ALS: what did it mean three months ago? Some of us may have known it as the disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and anyone with baseball knowledge might know it as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Most others probably wouldn’t have known about it at all, but that sure has changed. The ALS ice bucket challenge has been dominating the news, as well as your Facebook newsfeed, for the majority of the summer. The popularity of the ice bucket challenge has not only brought awareness to this disease, but also has, more importantly, raised a lot of money for research: about $98.2 million between July 29th and August 28th, according to BBC News.
The ALS ice bucket challenge will hopefully help find a cure for this disease. Many, however, have used the same idea to bring awareness to other issues. One such person is actor Orlando Jones, who dumped bullet shell casings on his head in response to the recent events in Ferguson, Miss. There have been both positive and negative responses to his challenge; I think it is not only inappropriate, but unhelpful.
Though many may not have heard of Jones, he has appeared in many TV shows and movies, including his current stint on the show “Sleepy Hollow.” In an article featured on Buzzfeed, he said that the purpose was to “bring attention to the disease of apathy.” Apathy is defined as the absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement. Essentially, apathy means not caring. To think that people do not care about what is happening in Ferguson and what happened to the young man involved is a rather ignorant stance. No one would want to see an American city filled with tanks and soldiers, and no one would ever wish for a teenager’s death.
Nevertheless, Jones claims the disease of apathy and lists both gun violence and “support of a disproportionate death of a young black man” as symptoms of this ‘disease.’ The word ‘support’ here just reiterates the inappropriateness of his argument. No one supports Michael Brown’s death; I would argue that the only people that could possibly be included in that category would be those who disagree with the belligerent actions of protestors, but these people are merely fighting against Ferguson becoming a war zone.
The ‘symptom’ of gun control is another point that comes up often in Brown’s subsequent interviews. These interviews are all prefaced with the fact that Jones is a lifetime NRA member. This could imply that Jones couldn’t be turning this video into an anti-gun rights argument. When asked about this gun control symptom in response to his NRA membership, he compares himself to Jackie Robinson entering the MLB, meaning that you must join the association in order to change it. Frankly, I think he is just covering his bases. He couldn’t have a crusade against apathy and gun violence while legitimately supporting the NRA. Even more unfitting is his comparison to Jackie Robinson, who endured hatred to integrate the most important form of entertainment in American history. Comparing his actions of joining the NRA to what Robinson did is just baffling.
Jones continues his interview with Buzzfeed to say that “unlike ALS, our disease has a cure,” and that we must “treat the symptoms.” No matter where you stand on the second amendment, you know that you can’t treat gun violence like you treat a fever. The gun violence that led to Michael Brown’s death is not avoidable with stricter gun laws. He was shot by a police officer, but police officers need to carry guns for their own protection and the protection of others. This particular officer used his gun unwarrantably, but there are people like him in every profession. We have already proved that there is little support for this killing.
Comparing ALS, a real medical disease that affects thousands of people, to a false accusation – that no one cares about the death of teenage boy – is inappropriate. Though Jones’ heart may be in the right place by wanting to “reverse the hate,” using this ALS challenge as his medium was inappropriate and not going to help the situation in Ferguson.