April 17, 2021

Bob Ross, resurrected to paint a Mountain Dew ad, is welcome even as it obstructs the "Repo Man" clip I wanted to find.

For once, I am not annoyed — I am the opposite of annoyed — by the ad YouTube served up in front of the video I wanted to watch: 


Well, that's just great. Good to know the beloved dead man is refreshed. 

There is a Bible verse about tending to the thirst of a dead man: "And he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'" 

Yet no one pictures Bob Ross in hell. It is more likely that you would picture him in a Heaven that resembles his paintings, and I'm sure that picture has abundant water features, with painterly tree reflections. Still, you weren't picturing Paradise with soda, were you? Maybe you were! There's that song about Paradise with cigarette trees and a soda water fountain.

Now to the serious business of this post, the "Repo Man" clip: 


That's the pine-tree-shaped air freshener that the repo man will find in every repossessed car. I needed to look up that clip because I was about to read the NYT article, "Why Police Can Stop Motorists With Air Fresheners Hanging in Their Cars/A majority of states have laws making it illegal to hang anything from a rearview mirror that obscures a driver’s view. But critics say the laws are often used as pretexts." 

I haven't read the article yet, but I'd say that hanging something from the rearview mirror is an activity associated with the lower class. There's a bit of a safety issue, but it's easy to suspect that these laws justify traffic stops of people the police might want to intrude upon. And we have a recent incident in which a young man was shot to death, apparently by accident, after he was stopped, we were originally told, for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.

Now, I've read the article. I'd summarize it like this. There's a legitimate, though fairly small, safety issue, but not every car with something hanging from the rearview mirror is stopped, so there is room for racial animus to play a role in who is stopped and how that person is treated after they are stopped.

The article ends with an anecdote about a woman who, at 35 years of age, still feels traumatized by a traffic stop over an air freshener that happened when she was in high school:

“He kept asking me questions like he wanted to trip me up,” said Ms. Mixon, who is Black....

“If I get in a car with somebody and they have something hanging from their mirror, I’m like, ‘Can you take that down?’” Ms. Mixon said. “Being a Black passenger might trigger something in a racist cop, so let’s just remove that altogether from the situation.”


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