Well, this has got to be the most well-written article using the term “Baltimorons” I’ve ever read. Christopher Corbett, former Associated Press news editor in Baltimore, published a blog post at Reuters entitled “Baltimore It’s So Much Worse Than You Think.” And it’s downright dystopian.
Corbett paints an irony-ridden picture of a city rocked by violent crime, police brutality, incompetence, and corruption. The “venerable [police] practice” of the “rough ride” (which prosecutors say killed Freddie Gray) is described. The murder total for May is given as “42 or 43,” with the note that “as this is Baltimore, no one can agree on the actual number of dead.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, cops, and police brass all come under fire. Sheila Dixon even gets a mention, as does a former police commissioner who went to jail for corruption.
The implicit victims of this corruption are not marked for sympathy. Residents are referred to, if only in quotes, as “Baltimorons.” Citizens who now regularly film police officers are described as “aggressive citizens who have taken to stalking cops with cameras.”
Rather, Baltimore is rendered as a product of corruption so total that there is no statistic and no motive that can be trusted. It’s less a call to action than it is an exasperated zero-star review.
There is one person in the piece, besides the writer and H.L. Mencken, whose view we are encouraged to trust — a clerk at a supermarket check-out counter in Baltimore.
“I said to the clerk who waited on me, an older black woman, that we’d had a lot of rain last night,” Corbett writes. “But instead of the usual check-out-line small talk, we began to speak of Charleston, South Carolina, and Baltimore. She looked at me sadly and, referring to the heavy rain, said, ‘God is weeping for the country. God is weeping for Baltimore.'”
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