trial, and were sentenced to 30 months in prison. Too little, too late.

- In 1967, Muhammed Ali is stripped of his heavyweight boxing title after refusing induction into the US Army. He was the most famous of the conscientious objectors in the US during the Vietnam War era. He was not allowed to fight again until 1970. His conviction was eventually overturned.

- In 2003, legendary racehorse Barbaro was born. This singular event set into motion the most irrational outpourings of grief ever expressed toward a non-human animal. After breaking several bones in his leg in the 2006 Preakness, Barbaro developed laminitis in one of his other legs and rather than euthanizing him, his owners tried to save him (probably so they could make money from stud fees), thereby prolonging his life for a few months. People began to send get-well cards, flowers, presents, holy water, saint medallions, etc. to help him get well, apparently unaware that Barbaro was a horse and could not read cards or appreciate the other gestures made on his behalf. People on Internet message boards were sending him well wishes despite the fact that Barbaro was without Internet access. It actually got to be quite funny to read some of those message boards (yes, I did read some of them). People really went over the top in their anthropomorphizing (big word, eh?) of the horse, leading me to mutter to myself countless times, "he's a horse!" Anyway, Barbaro was born five years ago today. So, that happened.

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