NOGC Happenings And Memories – 14 October 2011

by Jim on 2021/10/14

It was both a sign of the times and a sign of one’s reactive male youth, albeit fading, that prompted the outcomes from the incident on the afternoon of Friday 14 October 2011, and it was also an “it had to happen” thing.

The pictures started during a break from workplace that morning, probably to go to Subway on Fourth Street in Gretna, when I saw NOLR 1229, still in its Palmieri Paint scheme, parked in East Harvey.

That was a neat locomotive, and I wonder what became of it.

Hours later, in the mid afternoon after I got out of the paid-employment place, that’s when the incident happened on Madison Street.

I’m being deliberately vague about what this incident was, let alone the details of it, and I’m asking that anyone who is “in the know” who leaves a comment respect that and match that lack of specificity in your commentary. The long, indignation-tinged essay that I wrote about this incident was unpublished within a few years and remains in the drafts of the website; I predict that it will die with me.

Here comes the NOGC 500, what happened to be the last time that I photographed it moving under its own power.

I think that it’s really important to remember that this was right after the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, when we were still talking about how our response to the attacks changed us for the worse – or revealed darkness within us. Really, we should still be talking about this now, as I type this 10 years after the pictures were taken, which is to say, 20 years after the 9/11 attacks, but I think that we all have a better understanding of that problem now.

Here is what I wrote in the October 2011 Sampler essay.

In one respect, the way that I reacted – the long-ago unpublished angry essay that I wrote and published here – precipitated what I thought was a really needed conversation about the topic of rights, which was the whole point. In another respect, though, I regret how I handled it. However, as I said at the time, I needed some way of not only expressing my indignation but also do so in a way that would get the attention of the offending parties.

The offending party, however, was really young at the time, and, as best as I can tell, he is, even to this day, just a swell dude. The nature of public shaming in the internet era is that it often continues long after the offending party has gotten the needed message, and it increases acrimony.

So, how do I reconcile not regretting the conversation about rights started by how I handled the incident and my regret about how I handled the incident? I guess that I don’t, except to say that if it were to happen today, a decade later, I would handle it differently; I believe that “differently” in this context means “much-less dramatically.”

How is that?

What happened happened, we learned things that we would not have learned had what happened not happened, and that’s just that. Since nobody can take anything back, and since we are who we are because of what any of us did, the question of whether any of us could “take it back if I could” is not particularly relevant.

Like I said, though, were something like this to happen today, I’d handle it different.

Would I completely brush it off? Probably not, but I guess that I just don’t care as much as I once did, even if harmful ideas must be challenged, which gets me to why I couldn’t have, as some suggested at the time, just “don’t worry about it.” I could have just done nothing, and, for all that we know, my life would be no different, no worse, today.

As we have since learned, as we have seen the results of not having challenged racist statements from our relatives, though, bad ideas going unchallenged is bad ideas propagating. Not challenging bad ideas leads to their acceptance, and acceptance of bad ideas gets people hurt and freedom eroded.

That’s why I did what I did then.

That’s why I cannot regret it, even if I also wish to forget about it and am somewhat embarrassed by it.

So, why did I unpublish that old post, and why do I have no intention to ever republish it? It’s true that I don’t want to cause any additional consternation for anyone else, but the truth is that I am also rather embarrassed by it now, and part of it is due that I had to embarrass someone else in the process. I still feel rather icky about the whole thing, and I am sure that I always will.

So, if I am rather embarrassed by it, do I regret it? Well, no, because, as I said, I really wanted that conversation to happen and did not – and still do not – see another way that I could have made it happen, and I might still be poisoned with anger to this day had I not cathartically let out what I let out in that indignant rant. So, while I really wish that I hadn’t done it, I don’t regret it, as contradictory as that may seem.

As I have had to accept, often in life, to accomplish what you want, you have to be willing to be at least mildly embarrassed.


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