With Respect

Hunger striking is a peculiar form of protest. Superficially a desperate plea for recognition from those with power over us, its logic hinges, paradoxically, on the striker’s recognition of their humanity. A hunger strike only makes sense if those against whom one is protesting retain the ability to empathize with the suffering of those who disagree with them. In a peculiar way, the striker is forced to give credit to his adversaries. He’s compelled by the logic of his protest to bet that they will turn out to be a certain type of adversary; to gamble that they will place at least some value on the life of those that disagree with him. 

That’s the bet Franklin Brito made. And lost. 

And yet, paradoxically, it’s those sections of opinion that have been most adamant, over the last few years, that Chávez lacks the capacity for even minimal empathy that have shown themselves most outraged by his death. It’s precisely the kinds of people who should have known that Brito’s wager was foolish who are leading the seedy campaign of ostentatious, politicized grieving that has followed his passing. It’s easy to come away with the sense that they needed his death to prove their point.

I’d hoped to steer clear of the subject altogether, because I find the entire public discussion over this man’s death bizarre and unsettling. And sad, especially. Sad, because it’s so useless. Those who refuse to see the mountains of evidence of Chávez’s sociopathy – a group that, paradoxically, seems to have included Brito – certainly won’t come around due to his.

Brito’s was a death that serves no purpose, followed by a hailstorm of posturing that degrades everyone.